Lecture, Bhagavad-gita 2:13
Amsterdam - 18 October 2005
om namo bhagavate vasudevaya . . .
Tonight we are reading from the ultimate book of knowledge, Srimad Bhagavad-gita, Chapter Number Two, Contents of the Gita Summarized, Text Number Thirteen.
dehinah – of the embodied; asmin – in this; yatha – as; dehe – in the body; kaumaram – boyhood; yauvanam – youth; jara – old age; tatha - similarly; deha-antara – of transference of the body; praptih – achievement; dhirah – the sober; tatra – thereupon; na - never; muhyati – is deluded.
Translation and purport by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada:
As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.
Since every living entity is an individual soul, each is changing his body at every moment, manifesting sometimes as a child, sometimes as a youth, and sometimes as an old man. Yet the same spirit soul is there and does not undergo any change. This individual soul finally changes the body at death and transmigrates to another body; and since it is sure to have another body in the next birth – either material or spiritual – there was no cause for lamentation by Arjuna on account of death, neither for Bhisma nor for Drona, for whom he was so much concerned. Rather, he should rejoice for their changing bodies from old ones to new ones, thereby rejuvenating their energy. Such changes of body account for varieties of enjoyment or suffering, according to one’s work in life. So Bhisma and Drona, being noble souls, were surely going to have spiritual bodies in the next life, or at least life in the heavenly bodies for superior enjoyment of material existence. So, in either case, there was no cause for lamentation.
Any man who has perfect knowledge of the constitution of the individual soul, the Supersoul, and nature – both material and spiritual – is called a dhira, or a most sober man. Such a man is never deluded by the change of bodies.
The Mayavadi theory of oneness of the spirit soul cannot be entertained, on the ground that the spirit soul cannot be cut into pieces as a fragmental portion. Such cutting into different individual souls would make the Supreme cleavable or changeable, against the principle of the Supreme soul’s being unchangeable. As confirmed in the Gita, the fragmental portions of the Supreme exist eternally (sanatana) and are called ksara; that is, they have a tendency to fall down into material nature. These fragmental portions are eternally so, and even after liberation the individual soul remains the same – fragmental. But once liberated, he lives an eternal life in bliss and knowledge with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The theory of reflection can be applied to the Supersoul, who is present in each and every individual body and is known as the Paramatma. He is different from the individual living entity. When the sky is reflected in the water, the reflections represent both the sun and the moon and the stars also. The stars can be compared to the living entities, and the sun or the moon to the Supreme Lord. The individual fragmental spirit soul is represented by Arjuna, and the Supreme Soul is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna. They are not on the same level, as it will be apparent in the beginning of the Fourth Chapter. If Arjuna is on the same level as Krishna, and Krishna is not superior to Arjuna, then their relationship of instructor and instructed becomes meaningless. If both of them are deluded by the illusory energy (maya), then there is no need of one being the instructor and the other the instructed. Such instruction would be useless because, in the clutches of maya, no one can be an authoritative instructor. Under the circumstances, it is admitted that Lord Krishna is the Supreme Lord, superior in position to the living entity, Arjuna, who is a forgotten soul deluded by maya.
om ajnana-timirandhasya jnananjana-salakaya
sri-caitanya-mano-bhistam sthapitam yena bhu-tale
This verse deals with the whole question of identity. This is actually a big thing nowadays in the world of psychology – the “identity crisis.” People are struggling for identity, so the psychologists try to give them some sense of identity. But because it’s all based on the illusory energy it doesn’t work. It doesn’t actually satisfy people. They may temporarily go on for some time thinking, “Yes, I have a new sense of identity; a psychologist counseled me, and now I think I’m a horse trainer” or this or that – but it’s all temporary. The actual identity is “I am eternal spiritual being.” That is an unchangeable identity. The other things can be done: I can be a politician; I can be a priest; I can be an artist - I can be so many things, but these are temporary things. You can do so many things; that’s all right. But beneath that, you have to know who you actually, essentially are. Otherwise you will never be satisfied doing this thing or that thing.
So in this verse Krishna is very kindly giving us some hint. Here he says that the embodied soul, this dehina (dehina means the material body, one who has a material body) changes so many bodies. Actually, the body is constantly changing; it’s a constant flux. Prabhupada says that at every moment there are something like a hundred trillion cells that make up our bodies, with huge numbers of cells dying at every minute and new ones coming. The body is constantly changing – it never stays the same. It’s just like a river, where the water is always changing. For example, in the U.S. they have the Mississippi River; it’s fed by the Ohio and Missouri Rivers, and dumps into the Gulf of Mexico. So you may stand on the bank of the Missouri River and say, “This water is Missouri River water” – but tomorrow it will be Mississippi River water, and day after tomorrow it will be Gulf of Mexico water. It’s the same water molecules, but it becomes designated differently. What you’re calling your body today may be somebody else’s body tomorrow.
So who are you? Are you those chemicals that make up your body? No, because those chemicals don’t stay with you. Those chemicals simply gather around the atma, the spiritual being. In a certain state of mind, the spirit soul attracts a cluster of chemicals called the material body - and that cluster is constantly changing. It never stays the same; at every second it’s changing. The body you have right now is not the same body you had when you walked into this temple room. And the body you have when you leave this temple room will not be the same body you have right now, because it’s constantly changing.
So who am I? Are my eyes seeing, or am I seeing through my eyes? Are my ears hearing, or am I hearing through my ears? Is my skin feeling, or am I feeling through my skin? These are things we have to think about.
Most people say, “What’s the use? What’s in it for me? Can I make some money from this? Can I get some sex pleasure? I’m not interested in what you Hare Krishnas are talking about because it’s not money, it’s not sex, it’s not liquor – so what good is it?” Well, the fact is that on the platform of money, sex and liquor you’re just dealing with the material body. You’re not dealing with the actual spiritual being within. And because you’re not actually touching the true living being, you may titillate the body but you will never satisfy the spiritual being within. In spite of so much advancement in the forms of sex enjoyment, intoxication and money-making here in these Western countries, can you show me some people who are actually effulgent with spiritual happiness, who are beaming like sun-gods walking down the street in total bliss? Everyone, practically everyone, is walking around with a dark cloud hanging over their heads, trying to fake it – “Yes, I’m happy, I’m successful”, some of them; and some of them, “Yeah, I’m miserable; I’m on the bottom of the heap.” But everybody - whether you go to the highest planet or the lowest planet, from the most wealthy, powerful, influential people all the way down to the people who are being exploited the most – everyone is miserable. The exploiters are miserable and the exploited are miserable. Everyone is miserable here. Why? Because they have to go through the cycle of birth and death.
But here it’s described by Krishna that a sober person is not bewildered by this constant change of bodies that’s going on. In Sanskrit the word is dhira: one who has transcendental knowledge; one who is fixed in Krishna consciousness; one who knows, “I am not this body, I am an eternal spiritual being.” That person derives his or her happiness from the transcendental loving relationship with the Supreme Person Krishna, or God - that person derives great unlimited pleasure and satisfaction from a loving relationship with the person Krishna, or God. Any love we may give in this world has an ending point. But when we give our love to Krishna, that love has no ending point. That love goes on increasing ad infinitum. You may give your love to some person in this world and want them to reciprocate, but they have so many obligations; so how much time can they give you? What percentage of their heart can they give you if they have so many commitments, so many friends? We want a place where we can give our love and get full reciprocation. We’re all hankering for that. Everyone wants a place where they can give their love and get unlimited reciprocation. Nobody in this world can give that to us. But that unlimited reciprocation we can find in God because His powers are unlimited. His ability to know, to understand, and to reciprocate are not restricted by any material situation. So when we give our love to Krishna, we get something different.
If someone is skeptical about all of this, that’s all right. We can understand that you’ve been cheated so many times by so many people with so many different dogmas and philosophies. We can understand why you’re skeptical. All we say is this: just give Krishna consciousness a try. Give it a fair try. Just give it the benefit of the doubt that maybe it’s true - “Maybe this Krishna conscious philosophy is the absolute truth. Let me just do an experiment to see if it really is or not.” So we encourage everyone: Try chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Try bowing down before Krishna. Try eating the foodstuffs which have been offered to the Lord. Just for six months, simply say, “I’m going to try being a devotee of Krishna. I am going to affirm that I am Krishna’s eternal servant, and for the next six months I will just try it out” - theoretically, you see. Just act as if the Krishna conscious philosophy were true, and simply try it for six months - as an experiment, as if you were a scientist. For six months assume that’s it’s true, just for the sake of the experiment, and check it out to see what kind of result you get. We can assure you that if you spend six months just open-mindedly investigating the process of Krishna consciousness by experimentation and by understanding - by learning about it and experimenting with it - you will absolutely be astounded at what you can experience and what you can taste by doing so. You will experience ecstasies and transcendental pleasures beyond anything that you can ever have conceived of in you wildest imagination.
Any happiness we have in this world is very limited in scope. If you actually start to taste even a tiny, insignificant drop of a drop of a drop of transcendental bliss, your mind will be absolutely blown away. “Wow! This sort of joy is actually available within existence?” This is what is available if you seriously take up the pathway of Krishna consciousness. Brahma-bhuta prasannatma na socati na kanksati [BG 18:54]. On that platform of unlimited, great spiritual happiness there’s no hankering and no lamenting; you’re completely self-satisfied. It doesn’t matter what your position is, you’re totally satisfied in your present status. You could be wealthy, you could be poor, you could be famous, you could be scorned – it doesn’t matter what your position is.
When you come to this position of being situated in Krishna consciousness, then nothing will disturb you anymore. You’ll want to become free from anger, as we studied in this morning’s class. You’ll want to be completely free from anger because your happiness – your satisfaction – will simply come from your loving relationship with Krishna, and that can never be taken away by anything or anyone. Therefore such a person becomes absolutely fearless. Such a person knows, “I have nothing to be afraid of.” As it is stated in Sanskrit language, mare krnsa rahke ke rahke krsna mare ke: if Krishna wants to kill you, nobody can protect you; and if Krishna wants to protect you, no one can kill you. So if you put complete faith in Krishna – “My dear Lord, you can kill me or you can keep my alive; I’m simply your servant. Do what you want with me. I’m totally surrendered to you” – then you have no fear of anything, because you know that when your death comes, it will be arranged by Krishna - that it’s meant to happen at that moment, and that it will be wonderful and beautiful. So there’s nothing to be afraid of. If you conquer the fear of death, then there’s nothing to be afraid of. That’s the greatest fear - the fear of death. Everything else is subordinate. So if I’m not afraid of dying, then what fear will I have?
So the sober person described by Krishna I this verse - the dhira - is not disturbed by this change of bodies. It doesn’t faze him at all. He understands that it’s only images on the screen of material nature. It’s like when you go to a movie you see a screen there, with so many images dancing on the screen. This whole material existence is like that. It’s not what it appears to be. It really isn’t. This screen, the mahat-tattva – this total material energy – nothing more than that: a big screen. It’s real – there is a screen; there are colors; there is a projector - it’s actually there. We don’t say it’s false. But it’s not what it appears to be. We look at the material bodies and we think that we’re looking at the people. We can look in this room at all the people here and we think we’re looking at all the people, but actually we’re just looking at some elements – earth, water, fire, air and ether – clustered around the atmas that are here in this room. We’re just seeing the material energy that is clustered around the atmas who are sitting in this room right now. That’s not really what’s here, though. We’re seeing something, but we’re not seeing the underlying reality.
So we have to train ourselves in how to see things as they are, and that’s what this verse is very valuable to help with - this is one of the most key verses of the Bhagavad-gita. We actually have to see things as they are. If we do, then we will also become dhira. We will not be deluded or bewildered by this material nature. We’ll always be happy and we’ll always be undisturbed. Is this not a desirable thing? Wouldn’t you like to be happy in all times, places, and situations? Or would you rather be disturbed? We can choose. Do you want to be dhira or adhira? Dhira means you’re undisturbed; adhira means you are very agitated and disturbed. This Kali-yuga is an age of disturbed mind - the ghost of Maya has grabbed us, and we’re very disturbed. If we want to come out of that disturbed position, the process is available. Krishna is there, Guru is there, the Vedas are there, the Vaisnavas are there - there is full facility if you want to come out of the deluded condition. Prabhupada is giving us this program of how to do this. If we will follow this sublime instruction, then each and every one of us we will truly become dhira – a completely sober, completely blissful and completely ecstatic person. This is more valuable than three trillion Euros. There is nothing more valuable than this. You can achieve nothing greater than this. To achieve pure Krishna bhakti is to be in a position greater than that of Brahma, the demigod who controls the whole material world. So we have to become bhakta. That is perfection: bhakta. Now we are abhakta, non-devotees. We actually have to become bhakta, or devotees. That will give us this position, dhira – completely sober and not bewildered by the changes of this material world.
So, perhaps some of you have some questions. We’d be happy to try to answer those questions. Perhaps some of you are feeling yourselves to be adhira, and would like to become dhira . . . Or maybe everyone’s a dhira – you are already enlightened spiritual beings who don’t need to know any more . . . Maybe I’m seeing a room full of uttama adhikaris . . .
You say death is the greatest fear. At least for me, I have always had the idea that severe pain is the greatest fear.
Yes. And some people say that the greatest fear is public speaking.
Death is very painful, generally. Actually, if it’s not physically painful it’s psychologically painful, because all of your attachments are being ripped away from you. So if you don’t like pain, you won’t like death. You won’t like it, that is, unless you’re Krishna conscious. If you’re Krishna conscious, Prabhupada said, death means, “I go to sleep, and I wake up with Krishna” - now that’s pretty cool. So if you’re purely fixed in Krishna consciousness, death is very nice. It’s like you’ve worked hard all day, and at night you’re tired, so you lie down and take rest. So for a person who has given their whole life to Krishna - at every minute, with every ounce of their energy; with every thought, every word, and every deed in Krishna’s service - death is ecstatic. “Well, this body is pretty worn out now; I’ll think I’ll just lay it down.” You just lay down your body and there you find yourself in Goloka Vrindavana – pretty ecstatic.
It’s just like getting on an airplane and flying to Vrindavana, India. Fly on the airplane called Death and go back to Krishna. Hop on the plane and go for a ride - safe passage beyond the material world for one who has taken complete shelter of Krishna. You penetrate through the coverings of the universe. The universe is very thick – very, very thick. This forty billion miles we’re seeing in the middle is just a tiny, insignificant speck compared to the coverings. Each covering is ten times thicker that the one preceding it: the first covering is ten times thicker than the inside portion; the next covering is ten times that, and the next one is ten times that. You go out through seven coverings, so you can only imagine how thickly covered the universe is. You could never get through those coverings with a spaceship. You could even get to the edge of the universe in a spaceship – to the edge of the open space portion – but it’s the coverings that are impenetrable, absolutely impenetrable. But through Krishna consciousness you can easily penetrate through all the coverings of the universe – pass through the entire ocean of material universes making up the material sky, cross over the Viraja River into the transcendental abode, and go all the way into that topmost planet, traveling past all the Vaikunthalokas - seeing all the Vishnus there with their devotees in santa-rasa - and going all the way to Goloka Vrindavana, where Krishna is taking a sweet out of His lunch bag. Mother Yasoda packed His lunch bag this morning, and what does He have in His lunch bag? You can find out. Maybe he’ll share some with you.
So death is very exciting for someone who’s given their whole life to Krishna’s service. It’s an exciting moment, very exciting. It’s a stimulating experience for the one who is in pure bhakti. Even if it’s painful, it doesn’t matter for such a person. Krishna says, “Tolerate pain and pleasure.” Just tolerate it.
Questions more . . . ?
They said at the crematorium that you can’t eat prasadam there, and that you can’t chant your japa or take your japa beads inside. I was wondering, when there is cremation of the body, whether you can take prasadam there at the crematorium.
This is a technical question. With cremations generally the best thing to do is to come back and take bath. With cremation the body basically goes up in smoke, and the dead body pervades the atmosphere. It’s better after a cremation to come home and take bath immediately and wash your clothes.
But when the body of Putana was burned they were saying, “Ah, this smells like sandalwood”; so when the body of a devotee is burned, isn’t it . . .
Yes, that’s true. A devotee’s body is transcendental.
I’m not an expert on cremation, to be honest. That wasn’t my interest, to specialize in cremations. But actually, some devotees do that. In Vrindavana there are a lot of cremations, so they’re expert on cremations there. When you go to Vrindavana, you can ask Dinabandhu – he will know. He attends many of the cremations of devotees there, to bid farewell. But I’m not an expert on cremations.
Any other questions?
I would like to hear a bit about the spiritual world, about what it looks like.
We understand from the scriptures that the spiritual world is inconceivably beautiful – absolutely, inconceivably beautiful. It is considered to be like the most beautiful things in this material world magnified millions and billions of times. Some of the paintings that our ISKCON artists have done under Prabhupada’s direction give us some hint, and just to hear Prabhupada singing Jaya Radha Madhava also gives us some idea of the beauty of the transcendental world. I’m thinking in particular of one painting that was done of Krishna coming home - it was in the first edition of Nectar of Devotion. Krishna was coming back from herding the cows, and Mother Yasoda and Nanda Maharaja were there waiting for Him - it was so beautiful. Just consider: A rainbow is thought to be a very beautiful thing is this world. Just imagine that if everywhere you looked the whole vista were like a rainbow. This painting had that quality. When you looked at Krishna, He appeared, to coin a term, ‘rainbowesque’. He had an appearance like a rainbow. And everything that surrounded Him – the cows, the pathway, the trees, the flowers – everything that surrounded Krishna had the same ‘rainbowesque’ aura or luster to it. So the spiritual world is like that. Everything is like seeing the most beautiful rainbow you could ever imagine. Every tree, every fruit, every flower, every particle of dust is like a rainbow in its beauty. So that gives you some idea of what it’s like. You can also read the Brahma-samhita again; that gives more ideas.
[Mataji] . . . Cintamani . . .
So just imagine the most beautiful thing you’ve seen in your whole life and multiply it millions and billions of times, and that’s the beauty of one particle of dust of Sri Vrindavana Dham. Not really, but it’s some approximation of the beauty of the spiritual world. It’s inconceivable, but just try to stretch your imagination as far as it can go, and that will give you some idea of what a portion of a portion of a portion of a portion of the beauty of the spiritual world would be like. For example, in this world we consider women to be very beautiful. In the heavenly planets the women are thousands of times more beautiful than they are on this planet. In the spiritual world, they’re millions and billions of times more beautiful, and the men are also. Everyone is just unbelievably beautiful – what to speak of Krishna, who is the source of all the beauty of everyone. So it’s really inconceivable how beautiful Krishna is. Inconceivably beautiful.
[Mataji] If you don’t mind – In the spiritual world, all the trees are purpose trees; whatever you desire you can get. Here you can get, say, an apple from the apple tree; but there, in the spiritual world, you can desire any fruit or . . .
Any tree can give any variety of fruit. You can go to an apple tree and get mangoes; you can go to a pear tree and get papaya. And it’s not like here, where you go to the market and have to search through to find one that’s even halfway palatable. Every single fruit is unlimitedly palatable in the spiritual world. Every mango, every papaya, every pineapple – they’re just unbelievably sweet and delicious. And you can go on eating as much as you want and never get fat. You don’t have to pass stool, either. You can eat gulab jamuns forever - unlimited gulab jamuns.
The spiritual world is worth it. Everyone should go. We’re offering free tickets for the spiritual world tonight. Before I became a spiritual master I was doing a part-time business as a travel agent - I was selling tickets to Vrindavana. So now we’re giving tickets to Goloka Vrindavana for the mere price of faith. That is the only price for this ticket.
You want to go to Goloka Vrindavana? Prabhupada is actually the airline company; I’m just a humble little agent - it’s the Prabhupada Airlines, and I’m just a little ticket agent. But we’re distributing this ticket to Goloka Vrindavana from Prabhupada Airlines for the price of faith. “Fly Prabhupada Airlines. It Will Get You There On Time – Back to Krishna.”
Any other questions?
Why do we have fear? What is the function of fear?
In this material world there are four animal propensities: eating, sleeping, mating and fearing. Fearing is that portion of our makeup which is there to protect our eating, sleeping and mating. We see in a dog, for example, how the same propensity is there. When you give a dog food to eat, you will see that he is eating the food and enjoying, but he’s looking to this side, looking to that side – fearing that somebody might come and steal the food. So the fear propensity is there in the animal kingdom. We can really see it in the animals, because they are in a constant state of fear. That is there to protect them from being killed by other animals. So the fear propensity is there to protect our eating, sleeping and mating.
It’s like the way you lock your apartment at night – don’t you do that here in Amsterdam? Or do you leave the door open at night?
We lock it.
So why do you lock it? Because you’re afraid someone might come and kill you, or rape your wife, or steal all your money or whatever. So that fear is there to help protect you from the evil influences in this world.
The devotee becomes fearless because he understands that he is under Krishna’s protection. Of course, he’ll probably still lock his door, so as not to trouble Krishna to have to intervene; he’ll just lock the door. The devotee is fearless, though, because he puts complete faith and trust in Krishna. So fear is there to protect your material situation. You’re aware that someone may come and hurt you or harm you, so you have to be fearful. Did that answer your question or not?
Well, it seems like a material function.
Yes, it is material – that’s right. In Krishna consciousness, however, fear is not there. A Krishna devotee is fearless. Fear is not fun. It’s a condition of mental anxiety. We are meant to get free from that fearful condition by putting our complete faith and trust in Lord Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead – understanding that we are under His protection if we take shelter of Him. In the Bhagavad-gita [9.22] He says, “Those who worship Me with exclusive devotion, meditating on My transcendental form – to them I carry what they lack, and I preserve what they have.” In other words, He protects what we have and provides whatever we don’t have. Krishna does that. The catch is, “exclusive devotion.” That means you have to make Krishna everything in your life. Krishna is a jealous lover. He wants everything. He wants all of your love, every bit of it - exclusive devotion, He says. You have to exclude everything else and give all your love to Krishna. If you do that, He will protect you at every step and provide you with whatever you are lacking. But if you think, “Well, I’ll love Krishna and also love . . .” - then you will have to put yourself in anxiety. To the extent that you are not surrendered fully to Krishna, you must be fearful.
So if we’re intelligent, we will surrender as much as we possibly can, and learn from those who are more advanced than we are about how to surrender even more, even more and even more – because the more we surrender the more we become fearless. And the more we become fearless, the more we become free of anxiety. So we should take help, as much help as we can get, from Prabhupada’s books and from advanced devotees. As much as we can, we should get help - pray to Krishna to help us; pray to Srila Prabhupada to help us - as much as possible take help along this pathway to get free of this fearful state of material consciousness. Abhay caran. We have to become fearless by taking shelter of the lotus feet of Krishna. That is called abhay caran: one who is fearless by taking shelter of the lotus feet of Sri Krishna. If you will seriously take up this process of Krishna consciousness – chanting 16 rounds daily and following our principles, taking shelter of a bona fide spiritual master - then you will achieve the position of fearlessness. You will. This process works – this is not hype. This process is genuine. Take it up with all sincerity and all earnestness and you will become fearless. We guarantee it.
Any other questions?
Would you please explain a little bit more about the soul? What I understand is that we are part and parcel of Krishna, but until now I thought of the soul as, you might say, learning every verse; but in a way I understand now is that it’s always complete. I don’t completely understand.
The soul is perfect and complete, but the soul becomes rebellious against Krishna’s supreme position, and it decides not to serve Krishna. Then the soul goes into a condition of ignorance, and in that ignorant condition, he continues to deny the existence of the Supreme Soul. But when he becomes frustrated and fed up in that position, feeling very unsatisfied, he may begin to think, “Why am I suffering? Why am I in so much anxiety?” And when he becomes very sincerely wanting to know the truth – “Why am I in such a suffering condition - I don’t want to suffer; why am I suffering?” - then Krishna from within the heart will bring him in contact with a bona fide teacher, a bona fide spiritual master, so that he can be awakened from the false conception of being the material body and actually realize again, “I am a spiritual being; I’m actually eternal and full of bliss and knowledge. So why am I misidentifying with a temporary lump of matter which is full of ignorance and misery?”
The soul is actually eternally pure; it’s just covered, that’s all. It’s just like someone who’s actually a millionaire, but forgot that he was. A millionaire was driving his car - going off on a weekend vacation, having just taken off on his own - and on his way he had an accident. Something had happened and somehow he had forgotten to bring his driver’s license. So here he was somewhere and he’d hit his head, and now he’s suffering from amnesia. He left his ID’s at the hotel, and he doesn’t even know who he is anymore. He’s in a foreign country, and no one recognizes him. So he’s in a state of not knowing who he is. That’s our position: we’re suffering from amnesia right now. We have our identity - our eternal, spiritual identity - but we don’t remember it.
This is described by Prabhupada in the introduction to the Bhagavad-gita. In the introduction to the Gita, Prabhupada talks about svarupa-siddhi. This concept will help you understand. We have svarupa: sva means “his own” and rupa means “form”; siddhi means perfection. So we have the perfection of our original form which exists in the spiritual world. You actually have a form in the spiritual world – you have a certain identity in the spiritual world, right now. But you fell away from that position. You thought, “Why should I do this? Why not be Krishna?” There’s an old saying in English: “Curiosity killed the cat.” What happens is that the living entity becomes curious: “What would it be like if I were the Supreme? Here I am serving . . .” But this usually doesn’t happen. It’s extremely rare. In fact, as a rule, it never happens. It only happens as an exception to the rule. We are exceptions to the rule, because as a general rule, no one would leave their position of serving Krishna because it’s so satisfying.
So we gave up that position of serving Krishna. We gave up our svarupa, our eternal form in the spiritual world, to try to be God ourselves. In this world everyone walks around like they’re God, as if they were the center of the universe. In fact, that’s considered to be success - people are encouraged to think like that. The educational system encourages you to think, “I’m big.” The great devotees, however, say just the opposite. It’s just like Christ was teaching: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” – while modern-day education says, “Blessed are the puffed-up, for they shall rule.” The sadhus, the saintly teachers, teach the principle of humility. The more you become humble, as a servant of God, the more you actually become successful. That is your success in life.
So if we give up this puffed-up position of thinking “I am the Supreme” and subordinate ourselves before Krishna, before the Vaisnavas, before the scriptures, and before the spiritual master, then we will actually become re-established in our spiritual identity. We will regain that eternal spiritual identity. It will take some time. In the beginning we just know from the scriptures and from Srila Prabhupada and the sadhus that our actual identity is that we are servants of Krishna. We just take that up – “I am the eternal servant of Krishna, so now let me start taking up the activities.”
It’s like the man suffering from amnesia doesn’t really remember who he is, but then someone tells him, “Oh, you’re John D. Rockefeller. You don’t remember, but I will give you a picture of your family members; we’ll bring your dog over so you can associate with your dog. We’ll give you so many things that are connected with who you actually are, and in this way you will gradually remember.” Similarly, in the sadhana-bhakti stage you are brought into contact with so many things that remind you of who you actually are. You’ll see a Deity of Krishna; you’ll see a painting of Krishna; you’ll hear the pastimes of Krishna; you’ll hear all about your spiritual nature – that you’re eternal and full of knowledge and bliss. You’ll be given a sufficient amount of detail from your real identity so that gradually, gradually, gradually you can take shelter of a proper teacher who can guide you along the pathway. You understand the greatest teacher of all, His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada; he has given us knowledge, so you can study his books very carefully and follow them. In this way, by going through this process, you will actually achieve svarupa-siddhi. That day will come when you realize who you are in the spiritual world.
We did not jump prematurely to that realization, however. That is called sahajiya. We shouldn’t imagine who we are. When we are at a mature stage, that identity will be revealed to us. Sometimes we see that an immature devotee will want to imitate some ‘identity.’ That is very dangerous; one should never do that. One time at our Mayapur temple some devotees were walking down the hall and encountered one devotee strutting around making sounds like a peacock. They said, “Prabhu, Prabhu - what’s going on?” He replied, “Oh, I’m practicing my rasa . . . I went to this sadhu in Vrindavana and he told me that I am actually a peacock in Krishna’s pastimes, so now I’m practicing.” No - that’s bogus. There are sometimes in Vrindavana certain persons who will tell you who actually are in the spiritual world. We should avoid them, because that is not an authorized process of spiritual realization. I met one girl who had gone to Vrindavana and met some sadhus at Radha-kunda who told her who she actually was, and she realized who she actually was; and then she was there at Radha-kunda having illicit sex life with some boy she met. She thought that she knew what gopi she was in the spiritual world at the same time – it’s bogus, completely bogus. If you actually want to realize your eternal spiritual identity you have to become completely pure and free from sin.
When you reach the transcendental abode, you never return; but how is it then that we fell from there?
Once burned, twice shy. The mother tells all the little children, “My dear children, do not stick your hand in the fire; it will burn.” So the children think, “Well, Mother has told us that we should not stick our hand in the fire - okay, we will obey Mother.” But one little child is a bit naughty. He’s just waiting for the Mother and the other little children to leave the room, because he’s looking at that fire – it looks so beautiful, with all those dancing flames - and he’s fascinated. So as soon as the mother is gone, he looks around to make sure no one is looking, and he sticks his hand in the fire – aaaaaah! Will he stick it in a second time? No. He learned.
There are two ways to learn: by hearing and by getting burned. Of course, if this child is really stupid, he could do it a second time. It is possible that you could fall down a second time, or a third time or fourth time, because the free will is eternally there in every living entity. But the chances of that are nil. The chance of falling down even once is extremely low, and to fall a second time is even more unlikely. The chances are practically nil – that’s why it’s said that no one ever falls down, although we see that some people certainly do. Look at us. Here we are - fallen souls.
You see, there has to be a possibility of falldown; otherwise there is no free will. And if there is no free will, love cannot exist. Krishna does not want robots to associate with in Goloka Vrindavana. He wants living beings who have the choice to love Him or to leave Him. That makes life interesting. If I were to say, “Here, I have a spouse for you” – you’ve been looking for a wife, or looking for a husband – “here’s a spouse who will always agree with you and do whatever you say” – that’s a robot. Would you like to be married to a robot? There’s nothing there – it’s just a machine. There has to be free will for there to be a person there. Persons are what make life interesting, not robots.
Yes, but there is another theory that we are coming from Krishna’s brahmajyoti . . .
Of course, but where does the brahmajyoti come from? It comes from Krishna –
Emanating from Krishna . . .
Everything comes from Krishna’s brahmajyoti. Actually, everything is Krishna’s brahmajyoti except for Krishna. There are two things: Krishna and His jyoti, his energy.
But we fell down from the spiritual world, and whether it -
Prabhupada stated himself that we were actually there with Krishna, and we rebelled against Krishna. Someone may give another theory, but I prefer to stick with His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada. It’s a fact that some people are giving different theories, but I’m not interested in their theories. Intellectually I may be interested, but certainly I don’t take their theory as authoritative.
Where is the place where Prabhupada says this?
If you give me your e-mail address I will send you a whole bunch of quotes. I will be happy to do that, because it’s there. There are so many places where Prabhupada confirms this. And, uh - what is the name of that magazine?
“Back to Godhead”
“Back to Godhead”? If you’re going back somewhere, it means you are going to where you came from. Is the magazine “Back to Godhead” or “Back to Brahmajyoti”? It means we originated in Godhead, not in brahmajyoti. Otherwise, how are we going back? Back to Godhead.
Well, it interests me so much that for me, personally, it doesn’t matter whether I came from this or that – I want to go back anyway – but there is always talk about this.
Yes; some people like to start something new. This is called muni. Prabhupada talks about how a muni has to establish his position by defeating all the other munis – that he has some new viewpoint, and his is the now the right viewpoint, and everyone else is wrong. This is how he establishes himself. But we’re not interested in being munis. We’re interested in being bhaktas.
[Mataji] Also we can understand that as we are part-and-parcel emanations from Krishna, so we are directly coming from there . . .
Krishna says right there in the Gita, aham sarvasya prabhavo mattah sarvam pravartate: “everything emanates from Me.” We originate in Krishna. Bhagavad-gita, Chapter Ten, Verse Number Eight.
Well that’s very true . . .
You can say that we came out of the brahmajyoti; that’s all right. But the brahmajyoti came out of Krishna.
Yes, yes I know. I don’t know how to tell you what I want to say. You say we have our eternal identity . . .
It’s right there in the Bhagavad-gita introduction. This is basic stuff. Svarupa-siddhi means you have an original form in the spiritual world -
I know –
It’s one of the basic ABC’s of Prabhupada’s teachings.
Why the confusion, then?
Because somebody wanted some name and fame. They wanted to cook up a new theory so that now they would become the authority, basically.
I’m going to wait for your e-mail -
Yes, yes – I’ll give you my card, and then you can e-mail me and I’ll e-mail you back. I’m about a week behind on e-mails but I will definitely do it. I absolutely promise you, or you can tar and feather me when I come back to Amsterdam!
One thing that confuses people sometimes is that it is said that God “created” us. But that makes it seem like we were in a state of non-existence and that then He brought us into existence. But Krishna says that there was never a time when we did not exist [BG 2:12]. So what does it mean? Actually, the easiest way to understand it is to say that God is eternally emanating us from Himself. We’re the eternal emanations of Krishna: there was never a time when He was not emanating us, and never will there be a time when He will not be emanating us. We do not exist by dint of our own will to exist. We exist because Krishna wills that we should exist and that’s why we as spiritual beings exist right now at this very minute – because Krishna wills that we exist and because He is emanating us from Himself at this very minute.
Actually, Krishna emanates us for the sake of rasa. He wants a loving relationship. Krishna is atma-rama. He could sit out there in his abode with no other living entities if He wanted to. But just as Janaka says that a home without children is a desert, so Krishna must be following Janaka upon his philosophy, because He is emanating from Himself so many living beings for the sake of His enjoyment. He’s the Supreme Enjoyer! So how is He enjoying? He’s emanating from Himself millions and billions of living entities. And just as no two snowflakes are exactly the same, there are no two living entities who are exactly the same, and there are no two rasas that are exactly the same. We say there are five rasas, but within that five there are unlimited subdivisions. Every single living entity – each and every one of us in this room – has a unique rasa with Krishna that no one else has. And that is Krishna’s enjoyment. He wants to enjoy so many – it’s just like a love feast with ten billion preparations, each one different. So Krishna has created this love feast of association for Himself from His emanation, with unlimited numbers of living entities. This is Krishna’s enjoyment. And this is why, when we give up the spiritual world and come here and try to be Krishna ourselves, Krishna is not very happy with that - nor can we be happy with that, either.
So we have to get back to our original position, back in our relationship that we have with Krishna. We have to get back to our svarupa. And this process of sadhana-bhakti will bring us back to that point where our original svarupa becomes reawakened - or rather, our original rupa (“original svarupa” is a redundancy) - our original rupa, or our svarupa, becomes awakened.
Any questions more? Yes.
Do twin souls, or soul mates, exist? I heard that souls can perish and that when they enter a body they become separated . . .
Soul mates? Twin souls?
Twin souls - souls that are eternally related to one another . . .
Actually we’re all eternally related to each other. All souls are eternally related to one another – we’re all one big family. We’re all Krishna’s children, so we’re all brothers and sisters. So why only two? We’re eternal soul mates. All of us – even Osama Bin Laden is our soul mate. It’s just a matter of realization. You’re my soul mate; I’m your soul mate – we’re all soul mates with each other, eternally. We just forgot. We got caught up in all of these bodily designations. But you won’t actually have that relationship with that person unless you come to the pure spiritual platform. If you remain on the material platform, you’ll be separated. It’s just like when the water comes in from the ocean, there are so many sticks bundled together; and then the tide goes out, the waves come back, and the sticks are all rearranged. As long as you’re on the conditioned platform - thinking “I am a man”, “I am a woman” and so forth - that person you think is your eternal soul mate you probably won’t see again in millions of lifetimes. But if you both come to the spiritual platform – you both become pure devotees of Krishna – there will be no separation.
Prabhupada said that we’ll have another ISKCON in the spiritual world. So whatever relationships you make in ISKCON, these are eternal relationships. In fact, we have a thriving preaching center up there right now. Did you know that? We have a center in Goloka Vrindavana – so many devotees have gone back to Godhead that I think it’s becoming our biggest center now, in Goloka Vrindavana. If you leave the planet in pure Krishna consciousness you get your chance for the ISKCON Goloka. So many of our devotees have already gone there; they’re waiting for us . . . Just imagine going there; Prabhupada will be giving Bhagavatam class. Here we’re just listening to the tapes - in Goloka you can actually hear Prabhupada speaking Bhagavatam. It’s interesting. You may say that he has some kind of spiritual identity, yes. But in the spiritual world all of your desires are fulfilled, so if you desire to see Prabhupada in the way he was on this planet, you can certainly do that when you’re in Goloka. The spiritual world is unlimited.
Yes? Question? Any other questions?
So now we just have to qualify ourselves to transfer to ISKCON Goloka, that transcendental realm where Krishna and His devotees are carrying on eternally in transcendental loving relationships. They’re waiting for us. They’re our family members, just waiting for us: “When will you come back? How long will you suffer in the cycle of birth and death, needlessly chasing the will o’ the wisp of material sense enjoyment?”
Time is running short, so we will stop here. We thank you very much.
Srimad Bhagavad-gita ki jaya – Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
Transcribed by Her Grace Labangalatika devi dasi