Srimad Bhagavatam 8.12.39
om namo bhagavate vasudevaya
[Gurudeva chants three times and devotees repeat]
Srimad Bhagavatam, Eighth Canto, Chapter 12, Text number 39.
ko nu me titaren mayam
kah — what; nu — indeed; me — My; atitaret — can surpass; mayam — illusory energy; visaktah — attached to material sense enjoyment; tvat-rte — except for you; puman — person; tan — such conditions; tan — unto the materially attached persons; visrjatim — in surpassing; bhavan — reactions of material activities; dustaram — very difficult to surmount; akrta-atmabhih— by persons unable to control their senses.
My dear Lord Sambhu, who within this material world but you can surpass My illusory energy? People are generally attached to sense enjoyment and conquered by its influence. Indeed, the influence of material nature is very difficult for them to surmount.
Of the three chief demigods — Brahma, Visnu and Mahesvara — all but Visnu are under the influence of maya. In Caitanya-caritamrta, they are described as mayi, which means “under maya’s influence.” But even though Lord Siva associates with maya, he is not influenced. The living entities are affected by maya, but although Lord Siva apparently associates with maya, he is not affected. In other words, all living entities within this material world except for Lord Siva are swayed by maya. Lord Siva is therefore neither visnu-tattva nor jiva-tattva. He is between the two. [End of purport]
Sankarshan Das Adhikari: It is interesting to note that in this purport that Srila Prabhupada says of the three chief demigods Brahma, Visnu and Siva all but Visnu are under the influence of maya. And then Prabhupada after saying that only Visnu is not under the influence of maya, now he also says that Lord Siva is also not under the influence of maya. In other words Srila Prabhupada is reversing his statement. First of all he is saying Siva is under maya's influence. Then he is saying that Siva is not under maya's influence. From the standpoint of ordinary logic, this is a contradiction. But in the transcendental realm there are many statements which are, from the mundane standpoint, contradictory which are none-the-less true. So here we have a situation where Siva is under maya's influence and he is not under maya's influence. So how are we to understand this? It is also stated that Siva is not visnu-tattva nor is he jiva-tattva. He is not God and he is not a living entity. So Siva is rather mysterious actually. He defies contradictions; he is not easy to categorize. So the easiest way to… He has his own designation. He is siva-tattva. You can't fit him in the other categories. He is in a very, very unique position. And he is also attracted to this Hare Krishna movement. When the devotees were doing a kirtana in the temple at Bury Place, in London, Srila Prabhupada had them make an asana for Lord Siva, because he said that Lord Siva was attending the kirtana at the temple. So whether we can understand Lord Siva or not, at least we can appreciate that he likes this Hare Krishna movement. So we again come back to the question of how one can be under maya's influence and not be under maya's influence? Prabhupada answers this question. He says that Lord Siva is apparently associating with maya. In other words it is as if Lord Siva is influenced by maya. But he is not really influenced. He appears to be influenced, but he is not actually influenced. But our position is that we are influenced. As is described here in this verse, "Who within this world but you could surpass My illusory energy? People are generally attached to the sense enjoyment and conquered by its influence". So, that is our position. And it is not a very nice position to be in. It is an unpleasant position. It is a very disturbing position to be under the influence of maya. So we are doing everything under the influence of maya. We are thinking under the influence of maya, we are speaking under the influence of maya and we are acting under the influence of maya. And Maya has so expertly deluded us that we think that we are not under the influence of maya. We very proudly think that “I am doing everything perfectly.“ So this is heavy maya. So, how do we get out of this maya? It is very important that we have to get out of this maya. We think that we are advanced devotees, and how are we advanced? We think we are already properly situated, then how can we make any progress? We have to actually see how fallen we are. That is very important. We have to understand how puffed up we are, how we make so many mistakes all the time. This is very important. We are conditioned souls. We are suffering from four defects. The first defect is that our senses are imperfect. You may hear some sound from a distant place and you misinterpret what it is. You may think it is the backfiring of a car but actually it was a gunshot. Or you may hear a gunshot and think that it was a car backfiring. So our senses are imperfect. You can see within this room but you can't see what is happening in the pujari room behind that wall. Your sensory powers are limited and therefore imperfect. So what is the result of having imperfect senses? Because your senses are imperfect you have the tendency to be illusioned. You thought you could see something but actually what you thought was not actually there. So you are in illusion because of your imperfect senses. In other words, your senses are giving you misinformation. So what will happen if you act on the basis of that misinformation? You will make mistakes. Isn't it? And in spite of making so many mistakes, you think, "I am very great. I am an advanced devotee." Then you are a cheater. You are cheating yourself out of spiritual advancement and you are cheating others by showing a bad example. So we have to learn the art of how to get beyond these four defects of conditional life. So how do we transcend them? We have three influences that will help us. We have guru, we have sastra and we have sadhus. Guru means we have our initiating spiritual master, and it also means we have Prabhupada. He is the main guru of our movement and we also have siksa gurus. We have other devotees who guide us and inspire us who are our siksa gurus. And sastra means we have Prabhupada's books. And then sadhus, mean we have a family of ISKCON devotees. So we will take shelter of guru, sastra and sadhus. And then we will gradually become free from the influence of the four defects. We will gradually come out of the conditioned state of consciousness and come to the liberated state of consciousness. As we become more and more advanced in the pathway of bhakti, our anxieties will go away, our illusion will go away, our fearfulness will go away, our misidentification with this temporary body will go away. We will gradually enter into the realm of pure deathlessness. So that is the ideal position. That is the position that Srila Prabhupada wants us to come to. He wants us to become pure devotees with no material desires. No desire for karma, no desire for jñana, no desire for yoga. All material desire is finished. That is the position we must come to in order to go back to Godhead.
So, if we certainly think that we are advanced devotees, we will find great difficulty at the time of death. We will have to take birth again. Unless we become purely humble, material desires will continue to reside in our hearts and we will have to take birth again to fulfill those desires. So how can we see or measure our own humility or lack of humility? That is a very simple formula. That is given by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu:
trinad api sunicena
[To the translator]: You don't have to translate it. It is already translated. You don't have to do that.
So we can understand that the person who is very eager to join in the kirtana and relish the Holy Name, that is a sign of someone who is developing humility. If someone is very proud he can't chant. We can tell him, "My dear sir, please chant, chant, chant!" And he says, "Cant, can't, can't." He is very stubborn and he will not join the kirtana. So we can understand that such a person is extremely proud because he has no taste for the kirtana. Actually to have taste for kirtana, one must think oneself lower than the piece of dirt lying under the tile on the floor. You peel it up and crawl under the tile and that is how low you want to be. You want to get so low that all the devotees just dance on top of you so you get blessed with the dust on their feet. You want to place yourself in such a low position during the kirtana that all the devotees can step on you and you get blessed by the dust of their feet. Not literally, but this is the mood. You simply want to place yourself at the feet of the Vaisnavas, you want to offer all respect to the devotees and you don't expect any respect in return. Someone may think that I will respect this devotee if he respects me. That is not humility; that is business. “Oh, I'll respect you if you respect me.” But one who offers all respect even if he gets disrespect in return, that person is humble and that person can relish the Holy Name like anything. So we have to analyze with a cool head. What is actually important in life? As we were talking the other day we can die any minute. So, if I am going to die right now, then what I can take with me? Do I have some asset that I can carry with me, some possession that I can carry with me? Yes, there is some asset or possession you can carry with you. If you are a humble chanter of the Holy Name, you can carry the Name with you. And the Name will carry you with Him. I say Him and not it, because the Holy Name is Krishna Himself. So if you can take shelter of the Holy Name, the Holy Name will be very, very happy to give you shelter at His lotus feet. Carry the Name on your lips wherever you go and that Name will be just like an airplane carrying you back home, back to Godhead.
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
So I can open up now if there are any questions.
Devotee: I don't know if that was a Christian. There was one saying one word in a lecture, of advanced devotee but from the point of view from which we are looking at it, sometimes we can consider somebody to be a very advanced person but from the other point of view he cannot be a very advanced person but actually fallen. So there are two points which are subjective or objective. But in the terms of the spiritual world, can we name the cross or any other object as advanced? Can you say that the cross, it may not only be the cross but any other object. Can it be advanced? What can be considered the statement in the conception of advanced or un-advanced in terms of maya?
SDA: Now there is such a thing, there are neophyte devotees and there are advanced devotees. If we accept the teachings of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, it is not subjective. It is objective science coming from our acaryas. There are kanistha adhikari, neophyte devotees, there are madhyama adhikari, the devotees in the middle position and there are uttama adhikaris, devotees in the topmost advanced position. Now it is possible that we may think a person is advanced when he may not be. But Krishna knows who is advanced and who isn't. The pathway to Krishna consciousness, to pure bhakti is a gradual process. If someone is 1% advanced, then they are 99% in maya. If there are 2% advanced, then they are 98% in maya. If they are 75% advanced, they are 25% in maya. And when they are fully advanced then they are 100% Krishna conscious with no tinge of maya. So each and every one of us is somewhere along that continuum between 0 and 100% Krishna consciousness. I have a certain percent of Krishna consciousness and a certain percent of maya consciousness. You have a certain percent of Krishna consciousness and a certain percent of maya consciousness. That is our position until we become completely pure devotees then there is no tinge of maya whatsoever. So we have to patiently follow the process given by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada. We have to admit that we are imperfect. That humble admission of our imperfection will actually help us to advance very quickly. And we should never be proud. We should always try to appreciate the wonderful qualities of the other devotees. Prabhupada's secret of success in spreading this movement was that he could see that 1% Krishna consciousness in someone and he could so much appreciate it. He appreciated it like anything, to see that little spark of Krishna consciousness in someone's heart. Then he would just pour unlimited mercy on those persons to encourage them to become 2%, 3%, 20%, 50%. He would encourage them to become pure. Look who Srila Prabhupada started this movement with, a bunch of wild hippies. They had no conception of how to even properly respect Srila Prabhupada in the beginning. Srila Prabhupada tolerated it and just gave them pure love and kindness. They would come to Prabhupada's apartment to take a shower in the morning. And they would wait in line to take turns for taking a shower. And Prabhupada was standing in line with them, waiting in line with the hippies to take a shower in his own bathroom. They didn’t think that we should let Swamiji be in the front of the line. He humbly took a place in the line to take a shower in his own bathroom. He just took a very, very humble position. He would collect the money, he would go to the grocery store, he would buy the bhoga, he would cook the feast, he would serve all the boys and girls and they would all go home. And he would be left all alone to wash the dishes. Even though he was a completely pure devotee and these were simply wild hippies, he gave them so much love, so much kindness and any little tiny spark of Krishna bhakti he can see he would encourage them like anything. I know in my own case, I was certainly what is described as a ruffian when I joined this movement. I was a little ruffian. Ruffian means not gentle. I was not a gentleman. But I got one letter from Prabhupada. He said that “I have heard from Visnujana Maharaja that you are doing very nice service in our Austin temple”. Prabhupada wrote me along with two other boys. He said “I heard from Visnujana Maharaja that you boys are doing very nicely in our Austin temple. When Prabhupada wrote that “I was doing very nicely in the temple”, I was thinking how kind he is. Because I know that in so many ways I was not a gentleman. My nature was that I was not very much of a gentleman when I first moved into the temple. And here was Prabhupada telling me “I heard that you are doing very nicely”. So I was thinking “Prabhupada is an ocean of mercy. He can think that I am doing very nicely. He must have really transcendental vision to see that I can do anything nicely”. The temple president wanted me to do some service. I didn't want to do it, until my president had to tell me, "You are chanting Hare Krishna, you are begging Krishna for service and now when service comes you don't want to do it". In spite of that, Prabhupada said that “You are doing very nicely”. So I understood that Prabhupada was able to see something in me that I couldn't even see in myself. Somehow or the other he saw some genuine spark of bhakti in me that I couldn't see in myself. And the amazing thing was he gave me initiation. He gave me a spiritual name, Sankarshan Das. That was his kindness, his love. So, that is the mood of someone who is a real preacher of Krishna consciousness. They are not looking for recognition. They are not looking for respect. They simply want to give love to help people to awaken the Krishna bhakti within their heart. That is what Prabhupada did to us and that is what he wants us, his followers to do for [inaudible]. So the more we can become very soft-hearted Vaisnavas, appreciating the unlimited loving kindness of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, and the more we can share that with others, we will feel so happy within our own hearts. And we will be able to help people become very, very happy in their hearts. That is the whole meaning of the Krishna conscious movement. It is a place where we can all get together and share this wonderful mercy of Prabhupada with each other. It is called causeless mercy. ‘Causeless’ means we don't deserve it. That Prabhupada is just giving to us. He is just giving, giving, giving, giving out of his pure love for us as Krishna's children. So, getting back to your original point, there are such things as advanced devotees. An advanced devotee can actually recognize who is advanced and who is not. A neophyte devotee can't always get it right. He sometimes thinks an advanced devotee is a neophyte and sometimes he thinks a neophyte as advanced.
I remember I once asked this question in a Bhagavatam class, because it is stated in the Bhagavatam there are three kinds of ways you should associate with devotees. To those who are more advanced than you, you should offer your respect to them, you should eagerly take their association, you should serve them and you should learn from them. For those who are on the same level as you, you should become very good friends, you can share realizations with one another, take prasadam together, have a wonderful warm companionship. Krishna katha buddies. And to those who are less advanced, you should be very, very kind to them, give them all kinds of very valuable instructions to help them advance. So there was one sannyasi there, and I asked him… I was a brahmachari at that time and I said “how do you figure out who is more advanced, who is equally advanced and who is less advanced”? He gave a very nice answer. He said “if you can't figure it out then just assume everybody is more advanced than you. That way you can't go wrong. When in doubt just be humble, and you will be on the safe side. But then gradually by that sincere humility, your heart will become clean, your intelligence will become crystal clear and without any false pride whatsoever, simply in the mood of service you will be able to see who is equally advanced, who is less advanced, who is more advanced. And Krishna will bless you with the understanding of how to deal with all three in a compassionate and proper way.” The basis of all of our relationships in ISKCON is love. We have to learn how to love nicely. We come out of a world where, when we try to love someone, they cheated us. So after some time we become hard-hearted. Just like there was a popular song in America back in sixties. “I am a rock, I am an island, I touch no one, no one touches me”. It was a very popular song [sings the song]. This is the mentality of being frustrated from trying to have loving relationships with others. In the material world we have been hurt so many times. We tried to love our parents, but we saw they were just trying to control us. We tried to love a woman; we saw she just wanted to see what she can get out of us. We tried to have a friend; we saw he just wanted to lord it over us. So in so many ways we were frustrated by trying to have loving relationships. We just said, "Forget it". This is what the mayavadis do. They say "brahma satyam, jagan mitya". They say “the spirit is truth and this world is false. I will negate it, false. Neti, neti, neti.neti,neti, simply false.” So to a certain extent we all have that neti, neti, neti, neti mentality because we have all been frustrated with the material world. But if we can actually feel the love that the Vaisnava has for us, then that will awaken our faith in the process of having loving relationships with the devotees. I can think of the many struggles I have gone through as I have spent 34 years advancing in this pathway. Then I can see and remember whenever there was a very difficult situation for me, Krishna always sent some devotee who can really give me his love and help me, and on many occasions that was Srila Prabhupada himself and also my Godbrothers and others. So in this way we must become a pure devotee of Krishna. Krishna is in complete perfect control of everything. If we are sincere to become His pure devotee, He will send some help to make our struggle easier for us. So we have to learn how to recognize and appreciate that help that Krishna does send. If we do so we instantly become advanced devotees. To become an advanced devotee is not difficult. All we have to do is take shelter of an advanced devotee and immediately you become advanced. I always like to give an example in this connection. In India, most people don't have an automobile. Most people do not have cars in India. They have bicycles. But they have a long commute to go from their house to their work, maybe 30 kilometers. So that is a lot of pedaling every day. So they have one very easy way to get home and get to work with no problem. When they are riding on their bicycle they grab hold of one truck and they go for a free ride. It is a very common thing in India. If you go to India you will see that the bicycle riders will grab some truck or some bus to get a free ride. I know in America the police will give you a ticket if you try to do that, but in India, no problem. In this way, all you have to do is find some senior devotee or devotees and just grab on to their mercy and let them help you advance. Then it becomes very easy. This is one of the greatest secrets of success in Krishna consciousness. Find a devotee who is genuinely kind-hearted and take advantage of his love. It is a very simple formula. It works every time. It is a sure-fire success.
Devotee: I would like to get back to yesterday's lecture, you said if we have been criticized, we have to be sincere when somebody criticizes us. If we are sincere then we can see if the criticism is right or it’s not. In this case I have a question, Krishna gives us signs in the brain if we beg Krishna to speak with us and give us signs. If this criticism we think, being sincere that this criticism is not right to us, still isn't this a sign from Krishna to us that something is wrong.
Translator: Can you translate please?
SDA: Let me comprehend the question first and then you can translate. I do not fully comprehend your question. Someone is criticizing you and they rightly or wrongly criticize?
Translator: He gets some signs.
SDA: You are not fully sure?
Devotee: If someone criticizes me and I am very sincere and I see that this criticism is wrong, not proper to me, but still this is a sign from Krishna that something is wrong, am I right?
SDA: Actually, there is a saying “Where there is smoke, there is fire.” So even if you are being wrongly criticized, still I am agitating that devotee's mind. Maybe I didn’t do what he said I did, but somehow or other this devotee is not pleased with me. So there must be something I am doing wrong if this devotee is not pleased with me. That is the right way to think. Maybe it is not what the devotee is saying but you must have done something wrong that he is not happy. Our service should be done in such a way that all the devotees are pleased with us all the times. That is what we should strive to please all the devotees all the time.
SDA: Next question?
I answered your question. It is your fault. She asked this question that if you consider someone to be advanced and if you follow them. Is it your fault? And I said, "Yes, it is". That means you have not been reading Prabhupada's books. It happened in the New York temple. The temple president became overwhelmed by maya, he married some oriental woman who was offering eggs to the deities. They were offering eggs to Radha Govinda! Devotees were thinking, "Oh, she is advanced. We can't say anything". So you have to read the books. Then you will never be misled by some so called advanced devotees.
Devotee: What does it mean to perfectly render service?
SDA: Without any thought of anything in return. You are doing the service simply to please Srila Prabhupada and to please Krishna; that is all. You are not thinking “Oh, I will get some recognition by doing this. They will think I am an advanced devotee.” There is no thought of anything in return. You are doing it just for the sake of pleasing Srila Prabhupada and pleasing Krishna; pure love.
Devotee: Everywhere it is said that we have to serve devotees. Right? In today's lecture, you said that we Vaisnavas have to become very soft-hearted. So that would also mean that if we are very soft-hearted that means we will want to serve non-devotees as well.
SDA: Yes. Yes. Serve everybody. So what service you will render them? You will give them Krishna consciousness.
So we will stop here. I just want to thank all of you very much. Mataji and I, we both very much appreciate your wonderful kindness and loving dealings with us over the course of our days here. We are going today to Lithuania. But we are not really leaving because we can't really ever leave Riga. We always carry Riga within our hearts. Not Riga, but ISKCON Riga. So thank you all very much!
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
SDA: Yes, One announcement.
Vishnupriya Mataji: We are leaving around 2 o’clock and before that you have to announce there is a program at Dzidra's home.
SDA: We are leaving at 2 o’clock. There is a program at Dzidra's home. Anybody wants to come, we will squeeze in as many as we can. The program starts at 10:30 at Dzidra's home.
[Transcribed By Her Grace Bhaktin Priya]