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A Taste of Transcendence
Shrila Bhakti Ballabha Tirtha Gosvami Maharaja
The Welfare of the Living Being 16
What is Bhakti? 27
Krishna, The Greatest Magician 44
Answers for all Time 58
The Message of Bhagavad-gita 77
The Significance of Ekadashi-vrata 94
Sanctifying the Heart 137
About the Author 150
Sanskrit Pronunciation Guide 154
The author of this publication, His Holiness Shrila Bhakti Ballabha Tirtha Gosvami Maharaja, is often heard to say, "If we hear about temporary, material topics, then we shall think temporary, material thoughts. If, however, we hear about eternal, transcendental topics, then we shall think eternal, transcendental thoughts." It follows, then, that if we have the desire to utilize our intelligence for its actual purpose-to transcend the fetters of mundane material existence and its concomitant miseries and, much more importantly, to establish, through devotion, our relationship with the Lord of our heart, Shri Krishna-then we should hear hari-katha, discussions of the transcendental activities of the Lord and His intimate associates, whenever and wherever possible. By lending our ears to these ever fresh and infinitely expanding relishable topics, our minds will be irresistibly drawn toward that ultimately attractive Supreme Personality, Shri Krishna.
All the sacred scriptures tell us that association begins with hearing. Yet, in order to receive its fullest benefit, that which we hear must emanate from the Lotus Lips of a suddha bhakta, a person who is transcendentally situated and has exclusive one-pointed devotion to the Supreme Lord. The heart of such a rare, saintly person, who bathes in the infinite ocean of krishna-prema, is always saturated with bhakti. When one holds cold ice close to the body, one becomes cold. When one holds a hot flame close to the body, one becomes hot. When one holds the devotionally surcharged words of a suddha bhakta close to the heart, one becomes a devotee. In other words, to attain sreyah, our eternal welfare, we must associate with and hear from a pure devotee, for it is only from such a person that we can obtain devotion. His Holiness Shrila Bhakti Ballabha Tirtha Gosvami Maharaja is widely recognized as such a suddha bhakta.
In recent years, Shrila Tirtha Maharaja, despite his many duties as President/Acarya of Shri Chaitanya Gaudiya Matha, has traveled extensively throughout the world, gracing all with his divine realizations and inspiring many to take up the devotional path. His dynamic speeches are notable for their degree of sincerity and depth of understanding. His personal traits of affection, humility and surrender to his most beloved Gurudeva, His Holiness Nityalilapravista Om Vishnupada Shrila Bhakti Dayita Madhava Gosvami Maharaja, are ever-present. It is difficult to imagine any heart that would not be moved by his warm words of wisdom. This present book is a humble attempt to present the eternal, transcendental thoughts of a suddha bhakta in the form of a collection of English discourses delivered by Shrila Tirtha Maharaja between 1997 and 2000 in the US, Europe and India. It is hoped that these sublime lectures will provide the readers with new perspectives on the science of bhakti, encouragement in their sadhana and, ultimately, a taste of transcendence.
The editors humbly beg the readers' forgiveness for any errors or omissions that may have inadvertently crept into this publication.
saksad-dharitvena samasta sastrair
uktas tatha bhavyata eva sadbhih
kintu prabhor yah priya eva tasya
vande guroh shri-caranaravindam
"The spiritual master is to be honored as much as the Supreme Lord because he is the most confidential servitor of the Lord. This is acknowledged in all revealed scriptures and followed by all authorities. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master, who is a bonafide representative of Shri Hari."
krpa-sindhubhya eva ca
vaisnavebhyo namo namah
"I am repeatedly making obeisances to the vaishnavas who fulfill all desires like a wish-yielding tree, who are an ocean of graciousness to all and who are redeemers of the fallen souls."
garbhoda-sayi ca payobdhi-sayi
sesas ca yasyamsa-kalah sa nitya-
nandakhya-ramah saranam mamastu
"I take absolute shelter of Shriman Nityananda Prabhu, Who is Baladeva Himself and Whose partial manifestations and parts of the partial manifestations are Sankarsana, Karanabdhisayi, Garbhodasayi, Ksirodasayi and Sesa."
Karanatoyasayi (or Karanabdhisayi): The first Purusavatara. He is the first manifestation of the Supreme Being with respect to the creation of infinite brahmandas (universes). He lies on the Causal Ocean.
Garbhodasayi: The second Purusavatara. He is the second manifestation of the Supreme Being lying on the ocean produced by His sweat. He is the Indwelling Oversoul and Sustainer of the infinite brahmandas created by the first Purusavatara.
Payobdhisayi (or Ksirodakasayi): The third Purusavatara. He is the third manifestation of the Supreme Being, lying on the Milk Ocean, Whom the demigods approach to be rescued from the oppression of the demons. He is the Indwelling Monitor and Sustainer of each brahmanda and every spirit soul.
Sesa: the last manifestation of the Supreme Being Who, in the form of a huge serpent, holds all the worlds on His head as if they were no heavier than mustard seeds.
namne gaura-tvise namah
"I pay my innumerable prostrated obeisances to the Lotus Feet of the Supreme Lord, Who is Krishna Himself, Whose Name is Krishnachaitanya, Whose complexion is golden, Who is most munificent and Who is the bestower of krishna-prema (love for Krishna)."
"O Goddess, Shri Radhe! O daughter of Shri Vrsabhanu! You are the beloved consort of Shri Hari. Your complexion is like molten gold and You are the presiding deity of Vrndavana. I pay my innumerable prostrated obeisances to Your Lotus Feet."
he krishna karuna-sindho
radha-kanta namo `stu te
"O Supreme Lord Shri Krishna, You are an ocean of kindness. You are the friend of the submissive, Lord of the world, Lord of the gopas (cowherd men of Vrndavana), beloved consort of the gopis (cowherd ladies of Vrndavana) and the most beloved consort of Radha. I pay my innumerable prostrated obeisances to Your Lotus Feet."
"I always sing in adoration the glories of the dust of the Lotus Feet of the gopis of Nanda-Vraja-Dhama (the transcendental realm of the sweet pastimes of Nandanandana Shri Krishna), Whose krishna-katha (narration of the glories of the Name, Form, Attributes, Entourage and Pastimes of Lord Krishna) sanctifies the three worlds (heaven, earth and the underworld)-the entire universe."
bhaktya vihina aparadhalaksaih
ksiptasca kamadi tarangamadhye
krpamayi tvam saranam prapanna
vrnde numaste caranaravindam
"I am devoid of devotion, replete with millions of offenses and distracted by waves of evil desires. O compassionate Vrnda-devi, I take shelter of You and pay my innumerable prostrated obeisances to Your Lotus Feet. Kindly rescue me."
"I offer my obeisances to Shri Krishnachaitanya, Prabhu Nityananda, Shri Advaita, Gadadhara, Shrivasa and all others in the line of devotion."
hare krishna hare krishna
krishna krishna hare hare
hare rama hare rama
rama rama hare hare
First of all, I pay my innumerable prostrated, humble obeisances to the Lotus Feet of my most revered Gurudeva, Om Vishnupada 108 Shri Shrimad Bhakti Dayita Madhava Gosvami Maharaja, and pray for His causeless mercy to give me strength, to sing the glories of Supreme Lord Shri Krishna, to purify my mind and to get one-pointed, exclusive devotion to Shri Krishna. I also pay my innumerable, prostrated, humble obeisances to the Lotus Feet of my siksa gurus and pray for their causeless mercy, to give me strength, to sing the glories of Supreme Lord Shri Krishna, to purify my mind and to get exclusive devotion to Shri Krishna. I pay my due respects to all who are present here.
There are two paths
There are two paths. Adopting the path that leads to your eternal welfare is known as sreyah and adopting the path by which you can obtain pleasure of the senses is known as preyah. Although something may be pleasing to the material senses, the consequences will be detrimental. If, however, you take to the path of sreyah, at first it will be like poison because you have to restrict and withdraw your senses. You have to be regulated. You cannot do whatever you like. It seems like poison at first, but the fruit, the ultimate result, is ambrosia. This is not worldly ambrosia, but the ambrosia of eternal welfare. You can obtain the Supreme Lord, Who is All-bliss. If you adopt the path of pleasure of the senses, it will seem like ambrosia at first, but the consequences will be like poison-venomous poison. Therefore, which path should you take?
Ninety-nine percent of all people are running after sensuous, apparent enjoyment. They are not thinking about the consequences. They cannot perform worship of God. But those who take to the path of sreyah, those who perform penance, austerity and the like, withdraw the senses from the objects of the senses and worship God. At first it may seem like poison because you are restricted from searching for pleasure and from doing whatever you like, according to your own sweet will. No! This sort of activity is spoiled, but if you can tolerate this, ultimately you will obtain eternal bliss. The candidates for this will be very few. As previously stated, ninety-nine percent of all people are running after sensuous, apparent pleasure. There may be one person, only one person, out of a thousand people who is interested in the path of sreyah.
Now, in this age, we have to take a vote between sreyah and preyah marga, the path of obtaining one's eternal welfare and the path of obtaining apparent pleasures. If you want the vote of the general masses, then you will be defeated by advocating the path of sreyah. Perhaps ten or twelve persons will vote for sreyah but several crores (tens of millions) will vote against it. If this were to be decided by the popular vote of the masses, then the preyah path, that which is pleasing, would win.
It is said in Kathopanisad:
sreyas ca preyas ca manusyam etas
tau samparitya vivinakti dhirah
sreyo hi dhiro `bhipreyaso vrnite
preyo mando yogakseman vrnite
Kathopanisad says there are two paths. One is the path for gaining one's eternal welfare and the other is the path for obtaining the apparent pleasures of the senses. Human beings may be divided into two categories. There are persons who adopt the path of eternal welfare, and there are persons who adopt the path of obtaining apparent sense pleasure. But those who are wise, who have depth of heart, know that if you adopt the path of pleasure, you will become entangled in this world of temporary things. You will be in bondage. If, however, you adopt the sreyah path, then you will get absolute bliss. Who can understand this? Only a wise person can-one who is actually wise, not so-called wise. Such as person can differentiate between sreyah and preyah. Thus, he gives up the path of pleasure and adopts the path of eternal welfare.
The path of pleasure is called "yogaksema." This means that you give your full energy to gain objects of enjoyment, so that you can experience sense gratification. In this way, all of your energy is spent in the pursuit of the acquisition of money and objects of enjoyment. After attaining all these things, you attempt to retain them. After earning money, all of your energy is spent in trying to preserve it. Those who have chosen the path of sense gratification are behaving like this. Our Param Pujyapada Shrila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja calls such a person "fool number one."
Another verse tells us what we should do for our eternal welfare:
labdhva su-durlabham idam bahu-sambhavante
manusyam artha-dam anityam apiha dhirah
turnam yateta na pated anu-mrtyu yavan
nihsreyasaya visayah khalu sarvatah syat
(Shrimad Bhagavatam, 11.9.29)
This verse from Shrimad Bhagavatam is the statement of an anchorite, an avadhuta. Here, Shri Krishna is relating to Uddhava the story of an avadhuta who once gave advice to Maharaja Yadu. This human birth is extremely difficult to get. Durlabham means "difficult to get." Su-durlabham means "extremely difficult to get"-almost unobtainable. One may get this precious human birth, which is very difficult to obtain, after numerous births (bahu-sambhavante). Specifically, we come to this human birth after 80 lakhs (8,000,000) of births in various species. In the scriptures, it is said:
You must take birth as an aquatic animal: fish, crocodile, shark, whale, etc. How many times? Nine lakhs (900,000). Those who eat a fish will be killed as a fish two times. You will find many people catching fish and killing them. We also, at some time, have been caught and devoured by them. So much suffering is there! Big fish in the sea eat the smaller fish for their sustenance. Small fish are the life of big fish. We call this "survival of the fittest." But even the big fish are not safe in the sea. In this way, we pass through nine lakhs of life of aquatic animals. Do we think about this? As fish, we experience extreme, unbearable suffering.
We are also born as trees, mountains and hills. One may argue, "A hill is inert. How can a living being become lifeless?" Actually, a hill is not inert. It grows, but it has an enveloped consciousness. Trees also have some feeling of sensation. They have life in them. Twenty lakhs (2,000,000) of births we pass this way. So much suffering! Think about this. Don't take it lightly. Look now at all the living beings in this world, who are born as trees, mountains, etc. All the other living beings are busy enjoying them. When one living being enjoys another living being, the reaction is that he takes birth as a tree, mountain, etc. As trees and mountains, everyone will enjoy us and we will be forced to remain in one place tolerating this.
There are so many worms that live in feces and the stool of animals. We will take birth as such worms for 11 lakhs (1,100,000) of births. After that, we will take 10 lakhs (1,000,000) of births in various species of birds. Some of these birds are food for humans. Chopping up our bodies, they eat us. Tremendous suffering! After that, there are 30 lakhs of births (3,000,000) as beasts such as dogs, cats, goats, etc.
Having passed through these 80 lakhs (8,000,000) of births, we have only 4 lakhs (400,000) of births remaining, which comprise the different human species. We have now obtained this precious, extremely difficult to obtain, human birth. What then should we do? Manusyam artha-dam: Artha means requirement, necessity. What is it we require? Unless we get absolute bliss, we cannot be happy. We may obtain other, small objects that satisfy our immediate needs. But you can get absolute bliss by getting Whom, you get all and by knowing Whom, you know all. Artha-dam means we can get God, the Supreme Lord, Complete Reality. But, anityam: at any moment we may lose this chance. We say that we shall do it in the next birth, but there is no guarantee that in the next birth we will be born as a human being. If, at the time of death, you think about some non-eternal things of this material world, you will obtain a body in an appropriate species in your next birth.
You will find evidence of this in the 5th Canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam in the story of Maharaja Bharata, the eldest son of Rsabhadeva, in which he became a deer. But we have personally seen an instance of this in our Matha in Gowalpada, Assam. At that time, many years ago, it was a very beautiful jungle-like area with forests, hills and rivers. All kinds of beasts lived in that area, including tigers and monkeys. The population was comprised of both Hindus and Muslims, the wealthy people coming mainly from the Muslim community. There were generally no quarrels between Hindus and Muslims and they lived peacefully side-by-side. They had love for each other. One Hindu man had to arrange for the marriage of his daughter, but was in need of money for this. No Hindu could possibly lend him so much money, so he went to a wealthy Muslim for help. In that small town, everyone knew everyone else.
"Why have you come?" the Muslim man asked.
"I have come to borrow some money," the Hindu man explained. "I have to arrange for my daughter's wedding and I have no money for this. I will pay it back."
"How much do you require?" the Muslim asked and the Hindu told him. The Muslim knew that the Hindu would never be able to pay him back, as he was very poor. With no expectation of repayment, he said, "Your daughter will be married! Here, I shall give you the money. You are my neighbor."
The marriage took place and no one in the village knew where the Hindu man had gotten the money. After fifteen years, the Hindu man died.
The Hindu man also had a son, who, by God's grace, managed to become a well-to-do person. One night, the man's son had a dream. In the dream, his father came to him and said, "You do not know the circumstances of your sister's marriage. I borrowed money from the Muslim (whom he mentioned by name) but I was unable to pay him back, even though I gave my word. Because of this, I was born as a dog in the Muslim's house. You must pay back the money (he told him the amount) and I shall be delivered from this birth."
The son woke from the dream and was astonished. He thought, "My father never said anything about going to that person for money." The Muslim was renowned throughout the village. He went to the Muslim's house and inquired, "Perhaps, my father at some time borrowed something from you?"
"Go, go, go!" the Muslim protested. "You should not think about this!"
"What was the amount?" the son asked.
"Why are you worried about this?" the Muslim asked. But after some persuasion, he told the son what the amount was.
Then the son asked, "Is there a dog in your house?"
"Yes," the Muslim answered. "How do you know this?"
"May I see him?" the son asked.
The Muslim called the dog out to them. The dog, seeing his son in human form, started to weep. The son then said, "You must take this money!"
He gave back the money to the Muslim, and the dog promptly died.
This is fact. It is not just a story.
We must remember that, after this life, there is no guarantee that we shall get a human birth again. Turnam yateta: we should start bhajana immediately! Anu-mrtyu yavan: we must do this before death-as long as the body is fit. Nihsreyasaya: for one's own eternal welfare. Try to get that eternal welfare. Eternal bliss is the Supreme Lord, so you should engage yourself in the service of the Supreme Lord. You should worship Him. Only in this human birth can you do this. You can get the objects of enjoyment in any birth, wherever you may go. As long as the elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether are there, then the qualities of those elements will also be there. You will derive sense gratification from them. The ears will be able to enjoy beautiful, sweet sounds. In every birth, you will find sense pleasures, but you will not be able to worship. So, we should perform worship-immediately!
This verse (11.9.29) was explained by our Paramgurudeva, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, continuously for one month, and still he said that the explanation was incomplete. In spite of his explaining it for one month, he was not satisfied because this is transcendental sound, not material sound. If you want to perform bhajana, then you have to understand this. If you cannot differentiate between transcendental sound and material sound, you cannot make progress in spiritual life.
In our Matha, you will find that, every day, the devotees repeat the same thing. Every morning and every evening is aratika and kirtana. Is there anything new? They've already heard all this! But, our Gurumaharaja and our Paramgurumaharaja instructed us that we must repeatedly hear these things, daily. There is aratika in the morning, aratika at midday and aratika in the evening-the same program every day. We hear the glorification of the Vaishnavas, the glories of the Guru-all is the same every day. Even krishna-nama is the same.
Narada Gosvami has been uttering krishna-nama from time immemorial. But still, he cannot completely taste krishna-nama. When speaking of the glories of the utterance of the names of Shri Shri Radha-Krishna, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, "prati-padam purnamrtasvadanam." At every step, you experience the taste of full, complete, transcendental ambrosia. It will never become stale. God is transcendental and the worshipper of God is also transcendental. God is infinite and the worshipper of God, the Vaishnava, is also infinite. Their qualities are infinite. If you say, "I have finished it-it has become stale! Find something new for me," then you have not understood anything. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu did not hear about the lives of Dhruva and Prahlada once only. "We have not yet heard the full story," He would say. We might say that we have heard the biographies of Dhruva and Prahlada, but Chaitanya Mahaprabhu wished to hear the full biographies not one time, but one hundred times. "Again!" He would say, "Please tell Me again." If, after hearing, you have the desire to hear again, then you have entered into the spiritual, devotional realm. Otherwise, you are outside and have learned nothing about spiritual life-nothing.
When our Matha was on Rashbihari Avenue in Calcutta, there was a person who used to attend regularly to hear religious discourses, even in inclement weather. Other persons might not show up, but he would always come. We would praise him, "You have a good taste for spiritual things." After hearing discourses continuously for eight or nine months, that person suddenly stopped coming to the Matha. We asked some of the other people who attended the discourses, "Where is he? What is the matter?" They said, "We have seen him, but we do not know his address." We thought that perhaps he had left Calcutta, or perhaps he was ill or otherwise indisposed. We had no way to contact him. But, one day, by the Lord's desire, while I was going through the streets of Calcutta, I met him.
"Oh," I said, "We have been deprived of your company for a long time. Were you not here in Calcutta?"
"No," he said, "I have always been here."
"Then, why have you not been coming? Have you been ill?"
"No," he said. "I have been to your place. I have heard everything. Your only advice is `worship Krishna, worship Krishna, perform harinama'. If there is some new thing, then I shall come again. I've already heard it all."
So, there is no new thing. You have to do harinama. This person attended the meetings for intellectual stimulation, not for bhajana. If he had come to the temple with the desire to perform worship, then God's grace would have come to him and at every step he would have found a new taste of ambrosia-a taste of the transcendental. No aspect of transcendental things can become stale. Prasadam cannot become stale. The glories of the transcendental cannot become stale. Nothing of this can become stale. Perhaps, upon hearing about Vraja-mandala, the place of twelve vanas (forests), you say, "I have already heard about the twelve vanas several times. It has become stale. Let me hear about another, new vana!" No! No! Then, you have not heard anything. If you can get merely a glimpse of just one of these vanas, your whole life will be changed and you will be rescued from rebirth. It is written in Chaitanya Charitamrita that Krishna possesses infinite qualities and sixty-four of these are His principal qualities. If you get even a glimpse of just one of these transcendental qualities, then your life will be successful and you will be rescued. All your afflictions and miseries will be destroyed. But, we are uttering the sixty-four qualities, and we are still experiencing these miseries. This means that these transcendental qualities are not descending into us. We have not touched them, even though we may think that we have. "Phalena phala-karanam anumiyate" (from the doctrines of Nyaya, or logic). By the fruit, we can understand whether or not we have come in contact with Krishna. You may perform worship daily, but you cannot say, "I have worshipped for two years. Now I am giving it up to do other things." When you perform any kind of bhajana, if it comes from the core of the heart, you will never be able to give up the worship of your most beloved. When you get a spontaneous glimpse of contact with Krishna, you will experience a thrilling sensation of ecstasy. How could you give that up? You will not wish to give up any form of devotion. When there is the thought in your mind to give up worship, then it means that you have not come in contact with Bhagavan and the transcendental qualities of Bhagavan. Only outside, externally, by intellect and mental capacity are you trying to imagine Bhagavan. Worship cannot be given up. You must repeat the same thing again and again.
Today I have explained this verse from Shrimad Bhagavatam. Suppose tomorrow I speak on it again, and then again the next day. By the third day, some listeners may say, "Oh, this is the same verse. Why don't you say something new?" We would say in reply, "Our Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura explained this verse for one month and still he was not satisfied. But, after hearing this verse for only three days it has become stale to you! What are you hearing?" When Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati was explaining this verse at the Matha at Number One Ultadanga Road, some college students had heard that a very great personality, a saint, who had a glowing, golden complexion, had come. They went to hear him speak and were astonished, as they had never seen such a powerful person before. Again, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati was explaining that sloka. "Turnam yateta," he said, "Immediately start bhajana! Without losing a moment!"
The students consulted one another. "What is this?" they asked each other. "He is looking at us. He is directing us."
"You will not allow us to return to our homes?" the students asked.
"No!" replied Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati.
"Oh," the students thought. "It was a great mistake coming here."
Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati continued, "By traveling on the road, you may die! Start bhajana, right now, immediately!"
The students asked each other, "What can we do?"
Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati continued, "If your house is on fire, do you try to extinguish it or do you let everything be destroyed?"
One of the students said, "If I do not extinguish the fire at my own house, then all the other houses will also be destroyed."
"Let all the houses of the world be destroyed! Are you from this world?
na socati na kanksati
samah sarvesu bhutesu
mad-bhaktim labhate param
You have come from Brahman. If someone flies in the sky, and there is an earthquake, what will he feel? If you remain in this world, then the up and down afflictions of this world will cause you to suffer and disturb your mind. But if you transcend it, then where will these afflictions be? You do not come from matter. You come from Brahman. You are thinking that you have come from matter but, in actuality, you have no connection with this matter. Immediately, from this moment on, start bhajana!"
The students could not leave. They were trapped. Such was the students' first lesson given by that great personality, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami. The students were so attracted by his personality, that they did not return to their homes. With their books, they remained there. Do we have such power to persuade someone to stay? He had such spiritual attraction and power. Within a very short time, he preached the doctrine of divine love throughout the world.
Nothing spiritual is stale. Our organs of the material senses are stale. We do not feel our spiritual senses. They have not yet manifested themselves. By means of material senses, you are trying to understand the words of a suddha bhakta. You are trying to get the sweetness of the Deity by means of material senses. It cannot be done. These things are not material, they are spiritual.
nama vigraha svarupa-tina eka-rupa
tine `bheda' nahi-tine `cid-ananda-rupa'
(Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya-lila, 17.131)
Name, Deity and the Form of Krishna are all saccidananda. But we do not understand this. What can be done?
We have all traveled to many holy places
We have all traveled to many holy places in Vraja-mandala, participating in many religious festivals. Presently, we are participating in Jhulan-Yatra, the "Swing Festival," of Radha-Krishna in Vrndavana. Actually, it was performed in Kamyavana from Ekadashi to Purnima, the full moon. We generally perform vaidhi-bhakti-bhakti as per the injunctions of the scriptures. We are not entitled to perform raga-bhakti. We are not in that position. Our guru-varga has introduced this practice as vaidhi-bhakti. But, what is the actual definition of bhakti? We are busy moving from one place to another. We have circumambulated Giriraja and Vraja-mandala with the Vaishnavas. We perform this kind of devotional activity, going to the various holy places of pilgrimage. We go to these places to participate in the holy festivals and to hear about the Supreme Lord's Names, Forms, Attributes, etc., from a suddha bhakta-a pure devotee. We chant, we remember. We are engaged in all these devotional forms but, at the same time, we remain attached to worldly objects. We do not experience any improvement. What is the cause?
If you do not understand the definition of bhakti, then, throughout your life, even though you continue to perform bhajana, you will derive no actual benefit.
(Bhakti-Rasamrta-Sindhu, Purva Vibhaga, 1.10)
What is upadhi? Upadhi is any quality that you have acquired by performing some action. "Now, I have become a professor." I am not a professor, but I have gone through the education process and, having become employed, I am now called "professor." I am not actually a professor. I am not actually a doctor, etc. These are all qualities I have obtained. This is known as "upadhi": title. They are denotations by which one individual is distinguished from another. All such denotations are there. But, with these false egos, misconceptions, we cannot perform bhakti. We think that we belong to the designations of varnasrama-dharma: brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, sudra, sannyasi, vanaprastha, grhastha, brahmacari. We think, "I am of India, I am of Uttar Pradesh, I am of Delhi, I am of Punjab, I am of London. All these false egos have to be given up completely. Not even one cent of them should remain. "Sarvopadhi vinir-muktam": we have to remove all such kinds of false egos completely. Should there be any false ego, karma will predominate, not bhakti. If we do anything by means of our false ego, vanity, we will get only temporary, mundane benefits. We will become attached to this world. This world is made of matter. Consequently, our minds will become inert like matter. Our minds will have no connection with the spiritual realm. After performing such activities, we will find ourselves in the same position as we were when we first started. We cannot deliver ourselves from the contact of the material things of this world. We cannot get bhakti only by moving from place to place and going through the motions. This is not bhakti. This is karma.
You have to give up every kind of false ego of this world. You must believe, "I am not of this world. This world is unholy." Even the realm of Brahman is unholy. If you think, "I am of the realm of Brahman," then you will become unholy. Thinking in this way, you cannot perform bhakti, what to speak of thinking oneself to be a part of this world. I am not of this world, I am not of my family, I am not of London, I am not of Birmingham, I am not of Delhi, I am not of Punjab. These are all unholy. Everything is unholy. If you become unholy, whatever you do will be undone. There should not even be one cent of false ego. How can you do this? It is very difficult.
"Hari om tat sat." If I think, "I am of Krishna," then I shall become holy, sacred. Then, whatever I do will be for the satisfaction of Shri Krishna. This is properly called bhakti. There are sense organs and objects of the sense organs. Without them, we cannot move. But, simply engaging the sense organs and the objects of the sense organs is not bhakti if the ego is not correct. Should there be material ego, then the benefit will also be material. By performing devotional practices while deluded by egoistic misconceptions, we will achieve only material benefit. But if we desire eternal, spiritual benefit, we should think, "I am of Krishna! I am of the Vaishnavas! I am of the Guru!" Then, we will become holy. If we think like this while engaging the sense organs and the objects of the sense organs, we will actually be practicing the devotional forms.
I shall provide an example. In our social system in Bengal, and here in Vrndavana also, the bridegroom and his party would go to the house of the bride for the marriage ceremony. There is so much rainfall in Bengal. So, to go from one place to another, people would take the help of a rowboat, navigating through the rivers. Once, a particular bridegroom and his party boarded a rowboat, along with a helmsman to steer the boat.
The bridegroom said to the pilot, "I need to go to such-and-such place in the dead of night, as the wedding is set for a fixed time tomorrow. We must reach that village no later than 2 AM."
"Oh, that is not far!" the pilot said. "We can reach it by 10 PM. It will not be difficult."
They started on their journey. It was the dark fortnight. The helmsman sat at the front of the boat, rowing with oars. The boat started to move, or at least they thought the boat was moving. A cold breeze was blowing. Everyone became hungry. The bridegroom's party had brought many good dishes for the journey and everyone was fed sumptuously. After eating, they felt drowsy and wanted to go to sleep. The bridegroom reminded the pilot, "Remember that we must be there before 2 AM." The pilot said, "Yes, it is alright," and the party fell asleep.
Everyone slept. When they awoke, it was morning. "Hey! What is this?" the bridegroom cried. He was enraged. "You have spoiled everything! You have not navigated the boat! You have sat idle all night!" A big argument broke out.
"No, no, no!" the pilot protested. "I have been rowing throughout the night. I am perspiring from the effort!"
The party looked about and was shocked to see that no one had lifted the anchor when they had started their journey.
"Oh!" the groom exclaimed. "We are in the same place. We have not moved an inch all night!"
If we think, "I am of this world, I am of this family, I am of London, I am of Delhi, I am of such-and-such family," and other such material egos, we will be anchored to this world. We perform bhajana in this state of mind. Throughout our life, we are performing bhajana and, at the end, we see that we are at the same place. We have not moved an inch. If we go on doing this for hundreds and thousands of births, we will not succeed in our spiritual endeavors. If, however, we wish, "If only I could be associated with Krishna, if only I could serve Him," then the eternal nature of the real self could be imparted to that soul and that fortunate soul would become awakened. This we should do. Only when we say, "I am of Krishna," then the real ego will come-the spiritual ego. Then, whatever we do will be bhakti.
Bhakti is very difficult for those who have no submissive tendency. They cannot perform bhakti. It is easiest for those who have the aptitude for taking shelter of the Supreme Lord and His absolute counterpart, the suddha bhakta. The practice of bhakti is simultaneously the easiest and the most difficult process. If there should be the presence of material ego, it will render it impossible to perform bhakti. People such as Hiranyakasipu and others could perform immense penances, but they could not perform bhakti. They did not want to give up their ego, their vanity. We are a part of the potency of the Supreme Lord, but we are not the Supreme Lord. Why is it that we have become jivas and received this conditioned state, encountering all kinds of difficulties as we pass through countless births and deaths? Would God pass through births and deaths? Obviously, we are not God, the Supreme Lord. We are a part of His potency. We have committed an offense and forgotten our real position. For this reason, the illusory energy has enveloped us and we have assumed these false egos. If we wish to perform pure devotion, then we have to give up these false egos.
During the time of our Guru Maharaja (Shrila Bhakti Dayita Madhava Gosvami Maharaja), a Janmastami celebration occurred when there was a scarcity of rice. Even householders could not donate rice to the Matha. So, we could take rice at only one meal a day. At the other meals we would take wheat and pound it together with mung dal into a mixture to make a kitri-a hodgepodge. Ordinarily, kitri is made with rice and dal, not wheat. Those were difficult times. But then, every institution declared that they would not be distributing kitri during Janmastami, as there was no rice. Generally, we would make a large amount of kitri-it is very easy to prepare-and distribute it to thousands of people. But at that time, there was no rice. We prayed to Guru Maharaja, "Please announce at tonight's Janmastami celebration that we will not be celebrating the usual festival with distribution of kitri to all tomorrow. Instead, every institution will give sweets instead of kitri." Guru Maharaja said, "Alright, alright."
That evening, at the Janmastami function, many distinguished Vaishnavas spoke till about 10:30 PM. At around 11 PM, Guru Maharaja began his discourse on the chapter of the advent of Shri Krishna from Shrimad Bhagavatam. After he completed his lecture, he announced, "There will now be abhiseka for Krishna's advent time at midnight. After that, there will be puja, followed by bhoga-raga. Today, we are observing a fast and may only take some fruits. Tomorrow, Nanda Maharaja will come to know that he has a Son! So, he will be very glad, and will distribute prasadam. So, I invite all of you to come again tomorrow and we shall feed you."
The devotees were astounded. "How can this be? We have no rice!" They knew very well that, in Bengal, if one person were invited, he would bring ten others. So, one thousand invitees instantly become ten thousand. They were perturbed.
Guru Maharaja went to his room and many of us followed. We asked him, "How can we feed all these people tomorrow? We have no rice."
Then Guru Maharaja declared, "It is true there is a scarcity of rice. But, nonetheless, we see that everybody is still carrying on celebrating their own marriage ceremonies, birthday ceremonies and the like. Supreme Lord Shri Krishna is the only Master and Enjoyer of these infinite brahmandas. There will be no festival to celebrate His advent? There must be a feast tomorrow!"
I do not know who sent rice, but the next day there was a huge function and all were fed with kitri. From where had it come? Who had sent it? We do not have this sort of faith.
There was once a brahmacari from Assam who came to visit our temple in Madhuvana. He lived alone in a very nice, secluded place performing bhajana. He used to come to Vrndavana to see us whenever Guru Maharaja was there. He was very simple-hearted and we would always have fun when speaking with him. Once, when he came, we teased him saying, "By remaining alone, you cannot be rescued! You have to serve the Vaishnavas!"
"What am I to do?" he asked.
"We shall all come to stay with you!" There were ten of us saying this to him. "We ten Vaishnavas shall go to your house and remain there for ten days. We Bengalis find it very difficult to digest the kind of bread you eat here, so you will have to get rice, curries, etc., for us."
The brahmacari was in the habit of obtaining his meals by begging alms from the Vrajavasis. They gave him only roti (bread) and some gaur (molasses-like sugar). Only occasionally did he receive some small preparations. "Where shall I get such things?" he protested. But, being very witty, he said, "No, no, no! I shall serve you always! I shall take photographs of all ten Vaishnavas and put them in my temple. Every day I shall make an offering to Giridhari, then to Gurudeva and then to you, always. But if all of you, in your living forms, come to my house and take so many things, I will not be able to supply it all. It is not possible! I do not want living Vaishnavas, I want to serve `Photo-Vaishnavas'!"
Photo-Vaishnavas are very easy. Every day, you can serve them. We do not want to be guided or restrained or regulated by Vaishnavas. We are thinking, "If I remain in a secluded place, I can do whatever I desire. I can serve myself and perform bhajana." Our Paramgurudeva (Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada) said that this sort of bhajana is hypocrisy. It is not befitting behavior for Vaishnavas.
The great Vaishnava saint, Vamsi dasa Babaji Maharaja, was no ordinary sadhu. Outwardly, he had his advent in what is now known as Bangladesh, in Majidpur Village, Maimansingh district, near Jamalpur. But later, he came to Navadvipa-dhama, accepted the babaji order and performed his bhajana under a tree. The order of sannyasa is given for preaching, but a babaji will perform bhajana in a holy, secluded place. A babaji will not go outside for pracara (preaching). Many people would come to Babaji Maharaja and offer to build him a cottage, but he chose to remain always beneath a banyan tree. He would not move from there. He was surcharged with krishna-prema. He was a very tall figure. He never shaved, but remained like a madman. Many people would offer him various things, but he would pay them no attention. Whatever he might receive, he would distribute to others. He was an anchorite. Nobody could understand his behavior. He had only two big cloth bags-he had no temple. In one cloth bag was Gaura-Nitai, and in the other, Radha-Krishna. Sometimes, he would take the Deities out and perform puja. So, is his bhakti less because he had just small Deities, and ours greater because we have a big temple? Gaura-Nityananda were most satisfied by his service. Our Param Pujyapada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura used to bow down to him from a distance. He prohibited his disciples from visiting Babaji Maharaja. His disciples asked, "Shall we not have darsana of the sadhus?" But Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura replied, "You will not be able to understand his behavior and you will commit offenses. He is not within this world, but is moving in the transcendental realm. If I commit an offense, it will be anti-devotional. For this reason, I am bowing down to him from a distance. Only a suddha bhakta can understand his wonderful behavior. An ordinary novice of bhajana will be unable to understand, so he should not go there. Babaji Maharaja is always surcharged with krishna-prema!"
There was a person from Navadvipa-dhama who used to come to Babaji Maharaja. One day, he thought, "I have the desire to obtain the Supreme Lord. How can I get Bhagavan?" He was only murmuring, speaking to himself, but Babaji Maharaja did not reply. This person came back repeatedly to see Babaji Maharaja. Finally, one day, he approached Maharaja.
"What do you want?" Babaji Maharaja asked him.
"I want to see Bhagavan," the man said.
Babaji Maharaja replied with only one word: "Weep!"
We might supply so much scriptural evidence to try to explain it in so many ways, but what did Vamsi dasa Babaji Maharaja say? "Weep for Him!" If you can weep for Him, then you can get Him. If there is want for Him, then He will come. We are uttering His Names, but we do not want Him. So, we are uttering the Names of Krishna-"hare krishna, hare krishna, krishna krishna, hare hare, krishna rama, hare rama, rama rama, hare hare"-and Krishna appears before us. He says to us, "Come along!"
We say to Him, "No, I cannot go now. Right now I require a million dollars to save my business. I have my children. I have just bought a building. I cannot go now."
"So, why have you called Me?" Krishna asks.
"I have called you to give me a million dollars," we reply. "Remove my difficulties. I do not have time to go now."
From where are we uttering the Name? Not from the heart! We chant, "hare krishna," but if Krishna comes, we will be unable to go.
A certain Svamiji gave an illustration. It is an illustration involving the ordinary day-to-day life of a householder but, nonetheless, there is something very impressive about this illustration. In a town in Bengal, there was a man who worked in an office. He lived with his wife and two children. One child was only three or four months old and the other was seven years old. One day, the man told his wife, "You will have to prepare breakfast early today because I have to go into the office early. After I eat, I shall leave right away." When the wife went to cook, she first put the baby on the bed and then went into the kitchen. But whenever she would enter the kitchen, the child would cry. She thought, "With the child in my lap, how will I be able to cook? It is very difficult." She was thinking what she should do. Then she thought of a way she could manage. She called the seven-year-old child.
"Darling, come here!" she called. "Do you know that red toy in the shop?"
"Yes, I know it," the child answered.
"Go and buy that toy, but be sure that it makes a nice jingling sound."
The child took some money and went off to buy the toy. He brought it home and gave it to the mother. The mother laid the baby down on the bed and hung the red-colored toy with the jingling sound above him, at the end of a rope. The baby saw the toy and immediately started to play with it, hitting it from side to side. The child was most delighted as he continued to slap the toy and hear the jingling sound. For one hour he played like that, and the mother went to do her cooking. After that, the child started to feel hungry. For the entire time that the child was playing, he did not remember his mother. But now that he felt hungry, he thought, "Oh, where is my mother?" But his mother did not come. Then, he started crying, signifying, "I am hungry! Come!" He could not speak, so he beckoned his mother by crying. "Come to me and suckle me! I am hungry!"
His mother, however, was busy cooking. "No," she thought, "Let the child cry."
After some time, the child stopped crying and went back to playing with the toy-jingle, jingle, jingle. After playing like that for a while, the pangs of hunger returned. His hunger increased and increased and he became more and more unhappy. He began to cry for his mother even more loudly than before.
His mother heard the crying of the baby, but thought that she should first finish her cooking.
Finally, the hunger became unbearable for the child. The child thought, "I don't want toys!" All he could think about was his mother. His crying became louder and louder until he was screaming. He started to throw his arms about and kick his legs, in a tantrum.
Then the mother thought, "Oh, I cannot stay away any longer!" The mother ran toward the child, embraced him and suckled him.
Like this, the Supreme Lord has given us toys-the toy of a wife or husband, toys of children, toys of buildings, toys of radios, toys of videos, toys of computers. Seeing this, Krishna thinks, "They are absorbed in their toys! I have no worries. I am engaged in My pastimes in the transcendental realm. They do not want this. They want those things instead. Here, take this computer! Take that video! Take this! Take that!"
Upon the awakening of his real self (atma), a man feels the want of the sweetest affection of the Supreme Lord. He cries, "Oh Supreme Lord! In this world, nothing gives me happiness. Everything is temporary. Everyone is selfish. You are my Most Beloved! Where are You? I have forgotten You! Come! Come! I am in a furnace! Come! Come!" Weeping, he calls, but Krishna does not come. "I am engaged in My pastimes," Krishna says. For some time, the man then becomes absorbed in the affairs of his family and relatives, and forgets Krishna. Time passes and he cries again, "Where is My Beloved Supreme Lord? Where is He?" Crying, crying. But, the Supreme Lord still does not come. Ultimately, he shouts, "I do not want a house! I do not want anything! Nobody is mine-You are mine! Oh Beloved Supreme Lord! Come! Come! Come!" He cries and weeps, tossing his arms and legs about. Then Krishna cries, "Oh!" and comes to him. This sort of perturbation of the heart, extreme eagerness for getting Bhagavan, must be there.
Vamsi dasa Babaji Maharaja said only one word: "Weep!" But, that single word has great significance. When we associate with the suddha bhakta who is crying for Krishna, then the eternal nature of atma will be awakened. You have love for God. Love is there in your soul. It exists, but it is presently enveloped by the external potency of the Supreme Lord and you have become averse to Shri Krishna. Passing through different species, our minds have become enveloped by so many evil desires.
There was once an exhibition at our Calcutta Matha. A part of the exhibition was a tightly sealed glass bottle full of honey, covered with bees. The bees were trying to taste the honey through the glass. The narrator explained the significance of the exhibition. If bees, or even human beings, attempt to taste that honey through the transparent covering, they may think that they are actually tasting the honey. But the honey is covered by transparent glass. In reality, they are tasting only glass. There is only one obstacle between the honey and the tongue, but the glass is so transparent, that they are not even aware of its presence. By tasting the transparent glass, they think, "Oh, honey is not sweet at all. I have tasted it. It is sour. It is pungent. It is nothing." What is the taste of glass? Nothing. They believe this because the tongue has not touched the honey itself. But, should that glass be broken, then-oh!
In a similar way, we utter the Name of Bhagavan. It is Complete, Transcendental Ambrosia. But, we are not able to relish the taste because there are so many evil ideas and motives that create an obstruction. We actually only taste our evil motives. We have no connection with the Name itself. So, how can we utter the Holy Name?
Initially, Ajamila was a staunch brahmana. He was a very good child who had love for his parents and respect for saintly persons. He had all twelve brahminical qualities. So, all his father's money was entrusted to him. But one day, his father ordered him to bring some articles to him in order to perform oblations. He went to the forest to collect the articles, such as kusa grass and sacred wood. On his way back, he saw something obscene: a harlot and a man engaged in illicit sexual activity. Upon seeing this, his mind became perturbed. This obscene event disturbed his mind greatly and, consequently, he felt the urge to associate with the harlot. We should therefore avoid obscene sights. They are a very bad influence for us. After all, why do so many young boys and girls lose their character? By seeing such obscene things. Ajamila is a good example of this. He tried to control himself, thinking, "I am a brahmana. I should not associate with a prostitute. I am married and have my own wife. My parents are also to be considered." When you try to withdraw the mind from worldly things, those worldly things will come. You may try to think, "I will not think about my wife. I will not think about my children. I will not think about my house." But if you think about Krishna, then you engage all your senses in the service of Krishna, your mind is for Krishna and all the objects of your attachment are given for the service of Krishna. Automatically, your attachment to worldly objects goes to the positive side. But if you try to negate things, saying, "I shall not think this, I shall not think that," those things will come. This is not a good procedure.
Ajamila would secretly go to visit that harlot. He would give her money and enjoy her company. In fact, he spent all his money on her. The prostitute always wanted something or other. "Give me money! Give me ornaments!" she would demand. Eventually, all his money, meant for maintaining his unsuspecting wife and elderly parents, was gone. He left his home and went to live with the prostitute and, for her satisfaction, performed all kinds of sinful activities and crimes, such as theft and robbery.
Ajamila fathered ten sons in the womb of the harlot. By dint of his previous good status, he named the youngest son Narayana, who was born when Ajamila was eighty-eight years old. Ajamila had great affection for this youngest son. He always had firm attachment to that beautiful, small boy. He was attracted to his every move and word. He would call to the boy, "Oh darling, come here. You should not go there or you will fall down." He walked with him, slept with him and ate with him. It was always, "Narayana! Narayana! Narayana! Narayana!"
But soon, the time for Ajamila's death arrived. Up until that point, he had been completely absorbed and engrossed in worldly matters. He did not even realize that his ultimate end had come. He saw three messengers of the god of death (Yamaraja) approaching. They were horrible figures, with fiery eyes and brown hairs that stood straight up on their heads. Significantly, there were three messengers because every person of this world commits sin in three ways: by words, body and mind (thoughts, words and deeds). So, at the time of death, three messengers will appear.
There is still one person living in Navadvipa-dhama today who saw Yama-puri-the realm of the god of death. He was taken there by mistake. After seeing that he had died, his family took him to the cremation ground for burning. But, when they arrived there, people noticed some movement in his body. Suddenly he sat up.
The people asked, "Are you a ghost?"
"No, I am not a ghost!" he said.
"What happened?" they asked.
"I was taken to the realm of Yamaraja by the messengers of death. They were judging me, stabbing me with pointed spears, injuring me, giving me pain. When it was my time to be judged, they put me before Yamaraja in his court. When he saw me, he said, `No, no, no. This man will live to be seventy-eight. You have made a mistake.' The messengers left me and so I have come back here. What I have seen is horrible-I will not remain in my house."
After this experience, he left and searched, wondering, "Where to go? Where to go?" Eventually, he went to Navadvipa where our Paramgurudeva was staying at the time.
"What have I seen?" the man asked Paramgurudeva.
"You have seen the realm of the god of death. After death, you will be taken there for punishment."
"No! I shall not return there! How can I get help for this?"
"You should perform harinama!"
He still lives in Navadvipa today.
This is not mythology. The government of the Supreme Lord is a reality. The three messengers of the god of death take souls by thrusting them into another subtle covering, a painful covering. That subtle covering is then taken to the realm of Yamaraja. At that critical moment, Ajamila could only think of his son, Narayana. Ajamila saw the Yamadutas (the messengers of Yamaraja) and, out of intense fear, shouted, "Narayana! Narayana!" Then, as he uttered the four syllables of the Name "Na-ra-ya-na", four associates of Narayana, all resembling Narayana, each possessing four arms, holding a conch shell, disc, club and lotus flower, appeared before him. They were very beautiful. They stopped the messengers of Yamaraja, shouting, "Stop! Why are you taking this man?"
Then the messengers of the god of death said, "Your appearance is very beautiful. Perhaps you are demigods. Perhaps you are rsis or munis. But you are not doing any good by interfering. We are the servants of the god of death and we have come here upon his order. You do not know that this man was originally a good brahmana. He used to serve his parents and he had devotion to his Gurudeva. He was always very well behaved and full of good qualities. But once, when his father sent him to get some articles for sacrifice, he witnessed an obscene sight to which he became attracted. He then spent all his father's money in the association of a harlot. He left his parents destitute. How will they manage in their old age? He did not even think about this. He also left his duly married wife. He committed many crimes, such as theft and robbery and he has not done anything for atonement of these sins. So, we are taking him for retribution. Why are you objecting?"
Then, the very beautiful personal associates of Narayana replied, "He has uttered the Name of Narayana! He has made expiation not merely for one birth, but for crores (tens of millions) of births! All his sins have been destroyed. This is only nama-abhasa-a glimpse of the Name. The rays of the sun, coming directly from the sun, reflect in a tank of water. When that reflection shines on you, it is called abhasa. When this man, Ajamila, called to his son, Narayana, the utterance went directly to Narayana Himself-nama-abhasa. He uttered the Name `Narayana.' Even if a person, being unable to utter the whole Name, utters only `Na'-any part of Infinity-he will gain benefit. This man uttered `Narayana!' All his sins from crores and crores of births and deaths have been destroyed. He has been rescued and has attained salvation. So, why are you taking a pure heart to punish? Where will people go to take shelter if Dharmaraja (Yam araja) is doing such things? He is punishing someone who is pure and completely divested of all sins. What type of crimes has he committed?
stenah sura-po mitra-dhrug
ye ca patakino 'pare
sarvesam apy aghavatam
idam eva suniskrtam
yatas tad-visaya matih
(Shrimad Bhagavatam, 6.2.9-10)
Committing theft is a sin. If one steals valuables, gold, etc., it is a great sin. If one takes drugs or intoxicants, that is also sinful. If one kills a human being, that is certainly a great sin, but if I kill a man who has placed his trust in me, that is an even greater sin. Killing a brahmana or having an illicit connection with a woman are also sinful deeds. But, having an illicit connection with the wife of one's superiors, such as an elder brother, is an even more serious crime. The killing of one's wife or parents, the killing of the king, who is protecting us-all these heinous crimes, one may have performed. One may have committed any of these sinful acts, but by uttering His Name, God responds. `Who is calling My Name? I will come to that person!' When He comes to that person, all sins are destroyed. There are no sins in this man. You should not take him."
It is said at the conclusion of the story of Ajamila in Shrimad Bhagavatam:
mriyamano harer nama
ajamilo 'py agad dhama
kim uta sraddhaya grnan
(Shrimad Bhagavatam, 6.2.49)
At the time of death, at the age of eighty-eight years, Ajamila, due to his fear at seeing the horrible figures of the messengers of the god of death, thinking about his son, uttered the Name: "Narayana!" He was rescued. So, those who utter the Name with great faith, with firm faith-how can we estimate the extent of their benefit? Nobody can. Ajamila was certainly a great sinner, but he had become pure. He had been divested of all the contamination of sin. If such a great sinner became sanctified, how can we possibly chant the glories of those who perform harinama with great faith?
Actually, our position is even worse than that of Ajamila's. The western devotees have changed their custom and now give their sons the names of Bhagavan, such as "Krishna and "Rama"." They now give their daughters the names of the internal potency of the Supreme Lord, such as "Radha." But, nowadays in India, in many places, you will find that parents are now giving their sons and daughters worldly names. We ask them, "You have given up the heritage of your forefathers, who gave their sons and daughters the names of Bhagavan, the Supreme Lord. Why are you doing this? What have you called your son?"
"Pinky!" one person replied.
So, that child has the name "Pinky." His parents love him very much. They are always thinking, "Pinky, come here. Pinky, come here." They move with Pinky; they eat with Pinky; they sleep with Pinky-Pinky, Pinky, Pinky. Then, when the messengers of the god of death come, out of fear they will cry, "Pinky!" and the messengers will take them. If they were to call out "Govinda," "Narayana," "Ramacandra," "Radha-Ramana," etc., they could be saved.
Keep the Name. Then, at the time of death, if you utter the Name of the Supreme Lord, you will go to Vaikuntha.
Mountain Temple Center
Today we are present at the "Mountain Temple Center" in Phoenix. I have heard from the devotees that someone here is a magician. Is there a magician here? (The owner of the center acknowledges that he is a magician). You are the magician? Oh! You see, everything is done by the will of the Supreme Lord. Without His will, nothing can be done. If anybody says, "Yes, I can do something against the will of the Supreme Lord, then the Supreme Lord will lose His absolute position. Even a leaf cannot move without His approval. So, why have I been brought here to this Mountain Temple Center, where the owner is a magician? For what reason has God sent us here? There is some purpose to it. By this, the Supreme Lord is teaching us that wherever we are staying in this world is the result of the magic of the Supreme Lord. We are already seeing magic. Whatever we are seeing around us is jugglery. Is it not true? And within this world, a tiny godlike being is also displaying magic. Is that not also true? Who, however, is the Greatest Magician? The Supreme Lord, Shri Krishna. Everything we are seeing here is His magic. When you see magic, you take it to be real. But, actually, it is illusion-false.
Many years ago, when I first came to Shri Chaitanya Matha in Shri Mayapura, Navadvipa-dhama, India, I heard a story about a famous magician who had come to Mayapura to perform his magic. The Matha was packed with visitors, not only from Shri Mayapura, but from other places as well. Arrangements were made for the seating of all the visitors. The magician arrived at the full house, accompanied by two or three assistants. Before he began his first feat of magic, he told the audience, "You should not be frightened by what you are about to witness. I am going to take this saw and cut someone from the audience in half. By the grace of the Lord, no mishap will come to him. He will be fine." He brought out a box and a volunteer from the audience came up to lie down inside it. "Don't be frightened," he repeated, "everything will be okay." Then, two of the assistants picked up a huge saw, placed it over the middle of the box and began to saw through it. After some time, they had sawn through the box. The box was in two halves. There was blood spilling onto the floor and the audience became alarmed. It appeared that the person inside the box had been killed. Many expressed fear that the police would come and arrest them. Many people began to flee.
"Don't go! Don't be afraid!" the magician cried to them. "Why are you afraid? You are sadhus. By your grace, this man will be all right. Have no fear."
But many of the audience still thought, "This man has been killed-we should not remain here. How can we remain here when the man's blood is pouring out?"
Ultimately, the magician exclaimed, "Come!" He uttered some incantation and then, shouting, commanded the dead man, "Rise up!" The crowd was astounded to see the man rise up, completely well.
Of course, it was all an illusion. The magician appeared to be sawing the person in half, but there was some sort of trick going on. In actuality, he did not even touch the man. Outside persons could not see the trick. Even the sadhus had become frightened upon seeing this illusion of the magician. What to speak of this magician and his audience, Supreme Lord Shri Krishna performs His own great magical display of infinite planets, and all are enchanted by His magic.
Recently, when we were in Singapore, the person hosting our trip wanted to show us the island of Sentosa. We were to cross the ocean by boat to the island and then return later that day in order to go to a program somewhere else that evening. He told us that there were various things to be seen there. Visitors from all over the world come to visit that island. I agreed to go on the condition that we should return well before that evening's function. "If we travel very far," I said, "we will be too tired when we return, having had no time to take rest." Our friend assured us not to worry and that there would be plenty of time. So, we left for Sentosa. We were brought to various places and saw many sights. Ultimately, we were taken to a cinema. When I was a young person living at my parents' house, on principle, I would never go to any cinema. In all my years in Calcutta, even when I was young at University, I had never once entered a cinema, on principle. In Calcutta, there are the very famous Zoological Gardens, and many people said I should go there. "Oh, the whole world goes to see these gardens," people would tell me. "For what reason should I go?" I thought. Nowadays, people come to our Matha, and the first thing they go to see is the Zoological Gardens, but I have never seen them. I have always been this type of person. But now our host had brought us to this cinema house.
(The wind gets very strong at this point and starts to blow over the candles and pictures. Maharaja says, "This is one kind of magic.")
This cinema house was like a stadium. We sat there and someone came and fastened a seatbelt around my waist. This was strange. I asked, "You are showing a film. Why are you fastening a seatbelt around my waist?" "You might fall down," I was told. "Why?" I asked. Then they switched off the lights to that grand stadium. Everything became dark and the film began.
I thought to myself, "What am I doing here? I have renounced household life to worship the Supreme Lord. Is this some form of worship?"
As I sat, they were showing the film. There were trucks running very fast along the road. In front of them, there was a motorcycle speeding along in such a way that there could have been an accident at any moment. "Why are they showing this?" I wondered. After some time, the motorcycle and one of the trucks moved in such a way that it seemed as if there would surely be a collision. At this point, as we were sitting there, the whole stadium started to rumble. We looked at each other. "Are we moving?" we wondered. We thought, "We are moving so fast along the roads and through the countryside! There will definitely be an accident. This is why they fastened our waists! We are moving so fast, but where are we going?"
Eventually, in front of us, we saw some gasoline tanks. "Oh," we thought, "this time we will surely crash!"
But the stadium continued to move at high speed. Running at this rate, it felt to us that perhaps, by now, we had left Singapore for some distant destination. If this were so, then it would not be possible for us to attend the evening program.
Ultimately, we were brought to the seashore. I thought, "Definitely we will be unable to attend the program tonight!"
Then, the lights to the stadium were switched on and we could see that we were in the stadium. What had we seen? This was the magic of human beings. Actually, we had not been moving at all, but they had made it appear so. At the time it was going on, we could not understand this. Then the manager of the theatre announced that they would be starting another show wherein a person would be lifted up and then he would fall down from a great height. Everyone cried, "No! We don't want to see this lest we be killed by having a heart attack!"
Ha! The human being's jugglery! Magic! We are infatuated upon seeing this. But Supreme Lord Shri Krishna is performing His great magic of the creation of infinite planets and all are enchanted by His magic. Even in our scriptures you will find evidence of this. Markendeya Rsi performed immense penance and received boons from Mahadeva (Siva) and from Badarinarayana Vishnu. The demigods along with their king, Indra, tried to break Markendeya's penance by alluring him with various temptations. But Markendeya Rsi always remained very calm and serene. They had never seen such a person before. They were unable to create any restlessness of mind in him. All the demigods, including Mahadeva, were astounded. Mahadeva, along with Narayana, appeared before him. Badarinarayana said to him, "I am satisfied by your austerities. Tell me what it is you wish."
"I want to see Your maya!" Markendeya Rsi said.
"All right, then, you shall see it!" said Narayana affirmatively.
That muni had been performing meditation in front of his cottage. All of a sudden, he saw a storm. The air started to blow, increasing and increasing. The whole sky became consumed with clouds. Soon, the rains began. The land became completely inundated with water. Continuously there was rain, rain, rain and his cottage was also soon covered with water. He watched as he saw everything of this world become immersed in a vast sea. He might have drowned in this sea, but he had previously received a boon from Brahma that he would survive for seven kalpas. One kalpa is one day of Brahma. So, his boon was to live for seven days of Brahma, not seven earth days as we know them today. You cannot mentally fathom the mathematical calculation of such a high figure.
Presently, we are in this black age of Kali-yuga. The span of time for this Kali-yuga is 432,000 years. Double of this (864,000 years) is the duration of the Dvapara-yuga. Triple of the Kali-yuga (1,296,000 years) is the duration of the Treta-yuga and quadruple it (1,728,000 years) is the length of the Satya-yuga, the "Golden Age." If you add the total time of these four yugas together, the sum is 4,320,000 years. If the span of time covered by these four ages is multiplied by seventy-one (306,720,000), then that is the span of life of one Manu. The fourteen Manus are sons of Brahma, and are called "Manu" because they were created by the mind of Brahma. The total number of years in which the lives of fourteen Manus have passed, (14 X 306,720,000 = 4,294,080,000 years) equals one day of Brahma. Such seven days (30,058,560,000 years) would be the lifespan of Markendeya Rsi. How did he get such a boon?
Mrkanda had learned from an astrologer that his son, Markendeya, would die at the age of ten. So, he was in a very melancholy state. He could find no peace of mind. "Here is my only son," he thought, "and that son will die at the age of ten?" He went to his son and instructed him, "Whenever any elder person comes to see you, you should bow down to him. You should make prostrated obeisances to him." As per the instruction of his father, whenever an elder person of respectable stature came to their house, Markendeya made prostrated obeisances to him.
By chance, the Saptarsis (the seven rsis), also the sons of Brahma, set their holy footprints in the house of the descendents of Bhrgu, and the boy, Markendeya, fell flat at their feet.
The rsis blessed him. "May he live eternally!" they exclaimed.
The boy's father was astonished. He approached the rsis and said, "But my son is destined to die at the age of ten. Now you have given him a boon, but will this boon be effective?"
"Oh, is that true?" the rsis asked. They were perturbed because they wanted to award the child some sort of boon. They took the boy to Satya-loka, the planet of Brahma. They told their father, "We went to this boy's house only to set our holy footprints there and this boy, out of affection, fell flat at our feet. He is unfortunately destined to live ten years only."
"No!" cried Brahma. "His span of life is seven days-of mine!" Thus, Brahma gave him this boon.
We should never ignore our superiors. We are learning this lesson from the son of Mrkanda, Markendeya Rsi. If we bow down to parents, elders, Vaishnavas and sadhus, then by their grace, we shall be able to get things we cannot imagine. Markendeya is one such example.
So, when Markendeya requested to see maya, the illusion of the Supreme Lord, clouds, followed by heavy rainfall, suddenly surrounded his cottage. The whole area had become inundated and had become a sea, an ocean. But, due to his boon, he did not die. There were whales, sharks and other creatures swimming in the water, attacking and wounding him, but he did not die. At that time, he thought, "Why have I obtained this span of life? It would be better if I were to die!"
He drifted in this way through this vast ocean for one thousand years. After that, he drifted to Purusottama-dhama (Puri, Orissa). There, he saw a banyan tree. A leaf of the banyan tree was floating on the waters of the great sea. A small boy-very attractive-was seated on that leaf. He thought, "Where has this boy come from? He is so attractive!" He came closer. Markendeya, seeking shelter from the aquatic animals that were attacking him, approached the beautiful boy.
This very wonderful boy was inhaling and exhaling. When Markendeya came close to the nostrils of the boy, he entered into one of the nostrils as the boy inhaled, thereby entering into the body of the boy. Within the body of the boy, he saw mountains, hills, birds and all created beings. He saw houses and human beings. For one thousand years, he passed the time in this fashion. The boy then exhaled. Markendeya was expelled from the nostril and he again felt as though he were drowning in the devastating ocean. Again, for many years, he underwent great suffering. Again, he thought, "Oh! Why have I obtained this span of life? It would be better if I were to die!"
Again, he saw the beautiful boy and felt attracted to him. Markendeya swam near him, intending to embrace the boy. But the moment he went to embrace the boy, the boy disappeared and Markendeya found himself sitting in front of his cottage, meditating, just as he had been before.
This is magic-the magic of the Supreme Lord. We are also seeing this magic. Presently, we see all the created beings. During the day of Brahma, everything is created. During the night of Brahma, everything dissolves. Actually, our real self does not die. It always remains. But we are seeing this creation and destruction-this is the illusion of the Supreme Lord.
Whenever we forget the Supreme Lord, this illusion will envelop us. Even Narada Gosvami was enchanted and infatuated by seeing Krishna's maya. We revere Narada as an acarya in our preceptorial channel. By his grace, we can cross over this ocean of births and deaths. But once, Shri Narada himself requested Krishna to show him His maya.
Narada said, "I have heard that all the living beings of this world are experiencing immense miseries due to Your maya-Your illusion-the external potency. I want to see that illusion and know what kind of afflictions they are undergoing."
"You do not want this," Krishna told him. "You will become charmed, enchanted. Why do you want to see this illusion? You are singing My glories. You are chanting My Holy Name. You are rescuing all the fallen souls. What benefit will you get by seeing My illusion? You will become infatuated!"
Narada implored Krishna, "If You think that I have the slightest drop of devotion for You, please show me Your maya." Narada was very obstinate and stubborn about it. You will find this story in Brahma-Vaivarta Purana.
Immediately, Krishna turned Himself into a brahmana. Narada also became a brahmana and his vina, which he always carried, disappeared. No one was able to recognize that this brahmana was Narada and that the other was Krishna.
In Svetadvipa, there are many planets. Krishna and Narada were traveling throughout these planets. After many travels, they came to the house of a vaisya. In order that they may obtain devotion, this mercantile class of people serves the brahmanas. They utilize their money and other assets to serve the brahmanas and the demigods. When Shri Krishna and Narada Gosvami set Their holy footprints in his house, the businessman paid respect to Them. He bowed down and worshipped Them, serving Them very nicely. Krishna, in the form of a brahmana, blessed him, saying, "May your wealth increase!" The vaisya was pleased, believing that a brahmana had blessed him. He did not realize that this brahmana was Krishna, Himself. Narada observed Krishna's actions with interest.
Krishna and Narada left the house and continued to roam. After many travels, They became the guest of a brahmana. That brahmana also adored Them and served Them nicely. But, at the time of leaving his house, Krishna, still in the form of a brahmana, cursed Their host, saying, "May all your wealth be destroyed!" Narada was perplexed. He wondered, "This man has also served us well. Is Krishna showing His magic to me? He has given a boon to the businessman, while He is cursing this brahmana. Why, has He done this, when this brahmana served us so well?"
After they left the house, he complained to Krishna. "What are you doing?" he asked. "What is Your reason for this sort of behavior? You should be equal to all! Why have You cursed this man?"
Then Krishna replied, "In spite of being a brahmana, this man is engaged in the cultivation of crops-the work of a farmer. He should be engaged in the worship of God only. He should read the Vedas, etc. He should help others to get devotion. He should not have the desire to increase his wealth. If a brahmana ploughs the land for one day, the same degree of sin is incurred as when a fisherman kills fish for an entire year! This brahmana should not be engaged in farming. He should not have this sort of aptitude. I have cursed him for the sake of his eternal welfare."
They traveled onward and Krishna thought to Himself, "No matter whether I appear in the form of a brahmana, a vaisya or any other form, Narada's devotion to Me is always there. If he does not forget Me, how can I show him My magic? In order to accomplish this, he will need to forget Me."
Then, immediately, by His desire, the Supreme Lord, within Whom all the planets are residing, transported Himself and Narada to this world. No airplane is required. No Sputnik is required. That is magic. When they arrived in this world, They saw a very beautiful lake. The fragrance of lotus flowers was emanating from it. There were numerous varieties of fish swimming in its waters. Birds were flying overhead and swans were swimming about. The water was very clean and clear. Narada suggested that They perform their ablutions there in the sweet, pure waters of that lake. They had been traveling such a long time and this would refresh them.
Krishna told Narada to go on ahead and take his bath and that He would wait on the shore in the meantime. Narada entered the water and started to bathe. When he raised his head out of the water, Krishna had disappeared. The lake had now become a sea. Narada's body had transformed into the body of a very beautiful woman. He stayed afloat on the surface by catching hold of a piece of timber. He looked about in all directions. "Oh, everything is water, water!" he lamented. "Who will rescue me? Who will rescue me?" Narada had forgotten Krishna.
Now, the magic of Krishna began.
So long as Narada remembered Krishna, there was no magic. But now he was crying, "Who will rescue me? Who will rescue me?" Krishna is the only Protector. We should take absolute shelter at the Lotus Feet of Krishna. Krishna will rescue us. But Narada had forgotten. So, when we also forget this, then the magic will start! We are presently seeing Krishna's magic.
Then, by the desire of Krishna, a king named Taladhvaja appeared. It is said in the scriptures that our birth, death and marriage are all pre-ordained. Everything is done by the will of the Supreme Lord. Therefore, this king had come and Narada, in the form of a beautiful woman, was beckoning him, signaling him to come and rescue her.
The king thought, "This woman is so beautiful! What has happened to her? Perhaps her boat capsized and all of her traveling companions died." He sent his own boat to her and brought her back to shore.
"Tell me," he asked her, "where do you live? I have never seen such a beautiful woman. Wherever it is that you live, I shall bring you home."
"I do not know where I am from," said Narada.
"What about your parents?" the king asked.
"I do not know," said Narada, "please give me shelter."
The king was astounded. He thought, "Perhaps all of her relatives have perished at sea and she is now in a state of shock. Let me take her to my palace."
He brought her to his palace, but she could not regain any memory of her home or family. The king, by watching her beautiful, charming form, eventually desired to marry the woman. Narada now became queen of a wealthy kingdom. So much land, so many houses, so many elephants, horses, servants, maidservants and ornaments! The queen was always busy serving her husband and became engrossed in all the matters of family life. There were also many temples and many people were engaged in arranging religious events. They would come to the queen and request her to please attend.
"No, I have no time!" she would say. "I am engaged."
In the form of that woman, what was Narada Muni saying? "I'm engaged. I've got no time to go to the temple of Shri Krishna. You may make my offerings of flowers to the Lotus Feet of the Lord on my behalf."
After ten years, he begat (or, rather, she begat) fifty very beautiful children. At first, she had had love only for her husband, but now the husband and children were sharing her love. When the children reached adulthood, the queen requested that her husband give them some sort of work so that they could increase their wealth.
"My sons?" asked the king, "What will they do? Why do they require money? They will only sit idle. Let them become minor kings instead. I shall divide this property into fifty portions and each son will be a subordinate king."
Originally, all the sons lived with their parents, but now some lived nearby while others lived some distance away. Now, the mother desired that her sons take wives. So, very soon, in a grand way, all fifty sons were married. It was a pompous affair and millions and millions of dollars were spent. Shortly after the wives went to live with their husbands, quarrels between the brothers started to arise. The wives would say to their husbands, "Your elder brother has been given more property than you. Go to your father and ask him to give you more." At first, the sons would say, "Be silent. You should not speak this way. We should be satisfied with whatever our father gives us." But every day, the young wives would continue to press this issue with their husbands. In this way, after some time, the sons began to think, "My wife is actually right." Eventually, one of the brothers went to his father and said, "Why have you given my elder brother more land than I?"
The king implored, "You can see that all that was once mine now belongs to all of you. Why are you quarreling? It is impossible to divide the land of this kingdom into precisely equal portions."
But, in spite of this, the sons went to war among themselves. As a result of their fighting, all fifty sons were killed.
The queen went mad. She had great affection for her children. One after another, she saw her sons die. It was so shocking. The queen, in her grief, now started to blame Krishna for this disaster.
"Krishna is unkind to the living beings of the world!" she cried. "He is always cruel! He finds His satisfaction in giving afflictions to the living beings! I don't believe Krishna is all-good-He is cruel!"
She continued, "He has no knowledge in His brain! We are old men and women, but instead of taking our lives, he is taking the lives of our children! So now, there is no one left to beget children! There will be no children and all creation will be stopped. There is no wisdom in the head of this Creator! He is a dunderhead!"
She wept, due to her separation grief for her sons.
At that time, Krishna, in the form of a brahmana, came to her house. "Are you all quite well?" He inquired.
"No!" she wailed. "We have lost all our children! We are in great misery!"
Krishna asked her, "Wherefrom have you gotten these children? All living beings are born by the will of the Supreme Lord. They remain here for some time and, when the Supreme Lord desires, He will take them from this world. They do not belong to you. If any of these children had actually belonged to you, then you could have kept that child with you but everything is coming from the Supreme Lord:
jatasya hi dhruvo mrtyur
dhruvam janma mrtasya ca
tasmad apariharye 'rthe
na tvam socitum arhasi
Why are you mourning? One who has been born will die. It is inevitable. We should not be distressed by this." In this way Krishna advised the queen.
Hearing the words of the brahmana, the queen became calmed for a while and stopped weeping. But, after some time, when she would happen to see some garment or other article belonging to one of her sons, she would begin to cry again.
Krishna then said to her, "You cannot bring back your children. Please go to the lake and perform ablutions and then come back here to Me. I shall make some arrangements to assure that the departed souls of your sons will find peace."
"I don't want to live in this world!" the queen wailed. "You are a brahmana, so I will abide by your order. But actually, I request that you bless me so that I shall die!"
Narada, in the form of the queen, followed the instructions of Krishna, in the form of a brahmana. He went to the lake to perform ablutions. As he emerged from the water, his eyes fell upon Shri Krishna.
"What are You doing here?" Narada asked Krishna.
"Why don't you tell Me what you have seen?" Krishna asked.
"What I have seen," Narada said, "is very shameful! My body was changed. I became a woman. A king came along and I became his queen. I had a great kingdom with every kind of wealth-servants, elephants, horses, and property. After some time, I had fifty children. I was engrossed in their upbringing. Later, they married. When the wives went to live with them, all the sons began to quarrel among themselves. Then, they fought one another and all the sons were killed. I then rebuked You, saying, "You are cruel! You have no compassion for me! You are a fool! You are stupid! Please, tell me, what is this that I have seen?"
"This is My maya!" Krishna replied. "Do you want to see more?"
"No! No!" Narada cried.
As long as we remember the Supreme Lord and we chant His Name, no maya will come. When we forget Him, then this maya will come. If you see that this person is crying, this person is laughing, this person is doing something else, all these things are illusion. They have no actual existence.
In order to get this knowledge, Krishna has brought us to this place-the house of a magician. Can we perform such magic?
So, let us chant the Holy Name-Krishna's Name. The Name and the Named are the same. If we chant the Holy Name, the Supreme Lord, Who is All-Existence, All-Knowledge and All-Bliss, will appear and all maya will go. Here, in the company of the sadhus, we should remember that whenever we forget Krishna, maya will come. So we should take a vow never to forget Him. In this way we will be rescued from maya.
Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's school of thought
We belong to Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's school of thought: pure devotion to Shri Krishna. What are the teachings of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu? One renowned saint, Shrinatha Cakravarti, has summarized the teachings of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in a nutshell in this verse:
aradhyo bhagavan vrajesa-tanayas
tad-dhama vrndavanam ramya kacid upasana vraja-vadhu-
vargena ya kalpita shrimad-bhagvatam pramanam amalam
prema pumartho mahan shri chaitanya-mahaprabhur matam idam
tatradaro nah parah
(from Chaitanya-manjusa, a commentary on Shrimad Bhagavatam)
"Aradhyo bhagavan vrajesa-tanayas": Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has taught us to worship Krishna, the son of Nanda Maharaja. According to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Krishna, the son of Nanda Maharaja, is the highest object of worship-the Supreme Lord. "Tad-dhama vrndavana": His transcendental, spiritual realm is Vrndavana. What form of bhakti is foremost there? The vraja-gopis, or milk women of Vraja-mandala, worship Shri Krishna with all their senses and all the objects of their senses. Their worship is unparalleled. No one else can worship in such a manner, as do the vraja-gopis. You will find this evidence in the quintessence of all scriptures, Shrimad Bhagavatam. What is the ultimate goal of human life? Krishna-prema. Dharma, artha, kama and moksa are not the ultimate targets for human beings. "Dharma" means performing many actions, for our own worldly benefit here and hereafter, as per the instructions of the scriptures. That dharma performed with the aim of receiving benefit in this world, in other worlds or after death is not our ultimate goal of life. "Artha" means to amass money and "kama" means to fulfill our sensual desires. These are not the ultimate goals of a human being. Even mukti (moksa), deliverance from the cycle of births and deaths, is not our ultimate goal. A prisoner may be released from prison, but after that, what does he get? A prisoner may be granted deliverance or emancipation, but if after that he gets nothing, if he does not become rich, what is his situation? He is free, but what does he have? At first, he was in an undesirable state, in bondage. Now he is released from bondage, but what is he getting after he is released? It is an important point. So, merely getting deliverance from the cycles of maya cannot be the ultimate goal. After that, what shall we get? Love of God-krishna-prema. That is wealth. If I become released from my debts, that does not mean that I have become rich. I was in debt for the sum of one million dollars and then I paid it back. I can be said to be rich only to the extent of what I may receive after that debt is paid. So, when we get positive things, such as love for Krishna, that is called "wealth." That is our requirement: krishna-prema.
There is a question that is often raised. In several places we have been asked this same question. "Svamiji Maharaja, you are saying that krishna-prema is the ultimate goal of life. But there are many views in this world-many tenets, many "isms", many creeds. Others are also speaking on the evidence of scriptures, but they do not support your view. So we have our doubts. All these teachers are saints and you are also a saint. There are many minds and many views. What shall we do? So many different views of so many sages exist and, for an ordinary person, it is difficult to determine which view we should accept and which view we should disregard."
Human life is very short and people are confused. So, some people ask this question. However, you will find that there is nobody in India, or at least no followers of sanatana-dharma, who do not have belief in Mahabharata or Ramayana. All schools of thought in India have accepted these two literatures and are, therefore, unified in this respect. Bhagavad-gita is, itself, one section of Mahabharata. So, I shall give an item of evidence from Mahabharata. To answer this important question, I am not giving any evidence from Bhagavata (Shrimad Bhagavatam), as some might object, thinking it to represent a specific viewpoint. If you have any objection that I am giving evidence from Mahabharata, if you do not believe Mahabharata, then you are not a sanatani (a follower of sanatana-dharma). If you are not a sanatani, then you do not believe in the Gita, a part of the Mahabharata. It is a big topic, and although it is not possible to narrate it so concisely, I shall try to relate it briefly.
After being defeated in gambling at a game of dice by the Kauravas, the Pandavas were banished from their kingdom and exiled to the forest for twelve years. After that period, they were to spend one more year incognito, during which time, if anyone recognized them, they would have to spend yet another twelve years in the forest. During the time of their exile in the forest, they first went to Dvaitavana. But when they saw that all the beasts there, especially the deer, were being assassinated, they became very distressed. They left that place and went to Kamya-vana, within Vraja-mandala. We visit this place when we perform Vraja-mandala parikrama (circumambulation). At Kamya-vana, they experienced another mishap. Jayadhrata, the King of Sindhu, abducted Draupadi. So, there followed a battle between the Pandavas and Jayadhrata. Through the efforts of Bhima, Arjuna, etc., the Pandavas defeated Jayadhrata and rescued Draupadi. At that point, they felt that they should not remain in Kamya-vana, and henceforth returned to Dvaitavana.
At Dvaitavana, the Pandavas lived beneath a tree. A brahmana also dwelt in that forest. This brahmana used to perform daily oblations by pouring ghee into a sacred fire, and thusly was referred to as an "agni-hotri-brahmana". At that time, matchsticks were not considered holy for the lighting of these special fires and were, therefore, not used in the performance of yajnas (sacrifices). There is a special sacred wood by the name of "arani." By rubbing two pieces of this sacred wood together, the brahmanas would ignite the fire for their sacrifices. It is very difficult to find and, therefore, not easily available. The agni-hotri-brahmana had some of this sacred arani wood tied to a churning stick, which he used to churn butter. Suddenly, a great deer grabbed the churning stick and fled with it, causing the brahmana great distress. "How can I continue my vow to do havana (offerings of ghee to the fire)?" he cried. He tried to catch the deer, but was unsuccessful. He became more and more distraught, as he knew it would be very difficult to find more of the sacred arani wood.
At that time, he heard that Yudhisthira Maharaja, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva had recently set their holy footprints in Dvaitavana. When he heard this, he became more hopeful about his situation. "Bhima and Arjuna are very powerful fighters," he thought. "It is nothing for them to catch a deer. They are very submissive to their elder brother, Yudhisthira Maharaja. If I submit a prayer to Yudhisthira Maharaja, and he directs his younger brothers, then they will surely come to my aid and assist me in maintaining my religious vow of performing oblations."
He went to see the Pandavas. When he arrived, Yudhisthira Maharaja and all the Pandavas stood up out of respect. The king, cordially receiving him, asked, "How can we serve you?"
The brahmana replied, "I am an agni-hotri-brahmana. I am to perform havana every day. But I have a problem. The sacred arani wood, used to ignite the fire for the oblations, was stolen by a deer. I tried to catch hold of the deer, but it was to no avail. You have with you the very powerful and formidable Bhima and Arjuna. If you direct them, they will surely go to catch this deer and retrieve the sacred wood. In doing so, they will rescue me from the peril of the contravention of my religious vow-they will save me!"
Yudhisthira Maharaja immediately directed his brothers to go and help this brahmana. They searched throughout the whole forest. Finally, toward the evening, they saw the deer, but could not catch it. Arjuna shot swarms of arrows into the sky, but was unsuccessful in catching the deer.
Disappointed, they returned and expressed their mental worries and agonies. They said to Yudhisthira Maharaja, "We have never been unsuccessful before. We have lost all of our power! This is no doubt due to the fact that, when Duhsasana was trying to denude Draupadi in the assembly of kings, we did nothing to obstruct him. We have committed a great sin and have lost our power!"
Yudhisthira Maharaja told them, "For now, we have other concerns. We are all very thirsty. Go through the forest and search for some drinking water. If there is no drinking water here, we shall all die."
Nakula, one of the younger brothers, climbed a tall tree and saw that, some distance away, there was a big lake. Yudhisthira Maharaja directed Nakula to go search out that lake to find drinking water. When Nakula arrived there, he saw a very grand lake-very beautiful. Never before had he seen such a lake, with very pure crystal-clear water. Elegant swans swam in the lake while gardens of lotus flowers floated on top of the water. The sweet fragrance of the lotuses filled his nostrils. He was astounded to see this.
Nakula was very thirsty. He bent down to drink the clear water, when he suddenly heard a celestial voice, prohibiting him from drinking the water.
"Do not touch the water!" the voice said. "First you must answer my queries. If I receive appropriate answers from you, only then will you be permitted to drink the water! If you ignore me and touch that water, you will die!"
Nakula was so thirsty that he could not heed the request of that supernatural voice. He touched the water and immediately died.
Meanwhile, Yudhisthira Maharaja was becoming worried that Nakula had not yet returned. He sent Sahadeva to investigate what had happened. When Sahadeva arrived at the lake, he was shocked to see his brother dead. But in his extreme thirst, he leaned down to touch the water and, just like Nakula, he heard a supernatural voice prohibiting him from doing so. But, like his brother, Sahadeva could not resist tasting the water. The instant he touched the water, he died.
After that, Yudhisthira Maharaja sent Arjuna. On seeing his two brothers dead, Arjuna was deeply shocked. He went to the lake to take water for his elder brothers, when the voice called out to him, "Do not venture to touch the water! First give me answers to my queries, and then you may touch. Otherwise, you will also die!"
Arjuna searched for the source of the voice. Who was preventing him? Who was there? He searched, but saw nobody. He shot many arrows into the heavens, turning the sky dark.
Then, the voice addressed him once again, "You cannot shoot me with your arrows! You cannot stop me. First, answer my questions and then you may drink the water. Otherwise, you will suffer the same plight as your brothers."
"No!" Arjuna said. "I cannot remain here. My elder brothers are thirsty. I have to bring them water. After I bring them water, I shall come back."
Arjuna touched the water and also died.
After that, Bhima was sent, who also died in the same fashion.
Ultimately, Yudhisthira Maharaja, being very worried, came himself to the lake. When he saw that all of his four brothers were dead, he was grief-stricken. His intense grief is described for several pages in Mahabharata. He thought, "This Duryodhana, Duhsasana, Karna and Sakuni are all hostile to the Pandavas. They are always trying to kill my brothers. Perhaps they have poisoned this lake and, by drinking this water, my brothers have died."
In his grief-stricken state, he saw the body of his brother Bhima and lamented, "O Bhima! You have taken the vow that you will split the thigh of Duryodhana! Now, how will you fulfill your vow?"
Yudhisthira Maharaja wept.
Seeing the body of his brother, Arjuna, Yudhisthira Maharaja called out to him, "O Arjuna! You are like Indra! There is no warrior equal to you. This is your fate? What shall I do?"
After a little while, he suddenly thought, "This water is very clean. It does not appear to have any poison in it. There are so many ducks and swans swimming about in it. There are also tortoises and fish. If this water were poisoned, then all these creatures would also die."
Yudhisthira Maharaja looked at the bodies of his brothers. The four Pandavas looked as though they were sleeping. There were no wounds on their bodies, no deformities of any sort. "This is strange," the king thought. "It is as if they were in a deep slumber."
The king entered the lake and bathed. After he came out from his dip, he attempted to take a drink of the water.
He heard a supernatural voice saying, "I am a heron-a crane-a fish-eater! I am the owner of this lake. First, give answers to my queries. If you give me the appropriate answers, all your brothers will be brought back to life and you will also be permitted to drink the water."
Yudhisthira Maharaja protested, "I do not believe that a heron can kill like a demon! How can a water bird kill a formidable soldier like Arjuna?"
Then the crane assumed the form of a palm tree, very tall with a black complexion. "I am a Yaksa!" he exclaimed. "I have killed your brothers!"
The king was astounded.
The demon said, "First, give me the answers to my queries!"
Yudhisthira Maharaja was, by nature, both sublime and sober. He told the demon, "Yes, I shall try to give answers to your queries."
In Mahabharata, we read that the crane demon asked many queries of Yudhisthira Maharaja, but the last four questions are especially important.
ka ca varta kimascaryam
kasca modate kaha panthaha
kathayitva jalam piba
(Mahabharata, Vana-parva 313.114)
Those queries were:
What is the news of the world?
What is the greatest wonder?
What is the true path?
Who is happy in this world?
To these questions, Yudhisthira Maharaja gave answers that can never be changed. No person in the world can change these answers.
If someone were to ask us, "What is the news of the world?" we would reply, "Such-and-such things are happening in such-in-such place. There is a war somewhere or another, etc." After one month, everything would be completely changed. But Yudhisthira Maharaja's answer to this question is immutable-it can never change. What is the verse in the Mahabharata?
asmina mahamohamaye katahe
bhutani pacatiti kalaha varta
(Mahabharata, Vana-parva 313.118)
What is the meaning of this verse? "Masartudarviparighatatnena": the twelve months and six seasons are like spoons used for cooking. These months and seasons are rotating like the stirring of those spoons.
"Suryagnina": For cooking, fire is necessary. What is that fire? The sun.
"Ratridivendhanena": Where there is fire, there must be fuel. Fuel is consumed by fire. So, what is that fuel? The day and the night. When the sun rises, the day begins. When it sets, the night begins. Day and night are coming and going, so they are like fuel that is consumed by the sun.
There must be a pot for cooking-a large pot, a cauldron. What is the meaning of the cauldron? "Cauldron" means "mahamoha"-great ignorance. We are in nescience. All the jivas, being enveloped by the illusory energy of the Supreme Lord, believe that they are the masters and enjoyers of the world. They think, "This house is mine. This wife is mine. These children are mine. I am a brahmana, I am a ksatriya, I am a vaisya, I am a sudra, I am an outcaste, I am Indian, I am Russian, I am American. This property belongs to me! I am the owner of this house." Actually, we are not the proprietors of anything. We belong to the Supreme Lord, and everything belongs to Him. By the influence of the illusory energy, we think that we belong to this world and that the things of this world belong to us. "I am of this world, I am Indian, I am Chinese, etc." This is false ego, false knowledge, the result of nescience. This is a big cauldron of illusion.
What are the articles to be cooked in this cauldron? The articles are the living beings. They will be cooked in that cauldron. So, who is the cook? Yamaraja, the god of death! He is cooking all the living beings of the world. Can anybody change this? Can anybody change this answer of Yudhisthira Maharaja? Nobody can. When a cauldron is put over a fire, it will become very hot. If the living beings are thrown into that cauldron, they will feel its intense heat. All the living beings are afflicted with miseries. This is the news of the world! This is the whole picture. Nobody can change this answer.
The next question was, "What is the greatest wonder?" In our boyhood, in school, we were always taught that there were "seven wonders of the world." The Taj Mahal of Agra! In Babylon, there was a garden in the sky! In China, a gigantic wall! In Russia, a gigantic bell! In Egypt, the great pyramids, etc. But these are not wonders now. But the answer Yudhisthira Maharaja gave to this question posed by Yamaraja cannot be changed by anyone. It is the answer for all time to come. What is this answer?
sesah sthavaram icchanti
kim ascaryam atah param
(Mahabharata, Vana-parva 313.116)
Every day we are seeing that living beings are entering the jaws of death. Is it not so? Those who are younger than I, those who are older than I, those who are the same age as I, are all dying. But, those who presently exist are thinking that they will exist in this world this permanently. They are busy erecting huge buildings and other things thinking, "We shall remain here eternally!" Is this not a wonder? We think that we shall remain in this world eternally, even though we are seeing daily that all living beings are dying, regardless of their age. So, how is it possible that I will be able to remain in this world? Is this not the greatest wonder? Can anybody change this answer for all time to come?
The third question was, "What is the true path?" We are desperate to know what is the actual path of life. The answer to this question was given by Yudhisthira Maharaja for all time to come, not to be disputed by anyone:
tarko 'pratisthah srutayo vibhinna
nasau rsir yasya matam na bhinnam
dharmasya tattvam nihitam guhayam
mahajano yena gatah sa panthah
(Mahabharata, Vana-parva 313.117)
Remember that this evidence is being given from Mahabharata, not from any other scripture. Mahabharata is accepted by all schools of thought in India. "Tarka": by the words of logical argument, you cannot substantiate any view or any contention. One intelligent person will establish one viewpoint, and another intelligent person, perhaps more intelligent, will refute that view and establish his own. Then a third person may come along and do the same. There is no foundation for this tarka, this reasoning, this mundane system of argument. In Bengal, it is said, "visvase mile vastu, tarke bahudura." "By faith, we can get Bhagavan-by firm faith." Those who are without faith cannot get the Supreme Lord by means of bandy arguments and pedantic quips. "Tarko 'pratisthah." "Srutayo vibhinna": In the Vedas, you will find different kinds of teachings, because the status of each human being is different. There are three primary qualities of the Lord's external potency, sattvas, rajas and tamas. So, the human beings are enveloped by these qualities of the external potency of the Lord. If sattva-guna predominates, that person is called sattvika, if rajo-guna predominates, that person is called rajasika, if tamo-guna predominates, that person is called tamasika. So, each person has his own status:
In the Vedas, you will find different teachings for the sattvika people, the rajasika people and the tamasika people. But there are also teachings about the Transcendental Reality. That is also there. The Vedas are not like the Koran or the Bible. You cannot complete them in one lifetime. You may go through the Vedas-you may read thousands of verses-but you will still be unable to know what the actual teaching of the Vedas is. It is so vast. It is very difficult. According to the competence or worthiness of people, different kinds of teachings have been given for their gradual progress. So, it is very difficult to determine what the actual teaching of the Vedas is. "Srutayo vibhinna nasau rsir yasya matam na bhinnam." "A rsi, a saint, cannot be considered a saint if he does not have his own view." He will not be accepted as a saint:
"What is your view?"
"I've got no view."
"No! You are not a saint!"
Many minds, many views.
So, as we said earlier, people become confused and ask, "There are many saints. They all have different views. Which view should we accept? What is the path?" "Dharmasya tattvam nihitam guhayam, mahajano yena gatah sa panthah": "The concept of religion-spirituality-is concealed in the cave of a mountain." What is the meaning of this? "Nihitam guhayam." "Guha" means cave-a cave in the hills or mountains. "The religious concept is hidden in the cave of a mountain." "Guha" means the cave of the heart of the surrendered soul, the suddha bhakta. There have been many philosophical discussions on this topic among different philosophical groups in India. According to the theistic group, dharmasya tattvam, the tattva-the thing in its true form-cannot be known by the human being by means of his own intellect or mental capacity. Why do they say this? If you claim that Ultimate Reality is that which can be perceived by human intellect and mental capacity, how correct can this be? The human being is born, he will remain for some time and then he will die. A human being is finite. His intellect is finite. His mental capacity is finite. Therefore, anything determined by means of human intellect and mental capacity will also be finite. How can he determine the infinite-the cause of himself or the cause of all things? How? Anything determined by the finite intellect or the finite mental capacity of the finite being will be a mentally concocted thing. That is not reality-it is fictitious. If reality is reality, it must always exist. Reality cannot be manufactured in the intellectual factory of the human being, a conditioned soul. That would be non-reality. Reality always exists. You are not to manufacture it by means of your limited mental capacity. Reality is there, and you have to find out how to see that truth. So, we say "darsana-sastra." The terms "darsana-sastra" and "philosophy" are not synonymous. Nor are the terms "dharma" and "religion." There are many words in sanatana-dharma that are very peculiar. You cannot translate them into any language of this world. The word "philosophy" means "philo-sophia:" "love of knowledge." To which kind of knowledge is it referring? Empiric knowledge-knowledge acquired by the material senses and material intellect. Philosophy means that, depending on the data supplied by the senses and intellect, and utilizing the process of induction, one tries to ascertain Ultimate Reality. But you, yourself, are not an eternally existing person. You have been born and you will die. You have limitations. You are not the cause-you are the effect. So, you cannot determine your cause. That Cause is Self-effulgent. Darsana-sastra means that truth is there, and you have to find the way to see that truth. You are not to manufacture Bhagavan. That which is manufactured is not reality. Bhagavan is there, and you have to find out how to see Him-darsana-sastra. Unchallengeable Truth, the Cause of all causes, Who is Self-Effulgent and Self-Luminous, can descend to the completely surrendered soul. That complete submission is like a cave. God descends into the cave of the heart of the completely surrendered soul. Actual religion, or true righteousness, resides within the Supreme Lord, Supreme Reality. That Supreme Reality is the Absolute Conscious Person and, by His grace, He will reveal Himself to the submissive, surrendered soul.
You will find in Shrimad-Bhagavatam, that Brahma, the creator of all living beings of this world, could not understand Krishna. He was bewildered to see Krishna. "This is a cowherd boy, how can he be Bhagavan?" he thought. But when he took complete shelter of the Lotus Feet of Nandanandana Shri Krishna, then he could understand. Only by Krishna's grace could he understand. Brahma, the creator of all the living beings of this world, could not understand by means of his own intellect and mental capacity. If we receive Krishna's grace, we may take absolute shelter, but if we approach Him in a challenging mood, we will be disappointed. There is nothing greater than Him and nothing equal to Him, so without His grace, no one can know Him. If anyone says that he can know Him by his own means, then those means will be equal to, or greater than, Bhagavan. This is absurd. There can be no equal or superior to the Supreme Lord. Without His grace, nobody can know Him-it is the only way.
nayam atma pravacanena labhyo
na medhaya na bahuna srutena
yam evaiva vrnute tena labhyas
tasyaiva atma vivrnute tanum svam
Paramatma cannot be known by oration, lectures, intellect or education. Simply by being an "intellectual giant," a man cannot know Krishna. Simply by being a great "Pandita," possessing great knowledge of the scriptures, a man cannot know Krishna. God will manifest His true form to those who surrender to Him.
Yudhisthira Maharaja said, "Mahajano yena gatah sa panthah." The common definition of a Mahajana in India is a moneylender. So, a moneylender is very rich and generally has immense amounts of money that he can lend to others. But this is the ordinary meaning. Why do we actually earn money? To get happiness? Let us say that you are offered two proposals. The first proposal is that you will be a multi-millionaire, but you will always be in great suffering with many worries and tribulations. The other proposal is that you will always be very happy and never have any worries, but you will never have a farthing. Which proposal will you accept? Everybody wants happiness. We earn money for happiness-not for money's sake.
So, where can we find actual happiness? Krishna is happiness personified.
Parents have great love for their small child. They find him very beautiful. "This beautiful child is making us so happy," they think. But then, perhaps, life leaves the body of that child. His body is dead, devoid of consciousness. If that dead body were preserved for a long time by means of a chemical procedure, could the body of that child give happiness to any father or mother? Of course not. Happiness belongs to consciousness-cetana. As long as cetana dwells within the cages of the physical and subtle bodies, the presence of that blissful entity is what gives us happiness. If an emancipated soul can come in contact with another person, that person can receive immense ananda.
You will find in the autobiography of Aurobinda, that he was once a prisoner in a tiny cell. He says, "I felt suffocated from being in that cell. I felt that I should just die." But while he had these thoughts, he noticed some ants moving across the floor of his cell. He meditated upon this. By dint of his meditation, he concluded that within each ant there is a spiritual spark. Behind that, there is the All-Pervading Spirit. After meditating in this way, he felt some kind of solace. Material things cannot give us happiness. People, who cannot find anyone to be with them, might keep a dog or cat with them to keep them happy. We see that, sometimes, when a son or daughter leaves home, parents will bring some sort of pet into the home. Material things cannot make us happy. Some sort of sentient being must be there.
So, if a particle of a sentient being can give us so much happiness, then what can be said of the Cause of that tiny sentient being? Wherefrom are these sentient beings coming? Man can beget man. Horse can beget horse. Dog can beget dog. Cetana can beget cetana. We are all sentient beings. We have come from the Absolute Conscious Principle:
yato va imani bhutani jayante
yena jatani jivanti yat
tad vijijnasasva tad brahma
(Taittiriya Upanisad 3.1.1)
We are emanating from Brahman, we are sustained by Brahman and we shall go to Brahman. That Brahman, as a conscious unit, is a person. But, we say that He is not a person: "That person is a myth, because he has no consciousness. No personality is attributed to this." But, personality is attributed to a conscious principle, not an unconscious principle. So, if an individual sentient being, possessing personal attributes, constitutes a person, then the Absolute Consciousness must also be a person-a personal being. "Raso vai sah."
You will find that, in Krishna-lila, Yasoda tried to fasten Gopala, a small boy. A small boy, with a small belly. She took a length of rope to tie around His belly, but could not fasten it. All the ropes of Nanda Maharaja, one after the other, forming a giant rope-from here to the airport-could not reach around the belly of Gopala. This is because within this "limitation", the small appearance of Gopala, He is unlimited. "Simar majhe asima tumi" (saying by Ravindra Natha Tagore).
Outwardly, we perceive Krishna to have limitations but, within, He is actually unlimited. He is the Cause of all causes. He is inconceivable. We cannot understand this. Vast and infinite! That Ananda can take any shape. Ananda is transcendental and omniscient. Without His grace, you cannot get Him. If you can get Krishna, you will be happy. There will be no end to it-it is infinite. Nobody can say, "I have tasted Krishna!" After tasting again and again, his taste for Krishna will still remain. But you are in this world. You might hear a very beautiful song, a very nice song. But after hearing it several times, it becomes stale and you yearn to hear a new song. But, within Krishna's Name and Attributes, at every step you will find a new, fresh taste. You cannot end it. If you can enter into that region, then you will enter into the happiest region-the region of krishna-prema. You will find, in Shrimad-Bhagavatam, the Mahajana is that person who is giving this knowledge of krishna-bhakti. Who is a Mahajana?
svayambhur naradah sambhuh
kumarah kapilo manuh
prahlado janako bhismo
balir vaiyasakir vayam
dharmam bhagavatam bhatah
guhyam visuddham durbodham
yam jnatvamrtam asnute
(Shrimad Bhagavatam, 6.3.20-1)
Twelve Mahajanas are mentioned. Brahma, Narada, Rudra, the four Kumaras, Kapiladeva, Svayambhuva Manu, Prahalada, Janaka Maharaja, Bhisma, Bali Maharaja, Sukadeva Gosvami and Yamaraja are all Mahajanas. Here, Yamaraja is speaking to his messengers, the Yamadutas. He says, "We twelve Mahajanas know bhagavata-dharma. It cannot be understood easily, without the grace of Shri Krishna and His devotees. It is very confidential, most secret." So, those Mahajanas have advised us to love the Supreme Lord, Shri Krishna. If you love your country, such as the USA, then you will have to fight with other countries, such as those in Europe, Asia, etc. If you love the world, then you will be compelled to exploit Mangala-graha (the planet Mars). If you love this brahmanda (this material universe), you will try to exploit another brahmanda. But, if you love the Supreme, Complete Reality, you will have no impetus to exploit any other thing. So, this is the most elevated state-love of Complete Reality, the Supreme Lord.
The crane demon's final question was: "Who is happy in this world?" Yudhisthira Maharaja replied:
pancamehani sasthe va sakam pacati sve grhe
anuni capravasi ca sa varicara modate
(Mahabharata, Vana-parva 313.115)
At the end of the day, if a man takes only a little bread and nothing else, but has no debts and has not been forced to leave the land of his birth, then that man is happy. If anyone is in debt or cannot live in the place of his birth, then he is unhappy. This is an allegory, of course. The real meaning is this: We are atma. We are an eternally existing principle, saccidananda. Therefore, if we have attachment to non-eternal things, that is known as "debt." We experience suffering proportionate to what we have spent in our involvement with non-eternal things. By the mercy of the sadhu, referred to here as a Mahajana ("money lender"), we shall become free from our debts. Because we are in debt, we have been driven from our home. Where is our home? "Back home, back to Godhead": That transcendental realm of Goloka is where we belong. We have been driven out to a foreign land, this material world. Whether we are in India, the USA or Russia, it is all foreign land. It is not our home. Our home is there in the transcendental realm. Therefore, we are suffering because we have been driven out from our actual birthplace, Goloka-Vrndavana, due to our attachment to these non-eternal things. This is the actual purport of the answer given by Yudhisthira Maharaja.
After the crane demon, who was actually Dharmaraja (Yamaraja, the lord of death) in disguise, had heard all these answers from the king, he said, "Your answers are very good! One of your brothers may be brought back to life! Choose one only!"
Yudhisthira Maharaja did not reveal his own feelings, but humbly requested that Yamaraja give back the life of his youngest brother Nakula. Yudhisthira was the son of Queen Kunti and Nakula was the son of Queen Madri. Therefore, out of affection, he wished that each mother would have one surviving son, even though he was dependent upon the valor and strength of Arjuna and Bhima for success in the inevitable war to come. Hearing this, Yamaraja said, "Actually, you are a righteous person. I shall bring all four of your brothers back to life! Then, you may request another boon from me."
Yudhisthira Maharaja explained how the agni-hotri brahmana had lost his sacred wood to a deer. He requested Yamaraja to arrange to have it returned to him. To Yudhisthira Maharaja's surprise, Yamaraja revealed himself once more. "I was that deer!" he said. "I myself took the wood. I shall return it to the brahmana. Is there some other wish that you desire?"
Yudhisthira Maharaja then requested the boon that no one would be able to recognize them when the time came for the Pandavas to travel about incognito for one year at the end of their exile in the forest.
The Message of Bhagavad-gita
Today's subject is "The Message of Bhagavad-gita". You must have heard the name "Gita." It is universally adored. Everybody knows it. But the difficulty is this: there are thousands of commentaries on the Gita, and in these commentaries the commentators have expressed their own views. They all have different views and ordinary people are confused about the actual message of Shrimad Bhagavad-gita.
The speaker of the Gita is the Supreme Lord, Shri Krishna. Only those who have entered into the heart of Shri Krishna can understand the real implication and significance of His sayings and the purpose of His speech and advice. Outside people cannot understand.
But in India, and also outside India, you will find many people who say, "We do not believe Krishna is the Supreme Lord because He took birth and, therefore, he was a human being. He may have many powers, perhaps even superhuman powers. He may even be a great politician, a great diplomat. But he is still only a human being."
Even those who have gone through the Gita may also speak like this. It is most astounding. When I ask them, "Have you gone through the Gita?" the reply is, "Oh, yes." I ask them, "How? If you have gone through the Gita, then you should accept the teachings of the Gita."
Supreme Lord Shri Krishna says in the Gita:
mattah parataram nanyat
kincid asti dhananjaya
mayi sarvam idam protam
sutre mani-gana iva
"There is nothing superior to Me (mattah)." With emphasis, Shri Krishna says that He is the Supreme Lord. We read the Gita, but we do not believe the teachings of Supreme Lord Shri Krishna. Why is this? "Mattah parataram nanyat, kincid asti dhananjaya, mayi sarvam idam protam, sutre mani-gana iva": "Nothing is separate from Me. Everything exists inseparably within Me, just as gems are inseparable when strung on a thread."
aham hi sarva-yajnanam
bhokta ca prabhur eva ca
na tu mam abhijananti
tattvenatas cyavanti te
"I am the only Master and the only Enjoyer of all yajnas (sacrifices)." "Aham": "I am the only one." "Aham hi": "Certainly, surely I am." "I" denotes a person. "Na tu mam abhijananti tattvenatas cyavanti te": "Those who do not believe this are detached from reality."
There are many other slokas in the Gita substantiating Shri Krishna as the Supreme Lord:
aham sarvasya prabhavo
mattah sarvam pravartate
iti matva bhajante mam
budha bhava samanvitah
"I am the cause of all creation, the origin of all things." "Aham": "I" and "mattah": "from Me" do not signify an impersonal God. Krishna says to Arjuna, "Sarvam pravartate": "All are set into action by My initiative and imparted power."
brahmano hi pratisthaham
sasvatasya ca dharmasya
"Brahmano hi pratisthaham": "I am the cause of the impersonal, formless God (Brahman)." That impersonal, formless God is the halo of Shri Krishna's own light, emanating from Shri Krishna Himself. Pratistha means "foundation." Shri Krishna is the foundation of Brahman. "Amrtasyavyayasya ca": He is the foundation of amrta (ambrosia), the foundation of avyaya (imperishability) and the foundation of sasvata (eternity). He is also the object of vraja-prema, one-pointed pure love and devotion, as exemplified by the inhabitants of Vraja-dhama.
Krishna is the Supreme Lord. How can we know the Supreme Lord? Without His grace, no one can know Him. If anybody says, "Yes, I can know Him," then he will be equal to or greater than the Supreme Lord. But the Supreme Lord, Infinite and Absolute, is One. Nothing can be outside the Infinite. If you say, "This flower is outside the Infinite," then the Infinite becomes finite. Even a particle of dust cannot be outside the Infinite, or the Absolute will lose His position. The Absolute is One. The only way to get Him is to take absolute shelter at His Lotus Feet and to act according to His will. There is no other way to get Him except by means of exclusive, pure devotion.
Therefore, only those who have surrendered to Shri Krishna, who have access to the heart of Shri Krishna, can understand the implication and significance of His teachings. Those without knowledge of Shri Krishna, who have not submitted to Shri Krishna, how can they know? They may write many commentaries, but they cannot comprehend the actual significance of the teachings of Shri Krishna.
Seeing the sad plight of the conditioned souls of this world, the Supreme Lord, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, out of compassion, sent His own men-Shrila Bhaktivinode Thakura and Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Thakura-to the world to rescue the fallen souls. Shrila Sarasvati Gosvami Thakura, through his entourage, extended His grace all over the world. They were very powerful spiritual personalities. They refuted all anti-devotional contentions by means of sound reasoning and scriptural evidence. Bhaktivinode Thakura has written his commentary on the significance of the teachings of the Gita. If we go through his writings, we shall come to know the real implication of the teachings of the Gita.
Shri Sankaracarya has written this glorification at the end of the Gita:
gita su-gita kartavya
kim anyaih sastra-vistaraih
ya svayam padmanabhasya
(Shri Sankaracarya's Gita-mahatmyam, 4)
"The Gita should be rightly read with one-pointed devotion, for the satisfaction of Shri Krishna. No other scripture is necessary if one takes shelter of the Gita. The Gita emerges from the holy lips of Shri Krishna and is one with Him." It is not material sound. In material sound, you will find that the thing referred to by a sound is different from the sound itself. If you utter: "water, water, water," the water-word is not the water-thing. The word "water" refers to a thing understood to be water. In this world you will find a difference between the word "water" and the object referred to by the word "water." But Krishna and the Name of Krishna are one and the same. Gita and Krishna are identical. So, by taking shelter of the Gita we can come in contact with Krishna. We have gone through the contents of the Gita, we have read the Gita, but despite this, we still have no devotion to Krishna. This is not actual reading. If we actually read the Gita, we will obtain devotion to Shri Krishna.
As I have stated earlier, without the grace of Shri Krishna, we cannot know the significance of the teachings of the Gita. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has instructed us on this point. During His visit to South India, He encountered a brahmana at the Ranganatha Temple who used to read the Gita daily with great devotion. The brahmana had no knowledge of Sanskrit. As such, he committed mistakes in pronunciation. Many pandits (religious scholars) also used to visit the temple. When they heard this brahmana reading the Gita and committing mistakes, they objected thus:
"Why are you reading the Gita? First, you should learn Sanskrit. Learn to pronounce Sanskrit correctly, then read it."
But, he did not pay heed to any of the remarks made by these people and, with rapt attention, he would read the Gita from beginning to end. Eventually, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to visit the Ranganatha Temple and saw the brahmana reading the Gita with great concentration and devotion. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was greatly attracted by this brahmana. He stood at the back of the temple, listening attentively. After completing his reading of the Gita, the brahmana stood up and saw Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the Extraordinary Divine Personality, Who was tall, with arms down to His knees and a golden complexion. Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu expressed His satisfaction, "I am very glad to hear your recitation of the Gita."
The brahmana said, "I have no right to read the Gita, but it is the order of my divine master. He said, `You should read the Gita completely, from beginning to end, and only after that may you take any food.' I cannot understand any of the verses because I have no knowledge of Sanskrit."
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, "You say that you do not understand the Gita, but while you were reading the Gita you were weeping. Tears were flowing from your eyes-why? If you did not understand the Gita, why were you weeping?"
The brahmana replied, "I have never divulged my heart to anyone, but You are a divine personality. It is not good to conceal my heart before You. It is true, I do not understand the Gita, but while I read the Gita, I see before me the Supreme Lord, Shri Krishna working as a servant, having been subdued by the devotion of Arjuna. He is the Supreme Lord, the Lord of all lords, the Lord of infinite brahmandas and infinite vaikunthas. Seeing His Bhakta-Vatsalya Murti (His form of profound affection for His devotee), I cannot control the flow of tears from my eyes. It happens spontaneously. It is very surprising that the Supreme Lord is working as a driver and His devotee is giving Him orders!"
senayor ubhayor madhye
ratham sthapaya me 'cyuta
Arjuna said to Krishna, "O Acyuta, place my chariot in front of the armed forces of the rival warring factions."
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said to the brahmana with great assertion, "Your reading of the Gita is crowned with success, as you have devotion to Shri Krishna."
Many people have distorted the teachings of the Gita to fulfill a vile mentality. Once, a younger godbrother of our Guru Maharaja, Pujyapada Bhakti Kumud Santa Gosvami Maharaja, went to Kashmir during the time of the British administration. At that time, the Maharaja of Kashmir was Hari Simha. He arranged a meeting, including Svamiji as one of the royal guests. The invitees were all dignitaries, rich people, and many of them owned tea gardens. The Maharaja of Kashmir also owned tea gardens. Our siksa guru, Pujyapada Santa Maharaja, is a very spirited person. He does not hesitate to tell the truth. In His speech, he said emphatically, "Those who are virtuous should not commit sins. They should not gamble, they should not engage in illicit connections with women, they should not slaughter animals and they should not take intoxicants of any kind, including even tea."
The tea garden owners were thunderstruck upon hearing this. They thought that they had committed a mistake by inviting Svamiji and said, "We are advertising tea, and Svamiji has come to destroy our business!"
One of the tea garden owners came to Svamiji and said, " Svamiji! You have spoken against tea, but it is glorified in the Gita."
Svamiji said, "I have gone through the Gita several times. I have not seen it."
"Yes, it is there."
In India the word for "tea" is "ca (pronounced `cha')." The tea garden owner showed Santa Maharaja a specific verse from the Gita:
sarvasya caham hrdi sannivisto
mattah smrtir jnanam apohanam ca
vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyo
vedanta-krd veda-vid eva caham
"In the form of "ca", `tea', I have entered into the heart of every jiva (living entity). And lastly, Krishna Himself says `I am ca' (caham), meaning, `I am tea'."
This is certainly not the meaning. The meaning has been twisted here to serve an ulterior motive. This sort of commentary will misguide the reader and be of no benefit. In the Sanskrit language, the word "ca" means "and", not "tea" as it does in Hindi. The real meaning of this verse is, "I reside in the heart of every living being as the Indwelling God. The living being's memory and knowledge, previous precepts and concepts as well as forgetfulness of these things, have all come from Me. All the Vedas substantiate Me as the only object to be known. I am the author of the Vedanta (vedanta-krd), and I am versed in the Vedas (veda-vid)."
The Gita is part of the Mahabharata. Vaisampayana Rsi narrated the infatuation and mourning of Arjuna to Janmejaya in the Bhisma-parva of the Mahabharata. Sanjaya obtained a boon from Vyasadeva Muni that he would be able to see the events unfolding at the site of the battle of Kuruksetra, so as to narrate the same to Dhrtarastra:
mamakah pandavas caiva
kim akurvata sanjaya
Dhrtarastra asked Sanjaya, "My sons, Duryodhana and others, the Pandavas, Yudhisthira Maharaja and others, assembled in the holy place of Kuruksetra with the desire to wage war. What did they do?"
Visvanatha Cakravarti has said in his commentary: "They have come with the desire to fight-they will fight. This much is unquestionable. But Dhrtarastra had some doubt about this: `Kuruksetra is a holy place, and the Pandavas are naturally religious-minded. They will accept an agreement or treaty but my sons may not accept. However, by the influence of Kuruksetra, their minds may change, so there may be a peace agreement.' That doubt was in Dhrtarastra's mind, so he asked Sanjaya what they did. But inwardly, he was thinking, `If there is no war, then our sons will be in danger from the Pandavas throughout their lives. So it is better that there should be a fight'."
As per the desire of Arjuna, Krishna placed the chariot before the Kauravas (the army led by Dhrtarastra's sons). Shivering, Arjuna was bewildered to see all his relatives before him. He saw in front of him his paternal grandfather, Bhisma, his guru Dronacarya, as well as his paternal uncles, brothers-in-law, kith and kin. He became perplexed. He thought, "All have come to sacrifice their lives. If I win the kingdom by killing them, I shall not be happy. Let them kill me, I shall not fight." He set aside his legendary, powerful bow, Gandiva.
Upon seeing the infatuation of Arjuna and his reluctance to fight, Shri Krishna reproached him, saying:
kutas tva kasmalam idam
"O Arjuna! How have you become so infatuated at this most critical juncture in front of the hostile opponents on the battlefield? This may be befitting to a non-Aryan, but this sort of deliberation of yours at this stage is unwarranted. This will deter you from attaining celestial prosperity and will also destroy your name and fame."
klaibyam ma sma gamah partha
naitat tvayy upapadyate
"O Partha (son of Prtha, or Kunti-devi)! You should not become impotent. It does not befit you. Shake off your weakness of heart, rise up and be ready to fight. You are capable of crushing the enemy."
asocyan anvasocas tvam
prajna-vadams ca bhasase
gatasun agatasums ca
"You are speaking to me as though you were a very learned person, but you are mourning for that which is undeserved. The wise do not mourn either for those who are born or for those who are dead, because atma (the real self) is eternal, having no birth or death."
dehino 'smin yatha dehe
kaumaram yauvanam jara
dhiras tatra na muhyati
"A corporeal living entity undergoes transformations of his body-childhood, youth and infirmity. Death is also a kind of transformation. The wise do not become deluded by this."
na jayate mriyate va kadacin
nayam bhutva bhavita va na bhuyah
ajo nityah sasvato 'yam purano
na hanyate hanyamane sarire
"Jivatma has no birth and no death. He is not reborn and experiences no growth. He is unborn and eternal. He always exists in the past, present and future. He is ancient but always fresh. When the body is killed, atma is not slain."
mayaivaite nihatah purvam eva
nimitta-matram bhava savya-sacin
"O Savyasacin (O Ambidextrous One-Arjuna, who is expert in shooting arrows with the left hand), I have already killed everyone. You are only an instrument in this. Shake off the false conception that you are the killer."
Then Arjuna thought, "I spoke about virtue, but Shri Krishna is dissatisfied. He has reproached me. Perhaps I am wrong in my discernment of truth and falsehood."
prcchami tvam dharma-sammudha-cetah
yac chreyah syan niscitam bruhi tan me
sisyas te 'ham sadhi mam tvam prapannam
Arjuna said, "I have lost my natural valor. I am bewildered and cannot ascertain what is right and what is wrong. I submit to you. I am your disciple. Please advise me regarding my eternal welfare."
Arjuna had taken shelter at the Lotus Feet of the Supreme Lord. Then, Krishna, acting as Guru, began to advise Arjuna and, via Arjuna, all the conditioned souls of the world. Shri Krishna gave various instructions in the Gita befitting the competency or ability of individual souls. He gave advice about karma (the path of performing correct action), jnana (the path of knowledge), yoga (the path of austerity and meditation) and bhakti (the path of pure devotion). But if we go through the Gita thoroughly and carefully, we will find that, ultimately, Krishna takes all to bhakti (devotion).
Krishna first extols the virtues of karma and inspires everyone to engage in it:
na hi kascit ksanam api
jatu tisthaty akarma-krt
"No one can remain without karma (action) for even a moment."
niyatam kuru karma tvam
karma jyayo hy akarmanah
sarira-yatrapi ca te
na prasiddhyed akarmanah
"Always perform karma (i.e., nitya-karma, or eternal karma, as enjoined in the scriptures). Doing karma (performing one's duty) is better than not doing karma (not performing one's duty), as no one can sustain his or her body without karma (work or action). There are three kinds of karma: karma, akarma and vikarma. Karma is the performance of actions or duties enjoined by the Vedas, akarma is abstinence from actions or duties enjoined by the Vedas and vikarma is the performance of actions or duties prohibited by the Vedas. Actual doers of karma in the world are very rare. Krishna has recommended karma but, ultimately, He is taking us to bhakti:
yajnarthat karmano 'nyatra
loko 'yam karma-bandhanah
tad-artham karma kaunteya
"Perform karma for Yajna." "Yajna vai visnurti srute." In sruti sastra, Vishnu is described as Yajna and one of His names is Yajna. "Yad idam visvam vyapnotiti visnuh": "Vishnu is the all-pervading Supreme Lord, Complete Reality." If we perform any action for the Supreme Lord, Complete Reality (purna), we will not fall into bondage. If we perform action for any part, separate from the Whole, we will fall into bondage. "Om tat sat." The Supreme Lord is tat, transcendental: that which cannot be comprehended by gross and subtle material senses.
We should perform actions for the Supreme Lord without any desire for the fruits of the actions. To perform any action for the Supreme Lord is bhakti, devotion. By inspiring a person to do karma, Krishna takes the karmi (the doer) to bhakti.
When Shri Krishna speaks about jnana, He extols it thusly:
na hi jnanena sadrsam
pavitram iha vidyate
tat svayam yoga-samsiddhah
"There is nothing so sanctified as jnana."
yathaidhamsi samiddho 'gnir
bhasma-sat kurute 'rjuna
jnanagnih sarva karmani
bhasma-sat kurute tatha
"As a blazing fire burns wood, reducing it to ashes, so too does jnana destroy all kinds of karma, reducing it to ashes." Karma is initiated by the false ego of the doer.
gunaih karmani sarvasah
kartaham iti manyate
"The jivas, being enveloped by the illusory energy of the Supreme Lord, which consists of three primal qualities or gunas (sattvas: goodness, rajas: passion and tamas: ignorance), misunderstand these qualities to be the body and wrongly think themselves to be the doers." When sattva-guna predominates, we become sattvika; if rajo-guna predominates, rajasika; and if tamo-guna predominates, tamasika. As per the color of the false ego, karma is also of three colors (white, red and black).
The jnanis (those who practice the path of knowledge) strive for self-realization. So all karma (deluded activity) emerging from the material ego is destroyed by jnana (proper knowledge). But by recommending jnana, Krishna is ultimately taking us to bhakti.
bahunam janmanam ante
jnanavan mam pradadyate
vasudevah sarvam iti
sa mahatma su-durlabhah
"After many births, the proponents of jnana-marga (the path of knowledge) take absolute shelter of Me (Vasudeva). Such a saint who sees everything in relation to Vasudeva is rarely to be found."
When their knowledge has reached the stage of maturity, jnanis can understand that no one can know God without His grace. As there is no one equal to or greater than Shri Krishna, no one can attain Him without His grace.
Shri Krishna, Himself, has pronounced a comparative judgment in regard to this in the Gita:
tapasvibhyo 'dhiko yogi
jnanibhyo 'pi mato 'dhikah
karmibhyas cadhiko yogi
tasmad yogi bhavarjuna
yoginam api sarvesam
sraddhavan bhajate yo mam
sa me yuktatamo matah
"O Arjuna! Become a yogi, as a yogi is superior to a hermit who practices severe austerities. The yogi (the worshipper of Paramatma) is superior to the jnani (the worshipper of formless Brahman), and is naturally, supremely superior to the karmi (one who performs actions enjoined by the scriptures for mundane benefit). Among all kinds of yogis, one who, while concentrating his mind on Me, worships Me (My Eternal, Transcendental Form) with firm faith and devotion is the highest yogi. Hence, the bhakti-yogi is the highest among yogis."
yasmat ksaram atito 'ham
aksarad api cottamah
ato 'smi loke vede ca
"As I am beyond ksara (the individual soul) and am supremely superior to aksara (Brahman and Paramatma), I am renowned in this world as Purusottama, the Supreme Personality. This is corroborated by all the Vedas."
Arjuna had certainly been listening to Krishna's instructions, yet Krishna now says, "Hear Me" ("srnu me"). Shri Krishna wanted to emphasize that Arjuna should pay special attention to His next pronouncement:
srnu me paramam vacah
isto 'si me drdham iti
tato vaksyami te hitam
"O Arjuna, even if you have been unmindful of my instructions thus far, it will not be so detrimental to you, but you should hear Me now with great care and attention. As you are My most beloved, I am telling you this topmost secret of all secrets, My supreme commandment, for your eternal welfare."
This is the highest instruction that Shri Krishna has given to all the conditioned souls of the world for their eternal welfare via Arjuna:
man-mana bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yaji mam namaskuru
mam evaisyasi satyam te
pratijane priyo 'si me
"Devote your mind to Me. If it is difficult to devote your mind to Me, just serve Me-engage your senses in My service. If this is also not possible, just worship Me. If even that is not possible, then take absolute shelter of Me. I promise you, surely, you will attain Me."
In spite of this, Arjuna was oscillating and could not decide what to do. Therefore, Krishna gave these final directions:
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah
"Relinquish all My previous spiritual instructions about dharma (the relative duties of varna and asrama as enjoined by the Vedas) and take absolute shelter of Me. I shall rescue you from all sins. Do not be overwhelmed by grief."
According to the Gita (7.4-5), the physical, gross body (composed of earth, water, fire, air and sky) and the subtle body (composed of mind, intelligence and perverted ego) are the outcome of the apara potency (inferior material energy) of Supreme Lord Shri Krishna. The real self, atma, is the outcome of the para potency (superior spiritual energy) of the Supreme Lord. Body, mind and atma all belong to Supreme Lord Shri Krishna. It is the duty of all individual spirit souls to serve Krishna.
nasto mohah smrtir labdha
sthito 'smi gata-sandehah
karisye vacanam tava
"O Acyuta, by Your grace my bewilderment has now been removed. I have remembered that I am Your servant, and all my doubts have been dispelled. I have come to learn that submission to You is the eternal, highest function of each and every individual soul. I shall do whatever You order me to do!"
And then the fight begins. But Arjuna's fight is for devotion!
Most Auspicious Day
Today is a most auspicious day: Mohini Ekadashi. Ekadashi means "hari-vasara." This tithi (day of the lunar month), the bright moon fortnight Sukla Ekadashi, is very dear to Lord Hari. In one word: hari-vasara. For this reason, it is most auspicious. This is its specialty. So if you perform bhajana, worship of Krishna, by means of sravanam, kirtanam, smaranam (hearing, chanting and remembering) and other devotional forms on Ekadashi, you will get a million times more benefit than on other days. If you realize the utility or benefit of following this vow then you will be actuated to observe it.
There are two kinds of benefit. In the sanatana-dharma scriptures of India there are two main divisions, karma-kanda and bhakti. Karma-kanda is the part of the Vedic literatures that prescribes rituals and ceremonies suitable for the obtainment of material, temporary benefits. This is called karma-kanda-smarta. From smrti comes the word smarta. Those brahmanas who are well versed in smrti are called smarta-brahmanas. They prescribe laws and regulations taken from the smarta scriptures advising, "If you perform this sort of vow you will get this sort of benefit." To encourage worldly people, they speak of worldly benefits. By this, the worldly-minded are inspired, but pure devotees do not want any such material, temporary benefits. This is called suddha bhakti (pure devotion). One is the suddha bhakti line and the other is the smarta line. They are quite different.
Now, in the scriptures you will find a description of the glory and utility of observing Mohini Ekadashi. This description can be found in the Surya Purana, which is named after the sun god, Surya. What is the nature of this glory, utility or benefit? Yudhisthira Maharaja asked Supreme Lord Shri Krishna, "Kindly tell me what the name of the Ekadashi is, in the bright moon fortnight of the month of Vaisakha (April/May), and what benefit will we get by observing this Ekadashi? Please tell me." Krishna replied, "I will not respond to your question based upon my own initiative," that is to say, based upon His own opinion. That is the procedure. You will find that even the Supreme Lord and the sages observe this procedure of presenting evidence based upon the previous evidence given by self-realized souls.
Shri Krishna continued, "Vasistha Muni played the pastime of acting as the guru of Bhagavan Ramacandra. Bhagavan Ramacandra once put a specific question to His guru. "I am experiencing extreme grief caused by separation from My consort, Sita Devi. Why is this happening to Me? How can I overcome this extreme separation grief?" Vasistha Muni replied, "You are the Supreme Lord. By uttering Your Name everyone will be emancipated and delivered from all kinds of difficulties, so why are You questioning me like this? You are surely putting this question to me for the benefit of the enslaved jivas of this world, who have the desire to obtain their eternal welfare. You are asking on behalf of those who strive diligently toward this goal. To obey Your order, I say that if You observe the Mohini Ekadashi vrata, it will destroy all sins, even heinous ones. If You observe this vow, You will be relieved of Your separation grief. I shall provide an example to illustrate this point."
Vasistha Muni continued, "There was a city, a metropolis, called Bhadravati, on the bank of the river Sarasvati, that was the capital of the kingdom, and in this city resided a king by the name of Dyutimana. This king was very religious-minded, righteous and pious. In that kingdom, there was also a vaisya by the name of Dhanapala. Vaisya indicates the third social class, the business class. They engage in business as the means of earning their livelihood and are often quite wealthy. This person, like the king, was very pious. He always acted for the benefit of humanity and for the good of all, including the subjects of the king. Everyone was very grateful and respectful toward him. He had five sons, but it was his misfortune that his youngest son, Dhrstabuddhi, was without good character-a debauchee. Dhanapala was, naturally, very disappointed with the situation. He thought, "What is this? My son is squandering the money that I collect and he is also associating with prostitutes. He is committing all kinds of heinous crimes."
One day, Dhanapala saw his youngest son walking along the road while embracing the neck of a harlot. At the sight of this, he was very much distressed and disappointed. He thought, "I don't want this son. I'll drive him out. He should go. I don't like his behavior." Dhanapala then drove his son out from his home.
Due to the prestigious social position and wealth of his father, Dhrstabuddhi had some money with him for several days after being driven out. However, when this money ran out, he had to resort to all kinds of criminal activity, such as robbery, eventually leading to his arrest by the police. When the police realized that he was the son of the respected Dhanapala, they released him. Ultimately, he had no choice but to live in the dense forest where he killed the beasts and birds for sustenance. He was committing all kinds of sins. Otherwise, how would he survive with no money? All of a sudden, he saw coming toward him, in wet clothing, a great saint by the name of Kaundinya Muni, who had just finished bathing. Upon encountering him, a drop of water fell from the muni's wet clothing onto Dhrstabuddhi and he was immediately sanctified. Dhrstabuddhi became repentant, thinking to himself, "I have spoiled my whole life. I have deprived myself of the affection of my parents. What have I done?" Thinking in this way, he fell down at the feet of Kaundinya Muni saying, "Please rescue me. You are all-merciful. Please rescue me, as I am the most wretched creature. There is no soul more fallen than I." In this way, he repeatedly offered prayers to Kaundinya Muni, who was compassionate by nature. Kaundinya Muni said, "Who are you?" Dhrstabuddhi introduced himself, informing Kaundinya Muni of his unfortunate plight. Kaundinya Muni then told him not to worry and advised, "If you observe Mohini Ekadashi, all your previous sins will be destroyed. It is the scriptural prescript and law to observe this vow." Accordingly, Dhrstabuddhi followed his advice and he was relieved of the burden of all his sins. Not only this, but he went to the Lotus Feet of the Supreme Lord by observing Ekadashi.
In the karma-kanda sastra you will find that this sort of encouragement is being given, but the suddha bhaktas observe Ekadashi solely for the satisfaction of Shri Krishna. What is the real purpose of Ekadashi? Our smrti-grantha, or Vaishnava smrti book, is called Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa. In this, there are laws or rules stipulating how to properly perform all the vows that have devotion to the Supreme Lord as their goal. Those who are pure devotees like to act in accordance with the injunctions of the devotional literatures, especially Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa. In this literature, the actual purpose of observing Ekadashi is written:
yas tu vaso gunaih saha
upavasah sa vijneyah
sarva bhoga vivarjitah
(Shri Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa, 13.14)
"Giving up all sins, and with all good qualities, one who remains near Krishna, totally relinquishing all enjoyments, has actually observed the vow of Ekadashi." Upavrttasya papebhyah: We are to give up all sinful activity. We are to refrain, to desist from committing all sins. On Ekadashi-tithi this is the very least we should do and, while exhibiting all good qualities, we should remain near the Supreme Lord Who is All-Good, All-Existence, All-Knowledge and All-Bliss. Upavasa. Upa means near to, in the vicinity of, or in the proximity of. Vasa means to remain, to remain near God. It is generally thought that upavasa means to remain without food, to fast. If you remain without food, but you think to yourself, "When shall I eat? My stomach is burning with hunger," then you are not thinking about Krishna. You are thinking about your stomach. If that should be the case, then you can take food that is allowed by the scriptures, but you should always think about Krishna.
apo mulam phalam payah
havir brahmana kamya ca
guror vacanam ausadham'e
(Shri Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa, 12.40, quoted from the
Udyoga-parva of Mahabharata)
If you take the foods stated in this verse, there will be no breach of your vow. You can take water. Mulam means potatoes and other roots that grow under the earth. You can boil them and your vow will not be broken. Phalam-all kinds of fruits can be taken. Cow's milk and milk preparations such as yogurt and ghee (clarified butter) can also be taken. With ghee from cow's milk, you can prepare a curry from vegetables like potatoes or other roots. Green bananas (plantains) and papaya are also acceptable. There will also be no breach of vow if medicine is taken which doctors have prescribed for a serious, possibly life threatening, health problem. If a bonafide brahmana would like to take something, then he or she should fulfill their desire in such a way that their vow will not be destroyed. However, one should take note that the actual prescript of the devotional scriptures is that, on Ekadashi, one should always remain near Bhagavan-all day and night. We should not forget Him. There are many prohibitions, many commandments, both positive and negative assertions. There is a list of things that one should not do, a list of negative assertions. Should there be any kind of action that will make you forget Krishna, then that is also prohibited even if it is not included in the list. There are also commandments, nine forms of devotion, sixty-four forms of devotion-like this. Should there be any other kind of action or devotion that will remind you of Krishna or the service of Krishna, then that is allowed even though it may not be on the list. What is the criterion to understand what we are to do and what we are not to do?
smartavyah satatam visnur
visamartavyo na jatucit
sarve vidhi-nisedah syur
etayor eva kinkarah
(Padma Purana, quoted in Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya-lila 22.113)
We have to remember Krishna always. That is the prescript or injunction of the devotional scriptures. We should never forget Him. So, therefore, the purpose of observing this vow of Ekadashi is to remember Krishna always. Wherever your mind is, you are there also. You are here now in this temple but you are thinking about your house and your relatives, who may be there experiencing difficulty of some sort. Or, perhaps, you are thinking that there is some work at home that requires your attention. If you are thinking like this, then where are you actually staying? You are physically staying here at the temple, but mentally you are staying at your house. Is it not so? Wherever your mind rests, wherever your mind remains, you will be there also. If you go to Vrndavana but you do not think about Vrndavana, then where are you staying? Physically you are there, but mentally you are somewhere else. The primary factor is the mind. In all the different devotional forms of worship, the target is to engage the mind in the service of Krishna. If you can control the mind all the senses will be controlled automatically as they are subservient to the mind. "Sarve mano nigraha laksnantam."
Now the difficulty is this: sarva bhoga vivarjitah. On this day, you have to give up all kinds of bhoga, sensuous enjoyment. Totally! If you have the inclination to enjoy, you can only enjoy that which is inferior to you. You will not be able to remain near Vishnu, Bhagavan or the bhakta because They are superior. If you have the spirit of enjoyment you will remain near material things, the temporary, non-eternal things of this world-things that you can lord it over. If you want to observe Ekadashi, to remain always near Krishna, then you have to give up all kinds of enjoyment totally. You have to remain near Krishna, but there is yet another problem. What is that problem? Who is Krishna? Krishna is not a human being:
harir hi nirgunah saksat purusah prakrteh parah
Hari (Krishna) is transcendental. He is beyond mind, intelligence and the sense organs of the conditioned souls of this world. You cannot stay near Hari by means of this physical body composed of earth, water, fire, air, ether and the astral body, composed of mind, intellect and perverted ego, which are produced by the apara potency of Supreme Lord Shri Krishna (the material energy). An example can be given. The owner of a building is residing on the tenth floor and his servant is residing on the ground floor of that building. If the servant stays on the ground floor, will he be able to serve the owner of the building? He must go upstairs to the tenth floor by means of walking or by taking the elevator and he must enter the apartment and then the room where the owner may be lying down. He must then proceed to the bedstead where he can sit and give a massage if necessary. By remaining on the ground floor, he cannot serve. Similarly, the Supreme Lord is in the transcendental realm but you are on the mundane plane, with this physical body. How, then, are we to remain near the Supreme Lord? Tell me. Does the Supreme Lord have a material form?
isvarah paramah krishnah
anadir adir govindah
(Shri Brahma-Samhita, 5.1)
He is the Cause of all causes. He has vigrahah (form) but it is made of sat (eternal existence), cit (knowledge) and ananda (bliss), not of material things. How then, can I remain near Krishna with this material body? The devotional, spiritual injunction is that we should remain near God. But God is transcendental, beyond our comprehension, so the problem is, how are we to stay near Him? What is the solution? We find in Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita:
diksa-kale bhakta kare atma-samarpana
sei-kale krishna tare kare atma-sama
sei deha kare tara cid-ananda-maya
aprakrta-dehe tanra carana bhajaya
(Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya-lila, 4.192-193)
"At the time of taking mantra-diksa, the devotee takes absolute shelter of Gurudeva. Shri Krishna makes the devotee cid-ananda-maya via the medium of Gurudeva and, in that transcendental form, the devotee can worship Shri Krishna."
What is the significance of this? Diksa-kale bhakta kare atma-samarpana: Diksa means mantra-diksa and harinama-diksa. There are two kinds of diksa and when we take diksa, we surrender to the Lotus Feet of Gurudeva and to the Lotus Feet of the Supreme Lord. However, we are not seeing the Supreme Lord. The Supreme Lord is here in His Deity form, but He is not talking with us. We cannot exchange thoughts with Him even though He is here in His Deity form. Very rarely, among many, many human beings, we may find a devotee of Krishna to whom the Murti or Deity is speaking, but generally we experience no exchange of thoughts. On the other hand, although we know that the material body and the things related to it are temporary, we exchange thoughts with them and as a result we become attached. We have attachment for non-eternal, physical relations but we have no attachment for Krishna. What can be done? What is the procedure? You will find in the dialogue between Kapila Bhagavan and Mata Devahuti in the 3rd Canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam:
prasangam ajaram pasam
atmanah kavayo viduh
sa eva sadhusu krto
(Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.25.20)
You are seeing the sadhu. The sadhu is moving and talking. The real or bonafide sadhu has one-pointed devotion to Supreme Lord Shri Krishna. He is giving everything-mind, intelligence, speech and senses-everything, for the service of Krishna. He is serving Krishna twenty-four hours a day. Such a suddha bhakta is rarely to be found. You should go to a suddha bhakta, but who is a suddha bhakta? Kapila Bhagavan says that a suddha bhakta must have this original quality of one-pointed devotion to the Supreme Lord; otherwise he cannot be accepted as a suddha bhakta. One should find a suddha bhakta such as our Gurudeva, Shrila Bhakti Dayita Madhava Gosvami Maharaja. By speaking with him and seeing his outward appearance, everyone was attracted. Some even thought that he was the son of Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura due to their striking physical similarity. Of course, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura had no son, as he was an ascetic. For those who have not personally seen our Paramgurudeva, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, it should be noted that he would think and speak about Krishna twenty-four hours a day. Many pandits, erudite scholars, would come to debate with him, thinking to challenge his contentions and refute what he was preaching, but when they actually saw him, they would become speechless and bow down before him. So much power! They were astounded at the sight of him because his knowledge was not merely that of books, but of realization sent by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. It is a completely different thing.
Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was in the habit of sending our Gurudeva in advance to functions, as Shrila Gurudeva was always very successful in his endeavors wherever he went. One such occasion was when our Paramgurudeva visited Sarabhoga, Assam for the first time. There was a great reception for Shrila Prabhupada when he arrived. While in Sarabhoga, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura traveled in a bullock cart while others walked to different places in the area. At that time, one of my senior godbrothers, Shrila Asrama Maharaja, was a young brahmana boy acting as family guru there in Assam. While following Paramgurudeva's cart one day, the brahmana boy who was perhaps one or two years older than myself, asked Paramgurudeva what his name was and where he had come from. The resulting conversation destroyed his connection with family life. So therefore, conversing with a sadhu is very dangerous! By seeing, hearing and engaging in a dialogue with Shrila Prabhupada, the brahmana boy became very much attracted. His family had placed many restrictions upon him, such as you should not go outside, you should take mantra here, etc., but instead he renounced everything and he came to our Matha. The suddha bhakta is so attractive! Upon first sight, Shrila Asrama Maharaja was attracted. This boy had no prior knowledge of scripture but because the suddha bhakta is gracious to all, being the grace incarnate of the Supreme Lord, he was attracted by only a brief encounter. The grace of the suddha bhakta extends to all living beings, not just to human beings, because they are one with Krishna. They are equal to all and they show affection to everyone and it is this affection that attracts people. Paramgurudeva was ordered by Shrila Gaura Kisora dasa Babaji and Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura to preach the message of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The Pancatattva appeared to him, telling him, "Do not be afraid. We are giving you this order." Within a very short time, he stirred the whole world. So many disciples came-our Gurudeva, Puri Gosvami Maharaja, Bon Maharaja, Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja and Shridhara Maharaja-all stalwart figures! In this way, he expanded himself. So, if you take shelter of the Lotus Feet of Gurudeva, who is the absolute counterpart of Shri Bhagavan, Krishna will accept you through that medium and make your body transcendental.
"Diksa-kale bhakta kare atma-samarpana": Diksa does not merely mean hearing the mantra. It means submitting totally to the lotus feet of a bonafide guru. Krishna gives His grace through the guru, who is grace incarnate. If you want to see the sun, you cannot do so by ignoring the light from the rays of the sun. First the light will come and, through the medium of that light, you will see the sun. The sun is self-effulgent, self-luminous. And in the night, if you want to see the sun, you will not be able to see it. Even if you connect all of the electric lights of the world, you will not be able see the sun at night. You might see the light of those electric lights and mistakenly think that this is the sun, but it is not. You have to wait for the sun to rise. When the sun rises, you have to accept the grace of the sun, you have to take the sun. You should not close your eyes-you have to open them. You have to open the doors and windows. You have to accept. Then, through that medium, you will see the sun. There is no other way. Self-effulgent God is the Cause of all causes. He has no cause, so He is Self-Evident Truth, Self-Luminous. By His grace, you can get Him. That grace-incarnate form is guru. If you are very fortunate, you can come in contact with the sadhu, the bonafide guru. God graces us all through the medium of the devotee. "Diksa-kale bhakta kare atma-samarpana, sei-kale krishna tare kare atma-sama": at the time when we sincerely submit to the bonafide guru, who is the grace incarnate of Supreme Lord Shri Krishna, through that medium, Shri Krishna will take us, He will embrace us, and make our body transcendental-fit for sitting near Him. "Sei deha kare tara cid-ananda-maya, aprakrta-dehe tanra carana bhajaya": that transcendental spiritual form can worship Krishna. With this body, you cannot enter the transcendental realm of Vrndavana. Vrndavana is not a material part of India. It has descended. Gods descends, His realm descends and His associates also descend. Even Shri Chaitanya Gaudiya Matha is not a part of Calcutta or Chandigarh. Shri Chaitanya Gaudiya Matha has descended there. Where can you perform worship of Shri Shri Radha-Krishna? Only in the transcendental realm, in Vrndavana-dhama. Radha-Krishna always remain in Vrndavana-dhama. By the grace of a true devotee, one may receive the service of Radha-Krishna. An ordinary person cannot perform this service. So, Vrndavana is not a part of the world, it is not a part of India, it is not a part of Uttar Pradesh. Vrndavana, the transcendental spiritual realm, has descended there. We must submit to Krishna to understand.
In the 10th Canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam, Lord Brahma, the creator of the material universe, stole the cowherd friends and calves from Shri Krishna, thinking Krishna to be an ordinary boy. Lord Brahma was bewildered by this form of Krishna as a simple cowherd boy, thinking that, if Krishna were Bhagavan, He would exhibit great opulence and majesty. Now the point is this: if Brahma could not understand Krishna, then how can we understand Him? It is very difficult. For this reason, when we take absolute shelter of Gurudeva, the grace incarnate of Shri Krishna, Krishna will grace us and we will become competent to receive a form comprised of saccidananda. In that form, we can remain near Krishna and observe Ekadashi correctly, but this is very difficult. It is not so easy. However, having said this, there is one easy way for the enslaved jivas.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Himself, has taught us what we are to do on Ekadashi. We are familiar with Narada Muni in Krishna-lila. In Chaitanya-lila, Narada appeared as Shrivasa in Mayapura-dhama to fulfill the pastimes of Gauranga Mahaprabhu. In Shrivasangana, the home of Shrivasa Pandita, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to perform sankirtana along with His personal associates, Nityananda Prabhu, Advaitacarya Prabhu, etc., throughout the whole night for an entire year, taking no sleep. If we remain sleepless for even one night, then we will have to go to the hospital for a week!
Now, what does Chaitanya Mahaprabhu teach that we should do on Ekadashi?
harivasare, hari-kirtana vidhana
nrtya arambhila prabhu jagatera prana
(Chaitanya Bhagavata, Madhya-lila 8.138)
Shri Vrndavana dasa Thakura here describes the scene of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu dancing and chanting at the house of Shrivasa Pandita on Ekadashi. The devotional prescripts are that you have to perform kirtana. Kirtana-vidhana. You are to utter the Holy Name. That Name and the Named are identical. You cannot remain in the vicinity of the Deities when the Deities are asleep and the doors are closed. But you can utter the Name any time of day or night. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has said that He has imbued the Holy Name with a special power in this Kali-yuga:
namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-saktis
tatrarpita niyamitah smarane na kalah
etadrsi tava krpa bhagavan mamapi
durdaivam idrsam ihajani nanuragah
(Shri Siksastaka 2)
We are unfortunate that we have no desire to utter the Holy Name. The Name and the Named are the same. So, you have to perform harinama always: "hari-vasara hari-kirtana." To observe the vow of Ekadashi correctly, you have to abide by the rules and regulations for eating, etc. That you should do. But the main thing is that you have to remain near Krishna. You have to utter the Name. Because the Name and the Named are the same, when you utter "Krishna," you will be near Him. Krishna and the Name "Krishna" are identical:
nama cintamanih krishnas
purnah suddho nitya-mukto
(Shri Bhakti-Rasamrta-Sindhu, Purva-vibhagaga 2.233, quoted from Padma Purana)
We are uttering all these evidences, so we should have belief! "Nrtya arambhila prabhu jagatera prana": Chaitanya Mahaprabhu started dancing. Who is Chaitanya Mahaprabhu? He is the life of all the living beings of the world. He is the most beloved. You will find the following verse in the 7th Canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam, wherein Prahlada is speaking to the demon boys:
na hy acyutam prinayato
siddhatvad iha sarvatah
(Shrimad Bhagavatam 7.6.19)
Prahlada Maharaja says, "It is not very difficult to satisfy Krishna, because He is the Most Beloved Object of all the jivas." You will find in this world that the mother is the most beloved of the child. But you will also see that there is some self-interest involved. In this world, without there being something that satisfies one's self-interest, you will not find any love. Nonetheless, we see that there is such a thing as affection between mother and child. Now, let us suppose a child is given a biscuit and, as he is eating it, that biscuit falls onto the ground. That biscuit, wet with the saliva of the child, will become covered with dust and other things on the ground. Then the child might give that biscuit to his mother, saying, "Here, eat this." The mother would not ordinarily eat such a thing, but to satisfy her child, she puts the biscuit to her mouth. So it is not very difficult to please Krishna because He is the Most Beloved. You can chant, "Oh, Hari! Oh, Krishna! Where are You? Please forgive me. Please bless me." If you can utter this from the core of your heart, then He will be pleased. You have nothing to give Him. He does not want anything: He has infinite wealth. You can attract Him only by your devotion. With sincere devotion, you can utter the Name. This is true under all circumstances.
punyavanta shrivasangne shubharambha
(Chaitanya Bhagavata, Madhya-lila 8.139)
Shrivasangana became the most sacred and holy of places by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's powerful sankirtana. The most auspicious commencement had begun. What was that?
uthila kirtana dhvani
(Chaitanya Bhagavata, Madhya-lila 8.139)
hari o' rama rama
hari o' rama rama
(Chaitanya Bhagavata, Madhya-lila 23.92)
The utterance of the Name of Gopala, Govinda-loud shouting of the Name of Govinda-had started. That sweet sound, that transcendental sound, you will not find in this material world. You have notes, tones, etc., in this world. But that transcendental sweet sound of the utterance of the Holy Name-"Gopala! Govinda! Hari Rama! Rama! Hari Rama! Rama!"-will rescue us. You should do harinama. It is very easy. If you do harinama, you will be near Krishna.
You will get more benefit on Ekadashi if you perform your worship at a temple-a place where the devotees are assembled to worship the Supreme Lord. This is also called "dhama." If you perform worship in the transcendental realm-in Mathura-dhama, Vraja-mandala, Navadvipa-dhama or Purusottama-dhama-you will get more benefit. Wherever devotees assemble and sing the glories of the Supreme Lord is also dhama:
mad-bhakta yatra gayanti
tatra tisthami narada
Krishna was telling Narada, "Where do I stay? Wherever my devotees sing the glories of My Name, Form, Attributes, Pastimes and Personal Associates is the place that I stay." So if you observe this practice in the company of bonafide suddha bhaktas-sadhus-it will have special efficacy.
The effect of observing Ekadashi is illustrated in the story of the life of Ambarisa Maharaja. Ambarisa Maharaja observed Ekadashi tithi with great devotion in Mathura-dhama, Vraja-mandala, for one year at a stretch. Krishna was so satisfied by this, that the curse of Durvasa Rsi could not touch Ambarisa Maharaja. In the 9th Canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam you will find that Sukadeva Gosvami spoke the following to Pariksit Maharaja:
nasprsad brahma-sapo `pi
yam na pratihatah kvacit
(Shrimad Bhagavatam, 9.4.13)
The curse of a brahmana cannot go unfulfilled or be warded off. But nonetheless, it could not touch Ambarisa Maharaja. Pariksit Maharaja was astounded to hear this. "I was born in the Pandava family. The Pandavas are very dear to Krishna. When I was in the womb of my mother Uttara, Asvatthama threw a brahmastra, a missile, with the aim of destroying all the Pandavas. At that time, when my mother was crying, Supreme Lord Shri Krishna protected me with His Sudarsana-cakra by covering my mother's womb. So my name is Vishnurata, as I have been protected and saved by Vishnu. I was also able to see my Object of Worship, Shri Krishna, from within the womb. After my birth, I searched for that object, `Where is that Purusa? Where is that Object of Worship?' I was examining. The Sanskrit word `pariksa' means, `examining.' So, my name is Pariksit." He continued, "I was born in the Pandava family, I was protected by Krishna. I also saw Krishna when I was in the womb and after birth I tried to find that Purusa Whom I had seen. Yet I am waiting here, knowing that after seven days I shall be killed by snakebite, having been cursed by the son of Samika Muni."
The history of this curse began when, one day, Pariksit Maharaja had gone to the cottage of Samika Muni to ask for water, as he was very thirsty. At that time, Samika Muni was meditating and was unconscious of Pariksit Maharaja's presence. When he received no response, Pariksit Maharaja became enraged, "I am in your cottage. You are not offering water to a thirsty person?" So, with indignation and wrath, he placed a dead snake around the neck of the muni as an insult. After Pariksit Maharaja left the cottage and returned home, he repented, "Pandavas always respect brahmanas, munis. I have been born in the Pandava family. I have done a very wrong thing." In this way, he deeply repented his behavior, and prayed to Supreme Lord Shri Krishna, "Oh, Shri Krishna, please punish me, as I have done a very wrong thing."
Outside the cottage of Samika Muni, his son, Srngi, had been playing with the sons of the other rsis. When Srngi came to the cottage, he saw that someone had put the body of a dead snake around the neck of his father. He was disheartened and became furious. "Who has done this sinful thing? If I am the son of my father, a brahmana, then I curse that on the seventh day from today, the person who has done this will be killed by snakebite!" Then he began to weep.
Samika Muni opened his eyes. "What is the matter?" he asked. "Why are you weeping?"
Srngi said, "Somebody has insulted you with this dead snake." He told his father about the curse he had placed on whoever had done this.
Samika Muni said, "Oh! You have done the wrong thing. Pariksit Maharaja is a religious minded person, born in the Pandava family. He has the right to chastise me. You are a brahmana, but you became impatient and have improperly delivered this curse."
Samika Muni sent a rsi boy to the capital city of Pariksit Maharaja to inform him of the curse, so that he could prepare himself for its effect. The boy reached the court of Pariksit Maharaja and told him that the son of Samika Muni had cursed him to die by snakebite after seven days.
Then Pariksit Maharaja became happy. "Yes," he thought. "Krishna has love for me, so He has sent this curse giving me seven days time until I shall die. Nobody can know in advance that he will die at a specific moment. But I have been granted the time to prepare for seven days."
So, he made up his mind to renounce his household life. He called his son, Janamejaya, and told him, "You take over my position as king. I am going to Sukartala by the side of the Ganges. I have no time to waste. I must prepare myself. You remain here."
At times of peril and danger, our minds become changed. I had one such experience when I was a college student. I was sent by our revered father to Victoria College in Coochbihar, where I received my Bachelor of Arts degree. There was a very big hostel there. Once, a famous astrologer came there and predicted that at such-and-such time, on such-and-such date, there will be universal dissolution. Everything will be annihilated-destroyed. All the residents of the hostel gathered together-I was among them-and they were saying that the prediction of this astrologer would come true, since he had never been wrong before. So, there we were, considering what we should do. We thought, "We shall die in the evening. Everything will be destroyed." There was a restaurant within the compound of the hostel. We all decided, "Let us eat! Let us go to the restaurant and eat as much as we can enjoy. Our parents have given us money, so let us utilize it. They will be very happy that we have the brains to reason that we shall all die, so what is the use of keeping this money? Let us go." I also went with them to the restaurant. Everyone was ordering various kinds of sweets from the waiter. We were eating and eating and eating and, after some time, we could not eat any more. We spent all our money, so we thought we were very intelligent. "Our parents will think that we have done well," we thought.
After that, we went to our room and discussed things until the time for the end of the world was to come. The time came and passed, and there was no dissolution, no end of the world, nothing. "Oh-ho! We have been deceived! What will we say to our parents?" We discussed this among ourselves.
During all this, one of our friends had been asleep in the room. All of a sudden, he woke up. He started shouting, "Universal dissolution!! Universal dissolution!!" He was crying and running about. He fell down, shouting. The people who saw him asked, "Where is the universal dissolution? What is he saying? He must have had a bad dream."
During all this, no one had suggested, "Let us worship Shri Krishna." I also had not said anything. I had gone along with them because there were so many of them. What could I say? They took me along. Like that, when there are no eternal good deeds, no eternal good impressions, no "sukrti" (as it is called in scripture), nobody has the aptitude to worship Krishna. Even if we are told, "In the evening, everything will be destroyed! You should prepare and worship Krishna," we still will not worship Him. We will go off with the students, to enjoy.
Pariksit Maharaja is a Vaishnava. He made the decision to renounce his household life and, consequently, went to Shrikanta. I have been to that place with Guru Maharaja several times. It is in Uttar Pradesh, about 20 kilometers from Muzaffarnagar. It is still considered to be a sacred place. When Pariksit Maharaja went there, all the rsi munis also went there, thinking that something miraculous was about to happen, because Pariksit Maharaja is no ordinary person. Then Pariksit Maharaja asked them, "I have only one week's time. Please advise me what I should do." There were many rsis-karmi-rsis, jnani-rsis, and yogi-rsis-all offering different methods of obtaining emancipation.
Some of the more ordinary karmi-rsis said, "You have money. If you donate money, then you will be rescued.
Others among the karmi-rsis said, "No, there isn't much time. You have to perform oblations," and they gave him a list of articles that he should obtain so they could make sacrifices.
A third group, made up of jnani-rsis said, "No, no! By performing these karma-kanda sacrifices, you cannot be rescued. You have to perform meditation!"
The yogi-rsis insisted that he should perform pranayama.
Pariksit Maharaja was puzzled. "What should I do?" he thought. Then he took absolute shelter of the Lotus Feet of Supreme Lord Shri Krishna. "Please rescue me! I have a family connection with the Pandavas. Please show me the path!"
Then Krishna sent His own man, Sukadeva Gosvami. You cannot automatically get the company of the bonafide sadhu. There must be some good qualities, some previous good impressions (sukrti). Otherwise, you cannot get it. At that time, Sukadeva Gosvami was only sixteen years of age. He was maha-tyagi, completely renounced, and he wandered through the villages naked. All the villagers thought he was a mad person. They would throw stones and other things at him. Sukadeva Gosvami would not object to this, because he was beyond this world. The villagers could not understand Sukadeva Gosvami. But when he set his holy footprints in Sukartala by the side of the Ganges, all the rsi-munis stood up upon seeing him, out of respect. A learned person can give respect to a learned person. An ignorant person has no capacity to understand a learned person. A sadhu can understand a sadhu. A non-sadhu cannot understand a sadhu. All the rsi-munis assembled there understood that he was not an ordinary man.
When Sukadeva Gosvami arrived there, he spoke to Pariksit Maharaja. "I am Sukadeva. Before coming here, I was firmly established in brahmananda but I have been attracted by the absolute, sweet qualities of Shri Krishna:
parinisthito 'pi nairgunya
akhyanam yad adhitavan
(Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.1.9)
So, I am advising you to hear about the Supreme Lord, Shri Krishna for these seven days. You should not do anything else."
No rsi-muni had the capacity to say anything against this advice. They all sat there while Sukadeva Gosvami sang and narrated the glories of Supreme Lord Shri Krishna. Pariksit Maharaja attentively listened for seven days without taking anything-without taking water, without taking food and without taking rest. Can we do this?
Sukadeva Gosvami was worried. "Maharaja," he said, "Won't you take some rest? Perhaps a little bit of water or some food?"
Pariksit Maharaja answered him, "You should not concern yourself with this. I have no time!"
naisatiduhsaha ksun mam
tyaktodam api badhate
(Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.1.13)
I am thirsty. I know that without water, nobody can survive. I am also hungry. But this hunger and thirst cannot become an obstacle to my hearing, because I have no time. After seven days I shall die. So, do not think about me. I have no feeling for these things. My mind is here:
(Shrimad Bhagavatam 10.1.13 continued)
"You are distributing hari-kathamrtam and I so am satisfied. I have no thirst, no hunger. I do not require any rest."
Continuously, he heard for seven days and he attained the objective.
Nowadays if you assemble ten, twelve or perhaps one hundred persons under such conditions, everyone will be fidgeting with discomfort. But Pariksit Maharaja maintained pin-drop silence.
So, Pariksit Maharaja asked, "Even though I was born in the Pandava family and Krishna has protected me, I am waiting here because after seven days I shall be killed. So, what then of Ambarisa Maharaja and the curse of a brahmana like Durvasa? Even if anyone hears about Durvasa, they tremble because Durvasa can remain without food for one thousand years. But, he can also eat one thousand years' worth of food in one day. So everyone shivers when they hear that he may be coming. `He may bless us, or he may curse us!' they think. He is such a powerful rsi, but his curse could not even touch Ambarisa Maharaja? That is very astounding!" he exclaimed.
But, because Ambarisa Maharaja had observed Ekadashi, as per the devotional, scriptural injunctions, for one year, Krishna was satisfied and the curse of Durvasa Rsi could not harm him.
Then, Pariksit Maharaja wanted to hear the holy biography of Ambarisa Maharaja. Sukadeva Gosvami said:
avyayam ca shriyam labdhva
vibhavam catulam bhuvi
mene `tidurlabham pumsam
sarvam tat svapna-samstutam
tamo visati yat puman
(Shrimad Bhagavatam 9.4.15-16)
Ambarisa Maharaja was the sole proprietor of the whole world, consisting of seven islands (sapta-dvipavatim), meaning seven continents. This story in Shrimad Bhagavatam is scriptural evidence that at one time there was one blessed and most fortunate Vaishnava emperor, Ambarisa Maharaja, who became the autocrat of the whole world. If we meet someone who is wealthy, we say that he is fortunate. We say that Henry Ford was fortunate because he was one of the richest men in the world. So, in that sense, we say that Ambarisa Maharaja was fortunate, because he was the sole proprietor of the whole world. He was the richest person in the whole world. For one who is the owner of the whole world, his wealth would be undecaying and of unparalleled opulence. There could not be any person equal to him. But, nonetheless, despite possessing this inexhaustible supply of wealth, all this opulence, Ambarisa Maharaja had the knowledge that this opulence would not last long. It is like seeing a dream. In a dream, you may see that you have become the Prime Minister of England or the President of the United States. But when you wake up, you find yourself in your own bedroom, just lying in bed. It is all false. Like that, Ambarisa Maharaja had the knowledge that whatever he had was all non-eternal. It would not last. An ordinary human being cannot even imagine becoming the sole owner of the whole world. If he were to become Henry Ford, or Tata or Birla in India, that would be sufficient. He would not want more. He cannot even think beyond that. But, in spite of Ambarisa getting this huge property, he understood that it had no actual substance-it was all a dream. He had the knowledge that although he presently had wealth, he could be separated from it at any time during his life. There are many very rich people, even in India. We have seen one particular person who was very wealthy. But after some years, he became a pauper, a street beggar. In this lifetime, he lost everything. Ambarisa Maharaja understood that, "Although I have this wealth, I may become separated from it. Or I may leave this world and all this will remain here. Nothing will go with me. As long as I am here, I might have it. But when I die, I will not be able to take even a farthing of it." He had the knowledge that separation from this world is inevitable. He knew that anyone who thinks, "I am the owner, I am the enjoyer," will meet an infernal end.
The Supreme Lord is the only Master and Owner. We are not masters or owners. Being enveloped by the illusory energy, we think that we are masters and enjoyers. For this reason, we are being punished. We have come to this prison-house, to this world, passing through cycles of births and deaths, with the three-fold afflictions of material life. We have received this punishment because we are not the owner, but we pose as the owner. You have gone through the lectures of Most Revered Param Pujyapada A. C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja. He said that there is a simple formula for getting peace: the Supreme Lord is the only Proprietor and Master. We claim to be masters. For instance, this Matha started only a few years ago. Before that time, this property belonged to somebody else who was thinking, "This is mine." Now you are saying, "It is ours." And after some time, one hundred years, one thousand years, someone will also claim it as their own. So, who is the proprietor? Who is the master? The Master is the Supreme Lord. We falsely claim to be masters. Will we accept the Supreme Lord as the only Owner and Master? We are not even the owners of our own bodies. This body also belongs to the Supreme Lord. The susma (subtle body) also belongs to the Supreme Lord as it has come from the external potency of the Supreme Lord. Atma has come from the para potency of the Supreme Lord. The potency of Krishna and the products of that potency all belong to Krishna-the gross body, the subtle body and the real self. Everything belongs to Krishna. I have no right to use it for myself. It should be dedicated to the service of Krishna. I am guilty of unrighteousness by using that which does not belong to me. Krishna is the only Master and Enjoyer. You are not the owner of your house. You are not the owner of your wife and children. You must believe this on a practical level, not theoretical. If you actually believe it, you will immediately find peace. When you demand, "This is my house, these are my people," then you will fight with others. But if you say, "Krishna, everything belongs to You, I have nothing," then where is the quarrel? This is the simple formula for obtaining peace.
"Tamo visati yat puman:" If you have this sort of evil thinking, that the objects of the world are for my enjoyment, then you will fall into hell. An ascetic such as myself does not earn money. Let us imagine that I collect some money from the devotees, build a Matha with it and then demand that, "This is mine!" People will say, "What is this? This is very strange! By our money you have built a temple and you are demanding that you are the proprietor? What is this? You should be ashamed!" But actually, we do have this sort of mentality and we fall into hell.
But Ambarisa Maharaja had the knowledge that everything belongs to the Supreme Lord and nothing belongs to us. He had no attachment to anything. Why? We would not even be able to give up our attachment to a cottage, or a small shop, or even 10,000. This is because we have no taste of the sweetness of the Supreme Lord. Sukadeva Gosvami told Pariksit Maharaja that Ambarisa Maharaja had no attachment because he had tasted the sweetness of Vasudeva:
tad-bhaktesu ca sadhusu
prapto bhavam param visvam
yenedam lostravat smrtam
(Shrimad Bhagavatam 9.4.17)
Ambarisa Maharaja had superior ananda (bliss).
Go through the explanation given by Shrila Bhaktivinode Thakura on the following Bhagavad-gita verse:
rasa-varjam raso `py asya
param drstva nivartate
He says that observing a complete fast does not mean that we have given up our inclination to take food. For instance, when we first entered our Matha, we were advised by the Maharajas there that if we wanted to take food on Ekadashi, we should take very little, maybe a few pieces of fruit and some potato. But if we only took this, our stomach was always burning. So we had given things up, but what was the use of having given them up? So, now we take fruits, potato, but also curries, etc., so we do not feel that burning sensation. On Ekadashi the brahmacaris are very hungry, so they prepare what they will eat the next morning. Also, in our Mathas, there are "matha raksasas" who look after the functions of the Matha. If you ask them, they will tell you that no one takes rice or wheat, etc. on Ekadashi, but on the days before and after Ekadashi, the brahmacaris are eating double! So, the inclination for taking food is not stopped by observing a fast. For that reason, visaya vinivartante niraharasya dehinah: withdrawing the senses from the objects of the senses, in the manner of a jnani or a yogi, is not safe.
Saubhari Rsi was a great saint in the jnani school of thought. He performed penance for 10,000 years under the water. We cannot remain under water for even five minutes. But, on seeing the sexual activity of the fishes there, he developed a desire to marry. He came out of the water and married fifty daughters of Mandhata. Being a jnani, he fell down from his severe penance and instead became the head of a great family. Visvamitra was a great yogi. When he came in contact with Menaka, the apsara (heavenly prostitute), he also had a spiritual fall. This was because they had no taste of the sweetness of the Supreme Lord. They are performing penance, but they will fall. We all have material senses. We are attempting to enjoy the objects of those material senses and we have become entangled. If you merely stop that activity, it will not be sufficient. The cause of the material sense organs is the spiritual sense organs, and the object of the spiritual senses is Madana-Mohana-Govinda. You have an attraction for the worldly sabda, sparsa, rupa-sound, touch, form, etc. But there is also transcendental, sweet sound, transcendental touch-everything-and we can taste it by means of transcendental, spiritual senses. If your existence and ego are in this material world, then your perception will be material. But if, by the Lord's grace, you can enter into the transcendental realm, then, by means of transcendental sense organs, you will experience sweet love, transcendental touch, etc.
Ambarisa Maharaja had gotten a taste of the sweetness of Vasudeva and the sweetness of His devotees and, as a result, he had no attachment to worldly things. If you have no taste of the superior rasa, you cannot give up material attachments. For instance, there is one kind of treacle, which is mixed with some kind of inferior quality molasses. It is not good. It is very nasty. But a person who does not have good molasses or sugar might use it, and might find that some sort of sweetness is there. He has been taught that you should not take this because it will make you ill. After many warnings, he says, "All right, I shall not take it." But, he continues to take it secretly, because he has no taste for anything better. When he is given good molasses, then he will no longer wish to take the inferior kind. Like that, when we have the taste of the sweetness of the Supreme Lord, we will become totally detached from this world. Ambarisa Maharaja was indifferent to worldly things because he was getting the taste of the sweetness of Vasudeva and His personal associates. He thought that this worldly property was like a lump of dirt, having no value. He thought like that, but we are unable to think this way because we have no superior taste. We may speak, but we have no feeling.
Being a king, how had Ambarisa Maharaja acquired such love for Krishna and His devotees? Many householders who come to our Matha say, "Svamiji, we come to the Matha to participate in the holy functions and to hear the sadhus. But we have so many worries, great difficulties and so many duties to perform. For that reason, we have no time to come often."
Then I ask, "Do you have time to eat food?"
"Yes," they reply, "we have to eat or we will become weak."
"So you take breakfast?"
"Yes, I have time to take breakfast. Sometimes I take my meals to work. If I feel weak, then I cannot do my work. It is necessary."
Your atma is now sleeping. Atma's food is atma. Because atma is asleep, you feel no hunger for atma-atma's food. You are only conscious of the body. You think that you can afford to give time to tend to the necessities of the body. You might be very engaged in something else, but you will always take off some time to take food. How many times a day do you eat? First breakfast, then lunch, then dinner and after that maybe supper-sometimes four times a day! Like that, you are taking so much time. Necessity is the mother of invention. When you think that this is your necessity, then you give time. Your atma is now in a dormant state. It is sleeping. You have no hunger. Atma requires atma for its sustenance and maintenance. Without the touch of atma, atma cannot have satisfaction. But, "We are very busy! We are very busy! We are very busy! We've got no time!"
Our Guru Maharaja used to give the instance of General Goering, the right hand man of the dictator, Adolf Hitler, who created chaos throughout the whole world-a tyrant. Once General Goering gave a statement about how he recruited candidates for the Nazi forces.
"When candidates come to apply to be admitted into the force," he said, "I divide them into four categories: clever and industrious, clever and lazy, stupid and industrious and stupid and lazy. Generally, for my force, I choose the clever and industrious, but I make the chief of the department clever and lazy."
Then he was asked, "Why? The commander then has one quality less than the others. Why have you given the highest position of Commander-in-Chief to one who is clever and lazy?"
Goering replied, "It is not in our best interest to be always engaged in war. If we give the position of commander to those who are both clever and industrious, they are incapable of remaining idle. They will always want to do something and will start fighting. For this reason, the commander must be clever and know the interests of the country, but only in extreme circumstances will he fight, not so easily. So I choose someone who is clever and lazy for the position of commander."
He continued, "Those who are stupid and lazy, I accept in small numbers. These types will do little harm. I can manage them. But if they are stupid and industrious, they will do just the opposite of what they should and I always have to make good of it after the fact. Because of this, I have to expend so much energy. So, I am one thousand per cent against the stupid and industrious.
So, to which group do we belong? Stupid and industrious: "We are very busy, very busy! We've got no time to go and associate with the sadhus." When you've got hunger, you shall go automatically. But, now you have no hunger.
Ambarisa Maharaja had engaged all his sense organs and everything he owned for the service of Krishna:
sa vai manah krishna-padarvindayor
karau harer mandira-marjanadisu
tad-bhrtya gatra-sparse 'nga-sangamam
ghranam ca tad-pada-saroja-saurabhe
shrimat-tulasya rasanam tad-arpite
padau hareh ksetra-padanusarpane
kamam ca dasye na tu kama-kamyaya
(Shrimad Bhagavatam 9.4.18-20)
Sukadeva Gosvami was speaking to Maharaja Pariksit: "sa vai manah krishna-padarvindayor." Ambarisa Maharaja engaged his mind in thinking about the Lotus Feet of Supreme Lord Shri Krishna. The mind is the king of all the sense organs. If the mind is concentrated on the Object of Worship, then the other senses, being subservient to it, cannot do anything except service to the Supreme Lord. So first of all, he engaged his mind in thinking about the Lotus Feet of the Supreme Lord.
"Vacamsi vaikuntha-gunanuvarnane:" he engaged his words, his tongue, in singing the glories of Vishnu and the Vaishnavas. "Vaikuntha" means Vishnu. Vishnu is transcendental: purna. "Vishnu ya idam visvam vyapnoti iti visnu." He is Complete Reality and the Vaishnavas are His pure devotees, His personal associates. You will find in the scriptures that there can be no devotion if one vilifies the sadhus or other persons. You have to sing their glories. This is the positive side of devotional activity. If you go on speaking ill of others, your mind will become polluted. Your mind will only find the bad qualities of those persons. So what benefit will you gain? You should govern yourself, discipline yourself, restrain yourself. You should rectify yourself. You have many defects within you. When you observe the qualities of others, you see that human beings have both defects and merits mixed together. But the sadhu only sees the good qualities and he ignores the bad qualities. We enslaved jivas discard the good qualities and see the bad qualities. So we are not sadhus. Sadhu is paramahamsa. "Hamsa" means "swan". What is the special quality of the swan? If milk is mixed with water, that swan can extract the milk from the water. He has that capacity. So, the Vaishnava is paramahamsa: they take the essence of things, the good things, and they give up the bad things. So, you must sing the glories of Supreme Lord Shri Krishna and you must sing the glories of the devotees. Why are you taking the risk of speaking ill of anybody? It is very risky. By speaking ill of others, ultimately you are speaking ill of the Vaishnavas, you are speaking ill of the Gurus, and you will be completely separated from the spiritual realm and devotional development.
"Karau harer mandira-marjanadisu": he engaged his two hands in scrubbing the temple with water, etc. Some would say, "He is a king and he has not engaged any servant or priest to perform worship? Instead he himself is doing this. Is he a miser?" No, he is not a miser. He is serving all the Vaishnavas. He knows, "This is my necessity, to serve Krishna. If I serve Krishna, I shall develop love for Krishna." Wherever I shall engage my sense organs and object of the senses, I shall go to that. If I engage my sense organs in the temporary things of the world, I shall develop an attachment for those things. I shall be in bondage. Knowing this fully, Ambarisa was the sole owner of the whole world and he engaged everything he had for the service of Krishna-everything. If we are not worshipping in this way, how can we claim to have love for Krishna? He had engaged everything.
"Srutim cakaracyuta-sat-kathodaye:" Ambarisa engaged his ears in hearing the glories of the Supreme Lord. What is the meaning of "sat-katha?" We will frequently engage the ears to hear professional platform speakers. There are many platform speakers like myself. From the platform he is speaking nice high, lofty words, but his life is no practical application of it. It is all idle chatter-always speaking, speaking without any practical application. We cannot teach others belief in God and worship of God if we do not worship God ourselves. Example is better than precept. There should be personal example. You should practice. You will find that if one actually practices, but does not speak anything at all, that will have actual influence upon others.
Ambarisa Maharaja hears only the words of the bonafide sadhus. His life is dedicated to the service of hearing sat-katha: actual hari-katha:
yaha, bhagavata pada vaisnavera sthane
(Chaitanya Charitamrita, Antya-lila, 5,131)
You have to hear Bhagavata from a true Vaishnava. Then you can get devotion.
Time is passing. So much time is passing. At any moment, we may leave this place. What will go with us? We are acquiring money, perhaps millions of dollars, and then we die. What will go with us? Everything will remain here. Nothing will go with us except devotion to Shri Krishna. That is our only wealth. How many of us are thinking about this?
Our Chidghanananda brahmacari once told me when I was in Chandigarh that one famous speaker on Shrimad Bhagavatam had come to Chandigarh and had been delivering lectures on Krishna. One lady devotee had asked Chidghanananda, "You are not going? You are a devotee. Many thousands of people have gathered there to hear this person. You should go there. You will be benefited."
Chidghanananda replied, "I have many duties that I have been assigned by the Gosvamis and other senior Vaishnavas. If I find time, I shall go."
Then the next day, the lady returned and approached him again. "Did you go yesterday?" she asked.
"No, no," he replied. "I've had no time. What can be done? I am at the service of my superior Vaishnavas."
The third day, she asked again, "Have you gone to see the speaker?"
"No," Chidghanananda again replied. Then he asked her, "Why are you saying that he is a great saint and that I should go to hear him? What special quality does he have that makes you say this?"
She replied, "To hear his sermon, you have to pay 10,000 rupees!"
"Oh," Chidghanananda replied, "Then, I shall not go there! If you pay 10,000 rupees, then his sayings are very valuable. But they are valuable only in reference to 10,000 rupees. I have no time for that."
The Gaudiya Matha standard is different. They are not like ordinary people. They can understand this point.
"Mukunda-lingalaya-darsane drsau": Ambarisa Maharaja engaged his eyes to see mukunda-lingalaya, the temple where Mukunda (Krishna) is worshipped, and also to have the vision, the darsana, of Mukunda. The temple includes the Deities inside the temple. Pure devotees are also temples, because Bhagavan resides within the heart of the pure devotees. So, he engaged his eyes to see the temple, the Deities and the devotees, who are also temples. As time is short and I have to leave this place tomorrow, I have no time to speak about Deities. If I were to stay here for several more days, we could discuss this fully. But you should know that you are not idolaters. You are worshippers of the Deity. It is quite different-vigraha:
nama vigraha svarupa-tina eka-rupa
tine `bheda' nahi-tine `cid-ananda-rupa'
(Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya-lila, 17.131)
Deities are All-Existence, All-Knowledge and All-Bliss. We should believe this.
"Tad-bhrtya gatra-sparse 'nga-sangamam": Ambarisa Maharaja used his sense of touch to have the touch of the lotus feet of the Vaishnavas, so he could acquire devotion. "Ghranam ca tad-pada-saroja-saurabhe": He engaged his nose in smelling the scent of Tulasi and the flowers that had been offered to the Lotus Feet of Krishna. By these methods, he received only divine sense impressions, even through the sense of smell. He had engaged everything for the service of Krishna. "Shrimat-tulasya rasanam tad-arpite": Did he take whatever foodstuffs he found to be good? No. Whatever cannot be offered to the Supreme Lord, he would not take. Fish, flesh, eggs, onions, garlic, red lentils, etc. are prohibited in the scriptures. They cannot be offered to Vishnu. Ambarisa Maharaja would offer only those foods that can be offered to Vishnu and, then, take the remnants-prasadam. "He is a very good person. He eats whatever is given to him." No, this is not correct thinking:
citta-suddhau dhruva smrtir
smrti-lambhe sarvagranthinam vipramoksah
(Chandogya Upanisad 7.26.2)
If your heart is not pure, then your mind will be impure. You will not be able to meditate. Ahara-suddhi. If you eat foods that are in tamo-guna, then tamo-guna will increase. If you eat foods in rajo-guna, then rajo-guna will increase and foods in sattva-guna will increase sattva-guna. But if you take prasadam, it is nirguna (devoid of material qualities) and devotion will increase. We take prasadam. We do not even take sattva-guna foodstuffs. We are not "vegetarians." We take only prasadam, that which can be offered to Shri Krishna. Anything else, we will not take.
"Padau hareh ksetra-padanusarpane": He engaged his two legs in going to the holy places of pilgrimage, which are in the transcendental realm of the Supreme Lord. Then he would engage his two legs in the service of circumambulating the temple and going to fetch the various articles of worship.
"Siro hrsikesa-padabhivandane": All the sense organs are in the head of the body. By praying to the Supreme Lord with your head, one engages all the sense organs at once. Hrsikesa is the Lord of all the senses. You have to worship Him by bowing down your head to His Lotus Feet.
"Kamam ca dasye na tu kama-kamyaya": he had even engaged desire itself for the service of Shri Krishna. If there is desire to serve Krishna and to serve the devotees, they will rescue us. If there is a desire to enjoy this world, then that desire will take us to worldly things and we will become entangled. We will go to hell. For that reason, he had engaged all that he had for the service of Krishna, and he was filled with krishna-prema. All other activities had been stopped, so that maya would not be able to enter. All his sense organs were engaged for the service of Krishna. If you are to get Krishna, you have to do this.
Now, this is the main subject. One day, Durvasa Rsi set his holy footprints at the house of Ambarisa Maharaja in Madhuvana (a part of Vrndavana). At that time Ambarisa Maharaja observed Ekadashi in the following way: on Dasami (the tenth day of the lunar month), he would take only one meal, on Ekadashi (the eleventh day of the lunar month), he would abstain from all food and on Dvadasi (the twelfth day of the lunar month), he would take only one meal. In those days, people had the capacity to abstain from food completely on Ekadashi. There is a fixed time to take parana (breaking of the Ekadashi fast). At that time, you must take something that you have abstained from on Ekadashi. In this way, your vow will be observed correctly. Then this is hari-vrata, because you are doing it for the satisfaction of Hari. On Dvadasi, Ambarisa Maharaja served all the brahmanas, all the sadhus and all his others guests with gifts and prasadam. After serving them, he went to take parana.
At that moment, Durvasa Rsi unexpectedly arrived and said, "Ambarisa Maharaja, I am Durvasa."
Ambarisa Maharaja replied, "I am most fortunate that such a great brahmana sannyasi has come to my house. Today is Dvadasi. I pray that you will take food here."
"Yes," Durvasa Rsi replied, "I shall take food. But first, I will go to the Yamuna to bathe. After I take my bath, I shall come here to eat."
Durvasa Rsi went to bathe. Upon seeing the pure water of the Yamuna, he became completely and ecstatically absorbed in thoughts of Brahman. He completely forgot to come back to Ambarisa Maharaja's house to eat. Ambarisa Maharaja began to think, "There is not much time left for parana. If I do not break my fast, I shall commit an offense to Hari. But if I eat before Durvasa, I shall commit an offense to the lotus feet of the brahmana sannyasi whom I have invited here to take food. This is a great dilemma." So, he sought advice from the brahmanas who were present there. "What shall I do?" he asked. "You can take water," they advised. "By taking water, you will not be violating the honor of a guest, and you will also complete your fast and perform parana." So, at the advice of the brahmanas, he took a drop of water.
But Durvasa Rsi could understand by his mystic power that Ambarisa Maharaja had taken water. He thought, "Ambarisa Maharaja is the emperor of the whole world. So, he has some vanity. I did not go to his house with the intention of taking food-he invited me. I am a brahmana, a sannyasi. If one who is a brahmana and a sannyasi is invited by a householder to eat and that householder takes food earlier than he, then the whole of society will be destroyed! Ambarisa Maharaja is the emperor and also a religious-minded person and he has done this. His guests will quote this instance and others will follow his example. No, I cannot allow this. I shall give an exemplary punishment so that no man of this world will again commit this heinous offense. It is a very great sin."
Then Durvasa Rsi became enraged and said to Ambarisa Maharaja, "So, you have become proud that you are the emperor of the world? I have come to you to take food. You personally invited me. You know that I am a brahmana and a sannyasi. Even if an ordinary guest comes to you, you must give food to him. So, without your guest having been fed, you have taken food yourself? This is wrong behavior. I shall punish you!"
Durvasa Rsi plucked a hair from his head and threw it down. A goddess appeared from it, wielding a weapon to kill Ambarisa Maharaja. She ran toward the king, but he did not flee. He said, "I am a householder, I am a ksatriya. In all respects, I am inferior to you and you have the right to punish me. Whatever you choose to do, I accept."
But, by the standing order of Narayana, the Sudarsana-cakra appeared. Ambarisa Maharaja was the king. He was the emperor and the sole proprietor of the whole world, but he had no attachment to it. Outside people cannot understand this. So, Narayana said, "Oh, Sudarsana-cakra, whenever Ambarisa is in difficulty, immediately go out and rescue him!" Sudarsana-cakra came and burnt the goddess to ashes. Then it began to chase Durvasa Rsi. Durvasa began to flee from the burning sensation of the cakra. Durvasa Rsi was fleeing from one direction to another. No matter which direction he fled to, the Sudarsana-cakra followed. Durvasa even entered the ocean, but the cakra came there also and immediately gave him burning pain. He felt as if he were dying from the miseries of this burning sensation of the Sudarsana-cakra. He sought refuge in a cave of Sumeru Mountain, but the cakra followed him into there as well.
Eventually, he went to Satya-loka to take shelter of Lord Brahma. But Brahma said, "This Sudarsana-cakra is unbearable. It is the punishment of Narayana. We think we are the creators, but we are not. Only as per the direction of Narayana have we been given the capacity to create this universe. We are under Him. We are not His superiors. We cannot stop Sudarsana-cakra. Sudarsana-cakra is as unbearable to us as it is to you."
Durvasa Rsi then went to take shelter of Mahadeva (Siva). Durvasa had been born from the power of Mahadeva, so actually he was the expansion of Rudra (Siva). Rudra said to him, "You see, you think that I am the destroyer. But everything is controlled by Narayana. By His direction, Brahma is creating and by His direction I am destroying. I have no independent power. This Sudarsana-cakra is the punishment of Narayana. It is not possible for me to oppose it. It is unbearable for me also. But you have come to me, so I am blessing you. Go to Narayana in Vaikuntha. He can rescue you."
Durvasa had no desire to go to Narayana, but he was forced to go to ask Him to save him from this intolerable burning sensation. He went to Vaikuntha and fell flat on the ground, praying, "I have committed an offense, but please be kind to me. This Sudarsana-cakra is giving me so much pain! You are Acyuta! What is the meaning of Acyuta? Nobody can be detached from You! O Acyuta! If I am detached from You, then there is no significance to Your Name `Acyuta'. Since Your Name is `Acyuta,' You cannot be Acyuta without me. You are Acyuta, so please be kind to me."
Narayana did not say anything.
Durvasa Rsi continued, "You are Ananta (unending)! Your every quality is Ananta! I am in so much pain, so much suffering. I have committed an offense. I admit this. But You are Ananta and Your compassion is also Ananta. If You cannot grace me, it will bring ill repute to Your Name, Ananta. So, please rescue me from this burning sensation."
Narayana still did not utter a word.
"You are Visvanatha! You are Jagannatha!" Durvasa Rsi prayed. "Why is Your Name Jagannatha? You are the Master of all the living beings of the world. I admit that I have committed an offense. But You are Jagannatha and I am an insignificant living being of this world. You are my Natha (Lord) and I have come to You so that You may rescue me."
"Will You not be kind to me? The sadhus who worship You are always compassionate to the jivas of this world. They always try to remove the afflictions of the suffering jivas. They have achieved this quality by worshipping You. You have the quality of supreme compassion for the fallen souls. You are the acme of compassion. Simply by worshipping You, the sadhus become gracious, so will You not be gracious to me?"
Then Narayana asked, "You have already gone to Brahma and Mahadeva. Have they not offered you protection?"
"No," Durvasa Rsi replied, "They said they are unable to protect me. They said they could not do anything, as they are subjugated by You. They are dependent upon You."
Narayana then replied, "I am also dependent. I am also a servant."
"You are a servant?" Durvasa asked in disbelief. "How can this be?"
Then Narayana said:
hy asvatantra iva dvija
(Shrimad Bhagavatam, 9.4.63)
"I have made a promise. Whoever serves Me, in return I shall serve him in the same way. When the pure devotees serve Me, I want to give them something. I say, `Take this,' but they never want anything from Me. I tell them, `Take ownership of this brahmanda-ownership of this world, of the heavens and the netherworld.' I offer them the eighteen kinds of attainment, including emancipation. But they do not want anything except to perform service to Me. So, I have become dependent and subjugated, as I am subdued by the devotion of My devotees. I cannot do anything. `Sadhubhir grasta-hrdayo bhaktair bhakta-jana-priyah.' With one's heart, one can be compassionate. But My heart has been swallowed and devoured by My devotees. `Grasta': they have taken it. Thus, My heart is not here. It has gone to My devotees. Therefore, if you are to receive My grace, you have to go to Ambarisa Maharaja. You thought Ambarisa Maharaja to be a householder, a ksatriya-an ordinary person:
naham atmanam asase
mad-bhaktaih sadhubhir vina
shriyam catyantikim brahman
yesam gatir aham para
(Shrimad Bhagavatam, 9.4.64)
Without the sadhus who have love for Me, I do not want even My own Self. Nor do I want Laksmi Devi and all this wealth. I want only those who take absolute shelter of Me and nothing else. You think, then, that Ambarisa is a householder? You think that he is engrossed in worldly things and that he has vanity? You see,
pranan vittam imam param
hitva mam saranam yatah
katham tams tyaktum utsahe
(Shrimad Bhagavatam 9.4.65)
Ambarisa Maharaja has given up his wife. He has given up his house. He has given up his sons and other relatives and his very life. He has given up the whole world for Me! How can I relinquish him? How can I? Is it possible? You are seeing him as a king. But he has given up everything for Me! Is it possible that I can forsake him? It is not possible!
vase kurvanti mam bhaktya
sat-striyah sat-patim yatha
(Shrimad Bhagavatam, 9.4.66)
A chaste wife subdues a chaste husband by her service. In the same way, a devotee has one-pointed devotion to Me. They are equal to everyone, because they see everyone in relation to their devotion to Me."
You cannot have equal vision, sama-darsana, when you have no devotion to the Supreme Lord. One of the brahmacaris in Calcutta once told me, "When I came to Calcutta, I was rescued."
"Why? I asked."
"Because one of the female devotees there told me, `My husband is not congenial toward this service, but I want to perform some service. So, please come once every month when my husband will not be home. I want to give something for Radha-Krishna and Gauranga Mahaprabhu every month, so will you please come there and take it.'"
One day the brahmacari went there, but on that particular day, the husband had not gone to the office and he was there at the house. He saw that a brahmacari was coming. The brahmacari was afraid. When he entered, he saw the husband sitting at the table eating. At the same time, their dog was also eating-from the same dish!
The husband said, "O brahmacari! By taking a saffron cloth, a man cannot acquire equal darsana! I am taking food with the dog! Will you also take? Simply by wearing a saffron cloth, a man cannot become a sadhu! See? You cannot do this? Just by ringing a bell in a temple, a man cannot become a devotee! Sama-darsana! There must be sama-darsana!"
The brahmacari then became afraid that the husband might beat him. The brahmacari remained silent and left the house thinking, "I have been rescued. This is not sama-darsana. This man is seeing a dog. He is seeing a man. This cannot be sama-darsana." Sama-darsana is not so easily obtained. Thousands of saints have performed immense penances to obtain sama-darsana. When we have exclusive devotion to Shri Krishna, then we shall see Shri Krishna in everything and all living beings in relation to Him. We will not see the dog, the cat or the man. We will see the Supreme Lord in every living being. That is called sama-darsana. "Mya saha vartaman iti sama."
Narayana told Durvasa Rsi, "You must go to Ambarisa Maharaja. Only he can rescue you. I cannot rescue you because My heart is not here."
During this time, Ambarisa Maharaja was feeling very dejected because Durvasa Rsi had left his home without taking any food. The king thought, "I have committed a great offense." He took only water for a full year, after which time Durvasa Rsi returned to Ambarisa Maharaja. When Durvasa Rsi arrived, he paid his obeisances to Ambarisa Maharaja.
The king immediately protested, "What are you doing? In all respects, you are superior to me. I am an insignificant person, a householder. Why are you bowing to me?"
"No! No!" Durvasa Rsi cried, "I have been to Brahma, Siva and others. I have also been to Narayana and He sent me to you. This Sudarsana-cakra is giving me immense pain!"
Ambarisa Maharaja prayed to the Sudarsana-cakra, "O Sudarsana-cakra! This brahmana is not at fault. It is my fault. He has the right to command me. He is innocent! Please stop giving him pain."
The cakra did not respond.
"I am offering you all my piety. Please stop the burning of this brahmana."
Still the cakra did not respond.
Ambarisa Maharaja then pleaded, "I am not a devotee, but if I have done any service for Shri Krishna, please accept all of it in lieu of this punishment and release this brahmana from your intense heat."
Then, immediately the Sudarsana-cakra stopped.
Ambarisa Maharaja had given all he had to rescue the very person who had come to kill him! It is not so easy to become such a sadhu. It is very difficult.
Supreme Lord Shri Krishna was so very satisfied with Ambarisa Maharaja's observance of Ekadashi-vrata in Madhuvana-mandala, that the curse of Durvasa Rsi could not touch him. According to the commentary of Shrila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, Durvasa Rsi delivered this curse specifically to create a pastime that would declare the glorious activities of Ambarisa Maharaja.
Shri Shrimad Bhakti Dayita Madhava Gosvami Maharaja
Our Most Revered Gurudeva, Nityalila Pravista Om Vishnupada Shri Shrimad Bhakti Dayita Madhava Gosvami Maharaja, Founder/President of Shri Chaitanya Gaudiya Matha institution, established this Calcutta Matha, and his objects of worship, Shri Shri Guru-Gauranga-Radha-Nayananatha Jiu, appeared here by dint of his devotion. He installed the Deities during the winter season. Thereafter, our Gurudeva introduced two five-day religious meetings in the Calcutta Matha to celebrate the occasions of the anniversary of the installation of the Deities and Shri Krishna Janmastami, the advent anniversary of Shri Krishna. At that time, when he was living on this earth, we were under him directly, so we had no worries. Whatever he directed was directed by Supreme Lord Shri Krishna. Gurudeva is the absolute counterpart of the Supreme Lord, and we were not to be worried. But, after his disappearance, we could not see him physically although, indirectly, he was still directing everything. As God is eternal, His absolute counterpart is also eternal. As long as there is the sun, the light of the sun, the quality of the sun will also be there. If the sun is eternal, its light will also be eternal. Like that, the Supreme Lord is the Supreme Eternal Entity and, therefore, His absolute counterpart is also eternal. He is grace incarnate. He graces all the deserving enslaved jivas of this world.
By the grace of the Supreme Lord, we can see that His grace incarnate is the bonafide guru, His personal associate. Gurudeva, the grace incarnate of Supreme Lord Shri Krishna Gauranga Mahaprabhu, appeared and put his holy footprints in our own place. I had no knowledge of Gaudiya Matha, but he attracted me. He is the expansion of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu sent His own personal associate here. He also went to many different places and rescued many fallen souls. We have to remember Gurudeva. Without his grace, without submission to him, without sincere belief in him, we cannot have any kind of contact with Krishna.
Throughout the infinite planets, you will find all the pastimes of Shri Krishna going on continuously, one after another. In this sense, His appearance pastime is eternal:
ei-mata brahmanda-madhye sabara `parakasa'
sapta-dvipe nava-khande yanhara vilasa
sarvatra prakasa tiara-bhakte sukha dite
jagatera adharma nasi' dharma sthapite
Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya-lila 20.218-219)
There are infinite brahmandas and infinite planets-so many that we cannot even conceive of them. Somewhere within these brahmandas, He is appearing continuously. So, in this sense, His appearance is eternal. But He also appears, reveals Himself, in the sanctified heart of the suddha bhakta. This is also His eternal appearance. We have to prepare ourselves so that Krishna will think us to be qualified to get Him. Then He will appear in our hearts. Today is the day before Janmastami-"adhivasa". "Adhivasa" means that we have some prior duty to perform before His appearance, so that we will be ready for Him. We have to sanctify our hearts so that Krishna can appear there. Krishna is already there, but we are not aware of His presence.
ceto darpana marjanam bhava-maha-davagni nirvapanam
anandambudhi-vardhanam prati-padam purnamrtasvadanam
sarvatma-snapanam param vigayate shri-krishna-sankirtanam
Supreme Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu wrote this verse thereby instructing us how to attain the association of Krishna. How can Krishna appear in us? What do we have to do? "Shri-krishna-sankirtanam": chant the Holy Names of Shri-Krishna. Then you will get everything. "You do not need to do anything to purify your mind, except to go on chanting `Radha-Krishna', Hare Krishna mahamantra. Everything will come to you." We say this repeatedly with our words but, in practice, we have no belief.
The Supreme Lord will descend into our hearts-will be revealed in our hearts-when we actually and sincerely take absolute shelter at His Lotus Feet. He will reveal Himself to the surrendered soul. If we chant with bonafide submission, we will find that everything is there in the Holy Name-Form, Attributes, everything. The Name is saccidananda. Krishna is saccidananda. This realization will descend into our hearts. We might think that we will get Him by our own capacity, but He is not subservient to us. He is Self-effulgent, Self-luminous like the sun.
Svami Maharaja (Shrila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja) used to say, "If one is enlightened by that knowledge by which ignorance is destroyed, then that knowledge reveals everything just as the sun illuminates everything at daybreak." When the sun rises, he shows himself and everything else in proper perspective. We think harinama to be material sound and that we can get Krishna by our own capacity. No! If we submit to God and His absolute counterpart, then all will be revealed.
We cannot bribe the Supreme Lord. Everything is within Him, there is nothing outside Him. Dhruva Maharaja received the grace of the Supreme Lord. We are uttering the Name and we are not getting this grace. Why? "He is not gracing us!" we complain. No, no. The sun is giving light to all. It is shining in the filthy place, the clean place-everywhere. Some are taking advantage of it, but the majority is not taking. Nonetheless, we complain, "The sun is not blessing us."
Dhruva had firm belief. His faith was without a trace of doubt. "My mother told me that by crying the Name of Shri Hari, I shall get Shri Hari." He was crying, crying, crying continuously. We are not doing this. He was continuously uttering the Holy Name, completely absorbed in Hari and, whatever he saw, whether a lion, crocodile or any other beast, he embraced. They did no harm to him as he was protected from all danger. However, we have difficulty believing this. Ultimately, he received the grace of Narada Gosvami.
That was an example from Shrimad Bhagavatam, but in this Kali-yuga, when we were once in Punjab, a very astounding event took place. A devotee woman was traveling by rickshaw from her shop to a remote place, about two miles away. She was wearing many gold ornaments. She traveled for some time along the well-populated road when suddenly the rickshaw driver turned away from the main road, toward a field.
"Why are you going across this field?" the lady protested. "That is the way, over there."
"No," the rickshaw driver said, "I am taking a shortcut. We will go this way." He would not heed the woman's words.
Then, the woman became afraid, thinking, "I am wearing so many golden ornaments. The driver must be greedy for them. He will rob me and kill me." For this reason, she jumped from the rickshaw and started to run away, shouting "Hah Govinda! Hah Govinda!" This is fact. We were there at the time.
To save herself, she jumped into a well. In terror, she remained in the well throughout the night, all the time uttering, "Hah Govinda!"
At dawn, the next morning, many people from the village came for their morning walk. They heard the sound of a woman's voice uttering the Holy Name. "What is this?" they asked. They followed the voice to the well and found the woman who was crying "Hah Govinda! Hah Govinda!" An extremely poisonous snake was swimming around her, circling her. "What is this?" they wondered. Then, they saw the rickshaw. A man holding a dagger lay next to it-dead. A great cry rose from the crowd and many people gathered from different places to see what had happened. By now, it was daylight and, as people came to the woman's aid, the snake left.
All the witnesses at the scene said they had never seen that snake before and, since that time, they have never seen it again. When the rickshaw driver went to kill the woman with his dagger, the snake bit him and injected him with venom, killing him instantly. After that, the same snake protected the woman throughout the night by circling her, so that no one could come near. The woman had firm belief. She did not utter any other Name, only "Govinda! Govinda! Govinda!" Even in this Kali-yuga, you can find such an event. Therefore, you should have belief.
Janmastami and other auspicious functions at the Matha are "hari-smarana-mahotsava" (grand celebrations dedicated to the remembrance of Hari). You will find, in a certain hymn, that the entire purpose of performing bhajana is to remember Krishna. We shall destroy all evil thoughts by remembering Krishna. We shall get everything by remembering. But, it is said in the scripture called Vaishnava Cintamani, that it is not easy to remember, to meditate, with this material mind. It is very difficult. All the sins, vices and evil thoughts will be destroyed by remembrance of Krishna, but it is not so easy. But, we can remember Krishna if we utilize our lips to utter the Name. By moving these lips, we can obtain eternal benefit, but, unfortunately, we have no aptitude for this. We cannot remember Krishna by means of the material mind.
When we are able to remember Krishna by loudly and continuously performing harinama, and that remembrance is revealed in our hearts, then we will be entitled to perform bhajana in a secluded place. Not now. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is teaching us. Our Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura is teaching us. If our Gurudeva ever saw some devotees dancing and chanting the Holy Name, he would show them great respect. "They are expressing their hearts! Hari bol!" In order to gain some respect, name and fame, I was also dancing. "Ah! Very good!" Gurudeva would say. He would be pleased with me although I was doing it to receive praise. Inside, I had no feeling, no want for Krishna, and no perturbation of heart. I did it only to get respect from others. Nonetheless, Gurudeva was so satisfied. Why? This you have to understand. "Kirtana prabhave smarana haibe" (Shrila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Thakura). Remembrance of Bhagavan comes from constant chanting of the Holy Name.
Prahalada told all the demon boys, "Why are you afraid? There is no difficulty in worshipping Krishna. You should just utter the Name. You are calling your father and your mother without difficulty. Call Him and He will be satisfied. There is no difficulty. He is within you. He has affection for you. You will find the affection of crores of mothers in Shri Hari." Here in this world, one always encounters difficulty when trying to please another person, but Krishna is not at all difficult to please. With a sincere heart, utter His Name.
In your household life, you wile away the time for nothing, for worldly things. If you are also gossiping about these things here in the temple, then why have you come? The temple is for the worship of Krishna, nothing else. You should think about this. Why have you come here? Have you spent so much money to come here only to gossip about worldly things?
What is bhagavan-bhajana?
sravanam kirtanam dhyanam harer adbhuta-karmanah
janma-karma-gunanam ca tad-arthe 'khila-cestitam
(Shrimad Bhagavatam, 11.3.27)
Once, our Guru Maharaja was in Vraja-mandala performing parikrama. Generally, our Guru Maharaja would remain in front to perform kirtana, guiding the other devotees. On this particular occasion, Guru Maharaja was held up with work at some place and would not be able to come until later. At the front of the procession, all the Vaishnavas were chanting the Holy Name and the others were answering him back. But, at the back of the procession, there were so many devotees who were idly gossiping about worldly things. They did not know that Guru Maharaja was coming up from the rear. When Guru Maharaja came up to them, he said, "Oh! Your whole life's fortune has been destroyed! At this great procession you are also gossiping about worldly things? Then they quickly started chanting, "Radhe Govinda! Radhe Govinda!" What is the reason why we have spent so much money to come and be here? Is it to give our energy to worldly things? If we hear about Krishna, we shall go to Krishna. If we hear about worldly things, we shall go to worldly things. If we sing about Krishna, we shall go to Krishna. If we speak about Krishna, we shall go to Krishna. If we remember Krishna, our minds will go there. If we devote all our sense organs for the service of Shri Krishna, we shall go to Him. This is called bhajana. If we go on expending all our energy for worldly things, while remaining externally in the Matha, what benefit will we receive?
Tomorrow, Krishna will appear. He will appear in the shrine of our hearts. He is there within us and He will appear there. So, today, on this adhivasa tithi, we have to clear the heart and mind so that Krishna will come and sit there. Krishna does not take His seat in an impure, dirty place. Krishna is the Holiest. We have to prepare our hearts, purify our hearts. There should be no desire other than the service of Shri Krishna. If there should be any other desire, then that heart is impure. As long as impure thoughts are there, Krishna will not appear.
In Purusottama-dhama (Puri), during the time of the car festival (Ratha-yatra), Lord Jagannatha travels from His temple in Puri to the Gundica temple, a distance of about two miles. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu explains that the Gundica temple is Vrndavana and the Jagannatha temple is Kuruksetra. During a solar eclipse, people go to Kuruksetra to bathe and perform other rituals. In the scriptures, you will find descriptions of the immense glories of this practice. During the time of Krishna's pastimes on Earth, there was a solar eclipse where Krishna came from Dvaraka to Kuruksetra with all His personal associates. At that time, Krishna was the King, Emperor and Sole Proprietor of Dvaraka. All His subjects, consorts and personal associates were very eager to go to Kuruksetra during the solar eclipse so they could bathe, perform sandhya and other rituals. If they could perform these sacrifices with the brahmanas, they could get immense fruits. To fulfill this desire of His subjects, Krishna said, "All right, we shall go." So, all the numerous subjects, consorts and personal associates came to Kuruksetra. Krishna intentionally invited everyone except the Vrajavasis-the devotees of Vraja.
Narada Gosvami was very shocked by this. He approached Krishna, saying, "The Vrajavasis love You so much. They are experiencing extreme separation grief by not seeing You. You are inviting everyone in the whole world but You are not inviting the Vrajavasis? What offense are they guilty of? Have they committed an offense by loving You? I cannot tolerate this!"
Then Krishna said, "They are our own people. No one has to send invitations to one's own. Parents do not invite their children, and vice versa. They are our own. Outside people are invited. How can I invite the Vrajavasis? You are right, I intentionally did not invite them because they are saturated with love for Me. They have no interest in performing sacrifices to obtain mundane benefits. If they come, the results of all these ritual practices will be destroyed. For this reason, I have not invited them."
Although not invited, the Vrajavasis came to learn that Krishna was coming to Kuruksetra. The Vrajavasis thought, "Kuruksetra is much closer to Vraja-mandala than Dvaraka is. We should avail ourselves of this rare opportunity to see Krishna! We can have darsana of Krishna! We should not miss this chance!"
But, they could not venture to go there. Why? They thought, "Krishna has become the Emperor. His standard is very high, and we are merely cowherd men and women. We are poor people. Perhaps Krishna has forgotten us. If we go there, He will not recognize us. Someone of very high position will not come to see ordinary people like us. Previously He was a cowherd boy in our Vraja-dhama, but now He has become King. But, we are extremely grief-stricken. We cannot tolerate this separation."
Thinking like this, the Vrajavasis reasoned, "A man might forget everything else, but he will never forget his parents, even if they live far away. If Nanda Maharaja and Yasoda go there, then Krishna will bow down to them and make obeisances." So they went to Nanda Maharaja, saying, "Krishna is coming to Kuruksetra! We are too grief-stricken with separation grief. We have not seen Him for such a long time but we do not have the courage to go there. We do not know if Krishna will give us the opportunity to see Him, as His present standard of living is so high. But if His parents go there, then Krishna will come to them as their son and offer obeisances."
Then Nanda Maharaja and Yasoda said, "No, no. This is not correct. He has not come here for such a long time! He has so many consorts and servants serving Him there. He is so wealthy now. His wives are also wealthy. We are only cowherd men and women. We have nothing. After so long, how can we go? If we go there, will He come to see us? If we go to Kuruksetra and are deprived of seeing Krishna, we shall die!"
When Krishna, the Emperor of Dvaraka entered Kuruksetra, so many cavalry units, elephants, horses, etc. accompanied Him. Only those who had permission were allowed to go to speak with Him. He was surrounded by servants. There were four gatekeepers, one in each direction. The King's parents, Vasudeva and Devaki were also there. The brahmanas had gone to start the sacrifices. So, no one was permitted to disturb the King.
Nanda Maharaja, Yasoda Devi and all the cowherd boys and other friends of Krishna approached where He was. Nobody acknowledged them. Armed forces, cavalry and elephants surrounded Krishna.
Nanda Maharaja approached one of the guards. "I have come to see my beloved son," he said.
"Who is your beloved son?" a guard asked him.
"How is that? You are a poor person. He is the King! His parents are already here-Vasudeva and Devaki. We do not believe you! From where have you come? Why are you claiming that He is your son? We do not believe you!"
Nanda Maharaja cried, "I shall die!"
The guard said, "I am doing my work as per the order of the King. If I do anything against His orders, I shall be dismissed. Do you have a permit?"
"Then I cannot let you in," the guard replied.
Then all the cowherd boys, carrying their small cow prods, cried, "My friend! My bosom friend! Kanhaiya!"
"What? He is the King! His friends are like this? You are paupers! I do not believe you!"
Then the gopis cried, "We are the consorts of Krishna!"
"What? The consorts are already there. Satyabhama, Rukmini and all the other queens are there! From where have you come? Show me some permit from the King or His Prime Minister!"
Then, Yasoda Devi said, "I told you that if I go to Kuruksetra and I am deprived of seeing Krishna, I shall die! I have nothing left. My life is finished!" She cried loudly, "Gopala!" and fell unconscious.
At that time, Krishna was with the brahmanas, who requested Him to start the sacrifice. Krishna removed all His royal garments and became a small, naked boy, crying, "Mother! O Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" He cried and cried and cried and ran to sit on the lap of Yasoda Devi. Now, without Krishna's presence, all the ritual sacrifices were destroyed. By hearing one single call from Yasoda Devi, Krishna could not remain there.
Then Krishna met the gopis and the others. The gopis attracted Krishna. They said, "We are not very happy seeing You here. There are so many cavalrymen, elephants and chariots-we should go to Vrndavana. There, it is sweet. All this is Your majestic aspect. So, please allow us the opportunity to see You in better circumstances by coming with us to Vrndavana. Please do not remain here! "He Gopinatha! He Gopinatha! Vrndavane calo! He Gopinatha!"
In that mood of the gopis, saturated with gopi-bhava, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu pulled the chariot from the Jagannatha temple (Kuruksetra) toward Gundica (Vrndavana). During the chariot festival, Krishna, Baladeva and Subhadra make the trip in three chariots. The day before the festival, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu told the devotees, "You see, Krishna will come to the Gundica temple tomorrow. You must come with Me and cleanse this temple." "Cleansing the temple" means that outside you must remove all the thorns and rubbish and trim the grass, etc. You must clear the path of any stones and sweep away all the dust with a broom. But, it also means that you are to engage your sense organs for the service of Krishna. If you do not engage your sense organs, you will not get Him. For this reason, you have to clear your heart of all desire for the attainment of material benefits both here and in the hereafter in heaven. If such desire is there, Krishna will not come. This desire for non-eternal benefits and emancipation, the desire to merge yourself in formless Brahman, the desire to merge yourself in Paramatma, these sorts of desires will deter you from going to Krishna. Krishna will not come to you. For this reason, you have to clear all of this away-these desires are like hard stones. Outside, you clear them away with brooms and all the devotees bring earthen pots full of water to wash everything. After this, there should be no desire for name and fame and other such things. All of this should be totally removed. For this reason, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, with the help of His own uttri (cloth that a sannyasi wears around his neck), scrubbed the inside of the temple. There should not be any kind of material desires within the heart, not even those hidden secretly. Then Krishna will come tomorrow.
Krishna is coming here from the Jagannatha temple, and you have to clear these unwanted things away. This means that you have to clear your mind. There should be no other desire except desire for Krishna. Krishna is coming to Vrndavana. Krishna is the only Autocrat there. No other ideas, forces or persons should dominate your heart, except Krishna. So, you have to make your heart the same as Vrndavana, where Krishna is solely dominant. He is the Sole Proprietor. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says, "I have made this mind Vrndavana, so that Krishna will be free-free to perform all of His pastimes and sporting activities." You have to make your mind Vrndavana. No one else should be allowed to enter and no other thoughts should be allowed.
Now, you are staying in a room and outside you have placed a big sign that says, "Welcome." So, others see the sign and say, "Oh, welcome," and they come to your door. But the door is closed and behind the door there are many chairs, tables etc. In fact, the room is completely filled with furniture! They cannot even open the door. So, they go away, disappointed. Outside, your sign says, "Welcome," and you are thinking that you are welcoming Krishna. But, when Krishna comes, you have thoughts in your mind of wife, children, house, money, name, fame and other things. All these things have filled up your heart. Krishna will come and then go back. You have to clear your mind, your heart, for Him. Clear away all attachment to non-eternal things. Then Krishna will come tomorrow.
We have to perform harinama. This is the best method. So, in these days leading up to the advent of Shri Krishna, we should perform harinama sankirtana. We should not do this to show off to others. We have to do our own bhajana. We must call and call Krishna from the core of the heart. The days should be spent performing sankirtana. Then our minds will be cleansed and Krishna may appear. If you want Krishna, you have to remove all things that are not Krishna. This is "adhivasa".
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has taught us that you will get everything, all kinds of attainments by means of the Holy Name. He made all the devotees chant the Holy Name, being careful to avoid the tenfold offenses. You are not to engage in meditation or any other kind of practice. Your mind will be cleansed. All the unwanted desires will be removed: "ceto darpana marjanam." You have multifarious desires, but if you perform sankirtana, the first attainment is that your desires will be removed. When these desires are gone, so too will be the pangs of threefold suffering-miseries. The desires are the miseries. As long as you have desires, should there be some hindrance to the fulfillment of these desires, your mind will become upset. For this reason, when the desires are removed, there will be no afflictions and Krishna will appear. Krishna is All-Good. After that, you will have a relationship with Krishna, thinking, "I am of Krishna." With love, you will utter the Holy Name and you will be drowned in the ocean of ambrosia-bliss-and, at every step, you will have the taste of that sweet transcendental ambrosia of the Supreme Lord.
About the Author
Shrila Bhakti Ballabha Tirtha Gosvami Maharaja
His Holiness Shrila Bhakti Ballabha Tirtha Gosvami Maharaja was born in 1924 in Assam, India, on Rama-navami, the most auspicious appearance day of Bhagavan Lord Ramacandra. Having been brought up in a pious environment, he developed a strong inclination to search for truth, which led him to take up the study of philosophy at Calcutta University.
After completing his MA in philosophy in 1947, he came in contact with his spiritual master, Shrila Bhakti Dayita Madhava Gosvami Maharaja, and immediately became attracted by his divinely powerful personality. Shrila Madhava Maharaja was one of the foremost followers of the illustrious preceptor of the pure devotional bhakti school, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. From that time onward, Shrila Tirtha Maharaja completely dedicated his life to the service of his guru. Soon he became Secretary of the devotional institution Shri Chaitanya Gaudiya Matha, which has over twenty asramas in India alone. He took sannyasa, the vow of renunciation, in 1961.
After the disappearance of Shrila Madhava Gosvami Maharaja in 1979, Shrila Tirtha Maharaja was appointed his successor as acarya of the Matha. During his lifetime, he received the blessings and association of many of Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta's prominent followers, such as Shrila Bhakti Promode Puri Gosvami Maharaja, Shrila Bhakti Hrdaya Bon Gosvami Maharaja, Shrila Bhakti Raksaka Shridhara Gosvami Maharaja, Akincana Krishna dasa Babaji Maharaja and many others.
For the last five decades, Shrila Bhakti Ballabha Tirtha Gosvami Maharaja has been engaged in preaching the philosophy of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to counter the modern trend toward violence and cruelty, and to bring about unity of hearts among all, irrespective of race, creed or religion. Shrila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja had requested Shrila Tirtha Maharaja to accompany him to the USA just prior to his launching of the Krishna consciousness movement in the West in 1965. As he was, at that time, engaged in the service of his Gurudeva as secretary of Shri Chaitanya Gaudiya Matha, Shrila Tirtha Maharaja humbly declined. Since 1997, however, at the request of Shrila Bhakti Promode Puri Gosvami Maharaja, he has been traveling the globe several months a year, enlivening all who come in contact with his humble, sweet personality, extraordinary kirtana and message of divine love. To date, his preaching travels outside India have taken him around the world, including the UK, Holland, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Russia, the Ukraine, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Hawaii and throughout the continental US. Everyone is attracted by his eloquent, insightful and, most of all, purely devotional discourses.
His Holiness Shrila Tirtha Maharaja, during his US tour in 1997, addressed the United Nations' "World Peace Prayer Society," and "World Conference on Religion and Peace" in New York City, offering them a succinct outline for world peace based upon the spiritual tenets of the ancient Vedas. His preaching programs over the past years have also included many interesting dialogues with prominent Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Hindu and Baha'i theologians, in such diverse settings as universities, interfaith groups, churches, Hindu temples and a wide variety of metaphysical and private educational centers. All are invariably won over by his gentle and affectionate nature, combined with his resolute faith in Guru-Vaishnava-Bhagavan. He has also spoken on the sublime teachings of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu on many radio and television programs, including a thought provoking interview on BBC radio in 2000, which was broadcast worldwide.
In addition to his role as acarya of Shri Chaitanya Gaudiya Matha, Shrila Bhakti Ballabha Tirtha Gosvami Maharaja serves as the beloved acarya of GOKUL (Global Organization of Krishnachaitanya's Universal Love), which he founded in 1997. He has also served as Vice-President of the World Vaishnava Association (WVA). Working eighteen hours a day, he is incessantly engaged in the service of humanity as a teacher of Vedic wisdom and the philosophy of bhakti-yoga. He is also presently engaged in writing articles and books of a profound nature in his native languages as well as in English. To date, his English publications include the books Suddha Bhakti, Sages of Ancient India, A Taste of Transcendence and Shri Gaura Parsada.
Sanskrit pronunciation Guide
a-like the a in organ or the u in but
r-like ree in reed a-like the
a in far, but held twice as long as short a
l-like l followed by r (lr)
i-like the i in pin e-like the e in they
i-like the i in pique, but held twice as long as short i
ai-like the ai in aisle
u-like the u in push o-like the o in go
u-like the u in rule, but held twice as long as short u
au-like the ow in how
k-as in kite
d-as in dove, but with tongue against the teeth
kh-as in Eckhart
dh-as in red-hot, but with tongue against the teeth
g-as in give
n-as in nut, but with tongue against the teeth
gh-as in dig-hard
p-as in pine n-as in sing
ph-as in uphill (not pronounced like f)
c-as in chair
b-as in bird
j-as in joy
bh-as in rub-hard
jh-as in hedgehog
m-as in mother
n-as in canyon
y-as in yes
t-as in tub, but with tongue against the roof of the mouth
r-as in run
th-as in light-heart, but with tongue against the roof of the mouth
l-as in light
d-as in dove, but with tongue against the roof of the mouth
v-as in vine
dh-as in red-hot, but with tongue against the roof of the mouth
s (palatal)-as in the s in the German word sprechen
n-as in nut, but with tongue against the roof of the mouth
s (cerebral)-as the sh in shine
t-as in tub, but with tongue against the teeth
s (dental)-as in sun
th-as in light-heart, but with tongue against the teeth
h-as in home
m (anusvara)-a resonant nasal like the n in the French word bon
h (visarga)-a final, echoed h-sound: ah is pronounce like aha; ih like ihi
bathing or installation of Deities.
one who teaches by his own example; a spiritual master.
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja
one of the leading disciples of Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. He established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness throughout the world in the 1960's.
One of the holy names of Shri Krishna, meaning that Person from Whom no one can be detached; the All-Unifying Spiritual Principle.
the day before a holy appearance day of the Supreme Lord.
expansion of Mahavisnu and Sada-Siva; it was due to his prayers that Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in the world. See also pancatattva.
a Vedic fire sacrifice performed daily by an agni-hotri-brahmana.
a brahmana who performs Vedic fire sacrifices daily.
brahmana who was saved from the messengers of the god of death by calling out the Name of Narayana. His biography is narrated in the 6th Canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam.
king who dedicated all he had to the Supreme Lord and, as a result, was saved by Vishnu from the wrath of the brahmana, Durvasa Muni. His biography is narrated in the 9th Canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam.
bliss; see also Saccidananda.
manifestation of Vishnu Who, in the form of a huge serpent, holds all the worlds on His head as if they were no heavier than mustard seeds.
the internal potency of the Supreme Lord; see para potency.
the inferior or material potency of the Supreme Lord (maya); the material world, comprised of the five gross elements, namely earth, water, fire, air and ether and also of the three subtle elements, namely mind, intelligence and perverted ego, is the outcome of this inferior potency. See also Bahiranga-sakti.
a type of sacred wood used in a Vedic fire sacrifice (agni-hotra) to start the fire.
daily, ceremonial offerings of various paraphernalia to the temple Deities, to the accompaniment of kirtana.
the third of the five Pandava brothers. He was the son of Kunti Devi. He is renowned for his prowess as a great military hero and archer. He is the intimate friend and disciple of Supreme Lord Shri Krishna, to whom the Supreme Lord spoke the immortal words of Bhagavad-gita on the battlefield of Kuruksetra.
(1) wants or requirements; (2) wealth.
(1) any of the four orders of life within the varnasrama system, (namely, brahmacarya, grhastha, vanaprastha and sannyasa); (2) a religious shelter.
the eternal spirit soul; the real self. See also jivatma.
a person devoid of any material desire or interest in worldly things.
external potency of the Supreme Lord comprising the world of matter (maya).
first plenary expansion of Krishna; the son of Rohini and elder brother of Krishna. In Chaitanya-lila, He appears as Lord Nityananda Prabhu.
power or opulence. See Bhagavan.
also called "Gitopanisad", the Bhagavad-gita comprises the first chapter of the Bhisma Parva of the Mahabharata, wherein Supreme Lord Shri Krishna explains the different processes of self-realization to his friend and disciple, Shri Arjuna. The concepts of karma, jnana and bhakti are discussed in great detail.
the Supreme Lord, Who possesses six mystic opulences, or Bhagas, in full, namely: all strength, all fame, all wealth, all beauty, all knowledge and all renunciation.
see sanatana dharma.
see Shrimad Bhagavatam.
(1) worship of the Supreme Lord; (2) a type of devotional song.
the form of Shri Krishna's profound affection for His devotee.
devotion to one's object of worship.
Bhakti Dayita Madhava Maharaja
diksa guru of Shrila Bhakti Ballabha Tirtha Maharaja. He was the disciple of Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and the founder/acarya of Shri Chaitanya Gaudiya Matha.
Bhakti Pramode Puri Maharaja
siksa guru of Shrila Bhakti Ballabha Tirtha Maharaja. He was the disciple of Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and the founder/acarya of Shri Gopinatha Gaudiya Matha.
definitive devotional treatise, written by Shrila Rupa Gosvami, that methodically analyzes the principles of bhakti and the variety of loving sentiments found in spiritual relationships (rasas).
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura
Paramgurudeva of Shrila Bhakti Ballabha Tirtha Maharaja. He was the founder of the Shri Gaudiya and Shri Chaitanya Mathas and the pioneer of the present Krishna-Bhakti movement throughout the world.
the father of Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. In the 19th century, he revived the pure practice and scriptures of Gaudiya Vaisnavism, which were being misinterpreted by various pseudo-sects. He initiated the spread of Vaisnavism to the West by sending copies of Vaishnava literatures to prominent thinkers of the time, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.
a great devotee of the Lord. He was the eldest son of Rsabhadeva who, after renouncing his kingship of the world, became attached to a deer and subsequently took birth again as a deer. However, he attained spiritual perfection in his next life as Jada Bharata. His biography is narrated in the 5th Canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam.
the second of the five Pandava brothers, renowned for his incredible strength.
a Brahmavadi Rsi, who was born directly from Brahma; the patriarch of the Bhrgu dynasty.
born from the lotus-naval of Vishnu, he was the first created being of the universe. Directed by the Lord, he created all the life forms in the universe and is the ruler of the mode of passion (rajo-guna).
a celibate student; one of the asramas of the varnasrama system.
the impersonal, all-pervasive aspect of the Supreme Lord.
the intellectual class; their function is to maintain the Vedic principles and to ensure the spiritual upliftment of society; one of the varnas of the varnasrama system.
any one of the uncountable material universes.
ancient scripture consisting of beautiful and elaborate prayers offered by Lord Brahma to Shri Krishna at the beginning of creation, of which the only surviving chapter is the fifth chapter. It was rediscovered in South India by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
purana containing, among other things, the story of Krishna displaying his Maya potency to Narada Muni and also the story of Tulasi Devi.
the divine pastimes of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates.
Lord Krishna's incarnation in the Kali-yuga, who appeared in Navadvipa-dhama, West Bengal, in the late 15th century. He inaugurated the practice of sankirtana, the yuga-dharma for Kali-yuga.
one of the sacred literatures narrating the holy life and pastimes of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, written in the 16th century by Shri Vrndavana dasa Thakura.
one of the sacred literatures narrating the holy life and pastimes of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, written in the late 16th century by Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami Maharaja.
a commentary on Shrimad Bhagavatam written by the great Vaishnava saint Shrinatha Cakravarti.
a cycle of four eras, or yugas, totaling 4,320,000 years. See also Satya-yuga, Treta-yuga, Dvapara-yuga and Kali-yuga.
(1) a conscious entity or the principle of consciousness; (2) the Supreme Consciousness, Shri Krishna; (3) an individual spirit soul.
so titled because of its association with the Sama Veda, the Veda of chants. One of the eleven principal Upanisads.
knowledge or the principle of consciousness; see also Saccidananda
(1) eternally existing truth that can only be seen and understood by dint of self-realization, and not by means of mundane reasoning and argument; (2) self-revealed scripture (sastra),
mercy; one of the four kinds of piety: tapah, saucam, daya, and satyam (austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness).
a personality deputed by the Supreme Lord, Shri Krishna, to control a specific aspect of the material creation. Indra, Brahma and Siva are all examples of demigods.
mother of Kapiladeva and wife of Kardama Muni.
(1) the intrinsic nature of a thing; (2) the actual function or duty of an individual; (3) occupational duties within the varnasrama system.
blind king who was the father of the Kauravas, the protagonists in the Kuruksetra war.
famous boy saint who, wishing to regain his lost kingdom, performed great penance to propitiate Lord Vishnu. Instead, he ultimately attained devotion to Lord Vishnu's Lotus Feet. His holy biography is narrated in the 4th Canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam.
engaging one's mind in meditation.
(1) transcendental spiritual knowledge; (2) the process of initiation of a sincere disciple, whereby the guru imparts spiritual knowledge capable of destroying all the disciple's sins and enabling him to realize the ultimate goal of life: krishna-prema.
the spiritual master who gives diksa initiation (mantra-diksa) to the disciple.
chaste wife of the five Pandavas.
evil-minded personality who attempted to denude Draupadi in the court of the Kurus.
great sage and mystic who is an expansion of Lord Siva. He is famous for his sometimes-wrathful curses. One of these pastimes is related in the story of Maharaja Ambarisa in the 9th Canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam.
envious, eldest son of Dhrtarastra. He is the main protagonist in the Kuruksetra war.
the third of the four eras (catur-yuga) lasting 864,000 years. The lifespan of a human being during Dvapara-yuga was 1,000 years. The yuga-dharma of the Dvapara-yuga was deity worship. Two of the four kinds of piety (daya and satyam or mercy and truthfulness) were present during this era. Lord Krishna appeared and the end of the Dvapara-yuga.
Ekadashi or Ekadashi-tithi
the eleventh day after either the full or new moon.
the vow observed on Ekadashi. Generally, on that day, one abstains from all grains and pulses (lentils, beans), as well as certain other items. The vow of Ekadashi is to remain near Krishna in all one's activities.
incarnation of Shrimati Radharani in Chaitanya-lila. See also Pancatattva.
Arjuna's legendary, powerful bow, given to him by the demigod, Varuna.
Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His most intimate companion, Lord Nityananda Prabhu. They are expansions of Shri Krishna and Shri Balarama, respectively, in the Kali-yuga.
a devotee of Shri Krishna, following in the footsteps of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
the practice of devotion to Vishnu/Krishna according to the tenets of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
another name for the Bhagavad-gita, referring to its nature as an upanisad.
one of the holy names of Shri Krishna, referring to His childhood pastimes tending the calves in Vraja-mandala.
spiritual milkmaids of Vraja-mandala who, of all devotees, exhibit the most intense love for Shri Krishna.
"master of the senses"; title of one who has accepted the renounced order of life.
a spiritual master; one who is heavy with knowledge of the Absolute and who removes nescience with the light of divine knowledge.
term of respect used to refer to one's spiritual master.
line of disciplic succession; the chain of gurus from past to present.
one of the holy names of the Supreme Lord, referring to His stealing the hearts of His devotees and taking away obstacles to their devotion.
Vaishnava smrti, written by Shrila Sanatana Gosvami and Shrila Gopala Bhatta dasa Gosvami, elucidating the rules of Vaishnava behavior.
expansion of Lord Brahma in Chaitanya-lila. He is known as "Namacarya" or "the master of chanting the Holy Name" due to his chanting 300,000 names of the Lord daily.
discussion of the Name, Form, Attributes and Pastimes of the Supreme Lord.
(1) the holy names of the Supreme Lord; (2) the practice of chanting the names of the Supreme Lord.
Ekadashi, which is very dear to the Supreme Lord.
Vedic fire sacrifice.
the demon father of Prahlada Maharaja.
one of the holy names of the Supreme Lord, referring to Him as "Lord of the senses".
the king of the demigods. Also called Devaraja.
the gross and subtle senses.
one of the holy names of Shri Krishna, referring to His pastime as "Lord of the Universe". In His deity form, He performs His processional pastime in the annual Ratha-yatra festival in Puri and other places around the world.
the holy appearance day of Shri Krishna.
(1) the individual soul; (2) the individual living entity.
one who follows the path of jnana.
the present era; the fourth of the four eras (catur-yuga) lasting 432,000 years. The lifespan of a human being during Kali-yuga is 100 years. The yuga-dharma of the Kali-yuga is chanting the Holy Name. Only one of the four kinds of piety (satyam, or truthfulness) is present during this era, in the form of the Holy Name itself.
expansion of Krishna; not to be confused with the atheistic philosopher, Kapila. The son of Devahuti and Kardama Muni. His life and teachings appear in the 3rd Canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam.
lust; the fulfillment of sensual desires.
forest within Vraja-mandala in which the Pandavas spent part of their twelve-year exile. It was there that Jayadhrata, the King of Sindhu, abducted Draupadi.
one of the names of Shri Krishna used with affection by the Vrajavasis when Krishna played the pastimes of a small boy.
(1) work performed with self-interest in mind, as opposed to work performed in the interest of the Supreme Lord; (2) the laws of cause and effect within the material universe. See also Karma-kanda and karma-yoga.
one who follows the path of karma (see also Karma-kanda).
section of the Vedic literatures that prescribes methods for the obtainment of temporary, material benefits.
the path of performing Karma.
one of the foremost of the eleven principal Upanisads. It relates the instructions of Yamaraja to the brahmana boy, Naciketa.
(1) the family of the Kuru dynasty; (2) the sons of Dhrtarastra.
see Krishnadasa Kaviraja.
Kirtana (or sankirtana)
(1) chanting the glories of the Holy Name, form, pastimes of the Lord; (2) the practice of congregational chanting of the Holy Name to the accompaniment of drums, cymbals, etc.
the original Holy Name of the Supreme Lord, referring to His unique position as the Ultimate Attractive Person. It also refers to His charming complexion, which resembles the hue of a monsoon cloud.
author of the sublime holy biography of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu entitled "Chaitanya Charitamrita".
the pastimes of Shri Krishna in Vraja-mandala.
the holy names of Shri Krishna.
pure love for Supreme Lord Shri Krishna.
the administrative/warrior class; their function is to govern and protect society according to the Vedic principles. One of the varnas of the varnasrama system.
the wife of Pandu and one of the mothers of the Pandavas.
a sacred place of pilgrimage where, in ancient times, people traditionally went to bathe during a solar eclipse. It was here that the battle between the Kauravas and the Pandavas took place.
one hundred thousand.
transcendental, blissful activities or pastimes of the Supreme Lord and His pure devotees. See also Krishna-lila and Chaitanya-lila.
epic literature of ancient India that narrates the story of a great battle, and the events leading up to it, that took place 5000 years ago. The principal figures in this story are Shri Krishna, the Pandavas and the Kauravas. The Bhagavad-gita is one part of the Mahabharata.
one of the names of Lord Siva, meaning "the great demigod".
"great soul" or "great person"; (1) a realized saint; (2) one of the twelve Mahajanas mentioned in Shrimad Bhagavatam; (3) a "money lender" (colloquial).
"the great mantra" for deliverance: "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare."
honorific title meaning, "great master". A title reserved for Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
"great king"; title given to a king, a sannyasi or other elevated personalities.
combination of divine syllables, meditating upon which, one gets deliverance.
a progenitor of mankind.
monastery where students of the science of self-realization reside.
great sage who had been granted a lifespan of seven days of Brahma (30,058,560,000 years) and to whom the Lord displayed His maya potency. His biography is narrated in the 12th Canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam.
the father of Markendeya Rsi
the illusory potency of the Supreme Lord.
the holy birthplace of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, situated at the heart of Shri Antardvipa, one of the islands of Navadvipa-dhama, in West Bengal, India.
deliverance from the cycle of births and deaths.
(1) form (2) a temple deity.
the fourth of the five Pandava brothers.
a dim reflection or faint impression of the Holy Name. Example: Ajamila called out the Holy Name of "Narayana" when he was actually referring to his son.
congregational chanting of the holy names of Shri Krishna.
One of Krishna's fathers in Krishna-lila. His other father is Vasudeva.
one of the holy names of Shri Krishna, referring to his relationship as the son of Nanda Maharaja.
great devotee sage, who travels the length and breadth of both the spiritual and material worlds, singing and chanting the glories of Supreme Lord Shri Krishna, while playing his vina. One of the sons of Brahma and one of the twelve Mahajanas.
Krishna, in His form of Vishnu, lying on the Causal Ocean; His majestic aspect as the Lord of Vaikuntha. See also Vishnu.
Nine islands in West Bengal, India forming an eight-petalled lotus with Shri Mayapura (the holy birthplace of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu) situated at its center.
incarnation of Lord Balarama in Chaitanya-lila; the guru of the universe and the intermediary between Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His devotees. See also Pancatattva.
half-man/half-lion incarnation of Krishna who is famous for rescuing His pure devotee, Prahlada Maharaja, from the demon Hiranyakasipu. This story is narrated in the 7th Canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam.
(1) justice; (2) the doctrines of logic.
one of the sattvika Puranas, extolling the glories of Shri Krishna/Vishnu. So titled because it explains the creation of the world from the lotus stemming from the naval of Lord Vishnu. Also, the padma (lotus) is described as the heart of Vishnu.
God in five aspects, namely, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita Prabhu, Gadadhara Prabhu and Shrivasa Prabhu.
the five sons of Maharaja Pandu, namely Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Sahadeva and Nakula.
expansion of Vishnu; the Supersoul or Oversoul; the indwelling monitor who guides the intelligence of the embodied living beings.
the time of breaking a fast or vow.
the superior or transcendental, spiritual potency of the Supreme Lord. See also Antaranga-sakti.
the guru of one's guru.
circumambulation of a holy site or deity.
the son of Abhimanyu and Uttara. When the Pandavas retired from kingly life, he was crowned king of the entire world. He was cursed to die within seven days by the son of a brahmana. Renouncing everything, He spent these final days hearing the complete Shrimad Bhagavatam from the lips of the great sage Sukadeva Gosvami.
honorific title meaning, "master".
great boy saint of ancient India who was rescued from the torment of his father, the demon Hiranyakasipu, by the Supreme Lord in his form of Nrsimhadeva.
regulation of the breath in the practice of yoga.
"mercy". Anything appropriate that has been offered to Supreme Lord Shri Krishna and, therefore, has become sanctified.
pure, unconditional love; see Krishna-prema.
pure, loving devotion.
immediate gratification of the senses.
"primeval or ancient". Eighteen sacred Sanskrit literatures, divided into three categories (sattvika, rajasika and tamasika), which explain the Vedic philosophy by means of historical narratives.
the various Vishnu expansions of Krishna, involved in the process of creation.
City of Puri, Orissa, in India, in which the famous Jagannatha Temple is located. It is also the holy birthplace of Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.
the most beloved consort of Shri Krishna and the personification of the pleasure potency of Supreme Lord. She epitomizes the highest love for Shri Krishna.
spontaneous devotion to Supreme Lord Shri Krishna.
having the attributes of the mode of passion (Rajo-guna).
the material quality, or mode, of passion.
incarnation of Shri Krishna. He is the great hero of the epic Ramayana, who defeated the demon, Ravana, who had abducted His wife, Sita devi. He exemplifies the codes of dharma.
epic tale of the pastimes of Lord Ramacandra, written by Shri Valmiki Muni.
the transcendental taste, or aesthetic, relished in the intimate relationships between Krishna and His devotees.
annual chariot procession of Lord Jagannatha.
expansion of Shri Krishna. He is the father of Bharata Maharaja and the Navayogendras. His life and teachings are narrated in the 5th Canto of Shrimad Bhagavatam.
chief of the six Gosvamis (intimate associates of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu) known as "Rasacarya" or "the great teacher of the subject of rasa". Founder of the Radha-Govindaji Temple in Vrndavana and author of Bhakti-Rasamrta-Sindhu, Vidagdha Madhava, Shri Upadesamrta and many other superlative devotional literatures.
the principles of eternal existence (sat), knowledge/cognizance (cit) and bliss (ananda).
a bonafide spiritual master.
a pure devotee of Shri Krishna; one who has taken absolute shelter of the Lord.
keeping the company of sadhus.
the fifth and youngest of the five Pandava brothers. He was the son of Madri.
being equal and impartial to all; one of the qualities of a sadhu.
equality of vision toward all living entities.
the eternal, intrinsic function of the individual living entity, i.e., devotional service to the Supreme Lord. Also called Bhagavata-dharma.
a follower of sanatana-dharma.
ablutions performed at the three junctions of the day (dawn, midday and dusk).
minister who obtained a boon from Vyasadeva Muni, allowing him a mystical vision of the events unfolding at the site of the battle of Kuruksetra, so as to narrate the same to Dhrtarastra.
expansion of Lord Siva. Fulfilling the desire of Lord Vishnu, he promulgated the philosophy of undifferentiated monism in order to reinstate the authority of the Vedas, which had been negated by Buddhism.
congregational chanting of the Holy Name; see also kirtana.
the seven rsis of the Vedas. They are sons of Lord Brahma.
"that which regulates"; sacred, divine scripture.
eternal existence; see also Saccidananda
the material quality, or mode, of goodness.
having the attributes of the mode of goodness (Sattva-guna).
the planet of Lord Brahma.
truthfulness; one of the four kinds of piety: tapah, saucam, daya and satyam (austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness). The only kind of piety remaining in the Kali-yuga, in the form of the Holy Name.
the first of the four eras (catur-yuga) lasting 1,728,000 years. The lifespan of a human being during Satya-yuga was 100,000 years. The dharma of the Satya-yuga was meditation. All four kinds of piety (tapah, saucam, daya and satyam or austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness) were present during this era.
instructing spiritual master.
wife of Lord Ramacandra.
great Vaishnava demigod who is the controller of tamo-guna. Also called Mahadeva.
a form of Sanskrit verse, originally composed by the author of the Ramayana, Shri Valmiki Muni.
remembrance of the Holy Name, Form, Attributes and Pastimes of Supreme Lord.
(1) those brahmanas who are well versed in smrti; (2) proponents of the karma-kanda section of the Vedas.
"that which is remembered"; (1) literatures supplementary to the Vedas and Upanisads, such as the Mahabharata, Ramayana and the Puranas. (2) smrti-grantha.
literatures that delineate religious codes of behavior.
hearing about the Holy Name, Form, Attributes and Pastimes of the Supreme Lord.
one's ultimate good.
appellations of respect for great personalities.
great Vaishnava saint who wrote Chaitanya-manjusa, a commentary on Shrimad Bhagavatam.
sublime, pure devotional literature describing, among other things, the creation of the world, the incarnations of Shri Krishna and the wonderful pastimes of Krishna and His intimate devotees. The distilled essence of all Vedic knowledge. Also known as Bhagavata Purana.
Incarnation of Narada Muni in Chaitanya-lila. Among other things, he is renowned for the all-night kirtanas held in the courtyard of his home. See also Pancatattva.
"that which is heard"; refers to the Vedas and Upanisads.
the divine disc of Lord Vishnu.
a pure devotee of Supreme Lord Shri Krishna
pure devotion to Supreme Lord Shri Krishna.
the laborer class, including artisans and craftsmen. One of the varnas of the varnasrama system.
the great devotee sage who narrated Shrimad Bhagavatam to Maharaja Pariksit.
the residence of Lord Vishnu in the material universe.
having the attributes of the mode of ignorance (Tamo-guna).
the material quality, or mode, of ignorance.
the marginal energy of the Supreme Lord; the jivatmas, or individual living beings, are situated at the tata, or boundary line, between the internal and the external potencies and have the tendency to go toward either the spiritual realm or the material world.
austerity; one of the four kinds of piety: tapah, saucam, daya, and satyam (austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness).
a day of the lunar month.
the second of the four eras (catur-yuga) lasting 1,296,000 years. The lifespan of a human being during Treta-yuga was 10,000 years. The yuga-dharma of the Treta-yuga was sacrifice. Three of the four kinds of piety (saucam, daya and satyam or cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness) were present during this era.
one who carries a triple staff, indicating complete dedication of body, mind and words to Supreme Lord Shri Krishna, i.e., a Vaishnava sannyasi.
the three primal material qualities or "modes". See also sattva-guna, rajo-guna and tamo-guna.
see Vrnda Devi.
disciple of Brhaspati and intimate associate of Lord Krishna in Dvaraka.
a mundane designation.
philosophical portion of the Vedas that must be learned at the foot of a spiritual master. There are 108 Upanisads, eleven of which are principal.
bhakti performed as per the injunctions of the scriptures.
realm of the spiritual planets, where there is no anxiety.
a pure devotee of Shri Vishnu/Krishna.
pure devotion to Shri Vishnu/Krishna; the eternal and natural function of the living being.
the mercantile/agricultural class; their function is to maintain the economic affairs of society according to the Vedic principles; one of the varnas of the varnasrama system.
Vamsi dasa Babaji Maharaja
great renunciate devotee who entered the eternal lila of Shri Krishna in 1944.
a person in the retired order of life.
section of the Mahabharata that narrates the twelve-year exile of the Pandavas in the forest.
any of the four social classes within the varnasrama system (namely, brahmana, ksatriya, Vaisya and sudra).
Vedic social system consisting of four major categories of varna or social class (namely, brahmana, ksatriya, Vaisya and sudra) and four categories of asramas or orders of life (namely, brahmacari, grhastha, vanacari and sannyasi).
One of Krishna's fathers in Krishna-lila. His other father is Nanda Maharaja.
one of the holy names of Shri Krishna, defining His relationship as the son of Vasudeva and also referring to Him as the "One Who Dwells Everywhere".
"books of knowledge"; the sacred scriptures of ancient India covering all branches of knowledge.
referring to the Vedas or things connected with them.
an expansion of Krishna. He is the compiler of the Vedic literatures.
an object of enjoyment.
great Vaishnava saint noted for his commentaries on Shrimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita. He is the author of numerous beautiful devotional songs, and literatures such as Shri Krishna-bhavanamrta, Madhurya-kadambini and many others.
one of the holy names of Shri Krishna, referring to His all-pervasiveness. Also called Narayana.
the holy site of Krishna's pastimes on earth, non-different from His abode in Vaikuntha. It consists of twelve sacred forests, Vrndavana being one of them.
the holy residents of Vraja-dhama.
expansion of Radharani who adopted the form of the sacred Tulasi plant and also the Gandaki River.
that place where the Name, Fame, Qualities and Paraphernalia of Supreme Lord Krishna are always present; the transcendental dwelling place of Shri Krishna in the spiritual world where the mood of sweetness prevails, which is identical with the town of Vrndavana in Northwest India, where Krishna performed His pastimes 5000 years ago. Vrndavana means "the forest where Shrimati Vrnda Devi grows". See also Vraja-dhama.
Vrndavana dasa Thakura
16th century author of the Chaitanya Bhagavata, a sacred literature narrating the holy life and pastimes of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
refers to the general area of Vrndavana.
see Vedavyasa Muni
sacrifice or the performance of a sacrifice. Also a Name for Krishna.
the messengers of the god of death.
the realm of the god of death.
the god of death. Also called Dharma-raja.
the mother of Shri Krishna in Krishna-lila.
"communion; the yoking of two things together"; (1) any practice with a basis in meditation and sacrifice that seeks to re-unite the soul with God, prominent of which are union through work (karma-yoga), through knowledge (jnana) and through devotion (bhakti-yoga) (2) the practice of different bodily postures and restraint of breath to achieve control over the mental faculties.
the acquisition and protection of property.
one who follows the path of yoga.
the eldest of the five Pandava brothers. He was the son of Dharma-raja (Yamaraja) and the embodiment of justice on earth.
an era; see Catur-Yuga.
the prescribed method of worship for a particular yuga. The Yuga-dharma for the present era (kali-yuga) is chanting the Holy Name. See also Satya-yuga, Treta-yuga, Dvapara-yuga and Kali-yuga.