Date: February 15, 2009
Verse: Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.23.55
Speaker: Prahladananda Swami
sango yah samsrter hetur asatsu vihito ‘dhiya
sa eva sadhusu krto nihsangatvaya kalpate
Association for sense gratification is certainly the path of bondage. But the same type of association, performed with a saintly person, leads to the path of liberation, even if performed without knowledge.
The association of a saintly person in any way bears the same result. For example, Lord Krsna met many kinds of living entities, and some treated Him as an enemy, and some treated Him as an agent for sense gratification. It is generally said that the gopis were attached to Krsna for sense attractions, and yet they became first-class devotees of the Lord. Kamsa, Sisupala, Dantavakra and other demons, however, were related to Krsna as enemies. But whether they associated with Krsna as enemies or for sense gratification, out of fear or as pure devotees, they all got liberation. That is the result of association with the Lord. Even if one does not understand who He is, the results have the same efficacy. Association with a great saintly person also results in liberation, just as whether one goes toward fire knowingly or unknowingly, the fire will make one warm. Devahuti expressed her gratefulness, for although she wanted to associate with Kardama Muni only for sense gratification, because he was spiritually great she was sure to be liberated by his benediction.
Here it is explained one of the most basic principles of how to advance in Krishna consciousness namely through association with saintly persons. As we have heard, mahat-sevam dvaram ahur vimuktes, tamo-dvaram yositam sangi-sangam (SB 5.5.2) That association of devotees opens the path of liberation. On the other hand, association with non-devotees sends one to the darkest regions of existence.
Now the question is who is a devotee, or is there more than one type of devotee. The general tendency in the western world is to make things simple, either it is black or it is white. And anything in between is too complicated to talk about. But devotional service is not a black or white proposition. It is more like, you put an iron into the fire and the iron gets hotter and hotter and eventually becomes just like fire. So wherever you touch the iron it will act just like fire. Similarly the more we associate with Krishna, the more consistently we’re in consciousness of Krishna and the more our intent is to please him out of love and enthusiasm, then the more one becomes absorbed in that fire of Krishna consciousness.
When Maharaj Vidura came back from his pilgrimage after many, many years away, Maharaja Yudhistir greeted him with the words,
bhavat vida bhagwatas
teertha bhutah swayam bibho
teerthi kurvanti teerthani
“My dear Vidura, bhavat vida bhagwatas, that persons just like your good self are verily places of pilgrimage. Indeed wherever you go, you turn that place into a place of pilgrimage because you carry the Supreme Personality of Godhead within your heart.”
Now the question is, who is eligible to carry Krishna within his heart. If that is the qualification to be considered a saintly person and variably a holy place of pilgrimage, then who can carry Krishna within the heart.
According to our philosophy, it is not difficult to carry Krishna in the heart, in one sense. In another sense, obviously there are a few obstacles.
Dhruva Maharaja was able to capture Krishna within his heart within six months. And we may wonder after relatively many years of chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, why doesn’t Krishna surrender? Well Krishna is very happy to surrender, but he wants us to follow the process by which there is a reciprocation in surrender, where we surrender to him also rather than his illusory agent called maya, His maidservant, maya.
In the Bhagavad-gita, the process of capturing Krishna within the heart has been explained in a very simple way. It has also been explained in a very elaborate way. In the verse 18.57, Krishna says,
cetasa sarva-karmani mayi
mac-cittah satatam bhava
“In all activities just depend upon Me and work always under My protection. In such devotional service, be fully conscious of Me.”
Srila Prabhupada writes in the purport that one who acts in Krishna consciousness means that one does not act as the master of the world. Here is our first introduction to Krishna consciousness that there is a God and that we are not that God. And we know from Bhagavad-gita who that God is, namely, Krishna. So that means the implications are very deep. It means everything here belongs to Krishna. It is very simple and very difficult under maya to actually appreciate, what to speak of rejecting or working against or making campaigns or having huge educational institutions just to make sure that no one believes that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. What to speak of the fact that He owns everything here.
Prabhupada said just like a cashier counts millions of dollars. They may not be his, but still he does his duty and counts the money. And at the end of the day, he is not supposed to claim that he gets a percentage of whatever he counted. Otherwise, it is called illegal, avidhi-purvakam. Similarly, accepting that everything here belongs to Krishna, the next thing is, what does Krishna want us to do with his energy? That may not be so clear.
Sometimes it appears to be very clear to someone. That last night Krishna told to me to go and destroy the Hare Krishna movement. It is very unlikely that, that is true. Why do we say that it is very unlikely? Because there is a process of understanding what Krishna wants us to do through guru, sadhu, and sastra.
And so Prabhupada writes next that someone may say that if Krishna is not personally present, how do we know what to do? So Srila Prabhupada writes that if one acts according to Krishna’s directions in this book Bhagavad-gita as well as under the directions of the representatives of Krishna, then the result will be the same. So it is not the book or the representative. It is the book and the representatives. And if we don’t know what is in the book and we don’t know what the representatives say then we won’t know what to do.
One time I asked Srila Prabhupada that. I said, “Srila Prabhupada if Krishna wants me to do something or if Krishna doesn’t want me to do something, how will I know what Krishna wants me to do?” My rasa with Srila Prabhupada at that time was that every time I’d ask Srila Prabhupada a question, he’d answer with a joke. So Srila Prabhupada looked at me and started to laugh.
He said, “You wont’ know what to do. You’ll do the wrong thing.” Everyone started to laugh. Prabhupada looked at me with the most compassionate look I have ever seen.
In any case there is a process for finding out what Krishna wants us to do. And if we don’t know what to do it is only common sense that very humbly we search,
ahimsa ksantir arjavam
We have to have some humility at the beginning and then there is a progression, freedom, humility and lack of false prestige. Then we humbly search after the answer from the right source, ultimately approaching someone who knows the answer. Then they can give us the answer. Then when we get the answer, then we can work, we can act for Krishna. It may not be very complicated. Obviously Srila Prabhupada has created a program, which is very simple. We don’t have to ask the saintly persons we know whether to go to mangala arati or not. We don’t have to ask them whether we should chant Hare Krishna. We don’t have to ask them about hopefully 95 or 99 percent of our service that we have been given to do. But there may be sometimes a doubt, and then we have to inquire humbly. When the answer is known, then we follow the answer and that is the beginning, to do the right thing. And then we have to do the right thing in the right consciousness.
What is that consciousness? That Krishna has asked me to do this service. It wasn’t some temple commander or whoever else. I don’t’ like them, but they don’t give me prasadam unless I follow their instructions, so what to do, I am surrendered. One has to be conscious that we are actually following Krishna’s representative. And they are asking us, what are they asking us to do, we should do the work to please Krishna, that I have been appointed to discharge this particular duty by Krishna and I am doing it just to please Him. And what will be the result? What is the result we are looking for, more followers, more security, more reputation, and better prasadam? What is the result we are looking for? The result will be that naturally we will think of Krishna. What does Prabhupada say? That is perfect Krishna consciousness. Not that we do something whimsically. That, “My dear Lord I have done this service. It was a mistake. No one else wants to accept the results, so here I offer them to you, you are all merciful, please accept.”
No. That is called acting whimsically. Unless we follow the process given to us by Lord Krishna it is considered whimsical.
How do we know? That order of Krishna is coming down through the disciplic succession from the bona fide spiritual master. And so the bona fide spiritual masters order should be taken as ones prime necessity of life. If one gets a bona fide spiritual master and acts according to his direction then ones success in Krishna consciousness is guaranteed.
So who is I the bona fide spiritual master? Who is a bona fide person to lead? In one sense there is and authority structure that Prabhupada has set up, but that does not mean that one should follow blindly. Blind following is condemned. One should get a clear understanding through submission, service, and inquiry. One should not only hear submissively but one should get a clear understanding through service, submission and inquiring.
So there is a process. We don’t blindly follow out of sentiment and we don’t ask completely useless inquiries that have nothing to do with our advancement in Krishna consciousness. That combination between knowledge and bhakti has to be there so that the result is that we become conscious of Krishna. We become conscious all the time, everything is perfectly arranged by Krishna. It is being arranged to inspire us, educate us to become conscious of Krishna. Maya sometimes slaps us to wake us up and sometimes the devotees sometimes give us the beautiful lotus flower to smell to awaken our Krishna consciousness. In any case the aim of the material energy and the aim of the devotee is the same. To awaken our dormant Krishna consciousness.
All the devotees in the movement are meant to act as instruments in that awakening, whether we have an official post in the movement, whether we are diksha guru or siksa guru or GBC, or temple president, or we are cleaning the toilets, everyone has the same purpose. To act as an instrument for Krishna they help awaken our Krishna consciousness and everyone else’s.
When Srila Prabhupada was asked in 1977, November 2nd, just a few days before his disappearance, some Indian gentleman came into Srila Prabhupada’s room and more or less demanded that Prabhupada explain to them who the next leader of the Hare Krishna movement would be. And he demanded that even the personal associates of Srila Prabhupada, his servants leave the room for the discussion. When the personal servants came back, Prabhupada told them that, “They had asked me who the next leader would be.” Prabhupada said, “I told them that whoever follows the previous leader becomes the next leader.” As purely as one follows the present leader they become the next leader. The leader is not something official. The actual leader is, as much as we capture Krishna within our hearts we become a leader. That is the purpose. There may be many organizational necessities of how we organize ourselves to help make the process as simple as possible to capture Krishna within our hearts. In the verse 18.65,
man-mana bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yaji mam namaskuru
mam evaisyasi satyam te
pratijane priyo ‘si me
Krishna says, “Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend.”
And in the purport Prabhupada writes that, well one thing he says, that one should organize his life in such a way that throughout 24 hours a day, one cannot help but think of Krishna and the result is that one is guaranteed that he will go back to Krishna, that Krishna will reveal himself to us. Or in the paribhasya-sutra in the Bhagavad-gita,
janma karma ca me divyam
evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma
naiti mam eti so ‘rjuna
“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.”
Prabhupada writes in the purport, if one simply says one to Lord Krishna, “My dear Lord, you are the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” Then one at once becomes liberated and his going back to the spiritual world is guaranteed. Everyone can repeat, “My dear Lord, Krishna, You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Audience repeat) Thank you very much!
Obviously there is something in between. In other words, so many time a day we are saying, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
So, we are saying that, “My dear Lord, o the energy of the supreme Lord, o the supreme Lord, engage me in your loving service.” So many times a day we are saying that. So why are we not liberated instantly? Well, in one sense, we are liberated but there are different types of liberation. For example in this verse, Kamsa was liberated by association with Krishna, Sisupala, and so many demons. We want something more than their kind of liberation, merging into Brahman, or getting material opulence. Because in the history of for instance Hiranyakasipu and Hiranyaksa we find that by being killed by the lord their next lifetime was not in Brahman. They got unlimited opulence, unlimited possibilities of sense gratification by association with Krishna. They got liberated from all anxieties how to gratify their senses.
After being killed again by Krishna again they took birth as Sisupala and Dantavakra and again Ravana and Kumbhakarana and they got even more opulence. And finally they got killed and they had knowledge that this is actually God and therefore they actually attained merging into Brahman.
So, by associating with Krishna in some way or another we are all being benefited. But there is the process of chanting the Holy Name of Krishna which is the easiest process so that we can very easily get all the benefit, direct association with all of Krishna’s associates, directly entering directly into the spiritual atmosphere of devotion in loving service.
It begins with chanting clearly. As you have all heard that famous mantra either from me or in other classes or maybe from some devotee you know. The mantra is not ‘snik snik ram ram day day day hay kiri kiri kiri.’ I don’t’ know which sampradaya that comes from but I don’t know anyone giving that mantra within the Iskcon Movement, but somehow it has become very popular.
So the mantra is at least utilizing the tongue and lips and whatever else we have to utilize to chant: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
So the first step is attentive chanting. Many times the devotees say, “But what about my mind? My mind is here and there going everywhere. What about my mind?” Well, we are not supposed to follow the mind. Nor is the mind the most important element in chanting Hare Krishna. The most important element above the mind is the intelligence.
So we have to use our intelligence how to chant Hare Krishna in such a way as to get the full result. No matter where the mind is going due to our previous association it may have some significance, but ultimately, it is not that important. What is important is that we utilize our intelligence.
We know the instructions how to chant nicely so we try to concentrate on properly utilizing our tongue, our lips, our teeth so that we chant very clearly. And then we listen to it how are we actually chanting, “Am I chanting the names or after some mantras, are we thinking, it didn’t work. I chanted so nicely, so clearly, Krishna doesn’t appreciate. He hasn’t revealed Himself before me. It has been at least five minutes, I’m getting bored.” We have to go beyond that. We have to chant, listen to our chanting, and then try to improve the quality, calling out to Srimati Radharani and Krishna. We have to believe that they exist that they are actually hearing us when we are chanting. They are not indifferent to us. They are not simply a mythology. We have to forget about all these doubts and call out to Them sincerely. That is important. We have to be aware why we are so sincerely chanting for Them. What are we asking Them for?
When Srila Prabhupada was traveling in India one time, he was in one train car and some Indian gentlemen wanted to get his darshan. But Prabhupada’s servants did not want Prabhupada to be disturbed so they were trying to make sure that these Indian gentlemen did not get into the car. Somehow or other they captured Prabhupada’s attention, they captured his eye and Srila Prabhupada was more or less, due to the etiquette of life willing to let tem come in. They came in and Prabhupada said, “Yes, what can I do for you?”
They said, “Swamiji, swamiji we have your darshan it is so wonderful, please give us your blessings, asirvada?” So Prabhupada said, “Yes, very nice. What blessings do you want?” Generally people come to the sadhu and ask the sadhu for his blessings and the sadhu raises his hands, waves it a few times in blessing. Fire or sparks emanate from the hands! So Prabhupada asked them, they were quite surprised that the sadhu was going to ask what kind of blessings they were expecting. So one of them said, ” Swamiji I have a daughter the dowry is every expensive, I can’t afford the dowry, Please give me your blessings.” Another said, “I have this wart on my foot. I have gone to so many doctors it has not worked. I need your blessing.” Prabhupada looked at them and said, “Well,” and then Prabhupada pointed to his sannyasi disciples in saffron cloth and said, “This is my blessing.” And they said, “Oh, Swamiji, you look very tired. It is getting very late I think we will come back tomorrow to get your blessings.”
What to speak if we become conscious of Krishna, what to speak of being a sannyasi, renounced to the material world. We will have to renounce everything even our false ego. The sannyasis can renounce the material world merge in Brahman and become god there but when we become Krishna conscious then we become, from here we come all the way down. Really tiny! How big am I? 1/10,000 the size of the tip of a hair in size! I didn’t join the Hare Krishna movement to find that out! Please anything but that! I knew I was supposed to be humble but that’s too much!
We have to accept that, that we actually are insignificant, that how can we become humble? Just find out who we are, just find out how wonderful Krishna is, just find out how wonderful Krishna’s devotees are and automatically we’ll become humble and we’ll be very happy to become humble. So we have to be prepared to do that. If we actually chant Hare Krishna, calling out to Srimati Radharani, or Radha and Krishna to engage us in Their loving devotional service then we will do it happily. Then I don’t have to worry about my prestige, I don’t have to worry about my schedule, I don’t have to worry about anything. I just have to worry about the fact that I want to be engaged in loving service and therefore You will appear within my heart and I’ll become fully Krishna consciousness and then I’ll be able to help others, I will know the science of how to help them become Krishna conscious and solve all their problems also.
naivodvije para duratyaya-vaitaranyas
soce tato vimukha-cetasa indriyartha-
maya-sukhaya bharam udvahato vimudhan
Prahlada Maharaja, he said, “I will give you any benediction”… Lord Nrsimhadev. So Prahlad Maharaj said, “Please come back tomorrow I’ll consult my friends and see what I need.” He said, “I don’t need any benediction. Why? Whenever I chant Your glories I immediately merge into an ocean of happinessand I am completely satisfied. Happiness beyond anything I could have imagined. Every time I chant it becomes more, and more wonderful beyond any conception I had previously. So I am always in awe and wonder, anxious for the next moment to find out how much more wonderful You are and realize how wonderful all Your devotees and energies are.” Srila Prabhupada said Lord Nrsimhadev could have said so Prahlad Maharaj, You look a little despondent Prahlad.” So Prahlad Maharaj said, “Yes I am lamenting for those vimuddhas, not asses but vimuddha super-asses, who are spoiling their lives day and night for sense gratification without any idea of what love of God is. Therefore I am working to make them become Krishna conscious, to help them become Krishna conscious.”
So Prabhupada writes here, Even if we have no knowledge if we act according to the previous acaryas, we act according to Prabhupada’s instructions, the most perfect instructions and even as they come down through Prabhupada’s representatives who are actually repeating and serving and following Prabhupada. If we do that even if we are not in knowledge we’ll be able to help others. And if we gain this knowledge, we actually become Krishna conscious, just like Srila Prabhupada was so Krishna conscious.
I remember one day, and I always try to remember that day, in Boston in 1969, I had come from Buffalo, New york with some of the devotees and we were waiting in the Boston temple for Srila Prabhupada to come. I had seen Prabhupada before and Prabhupada was walking up the stairs to the second floor, first time he was there also, I remember Lord Caitanya, the picture is still there in the Boston temple. Suddenly Lord Caitanya in the picture had become effulgent, I did not see Prabhupada but I saw that the picture had become effulgent and then Prabhupada walked up the stairs and the whole room turned into Vaikuntha. That was not only my impression but also everyone that was there that I asked they had the same experience. For the first time in this lifetime I could remember I had no anxiety whatsoever.
Everything was wonderful. Prabhupada sat down in the chair and he looked at me and I could see as many other devotees could see that Prabhupada not only saw my body and mind and intelligence, he could actually see me whoever I am. And then for the next half an hour that Prabhupada was in the temple room it was Vaikuntha, Prabhupada related the stories and unfortunately they were not recorded, of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Maharaj. And every story I was feeling like I was actually there and the Prabhupada left. He went downstairs and I came back to were I normally am.
So what does that mean, it means who can understand Prabhupada, who can actually understand the dept of his meditation on Krishna on his spiritual master and his instructions, who can actually understand! I have no idea where Prabhupada was actually situated or where he is situated now, all I can understand is that to follow his instructions is the only way I am going to have any chance to understand. And for those who are following his instructions better than I am, who are situated in Krishna consciousness then only by following their instructions am I going to understand. And even if somebody is not better situated but if they are repeating his instructions and they are doing it as sincerely as possible then if I try to understand what they are saying and follow Prabhupada’s instructions then I’ll make progress also. In any case it is not so difficult. Prabhupada has shown by his example, he has given us many instructions and he said that, “If you cannot do better, then at least maintain what I have given you.”
So as we have seen that is not so easy but our process is not so difficult. We have to follow Prabhupada’s process, become ecstatic in Krishna consciousness and then we will become enlivened and we will have the understanding more and more and more how to fulfill Prabhupada’s desire, how to fulfill the desires of the previous acaryas and become a better and better instrument and make our lives successful and help others make their lives successful too.
Thank you very much. [Applause] Any comments or questions? OK.
Visuddha Sattva Das: Thank you very much Maharaj. You made a very good point. My question is focusing on that verse which says that association with saintly person is very important. Sadhu sanga So sometimes we have difficulties in Krishna consciousness or devotional service and because we are not in the paramahamsa stage were we can have direction in the heart of Krishna as Caityaguru so how will we know what is the right source if they are not available amidst devotees. What is the best process to know what Krishna wants us to do in these critical moments?
Prahladananda Swami: Well we have an advanced devotee. Prabhupada’s instructions are always there and if we imbibe those instructions, we assimilate them Krishna within the heart, as Supersoul will remind us what the appropriate instructions are coming from Prabhupada. And when we serve those instructions and we take also council from the present representatives of Prabhupada, the present devotees within the Iskcon movement, the ones we have faith in, and assimilate those instructions and when it is clear exactly what Krishna wants us to do then we do it the result will be that we will actually become Krishna conscious. Krishna will reveal Himself to us.
We will get the result we are looking for, Krishna consciousness. So in other words guru, sadhu and sastra are very much present in our society. We have to learn how to take advantage of them.
Ekalavya Das: Thank you for you class Maharaj. Sometimes we are in danger if acting whimsically as you mentioned in your class especially if we think we can prematurely take guidance from Caityaguru without consulting others. Under which circumstances are we in danger to act whimsically. Could you give some examples?
Prahladananda Swami: As soon as we think we can act independently. Srila Prabhupada said that anyone who thinks he can act independently without consultation of other devotees what to speak of a spiritual master, the one who is better than we are, who is absorbed in Krishna consciousness the he at once becomes fallen, CC Adi lila – Chapter one. So as soon as we think that we can act without consultation of others, we are independent, unless we are directly hearing it from Krishna then we once become endangered. Krishna says,
atha cet tvam ahankaran
na srosyasi vinanksyasi
If you do not act according to My direction, mac-cittah sarva-durgani, if you become absorbed in following my direction then you will pass over all the obstacles of conditioned life by My grace. If however you act without hearing from Me or My representatives then you will be lost.
So as soon as we neglect the devotees and think, “I really don’t care about the pujaris, they are all in maya. I don’t care about my Guru he doesn’t understand me. I don’t care about Prabhupada’s books, they are too hard to understand, they are full of contradictions. I don’t care about anything. I am just with Krishna, then one will find out that maya can appear in many ways. She can appear apparently as Caityaguru also and tell you, ‘Hi, this is Krishna talking to you. You remember me right? Just follow me everything will be all right. Don’t listen to these other people they are in maya, only you are out of maya. You can hear me directly.
Jahnudvipa Das: So in the mode of passion there is doubt. You don’t know what to do or what not to do. But in the mode of ignorance there is no doubt you are completely convinced of the wrong thing. So what you do in that situation?
Prahladananda Swami: We act in the mode of goodness by hearing from authorities. We ourselves may be situated in the lower modes but if we know that and we take shelter and strictly follow the instructions as best as we can then the result is that Krishna will help us within. He’ll give us the understanding how to do our service better and better and better. He will reveal Himself when we humble serve the previous acaryas. Yes.
Ramacandra Kaviraja Das: Hare Krishna Maharaj. In the verse it says that when one associates with materialists then he becomes despondent. An example of that would be watching movies or playing frivolous sports like that and then it says in the verse that by the same type of association with saintly persons one gains liberation.
Prahladananda Swami: You mean if you play tennis with a saintly person you will get liberation? It hasn’t work for me. If we associate with a devotee through service, then we get liberation. If we associate with maya and serve maya then we will get bondage. So we have a tendency to serve this body and things in relation to the body but that binds us but if instead or serving the body we utilize the body in Krishna’s service, utilize the body in the service of Krishna’s representatives then we become liberated. But that means the service must be authorized and there are the nine processes of devotional service. Prabhupada writes, sravanam, kitanam, visnu smaranam pada sevanam and these are the nine authorized activities. Anything besides this in Nectar of Instruction is considered to be a fall down. So we serve the saintly persons by following these nine processes.
Grantharaja Srimad-Bhagavatam ki jay! Srila Prabhupada ki jay!
Gaura-premanande, hari haribol!