Lecture at Derek the Dog Yoga Studios
[Begins with jaya radha madhava kirtana, and prema-dhvani]
SDA: This is one very enlivened bunch here, very nice.
om namo bhagavate vasudevaya
We are all very much blessed by the mercy of His Divine Grace, Srila Prabhupada. Were it not for his mercy, where would we be right now? I shudder to think where I would be if it were not for the mercy of Srila Prabhupada. We have gotten this ticket back to the spiritual world. Even before you arrive in the spiritual world, the airplane is so nice. If you have a kirtana like this, its as good as being back home, back to Godhead.
Tonight we will consult the greatest book in the universe, Bhagavad-gita As It Is, because who are we? We cannot speculate something transcendental. Our minds are stuck in the muck of material existence, so we need help. We’re drowning in the ocean of birth and death! Help us Krishna! Help! We need help! So Krishna is giving us help: Bhagavad-gita As It Is. Not one of these rascal so-called Bhagavad-gitas.
One time I was preaching to a religion professor. He had so many Bhagavad-gitas on his shelf. I said, “This Bhagavad-gita As It Is is different than the other editions of Bhagavad-gita.” He said, “Oh really?” He was skeptical. I said “Yes, just take one Gita off your shelf.” I turned to Chapter Nine, Text 34, man-mana bhava mad-bhakto. The verse was translated almost the same in the other edition, it went like this:
“Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, offer obeisance and worship me, being completely absorbed in Me, certainly you will become Me.” (laughter)
Pretty good deal! You can become Krishna! Just go to the temple, bow down, merge in the Deity. You can see there’s a big difference between Bhagavad-gita As It Is and these other editions of Bhagavad-gita.
I have my e-course, which is how I ended up getting here. I have some of my students here. Illiana is here, also nearby in Latvia is Aya. So, I’ve come here so I can directly give them some instructions in spiritual life. So many of my students are asking me, “Gurudeva, can I not read another edition of Bhagavad-gita?” I say, “No, because the other editions will not give you the proper understanding.”
Prabhupada was asked by one lady in America “Swamiji, what edition would you recommend?” He could not, in good conscience recommend any of the editions, so he had to write Bhagavad-gita As It Is. He had actually written it in India previously, but the manuscript was stolen, so he rewrote it. He was able to write it very fast because he had written it once before.
Tonight we will read a very nice verse. We are on a little mini lecture series on Bhagavad-gita, they are the ten key verses of Bhagavad-gita. Last night we read 10.8 aham sarvasya prabhavo. Tonight we will read the next in line, which would be 10.9,
“The thoughts of My pure devotees dwell in Me, their lives are fully devoted to My service, and they derive great satisfaction and bliss from always enlightening one another and conversing about Me.”
Sometimes, when we’re beginning our devotional service, we don’t know how to remain absorbed in devotional service. Sometimes we become happy and sometimes we become morose, because we don’t know the art of how to steadily engage in devotional service. This verse is the key of how to be always plugged into the nectar, always tasting the sweetest transcendental bliss. It is called krsna-katha.
I remember when I was a young brahmacari and was travelling on the Road Show with Visnujana Maharaja. I read this verse, and thought “this is very nice.” So, I made one friend, Bhavabhuti prabhu, he has long since departed from this world, but he and I became krsna-katha buddies. Whenever there was nothing doing, we would just share what we were reading in Prabhupada’s books with each other. Everyone needs a krsna-katha buddy, someone that you can share your realizations with, you can hear their realizations.
These are very important things. We cannot remain impersonal, like turtles inside our shells in the company of devotees, or like a wallflower. In a party everyone is having a great time, but one person is merging into the wall. They don’t know how to associate. In Krishna consciousness, this is how we associate. We hear and chant about Krishna. We read the books, and we share our realizations, and if we don’t have any realizations, we request to hear from the other devotee “What is your realization?” Then we inquire, “How can I become a better devotee?” Or they may inquire from us, “How can I become a better devotee?” This is very important that we learn this art of how to reciprocate with each other on this basis of loving exchange.
Rupa Gosvami explains in the Upadesamrta that there are six kinds of loving exchange amongst the devotees. One is you give a gift to the devotees, the other is you receive a gift from the devotees. You have this exchange of gifts. Another is you serve prasadam to the devotees, and you accept the prasadam that is being served to you, another is to reveal your heart to the devotees. Open your mind. Reveal your confidential thoughts to the appropriate devotees. Then you also open your ears and heart when other devotees reveal their hearts confidentially to you as well. These are the six loving exchanges, and if we can learn how to engage in these loving exchanges with each other, then we will find that the feelings of love become very sweet.
Let’s face it. Everybody wants to be loved, but in this material world there is no such thing as pure love, because everybody’s love is simply superficial; “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch my back.” We try to give love in this material world, but we are cheated again and again and again. We’re not satisfied if we give our love in this material world. So, we have to learn how to have loving exchange in the society of devotees, because there everything is centered on Krishna. And because everything is centered on Krishna, we can actually become happy and satisfied.
For a neophyte devotee, there’s a tendency to be afraid to open up because we’ve been so hurt in the material world in so many ways. But as we advance in Krishna consciousness, we find that we become more confident to engage in loving exchange. So, the older devotees who are already completely confident in this wonderful process of having loving exchanges with the Vaisnavas, they should always be very kind on the younger devotees, who are still learning how to come out of their shells. They should be very kind-hearted on the younger devotees, so the younger devotees can also learn how to have this wonderful thing called loving exchange. Prti-laksanam amongst the devotees is the real essence of Krishna consciousness.
I remember, when I was a new devotee, I was always grabbing nectar wherever I could find it. If someone had a Prabhupada letter, we had no copy machine handy, so we would just copy it by hand in our notebook. So I have all these notebooks, from when I was a young brahmacari of all the nectar I was gathering from here there and everywhere. I remember what must have been a letter Prabhupada had written where he talked about the six items of surrender. There’s a list in the Nectar of Devotion, but this list is different than the one we’d seen in the books. In this list of the six items of surrender, he mentioned one item which I’ve only seen in that one place, he said to become a member of a spiritual family. That’s one of the six items of surrendering to Krishna in this list. I’ve never forgotten that, because that’s a very special and wonderful thing.
We all need family. The trouble is that our family relationship in the material world just drags us down. Our family members may be eating meat, or so many things depending on where you’re from, or they may not accept that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, or so many other things. We all need family, a place where we can plug in, feel at home and engage in loving exchange. So, that family has to be here. This has to be our family. We are the family members. We have to learn how to create that atmosphere of family amongst ourselves so wonderfully that any new person who comes in can also be drawn into that wonderful family atmosphere of Krishna consciousness. This is how our movement will actually be successful in inundating the whole world.
One astrologer in India saw a picture of Prabhupada and said, “This man has built a house in which the whole world can live peacefully.” Prabhupada said “Yes, that is my mission.” when he was told about that. Prabhupada’s mission is to build a house in which everyone can come in and we can all be one big family. This is Prabhupada’s mission. We have to learn how to enter into that spiritual family. That is our contribution first of all to ourselves to get ourselves out of the suffering condition in the material world, and its also our contribution to help create that family atmosphere in which the whole world can join the family.
This particular verse is very appropriate for creating that wonderful family atmosphere. We can sing and dance together, we can talk about Krishna together, we can enlighten one another. That’s a very amazing thing because usually we think that I can hear my guru speak and that will enlighten me, but here it’s saying that we enlighten one another. You can enlighten me. I can enlighten you. It’s something we can all do for each other. You can enlighten him. He can enlighten you. Isn’t that amazing? You can enlighten him. You can enlighten him. That’s what Krishna’s saying: enlightening one another. The little boy can enlighten the parents by talking about Krishna. Everyone can become like a lighthouse in the dark night of kali. Every devotee is meant to be a walking talking lighthouse, just beaming the light of Krishna. How does that light come out? It comes out through krsna-katha, by vibrating the topics of Krishna on the lips. It creates that wonderful atmosphere.
Ramanti: Anyone who has studied Sanskrit knows that this is plural form. They enjoy. Rama is the supreme enjoyer, so ramati, he enjoys, ramanti they enjoy. They enjoy like anything. We can study the caitanya-lila, the pastimes of Lord Caitanya and see how much ecstasy they were enjoying in these pastimes. Like the panihati festival. That is an incredible pastime. They were having so much fun. It was just fun. They were having a picnic on the bank of the sacred river Ganges. Raghunatha dasa Gosvami was a rich boy. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth as they say, a rich man’s son: Filthy rich. He was engaged in putting on this festival with his wealth and he was very happy.
They put on this huge chipped rice festival. They were soaking hundreds and hundreds of pots of chipped rice with yogurt and also milk. He was given this duty to organize this big picnic feast. Lord Nityananda ordered him “You do this.” It was a huge feast. They went to every nearby village and bought all of the stock of yogurt, milk and chipped rice. They were just completely cleaning out the stocks in that whole area. Everything was finished. Then after cleaning out the stock, they invited all the merchants “You also come to the festival.” Then to make it even more fun, even though Lord Caitanya was not there, He came invisibly so only a few of the devotees could see Him. There are all these pastimes of Lord Caitanya putting food in His mouth. People couldn’t understand what was going on. Lord Caitanya was having great fun having all these pastimes invisible to almost everyone there and only visible to a few of them. This is just a pleasure pastime, a big picnic on the bank of the Ganges.
We have to learn how to have these festive picnics. That’s what we have to learn, it’s called a love feast. A joyous thing where everyone is just wanting to love the other devotees, give nice service, talk about Krishna, sing and dance. This is so important. We have to learn how to celebrate Krishna consciousness all centered on the pastimes of Krishna. Then we become very happy, very jolly. My personal experience when I go to a festive gathering of the devotees, when I go away from there I can’t stop thinking about it. If there’s some little prasadam I brought home from that festival, I just keep eating it so I can feel like I’m at the festival. We’d pack some little thing to take home, and then again the next day and the next day, and I still feel like I’m at the festival, just by having that little morsel that came from the festival. These festivals are very important, that festive atmosphere where everyone is just happy and jolly.
I remember the devotee who convinced me to join this movement, His Holiness Visnujana Maharaja, was saying that there must always be this festive atmosphere. He would do that. I remember, he took us, a small group of brahmacaris and one householder couple in Austin,
He was very expert at making festive arrangements. He had gone to open another center in San Antonio Texas. You know these city buses that drive around Helsinki with the doors that open like this (makes a hissing sound)? He bought one of thes buses, where the door goes (hissing sound). He took all the seats out, and had all these percussion instruments. There were the traditional indian ones and also all kinds of things. He’d invited everyone on the bus and everyone would play these different kinds of instruments. It was a rolling festival.
He brought this rolling festival to Austin, he had us get on the bus and took us to Dallas. In his festive mood, he said all of you now clean the Dallas temple. We were guests visiting the Dallas temple and he engaged us “You clean the Dallas temple.” Here were all these visiting devotees coming out saying “We’re going to clean your temple for you.” This was the most wonderful festive atmosphere of loving exchange.
This is the key: to be in this mood of giving service, giving service, giving service. Whatever service is offered, we very joyfully and happily accept that, in reciprocation. This is the way to create a wonderful vaikuntha atmosphere. We were always swimming in ecstasy 24 hours a day, just feeling so happy, intoxicated with the bliss of loving exchange with the devotees. Then, when somebody walked into this atmosphere, they go “Wow! I’ve never seen anything like this! How can I join? Where do I sign up?” This is the secret.
Prabhupada wants us to inundate the entire world with the ocean, the tidal wave of love of Krishna. He wants everyone to become drowned in an ocean of love of Godhead, so wherever devotees are, it should be like a huge tidal wave of krsna-prema emanating from that gathering. We just have to open up our hearts. Say “to heck with lust anger and greed!.” “to heck with politics, faultfinding and all these things, to heck with it! Let’s just let the love of Krishna and His devotees flow freely.” If we do that the whole world will come running. Everyone will come. Your yoga center will have to buy the whole block. You won’t be able to accommodate it. This will just be an outdated little tiny space with thousands of students wanting to come and learn the secrets of perfecting the yoga process.
This is a very powerful technique. We’ve seen our Tamala Krishna Goswami Maharaja, our elder Godbrother. He was a brilliant strategist for preaching. He was given the assignment to preach in China. It was a little difficult. Hong Kong was the edge of China, and they’re very atheistic. Believing in God? What’s God? So they started teaching hatha-yoga. There’s a whole scientific system of signing up all these hatha-yoga students and then gradually, a little here, a little there, you make them God conscious. You sneak it in.
There’s the hatha-yoga part of the class, and there’s the mantra-yoga part of the class. It’s part of the yoga system, and lo and behold he’s making all of these Chinese atheists into devotees of the Lord. The same thing is going on in Taiwan. I remember our Romapada Swami was there the last time with Tamal Krishna Goswami, two years ago in Mayapura, at this time when a huge number of Taiwanese devotees had come to the Mayapura Festival. They were all so sweet in their mood of loving exchange, and it was all because they’d been caught up in the tidal wave of Lord Caitanya’s mercy by the expert preaching of Tamal Krishna Goswami.
This is a very good strategy of attracting people who are not spiritually inclined, who think that “I am my body, and I want a better body, so I’m gonna do yoga.” You just have to say, this is very good, now we will teach you how to achieve the perfection of yoga practice. Now here’s you hatha-yoga and at the end we will teach you a little higher level of mantra-yoga which will make the hatha-yoga perfect. Prabhupada says that any yoga system to reach perfection has to be overcoated with bhakti. Any system, there’s jnana-yoga, karma-yoga and system becomes perfected when it’s overcoated with bhakti. Of course the prasadam is the easy way, “Yoga Food”. They get the yoga food, and then the seed of love of God is planted there. It is a very nice system here. We’ll read from the purport:
“Pure devotees, whose characteristics are mentioned here, engage themselves fully in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. Their minds cannot be diverted from the lotus feet of Krishna. Their talks are solely on the transcendental subjects. The symptoms of the pure devotees are described in this verse specifically. Devotees of the Supreme Lord are twenty-four hours daily engaged in glorifying the qualities and pastimes of the Supreme Lord. Their hearts and souls are constantly submerged in Krishna, and they take pleasure in discussing Him with other devotees.”
How do you like this word, “submerged” in Krishna? That implies that Krishna is like a body of water in one sense. You can just dive into Krishna. It’s an interesting simile of being submerged. Prabhupada didn’t say submerged in Krishna consciousness. He says submerged in Krishna. It’s not in a mayavadi sense of merging into Krishna obviously, but submerged in Krishna means Krishna consciousness. To say it in this way means that Krishna and Krishna consciousness are non-different. When you are Krishna conscious, you are directly in contact with Krishna. That’s the nice thing about it. It’s not that “I’ll practice Krishna consciousness now so that later when I go back to Godhead, I can be with Krishna.” If you absorb yourself in Krishna consciousness now, then you are right now directly submerged in Krishna. You are directly in contact with Krishna, right here, right now. Wouldn’t that be really great if we could just meet Krishna right now? If He just walked in the door, we could offer our obeisances. If He came here and sat down and said “I’m so happy you’re chanting My names.” Wouldn’t that be wonderful? We can actually, but we have to be pure. Prabhupada encouraged me in one letter. He said “Now, you just qualify yourself to see Krishna, face to face.” I really felt blessed by that instruction, because that is possible.
I used to write Prabhupada all these questions. In one letter I wrote so many questions he had somebody else answer it. (laughter) As a young brahmacari I wanted to know about this and that, a big long list of answers. So Satsvarupa Maharaja answered in very nicely in six type-written pages, single spaced. My next letter to Prabhupada didn’t have so many questions, just two or three. He understood that I had a lot of questions and he wanted to help me to get my answers. He told in one very nice letter, “You simply engage yourself 24 hours a day in Krishna’s service, fully absorbed in Krishna consciousness, and Krishna will personally come and answer all of your questions.” I don’t think that I’m purely absorbed yet because it hasn’t happened yet, but I’m just praying for that day when Krishna will come and personally say “Sankarshan das, this is the answer.” Until that time, I hear Krishna through reading Prabhupada’s books, I hear Krishna by talking to you all, hearing your realizations, I hear Krishna through you, by hearing Prabhupada’s tapes, and in so many different ways. But I’m just waiting for that day when Krishna will come personally, because quite frankly, I think we can all agree that it’s bewildering sometimes to practice Krishna consciousness. We’ve been caught up in the cycle of birth and death for countless lifetimes. Have you ever tried to count how many lifetimes you’ve been in this material world before this birth? It’s inconceivable. How long have we been suffering? These minds are dragging us through so many anxieties, material attachments, and material frustrations. It’s pretty bad, but if we can seriously take up Krishna consciousness now, in this one lifetime completely finish all anxieties and be totally happy.
Just look at our Sridhara Maharaja. I was just on the phone just now, a couple of hours ago with our Tattvavada prabhu. He called from India. He wanted to associate with me, somehow or other. He was saying that it would be very nice to glorify our Sridhara Maharaja. I had a lot of association with him. He was actually such a great devotee of the Lord. This is a person I never saw morose in any time any place or any circumstance. Even when he was dying, he was never morose.
Actually, I have on the desktop of my laptop computer, from just a few days before he passed away from his body, a picture where he was lying there on his deathbed with a big smile. I just keep looking at that picture. How can you feel morose? We may feel morose about my situation, I’ve got this problem. I’ve got that problem. Here’s somebody dying from liver cancer! Which of us can say that our situation is that difficult right now? Who among us can say “Prabhu! I have liver cancer, I’m going to die in a week!” Which of us can say we have a situation that disturbing to the mind? None of us can say that. So we can take an example from Sridhara Swami, so wonderful.
I was telling Tattvavada prabhu that one of the nicest things was the 1996 Prabhupada Centenial Ratha-yatra down 5th Avenue in New York City. I wasn’t one of his close close friends, we had some association. Sometimes I communicate with him, but we never had that much association, but here I’m just walking down 5th avenue in the middle of the ratha-yatra, the police are over here blocking off the streets, there’s thousands of devotees, all of a sudden Sridhara Maharaja comes up, hugs me and spins me around like a dancing couple. I’d never been hugged like that in my whole life and I probably never will be again. Sridhara Maharaja was very unique. He just swept me off my feet. Here I am being twirled around in the middle of 5th Avenue in the ratha-yatra festival by this jolly sannyasi. This was his mood. He was always in the mood of service, trying to enliven the devotees. Because he was always thinking of how to make the other devotees happy, he never had any anxiety even if he was dying of terminal cancer. He was blessing us from his deathbed. Showing us, I’m blissful and you can also be blissful in all circumstances.
He was such a wit. I remember he said that everyone else went to India fat, and came back skinny, I went to India skinny and came back fat. (laughter) He was always a poetic wit. He said it’s so easy to put it on, so hard to take it off. He was trying to lose weight, but finally, he did at the end when his body became sick, we would have preferred him to remain big and plump and still be here with us. He had wonderful association with Prabhupada. Sometimes he was the temple president in Calcutta in the early days. Generally, the devotees would like to sit around and just soak up the nectar of being with Prabhupada and certainly, if Prabhupada was here in Helsinki right now, we would want to do the same thing, but he was in the mood that “Prabhupada wants us to make more life members.” Others would be sitting around and he would go out and do the preaching. That sort of sacrifice makes one very very dear to the spiritual master.
To be with the spiritual master, that’s very enlivening thing, but to go out and have to deal with the karmis, trying to engage them in Krishna’s service, you could say that’s an austerity. He was going out because he knew Prabhupada wanted more life members to be made. While other devotees were sitting there drinking the nectar, he was out making life members. SO this was a nice quality. Of course, some nights he kicked himself for that, because once in L.A. he was leading up a book distribution party in California. In those days, nobody memorized verses. Now all the preachers come through and quote slokas. mat-citta mat-gata-prana. But in the early days of ISKCON nobody recited verses except Prabhupada. No one got the idea that we can also learn verses and recite them, but you know that verse:
tvam nah sandarsito dhatra
“We think that we have met Your Goodness by the will of providence, just so that we may accept you as captain of the ship for those who desire to cross the difficult ocean of Kali, which deteriorates all the good qualities of a human being.”
It’s a verse that one can recite to one’s guru, so he trained up all the brahmacaris. His whole party came in and in unison they all chanted it for Prabhupada was very happy. Then Prabhupada said would you like to take lunch with me? Can you imagine what an opportunity it is to take lunch with Prabhupada? He said “Oh no Prabhupada, we want to go out and distribute your books.” For the rest of his life he kicked himself for that stupid mistake because they could have taken lunch and then gone out on book distribution! But they said “No Prabhupada, we’ll just go out and distribute your books.”
He was a very great saint, Sridhara Swami. I remember after being a brahmacari for many years, I took marriage with this nice devotee here Visnupriya devi dasi. Actually, Tamal Krishna Maharaja arranged the marriage. So, I had to arrange as a householder to make some money, so I went to some computer school, learned some computer programming, and when Sridhara Swami heard that I was a computer programmer, he got excited. “What a great thing! Sankarshan das, You’re a computer programmer?” He got very happy, excited and enlivened to encourage me. His quality was that he could encourage anyone.
One of my e-students Madan Rao, a somewhat handicapped boy in Bombay, he gave his memory to me also of Sridhara Swami. I sent out to all my students some memories of Sridhara Swami, so he also had memories, so he shared some of his memories with me. In their first meeting Sridhara Maharaja told him he should chant 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra because it will free him of all anxiety. The second time he met, all he did was hugged him.
These are the kinds of devotees that make this movement great, devotees like Sridhara Swami. We should try to be like that. Always try to give joy and happiness to the other devotees because, if we do that, then we will never feel anxiety in our hearts. We’ll always be blissful. This is the real secret of success in Krishna consciousness, just try to give happiness by lovingly serving the devotees.
We will open it up now if there are any questions.
Q1: What to do if the other devotees don’t want to talk about Krishna?
SDA: That’s a problem sometimes. The devotees are gossiping, this or that. IF you bring up a topic about Krishna, they may not pay attention. You have to bring the topic in such a nice way to capture their attention. Whatever they’re talking about you enter into the conversation with them. Just come down into their conversation with them, and then elevate it to Krishna consciousness. This is an art, you can practice this art. It may take some time. A devotee of the Lord can take any topic and can find a way to connect it with Krishna. Whatever they’re talking about, you talk about that with them. Then, see how you can turn the topic towards Krishna. They’re talking about something. You talk about that thing with them.
Become one with them in that conversation, and then you elevate it to Krishna. That’s one way you can do it. Instead of saying “Oh, this is Maya! You’re not talking about Krishna.” You can do that. “You’re in Maya, prabhu! You’re not talking about Krishna!” In Texas, there’s the football team, the Dallas Cowboys, so if a brahmacari walks into the brahmacari asrama and two brahmacaries are talking about the Dallas Cowboys, what do you do? You can say “Oh, you’re talking about the Dallas Cowboys, very nice. Just see how much they love the name Cowboys here in Texas! But who was that original Cowboy?” Or, if you go home to visit your mother and father, they’re not going to talk about Krishna. You enter into their conversation and find a way to elevate it. In this way, always be a transcendental topic thief. Just like Krishna’s a butter thief, we can go into a conversation, steal the topic away and bring it to Krishna. Be like a topic thief. You can enter into any topic, and then you steal that away and give to Krishna.
Q2: What if they accuse you of pretending to be a pure devotee of Krishna?
SDA: You have to learn the art of how to approach the devotees in a very humble way. You can say “You are a very advanced in Krishna consciousness, and I am a new devotee. Please give me your mercy, and tell me about Krishna, because I am just struggling with my mind. You kindly enlighten me. You are an older devotee. You must have so many realizations because you’ve been practicing for a long time. ” You just beg for their mercy. Come crawling at their feet so they will enlighten you. “I’m just a new devotee. I just joined the asrama, I don’t know very much about Krishna, but you’re very advanced so you kindly enlighten me.” That humility is good. We have to learn that mood of humility. Isn’t that the statement of Caitanya Mahaprabhu?
trnad api su-nicena
“One who thinks himself lower than the straw in the street, who is more tolerant than a tree, and who does not expect personal honor yet is always prepared to give all respect to others without expecting any respect for oneself, in such a state of mind, one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.”
In such a state of mind one can blissfully engage in krsna-katha with the devotees 24 hours a day. Just say “I’m a new devotee. I’m not very advanced. I’m struggling with my mind. It’s turning this way and that. But you’re an older fixed up devotee, so kindly bless me with your mercy and tell me what you’ve realized about Krishna.” Beg the mercy of the devotees. If you humbly approach, the devotees tendency to be kind and loving will come bursting out of their hearts and shower you with mercy.
VPM: Sometimes the neophyte devotees approach the senior devotees in a different manner as if they know better. They forget about the etiquette.
SDA: The etiquette is very important. Visnupriya Mataji’s point is very very important. there are vaisnava etiquettes in how we approach the devotees. There are three different levels, you can say. There are devotees who are more advanced than ourselves. If someone is more advanced than us, then we should welcome their association. We should serve them, and we should beg their mercy to please elevate us. If someone is on an equal level, who joined the movement around the same time, we have equal realization, then we become very good friends. If someone is not as advanced as you, they don’t know anything at all about Krishna, some new person, then you be very kind to them, you preach to them. We follow those etiquettes. We serve those who are more advanced, we are very eager to hear and learn from them. On the same level we become friends. To the less advanced, we give our kindness to them, and if you don’t know , or you can’t tell the difference, then just assume you’re in the lowest position. Then you’ll be safe.
Just assume that everyone is higher than you. What did Prabhupada tell us to call each other? Prabhu. What does prabhu mean? Prabhupada says it means higher than me. The etiquette is to treat all the other devotees as higher than me. You’re higher than me. You’re higher than me. Always have that mood. We approach the other devotee, “You’re higher than me.” Prabhupada said in Vrindavana, that the spiritual master considers his disciples to be his spiritual masters, because he has to serve them by guiding them how to go back to Krishna. Since even the spiritual master considers everyone to be his master, then what should we think? Prabhupada looked at all of us, practically right off the street as his masters, and genuinely felt that way towards us. He told us in Vrindavana, it was amazing. It’s in the Nectar of Devotion series. You can hear it yourselves on the tapes. So if Prabhupada himself felt that we are his masters, how should we feel about all the other devotees? We should feel that every devotee is my prabhu, my master, and put ourselves in the humble servant’s mood in relation to them.
Any more questions?
Is what I’m saying alright? Am I speaking correctly according to vaisnava-siddhanta? I’m just a servant, so I’m making sure about what I’m speaking. You’re all learned in philosophy. Is everything correct according to Prabhupada’s teachings?
Who has read Prabhupada’s books here? Let’s see a show of hands. Am I saying everything correctly according to the books as far as what you’ve read. See, I want to make sure that maya hasn’t stolen my mind away. I’m checked by my own audience. The spiritual master is not independent. He is duty bound simply to repeat what is coming down from the previous acaryas. I have to always watch myself to make sure that what is coming out of the mouth is parampara coming from Prabhupada.
Q3: When I try to progress in my life, is it right to compare myself with others, or is it totally my own thing?
SDA: Comparing with others is very good. There’s a saying that no man is an island. No woman is an island. We are meant to be in a family of devotees. We should always see what we can learn from seeing the qualities of devotees. The association of devotees is a goldmine. Every devotee has nice qualities. Absolutely every devotee, otherwise they wouldn’t be a devotee. They may have some qualities that I don’t have. We should see every devotee and think, “What wonderful qualities does this devotee have that I don’t have?” Every devotee practically is a worshipable deity. They’re representative of Krishna. Every devotee we should see what wonderful qualities are there.
You may ask, “How can I do that?” Prabhupada said that we can even learn a lesson from the dog. If I can learn a lesson from a dog, certainly you are all much more exalted than dogs. Prabhupada said one can learn a lesson from a dog, how to be faithful to the master. You can even study a dog’s psychology and learn from that dog. So, what to speak of the devotees? They are like gods because they represent Krishna, demigods. The word demigod refers to controllers of the universe, but it also refers to devotees in general. So, certainly if we can learn a lesson from a dog, we can always see what wonderful qualities the devotees have that I can learn from.
Now that doesn’t mean that if the devotee has a bad quality, we should learn from that. We have to discriminate. This is an important thing; that the power of discrimination is there. Prabhupada says that every devotee has a combination of good qualities and bad qualities, but a vaisnava is one who just sees the good in that person. He’s like a honeybee. The fly, what does he go after? If there’s some sore on your body, he’ll go for the sore. We are meant to be like honeybees. If we are advancing nicely in this philosophy of Krishna consciousness, we will be able to see what is the good quality and the bad quality in the other devotees, but we will want to appreciate their good side. We will want to always see the good side, appreciate that, encourage that and try to learn from those good qualities. We can feel that I’m not a very advanced person by comparing ourselves with other devotees who are more advanced, and other devotees are more advanced.
In the material world, the psychologists may say “That’s not good. You’ll get an inferiority complex.” Isn’t it so? But actually, we encourage an inferiority complex, because actually, Christ himself, in the Bible, says “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” If you can feel yourself lowly on the basis of Krishna conscious knowledge, then you’ll become a very highly elevated devotee of the Lord. Those who are most advanced in Krishna consciousness, they are most humble. They can see their abominable nature the best. They have the best understanding of how wretched and abominable they are. Those are the most advanced devotees. We should not feel bad to feel that I’m an abominable wretch. The more we can actually feel how abominable I am, the more we become elevated in Krishna consciousness. But that doesn’t meant that we cry “Oh I’m an abominable wretch…” No. Prabhupada said “I act like a king because nobody can defeat me.”
For ourselves we feel very lowly, and unworthy of any mercy from anybody. We feel only deserve to be kicked, but because we are acting on behalf of Krishna, we are acting on behalf of our spiritual master, we are acting on behalf of Srila Prabhupada, we are acting on behalf of the greatest knowledge, the Supreme Person, because we are not acting on our own account, we are acting for the pleasure of Krishna, for the pleasure of our spiritual master, for the pleasure of Srila Prabhupada, and because of that we act like kings. We can speak very authoritatively, we can act authoritatively, just like yesterday during the class, I spoke very authoritatively. We have nothing to be shy about when we present this wisdom, this philosophy of Krishna consciousness. We are presenting that knowledge which will save the whole world from the suffering condition. So, we are not shy when it comes to presenting this philosophy.
If someone wants to glorify us, Prabhupada was not eager to be glorified. It was his duty to accept worship as a spiritual master, but sometimes, if we were going “Jaya Prabhupada!” He would say “Stop it. Chant Hare Krishna.” Actually, Prabhupada didn’t want so much of Jaya Prabhupada, he stopped them in Vrindavana. Chant Hare Krishna. The spiritual master does accept worship, that’s his duty to train the disciples to glorify Krishna and Krishna’s representative, but the spiritual master feels embarrassed and awkward being glorified. He feels “I’m just a dog. I’m just worthy of being kicked.” That’s how the spiritual master actually feels. But in spite of that, he acts very boldly and powerfully to give guidance and example to everyone for how to become Krishna consciousness. So, anyway it’s good to compare and see how others are better than you, so you can advance in Krishna consciousness.
More questions, or is the question, “When is prasadam?”
Q4: On one hand you have to not be morose, be enthusiastic, on the other you must be very humble. It must be quite a difficult balance.
SDA: In the material world, we see that people who are humble are depressed, and the people who are puffed up appear very jolly. Someone is very aggressive, pushing themselves forward in the mode of passion, and they appear to be very jolly. They’re smiling, laughing and boisterous etc. In Krishna consciousness, it’s just the opposite. In Krishna consciousness we actually see that sort of aggressive boisterous mentality is actually a sort of fever. It’s a facade. Inside the heart, they’re actually suffering. But, as we quoted a moment ago, one who is always offering respect to others without expecting respect for their selves, they can remain always immersed in Krishna consciousness 24 hours a day. It is a fact that it’s difficult in the beginning, because it’s a major transition from the material mentality.
How do you make that transition? That’s why we require older advanced association of persons who’ve already made that transition. We need to take shelter of them. That’s why we need a spiritual master. That’s why we need the association of advanced devotees. These are people who’ve already made that transition. They’ve been able to put themselves in a humble state of mind and function ecstatically in that mood. They can give very sound decisive direction to those who are trying to advance themselves to that mood. The key is association will help bring you through that transition. Prayer is also very good. Pray to Krishna. Pray to guru, to help me make this transition to transcendental existence.
Thank you all very much. You’ve just been a wonderful group of people to be here with tonight. You’ve certainly made my day by your association.
Srila Prabhupada ki Jaya!
Devotee: His Grace Sankarshan Prabhu ki Jaya!
Transcribed by His Grace Jagannatha Dasa