“Once upon a time the great saint Narada, after visiting Lord Narayana in the Vaikunthas, went to Prayaga to bathe at the confluence of three rivers-the Ganges, Yamuna and Sarasvati.
The great saint Narada is so liberated that he can go to the Vaikuntha planets to see Narayana and then immediately come to this planet in the material world and go to Prayaga to bathe in the confluence of three rivers. The word tri-veni refers to a confluence of three rivers. This confluence is still visited by many hundreds of thousands of people who go there to bathe, especially during the month of January (Magha-mela). A liberated person who has no material body can go anywhere and everywhere; therefore a living entity is called sarva-ga, which indicates that he can go anywhere and everywhere. Presently scientists are trying to go to other planets, but due to their material bodies, they are not free to move at will. However, when one is situated in his original spiritual body, he can move anywhere and everywhere without difficulty. Within this material world there is a planet called Siddhaloka, whose inhabitants can go from one planet to another without the aid of a machine or space rocket. In the material world every planet has a specific advantage (vibhuti-bhinna). In the spiritual world, however, all the planets and their inhabitants are composed of spiritual energy. Because there are no material impediments, it is said that everything in the spiritual world is one.
“Narada Muni saw that a deer was lying on the path through the forest and that it was pierced by an arrow. It had broken legs and was twisting due to much pain.
“Farther ahead, Narada Muni saw a boar pierced by an arrow. Its legs were also broken, and it was twisting in pain.
“When he went farther, he saw a rabbit that was also suffering. Narada Muni was greatly pained at heart to see living entities suffer so.
“When Narada Muni advanced farther, he saw a hunter behind a tree. This hunter was holding arrows, and he was ready to kill more animals.
“The hunter’s body was blackish. He had reddish eyes, and he appeared fierce. It was as if the superintendent of death, Yamaraja, was standing there with bows and arrows in his hands.
“When Narada Muni left the forest path and went to the hunter, all the animals immediately saw him and fled.
“When all the animals fled, the hunter wanted to chastise Narada with abusive language, but due to Narada’s presence, he could not utter anything abusive.
“The hunter addressed Narada Muni: ‘O gosvami! O great saintly person! Why have you left the general path through the forest to come to me? Simply by seeing you, all the animals I was hunting have now fled.’
“Narada Muni replied, ‘Leaving the path, I have come to you to settle a doubt that is in my mind.
” ‘I was wondering whether all the boars and other animals that are half-killed belong to you.’ The hunter replied, ‘Yes, what you are saying is so.’
“Narada Muni then inquired, ‘Why did you not kill the animals completely? Why did you half-kill them by piercing their bodies with arrows?’
“The hunter replied, ‘My dear saintly person, my name is Mrgari, enemy of animals. My father taught me to kill them in that way.
” ‘When I see half-killed animals suffer, I feel great pleasure.’
“Narada Muni then told the hunter, ‘I have one thing to beg of you.’ The hunter replied, ‘You may take whatever animals or anything else you would like.
” ‘I have many skins if you would like them. I shall give you either a deerskin or a tiger skin.’
“Narada Muni said, ‘I do not want any of the skins. I am only asking one thing from you in charity.
” ‘I beg you that from this day on you will kill animals completely and not leave them half-dead.’
“The hunter replied, ‘My dear sir, what are you asking of me? What is wrong with the animals’ lying there half-killed? Will you please explain this to me?’
“Narada Muni replied, ‘If you leave the animals half-dead, you are purposefully giving them pain. Therefore you will have to suffer in retaliation.’
This is an authoritative statement given by the greatest authority, Narada Muni. If one gives another living entity unnecessary pain, one will certainly be punished by the laws of nature by a similar pain. Although the hunter Mrgari was uncivilized, he still had to suffer the results of his sinful activities. However, if a civilized man kills animals regularly in a slaughterhouse to maintain his so-called civilization, using scientific methods and machines to kill animals, one cannot even estimate the suffering awaiting him. So-called civilized people consider themselves very advanced in education, but they do not know about the stringent laws of nature. According to nature’s law, it is a life for a life. We can hardly imagine the sufferings of one who maintains a slaughterhouse. He endures suffering not only in this life, but in his next life also. It is said that a hunter, murderer or killer is advised not to live and not to die. If he lives, he accumulates even more sins, which bring about more suffering in a future life. He is advised not to die because his dying means that he immediately begins to endure more suffering. Therefore he is advised not to live and not to die.
As followers of the Vedic principles, we accept the statements of Narada Muni in this regard. It is our duty to see that no one suffers due to sinful activities. Foolish rascals are described in Bhagavad-gita as mayayapahrta-jnanah, which indicates that although they are superficially educated, maya has taken their real knowledge away. Such people are presently leading human society. In Srimad-Bhagavatam they are also described as andha yathandhair upaniyamanah. These rascals are themselves blind, and yet they are leading others who are blind. When people follow such leaders, they suffer unlimited pains in the future. Despite so-called advancement, all this is happening. Who is safe? Who is happy? Who is without anxiety?
“Narada Muni continued, ‘My dear hunter, your business is killing animals. That is a slight offense on your part, but when you consciously give them unnecessary pain by leaving them half-dead, you incur very great sins.’
This is another good instruction to animal killers. There are always animal killers and animal eaters in human society because less civilized people are accustomed to eating meat. In Vedic civilization, meat-eaters are advised to kill an animal for the goddess Kali or a similar demigod. This is in order not to give the animal unnecessary pain, as slaughterhouses do. In the balidana sacrifice to a demigod, it is recommended to cut the throat of an animal with one slice. This should be done on a dark-moon night, and the painful noises expressed by the animal at the time of being slaughtered are not to be heard by anyone. There are also many other restrictions. Slaughter is only allowed once a month, and the killer of the animal has to suffer similar pains in his next life. At the present moment, so-called civilized men do not sacrifice animals to a deity in a religious or ritualistic way. They openly kill animals daily by the thousands for no purpose other than the satisfaction of the tongue. Because of this the entire world is suffering in so many ways. Politicians are unnecessarily declaring war, and, according to the stringent laws of material nature, massacres are taking place between nations.
gunaih karmani sarvasah
kartaham iti manyate
“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Bg. 3.27) The laws of prakrti (nature) are very stringent. No one should think that he has the freedom to kill animals and not suffer the consequences. One cannot be safe by doing this. Narada Muni herein says that animal killing is offensive, especially when animals are given unnecessary pain. Meat-eaters and animal killers are advised not to purchase meat from the slaughterhouse. They can worship Kali once a month, kill some unimportant animal and eat it. Even by following this method, one is still an offender.
“Narada Muni continued, ‘All the animals that you have killed and given unnecessary pain will kill you one after the other in your next life and in life after life.’
This is another authoritative statement made by the great sage Narada. Those who kill animals and give them unnecessary pain-as people do in slaughterhouses-will be killed in a similar way in the next life and in many lives to come. One can never be excused from such an offense. If one kills many thousands of animals in a professional way so that other people can purchase the meat to eat, one must be ready to be killed in a similar way in his next life and in life after life. There are many rascals who violate their own religious principles. According to Judeo-Christian scriptures, it is clearly said, “Thou shalt not kill.” Nonetheless, giving all kinds of excuses, even the heads of religions indulge in killing animals while trying to pass as saintly persons. This mockery and hypocrisy in human society bring about unlimited calamities; therefore occasionally there are great wars. Masses of such people go out onto battlefields and kill themselves. Presently they have discovered the atomic bomb, which is simply awaiting wholesale destruction. If people want to be saved from the killing business life after life, they must take to Krsna consciousness and cease sinful activity. We recommend that everyone abandon meat-eating, illicit sex, intoxication and gambling. When one gives up these sinful activities, he can understand Krsna and take to Krsna consciousness. We therefore request everyone to abandon sinful activity and chant the Hare Krsna mantra. In this way people can save themselves from repeated birth and death.
“In this way, through the association of the great sage Narada Muni, the hunter was a little convinced of his sinful activity. He therefore became somewhat afraid due to his offenses.
This is the effect of associating with a pure devotee. Our preachers who are preaching Krsna consciousness all over the world should follow in the footsteps of Narada Muni and become purified by following the four principles and chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. This will make them fit to become Vaisnavas. Then, when they speak to sinful people about the teachings of this Krsna consciousness movement, people will be affected and take the instructions. We receive instructions in devotional service through the disciplic succession. Narada Muni is our original guru because he is the spiritual master of Vyasadeva. Vyasadeva is the spiritual master of our disciplic succession; therefore we should follow in the footsteps of Narada Muni and become pure Vaisnavas. A pure Vaisnava is one who has no ulterior motive. He has totally dedicated himself to the service of the Lord. He does not have material desires, and he is not interested in so-called learning and philanthropic work. The so-called learned scholars and philanthropists are actually karmis and jnanis, and some are actually misers engaged in sinful activity. All are condemned because they are not devotees of Lord Krsna.
This is a chance to become purified by associating with this Krsna consciousness persons and strictly following the rules and regulations. By chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, one can become free from all contamination, especially contamination brought about by the killing of animals. Lord Krsna Himself requested:
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah
“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” (Bg. 18.66)
We should take this instruction from Krsna and follow in the footsteps of Narada Muni in the disciplic succession. If we simply surrender unto Krsna’s lotus feet and take this Krsna consciousness movement seriously, we can be freed from the karma incurred by sin. If we are intelligent enough, we shall engage in the loving service of the Lord. Then our lives will be successful, and we shall not have to suffer like the hunter life after life. By killing animals, not only will we be bereft of the human form but we will have to take an animal form and somehow or other be killed by the same type of animal we have killed. This is the law of nature. The Sanskrit word mamsa means “meat.” It is said: mam sah khadati iti mamsah. That is, “I am now eating the flesh of an animal who will some day in the future be eating my flesh.”
“The hunter then admitted that he was convinced of his sinful activity, and he said, ‘I have been taught this business from my very childhood. Now I am wondering how I can become freed from these unlimited volumes of sinful activity.’
This kind of admission is very beneficial as long as one does not again commit sin. Cheating and hypocrisy are not tolerated by higher authorities. If one understands what sin is, he should give it up with sincerity and regret and surrender unto the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead through His agent, the pure devotee. In this way, one can be freed from the reactions of sin and make progress in devotional service. However, if one continues committing sins after making some atonement, he will not be saved. In the sastras, such atonement is compared to an elephant’s bathing. An elephant takes a very good bath and cleanses its body very nicely, but as soon as it comes out of the water, it picks up some dust on the shore and throws it all over its body. Atonement may be carried out very nicely, but it will not help a person if he continues committing sins. Therefore the hunter first admitted his sinful activity before the saintly person Narada and then asked how he could be saved.
“The hunter continued, ‘My dear sir, please tell me how I can be relieved from the reactions of my sinful life. Now I fully surrender unto you and fall down at your lotus feet. Please deliver me from sinful reactions.’
By the grace of Narada Muni, the hunter came to his good senses and immediately surrendered unto the saint’s lotus feet. This is the process. By associating with a saintly person, one is able to understand the reactions of his sinful life. When one voluntarily surrenders to a saintly person who is a representative of Krsna and follows his instructions, one can become freed from sinful reaction. Krsna demands the surrender of a sinful man, and Krsna’s representative gives the same instructions. The representative of Krsna never tells his disciple, “Surrender unto me.” Rather he says, “Surrender unto Krsna.” If the disciple accepts this principle and surrenders himself through the representative of Krsna, his life is saved.
“Narada Muni assured the hunter, ‘If you listen to my instructions, I shall find the way you can be liberated.’
Gaurangera bhakta-gane jane jane sakti dhare. The purport of this song is that the devotees of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are very powerful, and each and every one of them can deliver the whole world. What, then, to speak of Narada Muni? If one follows the instructions of Narada Muni, one can be delivered from any amount of sinful reactions. This is the process. One must follow the instructions of a spiritual master; then one will certainly be delivered from all sinful reaction. This is the secret of success. Yasya deve para bhaktir yatha deve tatha gurau. If one has unflinching faith in Krsna and the spiritual master, the result is tasyaite kathita hy arthah prakasante mahatmanah: all the conclusions of revealed scriptures will be open to such a person. A pure devotee of Krsna can make the same demands that Narada Muni is making. He says, “If you follow my instructions, I shall take responsibility for your liberation.” A pure devotee like Narada can give assurance to any sinful man because by the grace of the Lord such a devotee is empowered to deliver any sinful person if that person follows the principles set forth.
“The hunter then said, ‘My dear sir, whatever you say I shall do.’ Narada immediately ordered him, ‘First of all, break your bow. Then I shall tell you what is to be done.’
This is the process of initiation. The disciple must admit that he will no longer commit sinful activity-namely illicit sex, meat-eating, gambling and intoxication. He promises to execute the order of the spiritual master. Then the spiritual master takes care of him and elevates him to spiritual emancipation.
“The hunter replied, ‘If I break my bow, how shall I maintain myself?’ Narada Muni replied, ‘Do not worry. I shall supply all your food every day.’
The source of our income is not actually the source of our maintenance. Every living being-from the great Brahma down to an insignificant ant-is being maintained by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman. The one Supreme Being, Krsna, maintains everyone. Our so-called source of income is our own choice only. If I wish to be a hunter, it will appear that hunting is the source of my income. If I become a brahmana and completely depend on Krsna, I do not conduct a business, but nonetheless my maintenance is supplied by Krsna. The hunter was disturbed about breaking his bow because he was worried about his income. Narada Muni assured the hunter because he knew that the hunter was not being maintained by the bow but by Krsna. Being the agent of Krsna, Narada Muni knew very well that the hunter would not suffer by breaking the bow. There was no doubt that Krsna would supply him food.
“Being thus assured by the great sage Narada Muni, the hunter broke his bow, immediately fell down at the saint’s lotus feet and fully surrendered. After this, Narada Muni raised him with his hand and gave him instructions for spiritual advancement.
This is the process of initiation. The disciple must surrender to the spiritual master, the representative of Krsna. The spiritual master, being in the disciplic succession stemming from Narada Muni, is in the same category with Narada Muni. A person can be relieved from his sinful activity if he surrenders to the lotus feet of a person who actually represents Narada Muni. Narada Muni gave instructions to the hunter after the hunter surrendered.
“Narada Muni then advised the hunter, ‘Return home and distribute whatever riches you have to the pure brahmanas who know the Absolute Truth. After distributing all your riches to the brahmanas, both you and your wife should leave home, taking only one cloth to wear.’
This is the process of renunciation at the stage of vanaprastha. After enjoying householder life for some time, the husband and wife must leave home and distribute their riches to brahmanas and Vaisnavas. One can keep his wife as an assistant in the vanaprastha stage. The idea is that the wife will assist the husband in spiritual advancement. Therefore Narada Muni advised the hunter to adopt the vanaprastha stage and leave home. It is not that a grhastha should live at home until he dies. Vanaprastha is preliminary to sannyasa.
“Narada Muni continued, ‘Leave your home and go to the river. There you should construct a small cottage, and in front of the cottage you should grow a tulasi plant on a raised platform.
” ‘After planting the tulasi tree before your house, you should daily circumambulate that tulasi plant, serve her by giving her water and other things, and continuously chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra.’
This is the beginning of spiritual life. After leaving householder life, one may go to a holy place, such as the bank of the Ganges or Yamuna, and erect a small cottage. A small cottage can be constructed without any expenditure. Four logs serving as pillars can be secured by any man from the forest. The roof can be covered with leaves, and one can cleanse the inside. Thus one can live very peacefully. In any condition, any man can live in a small cottage, plant a tulasi tree, water it in the morning, offer it prayers, and continuously chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. Thus one can make vigorous spiritual advancement. This is not at all difficult. One simply has to follow the instructions of the spiritual master strictly. Then everything will be successful in due course of time. As far as eating is concerned, there is no problem. If Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, supplies everyone with eatables, why should He not supply His devotee? Sometimes a devotee will not even bother to construct a cottage. He will simply go to live in a mountain cave. One may live in a cave, in a cottage beside a river, in a palace or in a big city like New York or London. In any case, a devotee can follow the instructions of his spiritual master and engage in devotional service by watering the tulasi plant and chanting the Hare Krsna mantra. Taking the advice of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and our spiritual master, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja, one can go to any part of the world and instruct people to become devotees of the Lord by following the regulative principles, worshiping the tulasi plant and continuously chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra.
“Narada Muni continued, ‘I shall send sufficient food to you both every day. You can take as much food as you want.’
When a person takes to Krsna consciousness, there is no need to care for material necessities. Krsna says that He personally carries all the necessities to His devotees.
ananyas cintayanto mam
ye janah paryupasate
yoga-ksemam vahamy aham
“Those who worship Me with love and devotion, meditating on My transcendental form-to them I carry what they lack and preserve what they have.” (Bg. 9.22) Why should one be anxious about the necessities of life? The principle should be that one should not want more than what is absolutely necessary. Narada Muni advises the hunter to accept only what is absolutely necessary for him and his wife. The devotee should always be alert to consume only those things that he absolutely requires and not create unnecessary needs.
“The three animals that were half-killed were then brought to their consciousness by the sage Narada. Indeed, the animals got up and swiftly fled.
“When the hunter saw the half-killed animals flee, he was certainly struck with wonder. He then offered his respectful obeisances to the sage Narada and returned home.
“After all this, Narada Muni went to his destination. After the hunter returned home, he exactly followed the instructions of his spiritual master, Narada.
For spiritual advancement one must have a bona fide spiritual master and follow his instructions in order to be assured of advancement.
“The news that the hunter had become a Vaisnava spread all over the village. Indeed, all the villagers brought alms and presented them to the Vaisnava who was formerly a hunter.
“In one day enough food was brought for ten or twenty people, but the hunter and his wife would accept only as much as they could eat.
“One day, while speaking to his friend Parvata Muni, Narada Muni requested him to go with him to see his disciple the hunter.
“When the saintly sages came to the hunter’s place, the hunter could see them coming from a distance.
“With great alacrity the hunter began to run toward his spiritual master, but he could not fall down and offer obeisances because ants were running hither and thither around his feet.
“Seeing the ants, the hunter whisked them away with a piece of cloth. After thus clearing the ants from the ground, he fell down flat to offer his obeisances.
The word danda means “rod,” and vat means “like.” To offer obeisances to the spiritual master, one must fall flat exactly as a rod falls on the ground. This is the meaning of the word dandavat.
“Narada Muni said, ‘My dear hunter, such behavior is not at all astonishing. A man in devotional service is automatically nonviolent. He is the best of gentlemen.
In this verse the word sadhu-varya means “the best of gentlemen.” At the present moment there are many so-called gentlemen who are expert in killing animals and birds. Nonetheless, these so-called gentlemen profess a type of religion that strictly prohibits killing. According to Narada Muni and Vedic culture, animal killers are not even gentlemen, to say nothing of being religious men. A religious person, a devotee of the Lord, must be nonviolent. Such is the nature of a religious person. It is contradictory to be violent and at the same time call oneself a religious person. Such hypocrisy is not approved by Narada Muni and the disciplic succession.
” ‘O hunter, good qualities like nonviolence, which you have developed, are not very astonishing, for those engaged in the Lord’s devotional service are never inclined to give pain to others because of envy.’
“The hunter then received both the great sages in the courtyard of his house. He spread out a straw mat for them to sit upon, and with great devotion he begged them to sit down.
“He then fetched water and washed the sages’ feet with great devotion. Then both husband and wife drank that water and sprinkled it on their heads.
This is the process one should follow when receiving the spiritual master or someone on the level of the spiritual master. When the spiritual master comes to the residence of his disciples, the disciples should follow in the footsteps of the former hunter. It doesn’t matter what one was before initiation. After initiation, one must learn the etiquette mentioned herein.
“When the hunter chanted the Hare Krsna maha-mantra before his spiritual master, his body trembled, and tears welled in his eyes. Filled with ecstatic love, he raised his hands and began to dance, waving his garments up and down.
“When Parvata Muni saw the ecstatic loving symptoms of the hunter, he told Narada, ‘Certainly you are a touchstone.’
When a touchstone touches iron, it turns the iron to gold. Parvata Muni called Narada Muni a touchstone because by his touch the hunter, who was lowest among men, became an elevated and perfect Vaisnava. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura said that the position of a Vaisnava can be tested by seeing how good a touchstone he is-that is, by seeing how many Vaisnavas he has made during his life. A Vaisnava should be a touchstone so that he can convert others to Vaisnavism by his preaching, even though people may be fallen like the hunter. There are many so-called advanced devotees who sit in a secluded place for their personal benefit. They do not go out to preach and convert others into Vaisnavas, and therefore they certainly cannot be called sparsa-mani, advanced devotees. Kanistha-adhikari devotees cannot turn others into Vaisnavas, but a madhyama-adhikari Vaisnava can do so by preaching. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu advised His followers to increase the numbers of Vaisnavas.
yare dekha, tare kaha ‘krsna’-upadesa
amara ajnaya guru hana tara’ ei desa
(Cc. Madhya 7.128)
It is Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s wish that everyone should become a Vaisnava and guru. Following the instructions of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His disciplic succession, one can become a spiritual master, for the process is very easy. One can go everywhere and anywhere to preach the instructions of Krsna. Bhagavad-gita is Krsna’s instructions; therefore the duty of every Vaisnava is to travel and preach Bhagavad-gita, either in his country or a foreign country. This is the test of sparsa-mani, following in the footsteps of Narada Muni.
“Parvata Muni continued, ‘My dear friend Narada Muni, you are glorified as the sage among the demigods. By your mercy, even a lowborn person like this hunter can immediately become attached to Lord Krsna.’
A pure Vaisnava believes in the statements of the sastras. This verse is quoted from Vedic literature, the Skanda Purana.
“Narada Muni then asked the hunter, ‘My dear Vaisnava, do you have some income for your maintenance?’ The hunter replied, ‘My dear spiritual master, whoever you send gives me something when he comes to see me.’
This confirms the statement in Bhagavad-gita (9.22) to the effect that the Lord carries all necessities to His Vaisnava devotee. Narada Muni asked the former hunter how he was being maintained, and he replied that everyone who came to see him brought him something for his maintenance. Krsna, who is situated in everyone’s heart, says, “I personally carry all necessities to a Vaisnava.” He can order anyone to execute this. Everyone is ready to give something to a Vaisnava, and if a Vaisnava is completely engaged in devotional service, he need not be anxious for his maintenance.
“The former hunter said, ‘Please do not send so may grains. Only send what is sufficient for two people, no more.’
The former hunter only wanted enough for two people to eat, no more. It is not necessary for a Vaisnava to keep a stock of food for the next day. He should receive only sufficient grains to last one day. The next day, he must again depend on the Lord’s mercy. This is the instruction of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. When His personal servant Govinda sometimes kept a stock of haritaki (myrobalan), Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu chastised him, saying, “Why did you keep a stock for the next day?” Srila Rupa Gosvami and others were begging daily from door to door for their sustenance, and they never attempted to stock their asrama with food for the next day. We should not materially calculate, thinking, “It is better to stock food for a week. Why give the Lord trouble by having Him bring food daily?” One should be convinced that the Lord will provide daily. There is no need to stock food for the next day.
“Narada Muni approved his not wanting more than a daily supply of food, and he blessed him, saying, ‘You are fortunate.’ Narada Muni and Parvata Muni then disappeared from that place.
“So far I have narrated the incident of the hunter. By hearing this narration, one can understand the influence derived by associating with devotees.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu wanted to stress that even a hunter, the lowest of men, could become a topmost Vaisnava simply by associating with Narada Muni or a devotee in his bona fide disciplic succession.
From Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lila
Original texts have been translated and commented on by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj