Let us try to get a glimpse into Krishna’s heart today. How lovingly He reciprocates with His devotees and what makes Him obliged to His devotees. There is an underlying sweet mellow in Krishna’s exchange with His devotees. These mellows in Krishna’s heart are revealed to us by the acharyas, they know Krishna’s heart.
Revealing Krishna’s heart
Now, the Lord comes to deliver the devotees (paritrāṇāya sādhūnām), but it is clearly stated in Bhagavad-gītā that a devotee transcends the material qualities (sa guṇān samatītyaitān). A devotee is in a transcendental position because he is no longer under the control of the three material modes of nature — goodness, passion, and ignorance. But if a sādhu is already delivered, being on the transcendental platform, then where is the necessity of delivering him? This question may arise. The Lord comes to deliver the devotee, but the devotee is already delivered. Therefore the word viḍambanam, meaning “bewildering,” is used in this verse because this appears contradictory.
The answer to this contradiction is that a sādhu, a devotee, does not require deliverance, but because he is very much anxious to see the Supreme Lord face to face, Krishna comes not to deliver him from the clutches of matter, from which he has already been delivered, but to satisfy his inner desire. Just as a devotee wants to satisfy the Lord in all respects, the Lord, even more, wants to satisfy the devotee. Such are the exchanges of loving affairs. Even in our ordinary dealings, if we love someone we want to satisfy him or her, and he or she also wants to reciprocate. So if the reciprocation of loving affairs exists in this material world, in what an elevated way must it exist in the spiritual world.
Krishna becomes obliged to the loving spirit of the devotee and not exactly to the service rendered. No one can serve Krishna completely. He is so complete and self-sufficient that He has no need of any service from the devotee. It is the devotee’s attitude of love and affection for Krishna that makes Him obliged.
In Vṛndāvana there is a place where there was no temple, but a devotee desired, “Let there be a temple and sevā, devotional service.” Therefore, what was once an empty corner has now become a place of pilgrimage. Such are the desires of a devotee.
In our daily dealings many times we face circumstances where we have to seek favour from others. Sometimes we get a positive response, sometimes it is negative. Srila Prabhupada shares an amazing insight on how should a devotee see the final result, whether favourable or unfavourable, in a manner that helps us to build our relationship with Krishna.
Srila Prabhupada– So we can ask favor from anyone, butwe must know that nobody can favour us unless it is sanctioned by the Supreme Person. We must always know. It is not that one in a superior position can favour me. No, he cannot show favor unless it is sanctioned by the Supreme.
Suppose we approach a rich man to favour us with some contribution or membership fees, but that rich man cannot favour us unless it is sanctioned by Krishna.Krishna is there within him and if he says “You give him this money,” the man will give us. Suppose we request somewhere and he does not favour us. We should not be sorry. We should know that Krishna did not dictate to him that he should donate. He is not so fortunate, therefore Krishna did not dictate as such to him.So there is nothing over which to be sorry. This should be our principle.
This is a master key that can help aspiring devotees unlock many closed doors-
Faithfully remembering that everything that is happening is sanctioned by Krishna allows us to live an anxiety-free life.
Turn a negative experience into a positive ‘spiritual muscle building’ opportunity.
As we cultivate the habit of naturally feeling dependent on Krishna under all circumstances, it allows devotees to live on Krishna’s mercy, even in this material world.
Such a culture help devotees to develop a spiritual vision where we can see Krishna’s hand in all the happenings in our life, even in the so-called material dealings.
We can apply this principle in multiple situations- while seeking donations, in our dealings with other devotees, in our professional life, etc. Instead of feeling temporarily elated or disheartened, we can practice to become equipoised during life’s ups and downs, see each happening as sanctioned by Krishna, strengthen our relationship with Krishna, thereby allowing us to always remember Krishna and never forget Him.
Try to picture this: you are an artist and you‘ve been a devotee for two or maybe three years … or even six months like Bhakta Mark, Muralidhara. There were Jadurani, Bharadwaja came from Montreal, Muralidhara and Devahuti came from L.A.
The Challenge- capture Krishna’s beauty
You are tasked with painting something that is supposed to exceed the greatest works of art ever known to man. You are supposed to paint something that is more beautiful than Raphael or Da Vinci or Rembrandt has ever painted in their lifetimes because you are painting the beauty, the unlimited, infinitely unlimited beauty of God. So what is the beauty of Mona Lisa compared to God … what is anything compared to that? So these poor artists are shuddering: ―How in the world can we accomplish this?
What Prabhupada is giving the world is so great and our skills and our abilities are so small they don‘t match. It is not even close—and then a letter comes and now he wants a painting a day? So, there was a lot of concern, and as they were talking amongst themselves they wrote to Prabhupada that they did not feel adequate or up to this challenge: ―We think that our skills as artists are not that great, and we think we need to study seriously and go to an art academy. We need to learn the greatest techniques of the greatest art in the world, and maybe then we will be able to do something that might be slightly worthy of what Prabhupada is going to give to the world. A vision of God: how can we paint that? We barely know even how to paint.”
Srila Prabhupada’s vision to capture Krishna’s beauty
Prabhupada explained to them: “Your whole concept of beauty is mundane. Actually, you don‘t even know what real beauty is. There are two parts to understanding real beauty. The first part is that everything in the painting must be authorized and authentic. There can be no imagination, no fabrication, no fanciful imagination like poets and artists of the world who are trying to create something that is beautiful based on what they have seen in the world.”
The second definition Prabhupada gave them is this: “The only way you are going to achieve beauty is through your heart, through bhakti—devotion to God and not through anything mundane. If you don‘t paint with bhakti, I don‘t care what it looks like it will not be accepted”.
How to Capture Krishna’s beauty?
So now we come back to the problem that the artists had and how they proposed that they wanted to go to art school. And Prabhupada had said that was not how they were going to learn how to paint beautifully: “They may teach you how to paint in a mundane way, but that is not what I am looking for. This is how you are going to learn how you are going to paint. You are going to sit in front of your canvas, eight, ten, twelve hours a day. Day after day and the entire time you are going to be painting, you are going to be chanting Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. I understand that you feel helpless and totally inadequate and you are in great anxiety that you cannot do this. Yet that is exactly the mood that I want you to be chanting with. I want you to be in so much anxiety, so anxious, in so much desperation that when you call out to Krishna it is from the core of your heart.” It should be the greatest desperation that anyone has ever felt in life. That is how I want you to chant Hare Krishna while your hand is moving, and if you do that day after day, crying to Krishna for help, every single day then you will learn how to be an artist, that is all the training you need.”
These are pictures of the ISKCON artists working in Boston in 1970. Bharadraja is painting Lord Caitanya taming the wild beasts in the jungle by His chanting of the holy names. Murali-dhara is touching up a picture of four-headed Lord Brahma in Satyaloka. The devotees hadn’t been painting so long, but they were learning by working….They worked in a rather large area on a second floor with lots of windows. About six painters could work at one time, with lamps clamped to their canvases. They’d listen to Prabhupada’s lectures or bhajans of him singing while they painted, and they considered their lives blissful. Working on the Press in separation from Prabhupada while he toured the world produced intense dedication.
The painters felt dedicated. During this early time I was the manager of the painting department. I didn’t have many duties. I assigned the pictures, managed the personnel and my main job turned out to be how to restrain the devotees from working too much. Painting was a service that gave the painters great enthusiasm, and they worked all day and night, and I had to tear them away from their canvases. They were in a mood of painting in a marathon spirit, and Prabhupada encouraged it. When the paintings were completed and used in the books the originals were put in simple frames and hung in the temples. Prabhupada personally gave instructions by mail as to how exactly the characters should be painted.
Not bad for no art school. That is the power of the order of the pure devotee because embedded within the order is the potency to carry it out, the empowerment to carry out the order. There is no other way to explain this miracle. Eightyseven paintings in the Krishna book, forty-eight paintings in the Bhagavad-gita and that had to be finished by the end of 1971. And in between they had to paint the second canto, two volumes so seven paintings each. They had to paint for the Nectar of Devotion, and because Prabhupada was introducing art in the books they had to now reprint the first canto, 1st volume and three paintings in those.
There are eighty-seven paintings in the Krishna book, forty-eight paintings in the Bhagavad-gita, twenty-one paintings in the first canto and fourteen paintings in the second canto. And all of this had to be finished by the end of 1971 because then they had to return to the third canto because Prabhupada was already translating the fourth canto. So they painted one hundred eighty paintings in two years, which is unbelievable. By being empowered by Srila Prabhupada, these paintings have a type of bhakti that is impregnated into them by Prabhupada‘s order.
The form of the Lord is understood by the paramparā system… His description of the bodily features of the Lord is not an imagination. Sometimes we give instructions to our students about the bodily features of the Lord, and they paint Him. Their paintings are not imaginary. The description is given through disciplic succession, just like that given by Nārada Muni, who sees the Lord and describes His bodily features. Therefore such descriptions should be accepted, and if they are painted, that is not imaginative painting.
What Srila Prabhupada revealed on how to capture Krishna’s beauty was so heart-touching that I read it repeatedly and I felt inspired to share it with everyone. The state of our heart needed to capture Krishna’s beauty or Krishna Himself in our heart is now an open secret, the question is do I have the laulyam, the transcendental greed, to want to capture Krishna!
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
P.S.: The painting on the top is from the first edition of Krishna book.
I am sharing below the transcript of a lecture by Srila Prabhupada where he mentions how anyone can see God! He reveals that we have Television in our heart!
Sila Prabhupada: So we are worshiping Govindam, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the original person. So this sound, govindam adi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi, is reaching Him. He is hearing. You cannot say that He is not hearing. Can you say? No. Especially in this scientific age, when television, radio messages are broadcast thousands and thousands of miles away, and you can hear…. Why Kṛṣṇa cannot hear your prayer, sincere prayer? How can you say? Nobody can deny it.
So, premāñjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena santaḥ sadaiva hṛdayeṣu vilokayanti (Bs. 5.38). Just like thousands and thousands miles away you can transfer the television picture or your radio sound, similarly, if you can prepare yourself, then you can see always Govinda. It is not difficult. This is stated in Brahma-saṁhitā, premāñjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena. Simply you have to prepare your eyes, your mind in that way. Here is a television box within your heart. This is the perfection of yoga. It is not you have to purchase one machine or television set. It is there, and God is also there. You can see, you can hear, you can talk, provided you have got the machine. You repair it, that’s all. The repairing process is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Otherwise, everything is supplied, complete, complete set of machine you have got within you.
And just like for repairing, an expert mechanic required, similarly, you require the help of someone expert. Then you’ll see that your machine is working. It is not difficult to understand. Nobody can say that it is not possible. In the śāstra we hear also. Sādhu śāstra, guru vākya, tinete kariya aikya.
Spiritual realization can be perfected by three parallel process. Sādhu. Sādhu means saintly persons, who are realized souls, sādhu. And śāstra. Śāstra means scriptures, authoritative scriptures, Vedic scriptures, śāstra. Sādhu, śāstra and guru, a spiritual master. Three parallel lines. And if you place your car or vehicle on these three parallel lines, your car will go direct to Kṛṣṇa.
Please read it 2-3 times and we may get a sense of what Srila Prabhupada is telling us. And it is not just a theory, being an acharya he himself is experiencing it and then sharing the same with us. Let us delve deeper within us and get the Television in our heart repaired!
In the next blog, I will share Srila Prabhupada explaining in detail- how to see Krishna in our heart!
p.s. – Below is the short audio clipping of the above lecture.
That is wanted, that all of you will take upon yourselves the responsibility of preaching widely everywhere the message of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. By that responsible commitment to your spiritual master, that is your qualification for getting Krsna’s blessing upon you. And only in this way will you be able to make your spiritual progress rapidly.
Therefore if we want to please Kṛṣṇa, we have to take this risk. Kṛṣṇa, guru. My spiritual master took this risk, preaching work, and he inspired us also to do that preaching work. And we are also imploring you to take this preaching work.
I was maintaining the establishment simply depending on Krishna and then Krishna sent me everything—men and money. Similarly, if a sincere soul goes out and opens a center in any part of the world Krishna will help him in all respects. Without being empowered by Krishna, nobody can preach Krishna Consciousness. It is not academic qualification or financial strength which helps in these matters, but it is sincerity of purpose which helps us always…. In this way you will follow my example as I did in the beginning at 26 2nd Ave. That is preaching, cooking, writing, talking, chanting everything one man’s show. I never thought about the audience. I was prepared to chant if there were no man to hear me. The principle of chanting is to glorify the Lord and not to attract a crowd. If Krishna hears nicely then he will ask some sincere devotee to gather in suchplace.
The best example is Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He’s Kṛṣṇa Himself, but He’s playing the part of mahā-bhāgavata. He never discussed Kṛṣṇa’s rasa-līlā publicly. Never discussed. You won’t find any time that Caitanya Mahāprabhu is discussing rasa-līlā publicly. No. Never. He simply dealt with ordinary persons by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, and whenever there were scholars, there were philosophers—just like Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī—He talks with some philosophy, Vedānta-sūtra. And when there was high-class devotee like Rāmānanda Rāya, He discussed about Kṛṣṇa’s līlā. You’ll find this. Not that with everyone He discussed Kṛṣṇa’s līlā. No.
Neither He discussed philosophy with everyone. But for the general public, so long He remained at Jagannātha Purī, every evening He was simply organizing great saṅkīrtana party. And for four hours, at least, He was going on saṅkīrtana in four parties. We have studied this thing from Caitanya-caritāmṛta, or Teachings of Lord Caitanya, that from the dealings of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, because although He’s Kṛṣṇa Himself, He’s playing the part of ācārya, playing the part of devotee.
Yes, we shall base our preaching work on Lord Caitanya’s formula: sankirtana. After all, He is God, and if He recommends, what is the question of failure? that is not possible. If we simply stick to this programme as I have done it since the beginning, namely, kirtana, preaching, kirtana, distribution of prasadam—if you do like this only that will be sufficient. Of course, you may make the kirtana as nice as possible, with dancing, many kholes, karatalas, conches, and if you preach sincerely, anyone will listen and become convinced. The potency of Krishna Consciousness movement does not come from some outward showing, no, it is the transcendental sound vibration of Hare Krishna Mantra and the words of Bhagavad-Gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, like that. So now go on and develop the things in this spirit, that will be nice.
Such regular activities like attendance of Arati, chanting of rounds, study of literatures in the class will keep you fit for effective preaching work in the outer field. Our standard of purity must be kept, otherwise there will be loss of spiritual strength, and subsequent fall down. Everyone of you should be thoroughly convinced of the power of the Hare Krsna mantra to protect you in all circumstances and chant accordingly at all times without offense.
Simply introduce our Krsna Consciousness program anywhere and everywhere, without any compromise or deviation from the highest standard of devotional practice, as chalked out for us by our great predecessors. If you yourself remain always pure, then your preaching will have effect. As soon as there is little impurity, the whole thing will deteriorate and go to hell.
Anyone who preaches the gospel of Bhagavad-gītā to the people of the world is the dearest person in the world to Kṛṣṇa. So therefore our duty is to preach the principles of this Bhagavad-gītā, to make people Kṛṣṇa conscious. People are suffering for want of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Therefore each and every one of us should be engaged in the preaching work of Kṛṣṇa consciousness for the benefit of the whole world.
If you feel at all indebted to me then you should preach vigorously like me. That is the proper way to repay me. Of course, no one can repay the debt to the spiritual master, but the spiritual master is very much pleased by such an attitude by the disciple.
I wrote about why devotees suffer in my last blog. Today I am sharing how devotees can find purpose in pain. A lifeline which the devotees can use to turn the negative into an uplifting experience. We can see the suffering of devotees from many angles of vision, this is just one of the ways to look at it, based upon our level of faith.
Find purpose in pain
1. Kindergarten: As a wake-up call, to understand that this world is a place of miseries, this body is an instrument to receive pain, I won’t find happiness here.
This material world is certified by the Supreme Lord, the creator, as duḥkhālayam. Duḥkhālayam means “the place of miseries.” And how you can make it comfortable? Can you make it comfortable by your so-called advancement of science? No. It is not possible. But we do not know what is duḥkha, or what is suffering. Real duḥkha is, real suffering is, birth and death, old age and disease. But we have set aside. Because we cannot make solution of these things, we don’t care for it.
2. Primary school: Helps us get a sense of urgency. It helps us to wake up from a sense of complacency, which may cover us after we have spent some time in Krishna consciousness. Our real home is somewhere else.
Sometimes Krsna may put us into some difficulty just to purify us and force us to advance in Krsna consciousness. The devotee should always see his difficulty in this light, that Krsna is so kind upon me for creating this condition of struggling, thus He is relieving me of so many billions of lifetime of sinful reactions by this very insignificant and temporary condition of suffering something.
One who possesses good intelligence can deliberate properly and save himself from many dangerous conditions. In material existence there is danger at every step. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.14.58) it is said: padaṁ padaṁ yad vipadāṁ na teṣām. This material world is not actually a place of residence for an intelligent person or a devotee because here there is danger at every step. Vaikuṇṭha is the real home for the devotee, for there is no anxiety and no danger. Good intelligence means becoming Kṛṣṇa conscious.
3. Secondary school: Knowing something of nature of the material world and that Krsna is the cause of all causes devotees at this level stay focused on the goal and tolerate suffering
Everyone is suffering who has got this material body. That is the condition. If you have got material body, you must suffer. It is not the question of European, American or white, black. There is no such question. If you are animal or man, as soon as you have got this material body, you must suffer. This is condition. This is material condition. Therefore our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is not meant for, I mean to say, mitigating the so-called sufferings of the body. When there is body, there must be suffering. So we should not be very much disturbed by the sufferings of the body.
4. Graduate: They understand the philosophy and by their own experience they have realised that Krishna is sending them a message. Krishna wants us to learn something or develop some quality we lack. Devotees at this level gladly accept any suffering as the mercy of Krishna. They find purpose in pain.
A devotee is naturally so humble and meek that he accepts any condition of life as a blessing from the Lord. Tat te ‘nukampāṁ susamīkṣamāṇaḥ (SB 10.14.8). A devotee always accepts punishment from anyone as the mercy of the Lord. If one lives in this conception of life, he sees whatever reverses occur to be due to his past misdeeds, and therefore he never accuses anyone. On the contrary, he becomes increasingly attached to the Supreme Personality of Godhead because of his being purified by his suffering. Suffering, therefore, is also a process of purification.
5. Postgraduate: Give me more! The pain or suffering becomes an impetus to remember Krishna. We see it very clearly in the prayers of Kunti maharani, whom Srila Prabhupada called ‘the most intelligent woman’.
I wish that all those calamities would happen again and again so that we could see You again and again, for seeing You means that we will no longer see repeated births and deaths.
Constantly remembering the lotus feet of the Lord means preparing for liberation from birth and death. Therefore, even though there are so-called calamities, they are welcome because they give us an opportunity to remember the Lord, which means liberation.
Irrespective of our level of advancement or consciousness, we should have faith in Krishna. We should know that nothing is happening by chance, there is a reason behind it and Krishna is in control.
Krishna does not like to see His sincere devotee suffer or become frustrated or depressed. He will not stand idly by in any such case, so do not fear on that account. Krishna has got some plan for you, always think in that way, and very soon He will provide everything to your heart’s desire.
Lord Kṛṣṇa explains in the Bhagavad-gītā that a devotee who fully surrenders unto Him is no longer liable to suffer the reactions of his previous karma. However, because in his mind a devotee may still maintain the remnants of his previous sinful mentality, the Lord removes the last vestiges of the enjoying spirit by giving His devotee punishments that may sometimes resemble sinful reactions. The purpose of the entire creation of God is to rectify the living entity’s tendency to enjoy without the Lord, and therefore the particular punishment given for a sinful activity is specifically designed to curtail the mentality that produced the activity. Although a devotee has surrendered to the Lord’s devotional service, until he is completely perfect in Kṛṣṇa consciousness he may maintain a slight inclination to enjoy the false happiness of this world. The Lord therefore creates a particular situation to eradicate this remaining enjoying spirit. This unhappiness suffered by a sincere devotee is not technically a karmic reaction; it is rather the Lord’s special mercy for inducing His devotee to completely let go of the material world and return home, back to Godhead.
A sincere devotee earnestly desires to go back to the Lord’s abode. Therefore he willingly accepts the Lord’s merciful punishment and continues offering respects and obeisances to the Lord with his heart, words and body. Such a bona fide servant of the Lord, considering all hardship a small price to pay for gaining the personal association of the Lord, certainly becomes a legitimate son of God.
My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim.
Just as a legitimate son has to simply remain alive to gain an inheritance from his father, one who simply remains alive in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, following the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga, automatically becomes eligible to receive the mercy of the Personality of Godhead. In other words, he will be promoted to the kingdom of God.
I hope and pray that the above compilation helps us to find purpose in pain, by turning our angle of vision. We should have firm faith that sincere and surrendered devotees do not receive karmic reactions rather they only receive Krishna’s mercy- bitter or sweet, both are good for us.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
p.s.- I will be happy to receive your comments or corrections.
These are difficult times and we see suffering all around us. Especially we have seen Indians suffer severely in the second wave of COVID and our heart and prayers are with everyone at this time of difficulty. However, we see devotees also suffer during such times and sometimes as neophytes we may wonder why devotees suffer, I am already under the shelter of Krishna. However, as per scriptures, a devotee’s suffering is not the same as that of an ordinary person, devotees do not suffer karmic reactions, they may look same but are completely different. A karmi eats grains and vegetables and a devotee also eats the same, however, there is a completely different effect on both. One is under the control of material energy whereas the other is under the control of Krishna. Hence mature devotees accept their so-called suffering also as the mercy of Krishna and great devotees like Kunti maharani pray for more suffering as it facilitates deeper remembrance of Krishna.
Today I came across the below conversation which may help us understand why devotees suffer.
Devotee: Srila Prabhupada, sometimes people argue that if there is no God, it doesn’t matter what I do, and if there is a God, then He is controlling everything and it still doesn’t matter what I do, because everything is predetermined anyway. In either case, I am free to do anything I like.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, but why do you suffer?
Devotee: Well, it’s all God’s plan. I suffer according to God’s plan.
Srila Prabhupada: No. It is not God’s plan that you suffer; you suffer because you violate God’s laws. He is controlling everything, but He has given you minute independence: you can either follow His laws or violate them. But you are so foolish that you do not understand you are suffering. Your position is like that of the cats and dogs, who also cannot understand that they are suffering.
Our point is that you are suffering because you have violated God’s laws, and if you become obedient to God you will not suffer. But you are such a fool, such a rascal, that you do not even know that you are suffering.
Devotee: But the devotees also seem to be suffering.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, but they are not suffering like the nondevotees. Material life, which is the cause of suffering, is like a disease, and devotees are giving up this diseased condition of life for Krishna consciousness. If you are suffering from some disease, you cannot expect to be cured immediately. But one who is taking the medicine is very intelligent. His sufferings will soon be gone. But these nondevotee rascals will not even take the medicine—Krishna consciousness—so they will continue to suffer. To man
And for the most part, devotees enjoy. Why are you always chanting Hare Krishna and dancing unless you are enjoying?
Devotee: Sometimes I get a sick stomach, too.
Srila Prabhupada: That’s because you have a material body. But your suffering is just like the movement of a fan that has been switched off. The fan is still moving, but the switch is off; so it will soon stop. Similarly, your suffering will soon stop, because you are acting on the spiritual platform. And after giving up this body, you will have a completely blissful life. As Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita [4.9], tyaktva deham punar janma naiti:
“After giving up the body, a devotee doesn’t take birth again in the material world.” You are not going to get another material body, full of suffering. That is your advantage.
But these nondevotee rascals are going to continue getting body after body, all full of suffering. They will have to accept one body and suffer, and then again they’ll have to give up that body and take another body and suffer. As long as one accepts a material body he will have to suffer, because having a material body means suffering. So those who are not Krishna conscious will change bodies one after another and continue to suffer the threefold miseries [those caused by the body and mind, those caused by other living beings, and those caused by natural calamities].
But devotees, even if they appear to be undergoing some suffering, will eventually give up the material body and remain in their spiritual body, free from all suffering.
Devotee: [taking the position of a materialist] That is simply your faith.
Srila Prabhupada: And it is your faith that you do not believe it. We are accepting the words of the Bhagavad-gita on faith, so we have a chance of getting promoted to the spiritual world. But you have no faith, so you are sure to continue suffering in the material world. We are at least willing to take the chance, but you are so foolish that you are not willing to take the chance. So your suffering is sure to continue.
Devotee: Indians often say, “Well, I will take the chance when Krishna wishes. His will is supreme, so whenever He wishes He will make me Krishna conscious.”
Srila Prabhupada: In the Bhagavad- gita [18.66], Krishna says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam sharanam vraja: “Give up all your nonsense and surrender unto Me. Become Krishna conscious.” So, Krishna wishes that you surrender to Him. Why don’t you obey His wish?
Devotee: Why does Krishna arrange for the pleasures of sense gratification if they only bring us suffering?
Srila Prabhupada: Again, the same answer: Krishna has given us minute independence—we can use our senses for either sense gratification or for serving Him, which is the real pleasure of the senses. The senses are meant for enjoyment, but if you try to enjoy your senses in a diseased way—by gratifying them—that is your misfortune, and you will have to suffer. You have to cure your disease by becoming Krishna conscious. Then you will enjoy unlimitedly.
We are not like the Mayavadis [impersonalists], who want to destroy the senses and become senseless. That is not our program. We want to purify the senses (sarvopadhi- vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam). Suppose a man cannot see because he has glaucoma. The mayavada program is that if your eye is giving you trouble and you cannot see, pluck it out. That is not our program. We want to cure the disease so you can see very nicely. So, our senses should be cured of the material disease by our practicing Krishna consciousness. Then we will be able to enjoy real sense pleasure by using our senses in the service of Hrishikesha [Krishna], the master of the senses.
(Morning walk, April 1975, Mayapur)
This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.
Yesterday I came across an amazing insight into the Sankirtan mission of Caitanya Mahaprabhu by HH Bhakti Vidyapurna swami. Maharaj shared a unique insight into why Caitanya Mahaprabhu came, how those three internal reasons are divided into Sambandha, Abhidheya and Prayojana and much more. Here it goes-
The Sankirtan mission has three parts. They are the three parts why Lord Caitanya came. He came to taste:
The attraction to Krishna
What is gained by the experience of serving Krishna
What is the experience of love for Krishna
So the sambandha , abhidheya and prayojana , so you get Madana-mohana, Govinda and Gopinatha.
The Sankirtana as we define it generally is dealing with the Madana-mohana part. You are attracting others to Krishna. That is the within Madana-mohana, you are dealing with the Sankarshana aspect of establishing Krishna is God and we are not, so you are establishing that relationship and you are sparking that attraction, or Pradyumna aspect to Krishna. But once that is done, they take up the devotional service, but you still have to inspire that attraction. Because they are attracted this much now, but there is more to go: Krishna is unlimited. So it is eternally being inspired. So that Sankirtana mission is going on, that is doing it, so, therefore, you have your preaching, your festivals, these things, they are inspiring and creating more and more attraction. That is Caitanya, that is the life, that is the force. Then you have Vishvambhara, which means that you are cultivating and nourishing those that are in the process because they themselves have to be able to contemplate and take it deeper. And then in that they have to know the goal, you have Gaura. Because it is Radha-Govinda, means it is Radha and Krishna, worship of Radha and Krishna, that is what you are trying to get to. Then you see that is the complete mission. Because you have to have all those three.
By maharaj’s mercy we get a unique glimpse of how the Sankirtan mission has three aspects that relate to three aspects of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Please read it again carefully and I am sure we will get newer realisations.
Lover of God- this term evokes different feelings or images in our hearts. Who is a lover of God? What are his symptoms? How does he behave?
And do we know that all of us, yes each one of us, has love of God within our heart and the perfection of our spiritual life is get eternally and permanently reinstated as a lover of God!
Our present condition
By nature, we are lover of God, but here, being illusioned, we think God as our enemy and we don’t like God. We like this māyā.
(SP Lecture, January 9, 1967, New York)
Religion means to awaken that love
Religion means to awaken that Krishna consciousness. That is religion. Sa vai puṁsāṁ paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhokṣaje (SB 1.2.6). That is religion. Religion is not formalities and ritualistic ceremonies. Religion means how to awaken the normal condition, to become lover of God. That is normal condition. Love is there, but because we have no objective, because we have no instruction where to place our love we are loving so many things—up to the dog. Instead of God we are loving dog. Love is there.
(SP Lecture, September 6, 1976, Vrindavan)
An exchange between God and the living entity
The living entity is sanātana. Mamaivāṁśo jīva-bhūtaḥ jīva-loke sanātana. He is sanātana. God is sanātana. The exchange between God and the living entity is called sanātana-dharma or Vaishnavism. So we are teaching that. We are not teaching Hinduism, Muslimism, Christianism. We are teaching how to love God. That’s all. There is no question of proselytization. It is natural. We are, by nature we are lover of God. Just like father and son. The love is already there. It cannot be extinguished. The father and son may be separated for many, many years, but when they come together the affection immediately revives.
( SP room conversation, June 28, 1976, Vrindavan)
We broke this relationship!
Originally every living entity is unimaginably beautiful, intelligent, wealthy, and so strong that his spiritual body lives forever. But we foolishly give up this eternal, blissful situation because we are unwilling to meet the condition for eternal life. The condition is that one should be a lover of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna. Although love of Krishna is the most exquisite ecstasy, surpassing by millions of times the most intense pleasure of the material universe, we foolishly break off our loving affair with the Supreme Lord and artificially try to become independent enjoyers in the material atmosphere of self-delusion and false pride.
In the human form of life the highest achievement is to attain the platform of love of Godhead. Lord Caitanya did not invent a system of religion, as people sometimes assume. Religious systems are meant to show the existence of God, who is then generally approached as the cosmic order-supplier.But Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s transcendental mission is to distribute love of Godhead to everyone. Anyone who accepts God as the Supreme can take to the process of chanting Hare Krishna and become a lover of God.
A person who is completely free from sinful activities, such person can become a devotee, a lover of God. So this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is teaching to the human society how to become purified. There is no such restriction that “This man can be purified; that man cannot be.” No, there is nothing like that. Everyone can be purified if he desires to be so. So immediately we may not be able to purify. As it is prescribed—no illicit sex, no meat-eating, no gambling, no intoxication—it may not be possible because those who are accustomed, it is difficult to give up. Therefore the process is given very simple: “Chant Hare Krishna.” So purification is absolute. That is necessary. Without purification, you cannot understand God. But the method we are prescribing… Not we are prescribing; it is Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s prescription. We are simply propagating that “Chant Hare Krishna.
( SP Lecture, February 12, 1975, Mexico)
We can begin from any stage
Lust is only the perverted reflection of the love of God which is natural for every living entity. But if one is educated in Krishna consciousness from the very beginning, that natural love of God cannot deteriorate into lust. When love of God deteriorates into lust, it is very difficult to return to the normal condition. Nonetheless, Krishna consciousness is so powerful that even a late beginner can become a lover of God by following the regulative principles of devotional service. So, from any stage of life, orfrom the time of understanding its urgency, one can begin regulating the senses in Krishna consciousness, devotional service of the Lord, and turn the lust into love of Godhead—the highest perfectional stage of human life.
So this is the process, how to increase your attachment for Krishna. This bhakti-yoga or Krishna consciousness movement is nothing… We do not say that “You Christian, you are good. I am Hindu, I am bad.” Or “You are bad, I am good.” We don’t say that. We simply say that “It is your right now, this human form of body, how to love God.” That’s all. “You have loved so long dog. Now you try to love God.” That is our propaganda.
So we don’t criticize anyone. Simply we want to see whether he or she has developed his love of God. That’s all. So you can do it either as Christian or as Hindu, as Muhammadan. We don’t care for that. But we want to see you that you are actually lover of God. If you are not, then we tell you, “You try to love God in this way.” What is that? Śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ. Simply hear about Krishna. Simply chant about Krishna. Is that very difficult? If you have not yet learned how to love God, take this process, and you will learn how to love God. This is our propaganda. It is not difficult.
(SP Lecture, June 30, 1972, San Diego)
Heart of a Premi Bhakta
A bona fide lover of God could never forget Him, even in exchange for everything else. The devotee of the Lord cannot be happy in any circumstance without the Lord. In the absence of the Lord the devotee associates with Him by remembering His separation, and because the Lord is absolute, the devotee’s feeling of separation is transcendentally more relishable than direct contact. This is possible only when we develop genuine love for Him. In that state the devotee is always with the Lord by feelings of separation, which become more acute and intolerable in suitable circumstances.
(Light of the Bhagavata 42, Purport)
Premāñjana-cchurita. By prema… Prema means love. The ointment of love, when it is smeared over the eyes, then those who are devotees, santaḥ, saintly persons, they can see always Krishna within hisheart. Premāñjana-cchurita-bhakti. Antaḥ. And bahiḥ, so far experience, that he sees everything. One who is lover of God, he can see Krishna in everything.
Whatever he sees, he sees Krishna there, because he knows that “This thing is produced out of Krishna’s energy.” Take for example a flower. A devotee sees a flower produced by Krishna’s energy. He sees the beauty of flower, appreciating Krishna’s artistic sense. When he hears the sweet voice of a bird, he immediately understands that “Krishna is speaking so nicely through this bird.” This is called Krishna consciousness.
(SP Lecture, April 9, 1971, Bombay)
Lover of God
This relationship of attachment is very sublime. It requires time to understand, but there is a position where, instead of asking, “O God, please give us our daily bread,” you can instead think that God will die if you do not supply bread to Him. This is the ecstasy of extreme love. There is such a relationship between Krishna and His devotee Rādhārāṇī, the greatest devotee, the greatest lover of Krishna. Mother Yaśodā is His lover as a parent; Sudāmā is His lover as a friend; Arjuna also as a friend—there are millions and billions of different kinds of direct devotees of Krishna.
( KC- Topmost yoga system, chapter 2)
Among the gopīs, Srimati Radhika is the foremost. She surpasses all in beauty, in good qualities, in good fortune and, above all, in love.”
Among all the gopīs, Srimati Radharani is the most exalted. She is the most beautiful, the most qualified and, above all, the greatest lover of Krishna.
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura explains that unless one is directly empowered by the causeless mercy of Krishna, one cannot become the spiritual master of the entire world (jagad-guru). One cannot become an ācārya simply by mental speculation. The true ācārya presents Krishna to everyone by preaching the holy name of the Lord throughout the world. Thus the conditioned souls, purified by chanting the holy name, are liberated from the blazing fire of material existence. In this way, spiritual benefit grows increasingly full, like the waxing moon in the sky. The true ācārya, the spiritual master of the entire world, must be considered an incarnation of Krishna’s mercy. Indeed, he is personally embracing Krishna.
And as soon he becomes a lover of God… Just like I am Indian, but I have come to western countries to teach love of God. It is not that I am satisfied only in myself that I love God, that’s all right. But due to my love to God I love others also, because I am trying to teach them to love God, the same philosophy. So if people take seriously this movement, how to love God, then human society will be first-rate.
( Room conversation, September 5, 1971, London)
Therefore this love of God cannot be distributed by anyone unless he is empowered by God. No ordinary man can, if he’s not a lover of God.
(SP Lecture, August 26, 1971, London)
I hope the above compilation was satisfying and pleasing to the lotus feet of all the devotees. I pray that by reading the words of Srila Prabhupada we feel inspired to become a serious and sincere devotee, and also aspire to become an eternal servant of a lover of God.
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.