Today morning I received a message from wordpress that today is the 6th anniversary of our blog site, forthepleasureoflordkrishna.com. It was a surprise for me as I felt that I started writing only 2-3 years back.
I tried to recall what prompted me to start writing a blog. It was a sharp urge within me to start writing. Before starting this blog I had never written anything in my whole life. I did my schooling from a Hindi medium school so my command over English language was quite poor and remains so even now. I was also shy and introvert. Still I felt a continuous urge to start writing. I did not know anyone in my circle who could help me so I searched on internet, found a site which gave step by step instructions on how to register a name for blog and start writing. It was a simple procedure even for a novice like myself.
I also checked the day when I wrote the first blog. The first blog is dated 23rd Aug 2013. The day before, 22nd August was the day Srila Prabhupada left for US and 21st August was Balaram Purnima, appearance day of Lord Balaram. I do not remember anything about the date but in all probability I would have started written the blog on 21st or 22nd August and would have posted it on 23rd August, without realising that the blog would show the date I posted rather than the one I started writing.
Today I also opened the first blog I wrote, reading it brought a smile on my face as I realised that I named this blog based on a SB lecture I heard from HG Rukmini Krishna prabhu, temple president of ISKCON Punjabi Bagh. In those days I used to go to ISKCON Punjabi Bagh temple twice a week, I would drive from Gurgaon to Delhi, hear Prabhuji’s lecture, honor prasadam, quickly change my clothes in the car and then rush to office, which at that time was a short drive from the Punjabi Bagh temple. Whatever little progress I have made in my spiritual journey is simply a gift from HG Rukmini Krishna Prabhu.
I remember my initial excitement when I started writing blogs on ISKCONDESIRETREE and seeing how many devotees have read it, they would show the no. of views on the blog. I did not know how many people are reading my main blog site as I did not know how to get access to this data. Once in a while it would show my blog as the blog of the month on ISKCONDESIRETREE and like a small kid I will approach HG Rukmini Krishna Prabhu and proudly show my ranking to him. Prabhuji was happy to see me finally engaged in some service and encouraged me like an affectionate father. Thank you so very much Rukmini Krishna prabhu, your approval and encouragement inspired me to continue to write.
Many devotees helped me in this effort. The foremost was my dear friend Shyamsundar Krishna prabhu, then Sumeet Gupta. He was happy to see me writing blogs and always left a comment for each blog I would post. He would call me after each blog and discuss it. Whenever I would seek his advice would give honest opinion on how to write properly. He knew my limitations but still encouraged to write. He also wrote a couple of blogs on this site. His encouragement meant a lot to me. Thank you Shyamsundar Krishna Prabhu, I will remain forever grateful to you for so many ways you helped me in this service.
Later I also started copying my blogs on dandavats and felt encouraged that I am able to serve more devotees. It was a big encouragement for me to see my blogs published on the same platform where articles written by so many senior devotees were published. Thank you dandavats team for posting my childish blogs. Then something changed again.
Due to pressure at office I suffered from lack of time. At the same time the wordpress software got updated multiple times, it became more complicated for me to write on blog, simple writing tools got vanished from the menu. My enthusiasm dwindled. I did not even renew site’s name, as a result the site went off the internet for few months. I was in double mind as to whether to continue to write on not.
Then I requested a very sincere and dear devotee in our group, Ronnie Prabhu, to help me out and he came forward. From finding small tools- how to justify a para, how to highlight a word in color, he would help me at any odd hour of the day. He also changed some settings and within few weeks the daily readership jumped 50%. All his efforts encouraged me to continue writing. Now for all practical purpose it is Ronnie prabhu is running this blog site, keeping tab on when to renew various registrations, which plugins to use, etc., for which I had no clue. I am simply writing, all the back-end is being managed by him. Thank you so very much Ronnie prabhu for all your support.
However it is all of you dear devotees and readers whose personal replies and comments on the blog kept me going. Without your response and encouragement this service would have stopped long time back. Thank you dear readers. Please feel free to leave your comments on the blog, write directly and give suggestions to improve the service.
Last but not the least I am most grateful to the lotus feet of My guru maharaj, all my shiksha gurus and to the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada, without their mercy there would be no inspiration, no writing and no blogs.
My spiritual journey started by reading Srila Prabhupada’s books. It is his lectures which inspire me to read his books carefully. It is Srila Prabhupada’s mood which inspires me to share the knowledge with everyone. And it is the potency of Srila Prabhupada’s purports which which attract visitors to this blog site. It is simply my own shortcoming that I am unable to present his teachings ‘as it is’. Thank you Srila Prabhupada. On the occasion of your appearance day yesterday, I did not offer anything. I am now offering this blog site at your lotus feet. I pray and hope that this small service be somehow pleasing to you and your followers.
How have we done so far?
You be the judge. Here are few statistics, some are a surprise even for me. Till date we have posted 271 blogs, an average of 3.7 blogs per month. A total of 95,121 visitors from 170 countries visited the blog. The highest number are from India (59,944) and USA (46,146) and lowest from Ethiopia and Haiti (1 each). The number of times all the blogs have been viewed is 1,62,043. Currently the average view per days is 148. We have 482 subscribers. On August 23rd, two days before this Janmashtami, we had the highest ever single day viewership of 796 views. The top three blogs, not counting the home page, are Krishna’s flutes (9,058 views), Demons in Krishna’s pastimes (3,364 views) and Sambhanda Abhidheya and prayojana (3,313 views).
With your kind blessings we will try to post more nectar from Srila Prabhupada’s purports. We are also trying to upload Srila Prabhupada’s entire audio lectures, properly indexed to each verse, on the site, which you we will be able to easily link via a free app with your smartphone and hear Srila Prabhupada’s indexed audio lectures at your own convenience. Kindly bless us that we can continue this service. Thank you once again dear readers.
At the end of Dvapara-yuga, which completely destroys faults and doubts, an auspicious, favorable, obstacle-free time appeared on the eighth day of the waning moon in Bhadra month. Just at that sweet moment the Rohini Naksatra, along with the good qualities of the moon and an auspicious conjunction of stars called Ayusman, appeared in the sky to give shelter to gentle persons.
Baby Krishna takes birth in Gokula
Everyone in the maternity room swelled with joy upon seeing the Lord’s exquisite transcendental form that looked like a creeper of beauty.
Mother Yasoda resembled a lake of spiritual ecstasy in which a brilliant blue lotus of personified bliss had appeared. Neither the wind nor the bees relished the fragrance of that blue lotus. That unborn lotus was never touched by the waves of the modes of nature. Even Lord Brahma could not see it, what to speak of ordinary men.
After Yasoda and her family members fell asleep in the maternity room, Hari cried beautifully like a newborn baby. His crying sounded like the maha-vakyaomkara announcing the auspicious arrival of His pastimes. Omkara is a transcendental vibration that had previously emanated from the mouth of Lord Brahma. When the ladies of Vrindavana heard the sweet sound of Krishna’s crying, they woke up and ran to see the Lord. With the mellow of their matchless overflowing affection they anointed His body.
Baby Krishna is tenderness personified
The natural fragrance of Krishna’s body smelled just like musk. After the ladies bathed Krishna in sweet ambrosia, He looked cleansed and beautiful. Then they smeared His body with fragrant sandalwood pulp. The presiding deity of the house sent a campaka flower resembling the flame of a lamp into the maternity room to worship that ornament of the three worlds.
With the strength of His little arms, delicate as the tender leaves of a tree, Krishna made all the lamps in the maternity room look like a garland of lotus flower buds. The ladies of Vrindavana saw baby Krishna like a blossoming flower made of the best of blue sapphires, or like a newly unfurled leaf of a tamala tree. Krishna looked like a fresh rain cloud decorated with the musk tilaka of the goddess of fortune of the three worlds. The ointment of the greatest auspiciousness lined His eyes. His presence filled the maternity room with good fortune. Although a mere baby, Krishna had a head full of curly hair. To hide the unique signs on His hands (goad, fish, conch etc.) the Lord folded His delicate petal-like fingers into His lotus palm. At that time Krishna laid on His back with His eyes closed.
Mother Yasoda and baby Krishna
Mother Yasoda awoke amidst the joyous chattering of the elderly gopis. Leaning over the bed she admired her gorgeous son. But upon noticing her own reflection on Krishna’s body, she imagined it another woman. Thinking that a witch had assumed her form to kidnap Krishna, Yasoda became bewildered and yelled, “Get out of here! You go away!” Spontaneously she cried out to Narsimhadeva to protect her precious son.
Beholding Krishna’s tender face, Yasoda showered tears of affection that looked like an offering of a pearl necklace. Yasoda saw Krishna’s body as a mound of dark blue musk, softer than the butter churned from the milk ocean. Overflowing with nectar, His charming body appeared like the foam of milk, but being dark blue in color it seemed the foam was full of musk juice. Admiring the supremely delicate form of her son, Yasoda worried about His safety and feared the touch of her body might hurt his tender body.
As she leaned over the bed Yasoda bathed Krishna with the milk dripping from her breasts. The elderly gopis instructed Yasoda how to caress the baby in her lap, and affectionately push the nipple of her breast into Krishna’s mouth to feed Him. Due to Yasoda’s intense love, personified bliss flowed from her breasts as steady streams of milk. When milk sometimes spilled out of Krishna’s bimba fruit red lips onto His cheeks, Mother Yasoda would wipe His face with the edge of her cloth. After feeding her son, Yasoda gazed affectionately at Him in wonder.
Alluring form of baby Krishna
She saw her child’s body as made of dazzling blue sapphires. His mouth resembled a red bimbafruit and His hands and feet looked like exquisite rubies. Krishna’s nails shone like precious gems. In this way, Yasoda thought her child was completely made of jewels. Then she perceived that His naturally reddish lips looked like bandhuka flowers, His hands and feel resembled Java flowers, His nails looked like mallika flowers. Yasoda then thought, “Krishna’s whole body seems to be made of blue lotus flowers. He does not appear to be mine.” After thus deliberating within herself Yasoda became stunned in amazement.
The beautiful, soft curly hairs on the right side of Krishna’s chest resembled the tender stems of a lotus. Seeing the mark of Srivatsa on His chest Yasoda thought it was breast milk that had previously spilled out of His mouth. She tried unsuccessfully to remove these ‘milk stains’ with the edge of her cloth. Struck with wonder, Yasoda thought this must be the sign of a great personality.
Observing the sign of Lakshmi (a small golden line) on the left side of Krishna’s chest, Yasoda thought a small yellow bee had made a nest amidst the leaves of a tamala tree. Could this be a streak of lightning resting on a rain cloud, or could it be the golden streaks marking a black gold-testing stone? Krishna’s delicate, leaf-like hands and fee glowing pink like the rising sun, looked like clusters of lotus flowers flowing in the Yamuna.
Baby Krishna’s captivating beauty
Sometimes Yasoda saw the curly, dark blue locks of baby Krishna as swarm of bumblebees surrounding His face. Intoxicated from drinking too much honey nectar, the bees just hovered in the sky. His thick, beautiful blue hair appeared like the dark night. The two lotus eyes of Krishna looked like a pair of blue lotus buds. His cheeks resembled two huge bubbles floating in a lake of liquefied blue sapphires. Krishna’s attractive ears looked like a pair of fresh unfurled leaves growing on a blue creeper.
The tip of Krishna’s dark nose appeared like the sprout of a tree, and His nostrils looked like bubbles in the Yamuna River, the daughter of the sun god. His lips resembled a pair of red Java flower buds. Krishna’s chin rivaled a pair of ripe, red jambu fruits. Seeing the extraordinary beauty of her son fulfilled the purpose of her eyes and submerged Yasoda in an ocean of bliss.
(Ananda Vrindavana Champu, chapter 2)
Please accept my very warm good wishes and prayers for a very auspicious Janmashtami.
All glories to the charming beauty of baby Krishna.
Today I am posting a letter by Srila Prabhupada to India’s then prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru – highlighting India’s unparalleled spiritual knowledge and heritage and urging the prime minister to help kick start a worldwide revolution based on spiritual realisation rather than simply desiring material prosperity.
Bombay 4 August, 1958
Pandit Sri Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India, New Delhi-2
My dear Pandit Ji,
Please accept my respectful Namaskar. I beg to inform you that your speech on 2/8/58 at the Gurukul University Haridwar, has given me some inspiration to inform you something about Indian culture. The basic principle of Indian culture is spiritualism which defies the external attraction of phenomenal materialism.
You are thinking of adjusting western ways of material adjustment with Indian culture of spiritualism and I beg to give you herewith the clue that materialism conducted with an aim of reaching spiritual perfection, is the right adjustment of human activity.
If the aim of spiritual realisation is missed, the whole plan of materialism is sure to be frustrated and that is the law of Nature. The law of nature is so made by a superior authority and no body can surpass the intricacies of material nature simply by partial adjustment of material science. The history of the West beginning from the time of the Greeks and the Romans down to the modern age of atomic war—is a continuous chain of sense gratificatory materialism and the result is that the westerners were never in peace within the memory of 3000 years of historical records. Neither it will be possible for them at any time in future to live in peace till the message of spiritualism just suitable to the present age does not reach their heart.
Therefore India may not waste her time in imitating the western way of life. You have admitted it that the position of India’s culture is of very high order. But at the same time you want to bring in material prosperity of India by scientific advancement of knowledge. And what is that scientific Knowledge? Spiritualism is also advanced scientific knowledge. Material advancement of scientific knowledge cannot give even the desired material prosperity to the people in general without spiritual help. Swaraj of Mahatma Gandhi was adjusted in spiritualism more than materialism. Do you think that horseless carriage or telephonic or radio communication or any other such ephemeral facilities of life, can bring in material prosperity? No it cannot. Material prosperity means that the people must have sufficient to eat or to maintain the body and soul together in sound health for further development in spiritual consciousness which is conspicuous by its absence in the sense gratificatory life of the animal. Do you think that your different plans have brought in that standard of material prosperity or that modern western civilization can bring in that ideal prosperity? Even they are given all the facilities of material need yet the unrest will continue to go on till there is spiritual satisfaction of life. That is the secret of peace.
Both the Americans and the Russians are better materially advanced and although they have different political philosophy of life till they are not materially happy and peaceful because both of them are unconciously hankering after spiritual realisation as the child cries for the mother without expression by language. You can help the people of the world for satisfying their spiritual hankering as the true Indian messenger of peace. The world has recognized your sincere effort for endeavouring peace in the world and this is the suitable time to help your friends and at the same time glorify the standard of Indian spiritual advancement of knowledge for world peace. Please take up the matter in cool brain.
Poverty means poverty of knowledge. Prime minister Canakya Pandit used to live in a thatched house or cottage but he was the dictator of India in the days of Emperor Candra Gupta. Mahatma Gandhi your political Guru voluntarily accepted the ways of the so called poor Indians and still he was the dictator of India’s destiny. But was he actually poverty sticken on account of his plain living with the primitive charkha? He was always proud of his spiritual knowledge. Therefore it is the spiritual knowledge which makes a man really rich and not the radio set or the motor car. Please therefore try to understand this position of Indian culture and try to give it to the western brothers in the prescribed standard method of the liberated persons and that will be an exchange of Indian culture with western material advancement and necessarily bring in a happy life in the peaceful world.
Here is a programme of spiritual movement (an appeal enclosed herewith). I am struggling alone very hard to give it an effective shape without any help from persons like you. You can help the movement a lot without the least difficulty or disturbances.
My humble advice to you, as I am your old friend from Allahabad, is that you should now take leave form you present responsibility of Prime ministership and as you are a popular gentleman of the world you can just engage the rest of your most valuable life in this organized spiritual movement to achieve the aim of your life which is yet to be known by the __ the world. By pushing on this authorized spiritual movement you can make a real adjustment of the western material science combined with Indian way of spiritual realisation.
Please therefore think over this proposal very seriously and let me know your reaction upon it and oblige. If you can spare a little time, I am sure to convince you about its importance more quickly. Thanking you in anticipation and awaiting your early reply.
Yours sincerely, A.C. B.
Private letter per registered post Enclosure:-1.
Srila Prabhupada didn’t receive reply to his letter.
But this letter, like it’s glorious author, is self-illumined. We can spend a couple of hours explaining deeper points put across in such a simple and easy to understand manner, the quality of analogies and examples used is simply outstanding. Srila Prabhupada’s conviction in India’s spiritual knowledge and values shines bright. And this is Srila Prabhupada in 1958!
An intelligent person should therefore discuss, contemplate and analyse this thought-provoking letter for its practical application. We can also use this letter as a yardstick to measure our own conviction in spiritual values and spiritual realisation. And finally to check what is my priority in life :- Spiritual realisation or material prosperity?
Today is Guru Purnima, appearance day of Sri Vyasadeva, who compiled all the vedas in a written form, towards the end of dwapar Yuga.
Srila Prabhupada is widely respected as the foremost Vedic scholar, translator, and teacher of the modern era, a great proponent of Bhakti yoga, but he did much more. Sri Vyasadeva compiled all vedic knowledge in written form in sanskrit language. Srila Prabhupada compiled most prominent vedic scriptures in an easy to understand English language, the modern universal language, translating more than 70 books and then ornamenting these scriptures with his famous Bhaktivedanta purports.
Srila Prabhupada translated and wrote commentary on the universally most accepted and acknowledged vedic scripture – Bhagavad Gita. He also enlightened a confused and misdirected innocent public with the topmost vedic scripture- Srimad Bhagavatam. Srila Prabhupada also translated and wrote commentary on SriCaitanya Caritamrta, thus giving access to the universal teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to all the humanity. He translated Isopanishad, Bhakti Rasamrta Sindhu, and many other vedic scriptures, explaining all them in their originally intended meaning or ‘as it is’. Every single word written by him is now quoted and accepted as a vedic reference.
Yesterday, while reading Srimad Bhagavatam, I came across below para.
As for Hiraṇyakaśipu, although he was extremely inimical toward the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he always thought of his son, who was a great devotee. Therefore by the grace of his son, Prahlāda Mahārāja, Hiraṇyakaśipu was also delivered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The above para explains how even a demon like Hiraṇyakaśipu got liberated simply by constantly thinking about his own son Prahlada, who was a great devotee of Lord Krishna. As I read the above lines I realised how these lines are also true for all of us, at least for my own self. We all have demoniac tendencies in our heart but if we develop love for Srila Prabhupada then Krishna will deliver us as well.
This way also connects us via Raga marga, which entails following one of the eternal associate of Krishna in Vrindavan, with an intense desire to love and serve that particular devotee. Who better to follow than Srila Prabhupada, an eternal associate of Krishna in Vrindavan!
Develop spontaneous attraction for Srila Prabhupada.
An advanced devotee is attracted by the service rendered by an eternal servitor of the Lord. This attraction is called spontaneous attraction. Technically it is called svarūpa-upalabdhi. This stage is not achieved in the beginning. In the beginning one has to render service strictly according to the regulative principles set forth by the revealed scriptures and the spiritual master. By continuously rendering service through the process of vaidhī bhakti, one’s natural inclination is gradually awakened. That is called spontaneous attraction, or rāgānugā bhakti.
We can look back and clearly see which self effulgent personality rendered most service to Krishnaby spreading Krishna consciousness all across the world. By observing the stellar role played by Srila Prabhupada, starting preaching at an advance age of 69, circling the globe 14 times in eleven short years, sowing the seed of Krishna consciousness in all the major cities of the world, opening 108 temples across the world, including large ones in Vrindavan and Mayapur, reviving and spreading vaishnava tradition throughout India, being aware of the essence of all the vedas and the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu he taught and guided his disciples how to apply them practically in daily life, he ran his international society, while travelling worldwide, simply by letters and on top of all this he translated books almost every single night from midnight to 4.30 am! This way any intelligent person can develop deep appreciation and attachment for his lotus feet. He remains a living example of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s golden words ‘kirtaniyasadahari ‘, he was busy spreading the glories of Lord Krishna till his last day on this planet.
By sincerely rendering service to Srila Prabhupada- by reading his books, following his instructions, preaching, book distribution, cooperating with devotees in serving ISKCON, serving the devotees, an intense desire to love and serve such a premibhakta will naturally awaken within our heart.
An equation of love
Certainly you are mine and I am Krishna’s, therefore you are also Krishna’s. In the Krishna Consciousness activities that is the process. By following the disciplic succession, beginning from Krishna, everything becomes ultimately connected with Krishna. And Krishna being absolute, anything connected with Him becomes absolute, without any duality of concept like in the material world.
(SP letter, Montreal 18 June, 1968)
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu sent Srila Prabhupada to liberate all the conditioned souls like us. We are all his eternal servants and he is Krishna’s eternal associate. All of us, his disciples, grand disciples, admirers & followers, are entitled to develop a loving relationship with Srila Prabhupada and become eligible to receive similar sweet affection from his lotus feet.
I understand your anxiety in writing such a letter as you are single-handedly maintaining the Varanasi Matha.
“krame krame pāya loka bhava-sindhu-kūla”
(Gradually one can cross this material world, CC M 16.237)
Optimism, enthusiasm, Krishna-seva, service to the devotees and Sri Nama- kirtanaare beneficial for advancement. If all our endeavors are focused on fulfilling Krishna’s desires, then maya’s allurement will never be able to captivate us. Always engage in hearing, chanting and reading the books of the mahajanasand the “Gaudiya” magazines, so that there will be no laziness in the matter of accepting the philosophy.
Discuss hari-katha with the devotees who are with you and as you advance in your bhajana you will start realising your fallen condition. You must be aware of this phrase – “the most advanced devotee considers himself the most fallen.” Always endeavor for the well being of your subordinates, as by doing so we make advancement in our own bhajana.
Krishna-seva, vaishanava-seva, and Sri nama-kirtana, may appear to be separate activities but all three have the same purport.
“By nama sankirtana, Krishna-seva and vaishanava-sevaare possible.
By vaishanava-seva, Krishna-kirtana and Krishna-seva are possible.
By Krishna-seva,nama sankirtana and vaishanava-sevaare possible.”
The proof is – sattvaṁ viśuddhaṁ vasudeva-śabditaṁ (SB 4.3.23)
By studying Sri Caitanya Caritamrta one can perform Krishna-seva and nama sankirtana . By studying Srimad Bhagavatam in good association one gets the same result. By Deity worship all these three activities are performed. By nama-bhajana these are performed immaculately.
Engage your past history in judging what is favorable for your bhajana. That is, know that what is unfavorable is just a pre-condition of what is favorable. When an unfavorable situation gives rise to difficulties, those same difficulties lead to a favorable situation for bhajana. Every visible object in this world is an ingredient for Krishna’s service.
Lack of service attitude illusions our mind and engages us in sense enjoyment. With the rise of transcendental knowledge in our heart we start seeing everything in this world in connection with Krishna. Only then will the poisonous fruit of desire for distinction not be able to swallow us.
“The restless stream of life flows towards the ocean of death” ⎯ such realisation makes us engage in hari-seva in every step of life. For this reason, what brings pleasure to Krishna should be accepted by us with satisfaction. If Krishna’s happiness is in disappointing us, then such disappointment should be accepted.
“Whatever sufferings I undergo in Your service that is my ultimate pleasure” ⎯ this is the realisation of a Vaishnava. Try to follow this carefully. When our anarthas are exposed in the service of Krishna, then those same anarthas become the main cause of all auspiciousness for us. Thakur Bilvamangala’s past history, Sarvabhauma’s incident, Prakashananda’s bad argument – all such anarthas ultimately became the cause of their complete surrender to the service of Krishna. So, don’t worry for your past anarthas. Present anarthas can be subdued by hearing and chanting. Our lives are short, so till death we should engage in Hari seva without hypocrisy. This you should be careful about. Following in the footsteps of the mahajanas is our only bridge to auspiciousness.
“ahaṁ tariṣyāmi duranta-pāraṁ” (CC M 3.6) ⎯ discuss this Sloka. I have read your letter to Sri Bhaktivilasa Thakur, he has expressed his satisfaction.
I hope everybody out there is engaged in hari kirtana and vaishnava seva with enthusiasm. Offer my heartfelt greetings to all of them accordingly.
Because of my past karma sometimes I am fit and sometimes indisposed. When I think I am fit, I became disinclined to bhajana and as a result I start considering other advanced devotees to be inferior to me. So, considering my situation, Krishna always keeps me in different sorts of sufferings, pains, sickness and problems. Then only I try to realise the meaning of the sloka “tat te ’nukampāṁ su-samīkṣamāṇo…” (SB 10.14.8). When I am not properly engaged in Krishna’s service I want to quarrel with people. When I am engaged in service to Krishna people attack me.
are doing well.
(Srila Prabhupada Patravali (Vol-1))
(There are multiple gems in this letter and if we repeatedly read this letter and contemplate on each point then we can find multiple keys to many closed doors in our spiritual journey. )
The more we read and glorify the great acharayas in the line of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Gaudiya vaishnava paramapara, the more we can appreciate our own good fortune and the golden opportunity available to every single soul on this planet to return back home back to Godhead. It may also inspire us to carefully and with complete faith read every single word they have written for our benefit.
Jagannath Rath yatra started few days back and aptly the first article I am sharing was written by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in 1871 on the history temple of Jagannath at Puri, about superstitious and ignorance versus timeless principle of love of God, about love versus logic, about the glories of Mahaprasadam and how the temple of Lord Jagannath is the emblem of Supreme Absolute truth as explained in Vedanta Sutras. It is a little long so kindly remain patient as great spiritual riches await us. Here it goes-
There is not a Hindu who has not heard the name of this temple. The old and the young, the male and the female, the Rajah and the ryot, and the weak and the stout, all visit this temple out of a religious curiosity. Three hundred and one miles south-west of the Vice-Regal palace at Calcutta, stands this famous temple close to the seashore affording an object for a telescopic observation to the new-comer on broad the ship bound for Bengal. It stands on a platform measuring 20 cubits in height from the level of water. The platform itself is 375 cubits by 400 cubits made of huge stone cemented with a mortar composed of lime and sand. The temple itself is 92 cubits in height of a structure purely Indian. The pilgrims sees its towering head from the distance of 7 miles where the shrewd Panda takes a rupee from him by showing him the holy Chakra.
This temple was erected by Raja Ananga Bhimbdeb about 800 years ago in place of another one, then in state of dilapidation. In old accounts we find this temple styled Niladri or the blue hill. From this it appears that the former temple which was probably raised by the emigrating Rajah Indradyumna was a blue or dark coloured one. Otherwise we cannot account for the name Nilachala unless we take it for granted that the name was after the Nilgiri Hills, a small range which runs through this Province from one end to the other.
The Utkalakhanda in the Puranas, the Niladri Mahodadhi, and the Matla Panjee (an account regularly kept by the temple officers) declare that Jagannath is a very ancient institution amongst the Hindus. Whatever may be the value of the authorities quoted, we are inclined to believe that Puri was considered sacred even at the time when the Puranas were written, because we find in Wilson’s copy of the Vishnu Purana that one Kandu Rishi resorted to a place called Purushottama for the purpose of divine contemplation. At all events Rajah Indradyumna, to whom the whole affair is generally ascribed, lived a long time before Rajah Vikramaditya, the contemporary of Augustus Caesar of Rome. We are sure, that Puri is not so old as Benares and Gaya, of which repeated mention is made in all the Puranas and the Mahabharata, yet it is not a place of recent origin created after the commencement of the Christian Era. We cannot believe that the institution originated in pure stupidity of the religious sentiment; for we cannot but observe a great deal of wisdom in the man with whom the idea of Jagannath first originated. We do not profess to belong to any of the sects of religion under the sun, we believe the absolute Faith, founded upon instinctive love of God, natural in all human souls.
There are two great sects of religion all over the world who fight with each other without any advantage whatever. One of them holds that it is absolutely necessary to believe that God is without any form whatever and believers in the form are but, idolatrous. The other class maintains that God has out of kindness shown His form to the pious in order to be worshiped by them. Both of them are wrong, because both of them fight on a purely material point. The most unsectarian view of the point is, that God is neither a form nor a formless object but is purely spiritual. Matter alone can embrace the idea of form; consequently all positive and negative assertions with regard to it must naturally be material. Those who worship the form and those who describe God as formless, are both idolatrous and superstitious, and consequently can never form an idea of the spiritual Deity. Sectarians of the same class are expected to hate each other, but those, who have nothing in common with them, have no reason for hatred. We therefore cannot, like the fanatics of the formless class consider all idols as unsacred and hold the worship of a formless Deity (identifying Him with something like space and eternity) to be the natural worship of God. We go so far as to maintain that the worshiper of the spiritual God in an idol is infinitely superior to a mere believer in a formless existence who considers that formlessness is one of the attributes of the Spirit.
Spirit is not exactly the opposite of matter, but it is certainly something different from it. it is difficult indeed to decide what is the exact relation of the Spirit to matter, space and time, and it is not given to us to know. It would indeed be the height error to conceive that all the opposite qualities of matter, space and time are in Spirit. Hence we must look to some other attributes for Spirit. Love and wisdom are certainly spiritual attributes which are not opposite qualities of matter. Man must be wise and love God. This is the religion of the soul. All debates about the essence of God (e.g. God is formless or with a form) are but sectarian. Now we allow men to love God wisely, i.e. spiritually while their eyes are on idol as well as while they contemplating an Infinite thing like the space. When the soul worships, the mind also finds an employment. The mind can never conceive of anything that is not material. It is therefore exceedingly difficult for man in his present state to separate himself from idolatry. What man is obliged to do, is his lot and hence we must put off the meaning of idolatry to some other process. We therefore conclude that he that worship the idol as God (whether the idol be formless or form) is idolatrous, but he that worships the spirit in wise love (however near he may be to an idol of form or of no form) is a worshiper of Spirit. But we go further to tolerate all these classes if they be sincere.
God accepts the worship of all those who worship their highest ideal, whether it is form, formless or Spirit, and it is under some regular processes that the idea of God becomes purer and purer in every soul and not by fits and starts. That man has no heart for his brother and consequently for God also, who sneer at the highest ideal of another behind him, is idolatrous. A war against the idol worshipers either in words or action is not a crusade but a fit of rash, loveless and ambitious fanaticism of a very unphilanthropic character. We therefore, with all our due attempts at the spiritual reformation of our erring brothers, tolerate all classes of idolatry from the worshipers of formlessness to the worshipers of man, or matter as God.
We are opposed to the atheists alone who live and enjoy for themselves. Those who are anxious for the blessing of God are our brothers in faith, whatever error there may be in their ideas and forms of worship. Love of God, however misdirected it may be, does by force of its own natural strength, rise higher and higher in the scale of spiritual progress. Its want is the degradation of the soul alone. Those who do not love God have an opposite course from us and are objects of pity with all classes of theists. God save them. We were led to these remarks by a desire to show that we are candid examiners of the institution of Jagannath without that hatred to the idolatrous (who are not prepared to understand the philosophy of Purushottam Tattva) which is perceivable in the short sighted and rash reformers of our country.
The system of Jagannath is viewed in two different ways. The superstitious and the ignorant take it as a system of idolatry by worshiping the idols in the temple as God Almighty appearing in the shape of a carved wood for the salvation of the Orias. But the Saragrahi Vaishnavas find the idols as emblems of some eternal truth which has been explained in the Vedanta Sutras of Vyasa. Within the temples in which are to be found the idols of Bimala, Shiva, Ganesha and Surya, the big, towering temple of Jagannath stands in the middle of the compound. Those who examined the system of Hindu Theology with a philosophic eye, are well aware that there are five different forms of faith comprised therein.
* The first form of faith is Shaktaism or the worship of nature as God.
* The second is the worship of Surya or the sun which is identified with heat; the only active element in lifeless matter.
* The third teaches one to worship the Spirit in its most unsatisfactory form of development in the lower animals. In this form, the elephant-man or Ganesha is the object of worship.
* Man is the object of worship in fourth stage of Hinduism. The soul, well developed as it is in the man, is worshiped in Shiva in whom the human souls is said to be observed after salvation.
* In the fifth stage alone, the Infinite God distinct from the human soul, is perceived and worshiped. Here commences Vaishnavism.
In these five stage are shown the whole history of Hindu Theology, nay, the whole history of Theology in general. All sorts of creeds that have come to existence since the creation of man, are included in these five stages. Name any system of faith that man has discovered and we will find no difficulty in classing it with any one of the five, viz. Materialism, Elementalism, Fetishism, Man worship and God worship. This is summing up of all systems of faith philosophically and not instructing people to believe in any one of them except the last. The visitor of the temple of Jagannath will find a similar display of these systems in their proper places. Consequently we find the temple of Jagannath in the middle of the compound, and our remarks will now relate to Jagannath exclusively.
We have several times entered the shrine of Jagannath, and, approaching the sandal bolts, have observed in the middle room an elevated seat on which stand four different forms viz. Jagannath, Balaram, Subhadra and Sudarshan. According to the Vedanta, God is without a second, but He has infinite energies and attributes which are not fully known to man. But then man perceives only three energies in God, because he has no other corresponding sides to understand the other powers. From one of the energies proceeds matter in all its different forms and properties and this energy is styled Maya Shakti of God. From the second energy proceeds all spiritual creation, in all its relations and phases. This power is entitled the Jiva Shakti of God. The third energy perceivable by man is the energy of Will, which is called Cit Shakti. God moving in creation is what is meant by this infinite energy.
Jagannathis the emblem of God having no other form than the eyes and the hands. They mean to show that God sees and knows and creates. Balaram is the source of Jiva Shakti of God; Subhudra, the Maya Shakti; and Sudarshana is the energy of Will. We cannot form any ideas of these energies and hence it is worship of Jagannath that depends upon the collection of these four forms on the same platform. Here we see God analyzed in the shape of forms for the sake of those who want to conceive of Him. It is the same thing to see Jagannath as to study the Vedanta in all its Branches. The temple and its institution appear to me to be a book for those who can read it, to the foolish the institution is useless except as a means of reminding them of the Deity who created the world.
There is one more thing in the temple which explains the philosophical superiority of Jagannath over all other Hindu institutions. We mean the Mahaprasad system. Rice dedicated to Jagannath is sold in the Bazaar to all pilgrims. Brahmins and the Khettries, Vaishnavas and Shaktas, the Sannyasis and the Grahastas, all accept it without any hesitation whatever. Brahminical aristocracy has no rule in the temple. This shows that when people get wise, they need not obey the foolish dictates of the Brahmins which are mainly intended for those who are unable to chalk out ways for themselves. When man admits the superiority of Love to God to all other systems of rule and ethics, he is not bound to work according to the Shastras intended for lower order of men. The common bonds of the inferior Dharma Shastras of Manu and Yagnavalkya have no influence on the free Vaishnavas who are God’s own soldiers in the crusade against evil.
The system of Mahaprasad is not only emblematic of the superior life of the Vaishnavas, but it is a part of the worship which ordinary theists cannot fully understand. The ordinary men are very much inclined to preserve the superiority of Reason over intuitive feelings of man towards the God of Love. We must now proceed to show with healthy arguments that our intuitive feelings want us to offer everything we eat to the God of our heart. We must first examine the arguments of the antagonist. The Rationalists holds that God is infinite and without wants, and consequently it is foolish to offer eatables to such Being. It is sacrilege to offer created things to the Creator and thereby degrade the Divinity of God into humanity. These are reasonable arguments indeed, and one who has heard them will certainly be inclined to declare to others, “Down with the Mahaprasad.” These conclusions, however reasonable, are dry and destructive. They tend to separate us from all connections with God in the form of worship. When you say that the infinite wants nothing, you forbid all contemplation and prayer. The Infinite does not want your grateful expressions or, in other words, flattery. Utter a word to the Unconditioned and you are sure to degrade Him into a conditioned Being. Hymns, prayers and sermons are all over! Shut your temple door and the church gates , because our Rationalist has advised you to do so. Believe a creating principle and you have done your duty! Oh! What a shame! What a dreadful fall! Theists, beware of these degrading principles!
Now the Rationalists appears in another shape and admits prayers, sermons, psalms and church going, saying that these things are wanted for the improvement of the soul, but God does not want them at all. We are glad that the Rationalists have come towards us and will make further approaches in course of time.
Yes, the progressive Rationalists has admitted a very broad principle in Theology, viz. whatever we do towards God is for our own benefit and not for the benefit of God, who is not in want of any such thing. But the Rationalists is a Rationalists still and will continue to be so, as long as he will seek self-interest. We know for certain that religion promises to give eternal felicity to man and it is impossible to conceive of any religion which has not at its bottom self-interest. This view however, smells of utilitarianism and can never claim to be theistic. We must love God for God’s sake, however unreasonable our action may be. Our love must be without any object whatever that concerns ourselves. This must be a natural emotion to the Deity as our Lover without inference or experience. Salvation, dear as it is, should not be the object of this love: what then about other shapes of felicity? “Love of God” is its own reward. Salvation as a concomitant consequence, must be a hand-maid of Love, but we must not look on it as its main object.
If Rationalist be prepared to believe this, he becomes a Theist of the Vaishnava class; but the mere assuming of the name is of no consequence. Though fully aware that the unconditioned has no conditions whatever, yet our holy and sweet principle of love take a quite different view of the matter. Reason says one thing but Love prescribes its contrary. Reasontell me that God has no sorrow, but Love sees God in tears for those of His sons that are misled to evil. Reason tells me that the strict laws of God reward and punish me in a cold manner, but Love reveals that God slackens His laws to the repentant soul! Reason tells me that with all his improvements, man will never touch the Absolute God; but Love preaches that on the conversion of the soul into state of spiritual womanhood, God, the unconditioned as He is, accepts an eternal marriage with the conditioned soul of man! Reason tells me that God is in infinite space and time, but Love describes that the all-beautiful God is sitting before us like a respected relative and enjoying all the pleasures of society.
As a father in his amusements with his young children, God is spreading all sorts of delicious food all over the earth and expecting that His sons should gather all the scattered blessings and, without the exercise of reason in consequence of a strong feeling of love, offer all the blessing to the Father whom they love more than their lives. The Father again, in reply to their kind feelings, gives back the blessings to the children and tells them these kindlier words, “O! My children! These blessings intended for you! Out of your natural love you bring them to me for my enjoyment; but I have naturally no wants to supply. But then I have accepted that part of your offering which corresponds with me, viz. your unmixed love and disinterested affections for which alone I am exceedingly anxious. Take back these sweet things and enjoy them.”
This process of disinterested love, which dry reason can never brook, sanctifies the food we take, and leaves us to harmless enjoyment for all the days of our natural life! This is the system of sincere worship which theists of a higher class alone can act upon. We cannot express the joy we often felt when we took the holy Mahaprasad in the temple! The holiness we attach to it is its sweetness and often pray that all men may enjoy it. To the Saragrahi Vaishnava, the temple has such thrilling charms which the ordinary Rationalist can never understand. We do not mean to say that Reason is a foolish principle. On the contrary we do not find better admirers of Reason than our humble selves. We hold that man’s superiority amongst all created beings consist in man’s possessing the noble gift of Reason.
What we maintain in this, that independent of this noble principle there is another higher gift in man which goes by the name of Love. Reason helps Love to maintain its proper bounds in the Spiritual world. Love often tends to degrade itself by exercising its functions on objects other than God and converts itself into lust for woman, wine, meat and gold. Here Reason advises her to rise higher till she reaches her proper sphere above. Thus we find that the object of Reason is to help Love and not to create it. Reason may be properly styled as the servant of Love and must always be subject to her in all her hopes, aspirations and holy works. The Rationalist on the contrary considers Reason as all in all. This is degradation of humanity. The progressive Rationalist, on the other hand, believes in the principle of love, but attempts to make her the maid-servant of Reason. This is another error. He makes spiritual love sometimes a prisoner in the Jails of Reason. Love wants to soar on her spiritual wings to a realm where the Jailer (Reason) cannot go and the latter is sure to tie up her wings for fear lest she goes to an unworthy place. Love utters sounds of a spiritual character peculiar to herself, but Reason, having no previous experience of it, mistakes it for a disease and administers medicines for her cure. Thus it is that the natural strength of the Queen of our Soul is crippled by artificial administrations of the dry principle of Reason and she rests in us as if a bird taken in a cage.
Oh. What a havoc doth Reason commit by abuse of his power. Oh. Shame to the Rationalist. God, help the man. Theists take care of those amongst you who mix with you only by assuming the name of Theist but are in fact Rationalists of very dry character. They are divisible into two classes viz. the designing and the dupe. The designing Theist is he who is in fact a Rationalist but by assuming the name of a Theist want to degrade the sincere by his bad influence. He that calls himself a Theist in order to get rid of the name of a Rationalist but still holds Love in subjection to Reason is a dupe because he is unable to find out his own position. The sincere theist should however take care of both of them and preserve the sovereignty of Love over Reason and his comrades.
We will now show that others, who have allowed their Love to degrade without caring for the proper instructions of Reason on the other hand, have gone down to a gross idolatry and superstition. The Temple of Jagannath is under the superintendence of the local Rajah of Puri whom the foolish men worship as an incarnation of the Deity. Under his superintendence there are 36 classes of servants at the temple who are styled the Chhatrisha Niyoga. There are six hundred families of Suars (Soopakars) or cooks in the temple. It is needless here to enumerate all these classes of servants. Several Pandas, Pariharis, Pashupals and Suars send their servants to different parts of India to collect pilgrims to the temple. These agents or Gomasthas (as they are called) visit the gentleman of the places they go to and give some sweetmeat Mahaprasad proposing that they are ready to take pilgrims to Puri under their care.
By this means, the agents collect a large number of souls (amongst whom the greatest number are woman of an advanced age) and march on with the sound of Haribol. We must admit that the Pandas and their Gomasthas (generally of the Kayestha class) take a great deal of trouble for the sake of their pilgrims and sometimes advance money for their expenses on the road. The Bengal Jattris generally visit Puri at the Snana Jattra and the Ratha Jattra festivals but the upcountry men come to Puri at all times in the year.
When the pilgrims arrive at Puri the Panda, whose agent brought them, visit them with some Mahaprasad near the Narendra Tank at the approach of the town. The pilgrims see Jagannath on the very day that they arrive and perform the ceremony of Pancha Tirtha on the following day or the day after that. By Pancha Tirtha is meant the business of bathing in the Tanks of Markandeya and Indradyumna and in the sea and, after performing Sradha in those three places, seeing the emblems of Jagannath and Balarama in the temple.
The Panda all along keeps silent, but on the last day he is sure to take everything that the pilgrim has and sometimes to take a bond for an amount according to the circumstances of the pilgrim. That day the Panda with all his usual gravity takes the pilgrim to an elevated roof in the northern part of the temple called Koili Vaikoontha and there utters his Mahabakya and Shufala in order to persuade the pilgrim to pay whatever he or she has with him or her. Thus the pilgrim returns to his native place without anything but a patara of sweetmeat Mahaprasada and a few slips of Jagannath’s likeness in rude paintings!
In fact the temple servants, one, and all, are not a bit a better than Brahminical priests who deal with the next world as a means of gain. They are rude in the extreme and quite ignorant of Hindu Theology. They never attempt to teach or learn, but often rove in quest of money. Most of them are fond of drinking a liquor prepared from Bhang and hence they have (nearly all of them) a swelling of their legs sometimes coming up to the stage of disease called elephantiasis. With all their gains, the temple servants can never store wealth because they are very careless. Besides the temple they generally keep a place called an Akhra where they meet together for the purpose of drinking Bhang and seeing the dance of young boys clad in the dress of females! We will try to give you an account of all the Akhras in Puri in my next paper, and as this paper has become much longer than we at first intended, we take leave of you for the present.
I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, the first progenitor who is tending the cows, yielding all desire, in abodes built with spiritual gems, surrounded by millions of purpose trees, always served with great reverence and affection by hundreds of thousands of lakshmis or gopis.
The purpose tree yields only the fruits of piety. wealth, fulfillment of desire and liberation; but the purpose trees in the abode of Krishna bestow innumerable fruits in the shape of checkered divine love. Kāma-dhenus (cows yielding the fulfillment of desire) give milk when they are milked; but the kāma-dhenus of Goloka pour forth oceans of milk in the shape of the fountain of love showering transcendental bliss that does away with the hunger and thirst of all pure devotees.
(Brahma Samhita 5.29+p)
Same Vrindavan comes down
In Vrindavan Krishna herds the surabhi cows, and He is worshiped by hundreds and thousands of gopis, cowherd girls, who are all goddesses of fortune. When Krishna descends to the material world, this same Vrindavan descends with Him, just as an entourage accompanies an important personage. Because when Krishna comes His land also comes, Vrindavan is considered to exist beyond the material world. Therefore devotees take shelter of the Vrindavan in India, for it is considered to be a replica of the original Vrindavan .
Kalpa Vrikshas – the wish fulfilling trees
In the spiritual world there are kalpa-vṛkṣa trees, which yield whatever type of fruit we desire. In the material world a mango tree cannot supply grapes, nor can a grapevine supply mangoes. In the spiritual world, however, if we take a mango from a tree and at the same time desire grapes, the tree will supply them. This is called a “desire tree.” These are some of the actualities of the spiritual world.
(TQK, chapter 25)
They give pleasure to Krishna
(Krishna to Madhumangala) ‘My dear friend, this forest of Vrindavan is giving great pleasure to our senses in various ways. Somewhere bumblebees are singing in groups, and in some places mild breezes are cooling the entire atmosphere. Somewhere the creepers and tree twigs are dancing, the mallikā flowers are expanding their fragrance, and an overabundance of juice is constantly flowing in showers from pomegranate fruits.’
(CC Antya 1.160)
They want this service
Description of Vrindavan, Vrindavan and Radha and Krishna situated there. The Vrindavan … Vana means forest, and vrinda means tulasi. Mostly there are tulasi plants and other trees also, but all the trees are living desire trees, spiritual. They can serve Krishna in any way, desire. They have become trees by their voluntary desire. They’re all spiritual beings—there is no force—but everyone has got a particular tendency to serve Krishna in a different way. So these trees and plants, they are also living beings. They are not ordinary living beings, but they have decided to serve Krishna by supplying fruits and flowers. They want that service.
(Srila Prabhupada lecture, 9th April 1975, Mayapur)
Krishna Himself glorifies their unique mood
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: O greatest of
Lords, just see how these trees are bowing their heads at Your lotus feet,
which are worshipable by the immortal demigods. The trees are offering You
their fruits and flowers to eradicate the dark ignorance that has caused their
birth as trees.
The trees of Vrindavan were thinking that because of past offenses they had now taken birth as trees and, being immovable, could not accompany Lord Krishna in His wanderings throughout the Vrindavan area. In fact, all the creatures of Vrindavan , including the trees and cows, were great souls who could personally associate with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But because of ecstatic sentiments of separation, the trees considered themselves in ignorance and thus tried to purify themselves by bowing down at the lotus feet of Krishna and Balarama. Lord Krishna understanding their mentality, simultaneously glanced at them with affection and praised their devotional service before His older brother, Balarama.
One devotee tried to console a kadamba tree when the tree was lamenting because Krishna had not touched even its shadow. The devotee said, “My dear kadamba tree, do not be worried. Just after defeating the Kaliya snake in the Yamuna River, Krishna will come and satisfy your desire.” This is an instance of inappropriate hopelessness in ecstatic love for Krishna.
Although one may complain that no kalpa vrikshas, wish fulfilling trees, exist there, when the six Gosvamis were there, kalpa vrikshas were present. It is not that one can simply go to such a tree and make demands; one must first become a devotee. The Goswamis would live under a tree for one night only, and the trees would satisfy all their desires. For the common man this may all seem very wonderful, but as one makes progress in devotional service, all this can be realized.
Vrindavan is actually experienced as it is by persons who have stopped trying to derive pleasure from material enjoyment. ”When will my mind become cleansed of all hankering for material enjoyment so I will be able to see Vrindavan ?” one great devotee asks. The more Krishna conscious we become and the more we advance, the more everything is revealed as spiritual.
Thus Krishnadasa Kaviraja Goswami considered the Vrindavan in India to be as good as the Vrindavan in the spiritual sky, and in the sixteenth verse of the Caitanya–caritamrta he describes Radharani and Krishna as seated beneath a wish fulfilling tree in Vrindavan , on a throne decorated with valuable jewels. There Krishna’s dear gopis friends serve Radha and Krishna by singing, dancing, offering betel nuts and refreshments, and decorating Their Lordships with flowers. Even today in India people decorate swinging thrones and re-create this scene during the month of July-August. Generally at that time people go to Vrindavan to offer their respects to the Deities there.
“[Srimati Radharani said to Her constant companion Vishakha:] ‘My dear friend, if Krishna is unkind to Me, there will be no need for you to cry, for it will not be due to any fault of yours. I shall then have to die, but afterwards please do one thing for Me: to observe My funeral ceremony, place My body with its arms embracing a tamāla tree like creepers so that I may remain forever in Vrindavan undisturbed. That is My last request.'”
Sri Krsna, the moon of Vraja, enjoys pastimes and also rests in these groves, which are filled with many wonderful trees and vines eternally blossoming with many beautiful flowers, even down to their roots. In the groves of Vraja, the cuckoos and bumblebees sing very melodiously, the plants are all splendidly beautiful, the camari does gracefully move their tails, and the musk oxen diffuse a sweet aroma in all directions. In the groves of Vraja there is a little clearing bounded on four sides by four kalpa-vrksa trees, each covered by two flowering vines. In the centre of this little courtyard is a cottage made of jewels. Four trees are the four pillars of this cottage. Their branches and twigs are its roof, their flowers its domes and spires, the vines clinging to their sides its walls, and the opening among the vines is its door. These beautiful cottages, which are found throughout Vraja’s forests, remove the demigods’ pride in their airplanes, and attract even the residents of Vaikuntha.
(Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura in Vraha Riti Cintamani, chapter 2, text 26-30)
(So it may not be such a bad idea that the next time we are in Vrindavan, or Mayapur, that we pay our obeisances, hug and pray to any of our favorite trees, we may be very surprised by the result.)
All glories to the wish fulfilling trees of Vrindavan
Krishna consciousness is an adventure, most devotee will vouch that there is never a dull moment in our spiritual journey. There are ups and downs, many a times we wish to do more, feel inspired to push our boundaries, while sometime we become morose as we see our shortcomings and feel lack of progress despite a strong and sincere desire to do so.
Sometimes devotees feel constrained by their circumstances, and start praying fervently to Krishna to change their situation. In extreme cases some devotees, in their immaturity, and lack of proper guidance even try to forcefully change their ashram, assuming it will help them practice Krishna consciousness steadily. Krishna consciousness however is not dependent upon our external circumstances, it is what we do in those circumstances which is more important, what is state of my internal consciousness.
We should also know that Krishna consciousness is a gradual process, it is a matter of change of heart, a heart surgery, and heart surgery is not performed in a hurry! Therefore Srila Rupa Goswami guides us in NoI 3 that for those devotees who practice Krishna consciousness enthusiastically, endeavoring with great confidence, but at the same time remain patient for the result, success in devotional service is assured.
There is a very wonderful verse in Srimad Bhagavatam which throws light on the simple process one needs to follow to become successful in Krishna consciousness. The process it offers a very simple and sublime. And it gives an amazing benediction that if we follow this simple process then we will be able to conquer Krishna!
jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta eva jīvanti san-mukharitāṁ bhavadīya-vārtām sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāṁ tanu-vāṅ-manobhir ye prāyaśo ’jita jito ’py asi tais tri-lokyām
Those who, even while remaining situated in their established social positions, throw away the process of speculative knowledge and with their body, words and mind offer all respects to descriptions of Your personality and activities, dedicating their lives to these narrations, which are vibrated by You personally and by Your pure devotees, certainly conquer Your Lordship, although You are otherwise unconquerable by anyone within the three worlds.
Our Krishna consciousness movement is being spread so that you do not forget your cultural life. We do not say that you stop your business and become a sannyasi like me and give up everything. We do not say that. Nor did Krishna say that. Krishna never said, “Arjuna, give up your fighting business.” No, He said, “Arjuna, you are a kshatiya. You are declining to fight, saying, ‘Oh, it is very abominable.’ You should not say that. You must fight.” That was Krishna’s instruction.
Similarly, we Krishna conscious people are also advising everyone, “Don’t give up your business. Go on with your business, but simply hear about Krishna.” Caitanya Mahaprabhu also said this, quoting from Srimad Bhagavatam: sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāṁ tanu-vāṅ-manobhir. Caitanya Mahaprabhu never said, “Give up your position.” Giving up one’s position is not very difficult. But to cultivate spiritual knowledge while one stays in his position—that is required.
After his fourth proposal was rejected, Ramananda Raya said that devotional service rendered without any attempt at mental speculation or cultivation of knowledge is the highest stage of perfection. To support this view he gave evidence from Srimad Bhagavatam (10.14.3), wherein Lord Brahma tells the Supreme Personality of Godhead:
jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta eva jīvanti san-mukharitāṁ bhavadīya-vārtām sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāṁ tanu-vāṅ-manobhir ye prāyaśo ’jita jito ’py asi tais tri-lokyām
”My dear Lord, one should give up monistic speculation and the cultivation of knowledge altogether. He should begin his spiritual life in devotional service by receiving information of the Your activitiesfrom a realized devotee of the Lord. If one cultivates his spiritual life by adhering to these principles and keeping himself on the honest path in life, then although Your Lordship is never conquered, You become conquered by the devotee following such a process.”
When Ramananda Raya presented this proposal, Lord Caitanya at once said, ”Yes, this is right.” In other words, Lord Caitanya agreed that this process conforms to His mission. In this age there is no possibility of acquiring spiritual knowledge by discharging one’s duties in the varnashrama-dharma system, by devotional service mixed with fruitive activity, by renunciation, or by devotional service mixed with the culture of knowledge.
Because most people are fallen and because there is no time to elevate them by a gradual process, the best course, according to Lord Caitanya, is to let them remain in whatever condition they are in but to engage them in hearing of the activities of the Supreme Lord as those activities are explained in the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. The transcendental messages of the scriptures should be heard from the lips of realized souls. In this way a person may continue to live in whatever condition he is in and still make spiritual progress. Thus one can surely advance and fully realize the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
My dear sons of the King, just execute your occupational duty as kings with a pure heart. Just chant this prayer fixing your mind on the lotus feet of the Lord. That will bring you all good fortune, for the Lord will be very much pleased with you.
The prayers offered by Lord Shiva are very authoritative and significant. Simply by offering prayers to the Supreme Lord one can become perfect, even though engaged in his occupational duty. The real purpose of life is to become a devotee of the Lord. It does not matter where one is situated. Whether one is a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra, American, Englishman, Indian, etc., one can execute devotional service anywhere and everywhere in the material existence simply by offering prayers unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Hare Krishna mahā-mantra is also a prayer, for a prayer addresses the Supreme Personality of Godhead by His name and invokes good fortune by petitioning the Lord to allow one to engage in His devotional service. The Hare Krishna mahā-mantra also says, “My dear Lord Krishna, my dear Lord Rāma, O energy of the Lord, Hare, kindly engage me in Your service.” Although one may be situated in a lowly position, he can execute devotional service under any circumstance, as stated, ahaituky apratihatā: “Devotional service cannot be checked by any material condition.” (Bhāg. 1.2.6) Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu also recommended this process:
jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta eva jīvanti san-mukharitāṁ bhavadīya-vārtām sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāṁ tanu-vāṅ-manobhir ye prāyaśo ’jita jito ’py asi tais tri-lokyām
One may remain situated in his own place or his own occupational duty and still lend his ear to receive the message of the Lord from realized souls.
Following in the footsteps of Lord Brahmā, any person, even up to this day, can attain the same perfection by following the path of the paramahaṁsa as recommended herein. Lord Caitanya also approved of this method of self-realization for men in this age. One should first, with all conviction, believe in the Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna, and without making efforts to realize Him by speculative philosophy, one should prefer to hear about Him from the Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā and later from the text of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. One should hear such discourses from a person Bhāgavatam and not from the professional man, or from the karmī, jñānī or yogī. That is the secret of learning the science.
One does not need to be in the renounced order of life; he can remain in his present condition of life, but he must search out the association of a bona fide devotee of the Lord and hear from him the transcendental message of the Lord with faith and conviction. That is the path of the paramahaṁsa recommended herein. Amongst various holy names of the Lord, He is also called ajita, or one who can never be conquered by anyone else. Yet He can be conquered by the paramahaṁsa path, as practically realized and shown by the great spiritual master Lord Brahmā. Lord Brahmā has personally recommended this paramahaṁsa-panthāḥin his own words as follows:
jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta eva jīvanti sanmukharitāṁ bhavadīya vārtām sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāṁ tanu-vāṅ-manobhir ye prāyaśo ’jita jito ’py asi tais trilokyām
Lord Brahmā said, “O my Lord Krishna, a devotee who abandons the path of empiric philosophical speculation aimed at merging in the existence of the Supreme and engages himself in hearing Your glories and activities from a bona fide sādhu, or saint, and who lives an honest life in the occupational engagement of his social life, can conquer Your sympathy and mercy even though You are ajita, or unconquerable.” (Bhāg. 10.14.3) That is the path of the paramahaṁsas, which was personally followed by Lord Brahmā and later recommended by him for attaining perfect success in life.
You remain in your position. Either in good or bad, it doesn’t matter. But you do one thing. sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāṁ tanu-vāṅ-manobhir . You use your ear. That ear is bestowed upon everyone, either fool or learned. So use that ear, sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāṁ tanu-vāṅ-manobhir, and hear attentively, and mold your life as you hear from the realized soul. sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāṁ tanu-vāṅ-manobhir. One who remains like this, although he is imperfect fool, whatever he may be, he can conquer the ajita. Ajita means God. Nobody can conquer Him, but a devotee who sincerely hears about Him from the realized soul, he can conquer even Ajita, Krishna. Just like gopis. The gopis were women, and not very high class woman—cowherd’s men, in the village, not in town. Very educated, high society, brahmana, kshatriya—no. They all belonged to vaishya class. And they were woman, not Vedantist, not scholar. But they conquered Krishna. Why?… They heard about Krishna, and they became lover of Krishna. That is required. So that is the real qualification.
(SPL, 28th Feb 1975, Atlanta)
Prabhupada established ISKCON based upon this very principle
The Krishna conscious movement is based on this principle, and we are opening centers all over the world to give everyone a chance to hear the message of Lord Krishna in order to go back home, back to Godhead.
Arjuna was a friend of Krishna. How he conquered? Now, Krishna became his driver. The Personality of Godhead, who is the Supreme, everyone’s master, He became a menial servant of Arjuna. So God is so lovable, and He reciprocates His love in this way. So you can conquer. Just like Krishna became the son of Nanda Maharaja, and when He was child, He took the shoes of Nanda Maharaja on His head just like child play. You see? So these are symptoms of conquering God…. You are trying to become one with God? Oh, you can become father of God. You can become father of God. God has no father but He accepts His devotee, His lover, “Oh, you are My father.” So that is the question. So if this process is for simply hearing, aural reception, sincerely, then by this process, whatever position I may be, in whatever position I may be, I can conquer the Supreme Lord. He agrees to be conquered.
Conclusion – Simply Sravanam kirtanam
This is the best benediction that a devotee can ask of the Supreme Lord. This is also confirmed by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu: sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāṁ tanu-vāṅ-manobhiḥ (Bhāg. 10.14.3) One may be in one position or another according to destiny, but in any case one must continue to hear about the activities and pastimes of the Supreme Lord, regardless of circumstances. A pure devotee does not pray for liberation or for cessation of the cycle of birth and death because he does not consider that important. The most important thing for a devotee is getting a chance to hear about the pastimes and glories of the Lord.
The devotees who engage in the service of the Lord in this world will have the same opportunity in the spiritual world also. Thus for a devotee, everything is in the spiritual world, for as long as he can hear about the pastimes of the Lord, or wherever he can chant, the Lord is personally present (yatra gāyanti mad-bhaktāḥ tatra tiṣṭhāmi nārada). When the pure devotees assemble to chant, hear and talk about the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the place where they assemble becomes Vaikuntha . For the devotee there is no need to pray to the Lord for transferal to the Vaikuntha world. A pure devotee can create Vaikuntha or Vrindavan anywhere simply by chanting the glories of the Lord without offense.
“The words of Krishna are so attractive that they can immediately change the heart of even His opponent. His words can immediately solve all of the questions and problems of the world. Although He does not speak very long, each and every word from His mouth contains volumes of meaning. These speeches of Krishna are very pleasing to my heart.”
So we read how without giving too much attention to our current circumstances and by simply dedicate our lives in reading, or hearing, the words emanating from the lotus like mouth of Sri Govinda deva personally, say Bhagavad Gita, or by his pure devotees, say Srimad Bhagavatam or Krishna Book, then we can conquer the unconquerable, Krishna Himself! What more can devotees wish for!
“In a temple of jewels in Vṛndāvana, underneath a desire tree, Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govinda, served by Their most confidential associates, sit upon an effulgent throne. I offer my humble obeisances unto Them.”
So description of Vrindavan, Vrindavan and Radhā and Krishna situated there. The Vrindavan … Vana means forest, and vṛnda means tulasī. Mostly there are tulasī plants and other trees also, but all the trees are living desire trees, spiritual. They can serve Krishna in any way, desire. They have become trees by their voluntary desire. They’re all spiritual beings—there is no force—but everyone has got a particular tendency to serve Krishna in a different way.
So these trees and plants, they are also living beings. They are not ordinary living beings, but they have decided to serve Krishna by supplying fruits and flowers. They want that service. Everyone has got his particular propensity. So someone is serving as the land there, someone is serving as the throne, someone is serving as the supplying agent of fruits and flowers, someone is engaged in His service as the gopis, confidential servitors. The cows, calves, everything—they are all different living entities. They are not made of these material things, material body.
Ānanda-cinmaya-rasa-pratibhāvitābhis tābhir yaeva nija-rūpatayā kalābhiḥ [Bs. 5.37].They are all also expansion of Krishna’s pleasure potency. In one sense they are also Krishna; they are not different from Krishna. Śakti-śaktimatayor abheda: “The power and the powerful, they are not different, identical.” Just like the sun and the sunshine. So in the sun globe there is heat and light, and the sunshine, there is heat and light. So, so far heat and light is concerned, they are one. Similarly, Krishna and Krishna’s pleasure potency, ānanda-cinmaya, ahlādinī… It is already described, rādhākṛṣṇa-praṇaya-vikṛtir hlādinī-śaktir asmāt.
So whatever description is there of Vrindavan, that is expansion of Krishna’s pleasure potency. They are not different. Therefore in the beginning it is said, dīvyad, “shining,” or “divine,” “transcendental.” So we should not consider Vrindavan ordinary forest. Here we have got Vrindavan on this planet. That is also not ordinary forest. The exactly the same Vrindavan as it is Goloka Vrindavan … There is no difference. Therefore Narottama dasa Thakura says that
viṣaya chāḍiyā kabe śuddha ha ‘be mana kabe hāma herabo, śrī-vṛndāvana
Viṣaya chāḍiyā. Our present position is that we are materially diseased, so we have to become free from the material disease. Material disease means sense gratification, and the most formidable disease is sex. This is called material disease. So viṣaya chāḍiyā. We have to be, become free from the contamination of viṣaya, material enjoyment. This is the statement of Narottama dasa Thakura.
viṣaya chāḍiyā kabe śuddha ha ‘be mana kabe hāma herabo śrī-vṛndāvana
“When my mind will be cleansed of all material desires, then I shall be able to see what is Vrindavan.” It is very difficult to see Vrindavan with material desires. Bhakti means the first qualification is to become free from all material desires. (Then we will be able to see Vrindavan)
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, 9th April, 1975, Mayapur)
Why has Krishna allowed His dham to deteriorate, Srila Prabhupada?” Gurudas asks. “It has not deteriorated,” he replies. “Well, you just said that the Goswami temples were neglected.” “That’s a fact. But Vrindavan has not deteriorated.” “Most Americans would be shocked to see what I saw this morning,” I say. “How’s that?” Prabhupada asks. “Well, for one, they’d consider it unhygienic.” “Just see. For a materialist, everything is topsy-turvy because his vision is perverted. Beauty and ugliness are in the eye of the seer.” “But what’s this veneer covering the holy dham?” “The ugliness that you see here is yoga-maya,” Prabhupada says. “It’s Krishna’s covering. Vrindavan appears this way to drive away the atheists and impersonalists, just as New York attracts them. For a devotee, this Vrindavan is as good as Krishna’s transcendental abode in the spiritual sky-Goloka Vrindavan. But you must have the eyes to see.”
We hear the term- Time place and circumstances (desa, kala, patra) quite commonly in scriptures. We also try to apply it in preaching, sometimes successfully and sometimes not so successfully. Many a times we get confused how to apply this principle practically, am I compromising too much? Today morning I read a superlative and razor sharp explanation of this principle by HH Bhaktividya Purna swami. I am sharing its transcription with all of you.
Time Place and circumstances
HH Bhaktividya Purna Swami:
Was Yudhisthira running the whole world? Yes. He was practical. Not theory. So it can be. So if we are not able to see it then we have to study it. We have to try to apply it, practice it, then it will come. The practical will come. Where do you start from? Oh, we have time, place and circumstance.
But what is the philosophy in which we say time, place and circumstance? Is it in consideration of the sastra? Is it in consideration of administration based on religious principles? Or is it based on economics? Most people say time, place and circumstance their philosophy is pragmatism. Pragmatism is what’s the quickest, easiest and most efficient way to get something done. No consideration of anything else. If it actually got the work done or made profit, then it’s pragmatic. If there was any obstacle that was created by some theoretical aspects, then that’s impractical.
There is this group of senior Prabhupada disciples, and then there is others who have been here in the zone for a long time, then there is some matajis who are doing the puja we have to take care of, and we have to take care of our brahmacaris. That weighs on the mind, I can’t, just this is what I do and that’s it, I have to consider all these things and balance it. That’s the time, place and circumstance.
When they say time, place and circumstance actually they don’t want to consider time, place and circumstance. Time, place and circumstance actually means whatever I feel like doing that’s what I should be able to do. It’s smoke screen time, place and circumstance. Because it’s not actually.
Time place circumstances – comes from Vedas
You have a temple and there is 300 devotees that live outside that are not from the temple, why aren’t they coming to the temple? Time, place and circumstance. That’s why. If that is your yatra, why aren’t they being considered as part of the equation? Because of the 300 hundred there must be something sincere that you could cultivate. There is a few that are very political or bitter. Okay, leave them for now. Out of the others find some, but are they considered in the equation?
Or is it unless you are in the temple under the direct authority of the temple president and he tells you what to do the way he likes it and you do it, then you are sincere. That’s not time, place and circumstance. That means the time is whatever the temple president says. Place is wherever he is saying it. And the circumstance is whatever it is that’s the way he wants it. ….Time, place and circumstance comes from the Vedas. It doesn’t come from the modern.
The above was straight from HH Bhaktividya Purna swami, sharp and to the point, as always. We should , however apply caution in trying to apply it to judge others. It is always prudent to apply what we have learnt on ourselves. We should see that where I have responsibility and influence, am I applying it correctly, meaning, as per shastra, keeping the principle intact and adjusting the detail due to circumstances, be it my family, in my preaching or in my dealings with other devotees.
Lets hear what Shastra and Srila Prabhupada have to say on it
Expert devotees know how to apply it
The expert devotees also can discover novel ways and means to convert the nondevotees in terms of particular time and circumstance. Devotional service is dynamic activity, and the expert devotees can find out competent means to inject it into the dull brains of the materialistic population. Such transcendental activities of the devotees for the service of the Lord can bring a new order of life to the foolish society of materialistic men. Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His subsequent followers exhibited expert dexterity in this connection. By following the same method, one can bring the materialistic men of this age of quarrel into order for peaceful life and transcendental realization.
Time place and circumstances for Political Leaders
The principles of religion, namely austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness, as we have already discussed, may be followed by the follower of any faith. There is no need to turn from Hindu to Mohammedan to Christian or some other faith and thus become a renegade and not follow the principles of religion. The Bhāgavatam religion urges following the principles of religion. The principles of religion are not the dogmas or regulative principles of a certain faith. Such regulative principles may be different in terms of the time and place concerned. One has to see whether the aims of religion have been achieved. Sticking to the dogmas and formulas without attaining the real principles is not good.
A secular state may be impartial to any particular type of faith, but the state cannot be indifferent to the principles of religion as above-mentioned. But in the age of Kali, the executive heads of state will be indifferent to such religious principles, and therefore under their patronage the opponents of religious principles, such as greed, falsehood, cheating and pilfery, will naturally follow, and so there will be no meaning to propaganda crying to stop corruption in the state.
Now if in this age I advise you that you also live underneath a tree, then it will be difficult to preach. You see? Nobody is accustomed in that way, such severe type of austerity. They must be given, as far as possible, comfortable accommodation otherwise they will not come. They will not take. Now this…. This is adjustment. The acharya knows how to adjust things. The real purpose is how one will take to spiritual consciousness, or Krishna consciousness. Keeping one’s aim to that point some concession may be given. As far as possible, keeping pace with the time, circumstances.
Śrutakīrti, as he moved to massage Prabhupada’s side, asked, “Prabhupada, how can we tell the difference between making an adjustment and changing a principle?” Prabhupada’s eyes closed and Śrutakīrti continued to massage. After a few moments, Prabhupada opened his eyes and said, “That takes a little intelligence.”