Its summer time, the ideal time to get around churning some butter. Let us try to churn the following benediction given by Lord Narasimha to Prahlada maharaj on hearing their pastime.
य एतत्कीर्तयेन्मह्यं त्वया गीतमिदं नरः
त्वां च मां च
ya etat kīrtayen mahyaṁ tvayā gītam idaṁ naraḥ
tvāṁ ca māṁ ca smaran kāle karma-bandhāt pramucyate
One who always remembers your activities and My activities also, and
who chants the prayers you have offered, becomes free, in due course of time,
from the reactions of material activities.
One who always remembers your activities and My activities also ( Srvanam Kirtanam)
A very direct understanding is to have regular Sravanam Kirtanam about the pastimes of Lord Narasimha and Prahlada. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu used to hear Prahlada maharaj’s pastimes repeatedly. We can also hear it from Srila Prabhupada, he gave numerous lectures glorifying Prahlada, listening to them repeatedly will undoubtedly instill a taste for the same. This is indeed our process Sravanam Kirtanam- we hear the glories and then we sing the glories!
Another way of looking at this is asking, “Who is Lord Narasimha?” Keshavadhrita–narahari–rupa! So Lord Narasimha is Krishna Himself, only in the form of a half man-half lion. So we can broaden our understanding of the above verse to further include ‘One who always remembers Krishna’s activities and the activities of His pure devotees’.
Where does Krishna Himself speak about His own self and His devotees? Bhagavad Gita. Which scripture speaks about pastimes of Krishna with His devotees? Srimad Bhagavatam. One cannot stress the importance of these two scriptures enough in the lives of all the devotees, irrespective of their level of realisation. In fact we may even add that one, but not the only, way to externally see a devotee’s attachment to Krishna, and his level of realisation, is by seeing how attached one is to specifically these two scriptures- Srimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad Gita. We must, therefore, read them daily. Sravanam Kirtanam of Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam.
and who chants the prayers you have offered
Krishna is a person and just as any person He has likes and dislikes. Among many other things Krishna likes is, He has a very strong liking for the prayers offered by His pure devotees. Since they are filled with immense love and attachment for Him as a person, He simply loves them.
One way to understand this line of the verse is obviously to read the devotionally enriched prayers offered by Prahlada in Srimad Bhagavatam, they are there in SB 7.9.
Knowing again that Lord Narasimha is none other Krishna Himself, in a half man- half lion form, we can then expand the meaning to include all the prayers offered in Srimad Bhagavatam by Brahma ji, lord Siva, Vrtasura, Gajendra, Dhruva, it is full of so many wonderful prayers by surrendered devotees. We can read them regularly, Krishna likes to hear them! Sravanam Kirtanam.
Another way to look at this is going through prayers offered by our acharyas. This implies, we sing the bhajans of our acharyas as much as we can. Simply by developing the habit of daily singing bhajans of our acharyas we can receive their mercy and gradually our consciousness may be aligned with their mood. They have poured their heart in their bhajans. There is no other natural and easier way to get a peek in the hearts of our acharyas and also get our consciousness purified at the same time. Let us make a habit to sing these bhajans to Thakurji daily! Manifold benefits and benedictions await us. Sravanam kirtanam
becomes free, in due course of time, from the reactions of material
Lord Narasimha is declaring that the simple act of remembering His pastime with Prahlada maharaj and by reciting the prayers offered by Prahlada maharaj, one can become free from all reactions of material activities. All reactions, sinful and pious, would be gone! What will be left in our heart- remembrance of Krishna, His name, His form, His qualities and His pastimes! One becomes ‘jivan mukta’ (liberated in a material body) in this lifetime itself! What exalted yogis fail to achieve by thousands of years of austerities and meditation, sincere and surrendered devotees can achieve it in this very lifetime, simply by hearing about Krishna and His devotees. This is the uniqueness of Bhakti yoga , specifically the process given by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. This process is safe, certain and sublime. So sravanam kirtanam of Krishna leads us to Vishnu Smaranam in a very natural way.
What about the result of remembering Krishna’s pure devotee?
Jaya Gauranga : I remember one lady raised her hand after Prabhupada had finished a Bhagavad-gita class as she had a question. She asked, “In the Bhagavad-gita it is said if one thinks of Krishna at the time of death, one will go to Krishna. Now my question is, what if I think of you at the time of death? Will it have the same effect?”
Prabhupada didn’t answer right away. He closed his eyes for two or three seconds as if he was searching for the answer and then he smiled and said, “That is very nice.” He said, “Yes, it will have the same effect.”
(Memories Anecdotes of a Modern Day Saint – Volume 3 by Siddhanta Dasa)
I hope and pray that we could taste some butter from this churning.
Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam are two most important scriptures for Kali Yuga, they have specifically manifested for us kali yugians. If we sincerely try to serve these two transcendental scriptures then we can unlock many hidden gems. Let us take a look at the famous verse from Bhagavad gita
One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.
As we read the above verse it looks too simplistic, as if Krishna is simply encouraging everyone to accept His shelter by holding a big carrot in front of us! Rather, coming out from the lotus like mouth of Krishna, every single verse of Bhagavad Gita is Absolute and so is its conclusion and promise. Srila Prabhupada further declares in his purport –
He who accepts this truth on the strength of the authority of the Vedas and of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and who does not waste time in philosophical speculations attains the highest perfectional stage of liberation. Simply by accepting this truth on faith, one can, without a doubt, attain liberation.
The above statements may baffle us, especially devotees. We already know that Krishna is the Supreme personality of Godhead, we know about Krishna’s transcendental appearance and activities but liberation seems a bit far. But then how much do we even really know Vrajendra Nandan Krishna, Krishna of Vrindavan.
Both the verse and its purport are ‘packed’ and we can unpack then in multiple ways. Today, however let us unpack it from the angle of Krishna’s birth, how and where exactly did Vrajendra Nandan Krishna appeared.
Scriptures say that Svayam Bhagavan, Sri Vrajendra Nandan Krishna, does not take one step out of Vrindavan. Many of us may have read the pastime when Akrura came to invite Krishna and Balaram to Mathura, the two brothers he took with him to Mathura were a little different then whom he assumed accompanied him.
Vrajendra Nandan Krishna
Nanda Maharaj returned to Vrindavan without Krishna and Balaram. He was accompanied only by the cowherd boys and men. It was certainly a very pathetic scene for the gopis, Mother Yashoda, Srimati Radharani and all the other residents of Vrindavan. Many devotees have tried to make adjustments to Krishna’s being away from Vrindavan because, according to expert opinion, Krishna, the original Supreme Personality of Godhead, never goes even a step out of Vrindavan. He always remains there. The explanation of expert devotees is that Krishna was actually not absent from Vrindavan; He came back with Nanda Maharaj as promised.
When Krishna was starting for Mathura on the chariot driven by Akrura and the gopis were blocking the way, Krishna assured them that He was coming back just after finishing His business in Mathura. He told them not to be overwhelmed and in this way pacified them. But when He failed to come back with Nanda Maharaj, it appeared that He either cheated them or could not keep His promise. Expert devotees, however, have decided that Krishnawas neither a cheater nor a breaker of promises. Krishna, in His original identity, returned with Nanda Maharaj and stayed with the gopis and Mother Yashoda in His bhäva expansion. Krishna and Balaram remained in Mathura not in Their original forms but in Their expansions as Vasudeva and Sakarshana. The real Krishna and Balaram were in Vrindavan in Their bhäva manifestation, whereas in Mathura They appeared in the prabhava and vaibhava expansions. This is the expert opinion of advanced devotees of Krishna. Externally, however, They were absent from Vrindavan.
(Krishna Book, chapter 46)
Now a natural question may arise that if Vrajendra Nandan Krishna, the original Supreme Personality of Godhead, never takes even a step out of Vrindavan then how did He take birth in Mathura?
Let us try solve this mystery by seeing it from the eyes of our acharya and the scriptures.
Thereafter, exactly when Vasudeva, being inspired by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, was about to take the newborn child from the delivery room, Yoga-māyā, the Lord’s spiritual energy, took birth as the daughter of the wife of Mahārāja Nanda.
Srila Vishvanath Chakravarty Thakura discusses that Krishna appeared simultaneously as the son of Devaki and as the son of Yashoda, along with the spiritual energy Yoga-māyā. As the son of Devaki, He first appeared as Vishnu, and because Vasudeva was not in the position of pure affection for Krishna, Vasudeva worshiped his son as Lord Vishnu. Yashoda, however, pleased her son Krishna without understanding His Godhood. This is the difference between Krishna as the son of Yashoda and as the son of Devaki. This is explained by Vishvanath Chakravarty on the authority of Hari-vaṁśa.
What Srila Prabhupada is disclosing above is simply astonishing! Prabhupada is divulging to us that Krishna appeared simultaneously in two places- as the son of Devaki and as son of mother Yashoda, in Vrindavan.
Let us read the exact commentary of Srila Vishvanath Chakravarty Thakura, which Srila Prabhupada quoted above.
In the Hari Vamsa is says that that in the eighth of her pregnancy Devaki and Yashoda gave birth at the same time to their Children. But here in Bhagavatam it is stated that that Yashoda gave birth after Devaki. How to correlate the two contradictory statements? Exactly when Devaki gave birth to Krishna, Yashoda also gave birth to Krishna. After that, as described in this verse, Yashoda birth to Yagamaya. Yashoda gave birth to two children at different times. This is confirmed in SB 10.4.9, for when Yogamaya falls from the hands of Kansa, she is called younger sister of Krishna. But when Krishna was born to Yashoda it is not stated that he had four hands. It is understood that He was born from Yashoda with two hands.
(Srila Vishvanath Chakravarti Thakura purport to SB 10.3.47)
Srila Vishvanath Chakravarty Thakurais revealing to us that mother Yashoda gave birth to two kids. A son, Krishna, was born at the very same time when Lord Vishnu appeared as the son of Devaki. (Hence Krishna’s birth is rightly celebrated as Janamashtami everywhere and not on Nandotsava as some devotees tend to suggest.) Second child, as we know, was Yogamaya, Krishna’s ‘younger’ sister.
How can the umbilical cord be still intact if kids were exchanged in the night!
Srimad Bhagavatam itself gives us a hint about this secret while describing how Nanda Maharaj celebrated Krishna’s ‘Jata-Karma’ ceremony, cutting of the umbilical cord connecting the child and placenta.
Sukhdeva Gosvami said: Nanda Maharaj was naturally very magnanimous, and when Lord Sri Krishna appeared as his son, he was overwhelmed by jubilation. Therefore, after bathing and purifying himself and dressing himself properly, he invited brahmanas who knew how to recite Vedic mantras. After having these qualified brahmanas recite auspicious Vedic hymns, he arranged to have the Vedic birth ceremony celebrated for his newborn child according to the rules and regulations, and he also arranged for worship of the demigods and forefathers.
Srila Prabhupada writes in the purport of the above verse :
The jāta-karma ceremony can take place when the umbilical cord, connecting the child and the placenta, is cut. However, since Krishna was brought by Vasudeva to the house of Nanda Maharaj, where was the chance for this to happen? In this regard, Vishvanath Chakravarty Thakura desires to prove with evidence from many shastra that Krishna actually took birth as the son of Yashoda before the birth of Yoga-maya, who is therefore described as the Lord’s younger sister.
Srila Rupa Gosvami also gives away the secret!
preshthanandair vraje tais tair atmano ‘pi vimohanaih
lilollasair vilasati shri-lila-purushottamah
Because He enjoys many happy pastimes, delighting His dear associates, and even enchanting Himself, Lord Krishna is called “lila-purushottama” (the most playful person).
asamordhvena bhagavan vatsalyena vrajesayoh
sutatvenaiva sa tayor atmanam vetti sarvada
Because the parental love of Vraja’s king and queen has no equal or superior, Lord Krishna eternally thinks Himself their son.
kecid bhagavatah prahur evam atra puratanah
vyuhah pradurbhaved adyo griheshv anakadundubheh
goshthe tu mayaya sardham shri-lila-purushottamah
In ancient times some devotees have said that the Lord appeared in His Vasudeva feature in the home of Maharaja Vasudeva, and at the same time He appeared, along with Yogamaya, in His original form as Sri Krishna in the village of Vraja.
gatva yadu-varo goshtham tatra suti-griham visan
kanyam eva param vikshya tam adayavrajat puram
pravisad vasudevas tu shri-lila-purushottamam
When Maharaja Vasudeva arrived in Vraja, he entered the maternity room, saw (Yashoda’s, daughter and, taking her with him, returned to Mathura. The Vasudeva expansion (Maharaja Vasudeva carried with him, then merged in the body of Sri Krishna.
etac cati-rahasyatvan noktam tatra katha-krame
kintu kvacit prasangena sucyate shri-sukadibhih
Because this pastime is very confidential, it was not related in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Nevertheless, Sukadeva Gosvami and other great devotees have indirectly described it in some of their writings.
Srila Rupa Gosvami then quotes below four verses from Srimad Bhagavatam which specifically describe Krishna as son of Nanda Maharaj.
“Nanda Maharaj was naturally very magnanimous, and when Lord Sri Krishna appeared as his son, he was overwhelmed by jubilation.”
“Nanda Maharaj was very liberal and simple. He immediately took his son Krishna on his lap as if Krishna had returned from death.”
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, the son of Mother Yashoda, is accessible to devotees engaged in spontaneous loving service, but He is not as easily accessible to mental speculators, to those striving for self-realization by severe austerities and penances, or to those who consider the body the same as the self.”
“Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the son of Maharaj Nanda, who is standing before me with conchshell earrings and peacock feather on His head. His face is beautiful, He is wearing a helmet, garlanded with forest flowers, and He stands with a morsel of food in His hand. He is decorated with cane, flute, and a bugle made of buffalo horn. He stands before me with small lotus feet.”
tatha shri-yamala-vacanam samudaharanti
“krishno ‘nyo yadu-sambhuto yah purnah so ‘sty atah parah
vrindavanam parityajya sa kvacin naiva gacchati
The different between Krishna’s appearance in Vrindavan and His appearance in Mathura and Dvaraka is described in, Yamala Tantra:
“The Krishna known as Yadukumara is Vasudeva Krishna. He is different from the Krishna who is the son of Nanda Maharaj. Yadukumara Krishna manifests His pastimes in the cities of Mathura and Dvaraka, but Krishna the son of Nanda Maharaj never at any time leaves Vrindavan.
The above verse has also been quoted in Caitanya Caritamrta, it was spoken by Caitanya Mahaprabhu to … who else…. Srila Rupa Gosvami!
Caution- One should not misunderstand that there are multiple Krishnas! This verse is showing that Vrindavan Krishna, Vrajendra Nandan Krishna, is the original personality of Godhead and rest all are His various plenary expansions/ incarnations. Vrajendra Nandan Krishna is the original source.
pūrṇa bhagavān kṛṣṇa vrajendra-kumāra goloke vrajera saha nitya vihāra
Lord Krishna, the son of the King of Vraja, is the Supreme Lord. He eternally enjoys transcendental pastimes in His eternal abode, Goloka, which includes Vrajadhama.
(CC Adi 3.5)
I hope we got a little taste of sweet undercurrents flowing via, seemingly, straight verses of Bhagavad Gita, and also Srimad Bhagavatam, if we simply serve these two scriptures by studying them regularly, then, by the mercy and potency of Srila Prabhupada, many intricate aspects of Absolute Truth, Sri Vrajendra Nandan Krishna, can manifest in our heart.
He who accepts this truth on the strength of the authority of the Vedas and of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and who does not waste time in philosophical speculations attains the highest perfectional stage of liberation. Simply by accepting this truth on faith, one can, without a doubt, attain liberation. The Vedic version tat tvam asi is actually applied in this case. Anyone who understands Lord Krishna to be the Supreme, or who says unto the Lord, “You are the same Supreme Brahman, the Personality of Godhead,” is certainly liberated instantly, and consequently his entrance into the transcendental association of the Lord is guaranteed.
aradhyo bhagavan vrajesa-tanayas tad-dhama vrndavanam ramya kacid upasana vraja-vadhu-vargena va kalpita srimad bhagavatam pramanam amalam prema pum-artho mahan sri-caitanya mahaprabhor matam idam tatradarah na parah
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna, the son of Nanda Maharaj, is worshiped along with His transcendental abode Vrindavan. The most pleasing form of worship for the Lord is that which was performed by the gopis of Vrindavan. Srimad Bhagavatam is the spotless authority on everything and pure love of Godhead is the ultimate goal of life for all men. These statements, for which we have the highest regard, are the opinion of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
(Caitanya-matta-manjusa by Srila Viswanatha Cakravarti Thakura)
Wish you all a very happy New Year Year. Here is a short clip to welcome, sing and welcome the new year by welcoming and accepting Vrajendra Nandan Krishna as Lord of our heart ! Press here
śraddhāṁ bhāgavate śāstre
’nindām anyatra cāpi hi
satyaṁ śama-damāv api
One should have firm faith that he will achieve all success in life by following those scriptures that describe the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavān. At the same time, one should avoid blaspheming other scriptures. One should rigidly control his mind, speech and bodily activities, always speak the truth, and bring the mind and senses under full control.
Many a times in our enthusiasm to show supremacy of one scripture we may unconsciously end up criticising another vedic scripture. Devotees, especially preachers, should be very careful about making, even an unintentional, offence against any vedic scripture.
In the above verse Srimad Bhagavatam is saying that ‘One should have firm faith that he will achieve all success in life by following those scriptures that describe the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavān’ but in the same verse it is also cautioning us very clearly that “one should avoid blaspheming other scriptures”.
Of course, devotees understand that Srimad Bhagavatam is the amala purana, spotless purana, which best describes the glories of Krishna, without any material tinge whatsoever, but at the same time we should not blaspheme other scriptures. The purport of the above verse gives us a very good understanding as to what should be our consciousness in relation to all the other vedic scriptures.
Śrīla Madhvācārya has quoted the following statement from the Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa: “One should have complete faith in transcendental literature such as Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and other literature that directly glorifies the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One should also have faith in Vaiṣṇava tantras, the original Vedas, and Mahābhārata,which includes Bhagavad-gītā and which is considered the fifth Veda. The Vedic knowledge originally emanated from the breathing of Viṣṇu, and Vedic literature has been compiled in literary form by Śrīla Vyāsadeva, the incarnation of Viṣṇu. Therefore, Lord Viṣṇu should be understood to be the personal speaker of all this Vedic literature.
Some scriptures may seem mundane, be wary of any criticism
“There are other Vedic literatures, called kalā-vidyā, which give instructions in material arts and sciences. Since all such Vedic arts and sciences are ultimately intended to be used to render devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Keśava, saintly persons in the renounced order of life should never blaspheme such apparently mundane literatures; because such literatures are indirectly connected with the Supreme Lord, one may go to hell for blaspheming these secondary literatures.
So what should be our approach?
“Śraddhā indicates a faithful mentality, which can be analyzed in two sections. The first type of faith is a firm conviction that all the statements of the multifarious Vedic literatures are true. In other words, the understanding that Vedic knowledge in general is infallible is called śraddhā, or faith. A second type of faith is the belief that one must personally carry out a particular injunction of Vedic literature in order to achieve his goal in life. A devotee of the Supreme Lord should thus apply the first type of faith to the various kalā-vidyās, or Vedic material arts and sciences, but he should not accept such scriptures as pointing out his personal goal in life. Nor should he carry out any Vedic injunction that is contradictory to the injunctions of Vaiṣṇava scriptures such as the Pañcarātra.
“Thus one should faithfully accept all Vedic literature as directly or indirectly describing the Supreme Personality of Godhead and should not blaspheme any portion of it. Even for Lord Brahmā, as well as for other creatures, down to the insignificant unmoving species such as trees and stones, blasphemy of any Vedic literature causes one to merge into the darkness of ignorance. Thus the suras — the demigods, great sages and devotees of the Lord — should understand that the Pañcarātric literatures, as well as the four Vedas, the original Rāmāyaṇa, the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and other Purāṇas, and the Mahābhārata, are Vedic literatures that establish the supremacy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the unique transcendental position of the Lord’s devotees according to their status of spiritual advancement. Any other vision of Vedic literatures is to be considered an illusion. In all authorized religious scriptures the ultimate goal is to understand that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the controller of everything and everyone, and that the Lord’s devotees are not different from Him, although such devotees are to be understood in terms of their level of spiritual advancement.” Lord Kṛṣṇa has stated in Bhagavad-gītā, vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo/ vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham: “By all the Vedas, I am to be known; indeed, I am the compiler of Vedānta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.”
I hope the above verse and its purport gives us a clear direction as what should be our consciousness while speaking with various scriptures.
‘Other scriptures’ also include non-vedic bonafide scriptures!
We may also include scriptures of other bonafide religions also in the definition of ‘other scriptures’ whom we should not criticise.
When we read Srila Prabhupada’s purports we will notice that he quotes from various scriptures, including Bible. Prabhupada wrote how there are different scriptures for people in different modes of nature but he did not criticise any scripture.
God’s service is dharma. This dharma may be described differently in different countries according to different cultural and climatic conditions or situations, but in every religious scripture obedience to God is instructed. No scripture says that there is no God or that we as living entities are independent—not the Bible, the Koran, the Vedas or even the Buddhist literatures.
(Elevation to Krishna Consciousness, chapter 6)
Prabhupada considered other religious scriptures also as shastra!
All the çästras, however, advise nivåtti-märga, or release from the materialistic way of life. Apart from the çästras of the Vedic civilization, which is the oldest of the world, other çästras agree on this point. For example, in the Buddhist çästras Lord Buddha advises that one achieve nirväëa by giving up the materialistic way of life. In the Bible, which is also çästra, one will find the same advice: one should cease materialistic life and return to the kingdom of God.
Similarly Srila Prabhupada translates the word ‘Svadhyayah’ in a verse from Srimad Bhagavatam not as study of only vedic scriptures but also qualifies reading non vedic, bonafide, scriptures.
svädhyäyaù—reading of transcendental literatures like Bhagavad-gétä, Çrémad-Bhägavatam, Rämäyaëa and Mahäbhärata (or, for those not in Vedic culture, reading of the Bible or Koran)
The purity of Srimad Bhagavatam and the vision of a Vaishnava are simply unmatched, and so are their teachings.
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.
Last Sunday as I was standing outside Balaram Hall in Krishna Balaram temple at Vrindavan, a senior mataji, whom I know, stopped me and we had the following conversation.
Mataji : You live in Delhi?
Me : Yes mataji.
Mataji: Do you know what has happened in Delhi ?
Me: No mataji.
Mataji: They have closed all the schools in Delhi
Me: (a little surprised) Why mataji!
Mataji: The pollution level have reached alarming level in Delhi, they are spraying water on the streets. Didn’t you read the news.
Me: I don’t read news mataji, it is indeed a surprise. ( I could still not understand the reason for her anxiety)
Mataji: I have to go to Mumbai and catch a flight from Delhi. I am worried how will I go?
Me: (now I am surprised) Mataji. you will be going in a cab and in any case the pollution levels have been high since many years. Media needs something sensational and they would have put it on the main news. The pollution hasn’t gone up to these levels in just a day. It was already very high.
Mataji: Please read the news on your mobile. It is a very serious situation and I am very really worried.
Me: (a bit amused now, but I spoke with a passive face and seriousness) There is no need to worry mataji. They said even 10 or 20 years back that living in Mumbai (where mataji lives) is equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes a day. So it’s nothing new for our body, Please rest assure your trip via Delhi will be fine and no need to be anxious.
Mataji, not very enthused with my reply, turned and left, with a worried expression her face.
As I started walking back towards my room I thought how as a devotee we get bothered with so many distractions. We forget whether our main goal is to go back to Mumbai or going back to Godhead.
Going back to Godhead
While walking back to the room I wished the conversation would have been:
Mataji : Are you aware that we are living in this material world, away from Krishna.
Me: (ashamed) only sometimes mataji.
Mataji : Do you know what all is happening here and what all is supposed to happen as kali-yuga progresses
Me: only a little mataji.
Mataji: Please hear what Srimad Bhagavatam has declared:
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Then, O King, religion, truthfulness, cleanliness, tolerance, mercy, duration of life, physical strength and memory will all diminish day by day because of the powerful influence of the Age of Kali.
In Kali-yuga, wealth alone will be considered the sign of a man’s good birth, proper behavior and fine qualities. And law and justice will be applied only on the basis of one’s power.
Men and women will live together merely because of superficial attraction, and success in business will depend on deceit. Womanliness and manliness will be judged according to one’s expertise in sex, and a man will be known as a brāhmaṇa just by his wearing a thread.
A person’s spiritual position will be ascertained merely according to external symbols, and on that same basis people will change from one spiritual order to the next. A person’s propriety will be seriously questioned if he does not earn a good living. And one who is very clever at juggling words will be considered a learned scholar.
A person will be judged unholy if he does not have money, and hypocrisy will be accepted as virtue. Marriage will be arranged simply by verbal agreement, and a person will think he is fit to appear in public if he has merely taken a bath.
A sacred place will be taken to consist of no more than a reservoir of water located at a distance, and beauty will be thought to depend on one’s hairstyle. Filling the belly will become the goal of life, and one who is audacious will be accepted as truthful. He who can maintain a family will be regarded as an expert man, and the principles of religion will be observed only for the sake of reputation.
As the earth thus becomes crowded with a corrupt population, whoever among any of the social classes shows himself to be the strongest will gain political power.
Losing their wives and properties to such avaricious and merciless rulers, who will behave no better than ordinary thieves, the citizens will flee to the mountains and forests.
Harassed by famine and excessive taxes, people will resort to eating leaves, roots, flesh, wild honey, fruits, flowers and seeds. Struck by drought, they will become completely ruined.
The citizens will suffer greatly from cold, wind, heat, rain and snow. They will be further tormented by quarrels, hunger, thirst, disease and severe anxiety.
The maximum duration of life for human beings in Kali-yuga will become fifty years.
By the time the Age of Kali ends, the bodies of all creatures will be greatly reduced in size, and the religious principles of followers of varṇāśrama will be ruined. The path of the Vedas will be completely forgotten in human society, and so-called religion will be mostly atheistic. The kings will mostly be thieves, the occupations of men will be stealing, lying and needless violence, and all the social classes will be reduced to the lowest level of śūdras. Cows will be like goats, spiritual hermitages will be no different from mundane houses, and family ties will extend no further than the immediate bonds of marriage. Most plants and herbs will be tiny, and all trees will appear like dwarf śamī trees. Clouds will be full of lightning, homes will be devoid of piety, and all human beings will have become like asses. At that time, the Supreme Personality of Godhead will appear on the earth. Acting with the power of pure spiritual goodness, He will rescue eternal religion.
Me: (very surprised) Really!!
Mataji: Of course, don’t you read Bhagavatam daily?
Me: (ashamed) No mataji.
Mataji: well you should read it. You can now read Bhagavatam on your mobile also, there so many apps.
Me: (more ashamed) Actually I have downloaded all those apps but I do not get time to read SB.
Mataji : I am really worried about future. Should we wait for the Kali yuga to progress at a rapid pace to realise the urgency of going back to Godhead.
Me: (very ashamed) I will start reading Srimad Bhagavatam soon.
Mataji : I am really worried. I do not even know when our time will be up and then we will be born again in this Kali-yuga (‘mildly’ practicing Krishna consciousness ensures at least a human birth)
Me: I am very sorry mataji, I will read it the moment I reach back my room, just now, from today onwards. Thank you so much mataji, I am most grateful to you for stopping me and guiding me to get serious about going back to Godhead and the importance of reading Srimad Bhagavatam daily.
I also remember another conversation with very senior devotee last week who cautioned us that Maya is very clever and she catches us at several levels. At first she will try to catch us at four regulative principles. If she is not successful there then she will try to catch us ‘sadhu ninda’ (making offenses against devotees). If she is not successful there then she will catch us with distractions.
What to do?
Närada advises that one should “patiently endure.” This is advice for the devotee. He should fully engage himself in Kåñëa consciousness with the goal of going back to Godhead, and in the meantime he should tolerate the dualities of life. As Lord Kåñëa advises Arjuna, “O son of Kunté, the nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed” (Bg. 2.14). “Patiently endure” does not mean that one should stoically put up with life’s dualities and not fully engage in Kåñëa consciousness! The devotee spends all his days and moments wholeheartedly engaged in devotional service, but still he has to contend with material upheavals. So in the face of these inevitable changes, he should patiently endure and go on chanting Hare Kåñëa.
(Narada Bhakto Sutra, 77p)
Be always conscious about…
The symptoms of Kali-yuga are very severe, and they will grow more severe. The duration of Kali-yuga is 432,000 years, and although only 5,000 years of it have passed, already we find so many difficulties, and the more we grow into this Kali-yuga, the more the times will be difficult. The best course, therefore, is to complete our Kåñëa consciousness and return home, back to Godhead. That will save us. Otherwise, if we come back again for another life in Kali-yuga, we shall find difficult days ahead, and we shall have to suffer more and more.
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.
Each single verse of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam tastes like transcendental condensed milk of a Surabhi cow mixed with kesar, simply delicious and a nectar most satisfying to even conditioned souls (although it is meant to be tasted by paramhansas – liberated souls). No wonder that, along with Bhagavad-gītā, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the specific scripture meant for kali-yuga.
I am sharing another transcendental verse and its nectarean purport by Srila Prabhupada, for the pleasure of devotees, describing causeless mercy of Krishna.
O my Lord, because You are endowed with causeless mercy, all opulences, all prowess and all glories, strength and transcendental qualities, You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the master of everyone.
This verse, more specifically Srila Prabhupada’s purport, describes how kind is Krishna and how He bestows His causeless mercy on His devotees. Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport (I have taken the liberty to break the purport into short sentences) :
In this verse the words tato ’si bhagavān prabhuḥ mean “Therefore You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the master of everyone.”
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is endowed with all six opulences in full, and moreover He is extremely kind to His devotee. Although He is full in Himself, He nonetheless wants all the living entities to surrender unto Him so that they may engage in His service. Thus He becomes satisfied.
Although He is full in Himself, He nonetheless becomes pleased when His devotee offers Him patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyam — a leaf, flower, fruit or water — in devotion.
Sometimes the Lord, as the child of mother Yaśodā, requests His devotee for some food, as if He were very hungry. Sometimes He tells His devotee in a dream that His temple and His garden are now very old and that He cannot enjoy them very nicely. Thus He requests the devotee to repair them. Sometimes He is buried in the earth, and as if unable to come out Himself, He requests His devotee to rescue Him. Sometimes He requests His devotee to preach His glories all over the world, although He alone is quite competent to perform this task.
Even though the Supreme Personality of Godhead is endowed with all possessions and is self-sufficient, He depends on His devotees.
Therefore the relationship of the Lord with His devotees is extremely confidential. Only the devotee can perceive how the Lord, although full in Himself, depends on His devotee for some particular work. This is explained in Bhagavad-gītā (11.33), where the Lord tells Arjuna, nimitta-mātraṁ bhava savyasācin: “O Arjuna, merely be an instrument in the fight.” Lord Krishna had the competence to win the Battle of Kurukṣetra, but nonetheless He induced His devotee Arjuna to fight and become the cause of victory.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was quite competent enough to spread His name and mission all over the world, but still He depended upon His devotee to do this work.
Considering all these points, the most important aspect of the Supreme Lord’s self-sufficiency is that He depends on His devotees. This is called His causeless mercy.
The devotee who has perceived this causeless mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead by realization can understand the master and the servant.
I strongly suggest that we go back to the beginning of the purport and slowly and carefully read it again, chewing it slowly this time, relishing the sweet nectar.
Could we see any practical application while reading the purport? Here is some food for thought
Do I feel and behave like a master (controller) in my day to day dealings or do I take, and also feel, shelter of Krishna in every step?
When I daily offer bhoga to Krishna then do I make each offering to please Him? (or is to please my own senses?)
Am I surrendered to Krishna (or my spiritual master) and properly engaged in His service. Do I even desire to surrender to Krishna? Can I take some steps to progress in that direction. Rather than endlessly waiting for some future ‘favourable’ circumstances can I make a small beginning today?
Can the Lord depend upon me for any task? Have I purified my consciousness by endeavoring to daily chant offenselessly and by being sincere & serious in my sadhna bhakti.
Do I have even have a desire to become His (or His instrument’s) instrument. If Yes, then do I share my desire with Krishna by daily praying to Him for the same?
Which special devotee Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu sent : Srila Prabhupada! (phew! this was easy)
Do I feel causeless mercy of Lord, and His devotees, on me or am I busy speculating being a victim of family, job, circumstances,……
Do I understand, and hence relish & taste, the sweet relationship between Krishna and His devotees or do I read such pastimes merely as stories from which I try to take ‘moral of the story’?
And, last but not the least, am I reading, and tasting, and relishing, Bhagavatam daily ? How much time does it take to read one verse, and its purport, daily? Do I get the time to read newspaper (or browse internet) daily?
But I am a conditioned soul?
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is so carefully presented that a sincere and serious person can at once enjoy the ripened fruit of Vedic knowledge simply by drinking the nectarean juice through the mouth of Śukadeva Gosvāmī or his bona fide representative.
( A murti of Srila Prabhupada at his birthplace in Tollygunge)
This the the second in the series of three part glorification of Srila Prabhupada’s qualities and the events leading to his departure to USA.
Teacher: Srila Prabhupada was not just a teacher, but also a teacher of teachers for the modern age. He translated more than 70 Vedic books into English and was honoured by many leading scholars. He taught and led by example, embodying the knowledge that he conveyed. He is recognised as ‘Prabhupada’ – one at whose feet the other masters sit.
Compassion: Srila Prabhupada had selfless concern for the welfare of all living beings. He wanted to relieve our suffering, but explained that compassion for the material body alone does not provide a lasting solution. He saw suffering as a symptom of a deeper problem: our misidentification with the temporary material body. He enlightened us about our real identity: the soul.
Hare Krishna: Srila Prabhupada introduced to the West the greatest sound for this age – a spiritual sound vibration called the Maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare The chanting of these holy names is a means to liberate the soul from the material world.
Exasperated with Mr. Choksi’s ineffectiveness, Bhaktivedanta Swami demanded a personal interview. It was granted, and a gray-haired, determined Bhaktivedanta Swami presented his emphatic request: “Please give me one ticket.”
Sumati Morarji was concerned. “Swamiji, you are so old-you are taking this responsibility. Do you think it is all right?”
“No,” he reassured her, lifting his hand as if to reassure a doubting daughter, “it is all right.”
“But do you know what my secretaries think? They say, ‘Swamiji is going to die there.'”
Bhaktivedanta made a face as if to dismiss a foolish rumor. Again he insisted that she give him a ticket. “All right,” she said. “Get your P-form, and I will make an arrangement to send you by our ship.” Bhaktivedanta Swami smiled brilliantly and happily left her offices, past her amazed and skeptical clerks.
A “P-form”-another necessity for an Indian national who wants to leave the country-is a certificate given by the State Bank of India, certifying that the person has no excessive debts in India and is cleared by the banks. That would take a while to obtain. And he also did not yet have a U.S. visa. He needed to pursue these government permissions in Bombay, but he had no place to stay. So Mrs. Morarji agreed to let him reside at the Scindia Colony, a compound of apartments for employees of the Scindia Company.
He stayed in a small, unfurnished apartment with only his trunk and typewriter. The resident Scindia employees all knew that Mrs. Morarji was sending him to the West, and some of them became interested in his cause. They were impressed, for although he was so old, he was going abroad to preach. He was a special sādhu, a scholar. They heard from him how he was taking hundreds of copies of his books with him, but no money. He became a celebrity at the Scindia Colony. Various families brought him rice, sabjī, and fruit. They brought so much that he could not eat it all, and he mentioned this to Mr. Choksi. Just accept it and distribute it, Mr. Choksi advised. Bhaktivedanta Swami then began giving remnants of his food to the children. Some of the older residents gathered to hear him as he read and spoke from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Mr. Vasavada, the chief cashier of Scindia, was particularly impressed and came regularly to learn from the sādhu. Mr. Vasavada obtained copies of Bhaktivedanta Swami’s books and read them in his home.
Bhaktivedanta Swami’s apartment shared a roofed-in veranda with Mr. Nagarajan, a Scindia office worker, and his wife.
Mrs. Nagarajan: Every time when I passed that way, he used to be writing or chanting. I would ask him, “Swamiji, what are you writing?” He used to sit near the window and one after another was translating the Sanskrit. He gave me two books and said, “Child, if you read this book, you will understand.” We would have discourses in the house, and four or five Gujarati ladies used to come. At one of these discourses he told one lady that those who wear their hair parted on the side-that is not a good idea. Every Indian lady should have her hair parted in the center. They were very fond of listening and very keen to hear his discourse.
Every day he would go out trying to get his visa and P-form as quickly as possible, selling his books, and seeking contacts and supporters for his future Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam publishing. Mr. Nagarajan tried to help. Using the telephone directory, he made a list of wealthy business and professional men who were Vaiṣṇavas and might be inclined to assist. Bhaktivedanta Swami’s neighbors at Scindia Colony observed him coming home dead tired in the evening. He would sit quietly, perhaps feeling morose, some neighbors thought, but after a while he would sit up, rejuvenated, and start writing.
Mrs. Nagarajan: When he came home we used to give him courage, and we used to tell him, “Swamiji, one day you will achieve your target.” He would say, “Time is still not right. Time is still not right. They are all ajñānīs. They don’t understand. But still I must carry on.”
Sometimes I would go by, and his cādar would be on the chair, but he would be sitting on the windowsill. I would ask him, “Swamiji, did you have any good contacts?” He would say, “Not much today. I didn’t get much, and it is depressing. Tomorrow Kṛṣṇa will give me more details.” And he would sit there quietly.
After ten minutes, he would sit in his chair and start writing. I would wonder how Swamiji was so tired in one minute and in another minuteñ Even if he was tired, he was not defeated. He would never speak discouragement. And we would always encourage him and say, “If today you don’t get it, tomorrow you will definitely meet some people, and they will encourage you.” And my friends used to come in the morning and in the evening for discourse, and they would give namaskāra and fruits.
Mr. Nagarajan: His temperament was very adjustable and homely. Our friends would offer a few rupees. He would say, “All right. It will help.” He used to walk from our colony to Andheri station. It is two kilometers, and he used to go there without taking a bus, because he had no money.
Bhaktivedanta Swami had a page printed entitled “My Mission,” and he would show it to influential men in his attempts to get further financing for Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The printed statement proposed that God consciousness was the only remedy for the evils of modern materialistic society. Despite scientific advancement and material comforts, there was no peace in the world; therefore, Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the glory of India, must be spread all over the world.
Mrs. Morarji asked Bhaktivedanta Swami if he would read Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam to her in the evening. He agreed. She began sending her car for him at six o’clock each evening, and they would sit in her garden, where he would recite and comment on the Bhāgavatam.
Mrs. Morarji: He used to come in the evening and sing the verses in rhythmic tunes, as is usually done with the Bhāgavatam. And certain points-when you sit and discuss, you raise so many points-he was commenting on certain points, but it was all from the Bhāgavatam. So he used to sit and explain to me and then go. He could give time, and I could hear him. That was for about ten or fifteen days.
His backing by Scindia and his sponsorship in the U.S. were a strong presentation, and with the help of the people at Scindia he obtained his visa on July 28, 1965. But the P-form proceedings went slowly and even threatened to be a last, insurmountable obstacle.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Formerly there was no restriction for going outside. But for a sannyāsī like me, I had so much difficulty obtaining the government permission to go out. I had applied for the P-form sanction, but no sanction was coming. Then I went to the State Bank of India. The officer was Mr. Martarchari. He told me, “Swamiji, you are sponsored by a private man. So we cannot accept. If you were invited by some institution, then we could consider. But you are invited by a private man for one month. And after one month, if you are in difficulty, there will be so many obstacles.” But I had already prepared everything to go. So I said, “What have you done?” He said, “I have decided not to sanction your P-form.” I said, “No, no, don’t do this. You better send me to your superior. It should not be like that.”
So he took my request, and he sent the file to the chief official of foreign exchange-something like that. So he was the supreme man in the State Bank of India. I went to see him. I asked his secretary, “Do you have such-and-such a file. You kindly put it to Mr. Rao. I want to see him.” So the secretary agreed, and he put the file, and he put my name down to see him. I was waiting. So Mr. Rao came personally. He said, “Swamiji, I passed your case. Don’t worry.”
I continue to hear the most amazing seminar given by HG Srimati Mataji on ‘demons in Krishna’s pastimes and the anarthas they represent’. four days back I heard a beautiful interactive discussion during the seminar with Srimati Mataji, HG Madhavananda Prabhuji and other very realised, and fortunate, devotees.
This particular discussion was part of ‘Krishna kills Kamsa’. The reference of pastime of Dakṣa and lord Siva came to discuss the anartha of pride, coming from karma and jnana.
Here is the relevant section from Srimad Bhagavatam to refresh that incident which led to Daksa cursing lord Siva.
When Daksa, the leader of the Prajäpatis, entered that assembly, his personal bodily luster as bright as the effulgence of the sun, the entire assembly was illuminated, and all the assembled personalities became insignificant in his presence. Influenced by his personal bodily luster, all the fire-gods and other participants in that great assembly, with the exceptions of Lord Brahmä and Lord Siva, gave up their own sitting places and stood in respect for Daksa.
Daksa was adequately welcomed by the president of the great assembly, Lord Brahmä. After offering Lord Brahmä respect, Daksa, by the order of Brahmä, properly took his seat.
Before taking his seat, however, Daksa was very much offended to see Lord Siva sitting and not showing him any respect. At that time, Daksa became greatly angry, and, his eyes glowing, he began to speak very strongly against Lord Siva. All sages, brahmanas and fire-gods present, please hear me with attention, for I speak about the manners of gentle persons. I do not speak out of ignorance or envy. Siva has spoiled the name and fame of the governors of the universe and has polluted the path of gentle manners. Because he is shameless, he does not know how to act. He has already accepted himself as my subordinate by marrying my daughter in the presence of fire and brahmanas. He has married my daughter, who is equal to Gäyatri, and has pretended to be just like an honest person. He has eyes like a monkey’s, yet he has married my daughter, whose eyes are just like those of a deer cub. Nevertheless he did not stand up to receive me, nor did he think it fit to welcome me with sweet words. I had no desire to give my daughter to this person, who has broken all rules of civility. Because of not observing the required rules and regulations, he is impure, but I was obliged to hand over my daughter to him just as one teaches the messages of the Vedas to a Sudra. He lives in filthy places like crematoriums, and his companions are the ghosts and demons. Naked like a madman, sometimes laughing and sometimes crying, he smears crematorium ashes all over his body. He does not bathe regularly, and he ornaments his body with a garland of skulls and bones. Therefore only in name is he Siva, or auspicious; actually, he is the most mad and inauspicious creature. Thus he is very dear to crazy beings in the gross mode of ignorance, and he is their leader. (SB 4.2.5-15)
“Daksa then cursed Lord Siva. Unable to tolerate this, Nandishvara, one of Lord Siva’s principal associate cursed Daksa and all the brahmanas present. Then, as a reaction the sage Bhrgu cursed the followers of Lord Siva.”
The sage Maitreya said: When such cursing and counter cursing was going on between Lord Śiva’s followers and the parties of Dakṣa and Bhṛgu, Lord Śiva became very morose. Not saying anything, he left the arena of the sacrifice, followed by his disciples. (SB 4.2.33)
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport for the above verse : Here Lord Śiva’s excellent character is described. In spite of the cursing and counter cursing between the parties of Dakṣa and Śiva, because he is the greatest Vaiṣṇava he was so sober that he did not say anything. A Vaiṣṇava is always tolerant, and Lord Śiva is considered the topmost Vaiṣṇava, so his character, as shown in this scene, is excellent. He became morose because he knew that these people, both his men and Dakṣa’s, were unnecessarily cursing and counter cursing one another, without any interest in spiritual life. From his point of view, he did not see anyone as lower or higher, because he is a Vaiṣṇava. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (5.18), paṇḍitāḥ sama-darśinaḥ: one who is perfectly learned does not see anyone as lesser or greater, because he sees everyone from the spiritual platform. Thus the only alternative left to Lord Śiva was to leave in order to stop his follower, Nandīśvara, as well as Bhṛgu Muni, from cursing and counter cursing in that way.
People’s association with karma and jnana is the result of attachment born from the prejudices of one’s nature that are produced from past karma and jnana…Karmis and jnanis disrespect Vaishnavas only due to this attachment for prejudices…Offenses at the feet of sadhus is due to being proud of one’s karma and jnana…(Such) worldly attachment is contrary to acceptance of Krishna’s undisputed supremacy, and it therefore does not allow the unfortunate living entity to fully surrender to the Lord. (Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Sri Bhaktyaloka, “Sanga-tyaga”)
Srimati Mataji then asked the devotees to share there realisation or understanding from the above hearing.
Devotee 1: She shared how when she read the same pastime in Harivamsa Purana there was no mention of how Sati gave up her body and how Siva was offended and how it is given in complete detail in Srimad Bhagavatam. And without these details one could miss the whole point from this pastime. So we are very fortunate to have Srimad Bhagavatam and Prabhupada commentaries.
Srimati Mataji then recounted the same day’s morning lecture which a Sanyasi, I couldn’t get the name, gave at the temple. Maharaj compared Srimad Bhagavatam to the other puranas. Maharaj stated that a major difference between other puranas and Bhagavata Purana is that the Bhagvata purana is concerned only with glorification of Krishna and His devotees. This is a very common thing which is happening throughout the Bhagavatam. Where as there are different emphasis in other puranas, they basically talk about God, they are not talking about Krishna and His associates. In Bhagavatam we get the essence of all things.
The devotee then shared how so many people who have read shastra they keep on arguing about what they read, how their own understanding is right, I know this and I have read that…. but it is only after reading Bhagavatam does one get complete understanding and knowledge.
Srimati mataji added that in the teachings of Lord Kapila Deva in SB 3.29, Lord Kapila states that devotional service is never contaminated but the people who perform are! And they can actually perform it in eighty one different ways, eighty one different modes. (SB 3.29.10). Mataji said this is where the quality of humility comes in.
Srimati Mataji said that these days humility is going out of the window, and we can see how it is going out. Mataji asked ‘Why in the Vedic times, in the gurukul, students would clean everything, they will clean the toilets, they will clean their ashram, wash their own clothes – didn’t send them to a Dhobi. Why ? Because if we want the knowledge to manifest in our heart in a pure and simple way then there has to be humility. And by doing those menial services we imbibe that mood.That we are not someone special. Not like everyone else can clean the ashram and I can read a book! not like that. Mataji said that’s how we see that the real sadhus in Vrindavan they don’t have cleaners. They do everything themselves, they wash their own clothes, they don’t have cooks. I am Thakurji’s servant… I am living here as a servant….servant does these things…servant cleans the house…servant cooks for Thakurji, this is the mood.
Devotee 2: She stated that her understanding from the above is that its Pride which leads one to his downfall. Daksa is expecting respect from Siva, similarly if we have this kind of expectation that people should respect me then it is a sure sign that we will fall down.
Srimati mataji : I really like the input given by Bhaktivinoda Thakura about this attachment to karma and jnana. Daksha was really like a karmi, a first class karmi! So his whole analysis of Siva is through those lenses, Siva doesn’t follow rules and regulations, doesn’t take his bath, and all this stuff. He is looking at him through karma yoga.
Devotee 1 : And Daksa may be he thinking that Siva is making his daughter fall down by not following all the rules, he is not taking bath and all, whereas Daksha had trained his daughter with such high standards!
Devotee 3: This devotee shared that she liked the first devotee’s point of Bhagavatam being so nice and we being so fortunate. She shared how in her initial days in ISKCON she had no ‘ruchi’ (taste) for reading Bhagavatam. Then one prabhuji told her that for increasing attachment, reading Bhagavatam, if we offer one Tulasi to Bhagavatam then Krishna becomes pleased because He is non different from Bhagavatam! And if you offer Tulasi every day then ‘ruchi’ will come. The devotee shared how she started doing it and she started getting taste. Within a short time she not only developed a ‘ruchi’ for bhagavatam but was also received association so many devotees who were all Bhagavatam lovers. Hari Bol !
Madhavanada Prabhuji : Srila Prabhupada writes that both his men and Dakṣa’s, were unnecessarily cursing and counter cursing one another, without any interest in spiritual life. Prabhuji quoted Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, who stated that, when people cultivate ‘information-collection’, they cultivate ‘jnana’, they cultivate ‘karma’, some behavioral patterns, without cultivating service to the Vaishnavas, then what happens is that they think that’s spiritual life. And they think that they have become a judge of other people. Rather than they are trying to serve guru, it doesn’t mean that we should not read Bhagavatam- Prabhupada wanted every devotee to read it. But it is one thing to read Bhagavatam as a service to Prabhupada but many other people in the west, we used try to kind of ‘master’ a book. Prabhuji stressed that we can’t ‘master’ Bhagavatam, we can serve the Bhagavatam by serving ‘bhakt’ (devotee) Bhagavat, by preaching, by reading something and trying to help devotees with it.
Prabhuji cautioned that if we just read Bhagavatam only to gather some information, and not doing service, then the result is that we have something but what it turns into is pride! Prabhuji said that’s what it seemed to have happened here, Daksa was seeing that Siva is not auspicious, he wears skulls , doesn’t take bath and this and that. By some point of view of Shastra we can say that, the skulls are very inauspicious, not taking bath is very inauspicious and they have all this information. But because they are not doing service to the Vaishanavas they can’t understand it and they get involve in unnecessary quarrel!
Prabhuji said without service one may think that I am doing the same thing as this senior devotee. I am reading , he is reading, I am chanting, he is chanting but there is a difference in their mood. That devotees is doing it as a service to his guru. And if I am not doing it as a service then the result is I get very proud and then I start seeing faults in others, and feel that I have to correct others.
Devotee 4: This devotee said her that she felt inspired from the line ‘lord Siva felt morose and left the arena without saying any word to others or his disciples’. She shared that she thought that if we really know where we are, where do we want to go and what we want to cultivate then we should not get involve in such things. People can curse and counter curse and if they don’t have faith in you, obviously Daksa had no faith in lord Siva, then just don’t say anything, let them think what they wish to think and just leave.
Madhavanada Prabhuji shared how one acharya has explained that Krishna told the Vrajavasis to close their eyes in both the pastimes of forest fires. But the in the second forest time the next verse stated that the heat was very intense. Prabhuji shared that he thought it was very interesting that though Krishna told them to close their eyes they could still experience the pain and the fire. Prabhuji stated that in a Similar way we may close our eyes to all these arguments we are told to but sometime we still feel the ‘burning sensation’ but like Lord Siva we should just walk away. The ‘burning sensation’ may be there but we should just leave.
Prabhuji shared another gem that Fakir Mohan Prabhuji shared with him that `amanina manadena’ (one should offer all respects to others and expect nothing in return) this is the secret Mahāprabhu has given for our bhajan. Prabhuji said if we just tolerate when other people offend us and we offer them respect then they will leave us alone and ignore us. They won’t take us very seriously. Then we can chant peacefully. Others may think that O! he is not such a maha pandit we thought so, actually I am the maha Pandita. We don’t need a big titles or others to say that he is very knowledgeable to grow in bhakti.
Devotee 1: She shared how she heard in a lecture by HH Radha Govinda Maharaj that his (Siva’s) part (or share) in the sacrificial fire, lord Siva (in the above pastime), he really didn’t want it. Similarly at the time at the time of ‘churning of the milk ocean’ lord Siva didn’t come for drinking the Nectar. He is not interested.
Madhavanada Prabhuji added that when demigods first went to Krishna, how we are going to solve this problem- poison came out. Then Krishna said ‘go and ask lord Siva’. They approached lord Siva. Lord Siva told them why are you asking me ? You should ask Krishna. When demigods told him that Krishna told them to see him then lord Siva said Oh! I have service! He went with demigods and drank the poison instead of the nectar.
The devotee recounted how in the class HH Radha Govind maharaj exclaimed ‘What a nice person!’. He just drank poison for the benefit of everyone but for the nectar he didn’t come. He doesn’t need anything he has got the Amrit (holy name).
This whole discussion felt so nectarean to my ears that I heard it repeatedly. Every time I will hear it, I would catch something new. Then I felt inspired to share it with everyone. I am sorry that this blog went too long, I hope, somehow, I am able to funnel this nectar into my childish words and serve you all in a small way.
I was a preparing for a brief session on the second chapter of book `Essence of Bhagavad Gita’ last two days on material miseries, namely adhyaatmik, adibhautik and adidaivik kleshas. As I was preparing for the class I thought that this particular session is getting more heavy in negativity. Some times we also hear that we have no solution to them and the only way is to tolerate them. I wrote about these three miseries in my last blog on how one can attain peace. But some piece seemed to be missing in my heart.
Hence it was a great coincidence that yesterday morning I read some wonderful verses in Bhagavatam, SB 3.25.23, 24 & 25 and their enlightening purports by Srila Prabhupada on this very same topic. They showed how simple and easy the process to overcome material miseries really is. It is we who have no faith in it. This chapter is very aptly named `The Glories of Devotional Service’.
Engaged constantly in chanting and hearing about Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the sādhus do not suffer from material miseries because they are always filled with thoughts of My pastimes and activities.
Who can overcome the three miseries of the material world.
Sadhus or devotees of the Lord to overcome three miseries of the material world.
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport that There are multifarious miseries in material existence — those pertaining to the body and the mind, those imposed by other living entities and those imposed by natural disturbances. But a sādhu is not disturbed by such miserable conditions because his mind is always filled with Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and thus he does not like to talk about anything but the activities of the Lord. Mahārāja Ambarīṣa did not speak of anything but the pastimes of the Lord. Vacāṁsi vaikuṇṭha-guṇānuvarṇane (Bhāg. 9.4.18). He engaged his words only in glorification of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Sādhus are always interested in hearing about the activities of the Lord or His devotees. Since they are filled with Kṛṣṇa consciousness, they are forgetful of the material miseries. Ordinary conditioned souls, being forgetful of the activities of the Lord, are always full of anxieties and material tribulations. On the other hand, since the devotees always engage in the topics of the Lord, they are forgetful of the miseries of material existence.
So what should we do to overcome these miseries ?
ta ete sādhavaḥ sādhvi sarva-saṅga-vivarjitāḥ
saṅgas teṣv atha te prārthyaḥ saṅga-doṣa-harā hi te (SB 3.25.24)
O My mother, O virtuous lady, these are the qualities of great devotees who are free from all attachment. You must seek attachment to such holy men, for this counteracts the pernicious effects of material attachment.
Prabhupada writes Kapila Muni herein advises His mother, Devahūti, that if she wants to be free from material attachment, she should increase her attachment for the sādhus, or devotees who are completely freed from all material attachment…… A person may be materially very rich, opulent or respectable, but if he at all wants to transfer himself to the spiritual kingdom, back home, back to Godhead, then he has to be freed from the puffed-up condition of material possessiveness, because that is a false position.
A pure soul who is prepared to be freed from this material entanglement must first of all be free from the association of the three modes of nature. Our consciousness at the present moment is polluted because of association with the three modes of nature; therefore in Bhagavad-gītā the same principle is stated. It is advised, jita-saṅga-doṣāḥ: one should be freed from the contaminated association of the three modes of material nature. Here also, in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, this is confirmed: a pure devotee, who is preparing to transfer himself to the spiritual kingdom, is also freed from the association of the three modes of material nature. We have to seek the association of such devotees.
Where to find such association?
Prabhupada say ‘For this reason we have begun the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. There are many mercantile, scientific and other associations in human society to develop a particular type of education or consciousness, but there is no association which helps one to get free from all material association. If anyone has reached the stage where he must become free from this material contamination, then he has to seek the association of devotees, wherein Kṛṣṇa consciousness is exclusively cultured. One can thereby become freed from all material association’.
How is it possible?Give an example.
Prabhupada explains ‘Because a devotee is freed from all contaminated material association, he is not affected by the miseries of material existence. Even though he appears to be in the material world, he is not affected by the miseries of the material world. How is it possible? There is a very good example in the activities of the cat. The cat carries her kittens in her mouth, and when she kills a rat she also carries the booty in her mouth. Thus both are carried in the mouth of the cat, but they are in different conditions. The kitten feels comfort in the mouth of the mother, whereas when the rat is carried in the mouth of the cat, the rat feels the blows of death. Similarly, those who are sādhavaḥ, or devotees engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness in the transcendental service of the Lord, do not feel the contamination of material miseries, whereas those who are not devotees in Kṛṣṇa consciousness actually feel the miseries of material existence. One should therefore give up the association of materialistic persons and seek the association of persons engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and by such association he will benefit in spiritual advancement. By their words and instructions, he will be able to cut off his attachment to material existence’.
Just reading these verses and their nectarean purports filled my heart with a feeling of spiritual bliss and more faith that as we progress in our devotional journey and take shelter of the lotus of Lord and His devotees then all miseries of the world become the size of mustard seeds. We must continue to seek and serve such devotees of the Lord and make our life successful.
My little session too ended on a positive note last evening as I now know of an assured solution to these three seeming insurmountable problems.