We all have our own experiences of reading Srila Prabhupada’s books and getting better understanding of our philosophy, principles, etc. As we develop more faith, study his books more carefully, also hear them from the mouth of the pure devotees, then we get realisations in our heart. This blissful and transcendental process forever continues in the life a sincere and a faithful follower, anandambudhi-vardhanam.
Today morning I read a very heart touching purport from Srimad Bhagavatam, (SB 11.3.24p). I am sharing the same with you all, the bold portions are from the above mentioned purport.
Specifically one should study those books which increase one’s desire to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
This touched my heart and also gave me an amazing guide on how to measure how is my reading. After reading a book I can look back and check “has my desire to serve Krishna increased or not?”
The purport then goes on to emphasize that Srila Prabhupada has written so many book for this purpose only –
‘when the principle of svādhyāyam, or Vedic study, is applied to these books, such as Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Bhagavad-gītā As It Is, Caitanya-caritāmṛta and The Nectar of Devotion, the sincere reader becomes infused with the ecstatic determination to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead.’
Simply reading these lines increased my faith in regularly and carefully reading and studying only Srila Prabhupada books and our goal should be to get infused with bhakti, service to Krishna and His devotees.
The purport ends with these lines-
..nor should one try to read many books to increase his false prestige as a so-called scholar. One should read those books which inspire practical spiritual advancement in knowledge and renunciation, as exemplified by the books of Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Our Acharaya says :
If you want to stay in Krsna Consciousness you will have to develop firm faith in Guru and Sastra. Therefore, you must study my books very scrutinizingly, follow the four regulative principles very strictly and chant 16 rounds daily avoiding the ten offenses. Don’t take this movement as something cheap.
(Srila Prabhupada’s letter to Srutadeva, 30th Oct 1976)
Today is the appearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, the spiritual master of Srila Prabhupada.
Few weeks ago a senior Vaishnava shared a revolutionary article by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, which I am sharing with you below. It is deep and very insightful and can give us key(s) to make a very rapid progress in Krishna consciousness by changing our outlook towards the world and our selves.
“The world stands in no need of any reformer. The world has a very competent person for guiding its minutest happenings. The person who determines that there is scope for reform of the world, himself stands in need of reform. The world goes on in its own perfect way.
No person can deflect it even the breadth of a hair from the course chalked out for it by providence. When we perceive any change being actually effected in the course of events of this world by the agency of any particular individual, we must know very well that the agent possesses no real power at any stage. The agent finds himself driven forward by a force belonging to a different category from himself. The course of the world does not require to be changed by the agency of any person. What is necessary is to change our outlook on this world.
This was done for the contemporary generation by the mercy of Sri Caitanya. It can only be known to recipients of his mercy. The scriptures declare that it is only necessary to listen with an open mind to the name of Krishna from the lips of a bonafide devotee. As soon as Krishna enters the listening ear, he clears up the vision of the listener so that he no longer has any ambition of ever acting the part of a reformer of any other person, because he finds that nobody is left without the very highest guidance. It is therefore his own reform that he is increasingly able to realize, by the eternally continuing mercy of the Supreme Lord.”
(Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur in The Harmonist, May 1932, issue no. 11)
At first go it may look like going against the preaching spirit of the devotees, but the above golden lines are like the light from the spiritual lighthouse by which all of us, preachers included, can seek the right direction, remain grounded and persist on the right track. If we carefully read above lines repeatedly, and contemplate on them, then we can unlock many a closed doors that may be blocking our progress in Krishna consciousness and receive profound wisdom available via disciplic succession.
As I sat relishing the above lines, trying, unsuccessfully, to seek entry to the above, the famous verse from Sri Isopanisad came into my consciousness.
The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the Complete Whole is also complete in itself. Because He is the Complete Whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance.
(Sri Isopanisad, invocation)
Srila Prabhupada imbibed this very mood!
“Actually I am not worthy of any one of the words spoken by you but all of them are due to my Spiritual Master Who was so kind to me. In fact I am a worthless person because my Spiritual Master ordered me to take up this work in 1922 but I did not carry his order until 1958, when I was obliged to carry out His order by His arrangement only. This means although I was not very enthusiastic to carry out His order He forced me circumstantially to accept it. So this is His special mercy upon me and I always think about this with gratitude to this exalted personality coming directly from Vaikuntha World and we had the great fortune to meet Him. I think that is the only credit on our part that we happened to meet Him by some ‘ajnata sukriti’ or unknown auspicious activities. He is so kind upon me that when I came to your country, where I was completely unknown, He sent to me some good souls like you unsolicited. So I accept you all as assistants or representatives of my Guru Maharaja Who is still helping me because I am so feeble and unworthy. Anyway, the business which we have taken to work together is neither your business nor my business as far we are personally concerned, but it is the business of Lord Caitanya and His bona fide servants like my Guru Maharaja. Therefore it is the duty of all of us to execute it as nicely as far as possible within our capacity. In other words, we shall just try to discharge our responsible duties faithfully and seriously, then all facilities will come for our help.”
(Srila Prabhupada Letter to Hayagriva dasa, January 1, 1970)
“My Spiritual Master has given me the instruction to spread this movement all over the world and you are my good disciples, are helping me do this. Without your good help I could not have done anything, so practically you can take all the credit for spreading this Krishna Consciousness movement and fulfilling the prophecy of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. If there is some incident and I claim that no one is cooperating with me or no one will work with me, that is my defect, not theirs. The Vaisnava devotee must think like this. We should not find fault with others and criticize and go away, that is not the Vaisnava way. Better we should always be willing to offer all respects to others and consider them as our superiors always.”
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, August 26, 1972)
This is the ‘safest’ way to make real progress!
Devotee: You must be higher than the paramahamsa stage, Prabhupada.
Prabhupada: I am lower than you. I am lower than you.
Devotee: You are so beautiful. You are paramahamsa, but still, you are preaching to us.
Prabhupada: No, I am lower than you. I am the lowest of the all creatures. I am simply trying to execute the order of my spiritual master. That’s all. That should be the business of everyone. Try best. Try your best to execute the higher order. That is the safest way of progressing. One may be in the lowest stage, but if he tries to execute the duty entrusted upon him, he is perfect. He may be in lowest stage, but because he is trying to execute the duty entrusted to him, then he is perfect. That is the consideration.”
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Surat, December 19, 1970)
Srila Prabhupada’s secret- he knew who was actually doing it !
“Therefore sometimes, when people say in India, ‘Swamiji, you have done wonderful.’ And yes, I do not know. I’m not a magician. But, so far I am confident that I did not adulterate the words of Krishna. That’s all. That’s my credit. I did not like to take the position of Krishna. I remained a servant of Krishna, and I spoke what Krishna said. That’s all. This is my secret. So everyone can do that. There is nothing magic. The magic will act as soon as you become a pure devotee of Krishna. The magic will be done by Krishna, not by me or you. He will do it.
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Los Angeles, May 19, 1972)
We, Gaudiya Vaishanavas, are supposed to follow the mood of Vrajavasis. Among the Vrajavasis the mood and service of gopis is considered the highest. During the day gopis were always busy in one main activity – churning butter. How can we follow this practice in the modern age of Kali-yuga?
We can very easily follow gopis by churning the verses of bhakti scriptures, especially Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. If we sincerely try to churn these verses with love and devotion then by the mercy of Supreme Lord we may be rewarded with very soft and delicious butter.
Let us pick a well-known verse from Bhagavad Gita,
Therefore get up. Prepare to ﬁght and win glory. Conquer your enemies and enjoy a ﬂourishing kingdom. They are already put to death by My arrangement, and you, O Savyasācī, can be but an instrument in the ﬁght.
Now let us pray to Srila Prabhupada and try churning every single line of the above translation and see what kind of butter comes out it.
Therefore get up : Krishna says, My bhakti means action. Bhakti-yoga doesn’t entail sitting idle but acting for Krishna. That’s why my eternal associate whom I have sent to guide you and whom you lovingly call Srila Prabhupada, translated bhakti as devotional service and NOT simply devotion.
Prepare to ﬁght and win glory: Krishna says, if you are My devotee then be prepared to serve my plan – to give a chance to all the conditioned souls to come back to Me, back to Godhead. Apply to join My army (associate with My devotees). Admission is very easy and with a little strength (faith) you can join in. All new recruits begin with training, which begins immediately- by starting to practice Krishna consciousness. Discipline is mandatory- follow all the rules and regulations of Krishna consciousness diligently.
Training is not just physical but also mental, intellectual and beyond it. All very useful in a war- chant sincerely, start reading the scriptures carefully and attentively which I, and My devotees, have left for you. Contemplate on them and apply them in your life.
There are scheduled and surprise tests- be ready to show your sincerity when you face challenges in life.
Having passed the tests (with some bruises and good lessons learnt), you will be invited to formally join one unit of My army- take shelter of a bonafide guru in a vaishnava sampradaya.
You are now a formal lieutenant in My army – become initiated. After being appointed formally in My prestigious Army you will receive additional facilities and perks – gradually the essence of all scriptures will start getting revealed in your heart.
In the meantime do not sit idle but start preaching, simply repeat whatever you have read, do not add or subtract anything, for a soldier to survive in army (or in a war) discipline is critical.
Gradually you shall acquire weapons (realisations) which will make you stronger day by day (increased faith). Being empowered with these unique weapons (realisations) and strength (faith) you will win glory.
Conquer your enemies: There are different sets of enemies- external as well as internal.
External enemy is maya – forgetfulness of my eternal relationship with Krishna.
Internal : Internal enemies are very dangerous. These are Kama (lust), krodha (anger), lobha (greed), moha (attachment), mada (pride) and matsarya (jealousy)
Final frontier: Win over five kind of material attachments : ignorance, false ego, attachment to the material world, envy and absorption in material consciousness.
And enjoy a flourishing kingdom: There is only one kingdom which flourishes eternally- Vaikuntha. It is eternal, full of knowledge and full of bliss. In comparison the material world is temporary and full of miseries.
They are already put to death by My arrangement: Those who do not take shelter of My devotees remain forever in the cycle of birth and death. Their consciousness remains shrunk- to a level of 1/10,000 part of the tip of the top of a hair!
O Savyasācī, can be but an instrument in the ﬁght: Each and every one of My dear devotee can become an instrument in My hand and enjoy My association. For this you do not even have to wait to leave this body and enter Vaikuntha (or Goloka Vrindavan) but you will be able to see My presence in everything around you and you will be able to hear My instructions from within. With gradual promotion you will also get the privilege to drink Somarasa – feel nectar in the heart while reading bhakti scriptures.
The objective of life is not simply a subject of debate or speculation. The ultimate aim of life is to realize that supreme object, the Personality of Godhead. Buddhi-yoga, or Krishna consciousness, means to become absorbed in serving the Supreme Lord and His name, qualities, form, pastimes, etc. In other words, it means becoming an instrument for His satisfaction. We have to become infused with His spiritual potency; thus strengthened, we then have to make the propagation of His transcendental glories our prime duty in life. By means of such Potent missionary activities, innumerable jévas can experience endless spiritual joy.
(Renunciation through wisdom, chapter 5)
I hope and pray that you liked the taste of little butter we tried to churn. In case of any complaints or suggestions, please mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Let us hear about Krishna’s birth in Gokula and His immediate activities, then see if the sweetness of His divine pastimes can penetrate our steel framed heart and touch some deep spot within us. Can we develop a greed to know, and meet, this blue-hued cowherd boy with blooming eyes like lotus petals, with head decked with peacock’s feather and a beauty which charms millions of Cupids.
The time for an appearance of the Lord coincided with two internal desires of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. First the Lord desired to descend on earth to increase the fortune of Yasoda and Nanda. Also at that time Krishna wanted to relish the sweet mellow of srngara rasa (paramour love) while enacting His worldly pastimes. For these two reasons the Lord appeared within the material creation on Bhuloka, (earth planet), along with His parents, friends, and other eternal associates
Shri Nanda, Yasoda, and others appeared in Brhadvana (Mahavana) before the Lord. The gopas, gopis, and other eternally liberated associates appeared after the Lord. Then those who had attained perfection by sadhana, namely the sruti-caris and muni-caris, took birth in Vrndavana.Learning of Krishna’s imminent appearance, the earth personified, feeling like a wife happily greeting her husband after a long separation, immersed in unlimited joy. At the time of Krishna’s birth the general mass of people tasted the inner bliss that devotees forever relish. Auspicious signs abounded everywhere. As Vishnu’s conchshell Pancajanya opens in a clockwise fashion, similarly, auspicious sacrificial fires glowed in all directions. Pure gentle breezes brought a refreshing coolness like devotees who satisfy and sanctify everyone with their calm, sweet, and affectionate behavior. The whole atmosphere became as completely purified as the heart of a devotee. The devotees once again found peace and prosperity in worshiping the lotus feet of Lord Hari. Fruits filled the jubilant trees.
The bodies of all creatures manifested extraordinary beauty and youthful vitality. Men felt extremely joyful and displayed virtuous qualities. Throughout the world people behaved cordially and interacted amicably. Happiness twinkled in everyone’s eye.
At the end of Dvapara-yuga, which completely destroys faults and doubts, an auspicious, favorable, obstacle-free time appeared on the eighth day of the waning moon in Bhadra month. Just at that sweet moment the Rohini Naksatra, along with the good qualities of the moon and an auspicious conjunction of stars called Ayusman, appeared in the sky to give shelter to gentle persons.
Krishna at first manifests in Mathura
As the living entity comes out from the womb of his mother and the moon appears on the lap of the eastern direction, Yogesvara Shri Krishna, the personification of complete bliss, appeared amidst great festivities. As the moon appears in the lap of the eastern direction, which is like a beautiful bride, Krishna manifested the wonderful pastime of His appearance out of His love and compassion for the conditioned souls. Due to austerities performed in previous lives, Vasudeva and Devaki received the opportunity to momentarily relish parental affection for Lord Shri Krishna when He appeared before them in His form as Vasudeva.
But His final stop is somewhere else..
There after in fear of Kamsa, Vasudeva brought Vasudeva Krishna to Gokula. There the Supreme Lord appeared as Govinda before Nanda and Yasoda, His eternal parents who have been smothering Him with the sweetest form of parental love since time immemorial.
Lord Hari, who is bliss personified, appeared in the home of Nanda Maharaja, the king of Vrndavana for three reasons: to engage the self satisfied sages in devotional service, to please the devotees by performing sweet transcendental pastimes, and to relieve the earth’s burden caused by the demons. At the time of His majestic birth Krishna employed His inconceivable powers to appear in a body of eternity, bliss and knowledge.
Krishna’s birth in Gokula
Everyone in the maternity room swelled with joy upon seeing the Lord’s exquisite transcendental form that looked like a creeper of beauty.
Mother Yasoda resembled a lake of spiritual ecstasy in which a brilliant blue lotus of personified bliss had appeared. Neither the wind nor the bees relished the fragrance of that blue lotus. That unborn lotus was never touched by the waves of the modes of nature. Even Lord Brahma could not see it, what to speak of ordinary men. After Yasoda and her family members fell asleep in the maternity room, Hari cried beautifully like a newborn baby. His crying sounded like the maha-vakya omkara announcing the auspicious arrival of His pastimes. Omkara is a transcendental vibration that had previously emanated from the mouth of Lord Brahma. When the ladies of Vrindavana heard the sweet sound of Krishna’s crying, they woke up and ran to see the Lord. With the mellow of their matchless overflowing affection they anointed His body.
His transcendental body
The natural fragrance of Krishna’s body smelled just like musk. After the ladies bathed Krishna in sweet ambrosia, He looked cleansed and beautiful. Then they smeared His body with fragrant sandalwood pulp. The presiding deity of the house sent a campaka flower resembling the flame of a lamp into the maternity room to worship that ornament of the three worlds. With the strength of His little arms, delicate as the tender leaves of a tree, Krishna made all the lamps in the maternity room look like a garland of lotus flower buds. The ladies of Vrndavana saw baby Krishna like a blossoming flower made of the best of blue sapphires, or like a newly unfurled leaf of a tamala tree. Krishna looked like a fresh rain cloud decorated with the musk tilaka of the goddess of fortune of the three worlds. The ointment of the greatest auspiciousness lined His eyes. His presence filled the maternity room with good fortune. Although a mere baby, Krishna had a head full of curly hair. To hide the unique signs on His hands (goad, fish, conch etc.) the Lord folded His delicate petal-like fingers into His lotus palm. At that time Krishna laid on His back with His eyes closed.
The spontaneous love of mother Yasoda
Mother Yasoda awoke amidst the joyous chattering of the elderly gopis. Leaning over the bed she admired her gorgeous son. But upon noticing her own reflection on Krishna’s body, she imagined it another woman. Thinking that a witch had assumed her form to kidnap Krishna, Yasoda became bewildered and yelled, “Get out of here! You go away!” Spontaneously she cried out to Nrsimhadeva to protect her precious son. Beholding Krishna’s tender face, Yasoda showered tears of affection that looked like an offering of a pearl necklace.Yasoda saw Krishna’s body as a mound of dark blue musk, softer than the butter churned from the milk ocean. Overflowing with nectar, His charming body appeared like the foam of milk, but being dark blue in color it seemed the foam was full of musk juice. Admiring the supremely delicate form of her son, Yasoda worried about His safety and feared the touch of her body might hurt his tender body.
As she leaned over the bed Yasoda bathed Krishna with the milk dripping from her breasts. The elderly gopis instructed Yasoda how to caress the baby in her lap, and affectionately push the nipple of her breast into Krishna’s mouth to feed Him. Due to Yasoda’s intense love, personified bliss flowed from her breasts as steady streams of milk. When milk sometimes spilled out of Krishna’s bimba fruit red lips onto His cheeks, Mother Yasoda would wipe His face with the edge of her cloth. After feeding her son, Yasoda gazed affectionately at Him in wonder.
She saw her child’s body as made of dazzling blue sapphires. His mouth resembled a red bimba fruit and His hands and feet looked like exquisite rubies. Krishna’s nails shone like precious gems. In this way, Yasoda thought her child was completely made of jewels. Then she perceived that His naturally reddish lips looked like bandhuka flowers, His hands and feel resembled Java flowers, His nails looked like mallika flowers. Yasoda then thought, “Krishna’s whole body seems to be made of blue lotus flowers. He does not appear to be mine.” After thus deliberating within herself Yasoda became stunned in amazement.
The beautiful, soft curly hairs on the right side of Krishna’s chest resembled the tender stems of a lotus. Seeing the mark of Shrivatsa on His chest Yasoda thought it was breast milk that had previously spilled out of His mouth. She tried unsuccessfully to remove these ‘milk stains’ with the edge of her cloth. Struck with wonder, Yasoda thought this must be the sign of a great personality. Observing the sign of Laksmi (a small golden line) on the left side of Krishna’s chest, Yasoda thought a small yellow bee had made a nest amidst the leaves of a tamala tree. Could this be a streak of lightning resting on a rain cloud, or could it be the golden streaks marking a black gold-testing stone? Krishna’s delicate, leaf-like hands and fee glowing pink like the rising sun, looked like clusters of lotus flowers flowing in the Yamuna.
All attractive Krishna
Sometimes Yasoda saw the curly, dark blue locks of baby Krishna as swarm of bumblebees surrounding His face. Intoxicated from drinking too much honey nectar, the bees just hovered in the sky. His thick, beautiful blue hair appeared like the dark night. The two lotus eyes of Krishna looked like a pair of blue lotus buds. His cheeks resembled two huge bubbles floating in a lake of liquefied blue sapphires. Krishna’s attractive ears looked like a pair of fresh unfurled leaves growing on a blue creeper.
The tip of Krishna’s dark nose appeared like the sprout of a tree, and His nostrils looked like bubbles in the Yamuna River, the daughter of the sun god. His lips resembled a pair of red Java flower buds. Krishna’s chin rivaled a pair of ripe, red jambu fruits. Seeing the extraordinary beauty of her son fulfilled the purpose of her eyes and submerged Yasoda in an ocean of bliss.
Nanda maharaja’s arrival
The elderly Vrajavasi ladies addressed Vrajaraja Nanda, “O most fortunate one, you fathered a son!” Previously Nanda Maharaja had felt deeply aggrieved over his long-standing inability to obtain a son. His heart was like a small lake that had completely dried up during a long hot summer. But when Nanda Maharaja heard of his son’s birth he felt as if the dry lake of his heart had been blessed with a sudden downpour of nectar. The gentle sound of Krishna’s voice removed all his grief and lamentation. Now he bathed in the rains of bliss, swam in the ocean of nectar, and felt embraced by the joyful stream of the celestial Ganges.
Eager to see his son, Nanda’s body thrilled with astonishment and waves of ecstasy as he stood outside the maternity room. Because he had accumulated heaps of pious activities, it appeared that the King of Vrndavana was now shaking hands with the personification of pious deeds. Anxiously standing in the background, Yogamaya induced Nanda Maharaja to enter the maternity room. He rushed in to see his son, the personified seed of condensed bliss. It seemed that all the auspiciousness of the three worlds now resided within Krishna, the original cause of everything. Nanda saw his son as a perfectly charming person. The kajala around Krishna’s eyes looked like lines on a black creeper of beauty. As the very embodiment of Nanda’s good fortune, Shri Krishna bloomed like a beautiful flower in a garden of desire trees.
Let the festivities begin
Cymbals, damru drums, bherries, and big drums vibrated auspicious sounds in specific melodies. A celestial concert of precise poetical meters, proper rhythms, and metrical compositions suddenly manifested there. The musical ensemble inspired the society girls to sing and dance in mirth and merriment. Though not good singers, by the will of the Lord they sang with great virtuoso. Their wonderful songs filled Nanda Maharaja’s heart with joy. The combined vibrations of brahmanas’ chanting Vedic hymns, the recitation of Puranic lore, and the panegyrics’s prayers transformed the ether into sabda brahman.
The joy of Krishna’s birth celebration taxed the drains of Nanda’s capital city as they swelled to the brim with milk, yogurt, and other auspicious liquids. Soon rivers of this nectar flooded the streets of the town and permeated the entire atmosphere with a sweet fragrance. Disguising themselves as birds, the demigods descended to Vrajapura to happily drink the flood of nectar. The Vrajavasis decorated their cows with gold and jeweled ornaments. Then in great excitement they smeared them with oil, fresh butter, and turmeric paste. Beholding Krishna in their hearts, these fortunate cows looked like the essence of the earth’s auspicious-ness. The whole world resounded with their jubilant bellowing. Absorbed in the ecstasy of Krishna’s birth, they forgot about eating and drinking. The festival drowned the gopis in an ocean of joy. After offering oil, vermilion, garlands, and utensils in charity to all the assembled gopis, Rohini, the wife of Vasudeva, asked them to bless Krishna. Upon completion of the sacrifice, Upananda and the other relatives felt constant happiness while taking their baths. Keeping the King of Vrindavana in the front, Nanda’s relatives offered opulent cloth, jeweled ornaments, tambula, garlands, and sandalwood pulp to the guests. Then they humbly requested all in attendance to bless that wonderfully auspicious boy who had just appeared in Vrindavana.
(Ananda Vrindavana Champu, chapter 2)
He who accepts this truth (that Krishna’s appearance and activities are transcendental) 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 Kåñëa 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. In other words, such a faithful devotee of the Lord attains perfection.
Please accept my humble wishes and prayers for a very happy Janmashtami.
As we come into Krishna consciousness then many a times we may get lost in the philosophy itself. The mind too likes newer subjects and intellect is also satisfied by gaining deeper understanding. However we should be careful not to feel satisfied remaining at these levels. Most of us do understand that our real position in the material world is not unlike that of a criminal put in a prison for reform. Criminals can also, rather they do, have high level of mental and intellectual capabilities!
The living entities who come in contact with the material world are meant to be corrected. All the living entities within this material world have revolted against the service of the Lord, and therefore they remain within this material world as ever conditioned, nitya-baddha, taking birth again and again.
Old habits die hard!
The only way to permanently change the criminal habit is to change the heart of the criminal. As you well know, many thieves are arrested numerous times and put into jail. Although they know that if they commit theft they will go to jail, still they are forced to steal because of their unclean hearts. Therefore without cleansing the heart of the criminal, you cannot stop crime simply by more stringent law enforcement. The thief and the murderer already know the law, yet they still commit violent crimes, due to their unclean hearts. So our process is to cleanse the heart. Then all the troubles of this material world will be solved.
(SSR chapter 6)
We may be surprised to know that the whole process of ‘sadhna bhakti’ is to change our heart!
The whole process of spiritual culture is aimed at changing the heart of the living being in the matter of his eternal relation with the Supreme Lord as subordinate servant, which is his eternal constitutional position.
It is expected by all means that by discharging regulated devotional service one must manifest the change of heart.
What exactly we mean by ‘change of heart’?
Change of heart means that my ‘Thinking, feeling and willing’ has changed. Which means what all I think, what is my reaction to various every day situations or circumstances and finally my actions have changed. It does not mean that we have simply learnt the art of what not to speak, especially when we are among the devotees, but inside our heart reactions to their behavior remains same. It means not just externals (my dress, a new name, my eating habits, my wake up time, etc. ) but I have changed, or changing, internally as well.
So what if change of heart has still not happened?
If there is no such change, the heart must be considered steel-framed, for it is not melted even when there is chanting of the holy name of the Lord.
So philosophy has its place but as an aspiring devotee we should be more interested in the culture not merely philosophy. And what is culture? Philosophy lived is culture. In simple words it means that we intelligently, under the shelter of a devotee not my own mind, applying whatever we are reading in Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, etc., or whatever we are hearing (from a right source!). Without contemplation and then application all of it remains mere knowledge and will not result in any spiritual realisation. Realisation does not mean mere understanding rather it means they have entered into my day to day life.
What are the symptoms of change of heart ?
So with the progress of devotional service, the reaction of change in the heart is exhibited by gradual detachment from the sense of material enjoyment by a false sense of lording it over the world and an increase in the attitude of rendering loving service to the Lord.
How do I change my stone like heart ?
One who directly associates with the Supreme Lord by hearing of His activities cleanses the dirt from his mind and very soon comes to Kåñëa consciousness. Süta Gosvämé confirms this in Çrémad-Bhägavatam (1.2.17):
çåëvatäà sva-kathäù kåñëaù puëya-çravaëa-kértanaù
hådy antaù-stho hy abhadräëi vidhunoti suhåt-satäm
The Supreme Lord within everyone’s heart becomes very pleased when a person hears narrations of His activities, and He personally cleanses the dirt from the mind of the listener. Hådy antaù-stho hy abhadräëi vidhunoti: He washes off all dirt from the mind. Material existence is caused by dirty things within the mind. If one can cleanse his mind, he immediately comes to his original position of Kåñëa consciousness, and thus his life becomes successful. Therefore all the great saints in the devotional line very strongly recommend the process of hearing.
Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu introduced the congregational chanting of the Hare Kåñëa mantra to give everyone a chance to hear Kåñëa’s holy name, for simply by hearing Hare Kåñëa, Hare Kåñëa, Kåñëa Kåñëa, Hare Hare/ Hare Räma, Hare Räma, Räma Räma, Hare Hare, one becomes purified (ceto-darpaëa-märjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12]). Therefore our Kåñëa consciousness movement is chiefly engaged in chanting the Hare Kåñëa mantra all over the world.
As stated in Çrémad-Bhägavatam (1.2.18):
nañöa-präyeñv abhadreñu nityaà bhägavata-sevayä
bhagavaty uttama-çloke bhaktir bhavati naiñöhiké
“By regularly hearing the Bhägavatam and rendering service unto the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is practically destroyed, and loving service unto the glorious Lord, who is praised with transcendental songs, is established as an irrevocable fact.” In this way, simply by hearing of the powerful activities of the Lord, the devotee’s heart becomes almost completely cleansed of material contamination, and thus his original position as an eternal servant who is part and parcel of the Lord becomes manifest.
There are two kinds of çruti, or scripture. One is spoken by the Lord, and the other is spoken about the Lord and His devotees. Bhagavad-gétä is the former and Çrémad-Bhägavatam the latter. One must hear these scriptures repeatedly from reliable sources in order to become fixed in serious devotional service. Through engagement in such devotional service, one becomes freed from the contamination of mäyä. It is stated in the Çrémad-Bhägavatam that hearing about the Supreme Personality of Godhead cleanses the heart of all contamination caused by the influence of the three modes of material nature. By continuous, regular hearing, the effects of the contamination of lust and greed to enjoy or lord it over material nature diminish, and when lust and greed diminish, one then becomes situated in the mode of goodness. This is the stage of Brahman realization, or spiritual realization. In this way one becomes fixed on the transcendental platform. Remaining fixed on the transcendental platform is liberation from material entanglement.
Can my heart change just by hearing?
Çåëvatäà sva-kathäù kåñëaù. So we don’t say that “You change your profession, you change your position or occupation,” no. Please come and hear. Please… If you don’t chant, please hear. That hearing process also will cure you. Çravaëam kértanam. So people should come to our temple and hear this chanting, this… We are not taxing. We are not asking any… If you give some contribution, there is temple and management, there is expenditure, heavy expenditure, in this country. If you so kind… It is very kind of you. Even if you do not pay, you don’t like, please come. Please come and hear. Please bring your friends if you are really friend. So it is very nice thing. Sthäne sthitaù çruti-gatäà tanu-väì-manobhir. You remain what you are. We don’t say that you change, but you hear.
(Room conversation, 16th July 1968, Montreal)
What are the chances of success for a fallen soul like myself?
All the great äcäryas strongly recommend that people be given a chance to hear about the Supreme Lord. Then success is assured. The more we cleanse the dirt of material attachment from our hearts, the more we will be attracted by Kåñëa’s name, form, qualities, paraphernalia and activities. This is the sum and substance of the Kåñëa consciousness movement.
We must always remember that hearing and chanting are the basic principles of discharging devotional duties, and if they are properly performed there will follow the reactional ecstasy with signs of tears in the eyes and standing of the hairs on the body. These are natural consequences and are the preliminary symptoms of the bhäva stage, which occurs before one reaches the perfectional stage of prema, love of Godhead.
End Result : A stone like heart transforms into a fish! A fish that can swim in an ocean of love, love for our dear most Sri Sri Radha Shyama.
And where is such an ocean?
In conclusion to your letter you have asked as to where is the ocean of love? And I think that you may know that it is in your heart.
(Letter to Himavati — Los Angeles 12 December, 1968)
So it may not be such a bad idea to pray to Lord Balarama today, on His appearance day, to beg him for spiritual strength, so that we may feel inspired to daily, and carefully, read Bhagavad Gita & Srimad Bhagavatam and that we at least make an endeavor to chant without offences. Lord Balarama is the killer of Dhenukasura (the ass demon). So this ass who is with in us, who still does not listen to instructions of acharaya, can be very easily killed by Lord Balarama. A short and sincere prayer at His lotus feet today can be a good beginning today in our journey of change of heart!
We often read and hear, how being a devotee, our heart should be soft, full of humility and compassion for others. Sometime we are not even sure where to draw the final line as there are different instructions for devotees at different levels of consciousness. We do not even know what is true humility and many a times wonder how a pure Vaishnava thinks, what are his emotions and how does he acts?
Caitanya Mahaprabhu quoted the below verse, from Mahabharat, to a brahmana during his visit to Mathura
tarko ’pratiṣṭhaḥśrutayo vibhinnā
nāsāv ṛṣir yasya mataṁ na bhinnam
dharmasya tattvaṁ nihitaṁ guhāyāṁ
mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ
‘Dry arguments are inconclusive. A great personality whose opinion does not differ from others is not considered a great sage. Simply by studying the Vedas, which are variegated, one cannot come to the right path by which religious principles are understood. The solid truth of religious principles is hidden in the heart of an unadulterated, self-realized person. Consequently, as the śāstras confirm, one should accept whatever progressive path the mahājanas advocate.’
(CC Madhya 17.186)
There have been innumerable great devotees whose example we can take, Srimad Bhagavatam also mentions names of 12 mahajans. So which mahajan should we look up to?
Interestingly, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has stated that for us, Gaudia Vaishnava , the followers of Mahaprabhu are the modern mahajans. We should follow them. He writes :
The åñisand mahätmäswho have taught conduct before the appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are counted among the previous mahäjanas. The conduct seen in the mahäjanasafter the appearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the conduct of later mahäjanas. The conduct of the later mahäjanas is superior and should be adopted. The conduct of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His followers is meant to teach people, so that conduct should be followed in all respects.
So let us hear about the thinking, feeling and acting of one of such mahajans, Srila Haridas Thakur, whom Caitanya Mahaprabhu declared to be Namacharya of our sampradaya. So he is definitely qualified to be one of modern mahajans. Let us find about the condition of his heart from Caitanya Bhagavat, may be we feel inspired to have a re-look at our own heart.
Srila Haridas Thakur was born in a muslim family in a village called Buron, and because of his presence there, many people became purified and took up the chanting of the holy name. After some years he left his village and travelled to a place near the river Ganga. He finally settled in the village of Phulia near Santipura.
He passed his time wandering on the banks of the Ganga chanting the name of the Supreme Lord Krishna. It was common to see him dancing while he sang the glories of Lord Krishna’s name. People would gather around him just to see the unrestricted tears of love of Godhead that flowed profusely from his eyes, drenching his entire body. Even the strictest atheists marvelled at his behaviour.
The local Qazi became envious of Haridas Thakur’s popularity and reported to the Nawab, “This man is acting like a Hindu; arrest him and punish him appropriately.” Thus Haridas Thakura was arrested.
In the court he was accused of practicing Hindu religion despite being a muslim. When Srila Haridas Thakur replied that God is one and the difference between Hindu God and Muslim God is in Name only, he was sentenced by the Nawab to be lashed in 22 market places until he dies.
He was then dragged by the soldiers from one market place to another, lashing him mercilessly. By the grace of Lord Krishna, Haridasa felt little pain in his body. Just like Prahlada in the Srimad Bhagavatam who was tortured by demons, Haridas never suffered at all. Not only was Haridas freed from his pain, whoever remembers this story of Srila Haridas will also be saved from the miseries of life. Throughout his ordeal, Haridasa’s one emotion was pity for the sentries. “O Lord Krishna, please be merciful upon these poor souls sothey may not be punished because of me.”
(What would be our reaction if someone were to give us a humiliating public chastisement, or God forbid, a tight slap, for no fault of ours?)
What Krishna will not do for His pure devotee !
During Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mahaprakash pastime, He called for Haridas Thakur and shared that when Haridas Thakur was being beaten how Lord wanted to kill all the soldiers but He could not do so because Haridas Thakur himself was praying for those very soldiers!
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu revealed:
I hesitated in My heart to punish them for it will disturb you, knowing your compassionate nature.
My Sudarsan disc weapon was rendered impotent. I could not strike those men because you were determined to forgive them and so unable to see your misery I protected you from their lashes by placing My back on your back.
“I accepted all those lashes meant for you on My back, see the marks on my back.
Haridas Thakur’s glorification of Mahaprabhu
When Haridas heard about the Lord’s magnanimous deed he fell swooning to the ground. He lost all external consciousness and was immersed in an ocean of ecstasy.
Thakura Haridas said, “O Lord Visvambhara! You are the Lord and Protector of the Universe, now the responsibility of delivering a lowly fallen wretch like me rests on You, My Lord. How can I describe Your transcendental glories as I do not possess any good qualifications, I am sinful, and I am not even within the Vedic society.
(We all have many demoniac propensities but how do we see ourselves in the mirror every day?)
Just seeing me makes a person vulnerable to sin, and touching me makes one so contaminated that he must bath immediately; how can I say anything about Your divine pastimes?
(Whereas our mere touch or at least our power of speech is capable to turn any non-devotee into a devotee, God’s gift to mankind, only if others were to follow my instructions, or better, hear my pastimes!)
There is one fact that You yourself have stated, anyone remembering your lotus feet, be he an insignificant and fallen as an insect, is never forsaken by You. Whereas even a mighty king falls from grace if he disregards Your lotus feet. I am incapable of remembering You although I know you shelter the most impoverished soul if he simply remembers You.
(Remember Haridas Thakur would daily chant 300,000 names or 192 rounds every day. What most of us chant in 12 days!)
The evil Duryodhana and Suhsasana dragged the righteous Draupadi into the palace court wanting to disrobe her. Confronted with the danger of disgrace she remembered You, Krishna. And because of this You made her sari endlessly long by Your mystic potency. Yet the evil doers could not perceive Your hand in this.
I am so sinful that I cannot remember such a magnanimous Personality as You; O Lord! please therefore give me shelter at Your lotus feet.
The demon Hiranyakasipu inflicted all varieties of treachery and brutal methods trying to kill Prahlad like poisoning, hurling down from the mountain, throwing in boiling cauldron of oil etc. Yet throughout his tribulations Prahlad meditated upon Your lotus feet and was saved from each and every calmity. In this way You humbled many of his enemies and took away all their vitality and strength: finally You appeared in Person due to Prahlad’s meditation.
Once the five Pandavas were in grave dilemma fearing the wrath of Durvasa Muni, but by remembering You, You appeared personally and saved them. You calmed Yudhisthira Maharaja with your assuring words, see I am already here, you just sit down and relax and I will take care of Durvasa Muni and his army of disciples.”
Only the shred of vegetable left stuck to the side of the pot after the Pandavas had eaten was taken by; Lord Krishna relishing the thought of coming to His devotees aid. The sage with his disciples meanwhile bathing in the river suddenly felt full in the belly like having eaten a sumptuous meal” ashamed and tearful they fled.
The miraculous benefits of remembering Your lotus feet was amply demonstrated by the Pandavas in this incident. The path of true devotion for everyone is to remember You; You perform Your super excellent activities to rescue Your devotees.
(My own pastimes spontaneously start floating in my mind when I am chanting, for some strange reason happenings in my own life seems to be more interesting then Krishna’s pastimes)
“O Lord! I am such a destitute that I do not even possess the sweetness of Your memory and yet You have not forsaken me. Although I am unfit to see You, You are present before me in person. I am praying to You now for only one benediction.”
(Why is Krishna taking so much time to reciprocate? I am almost ready to join the boys!)
Lord Chaitanya replied, “Say all that you want to say, there is nothing that I do not want to give you.“
Haridas spoke to the Lord with folded hands, “O Lord, I have known only misfortune yet You give me so much hope. Just allow me to partake of the remnant of foodstuffs of Your devotees totally surrendered to Your lotus feet. Let this activity be my permanent and most prominent service life after life. My sinful birth and existence is miserable, without remembering You, but now please make my life successful by granting me the remnant of Your servitors.
(What! Not to become a gopi? Not even a gopa or even a simple servant of Krishna. We can close our eyes and consider what will be our reply if Krishna decides to manifest in front of us and says ‘Ask Me anything you may desire’)
I feel within my heart that I have committed a grave offense by asking of You to situate a elevated status of that of a Vaishnava, although I am grossly unfit.
( He is considering it an offense that he even asked or desired to come to the level of a Vaishnava!)
O Lord! my master, Protector and the maintainer of the entire creation, I am spiritually lifeless, therefore kindly forgive my ignorance.
(After joining ISKCON I have gathered so much information!)
O Lord Visvambhara, the beautiful son of Mother Saci, You are my master, so be merciful to me and keep me as a dog in the house of a Vaishnava.”
( Not even a cow ! who is at least tied within the boundary of the home. A dog is not even allowed inside a cultured Vaishnava’s home)
Haridas Thakur was overwhelmed by feeling of ecstatic devotional emotions and he repeatedly petitioned the Lord, his desire for humility and devotional service unfulfilled.
( We are feeling morose simply by reading what all is Haridas Thakur requesting from Mahaprabhu!)
Caitanya Mahaprabhu reveals His heart
Lord Chaitanya replied, “Listen My dear Haridas, you are a highly elevated Vaishnava, if anyone spends a day in your services and association or you kindly speak to someone for a short time, that person certainly achieves Me, there is no doubt about this. Whoever respects and serves you does so to Me also, for I perpetually reside within you.
As my servitor Your position is unique, you have therefore imprisoned Me within your heart eternally. I bless you that since you are crowned already with a faultless character that you will always continue to worship and serve Me and My devotees without a single deviation or offense.”
A tumultuous sound of joy from the Vaishnavas greeted Lord Chaitanya’s boon to Haridas Thakur. High birth, caste, fruitive activities or wealth are worthless commodities to achieve love of Godhead only the intense loving desire for Krishna can bring one to the lotus feet of Krishna.
Where do I go from here, I definitely have a long way to go!
In the spiritual matters there is no loss or anything disheartening everything has a positive outcome. Please rejoice as we read below the benediction of just hearing the above chapter from Caitanya Bhagavat, Madhya Lila, chapter 10.
One who hears this pastime of the Lord and Haridas Thakur with proper faith will certainly enjoy the fruit of Lord Krishna prema. These words are not my concoction but the bold declarations of all scriptures. One is sure to experience the bliss of devotional service to Lord Krishna if one hears the transcendental activities of the pure devotees of the Supreme Lord. All glories to Haridas Thakur, a giant amongst the Vaishnavas, remembering him one is freed from all sinful reactions.
So many times we hear the word ‘bhava’ among devotees that one should develop bhava for Krishna or so and so devotee has a very nice bhava. So what actually is this bhava? Is it emotions, is it feelings, is it love or is it a mixture of many things. Sometimes we use this term very casually or liberally in the devotee circles. Indeed, bhava, being the preliminary stage of elevation before the attainment of pure love of Krishna, is a very deep topic. It is meant to be discussed by paramahamsas or liberated devotees. However keeping the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada in our consciousness we can pray and try to taste a small drop from the unlimited ocean of nectar of devotion.
What is bhava ?
The state of being in love with the Godhead is compared to the sunshine emanating from the sun; this shining makes the devotee’s heart more and more lovely. The heart of such a devotee is situated in a transcendental position beyond even the mode of goodness. The process for making the heart even more sterilized by the sunshine of love is called bhäva.
(TLC , chapter 13)
How can I attain the state of Bhava ?
The transcendental ecstatic attachment for Kåñëa which results from perfectly understanding that Kåñëa’s person and name are identical is called bhäva. One who has attained bhäva is certainly not contaminated by material nature. He actually enjoys transcendental pleasure from bhäva, and when bhäva is intensified, it is called love of Godhead. Lord Caitanya told Prakäçänanda Sarasvaté that the holy name of Kåñëa, called the mahä-mantra (great chanting), enables anyone who chants it to attain the stage of love of Godhead, or intensified bhäva.
(TLC, chapter 19)
It all begins from hearing about Krishna and brings about Love for Krishna!
Generally we experience that people are primarily interested in seeing Kåñëa, but why is the emphasis on seeing? Let us hear about Him. We must come with a little faith, and as we hear, that faith will increase. One should come to the temple, listen to talks about Kåñëa, and then, after some time, officially take initiation into the service of the Lord. That is called bhajana-kriyä. At that time one has to abandon illicit sex, intoxication, meat-eating and gambling. If one is still attached to all these habits, he should know that he is not making progress. When one is actually advanced in bhajana-kriyä, all these anarthas (unwanted things) will be finished. paraà dåñövä nivartate [BG. 2.59]. When one appreciates something better, he rejects all kinds of nonsense. Once one gets a taste of Kåñëa consciousness, he cannot remain without it. A drunkard cannot remain without a drink, but a devotee is drunk with Kåñëa consciousness. The immunization against all material diseases is this Kåñëa consciousness. To be immuned to the infection of the guëas, we have to engage in bhakti-yoga. Once we attain the perfectional stage, we attain ecstatic love of Godhead. In that state we cannot remain without Kåñëa for a moment. That is called bhäva, and that bhäva may increase to mahä-bhäva. This is not possible for ordinary human beings, but it was possible for the gopés and Rädhäräëé. Indeed, they could not live without Kåñëa. This is the highest stage of liberation.
(TLK, chapter 8)
I want to hear more!
There are two characteristics by which the seeds of love of Godhead can develop, and these are known as rati, or attachment, and bhäva, the condition immediately preceding love of Godhead. It is by such attachment and bhäva that the Supreme Lord Çré Kåñëa is conquered by His devotees. These two characteristics are present before any symptoms of love of Godhead are manifest. This was all explained to Sanätana Gosvämé by Lord Caitanya. Lord Caitanya told him that since there is really no end to describing the system of devotional service with attachment, He is simply trying to offer a sampling. Lord Caitanya then described the ultimate goal of devotional service, which is meant for one who wants to attain perfection. When one’s attachment to Kåñëa becomes very deep, one attains the condition called love of Godhead. Such a state of existence is considered a permanent situation for a devotee.
In Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu (1.3.1) the state of being in love with the Godhead is compared to the sunshine emanating from the sun; this shining makes the devotee’s heart more and more lovely. The heart of such a devotee is situated in a transcendental position beyond even the mode of goodness. The process for making the heart even more sterilized by the sunshine of love is called bhäva. A description of bhäva is given by Rüpa Gosvämé. Bhäva is called the permanent characteristic of the living entity, and the crucial point of progress for bhäva is called the marginal state of love of Godhead. When the bhäva state becomes deeper and deeper, learned devotees call it love of Godhead. As stated in the Närada-païcarätra:
ananya-mamatä viñëau mamatä prema-saìgatä
bhaktir ity ucyate bhéñma-prahlädoddhava-näradaiù
“When one is firmly convinced that Viñëu is the only object of love and worship and that there is no one else—not even a demigod—worthy of receiving devotional service, one feels intimacy in his love relationship with God, and this is approved by such personalities as Bhéñma, Prahläda, Uddhava and Närada.”
If, due to some righteous activities which provoke devotional service, one is influenced by the service attitude and takes shelter of the good association of pure devotees, he develops attachment for hearing and chanting. By developing chanting and hearing, one can advance further and further in regulative devotional service to the Supreme Lord. As one so advances, his misgivings about devotional service and his attraction for the material world proportionately diminish. By advancing in hearing and chanting, a devotee becomes more firmly fixed in his faith, and gradually his initial faith develops into a taste for devotional service, and that taste gradually develops into attachment. When attachment becomes pure, it exhibits the two characteristics of bhäva and rati. When rati increases, it is called love of Godhead, and love of Godhead is the ultimate goal of human life.
This process is summarized by Rüpa Gosvämé in Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu (1.4.15-16): The first requirement is faith; it is due to faith that one associates with pure devotees, and, by such association, develops devotional service. As devotional service develops, one’s misgivings diminish. Then one is situated in firm conviction, and from that conviction he develops a taste for devotional service and advances to the stage of attachment, whereby he follows the regulative principles of devotional service. After that point, after one makes further progress, he attains the state called bhäva, which is permanent. When such love of God increases, it reaches the highest stage of love of Godhead.”
In Sanskrit this highest stage is called premä, premä can be defined as love of God without any expectation of exchange or return. Actually the words premä and love are not synonymous, yet one can say that premä is the highest stage of love. One who has attained premä is the most perfect human being. Çrémad-Bhägavatam also confirms this statement (SB 3.25.25): Only by the association of pure devotees can one develop a taste for Kåñëa consciousness, and when he tries to apply Kåñëa consciousness in his life, he can achieve everything up to the stage of bhäva and prema.
In order to save us from getting cheated or fooled, scriptures share the external symptoms (as we do not have direct access to the heart of other person) of such a pure devotee who has reached the stage of Bhava ( whose association one must aspire and pray for)
Lord Caitanya, describing the symptoms of a person who has developed from faith to the stage of bhäva, states that such a person is never agitated even if there are causes for agitation. Nor does such a person waste his time even for a moment; he is always anxious to do something for Kåñëa. Even if he has no engagement, he will find some work to do for Kåñëa’s satisfaction. Nor does such a person like anything which is not connected with Kåñëa. Although he is situated in the best position, he does not hanker after honor or personal respect. He is confident in his work, and he is never under the impression that he is not making progress toward the supreme goal of life-going back to Godhead. Since he is fully convinced of his progress, he is always confident and keeps himself busy to achieve the highest goal. He is very much attached to gratifying the Lord and in chanting or hearing about the Lord, and he is always attached to describing the transcendental qualities of the Lord. He also prefers to live in holy places like Mathurä, Våndävana or Dvärakä. Such characteristics are visible in one who has developed to the stage of bhäva.
(TLC , chapter 13)
King Parékñit affords a good example of bhäva. When sitting on the banks of the Ganges waiting to meet his death, he said: “All the brähmaëas present here, as well as Mother Ganges, should know that I am a soul completely surrendered to Kåñëa. I do not mind if I am immediately bitten by the snake sent by the brähmaëa boy’s curse. Let the snake bite me as it likes. I shall be pleased if all of you present here will go on chanting the message of Kåñëa.” Such a devotee is always anxious to see that his time is not wasted in anything which is not connected with Kåñëa. Consequently he does not like the benefits derived from fruitive activity, yogic meditation or the cultivation of knowledge. His attachment is to discourses which are favorably related to Kåñëa. Such pure devotees of the Lord always pray to the Supreme Lord with tears in their eyes; their minds are always engaged in recollecting the activities of the Lord, and their bodies are always engaged in offering obeisances. In this way they are satisfied. Any devotee who is acting in devotional service dedicates his life and body for the purpose of the Lord.
O expert and thoughtful men, relish Śrīmad-Bhagavatam, the mature fruit of the desire tree of Vedic literatures. It emanated from the lips of Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī. Therefore this fruit has become even more tasteful, although its nectarean juice was already relishable for all, including liberated souls.
Hare Krishna dear devotees,
Please relish as we read, chew, nibble or rather simply feast upon the nectarean introduction of Srimad Bhagavatam by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura:
The cloud of Śrī-caitanya has rained a sweet shower of mercy, producing a river of devotion to himself where the jīvas play like elephants in the Gaṅgā. May the dark cloud of Lord Kṛṣṇa Caitanya, made golden with a flash of lightning, illuminate the sky of my mind!
I worship the one absolute truth, Kṛṣṇa, who is eternal bliss and supreme consciousness, (Nityānanda, Advaita-Caitanya), personified as the eternal Bhagavatam which is the complete form of Brahma-sutra, in its most embellished form and who resides with eternal bhakti and the eternal devotees in the eternal spiritual abode. I take shelter of the eternal form, name and qualities of Kṛṣṇa known from Bhagavatam, which I studied for a long time by the mercy of guru. After having studied the Vaiṣṇava-toṣaṇī of Sanātana and after having understood the conclusions of Lord Caitanya from the Sandarbhas of Jīva, by the mercy of Śrīdhara Svāmī, I produce this commentary to show the essence of Bhagavatam. I am not learned. Oh! I am rash in this attempt! The cause, being either my own foolishness or the causeless mercy of the Lord, gives rise to its manifestation, even in an unqualified person. If its cause is my foolishness, it will produce mockery, and if its cause is mercy of the Lord, it will produce bliss with every word for the devotees.
I offer myself and everything I have to the absolute Lord who is dearer than life to all the cowherd men and women, and to the service of his dear devotees. It is not so surprising that this popularly read scripture has qualities of the absolute entity brahman, comparable to the fruit of a desire tree, a lamp and the sun. I praise this work which assumes the form of Mohinī in the assembly of devas and demons, giving the sweet topics of the Lord to the devotees, and denying them to the demons. Svayam Bhagavān, the sweet ocean of all auspicious qualities, the king holding the greatest power, the most splendid sun, shone and then disappeared at scheduled times over the earth. The meanings of the various scriptures, Purāṇas and Itihāsas, placed in three groups just as men are classified into three groups, are like night watchmen (guarding the treasure of satisfaction of the heart), but through time, destiny, the appearance of irregularity, and even laziness, some of the meanings have fallen into deep sleep. Consequently, the great treasure – satisfaction of the heart of all people and the authors of the works – has been stolen by those who have appeared like thieves and given wrong interpretations to those scriptures. This is understood from the following:
The people in general are naturally inclined to enjoy, and you have encouraged them in that way in the name of religion. This is verily condemned and is quite unreasonable. (SB 1.5.15)
However, under these conditions the Lord makes his appearance:
yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānir bhavati bhārata |
abhutthānam adharmasya tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham ||
Whenever there is destruction in dharma, O Bhārata, and a rise in adharma, I manifest my own body. (BG 4.7)
As well, according to the Gītā, the Lord comes to save the devotees and destroy the demons. (BG 4.8) Just as he appears for these purposes as Matsya among the fish, as Varāha among the animals, as Haṁsa among the birds, as svayam bhagavān Kṛṣṇa among humans, and as Upendra among the devatās, so the Lord has now appeared as the crown jewel of the scriptures, Śrīmad-bhāgavatam, among the Vedas, for restoring dharma and delivering the devotees.
kṛṣṇe sva-dhāmopagate dharma-jñānādibhiḥ saha |
kalau naṣṭa-dṛśām eṣa purāṇārko ’dhunoditaḥ ||
This Bhāgavata Purāṇa is as brilliant as the sun, and it has arisen just after the departure of Lord Kṛṣṇa to his own abode, accompanied by religion, knowledge, etc. Persons who have lost their vision due to the dense darkness of ignorance in the age of Kali shall get light from this Purāṇa. (SB 1.3.4)
This indicates that Bhagavatam is another form of Kṛṣṇa, similar to the oneness of I and mine (Kṛṣṇa and the book about Kṛṣṇa). Thus, it bears no comparison with other works. Kṛṣṇa has appeared as Bhagavatam through Śukadeva and Parīkṣit, and like the sun among the planets, it shines among the Purāṇas. It has twelve forms (volumes), just as the sun has twelve forms for each of the months of the year. With eighteen-thousand verses like its leaves, it has appeared like a desire tree to fulfill the goals of the great devotees.
( Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura’s commentary on the first verse of Srimad Bhagavatam)
If its description is so delightful and tempting then we can very well imagine how heavenly will be its taste if we were to serve Srimad Bhagavatam by carefully reading it every day for the rest of our life.
As we come into the world of ISKCON we may feel we have come into the world of swans , where purity is flowing incessantly and everyone seems destined to make very fast spiritual progress. This is, of course, true to a very large extent. However, as with any large organisation, it is very difficult to check the credential of each and every person and imposters may slip in, a wolf in a sheep’s clothing. As aspiring devotees it is best be cautious and certainly not give our common sense a long vacation and fall into a well by following blindly.
Both blind following and absurd inquiries are condemned.
In the current contaminated environment it is best to remain alert and if we observe something which is out of normal then we must question it, in a gentle and polite manner, and if we are not satisfied by the reply then we should bring it to the notice of local temple authority. And do not let anyone hide behind a holier than thou curtain. Similarly as we start confiding in others, opening our heart, we must check their credentials via someone whom we can trust and do not blindly assume that just because someone sings very nice bhajans or is at a senior administrative position in temple or a popular preacher then he must be a pure devotee and can be trusted blindly.
Do not do blind following : Blind following means: “Oh, there is a swami. So many thousands of people are following. Let me become his disciple.” This is called blind following…. You do not know. But because everyone is going, “Oh, let me become his disciple.” This is blind following, without any knowledge, blind following.
(SP Lecture, 12th Jan, 1969, Los Angeles)
As one joins the world of ISKCON then one may have many anarthas ( impurities) and not so pure motivation as well. One may join the society for power, women, money, fame, etc. ISKCON is like a desire tree and may even fulfill it. Krishna also says in BG 7.16
O best among the Bhäratas, four kinds of pious men begin to render devotional service unto Me—the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport : When these four kinds of persons come to the Supreme Lord for devotional service and are completely purified by the association of a pure devotee, they also become pure devotees. As far as the miscreants are concerned, for them devotional service is very difficult because their lives are selfish, irregular and without spiritual goals.
So some people may join ISKCON for money, power, or any other personal sense gratification but as an iron, put into fire, gradually develops all the characteristics of fire. Similarly even people with impure, but NOT sinful, motivation, start practicing devotional service, associate with pure devotees they then gradually become purified of such impure desires. However clever imposters, who are in fact sinful, may take advantage of such broad mindedness and exploit the simple hearted devotees to fulfill their ulterior and sinful desires. We should be always cautious that we do not fall into the company of these miscreants, hiding in the garb of a devotee.
To obey the imperfect person means just like a blind man following other blind man. So what benefit he will get? If one blind man is begging help from others, “Please help me in crossing the road,” if another blind man comes and he says, “Yes, come on with me,” so what will be the result? Both will be crushed by accident.
(Srila Prabhupada in discussion with Hayagriva dasa)
And we may even come across devotees who may not be imposters but we can see that they are carrying a very heavy burden of anarthas, a strong desire for personal sense gratification. How should we deal with such devotees?
One who approaches the Supreme Lord to render devotional service, but who is proud of his personality, envious of others or vengeful, is in the mode of anger. He thinks that he is the best devotee. Devotional service executed in this way is not pure; it is mixed and is of the lowest grade, tämasaù. Çréla Viçvanätha Cakravarté Öhäkura advises that a Vaiñëava who is not of good character should be avoided. A Vaiñëava is one who has taken the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the ultimate goal of life, but if one is not pure and still has motives, then he is not a Vaiñëava of the first order of good character. One may offer his respects to such a Vaiñëava because he has accepted the Supreme Lord as the ultimate goal of life, but one should not keep company with a Vaiñëava who is in the mode of ignorance.
Such a miscreant is not a vaishanava but a Kali-Cela
In this Age of Kali there are many mundane persons in the dress of Vaiṣṇavas, and Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has described them as disciples of Kali. He says, kali-celā. He indicates that there is another Vaiṣṇava, a pseudo Vaiṣṇava with tilaka on his nose and kaṇṭhī beads around his neck. Such a pseudo Vaiṣṇava associates with money and women and is jealous of successful Vaiṣṇavas. Although passing for a Vaiṣṇava, his only business is earning money in the dress of a Vaiṣṇava. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura therefore says that such a pseudo Vaiṣṇava is not a Vaiṣṇava at all but a disciple of Kali-yuga.
(CC Madhya 1.220p)
Do not do follow anyone blindly.
Keep common sense handy at all times.
Strictly maintain all basic moral and social protocols under all circumstances.
Householders should take counseling from successful and senior householder devotees.
Matajis should strictly avoid meeting male preachers without the presence of any adult male member of the house.
No phone counseling between matajis and male preachers.
Matajis should cultivate relationships with senior matajis for personal issues.
Progress in devotional life together as one family and not enforce our personal standards, howsoever high or right it may seem, on other family members who may not be able to follow it at their present stage. Encourage but do not impose.
Remain conscious and sensitive for any out of ordinary signs at home. Gently share and discuss your concern with your partner.
Daily pray to Krishna to protect your family. ( The grahastha ashrama , our home, is an island of sanity, an ashrama, a support system for our spiritual life, compared to the madhouse outside, we should always pray to protect it)
I could not post the blog for a long time as life turned a bit busy, please forgive me for this laxity.
Yesterday morning I read the very beautiful, and famous, verse from Srimad Bhagavatam and now sharing the same with you.
This particular chapter, SB 10.14, describes the Brahmā ji’s prayers to Lord Kṛṣṇa. Brahmā ji first praised the beauty of the Lord’s transcendental limbs and then declared that Krishna’s original identity of sweetness is even more difficult to comprehend than His opulence. And only by the devotional process of hearing and chanting transcendental sounds received from Vedic authorities can one realize the Personality of Godhead. It is fruitless to try to realize God through processes outside the scope of Vedic authority.
Brahmā ji is praying to Lord Krishna:
My dear Lord, devotional service unto You is the best path for self-realization. If someone gives up that path and engages in the cultivation of speculative knowledge, he will simply undergo a troublesome process and will not achieve his desired result. As a person who beats an empty husk of wheat cannot get grain, one who simply speculates cannot achieve self-realization. His only gain is trouble.
O almighty Lord, in the past many yogīs in this world achieved the platform of devotional service by offering all their endeavors unto You and faithfully carrying out their prescribed duties. Through such devotional service, perfected by the processes of hearing and chanting about You, they came to understand You, O infallible one, and could easily surrender to You and achieve Your supreme abode.
Then comes the gem of a verse wherein Brahmā ji reveals that to go back to Godhead a devotee simply has to patiently tolerate his past karmic reactions in this lifetime, while sincerely & seriously practicing Krishna consciousness! This may sound too good to be true or too easy but these are the words from Srimad Bhagavatam, Amala Purana, spoken by Brahmā ji, who also happens to be the head of our sampradaya. Srila Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura said that this verse describes Bhakti.
tat te ’nukampāṁ su-samīkṣamāṇo
bhuñjāna evātma-kṛtaṁ vipākam
hṛd-vāg-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te
jīveta yo mukti-pade sa dāya-bhāk
My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim.
In his purport Srila Prabhupada too reveals an ‘inside’ secret as to how even those apparent karmic reactions are also actually a favour by the most merciful Krishna. Many of us may have read this verse before but as we read and reread it our conviction for the scientific process of Krishna consciousness, and the amazing journey we are in, goes few notches higher. It also helps us appreciate how compassionate is Krishna towards His devotees. And that only is Krishna silently working to get us back home but He is very much looking forward to see us soon.
Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī explains in his commentary that just as a legitimate son has to simply remain alive to gain an inheritance from his father, one who simply remains alive in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, following the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga, automatically becomes eligible to receive the mercy of the Personality of Godhead. In other words, he will be promoted to the kingdom of God.
The word su-samīkṣamāṇa indicates that a devotee earnestly awaits the mercy of the Supreme Lord even while suffering the painful effects of previous sinful activities. Lord Kṛṣṇa explains in the Bhagavad-gītā that a devotee who fully surrenders unto Him is no longer liable to suffer the reactions of his previous karma. However, because in his mind a devotee may still maintain the remnants of his previous sinful mentality, the Lord removes the last vestiges of the enjoying spirit by giving His devotee punishments that may sometimes resemble sinful reactions. The purpose of the entire creation of God is to rectify the living entity’s tendency to enjoy without the Lord, and therefore the particular punishment given for a sinful activity is specifically designed to curtail the mentality that produced the activity. Although a devotee has surrendered to the Lord’s devotional service, until he is completely perfect in Kṛṣṇa consciousness he may maintain a slight inclination to enjoy the false happiness of this world. The Lord therefore creates a particular situation to eradicate this remaining enjoying spirit. This unhappiness suffered by a sincere devotee is not technically a karmic reaction; it is rather the Lord’s special mercy for inducing His devotee to completely let go of the material world and return home, back to Godhead.
A sincere devotee earnestly desires to go back to the Lord’s abode. Therefore he willingly accepts the Lord’s merciful punishment and continues offering respects and obeisances to the Lord with his heart, words and body. Such a bona fide servant of the Lord, considering all hardship a small price to pay for gaining the personal association of the Lord, certainly becomes a legitimate son of God, as indicated here by the words dāya-bhāk. Just as one cannot approach the sun without becoming fire, one cannot approach the supreme pure, Lord Kṛṣṇa, without undergoing a rigid purificatory process, which may appear like suffering but which is in fact a curative treatment administered by the personal hand of the Lord.
So we can appreciate how unique is our journey in Krishna Consciousness. How even the aspiring devotees remain under the direct shelter of the lotus feet of Krishna. We just need to remain sincere & serious, practice tolerance and be simple hearted. Then there is no faster route back to Godhead.
Now it is up to us to decide if sincerity, simplicity and tolerance are too high a price to pay for gaining the personal association of Lord?