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)
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 email@example.com
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!
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.
“The best way to search for the truth is to follow the path that has previously been gone over by saintly persons and devotees, and by which they have attained the supreme goal of life. Such a path is always free from all kinds of obstacles and hindrances to our progress, and by following it one very quickly attains the desired result.”
By Lord’s mercy I was very fortunate to get association of HG Priti Vardhana Prabhuji while coming back from Vrindavan to Gurgaon few days back. During our two and half hour ride I had some amazing discussions with prabhuji. During that discussion I shared with prabhuji how I am struggling on a particular aspect of being conscious of Krishna and requested Prabhuji to kindly help me how to practice it. Prabhuji replied for that I will have to read Upadesamrta (Nectar of Instruction). I was surprised because as far I knew Srila Rupa Goswami did not touch the particular topic I was struggling in this book. I asked Prabhuji in which verse or purport I can find this topic. Prabhuji’ reply further stumped me- the first four verses! Seeing the puzzled expression on my face, Prabhuji clarified: you have to first start practicing these first four verses of Upadesamrta and only then I can hope to develop a consciousness to help me understand and practice the area I am currently struggling with. It was a wake up call for me to start practicing what I was reading and not merely understanding it philosophically.
Today is the disappearance Day of Srila Rupa Goswami
I was thinking what to read on the disappearance day of Srila Rupa Goswami today. After some thinking I felt inspired to check what HG Priti Vardhana prabhuji had told me few days back. I started writing what are the qualities in each of the first four verses of Upadesamrta and where do I stand vis-à-vis each of them. It was a mixture of embarrassment and some hope!
On the auspicious occasion of disappearance day of Srila Rupa Goswami we can do this exercise to write down these qualities on one side of a paper and then in front of each quality we can write down how are we situated and compare, say 1 year back, and see how is our progress under each quality. It might turn out to be a good reality check!
Here the first four verses:
vāco vegaṁ manasaḥ krodha-vegaṁ jihvā-vegam udaropastha-vegam etān vegān yo viṣaheta dhīraḥ sarvām apīmāṁ pṛthivīṁ sa śiṣyāt
A sober person who can tolerate the urge to speak, the mind’s demands, the actions of anger and the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals is qualiﬁed to make disciples all over the world.
atyāhāraḥ prayāsaś ca prajalpo niyamāgrahaḥ jana-saṅgaś ca laulyaṁ ca ṣaḍbhir bhaktir vinaśyati
One’s devotional service is spoiled when he becomes too entangled in the following six activities: (1) eating more than necessary or collecting more funds than required; (2) over-endeavoring for mundane things that are very difﬁcult to obtain; (3) talking unnecessarily about mundane subject matters; (4) practicing the scriptural rules and regulations only for the sake of following them and not for the sake of spiritual advancement, or rejecting the rules and regulations of the scriptures and working independently or whimsically; (5) associating with worldly-minded persons who are not interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness; and (6) being greedy for mundane achievements.
utsāhān niścayād dhairyāt tat-tat-karma-pravartanāt saṅga-tyāgāt sato vṛtteḥ ṣaḍbhir bhaktiḥ prasidhyati
There are six principles favorable to the execution of pure devotional service: (1) being enthusiastic, (2) endeavoring with conﬁdence, (3) being patient, (4) acting according to regulative principles [such as śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇam – hearing, chanting and remembering Kṛṣṇa], (5) abandoning the association of nondevotees, and (6) following in the footsteps of the previous ācāryas. These six principles undoubtedly assure the complete success of pure devotional service.
Offering gifts in charity, accepting charitable gifts, revealing one’s mind in conﬁdence, inquiring conﬁdentially, accepting prasāda and offering prasāda are the six symptoms of love shared by one devotee and another.
(Verses 1-4, Upadesamrta)
We may list down the qualities described in these four verses as below
Verse 1 : Becoming a sober person by tolerating these six urges
Urge to speak
the mind’s demands
the actions of anger
urge of tongue
urge of belly
urge of genitals
Verse 2: Not to get too entangled in the below six activities
Eating more than necessary or collecting more funds than required
over-endeavoring for mundane things that are very difﬁcult to obtain
talking unnecessarily about mundane subject matters
practicing the scriptural rules and regulations only for the sake of following them and not for the sake of spiritual advancement, or rejecting the rules and regulations of the scriptures and working independently or whimsically
associating with worldly-minded persons who are not interested in Kṛṣṇa consciousness
being greedy for mundane achievements.
Verse 3: Six principles favourable to devotional service
endeavoring with conﬁdence
acting according to regulative principles [such as śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ smaraṇam – hearing, chanting and remembering Krishna]
abandoning the association of non-devotees,
following in the footsteps of the previous ācāryas.
Verse 4: Practicing six symptoms of love shared between devotees
Offering gifts in charity
accepting charitable gifts
revealing one’s mind in conﬁdence
Let’s read few gems Srila Prabhupada wrote on the process given by Srila Rupa Goswami in Upadesamrta
The Krishna consciousness movement is conducted under the supervision of Srila Rupa Goswami.
In all spiritual affairs, one’s ﬁrst duty is to control his mind and senses.
Upadeśāmṛta constitutes the ﬁrst instructions for neophyte devotees. (!!)
(Nectar of Instruction, preface)
Self-realisation is not so cheap!
Yoga means training the mind and the senses to be fixed on the Self. This is not possible by meditating only fifteen minutes a day and then going out and doing whatever the senses dictate. How can the problems of life be solved so cheaply? If we want something precious, we have to pay for it.
(Path of Perfection, chapter 5)
From go-däsa to goswami…
The nature of the mind is flickering and unsteady. But a self-realized yogi has to control the mind; the mind should not control him. At the present moment, the mind is controlling us (go-däsa). The mind is telling us, “Please, why not look at that beautiful girl?” and so we look… “Why not go to this restaurant for such palatable food? Why not do this? Why not do that?” In this way, the mind is dictating, and we are following. Material life means being controlled by the senses, or the mind, which is the center of all the senses. Being controlled by the mind means being controlled by the senses, because the senses are the mind’s assistants. The master mind dictates, “Go see that,” and the eyes, following the directions of the mind, look at the sense object. The mind tells us to go to a certain place, and the legs, under the mind’s directions, carry us there. Thus, being under the direction of the mind means coming under the control of the senses. If we can control the mind, we will not be under the control of the senses. One who is under the control of the senses is known as go-däsa. The word go means “senses,” and däsa means “servant.” One who is master of the senses is called goswami, because swami means “master.” Therefore, one who has the title goswami is one who has mastered the senses. As long as one is servant of the senses, he cannot be called a goswami or swami.
(Path of Perfection, chapter 5)
How would I know I am following it properly?
After eating, a man can understand that his hunger has been satisfied; similarly, by following the principles of Krishna consciousness, one can understand that he has advanced in self-realization.
(Path of Perfection, chapter 5)
Each one of us can follow the process given by previous acharyas and make our present life successful by simply endeavoring for it, perfection is not required. And on special days, like today, we can receive extra mercy. So it may not be such a bad idea today to pray to Srila Rupa Goswami with a sincere and honest heart and seek his mercy to help us follow the instructions he left for us.
All glories to the auspicious occasion of disappearance day of Srila Rupa Goswami.
‘sādhu-saṅga’, ‘sādhu-saṅga’ — sarva-śāstre kaya
lava-mātra sādhu-saṅge sarva-siddhi haya (CC Madhya 22.54)
“The verdict of all revealed scriptures is that by even a moment’s association with a pure devotee, one can attain all success.
One must be very meek and submissive and try to live peacefully by lending the ear to the speeches of the transcendentally self-realized soul who speaks on the message of Bhägavata-dharma, or the religion of glorifying the Supreme Lord and His devotees. To glorify a great man is a natural instinct for living beings, but they have not learned to glorify the Lord. Perfection of life is attained simply by glorifying the Lord in association with a self-realized devotee of the Lord.* The self-realized devotee is he who surrenders unto the Lord fully and who does not have attachment for material prosperity… It is imperative, therefore, that one sincerely seek the association of pure devotees and hear them patiently and submissively from any position of life. (Srimad-Bhägavatam Introduction)
The best association is the service of the devotees of the Lord, and by that association one can become the highest qualified man by the grace of the Lord’s pure devotees. As we have already seen in the life of Srila Närada Muni, he became the topmost devotee of the Lord simply by the association of pure devotees of the Lord. By birth he was the son of a maidservant and had no knowledge of his father and no academic education, even of the lowest status. But simply by associating with the devotees and by eating the remnants of their foodstuff, he gradually developed the transcendental qualities of the devotees. By such association, his taste for chanting and hearing the transcendental glories of the Lord became prominent, and because the glories of the Lord are nondifferent from the Lord, he got direct association with the Lord by means of sound representation… Therefore the Bhägavatam always recommends the association of the mahat, or the great soul, for opening the gate of salvation. (SB 2.10.41p)
..a pure devotee, who is preparing to transfer himself to the spiritual kingdom, is also freed from the association of the three modes of material nature. We have to seek the association of such devotees. For this reason we have begun the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. (SB 3.25.24p)
Let me share a recent experience. We were very fortunate that HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj visited Gurgaon temple on 25th December 2015. During the lecture Maharaj asked how many devotees read Bhagavad Gita daily. Many hands went up, but quiet less as a percentage considering the hall was packed with devotees. Maharaj then spoke about the importance of reading Bhagavad Gita daily and asked everyone to read at least one verse daily and then emphasised ‘with purport’. Now, since 2 years, I have been posting one Bhagavad Gita verse and its purport daily on a few whatsapp groups meant for preaching. Initially I would carefully read it myself but as time passed it became more or less a duty to post it so either I would read it hurriedly or just read the verse skipping the purport entirely. I would read the purport carefully only when someone in those whatsapp groups would ask a question from the purport. Sitting there in front of HH Gopala Krishna maharaj it really hit me that I am posting Bhagavad Gita verse daily for others to read but I am myself skipping the same. I thanked Maharaj in my heart, sought forgiveness from Srila Prabhupada, and promised that from now onward I will diligently read these daily verses I am posting. Now I have made it a point that even if I am in a hurry while posting the verse in the morning and can’t read it that particular time, I do not read anything else till I have read the daily verse. Suddenly reading the daily verse carefully has become a priority for me and it is enriching my minuscule devotional life. This is simply the result of association of a pure devotee, Maharaj’s words hit straight at my heart.
…the conclusion is that everyone can become a sädhana-siddha, a devotee of the Lord, simply by association with the pure devotees. ( SB 2.3.15p)
“The Vedic literatures give information about the living entity’s eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa, which is called sambandha. The living entity’s understanding of this relationship and his acting accordingly is called abhidheya. Returning home, back to Godhead, is the ultimate goal of life and is called prayojana.
“Devotional service, or sense activity for the satisfaction of the Lord, is called abhidheya because it can develop one’s original love of Godhead, which is the goal of life. This goal is the living entity’s topmost interest and greatest wealth. Thus one attains the platform of transcendental loving service unto the Lord.
“When one attains the transcendental bliss of an intimate relationship with Kṛṣṇa, he renders service to Him and tastes the mellows of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
— CC Madhya 20.124-126
The whole Vedas are divided into three states. Sambandha: what is our connection with God? That is called sambandha. And then abhidheya. According to that relationship we have to act. That is called abhidheya. And why do we act? Because we have got the goal of life, to achieve the goal of life. So what is the goal of life? The goal of life is that to go back to home, back to Godhead. That is goal of life.
..the Vedānta-sūtra consists of four chapters. The first two chapters discuss the relationship of the living entity with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is known as sambandha-jñāna, or knowledge of the relationship. The third chapter describes how one can act in his relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is called abhidheya-jñāna. The relationship of the living entity with the Supreme Lord is described by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu: jīvera ‘svarūpa’ haya kṛṣṇera ‘nitya-dāsa’. “The living entity is an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme God.” (Cc. Madhya 20.108) Therefore, to act in that relationship one must perform sādhana-bhakti, or the prescribed duties of service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is called abhidheya-jñāna. The fourth chapter describes the result of such devotional service (prayojana-jñāna). This ultimate goal of life is to go back home, back to Godhead.
— CC Adi 7 106p
I was hearing a lecture by HH Bhakti Vidyapurna Maharaj on the same topic and Maharaj explained these three terms in a simpler way as well the relation between them.
Sambandha : attraction, what draws the mind.
Prayojana : attachment.
Both the above are moods, they create feelings but there is no activity.
Abhidheya : This is the actual expression of the above two.
So we become attracted towards Krishna and then due to that attraction we become attached to Krishna and then we want to do something. The real meaning comes with service.
We say mind has three functions: thinking, feeling and willing.
If something is attractive we think about it, if we are not attracted then we won’t think about it. Feeling is when we get attached to it. Then..willing.. we actually do something about it. So we see Krishna, we become attracted to Krishna then we become attached to Krishna and then we finally want to serve Krishna.
So it is in abhidheya that we understand the knowledge, contemplate on it and then practice that knowledge. It is application. How we are related to Krishna and what we want to achieve, what is it’s purpose.
Abhidheya is the most important and critical part among the three and I am sharing some nectar, which I heard in last few months, on how we, as aspiring devotees, can traverse this wonderful and exciting journey, making it more enriching and less painful (for us and those around us!)
Who am I and what is my eternal duty?
My real identity is that I’m a servant of Krishna and my duty is to serve Krishna.
My current role as a father, mother, husband, wife, daughter, doctor, businessman, artist, etc. is the ‘service’ Krishna has given me. I have to perform all these ‘services’ but I’m none of these.
jīvera ‘svarūpa’ haya — kṛṣṇera ‘nitya-dāsa’
“It is the living entity’s constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa.”
— CC Madhya 20 108
As aspiring devotees we must drill it in our head that
Krishna is the controller and Krishna is the supreme enjoyer.
Hence, I am not the controller, I am not the enjoyer. (we should practice to remember this when we face challenging situations at home, and everywhere else in our life)
And I’m not even the doer. I can only desire. And Krishna may or may not fulfill all my desires, knowing well what is good for us at this stage.
More importantly, as an aspiring devotee, I should be very conscious of what are my desires ( at least my conscious desires, I have no control at our stage on my subconscious desires, but those too are are changing while I sincerely practice Krishna consciousness). I should daily read scriptures like Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavatam, Caitanya-caritāmṛta or vaishnava prayers and then note down on a piece of paper or a writing pad what should be my desires.
I should then practice to pray for these right kind of desires. It is a very nice sublime and enriching practice to speak and express such desires in front of our deities at home. It is an amazing experience. It also brings a lot of humility as we regularly (if not daily!) realise our helplessness as we fail despite our best intentions. It also acts as a catalyst for urgency and significance of mercy from above. We realise the minuteness of everything we thought will hold us good in this world, my intelligence, my willpower, even my good intentions…
I can also practice to be more sensitive and contemplate regularly what is happening around me (my circumstances) and then sincerely beg Srila Prabhupada and Krishna for guidance as to what I have to learn from changing, and challenging, circumstances in my life. This may help me learn without Krishna having to put a bomb under me to wake me up ! Become a conscious cooperator. And I should be ready to ‘walk the talk’ and face any kind of ‘music’ which may crop up to get me out of my present groove.
Chanting attentively, which means trying to chant Nama conscious and Nama pleasing rounds, will ensure that I am sincerely seeking shelter of the spiritual energy of the Lord.
And in the meantime, whatever be my present ashram or situation, I have to sincerely try hard to practice the culture of Love, and not culture of lust. Every single challenge is training ground for us to progress in Krishna consciousness. I have to aspire and live the ‘madhyam’ culture in my daily life.
All this would definitely be a big struggle but this struggle for Krishna will help me develop my ‘weakened’ spiritual muscles. And this struggle is a very sweet struggle because I’m struggling for Krishna. And there is reciprocation in this struggle, it is NOT one sided, with me acting merely like a puppet. It is a dynamic relationship. It takes two to tango, ashraya and vishaya, subject and the object.
The whole journey is like a child who is learning to walk. He falls down and trips and sometimes gets hurt too. But the child remains enthusiastic, determined and endeavors hard to learn how to walk. And His parents are there to help him. The child too has the confidence that they will protect him. Yet sometimes to a child it may look cruel that even as he is trying hard to walk, the child tries to hold on to a support, struggling to even stand properly, the parent pushes that support a little further away from him. In reality the parent do that because they know it will help the child to learn to walk and gain some confidence in his own ability, even at a slight risk of child falling down on the ground and getting hurt a bit, but they are always next to the child to protect him. As a grown up, the child will always look back and be nothing but grateful to his parents for all their patience to help him walk, realising that they had no selfish interest other than his own benefit.
Same is the case of the beautiful relationship that develops between an aspiring devotee and Krishna. And it is just the beginning of the sweetest relationship a soul can ever taste.
A Note of caution. All these words may help me’understand’ it all this a bit but I will ‘realise’ it only when I practice it in my daily life, this knowledge is for application. And the best time to start practicing is… TODAY!
( As we struggle to implement all the above steps in our life it might be good idea to take shelter of Srila Rupa Goswami (by praying to him, reading his books & going to his samadhi) and praying to Sri Govind Devji (picture above), our acharaya and Deity of abhideya respectively)
Here is a short video of one of the most sweet mangal artis I have ever attended, at Radha Govind Devji temple, Jaipur.
Radhe Govind… Bhajo Radhe Govind, Paar Lagaa Dey Govind,
Jay Sri Radhe Krishna, pyaare Krishna…
राधे गोविन्द भजो राधे गोविन्द पार लगादे गोविन्द !!
I am under the weather since yesterday morning and as usual found that falling sick can be quiet a liberating experience as one struggles with the body but can easily experience that our subtle body is still very active. At a different level it can also act as a good circumstance which forces us to learn to depend upon Krishna more as we struggle even with basic bodily functions. At another level it helps us build some much needed ‘spiritual muscle’ as we struggle to stay active in our sadhna and service. Of course, all this didn’t happen to me (merely down with cold and cough) but I can say a little bit of conviction is that the struggle in Krishna consciousness is a very sweet struggle, as we struggle to please Krishna and take shelter of His internal potency rather than fighting and struggling with His material energy. It is an amazing experience, even if we taste it momentary.
I also wanted to share a funny inspiration. The above pictures are two flower pots sitting on the two opposite side of the ledge in our balcony. A few days back I was standing there and started wondering what are these two flower pots doing here and why I have kept them for so long. Then suddenly it dawned upon me that they both represent something deep within me and there is a message for me!
The first picture is that of an elephant shaped flower-pot and has a broken tusk. So this is me, this elephant represent my unlimited material desires. The broken tusk signifies that although I have spent so many years in sense enjoyment, knowing all about material sense enjoyment, yet inspite for being in the path of Krishna consciousness for so many years, and having tasted some glimpse of the higher taste, the desires for sense gratification remains unabated deep inside me.
The second flower-pot is a pig flying in the air. We know the English proverb ‘pigs don’t fly’, it’s a way of saying that something will never happen. So this is the current state of my devotional life and spiritual aspirations. I keep on day dreaming one day my circumstances will change and I will take Krishna consciousness more seriously and then so and so thing will happen as I will take such and such step to progress fast in Krishna consciousness. Unfortunately all such thinking is just a phantasmagoria and will probably never happen. I need to wake up and take whatever steps I can take now, today, and make whatever little progress I can rather than live in some rosy future which is not going to happen.
I searched for an appropriate prayer to share with everyone and then felt inspired to share the beautiful gem called Gopinath Mama Nivedana Suno, written by Sril Bhaktvinoda Thakura, it’s a prayer worth reading every single day of our life.
gopīnāth, mama nivedana śuno
viṣayī durjana, sadā kāma-rata,
kichu nāhi mora guṇa
I heard a wonderful lecture on Krishna Book by HG Srimati Mataji. I am quoting a small portion from the same lecture on how we should become a conscious cooperator in the hand of Lord.
Here is the text from ‘Krishna’ Book, chapter 4, where, having being warned by Durga Devi that the child who will kill Kamsa has already taken birth, Kamsa is now repenting and is also trying to justify all his past sinful actions, putting them behind the bars, killing their children, etc., as will of providence. In these lines lie some very enlightening lessons for an aspiring devotee like my own self.
“My dear sister Devakī, you are so gentle and kind. Please excuse me—don’t be aggrieved by the death of your children, which I have caused. Actually this was not done by me, because all these are predestined activities. One has to act according to the predestined plan, even unwillingly. People misunderstand that with the end of the body the self dies, or they think that one can kill another living entity. All these misconceptions oblige one to accept the conditions of material existence. In other words, as long as one is not firmly convinced of the eternality of the soul, one is subjected to the tribulation of being killer and killed. My dear sister Devakī and brother-in-law Vasudeva, kindly excuse the atrocities I have committed against you. I am very poor-hearted, and you are so great-hearted, so take compassion upon me and excuse me.”
Here is the translation of the exact verse from Srimad Bhagavatam on this incident
My dear sister Devakī, all good fortune unto you. Everyone suffers and enjoys the results of his own work under the control of providence. Therefore, although your sons have unfortunately been killed by me, please do not lament for them.
In the bodily conception of life, one remains in darkness, without self-realization, thinking, “I am being killed” or “I have killed my enemies.” As long as a foolish person thus considers the self to be the killer or the killed, he continues to be responsible for material obligations, and consequently he suffers the reactions of happiness and distress.
When Devakī saw her brother actually repentant while explaining ordained events, she was relieved of all anger. Similarly, Vasudeva was also free from anger. Smiling, he spoke to Kaṁsa as follows.
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport that Devakī and Vasudeva, both highly elevated personalities, accepted the truth presented by Kaṁsa that everything is ordained by providence. According to the prophecy, Kaṁsa would be killed by the eighth child of Devakī. Therefore, Vasudeva and Devakī saw that behind all these incidents was a great plan devised by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
This is a very important point, Kamsa is seeing it as providence where as Devakī and Vasudeva are seeing providence as the plan of the Lord. This is a big difference between a materialist and a devotee. Materialist is going to be talking about providence but devotee can see the hand of the Lord. The more advance we are the more we can see the hand of the Lord. Advance devotees don’t worry about anything happening around them as they know Lord has got all the controls. He has some plans…to direct things. Now our position is to become a consciousness cooperator.
This is what we should aim for, become a Conscious cooperator, not whiner and griner! And also not just accepting, accepting, accepting or tolerating, tolerating, tolerating,..not like that also. We want to become consciousness cooperators.
Cooperate with Krishna. Okay! Krishna you have done this, You must have a plan. You are not envious of me so the plan must be for my betterment. So, please give me some insight so I can cooperate with Your plan.
Mataji said that bad things don’t happen to good people. Nothing is ever bad in Krishna consciousness. It’s just that sometimes we are just a little too thick, we keep on going in the same same groove. We can’t hear anything ( not get the subtle signals) and just remain in the same groove. So sometimes Krishna has to put a bomb under us to wake us up to the fact that there is something different that might be a better thing to do!
So this is interesting that Devakī and Vasudeva can see, these are highly elevated personalities, they can see that all the incidents are Krishna’s plan.
Let’s just see what those incidents were, locked up in jail for years, not just locked up but shackled…for years… and we are talking about a prince and princess, they were not ordinary persons. We are talking about someone who is used to all the luxuries, including respect and honour. So they are locked up, their children killed, year after year. And they are seeing all these incidents as indicator of plan of the Lord! That’s highly elevated personalities.
Prabhupada is writing Because the Lord had already taken birth, just like a human child, and was in the safe custody of Yaśodā, everything was happening according to plan, and there was no need to continue their ill feeling toward Kaṁsa. Thus they accepted Kaṁsa’s words.
So it’s interesting why they are giving up their ill feelings towards Kamsa? Because their ‘ishta deva’ is safe and sound so everything is fine. This is an insight into high their consciousness is. And Yashoda’s daughter didn’t get killed, that’s a relief for them, as they would have felt guilty about it.
We read further from Krishna Book chapter 4
Vasudeva told Kaṁsa, “My dear fortunate brother-in-law, what you are saying about the material body and the soul is correct. Every living entity is born ignorant, misunderstanding this material body to be his self. This conception of life is due to ignorance, and on the basis of this ignorance we create enmity or friendship. Lamentation, jubilation, fearfulness, envy, greed, illusion and madness are different features of our material concept of life. A person influenced like this engages in enmity only due to the material body. Being engaged in such activities, we forget our eternal relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
This is a big statement: These types of activities make us forget our eternal relationship with Supreme Lord. So may be we don’t want all these activities as part of our mainstream activities.
Lets read the exact verse from Bhagavatam describing the same
Persons with the vision of differentiation are imbued with the material qualities lamentation, jubilation, fear, envy, greed, illusion and madness. They are influenced by the immediate cause, which they are busy counteracting, because they have no knowledge of the remote, supreme cause, the Personality of Godhead.
The key in the above verse is ‘They are influenced by the immediate cause, which they are busy counteracting’ (does this sound familiar to our daily life many a times!)
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport, it is really an amazing purport.
Kṛṣṇa is the cause of all causes (sarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam), but one who has no connection with Kṛṣṇa is disturbed by immediate causes and cannot restrain his vision of separation or differences. When an expert physician treats a patient, he tries to find the original cause of the disease and is not diverted by the symptoms of that original cause. Similarly, a devotee is never disturbed by reverses in life. A devotee understands that when he is in distress, this is due to his own past misdeeds, which are now accruing reactions, although by the grace of the Supreme Personality of Godhead these are only very slight. When a devotee under the protection of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is to suffer because of faults in his past deeds, he passes through only a little misery by the grace of the Lord. Although the disease of a devotee is due to mistakes committed sometime in the past, he agrees to suffer and tolerate such miseries, and he depends fully on the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus he is never affected by material conditions of lamentation, jubilation, fear and so on. A devotee never sees anything to be unconnected with the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The highlighted portion is a very powerful key for us.
So three things a devotee can follow when he is in difficulty and he won’t be affected by the material conditions are :
he suffers, not just suffer but tolerates such miseries
he depends fully on Supreme Personality of Godhead
Mataji strongly stressed ‘Give it a try, it works’!
And we see how Haridas Thakura got beaten in 22 market places. So many great vaishanavas, there is so much distress. It’s not like that their life was a bed of roses, so much difficulty. We know how much Prabhupada went through. But it doesn’t deter them, because of the above three qualities.
So as aspiring devotees we have to realise and take these points very very seriously and practice them. We are not going to become a vaishanava, a properly situated vaishnava, by reading about it or talking about it, that’s helpful as we will be able to know what it is about but the main thing is that we practice. Prabhupada tells us in his purport to BG8.28 that ‘these books are not meant for armchair speculators’. They are for practice.
Srimati mataji pushed hard the serious devotees ‘We can feel really good knowing all the verses, we can feel really good knowing the philosophy, where is feeling good going to get you!! We won’t go very far without practicing it.
The key thing here is, as Prabhupada writes,
A devotee never sees anything to be unconnected with the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Mataji said that this is a very powerful thing on many many different levels. When we speak to highly evolved vaishanavas and we watch the way they interact with material energy, which for them is not material, it is very interesting. Because they only see Krishna’s plan! They don’t see their plan. So they have some idea what they want to do for Krishna today but if it doesn’t work out the way they expected, they don’t get disturbed by that. They just have a look, okay.. so what’s Krishna’s plan? And when one gets very very evolved he just loves Krishna’s plan! They are not here for their own plan, they are here for the boss’s plan! And that’s the most blissful platform, safest and most blissful.
And if we think we can be happy independent of Krishna… Forget it!!
So next time if something doesn’t work out the way we expected it to work out then instead of playing the controller, and doing yelling and screaming (internally or externally) instead of doing that we should just hold our breadth, hold our tongue and say okay, what’s Krishna wants me to do here. If we just try it we will be in a lot less anxiety.
Hence all these points are meant for application in our devotional practice and not just merely to store all this as information.
Now let me share a little application of the above principle.
Last week was quite a tight week one for me at work, home and the classes. I had receive a service, priority no.1 one for me, to assist a senior devotee with some search and editing work which I was to submit on 16th Jan. And Shyamsundar Prabhu had requested me to give a ‘serious’ class on Isopanishad, verse 17, on 14th Jan, This was a book I had read long time back and not studied seriously. Then there was a class at my own home on 15th Jan, and on top of all this I committed for a class on 13th Jan as well. This line up did not include some work for a weekend assignment which I had not even touched! And that my wife & son were away and I was to take care of my teenage daughter at home and work pressure for a new project was high. Phew!
So middle of the week on 13th Jan, under mental pressure, I thought I had taken up too much to chew. It was becoming clear to me that there is no way I can complete the service given by the senior devotee which was top priority for me. I also felt guilty that 13th January being ‘Lohri’ and a holiday for my daughter I should have thought about it and stayed home in the evening instead of committing myself to a class. I then wrote a SMS to Shayamsundar Prabhu that I can’t do the class at his home this week and let’s keep it for some other time. I was about to send the SMS but somehow I remembered that I am trying to handle everything using my own intelligence and ability. On one side I keep on praying for service and when the services have come I can’t refuse on my own, I need to take shelter.
I prayed to Srila Prabhupada for guidance and help, that let whatever he thinks is good for me spiritually let it happen and I will follow it.
The instant inspiration was not to send the SMS cancelling the class. I deleted the drafted SMS. I called up Sitarani mataji who gave me some excellent tips on how to have mood of bhakti and not ‘jnana’ for the Isopanishad class. I thought of reaching home early and complete my service for the editing for the senior devotee but got stuck in the office and could not leave early. I hurriedly came home in the evening, sheepishly said sorry to my daughter for not being able to spend to spend time with her and leaving her alone. I felt guilty for my action. I left home but as soon as I come out on the main road I found the whole road blocked with traffic. I thought of double checking it with Amit Prabhu, whose house was the class. Prabhuji replied that some of his family members are not there today and also there are not too many confirmations for the class so he politely suggested that we can drop the class today. I accepted it as will of Lord and hurriedly came back home thinking that I will not be leaving my daughter alone now and will also get some time to work on the editing work.
As I had not even entered the home Ravi prabhu called up. Prabhuji wanted to come over as he was in Gurgaon. I welcomed Prabhuji but told him that our meeting has to be short as I need some time to complete a service. By the time I changed, finished the evening arti and was about to open the work, Prabhuji walked in. We had early dinner prasadam together and during our discussion I shared how I was under pressure for a particular editing work which I had completed but all the alignment etc. in the soft copy was not all my forte and I don’t know how this will get complete by 16th. Prabhuji immediately offered to assist me in the same and said he can complete the same in a day! My anxiety level instantaneously came down by 90%! I profusely thanked Srila Prabhupada and Krishna for these sudden changes.
Next day I woke up early and for next 6 hours I prepared hard for the Isopanishad class. I wasn’t quite satisfied as I finally left for office. I thought of taking the day off from office but two urgent and very critical issues were at hand and I had to face them. I tried hard to reach home early but could not do so. On the way back I had the driver so I thought I will get time to prepare but my japa rounds were pending. After a moment of introspection I decided to first complete my rounds rather than prepare for the class. I prayed to Holy name to please help me concentrate on chanting and not on the anxiety for the unprepared class looming over my mind. I also prayed to Holy Name to help me serve the devotees in the evening as I had tried hard but failed to prepare well and now needed support of His mercy. I was able to chant without much anxiety as I left myself at the mercy of Holy Name.
As I reached home, I hurriedly read my notes. I was again anxious seeing the long length of my notes, no coherent flow in my mind for the class and my obvious lack of preparation. As I sat in the car to leave for the class I thought of letting go the whole preparation and just read Srila Prabhupada’s long purport of verse 17. I thought let me just keep on explaining each para a little bit and the class will be done nicely and I will not be under pressure to deliver a ‘serious’ class. Again I prayed to Srila Prabhupada and sought guidance. I clearly felt the message to give the class in the format I was struggling to prepare. I accepted it. At this time I still had three more round of chanting left, we faced some traffic and I was able to complete my last round as the car stopped outside Prabhuji’s home. I wanted to sit in the car for few more seconds and go over my notes one last time but some devotees were already outside Prabhuji’s home and they noticed me.
With a little anxious heart I entered Prabhuji’s home, again prayed hard to Srila Prabhupada to help me serve the devotees by bringing them closer to his and Lord’s lotus feet. I gave the class in the same format I felt inspired.
By Srila Prabhupada’s, and Lord’s, mercy I managed to serve the devotees and did not know how the class went for almost two hours. I was very much relieved when Shyamsundar prabhu stated, as I was leaving his home, that he liked the content of the class. I thanked Srila Prabhupada and the Holy Name. I sang loud kirtan all the way back home. My faith in the power of shelter and prayer to Srila Prabhupada and the Holy Name had taken one step forward.
Thanks to Ravi Prabhu, I was able to complete the assignment from the senior devotee next day and submitted it on time and to the satisfaction of the senior devotee. The two critical pending issues at my office too got resolved with unexpected help. The class at home went fine as my parents came over to help and stay over the weekend. Mentally free, I was able to visit Vrindavan Dhama on Saturday, for a night, and got some much needed association, on the way as well in the Dhama!
Accept that all challenging circumstances are for my own benefit and improvement, they are in fact mercy of Lord.
Become a conscious cooperator, ‘align’ with what is happening and utilise these circumstances to build some ‘spiritual muscle’.
Always take shelter of Srila Prabhupada and Lord Krishna and seek what lesson I am supposed to learn from these circumstances.
Try not to have mental blocks, that this is ‘spiritual’ and this is ‘material’! Everything is under the control of Lord Krishna and it is my contaminated consciousness which makes me see things or circumstances independent of Krishna. As an aspiring devotee I should practice to see Krishna’s presence in everything around me and there is no part of my life which I should see as being ‘material’.
All glories to the wonderful journey of being in Krishna consciousness.
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
P.S.: I am surprised to share that this is the 200th blog since I started writing two years back. The blog was visited by 11,637 visitors, from 123 countries, last calendar year and has 320 subscribers. Thank you so very much for your support.
I offer my respectful obeisances to Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. By the potency of the shelter of His lotus feet, even a fool can collect the valuable jewels of conclusive truth from the mines of the revealed scriptures. (CC Adi 3.1)
One hears so much about renunciation in our movement and many times as grihasthas (householders) we become confused as to what is actual renunciation for us and how can we practically apply it in our daily life. I searched on this topic and found some gems which I am sharing below.
We should be aware that as long as we remain attached to material enjoyment we will not be able to remain properly fixed in the process of bhakti yoga. As householders our goal should be progressive renunciation of material enjoyment and not the dry renunciation from family life as practiced by jnanis or yogis, that is not our path. It was Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, a great disciple of Lord Caitanya, who said that Caitanya Mahaprabhu descended to teach detachment from whatever does not foster devotional service to Krishna.
What exactly is renunciation?
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said:
One who is unattached to the fruits of his work and who works as he is obligated is in the renounced order of life, and he is the true mystic, not he who lights no fire and performs no duty.
What is called renunciation you should know to be the same as yoga, or linking oneself with the Supreme, O son of Pandu, for one can never become a yogi unless he renounces the desire for sense gratification. (BG 6.1-2)
According to above definition, a renunciant is not simply someone who gives up external duties. A renunciant is one who gives up all personal, selfish interests, while at the same time working for Krishna’s interest.
Although these verses from the Bhagavad Gita appear to address renunciation by the yogi, they also apply to the a devotee. The yogi and the bhakta both practice renunciation, but in different ways. Both renounce sense gratification, and both restrain the senses. The yogi, however, does this by sitting down in a solitary place, controlling his breath, and refraining from all activity. The devotee, Srila Prabhupada explains, has a different method: “A person in Krishna consciousness has no opportunity to engage his senses in anything which is not for the purpose of Krishna.” In other words, a devotee is always renounced because he always engages in devotional activity.
If we are serious about going back to Godhead in this lifetime, then we must seriously apply the principles of renunciation and devotion. We have a certain amount of “business” to accomplish in the human form of life, and heading the list is the business of becoming detached from material desires. If we don’t become detached in this life, we will have to return in another life to continue. Prabhupada writes, “We should be determined to finish our duties in executing devotional service in this life. We should not wait for another life to finish our job.”
Devotional renunciation is easy and pleasant. All we have to do is refrain from sinful activity and, rather than avoiding activity, engage ourselves in acts of devotion. Our lives will become so filled with Krishna consciousness that we will have little time to worry about becoming attracted to the material world. Srila Prabhupada writes, “The more the activities of the material world are performed in Krishna consciousness, or for Vishnu only, the more the atmosphere becomes spiritualised by complete absorption.… Matter dovetailed for the cause of the Absolute Truth regains its spiritual quality. Krishna consciousness is the process of converting the illusory consciousness into Brahman, or the Supreme.” (Bhagavad Gita 4.24, purport)
Srila Rupa Gosvami taught yukta-vairagya,the principle of using even material things in Krishna’s service. He explains in Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu that yukta-vairagya is superior to its opposite, phalgu-vairagya, or artificial renunciation.
The Sanskrita word, phalgu, is also used to describe an underground river. What appears to be only a dry riverbed sometimes disguises that under the earth a river continues to flow. This is called phalgu. Srila Rupa Gosvami compares renunciation that neglects to use everything in Krishna’s service to such a river. Although the artificial renunciant appears to be detached from material activities and worldly things, internally a strong desire for these things still flows. That is why this form of renunciation is considered incomplete.
By practicing yukta-vairagya, we accept the body as material but not as the ultimate source of corruption. We concentrate on the soul, but we also take care of the body. After all, the body is a useful vehicle for carrying us from one Krishna conscious activity to another. Yukta-vairagya, or renunciation in Krishna consciousness, entails satisfying the needs of the senses simply and offering everything to Krishna. In this lies real happiness.
I am now copying a collection of purports taken out by HG Srimati Mataji in one of her books, to get a taste of mood of our param Guru Srila Prabhupada and Lord Himself, when He came as Caitanya Mahaprabhu, on the topic on renunciation for householders.
As for detachment from children, wife and home, it is not meant that one should have no feeling for these. They are natural objects of affection. But when they are not favorable to spiritual progress, then one should not be attached to them. The best process for making the home pleasant is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. If one is in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he can make his home very happy, because this process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is very easy. One need only chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare, accept the remnants of foodstuffs offered to Kṛṣṇa, have some discussion on books like Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and engage oneself in Deity worship. These four things will make one happy. One should train the members of his family in this way. The family members can sit down morning and evening and chant together Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. If one can mold his family life in this way to develop Kṛṣṇa consciousness, following these four principles, then there is no need to change from family life to renounced life. ( BG 13.8-12p)
The brāhmaṇa begged Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu, “My dear Lord, kindly show me favor and let me go with You. I can no longer tolerate the waves of misery caused by materialistic life.”
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu replied, “Don’t speak like that again. Better to remain at home and chant the holy name of Kṛṣṇa always. (CC Madhya 7.126 -27)
It is not advisable in this Age of Kali to leave one’s family suddenly, for people are not trained as proper brahmacārīs and gṛhasthas. Therefore Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu advised the brāhmaṇa not to be too eager to give up family life. It would be better to remain with his family and try to become purified by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra regularly under the direction of a spiritual master. This is the instruction of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. If this principle is followed by everyone, there is no need to accept sannyāsa. In the next verse Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu advises everyone to become an ideal householder by offenselessly chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra and teaching the same principle to everyone he meets. (CC Madya 7.127 p)
“Instruct everyone to follow the orders of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa as they are given in the Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. In this way become a spiritual master and try to liberate everyone in this land.”
This is the sublime mission of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Many people come and inquire whether they have to give up family life to join the Society, but that is not our mission. One can remain comfortably in his residence. We simply request everyone to chant the mahā-mantra: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. If one is a little literate and can read Bhagavad-gītā As It Is and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, that is so much the better. (cc Madhya 7.128+p)
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu further advised the brāhmaṇa Kūrma, “If you follow this instruction, your materialistic life at home will not obstruct your spiritual advancement. Indeed, if you follow these regulative principles, we will again meet here, or, rather, you will never lose My company.”
This is an opportunity for everyone. If one simply follows the instructions of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, under the guidance of His representative, and chants the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, teaching everyone as far as possible the same principle, the contamination of the materialistic way of life will not even touch him. It does not matter whether one lives in a holy place like Vṛndāvana, Navadvīpa or Jagannātha Purī or in the midst of European cities, where the materialistic way of life is very prominent. If a devotee follows the instructions of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, he lives in the company of the Lord. Wherever he lives, he converts that place into Vṛndāvana and Navadvīpa. This means that materialism cannot touch him. This is the secret of success for one advancing in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. ( cc Madhya 7.129+P)
So we learnt that the as householders we should
Focus more on devotional service rather than on renunciation. ( more focus on positive, less on negative)
Real renunciation means renunciation from material sense gratification.
We should try to use everything we have (wealth, family, etc.) in the service of Lord.
Finally, by sincerely following the process given by Mahaprabhu, and the instructions of our acharayas, we must pray daily for their mercy, aspire and then take practical steps to make our present life successful by trying our best to finish all our ‘business’ in this very lifetime only, family life is not an impediment.