Pure Devotional Services -Part 2
by His Grace Sriman Sankarshan Das Adhikari
So now we will begin part 2 of the Uttama Bhakti Seminar, and to receive the auspicious blessing of the great personalities of Lord and the acaryas, we will beg their mercy.
vande 'ham sri-guroh sri-yuta-pada-kamalam sri-gurun vaisnavams ca
So what is the prime necessity? We may think that money is the prime necessity or food, clothing, shelter. We may think that these are the primary necessities and of course they are required. We require a healthy life, there is no doubt, but these are secondary necessities. The primary necessity in this human life is how to get out of this sinking ship. How can I be rescued from this sinking ship of material existence? The ship is sinking, so we may have very nice facilities on the ship, but it is a sinking ship. So what is the most important thing if you are on a sinking ship? The most important think if you are on a ship, the most important thing is to know where the lifeboat is. I may have a first class cabin or I may have a third class cabin. That is not very important when the ship is sinking. The most important thing is that I have a lifeboat. That I have a lifeboat, that is the important thing. So we are very fortunate that by the mercy of the great mahajanas,
mahajano yena gatah sa panthah
We are very, very fortunate that by the mercy of these great mahatmas we have gotten a lifeboat to take us out of this disastrous situation, and that life boat, yes of course, is the subject matter of this course: pure devotional service, uttama bhakti.
Will mixed bhakti do? I want to do a little bhakti. I will protect myself from so much papa [sin] if I will do some bhakti. But if is not pure bhakti, I remain on the sinking ship. If I actually want to be completely on the safe side beyond all of the miseries of this material existence then I must come to the platform of pure bhakti, suddha bhakti.
If there is any desire for material sense gratification left in the heart of a devotee, Krishna is very kind, “You have some material desire - alright you can fulfill it.” He will let us take birth again. So my question is this. Is there anything in this material world which is worth coming back again to do, besides preaching of course? Preaching is worth it. Some devotee preachers they want to take birth after birth until the whole world can become Krishna conscious, “because I find preaching to be so sublime.” They don’t mind taking birth again as long as they keep preaching to save the fallen souls of this age. If you come back, that means you come back as a pure devotee, that is a different thing. To enter the world like a pure devotee that is different. Like Srila Prabhupada or Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. To come to this world as a pure devotee means you haven’t really come to this world. They are pure in this world. That is not us.
The problem is that we are attached to sense enjoyment. This is the problem we have. So we have to then cultivate pure bhakti, that “I have no desire except to please Krishna. Now I have so many desires to please my senses, to please the senses of my family members and my friends etc. “ But one has to awaken the understanding that “This desire for sense enjoyment is killing me. It is killing me, it is my enemy.” If I want to relish the unadulterated happiness in pure Krishna consciousness, I have to become completely free from even the slightest tinge of a desire to material sense gratification extended or concentrated. Concentrated means my own senses, my own tongue, my own genitals etc. Extended means the senses of my family members. I want them to be gratified. That is also a desire for sense gratification because I am taking them to be an extension of myself. “I want to see my son become a great enjoyer of this world.” In this way, it is the same disease.
We have to be completely, totally cleansed of all types of material desires. You may say. “Well, how will I survive if I give up all material desires? How will I eat, how will I pay my rent, how will I even make it in this city of Delhi, if I give up all material desires. Material desires are what impel me to get up on Monday morning and go to my office and earn my livelihood. If I give up material desires, who will pay the rent?” But do you think giving up material desires means to become inactive person, not to do anything? No. That is Mayavada philosophy: that spiritual life means you don’t say anything, you don’t hear anything, you don’t touch anything, you don’t smell anything... neti, neti, neti, neti, that is not spiritual life. They are not actually on the spiritual platform, these Mayavadis, because they want to become God. It is simply another form of material desire, this Mayavada philosophy. They tried to make it in the athletic world as the quickest star but they couldn’t make it there. They tried to make in Bollywood as an actor, but they couldn’t make it there. They tried to make in academia by becoming a PhD and they couldn’t make it there. They tried to make it in the business world by becoming an entrepreneur, but they couldn’t make it there. But now, by the Mayavada philosophy that “I am God,” they finally made it. They finally became successful. It is simply another way to get ahead in the material world. So that is Mayavada philosophy. “Now I am one up on everybody. I am God.” So their denial of material existence is artificial. Therefore Bhagavatam says (SB 10.2.32)
aruhya krcchrena param padam tatah
Even though, after going undergoing great penances and austerities they achieved the impersonal Brahman… and Prabhupada actually says that Mahesha Dhama between Hari Dhama and the material world. Hari Dhama is spiritual. That Mahesha Dhama is where the impersonalists go, and even the Buddhists also, when they attain Nirvana. They go there to Mahesha Dhama. It is an intermediary place between the spiritual and material worlds. But the Bhagavatam says even if you achieve that intermediary position on the boundary of spiritual and material world.
patanty adho ‘nadrta-yusmad-anghrayah
They fall back again in to material sense gratification. Why? Because they have no regard for the lotus feet of the Lord. In other words, if you don’t love Krishna, you are going to come back to loving maya once again. You cannot live without love. Every living entity requires love. Love is the nature of the living entity; he is a loving animal, the living entity. Love is a concomitant factor of existence. If you don’t love God, ‘G-O-D’, then you must love dog, ‘D-O-G’. And we have seen it. I have seen a gentleman on Juhu beach, a wealthy business magnate walking his dogs. So in this material world, especially in the western countries, it is a common thing. Everyone walks their dogs and they have to carry a little container to pick up the dogs’ stool. They call it, even in some places, they commercially market it as a ‘Super Duper Pooper Scooper’ to pick up the stool in it. So they are walking dogs and they are giving some service. What we do, we walk God on Rathayatra. We take God on a walk; we take God on a walk. So they are walking dog and we are walking God. What is the difference? The difference is that they go to the dogs: they become dog in their next birth. And we become associates of God in our next birth, if we follow this pathway very carefully. We will be the associates of God in our next lifetime.
So it is not impossible, it is not unworkable; it is not beyond our means. We simply have to sincerely execute it. That’s all… To the best of your ability strive for pure devotion. If you are sincere in your attempt, Krishna will help you. If He see that you are sincerely striving to achieve pure devotional service, He will give all help, how to make it. He will give all help. Do you think Krishna doesn’t care? Do you think Krishna doesn’t know? Do you think Krishna doesn’t see? Krishna has been sitting in your heart as the Supersoul accompanying you through 8,400,000 species again and again and again and again, just waiting for that moment when you will decide, “I would like to give up this rotation of birth and death. I would like to come back to Krishna.” So you think when you make that decision, He is going to say, “Well, you are on your own.” No. Now He is going to give all help. He will give you a guru. He will give you devotee association. He will give you so many wonderful books. He will give you prasadam. He will give you the Holy Name, He will give you Deity worship. He will give you so many facilities to help you and He will personally help you in every way possible sitting within your heart. He will personally help you in every way possible to fully awaken your dormant love of God because that’s what He wants. And do you think He is lacking in any power? You think God is lacking in any power? No. He has unlimited power, but one thing He will not do, He is not going to tamper with your free will. Do you know why? Some people say, “Well, if God really loves us then why doesn’t He just take us back to Godhead by force, get us out of this suffering immediately? If He really loves us, certainly He will pull us out immediately and take us back to His kingdom. Why is He leaving us here in the cycle of birth and death?” Well, if He just pulls you back to Godhead, what are you? You are a prisoner.
There was a famous story in the news. One man in Europe, he kidnapped a young girl, he put her in his basement for something like 8 years. Something like that. She was a prisoner. She was always looking for a chance to escape. One day she made the escape, and then he committed suicide because he knew he will be decimated by legal authorities for what he had done. So he forced her, “You come and live in my basement.” That is not love. So God does not force us to live in His kingdom. He gives us the free will, “You can love Me or you can leave Me. You have a free will to do whatever you want.”
“My dear child, My dear daughter, and My dear son, you are welcome to stay with Me or if you don’t want to stay, you can leave. The door is open for you, if you want to go away. You can stay or you can leave.” So it is very rare that somebody will leave but because there is an unlimited number of living entities, an infinite number of living entities, and because the independence is given to all of that infinite number of living entities, there is certainly the possibility. If there is an infinite number of living entities then some of them will misuse their independence. If it is not possible that means they really don’t have independence. If you have independence, then it is possible you can misuse it. It has to be possible. If it is not possible, you don’t have independence. So there is the possibility even though it is certainly a very remote possibility. How many mathematics major do we have here? Any math majors, anyone majored in mathematics? Raise your hand if you are a mathematics major. Here is one. Ok. What is the smallest possible number? One over infinity, isn’t it? The biggest number is infinity, but one over infinity that is the smallest possible number. So if you take that, you take one over infinity and multiply it by the infinite number of living entities in the spiritual sky. What do you get? That equals infinity. If my mathematics is correct, then the smallest possible fraction of infinity is still infinity. Therefore even though it is an absolutely, totally, completely infinitesimal percentage of living entities who would misuse their independence, if you apply that against the infinite number of living entities in the spiritual world, then you get an infinite number of living entities who misuse their independence and all I can say is “Welcome to the material world.” Here we are, an infinite number of living entities who are an infinitesimal fraction of the infinite number of living entity in the spiritual sky and here we are, trying to be God in Delhi, of all places. We have failed miserably in our attempt to be God. We can’t even control our bowel movements. When nature calls, I must run to the toilet room. What kind of God are we?
So instead of following the mayavada marga and foolishly thinking, “I am God but I just forgot about it,” we should take the intelligent pathway of the paramahamsas. The Mayavadis say that, because I know that when I was a young college kid in the US back in mid 60s, I was looking for enlightenment. “What is the purpose of existence?” I wanted to know. In our college, we were studying all the great thinkers of the western world and not one of them gave an answer that made any sense. But then I heard some friends tell me about the yogis and the sages and the mystics and rishis in India. They had something really different. So I went to the bookstore. I was looking for books on this Indian philosophy. Of course in those days all you had was mayavadi garbage. That’s all you had. There was one western author named Allen Watts who had dabbled in Vedanta and he was putting mayavadi philosophy in a way that the westerners could easily appreciate it. He wrote a book called “The Book” that was the title of the book, “The Book”. The subtitle was “On the taboo against knowing who you are.” And in this book he proceeded to tell us that, “Actually you are God, but right now you are simply playing ‘hide and go seek’ with yourself. You have forgotten. Now you have to come out of this hiding and be God again. That’s all. Spiritual enlightenment means stop hiding from being who you really are, come out and be God again.” So I tried it for a few days and I was all pretty blissed out (laugh) I was going on a cloud of euphoria. “Yes, I am God.” But the nature of the material world, the way that it is, my little bubble got popped very quickly when things didn’t go my way. After all it is supposed to go my way because I am God and they didn’t go my way. Then obviously there was something wrong. So in this way I studied so many of these books on Eastern philosophy by these Mayavadis and I got cheated again and again and again.
One yogi came to town, a swami. He said, “I am God. You are God. We are all God.” But sometime in the fall of December, 1968, one friend of mine came by my apartment one evening and taught me this Hare Krishna mantra:
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare,
And I discovered one Bhagavad-gita in the library. It wasn’t Prabhupada’s Gita but the verse I read was one of those that was translated correctly and it made sense to me.
patram pushpam phalam toyam
“If you offer to Me with love and devotion a leaf, flower, fruit and water I will accept it.”
So I started doing that. I got a picture of Radha Govinda. You know that beautiful classical painting of Radha and Govinda? I made an altar in my apartment. I had not even met the devotees yet. I figured I must have been a devotee in my previous life in India. But I didn’t quite make it all the way and somehow I took birth in the West to help Prabhupada. Krishna sent me to America to help Prabhupada. So I got this poster of Radha and Govinda; my friend had told me the mantra. I was chanting the mantra, the Hare Krishna mantra in great delight. I took up the vegetarian diet. I was offering all my vegetarian food to the poster of Radha Govinda and feeling very happy and then I had the idea of having career in the material world which is what I was doing at that time, as a student going to school. I said, ‘No way. I can’t handle this.” So I said, “I am just going to India and become a sadhu, one of those wandering mendicants in India, living in holy places. Whatever I can live on, just completely renouncing everything: money, home, everything. Just give it all up and just live as a mendicant in India." That was my determination. So I was heading to India, by way of New York, wanting to catch a boat to India. But on the way, I had a startling realization, it was this: I denied and I denied until I could deny no longer and then I had to start accepting. I was on this neti, neti program. Denying everything: deny, deny, deny, deny… There is nothing left to deny. What is left after you have denied everything? What is the one thing left to deny after you have denied everything? That is that denial itself now must be denied. So that was my realization. I denied and I denied: neti, neti, neti until I can neti, neti no longer. Now there is only one thing left: neti neti. I've got to give up neti, neti to neti, neti. Then what can you do? Then I said, “Now I have to accept something, and that’s not of this world. I now have to accept something that is transcendental." So then the voice inside said, “You should not go to India, you should go to San Francisco.” So I turned around in the opposite direction: instead of East Coast to the West Coast. I went to San Francisco, Haight Ashbury, the Golden Gate Park, and the famous neighborhood in the counterculture era. And there they were Harinama parties:
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare,
Of course it took me a little time to come all the way because I had been trained in Mayavadi philosophy by all the books I had read. They invited me to their temple. This was the second temple of ISKCON: 518 Fredric Street in San Francisco. The 2nd temple of ISKCON; the first one was on the 26 2nd Ave. in NY City; the 2nd one at 518 Fredric St. in San Francisco. So they invited me to come back to their temple and I did. But remember I was a mayavadi. I still had the Mayavadi idea that I was God (Laugh) so I was chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna. One brahmacarini, she said, “Oh, you are chanting Hare Krishna so nicely!” I was laughing inside, “Oh, if she only knew that I am Krishna! Ha, ha, ha.” So I wasn’t quite ready to surrender yet. But then this sannyasi who is staying now at a Punjabi bhakti monk temple, he was formerly Makanlal das brahmachari, now his name is Bhakti Madhurya Govinda Maharaja. He was a young brahmacari preaching in Berkeley at that time, right across the Bay from San Francisco. So he started preaching to me and he invited me to come back to the temple at 518 Fredric Street to spend the night there. Actually I spend the night in the temple. In those day, on a peg in the temple room, there was a japa mala for the guests. So they said, “Now you take these beads and chant one round.” And I did that and that was an amazing experience. I chanted the Hare Krishna mantra 108 times around the beads and I really felt something special. In those days I was a songwriter trying to spread the counterculture of revolution through music. But that night after chanting on the beads I wrote a song. “Do you think I would waste my time playing around in misery when I am so close to nirvana?” I had a feeling after chanting that one round on the japa mala that very soon my spiritual enlightenment would come. I was no longer interested in playing in this rather miserable material existence. I just knew that very soon I would be enlightened with spiritual knowledge. So it did happen gradually.
Krishna kicked me in so many ways and I was just begging the Lord to please guide me how to become His perfect servant. And then He sent this very wonderful disciple of Srila Prabhupada, His Holiness Vishnujana Swami to the town where I was living in, Austin, Texas. And he convinced me to become a disciple of Srila Prabhupada. So it is a wonderful process, this Krishna consciousness process. We should not be misguided by this Mayavadi philosophy because it leads nowhere. If you are God then why can’t you change the world? Why can’t you stop the suffering? Why can’t you stop your own tooth ache if you are God? The fact is that we are not God but we are servants of God. So don’t try to be God. Just try to become the perfect servant of God. That is the point of our seminar, pure devotional service, because if you become the pure devotee of God then you are coming back to your natural constitutional position. Just like a fish… if you take him out of the water on to the land and you try to make him happy on the land, is that possible? Can that fish become happy on the land? You may give him a nice facility, give him a nice car, give him a iPhone, give him so many facilities, “My dear fish, you look so unhappy. Here, I will give you a girlfriend. My dear fish why are so miserable?” Well, if you just throw him back in to the water then all his problems are finished immediately. So what is the water? Pure devotional service, uttama bhakti. That is the water for the living entity. So all we have to do to be happy is to come back to pure devotional service.
One gentleman who just got recently initiated, I spoke to him this afternoon. He is thinking now that I am a devotee how can I move within my circle of associates. It is very difficult. They expect me to be one way but as a devotee I am supposed to be different way. So I am finding difficulty now that I am a devotee. What does that mean? That means he is in the mood of being a follower. But is devotee supposed to be a follower? What does Krishna say in the Bhagavad-gita Chapter 3 Text 21?
Yad yad acharati sreshtas tat tad evetaro janah
Whatever a great man does the common people follow in his foot steps. What ever standard he sets by exemplary acts all the world pursues.
So take that to your work, to your office. Whatever a devotee in the office does that will inspire everybody else to do the same thing. Whatever standard the devotee sets, all the corporate workers see that’s how they should be. We should be such an ideal example that people will follow our example in our workplace or wherever we go.
I remember my grandmother. This is an example: she was a very pious lady, my grandmother. My paternal grandmother was a very pious lady and her father or grandfather, he was a veteran of the civil war in the US, a very long time ago; we’re talking back in the 1800s. But she told me a story: he was running a business at the time and, you know, the average workers they were talking so many dirty jokes, so many garbage things. His name was Captain Jones. Whenever Captain Jones would come, they would immediately stop their dirty talks. They wouldn’t dare talk that way in front of him. Because he had some pious qualities, and they respected him, even though they were not on that level, they respected him for that and they would not talk any dirty jokes when he was there. So in this way even if we can't make them devotees, we should have such a saintly aura, such a saintly demeanor that they respect us even if they cannot do themselves. They will respect us for that. Now reform them; that will help them to move to the higher lever of consciousness. They wouldn’t dare do that in your presence. It is not that we have to follow them. We should be such examples, such acaryas of the pure bhakti mood that wherever we go, people will respect that and they will try to honor us by acting in a more proper way. So in this way, instead of being the follower, wherever we go with our family members, mundane family members or mundane job, instead of being the follower, we should be the leader. Pure devotional service means you become the leader by manifesting pure attitude of bhakti in your thoughts, your words, your deeds. Now you are showing leadership to the whole world. You don’t have to follow them. You don’t have to please them. All you have to do is please your spiritual master and Krishna. That’s all you have to do; you don’t have to do anything else. Please your spiritual master and please Krishna and let everybody else learn how to please you. Of course the devotee is very kind to everyone; he is very friendly to everyone.
Dhiradhira jana priyo…
The six goswamis were dear to everybody, the pious and the impious. In fact there were some householders living there at that time, and they use to come to Sanatana Goswami with their marital problems. He would act as a marriage counselor. The husband would give his side of the story, the wife would give her side of the story and Sanatana Goswami would give his judgment, and they both accepted it. So the devotee acts as a friend to everyone. These people were not devotees but they respected Sanatana Goswami and they took guidance from Sanatana Goswami.
So in this way someone who is manifesting pure bhakti becomes respected as a leader wherever he may be, in the office, in family life, wherever he is. So we have to learn how to become pure devotees and take this leadership role in the world. That is our duty. This world is lacking spiritual leadership and we are the ones who are supposed to become trained by Prabhupada and his followers on how to become spiritual leaders. So the whole society can be elevated gradually, gradually, gradually from tama guna to raja guna, from raja guna to sattva guna and from to sattva guna to pure devotional service. So this understanding of what is pure devotional service and how to it put into practice is the most important knowledge. There is no knowledge like this. This is the essence of knowledge, the quintessence of knowledge. So I am very happy that all of you have come to attend this seminar. I hope you will gain a very deep comprehension of this subject matter and that going forward from this seminar your life will become very much transformed, that now you become fully serious about being absorbed in the mood of pure bhakti 24 hours a day at home, at work, in the commute, in the temple, wherever you may be. This is my ardent hope that each and every one of you may become very much serious about being in the mood of pure devotional service wherever you may be.
So yesterday we studied the first two items, the first two characteristics. The first one was 'pure devotional service brings immediate relief from all kinds of material distress'. Number two: 'pure devotional service is the beginning of all auspiciousness'. Now we have four more to go. The third one is 'pure devotional service automatically puts one in transcendental pleasure'. Now one thing that we should understand when we read the books by His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Tridandi Goswami Maharaja Prabhupada. Every word, each and every single word conveys deep meaning. So don’t just kind of glance over the word and not pay attention to it. We could just say, “Well, pure devotional puts one in to transcendental pleasure.” Wait a minute. We skipped a word; pure devotional service automatically puts one into transcendental pleasure. So why does Prabhupada say automatically? This has to be understood very carefully. This word automatically could be omitted from the sentence; it would still be grammatically complete sentence. This is an adverb which describes the word ‘puts’: ‘automatically puts’. So why does Prabhupada say ‘automatically”? We use that word in different ways, automatic. What experience do we have of automatic things? Your alarm clock for example, you set your alarm clock at a certain time then at that time it automatically goes off. Did you wake up and then turn on the alarm? No. It went off automatically because you set the alarm night before at 3 am, alright 3.30 am, 4.00 o’clock at the latest. Anyway, that’s automatic. It springs forth on its own. So the question then is how is it then that pure devotional service automatically puts one in to transcendental pleasure. In other words you don’t have to try to be happy. All you have to do is practice pure devotional service and then automatically you will be in transcendental bliss. What does Prabhupada say? Chant and be happy, not that you chant, “Okay I have chanted, now that I have chanted, I have to try to be happy.” No. If you chant, you are automatically happy; that’s the point. Just do devotional service. Don’t think, "I have to try to be happy, got to be happy." No. Just try to make Krishna happy by doing bhakti, then you will automatically be happy. In the material world people are trying to be happy. They are working very hard to try to be happy and they are failing miserably in that. But in pure devotional service, in Krishna consciousness, we just focus on pleasing Krishna and low and behold happiness comes automatically. As you walk down the street, do you have to endeavor to keep your shadow follow behind you? Has anyone of you ever struggled to keep your shadow with you, that it doesn’t get lost somewhere down the road? No. when you walk down the road your shadow automatically follows behind you. So when you execute pure devotional service then automatically you are going to be in bliss. You will be blissed out. You wake up in the morning and you think, “Wow! Another day to cultivate Krishna consciousness! How sweet this is! I am really loving this life of Krishna consciousness. Krishna has blessed me with another day to glorify Him, to remember Him, to pray to him, to serve Him. How sweet and kind my Lord is! He is giving me another day in which I can remember Him!” So this is when you are in the mood of pure devotional service, everyday is the greatest adventure. Every moment is the sweetest most sublime experience you can ever imagine, every moment. So, if I am not in the mood of pure devotional service, well I am thinking, “I will do some bhakti but I want to get some material benefits from the bhakti.” Who are you cheating? Who are you cheating? You are cheating yourself out of transcendental happiness.
So instead of trying to use bhakti to extract sense gratification for yourself, kick out all desires of sense enjoyment, and beg Krishna, “My dear Lord, please bless me that I can serve you simply to please You and for no other purpose, no other purpose, simply to please You. Whether I suffer or I am happy, it doesn’t matter.” What did Lord Caitanya say? “You can handle me roughly by your embrace, or you can leave me broken-hearted by not being present before me, my dear Lord. You can do whatever you want with me but one thing and one thing only is sure, and that is that You are my worshipable Lord without any condition.” That is pure bhakti. So how do we develop that mood? It’s not difficult, simply pray, simply recite Lord Caitanya’s prayer and try to take that mood in your heart. I mean if you are an actor in a drama... "Okay, now you are going to play Lord Caitanya in this play and we want you to say this verse as if you really mean it." And you rehearse and try to put yourself in that mood. Actors do that. They try to take up the mood of the character they are playing. So even if you are doing like that, “Well, it’s not really me. I am not really like that. I have so many material desires.” But just go ahead and do it and try to be in that mood and you know what will happen? That mood will actually come. You may say, “But Sankarshan Prabhu, that is artificial.” I will give you an example in this connection.
My Godbrother Gargamuni Prabhu was a young devotee in NY city at the temple at 26 2nd avenue temple. At that time Prabhupada was called ‘Swamiji’. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings Swamiji would come down from his apartment behind the courtyard to that little tiny storefront. How many of you have seen that storefront? Anyone been there? It is so small you wouldn’t believe that this movement started in that little storefront. We got it back again now. We just leased it. I think we just leased it. There is no kitchen even there. There is a toilet and a sink and a little tiny narrow room and that’s it. There are no living quarters. The devotees would sleep there on the floor and they would go to Prabhupda’s apartment to take a shower, in the guru’s quarters they would take a shower. In the Founder-Acarya’s quarters they would take their shower. (Laughter) Prabhupada was so kind.
So anyway, on Monday and Wednesday and Friday nights, Swamiji would come down to give the Bhagavad-gita lecture. So one night in the question and answer session Gargamuni asked Srila prabhupada or Swamiji.
He said, “Swamiji, when you enter the room everyone bows down but I do not bow down because it doesn’t feel it is natural for me, Swamiji. Is that all right?”
Prabhupada said, “No. You must bow down. By doing so, the natural feeling will come.”
So you may say, “I don’t feel like praying, ‘My dear Lord, you can handle me roughly by your embrace, you can leave me broken-hearted by not being present before me. You are my worshipable Lord unconditionally.’ That’s not me. I don’t really feel that way. How could I possibly pray that way even when it is not really me? I am just thinking, ‘Krishna, help me. I need more money. I need a beautiful wife. I need a husband. I need this, give me, give me, give me.’ How can I pray like that? ‘You can do whatever you want. You can torture me, You can do whatever You want to do with me, it doesn’t matter, I just want to be your unconditional servant.’ How could I possibly pray that way? That is artificial for me.” But no, do it. Embrace that mood. “Ok. I am diving into that mood of Siksastakam. I am going to forget my normal consciousness, my karmic baggage I carry around everyday, all my mundane consciousness. I am going to put it on the shelf over there, put it in the garbage can over there.” That is a better example. “And I am just going to pray like a pure devotee. I am going to pray as if I am in a mood of pure devotion. ‘My dear Lord you can do whatever you want with me but just let me be your unconditional servant.” What does Kunti Devi say in this connection?
vipadah santu tah sasvat
She is praying to Krishna, “My dear Lord, please give me more and more difficulties because when I am feeling difficulty, I have no choice but to take shelter of You and when I am taking shelter of You, then I am seeing You within my heart of hearts. When I am seeing You, I am no longer seeing birth and death.” Just see the mood of Kunti. She says, “I want to be in difficulty. Please don’t make my life easy.” She had been in a forest for 13 years, in exile with her sons. For a woman who grew up in a palace, can you imagine this? With man-eating raksasas, living under a tree, no nice comfortable bed, what horrible austerities she went through with her sons. And now the whole thing is over. They defeated the Kurus. They are back in the palace at Hastinapura. Everything is comfortable and cozy and now Krishna is leaving. He is going back to Dvaraka, and she is realizing that the forest was better than this palace. “The forest was better because then I had to constantly call out to Krishna within my heart. Now everything is so comfortable and smooth and easy. So Krishna, please ,You give me more difficulty now, so I will always keep you within my heart of hearts and never have to see birth and death. Please make my life difficult.” So these great acaryas, they are teaching us what is the mood of pure devotion. We should learn from these great acharyas and embrace that mood. Even though it seems artificial to put ourselves into that mood, we should pray in that way intensely, and you know what will happen? As Prabhupada told Gargamuni, “even if it is artificial for you, do it anyway and the natural feeling will come.”
You are, right now, already a pure devotee. You are already a pure devotee, right now. But it is simply covered by so many layers of lust, anger, greed, madness, illusion and envy. So by cultivating the mood of pure bhakti, what you are doing is you are burning off your coverings. You have the gold. You have one million crores worth of gold buried in your backyard. Here is the shovel, start digging:
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare,
You are digging deep through all those dirt coverings to reconnect with your original pure devotional nature. That is why every one of you must chant at least 16 rounds on those japa beads, because that keeps you on the progressive march. If you don’t chant your 16 rounds you are not moving forward. But when you chant at least 16 rounds on the japa mala beads everyday, then you are moving forward step by step. Pade pade… until you reach your original natural state of consciousness, pure devotional service: uttama bhakti. So whatever happiness you feel, whatever transcendental pleasure you feel will be proportionate to how much you have embraced the mood of pure bhakti. So how blissful do you want to be? So you want to be a little bit blissful, little bit more blissful or do you want to be completely blissed out 24 hours a day? It is your choice. You have the power to be completely blissful, partially blissful or totally miserable; it’s up to you. It doesn’t depend on your external situations: your family; your country; your health; your wealth. It has nothing to do with anything external. It is simply your own management. It is called consciousness management. How are you managing your consciousness? Consciousness management. So if you manage your consciousness properly you are going to be blissed out like anything at every minute.
brahma saukyam tv anantam
You will be tasting ever increasing spiritual happiness day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year. You will be feeling so much happiness you can’t even keep it to yourself. You just have to share it with the whole world, that you will feel so much happiness. That is called preaching.
So now we will move on to the fourth point: 'pure devotional service is rarely achieved'. One may think, “Well, I am just an ordinary person. If it is rarely achieved, I guess there is no hope for me. After all, doesn’t Krishna say that in Bhagavad-gita?
Isn’t that the verse in chapter 7, text number 3? “Out of thousand among men one may endeavor for perfection and out of thousand who have achieved perfection hardly even one knows me in truth.”
So you say, “Well, I am sorry, Gurudeva, the odds are really stacked against me. What can I do? I know you gave me diksha, but you know it is very rarely achieved. So you know only one out of million people really gets it. What you expect me to do? I am an ordinary Noidavasi. What can I do?”
No. Don’t think like that, because even though it is rarely achieved and that is certainly a fact, it is available for anybody who wants it.
As we explained yesterday that wonderful verse from Caitanya Caritamrta, Madhya Lila Ch 8 txt 70, Kirtyatam yadi… I forget the verse in Bengali, but in English it means that pure devotional service cannot be had even by executing pious activities for hundreds and millions of years or even for crores of years, even for crores of lifetimes. If you go on doing pious activities, those pious activities will not give you pure devotional service. Krishna das Kaviraja says it can only be had in one way and that is tatra yapi laulyam, only by intense greed to have it.
So even though it is rarely achieved you can get it if you are intensely greedy to get it. So are you intensely greedy for pure devotional service? Or is it so-so? When we join ISKCON, we think, “Well, what’s my goal in ISKCON? Well, I want to move up the ladder to become temple president, GBC, sannyasi, regional secretary, and this way I will advance in ISKCON. Get my brahmana status, give some lectures, and be recognized as a preacher in ISKCON. In this way I will advance.” But is that real advancement? No. Many devotees moved up the ladder and became big gurus and GBCs and now they don’t even chant Hare Krishna. So the real advancement in Krishna consciousness for an ISKCON devotee is to develop an intense greed for bhakti, pure bhakti. How greedy are you for pure bhakti? That is the real measure of advancement in Krishna consciousness. Do you have an intense greed for suddha bhakti? That’s what you have to see. Krishna das Kaviraja says, “If it is available somewhere you must purchase it without delay.” So if you are intensely greedy for it then when you hear it is available here, you run to the market place. What is that market place? Does someone know that market place that started in Surabhi Kunja? Who knows that market place? It was started in Surabhi Kunja. Does anyone know? What is that market place started in Surabhi kunja? Nama Hatta. Bhaktivinoda Thakura sings about it: boro sukher kabol gay. Gaura Nitay.
So if you have that intense greed for pure devotional service, there is a place you can go and purchase it and that is Nama Hatta started by Lord Nityananda in that place known as Surabhi Kunja. How many of you have been to Surabhi Kunja? Have any of you seen? You… It is so nice. It’s somebody’s backyard I think right now. There is nothing there. When I went there just some grass and a cow eating that grass, so I went in there and I just rolled in that grass. I rolled over and over and over. I said, “I want to get this mercy of Lord Nityananda. I just rolled and rolled in that grass. Yes, that is Surabhi Kunja.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura very wonderfully explains this Nama Hatta. He says, “I will take you there to that Nama Hatta. I will take you there and introduce you to Lord Nityananda. You will get your desire fulfilled and I will also get the commission.” When you act as an agent of Lord Nityananda and you bring people to Nama Hatta to get the mercy of Lord Nityananda, He also gives you mercy too, as confirmed by Krishna in Bhagavad-gita 18.68
Ya idam paramam guhyam
In this way, Krishna says,
“One who explains these supreme secrets to the devotee, for him pure devotional service is guaranteed and at the end he comes back to Me.”
na ca tasman manusyesu
“There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be servant more dear.” Bhagavad-gita 18.69
So this confirms what Bhaktivinoda Thakura is saying that you will get a commission. So whatever you have realized about Krishna, if you share that knowledge, that bliss, if you share it with others then you will get more and more and more and more and more. So this is one of the secrets, even though it is rarely achieved, if you become the messenger of Lord Nityananda, a messenger of Srila Prabhupada, a messenger of your spiritual master who is a representative of Lord Nityananda, if you will become a messenger on behalf of this pure bhakti process, guess what? Krishna says, “For you, pure devotional service is guaranteed.” So even though it is rarely achieved, if you will propagate pure devotional service to everybody that you possibly can, you’re going to achieve it, guaranteed. So you don’t have to worry that its rarely achieved, it’s guaranteed if you become the propagator of pure devotional service. You are guaranteed to get it by the special mercy of Krishna.
Now the fifth item is ‘those in pure devotional service deride even the conception of liberation.’ This is another one of those sentences. Like the third one, it has some interesting words in there. We could take them out of the sentence and it would still make lot of sense. We could just say those in pure devotional service deride liberation. Certainly they do, impersonal liberation. But why does it say that they deride even the conception of liberation? Well, that means that this impersonal liberation, merging into Brahman, is such a poisonous, disastrous, unthinkably hellish nightmare, that even the idea of it is repugnant to the Vaishnava. Even the concept, he finds repugnant. So this is an important quality. So the question then is, why? I mean all over India, people say “Yes, mukti, mukti, give me mukti, mukti. I want mukti. I want nirvana.” The Buddhist says, “I want nirvana." The Hindus want moksha. "What’s wrong with that," someone may ask. So many gurus teach it, “Yes, I will give you moksha. You will give me money, I will give you a mantra and you get moksha.”(Laugh). So what’s wrong with it? If so many people are going after it? Why are the devotees finding it repugnant? Well, would you like to live in a world without love? They say that love makes the world go around. It’s a fact. Love does make the world go around. Would you be happy in the world without love? Prabhupada says, “Love means two: Krishna and you”. So impersonal liberation means you kill Krishna. There is no more Krishna. We call them mayavadi because they say that the form of Krishna is maya, the personality of Krishna is maya. There is nothing but Brahman, so the Krishna manifestation is maya. Therefore we call them mayavadi. They don’t call themselves Mayavadi. We call them mayavadi because they deny the form and the personality of Krishna, saying it is maya.
So if there is no God and there is no you… Well, they say there is God but God for them is the impersonal Brahman. If all there is one lump, then you do not exist, the Personality of Godhead does not exist, then where is the scope for bhakti? Where is the scope for rasa? Rasa means loving exchanges between two persons. So if there is no Personality of Godhead, then there can be no rasa, there can be no taste.
If you go to a restaurant, they say, “We want to give you a very tasty dinner tonight, sir.” Then they hand you an empty platter.
Would you think, “Oh! Very good! I am mayavadi. I like this very much, this is a very nice dinner you have given me, an empty plate. Thank you very much”?
You would say, “No! You have cheated me. I want rasa. I want taste. Give me some variety of taste.”
You say, “I ordered the full thali, so I can get variety of taste. You have given me an empty plate. What is this nonsense? I want rasa. Give me variety of taste. I ordered a full thali!”
So the mayavadi, he wants an empty thali with no taste. What is this nonsense? No taste. So therefore, this is repugnant to a Vaishnava.
"When I take prasadam, I want a full thali, not an empty thali." That is Vaishnavism.
And now the final quality. By the way, as I said yesterday, if you have any more questions write them down. I have some left from yesterday but we will have an hour-long question-and-answer session. So if you have any questions, write them down and bring them up to me. Put them here and we will keep the wind from blowing them away.
So the sixth one is… This is the most wonderful of all actually… ‘Pure devotional service is the only means to attract Krishna.’ And then Prabhupada gives a little explanation here, a couple of sentences. He says, “Krishna is all attractive, but pure devotional service attracts even Him”. This means that pure devotional service is even transcendentally stronger than Krishna Himself because it is Krishna’s internal potency. So pure devotional service is the only means to attract Krishna. You can’t buy Him with money. He has unlimited wealth. Even if you give Him all the wealth that is available on this planet Earth, it is nothing. Even if you have got all the wealth possessed by Kuvera, the treasurer of the demigods, it will still not impress Krishna. It is nothing. Even one particle of dust of Goloka Dhama is more valuable than millions and billions of Kuvera’s treasuries. It is nothing. You can’t attract Krishna by money.
There is a funny story in this connection. There was one man in America... it is a make-believe story but it’s a good story, it makes a good point. He was very sinful man and he was always afraid of going to hell. So one Sunday he went to church and he put $5 in the collection plate and he said, “Now I am safe. I won’t go to hell because I put $5 in the collection plate.”
So at the time of death, the agents came. They were pulling him to hell.
He said, “Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute! You can’t take me to hell. I gave $5 in the collection plate in the church; you have to take me to heaven.”
They said, “Well, we don’t know. They took him to the gate of heaven.
They said, “You wait here, we will go and ask God what to do.”
So the agents went in and they came out with a five dollar bill in the hand.
The man asked, “What did He say? What did He say?”
He said, “Give him his five dollars back and tell him to go to hell” (laughter).
You can’t buy God with money. Do you understand? He is not purchased by money. He was thinking that he can purchase God’s favor by his five dollars in the collection. But it didn’t work.
“Give him his five dollar back and tell him to go to hell.”
So if you want to purchase Krishna, He is purchasable, but not by money, not by power, not by good looks, not by flattery. He is purchased by bhakti and bhakti alone. Then you can purchase God. Krishna will become your personal property if you give yourself to Krishna unconditionally. So can you do it? Is it possible? Yes, you can do it. You can give yourself to Krishna unconditionally. You simply have to have the intense greed to achieve that state of consciousness. That’s all you have to do, and when you find it is available somewhere, run there and purchase it. What is the purchasing price? Intense greed. So if you can develop this mood of pure devotional service, Krishna will become your eternal associate, you will associate with Krishna constantly through all of eternity.
We were studying in our Sunday Feast Lecture at the East of Kailash Temple one purport which is in chapter 8, text number 15 of Bhagavad-gita, and Prabhupada explains there that one who is a mahatma hears the messages of the realized souls and they develop this state of pure Krishna consciousness by hearing from the realized souls, and then Prabhupada explains that they have no desire to go on enjoying any material thing nor do they even have a desire to enjoy on any spiritual planet, to go any spiritual planet. Prabhupada says that they desire only Krishna and Krishna’s association. Now what does that mean? Prabhupada says that they don’t desire to go to any spiritual planet but they desire Krishna’s association only. That means you don’t have to go to Goloka Vrindavana to get the association of Krishna. Just as you can associate with Krishna in Goloka if you enter in to the mood of pure bhakti, you can personally directly associate with Krishna right here, right now in this material world if you develop the mood of pure bhakti. So now do you understand why pure bhakti is such a valuable thing? You can directly associate with God at every minute if you take this mood of pure bhakti.
Okay, so now we have about 55 minutes left and I see some questions have come in. Very good. Lets see if we have time for more but we are going to start today with the leftovers from yesterday.
Question 1: What restricts us in India and the world over to follow and recite Krishna’s teachings?
There is no restriction. The only restriction is imaginary restriction. We think, “Well, I cannot be a pure devotee amongst my family members and my associates at work because they will think I am weird.” Well, if you think it’s weird to be a pure devotee, you are wrong. It’s weird not to be a pure devotee. That’s the thing. The person who is not weird, who is not strange, who is not odd, that’s the pure devotee and everybody else is strange, weird and odd. The only thing restricting us is our misconception that being a Hare Krishna is some weird thing, being a pure devotee is something weird. But no. Do you know what a reporter asked Prabhupada at NY city? He said, “Swamiji, why do you ask your followers to play the drums in the streets and dress in such an odd fashion?” In America especially this is very odd thing. Saris and dhotis and shaved heads in America. In India it is getting more and more unusual but still everyone knows it is a traditional Indian thing. In America it’s very odd. So what did Prabhupada say? He said, “This is our method to attract your attention.” He said, “You must think that it is strange or odd because you are materialistic therefore you are thinking that it is strange.” So this idea that what we are doing is strange or weird this is simply a material idea. They are the ones who are acting in a way that is strange and weird and crazy, not us. I fly all over the world on airplanes, I wear dhoti and tilaka. I don’t eat the airplane food. My wife and I, we bring our own prasadam and we eat from the paper bag and we eat better than anybody on the airplane, I guarantee you. We are not weird by bringing a brown paper bag on the airplane. They are weird. They are eating that stupid airplane food. It is not even offered to Krishna. They are the ones who are weird, eating the airplane food. We are the ones who are cool. We eat prasadam. We are the cool people.
Question 2: Why is there imbalance and indiscipline in our society in Kali yuga and when will it be over?
Answer: Well, it is natural that in a hospital there will be some sick people. Isn’t it? Would you expect that everybody in the hospital is going to be healthy? Do we think everybody in the hospital will be healthy? No, it is a hospital. Well, ISKCON is a hospital. So we can expect that there will be some diseased people in this hospital recovering from their diseases. We expect the doctors and nurses to be healthy, but the patients, we expect them to be diseased. So there is always going to be an imbalance in ISKCON because we are always bringing in unbalanced people who are full of material desires and trying to help them. There is always going to be an imbalance in ISKCON. It is a hospital. It is always going to have sick people in the movement. We expect there to be some sick people but we expect the leaders to be healthy, the gurus, sannyasis, temple presidents. The different leaders, we expect them to be healthy like the doctors and nurses. We expect them to be healthy.
Question 3: Where is Goloka Vrndavana? Where is Goloka Dhama?
Answer: It is in the paravyoma spiritual sky. It is not in Noida.
Question 4: If by chance of circumstances we commit vaishnava aparadha how do I beg for forgiveness?
Answer: You beg forgiveness from the devotee you offended. Bow down at his feet and beg for forgiveness.
Question 5: How important is it to chant early in the morning during brahma muhurta for getting pure devotional service and what if my routine does not permit that?
Answer: Well, we have to do the best we can. I can tell you the best you can do. I was a brahmacari for 14 years and brahmacaris have it made. They have an ideal schedule. Get up early have nice brahma muhurta. When you are a householder you have to work a job. You have to plug in to the hours of your boss. It is not an easy thing to do. So after 14 years of brahmacari life, I took a little training in computer programming and I got a job, a computer job. And what were the hours of my new job? I was beginning my householder life. My job went from 11 PM at night to 8 AM in the morning. What kind of morning program are you going to have now?
“Oh my God! What am I going to do? But I have to be, I have a morning program. I have to .. I was .. I don’t know. Krishna what am I going to do because I have to work from 11pm and get off at 8 Am in the morning? My whole brahma – Oh Krishna.”
But you know what happened when I went to work for my boss?
What he said was, “Nobody likes to work the graveyard shift, so you can take an extra long lunch if you want. No problem.”
So there I was. I would take off from work at 4 AM, about ten minutes after four, my lunch break at 4:40 am. I would drive home to the apartment to pick up my wife. We lived ten minutes from the temple, then drive her to the temple, go to mangala arati. And then I would leave her in the temple for the morning program and I would go back after my lunch break at 5.10 or 5.15 or 5.20 am, whatever. I would be back and finish up my work and I would get off at 8 am and I would catch the tail-end of the Bhagavatam. So there I had mangala arati and Bhagavatam, because I had that strong desire. So how strong is your desire to have mangala arati and Bhagavata? If they say that faith can move mountains, how strong is your desire to have a morning program?
You think “Well, I don’t like getting up anyway. Now my excuse of my work doesn’t allow it. Hare Krishna.”
No! You have to have that intense greed in your heart for a nice morning program. If you do, Krishna will facilitate you. I guarantee you. So you are saying your routine does not allow it. Okay. What about your consciousness? Do you have the intense greed for it? And if your desire becomes intense enough, Krishna will reciprocate with you. The key is, what is your desire? What is your heart’s desire? Krishna can immediately pull you out of that situation. I spend 3 years in the corporate world as computer programmer. Then all of a sudden I got an opportunity to get out. We had a Back to Godhead marathon to bring Back to Godhead back in print and my wife and I were going out on the weekends and the evenings. We were doing really well and they had a contest: whoever sells the most BTGs gets a free ticket to Mayapura. So I decided to let my job go. We went to full-time BTG magazine distribution and my wife and I were number 1 and number 2 in the whole world. So we both went to Mayapura that year, then they offered me a job as a sales manager of BTG magazine. So my corporate career ended. I retired from the corporate world. After 14 years as a brahmacari, 3 years in the corporate world as a computer programmer and then went back to full-time preaching again. But I learned some good lessons. It was a good experience for me because many of you will not able to give it up. I did not have any children. That made it easier. But it was a good experience from all different sides: brahmacari life, grihasta life to now vanaprasta life, tasting all the different sides. So the key is whatever situation you are in, it is called ‘make the best use of a bad bargain’. If Krishna sees that you are utilizing every free minute you have in His service, what is He going to do? He is going to give you more free time. That’s what He is going to do. I don’t know about in India but when we were kids in US, we would get an allowance from our dad, a weekly allowance. He would give me one nickel which is 5 cents. That was my weekly allowance, five pennies. In current Indian currencies, what would 5 cents be? Of course it was worth more than now. It would be about… Forty rupees equals one dollar. That’s about 1/8th so it is about 12 paise..Huh? No that’s wrong…Let’s see one rupee is…It’s about one rupee, yeah. I had the math wrong, its about one rupee per week…What can you buy with one rupee? Anyway the point is, if the child would spend his allowance very wisely, then the parent would increase the allowance. If the child abuses his allowance, then the parent would cut back on the allowance. So whatever allowance of free time Krishna is giving you to engage in His service, you show Him your sincerity by not wasting that watching television or doing whatever nonsense. Whatever free time you do have, use that completely for Krishna and you know what will happen? I guarantee that if you do that, Krishna will give you more free time and if you use that more free time to do even more devotion, He will give you more free time. So Krishna put me in this situation where I have nothing to do but serve Him 365 days a year and I have nothing else to do except to be Krishna conscious and spread it and nothing else to do and all my material needs are easily met with no problem by Krishna’s arrangement. So, simply, whatever free time you have, use it completely for Krishna.
Question 6: Is it good to have spiritual envy?
Answer: Prabhupada encouraged me that spiritual envy is good but if you see that somebody else is being recognized more than you are by Krishna, you should try harder to please Krishna, more than they are pleasing Him. Then Krishna will recognize you also. So that is very good. But spiritual envy doesn’t mean you put that person down. In spiritual envy you glorify that person, appreciate and love and worship practically in your heart: “This is a great devotee. I worship him. He is a hero for me. Now let me try harder so I can also become recognized by Krishna.” That envy is spiritual envy.
Question 7: Is it possible to appreciate a devotee’s efforts and have envy toward them at the same time?
Answer: Yes. Spiritual envy is okay. Mundane envy is when you want to put him down. Spiritual envy means you want to glorify. Srila Prabhupada encouraged spiritual envy. Just like there was the competition between Ramesvara and Tamala Krishna Goswami, ‘Who can distribute most books?’ Prabhupada fanned the fire of envy between these two devotees so they would distribute more and more books. So there is nothing wrong with wanting to lead a very nice kirtan, “Let me try harder so I can lead a better kirtan than you.” But that never means that your kirtan… just like Aindra Prabhu, his kirtans are so glorious. So we can appreciate very much his kirtan, and think “Well, let me try to do a nice kirtan also. I wish I could lead kirtan like Aindra can lead kirtan. Let me try harder.” So that is called spiritual envy. There is no harm because in spiritual envy you always appreciate that person. You worship them in your heart.
Question 8: If Krishna is the reservoir of pleasure then why did we come to this material world?
Answer: Prabhupada clearly says it again and again. It’s the misuse of independence. If you are living by the beautiful reservoir why would you want to go off into the desert, with some foolish idea that life in the desert would be more pleasurable than life by the reservoir?
Question 9: Where is the description about the kingdom of God in Goloka given in the Vedas?
Answer: They are given in the Brahma Samhita. Nice descriptions are there. Check the 5th chapter of the Brahma Samhita for the description of the spiritual world and also in the Krishna Book by Srila Prabhupada.
Question 10: By pure devotional service, does one become free from material stress?
Answer: We see that pure devotees like Srila Prabhupada, Haridasa Thakura, Prahlada Maharaja go through so many material distresses. Do you think they were distressed by the material distress? They were transcendentally situated beyond that material distress because they did not identify with their body nor the material mind, intelligence and false ego, even though their body was in distressful position. Because they did not identify with their body, they were not in distress.
Question 11: So could you please explain how to understand these circumstances?
Answer: I just did.
Now here are the new ones.
Question 12: How does a devotee behave in the office? Most of the time people consider the devotee to be abnormal, not talking much, always serious and over and above not even drinking tea or coffee. How does a devotee gain respect among mayavadis because that is also an important for material practical?
Answer: Just outdo them in every way. You can bring prasadam to the office everyday, cookies. They are looking forward for those cookies you bring for everybody. You don’t have to tell them that it is prasadam also, if that’s going to spoil it. You might have some Christians in the office; just tell them cookies. I took some to one gentleman who was a friend of mine. He was a South Indian Christian. I came with some cookies to give them prasadam cookies.
So he asked me, “Is this prasadam?”
I said, “No.”
You can lie for Krishna, and he took the cookies. So you can bring cookies to the office. Make them from the best possible recipe you could make. Everybody will ask, “When are you going to bring those cookies again?” Become a hero in the office. Instead of worrying about being abnormal, you become the super normal. You become the standard of the behavior in the office. Become a hero in your office. You bring them cookies. I always say, “Be the leader.” Don’t be the follower with your head down. You become the leader in your office. You become the most enlivened, most friendly, most compassionate, most expert also in your job. Show that the devotees are most expert. That is one of the 26 qualities of a Vaisnava. He is expert. What did Bhaktivinoda Thakura do in the office with all the other magistrates? They couldn’t believe he was so expert. They would be laboring to write the judgment and he would be done in no time. The Britishers they were karmis. They were not devotees. But they said, “This Bhaktivinoda is the best worker, he is best of all of them.” They gave him a special position. He was in charge of Jagannatha temple. So you be like Bhaktivinoda Thakura, you will be the best, the most expert person in your office. So they appreciate you. When I was working, I took a part-time job after I quit the full-time computer programmer. I took one part-time job for some while to support our preaching effort and I became the award-winning salesman. They gave me special awards for being the top salesman in the company and, of course when I went in to get hired in America, I didn’t wear the tilaka. But after I was working for some time, I said, “What is this coming to work without tilaka?” I always wear tilaka, I don’t go out without tilaka. So one day I said, “Okay. Today I am wearing tilaka to work.” And that day, I sold like anything. My boss came to me with a big smile on his face. He said at the end of the day, “I don’t know what that is on your forehead- but you must wear it everyday from now on.” And there’s a story given by Prabhupada. You all have heard this story but some of you may not have heard the story. There was one Hindu gentleman who owned the factory and so the workers they were all wearing tilaka to work for a Vaisnava owner. They were all wearing tilaka. But one day he sold the business to a Muslim and the Muslim saw the new employees with tilaka.
He said, "Starting from tomorrow nobody is allowed to wear tilaka in this company." That was the new policy. “If you want your job, don’t wear tilaka when you come to work tomorrow.”
But there was one devotee, he said, “I can’t accept this. I wear tilaka. That’s me. Tilaka is me, I am tilaka and I can’t go without tilaka. This is me.”
So he came to work with his tilaka and the boss called the worker and told him, “What is this? I told no tilaka. You are wearing the tilaka. Do you value your job or not?”
He said, “What can I do? This is my culture. I wear tilaka.”
He said, “Well, you can wear it, but nobody else can.”
Be bold, be a Vaisnava wherever you are. Don’t be afraid of being an abnormal. You show what the real standard of human life is. Wherever you go, you be the leader. Bhaktivinoda Thakura didn’t suffer materially. He was rewarded greatly. You know how much the British government valued Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s service? How many of you have been to Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s house at Mayapura? You know that little train track that runs by his house? Why does that train track exist there? Do you know? Why that train runs by Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s house? The British government built that track for Bhaktivinoda Thakura to go to work. That track was built by Britishers specifically for Bhaktivinoda Thakura because they valued him so much as an employee. “We will build a track for you so that you can come to work easily everyday.” So you follow the Bhaktivinoda Thakura marga when you go to work to the office and we will revolutionize this planet.
Question 13: Why is it that we do not feel enthusiastic always to perform devotional service?
Answer: That means you are forgetting. At least for me it means that, and I will tell you why, because I don’t think I have explained this to you before. I have explained it at many temples. I don’t think I have told you before, yesterday. Did I tell you the order Prabhupada gave me? Did I tell you? I didn’t tell you. Okay. Yes, when I got my diksha, Prabhupada was in London and I was in the US, so my beads came by mail and my name came by mail in two separate postings. So I got my beads and I got the name in the letter. And normally you turn your dakshina in after the yajna to your guru maharaja, but guru maharaja Srila Prabhupada was not there. So what will I do? Now I get to write a letter to Prabhupada and put my dakshina in the envelope.
I thought, "this is very nice opportunity."
Being in the association of a very fired-up preacher, His Holiness Visnujana Swami, he was thinking how to spread this movement, I was thinking like that:
“Yes. I must spread this movement.”
So in my letter with my dakshina, I told Srila Prabhupada, “I want to spread this Krishna conscious movement.”
And I got the most wonderful letter back from Prabhupada you could ever imagine. He gave me the amount of checks he had received. He was very businesslike, down to the last penny. He reported back to me the exact amount of all three checks and then he said,
“I can see that you are a very sincere and enthusiastic boy, so eager to spread this Krishna consciousness movement.”
He said - now here is the order he gave me - He said, “Now if you will continue enthusiastically as you are doing, surely Krishna will bless you.”
Prabhupada has given me an order to always be enthusiastic. Well, I can tell you this movement has gone through lots of ups and down over the last 40 years. But Prabhupada’s order was always there and I never lost my enthusiasm because Prabhupada promised me. Srila Prabhupada guaranteed me if I always maintain my enthusiasm that Krishna will always be blessing me at every moment. So therefore I have always maintained my enthusiasm. I have always been fired-up to save the world on the order of Srila Prabhupada because I know that Krishna will shower His blessing on me. So if you are not feeling enthusiastic, just remember that if you will maintain enthusiasm on the instructions of Srila Prabhupada that Krishna will personally bless you at every minute. So if you will always remember this wonderful blessing of Prabhupada and if you maintain your enthusiasm, then Krishna will bless you. You will never forget, you will never give up your enthusiasm. Nothing will ever take it away.
Question 14: Pure devotional service of Krishna is Krishna’s internal potency which is more powerful than Krishna. Kindly explain. Is it powerful like Radharani?
Answer: Yes, pure devotional service means Krishna is the supreme enjoyer. But, pure devotional service, being more powerful than Krishna, means the devotee actually enjoys more than Krishna. This is why the supreme enjoyer is envious of Radharani who is tasting more pleasure than He is tasting. Actually Krishna is amazed, “How is it possible for Radharani, who is my subordinate servant, to be enjoying more than Me?” So Krishna, not to be outdone by Srimati Radharani, says, “I will also become like this beautiful girl Gaurangi. I will be like Her. I will become Gauranga, I will join the bhakta program, bhakta avatara." So Krishna becomes a Hare Krishna. It just shows you how cool it is to be a Hare Krishna. God himself becomes a Hare Krishna, because the internal potency is more powerful than Krishna and to become a pure devotee means to become purely absorbed in the internal potency of Krishna.
Question 15: By praying to Radharani, will it help one to achieve pure devotional service?
Answer: I will give you an inside secret about how Prabhupada told us to pray to Radharani. He told us some mantra. This isn’t widely known in ISKCON but this is an incredible prayer. Now everyone knows that the feminine nature is a soft-hearted nature. Male nature is more hard-hearted. So Krishna is a very big man. It is not easy to approach a big, big powerful man. But the soft nature of Radharani, She is much more approachable. So Prabhupada told us to pray like this.
He said, “My dear mother…” He called her ‘mother’. He called Radharani his mother.
He said this is how we should pray to Radharani: “My dear Mother, please tell about me to your Krishna.”
So what is the idea here? Prabhupada explained, “Pray to Radharani that She would tell Krishna, ‘My dear beloved Krishna: just see this devotee. He is a better devotee than Me.’”
So you can imagine what would be the thought in the mind of Krishna: “A devotee better that Radharani? Let me see that devotee who is better than Radharani.” So just see the kindness of Srimati Radharani. She will recommend to Krishna that you are a better devotee than She is, and when Krishna hears such a recommendation from Srimati Radharani, immediately He will give you His full attention. So in this way, if you pray to your Mother Srimati Radharani, then you will capture Krishna’s full attention and He will bless you.
Question 16: Dear Guruji, Hare Krishna. I cannot keep balance in my life. I am not able to identify myself. I have lost my will power. I am in very miserable condition these days. Please guide me how to identify myself and how to cope with this problem.
Answer: This sincere soul has written me so nicely. She is suffering from an identity crisis, just as Arjuna was suffering from an identity crisis. She is tortured just as Arjuna was tortured. So we have to see how Arjuna was saved from his tortured condition by accepting Krishna as his spiritual master. “The key out of my tortured position is to take someone as my spiritual master and surrender my life fully unto him.” Just as Arjuna did that, this is how we become saved. The spiritual master revives us to our original spiritual identity. He engages us in our natural constitutional position as an eternal servant of Krishna. In this way, by following the Arjuna marga, by fully surrendering unto Krishna or His bonafide representative, we will come out of the identity crisis and our life will become full of bliss.
Question 17: By pure devotional service one becomes free from the material distress. I already read this. To become liberated does it depend on the spiritual master or the disciple?
Answer: Both.That was an easy one. Both. You have to have a spiritual master’s mercy. You can’t do it without his mercy, but you have to take the mercy at the same time. You have to have the spiritual master’s blessing you, but you must also accept that blessing by following his instructions sincerely. That’s how you become liberated.
Question 18: We hear that at ISKCON there is no pure devotee.
Answer: Who said that, there is no pure devotee in ISKCON? This is ritvik. Those ritvik rascal agents of Kali are trying to destroy ISKCON. They are not devotees, the ritvik people. They are posing as devotees but they are actually Kali chelas. They are not devotees.
Prabhupada was asked in San Francisco, “Srila Prabhupada, how many pure devotees are there on this planet?”
Prabhupada said, “How many devotees are there in ISKCON?”
So any ISKCON member who is sincerely following the instructions of Srila Prabhupada, Prabhupada accepts him as a pure devotee. So what can I say about these ritvik people? Simply envious snakes. “No pure devotees.” One of these ritvik people, he was giving a class in Bombay. Somehow they let him on the vyasasana.
I don’t know how that happened but he said, “We should not hear from anybody except from Srila Prabhupada.” Do you know the contradiction? He wants us to hear him telling us that we should only hear from Srila Prabhupada. I must have been sleepy that morning.
If I had been sharp I would have said, “Prabhu, I have a question for you then. Why should we hear from you, Prabhu? Get off the vyasasana. If your philosophy is that we should only hear from Srila Prabhupada, then why should we hear from you?”
Prabhupada told one of his disciples in Los Angeles, “Whether I speak or you speak, it is the same.” So any one who is purely carrying forward this message of Srila Prabhupada, it doesn’t matter: man, woman, brahmacari, grihasta, it doesn’t matter. Whatever position you may be in and if you are sincerely trying to serve Prabhupada’s instructions and carry them forward, you are a pure devotee. But of course, you don’t think you are a pure devotee. But we will see who is a pure devotee.
A pure devotee never thinks, “I am a pure devotee.” He thinks, “I am so contaminated.”
Lord Caitanya said, “I have no love for Krishna. If I had any love for Krishna, I would die immediately in his separation. The fact that I am maintaining my body and soul together proves that I have zero love for Krishna.”
So if Lord Caitanya says like that, what is our position? The pure devotee doesn’t even think that he is a devotee, what to speak of being a pure devotee.
“I am praying that someday I will become a devotee.” That’s the pure devotee’s mood.
What did Prabhupada tell us in Boston? He said, “I am simply praying to Krishna at every minute that I will not fall down.” That’s what Prabhupada told us in Boston.
So the pure devotee doesn’t think, “I am a pure devotee.” No, he is thinking, “I am in a helpless position. At any minute I can be overcome by Maya, so please protect me. Guru Maharaja, please protect me. Srila Prabhupada, please protect me. Krishna.”
That’s the pure devotee. He is constantly praying for help, because he feels helpless in this material world. That’s a pure devotee.
Question 19: Even while performing devotional service to the spiritual master in a devotional mood there are lot of obstacles and hindrances, hence when the service is done to the spiritual master it is not perfect, there are lot of anxieties. How to overcome them?
Answer: Sometimes we see that the devotees become very discouraged, “I tried to serve my Guru Maharaja but I made so many mistakes. Maybe I should just go away. I am such a botheration.” But no, one has to understand that it is a learning process, just like if you are trying to master a musical instrument. Will you play it perfect in the beginning? In the beginning, when you practice the violin, it sounds so horrible. Your family members go like this on your violin playing. But then later on, they will sit around and they will say, “Oh, you play so beautifully.” It takes time to become an expert. So learning how to serve your spiritual master expertly, it will take some time. You have to be enthusiastic to practice as much as possible, because without practicing it, you can never perfect it. So alright, you are not perfect. Be humble then, that’s all, but practice as much as you can. Take every available opportunity to serve your spiritual master. When Prabhupada was here, we were all running at every possible chance we got to serve him. And it was tough when there were 300-400 devotees all wanting to serve him. It’s very difficult to even do a little tiny service for Prabhupada, because he has his full-time servants, who were doing all… recovering anything…and you think, “What can I do? Maybe I can open the door for him when he comes in.” I shut the door for him one time in Vrindavana. He got in the car either I opened or shut it. I forget which one it was. A little service I got to do. So just take every opportunity you can and by doing more and more service. And whenever the correction comes, “Oh, I am blessed. Guru Maharaja has chastised me for my mistakes. How fortunate I am! I have been corrected. This is a great fortune for me. Now I can become more expert.”
Question 20: What are the symptoms of a pure devotee?
Answer: He cannot tolerate to see the suffering of the conditioned souls in this world; therefore he fully dedicates himself to awakening the dormant Krishna consciousness within the hearts of all.
Question 21: How do we know that we are advancing in Krishna Consciousness? Is there a scale to measure it?
Answer: Yes, there is. This is given in Srimad Bhagavatam.
bhakti pareshanu viraktir…
There are three things which will indicate that you are awakening your Krishna Consciousness. Primero: bhakti, feelings of love for the Lord or attraction to the Lord. The second item: pareshanu bhava, one becomes conscious of Krishna everywhere within everything, more and more conscious of Krishna within everything: within the light of the sun, within the light of the moon, taste of the water, within every experience. One feels more and more connected with Krishna. That is another symptom. And the third item: viraktir, one becomes detached from all material things and sense gratification. Then the Bhagavatam says, “For one who is engaged in pure devotional service, devotion, direct experience of the Lord, and detachment from all material things occur simultaneously just as nourishment, eradication of hunger, and satisfaction occur increasingly with each bite for one who is engaged in the activity known as eating.” Now how many of you here in the room tonight eat? Do you all eat? OK, very good. So how do you know your belly is getting filled up? You get nourished, you get eradication of hunger, and you get satisfaction. Does somebody have to tell you that your belly is full? That knowledge comes to you, first, second pretty good, third little bit, fourth no. Does somebody have to tell you that you’re full? No, you know you are full. You have a scale inside your consciousness that tells you when you are filled up. So in the same way there is a scale that tells you that you are getting your bhakti awakened, and that is how you feel more and more attracted to Krishna when you hear His name. You become ecstatic to hear the name Krishna. You go, “Oh wow! Krishna, so sweet a vibration. Krishna.” So the indicators are there. They are there. You have them within you. You just have to start observing your own consciousness honestly. It will be scary in the beginning. You see all the dirt that is in there, but do it. Be willing to see all the dirt. “I don’t want to clean house because it is so dirty.” But, hey, you have to start somewhere. Get in there and clean the house of your consciousness and it will pay off gradually. You will become completely clear and you will see Krishna everywhere.
Question 22: What exactly is vaisnava aparadha? Sometimes we may wrongly think and fear some practical act will offend a Vaisnava, so please elaborate what is not vaisnava aparadha as we may mistake it as vaisnava aparadha?
Answer: Vaisnava aparadha means to act in a hostile manner towards a devotee. Hostile. Enmity. As long as you are acting in a spirit of love, that is not vaisnava aparadha. It doesn’t mean that if you correct a Vaisnava you committed an offense. it is a duty of a senior Vaisnava to correct a junior Vaisnava, for example. So the real line between what is and what is not vaisnava aparadha is that are you acting in hostility or you are acting in love. That’s where you draw the line. What does a devotee do if he is the target of another devotee’s envy or politics? He thinks, “Well, it is not really envy or politics. It is my own past envy and politics and this devotee is been engaged by Krishna simply to deliver my karma to me. It is not him, it is me. I am getting my own reaction from my past envy and politics. It is not this devotee’s fault. It is my own fault. He is simply the delivery man for my karma. He is the DHL man for my karma. That’s it, so I do not blame him.”
Question 23: Could you please tell us again the prayer that Prabhupada asked Srimati Radharani?
Answer: Those who want it, write it down carefully: “My dear Mother Radharani, please tell about me to your Krishna.”
Question 24: Life becomes soothing once you come to Krishna consciousness especially if one is a bit serious. So the rigor towards following the process also gets diluted. How can one still maintain the greed toward pure devotional service?
Answer: Kunti’s prayer is a good example. It became a big soothing [life] in a palace in Hastinapura. So she was praying for difficulties, “Please do not make it too comfortable for me, my Lord.” You are becoming so comfortable in all your material arrangements now, for serving Krishna. “I got a nice facility. I got a nice apartment. I got money. I have a nice faithful wife. I have loyal children. I have nice prestige in the society. They gave me a position in the movement, and I got everything nice and comfortable.” So you get carried away by all the external things. Now the intensity of your pure devotion is going away. How do you keep that intensity? It is very good that this person is recognizing this. In the beginning when you don’t have any facility, you have no money, you have no facility, you have no recognition in the society and you’re just struggling to be Krishna consciousness, and do little preaching. Then by that preaching all of a sudden things become transformed. Just like in my life, I was an unheard of devotee, practically no facilities, and now here I am traveling all over the world, regularly touring the world, disciples all over the world, so many facilities offered to me. So I could just…How do I not get carried away and forget about the urgency of taking shelter of Krishna’s name? Whoever wrote this, it’s a wonderful thing. I appreciate this very much. It is a warning to me also. I have so much facility also now as a spiritual master. So much facility I have. My disciples take so much good care of me. Whatever I need, they give me. If I need money, they give me whatever I need to do my preaching. They give me everything. I have no needs. I am given all honors and respect. So much facility I am given, so it is dangerous. It is a dangerous position. By your service you have been given good facility and now if you forget and just become comfortable from that facility, it’s a very dangerous position. So therefore what does Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura say? That every morning when you get up you beat your mind with shoes one hundred times, and before taking rest at night you beat it with a broomstick. You have to always remember that Krishna can…Whatever facility I have now to make my life smooth and easy, Krishna can take it away in a second. When I am flying in those airplanes, I am thinking, “Yeah, this airplane can crash and it could all be over. I can be dead before the flight is finished.” I try to remind myself, “Don’t get carried away by all these arrangements that have been made for your preaching, thinking, ‘Ah, yes. Now I can enjoy this world.’ Don’t be carried away, Sankarshan Das. At Any minute the whole thing can be finished.” So it is very important that we realize that at any minute our life can be finished. Can anybody in this room guarantee that they will live for the next 24 hours? No one can guarantee. I see so many of my Godbrothers now dying, leaving the world. That makes me think it is very strong warning for me. Many, many Godbrothers now have departed. There will be a day when there will be only one Prabhupada disciple left on this planet. Can you imagine? And then that last disciple of Prabhupada will also leave. Then there will be not one disciple of Prabhupada anywhere in this world. Grand-disciples will be the only ones, and the great-grand-disciples, great-great-grand-disciples. So we must always remember. Prabhupada was always very aware. He was one time flying on the airplane somewhere in South Africa, or Mauritius, somewhere on that side, and his disciple Pusta Krishna Prabhu, he was flying with Prabhupada. So Prabhupada was in the first class section and he was in the economy section. The disciple was in the economy section. So they hit an air pocket when there is no air, it is like vacuum, and the plane went… (Whirling sound). That’s why they say to always keep your seatbelt buckled. If you hit a pocket like that and you are not buckled, you are going to ram your head on the ceiling of the airplane. So it is always good to keep that seatbelt buckled in case that happens. And it happens sometimes…you can get a concussion, smash your head on the ceiling of the airplane if you are not buckled in, if it happens. So it happened, Prabhupada was buckled in, so he didn’t - he was saved. The plane was just like… (Whirling sound). Pusta Krishna Prabhu said, “It was like your stomach was in your head. It was such a heavy thing. The physical sensation was so scary that we can all die, so we didn’t know. It might just keep falling and smash into the earth. But finally it caught some air and it was able to pick up again and be ok.” So everybody in the whole airplane was terrified including Pusta Krishna Prabhu. So after it was over, he went up to see how Prabhupada was doing.
He said, “Prabhupada are you ok?”
Prabhupada was sitting there chanting Hare Krishna like nothing had happened.
Prabhupada said, "We can die at any time."
Prabhupada was saying, “I am prepared to die at any time, no big deal. I am simply in Krishna’s hands. Whenever He wants to take me, that’s fine. Mare Krishna rakhe ke, rakhe Krishna mare ke. If Krishna wants to kill me, it’s alright. Nothing can save me. Why worry? Let Him take me.”
So if one always remember that, “I am on the verge of death at every minute,” then one will not be carried away with whatever material comforts one has been given, that’s it. One will always keep himself fixed, transfixed in the mood of pure devotional service that, “My dear Lord, I am your eternal servant. Somehow I have fallen into this ocean of birth and death. Please pick me up from this ocean of birth and death and place me as one of the atoms at Your lotus feet.”
So this now concludes our seminar on uttama bhakti. I thank you very much for your attending the seminar and I pray that Krishna will bless all of you with pure C.
Hare Krishna, Srila Prabhupada, ki jaya!