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.
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?
I read verse 4.42 from Bhagavad Gita today morning and its amazing purport where Srila Prabhupada not only gives us the summary of the whole chapter 4 but also gives us many keys to open different levels of transcendental knowledge. The chapter itself is titled transcendental knowledge. I am sharing the same. Please chew it slowly.
tasmäd ajïäna-sambhütaà håt-sthaà jïänäsinätmanaù
chittvainaà saàçayaà yogam ätiñöhottiñöha bhärata
Therefore the doubts which have arisen in your heart out of ignorance should be slashed by the weapon of knowledge. Armed with yoga, O Bharata, stand and fight.
The yoga system instructed in this chapter is called sanätana-yoga, or eternal activities performed by the living entity. This yoga has two divisions of sacrificial actions: one is called sacrifice of one’s material possessions, and the other is called knowledge of self, which is pure spiritual activity. If sacrifice of one’s material possessions is not dovetailed for spiritual realization, then such sacrifice becomes material. But one who performs such sacrifices with a spiritual objective, or in devotional service, makes a perfect sacrifice. When we come to spiritual activities, we find that these are also divided into two: namely, understanding of one’s own self (or one’s constitutional position), and the truth regarding the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One who follows the path of Bhagavad-gétä as it is can very easily understand these two important divisions of spiritual knowledge. For him there is no difficulty in obtaining perfect knowledge of the self as part and parcel of the Lord. And such understanding is beneficial, for such a person can easily understand the transcendental activities of the Lord. In the beginning of this chapter, the transcendental activities of the Lord were discussed by the Supreme Lord Himself. One who does not understand the instructions of the Gétä is faithless, and is to be considered to be misusing the fragmental independence awarded to him by the Lord. In spite of such instructions, one who does not understand the real nature of the Lord as the eternal, blissful, all-knowing Personality of Godhead is certainly fool number one. Ignorance can be removed by gradual acceptance of the principles of Kåñëa consciousness. Kåñëa consciousness is awakened by different types of sacrifices to the demigods, sacrifice to Brahman, sacrifice in celibacy, in household life, in controlling the senses, in practicing mystic yoga, in penance, in forgoing material possessions, in studying the Vedas, and in partaking of the social institution called varëäçrama-dharma. All of these are known as sacrifice, and all of them are based on regulated action. But within all these activities, the important factor is self-realization. One who seeks that objective is the real student of Bhagavad-gétä, but one who doubts the authority of Kåñëa falls back. One is therefore advised to study Bhagavad-gétä, or any other scripture, under a bona fide spiritual master, with service and surrender. A bona fide spiritual master is in the disciplic succession from time eternal, and he does not deviate at all from the instructions of the Supreme Lord as they were imparted millions of years ago to the sun-god, from whom the instructions of Bhagavad-gétä have come down to the earthly kingdom. One should, therefore, follow the path of Bhagavad-gétä as it is expressed in the Gétä itself and beware of self-interested people after personal aggrandizement who deviate others from the actual path. The Lord is definitely the supreme person, and His activities are transcendental. One who understands this is a liberated person from the very beginning of his study of Bhagavad-gétä.
This is a gem of a purport and is so potent that one can achieve liberation simply by carefully studying and applying its essence.
HG Bhurijana Prabhu divides this purport into five sections in his book Surrender unto me. Inspired from those titles I am adding little comments.
The Goal of sacrifice (Part 1)
Sacrifices themselves are not the goal. They are means to achieve a goal. The same sacrifice could result in a material or spiritual goal depending simply on the consciousness with which we are doing it.
Today is Ekadasi. Many people in India keep Ekadasi fast, some out of family tradition, some have heard or read about the unlimited piety it brings but devotees keep it simply to please Krishna. So the same sacrifice will culminate in different results for the different people though the act of sacrifice is apparently the same. So our purpose should always be spiritual. Srila Prabhupada writes
One who performs such sacriﬁces with a spiritual objective, or in devotional service, makes a perfect sacriﬁce.
2. Two levels of spiritual knowledge
a) understanding of one’s own self (or one’s constitutional position), and
b) the truth regarding the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Srila Prabhupada gives the synopsis of this transcendental knowledge in his purport of BG 4.35
For want of sufﬁcient knowledge in the absolute science, we are now covered with illusion, and therefore we think that we are separate from Kṛṣṇa. Although we are separated parts of Kṛṣṇa, we are nevertheless not different from Him. The bodily difference of the living entities is māyā, or not actual fact. We are all meant to satisfy Kṛṣṇa. By māyā alone Arjuna thought that the temporary bodily relationship with his kinsmen was more important than his eternal spiritual relationship with Kṛṣṇa. The whole teaching of the Gītā is targeted toward this end: that a living being, as Kṛṣṇa’s eternal servitor, cannot be separated from Kṛṣṇa, and his sense of being an identity apart from Kṛṣṇa is called māyā. The living entities, as separate parts and parcels of the Supreme, have a purpose to fulﬁll. Having forgotten that purpose since time immemorial, they are situated in different bodies, as men, animals, demigods, etc. Such bodily differences arise from forgetfulness of the transcendental service of the Lord. But when one is engaged in transcendental service through Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one becomes at once liberated from this illusion.
3. Transcendental nature of Supreme Lord
In the beginning verses of this chapter Krishna spoke how He first gave this transcendental knowledge to sun-god, Vivasvān, millions of years ago and it was being passed down via parampara but then it got lost. And how Krishna, unlike Arjuna, remembers all His previous births. Then Krishna declares in BG 4.6
Although I am unborn and My transcendental body never deteriorates, and although I am the Lord of all living entities, I still appear in every millennium in My original transcendental form.
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport
In spite of such instructions, one who does not understand the real nature of the Lord as the eternal, blissful, all-knowing Personality of Godhead is certainly fool number one.
4. The Goal of sacrifice (part 2)
They are so many different kinds of sacrifices mentioned in vedas and , Srila Prabhupada, writes
All of them are based on regulated action. But within all these activities, the important factor is self-realization. One who seeks that objective is the real student of Bhagavad-Gita.
Even big big jnanis and yogis, what to speak of normal people, get bewildered as to what exactly self realisation means. Actual self realisation means God realisation. They may sound different but are firmly inter-linked.
Self realization means God realization, and God realization means self realization. Just like to see the sun means to see oneself, and to see oneself means to see the sun. Self realization depends completely upon God realization, or else it is not complete. One must know his relationship to the Absolute Truth to fully know his position. The mayavadi school simply discerns spirit from matter, but that is not Ultimate Knowledge. One should know the different manifestations of the spirit also. The highest manifestation of the spirit soul is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna.
(letter to Vilasavigraha Prabhu, 22nd Jan 1969)
5. Properly learning transcendental knowledge
One should learn this knowledge from a bonafide spiritual master coming in the authorised line of disciplic succession. Krishna says in BG 4.2
This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.
Arjuna, Krishna’s friend & devotee, also an eternal associate of Krishna, become an instrument to give this knowledge to the whole world. Similarly Srila Prabhupada, not only a great devotee of Lord Krishna and one of the greatest acharayas in last hundred years, coming in the line of exalted Gaudia vaishanavas, also an eternal associate of Krishna, became an instrument to spread this transcendental knowledge worldwide.
Why it is so important to hear this from a bonafide spiritual master?
Srila Prabhupada writes
he does not deviate at all from the instructions of the Supreme Lord as they were imparted
So the message is passed on ‘as it is’ without any deviation or personal interpretation. That’s why ISKCON’S version of Bhagavad Gita is called Bhagavad Gita As it is.
And what will be the result of following all the above points sincerely?
Srila Prabhupada writes at the end of his purport
One who understands this is a liberated person from the very beginning of his study of Bhagavad-gītā.
It is simply our good fortune that we have somehow taken shelter of Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet and are trying to become Krishna consciousness. Where else can one read a verse from one of the begining chapters of Bhagavad and not only get the summary of the whole chapter but if one applies it with proper faith then one can get liberation at this stage itself! This is the potency of reading Bhaktivedanta purports.
I feel unqualified to understand, receive or apply this knowledge!
The qualification required to unlock the wealth in Prabhupada’s purports is simply our faith, sincerity and seriousness to become Krishna consciousness. That’s all, not how much knowledge I have or how much austerity I can perform or even my lifestyle before coming in touch with the devotees. None of this matters. What matters is how sincerely I desire and wish to change now. Our past is not a hindrance.
We all know that when bed sheets gets spoiled and strained ( say sheet used by small babies on which they have passed urine etc.). These strains on the sheets doesn’t go despite all the washing and scrubbing. But an experienced and intelligent mother knows that by hanging these sheets daily in the bright sun not only the sheet get germ free but they will also gradually becomes strain free. Similarly when we come in touch with this transcendental knowledge then not only our past karmic reactions are gone but gradually our consciousness starts becoming pure and we can make rapid progress in self realisation despite what all may have been our past life (or lives).
This is the potency and the result of regularly, and carefully, studying Srila Prabhupada’s books. Everything will get gradually revealed in our heart by his mercy and potency. This is our simple, proven and bonafide process for receiving all transcendental knowledge.
Sometimes this question gets popped up in discussions ‘why did Srila Prabhupada speak so much against mayavada and voidism?’ He went head on against both the philosophies. For many of us who were brought in a broad minded liberal mindset (read hodge-podge) such sharp criticism, coming specially from a highly evolved spiritual personality, may seem a bit out of place.
Srila Prabhupada’s pranama mantra itself boldly declares his intention, and scope, in no uncertain terms.
I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is very dear to Lord Krishna, having taken shelter at His lotus feet. Our respectful obeisances are unto you, O spiritual master, servant of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami. You are kindly preaching the message of Lord Chaitanyadeva and delivering the Western countries, which are filled with impersonalism and voidism.
HG Bhurijana Prabhu, in a recent class, shared an interesting pastime during a program in Japan, when Srila Prabhupada, did not let a mayavadi sanyasi speak for too long, starting a impromptu Kirtan in the middle of his speech, much to the bewilderment of the audience. Srila Prabhupada, later, shared with his disciples that he could tolerate the mayavadi sanyasi for some time but when he started speaking that Supreme Lord has no form, no senses, can not talk and so on, then Prabhupada could not tolerate it any more! HG Bhurijan Prabhu said that such is the love Srila Prabhupada has for Krishna that he could not tolerate anyone speaking that his beloved and most beautiful Lord does not possess any beauty, any form, any taste, etc. It simply showed his level of attachment to Krishna.
Being freed from attachment, fear and anger, being fully absorbed in Me and taking refuge in Me, many, many persons in the past became purified by knowledge of Me — and thus they all attained transcendental love for Me.
Krishna is saying that once one gets free from attachment, fear & anger, and being aware that He is the Supreme Lord and everyone is His part and parcel, surrendering unto Him, then one become fully absorbed in Him. And the result of such an absorption, based on knowledge (not just sentiments), is that one will attain transcendental love for Krishna, our final goal.
Srila Prabhupada begins his purport to the above verse : It is very difficult for a person who is too materially affected to understand the personal nature of the Supreme Absolute Truth.
Srila Prabhupada then goes into detail, in the same purport, and explains the three popular philosophies prevalent in western countries
Materialists: People who are attached to the bodily conception of life are so absorbed in materialism that it is almost impossible for them to understand how the Supreme can be a person. Such materialists cannot even imagine that there is a transcendental body which is imperishable, full of knowledge and eternally blissful. In the materialistic concept, the body is perishable, full of ignorance and completely miserable. Therefore, people in general keep this same bodily idea in mind when they are informed of the personal form of the Lord. For such materialistic men, the form of the gigantic material manifestation is supreme.
Mayavada : Consequently they consider the Supreme to be impersonal. Generally, because they are too materially absorbed, the conception of retaining the personality after liberation from matter frightens them. When they are informed that spiritual life is also individual and personal, they become afraid of becoming persons again, and so they naturally prefer a kind of merging into the impersonal void. Generally, they compare the living entities to the bubbles of the ocean, which merge into the ocean. That is the highest perfection of spiritual existence attainable without individual personality. This is a kind of fearful stage of life, devoid of perfect knowledge of spiritual existence.
Voidism: Furthermore there are many persons who cannot understand spiritual existence at all. Being embarrassed by so many theories and by contradictions of various types of philosophical speculation, they become disgusted or angry and foolishly conclude that there is no supreme cause and that everything is ultimately void. Such people are in a diseased condition of life.
So, surprisingly, the rāga-bhaya-krodhā (attachment, fear and anger) Krishna is speaking about are not exactly how we understand these terms, in reality they mean
attachment to material life
fear of a spiritual personal identity
the conception of void that arises from frustration in life
How do I get free from them?
To get free from these three stages of the material concept of life, one has to take complete shelter of the Lord, guided by the bona ﬁde spiritual master, and follow the disciplines and regulative principles of devotional life.
Srila Prabhupada then writes the complete road map, from faith to Prema, via Krishna consciousness
“In the beginning one must have a preliminary desire for self-realization. This will bring one to the stage of trying to associate with persons who are spiritually elevated. In the next stage one becomes initiated by an elevated spiritual master, and under his instruction the neophyte devotee begins the process of devotional service. By execution of devotional service under the guidance of the spiritual master, one becomes free from all material attachment, attains steadiness in self-realization, and acquires a taste for hearing about the Absolute Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. This taste leads one further forward to attachment for Kṛṣṇa consciousness, which is matured in bhāva, or the preliminary stage of transcendental love of God. Real love for God is called prema, the highest perfectional stage of life.” In the prema stage there is constant engagement in the transcendental loving service of the Lord.
So this is the role Srila Prabhupada is playing in Krishna’s (actually Mahaprabhu’s) plan for mass liberation, to save the suffering souls in kali-yuga by
freeing us from material attachment, rāga (sense gratification)
freeing us from the fearfulness of one’s individual spiritual personality, bhaya (mayavada)
freeing us from the frustration that results in void philosophy, krodhā (voiodism)
Prabhupada through his books, instructions and lectures gave the suffering humanity a complete, and solid, path leading to the highest stage, Krishna Prema, Love of Godhead, ultimately leading to the abode of the Supreme Lord- Goloka Vrindavana. All his activities, all the resources which came by his side, were used by him in Krishna’s service, till his very last breath. Prabhupada walked the path Krishna planned for him, similar to how Arjuna followed Krishna’s instructions and fought the war in Kurukshetra, which Krishna had already planned. Both of them became an instrument in Krishna’s hands with no self interest or self desire. This movement is popularly known as ‘Hare Krishna’ all over the world, he did not name it after himself. So all over the world people became aware of Krishna’s name but who is Srila Prabhupada!
Therefore I do not find a greater person than he who has no interest outside of Mine and who therefore engages and dedicates all his activities and all his life — everything — unto Me without cessation.
Srila Prabhupada writes in the purport of above verse :
In this verse the word sama-darśanāt means that he no longer has any separate interest; the devotee’s interest and the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s interest are one. For example, Lord Caitanya, in the role of a devotee, also preached the same philosophy. He preached that Kṛṣṇa is the worshipful Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and that the interest of His pure devotees is the same as His own.
Prabhupada again bashes up the mayavada theory!
Sometimes Māyāvādī philosophers, due to a poor fund of knowledge, define the word sama-darśanāt to mean that a devotee should see himself as one with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is foolishness. When one thinks himself one with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there is no question of serving Him. When there is service, there must be a master. Three things must be present for there to be service: the master, the servant and the service. Here it is clearly stated that he who has dedicated his life, all his activities, his mind and his soul — everything — for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord, is considered to be the greatest person.
The word akartuḥ means “without any sense of proprietorship.” Everyone wants to act as the proprietor of his actions so that he can enjoy the result. A devotee, however, has no such desire; he acts because the Personality of Godhead wants him to act in a particular way. He has no personal motive. When Lord Caitanya preached Kṛṣṇa consciousness, it was not with the purpose that people would call Him Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead; rather, He preached that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and should be worshiped as such. A devotee who is a most confidential servant of the Lord never does anything for his personal account, but does everything for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord. Therefore it is clearly stated, mayi sannyasta-karmaṇaḥ: the devotee works, but he works for the Supreme. It is also stated, mayy arpitātmanaḥ: “He gives his mind unto Me.” These are the qualifications of a devotee, who, according to this verse, is accepted as the highest of all human beings.
So in a way Srila Prabhupada became the hand of Krishna. This hand went to the lowest depths on this planet. And to save us he had to smash the very foundation of senseless material gratification, mayavada & voidism, to free us from material attachment, fear and anger. Thereby delivering and uplifting millions of souls from the very bottom of the pit to the highest platform of Vaishnavism.
In a sense guru is like the hand attached to the body of God, Who is all existence, all intelligence, and all bliss (sac-cid-änanda-vigraha). With His hand, God rubs His own feet. The hand of God is His own limb. In this case God is serving Himself. God Himself appears as the guru in order to teach how to serve Himself. Our Gurudeva is also one with the body of God. There is God to be served, there is also God who serves; God as object and God as support. Mukunda is God to be served, He is the object God. The most beloved of Mukunda, Çré Gurudeva, is serving God, the support. There is no one so dearly loved by God as our Gurudeva. He alone is the best beloved of the Lord.
The art of focusing one’s attention on the Supreme and giving one’s love to Him is called Krishna consciousness.
Why did Srila Prabhupada inaugurated this movement?
We have inaugurated the Krishna consciousness movement so that everyone can satisfy his propensity for loving others simply by directing his love toward Krishna.
How is it relevant today?
The whole world is very eager to satisfy the dormant propensity of love for others, but the various invented methods like socialism, communism, altruism, humanitarianism and nationalism, along with whatever else may be manufactured for the peace and prosperity of the world, are all useless and frustrating because of our gross ignorance of the art of loving Kṛṣṇa. Generally people think that by advancing the cause of moral principles and religious rites they will be happy. Others may think that happiness can be achieved by economic development, and yet others think that simply by sense gratification they will be happy. But the real fact is that people can be happy only by loving Krishna.
Can I really love the Supreme Lord? Will Krishna respond to me?
Krishna can perfectly reciprocate one’s loving propensities in different relationships called mellows, or rasas. Basically there are twelve loving relationships. One can love Kṛṣṇa as the supreme unknown, as the supreme master, the supreme friend, the supreme child, the supreme lover. These are the five basic love rasas. One can also love Kṛṣṇa indirectly in seven different relationships, which are apparently different from the five primary relationships. All in all, however, if one simply reposes his dormant loving propensity in Kṛṣṇa, then his life becomes successful.
Sounds like a dream!
This is not a fiction but is a fact that can be realized by practical application. One can directly perceive the effects that love for Krishna has on his life.
Proof of the pudding is in the eating
In the Ninth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gītā this science of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is called the king of all knowledge, the king of all confidential things, and the supreme science of transcendental realization. Yet we can directly experience the results of this science of Kṛṣṇa consciousness because it is very easy to practice and is very pleasurable. Whatever percentage of Krishna consciousness we can perform will become an eternal asset to our life, for it is imperishable in all circumstances. It has now been actually proved that today’s confused and frustrated younger generation in the Western countries can directly perceive the results of channeling the loving propensity toward Krishna alone.
Handed to us on a silver platter
The Krishna consciousness movement is the unique gift of Lord Caitanya to the fallen souls of this age. It is a very simple method which has actually been carried out during the last four years (*) in the Western countries, and there is no doubt that this movement can satisfy the dormant loving propensities of humanity.
What is so special about this book, Kṛṣṇa?
This book, Kṛṣṇa, is another presentation to help the Krishna consciousness movement in the Western world. This transcendental work of literature is published with profuse illustrations. People love to read various kinds of fiction to spend their time and energy. Now this tendency can be directed to Kṛṣṇa.
What will be the result?
The result will be the imperishable satisfaction of the soul, both individually and collectively.
Just this one book can give us Love of Godhead!
It is said in the Bhagavad-gītā that even a little effort expended on the path of Kṛṣṇa consciousness can save one from the greatest danger. Hundreds of thousands of examples can be cited of people who have escaped the greatest dangers of life due to a slight advancement in Krishna consciousness. We therefore request everyone to take advantage of this great transcendental literary work. One will find that by reading one page after another, an immense treasure of knowledge in art, science, literature, philosophy and religion will be revealed, and ultimately, by reading this one book, Kṛṣṇa, love of Godhead will fructify.
(Krishna book, preface)
All glories to the transcendental pastimes of Sri Krishna.
vraja-bhūmi cintāmaṇi, cidānanda-ratna-khani (The land of Vraja is a wish-fulfilling gem; indeed, it’s a jewel mine of consciousness and bliss)
Let me glorify Vrajabhumi, the place where Sri Krsna enjoys transcendental pastimes. Simply by drinking with their ears the nectarean description of Vrajabhumi, the liberated souls abandon the bliss of impersonal Brahman and yearn to attain the land of Vraja.
With a pure heart let me worship Vrajabhumi, which is the form of the sweetness of meditation on Sri Krsna, which is eternal, transcendental, blissful, and peerless, and which, although it cannot be understood by ordinary people, is easily understood by its residents.
Millions of material universes and even millions of spiritual Vaikuntha planets are not very significant in comparison to Vrindavana, where Sri Krsna enjoyed lunch with His friends on the Yamuna’s sandy bank, and enjoyed many other transcendental pastimes.
Sri Krsna’s friends and associates, who enjoy pastimes with Him as equals, reside in this perfectly spiritual abode of Vrindavana.
All these associates of the Lord have spiritual bodies, although their forms and activities appear ordinary and material to the conditioned souls. These associates of the Lord are enchanted by Lord Krsna’s charming pastimes in Vraja.
Vrindavana cannot be understood by conditioned souls, for although it may appear to be material, all its villages, forests, and cow-pastures are perfectly spiritual.
Some portion of transcendental Vrindavana becomes visible in this world at the time of Lord Krsna’s manifest pastimes. Conditioned souls think Vrindavana is material, although actually it is spiritual, and beyond their ability to understand or describe.
Wild rams have chewed fragrant kakkola berries and wild buffaloes with their horns have torn the bark and branches of fragrant sarala trees. All this has made the Vraja forest very aromatic.
Wild elephants have broken the tender young branches of fragrant sallaki trees, and wild buffaloes have spread the aroma of fresh grass by their grazing. All this has made the Vraja forest very aromatic.
Filled with many rasala trees, panasa trees, amrataka, sriphala, jambhu, palasa, pungasana, coconut, madhuka, punnaga, sirisa, priya, bilva, arjuna, karma ranga, kapittha, lodhra, priya, lavali, asoka, lakuca, karira, campaka, tamala, nava-malika, jatidvaya, rayabilva, kosataki, parkatika, vata, asvattha, sala, khadira, and sami trees, which all have many wonderful splendid fruits and flowers, and also filled with many lavanga vines, and various other beautiful vines, and also filled with many parrots and other birds, as well as many wild beasts, the forests of Vraja are splendidly beautiful.
In Vraja there are many splendid ponds, pools, lakes, and rivers, all filled with many white, blue, red, yellow, and multicoloured kahlara, padma, and utpala lotus flowers, as well as many swans and other water-birds.
In some places the ground of Vraja is made of camphor dust. In some places it is saffron. In some places it is made of ground musk, and in some places it is made of the aromatic substances used in religious ceremonies.
From the branches and roots of the trees of Vraja all Brahmas and Sivas emanate. Although the trees of Vraja are as splendid as the sun, they still are wonderful parasols to shade one from the sun’s rays. They shine with the lustre of youth, just as the four Kumaras.
The trees of Vraja were never planted or husbanded. They never grew from any seed. They glisten with many leaves and flowers. They bear many ripe, unripe, and ripening fruits.
The splendid trees of Vrajabhumi are perfectly spiritual in nature and full of all potencies. They are just like the incarnations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Just as the conditioned souls misunderstand the spiritual nature of the Supreme Lord’s incarnations, in the same way they misunderstand the glory of these trees in Vraja.
Splendid with many eternal flowers, fruits and eternally sprouting fresh new buds, the vines fulfil all the desires of the infallible Supreme Personality of Godhead and His devotees.
Sri Krsna, the moon of Vraja, enjoys pastimes and also rests in these groves, which are filled with many wonderful trees and vines eternally blossoming with many beautiful flowers, even down to their roots.
In the groves of Vraja, the cuckoos and bumblebees sing very melodiously, the plants are all splendidly beautiful, the camari does gracefully move their tails, and the musk oxen diffuse a sweet aroma in all directions.
Among Vrindavana’s splendid forests, which make the splendours of Vaikuntha seem very pale, the very beautiful forest named Vrindavana-vana is the best.
They who offer respectful obeisances to her or bathe in her waters, the Yamuna, which is like a moat of black mascara encircling Vrindavana, transform into pure devotees carrying Lord Krsna in their hearts.
The Yamuna river is like a blue lotus flower garland, a sapphire necklace, or a blue sash worn by the goddess of Vrindavana.
Passing the seven seas and seven planetary systems, and breaking through the sevenfold covering of the universe, the Yamuna enters the spiritual Goloka planet and wanders here and there to serve Vrindavana by carrying water.
Many greedy men will wait at a rich man’s doorstep, hoping to meet him and benefit hundreds of thousands of times over. In the same way the Yamuna flows in a very winding course, greedy to get some of the wealth of Vrindavana forest.
Everywhere in Vrindavana and on the Yamuna’s shores, are trees that are like the Lord’s incarnations, that give the gift of pure love, and that make one remember the Lord, making He who is the moon of Vraja suddenly rise within the heart.
Generally the six seasons come one after another, and the qualities of only one season are manifest at any given time. Here in Vrindavana, He who is the moon of Vrindavana can enjoy the pastimes of any season at any time.
In Vrindavana all the seasons are eternal, and they all diligently serve Sri Krsna, the moon of Vrindavana. The gopis decorate Sri Krsna with garlands and other ornaments made from the flowers of many different seasons.
The animals, birds, trees, vines and all other living entities that reside in Vrindavana yearn to see the rising of Vrindavana’s moon (Krsna).
Originally there is only one kalpa vrksa tree in Vrindavana, and the other trees have attained the qualities of kalpa vrksa trees by its association. In the same way, there is only one Sri Krsna, the master of Vrindavana, and by enjoying pastimes with Him His friends have attained qualities like His.
(Selected verses from Sri Vraja-riti-cintamani by Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura)
New Year prayer for all the devotees
May the cowherd boy who is a festival of ecstatic bliss for the hearts of the fortunate creatures residing in the groves of Govardhana, who eagerly enjoys loving pastimes in the forests of Vrindavana with the gopīs, and whose complexion is as splendid as a great sapphire, eternally enjoy transcendental pastimes in our hearts.
All glories to Sri Vrindavana Dhama
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
(All pictures from HH Indradyumna maharaj’s Vrindavana yatras)
As aspiring devotes we should know that it is spiritual ‘best practice’ to make prayers an important part of our daily sadhna.
Of course, we are aware (but are we conscious of it?) that prayer, vandanam, is part of nine limbs of bhakti and even following a single limb perfectly can help us reach our final goal. We should also know that each pranam manatra which we speak is a prayer to Krishna, Deity, Acharaya & Guru. Being aware of the importance of power of prayers, Srila Prabhupada very much ingrained them into daily program of our society. In fact reading and meditating on our daily temple prayer’s translation alone is a most purifying and uplifting experience.
Yet many a times we fall into laziness, lack of faith, ignorance- I am too junior for Krishna to hear me, I am not surrendered enough,….. a long list of excuses. But actually it is to overcome these very impediments we need to pray more. Personal prayers also help us establish a very solid relation with Krishna, our favorite Deity , Srila Prabhupada, Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavad Gita…. What matters most , at our baby stage, is our sincerity and an open heart.
Yet many, if not most, of the times, as conditioned Kali-yugians, whenever we are faced with some challenge, we invariably fall for the below two standard options
I will sort it out.
I will figure it out.
In reality we can neither sort it out (karma) nor figure it out (jnana). And even when we come into devotional life, due to past conditioning, our standard reaction is for most of the situations is still to opt for these two solutions. We swing like a pendulum between these two options. Unfortunately they have a very limited, if at all any, role to play in our daily struggle whether, so called, material or spiritual. The real solution lies in taking shelter of lotus feet of Krishna and our prayers form a very important part of this very process of taking shelter.
Lamentation is useless!
Both the mother and the son were lamenting Dhruva Mahäräja’s having been insulted by his stepmother and his father’s not having taken any step on this issue. But mere lamentation is useless—one should find out the means to mitigate one’s lamentation. Thus both mother and son decided to take shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord because that is the only solution to all material problems.
We are in a helpless condition..accept it..pray for help…and get released!
This is struggle for existence… Everyone is struggling. But what you will struggle in the ocean? You may be a very big swimmer, but how long you shall swim? You will be tired. The only means is to take you out of the ocean. Even one inch above the ocean is your safety. It doesn’t matter how many inches you are taken from the ocean. Similarly, the prayer is, “My dear Lord Kåñëa, I am your eternal servant. Somehow or other, I am now fallen in this ocean. Please pick me up and fix me again as the dust of Your lotus feet.” This is the prayer. So we should know in what dangerous position we are. Then there is necessity of prayer. And prayer to whom? To the Supreme Person to save us. Therefore there are so many prayers in the çästra. Prayers means addressing the Lord to save us from this. The real saving is to pick us up from this ocean of nescience, ignorance. Then everything is all right.
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Durban, 7th Oct, 1975)
Krishna is known as Uttamshloka!
Another name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is Uttamaçloka, which means that He is offered prayers with selected verses. Bhakti means çravaëaà kértanaà viñëoù [SB 7.5.23], chanting and hearing about Lord Viñëu. Impersonalists cannot be purified, for they do not offer personal prayers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Even though they sometimes offer prayers, the prayers are not directed toward the Supreme Person. Impersonalists sometimes show their incomplete knowledge by addressing the Lord as being nameless. They always offer prayers indirectly, saying, “You are this, You are that,” but they do not know to whom they are praying. A devotee, however, always offers personal prayers. A devotee says, govindam ädi-puruñaà tam ahaà bhajämi : “I offer my respectful obeisances unto Govinda, unto Kåñëa.” That is the way to offer prayers. If one continues to offer such personal prayers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he is eligible to become a pure devotee and return home, back to Godhead.
Krishna accepts our prayers
No amount of chosen words are sufficient to enumerate the Lord’s glory, yet He is satisfied by such prayers, just as a father is satisfied even by the broken linguistic attempts of a growing child.
(TQK, chapter 26)
Difficult made easy for kali-yugians!
Lord Siva says:
Although rendering devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and worshiping Him are very difficult, if one vibrates or simply reads this stotra [prayer] composed and sung by me, he will very easily be able to invoke the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
To become a devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa, Vāsudeva, is very, very difficult. The word especially used in this connection is durārādhyam. The worship of the demigods is not very difficult, but becoming a devotee of Lord Vāsudeva, Kṛṣṇa, is not so easy. However, if one adheres to the principles and follows in the footsteps of the higher authorities, as advised by Lord Śiva, one can easily become a devotee of Lord Vāsudeva.
Sing prayers written by previous acharayas and Mahajans
Just like we offer prayers from Brahma-saàhitä. We cannot offer prayer from any other persons, written by any other nonsense. No, that is not possible. Viriïca-gétäù. There is power. If you recite the prayers composed by mahäjana, it has got spiritual power.
( Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Mayapur, 25th Feb 1976)
What should be my mood while praying?
Prahläda said, “I am not proud of being able to offer prayers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I simply take shelter of the mercy of the Lord, for without devotion one cannot appease Him. One cannot please the Supreme Personality of Godhead simply by dint of high parentage or great opulence, learning, austerity, penance or mystic power. Indeed, these are never pleasing to the Supreme Lord, for nothing can please Him but pure devotional service. Even if a nondevotee is a brähmaëa qualified with the twelve brahminical symptoms, he cannot be very dear to the Lord, whereas if a person born in a family of dog-eaters is a devotee, the Lord can accept his prayers. The Lord does not need anyone’s prayers, but if a devotee offers his prayers to the Lord, the devotee benefits greatly. Ignorant persons born in low families, therefore, can sincerely offer heartfelt prayers to the Lord, and the Lord will accept them. As soon as one offers his prayers to the Lord, he is immediately situated on the Brahman platform.
(SB 7.9 summary)
Then the final result..
According to great learned scholars, the whole Bhagavad-gétä contains many authorized prayers, especially in the Eleventh Chapter, where Arjuna prays to the universal form of the Lord. Similarly, in the Gautaméya-tantra all the verses are called prayers. Again, in Çrémad-Bhägavatam there are hundreds of prayers to the Lord. So a devotee should select some of these prayers for his recitation. In Skanda Puräëa the glories of these prayers are stated as follows: ‘Devotees whose tongues are decorated always with prayers to Lord Kåñëa are always given respect even by the great saintly persons and sages, and such devotees are actually worshipable by the demigods.’….
In the Nåsiàha Puräëa it is stated, ‘Any person who comes before the Deity of Lord Kåñëa and begins to chant different prayers is immediately relieved from all the reactions of sinful activities and becomes eligible, without any doubt, to enter into the Vaikuëöhaloka.‘
(NoD, chapter 9)
Prayers of Vritasura
O my Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, will I again be able to be a servant of Your eternal servants who find shelter only at Your lotus feet? O Lord of my life, may I again become their servant so that my mind may always think of Your transcendental attributes, my words always glorify those attributes, and my body always engage in the loving service of Your Lordship?
O my Lord, source of all opportunities, I do not desire to enjoy in Dhruvaloka, the heavenly planets or the planet where Lord Brahmā resides, nor do I want to be the supreme ruler of all the earthly planets or the lower planetary systems. I do not desire to be master of the powers of mystic yoga, nor do I want liberation if I have to give up Your lotus feet.
O lotus-eyed Lord, as baby birds that have not yet developed their wings always look for their mother to return and feed them, as small calves tied with ropes await anxiously the time of milking, when they will be allowed to drink the milk of their mothers, or as a morose wife whose husband is away from home always longs for him to return and satisfy her in all respects, I always yearn for the opportunity to render direct service unto You.
O my Lord, my master, I am wandering throughout this material world as a result of my fruitive activities. Therefore I simply seek friendship in the association of Your pious and enlightened devotees. My attachment to my body, wife, children and home is continuing by the spell of Your external energy, but I wish to be attached to them no longer. Let my mind, my consciousness and everything I have be attached only to You.
Last Sunday as I was standing outside Balaram Hall in Krishna Balaram temple at Vrindavan, a senior mataji, whom I know, stopped me and we had the following conversation.
Mataji : You live in Delhi?
Me : Yes mataji.
Mataji: Do you know what has happened in Delhi ?
Me: No mataji.
Mataji: They have closed all the schools in Delhi
Me: (a little surprised) Why mataji!
Mataji: The pollution level have reached alarming level in Delhi, they are spraying water on the streets. Didn’t you read the news.
Me: I don’t read news mataji, it is indeed a surprise. ( I could still not understand the reason for her anxiety)
Mataji: I have to go to Mumbai and catch a flight from Delhi. I am worried how will I go?
Me: (now I am surprised) Mataji. you will be going in a cab and in any case the pollution levels have been high since many years. Media needs something sensational and they would have put it on the main news. The pollution hasn’t gone up to these levels in just a day. It was already very high.
Mataji: Please read the news on your mobile. It is a very serious situation and I am very really worried.
Me: (a bit amused now, but I spoke with a passive face and seriousness) There is no need to worry mataji. They said even 10 or 20 years back that living in Mumbai (where mataji lives) is equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes a day. So it’s nothing new for our body, Please rest assure your trip via Delhi will be fine and no need to be anxious.
Mataji, not very enthused with my reply, turned and left, with a worried expression her face.
As I started walking back towards my room I thought how as a devotee we get bothered with so many distractions. We forget whether our main goal is to go back to Mumbai or going back to Godhead.
Going back to Godhead
While walking back to the room I wished the conversation would have been:
Mataji : Are you aware that we are living in this material world, away from Krishna.
Me: (ashamed) only sometimes mataji.
Mataji : Do you know what all is happening here and what all is supposed to happen as kali-yuga progresses
Me: only a little mataji.
Mataji: Please hear what Srimad Bhagavatam has declared:
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Then, O King, religion, truthfulness, cleanliness, tolerance, mercy, duration of life, physical strength and memory will all diminish day by day because of the powerful influence of the Age of Kali.
In Kali-yuga, wealth alone will be considered the sign of a man’s good birth, proper behavior and fine qualities. And law and justice will be applied only on the basis of one’s power.
Men and women will live together merely because of superficial attraction, and success in business will depend on deceit. Womanliness and manliness will be judged according to one’s expertise in sex, and a man will be known as a brāhmaṇa just by his wearing a thread.
A person’s spiritual position will be ascertained merely according to external symbols, and on that same basis people will change from one spiritual order to the next. A person’s propriety will be seriously questioned if he does not earn a good living. And one who is very clever at juggling words will be considered a learned scholar.
A person will be judged unholy if he does not have money, and hypocrisy will be accepted as virtue. Marriage will be arranged simply by verbal agreement, and a person will think he is fit to appear in public if he has merely taken a bath.
A sacred place will be taken to consist of no more than a reservoir of water located at a distance, and beauty will be thought to depend on one’s hairstyle. Filling the belly will become the goal of life, and one who is audacious will be accepted as truthful. He who can maintain a family will be regarded as an expert man, and the principles of religion will be observed only for the sake of reputation.
As the earth thus becomes crowded with a corrupt population, whoever among any of the social classes shows himself to be the strongest will gain political power.
Losing their wives and properties to such avaricious and merciless rulers, who will behave no better than ordinary thieves, the citizens will flee to the mountains and forests.
Harassed by famine and excessive taxes, people will resort to eating leaves, roots, flesh, wild honey, fruits, flowers and seeds. Struck by drought, they will become completely ruined.
The citizens will suffer greatly from cold, wind, heat, rain and snow. They will be further tormented by quarrels, hunger, thirst, disease and severe anxiety.
The maximum duration of life for human beings in Kali-yuga will become fifty years.
By the time the Age of Kali ends, the bodies of all creatures will be greatly reduced in size, and the religious principles of followers of varṇāśrama will be ruined. The path of the Vedas will be completely forgotten in human society, and so-called religion will be mostly atheistic. The kings will mostly be thieves, the occupations of men will be stealing, lying and needless violence, and all the social classes will be reduced to the lowest level of śūdras. Cows will be like goats, spiritual hermitages will be no different from mundane houses, and family ties will extend no further than the immediate bonds of marriage. Most plants and herbs will be tiny, and all trees will appear like dwarf śamī trees. Clouds will be full of lightning, homes will be devoid of piety, and all human beings will have become like asses. At that time, the Supreme Personality of Godhead will appear on the earth. Acting with the power of pure spiritual goodness, He will rescue eternal religion.
Me: (very surprised) Really!!
Mataji: Of course, don’t you read Bhagavatam daily?
Me: (ashamed) No mataji.
Mataji: well you should read it. You can now read Bhagavatam on your mobile also, there so many apps.
Me: (more ashamed) Actually I have downloaded all those apps but I do not get time to read SB.
Mataji : I am really worried about future. Should we wait for the Kali yuga to progress at a rapid pace to realise the urgency of going back to Godhead.
Me: (very ashamed) I will start reading Srimad Bhagavatam soon.
Mataji : I am really worried. I do not even know when our time will be up and then we will be born again in this Kali-yuga (‘mildly’ practicing Krishna consciousness ensures at least a human birth)
Me: I am very sorry mataji, I will read it the moment I reach back my room, just now, from today onwards. Thank you so much mataji, I am most grateful to you for stopping me and guiding me to get serious about going back to Godhead and the importance of reading Srimad Bhagavatam daily.
I also remember another conversation with very senior devotee last week who cautioned us that Maya is very clever and she catches us at several levels. At first she will try to catch us at four regulative principles. If she is not successful there then she will try to catch us ‘sadhu ninda’ (making offenses against devotees). If she is not successful there then she will catch us with distractions.
What to do?
Närada advises that one should “patiently endure.” This is advice for the devotee. He should fully engage himself in Kåñëa consciousness with the goal of going back to Godhead, and in the meantime he should tolerate the dualities of life. As Lord Kåñëa advises Arjuna, “O son of Kunté, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed” (Bg. 2.14). “Patiently endure” does not mean that one should stoically put up with life’s dualities and not fully engage in Kåñëa consciousness! The devotee spends all his days and moments wholeheartedly engaged in devotional service, but still he has to contend with material upheavals. So in the face of these inevitable changes, he should patiently endure and go on chanting Hare Kåñëa.
(Narada Bhakto Sutra, 77p)
Be always conscious about…
The symptoms of Kali-yuga are very severe, and they will grow more severe. The duration of Kali-yuga is 432,000 years, and although only 5,000 years of it have passed, already we find so many difficulties, and the more we grow into this Kali-yuga, the more the times will be difficult. The best course, therefore, is to complete our Kåñëa consciousness and return home, back to Godhead. That will save us. Otherwise, if we come back again for another life in Kali-yuga, we shall find difficult days ahead, and we shall have to suffer more and more.
Many a times we read or hear about the term ‘oneness’ with God. Unfortunately, most of the time this terms is misunderstood by mayavadis as merging with God/Brahman and hence looked down upon by the devotees. Srila Prabhupada, as usual, gave us so much clarity on this term by explaining how a vaishnava practices oneness with Krishna. I read the below verse last evening and it was so nectarean, I read it repeatedly and every time I learnt something new to aspire for. I am sharing the same with all of you hoping it will help all of us clear what is actually meant by oneness with God and how to practice it in our daily life.
When the mind is thus completely freed from all material contamination and detached from material objectives, it is just like the flame of a lamp. At that time the mind is actually dovetailed with that of the Supreme Lord and is experienced as one with Him because it is freed from the interactive flow of the material qualities.
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport of the above verse:
In the material world the activities of the mind are acceptance and rejection. As long as the mind is in material consciousness, it must be forcibly trained to accept meditation on the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but when one is actually elevated to loving the Supreme Lord, the mind is automatically absorbed in thought of the Lord. In such a position a yogé has no other thought than to serve the Lord. This dovetailing of the mind with the desires of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is called nirväëa, or making the mind one with the Supreme Lord.
The best example of nirväëa is cited in Bhagavad-gétä. In the beginning the mind of Arjuna deviated from Kåñëa’s. Kåñëa wanted Arjuna to fight, but Arjuna did not want to, so there was disagreement. But after hearing Bhagavad-gétä from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Arjuna dovetailed his mind with Kåñëa’s desire. This is called oneness.…When the mind is completely purified in love of Godhead, the mind becomes the mind of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The mind at that time does not act separately, nor does it act without inspiration to fulfill the desire of the Lord. The individual liberated soul has no other activity. Pratinivåtta-guëa-pravähaù. In the conditioned state the mind is always engaged in activity impelled by the three modes of the material world, but in the transcendental stage, the material modes cannot disturb the mind of the devotee. The devotee has no other concern than to satisfy the desires of the Lord. That is the highest stage of perfection, called nirväëa or nirväëa-mukti. At this stage the mind becomes completely free from material desire.
Vaishnava oneness is different
One can attain direct contact with the Supreme Personality of Godhead in full Kåñëa consciousness and revive one’s eternal relationship with Him as lover, as Supreme Soul, as son, as friend or as master. One can reestablish the transcendental loving relationship with the Supreme Lord in so many ways, and that feeling is true oneness.
In the transcendental world, the servant and master are one. That is the absolute platform. Although the relationship is servant and master, both the servant and the served stand on the same platform. That is oneness.
Everyone should come to the platform of Kåñëa consciousness and thus feel oneness as a servant of the Lord. Although there are 8,400,000 species of life, a Vaiñëava feels this oneness. The Éçopaniñad advises, ekatvam anupaçyataù [Éço 7]. A devotee should see the Supreme Personality of Godhead to be situated in everyone’s heart and should also see every living entity as an eternal servant of the Lord. This vision is called ekatvam, oneness. Although there is a relationship of master and servant, both master and servant are one because of their spiritual identity.
Oneness is actually based on oneness of interest. A pure devotee has no interest but to act on behalf of the Supreme Lord. When one has even a tinge of personal interest, his devotion is mixed with the three modes of material nature.
The devotee therefore endeavors to apply everything in the service of the Lord because he knows that everything is the property of the Lord and that no one can claim anything as one’s own. This perfect conception of oneness helps the worshiper in being engaged in His loving service
Our philosophy of Kåñëa consciousness is the same, but instead of becoming one with Kåñëa, we depend on Kåñëa. That is actual oneness. If we simply agree to abide by the orders of Kåñëa and have no disagreement with Him, we are situated in actual oneness.
Surrender. That is oneness. Not that individually he has become different. Individually he is, but he does not disagree with Kåñëa. That is oneness. Just like we are sitting, we are of different interests. But so far my disciples are, they will not disagree with me. That is oneness. But he is individual. He was individual, he is individual, and he will continue his individuality. But as soon as he accepts me as the leader, then he is agreement. That is oneness.
( conversation, 22nd Dec, 1976, Pune)
Kåñëa is the central point. If you know what is milk, then you know what is butter, what is cheese, what is yogurt, everything, because everything is milk product. So if you know Kåñëa, everything is Kåñëa product, so you know everything. That is universal knowledge. That is oneness. When you know what is milk, then, in spite of so many varieties of preparation of milk, you know it is milk. That is oneness. When you know, understand Kåñëa, that “Whatever we are seeing, in our presence, experiencing, they’re all different energies of Kåñëa.
(SPL, 10th March, 1967 San Francisco)
Oneness of a lover
When a lover submits to his lover without any pinch of personal consideration, that is called oneness. Lord Caitanya has taught us this feeling of oneness in His Çikñäñöaka: Kåñëa may act freely, doing whatever He likes, but the devotee should always be in oneness or in agreement with His desires.
(KB, chapter 23)
That’s why gopis’s oneness is highest
Let my mind be fixed upon Lord Çré Kåñëa, whose motions and smiles of love attracted the damsels of Vrajadhäma [the gopés]. The damsels imitated the characteristic movements of the Lord [after His disappearance from the räsa dance]. ( Bhishmadeva prayer to Krishna at his deathbed)
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport: By intense ecstasy in loving service, the damsels of Vrajabhümi attained qualitative oneness with the Lord by dancing with Him on an equal level, embracing Him in nuptial love, smiling at Him in joke, and looking at Him with a loving attitude. The relation of the Lord with Arjuna is undoubtedly praiseworthy for devotees like Bhéñmadeva, but the relation of the gopés with the Lord is still more praiseworthy because of their still more purified loving service. By the grace of the Lord, Arjuna was fortunate enough to have the fraternal service of the Lord as chariot driver, but the Lord did not award Arjuna with equal strength. The gopés, however, practically became one with the Lord by attainment of equal footing with the Lord. Bhéñma’s aspiration to remember the gopés is a prayer to have their mercy also at the last stage of his life. The Lord is satisfied more when His pure devotees are glorified, and therefore Bhéñmadeva has not only glorified the acts of Arjuna, his immediate object of attraction, but has also remembered the gopés, who were endowed with unrivalled opportunities for rendering loving service to the Lord. The gopés’ equality with the Lord should never be misunderstood to be like the säyujya liberation of the impersonalist. The equality is one of perfect ecstasy where the differential conception is completely eradicated, for the interests of the lover and the beloved become identical.
But a devotee should not ‘manufacture’ his own ‘oneness’
The Kåñëa consciousness movement is teaching people how to come to the stage of dedicating everything to the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Kåñëa says in Bhagavad-gétä (9.27):
yat karoñi yad açnäsi yaj juhoñi dadäsi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kuruñva mad-arpaëam
“O son of Kunté, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.” If whatever we do, whatever we eat, whatever we think and whatever we plan is for the advancement of the Kåñëa consciousness movement, this is oneness. There is no difference between chanting for Kåñëa consciousness and working for Kåñëa consciousness. On the transcendental platform, they are one. But we must be guided by the spiritual master about this oneness; we should not manufacture our own oneness.
I hope, and pray, that henceforth we will look at the term oneness in a more positive manner and even aspire to become one with Krishna- by simply dovetailing our mind with the desire of Krishna and under the guidance of our spiritual master.
Each single verse of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam tastes like transcendental condensed milk of a Surabhi cow mixed with kesar, simply delicious and a nectar most satisfying to even conditioned souls (although it is meant to be tasted by paramhansas – liberated souls). No wonder that, along with Bhagavad-gītā, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the specific scripture meant for kali-yuga.
I am sharing another transcendental verse and its nectarean purport by Srila Prabhupada, for the pleasure of devotees, describing causeless mercy of Krishna.
O my Lord, because You are endowed with causeless mercy, all opulences, all prowess and all glories, strength and transcendental qualities, You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the master of everyone.
This verse, more specifically Srila Prabhupada’s purport, describes how kind is Krishna and how He bestows His causeless mercy on His devotees. Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport (I have taken the liberty to break the purport into short sentences) :
In this verse the words tato ’si bhagavān prabhuḥ mean “Therefore You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the master of everyone.”
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is endowed with all six opulences in full, and moreover He is extremely kind to His devotee. Although He is full in Himself, He nonetheless wants all the living entities to surrender unto Him so that they may engage in His service. Thus He becomes satisfied.
Although He is full in Himself, He nonetheless becomes pleased when His devotee offers Him patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyam — a leaf, flower, fruit or water — in devotion.
Sometimes the Lord, as the child of mother Yaśodā, requests His devotee for some food, as if He were very hungry. Sometimes He tells His devotee in a dream that His temple and His garden are now very old and that He cannot enjoy them very nicely. Thus He requests the devotee to repair them. Sometimes He is buried in the earth, and as if unable to come out Himself, He requests His devotee to rescue Him. Sometimes He requests His devotee to preach His glories all over the world, although He alone is quite competent to perform this task.
Even though the Supreme Personality of Godhead is endowed with all possessions and is self-sufficient, He depends on His devotees.
Therefore the relationship of the Lord with His devotees is extremely confidential. Only the devotee can perceive how the Lord, although full in Himself, depends on His devotee for some particular work. This is explained in Bhagavad-gītā (11.33), where the Lord tells Arjuna, nimitta-mātraṁ bhava savyasācin: “O Arjuna, merely be an instrument in the fight.” Lord Krishna had the competence to win the Battle of Kurukṣetra, but nonetheless He induced His devotee Arjuna to fight and become the cause of victory.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was quite competent enough to spread His name and mission all over the world, but still He depended upon His devotee to do this work.
Considering all these points, the most important aspect of the Supreme Lord’s self-sufficiency is that He depends on His devotees. This is called His causeless mercy.
The devotee who has perceived this causeless mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead by realization can understand the master and the servant.
I strongly suggest that we go back to the beginning of the purport and slowly and carefully read it again, chewing it slowly this time, relishing the sweet nectar.
Could we see any practical application while reading the purport? Here is some food for thought
Do I feel and behave like a master (controller) in my day to day dealings or do I take, and also feel, shelter of Krishna in every step?
When I daily offer bhoga to Krishna then do I make each offering to please Him? (or is to please my own senses?)
Am I surrendered to Krishna (or my spiritual master) and properly engaged in His service. Do I even desire to surrender to Krishna? Can I take some steps to progress in that direction. Rather than endlessly waiting for some future ‘favourable’ circumstances can I make a small beginning today?
Can the Lord depend upon me for any task? Have I purified my consciousness by endeavoring to daily chant offenselessly and by being sincere & serious in my sadhna bhakti.
Do I have even have a desire to become His (or His instrument’s) instrument. If Yes, then do I share my desire with Krishna by daily praying to Him for the same?
Which special devotee Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu sent : Srila Prabhupada! (phew! this was easy)
Do I feel causeless mercy of Lord, and His devotees, on me or am I busy speculating being a victim of family, job, circumstances,……
Do I understand, and hence relish & taste, the sweet relationship between Krishna and His devotees or do I read such pastimes merely as stories from which I try to take ‘moral of the story’?
And, last but not the least, am I reading, and tasting, and relishing, Bhagavatam daily ? How much time does it take to read one verse, and its purport, daily? Do I get the time to read newspaper (or browse internet) daily?
But I am a conditioned soul?
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is so carefully presented that a sincere and serious person can at once enjoy the ripened fruit of Vedic knowledge simply by drinking the nectarean juice through the mouth of Śukadeva Gosvāmī or his bona fide representative.