With commentary by Sri Srimad Jiva Gosvami and translation and purport by Paramahamsa Parivrajakacarya (108) Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami
[Editor's Note: This is the first installment of the Brahma-samhita, the Hymns of Brahma, including a foreword by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, the translator and commentator, and the first two verses and purports of the Fifth Chapter of this work. Brahma is the first created entity in this universe, born out of a lotus flower sprouting from the navel of the Garbhodakasayi Visnu, the Great God, and he is the greatest of the demigods, being directly empowered by Lord Krsna to create the solar and planetary systems and all life that dwells therein. Despite his great power, at his birth Brahma knew neither his whereabouts nor his identity. Therefore the Supreme Lord, Sri Krsna, imparted Vedic knowledge into his heart, and these hymns are Brahma's articulation of that knowledge. It is not surprising then that the Brahma-samhita is in praise of Govinda (Krsna), the primeval Lord who is the very origin of Brahma.
His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati renders, in his foreword and purports, detailed information which reveals his great scholarship and devotion. The greatest exponent of Vaisnavism in this century, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta founded the Gaudiya Mission in India. He is the spiritual master of His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami and therefore the grand spiritual master of the Krsna consciousness movement in the West.]
The materialistic demeanor cannot possibly stretch to the transcendental autocrat who is ever inviting the fallen conditioned souls to associate with Him through devotion, the eternal serving mood. The phenomenal attractions are often found to tempt sentient beings to enjoy the variegated position, which is opposed to undifferentiated monism. People are apt to indulge in transitory speculations even when they are to educate themselves about a situation beyond their empiric area or experimental knowledge. But often the esoteric aspect obliges them to trace out Immanence in their outward inspection of transitory and transformable things. This impulse moves them to fix the position of the immanent to an indeterminate impersonal entity, no clue of which can be discerned in moving earth and heaven through man's organic senses.
The lines of this booklet will surely help such puzzled souls in their march towards the personality of the Immanent lying beyond their sensuous inspection. The very first stanza of this publication will revolutionize their conservative ideas when the nomenclature of the Absolute is put before them as "Krsna." The speculative minds will tend to offer some other attributive name to designate the unknown object. They will prefer to brand Him by their own experience as the "creator of this universe," or "the entity beyond phenomena," which are far removed from any object of nature and void of all transformation. So they will urge that the very fountainhead should have no conceivable designation other than that which would indicate an invisible, inaudible, untouchable, non-fragrant and imperceivable object. But they will not desist from contemplating on the object with their poor fund of experience. The interested enquirer will be found to hanker after the records left by erudite savants in lieu of incompatible hallucinatory views of savage demonstration. In comparing different names offered by mankind's different schools of thought, a particular judge would naturally decide in favor of some nomenclature which will suit best his limited and specific whims. The slave mentality of an individual will no doubt offer invectives to those who would appeal to him to explain his decision. To remedy this evil, the Hymns (Brahma-samhita) of the accepted progenitor of the phenomena would help greatly for they offer a nomenclature which is possessed of adequate power to dispel all imaginations conjured by those who experience phenomena through tentative exploitations.
The first hymn will establish the supremacy of the Absolute Truth, if His substratum is not shot by the bullets of limited time, ignorance and discomfort by those who recognize Him as an effect instead of accepting Him as the prime cause. But earnest seekers will be satisfied to note that the object of their determination is the par-excellent Supreme Lord Sri Krsna who has eternally embodied Himself in His ever-present, all-blissful, all-pervasive form of perfected knowledge, the very fountainhead of all prime causes, or unending non-beginning time, the supplying fosterer of all entities, namely, mundane and transcendental.
The subsequent lines will determine the different aspects of the Absolute, which are but emanations of the supreme fountainhead Krsna, the most attractive entity of all entities. Moreover, the etymology of the nomenclature "Krsna" indicates a plane of uninterrupted, unending, transcendental felicity and indicates that He Himself is the source of the two components which go by the names of "efficient" and "material" causes. The very transcendental name "Krsna" enotes the embodiment of all the transcendental eternal rasas (nectarean pleasures) as well as the origin of all eclipsed conceptions of interrupted rasas (perverted relationships) found in the mentality of animated beings which are successfully depicted by literati and rhetoricians for our mundane speculation.
The verses of Brahma-samhita are a full elucidation of the origination of phenomena and noumena. These hymns of the incarnated prime potency deal fully with the henotheistic speculations of different schools, which are busy giving the outer coverings of esoteric concoctions without referring to the true, eternal aspect of the transcendental, non-transformable and imperishable manifestation of the Immanent. These hymns also deal with different partial aspects of the Personality of the Absolute, who is quite separate from the conception of the enjoyers of this phenomenal world.
A very closely attentive comparative study of all prevailing thoughts and conceptions will relieve and enlighten all—be one a materialist, a downright atheist, an agnostic, a skeptic, a naturalist, or a pantheist—busy with knowledge of mere three dimensions by speculative exertions.
This booklet is only the fifth chapter of the Hymns of Brahma (Brahma-samhita) which were recorded in a hundred chapters. The Supreme Lord Sri Caitanya picked up this chapter from the temple of Adikesava at Tiruvattar, a village lying under the government of Travancore, for the assurance of all God-loving, and especially Krsna-loving, people in this conditioned world. This booklet can easily be compared with another book called Srimad-Bhagavatam. Though it has reference in the pantheon of Puranas, the Bhagavatam corroborates the same idea of this Pancaratra.
The devotees should note that these two books point to the identical Krsna who is the Fountainhead of all transcendental and mundane entities and who exhibits a manifestation of plenary variegatedness.
Aspersions and calumniation are confined to the limited world, for the Transcendence cannot admit such "angularities," being at an angle of 180 degrees, that is to say, void of any angular discrepancies.
The publisher is carried away to the realm of gratitude when his stores of publication are scrutinized. Thakur Bhaktivinoda has given an elucidating purport to the conception of the most sublime fountainhead of all entities, and one of his devout followers has rendered that from Bengali into English for propagatory purposes. The background of the purports and translations are traced to the writings of Srila Jiva Gosvami, a contemporary follower of the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna Caitanya.
The materialists often go on to say that the provincial conception of theism has depicted the transcendental unity as diversity, but we differ from these erroneous considerations, for we get a prospective view of the manifested Transcendence which eliminates all historiographies and allegorical interpretations. Our enjoying mood should take a different direction when we take into account the Transcendental Entity who absorbs all the frailties and limitations of nature. So we solicit the happier mood of the scrutinizers and beg them to pay special attention to the importance of manifestive transcendence in Krsna.
It was found necessary to publish this small book for the use of English speaking people who are interested in the acme of transcendental truth in all its manifested phases. The theme delineated herein is quite different from the ordinary heaps of poetical mundane literature which are confined to our limited senses. This book was found in South India some four centuries ago, and it is again brought to light in the very same country after a long time. It is just like the worshiping the Goddess Ganges by offering her own water.
Siddhanta Sarasvati, Sri Gaudiya Math, Calcutta, August 1, 1932.
isvarah paramah krsnah
isvarah—the controller; paramah—supreme; krsnah—Lord Krsna; sat—comprising eternal existence; cit—absolute knowledge; ananda—and absolute bliss; vigrahah—whose form; anadih—without beginning; adih—the origin; govindah—Lord Govinda; sarva-karana-karanam—the cause of all causes.
Krsna 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.
Krsna is the exalted Supreme entity having His eternal name, eternal form, eternal attribution and eternal pastimes. The very name "Krsna" implies His love-attracting designation, expressing by His eternal nomenclature the acme of entity. His eternal beautiful heavenly blue-tinged body glowing with the intensity of ever-existing knowledge has a flute in both His hands. As His inconceivable spiritual energy is all-extending, still He maintains His all-charming medium size by His qualifying spiritual instrumentals. His all-accommodating supreme subjectivity is nicely manifested in His eternal form. The concentrated all-time presence, uncovered knowledge and inebriating felicity have their beauty in Him. The mundane manifestive portion of His own Self is known as all-pervading Paramatma, Isvara (Superior Lord) or Visnu (All-fostering). Hence it is evident that Krsna is sole Supreme Godhead. His unrivaled or unique spiritual body of superexcellent charm is eternally unveiled with innumerable spiritual instrumentals (senses) and unreckonable attributes keeping their signifying location properly, adjusting at the same time by His inconceivable conciliative powers. This beautiful spiritual figure is identical with Krsna and the spiritual entity of Krsna is identical with His own figure.
The very intensely blended entity of eternal presence of felicitous cognition is the charming targeted holding or transcendental icon. It follows that the conception of the indistinguishable formless magnitude (Brahman) which is an indolent, lax, presentment of cognitive bliss, is merely a penumbra of intensely blended glow of the three concomitants, viz., the blissful, the substantive and the cognitive. This transcendental manifestive icon Krsna in His original face is primordial background of magnitudinal infinite Brahman and of the all-pervasive oversoul. Krsna as truly visioned in His variegated pastimes, such as owner of transcendental cows, chief of cowherds, consort of milk-maids, ruler of the terrestrial abode Gokula and object of worship by transcendental residents of Goloka beauties, is Govinda. He is the root cause of all causes who are the predominating and predominated agents of the universe. The glance of His projected fractional portion in the sacred originating water viz., the personal oversoul or Paramatma, gives rise to a secondary potency-nature who creates this mundane universe. This oversoul's intermediate energy brings forth the individual souls analogously to the emanated rays of the sun.
sahasra-patra—possessing a thousand petals; kamalam—a lotus; gokula-akhyam—known as Gokula; mahat padam—the superexcellent station; tat—of that (lotus); karnikaram—the whorl; tat—of Him (Krsna); dhama—the abode; tat—that (Gokula); ananta—of His infinitary aspect, Balarama; amsa—from a part; sambhavam—produced.
[The spiritual place of transcendental pastimes of Krsna is portrayed in the second verse.] The superexcellent station of Krsna, which is known as Gokula, has thousands of petals and a corolla like that of a lotus sprouted from a part of His infinitary aspect, the whorl of the leaves being the actual abode of Krsna.
Gokula, like Goloka, is not a created mundane plane-unbounded character forms the display of His unlimited potency and His propagating manifestation. Baladeva is the mainstay of that energy. The transcendental entity of Baladeva has two aspects viz., infinite spiritual manifestation and infinite accommodating space for insentient gross things. The uniquadrantal delineation of material universe will be dealt with in the proper place. The triquadrantal extensions of the transcendental infinitary field of the almighty, unlamenting, nonperishing and nonapprehending unlimited situations of halo which are fully spiritual majestic foliation. This very majestical extension portrays the manifested lofty rich feature of the vaster unlimited region or greater atmosphere which has its resplendent location wholly beyond the realm of mundane nature, on the further shore of Viraja surrounded by the halo of Brahman or indistinguishable entity. This majestical power of unlimited spirit emanates on the upper portion of the luminous sphere into the most charming Gokula or eternally existing Goloka, exceedingly beautified by the assorted display of effulgence. Some designate this region as the abode of the Supreme Narayana, or the original fountainhead. Hence Gokula, which is identical with Goloka, is the supreme plane. The same sphere shines as Goloka and Gokula respectively by its upper or transcendental and lower or mundane situation.
Sri Sanatana Gosvami has told us as follows in his Brhad-bhagavatamrta which embodies the final essence of all the books of instructions: "He displays His pastimes here in this land as He is used to do in Goloka. The difference between the two planes lies only in their locations as high and low; that is, in other words, Krsna plays exactly the same part in Goloka as He exhibits on the mundane plane of Gokula. There is practically no difference between Gokula and Goloka save that this what exists in the shape of Goloka in the upper region is the same as Gokula on the mundane plane when Krsna showed His various activity there. Sri Jiva Gosvami has also inculcated the same in the Bhagavat-sandarbha of his 'Six Treatises.' " To ascertain the plane of Goloka-Vrndavana is the eternal abode of Krsna and Goloka and Vrndavana are identically one, and though both are identical, yet Krsna's inconceivable energy has made Goloka the acme of this spiritual kingdom and Gokula of Mathura province forming a part of the mundane plane which is also a manifestation of triquadrantal vibhuti (conducting majesty). Poor human understanding cannot possibly make out how the extensive triquadrantal, which is beyond human comprehension, can be accommodated in the limited nether material universe of a uniquadrantal disclosure. Gokula is a spiritual plane, hence his condescended position in the region of material space, time, etc., is in no way restricted but unlimitedly manifested with his full boundless propriety. But conditioned souls are apt to assert a material conception in regard to Gokula by their miserable senses so as to bring him below the level of their intellect. Though the eye of an observer is impeded by a cloud when gazing at the sun and though the tiny cloud can never really cover the sun, still the clouded vision apparently observes the sun as covered by the cloud. In just the same way the conditioned souls with their obscured intelligence, senses and decisions, accept Gokula as a piece of measurable land. We can see Gokula from Goloka which is eternal. This is also a mystery. The attainment of final beatitude is the success in attaining one's eternal self. The success in identifying the true self is finally achieved when the screen of gross and subtle coils of conditioned souls is removed by the sweet will of Krsna. However, the idea of Goloka is seen to differ from Gokula till the success in unalloyed devotion is achieved. The transcendental plane of infinite spiritual manifestation having thousands of petals and corolla like those of the lotus, is Gokula, the eternal abode of Krsna.
[delivered as a lecture by
I'm pleased that you are doing things just to my satisfaction. Stick to this principle, and Krsna will bless you. Our line of action is not difficult: chanting sixteen rounds regularly, trying to follow the four restrictive principles, taking prasadam, reading the books, speaking, discussing about the subject matter of devotional service. This is the process.
I am speaking tonight about Pariksit Maharaj, of whom I have spoken several times before. As you know, he had only seven days to meet his death. He was a young man, but somehow or other he was cursed by a brahmana boy that he would meet death within seven days. According to Vedic culture one should prepare very nicely before death for going back to Godhead. This is Vedic culture. In the modern civilization, they do not know what is going to happen after death. But our Vedic culture is not so blind. Vedic culture is based on the aim of human life, not aimless life. Aimless life is animal life. They are governed by the laws of nature. They are going on, transforming from one body to another; and ultimately they are coming, by the evolutionary process, to the human form of life. Especially this civilized human form of life is very responsible. One has to make his choice whether he wants to continue his materialistic way of life and change bodies one after another. That is a very risky job. We should always remember that in our next body we may be given a body of a tree. Just see, in this part of the world, what a condemned life they are leading—forced to stand in the snowfall. You have a house; you can protect yourself. They cannot even move. So there is possibility of getting such life. We should be very responsible about how to avoid such laws of nature. We can enter any form of life out of 8,400,000 species that are evolving. We should always remember that if by chance we slip down to one of them, then we have wasted our time. This is responsibility.
Labdhva sudurlabham idam bahu sambhavante. Bahu sambhavante means after many, many appearances. This present body is one of the appearances—it will never appear again. You or I may have to appear again in a different body, but this human form of life is a great opportunity. Bahu sambhavante. Bahu means many, and sambhavante means appearances. Then, labdhva sudurlabham. Su means very costly, and durlabham means to gain with very great difficulty. This responsibility must be there in the human form of life. "After many, many appearances one can achieve this human form of body, and can achieve a great success in this life." This is the hint given. Therefore, for that great success, everyone should try his best. One must not think, "Now that we are young men, young boys and girls, let us enjoy life." That facility is very easy to obtain in your country. In the schools, colleges, in society, the young boys and girls have ample facility for enjoying material life. Material life means sex life. But the Srimad-Bhagavatam says you should immediately try for the ultimate success of your life. Don't spoil your life. If we become absorbed in the course of the materialistic way of enjoyment, then naturally we have to take birth again in another body, not necessarily of human form. The Bhagavatam says that unless we purify our mind and consciousness, we must accept a material body and again accept all miserable conditions that we are undergoing with this body. This is not a pessimistic view of life. This is a fact.
Only responsible persons can understand. Sanatana Gosvami and Rupa Gosvami were ministers of government. Their society was very aristocratic, and they were very rich. But wealth and aristocratic society could not satisfy their desire. They left their enjoyable posts and followed Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu for the ultimate solution of life. The examples are many. Lord Caitanya's direct disciples are all very important men. For example, Svarupa Damodara, Lord Caitanya's secretary, was a very learned man, a Vedantist. And the Gosvamis—Sanatana Gosvami, Rupa Gosvami, Raghunathadasa Gosvami—were very important and rich men of that time. Raghunathadasa Gosvami happened to he the son of a very big landlord or zamindar. In those days, five hundred years ago, his father's income was 1,200,000 rupees. He was the only son of his father and uncle, but he did not like to enjoy the father's property. He joined Caitanya Mahaprabhu and is known as Raghunathadasa Gosvami. Gopala Bhatta Gosvami and Jiva Gosvami (a very learned scholar and philosopher, the nephew of Rupa Gosvami) were all very important men of society. They joined Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu to make their lives successful, and we should take their example for our own success. The successful life means to change our consciousness to Krsna consciousness. That is success. All you young boys and girls, you are fortunate. I'm not bluffing you; actually you are fortunate. You have come to the right place where you can learn Krsna consciousness. This is the greatest boon of life. The sastras say that you should try very quickly to face this business. Pariksit Maharaj was aware that he was going to live for seven days, but we do not know whether our life will last for seven days or seven minutes. It may end at any moment; there is no guarantee. Don't think that we shall take up this business of Krsna consciousness in old age. From the example of Pariksit Maharaj, we can take the lesson that we do not know when we shall die. But before death we have to become competent in Krsna consciousness. What is the competence? To be twenty-four hours a day, always thinking of Krsna. This is Krsna consciousness.
At the last stage of his life Pariksit Maharaj got the association of a big Krsna conscious personality, Sukadeva Gosvami. He asked him, "My dear sir, I'm now going to die; what is my duty? Please tell me." Pariksit Maharaj was born in the family of the Pandus. He is the grandson of Arjuna. Arjuna's son, Abhimanyu, died in the battlefield of Kuruksetra, He was a sixteen-year-old boy at that time, but he was married. Fortunately, when he died, his wife was pregnant. Pariksit Maharaj was the posthumous child. He was born after the death of his father; he never saw his father. His grandfather raised him. All the Pandava boys died in the battlefield. Of the whole family, only the five brothers remained alive, and this child who was in the womb of his mother. Otherwise, all the members of the whole Kuru family died in the battle—it was such a big fight. This child was also hit by atomic energy, or brahmastra, but Krsna saved him. Krsna wanted the descendant of His devotee to live on. The Pandavas are a very good Krsna conscious family. Krsna wants to give protection to the Krsna conscious men and families. That you know from the Bhagavad-gita. So the child was saved, even in the womb of his mother, by Krsna. Krsna could also have saved him from the curse by a brahmana boy, but Pariksit Maharaj did not like the idea. He took it very seriously: "I have offended the brahmana and he has cursed me. That's nice." How liberal he was! He accepted and immediately prepared for death. After all, he was a great devotee. In his childhood he was playing with Radha-Krsna Deity. Just like our child-devotee, Dvarakadish das. He is playing with Jagannatha. That is very nice. My father also gave me Deities in my childhood, and I had the opportunity to serve Radha-Krsna from childhood. Pariksit Maharaj asked Sukadeva Gosvami to recite to him about Krsna. Although he was very anxious to know about his duty, he was thinking that his only duty was to think of Krsna at the last stage. Therefore, he asked his spiritual master if he could hear about Krsna at this last point of his life. Sukadeva Gosvami was ,very glad that the King was already anxious Sukadeva was just going to advise him to think of Krsna, but he found that he was already anxious to think of Krsna. He was always thinking of Krsna, and even from childhood he was playing with Radha-Krsna Deities. From the womb of his mother he saw Krsna. After his birth he was searching after that figure who saved him. Therefore, his name was Pariksit, or "Examiner." Many people were present after his birth, and he was looking all around thinking, "Where is that form of Krsna?" Therefore his name is Pariksit. When he inquired from Sukadeva Gosvami if he could hear about Krsna, Sukadeva Gosvami replied: variyan esa te prasnah krto loka-hitam nrpa atmavit-sammatah pumsam srotavyadisu yah parah. My dear King, you are very fortunate. Your question about Krsna is welcome. You are inquiring about Krsna, so this very question is very important. And this is not only good for you, it is good for all the human society. Because you have questioned, I shall reply. Questions and answers about Krsna are so important that in the future these questions and answers will be discussed in the human society." Actually it is being done now. We are discussing the same incidence. And he said, "This question is so authorized that those who are interested in self realization will approve it." Sukadeva is saying, "Yes, this is a nice question. It is not a bogus question. This type of question should be inquired."
The whole world is full with questions and answers, these questions and answers about Krsna are approved by those who are self realized; they are not appreciated by the bodily realized. There are two classes of men. The bodily realized make up 99.9 percent of the population—always thinking of the body And there is another class called atmavit, self realized Krsna conscious persons. There are many kinds of subject matter for hearing, but this is the sublime subject for hearing, questions and answers about Krsna. Parah means sublime, and srotavya means worthwhile hearing. Why is it sublime? Sukadeva said: Srotavyadini rajendra nrnam santi sahasrasah apasyatam atma-tattvam grhesu grha-medhinam. This matter of Srimad-Bhagavatam is such exalted transcendental knowledge that there are 18,000 verses and you can realize great transcendental importance in each verse and each word. This Bhagavat Puranam, this old history of the world, is spotless. Srimad-Bhagavatam is also history. Pariksit Maharaj was cursed by a brahmana. He was a king, Emperor of the world, and we are hearing how he met his death. These things are described in the history. But it is not ordinary history, not what we generally mean by chronological history. It is the history of the most important, or at least one of the most important kings of the world. This history of his life and death is historical fact.
Sukadeva Gosvami said, "My dear King, srotavyadini rajendra nrnam santi sahasrasah. For ordinary men there are many, many subject matters for hearing." Just as in the newspapers there are many varieties of news, but they are meant—for whom?—for ordinary men. They are not meant for us; we don't care for what is happening in the newspapers. Although, early in the morning, everyone else is anxious to read them, the boys and girls of the Hare Krsna movement do not care for the newspapers. This is the very fact which is stated by Sukadeva. What is the newspaper? The Sanskrit word is srotavyadini. Srotavya means that thing which is to be heard. Unless there is some news, what will you hear? So this word srotavyadini means subject of news. He addressed the King: "Dear Emperor, there are many varieties of subject matters for hearing by the human being." But what class of human being? There are many different kinds of knowledge for those who are fools and rascals without any self realization. They are called blind. They have eyes, but they have no introspection for the value of life. Therefore, he says they have eyes like the eyes of the peacock feather. They have no introspection. Therefore, Vedic culture says you should see through sastra (scripture). Don't try to see by these eyes. These are only valueless eyes. They are conditioned in so many ways, so don't believe the eyes. See through the sastra. See through the spiritual master and through the sastra. Try to see through these—this is perfection.
The subject matter for hearing for the ordinary person means for those who are engaged in family matters. But does it mean to become a family man is bad? No, it doesn't. But if you become grhamedhi, that is particularly mentioned as bad. In family life there are also two classes of men, grhastha and grhamedhi. Therefore, we can see that each and every word of Srimad-Bhagavatam has new, enlightening meaning. There is a difference between grhastha and grhamedhi. Grhamedhi means ordinary persons Whose household life and home have been made the center of the householder's existence. Earlier tonight I was seeing the rooms of our grhastha householders, our boys and girls, and their things are scattered. If you go to another person's home, you will find his apartment nicely decorated with chairs, cushions and sitting pads. But they have no vision about self. Here, we see their household affairs and their resting places are not so nicely decorated, but their aim is Krsna. That is the difference between grhamedhi and grhastha. Grhamedhi means they simply want to decorate their apartment and children and wife; that is their aim of life. They have no other business. They are blind to the value of life; whereas a grhastha is not blind about the value of his life. He's simply looking forward, how to become successful in Krsna consciousness. Those who are blind to the point of self realization have thousands of subject matters of hearing in the newspapers. The ordinary householders have made their aim of life to decorate the apartment, that's all—work day and night and have good dress, good apartment, that's all. They think that this is successful. For them there are many thousands of news items. Why do they have thousands of varieties of news? What is their mode of life? This will be explained. Sukadeva Gosvami is describing their mode of life: Nidraya hriyate naktam vyavayena ca va vayah diva carthehaya rajan kutumba-bharanena va. "At night they are wasting their duration of life either by sleeping or by sex life." That's all. This is their business at night. Then at daytime, what is their business? In daytime they are always busy: "Where is money, where is money, where is money?" Then they are getting money. And as soon as there is money, they immediately have a program of how to spend it perfectly. They will spend thousands of dollars for family and relatives, but if you ask a dollar for Krsna consciousness they will say, "I do not have any." So for these persons, there are varieties of material nature. This is the program for their life: at night either sleeping or going to the night club or dancing club, sex life, that's all. Not that these things are new. These are old things. People are long accustomed to all these things; it is human nature. And yet they are thinking, "We are in the modern days." What do they mean by modern days? Nothing has changed by putting the old wine in new bottles. Practically this is going on. So the question is why are they wasting their life? That is answered also.
The Bhagavatam says: dehapatya-kalatradisv atma-sainyesv asatsv api tesam pramatto nidhanam pasyann api na pasyati. Deha means this body. Apatya means his children. Kalatra means wife. Just as the nation thinks it is well-protected when it has good defense measures, so an ordinary man thinks that if he has a strongly built body and a very faithful wife, nice children, good bank balance, some property, securities, these things will give him protection. "Yes," he believes, "they will give me protection. I have nice children, I have nice wife, I have a good bank balance, I have so many properties, so why shall I go to Krsna consciousness? I am well-protected. These boys and girls have no bank balance, they have no home; therefore they should go." But actually they are blind. How are they blind? They are thinking that these things will give them protection. Pramatta means crazy. Their craziness is thinking that these things will give them protection. No. tesam pramatto nidhanam pasyann api na pasyati. Because he is crazy, he does not see the destruction of these things, although he is seeing others destroyed at every moment. "My father has died, naturally I shall die, naturally my sons also will die,"—so why are you so anxious for protecting this family? Everyone will die. They can see daily that the things they are working so hard for will be destroyed; but still they do not see, although it has been destroyed previously in history. Many empires have been destroyed previously in history. Many empires have been destroyed. The British empire, the Roman empire, the Egyptian Empire—all have been destroyed. Also, the Indian empire is now gone where formerly Pariksit Maharaj was the emperor of the world. They see that these things cannot give one protection when he is called for death.
Pariksit Maharaj was preparing. It was not that his good soldiers, children, wife, country, or bank balance could protect him. No. Nobody can give any protection. For example, when you fly in the sky you have to protect yourself. And if you are crashing in the airplane, nobody—neither the birds or other airplanes—can save you. You have to come down. Similarly when death will come, nobody will be able to give You protection. You cannot say, "My good state, good family or bank balance or this or that will protect me." No. That's all. Finished. Sukadeva Gosvami is giving right instructions to Pariksit Maharaj. The rascaldom news of ordinary persons is not meant for hearing.
Therefore he concludes: Tasmad bharata sarvatma bhagavan isvaro harih srotavyah kirtitavyas ca smartavyas cecchatabhayam. Cecchata abhayam. If one is actually expecting that he shall be protected, there should be no more fearfulness. Sukadeva Gosvami is instructing that if you simply divert your attention to the varieties of newspaper or any other information of this world, which is for the grhamedhi, whose business is to sleep at night and work hard at daytime, that will not give you protection. What you have to do is hear about Bhagavan, hari isvara.
Sukadeva addresses Pariksit Maharaj as the descendant of Bharata. Pariksit Maharaj happened to be descendant of the Kuru dvnasty, which was begun from King Bharata. There are two or three Bharatas in the history of the Vedic literature. One Bharata is Lord Ramacandra's younger brother. Bharat's mother wanted to make him King. Therefore, by palace diplomacy, Ramacandra was sent to the forest. He was faithful to his brother, but by his mother's diplomacy Lord Ramacandra was sent to the forest. This is one celebrated Bharata. Another Bharata is the forefather of the Kuru dynasty. And another Bharata was the son of Rsabhadeva, by whose name this whole planet is called Bharatavarsa. Sukadeva is addressing Pariksit Maharaj as the descendant of King Bharata. He says, "You have to talk and hear about sarvatma, the supersoul sitting in everyone's heart. He is called Bhagavan, the Personality of Godhead, full with all opulences." Bhagavan, this word, every word of Srimad-Bhagavatam suggests volumes of meaning. And He is called Hari, which means He who can take away all your sufferings. And He's isvara, the supreme controller.
So instead of diverting your attention to the varieties of news of this world, you must always hear about Him. Hear, and then preach. After hearing, the next thing is spreading. Therefore, we have our disciples like Kirtanananda Maharaj who will preach. Pushing out the news of Krsna. First of all hearing, then spreading and thinking. Always be thinking, or else what will you preach? You hear, you think of it, you preach; this is the business. Those who are actually seeking protection in the bank balance, or in this or that—they will never succeed. Pariksit Maharaj was advised by Sukadeva Gosvami, "This is your business—become Krsna conscious." He was at the point of death. But you cannot take to this business all of a sudden. Even if it is advised. You must practice it. You cannot become a good soldier on the battlefield. You have to receive military training before going to the battle. So this Krsna consciousness movement is training, for when you ultimately meet death.
by Kirtanananda Swami
[Editor's note: This is the first of a series of eighteen essays on the chapters of Bhagavad-gita.]
Bhagavad-gita has sometimes been called the perfect theistic science. Actually Bhagavad-gita means "Song of God," but because it is a song sung by the Supreme Himself, it is also a science. There are many scriptures in the world, and as St. Paul said, "All scripture is given by inspiration and is profitable..." But that does not mean that there is not variation in scriptures. Some scripture is spoken by holy men or prophets, some is spoken by confidential agents, and some is spoken by God's son; therefore in the Christian Bible we will sometimes see that the words of Lord Jesus Christ are marked in red just to emphasize their importance.
Because this Gita or Song is coming directly from the Father, it has the greatest potency. In Bhagavad-gita, the words are actually the very words of the Father, Lord Sri Krsna. Secondly, Gita is the perfect theistic science because of the audience. Two factors are always important in any transcendental transmission: the speaker and the audience. In this case, the audience is Arjuna, Krsna's intimate friend and pure devotee. So since the speaker is perfect and the hearer is perfect, we can readily understand that the transmission is also perfect. Therefore we can expect to find in Gita the epitome of all scripture, and that is factually the case—whatever we find in some other scripture, we also find explained in Gita. Factually, of course, Arjuna is not in need of any teaching. Being and eternal associate of the Lord and a pure devotee, he is always in full knowledge. But for the sake of the conditioned souls who are in need of a perfect transmission, the Lord has chosen Arjuna to receive this message on the basis of that one qualification—"you are My devotee and My friend." (Gita, 4.3)
It is as if the Lord is purposely clouding the mind of Arjuna so that he will ask the questions which all beclouded living entities wish to ask. By Arjuna's asking questions for the benefit of all living entities, the Supreme Lord can give the answers that will save all His children and bring them back to their eternal position, back to home, back to Godhead. So two aspects of Gita are to be considered: one, Krsna, the Supreme Lord is speaking, and two, Arjuna, for the benefit of the conditioned soul, is hearing.
The way in which Arjuna understood Gita provides the standard for our understanding. Arjuna was actually present before the Lord, and his understanding is stated to have been correct. So if we can arrive at the same understanding that Arjuna had, we are assured of the same result, as if we were standing personally before Krsna. In fact, we will be standing personally before the Lord, for that is the nature of this supreme spiritual science: one who actually understands it comes into Krsna's presence—not in some theoretical sense, but actually, practically.
The First Chapter of the Gita is devoted to setting the scene. But this "setting the scene" is not peripheral to the meaning of the Gita. When one deals with transcendental literature, it must be understood that each and every word is transcendental and therefore absolute or infinite. As such, the whole import of the Gita can be understood at any point if we but try to understand in the perfect disciplic succession coming down from Arjuna. From the very first verse, the whole nature of the conflicts can be understood: Dhrtarastra said to Sanjaya, "After assembling in the place of pilgrimage at Kuruksetra, what did my sons and the sons of Pandu do, being desirous to fight?" (Gita, 1.1) First we may note that the question arises from the blind Dhrtarastra. Dhrtarastra is blind not merely physically, but spiritually; therefore he is full of perplexities. And the person he is addressing, Sanjaya, is the only person who can provide the answer. Sanjaya, as a bona fide disciple of Vyasa, has special vision, which alone can enlighten the blind. Unfortunately, Dhrtarastra does not ask a very profound question, or one that is ultimately very important. Instead, he is content to know the outcome of the battle at Kuruksetra. Materially minded men, even though in the presence of one who can bestow all transcendental knowledge, are content to know something in relation with this perishable body: either how to eat better, or sleep better, or defend better, or mate better. So Dhrtarastra is enquiring about Kuruksetra because the battle affects his sons. It is specifically mentioned that Kuruksetra is a holy place, a place of pilgrimage, and therefore the effect of such a sanctified place is troublesome to the old man. He has some suspicion that it may work against his sons—all of whom are equally blind spiritually—to the advantage of the righteous Pandavas. How would the battle come out? That was Dhrtarastra's only concern. This is further borne out in the next verses, where it is revealed that his sons have only this concern as well. They are looking over their forces and the forces of the opposition, trying to make some comparative estimate. They are calculating who has more strength, but from the way they calculate we can understand their true position. Calculation is all right—that is wise but how to calculate: that is the question.
So in the tenth verse, Duryodhana makes his estimate: "Our strength is immeasurable, and we are perfectly protected by Grandfather Bhisma, whereas the strength of the Pandavas, carefully protected by Bhima, is limited." These adjectives "immeasurable" and "limited" are very important. Like Mr. Worldly-minded, Duryodhana thinks that the outcome will be determined by the size of the forces involved. He sees that he has more men, a more experienced general, a superior phalanx arrangement, and greater military advisors. All these material calculations tell him "we will win," and so he is boasting that "our forces are immeasurable," whereas the Pandavas appear to him to be "limited." Even before the Battle of Kuruksetra, this shortsighted materialistic vision of Duryodhana was revealed when he was given the choice of having Lord Krsna's soldiers or Krsna Himself on his side. Krsna had promised to give one side only Himself and the other side His thousands of men, horses and equipment. Duryodhana quickly grabbed the many men, but Arjuna, for the Pandavas, desired only to have Lord Krsna drive his chariot. When the two sides, the Kurus and the Pandavas, approached Lord Krsna for help, Duryodhana, counting numbers, said, "Give me Your forces," but the Pandavas, knowing Lord Krsna to be the Supreme Person, said "Please be with us Yourself." So from the very beginning here we see that the atheists have no understanding of the person Krsna; they are more interested in His energy, or what He possesses and what He can bestow, than in Krsna Himself. But Arjuna knows Krsna, and he wants Him to be his chariot driver as well as his Lord and master.
All this is more elaborately explained in the accounts of the blowing of the trumpets, bugles and conchshells. "After that, the conchshells, bugles, trumpets and horns all suddenly vibrated simultaneously, and the sound was tumultuous. On the other side, both Lord Krsna and Arjuna ... sounded their transcendental conchshells." (Gita, 1.13-14) Again the same type of calculation is there: the Kurus' battle cry is tumultuous, physically it is overwhelming, materially it is deafening. But that is all. And on the other side there is simply the word "transcendental." Transcendental means that it has all of the potency of Krsna. Krsna is all powerful, and anything that He touches or is associated with is all powerful. Where Krsna is, the goddess of fortune is. So how can there be any hope of victory for the merely "tumultuous"? And actually this is so, for we read in verse nineteen, "The blowing of all these different conchshells became uproarious, and, vibrating both in the sky and on the earth, it shattered the hearts of the sons of Dhrtarastra." There is no indication that the tumultuous sound of the Kurus' disheartened the Pandavas, but it is very clearly stated that the "transcendental" sound of the conchshells shattered the hearts of the sons of Dhrtarastra.
As indicated in the very first verse, it is the characteristic of materialistic men to be always fearful, to be always in a state of uncertainty. "Oh, how will it come out?" But that is not true with Krsna's devotee, for the devotee who has Krsna by his side knows that Krsna is in control. "What does it matter whether the battle is successful or not? I am merely fighting by Krsna's side." For him there is no fear; he is residing with the Lord, who is the dispeller of all inauspiciousness. Certainly one who has taken shelter of the feet of Lord Sri Krsna has nothing to fear. Whereas the Kurus have put their faith in military might, the Pandava devotees have put their faith in the Personality of Godhead. This is the real import of the first half of the First Chapter of Bhagavad-gita.
As long as such confidence remains in the heart of a devotee, there is never any problem. But in the second half of the First Chapter, we find the difficulty that arises when the devotee seeks to emulate the practices of the atheist. For our benefit, a cloud of doubt begins to arise in Arjuna's mind. Therefore he tells Krsna, "Please place my chariot between the two armies so that I may see who is present here, who is desirous of fighting..."
(Gita, 1:21-22) Now Arjuna is making the same mistake that Dhrtarastra made, namely forgetting who is present before him, in this case, driving his very chariot. Arjuna is thinking, "Let me calculate. Let me see who is here. Let me use my eyes to see what is going on. Let me judge for myself." Then we can see that a whole string of perplexities follow, for after seeing all his friends and relatives assembled there for battle, he became overwhelmed with compassion and said: "My dear Krsna, seeing my friends and relatives present before me with such fighting spirit, the limbs of my body are quivering and my mouth is drying up." (Gita, 1.29) Actually this kind of compassion is very nice, and it is one of the qualities of a devotee.
The scriptures say that a devotee who has genuine faith in the Lord has all the good qualities to be found in the demigods, but a nondevotee has no good qualification, no matter how materially advanced he may be either through education or culture. But we shall see that Lord Krsna says that Arjuna's compassion is misguided; it is misdirected because it is not under the control of the Supreme. There is nothing wrong with any emotion (what to speak of compassion) if it is directed toward Krsna, or in Krsna's service. But no matter how fine the emotion or how elevated the sentiment, if it is not in the service of Krsna, then it is merely sense gratification—useless, if not harmful. Therefore we find that Arjuna's compassion was not in the service of Krsna, and consequently its result was not good: his body began to tremble, his hair began to stand on end, he could no longer hold his bow Gandiva, and he said, "I am forgetting myself, and my mind is reeling. I foresee only evil, O killer of the Kesi demon." (Gita, 1.31) By material calculation there could be only evil from such a situation, that is correct, but notice the pronoun: "I foresee." And in the next verse: "I do not see how any good can come from killing my own kinsmen in this battle." (Gita, 1.32) And again, "Nor can I, my dear Krsna, desire any consequent victory, kingdom, or happiness." (1.32) This whole calculation is based on "I." And what "I" is that? It is the "I" of the senses devoid of the consciousness that Hrsikesa, or Krsna, is the proprietor of the senses. Without knowing that one's self-interest is Krsna, the conditioned soul is attracted by the bodily relationships of this "I." And in such a condition, Arjuna could no longer remember his duty; nor could he remember his relationship to Lord Krsna.
If Arjuna had just remembered, "Oh, my dear friend Krsna is driving my chariot. Let Him take control. Let me simply be His servant," then there would have been no such question or doubt arising in his mind. Krsna is actually driving Arjuna's chariot, and yet because of his forgetfulness, Arjuna is questioning Him: "What will happen if I commit this sin? Surely I will go to hell."
There is a story that once Lord Krsna had a headache, and He proclaimed that nothing would cure it save the dust from a devotee's foot. So Narada was dispatched to find some dust, and he immediately went to some of the great demigods like Brahma, Siva, Indra, etc., but none would oblige him. They pleaded, "Oh, what would happen to me? What a great offense to put the dust of one's foot on the head of the Almighty Lord." So no one would give him any dust. Finally he went to the gopis, who, when they heard of Krsna's plight and His request, said, "Here, take this!" and immediately produced some dust from their feet. He asked them if they were not afraid of going to hell for this act, and they replied, "We'll go to hell. That's all right. But please take this to Krsna right away." That is the position of a devotee—he cares neither for heaven nor hell, simply the pleasure of Krsna. "Whatever Krsna wants is what I want." That is devotion. But when we forget, then we must make so many material calculations, just like Dhrtarastra, who wants to count his forces. He wants to see whether they're lined up properly; he is calculating the sound, "Oh, it is tumultuous!" But what about Krsna? The devotee only thinks about what Krsna wants. We will see, at the end of Bhagavad-gita, that this is the understanding that Arjuna reawakens to: "My dear Krsna, O infallible one, my illusion is now gone. I have regained my memory by Your mercy, and now I am fixed without any doubt, prepared to act according to Your instructions." (Bg 18.73) When we have reawakened to that platform, that Krsna is our Lord, that Krsna knows everything, that whatever Krsna wants, that we will do—then there is no more calculation, there is no more uncertainty, there is no more hesitancy to act for the Supreme. That is Krsna consciousness.
The following addresses of worship unto Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, were submitted by the students of Bhaktivedanta Swami, the foremost disciple of Bhaktisiddhanta. They were mailed to Prabhupada Bhaktivedanta on the Appearance Day of Bhaktisiddhanta, and Prabhupada has requested they all appear in BACK TO GODHEAD.
I humbly offer my most respectful obeisances to the divine lotus feet of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati on this blessed day, his appearance in this mortal world. O most divine representative of our Lord Sri Krsna, you have so mercifully sent our beloved Prabhupada, who has delivered us from the wretched sinful life we were engaged in. I have no words from this contaminated mouth with which to glorify your holy name. But I humbly offer my most sincere thank you for sending His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, our most blessed lord and saviour Prabhupada.
All glories to Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaj. All glories to Sri Guru.
Madhavananda dasa Brahmacari
I am just a particle of dirt that has been lustfully lingering in this material world since time immemorial in the darkness of nescience. Somehow or other I was blown by the wind and dropped in the infinite ocean of transcendental mercy of the disciplic succession. At this most auspicious time, I respectfully offer my most worthless obeisances at the divine lotus feet of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaj, whose divine teachings are eternally benedicting the fallen conditioned souls with the absolute transcendental message, love of God, Lord Sri Krsna. I only pray to Lord Krsna that I am always humble and submissive at the pure lotus feet of His Divine Grace and never give up the shade of his feet for the miserable existence of sense gratification and mental speculation that is ever tempting me, the most fallen.
Thank you, your Grace, for sending Prabhupada here, thus saving me from the most miserable condition of existence. All glories are unto you, O the spiritual master and servant of Sarasvati Gosvami. You are the deliverer of Lord Caitanya's message, and it was your divine order that sent our beloved Srila Prabhupada to deliver the western countries, which are full with impersonalism and voidism.
All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga!
All glories to Prabhupada's Guru Maharaj, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaj! Your servant,
Svarupa dasa Brahmacari
Bhaktivinode had one son whose name was Bhaktisiddhanta;
Our Prabhupada was reluctant to see him that day;
Saradia devi dasi
Prabhupada's Guru Maharaj
Sri Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur,
Lilasuka devi dasi
O venerated paramahamsa,
Karunamaya dasa Brahmacari
Jagat Nrsima Guru
Humble obeisances are due unto you O Prabhupada. You are spiritual master of this planet and you have come to the children of Kali yuga to replace a life worse than death with the yoga of ecstasy.
Remembrance in loving obeisance must always be given unto my grand spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami, who is always engaged in assisting the gopis of Vrndavana as the manjari. Because he is very dear to Govinda Gopala, he has come to establish Lord Caitanya's teachings of traditional Vaisnavism in preparation of Kali yuga's golden age.
O eternal ray of Krsna, O thou messenger of Govinda's flute,
Patit Uddharan dasa Brahmacari
Beloved Guru Maharaj
Giriraja dasa Brahmacari
All glories, all glories to Your Divine Grace
Dearest Guru Maharaj,
Please accept my most prostrated obeisances at your transcendental lotus feet time and time and time again. You have so kindly given me the opportunity on this most auspicious day—that of your appearance—to write this pitifully inadequate appreciation of your unlimited mercy. All glories, all glories to you. I am so very much indebted to you, for if it weren't for your causeless mercy, I wouldn't have come to Srila Prabhupada, my beloved spiritual master, or have known at all who is Krsna. Nor would I have had the strength to stay in Krsna consciousness. You are my guardian, my grandfather, and I know that you are always looking after me. I am so very fallen, but still you are always there to help me. You are always so mercifully answering my prayers.
I remember the eve of my initiation; my body was ill and I couldn't rest—doubting that initiation was the right thing. And so I was chanting Hare Krsna vigorously, praying to someone to please help me over this dilemma. And though I didn't know you (but had just once seen your picture), still I could feel your presence that night so strongly, and I know it was you who was guiding me.
After initiation, for some months I was still suffering from that most disgusting infection: impersonalism, and from within I knew that if I just prayed to you to give me strength to forget my past life I would see the form of Krsna as the Supreme Absolute Truth. And to this day I am still praying to you every evening: Your Divine Grace, please don't let me fall down, but help me to surrender myself cent per cent at the lotus feet of your spiritual son, Srila Prabhupada. And just looking at your picture, your erect unflinching posture, gives me all the strength I need to battle any impersonal calamities.
When I became agitated in mind due to sex impulse, again I prayed to you, the most perfect Brahmacari, for strength not to give in to bodily impulses, but instead fix my mind on the form of the Lord. Again you gave me sufficient strength. Whenever I have been very much distressed I have turned to you through prayer, and I know you are always with me and guiding me back home, back to Godhead. Eternally your most unworthy servant,
Aravinda dasa Brahmacari
I offer my most humble and respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of His Divinc Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, my spiritual master, who has come to the Western world, which is so full of voidness and impersonalism. He has come to deliver the benediction of Lord Caitanya's Krsna consciousness movement, under the direct order of His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur, our spiritual grandfather. He lives forever by his divine instructions, and the follower lives with him. Let us all become followers of His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada! While the mental speculators spend countless lifetimes licking the Bhagavad-gita bottle of honey, he has opened this bottle and distributed the Krsna consciousness honey to his confidential servitor. By the Divine Grace of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, unlimited numbers of fallen souls afflicted with skin disease can be fully liberated from all bodily misery and go directly back to Godhead, and nations of dead men have been revived and are now dancing and chanting in ecstasy. Against all opposition, he has definitely established that anyone from any part of the universe can become a qualified Gaudiya Vaisnava simply by following the regulative principles of devotional service. Thus he has sent His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to create Vaisnavas all over this planet. I pray for the mercy of the disciplic succession, that I may have a stout broomstick and a heavy shoe, with which to beat my rascal mind 100 times, morning and evening, so that I may have a chance for executing the sacred order of my beloved spiritual master. I pray to become their instrument.
Jayadvaita dasa Brahmacari
Prayer To Guru Maharaj
Oh grand spiritual master, please forgive me for this broken expression in my own words, unto you who is very dear to Radharani and beyond my contaminated understanding. One day in the hospital my spiritual master, your foremost disciple and spiritual son, said he didn't know Krsna, he just knew you, his Guru Maharaj. During those days he also offered flowers to a picture of you, and I could understand that when you accept it, it is as good as accepted by the Lord. It is now many years since your disciple who is now the acarya for the age, Bhaktivedanta Swami, first wrote, "The Lord is sentient thou hast proved, impersonal calamity thou has moved." He, the world's Prabhupada, is certainly now your most prominent, faithful son. He has captured the western world at your command. We, your grandchildren, joyfully sing Gauranga's praises where only yesterday we were drug-infested, obscene and miserable. How has he done this? He says, "I have done nothing extraordinary. I am following the instructions of my Guru Maharaj."
So in Prabhupada's example we see it is practically true: the sat guru is so potent that simply to do what he asks can conquer the world. And now we are engaged in stabilizing Krsna consciousness all over the world, and many are coming. It is as if we are trying to distribute a langero mango free of charge, and many are suspicious of love of God; but if we persist, as did our Prabhupada, then success is guaranteed. On your appearance day I simply pray, grandfather guru that you allow all Prabhupada's sons and daughters to remain steadfast at your feet, and let us, through thick and thin, remain the personal servants of Bhaktivedanta Swami, our eternal father. Please be kind to bless us in this way. All glories to Vaisnava Sampradaya! All glories to Simha Guru our learned guide!
Satsvarupa dasa Adhikari
Dear Guru Maharaj,
Please accept my humble obeisances at your lotus feet. You are known as Sringha Guru, and therefore the impersonalists were afraid to approach you. Two weeks before your disappearance from this mortal world you wrote one letter to Prabhupada instructing him to deliver the sublime teachings of Lord Caitanya to the west. Thousands of years of penances and austerities may not liberate a conditioned soul who has fallen into the dark well of material existence; but one word from the pure devotee, and he is at once freed. You saved Prabhupada from engagement in material affairs by honoring His Divine Grace with transcendental loving service of the dust of your lotus feet. He said you are like an ocean and have pulled him out of material existence. Now by your grace Prabhupada is the most powerful personality in the three worlds, as he can deliver the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
You were born in one place, Prabhupada was born in another, and we were born in still another, but Krsna has brought us all together to push on the sankirtana movement.
The grandfather takes better care of the children than the father, and therefore you must be even more merciful than our most merciful Prabhupada. So my dear Guru Maharaj, I only pray to you that in some birth I may develop a tiny fraction of the love for Prabhupada that he has for you. I pray that I may remain a tiny part in his gigantic plan of dragging all of us back to Godhead. Your servant,
Jadurani devi dasi
Dear Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada Maharaj,
Please accept my most humble obeisances at your lotus feet. On this day of your appearance, I want to please offer my prostrated obeisances to you again and again, for it is by your mercy only that I am having bestowed upon me the mercy of your beloved disciple, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, who is teaching me how to love the Supreme Lord, Sri Krsna. Before finding Prabhupada, I had nothing, and now, being given the opportunity to serve him, I have everything. Prabhupada has said so many times that he has come here to spread Krsna consciousness simply because you have ordered him to do so. So actually, I have you to thank for everything, for it is completely by your grace that Prabhupada has come here. So, please, on this day of your appearance, accept my repeated obeisances again and again and again. Always your servant,
Arundhati devi dasi
All glories to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami.
Prabhupada, you are like a touchstone,
Vaikunthanatha dasa Adhikari
When will this mind cease to reflect the horrors of my lust,
Dear Guru Maharaj, I beg to present my prostrated obeisances unto your divine lotus feet on this, your appearance day.
Sridama dasa Brahmacari
As I journeyed in a labyrinth of darkness with ignorance and passion at each step, and the glitter of maya as my only illusory refuge, I screamed for mercy, for a light of truth. Amidst this world of confusion and sleep I heard and echoed a sound that seemed to come from the remotest corner of my heart. It was Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, the holy mahamantra. By chanting and hearing, the maze dissolved, and in its place dawned the sweetest, purest, most glorious sense of eternal bliss and divine link with the all-attractive Supreme Personality, Lord Sri Krsna. And now by Krsna's causeless mercy, I am guided toward the supreme destination, back to Godhead. Thank you, Your Divine Grace, for saving me. Thank you for giving us Prabhupada. On this sacred day of your appearance, I muster all the gratitude of my unworthy self and offer obeisances unto your holy lotus feet.
Manmohini devi dasi
My dear Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaj,
We cannot hope to begin to praise you, and yet by the inconceivable mercy of your transcendental son, Bhaktivedanta Swami, we are writing these meager words for this auspicious day.
All glories, all glories, all glories to the Appearance of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati!
You come as the son of Bhaktivinode Thakur, just to show us what the transcendental product of household life should be.
You are eternally Brahmacari, and yet the numbers of children you have fathered are uncountable.
By your causeless grace upon the western world, so many souls from this land of license are entering the sublime path of bhakti, being so attracted to your beloved son.
Simply because he heard you, all the nectar of Krsna consciousness is flowing across oceans to our parched ears.
We do not know you, and yet you are caring for us even better than our own spiritual father.
So we are very much desirous of taking shelter at your lotus feet, but we are afraid to approach you, having not an ounce of austerity or intelligence. But because our spiritual master is so kind upon us, he is giving us the opportunity to address your holiness in this way. So may we appeal to you—help us keep ourselves for Krsna. We are so much a prey to the agitations of this mind-body, and you are the perfect master of the senses, so only you can help us look within for the treasure of our lives. Please pull us out of the mire or our ignorance, and even if you must drag us by the hair, kicking and screaming, like children balking at the sternness of their wise grandfather, please, please help us be ourselves again. Restore this battered consciousness to its natural condition.
We know that if you will be kind upon us, only then will Lord Nityananda cast His blissful glance over our unbowed heads. Since you are so dear to Srimati Radharani, help us heal these broken tools for Her service.
It is unto your lotus feet, O Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada Maharaj, the deliverer of the science of Krsna and the personified teachings of Lord Caitanya, that we offer our most respectful obeisances.
Despite these pitiable and unworthy appeals, may we be your eternal servitors.
Murari dasa Adhikari, Lilavati devi dasi, Subhadra devi dasi
Oh my dear Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada, you are the ocean of transparent mercy who has sent your loving disciple Srila Prabhupada to flood the world with Hare Krsna love of God vibrations.
We were demons envious of Krsna and unhappy, but now by your mercy Prabhupada has come and dissolved this madness with the magic wand of Sri Krsna Caitanya sankirtana. All glories to Your Divine Grace's lotus feet! All glories to he who is always serving at your lotus feet! All glories to Sri Sri Radha Krsna! Repeat! Repeat! Repeat!
Nanda Kisora dasa Adhikari, Jahnavadevidasi
All glories to you, Sri Bhaktisiddhanta, preceptor of Srila Prabhupada. Siddhanta Thou truly art the conclusion of the ripest fruit upon the Vedic tree. By your sweet grace you have set us free.
You the unflinching lion, who having quelled the maya-vadi's deathly trance, now a conquering hero, have taken the regal stance.
Your presence has outshone illusion's most deceptive maze, and your greatest gift has been to send us the shelter of Srila Prabhupada's unflinching gaze.
All glory to you, who are not different than Srimad-Bhagavatam.
All glory to you, nectarean moon, distributor of Visnu's rays.
I humbly bow at Srila Prabhupada's lotus feet, knowing that a father is most pleased when honor is given to his son, so kindly accept this worthless gift.
My service to parampara from now on.
Naranarayana dasa Adhikari
I beg to ask of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to kindly convey my humble obeisances unto the dust of the lotus feet of His Divine Grace Om Visnupada Paramahamsa Parivrajakacarya 108 Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Gosvami Prabhupada. Even my obeisances are worthless. But you purify everything by engaging it in Krsna's transcendental loving service, thus making a fallen soul such as I worthy to serve superior authorities. So therefore I am coming to you.
I am part and parcel of Krsna and eligible for going back to Godhead, but I am forgetful and in my ignorance I forget who I am and what the purpose of life is. Please force me, Prabhupada, to always remember my constitutional position. Please force me.
Brahmananda dasa Brahmacari
We offer our humble obeisances unto His Divine Grace Om Visnupada Paramahamsa Parivrajakacarya 108 Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaj.
Like a thunderbolt, His demeanor is straight and bold, fearless. His grace, like a rose, is soft and sweet. His spiritual son, Prabhupada, is merciful and kind. Please help us to know your mercy. Your ungrateful servants,
Sacisuta dasa Adhikari, Indumati devi dasi
Humble servants we are of Bhaktivedanta Gosvami, who presses holy head to your feet, the sheltering refuge. Oh the most regal lion guru, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati! You whose roaring of the message of Lord Caitanyadeva will pierce this dark jungle of Kali. Then the jackal that is our mind on hearing such a roar may run to relinquish the eatable thing it has stolen from the lion to enjoy in fearful secrecy. But we are calling in faint voices upon the mercy of your regal strength to catch the jackal and destroy him and take back your due, our eternal service unto your lotus feet, Oh most beloved Gurudeva.
Bharadraja dasa Adhikari, Rukmini devi dasi
Peculiar Canons Of Distaste
The materialistic demeanor will not insure
Uddhava dasa Adhikari
Sankirtana means singing and dancing about the glories of Krsna, the Supreme Personality of God. It is nothing manufactured or concocted; it is not a "new religion." The most ancient Vedic scriptures of India recommend that for the present Age of Quarrel, this simple method will be the only successful one for bringing God consciousness to the people in general. Actually, religion cannot be manufactured. Religion means to follow the codes or laws of the One without a second, the One God who is glorified by all the true religions of the world. Sankirtana was brought to the U.S. in 1966 by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, who has recently said, "Don't think that these boys and girls are dancing out of religious sentiment or fanaticism. We have the highest philosophical and theosophical background.'' The Hare Krsna movement is based on science and on the authority of the Vedas. But its beauty is that it is all simplified. The first result from chanting is that one becomes freed from all material misgivings by realizing his real self as eternal spirit soul. This means blissful, loving union with the all-blissful Godhead. One's whole body, mind and intelligence become joyful! It is guaranteed the sincere sankirtana chanter will feel symptoms of the highest ecstasy and the perfection of the human form of life: love of Godhead.
(The pictures on this page were taken at the Hare Krsna centers in New York City and Vancouver, British Columbia.)
Love Of God
One devotee has prayed, "O my Lord, at the time of death it will be so difficult to think of You, because my throat will be choked up in death rattle, and I may not have time to calm my mind from pain in order to think of You. So now, while I am in healthy frame of mind and blissfully chanting Your holy name, let me die at once." But Prabhupada has also said, "Death is not such a wonder, and it is life that's the constant wonder and this chanting is life.
So while the Hare Krsna chanters have solved the gravest problem of existence—the death problem—they are also free from all fearfulness and are enjoying the fullest extent of happiness in the here and now. Please chant this mantra!
These pictures were taken at the Hare Krsna centers in Berkeley and San Francisco, California
The Peace Formula
A hundred devotees from east coast Hare Krsna centers were present in Washington, D.C., during the mass peace demonstrations of November 15, 1969. Reference to the Godhead, a program which is completely ignored by the materialistic peace marchers, was energetically propagandized at the peace rally by the disciples of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. They distributed thousands of pamphlets of Prabhupada's essay "The Peace Formula," which presents the following practical propositions.
"The great mistake of modern civilization is to encroach upon other's property as though it were one's own, and to thereby create an unnecessary disturbance of the laws of nature. These laws are very strong. No living entity can violate them. Only one who is Krsna conscious can easily overcome the stringency of the laws of nature, and thus become happy and peaceful in the world.
"As a state is protected by the department of law and order, so the state of Universe, of which this earth is only an insignificant fragment, is protected by the laws of nature. This material nature is one of the different potencies of God who is the ultimate proprietor of everything that be. This earth is, therefore, the property of God, but we the living entities, especially the so-called civilized human beings, are claiming God's property as our own, under both an individual and collective false conception. If you want peace, you have to remove this false conception from your mind and from the world. This false claim of proprietorship by the human race on earth is partly or wholly the cause of all disturbances of peace on earth.
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
"Foolish and so-called civilized men are claiming proprietary rights on the property of God because they have now become Godless. You cannot be happy and peaceful in a Godless society. In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna says that He is the Supreme Lord of all universes, and that He is the well-wishing friend of all beings. When the people of the world know this as the formula for peace, it is then and there that peace will prevail. We therefore recommend that everyone become Krsna conscious by chanting: HARE KRSNA HARE KRSNA KRSNA KRSNA HARE HARE/ HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE."
—by Hayagriva das Adhikari
Lord Krsna has innumerable expansions. As far as Krsna Himself is concerned, there are six opulences which are always present—knowledge, wealth, fame, strength, beauty and renunciation. He has these opulences in totality, whereas created beings have them in part only.
In the world there have been men who have been considered very rich in knowledge—Socrates, Plato, Sir Isaac Newton, Galileo, Francis Bacon, Da Vinci, Einstein, etc. History has afforded us innumerable geniuses whose thoughts have profoundly affected human civilization and who have been considered very expert from the human point of view. But it is remarkable that in their own eyes they feel like dwarfs before the great storehouse of knowledge which governs nature. Isaac Newton used to consider himself to be no more than a little boy playing on the seashore and observing multicolored shells washed up on the beach. The shells were all he knew of what inhabited the inaccessible depths of that great ocean.
So no man can claim to have all knowledge. Even if a man has all knowledge about his particular field (indeed the more a man pursues a subject the more he realizes he knows nothing about it), he is still ignorant of other fields of knowledge. No one knows everything in this material world. Even the demigods, whose knowledge is fantastic from the human point of view have limited knowledge. Lord Brahma, for instance, creates this universe and so thoroughly knows every object in it, but when he rose out of the lotus flower springing from the navel of the Maha-Visnu, he looked about in total confusion and began to meditate to find out what he was, where he was, and why he was. So even his knowledge is limited. Lord Krsna says, "Neither the hosts of demigods nor the great sages know My origin, for, in every respect, I am the source of the demigods and sages." (Gita, 10.2)
It is only Krsna, the Supreme Lord, who has total knowledge of everything. He is the Self seated in the hearts of all. He is in the heart of the great Brahma and in the heart of the tiny atom. "O scion of Bharata, you should understand that I am also the knower in all bodies; and to understand this body and its owner is called knowledge; that is My opinion." (Gita, 13.2) The living entity is the knower of his particular body, but Lord Krsna is the supreme knower, proprietor and dweller in all bodies. Therefore, He is the super knower, the omniscient, the embodiment of total knowledge. He is both the knower and that which is to be known. He is addressed by Arjuna: "Knowing everything, You are all that is knowable." (Gita, 11.38)
There have been fabulously wealthy men in history and wealthy empires, but from the point of view of Krsna the total wealth of the earth is insignificant. The earth is merely one planet in a solar system, which is but one of sextillions of solar systems in the universe, which is only one of countless universes in the material creation, which is only a tiny cloudy spot in the all-pervading brahma-jyoti in which there are countless spiritual planets. And this brahma-jyoti is emanating from the body of Krsna. This effulgence is simply a by-product and is in no way His real opulence. So the wealth of the Supreme Godhead defies the imagination. Arjuna saw everything concentrated in His body on the battlefield. "Whatever you want to see, you can see in this body all at once," Krsna told him. (Gita, 6.7) Total wealth then means that He contains and owns everything.
All the demigods who are in charge of the various universes know and worship Krsna. Being the supreme omnipresence, He is known and extolled in all the three worlds. Though it may appear that some planets are ignorant of Him due to the influences of the age of Kali, His fame is total, and His countless names are chanted in all spheres.
The fame of any man or nation is temporary or illusory. Today we have completely forgotten the nations that dwelled on this earth only six thousand years ago, and because we have forgotten them, we claim that no civilizations were existing then, although man is known to have been walking upright on this planet for at least a million years. Yet man's vanity would have him think that his fame is eternal.
Like the other opulences, fame is incidental to Krsna. In the Vaikuntha planets hundreds of millions of Laksmis serve at His feet. "I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, the first progenitor, who is tending the cows, yielding all desire, who dwells in abodes built with spiritual gems, surrounded by millions of purpose-trees, and who is always served with great reverence and affection by hundreds of thousands of Laksmis or gopis." (Brahma-samhita, 5.29) Lord Krsna is the totality of everything. He is known in all the worlds, and so has total fame.
The average man has hardly the strength to lift his own weight. And at most his intelligence has only enabled him to detonate a hydrogen bomb which is not even able to destroy the earth. The strength of one who is able to lift all the worlds out of the Causal Oeean and drain that ocean itself is inconceivable. Upon seeing the splendor of the Lord's universal form, Arjuna extolls His might: "O great one, who stands above even Brahma, You are the original master. Why should they not offer their homage up to You, O limitless one, O refuge of the universe? You are the invincible source, the cause of all causes, transcendental to this material manifestation ... O limitless form, this whole cosmic manifestation has come from You ... I offer my respects from the front, from behind and from all sides. O unbounded power, You are the master of limitless might!" (Gita, 11.37, 38, 40)
In Srimad-Bhagavatam there are innumerable accounts of Lord Krsna's battles with great demons which celebrate the strength of the Lord. It is always notable that after playing with the demons for a while, He kills them easily in an off-handed manner. There are demigods whose strength is unlimited from the human point of view, but the strength and power of the demigods are insignificant compared to Krsna's. After giving a brief account of some of His opulences in the Tenth Chapter of the Gita, Krsna says, "But what need is there, Arjuna, for all this detailed knowledge? With a single fragment of Myself I pervade and support these entire universes." (Gita, 10.42)
So the Supreme Lord is asamardha, which means that no one is greater than Him because no creature can move without His aid, for He is the prime mover. "Furthermore, O Arjuna, I am the generating seed of all existences. There is no being—moving or unmoving—that can exist without Me." (Gita, 10.39) Being the strength in all beings, He is therefore the embodiment of total strength.
The absolute beauty of Krsna is sung in praises by great sages who incarnate themselves as cowherd girls (gopis) in order to enjoy loving exchanges with Him. His supreme original form, as exhibited in the forests of Vrndavana, is that of a youth of around sixteen years of age. He descended on earth as the embodiment of love, all spiritual in essence, and He attracts men, women, and all that move and move not. He comes with laughter and with loving glances, and He wears brilliant yellow cloth and garlands and plays His flute. In the forests of Vrndavana He sports with the cowherd girls, the gopis, who worship Him with the holy sentiment of transcendental love. Since He is love incarnate, He enchants even the heart of the God Narayana, and the divine Laksmi transformed herself into the hairs on His chest so that she can always be near His heart.
It is stated in the Caitanya-caritamrta that Krsna is so supremely lovely that He attracts Himself and even desires to embrace His own form. Upon seeing the beauty of His fresh, youthful, brightly shining limbs reflected upon a pillar of pearls, He yearned for Himself like Radha. "I bestow joy to all," He says, "but who can bestow joy upon Me?" His love's power instills joy, and Radha is the essence of this love.
The body of Krsna is the figure of beauty itself. It is tinged with color of blue clouds. The bottoms of His hands and feet are pink. His torso is bare, but from His neck hangs a garland of flowers, beautified with a locket in the shape of the moon. From His waist a cloth of dazzling gold hangs in folds. His flowing black hair reaches His shoulders. He wears a golden, bejeweled crown topped by peacock feathers. His eyes are as large as the petals of a full blown lotus, and His hands and lips play lightly upon a flute. Being the embodiment of supreme absolute beauty, He is ultimate majesty and beauty, perfect in every respect. His eternal form is incomparable and is worshiped throughout the creation. His very name, Krsna, means He who attracts everyone.
In Lord Caitanya, a play written by this author and based on the Caitanya-caritamrta, Lord Caitanya praises the beauty of the Lord in this way: "His beauty is an ocean of nectar whose waves flood the arid hills of the soul. His words delight the ear. His arms and legs surpass the coolness of a thousand moons. Oh, His beauty enchants my senses so! How sweet the fragrance of His lips! My five senses ride my mind like a horse and drive the mind at once five different ways. And He dances through my mind, and my mind, overjoyed, responds to Him, His speech, His touch, and my mind is ridden to madness, death. Yet I cannot blame my senses, for the Lord attracts them so. Oh, the waves of His beauty cover the mountains of my yearning soul! His speech ravishes my ears with mischief, and His touch, O His touch is cool, and His limbs, so fragrant, soft, strong, intoxicating, surpass the color of the blue lotus. His lips mixed with the sweet camphor of His smile grow sweeter. His color is sweeter than the nimbus, and His cloth brighter than lightning. What autumnal moon compares to His face covered with locks of hair? Rainbows of peacock feathers crown His head, and stars wreath His neck like pearls. Oh, the Lord kills the gopis with love. His chest is broad and high, and small hairs adorn it. These hairs are Goddess Laksmi who transformed herself to dwell always on His breast. And this breast is a robber who steals a trillion hearts. Oh, He enchants the gopis with shining cheeks and crocodile shaped rings hanging from His ears and His sharp side glances full of smiles. Yes, He is a clever hunter and they His prey whom He kills at will. And His arms are soft but strong and lethal as blue cobras, for they pry open the doors of the soul and inject the painful venom of love. Even the god of love now pines for Him."
In the Bhagavad-gita Arjuna tells Krsna, "You are the unborn and all pervading beauty." (Gita, 10.12) Therefore, all beauty that is seen in the material world is but a reflection of that absolute beauty existing in Krsna.
In the Tenth Chapter of the Gita, Arjuna says that "neither the gods nor demons, O Lord, know Thy personality. Indeed You alone know Yourself by Your potencies." (Gita, 10.14, 15) He then requests Krsna to tell him in detail of His divine powers by which He pervades all the worlds and abides in them. Lord Krsna replies, "Yes I will tell you of My splendorous manifestations; but only of those which are prominent, O Arjuna, for My opulence is limitless." (Gita, 10.19) Lord Krsna then proclaims that He is the self seated in the hearts of all and is the beginning, middle and end of all creatures. After establishing this, He begins to enumerate specific incarnations and phenomena which is He Himself. He mentions demigods, animals and natural wonders like the Himalayan Mountains and the Ganges. Among all living entities in the world, He is the greatest. He is wind, death, fire, unexhaustible time, the spiritual science of the self, the flower-bearing spring, splendor, victory and adventure, the generating seed of all existences, the rod of chastisement, statesmanship, silence, wisdom, the holy fig tree, the ocean, the thunderbolt, the monarch among men, the greatest among elephants and serpents and other animals, and so on. At the conclusion of this brief account of some of His opulences, He says, "O mighty conquerer of enemies, there is no end to My divine manifestations. What I have spoken to you is but a mere indication of My infinite opulences. Know that all beautiful, glorious and mighty creations spring from but a spark of My splendor." (Gita, 10.40-42)
The sixth opulence of Krsna is perhaps the most awe inspiring. It is renunciation—the opulence by which the Lord can reject all others. "There is nothing whatever that is higher than I. Everything rests upon Me as pearls are strung on a thread." (Gita, 7.7) And like a string of pearls, all of Krsna's opulences can be taken off and thrown away while Krsna remains complete in Himself. Lord Krsna is much more than the sum total of His creation. "In My transcendental form I pervade all this creation. All things are resting in Me, but I am not in them. Yet, everything that is created does not rest on Me. Behold My mystic opulence. Although I am the maintainer of all living entities and although I am everywhere, still My self is the very source of creation." (Gita, 9.4,5)
Being the embodiment of perfect renunciation, as taught in the Gita, Lord Krsna creates everything in a spirit of detachment. "The whole cosmic order is under Me. By My will is it manifested again and again, and by My will is it annihilated in the end. O Dhananjaya, all this work cannot bind Me. I am ever unattached, seated as though neutral." (Gita, 9.8, 9) Also in the Fourth Chapter Lord Krsna says that works do not defile Him because although He creates everything, He has no yearning for the fruits of His creation. One who knows the nature of His creation and of His renunciation is not bound by works.
The hand of the Lord is in every sphere of activity, yet He remains neutral. In the Brahma-samhita it is said, "The lord of Gokula is the transcendental Supreme Godhead, the own self of eternal ecstacies. He is the superior of all superiors and is busily engaged in the enjoyments of the transcendental realm and has no association with His mundant potency." (Brahma-samhita, 5.6) The material nature, which is a perverted reflection of the spiritual potency, is located on the other side of the river Viraja which surrounds the Brahman-dhama which is the boundary of Maha-vaikuntha. It is said that material nature is actually ashamed to appear before Lord Krsna, and when He wishes to create through material nature He does not mingle with her but simply glances her way. "Krsna never consorts with His illusory energy. Still her connection is not entirely cut off from the absolute truth. When He intends to create the material world, the amorous pastimes in which He engages by consorting with His own spiritual (cit) potency, Rama, by casting His glance at the deluded energy in the shape of sending His time-energy, is an auxiliary activity." (Brahma-samhita, 5.7) Therefore the material creation has only indirect contact with Krsna. It is the cit potency that carries His glance to the inferior energy. Lord Krsna is therefore complete within Himself. All of His opulences can be renounced totally at any moment, and in no way by such renunciation is He any the less. This is the meaning of total renunciation.
Simply by studying the opulences of Krsna one can become a mahatma, a great soul. These opulences are described in detail in the various Vedic literatures—in the Gita, the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Caitanya-caritamrta, Brahma-samhita and so on. The results of such studies are quickly perceived. One immediately comes to understand that Krsna is the factual proprietor of everything and that the highest benefit derived is love for Krsna Himself. "He who knows in truth this glory and power of mine engages in unalloyed devotional service. Of this there is no doubt. I am the Source of everything; from Me the entire creation flows. Knowing this, the wise worship Me with all their hearts." (Gita, 10.7, 8)
Understanding how things exist as separate from Krsna is of no value. The knowledge, wealth, fame, strength, beauty and renunciation of a man who is unaware of Krsna are worthless. One must come to understand that all these things exist in the Supreme Lord and that they are His gratuitous opulences. By studying the opulences of Krsna we can come to understand why He is worthy of our worship. We may adore the beauty, wealth, fame, knowledge, strength or renunciation of a person, but when we come to understand that these are only fragmental and that Krsna is the source of all of them, then we direct our adoration to Krsna. Thus our thoughts should always dwell in Krsna. We can become completely satisfied only by thinking of Him, surrendering our lives to Him and speaking of nothing but Him. "The thoughts of the wise men dwell in Me. Their lives are surrendered unto Me, and they derive great satisfaction and bliss enlightening one another and conversing about Me." (Gita, 10.9) The wise are always so engaged because Krsna is their all in all. Therefore the truly wise are the most opulent, for they belong to Krsna and Krsna belongs to them.
—by Satsvarupa das Adhikari
If you have read or heard even a small sampling of the vast Vedic literature, you have come upon the name of Narada, who is depicted on the back cover of this issue of Back to Godhead. He is a great bhakta (devotee) of the Supreme Lord Narayana, or Krsna. Etymologically analyzed, nara means of Narayana or the Lord (Krsna), and da means deliverer. Narada is the deliverer of the Lord and the Lord's message. Of course there are countless preachers, gurus, evangelists, mendicants and religious representatives traveling all throughout this planet, but Narada Muni is eminently distinguished. His pupils include the greatest devotees. Also, he is not restricted to one planet, but has the facility to travel to any part of the universe without the aid of a spaceship. Most importantly, Narada teaches the topmost process of God realization—bhakti, devotion to God—and he is coming in the unbroken line of disciplic succession originating with the Supreme Lord Himself. These qualifications of the sage Narada are described in Vedic literatures such as Srimad-Bhagavatam, Ramayana, etc., where Narada is called the eternal spaceman.
Long ago, as will be described here, Narada attained the spiritual perfection of liberation from the round of birth and death in the material world. He is thus eternally unconditioned, existing in his eternal, spiritual body. In this way, he is almost as good as the Supreme Lord Himself. Narada is the deliverer of the Hare Krsna mantra, called the mahamantra or Great Chanting for Deliverance. He is described: Narada Muni bajaya vina radhika ramana name. "Narada Muni plays the vina chanting Hare Krsna." The Hare Krsna mantra—Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare—is the potent benediction for the present spiritually deprived age, Kali Yuga, in which other spiritual processes are not possible. The Srimad-Bhagavatam, First Canto, Chapter 6, text 34, states: "It is personally experienced by Narada Muni that for persons who are always full with cares and anxieties on account of desiring contact of the senses with sense objects, constant chanting of the transcendental activities of the Personality of Godhead is just the suitable boat for crossing the ocean of nescience."
Most people in this age are not very serious about spiritual advancement and cannot undertake rigorous, austere disciplines, but anyone can chant Hare Krsna or simply hear about Krsna. Not only can Narada travel wherever the Lord desires him to go, carrying the first-class spiritual process, bhakti (devotional service), but he is an especially empowered authority who can convince the most fallen. In Teachings of Lord Caitanya, Caitanya Mahaprabhu reveals Narada Muni as an avatara of the saktyavesa category. Narada is not considered the Personality of Godhead Himself, but he is directly empowered with an opulence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in order to carry out the Lord's will. Narada, then, is technically a saktyavesa avatara potent with the opulence of devotion. The basis of his teaching is expressed in Narada-bhakti-sutras and Narada-pancaratra. Narada explains that nobody can check the thinking, feeling and willing activities of the individual. Therefore, if someone is desirous of getting out of the frustrating, death-bound life of material consciousness, he must change the subject matter of his activities, which is not to say he must renounce them. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, as spiritual master in disciplic succession from Narada, writes: "Instead of talking in politics of a dying man, one may discuss the politics administered by the Lord Himself; instead of relishing the movie actors he may turn his attention to the activities of the Lord with His eternal associates, the gopis." Narada recommends bhakti, or activities of the purified senses, as the process by which one can cross the ocean of birth and death, the source of all miseries, and be promoted to the transcendental position. We are already thinking, feeling and willing; if we simply begin to think, feel and will on behalf of Krsna, under the guidance of a spiritual master, then we will at once feel transcendental ecstasy and reject the material platform of life. He assures us from his own experience that devotional service activities will be successful. It is advised that we can experience the same success as Narada if we begin to follow the path of bhakti in the footsteps of this great sage, who is the dearmost devotee of the Lord.
In the First Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Narada Muni relates to his pupil Vyasadeva the incidences of his previous birth, before he became the immortal sage we all know as Narada: "O Muni [Vyasadeva], in my past life, during the last millennium, I was born as the son of a certain maidservant engaged in the service of brahmanas who were following the principle of Vedanta. When they were living together during the four months of the rainy season I was engaged in their personal service." In his previous life, then, Narada was engaged in devotional service at the earliest age. Lord Krsna says that to do service for His servants is more valuable than direct service to Himself. Narada's parentage was insignificant as his mother was just a maidservant. Narada was automatically given the most rare opportunity of rendering personal service to devotees of the Lord. Because some holy brahmanas were used to staying at the place where his mother was a servant, Narada, at less than five years of age, was in contact with them, and thus his door to liberation was opened. He states that the devotee brahmanas blessed him with their causeless mercy. They found this poor boy to be without any attachment to sporting habits; he was not naughty, nor did he speak more than required. Thus, although the devotees are impartial by nature, they were able to shower their full downpour of mercy in the form of transcendental knowledge and devotional service onto this uneducated young boy.
The boy Narada's association with the pure devotees was consummated the moment he took up the remnants of their foodstuff. By so doing, all his sins were at once eliminated. As servant, the boy was cleaning up for the devotees, and noticing some remnants of food on their plates he asked their permission to take, and they of course encouraged him. As pure devotees, these bhakti-vedantas (knowers of Vedanta through devotional service) ate only prasadam, or foodstuffs which are first offered to the Supreme Lord with prayers. It is understood that prasadam is not ordinary food, but once accepted by the Lord it becomes as good as the Lord Himself, by His mercy. So the boy took this mercy of the bhakti-vedantas and became infected with their qualities of purity. Having associated with them, and having once eaten the remnants of their food, Narada advanced into transcendental life.
He then began to hear from them about the absolute truth. This is the way in which Narada gained eternal life, unlimited knowledge and unfathomed bliss, with facility to travel anywhere in the material worlds. Simply by hearing attentively authentic information about the Personality of Godhead from a bona fide authority, all his past sins were cleaned off and he was liberated from mundane association. Narada relates to his pupil Vyasadeva: "O Vyasadeva, in that association and by the mercy of the great Vedantists describing the attractive activities of Lord Krsna, I purified my aural reception. Thus hearing attentively, step by step my taste for hearing of the Personality of Godhead became manifest."
Our spiritual master has told us many times that love of God is natural, original with us; however, due to our false attraction to the perishable material world and illusion of the body as our self and material things as our possessions, this consciousness is now dormant. So the wonderful change that occurs by chanting Hare Krsna or hearing about Krsna's activities is not an artificial imposition on the mind, but is the natural return to our original consciousness. We may not be able to completely realize this at first, but very quickly the consciousness of the sincere chanter changes, and his material anxieties and desires fade away. Narada described how he developed definite realization of the Personality of Godhead as the absolute reality and how his attention became uninterrupted in hearing about the Lord. By hearing about the absolute, one becomes associated with the supreme light which dissipates all ignorance. The bhakti-vedantas were never speaking mundane topics of politics or sensuous affairs before Narada; nor were they teaching him negative concepts of reality, such as speculations on the concept of void or the impersonal aspect of the absolute truth. They were constantly engaged in chanting about the pastimes of the Personality of Godhead, who possesses inconceivable potencies; and by submissively hearing, the son of the maidservant felt his ignorance being removed.
Our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, writes: "By ignorance only the conditioned soul wrongly thinks that he is a product of the material nature and that the Personality of Godhead is also a product of matter. But in fact, the Personality of Godhead and the living being are transcendental and have nothing to do with the material nature When nescience is removed, then it is perfectly realized that there is nothing existing without the Personality of Godhead. As the gross and subtle bodies are emanations from the Personality of Godhead, the revival of transcendental knowledge permits one to engage both of them in the service of the Lord." The gross body can be engaged in rendering service, cleaning the temple, distributing Krsna conscious literature and bowing down in the temple, and the subtle mind can hear and think of the transcendental pastimes of the Lord. The realization by which one can change his activities into transcendental activities develops without apprehension in execution of the bhakti path. Narada grasped this at once by his superior attraction for the Supreme Personality of Godhead—through the most effective method of hearing from pure souls. As Narada tells it, "The flow of my devotional service began." Devotional service is natural to everyone, but it is choked up and suspended due to our being covered by modes of passion and ignorance. In Narada's case, the pure sound vibration of unadulterated devotees speaking the glories of the Supreme Lord at once removed the material coverings and his devotional service thus began. Or in other words, the eternal being who was residing in the body of the maidservant's son woke up, and the ultimate goal—love of God—became manifest in his heart. Narada's position before his teachers is a model for the disciple who wishes to attain success even within one lifetime: "I was very much attached to the bhakti-vedantas. I was gentle in behavior, and all my sins became eradicated in my heart. I had strong faith in them; I had subjugated the senses and was strictly following the bhakti-vedantas with body and mind."
Eventually the rainy season and the autumn passed, and the bhakti-vedantas left the place where Narada and his mother were living. But the confidential part of knowledge, devotional service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, had been implanted in Narada's heart. Knowledge of the absolute truth—permanent and blissful behind all temporary shows—is not a cheap or easily attainable thing. According to the Bhagavad-gita, out of millions of men one may know the absolute truth, the Personality of Godhead.
When the immortal sage Narada told these things to Vyasadeva, his disciple became anxious to know how the boy passed the duration of his previous life and how he finally quit his body and attained a spiritual body of sac-cid-ananda (eternal life, bliss and knowledge) as Narada Muni the eternal spaceman. Narada related that after his initiation by the bhakti-vedantas there was a tangible change in his life, but as he was only five years old and the only child of his mother, he was bound to her with the tie of affection. Instead of being dependent on the Supreme Lord who is the only independent controller, the boy was dependent on his mother's care, and she looked after him as if she were his maintainer. But Narada relates: "Once upon a time the poor woman, my mother, while engaged in milking a cow at night, was fatally bitten on the leg by a serpent as influenced by the supreme time." In this way, the sincere soul who was being looked after by his mother had her withdrawn from the world by the supreme will, and he was thus put completely at the mercy of the Lord. "I took it as the special mercy of the Lord, who always desires benediction for His devotees. Thinking in this way, I started for the northern side." This may seem surprising: a five-year-old boy, suddenly left all alone in the world, takes it as an auspicious direction from God. We find that most people when they are put into natural frustration and loss bewail the cruelty of their plight and even presume to be critical of the absolute will. But the devotee sees in every step the special mercy of the Lord. Bewailing our material losses is due to our ignorance of the real purpose of human life.
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami has written on this point: "Mundane prosperity is a kind of material fever and by the grace of the Lord, the feverish material temperature of the devotee is gradually diminished and spiritual health is obtained step by step." So the orphaned boy at once took the daring step of making God his only shelter and maintainer. He did not spend time trying to make some economic adjustment for his future comfortable living, but he took to traveling. "I passed through many flourishing metropolises, towns, villages, animal farms, mines, agricultural lands, valleys, gardens and forests. I passed alone through many forests full of pipe, bamboo, sharp grass, weeds and caves difficult to go through alone. I visited the dangerous, fearful forests deep and dark, the play-yards of snakes, owls, jackals." The boy was not making a whimsical youth's journey by these travels. It is the duty of a mendicant to have experience of all varieties of God's creation. This is called parivrajakacarya, to travel alone through all forests, hills, towns, etc., to gain faith in God and strength of mind, as well as to enlighten the inhabitants with the message of God. In the present age this is not possible for the ordinary man, but it was possible for Narada, who was finishing his last lifetime before his liberation.
"After that, under the shadow of a banyan tree in a forest without any human habitation, I began to meditate upon the supersoul situated within myself, using my intelligence as I learned by hearing from liberated souls. With my mind transformed into transcendental love I began to meditate upon the lotus feet of the Personality of Godhead. Tears rolled down from my eyes, and immediately the Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krsna, appeared on the lotus of my heart." It is understood that Narada was not performing a concocted meditation, but he had received knowledge from authoritative sources on how to meditate on the supersoul who is dwelling within every living being. There are five stages of transcendental development leading to love of God described in the Narada-bhakti-sutra. The first is called sraddha, or an initial interest in or liking for the Supreme Lord. After that, one practices the prescribed rules and regulations of devotional service which clear away misgivings and personal deficiencies. Then one develops firmness, or standard faith in the reality of transcendental life; then comes attraction, and then bhava, the stage prior to unalloyed love of God. Narada Muni in his previous birth was able to attain the highest stage shortly after his departure from home. The tears from his eyes indicate his feelings of separation in transcendental love for the Personality of Godhead, after which he actually was able to perceive the actual presence of the Lord by his developed spiritual senses. A.C. Bhaktivedanta writes of spiritual ecstasy such as that perceived by Narada: "Spiritual feelings of happiness and intense ecstasy have no mundane comparison. Therefore it is very difficult to give expression to such feelings. We can just have a glimpse of such ecstasy in the words of the pure devotees." "O, Vyasadeva, at that time, being exceedingly overpowered by feelings of happiness, every part of my body became lucid being absorbed in the ocean of ecstasy."
Narada describes the form of the absolute truth as he saw Him: "The transcendental form of tht Lord, as it is, is perfectly apt to the desire of the mind." Narada did not experience the Lord as formless, but His form is not like anything in this material world. It is described that all the differently cut and shaped forms that we are seeing all through our life do not banish all our mental disparity and dissatisfaction. But the special feature of the transcendental form of the Lord is that once it is seen, one is satisfied forever, and no material form holds any more attraction for the seer. So the Lord's form is like nothing we see now in matter. Another great devotee, Maharaj Pariksit, was able to see the form of Krsna even while he was in his mother's womb. On being born into the world, Pariksit (the word means "examiner") was always looking this way and that way, his eyes bulging to see again the form of the Lord among all the unsatisfying forms and shapes of the material atmosphere.
Narada saw the form of God, he was completely satisfied in his being, and then the same form was no longer present to his vision. "Not seeing that form again, I suddenly got up, being perturbed in mind, as it happens when one loses that which is desirable." Desiring more than anything to see again the form of the Lord, Narada tried to concentrate his mind on his heart, but he could not see Him anymore, and so became grief-stricken. Srila Prabhupada writes: "There is no mechanical process to see the form of the Lord. It completely depends on the causeless mercy of the Lord. Just as the surf rises out of its own accord, the Lord also is pleased to be present out of His causeless mercy. One should simply wait for the opportune moment and go on discharging the prescribed duty in devotional service of the Lord."
Not at Narada's command, but by that same causeless mercy, the transcendental Supreme Personality of Godhead, seeing Narada's attempt in a lonely place, spoke unto him, just to mitigate his grief. "O Narada, I regret very much that during this lifetime, you will no longer be able to see Me. Those who are incomplete in service or still immature in being freed from all material dirt can hardly see Me. O virtuous one, you have only once seen My Person. This is just to increase your hankering for Me, because the more you desire Me, the more you will be freed from material desire. By service of the absolute truth even for a short time, a devotee's intelligence becomes fixed firmly on Me. As a result he goes on to become My associate in the transcendental world after giving up the present deplorable material worlds. Intelligence engaged in My devotion can never be defeated at any time. Even at the time of creation, as well as at the time of annihilation, your remembrance will continue by My mercy." How wonderful is the devotee Narada, that the Lord, the supreme authority personified by sound, unseen, spoke to him, seeing him so sad for lack of the Lord's presence! Again, this is the special gift of Narada, and the ordinary devotee, what to speak of the non-devotee, should not claim to have access to the voice of the Supreme Lord. We are so puffed up and presumptuous in matters of the absolute truth, although it is the field of endeavor which, more than any other, requires us to give submissively and humbly aural reception to the bona fide authorities. For this age the authoritative Vedic literature recommends the sound vibration of the Lord's holy name, Hare Krsna, which is as good as the personal presence of the Lord. If this were not so—that the Lord is present Himself when His name is uttered—then how could He be considered absolute? Absolute means that He is present in His name, His fame, and His devotee. If we wish to exchange transcendental love with the absolute truth we have to qualify ourselves by the purifying process of chanting His holy name. There is no difficulty on His part in coming to us when He wills. It may be very difficult for an ordinary subject to get an audience with the king; but if the king desires to see any citizen, what is the difficulty in his coming? As Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, spiritual master of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta, said, "Don't ask to see God, rather act in such a way that God can see you." Such elevated standard—the perfection of human life—is easily attained by constant chanting and associating with devotees and the first result of this process is the loss of misgivings. Misgivings means lamenting over something lost and hankering for something we don't have. These vanish when the superior taste derived from executing spiritual devotional service begins under the authorized spiritual master.
Blessed all along and taking each occurrence as an opportunity to increase his hankering for the Lord, the servant boy who was to become Narada finished the days of his life in chanting and remembering the pastimes of Sri Krsna and in traveling for distributing the Lord's message of back to Godhead, with no thought of material gain.
In the course of time, while fully absorbed in thinking of Krsna, Narada reached that point, commonly called death, when the change of body suddenly occurs. Narada told his pupil: "Being freed from all material taints, I met with death just as lightning and illumination occur simultaneously." It is told further that just as the illumination follows the lightning, the devotee changed his material body after death and evolved a spiritual body by the will of the supreme. The material body is a product of karma, earned by our accumulation of material desire, action and reaction. It is temporary and subject to miseries, and it is unenlightened. The spiritual body residing dormant within the material body, is eternal, blissful and in full knowledge. It is understood from authorized scriptures that even while in the material body, a pure devotee's body becomes surcharged with spiritual energy by the constant engagement of his senses in the service of the transcendental eternal Lord. It is like an iron rod in contact with fire: after a while the iron rod acts not like iron, but like fire. The material body is afflicted with inebrieties and is taken on by the living entity as a result of his desires to enjoy temporary sense gratification, without understanding his real position—that he is eternal servant of the Lord and meant to please His senses. Therefore when the devotee's body becomes engaged in devotional service he becomes surcharged with the transcendental qualities. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami writes on this important matter, so often misunderstood by neophytes: "Change of the body means stoppage of the reaction of the qualitative modes of material nature (goodness, passion and ignorance) upon the person of a pure devotee. There are many instances in the revealed scriptures where Dhruva and Prahlada and many other devotees were able to see the Personality of Godhead face to face apparently in the same body. This means the quality of a devotee's body changes from material affinity to transcendence. By the mercy of Krsna the devotee becomes exempt from the karmic reactions of his work." In order to understand how the body of a devotee becomes spiritualized, we have to understand that consciousness is the sign of life. The sensation you have when you are pinched means you have consciousness. This consciousness, which is spread all over the body, is eternal, though the body of flesh and blood is perishable. Consciousness is a symptom of the presence of the soul, which is located in the heart. This is confirmed in the Upanisads and Bhagavad-gita. If an ordinary conditioned human being meets a pure devotee and his consciousness is changed from the polluted desire to enjoy with the body, and he instead starts to use the body as a vehicle for service in Krsna consciousness, then his body becomes spiritualized. Any material object, a telephone, a typewriter, becomes spiritualized if used in the direct service of Krsna consciousness for propagating the Lord's transcendental message. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami has written that, in the eye of the Supreme Lord Krsna, the body of the converted or reclaimed devotee who has changed his standard of consciousness from material to Krsna consciousness is as good as the eternal spiritual body of a jiva in the spiritual sky who has never fallen under the conditioned state. The example Srila Prabhupada has given is that of a gold box and a gold-plated box. The gold box is compared to those who have never fallen to the material world. But once a fallen soul takes a bona fide spiritual master and becomes one hundred percent engaged in devotional service, then he too becomes liberated, even while remaining in the present body and he is thus compared to a gold-plated box. The Lord accepts the gold-plated box as equal to and as good as the gold box.
Narada describes his position then to Vyasadeva: "At the end of the millenium, when the Personality of Godhead Lord Narayana lay down in the water of devastation, Brahma began to enter into Him along with all creative elements, and I also entered through His breathing. After expiration of a period of 4,300,000 x 1000 years when Brahma awoke to create again by the will of the Lord, all the rsis like Marici, Angira, and Atri were created from the transcendental body of the Lord, and I also appeared along with them." Narada's entrance into the body of the Lord at the time of annihilation and re-entrance into the material cosmos occur in the same transcendental body, which is described as being just like the Lord's, without any difference between body and soul. Therefore when Narada appears in the universe as the son of Brahma, born from his heart, it is understood that this is not the forced birth of a conditioned entity, but a transcendental pastime of the devotee. Narada's appearance and disappearance in the world are in the same category of transcendence as that of the Lord, who appeared on the earth as the son of Vasudeva.
Narada Muni is brahmacari, living the order of celibacy without the complication of family life. He is the greatest emblem of devotional service and therefore the most learned. And he is worshipable. Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita, "Among sages I am Narada." His vina is charged with transcendental sound and was handed to him by Lord Sri Krsna, as stated in the Linga Purana. The vina is therefore identical with Krsna, and the glories of the absolute truth as chanted by Narada are also nondifferent from the Lord. Therefore the presence of Narada means Lord Krsna is present.
Narada is called the original spiritual master. His disciples, surrendered souls who first heard Krsna consciousness from his lips, include Vyasadeva, the compiler of all the Vedic scriptures, Valmiki, the author of the Ramayana, Dhruva Maharaj, Prahlada Maharaj, and many others.
"Thus I travel, constantly singing the glories of the Lord." Narada is traveling, vibrating his instrument, the vina, by his own free will. He is not being forced. His devotional service is free; he offers it out of his free will and he is free to travel when he likes. By his surrender unto the Lord he has attained complete freedom of life. The illusion of persons in the material world is that they are free, whereas actually they are bound up by the stringent laws of nature. We can only try to imagine, at this point, the unlimited freedom of Narada, whose freedom is as good as the Lord's.
Let us all help Narada Muni with his welfare work of the spirit. Encourage everyone you meet to chant Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. The mahamantra will enliven the planet, will bring us all a life of transcendental bliss, and help us to have a taste of the full nectar for which we have been anxious from time immemorial.
—by Achyutananda das Brahmacari
B.R. Sridhara Maharaj sat on the roof of his quarters in Navadvipa. The now very old sadhu was in a very contemplative mood, and to approach him in this state disturbed me. He motioned that I should sit in front of him, so I timidly went and sat down on a grass mat. There was no one to be seen anywhere. "There are many things to see from up here by which we can remember Caitanya," His Holiness said. "This Ganges, this forest, the temples, His favorite tree, banana. What do you want?" "Can you explain how, if the name is a spiritual thing, how are we all chanting it?" I asked, feeling very foolish. After some silence he began to say, "Nitai Caitanya, Nitai Caitanya," and then began:
"It cannot be uttered by a material tongue, nor can a material ear hear the name. He [the name] is adhoksaja, [beyond experimental knowledge], having reserved the right of not being exposed to organic senses. All the experience, knowledge and memories that we have are gleaned with the help of mundane senses. Our tongue is comprised mostly of earth and water elements; the nerve endings extending to all parts of the body carry charges of electricity, also a material element. If an object is too far away, it is not touchable, seeable, tastable, etc.; if an object is too close, it is also imperceptable; we can't see our own tilaka mark or eye make-up. When the senses are extended by microscopes and telescopes, these instruments have more range, but are still limited to the material sphere. The telescope cannot penetrate the outermost covering of the universe; the microscope lens is composed of atoms and therefore cannot see the atom or anything smaller than the atom. Likewise, the system of mental speculation is also inefficient to perceive the spiritual element. Mind is a material element whose density is very slight. (Bhagavad-gita, 7.4) Higher abstractions are no more spiritual than hard rocks. There is a common belief that by extending the potency of the mind we can conceive of the infinite, but this process is defective. If the infinite can be confined in a limited mind, then it is not infinite. I don't even know how many hairs are on my own head. Mental speculators grind their brains over abstract aphorisms of Zen and Upanisads and think that by their own power they can achieve something like infinity. The result is mental masturbation. The mind explodes and dies of exhaustion. And the reaction is deplorable: total forgetfulness of the self and the infinite.
"There are channels by which the infinite descends. He is all power, glory, beauty, knowledge, wealth and renunciation. He is dominant, all-extending, free, and autocratic. The infinite cannot be contained in a limited sphere, but if He is really infinite then He has the power of making Himself known in all His fullness to the finite mind. When, out of His own perogative, He takes the initiative and reveals Himself to the devotee, there is actual perception of Godhead, self realization, transcendental revelation. By the channel of transcendental sound He comes, by vibrating the spiritual tongue of the pure devotees representing Him to the world. The spiritual element vibrates the spiritual tongues of the sat-guru's audience, which have hitherto never been vibrated.
"Sat-gurudeva utters Hare Krsna. Our material ears hear some sound that resembles the transcendental name of Krsna, our eardrum moves the liquid of the inner ear, half water and half air, which vibrates the ethereal element and touches our mind. At this point, soul has still been untouched, and there has been no genuine spiritual experience. By hearing with the mind's impressions, we enjoy the sound of the cymbals, the beat of the chant, the pleasant company and effect of listening and hearing. But it doesn't stop here. Piercing the mind, the original sound uttered by guru moves our intellect, and we consider the Krsna conscious philosophy. For millions of years, sages chanted this on the banks of many holy rivers. Ideas flood everywhere about the possible effects of the mantra. This, while being quite blissful, is not spiritual revelation in the true sense. Beyond the intelligence is the spiritual element—soul, myself. That sound, having cut through all my senses including the mind and intellect, now vibrates the finest sentiments of my own real existence. This is the perception of the holy name on the spiritual plane with my spiritual ear. Then, the soul inspired, recapitulates, sending vibration back into the intelligence, mind, etc., out to my external tongue and we say, 'Hare Krsna.' That Hare Krsna is He. And we dance in ecstasy.
"Sounds, sounds, sounds," His Holiness repeated slowly. "Sounds, catch hold of the sounds. Seize the sound waves traveling within the ether, and your happiness is assured in spiritual life. One rsi has explained in his sutra that massive epidemics are due to contamination of the ether by impure sound. When the lawyers and pleaders in court begin to tell lies in the name of justice, these sound vibrations contaminate the ether, which in turn contaminates the air and water which people breathe and drink, and epidemic is the result. When four-headed Brahma creates the universe, the seed ingredient is sound, 'OM.' And from that 'om' the gayatri-mantra is born. In this sound, the fourteen planetary galaxies sprout like whorls of spiraling stars and planets, with the sun situated in the very center of the universe. Each planetary system is composed of a different sound uttered by Lord Brahma. Each galaxy provides the infinite jivas with their particular spheres of karma (action), dharma (religious functions), artha (economic development), kama (sensual enjoyment and suffering), and moksa (facility of liberation). It is the function of Brahma to provide these different galaxies and planets according to the sinful and meritorious deeds of the innumerable. Lord Brahma utters a different sound for each planetary system and his engineer, Sri Visvakarma, creates the planets according to those sounds. The subtle elements and gross elements are distributed in this way. In our planet, the predominating elements are earth and water. In other worlds, only water is found. On the sun, fire is the prominent element. If a spiritual individual, under the effects of illusion, or maya, wishes to end his gross existence, he may enter a planet of air, ether, mind or intelligence and live as a ghost.
"The individual jiva is also endowed with a particle of creative power. And the ordinary individual as well creates his tiny sphere of influence by sound. Some jivas' spheres of influence are no bigger than their own craniums, and some jivas have influence over a community, a nation, or even a whole planet. The beauty and harmony of their particular spheres of influence depends on the quality of sound they produce.
"When one nation tries to conquer another nation, the first points to capture are the radio stations, the newspapers, the journals—the lines of communication. By sending out its manifesto by sound, the government can move the former leaders from their posts and capture the country. Then, also by sound, the new government becomes established. If there should be any defect in that sound, then the whole thing is ruined. That is why there is so much alteration in the world situation. The sound of all these jivas is, to quote the Bible, 'Babel.' Nonsensical sounds are entering and contaminating the ether, the air, the water, and the very molecular structure of each and every person, place and thing.
"A person's mind is composed of two functions, technically termed sankalpa and vikalpa. Sankalpa means the mind's desire to join thoughts into concepts, theories and tableaus of theories. Vikalpa is the mind's function of rejecting thoughts, simplifying and limiting experiences which are gathered through the sense s of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. Both functions are controlled by sound. Here is an experiment: Close your eyes. When I repeat a number, you will see the number flash before your mind like a cash register. One... Three... Seven... Four... The processes of sankalpa and vikalpa respectively make the thoughts come and go. This is a very simple form of the mind's process. On a more complicated scale, there is the very risky business of intentionally invading the sound waves with defective sound. The lines of communication are filled with impure sound from the earliest of schoolbooks to the most advanced so-called philosophy. The White House filibusters are another excellent example of intentional pollution of sound channels. If we were to infuse spiritual sound into the ether, saturate the ether with the transcendental sound vibration of Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, the mantra would purify, enlighten and saturate every being with its potencies.
"In Lord Caitanya's eight verses, which comprise the final message of all spiritual instructions, the first verse gives five effects of the transcendental sound of Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, as follows:
"Ceto-darpana-marjanam. It wipes the material dust from the mirror of our mind. The mind is like the intermediate connecting medium between the spirit and that material external covering called the body. The soul has no material activity. When covered by maya, or illusion, the soul remains dormant in a state of suspended animation. The magnitude of the soul is so great, however, that it infuses consciousness on all sides. Through the mediurn of the mind, the senses act and we 'know' things. If this 'glass,' the mind, is put out of focus by the external nature, we suffer confusion, pain, disease, and death. Yes, death is a state of mind only, as the soul has no death. By the mind we mistakenly think 'O! I'm dying!' 'I'm drowning!' 'I'm giving birth!' 'I'm sick!' etc. When the mind is cleansed by the mahamantra, the mind is forcibly purified. All the material concoctions, which are the cause of our suffering, are forcibly murdered, starved to death. They thrive on material sense pleasures. Flooding the mind with transcendental sound is just like stepping on the pin of a bomb: All those misconceptions of material suffering and enjoyment are shattered, murdered, and the material mind is conquered wholly, leaving no enemies behind. The mind then reflects the spiritual knowledge, quality and energy of the soul itself.
"Bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam. The fire of conditional life is thus extinguished. Nirvana, which most people are trying to understand from Buddhist texts, means extinguishing the fire of material existence. This body has been burning from the very beginning of time by the process of digestion. Biologists all declare that the body is a burning organism, giving off heat, water vapor and carbon dioxide. After seventy or more years, our body is consumed by that smouldering digestive fire, and we move into another body, only to burn up that one too. It is like chain smoking: with the lit end of the cigarette you light up a fresh cigarette, and on and on. By the potency of the transcendental sound, the cause of that fire is extinguished.
"Sreyah-kairava-candrikavitaranam vidyavadhujivanam. The transcendental sound then spreads the light of benedictions, peaceful suggestions and fearlessness, and no more anxieties invade the mind. We approach the world after coming out of the womb with many deep-rooted fears: Is there safety? Is there happiness? Is there peace? The answer is the basic seed. Om in this case means one big spiritual yes. Om, yes—a positive answer. Simply by negating the mind, the questions of the soul are not satisfied; something positive must be given. The mahamantra floods the mind with suggestions of the truth.
"Anandambudhi-varddhanam pratipadam purnamrtasvadanam. A full draught of an ocean of blissful nectar is served to the soul, who has been thirsty from time immemorial.
"Sarvatma-snapanam param, vijayate sri-krsna-sankirtanam. This point has a twofold meaning, one external and one internal. Sarvatman means all jivas. The holy name bathes all souls with spiritual bliss, knowledge and love. The transcendental sound completely overcomes the soul with His sublime potencies. But atman has many meanings, as given by Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Atman means the supreme absolute truth, the body, the mind, the intelligence, endeavor, conviction and nature. By uttering the pure sound of mahamantra one invades the very cause of everything that exists. The mind, body and soul, and even nature itself can be changed into transcendental nature by one exclamation of Hare Krsna. Capture the sound waves which are the cause of every item of existence and saturate them with Hare Krsna. The result will be the total transformation of energy. An asrama, temple, and all the paraphernalia in them are all divine. The environment in which we live in the asrama is not the same as the one in which we were born. It is 'there,' it is Goloka, and the more we progress in our sadhana the more He will reveal Himself to us.
"One of the supreme forces in the descent of the Hare Krsna mantra, Jayadeva Gosvami, jagat-guru, has written a beautiful verse in description of this process: "O Hari Nama, You enter my ear and touch my heart, and tears flow from my eyes and fall to the ground; making soft clay, my footprints are left for my successors to follow my way."
"It must be noted that if the guru is bogus, then that name will not touch the spiritual spark within the coverings of mind and body. It may sound the same, but it is not—just as milk and whitewash look the same, but they are altogether different.
"Now many such artificial gurus are about, and this fact is, as it were, camouflaging the genuine devotees. If someone finds a treasure beneath a tree and marks the tree with his initials and then comes back to find every tree marked with the same initials, he is unable to recall the original tree.
''The original sentiments invoked by the name are concentrated, blissful recollections of the pastimes of Krsna. These sentiments are in all souls and are five in number: the neutral sentiment, the serving sentiment, the sentiment of friendship, parental sentiment, and the sentiment of intimate love. Krsna is called akhila-rasamrta-sindhu, the ocean of all transcendental sentiment. In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna says, ye yatha mam prapadyante, tams tathaiva bhajamy aham: "I reciprocate all the different services rendered within the sphere of these different sentiments, or rasas." Krsna uses the neutral devotees, who do not take active engagement in His interest, at His own sweet time and liking. If He wants to play the flute He picks it up, and He sets it down when He likes. To His servants, He is the noble master. In this relationship there is more facility to please the master, to bring His food, His favorite clothing. Yet there is still some hindrance, since He may tell the servant to be gone, and the servant must obey out of duty. The friendship rasa has two stages. The first stage is friendship with feeling of respect and reverence. Arjuna has this type of friendly relationship with Krsna. He begs forgiveness from Krsna for unknowingly calling Him in jest or for associating with Him without bowing down, etc. When the friendship is more developed, the respect and honorable formalities disappear. Jumping on Krsna's shoulders, wrestling and playing as though Krsna were their equal, Sudama, Sridama and the other cowherd boys revel in endless sports. Sometimes they even consider Krsna their inferior: 'Oh, Krsna; He's the youngest one of us. He's also the lightest. We can all overcome Him in wrestling, so go lightly with Him.' As sugar cane juice is concentrated into molasses and then into crystal, so also the friendly rasa, with added feelings, develops into parental affection. 'Krsna is my son,' says Mother Yasoda. 'I must always look after His needs and protection. If I don't see Him for even five minutes I get so scared. I see huge trees falling on Him and horrible demons capturing Him. Oh, there You are! Why do You scare Your mother like that? Always stay in my presence, I can't stand to have You out of sight.' Even punishment of the beloved is seen in this intimate relationship.
"As concentrated sugar becomes rock candy, so the parental exchange of rasas condenses into conjugal love, in which there is complete dedication to the desires of Krsna, with no tinge of desire for one's own pleasure. 'I am Yours'—complete unconditional surrender. 'If you trample my body underfoot or embrace me fondly, for Your pleasure I am happy. If You want to throw me into hell and keep me far from Your company, I am prepared to go. If You forget me, I cannot forget You; You are always my beloved.'"
By this time His Holiness had become exhausted. After forty years of lecturing previous to the use of microphones, his voice had become very thin. We were only one inch apart, face to face.
Just then the loud gong began to toll in crescendo, reaching four loud blasts and reverberating into silence.
"Go down now. It's time for aratrika. Could you follow my words?"
"Yes," I said.
"Did you like it?"
"That's all right. Go down now."
—by Lalita devi dasi
The Los Angeles Sankirtana Party usually goes to the downtown area to preach and chant during the week, but since it was Thanksgiving Day, Sankirtana Party was held at Griffith Park where large crowds of people gathered to enjoy the sun, music, friendship and dancing. The devotees of Krsna do not celebrate Thanksgiving only one day a year: we give our prayer of thanks every day and every waking moment. We try to show our gratitude to the Lord by offering Him loving service eternally.
When the Sankirtana Party arrived at Griffith Park on this sunny day, the purpose of its members was to spread the holy name of God to their brothers and sisters. According to the scriptures, everyone is searching for God but most of us are temporarily trapped in maya or illusion. The mass of colorful devotees advancing on the scene was beautiful to the eye; and for the ear there was the sound of transcendental conchshell, sweet mrdanga drum and kartals (hand cymbals)—and the loud and sweet singing of the Hare Krsna mantra. Because Krsna is all-attractive, His name is transcendentally powerful; thus large crowds were immediately attracted. The paraphernalia brought to the park and on all sankirtana parties includes a large picture of Krsna and one of Prabhupada, the spiritual master. When one looks upon these pictures he can actually see Krsna and Prabhupada themselves! The picture of Krsna and the divine person Krsna are nondifferent. Our transcendental paraphernalia also includes incense, Back to Godhead Magazine, cards and leaflets. We are engaged in inviting people to sing Hare Krsna and to visit the temple of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna. We are bringing paraphernalia to attract all the senses. Through seeing pictures of Krsna and Prabhupada and seeing the devotees in person, one is attracted to Krsna by the sense of vision or of sight. By hearing the Hare Krsna mantra, one is attracted by the sense of hearing. By smelling the incense and flowers offered to God, one is attracted by the sense of smell. By tasting the spiritual prasadam, or food offered to God, one is attracted by the sense of taste. By touching the instruments used for God, or clapping one's hands or touching japa beads, one is attracted by the sense of touch. We want to share these jewels of transcendence with all living entities so they can become self realized and worship God in full joy. If all the senses are not utilized for the satisfaction of God, they will be used for the satisfaction of the temporary body and thereby trap us in the cycle of birth, death, old age and disease. If one is bound by the temporary pleasure of this body, he will not be able to transcend this material nature upon leaving this body. And what's more, he risks being thrown into a lower form of life, like the plant or animal, and may be forced to live on more hellish planets.
When the devotees placed themselves in an auspicious spot at Griffith Park, about three hundred people gathered around in a big circle; and the devotees began to sing and dance with great ecstasy. A few of the spectators began to sing and dance, and more and more joined as time went on. Soon a group of about thirty people joined hands and held a circle-dance, intertwining among the devotees and the crowd. The joy of chanting Hare Krsna is that one is spontaneously attracted and can immediately feel the joy emanating from God. It is stated in the Bhagavad-gita that Krsna dwells as supersoul in the heart of every living entity; the moment one starts to chant Hare Krsna, the love of God lying dormant in his heart is at once revived. Our souls are crying out to be revived, so let us tend to the needs of our souls by singing the names of God. The people who were sitting and listening were certainly being spiritually benefitted by hearing the sound of God's name, and we encouraged everyone please sing the Hare Krsna mantra! God is pleased when we sing His name, and in this age of Kali there is no other way to please God. If we call out to Krsna and praise His energy and pray for His mercy, He will protect and guide us back home, back to Godhead.
By showing the picture of Prabhupada to the men and women and children at Griffith Park, we introduced them to the guru whose teachings are available to everyone on this earth. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami is here to teach us how to enter the kingdom of God. He holds the secret treasure and is bringing it out in the open for all. We cannot fully appreciate the nectar of transcendental fruit until we know something of the creator of that fruit. The more you love Krsna, the more He will love you and guide you back to home, back to Godhead.
After the circle-dance, the puppet show began. Visnujana das is an expert puppeteer, and he put on a beautiful puppet show that attracted not only the children but the adults as well. In addition, the show carried the highest knowledge. The puppets were sleeping in their beds in the tent until they were aroused to put on their show. They looked lovely in their brightly colored clothes of silk and satin covered with pretty jewels. With perfect precision and illuminating facial expressions, Visnujana put on a puppet show that normally would have taken five people to perform. He flashed back and forth like lightning, expressing the quality of each puppet, and thus the puppets became alive. Everyone there couldn't help but be amazed. The devotees were excited like little children and were making some of the sounds of the different puppets.
The play was about the gopi girlfriends of Krsna. Radha, who is the most beloved gopi of Krsna, and Her associates Visakha and Lalita are talking amongst themselves. Radha is saying to Her friends; "Oh dear friend Lalita, sweet Visakha, Oh search out that Krsna." And Her friends call out: "Syamasundara, are You near Your beloved river Yamuna resting Your blue body?" "Search near the Govardhana Hill, gopis," Radha says. "My beloved does not know where to place Himself. He cannot distinguish bad places from good." Lalita and Visakha console Her. "Oh dear Queen Radha, be patient, for Krsna is not localized, He is all-pervading. He is in the sky, He is in the water, He is the supersoul in everyone's heart." Radha says, "Alas for us, fair gopis, what have we to offer this Lord Krsna when He owns our very soul?"
After the gopis, other puppets were presented. The last part of the puppet show was the exciting story of Bakasura, the voracious stork. His voice was ferocious, as he was a terrible demon. One day Krsna and Gopala and other cowherd boyfriends were playing and looking for something exciting to do. Gopala found a cave and said, "Let's play in here." The cave was actually the huge mouth of Bakasura, and the demon stork was planning to devour Krsna and His cowherd boyfriends. As soon as they stepped inside, the stork closed his mouth and said, "Now I've got You, Krsna, You and Your friends. There is no way out." The boys were not scared, because they knew Krsna would save them. Within the stork's mouth, Krsna expanded His body to gigantic size, thus suffocating the demoniac stork to death. Then Krsna and His friends began to rejoice and sing Hare Krsna. The puppet show was captivating and thrilling. Afterwards many people chanted Hare Krsna with us, and there was some preaching of the philosophy of Krsna consciousness. The crowd seemed to enjoy themselves.
It was a blissful day at Griffith Park; it is so nice when many people and children join in and share this great joy of God. The joy that we all felt was just a drop of nectar from the vast ocean of the eternal bliss of Krsna consciousness. You will be seeing more and more of the devotees of Krsna at the parks, colleges and market areas. Whenever you hear the ringing of the kartals, the sound of the mrdanga drum and the chanting of Hare Krsna, join in with us and help to spread love of God.