Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Krsna consciousness is everywhere because Krsna is everywhere. Krsna is the Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead. He lives far away, in the spiritual world, but He also lives within the heart of every living being. Thus no one can be farther from us than Krsna- and no one can be closer.
Since everyone is a part of Krsna, everyone has a relationship with Krsna. Just as one's hand is part of one's body and is therefore meant to serve the whole body, every living being is part of Krsna, the Supreme Living Being, and therefore every living being is meant to serve Him.
The purpose of the Krsna consciousness movement it to revive our awareness of this eternal relationship with Krsna. Krsna consciousness is the natural, joyful consciousness that lies dormant within us all. To return to this pure consciousness is the purpose of human life.
His Divine Grace A.C. BhaktiVedanta Swami Prabhupada has established more than eighty centers of Krsna consciousness around the world. In these centers, Srila Prabhupada's disciples learn and teach others the techniques for becoming Krsna conscious, as taught in ancient Vedic scriptures such as Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. The most important of these techniques is the chanting of the holy names of God, as found in the mantra Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
We invite you to learn more about Krsna and our relationship with Him by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra and by reading Back to Godhead, which explains the Krsna conscious philosophy and tells about the Hare Krsna movement. We also invite you to visit one of the Krsna consciousness centers- anywhere in the world-and thus come closer to Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Conversations about spiritual life between Bob Cohen, a young Peace Corps worker in India, and His Divine Grace A.C. BhaktiVedanta Swami Prabhupada. Recorded at the ISKCON International Center at Lord Caitanya's Birthplace, Mayapur, India
I have always been interested in religion, but before I met the devotees, I did not have the intelligence or proper perspective needed to inquire fruitfully about spiritual life. I had been to Hebrew School and had studied Oriental philosophy, but I could never get satisfying answers to my questions.
After graduating college with a B.S. in Chemistry, I joined the Peace Corps and went to India as a science teacher. In India I inquired about the Hare Krsna movement. I was curious about its authenticity. Attracted by the chanting and intrigued by the philosophy, I had visited the Radha-Krsna temple in New York several times before going to India, but I did not consider the seemingly austere life of a devotee for myself.
In India I first met the Krsna conscious devotees in Calcutta during October of 1972. The devotees could clearly explain to me the purpose of yoga and the need to inquire about spiritual life. I began to feel that the rituals and ceremonies they practiced were not dull, sentimental obligations, but a real, sensible way of life.
At first, however, it was very difficult for me to understand the philosophy of Krsna consciousness. In so many subtle ways, my Western upbringing prevented me from seeing things that were as plain as the nose on my face! Fortunately, the devotees convinced me of the need to practice some few basic austerities, and thus I was able to gain the intelligence and desire to understand spiritual life. I can now recall how distant and tenuous my concepts of spiritual and transcendental existence were. I met Prabhupada briefly at this time, and shortly thereafter I decided to become a vegetarian. (I was proud of being a vegetarian, but later Prabhupada reminded me that even pigeons are vegetarians.)
In February I met some devotees in Calcutta, and they invited me to a festival in Mayapur (a holy island ninety miles north of Calcutta) in honor of the appearance day of Lord Caitanya, who is considered an incarnation of Krsna Himself. I left for Mayapur planning to stay two days at the most, but ended up staying a week. There I met Prabhupada again. I was the only Western nondevotee on the island, and since I was living with the devotees on their land, this was a unique opportunity to learn intimately about Krsna consciousness. When I met Prabhupada, he asked me how I was and if I had any questions. The devotees had explained to me that Prabhupada could answer any questions about spiritual life because he represents a disciplic succession of spiritual masters. I thought that Prabhupada might really know what is going on in the world. After all, his devotees claimed this, and I admired and respected his devotees. So with this in mind I began to ask my question. Inadvertently, I had approached a spiritual master (guru) in the proper manner, submissively asking questions about spiritual matters.
Prabhupada was pleased, and over the next several days he answered my questions. I asked them mostly from an academic point of view, but Prabhupada always gave me personal answers so that I would take to spiritual life. Prabhupada was patiently trying to help me understand that Krsna (God) is the supreme enjoyer, supreme friend and supreme proprietor. I put forward many impediments to accepting the obvious: that I would have to become serious about God consciousness to understand God. But Prabhupada relentlessly yet kindly urged me on.
Now I am back in the United States working for my master's degree in geology at Rutgers, sponsoring Krsna conscious activities on the campus, chanting Hare Krsna myself every day, and associating with the devotees at the temple in New York. Gradually, am overcoming material impediments. Due to the kindness of Srila Prabhupada, I have realized the importance of inquiring about spiritual life from a genuinely self-realized person. Spiritual life has thus become more real to me and less sentimental.
Bob: Thank you so much for allowing me to ask my questions.
Srila Prabhupada: That is my mission. People should understand the science of God. Unless we cooperate with the Supreme Lord, our life is baffled. I have given the example many times that a screw which has fallen from a machine has no value. But when the same screw is again attached to the machine, it has value. Similarly, we are part and parcel of God. So without God, what is our value? No value! We should again come back to our position of attachment to God. Then we have value.
Bob: I met a fellow today who came in the afternoon. His reason for coming—you may find it humorous—was that he heard the hippies were in Mayapur.
Srila Prabhupada: What?
Bob: He heard that hippies were in Mayapur. I was talking to him, and then some devotees were talking to him. He had said some things to me which I could find no answer for. And he said he would come back tomorrow and meet some devotees. But let me tell you what he said. This is confusing. When he was young. . .
Srila Prabhupada: He's Indian?
Bob: Yes, Indian. He lives nearby and speaks English fairly well. When he was young he worshiped Kali [a popular demigoddess] every day very rigorously, and then the floods came. When the floods came, the people saw hardship, and now he has no religion, and he says he finds his happiness in trying to develop love among people. And I couldn't think of what to say to him to add God and religion to his life. He says that after he dies, "maybe I'll become part of God, maybe not," but he can't worry about it now. He says he's tried these religious experiences, but they didn't work. One reason I ask this is because when I go back to America, a lot of people I come across are like this. They see that religion, like his worship of Kali or other kinds of religion they've experienced, doesn't work. And I don't know what to say to them to convince them it's worth trying.
Srila Prabhupada: Do not try at the present moment. You try to be convinced yourself.
Bob: Yes. I asked him to see devotees, but then on the way out, as he was leaving down the road, I met him again and told him, "Come back," but. . . Oh, I see.
Srila Prabhupada: You first of all be convinced. And then try to convince others. Caitanya Mahaprabhu's instruction is that you can improve the welfare of others when your own life is a success:
bharata-bhuite haila manusya-janma yara
First make your life perfect. Then try to teach others.
Bob: The devotees have said to me that without consciousness of Krsna all the time, you cannot be happy. But at times I feel happy.
Srila Prabhupada: At times. Not always.
Srila Prabhupada: But if you become Krsna conscious, you will feel happy always.
Bob: They had implied that you cannot feel happy without Krsna consciousness.
Srila Prabhupada: That is a fact. For example, if you are an animal of the land and you are thrown into the water, you cannot be happy in water in any condition. When you are again taken up to the land, then you'll be happy. Similarly, we are part and parcel of Krsna. We cannot be happy without being part and parcel of Krsna. The same example: the machine part, without the machine, has no value; but when it is again put into the machine, it has value. We are part of Krsna; we must join Krsna. And you can join Krsna immediately by your consciousness, simply by thinking, "I am Krsna's, Krsna is mine." That's all.
Bob: What is that? Krsna is. . .
Srila Prabhupada: Krsna is mine!
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Mine. My Krsna.
Srila Prabhupada: Krsna is mine. Krsna is mine.
Srila Prabhupada: And I am Krsna's. That is our actual position.
Bob: We are part of Krsna.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Everything is part and parcel of Krsna. Because everything is generated by the energy of Krsna and everything is the energy of Krsna.
An Indian gentleman: Srila Prabhupada, I have one question. What is the status of service minus devotion?
Srila Prabhupada: Hmm? That is not service, that is business. [Everyone laughs.] For example, here in Mayapur we have employed a contractor. That is not service-that is business. Is it not? Sometimes they will advertise, "Our customers are our masters." Is it not? But in spite of the flowery language-"Our customers are our masters"—this is business, because nobody is a qualified customer unless he pays. But service is not like that. Service—Caitanya Mahaprabhu prays to Krsna:
yatha tatha va vidadhati lampato
"You do whatever You like, but still You are my worshipable Lord." That is service. "I don't ask any return from You." That is service. When you expect some return, that is business.
Bob: I wish to ask you to advise me on how I can come to feel closer to God. I'll be leaving you soon. And I'm. . .
Srila Prabhupada: You have to be purified.
Bob: I come to the temple at times, and then I leave, and I'm not sure how much I take with me.
Srila Prabhupada: It does not take much time. Within six months you will realize your progress. But you have to follow the regulative principles. Then it will be all right. Just like these boys and girls are doing.
Bob: Yes, I see.
Srila Prabhupada: They have no tendency for going to the cinema or going to a hotel. No. They have stopped all anarthas, all unnecessary things.
Bob: I feel that when I go back, they'll-
Srila Prabhupada: The whole human life is meant for purification.
Srila Prabhupada: Tapo divyam putraka yena sattvam suddhyed yasmad brahma-saukhyam tv anantam, Sattva means existence. So if you don't purify your existence, then you will have to change your body. From this body to that. Sometimes it may be higher, sometimes lower. For example, if you don't cure a disease, it can put you into trouble in so many ways. Similarly, if you don't purify your existence, then you will have to transmigrate from one body to another. There are very subtle laws of nature. Now there is no guarantee that you will get a very comfortable body or an American body. Therefore, it is essential for the human being to purify his existence. Unless you purify your existence, you will hanker after happiness but will not always be happy.
Bob: When I go back to my job in New York, I hope I'll become pure, but I'm sure that I won't become as pure as your devotees here. I-I don't see myself doing that.
Srila Prabhupada: You can do as they are doing. They were not pure in the beginning; now they are pure. Similarly, you can become pure. For example, in your childhood you were not educated-but now you are educated.
Bob: So, what are the things that I may do? When I go back, I must. . .
Srila Prabhupada: When do you go back?
Bob: I'll be going back to Chaibasa to do my work there, and. . .
Srila Prabhupada: What is there in Chaibasa?
Bob: That is where I do my teaching. I live there.
Srila Prabhupada: So better not to teach—because you do not know what to teach.
Bob: [laughs] I'll be going-I don't like this teaching so much, and I'll be returning to America in May, but while I'm here, this is my agreement for staying in India.
Srila Prabhupada: If you are serious, you can keep yourself pure anywhere. It doesn't matter whether you stay in America or India. But you must know how to keep yourself purified. That's all.
Bob: You mean by following these principles?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. I went to America, for instance, but either in America or India, I am the same man.
Bob: I have tried somewhat to follow since I met you the first time [a brief visit in Calcutta during November, 1971].
Srila Prabhupada: Hmm. But follow— you must strictly follow if you are serious.
Bob: Maybe—okay, maybe—what I say now is—well—the most foolish of all I've said. But let me tell you how I feel.
Srila Prabhupada: No, no, not foolish. I don't say foolish—but imperfect.
Bob: Okay. [He laughs.] Imperfect. But let me tell you. I feel that right now I admire and respect your devotees, but I don't feel as if I am part of them, or even that I have a great desire to be part of them. I feel that I just— want—I want to do what is right, come closer to God, and if—and if I just go to a better life next time—I'd be satisfied.
Srila Prabhupada: Very good.
Bob: I guess it's material clinging, but. . .
Srila Prabhupada: So, you just follow in their footsteps, and your desire will be fulfilled. We are training them how to become purified and happy. That is our mission. We want to see everyone happy. Sarve sukhino bhavantu. People do not know how to become happy. They do not take the standard path to become happy. They manufacture their own way. That is the difficulty. Therefore, Rsabhadeva gave this advice to his sons: "My dear boys, just undergo austerity for transcendental realization." Everyone is performing austerity. This boy I know—he had to go to a foreign country to learn commercial management. Now he is well situated. In this way, everyone must undergo some austerity for future life. So why not take that austerity for permanent happiness? You have to purify your existence and your body. As many times as you accept a material body, you will have to change it. But as soon as you get a spiritual body, there is no question of change. You already have a spiritual body. Now, due to our material contamination, we are developing the material body. But if we associate with spiritual life, then we shall develop a spiritual body. The same example I have several times given is that if you put an iron rod within fire, it will become like fire. Is it not?
Bob: Put the iron rod into fire?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, and it will become like fire.
Srila Prabhupada: Although iron.
Srila Prabhupada: Similarly, if you always keep yourself spiritually engaged, your body will act spiritually, although it is material. The same example: when an iron rod is red hot, touch it anywhere, and it will burn. It takes on the quality of fire. Similarly, if you always keep yourself in Krsna consciousness, then you will become spiritualized. You will act spiritually. No more material demands.
Bob: How do I do this?
Srila Prabhupada: This process. They are doing it. You have seen these boys, our six boys who have been initiated today. It is very simple. You have to follow the four restrictive regulations and chant these beads. Very easy.
Bob: Well, but, see—when I am back in Bihar and following my lifestyle there, I—if I follow all these regulative principles—some I follow now, but not all—
Srila Prabhupada: Some means?
Srila Prabhupada: There are only four regulative principles. Some means three, or two?
Bob: Two or three.
Srila Prabhupada: So why not the other one?
Bob: No, no. I mean I follow one or two. One or two I follow now.
Srila Prabhupada: [laughs] Why not the other three? What is the difficulty? Which one do you follow?
Bob: Which one do I follow? Well, I'm almost vegetarian, but I eat eggs.
Srila Prabhupada: Then that is also not complete.
Bob: No, not even complete. Since last time [November], I've become vegetarian, but. . .
Srila Prabhupada: Vegetarian is no qualification.
Bob: Not much.
Srila Prabhupada: The pigeon is vegetarian. [Bob laughs in relief.] The monkey is vegetarian-the most rubbish creature.. .
Bob: Well. . .
Srila Prabhupada: The monkey is vegetarian. This naked sannyasi lives in the forest-the most mischievous. . .
Bob: I—I felt that it was a little bit of progress because it was somewhat difficult at first, then easy, and I had returned to. . .
Srila Prabhupada: No, you can stick to all the regulative principles, provided you take to the Krsna consciousness process—otherwise it is not possible.
Bob: Yes, this is it. I have-when I'm back in Bihar, and-um-my friends may say. . .We're sitting in the evening, and there's nothing to do but fight mosquitoes, and they say, "How about smoking some marijuana?" And I say, "Sure, there's nothing else to do," and then I sit down, and I enjoy myself for the evening. Now we did this, we got carried away, we were doing it every day and realizing we were hurting ourselves and stopped, but still on occasion we. . .
Srila Prabhupada: You have to live with us. Then your friends will not ask you, "What about marijuana?" [Bob laughs.] Keep the association of devotees. We are opening centers to give people a chance to associate with us. Why have we taken so much land [in Mayapur]? Those who are seriously desirous-they will come and live with us. Association is very influential, if you associate with drunkards, you become drunk; if you associate with sadhus, then you become a sadhu.
Syamasundara [Srila Prabhupada's secretary]: He can come and stay with you in Bombay.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, you can stay with us in Bombay. But he wants friends with marijuana. That is the difficulty.
Bob: Let me ask you about something else; then maybe I'll comeback to this. I find that I think of myself too much, and this way I can't think of God so much. I think of myself in too many places. How can I forget about myself so I can concentrate on other, more important things?
Srila Prabhupada: As they [the devotees] have done.
Bob: [laughs] You are saying to me that my path—I think what you're saying is that my path to purity is to become a devotee.
Srila Prabhupada: Do you hesitate?
Bob: Well, I. . .
Srila Prabhupada: Is it very difficult to become a devotee?
Bob: For myself—it is. I don't feel so much the desire. First the devotees tell me that they have given up material life. These four regulative principles, they have explained to me, entail giving up material life, and that I see. And in place of this they have. . .
Srila Prabhupada: What do you mean by material life?
[Bob is silent.]
Srila Prabhupada: I am sitting on this bed. Is it material or spiritual?
Srila Prabhupada: Then how have we given up material life?
Bob: I think how I interpreted it was a desire for our material gains. . .
Srila Prabhupada: What is material?
Bob: Working towards material gains and not giving up all materials.
Srila Prabhupada: Material life means—when you desire to gratify your senses, that is material life. And when you desire to serve God, that is spiritual life. That is the difference between material life and spiritual life. Now we are trying to serve our senses. But instead of serving the senses, when we serve God, that is spiritual life. What is the difference between our activities and others' activities? We are using everything-table, chair, bed, tape recorder, typewriter—so what is the difference? The difference is that we are using everything for Krsna.
Bob: The devotees have said that the sensual pleasures they have given up are replaced with spiritual kinds of pleasures, but—see—I haven't felt this.
Srila Prabhupada: Spiritual pleasures come when you desire to please Krsna. That is spiritual pleasure. For example, a mother is more pleased by feeding her son. She's not eating, but when she sees that her son is eating very nicely, then she becomes pleased.
Bob: Hmmm. Spiritual pleasure, then, is pleasing God.
Srila Prabhupada: Spiritual pleasure means the pleasure of Krsna.
Bob: Pleasing Krsna.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Material pleasure means the pleasure of the senses. That's all. This is the difference. When you simply try to please Krsna, that is spiritual pleasure.
Bob: I had viewed this as—my thought of pleasing God was to. . .
Srila Prabhupada: Don't manufacture your ways of pleasing God. Don't manufacture. Suppose I want to please you. Then I shall ask you, "How can I serve you?" Not that I manufacture some service. That is not pleasing. Suppose I want a glass of water, if you concoct the idea, "Swamiji will be more pleased if I give him a glass of milk, hot milk," that will not please me. if you want to please me, then you should ask me, "How can I please you?" And if you do what I order, that will please me.
Bob: And pleasing Krsna, then, is being a devotee of Krsna.
Srila Prabhupada: A devotee is one who is always pleasing Krsna. He has no other business. That is a devotee.
Bob: Can you tell me some more about chanting Hare Krsna? I have for quite sometime chanted, but never regularly—just a little bit here and there. I just got beads very recently, and once in a while I feel comfortable chanting, and once in a while not comfortable at all. Maybe I don't chant properly. I don't know.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, everything has a process. You have to adopt the process.
Bob: The devotees tell me of the ecstasy they feel when chanting.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, the more you become purified, the more you will feel ecstasy. This chanting process is the purifying process.
by O.B.L. Kapoor, Ph.D.
O.B.L. Kapoor, Ph.D., has served as Head of the Philosophy Department and Dean of the Faculty of Arts at B. R. College In Agra, India; as Principal and Head of the Philosophy Department at K. N. Government Postgraduate College in Varanasi: as Principal of the Government College in Rampur, and as a member of the Executive Council of Agra University. He has been residing in Vrndavana since his retirement in 1967 and is engaged at present in writing books and articles concerning the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His disciples. He was initialed in 1932 by His Divine Grace Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada, by whose order Back to Godhead was first established in 1944.
BHAKTI cannot, strictly speaking, be defined, because it is transcendental. Sandilya, however, defines it as paranuraktir isvare, ** (Sandilya, Sutra 2.) which means exclusive and intense loving attachment to the Lord.
Bhakti is recognized in Srimad-Bhagavatam as parama-dharma, or the highest and most satisfying function of the soul. ** (sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhoksaje ahaituky apratihata yayatma suprasidati (Bhag. 1.2.6)) In the Skanda Purana (2.9.40) Sri Krsna says in reply to a question by Uddhava, labho mad-bhaktir uttamah: "Devotion to Me is the highest end." Narada describes bhakti as indescribable love (anir-vacaniyam prema svarupam) and the grandest and most sublime of all human experiences. Even the writer of Advaita-siddhi, Madhusudana Sarasvati, ** (He has also written Bhagavad-bhakti-rasayana, Bhagavata-purana-prathama-sloka-vyakhya, Bhagavad-gita-gudhartha-dipika, Veda-stuti-tika and Sandilya-sutra-tika, all of which promulgate bhakti.) to whom nonduality is the highest truth, regards bhakti as one hundred times superior to liberation. ** (paramarthikam advaitam dvaitam bhajana-hetave tadrsi yadi bhaktih syat sa tu mukti-satadhika) He says that one realizes at the dawn of true knowledge that duality is even more beautiful than nonduality. ** (dvaitam mohaya bodhat prak jate bodhe manisaya bhakty-artham kalpitam dvaitam advaitad api sundaram)
Sri Caitanya recognizes bhakti as the only way to attain the Lord. He cites in this connection the following verses from Srimad-Bhagavatam (Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 20.137):
na sadhayati mam yogo
"It is not possible to attain Me through jnana, yoga, renunciation, penance, study of the scriptures or the performance of duty in the same manner in which one may attain Me through bhakti." (Bhag. 11.14.20)
bhaktyaham ekaya grahyah
"I can be attained only through bhakti and not through any other means." (Bhag. 11.14.21)
Sri Caitanya deprecates karma (the way of action), jnana (the way of knowledge) and yoga (the eightfold way of mysticism) because they do not lead to the same goal as bhakti. Jnana, which consists of contemplation and discrimination, leads to realization of nirvisesa-brahman (the impersonal Absolute) and the soul's immersion in it. Yoga with its eight ancillaries consists of restraint (yama), culture (niyama), posture (asana), breath control (pranayama), withdrawal of the senses (pratyahara), attention (dharana), meditation [dhyana), and concentration [samadhi). It leads to the realization of Paramatma (the Supersoul within the heart). Karma, which consists of the performance of compulsory (nitya) and occasional [naimittika] duties as enjoined by the scriptures, leads to the attainment of heaven for as long as the effect of the living entity's good deeds endures. But none of them leads to the attainment of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan.
Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti proves the superiority of bhakti over karma, jnana and yoga by anvaya-vyatireka, that is, by the methods of agreement in presence and agreement in absence. Realization of the supreme end as Bhagavan is present where bhakti is present and absent where bhakti is absent. Jnana and yoga do not lead to the realization of Bhagavan but only to the realization of the partial aspects of Bhagavan, accompanied by mukti (liberation), ** (The realization of savisesa-paramatma (the Super-soul within the heart), to which yoga leads, is regarded as a stage higher than the realization of nirvisesa-brahman. If the aspiring transcendentalist is a bhakta, yoga is supposed ultimately to lead to the realization of Bhagavan.) whereas karma as such leads neither to Bhagavan nor to mukti. Karma leads to mukti only indirectly by preparing the way for it. But not all kinds of action are preparatory to release. Only actions performed without attachment prepare the ground for ultimate release by producing a tranquil state of mind suitable for inquiry about the real nature of the self. Therefore Bhagavad-gita advises the resignation of all acts to Bhagavan, the Supreme Person. ** (Gita, 5.6.)
But it may be asked, if only disinterested actions are useful for liberation, how shall we explain the Vedic injunctions regarding the performance of ceremonial rites apparently aimed at worldly enjoyment? The answer is that the real object of Vedic injunctions is not to produce attachment to worldly objects but gradually to wean us out of them by permitting only restricted use of them and by offering counter-attractions. The ceremonial rites enjoined in the Vedas are therefore called paroksa-kriya, and the satras expounding the performance of karma are called paroksa-vada.
Jnana and yoga are not meant for all persons and all times and are not possible under all circumstances. Yoga is impossible for a man who has not acquired complete control over his mind. It can be practiced only in a sacred place and in a special posture. ** (Ibid, 6.36.) It enjoins the performance of exercises that are not within the capacity of everyone, especially in the present age of Kali. Jnana is impossible for persons who have not developed aversion to the objects of the senses and who do not possess philosophical acumen, self-restraint and mental tranquility. ** ((Bhag. 1.1.1).) But bhakti is possible for everyone-even for the lowliest and most sinful ** (bhaktih punati man-nistha svapa kan api sambhavat (Bhag. 11.14.21). Also Bg. 9.30.) and can be practiced at all times and under all circumstances. Prahlada is said to have practiced bhakti in his mother's womb, Dhruva in childhood, Ambarisa in youth, Yayati in old age, Ajamila at the time of death, and Citraketu in heaven after death. Even those consigned to hell ** (yatha yatha harer nama kirtayanti ca narakah tatha tatha harau bhaktim udvahantau divyam yayuh (Hari-bhakti-vilasa)) or those who have attained liberation after bondage ** (mukta api lilaya vigraham krtva bhagavantam bhajante (Nrsimha-tapani, 2.5.16).) have practiced, devotion and attained the supreme end. Bhakti is meant alike for those who desire liberation and those who have attained it.
The paths of jnana and yoga are not eternal. They cease as soon as one attains the goal. But bhakti is the eternal and supreme function of the soul (parama-dharma), It is both the means and the end.
Bhakti is independent (nirapeksa) of jnana, yoga and karma, but jnana, yoga and karma are dependent on bhakti (bhakti-sapeksa). They cannot lead to liberation or bliss without the aid of bhakti (Cc. Madhya 22.17). ** (krsna-bhakti haya abhidheya-pradhana bhakti-mukha-niriksaka karma-yoga-jnana)Yoga cannot even begin without bhakti, because yoga implies faith in Bhagavan, the Supreme Godhead, whom the yogi aims to realize in His partial aspect as Paramatma. No matter how long the yogi performs the yogic exercises and practices austerities, all his efforts will be useless if he lacks in bhakti. ** (Bhag. 11.14.21) But if he is sincerely devoted to Bhagavan and perceives Him in everything, realization, as the Gita says, will be lasting. ** (Bg. 6.30-31) Because Paramatma is savisesa, or qualified, and we cannot realize Him through yoga without bhakti, yoga is sometimes regarded as a kind of bhakti and is styled as yoga-misra-bhakti (bhakti mixed with yoga) or santa-bhakti.
The necessity of bhakti for jnana is recognized even by Sankara, who says in his commentary on the Gita that jnana-nistha, or fidelity to knowledge, which liberation is impossible without, is itself the result of arcana-bhakti, or bhakti consisting of the ceremonial worship of the Deities. ** (Sankara-bhasya on Gita, 8.56.) In his commentary on Brahma-sutra, he says that although liberation is the result of higher knowledge (vidya), bhakti prepares the ground for higher knowledge by bringing the grace of God. ** (Sariraka-bhasya on Brahma-sutra, 3.2.5.)
The realization of nirvisesa-brahman through jnana is also not permanent without bhakti. Sri Caitanya speaks of two kinds of persons who follow the path of jnana: those who do not have faith in Bhagavan and who seek to realize nirvisesa-brahman independently, and those who have faith in Him but desire to attain mukti. The former attain liberation and immersion in Brahman after a great deal of effort. ** (Bg. 12.5) The latter attain the state of immersion in Brahman more easily by the grace of Bhagavan. Bhagavan lets them enjoy this state for some time, but ultimately He lifts them to His own abode so that they may enjoy contiguity with Him, which entails much higher pleasure than immersion in Brahman. This is natural because bhakti, which conditions their jnana, is, after all, a potency of Bhagavan Himself.
There is no fruit of karma, jnana or yoga that cannot be attained by bhakti without the aid of any other means. Mukti, the ultimate end of jnana, which the jnani attains after long and arduous discipline, comes to the devotee of itself as a necessary accompaniment of bhakti (Cc. Madhya 22.21). ** (kevala jnana 'mukti' dite nare bhakti vine krsnamukhe sei mukti haya vina jnane) Jnana and vairagya (renunciation) are themselves natural concomitants of bhakti. Since Brahman is only a partial aspect of Bhagavan, the jnani's knowledge of Brahman is only a part of the knowledge of Bhagavan that the bhakta attains through devotion. Vairagya, which is a forced affair in jnana, is a natural consequence of exclusive devotion to Bhagavan. The more intense the love for Bhagavan, the less the attachment to the objects of the world. The desire for worldly enjoyment, which is difficult to subdue and which results in many complexes if suppressed, automatically becomes weak as the desire for loving service to Bhagavan becomes strong, and ultimately it disappears. ** (Modern psychology also emphasizes the need to sublimate impulses rather than suppress them. It holds that total suppression of desires and impulses is not possible.) Thus jnana and vairagya as independent means of realization are redundant to bhakti.
Similarly, the tranquil state of mind (citta-vrtti-nirodha), which yoga tries to reach through its eightfold path (astanga), and the asamprajnata-samadhi, the soul's realization of its real nature as the infinitesimal part of divine consciousness (cit-kana), to which yoga ultimately leads, come to the devotee as a natural result of bhakti.
The superiority of bhakti over the other paths of realization is thus apparent. Those who prefer jnana to bhakti are therefore likened to people who run after the chaff and disregard the grain. The Gita (6.46-47) states unequivocally that yoga is superior to jnana and karma, and that bhakti is superior to them all. Jnana, yoga and karma, however, must not be underrated. They are useful as providing alternative ways to realize bliss for people who are not by nature and temperament inclined towards bhakti. They are also useful as aids to bhakti inasmuch as they are free from all desires for worldly enjoyment. But since they aim at mukti or a certain blissful state of self, they are not wholly disinterested or selfless in their approach (Cc. Madhya 19.149). ** (krsna-bhakta—niskama, ataeva 'santa' bhukti-mukti-siddhi-kami—sakali 'asanta') Therefore they may serve as aids to bhakti only in the earlier stages, but must be given up later for the sake of suddha-bhakti, or pure devotion, which is devotion without any selfish desire and without any cause (ahaituki). But even in the earlier stages, jnana, karma and vairagya cannot be regarded as essential parts of bhakti. Other virtues, like continence, kindness and cleanliness, also cannot be treated as parts of bhakti, although they are its natural concomitants (Cc. Madhya 22.145). ** (jnana-vairagyadi—bhaktira kabhu nahe 'anga' ahimsa-yama-niyamadi bule krsna-bhakta-sanga)
Rupa Gosvami defines uttama-bhakti, or the highest devotion, as harmonious pursuit of Krsna (anukulyena krsnanusilana) that is unenveloped by jnana and karma (jnana-karmady-anavrtam) ** (This is in opposition to Ramanuja, who defines it as jnana-karmanugrhitam,) and uninterrupted by the desire for anything. The pursuit is not harmonious if the devotee harbors in his heart any desire other than the desire to serve Krsna. Like the Kantian doctrine of the Categorical Imperative of Duty, the doctrine of bhakti implies the Categorical Imperative of Service to Krsna. The devotee serves Krsna for the pleasure of Krsna and not for anything else. ** (svanusthitasya dharmasya samsiddhir hari-tosanam (Bhag. 1.2.13)) But unlike the Kantian Imperative, which is dry and exacting and is an imposition from without, the Categorical Imperative of Service to Krsna is the natural function of the soul and is therefore pleasant and satisfying in itself. Though the devotee serves Krsna for the pleasure of Krsna, pleasure comes to him automatically. Such is the very nature of bhakti. But if the devotee's attitude towards service is tainted in the slightest degree by a concealed desire for his own pleasure, he is deprived, to that extent, of the supreme delight that comes from pure bhakti. Even the pleasure that automatically comes to the devotee from an act of service is condemned by a true devotee if it in any manner obstructs his service.
It is regrettable that the idea of service is not properly understood and appreciated by those who have difficulty reconciling it with their egoism. They think that the path of bhakti is meant exclusively for persons who are intellectually weak and temperamentally submissive. They cannot understand that in the spiritual world, where love reigns supreme, to serve is to love and to love is to rule. In love, self-sacrifice is self-realization, and self-effacement is self-fulfillment. In love there is reciprocity. Each member of the loving relation depends on the other; each feels deficient without the other. Each wants to draw close to the other and to win the other by love and service. The Lord, being the partner in the loving relation of bhakti, wants to realize Himself more fully through the loving service of His devotees. He derives greater pleasure from being controlled by His devotees than presiding over them. ** (bhakti-vasah puruso bhaktir eva bhuyasi (Mathara Sruti))
But though pure bhakti has no place for jnana, karma and vairagya as such, they are necessarily implied within it. Pure bhakti as directed to Bhagavan presupposes a certain knowledge of the object of devotion, His form, His attributes and the relationship between Him and the rest of the world. Caitanya-caritamrta warns against any indifference towards knowledge of this kind, which is necessary for firm faith in Krsna and exclusive devotion to Him (Cc. Adi 2.117). ** (siddhanta baliya citte na kara alasa iha haite krsne lage sudrdha manasa)
Bhakti also implies acts like hearing the praises of the Lord (sravana) and chanting His name or uttering His praises [kirtana). It implies vairagya, not in the sense of renouncing the objects of the world, but in dedicating them to the service of Krsna. It does not imply completely eradicating cravings and impulses, but completely transforming or purifying them under the subordination of the central impulse of service to Krsna. Bhakti resolves the natural conflict between life and spirit not by denying life but by making it conform to spirit. The infusion of spirit into life changes the very character of our instincts. The instincts are nature's urges. The infusion of spirit turns them into spiritual urges. The manifestations of natural urges are gross and painful, whereas the manifestations of spiritual urges are fine and delightful. Caitanyism thus introduces a new outlook on life. It promises a new joy by rejuvenating and reforming life on a spiritual pattern.
Bhakti is not inconsistent with either bhoga (enjoyment), vairagya (indifference to the objects of the world) or mukti (liberation), but neither bhoga, nor vairagya, nor mukti is the end of bhakti or a part of it (Cc. Madhya 22.145). ** (jnana-vairagyadi—bhaktira kabhu nahe 'anga' ahimsa-yama-niyamadi bule krsna-bhakta-sanga) True vairagya is that in which worldly objects are enjoyed without attachment and with the ultimate aim of realizing Krsna. Describing the qualification necessary for bhakti, Rupa Gosvami says that only those persons are fit for bhakti who have faith in Krsna (jata-sraddha) and who are neither too attached (natisakta) nor too indifferent (na nirvinna) to the world. Krsna says to Uddhava, "Jnana and vairagya as such do not promote the spiritual welfare of persons sincerely devoted to Me." ** (tasman mad-bhakti-yuktasya yogino vai mad-atmanah na jnanam na ca vairagyam prayah sreyo bhaved iha (Bhag. 11.20.31))
But jnana, karma and yoga as directed to Bhagavan not only are useful but are the very channels through which bhakti functions, for bhakti works on our entire personality. It takes different shapes in knowledge, devotion and service. "In knowledge it takes the force of divine curiosity. In devotion it is the integrating force." And in service it is the will taking the shape of a cosmic force and fulfilling the divine ends in creation. ** (M.N. Sirkar: Hindu Mysticism, pp. 118-19.)
Jnana and karma, therefore, cannot be treated in isolation from devotion. Devotion presupposes a certain knowledge of the object of devotion. This is indicated by the very nature of the hladini sakti (the pleasure potency of God), which includes the samvit-sakti, or the potency that is the seat of knowledge. But as an integrating force, devotion brings us closer to the object of devotion and leads to greater intimacy with it. Greater intimacy results in higher knowledge, which again is followed by active expression in love and service. The knowledge of the devotee is not like the abstract and passive knowledge that makes the monist stand as a witness or an independent onlooker to the movement of life. "To him [the devotee] knowledge and life are eternally associated. To know is to act. Every fresh acquisition of knowledge makes the movement of life more graceful, for it reveals the love that is at the heart of existence; and the two axes of love are knowledge and service." ** (Ibid., p. 115.)
The path of realization is but one, and that is the integral path of bhakti. Sri Caitanya regards it as the real teaching of the scriptures, the essence of the Vedas (Caitanya-bhagavata Madhya 1.148, 4.33). If people speak of many paths of realization, they do so because maya clouds their intelligence. ** (Bhag. 11.14.9) The intelligence of different persons is differently conditioned by the three modes of material nature. Therefore, they interpret the Vedas differently and speak of the paths of realization as more than one. ** (Bhag. 11.14.5-7)
It is not possible to look at jnana, karma and bhakti as means of realization in their proper perspective without reference to the nature of Bhagavan (the Supreme Lord) and jiva (the subordinate living being) and the relationship between them. Jiva is only an infinitesimal part of Bhagavan who has strayed away from Him under the influence of maya (illusion). The jiva's own power is limited, whereas the power of maya, as a potency of Bhagavan, is unlimited. The jiva therefore cannot cross the bounds of maya without the help of Bhagavan. Jnana, karma and yoga, in their abstract form, which involve independent efforts by the living being, are of no avail. The very nature of jiva as an independent being precludes him from realizing the Perfect by his own effort. The only course open to him is the way of bhakti. Sri Krsna Himself says, "It is difficult, indeed, to overcome My maya independently of Me. Only those sincerely devoted to Me can overcome it." (Bg. 7.14) Only jnana that proceeds from the higher intelligence Sri Krsna grants to one sincerely devoted to Him, or jnana that is a product of bhakti, the pleasure potency (hladini sakti) of Bhagavan, can dispel the clouds of ignorance and enable the jiva to attain Bhagavan. Jnana based on his own limited understanding cannot do this (Bg. 10.10-11).
Bhakti is a spiritually gravitational force that takes us to the center. It is a force that works at two ends. In our own hearts it roots out all egoistic impulses that carry us away from the center and releases the integrating forces leading to complete surrender of all our faculties, so that knowledge, love and will may act in complete harmony with the divine rhythm. In God it energizes His mercy and releases the forces of redemption that lead to the final integration of our being with Divine Will. This is confirmed by Krsna's urging Arjuna to surrender completely to His will, and His promising, on Arjuna's so doing, to free him from all bondage and sin. This is the principle of divine grace necessarily implied in bhakti.
It may be asked how the principle of divine grace can be reconciled with the transcendent and self-sufficient character of the Divine Being, who remains unaffected by the material and has no desires or motives. The answer lies in the nature of bhakti as a function of the hladini sakti, which, as we have already seen, energizes both Bhagavan and the bhakta. Like a lamp, which reveals itself as well as other objects, the hladini sakti of Bhagavan placed in the hearts of His devotees causes bliss to Him as well as to them. In fact, Bhagavan, the supreme relisher of bliss (rasika-sekhara), relishes the bliss flowing from the hladini sakti in the hearts of His devotees (sakty-ananda) even more than He relishes the bliss flowing from the nature of His own self (svarupananda). The gravitational force of the hladini sakti draws the bhakta towards Bhagavan, and Bhagavan towards the bhakta. The bhakta surrenders himself to Bhagavan, and Bhagavan surrenders Himself to the bhakta. Grace is nothing but the surrender of Bhagavan to the bhakta. ** (Grace is extended to the suffering souls not directly, but through the saintly persons who are themselves the recipients of grace, because God is of the nature of pure bliss and it is not possible for Him to experience their suffering. The saintly persons are also beyond the phenomenal world and its sufferings, but, it is said, they have the memory of past sufferings, which fills their hearts with sympathy.)
The whole of spiritual life is governed by the law of harmony. Love is the law of harmony in its highest form. Self-surrender on our part and mercy on the part of God are the manifestations of the law of harmony. In the yoga of self-surrender, the soul strikes a divine chord and realizes an inner harmony of the highest order and a poise and equilibrium much more than the intellectual.
The Ancient Vedic Scriptures Tell About The Most Extraordinary Marriage In History
by His Holiness Satsvarupa Dasa Gosvami
His Holiness Satsvarupa dasa Gosvami is the personal secretary of His Divine Grace A.C. BhaktiVedanta Swami Prabhupada.
A RECENT ARTICLE in the "Religion" section of Newsweek magazine included a charge from "one wizened Hardwar scholar" that the founder and spiritual master of the Krsna consciousness movement, His Divine Grace A.C. BhaktiVedanta Swami Prabhupada, had by an adroit juggling of the Vedic texts "sold his celibate followers on an erroneous belief in Krsna, a popular rural god with 16,000 wives." This is not the first time Newsweek has published criticisms of the Krsna consciousness movement. When devotees challenged Newsweek for having published a similar quotation, this one from a supposed scholar in the West, the Newsweek staff replied, "All of these [quotations] were presented without any effort on the part of Newsweek's editors to evoke any particular response; we prefer to offer our readers a wide range of facts and outlooks so that they may draw their own well-informed conclusions." Any critical reader must surely recognize, however, that Newsweek's editors carefully choose those facts and quotations that amplify their own views. This is not wrong, of course. But what is the competence of a mundane news magazine to evaluate spiritual truth? As it is said, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. And this especially applies when a magazine with 17 ½ million readers presents its own slant on spiritual life as an impartially selected "wide range of facts and opinions." Thus those who draw their spiritual knowledge from weekly news magazines are more likely to find fallacies than well-informed conclusions. For as this article will show, belief in Krsna is not at all erroneous, nor is Krsna merely a "rural god." And His extraordinary marriage to 16,000 wives is not the mythological escapade of a popular pagan deity. Rather, it is singular evidence that Krsna is indeed the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The basic defect in Newsweek's reporting on the Krsna consciousness movement is that it rests upon the authoritative statements of uncertified and, indeed, bogus authorities. Newsweek reporter Tony Clifton journeyed up the Ganges to solicit the supposedly expert spiritual opinions of the sadhus (holy men) of Rishikesh (the Dwelling of the Hermits). There he found "hundreds of holy men who do nothing more than 'subdue' their bodies almost to the point of death. Some starve themselves; others stand like storks on one leg for months at a time." Truly, Tony Clifton was impressed. "I saw one sadhu," he reported, "who has held his right arm outstretched for so long that it has atrophied. Another. . . lies on a bed of nails and never speaks." Here, he concluded, was "precisely the kind of discipline that has kept Hinduism alive for 3,500 years."
But we must ask ourselves, how does Tony Clifton know what has kept Hinduism alive? He may be an expert political correspondent. He seems comfortable and convincing in his reports on Mrs. Gandhi's government. But what does he know about sadhus and spiritual life? Bhagavad-gita, the most revered of India's sacred books, explicitly states that those who undergo obdurate self-torture are "asuras," or ungodly demons (Bg. 17.5-7). What about that, Mr. Clifton? What makes one a sadhu, anyway? Is the naked mendicant who sleeps on a bed of nails automatically a sadhu? What about the sword-swallower and the fire-eater at Ringling Brothers? Are they sadhus too?
If one wants to understand Krsna, one must understand Him from genuine authorities, not from the fakirs in the streets of Hardwar. The statement that Krsna is "a rural god with 16,000 wives" is a blunder that shows that its speaker does not even know the basic biography of Krsna. When Krsna appeared on earth 5,000 years ago. He lived in the rural village of Vrndavana, but in His life as a cowherd boy He never took even one wife. He married only after He left Vrndavana and became an opulent king in the city of Dvaraka.
Putting aside the opinions of the pseudo-sadhus of Rishikesh and Hardwar, we can find the authentic description of Krsna's life and identity in India's ancient Vedic scriptures, especially in Srimad-Bhagavatam. Srimad-Bhagavatam is the 5,000-year-old natural commentary on the famed Vedanta-sutra. which gives classical definitions of the Absolute Truth in terse Sanskrit codes. Since Vedanta-sutra is extremely complex and difficult to follow, its author, the sage Vyasadeva, composed Srimad-Bhagavatam to describe the Absolute Truth more clearly. Both Vedanta-sutra and Srimad-Bhagavatam begin with the same phrase—janmady asya yatah—which refers to "the source from which everything emanates." Vedanta, however, describes this source abstractly, whereas Srimad-Bhagavatam explicitly reveals this source to be Sri Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Many other Vedic scriptures confirm Krsna's identity as the Supreme Truth. The Atharva Veda, for example, says, brahmanyo Devaki-putrah: "Krsna, the son of Devaki, is the Supreme Personality." Similarly, the Brahma-samhita says, isvarah paramah krsnah: "Krsna is the supreme controller." And in Bhagavad-gita Sri Krsna Himself confirms that He is the original source of everything (aham sarvasya prabhavah) and that nothing is superior to Him (mattah parataram nanyat kincid asti dhananjayah). Since Bhagavad-gita has deeply influenced writers and philosophers for thousands of years, Krsna's being the speaker of the Gita also testifies to His supremacy.
"Although I am eternal," Krsna says in the Gita, "and My transcendental body never deteriorates, and although I am the Lord of all sentient beings, I still appear in this world in every millennium in My original transcendental form." (Bg. 4.6) Krsna appeared 5,000 years ago as the son of Nanda and Yasoda in the small Indian village of Vrndavana. His life is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam's Tenth Canto, which His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has summarized in his two-volume work Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Everyone in Vrndavana dearly loved Krsna-as a butter thief, a transcendental flute player, the tender of thousands of cows and, even when He was but a small child, the killer of many demons. He was the most dearly beloved of His parents, the cows, the calves, and the boys and girls of Vrndavana. Krsna's pastimes in Vrndavana are His most confidential, and one can enter into them only by unalloyed affection for Krsna in His original form as a cowherd boy. Not by practicing rigid austerities in the Himalayas, performing yogic meditation, or becoming a religion editor for a big magazine can one ever hope to realize this most perfect knowledge of Krsna.
After spending His boyhood in Vrndavana, Krsna lived as King of the opulent city of Dvaraka. Only there did He marry. In Dvaraka, Krsna played the role of a ksatriya. Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita, as the supreme creator, He has designed human society with four natural divisions. Thus according to a person's qualities, one works as either a brahmana (an intellectual or spiritual teacher), a ksatriya (an administrator or warrior), a vaisya (an agriculturalist and protector of cows), or a sudra (a laborer or servant). In a society that recognizes these natural divisions, everyone can execute the duties of his occupation as a service to the Supreme Lord and thus achieve the real purpose of human life-to go back home, back to the kingdom of God. Krsna Himself, being the Supreme Godhead, the creator and maintainer of the universe, is above all these social divisions, yet in His pastimes He acted first as cowherd and then as king, just to set the perfect example of how a vaisya or ksatriya should live.
In India during the time of Krsna's appearance, ksatriya kings often had more than one wife, and Krsna had eight. Later, He married more than 16,000 wives. Srila Prabhupada comments, however, that we should not have been surprised if He had married even sixteen million wives, for Krsna, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is unlimited. Indeed, we may note with wonder that Krsna married only 16,108 wives.
Our wizened Hardwar scholar sardonically comments that the followers of the Krsna consciousness movement worship a god with 16,000 wives whereas they themselves are celibate, as if to suggest that the devotees believe in Krsna so that they may derive some kind of vicarious sexual enjoyment from worshiping a deity who is either fictitious, lusty or both. Had he been not only wizened but wise as well, our so-called scholar might have avoided such crassness. As stated in the Padma Purana (atah sri-krsna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih), one cannot understand Krsna through speculation or conjecture because Krsna is beyond the mind and senses. Sri Krsna Himself declares in Bhagavad-gita:
avajananti mam mudha
"Only fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature and My supreme dominion over all that be." (Bg. 9.11) Pure devotees of Krsna, however, who know Krsna to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead, enjoy transcendental pleasure simply by chanting His holy names-Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Thus freed from the desires of the material world, they engage fully in Krsna's pure devotional service, knowing Him to be the Supreme Personality, original and inexhaustible.
The Vedic sages who dedicated their lives to pursuing the Absolute Truth had no reason to waste time with made-up tales of an imaginary sexual superhero. As a powerful and strictly renounced sage, Sukadeva Gosvami, the original speaker of Srimad-Bhagavatam, would never have taken part in discourses about Krsna's marriages if they were ordinary sexual affairs. Therefore his keen interest in Krsna's marriages proves that they have nothing to do with mundane lust. Furthermore, Vedic philosophers like Vyasadeva and Narada worship these pastimes and declare that hearing about them can free one from the suffering of repeated birth and death. These are the truly revered authorities on spiritual understanding, and theirs are the opinions we should regard as conclusive, not those of a nameless scholar.
We should also note for the sake of accuracy that the followers of Krsna are not necessarily celibate. This is another misconception. Many Krsna conscious devotees are married, and the movement's Gurukula school in Dallas, Texas, with its abundance of Krsna conscious children, gives evidence that they are not at all celibate. In Krsna consciousness, one need not give up sex; one need only regulate sex, like everything else, to serve Krsna, the Supreme Lord.
Now, just how did Krsna come to marry 16,000 wives? We can find the history of this pastime in Srimad-Bhagavatam (or Srila Prabhupada's summary study Krsna). Once a demoniac king named Bhaumasura was creating disturbances all over the universe, going even so far as stealing treasure from the demigods of the higher planets. Finally, acting on an appeal from the demigod Indra, Krsna, with His wife Satyabhama, rode forth from His palace on the back of His giant eagle, Garuda, to put an end to Bhaumasura's mischief.
Flying on the back of Garuda, Krsna appeared like a blackish cloud, shining with electricity, gliding by the sun. Garuda, an expansion of the Supreme Lord, is almost as powerful as the Lord Himself. Followers of the Vedas praise him as one of Krsna's most elevated devotees, for he always intimately serves the Lord by carrying the Lord wherever He desires.
Arriving at Bhaumasura's fortress, Krsna found it surrounded by many protective barriers. After routing Bhaumasura's outlying circle of military guards, Krsna used His transcendental club and Sudarsana cakra, a razor-sharp weapon of pure energy that appears like a whirling disc of light, to smash through a network of electricity, a watery moat, and a wall of deadly gas. Then, fighting from the sky, Krsna killed Bhaumasura's remaining military commanders one by one and finally beheaded Bhaumasura with His Sudarsana. Thus Krsna manifested His fighting spirit to vanquish the demon and demonstrate the unlimited variety of His activities.
After Bhaumasura's death, Krsna entered the demon's opulent palace, where he found 16,100 princesses, whom the demon had kidnapped. When the princesses saw the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, they were captivated by His beauty. Thus they prayed for His causeless mercy with a desire to become His wives. According to the Vedic social system, the demon's carrying off the girls had dishonored them; no one, therefore, would have married them. Krsna, however, as the Supersoul in everyone's heart, could understand their pure desire. Therefore He decided to accept them as His wives.
The marriage was not merely a token of acceptance. To be actually present as the ever-faithful husband of each princess, Krsna expanded Himself into 16,100 forms. Thus, 16,100 Krsnas married the 16,100 princesses in 16,100 different palaces-all in one auspicious moment. Thus He proved that He is indeed the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Krsna accepted these 16,100 girls not because of a desire to gratify His senses but because of their pure devotion. Krsna is atmarama, self-satisfied. Moreover, in the spiritual world He is served constantly, with great reverence and affection, by thousands of transcendental goddesses of fortune. Only because these 16,100 princesses prayed to Him with pure hearts did Krsna agree to accept them.
The statement that Krsna married 16,100 wives is not at all an exaggeration. As explained in Bhagavad-gita, Krsna expands Himself into the heart of every living being as the Supersoul to give memory, forgetfulness and knowledge. Consequently, for Him to come out of the hearts of 16,100 of His devotees is not at all impossible. Krsna behaved with each queen like an ordinary mortal. He built them each a palace and gave each queen personal attention and opulence beyond compare.
We must admit, however, that Krsna's marrying so many wives greatly strains our usual concepts of reality. But we are not alone in our perplexity. Even Krsna's greatest devotees cannot fully comprehend Krsna's pastimes. Krsna's great devotee Narada Muni, who eternally travels to praise Krsna in different planets throughout the universe, heard of Krsna's marriage and wanted to see for himself how Krsna was living with His wives. He therefore approached the palace of Krsna and His principal queen, Rukmini.
Narada Muni entered the palace, a wonderful structure with pillars and arches that glowed with sapphires, diamonds, ivory and gold. Krsna was being fanned by Rukmini, but when He heard that Narada had come, He immediately went forth to greet him. Taking the opportunity to show the world how to honor a devotee, He washed the sage's feet, gave him something to eat and asked if there were anything He could do to serve him. Narada, however, did not forget his own position. He prayed to the Lord, "Please grant that I may never forget Your lotus feet in any condition of my life." Narada then left that palace and entered another.
This time he found the Lord, in the company of another queen, playing chess with His confidential friend Uddhava. But when Lord Krsna again rose to offer him respect, Narada simply walked out in astonishment. As a great sage who can travel from planet to planet without the aid of any vehicle, Narada knows how yogis, by mystic perfection, can expand themselves into as many as eight forms. Those eight forms, however, will all look the same, like duplicate snapshots; the expanded forms cannot act independently. Therefore, when Narada saw Krsna acting independently in individual expansions, he was filled with the greatest wonder.
Narada entered another palace and found the Lord acting as an affectionate father with His children. In another palace he found Krsna consulting ministers on business; in another, performing religious duties with His wife; and in still others, meditating, giving charity and seeing to the marriages of His sons. In each palace, Krsna was performing a different kind of pastime.
Having seen one single Krsna living simultaneously in 16,100 different palaces, Narada prayed to Lord Krsna: "My dear Lord, You have revealed to me Your inconceivable mystic power, by which You are personally present in each palace. You are indeed the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Please give me Your blessings and permission to travel all over the universes to sing the glories of Your transcendental activities."
Krsna replied to Narada that He was displaying such varieties of householder life just to teach the whole world how to act. Ordinarily, householder life entangles one in material affairs, which are the cause of suffering in a cycle of repeated birth and death. But when Krsna is the center, one's household is sanctified, and thus even while executing the duties of family life one may progress on the path back to Godhead. Lord Krsna, therefore, in His pastimes as Dvaraka's king, set the example of ideal family life while at the same time proving Himself the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
This, then, is the way to understand Lord Krsna and His transcendental pastimes. Those who view Krsna with mundane eyes, and who have only mundane news magazines to guide them, will see Krsna to be no more than a mythological figure or an ordinary human being. But those with clear vision, who have learned about Krsna from authentic spiritual authorities, will understand the import of His pastimes. As stated in Bhagavad-gita, simply by virtue of this understanding, they will be able to transcend the entire material world and join Krsna and His pure devotees in the eternal world of pure devotional service.
A Back to Godhead Analysis
Dying in the Material World
"Life is amply long for him who orders it properly." -Seneca (8 b.c.-a.d. 65)
Scientists of various disciplines are working hard to discover the principles of the biological clock within the human body that sets the pace for aging and finally signals the time for death. Thus they hope to learn how to prolong man's life, and apparently they are making some progress. How successful their efforts will prove remains to be seen, but perhaps even more important, if they do succeed, how shall we use our extra time?
Just to live a long life is not in itself especially praiseworthy. After all, many trees live for hundreds and even thousands of years. How, then, is the longevity of a human being superior to that of a tree? One may say that human beings are superior because they breathe, whereas trees do not. But the bellows of a blacksmith also breathes. Unlike the tree and the bellows, a human being eats and enjoys sex, but do not the beasts all around us do the same? What, then, is the superior quality of human life?
The distinguishing quality of a human being is that he has the intelligence to inquire about the purpose of life. The Upanisads therefore declare: "He is a miserly man who does not solve the problems of life as a human being and who thus quits the world like the cats and dogs, without understanding the science of self-realization."
A miser does not know how to use his resources properly. Therefore, even if science grants us more years, the extra time will be of little avail to a miserly materialist. Those who are too materialistic do not inquire into the problems of life. They spend their nights sleeping or enjoying sex, and during the day they make money and maintain their families. The temporary happiness of living in comfortable homes with their wives and children lulls them into a false sense of security. Thus although they know that everyone who came before them has died, somehow this does not bring them to realize that they too will die-and that they must make their lives successful before death comes.
The Vedic literature asks, "What is the value of a prolonged life that is wasted without attention to the meaning of human life? Even a moment of full consciousness would be better, for that gives one a start in pursuing one's supreme interest."
In trying to extend the span of human life instead of trying to understand the purpose of the time already allotted to us, scientists are misusing their energy. They are giving their attention to the essential problems of birth, death, disease and old age, but they are approaching these problems in patchwork fashion. They are changing the way in which these problems attack us, but they cannot solve the problems. They may put off old age and death, but neither death nor old age can be stopped. They may find a cure for one disease, but they can never put an end to disease itself. Thus these problems always weigh heavily upon us. The scientists alter the way in which the problems affect us, but that is like shifting a heavy burden from one's shoulders to one's head and then again to the shoulders. We must all still bear the burden of the miseries nature places upon us.
Even the scientists probing into the causes of aging and death will also have to die. At the time of their death, if they have neglected the purpose of life-spiritual realization-because they were too preoccupied with their work, what will they have gained?
Of course, many scientists have avoided facing this problem by adhering to the theory that life itself is but a series of chemical reactions. According to this view, human life is no more than an intricate pattern of biochemical transformations. If this idea is valid, however, why should scientists want to interfere with the workings of nature's plans? Why is it that even the scientists themselves do not wish to die? If a scientist were to spill a flask of chemicals, he might be annoyed that his experiments were momentarily interrupted, but he would simply clean up the mess and go on with his work. But if his wife, son or daughter were suddenly to die, the same scientist would react quite differently. If human life is no more than a series of chemical reactions, why should this be so? In the Vietnam war, tons of chemicals were lost through bombings and other military operations. Yet how many of us lamented for such a loss? We grieve for the lives lost in the conflict. This indicates that life must be more than merely chemical.
The Vedic scripture Bhagavad-gita explains that the living being is in reality an eternally existing spiritual soul. This being so, scientific research into longevity is unnecessary and misdirected because every living being is already eternal. The real point, therefore, is not how to prolong one's existence within the body, but to make one's life successful. While in this human form, one should learn how to recover his eternality. Otherwise, his life is a failure.
The Vedic history Srimad-Bhagavatam tells us that the great King Pariksit, 5,000 years ago, learned that he had only seven days more in which to live. Thus he immediately left his home and kingdom and spent his last days hearing from the self-realized saint Sukadeva Gosvami about the purpose of human life. "What is the duty of everyone," the King inquired, "and especially of one who is about to die?" The Bhagavatam records that by hearing Sukadeva's replies to these questions, the King, in a mere seven days, attained perfection.
The Bhagavatam therefore Rukmini that although one may hear about, speak about or conduct research into innumerable subjects, an intelligent person should spend his valuable time hearing from self-realized authorities about the science of self-realization. This science begins with an understanding of one's own spiritual identity, and it culminates in an understanding of the supreme spiritual identity, Lord Sri Krsna, and our relationship with Him. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gita, an intelligent person who can fully understand this science can attain freedom from old age and death and return to his eternal spiritual position.
The ancient Indian politician Canakya Pandita has commented that one cannot buy back so much as a moment of wasted time, even for millions of dollars. We therefore appeal to scientists, educators and, indeed, all intelligent men not to waste time, money and valuable human energy for research that will be of only temporary benefit and that will distract both them and those who follow them from the central purpose of human life. We request such men to give their attention to the science of self-realization as presented in such books as Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, for thus they can fulfill all their present scientific goals-and go far beyond them.
by Visakha-devi dasi
Visakha-devi dasi graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1970 and then wrote a technical book on the art of close-up photography. She and Yaduvara dasa, her husband, also a professional photographer joined ISKCON in 1971 while shooting assignments in India. They are now traveling around the world making documentary films about the Krsna consciousness movement.
Ninety miles southeast of New Delhi, India, is a railway station known as Mathura. From Mathura, a bumpy seven-mile ride by horse-cart brings one to a unique town called Vrndavana. This simple village is unlike all other places in the world, for when Lord Krsna, the Supreme Godhead, comes to earth with His associates to display His pastimes, He comes only to Vrndavana. Indeed, Krsna never leaves Vrndavana-and, by His grace, pure devotees can appreciate the Lord's presence in Vrndavana even today.
After the onset of Kali-yuga, the present Age of Quarrel, the importance of Vrndavana was forgotten until 450 years ago, when Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the original father of the Krsna consciousness movement, sent two of His chief disciples, Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami, to excavate the sites in Vrndavana where Krsna had performed His pastimes. These Gosvamis, assisted by Srila Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami, Jiva Gosvami, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami and Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, established important temples in Vrndavana and wrote books to explain the science of devotional service. They scrutinizingly studied all the revealed scriptures with the aim of establishing eternal religious principles for the benefit of all human beings. The Gosvamis not only explained devotional service but also taught by their own example how to develop pure love for Krsna.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that the purpose of going to a holy place like Vrndavana is to learn how to love Krsna. Love for Krsna is dormant within every living being, but in material consciousness one forgets Krsna and thus misdirects one's love. Therefore the Vedic literature Rukmini that one approach a spiritual master and learn from him how to revive one's Krsna consciousness.
Nature's greatest gift to a living being is the human form of life, for only in the human form is one able to inquire about the Absolute Truth and thus attain true happiness. Human intelligence is meant for such inquiry. According to Srimad-Bhagavatam, therefore, "A human being who goes to a sacred place simply to bathe in a holy river and not to meet men of spiritual wisdom should be considered no better than a cow or an ass."
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness has therefore built an International Center in Vrndavana so that people from all over the world may come to Vrndavana to learn how to love Krsna and thus fulfill the purpose of human life.
In The Nectar of Devotion, a summary study of Srila Rupa Gosvamis Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Srila Prabhupada writes: "Rupa Gosvami has stated that. . . five kinds of devotional activities-namely, residing in Vrndavana, worshiping the Deity of the Lord, reciting Srimad-Bhagavatam, serving a devotee, and chanting the Hare Krsna mantra-are so potent that a small attachment for any one of these five items can arouse devotional ecstasy even in a neophyte." Krsna consciousness, therefore, offers a scientific program for reviving one's original blissful nature. We humbly request our readers to understand and adopt this program and thus learn how to love Krsna, the Supreme Lord. One who follows this path can purify his vision. Thus he will be able to see Lord Krsna in Vrndavana, and see Vrndavana everywhere.
by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
IN THE PRESENT material world people are interested in understanding the atma (a word meaning body, mind and soul) only in reference to the body. Medical science, physiology and biology are concerned with the body, and psychology is concerned with the mind, with thinking, feeling and willing. Unfortunately, however, no one is studying the deepest meaning of atma-that is, atma as soul. Many schools and colleges throughout the world are dedicated to the study of physiology, biology, psychology, sociology and so on, but where is the school for the understanding of the soul? Many nations may be proud of their scientific advancement, but they are simply thinking that the body is everything. In the Vedas it is stated that one who thinks that the atma is the body is an ass. The body is composed of material elements, and those who cannot see the atma or who do not understand atma-tattva, the science of the soul, are concerned only with the material body. According to the Vedas, those who are interested only in the body and mind to the exclusion of the soul are called materialistic.
The purpose of the Krsna conscious philosophy is to understand the science of the soul.
vadanti tat tattva-vidas
"Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this nondual substance Brahman (the impersonal feature of the Absolute Truth], Paramatma [the localized feature of the Absolute within everyone's heart] or Bhagavan [the Supreme Personality of Godhead]." (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 1.2.11)
A materialistic person cannot understand this science of the soul, for materialists are interested only in mental speculation and sense gratification. In India there are many famous sadhus, or saintly persons, but most of them are simply interested in mental speculation. They are not perfect. Those who are busy understanding the bodily conception of life are also materialistic. But unfortunately these materialists are accepted as leaders in politics, sociology, philosophy and so on. Many are accepted as incarnations of God, as magicians or as yogis. Through many devious means they mislead society, and consequently the present world is in a chaotic condition.
In Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sukadeva Gosvami speaks to everyone, but he particularly addresses Pariksit Maharaja as rajendra, "best of kings." Pariksit Maharaja was addressed in this way because just before his death he was hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam, which deals with the science of the Absolute Truth, from Sukadeva Gosvami. Generally people are not interested in the subject matter of Srimad-Bhagavatam. In those days, however, everyone was interested in the science of the soul. Ordinary human beings are generally concerned with the bodily conception of life, or with mental speculation. They enjoy hundreds and thousands of various subjects, but they are not conversant with the science of the soul. Those who are really interested in the science of the soul are active in Krsna consciousness.
Our goal is to become fully Krsna conscious. To attain this goal, we follow the six original gosvamis-Sri Rupa, Sanatana, Bhatta Raghunatha, Sri Jiva, Gopala Bhatta and Raghunatha dasa Gosvamis. These gosvamis were not gosvamis in name only. The six gosvamis explained how one can become interested in the science of the soul. Of course today there are many gosvamis who indulge in sinful activities, but the original six gosvamis were different. When we speak of gosvami, we refer to the followers of the original six gosvamis, the direct disciples of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
The first qualification for a gosvami is that he knows how to control his senses. Generally people are disturbed by six kinds of urges-the urge to talk, the urge to become angry, and the urges of the mind, stomach, tongue and genitals. Through these urges, material nature forces us to remain in the material world. A gosvami is one who controls the urges of the bodily senses. As soon as one knows how to control these urges, he can become a gosvami. Many people are forced to act according to the urges of the body, yet they claim to be gosvamis. A gosvami, however, should be ideal. A real gosvami should follow in the footsteps of the original six gosvamis. Not only the gosvamis who remain in Vrndavana but those everywhere should be ideal gosvamis, for Vrndavana is everywhere. Wherever there is Krsna's temple and Krsna's glorification (sankirtana), Vrndavana is present. It was Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself who said, "My mind is always in Vrndavana." This was because He was always thinking of Krsna. Krsna comes as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu just to teach us how to be pure devotees of God. To be pure devotees, we must follow His instructions. In Bhagavad-gita Krsna's most confidential instruction is:
man-mana bhava mad-bhakto
"Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, offer obeisances and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me." (Bg. 9.34)
One who thinks in this way is always living in Vrndavana. if one faithfully worships Radha and Krsna and strictly follows the rules and regulations, he is in Vrndavana, even though according to ordinary vision he may be situated in New York or London or Hong Kong. if one worships Radha and Krsna in Vrndavana, India, he must actually be a gosvami, a first-class Vaisnava, or devotee. This Vrndavana was excavated by the Gosvamis, particularly Rupa and Sanatana Gosvamis. Raghunatha Bhatta, Jiva, Gopala Bhatta and Raghunatha dasa Gosvamis all joined to execute the order of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and wrote books about Krsna and His pastimes, books that contain very high spiritual understanding.
What is the business of a gosvami? Above all, a gosvami is always busy with Krsna kirtana (kirtaniyah sada harih). Kirtana does not refer only to chanting Hare Krsna and playing cymbals. Kirtana also means writing books about Krsna as well as reading books about Him. Kirtana also includes talking of Krsna, thinking of Him, worshiping Him, cooking for Him and eating for Him. All that is Krsna kirtana. A gosvami, therefore, should always engage in Krsna kirtana in this way or that, twenty-four hours a day. Premamrtambho-nidhi. One who has pure love for Krsna can remain satisfied simply by engaging in kirtana. One should always consider his time wasted unless he is engaged in Krsna's service. The time we take for sleep is simply wasted time. We should try to save this time.
The Gosvamis were engaged twenty-four hours a day in the service of Krsna. They slept only two or at the utmost three hours daily. It is said that the six Gosvamis conquered nidra, ahara and vihara. Nidra refers to sleep, ahara refers to eating or collecting, and vihara refers to sense enjoyment. A gosvami is one who has mastered the senses. The word svami means master, and go refers to the senses. One who cannot control his tongue or his sleep, however, is not a gosvami but a godasa. Dasa means servant. Instead of becoming servants of the senses, we must become servants of Krsna. Unless we conquer the senses, they will always be requesting us to eat, sleep and have sexual intercourse. This is the process of material life. In material life, one is subjected to the dictations of the senses. But although the mind may tell us to eat more and sleep more, the gosvami says "no" to the senses. We therefore have to become so strong that we will reply "no." In this way one can be a gosvami,
A gosvami is dear to all kinds of men. Dhiradhira-jana-priyau: he is kind to the dhira and adhira. The dhira is one who controls the senses, and the adhira is one who cannot control them. The Gosvamis were kind and dear to all. When the six Gosvamis were in Vrndavana, they were very popular. If a man had a quarrel with his wife, he would go to Sanatana Gosvami, who would give him directions by which he could settle his problems. When Sanatana Gosvami gave his judgment-be it true or not-people would simply accept it. The Gosvamis were that popular. The people who asked Sanatana Gosvami for advice were not saintly people, but their lives were successful because they abided by the orders of Sanatana Gosvami. Thus they also were liberated. They may have acted improperly, but they abided by the orders of Sanatana Gosvami. Sanatana Gosvami was also very kind to them. The Gosvamis even used to clothe the ordinary men, give them prasada, and have them come and hear Hare Krsna, and in that way the Gosvamis would control them. As soon as one is under the control of a gosvami, he becomes a Vaisnava, or devotee. Respect cannot be demanded, but when one is a genuine gosvami, people who see him will automatically offer respect. To receive such respect, one must be a clean and pure Vaisnava. Sometimes when a person sees a gosvami or a pure Vaisnava, he will automatically chant Hare Krsna. The gosvami does not have to ask one to chant Hare Krsna. People automatically chant.
Nor is a Vaisnava envious. His only business is to see how to bring people to Krsna consciousness. That is also Prahlada Maharaja's philosophy.
naivodvije para duratyaya-vaitaranyas
"My dear Lord, I have no problems and want no benediction from You because I am quite satisfied to chant Your holy name. This is sufficient for me because whenever I chant I immediately merge in an ocean of transcendental bliss. I only lament to see others bereft of Your love. They are rotting in material activities for transient material pleasures and spoiling their lives toiling all day and night simply for sense gratification, with no attachment for love of Godhead. I am simply lamenting for them and devising various plans to deliver them from the clutches of maya." (Bhag. 7.9.43)
The entire world is suffering from material disease, and people are now very unhappy. Let us therefore preach this Krsna consciousness. My spiritual master used to say, "I have so many temples, but if by selling all these buildings I can save one man from this material disease, my mission will be successful." That is a gosvami. A gosvami is always trying to save others from the material disease. Rupa Gosvami wrote Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu with this in mind. He quoted many Vedic scriptures and gave a great deal of evidence in that work, for previously people would take Vedic references as truth. At present, however, people will not accept any evidence. They will only accept the evidence given by their own senses, if they like something they will accept it, and if they do not like it they will reject it. Formerly society was not so degraded. As soon as a person gave evidence from Vedic literatures, people would accept it. In Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Rupa Gosvami quoted from scriptures like the Puranas, the Vedanta-sutra, the Upanisads, the Mahabharata, and Srimad-Bhagavatam. The purpose in quoting all these literatures was to establish real religious principles (sad-dharma). By following a true system of religion, one can become a great lover of God. What kind of religion will maintain slaughterhouses? Only when there is no attempt to preach real knowledge are slaughterhouses maintained by the thousands with the sanction of so-called religion.
Why did the Gosvamis write so many books to establish real religion? They were simply interested in the welfare of the general populace. Unless we follow religious principles, human life is defeated. The human form of life is a chance given by nature to escape the cycle of birth and death. Rascals do not realize that birth, old age, disease and death are going on. They simply try to solve temporary problems, not knowing that the real problems are birth, old age, disease and death. By following religious principles, one can stop the repetition of birth and death. Imparting this knowledge is the business of a gosvami. Salvation or liberation does not rest with this party or that party, with capitalism or communism or whatever. What will people derive from such parties? One may follow capitalism, communism or any other "ism," but after death he is immediately placed under the grip of material nature. At that time, concepts of nationalism will simply go to hell as one becomes a dog. That is nature's way. If one acts like a cat or dog all his life and does not take advantage of the human form, nature will give him the body of a cat or dog in the next life. This is the secret science of nature, which is unknown to so many people. Not knowing this science, one may become a lower animal in the next life, even though in this life one may be a president or prime minister.
At the time of death we have to accept another body. What body we accept will depend on our nature. Material nature will afford us a suitable body. There are many cats and dogs, and we may wonder where they all come from. At the same time we see so many people wasting the human form of life. Because they neglect the purpose of human life, they are given the bodies of lower animals. In this way so many lower animals come about. We may not accept this idea; we may have our own theory. But nature's law may be different from our theory. After all, what do we know? We have to learn from the authorities. The business of a gosvami is to save people from becoming cats and dogs.
Because the six Gosvamis received the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, they were able to lessen the burden of this material world. They lived in an ideal way and set the example for others to follow. Simply by following in their footsteps, our lives will become successful. We should ignore the many pseudo gosvamis and simply try to follow the real gosvamis. In this way our lives may become successful.
Instructions to the devotees of the Hare Krsna movement.
New York City, March 31, 1974
His Holiness Visnujana Svami, joined the Krsna consciousness movement in San Francisco in 1967. He has recently returned to the U.S. from India, where he sailed down the Ganges, stopping at towns and villages along her banks to chant Hare Krsna, distribute food first offered to Krsna and preach Krsna consciousness.
"One may artificially repress the desires of the senses, although the taste for sensual enjoyment remains; but by ceasing such enjoyments, experiencing a higher taste, one is fixed in consciousness." (Bhagavad-gita 2.59)
When one experiences ruci, which, means a taste for Spiritual life, he can rise above the attraction of the illusory energy by the mercy of the Lord. Then he is able to feel vairagya. Vairagya is the strength that protects us, even when we are neophytes in Krsna consciousness, from breaking the Krsna conscious regulative principles and being attracted to the flickering sensual enjoyments of the mundane world. Ruci, and vairagya-the taste for spiritual life and the strength to maintain it-are rarely achieved.
If you had a huge diamond and were carrying it around with you on the street, people might flock to see such a diamond. Ruci and vairagya, however, are much more valuable diamonds. But although you are all walking through the streets with these valuable gifts, unfortunately no one is interested, in following you to take advantage of them. Ruci and vairagya are such wonderful gems, however, that if you give them away to others, these gems will still stay with you. No one has everseen diamonds you can give to everyone and still keep with you at the same time. But that is the value of ruci and vairagya, the taste for spiritual life and the energy to be protected from the pull of maya.
One can achieve a spiritual taste and spiritual strength by the mercy of Krsna, and to understand how this works is a great science. By the mercy of Krsna, one gets the association of a guru. Krsna is living with us-with all living entities, or jivas-in the form of the Paramatma, the Supreme Soul. This Supreme Soul accompanies every living entity as he wanders throughout the 8,400,000 species of life in his vain search for happiness. This Supersoul is a great friend-actually the only friend- of the living entity, and He arranges to fulfill the desires of His friend, the tiny living being, regardless of whether they are perverted or pure.
This Supreme Soul, however, is always waiting for the small jiva soul to turn to Him in love and affection, leaving aside the false happiness of the material body. He knows that some day the tiny soul will want to get out of material entanglement. This may happen because of frustration with painful experiences, because of a desire to achieve financial stability, because of curiosity, or because of wisdom (these are four major reasons why one turns to Krsna consciousness) ; but when the Supersoul sees that the tiny jiva soul is turning towards Him, towards the Absolute Truth, He gradually directs him, purifies him, and gives him the association of a great bhakti-vedanta, or devotee of the Lord.
As soon as one gets the association of the bhakti-vedanta, the pure devotee or spiritual master, and hears from his lips the nectarean waves flowing just like the wonderful River Ganges, these waves enter his ears and his heart and purify him. Thus he is freed from the seeds of contaminated material desires. When he hears sufficiently, his intelligence becomes satisfied, and he agrees to act on the instructions of his bona fide spiritual master. The more he acts on these instructions, the more he becomes freed from past bad habits and the conditional responses of this material world. Thus his conditional association is completely vanquished. This, of course, is where he achieves a spiritual taste (ruci) and spiritual strength (vairagya).
When one develops a taste for associating with pure devotees and carrying out their orders, one is able to see things as they are. In the beginning, the spiritual master instructs the disciple about the misery of this material world.
We should never minimize the importance of hearing how miserable this material world is. Bhagavad-gita explains that one should always hear about the flickering nature of the mundane world. One should constantly remember how much suffering is here. Otherwise one may be attracted again, if one is not sufficiently aware of the miseries of material existence, one might still be attracted by its false beauty. But when one can actually see the plain fact of material samsara, the cycle of birth and death, this acts as a great stimulus for spiritual life. This is why, whenever Srila Prabhupada lectures, he always tells us, "This world is full of miseries. Even the body causes you misery. You may serve your senses like a dog or an ass, but the senses are bad masters that won't give you any payment for your service." He reminds us over and over again. Why? Because this is a stimulus for spiritual life.
One might think, "Well, I don't need to hear this any more. I've heard it over and over again. Let me now just hear about the superior, spiritual energy of the Lord." If one makes this error, he will also mistake the spiritual pastimes of the Lord for material pastimes and fall down again into material activities, thinking that they are equal to the activities of the Lord. Unless one hears about his precarious position as a tiny spiritual being in this material world, he will actually continue his propensity to think himself as good as the Lord, and to think his activities and pastimes equal to the Lord's. Therefore one should never fail to hear sufficiently, daily, about the miseries of material existence.
There is no happiness here in this material world. Whatever is taken as happiness but is not connected with the Lord has no value. Therefore Krsna says, "Know it to be only a shadow of reality, only a shadow of happiness." Srila Prabhupada gives the example that a foolish animal runs away from an actual reservoir of water to chase a mirage in the desert, and thus it dies. Similarly, all of us have left the nectarean pastimes of the Lord, and now we are trying to enact perverted pastimes in this material world. Thus we are simply stranded in the dry sands of material life, and we are suffering. Our suffering is so acute that it dulls our senses, so much so that we cannot even perceive that we are suffering. The material energy is so cruel that it will make one think that suffering is happiness.
Therefore it is our duty to travel and preach about the material energy, the spiritual energy and the controller of both-Krsna. Hearing these descriptions, people will gradually be able to see their position. The material energy will force them to see their position, and then they will remember, "Oh, this was told to me long ago by the devotees of the Hare Krsna movement. I should have listened to them then." At that time they will come to us. When the material energy forces them to remember what we have been telling them for so many years, what they have read in Back to Godhead for so many years-when it forces them to see this truth of material suffering-then they will come to us. Srila Prabhupada has said that the time is coming in the world when there will be so much chaos that people will be forced to come to us. Then we must be able to gradually turn them towards Krsna consciousness and engage them in Krsna's devotional service.