Sofia Preaching Center
Sofia, Bulgaria (6 October 2005)
We want to enjoy without limit, don’t we? So how will we do that? It is stated in Vedanta sutra [1.1.12], ananda-mayo ‘bhyasat: the living being is an enjoyer by nature. His natural proclivity is to enjoy. So this Krishna consciousness process is a simple process of reconnecting us with our original, blissful, knowledgeable natures. It is not is not some kind of artificial imposition on our minds. Consider this: What is sitting dormant within a match? Fire. Fire is dormant within the match. Do you understand? Fire is there within that match. When you strike that match, the fire comes out, doesn’t it? Likewise, you have a fire within you. Within your heart you have the fire of pure Krishna bhakti. It’s already sitting there; all you have to do is revive it. And when you revive it, you will become the happiest person in the world. You will achieve an opulence, a treasure greater than any treasure that anyone has in this world. Right now everyone is envious of Mr. Bill Gates because he has so much money. But his opulence is nothing compared to the opulence of one who revives his dormant Krishna consciousness. You will become more wealthy than Bill Gates if you simply revive your dormant Krishna consciousness.
So how will you do that? You are the match. All you have to do is come in contact with a bona fide striking surface. The match also has to be dry. If the match is wet, it won’t light. So what is that striking surface and what is that dryness? These are the questions we must ask in this human form of life. Otherwise, you know what we are. We’re simply animals – eating, sleeping, mating and defending. For a human being to come to the platform of an animal is very, very bad. Why? Because we’re cheating ourselves out of the greatest happiness: pure love for God! So we must find out what is that match, what is that striking surface and what is that dryness.
The match? That is very simple: the match is you! Each one of us is that match. And the striking surface? There are three different kinds of striking surface. One is Guru. If you come in contact with a bona fide spiritual master, then by that contact (if the match is dry) you can become ignited. Another striking surface is the sadhus, the Vaisnavas. If you come in contact with advances devotees of the Lord and your match is dry, then you will become ignited by their sanga also. The third one is sastra. If you can somehow get in touch with Prabhupada’s books, then just by touching the books and seeing the books your spiritual life will become ignited. So these are the three things. If you can come in contact with a bona fide spiritual master, if you can come in contact with advanced devotees of the Lord, and if you can come in contact with the books of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, then, if your match is dry, you will become ignited with love of God. You understand.
So that leaves one more question: What is that dryness? If the match is wet, nothing will happen. You can strike it from now until Janmastami and you won’t get any fire out of it. So what is that dryness? This is described by Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita [4.34]:
tad viddhi pranipatena
Krishna is saying, “Just try to learn the truth by approaching the spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively; render service unto him. The self-realized souls can render knowledge unto you because they have sent the truth.” So we have to be inquisitive. And we have to be in the mood of submissive service - not in the mood of envy, trying to find fault.
So if we have this inquisitive, submissive, non-envious attitude and we associate with Guru or Vaisnavas or Prabhupada’s books, then by these three things - in that proper, non-envious, submissive spirit - that dormant Krishna bhakti will become revived. This, then, is what we should do. Otherwise, in spite of all of our modern advancement - with running water, electricity, motor vehicles, Internet and CDs and 747s - we are nowhere. Absolutely nowhere. What is the advantage of all this advancement of civilization is all we’re doing is increasing our sense enjoyment? Isn’t this foolish? We’re simply using our advanced human intelligence to increase sense gratification. In this way we’re becoming more entangled in the laws of nature. We should be using our intelligence to escape the laws of nature. But instead we’re using that intelligence toward how to become more entrapped in the laws of nature. This is our big mistake.
So how will we get out of this dilemma? It’s like a plane that’s going into a nosedive. How will we pull out of that nosedive? Right now the modern-day civilization is like an airplane crashing into the ground. The pilot is trying to get control of the plane but the plane is crashing into the ground. If we want to actually realize the purpose of human existence, then we have to take control of our minds. If you let your mind run wild, like a wild child, you will never realize the human life’s goal. The expert mother teaches her child how to be very obedient. Similarly, we have to bring our wild minds under control.
I come from Texas where the cowboys are very famous. In the old days in Texas there used to be so many horses running wild on the open prairie. So the cowboys would capture a horse and they would tame him so they could use him to ride on. But that horse doesn’t want to let anyone sit on his back. As soon as you sit on his back, he immediately throws his legs up and tosses you off. They call it “bucking bronco.” (“Buck” means when he throws his legs up like that, and “bronco” means “wild horse.”) The horse throws his back legs up and tosses the cowboy off. But the cowboy is only more determined to conquer the horse, and he keeps getting back on, again and again and again. In time, the horse becomes very exhausted, so finally he agrees to be conquered by the cowboy and do whatever he is told.
So do you know what your mind is? Your mind is wild, bucking bronco. And you have to be the cowboy. You have to get on your mind and say, “Mind, you just shut up and do what you’re told.” And then your mind will say, “Hell, no! I’m going to do what I want and I won’t take orders from anybody.” So you have to conquer that rascal mind. No matter how many times it tries to deviate, you have to bring it under control. This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gita, Chapter Six [text 26]:
yato yato niscalati
“From whatever and wherever the mind wanders due to its flickering and unsteady nature, one must certainly conquer it and bring it under the control of the self.” The person who can do this is called a yogi – one who can bring his mind under control. We must all become yogis, those who can control and conquer the mind.
There are different types of yogis. There are the karma-yogi, jnana-yogi, astanga-yogi and bhakti-yogi. The astanga-yogi tries to bring his mind under control by going to a solitary place. He sits down rigidly in some yoga posture; he cannot trim his nails, he cannot comb his hair, he cannot bring the refrigerator; he simply has to survive by some roots and berries. He can no longer have any relationship with any other people. He has to completely forget about his family, his friends and his society, and remain alone in the forest for the rest of his life. And gradually, through rigid yogic exercises, he is able to merge his incoming and outgoing breaths. And gradually, gradually he brings his mind under control. And then what does he do? At that point he fixes his mind on Vishnu, or Krishna.
But that is a mechanical process. There is one yogi who came to the highest perfection of the astanga system. His name was Visvamrita Muni. He became a very, very powerful yogi. He became so powerful that Indradeva, the King of Heaven, became very scared. “This yogi is getting so much power that if I do not stop him, he will take my kingdom from me!” Indra was very, very scared. But he had a brilliant plot. In the heavenly planets the girls are very beautiful. There was one prostitute girl in the palace who was so beautiful - her name was Menaka. So Indra said, “Menaka, you go there and seduce that yogi.”
So Menaka came to where that yogi was meditating. And as soon as he heard the sound of her ankle bells – ting! ting! – he said, “Oh, a woman has come.” And he was finished. They had sexual relations, and they produced a beautiful daughter named Shakuntala. Actually that daughter Shakuntala was a very famous, beautiful girl. But that was the end of the yogi’s meditation – finished. Why? Because he was mechanically fixing his mind.
But the bhakti-yogi is on the safe side. Prabhupada said that he could go into a whole room full of beautiful women and not be disturbed. Just like tonight, there are so many beautiful women here in this room, you see. But we can be together with these beautiful women because we are fixed on Krishna. Krishna is more beautiful than any woman, or any handsome man. So by developing our love for Krishna, we can become naturally free from getting carried away by sex attraction. When you’re in love with someone, you naturally think of them twenty-four hours a day. When you get up in the morning you think of your beloved; when you’re eating, you think “I want to invite my beloved to eat.” When you’re in love, all you can think of is your beloved, twenty-four hours a day. You dream of your beloved; you buy gifts for your beloved - in this way you’re always thinking of your beloved. So Krishna consciousness means you fall in love with Krishna by this process known as sadhana-bhakti. You revive the natural feelings of love for Krishna which are already there within your heart. And as that love for Krishna becomes revived more and more, param drstva nivartate – you get a higher taste, higher than any pleasure of this material world.
In this material world, what is the number one pleasure? Sex. Isn’t it? Bhagavatam says, yan maithunadi grhamedhi-sukham hi tuccham. Bhagavatam says that sexual intercourse is the most enjoyable thing in this world. But Bhagavatam also says, “That pleasure of the householders, that number one enjoyment of sex pleasure, it is hi tuccham – it is indeed tenth class pleasure at best.” Once you get a taste for the lotus feet of Lord Sri Krishna, you will find no pleasure to compare with the pleasure of Krishna’s lotus feet. Of course, in our Krishna consciousness movement, our householders can have sexual combination for producing children; that is allowed, according to religious principles. Before they combine in sex, they take blessings from their Guru Maharaja, first thing – they get his permission – and then they have sex life once in a month, on the most fertile day according to the woman’s menstrual cycle. And they must chant 50 rounds before they have sex.
I remember when I was a brahmacari in our Miami temple that there was one householder couple who wanted to have a child. So the husband was telling me that he and his wife had chanted 50 rounds of japa to prepare themselves for having sex. But they got so high on the mantra – they were going so high into transcendental bliss by chanting -
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
- that they said, “Let’s wait until next month. We don’t want to come out of this bliss down to the bodily platform.” So even Krishna-conscious sex life is coming down to some bodily level for Krishna’s service - they said, “We’ll just wait. We don’t want to have sex – it’ll just bring us down!”
So this pleasure of chanting Hare Krishna is actually millions and billions of times greater than any sex pleasure. And you don’t have to worry about pregnancy, you don’t have to worry about AIDS – nothing. It’s simply kevala ananda-kanda – it’s simply joyful. This chanting of Hare Krishna is a very revolutionary thing. Because right now, at least according to Freud, the whole world is going on the principle of sex. Actually, Prabhupada said Freud was right. The whole world is going on this principle of sex. But this Krishna consciousness takes us far, far beyond this sexual platform. Therefore there is nothing more revolutionary in the history of the world than what has been introduced by Srila Prabhupada. When people actually wake up and realize what this taste of Krishna bhakti is, the whole world will come running – “Please, teach me how to become a devotee!” So it is up to all of you now, here in Bulgaria, to become very pure devotees, very fixed-up devotees, very advanced devotees, so that when the people think, “We have to find out how to become bhakta followers of Srila Prabhupada,” there will be teachers available to train them in how to become fixed-up followers of Srila Prabhupada. So everyone should take this responsibility to become very advanced in Krishna consciousness, so you can very nicely serve Srila Prabhupada’s mission here in Sofia, Bulgaria.
So, are there any questions?
Is it possible for a mataji, a woman, to go distribute books for her whole life? What are the qualities of a sankirtan devotee who wants to distribute the books of Srila Prabhupada through his whole life?
The answer is yes, and the answer is purity. That’s very nice. If you can do that we will all worship you. Yes, we will worship you if you can do that.
Actually, this is not a question. As you mentioned, the responsibility is great, but we are not perfect, and there are very few of us here, and so –
How many did our movement begin with?
In the whole world. There was only one person – Srila Prabhupada. Prabhupada told us, “You should do what I have done.” He wants us to do the same thing that he did: to be very bold and daring for pushing forward this Krishna consciousness movement - even if you’re one person all alone in some foreign country. What if your Guru Maharaja says, “Okay, now you go to such-and-such foreign country (where there are no devotees) and you make the whole country Krishna conscious.” You have to have that determination.
I had this determination. I went to Russia with that determination. The Russian people need this culture more, because the moral degradation there is worse than it is here. So I went there with this determination, but then I got news from here that my brother is going to die, so I had to –
Your brother is in Bulgaria?
Yes, he is here; so I had to come back –
What happened? Is your brother still living now?
Yes, he is still living, but he has some cancer . . .
So, you teach him how to chant Hare Krishna. If he’s going to die, teach him how to die in Krishna consciousness.
He doesn’t want to hear anything about it –
Give him prasadam. Keep giving him a lot of prasadam.
He doesn’t want that either.
Why not? He doesn’t eat? Is he fasting?
He understands that I am bringing him prasadam and he refuses it.
Ah, I had that experience. There was one Christian businessman with whom I used to do business, and I would bring him prasadam. But he’s an Indian Christian, so he knows what prasadam is. He would ask me, “Is this prasadam? “ And I’d say, “Oh, no, no – it’s not prasadam.” And he’d say, “Ah, yes, I will take.” So you can tell him, “Don’t worry; I don’t want to feed you prasadam because it will disturb your mind. So don’t worry; it’s not prasadam.”
I cannot lie to him . . .
You’re too honest! [laughter from group] You have to think of how to help him. It’s nice that you’re attached to being an honest man; that’s a very good thing. But you have to learn that there is something called ‘transcendental cheating’ also. You can tell some little lie, and then you give him the prasadam and bless him with Krishna prasadam. Or, what you can do without lying is to have a devotee give you some foodstuffs.
I have already twice taken maha-prasadam.
And he refused it, yes?
No. He took it; he accepted it.
Oh, he took it. All right - then what’s the problem? [laughter from group]
I want to bring it every day, to the hospital.
Just don’t tell him it’s prasadam, that’s all.
I tried, but he said that’s the last time - don’t bring any more.
You have to reason with him. Tell him, “If the food tastes good, what difference does it make?” You have to reason with his materialistic mentality . . . Is there somebody else to take care of him?
I’m a physician.
Oh, you’re a physician . . . So somebody can counsel you more in detail.
Does anybody have some other question?
This year they’re going to celebrate the tenth Ratha Yatra festival in Bulgaria. Do you have any memories of Srila Prabhupada connected with Ratha Yatra that you would like to share with us to kindle enthusiasm?
Yes. We will give some. [this question will be revisited later] But for now, does anyone have any questions about how to advance in Krishna consciousness?
How can we overcome the modes of ignorance and passion so that we can come to be more in the mode of goodness, and make it easier to come to the mode of pure goodness?
The way to overcome passion and ignorance is to follow the regulative principles. That will do a pretty good job of bringing you to the mode of goodness. That is, no illicit sex, no intoxication, no meat-eating, no gambling. When you get initiated, your spiritual master will say, “What are the four regulative principles?” He’ll ask you, and you’ll say, “No illicit sex life, no meat-eating, no intoxication, no gambling.” Following these principles very strictly brings you to the mode of goodness. And then the chanting brings you from goodness into pure goodness:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
So the whole process of taking shelter of a spiritual master actually covers that. It brings you to goodness, and then to pure goodness – just by taking shelter of a bona fide guru and surrendering yourself completely to him. That automatically does it, if you follow the instructions. This is why Srila Prabhupada emphasized in The Nectar of Devotion that without initiation the connection with Krishna is not there – there’s no connection with Krishna unless you’re initiated. So initiation is very essential.
[To other devotee, who asked Q4] I’m not forgetting your request, but it’s very important that we address these questions about how to advance in Krishna consciousness. [To group] In other words, anyone here who feels that they’re not completely a pure devotee yet should be thinking, “What questions could I ask to help me clear out the obstacles that stand between me and pure devotion?” These sorts of inquiries actually help us to become free of the obstacles that are there in our hearts. So does anybody else have some questions about how to advance in Krishna consciousness?
Following the regulative principles and sadhana bhakti is a duty for each one of us. But we cannot advance without good relations among the devotees. I perceive that the problem here is that relationships among the devotees are not very conducive to advancement.
Relationship with the devotees is the most important thing, actually. ISKCON is not the buildings; it’s not the bank accounts; it’s not the vehicles. ISKCON is nothing more than the relationships among the devotees. If we do not have loving, trusting relationships amongst ourselves, then ISKCON is dead.
So the question is: How do we establish loving and trusting relationships? Wouldn’t that be the right question to ask? That answer is given in the Upadesamrta. Six kinds of loving exchanges are given. Do you know what those six loving exchanges are? Yes. That’s what we have to do. We have to give gifts to the Vaisnavas; we also - in a very gracious, appreciative way - accept gifts from the Vaisnavas. We have to give prasadam to the Vaisnavas, and very graciously accept prasadam when it is given to us by the Vaisnavas. We have to reveal our heart to the Vaisnavas, and we have to be very open through our ears and our hearts when the Vaisnava wants to reveal his heart to us. We have to be very open to let him do that. This is our biggest difficulty in ISKCON right now. We don’t know how to listen to each other. We are very proud.
So, for example, how will you agree to listen to me? If you don’t like someone, you don’t want to listen to them, right? Would you ever want to hear something from somebody that you don’t like? No; we want to hear from people that we like. But who do we like? We like people who like us! So this is the real solution: you have to learn how to love all the devotees. You have to overlook all of their faults. You have to see, “What is the good quality in this devotee?” – and truly love an appreciate him for that good quality. And when you love and appreciate that devotee, he will like you! He will like to hear from you also.
So this is the real thing. We have to learn how to love each other by sincerely looking for the good in each devotee in our community. You must have the quality of forgiveness, because in all of our dealings with devotees, sometimes I’m rude to you, sometimes you’re rude to me –right? We try to always be friendly, but sometimes we’re in a bad mood and we might be rude. So we have to forgive the offenses of other devotees, and not hold any grudges against them. In this way our hearts will become clean, and we can then love and appreciate all the devotees. This is what we have to do for the sake of pleasing Srila Prabhupada also. He said, “Your love for me will be seen by how much you cooperate with each other.” So if we actually love Prabhupada we have to cooperate. Otherwise, where is the sign of our love for Srila Prabhupada?
In connection with her question: You said in class that we have to follow the principles of sadhana to raise ourselves to the level of goodness. On the other hand, these bad relationships and conflicts are manifestations of tamo-guna. So my question is this: If we follow these principles of sadhana but there is still tamo-guna manifesting, is it taking too long to purify ourselves?
If tamo-guna is still there, then you have to intensify your sadhana. It’s just like when it’s very cold in the winter - what do you do? You put more wood in the stove, don’t you? Don’t you make the fire hotter when it is very cold? Yes. So when you find that you’re in tamo-guna, you simply have to increase the intensity of your practice. You have to chant with more focus:
Hare Krishna Hare
They say – and it is a fact – that with a laser beam, they can burn through metal. You have to make the intensity of your sadhana like a laser beam. Then it can even burn through steel! Bhagavatam says that we have steel-framed hearts. So by intense sadhana – very intense, laser-focused sadhana – you can burn through the steel-framed heart, and come to pure bhakti.
So you are finding difficulty in doing that?
It is difficult to do that, but my question is in another direction. There really are some bad relationships. There are devotees who are following very strictly and they’re thinking that they are in sattva-guna, but at the same time there are many conflicts arising. There is pride. Therefore I am asking, is it taking too long to overcome these lower modes? Because the reality is . . .
Mataji, the fact is that we have been enamored by sex pleasure and money for millions and millions of births. Do not think that this madness can go away immediately. We have to be patient. When a woman gets married, can she expect to have a baby the next morning? It’s not possible. But she knows, “I have a husband, so in due course I will have my child.” So, if you have thoughtfully taken up – are you an initiated disciple? Yes? Of whom? . . . Okay; so you have sincerely taken this process according to Prabhupada’s instructions. So now all you have to do is make it perfect. You have already taken the proper pathway, so all you have to do is make it perfect. Don’t be looking at how all the other devotees are doing this, all the other devotees are doing that – that should not be your focus. I can tell you, mataji, that is the problem we all have! I’m looking and thinking, “Oh, he has a fault, she has a fault, they have a fault” – fault, fault, fault, fault, fault. But I forget to look at my own faults! Srila Prabhupada says that you should be very strict with yourself and very lenient with others.
So the first thing we should think is, “I am contaminated. I require rectification to get me out of this contaminated, polluted state of consciousness that I am presently in.” The first thing is that you should feel that you are a contaminated wretch. You should feel that you are so polluted that you don’t even deserve to be in the company of devotees, but that they have so kindly allowed you their sanga, their association. That’s the starting point that each one of us should have in our minds. That’s how we can build healthy relationships. Every devotee in this community should feel that he is so contaminated – “I’m so polluted, I have so many bad qualities that I don’t deserve to be a member of this community, I’m so polluted. But the Vaisnavas are so kind that they’re allowing me to be around them, even though they should just kick me out the door.” If we all start from this platform of humility, then we can establish the most tightly knit, the most loving, the most transcendental ISKCON community in the entire movement, right here in Sofia.
Just imagine if we made this community – this sanga of Vaisnavas here in Sofia - the best sanga in all of ISKCON. Imagine if devotees came from all over the world to see how the Sofia devotees are living together with so much love and trust. You’re always thinking, “When are some senior devotees going to come and visit us?” Here’s how you can get more and more senior devotees to come all the time: develop a very ideal sanga here of loving, trusting relationships amongst yourselves. You may say, “But I don’t think I can do that; it sounds too difficult.” But I’m telling you, if you really take this up, there’s really nothing more fun that you could ever do in your whole life – nothing more enjoyable and relishable. So all I’m saying is, open your heart wide and give Krishna consciousness a chance to flourish here in Sofia. Open your heart completely wide. Will you agree to open your heart fully? Do you accept my invitation to open your heart wide?
I accept it as a blessing.
Jaya! Everyone here must open their hearts very wide. She has set the example.
But if within this conflict the center is Krishna or things related to Krishna –
Then it’s a spiritual conflict. [laughter in group] Prabhupada said that. He said that sometimes the devotees disagree on how to serve Krishna. So even though there’s a difference of opinion, the difference of opinion is spiritual.
If there is a difference of opinion, should one find fault with another, or – how should it work?
Is this cup half empty or is it half full? [laughter in group] You could look at the faults, and say, “Oh, this is a nonsense cup – it’s half empty! It’s a rascal cup!” Or you can see, “This is a very nice cup. It has this nice water in it.” So when you look at one of your fellow devotees, you could see the faults – “Oh, she’s so puffed up; she’s a nonsense devotee”- you see? - or you can see what the nice qualities of this devotee are – “She’s so dedicated.” You look for the good qualities of the devotee. Everyone should look at the cup as half full, not half empty.
Could you give the example of the fly and the bee?
Yes. Visnupriya Mataji has made a good point. (For those of you who don’t know, this is my wife, Visnupriya Mataji.) Prabhupada gives a very nice example, as Vishnupriya Mataji has pointed out, of the fly and the honeybee. Srila Prabhupada explains in the Caitanya Caritamrita that everyone has a combination of good and bad qualities. The devotee, like the honeybee, looks for the honey. But the fly, if you have some sore on your body, immediately goes to the sore, doesn’t he? He goes for stool, also. So you can be of one of two mentalities: you can have the mentality of a honeybee or you can have the mentality of a fly.
I want each and every one of you to seriously examine your own mentality and find out if you’re a honeybee or a fly. You should take a very close look at your personal attitude that you carry with you every day, and ask yourself this question: “Am I a fly or am I a honeybee?” You might be rather embarrassed to see how much of a fly you actually are. But that’s a very beginning. If you can honestly see how bad of a fly you really are, then you can begin to make a turnaround in your attitude. The fact is, whatever attitude you have affects what words come out of your mouth and what activities you perform with your body. So if you have the attitude of a fly, you’re definitely going to speak offensive things from time to time and you will behave in ways that are not proper.
So do yourself a favor: don’t be a fly. Learn how to be a Vaisnava, a transcendentalist, by hearing from Guru, hearing from senior devotees, and reading from Prabhupada’s books.
Any other questions?
We understand that if we think twenty-four hours a day about Krishna and the devotees then we’ll have no problems. But how do we apply this practically to our lives - to always think about Krishna, twenty-four hours?
I very much appreciate your question. [To group] She is asking how one can be fixed in Krishna consciousness twenty-four hours a day.
You have to arrange your day in such a way that you’re always connecting with Krishna. For example, one day His Holiness Visnujana Maharaja was with Srila Prabhupada in his quarters in Los Angeles, and Srila Prabhupada pointed at his harmonium. Prabhupada said, “You see? No gaps for Maya. If there’s any spare time, I can sing some bhajana on my harmonium.” So you have to arrange your twenty-four hours so that there are no gaps for Maya – not even one second for Maya to get in.
You have to be just like a warrior on the battlefield. He has many weapons. He has the hand grenade (you know that little thing where you take out the pin and throw it? That’s called a hand grenade). He has his M16 rifle. He has a knife. He has his fists, also. You see? He has his whole arsenal of weapons, and he can use any weapon. He might even have a rocket launcher for shooting a tank. So the soldier is armed with many types of weapons. Likewise, you have to arm yourself with many types and ways of defeating Maya and fixing your mind on Krishna. You can memorize slokas from Bhagavad-gita:
You can sing nice bhajanas:
bhajahu re mana sri-nanda-nandana
[Bhajahu Re Mana Sri Nanda-nandana]
You see, you have so many things. And then there is prasadam. You can have nice pictures of Krishna. And you make nice relationships with devotees, also. You have some devotees whom, whenever you’re in Maya, you can call and tell them, “Oh, I’m in so much Maya today; please preach to me! Get me out of Maya!” You have to have so many tools to aid you to always be fixed in Krishna consciousness. Not just one thing or two things – you should have twenty, thirty, fifty, sixty – 108 different things.
Here’s my instruction to you, prabhu. You make one list with 108 items: “One Hundred Eight Ways I Can Remember Krishna.” I want you to make that list while I’m here in Sofia, and I want you to bring me that list. Write it down and bring it to my translator. You must come up with 108 items on your list - 108 ways to remember Krishna. You must think very hard and find 108 ways to remember Krishna, and then you post it on your wall. Whenever you’re in Maya, just look at that list and choose one of those 108 ways to be Krishna conscious.
[comment from other devotee] I’d have to carry them with me!
Yes. You can have many copies of that list: one for your purse, one for your wall, one for your car – one for everywhere.
[other devotee] Thank you very much for the excellent advice – I will do it!
[other devotee] This will work very well; I know this mataji and she has 1,008 to remember Krishna! [laughter in group]
She already has? Maybe she can share her abridged list of 108 with the whole community. Those who are very advanced can get the list of 1,008. [laughter/clapping]
Sometimes when I’m trying to engage in service for Krishna, I’m catching myself not actually doing it for Krishna but rather to impress others. How can I catch myself timely, so that I can do my service actually for Krishna and not for some other motive like impressing others?
This is a very nice and sincere question: “How can I do devotional service free of any desire for profit, adoration or distinction?” Prabhupada actually told me like that. He told me that I should become a pure devotee. He said, “No desire for karma, no desire for jnana and no desire for yoga – all material desires, zero.” So that is the actual position that we should be shooting for: how to engage in devotional service simply to please Krishna.
I would advise you to remember the gopis, because they’re the ideal example of pure devotional service. One day Krishna had a headache, and He told His servant, “The only thing that will cure my headache is if you bring the dust from the feet of My devotees. So kindly approach My devotees and ask for the dust from their feet, to cure my headache.” So the messenger went to look for some devotees to ask for the dust from their feet.
The first people he came to were some smarta brahmanas. They were simply following the rules and regulations of the Vedas for material advancement. The messenger asked them, “May I have the dust from your feet to cure Krishna’s headache?” And they replied, “No, no, no. If the dust from our feet goes on the head of Bhagavan, we will go to hell! We wouldn’t dare give the dust from our feet for Bhagavan’s head!” The messenger thought, “Well, what can I do?” So he went looking again.
Finally he came to Vrajamandala. He went into Vraja, the land of Krishna, and there he saw the gopis. He asked them, “My dear cowherd girls, could you kindly give the dust from your feet to cure Krishna’s headache?” And they said, “Oh! Krishna has a headache? And He says the dust from the feet of devotees will cure it? Yes – take it! Take the dust – immediately! You must go cure His headache!” The messenger was surprised. He said, “Aren’t you gopi girls afraid of going to hell?” And they said, “That’s all right. We just want that Krishna will not have a headache.” So this is the mood of pure bhakti that you must cultivate - that you would be willing to go to hell if necessary to please Krishna; that you would be willing to suffer all sorts of tribulations if you could please Krishna.
You don’t need to enjoy devotional service. That’s the point. All you have to do is make sure that you are pleasing Guru and Krishna. That will be your perfection.
In the material world, what is appreciated is the quality of the work, not the purpose or why you do it. I find that when I am doing something, I’m stressing more on the quality of the work. Is this something I should change? Should I concentrate more on the purpose of the work?
One of the twenty-six qualities of the devotee is that the devotee is expert. That means the work is first-class – the best quality work, done with the best attitude also. So the attitude should be very first-class and the quality of the job should also be very first-class. Both things must be there. If you’re cooking some preparation for Krishna, the quality should be very nice – not that you put in salt instead of sugar. The quality must be first-class. But the attitude must be first-class also – not that you’re proud (“Oh, I’m such a great cook!).”
We have one prayer we sing to the spiritual master. It’s from Bhaktivinode Thakura. In this prayer we say, “Gurudeva, your mercy is all that I’m made of. If you examine me you will find that I have no good qualities.” That mood of humility is required. We have feel, “I have no good qualities. If there’s anything good in me, it’s simply the mercy of the guru and the Vaisnavas upon me.” So both things – quality of attitude and quality of work – are very important. The better your attitude, naturally the better the quality of work will be. The quality of work done by a devotee can far exceed the quality of work done by a karmi.
I have two questions regarding choosing a spiritual master. The spiritual master who enthuses me most and makes me do many things is not, at the present moment, accepting any more disciples.
You can wait. If you’re very dedicated to that guru, then you can just beg his mercy and say, “Guru Maharaja, I’m waiting for you to accept me. Please accept me.” You can wait for him, and keep letting him know that you’re here waiting. Beg his mercy.
If he has some kind of disease, then maybe it is not allowed for him to give initiations.
Oh. Is this a bona fide, ISKCON initiating guru? Who is this?
Oh - he’s not taking disciples anymore. But you can still take instruction from him. I think he’s still giving siksa. So you can take siksa from him. He can still be a siksa guru for you. The last I heard, he was not taking any disciples. But he’s a very wonderful devotee – I personally know Prthu Prabhu. You can always ask his advice on what you should do.
Previously we had the chance to see many spiritual masters, and now I don’t know what to do because I like all the spiritual masters! [laughter in group]
Well, you could just put the names in a hat and just draw them, I guess. [more laughter in group]
I was in Mayapur and saw seven or eight sannyasis and it was like, “Oh . . .”
ISKCON is a very opulent movement, actually. We have so many wonderful gurus. It’s like going to a car rental agency where they ask you, “Which kind of car would you like? Here’s a Rolls Royce; here’s a Mercedes; here’s a Lexus – which one do you want to try?” We have so many highly qualified gurus in our movement. It’s a wonderful movement. Try them all and see which one you like the best! Take siksa from this one, siksa from that one – just take siksa from all of them and then see which one you like the best.
We see that Srila Prabhupada, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and our spiritual master see themselves like the most fallen. And this is a natural feeling in them. I know this theoretically - that this is the attitude of pure devotion - and I see faults in myself, but I cannot say that I have the same mood. I cannot say that I see myself very fallen; I cannot realize it. On which platform can I develop this?
It’s very simple. If you are seeing some quality that you do not have and somebody else has that quality, then you take shelter of them. Then you will develop that quality.
What you are saying is a very nice point, because when Prabhupada was first offered a vyasasana in Los Angeles, you know what he did? He started crying. He said, “I am not fit to sit on that vyasasana. But I’m simply doing so on behalf of my Guru Maharaja.” In other words, Prabhupada did not feel that he was fit to be a spiritual master; but he did it as a service to his spiritual master and to his disciples.So if you can find persons who have true humility, you should take shelter of them. By taking that shelter, you will develop similar qualities of humility. For example, in India, nobody has a car – there are only a few people who have automobiles. Most people are riding bicycles. But they may have to travel forty kilometers from their village to their place of work every day. That’s a lot of pedaling. So what they do is they grab a hold of a bus – and they get a ride holding onto the bus, on their bicycle. Similarly, if you feel yourself lacking in some quality, find a devotee who has that quality – and grab hold of his lotus feet. Then you will get that quality also.
[Gurudeva to other devotee, referring back to Q4] -
I promised to say something about Ratha Yatra, but maybe we can do that another day, when it gets closer to the festival. I will answer your question about the Ratha Yatra when it comes closer to the festival time.
There is a nice cake waiting . . .
Cake?! [laughter in group]
The question is asked because we are enthused to hear things about Ratha Yatra.
Let me give you one thing that a lot of devotees are not aware of. Prabhupada told us that this is a very important thing, and this will take your experience of Ratha Yatra to a whole new dimension.
There is the exoteric understanding of Ratha Yatra and there is the esoteric understanding – the outer and the inner understandings of Ratha Yatra. The outer understanding is that it’s a wonderful festival: we’re taking Lord Jagannatha for a ride, we’re chanting the Holy Names, there’s a lot of prasadam and a lot of bliss. That’s the external understanding of a Ratha Yatra festival. But if you really want to enjoy the Ratha Yatra on the highest level of Krishna consciousness, then you have to understand it in the internal way also.
When Krishna left Vrindavana, He never forgot the gopis. While He was residing in Dvaraka He was always hankering for those days when He was in Vrindavana. So one time, there was a solar eclipse, and all the vrajavasis and dvarakavasis went to Kuruksetra on the occasion of the solar eclipse. By now the gopis were worse than dead, their hearts were so pining for Krishna in His separation. And now they have come to Kuruksetra, and they are again seeing Krishna. But it is not the same Krishna. He is a prince. He is no longer the cowherd boy that they knew in Vrindavana. So even though they are seeing Krishna, they are not satisfied. And they are wanting, “We must bring Krishna back to Vrindavana!”
So that is the mood of Ratha Yatra, Prabhupada explains. The gopis are bringing Krishna back to Vrindavana. When you pull the rope on the Ratha Yatra cart, you should pull the Ratha Yatra cart in the mood that we must bring Krishna back to Vrindavana so the gopis will be happy. Then Krishna will be happy. This is the internal meaning of Ratha Yatra. So when you pull that rope, just meditate on the gopis and how much they are missing Krishna – “Let us bring Krishna back to the gopis in Vrindavana.” That’s the real, inner meaning of Ratha Yatra.
So now, where’s the cake? [laughter] Jaya! Thank you very much. Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
[devotee in group] Sankarshan Prabhu ki jaya!
ISKCON Sofia Vaisnavas ki jaya!
Transcribed by Her Grace Labangalatika devi dasi