Lecture: Bhagavad-gita 9.27
Goloka Dham, Germany (30 March 2006)
yat karosi yad
yat – whatever; karosi – you do; yat – whatever; asnasi – you eat; yat – whatever; juhosi – you offer; dadasi – you give away; yat – whatever; yat – whatever; tapasya – austerities you perform; kaunteya – O son of Kunti; tat – that; kurusva – do; mat – unto Me; arpanam – as an offering.
Translation and purport by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Tridandi Goswami Maharaja Prabhupada:
Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform – do that, O son of Kunti, as an offering to me.
Thus, it is the duty of everyone to mold his life in such a way that he will not forget Krishna under any circumstance. Everyone has to work for maintenance of his body and soul together, and Krishna recommends herein that one should work for Him. Everyone has to eat something to live; therefore he should accept the remnants of foodstuffs offered to Krishna. any civilized man has to perform some religious ritualistic ceremonies; therefore Krishna recommends, “Do it for Me,” and this is called arcana. Everyone has a tendency to give something in charity; Krishna says, “Give it to Me,” and this means that all surplus money accumulated should be utilized for furthering the Krishna consciousness movement. Nowadays people are very much inclined to the meditational process, which is not practical for this age, but if anyone practices meditating on Krishna twenty-four hours a day by chanting the Hare Krishna mantra round his beads –
Prabhupada didn’t say on the clicker, as has now become popular in many parts of ISKCON – chanting Hare Krishna on a clicker. Prabhupada said, “Chant on his beads.”
[back to purport]
- he is surely the greatest meditator and the greatest yogi, as substantiated by the Sixth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita.
sri-caitanya-mano-‘bhistam sthapitam yena bhu-tale
Krishna is giving a very simple formula here. It’s actually a very simple formula: how to be happy. In this world there are so many attempts to be happy. But everyone goes about it in such a complicated way. Isn’t that true? It’s like there are two ways to scratch your nose: you can scratch is like this [demonstrates easy way] or you can scratch it like this [demonstrates difficult, contorted way]. This [the latter method] is the karmi way to try to enjoy. They try to scratch their noses like that.
It’s actually such a simple thing to be happy. Krishna is there. He wants to enjoy. So from Himself He expands innumerable living entities – an infinitude of living entities – so that He can have an infinitude of loving relationships. So the very purpose of our existence is simply to love Krishna, that’s all. We have no other reason to exist. But since love cannot be forced – since it has to be voluntary – Krishna says, “All right. You share in My quality of independence. You can love Me or you can leave Me as you see fit.” Most living entities think, “Well, this is so wonderful – loving Krishna – I wouldn’t think of doing anything else.”
Sometimes, however, because that tendency of independence is there, out of an infinite number of living entities there’s always some chance that some of them will misuse that independence. And to those that do so, Krishna gives them full facility. It’s just like the story of the mother and the moon. A little girl was looking out the window at the moonlit night and she was seeing, “What is that beautiful ball?” She said to her mother, “Mommy, Mommy, give me, give me!” But can a mother give her child the moon? Is that at all possible? No, of course not. It wouldn’t fit through the window. But the mother can give the child the illusion of possessing the moon [by giving her a mirror to hold to view the moon’s reflection, as if she were holding the moon in her hand]. In this way the child feels so satisfied - “Oh, my mother loves me so much. She has given me the moon.” So now the child has the mirror in her hand. Of course the trouble is, when the moon moves it disappears from the mirror. But at least for the time being, the child thinks, “Now, yes, I possess the moon.” In this way the mother pacifies the child temporarily.
Similarly, Krishna gives the foolish living entity who wants to be God the illusion that yes, he is God. “Yes, you are God!” – for some time. But is doesn’t last very long. The living entity thinks, “I am God” and then he feels like he’s lost his position. And then he tries to get it back in so many ways, struggling, struggling, struggling. He tries to get it back in the academic world by getting a PhD; he tries to get it back in the business world by becoming a millionaire; he tries to get it back in the political world by becoming the Chancellor; he tries to get it back in the music world by having a platinum album. You see? And if he fails in all those attempts he tries to get it back by Mayavadi philosophy. But even if he goes as a karmi to try to get that position of supreme enjoyment, of if he goes as a jnani, trying to achieve that brahman – “I am God” - he is a failure. He is a failure. Why? Because that is not his constitution. The fish cannot be satisfied unless it’s in the water. I don’t care what arrangement you make on the land for that fish, he will never, ever be satisfied. It is not possible. He will never be satisfied. Similarly, we are trying in vain to make so many arrangements for happiness, for satisfaction in this world – and we’re simply falling flat on our faces. Utter failures.
Yet Krishna is making it so simple. If you do something – and everyone’s doing something – “do it for Me.” That covers everyone. Even the Mayavadi is doing something. He’s sitting there breathing. He’s trying to do nothing, but he still breathes. He’s still sitting. So if you’re doing something, do it for Krishna. And if you’re eating something? Well, everybody eats. If you’re eating something, then eat for Krishna – eat prasadam. Eat the food which has been offered to the Lord. Krishna is taking the basic things that everyone does and He is simply saying, “Dovetail them with Me; connect them with Me, O son of Kunti.”
Why is Krishna saying that? Is He proud? Is He puffed up? What’s going on in the mind of Krishna, anyway? Why does He talk like this? If I came here and told you, “Okay – whatever you do, do it for me; whatever you eat, you must offer to me” – you would think, “Oh, Sankarshan Prabhu is so puffed up! He’s a madman, talking like that!” So is Krishna a madman to be talking like this? Many people would say yes. “He’s a madman! He has no right to make all these demands, that ‘you must do everything for Me’.”
But no. Krishna is not a madman; you are a madman. If you do not accept Krishna, you are a mad, because actually everything is owned by Krishna. Bhoktaram yajna-tapasam sarva-loka-mahesvaram [Bg 5.29]. Actually, you cannot act outside of Krishna. It’s by His energy that everything is going on. All Krishna is really saying is, “You’re already doing it for Me anyway, whether you know it or not. Whether it’s My spiritual energy or My material energy, you’re already doing it for Me. Just be conscious of what’s actually happening.” That’s what He’s really saying. All He’s really saying is, “Be conscious. Don’t be unconscious.” Everyone’s serving God, you see. Everyone’s serving God already. Some are doing it consciously and some are doing it unconsciously. If you do it unconsciously, you end up doing it in the wrong way. Of course, there is a way of unconsciously doing it in the right way, by the mercy of the devotees; it’s called ajnata sukriti. But the general population is unconsciously serving God by serving His material energy.
For example, here in Germany there are different types of government institutions. You can become a student in the university and serve the orders of the professor and then advance yourself with academic credentials and earning power in the future. Or you can serve by serving in the prison. In either way, you’re serving under the direction of a government institution. So which service is better? Earning a college degree or smashing rocks? Material life means you are smashing rocks here in the three modes of nature. You’re building up your castle in the sand and then you’re watching it be washed away by the waves when they come in. Castles made of sand are washed into the sea. Likewise, no matter what empire you may build for yourself in this world, it will be smashed.
Those who are thus bewildered are attracted by atheistic and demoniac views. In that deluded condition, their hopes for liberation, their fruitive activities and their culture of knowledge are all smashed to smithereens. Obliterated. You think you can enjoy here? You just try. You’ll be smashed. You think you can cultivate knowledge here, with your atheistic mentality? You just try. You will be smashed. That’s what Krishna says. For those fools who deride Him –
Those persons who deride Krishna - who accept Him or take Him as an ordinary man or as a mythological figure – they will be smashed. They will be smashed. Someone may say, “Well, God is so cruel! Why doesn’t He just let everybody enjoy? Why does He make all these rules and regulations – that you have to surrender to Him, or you have to chant His names, or you have to bow down to Him and offer Him food? Why doesn’t He just be a nice person and let everybody be happy? Why does He make all these rules and regulations, and all these restrictions and impositions?” They say, “Well, God is cruel, because unless you’re a devotee, He won’t let you be happy! He’s being very cruel. He should be liberal, and just let everybody be happy, whether they’re devoted to Him or not.” People argue like that. Many people argue that way against God, Krishna - that’s a fact. I have a course on the Internet through e-mail, and we have thousands of people in over a hundred countries taking this course. I get all kinds of questions, and this is a very common question that people ask me. “Don’t you think that God is cruel? He demands that you have to surrender. Why doesn’t He make a world where everybody is happy, with no rapes, no murders, no cheating – where it’s just a Vaikuntha, and everybody is happy?” This is like what the Archbishop of Canterbury said: “They want the Kingdom of God without God.” But, as Prabhupada said, they cannot have it.
So why is that? Is Krishna being unfair? Is He being cruel? No. Not at all. Krishna is giving us full facility to love Him. Our very nature is that we are lovers of God. That is our very nature, that we are lovers of God. So if we don’t act according to our own nature, then it’s a difficult situation. It’s just like the nature of this body is to take food through the mouth. If you try to ingest food through your fingernails, it will be very difficult to get nutrition. It’s not the nature of the body. The nature of the body is to take foodstuff through the mouth. Likewise, the nature of the living being is to love God. By his or her very nature, he or she is meant to be a lover of God. So it’s not that God is imposing anything on us. Rather, He’s saying, “Okay, you can be whatever you want to be. I don’t restrict you in any way. But if you be what you actually are – if you try to be who and what you actually are – that will be much better for you.”
On our recent round-the-world lecture series our second-to-last stop was the Fiji Islands. I remember when we were getting ready to depart we were there at the Air Pacific check-in counter and there was somebody in the line with us who was a person who liked to defeat religious people. He said to us, “What’s your belief?” I immediately picked up on his vibration, and I said “Know who you are and be who you are. That is our philosophy.” He couldn’t say anything to that, so he came up with something else. He asked about the problem of evil in the world, and tried to defeat me on that one. And actually he didn’t defeat me on that one, either. I said that it’s just like Newton’s Law of Motion: for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. When I quoted Newton – one of his material-scientific heroes – to defend the law of karma, he couldn’t say anything. Later on he just smiled and waved at us. We’d defeated his attempt to make us look like some religious nuts using his superior scientific knowledge.
But anyway, the point I’m really making is that our philosophy is very simple. Our philosophy is simply, “Know who you are and be who you are.” That’s all we’re really saying. Krishna consciousness boils down to that simple point of knowing who you are and being who you are. That’s really all we’re up to in this Krishna consciousness movement. By the mercy of Srila Prabhupada, we know that we are the eternal servants of Krishna. That’s who we are. And then, by engaging in the process of Krishna consciousness, we get to be who we are. It’s not just theoretical. It’s not just jnana. Vijnana is also there. This is our very sublime process, and in this particular verse, Krishna is giving the vijnana aspect of our Krishna consciousness process.
So anyway, Visnupriya Mataji, my wife here, and I are very happy to be here with you all our first time. This is our second visit to Germany. We came last fall on our way to India; on our round-the-world tour we stopped here. And now we’re happy that on this tour, Krishna has arranged that we can come and get the enlivening association of all you devotees here. So thank you for welcoming us. We hope that we can render some meaningful service to you when we’re here. If there are any questions, I’ll be happy to try to answer them. Speak loudly and clearly – I’m half deaf, and the room is very big. If there are any questions, I’d be happy to try to answer them.
I think your hand was first.
About developing love for Krishna – how much is it Krishna’s mercy which comes from within, and how much is it our own endeavor?
Well actually, it’s all Krishna’s mercy because even your own ability to endeavor is also Krishna’s mercy. That is confirmed in Bhagavad-gita when Krishna says
raso ‘ham apsu
Krishna says, “I am the ability in man.” So whatever you ability you have to endeavor is also the mercy of Krishna. He has empowered you with the ability to endeavor. So actually it’s 100% Krishna’s mercy. Even your own ability to endeavor is the mercy of Krishna. He gives you the energy to endeavor. He gives you the intelligence to make the endeavor. He gives you the paraphernalia, the association, the intelligence – he gives you absolutely everything you need to make the endeavor to please Him. It’s all coming from Him. By His mercy.
So it’s all mercy. But you have to capitalize on the mercy. That is your free will. You can, as they say in English, “look the gift horse in the mouth” - which means you neglect the mercy He’s given you and not do anything with it, and just try to enjoy your senses - or you can consciously choose, with your free will, to use everything He’s giving you, by His kindness, for His service. If you choose the latter, then you become a self-realized, enlightened being who will eventually see Krishna face to face, eye to eye. Prabhupada told me that. He said, “Now you just qualify yourself to see Krishna face to face.” This was his order. So what can I do but try to do that? Even though I’m the most unqualified dog, still, I have to try to become a pure devotee, because Prabhupada ordered me to do that. Lord knows I’m a million miles away, but that’s why I like to come here, where there are so many advanced Vaisnavas – so I can get purified by your association.
This goes back to what you said before about people asking, “Is God not being cruel.” Prabhupada wrote a letter to one of his disciples saying that not only are eternal associates in the spiritual world, but also eternal associates are in the material world, like Arjuna. How is it to be understood that they are eternally here, when it’s also like Krishna says in the Gita: “I know your past lives, but you don’t remember.” So how many deaths do these devotees have to die each time in order to be in Krishna’s pastimes? How do they really experience death if they are eternally here (because if they do die, that means their body is not eternal)?
What did he say?
[Mataji] There are some eternal associates in the spiritual world and some here. So how many births do they have to take -
[inquirer] No, no – the death experience. [In the material world] they must experience death like ordinary people -
You’re asking about Krishna’s associates who are in the material world? How do they experience death?
[Mataji] And how many deaths – no?
No, no – they are eternal, which means they always stay here, because each time the material world is created, they are always here to participate in Krishna’s pastimes.
Yes, so you’re asking how do they experience death?
Yes . . .
Without any anxiety.
Yes; but it seems rather cruel in some sense because they have to face death each time.
Prabhu, if I give you a new dhoti and say, “Here’s a brand new silk dhoti from Vrindavana. Go change your clothes” - what’s the problem?
Yes, but that’s not painful.
Someone who is fully absorbed in Krishna consciousness is completely detached from the pains and pleasures of the world, actually. They may appear to be in a suffering condition, but they’re not really. It’s just like a hurricane over the ocean. On the surface of the ocean there is horrible turbulence – huge, 20-foot waves . . . But if you go deep, deep, deep within that ocean, the influence of that storm becomes less and less felt; and finally, when you get deep enough, there is absolutely no sign that there’s a hurricane going on anywhere. It’s totally serene and peaceful.
Likewise, a pure devotee can be in the midst of the most devastating, turbulent situation, and he can be reacting to it perfectly, but at the same time be totally untouched by it. That is called ‘paramahamsa.’ He deals with it expertly. He sometimes even appears to have emotions, like an ordinary person. But yet he’s completely transcendental to it. Look at Prabhupada’s struggle with Mr. Nair in Bombay. It was very, very intense and Prabhupada would become very, very angry sometimes – like when Tamal Krishna foolishly cancelled the purchase agreement under the influence of the lawyers whom he thought were ISKCON’s lawyers but were actually working for Mr. Nair undercover. Prabhupada was so much disturbed. But actually, Prabhupada was simply fighting for Krishna at every step of the way. When the whole thing was over, Prabhupada said, “It was a good fight.”
So actually, for a Krishna conscious devotee, the struggles of this material world are simply an exciting adventure in how to serve the Lord. All the struggles that emotionally devastate us, that we find so disturbing – for the Krishna conscious devotee, it’s an exciting adventure. It’s a chance for him to show Krishna how much he loves Him and how dedicated he is to Him. Prabhupada’s struggle in coming to America was an opportunity. It’s just like a soldier who goes into battle and gets more ribbons on his uniform. Prabhupada was just getting more and more ribbons, more and more glories – just becoming more and more glorious in the eyes of all the Vaisnavas, more and more glorious in the eyes of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, more and more glorious in the eyes of Krishna – by the struggle he went through in New York City to start this movement.
So even though there may be a struggle - there may be difficulties – Prabhupada suffered two heart attacks on the boat, and had to go through so much turmoil – but he did it in a very transcendental way. When a devotee is hit by turmoil, he simply uses it as a springboard to become more Krishna conscious. A diver will use a diving board to go up; but what does he do with that diving board? He pushes it down. He goes down on the diving board and then he gets more power for going up. Similarly, a devotee may sometimes appear to be pushed down by the material nature. But actually all he is doing is increasing his upward momentum, just like the diver on the diving board. The first thing he does is he goes down on the board, and that makes the board go up with great power from the bouncing effect of the board. So a devotee will sometimes be put in a situation which appears to be – like Prabhupada in Jhansi. You know, he lost everything. But that defeat in Jhansi was a springboard to Prabhupada’s success with ISKCON. So whether it’s having to change bodies, or be put into an apparently difficult situation – these things are all the arrangement of Krishna with His pure devotees, simply to increase the glories of His pure devotees.
Prabhupada explains in his purport in the Third Canto that the Lord likes to see His devotee as the hero in some episode of which He Himself (namely Krishna) is the actual doer. So Krishna puts His devotees sometimes into very difficult, problematic situations simply to show to the whole world what a great personality the devotee actually is, so the appreciation that people have for His pure devotees increases many-fold. So whatever difficulties a devotee may go through by participating in the pastimes of the Lord are simply there to increase the glory of those devotees – to show what they are willing to go through to serve Krishna. If it means staying in the material world and going through old age and death again and again, or whatever it means – those things are all there to increase the glories of those devotees.
There is an interesting point, now that you bring up devotees who are with Krishna eternally in the material world. Prabhupada points out in a Bhagavatam purport that Prahlada Maharaja is simultaneously in the spiritual world and the material world – both at the same time. So it’s actually possible for a devotee to be in both worlds at the same time. We even see it; I was reading in the Gaura Ganodesha Dipika about all the ‘who’s who’ in Caitanya’s lila - who they were in Krishna’s lila. So it’s interesting that we know from the First Canto of the Bhagavatam that in Goloka Vrindavana there’s the Caitanya neighborhood and the Krishna neighborhood. We can understand that devotees are having dual pastimes, simultaneously. They’re simultaneously participating as a certain personality in Gaura-lila and as a different personality in Krishna-lila – and there’s no reason why that can’t be true for each and every one of us, actually, when we go back to Godhead. So the Gaura-lila people came 500 years ago to this world and they were doing ordinary things, like getting old and dying - getting old and dying, like Haridasa Thakura. Well, at the same time they have another identity with Krishna in a different form, going on at the same time. This stuff is pretty inconceivable for us, but if we really want to find out what it’s all about, it’s really simple: you just have to become a pure devotee and go back to Godhead. And then you’ll actually know this stuff firsthand.
. . . maybe part of us, of each jiva, is in the spiritual world and part of us is here, but nobody knows of it -
Well, even at this very minute we have our identity in the spiritual world, that’s true; but it’s in a dormant state right now. It’s like we’ve taken a leave of absence from our position. It’s just like if you’re working for a company and you have a position: it’s a defined position; you’ve got your cubicle, your desk, you’ve got your nameplate there – it’s all there, but you’re on a leave of absence. Actually we have an identity in the spiritual world in the pastimes of Krishna, but right now we’re just on a leave of absence. You know, we got sick leave. When we recover, then we’ll come back to our position, and we’ll have all our relationships – everything will be there.
But the beautiful thing about it is, as Prabhupada said, we’ll have another ISKCON there. I also read one letter when I was in Vrindavana recently, on Prabhupada’s desk in his room. He was saying that we’ll remember the devotional activities that we did here, so that means that we can actually remember this discussion we had tonight – that you and I will remember this conversation that we’ve had right now when we’re back in our eternal rasa in the spiritual world. We’ll be able to relate to what we were doing here, sitting in front of Prabhupada and having this discussion about what we’re learning from him.
So it’s so much nectar, it’s really inconceivable. We just really have to stay on the pathway, and then it will all be revealed in due course. Incredible nectar beyond our wildest dreams is awaiting us if we just stick with this process and don’t become allured by you-know-who – Srimati Mayadevi. We don’t want to give in to Maya. She allures us – “Ah, come on, I’ll give you sex; come on, I’ll give you money; come on, I’ll give you prestige; come on, I’ll give you power.” You just say, “Maya, sit down. I haven’t finished my rounds yet. Whatever you want, I’ll do; but let me finish my japa first” – like Haridasa Thakura.
I remember one time I was preaching with Giriraja Swami in a similar sort of situation as what I just gave as an example. It was actually quite funny. He was going out to do the Life Membership preaching. He went to a wedding party just to make contacts so he could make appointments with all these Indian gentlemen, to make them ISKCON life members. It was a big, huge wedding, and a big, huge banquet was being served. Of course, it wasn’t offered - a vegetarian dinner, yes, but it was bhoga. The hosts were saying, “Maharaja, Maharaja, come and take dinner!” and he replied, “Yes, yes, yes – just now coming!” And then he would go get a few more names and numbers for Life Member appointments. I watched him the whole evening. The hosts kept saying, “Maharaja, Maharaja, come and take the dinner now!” and Giriraja would say, “Yes, just now coming, just now coming!” Finally, the whole dinner was over, and he was getting the last appointment – and he never took dinner. But he was always pacifying them – “Yes, I will come take the dinner – but wait just a minute” – and he’d go off and get a few more appointments set up for Life Membership.
So a devotee is like that. Even if the material energy says, “Come on, come on, enjoy!” you say, “All right, all right - in a minute – just now coming” – and you go do some devotional service. Distribute a few more books, open a few more temples, make a few more devotees, milk a few more cows, or whatever. Then Maya again says, “Come on, come on!” – and you say, “Yes, just now coming – wait, wait, wait.” In that way, we can keep Maya at bay, stay engaged in Krishna consciousness, and become pure devotees.
Are there any more questions?
So we thank you all very much. Raja-vidya Srimad Bhagavad-gita ki jaya! Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
Transcribed by Her Grace Labangalatika devi dasi