Let us try to understand why Upadeshamrita or Nectar of Instruction (NOI) is considered a perfect guide for all the devotees of Krishna.
This book has many important guidelines which helps one to become a pure devotee of Krishna.
The book has been written by Srila Rupa Goswami who is one of the six prominent Gosvamis of Vrindavan.
These six Goswamis have played a pivotal role in re-establishing the worship of Lord Krishna based on the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
The six Gosvamis of Vrindavan are:
- Srila Rupa Gosvami
- Srila Sanatana Gosvami
- Srila Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami
- Srila Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami
- Srila Jiva Gosvami
- Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami
Srila Rupa Goswami who is a direct disciple of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is accepted as a leader of all the Goswamis of Vrindavan.
This book Upadeshamrita which is also known as “Nectar of Instruction (NOI)” in English helps us to understand the mission of Mahaprabhu.
What is the mission of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu?
Vedic literatures clearly say that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the supreme Personality of Godhead. He appeared in this world in the mood of Srimati Radharani having a golden complexion like Srimati Radharani.
He appeared on this planet in the glorious land of Mayapur to teach us how to love Krishna.
The conjugal love of Krishna with Srimati Radharani and other gopis are most exalted and it cannot be understood with any mundane knowledge. That love is pure, is sublime and is devoid of any tinge of lust.
But unfortunately, people out of ignorance misunderstand that love. So, Mahaprabhu came here to help us understand that transcendental love.
Instruction to write Upadeshamrita
We can understand the mood and mission of Mahaprabhu by reading the books written by the Gosvamis. Mahaprabhu wrote only 8 verses which is known as Siksastakam. However he trained many of his followers like Rupa Goswami and Sanantana Goswami and instructed them to write literatures which can help common people like you and me to become a sincere devotee of Krishna.
Following the instruction, Srila Rupa Goswami wrote many books such as Upadeśāmṛta, Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Vidagdha-mādhava and Lalita-mādhava. Among all these books, Upadeśāmṛta, is considered a must for those who have started practicing devotion to Krishna.
In fact, just by following the guidelines given in this book one can become a perfect devotee of Krishna and make his life successful.
The first duty of an aspiring devotee
In the preface of Upadeshamrita, Srila Prabhupada writes,” In all spiritual affairs, one’s first duty is to control his mind and senses.”
We all suffer in this world because of our uncontrolled mind and senses. In fact, the hero of Mahabharata war, Arjuna, without any hesitation tell Krishna that it is easy to control the wind than to control the mind. Bhagavad Gita 6.24.
Unless our mind and senses are under our control and we are not under its control it is not possible to practice devotion to Krishna.
The book talks in detail about the importance of controlling our mind and senses. It not just talks about the importance but also gives many practical guidelines as how we can accomplish this.
What happens if we do not control our mind and senses?
Many times, we may be practicing devotional life for many years, but we may not see progress in our spiritual life. When I say progress, it means internal progress. Externally we may dress like a devotee and may even speak eloquent philosophy but that is not the most important thing.
Yes it is true that as devotees we should wear devotional dress as far as possible and also have good knowledge of Krishna conscious philosophy but if we are not able to internally purify ourselves then it is not going to help us a lot.
When we practice devotion then automatically name, fame and money start coming. Many a times we get attached to it. And instead of developing taste in chanting the holy names of Krishna, in reading spiritual books like the books written by Srila Prabhupada, we start devising means by which we can earn more name and fame.
We should never think that we have become an advanced devotee and start disregarding the guidelines of the scriptures.
We need to constantly check if the vices of our hearts like lust, greed, pride, anger, envy, illusion and false ego are decreasing or not. If not, then it means that we are not sincerely practicing devotional life.
And no one is going to check our heart. It is our responsibility to monitor and examine our internal progress. If we are not focusing on our internal purification, then it is just a matter of time that we will start feeling frustrated in our spiritual life.
So, we see that many senior devotees even sannyasis start facing difficulties even though they might have been practicing devotional life for several years.
This is why great personalities write such books so that we can practice devotion to Krishna with proper understanding and not whimsically.
Krishna has given us free will. He has given us the freedom to make choices in our life. If we practice devotional life without following the guidelines of the scriptures, we will continue to suffer in this world.
But if we choose to practice devotion to Krishna as per the guidelines of the scriptures like Nectar of Instruction (NOI), then we will be able to elevate our consciousness which and make our life successful.
Why it is necessary to come to the stage of goodness?
In this world we are always under the control of the three modes of material nature – goodness, passion, and ignorance. Most of the time we are either in ignorance or in passion. In fact, we keep on oscillating between these two modes.
If we are in passion and ignorance making progress in spiritual life is very difficult.
This book helps us to transcend the lower modes and come to the stage of goodness which is conducive for our devotional life.
Srila Prabhupada writes, “One must promote himself to the platform of goodness, sattva-guṇa, by following the instructions of Rūpa Gosvāmī, and then everything concerning how to make further progress will be revealed.”
The greatest benefit of being in goodness is that at this stage how to make further progress in spiritual life is revealed.
Are we Gosvami or Godasa?
To become a perfect devotee of the Lord it is imperative that we subdue the urges of our mind and senses.
Those who achieve this feat is given the title of gosvami. Go means senses and svami means master. Those who master the art of controlling the mind and senses get the title of Gosvami.
But those who fail to do so get the title of Godasa i.e. slave (dasa) of the senses (go).
We have to become a perfect Gosvami. Then only it is possible to become a perfect devotee of Krishna. Else we will continue to suffer in this world.
Upadeshamrita helps to attain the topmost stage of devotional life
There are nine stages in devotional life beginning with sraddha. The eleven verses of Upadeshamrita or Nectar of Instruction (NOI) gradually takes us from the first stage (Sraddha) of devotional life to the topmost stage (Prema). Different verses of the book help us to come to a specific stage of devotional life as follows:
- Sraddha (Text 1 – 3)
- Sadhu – Sangah (Text 4 -6)
- Bhajana – Kriya (Text 7)
- Anartha – Nivrttih (Text 7)
- Nistha (Text 7)
- Rucih (Text 7)
- Asaktih (Text 8)
- Bhavah (Text 9 – 11)
- Prema (Text 9 – 11)
The book teaches us to practice devotion to Krishna with right attitude. It is a perfect guide for all the devotees. It has the first set of instructions for the neophyte devotees. If we follow these instructions as it is then we will surely attain Krishna.