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.
As we progress in Krishna Consciousness it is important to check whether our train is going on the right track. And ours is a special train that runs on three parallel tracks- sādhu śāstra and guru!
Why is it important to me?
Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura states that one has to ascertain the right path for his activities by following in the footsteps of great saintly persons and books of knowledge under the guidance of a spiritual master (sādhu-śāstra-guru-vākya). A saintly person is one who follows the Vedic injunctions, which are the orders of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The word guru refers to one who gives proper direction under the authority of the Vedic injunctions and according to the examples of the lives of great personalities. The best way to mold one’s life is to follow in the footsteps of the authorized personalities.
Sādhu, whose character is spotless, he’s called sādhu. Śāstra means scripture, and guru, guru means spiritual master. They are on the equal level. Why? Because the medium is scripture. Guru is considered to be liberated because he follows the scripture. Sādhu is considered to be honest and saintly because he follows scripture. Sādhu-śāstra-guru-vākya. Nobody can become a sādhu if he does not accept the principles of scripture. Nobody can be accepted as guru, or spiritual master, if he does not follow the principles of scripture. This is the test.
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. Tinete kariyā aikya.
Just like in the railway line you see two parallel lines. If they are in order, the railway carriages are carried very smoothly to the destination. Here also, there are three parallel lines—sādhu, śāstra, guru: saintly person, association of saintly person, acceptance of bona fide spiritual master, and faith in the scriptures. That’s all. Then your carriage will be going nicely, without any disturbance. Sādhu śāstra guru vākya, cittete kariyā aikya.
So here in the Bhagavad-gītā, the Supreme Personality of Godhead explaining Himself, Kṛṣṇa. So if you say, “How can I believe that Kṛṣṇa said? Somebody has written in the name of Kṛṣṇa that ‘Kṛṣṇa said,’ ‘God said.’ ” No. This is called disciplic succession. You will see in this book, Bhagavad-gītā, Kṛṣṇa, what Kṛṣṇa said, and how Arjuna understood. These things are described there.
And the sādhu, saintly person, beginning from Vyāsadeva, Nārada, down to many ācāryas, Rāmānujācārya, Madhvācārya, Viṣṇu Svāmī, and latest, Lord Caitanya, in this way, they have accepted, “Yes. It is spoken by Kṛṣṇa.” So this is the proof: if saintly persons have accepted. They have not denied. Authorities, they have accepted, “Yes.” This is called sādhu. And because sādhu, saintly persons, have accepted, therefore it is scripture. That is the test. Just like . . . it is common sense affair. If the lawyers accept some book, then it is to be understood that this is law book. You cannot say that “How can I accept this is law?” The evidence is the lawyers are accepting. Medical . . . if the medical practitioners accept, then that is authoritative medical book. Similarly, if saintly persons are accepting Bhagavad-gītā as scripture, you cannot deny it.
So sādhu śāstra: saintly person and scriptures, two things, and with spiritual master, three, three parallel lines, who accept the sādhu and the scripture. Sādhu confirms the scripture and spiritual master accept the scripture. Simple process. So they are not in disagreement. What is spoken in the scripture is accepted by saintly person, and what is spoken in the scripture, the spiritual master explains only that thing. That’s all.
So via media is the scripture. Just like lawyer and the litigants—via media is the law book. Similarly, the spiritual master, the scripture . . . saintly person means who confirms the Vedic injunction, who accepts. And scripture means what is accepted by the saintly person. And spiritual master means who follows the scripture.
So things equal to the same thing are equal to one another. This is axiomatic truth. If you have got hundred dollars, and another man has got hundred dollar, and if I have got hundred dollar, then we are all equal. Similarly, sādhu śāstra guru vākya, when these three parallel lines in agreement,then life is success.
When a man comes into good consciousness and accepts a saintly person as a spiritual master, he hears many Vedic instructions in the form of philosophy, stories, narrations about great devotees, and transactions between God and His devotees. In this way a man becomes refreshed in mind, exactly like a person who smears scented sandalwood pulp all over his body and decorates himself with ornaments. These decorations may be compared to knowledge of religion and the self……. One cannot return to Kṛṣṇa consciousness unless he is favored by the instructions of a saintly person. Therefore Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura sings, sādhu śāstra guru vākya, cittete kariyā aikya. If we want to become saintly persons, or if we want to return to our original Kṛṣṇa consciousness, we must associate with sādhu (a saintly person), śāstra (authoritative Vedic literature) and guru (a bona fide spiritual master). This is the process.
So this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is giving chance to everyone to hear from the authoritative sources, from the śāstra. Sādhu śāstra guru. These are authorities. So instead of hearing from the unauthorized persons….
Vāsudeva is always ready to help us, provided we want to take help from Him. And He, not only internally He is helping, externally also, He’s sending His representative to teach us. And there is śāstra, just like this Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Sādhu, śāstra, guru. Guru is there, śāstra is there, saintly persons are there. You take advantage. And the Lord is there within yourself. So why don’t you take? This is intelligence.
Please hear this heart-touching incident which shows that there is no limit to the compassion of our dear Srila Prabhupada-
It was the beginning of 1977. Prabhupada was in the Bombay temple. He was very sick. He had stopped all food intake – he was taking 1/4 a cup of orange juice per day. His body had only bones left – there was no flesh. And yet, he was insisting that he wanted to go to London. The doctors had given up responsibility. But as always, he was adamant.
At this time, one Pancaratrika Pandit from Bangalore named Sampat Kumar Bhattacarya came to know about Srila Prabhupada’s situation. So, he took a flight from Bangalore to Bombay – which in those days was a huge thing for a Brahmin priest – and met Prabhupada, and asked for a private meeting. Generally, nobody was allowed a private meeting, but when he said that he specially came by flight from Bangalore to meet Srila Prabhupada, he was allowed a private meeting. So, everybody was asked to go out, and they talked.
The conversation was like this: Sampat Kumar: ‘Swamiji, I am feeling very pained that you are suffering like this.’
Prabhupada (laying down, in broken words): ‘The whole world is meant for suffering. Dukhalayam asavatam.’
Sampat Kumar: ‘But still Swamiji, there are so many people depending on you. So when you suffer, they suffer.
Prabhupada: ‘What can I do?’
Bhattacarya: ‘Swamiji, I want to tell you something. In Vrindavan temple, they are having your deity on the altar. And all kinds of people are coming and praying to it and offering flowers to it, and you are still living. According to Pancaratra, when the Acarya is living, if he puts his deity on the altar, then all the sufferings people are having come to his body through the deity. So you please tell your disciples to worship your deity only after you leave your body.’
He was speaking as if he was giving some information to Prabhupada, which Prabhupada did not note.
Prabhupada: ‘I know. I came here to take their suffering.’
Bhattacarya was shocked. He was not giving any new information. This was well known to Prabhupada, and he was determined to suffer for others.
Prabhupada: ‘Do you have anything else to say?’
Bhattacarya: ‘Swamiji, if that is your wish, what can I say? I am only a priest.’
Prabhupada: ‘Even when I leave, I will keep continuing taking their suffering, and make them free so they can keep chanting Hare Krishna.’
(Told by HG Atma Tattva Das in a Bhagavad Gita class on 9.34 in Los Angeles on the 20th of March 1993)
Yes. Those who are spiritually advanced, their photograph and ordinary photograph is different. Just like here is statue of Kṛṣṇa. He’s not different from Kṛṣṇa. The original person Kṛṣṇa and this statue of Kṛṣṇa is the same. Similarly, a spiritually perfect person and his photograph is the same. Because it is in the absolute stage. In the absolute stage there is no difference. In the material stage there is difference. Is that clear?
We can see that Srila Prabhupada has not disappeared. He is very much here- for us- in every temple, in every devotee’s home and in the heart of his dear followers. We simply need to put our prayer at his lotus feet- he is a unique combination of mercy and potency.
I am posting a blog after a long gap. What better to start by reading some nectar from Srila Prabhupada. I am sharing a very instructing excerpt from a lecture Srila Prabhupada gave in Vrindavan in 1972. Please read it carefully.
Prabhupada– So, in devotional service there are three stages,” “The kanistha-adhikari, the madhyam-adhikari, and the uttama-adhikari, or beginning, middle, and advanced stages. In the beginning, kanistha-adhikari, the devotee engages in Deity worship, makes offerings to the Deity, cleans the floor, etcetera. This isn’t to say that Deity worship is lower than meditation. It’s just the beginning stage.
“Sometimes the kanistha-adhikari thinks that he has realized Krishna just because he has worshiped the Deity nicely, but he must make further advancement. When we say ‘Krishna,’ we do not refer to Krishna alone, but to all of His energies and paraphernalia. When we say, ‘The king is coming’ we don’t mean that the king is coming alone. His ministers, secretaries, queens, soldiers—everyone is coming. Similarly, Krishna is the root of all emanations, and when He comes, His devotees also come with Him. When we recognize Krishna’s devotees and pay them respects, we are further advanced. If a pure devotee comes, the pujari can immediately stop the aratik and go to receive him. Krishna is satisfied more when His devotee is worshiped. That’s a fact.
“Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado yasya prasadan na gatih kuto’pi. The spiritual master is the representative of God because he’s engaged twenty-four hours daily in Krishna’s service. The spiritual master is considered as good as Hari because he’s Krishna’s most confidential servant. Worship of the spiritual master is not artificial or concocted: it’s recommended in all the Shastras. Advanced devotees accept this and treat the spiritual master accordingly.
“Although the spiritual master is offered respects like Hari, he doesn’t think himself Hari. He considers his disciples to be his spiritual masters. He thinks, ‘Krishna has sent me so many spiritual masters.’ He doesn’t even think of himself as a guru but as a servant to his disciples, because Krishna has given him the task to train them.
“When one is advanced, he can see the importance of other devotees. An advanced devotee never offends another devotee. That is a very serious offense. Therefore we address one another as ‘Prabhu.’ This should not simply be spoken with the lips. It should be realized. One should think of other devotees as his prabhus, his masters. Not that he should try to become master himself.
We should always be willing to offer respects not only to other devotees but to everyone. Everyone. Why? Because every living entity is originally a devotee of Krishna. Circumstantially, being covered by the modes of nature, he seems like a demon, but his original nature is that of Krishna’s servant.
“The process of bhakti really begins when one is self-realized. Before that, if one engages in Deity worship yet thinks that he is the body and does not give respect to devotees, he is at the first stage, kanistha-adhikari. Although seated on the material platform, he’s trying to improve his condition by following the directions of the spiritual master and Shastra.
“We should not remain perpetual neophytes. We should try to advance to madhyam-adhikari. On this platform, we distinguish between four different kinds of living entities: Krishna, Krishna’s devotees, innocent people, and atheists. We should not superficially say, ‘In my view, everyone is the same.’ Of course, that is the last stage, but because we are neophyte, this is not our vision. This vision of the maha-bhagavat should never be imitated. Imitation is artificial.
“In the second stage, that of madhyam-adhikari, one treats all types of men according to their position and tries to increase his love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead and also make friends with the devotees. He doesn’t envy the devotees. If a devotee is superior, we should take lessons from him; if equal, we should make friends with him; and if lower, we should try to help him.
“A madhyam-adhikari does not simply give respect to other devotees: he teaches others to become devotees as well. This means preaching. A preacher should approach others and say, ‘You’re wasting your life in material activities. You should become Krishna’s devotee.’ This is preaching. One should preach Krishna consciousness to the innocent. The atheists should be avoided because as soon as an atheist hears about God, he becomes envious and vicious.
“At the last stage, that of maha-bhagavat or uttama-adhikari, one doesn’t see devotees and nondevotees. He sees everyone as a better devotee than himself. Nor does he pretend to have this consciousness. No. He actually thinks like this. He’s naturally humble: he wants to pay respects to everyone, and he wants no respect for himself. If one wants respect for himself, he’s still at the secondary stage. The maha-bhagavat is ready to give respect even to an ant.
“When one attains this highest platform, there’s no more friend, no more enemy, no more preaching. The maha-bhagavat sees everyone engaged in the Lord’s service, with the exception of himself. This platform, however, should not be imitated. It must be sincere, not superficial.
“Those who are preachers must remain on the second platform, that of madhyam-adhikari. Even when a maha-bhagavat wants to preach, he must come down to that second platform. He cannot remain on the highest and preach. He plays the part of second-class devotee. For instance, in the Bible, Lord Jesus Christ said, ‘I have many things to say, but you are not qualified to understand them.’
There are many gems in the above excerpt. However I wish to focus upon if we could see how Srila Prabhupada expects every ISKCON devotee to graduate to the level of a madhyam-adhikari, he does not want us to become complacent in Bhakti, which affects many of us. He also instructs us what qualities an aspiring devotee should develop to come to the platform of a madhyam-adhikari.
There is nothing bad in being in a primary school, everyone has to go through it but one does not remain in a primary school, one graduates to secondary school. The same is true for Krishna consciousness as well.
And lastly, we heard how important it is to be engaged in preaching service, which attracts even a Maha-bhagavat or an uttama-adhikari to come down to the level of a madhayam-adhikari. Like Srila Prabhupada did.
In the next blog, I will share from the above-quoted lecture, Srila Prabhupada’s instruction on how to preach properly.
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.
A few days back I heard a lecture by Srila Prabhupada where Prabhupada spoke about an essential quality of any disciple- inquisitiveness. We make progress in Krishna consciousness by asking questions, clarifying our doubts. This is a Vedic principle and a key part of guru-disciple relationship. Srila Prabhupada famously said ‘asking questions is a sign of intelligence’. I am sharing part of the transcription of the lecture below –
People should be engaged always inquiring about progress of spiritual life. That is advancement. Bodhayantaḥ parasparam. There should be constantly discussion. So this is jijñāsu.
And to dissipate this ignorance, get out of this ignorance, one has to approach a person who is not abodha but bodha, budhā. Budhā bhāva-samanvitāḥ: one who has known what is the destination of life. That budhā . . . What is that? Bhajante ananya manaso budhā bhāva-samanvitāḥ (BG 10.8). So one has to approach a budhā.
Therefore Lord Buddha’s name is Buddha, from this bodha. He has understood everything. He was prince, and he never came out of the palace, and when he came out he saw one old man with a stick, with great difficulty walking. So inquired his servants, “What is this?” “This is old man. Everyone has to become like this.” That was the inspiration of understanding. “Why he should be like that? Why one should become old man? Why he should walk on sticks?” So these inquiries made him Buddha, Lord Buddha, by meditation. That is his pastime.
That means one should understand by nature study, why this man is diseased, why this man is old, why this man is suffering. Then bodhayantaḥ parasparam, then the inquisitiveness can lead him to the proper knowledge. And where to get that proper knowledge? That is guru. Tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet (MU 1.2.12). But if there is no inquiry, if one is dull like stone and tree, then how there will be inquiry?
So our education at the present moment is given just dull like stone and trees. Trees standing, cutting. No inquiry. “Why you are cutting?” He cannot. So dull. But this inquisitiveness should be enthused. People should be enthused to inquire: ādau gurvāśrayaṁ sad-dharma pṛcchāt. Sad-dharma pṛcchāt. That inquisitive must be . . . Guru means . . . To accept guru means the disciple should be very very eager to know. Sad-dharma pṛcchāt. Ādau gurvāśrayam. Why you accept a guru? “It is a fashion.” One should be very inquisitive: sad-dharma pṛcchāt.
And everywhere the same thing. Paripraśna. Tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā (BG 4.34). But don’t make inquiries cheap: “Ah, here is my guru, and he’s meant for answering all my questions. Let me go on questioning, questioning, questioning.” No.Sevayā: you must serve him. You must be ready to serve him. Then you have got right to make question. Otherwise not.
Two things. First of all, you must find out a person where you can fully surrender, praṇipātena. And then you can inquire, and the inquiry should be compensated by seva. Yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasāda. Sevonmukhe hi jihvādau svayam eva sphuraty adaḥ. The more you are inclined to render seva, the more the truth becomes revealed. yasya deve parā bhaktir, yathā-deve tathā gurau, tasyaite kathitā hy arthāḥ, prakaśante. It is a different science. The more you are inclined to render service, the more the spiritual truth becomes revealed.
And two things: if you are not inquisitive, don’t bother yourself to have a guru. Useless. There is no need. Tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta (SB 11.3.21). Tasmād, “therefore.” What is that? Jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam. If you are inquisitive about transcendental science, śreya uttamam.
I felt a bit embarrassed after hearing this lecture as I do not ask too many questions. I prayed to Srila Prabhupada to help me that I do not assume I have understood a particular point rather I should confirm it from senior devotees and develop the quality of inquisitiveness. At the same time I should be careful that I don’t treat senior devotees like an ATM machine to answer my questions at all the times, I should develop the mood to serve them as well.
Most of us, at least I can speak for myself, are struggling devotees, struggling to shuffle between our spiritual, family and professional life. We struggle, feel stretched and many times feel frustrated as well. The Acharyas are merciful, and understanding our condition, they leave in their footsteps, keys on how to build spiritual muscles and keep on progressing further in Krishna consciousness with enthusiasm, patience and tolerance. I am sharing one such key today. This is a verse from Srimad Bhagavatam and partial purport, highlighting how do we get spiritual strength.
As long as one has to accept a material body, with its different parts and paraphernalia, which are not fully under one’s control, one must have the lotus feet of his superiors, namely his spiritual master and the spiritual master’s predecessors. By their mercy, one can sharpen the sword of knowledge, and with the power of the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s mercy one must then conquer the enemies mentioned above. In this way, the devotee should be able to merge into his own transcendental bliss, and then he may give up his body and resume his spiritual identity.
It’s a packed verse and we can go on and on unpacking it however today we will look at only one key from it- spiritual strength. Now we will go to the purport which not only highlights this particular key so we do not miss out to ‘pick’ it up but it also tells us how to ‘operate’ this key to build our spiritual strength. Here it goes-
A significant word here is acyuta-balaḥ. The spiritual master is certainly very merciful to his disciples, and consequently by satisfying him a devotee gets strength from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu therefore says, guru-kṛṣṇa-prasāde pāya bhakti-latā-bīja:one must first please the spiritual master, and then one automatically pleases Kṛṣṇa and gets the strength with which to cross the ocean of nescience.
If one seriously desires to return home, back to Godhead, one must therefore become strong enough by pleasing the spiritual master, for thus one gets the weapon with which to conquer the enemy, and one also gets the grace of Kṛṣṇa. Simply getting the weapon of jñāna is insufficient. One must sharpen the weapon by serving the spiritual master and adhering to his instructions. Then the candidate will get the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
It is difficult to pull myself away from reading Srila Prabhupada’s purports. They seem like an unending ocean with precious gems spread all over. The only effort needed is to go a little deeper. We don’t find precious gems in the shallow part of the sea. As we delve deeper into Bhaktivedanta purports we can feel the mistakable presence of Srila Prabhupada, his gentle hand nudging and guiding us into newer and newer regions of the vast sea of Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavad Gita, CC or any other scripture he wrote for us. It is an amazing experience, and it’s accessible to all of us.
They are not my words, as I have repeatedly informed you that I am simply the bearer of the message from Lord Caitanya through the disciplic succession and I do not make any addition or subtraction.
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.
Vrindavan – simply writing or speaking the name of dhama has a purifying effect on our consciousness. Recently I read a very unique talk by Srila Prabhupada where he spoke about the right understanding of being in Vrindavan and what did Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu teach us by His own example. How do we properly understand where is Vrindavan. Here it goes-
Hari Sauri: Prabhupada pointed out that Lord Caitanya could have remained at home as a big devotee but didn’t. He went out all over India to spread the holy names, and He instructed His followers to spread it all over the world. Prabhupada spoke strongly against the mood of many of the bābājīs in Vrindavan that one should never leave the place. And as he spoke I couldn’t help but be reminded of Nitaī dāsa’s recent criticism’s of ISKCON and Prabhupāda’s refutation of them.
“Pṛthivīte āche yata nagarādi grāma [Caitanya-bhāgavata, Antya 4.126]. ‘All over the world, as many towns and villages are there, this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement should be . . .’ “Not that ‘We are big, big gosvāmīs and bābājīs. We do not go out of Vrindavan.’ Caitanya Mahāprabhu says that pṛthivīte āche yata nagarādi grāma. And they have become very big Vaiṣṇava: ‘No, I don’t go beyond the limits of Vrindavan.’ “What is this nonsense? Did Caitanya Mahāprabhu say like that, that ‘You do not go beyond the limits?‘ A devotee, wherever he is, that is Vrindavan. That is Vrindavan tīrtha.
“A pure devotee can make any hell a tīrtha, a holy place. That is devotee. Tīrthī kurvanti tīrthāni [SB 1.13.10]. That was Bhagīratha. Gaṅgā was hesitating that ‘I shall go to the material world. “All sinful men will take bathing, and I’ll be overloaded with sin. Then how I shall get out of this accumulation of sins?’ So Bhagīratha said, ‘My mother, don’t hesitate. When a holy man will take bath in your water, then all the sins he will assimilate.’ Then she agreed.
So if we become holy man, actually, then immune. There is no difference. That is Caitanya Mahāprabhu. “These are bogus, that ‘I do not go out of Vṛndāvana.’ They are making Vrindavanlimited. Vrindavanis not limited. Wherever there is Kṛṣṇa, wherever there is a Rādhā Kṛṣṇa temple, that is Vrindavan. “Caitanya Mahāprabhu, once only He went to Vrindavan. Does it mean He was not in Vrindavan?
So this is Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s mission, that preaching must go on in hell and heaven. “We should be very much expert and follow the instruction of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the simple instructions. Mukunda mādhava yādava hari bolena bolo re vadana bori. Simply chant the holy names of Lord, mukunda mādhava yādava. “This is Caitanya. Rise early in the morning. You go and preach, and work hard, day and night, and that is Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s . . . This song indicates.”
Prabhupada sat back and with a sideways tip of his head brought the short darśana to close. “Thank you.”
As the devotees dispersed, Surendra hung back to express his appreciation of Prabhupada comments. “As you rightly said that these Vaiṣṇavas, they want to become maṭha deśas, they want to become like kings. They don’t want to leave their empire and go out, working hard like you and spreading the message of Lord Kṛṣṇa.”
Prabhupada was happy that he had caught his mood. “Yes. That is our mission.”
“That is the right attitude,” Surendra continued. “Even if there is one bhakta, that is Vrindavan.”
Telling him that a bhakta creates Vrindavan, Prabhupada concluded,
“Kṛṣṇa says, ‘I do not stay in Vaikuṇṭha.’ Nāhaṁ tiṣṭhāmi vaikuṇṭhe yogināṁ hṛdayeṣu [Padma Purāṇa]—’Neither I stay at the core of the heart of the yogis.’ Tatra tiṣṭhāmi nārada yatra gāyanti mad bhaktāḥ—’When My pure devotee chants the glories of My . . . I immediately stay there. I immediately stay.’
“It’s not that He is packed up in some place. He’s all pervading. Therefore His name is Vāsudeva. Īśāvāsyam idaṁ sarvam. He’s everywhere. Electricity is everywhere. Only one who knows how to take the electricity . . .
“So Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s preaching and teaching, their effect you have to follow. Then our life will be successful. We don’t manufacture ideas. That is not wanted.”
[22. Biographies and Glorification of Śrīla Prabhupāda / A Transcendental Diary Volume 5 – Hari Sauri dāsa / Volume Five]
After reading the above discussion multiple times I contemplated whether I wish to continue to remain an enjoyer of dhama or should aspire to become a servant of dhama. Should I always think of myself going to Vrindavan or should I preach, as per the desire of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Srila Prabhupada, and make the glory and mercy of Vrindavan available to more souls. My miserly heart needs to expand. And who knows, by the mercy of Sri Guru and Gauranga, in some lifetime Sri Vrindavan dhama may appear in my dry heart also.
The appearance of the form of Kṛṣṇa anywhere, and specifically within the heart, is called dhāma.Dhāma refers not only to Kṛṣṇa’s form, but to His name, His form, His quality and His paraphernalia. Everything becomes manifest simultaneously.
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.