His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
(founder of the Hare Krsna movement)
His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
(founder of the Hare Krsna movement)
by His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Oftentimes devotees ask this question: Who is your guru? In this passage from Srila Prabhupada's translation of the Srimad Bhagavatam Jada Bharata a great devotee of the Lord condemns such discussion as materialistic. King Rahugana first asks him about his guru, Jada Bharata responds a few slokas later:
King Rahugana said: O brahmana, you appear to be moving in this world very much covered and unknown to others. Who are you? Are you a learned brahmana and saintly person? I see that you are wearing a sacred thread. Are you one of those exalted, liberated saints such as Dattatreya and other highly advanced, learned scholars? May I ask whose disciple you are? Where do you live? Why have you come to this place? Is your mission in coming here to do good for us? Please let me know who you are.
My dear King, talks of the relationship between the master and the servant, the king and the subject and so forth are simply talks about material activities. People interested in material activities, which are expounded in the Vedas, are intent on performing material sacrifices and placing faith in their material activities. For such people, spiritual advancement is definitely not manifest.
In this verse, two words are significant -- veda-vada and tattva-vada. According to Bhagavad-gita, those who are simply attached to the Vedas and who do not understand the purpose of the Vedas or the Vedanta-sutra are called veda-vada-ratah.
yam imam puspitam vacam
nanyad astiti vadinah
"Men of small knowledge are very much attached to the flowery words of the Vedas, which recommend various fruitive activities for elevation to heavenly planets, resultant good birth, power and so forth. Being desirous of sense gratification and opulent life, they say there is nothing more than this." (Bg. 2.42-43)
The veda-vada followers of the Vedas are generally inclined to karma-kanda, the performance of sacrifice according to the Vedic injunctions. They are thereby promoted to higher planetary systems. They generally practice the Caturmasya system. Aksayyam ha vai caturmasya-yajinah sukrtam bhavati: one who performs the caturmasya-yajna becomes pious. By becoming pious, one may be promoted to the higher planetary systems (urdhvam gacchanti sattva-sthah [Bg. 14.18]). Some of the followers of the Vedas are attached to karma-kanda, the fruitive activities of the Vedas, in order to be promoted to a higher standard of life. Others argue that this is not the purpose of the Vedas. Tad yathaiveha karma jitah lokah ksiyate evam evam utra punya jitah lokah ksiyate. In this world someone may become very highly elevated by taking birth in an aristocratic family, by being well educated, beautiful or very rich. These are the gifts for pious activities enacted in the past life. However, these will be finished when the stock of pious activity is finished. If we become attached to pious activities, we may get these various worldly facilities in the next life and may take birth in the heavenly planets. But all this will eventually be finished. Ksine punye martya-lokam visanti (Bg. 9.21): when the stock of pious activity is finished, one again has to come to this martya-loka. According to the Vedic injunctions, the performance of pious activity is not really the objective of the Vedas. The objective of the Vedas is explained in Bhagavad-gita. Vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah: [Bg. 15.15] the objective of the Vedas is to understand Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Those who are veda-vadis are not actually advanced in knowledge, and those who are followers of jnana-kanda (Brahman understanding) are also not perfect. However, when one comes to the platform of upasana and accepts the worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he becomes perfect (aradhananam sarvesam visnor aradhanam param **). In the Vedas the worship of different demigods and the performance of sacrifice are certainly, mentioned, but such worship is inferior because the worshipers do not know that the ultimate goal is Visnu (na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum [SB 7.5.31]). When one comes to the platform of visnor aradhanam, or bhakti-yoga, one has attained the perfection of life. Otherwise, as indicated in Bhagavad-gita, one is not a tattva-vadi but a veda-vadi, a blind follower of the Vedic injunctions. A veda-vadi cannot be purified from material contamination unless he becomes a tattva-vadi, that is, one who knows tattva, the Absolute Truth. Tattva is also experienced in three features-brahmeti paramatmeti bhagavan iti sabdyate [SB 1.2.11]. Even after coming to the platform of understanding tattva, one must worship Bhagavan, Visnu and His expansions, or one is not yet perfect. Bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate: [Bg. 7.19] after many births, one who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Krsna. The conclusion is that unintelligent men with a poor fund of knowledge cannot understand Bhagavan, Brahman or Paramatma, but after studying the Vedas and attaining the understanding of the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one is supposed to be on the platform of perfect knowledge.
by Purujit Dasa (the officiating acarya of the Bhaktivedanta Lives in Sound Society)
bahu-sakha hy anantas ca
"Those who are on this path are resolute in purpose, and their aim is one. O beloved child of the Kurus, the intelligence of those who are irresolute is many-branched."
( Bg 2.41)
Purujit: I was born in the darkness of ignorance and my spiritual master His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has opened my eyes with the torchlight of knowledge. I offer my humble obeisances unto his lotus feet.
So, this is the sloka from the Bhagavadgita. It's actually a very deep sloka. Every sloka is very deep, but this one specifically relates to the divisions among the different followers of the Vedic culture. "Those who are on this path are resolute in purpose and their aim is one. O beloved child of the Kurus, the intelligence of those who are irresolute is many- branched." So Krsna says a few slokas before to Arjuna that he should fight, but he should not expect results. In other words, Krsna consciousness does not mean to stop activity. We can go on, but the enjoyer of the results of our work is Krsna. If we simply stop action, it will not bring us happiness. And similarly if we simply work for the result, we will be constantly disturbed. Just like thieves, we are enjoying the property of the Lord. A thief cannot be happy. He is always in anxiety. Krsna says that one who does not have peace of mind, cannot be happy. Everyone feels deep inside that : " Oh I'm doing something bad." But because he does not have the alternative, sometimes he gives up action altogether. No more pleasure, no more food, no more this, no more that. Just like the impersonalists. Therefore Krsna consciousness means work, but work with the right consciousness -Krsna consciousness. Devotional service is not something artificial. You probably know that passage, where Prabhupada explains the sanatana-dharma. Sanatana-dharma is the characteristic of every living entity. That's why Krsna consciousness is not a relgion, or a sect. It is the natural propensity of every living entity, everyone wants to serve, but they're serving in the wrong way. That's why the role of the spiritual master is to direct that service propensity in the right direction. This is why we need knowledge. Ultimately, Krsna consciousness, bhakti yoga has nothing to do with knowledge. It is the question of heart, but in the conditional platform our love is adulterated. We serve in a wrong way. That's why we need knowledge. Otherwise we will mistake that which is material for that which is spiritual and that which is spiritual for that which is material. This is the reason why we approach a bona fide spiritual master. Spiritual master means that he is the master in converting material into spiritual. Of course, the Krsna consciousness process does not require that we change our position. Just like Srila Prabhupada says, you can change your religion from Christian to Muslim, from Muslim to Buddhist etc, but if you are a nonsense person, then you will be a nonsense everywhere, whether you are a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc. So we have to change our consciousness. That is important. And it is very simple. Instead of doing things for myself, I do it for Krsna's pleasure. When I cook, I don't cook for myself, I cook for Krsna's pleasure. I like to sing, I like to play musical instruments, that's ok, but do it for Krsna, chant for Krsna. And if you want to do it for Krsna, then you should know that because Krsna is a person, He has his particular taste. And we should understand what that taste is. What He wants, what He doesn't want. Like that. If we strike the right point and serve Krsna in the right way, we will feel ecstatic. And if we serve in a way that is not very pleasing to Krsna, then the bliss will not be there. This is explained in the Srimad Bhagavatam, First canto:
sa vai pumsam paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhoksaje
“The most perfect occupation for all human kind is what is conductive to the attainment of devotional service of transcendence Supreme Personality of Godhead. Such devotional service must be unmotivated and undeterred so that the same shall completely satisfy the self.”
That sort of service will satisfy the atma. We are speaking of pure devotional service. We are not speaking of a mixed devotional service. There is devotional service mixed with jnana and I explained this before. It manifests as giving up activities and as a denial. This is jnana -analytical. For example a man decides: "I want to find out why there is life in this person." So he operates him and he gets his heart and he takes his heart in his hand. "Oh, so this is life." But then the life of that person is finished. It is not practical to simply study the knowledge. That it called jnana-misra bhakti, bhakti-yoga mixed with jnana. And then you have another extreme karma-misra bhakti, devotional service mixed with fruitive mentality: "I become a famous kirtan singer and I will get many likes on Facebook, or I will be a famous pujari. We can become illusioned that we are practising Krsna consciousness, but we are not serving Krsna, we are utilizing Krsna. So the nature of pure devotional service is that it is ahaituky apratihata. It cannot be checked by any material circumstance.
This sloka is very important especially for us, the followers of Srila Prabhupada, because it is the sloka which inspired Srila Prabhupada to come to the West. Those are his transcendental pastimes. And especially either Bhaktivinode Thakura or Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, they comment on this sloka that a disciple should be ready to lay down his life to fulfill the instruction of his spiritual master. That is Krsna consciousness. It cannot be checked even by a material body. That sort of determination we have to develop in order to go back home, back to Godhead. If our determination is 99% it is not enough. We cannot go back to Godhead with 99% determination. We have to have 100%. If the determination is not 100%, resolute, firm, then our intelligence becomes many branched. And this is how you explain the different religions, sects, different divisions, not just in the Krsna consciousness movement, but in all of mankind. People bring their material motives and then there are divisions. Just like the example is given, if you water the root of a tree, automatically all the branches are nourished, but if you try to water the branches separately, first of all you will never come to the end of it and second of all even if you do it, the whole tree will dry out anyway. So in this karma misra bhakti and jnana misra bhakti, because we have a propensity to serve, which is our sanatana dharma, we always serve some person. We are trying to unite on the basis of family, nationality, religious denomination, and so on and so on but this all have to be kicked out. This is the theme of the Bhagavadgita. Arjuna is facing his own family members and he wants to give up the fight. “Why should I fight? Let us be together one family. But Krsna says no. So Prabhupada gives a comment on this point he says: “Sometimes that which is considered as very admirable, very noble by the general mass of people might not be very pleasing to Krsna. It is not stereotyped like that. Krsna says:
kascid yatati siddhaye
yatatam api siddhanam
kascin mam vetti tattvatah
“Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth.”
It is not so easy. Yes (laughter) Krsna says: “Go and kill your family.” And so many soldiers were killed. 64 hundred million soldiers were killed. Prabhupada says: “ What is the use of millions of stars? Get one moon and he will give light to all the different stars. Another example he gives is that if you have one, it is better than million of zeros. So this is what we should become, we should become that one moon, a pure devotee, a quality devotee. It is not that Srila Prabhupada is the only guru. The word acarya means “one who shows the example”. It is not that we simply worship Prabhupada Prabhupada Prabhupada. We must emulate his example. Prabhupada manifests all the different activities, for example his struggles. We meditate on Prabhupada as the successful Prabhupada. People are bowing down. Jaya Prabhupada! But before Prabhupada came to the West, there was seventy years of struggle in India. And nobody was respecting Prabhupada. They thought: “This is just some swami.” Just like that mataji Morarji said: “I thought he was crazy to go to America.” Nobody knew who Prabhupada was. Even when Prabhupada came to NY and set up his own storefront, nobody could have imagined what is going to happen. So this lila we should emulate also. This sort of determination that: “I will go against the whole world.” is needed. If Krsna wants then “Yes I will do it.” and if the whole world is praising me: “Oh you are wonderful,” but Krsna is thinking: “I don’t know about this guy.” then i will give up the whole world, give up the praise, give up the fame, give up everything. That is the conclusion of the Bhagavadgita: give up everything and surrender unto Me. So if we have faith, then Krsna says: “I will deliver you from all errors, all mistakes you do. I will take charge. Don’t worry. Do not fear. Do not worry. Do not be afraid.” The word “ma sucah” has these three meanings. So we should be determined like that and then Krsna will take charge of everything and that’s what we want. We want that Krsna will take charge of our necessities, so we have all the time to think of Him and serve Him with love. Then we won’t be distracted by any of these material motivations. I will no longer think: ”What is in it for me?” Complete surrender. Krsna may kill me. Krsna may save me. I don’t care. That is not the purpose. The purpose is to please Krsna. So Prabhupada has given all these books, where he explains to us how we can develop this mentality. Not artificially or by sentiment, but by proper discrimination and intelligence. Bhakti yoga is also called buddhi yoga –yoga of intelligence. At the same time we have to have that determination. I want to surrender. I might not be surrendered. I might be fallen or so much contaminated, but this decision I should make: “Yes I want to surrender fully fully fully.” then Krsna will give me the proper intelligence, but if I don’t have this determination and I didn’t make this decision, then Krsna will supply a different type of intelligence. You want to enjoy in this world? Go ahead. Krsna does not interfere with your independence. Quite the opposite, he gives you full opportunity to exercise your minute independence. Prabhupada makes this point. If Krsna did not give us maya, illusion, then there would be no meaning to our independence. So sometimes people say, you have probably heard this before, if there’s God, why there is suffering? Suffering is there, but enjoyment is also there. They both bind us to the material world. And why? Because you want. So if you change your desire: “I don’t want this anymore. I want to utilise happiness for Krsna and I want to utilise distress for Krsna. Both.” Then we will be equipoised in mind and we will be able to develop that determination.
It is not very easy to think of Krsna at the time of death. You can test yourself. When you do your japa how much you think of the holy name and how much you think of other things, but that is a small sample of how we will think at the time of death. This sloka is very important if we want to understand how to develop pure offenseless chanting. Otherwise we will be diverted despite the fact that we are chanting Hare Krishna. Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur says that if the chanting is not done properly, the holy name does not manifest. Although it appears as the holy name, these are only mundane letters of the alphabet. We say chant Hare Krsna, we try to encourage everyone never mind he is smoking ganja or this or that chanting Hare Krsna we encourage. Very good. But this is not the standard of perfection. We are giving a future chance. When people come under the shelter of the bona fide spiritual master, they should hear how to purify the chanting. Not that I simply take initiation and my job is done. Initiation means beginning. Beginning of hearing. So it is a great science and we should not miss the opportunity by making sentimental conclusions: “Oh this is jnana prabhu, don’t talk about this. Let’s just have a good time.” This is not resolute determination. In this attitude we hide many doubts. We should avoid that kind of attitude and association also. Just like we say, if you associate with nondevotees, you become a nondevotee. If you associate with a drunkard, you become a drunkard. And if you associate with pure devotees, you become a pure devotee.
So there is no controversy. The pure devotee is there: Srila Prabhupada. Who can doubt this? Only a nonsense person can say otherwise. It does not matter this guru and that guru, we should hear from a pure devotee and there is also association of devotees. We can help each other. There is no problem to accept someone as a guide to understand Srila Prabhupada, but Prabhupada is a pure devotee and he gave us these books. The ISKCON institution is meant to distribute the knowledge in these books. That means that Prabhupada is the spiritual master. Arguing about whether to do the initiation like this or that is superficial. Just like you can do japa in a big bead bag, or a blue bead bag, or a pink one. If you don’t chant, how does it matter whether you have a pink bead bag or a blue bead bag? It doesn’t make any difference. It has no value. Similarly, if we don’t read Prabhupada’s books and if we do not scientifically understand what he is actually trying to explain to us and we don’t apply the process, then you can call yourself a rtvik or ISKCON this or that, it’s not going to help you. Prabhupada says in a letter that arguments are for slackers. Amongst the real workers there are no arguments. Because the real workers are not interested in the formalities, they don’t latch on to the externals. They are interested in the essence. And the essence is one- to please Krsna. Those who are serious, wherever they are, heaven or hell, Prabhupada says, they are my disciples and those who are not doing their work, they can be in this camp or that camp they will just create disturbance. So the institution Prabhupada made and the rtvik system of initiation he made are here to check the nonsense people to join in and create disturbance, but you yourself can practise in any circumstance. Do we need a permission to chant 16 rounds? Someone finds a mala on the internet and buys from an online shop and starts chanting 16 rounds, does he need a permission? No, he doesn’t a permission. Would Prabhupada be very angry? He is chanting 16 rounds and he did not ask my permission. Is this wrong? Of course not. And if this person tells other friends to also chant Hare Krishna then he is a guru. Very simple –he is a guru. Guru is a person who teaches others about Krsna. And these people he preaches to are his disciples. They chant. They are going to do what Ricky tells them: “Oh very nice. I like this chanting.” So they come to Ricky and ask him some more questions. Prabhupada also defines a guru as someone you go to ask some questions. If you ask someone a question, you are already accepting him as your guru, otherwise why are you asking? You have the faith that this person has the right answer. So this gentleman who chants 16 rounds and who tells others to chant 16 rounds and whose friends are chanting because he told them to, he is a natural guru. Does he need a permission? He doesn’t need a permission. The permission is there if you want to take advantage of the institution and of the assets, of the facilities. Srila Prabhupada made all these wonderful temples. Just like when you go to school, the school has some facilities, a classroom, books, teachers. You need to pay a fee or get signed up, some qualification. You have to fulfill some conditions, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn the subject matter on your own. It is not a general principle, but that exception is there. Some people for example receive honorary titles. He becomes a professor, but he never went to school. So it is possible and on the other hand, out of those who are in school sometimes there are a few who cheat and they get a diploma by cheating. Especially, when this happens in a medical field it is a great catastrophe. You don’t want to be operated upon by such a surgeon. So it comes back to the same point. Canakya Pandit says you can’t see a fool until he speaks. So Prabhupada says yes we should associate, but we should use our discrimination. Not everyone who puts on a tilak, kanti and shaves up is a devotee. There are many demons who enter this Krsna consciousness movement. Prabhupada says this. There are many jealous persons in this Krsna consciousness movement. Neither should we go by titles: I’m a rtvik, or I’m ISKCON. I’m this and that. I have first initiation, second initiation, third initiation, the fourth initiation. This may be good, very good, but still this is not the criteria. You have to tell me how you understand the Krsna consciousness science, then we will see who you are. Just like a person who is studying law or medicine in school, he can show us so many diplomas, but when there’s actually a sick person, a practical problem, then we will really see who has got the talent, who has got the proper qualification to cure him. So Krsna consciousness is practical. And Prabhupada himself said when Gurukrpa asked him: “Your Godbrothers, they are also initiating their own disciples, what is their position? Is that bona fide or what is going on there?” So Prabhupada said: “Yes, the formality is going on but the preaching spirit is missing. That is the criteria. Bona fide spiritual master, or a preacher can preach in any circumstance. Just like you see the example in Srila Prabhupada- he started his own institution from scratch. And his Gobrothers were fighting over the properties and no preaching. Simply envious. I don’t know if you know the history, but if you read the Caitanya Caritamrta, Prabhupada is simply transcendentally complaining. The whole world is praising this ISKCON movement, the Western people are becoming devotees of Krsna, Vaishnavas and giving up illict sex, meat eating gambling, amazing miracle, but these Godbrothers are so envious that when Prabhupada would come back to India, his Godbrothers would not even respect him. They started criticizing: Why are you calling yourself Prabhupada? Do you have a permission? Nonsense. So this is the essence of Krsna consciousness. We should have firm determination, we should be very sincere, very surrendered. It does not mean that I have some material desires, so I’m not surrendered. No. You have a material desire? Ok, that’s fine, but don’t make a show that I have no material desire. If you have a material desire and you know about it, that’s the beginning of purification. That is very good, but if I make a show: “Oh I’m a pure devotee, you’re not going to be happy and people around you are also not going to be happy. They will not be very enthused to take up Krsna consciousness. People can feel it. They might be covered, they might be eating meat, but ultimately the soul feels. So like that. Any questions or comments?
ISKCON Devotee 1: Prabhu, you said that we have free will. I was listening to a lecture by Prabhupada yesterday. He was saying that if Krsna sees a little sincerity in our heart, he will catch us and he will arrange everything in our life and future life in such a way that we can go back to Him. My question is that by developing the desire to love God, do we loose our free will?
Purujit: No, no, no. It is a revival of the free will. Actually, in the material world everything is by force. Even if you take such a wonderful pleasure as sex life, we do not have sex life out of freedom, we have sex life by force. It’s a push. It’s an urge. The material nature commands: “Now!” and you cannot resist. It is difficult. So you take anything else like eating or any sort of enjoyment in this world, it is by force, there is no freedom. So when i actually practise austerity by saying: “No, no I will refrain for a higher purpose.” That is the beginning of my freedom. That’s where my freedom starts. I don’t have unlimited freedom. That is illusion: I am God and I can do anything I want. Krsna says:
gunaih karmani sarvasah
kartaham iti manyate
“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.”
Such a mentality is the cause of our bondage. If I think I’m unlimitedly free, immediately I become checked by the material nature. Just like a government, if you do something illegal, then whatever little freedom you have as a citizen is taken and you are taken to prison. So, we are never free. We are either serving maya, or Krsna, but when we serve Krsna, we serve Krsna out of freedom. When we serve maya, we don’t serve maya out of freedom. You can see, if you again want to become Krsna conscious, how difficult it is. Maya is so stringent. So that is the difference. Does it answer your question?
ISKCON Devotee 1: Yeah
ISKCON Devotee 1: Fully yeah. And I also wanted to ask: who said that the slackers create disturbance?
Purujit: Prabhupada. In a letter he says: There is no argument amongst the real workers. We don’t have to fight, there is plenty of service for everyone. The whole world is in Krsna unconsciousness. So we don’t have to fight for service.