Since last few
months I have come across devotees who have lost their chanting beads. If this
in itself was not bad enough, then what was even more painful for them was that
in all the cases, save one, their spiritual master declined to chant again on
new chanting beads.
For the devotees the most precious and dear most treasure are their chanting beads- on which their spiritual master has chanted and which they had been given at the time of their initiation ceremony. If the chanting beads are misplaced or forgotten (either of which is very rare) it’s like a calamity! For devotees it is an unbearable wait till their chanting beads are found.
Past week I came
across a wonderful pastime of Srila Prabhupada which was an eye opener for me.
Along with the same I am also sharing some sweet, and instructive, pastimes
devotees had with Srila Prabhupada over their misplaced beads and bead bags.
Over the past few days Prabhupada has given many small but significant instructions on a variety of issues. For example, a devotee who lost his original beads gave me a new set for Prabhupada to sanctify by chanting on them. Prabhupada agreed, but mentioned that this was not really necessary because it is the chanting of the devotee that is sanctified at initiation, not the beads.
(Transcendental Diary by Hari Sauri Dasa, vol. 1, chapter 2 )
Best to cultivate a heart connection
After leaving San Moritz we spent one day in an exclusive hotel overlooking the Rhine River in Zurich. Srila Prabhupada had a room and his entourage stayed together in the room next door. They were not adjoining rooms, however. When it was time for his massage, I had to go into his room to change my clothes to avoid walking in the hallway in my gumcha. One day when I finished giving him a massage, I inadvertently left my bead bag in his room.
They were not the japa beads Srila Prabhupada had chanted on at my initiation two years earlier. Unfortunately, I lost them in New Vrindaban. I considered asking Srila Prabhupada to chant on another set of beads for me but, I didn’t want to admit how careless I had been. My bead bag was prasadam given to me by His Divine Grace. When I returned to Srila Prabhupada’s room, I noticed, to my delight, his hand in my bead bag. For the next half hour, I joyfully watched as he chanted on my beads. Again Srila Prabhupada fulfilled my desire without me asking. I waited until he put my bead bag down and took my newly sanctified beads to our quarters. Elated, I bragged to the others how a miracle had just taken place.
(What Is The Difficulty by Sruta Kirti dasa, chapter 63)
But don’t be neglectful
“All these initiation beads should be kept very carefully and protected. It is not a question of changing beads, but this carelessness, of losing beads, is not very good. You are very intelligent boy, so you should be careful and instruct others also. So keep your beads in a bag and keep the bag around your neck. Then you won’t lose.”
(letter to Hrdayananda, 6th July, 1971)
Show respect by keeping it clean
Bhakti Vikasa Swami: Srila Prabhupada was sitting on his vyasasana that was not exactly a vyasasana but it was a special raised seat. To Srila Prabhupada’s right and a little in front of him was a senior devotee who had his japa beads around his neck and he was chanting on them. When Srila Prabhupada noticed that he asked him, “Where is your bead bag?” This devotee said, “It’s being washed, Srila Prabhupada”, and then Prabhupada turned to Harikesh Maharaj and asked, “Some bead bags have been given?” Harikesh said, “Yes, Prabhupada.” Prabhupada said, “Bring one and give it to him.” Harikesh brought the bead bag and then Prabhupada told the devotee who had been chanting, “Always keep your beads in a bead bag.” He said, “You should have two bead bags. When one is being washed use the other one.”
(Srila Prabhupada – Remembrances, chapter 51)
Balai: In Boston in 1968 I was in Srila Prabhupada’s quarters with Himavati and Hamsadutta and others. Himavati had just made Srila Prabhupada a nice bead bag and gave it to him. Her husband Hamsadutta had his beads around his neck because he had just washed his bead bag and it was drying. Srila Prabhupada offered Hamsadutta this new bead bag and Hamsadutta said, “No, Srila Prabhupada, that’s yours”. Srila Prabhupada said, “What’s mine is yours, what’s yours is mine. Everything belongs to Krishna.”
(Srila Prabhupada – Remembrances, chapter 48)
This is our process
So our…, this is the process. We have got this bead bag, and within this bag there is bead, and we chant each… We capture each bead and chant,
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna , Hare Hare Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
One bead equals sixteen times. So the whole bead chain there is hundred and eight, so one round means about seventeen hundred. In this way, our disciples are advised to chant at least sixteen rounds. This is our daily duty. It takes about two hours, and after that we are engaged in so many other businesses. Somebody is typing or printing books, somebody is going to sell books, somebody is collecting subscription, somebody is cooking for the temple Deity, Radha-Krishna. So in this way our inmates, or our members, are always engaged. Kirtaniya sada hari.
Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam are two most important scriptures for Kali Yuga, they have specifically manifested for us kali yugians. If we sincerely try to serve these two transcendental scriptures then we can unlock many hidden gems. Let us take a look at the famous verse from Bhagavad gita
One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.
As we read the above verse it looks too simplistic, as if Krishna is simply encouraging everyone to accept His shelter by holding a big carrot in front of us! Rather, coming out from the lotus like mouth of Krishna, every single verse of Bhagavad Gita is Absolute and so is its conclusion and promise. Srila Prabhupada further declares in his purport –
He who accepts this truth on the strength of the authority of the Vedas and of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and who does not waste time in philosophical speculations attains the highest perfectional stage of liberation. Simply by accepting this truth on faith, one can, without a doubt, attain liberation.
The above statements may baffle us, especially devotees. We already know that Krishna is the Supreme personality of Godhead, we know about Krishna’s transcendental appearance and activities but liberation seems a bit far. But then how much do we even really know Vrajendra Nandan Krishna, Krishna of Vrindavan.
Both the verse and its purport are ‘packed’ and we can unpack then in multiple ways. Today, however let us unpack it from the angle of Krishna’s birth, how and where exactly did Vrajendra Nandan Krishna appeared.
Scriptures say that Svayam Bhagavan, Sri Vrajendra Nandan Krishna, does not take one step out of Vrindavan. Many of us may have read the pastime when Akrura came to invite Krishna and Balaram to Mathura, the two brothers he took with him to Mathura were a little different then whom he assumed accompanied him.
Vrajendra Nandan Krishna
Nanda Maharaj returned to Vrindavan without Krishna and Balaram. He was accompanied only by the cowherd boys and men. It was certainly a very pathetic scene for the gopis, Mother Yashoda, Srimati Radharani and all the other residents of Vrindavan. Many devotees have tried to make adjustments to Krishna’s being away from Vrindavan because, according to expert opinion, Krishna, the original Supreme Personality of Godhead, never goes even a step out of Vrindavan. He always remains there. The explanation of expert devotees is that Krishna was actually not absent from Vrindavan; He came back with Nanda Maharaj as promised.
When Krishna was starting for Mathura on the chariot driven by Akrura and the gopis were blocking the way, Krishna assured them that He was coming back just after finishing His business in Mathura. He told them not to be overwhelmed and in this way pacified them. But when He failed to come back with Nanda Maharaj, it appeared that He either cheated them or could not keep His promise. Expert devotees, however, have decided that Krishnawas neither a cheater nor a breaker of promises. Krishna, in His original identity, returned with Nanda Maharaj and stayed with the gopis and Mother Yashoda in His bhäva expansion. Krishna and Balaram remained in Mathura not in Their original forms but in Their expansions as Vasudeva and Sakarshana. The real Krishna and Balaram were in Vrindavan in Their bhäva manifestation, whereas in Mathura They appeared in the prabhava and vaibhava expansions. This is the expert opinion of advanced devotees of Krishna. Externally, however, They were absent from Vrindavan.
(Krishna Book, chapter 46)
Now a natural question may arise that if Vrajendra Nandan Krishna, the original Supreme Personality of Godhead, never takes even a step out of Vrindavan then how did He take birth in Mathura?
Let us try solve this mystery by seeing it from the eyes of our acharya and the scriptures.
Thereafter, exactly when Vasudeva, being inspired by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, was about to take the newborn child from the delivery room, Yoga-māyā, the Lord’s spiritual energy, took birth as the daughter of the wife of Mahārāja Nanda.
Srila Vishvanath Chakravarty Thakura discusses that Krishna appeared simultaneously as the son of Devaki and as the son of Yashoda, along with the spiritual energy Yoga-māyā. As the son of Devaki, He first appeared as Vishnu, and because Vasudeva was not in the position of pure affection for Krishna, Vasudeva worshiped his son as Lord Vishnu. Yashoda, however, pleased her son Krishna without understanding His Godhood. This is the difference between Krishna as the son of Yashoda and as the son of Devaki. This is explained by Vishvanath Chakravarty on the authority of Hari-vaṁśa.
What Srila Prabhupada is disclosing above is simply astonishing! Prabhupada is divulging to us that Krishna appeared simultaneously in two places- as the son of Devaki and as son of mother Yashoda, in Vrindavan.
Let us read the exact commentary of Srila Vishvanath Chakravarty Thakura, which Srila Prabhupada quoted above.
In the Hari Vamsa is says that that in the eighth of her pregnancy Devaki and Yashoda gave birth at the same time to their Children. But here in Bhagavatam it is stated that that Yashoda gave birth after Devaki. How to correlate the two contradictory statements? Exactly when Devaki gave birth to Krishna, Yashoda also gave birth to Krishna. After that, as described in this verse, Yashoda birth to Yagamaya. Yashoda gave birth to two children at different times. This is confirmed in SB 10.4.9, for when Yogamaya falls from the hands of Kansa, she is called younger sister of Krishna. But when Krishna was born to Yashoda it is not stated that he had four hands. It is understood that He was born from Yashoda with two hands.
(Srila Vishvanath Chakravarti Thakura purport to SB 10.3.47)
Srila Vishvanath Chakravarty Thakurais revealing to us that mother Yashoda gave birth to two kids. A son, Krishna, was born at the very same time when Lord Vishnu appeared as the son of Devaki. (Hence Krishna’s birth is rightly celebrated as Janamashtami everywhere and not on Nandotsava as some devotees tend to suggest.) Second child, as we know, was Yogamaya, Krishna’s ‘younger’ sister.
How can the umbilical cord be still intact if kids were exchanged in the night!
Srimad Bhagavatam itself gives us a hint about this secret while describing how Nanda Maharaj celebrated Krishna’s ‘Jata-Karma’ ceremony, cutting of the umbilical cord connecting the child and placenta.
Sukhdeva Gosvami said: Nanda Maharaj was naturally very magnanimous, and when Lord Sri Krishna appeared as his son, he was overwhelmed by jubilation. Therefore, after bathing and purifying himself and dressing himself properly, he invited brahmanas who knew how to recite Vedic mantras. After having these qualified brahmanas recite auspicious Vedic hymns, he arranged to have the Vedic birth ceremony celebrated for his newborn child according to the rules and regulations, and he also arranged for worship of the demigods and forefathers.
Srila Prabhupada writes in the purport of the above verse :
The jāta-karma ceremony can take place when the umbilical cord, connecting the child and the placenta, is cut. However, since Krishna was brought by Vasudeva to the house of Nanda Maharaj, where was the chance for this to happen? In this regard, Vishvanath Chakravarty Thakura desires to prove with evidence from many shastra that Krishna actually took birth as the son of Yashoda before the birth of Yoga-maya, who is therefore described as the Lord’s younger sister.
Srila Rupa Gosvami also gives away the secret!
preshthanandair vraje tais tair atmano ‘pi vimohanaih
lilollasair vilasati shri-lila-purushottamah
Because He enjoys many happy pastimes, delighting His dear associates, and even enchanting Himself, Lord Krishna is called “lila-purushottama” (the most playful person).
asamordhvena bhagavan vatsalyena vrajesayoh
sutatvenaiva sa tayor atmanam vetti sarvada
Because the parental love of Vraja’s king and queen has no equal or superior, Lord Krishna eternally thinks Himself their son.
kecid bhagavatah prahur evam atra puratanah
vyuhah pradurbhaved adyo griheshv anakadundubheh
goshthe tu mayaya sardham shri-lila-purushottamah
In ancient times some devotees have said that the Lord appeared in His Vasudeva feature in the home of Maharaja Vasudeva, and at the same time He appeared, along with Yogamaya, in His original form as Sri Krishna in the village of Vraja.
gatva yadu-varo goshtham tatra suti-griham visan
kanyam eva param vikshya tam adayavrajat puram
pravisad vasudevas tu shri-lila-purushottamam
When Maharaja Vasudeva arrived in Vraja, he entered the maternity room, saw (Yashoda’s, daughter and, taking her with him, returned to Mathura. The Vasudeva expansion (Maharaja Vasudeva carried with him, then merged in the body of Sri Krishna.
etac cati-rahasyatvan noktam tatra katha-krame
kintu kvacit prasangena sucyate shri-sukadibhih
Because this pastime is very confidential, it was not related in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Nevertheless, Sukadeva Gosvami and other great devotees have indirectly described it in some of their writings.
Srila Rupa Gosvami then quotes below four verses from Srimad Bhagavatam which specifically describe Krishna as son of Nanda Maharaj.
“Nanda Maharaj was naturally very magnanimous, and when Lord Sri Krishna appeared as his son, he was overwhelmed by jubilation.”
“Nanda Maharaj was very liberal and simple. He immediately took his son Krishna on his lap as if Krishna had returned from death.”
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, the son of Mother Yashoda, is accessible to devotees engaged in spontaneous loving service, but He is not as easily accessible to mental speculators, to those striving for self-realization by severe austerities and penances, or to those who consider the body the same as the self.”
“Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the son of Maharaj Nanda, who is standing before me with conchshell earrings and peacock feather on His head. His face is beautiful, He is wearing a helmet, garlanded with forest flowers, and He stands with a morsel of food in His hand. He is decorated with cane, flute, and a bugle made of buffalo horn. He stands before me with small lotus feet.”
tatha shri-yamala-vacanam samudaharanti
“krishno ‘nyo yadu-sambhuto yah purnah so ‘sty atah parah
vrindavanam parityajya sa kvacin naiva gacchati
The different between Krishna’s appearance in Vrindavan and His appearance in Mathura and Dvaraka is described in, Yamala Tantra:
“The Krishna known as Yadukumara is Vasudeva Krishna. He is different from the Krishna who is the son of Nanda Maharaj. Yadukumara Krishna manifests His pastimes in the cities of Mathura and Dvaraka, but Krishna the son of Nanda Maharaj never at any time leaves Vrindavan.
The above verse has also been quoted in Caitanya Caritamrta, it was spoken by Caitanya Mahaprabhu to … who else…. Srila Rupa Gosvami!
Caution- One should not misunderstand that there are multiple Krishnas! This verse is showing that Vrindavan Krishna, Vrajendra Nandan Krishna, is the original personality of Godhead and rest all are His various plenary expansions/ incarnations. Vrajendra Nandan Krishna is the original source.
pūrṇa bhagavān kṛṣṇa vrajendra-kumāra goloke vrajera saha nitya vihāra
Lord Krishna, the son of the King of Vraja, is the Supreme Lord. He eternally enjoys transcendental pastimes in His eternal abode, Goloka, which includes Vrajadhama.
(CC Adi 3.5)
I hope we got a little taste of sweet undercurrents flowing via, seemingly, straight verses of Bhagavad Gita, and also Srimad Bhagavatam, if we simply serve these two scriptures by studying them regularly, then, by the mercy and potency of Srila Prabhupada, many intricate aspects of Absolute Truth, Sri Vrajendra Nandan Krishna, can manifest in our heart.
He who accepts this truth on the strength of the authority of the Vedas and of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and who does not waste time in philosophical speculations attains the highest perfectional stage of liberation. Simply by accepting this truth on faith, one can, without a doubt, attain liberation. The Vedic version tat tvam asi is actually applied in this case. Anyone who understands Lord Krishna to be the Supreme, or who says unto the Lord, “You are the same Supreme Brahman, the Personality of Godhead,” is certainly liberated instantly, and consequently his entrance into the transcendental association of the Lord is guaranteed.
aradhyo bhagavan vrajesa-tanayas tad-dhama vrndavanam ramya kacid upasana vraja-vadhu-vargena va kalpita srimad bhagavatam pramanam amalam prema pum-artho mahan sri-caitanya mahaprabhor matam idam tatradarah na parah
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna, the son of Nanda Maharaj, is worshiped along with His transcendental abode Vrindavan. The most pleasing form of worship for the Lord is that which was performed by the gopis of Vrindavan. Srimad Bhagavatam is the spotless authority on everything and pure love of Godhead is the ultimate goal of life for all men. These statements, for which we have the highest regard, are the opinion of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
(Caitanya-matta-manjusa by Srila Viswanatha Cakravarti Thakura)
Wish you all a very happy New Year Year. Here is a short clip to welcome, sing and welcome the new year by welcoming and accepting Vrajendra Nandan Krishna as Lord of our heart ! Press here
“Why God has made somebody so opulent and why somebody so poor?” This is the general question we hear. Does God discriminates between different souls? Srimad Bhagavatam clears the doubt
naiñä parävara-matir bhavato nanu syät
jantor yathätmä-suhådo jagatas tathäpi
saàsevayä surataror iva te prasädaù
sevänurüpam udayo na parävaratvam
“Like the ordinary living entity, my Lord, You have no such discrimination, thinking like ‘He is my friend; he is my enemy, he is favorable, he is unfavorable.’ Such conception of low grade and high grade You have not got. But according to one’s gradation of service, You offer them benediction exactly like the desire tree offers fruits according to the desire of the person. The desire tree has no distinction of low-grade and high-grade position of the beggar.”
God is Absolute
Parävaratvam. Para means “better,” and apara means “inferior.” Superior and inferior. There are two things, superior and inferior, everywhere, but in the eyes of God, Krishna, there is no such thing superior or inferior. He’s superior, and everything is superior. This should be understood. There is no such discrimination that “Here is a devotee, so he’s superior, and here is a non-devotee, he’s inferior.” That is not God’s discrimination; that is your discrimination.
How is that?
If you like to remain as inferior, you can remain. God has given you independence. And if you like to become superior, you can become superior. It is not God’s discrimination; it is your discrimination. Mind this verse very carefully. Krishna says that “You fully become dependent upon Me, and I shall give you full protection.” This is superiority. As soon as I fully surrender to the supreme superior, Krishna, then my position is immediately superior. But if I don’t do that, then I remain inferior.
There is a verse in the Bhagava gita, ye yathä mäà prapadyante täàs tathaiva bhajämy aham (Bg 4.11- As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly.) “It is up to you to… If you surrender cent per cent, then I am also fully cent per cent for you.” But if you have got discrimination—”Certain percentage for my wife, certain percentage for my children, certain percentage for my country, certain percent…,” so on, so on, so on, so on, ultimately, “Zero for God”—then God is also zero. It is up to you. But if you take God—”You are my everything”—then He is also for you, everything. It is up to you. Parävaratvam. He does not discriminate; you discriminate.
Can we understand this via an example?
There are many persons, they come to Vrindavan, and whatever they have earned throughout the whole life, so they give everything to the wife and children and make contract that “I am going to Vrindavan. You send me at least two hundred rupees for my expenditure.” “And what about two lakhs and crores?” “Oh, that is yours. The two lakhs and crores, what I have earned, that is for you, my dear children, my dear wife, and you give me two hundred for God. So I am going to Vrindavan.” So Krishna is very intelligent: “All right, I am also for you two hundred.” Ye yathä mäm… This is the meaning, real meaning.
Srila Prabhupada calls it…
It is called…Responsive cooperation. “If you have surrendered to Me cent per cent, then I respond cent per cent. If you have surrendered twenty-five percent, then I respond twenty-five percent.” This is the position.
Mahajans know it!
Prahlada Maharaj knows it, that naiñä parävara-matir bhavato: “You have no such thing as discriminating.”
I am very fallen but why can’t God show more compassion?
So one may say that “I may… I am foolish. I may not surrender to Krishna cent per cent, but why He is not kind cent per cent?” So that is Krishna’s discrimination. Why He should? He can. He can become cent per cent, but He does not do so. That means Krishna is senscient; He is not impersonal. Don’t think that whatever you are doing, Krishna cannot see. In the Deity room, if you think that “This Deity is made of brass. Whatever nonsense I can do, He does not see,” no, He can see everything. Aïgäni yasya sakalendriya-våttimanti paçyanti pänti kalayanti [Bs. 5.32]. He sees. You rascal, you do not know how Krishna sees. You think that “He has these brass-made eyes. He cannot see. I can do all nonsense with…” No. That is not. He can see everything. Paçyanti pänti. Aïgäni yasya sakalendriya-våttimanti. He can see with His lotus feet. He can see with His hand. We can see simply with our eyes, but Krishna can see with all the… Aïgäni yasya sakalendriya-våttimanti. You have seen: Krishna is playing the flute. The fingers are open. A finger touching: “What you are doing?” We do not know the fingers can also see. But this is absolute. Krishna can use His any energy, any power, any part of the body, for anything else. This is Krishna. Aïgäni yasya sakalendriya-våttimanti.So Krishna can see within our mind how much we are surrendered and how much we are after material enjoyment.
So what should we do?
Therefore the best thing is we have to make zero. Anyäbhiläñitä-çünyam Çünyam means zero. Unless we make everything zero, simply Krishna fact… Krishna is the only fact, and everything zero.
Without Krishna, everything zero. Just like one is one, and zero is zero, but when zero is added with one, it becomes ten immediately—ten times. Similarly, this material world is zero, and Krishna is one. If you want to enjoy the material world by your own effort, it will always prove zero. You’ll never be satisfied. But you add this zero by the side of Krishna, you enjoy like anything, ten times. Ten times. With zero it is zero, but when it is added with Krishna, it is ten times. Just see practically. Our Krishna consciousness movement was started with forty rupees. Now that forty rupees or something added with Krishna, it has become forty crores. You see practically. When I started for your country, I came to Mayapur. I offered my obeisances to my spiritual master, then I went. At that time I had no money even to purchase the ticket. And after that, I have come with forty crores. This is the secret: ye yathä mäà prapadyante
And the result will be…
If you fully surrender to Krishna, then Krishna is there. You have to learn how to take from Krishna. Of course, a devotee is never desirous to take anything from Krishna. He wants to give only. This is pure devotee. A pure devotee wants, “Krishna, whatever little I have got, You take it, everything.” And Krishna says, “Yes, because you have given your everything, even up to your life, I’ll also give you My everything to you.” This is Krishna.
God is like a wish fulfilling tree!
Krishna has no discrimination, but it is up to us to know how to take from Krishna. Just like the example is given here that saàsevayä surataror iva. Surataror iva. Surataroù means the desire tree. It is described in the Brahma-saàhitä, desire tree. Cintämaëi-prakara-sadmasu kalpa-våkña [Bs. 5.29]. That is kalpa vriksha….. kalpa vriksha there is in the higher planetary system, and especially in the Vaikuntha world. There are trees are kalpa vriksha, because everything is spiritual; nothing is dead. Here you can take some fruits or flower from a particular tree, but there, if you like, you ask kachoré and samosä from a tree—you get. But we have no idea what is surataroù, surataroù, what is kalpa Vriksha. Whatever you desire, you’ll get it. Surabhéh, surabhér abhipäl… The cows are surabhi. Here you have got limitation; you can milk morning and evening to a certain extent. But there the cows are surabhi. Surabhi means you can milk as many times as you like, and as much milk you want, you can take it. But these things are there, but we have no information. We are struggling here. Manaù-ñañöhänéndriyäëi prakåti-sthäni karñati [Bg. 15.7]. Because we are fools and rascals, we are trying to make some adjustment here. That is not possible.
It is duùkhälayam açäçvatam. This is mäyä. We are trying to be happy in this material… It will never be possible. But these fools and rascals, they do not know. They are making big, big plans how to become happy, how to become, in our country, in our home, in our society, in our family, and so on, so on, so on. This means we are simply becoming entangled. Ato gåha-kñetra-sutäpta-vittair janasya moho ‘yam [SB 5.5.8]. Ahaà moha, illusion. It will never be possible. Therefore, the conclusion is we should fully surrender cent per cent to Krishna, and then we become happy. Saàsevayä surataror iva te prasädaù.
The example is: just like the desire tree, kalpa Vriksha. It can fulfill any desire, any desire. We have got so many desires. Krishna can fulfill all the desires. Please surrender to Krishna. This is the process.
Pure devotion means first of all you learn not to order Krishna, “Krishna, give me this, give me that, give me that.” Don’t bother Krishna. That is the beginning of spiritual life. Anyäbhiläñitä-çünyam. You prepare to carry out every order of Krishna. Then it is spiritual life. Don’t make Krishna your order-supplier. You become order-supplier of Krishna.
If you learn how to give service to Krishna cent per cent, then you get everything, everything, without asking. Krishna knows everything, what is required for you. Just like a father knows what is the necessity of the child. The child never begs, “Father, give me this, give me that.” No. He’s simply dependent on parents. The parent knows. Similarly, if we become cent per cent dependent and serve Him faithfully under His order or His representative’s order, then the success is sure.
( Srila Prabhupada lecture, March 5 , 1976, Mayapur)
Now the amazing thing is that all of the above is simply transcript of a lecture given by Srila Prabhupada, I simply copied it ‘as it is’, the language, even the sequence of the paragraphs. I have only inserted questions based on each para! It is simply an amazing lecture, full of gems. We can hear the original audio of this lecture here. Transcript of the complete lecture is here.
If we simply read the transcript carefully and repeatedly or hear the audio with sincerity and attention then we can get many keys to make a very rapid progress in Krishna consciousness and surrender to Krishna.
Sometime we have confusion on the position of demigods. We also observe that Vaishnavas, especially Gaudiya vaishnavas, do not worship demigods whereas the spiritual master and acharya are worshiped thrice a day! Is it mere sentimentalism or is there a solid philosophy behind it. Srimad Bhagavatam answers this question in the below verse, as to whose shelter devotees should seek, and it’s very instructive purport on the position of demigods.
sarvato manaso ’saṅgam ādau saṅgaṁ ca sādhuṣu
dayāṁ maitrīṁ praśrayaṁ ca bhūteṣv addhā yathocitam
A sincere disciple should learn to dissociate the mind from everything material and positively cultivate association with his spiritual master and other saintly devotees. He should be merciful to those in an inferior position to him, cultivate friendship with those on an equal level and meekly serve those in a higher spiritual position. Thus he should learn to deal properly with all living beings.
High position of demigods
Śrīla Madhvācārya has quoted from the Garuḍa Purāṇa to demonstrate that within this universe those who take birth as demigods, great ṛṣis or pious human beings are all considered santaḥ, or saintly persons. According to Bhagavad-gītā,traiguṇya-viṣayā vedāḥ: the varṇāśrama culture described in Vedic literature deals mostly with the living entities who are struggling within the three modes of nature. The Vedic literatures teach such conditioned souls that material happiness can be achieved only through pious works. In this sense, the demigods are to be considered the most pious living entities within the three modes of material nature. The ṛṣis, or the great saintly mystics of the universe, who are able to travel at will to various planets and who cultivate mystic powers, are to be considered somewhat below the demigods. And those human beings on earth who perfectly execute the Vedic rituals are to be considered in the third or lowest category of santaḥ, or saintly persons.
Pure devotees transcends the material modes
But a devotee of the Lord is beyond the three modes of material nature. Lord Krishna says in Bhagavad-gītā (14.26):
māṁ ca yo ’vyabhicāreṇa bhakti-yogena sevate
sa guṇān samatītyaitān brahma-bhūyāya kalpate
“One who engages in full devotional service, who does not fall down in any circumstance, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman.” Thus Lord Krishna clearly says that a Vaiṣṇava who does not fall down from the regulations of bhakti-yoga is beyond the three modes of nature. And Lord Krishna advised Arjuna, a Krishna-bhakta, to transcend the three material qualities of the illusory creation of māyā (nistraiguṇyo bhavārjuna).
What about demigods?
In the Eighteenth Chapter of Bhagavad-gītā (18.40) the Lord says:
na tad asti pṛthivyāṁ vā divi deveṣu vā punaḥ
sattvaṁ prakṛti-jair muktaṁ yad ebhiḥ syāt tribhir guṇaiḥ
“There is no being existing, either here or among the demigods in the higher planetary systems, who is free from the three modes of material nature.” Thus the demigods are not exempt from the pollution of the three modes of material nature, whereas a pure devotee actually becomes guṇātīta, or transcendental to the influence of māyā.
Therefore, one should cultivate the association of the uttama-adhikārī, or pure devotee of the Lord, as stated previously (Bhāg. 11.3.21):
tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam
śābde pare ca niṣṇātaṁ brahmaṇy upaśamāśrayam
“Therefore any person who seriously desires real happiness must seek a bona fide spiritual master and take shelter of him by initiation. The qualification of the bona fide guru is that he has realized the conclusions of the scriptures by deliberation and is able to convince others of these conclusions. Such great personalities, who have taken shelter of the Supreme Godhead, leaving aside all material considerations, should be understood to be bona fide spiritual masters.”…
One cannot be liberated without association with a pure devotee of the Lord.
As aspiring devotees, many a times, we feel alone, sometimes even helpless. We, however, forget that Krishna as Supersoul is always with us. Due to our ignorance and dull consciousness we may not be able to see Krishna’s hand in our journey towards Him but He is very much with us. Similarly we may not be able to appreciate and value how Krishna as Supersoul is sitting in our heart and is inspiring us to progress towards Him at every stage in our Krishna consciousness journey. Supersoul plays a very important role in the journey of a devotee. Let us find out how we can connect with Supersoul, hear His voice and take guidance from Him.
Śrī Hari, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the Supersoul and guide of all living entities who have accepted material bodies within this world. He is the supreme controller of all material activities in material nature. He is also our best friend, and everyone should take shelter at His lotus feet. In doing so, one’s life will be auspicious.
Krishna is very close!
In Bhagavad-gītā (18.61) it is said, īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe ’rjuna tiṣṭhati: “The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna.” The living entity is within the body, and the Supersoul, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is also there. He is called antaryāmīand caitya-guru. As Lord Krishna states in Bhagavad-gītā (15.15), He is controlling everything:
sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo
mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca
“I am seated in everyone’s heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness.”
Should I take directions from Supersoul?
Everything is being directed by the Supersoul within the body; therefore the better part of valor is to take His direction and be happy. To take His directions, one needs to be a devotee, and this is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā (10.10):
“To those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.”
Paramatma is our ‘old’ friend
In His Paramatma feature, Krishna is the old friend of everyone. According to Vedic injunction, Krishna is sitting with the living entity side by side. According to the sruti-mantra (dvä suparëä sayujä sakhäyäù), the Lord is sitting within the heart of every living entity as suhrt, the best friend. The Lord is always eager to have the living entity come home, back to Godhead. Sitting with the living entity as witness, the Lord gives him all chances to enjoy himself materially, but whenever there is an opportunity, the Lord gives good counsel and advises the living entity to abandon trying to become happy through material adjustment and instead turn his face toward the Supreme Personality of Godhead and surrender unto Him.
Can I start talking with Supersoul right now!
The Lord is the Supersoul seated in everyone’s heart, and He acts as the caitya-guru, the spiritual master within. However, He gives direct instructions only to the advanced, pure devotees.
I knew there would be some catch!
Unless you are a devotee, unless you are constantly engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, He will not speak to you. He speaks, but you cannot hear. You have no ears to hear Him. That is not possible. Krishna is speaking. Just like Krishna is speaking in the Bhagavad-gita, sarva-dharmän parityajya mäm ekaà çaraëaà vraja [Bg. 18.66]. It is open speaking, but who is hearing? Nobody is hearing. Nobody is hearing. They have got their own conception of life.
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 6th Nov, 1973, Delhi)
So what chance I have?
When a living entity desires to serve the Lord in transcendental loving service, the Lord helps the devotee in so many ways as the caitya-guru, or the spiritual master within, and thus the devotee can perform many wonderful activities beyond material estimation. By the mercy of the Lord even a layman can compose prayers of the highest spiritual perfection. Such spiritual perfection is not limited by material qualifications but is developed by dint of one’s sincere endeavor to render transcendental service. Voluntary endeavor is the only qualification for spiritual perfection.
We begin by taking shelter of a bona fide guru
A person in full Krishna consciousness acts by the dictation of Krishna. In the beginning of Krishna consciousness, dictation is received through the transparent medium of the spiritual master. When one is sufficiently trained and acts in submissive faith and love for Krishna under the direction of the bona fide spiritual master, the dovetailing process becomes more firm and accurate. This stage of devotional service by the devotee in Krishna consciousness is the most perfect stage of the yoga system. At this stage, Krishna, or the Supersoul, dictates from within, while from without the devotee is helped by the spiritual master, who is the bona fide representative of Krishna. From within He helps the devotee as caitya, for He is seated within the heart of everyone. Understanding that God is seated within everyone’s heart is not, however, sufficient. One has to be acquainted with God from both within and without, and one must take dictation from within and without to act in Krishna consciousness.
(We all have experienced when we are sitting with a bona-fide spiritual master or a devotee coming in proper disciplic succession, how the questions within our heart are automatically answered or explained by the such speaker, there is a solid connection via supersoul)
It’s a gradual process, coinciding with our purification level
In the beginning, when a devotee is serious and sincere, the Lord gives him directions from within to approach a bona fide spiritual master. When one is trained by the spiritual master according to the regulative principles of devotional service and is situated on the platform of spontaneous attachment for the Lord (räga-bhakti), the Lord also gives instructions from within. teṣāṁ satata-yuktānāṁ bhajatāṁ prīti-pūrvakam [Bg. 10.10]. This distinct advantage is obtained by a liberated soul.
Supersoul manifests outside to help us!
One who is sincere and pure gets an opportunity to consult with the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His Paramatma feature sitting within everyone’s heart. The Paramatma is always the caitya-guru, the spiritual master within, and He comes before one externally as the instructor and initiator spiritual master. The Lord can reside within the heart, and He can also come out before a person and give him instructions. Thus the spiritual master is not different from the Supersoul sitting within the heart.
Why does Supersoul need to manifests outside?
jīve sākṣāt nāhi tāte guru caittya-rūpe
śikṣā-guru haya kṛṣṇa-mahānta-svarūpe
Since one cannot visually experience the presence of the Supersoul, He appears before us as a liberated devotee. Such a spiritual master is none other than Krishna Himself.
It is not possible for a conditioned soul to directly meet Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but if one becomes a sincere devotee and seriously engages in devotional service, Lord Krishna sends an instructing spiritualmaster to show him favor and invoke his dormant propensity for serving the Supreme. The preceptor appears before the external senses of the fortunate conditioned soul, and at the same time the devotee is guided from within by the caittya-guru, Krishna, who is seated as the spiritual master within the heart of the living entity.
(CC Adi 1.58+p)
(We should not only see our spiritual master as manifestation of Krishna but also our shiksha guru and senior counselors, from whom we are taking shiksha, as being direct representatives of Krishna. Krishna has personally sent them to help us.)
Wow! can we understand it via some example?
Just like we work in some big establishment, and if we can satisfy our immediate boss, that is the satisfaction of the whole company. You haven’t got to see whether all the members of the company have become satisfied. Simply the immediate boss under which you are working, if he is satisfied, then you know the company is satisfied because he will submit the report of his work.
Similarly, Krishna is very kind. He is helping you in different ways. He is within your heart. Krishna is within your heart. Antaryami, Caitya-guru. And is presenting Himself as spiritual master both ways, externally, internally. He is trying to help you. And when you are actually taking the advantage of that help, and if you are engaged with love and affection in the transcendental service of the Lord, then you can talk with God from within. God is within you. You haven’t got to find out God in so many places. Anywhere you can sit down. But if you are sincere, if you are actually wanting to offer your service to the Lord—teñäà satata-yuktänäà bhajatäà préti-pürvakam, dadämi buddhi-yogaà tam [Bg. 10.10]—He will give you intelligence. Simply we have to become sincere servitor.
So it doesn’t matter whether one is householder or a brahmacari or sannyasi. He has to become first of all sincere servitor of the Lord. Then everything is complete. The Lord is within you. He will give you all knowledge, all enlightenment, all dictation, and He will make your life progressive.
(Srila Prabhupada lecture, 14th May 1969, Columbus)
I hope and pray that by reading the above we all can develop more faith to understand how Krishna is sitting within us as Supersoul and more importantly, we can appreciate how He is actively thinking about each one of us. Krishna loves each one of us and for those who are sincere, Krishna directly facilitates all arrangements so that we can go back to Him. For showering such love and personal care, what should be our feelings towards Krishna? And then what should be our feelings and attitude towards those great souls, whom Krishna has made His instrument of compassion and sent them to guide us in our spiritual journey. They are His direct representatives. Krishna Himself is helping every one of us internally as well as externally. Srila Prabhupada explains that there is no difference between internal instructor and external instructor. Can I work on my consciousness to see them non-different from each other?
Simply by accepting and acknowledging our spiritual master, shiksha guru and senior counselor as an external manifestation of Krishna, by valuing their association and contribution in our life, by following their instructions, we can attract further mercy of Krishna and make very rapid progress in Krishna consciousness and one day soon it may be our turn to start receiving direct instructions from someone very special within us, the stealer of hearts, Sri Krishna Chandra.
P.S. – Please use this link to read Lord Kapila describing the specific form of Supersoul residing in our heart and how yogis meditate on that divine form SB 3.28.21
Few years back, I was preparing for a class by hearing a lecture given by HG Rukmini Krishna Prabhuji, from ISKCON Punjabi Bagh, repeatedly. Somehow, by Prabhuji’s mercy and potency, few lines from that lecture touched my heart and remain ingrained forever. Here are those lines-
‘Everyone in ISKCON should try to build a relationship with Srila Prabhupada. Prabhupada is preeminent shiksha guru of everyone in ISKCON and it will be very beneficial for our spiritual life if we build a personal relationship with Srila Prabhupada. And it is possible for everyone in ISKCON to build a personal relationship with him, not just his immediate disciples. We simply need to make efforts in that direction and we will definitely receive his reciprocation ”.
We are well aware that position of an acharya is very unique. An acharya not only teaches us but he also practices everything himself. Hence an acharya teaches us with his own practical example, which is a far easier and practical way to grasp for the conditioned souls.
Let us now see how Srila Prabhupada ‘practiced’ his own relationship with his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur, another exalted acharya in our line, and learn from him how we can we develop a permanent relationship with the lotus feet of our acharya- Srila Prabhupada.
An Acharya’s birth is not ordinary
So these äcäryas, they come and they go, that is not like ordinary birth and death. It is called prakaöa, aprakaöa; ävirbhäva, tirobhäva. So even ordinarily nobody takes birth and nobody dies, na jäyate na mréyate vä kadäcit [Bg. 2.20], so what to speak of the äcäryas or Bhagavän.
(Srila Prabhupada lecture — December 22, 1975, Bombay)
Who are these exalted Acharayas?
Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu has given considerable discussion about nitya-siddha and sädhana-siddha devotees. Nitya-siddha devotees come from Vaikuëöha to this material world to teach, by their personal example, how to become a devotee. The living entities in this material world can take lessons from such nitya-siddha devotees and thus become inclined to return home, back to Godhead. A nitya-siddha devotee comes from Vaikuëöha upon the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and shows by his example how to become a pure devotee (anyäbhiläñitä-çünyam [Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu 1.1.11]). In spite of coming to this material world, the nitya-siddha devotee is never attracted by the allurements of material enjoyment.
….When the Lord Himself appears as an incarnation within this material world, He is not allured by the material atmosphere, and He has nothing to do with material activity, yet by His example He teaches the common man how to become a devotee. Similarly, a devotee who comes here in accordance with the order of the Supreme Lord shows by his personal behavior how to become a pure devotee. A pure devotee, therefore, is a practical example for all living entities, including Lord Brahmä.
Without their practical guidance..
The bona fide spiritual master, by his personal activities, teaches the disciple the principles of devotional service. Without personal service, one would go on speculating like the impersonalists and dry speculators life after life and would be unable to reach the final conclusion.
He is not dead and gone!
So now, by the grace of Krishna and Caitanya Mahaprabhu and in the presence of my Guru Maharaja, you are so nice boys and girls. So in front of Caitanya Mahaprabhu you are chanting Hare Krishna mantra, and you are taking part in it very seriously. So my Guru Maharaja will be very, very much pleased upon you and bless you with all benefits. [break]
So he wanted this, and he is not… It is not that he is dead and gone. That is not spiritual understanding. Even ordinary living being, he does not die. Na hanyate hanyamäne çarére [Bg. 2.20]. And what to speak of such exalted, authorized personality like Bhaktisiddhanta. He is seeing. I never feel that I am alone. Of course, when I came to your country without any friend, without any means… Practically, just like a vagabond I came. But I had full faith that “My Guru Mahäräja is with me.” I never lost this faith. And that is fact. There are two words, väëé and vapuù. Väné means words, and vapuù means this physical body. So väëé is more important than the vapuù. Vapuù will be finished. This is material body. It will be finished. That is the nature. But if we keep to the väëé, to the words of spiritual master, then we remain very fixed up. It doesn’t matter.
(Srila Prabhupada lecture – Atlanta, March 2, 1975)
I won’t die!
Kértanänanda: Why can’t you give us your old age?
Prabhupada: When I see that things are going on nicely, I am happy. What is this with this body? Body is body. We are not body.
Kértanänanda: Wasn’t it Purudäsa that gave his father his youth?
Rämeçvara: Yayäti. King Yayäti traded his old age.
Kértanänanda: With his son. You can do that.
Prabhupada: [laughs] Who did?
Rämeçvara: King Yayäti.
Prabhupada: Ah. Yayäti. No, why? You are my body. So you live on. There is no difference. Just like I am working, so my Guru Mahäräja is there, Bhaktisiddhanta Goswami. Physically he may not be, but in every action he is there. I think actually I have written that.
Tamäla Kåñëa: Yeah, it’s in the Bhägavatam, that “He who lives with him, he lives eternally. He who remembers his words lives eternally.”
Prabhupada: So I am not going to die. Kértir yasya sa jévati: “One who has done something substantial, he lives forever.” He doesn’t die. Even in our practical life… Of course, this is material, karma-phala. One has to accept another body according to his karma. But for devotee there is no such thing. He always accepts a body for serving Krishna. So there is no karma-phala
(Conversation Pieces- May 27, 1977, Vrindavana)
Mercy is forever available to everyone, it is up to us to take advantage of it.
Prabhupada: You have to associate with both. Guru-kåñëa-kåpäya päya bhakti-latä-béja [Cc. Madhya 19.151]. Both guru’s kåpä and Kåñëa’s kåpä, they must be joined. Then you will get.
Jayädvaita: We’re very eager to get that guru-kåpä.
Jayädvaita: We are. All of us.
Prabhupada: Yes. Yasya prasädäd bhagavat-prasädaù. If you get guru’s kåpä, then automatically you get Krishna.
Näräyaëa: Guru-kåpä only comes by pleasing the spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada?
Prabhupada: Otherwise how?
Näräyaëa: Excuse me?
Prabhupada: Otherwise how it can come?
Näräyaëa: So those disciples who don’t have opportunity to see you or speak with you…
Prabhupada: That he was speaking, väëé and vapuù. Even if you don’t see his body, you take his word, väëé.
Näräyaëa: But how do they know they’re pleasing you, Srila Prabhupada?
Prabhupada: If you actually follow the words of guru, that means he is pleased. And if you do not follow, how he can be pleased?
Sudämä: Not only that,but your mercy is spread everywhere, and if we take advantage, you told us once, then we will feel the result.
Jayädvaita: And if we have faith in what the guru says, then automatically we’ll do that.
Prabhupada: Yes. My Guru Maharaja passed in 1936, and I started this movement in 1965, thirty years after. Then? I am getting the mercy of guru. This is väëé. Even the guru is not physically present, if you follow the väëé, then you are getting help.
Sudämä: So there’s no question of ever separation as long as the disciple follows the instruction of guru.
Prabhupada: No. Cakhu-dän dilo jei... What is that, next one?
Prabhupada: Janme janme prabhu sei. So where there is separation?Who has opened your eyes, he is birth after birth your prabhu.
(Morning Walk—July 21, 1975, San Francisco)
A peek into the heart of Srila Prabhupada
Let us now read a pastime from the book ‘Miracle on Second Avenue’, an amazing account of the early days of ISKCON by of HH Mukunda Goswami. It was mercy of HH Gunagrahi Maharaj, who recommended this book to me and having read it, I would request everyone to read it, specially those who would like to build a stronger relationship with Srila Prabhupada by reading about him, his early days in west and how he preached to the westerners and started this movement.
This particular pastime gives us a peek into the very heart of Srila Prabhupada, his spiritual feelings and firm faith in his spiritual master. The background of the below pastime is that Srila Prabhupada has suffered a massive heart attack in New York. Doctors had told devotees that he may not survive this attack but by Krishna’s mercy, and devotees prayers, ‘he made it through’. Prabhupada was still recovering when he decided to visit San Francisco as local devotees there were preparing for the first ever Rathayatra. Devotees had taken a beach front house on rent for Srila Prabhupada, where it was peaceful and quite for him to to rest and recover.
While reading the below pastime please do keep in my mind that these are very early days of ISKCON, its June 1967, devotees are new to Krishna consciousness, they are young and innocent, but their hearts are sold out to Srila Prabhupada. Here we go, as HH Mukunda maharaja recalls this particular pastime with his spiritual master –
On his second day there, I knocked on his door and sat down on the floor in front of the bed he was sitting on.
“How are you feeling, Swami?” I asked.
He continued to chant softly, gazing at the somewhat primitive painting of Radha and Krishna on the wall to his right painted by a devotee artist. I thought maybe he hadn’t heard me, but after a few minutes he put down his beads and stood up.
“What is this body?” he said, making a gesture with his palms open and his arms outstretched. He looked almost disgusted to inhabit an ephemeral body and incredulous that I would be concerned to inquire about the state of something so fleeting. I realized that although I had read about the temporary nature of the body and the eternality of the spirit soul, he was actually living that philosophy.
For him the material world was not as important as the spiritual world, and he didn’t really care about his body coming to an end.
I went back into the kitchen and told Hayagriva and Kirtanananda about what the swami had said and my impression of what he meant.
“He’s not concerned about leaving his body for himself, because he’ll go back to be with Krishna,” Hayagriva said. “But what would happen to the movement if he was to die?”
“What?” My mouth hung open.
“All I’m saying is that he’s going to leave his body some time,” Hayagriva said. “Maybe you should ask him if someone should take over when he dies.”
“Maybe you should ask him,” I said. I thought he was being a bit too pragmatic about such a sensitive issue.
“No, it should be you,” Hayagriva insisted. “You’re the one he talked to about it.”
“Well, actually, no, he didn’t,” I clarified. “I was the one who started thinking about this stuff because of his comment about his body.”
“Whatever the case, we need to know how we should continue our Krishna consciousness education if he’s not here, shouldn’t we? And how we’d keep his movement alive, right?”
I thought for a few seconds. As blunt as Hayagriva was being about the issue, I had to admit that deep down I wanted to know the answers to these questions for myself too.
“OK, I’ll ask him,” I said. “I guess somebody has to ask about it eventually, and I guess it may as well be me.”
I knocked on his door again.
“Yes?” the swami said from within.
“Swami, can I ask you a question?” I asked. “Yes.” He sat down on his bed again.
I took a deep breath.
“When you die, what will happen to the movement?” I asked. “Will you have a successor who will continue your work and look after our spiritual education?”
As I heard myself say the words, I realized it had been a mistake to ask this. I saw suddenly that I had been put forward to ask this delicate question on someone else’s behalf. The swami sat silently, looking out the window at the sand dunes and the mountains. It was high tide and I could hear the waves pounding the beach. Gulls shrieked. I could feel two sets of ears straining from the kitchen to hear his answer.
The swami muttered something quietly.
“I couldn’t hear what you said, Swami,” I said carefully. “Can you repeat it?”
“Actually, it is an insult to the spiritual master,” he said a little louder.
He turned away from the window and looked at me pensively, as if he was hurt by my question.
“I’m sorry, Swami,” I said. I felt like shrinking into the carpet. He closed his eyes. Outside a dog barked. A shallow stream of tears appeared below each of his eyes and flowed over his cheeks.
He slowly wiped them away. “My spiritual master …” he said, and his voice choked to gravel. I was stunned. What had I done?
“My spiritual master,” he said, “he was no ordinary spiritual master.” He paused again, and then whispered falteringly, “He saved me.”
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’ll go now.” I was too overcome myself to say more.
Hayagriva and Kirtanananda looked furtive when I came back into the kitchen. I pushed past them and went and sat out on the porch by myself. The swami’s answer was crystal clear to me. There was no question of replacing the spiritual master. His potency to teach would not end with his death but would continue even in his physical absence. What struck me the most was the way the swami taught me this. He didn’t just tell me with words; he showed me through his spiritual emotion toward his own spiritual master.
“The swami is no ordinary spiritual master,” I thought to myself. “I must learn to love and serve my spiritual master unconditionally with the fidelity and loyalty with which he serves his.”
I brushed a few grains of imaginary sand from my hands and went back into the house to talk to Kirtanananda and Hayagriva about the swami’s instruction to us all.
( Miracle on Second Avenue, by HH Mukunda Goswami, chapter 21)
Thank you very much for your sincere endeavor and faith in your Spiritual Master. The key to success in spiritual life is to always endeavor to please the Spiritual Master, and follow his instructions.One who is determined in this effort will advance very quickly in Krishna consciousness.
So far personal association with the Guru is concerned, I was only with my Guru Maharaja four or five times, but I have never left his association, not even for a moment. Because I am following his instructions, I have never felt any separation. There are some of my Godbrothers here in India who had constant personal association with Guru Maharaja, but who are neglecting his orders. This is just like the bug who is sitting on the lap of the king. He may be very puffed-up by his position, but all he can succeed in doing is biting the king. Personal association is not so important as association through service.
(Letter to Satadhanya—Calcutta, 20 February, 1972)
I hope and humbly pray that it touches your heart as it touched mine, that we all feel inspired to daily, and carefully, read Srila Prabhupada books and start following his instructions.
After reading my last post on ‘Other scriptures’ and devotees a kind-hearted vaishnava read me amazing lines, written by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, on how a devotee should see different religions. I am sharing the same below.
Why different Religions?
Although human nature is the same everywhere, people living in different nations and on different continents acquire different secondary characteristics. It is impossible to find two people living in the world who have exactly the same secondary nature. Even two brothers born from the same womb will differ in appearance and personality, what to speak of people born in separate countries. In different regions, things such as the locations of bodies of water, air currents, mountains and forests, and the availability of foodstuffs and clothing all vary. Consequently, differences naturally occur in people’s appearance, social status, occupation, and style of dressing and eating. Each nationality has a peculiar disposition of mind, and thus various conceptions of the Supreme Lord, although the same in essence, appear superficially dissimilar. As people in different places rise above their aboriginal condition and gradually develop culture, science, law, and devotion to God, their means of worship also diverge in terms of language, costume, kinds of offerings, and mental attitudes. Considering all these secondary differences impartially, however, we find no discrepancy. As long as the object of worship is the same, there is no harm. Therefore Lord Caitanya has specifically ordered that we should execute our own service to the Supreme Lord in the mode of pure goodness and at the same time refrain from ridiculing the religious codes of others.
Under the influence of the above-mentioned factors, the religious systems proclaimed by different nationalities vary in the following ways:
(1) different spiritual masters
(2) differences in mental and emotional attitudes toward worship
(3) different prescribed rituals of worship
(4) different types of affection for and activities in relation to the object of worship
(5) different names and terminologies resulting from differences in language.
Because of the variety of spiritual authorities, in some places people honor the Vedic sages, in others they revere the prophets led by Muhammed, and in still other regions they esteem the religious personalities who follow Jesus. Similarly, in each locality many different men of knowledge are shown particular respect. Each community should, of course, properly honor its own spiritual masters, but simply for the sake of gaining followers, no one should try to establish that the instructions given by one’s own local spiritual master are better than the instructions of spiritual masters everywhere else. The propagation of such an antagonistic position would certainly be inauspicious for the world.
A devotee’s prescribed ritual of worship varies according to his mentality and devotional feeling. In some places the mode of worship is to seat oneself in a sacred place and practice renunciation and breath control. In another place worship is performed by falling down five times during the day and evening even if caught unprepared to offer obeisances facing the direction of the chief shrine. And elsewhere worshipers kneel down, either in the temple or at home, and with folded hands declare their own fallen condition and the glories of the Lord. Each of these types of worship also differs in the matter of what to wear, whether and how to eat, what is clean or unclean, and so forth. Furthermore, the sentiment and behavior toward the worshipable object vary among religions. Some worshipers, whose consciousness is saturated with devotion, set up a Deity of the Supreme Lord in their heart, in their mind, or in the outside world, with the understanding that it is non-different from the Lord. In other processes, which are inclined more toward logical argument, a conception of the Lord is formed within the mind and worshiped; external images are not accepted. Actually, however, all of these Deities are factual representations.
In accordance with language differences, the Lord is called by various names. Different names are also given to the religious systems, and there are different terminologies for use during worship.
So what should be the approach of a devotee?
The many religions of the world have naturally grown very distinct from each other due to these five kinds of differences. However, to create mutual discord because of these differences would be disastrous. If one happens to be in another’s temple at the time of his worship, one should think, “Here my Lord is being worshiped in a different form. Since I am committed to my particular practice, I cannot take part in this ritual, but as I watch it, I am developing a greater feeling for my own method of worship. The Supreme Absolute Truth is one without a second. Therefore, as I offer my obeisances to the form which I see here, I pray to my Lord, from whom this form comes, that this Deity will help me expand my love for Him.”
Those who do not behave in this way, but who exhibit malice, envy, or ridicule toward other religious processes, certainly deviate from true religion due to a lack of intelligence. If such people actually loved their own Supreme Lord, they would not be attracted to such useless disputes.
Be wary of..
On the other hand, although it is nonsensical to ridicule other religious practices, if we notice some genuine fault, we should never tolerate it. Rather, we should make every effort to uproot it by proper means and thus benefit the deluded practitioners. For this reason, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu argued with the Buddhists, Jains, and Mayavadis and brought them to the true path. All devotees of the Lord should follow the example of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and reject all so-called religious systems containing the unwanted elements of atheism, agnosticism, materialism, disbelief in the existence of the spirit soul (which amounts to the idea that working for the body is all in all), hedonism, and impersonalism. Devotees should know that these systems are unauthorized, deceptive, and only dim reflections of and sometimes completely against the principles of real religion. Actually, followers of these fraudulent processes are pitiable. According to their ability, devotees should make every effort to protect people in general from all these evils.
Pure, unalloyed love of God is the actual eternal religion of the spirit soul. Thus, in spite of the above-mentioned five kinds of distinctions among religious systems, we should recognize as genuine any religious process whose goal is the realization of pure love of God. It is useless to quarrel over superficial differences. If the goal of a process is pure, then the system is fully auspicious.
(By Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Sri Caitanya Siksramrta, Chapter 1)
The above lines, of course, would require a detailed commentary for thorough understanding and application, however we do get broad guidelines on how to view different religions.
śraddhāṁ bhāgavate śāstre
’nindām anyatra cāpi hi
satyaṁ śama-damāv api
One should have firm faith that he will achieve all success in life by following those scriptures that describe the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavān. At the same time, one should avoid blaspheming other scriptures. One should rigidly control his mind, speech and bodily activities, always speak the truth, and bring the mind and senses under full control.
Many a times in our enthusiasm to show supremacy of one scripture we may unconsciously end up criticising another vedic scripture. Devotees, especially preachers, should be very careful about making, even an unintentional, offence against any vedic scripture.
In the above verse Srimad Bhagavatam is saying that ‘One should have firm faith that he will achieve all success in life by following those scriptures that describe the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavān’ but in the same verse it is also cautioning us very clearly that “one should avoid blaspheming other scriptures”.
Of course, devotees understand that Srimad Bhagavatam is the amala purana, spotless purana, which best describes the glories of Krishna, without any material tinge whatsoever, but at the same time we should not blaspheme other scriptures. The purport of the above verse gives us a very good understanding as to what should be our consciousness in relation to all the other vedic scriptures.
Śrīla Madhvācārya has quoted the following statement from the Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa: “One should have complete faith in transcendental literature such as Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and other literature that directly glorifies the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One should also have faith in Vaiṣṇava tantras, the original Vedas, and Mahābhārata,which includes Bhagavad-gītā and which is considered the fifth Veda. The Vedic knowledge originally emanated from the breathing of Viṣṇu, and Vedic literature has been compiled in literary form by Śrīla Vyāsadeva, the incarnation of Viṣṇu. Therefore, Lord Viṣṇu should be understood to be the personal speaker of all this Vedic literature.
Some scriptures may seem mundane, be wary of any criticism
“There are other Vedic literatures, called kalā-vidyā, which give instructions in material arts and sciences. Since all such Vedic arts and sciences are ultimately intended to be used to render devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Keśava, saintly persons in the renounced order of life should never blaspheme such apparently mundane literatures; because such literatures are indirectly connected with the Supreme Lord, one may go to hell for blaspheming these secondary literatures.
So what should be our approach?
“Śraddhā indicates a faithful mentality, which can be analyzed in two sections. The first type of faith is a firm conviction that all the statements of the multifarious Vedic literatures are true. In other words, the understanding that Vedic knowledge in general is infallible is called śraddhā, or faith. A second type of faith is the belief that one must personally carry out a particular injunction of Vedic literature in order to achieve his goal in life. A devotee of the Supreme Lord should thus apply the first type of faith to the various kalā-vidyās, or Vedic material arts and sciences, but he should not accept such scriptures as pointing out his personal goal in life. Nor should he carry out any Vedic injunction that is contradictory to the injunctions of Vaiṣṇava scriptures such as the Pañcarātra.
“Thus one should faithfully accept all Vedic literature as directly or indirectly describing the Supreme Personality of Godhead and should not blaspheme any portion of it. Even for Lord Brahmā, as well as for other creatures, down to the insignificant unmoving species such as trees and stones, blasphemy of any Vedic literature causes one to merge into the darkness of ignorance. Thus the suras — the demigods, great sages and devotees of the Lord — should understand that the Pañcarātric literatures, as well as the four Vedas, the original Rāmāyaṇa, the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and other Purāṇas, and the Mahābhārata, are Vedic literatures that establish the supremacy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the unique transcendental position of the Lord’s devotees according to their status of spiritual advancement. Any other vision of Vedic literatures is to be considered an illusion. In all authorized religious scriptures the ultimate goal is to understand that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the controller of everything and everyone, and that the Lord’s devotees are not different from Him, although such devotees are to be understood in terms of their level of spiritual advancement.” Lord Kṛṣṇa has stated in Bhagavad-gītā, vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo/ vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham: “By all the Vedas, I am to be known; indeed, I am the compiler of Vedānta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.”
I hope the above verse and its purport gives us a clear direction as what should be our consciousness while speaking with various scriptures.
‘Other scriptures’ also include non-vedic bonafide scriptures!
We may also include scriptures of other bonafide religions also in the definition of ‘other scriptures’ whom we should not criticise.
When we read Srila Prabhupada’s purports we will notice that he quotes from various scriptures, including Bible. Prabhupada wrote how there are different scriptures for people in different modes of nature but he did not criticise any scripture.
God’s service is dharma. This dharma may be described differently in different countries according to different cultural and climatic conditions or situations, but in every religious scripture obedience to God is instructed. No scripture says that there is no God or that we as living entities are independent—not the Bible, the Koran, the Vedas or even the Buddhist literatures.
(Elevation to Krishna Consciousness, chapter 6)
Prabhupada considered other religious scriptures also as shastra!
All the çästras, however, advise nivåtti-märga, or release from the materialistic way of life. Apart from the çästras of the Vedic civilization, which is the oldest of the world, other çästras agree on this point. For example, in the Buddhist çästras Lord Buddha advises that one achieve nirväëa by giving up the materialistic way of life. In the Bible, which is also çästra, one will find the same advice: one should cease materialistic life and return to the kingdom of God.
Similarly Srila Prabhupada translates the word ‘Svadhyayah’ in a verse from Srimad Bhagavatam not as study of only vedic scriptures but also qualifies reading non vedic, bonafide, scriptures.
svädhyäyaù—reading of transcendental literatures like Bhagavad-gétä, Çrémad-Bhägavatam, Rämäyaëa and Mahäbhärata (or, for those not in Vedic culture, reading of the Bible or Koran)
The purity of Srimad Bhagavatam and the vision of a Vaishnava are simply unmatched, and so are their teachings.
The last verse which Arjuna speaks in Bhagavad Gita, has many gems for us.
नष्टो मोहः स्मृतिर्लब्धा त्वत्प्रसादान्मयाच्युत।
स्थितोऽस्मि गतसन्देहः करिष्ये वचनं तव।।18.73।।
Arjuna said: My dear Krishna, O infallible one, my illusion is now gone. I have regained my memory by Your mercy. I am now ﬁrm and free from doubt and am prepared to act according to Your instructions.
Now let us try to churn this verse.
My dear Kṛṣṇa: Krishna is our dear friend , suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānāṁ , actually Krishna is our only real friend, and He never let’s His devotee down.
O infallible one:Krishna is known as Achytua .
He never fails in His affection for His devotees, and thus He is addressed herein as infallible…..In all circumstances, He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Krishna is absolute and remains so under all conditions, Krishna is glorified in every single form or lila he manifests. Whether he takes birth inside a prison in Mathura and present Himself as a fully decorated newly born baby with four arms in front of his wonderstruck parents, or while playing games with his cowherd friends in Vrindavan or stealing butter from the homes of gopis, or running away from battle- ‘Ranchorh’, even when he manifest Himself as a stone, Shaligram, He is the same Krishna. Like an actor Krishna comes in various guises, sometimes as a bird (swan), as an animal (boar), as a fish or what’s more dramatic than bursting out of a pillar as half lion-half man! His supreme position is never challenged, He is the infallible master in all circumstances.
my illusion is now gone: What is my present consciousness? Am I still living under an illusion even after being in the movement for so long. Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport – In illusion the living entity is serving in this material world. He is bound by his lust and desires, yet he thinks of himself as the master of the world. This is called illusion.
Am I living a life where I think that I am the controller, I am the master and I am the enjoyer? Am I gradually developing the consciousness of being a servant of Krishna, which should be my only identity, rest are simply the services Krishna has given me.
The best way to destroy illusion is by daily reading Srila prabhupada’s books. How much is my daily reading?
I have regained my memory: Have I regained me memory as an eternal servant of Krishna? What is my consciousness while interacting with my family, my colleagues at work, …
Srila Prabhupada gives us a very simple solution to revive our lost memory
One’s memory of Kṛṣṇa is revived by chanting the mahā-mantra, Hare Kṛṣṇa. By this practice of chanting and hearing the sound vibration of the Supreme Lord, one’s ear, tongue and mind are engaged. This mystic meditation is very easy to practice, and it helps one attain the Supreme Lord.
How sincerely am I trying to chant my 16 rounds?
by Your mercy: We should know by now that we cannot succeed by our own efforts alone. However if our efforts are sincere, and honest, then it will attract Krishna’s mercy. The two finger principle-
Thus although mother Yasoda, in her attempt to bind Krishna, added one rope after another, ultimately she was a failure. When Krishna agreed, however, she was successful. In other words, one must be in transcendental love with Krishna, but that does not mean that one can control Krishna . When Krishna is satisfied with one’s devotional service, He does everything Himself…He reveals more and more to the devotee as the devotee advances in service.
Krishna says in BG 15.15 mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca, from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness.
Everything- remembrance, knowledge, forgetfulness is coming from Krishna, everything is in the lotus like hands of Sri Govindadev!
I am now ﬁrm: to make progress in bhakti we need to be firm in our enthusiasm, determination and patience! Without them it will be difficult to make progress. We have to be firm in following the process given by Srila Prabhupada, follow four regulative principles, try to chant 16 sincere rounds, everyday read Srila Prabhupada’s books and regularly associate with devotees who are senior than us.
and free from doubt: One way to become free from doubt is by asking questions. Asking questions is a sign of intelligence. We should clear our doubts without hesitation or feeling embarrassed in front of others. Arjuna asked so many questions from Krishna in Bhagavad Gita. Srimad Bhagavatam is all about questions and answers. This is the way to clear our doubts.
Guru Maharaj once told us that even if you do not have any question and may think I have understood everything, still we should ask question so that we can verify if I have understood correctly!
and am prepared: Our primary method to prepare ourselves is by regular Sravanam kirtanam but we should not forget the golden rule which Srila Prabhupada repeated multiple times sevonmukhe hi jihvādau.
To associate with the holy name and chant the holy name is to associate with the Personality of Godhead directly. In the Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu it is clearly said, sevonmukhe hi jihvädau svayam eva sphuraty adaù [Brs. 1.2.234]. The holy name becomes manifest when one engages in the service of the holy name. This service in a submissive attitude begins with one’s tongue. Sevonmukhe hi jihvädau: One must engage his tongue in the service of the holy name. Our Krishna consciousness movement is based on this principle. We try to engage all the members of the Krishna consciousness movement in the service of the holy name. Since the holy name and Krishna are nondifferent, the members of the Krishna consciousness movement not only chant the holy name of the Lord offenselessly, but also do not allow their tongues to eat anything that is not first offered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
(CC Adi 8.16p)
to act: Bhakti means action, action in knowledge and with love. That is why Srila Prabhupada translated bhakti as devotional service not devotion. Love means reciprocation, which naturally culminates in loving service. My actions, coupled with the consciousness with which I am doing it, will attract Krishna’s mercy.
according to Your instructions: To advance in Krishna consciousness we should receive instructions from our diksha/shiksha guru. Generally we may not receive any direct instructions from our guru because we may not have the qualification to follow them. We can, however, prepare ourselves to receive direct instructions by following the primary instruction given at the time of initiation – chant 16 rounds offenselessly!
In the Bhagavad-gétä (18.66) Lord Krishna instructs His disciple Arjuna, “Just surrender unto Me, and I shall protect you from all sinful reactions.” And Arjuna accepts Krishna’s instruction with the words kariñye vacanaà tava: “I will do as You say.” (Bhagavad-gétä 18.73) If we follow Arjuna’s example, we will be in direct contact with Krishna, and we will be able to surmount all difficulties in both our spiritual and material life. We hear the instructions of Krishna via the unbroken chain of disciplic succession (guru-paramparä). Acceptance of these instructions is called çikñä, or voluntarily following the instruction of the spiritual master. The independent nature of the living entity is that he does not want to follow the instructions of another living being, however pure. But when one voluntarily agrees to obey the orders of the spiritual master, one is following the orders of Krishna, and thus one’s life becomes perfect.
All the Upanisads are like a cow, and the milker of the cow is Lord Shri Krishna, the son of Nanda. Arjuna is the calf, the beautiful nectar of the Gita is the milk, and the fortunate devotees of fine theistic intellect are the drinkers and enjoyers of that milk.
(Gita Mahatmya, verse 6)
Taking a cue from the above, if all the Upanishads are like a cow then
Srimad Bhagavatam is like a Surabhi cow, and the milker of this Surabhi cow is Śukadeva Gosvāmī. Parīkṣit’s Maharaj is the calf, the ‘rasa’ or mellow of devotional service is the milk, and the paramahaṁsas, devotees who are already on the liberated platform, are the drinkers and enjoyers of this milk.
One should learn how to associate with the devotees of the Lord by gathering with them to chant the glories of the Lord. This process is most purifying. As devotees thus develop their loving friendship, they feel mutual happiness and satisfaction. And by thus encouraging one another they are able to give up material sense gratification, which is the cause of all suffering.
Let us pray to the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada as we try to churn every line of this verse, simply by his mercy may we be blessed with just a few drops from it!
One should learn how to associate with the devotees of the Lord: To be able to progress in Krishna consciousness and proceed towards the madhyam culture, we need to associate with devotees and develop friendship with them.This is not something which comes naturally to many of us. Bhagavatam knows our conditioning, so it is directing us to ‘learn it’. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that Love for Krishna is reflected as friendship with devotees in the material world, they are two sides of the same coin. Sometimes we may excuse ourselves by saying ‘I am an introvert’ or ‘it isn’t my nature to mix with everyone’ but if we wish to make progress in spiritual journey then it is very important to develop friendship with other devotees. We can begin by regularly associating with like minded devotees. We have to shift towards our ‘real’ nature, what is practiced in Goloka.
By gathering with them to chant the glories of the Lord: What do we do when we associate with devotees? Do we share some juicy gossip, of course about the devotees only, after all we are concerned with them only or do we share some tricky temple issue, where we ourselves have no influence, or discuss some scandal or ask about the weather or family or so many other topics? Bhagavatam is saying meet and chant the glories of the Lord.
A devotee once shared how he once saw two Mathura Brahmins who met after many years. When these two Brahmins saw each other from a distance they started pacing towards each other and then as they came closer the devotee saw that both of them were reciting Bhagavatam verses loudly! The devotee said he was very surprised to witness such an interaction where instead of talking about well being, family, kids, etc. they were spontaneously reciting Bhagavatam verses one after another.
We can appreciate as the strong attachment of Brahmins to Srimad Bhagavatam came out naturally. We can’t imitate them but we can definitely take an inspiration from them and also understand that such strong attachment for Srimad Bhagvatam verses is resulting from a strong attachment to daily reading of Srimad Bhagavatam.
This process is most purifying: Our bonafide process for internal purification is Sravanam Kirtanam. This has been stressed repeatedly in Srimad Bhagavatam and hundreds of times by Srila Prabhupada in his lectures and purports. Its a very simple and yet effective process.
These nine processes, of which the easiest is çravaëam, hearing the Bhagavad-gétä from the realized person, will turn one to the thought of the Supreme Being. This will lead to remembering the Supreme Lord and will enable one, upon leaving the body, to attain a spiritual body which is just fit for association with the Supreme Lord.
As devotees thus develop their loving friendship, they feel mutual happiness and satisfaction: Srimad Bhagavatam is again stressing that we need to develop, and cultivate, loving friendship with devotees. It may not come naturally to us in the beginning therefore we need to practice it consciously (not artificially). We will then feel satisfaction, resulting in increased mutual enthusiasm for Krishna consciousness, a feeling of satisfaction and a happiness from within.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura describes the transcendental symptom of those devotees who have developed a real taste for hearing & chanting the glories of Krishna, in the association of other devotees, in his commentary of SB 1.5.11 –
The devotees hear, and having heard, sing, and having sung, again they hear, since they are not fully satiated. Or if a speaker is present, they hear the glories. If a hearer is present they speak the glories . And, otherwise, they spontaneously sing the glories.
And by thus encouraging one another they are able to give up material sense gratification, which is the cause of all suffering: At our level, one big reason for not progressing in Krishna consciousness is not our inability to chant additional rounds, memorise more verses, and so on but simply because we still have desires (consciously or subconsciously) to enjoy this material world. We very well know that the result of all such desires will be that we come back here again and again.
Now do we know of a more easier, and simpler process, to give up sense gratification than described above? What is aimed, and rarely achieved, by big big jnanis and yogis, can be very easily, and joyfully, achieved even by aspiring devotees. Sometimes our mind may find few solutions sound too easy to be true but then we underestimate the mercy of Krishna and the potency of Srimad Bhagavatam.
The result of such association with devotees is very sweetly described in the purport of this verse –
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura has pointed out that glorification of the Supreme Lord is especially potent when performed in the association of pure devotees. When devotees engage in saṅkīrtana, chanting the glories of the Lord together, they experience the highest transcendental bliss and satisfaction. Thus they encourage one another to give up material sense gratification, which is based on illicit sexual connections with women. One devotee will say to another, “Oh, you have given up sense gratification. Starting today, I shall also give it up.”
Srila Prabhupada sums up!
A place immediately becomes Vaikuṇṭha whenever the holy topics of the Personality of Godhead are discussed by pure devotees. This is the process of śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ, chanting and hearing about the Supreme Lord, Viṣṇu. As the Supreme Lord Himself confirms:
“My dear Nārada, actually I do not reside in My abode, Vaikuṇṭha, nor do I reside within the hearts of the yogīs, but I reside in that place where My pure devotees chant My holy name and discuss My form, pastimes and qualities.” Because of the presence of the Lord in the form of the transcendental vibration, the Vaikuṇṭha atmosphere is evoked.
I pray that by the mercy and potency of Srila Prabhupada we can all taste some butter from this milk we tried to churn today.