Srimad Bhagavatam 1.5.17
om namo bhagavate vasudevaya
Srimad Bhagavatam, First Canto, 5th chapter, "Narada's instructions on Srimad Bhagavatam" Text number 17.
tyaktva sva-dharmam caranmbujam harer
tyaktva — having forsaken; sva-dharmam — one’s own occupational engagement; carana-ambujam — the lotus feet; hareh — of Hari (the Lord); bhajan — in the course of devotional service; apakvah — immature; atha — for the matter of; patet — falls down; tatah — from that place; yadi — if; yatra — whereupon; kva — what sort of; va — or (used sarcastically); abhadram — unfavorable; abhut — shall happen; amusya — of him; kim — nothing; kah va arthah — what interest; aptah — obtained; abhajatam — of the non-devotee; sva-dharmatah — being engaged in occupational service.
One who has forsaken his material occupations to engage in the devotional service of the Lord may sometimes fall down while in an immature stage, yet there is no danger of his being unsuccessful. On the other hand, a non-devotee, though fully engaged in occupational duties, does not gain anything.
Sankarshan das Adhikari:
om ajñana-timirandhasya jñananjana-salakaya
sri-caitanya-mano-bhishtam sthapitam yena bhu-tale
We are feeling most fortunate to be here in your company today. When I joined this movement in 1971, it was still relatively small. At that time ISKCON only owned one building and that was in Los Angeles. And there was one temple in Canada and some temples around the U.S. and that was about it. I never dreamed that someday I would be giving a Bhagavatam class in Lithuania. I had never even heard of Lithuania. And now I am feeling so fortunate. This is my second visit here, I came to Kaunas in April, and my wife Vishnupriya devi and I have found so many nice devotees here in Lithuania. It is just so sweet and nice to be here with all of you.
So we are blessed by this wonderful opportunity today to discuss these sublime instructions given by Sri Narada Muni. He is talking about the situation of somebody who falls down from Krishna consciousness. This is very practical because many people come to this movement and do fall down. They don't make it. So what is the situation for them? Narada Muni is saying, there is no danger of his being unsuccessful. The whole idea is that any endeavor we make to become Krishna conscious is our eternal asset. That is a great treasure which is permanently stored in your eternal bank account. Anything material that we may gain is only temporary. It is achieved as a result of good karma. And that good karma has a beginning and it has an end. When we enjoy the results of our previous good karma then we are exhausting our good karma. Just like someone may work very, very hard to accumulate some money, and then they take vacation. They call it holiday or they call it vacation. They can take a vacation trip to some foreign place and spend all their money. But every day as they are enjoying their vacation trip, they are diminishing their supply of money. Therefore they have to go back to their job and work again for a long time. So we may enjoy the results of past pious activities but we cannot enjoy them forever. On the other hand if one takes to the transcendental life of Krishna consciousness, then we have another type of happiness, brahma saukhyam tv anantam. We have that happiness which goes on increasing unlimitedly forever. So in this material world we have maya sukhaya. We have illusory happiness. For some time you can dream that you are enjoying with your money, with your fame, with your sex life. You can dream that you are enjoying. But in due course of time the bubble will pop and you will be dragged down to a very miserable, horrible situation. So why should we waste our energy going out after a sort of happiness which is only a dream? Why not go for that happiness which is eternal, which is full of knowledge? That is Krishna consciousness.
So the most important question is how can we get free from this tendency towards material happiness and become a 100% inclined towards our spiritual happiness? That is the most important thing. Because even though we have been studying the philosophy of Krishna consciousness, many of us for many, many years, the tendency for material happiness is still sitting in the heart. We know that Krishna consciousness is superior but yet we still feel the pull of the material energy. So how do we kick off that material energy and get completely free from it. This is the most important thing to understand because if we can master this art then we will achieve the full blessings of immortality. So what is the technique? How do we actually get to that position? Of course, that is called ahaituki bhakti, unalloyed devotional service. Ahaituki apratihata yayatma suprasidati. That devotional service must be free of any tinge of material desire. And apratihata it must be going on 24 hours daily at every second. Unless we engage in this way, we will not taste the full nectar for which we are hankering. Our mind will still be diverted by so many material desires. So we have to beg the Lord to kindly engage us in such ahaituki bhakti. We have to intensely beg and pray to Krishna to bring us to the platform of ahaituki bhakti. There is a very nice prayer that Srila Prabhupada has given us. What is that prayer?
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
If we pray this Hare Krishna mantra with great love and devotion on a regular daily basis, Krishna will be very, very pleased. “This person wants to be My devotee. He is begging for the mercy of being engaged in My service. Let me help him.” And the nice thing is Krishna is not very far away also. Sarvasya caham hrdi sannivisto, He is right there in the heart. All we have to do is to want to connect. All we have to do is understand that there is no happiness at all in existence unless we connect. Can a fish be happy if he is not connected with water? He may be very close to the water but if he is not in the water, he cannot breathe. So being close to Krishna is not enough. The fish can be close to the water and he will die. So if we are simply close to Krishna, we will die. We have to be totally immersed in Krishna and then we will be satisfied, completely absorbed in Krishna. Actually someone who fully devotes oneself to Krishna with every thought, word and deed in all times, all places and all circumstances, such a person actually sees Krishna within everything and everything within Krishna. They can walk down the street in Vilnius, they see that Vilnius is actually emanating from Krishna and Krishna is within every single atom of Vilnius. They see Krishna everywhere. Actually it may seem very amazing, how someone can see Krishna everywhere. But this is what Prabhupada taught me. The very first time when I had my darsana with Prabhupada, it was a very wonderful, beautiful summer day in San Francisco. There is one famous park called Golden Gate Park. And there was one big famous festival happening that day called Ratha Yatra. And there was one famous personality named Subhadra sitting very regally on her chariot. And there was also one asana set below the feet of Subhadra for Srila Prabhupada. So Srila Prabhupada arrived at the airport and he went straight from the airport to the festival site. And when he sat down on the cart, he gave a very, very nice talk. Of course he gave a very big lecture at the festival itself once we got to the end of the parade. But on that day we got double mercy. We got one lecture at the beginning of the parade and then Prabhupada gave lecture at the end of the parade also. I especially liked the lecture at the beginning of the parade. Because Prabhupada told us, he said that "Every one of you have seen God." That was really amazing to me because he was talking not only to devotees but he was talking to a general audience of hippies. Actually he began very nicely with these words, “jagannatha svami nayana-patha-gami bhavatu me.” In this way he spoke. He is praying, "My dear Lord Jagannatha, you kindly come to my vision". So Prabhupada explained, “raso'ham apsu kaunteya.” Krishna says “I am the taste of the water”. So he told us, every one of you are drinking water once, twice, thrice, more than that every day. He said that if every time you drink water, you simply remember that Krishna is the taste of the water, then immediately you become Krishna conscious. He said to become Krishna conscious is not a difficult job. It simply requires practice. So in this way, Srila Prabhupada went on to explain that Krishna is the light of the sun. So you have all seen God also. You have tasted Him, and you are seeing Him also. Just like now in this room there is some electric light but there is also much natural light from the sun. So that natural light from the sun is coming into our eyes. That is Krishna. So in this way Prabhupada explained to us how to become Krishna conscious.
We are reading here about someone who has fallen down. So we should not think, “Oh, this is very nice. Even if I fall down, there is no danger of being unsuccessful. So I have been feeling kind of lusty lately. I think I may fall down today". Don't think like that. We have to very, very carefully avoid falling down. If one intentionally breaks the regulative principle, it is the greatest offense against the Holy Name. It is called committing sins on the strength of chanting, so we must never, never, never make any plan to fall down. We must make always plan of how to avoid falling down by very carefully regulating our senses. vaco vegam manasah krodha-vegam. In this way mind, words, anger, tongue belly and genitals, we have to always be very, very careful. That we keep our mind fixed in Krishna. That we are always talking about Krishna. That we do not become angry over our loss of sense gratification. That we control our eating, we don't overstuff our belly. And we control our genitals, only begetting Krishna conscious children, otherwise no sex life. Actually it is life or death. Just like if you are hanging over the edge of a cliff holding on to one branch, and if you let go of that branch then you are a dead man. So we have to hold on very tightly. This is called sadhana bhakti. We have to very, very tightly keep our senses under control, even though it is a struggle. It is not always easy. We have to do it. And then gradually, gradually, gradually the natural, spontaneous taste for devotional service will become re-awakened. It will become easier and easier and easier. And finally that day will come when we become pure devotees and we will completely and spontaneously engage in devotional service. [Aside: Sri Sri Gaura Nitai ki jaya!] If we try to be spontaneous now, we run the danger of falling down. So we have to be very, very careful. But the special mercy is that if one is sincerely trying to serve Krishna and somehow or the other he falls down, it is not the end of his spiritual life. All he has to do is to pick himself up again from where he left off. There is no atonement required by drinking molten lead or something like that. Devotional service itself is the purifying principle. So if somehow you slip along the pathway you do not have to punish yourself. All you have to do is pick up and just keep walking again. Just like a little child learning how to walk. If he falls down, will the parents beat him with a whip? No! They simply encourage him, "My dear child, please get up. You can walk. You can do it. Try, try again. We will help you. That is a good little boy. Take another step". So in this way the child is given all encouragement by the parents. And he learns to walk very nicely and someday he is able to even run very nicely. So, now we are struggling to stand up and walk. And even if we slip and fall on our face, we should not at all become discouraged. Because Krishna is very kind, Srila Prabhupada is very kind, the devotees are very kind. It is a wonderful family called ISKCON all over the world. My wife Vishnupriya and I, we are traveling all over the world. And we are seeing how kind are the devotees. We have heard it said, that a Vaisnava is an ocean of mercy and we are experiencing that. We are meeting all the devotees, “Yes, it is true.” It is not something stated in some books somewhere. We are seeing it is actually true. A Vaisnava is an ocean of mercy. As long as we are in the mood of humble service, the Vaisnavas will shower their mercy upon us. So if we always stay humble, our pathway back to Godhead is sure and certain. Pride is the worst enemy on the pathway back to Godhead. It is said “Pride cometh before the fall", which means that pride comes before the fall. So the very worst thing we can do is to become proud. That “I am this, I am that”. Yes, “I am a brahmana”, “I am a brahmacari,” “I am a Guru”, “I am a sannyasi”, “I am a GBC”, “I am a temple president”, “I am a pujari”. We have to be very, very careful not to become proud of some designation. We simply have to remember Lord Caitanya's instruction, "Gopi-bhartur pada-kamalayor dasa-dasa-dasa dasa dasa dasa dasa". In this way become humble servant of the servant of the servant of the servant. That way we are safe and protected. And even if there is some difficulty we can easily recover from it.
So, we thank you very much for you so kindly hearing our attempt to glorify this Krishna conscious philosophy and we would like to ask if there are any questions?
[Devotee asks a question in Lithuanian]
Translator: He wants to clarify about situation of Bharata Maharaja mentioned here. He has a fall down and it is mentioned before that it was due to intense attachment to sense gratification. So he wants to clarify the point where Prabhupada says about him starting devotional service.
SDA: Which point?
Translator: One sentence before this. “It so happens sometimes that when one surrenders himself unto the service of the Lord by some temporary sentiment”. He wants to clarify about his temporary sentiment here.
SDA: Temporary sentiment means he developed this very strong sentiment to the deer. He became infatuated by the deer. He became so attached to the deer, he was kissing it. He forgot about his spiritual practice, wanting to have this intimate relationship with the deer very, very affectionate relationship with the deer. So this is going too far. There is a bona fide example of Sivananda Sena, he was feeling a certain sentiment also for the dog. He was taking care of the dog while they were going to Jagannatha Puri. Actually the dog had no connection with Sivananda Sena or the pilgrims who were going with Sivananda, but he somehow started following the pilgrims on the way to Puri. So Sivananda was taking care of that dog. When they went to one boatman, the boatman wanted that there should be some fare paid for the dog. He also paid money so the dog could come on the boat. And one day when the dog was missing, Sivananda Sena was somewhat worried. He fasted also. So, it is not that a devotee is cold and impersonal. The devotee has natural healthy sentiments for other living beings. But there is a certain line that Bharata Maharaja crossed over which was going way too far. Sivananda was thinking about the spiritual well-being of that dog. He was seeing him as a spirit soul and he was thinking about the spiritual well-being of that spirit soul in that dog’s body. But Bharata Maharaja, his affection for this deer was material. He was enjoying the cute features, "How cute and what a darling deer this is", he just went way too far. He wasn't thinking of the spiritual well-being of the deer. He was just enjoying how cute this little deer is. In this way, his sentiment was material. And it obliged him to take birth as a deer. So, does that answer your question, Prabhu?
[Another devotee asks a question in Lithuanian]
Tranlsator: She wants to clarify a little bit more about the example to see Krishna everywhere. Because it is actually quite high level to see Krishna everywhere and it requires good intelligence to understand. So, the question is about seeing Krishna everywhere. It is high level and good intelligence to understand how Krishna is everywhere. So what should be the practical way, how we can practice in our sadhana bhakti level?
SDA: Well, as Prabhupada told us, whenever you drink water you remember that Krishna is the taste of the water. By reciting that verse:
raso'ham apsu kaunteya
By reciting that verse and remembering these sublime words of our Lord Sri Krishna and seeing through the eyes of this verse then you can do that very nicely. Just like Krishna says, “I am the ability in man”, so if you see a devotee who has a nice talent to do something you can appreciate, “Oh, that is Krishna". So in this way we can see. Of course the most important ingredient for seeing Krishna is given by Brahmaji:
That is the real instruction how you will see God everywhere. You must anoint your eyes with the premanjana, the ointment of love of God. Then you will see Krishna everywhere, within your heart, in everybody you will see Syamasundara. So that is the thing, the premanjana. We have to somehow develop love for Krishna. This distinguishes us from other kinds of yogis. The other yogis, they try to control their minds by some mechanical process to make it fixed to one point. And then there is Patanjali, the author of the Yoga Sutras, who instructs that when the mind becomes one pointed then you fix it on Vishnu. But that is such a difficult process. Even if someone who achieves the samadhi stage of the astanga system, they can easily fall down. The case in point of course is Visvamitra Muni. As soon as he heard the sound of the ankle bells on Menaka's foot, he immediately fell down. So mechanically fixing the mind on Krishna, that is not really the system. The real system is that we have to develop our feelings of love for the Lord because when we are in love with someone we can do nothing but think of our beloved 24 hours daily. That is natural psychology. If we try to fix our mind on something mechanically it is very difficult. Why is that? Because the mind is cancala, it is very, very flickering.
Just like Krishna says, “yato yato niscalati manas cancalam asthiram”. This mind is flickering like anything. "Manas cancala". So, how do we actually come to that point where we can see God everywhere? Only by awakening that love for Him. Then the next question will be how can I develop my love for God? The good news is that you don't have to impose anything artificially upon yourself. Srila Prabhupada compares in the Bhagavad-gita that just as a boy and a girl become attracted to each another, the devotee becomes attracted to Krishna. It is naturally wired into the male and female that they become attracted to one another. It is nature's way. That is the material nature. But in the spiritual nature, there is a natural attraction of the living being for Lord Sri Krishna. So how do we bring that spiritual nature to the forefront that is the question? If a person is suffering from amnesia, then he is brought by his doctor into circumstances which will remind him of his actual identity. So gradually, gradually, gradually by associating with all those things which reinforce his actual identity he begins to remember. "Oh yes, I am Mr. such and such. This is my wife. This is my pet dog. This is my parakeet". In this way by associating with those things that remind him of who he actually is, then that original identity becomes re-established. So Mataji, this is your formula. You just have to associate with those things which reinforce your remembrance that you are the eternal servant of Krishna. By wearing a sari, you can remember Krishna's gopis. By wearing this tilaka you can remember this body is the property of Krishna. By offering the arati to Sri Sri Gaura Nitai, you can remember you are Their eternal servant. By serving the Vaisnavas, you can remember Lord Caitanya's instruction dasa dasa, dasa, dasanu dasa. So in this way, by immersing yourself in all of those activities which reinforce your understanding that I am the eternal servant of Krishna, gradually, gradually, gradually those natural, pure devotional sentiments will become stimulated. Actually this is the intense yearning of our acaryas. They are hankering that these feelings of love will become awakened within them. Just as our Narottama dasa Thakura is singing [sings]
gauranga bolite habe pulaka-sarira
He is praying, "When will that opportune moment come to me, by chanting the name Gauranga will my body shiver in ecstasy and when by chanting Hare Krishna will the tears of love fall down my face". This is his intense hankering. He is feeling that, “In my present situation, I am simply drinking poison”. "hari hari! biphale janama gonainu". “I have simply wasted my life. I am running after sense gratification only eating, sleeping, mating, defending. In this way I am doing nothing but drinking poison, even though I know better, I am still drinking poison”. And then he is saying, “I am just hankering when I can actually feel love for Krishna”. So if you will pray in this way with the intense desire in your heart to awaken the feelings of love for God then that sweet wonderful Supreme Personality of Godhead, He will answer your prayer. If you will anoint your eyes with premanjana, then you will see Him within your heart and everywhere. You simply have to desire it with great intensity and manifest that in every thought, every word and every deed in all times, in all places, in all circumstances and then you will get Him.
[A devotee asks a question in Lithuanian]
Translator: He wants to clarify little bit more about the example which is given by Srila Prabhupada in Bhagavad-gita you said that even the smallest intent in devotional service can help a man in the face of even biggest danger.
Translator: And he wants to clarify sometimes we see that devotees fall down and when they again start with the devotional service they sometimes say that we need to make big efforts to start again. How to understand this? It seems something we forget, so what did remain? How to understand this eternal essence because when devotees fall down and again when they start devotional service, we need some time to again achieve situation where they were before we fall down. So what did remain?
SDA: Yes. Whatever progress you made that is your eternal asset. But you have to get back to the place where that asset is stored also. Just like you may deposit some money in the bank and then you become a penniless pauper on the street, so how will you get your money? You have to walk over to the bank. Go up to the counter and say, "I like to withdraw some money". The assets are there. Whatever service the devotees have done, the assets are available. But if I remain out on the street and expect the bank to come to them, they will not reconnect with their assets. The way to reconnect with your assets is you have to come back to the society of the devotees and humbly fall down at their feet and beg their mercy and then immediately you will regain all your former assets. But if one remains very proud, you will have a hard time to reconnect with your assets. Again as we emphasize over and over and over again, humility is the key. Humility will immediately connect us with our former asset. But pride will make it virtually impossible to reconnect with them.
[Devotee asks a question in Lithuanian]
Translator: She says that all of us have material attachments and what percentage of material attachments can remain to achieve Krishna?
SDA: The answer is very simple. Zero. Prabhupada personally wrote me a letter and he told me that, he said, no karma, no jñana, no yoga, all material desires zero. So do you have any difficulty with your material attachments?
Translator: She thinks that all of us have such problem.
SDA: Yes, you have. Thank you for your honesty. So we have to help each other to get free from our material attachment. That is the meaning of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. It is a society where the members come together, help each other to get free of material attachments and develop love for Krishna. That is why we are here.
[Devotee asks a question in Lithuanian]
Translator: He wants to clarify that by devotional service, we get Krishna's attention. He wants to clarify when does the mercy start?
SDA: Mercy begins immediately.
Anything else? So, we can stop here. We thank you very much for your kind attention.
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
[Transcribed By Her Grace Bhaktin Priya]