The last verse which Arjuna speaks in Bhagavad Gita, has many gems for us.
नष्टो मोहः स्मृतिर्लब्धा त्वत्प्रसादान्मयाच्युत।
स्थितोऽस्मि गतसन्देहः करिष्ये वचनं तव।।18.73।।
Arjuna said: My dear Krishna, O infallible one, my illusion is now gone. I have regained my memory by Your mercy. I am now ﬁrm and free from doubt and am prepared to act according to Your instructions.
Now let us try to churn this verse.
My dear Kṛṣṇa: Krishna is our dear friend , suhṛdaṁ sarva-bhūtānāṁ , actually Krishna is our only real friend, and He never let’s His devotee down.
O infallible one:Krishna is known as Achytua .
He never fails in His affection for His devotees, and thus He is addressed herein as infallible…..In all circumstances, He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Krishna is absolute and remains so under all conditions, Krishna is glorified in every single form or lila he manifests. Whether he takes birth inside a prison in Mathura and present Himself as a fully decorated newly born baby with four arms in front of his wonderstruck parents, or while playing games with his cowherd friends in Vrindavan or stealing butter from the homes of gopis, or running away from battle- ‘Ranchorh’, even when he manifest Himself as a stone, Shaligram, He is the same Krishna. Like an actor Krishna comes in various guises, sometimes as a bird (swan), as an animal (boar), as a fish or what’s more dramatic than bursting out of a pillar as half lion-half man! His supreme position is never challenged, He is the infallible master in all circumstances.
my illusion is now gone: What is my present consciousness? Am I still living under an illusion even after being in the movement for so long. Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport – In illusion the living entity is serving in this material world. He is bound by his lust and desires, yet he thinks of himself as the master of the world. This is called illusion.
Am I living a life where I think that I am the controller, I am the master and I am the enjoyer? Am I gradually developing the consciousness of being a servant of Krishna, which should be my only identity, rest are simply the services Krishna has given me.
The best way to destroy illusion is by daily reading Srila prabhupada’s books. How much is my daily reading?
I have regained my memory: Have I regained me memory as an eternal servant of Krishna? What is my consciousness while interacting with my family, my colleagues at work, …
Srila Prabhupada gives us a very simple solution to revive our lost memory
One’s memory of Kṛṣṇa is revived by chanting the mahā-mantra, Hare Kṛṣṇa. By this practice of chanting and hearing the sound vibration of the Supreme Lord, one’s ear, tongue and mind are engaged. This mystic meditation is very easy to practice, and it helps one attain the Supreme Lord.
How sincerely am I trying to chant my 16 rounds?
by Your mercy: We should know by now that we cannot succeed by our own efforts alone. However if our efforts are sincere, and honest, then it will attract Krishna’s mercy. The two finger principle-
Thus although mother Yasoda, in her attempt to bind Krishna, added one rope after another, ultimately she was a failure. When Krishna agreed, however, she was successful. In other words, one must be in transcendental love with Krishna, but that does not mean that one can control Krishna . When Krishna is satisfied with one’s devotional service, He does everything Himself…He reveals more and more to the devotee as the devotee advances in service.
Krishna says in BG 15.15 mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca, from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness.
Everything- remembrance, knowledge, forgetfulness is coming from Krishna, everything is in the lotus like hands of Sri Govindadev!
I am now ﬁrm: to make progress in bhakti we need to be firm in our enthusiasm, determination and patience! Without them it will be difficult to make progress. We have to be firm in following the process given by Srila Prabhupada, follow four regulative principles, try to chant 16 sincere rounds, everyday read Srila Prabhupada’s books and regularly associate with devotees who are senior than us.
and free from doubt: One way to become free from doubt is by asking questions. Asking questions is a sign of intelligence. We should clear our doubts without hesitation or feeling embarrassed in front of others. Arjuna asked so many questions from Krishna in Bhagavad Gita. Srimad Bhagavatam is all about questions and answers. This is the way to clear our doubts.
Guru Maharaj once told us that even if you do not have any question and may think I have understood everything, still we should ask question so that we can verify if I have understood correctly!
and am prepared: Our primary method to prepare ourselves is by regular Sravanam kirtanam but we should not forget the golden rule which Srila Prabhupada repeated multiple times sevonmukhe hi jihvādau.
To associate with the holy name and chant the holy name is to associate with the Personality of Godhead directly. In the Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu it is clearly said, sevonmukhe hi jihvädau svayam eva sphuraty adaù [Brs. 1.2.234]. The holy name becomes manifest when one engages in the service of the holy name. This service in a submissive attitude begins with one’s tongue. Sevonmukhe hi jihvädau: One must engage his tongue in the service of the holy name. Our Krishna consciousness movement is based on this principle. We try to engage all the members of the Krishna consciousness movement in the service of the holy name. Since the holy name and Krishna are nondifferent, the members of the Krishna consciousness movement not only chant the holy name of the Lord offenselessly, but also do not allow their tongues to eat anything that is not first offered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
(CC Adi 8.16p)
to act: Bhakti means action, action in knowledge and with love. That is why Srila Prabhupada translated bhakti as devotional service not devotion. Love means reciprocation, which naturally culminates in loving service. My actions, coupled with the consciousness with which I am doing it, will attract Krishna’s mercy.
according to Your instructions: To advance in Krishna consciousness we should receive instructions from our diksha/shiksha guru. Generally we may not receive any direct instructions from our guru because we may not have the qualification to follow them. We can, however, prepare ourselves to receive direct instructions by following the primary instruction given at the time of initiation – chant 16 rounds offenselessly!
In the Bhagavad-gétä (18.66) Lord Krishna instructs His disciple Arjuna, “Just surrender unto Me, and I shall protect you from all sinful reactions.” And Arjuna accepts Krishna’s instruction with the words kariñye vacanaà tava: “I will do as You say.” (Bhagavad-gétä 18.73) If we follow Arjuna’s example, we will be in direct contact with Krishna, and we will be able to surmount all difficulties in both our spiritual and material life. We hear the instructions of Krishna via the unbroken chain of disciplic succession (guru-paramparä). Acceptance of these instructions is called çikñä, or voluntarily following the instruction of the spiritual master. The independent nature of the living entity is that he does not want to follow the instructions of another living being, however pure. But when one voluntarily agrees to obey the orders of the spiritual master, one is following the orders of Krishna, and thus one’s life becomes perfect.
All the Upanisads are like a cow, and the milker of the cow is Lord Shri Krishna, the son of Nanda. Arjuna is the calf, the beautiful nectar of the Gita is the milk, and the fortunate devotees of fine theistic intellect are the drinkers and enjoyers of that milk.
(Gita Mahatmya, verse 6)
Taking a cue from the above, if all the Upanishads are like a cow then
Srimad Bhagavatam is like a Surabhi cow, and the milker of this Surabhi cow is Śukadeva Gosvāmī. Parīkṣit’s Maharaj is the calf, the ‘rasa’ or mellow of devotional service is the milk, and the paramahaṁsas, devotees who are already on the liberated platform, are the drinkers and enjoyers of this milk.
One should learn how to associate with the devotees of the Lord by gathering with them to chant the glories of the Lord. This process is most purifying. As devotees thus develop their loving friendship, they feel mutual happiness and satisfaction. And by thus encouraging one another they are able to give up material sense gratification, which is the cause of all suffering.
Let us pray to the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada as we try to churn every line of this verse, simply by his mercy may we be blessed with just a few drops from it!
One should learn how to associate with the devotees of the Lord: To be able to progress in Krishna consciousness and proceed towards the madhyam culture, we need to associate with devotees and develop friendship with them.This is not something which comes naturally to many of us. Bhagavatam knows our conditioning, so it is directing us to ‘learn it’. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that Love for Krishna is reflected as friendship with devotees in the material world, they are two sides of the same coin. Sometimes we may excuse ourselves by saying ‘I am an introvert’ or ‘it isn’t my nature to mix with everyone’ but if we wish to make progress in spiritual journey then it is very important to develop friendship with other devotees. We can begin by regularly associating with like minded devotees. We have to shift towards our ‘real’ nature, what is practiced in Goloka.
By gathering with them to chant the glories of the Lord: What do we do when we associate with devotees? Do we share some juicy gossip, of course about the devotees only, after all we are concerned with them only or do we share some tricky temple issue, where we ourselves have no influence, or discuss some scandal or ask about the weather or family or so many other topics? Bhagavatam is saying meet and chant the glories of the Lord.
A devotee once shared how he once saw two Mathura Brahmins who met after many years. When these two Brahmins saw each other from a distance they started pacing towards each other and then as they came closer the devotee saw that both of them were reciting Bhagavatam verses loudly! The devotee said he was very surprised to witness such an interaction where instead of talking about well being, family, kids, etc. they were spontaneously reciting Bhagavatam verses one after another.
We can appreciate as the strong attachment of Brahmins to Srimad Bhagavatam came out naturally. We can’t imitate them but we can definitely take an inspiration from them and also understand that such strong attachment for Srimad Bhagvatam verses is resulting from a strong attachment to daily reading of Srimad Bhagavatam.
This process is most purifying: Our bonafide process for internal purification is Sravanam Kirtanam. This has been stressed repeatedly in Srimad Bhagavatam and hundreds of times by Srila Prabhupada in his lectures and purports. Its a very simple and yet effective process.
These nine processes, of which the easiest is çravaëam, hearing the Bhagavad-gétä from the realized person, will turn one to the thought of the Supreme Being. This will lead to remembering the Supreme Lord and will enable one, upon leaving the body, to attain a spiritual body which is just fit for association with the Supreme Lord.
As devotees thus develop their loving friendship, they feel mutual happiness and satisfaction: Srimad Bhagavatam is again stressing that we need to develop, and cultivate, loving friendship with devotees. It may not come naturally to us in the beginning therefore we need to practice it consciously (not artificially). We will then feel satisfaction, resulting in increased mutual enthusiasm for Krishna consciousness, a feeling of satisfaction and a happiness from within.
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura describes the transcendental symptom of those devotees who have developed a real taste for hearing & chanting the glories of Krishna, in the association of other devotees, in his commentary of SB 1.5.11 –
The devotees hear, and having heard, sing, and having sung, again they hear, since they are not fully satiated. Or if a speaker is present, they hear the glories. If a hearer is present they speak the glories . And, otherwise, they spontaneously sing the glories.
And by thus encouraging one another they are able to give up material sense gratification, which is the cause of all suffering: At our level, one big reason for not progressing in Krishna consciousness is not our inability to chant additional rounds, memorise more verses, and so on but simply because we still have desires (consciously or subconsciously) to enjoy this material world. We very well know that the result of all such desires will be that we come back here again and again.
Now do we know of a more easier, and simpler process, to give up sense gratification than described above? What is aimed, and rarely achieved, by big big jnanis and yogis, can be very easily, and joyfully, achieved even by aspiring devotees. Sometimes our mind may find few solutions sound too easy to be true but then we underestimate the mercy of Krishna and the potency of Srimad Bhagavatam.
The result of such association with devotees is very sweetly described in the purport of this verse –
Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura has pointed out that glorification of the Supreme Lord is especially potent when performed in the association of pure devotees. When devotees engage in saṅkīrtana, chanting the glories of the Lord together, they experience the highest transcendental bliss and satisfaction. Thus they encourage one another to give up material sense gratification, which is based on illicit sexual connections with women. One devotee will say to another, “Oh, you have given up sense gratification. Starting today, I shall also give it up.”
Srila Prabhupada sums up!
A place immediately becomes Vaikuṇṭha whenever the holy topics of the Personality of Godhead are discussed by pure devotees. This is the process of śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ, chanting and hearing about the Supreme Lord, Viṣṇu. As the Supreme Lord Himself confirms:
“My dear Nārada, actually I do not reside in My abode, Vaikuṇṭha, nor do I reside within the hearts of the yogīs, but I reside in that place where My pure devotees chant My holy name and discuss My form, pastimes and qualities.” Because of the presence of the Lord in the form of the transcendental vibration, the Vaikuṇṭha atmosphere is evoked.
I pray that by the mercy and potency of Srila Prabhupada we can all taste some butter from this milk we tried to churn today.
Today is the appearance day of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, the spiritual master of Srila Prabhupada.
Few weeks ago a senior Vaishnava shared a revolutionary article by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, which I am sharing with you below. It is deep and very insightful and can give us key(s) to make a very rapid progress in Krishna consciousness by changing our outlook towards the world and our selves.
“The world stands in no need of any reformer. The world has a very competent person for guiding its minutest happenings. The person who determines that there is scope for reform of the world, himself stands in need of reform. The world goes on in its own perfect way.
No person can deflect it even the breadth of a hair from the course chalked out for it by providence. When we perceive any change being actually effected in the course of events of this world by the agency of any particular individual, we must know very well that the agent possesses no real power at any stage. The agent finds himself driven forward by a force belonging to a different category from himself. The course of the world does not require to be changed by the agency of any person. What is necessary is to change our outlook on this world.
This was done for the contemporary generation by the mercy of Sri Caitanya. It can only be known to recipients of his mercy. The scriptures declare that it is only necessary to listen with an open mind to the name of Krishna from the lips of a bonafide devotee. As soon as Krishna enters the listening ear, he clears up the vision of the listener so that he no longer has any ambition of ever acting the part of a reformer of any other person, because he finds that nobody is left without the very highest guidance. It is therefore his own reform that he is increasingly able to realize, by the eternally continuing mercy of the Supreme Lord.”
(Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur in The Harmonist, May 1932, issue no. 11)
At first go it may look like going against the preaching spirit of the devotees, but the above golden lines are like the light from the spiritual lighthouse by which all of us, preachers included, can seek the right direction, remain grounded and persist on the right track. If we carefully read above lines repeatedly, and contemplate on them, then we can unlock many a closed doors that may be blocking our progress in Krishna consciousness and receive profound wisdom available via disciplic succession.
As I sat relishing the above lines, trying, unsuccessfully, to seek entry to the above, the famous verse from Sri Isopanisad came into my consciousness.
The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the Complete Whole is also complete in itself. Because He is the Complete Whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance.
(Sri Isopanisad, invocation)
Srila Prabhupada imbibed this very mood!
“Actually I am not worthy of any one of the words spoken by you but all of them are due to my Spiritual Master Who was so kind to me. In fact I am a worthless person because my Spiritual Master ordered me to take up this work in 1922 but I did not carry his order until 1958, when I was obliged to carry out His order by His arrangement only. This means although I was not very enthusiastic to carry out His order He forced me circumstantially to accept it. So this is His special mercy upon me and I always think about this with gratitude to this exalted personality coming directly from Vaikuntha World and we had the great fortune to meet Him. I think that is the only credit on our part that we happened to meet Him by some ‘ajnata sukriti’ or unknown auspicious activities. He is so kind upon me that when I came to your country, where I was completely unknown, He sent to me some good souls like you unsolicited. So I accept you all as assistants or representatives of my Guru Maharaja Who is still helping me because I am so feeble and unworthy. Anyway, the business which we have taken to work together is neither your business nor my business as far we are personally concerned, but it is the business of Lord Caitanya and His bona fide servants like my Guru Maharaja. Therefore it is the duty of all of us to execute it as nicely as far as possible within our capacity. In other words, we shall just try to discharge our responsible duties faithfully and seriously, then all facilities will come for our help.”
(Srila Prabhupada Letter to Hayagriva dasa, January 1, 1970)
“My Spiritual Master has given me the instruction to spread this movement all over the world and you are my good disciples, are helping me do this. Without your good help I could not have done anything, so practically you can take all the credit for spreading this Krishna Consciousness movement and fulfilling the prophecy of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. If there is some incident and I claim that no one is cooperating with me or no one will work with me, that is my defect, not theirs. The Vaisnava devotee must think like this. We should not find fault with others and criticize and go away, that is not the Vaisnava way. Better we should always be willing to offer all respects to others and consider them as our superiors always.”
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, August 26, 1972)
This is the ‘safest’ way to make real progress!
Devotee: You must be higher than the paramahamsa stage, Prabhupada.
Prabhupada: I am lower than you. I am lower than you.
Devotee: You are so beautiful. You are paramahamsa, but still, you are preaching to us.
Prabhupada: No, I am lower than you. I am the lowest of the all creatures. I am simply trying to execute the order of my spiritual master. That’s all. That should be the business of everyone. Try best. Try your best to execute the higher order. That is the safest way of progressing. One may be in the lowest stage, but if he tries to execute the duty entrusted upon him, he is perfect. He may be in lowest stage, but because he is trying to execute the duty entrusted to him, then he is perfect. That is the consideration.”
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Surat, December 19, 1970)
Srila Prabhupada’s secret- he knew who was actually doing it !
“Therefore sometimes, when people say in India, ‘Swamiji, you have done wonderful.’ And yes, I do not know. I’m not a magician. But, so far I am confident that I did not adulterate the words of Krishna. That’s all. That’s my credit. I did not like to take the position of Krishna. I remained a servant of Krishna, and I spoke what Krishna said. That’s all. This is my secret. So everyone can do that. There is nothing magic. The magic will act as soon as you become a pure devotee of Krishna. The magic will be done by Krishna, not by me or you. He will do it.
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Los Angeles, May 19, 1972)
I could not post the blog for a long time as life turned a bit busy, please forgive me for this laxity.
Yesterday morning I read the very beautiful, and famous, verse from Srimad Bhagavatam and now sharing the same with you.
This particular chapter, SB 10.14, describes the Brahmā ji’s prayers to Lord Kṛṣṇa. Brahmā ji first praised the beauty of the Lord’s transcendental limbs and then declared that Krishna’s original identity of sweetness is even more difficult to comprehend than His opulence. And only by the devotional process of hearing and chanting transcendental sounds received from Vedic authorities can one realize the Personality of Godhead. It is fruitless to try to realize God through processes outside the scope of Vedic authority.
Brahmā ji is praying to Lord Krishna:
My dear Lord, devotional service unto You is the best path for self-realization. If someone gives up that path and engages in the cultivation of speculative knowledge, he will simply undergo a troublesome process and will not achieve his desired result. As a person who beats an empty husk of wheat cannot get grain, one who simply speculates cannot achieve self-realization. His only gain is trouble.
O almighty Lord, in the past many yogīs in this world achieved the platform of devotional service by offering all their endeavors unto You and faithfully carrying out their prescribed duties. Through such devotional service, perfected by the processes of hearing and chanting about You, they came to understand You, O infallible one, and could easily surrender to You and achieve Your supreme abode.
Then comes the gem of a verse wherein Brahmā ji reveals that to go back to Godhead a devotee simply has to patiently tolerate his past karmic reactions in this lifetime, while sincerely & seriously practicing Krishna consciousness! This may sound too good to be true or too easy but these are the words from Srimad Bhagavatam, Amala Purana, spoken by Brahmā ji, who also happens to be the head of our sampradaya. Srila Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura said that this verse describes Bhakti.
tat te ’nukampāṁ su-samīkṣamāṇo
bhuñjāna evātma-kṛtaṁ vipākam
hṛd-vāg-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te
jīveta yo mukti-pade sa dāya-bhāk
My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim.
In his purport Srila Prabhupada too reveals an ‘inside’ secret as to how even those apparent karmic reactions are also actually a favour by the most merciful Krishna. Many of us may have read this verse before but as we read and reread it our conviction for the scientific process of Krishna consciousness, and the amazing journey we are in, goes few notches higher. It also helps us appreciate how compassionate is Krishna towards His devotees. And that only is Krishna silently working to get us back home but He is very much looking forward to see us soon.
Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī explains in his commentary that just as a legitimate son has to simply remain alive to gain an inheritance from his father, one who simply remains alive in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, following the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga, automatically becomes eligible to receive the mercy of the Personality of Godhead. In other words, he will be promoted to the kingdom of God.
The word su-samīkṣamāṇa indicates that a devotee earnestly awaits the mercy of the Supreme Lord even while suffering the painful effects of previous sinful activities. Lord Kṛṣṇa explains in the Bhagavad-gītā that a devotee who fully surrenders unto Him is no longer liable to suffer the reactions of his previous karma. However, because in his mind a devotee may still maintain the remnants of his previous sinful mentality, the Lord removes the last vestiges of the enjoying spirit by giving His devotee punishments that may sometimes resemble sinful reactions. The purpose of the entire creation of God is to rectify the living entity’s tendency to enjoy without the Lord, and therefore the particular punishment given for a sinful activity is specifically designed to curtail the mentality that produced the activity. Although a devotee has surrendered to the Lord’s devotional service, until he is completely perfect in Kṛṣṇa consciousness he may maintain a slight inclination to enjoy the false happiness of this world. The Lord therefore creates a particular situation to eradicate this remaining enjoying spirit. This unhappiness suffered by a sincere devotee is not technically a karmic reaction; it is rather the Lord’s special mercy for inducing His devotee to completely let go of the material world and return home, back to Godhead.
A sincere devotee earnestly desires to go back to the Lord’s abode. Therefore he willingly accepts the Lord’s merciful punishment and continues offering respects and obeisances to the Lord with his heart, words and body. Such a bona fide servant of the Lord, considering all hardship a small price to pay for gaining the personal association of the Lord, certainly becomes a legitimate son of God, as indicated here by the words dāya-bhāk. Just as one cannot approach the sun without becoming fire, one cannot approach the supreme pure, Lord Kṛṣṇa, without undergoing a rigid purificatory process, which may appear like suffering but which is in fact a curative treatment administered by the personal hand of the Lord.
So we can appreciate how unique is our journey in Krishna Consciousness. How even the aspiring devotees remain under the direct shelter of the lotus feet of Krishna. We just need to remain sincere & serious, practice tolerance and be simple hearted. Then there is no faster route back to Godhead.
Now it is up to us to decide if sincerity, simplicity and tolerance are too high a price to pay for gaining the personal association of Lord?
I read verse 4.42 from Bhagavad Gita today morning and its amazing purport where Srila Prabhupada not only gives us the summary of the whole chapter 4 but also gives us many keys to open different levels of transcendental knowledge. The chapter itself is titled transcendental knowledge. I am sharing the same. Please chew it slowly.
tasmäd ajïäna-sambhütaà håt-sthaà jïänäsinätmanaù
chittvainaà saàçayaà yogam ätiñöhottiñöha bhärata
Therefore the doubts which have arisen in your heart out of ignorance should be slashed by the weapon of knowledge. Armed with yoga, O Bharata, stand and fight.
The yoga system instructed in this chapter is called sanätana-yoga, or eternal activities performed by the living entity. This yoga has two divisions of sacrificial actions: one is called sacrifice of one’s material possessions, and the other is called knowledge of self, which is pure spiritual activity. If sacrifice of one’s material possessions is not dovetailed for spiritual realization, then such sacrifice becomes material. But one who performs such sacrifices with a spiritual objective, or in devotional service, makes a perfect sacrifice. When we come to spiritual activities, we find that these are also divided into two: namely, understanding of one’s own self (or one’s constitutional position), and the truth regarding the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One who follows the path of Bhagavad-gétä as it is can very easily understand these two important divisions of spiritual knowledge. For him there is no difficulty in obtaining perfect knowledge of the self as part and parcel of the Lord. And such understanding is beneficial, for such a person can easily understand the transcendental activities of the Lord. In the beginning of this chapter, the transcendental activities of the Lord were discussed by the Supreme Lord Himself. One who does not understand the instructions of the Gétä is faithless, and is to be considered to be misusing the fragmental independence awarded to him by the Lord. In spite of such instructions, one who does not understand the real nature of the Lord as the eternal, blissful, all-knowing Personality of Godhead is certainly fool number one. Ignorance can be removed by gradual acceptance of the principles of Kåñëa consciousness. Kåñëa consciousness is awakened by different types of sacrifices to the demigods, sacrifice to Brahman, sacrifice in celibacy, in household life, in controlling the senses, in practicing mystic yoga, in penance, in forgoing material possessions, in studying the Vedas, and in partaking of the social institution called varëäçrama-dharma. All of these are known as sacrifice, and all of them are based on regulated action. But within all these activities, the important factor is self-realization. One who seeks that objective is the real student of Bhagavad-gétä, but one who doubts the authority of Kåñëa falls back. One is therefore advised to study Bhagavad-gétä, or any other scripture, under a bona fide spiritual master, with service and surrender. A bona fide spiritual master is in the disciplic succession from time eternal, and he does not deviate at all from the instructions of the Supreme Lord as they were imparted millions of years ago to the sun-god, from whom the instructions of Bhagavad-gétä have come down to the earthly kingdom. One should, therefore, follow the path of Bhagavad-gétä as it is expressed in the Gétä itself and beware of self-interested people after personal aggrandizement who deviate others from the actual path. The Lord is definitely the supreme person, and His activities are transcendental. One who understands this is a liberated person from the very beginning of his study of Bhagavad-gétä.
This is a gem of a purport and is so potent that one can achieve liberation simply by carefully studying and applying its essence.
HG Bhurijana Prabhu divides this purport into five sections in his book Surrender unto me. Inspired from those titles I am adding little comments.
The Goal of sacrifice (Part 1)
Sacrifices themselves are not the goal. They are means to achieve a goal. The same sacrifice could result in a material or spiritual goal depending simply on the consciousness with which we are doing it.
Today is Ekadasi. Many people in India keep Ekadasi fast, some out of family tradition, some have heard or read about the unlimited piety it brings but devotees keep it simply to please Krishna. So the same sacrifice will culminate in different results for the different people though the act of sacrifice is apparently the same. So our purpose should always be spiritual. Srila Prabhupada writes
One who performs such sacriﬁces with a spiritual objective, or in devotional service, makes a perfect sacriﬁce.
2. Two levels of spiritual knowledge
a) understanding of one’s own self (or one’s constitutional position), and
b) the truth regarding the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Srila Prabhupada gives the synopsis of this transcendental knowledge in his purport of BG 4.35
For want of sufﬁcient knowledge in the absolute science, we are now covered with illusion, and therefore we think that we are separate from Kṛṣṇa. Although we are separated parts of Kṛṣṇa, we are nevertheless not different from Him. The bodily difference of the living entities is māyā, or not actual fact. We are all meant to satisfy Kṛṣṇa. By māyā alone Arjuna thought that the temporary bodily relationship with his kinsmen was more important than his eternal spiritual relationship with Kṛṣṇa. The whole teaching of the Gītā is targeted toward this end: that a living being, as Kṛṣṇa’s eternal servitor, cannot be separated from Kṛṣṇa, and his sense of being an identity apart from Kṛṣṇa is called māyā. The living entities, as separate parts and parcels of the Supreme, have a purpose to fulﬁll. Having forgotten that purpose since time immemorial, they are situated in different bodies, as men, animals, demigods, etc. Such bodily differences arise from forgetfulness of the transcendental service of the Lord. But when one is engaged in transcendental service through Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one becomes at once liberated from this illusion.
3. Transcendental nature of Supreme Lord
In the beginning verses of this chapter Krishna spoke how He first gave this transcendental knowledge to sun-god, Vivasvān, millions of years ago and it was being passed down via parampara but then it got lost. And how Krishna, unlike Arjuna, remembers all His previous births. Then Krishna declares in BG 4.6
Although I am unborn and My transcendental body never deteriorates, and although I am the Lord of all living entities, I still appear in every millennium in My original transcendental form.
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport
In spite of such instructions, one who does not understand the real nature of the Lord as the eternal, blissful, all-knowing Personality of Godhead is certainly fool number one.
4. The Goal of sacrifice (part 2)
They are so many different kinds of sacrifices mentioned in vedas and , Srila Prabhupada, writes
All of them are based on regulated action. But within all these activities, the important factor is self-realization. One who seeks that objective is the real student of Bhagavad-Gita.
Even big big jnanis and yogis, what to speak of normal people, get bewildered as to what exactly self realisation means. Actual self realisation means God realisation. They may sound different but are firmly inter-linked.
Self realization means God realization, and God realization means self realization. Just like to see the sun means to see oneself, and to see oneself means to see the sun. Self realization depends completely upon God realization, or else it is not complete. One must know his relationship to the Absolute Truth to fully know his position. The mayavadi school simply discerns spirit from matter, but that is not Ultimate Knowledge. One should know the different manifestations of the spirit also. The highest manifestation of the spirit soul is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna.
(letter to Vilasavigraha Prabhu, 22nd Jan 1969)
5. Properly learning transcendental knowledge
One should learn this knowledge from a bonafide spiritual master coming in the authorised line of disciplic succession. Krishna says in BG 4.2
This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.
Arjuna, Krishna’s friend & devotee, also an eternal associate of Krishna, become an instrument to give this knowledge to the whole world. Similarly Srila Prabhupada, not only a great devotee of Lord Krishna and one of the greatest acharayas in last hundred years, coming in the line of exalted Gaudia vaishanavas, also an eternal associate of Krishna, became an instrument to spread this transcendental knowledge worldwide.
Why it is so important to hear this from a bonafide spiritual master?
Srila Prabhupada writes
he does not deviate at all from the instructions of the Supreme Lord as they were imparted
So the message is passed on ‘as it is’ without any deviation or personal interpretation. That’s why ISKCON’S version of Bhagavad Gita is called Bhagavad Gita As it is.
And what will be the result of following all the above points sincerely?
Srila Prabhupada writes at the end of his purport
One who understands this is a liberated person from the very beginning of his study of Bhagavad-gītā.
It is simply our good fortune that we have somehow taken shelter of Srila Prabhupada’s lotus feet and are trying to become Krishna consciousness. Where else can one read a verse from one of the begining chapters of Bhagavad and not only get the summary of the whole chapter but if one applies it with proper faith then one can get liberation at this stage itself! This is the potency of reading Bhaktivedanta purports.
I feel unqualified to understand, receive or apply this knowledge!
The qualification required to unlock the wealth in Prabhupada’s purports is simply our faith, sincerity and seriousness to become Krishna consciousness. That’s all, not how much knowledge I have or how much austerity I can perform or even my lifestyle before coming in touch with the devotees. None of this matters. What matters is how sincerely I desire and wish to change now. Our past is not a hindrance.
We all know that when bed sheets gets spoiled and strained ( say sheet used by small babies on which they have passed urine etc.). These strains on the sheets doesn’t go despite all the washing and scrubbing. But an experienced and intelligent mother knows that by hanging these sheets daily in the bright sun not only the sheet get germ free but they will also gradually becomes strain free. Similarly when we come in touch with this transcendental knowledge then not only our past karmic reactions are gone but gradually our consciousness starts becoming pure and we can make rapid progress in self realisation despite what all may have been our past life (or lives).
This is the potency and the result of regularly, and carefully, studying Srila Prabhupada’s books. Everything will get gradually revealed in our heart by his mercy and potency. This is our simple, proven and bonafide process for receiving all transcendental knowledge.
These eleven excellent instructions to the mind grant all spiritual benedictions. A person who stays with the devotees, followsÇrélaRüpaGosvämé,and with a sweet voice loudly sings these eleven verses, understanding all their meanings, will attain the matchless jewel of direct service to Çré Çré Rädhä-Kåñëa in the forest of Gokula. (12)
Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura wrote a commentary on this work entitled Bhajana-Darpaëa-Bhäñä and so he was obviously very aware of its subtleties and depth. Later he wrote Çré Çré Rüpänugä-bhajana darpaëa (A Mirror Reflecting Worship which Follows in the Footsteps of Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé). In this work, which is the fourth chapter of Géta-Mälä, Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura uses the word rupanuga numerous times.
Many years later, Çrépada Ananta Väsudeva Parävidyäbhuñana Prabhu, a brilliant disciple of Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura, composed praëäma-mantras for Çréla Jagannätha däsa Bäbäjé, Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura, Çréla Gaura Kiçora däsa Bäbäjé and Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura.
He used the word rupanuga in his glorification of both Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura and Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura:
namo bhaktivinodäya sac-cid-änanda-nämine
gaura-çakti-svarüpäya rüpänuga-varäya te
I offer my respectful obeisances unto Saccidänanda Bhaktivinoda, who is a transcendental energy of Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu. He is a strict follower of the Gosvämés, headed by Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé.
nama oà viñëu-pädäya kåñëa-preñöhäya bhü-tale
çrémate bhaktisiddhänta-sarasvatéti nämine
I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté, who is very dear to Lord Kåñëa having taken shelter at His lotus feet.
çré-gaura-karuëä-çakti-vigrahäya namo ’stu te
I offer my respectful obeisances unto you, the personified energy of Çré Caitanya’s mercy, who delivers devotional service which is enriched with conjugal love of Rädhä and Kåñëa, coming exactly in the line of revelation of Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé.
Until today, these praëäma-mantras have remained the standard within both the Gauòéya Maöha and ISKCON.
Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu is none other than the combined form of Çré Rädhä and Kåñëa. He is the life of those devotees who strictly follow in the footsteps of Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé.
Rüpa Gosvämé and Sanätana Gosvämé are the most exalted servitors of Çrématé Rädhäräëé and Lord Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu. Those who adhere to their service are known as rüpänuga devotees.
The present Kåñëa consciousness movement is based on the authority of Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé Prabhupäda. We are therefore generally known as rüpänugas, or followers in the footsteps of Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé Prabhupäda.
In Våndävana there are präkåta-sahajiyäs who say that writing books or even touching books is taboo. For them, devotional service means being relieved from these activities. Whenever they are asked to hear a recitation of Vedic literature, they refuse, saying, “What business do we have reading or hearing transcendental literatures? They are meant for neophytes.” They pose themselves as too elevated to exert energy for reading, writing and hearing. However, pure devotees under the guidance of Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé reject this sahajiyä philosophy. It is certainly not good to write literature for money or reputation, but to write books and publish them for the enlightenment of the general populace is real service to the Lord. That was Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté’s opinion, and he specifically told his disciples to write books. He actually preferred to publish books rather than establish temples. Temple construction is meant for the general populace and neophyte devotees, but the business of advanced and empowered devotees is to write books, publish them and distribute them widely. According to Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura, distributing literature is like playing on a great mådaìga. Consequently we always request members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness to publish as many books as possible and distribute them widely throughout the world. By thus following in the footsteps of Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé, one can become a rupanuga devotee.
The author of Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu, Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé, very humbly submits that he is just trying to spread Kåñëa consciousness all over the world, although he humbly thinks himself unfit for this work. That should be the attitude of all preachers of the Kåñëa consciousness movement, following in the footsteps of Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé. We should never think of ourselves as great preachers, but should always consider that we are simply instrumental to the previous äcäryas, and simply by following in their footsteps we may be able to do something for the benefit of suffering humanity.
We have to follow the footsteps of Rüpa Gosvämé, rupanuga. Then we can understand Lord Caitanya. And if we get favor of Lord Caitanya, we can very easily understand Kåñëa. This is the process.
To Be a Follower of a Rupanuga
Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé, after retiring from his minister’s seat in the government, went to Våndävana and lived beneath a tree, like Mahäräja Påthu. Since then, many people have gone to Våndävana to imitate Rüpa Gosvämé’s behavior. Instead of advancing in spiritual life, many have fallen into material habits and even in Våndävana have become victims of illicit sex, gambling and intoxication. The Kåñëa consciousness movement has been introduced in the Western countries, but it is not possible for Westerners to go to the forest and practice the severe austerities which were ideally practiced by Påthu Mahäräja or Rüpa Gosvämé. However, Westerners or anyone else can follow in the footsteps of Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura by living in a temple, which is transcendental to residence in a forest, and to vow to accept kåñëa-prasäda and nothing else, follow the regulative principles and chant sixteen rounds daily of the Hare Kåñëa mantra. In this way, one’s spiritual life will never be disturbed.
If you simply do as I am doing, not avoiding anything which may have to be done for pushing on Kåñëa’s movement, remaining always stuck up very tightly to the footsteps of Rüpa Gosvämé, then without any doubt you will remain always fresh and enthusiastic for working very energetically on Kåñëa’s behalf, without any falldown.
Spoken on 23rd December, 1936 and translated from the Bengali by Çréla Prabhupäda.
I have most probably given many people troubles in the mind. Some of them might have thought about me that I am their enemy because I was obliged to speak the plain truth for service and devotion towards the Absolute Godhead. I have given them all those troubles only for the reason that they may turn their face towards the Personality of Godhead without any desire for gain and with unalloyed devotion. I hope one day or other they may understand me rightly.
I advise all to preach the teachings of Rüpa-Raghunätha (disciples of Lord Caitanya) with all energy and resources. Our ultimate goal shall be to become the dust of the lotus feet of Çré Çré Rüpa Raghunätha Goswäméns. You should all work conjointly under the guidance of your spiritual master with a view to serve the Absolute Knowledge, the Personality of Godhead. You should live somehow or other without any quarrel in this mortal world only for the service of Godhead. Do not please give up the service of Godhead in spite of all dangers, all criticisms and all discomforts. Do not be disappointed, for most people in the world do not serve the Personality of Godhead; do not give up your own service which is your everything and all, neither reject the process of chanting and hearing of the transcendental Holy Name of Godhead. You should always chant the transcendental Name of Godhead with patience and forbearance like a tree and humbleness like a straw.
We wish that this mass of our body of flesh and blood may be sacrificed at the altar of preaching the Saìkértana movement (congregational chanting of the Holy Name of Godhead) propagated by Lord Caitanya. We are not desirous of becoming a hero of work or a reformer of religion, but our reality may be identified with the dust of the Lotus Feet of Çré Rüpa and Raghunätha for that is our everything. The flow of the transcendental tide of the attraction of devotion will never be blocked, and you with all your energy shall devote yourself for fulfilling the desire of Çréla Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura. There are many amongst you who are well qualified and able workers. We have no other desire whatsoever.
There are certainly many difficulties while we are in this mortal world but it is not our business simply to be overwhelmed with those difficulties or to try to overcome them only. We must know even during the duration of our present life, as to what we shall gain after overcoming all those difficulties of life and what shall be the mode of our permanent existence. We must make an adjustment of all things that evoke our love and hatred and for those things that we want and do not want. Attachment and detachment of this mortal world will engage us more and more as we become farther and farthest from the Lotus Feet of Çré Kåñëa. When we are able to transcend the position of attachments and detachments of this mortal world and be attracted with Holy Name of Godhead, it is then only we can understand the import of the transcendental service of Çré Kåñëa, the Personality of Godhead. At the first instance the subject Kåñëa is startling and perplexing to us. Every one who is called by the name “man” is more or less struggling knowingly or unknowingly to eliminate those invading elements which are baffling our conception of eternal need. It is our only duty to enter into the kingdom of eternal need.
We have no love or hatred for any one in this world. All arrangements made in this world are but temporary. There is, therefore, unavoidable necessity for that ultimate need for every one in this world. You should attain the transcendental loving service of the objective, being situated in concerted action for that one aim. Let there be a constant flow of the ideas and thoughts as conceived by Rüpa Goswämé and his followers. We shall not at any time show our slightest dejection for the seven tongued Saìkértana movement.* If we have undaunted faith in it we shall then only achieve all perfections.
Note : The above content is copied from AnOceanofGaura’spremämåta-kåpä – An elaboration on Srila Rupa Goswami’s Sri Upadesamrta.
This wonderful book has been compiled by H.G. Srimati Mataji (Vrindavana) and her team. I strongly recommend all the devotees to kindly to click the below link and download this amazing book. It is a careful study guide for all the aspiring Rupanugas and for every one who is interested in studying Sri Upadesamrta, Nector Of Instructions, seriously.
Many a times we read or hear about the term ‘oneness’ with God. Unfortunately, most of the time this terms is misunderstood by mayavadis as merging with God/Brahman and hence looked down upon by the devotees. Srila Prabhupada, as usual, gave us so much clarity on this term by explaining how a vaishnava practices oneness with Krishna. I read the below verse last evening and it was so nectarean, I read it repeatedly and every time I learnt something new to aspire for. I am sharing the same with all of you hoping it will help all of us clear what is actually meant by oneness with God and how to practice it in our daily life.
When the mind is thus completely freed from all material contamination and detached from material objectives, it is just like the flame of a lamp. At that time the mind is actually dovetailed with that of the Supreme Lord and is experienced as one with Him because it is freed from the interactive flow of the material qualities.
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport of the above verse:
In the material world the activities of the mind are acceptance and rejection. As long as the mind is in material consciousness, it must be forcibly trained to accept meditation on the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but when one is actually elevated to loving the Supreme Lord, the mind is automatically absorbed in thought of the Lord. In such a position a yogé has no other thought than to serve the Lord. This dovetailing of the mind with the desires of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is called nirväëa, or making the mind one with the Supreme Lord.
The best example of nirväëa is cited in Bhagavad-gétä. In the beginning the mind of Arjuna deviated from Kåñëa’s. Kåñëa wanted Arjuna to fight, but Arjuna did not want to, so there was disagreement. But after hearing Bhagavad-gétä from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Arjuna dovetailed his mind with Kåñëa’s desire. This is called oneness.…When the mind is completely purified in love of Godhead, the mind becomes the mind of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The mind at that time does not act separately, nor does it act without inspiration to fulfill the desire of the Lord. The individual liberated soul has no other activity. Pratinivåtta-guëa-pravähaù. In the conditioned state the mind is always engaged in activity impelled by the three modes of the material world, but in the transcendental stage, the material modes cannot disturb the mind of the devotee. The devotee has no other concern than to satisfy the desires of the Lord. That is the highest stage of perfection, called nirväëa or nirväëa-mukti. At this stage the mind becomes completely free from material desire.
Vaishnava oneness is different
One can attain direct contact with the Supreme Personality of Godhead in full Kåñëa consciousness and revive one’s eternal relationship with Him as lover, as Supreme Soul, as son, as friend or as master. One can reestablish the transcendental loving relationship with the Supreme Lord in so many ways, and that feeling is true oneness.
In the transcendental world, the servant and master are one. That is the absolute platform. Although the relationship is servant and master, both the servant and the served stand on the same platform. That is oneness.
Everyone should come to the platform of Kåñëa consciousness and thus feel oneness as a servant of the Lord. Although there are 8,400,000 species of life, a Vaiñëava feels this oneness. The Éçopaniñad advises, ekatvam anupaçyataù [Éço 7]. A devotee should see the Supreme Personality of Godhead to be situated in everyone’s heart and should also see every living entity as an eternal servant of the Lord. This vision is called ekatvam, oneness. Although there is a relationship of master and servant, both master and servant are one because of their spiritual identity.
Oneness is actually based on oneness of interest. A pure devotee has no interest but to act on behalf of the Supreme Lord. When one has even a tinge of personal interest, his devotion is mixed with the three modes of material nature.
The devotee therefore endeavors to apply everything in the service of the Lord because he knows that everything is the property of the Lord and that no one can claim anything as one’s own. This perfect conception of oneness helps the worshiper in being engaged in His loving service
Our philosophy of Kåñëa consciousness is the same, but instead of becoming one with Kåñëa, we depend on Kåñëa. That is actual oneness. If we simply agree to abide by the orders of Kåñëa and have no disagreement with Him, we are situated in actual oneness.
Surrender. That is oneness. Not that individually he has become different. Individually he is, but he does not disagree with Kåñëa. That is oneness. Just like we are sitting, we are of different interests. But so far my disciples are, they will not disagree with me. That is oneness. But he is individual. He was individual, he is individual, and he will continue his individuality. But as soon as he accepts me as the leader, then he is agreement. That is oneness.
( conversation, 22nd Dec, 1976, Pune)
Kåñëa is the central point. If you know what is milk, then you know what is butter, what is cheese, what is yogurt, everything, because everything is milk product. So if you know Kåñëa, everything is Kåñëa product, so you know everything. That is universal knowledge. That is oneness. When you know what is milk, then, in spite of so many varieties of preparation of milk, you know it is milk. That is oneness. When you know, understand Kåñëa, that “Whatever we are seeing, in our presence, experiencing, they’re all different energies of Kåñëa.
(SPL, 10th March, 1967 San Francisco)
Oneness of a lover
When a lover submits to his lover without any pinch of personal consideration, that is called oneness. Lord Caitanya has taught us this feeling of oneness in His Çikñäñöaka: Kåñëa may act freely, doing whatever He likes, but the devotee should always be in oneness or in agreement with His desires.
(KB, chapter 23)
That’s why gopis’s oneness is highest
Let my mind be fixed upon Lord Çré Kåñëa, whose motions and smiles of love attracted the damsels of Vrajadhäma [the gopés]. The damsels imitated the characteristic movements of the Lord [after His disappearance from the räsa dance]. ( Bhishmadeva prayer to Krishna at his deathbed)
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport: By intense ecstasy in loving service, the damsels of Vrajabhümi attained qualitative oneness with the Lord by dancing with Him on an equal level, embracing Him in nuptial love, smiling at Him in joke, and looking at Him with a loving attitude. The relation of the Lord with Arjuna is undoubtedly praiseworthy for devotees like Bhéñmadeva, but the relation of the gopés with the Lord is still more praiseworthy because of their still more purified loving service. By the grace of the Lord, Arjuna was fortunate enough to have the fraternal service of the Lord as chariot driver, but the Lord did not award Arjuna with equal strength. The gopés, however, practically became one with the Lord by attainment of equal footing with the Lord. Bhéñma’s aspiration to remember the gopés is a prayer to have their mercy also at the last stage of his life. The Lord is satisfied more when His pure devotees are glorified, and therefore Bhéñmadeva has not only glorified the acts of Arjuna, his immediate object of attraction, but has also remembered the gopés, who were endowed with unrivalled opportunities for rendering loving service to the Lord. The gopés’ equality with the Lord should never be misunderstood to be like the säyujya liberation of the impersonalist. The equality is one of perfect ecstasy where the differential conception is completely eradicated, for the interests of the lover and the beloved become identical.
But a devotee should not ‘manufacture’ his own ‘oneness’
The Kåñëa consciousness movement is teaching people how to come to the stage of dedicating everything to the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Kåñëa says in Bhagavad-gétä (9.27):
yat karoñi yad açnäsi yaj juhoñi dadäsi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kuruñva mad-arpaëam
“O son of Kunté, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.” If whatever we do, whatever we eat, whatever we think and whatever we plan is for the advancement of the Kåñëa consciousness movement, this is oneness. There is no difference between chanting for Kåñëa consciousness and working for Kåñëa consciousness. On the transcendental platform, they are one. But we must be guided by the spiritual master about this oneness; we should not manufacture our own oneness.
I hope, and pray, that henceforth we will look at the term oneness in a more positive manner and even aspire to become one with Krishna- by simply dovetailing our mind with the desire of Krishna and under the guidance of our spiritual master.
Looking to post my daily Srila Prabhupada quote I stumbled upon the beautiful chapter 22 of canto 8, describing pastime of Bali Maharaj. It was amazing to read how Krishna expertly, what else can we expect from Him, bestows opulence on His aspiring devotees. On one hand He grants a lot to some while on the other hand He takes away everything from others.
It is a misplaced perception that Krishna does not grant opulence to His devotees, in fact His devotees receive limitless opulence, there are so many examples in Bhagavatam, Sudama, the fruit seller in Mathura, Dhruva… Bhagavatam also spells out why and why not. As usual it all boils down to our consciousness, or lack of it. Here are some keys.
Opulence comes by the will of the Supreme Lord.
My dear King, Bali Maharaj donated all his possessions to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vämanadeva, but one should certainly not conclude that he achieved his great worldly opulence in bila-svarga as a result of his charitable disposition. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the source of life for all living entities, lives within everyone as the friendly Supersoul, and under His direction a living entity enjoys or suffers in the material world. Greatly appreciating the transcendental qualities of the Lord, Bali Maharaj offered everything at His lotus feet. His purpose, however, was not to gain anything material, but to become a pure devotee. For a pure devotee, the door of liberation is automatically opened. One should not think that Bali Maharaj was given so much material opulence merely because of his charity. When one becomes a pure devotee in love, he may also be blessed with a good material position by the will of the Supreme Lord. However, one should not mistakenly think that the material opulence of a devotee is the result of his devotional service. The real result of devotional service is the awakening of pure love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, which continues under all circumstances.
Look, who is directly serving Krishna and His devotees.
Devotional service to the Lord is likened unto a queen. When a queen gives an audience, many maidservants follow her. The maidservants of devotional service are material opulence, liberation and mystic powers.
According to the desire of Laxmi Devi, the goddess of fortune, the Supreme Personality of Godhead made His bosom her residence so that by her glance she could favor everyone, including the demigods and ordinary human beings. In other words, since the goddess of fortune stays on the bosom of Narayana, she naturally sees any devotee who worships Narayana. When the goddess of fortune understands that a devotee is in favor of devotional service to Narayana, she is naturally inclined to bless the devotee with all opulences. The karmi’s try to receive the favor and mercy of Laxmi, but because they are not devotees of Narayana, their opulence is flickering. The opulence of devotees who are attached to the service of Narayana is not like the opulence of karmi’s. The opulence of devotees is as permanent as the opulence of Narayana Himself.
But opulence should be utilised properly
Material achievements are not the ultimate goal of devotional service. The ultimate goal of devotional service is love of Godhead. Therefore although Prahlada Maharaj, Dhruva Maharaj, Ambarish Maharaj, Yudhishthira Maharaj and many devotee kings were materially very opulent, they accepted their material opulence in the service of the Lord, not for their personal sense gratification. Of course, possessing material opulence is always fearful because under the influence of material opulence one may be misdirected from devotional service. Nonetheless, a pure devotee (anyabhilasita–sunyam [BRS 1.1.11]) is never misdirected by material opulence. On the contrary, whatever he possesses he engages one hundred percent in the service of the Lord. When one is allured by material possessions, they are considered to be given by mäyä, but when one uses material possessions fully for service, they are considered God’s gifts, or facilities offered by Krishna for enhancing one’s devotional service.
Those who are in a better position in the world, having sufficient wealth, should especially take lessons from Manu, who acknowledged his kingdom and opulence to be gifts from the Supreme Personality of Godhead and thus always engaged in devotional service. Similarly, the descendants of Manu, or human beings, especially those who are situated in a well-to-do condition, must consider that whatever riches they have are gifts from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Those riches should be utilized for the service of the Lord in sacrifices performed to please Him. That is the way of utilizing wealth and opulence. No one can achieve wealth, opulence, good birth, a beautiful body or nice education without the mercy of the Supreme Lord. Therefore, those who are in possession of such valuable facilities must acknowledge their gratefulness to the Lord by worshiping Him and offering what they have received from Him. When such acknowledgement is given, either by a family, nation or society, their abode becomes almost like Vaikuntha, and it becomes free from the operation of the threefold miseries of this material world. In the modern age the mission of Krishna consciousness is for everyone to acknowledge the supremacy of Lord Krishna; whatever one has in his possession must be considered a gift by the grace of the Lord. Everyone, therefore, should engage in devotional service through Krishna consciousness. If one wants to be happy and peaceful in his position, either as a householder or citizen or member of human society, one must promote devotional service for the pleasure of the Lord.
Our focus should remain in serving Krishna.
Maharaj Ambarish was the emperor of the entire world, but he considered his opulence temporary. Indeed, knowing that such material opulence is the cause of downfall into conditional life, he was unattached to this opulence. He engaged his senses and mind in the service of the Lord. This process is called yukta-vairagaya, or feasible renunciation, which is quite suitable for worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Because Maharaj Ambarish, as the emperor, was immensely opulent, he performed devotional service with great opulence, and therefore, despite his wealth, he had no attachment to his wife, children or kingdom. He constantly engaged his senses and mind in the service of the Lord. Therefore, to say nothing of enjoying material opulence, he never desired even liberation.
(SB 9.4 summary)
A devotee’s opulence is eternal!
One should engage in full devotional service. Then, even though he has no desires, whatever desires he previously had can all be fulfilled simply by his worship of the Lord. The actual devotee does not desire even liberation (anyabhilasita–sunyam [Bhakti-rasämrita-sindhu 1.1.11]). The Lord, however, fulfills the desire of the devotee by awarding him opulence that will never be destroyed. A karmi’s opulence is destroyed, but the opulence of a devotee is never destroyed. A devotee becomes more and more opulent as he increases his devotional service to the Lord.
So when does Krishna gives opulence to His devotees
When in spite of possessing all these opulences a person is not proud, this means that he is fully aware that all his opulences are due to the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He therefore engages all his possessions in the service of the Lord. A devotee knows very well that everything, even his body, belongs to the Supreme Lord. If one lives perfectly in such Krishna consciousness, it is to be understood that he is especially favored by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The conclusion is that one’s being deprived of his wealth is not to be considered the special mercy of the Lord. If one continues in his opulent position but does not become unnecessarily proud, falsely thinking that he is the proprietor of everything, this is the Lord’s special mercy.
And when does Krishna NOT bestow opulence on a devotee? (Aha!)
Krishna, knows that many great personalities have fallen from their positions because of extravagant opulence. Therefore, even when His devotee asks for some opulence from Him, the Lord sometimes does not give it. He is very cautious about His devotees. Because a devotee in an immature position of devotional service may, if offered great opulence, fall from his position due to being in the material world, the Lord does not offer opulence to him. This is another manifestation of the causeless mercy of the Lord upon His devotee. His first interest is that the devotee not fall. He is exactly like a well-wishing father who does not give much wealth into the hand of his immature son, but who, when the son is grown up and knows how to spend money, gives him the whole treasury house.”
(KB, chapter 81)
Hence mature devotees receive various facilities.
If one is placed in material opulence due to the special mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he should not consider that opulence a cause for bondage. When a mature devotee is blessed with material opulence, he does not become affected adversely, for he knows how to employ material opulence in the service of the Lord. There are many such examples in the history of the world. There were kings like Prthu Maharaj, Prahlada Maharaj, Janaka, Dhruva, Vaivasvata Manu and Maharaj Ikshvaku. All of these were great kings and were especially favored by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If a devotee is not mature, the Supreme Lord will take away all his opulence. This principle is stated by the Supreme Personality of Godhead- yasyāham anugṛhṇāmi hariṣye tad-dhanaṁ śanaiḥ: “My first mercy shown to My devotee is to take away all his material opulence.” Material opulence detrimental to devotional service is taken away by the Supreme Lord, whereas a person who is mature in devotional service is given all material facilities.
A devotee’s ultimate achievement is to take shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord in any one of the planets in the spiritual sky. As a result of rigid execution of devotional service, a devotee receives all material opulences if these are required; otherwise, the devotee is not interested in material opulences, nor does the Supreme Lord award them. When a devotee is actually engaged in the devotional service of the Lord, his apparently material opulences are not material; they are all spiritual. For example, if a devotee spends money to construct a beautiful and costly temple, the construction is not material but spiritual (nirbandhaù Krishna-sambandhe yuktaà vairägyam ucyate). A devotee’s mind is never diverted to the material side of the temple. The bricks, stone and wood used in the construction of the temple are spiritual, just as the Deity, although made of stone, is not stone but the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. The more one advances in spiritual consciousness, the more he can understand the elements of devotional service. Nothing in devotional service is material; everything is spiritual. Consequently a devotee is awarded so-called material opulence for spiritual advancement. This opulence is an aid to help the devotee advance toward the spiritual kingdom.
But a devotee himself remains neutral
A devotee is never distressed or satisfied by material opulence. His concern is how to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If, by the grace of the Supreme Lord, a devotee achieves extraordinary opulence, he utilizes the opportunity for the Lord’s service. He is not disturbed by the opulence.
The point is that we should not try to exchange loving service for material prosperity. If we are actually surrendered to the lotus feet of Krishna, our only desire should be to satisfy Krishna. That is pure Krishna consciousness. Surrender means not that we demand something from the Lord but that we completely depend on His mercy. If Krishna likes, He may keep His devotee in a poverty-stricken condition, or if He likes He may keep him in an opulent position. The devotee should not be concerned in either case; he should simply be very serious about trying to satisfy the Lord by rendering Him service.
(CC Madhya 22.39p)
Krishna knows what is best for each one of us.
“Krishna says, ‘If one engages in My transcendental loving service but at the same time wants the opulence of material enjoyment, he is very, very foolish. Indeed, he is just like a person who gives up ambrosia to drink poison. Since I am very intelligent, why should I give this fool material prosperity? Instead I shall induce him to take the nectar of the shelter of My lotus feet and make him forget illusory material enjoyment.’ “
If a devotee maintains some material desire and at the same time very sincerely desires to engage at the lotus feet of Krishna, Krishna may directly give him unalloyed devotional service and take away all his material desires and possessions. This is the Lord’s special favor to devotees. Otherwise, if one takes to Krishna’s devotional service but still has material desires to fulfill, he may become free from all material desires, as Dhruva Maharaj did, but this may take some time. However, if a very sincere devotee wants only Krishna’s lotus feet, Krishna directly gives him the position of shuddha-bhakti, unalloyed devotional service.
Devotees like Dhruva Maharaj, who was given unlimited material opulence, have the special mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Once Kuvera wanted to give Dhruva Maharaj a benediction, but although Dhruva Maharaj could have asked him for any amount of material opulence, he instead begged Kuvera that he might continue his devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When a devotee is fixed in his devotional service, there is no need for the Lord to deprive him of his material opulences. The Supreme Personality of Godhead never takes away material opulences achieved because of devotional service, although He sometimes takes away opulences achieved by pious activities. He does this to make a devotee prideless or put him in a better position in devotional service. If a special devotee is meant for preaching but does not give up his family life or material opulences to take to the service of the Lord, the Lord surely takes away his material opulences and establishes him in devotional service. Thus the pure devotee becomes fully engaged in propagating Krishna consciousness.
What is real poverty for a devotee..
The results of devotional service are certainly not material benefits or liberation from material bondage. The goal of devotional service is to be eternally situated in the loving service of the Lord and to enjoy spiritual bliss from that service. One is said to be in a poverty-stricken condition when one forgets the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One has to end such a life of poverty in order to automatically end the miserable conditions of material existence. One is automatically liberated from material enjoyment when one tastes the service of Krishna. One does not have to endeavor separately for opulence. Opulence automatically comes to the pure devotee, even though he does not desire material happiness.
So many times one come across apparent contradictions in scriptures. Yesterday I read a beautiful explanation of inconceivable nature of Krishna by HH Romapada maharaj in reply to a question at http://www.dandavats.com. It is so nice to hear explanations on such topics from a self realised soul, suddenly inconceivable becomes conceivable.
Question: I have a question regarding a statement I heard in the past and remembered recently: Seeming paradoxes are found in various places in scripture. For instance, in one scripture it may be said “all the forms of the Lord are equal,” while in another it may be said, “no other form of the Lord is as complete as Krishna.” While he didn’t use this particular example, I have heard from an advanced Vaishnava that such “contradictions” force us as readers to stop and contemplate instead of speeding along thinking that we understand things. I’m wondering if this understanding is correct and if you can elaborate to provide clearer understanding?
HH Romapada Swami: As you have hinted within your question, what ‘appears’ to be paradoxes or contradictions within scripture are only seemingly so; factually, there is no real contradiction.
In some instances, scriptures are deliberately filled with apparent double-talk. A typical example is the language of the Upanishads: e.g., “The Supreme Lord walks and does not walk. He is far away, but He is very near as well. He is within everything, and yet He is outside of everything.” (Isopanishad Mantra 5) Such contradictory statements are provided to indicate His inconceivable, transcendental nature. He walks, but His walking is nothing like the walking within this mundane realm. So, thanks to these paradoxes, we are induced to reconsider and reform the deep-rooted material conceptions in our mind when contemplating the Supreme Absolute Truth.
It is not necessarily that all such contradictions are purposefully presented by the scriptures in order to get us to contemplate. It is just the nature of Absolute Truth, which appears to us to be contradictory when we try to capture it within the limited vocabulary of language or within the limited framework of our material mind and intelligence. But by patient and repeated aural reception of the whole message, and by receiving clarification from a realized soul, such contradictions become resolved. The Bhaktivedanta Purports explicitly serve this purpose!
Some of these apparent contradictions, which often become topics of debate among inter-faith discussions, are resolved by understanding the example of higher and lower level mathematics. One may learn in a simple way in elementary math that it is not possible to subtract a bigger number from a smaller one, but as one progressively learns the concepts of negative numbers, rational and irrational numbers, imaginary numbers and so on, instead of seeing contradictions, one’s understanding becomes wider and deeper.
Are they really contradictions?
Often, what appears as contradiction is due to our own lack of understanding or preconceptions about what God or spiritual life must look like. Sometimes it is seen that even when Reality is presented in a very simple and straightforward manner, people find it hard to reconcile. A common example is in understanding how Krishna favors His devotees like the Pandavas. God is supposed to be impartial and yet He gives different rewards to different living entities and He particularly seems to favor and take the side of His devotees. This is not a contradiction, but appears to be so because of not understanding that He EQUALLY reciprocates with everyone as they approach Him. As one’s spiritual understanding and realization matures, such things cease to be contradictions but rather become another impetus for deeply appreciating the qualities of Krishna.
Another way to understand the same thing is that all contradictions are reconciled in the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna. That is to say, He is simultaneously equal and yet different from all of His other expansions, He is simultaneously impartial and yet partial to His devotees, He is simultaneously present everywhere and yet never leaves His abode in Vrindavan and so on.
Another fundamental reason for seeing contradictions is often due to not understanding Krishna’s Personal nature; Krishna is a Person and He has desires, likes and dislikes, and freedom. Behind all the variegated arrangements one can experience within the material creation, and behind all His dealings with different living entities — is Krishna’s very personal, loving, compassionate nature and inimitable capacity in reciprocating with His different parts and parcels. How He acts and why He does certain things may not always follow a set pattern or formula. Thus, His will is said to be “inscrutable”.
The common tendency amongst those educated in the modern school of rationalism is to try to subject everything, including spiritual topics, to analysis and rationalization and reductionism — but these tools fail us miserably in trying to understand Spirit. You are likely to be familiar with the famous example of the five blind men — each of them came up with completely contradictory pictures of the elephant, while in fact none of them were close to whole truth. Our approach to scripture is often like those blind men, and thus we run into many “contradictions”. Therefore, in order to learn the truth, it is indispensable to approach a seeing man, i.e. a self-realized soul. Under the guidance of such a spiritual master, one can systematically learn to reconcile all contradictions and see the Whole Truth.
By reading the above wonderful article by HH Romapada maharaj I learnt that there are no contradictions in scriptures, it is our limited understanding, by trying to see everything through our material intelligence and rationale, lack of realisations (as opposed to mere information) and above all not knowing the personality of Krishna. The solution is to take shelter of a bonafide spiritual master and by patiently AND regularly reading Bhaktivedanta purports. I will share my own experience of ‘repeated’ hearing in a future blog.
Yesterday morning I heard a beautiful lecture by HG Jananivas Prabhuji which Prabhuji gave at Mayapur. As usual it was a lecture filled with many gems. Prabhuji is a very exalted and pure devotee of Krishna, it was my good fortune that I was able to hear his lecture. Two topics in his lecture touched my heart
a) supremacy of Bhakti over all other yoga processes.
b) importance of Guru and initiation in our life.
I will write about the first part today, where Prabhuji spoke about the power of bhakti over all other processes. We may have heard all this before and know it but the way Prabhuji gave the essence was remarkable.
The particular verse on this day was from the sixth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam where the story of ‘Citraketu’ is continuing. Here is the verse:
O King Parīkṣit, after only one week of repeatedly practicing the mantra received from the spiritual master, Citraketu achieved the rule of the planet of the Vidyādharas as an intermediate product of his spiritual advancement in knowledge. (SB 6.16.28)
After first giving the listeners a brief background about the chapter, glorifying ‘Citraketu’ and then expanding this particular pastime, Prabhuji explained that, similar to ‘Citraketu’, sometimes devotees do not directly go back to Godhead but they have to take a birth. (‘Citraketu’ finally took birth as ‘Vritasura’ and then went back to Godhead).
Jananivas Prabhuji then quoted Srila Prabhupada who said:
‘If you still have a mood of enjoyment in Krishna consciousness, you are performing devotional service but you have the mood of enjoyment then your next birth will be in the heavenly planets. you will have to work out that enjoyment and after that you can go back to Godhead.’
Prabhuji reiterated that devotees are not expected to maintain the mood of enjoyment, especially at the last of our life, when we are leaving the body very rapidly, we should wind everything up completely and take shelter of the Lord, then we go back to Godhead.
Prabhuji then read the below short but devotionally pregnant purport by Srila Prabhupada:
‘If a devotee, after being initiated, adheres rigidly to the instructions of the spiritual master, he is naturally endowed with the material opulences of vidyādhara-adhipatyam and similar posts as by-products. A devotee need not practice yoga, karma or jñāna to achieve a successful result. Devotional service alone is competent to award a devotee all material power. A pure devotee, however, is never attached to material power, although he gets it very easily without personal endeavor. Citraketu received this side benefit of his devotional service, which he rigidly performed in accordance with the instructions of Nārada. A devotee need not practice yoga, karma or jñāna to achieve a successful result. Devotional service alone is competent to award a devotee all material power‘.
Jananivas Prabhuji explained how Citraketu received this power simply as a side benefit of devotional service. Not that he was interested but somehow or other he was given that position so he could still enjoy as a side product of his devotional service. But his consciousness was more fixed on his devotional service rather than the side product of being the king of ‘Vidyādharas’. He acted like a king, it seemed like he was enjoying but his consciousness was fixed on his worshipable Lord and his devotional service.
So a devotee doesn’t have to worry about Karma, jnana or yoga to achieve successful results, devotional service alone is powerful enough to do it. This is the position of devotional service, the position of bhakti. Bhakti is independent. Whereas in karma, jnana and yoga, to get their perfection, one needs some bhakti yoga but for bhakti yoga we don’t need karma, we don’t need jnana, its independent.
For Karmis (materialists)
Prabhuji stated ‘just like the Karmis, they want sense gratification. They are religious, they are pious, they are practicing karma yoga but they want happiness in the material world. So what does Krishna says about about karma yogi –
yat karoṣi yad aśnāsi yaj juhoṣi dadāsi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kuruṣva mad-arpaṇam (BG 9.27)
Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform — do that, O son of Kuntī, as an offering to Me.
In other words do everything for Krishna. Karma yoga culminates in bhakti yoga. When we do this, do everything for Krishna, then it becomes bhakti, our karma becomes bhakti.
For jnanis (knowledge seekers)
For jnanis, Krishna says:
bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ (BG 7.19)
After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.
So conclusion of jnana is that after thousands of births one surrenders to Krishna. In reference to this verse Srila Prabhupada said:
‘This is Krishna’s statement, after thousands of births one comes to the platform of ‘ vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti’, Krishna is the supreme personality of Godhead. I’m telling you now that Krishna is the supreme personality of Godhead, you surrender to Krishna now. You hear me, and you do that (surrender to Krishna), you skip those thousands and thousands of births because you come to the conclusion of thousands and thousands of births!
So culmination of jnana is bhakti – surrender to Krishna.
So one get the perfection of jnana when it is dovetailed or used for understanding bhakti.
Now to the ashtanga yogis, and all the other yogis, Krishna say:
yoginām api sarveṣāṁ mad-gatenāntar-ātmanā
śraddhāvān bhajate yo māṁ sa me yuktatamo mataḥ (BG 6.47)
And of all yogīs, the one with great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself, and renders transcendental loving service to Me — he is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all. That is My opinion.
So the conclusion of yoga is that it brings one to bhakti.
So when the karma, jnana and yoga are used to bring us to bhakti then they are okay but when they are not used for that purpose then they become inauspicious. If they are just used for karma, just used for jnana or just used for yoga then they become inauspicious because they keep us bound up to this material world. But when they are used to reveal the high position of bhakti then they have meaning. So without bhakti they don’t become fruitful. And bhakti even if it doesn’t has karma, jnana or yoga, still it is fruitful, it is not dependent on anything else.
Prabhuji said hence Krishna says ‘anyway don’t waste your time in karma, jnana or yoga, you just give up that controlling and enjoying aspect through your karma or through your jnana or through your yoga, you are simply using them as tools so you can still enjoy and make spiritual progress. Therefore Krishna says
Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.
Krishna is saying you surrender to me immediately. And like we are reaing in this particular pastime that the effect could be immediate. Let’s read the translation of the verse again.
O King Parīkṣit, after only one week of repeatedly practicing the mantra received from the spiritual master, Citraketu achieved the rule of the planet of the Vidyādharas as an intermediate product of his spiritual advancement in knowledge. (SB 6.16.28)
So we see that devotional service is not dependent on anything else, karma, jnana or all the other processes, and it’s effect is immediate if we put it into practice sincerely.
As for the side benefits, Prabhuji explained that bhukti (material enjoyment) and mukti (liberation) they wait as maidservants for the devotees. For a pure devotee bhukti and multi are waiting ‘How we can serve you?’ We want to serve the bhaktas. And the bhakta say ‘Get away from me!’ They kick them away…Kick…we don’t want bhukti, we don’t want mukti. But still they don’t go away, they say we will stay nearby, any service you want! We want to do bhakta seva. But the devotees, no, they kick them away.
Wasn’t it straight & simple, coming straight from the heart of a realised soul! I will try to post the second part of Prabhuji’s lecture on the importance of Guru and initiation shortly.