Obtaining the Results of Activities is Dependent upon the Body’s Partnership with the Mind
When Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu desired to visit South India alone, Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu respectfully requested and convinced Him to take with Him on His journey the brāhmaṇa Kālā Kṛṣṇadāsa. Along the way, Kālā Kṛṣṇadāsa became charmed by the Bhaṭṭathāris— a group of gypsies that increases its numbers by using women to allure outsiders—and left the association of Śrīman Mahāprabhu, but was quickly rescued by Śrīman Mahāprabhu Himself. The fact that Kālā Kṛṣṇadāsa was susceptible to the allurements of the Bhaṭṭathāris shows that although he was in the physical association of Śrīman Mahāprabhu, his mind was elsewhere.
Deriving the highest benefit from any activity is dependent upon one’s ability to fully and attentively absorb the mind in that particular activity. Activities performed only by body will mostly prove fruitless, because in such activities, the attentiveness of the mind has been withdrawn. Although a student attending college may have a perfect record of attendance, he will not pass his exams if he has not concentrated in his studies. Likewise, when one drives a car or operates machinery with a wandering mind, accidents are bound to happen.
During the time of Śrīla Prabhupāda Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, there was a brahmacārī who was residing in the maṭha for two to three years. One day, Śrīla Prabhupāda pointed to that bramhacārī and asked the nearby devotees, “Who is that person?”
Confused, His disciples replied, “Śrīla Prabhupāda, you know perfectly well he has been in the maṭha for some time. We cannot understand why you are asking this question.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda replied, “Truthfully, I have never seen this person in the maṭha.” The deep meaning of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s words is that although a person may physically reside in the maṭha for many years, he is not residing in the maṭha in the true sense unless his mind resides there, also.
Another time, a brahmacārī was quietly sitting alone, when Śrīla Prabhupāda pointed to him and asked the nearby devotees, “Why does this brahmacārī chatter so much? Tell him to remain quiet, if even for a moment.” After hearing Śrīla Prabhupāda’s words and witnessing his manifestation of omniscience, the devotees’ astonishment knew no bounds. They understood Śrīla Prabhupāda was pointing out that although the brahmacārī sat quietly and externally appeared peaceful, his mind was neither quiet nor peaceful.
The conclusion is that a person’s real position is determined not by his external activities, but by his consciousness during the performances of those activities.
Although Śrīla Svarūpa Dāmodara Gosvāmī had never physically gone to Śrī Vṛndāvana-dhāma, Śrīman Mahāprabhu is quoted in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya-līlā 14.217) as stating, “ĩho dāmodara-svarūpa-śuddha-vrajavāsī—This Svarūpa Dāmodara is a pure Vrajavāsī (resident of Vṛndāvana).”
Similarly, although Śrīla Prabodhānanda Sarasvatīpāda had never physically gone to Navadvīpadhāma, it would be impossible for learned persons to deduce this fact after reading his Śrī Navadvīpa- ṣaṭaka, in which he describes the astonishing glories of Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma.
There is a proverb in English: “You are where your mind is.” The mind connects the body and soul together, and so performing any activity with the body will not be of much benefit if the mind is absent. Conversely, the results of performing an activity may be achieved by one who performs that activity not by body, but by a fully absorbed mind. For example, although it may not be possible to physically perform vaiṣṇava-sevā, dhāma-parikramā, or reside in Vraja, a sādhaka will obtain astonishing results if he attentively performs these activities by mind.
In describing the pastimes and daily activities of Ambarīṣa Mahārāja, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam has mentioned that he first engaged his mind in remembering the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa before engaging his other faculties—his speech, hands, nose, ears, eyes and so on—in Kṛṣṇa’s service:
sa vai manaḥ kṛṣṇa-padāravindayor
karau harer mandira-mārjanādiṣu
ghrāṇaṁ ca tat-pāda-saroja-saurabhe
śrīmat-tulasyā rasanāṁ tad-arpite
pādau hareḥ kṣetra-padānusarpaṇe
kāmaṁ ca dāsye na tu kāma-kāmyayā
Ambarīṣa Mahārāja engaged his mind in serving the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, his words in describing the qualities of Śrī Bhagavān, his hands in cleaning Śrī Hari’s temple, and his ears in hearing Acyuta’s blissful pastimes. He engaged his eyes in seeing the Deity of Mukunda, different temples, and the holy places; all his bodily limbs in touching the bodies of Kṛṣṇa’s bhaktas; his nostrils in smelling the divine smell of tulasī offered to Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet; and his tongue in tasting the prasāda offered to Bhagavān. His feet were always engaged in walking to Bhagavān’s holy places, and he would pay obeisances to Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet. Ambarīṣa Mahārāja would offer garlands, sandalwood paste, bhoga, and similar paraphernalia in Bhagavān’s service, not with the desire to enjoy himself, but to receive the love for Śrī Kṛṣṇa that is present only in His śuddha-bhaktas.
Because Śrī Ambarīṣa Mahāraja performed these activities in the proper sequence by first engaging his mind, he received their true benefit: loving attachment for Bhagavān, which is the very life of His pure devotees.