Since last few
months I have come across devotees who have lost their chanting beads. If this
in itself was not bad enough, then what was even more painful for them was that
in all the cases, save one, their spiritual master declined to chant again on
new chanting beads.
For the devotees the most precious and dear most treasure are their chanting beads- on which their spiritual master has chanted and which they had been given at the time of their initiation ceremony. If the chanting beads are misplaced or forgotten (either of which is very rare) it’s like a calamity! For devotees it is an unbearable wait till their chanting beads are found.
Past week I came
across a wonderful pastime of Srila Prabhupada which was an eye opener for me.
Along with the same I am also sharing some sweet, and instructive, pastimes
devotees had with Srila Prabhupada over their misplaced beads and bead bags.
Over the past few days Prabhupada has given many small but significant instructions on a variety of issues. For example, a devotee who lost his original beads gave me a new set for Prabhupada to sanctify by chanting on them. Prabhupada agreed, but mentioned that this was not really necessary because it is the chanting of the devotee that is sanctified at initiation, not the beads.
(Transcendental Diary by Hari Sauri Dasa, vol. 1, chapter 2 )
Best to cultivate a heart connection
After leaving San Moritz we spent one day in an exclusive hotel overlooking the Rhine River in Zurich. Srila Prabhupada had a room and his entourage stayed together in the room next door. They were not adjoining rooms, however. When it was time for his massage, I had to go into his room to change my clothes to avoid walking in the hallway in my gumcha. One day when I finished giving him a massage, I inadvertently left my bead bag in his room.
They were not the japa beads Srila Prabhupada had chanted on at my initiation two years earlier. Unfortunately, I lost them in New Vrindaban. I considered asking Srila Prabhupada to chant on another set of beads for me but, I didn’t want to admit how careless I had been. My bead bag was prasadam given to me by His Divine Grace. When I returned to Srila Prabhupada’s room, I noticed, to my delight, his hand in my bead bag. For the next half hour, I joyfully watched as he chanted on my beads. Again Srila Prabhupada fulfilled my desire without me asking. I waited until he put my bead bag down and took my newly sanctified beads to our quarters. Elated, I bragged to the others how a miracle had just taken place.
(What Is The Difficulty by Sruta Kirti dasa, chapter 63)
But don’t be neglectful
“All these initiation beads should be kept very carefully and protected. It is not a question of changing beads, but this carelessness, of losing beads, is not very good. You are very intelligent boy, so you should be careful and instruct others also. So keep your beads in a bag and keep the bag around your neck. Then you won’t lose.”
(letter to Hrdayananda, 6th July, 1971)
Show respect by keeping it clean
Bhakti Vikasa Swami: Srila Prabhupada was sitting on his vyasasana that was not exactly a vyasasana but it was a special raised seat. To Srila Prabhupada’s right and a little in front of him was a senior devotee who had his japa beads around his neck and he was chanting on them. When Srila Prabhupada noticed that he asked him, “Where is your bead bag?” This devotee said, “It’s being washed, Srila Prabhupada”, and then Prabhupada turned to Harikesh Maharaj and asked, “Some bead bags have been given?” Harikesh said, “Yes, Prabhupada.” Prabhupada said, “Bring one and give it to him.” Harikesh brought the bead bag and then Prabhupada told the devotee who had been chanting, “Always keep your beads in a bead bag.” He said, “You should have two bead bags. When one is being washed use the other one.”
(Srila Prabhupada – Remembrances, chapter 51)
Balai: In Boston in 1968 I was in Srila Prabhupada’s quarters with Himavati and Hamsadutta and others. Himavati had just made Srila Prabhupada a nice bead bag and gave it to him. Her husband Hamsadutta had his beads around his neck because he had just washed his bead bag and it was drying. Srila Prabhupada offered Hamsadutta this new bead bag and Hamsadutta said, “No, Srila Prabhupada, that’s yours”. Srila Prabhupada said, “What’s mine is yours, what’s yours is mine. Everything belongs to Krishna.”
(Srila Prabhupada – Remembrances, chapter 48)
This is our process
So our…, this is the process. We have got this bead bag, and within this bag there is bead, and we chant each… We capture each bead and chant,
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna , Hare Hare Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
One bead equals sixteen times. So the whole bead chain there is hundred and eight, so one round means about seventeen hundred. In this way, our disciples are advised to chant at least sixteen rounds. This is our daily duty. It takes about two hours, and after that we are engaged in so many other businesses. Somebody is typing or printing books, somebody is going to sell books, somebody is collecting subscription, somebody is cooking for the temple Deity, Radha-Krishna. So in this way our inmates, or our members, are always engaged. Kirtaniya sada hari.
Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam are two most important scriptures for Kali Yuga, they have specifically manifested for us kali yugians. If we sincerely try to serve these two transcendental scriptures then we can unlock many hidden gems. Let us take a look at the famous verse from Bhagavad gita
One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.
As we read the above verse it looks very simplistic, as if Krishna speaking these words just to encourage everyone to accept His shelter by holding a big carrot in front of us. Rather, coming out from the lotus like mouth of Sri Krishna, every single verse of Bhagavad Gita is Absolute and so is its conclusion and promise. Srila Prabhupada further declares in his purport –
He who accepts this truth on the strength of the authority of the Vedas and of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and who does not waste time in philosophical speculations attains the highest perfectional stage of liberation. Simply by accepting this truth on faith, one can, without a doubt, attain liberation.
The above statements may baffle us, especially devotees. We already know that Krishna is the Supreme personality of Godhead, we know about Krishna’s transcendental appearance and activities but liberation seems a bit far. But then how much do we even really know Vrajendra Nandan Krishna, Krishna of Vrindavan.
Both the verse and its purport are ‘packed’ and we can unpack them in multiple ways. Today, however let us unpack it from the angle of Krishna’s birth, how and where exactly did Vrajendra Nandan Krishna appeared.
Scriptures say that Svayam Bhagavan Sri Vrajendra Nandan Krishna does not take even one step out of Vrindavan. Many of us may have read the pastime in Srimad Bhagavatam when Akrura came to invite Krishna and Balaram to Mathura, the two brothers he finally took with him to Mathura were different personalities than what he assumed accompanied him.
Vrajendra Nandan Krishna
Nanda Maharaj returned to Vrindavan without Krishna and Balaram. He was accompanied only by the cowherd boys and men. It was certainly a very pathetic scene for the gopis, Mother Yashoda, Srimati Radharani and all the other residents of Vrindavan. Many devotees have tried to make adjustments to Krishna’s being away from Vrindavan because, according to expert opinion, Krishna, the original Supreme Personality of Godhead, never goes even a step out of Vrindavan. He always remains there. The explanation of expert devotees is that Krishna was actually not absent from Vrindavan; He came back with Nanda Maharaj as promised.
When Krishna was starting for Mathura on the chariot driven by Akrura and the gopis were blocking the way, Krishna assured them that He was coming back just after finishing His business in Mathura. He told them not to be overwhelmed and in this way pacified them. But when He failed to come back with Nanda Maharaj, it appeared that He either cheated them or could not keep His promise.
Expert devotees, however, have decided that Krishnawas neither a cheater nor a breaker of promises. Krishna, in His original identity, returned with Nanda Maharaj and stayed with the gopis and Mother Yashoda in His bhäva expansion. Krishna and Balaram remained in Mathura not in Their original forms but in Their expansions as Vasudeva and Sakarshana. The real Krishna and Balaram were in Vrindavan in Their bhäva manifestation, whereas in Mathura They appeared in the prabhava and vaibhava expansions. This is the expert opinion of advanced devotees of Krishna. Externally, however, They were absent from Vrindavan.
(Krishna Book, chapter 46)
If Vrajendra Nandan Krishna never takes steps out of Vrindavan then how did He take birth in Mathura?
Let us try solve this mystery by seeing it from the eyes of our acharya and the scriptures.
Thereafter, exactly when Vasudeva, being inspired by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, was about to take the newborn child from the delivery room, Yoga-māyā, the Lord’s spiritual energy, took birth as the daughter of the wife of Mahārāja Nanda.
Srila Vishvanath Chakravarty Thakura discusses that Krishna appeared simultaneously as the son of Devaki and as the son of Yashoda, along with the spiritual energy Yoga-māyā. As the son of Devaki, He first appeared as Vishnu, and because Vasudeva was not in the position of pure affection for Krishna, Vasudeva worshiped his son as Lord Vishnu. Yashoda, however, pleased her son Krishna without understanding His Godhood. This is the difference between Krishna as the son of Yashoda and as the son of Devaki. This is explained by Vishvanath Chakravarty on the authority of Hari-vaṁśa.
What Srila Prabhupada is disclosing above is simply astonishing! Prabhupada is divulging to us that Krishna appeared simultaneously in two places- as the son of Devaki and as son of mother Yashoda, in Vrindavan.
Let us read the commentary of Srila Vishvanath Chakravarty Thakura from which Srila Prabhupada quoted the above.
In the Hari Vamsa is says that that in the eighth of her pregnancy Devaki and Yashoda gave birth at the same time to their Children. But here in Bhagavatam it is stated that that Yashoda gave birth after Devaki. How to correlate the two contradictory statements? Exactly when Devaki gave birth to Krishna, Yashoda also gave birth to Krishna. After that, as described in this verse, Yashoda birth to Yagamaya. Yashoda gave birth to two children at different times. This is confirmed in SB 10.4.9, for when Yogamaya falls from the hands of Kamsa, she is called younger sister of Krishna. But when Krishna was born to Yashoda it is not stated that he had four hands. It is understood that He was born from Yashoda with two hands.
(Srila Vishvanath Chakravarti Thakura purport to SB 10.3.47)
Srila Vishvanath Chakravarty Thakurais revealing to us that mother Yashoda gave birth to two kids. A son, Krishna, was born at the very same time when Lord Vishnu appeared as the son of Devaki. (Hence Krishna’s birth is rightly celebrated as Janamashtami everywhere and not on Nandotsava as some devotees tend to suggest.) Second child, as we know, was Yogamaya, Krishna’s ‘younger’ sister.
How the umbilical cord could still be intact if kids were exchanged in the night?
Srimad Bhagavatam itself gives us a hint about this secret while describing how Nanda Maharaj celebrated Krishna’s ‘Jata-Karma’ ceremony, cutting of the umbilical cord connecting the child and placenta.
Sukhdeva Gosvami said: Nanda Maharaj was naturally very magnanimous, and when Lord Sri Krishna appeared as his son, he was overwhelmed by jubilation. Therefore, after bathing and purifying himself and dressing himself properly, he invited brahmanas who knew how to recite Vedic mantras. After having these qualified brahmanas recite auspicious Vedic hymns, he arranged to have the Vedic birth ceremony celebrated for his newborn child according to the rules and regulations, and he also arranged for worship of the demigods and forefathers.
Srila Prabhupada writes in the purport of the above verse :
The jāta-karma ceremony can take place when the umbilical cord, connecting the child and the placenta, is cut. However, since Krishna was brought by Vasudeva to the house of Nanda Maharaj, where was the chance for this to happen? In this regard, Vishvanath Chakravarty Thakura desires to prove with evidence from many shastra that Krishna actually took birth as the son of Yashoda before the birth of Yoga-maya, who is therefore described as the Lord’s younger sister.
Srila Rupa Gosvami also reveals this secret!
preshthanandair vraje tais tair atmano ‘pi vimohanaih
lilollasair vilasati shri-lila-purushottamah
Because He enjoys many happy pastimes, delighting His dear associates, and even enchanting Himself, Lord Krishna is called “lila-purushottama” (the most playful person).
asamordhvena bhagavan vatsalyena vrajesayoh
sutatvenaiva sa tayor atmanam vetti sarvada
Because the parental love of Vraja’s king and queen has no equal or superior, Lord Krishna eternally thinks Himself their son.
kecid bhagavatah prahur evam atra puratanah
vyuhah pradurbhaved adyo griheshv anakadundubheh
goshthe tu mayaya sardham shri-lila-purushottamah
In ancient times some devotees have said that the Lord appeared in His Vasudeva feature in the home of Maharaja Vasudeva, and at the same time He appeared, along with Yogamaya, in His original form as Sri Krishna in the village of Vraja.
gatva yadu-varo goshtham tatra suti-griham visan
kanyam eva param vikshya tam adayavrajat puram
pravisad vasudevas tu shri-lila-purushottamam
When Maharaja Vasudeva arrived in Vraja, he entered the maternity room, saw (Yashoda’s, daughter and, taking her with him, returned to Mathura. The Vasudeva expansion (Maharaja Vasudeva carried with him, then merged in the body of Sri Krishna.
etac cati-rahasyatvan noktam tatra katha-krame
kintu kvacit prasangena sucyate shri-sukadibhih
Because this pastime is very confidential, it was not related in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Nevertheless, Sukadeva Gosvami and other great devotees have indirectly described it in some of their writings.
Srila Rupa Gosvami then quotes below four verses from Srimad Bhagavatam which specifically describe Krishna as son of Nanda Maharaj.
“Nanda Maharaj was naturally very magnanimous, and when Lord Sri Krishna appeared as his son, he was overwhelmed by jubilation.”
“Nanda Maharaj was very liberal and simple. He immediately took his son Krishna on his lap as if Krishna had returned from death.”
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, the son of Mother Yashoda, is accessible to devotees engaged in spontaneous loving service, but He is not as easily accessible to mental speculators, to those striving for self-realization by severe austerities and penances, or to those who consider the body the same as the self.”
“Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the son of Maharaj Nanda, who is standing before me with conchshell earrings and peacock feather on His head. His face is beautiful, He is wearing a helmet, garlanded with forest flowers, and He stands with a morsel of food in His hand. He is decorated with cane, flute, and a bugle made of buffalo horn. He stands before me with small lotus feet.”
tatha shri-yamala-vacanam samudaharanti
“krishno ‘nyo yadu-sambhuto yah purnah so ‘sty atah parah
vrindavanam parityajya sa kvacin naiva gacchati
The different between Krishna’s appearance in Vrindavan and His appearance in Mathura and Dvaraka is described in, Yamala Tantra:
“The Krishna known as Yadukumara is Vasudeva Krishna. He is different from the Krishna who is the son of Nanda Maharaj. Yadukumara Krishna manifests His pastimes in the cities of Mathura and Dvaraka, but Krishna the son of Nanda Maharaj never at any time leaves Vrindavan.
The above verse has also been quoted in Caitanya Caritamrta, it was spoken by Caitanya Mahaprabhu to … who else…. Srila Rupa Gosvami!
Caution- We should not misunderstand that there are multiple Krishnas. This verse is showing that Vrindavan Krishna, Vrajendra Nandan Krishna, is the original personality of Godhead and rest all are His various plenary expansions or incarnations. Vrajendra Nandan Krishna is the original source.
pūrṇa bhagavān kṛṣṇa vrajendra-kumāra goloke vrajera saha nitya vihāra
Lord Krishna, the son of the King of Vraja, is the Supreme Lord. He eternally enjoys transcendental pastimes in His eternal abode, Goloka, which includes Vrajadhama.
(CC Adi 3.5)
I hope we got a little taste of sweet undercurrents flowing via seemingly straight verses of Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. If we simply serve these two scriptures by studying them regularly, then, by the mercy and potency of Srila Prabhupada, many intricate aspects of Absolute Truth, Sri Vrajendra Nandan Krishna, can manifest in our heart.
He who accepts this truth on the strength of the authority of the Vedas and of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and who does not waste time in philosophical speculations attains the highest perfectional stage of liberation. Simply by accepting this truth on faith, one can, without a doubt, attain liberation. The Vedic version tat tvam asi is actually applied in this case. Anyone who understands Lord Krishna to be the Supreme, or who says unto the Lord, “You are the same Supreme Brahman, the Personality of Godhead,” is certainly liberated instantly, and consequently his entrance into the transcendental association of the Lord is guaranteed.
aradhyo bhagavan vrajesa-tanayas tad-dhama vrndavanam ramya kacid upasana vraja-vadhu-vargena va kalpita srimad bhagavatam pramanam amalam prema pum-artho mahan sri-caitanya mahaprabhor matam idam tatradarah na parah
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna, the son of Nanda Maharaj, is worshiped along with His transcendental abode Vrindavan. The most pleasing form of worship for the Lord is that which was performed by the gopis of Vrindavan. Srimad Bhagavatam is the spotless authority on everything and pure love of Godhead is the ultimate goal of life for all men. These statements, for which we have the highest regard, are the opinion of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
(Caitanya-matta-manjusa by Srila Viswanatha Cakravarti Thakura)
Wish you all a very Happy Janmashtami. Here is a short kirtan clip to sing and cry out to the lotus feet of Vrajendra Nandan Krishna and welcome the arrival of Lord of our heart.
All glories to the lotus feet of Vrajendra Nandan Krishna
“Why God has made somebody so opulent and why somebody so poor?” This is the general question we hear. Does God discriminates between different souls? Srimad Bhagavatam clears the doubt
naiñä parävara-matir bhavato nanu syät
jantor yathätmä-suhådo jagatas tathäpi
saàsevayä surataror iva te prasädaù
sevänurüpam udayo na parävaratvam
“Like the ordinary living entity, my Lord, You have no such discrimination, thinking like ‘He is my friend; he is my enemy, he is favorable, he is unfavorable.’ Such conception of low grade and high grade You have not got. But according to one’s gradation of service, You offer them benediction exactly like the desire tree offers fruits according to the desire of the person. The desire tree has no distinction of low-grade and high-grade position of the beggar.”
God is Absolute
Parävaratvam. Para means “better,” and apara means “inferior.” Superior and inferior. There are two things, superior and inferior, everywhere, but in the eyes of God, Krishna, there is no such thing superior or inferior. He’s superior, and everything is superior. This should be understood. There is no such discrimination that “Here is a devotee, so he’s superior, and here is a non-devotee, he’s inferior.” That is not God’s discrimination; that is your discrimination.
How is that?
If you like to remain as inferior, you can remain. God has given you independence. And if you like to become superior, you can become superior. It is not God’s discrimination; it is your discrimination. Mind this verse very carefully. Krishna says that “You fully become dependent upon Me, and I shall give you full protection.” This is superiority. As soon as I fully surrender to the supreme superior, Krishna, then my position is immediately superior. But if I don’t do that, then I remain inferior.
There is a verse in the Bhagava gita, ye yathä mäà prapadyante täàs tathaiva bhajämy aham (Bg 4.11- As all surrender unto Me, I reward them accordingly.) “It is up to you to… If you surrender cent per cent, then I am also fully cent per cent for you.” But if you have got discrimination—”Certain percentage for my wife, certain percentage for my children, certain percentage for my country, certain percent…,” so on, so on, so on, so on, ultimately, “Zero for God”—then God is also zero. It is up to you. But if you take God—”You are my everything”—then He is also for you, everything. It is up to you. Parävaratvam. He does not discriminate; you discriminate.
Can we understand this via an example?
There are many persons, they come to Vrindavan, and whatever they have earned throughout the whole life, so they give everything to the wife and children and make contract that “I am going to Vrindavan. You send me at least two hundred rupees for my expenditure.” “And what about two lakhs and crores?” “Oh, that is yours. The two lakhs and crores, what I have earned, that is for you, my dear children, my dear wife, and you give me two hundred for God. So I am going to Vrindavan.” So Krishna is very intelligent: “All right, I am also for you two hundred.” Ye yathä mäm… This is the meaning, real meaning.
Srila Prabhupada calls it…
It is called…Responsive cooperation. “If you have surrendered to Me cent per cent, then I respond cent per cent. If you have surrendered twenty-five percent, then I respond twenty-five percent.” This is the position.
Mahajans know it!
Prahlada Maharaj knows it, that naiñä parävara-matir bhavato: “You have no such thing as discriminating.”
I am very fallen but why can’t God show more compassion?
So one may say that “I may… I am foolish. I may not surrender to Krishna cent per cent, but why He is not kind cent per cent?” So that is Krishna’s discrimination. Why He should? He can. He can become cent per cent, but He does not do so. That means Krishna is senscient; He is not impersonal. Don’t think that whatever you are doing, Krishna cannot see. In the Deity room, if you think that “This Deity is made of brass. Whatever nonsense I can do, He does not see,” no, He can see everything. Aïgäni yasya sakalendriya-våttimanti paçyanti pänti kalayanti [Bs. 5.32]. He sees. You rascal, you do not know how Krishna sees. You think that “He has these brass-made eyes. He cannot see. I can do all nonsense with…” No. That is not. He can see everything. Paçyanti pänti. Aïgäni yasya sakalendriya-våttimanti. He can see with His lotus feet. He can see with His hand. We can see simply with our eyes, but Krishna can see with all the… Aïgäni yasya sakalendriya-våttimanti. You have seen: Krishna is playing the flute. The fingers are open. A finger touching: “What you are doing?” We do not know the fingers can also see. But this is absolute. Krishna can use His any energy, any power, any part of the body, for anything else. This is Krishna. Aïgäni yasya sakalendriya-våttimanti.So Krishna can see within our mind how much we are surrendered and how much we are after material enjoyment.
So what should we do?
Therefore the best thing is we have to make zero. Anyäbhiläñitä-çünyam Çünyam means zero. Unless we make everything zero, simply Krishna fact… Krishna is the only fact, and everything zero.
Without Krishna, everything zero. Just like one is one, and zero is zero, but when zero is added with one, it becomes ten immediately—ten times. Similarly, this material world is zero, and Krishna is one. If you want to enjoy the material world by your own effort, it will always prove zero. You’ll never be satisfied. But you add this zero by the side of Krishna, you enjoy like anything, ten times. Ten times. With zero it is zero, but when it is added with Krishna, it is ten times. Just see practically. Our Krishna consciousness movement was started with forty rupees. Now that forty rupees or something added with Krishna, it has become forty crores. You see practically. When I started for your country, I came to Mayapur. I offered my obeisances to my spiritual master, then I went. At that time I had no money even to purchase the ticket. And after that, I have come with forty crores. This is the secret: ye yathä mäà prapadyante
And the result will be…
If you fully surrender to Krishna, then Krishna is there. You have to learn how to take from Krishna. Of course, a devotee is never desirous to take anything from Krishna. He wants to give only. This is pure devotee. A pure devotee wants, “Krishna, whatever little I have got, You take it, everything.” And Krishna says, “Yes, because you have given your everything, even up to your life, I’ll also give you My everything to you.” This is Krishna.
God is like a wish fulfilling tree!
Krishna has no discrimination, but it is up to us to know how to take from Krishna. Just like the example is given here that saàsevayä surataror iva. Surataror iva. Surataroù means the desire tree. It is described in the Brahma-saàhitä, desire tree. Cintämaëi-prakara-sadmasu kalpa-våkña [Bs. 5.29]. That is kalpa vriksha….. kalpa vriksha there is in the higher planetary system, and especially in the Vaikuntha world. There are trees are kalpa vriksha, because everything is spiritual; nothing is dead. Here you can take some fruits or flower from a particular tree, but there, if you like, you ask kachoré and samosä from a tree—you get. But we have no idea what is surataroù, surataroù, what is kalpa Vriksha. Whatever you desire, you’ll get it. Surabhéh, surabhér abhipäl… The cows are surabhi. Here you have got limitation; you can milk morning and evening to a certain extent. But there the cows are surabhi. Surabhi means you can milk as many times as you like, and as much milk you want, you can take it. But these things are there, but we have no information. We are struggling here. Manaù-ñañöhänéndriyäëi prakåti-sthäni karñati [Bg. 15.7]. Because we are fools and rascals, we are trying to make some adjustment here. That is not possible.
It is duùkhälayam açäçvatam. This is mäyä. We are trying to be happy in this material… It will never be possible. But these fools and rascals, they do not know. They are making big, big plans how to become happy, how to become, in our country, in our home, in our society, in our family, and so on, so on, so on. This means we are simply becoming entangled. Ato gåha-kñetra-sutäpta-vittair janasya moho ‘yam [SB 5.5.8]. Ahaà moha, illusion. It will never be possible. Therefore, the conclusion is we should fully surrender cent per cent to Krishna, and then we become happy. Saàsevayä surataror iva te prasädaù.
The example is: just like the desire tree, kalpa Vriksha. It can fulfill any desire, any desire. We have got so many desires. Krishna can fulfill all the desires. Please surrender to Krishna. This is the process.
Pure devotion means first of all you learn not to order Krishna, “Krishna, give me this, give me that, give me that.” Don’t bother Krishna. That is the beginning of spiritual life. Anyäbhiläñitä-çünyam. You prepare to carry out every order of Krishna. Then it is spiritual life. Don’t make Krishna your order-supplier. You become order-supplier of Krishna.
If you learn how to give service to Krishna cent per cent, then you get everything, everything, without asking. Krishna knows everything, what is required for you. Just like a father knows what is the necessity of the child. The child never begs, “Father, give me this, give me that.” No. He’s simply dependent on parents. The parent knows. Similarly, if we become cent per cent dependent and serve Him faithfully under His order or His representative’s order, then the success is sure.
( Srila Prabhupada lecture, March 5 , 1976, Mayapur)
Now the amazing thing is that all of the above is simply transcript of a lecture given by Srila Prabhupada, I simply copied it ‘as it is’, the language, even the sequence of the paragraphs. I have only inserted questions based on each para! It is simply an amazing lecture, full of gems. We can hear the original audio of this lecture here. Transcript of the complete lecture is here.
If we simply read the transcript carefully and repeatedly or hear the audio with sincerity and attention then we can get many keys to make a very rapid progress in Krishna consciousness and surrender to Krishna.
Few years back, I was preparing for a class by hearing a lecture given by HG Rukmini Krishna Prabhuji, from ISKCON Punjabi Bagh, repeatedly. Somehow, by Prabhuji’s mercy and potency, few lines from that lecture touched my heart and remain ingrained forever. Here are those lines-
‘Everyone in ISKCON should try to build a relationship with Srila Prabhupada. Prabhupada is preeminent shiksha guru of everyone in ISKCON and it will be very beneficial for our spiritual life if we build a personal relationship with Srila Prabhupada. And it is possible for everyone in ISKCON to build a personal relationship with him, not just his immediate disciples. We simply need to make efforts in that direction and we will definitely receive his reciprocation ”.
We are well aware that position of an acharya is very unique. An acharya not only teaches us but he also practices everything himself. Hence an acharya teaches us with his own practical example, which is a far easier and practical way to grasp for the conditioned souls.
Let us now see how Srila Prabhupada ‘practiced’ his own relationship with his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur, another exalted acharya in our line, and learn from him how we can we develop a permanent relationship with the lotus feet of our acharya- Srila Prabhupada.
An Acharya’s birth is not ordinary
So these äcäryas, they come and they go, that is not like ordinary birth and death. It is called prakaöa, aprakaöa; ävirbhäva, tirobhäva. So even ordinarily nobody takes birth and nobody dies, na jäyate na mréyate vä kadäcit [Bg. 2.20], so what to speak of the äcäryas or Bhagavän.
(Srila Prabhupada lecture — December 22, 1975, Bombay)
Who are these exalted Acharayas?
Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu has given considerable discussion about nitya-siddha and sädhana-siddha devotees. Nitya-siddha devotees come from Vaikuëöha to this material world to teach, by their personal example, how to become a devotee. The living entities in this material world can take lessons from such nitya-siddha devotees and thus become inclined to return home, back to Godhead. A nitya-siddha devotee comes from Vaikuëöha upon the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and shows by his example how to become a pure devotee (anyäbhiläñitä-çünyam [Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu 1.1.11]). In spite of coming to this material world, the nitya-siddha devotee is never attracted by the allurements of material enjoyment.
….When the Lord Himself appears as an incarnation within this material world, He is not allured by the material atmosphere, and He has nothing to do with material activity, yet by His example He teaches the common man how to become a devotee. Similarly, a devotee who comes here in accordance with the order of the Supreme Lord shows by his personal behavior how to become a pure devotee. A pure devotee, therefore, is a practical example for all living entities, including Lord Brahmä.
Without their practical guidance..
The bona fide spiritual master, by his personal activities, teaches the disciple the principles of devotional service. Without personal service, one would go on speculating like the impersonalists and dry speculators life after life and would be unable to reach the final conclusion.
He is not dead and gone!
So now, by the grace of Krishna and Caitanya Mahaprabhu and in the presence of my Guru Maharaja, you are so nice boys and girls. So in front of Caitanya Mahaprabhu you are chanting Hare Krishna mantra, and you are taking part in it very seriously. So my Guru Maharaja will be very, very much pleased upon you and bless you with all benefits. [break]
So he wanted this, and he is not… It is not that he is dead and gone. That is not spiritual understanding. Even ordinary living being, he does not die. Na hanyate hanyamäne çarére [Bg. 2.20]. And what to speak of such exalted, authorized personality like Bhaktisiddhanta. He is seeing. I never feel that I am alone. Of course, when I came to your country without any friend, without any means… Practically, just like a vagabond I came. But I had full faith that “My Guru Mahäräja is with me.” I never lost this faith. And that is fact. There are two words, väëé and vapuù. Väné means words, and vapuù means this physical body. So väëé is more important than the vapuù. Vapuù will be finished. This is material body. It will be finished. That is the nature. But if we keep to the väëé, to the words of spiritual master, then we remain very fixed up. It doesn’t matter.
(Srila Prabhupada lecture – Atlanta, March 2, 1975)
I won’t die!
Kértanänanda: Why can’t you give us your old age?
Prabhupada: When I see that things are going on nicely, I am happy. What is this with this body? Body is body. We are not body.
Kértanänanda: Wasn’t it Purudäsa that gave his father his youth?
Rämeçvara: Yayäti. King Yayäti traded his old age.
Kértanänanda: With his son. You can do that.
Prabhupada: [laughs] Who did?
Rämeçvara: King Yayäti.
Prabhupada: Ah. Yayäti. No, why? You are my body. So you live on. There is no difference. Just like I am working, so my Guru Mahäräja is there, Bhaktisiddhanta Goswami. Physically he may not be, but in every action he is there. I think actually I have written that.
Tamäla Kåñëa: Yeah, it’s in the Bhägavatam, that “He who lives with him, he lives eternally. He who remembers his words lives eternally.”
Prabhupada: So I am not going to die. Kértir yasya sa jévati: “One who has done something substantial, he lives forever.” He doesn’t die. Even in our practical life… Of course, this is material, karma-phala. One has to accept another body according to his karma. But for devotee there is no such thing. He always accepts a body for serving Krishna. So there is no karma-phala
(Conversation Pieces- May 27, 1977, Vrindavana)
Mercy is forever available to everyone, it is up to us to take advantage of it.
Prabhupada: You have to associate with both. Guru-kåñëa-kåpäya päya bhakti-latä-béja [Cc. Madhya 19.151]. Both guru’s kåpä and Kåñëa’s kåpä, they must be joined. Then you will get.
Jayädvaita: We’re very eager to get that guru-kåpä.
Jayädvaita: We are. All of us.
Prabhupada: Yes. Yasya prasädäd bhagavat-prasädaù. If you get guru’s kåpä, then automatically you get Krishna.
Näräyaëa: Guru-kåpä only comes by pleasing the spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada?
Prabhupada: Otherwise how?
Näräyaëa: Excuse me?
Prabhupada: Otherwise how it can come?
Näräyaëa: So those disciples who don’t have opportunity to see you or speak with you…
Prabhupada: That he was speaking, väëé and vapuù. Even if you don’t see his body, you take his word, väëé.
Näräyaëa: But how do they know they’re pleasing you, Srila Prabhupada?
Prabhupada: If you actually follow the words of guru, that means he is pleased. And if you do not follow, how he can be pleased?
Sudämä: Not only that,but your mercy is spread everywhere, and if we take advantage, you told us once, then we will feel the result.
Jayädvaita: And if we have faith in what the guru says, then automatically we’ll do that.
Prabhupada: Yes. My Guru Maharaja passed in 1936, and I started this movement in 1965, thirty years after. Then? I am getting the mercy of guru. This is väëé. Even the guru is not physically present, if you follow the väëé, then you are getting help.
Sudämä: So there’s no question of ever separation as long as the disciple follows the instruction of guru.
Prabhupada: No. Cakhu-dän dilo jei... What is that, next one?
Prabhupada: Janme janme prabhu sei. So where there is separation?Who has opened your eyes, he is birth after birth your prabhu.
(Morning Walk—July 21, 1975, San Francisco)
A peek into the heart of Srila Prabhupada
Let us now read a pastime from the book ‘Miracle on Second Avenue’, an amazing account of the early days of ISKCON by of HH Mukunda Goswami. It was mercy of HH Gunagrahi Maharaj, who recommended this book to me and having read it, I would request everyone to read it, specially those who would like to build a stronger relationship with Srila Prabhupada by reading about him, his early days in west and how he preached to the westerners and started this movement.
This particular pastime gives us a peek into the very heart of Srila Prabhupada, his spiritual feelings and firm faith in his spiritual master. The background of the below pastime is that Srila Prabhupada has suffered a massive heart attack in New York. Doctors had told devotees that he may not survive this attack but by Krishna’s mercy, and devotees prayers, ‘he made it through’. Prabhupada was still recovering when he decided to visit San Francisco as local devotees there were preparing for the first ever Rathayatra. Devotees had taken a beach front house on rent for Srila Prabhupada, where it was peaceful and quite for him to to rest and recover.
While reading the below pastime please do keep in my mind that these are very early days of ISKCON, its June 1967, devotees are new to Krishna consciousness, they are young and innocent, but their hearts are sold out to Srila Prabhupada. Here we go, as HH Mukunda maharaja recalls this particular pastime with his spiritual master –
On his second day there, I knocked on his door and sat down on the floor in front of the bed he was sitting on.
“How are you feeling, Swami?” I asked.
He continued to chant softly, gazing at the somewhat primitive painting of Radha and Krishna on the wall to his right painted by a devotee artist. I thought maybe he hadn’t heard me, but after a few minutes he put down his beads and stood up.
“What is this body?” he said, making a gesture with his palms open and his arms outstretched. He looked almost disgusted to inhabit an ephemeral body and incredulous that I would be concerned to inquire about the state of something so fleeting. I realized that although I had read about the temporary nature of the body and the eternality of the spirit soul, he was actually living that philosophy.
For him the material world was not as important as the spiritual world, and he didn’t really care about his body coming to an end.
I went back into the kitchen and told Hayagriva and Kirtanananda about what the swami had said and my impression of what he meant.
“He’s not concerned about leaving his body for himself, because he’ll go back to be with Krishna,” Hayagriva said. “But what would happen to the movement if he was to die?”
“What?” My mouth hung open.
“All I’m saying is that he’s going to leave his body some time,” Hayagriva said. “Maybe you should ask him if someone should take over when he dies.”
“Maybe you should ask him,” I said. I thought he was being a bit too pragmatic about such a sensitive issue.
“No, it should be you,” Hayagriva insisted. “You’re the one he talked to about it.”
“Well, actually, no, he didn’t,” I clarified. “I was the one who started thinking about this stuff because of his comment about his body.”
“Whatever the case, we need to know how we should continue our Krishna consciousness education if he’s not here, shouldn’t we? And how we’d keep his movement alive, right?”
I thought for a few seconds. As blunt as Hayagriva was being about the issue, I had to admit that deep down I wanted to know the answers to these questions for myself too.
“OK, I’ll ask him,” I said. “I guess somebody has to ask about it eventually, and I guess it may as well be me.”
I knocked on his door again.
“Yes?” the swami said from within.
“Swami, can I ask you a question?” I asked. “Yes.” He sat down on his bed again.
I took a deep breath.
“When you die, what will happen to the movement?” I asked. “Will you have a successor who will continue your work and look after our spiritual education?”
As I heard myself say the words, I realized it had been a mistake to ask this. I saw suddenly that I had been put forward to ask this delicate question on someone else’s behalf. The swami sat silently, looking out the window at the sand dunes and the mountains. It was high tide and I could hear the waves pounding the beach. Gulls shrieked. I could feel two sets of ears straining from the kitchen to hear his answer.
The swami muttered something quietly.
“I couldn’t hear what you said, Swami,” I said carefully. “Can you repeat it?”
“Actually, it is an insult to the spiritual master,” he said a little louder.
He turned away from the window and looked at me pensively, as if he was hurt by my question.
“I’m sorry, Swami,” I said. I felt like shrinking into the carpet. He closed his eyes. Outside a dog barked. A shallow stream of tears appeared below each of his eyes and flowed over his cheeks.
He slowly wiped them away. “My spiritual master …” he said, and his voice choked to gravel. I was stunned. What had I done?
“My spiritual master,” he said, “he was no ordinary spiritual master.” He paused again, and then whispered falteringly, “He saved me.”
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’ll go now.” I was too overcome myself to say more.
Hayagriva and Kirtanananda looked furtive when I came back into the kitchen. I pushed past them and went and sat out on the porch by myself. The swami’s answer was crystal clear to me. There was no question of replacing the spiritual master. His potency to teach would not end with his death but would continue even in his physical absence. What struck me the most was the way the swami taught me this. He didn’t just tell me with words; he showed me through his spiritual emotion toward his own spiritual master.
“The swami is no ordinary spiritual master,” I thought to myself. “I must learn to love and serve my spiritual master unconditionally with the fidelity and loyalty with which he serves his.”
I brushed a few grains of imaginary sand from my hands and went back into the house to talk to Kirtanananda and Hayagriva about the swami’s instruction to us all.
( Miracle on Second Avenue, by HH Mukunda Goswami, chapter 21)
Thank you very much for your sincere endeavor and faith in your Spiritual Master. The key to success in spiritual life is to always endeavor to please the Spiritual Master, and follow his instructions.One who is determined in this effort will advance very quickly in Krishna consciousness.
So far personal association with the Guru is concerned, I was only with my Guru Maharaja four or five times, but I have never left his association, not even for a moment. Because I am following his instructions, I have never felt any separation. There are some of my Godbrothers here in India who had constant personal association with Guru Maharaja, but who are neglecting his orders. This is just like the bug who is sitting on the lap of the king. He may be very puffed-up by his position, but all he can succeed in doing is biting the king. Personal association is not so important as association through service.
(Letter to Satadhanya—Calcutta, 20 February, 1972)
I hope and humbly pray that it touches your heart as it touched mine, that we all feel inspired to daily, and carefully, read Srila Prabhupada books and start following his instructions.
śraddhāṁ bhāgavate śāstre
’nindām anyatra cāpi hi
satyaṁ śama-damāv api
One should have firm faith that he will achieve all success in life by following those scriptures that describe the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavān. At the same time, one should avoid blaspheming other scriptures. One should rigidly control his mind, speech and bodily activities, always speak the truth, and bring the mind and senses under full control.
Many a times in our enthusiasm to show supremacy of one scripture we may unconsciously end up criticising another vedic scripture. Devotees, especially preachers, should be very careful about making, even an unintentional, offence against any vedic scripture.
In the above verse Srimad Bhagavatam is saying that ‘One should have firm faith that he will achieve all success in life by following those scriptures that describe the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavān’ but in the same verse it is also cautioning us very clearly that “one should avoid blaspheming other scriptures”.
Of course, devotees understand that Srimad Bhagavatam is the amala purana, spotless purana, which best describes the glories of Krishna, without any material tinge whatsoever, but at the same time we should not blaspheme other scriptures. The purport of the above verse gives us a very good understanding as to what should be our consciousness in relation to all the other vedic scriptures.
Śrīla Madhvācārya has quoted the following statement from the Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa: “One should have complete faith in transcendental literature such as Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and other literature that directly glorifies the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One should also have faith in Vaiṣṇava tantras, the original Vedas, and Mahābhārata,which includes Bhagavad-gītā and which is considered the fifth Veda. The Vedic knowledge originally emanated from the breathing of Viṣṇu, and Vedic literature has been compiled in literary form by Śrīla Vyāsadeva, the incarnation of Viṣṇu. Therefore, Lord Viṣṇu should be understood to be the personal speaker of all this Vedic literature.
Some scriptures may seem mundane, be wary of any criticism
“There are other Vedic literatures, called kalā-vidyā, which give instructions in material arts and sciences. Since all such Vedic arts and sciences are ultimately intended to be used to render devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Keśava, saintly persons in the renounced order of life should never blaspheme such apparently mundane literatures; because such literatures are indirectly connected with the Supreme Lord, one may go to hell for blaspheming these secondary literatures.
So what should be our approach?
“Śraddhā indicates a faithful mentality, which can be analyzed in two sections. The first type of faith is a firm conviction that all the statements of the multifarious Vedic literatures are true. In other words, the understanding that Vedic knowledge in general is infallible is called śraddhā, or faith. A second type of faith is the belief that one must personally carry out a particular injunction of Vedic literature in order to achieve his goal in life. A devotee of the Supreme Lord should thus apply the first type of faith to the various kalā-vidyās, or Vedic material arts and sciences, but he should not accept such scriptures as pointing out his personal goal in life. Nor should he carry out any Vedic injunction that is contradictory to the injunctions of Vaiṣṇava scriptures such as the Pañcarātra.
“Thus one should faithfully accept all Vedic literature as directly or indirectly describing the Supreme Personality of Godhead and should not blaspheme any portion of it. Even for Lord Brahmā, as well as for other creatures, down to the insignificant unmoving species such as trees and stones, blasphemy of any Vedic literature causes one to merge into the darkness of ignorance. Thus the suras — the demigods, great sages and devotees of the Lord — should understand that the Pañcarātric literatures, as well as the four Vedas, the original Rāmāyaṇa, the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and other Purāṇas, and the Mahābhārata, are Vedic literatures that establish the supremacy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the unique transcendental position of the Lord’s devotees according to their status of spiritual advancement. Any other vision of Vedic literatures is to be considered an illusion. In all authorized religious scriptures the ultimate goal is to understand that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the controller of everything and everyone, and that the Lord’s devotees are not different from Him, although such devotees are to be understood in terms of their level of spiritual advancement.” Lord Kṛṣṇa has stated in Bhagavad-gītā, vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo/ vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham: “By all the Vedas, I am to be known; indeed, I am the compiler of Vedānta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.”
I hope the above verse and its purport gives us a clear direction as what should be our consciousness while speaking with various scriptures.
‘Other scriptures’ also include non-vedic bonafide scriptures!
We may also include scriptures of other bonafide religions also in the definition of ‘other scriptures’ whom we should not criticise.
When we read Srila Prabhupada’s purports we will notice that he quotes from various scriptures, including Bible. Prabhupada wrote how there are different scriptures for people in different modes of nature but he did not criticise any scripture.
God’s service is dharma. This dharma may be described differently in different countries according to different cultural and climatic conditions or situations, but in every religious scripture obedience to God is instructed. No scripture says that there is no God or that we as living entities are independent—not the Bible, the Koran, the Vedas or even the Buddhist literatures.
(Elevation to Krishna Consciousness, chapter 6)
Prabhupada considered other religious scriptures also as shastra!
All the çästras, however, advise nivåtti-märga, or release from the materialistic way of life. Apart from the çästras of the Vedic civilization, which is the oldest of the world, other çästras agree on this point. For example, in the Buddhist çästras Lord Buddha advises that one achieve nirväëa by giving up the materialistic way of life. In the Bible, which is also çästra, one will find the same advice: one should cease materialistic life and return to the kingdom of God.
Similarly Srila Prabhupada translates the word ‘Svadhyayah’ in a verse from Srimad Bhagavatam not as study of only vedic scriptures but also qualifies reading non vedic, bonafide, scriptures.
svädhyäyaù—reading of transcendental literatures like Bhagavad-gétä, Çrémad-Bhägavatam, Rämäyaëa and Mahäbhärata (or, for those not in Vedic culture, reading of the Bible or Koran)
The purity of Srimad Bhagavatam and the vision of a Vaishnava are simply unmatched, and so are their teachings.
The last verse which Arjuna speaks in Bhagavad Gita, has many gems for us.
नष्टो मोहः स्मृतिर्लब्धा त्वत्प्रसादान्मयाच्युत।
स्थितोऽस्मि गतसन्देहः करिष्ये वचनं तव।।18.73।।
Arjuna said: My dear Krishna, O infallible one, my illusion is now gone. I have regained my memory by Your mercy. I am now ﬁrm and free from doubt and am prepared to act according to Your instructions.
Now let us try to churn this verse.
My dear Kṛṣṇa: Krishna is our dear friend , suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānāṁ , actually Krishna is our only real friend, and He never let’s His devotee down.
O infallible one:Krishna is known as Achytua .
He never fails in His affection for His devotees, and thus He is addressed herein as infallible…..In all circumstances, He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Krishna is absolute and remains so under all conditions, Krishna is glorified in every single form or lila he manifests. Whether he takes birth inside a prison in Mathura and present Himself as a fully decorated newly born baby with four arms in front of his wonderstruck parents, or while playing games with his cowherd friends in Vrindavan or stealing butter from the homes of gopis, or running away from battle- ‘Ranchorh’, even when he manifest Himself as a stone, Shaligram, He is the same Krishna. Like an actor Krishna comes in various guises, sometimes as a bird (swan), as an animal (boar), as a fish or what’s more dramatic than bursting out of a pillar as half lion-half man! His supreme position is never challenged, He is the infallible master in all circumstances.
my illusion is now gone: What is my present consciousness? Am I still living under an illusion even after being in the movement for so long. Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport – In illusion the living entity is serving in this material world. He is bound by his lust and desires, yet he thinks of himself as the master of the world. This is called illusion.
Am I living a life where I think that I am the controller, I am the master and I am the enjoyer? Am I gradually developing the consciousness of being a servant of Krishna, which should be my only identity, rest are simply the services Krishna has given me.
The best way to destroy illusion is by daily reading Srila prabhupada’s books. How much is my daily reading?
I have regained my memory: Have I regained me memory as an eternal servant of Krishna? What is my consciousness while interacting with my family, my colleagues at work, …
Srila Prabhupada gives us a very simple solution to revive our lost memory
One’s memory of Kṛṣṇa is revived by chanting the mahā-mantra, Hare Kṛṣṇa. By this practice of chanting and hearing the sound vibration of the Supreme Lord, one’s ear, tongue and mind are engaged. This mystic meditation is very easy to practice, and it helps one attain the Supreme Lord.
How sincerely am I trying to chant my 16 rounds?
by Your mercy: We should know by now that we cannot succeed by our own efforts alone. However if our efforts are sincere, and honest, then it will attract Krishna’s mercy. The two finger principle-
Thus although mother Yasoda, in her attempt to bind Krishna, added one rope after another, ultimately she was a failure. When Krishna agreed, however, she was successful. In other words, one must be in transcendental love with Krishna, but that does not mean that one can control Krishna . When Krishna is satisfied with one’s devotional service, He does everything Himself…He reveals more and more to the devotee as the devotee advances in service.
Krishna says in BG 15.15 mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca, from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness.
Everything- remembrance, knowledge, forgetfulness is coming from Krishna, everything is in the lotus like hands of Sri Govindadev!
I am now ﬁrm: to make progress in bhakti we need to be firm in our enthusiasm, determination and patience! Without them it will be difficult to make progress. We have to be firm in following the process given by Srila Prabhupada, follow four regulative principles, try to chant 16 sincere rounds, everyday read Srila Prabhupada’s books and regularly associate with devotees who are senior than us.
and free from doubt: One way to become free from doubt is by asking questions. Asking questions is a sign of intelligence. We should clear our doubts without hesitation or feeling embarrassed in front of others. Arjuna asked so many questions from Krishna in Bhagavad Gita. Srimad Bhagavatam is all about questions and answers. This is the way to clear our doubts.
Guru Maharaj once told us that even if you do not have any question and may think I have understood everything, still we should ask question so that we can verify if I have understood correctly!
and am prepared: Our primary method to prepare ourselves is by regular Sravanam kirtanam but we should not forget the golden rule which Srila Prabhupada repeated multiple times sevonmukhe hi jihvādau.
To associate with the holy name and chant the holy name is to associate with the Personality of Godhead directly. In the Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu it is clearly said, sevonmukhe hi jihvädau svayam eva sphuraty adaù [Brs. 1.2.234]. The holy name becomes manifest when one engages in the service of the holy name. This service in a submissive attitude begins with one’s tongue. Sevonmukhe hi jihvädau: One must engage his tongue in the service of the holy name. Our Krishna consciousness movement is based on this principle. We try to engage all the members of the Krishna consciousness movement in the service of the holy name. Since the holy name and Krishna are nondifferent, the members of the Krishna consciousness movement not only chant the holy name of the Lord offenselessly, but also do not allow their tongues to eat anything that is not first offered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
(CC Adi 8.16p)
to act: Bhakti means action, action in knowledge and with love. That is why Srila Prabhupada translated bhakti as devotional service not devotion. Love means reciprocation, which naturally culminates in loving service. My actions, coupled with the consciousness with which I am doing it, will attract Krishna’s mercy.
according to Your instructions: To advance in Krishna consciousness we should receive instructions from our diksha/shiksha guru. Generally we may not receive any direct instructions from our guru because we may not have the qualification to follow them. We can, however, prepare ourselves to receive direct instructions by following the primary instruction given at the time of initiation – chant 16 rounds offenselessly!
In the Bhagavad-gétä (18.66) Lord Krishna instructs His disciple Arjuna, “Just surrender unto Me, and I shall protect you from all sinful reactions.” And Arjuna accepts Krishna’s instruction with the words kariñye vacanaà tava: “I will do as You say.” (Bhagavad-gétä 18.73) If we follow Arjuna’s example, we will be in direct contact with Krishna, and we will be able to surmount all difficulties in both our spiritual and material life. We hear the instructions of Krishna via the unbroken chain of disciplic succession (guru-paramparä). Acceptance of these instructions is called çikñä, or voluntarily following the instruction of the spiritual master. The independent nature of the living entity is that he does not want to follow the instructions of another living being, however pure. But when one voluntarily agrees to obey the orders of the spiritual master, one is following the orders of Krishna, and thus one’s life becomes perfect.
All the Upanisads are like a cow, and the milker of the cow is Lord Shri Krishna, the son of Nanda. Arjuna is the calf, the beautiful nectar of the Gita is the milk, and the fortunate devotees of fine theistic intellect are the drinkers and enjoyers of that milk.
(Gita Mahatmya, verse 6)
Taking a cue from the above, if all the Upanishads are like a cow then
Srimad Bhagavatam is like a Surabhi cow, and the milker of this Surabhi cow is Śukadeva Gosvāmī. Parīkṣit’s Maharaj is the calf, the ‘rasa’ or mellow of devotional service is the milk, and the paramahaṁsas, devotees who are already on the liberated platform, are the drinkers and enjoyers of this milk.
One should learn how to associate with the devotees of the Lord by gathering with them to chant the glories of the Lord. This process is most purifying. As devotees thus develop their loving friendship, they feel mutual happiness and satisfaction. And by thus encouraging one another they are able to give up material sense gratification, which is the cause of all suffering.
Let us pray to the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada as we try to churn every line of this verse, simply by his mercy may we be blessed with just a few drops from it!
One should learn how to associate with the devotees of the Lord: To be able to progress in Krishna consciousness and proceed towards the madhyam culture, we need to associate with devotees and develop friendship with them.This is not something which comes naturally to many of us. Bhagavatam knows our conditioning, so it is directing us to ‘learn it’. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that Love for Krishna is reflected as friendship with devotees in the material world, they are two sides of the same coin. Sometimes we may excuse ourselves by saying ‘I am an introvert’ or ‘it isn’t my nature to mix with everyone’ but if we wish to make progress in spiritual journey then it is very important to develop friendship with other devotees. We can begin by regularly associating with like minded devotees. We have to shift towards our ‘real’ nature, what is practiced in Goloka.
By gathering with them to chant the glories of the Lord: What do we do when we associate with devotees? Do we share some juicy gossip, of course about the devotees only, after all we are concerned with them only or do we share some tricky temple issue, where we ourselves have no influence, or discuss some scandal or ask about the weather or family or so many other topics? Bhagavatam is saying meet and chant the glories of the Lord.
A devotee once shared how he once saw two Mathura Brahmins who met after many years. When these two Brahmins saw each other from a distance they started pacing towards each other and then as they came closer the devotee saw that both of them were reciting Bhagavatam verses loudly! The devotee said he was very surprised to witness such an interaction where instead of talking about well being, family, kids, etc. they were spontaneously reciting Bhagavatam verses one after another.
We can appreciate as the strong attachment of Brahmins to Srimad Bhagavatam came out naturally. We can’t imitate them but we can definitely take an inspiration from them and also understand that such strong attachment for Srimad Bhagvatam verses is resulting from a strong attachment to daily reading of Srimad Bhagavatam.
This process is most purifying: Our bonafide process for internal purification is Sravanam Kirtanam. This has been stressed repeatedly in Srimad Bhagavatam and hundreds of times by Srila Prabhupada in his lectures and purports. Its a very simple and yet effective process.
These nine processes, of which the easiest is çravaëam, hearing the Bhagavad-gétä from the realized person, will turn one to the thought of the Supreme Being. This will lead to remembering the Supreme Lord and will enable one, upon leaving the body, to attain a spiritual body which is just fit for association with the Supreme Lord.
As devotees thus develop their loving friendship, they feel mutual happiness and satisfaction: Srimad Bhagavatam is again stressing that we need to develop, and cultivate, loving friendship with devotees. It may not come naturally to us in the beginning therefore we need to practice it consciously (not artificially). We will then feel satisfaction, resulting in increased mutual enthusiasm for Krishna consciousness, a feeling of satisfaction and a happiness from within.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura describes the transcendental symptom of those devotees who have developed a real taste for hearing & chanting the glories of Krishna, in the association of other devotees, in his commentary of SB 1.5.11 –
The devotees hear, and having heard, sing, and having sung, again they hear, since they are not fully satiated. Or if a speaker is present, they hear the glories. If a hearer is present they speak the glories . And, otherwise, they spontaneously sing the glories.
And by thus encouraging one another they are able to give up material sense gratification, which is the cause of all suffering: At our level, one big reason for not progressing in Krishna consciousness is not our inability to chant additional rounds, memorise more verses, and so on but simply because we still have desires (consciously or subconsciously) to enjoy this material world. We very well know that the result of all such desires will be that we come back here again and again.
Now do we know of a more easier, and simpler process, to give up sense gratification than described above? What is aimed, and rarely achieved, by big big jnanis and yogis, can be very easily, and joyfully, achieved even by aspiring devotees. Sometimes our mind may find few solutions sound too easy to be true but then we underestimate the mercy of Krishna and the potency of Srimad Bhagavatam.
The result of such association with devotees is very sweetly described in the purport of this verse –
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura has pointed out that glorification of the Supreme Lord is especially potent when performed in the association of pure devotees. When devotees engage in saṅkīrtana, chanting the glories of the Lord together, they experience the highest transcendental bliss and satisfaction. Thus they encourage one another to give up material sense gratification, which is based on illicit sexual connections with women. One devotee will say to another, “Oh, you have given up sense gratification. Starting today, I shall also give it up.”
Srila Prabhupada sums up!
A place immediately becomes Vaikuṇṭha whenever the holy topics of the Personality of Godhead are discussed by pure devotees. This is the process of śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ, chanting and hearing about the Supreme Lord, Viṣṇu. As the Supreme Lord Himself confirms:
“My dear Nārada, actually I do not reside in My abode, Vaikuṇṭha, nor do I reside within the hearts of the yogīs, but I reside in that place where My pure devotees chant My holy name and discuss My form, pastimes and qualities.” Because of the presence of the Lord in the form of the transcendental vibration, the Vaikuṇṭha atmosphere is evoked.
I pray that by the mercy and potency of Srila Prabhupada we can all taste some butter from this milk we tried to churn today.
We all have our own experiences of reading Srila Prabhupada’s books and getting better understanding of our philosophy, principles, etc. As we develop more faith, study his books more carefully, also hear them from the mouth of the pure devotees, then we get realisations in our heart. This blissful and transcendental process forever continues in the life a sincere and a faithful follower, anandambudhi-vardhanam.
Today morning I read a very heart touching purport from Srimad Bhagavatam, (SB 11.3.24p). I am sharing the same with you all, the bold portions are from the above mentioned purport.
Specifically one should study those books which increase one’s desire to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
This touched my heart and also gave me an amazing guide on how to measure how is my reading. After reading a book I can look back and check “has my desire to serve Krishna increased or not?”
The purport then goes on to emphasize that Srila Prabhupada has written so many book for this purpose only –
‘when the principle of svādhyāyam, or Vedic study, is applied to these books, such as Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Bhagavad-gītā As It Is, Caitanya-caritāmṛta and The Nectar of Devotion, the sincere reader becomes infused with the ecstatic determination to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead.’
Simply reading these lines increased my faith in regularly and carefully reading and studying only Srila Prabhupada books and our goal should be to get infused with bhakti, service to Krishna and His devotees.
The purport ends with these lines-
..nor should one try to read many books to increase his false prestige as a so-called scholar. One should read those books which inspire practical spiritual advancement in knowledge and renunciation, as exemplified by the books of Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Our Acharaya says :
If you want to stay in Krsna Consciousness you will have to develop firm faith in Guru and Sastra. Therefore, you must study my books very scrutinizingly, follow the four regulative principles very strictly and chant 16 rounds daily avoiding the ten offenses. Don’t take this movement as something cheap.
(Srila Prabhupada’s letter to Srutadeva, 30th Oct 1976)
Today is the appearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, the spiritual master of Srila Prabhupada.
Few weeks ago a senior Vaishnava shared a revolutionary article by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, which I am sharing with you below. It is deep and very insightful and can give us key(s) to make a very rapid progress in Krishna consciousness by changing our outlook towards the world and our selves.
“The world stands in no need of any reformer. The world has a very competent person for guiding its minutest happenings. The person who determines that there is scope for reform of the world, himself stands in need of reform. The world goes on in its own perfect way.
No person can deflect it even the breadth of a hair from the course chalked out for it by providence. When we perceive any change being actually effected in the course of events of this world by the agency of any particular individual, we must know very well that the agent possesses no real power at any stage. The agent finds himself driven forward by a force belonging to a different category from himself. The course of the world does not require to be changed by the agency of any person. What is necessary is to change our outlook on this world.
This was done for the contemporary generation by the mercy of Sri Caitanya. It can only be known to recipients of his mercy. The scriptures declare that it is only necessary to listen with an open mind to the name of Krishna from the lips of a bonafide devotee. As soon as Krishna enters the listening ear, he clears up the vision of the listener so that he no longer has any ambition of ever acting the part of a reformer of any other person, because he finds that nobody is left without the very highest guidance. It is therefore his own reform that he is increasingly able to realize, by the eternally continuing mercy of the Supreme Lord.”
(Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur in The Harmonist, May 1932, issue no. 11)
At first go it may look like going against the preaching spirit of the devotees, but the above golden lines are like the light from the spiritual lighthouse by which all of us, preachers included, can seek the right direction, remain grounded and persist on the right track. If we carefully read above lines repeatedly, and contemplate on them, then we can unlock many a closed doors that may be blocking our progress in Krishna consciousness and receive profound wisdom available via disciplic succession.
As I sat relishing the above lines, trying, unsuccessfully, to seek entry to the above, the famous verse from Sri Isopanisad came into my consciousness.
The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the Complete Whole is also complete in itself. Because He is the Complete Whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance.
(Sri Isopanisad, invocation)
Srila Prabhupada imbibed this very mood!
“Actually I am not worthy of any one of the words spoken by you but all of them are due to my Spiritual Master Who was so kind to me. In fact I am a worthless person because my Spiritual Master ordered me to take up this work in 1922 but I did not carry his order until 1958, when I was obliged to carry out His order by His arrangement only. This means although I was not very enthusiastic to carry out His order He forced me circumstantially to accept it. So this is His special mercy upon me and I always think about this with gratitude to this exalted personality coming directly from Vaikuntha World and we had the great fortune to meet Him. I think that is the only credit on our part that we happened to meet Him by some ‘ajnata sukriti’ or unknown auspicious activities. He is so kind upon me that when I came to your country, where I was completely unknown, He sent to me some good souls like you unsolicited. So I accept you all as assistants or representatives of my Guru Maharaja Who is still helping me because I am so feeble and unworthy. Anyway, the business which we have taken to work together is neither your business nor my business as far we are personally concerned, but it is the business of Lord Caitanya and His bona fide servants like my Guru Maharaja. Therefore it is the duty of all of us to execute it as nicely as far as possible within our capacity. In other words, we shall just try to discharge our responsible duties faithfully and seriously, then all facilities will come for our help.”
(Srila Prabhupada Letter to Hayagriva dasa, January 1, 1970)
“My Spiritual Master has given me the instruction to spread this movement all over the world and you are my good disciples, are helping me do this. Without your good help I could not have done anything, so practically you can take all the credit for spreading this Krishna Consciousness movement and fulfilling the prophecy of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. If there is some incident and I claim that no one is cooperating with me or no one will work with me, that is my defect, not theirs. The Vaisnava devotee must think like this. We should not find fault with others and criticize and go away, that is not the Vaisnava way. Better we should always be willing to offer all respects to others and consider them as our superiors always.”
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, August 26, 1972)
This is the ‘safest’ way to make real progress!
Devotee: You must be higher than the paramahamsa stage, Prabhupada.
Prabhupada: I am lower than you. I am lower than you.
Devotee: You are so beautiful. You are paramahamsa, but still, you are preaching to us.
Prabhupada: No, I am lower than you. I am the lowest of the all creatures. I am simply trying to execute the order of my spiritual master. That’s all. That should be the business of everyone. Try best. Try your best to execute the higher order. That is the safest way of progressing. One may be in the lowest stage, but if he tries to execute the duty entrusted upon him, he is perfect. He may be in lowest stage, but because he is trying to execute the duty entrusted to him, then he is perfect. That is the consideration.”
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Surat, December 19, 1970)
Srila Prabhupada’s secret- he knew who was actually doing it !
“Therefore sometimes, when people say in India, ‘Swamiji, you have done wonderful.’ And yes, I do not know. I’m not a magician. But, so far I am confident that I did not adulterate the words of Krishna. That’s all. That’s my credit. I did not like to take the position of Krishna. I remained a servant of Krishna, and I spoke what Krishna said. That’s all. This is my secret. So everyone can do that. There is nothing magic. The magic will act as soon as you become a pure devotee of Krishna. The magic will be done by Krishna, not by me or you. He will do it.
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Los Angeles, May 19, 1972)
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.