Sunday Feast Lecture: Bhagavad-gita 9.1
Cologne, Germany (2 April 2006)
Today we are reading from the ninth chapter of the Bhagavad-gita which is called “The Most Confidential Knowledge” and we’re reading from Text Number One.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: My dear Arjuna, because you are never envious of Me, I shall impart to you this most confidential knowledge and realization, knowing which you shall be relieved of the miseries of material existence.
Srila Prabhupada has given a very nice purport:
As a devotee hears more and more about the Supreme Lord, he becomes enlightened. This hearing process is recommended in the Srimad-Bhagavatam: "The messages of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are full of potencies, and these potencies can be realized if topics regarding the Supreme Godhead are discussed amongst devotees. This cannot be achieved by the association of mental speculators or academic scholars, for it is realized knowledge."
The devotees are constantly engaged in the Supreme Lord's service. The Lord understands the mentality and sincerity of a particular living entity who is engaged in Krishna consciousness and gives him the intelligence to understand the science of Krishna in the association of devotees. Discussion of Krishna is very potent, and if a fortunate person has such association and tries to assimilate the knowledge, then he will surely make advancement toward spiritual realization. Lord Krishna, in order to encourage Arjuna to higher and higher elevation in His potent service, describes in this Ninth Chapter matters more confidential than any He has already disclosed.
The very beginning of Bhagavad-gita, the First Chapter, is more or less an introduction to the rest of the book; and in the Second and Third Chapters, the spiritual knowledge described is called confidential. Topics discussed in the Seventh and Eighth chapters are specifically related to devotional service, and because they bring enlightenment in Krishna consciousness, they are called more confidential. But the matters which are described in the Ninth Chapter deal with unalloyed, pure devotion. Therefore this is called the most confidential. One who is situated in the most confidential knowledge of Krishna is naturally transcendental; he therefore has no material pangs, although he is in the material world. In the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu it is said that although one who has a sincere desire to render loving service to the Supreme Lord is situated in the conditional state of material existence, he is to be considered liberated. Similarly, we shall find in the Bhagavad-gita, Tenth Chapter, that anyone who is engaged in that way is a liberated person.
Now this first verse has specific significance. The words idam jnanam ("this knowledge") refer to pure devotional service, which consists of nine different activities: hearing, chanting, remembering, serving, worshiping, praying, obeying, maintaining friendship and surrendering everything. By the practice of these nine elements of devotional service one is elevated to spiritual consciousness, Krishna consciousness. When one's heart is thus cleared of material contamination, one can understand this science of Krishna. Simply to understand that a living entity is not material is not sufficient. That may be the beginning of spiritual realization, but one should recognize the difference between activities of the body and the spiritual activities of one who understands that he is not the body.
In the Seventh Chapter we have already discussed the opulent potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, His different energies, the inferior and superior natures, and all this material manifestation. Now in Chapter Nine the glories of the Lord will be delineated.
The Sanskrit word anasuyave in this verse is also very significant. Generally the commentators, even if they are highly scholarly, are all envious of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Even the most erudite scholars write on Bhagavad-gita very inaccurately. Because they are envious of Krishna, their commentaries are useless. The commentaries given by devotees of the Lord are bona fide. No one can explain Bhagavad-gita or give perfect knowledge of Krishna if he is envious. One who criticizes the character of Krishna without knowing Him is a fool. So such commentaries should be very carefully avoided. For one who understands that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the pure and transcendental Personality, these chapters will be very beneficial.
This verse is giving us the clue. This verse is giving us the clue of how to enter into this divine consciousness.
What is this divine consciousness? This divine consciousness is called ‘Krishna consciousness.’ Krishna consciousness is not a sectarian religion. Krishna consciousness is not a cult. Krishna consciousness is not some organization. Krishna consciousness is the original, enlightened state of the living being. Everyone walking around Germany actually has Krishna consciousness, believe it or not. It’s just covered, that’s all. It’s just covered. Their Krishna consciousness comes out in weird ways because it’s covered. But if you can bring your Krishna consciousness out in its original, pure form, then you become what is known as an enlightened being – a spiritually enlightened being who is always happy, who is always full of knowledge, who is peaceful and who is emanating compassion in all directions, twenty-four hours a day; a saintly, enlightened person. That’s what it means when you can uncover your Krishna consciousness.
So any intelligent person would say, “Okay, what’s the covering? What do I need to get rid of in order to get this nectar into my life?” What do you need to do to get rid of this drab, mundane existence? In America it’s called the ‘nine-to-five existence’ - you know, where you get up every morning, go through the traffic jam and then get to the office, where you worry about getting laid off and struggle, struggle, struggle; you get a little break here, and finally you go home just exhausted, only to recover and go back and do it again for another day. I guess they do that in Germany too. ‘The rat race’ is what we call it in America – like a bunch of rats vying to see who will be the top rat on the heap.
So how can we escape the rat race? How can we actually enter into our original, unlimitedly blissful, unlimitedly knowledgeable, unlimitedly compassionate state of consciousness where we realize absolutely our full potential; where we enter into a state which is called ‘deathlessness’ and we don’t even have to worry when our bodies drop off; where it will be just like shooting a rocket into outer space: one layer drops off, and then the next layer takes over, and then that layer drops off, and it just keeps going? Once you become fixed in Krishna consciousness, when this material body drops off it’s no big deal – it just lightens your load and you just keep on going. You see? Some old baggage got worn out, and you just keep going – phoosh! – back to home, back to Godhead. So how do we get on that track called ‘Krishna consciousness’ or (as Prabhupada called it one time) ‘universal consciousness?’ How do we achieve universal consciousness - that state where we’re no longer bound by a material body; no longer bound by a material mind; no longer bound by a material intelligence; no longer bound by a materialistic ego? How do we enter into that state?
That answer is given by given by the great sages. In India there’s a whole tradition of great, enlightened masters. In the Sanskrit language they are called mahajanas, and there’s a whole tradition of these great, saintly teachers, the mahajanas. There are also the Vedic scriptures on which the mahajanas have based their entire lives, and on which we can also base our entire lives, the chief of which is Bhagavad-gita. If we can follow the pathway of the mahajanas using the Bhagavad-gita as our road map, then we also can achieve that rarely-achieved state which Krishna mentions in Chapter Seven:
This state is very rarely achieved. Krishna says that out of a thousand people who try to achieve that enlightened state, only one will even get a start on it; and of those who get a start, only one out of a thousand will actually achieve it. That’s one in a million, when you run the math on it. So to actually achieve this enlightened state is a very rare thing. But the good news is that our founder-acarya, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, realized that state on the highest possible level and he devised a system and a whole movement to guide others toward realizing that state also. If we plug into that system and that movement, then each and every one of us sitting here in this room can quickly and easily achieve that divine state of consciousness. That’s the good news.
So the next question is, “Okay – how do I do it? Sign me up!” [laughter from group] “How do I achieve it? Talk is cheap. Now let’s see the techniques. Are you just giving me this pep talk, or can you really deliver the goods?”
One minute. [Gurudeva takes a drink of water] There’s a key in this glass, actually.
The first time I heard Prabhupada speak was in 1971 in San Francisco at Golden Gate Park on a Sunday afternoon, at the beginning of the Ratha Yatra festival. There Prabhupada gave a very poignant lecture. Just imagine: the jagad-guru – the spiritual master of the entire universe – flies in; we greet him at the airport; we drive him straight to the park; he gets up on the cart and he delivers the most powerful, enlightened lecture you’ve ever heard and will ever hear in all of eternity. The very first word that came out of his mouth, interestingly enough, was “jagannathah.” He said, “Jagannathah svami nayana-patha-gami bhavatu me.” That’s how he began his speech, with these very grave, sober, penetrating, poignant words. They just go right into your heart and ignite your soul! “Jagannathah svami nayana-patha-gami bhavatu me.”
So he explained to us, “Every one of you has seen God.” Now, most of the audience were just guests – they weren’t even practicing devotees. They were maybe about ten thousand hippies who had come to pull the cart, sing and dance, and get high on the mantra – to take a day of from marijuana and LSD and get high on the mantra. This is who Prabhupada was talking to. And he said, “You have all seen God.” [some laughter in group] Everybody was very enlivened to hear that.
So Prabhupada explained how. He said, “In Bhagavad-gita, Krishna explains: raso ‘ham apsu kaunteya - O son of Kunti, I am the taste of the water and I am the light of the sun and the moon.” Then Prabhupada went on further to explain. He said, “Every day you are drinking water – once, twice, thrice, more than that. So if every time you drink water you remember that Krishna is the taste of the water, then immediately you become Krishna conscious.” I remember the way he said it – it was just like music, you know? When Prabhupada would speak, it wouldn’t be like somebody giving a lecture; it would be just like the sweetest, most beautiful music just coming in and vibrating your soul. He just said, “Immediately you become Krishna conscious.”
He told us, “To become Krishna conscious is not a difficult job; it simply requires practice.” And then he said, “Every time you drink water” – this is why I said the key is right here in this glass – “Every time you drink some water, all you have to do is remember that Krishna is the taste of the water.” And it applies to any liquid thing. Even the drunkard on the street can do this. As Prabhupada explained, “The wino on the street, if we tell him that Krishna is the taste of the wine, and every time he drinks his wine he thinks, ‘Fine, fine wine; Krishna, Krishna, Krishna,’ then,” Prabhupada said, “he becomes the greatest yogi.”
So the whole point is this: somehow or other, find a way to remember Krishna. That’s where it all begins. Just find some way to bring your mind to Krishna. That’s all you have to do. Prabhupada said the word krishna literally means “greatest pleasure.” Who among those walking around Europe today would not want to taste the greatest pleasure, right now? If I were to offer you the greatest pleasure, right now, would you like it? Sure! You bet you would! We’re all looking for the greatest pleasure. In this world we think it’s money, it’s power, it’s sex – right? We think that’s the greatest pleasure. But it’s not. It’s not sex, it’s not power, it’s not money – the greatest pleasure is Krishna. And in Krishna, there’s a lot of Krishna to go around, because Krishna is unlimited. It’s not that Krishna can be enjoyed only by you, or only by you, or only by you [referring to individuals in the group]. There’s so much Krishna to go around that everyone can have unlimited Krishna.
So how do you get Krishna? What’s the insider’s secret of how you get Krishna? The secret is this: if you want to get Krishna, you have to give yourself to Krishna. That’s all you have to do. If you fully give yourself to Krishna, then you know what? Krishna will fully give Himself to you.
You may say, “Well, wait a minute. He’s already given Himself to so-and-so and so-and-so; how can He give Himself to me also?” After all, in this world you can really only give yourself to one person. You give yourself to your spouse and your spouse makes sure you don’t want to give yourself to someone else. So in the material world we can really only give ourselves to one person. But Krishna is unlimited! We see in His Dvaraka lila how he had 16,108 queens. And He fully gave Himself to each and every queen – I mean fully, completely. He would go to the central area where He would sit on the throne during the day - one Krishna. And then at night, He would divide into 16,108 forms and go home – take His evening commute, on a chariot or whatever (He must have had 16,000 chariots waiting when He came out of the palace, so He would do 16,108 different commutes to different palaces). And each queen was at her palace thinking, “You know, I really feel sorry for those other queens. Krishna comes to my palace every night. Those other poor queens must be crying their hearts out every night, because Krishna likes me the best. He doesn’t go anywhere else; He only comes to me.”
The point is that Krishna can give Himself exclusively to each and every devotee, as if there were nobody but you, and you were ‘it’ for him. That’s confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita. Krishna says, “There is no one more dear to me than the one who preaches this message, nor will there ever be anyone more dear.” So the fact is that if you fully give yourself to Krishna, Krishna will fully give Himself to you. That person - bhoktaram yajna-tapasam sarva-loka-mahesvaram [Bg 5.29] - that person who owns and controls the entire universe will become under your control! Just imagine: that person who owns everything, controls everything – He becomes your servant. You control Him by your love. Just imagine what would be your position. Inconceivable.
Somebody goes to a corporation, right? And they think, “Well, I want to work my way up; I want to work my way up the ladder and become the CEO.” So they fight it out in all the office politics and so forth. But just imagine if the owner of the company were your best friend. A classic example is found with Prabhupada himself. When he was a young boy, being a staunch member of Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement against the British, he rejected his college degree. Even though he had passed all the exams – even though he was qualified, and the diploma was waiting for him there at the commencement ceremony – he boycotted the commencement, because the degree was a contaminated degree. It was tainted with the British touch; he didn’t want to touch a degree which was touched by the British. So how was he going to get a job if he didn’t have a degree? Well, Prubhupada’s father was a very close friend of Dr. Bose, who owned a very successful laboratory. As a result, Prabhupada was able to walk in as a young, twenty-year-old college graduate and be put in charge of the whole operation. All these old men were wondering, “I’ve been here for thirty years, working my way up the ladder - and now there’s this kid telling me what to do?” They couldn’t imagine.
The point is that it’s not what you know but who you know. The jnanis try through the path of knowledge to become powerful and influential. It takes them many thousands of lifetimes – bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate [Bg 7.19] – to come gradually, gradually, gradually to the point of Krishna consciousness. But if you simply come in on the basis of a relationship with Krishna, from the very beginning – if, from square one, you simply start off on the basis of a relationship with Krishna - you’re already the most advanced yogi, the most advanced jnani. You’re the most advanced transcendentalist from day one! Why? Simply because you’re basing your spiritual life on your relationship with Krishna. Because He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, when you make that connection with Him you don’t have to worry about anything else. It’s like when you go to a corporation, if you’re good friends with the owner you don’t have to worry about the office politics; you’re already situated beyond the office politics. So when you take shelter of Krishna – when you say, “Krishna is my Lord; He’s my master; I know no one but Krishna. I have nothing to do except to please Krishna for all of eternity, nothing else. No other duty, no responsibility - eka-dharma, one responsibility: to always think, speak and act in such a way that Krishna is pleased with me” - if you will make that determination, that vow, right now in your mind - that from this moment forward, this is what you will do – then you will enter into a new dimension. You will enter into a new reality. You will walk out the door and you will not be in Germany! You will not be in Germany; you’ll be in the spiritual world. And you’ll say, “Wow – I’ve never seen Cologne looking like this. The whole city sparkles!” Prabhupada said that Krishna consciousness is the one switch that, when you flip it, turns on the whole world. Everything becomes transformed when you make this determination. “I know nobody but Krishna, and I belong to Him completely and totally - whatever I think, whatever I say and whatever I do . . .”
The insider’s secret of how to become an enlightened being is also, amazingly enough, given in the Bible. Christ says, “Father, not my will, but Thy will be done.” It’s the same principle. But the Christians don’t have a clue! They’re running around opening slaughterhouses and slaughtering themselves karmically, very badly. They don’t have a clue as to what is the actual message of Lord Jesus Christ. But we followers of Prabhupada – the most highly enlightened, most highly realized and most highly empowered spiritual master in the history of the universe – we have this advantage.
[To one devotee] You just came back from India, yes? [Back to group] In India many people don’t have cars. They use bicycles. Some of them live some thirty kilometers away from where they work - that’s a lot of pedaling every day. Sixty kilometers of pedaling every day? How do they handle it? Well, it’s a very easy thing – you’ve seen it. They just grab a hold of a truck or a bus while they’re on their bicycle. (In India it’s legal – no problem. Here the police would come – “Here -you can’t hold on to a bus on your bicycle!” - and write you a big ticket. “You can’t do that – that’s against the law!” But in India it’s no problem.) Similarly, all you have to do to get absorbed in Krishna consciousness is grab a hold and go.
You see, this is what we learn in our Krishna consciousness movement. We - myself and my godbrother here - joined way back in the early seventies. Prabhupada came in the heart of the hippie movement in America. We didn’t know anything. We knew that this material world was not for us, but we didn’t know how to get out of it. But Prabhupada came, and we could see: “Here is an amazing, transcendental personality. Here is a person who is not of this world.” My godbrother Hayagriva Prabhu was one of the first people to meet Prabhupada on the street. He met him on Houston Street on the lower east side of Manhattan. When he first saw Prabhupada, he noted how New York was roaring all around – you know how these big cities just roar with so many sounds and sirens and trucks and people, and it’s just a madhouse. So he recalled that the whole city of New York was just roaring all around, yet Prabhupada was standing there emanating this cool tranquility which was coming completely from another dimension. We had that experience by coming in contact with Prabhupada. And what did we do? We just grabbed on to Prabhupada. “I’m going for a ride - I’ve had enough of this material world! I’m just going to grab hold of Prabhupada and never let go.” And that’s what we did. We became his disciples. We just grabbed hold of his feet - “Okay, I’m just sticking with my guru, and that’s it.” And by doing that, those of us who have undeviatingly stuck to Prabhupada’s feet have, ever since the day we made that decision, been experiencing the most amazing, transcendental experience of deathlessness - an experience beyond this material existence; living in this world in one sense, but living totally beyond it at the same time.
So all we’re doing today is saying this: Don’t bother suffering any more. Why bother with it? It’s just a pain. Why suffer anymore? Take Krishna consciousness very seriously and I guarantee, you will taste the sweetest nectar you ever knew.
So, maybe somebody has some questions. Now is an appropriate time to ask, if anyone has a question. Speak loudly because I’m half deaf – speak up and enunciate clearly.
When I was in college the professor of psychology told us that this mantra meditation is not a spiritual thing, but only hypnosis – that you can chant any kind of sound like this, and –
Oh, yes. Some people do say that you can chant anything. All right. Let’s do it. You take a mundane mantra, and I’ll take Hare Krishna. Let’s see who lasts longer. There used to be a popular mantra in the U.S.: “Things go better with Coca-Cola.” You can chant that one – “Coca-Cola / Coca-Cola / Coca-Cola / Coca-Cola / Coca-Cola” – and we’ll chant Hare Krishna. Let’s see who drops out first from the chanting contest. Let’s see who gets worn out on their mantra.
You see, unless the mantra is transcendental it will wear you down eventually. But when the mantra is transcendental, it will give you more energy and more energy and more energy and more energy. Unlimited energy exists in this Hare Krishna mantra. You may think, “Well, you people chant Hare Krishna because you’re Hare Krishnas.” No. That’s not why we chant Hare Krishna. The reason we chant Hare Krishna is, as stated in the Kalisantarana Upanisad, because there is no more effective means for spiritual enlightenment in this age than the chanting of – you guessed it:
Hare Krishna, Hare
That’s why we chant Hare Krishna. That’s why we are the Hare Krishna movement – because we realize this Kalisantarana Upanisad is giving us an incredible secret of how we can enter into transcendental consciousness. So we’re doing it and we’re tasting it; and now we’re saying, “Why are the people of this world not doing this with us? Anyone who’s not chanting Hare Krishna is missing out!” They’re just missing it - they’re missing the nectar. They’re suffering unnecessarily in the cycle of birth and death. So these psychologists may say whatever they want. A goat will eat anything and a psychologist will say anything (to make his career). They can say anything; we don’t care. All we know is that this mantra is very effective . . .
I call this ‘psyquackery’ instead of psychology. In the English language, ‘quack’ is the word for someone who imitates being a doctor; he’s called a quack. He has no actual diploma, but he advertises himself as a doctor to make money. So I call it psyquackery instead of psychology. The real psychology is here, given from Krishna to Arjuna. This is the real psychology. This is the original psychotherapy session: Krishna enlightening Arjuna. So if you’re having psychological problems, all you have to do is approach Krishna. If you don’t find Him walking down the streets of Cologne, then find one of His representatives – a devotee. You see? Find a spiritual master; find a devotee who is trained in the science of Krishna, and submit yourself to him so that you can also learn the science of Krishna.
Any other questions?
You said that the highest possible position is to become Krishna conscious.
That’s the highest position, yes. There’s nothing greater.
On the other hand, it is said that we have to consider ourselves lower than the lowest . . .
Ah. So what do you do when you have the highest knowledge that’s available anywhere on this planet (Prabhupada said, “I act like a king because nobody can defeat me”), while at the same time you supposed be very humble? Being conceited or proud or puffed up is a great impediment on the pathway of Krishna consciousness. So how do you possibly think, “I’m the lowest of the low” when you have the highest knowledge and you can give the highest knowledge to anyone on this planet?
That’s a very important question. And we have a very good answer for that. The bona fide devotee of Lord Krishna never thinks, “I am great.” He simply feels, “I am very fortunate” – that’s all. He feels that he is actually a most fallen, most unqualified person, but that somehow or other, by the grace of Krishna and the grace of the spiritual master, he has gotten this greatest treasure. It’s just like a poor man who’s suffering in a neighborhood who somehow stumbles upon a huge sum of money. Instead of just thinking, “I deserve this, I should enjoy it,” he thinks, “Somehow or other it came to me, Llet me share it with everyone else, so everyone can be relieved from their suffering.”
So the devotee doesn’t think, “I’m better than everyone else.” No. He actually thinks, “If these other persons walking around Germany had somehow gotten this message, they would be more advanced devotees than I am. Actually, I’m not a very good devotee. I’m really not. I’m just struggling in Krishna consciousness. I’m not really an advanced devotee. I’m just a neophyte devotee trying to advance and get out of the clutches of the three modes of nature. Somehow or other I’m in this position, and I’m fortunate to have the highest knowledge, but I haven’t fully realized it myself. But I know that if I share whatever I’ve learned, whatever I’ve realized - and if I give others Prabhupada’s books, where the full realization is – I know that if I do this, Krishna will be very pleased with me and give me more advancement, more knowledge and more realization.” So in this way a devotee just feels like he’s a humble messenger.
It’s just like your DHL – you have DHL here in Germany. Your DHL man may deliver you an envelope with a cashier’s check in it for one billion euros. Yet he’s just doing his humble service. He’s giving you great wealth – you’d be one of the wealthiest people in Germany with one billion euros, wouldn’t you? How many billionaires do you have in Germany? If you got a cashier’s check for one billion euros (and the taxes were already paid on it) you would become one of the wealthiest people in all of Germany. And here’s just some humble worker from DHL, who’s struggling to pay his bills, delivering it . . . A devotee feels like that. He says, “All the credit really goes to Krishna; the real credit goes to Srila Prabhupada; the real credit goes to my spiritual master. I’m just a humble messenger, that’s all. I can’t really claim any credit for it. I’m just a lowly delivery person.”
So that’s the mood. The devotee feels that he’s just coming as a humble servant. It’s like here, for example: I have come and I’m here speaking to you. I know I’m not a very qualified person. All I know is that my spiritual master has given me the highest knowledge, the greatest blessings, the greatest mercy, the greatest wealth – he has given me something so great that you can’t even describe in words how fantastic it is. And I know that in this material world we’re all suffering. We don’t even realize it at all, this great gift called Krishna consciousness. So I’m just trying to present this in such a way that everyone in this room will find it absolutely irresistible – so that they’ll think, “Wow, I’m going to surrender right now! Tell me what to do – I want to fully surrender to Krishna right now. I don’t want to postpone in until I graduate, or make my first million or whatever – I want it now.” I just want to present it in such a way that every one of you will become so excited that you will think, “I want to fully surrender right now to Krishna – no delays.”
The fact is that we can die at any minute. You know, I can walk across the street and be hit by a car and it would all be over for this body. So we have to understand the urgency of becoming Krishna conscious. I want you all to know that it’s a very urgent thing: you should surrender right now to Krishna – fully. Each and every one of you, in your heart and soul, should fully surrender to Krishna now. And these devotees here will tell you how to do that. They will train you in how to do that. They’ve been trained in how to do that, and they will train you in how to do that, too. And I’ll be here for a few days; anyone who wants to meet with me personally can find me right across the hall over here. You can knock and you can meet with me personally also, if you’d like to. I’d be happy to give any counseling to anyone who wants it. To any of the devotees here, any of the guests, I’m fully available. I came here for no other purpose except to share this wonderful science of Krishna consciousness with you all.
Any other questions?
Yes. Sometimes we don’t see that urgency, like you just said. It’s an emergency, actually, to become Krishna conscious. But sometimes we feel so bound, and our bodies are weak, and chanting feels horrible, and we have headaches – we have to come beyond this . . .
Yes, the mind is like that. You have to go deeper within. It’s just like the ocean. Sometimes there’s a hurricane on the surface of the ocean; the waves are turbulent. Sometimes your mind is like a hurricane. It’s like whooooosh - right? So if you start going down and you dive deep within that ocean, then the influence of that hurricane becomes less and less and less. And finally you get deep enough that you can’t even tell there’s a hurricane; it’s completely peaceful and serene. So all you have to do is dive deeper and deeper within your heart. And how do you do that? We have a special diving technique. It’s called:
Hare Krishna, Hare
Sixteen good rounds in the morning is a chance to go deep, deep, deep within the spiritual energy. So no matter what Mayadevi may throw at you, you can just smile at her and go “Ha, ha, ha. You can’t touch me, Maya – I chanted good rounds today.” [laughter in group]
Any other questions? How about from the German gallery over there? No questions? I think it’s time for the arati, isn’t it - not yet? Okay. Question?
Sometimes it looks contradictory because these activities in Krishna consciousness are so auspicious - like how walking around Tulasi or even once hearing the Holy Name gives such great benefits. But when you do it every day it becomes simpler and it doesn’t change so much sinful –
We begin to take it for granted. “Oh, time for Tulasi worship [droning] yaaa yani yani ca papani aaaaa . . . yeah, time for Guru Puja . . . Vrinda Devi, then I gotta get the vegetables . . .yeah, right, I know . . .” [laughter in group]
This is why having classes given by highly realized devotees is very important – classes given by devotees who have actually transcended the rigmarole approach to Krishna consciousness (you know, ‘the same old rigmarole’). Devotees have actually gone deeper and realized that we need to hear from such devotees who have come to a higher platform. Because then we know that there’s really something that all this is meant for, that it is not the end-all and be-all of our existence simply to walk around a tree. There’s actually something deeper, you see. There’s some higher level of consciousness which is being accessed by doing this.
So the key is (as given in the Caitanya Caritamrita):
‘sadhu-sanga’ – sarva-sastre kaya
[Cc Madhya 22.15]
If you can have contact with a highly realized devotee for even a mere lave matra (which means one eleventh of a second), then guess what? Sarva-siddhi. You will achieve all perfection. That’s why it’s important that we hear highly realized devotees speaking this knowledge. That gives us some vision with which to get beyond taking Krishna consciousness as some kind of a mundane ritual to lead a pious life. Hearing from a highly realized devotee actually shows us that this process opens us into an entirely different dimension of consciousness.
There’s one bhajana by Bhaktivinode Thakura where he says, “One day, while engaged in ordinary household activities, I saw my house transform into Goloka Vrindavana.” Just imagine how someday you’re going to say, “Today I’m going to worship Tulasi Devi with complete dedication and complete surrender to her. I’m not going to take it as something I’m doing to get over with to go to the next activity. I’m going to dive fully and totally into Tulasi worship.” And just imagine, as you’re coming around, how the world changes around you. You actually feel that you’re entering into a completely spiritual atmosphere, a transcendental atmosphere beyond your material body.
So we should try like that: to do everything we do in a very high-quality way so that we can actually transcend this bodily platform. I mean, you’re not a woman, you see? [To other devotee] You’re not a man. You’re an eternal, spiritual spark in quality one with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Now, do we actually experience that, practically, at every second? No, we don’t. We’re thinking, “I’m male;” “I’m female;” “I’m American;” “I’m German;” “I’m middle-aged;” “I’m old;” “I’m young.” We actually know who we are, but we don’t feel that. We don’t experience it. It’s just an intellectual concept that we accept or toy around with or reject. But if you will take advantage of hearing from persons who are more realized than you are, that will give you the faith which is necessary to apply your energies for also achieving that higher platform – so that when you do these activities, you will view them as an opportunity to dive very deeply into Krishna bhakti. That’s the answer. Did that answer your question?
Our time is up now? All right. Any other questions? . . . If anyone has been coming to this temple for some time now and has a question that they’ve wanted to ask but were always afraid to ask it – now is the time. I won’t laugh at any question. I’m very serious about helping everyone to become Krishna conscious. So don’t be shy. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to ask but were afraid to ask, now is your chance. The only stupid question is the one you wanted to ask but were afraid to ask. That’s the stupid thing. When you ask it, I won’t laugh. Others may laugh at your question, but I will scold them if they do that. Every question is a very serious thing. If you have a question that you’ve always wanted to ask, you can ask it now. ‘Speak now or forever hold your peace.’ Or, if you are experiencing any obstacles that you would like to clear on your pathway back to home, you can bring that out as well. But I do have a policy. If you don’t have questions for me, guess what the next part is? I will interrogate you. I’m going to pick one of you, in front of everyone, and you’ll have to answer questions. Believe me, it’s much more comfortable to be the one asking than the one to be asked the questions. [laughter in group] So if you want to save yourself from the danger of being the person who’s picked to answer questions in front of the whole audience, then you ask me a question.
We had a discussion about Ekadasi recently, and I had a question. I’m not too clear about Ekadasi. It is an opportunity to make advancement in realization - that I know. But if you don’t do it, it’s not just that you have a normal day. If you don’t do it, then you get all these sinful reactions –
Ekadasi will work as a two-edged sword. It will enhance your spiritual progress or hurt it, depending on if you observe it properly or not – which means, no grains and no beans. That is the minimum.
Yes, but I don’t understand . . . otherwise you get –
Well, it’s very simple. There’s a certain astrological arrangement of the universe on the day of Ekadasi which is extremely auspicious. So any devotional service you do on that day is very much like – do you ever come for Mangal Arati?
Don’t you feel like you can dive deeper into the Holy Names at that time of day? Like there is some special thing about it? Yes. Ekadasi is like that through the whole day. It’s a very special day when the spiritual atmosphere is very much surcharged. And in days gone by, Sin Personified, Papapurusa, was finding great difficulty on the day when the atmosphere is so auspicious; so he asked for some place where he could reside on that day, because it was very difficult for him. So it was given to him that he could reside in grains and beans on that day. So grains and beans are given as a residence for Papapurusa, Sin Personified. He can take residence in grains and beans, so that’s why we don’t eat grains and beans on that day. If you do, then you’re getting all that sin. The sin resides in grains and beans on the day of Ekadasi. So the day itself is most auspicious; just avoid grains and beans and you’ll be fine.
Does that answer your question? If you still have a question that that doesn’t answer, then inquire further. Help me answer your question if that didn’t fully answer it.
I know the story and I know –
You know the story; okay. What’s confusing, then?
What’s confusing is that it is like this: either you go to heaven or you go to hell on this day, if you don’t follow this and that. It sounds so –
Utopian? It sounds utopian?
No. It sounds so –
[other devotee] Black and white -
Far-fetched? Mythological? Doesn’t sound real?
No . . .
[other devotee] Unjust?
[other devotee] Like punishment?
Yes, it sounds like punishment . . .
Punishment? It sounds like Christianity?
[other devotee] Yes, that’s it! [laughter]
Yes . . . “When you do it, you come to Me; when you don’t do it, you go to hell.” And you cannot choose; you have to do one or the other thing.
Ah. It sounds like Krishna’s not very merciful on Ekadasi – is that what you think? [laughter]
I mean, you have no choice. You have to do something.
Actually, Prabhupada was very merciful on Ekadasi. You know, the actual system in India is that you completely fast – no water, no food; nothing but kirtan, and you completely stay up all night. So Prabhupada was very merciful to us on Ekadasi when he introduced feasting on Ekadasi. He had a big feast on Ekadasi – peanuts; carrot halava; potatoes; raisins. Prabhupada was very merciful to us on Ekadasi. He introduced the principle of feasting on Ekadasi. I think that you will find that although sometimes these injunctions may appear to be a bit draconian on the surface, if you really enter into the essence of Krishna consciousness, you will find that there is nothing more wonderful and nothing more sublime than this Krishna bhakti. You will find that.
So I challenge you to dive deeper into it. You’ll find that there’s nothing draconian at all about Krishna. ‘Draconian’ means cruel, wicked. Prabhupada actually said to us, “You just try to find one point [of our practice] that you can say, ‘Swamiji, this is troublesome.’” (In those days we called him ‘Swamiji,’ before the name ‘Prabhupada’ was introduced.) He said, “You just try to find one point that you can say ‘Swamiji, this point is troublesome.’” And to that he said, “There is nothing at all; it is simply recreation, susukham.” So, if you come here and take prasadam with us on Ekadasi I don’t think you will feel that Krishna is cruel or harsh. I think if you come here and celebrate Ekadasi with us, you will see, “Oh, Krishna is so wonderful; Krishna is so amazingly wonderful.”
What is the difficulty? Especially now; we have so many good recipes without grains or beans – so many. So many amazing preparations can be made without grains or beans. And the other side is, just think: if everybody observed Ekadasi, everybody on this planet right now, how many grains and beans would be freed up? If Ekadasi were instituted by all the governments of the world as a national policy – that on these two days a month, everyone has to avoid grains and beans – that would free up sufficient grains and beans to feed every poor person on this planet for the whole month. Simply by observing Ekadasi, the starvation on this planet can be solved easily - no problem at all.
So Ekadasi is a wonderful thing. You should be excited about Ekadasi, enlivened. Here is a wonderful, special opportunity to make special advancement for Krishna. “I can become a little more detached from gratifying my tongue; I can help free up grains for the sake of others” – in this way, think of what a wonderful opportunity this holy day of Ekadasi is. It’s described as “the mother of devotion.”
Is that all right? Or do you still object to Ekadasi? Do you accept Ekadasi as it is? Do you accept Ekadasi as it is, or do you still object to Ekadasi . . . ?
We just went through the Fifth Canto . . .
Ah, no wonder. Fifth Canto is pretty exciting.
We figured out that the purpose of going to all these places [the hellish planets, where sinful human beings are sent after death] is because the sinful mentality of a person can be changed at these places.
What is the point?
That the sinful mentality becomes better if you understand, “I’m doing something wrong here.” That’s the purpose there.
[other devotee] That’s the purpose of the punishment.
[other devotee] Rehabilitation.
Here’s the bottom line –
I don’t understand how I have this mentality – I need some peace.
The real bottom line is that Krishna is acting everywhere, through everything, directly or indirectly. Lord Krishna is giving full, unlimited mercy to every living entity at every minute – even in the hellish planets. He’s helping them to get free.
Here’s an example. When I was a kid growing up, we had a dog, and the dog came into the house. When we first got the dog he didn’t know that he wasn’t supposed to pass stool on the rug. So when he would pass stool on the rug, my father would take his nose and rub it in the stool, every time. And so very quickly he got the message not to pass stool on the rug - that he had to go outside to pass stool. My dad was actually helping him to become house-trained so that he could become a peaceful, happy member of the family by not passing stool on the rug. So that was a kindness, actually. Instead of rejecting the dog, or beating him or throwing him out because he’s passing stool on the rug, we said no, we want to welcome him as a family member, but he has to learn how to live properly with the other family members by not passing stool on the rug. So he thought it was a pretty horrible thing (the dog was a ‘she’ in this case) when the nose was being rubbed in the stool; but actually it was for the benefit of the dog, so he could live in the house, be a happy family member and just know when he had to go outside. In the same way, the hellish planets are there just to train us how to be proper living beings. It’s there for purpose - it’s there for a good purpose. It’s all part of the process of training us in how to give up those activities which don’t give us happiness and don’t give anyone happiness. But if you will chant Hare Krishna and give your life to Krishna you don’t have to worry about the hellish planets.
Sorry - I don’t want to -
No – please do! We like this. Come on - this is very good. I’ve been waiting for someone to open up the can of worms. We can discuss everything. This philosophy answers all questions. Do you have any objection?
Yes. I don’t understand how this is the same, because this is some grains [referring back to original question regarding Ekadasi], and yet if I kill and murder and do all these things, I get the same –
No. I guarantee you’ll get a much worse reaction if you do those things.
But if the sinful reaction is in the grains, then I –
No, you’ll get a much worse reaction if you go around killing and murdering and pillaging, I guarantee you. You’ll get a much worse reaction than you will by eating grains on Ekadasi.
So the reaction is not like that?
I guarantee you, if you eat grains on Ekadasi or if you go out and start murdering or robbing, you will get a worse reaction for the latter. But if you knowingly eat grains on Ekadasi – if you challenge universal authorities - “I’m going to eat grains on Ekadasi” – you’ll get a stiff reaction for that, too. But to actually go around murdering people – killing cows, killing babies – you will get very severe reactions for those things. When Prabhupada talks about the sinful reactions that people get, he talks about things like cow-killing, baby-killing - all kinds of sinful activities [on that level]. I never heard him say that the materialistic society is going down to the animal kingdom because they eat grains on Ekadasi. I never heard him say that. Has anyone heard Prabhupada say that? No. He said they’re going down because they’re killing cows and they’re killing unborn babies; he never said that because they’re eating grains on Ekadasi that they’ll have to become dogs in their next life. I never heard him say that. So there’s no sense in manufacturing some teaching that we are supposedly saying which we have never said. We never say like that in our movement, that this material society is condemned because they’re eating grains on Ekadasi.
No, but they told me that if you do it, then you’ll go to –
Well, they just want to make sure that you don’t eat grains on Ekadasi.
That’s very nice of them.
They want to make sure you don’t eat grains on Ekadasi. Sometimes the scriptures will give very strong statements to make a point. It’s even stated in the scripture that if you look upon the face of materialist, you must immediately jump into the Ganges River with all your clothes on to purify yourself. [laughter] If we’re going to enforce that literally, I’m going to become a travel agent. I’m going to sell tickets to India, and I’m going to make a fortune, because all the devotees in Germany are going to have to catch an airplane and go immediately to India!
This is why a spiritual master is very important, because the spiritual master understands the practical application of the rules and regulations. The scriptural injunctions are there, but you require a guru also. You need to have a spiritual master to whom you surrender yourself because he will then guide you to the practical application of the rules and regulations. There are so many different injunctions; but they have to be understood through the instructions you receive from your Guru Maharaja, your spiritual master. That’s why Guru is essential. Tad vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet. It’s enjoined in the Mundaka Upanisad [1.2.12] that you have to have a spiritual master. That’s the emphasized thing. Once you’ve submitted yourself to a bona fide spiritual master, then, under his guidance and direction, you’ll be following all the injunctions perfectly. Even though it may appear that sometimes you’re contradicting them, under his expert guidance, you’ll be perfectly following all the Vedic injunctions.
So your problem is not Ekadasi. Your problem is that you don’t have a spiritual master. That’s all. You’re like a street dog wandering around, you see - you just need to have a guru. We have so many nice spiritual masters in our society representing Prabhupada so purely and wonderfully; you need to associate with them and take instructions seriously, and eventually choose one of them – one about whom you can say, “This person will be my spiritual master; I will surrender to him.” And under his expert guidance, then, you will understand the proper application of these Vedic injunctions. You won’t be bewildered anymore – “Oh, Fifth Canto; oh, this Ekadasi” – no; it will all be clear. You simply require a guru, that’s all; then everything will come.
Actually I asked this question one time before, but I got no answer. It’s about Lord Caitanya. It is said that he appears one time in one day of Brahma, which is in this kalpa, right now, and that Lord Krishna does also. I want to know, in the other kalpas - the other Kali-yugas - how do the people get the mercy and the association of Krishna or an incarnation of Krishna? How can they connect? Because in this Kali-yuga –
Lord Caitanya is not appearing in that particular Kali-yuga, so what do those poor souls do to get out of their situation? That’s a very nice question, because it shows a mood of compassion from you for those persons. It’s a very nice question. A devotee always feels compassion.
The real fact is that Krishna is in the heart of every single living entity. He is the constant companion, as the Supersoul; He is seated in the heart of every single living entity. And when He sees that that living entity is becoming inclined to actually escape this material suffering, to actually know what the truth is, He will make an arrangement for that person. Even if He doesn’t personally come in His form of Lord Caitanya, He will send that person a guru, a bona fide spiritual master. Even now, we didn’t meet Lord Caitanya personally. But because we have come in contact with a bona fide spiritual master, we are getting the mercy of Lord Caitanya.
So the personal presence of Lord Caitanya, the personal presence of Krishna – this is not absolutely required if you have the contact of a realized Vaisnava, a spiritual master. If you come in contact with a realized devotee of the Lord, that’s just as good. And Krishna can send a bona fide spiritual master to anyone. Prabhupada said that you don’t actually have to seek a guru. When you are ready – when you are actually serious about spiritual life – Krishna will send the spiritual master to you. When you are actually serious, you will find yourself face to face with a bona fide spiritual master; Krishna will make that arrangement. So all the jiva (the living entity) has to do is to be serious about knowing what the truth is, knowing why he is suffering here, and so forth. If these sincere questions are asked, then Krishna will make the arrangement; He will send a guru to you. And you’ll know. Krishna within the heart will say, “Here’s your spiritual master. He has now come. Now hear from him; serve him with love. Learn how to become Krishna conscious under his guidance.”
There’s supposed to be an arati now, right? And we’re holding it up? Well, this is a very auspicious time for Gaura Arati because we just talked about the appearance of Lord Caitanya. And now Lord Caitanya will appear.
Do not think that this is simply a marble statue of Lord Caitanya. Do you know that pastime of Gauridasa Pandita? Do you know that lila? Gauridasa Pandita was keeping the Deities of Gaura-Nitai in his home. Then one day the real Gaura-Nitai came to visit his home. As Gaura-Nitai were getting ready to leave, Gauridasa said, “No, no; don’t leave. I can’t bear your separation. Kindly stay here in my house.” They replied, “We are staying! Don’t you see us? We are here; we are standing there on your altar.” And Gauridasa said, “No – I want you, not the Deities! I want you personally to stay in my home.” So Gaura-Nitai said, “Okay,” and they walked up and stood on his altar – at which point the Deities came off the altar and began to leave the house! [laughter] And then Gauridasa Pandita said, “Wait, you can’t leave! I want you here personally; I don’t want the Deities only! I want you personally in my house!” And they said, “Okay.” So once again, they went back and got on the altar and again the Deities came off the altar to leave the house. This same exchange happened again and again and again until finally, Gauridasa lost track of who was who. [laughter]
So, here are the original Gaura-Nitai. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, in His most magnanimous manifestation, will manifest here to your very eyes.
[CC Adi 1.2]
“I offer my respectful obeisances unto Lord Sri Krishna Caitanya and Prabhu Nityananda, who are just like the sun and the moon. They have risen simultaneously on the horizon of Gauda” – and here in Cologne, Germany – “to dissipate the darkness of ignorance here in this age of Kali-yuga.”
Hare Krishna. Srila Prabhupada ki jaya. Bhagavad-gita ki jaya.
Transcribed by Her Grace Labangalatika devi dasi