This is the second part of the blog on six branches of Vedic philosophy. In the last blog we read about these different philosophies orṣaḍ-darśana, today we will read how they are connected with each other, each leading to another, like the rung of a ladder. Below is an excerpt from the book Ocean of Mercy by HH Bhakti Charu Swami. Maharaj is with Srila Prabhupada, the place is Rishikesh, somewhere between May 5 and May 15, 1977. Please relish the ease with which Srila Prabhupada unravels them.
Often, when senior devotees were gathered around Śrīla Prabhupāda in his room, he would spontaneously instruct them about devotional service.
On one such occasion, when I was sitting with the group, he said that an ideal preacher should have the proper understanding of the six branches of Vedic philosophy, ṣaḍ-darśana. “When one understands them properly,” he declared, “one can understand that devotional service is the ultimate goal of the Vedas. Only then does one become eligible to impart the conclusion of Vedic wisdom.”
I listened, a question flashed in my mind. Śrīla Prabhupāda had mentioned in his books that five out of six branches of Vedic philosophy were atheistic, so how could an understanding of those branches lead to the conclusion that devotional service to Krishna was the ultimate goal? I still felt shy to ask questions in front of the others, so I remained silent. But at night, when I was alone with Śrīla Prabhupāda, I remembered Tamāl Krishna’s advice. So I gathered my courage and asked, “Srila Prabhupada, in your books you mention that five of the six branches of ṣaḍ-darśana are considered atheistic. And at the beginning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Nārada Muni points out to Śrīla Vyāsadeva that even the sixth branch—Vedānta—is tinged with impersonalism. So that also falls short of perfection. Why, then, is it necessary to study them, and how is that knowledge going to benefit us? Is it in order to defeat the proponents of the other doctrines?”
Śrīla Prabhupāda seemed pleased with my question. “No,”he explained, “our main business is not to defeat others, but to establish the fact that devotion to Krishna— Krishna consciousness—is the ultimate spiritual goal. This material nature is the perverted reflection of the spiritual reality. We have to understand that whatever is here in this world has its origin in the spiritual world. When in a reflection of a tree we see the green leaves, red flowers, and yellow fruits, we have to understand that they must be there in the real tree. Otherwise how can they be in the reflection? Everything is coming from the spiritual sky. Whatever is here in this material nature is also existing in the spiritual reality. “The perfect perception is to see things in that light. The Vedas have been designed to reveal the identity of Krishna and bring the living entities to His lotus feet. The six branches of Vedic philosophy are actually six steps of gradual elevation to understanding the ultimate goal—devotion to Krishna.
Six branches of Vedic Philosophy
“These six branches are Pūrva-mīmāṁsā [preliminary conclusions, or Karma-mīmāṁsā], Nyāya [logic], Vaiśeṣika [atomic theory], Sāṅkhya [analytical studies], Yoga [linking with the Supreme Lord], and Uttara-mīmāṁsā [final conclusions], Vedānta. If you simply regard them as independent branches of philosophy and study them without their relation to Krishna, they appear to be atheistic. These six branches are like rungs on a ladder. The rungs of the ladder by themselves cannot be the real goal. Their actual utility is in relation to the ladder, and the purpose of the ladder is to reach the ultimate height—devotional service to Krishna.
“The Vedas impart three levels of understanding—karma-kāṇḍa, jñāna-kāṇḍa, and bhakti.
Initially, one in this material nature wants to enjoy through sense gratification, and the karma-kāṇḍa section of the Vedas gives directions on how to enjoy. As you act, accordingly you will get the result: right action leads to enjoyment and wrong action to suffering. This is called the law of karma—the principle of action and reaction. Therefore, one must know how to act in order to really enjoy. Which can lead one to the highest region of the material universe—Satyaloka, where Lord Brahmā is situated. “However, in spite of all endeavors for enjoyment, one eventually realizes that he cannot avoid suffering—uninterrupted enjoyment is not possible in this material nature; suffering comes on its own and is unavoidable.
“When a person begins to wonder why he is suffering and tries to find the way out of it, he comes to the jñāna-kāṇḍa platform, and through four branches of Vedic philosophy—Nyāya, Vaiśeṣika, Sāṅkhya, and Yoga—he gradually transcends the material world and establishes his connection to the Lord in the heart.
Through Nyāya he comes to understand that this material nature is a place of suffering, duḥkhālayam, and that the material body is a perfect instrument for receiving pain. For example, just consider how many ways you can inflict pain on your little finger, or any part of your body, but you will find so few ways to give it pleasure—from which we can conclude that this material body is a wonderful instrument for receiving pain.
“Thereafter, one begins to consider what this material nature really is, and through the Vaiśeṣika branch of philosophy he realizes that the perceivable material world is actually composed of the minutest particles, called paramāṇu, or atoms. But to our senses it takes various shapes, forms, and perceptions. In other words, what appears to our senses to be real is not actually real. Therefore, this material nature is an illusion.
“This leads to the next branch of Vedic philosophy, called Sāṅkhya, or analytical study, which describes the material nature consisting of five elements—earth, water, fire, air, and ether, and the individual with five senses—eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin. The senses interact with the elements, and five objects of the senses are generated: the ears interact with ether, and sound is produced; the skin interacts with air, and touch is produced; the eyes interact with fire, and form is produced; the tongue interacts with water, and taste is produced; and the nose interacts with earth, and smell is produced. “There are also five working senses, with which we become active in this world—namely, the hands, legs, voice, anus, and genitals. In this way Sāṅkhya philosophy determines twenty tattvas, or aspects of material nature, and then considers three subtle elements beyond that—the mind, intelligence, and false ego—and subsequently, the mahat-tattva, the total material energy, from which the entire creation became manifest. “Through these twenty-four manifestations, Sāṅkhya philosophy analyzes the entire material nature. However, it concludes that these twenty-four manifestations are objective in nature and cannot exist without the subject—the ‘I’, the self, the soul. The entire material nature has been analyzed, but the soul cannot be found there; therefore, it comes from another reality—the spiritual nature—and has its origin, its source, in the Supreme Soul, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In this way, Sāṅkhya philosophy takes one to the spiritual reality and transcends the material nature.
“Recognition of the fact that the soul is a part of the Supreme Personality of Godhead leads to the final aspect of jñāna-kāṇḍa, called Yoga. Yoga is the process by which the spirit soul becomes connected to the Supersoul, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This process has eight different stages, or limbs; therefore, it is called aṣṭāṅga-yoga—yama, niyama, āsana, prāṇāyāma, pratyāhāra, dhyāna, dhāraṇā, and samādhi. In the final stage, samādhi, one perceives the Supersoul—the Supreme Personality of Godhead—in one’s heart. Recognizing one’s minuteness and the greatness of the Supreme Lord, one’s head automatically bends down in respect and one surrenders to Him.
“This surrender to the Lord is the very foundation of devotional service—bhakti, the main aspect of the final branch of Vedic philosophy—and it has been explained through the sixth branch of Vedic philosophy, called Uttara-mīmāṁsā, or the final conclusion. It is also called Vedānta. The Vedanta philosophy is based on the Vedānta-sūtra, which apparently refers to the impersonal Brahman, but in his natural commentary on the Vedānta-sūtra, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Śrīla Vyāsadeva establishes that surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead and loving devotional service to Him is the actual objective of Vedānta philosophy. Thus bhakti takes one beyond liberation to engagement in loving devotional service to the Lord. “In this way, through karma-kāṇḍa and jñāna-kāṇḍa, one is gradually elevated to the ultimate point of devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is the perfect understanding of the six branches of Vedic philosophy.”
I hope we learned something about six branches of Vedic philosophy, their conclusions, how each one leads to the next one, leading to their final destination- the lotus feet of Sri Krishna.
It is our good fortune that by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada many complex topics have been revealed to us in an easy to understand manner. It may be a good idea to read Srila Prabhupada’s books every day.
Some days back, after a class describing Krishna’s appearance as Vamana Deva, I had an interesting discussion with Shyamsundar Prabhuji on how Lord was more favourable to Bali maharaj than Indra, for whose apparent and immediate help Lord came as Vamana Deva. In the past I also had questions like what prompted Lord to go with Bali maharaj as his ‘gatekeeper’ after this particular pastime, why does Krishna protects Indra even after so many offenses, what happens to the present Indra after Bali maharaj would take the post of Indra in the next manvantara and are there some other lessons from this sweet pastime. As the mystery unraveled I again saw how deep are Krishna’s unpredictable and wondrous pastimes.
The first clarity came due to the mercy of a senior Prabhuji, which I am sharing in brief.
First we read the two relevant verses from Srimad Bhagavatam.
Translation Bali Mahārāja has now become extremely powerful because of the benedictions given him by the brāhmaṇas, but when he later insults the brāhmaṇas, he will be vanquished, along with his friends and assistants.
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport that Bali Maharaja and Indra were enemies. Therefore, when Bṛhaspati, the spiritual master of the demigods, predicted that Bali Mahārāja would be vanquished when he insulted the brāhmaṇas by whose grace he had become so powerful, Bali Mahārāja’s enemies were naturally anxious to know when that opportune moment would come. To pacify King Indra, Bṛhaspati assured him that the time would certainly come, for Bṛhaspati could see that in the future Bali Mahārāja would defy the orders of Śukrācārya in order to pacify Lord Viṣṇu, Vāmanadeva. Of course, to advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one can take all risks. To please Vāmanadeva, Bali Mahārāja risked defying the orders of his spiritual master, Śukrācārya. Because of this, he would lose all his property, yet because of devotional service to the Lord, he would get more than he expected, and in the future, in the eighth manvantara, he would occupy the throne of Indra again.
Prabhuji explained that Bali Maharaj was banished to Sutala since he had disrespected his spiritual master, as predicted by Brahispatiji, and lost all his property and opulence which he had gained from Indra. However, since he had desire and he was under the shelter of the Supreme Lord, Lord promised to make him Indra. Present Indra is certainly sinful: there are so many references: disrespecting Brahispatiji, Supreme Lord etc. Therefore present Indra will be born in Asura family in next manvantara as Bali Maharaj and once he fully surrenders to Lord in next manvantara, he will go back to Godhead.
So why does Lord keep protecting Indra?
Prabhuji explained that Krishna keeps doing this to keep the sanctity of Indra as position not specifically Indra Deva who is very much falliable and as stated by Srila Prabhupada many times in his purports. Everybody has path to come back to Godhead and since he is serving Lord by doing his duties directed by Supreme Lord, it’s the mercy of Supreme Lord.
The conclusion of the above two verses is that Bali Maharaj will become Indra Deva (this doesn’t mean Bali Maharaj will be like current Indra, it means in next manvantara Indra’s position will be occupied by a pure devotee).
Prabhuji also cautioned us that while reading such pastimes we should not become disrespectful towards Indra, even though he is sinful, as he is surely more pure than us and Krishna consciousness teaches us to see everyone as part and parcel of Lord and take humble position. In heart we should not think anything negative about Indra Deva. We should state negatives only from learning perspective to others.
Hence once one become Lord’s pure devotee, Lord protects him from everything and is with him all the time. Brahaspatiji is very dear to Lord so He had to go to Sutala to protect Bali maharaj from all asuras and malefic of being in Sutala. Lord had committed to Bali Maharaj after his surrender, He will be always with him. Prabhuji mentioned that in one of the lecture HH Bhakti Charu swami had stated that Bali Maharaj had never taken Lord as gatekeeper of Sutala but as his protector as he was now aware that he is susceptible to falling and since he is now completely dependent on Krishna.Lord is protecting Bali Maharaj and would then take him to Godhead after his next avatara as Indra.
In one of the `Back to Godhead’ article, Sept/Oct 2008 issue, on the same topic, HG Aja Govinda Prabhuji wrote:
‘We also learn from this pastime that the highest compassion of the Lord is His depriving His devotee of all material defenses so that the devotee can surrender unto Him unconditionally. The Lord does this to increase the devotees’ loving reliance upon Him, freeing them from dependence on their fleeting worldly powers.’
Prabhuji wrote at the end of his above mentioned article that ‘ The Lord often acts in unpredictably wondrous ways, but His pastimes always set the true dharma for the benefit of everyone. Vamanadeva’s recovering the heavens from Bali and delivering them to the demigods benefited both Indra and Bali. They both obtained their kingdoms, but also something of much higher value: deep trust and love for Vamanadeva, who fulfilled double roles as Indra’s younger brother and Bali’s protector.
This pastime also glorifies Bali Maharaja’s unwavering resolve to fulfill his vow in any circumstance. Bali Maharaja is one of the twelve great personalities (mahajanas) revered for their exclusive devotion to the Lord even in the most trying situations.’
Prabhuji wrote the entire pastime with all the back ground of how Prahlada maharaj renounced his throne and then how his son Virochana became the king and then why did his son, Bali maharaj, started fighting with demigods? It is all very interesting but too long to write it in this blog, but it’s a must read. Kindly read the same by clicking here.
This pastime also corroborate what we read in the last blog that Krishna’s actions are good for everyone, that Krishna always treat everyone equally and all His acts convey auspiciousness, with no malice towards anyone.
So simply due to a chance ‘discussion’ with a sincere devotee so many wonderful learning got unraveled.
All glories to the glorious pastimes of Vamana Deva.
Kindly accept my good wishes for Gaur Purnima and Holi.
I had the good fortune, or some sukriti, to be able to attend the sanyasa diksha of HG Ganganarayan Prabhuji, who is now HH Bhakti Prema Swami, at Ujjain yesterday. He is the first disciple of HH Bhakti Charu Swami to get sanyasa diksha. I took darshan of guru maharaj, that too on Gaur Purnima day, and association of so many senior vaishnavas and then saw an exceptionally qualified devotee & disciple becoming a sanyasi. So it was all extra extra bonuses for my parched soul.
I didn’t have the good fortune to get too much association of HH Bhakti Prema Maharaj but whenever I have met maharaj in the past he always gave me something- to act upon, to contemplate or to follow. I have never met him without receiving some form of mercy from him. Maharaj is very humble in nature, does wonderful Gaur katha & deep explanations of vaishnava bhajans, in other words maharaj is adorned with the finest of vaishnava qualities. Maharaj is a qualified MBBS doctor who surrendered to his spiritual master in his very first meeting with him.
HH Bhakti Prema Swami accepting greetings after receiving his sanyasa diksha,
HH Bhakti Prema Maharaj later meeting devotees in his room
I could get association of HH Bhakti Prema Maharaj who met devotees and answered their questions with ease and in a style we could all absorb it.
HH Bhakti Charu swami maharaj too met devotees briefly and informed, to the delight of all the present, that there is going to be a mid year retreat in Rishikesh, India, this year. Hari Bol !
Later, I was fortunate to meet so many senior devotees from all over the country. At one such time I was in association of HG Mukunda Priya Prabhuji and other devotees from Surat, all listening with rapt attention to HG Parashurama Prabhuji’s witty anecdotes. During the conversation Prabhuji asked `who is a vaishnava?’, we all knew that something different was coming our way. Prabhuji then narrated a very nice story which I am sharing below.
Many years back there was a disciple in Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya, at Srirangam, who once asked Parasara Bhatt `what are the true qualities of a Vaishnava? Parasara Bhatt did not give a direct answer and instead instructs this devotee to go to Tirupati and ask this question from Ananta Acharya. The devotee, after several days of travel, reached Tirupati. After reaching there he met Ananta Acharya and asked the same question. To his surprise, Ananta Acharya ignores his question. When the devotee observes that Ananta Acharya didn’t reply he feels that may be he is not qualified to ask such a question or may be didn’t ask the question in a submissive mood and he needs to become more humble. He then start serving the temple and devotees. After some time there was a festival in the temple and a lot of devotees were attending it. Ananta Acharya saw this devotee sitting down and waiting to honour the prasadam. He asked the devotee to first serve all the other devotees before taking his prasadam. The devotee readily gets up and enthusiastically serves till the last guest was fed.
After the festival was over Ananta Acharya called this devotee and told him that he will now reply to his question. He answered that a true Vaishnava is like a crane, like a hen, like salt and like you. The devotee thanked him but he could not understand its real meaning. He comes back to Parasara Bhatt, narrates him the whole story and then requests him to explain its meaning to him. Parasara Bhatt, of course, understood it all and explained as :
Crane: A crane stands on one leg for hours and keep looking in the water. If he sees a small fish, he let it pass but as soon as he sees a big fish he immediately catches it. Similarly a Vaishnava does not want to hear the talk of mundane people who are like small fish but he is eager to feast on the wisdom of great devotees who are like a big fish. Also a crane’s colour is white, symbol for purity and pure goodness. In the same way the heart of a Vaishnava is always completely pure and his actions are always for the good of others. Another quality of a crane is that during the change of season a crane flies hundreds of kilometers to a new country/region. Similarly when a Vaishnava sees that a place in which he is living is full of material dealings, he will leave that place and seek the association of true devotees elsewhere.
Hen: A hen goes to garbage bins which are full of rubbish and picks out some very wholesome seeds, it eats them and feeds them to the kids. Similarly, a Vaishnava is Saragrahi, he is only concerned with the essence not with other things. So a vaishnava picks up the essence of all the shastras, filtering out the rest, and gives the same to others as well.
Salt: When we taste a delicious preparation, we usually glorify different items but not the salt. Actually it is the salt which brings out the flavour in any preparation but no one talks about it, it remains hidden. Similarly a true Vaishnava is forever willing to do great service and yet he doesn’t want any glory for himself and wants to remain hidden. As as in order to give flavor to the preparation, the salt is willing to melt and completely willing to give up its identity, similarly, a Vaishnava too is willing to give up everything just to serve the devotees.
You : It means that like you served other devotee, a vaishnava always serves others.
What a beautiful way to explain the characteristics of a Vaishnava! I really liked the comparison of vaishnava with the salt.
HH Bhakti Prema swami has all the above four attributes in generous amount.
It was an impromptu trip, which I hastily planned after speaking with Murari Prabhuji. We, myself and Shyamsundar prabhuji, spent less than 6 hours in Ujjain and almost 24 hours in the train journey but my soul felt satiated due to association with so many vaishnavas, from the beginning to the very end of my trip.
All glories to our illustrious guru parampara.
All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
P.s.: A new page has been added on our blog called `Srimad Bhagavatam teaches’ where I have posted all my notes from Srimad Bhagavatam in Q&A form here. I request you to kindly visit this page by clicking the link below and give your feedback and guidance on how to improve it.
More than a year back, HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj came to ISKCON Gurgaon centre and spoke a verse from Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta which somehow slowly, yet firmly, got settled inside my heart. It describes top five limbs of devotional service. Maharaj instructed everyone to memorise this wonderful verse. The verse was
In this powerful verse from madhya lila Mahāprabhu describes the process of devotional service to Sri Sanatana Goswami. In the beginning He describes the truth about the living entity and the super excellence of devotional service. He then describes the uselessness of mental speculation and mystic yoga. In all circumstances the living entity is recommended to accept the path of devotional service as personally explained by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. The speculative method of the so-called jñānīs is considered a waste of time, and that is proved in this chapter. An intelligent person should abandon the processes of karma-kāṇḍa, jñāna-kāṇḍa and mystic yoga. There are sixty-four items listed in regulative devotional service, and out of these sixty-four the last five are considered very important.
“These five limbs of devotional service are the best of all. Even a slight performance of these five awakens love for Kṛṣṇa.
( CC Madhya 22.129)
Prabhupada quotes the below verse from the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, in his purport –
aṅgānāṁ pañcakasyāsya pūrva-vilikhitasya ca
nikhila-śraiṣṭhya-bodhāya punar apy atra śaṁsanam
“The glorification of these five items [association with devotees, chanting the holy name and so on] is to make known the complete superiority of these five practices of devotional service.”
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu continues to glorify these five limbs of devotional service to Srila Sanatana Goswami –
“‘With love and full faith one should worship the lotus feet of the Deity. One should taste the meaning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in the association of pure devotees, and one should associate with the devotees who are more advanced than oneself and who are endowed with a similar type of affection for the Lord. One should congregationally chant the holy name of the Lord and reside in Vṛndāvana.’
‘The power of these five principles is very wonderful and difficult to understand. Even without faith in them, a person who is offenseless can awaken his dormant love of Kṛṣṇa simply by being a little connected with them.’
“When one is firmly fixed in devotional service, whether he executes one or many processes of devotional service, the waves of love of Godhead will awaken.
“There are many devotees who execute only one of the nine processes of devotional service. Nonetheless, they get ultimate success. Devotees like Mahārāja Ambarīṣa execute all nine items, and they also get ultimate success.
What is most amazing is if we analyse how Srila Prabhupada made the structure of ISKCON based on these five limbs of devotional service.
In one of his lectures HH Bhakti Charu Swami said ‘Prabhupada actually designed ISKCON in such a way that anyone who is engaged in Krishna consciousness in ISKCON is automatically performing these five activities. The first aspect is sadhu sangha, anyone who is in ISKCON is getting the association of the sadhus. Similarly anyone who is in ISKCON must attend the Bhagavatam class and at least read for some time every day, so this is how one is reading scriptures. Anyone who is in ISKCON worships the deity, although not all of us worship the deity directly but by attending mangala-arati and the morning program we automatically do that. Then comes residing in the holy dhama, all temples of Krishna are non-different from Goloka Vrindavana. Therefore, those who are living in the temple, or those whose consciousness is in the temple, are actually residing in Mathura. In this way Prabhupada has given us the simple process for Krishna consciousness.’
Now I realise why so many senior devotees always stress that we have to simply remain in ISKCON, serve the local temple, do our sadhna bhakti and we will surely make progress in our spiritual life.
I offer my respectful obeisances unto Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He is an ocean of transcendental mercy, and although the subject matter of bhakti-yoga is very confidential, He has nonetheless manifested it so nicely, even in this Age of Kali, the age of quarrel.
I got up early today but felt too cold and lazy to get up from the bed, freshen up and start Chanting. I picked up my phone and looked for something to read for a while. Fortunately, I found a very sweet seminar given by HH Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaj on the demons in Krishna’s pastimes and various anarthas' they represent. I had onlypart II’ of the seminar hence please pardon me if I miss out some details.
Maharaj explained that all these demons and the anarthas they represent are described in `Krishna Samhita’, a very interesting book by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.
I am now briefly mentioning all the demons and what they represent in a concise way below. I have taken some information from a VIHE book called `demons in Vrindavana Lila’ and some pastimes I am writing in a little more detailed manner as maharaj described them.
BCS: The word Nanda is coming from ananda. What is ananda? Joy. So Nanda Mahārāja is joy personified. Joy personified tends Krishna.
Yaśodā. Yaś means? Fame, And dā means? Giver. Yaśodā, mother Yaśodā is the giver of fame.
So different personalities have been identified in this way.
What is Kaṁsa’s business? His whole purpose is to kill Kṛṣṇa. Now who wants to kill God? Atheism. Atheism wants to kill God. Kaṁsa is actually atheism personified.
1. Putana (the witch) – the pseudo guru.
We all know how Putana came into the village where the baby Lord Krishna lived and assumed a beautiful form and then tried to kill Him by offering her breast milk to Him after she had put poison on her breast. But Krishna sucked the life air out of her and killed her. Nonetheless, Krishna had accepted her like a mother and she attained liberation.
Putana represents the pseudo-guru. The pseudo-guru may appear in one or both of two forms:
A. A deceitful, so-called guru who preaches sense gratification or liberation or both.
B. The inwardly manifest “spiritual” guide, in the form of the mundane empiric reasoning faculty (the material mind).
2. Sakatasura (the cart demon) – carrying the burden of a cart-load of old and new bad habits, Not understanding the purpose of religious principles. He also represents lethargy, dullness and false pride. Krishna removes this contamination by kicking it aside.
BCS: Śakata means a cart, a bullock cart. Those days they used to carry things not in tractors or trucks and such vehicles. The mode of transportation was carts drawn by bullocks. So there was a śakaṭā and they used to keep all things on that cart and then they used to harness it with a bull or bulls. So it was an occasion when Krishna was just turning to His side, which means about three months. At three months or so the baby learns to turn to his side. So that is the occasion to celebrate. They were celebrating this occasion and when Mother Yaśodā was making all the arrangements. She thought that she would keep Krishna under this cart. This kind of protected somehow. But a demon actually came and wanted to kill Krishna. The idea actually was that Pūtanā assumed a form and therefore Krishna could kill her. So this one decided not to take any form. But just go there and make the cart to collapse. And then he would put his pressure and strength on Krishna to kill Him. Krishna knew what was going on. So Krishna was lying there and what He did, He just touched the cart with His baby foot, maybe just with the toe. And the cart immediately collapsed. And all these heavy articles were there and they just got scattered. An anxious mother Yashoda rushed out and found that although the cart collapsed, all the articles were scattered and fell but the baby Krishna was not harmed.
3. Trinavarta (the whirlwind demon) – false pride which coming from dry or material logic, which leads to bogus philosophies.
Trnavarta represents the false pride produced by useless scholarship, which gives rise to wrangling debates and arguments, dry reasoning and dry logical indulgences in the association of people who are attached to such things. It produces controversy which is disloyal to the path of pure bhakti, such as Mayavada and Buddhism. It is the breeding place of demoniac, sinful philosophies.
Lord Krsna becomes moved by the humility of His devotees, who carefully avoid this fault, and He strangles the demon and removes the thorn from His devotees’ endeavours in devotional service.
This demon took the shape of a vast whirlwind and lifted Lord Krishna way up into the sky in order to try to kill Him. But Lord Krishna became so heavy that He brought down the demon so hard that Trinavarta was killed.
4. Deliverance of Nalakuvara and Manigriva (breaking the twin arjuna trees) – Arrogant pride which comes from puffed-up prestige, which is rooted in a madness for wealth.
It gives rise to cruelty to animals, lust for women, and indulgence in alcohol. These further give rise to debauchery of the tongue — uncontrolled eating habits and loose talking. Then come general hard-heartedness, shamelessness and all sorts of disgraceful activities.
Krishna very mercifully breaks down the twin Arjuna trees while tied to the grinding mortar in order to destroy all these faults.
This pastime of Krishna very directly illustrates the predicament of people who are wealthy and aristocratic, but who become involved in licentiousness. It is interesting to note the remedy applied by Narada Muni — poverty, or in terms which are particularly relevant to ourselves as aspiring devotees, simple living and high thinking.
5. Vatsasura (the calf demon) – a childish type of mentality which gives rise to a type of greediness which results in a wicked type of mischievousness.
It gives rise to a type of greediness for sense gratification through which one becomes absorbed in materialism.
BCS: So Krishna is just about six years old, five, going on six. And at that time the children in the cowherd community were given the charge of the calves. Like apprentice, they were apprentices. They have to go out to take care of the cows, but as children they can take care of the children of the cows. So Krishna was given charge with Balarāma to take care of the calves and with the friends they used to go to the forest. So once they went to the forest and here came this demon, Vatsāsura, disguised as a calf. In the middle of so many calves, this calf was there, which was actually a demon and his intention was to kill Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma. So Krishna identified that demon. And He told Balarāma: “Balarāma, this character looks strange, you can’t trust him, he is not our regular calves. … So who is this character? Balarāma asked: “Will You take care of him? Or should I take care of him?” Krishna said: “Let Me take care of Him.” And then at one point this calf just came and charged towards Krishna, it tried to kill Him. And Krishna just grabbed the calf with his legs and started to swing him, swing him, swing him… This is Krishna’s favorite way of killing the demons, especially when they come in the form of some animal. And then He threw the calf onto the space, it was already dead and it fell in the forest of kapittha trees.
6. Bakasura (stork demon) – False religiosity. He represents cunning duplicity, deceptive behaviour and hypocrisy, the outward manifestations of a false lifestyle of cheating activities.
BCS: Bakāsura came in the form of a crane. The crane is a bird that looks like a swan. A crane looks somewhat like a swan but the characteristics are completely different. The swan lives in a very quiet, serene atmosphere. This bird also lives in a watery atmosphere. And what does it do? It stands at one place as if it is meditating. And that also with one leg drawn up. How many of you have seen a crane? So you have seen how this crane stands in the water on one leg. Like sometimes the yogīs stand on one leg meditating. But what does the crane meditate on? It meditates on fish. It is just watching, meditating on the fish. And the moment it sees a fish it just catches it. This demon came assuming a form of a crane, a huge crane. So they all were playing and they saw this beautiful, huge bird. They all out of curiosity came there. Bakāsura was just waiting, while they were all marveling at the sight of this huge bird, this bird just swallowed up Krishna. And the bird what did it do? It just expanded himself but Krishna expanded Himself the bird could not swallow Him. And Krishna became so hot that it could not keep Krishna in his mouth, it threw out Krishna from his mouth. And then Krishna just stood there but this bird again came to swallow Krishna. But this time what did Krishna do? Krishna with his foot pressed his lower jaw and with His hand Krishna pressed his upper jaw. And then Krishna just pulled and its body tore into two pieces. The demon was dead.
7. Aghasura (the snake demon) – Aghāsura is cruelty personified. Aghasura represents the mentality of cruelty to others, and violence and causing trouble to others out of envy. This attitude is an offense against the chanting of the holy names. It may also manifest in the form of an unwillingness to help other living beings by giving them Krishna consciousness.
The demon Aghasura was the younger brother of Putana and Bakasura. He assumed the form of a great python, expanded to the length of eight miles and grew as high as a mountain. He lay on the road with his mouth wide open, and Krishna’s friends playfully entered into the demon, being curious about the giant form and feeling confident in Krishna’s protection. Finally, Krishna also entered into the mouth of the demon in order to protect His friends, and then expanded His own body to such an extent that the demon suffocated and died, and then brought all of His friends back to life and out of the demon.
8. Brahma-vimohana Pastime (Lord Brahma steals the cowherd boys and calves) – mundane activities and speculative scholasticism.
The pastime of the bewilderment of Lord Brahma and his subsequent purification frees us from the cultivation of fruitive activities (karma) and speculative knowledge (jnana). It also rectifies the offense of disrespecting the Lord’s madhurya feature in favour of His aisvarya feature.
9. Dhenukasura (the ass demon) – Ignorance of knowledge of the soul through gross materialistic intelligence, or jackass-like foolishness.
BCS: This Dhenukāsura is a very beautiful pastime which happened after Krishna saved the cowherd boys from the devastating forest fire. Later, all the cowherd boys were feeling very, very hungry. They said: “Krishna we are feeling very, very hungry.” Then somebody says: “I am smelling some beautiful fragrance of ripe tāla fruit. How many of you have seen tāla fruits? Tāla fruits have a very sweet flavor. It’s a big purple fruit like this, it grows about this big and it has a very sweet flavor. But somebody said: “No,no don’t go there, that tāla forest is guarded by a demon called Dhenukāsura. And because of fear of him, nobody goes near. Because if you go there, then he will eat you up, Dhenukāsura. Balarāma said: “What? Who cares about this Dhenuka, the demon? Come let’s go. We are hungry!” Balarāma grabbed that tāla tree and started to shake it. And all the tāla fruits started to fall with a thud, big fruits falling with a sound. And Dhenukāsura woke up: “Who dares to come to my forest?” Who dares to enter into my territory? I will take care of them. And unconcerned about Dhenukāsura or whatever, Balarāma kept on shaking and the tāla fruits kept on falling one after another. And the boys, exited, started to pick them up and eat them. In the mean time Dhenukāsura came and he attacked Balarāma. How do the donkeys attack? Yes, their strength is in the hind legs. Do you know what the donkeys are famous for? First of all the donkeys are famous for their stupidity. Because the donkey needs just some grass and there is plenty of grass everywhere. But because he is a donkey he thinks that he has to work for his master and he carries this big burden everywhere, food to eat. And the donkeys are famous for carrying huge loads; they can carry huge loads, five, six times the weight of their body, the donkeys can carry. But in return … what does the donkey get? A little grass. But the donkey thinks that unless he carries this big load he won’t get any grass to eat.
Another thing, the donkey carries a big burden. And what is that burden? This burden is unnecessary materialistic karma, materialistic activities. We can so easily get rid of our karmic reactions, just by surrendering to Kṛṣṇa. When you surrender to Kṛṣṇa, will you have any karma left? Ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ… Krishna is giving us our assurance but our donkey propensity does not allow us to do that.
Another thing about this donkey demon. What is he doing? He is protecting this tāla fruit, the fruits of his activities, which are actually meant to be offered to Kṛṣṇa. But instead we are saying nobody should come and take it. All our possessions, we are guarding, saying: “Don’t come, don’t try to take my propenstity.” Are these the propensities of a donkey demon, Dhenukāsura? And this demon is killed by Balarāma. Who is Balarāma? Balarāma is the original spiritual master. This demon is killed by the spiritual master. Our donkey propensities are destroyed by the bonafide spiritual master. He teaches us about the importance of surrendering to Kṛṣṇa and becoming free from the unnecessary burden of our karmic reactions. Balarāma, the original spiritual master teaches us that there is no need to unnecessary carry the big burden of our materialistic responsibilities. And there is no need to carry the fruits of our activities, our possessions for our own enjoyment, offer it to Kṛṣṇa. This is how Dhenukāsura or the donkey demon is killed by Balarāma.
10. Kaliya (chastising the Kaliya serpent) – brutal cruelty, maliciousness, pride, envy and a snake-like crookedness.
He particularly tries to pour his poison into the hearts of innocent Vaisnavas, which Krsna cannot tolerate, so then the Lord kills him.
11. Extinguishing the Forest Fire – The first forest fire represents hatred and arguments between Vaisnavas or different religions, and disrespecting each other’s Deities. It can also represent any type of clash or conflict.
12. Pralambasura (killing the Pralamba demon) – lust for the opposite sex, and the desire for profit, adoration and distinction. BCS: This Pralambāsura came in the disguise of a cowherd boy. And they were playing that one set of boys will carry in the game, they will carry the other set of boys. So Pralambāsura chose to take Balarāma. He disguised himself as a cowherd boy and he sided with Krishna’s team. There were two teams, Krishna’s team and Balarāma’s team. And he decided to carry Balarāma and he thought that he will kidnap Balarāma and if Balarāma can be killed then Krishna will die due to His intense separation from Balarāma. So He decided to kill Balarāma. Because all the demons are being killed one after another by Krishna. So they thought: “Okay, let’s not try to deal with Krishna but indirectly we will get rid of Krishna by stealing Balarāma. So Pralambāsura carried Balarāma and as he got Balarāma on his back he just ran and then while he was running, he assumed his demoniac form. From a little cowherd boy he became a huge demon. At first Balarāma got a little worried: ” Hey, what’s happening?” So Krishna reminded him :”Hey, You are Balarāma, don’t forget Who You are!” So then Balarāma got back to His senses and Balarāma hit him on the head and Pralambāsura was dead.
This Pralambāsura is impersonalism. This is impersonalism also is killed by Balarāma, the original spiritual master.
13. Second Forest Fire – The second forest fire represents the attack of atheism and other antagonistic philosophies on Krishna consciousness.
Srila Sanatana Goswami says that some people say that the forest fire was a friend of Pralambasura’s.
14. Brahmanas Performing Sacrifice -This pastime illustrates the fault of indifference towards Krishna arising out of pride due to high birth in the varnasrama system.
15. Overcoming the Pride of Indra – demigod worship, and the tendency to think “I am Supreme.” This pastime illustrates the mistake of thinking that it is good to perform demigod worship.
16. Nanda Maharaja Captured by Varuna – thinking that spiritual life can be enhanced by intoxication.
17. Nanda Maharaja Swallowed by Vidyadhara (the snake) – how Krishna saves the truth of devotional service from being swallowed by the Mayavadis and other atheists. It illustrates how devotees must avoid the company of such snake-like people.
18. Sankhacuda (killing the conch-shell demon and getting the jewel that was stolen by him) – proneness toward acquiring name and fame, and desire for sensuous enjoyment, under the plea of devotion.
19. Aristasura (the bull demon) – pride arising from indulging in false religions invented by cheaters which causes neglect of devotional service (bhakti). Due to their contaminated condition they show disrespect to the process of pure devotional service to Krishna.
This demon assumed the form of a huge bull with sharp horns in its attempt to kill Krishna and Balarama. When the bull approached the village, everyone was afraid. When the bull charged toward Lord Krishna, He grabbed him by the horns and threw him away. But the bull still wanted to attack. So Krishna threw him to the ground and thrashed him like a pile of wet clothing, which forced the demon to give up his life.
20. Kesi (the horse demon) – I am a great devotee and spiritual master, Kesi is pride personified.” Also the false ego arising from attachment from wealth and material accomplishments.
BCS : Then Kesi, as you know, went in the form of a huge horse, a gigantic horse. He was blowing out a fire from his mouth. From his mouth, from his nostrils the fire was coming out, such a terrible demon. And the cowherd boys were so much in anxiety, so upset.. But Krishna said:”Don’t worry, I will deal with him.” So Krishna just stood there, tying up his utariya, tying up his waist. When Kesi came. Kesi came to swallow Krishna up. This huge demon just wanted to swallow Krishna up. But what did Krishna do? Krishna stretched His left hand. And that hand went into Kesi’s mouth. But Krishna’s hand expanded to such a degree that Kesi’s throat got choked. And then this hand started to emanate fire, it became so hot. Kesi was dying. Kesi wanted to get the hand out of his mouth but he could not. Then Krishna grabbed him by his hind legs and started to swing him overhead. And as a result of that Kesi left his body.
21. Vyomasura (the demon in the sky) – associating with thieves and other rascals, and with people who put themselves forward as avataras, as well as cheating impostors who disguise themselves as devotees
Maharaj said we also have to deal with all these demons that are within our hearts and if we take shelter of Krishna then Krishna Himself will take of care of these anarthas within us !!
Bhaktivinoda Thakura says: “The devotee who worships the holy name should first petition the Lord for the strength to cast out all these unfavourable tendencies — and should pray thus before Lord Hari on a daily basis. By doing this regularly, the devotee’s heart will eventually become purified. Sri Krishna has killed a number of demons which may arise in the kingdom of the heart — so in order to destroy these problems, a devotee must cry very humbly before the Lord and admit defeat — then the Lord will nullify all contaminations.”
May we all take shelter of Lord Hari, daily cry for His help and tide over these obstacles in our bhakti soon.
All glories to the wonderful pastimes of Lord Krishna.
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
If your car is moving, don’t forget whose push started it to get it going. Similarly, always remember the different gurus that got you moving on the path of devotion. HH Mahanidhi Maharaj
As the year 2014 comes to I feel inspired to share and thank the devotees who helped me and inspired to take baby steps in Krishna consciousness. I, then, remembered how I had written a blog in Jan 2013 ( click here to read the same) and I thought let me take the same format and list down my own 24 gurus.
Let me recount that Shri Dattatreya had twenty-four teachers from nature as he told King Yadu…. The earth, air/breeze, sky, fire, the sun, pigeon, python, sea, moth, elephant, ant, fish, Pingala the courtesan, arrow-maker, infant/playful boy, the moon, honeybee, deer, bird of prey, maiden, serpent, spider, caterpillar and water are my twenty four preceptors.
Here is my list for 2014, this is not in any particular order, I am writing as I remember them.
HG Rukmini Krishna Prabhuji, Delhi : He is and would always remain my shiksha guru and guide, whatever little I am today in my spiritual life is all thanks to him. Every time I listen to Prabhuji’s class I can see the quality of preparation behind it. I learn from prabhuji how one must always prepare well for his class, picking a topic and expanding on it and ensuring that devotees take home some learning from each class.
ShyamSundar Krishna Prabhuji , Gurgaon : Prabhuji remains a very dear friend cum guide. I feel so inspired by his level of service. Prabhuji serves the local ISKCON centre very well. The amount of effort he pitches in, with the right attitude, and how he helps devotees in time of their need is very inspiring for me. On top of that prabhuji has a unique knack to ask open ended questions to make any class or discussion interactive.
ShyamVihari Prabhuji & Shyamangi Radhika Mataji, Surangi Mataji, Parmeshwari Mataji and so many other devotees : What a feeling they have to serve their Guru, small things like who is going with Maharaj, lack of a back pillow in a class, a foot mat, they all have very good bhava to serve guru. I can only pray to them that by their association I too get same bhava to serve senior Vaishanavas.
Mukundapriya Prabhuji, Surat : I personally experience how Prabhuji served Guru Maharaj in Gurgaon. Prabhuji will just sit outside Maharaj’s room like a servant, no questions, no comments, just there as a dedicated servant. I felt very inspired and try to copy the same feeling while serving Guru Maharaj.
5. Mukunda Prabhji., Ujjain : Prabhuji is a senior and very humble devotee. He visited us this year and bowled us over with his humility and honesty by sharing his challenges in spiritual life and asking advice from devotees half his age. Prabhuji acted as if to teach us this attitude. He showed me that I should never feel shy about asking help about any challenge I may face. I acted on it and got benefited.
HG Vidurpriya Prabhuji, Delhi : Prabhuji is a senior preacher and has such an affable personality and everyone loves him. The quality I learn from him is `no envy’. He is always pleased to hear glorification of everyone and there is never a tinge on envy in him.
HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj : I respect him so much. There was a recent incident where I personally realised how merciful and compassionate Maharaj is towards all. My day is simply made when Maharaj’s merciful eyes fall on my fallen body and soul.
Tulasi Maharani : She is my guru in many ways, for the time being I can just say that the reciprocation and the mercy I received from her taught me to inculcate similar feelings for others, which I have yet to even start. I became aware of so many offenses I did while serving her initially, and I am sure I still don’t serve her properly, but she reciprocated just on some tinge of right feeling in my heart.
Rasikakeshava Prabhuji, Gurgaon : Prabhuji is one of the more sincere devotees in our small town. Prabhuji came to our home on way to his office, he works in a MNC co., I was surprised to see him wearing tilak to office. It was light and not as thick and bright we usually wear to temple but it was there and Prabhuji inspired me to follow the same. Now, most of the days I wear a very light tilak to office, no longer water, all thanks to him.
Dhama : I wrote about my experience few weeks back on how dhama reciprocates when we try to serve than trying to enjoy its potency for our ownself. Its a big learning for me and I pray that always remember it. I learnt that I can serve dhama by serving devotees in the Dhama and visit as a guide for new people rather than just about me and Dhama.
HH Bhakti Vijnana Mahaaraj : I love Maharaj and his style of explaining complex topics. It was only after hearing Maharaj’s lecture on how chanting purifies scientifically that I looked inside my own heart and pushed myself to improve my chanting. It was his seminar where I realised the potency of chanting. My chanting will never be the same, even on the worst of the days. I have written two unfinished blogs sharing what I learned in two seminars but they are turning out to be too long and
Kirtana : I am not a very Kirtan person, I sure like them but lecture is always my first love. This year, after a gap of two years, I again attended the Barsana retreat by HH Sacinanadan Maharaj, for two days only. When I reached I found that it was the day of the 12 hour kirtan. At first I felt sad as I thought O! I missed all the lectures/katha and now one day will only be kirtan. Maharaj immediately put everyone in to the right mood to be absorbed in the kirtan and then it was one superlative performance after another. Later, how the kirtan ended for me is a topic for another blog in future. Let me share my chanting improved 200%, atleast for the time being. And what a feeling, it was if my anarthas were falling like huge sheets of glass, I could literally hear them breaking. I will never forget that experience my whole life. I will never undermine the potency of Kirtan, ever. Kirtan is my new guru.
Asit Prabhuji, Gurgaon : Prabhuji is one of the most senior and respected devotee in Gurgaon and teaches Vaishnava etiquette by his own example. So many incidents in the past one year which were eye openers for me. I feel so fortunate that we have a devotee with such high standard of manners which we can copy wholeheartedly.
HG Damodar Prabhuji, Vrindavan : Prabhuji is very sweet and does very nice katha and more sweeter Vaishanava bhajans. Prabhuji gave me the taste to hear and learn Vaishanava bhajans, I always look forward to his class and it is because of him only that I fell in love with `Hari haraye namah krishna Yadvaye namah’ and other Vaishnava bhajans.
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta : I had so much hankering for knowing more and more and would collect all sort of books. I would read them for few days then jump to a new one. This continued till I read Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta . It was as if this is what my soul was searching from eternity. If I ever learn Bangla language, it will be only to taste its verses.
Guru’s words : What a guru. I learnt the hard way what is the consequence when I ignore instructions of my guru and also learnt in a very pleasant manner what are benefits when I cling to every single word of my guru, the results are many times disproportionate to my service. I have taken the words from a guru or instructions from a senior devotee as a separate personality whom I must server if I want to progress more than what I deserve.
Servant of the servant: I went to serve guru maharaj during the recent Kanpur temple opening. After reaching the temple I found that two senior god brothers have already arrived with the same intent. Instead of being happier I at first felt a tinge of sadness in my heart as I thought that I will not get the opportunity to serve Guru Maharaj but then I let it go as I thought that these devotees are more qualified to serve guru maharaj than me and it is better only that they serve Guru Maharaj well rather than my service, which is basic at best. Then it dawned upon me that I can learn from them by serving them instead. I tried my best to serve them and I came back even happier than serving guru maharaj directly. I realised that this is my right position, servant of servant and I also realised that it is more pleasing to my soul. So now whenever I have the opportunity I try to serve those devotees who are serving Guru Maharaj, I feel happy to be a small inconsequential devotee who is assisting the direct servants in their service to guru. I never knew that being servant of the servant could be more satisfying than serving directly.
Kartika month : This was the first year where we sang Damodarashtakam almost every evening at home. Result… very nice reciprocation, I got so many realisations and for the first time I learnt to meditate on the form of Lord while singing. I have realised that kartika month too is my guru and when I serve him, the reciprocation and learning are huge.
19. HH Tamal Krishna Goswami Maharaj : I hear maharaj’s seminar on Damodarashtakam since last 2 years and it has left a lasting impression on my heart. It was only after hearing his prodding questions that inspired me to go a bit internal and improve my Sadhna Bhakti.
Time : I learned how flexible time is actually. I did hear in a lecture that time can contract and expand but realised it only this year. I found so many times that while chanting, in the kirtan, the time stops, literally. I realised that as we go from gross to subtle and further subtle levels we can easily experience it. Time teaches me to put my heart into everything I do and then time takes a back seat.
Association of Guru Maharaj :I love to relish just being near him. I feel that I am already participating in Lords pastimes. Days seem longer, just guru’s association in itself seems to be perfection for me.
Srila Prabhupada : I got the service to send one Prabhupada quote to our local temple devotees, Initially I would cut and paste from ISKCONdesiretree and later I pushed myself to pick one from whatever I read that day. This habit continues since many months. It gave me unshakable faith in the writing of Srila Prabhupada as I realised how easily I am able to get quotes from almost every second verse and how they are absolute in themselves and need no explanation nor depends on some time, place or circumstances, unbelievable. I learn from Srila Prabhupada everyday. He is my eternal shiksha guru.
Association of devotees : Another guru. I have started considering `association of devotees’ as a personality who cools my soul. Innumerable times I have benefited spiritually by just being in the association of devotees. So many devotees showered their mercy on me this year, HG Madhavananda Prabhuji, Amitab Krishna Prabhu. I had to open my introvert and dry heart and they poured their mercy in it and making it more malleable.
Hearing Krishna Katha : Today I consider Krishna Katha as independent person and non different from Krishna Himself in many ways. This guru gives something rare…. greed for Krishna.
sādhu-saṅge kṛṣṇa-nāma-ei-mātra cāi
saṁsāra jinite āra kona vastu nāi
Other than sadhu sanga and the name of Krishna, nothing else is needed to cross over the ocean of birth and death.
As I wrote in my last year blog that apart from these 24 gurus, I have a special half moon in my life, my spiritual master. He is my lord and my master, there is nothing that I have learnt from my own capability or ability, everything has happened due to the sheer causeless mercy of my spiritual master. I have understood that my eternal svarupa is to be his servant’s servant. Goal of my life ? What can I do to please him.
According to the deliberate opinion of all revealed scriptures, the spiritual master is non different from Kṛṣṇa. Lord Kṛṣṇa in the form of the spiritual master delivers His devotees. (CC Ādi 1.45 )
Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is identical with the Vedic hymn known as the Kāma-gāyatrī, which is composed of twenty-four and a half syllables. Those syllables are compared to moons that arise in Kṛṣṇa. Thus all three worlds are filled with desire. (CC Madhya 21.125)
It was our good fortune that HH Bhakti Chraru Swami visited Gurgaon yesterday for a day.
We received Maharaj at the airport, he was accompanied by HG GangaNarayan Prabhuji and HG Vimal Krishna Prabhuji from Ujjain. After a brief exchange Maharaj went for some meetings in Gurgaon with Atma Prabhu and some other devotees.
Maharaj had promised to give darshan to everyone in the evening. Around 50-60 devotees gathered at the home of HG Radheshyam Prabhu to welcome Maharaj. Everyone was waiting anxiously while listening to wonderful kirtan led by HG Brajamohan prabhu from U.K. HG Vidurpriya prabhuji came all the way from Sri Radhaparthasathi temple, Delhi, to officially welcome Maharaj on behalf of Gurgaon devotees.
Maharaj arrived around 8 pm. He apologised is his ever sweet voice for being half an hour late. Maharaj then introduced two devotees who accompanied him and taught us so many things in the short lecture.
Maharaj first glorified Subodh Prabhu and then Paramjit Prabhu, a sikh gentleman whom he met in Dubai, he then glorified their family, their business and then further glorified Sikshism itself. Maharaj shared with us the root and purpose of sikhism in such detail that, leave aside us, I am sure even many sikhs themselves would not know today.
Like a true teacher, Maharaj showed with his own behaviour, how we should interact with non devotees, innocents and other religions and win them over with love and humbleness. Like some expert craftsman he then connected Sikhism to drive home the point what is religion, defining it as
dharmam tu sakshad bhagavat-pranitam
He then spoke about love, what is actual love, what do we get from love – reciprocation and finally Joy. And then he spoke about what is the purpose of all religions- to love God, and finally dovetailed everyone’s minds at the lotus feet of Krishna. The fluency, conviction and ease with which Maharaj spoke extempore can not be matched by any corporate professional speaker. It shows us how Krishna’s and Srila Prabhupada’s kripa shakti is flowing via Maharaj. It is a pity that I do not even have enough sukriti to forever absorb such golden words coming out from senior sanyasis and devotees.
After the lecture Maharaj led a short but a very melodious kirtan. Again like magic everything fell perfectly into place, the mridang, the kartal, the harmonium, the acoustics of the hall, to accompany his golden voice, they all strained to ensure they do justice to the honour of serving his melodious voice. It was as if a grandmaster is playing a great symphony in a concert hall for the the pleasure of the Lord.
Within minutes it became difficult for me to chose between closing my eyes and experience Krishna or to keep the eyes open and drink the nector of Maharaj’s presence.
CC Madhya 21.114: “O My dear friend, what severe austerities have the gopīs performed to drink His transcendental beauty and sweetness through their eyes in complete fulfillment? Thus they glorify their births, bodies and minds.
First time in my life I felt that Brahmaji has actually not designed this body very well. And for the first time I understood, though only a litlte bit, what gopis felt when they complained about the imperfect design of their body.
CC Madhya 21.133: “When the onlooker of Kṛṣṇa’s face becomes dissatisfied in this way, he thinks, ‘Why didn’t the creator give me thousands and millions of eyes? Why has he given me only two? Even these two eyes are disturbed by blinking, which keeps me from continuously seeing Kṛṣṇa’s face.’ Thus one accuses the creator of being dry and tasteless due to engaging in severe austerities. ‘The creator is only a dry manufacturer. He does not know how to create and set things in their proper places.
CC Madhya 21.134: “‘The creator says, “Let those who will see Kṛṣṇa’s beautiful face have two eyes.” Just see the lack of consideration exhibited by this person posing as a creator. If the creator took my advice, he would give millions of eyes to the person who intends to see Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s face. If the creator will accept this advice, then I would say that he is competent in his work.’
I felt so constrained- why I can not I experience both – Seeing Maharaj as well as experiencing Krishna. I actually felt pained with this unique experience of feeling separation from Maharaj and Krishna while being right there experiencing both with my senses ! It was inconceivable what I was experience last evening. For the lack of a good vocabulary let me say it was an incredible experience which will stay forever in my heart.
Later, Maharaj met almost all the local devotees and distributed his love and affection to everyone.
Whenever I meet or even see senior sanyasis like HH Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj, HH Giriraj swami Maharaj and so many others sanyasis and senior devotees in ISKCON I can’t help but pray and beg to six Goswamis and our Guru Paramapara to please give me an opportunity to serve such dedicated soldiers of Srila Prabhupada in some way.
A trip to Ujjain is always very special. This time the trip had multiple causes. Firstly I had got initiated on Nityananda Trayodasi last year and I wanted to be with Guru Maharaj on this day. The second, far more joyous, reason was that my very dear friend, mentor and elder brother Sumeet Prabhu was going to get initiated along with two other senior devotees from Gurgaon, Pawan Prabhu and Pooja Mataji, on the same day. Thirdly there was a Kirtan mela at Ujjain temple and we would be able to attend atleast the 3rd day.
We reached Ujjain on 11th morning. I was fortunate to get a chance to travel with Sumeet Prabhu and his family and during the trip, as always, he subtly taught me many things. As a bonus HG Radhe Shyam Prabuji too travelled with us and in the morning I did chanted sitting with him for 3 hours. I was very inspired by his calm face and how he did his chanting with eyes closed and chanting softly. I tried to copy him by trying to close my eyes and chant but could not hold my eyes close for a more than few minutes before something or other will break my concentration. But I am going to try practicing it once I am back home.
Whenever I come to any ISKCON temple I feel like a girl who has come back to her parent’s home, her `mayakaa’. As soon we reached Pooja mataji called us to hurry up as HH BB Govinda Maharaj was playing for the last time before leaving Ujjain. I hurried and reached in time to hear maharaj live for the first time, HG Madhava Prabhu and his team were playing the musical instruments. The temple hall was almost full.
What a performance, it usually takes me some time to get `tuned’ into a Kirtan, especially if it is a large performance. It was within seconds that I was totally immersed in the kirtan. Maharaj has such a deep and powerful voice, after a few minutes I felt purified as if I have taken a bath in the Ganges river. The whole experience was awesome ! I sang so loudly that many a times my lungs and throat protested at such sudden enthusiasm ! It was food for my soul. After a while HH Chandramauli Swami Maharaja started dancing, he danced like a well trained dancer, dancing for the pleasure of Sri Radha Madanmohan. I felt the devdasi would similarly dance in front of Lord Jagannath. Then few more devotees followed Maharaj and then few more and in a short span the whole temple was dancing in sheer ecstasy of the Hole Name.
All glories to HH Bhakti Bhringa Govinda Swami Maharaja !
Guru Maharaj came towards the end of maharaj’s kirtan, and once the kirtan was over, Guru Maharaj glorified HH BB Govinda Maharaj profusely and praised his preaching and kirtan programs all over the world. HH BB Govinda Maharaj, who was leaving for Bangladesh, too glorified Guru Maharaj. He complimented Guru Maharaj . He complimented Guru Maharaj on the magnificent temple, beautiful Deities, top class service for the Deities and then added that he has never tasted a more delicious prasadam, as he had in last 3 days, in any temple all over the ISKCON world ! He also agreed to Guru Maharaj’s request to visit Ujjain again. They both hugged each other with such affection that it brought spontaneous clapping and Hari Bol from all devotees.
It was prasdam time and I was quite hungry. We had a sumptuous prasadam at the temple food hall with first class food and wonderful hospitality by local devotees. I also caught up with senior devotees from Jaipur Murari Prabhu and Vineet Prabhu, Mukunda Prabhu, so many Brahmachari’s from the temple and yet some more familiar devotees from all across the world. In just few hours I had completely forgotten that I even have a material life!
The next session started at 4pm. By the time I entered the temple hall it was already 5pm and HH Chandramauli Swami Maharaja was doing the Kirtan. After his excellent Kirtan for an hour it was the turn of HG Madhav Prabhu to perform.
If HH BB Govinda Maharaj’s kirtan was like taking a dip in Ganges than Prabhuji’s kirtan was like being transported straight to Vrindavan. He sang slow, deep and with so much heart into it that I almost cried while singing in the Kirtan. Prabhuji has a special mercy of Aindra Prabhu on him.
All glories to HG Madhav Prabhu and his team members.
I was trying to click the above picture of a devotee deep in the trance of Holy name when I heard a flurry of activity on my right side. I could see in the camera frame itself that devotees were turning to greet someone. As I hastily turned, and my phone shook to get the above hazy picture, I saw Guru Maharaj walking in with his ever enchanting smile.
Guru Maharaj was back in the temple ! After HG Madhav Prabhuji’s kirtan was over Guru Maharaj glorified and thanked him for such wonderful kirtan and how they are so popular throughout the world. They too were all praise for Guru Maharaj and the temple.
The Last session of the Kirtan Mela was led by Guru Maharaj. What can one say now! Guru Maharaj started with a slow pace and then picked up the beats. For the fourth time in the day the whole temple was again dancing jubilantly. Devotees won’t let Guru Maharaj stop the Kirtan! Children, women, elders, everyone was dancing on the tune of Guru Maharaj.
After the ecstatic kirtan Guru Maharaj gave a brief but serious lecture on the importance of Hari Nama. He said that the whole purpose of organising the Kirtan mela was to attract people to chant of the Holy name of the Lord.
By hearing just one full day of kirtana I felt as if my soul is satiated till its very core.
It was already 9.15 pm and we all had another dose of sumptuous prasadam. After spending some time with Vineet Prabhu, I retired to my room around 11.45pm.
I was talking to a senior devotee friend over phone. Prabhuji is a very level-headed and learned devotee. The trigger of our discussion was an impromptu warm hug I received from Prabhuji during my last visit to his home. After I said good-bye to him and had moved out his house walking towards the elevator, he came out of the front door and asked `Prabhuji, at least give me a hug.’ I was taken aback. I am a bit of a dry and reserved person, so for the first few micro seconds I thought my ears have heard something wrong, may be Prabhuji wanted to say something else and uttered these words by mistake, or he is just pulling my leg. But I saw his face and outstretched arms and I knew he mean it. I walked back and hugged him and suddenly found myself enveloped with love and affection, I was overwhelmed. Later, that too over an SMS, I thanked Prabhuji for his gesture.
He, then, shared how he had learned this from HH Bhakti Charu Swami maharaj. Guru Maharaj instructed him that we must walk an extra mile for people whom we love, similar to how we do it in the material world, the only difference being that in the spiritual world we do not expect anything back and hence it is a pure feeling. The whole narration was very inspiring for me. I requested Prabhuji to please share his particular experience with Guru Maharaj on my blog. At first he declined politely saying that just because he shared something in private with me does not mean that he is ready to share it every one but two days later Prabhuji agreed but on the condition that I will not share his name. So here it goes, in Prabhuji’s own words:
Hare Krishna and Dandavat Pranam to everyone.
There are so many learnings when you speak and listen to MahaBhagvats. There is so much learning. I will try to capture the essence of my discussion with HH Bhakti Charu Maharaj few years (3-4 years ago).
Though usually I am quiet an extrovert and flamboyant person but somehow I am very introvert and shy person when it comes to spiritual life. The reason I feel is that it touches my heart and one can share heartful feelings only with very few selected ones. Usually when a sanniyasi comes, I am all busy preparing and doing rounds. On this particular day, everybody started goading me that I should start a kirtan and welcome Maharaj. It took some cajoling for me to finally agree and make my mind ready to do kirtan. Like my usual self, I closed my eyes and started kirtan with one of the tunes of Sri Prahalad Das. I lost the moment of time and was totally immersed into it….Didn’t realize when Guru Maharaj came and was just singing as if nobody exists. When after some time I felt nobody is singing after me, I realized something missing and I opened my eyes to see Maharaj’s beatific smiling face.
I immediately knelt down offering my dandavats. I felt stupid , a fool and absolutely downcast of not being even aware of Guru Maharaj coming. I asked for his forgiveness. He just took my hand and kind of dragged me (like father does lovingly to son) and then surprisingly hugged me. I was speechless. I felt absolutely serene as if I am in my father’s arms. When you are in father’s secured arms, you don’t want to leave him. I wanted this time to stop. I didn’t want other devotees prying eyes gawking at me, making me conscious. I just wanted to be with him. It was like “Jaadu ki jhappi” for me, making me feel elated and it was like I will do anything for Him if I get this hug again. Maharaj then just whispered “very nice” and I then disengaged and said “I just wanted to be there pointing at his heart”. He patted me and beckoned me in the room. He said, “Do any thing but with all your heart. If you feel genuinely for someone, do something that you would not do ordinarily for anyone else. Express this special feeling.” He then said, “I have nothing else to give but love and I express it by tight warm hug. ” And then he thought and said see how mothers give a tight hug to its child without hurting him. I suddenly realised he is teaching me something so profound: “How to express love. To those whom you genuinely love.” It breaks barriers, it makes you soft. Being a father myself, I could relate to what he was trying to say but still I was inhibited to express to anyone but my own kids as if Love was their right only.
I suddenly felt very comfortable and then he said, “I liked how you were singing but this is not kirtana; this is solo performance.” I was embarrassed and told him since I used to perform this is the only way I know. And he said, when leading kirtan, whilst I should be immersed in Lord’s name (as that inspire devotees) however at the same time I need to be alert whether followers are attentive or not and should change the music if devotes struggle as we are doing kirtan for them and not only for ourselves. I asked if he could clarify. He said, A mother may be cooking the prasadam but is aware all the time what her baby is doing; similarly whilst you should be immersed in holy name but aware of your surroundings so that you are not caught off-guard like this and everybody heartily laughed but it was a huge learning for me.
I then asked him, if I wanted to bhajans, can I do something different that allays feelings towards Lord. He then said in Kaliyuga Mother-child relationship is most pure so one should compare its purity with this relationship first. Mother is so selfless. Is your love so selfless. To understand Krishna Radha prema is very difficult. Why to get into something that we may not even understand. He said Bhajans should be soulful, crying to seek help like Sri Krishna Chaitanya daya karo more….begging lord / Guru for help…prayer in kirtan is very powerful….Or glorify the lord…Lord did so many things and just keep praising and u would start truly believing which may sound unbelievable initially. If u really want to do rasa then you could sing Yashoda and Kanha songs as Matajis would be able to relate a lot and help them. Then he said, You should sing with heart with Love – not sing but sing with love….I suddenly felt what powerful statements – warm hug to someone you love and sing with Love – This is what Krishna teaches – Love everyone and Love God..
I have been trying to follow these instructions diligently to the best of my understanding.
Many dandavats to Guru Maharaj….
HH Bhakti Charu Maharaj ki jai Srila Prabhupad ki Jai
I am very thankful to Prabhuji for sharing his inner feelings with us. It shows how our spiritual journey, though solo, could be filled with so much love, not only towards Krishna but also towards everyone around us. That this journey is not a dry journey, it is a journey filled with happiness and bliss. Krishna Consciousness is all about being happy and spreading that happiness around. I remember a famous quote by Guru Maharaj
Krishna Consciousness spreads wisdom and Knowledge. The main force because of which this movement is spreading is love.
I would like to request all the readers to kindly come forward and share your own experience/realisations of unexpected love received in our spiritual journey and help everyone by increasing their faith in the words of our Guru and previous Acharayas. Please mail your experiences to firstname.lastname@example.org, it can published under your name or as anonymous, whatever is convenient to you.
As I completed my morning japa rounds the story of Shri Dattatreya somehow came to my mind and I questioned myself what I have learned from devotees and surroundings near me.
During the recent Ujjain retreat with HH Bhakti Charu Swami maharaj at Ujjain, the topic was Uddhava Gita( SB 11th canto). Guru maharaj explained in one of the initial sessions about 24 gurus of Dattatreya and how the sage learnt from each of them and treated them as his Guru. I am summarising them below.
Shri Dattatreya had twenty-four teachers from nature as he told King Yadu…. The earth, air/breeze, sky, fire, the sun, pigeon, python, sea, moth, elephant, ant, fish, Pingala the courtesan, arrow-maker, infant/playful boy, the moon, honeybee, deer, bird of prey, maiden, serpent, spider, caterpillar and water are my twenty four preceptors.
I took out my pad and started writing on what all I have learned and from whom.
1. HG Rukmini Krishna prabhu ( temple president, Punjabi Bagh, New Delhi): From him I am learning to always be helpful towards others irrespective of where they come from and give them an honest and sincere advice by which they can develop their Krishna consciousness. He is always approachable, completely dedicated to serving all Vaishnavas and following his Guru Mahraj’s and Srila Prabhupada’s instructions.
2. Mukul Prabhu, Delhi : He brought me into Krishna Consciousness.He is an ex-financial whizkid and after leaving his job, he now consults to SMEs. He has turned each of his client into Krishna Consciousness, he is always calm whatever may be the circumstance. I am learning from him to always remain peaceful.
3. Sumeet Prabhu, Gurgaon: A very dear friend, like an elder brother. He is a very honest, practical and a sincere devotee. I am learning for him how to take my family along and that keeping them happy is very important for my own spiritual journey. He continues to give me practical advice which helps me tremendously. He comes from a vaishnava family and I can always follow his advice with my eyes closed.
4. Tree in front of my house : Till a few months back we used to live on the 4th floor an apartment building and whenever I would come to the `study’ to to do my yoga I could see the middle and top of this huge tree. Almost every single day as soon I would remove my glasses to start the yoga, I would see some form of Krishna in it and very clear. Sometime I would even call my wife and ask her can’t you see Radha and Krishna in the tree and I would try show her Their form, she would reply yes the shape is there but it is probably more in my own mind. But I would see Lord Jagannath or many other forms of the Lord almost every single time, complete with Their facial expressions and skin color ! The lesson for me was that Lord is there in every atom, whenever I have devotion and faith in my eyes He manifests.
P.s. : Now we have shifted to the second floor of the same building. The same tree is just right outside my balcony and much much closer. I worship him as a part of Govardhan! Why ? I have no idea, my heart said whenever you see him please pay obeisances as Govardhan and I do it every morning.
5. Atma and Anand Prabhuji, Gurgaon : They are very talented twin brothers and are blessed to get personal service of serving Guru Maharaj. Their dedication to Guru Maharaj is commendable by all standards and a benchmark for me. I am learning from them what is meant by serving our Guru.
6. HG Ganganarayan Prabhuji, co-president Ujjain temple : Such a humble devotee. I have yet to meet a more knowledgeable, dedicated and humble sanyasi-in-waiting, I am sure there would be others in ISKCON, but for me he is a benchmark of humility. I am learning from him how to be always humble from the core of my heart.
7. Deities: I learn building relationships from Them; starting from Vrindavan to Punjabi Bagh to my own home, they always respond to love and affection. You may call my crazy but my small Ladoo Gopal ji change expressions many a times. I have written in my earlier blogs about my past realisations in Punjabi Bagh and Vrindavan, simply divine, amazing and most merciful. I learn from Them with whom to develop my relationships with.
8. Electricity Pole : When I was in the 4th floor apartment another thing that I could out see out from my study window, besides the tree, was a giant Electricity pole. Somehow I always took it as one of the portion of Krishna’s foot, like a Virat purush form of Krishna. I learned from him that nothing, living or non living, is separate from Krishna.
9. Punjabi Bagh temple community: I learned from them how to serve all Vaishanava as equal. I always saw a festive atmosphere whenever a senior sanyasi would visit the temple. In fact it was after an year that I found the special position of HH Gopal Krishna Goswami as each senior Sanyasi was accorded the same love and welcome.
10. Jagannath puri Dhama : I learned how does one feel when one steps into the `darbar’ (court) of the Lord. My first experience, which I shared in detail in one of my previous blogs, was transcendental. I would never forget that feeling in my heart. I learned how small and puny I am in the overall scheme of things.
11. Vrindavan Dham : I learned from the Holy Dhama to be always merciful towards everyone. Irrespective of who comes to Vrindavan, with pure, polluted or zero consciousness, everyone gets the mercy.
12. Prabhuji, Punjabi Bagh : I do not even know the name of this devotee but I see him every time I am there, he would mop temple floor everyday before guru puja, he would never look around for a `help’. Summer or winter he is there, then very humbly he would stand in the last line and dance during the Guru Puja. I learned from him to always remain unseen in our service and never try to take any credit or aspire for glorification by others.
13. Buying a house, Gurgaon : I shared my experience while buying my new house in one of early blogs in detail, one person on whom I depended the most pulled the rug right under my feet and at the very last moment. I learned from that experience to never dislike anyone, that they are just messengers of what I did in my past and it is due to the mercy of Lord that i am getting its consequences in a far lesser dosage. And I must always remain under the shelter of the Lord, He knows what is best for me.
14. Yoga: I practiced yoga for 3 years or so and I learned how to sit at one place and meditate.
15. My Wife, Priti : I learned from her the boundless patience and love she had for the kids. I had to copy the same for Krishna and His devotees.
16. Subir Prabhu, Delhi : He is a very enthusiastic devotee and always full of energy for any thing connected with devotional service. I learned from him to be always enthusiastic in any service given to us.
17. Ujjain temple community: What a wonderful set of devotees and epitome of hospitality. I am trying to learn to think of myself as a servant of every vaishanava and treat each of them as my own master.
18. Amogh Lila Prabhu, Delhi : He has a gift for humour and is a wonderful preacher, now vice president for the Dwarka temple. I am learning how we can use humor as a strong tool in preaching and that I should not be serious all the time.
19. Radheshyam Prabhu, Gurgaon : Before he shifted to Vrindavan Dham, his service to devotees was unmatched in Gurgaon. He served and served, never in the limelight. I am learning from him to always try to serve the devotees with the best of my ability.
20. My Son, Samir: He is always carefree and gets back into cheerfulness within seconds of being scolded or upset about something. I am learning from him to never feel bad or sulk about any particular incident or behaoviour as that particular moment has already passed and I should look for what best I can do in this present moment.
21. Tulasi Maharani : She takes birth in so many homes, she does not desire anything for her own self other than helping devotees connect with Sri Krishna and she is happy being always under Lord’s lotus feet. I am learning from her to always remain in the shelter of my Guru and Krishna, that is my happiest position.
22. HG Mahadevi Mataji, Vrindavan : Mataji is a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, I wrote about her in one of my previous blog on how I met her during the procession of taking Srila Prabhupada’s Deity to all the Goswami temples in Vrindavan and how she reciprocate with Srila Prabhupada in that journey. I am learning from him how we can reciprocate with Srila Prabhupada and feel his divine presence around us at all times.
23. HH Gopal Krishna Goswami maharaj : I learned from him how the mere glance of a pure vaishanava can purify me and I must always hanker to get darshan of pure devotees of the Lord.
24. Neelu, Delhi : She is the HR manager in our small company. She is always respectful towards everyone. She would even address our office peons and drivers with such humility that initially I used to to get upset about it. I am learning from her to always give respect to others irrespective of what social order they belong to.
Last but not the least, I have realised is that in spite of having these 24 gurus, 24 moons, I can learn nothing till I do not have a special half moon in my life, my spiritual master. Without the mercy of my spiritual master all my learning enter from one ear and go out from other ear. It is only by the mercy of my spiritual master that each learning enters from one ear and then penetrate my hard heart rather going out from the other ear ! This helps get me realisations. Now the 24 and half moons are completed.