Lecture: Bhagavad-gita 3.37
Aachen, Germany (8 September 2005)
om namo bhagavate vasudevaya . . .
Srimad Bhagavad-gita, Chapter Number Three, Text Number Thirty-Seven:
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world.
When a living entity comes in contact with the material creation, his eternal love for Krishna is transformed into lust, in association with the mode of passion. Or, in other words, the sense of love of God becomes transformed into lust, as milk in contact with sour tamarind is transformed into yogurt. Then again, when lust is unsatisfied, it turns into wrath; wrath is transformed into illusion, and illusion continues the material existence. Therefore, lust is the greatest enemy of the living entity, and it is lust only which induces the pure living entity to remain entangled in the material world. Wrath is the manifestation of the mode of ignorance; these modes exhibit themselves as wrath and other corollaries. If, therefore, the mode of passion, instead of being degraded into the mode of ignorance, is elevated to the mode of goodness by the prescribed method of living and acting, then one can be saved from the degradation of wrath by spiritual attachment.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead expanded Himself into many for His ever-increasing spiritual bliss, and the living entities are parts and parcels of this spiritual bliss. They also have partial independence, but by misuse of their independence, when the service attitude is transformed into the propensity for sense enjoyment, they come under the sway of lust. This material creation is created by the Lord to give facility to the conditioned souls to fulfill these lustful propensities, and when completely baffled by prolonged lustful activities, the living entities begin to inquire about their real position.
This inquiry is the beginning of the Vedanta-sutras, wherein it is said, athato brahma jijnasa: one should inquire into the Supreme. And the Supreme is defined in Srimad-Bhagavatam as janmady asya yato nvayad itaratas ca, or, "The origin of everything is the Supreme Brahman." Therefore the origin of lust is also in the Supreme. If, therefore, lust is transformed into love for the Supreme, or transformed into Krishna consciousness — or, in other words, desiring everything for Krishna — then both lust and wrath can be spiritualized. Hanuman, the great servitor of Lord Rama, exhibited his wrath by burning the golden city of Ravaṇa, but by doing so he became the greatest devotee of the Lord. Here also, in Bhagavad-gita, the Lord induces Arjuna to engage his wrath upon his enemies for the satisfaction of the Lord. Therefore, lust and wrath, when they are employed in Krishna consciousness, become our friends instead of our enemies.
There is an interesting point to be made here: Why do we exist? Sometimes people ask “Why do we exist? What is the point of our existence?” That question is answered here. Krishna expanded Himself into many for His ever-increasing spiritual bliss. Of course, Krishna also states in the Bhagavad-gita, “There was never a time when I did not exist, nor you nor all these kings.” So how can we say that Krishna expanded us when we’ve always existed? The answer is that we are the eternal expansions of Krishna, that he’s been expanding us from Himself eternally. We are eternally being emanated from Krishna; that’s how we exist.
We cannot manifest ourselves. Krishna is manifesting us by His desire for ever-increasing bliss. As Janaki Pandita said, a home without children is a desert; so we see that a husband and wife expand the home life by having some children, to increase the enjoyment of the home life. That same propensity is in God. Even though Krishna is atmarama (He can enjoy completely on His own), because He can do anything He wants He decides to enjoy unlimitedly by expanding unlimited numbers of living entities from Himself for the purpose of increasing His bliss of loving relationships with each and every one of those part-and-parcel living entities. He has a unique relationship with each of them, actually. Just as no two snowflakes are exactly the same, no two jivas are exactly the same. Every jiva has his own, unique qualities and characteristics that make him totally unique, totally different from any other jiva. And because that jiva has his own unique characteristics and qualities, Krishna can have a special flavor or taste in His relationship with that person that He can have with no one else. So this is an interesting point, that in Krishna consciousness we actually understand why we exist and how we exist. No theologians outside of this Vedic culture have the slightest clue as to why we exist. But we have very solid information here from Srila Prabhupada, confirmed in the Vedic wisdom.
So we can understand exactly why we exist. So how does this rascal mentality called ‘lust’ come about? That’s another question: if God is so perfect, then why is the world so imperfect? That’s a very common question. They say, “Well, God is either all good or all powerful, but He’s not both.” They argue that if He were all good there wouldn’t be evil in the world, but that would mean He’s not all-powerful – He has good intentions, but He just can’t control everything; it’s beyond His scope to control everything. Or, they say, He’s all-powerful but He has a bad side also, because He lets all this evil go on. The fact is that He is all-powerful and all-good at the same time. This tendency we have, as described here, to fall under the influence of lust - which, unfulfilled, becomes wrath – that tendency is there for a purpose.
Consider your darling son here, Mukunda: do you threaten him with violence if he doesn’t love you? No. He could not love you if you threatened him with violence - “My dear son, you must love me or I’ll beat you to a bloody pulp.” He could not love. He may pretend to love you out of fear, but he could not genuinely feel affection for you. So the Lord, out of His infinite kindness – actually, it’s His infinite desire to enjoy. Krishna is selfish, let’s face it. He has a right to be; He’s God. He’s doing everything for His own enjoyment. That’s perfect for Krishna, but we cannot do like that. That’s not our position. Only Krishna can do like that. So anyway, He gives the choice to love Him or to leave Him so that we can actually love Him, so that we can actually love Him out of our own free will. That gives Krishna great satisfaction to give us independence and see what we will do with it. It gives Him great happiness when we take that independence, that complete freedom He’s given us to love Him or to leave Him, and we choose to love Him. That gives Him the greatest happiness. In fact, He becomes so satisfied when we do that, that He becomes subordinate to us, His devotees. Krishna is called ajita, unconquerable. Yet he becomes jita (conquered) by His devotees when they love Him purely, without any strings attached, with no conditions.
So this lust and this wrath are simply manifestations of the energy of Krishna which condition the consciousness of those who have opted to leave Krishna. As described here, lust is actually nothing but the love of Krishna, but it’s just in contact with the misuse of our independence. It’s the same energy; it’s just misdirected. Everything is Krishna’s energy, ultimately. That same energy that could be used to satisfy Krishna is being used to rebel against Krishna. So all we have to do is take that energy which we were using to rebel against Krishna and reconnect it with Krishna. If we do so, it will become very wonderful.
There’s a name for doing that: it’s called Krishna consciousness. And we have a society, called the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, in which we do that as a group. Individually and collectively we come together for the purpose of enhancing each others’ Krishna consciousness. There’s energy and there’s synergy; when a group of people come together for the same purpose, Krishna consciousness, the results become magnified thousands and millions of times. So, in nutshell, that is our Krishna consciousness.
We want it to be a little short tonight because we are a bit tired and exhausted from the road. So we’ll ask now if there are any questions.
Srila Prabhupada states that we are given a chance to get frustrated by trying to get lucky in the material world for the purpose of getting back to Krishna by free will – this is a main point. So could you tell us something about the balance between respecting free will and preaching, something concerning the level of preaching? It is necessary to preach at a very high level but not to force others, and to respect their free will . . .
Yes, yes. That’s right. Krishna consciousness is not imposing anything on anyone. It’s not like “I will put you under a spell, and you have to be a Hare Krishna now.” It’s not that I try to take away your free will by a sales pitch. The reality is that every living entity is originally Krishna conscious. Everyone has Krishna bhakti already there within themselves. All we’re doing when we preach Krishna consciousness is helping them to get free of those things which have been imposed upon them and have taken away their free will. They have become subjugated by the influence of tamo-guna, rajo-guna and sattva-guna. They’ve become subjugated by the influence of the three modes of nature and thus lost their free will. They’ve become robots of the three modes; they have no freedom. What we’re doing is bringing them in contact with sabda-brahma (Hare Krishna mantra, Bhagavad-gita philosophy - this is called sabda-brahma). By coming in contact with sabda-brahma the living entity, who has been caught up in these three ropes of goodness, passion and ignorance, can now cut through the ropes. He becomes free.
So it’s just the opposite when we preach. We’re doing nothing but cutting them free from their entanglement within the modes of nature. Then their natural, original propensity to love Krishna will naturally come. You don’t have to force it. All you have to do is free them from the influence of the modes. Give them a transcendental atmosphere, with kirtan, prasadam and wonderful, loving Vaisnava dealings. Everyone in material world is friendly, but there’s always some lusty thing behind it – “What can I get out of this, anyway?” But in Krishna consciousness we don’t have any ulterior motive. We just want to give them the knowledge of who they are and empower them to be who they are. That’s all we’re really doing.
All we’re really saying to them is “know who you are and be who you are.” That’s our message in a nutshell. If someone asks you, “What is your Krishna consciousness philosophy?” you can boil it down to the simple slogan: “Know who you are and be who you are.” . . . “My dear sir, we’d like you to know who you are. That’s all. And we’ll teach you how to be who you are.” If you really want to boil it down to the simplest, most understandable thing, that’s all we’re really saying to the world society: “Know who you are and be who you are.” We’re not imposing anything. All we’re doing is taking those things away that have been imposed upon them.
Q2 – [same inquirer]
The balance is very hard to live when you know who you are, but also know where you stand. “Be who you are” means to be honest and not trying to be someone else, to be more highly developed, you know? Again you have conflict. You know the philosophy, you know the recommendations of Srila Prabhupada, and you know where you stand. So sometimes it’s like getting a short circuit within the brain, you know?
The only thing that’s standing in the way is our conditioning. We’ve been programmed into thinking “I’m a male,” “I’m a female,” “I’m German,” “I’m Indian” and so forth. The only thing that’s standing in the way is our conditioning. That’s why kirtan and prasadam are very good. These things help to purify away the conditioning. We’re taught from a little child’s age, “Oh, you’re such a cute little boy.” Aren’t we? “Oh, you’re such a cute little boy.” In this way we condition children. But you’re not actually a boy; you’re a spirit soul. That you should know. We have to educate people from childhood.
Let’s face it. Growing up here in the Western world we’ve been so miseducated. It’s difficult for us to just know who we are and be who we are. We’ve been so misguided, so horribly misguided, for how many years? Ever since we came out of our mother’s womb we’ve been misguided. It’s not surprising that we’re so bewildered even though we’ve heard Bhagavad-gita so many times. We’ve chanted Hare Krishna so many times, we’ve had so much prasadam, we’ve met so many advanced devotees, yet still our minds are bewildered. We’re so horribly conditioned. So we just have to go on hearing, hearing, hearing; chanting, chanting, chanting; praying, praying praying; bowing down, bowing down, bowing down. Stick to the process of sadhana-bhakti. Nava-vidha bhakti: sravana kirtana smarana vandana . . . In this way, take the ninefold path, the ninefold activities of bhakti-yoga. Practice them very, very seriously. And then all of this conditioning influence will go away and that glorious day will come when we will actually become completely pure devotees and we’ll be able to see Krishna face to face. Prabhupada told me that. He wrote me a letter and he told me, “Now you just qualify yourself to see Krishna face to face.” Can you imagine being able to meet Krishna, just like you and I are seeing each other, face to face? You could actually be sitting with Krishna and seeing Him face to face. What kind of exalted state of consciousness that would be? Prabhupada wants you to come to that position.
How are you going to come to that position? You have to be very introspective. ‘Introspective’ means examining yourself; you look within to examine your own psyche, your own mind. ‘Extrospective’ means to see what’s happening outside, and ‘introspective’ means to see what’s happening inside. Introspection means that you have to see that every thought you are thinking, every word that’s coming out of your mouth and every activity you’re performing with your body is pleasing to Krishna.
So how do you know what pleases Krishna? Well, Guru is there; Vaisnavas are there; scripture is there. From these three sources you can know what is pleasing to Krishna and what is not pleasing to Krishna: Guru (the spiritual master), scripture and the devotees. From these three sources we can know, “Is this thought I’m thinking, is this word I’m speaking, is this activity I’m performing with my body pleasing to Krishna, or not?” Pure devotion means that you come to that point where everything you think, speak and do is pleasing to Krishna – completely, one hundred percent. That is called pure bhakti.
So how do you come to that point? You have to practice. You have to always watch yourself. Am I thinking properly? Am I speaking properly? Am I acting properly? Always be looking, looking, and ask the senior devotees to correct you if you’re doing something wrong. Find some devotees you trust; put yourself under their supervision. “Kindly tell me if I’m saying something offensive or if I have the wrong attitude or if I’m doing the wrong thing.” That’s called humility: to be willing to submit yourself to the Vaisnavas for rectification of your faults. Of course, if you’re free of faults there’s no need. Be the reality is, aren’t we full of faults? Aren’t we full of faults? Aren’t you full of faults? Yes. That is our position, isn’t it? We are full of faults. Just like a honeycomb full of honey, we’re full of faults. So that’s why we have a family called ISKCON where we can ask our fellow devotees, “Please point out my faults; help me get over my faults.”
Once we find that there are some faults with us, how do we correct them? Even if you want to correct them, they come again and again. Even if we know that we are wrong, it’s difficult to correct ourselves.
Ah. [to another devotee] Do you want to answer that one? Even if you know the fault is there, how do you correct it? When you keep doing the same thing again and again and again, how do you get over it – when you have a habit of doing the same fault again and again, how do you get over that bad habit? You give an answer for that. Do you want to answer that? [No] Okay, then I’ll answer.
You have to beg the mercy of Guru and the Vaisnavas to help you get over your bad habits. If you become humble before the spiritual master and before the Vaisnavas, they will be very kind upon you. Every time you start to make that mistake, they’ll chastise you, “You’re doing that again, you rascal! You’re doing it again.”
What if it’s not your fault?
What if you’re being wrongly corrected, for something you’re not doing, and they’re making a mistake?
All right. Let’s say you submit yourself to the devotees’ correction and they’re making a mistake in correcting you for something that you’re doing right. That sometimes happens. That happened to Jayapataka Svami when he was a young brahmacari. Prabhupada had told him, “Every day, you bring me a flower.” So he went to the temple treasury and said, “Prabhupada wants me to bring him a flower every day, so you give me the money to buy it.” And they said, “No, you can’t do that. That’s maya.” So Jayapataka was bewildered. Prabhupada had said, “Bring me a flower” and the temple treasury said, “No, that’s maya; you can’t do that.” They didn’t have much money and thought maybe Jayapataka had made the story up. So Jayapataka was bewildered; he didn’t know what to do. He did end up doing it. He brought Prabhupada a flower every day.
So what if you’re being corrected by some devotee and actually he’s the one who’s wrong, and shouldn’t have been correcting you? At that point, you always know that Krishna is your best friend within the heart. He says in Chapter Ten, Verse Number Ten:
“To those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give them the understanding by which they can come to Me.” So all you have to do is be sincere, and then you’ll know when you’re being rightly corrected or wrongly corrected. The chances are that you’re probably being rightly corrected . . . but sometimes we are wrongly corrected also. We have to know that, and if we are sincere, Krishna will give us the intelligence to know when we’re being rightly corrected and when we’re being wrongly corrected, so we can know when to take the correction and surrender to it or when to just let it bounce off. It all boils down to sincerity.
Any other questions?
If there are no other questions, then I think we can end here. We might go on a little longer, but we’re tired from the road and want to get some early rest. But we’re so happy to be here with you wonderful devotees. We’re blessed by your sanga. Even though we are just aparadhis, you have allowed us into your home here; you’ve kindly opened your door to these offenders. We just pray that we will not commit any aparadha while we are here; that all our thoughts, words and activities can be pleasing to you all while we’re here. We’re just praying for that. We don’t want to create any offense while we’re here.
[response from devotee] Thank you very much for this small chance to see you and have your association.
So – anything else?
I have a question. There was one member of our congregation who was asking a question at one program. (I’m just repeating what he said.) He said that when the devotees were practicing it was not right; he said there were so many faults . . . But still, when you know more about Krishna consciousness you feel that you have more faults within yourself, and when you are such a condition you feel disqualified, in a sort of depression . . .
So you’re wondering: The more you advance in Krishna consciousness, the more you see your faults, and thus you become depressed?
No, it doesn’t work that way. The more you can actually see your faults, the more Krishna will give you the ability to subdue and conquer them. For example, you may hear that you have cancer, which is pretty disturbing. But when you find out exactly where the cancer is in your body and you find out what the exact treatment is for eradicating the cancer, you feel better.
After you are cured.
Yes, but even while the cure is in progress, you’re feeling good. You’re feeling relief – “Ah, the cure is working.” Even before you’re completely cured you already feel happy. That’s stated in the Bhagavatam. What’s that verse?
Even when your anarthas are reduced almost to nil, you feel great happiness and joy. Even though the anarthas still there, you’re now conquering over them. It’s not that when you find out how contaminated you are you become more unhappy; no. When you actually realize the real fact about yourself, and you actually find the means of conquering over those anarthas, you become more and more and more joyful. That’s the reality. If he’s feeling depressed, that means he’s still holding on to his pride. He hasn’t yet submitted himself for rectification before Guru and Vaisnavas.
. . . you see that someone is trying to be ‘humble’, but they cannot practice humility, so then it happens that they go into depression . . . Many people say “I think I am humble, I’m trying to act humble, I feel myself very low” . . .
The more you actually feel yourself low, the more you become exultant.
But there are two sides to it. If you start practicing ‘humbleness’ and ‘lowliness’ in the karmi way, then you will feel depression; but at the same time . . .
In the karmi world everything is depressing.
There’s the story about the snake. When he became a devotee, everybody started throwing stones at him.
Yes. When you’re dealing with people with a materialistic mentality, you may have to show your strength. Do you know what Prabhupada said about debating with materialists? He said, “I act like a king because nobody can defeat me.” Amongst the saintly devotees, you make yourself very humble. But when it comes to defeating materialistic philosophy, a devotee acts like a king, a conquering pandita. Do you know what Prabhupada told us? “Go village to village, city to city, town to town, and make digvijaya.” Digvijaya means one who conquers in all directions. You make digvijaya. “There is God - I can prove that there is God! Who are you to say there is no God? Come on!” You see? That’s actually humility.
Humility means to surrender to the order of Guru. It doesn’t mean to hold your head down. Humility means to surrender to Guru’s order. The spiritual master orders that you should challenge everyone: “Why are you an atheist? You must accept Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” That is humility – when you challenge everyone on the order of your guru - on the order of Prabhupada and on the order of the scriptures.
One more question . . . I am working in one of the biggest companies in the world. Actually, I had a big dream to work at such a company. But now I don’t feel very comfortable working with so many mundane people –
Yes; that’s good.
There is so much envy and such. I feel some sort of duplicity . . . I have to show up there and I have to . . .
Yes, you have to do that in the material world; that’s right.
I feel very disturbed. The people don’t have any interest in spiritual life. They are completely absorbed in the tamo-guna. . . . and I am thinking [about] . . . what I have to do and what I’m supposed to do.
Well, if you can maintain yourself by running your own business without working there [at your present workplace], that is all right. Money is necessary, so you have to do something for making money. If you can start your own company and put Ericsson out of business, that would be great. Then you can create the atmosphere of the company. If you’re the owner of the company, you can create the atmosphere that you like. People would have to have your attitude. Now you have to pretend that you agree with their attitude. But if you start your own company, then they have to work according to your attitude. You can train them to be the way you want them to be if you own the company. So that’s one solution. Learn everything you can and start your own business.
I’m thinking that, too.
You’re thinking that? Krishna must have told me, then. He must have given me the tip that I should tell you this, because I had no idea that you were thinking like that. But that’s a fact. The safest thing to do is keep you current job and do it part-time, so you don’t lose any income or have any sleepless nights, with your wife in total anxiety about whether or not the rent will be paid. You do your sixteen rounds, you go to work, and you also start your own business on the side. Then when it really takes off and it’s solid, you can step out of your present job. That’s what I did.
[Mataji] But they can fire him if they come to know . . .
Well, it doesn’t have to be a competitive business. It could be in another field, too. I did that. I worked full-time, and then I went part-time, and then I started my own business; and then I gave that up and became a full-time preacher. That’s what I did. I worked a job for some time, and then I worked part-time, and then I started my own business and stopped working for karmis, and then I became a full-time preacher, a vanaprastha.
I started my own business three-and-a-half years ago. I have to say, when you were talking about the situation at Ericsson I was getting the impression that you feel very lonely there. I also feel very lonely in my everyday life because I have to deal with very materialistic people while selling water filter systems. And to talk with these people . . . I have to talk to them, I have to [shake hands with them]; you know, I have to get –
Then you should do book distribution also - on the side, not at the same time. You spend some time with your water-filter business, and then you do your book distribution. The top water-filter distributor in North America also does book distribution. Not at the same time, but he does one for a little while and then does the other – he does both. Vaisesika Prabhu does book distribution – he’s a big book distributor. So you take some time selling water filters to cover your maintenance, and then you go out and distribute books, using all that skill you have selling water filters. Use that skill to distribute Prabhupada’s books. Then you won’t feel lonely. You’ll feel Krishna with you at every minute.
Every chance I take to spread Krishna consciousness, I feel very good.
You won’t feel lonely if you start preaching. You’ll feel Krishna with you at every minute. Prabhupada will be with you, and Bhaktisiddhanta and Bhaktivinode Thakura – they’ll all be sitting with you at every minute. You’ll have all the acaryas with you. You won’t feel lonely anymore if you preach. You have to preach.
Yes, I know; but why is it so hard to take this step, this final step - to live completely by book distribution, for example?
No, don’t try to live completely by book distribution. Do it as a hobby on the side.
Yes, but if you come to a realization that you feel so happy when you do it, still there’s some kind of insecurity alive inside. To maintain myself I still have to go on with this business - to pay for the flat, to pay the utilities –
Do whatever is practical. I don’t know what the policy here is about individuals doing book distribution. It depends on what the policy is in your country. In America, anybody who wants to can buy books from the BBT, sell them, and keep the profit. That’s considered to be okay in America. It just depends on what the policy is in Germany, whether they allow you keep the profit from selling books. That’s up to the leadership in Germany. Whatever you do, you have to be in harmony with the ISKCON leadership.
Okay. I have one very short question.
Okay; this will be the last one.
Nothing big and philosophical, but rather concerning the harinam tomorrow . . . I had a discussion . . . we’re not allowed to get too loud . . .
Transcribed by Her Grace Labangalatika devi dasi