Transcendental Knowledge

Hare Krishna dear devotees,

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

TRANSLATION

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.

(BG 4.42)

PURPORT

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.

  1. 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.

How?

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.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada. 

your servant,

Giriraj dasa

Most merciful Sri Vrindavan Dhama

Hare Krishna.

29th April, 2014, Gurgaon.

Krishna with cow

I felt a lot better just by writing my last blog, crying to the Lord.  I saw two clear answers for my agitated heart.

1. Beg for a service which is inconvenient for me at the local temple.

2. Beg to the Srila Prabhupada at his samadhi at Vrindavana to show me the way.

Next day, 29th, as I was getting ready to go to the office my morning meeting got cancelled and then the afternoon meeting too got postponed and suddenly I smelled a golden opportunity to go to Dhama for a day. I left for the Vrindavana at 11.30am.

It was all empty roads on a hot summer day. I realised this is the best time to listen to some nice lectures and as I was browsing though my list on phone I saw the recorded lectures of Govardhan Retreat by HG Bhurijan Prabhu and HH Sacinandan Maharaj. It was a coincident that I haven’t heard this series since many months ( I listen to them regularly). The recording started with initial introduction to Govardhan retreat by HG Bhurijana Prabhu. Prabhuji then explained various wonderful pastimes of Krishna at Govardhan and then HG Madhavananda Prabhu spoke for half an hour on more pastimes of Krishna and then it was time for lecture by HH  Sacinandan Maharaj. The next 1.25 hours were sheer bliss by listening to Maharaj. I am quoting a small portion of the lecture, which I noted on my mobile while listening. I have realised that I only absorb and remember those lectures which I hear repeatedly or those which I share with devotees or those for which I make notes. The highest being when I share it with devotees, in that case too I remember only 20-30% of what I like, unless I share it with more devotees.

Maharaj quoted  7th verse from Manah Sikshah, written by Sri Raghunath Das Goswami ( I am writing the verse for the benefit of readers, Maharaj didn’t recite the full translation of the verse)

My dear mind, the despicable desire for material honor and distinction is compared to a shameless dog-eating, low-born prostitute- yet she is flagrantly dancing in my heart. How, then, can the pristine love of pure devotion to Sri Krishna even find a place in my heart ? You will simple have to serve the unalloyed devotees of the Lord, who are his intimate associates and stalwart supporters. They alone can drive out this prostitute and enthrone pure love of Godhead within my heart.

Maharaj explained that when the desire for fame enters our heart and we allow her to stay there for a long time, then she, the fame, doesn’t want to stay alone, she invites her so called husband called Envy ! She invites envy to come as she wants a union. The desire for fame always invites envy of others who are more famous than us, better than us in so many other ways. And then this couple produce two children

1. aggressiveness towards others

2. criticism of others.

Maharaj added that if we let the desire for fame enter our heart then all the Vaiahanava qualities leave us. Good night sunshine !! So this desire for fame needs to be thrown out and we need to remain very conscious of it rather remain vigilant for even a small such desire because even if it is unintentional, it will cause havoc. The desire of fame is described as a dog eating witch by Raghunath Goswami ! (I read earlier that Srila Raghunath Das Goswami is the prayojan acharya, the one who takes us to our ultimate goal.)

Maharaj further added another gem by stating that

it is not for the recognition of others that we should our bhakti, it is for the recognition of Krishna. This is what we want, not that we are recognised as something special and something good. We want that Krishna is recognised.

What wonderful lines and realisation for me. I never ever thought like this before. I aspire to become a good devotee and a good disciple but never thought for a single second that I am doing my bhakti for the recognition of Krishna, which means consciously or unconsciously I am doing my bhakti for my ownself, my own fame.

Maharaj explained that `pratishtha’ is like poison and if we swallow it then ufff ! it will destroy you from inside. Maharaj added that whenever fame comes to us, as we do some good service, and we generally say this is all due to the mercy of my Guru Maharaj. Maharaj said don’t say such words because we want to be known as a very good disciple, say it because we should feel (and say) that on my own I am not good for anything and whatever good is there it is because someone else gave it to me.

What is the solution ? One should serve those who are dear to the Lord. Only a pure devotee of the Lord can throw out this `witch’ of fame, and her associates, who are in our heart, and then bring the great king of love, Krishna,  on the throne of our heart.

I pray at the lotus feet of HH Sacinandan Maharaj and beg him to bless me that I always remember this one line and do my bhakti only for the recognition of Krishna.

(we can listen and download all the earlier Govardhan retreats lectures at http://www.vihe.org/audio_lectures.html, scroll down to HH Sacinandana Swami, HG Bhurijan Prabhu, HG Jagattarini Mataji, then click again and we will find links to all the earlier  recorded lectures from earlier retreats)

All glories to HH Sacinandan Maharaj.

After I took the left turn from the highway for Sri Radha Kund, and passed through villages, there were lush green fields on both sides.

Vrindavan

I reached Sri Radha Kund around 3 pm. We drove right till the Radha Kunda, as the market and the lanes were deserted. I got down from the car a local panda (local priest) arrived from no where, probably the car acted as a cue. The road outside was so hot that I could not walk a single step barefoot.

 

photo 2

I entered Sri Radha Kunda, paid my obeisances on the steps and then took bath in the shaded portion of the Kunda. The water was surprising not at all warm. I paid my respects, seek forgiveness for entering the holy water, being completely unqualified, I shared what all was agitating me and then I prayed with all my heart to show me a way. After the bath, the panda `cajoled’ me to offer arti and made me donate some rice and dal as today was `amvasaya’. I requested him that I needed the pictures of Sri Radha Kund and Govardhan and the panda helped me by taking me to a shop and I found just the right picture and size for my altar. I was so happy to see these pictures that I wanted to hug the panda. I was looking for them since last one year and could not get them anywhere. HG Vidurpriya Prabhuji had told me earlier that They will come when They want to and not when I want, so today They agreed.

Sri Radha Kund ki Jai !

I had earlier planned to visit only Sri Radha Kund and then go straight to Vrindavan but after listening to the retreat lectures, and now getting a beautiful picture of Giriraj, I felt inspired to pay my obeisances to Sri Govardhan. I told the driver to go to Govardhan, we drove till the main market and then took the left turn.

And there He was, an effulgent and majestically standing Govardhan.

image4

I filled my eyes with His beauty, paid dandavat pranam, thanked Him, and left for Vrindavan with Vraja dhooli on my forehead.

I had a quick lunch in the car, which my wife had packed for the office. By the time I reached the temple it was almost 4.25 pm. I bought a pair of rose garlands for Sri Krishna Balram and entered the temple. Whenever I enter Sri Krishna Balram temple it is an indescribable feeling. It is like coming back to my real home, or as I have shared earlier, coming back to the home of my grandfather. I know someone is waiting who loves me, without judging me, or I may add,  someone who loves me despite knowing who really I am.

As I entered inside, a soft melodious kirtan was going by the 24 hour kirtan party. I first paid my obeisances to Srila Prabhupada, thanked him profusely for inspiring me to come here and begged him to engage me in his transcendental movement. And after paying dandavat at the closed altar I went and met HG Ganshyam Prabahu, who was part of the Kirtan party. He is a very simple and sincere devotee who serves HH Janananda Maharaj. I gave him the parcel which HG Shyam Sundar Prabhu had sent for him. Suddenly the conchshell blew and it was time for Their Lordship to see us.

The beauty of Deities at Vrindavan is beyond words, They always look so fresh, so beautiful, so stunning, so captivating, so charming, words fail to describe Them.

29thapril2014_429thapril2014_1

 

After paying my obeisances and thanking Them for letting me come there, I stood there admiring Their beauty, alternating between all the three altars, each one more munificent, more sublime and simply divine.

The kirtan was now going on with more vigor. A hall which was empty 5 minutes back was full of dancing devotees.

photo 411

 

As I came into the temple courtyard I saw devotees doing the service for rubbing chandan for the chandan Yatra. HG Ganshyam prabhu came out and graciously got me some mahaprasadam. He saw me looking at the devotees who were doing the service of rubbing chandan and he asked if I would like to do it ? My heart jumped and I said Yes please ! He went to the Prabhuji who was in charge of the service and requested him to allow me to do the service for sometime. Prabhuji asked my credentials and whether I am following all the 4 regulative principles strictly and chanting my rounds, and after my affirmative answer Prabhuji allowed me to take up the service. I was so delighted as I could get a direct service for the Lord. I didn’t sit idle for a single minute today, what a good fortune, all mercy of Mahaprabhu, Srila Prabhupada and the devotees.

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Later, I went to Srila Prabhupda’s samadhi and thanked him again for inspiring me to come to Sri Vrindavan dham and sought his causeless mercy to engage me in his movement and begged for intelligence to serve his servants and their servants with all my heart and without any prejudice. I wanted to cry at his feet but no tears came out of my dry stone like heart.

SP-samadhi-

I left the temple around 5.50pm to meet HG Damodar Prabhu, a very knowledgeable and yet a very humble devotee. I reached his home at 6pm and spent 30 wonderful minutes with him. After initial greetings I asked Prabhuji how can I read Caitanaya Caritramrita better and learn to recite the Bengali verses. Prabhuji instructed me that I should not just the read the translation, which is what I do, but also read the verses, even if I can’t pronounce them properly. Prabhuji said that there is no difference between Sri Caitanaya Caritramrita and Sri Caitanya Mahāprabhu and whenever I read Caitanaya Caritramrita I must first pray to Mahaprabhu and if Mahraprabhu is pleased then reading and reciting Bengali verses would suddenly become a cakewalk. Jai!

When Prabhuji had last come to Gurgaon, he had sung `Hari Haraye Namah Krsna Yadavaya Namah’ and `Bhaja re bhaj re amar mana ati manda’ bhajans. These two bhajans remain firmly imbibed in my heart for the melodious and absorbing way Prabhuji sang them. He had literally taken me to the transcendental world while singing them. So my second  question was how can I learn to sing Vaishnava Bhajans as I have developed a longing to learn them but I do not have any musical sense or voice. Prabhuji smiled and replied that to sing Vaishanava bhajans we do not need to be an expert in tunes or require any special singing skills as they need to come out from our heart. When I said that in my case the heart also does not have any feeling or purity, Prabhuji told me to pray to the goswamis and practice them everyday and I should get them. He also told me that I can listen to bhanjans by Sri Akinchan Krishnadas Babaji Maharaj, Srila Prabhupada’s godbrother, who used to chant almost 24 hours a day and hear how by simply playing a basic kartal tune and with a not so melodious voice he still takes the listener to another realm by his simple bhajans.  I promised myself that I am going to learn few bhajans, which I can sing alone in my coarse voice and see if I can glorify the Lord. I left his association around 6.30pm for back to Gurgaon.

This short trip proved to be one of my best trips as by the mercy of the Lord I could absorb most of the time remembering Krishna,  listening about Krishna, got darshan of Sri Radha Kunda, Sri Govardhan, Deities at Krishna Balram temple, goy to do the chandan service for the Lord and then got devotee association with HG Ganshyam Prabhu and HG Damodar Prabhu. I spoke to HG Shyam Sundar Prabhuji for sometime and then chanted almost all the way back to home. My agitated heart was calm, filled with love and an increasing inspiration to do something more in the service of Krishna, Srila Prabhupada and Guru.

 

All glories to Sri Vrindavan Dhama.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gaurnaga.