The International Society for Krishna Consciousness was formed in 1966 by Prabhupada A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, who came from India on the order of his Spiritual Master to preach love of God to the people of the West. Prabhupada is in a line of disciplic succession going back directly 500 years to the time when Lord Chaitanya appeared in India, and from there back still further—5000 years—to the time when Krishna first spoke The Bhagavad Gita to His disciple Arjuna.
Krishna Consciousness is experienced as a process of self purification. Its means and end are an open secret, and there is no financial charge for learning Krishna Consciousness or receiving initiation into the chanting of Hare Krishna. The gist of devotional service to Krishna is that one takes whatever capacity or talent he or she has and dovetails it with the interests of the Supreme Enjoyer, the Lord, Sri Krishna. The writer writes articles for Krishna, and we publish periodicals in this way. The businessman does business in order to establish many temples across the country. The householders raise children in the science of God, and husband and wife live in mutual co-operation for spiritual progress. These activities are done under the sanction of the expert Spiritual Master, and in line with the Scriptures. Devotional service in Krishna Consciousness means regular chanting in the temple, hearing talks about the Pastimes of Krishna from Srimad Bhagwatam, and taking foodstuffs prepared for and offered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
By books, literature and records, the Society is dedicated to awakening the worldwide public to the normal, ecstatic state of Krishna Consciousness, so that all may regain their eternal position of favorably serving the will of Krishna. Sankirtan—congregational chanting—is carried to the people: in public parks, schools, on t.v., in the theater, on the streets. Krishna Consciousness is not an idler's philosophy. Rather by chanting and by engagement in the service of Krishna, anyone who takes part will experience the state of "Samadhi," ecstatic absorption in God-consciousness, 24 hours a day!
As the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness is non-sectarian, any man, Hindu or Christian, will become better in his faith by chanting the Holy Name of God and by hearing The Bhagavad Gita. Without knowledge and realization and loving service to the One Supreme God, there can be no religion. Let everyone rejoice in the Sankirtan Movement, and we may see the fulfillment of the prediction made by Lord Chaitanya 500 years ago: that the chanting of the Holy Names of God, Hare Krishna, would be carried to every town and village of the world. Only in this way can real peace prevail. It is sublime and easy.
HARE KRISHNA, HARE KRISHNA,
KRISHNA KRISHNA, HARE HARE/
HARE RAMA, HARE RAMA,
RAMA RAMA, HARE HARE
If You Are Interested In Becoming A Member Of Iskcon Write: Iskcon—New York For Further Details.
—Excerpt from a work in progress by
[His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's forthcoming book, KRISHNA, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, will contain all the transcendental Pastimes of Lord Krishna when He appeared within the universe 5,000 years ago, as revealed in the ultimate scripture, Srimad Bhagavatam.]
[From Chapter Eight: Lord Krishna appeared as a Child, the Son of Vasudeva and Devaki, and was transferred to the home of Nanda and Yasoda so as to escape being killed by Devaki's brother, the demon Kansa. When Krishna was one year old, His foster father Nanda Maharaj called in the astrologer-sage Gargamuni to foretell the Child's future.]
Gargamuni was an astrologer and he could understand everything past and future; therefore he said: "I know everything about His Activities and Name, but others do not know. This nice Child will be very pleasing to all the cowherdsmen and cows. Being very popular in Vrindaban, He will be the Cause of all auspicity for you. On account of His presence He will overcome all kinds of calamities of material existence without any opposing elements." Gargamuni continued to say: "My dear King of Braja, in His previous births, this Child many times protected righteous persons from the hands of rogues and thieves wherever there was political disruption. Your Child is so powerful that anyone who will become a devotee of your Boy will never be troubled by any enemies. Just as demigods are always protected by Lord Vishnu, so the devotees of your Child will always be protected by Narayan the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This Child will grow in power, beauty, opulence—in everything on the level of Narayan the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore I would advise that you protect Him very carefully so that He may grow without any disturbance." Gargamuni informed Nanda Maharaj that, because he was a great devotee of Narayan, so Lord Narayan had given a Son who was equal to Him At the same time he indicated, "Your Son will be disturbed by many demons so be careful and protect Him from all future disturbances." In this way, Gargamuni convinced Nanda Maharaj that Narayan Himself had become his Son. In various ways he described the transcendental qualities of his Son. When Gargamuni had gone back to his home, Nanda Maharaj began to think of himself as the most fortunate and he was very satisfied to be blessed with such a Son.
Within a very short time, both Balaram and Krishna began to crawl by Their hands and knees and were moving hither and thither. When Rama and Krishna were crawling like that it was very pleasing to the mothers. Their bells fixed up on the waist and ankles sounded very fascinating and They moved around very pleasingly; and sometimes, just like ordinary children, being afraid of others, they would immediately reach to Their mothers for protection. Sometimes They would fall over the clay and muds of Vrindaban. The crawling Children, Krishna and Balaram, would approach Their mothers smeared with clay and saffron. They were actually smeared with saffron and sandalwood pulp by Their mothers but after crawling over muddy clay Their Bodies were also smeared with clay. As soon as They would come crawling to Their mothers, Yasoda and Rohini would take Them on their laps and covering the lower portion of their saris, they allowed Them to suck the breast. When the Babies were sucking the breast the mothers would see small teeth coming within the mouth and they would be intensified with joy seeing their Children growing. Sometimes the naughty Babies would crawl up to the cowshed, catch the tail of a cow, and stand up. The calves, being disturbed by such catching, would immediately begin running here and there, and the Child would be dragged on clay and cow dung. Yasoda and Rohini would call all their neighboring friends, the gopis, to see this fun. By seeing the Childhood Pastimes, the gopis would be merged in transcendental bliss. And in their enjoyment they laughed very loudly.
Both Krishna and Balaram were restless, and the mothers Yasoda and Rohini tried to protect Them from cows, bulls, monkeys, water and birds; at the same time they had to execute their household duties. Always anxious to protect the Children and to execute their duties, they were not situated in tranquility of mind. In a very short time both Krishna and Balaram began to stand up and slightly move on Their legs. When Krishna and Balaram began to walk, other friends of the same age joined Them and together They began to give the highest transcendental pleasure to the gopis, specifically to Mother Yasoda and Rohini.
In order to enjoy further transcendental bliss, all the gopis assembled and went to Mother Yasoda to lodge complaints against the restless Boys. While Krishna was sitting before Mother Yasoda the elderly gopis began to lodge complaints against Him, so that Krishna could also hear. They said: "My dear Yasoda, why don't you restrict your naughty Krishna. Every day your Krishna along with Balaram comes to our house both morning and evening, and before the milking of the cows they let the calves loose, and the calves drink all the cows' milk. When we go to milk the cows we see there is no milk and we come back with empty pots. The calves have already drunk all the milk. If we try to warn Krishna and Balaram against doing this, They simply smile charmingly and then we cannot do anything. Another complaint against your Krishna and Balaram is that They find great pleasure in stealing our stock of yogurt and butter from anywhere we keep it. When Krishna and Balaram are caught stealing the yogurt and butter They say: 'Why do you charge Us for stealing? Do you think that butter and yogurt are in scarcity in Our house?' Sometimes They steal the butter and yogurt and milk and distribute it to the monkeys, and when the monkeys are fed well and do not take anymore, then your Boys chide, 'This milk and butter and yogurt are useless even the monkeys won't take it.' And They break the pots and throw them hither and thither. If we keep our stock of yogurt, butter and milk in a solitary dark place, your Krishna and Balaram find it out in the darkness by the glaring effulgence of the ornaments and jewels on Their Bodies. If by chance They cannot find the hidden butter and yogurt, They go to the little babies and pinch their bodies so that they cry, and then They arrange to reach it by piling all kinds of wooden carts over the grinding machine; and in that way They reach the pot of butter and yogurt. And if They cannot reach the hanging butter and yogurt by piling up carts, They make a hoIe in the pot, We think therefore that you'd better take all the jeweled ornaments from the Body of your Child.'' On hearing this Yasoda would say. "All right, I will take all the jewels from the Body of Krishna so that He may not see the butter hidden in darkness.' Then the gopis would say, "No, no, don't do this. What good will you do by taking out the jewels? We do not know what kind of Boys these naughty Boys are, but even without ornaments They spread some kind of effulgence so that even in darkness They can see everything." Then MotherYasoda would inform them: ''All right. keep your butter and yogurt carefully so that They may not reach the place." In reply to this the gopis said. ''Yes, actually we do so, but because we are sometimes engaged in our household duties, these naughty Boys enter our house somehow or other, and spoil the whole thing. Sometimes being unable to steal our butter and yogurt, out of anger They pass urine on the clean floor and sometimes They spit on it. Just see your Boy now-He is hearing this complaint. The whole day They make arrangements how to steal our butter and yogurt. and now They are sitting just like very silent good Boys. Just see His face." After hearing all the complaints, Mother Yasoda desired to chastise her Boy, but when she saw the pitiable face of Krishna she began to smile. and stopped chastising Him.
Another day, when Krishna and Balaram were playing along with Their friends, all the friends combined together with Balaram and lodged a complaint to Mother Yasoda that Krishna had eaten clay from the earth. On hearing this complaint from the boys. Mother Yasoda caught hold of Krishna's hand. Krishna was very afraid of His mother and saw her in a very attractive outlook. She said: "My dear Krishna, why have You eaten earth in a solitary place? Just see, all Your friends including Balaram are complaining against You." Being afraid of His mother, Krishna would reply: "My dear mother. all these boys including My elder brother Balaram are speaking lies against Me, I have never eaten or taken any clay. I know My elder brother Balaram, while playing with Me today, became angry and therefore He has also joined with the other boys to complain against Me. They have all combined together to complain, so you may be angry and chastise Me. If you think They are truthful then you can see within My mouth whether I have taken clay." His mother replied. ''All right, if You have actually not taken any clay then just open Your mouth, I shall see." When the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna was so ordered by His mother, He immediately opened His mouth, just like an ordinary boy. Then Mother Yasoda saw within that mouth the complete opulence of creation. She saw the entire outer space in all directions, mountains, islands, oceans, seas, planets, air, fire, moon and the stars. Along with the moon and the stars she also saw the entire elements like water, sky, the extensive ethereal existence along with total ego and their products of the senses: she saw the Controller of the senses, all the demigods and the objects of the senses like sound, smell, etc. and the three qualities of material nature. She also could experience that within His mouth were all the living entities, eternal Time, the material nature, the spiritual nature, activity, consciousness and the different forms of the whole creation. Yasoda could find within the face of her Child everything meant for cosmic manifestation. She also saw within the mouth, herself, taking Krishna on her lap and Him sucking her breast. By seeing all this she became struck with wonder and began to think whether she was dreaming or actually seeing something extraordinary. She began to think within herself that actually she was either dreaming or seeing the play of the illusory energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. She thought she had become mad, and deranged in her brain, so that she was seeing all those wonderful things. She was thinking, "It may be cosmic mystic power attained by my Child and therefore I am perplexed with such visions within His mouth. Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead under whose energy the conception of bodily self and bodily possession are conceived." She said: "Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto Him, under whose illusory energy I am thinking that Nanda Maharaj is my husband and Krishna is my Son, and all the properties of Nanda Maharaj belong to me, and all the cowherdsmen and women are my subjects. All this misconception is due to the illusory energy of the Supreme Lord. So let me pray to Him that He may protect me always." When Mother Yasoda was thinking in that high philosophical way, Lord Krishna again expanded His internal energy just to bewilder her with material affection. Immediately Mother Yasoda forgot all philosophical speculation and accepted Krishna as her own Child. She took Him on her lap and became overwhelmed with familial affection. She thus began to think, "Krishna is not understandable to the masses through the gross process of knowledge but can be received through the Upanishads and the Vedanta or mystic Yoga system and Samkhya philosophy." She began to think of the Supreme Personality of Godhead as her own begotten Child. Certainly Mother Yasoda had executed many, many pious activities as a result of which she got the Absolute Truth Supreme Personality of Godhead as her Son who sucked milk from her breast. Similarly, Nanda Maharaj also must have performed many great sacrifices and pious activities so that Lord Krishna became his Son and addressed him as father. But it is surprising that Vasudeva and Devaki did not enjoy the transcendental bliss of Krishna's Childhood Pastimes, although Krishna was their real Son. The Childhood Pastimes of Krishna are glorified even until today by many, many sages and saintly persons, but Vasudeva and Devaki could not enjoy such Childhood Pastimes personally. Why Vasudeva and Devaki could not enjoy the Childhood Pastimes of Krishna is explained by Sukadeva Goswami to Maharaj Parikshit as follows.
When the best of the Vasus, of the name Drona, along with his wife Thara were ordered to increase progeny by Lord Brahma they said unto him, "My dear father, we are seeking your benediction." Drona and Thara took benediction from Brahma that in the future—when they would take birth again within the universe-the Supreme Lord Krishna in His most attractive feature of Childhood would absorb their whole attention. Their dealings with Krishna would be so attractive that simply by hearing Krishna's Childhood Activities with them anyone can very easily cross over the nescience of birth and death. Lord Brahma agreed to give them the benediction, and as a result the same Drona appeared as Nanda Maharaj in Vrindaban, and the same Thara appeared as Mother Yasoda, the wife of Nanda Maharaj.
In this way, Nanda Maharaj and his wife, Mother Yasoda, developed their unalloyed devotion for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, having gotten Him as their Son. And all the gopis and cowherdsmen who were Associates of Krishna naturally developed their own different feelings of love for Krishna.
Therefore, just to fulfill the benediction of Lord Brahma, Lord Krishna appeared along with His plenary expansion, Balaram, and executed all kinds of Childhood Pastimes—in order to increase the transcendental pleasure of all residents of Vrindaban.
Once upon a time, seeing that her maidservant was engaged in different household duties, Mother Yasoda personally took charge of churning butter. While she was churning butter she was also singing the Childhood Pastimes of Krishna and enjoying transcendental feelings.
The end of her sari was tightly wrapped while she churned, and on account of her intense love for her Son, milk was automatically dripping from her breasts which were moving as she labored very hard, churning with her two hands. The bangles and bracelets on her hands were tinkling as they touched against each other. Her earrings and breasts being shaken, there were drops of perspiration on her face and the flower garland which was on her head was dispersed here and there. Before this picturesque sight of Mother Yasoda, Lord Krishna appeared, as a Child. He felt hungry, and by increasing the feeling of love for His mother, He wanted Her to stop churning—He was indicating that her first business was to let Him suck her breast. He indicated in such a way that His mother knew she must breast-feed Krishna first, and churn butter later.
Mother Yasoda took her Son on her lap and pushed the nipples of her breasts within the mouth of Krishna. And while Krishna was sucking the milk, she was smiling enjoying the beauty of her Child's face. Suddenly, the milk pan which was on the oven became swollen with milk and began to overflow. Just to stop the milk from spilling on the ground, Mother Yasoda at once put Krishna aside and went to the oven to save the milk. Left in that state by His mother, Krishna became very angry and His lips and eyes became reddened in rage. He pressed His teeth and lips, and taking a piece of stone He immediately broke the butter pot. Taking butter out of it, and with false tears in His eyes, He began to eat the butter in a secluded place.
In the meantime, Mother Yasoda returned to the churning place after setting the overflowing milk pan in order. She saw the broken pot in which the churning yogurt was kept and she could not find her Boy. She concluded that the broken pot was the work of her Son, and she began to smile because she thought within herself: "The Child is very clever. After breaking the pot He has gone away from this place fearing that I may punish Him." When she sought all over she found a big wooden grinding mortar which was kept upside down and she found her Son sitting on the grinding mortar. He was taking butter which was hanging from the ceiling on a swing and He was feeding it to the monkeys. She saw Krishna looking this way and that way, in fear of His mother because He was conscious that His behavior would not satisfy her. After seeing her Son so engaged, she very silently
Mother Yasoda chased after Him to all corners, just to capture the Supreme Personality of Godhead who is never approached even by the expert meditational mind exercises of great yogis. In other words, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, who is never caught hold of by yogis and jnanis, was playing just like a little Child of a great devotee like Mother Yasoda. Mother Yasoda, however, could not follow her fast-running Child so quickly, on account of her thick waist and heavy body. Still she tried to follow the Child as fast as possible. Her bunch of hair became loosened and the flower in her hair fell to the ground. Although she was tired, she somehow reached her naughty Child and captured Him. When Mother Yasoda captured Krishna, Krishna was almost on the point of crying. He smeared His hands over His eyes, which were annointed with black eye-cosmetic. The Child was repeatedly seeing His mother's face while she stood over Him; and His eyes became too restless from fear. Mother Yasoda could understand that Krishna was being unnecessarily afraid and for His benefit she wanted to stop such fearfulness.
Being the topmost well-wisher of her Child, Mother Yasoda began to think within herself, "If the Child is too fearful of me, I don't know what will happen to Him." Mother Yasoda threw away the stick in her hand. But in order to punish her Child she thought to bind His hands with some ropes, without knowing the influence of her little Child. It was actually impossible for her to bind the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Mother Yasoda was thinking that Krishna was her tiny Child she did not know that the Child had no limitation. There is no inside or outside of the Child, nor beginning or end. He is unlimited and All-Pervading. Practically, He is Himself the whole cosmic manifestation. Still, Mother Yasoda was thinking of Krishna as her Child; although He is beyond the reach of all senses, she endeavored to bind Him up to a wooden grinding mortar. But when she tried to bind the offensive Child, she found that the rope she was using was too short—by two inches She gathered more ropes from the house and added to it, but at the end she found the same shortage. In this way, she connected all the ropes available at home, but when the final knot was added she saw that it was still too short. Mother Yasoda was smiling, but astonished—how was it happening?
In attempting to bind her Son, she became too tired and was perspiring. The garland on her head fell down. Then Lord Krishna appreciated the hard labor of His mother, and being compassionate to her, He agreed to be bound up by the ropes. Krishna playing as a human Child in the house of MotherYasoda was performing His own selected Pastimes; otherwise, nobody can control the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The pure devotee surrenders himself unto the Lotus Feet of the Lord, and He may either protect or vanquish the devotee—but for his part, the devotee never forgets his own position of surrender. Similarly, the Lord also feels transcendental pleasure by submitting Himself under the protection of the devotee. This was exemplified by Krishna's surrender unto His mother, Yasoda.
Krishna is the Supreme Bestower of all kinds of liberation to His devotees, but the benediction which was bestowed upon Mother Yasoda was never experienced even by Lord Brahma or Lord Shiva or the Goddess of Fortune.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead who is known as the Son of Yasoda and Nanda Maharaj is never so completely known to the yogis and jnanis, but He is easily available to His devotees. And it is the devotees alone who appreciate Him as the Supreme Reservoir of All Pleasure.
After binding her Son, Mother Yasoda engaged herself in the household affairs. At that time, bound up to the wooden mortar, Krishna could see a pair of trees before Him, known as arjuna trees. The great Reservoir of Pleasure, Lord Sri Krishna, thus thought to Himself: "MotherYasoda first of all left me without feeding Me sufficiently of her breast milk, and therefore I broke the pot of yogurt and distributed the stock butter in charity to the monkeys. Now she has again bound Me up to the wooden mortar. So I shall do something more mischievous than before." And thus He thought of breaking down two very tall arjuna trees.
There is a story behind the pair of arjuna trees. In their previous lives the trees were born as the human sons of Kuvera, and their names were Nalakuvera and Manigriva. Fortunately, they came within the vision of the Lord. In their previous lives they were cursed by the great sage Narada in order to bestow on them the highest benediction of seeing Lord Krishna. This benediction of cursing was bestowed upon them on account of their forgetfulness by intoxication.
The story of the cursing of Nalakuvera and Manigriva and their deliverance by Krishna, under the all-blissful desire of the sage Narada, is here described, as follows.
The two great demigods Nalakuvera and Manigriva were sons of the treasurer of the demigods, Kuvera, who was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. By the grace of Lord Shiva, Kuvera's material opulence had no limit. And as a rich man's sons often become addicted to wine and women, so these two sons of Kuvera were also addicted to wine and sex. Once, these two demigods, desiring to enjoy, entered the garden of Lord Shiva in the province of Kwelasa on the bank of Mandakini Ganges. At that place they drank much and were engaged in hearing the sweet singing of beautiful women who accompanied them in that garden which was full of fragrant flowers. In intoxicated condition, they both entered the water of the Ganges which was full with lotus flowers; and they began to enjoy the company of the young girls exactly as the elephant enjoys with the she-elephants within the water.
While they were enjoying in the water, all of a sudden Narada the great sage happened to pass that way; and he could understand that the demigods Nalakuvera and Manigriva were too intoxicated and could not even see that Narada was passing. The young girls, however, were not so intoxicated as the demigods, and they at once became ashamed on account of being naked before the great sage Narada. They began to cover themselves with all hastiness. The two demigod sons of Kuvera were so intoxicated that they could not appreciate the presence of sage Narada, and therefore did not cover their bodies. On seeing the two demigods so degraded by intoxication, Narada desired for their welfare and therefore he exhibited his causeless mercy upon them by cursing them The great sage was compassionate upon them and therefore wanted to finish their false enjoyment in intoxication and associating with young girls; and he wanted them to see Lord Krishna eye to eye. He conceived of cursing them as follows. He said that the nature for material enjoyment is due to an increase in the modes of passion. A person in the material world, when favored by material opulence of riches, generally becomes addicted to three things-namely intoxication, sex life and gambling. Such materially opulent men, being puffed up with accumulation of wealth, become so merciless that they indulge in killing animals by opening regular slaughter houses. And they think that they themselves will never die. Such foolish persons, forgetting the laws of nature, become too puffed up with the body, without knowing that this material body-even if advanced in civilization up to the position of demigods-will finally burn into ashes. And while living, whatever the external condition of the body may be, within there is only stool, urine and various kinds of worms. Thus being engaged in jealousy and violence to other bodies, they cannot understand the ultimate goal of life; and without knowing this goal of life they generally glide down to the hellish condition of life in their next birth. Foolish persons commit all kinds of sinful activities on account of this temporary body, but they are unable to consider whether this body actually belongs to them.
Generally it is said that the body belongs to the persons who feed the body. It is therefore to be considered whether this body belongs to me personally or to my master, to whom I render service. The master of slaves claims full right to the body of the slave because the master feeds the slave by supplying foodstuff. It may be questioned then, whether this body belongs to the father who is the seed-giving master of this body. The next question is whether this body actually belongs to the mother, because when the child is within the womb of the mother, she develops the child's body by her own blood and secretion. Sometimes a grandfather, a mother or father gives his daughter in charity to a person with a view to getting back the daughter's child as their son. The body may also belong to a stronger man who forces another body to work for him. And at the end of life the body belongs to the fire, because the body is given to the fire and burned to ashes. Or the body is thrown into the street to be eaten by the dogs. Before committing all kinds of sins for maintaining the body, one should be considerate and understand to whom the body belongs. Ultimately it is concluded that the body is a product of the material nature, and at the end it merges into the material nature; therefore, the conclusion should be that the body belongs to the material nature. One should not wrongly think that this body belongs to him. For maintaining a false possession why should one indulge in killing? Why should one kill innocent animals for maintaining the body? When a man is infatuated with the false prestige of opulence, he does not care for any moral instruction, but indulges in wine, women and animal killing. In such circumstances, a poor man is better situated. Because a poor man thinks of himself in comparison to other bodies. A poor man does not wish to inflict injuries to other bodies because he can understand more readily that when he himself is injured he feels pain. As such the great sage Narada thought that the demigods Nalakuvera and Manigriva were so much infatuated by false prestige that they should be put into a condition of life where there is no opulence.
A person who has some pinprick in his body does not wish others to be pricked by pins; a considerate man in the life of poverty does not wish others to be also put into that condition of life. Generally it is seen that one who has come up from poverty-stricken life and becomes wealthy creates some charitable institutional at the end of his life, so that other poverty-stricken men may take advantage. In short, a compassionate poor man can think of others' pains and pleasures by comparing himself in that condition. A poor man can hardly become puffed up with fake pride, and he is freed from all kinds of infatuation. He can remain satisfied by whatever he gets for his maintenance by the Grace of the Lord. To remain in poverty-stricken condition is a kind of austerity. According to Vedic culture, therefore, the brahmins as a matter of routine keep themselves in poverty-stricken condition, to save themselves from the false prestige of material opulence. False prestige out of advancement of material prosperity is a great impediment to spiritual emancipation. A poverty-stricken man cannot become unnaturally fatty by eating more and more. And on account of not being able to eat more than he requires, his senses are not very turbulent. When the senses are not very turbulent he cannot become violent.
Another advantage of a poverty-stricken person is that a saintly person can easily enter his house and he can get the advantage of the saintly person's association. A very rich, opulent man does not allow anyone to enter into his house, therefore the saintly person cannot enter. According to the Vedic system, a saintly person takes the position of a beggar mendicant, so that on the plea of begging something from the householder, he can enter any house. The householder who has forgotten everything about spiritual advancement, because he is too busy in maintaining the family affairs, can get some advantage for spiritual emancipation in the association of a saintly person. There is a great chance for the poor man to become liberated on account of association with the saintly person. What is the use of persons who are puffed up with material opulence of wealth and prestige, if they are bereft of the association of saintly persons and devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead? The great sage Narada, therefore, thought that it was his duty to put those demigods into a condition of life where they could not be falsely proud of their material opulence and prestige. Narada was compassionate with their fallen condition and wanted to save them from such pitiable life. They were in the modes of darkness and therefore unable to control their senses, addicted too much to sex life; and it was the duty of the saintly person to save them from such abominable condition of life. In animal life, the animal has no sense to understand that he is naked. But Kuvera was the treasurer of the demigods, a very responsible man, and Nalakuvera and Manigriva were two of his sons. Yet they became so animal-like and irresponsible that they could not understand, on account of being intoxicated, that they were naked. To cover the lower portion of the body is human civilization, and when a man or woman forgets this principle of human civilization, he or she is no more than an animal. Narada therefore thought that the best punishment for them was to make them immovable living entities, or trees. The trees are, by nature's laws, immovable; although the trees are covered in the modes of ignorance, they cannot do harm. The great sage Narada thought within himself that, although they would be punished to become trees, yet, by his mercy, they would continue to keep their memory and could understand from what condition of life they had come to be put into that condition of becoming trees. After changing the body a living entity generally forgets the condition of his previous life, but in special cases, by the Grace of the Lord, there may be an exception. Thus Nalakuvera and Manigriva still continued to remember their former condition of life, even after being put into the life of immovable trees.
Sage Narada therefore contemplated that the two demigods should remain for 100 years, in the time of the demigods, in the form of trees, and after that they would be fortunate enough to see the Supreme Personality of Godhead face to face by His Causeless Mercy. And thus they would be again promoted to the life of demigods and great devotees of the Lord. After this, the great sage Narada returned to his place known as Narayan Ashram and the two demigods turned into trees, known as twin arjun trees, grown in the courtyard of Nanda Maharaj. The two demigods were favored by the causeless mercy of Narada and given the chance to grow in Nanda's courtyard and see Lord Krishna face to face.
When the Child Krishna was bound up with the wooden mortar, He began to proceed towards the growing trees in order to fulfill the foretelling of His great devotee Narada. Lord Krishna thought within Himself that Narada was His great devotee, and the trees standing before Him as twin arjuna trees were actually the sons of Kuvera. "I must now fulfill the words of My great devotee Narada." After thinking this, Child Krishna began to proceed through the passage in between the two trees, and although He passed through the space between the trees, the wooden mortar fell down horizontally and was stuck between the two trees. Taking this advantage of the mortar being stuck, Lord Krishna began to snatch the rope tight in His waist. As soon as there was a great jerking on account of pulling the rope, the two entire trees, with all branches and limbs, fell down immediately with a great sound. Out of the broken, fallen trees came two great personalities shining like blazing fire. All sides became illuminated and beautiful by their presence, and the purified bodies immediately came before Child Krishna and bowed down to offer their respects and prayers in the following words: "My dear Lord Krishna, You are the Original Personality of Godhead, Master of all mystic powers. Learned brahmins know very well that this cosmic manifestation is an expansion of Your potencies which are sometimes manifested and sometimes unmanifest. You are the Original Provider of the life, body and senses of all living entities. You are the eternal God, Lord Vishnu, who is All-Pervading, the principal Controller of everything. You are the Original Source of the cosmic manifestation which is acting manifestedly under the spell of the three modes of material nature-goodness, passion and ignorance. You are living as the Supersoul in all the multi-forms of living entities, and You know very well what is going on within their bodies and minds; therefore You are the Supreme Director of all activities of all living entities. But although You are in the midst of everything which is under the spell of the material modes of nature, You are not affected by such contaminated qualities. Nobody under the jurisdiction of the material qualities can understand Your transcendental qualities. Your transcendental qualities existed before the creation, therefore You are called the Supreme Brahman who is always glorified by His Personal internal potencies. In this material world You can be known only by Your different Incarnations. Although You assume different types of Bodies they are not anything of the material creation. Such Bodies are always full of transcendental potencies of unlimited opulence, strength, beauty, reputation, wisdom and renunciation. In the material existence, there is a difference between the body and the owner of the body, but because You appear in Your Original Spiritual Body there is no such difference between Your Self and Body. When You appear Your uncommon Activities indicate that You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and such uncommon Activities are not possible by any other body in the material existence. You are that Supreme Personality of Godhead, now appeared to cause the birth and death as well as liberation of the living entities and You are full with all Your plenary expansions, and can bestow on everyone all kinds of benediction. O my Lord, the Source of all auspicity and goodness, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You. You are the All-Pervading Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Source of peacefulness and the Supreme Person in the dynasty of King Yadu. My Lord, our father, known as the demigod Kuvera, is Your servant. Similarly, the great sage Narada is also Your servitor, and by their grace only we have been able to see You Personally. We therefore pray that we may always be engaged in Your transcendental loving service by speaking only about Your Glories and hearing about Your transcendental Activities. May our hands and other limbs of the body be engaged in Your service and our minds always be wrapped up at Your Lotus Feet and our heads always bowed down before the All-Pervading Universal Form of Your Lordship."
When the demigods Nalakuvera and Manigriva finished their prayers, the Child, Lord Krishna, the Master and Proprietor of Gokula, being bound up to the wooden grinding mortar by the ropes of Yasoda, began to smile and said as follows: "It was already known to Me that My great devotee-sage Narada had shown his causeless mercy by saving you from a very abominable condition of being puffed up due to extraordinary beauty of opulence in the family of demigods. He has saved you from gliding down into the lowest condition of hellish life. All these facts are already known to Me. You are very fortunate because you were not only cursed by him but you had the greatest opportunity to see him. If somebody is able, by chance, to see face to face a great saintly person like Narada, who is always equiposed and merciful to everyone, then immediately that conditioned soul becomes liberated, simply by seeing such a personality. This is exactly like being situated in full light of sun: There cannot be any impediment of vision. Therefore, O Nalakuvera and Manigriva, your lives have now become successful because you have developed ecstatic love for Me. This is your last birth within the material existence. Now you can go back to your father's residence in the heavenly planet, and by remaining in such attitude of devotional service you will be liberated in this very life." After this, the demigods circumambulated the Lord many times and bowed down before Him again and again, and thus they left the place and the Lord remained in the condition of being bound up with ropes at the grinding mortar.
When the two twin yamalarjuna trees fell down on the ground, making a sound like the falling of thunderbolts, all the inhabitants of Gokula, including Nanda Maharaj and other cowherdsmen, immediately came to the spot. They were very much astonished to see how the great trees had suddenly fallen. But without finding any cause of their falling they were puzzled. They also saw Child Krishna bound up to the wooden mortar by the ropes of Mother Yasoda, and they began to think it must have been caused by some demon, otherwise how was it possible? At the same time they were very much perturbed on account of such uncommon incidences always happening in relation with the Child Krishna. While the elderly cowherdsmen were thus contemplating, the small children who were playing there informed the men that it was due to Krishna's pulling down the wooden mortar with the ropes in which he was bound up. "Krishna came in between the two trees," they explained, "and the wooden mortar was topsy-turvied and stuck in between the trees. Krishna began to pull the rope and the trees fell down. When the trees fell down. out of the broken trees two very dazzling men came out and they began to say something to Krishna." The cowherds did not believe the statement of the children, that the trees fell due to Krishna's pulling the rope. They could not believe that such things were at all possible. Some of them, however, believed and said to Nanda Maharaj, "Your Child is different than all other children, maybe He might have done it." Nanda Maharaj began to smile, hearing about the extraordinary abilities of his Son. He came forward and untied the binding just to free his wonderful Child. After being freed by Nanda Maharaj, Krishna was taken onto the laps of the elderly gopis. They took Him away to the courtyard of the house and began to clap, eulogizing the wonderful Activities of Krishna. Krishna began to clap along with the eulogizing, just like an ordinary child. The Supreme Lord Krishna being completely controlled by the gopis, began to sing and dance, just like a puppet in their hands.
Sometimes Mother Yasoda used to ask Child Krishna to bring her the wooden plank for sitting, and although the wooden plank was heavy and not to be carried by the Child, still somehow or other Krishna would bring that plank before His mother. Sometimes while worshiping Narayan, His father would ask the Child to bring his wooden slippers and Krishna with great difficulty would take the slippers on His head and bring them before the father. When He was asked to lift some heavy article and was unable to lift such article He would simply move His arms. In this way, daily, at every moment, He was the Reservoir of All Pleasure to the parents. When the Lord was exhibiting such childish Activities, in exchange, between the inhabitants of Vrindaban and Himself, He wanted to show the great philosophers and wisemen searching after the Absolute Truth how the Supreme Absolute Truth Personality of Godhead was controlled and subject to the desires of His pure devotees. One day, a fruit vendor came before the house of Nanda Maharaj. After hearing the canvasser's voice-"If anyone wants fruits please come and take from me!"-Child Krishna immediately took some grains in His palm and went to get fruits in exchange. In those days the exchange was barter, therefore Krishna might have seen His parents exchange fruits and other things by bartering grains, and so He imitated. But His palms were very small and He was not very expert to keep them tight, so the grains were falling down. The vendor who came to sell fruits saw it and was very much captivated by the beauty of the Lord, so he immediately accepted whatever few grains were left in His palm and filled up His hands with fruits. In the meantime, the vendor saw that his whole basket of fruit had become filled up with jewels. The Lord is the Bestower of all benediction; if somebody gives something to the Lord, he is not the loser, he is the gainer by a million times.
-by Hayagriva Das Adhikary
Part two. [Continued from Issue Number 29.]
Pleasure And Pain
Pleasure is a general term which is applied to any feeling of satisfaction which is agreeable to the living entity. This feeling may range from a sense of bodily gratification to a positive sense of spiritual happiness. In psychoanalysis "the pleasure principle" maintains that the living entity automatically adjusts his mental and physical activities to secure pleasure and to avoid pain. Pain is the sensation one feels when hurt mentally or physically. It can be manifest due to a physical wound, distress, great anxiety, suffering, anguish, grief and so on, or it can be caused by the body being attacked, or loved ones being lost, or by disappointments, etc. As far as pleasure is concerned, the position of the conditioned living entity is difficult because he is dwelling in the abode of pain and suffering, the body, which lives in the land of suffering-the material universe. Deluded, the living entity tries to lord it over objects in the material universe but is ultimately always frustrated. It is like a men trying to enjoy a picnic in the middle of a blazing forest fire. In His famous "Fire Sermon," Lord Buddha paints a vivid picture of the situation:"The ear is on fire; sounds are on fire; the tongue is on fire; tastes are on fire; the body is on fire; things tangible are on fire; the mind is on fire; ideas are on fire; mind-consciousness is on fire; impressions received by the mind are on fire; and whatever sensation, pleasant, unpleasant, or indifferent, originates in dependence on impressions received by the mind, that also is on fire. And with what are these on fire? With the fire of passion, say I, with the fire of hatred, with the fire of infatuation; with birth, old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, misery, grief and despair are they on fire."
Ignoring this mighty conflagration, man tries desperately to enjoy himself in this world. He does not seek a Guru who, like a raincloud, can extinguish this fire. Rather, he throws fuel on it by flocking to cities to seek pleasure on all fronts, and despite continual frustration he tries again and again to gratify his desires which are infinite and insatiable. Not only men, but all organisms seek pleasure. The pleasure principle is universal. It extends from microscopic beings in the lowest states of life to the great demigods in the heavenly planets.
This principle is not unnatural. Mundane pleasure is but a reflection of the infinite pleasure which exists in the spiritual worlds. Lord Krishna has been called the Reservoir of all pleasure-satchitananda-Knowledge-Being-Bliss-Absolute. The pleasure that the conditioned being is seeking is really there in Krishna in the spiritual life, but due to a poor fund of knowledge he seeks pleasure in other things. Lord Krishna is called Govinda, the Enlivener of senses, for He gives total pleasure to the total senses of all created beings. Once in contact with Him, the soul becomes satisfied. Otherwise it is always hankering after more and more pleasure. In the material worlds the highest pleasure is derived from sex, or, some may argue, from a psychedelic mental inebriation. But, in either case, sex or inebriation are temporary. The happiness derived from them cannot satisfy because they exist external to the human being and are therefore subject to being used up. Consequently one is always looking for more sex partners or more drugs. Real pleasure is not relative, is not dependent on exteriors, but is inherent constitutionally within the soul. Real pleasure is experienced by the soul when it is in contact with the Super Soul, Sri Krishna. That is an interior pleasure which is eternal. The soul is automatically in contact with Krishna when one chants Hare Krishna, for by dint of the omnipotency and omnipresence of the Divine, the word "Krishna" and Krishna Himself are non-different. So when one chants Hare Krishna, he has Krishna dancing on his tongue, and this is the supreme pleasure. This vibration is eternal, and the soul can partake of it apart from the body, for it is vibrated eternally in the spiritual spheres.
Therefore pleasure or happiness should always be derived from that which is favorable to the cultivation of spiritual knowledge, Krishna consciousness. And that which is painful is that which is unfavorable for the cultivation of such knowledge.
Birth and death here refer to the birth and death of the body, for the soul, being eternally situated, being unborn, is not subject to birth and death, though he may be entangled in them. Lord Krishna establishes this fact in the very beginning of Bhagavad Gita. "For the soul there is neither birth nor death. Nor having once been does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain." (Gita, 2.20)
The jiva soul, though unborn, struggles very hard in the tree of the material body. Under delusion he thinks himself that tree. And in order to enlighten him, his constant companion, the Super Soul, sings the Bhagavad Gita to him. In the Svetasvataro Upanishad it is said that two birds are sitting in the same tree. One of the birds, the individual soul, eats the fruit of the tree, and the other bird, the Super Soul, simply witnesses. The bird who is eating the fruit is so intent on enjoying the tree that he has forgotten his loving relationship with the other bird. The whole purpose of Bhagavad Gita is to awaken the materially absorbed soul to that relationship. As long as he is interested in enjoying the fruits of the tree, he will be entangled in birth and death.
By revival of our relationship with the Super Soul, all desire for enjoying the fruits of the tree of material life is vanquished. Then we are able to enter into our eternal relationship with Krishna in the spiritual world which is the realm of eternality beyond time and pure existence beyond birth and death. The quickest and simplest method for reviving this relationship and attaining this state is the chanting of the Holy Name of Krishna.
Repeatedly in the Gita Lord Krishna says that He is the Super Soul, Paramatma, seated in the hearts of all. "One who sees the Super Soul accompanying the individual soul in all bodies, and understands that neither the soul nor the Super Soul is ever destroyed, actually sees." (Gita, 13.27) Factually knowing the identity of all living entities to be unified in Krishna, the person in Krishna consciousness does not commit violence against others. "He is a perfect yogi who, knowing that the Self dwells in all, sees the equality of all living entities, both in their happiness and distress, O Arjuna!" (Gita, 6.32) Non-violence does not simply extend to injuring another person physically. One who is non-violent does not put another into misery or confusion. The human body is meant for spiritual realization, and one who does not further this end or who impedes this end actually commits violence on the body. Of course in this age of Kali the whole world is fraught with violence. Violence arises out of anger, and anger arises when one's lust is frustrated. Therefore non-violence will automatically come when we control our senses and learn to tolerate the comings and goings of lust and desire.
Mahatma Gandhi tried to show that Bhagavad Gita is a treatise on non-violence in order to serve his own political ends, and to do this he had to force an allegorical interpretation on this Scripture. Somehow or other he had to answer for the fact that the Bhagavad Gita was spoken on the battlefield and that Krishna specifically told Arjuna to kill Drona, Bhisma and every other enemy he could get his hands on. In his attempt, Gandhi stated that the Battlefield of Kurukshetra is only a symbol for the human body where the spiritual war between good and evil is waged and that Krishna simply represents the Divine voice in man and Arjuna the mortal voice. The triumph of the Gita then is that the Divine voice wins out. Somehow or other Gandhi ignored the fact that Kurukshetra was a real battlefield and that it is presently existing in India under the same name. Also, in relegating the Bhagavad Gita to mere symbolism he relegates the entire Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavatam as well, for if Krishna is only a character in a fable, then these literatures are no more important than fairy tales. In order for Bhagavad Gita to make sense we must understand that it was not spoken by an ordinary man and that Krishna is not just another ordinary character in fiction. We must come to the understanding that the Speaker of the Gita is the omnipresent eternal Reality who is the very Light of the light by which we presently read His Divine instructions.
Now, should one conclude that just because Krishna told Arjuna to go out and fight that we have license to kill at our whim or at the whims of unscrupulous politicians? Arjuna was a kshatriya. The word kshatriya denotes one who protects others from harm. This is the duty of the kshatriya. It is not that he attacks innocent men and women; rather, he fights for a higher cause against other kshatriyas who are capable of defending themselves. Nor is it that he stays in the back lines and sends his men out to be killed. In the Dwapara yuga, when Arjuna was a kshatriya, the head of the state would fight in the very front line, and at his death the war would cease. Who could imagine today's presidents, premiers and prime ministers personally engaged in battle? Besides, Lord Krishna is very specific that Arjuna should fight, not for his own sense gratification, but for the sake of the Supreme. "Considering your specific duty as a kshatriya you should know that there is no better engagement for you than fighting on religious principles; so there is no need for hesitation. O Partha, happy are the kshatriyas to whom such fighting opportunities come unsought, opening for them the doors of the heavenly planets. If, however, you do not fight this religious war, then you will certainly incur sin for neglecting your duties and thus lose your reputation as a fighter." (Gita, 2.31-33) Therefore Arjuna should fight because Krishna desires the battle. For one in Krishna consciousness there is no consideration for personal happiness, profit or gain, victory or defeat. Everything is performed for Krishna as a matter of devotional service.
Today there are no kshatriyas, no specific class of fighters. Men are simply drafted out of society from all walks of life and inducted en masse into the armed forces where they are trained to spray napalm on innocent civilians, including children, and even on defenseless soldiers, and to drop atomic bombs to annihilate the population of entire cities. This is not in the kshatriya spirit. Perhaps the only kshatriyas in the West were the knights of the Crusades, for they at least fought in hand to hand combat against other soldiers for religious principles. Certainly the large global wars of this century are demonically inspired and demonically waged.
One who is in Krishna consciousness is certainly non-violent. He knows that he does not have the right to kill even an ant, for he knows that the Super Soul is dwelling in all living entities. He will fight in battle only if he is a kshatriya and only if Krishna or the Spiritual Master tells him to. Nor is it that one imagines Krishna to give instructions according to one's own desires. It is standard practice to claim that God is "on our side" and that we are fighting for God, when in actuality we are only fighting for our own stomachs or a vague concept. No. The best course in the age of Kali is renunciation of violence because no war is being waged on religious principles. Therefore Lord Chaitanya, Lord Jesus Christ and Lord Buddha, all Kali yuga avatars, advocate non-violence as the best course in this age.
Non-violence does not mean that I will sit idly by and let someone kill me. Why should I permit another person to commit violence against a body that is in Krishna's service? If I am devoting my life to spreading Krishna's message, then I should defend it. Self-defense is not considered violence, and according to the Vedas one is allowed to kill the following aggressors: one who attacks suddenly with a deadly weapon, a house-burner, a poison giver, a plunderer or an agricultural usurper and an enticer of one's wife.
Non-violence, then, does not mean that we become as passive as stones, nor that we wage war for some vaporous cause such as "freedom now" or "down with the Commumst or fascist pigs," nor for any other political or ideological concept or slogan. Non-violence means that we benefit others by spreading the message of Krishna consciousness and that we protect ourselves and others from senseless violence.
Equanimity refers to freedom from the dualities of attachment and aversion and thus transcendence of the three material modes. This implies an inherent evenness of temper and a disposition which is not disturbed even in the most trying circumstances. In order to attain this, one must be a master of self-control by having his senses engaged in devotional service. Once one engages in devotional service he automatically acquires all these good qualities, such as forgiveness, truthfulness, self-control, calmness, fearlessness, non-violence, equanimity, charity, austerity, satisfaction and the rest. The characteristics of the man who has transcended the modes of nature by devotional service are outlined in detail in the latter part of Chapter Fourteen of the Gita: Such a man is established in equanimity. "The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: He who neither hates nor desires the development of the three qualities of illumination, attachment, and delusion, who is transcendentally situated, remaining neutral through all the reactions of the qualities, thinking that they may work, but that he is transcendental; he who looks equally upon happiness and distress, upon a pebble, a stone, or a piece of gold, who is equal toward the desirable and the undesirable, steady and well-situated in defamation or in adoration: he is said to be transcendentally situated, when he treats equally both honor and dishonor, both friend and enemy, and is not engaged in material activities. That is the position of transcendence over the three modes of Nature." (Gita, 14.22-25)
When one is satisfied, all his needs, expectations, wishes or desires are fulfilled. The English word satisfaction comes from the Latin words satis and facere which mean "to make enough." When one is hungry and enough food is made, he will be satisfied because all his demands will be answered.
Today in modern America the theme song of the general populace, and especially of the youth, is "I can't get no satisfaction." This is because human desires when unchecked are insatiable. When one desire is fulfilled it goes away for a moment but returns shortly afterwards with ten friends. It is especially impossible to satisfy the youth who are demanding a greater variety of sense objects to gratify their desires. We all know of the alcoholic who is no more satisfied with twenty drinks than with one drink, or the LSD user who always needs a few micrograms more to obtain the bliss of paranirvana. American society affords a million daily examples of frustration in a frenetic search for satisfaction. The real hunger is internal, and man is trying to satisfy it by externals. There is no satisfaction outside the satisfaction of the soul in its blissful relationship with the Super Soul Sri Krishna.
One who is in Krishna consciousness is always satisfied with whatever is obtained by the grace of the Supreme Lord. If Krishna sends a palace with unlimited opulence, it can be used in Krishna's service; and if Krishna sends nothing but a tree, the devotee is satisfied to simply lie on the ground beneath it. Because he is in a transcendental relationship with Krishna and is receiving pleasure from the reservoir of pleasure, his material needs are cut to a minimum. He is therefore satisfied with whatever is available. His real satisfaction comes from simply sitting on the planet earth and having the Names of his beloved Lord roll off his tongue
In the English language, the word "austerity" has negative connotations. It comes from the Greek word austeros meaning "dry or harsh." One who is austere is expected to be stern, rigorous or harsh and severe. His bearing is expected to be grave and sober, and his morals are expected to be very strict. In fact, in the west the ideas associated with the word austerity are so negative that when we hear of an austere person, we automatically wish to avoid him But this is not what is meant by austerity here. Krishna consciousness is not dry or harsh, but one's activities are regulated.
First, it is important to understand what Lord Krishna does not mean by austerity. In the Middle Ages, among Christians, self-laceration and flagellation were fashionable methods to purge oneself of sins. But in the Gita Lord Krishna condemns such bodily violence. "There are those who undergo severe penances and austerities not mentioned in the scriptural injunctions; this they do out of pride, egoism, lust and attachment They do such things impelled by passion. Those who torture the material elements of this body and the Super Soul within it are to be known as demons." (Gita, 17.5-6)
Austerity refers to the observation of specific rules and regulations, such as rising early, taking baths, attending ceremonies of worship and so on. It may be that these regulations are troublesome because someone is addicted to sleep or dislikes bathing in cold water, but one should nonetheless practice them. The trouble that is suffered is called penance or austerity. In the Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna sets forth a general program for the regulated life. "There is no possibility of one's becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much, or eats too little, sleeps too much or does not sleep enough. He who is regulated in his habits of eating, sleeping, working, and recreation can mitigate all material pains by practicing the yoga system." (Gita, 6.16-17) One can easily recognize these injunctions as the principles underlying the Greeks' metronariston, philosophy of the Golden Mean, the happy medium which is the safe and prudent way between extremes, and the Eightfold Path (right understanding, right aspiration, right speech, right conduct, right vocation, right effort, right alertness and right concentration) of Buddhism. In fact, Lord Buddha Himself underwent severe austerities almost to the point of starvation and finally proclaimed such self-punishment to be contrary to the Dharma.
In the Seventeenth Chapter of the Gita Lord Krishna says that austerity is basically threefold-austerity of the body, austerity of the tongue, and austerity of the mind. "The austerity of the body consists in this: worship of God, the demigods, the twice-born, the Spiritual Master, and of wise and experienced teachers; and the practice of cleanliness, celibacy and non-violence." (Gita, 17.14) The Spiritual Master directs the student by example and by specific instructions in the austerity of the body. The body is not created by Krishna to be tortured but to render service unto Him. Therefore the first duty of the body is to worship the Supreme with the total senses like Maharaj Amburish.
"Austerity of speech consists of speaking truthfully and beneficially and avoiding speech that offends. One should also recite the Vedas regularly." (Gita, 17.15) One should not say things that would cause mental agitation to others, nor should one engage in frivolous, nonsensical speech. In speaking of spiritual matters, one should refer to the scriptures to establish the truth, and one's speech should be palatable without being compromising so that others can derive the greatest benefit. Fault finding and upbraiding others only lead to emnity.
"And serenity, gentleness, silence, self-control and purity of thought are the austerities of the mind." (Gita, 17.16) Detaching the mind from the objects of the senses is austerity for the mind. When the mind is removed from the service of the senses by engagement of devotional service, it becomes serene.
This threefold austerity practiced by men whose aim is not to benefit themselves materially but to please the Supreme is of the nature of goodness." (Gita. 17.17) The whole purpose of austerity is outlined here. In Krishna consciousness everything is done for the pleasure of Krishna. By watering the root of the tree the branches are automatically served. Often people perform penances and austerities to attract the attention of others and to receive honor and veneration as great saints and sages. Such persons who are in the modes of passion allow subordinates to worship them and offer them riches. And although this may endure for a while, Lord Krishna says that the results are not permanent. "Those ostentatious penances and austerities which are performed in order to gain respect, honor, and reverence are said to be in the mode of passion. They are neither stable nor permanent." (Gita, 17.18) We also have the example in the Srimad Bhagavatam of the great demon Hiranya Kashipu who performed very severe austerities to make himself immortal. Because he underwent great penances to achieve the impossible, namely eternality of the material body, he was finally killed by Lord Krishna in the form of Nrishingha. Lord Krishna proclaims such austerities to be in the modes of ignorance. "And those penances and austerities which are performed foolishly by means of obstinate self-torture or to destroy or injure others are said to be in the mode of ignorance." (Gita, 17.19)
Austerity, then, is not simply a matter of being harsh and dry or of torturing oneself. Austerity should be performed according to rules and regulations under the guidance of a Spiritual Master for the sake of the Supreme.
One can perform charity, like austerity, in one of the three modes of material nature. Lord Krishna says, "There are also three kinds of charities. That gift which is given out of duty at the proper time and place and to a worthy person and without expectation of return is considered to be charity in the mode of goodness." (Gita, 17.20) The Vedas do not recommend that one give charity indiscriminately. It is best given to those who are engaged in spiritual activities. Charity is regarded as a means of spiritual perfection, and it is suggested that one give charity at holy places during specific times, such as during eclipses or at the end of the month. It is also recommenced that one have no consideration for recompense. In America there are so many charitable institutions for the poor, and compassion often dictates that we give to them, but most often we see that the poor engage in objectionable activities such as drinking, meat-eating, gambling and sexual promiscuity. Obviously charity will simply encourage them to continue their debasing habits. Therefore the best policy according to the Vedas is to give charity to one engaged in Krishna conscious activities, specifically to one who is spreading the message of Bhagavad Gita.
Charity in the inferior modes is to be altogether avoided. "But charity performed with the expectation for some return or with a desire for fruitive results or in a grudging mood is said to be in the mode of passion." (Gita, 17.21) When people give charity in order to elevate themselves to higher planets they are expecting some return. This is discouraged. Some people give grudgingly out of a sense of obligation, and their gift is in the mode of passion because it is motivated by social convention. "And charity performed at an improper place and time and given to unworthy persons without respect and with contempt is charity in the mode of ignorance." (Gita, 17.22) When one walks down the Boweries of America one sees innumerable drunken derelicts and mendicants who are begging for money. According to the Vedas, charity that is given in places where people indulge in intoxication, illicit sex or gambling is considered to be in the modes of darkness. This charity does not benefit anyone, and to give to such persons is to simply commit violence against them, for the gift only encourages their harmful activities. Actually, all mundane charities are harmful because the gifts are given to benefit the gross material body. The real gift, the matchless gift, is the message of Bhagavad Gita. Since the living entity is not the material body but the spirit soul, charity to the body is not directed to the individual, but to his corpse. Real charity is awakening someone to the awareness that he is the servant of the Supreme Lord and that his happiness lies in re-establishing his transcendental relationship with the Lord.
Fame And Infamy
Practically every teenager in America wants to be a famous rock and roll star. It is natural to want to be well-liked or well-known. Actually one of the opulences of Krishna is total fame. Being the totality of everything, complete fame goes to Him alone. Because we are minute reflections of Krishna, that tendency to enjoy the opulence of fame is in us minutely. However, fame is incidental to Krishna, whereas the living entity is always hankering for it.
In the Chaitanya Charitamrita Lord Chaitanya tells Ramananda Roy that the greatest fame to be had in the world is the fame of being known as a devotee of Krishna's. Being known as anything else is infamy. This should be our standard for judging real fame in the world. Worldly fame, like every other worldly opulence, is temporary. Who were the most famous popular singers of the last century? Who were the greatest actors during Shakespeare's day? During Caesar's day? Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage-what are they? Mere dream bubbles. And if empires pass into oblivion, what to speak of personal fame?
All of these qualities and attributes are found throughout the universe in both human and demigod society. If the self of man is to be his friend instead of his enemy, then he will develop the positive qualities and attributes. One who engages in devotional service to Lord Krishna automatically develops the positive attributes. The purport of this verse, however, is that "All these were created by Me alone." Krishna is the origin of all qualities and all attributes, be they good or bad from the material point of view. What is seen in the material universe is but a minute reflection of what exists in Him in full. In order to become godly, man must develop those attributes which detach him from the world consciousness and establish him in the love for the Divine. This is the real objective of human life.
—by Satsvarupa Das Adhikary
There is a story in the Vedic scriptures of a time when the great sage Narada went to visit the Supreme Lord Narayan (Krishna) in the Spiritual Kingdom of Vaikuntha. Narada was travelling on the earth at the time for the purpose of spreading the Hare Krishna Mantra, and before leaving, he met a brahmin on the road. The brahmin learned that Narada was going to see Lord Narayan, so he requested that Narada find out his spiritual status: how long, how many more births would he have to undergo before he would be liberated from material existence? Narada agreed to inquire about the brahmin's position. Further on he was hailed by a cobbler who was tending his craft while sitting under a large tree by the roadside. The cobbler paid his respects to Narada and asked the great sage to please find out how many births more he would have to spend in the miseries of repeated birth and death before he would attain final liberation. In the Vaikuntha planet, in the Presence of the Supreme Lord, Narada reported his missionary activities to Narayan and received all the necessary information for carrying on his loving devotional service. He then inquired about the two conditioned souls he had met on the earth planet. When the Lord was asked about the brahmin He said, "Oh he will have to spend many, many more lifetimes before his liberation." Narada noted the reply, and then asked about the cobbler. On hearing mention of that cobbler, the Lord smiled, "Please tell him that he will be liberated in this very lifetime!" Then Narayan added, "And when you tell them, if they ask what I was doing, please tell them I was threading an elephant through the eye of a needle."
When Narada approached the brahmin on the earth planet the brahmin enquired what the Lord had said. Narada told him, and the brahmin became morosely silent. This brahmin was a rigid practitioner of the scriptural regulations; he took three baths a day and never failed to perform the proper rituals, so he was surprised to hear that he had a long way before being liberated. He then asked what the Lord was doing. When Narada told him that Lord Narayan was threading an elephant through the eye of a needle, the brahmin became outraged with disbelief: "What? Go away! You haven't been to see Narayan. This is just some nonsense you are concocting!" And the brahmin turned away from Narada. Narada next approached the cobbler. On seeing Narada Muni, the man jumped up from his place under the tree and ran to the devotee-sage:"You have just seen the Lord. So tell me when I am to be liberated." Narada was pleased to tell the cobbler that he would be liberated in this very lifetime. The cobbler turned ecstatic and began jumping for joy. Very soon he would be with the Lord! He then asked Narada what Lord Narayan was doing. Narada replied, "The Lord was threading an elephant through the eye of a needle." The cobbler became still more ecstatic. "Ah, how great my Lord is!" he exclaimed. Narada asked him further, "How is it you have such faith that you can believe the Lord was doing such an impossible thing?" The cobbler answered unflinchingly, "Impossible? Just see this large, spacious tree we are sitting under. Do you know that such a big spreading tree came out of a seed no bigger than a pin? So if the Lord can put such a big tree into a tiny seed, why can't He thread one elephant through a needle's eye?"
The purport is clear. The cobbler had more than a blind faith in God. He had understanding that God means Param Brahman, the Greatest, and the Greatest means that He can do anything. So many impersonalists will admit that God means the unlimited, the infinite, but as soon as they hear that the Lord descends as Avatara and acts in a way indicative of His unlimited potency, they take it differently. They say it is a myth or allegory, or they criticize. The mental speculator tries to put God within the restrictions of the understanding of the tiny human brain. This is his error. Rather, the Vedic process for understanding the Absolute Truth is to receive it as it is. The Personality of Godhead, the Absolute Truth, is inconceivable, therefore we cannot measure Him. But we can hear from authorized sources of His Activities. Everyone should be interested in this transcendental hearing, because everyone is intimately connected as part of the One Supreme Lord. By listening, our heart can become cleansed and we can have revealed to us the practical, loving intent of the Lord in His multi-incarnations. If we can understand His Pastimes, all our problems will be solved. By understanding Krishna's Appearance in the world, we reach the perfection of life by leaving this temporary world of ignorance and misery and going back to Home, back to Godhead. That is the version of the Bhagavad Gita.
It is in this spirit that the great sages and transcendental scholars of the Vedic literature request we listen to the Activities of the incarnation of the Lord as Boar, or the Baraha Avatara.
II: The Holy Boar Rescues Planet Earth
At a time far remote from present history, in the Swetabaraha millennium, just at the dawn of the creation of the material world, Lord Brahma was approached by the presiding Manu. The Manu asked Brahma to do something about the earth planet, which had fallen to the bottom of the Garbhodak ocean which fills half of the universe. Lord Brahma, being the chief administrator of the affairs of the material universe, is the direct representative of Krishna. Brahma was presented by the Manu with this calamity: earth had fallen to a filthy place and had to be rescued. Lord Brahma gave it his full attention and meditated as follows: "While I was engaged in the matter of creation, the earth was inundated by deluge and went down into the depths of the ocean. What can we, who are engaged in this creation, do? Better let the Almighty Lord direct us." The chief entity, Brahma, was perplexed, but not discouraged. With full faith in Krishna, his thinking suddenly bore the solution of his duty, by the Grace of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is all narrated in the spotless Vedic literature, the Srimad Bhagavatam, Third Canto: "All of a sudden, while Brahma was engaged in thinking, a small form of a Boar came out of his nostril, and the measurement of the creature was not more than the upper portion of the thumb. While Brahma was observing Him, the Boar-like form became situated in the sky in a wonderful manifestation, grown suddenly into a gigantic form like a great elephant. Brahma, along with great brahmins like Marichi, began to argue as to what it was. Brahma exclaimed: "Is this some extraordinary entity come in the pretense of a boar? It is very wonderful." As he was the supermost person in the universe, Lord Brahma could guess that the wonderful Appearance of the Boar was an Avatar of Vishnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Such a form was never before experienced. The symptoms of the incarnation of Godhead are so uncommon that even Brahma became perturbed. While these sages and demigods were deliberating, the Lord as Boar resounded a tremendous sound which echoed in all directions.
It is said that the sound of the Voice of Baraha was gorgeous to the devotees of the upper planets, but to the demoniac, who also heard it, it was the most dangerous sound-the sound of doom to their rebellion. Lord Vishnu is declared by all the Vedic literature as transcendental. The Lord as Boar is also the Supreme Lord, or the Vedas incarnate. Those elevated, pious intellectual beings on upper material planets (such as Siddha Loka and Brahma Loka) replied to the Lord's Voice by praying to Him with Vedic hymns. The earth planet was submerged in the mire on the bottom of the ocean, but on hearing the sound of the Lord as Baraha, the devotees knew that He was present for the earth's deliverance. They understood that Vishnu was appearing as a Boar because a boar can get something out of a filthy place. The Bhagavatam describes the Voice of the Boar and the chanting of the devotees as enacted on a cosmic scale. They reciprocated vibrations of love back and forth through the regions of all outer space. And it is stated that of all the Vedic hymns vibrated in that concert between the Supreme and His loving servants, the most important was the Brihanaradiya Purana verse, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
Srimad Bhagavatam relates: "He resounded again in reply to the Vedic prayers by the great devotees. The Lord is the Object of the Vedic prayers, and thus He understood that the devotees' prayers were meant for Him." As the mantras were being properly recited, the Lord was pleased. Before entering the water to rescue the earthly planet, the Lord Boar flew down from the sky, slashing with His Tail and quivering His hard Hairs. His very Glance was luminous, and He swatted the clouds in the sky with His Hoofs and His glittering white Tusks. Although the body of a boar is material and contaminated, that is not the case with the Boar Form of the Lord. Nor is it possible, of course, for an earthly boar to assume a gigantic form and perform so many wondrous activities. Baraha is the One Lord Who is without a second Who comes for Pastime functions. As stated in the Fourth Chapter of Bhagavad Gita, the Lord is One, and yet He is appearing in multi-incarnations The example is given that He is like the Vaidurya stone which changes colors but is one. These things are understood by submissive hearing and inquiry and by devotional service to the One Lord. Bhagavad Gita clearly states that whoever understands how the Lord appears and disappears on the material scene is at once liberated. This is the proper application of the Sanskrit expression, "Tatvamasi," "You are that too." In his purports to the Gita, Swami A.C. Bhaktivedanta writes: "Anyone who understands Lord Krishna to be the Supreme or who says unto the Lord, 'You are the same Supreme Brahman, the Personality of Godhead,' is certainly liberated instantly, and consequently his entrance into the transcendental association of the Lord is guaranteed." When we speak of Krishna, it is to be understood that Krishna includes all the Avataras. Baraha is mentioned in the list of incarnations in the Srimad Bhagavatam: "The Supreme Enjoyer of all sacrifices accepted the Boar Incarnation for the welfare of the earth. He lifted it from the nether regions of the universe." (S.B., 1.3.7)
In any of His eternal Forms, Krishna is God. This is to be understood. When He is playing as Child Krishna on the lap of His mother, Yasoda, He is God; when He appears as the half-lion half-man Form of Nrishinghadeva He is God; and as Baraha, in the Form of a Boar, He is the same transcendental Supreme Lord. Just as wood is wood, fire is fire, so by the law of designation God is God. He is always God in any Form He takes; and these Forms are all described in the authoritative Vedic scriptures. The materialistic mentality not only thinks that the form of a boar cannot be spiritual or transcendental, but he thinks that the human form is always material. According to the Bhagavad Gita, this inability to accept Krishna as He presents Himself, or is presented by a pure representative, is a disease. A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami cites this in his purport to the 10th verse of the Fourth Chapter of Bhagavad Gita: "It is very difficult for a person who is too materially affected to understand the Personal nature of the Supreme Absolute Truth. Generally, people who are attached to the bodily concept of life are so absorbed in materialism that it is almost impossible for them to understand how the Supreme can be a Person. Such materialists cannot imagine that there is a transcendental Body which is non-perishable, full of knowledge and eternally blissful. In the materialistic concept, the body is perishable, full of ignorance and completely miserable. Therefore people in general keep this same bodily idea in mind when they are informed of the Personal Form of the Lord For such materialists, the Form of the gigantic material manifestation is supreme; therefore they imagine that the Supreme is impersonal." Since we are now hearing or reading of Lord Baraha, let us spend the time for the highest benefit and thus take shelter of Srila Vyasadeva, the author of the Vedic Shastra; in this way we can best receive the Activities of the incarnation of Boar, as they are told.
"Lord Boar penetrated the water with His Hoof, which was sharp like arrows, and found out the limitation of the ocean, although it was unlimited. He saw the earth lying as it was in the beginning of creation, as the resting place for all living beings, and He Personally lifted it."
Thereupon Lord Boar killed the demon within the water, just as a lion kills an elephant.
According to the Vedic philosopher devotee, Jiva Goswami, the topics told of Baraha in the Third Canto of Bhagavatam are of different millenniums. The topics of Baraha's rescue of the earth from the mire is of the Swetabaraha millennium, and the topics of His killing the demon Hiranakya are of the later Caksus millennium in His second Appearance as Boar. In one incarnation His bodily hue is described as whitish, and in the other it is reddish. In either case, just by His glancing over His devotees, all of them felt transcendental happiness. The Body of the Lord is always transcendental in all cases. His assumption of the Form of Boar is only His Pastime. Just as when Krishna played the part of a human being, He was the perfect human being, so He assumed the Form of a Boar and found the earth by smelling, like a perfect boar, and he rescued it by lifting it up on His tusks. Yet His Body is the Vedas Personified.
III: The Fight With Hiranakya
As the Boar was coming out of the water, He was attacked by the powerful demon, Hiranakya, who had been travelling through all the three worlds and planetary systems, conquering whomever he met, out of bellicose madness. Hiranakya was the twin-brother of the demon Hiranya Kashipu. The pair were born into this world specifically to take up the role of personal combatants or enemies of the Supreme Lord in His respective incarnations of Lord Baraha and Lord Nrishingha, the half-lion half-man Avatara of the Satya Yuga. As the Reservoir of all desires, the Lord also has a fighting spirit, from which comes all fighting spirit as found in the material world. For instance, the natural fighting spirit sometimes displayed by young boys wrestling is but a perverted reflection of this original desire of the Lord. The fighting of the Supreme Lord, however, doesn t result in the destruction of the enemy, but works for his liberation. Sometimes people are suspicious because Lord Krishna taught His transcendental philosophy on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. But, as stated by the devotee Bhismadeva, all those who took part in the Battle of Kurukshetra and were killed while seeing the Form of the Personality of Godhead, Krishna, gained their eternal liberation. Even being kicked by Krishna is eternally auspicious.
When the demon brothers appeared, born from the womb of Diti, the very pores of the earth and the sky and the animals and plant kingdoms virtually cried out with omens of evil portent.
When the Supreme Lord fights, He does not fight with an ordinary mortal or nondevotee. Rather, He exchanges this rasa only with His devotees. By the Grace of the complete revelation of Vyasdeva, the compiler of the Bhagavatam, we are able to understand that Lord Baraha picked His own servant, a doorman of the palace in the spiritual planet, Vaikuntha, and this servant descended in the form of Hiranakya and took on the demoniac life for the purpose of battling with the Lord in hand to hand combat.
Hiranakya was broad and strong, golden-haired and covered with ornaments. He is described as being so tall and big that he blocked the view of the sky. And his prowess was not that of an ordinary man because in fighting he appeared almost on an equal level with the Lord. But his mentality was all demoniac: he travelled for the purpose of fighting with all peace-loving creatures. Wherever he could find anyone with a fighting reputation he would challenge him to fight. He thus made the demigod Indra flee before him, and he challenged Varuna the god of the water. Varuna advised Hiranakya that if he were really so desirous of battle he ought to fight with Lord Vishnu, and he told the demon that at the present moment the Lord had taken the Form of a Boar, and he told him where he could go to meet Him.
The demon came upon the all-powerful Personality of Godhead in His incarnation as Boar, as the Lord was bearing the earth upwards on the end of His tusk. The Bhagavatam says that "the reddish Eyes and Hoofs of the amphibious beast robbed the demon of his splendor."
"Your power is only mystic!" the infatuated demon roared to the Supreme Lord. "Today I shall enliven my kinsmen by killing you, oh fool." This is the demoniac mentality. The Lord is invisible to the eyes of the common man, but His energies are everywhere, acting in various ways. The demons think that God is actually hiding Himself and working by mystic power, and if he can find Him out then he can kill Him. The demoniac are anxiously trying to kill God by words and "philosophy." The idea underlying this is that if one is materially powerful enough, he can kill God by weapons. Actually, the demoniac cannot understand at all how God is working. They can neither kill Him nor touch Him. He can be present everywhere and still remain at His eternal Abode.
The demon continued hurling insults, but the Lord Boar patiently bore them while He carried the earth to safety on His tusks. "When You are smashed by my mace," the demon challenged, "then the sages and devotees who offer You devotional service will cease to exist." It is well-known by everyone that the demons do not like the fact that the devotees worship the Lord in the prescribed ways recommended in the scriptures.
The Lord Boar was pained by the abusive words of the demon, but He carefully placed the earth on the water of the universe and enabled it to float by its own power. Then He turned to the business of fighting the demon who was delivering furious insults. The Lord is no myth, but is actually present in multi-incarnations. As He is the Source of all sentiency and feeling, He has feeling Himself, and He is therefore never pleased by insults. According to Goswami A.C. Bhaktivedanta, "God is as sentient as we are, and He is satisfied by our prayer and dissatisfied with our harsh words against Him." In order to give protection to His devotee, He is always ready to tolerate all kinds of insults by the atheists. Therefore He patiently placed the earth in a safe place and prepared to dispatch the demon. The Lord said to Hiranakya: "We are creatures of the jungle, and we are searching after dogs like you. One who is freed from the entanglement of death does not fear the insults of the kind in which you are indulging because you are bound by the laws of death." Baraha knew that Hiranakya's position was a false one. The demon doesn't believe in God; he thinks that he can defy the material laws and be freed of birth and death. No one, however, has ever been able to achieve freedom from death, not by any advancement of science nor by mental speculation, Yogic power or sheer brawn, as possessed by Hiranakya. "Give up your nonsensical talking," Lord Baraha went on. "You are supposed to be the commander of many soldiers, so now you can take prompt steps to overthrow us." Hiranakya became so angry and agitated that he began to tremble "like a challenged cobra." The Lord had asked him to fulfill his loud promises to kill Him.
Hiranakya then sprang upon Baraha and dealt Him a blow with his powerful mace. The Lord dodged that blow by moving aside a little. The Personality of Godhead then exhibited His anger and rushed to meet the demon who was hissing and shaking with rage and holding his mace to deliver another blow. The Lord then struck at Hiranakya, but the expert demon protected himself with a maneuver of his mace. In this way, they began to strike at each other with their huge maces, each seeking his own victory.
Lord Brahma, accompanied by his followers and other demigods, came to see the terrible fight for the sake of the world. The Lord is described by the demigods as "Yajna," or "the Body full of worshipful offerings." As learned devotees, the demigods never consider the Lord to have the body of an ordinary boar. He can assume any Form, and He has all such Forms eternally. All forms actually emanate from the Original Form of Krishna, as declared in the Srimad Bhagavatam. So this Boar Form is always Vishnu, transcendental. Lord Brahma addressed Him thus: "This demon has proved to be a constant pinprick to demigods, brahmins, cows and innocent persons. He has attained a boon from me and has turned to be a demon and is always wandering over the earth looking for a fight. My dear Lord, there is no need of playing with this serpentine demon who is very skilled in cunning tricks and arrogant and most wicked. Kindly kill him. The dark evening is fast approaching." It is said that upon hearing the words of Brahma the creator, words which were free from all sinful purposes and were as sweet as nectar, the Lord heartily laughed and "accepted his prayer with a glance ladened with love." The prayer of Brahma was pure, whereas Hiranakya had prayed and performed austerities in order to derive power in the form of a boon from Brahma. It is said in the Bhagavad Gita that those who undergo severe penances and austerities not mentioned in the scriptures, out of pride, ego, lust and attachment, do such things impelled by passion.
The Lord then aimed His mace at the chin of His enemy who was stalking in front of Him. But He was instead struck by the demon's mace, and His mace slipped from His Hand. It is described that the demigods became alarmed at this. Hiranakya, however, respecting the law of combat, did not strike an unarmed foe. The Lord's anger was kindled by this, and He invoked His Sudarshan discus, which is the personal ultimate weapon used by the Personality of Godhead. As the discus revolved in His Hand, the demon sprang into the air, saying, "You are slain!" and threw His mace. The Lord knocked it down with His left Foot. The demon picked up his mace and aimed it again. The Lord stood firm and caught the flying mace and offered it back to the demon to try again. This humiliated the demon, and he took a trident and hurled it furiously. The Lord, however, tore it to pieces with His Sudarshan, which has a sharp-edged rim. Hiranakya then struck the Lord with his hard fists on His Chest. The Bhagavatam says that this was felt by the Lord as an elephant feels the striking of a wreath of flowers. In other words, the Lord desired the fighting in order to enjoy transcendental bliss. The demon then began to conjure tricks on a full scale, as was in his power. The skies were filled with winds and stones were discharged from caves. Puss, hair and blood rained from the skies. At this, Lord Baraha at last discharged His Sudarshan. At the moment the weapon left His Hand, a shudder ran through the heart of Diti, mother of Hiranakya, and her breast ran with blood. When the demon saw that his whole magic show was dispersed by the Presence of the Personality of Godhead, he tried to embrace Him with his arms in order to crush Him. But to his amazement he found that the Lord had again eluded him. Finally, the Lord slapped him at the base of the ear, and though struck indifferently, Hiranakya's eyeballs bulged out of their sockets, his body wheeled, and he fell down like a gigantic tree uprooted by the wind, his arms, limbs and head broken and scattered.
It is described that when the demigods approached the battle area, they saw the so-called corpse of the demon Hiranakya was still rosey-hued, as if full of life. Then it was noticed that the demon's body was still touching Lord Baraha's Body, and therefore the Soul of souls was giving him life. Lord Brahma remarked, "Oh what blessed death is here!" The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Who grants liberation in any incarnation, is so inconceivably great that His kick brings the greatest benefit to the "victim." Because He is inconceivably great, we are warned against thinking that we understand what it is to be a devotee of the Lord, or how it feels to be a friend of Krishna, or to act as His parent when He is partaking of His Childhood Pastimes. And certainly, no one should pretend to grasp the understanding of what it is to exchange loving affairs with the Lord. Most persons actually have no concept of God, or at most they may have heard that "God is great." Yet the mystery of the Pastimes of the Chief of all persons is open to everyone who will hear His Pastimes as presented in the Srimad Bhagavatam and related intact by His pure representatives.
The Materialistic Demeanor Revisited
—by Goursundar Das Adhikary (ISKCON—Hawaii)
Our eighth year of "primary education" passed in an American Dependent School in Okinawa. During that eventful year we heard that we would have to decide for ourselves what had caused our existence, that the average man used less than one fourth the potential of his brain, and that God was never to be discussed in school.
Our studies of physical science had culminated in the visualization of the fleshy structure of the human brain. Electrical impulses flashing on the circuitry inside a man's head are supposed to be responsible for all thinking, feeling, and willing. Life, memory, and the living zone are strange. The head is filled up with thoughts. The mind projects itself outside the body. We wondered, "What would we be thinking if we were using all the power of the brain?"
We had encountered sectarian religionists whose shallowness had turned us toward the camps of the atheists. We passed amidst the "humanists" and received many promises which were never to be fulfilled. Burning in despair we went past childhood's end. The prospects for enjoyment which had been pointed out to us by our teachers proved inadequate. After exhausting many the sauri of philosophy, we realized we had been deceived all along, from the earliest beginning. We felt doomed, not for not knowing answers, but for not even being able to frame proper questions.
We had secretly designated ourselves as atheists. But as our intelligence matured, we saw through the hypocrisy of our so-called religious friends. We saw them as atheists to a man. It was then that we began to seriously study: What is religion? How are all things related? Who is God?
We had glimpsed the desolation in store for the materialists. We knew the agony of the "Underground Man" and the pretenses of the "Absurd Man." We had followed the avant-garde of pop culture in "new" explorations. All of these things sickened us.
We had long felt as if we were being watched. We were fortunate. Everything was fully explained by our spiritual master and we began to realize the unique situation of Absolute Knowledge. We had to surrender ourselves in his service.
Humanism is the atheist's disease. The people of the world are atheists. It is for this reason that they have been transferred here. People hypocritically express pity at the plight of "Fellow Man." They feel noble when they stoop to sympathize with another person's sufferings. They hear gravely how a soldier has been run over by a tank, how his mother suffers, and how nothing can console her. But when it is brought to their attention that daily they have been feeding on the carcasses of slaughtered innocent animals, they become angry. So their brand of compassion is very limited in scope. Personal gratification comes first. In fact, the motive for humanistic efforts is the enhancement of sensual pleasures in a particular sphere or select group of living entities.
Collectively they blame God when their pleasure turns to pain. They want to live in this hostile world hoarding all the treasures which can captivate their senses, and somehow escaping all distress. They intend to massacre an unlimited number of animals in order to taste the bloody bodies.
The humanists are ever ready to calumniate, assault, and assassinate the humble servants of God, but they maintain many sectarian views meant to righteously dress up their selfish desires.
"Waikiki at three o'clock in the morning is real. Bhagavad Gita is not."
"The Gita is old and cannot cope with the new."
But what is new? Is life or death new? Is pleasure-pain or hot-cold new? Is the Sun or the Moon new? Is the earth new? Is eating, sleeping, mating, and fighting new?
The Darwinian theory of evolution has reassured everyone: Man is the Pinnacle of evolution. And when he becomes bored with himself, he can escape into intoxication.
Our materialistic friends have the conviction that religion is one of man's inventions. Somehow they have taken man as all in all. They see religion in terms of apotheosis, anthropomorphism, zoomorphism, theanthropism, therianthropism, etc.
The pseudo-Christians, pseudo-Buddhists, etc. do not protest the slanders of the modern "enlightened" thinkers, being eager to feed on the scraps from their dissecting tables, cherishing as they do aspirations for the utmost enjoyment of the senses.
The devotee of God admonishes them: this world is not your real home, neither is it lovable-if you are not a fool, do not try to remain here, decrying God for making your life miserable. Do not waste time artificially discriminating material goodness and badness. "What is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God."-New Testament, Luke 16/15.
This life is bound to be predominated by pain. The world is a vacuum without the sight of God. The people are all after phantasmagoria, clashing with one another in their struggles to possess shadowy things which will soon cease to exist.
This fool's paradise is not cherished by liberated souls. Beyond the material creation is another existence known as anti-material nature. "There is another, eternal Nature, which is transcendental to the manifested and non-manifested matter. It is supreme and is never annihilated. When all this world is annihilated, that part remains as it is."-Bhagavad Gita, 8.20. God's playgrounds are there in the spiritual kingdom.
People are puffed up with material knowledge. They wish to show off their experience of the world. They always waste time discussing transitory things. But they do not find the Bhagavad Gita interesting. "There is no need for Eastern religion." People do not understand spiritual science, but they remain complacent. Krishna and His devotees canvass and teach. But people crave mammon. "Krishna's Presence mocks the world of man."-The Bhagavat Purana, 10/70/40.
"Does man have free will?" we have been asked. Does a crazy man have free will? No. Everyone has his will, but under material bondage it is never free. "The place of action, the doer, the senses, the endeavor, and ultimately the Supersoul: these are the five factors of action."-Bhagavad Gita, 18.14
A man is the servant of his senses led by the mind. All these are conditional. "The bewildered individual soul, under the influence of the three modes of Nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by Nature." Bhagavad Gita, 3.27. Is a man free to serve his senses? No He is obstructed by Nature at every turn.
Man has the potential to exercise his free will in spiritual existence. But he has thrown it away and come to be the dog of Maya. Man still has the option of surrendering to God and manifesting his freedom in harmony with the absolutely free Personality of Godhead.
"If one has no free will, can he be blamed for his misdeeds?" Yes. All misbehavior is the result of aversion to God's Will and is bound to be chastised. The demoniac people, those in revolt against God, have chosen to do evil. Their lives follow the standard aberrations of the conditioned soul.
All the wrongs which a man commits are his sole responsibility, and he need not further degrade himself by the cowardly business of trying to shift the blame. Man has the opportunity to have liberation. The other living entities in the material world who are wearing different dress, viz. bodies of aquatics, plants, animals, etc., will have to wait until they attain human forms. The eternal soul is only temporarily covered by material bodies. The majority of the inconceivably great number of individual souls are fixed in the transcendental realm. The miscreants are serving time in matter.
By taking the initiative to oppose God, the conditioned soul has plunged himself into the world of ignorance, hiding his vision from the sight of God. By the continuing sequence of actions and reactions technically known as karma he is being buffeted by Nature's laws. He can be released in the end by sincere devotion to God through His Grace. "Give up all other duties and surrender unto Me [Krishna]. Do not fear, I shall protect you from all sinful reactions."-Bhagavad Gita, 18.66.
"Does God enjoy punishing miscreants?" No. Miscreants are malicious, and for everyone's good their wrong impressions have to be regulated. "How can God allow the gruesome things of this world to exist?" All worldly problems are posed by transient phenomena distinct from the real self of the living entity. The soul can never be maimed or killed. But the false possessions (including bodies) to which he has become attached are bound to disintegrate. The material world is satisfying the whims of its residents and blocking the real manifestation of happiness, i.e., the Vaikuntha, the spiritual abode where there is no misery. Krishna always offers us happiness without depriving us of our individual will. Our infinitesimal will characterizes our existence as individuals. And we are never to cease to be individuals. Krishna has assured us of that fact.
"For the soul there is never birth or death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying, and primeval He is not slain when the body is slain."-Bhagavad Gita, 2.20.
We must have the right self-determination apart from the impressions of the changeable body and fickle mind in order to realize the proper conception of God and the soul. We have to engage ourselves as the subservients of God and regain our real nature lost in material excesses. We have to serve the regulative sound vibrations manifesting themselves in the limited disclosure of this nether world for our benefit. We cannot obtain spiritual enlightenment, which is identical with loving devotion to Krishna, if we choose to actively or passively resist serving the Supreme.
We have heard that God is great. God must mean the absolutely All-powerful. His greatness is His absolute goodness. If God is God, He must be great. Nothing can happen without God's sanction. Everything that occurs is His Will because every occurence must not be contrary to His Will. So everything that occurs must be good. But the material world being the resort of creatures opposed to the Will of God, it is natural that there appear in it a conditional goodness. In fact, the whole material creation is an extraneous manifestation to the real Nature of God. It is an adjustment for counteracting the mischief of the living entities who have gone abroad in false identifications of themselves. The strictures of birth, disease, old age, and death are operative only on the outer covering layers, the bodies of conditioned souls, which have nothing to do with their eternal identities. So we must know the position of the soul in the first place. If we realize our existence apart from the temporal affairs and our impending changes of body, we can adopt the humble attitude of true inquisitiveness which will help us in entering the regions of true theism.
Historians and philosophers have long puzzled over the meaning of life to no avail. But we have nothing to profit from their imaginary explanations which cannot give us any relief from the miseries of the world. The self-realized soul can understand how conditional life is non-cooperation with Krishna.
We individual souls are emanations qualitatively like Krishna, but quantitatively unequal to Him. God is the Infinite Absolute. God must be One. We have the qualities of our Fountainhead, who is the Background or Support of all existence. Aquinas says that God should be known as "He Who Is." This is so because His Existence is the pre-requisite for all subsequent existence. He is the prime Progenitor of all manifestations, which do exist. Our perceptions, both of ourselves and of things outside ourselves, are possible because we all exist in Him. "I worship Govinda, the Primeval Lord, who is the Absolute Substantive Principle being the Ultimate Entity in the Form of the Support of all existence."-Brahma Samhita, 5.41.
God is the Infinite Absolute, and we are infinitesimal absolutes, His eternal servitors. Our tiny will cannot be good when it opposes God. The intervening emanation which nullifies any possibilities of our ushering evil into God's sphere of absolute goodness and which acts as a corrective agent to rectify us through limited indulgence is the material creation.
Krishna is actually clearer to us than our own selves. He is all-attractive, and He is the Inner Soul of all souls. Without Krishna, no real happiness can be found.
Nescience on the part of wayward souls subservient to the non-cognitive or non-soul is accommodated within the material creation. The indolent soul does not transmogrify nor fall from his constitutional eternal fixture, but by his apathetic egoism, i.e. by allowing his conception of himself ascendance over Godhead, he blinds himself to the nature of his own identity-with its inherent tendency to fall down. He assumes the mentality of aspiring to lord it over, and he is at that point overwhelmed by Maya.
Maya is God's good adjustment which impounds the erring souls, confining them in bodies like strait-jackets to obstruct their suicidal commission. Maya is material Nature. Maya means forgetfulness of God. Maya means the measuring tendency (by elevating oneself to the Judge's seat). Maya means what has no reality in itself. And Maya means mercy. These may be understood as esoteric truths.
By God's inconceivable power we have been gifted with the erroneous determinations we have warranted. But at the same time we are being urged to reconsider our misjudgements. We have voluntarily come into the material aggregate elements to seek our fortunes. But the material manifestation actually enforces impotence upon us. We are left to our own conclusions. Can we, lacking as we do absolute knowledge and power, be independently happy? We are personalities meant to augment the perfection of God's sovereign Will.
Krishna's relationship to the world is mysterious. Is He Transcendent or Immanent? If He is Transcendent, has He no concern for the world? If He is Immanent, then has He spread Himself everywhere and ceased to maintain His distinctive Identity? These questions were long debated.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has taught us the truth of Krishna's inconceivable oneness with and distinction from His multifarious energies (Achintya Bhedabheda Tattva). "In My transcendental Form I [Krishna] pervade all creation. All things are resting in Me, but I am not in them."-Bhagavad Gita, 9.4. Krishna is distinct from the cosmos and the living entitles (Jivas) and at the same time He is always identical with them, which can be understood only by His Grace.
"He is an undifferentiated Entity, as there is no distinction between potency and the Possessor thereof. In His work of creation of millions of worlds, His potency remains inseparable. All the universes exist in Him, and He is present in His Fullness in every one of the atoms that is scattered through the universe, at one and the same time. Such is the Primeval Lord whom I adore."—Brahma Samhita, 5.35. Although His inconceivable energy is all-extending, still He maintains His all-attractive medium size, manifesting His Supreme Personality in His eternal Form. "Krishna, who is known as Govinda, is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal, blissful spiritual Body. He is the Origin of all. He has no other origin, and He is the prime Cause of all causes."—Brahma Samhita, 5.1.
Krishna is the sole Object worthy of being worshiped by all souls. If we were to fabricate any fanciful idea of worship we would become idolators. The Vedic injunctions are the instructions of Krishna, and they state that chanting the Holy Names of Krishna is the sacrifice which we should all be performing in the present age. We should abandon all crippled conceptions known as monism, dualism, pluralism, deism, pantheism, etc. and qualify ourselves as pure theists. Our only asset upon which we can rely is our devotion to God. At the moment of death, all our sophistry and false prestige, all our material opulence and attachment will betray us. We should not waste our lives in the pursuit of perishable things. We should instead travel the path which will take us back to Home, back to Godhead.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has solved for all time the problem of re-establishing our relationship with Krishna. He has assured us that Krishna is best approached by us through the constant chanting of His Holy Names. Our whole attention is best engaged in the transcendence by the repetition of the Hare Krishna Mantra: HARE KRISHNA, HARE KRISHNA, KRISHNA KRISHNA, HARE HARE/ HARE RAMA, HARE RAMA, RAMA RAMA, HARE HARE
—by Kirtanananda Swami (ISKCON—Columbus)
Light and dark. Day and night. These are the dualities of the material world, and they are the archetypes of the gulf between the things of this world and the things of the spirit. Jesus Christ said, "I am the Light of the world," and St. John said, "Men love darkness because their deeds are evil." Lord Krishna, in Bhagavad Gita states: "What is night for all beings is the time of awakening for the self-controlled; and the time of awakening for all beings is night for the introspective sage." (2.69) And what is the distinction between "all beings" and a "sage"? That is explained in the Seventh Chapter of the Gita: "After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the Cause of all causes, and all that is." Therefore we may conclude that knowledge of theAbsolute, Krishna, is Light, and ignorance is darkness, or Maya; and that is actually what Maya means—that which is not. Krishna is just like the sun, for where the sun is there is no darkness. But Krishna is also the Original Sun, and therefore eternally full of knowledge; therefore ignorance and illusion can have no existence in Him.
If, however, one is not in the light of Krishna Consciousness, of knowledge of the Absolute, then there will be some manifestation of darkness, such as excessive sleeping (more than six hours), laziness, intoxication, or madness; but a person in Krishna Consciousness never exhibits these things. His qualities are listed in the Eighteenth Chapter of the Gita as "peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, wisdom, knowledge, and religiousness..."
How, some may ask, can mere knowledge of Krishna change the spectrum of one's qualities so radically—literally from black to white. And that too Lord Krishna answers in the Bhagavad Gita: "All states of being—be they of goodness, passion, or ignorance are manifested by My energy. I am, in one sense, everything—but I am independent. I am not under the modes of this material Nature." (7.12) Here Krishna definitely claims to be the author of all states of being, be they goodness (knowledge or light), passion (mixed), or ignorance (darkness). They are all Krishna's energy, but knowledge means to be in direct contact, whereas ignorance can make no claim at all, being covered by the cloud of illusion. The sun is always shining, but when a cloud intervenes, the sun's pure qualities of light and heat are distorted. Similarly, the pure qualities of Krishna, as exhibited by Himself and His pure devotees, are distorted by the conditioned soul under the illusion of material nature. Again in the Fifteenth Chapter Krishna states that "remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness" all come from Him—but how? By our desire. That is the whole import of the Gita: "In all activities, and for their results, just depend upon Me, and work always under My protection. In such devotional service, be fully conscious of Me." (18.57) There is an old proverb in India: "He finds God quickest whose yearning is strongest," and Meister Eckhart admonishes us that even in those times when we feel no desire for Him, we can at least desire to desire Him.
As soon as we have that sincere desire, Krishna fulfills. Actually, He is more anxious that we regain the Heavenly Kingdom than we ourselves, and if we recall the story of the prodigal son, we'll remember that while he was "still a long way off" his father "ran and fell on his neck" and embraced him. Krishna says that He is the father of all living entities, and He is not willing that any perish. So the difficulty is not on Krishna's part. He is eternally present everywhere by one of His energies. Krishna has innumerable energies, all of which are like Himself—Absolute; and He can appear to us by any one or more of these transcendental energies, and deliver the same effect as with any other or all energies. That is His greatness, called omnipotence. Wherever He is, He is Absolute. He can be present in Person, He can be present by representative, or He can be present by potencies. For instance, He can be present by His Name. Krishna's Name is not different from Himself. In the relative world, of course, this is not true; if someone goes to my room and calls, "Swamiji, Swamiji," and I am not there personally, it will do no good. I cannot answer. I am now limited to the sensory responses of this body. By mechanical technology I may be able to extend my voice to California, or even to the moon, but I can never extend it everywhere. But Krishna cannot be limited, either in time or extent or in any other way. That is Absolute. So just imagine how great He is. He may not be present, but still He is present by His Name, otherwise great acharyas like Lord Chaitanya would not have bothered chanting His Holy Name.
The presence of Krishna's chit potency, however, can also be demonstrated practically. Take some beautiful word like rose. Gertrude Stein could repeat it three times, "A rose is a rose is a rose," and still have a nice line of poetry, but one more repitition would have spoiled the whole thing. Or take the name of any famous personage, John, Julius, Mary or anything else, say it twenty times and you are bored. But you can chant Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare twenty-four hours a day and not get tired. It is the difference between relative and Absolute; Hare Krishna is coming directly from the spiritual platform where everything is eternal, and therefore each time you say Hare Krishna it is as new and fresh as the first time you heard it. So keep Krishna present by His Name; then what is the possibility of ignorance and delusion? Keep Him always on your tongue, and rigidly keep chanting offenselessly. Then He is surely with you, and there is no danger, no ignorance, no Maya.
Krishna is present not only by His Name; He is also present by His Fame. His Pastimes and Leela are also identical with Him, as are His Associates; therefore, when we speak of Narada, Vyasadeva, Lord Chaitanya, the Goswamins or other pure devotees, Krishna is there. Thus the whole of Srimad Bhagwatam is Krishna's Presence—the discussions of the sages, the adventures of the Pandavas, the fighting at Kurukshetra, as well as the events of His own life—everything is Krishna. It is just like a magnet: there may be one original magnet, but as soon as another piece of iron comes in contact with it, it too becomes a magnet. Everything that comes in contact with Krishna becomes Krishnized, or spiritualized, and regains its original transcendental purity. That is the greatness of Krishna Consciousness and the Bhagavad Gita—they teach us how to make all our activities, even apparently mundane ones like fighting, spiritual. Just put everything in contact with Krishna.
This is an actual fact, but one has to realize it. The sun is present in the sunshine, although millions of miles away, and Krishna is the Sun of suns eternally emanating His Spiritual Energy, Brahmajyoti; and it is actually on this eternal effulgence from Krishna Loka that all other fires and light depend. Therefore Krishna says, "I am the light of the moon." "Of lights I am the radiant sun." "I am Agni, fire." Actually, however, the entire material and spiritual creation rests on this Brahmajyoti, and for that reason many transcendentalists are content to bask in its shine. They are called impersonalists, and their enquiry stops there. But the personalists want to know the Source of that glowing effulgence. The last verse of the Fourteenth Chapter of Gita states: "And I am the basis of the impersonal Brahman, which is immortal and imperishable, eternal, the constitutional position of ultimate happiness." Krishna alone is final.
We must have the realization that Krishna alone is Absolute. This will come: it is simply a question of realization. And that realization will come as we associate with one of Krishna's energies. It has the same effect as meeting Krishna Personally, because He is Absolute, and there is no difference between seeing Him and hearing of Him. At the present stage of civilization we are putting almost all of the stress on visual perception, but do we really suppose that spiritual understanding will come through our material eyes? We have many senses, and even on the mundane level the eye is not the most important The greatest part of the learning process is dependent on hearing, and it is the aural sense which is first to react to calamity, even during sleep. Hold a piece of paper with some message on it in front of a sleeping man and he will never wake up, but call him and he immediately responds. On the Absolute or Spiritual platform we will gain the same understanding from all the senses, but hearing is best. When Krishna was present on this earth 5,000 years ago, so many could not understand Him, even though He was in range of their eyes. But one who has heard of Krishna by disciplic succession can understand perfectly. Therefore hearing is more important than touching, tasting or smelling, or even seeing. Sound can always reach us, even in sleep. So by Vedic principle, hearing is knowledge, and in the Bible also it is said "Faith cometh by hearing." And Lord Jesus frequently said: "He who hath ears to hear let him hear." Hearing from the authentic source is all-important, and if we hear in this way about Krishna, His Name, His Fame, His Associates, His Abode, His Pastimes or Activities, then He is present.
Whereas Krishna is the light of Truth, Maya is the darkness of illusion and ignorance. Maya can no more come before Krishna than darkness can approach the sun. Maya is actually a servant of Krishna, but due to the shameful nature of her work she has no access to that Great Person. Her task is also thankless for she is always dealing in miseries. She is always discharging her duty by inflicting the four-fold miseries of material existence, namely, birth, old age, diseases, and death, but no one appreciates it. It is something like the police—unless they become ruthless they cannot execute their duty, and when they do, everyone dislikes them. Even if a policeman should come to one of our kirtans to hear about Krishna, we would be very suspicious of his real intent. That is the nature of their work—no one likes them. So too, Maya can neither approach Krishna, nor is she liked by the conditioned soul.
The conditioned soul, illusioned by Maya, thinks like a madman: "I am," "It is mine," "I am lord of all I survey," "This is my country," "These are my children," "My home," "My father." Simply "me and mine." But Ishopanishad tells us that nothing is ours—everything belongs to Krishna! And Krishna Himself states: "With a single fragment of Myself I pervade and support these entire universes." (Bg., 10.42) The whole world is moving under a false impression (Maya) because men are claiming Krishna's property as their own.
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu tells us that if we wish to escape this great snare of Maya ("I," "me" and "mine") then we have to take to the process of Krishna consciousness. Krishna consciousness means association with Krishna, either with His Name, His Devotee, His Messages—every one of His energies which is Absolute. For this present age Lord Chaitanya has especially recommended the chanting of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This chanting at once removes the cloud of illusion from our minds and reveals that eternally effulgent form of Krishna. We cannot imagine where there is sunshine and darkness simultaneously, nor can we imagine Krishna and Maya: but where Krishna is not, Maya is sure to be. So we must be very careful to chant Krishna's Name always. This is the only path, and the more we make progress by chanting inoffensively, the more the consciousness of "I" and "mine" will vanish in exactly the same way that hunger and weakness disappear after sufficient food has been eaten. It is not a question of denial but satisfaction, and the more one is in Krishna consciousness the more satisfied he becomes. This is fact. Full Krishna consciousness may not come all at once, and some "weakness" may linger for some time. But that does not matter, for we will surely attain the goal by Krishna's Grace.
If we fail to make progress on the Path, it is due to lack of surrender. In his book Teachings of Lord Chaitanya, Swami Bhaktivedanta outlines six phases of surrender: 1) accepting everything favorable to the discharge of devotional service; 2) rejecting everything unfavorable to devotional service; 3) being convinced that no one can protect him but Krishna; 4) accepting only Krishna as his maintainer, not demigods; 5) being conscious that his desires are not independent, and that unless Krishna fulfills them they cannot be fulfilled; and 6) always thinking himself as the most fallen, so that Krishna may take care of him. If we think of Krishna as an ordinary man, then there will be doubts, and the Path will be blocked; but if we clear our doubts, as we have a right to do, by approaching a self-realized Spiritual Master and inquiring of him submissively, he will instruct us about Krishna and all doubts will subside. We must not miscalculate the Lord because He sits on the lap of Mother Yasoda. He is still God. When Krishna was three months old, a great demon, a friend of Kansa, came to Vrindaban in the form of a beautiful young damsel. She quickly made her way to Nanda Maharaj's house and asked Mother Yasoda if she could please feed the beautiful young child. Being pure and simple, Krishna's mother consented, not knowing that it was a well calculated plan of Kansa's for disposing of the Lord. Being God Absolute, the Lord knew perfectly well that the demon's breasts were filled with poison, and so He sucked her breasts, but also sucked out her very life, and she fell over dead in her original huge demon form. Yasoda screamed, "O God has saved my child." God is on her lap, but she says, "God has saved my child." That is called yogamaya. Her connection was one of love only. This can happen by supernatural Grace only, but these things must be studied, seen, and heard through the line of pure devotees.
Unless we hear of Krishna perfectly, we cannot surrender perfectly; and how much we have surrendered, He knows. God is much more intelligent than we. Prabhupada says, "He is at least two inches more intelligent—always." That is God eternally "two inches beyond." If we sincerely practice this Krishna consciousness, we can be linked on to that "two inches beyond," but if we refuse to surrender and continue to doubt. then we will never understand Krishna and difficulties will forever disturb us. If we simply revive our transcendental consciousness by chanting Hare Krishna, surely we will live in bliss eternally.
Sung with thousands of others, or while sitting in solitude, the Maha Mantra awakens love of God, the ultimate end of life.
O my Lord! Your Holy Name alone can render all benediction upon the living beings, and therefore You have hundreds and millions of Names, like Krishna, Govinda, etc. In these transcendental Names You have invested all Your transcendental energies, and there is no hard and fast rule for chanting these Holy Names. O my Lord! You have so kindly made approach to You easy by Your Holy Names, but, unfortunate as I am, I have no attraction for Them.
One can chant the Holy Name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking himself lower than the straw in the street, more tolerant than the tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and ready to offer all respects to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the Holy Name of the Lord constantly.
O my Lord! when shall my eyes be decorated with tears of love, flowing constantly while I chant Your Holy Name? When will my words be choked up when uttering the Holy Name? And when will all the holes of hair on my body have eruptions by the recitation of Your Name?
—Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (Sikshastak, verses 2, 3 & 6)