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Lord Krishna instructs Uddhava.
The Supreme Lord replied, “My dear Uddhava, all that you have said is quite correct. In response to the prayers of Brahma, I descended into this world. Now, because My mission is complete, he wishes for Me to return to My residence in Vaikuntha. Because of the brahmanas’ curse, the Yadu dynasty will surely perish, while fighting among themselves, and on the seventh day from today, the ocean will rise up and submerge Dvaraka.”
“My dear sinless Uddhava, when I abandon this earth, it will become bereft of all piety, and so, you should not remain here. Give up all attachment to your friends and relatives and just fix your mind upon Me. While traversing this world, you should understand that whatever you perceive is a temporary manifestation only. While remaining unbewildered by the various forms of maya, you should consider the internal relationship of everything with the Absolute Truth. In other words, you must constantly try to see how I am situated in all things, and how everything is situated in Me.”
Uddhava offered his obeisances to Lord Krishna and said, “You have so kindly described the futility of trying to enjoy the temporary manifestations of maya. But, for those who are attached to bodily sense gratification, the renunciation of such desires is very difficult.”
“My dear Lord, because I am fully merged in the bodily conception of life, please instruct Your poor servant, so that I can easily carry out Your instructions. Being very weary of material life and tormented by its distresses, I surrender unto You, Who are the true friend of all living entities.”
Lord Krishna then said, “An intelligent person who expertly analyzes the actual situation of material existence can act as his own instructing spiritual master. By applying sound logic to his astute perceptions, he can elevate himself to a position beyond the inauspicious life of gross sense gratification.”
“My dear Uddhava, even though I cannot be perceived by the material senses, I can still be approached by the wise use of one’s perceptions and intelligence. In this regard, I shall describe to you an ancient history regarding the meeting of the great King Yadu with an avadhuta.”
Maharaja Yadu once spotted a young, brahmana avadhuta, who was wandering about freely, of his own accord. Being himself a very learned person, the King approached the avadhuta and inquired, “O brahmana, although you do not appear to be engaged in any particular spiritual discipline, I can understand that you have somehow or other acquired great wisdom. Please disclose to me how it is that you have come to such a mature understanding.”
“Why do you wander about like this, acting just like an innocent child? Mostly, people are engaged in working very hard, in the hopes of achieving success in some material or religious field, with the aim of enjoying wealth or fame. But, even though you are quite handsome, eloquent, expert and learned, you are doing nothing and seem to desire nothing. Indeed, you appear like some kind of stupefied, ghostly creature! While everyone in this world is burning within the great fire of lust and greed, you are like an elephant that had escaped from the fire by standing within the water of the Ganga. O brahmana, you wander about alone, avoiding all kinds of material enjoyment. Please tell me what causes you to feel such great ecstasy within yourself.”
The brahmana avadhuta replied, “O King, I took shelter of twenty-four gurus, and after gaining great wisdom from them, I now wander about in a liberated conditioned.”
The avadhuta proceeded to describe his twenty-four spiritual masters in this way:
1) The earth. The earth teaches us tolerance, for in spite of being exploited in so many ways, it continues to provide all the necessities of life. The mountains and trees on the earth’s surface appear to make service unto others the sole reason for their existence. A sober person, even when greatly harassed, should not become distracted from his chosen path. He should understand that the aggressors are acting helplessly, according to their past karma.
2) The air. The air teaches us how to live in this world without attachment, and thus avoid material entanglement. The wind blows over a fragrant garden, and then it blows over a pile of decomposing garbage. A breeze sometimes carries droplets of water that refresh those who are suffering from excessive heat. Then again, the breeze fuels a great fire that destroys an entire forest. Yet, the wind always remains unchanged and unaffected by the objects that it contacts. In the same way, a devotee’s mind should remain fixed upon Lord Krishna, and should not become disturbed by the auspicious and inauspicious situations that one inevitably contacts. A devotee knows very well that he is not the material body, and that he should not be disturbed by the dualities of material existence.
3) The sky. The sky teaches us that the soul always remains untouched and unaffected by matter, even while living in this material world. There are so many atmospheric disturbances, such as violent storms and tornadoes, but the unlimited sky is far beyond all this and unaffected. Similarly, all things are situated within the Supreme Lord, but He is unaffected by the workings of His various energies, and is always transcendental.
4) Water. A saintly person is just like water, pure and gentle. A flowing stream makes a pleasing sound. Rivers, lakes and oceans are all very pleasing to see. Similarly, a pure devotee is most pleasing to see, his talks are very attractive, and his association is purifying.
5) Fire. A saintly person can be compared to fire. Even if he happens to eat contaminated food, a saintly person is not sinfully affected, just as fire does not become impure, even while burning filthy things. Fire can act very powerfully, and thus, it should be handled very carefully. A saintly person has also become very powerful, as a result of the austerities that he has performed, and thus, he should also be treated very respectfully. Fire is sometimes manifest, and sometimes it remains concealed. A pure devotee generally conceals his exalted position from ordinary society, but sometimes he acts as a spiritual master, just for the welfare of others.
6) The moon. The moon appears to wax and wane, but in reality, it remains as it is- unchanging. In the same way, the soul is unaffected by the six transformations of the material body.
7) The sun. The sun evaporates water from the surface of the earth and then, later on, returns it in the form of rain. Similarly, a devotee takes many things from the Lord’s material nature, and then returns them as offerings in devotional service. The sun is reflected on numerous shiny surfaces, and to the foolish observer, it may appear to have become divided into many. Factually, the sun is one, and similarly, the Absolute Truth is undivided, although expanding in various ways.
8) The pigeon. There was once a pigeon that lived in the forest along with his wife. They had built a nest within a tree and had lived there for several years, and had become very devoted to each other. Both husband and wife were attracted by each other’s bodily features, affectionate glances and moods, and thus their hearts had become bound together. They foolishly trusted that their loving relationship would continue, and they were so attached to one another that they did everything together. Whenever she wanted something, the female pigeon would smilingly beg for it, and her husband would then satisfy her, even if it entailed great personal endeavor. Because the male pigeon had never learned to control his senses, the female pigeon captured his heart and engaged him as her faithful servant.
Then, in due course of time, the wife delivered her eggs in their nest. Baby pigeons were then born, having tender limbs and feathers. Such is the material situation created by the inconceivable potency of the Supreme Lord. The pigeon parents came to love their children very much, taking great pleasure in their delicate bodies, their awkward chirping, and their clumsy attempts at flying. In this way, the foolish birds’ hearts became fully bound to each other, being completely bewildered by Vishnu-maya, the external energy of the Supreme Lord.
One day, the pigeon and his wife went wandering in the forest, being very anxious to nicely feed their children. At this time, a hunter came to where the baby birds were playing near their nest. After spreading his net, the hunter very easily captured all of the baby pigeons in a short time. When she heard her children crying out for help, the female pigeon rushed home in great anguish. Being bound by material affection, she rushed toward her children, forgetful of her own self. As a result, the hunter easily captured her as well.
Following close behind, when the male pigeon saw how his wife and children, who were as dear to him as life itself, were bound in the net, he lamented very wretchedly.
The male pigeon said, “O, my life is finished! What a great fool I was that I never seriously executed pious activities. Now, my whole family- which is the basis of my religiosity, economic development and sense enjoyment- faces destruction! I feel so much pain, being separated from my wife and children! Why should I continue to live?”
Being stunned with grief, the male pigeon was also very easily captured by the cruel hunter, who then returned home, feeling very satisfied. From the pigeon, one should learn that when a person becomes too attached to his family, seeking satisfaction in sexual pleasure, he is doomed to suffer greatly. The human form of life gives one the opportunity for ultimate liberation. But if, like the foolish pigeon, one simply dedicates himself to family life, then he is just like someone who climbs to a very high place, simply to stumble and fall.
9) The Python. The python lies down, and while remaining inactive, it accepts whatever food comes of its own accord. Just as distress comes of its own accord, happiness is also predestined. For this reason, a saintly person should not work much for bodily maintenance. Indeed, one who endeavors for self-realization should remain patient and peaceful, even if no food is easily available, and he should be prepared to fast for many days.
10) The ocean. During the rainy season, many rivers rush into the ocean, and in the summer, most of these rivers become dry. The ocean remains unchanged, however, and a devotee should be like this. Sometimes, he may prosper and sometimes, he may find himself to be destitute, but a devotee remains undisturbed and fixed in his Krishna consciousness.
11) The moth. Being attracted by fire, the moth rushes to its destruction. The illusory form of a woman is like fire. A person who has not intelligently learned to control his senses, will feel attraction while seeing a well-dressed woman, who moves sensuously and smiles sweetly, and while hearing her enticing speech. Being eager for sense enjoyment, he loses his good intelligence as his mind becomes captivated, and so he falls down deeper into the darkness of material existence. A woman attracts a man through all five senses, and thus she leads him to his destruction. Similarly, a moth is attracted to the form of fire, a bee is attracted by the smell of a flower, a fish is hooked because of it’s attraction for the bait, an elephant is caught when it comes to touch a captive she-elephant, and a deer is attracted by a hunter’s sweet music.
12) The honeybee. As a honeybee collects a little nectar from many flowers, a saintly person should go door to door, accepting only a little food from each household, just enough to keep body and soul together. Just as a honeybee takes only the nectar from flowers, a person should just take the essence from the revealed scriptures, Krishna consciousness. One should not become an intellectual donkey, carrying around heavy loads of useless knowledge. On the other hand, a saintly person should not imitate the honeybees in the hive that eagerly make more and more honey just to be stored. A sadhu should never think, “This food I will eat now, and the rest I will save for tomorrow.” Instead, he should use his hands as his plate, and eat only as much as fits in them. His only food container should be his stomach, and his only stock of food should be that which easily fills his belly.
13) The elephant. Desiring to touch the she-elephant that the hunter has displayed before him, the male elephant falls into a pit and is captured. Taking note of this, a saintly person should never touch a young girl, or even a wooden doll in the shape of a girl.
14) The honey thief. The bees work so hard to produce honey that is then taken away by someone who will enjoy it or else sell it. Considering this, a wise man should not be greedy to accumulate more and more. Just as hunters take all of the honey that is produced by the bees, brahmacharis and sannyasis are entitled to utilize the property that has been accumulated by householders.
15) The deer. The deer becomes captivated by the hunter’s sweet music, and then is easily killed. Taking a lesson from this, a saintly person should avoid all mundane music, song and dance, because it may cause him to fall prey to sense enjoyment, as happened to the rishi, Rishyashringa.
16) The fish. Lured by tasty bait, a fish is caught on the fisherman’s hook. Taking a lesson from this, a saintly person should carefully consider the danger involved in trying to gratify the tongue.
17) Pingala. Long ago, in the city of Videha, there lived a prostitute named Pingala. At night, she stood outside her house, hoping to attract a lover, because she was very anxious to get money. One night, as she studied all the men that were passing by, she thought as follows: “This man has money and can easily pay the price. I’m sure that he would enjoy my company very much.”
Many men came and went as Pingala stood in her doorway. Prostitution was her only means of livelihood, and so she anxiously thought, “This man looks very rich, but he’s not stopping. Anyway, someone else will stop and pay me a lot of money for my love.”
And yet, no one approached Pingala, and without getting any customer, she could not sleep. Again and again, she nervously started walking toward the street, and then again, turned around to go back inside her house. In this way, midnight arrived, and due to moroseness, Pingala’s face betrayed her sadness. Indeed, Pingala became more and more disappointed until, at last, she somehow began to feel detachment from her situation. Along with that detachment, happiness arose within Pingala’s heart.
Feeling disgusted with her life, Pingala gave up all hopes for material happiness, and in that mood, she sang the following song: “Oh, how bewildered I had become! Because I had failed to control my mind, I was hoping for sexual pleasure from even the most useless of men. How foolish I was! I gave up the service of that person Who is most dear, the Supreme Lord of the universe! Although He is within my heart, I had completely neglected Him. Instead, I foolishly rendered service to insignificant men that could never satisfy my real desires, but instead brought me only misery. I tortured my own soul, while selling my body to lusty, greedy men- who are themselves objects of pity.”
“This body is like my house and the bones are like its wooden beams and pillars. It is full of stool and urine, and the nine doors excrete foul substances. Who, besides me, could be so foolish? I dedicated myself to this body, hoping to get love and pleasure from it.”
“The Supreme Lord is the most dear person because He is the Supreme Soul. I shall now pay the price of complete surrender, and by thus purchasing the Lord, I will enjoy with Him just like Lakshmi. Men can provide some gratification for women- but what to speak of them, even the demigods in heaven have a beginning and an end.”
“Although I was stubbornly hoping, for so long, to enjoy this material world, detachment has now arisen in my heart. Therefore, Lord Vishnu must have been pleased with me for something that I had done in the past. The great suffering that I had endured caused me to become indifferent to this world. Now I can appreciate that my suffering was actually the cause of my good fortune. This was the Lord’s special mercy upon me and now I shall take shelter of Him. Who else but the Supreme Lord can deliver one from the dark well of material existence, where everyone is within the jaws of the serpent of time?”
Having made up her mind in this way, Pingala gave up her anxieties and then peacefully slept in her bed.
18) The kurara bird. There was once a flock of kurara birds (hawks) that could not find any prey. Being famished, when they saw a weaker kurara bird, having some meat, they attacked it. Seeing the great danger that had befallen him, the weak kurara bird gave up the meat and in this way, became relieved of his distress. Considering this example, one should give up all possessiveness and attachment, because it ultimately leads to misery.
19) The child. Children, and those who have a childish mentality, have no anxiety in regard to reputation, family and social responsibilities, etc. Saintly persons are similarly disinterested in such material considerations because they are engaged on the spiritual platform.
20) The young girl. Once, a young girl of marriageable age was alone at home because her family had gone out for the day. Some men then arrived at the house, hoping to gain the young girl’s hand in marriage. The girl received them respectfully and then went into the kitchen. As she began to husk the rice, the girl’s conch shell bangles made a lot of noise. This alarmed the young girl, for she thought that if the guest’s heard her engaging in such menial work, they would consider her family to be poor. She therefore broke some of the bangles so that only two remained on each arm. Still, as she continued to work, the bangles collided with one another and continued to make some noise. The girl then took one more bangle from each arm, so that only one remained. In this way, she was able to continue her work silently.
The brahmana avadhuta then said, “O King, I travel about constantly, learning the true nature of this world, and I had personally witnessed the lesson taught by this young girl. When many people live together they will certainly quarrel. Even when just two persons live together, they will talk frivolously and sometimes disagree. So, just to avoid such disturbances, it is best for one to live alone. At least, if one is a devotee, he should avoid the association of non-devotees.
21) The arrow maker. There was once an arrow maker. One day, as he was absorbed in the task of making a straight arrow, he did not even notice that the king had passed nearby. When one has fixed his mind upon the Supreme Lord, then his mind becomes truly controlled and detached from material dualities.
22) The serpent. The serpent does not build its own house. Rather, it uses a dwelling that was constructed with great labor by some other creature. Considering this example, saintly persons should not endeavor for achieving personal material enjoyment. As the same time, they need not renounce the things that the materialists had worked so hard to accumulate. Rather, devotees should utilize all of the materialists’ wonderful achievements, for the purpose of better serving the Supreme Lord.
23) The spider. The spider manifests thread from its mouth He then builds his web with it, and at last, he withdraws it. In a similar way, the Supreme Lord manifests the cosmos by expanding His potency from within Himself, maintains it for some time, and then withdraws it within Himself.
The Supreme Lord is One without a second. He creates this universe without any assistance, for He is the reservoir of all potencies. The subtle pradhana, which is the basis of all creation, is conserved within the Lord after annihilation, in a neutral condition of equilibrium, and thus it is non-different from Him. The Supreme Personality of Godhead displays His form of Time (Kala) at the time of creation, which then agitates His material energy (Maya), which is composed of three modes. Thus, the mahat-tattva is created, and thereafter, the variegated universe. The universe thus rests within the mahat-tattva, and by its potency, the conditioned souls undergo material existence.
24) The wasp. A large wasp once captured a weaker insect and held it captive within his hive. Being overwhelmed by fear, the insect constantly meditated upon his captor, so that his consciousness became wasp-like. Thus, after death, that insect achieved a wasp body in his next life. From this we can understand that whether out of love, hate or fear, if one fixes his mind in complete concentration upon a particular form, he will certainly attain that very form in his next life.
The brahmana avadhuta then said, “O King, all of these spiritual masters have given me great wisdom. Now, please listen to what I have learned from my own body. The material body is also a spiritual master, because it must always come to a painful end. Of course, the human body has great value as well, because with it one can acquire spiritual knowledge. But, I never forget that this body will ultimately be consumed by others or burnt in the fire, and thus I move about in this world in a mood of detachment. “
“A tree produces the seeds of future trees before dying. Similarly the human body manifests the seed of the next body before dying, in the form of one’s accumulated karma. The senses of the body constantly pull one in different directions because they all desire gratification. Still, one should accept only the bare necessities for the maintenance of the body, and this should be done without attachment.”
The avadhuta brahmana then concluded, “Having learned from these many instructing gurus, I remain enlightened, renounced, and without false ego, as I wander over the earth.”
After saying this, the avadhuta accepted obeisances and worship from King Yadu and then departed. This avadhuta brahmana may actually have been Lord Dattatreya because in the second canto of Shrimad-Bhagavatam it is said that He had instructed many Yadus.
Lord Krishna said, “ After hearing from the avadhuta brahmana, King Yadu, Our ancestor, became free from all material attachment, as his mind remained fixed on the spiritual platform.”
“My dear Uddhava, one should execute devotional service unto Me, while at the same time performing his duties within the varnashrama system.”
“A devotee must always keep in mind the fact that conditioned life is just like a dream. In a dream, whatever pleasurable objects we see are actually useless. A conditioned soul, who is asleep to his spiritual identity, also sees many objects of gratification that are creations of the Lord’s illusory energy. These also have no permanent existence, and one who meditates upon them engages his intelligence uselessly.”
“One should approach a spiritual master who knows Me, and who, being My bona-fide representative, is non-different from Me. As a disciple, one should serve the spiritual master without false prestige, never considering himself to be the doer of activities. With a feeling of loving friendship toward his guru, the student should always desire advancement, and thus should never allow himself to become deviated. By always keeping his real self-interest in mind, a devotee should remain detached from wife, home, children, wealth, etc.”
“Just as a flame is different from the wick that it burns to give illumination, so the seer within is different from the material body that it illuminates with consciousness. Such an understanding is also taught by various classes of impersonal and atheistic philosophers, however.”
“My dear Uddhava, never fall under the sway of such bogus teachers, for such a mistake will greatly prolong your miserable material existence.”
“There are also many philosophers who say that the natural position of the living entity is to engage in fruitive activity. Even if this idea appeals to you, please consider the following. Those who act fruitively are hoping for continual happiness. But, it is practically seen that such fruitive workers are very rarely satisfied, and indeed, most are quite unhappy. This proves that fruitive workers are not really in control of their destiny. If someone is under the control of another, how can he expect to achieve personal happiness from his work?
“In this world, it is often seen that very intelligent persons are unhappy, whereas complete fools sometimes appear quite satisfied. Suppose that someone knew very well how to achieve happiness and avoid distress- still, he would have to face death. Factually, the conditioned souls are just like condemned persons who are being led to their execution. What happiness could such condemned persons derive from material objects or the gratification of their senses? In other words, the fact that death is inevitable should encourage one to become determined in spiritual life.”
“If a person performs Vedic sacrifices correctly and painstakingly, without error, he can go to the heavenly planets and enjoy life there just like the demigods. In Svarga, he can travel at will in a glowing airplane, which is the result of all the pious acts that he had performed in his last life. Being dressed very nicely, he enjoys life in the celestial gardens, while being praised by the songs of the Gandharvas, and surrounded by heavenly goddesses. Being so comfortably situated, however, he does not consider that he is exhausting the fruits of his past pious activities and will soon fall back down to earth, against his will.”
“If a person engages in sinful activities, either due to bad association or having failed to control his senses, he will certainly become filled with material desires. He will become greedy, aggressive, miserly, and always eager to exploit the bodies of women. And, by slaughtering innocent animals, he fully paves his way to hell.”
“From heaven down to hell, everyone, up to the level of Brahma, is afraid of Me in My form of Time. It is false egotism to think of oneself as the actual doer. All activities are performed by the material senses, and the living entity is merely the witness. It is the three modes of material nature that initiate actions, while the living being simply reaps the good and bad results of such work. Still, the living entity has some minute independence or responsibility, for he can choose how he associates with nature’s modes.”
Uddhava then said, “My Lord, a conditioned soul is situated within a material body and surrounded by the three modes of material nature. His current activities are directed under the influence of these modes and thus he experiences happiness and distress. How can the conditioned soul possibly become free from such terrible bondage? If the soul is really transcendental and non-material, then how could he ever become bound by the external energy? The living entities are sometimes described as eternally conditioned and sometimes as eternally liberated.”
“My dear Lord, You are the best of those who are expert in answering philosophical questions, so please explain all of this to me.”
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said, “My dear Uddhava, the living entities are sometimes described as conditioned and sometimes described as liberated. Actually, though, the soul is never really bound or liberated from bondage. Material existence is just like a dream that is created by My inferior nature, and thus it has no essential reality. Knowledge and ignorance, which respectively award liberation and bondage to the jivas, who are part and parcel of Me, are both products of maya. To illustrate this, I shall give you the example of two birds.”
“Somehow, two birds had come to nest together in the same tree. These two birds are friends, and of a similar nature, but while one bird is busy eating the fruit of this tree, the other, who is of superior potency, does not taste the fruit. The tree represents the material body, the eating bird is the conditioned soul, and the bird who does not eat the fruit is the omniscient Supreme Lord.”
“When the soul is conditioned, he accepts the body as himself, or else feels that he is situated in the body. But, when the soul is enlightened, he no longer identifies with the body. Indeed, he no longer feels in exactly the same way, that he is even situated in the body. Thus, a liberated soul does not at all believe himself to be the performer of bodily activities, and he no longer suffers or enjoys the reactions of work.”
“Sometimes, for no apparent reason, one’s body is attacked by animals or cruel persons. At other times, one may be offered a great deal of respect. A person who neither becomes angry when attacked, nor elated when worshiped, is understood to be actually liberated. Being endowed with equal vision, a liberated soul is not affected by that which is so-called good or bad, proper or improper. Therefore, he does not praise or criticize anyone.”
“My dear Uddhava, that man is certainly most miserable who maintains a cow that gives no milk, an unchaste wife, a body that is completely dependent on others, useless children, or wealth that is not properly utilized. Similarly, one who laboriously studies the Vedas without fixing his mind upon Me is most unfortunate. Uddhava, if you cannot free your mind of all disturbances and absorb it completely in Me, then perform all of your activities as an offering to Me, without trying to personally enjoy the results of your work. In the association of pure devotees, if one always engages in devotional service, then he will quickly make spiritual advancement and go back home, back to Godhead.”
Uddhava inquired, “My dear Lord, what kind of person do you consider to be a true devotee? And, what kind of devotional service is appreciated by great devotees as worthy of being offered to You?”
“My Lord, You are the Supreme Brahman, transcendental to material nature, and yet, being controlled by Your devotees’ love, You accept many forms by incarnating according to their desires.”
The Supreme Lord said, “A devotee who is merciful to all and never injures others- who is tolerant even of an aggressor- who is forgiving and free from envy- whose behavior is always pleasing and never harsh- who is free from the desire for prestige and honor- who accepts Me as the only shelter- who is expert in reviving the Krishna consciousness of others- who is free from possessiveness- and who dedicates his activities for the welfare of others is considered by Me to be the most learned of men. Such a devotee renounces all ordinary religious duties so that he can completely take shelter of My lotus feet. A devotee may or may not understand Me properly, but if he worships Me with pure love, then I consider him to be the best.”
“My dear Uddhava, one can give up false pride and prestige by engaging himself in My devotional service. The devotee should consider himself to be My eternal servant, and he should offer Me whatever he may acquire. He should serve both My Deity form and My pure devotees. He should always try to hear and chant about My transcendental qualities and activities with love and faith. A devotee should observe all the festivals, such as Janmastami, as well as religious vows such as Ekadashi.”
“A devotee should work for the construction and maintenance of My temples, as well as the gardens, etc. that are used for My service. A devotee should never advertise his devotional activities, so that his service may not become the cause of false pride. One should never offer Me anything that has been offered to or used by others. Whatever is most cherished, should be offered to Me, for such an offering qualifies one for eternal life.”
“My dear Uddhava, because you are My servant, well-wisher and friend, I shall now tell you the most confidential knowledge. By associating with pure devotees, one can destroy his attachment for all kinds of sense objects. This process alone brings Me under the control of My devotee- not the performance of ashtanga-yoga, the acceptance of sannyasa, the performance of severe austerities, or any amount of pious acts. My association, or the association of My pure devotees is so valuable that previously, many ignorant persons were able to achieve My Supreme Abode by such contact, even though they had not performed great austerities.”
“Advanced yogis are able to merge their minds in a trance of self-realization so that they are no longer aware of material names or forms. In the same way, the gopis of Vrindavana were so attached to Me that they could not even think of their own bodies, and so what to speak of anything else. They considered Me to be their most charming lover, without even knowing My actual position. And yet, by intimately associating with Me, the gopis were able to attain Me.”
Shri Uddhava said, “My dear Lord, I have carefully heard all that You have said, but a doubt remains within my heart and I am confused. You have explained so many disciplines that I cannot understand exactly what I should do.”
The Supreme Lord said, “Uddhava, while speaking to you, I was actually instructing everyone. For this reason, all of My instructions were not meant for you.”
“I am situated within everyone’s heart. I can be perceived in My subtle form because it is I that control the mind. I also assume a gross form as the sound of the Vedas. By the continuous chanting and hearing of the transcendental vibration, I gradually become manifest.”
“The material body can be compared to a tree, because it sustains the conditioned soul’s material existence. A tree first blossoms and then produces fruit, just as the body, by its actions, produces the fruit of happiness and distress. This tree has two seeds [sinful and pious activities], hundreds of roots [the living entities’ innumerable desires], three lower trunks [the three modes of nature], and five upper trunks [the five gross material elements]. It produces five flowers [the five sense objects- sound, form, touch, taste and aroma], it has eleven branches [the ten knowledge-acquiring and working senses and the mind], and a nest made by two birds [the individual soul and the Supreme Soul]. The tree is covered by three kinds of bark [air, bile and mucus], gives two kinds of fruit [happiness and distress], and extends up to the sun. Those who are lusty after material enjoyment eat one kind of fruit, and the swanlike sannyasis eat the other.”
“With the help of a bona-fide spiritual master, one can understand that the entire cosmic manifestation is an expansion of the Supreme Lord’s illusory potency. With the sharpened ax of this knowledge, one must cut off all attachment to this material world. Then, at last, after becoming fully engaged in the Lord’s devotional service, one should give up that ax [analytic knowledge of this material world].”
“The three modes of material nature- goodness, passion and ignorance- are connected to one’s material intelligence, and not to the soul itself. As the wheel of time continues to turn, nature’s modes compete for supremacy, and for this reason, the simple cultivation of goodness proves to be ultimately useless. It is only useful if one takes advantage of the cultivation of goodness to step onto the transcendental platform of purified goodness. If one devotes himself to the practice of Krishna consciousness, while maintaining a lifestyle in the mode of goodness, then the influence of passion and ignorance and their resultant irreligion, can be quickly vanquished.”
“Great acharyas have always praised association with the mode of goodness, while strongly criticizing association with the mode of ignorance and showing indifference to the mode of passion. Until one is firmly situated in realized knowledge of the spirit soul, he must carefully cultivate a life-style in the mode of goodness. In this regard, one must carefully use discrimination with respect to the following ten items- religious books, water, association with others, place, time, activities, birth, meditation, chanting of mantras, and purificatory rituals.”
Sometimes, the friction of bamboo causes a fire that destroys the cause of the bamboo (the bamboo forest). Similarly, by properly utilizing the body and mind to cultivate enlightenment, the influence of the modes of nature (which are the causes of the body and mind) can be eliminated.”
Shri Uddhava inquired, “My dear Lord Krishna, people generally understand that material life will bring them future unhappiness, and yet they still try very hard to enjoy it. How is it that even a person in knowledge may act just like a dog or an ass?”
The Supreme Lord said, “A so-called intelligent person, at more sober moments, does realize that material life simply results in misery. But, because he identifies with the material body and mind, he once again comes under the sway of passion. The mind is created by the mode of goodness, but when it is polluted by passion, it becomes absorbed in materialistic plan making. One who is actually intelligent should drag his mind away from thoughts of sense gratification and engage it in meditation upon Me, by the practice of yoga. The actual yoga system is taught by My devotees, headed by Sanaka-kumara.”
Shri Uddhava said, “My dear Keshava, when did You teach this yoga system to Sanaka-kumara, and in what form? Please tell me about this.”
To reply, Lord Krishna described the history of Sanaka Rishi in the following way. Once, the mental sons of Brahma, headed by Sanaka, inquired from their father, “O Lord, people’s minds are naturally attracted to the material sense objects, and the sense objects enter into the mind as desires. How can a person who desires liberation nullify this natural relationship between the mind and the sense objects?”
Lord Brahma thought about this very seriously, but because his intelligence was not pure, having been affected by the activities of creation, he could not understand how to answer perfectly. Wanting very much to understand the truth of the matter, however, Brahma fixed his mind upon the Supreme Lord. In response, the Lord appeared before Brahma in His form as Hansa. All of the assembled rishis placed Brahma at the front and approached Hansa-avatara to worship His lotus feet. Then, they asked, “My Lord, Who are You?”
Shri Hansa replied, “O brahmanas, if you think that I am a jiva like yourselves, and that all souls are one, then how would it be possible for your question to even be asked? Or, what would be the use of such an inquiry?”
In other words, the Lord is asking, “If I am not superior to you, then what would be the use of My instructions?”
In this way, Lord Hansa first of all refuted the impersonal conception of the Absolute. Next, He refuted the conception that the living entity is the material body, and then the idea that God is so far beyond the material creation and aloof from it, that it is useless to try and understand Him. Even though Lord Hansa appeared to be finding fault with the sages’ question, ‘Who are You?’ He was actually preparing the ground for a more advanced understanding.
The Lord then said, “First of all, it must be understood that both the mind and the sense objects are merely designations that cover the pure soul, who is My eternal part and parcel. It is the natural function of the mind and the sense objects to mutually interact. But because both are ultimately useless for the spirit soul, they should be completely given up.”
“A person who accepts the material mind will always consider himself to be the doer of activities, and the enjoyer as well, and he will be irresistibly attracted to all kinds of sense gratification. But, above the mind is the intelligence, which can comprehend one’s true spiritual identity and then reject all false material conceptions. Still, the mind can never be stopped or thrown out, and so it must always be engaged in the devotional service of the Supreme Lord. In other words, the mind and sense objects can never really be separated, and the attempt to do so is artificial. It must be clearly understood that the Supreme Lord is the actual enjoyer, by constitution.”
“Waking, sleeping and deep sleep are the tree states of material existence that are experienced by the living entities. I am the fourth stage of consciousness, and when the living being is situated in Me, he automatically gives up his bondage to the material mind and sense objects. The spirit soul is not at all material, but by identification with the material body, he comes under the control of the three modes of material nature. Conversely, when the living entity ceases to identify with the material body, he becomes free from the modes’ influence.”
“One should fix his mind upon Me alone, knowing well that everything exists within Me. On the other hand, if one continues to see many different goals in life, then, even though he may seem to be a liberated soul, he is actually conditioned. By constantly keeping in mind the illusory nature of material existence, one can avoid falling again into delusion. Just as a drunkard may not understand the condition of his clothing, similarly, a devotee who is fully absorbed in Krishna consciousness and is actually self-realized does not even notice if his body is sitting or standing. He simply knows that, even though he is detached from it, the body will continue to exist for as long as it is destined, according to his previous karma.”
“My dear brahmanas, I have explained to you Sankhya (the process of philosophically distinguishing between matter and spirit) and yoga (the process of linking with the Supreme). Please understand that I am the Personality of Godhead, Lord Vishnu, and that I have appeared before you to explain your actual religious duties”
In this way, Lord Hansa finally answered the rishis’ question, “Who are You?”
Lord Krishna then said, “My dear Uddhava, when all of their doubts had been removed, the sages, headed by Sanaka, worshiped Me with devotion. Then, while Brahma and his sons looked on, I departed for My Own abode.”
Uddhava said, “My dear Lord, the Vedic literatures recommend various paths to achieve perfection. Are all of these paths equally important, or is one of them supreme?”
Lord Krishna said, “At the time of annihilation, Vedic knowledge appeared to be lost. Then, after the subsequent creation, I again spoke to Brahma the same knowledge. He imparted it to his eldest son, Manu, who in turn, taught it to the seven sages, headed by Bhrigu. From these rishis came innumerable praja in various forms- such as demigods, demons, human beings, Kindevas (human beings on another planet, who, like the demigods, are free from fatigue and perspiration), Kinnaras (kinchin nara, or a little human-like, because they have either a human head or body, but not both), and Kimpurushas (kim purusha, which means, ‘are they human?’ They are a race of monkeys that are almost like humans).”
“Due to the influence of maya, the intelligence of men is bewildered in many ways. According to one’s nature and propensity, the Vedic knowledge is presented variously. This results in innumerable philosophies that are handed down in parampara, as well as by means of custom and tradition. Some people even use the Vedic literatures to propound atheistic philosophies, just as some trees on the banks of the Ganga drink the pure water to produce poisonous fruit.”
After saying this, Lord Krishna answered Uddhava’s question by emphatically saying that pure devotional service is the only genuine path of perfection, and that all other processes are only varieties of illusion. The Lord described the exalted glories of devotional service and said, “My dear Uddhava, the unalloyed service rendered to Me by My devotees brings Me under their control. Persons engaged in Sankhya, yoga, Vedic study, pious work, austerities or renunciation can never control me in the same way. Only pure devotees who love Me, and take Me as their only goal, can obtain Me. Even persons of low birth, such as dog-eaters, can become completely purified in this way.”
Lord Krishna described the pre-eminent position of pure devotee as follows: “One who has fixed his consciousness on Me, while controlling his senses by renouncing material desires, experiences a happiness far beyond the imagination of the sense enjoyers. Such a devotee does not even care for the post of Indra or Brahma, the attainment of yoga perfections or liberation.”
“My dear Uddhava, neither Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva, Lord Sankarshana, the goddess of fortune, nor even Myself are as dear to Me as you are. It is only loving devotional service unto Me that can completely purify one’s consciousness.”
If a devotee, who has not yet fully conquered his senses, but has unflinching devotion, sometimes is attracted to sense gratification, he will not fall down from the path, because bhakti-yoga is like a great fire that burns to ashes all accidental sins committed by such a devotee. A pure devotee, however, is beyond such material attraction. His hair standing on end, his heart melting in ecstasy, and tears flowing from his eyes, symptomizes his pure condition. His speech is sometimes choked up, and he sometimes laughs and cries out loudly as he dances in ecstasy. Such a pure devotee can purify the entire universe.
When gold is smelted, it gives up its impurities. Similarly, when a spirit soul is in the fire of devotional service he becomes purified of all contamination, and returns back home, back to Godhead, to serve the Supreme Lord in the spiritual world. Just as a diseased eye may regain its sight when treated with a suitable ointment, so a devotee regains his ability to see the Supreme Lord in His spiritual form by the process of “sravanam kirtanam vishnu”.
In conclusion to this discussion, Lord Krishna gave this advice: “Giving up the association of women, and those who are overly attached to women, one should situate himself fearlessly in a solitary place and concentrate upon Me with great attention. Of all kinds of suffering and bondage that arise from material attachment, none is greater than that caused by attachment to women, and friendship with those who are too attached to women.”
Shri Uddhava asked, “My dear lotus-eyed Krishna, how should one meditate upon You, and upon which form?”
The Supreme Lord said, “The yogi should sit upon a level seat, not too high and not too low, and while keeping his body comfortably erect, he should place his hands on his lap and focus his eyes on the tip of his nose. By practicing the breathing exercises (pranayama), the yogi must move the life air progressively upward from the muladhara chakra, until it reaches the heart, where omkara is situated. Keeping the eyes half-closed, the yogi should meditate upon the lotus flower that is situated in the heart. It has eight petals and rests on an erect stalk. One should meditate upon the sun, the moon and fire- one after another- placing them within the whorl of that lotus. Then, placing My transcendental four-armed form within the fire, one should meditate upon it as the ultimate goal.”
“The Supreme Lord is gentle and cheerful, and has a complexion the color of a dark monsoon cloud. He is dressed in golden-yellow silk and He holds the conch shell, disc, club and lotus flower in His hands. On His chest are Shrivatsa and the Kaustubha jewel, and He is decorated with shark-shaped earrings, ankle bells, bracelets, an effulgent crown, and a golden belt around his upper hips. All of the parts of that beautiful form captivate the heart. The Lord’s face is further enhanced by His merciful glancing.”
“Withdrawing the senses from the sense objects, one should remain grave and self-controlled. By use of intelligence, the mind should remain fixed upon all the limbs of the Lord’s transcendental body. When this has been accomplished, one should then concentrate his meditation only on the smiling face of the Lord. When this has been achieved, one becomes situated in his constitutional position and so he gives up the practice of meditation, because he is truly united with Me. In addition, as the yogi becomes accomplished, he attains the yoga siddhas (mystic perfections).”
Shri Uddhava inquired, “O infallible Lord, please tell me about these perfections of yoga. How many are there, and how can they be achieved? You know all of these things because you are the bestower of all these perfections.”
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said, “There are eight primary perfections, which exist in Me to a superlative degree. In addition, there are ten secondary perfections that are created from the sattva-guna. The former are achieved by My devotees, and the latter by materialistic yogis.”
“The eight primary mystic powers are anima (to become smaller than the smallest), mahima (to become greater than the greatest), laghima (to become lighter than the lightest), prapti (to acquire whatever one wants), prakamya-siddhi (to experience any enjoyable object), ishita-siddhi (to manipulate maya’s subpotencies), vashita-siddhi (to become unimpeded by the three gunas, or to bring others under one’s control), and kamavasayita-siddhi (to obtain anything from anywhere, to the highest degree).”
“The ten secondary perfections are- to free oneself from hunger, thirst and other bodily disturbances- to hear and see things that are far away- to move the body at the speed of mind- to assume any form one desires- to enter the bodies of others- to die when one desires- to witness the pastimes of the demigods with the Apsaras- to be able to fully achieve one’s goal- to give orders that can be executed without impediment. Having the power to know past, present and future- being able to tolerate heat, cold and other such disturbances- being able to check the influence of fire, water, poison, etc.- and remaining unconquerable- these are five additional lesser powers.”
Lord Krishna then described how each of the eight primary, ten secondary, and five inferior mystic powers can be achieved by meditating upon Him in various ways. In conclusion, the Lord said, “My dear Uddhava, learned experts in devotional service say that these yoga perfections are actually impediments for those who desire the supreme perfection of life.”
Shri Uddhava said, “O unlimited Lord, You are the all-pervading Supreme Soul, situated in all living beings- and yet, You remain hidden. Thus, no one can see You, although You can see them.”
“O omniscient Lord, please describe Your divine opulence and how it is manifest in this world.”
The Supreme Lord said, “Uddhava, you are the best of those who ask questions! On the battlefield at Kurukshetra, Arjuna asked Me the very same thing! Being the Supreme Soul of all living entities, I am naturally their well-wisher, and indeed, I am not different from them.”
“I am the ultimate goal of those who are seeking progress in life. Of things that are difficult to control, I am the mind. Of all mantras, I am the three-lettered omkara. Among human beings, I am the king. Of metals, I am gold- of ashramas, I am the sannyasa order- and among varnas, I am the brahmanas. Of sacrifices, I am study of the Vedas. Among vows, I am the vow of nonviolence. Among things that purify, I am wind, fire, sun, water and speech. Among processes of expert discrimination, I am the science of the soul by which one distinguishes spirit from matter. Among religious principles, I am renunciation. Of all kinds of security, I am awareness of the soul within. Of those who are worthy of being called bhagavan, I am Vasudeva- and among devotees, I am you, Uddhava. Among the Kimpurushas, I am Hanuman- and among heroes, I am Arjuna.”
Besides these examples, Lord Krishna gave numerous others, many of which were previously spoken to Arjuna on the battlefield at Kurukshetra. The Lord then said, “I am the basis of the living entities, the modes of material nature and the mahat-tattva, and thus I am actually everything. Nothing whatsoever can exist without Me.”
“My dear Uddhava, given enough time, I could count all of the atoms in the universe, but I could never fully describe the opulence that I manifest within it. You should know that whatever power, beauty, fame, opulence, humility, renunciation, mental pleasure, fortune, strength, tolerance or spiritual knowledge there may be- it is simply an expansion of My opulence.”
“Being surrendered unto Me, the devotee should control his speech and subdue his mind and life air. Thus, with purified intelligence, he will fulfill life’s mission, without once again falling down into material existence. But, if a devotee fails to control himself in this way, his spiritual advancement will be lost, just as water seeps out of an unbaked clay pot.”
In other words, those who are engaged in the highest welfare work, by preaching Krishna consciousness, should not try to speak cleverly, hoping to impress beautiful women. Nor should one try to become artificially intellectual in the hopes of gaining academic prestige. One should not even think of intimate sexual relationships, nor should one dream of acquiring a prestigious position. Otherwise, one’s determination to strictly practice Krishna consciousness will be lost.
Shri Uddhava said, “My dear lotus-eyed Lord, the yoga system that You have described is certainly not possible for all to practice. Now, please explain how followers of varnashrama-dharma, and even ordinary, unregulated persons, can achieve loving devotional service unto You, by the execution of their prescribed duties (karma-yoga). A long time has passed since You spoke to Lord Brahma in Your form as Hansa-avatara, and what You had taught has practically been forgotten.”
“My dear Lord, You alone establish religious principles. After Your departure from this earth, who else will be able to revive this lost knowledge?”
The Supreme Lord said, “My dear Uddhava, in Satya-yuga, there was only one social class of men, called hansa, and everyone executed their religious duties perfectly. (‘krita-kritya’ used here means ‘executes all duties perfectly’ and thus Satya-yuga is also called krita-yuga) The Vedas were also undivided and they were fully understood simply by vibrating ‘om’. The single religious process was meditation upon Lord Hansa.”
“At the beginning of Treta-yuga, the Vedic knowledge appeared from My heart in three divisions- Rig, Sama and Yajur. Then, from the Vedas, I became manifest as threefold sacrifices, the performance of which constituted the authorized process for spiritual perfection in that age. The four varnas become manifest from My universal form- the brahmanas from My face, the kshatriyas from My arms, the vaishyas from My thighs, and the shudras from My legs. Similarly, the four ashramas became manifested- the grihasthas from the genitals of My universal form, the life-long brahmacharis from My heart, the vanaprasthas from My chest, and the sannyasis from within My head.”
“The conditioned souls become situated in a particular varna and ashrama at birth, according to their inferior or superior natures. Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, cleanliness, satisfaction, tolerance, simple straightforwardness, devotion to Me, mercy, and truthfulness are the natural qualities of brahmanas.”
“Dynamic power, bodily strength, determination, heroism, tolerance, generosity, great endeavor, steadiness, devotion to the brahmanas, and leadership are the natural qualities of kshatriyas.”
“Faith in Vedic culture, dedication to giving charity, freedom from hypocrisy, service to the brahmanas, and a continuous desire to accumulate money are the natural qualities of vaishyas. Although vaishyas are never satisfied by any amount of acquired wealth, they are charitable because, due to their faith in the Vedas, they are confident of being rewarded in the next life.”
“Service without duplicity to the brahmanas, cows, demigods and others- and satisfaction with whatever comes as a result of such service- these are the natural qualities of shudras.”
“Dirtiness, dishonesty, thievery, faithlessness, useless quarrel, lust, anger, and hankering constitute the nature of those who are in the lowest position, outside the varnashrama system.”
“Nonviolence, truthfulness, honesty, desire for the happiness and welfare of all others, and freedom from lust, anger and greed are the qualities that are required to be cultivated by all members of society.”
“Children of the higher three varnas, after completing the purificatory processes, achieve second birth by receiving the Gayatri mantra at the time of initiation. Thereafter, they should reside at the guru’s ashrama (gurukula) so that they can practice self-control and study the Vedic literatures. Brahmana boys may be initiated at the age of twelve, whereas kshatriya and vaishya boys should be initiated when they are somewhat older.”
“Brahmacharis should wear clothes of deerskin, with a belt made of straw. A brahmachari’s hair should be matted and he should carry a staff and water pot. With sacred thread and aksha beads around his neck, the brahmachari should hold kusha grass in his hand. He should remain silent while eating, bathing, etc. and he should not cut his hair or nails.”
“One should know the acharya to be nondifferent from Me, and thus he must never be disrespected. Every morning and evening the brahmachari should collect food and other things and deliver them to his spiritual master, accepting for himself only that which the guru sanctions. The brahmachari should always consider himself to be the humble servant of his guru. When the spiritual master walks, the student should stay behind, and when the guru lies down, the disciple should lie down nearby. When the guru sits, the student should stand nearby with folded hands, awaiting his order.”
“Until his education is completed, the brahmachari should not break his vow of celibacy. If the student desires elevation to Maharloka or Brahmaloka, then he must observe the vow of naishthiki brahmacharya (life-long celibacy). Those who are brahmacharis, vanaprasthas or sannyasis should never associate with women by glancing, touching, conversing, or joking- nor should they associate with anyone, human or animal, who is engaging in a sexual relationship.”
“A brahmachari who has completed his Vedic education, and wants to get married, should first of all properly reward his guru. Then, after bathing, cutting his hair, and dressing nicely, he should take permission from his spiritual master and return home. Those who are not pure devotees engaging twenty-four hours a day in devotional service must follow the regulation of varnashrama very strictly, to avoid falling down. A householder who desires to quickly purify himself should accept the vanaprastha order.”
“One who desires to enter the grihastha ashrama should select a wife from his own varna, who is of pure character, and who is younger than himself. If one wishes to have more than one wife, each successive wife should be accepted from a successively lower varna.”
“All twice-born men should perform yagya, study Vedic literatures, and give charity. Only the brahmanas can accept charity, teach the Vedas, and perform sacrifice, however. A brahmana’s body is not meant for enjoying insignificant sense gratification. Rather, he should accept a life of austerity, and in this way, he will be able to enjoy unlimited happiness after death. A brahmana householder that desires liberation from material bondage should pick up rejected grains from the marketplace or field, and thus not depend upon others. He should be very magnanimous and charitable, and he should always be absorbed in thought of Me. In this way, a brahmana can live at home without much attachment, and at the end, he can achieve liberation.”
“Uddhava, like a boat that picks up persons who are drowning in the ocean, I quickly rescue those who help brahmanas and devotees that are suffering from poverty. Just as the chief bull elephant protects the entire herd, so a king must take care of all the citizens. Indeed, a king who protects all of the citizens by keeping his kingdom free of sinful activities, will go, after death, to enjoy with Indra in heaven.”
“If a brahmana cannot support himself by performing his regular duties, then he can do some business that is non-violent, like a vaishya. And, if by this means, he still cannot alleviate his poverty, then he can take up a sword like a kshatriya. However, he must never become like a dog by accepting an ordinary master.”
“A kshatriya who cannot maintain himself may act as a vaishya, a hunter, or he can act as a brahmana by teaching Vedic knowledge- but he can never do the work of a shudra. A vaishya can work like a shudra, however. A shudra who cannot find a suitable master can be self-employed by making straw mats, baskets, or any such useful things. But, anyone who has adopted an inferior occupation in an emergency must give it up when the difficulties pass.”
“A householder should maintain his dependents comfortably, and he should perform religious duties according to his means- but, he should be careful not to become overly attached. The association of wife, children, relatives and friends is just like a brief meeting of travelers at a hotel. After deeply considering the truth of the matter, one who really desires liberation should continue to live at home just like a guest, without any sense of proprietorship. This will keep him free of all entanglement. ‘Oh, my poor elderly parents! My frail wife with her small children! Without me to take care of them they would suffer terribly!’ Thinking like this, a foolish householder’s entire heart is filled with family attachment. His mind is always meditating upon his family members, and after death, he enters into the darkness of ignorance.”
“One who wants to accept the vanaprastha order should go live in the forest. He can take his wife with him, or else leave her in the care of a grown-up son. A vanaprastha should dress in tree bark, grass, leaves and animal skin, and he should eat fruit, roots and bulbs. He should not comb his hair, cut his nails or shave. He should not endeavor much to take care of his teeth, he should bathe three times a day, and he should sleep on the ground. The vanaprastha should perform austerity as follows- he should surround himself with fires in the heat of summer- he should remain outdoors in the monsoon- and in winter, he should remain submerged in water up to his neck. The vanaprastha should offer various sacrifices, but never animal sacrifices- even those which are mentioned in the Vedas.”
“While performing such severe austerities in the forest, the saintly vanaprastha becomes so emaciated that he looks like a bag of skin and bones. After death, he first of all goes to Maharloka, and then he comes back to Me. One who performs such austerities, while hoping to achieve sense gratification in heaven, is certainly the greatest fool. If one becomes overtaken by invalidity due to old age, and so cannot continue to execute his prescribed duties, then he should gradually fix his mind upon Me and give up his body by entering into the sacrificial fire.”
“When a vanaprastha realizes that even promotion to Brahmaloka is useless, he can adopt the sannyasa order of life. Without vigilance on the part of the caretaker, even the most beautiful garden may become overrun by weeds. Similarly, even a devotee who has taken sannyasa, after having achieved a beautiful state of Krishna consciousness, must be very careful to keep his heart free of material desires.”
“The demigods think, ‘This man took sannyasa, hoping to surpass us and go back home, back to Godhead’. They then create stumbling blocks by appearing as the sannyasi’s former wife or some other desirable object. A sannyasi should not accept any possessions, except his cloth, danda and a water pot. While walking, he should put his foot down only after seeing that he is not going to step on any insects. Similarly, he should perform only those activities and speak only that which has been carefully ascertained to be pure.”
“The three bamboo rods that represent dedication of one’s body, mind and words to the Supreme, do not, in themselves, make one a sannyasi. A sannyasi must actually practice the three internal disciplines of avoiding useless speech, avoiding useless activities, and controlling the life-air by practice of pranayama. Rejecting those houses that are too contaminated, the sannyasi should be satisfied with what he gets by begging from seven households of any varna, although preference should be given to brahmanas. He should take his collected food to a lake or river. After giving away portions to all who may ask for it, the sannyasi should offer the rest to the Supreme Lord and then eat, leaving no remnants.”
“A sannyasi should wander over the earth alone, in a mood of neutrality, with his mind fixed upon Me, without deviation. He must always carefully consider the causes of the soul’s bondage and liberation. Bondage occurs when one misuses his senses, and liberation is attained when the senses are completely under control. By engaging the mind and senses in Krishna consciousness, one experiences a great spiritual happiness that allows him to remain detached from the happiness derived from insignificant material sense gratification. For this reason, a sannyasi should only approach materialistic persons to beg for his sustenance, and not otherwise.”
In Vedic society, it is recommended that vanaprasthas and sannyasis beg for their food. Such begging is not at all like the begging of lazy bums. It helps to cut down the egoistic pride of an aspiring transcendentalist, and make him humble by offering respect to others.
When one reaches the perfect stage, called paramahansa, he can neglect all of the rules and regulations that helped him to reach that goal. To avoid the great prestige that is offered to exalted personalities, a paramahansa can behave like a child, oblivious to honor and dishonor- like an incompetent, even though he may be very expert- or like a foolish madman, although he is most learned. Still, it is more highly recommended that a paramahansa follow the Vedic regulative principles, just to set a good example for people in general.
In no way should any devotee ever read atheistic literature, even with the desire to learn how to refute such a philosophy. He should never let others frighten or disturb him, nor should he ever disturb or belittle others. And, even though he is detached, a devotee should keep his body fit and healthy, just so that his spiritual activities do not become impeded.
Lord Krishna then said, “My dear Uddhava, those who are self-realized devotees do not see anything as being separate from Me. At every moment, their only thought is how to arrange their devotional service to Me. However, because they were previously accustomed to the illusory bodily conception, there may be temporary relapses. Yet, ultimately, they will achieve opulence equal to Mine in the spiritual world.”
“Anyone who seriously desires perfection, should first of all detach himself from a life of sense gratification and approach a bona-fide spiritual master. While sincerely trying to understand the means of attaining Me, he should stay close to his guru and render personal service.”
“The main duties of a sannyasi are to cultivate equanimity of mind, and to maintain a life of non-violence. The main duties of a vanaprastha are to perform austerities, and to philosophically understand that he is not the material body. The main duties of a grihastha are to perform sacrifices, and to give shelter to all living beings. The main duty of a brahmachari is to serve his spiritual master. Beyond this, however, is the ultimate goal of all varnas and ashramas, which is to achieve unflinching devotion unto Me.”
“My dear Uddhava, I am the Supreme Lord of all the demigods and sacrifices, and I am the ultimate cause of all existence. Those who have become purified by the execution of their prescribed duties, and who fully understand My supreme position, will very soon come to Me. The cultivation of knowledge is most fruitful when one comes to an understanding that I am the Supreme Absolute Truth. Therefore, a person who is actually advanced in knowledge must certainly be engaged in always worshiping Me in a mood of loving devotion.”
Shri Uddhava said, “O Lord of the universe, please describe to me the traditionally accepted process of acquiring knowledge that automatically brings about detachment, while illuminating the path of loving devotional service.”
“My dear Lord, Your two lotus feet are the only shelter for those conditioned souls being tormented by the three-fold miseries. Indeed, Your lotus feet are just like an umbrella that pours down showers of refreshing nectar.”
“Omniscient Lord, please be merciful and lift up this hopeless living entity from the dark hole of material existence, where he is being repeatedly bitten by the snake of time. Although material happiness is very insignificant, the fallen souls have a tremendous desire to relish it. My Lord, please save me by pouring down the nectar of Your instructions.”
The Supreme Lord said, “My dear Uddhava, previously, Maharaja Yudhisthira, whose enemy was never born, had made the same inquiry from Bhishma, while all of us were gathered around, listening. Being overwhelmed by grief, at the end of the Kurukshetra war, Yudhisthira had heard lengthy discourses from Bhishma about religious principles. Then, at last, he inquired about the path of ultimate liberation.”
“Gyana entails an understanding of the twenty-eight elements that make up material existence (material nature, the jiva, mahat-tattva, false ego, five sense objects, ten senses, mind, five gross elements, and the three modes of nature) and how they interact as cause and effect, beginning with the ultimate cause- Paramatma.”
“Vigyana, or self-realization, occurs when a devotee no longer sees the twenty-eight separated elements, that arise from a single cause, but rather sees the cause itself, the Personality of Godhead. The gyani thinks of the Supreme Lord as the creator of this material world, whereas the vigyani ceases to think of the Lord in relation to this created manifestation. Rather, the self-realized soul sees Him as the Lord of Vaikuntha.”
“By utilizing the four kinds of evidence- Vedic knowledge, direct perception, traditional wisdom, and logical induction- one can understand the disadvantages of material existence, and thus become detached from it. What to speak of this world, even in the planet of Lord Brahma, there is simply unhappiness.”
“Sinless Uddhava, because of your love for Me, I have explained devotional service in various ways. Now, once again, I will describe this loving service in its pure form. A devotee should have firm faith in the narrations of My pastimes and he should constantly chant My glories. He should worship all Vaishnavas very carefully, and never forget that I dwell within the heart of all living beings. He should renounce all material desires, and utilize his wealth for My service. These are actual religious principles by which a devotee who has surrendered unto Me will automatically develop love for Me.”
“Anyone whose consciousness is fixed on Me and who is strengthened by the mode of goodness, achieves knowledge, detachment and spiritual opulence. One, whose consciousness is fixed upon his material body and its extensions, simply spends his time chasing after material objects with the help of the senses. For such a person who is under the influence of the mode of passion- irreligion, ignorance, attachment and all kinds of wretchedness come about. Dharma is that which directs one toward My devotional service. The cultivation of real knowledge culminates in the awareness of My all-pervading presence. Detachment is complete disinterest in the objects of material sense gratification, and opulence refers to the eight yoga perfections.”
Shri Uddhava said, “My dear Lord Krishna, I would like You to describe those principles of civilized life that should be universally accepted. All over the world there are multifarious cultures and each one defines the principles of morality in a different way. But, My Lord, whatever You say must be taken as actually authoritative.”
Lord Krishna replied, “Nonviolence, truthfulness, not coveting or stealing others’ property, detachment, humility, freedom from possessiveness, trust in the principles of religion, celibacy, silence, steadiness, forgiveness, and fearlessness are the twelve primary disciplinary principles. Internal and external cleanliness, chanting of the Lord’s holy name, austerity, sacrifice, faith, hospitality, worship of Me, visiting holy places, acting and desiring only in relation to My devotional service, satisfaction, and service to the guru are the twelve elements of regular prescribed duties. These twenty-four items bestow all desired benedictions upon those who cultivate them.”
“Mental equilibrium (samah) occurs when the intelligence is absorbed in Me. Self-control (damah) is complete discipline of the senses. Tolerance (titiksha) is the ability to patiently endure unhappiness. Steadfastness (dhritih) occurs when one conquers the tongue and genitals. The greatest charity (danam) is to give up all aggression toward others. Real austerity (tapah) is to give up lust. Real heroism (shauryam) is to conquer the natural tendency to enjoy material life. Reality (satyam) means to see the Supreme Lord everywhere. “
“The truth (satyam) should be presented in a pleasing manner, as was done by great sages in the past. Real cleanliness (saucham) is detachment from fruitive activities, and renunciation (tyaga) is exemplified by the sannyasa order of life. Real wealth (dhana) is dharma, and I am sacrifice personified. Real remuneration to the guru (dakshina) is a devotional attitude, with a desire to receive spiritual instructions. The greatest strength (param balam) is achieved by the pranayama system of breath control.”
“Actual opulence (bhaga) is that which is possessed by Me. Real gain in life is to become My devotee. True education is the attainment of an understanding of the non-dual soul. Modesty (hri) means to feel disgust at improper behavior. Real beauty (shri) is to possess good qualities, such as detachment. True happiness (sukham) is experienced beyond the temporary manifestations of material happiness and distress. True misery (dukham) is experienced by those who search for sex pleasure. A wise man is one who knows the process of liberation, and a fool (murkhah) is one who identifies with the material body and mind. The correct path of life is that which leads to Me, and the wrong path is the road to sense enjoyment, which simply causes bewilderment.”
“Actual heaven is the predominance of sattva-guna, and hell is the predominance of tamo-guna. I am the true friend of everyone, because I am the spiritual master of the entire universe. Home is one’s material body. A person who is enriched with good qualities is actually rich, and one who is dissatisfied is truly poor. A person who is attached to sense gratification is a slave, and one who is not attached is a master.”
“My dear Uddhava, I have replied to everything that you had inquired about. There is no need for a more elaborate description, because to constantly consider what is good and what is bad is itself a bad quality. The best quality is to rise above material conceptions of good and evil.”
Shri Uddhava said, “My dear lotus-eyed Krishna, the Vedic literatures can be thought of as Your law books. They primarily consist of descriptions of that which is good or desirable- and that which is bad or forbidden. How then is it possible to understand Your instructions without considering the difference between piety and sin? Indeed, without such an understanding, how could human society hope to be guided toward perfection in life? To understand things that are beyond our immediate perception, the Vedic literatures must surely be consulted, for they are the ultimate authority. The distinction between piety and sin certainly comes from the Vedic literatures. Therefore, if, at the same time, You discourage such a distinction, there will surely be confusion.”
The Supreme Lord said, “Uddhava, because I want all human beings to have a chance to achieve perfection, I presented three paths of advancement- karma, gyana and bhakti. Besides these three, there are absolutely no other paths of elevation. The path of gyana-yoga is recommended for those who are disgusted with material life. Those who are not disgusted with material life should practice karma-yoga. If, by good fortune, one is attracted to hearing and chanting My glories, then such a person, being neither very disgusted nor very attached to material life, should practice bhakti-yoga. The perfection of karma-yoga is attained when one is free from sinful activities and performs his prescribed duties properly without any desire for fruitive gain. As a result of such perfection, he will attain transcendental knowledge (gyana), or if he is very fortunate, devotional service to Me.”
“The human form is superior to both heavenly and hellish bodies because only a human birth gives nice facility for the attainment of transcendental knowledge and love of God. In other words, excessive absorption in both enjoyment and suffering are impediments to spiritual advancement. But, even though, for spiritual advancement, life on earth is superior to life in heaven and hell, one should not foolishly try to live here forever.”
“When a cruel man cut down a tree, the bird that had nested there flew away without attachment and continued to live happily somewhere else. The human body, although destined to be cut down, in due course of time, can award one all benefit, if used properly. The human body can be compared to a nice boat. The spiritual master is the captain and Vedic instructions are favorable breezes that impel it onward toward the ultimate goal of life. Considering all of this, one who does not utilize the human body to cross over the ocean of material existence is to be considered a killer of his own soul.”
“An expert trainer, while taming a headstrong horse, alternately lets it run free and then pulls sharply on the reins. Similarly, the transcendentalist may sometimes give his senses freedom to act, but he will never forget his goal of life and allow his senses to engage in sinful activity. Until one is firmly situated on the transcendental platform, he must always consider the temporary nature of all material objects. After extensive consideration, when one becomes thoroughly disgusted with the temporary, illusory nature of this world, he will at last give up his false identification with matter. Even if there is some accidental falldown, he should simply continue with his devotional activities, to burn to ashes any sinful reactions. No other procedure is required.”
“For a devotee, or any transcendentalist, real piety is to adhere to his spiritual position, and real sin is to neglect his prescribed duties. One who adopts this standard while desiring to give up all kinds of illusory sense gratification, will be able to give up all material activities, which are by their very nature, impure. After becoming disgusted with material activities, knowing that they simply lead to misery, when a devotee has awakened his faith in the narration of My glories, he may still not be able to renounce all sense enjoyment, due to past habit. Such a person should engage in My devotional service in a happy mood, while sincerely repenting that he sometimes becomes deviated by sense enjoyment.”
A sincere devotee may sometimes be disturbed by sex attraction or by lingering sentiments for wife and children. Of course, a pure devotee feels spiritual affection for all living entities, including so-called wife and children, but he knows that bodily attachment can lead to no ultimate benefit.
Lord Krishna said, “When a devotee constantly worships Me with love, his heart becomes firmly situated in Me, so that all of the material desires that were within his heart become destroyed. The knot in the heart (hridaya-granthi) becomes slashed, all misgivings are cut to pieces, and the chain of fruitive activities is terminated.”
“Everything that can be achieved by fruitive acts, the cultivation of knowledge, yoga, and all kinds of religious duties is easily achieved by My devotee. Whether My devotee desires to go to heaven, achieve liberation, or reside in My own abode, these are easily accomplished. Generally, though, My pure devotees, who possess saintly behavior and deep intelligence, do not desire anything besides Me. Indeed, even if I offer them liberation, they do not accept it. In this way, it can be understood that the concept of material piety and sin do not even exist in the minds of unalloyed devotees. “
“Piety and impiety in the material world are actually relative concepts. They are not absolute. Everyone’s body, from Brahma’s down to the most insignificant, is made of earth, water, fire, air and ether. But, even though the living entities are similar in this way, the Vedic literatures divide the human society into four classes, according to propensity (intellectual, ambitious for power, enterprising and servile).”
A doctor will relate to a crazy person by speaking to him sympathetically, according to his false conception of life. In a similar way, the Vedic literatures instruct persons according to their conditional situation. Steadiness in one’s position is considered piety, whereas deviation is considered impiety. Therefore, piety and impiety are relative to one’s position within the varnashrama system.
Lord Krishna said, “My dear Uddhava, to help the living entities achieve their desired goals in life, I have established- that which is proper, and that which is improper- among objects, time and place, etc. Those places are considered to be contaminated that are without spotted deer and respectable persons who are devoted to the brahmanas, where cleanliness is neglected, where meat eaters are prominent, and where the land is barren. Any time that is appropriate for performing one’s prescribed duty is considered pure. That time which impedes one’s duty is considered impure.”
An object’s purity or impurity depends upon contact with another object, passage of time, etc. For example, impure cloth becomes purified by contact with water, and clean cloth becomes impure by contact with urine. Impure things may or may not sinfully infect a person, depending upon that person’s strength, intelligence, physical condition, etc. For example, during a solar eclipse, if a healthy person eats, he becomes contaminated, but a very weak person can eat without becoming contaminated. Worn out, dirty clothes and a messy house are contaminating for a wealthy person, but not for a poor man. In a safe and peaceful place, one is obliged to strictly perform all religious rituals, but not in a dangerous or chaotic situation.
Lord Krishna said, “Various objects are purified by time, wind, fire, earth or water- either separately or in combination. Purification is effective when it removes a bad odor, a covering of dirt, etc. One’s self can be purified by bathing, giving charity, performing austerity, by age (a child is considered to be pure or innocent), by physical strength, by performing prescribed duties and, above all, by remembering Me. A mantra is purified when it is chanted with proper knowledge, and work is purified when the result is offered to Me. By purification of place, time, substance, doer, mantras and works, one becomes religious. By neglecting these six, one is considered irreligious.”
“What is ordinarily considered piety may under some conditions be sin, and what is ordinarily considered sinful may sometimes be piety. Thus, there is no clear demarcation between sin and piety.”
Children below the age of fourteen are considered incapable of properly distinguishing between good and bad, and so they are not held responsible. Animals also cannot be praised or blamed for their so-called good or bad acts.
Lord Krishna continued, “An act that would degrade an elevated person does not harm one who is already fallen. Indeed, a person who is lying on the ground cannot fall any further. Practically speaking, the association that is dictated by one’s acquired nature is considered proper.”
“By refraining from a particular act one becomes freed from its bondage. Such renunciation is the basis of all auspicious and religious life for human society, because it drives away all illusion, fear and suffering. The reason for this is as follows. From attachment to sense objects, lust arises, and from lust is born quarrel among men. This produces intolerable anger, which plunges one into the darkness of ignorance, thus obliterating one’s good intelligence.”
Due to false ego, we accept the material body as one’s self, and we consider ourselves to be the proprietors and enjoyers of our actions. In truth, however, we are all parts and parcels of Lord Krishna, and so it is Krishna Who is the real proprietor and enjoyer of our activities. Material lust produces anger because of frustration, and thus quarrel among men is created. If Lord Krishna alone is the factual enjoyer, where is the competition? Without Krishna consciousness, there is a constant struggle between innumerable false enjoyers.
Lord Krishna continued, “Uddhava, a person who is bereft of real intelligence, and thus deviated from the actual purpose of life- becomes dull, almost like a dead man. Persons, who are absorbed in sense gratification live uselessly in ignorance, like a tree. Of course, the Vedic literatures also promise sense gratification in heaven, but this is merely an enticement to approach the real goal of life, the Supreme Lord.”
“Just by taking birth, one automatically becomes absorbed in thinking about personal sense gratification, bodily strength, sexual potency, as well as family members and friends. Attachment to all of these things acts to defeat a person’s real self-interest. How then could the Vedas actually encourage material attachment? Even those who perform Vedic sacrifices, if they are sense enjoyers, are incapable of understanding Me, as the cause of all causes. Indeed, the bodily concept of life is like a dense fog that covers the eyes of the conditioned souls, making them incapable of seeing God.”
“Just as a foolish businessman spoils his hard-earned wealth by investing wrongly, a foolish person gives up what is valuable in life so that he can pursue promotion to heaven, which is actually just like a dream. Such unintelligent persons worship various deities, headed by Indra, but fail to properly worship Me. The Vedas describe the spiritual nature of the living entity, but in an esoteric way, so that I am not easily approached by those who are not qualified. For this reason, the transcendental sound of the Vedas is very difficult for ordinary persons to understand.”
“As the Paramatma dwelling within everyone’s heart, I manifest all of the Vedic sounds, beginning with omkara. Just as a spider brings forth its web from its heart and then from out of its mouth, I manifest Myself as the reverberating primeval vital air (prana), which comprises all of the Vedic sounds, expanding from omkara. I am the ritualistic sacrifices that are prescribed by the Vedas, and I am the worshipable Deity. It is I Who am that which is to be understood by the various philosophical methods, and it is I Who the transcendental sound vibration ultimately establishes.”
It is very interesting to take note of the following: The Vedic literatures describe progressive life as consisting of various stages. Of course, a person should not become fixed upon a particular stage, but should always be prepared to progress to the next level. For this reason, the Vedic literatures will recommend something in one place and then reject that same thing somewhere else. For example, those who are addicted to sex enjoyment are taught to accept marriage as a way of regulating sex pleasure. But elsewhere, a person who has become detached from sex life is asked to accept the sannyasa order, where any contact with women is forbidden. All such recommendations and progressions are simply meant to lead one to the ultimate goal- Krishna consciousness. For this reason, nowhere in the Vedic literatures is it ever recommended that one should give up Krishna consciousness in favor of something else.
Shri Uddhava said, “My dear Lord, previously You described twenty-eight elements of the material creation. But, some authorities describe twenty-six elements, or twenty-five- or even four, six, etc. Why do philosophers calculate in different ways? Please explain this to me.”
The Supreme Lord said, “Actually, all of the material elements are present everywhere. Because My glories are truly unlimited, it should not be surprising that even learned brahmanas understand things variously, according to their particular realizations. From within the hearts of philosophers, I cause them to forget their real selves. Thus, they inevitably disagree with one another, being unable to come to a real conclusion. All of this confusion ceases, however, as soon as one fixes his intelligence upon Me, for such a philosopher has actually found the object of his research.”
“Material creation and annihilation take place from subtle to gross, and then back, from gross to subtle. Thus, by cause and effect, all of the elements are present within each individual element. All of the authoritative analytic philosophers are accepted by Me as being, in their own way, correct. Still, no one can achieve self-realization on the strength of his own analytic prowess. In any case, it must be understood that I am not personally involved with the interactions of the material constituents during creation. I merely glance over material nature and this empowers the elements so that they become amalgamated to form the universal egg.”
Shri Uddhava then said, “Even though matter and spirit are constitutionally distinct, they appear to be related, because spirit resides within matter, and material nature affects the soul. Without the soul, the body could not exist, and without the body, where would the soul be?”
“O lotus-eyed Krishna, please cut out this great doubt from my heart, by exhibiting Your unsurpassed skill in reasoning. It is from You alone that knowledge of the soul is obtained, and it is by You alone that such knowledge becomes obscured.”
The Supreme Lord said, “Material nature (prakriti) and its enjoyer (purusha) are clearly distinct, because the creation undergoes constant transformation. Acting through its three modes, material nature manifests varieties of created objects, and various kinds of material consciousness for perceiving them. The resultant cosmic manifestation is to be understood in three aspects- adhyatmic, adhidaivic and adhibautic. For example, in the act of seeing- sight provided by the eyes (adhyatma) perceives a form (adhibhuta), with the help of sunlight (adhidaiva). But, just as the sun is self-illuminated, so, the Supreme Soul does not require the above-mentioned interdependence, because He is complete in Himself and does not need any outside assistance.”
Shri Uddhava said, “O Supreme Master, those who are fruitive workers are certainly deviated from You. Now, please explain to me how they accept various grades of material bodies and later on, give them up. This subject is very difficult for foolish persons to understand.”
The Supreme Lord said, “The mind of the conditioned soul is shaped by the reactions to his fruitive work. The mind, along with the senses, travels from one body to another, followed by the soul. The conditioned soul totally identifies with each body, just as one completely accepts the experience of a dream as real. Although the soul is distinct from the material body and mind, because of his false ego, he suffers. This is something like a good man who gives birth to a bad son and thus suffers.”
“The material body undergoes transformation just like the flame of a candle, the water of a river, or a fruit on a tree. When we see the flame of a candle, it is false to say, ‘This is the flame of the candle’. Factually, as time passes, innumerable rays of light are created and destroyed. When we look at a river it would be foolish to say, ‘This is the water of the river’. Actually, new water flows by at every second. Similarly, the material body that is present at any particular time is not really the living being. Just as fruit on a tree constantly undergoes transformation, one must understand that his body is steadily moving toward inevitable death.”
“Impregnation, gestation, birth, infancy, childhood, youth, middle-age, old age and death are the nine ages of the body. Because of ignorance, the conditioned soul falsely identifies with his body. Sometimes, though, a fortunate person is able to give up this mental concoction. By seeing one’s father’s or grandfather’s death, as well as the birth of his own child, a person should understand the truth about the material body.”
“The conditioned soul actually does nothing. But, because he identifies with the body, when it acts under the influence of the modes of nature, he feels that he is walking, working, etc. In a similar way, trees, although stationary on a windless day, will appear to be quivering when one sees their reflection on rippling water. And yet, the illusion of the conditioned soul never vanishes, as long as he remains in the bodily concept of life. This is something like a bad dream- it will continue as long as one remains sleeping.”
“My dear Uddhava, for this reason, do not try to enjoy sense gratification with the material body, for this will prevent you from realizing your real self. Even if you are insulted, beaten, robbed, kidnapped, spit upon or urinated upon- by use of your good intelligence, you should remain fixed on the spiritual platform.”
When a person falsely identifies with the material body, he perceives himself to be a separate, independent entity. A self-realized devotee, however, understands that he is a fragmental part and parcel of the Supreme Whole. He knows that his natural function is to satisfy the Supreme Enjoyer, and not his bodily senses.
Shri Uddhava said, “O best of speakers, please explain all of this once again, so that I can properly understand it. Our conditioning is so strong that even learned men find it very difficult to tolerate the offenses that You have mentioned. Indeed, only the greatest of devotees are able to do so.”
Lord Krishna said, “O disciple of Brihaspati, it is true that there is hardly a saintly person who can calm his mind after it has been disturbed by the insults of uncivilized men. When such harsh and insulting words enter the heart, they cause more suffering than sharp arrows that pierce our chest.”
“My dear Uddhava, I shall now relate to you a very nice historical account.”
In the kingdom of Avanti, there was once a brahmana who became vastly wealthy by engaging in various businesses. But he was a very miserly person, and he was lusty, greedy and easily angered. His home was devoid of proper religious behavior, and he never properly treated his family members and guests. Indeed, this brahmana was so miserly that he would not even allow his own body to have sufficient gratification at proper times.
Because the brahmana was so hardhearted- his wife, sons and daughters, as well as servants and relatives- all came to hate him. At last, being thoroughly disgusted, they stopped treating him with any affection whatsoever. The five presiding deities of the family sacrifices also became disgusted with him, and as a result, the brahmana’s stock of piety became exhausted. Because of this, all of his wealth was soon plundered by his relatives, government officials, thieves- as well as by various acts of providence, such as drought and fire.
At last, when the brahmana became thoroughly impoverished, his family members completely ignored him, and as a result, he felt unbearable anxiety. While lamenting terribly, the brahmana meditated upon his miserable condition for a long time. Then, at last, due to the faith that he had maintained for Lord Vishnu, a powerful feeling of renunciation came over him.
In this mood, the brahmana said to himself, “What a great misfortune! I have simply tormented myself uselessly by working so hard to accumulate wealth that I used neither for religion nor enjoyment. The wealth of a miser gives him no happiness in this life and, after death, it sends him to hell.”
“Whatever good qualities or fame one possesses, is spoiled by even a small amount of greed, just as one’s bodily beauty is spoiled by even a trace of white leprosy. By earning, protecting, spending and trying to increase wealth, all men are forced to work hard and suffer from anxiety, fear and delusion.”
“Those who are greedy to acquire wealth become contaminated by fifteen undesirable qualities- theft, violence, speaking of lies, duplicity, lust, anger, perplexity, pride, quarrel, enmity, faithlessness, envy, and the dangers caused by women, gambling and intoxication. Although these qualities are undesirable, such men foolishly adhere to them with a passion. Anyone who desires real benefit in life should therefore stay aloof from unnecessary endeavor for acquiring material wealth.”
“For even a single coin, one’s loving wife, parents, brothers, or friends may break off their relationship. Because of a dispute over even a small amount of money, one’s friends or relatives may become so disturbed, and their anger inflamed, that they throw away their affection in a moment, even up to the point of murder.”
“To have achieved a human birth, and as a brahmana, and then to neglect this great opportunity is just like killing one’s own self. What sane man, after attaining the human form, which is the gateway to liberation, would become attached to worthless material wealth? Intelligent persons utilize their wealth, youth and strength to attain perfection, and yet, I foolishly squandered all of these just to increase my material assets. Now that I am an old man, what can I do? For one who is in the grips of death, what is the use of so much money?”
“The Supreme Lord Hari must be pleased with Me, for He brought me to this miserable condition so that I could, at last, achieve detachment, which is the boat that can carry me over the ocean of material life. If there is any remaining time in my life, I wish to perform austerities, forcing my body to subsist upon the bare necessities. In this way, I will pursue my real self-interest and remain satisfied within myself. Indeed, Maharaja Khatvanga was able to attain the spiritual world in a moment.”
Being so determined, and freed from all material attachment, the Avanti-brahmana wandered over the earth as a sannyasi, while covering his advanced position from others. When rowdy persons saw what appeared to be an old, unkempt beggar, they insulted him terribly. Some took away his sannyasa rod, his begging bowl, his deerskin seat, his chanting beads and his ragged clothes. While teasing him, they would pretend to return these things and then hide them once again.
Sometimes, while he was sitting on the riverbank and about to eat the food that he had obtained by begging, these ruffians would come and pass urine on his meal and sometimes, spit on his head. And, because he had taken a vow of silence, they would try to make him angry so that he would shout. Then, when he remained quiet, they would beat him with sticks, tie him up, and pass foul air on him. Some of the miscreants would abuse him by saying, “This man is just a cheater. He makes a business of religion because he lost all of his money and his family threw him out.”
The Avanti-brahmana understood that all of his suffering was unavoidable, being the result of his past actions. Although these low-class men were trying to destroy his determination, the brahmana remained steady on the spiritual platform.
At such times, he would sing this song: “These people are not the cause of my distress, nor are the demigods, karma, my body, or time. Rather, it is my mind alone that causes happiness and distress and perpetuates the cycle of repeated birth and death. The powerful mind actuates the functions of the three modes of material nature, which then evolve into various activities. The Paramatma is present with me as my friend, but He is not endeavoring. He is simply witnessing everything from His transcendental position. I, on the other hand, have embraced the mind, which is like a mirror, because it reflects an image of this world. All kinds of religious activities are intended to subdue the mind, and indeed, concentration of the mind on the Supreme Lord is the highest goal. When the mind is fixed on the Absolute Truth, what is the need of pious acts and religious rituals? And conversely, if the mind is uncontrolled and lost in ignorance, what is the use of making a show of piety?”
“All of the senses have been under the control of the mind since time immemorial. The mind, however, never comes under the sway of another- it is stronger than the strongest- its god-like power is fearsome. Therefore, anyone who can bring the mind under control becomes the master of all the senses as well. But, if one fails to conquer his greatest enemy, the mind, then it will torment him, and involve him in useless quarrels. Due to being absorbed in false ego, we identify with the body and thus come under the sway of duality. Feeling ourselves to be separated from others, we view them as friends, enemies or neutral- and it is this which causes quarrel.”
“If I feel that the people who give me charity are the cause of my happiness, and if I feel that the people who harass me are the cause of my distress, I must be absorbed in the bodily concept of life. These people are not the ultimate cause of my happiness and distress. The ultimate cause is my false bodily identification. The spirit soul is distinct from the gross and subtle bodies, and so it is not really affected by the happiness and distress caused by their interactions. For this reason, the demigods and planets should also not be blamed. Actually, all persons are part and parcel of the Absolute Truth. If someone bites his own tongue, should he blame his teeth and pull them out in anger?”
The conditioned souls try to eliminate material distress so that they can enjoy material happiness. But, material happiness and distress are two sides of the same coin. To enjoy material happiness, one must identify with the material body, but as soon as he does, he becomes harassed by innumerable pains and sufferings. A dead body feels no pain, so it is the soul who experiences such happiness and distress. But, this is not the original function of the soul, for He is the eternal servant of Krishna.
The Avanti-brahmana concluded by saying, “I shall cross over this ocean of nescience by remaining fixed in service at the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord. This process was approved by all the previous acharyas, who were themselves fixed in devotional service to Lord Mukunda.”
By becoming detached from the loss of his property, the Avanti brahmana was freed from all moroseness. While travelling over the earth, he chanted this song and never deviated from Krishna consciousness, even when foolish rascals insulted him.
Lord Krishna then said, “My dear Uddhava, control your mind by fixing your intelligence upon Me- this is the essence of yoga. Anyone who hears or recites this song of the sannyasi will never again become overwhelmed by the dualities of material happiness and distress. Now, I shall describe to you Sankhya, for by understanding this ancient philosophy, one can immediately give up the illusion of material duality.”
A devotee, having complete faith in Vedic understanding, can fix his mind on Lord Krishna and free himself from material entanglement without any extraneous endeavor. The Sankhya system, however, very carefully analyzes the distinction between matter and spirit, so that one can understand the necessity of withdrawing the mind from sense gratification and fixing it on the spiritual platform.
Lord Krishna said, “During Krita-yuga, when all were self-realized, and before that, when all was merged within the Absolute Truth and thus He was the only Seer, there was no distinction between the seer and the seen. The one Absolute Truth manifests two natures, the material nature (prakriti) and the conscious living entities (purusha).”
“When I had glanced over material nature, the three modes became manifest, so that they could fulfill the pending desires of the conditioned souls. From the modes of nature, the mahat-tattva is manifested along with the primeval sutra (the potency for activity). From the transformation of the modes of nature, false ego is generated, which then causes physical sensation, the senses and the mind. From false ego in ignorance, physical sensation arises, which in turn, generates the gross elements. From false ego in passion come the senses, and from false ego in goodness come eleven demigods.”
“Impelled by Me, all of these combine to form a universal egg, which is My superior place of residence. I appeared within this egg, which was floating on the causal ocean, and from the lotus growing from My navel, Brahma was born. Lord Brahma, the soul of the universe, endowed with the mode of passion, performed great austerities, by My mercy. Thereafter, he created the three planetary divisions, called Bhur, Bhuvar and Svar, along with their presiding deities.”
“Svar becomes the residence of the demigods- Bhuvarloka, the abode of ghostly spirits- and the Earth, the place for human beings and other mortal creatures. Lord Brahma also created regions below the earth for the Nagas and demons. The four topmost planets- Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapaloka and Satyaloka are meant for those who perform great austerities. In the mighty river that is material existence, one sometimes rises to the surface and then once again becomes submerged.”
“Although the mahat-tattva is the ingredient cause of creation, the whole material manifestation remains only so long as I glance upon it, and thus it is I alone Who am the ultimate cause. At the time of annihilation, the creative process is reversed. The elements become merged within the mahat-tattva, which then dissolves into the three modes of nature. The gunas merge into avyakta (the unmanifest) which in turn, merges into time. Time merges into Maha-Vishnu, Who then merges into Me, the Supreme Soul, Who remains alone, established within Himself.”
“Uddhava, just as the rising sun drives away all darkness, so, an understanding of this scientific knowledge of Sankhya removes all illusion of bodily identification from the mind of the serious student.”
“O best among men, I shall now describe how the conditioned soul acquires various natures, according to his association with nature’s modes, which mix together and then compete for supremacy. Mind and sense control, tolerance, truthfulness, adherence to duty, discrimination, mercy, generosity, renunciation of sense gratification, faith in the spiritual master, being embarrassed by improper action, simplicity, humility and self-satisfaction. These are qualities of the mode of goodness.”
“Material desires, great endeavor, audacity, dissatisfaction even with gain, false pride, sense gratification, eagerness to fight, love of praise, tendency to ridicule others, self-aggrandizement, and belief in one’s superiority. These are qualities of the mode of passion.”
“Intolerant anger, miserliness, hatred, living as a parasite, hypocrisy, chronic fatigue, quarrel, delusion, moroseness, sleeping too much, fear, laziness and false expectations. These are qualities of the mode of ignorance.”
“A person in goodness is recognized by his self-control. A passionate person is recognized by his lust, and a person in ignorance by his anger.”
“Anyone who worships Me without expectation of gain is understood to be in the mode of goodness. When a person worships Me with hopes for material benefit, he is understood to be in the mode of passion. One who worships Me with the desire to hurt others is in the mode of ignorance.”
“By manifesting within the mind, the three modes of material nature cause the conditioned soul to become attached to objects in various ways. When goodness predominates over passion and ignorance, a person becomes happy within himself, virtuous, and endowed with wisdom. When passion (which causes attachment) predominates over goodness and ignorance, a person struggles hard to gain wealth and prestige. When ignorance conquers passion and goodness, it makes a person foolish and dull. He sleeps excessively, indulges in false hopes, and is prone to violence.”
“In the mode of goodness, one becomes aware of a higher, spiritual nature. In the mode of passion, one speculates about himself and the visible world around him. In the mode of ignorance, one becomes absorbed in the knowledge of eating, sleeping, mating and defending, without any higher purpose.”
“Residence in the forest is in goodness, residence in a town is in passion, and residence in a place of gambling is ignorance. Residence in My temple is transcendental.”
“Faith (sraddha) in spiritual life is the characteristic of goodness. Faith in fruitive work is indicative of passion, and faith in sinful life signifies ignorance. Faith in My devotional service is transcendental.”
“Considering all of this, one should intelligently free himself from the contamination of nature’s modes by exclusively engaging in loving devotional service to Me. First of all, the modes of passion and ignorance can be conquered by engaging oneself only with things in the mode of goodness. Then, while remaining fixed in devotional service, the mode of goodness can be conquered by adopting an attitude of indifference.”
The Supreme Lord then said, “The human form of life is the opportunity to realize Me. When one is fixed in consciousness of Me, by constant engagement in devotional service, then he can give up his false identification with the products of material nature, even though they surround him. A devotee should never associate with materialistic persons who are dedicated to gratifying their stomachs and genitals. By following such persons, one falls into the deepest pit of darkness, just like a blind man who follows another blind man. Please hear Me now, as I narrate to you the following story about King Pururava, who was also called Aila”
After losing his wife, Urvashi, Pururava, at first, became greatly bewildered. Then, by carefully controlling his lamentation, the king began to feel detachment. When Urvashi was leaving him, Pururava ran after her like a madman, naked, while crying out, “O my wife, O terrible lady! Please stop!”
Pururava had enjoyed sex pleasure with Urvashi for many years, but still he had not become satisfied at heart. Indeed, he was so attracted to her that he could not even understand how the days and nights were passing.
King Aila then said, “Oh! Just see the extent of my delusion! Being embraced by this goddess, my heart became so polluted that I could not understand how my life was passing. Indeed, she cheated me to such an extent that I didn’t even notice the rising and setting of the sun! I am supposed to be the emperor of the entire world, and yet, out of foolishness, I became just like a pet animal in the hands of a woman! I considered myself to be such a powerful hero, and yet she gave me up as if I was no more significant than a blade of grass! And still, I followed her, naked and without shame, crying out like a madman! Just like a donkey being kicked in the face by a she-donkey, I ran after the woman who had rejected me!”
“What is the use of so much education, austerity and renunciation if, after all that, one’s mind becomes stolen away by a woman? Even though I tasted Urvashi's sweetness for many years, my lusty desires never became satisfied, just as a fire is never extinguished by pouring any amount of ghee. Who else but the Supreme Lord can save my consciousness, which was stolen away by a prostitute? My intelligence had become so dull, because of my uncontrolled senses. Thus, even when Urvashi gave me good advice (to never trust a woman), I could not understand the truth of it. But still, I cannot blame Urvashi for all of my suffering because I am ignorant of my real, spiritual nature. I am just like a person who mistakes a harmless rope to be a snake.”
Actually, there are two aspects of Pururava’s mistake. As pointed out here, he considered his material body to be his real self, and Urvashi’s body to be her real self. That is one aspect of his mistake. In addition, Pururava considered Urvashi to be an object for his personal enjoyment, rather than being meant for the pleasure of the Supreme Lord.
Pururava continued, “What is this filthy body, anyway? I was attracted to this woman’s body, but its beauty was simply a false covering created by the illusory energy of the Lord. And, whose property is the body, anyway? Does it belong to the parents who gave birth to it? To his wife, who gives it pleasure, or to his employer who orders it around? Does it belong to the funeral pyre- or to the dogs, worms or vultures that may eventually eat it? Is it the property of the indwelling soul, who partakes of its happiness and distress?”
“One can never really decide to whom the body belongs, but still, he becomes very attached to it. Even though the material body is heading toward a lowly destination, a man stares at a woman’s face and thinks, ‘O what a beautiful woman! Just see her sweet smile!’ The illusory potency of maya enters into the female form and thus bewilders a man’s mind. But, when he embraces a woman’s body, he just gets two hands full of blood, pus, stool, urine, skin, bone and flesh. Indeed, what is the difference between a woman, and a person who is attached to a woman? Both are trying to enjoy this bag of skin and bones.”
“Even those persons who theoretically understand the real nature of this material body should never associate with women, or men who are too attached to women. Because, when the senses contact their objects, the mind undoubtedly becomes agitated. After all, that which it has neither seen nor heard of does not disturb the mind. Therefore, if a person restrains his senses, then his mind will automatically become pacified. For this reason, one should never let his senses associate freely with women or those who are attached to women. Even highly learned persons cannot trust the six enemies of the mind, and so what to speak of a foolish person like me?”
Having chanted this song, Maharaja Pururava renounced the elevation to Urvashi’s planet that he had achieved. Instead, he began wandering over the earth, satisfied within himself.
Lord Krishna then said, “Understanding Me to be the Supreme Lord, and having his illusion cleared by transcendental knowledge, Pururava at last achieved peace. From this narration, an intelligent person should learn to reject all bad association. Instead, he should associate with saintly devotees whose words cut off excessive attachment within the mind.”
“O greatly fortunate Uddhava, in the association of devotees there is constant discussion of Me, which certainly purifies one of all sins. When one associates with advanced devotees, he becomes faithfully dedicated to Me and achieves My devotional service. What more, then, remains to be accomplished?”
“Just as cold, fear, and darkness are eradicated when one approaches the sacrificial fire- so, fear and ignorance also vanish when one engages in serving the devotees of the Lord. Such devotees are like a strong boat that comes to rescue persons about to drown in the ocean. Just as food is the life of all creatures, so I am the ultimate shelter of those who are distressed. Just as religion is the wealth of those who are trying to cross over this world, so, My devotees are the only refuge of persons who are fearful of falling down into a miserable condition of life. Whereas the sun enables external vision, and only after it has risen, My devotees bestow divine eyes that remove the darkness of ignorance.”
Shri Uddhava said, “My dear Lord, please explain to me the prescribed method of worshiping You in Your Deity form.”
The Supreme Lord said, “My dear Uddhava, the prescriptions for executing Deity worship are unlimited, so I shall explain the subject briefly. The Deity is of eight varieties- made of stone, wood, metal, earth, paint, sand, the mind and jewels. These forms can be established temporarily or permanently. Once called, however, the permanent Deity can never be sent away.”
“The neophyte devotee should worship Me in My Deity form by offering the most opulent paraphernalia. This will constantly remind him that I am the supreme enjoyer. An elevated devotee may worship Me with whatever is easily available, or He may even worship Me within his heart, by offering mental paraphernalia.”
“Bathing and decoration are the most pleasing offerings in temple worship. But, actually, whatever My devotee offers Me with faith, even if it is only a little water, is very pleasing to Me. Even very opulent offerings made by nondevotees do not satisfy Me. But, I am always pleased when devotees offer Me with love any insignificant thing. What to speak, then, of a devotee who offers me nice fragrant oil, incense, flowers and food?”
“Before worshiping the Deity, one should clean his teeth and bathe. Then, he should sit on a mat of kusha grass whose tips are pointed eastward. The devotee should know that I, the Supreme Soul whose presence surcharges the entire body- and the Deity- are one and the same. He should feel that by worshiping the Deity, he is inviting the Paramatma to appear before him to accept his offerings.”
“The Deity should be bathed daily, and as opulently as possible, using water scented with sandalwood, camphor, and aguru. While bathing the Deity, the worshiper should chant suitable prayers, such as the Purusha-sukta. The devotee should then lovingly dress the Deity, while applying marks of tilaka, and he should offer fragrant oils, nice garlands, and a sacred thread. When the decoration is finished, a mirror should be offered and then nice food should be given, while the Deity is entertained with singing and dancing.”
“Those who are able should build a good temple for the Deity, and surrounding gardens should provide flowers for the Lord’s service. In addition, anyone who offers the Deity land, markets and villages, so that the worship can go on very nicely, will achieve opulence equal to My own. By installing the Deity, one can become king of the earth. By building a temple, one can become ruler of the three worlds. By worshiping and serving the Deity, one goes to the planet of Lord Brahma, and by doing all of these, one achieves a transcendental form like My own.”
“If a devotee engages in devotional service with no thought of fruitive results, then He comes back to Me. Anyone who steals the property of a demigod or brahmana, even if given by himself, must live as a worm in stool for one hundred million years. Those who assist such robbery, or even simply approve of it, must share in the reaction, in his next life.”
The Supreme Lord then said, “One should neither praise nor criticize the nature or activities of the conditioned souls in this world. Such consideration of material good versus bad entangles one in the duality of material existence and thus deviates him from his real self-interest.”
A devotee wants to live with Krishna- he does not aspire for any high or low position in this material world. In jail, a foolish prisoner may distinguish between superior and inferior positions. A free man, however, considers any situation behind bars to be unacceptable. One should praise the mentality and activities of pure devotees, and criticize the materialistic attitude of rebellion against the Supreme Lord. The living entities are constitutionally eternal servants of Krishna. But, when one desires to give up that service and become the lord, himself, there must be something inferior for him to lord it over. Thus, the Supreme Lord manifests the material world so that the rebellious jivas can feel that they are predominating.
There are two main kinds of material duality. First, there are the opposites- such as, heat and cold, good and bad, rich and poor, beautiful and ugly. These automatically manifest in the bodily concept of life. Second, is the conception that the whole material manifestation is separate from, or independent of, the Supreme Lord. When a person thoroughly understands the temporary, illusory nature of material objects, being convinced that they cannot be the ultimate reality, then he can no longer remain absorbed in concepts of duality, and he becomes freed from material attachment.
Shri Uddhava said, “My dear Lord, the soul is endowed with pure knowledge, and the material body in itself is not a conscious entity. How then, can either of these experience the ignorance of material existence? The spirit soul is pure and self-luminous, whereas the body is dull matter. Who is it that actually undergoes the experience of conditional life?”
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said, “As long as the soul remains attached to the material body, his material existence will continue, even though it is meaningless. It is a fact that the soul is transcendental. But, as long as he wants to lord it over material nature, his conditional life will not cease. Birth and death, as well as hankering and lamentation, are experiences of the false ego (illusory identification with the body) and not the spirit soul. When a living entity identifies with the material body and mind, he develops certain qualities and performs various kinds of work. Then, later on, he assumes the form of his quality and work, for it is these that determine his next body.”
The conditioned soul runs here and there, under the force of time, as material nature creates his embodiments, one after another. In the human form of life, though, one can comprehend the messages of Godhead, and in this way, influence his future condition. Therefore, it is said that we have minute independence, which essentially means that we can either choose to serve Krishna or forget Him.
Lord Krishna continued, “The false ego of the conditioned soul can be cut off, though, with the sword of transcendental knowledge, for it enables him to discriminate spirit from matter. “
“Gold alone is present before the manufacture of so much jewelry. And it is just gold, essentially, that exists, even when so many items of jewelry are present. At the end, when all of the jewelry is melted down, it is still gold alone that exists. In a similar way, it is I alone Who existed before creation, Who exists during the cosmic manifestation, and Who will exist after dissolution.”
“The mind manifests in three phases of consciousness- wakefulness, sleep, and deep sleep- and appears in three different roles- the perceiver, the perceived, and the regulator of perception. But, the Absolute Truth, as the fourth factor, exists separately from all this. The conditioned souls are the marginal potency of the Absolute Personality of Godhead. When they attempt to exploit the Lord’s inferior potency, they fall into illusion, accepting their temporary embodiments as their selves. These false manifestations appear real to the conditioned souls simply because they are exhibited by the self-luminous Absolute Truth.”
In simple terms- a reflection may appear to be real, because of the reality of the object that is reflected.
The Supreme Lord said, “One should understand the transcendental position of the Absolute Truth, and then cut off his misidentification with matter. Being satisfied with the soul’s natural ecstasy, one should desist from all lusty engagements of sense gratification. For one who has realized Me as the Supreme Godhead, what credit is there if his senses are concentrated in meditation on the Supreme, and what blame is there if his senses happen to become agitated? What does it mean to the sun when clouds in the sky come and go? The Absolute Truth is never affected by ignorance, nor is the pure part and parcel spirit soul.”
It is easy to understand that the Absolute Truth never becomes overcome by ignorance and never entangled in material existence. But what about the spirit soul, who is a marginal energy? It is true that the soul is unchanging, and cannot be affected by matter. But, if the soul willfully tries to overlord the material nature, he becomes bewildered, due to her superior prowess. The soul doesn’t deteriorate or change, but he “dreams” that his material condition is real. When he once again reinstates himself in his constitutional position as the eternal servant of Krishna, thus renouncing the desire to enjoy matter, he once again shines forth in his true glory.
The Supreme Lord said, “Until one has completely eliminated all material contamination, he must very carefully avoid those things that are unfavorable for his advancement in Krishna consciousness. A chronic disease, if not fully treated, may return to give distress to the patient. Similarly, the mind that is not fully purified of its perverted tendencies may torment an aspiring devotee. Sometimes, the progress of an immature transcendentalist is checked by attachment to family members, friends, or disciples, who are actually sent by envious demigods for that purpose. Still, by the strength of his accumulated advancement, a fallen transcendentalist will continue his progress in the next life.”
By sexual association with women, a man is driven to enjoy the female form, again and again. Indeed, he remains lusty right up to the moment of death.
The Supreme Lord said, “A conditioned soul performs fruitive work, the reaction of which transforms his embodiment. A self-realized soul has given up all material desires, however, and so he does not engage himself in fruitive work. Such a wise man, whose consciousness is fixed in the self, does not even notice what his body is doing. While sitting, standing, walking, eating, or urinating, he knows that his body is just acting according to its own nature. The temporary creation manifested by the illusory energy is accepted by the conditioned soul as real. But, at the time of liberation, such nescience fades away. Just as the rising sun destroys all darkness, consciousness of Me destroys the darkness of ignorance.”
“My dear Uddhava, aspiring transcendentalists may become deviated by various kinds of bodily disturbances. But these can be counteracted as follows. The practice of yogic postures and breathing exercises can keep the body youthful and free from disease. The performance of austerities, the use of medicinal herbs, and the chanting of mantras can be helpful in this regard. But, the best method of all is the constant remembrance of Me by congregational hearing and chanting of My holy name.”
Shri Uddhava said, “My dear Lord Achyuta, I feel that the practice You have prescribed is very difficult for one who cannot control his mind. Therefore, please explain, in more simple terms, how one can easily execute the process. Generally, it is seen that when yogis try to fix their minds in samadhi, they find it too difficult and become frustrated.”
“O lotus-eyed Lord, because of this, those who are the best of yogis take shelter of Your lotus feet, which are the source of all transcendental ecstasy. But, those yogis who are too proud of their achievements, do not surrender unto You, and so are defeated by Your illusory energy.”
“O infallible Lord, it is not surprising that You reciprocate, internally, with those devotees who have taken complete shelter of You. During Your appearance as Lord Ramachandra, great demigods headed by Lord Brahma used to wait in line just to bow down and touch their helmets to the cushion where Your lotus feet had rested. And yet, You showed intimate friendship with devotees like Hanuman, because they were exclusively dependent upon You. Knowing all this, who would dare to reject You? Who could be so ungrateful, despite knowing that You bestow all possible perfection upon those who take shelter of You? Who would accept someone else, for the sake of gaining material enjoyment, which leads to complete forgetfulness of You? What is lacking for us, who are engaged in the service of the dust of Your lotus feet?”
“O my Lord! Even the most expert transcendental poets, given the lifetime of Brahma, could not fully express their indebtedness to You, because You appear in two features- externally as the acharya, and internally as the Paramatma- to direct the fallen souls back to You.”
Those who are actually devotees feel that they can never repay their debt to the Lord for His having given them engagement in devotional service at His lotus feet.
Lord Krishna- who assumes the three forms of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva- displayed His all-attractive smile and said, “Yes, I shall once again describe to you the principles of devotion unto Me whereby a mortal human being can conquer unconquerable death. First of all, one should take shelter of a holy place where My saintly devotees reside. By chanting and dancing, one should take part, as opulently as possible, in celebrating all the festivals for worshiping Me.”
“O greatly-effulgent Uddhava, a person who looks at all living entities with the understanding that I am present within each and every one, and who therefore offers respect to all, is actually a wise man. Such a person sees equally a brahmana and an outcaste, a thief and a charitable man, a gentle person and a cruel one. By meditating upon My presence within all beings, these bad tendencies are quickly destroyed- rivalry among equals, envy of superiors, and abusiveness toward subordinates- as well as pride due to false ego. Seeing Me within everyone, and disregarding the ridicule of one’s companions, one should offer obeisances before all- even dogs, outcastes, cows and donkeys- falling flat upon the ground. This should be practiced until one has fully developed the ability to see Me within all creatures. Indeed, I consider this process-utilizing one’s body, mind and words for realizing Me within all living beings- to be the best method of spiritual enlightenment.”
“My dear Uddhava, because I have personally established it, you can be certain that a devotee will never suffer even the slightest loss by adopting this process. In a dangerous situation, if one becomes afraid and cries out loudly and laments- it is all in vain. But, if one cries out for My protection, or if one makes an offering to Me without personal motivation, even if externally it appears to be completely useless, it is accepted by Me as the true process of religion.”
“I have thus given you a brief, but nevertheless full, description of the means for realizing the Absolute Truth. The essence of this knowledge is very difficult to understand even for the demigods. But, anyone who does understand will become free from all doubts and attain liberation. One who liberally distributes this knowledge among My devotees is the bestower of the Absolute Truth, and to him I give My very Own Self. By loudly reciting this treatise, one becomes purified, day by day, for he reveals Me to others with the lamp of transcendental knowledge. Anyone who regularly listens to this discourse with faith and attention, all the while engaging in My pure devotional service, will never again become bound by the reactions to fruitive work.”
“My dear friend Uddhava, have you understood all of this? Has your confusion and lamentation become dispelled? But, do not reveal these teachings to anyone who is a hypocrite, who is an atheist, who is dishonest, who will not listen faithfully, who is not a devotee, or who is overly proud. This knowledge should be taught to one who is devoid of these bad qualities, who is dedicated to the welfare of the devotees- and who is kind, saintly and pure. Even women and shudras, if they have devotion for the Supreme Lord, should be accepted as qualified hearers.”
“When an inquisitive person comes to understand this knowledge, there is nothing further for him to learn. Indeed, when a person gives up all fruitive activities and offers himself entirely to Me, he achieves liberation from birth and death, and comes to share My Own opulence.”
After hearing all this, Uddhava joined his hands to offer obeisances. But, because his throat choked up due to love, while his eyes flooded with tears, he could offer no reply. Finally, after steadying his mind, Uddhava bowed his head, touching it to Lord Krishna’s lotus feet. Then, he spoke as follows.
Shri Uddhava said, “My dear Lord, although I had fallen into the darkness of illusion, my ignorance has been dispelled by Your merciful association. In return for my insignificant surrender, You have bestowed upon Your servant the torchlight of transcendental knowledge. What devotee, with any gratitude, could give up Your Lordship for another master?”
Uddhava had approached Lord Krishna, being very afraid of impending separation. By His merciful instructions, the Lord showed Uddhava that, being the Absolute Truth, He is Himself, everything. Thus, in truth, there is nothing that is really separate from Him.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said, “My dear Uddhava, go now to Badarikashrama. Purify yourself by bathing in the holy waters of the Alakananda River, which emanated from My lotus feet. Dress in tree bark and eat whatever is easily available in the forest. Remain content, self-controlled, good-natured and peaceful. With fixed attention, meditate upon these instructions that I have imparted to you. In this way, you will be able to cross over the influence of the three modes of material nature and at last, come back to Me.”
Uddhava circumambulated Krishna and then, after falling flat upon the ground, he placed his head upon the Lord’s lotus feet. Although he was now freed from all material influence, Uddhava’s heart was breaking, because he could not bear the thought of giving up the Lord’s company. While drenching Shri Krishna’s lotus feet with his tears, Uddhava bowed down again and again, placing the Lord’s slippers upon his head. Finally, after placing Lord Krishna deeply within his heart, Uddhava departed for Badarikashrama. After performing great austerities there, he at last attained the Lord’s personal abode.
Shri Shukadeva Gosvami prayed, “I offer my obeisances unto that greatest of all beings, Lord Shri Krishna. Just to destroy the devotees’ fear of material existence- like a bee, He has collected this nectarean essence of all knowledge and self-realization.”