THE BENEDICTINE TREE OF DIVINE ASPIRATION: CHAPTER SEVEN
Our Super Benefit
The second part of the previous lecture
When as a young lad of 17 I joined with Srila Guru Maharaj in 1947, he said to me, "I will not be here in Calcutta at all times, so you learn Bhagavad-gita from Swami Maharaj Prabhupada."
When Srila Swami Maharaj read the Gita he would translate it and also teach it to me. At that time we were staying in Srila Swami Maharaj's house. That was before he took sannyasa. Srila Guru Maharaj and Srila Swami Maharaj were very intimate friends. I was 17, and Srila Swami Maharaj's son was also 17, so we were friends. Sometimes we fought as well.
Every day I would go to Bara Bazaar for preaching, and during the preaching many questions would come up, and many would ask me, "Why have you become a sadhu? What value do you find in this life? Why have you given up school studies to become a sadhu begging in the street?" In this way many people would question me. One of the questions that came up was, "Oh, why don't you worship Mother Kali? If you worship her she will give you everything. Just pray, "Dhanam dehi, rupam dehi, janam dehi, yasam dehi,..." You'll get everything—wealth, beauty, family, prestige. You'll get everything, so why don't you worship Mother Kali? Why do you worship Krsna?"
They seemed to be speaking the truth and I also felt some trouble to reply properly. So when I returned home I told Srila Swami Maharaj about it; actually, every day I used to recount to him the day's happenings. So when I told him about the challenge by the worshippers of Mother Kali, he said, "Oh! you are foolish. Couldn't you answer them somehow? You are a devotee of Krsna and you worship Krsna, that's no problem; and they are devotees of Mother Kali, that's also no problem. But when you want to bring them from that conception to this, couldn't you have said something?"
I replied, "What could I say to them? They said that from the worship of Mother Kali we would get wealth, beauty, family, and so on."
Then Srila Swami Maharaj said, "Will you die eventually or not?"
"Sure, everyone has to die some time. We are no exception."
"Alright. If you worship Krsna properly, in the end you get the shelter of Krsnaloka, is it not?"
I replied, "Yes, it is true. If we worship Krsna properly we must get His mercy, and if we get His mercy we must go to Krsnaloka."
Srila Swami Maharaj then pointed out, "And what will be your destination after death if you worship Mother Kali? You will reach the place of Mother Kali. By doing her service, when she is satisfied with you, you will become one of her associates. What is your gain in becoming one of her associates, and where will you go? She lives in the cremation ground, otherwise she lives peacefully with Lord Siva in the Himalayas. There it is absolutely freezing. If you go to join her in the cremation ground there is another disturbance—when you become her associate, what kind of form will you take? All her associates have the forms of witches, wizards, ghosts and spirits; she has two sons with such forms, and you also will have to take such a form! No doubt you can get the wealth, family and other things that you are praying for, but when she is satisfied by your worship what will you get? Think about that. And Mother Kali also has a special nature—she goes naked. The artists paint pictures of her clothed, but the Scriptures tell us that she goes naked. She covers herself with hands. Whose hands? The hands of her own sons. You call her 'mother'—so whose mother is she? She's your mother. And she cuts off the hands of the demons and uses their hands as her clothing. She attracts them, chops off their heads and uses their skulls as a garland. What good will you get from that? And after becoming her devotee you will have to become a witch or ghost to live with her!"
That was Srila Swami Maharaj's reply. Then he said to me, "Couldn't you have replied to them like that?"
I said, "If I speak like that to them they will beat me! They will say, 'What kind of preaching is this?"'
Srila Swami Maharaj responded, "Then you can tell them, 'Alright, that is very nice, you can become Mother Kali's son; but we are not interested in the outcome of that. We prefer to have fruits, cream, cheese and butter in the company of Krsna in Vrndavana, and enter into His Pastimes in Krsnaloka: Yamuna-lila, Rasa-lila, etc. Do you prefer this, or do you prefer that? Whatever you please, you can accept; it is your decision!'"
In this way with his jolly mood Srila Swami Maharaj used to joke with me in my youth.
The argument of the general people was, "We are gaining all these things—wealth, family, youth, etc." But Prabhupada's argument was, "Oh, you are getting all those things, but they will not stay with you. You will lose all. Then, if you become a great devotee of Kali, you will live with her. Think what you will get then. But when we become great devotees we shall live with Krsna. We will reach the home of Krsna!"
So Krsnaloka is the Plane of the most special Transcendental Pastimes of Krsna. There, the highest Divine Play takes place, covering the Principal Divine Relationships of Dasya-, Sakhya-, Vatsalya- and Madhura-rasa.
In Narayana-loka or Vaikuntha-loka the Pastimes take place within two and a half Rasas beginning with Santa-rasa, then Dasya-rasa and half Sakhya-rasa. It is never mentioned in the Scriptures that Narayana has any friends. All are His reverential servants, or half-friends, like Laksmidevi, Narayana's Consort. Her mood with Narayana is always, "Please, what is Your order my Lord?"
She can never behave with familiarity like a Sakhi (lady-friend) and chide Him, "Krsna, go away!" But in Vaikuntha all dealings with the Lord in His Narayana Form are mainly on the level of reverential servitude. This is not the case in Krsnaloka; there, Mother Yasoda may pull Krsna's ear and chastise Him, "Oh what is this wrong you have done?" And Krsna accordingly will also play with her as her son.
Once some cowherd girls, Gopis, came to Mother Yasoda's house and accused Krsna of some misbehaviour. They went to Mother Yasoda and gave her a report, accusing that, "Your son comes to our house and does such and such. He creates disturbances, and our milk and other dairy foods are spoiled by his meddling."
Then Krsna denies, "No, no! See my hands—I never touched any of their milk or butter, you would smell the scent otherwise. I took whatever food you gave me, that's all. They are telling lies." Mother Yasoda asks, "Then why on earth are they lying?"
"Well, of course, they are only coming here just to see Me! That's the real reason. But they can't tell you that; they are hiding behind their accusations."
Then the cowherd girls laugh, Krsna also laughs; Mother Yasoda also laughs and she leaves the matter. But when the cowherd girls walk back to their homes Krsna suddenly appears before them, saying, "What is this? You went to My mother and caused so much trouble for Me. Now I shall retaliate by coming to you all as your husband; what will you do about that?"
Such are the Pastimes in Krsnaloka.
But this play of Krsna cannot be found in any other Form of the Lord. For example, Lord Ramachandra is the Godhead Himself, Purna-brahma—the All-perfect Supreme Godhead, completely transcendental to the mundane plane. But what does He show us in His Lila? He resides completely within the jurisdiction of law. He always gives full honour to all the Vedic laws and injunctions. He never breaks any of the rulings, infallibly. This is His behaviour at all times. For this reason He is famous as Maryyada-purusottama, or the Supreme Lord as the Protector of Vedic Rulings. He is none other than the Supreme Lord Himself, but He manifests this special aspect. Although He is free and independent of all rules and regulations, He shows this full subordination to the Vedic codes of conduct. When it came to His ear that, "Your wife was in another's house," He immediately banished Srimati Sitadevi to the forest. So in this Incarnation, the Lord manifests the nature of complete subordination to law.
But as Krsna there is no such question of law. The question of law never enters His thoughts. His freedom is absolute, but there we find love, beauty, charm—as much affection of the heart as is ever possible, as much beauty as can ever be possible, as much attraction as can ever be known in the world and beyond—everything is found in its fullest possibility in Krsna-lila.
When Krsna personally appeared in this world, He Himself declared, "I am the Supreme Lord!" In the Teachings of the Gita we find this all through:
tam eva saranam gaccha
mam hi partha vyapasritya
"O Arjjuna, whoever takes full shelter in Me, whether they are low-born as sinful outcastes, women, vaisyas or sudras—they too will attain the Supreme Objective; taking their own internal divine form they go to the topmost plane, the Plane of My Service."
Krsna is saying, "I am the Supreme Lord, the Supreme God. Take shelter in Me!"
man-mana bhava mad-bhakto
"Give yourself to Me, be My devotee, worship and honour Me."
daiva hy esa gunamayi
Here, the Lord refers to Maya, the illusory power, as His Maya; so, naturally, "I give liberation from that Maya to anyone who surrenders to Me, furthermore, I give them entrance into My Pastimes. I am so powerful, I am Bhagavan." At that time, Krsna spoke in that very manner—yet there was no one, without exception, who could oppose Him. As we mentioned before, there are many Forms of the Lord, such as Rama, Nrsimha, Vamana, etc. He reveals Himself in these various Forms according to the particular nature of His various Pastimes. But the Pastimes of Krsna are so elevated; the Lord makes the law, the Lord breaks the law, yet nothing can touch Him. In such a Form the Supreme Lord has His Transcendental Play. Therefore it is mentioned in Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.3-28):
ete camsa-kalah pumsah
The Lord has infinite Expansions and Sub-expansions, all embodying the Supreme Potency of Godhead, but Krsna is the Original Supreme Godhead Himself, Bhagavan. So in His Original Form—Bhagavan—Krsna plays His Pastimes; and in His indwelling Supersoul Form—Paramatma—He resides within the hearts of all living beings. Therefore the Divine Principles of Vaisnaivism teach us—jive sammana dibe jani' 'krsna'-adhisthana (C.c. Antya 20.25)—to give obeisances to all souls, to give respect to all, knowing Krsna to be resident there. If it is your son, you must still offer him obeisances; but that is to be done mentally. Otherwise it will not be to the child's benefit, for he will think, "My father is offering me obeisances, so I am superior to him." But he should be respected with the knowledge that the Lord is residing within his heart. This is the principle.
So today you have all assembled here to hear the messages of the Lord. The Lord Himself is your own natural wealth, and in your hearts the Lord is gloriously presiding. He has many, many Forms, and we have many, many paths to reach Him; but the Supreme Path is Bhakti, Devotion. The Transcendental Knowledge given by the Lord in Gita is greatly respected all over the world. Why? Because the Teachings given there are for one and all. The book itself is very compact—700 verses. The Srimad-Bhagavatam is 18,000 verses, and the Mahabharata is 100,000 verses. The Padmapurana is also a full 100,000 verses long.
The Gita is only 700 verses long, but it is accepted world-wide. In the Gita, the karmmi (worker) finds his interest, the jnani (liberation-seeker) finds his interest, the yogi (meditator) finds his interest—and the bhakta, or true devotee, finds his interest. Even an anarchist may be found to be keeping the Gita in his pocket, because the way to attain detachment is clearly given therein. This Knowledge of Gita now pervades and commands the respect of the world; even Russia. The Knowledge of the Gita is so unprejudiced. The Lord happily praises the worker in the world:
niyatam kuru karmma tvam
"Do something! Otherwise you won't even get your food for your bare maintenance. Man must work, so work in such a way as to invite your highest good. That will be most auspicious for you." And that is (3.9):
yajnarthat karmmano 'nyatra
The point is to work in such a way that you don't become bound by that work. You need liberation from such bondage, so you should work to attain that end. One poet of India wrote that, "At birth, a child must cry, but everyone laughs and smiles, happily discussing, 'Oh, very nice! You have a child; is it a boy or a girl? Oh, it is healthy. Just see, it is crying.' So at birth, all a baby can do is cry, but the rest of the world laughs. But you have to work in such a way that you can leave the world laughing—you can be detached—and the rest of the world may weep for you." There is such a work, and that work is to render Service to the Supreme Lord.
yat karosi yad asnasi
"O son of Kunti, whatever work you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer in sacrifice, whatever you give away, whatever vows you may follow—do all as an offering unto Me."
Krsna is saying, "In this way, work only for Me, and you will never be bound in this world. Who am I? I am Visnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Yajnarthat karmmano 'nyatra loko 'yam karmma-bandhanah." Therefore if you work for Visnu, you cannot but be blessed with all success. Everything you do will become auspicious.
You can think like this: 'Oh, there are so many flowers in my garden, but they are being wasted by falling all over the road. If I collect the flowers from those trees and offer them to the Lord, they will then become worshippable, and I shall take them and touch them to my forehead.'"
Similarly we see so much grass on the pathways, and daily we may trample it underfoot. But if any auspicious grass has been used in the worship of the Lord, we touch it to our heads in respect.
Therefore the Lord is teaching us, "Take everything for worship. Make your intelligence mature, then all your bondage will leave you and even in this world you will find true happiness. One whose heart is purified can tolerate both the joys and sorrows of this world. One who has gained real consciousness never laments over anything in this world (gatasun agatasums ca nanusocanti panditah [2.11])."
This will be the proper adjustment. Whoever has appeared in our house, either as a son or a daughter, our duty is to attend to them with our best ability. We must think that the Lord has placed them under our care, so now we must serve them. Even if one or more of them suddenly dies, we shall not be sad, knowing that the Lord has taken them. Everything is the wealth and property of the Lord. Whatever we eat we shall first offer to Him and then take His Divine Remnants, Prasada. If we shall give anything to anyone we shall first offer it to the Lord and give that to a devotee for their service to Him. In this way if we live our normal lives in the world, whatever we do will be auspicious. When we surrender ourselves to the Lotus Feet of Krsna, whatever we do, whether family life or anything, the Supreme Lord becomes our centre.
When the visible universe is considered to revolve around the sun, the scientific term applied is 'heliocentric'; and when the earth is considered the central point of reference, the term used is 'geocentric'; but we need to make our lives 'Godcentric.' We need to invite Him into our families. If whatever we do, we first offer to Him, then all our activities will become unselfish. More than that, they will also become transcendental. Nothing inauspicious will be able to enter there—everything will be auspicious. This is the Service of the Supreme Lord, Bhagavan. "Sarvvam karmmakhilam partha jnane parisamapyate (Gita 4.33)—all these varieties of sacrificial works culminate in Knowledge Divine." This means that the acme of Knowledge is Bhakti:
tapasvibhyo 'dhiko yogi
voginam api sarvvesam
(Bhagavad-gita 6.46, 47)
bahunam janmanam ante
Such are the Teachings of the Lord in the Bhagavad-gita. The main point is that you are to give yourself to Him. There is no question of seating Him on a far and distant throne and just offering some worship. He is in your heart, He appears in your temple—He is within all living beings. He resides everywhere at all times (vasudevah sarvvam iti). Knowing this, you will easily know what is needed of you: Bhakti, Seva—the service of a divine slave. The Sanskrit word 'Bhakti' originates from the root 'bhaj': bhaj-dhatuh sevayam. The fundamental potency of the root 'bhaj' is service. So we want to live in the plane of full service.
The Scriptures inform us that where we live at present is the plane of exploitation—if we dig a hole in the ground, wherever we throw the earth must become a hill. This example is a nice analogy of this world. We fulfil our occupations and maintain our bodies, but we are bound to commit violence. Without violence we cannot survive. The Scriptures prohibit us from taking the life of other living beings, especially from taking meat, fish, and so on. Still, we must eat something to survive. For our survival we must feel the need to secure food.
The question may then arise that in our garden there are very nice vegetables and fruits. But how shall we eat them? We shall have to cut the vegetables, but that is also killing, for even within fruits there are millions of atomic life-forms, and we cannot avoid eating them along with the fruit. If we examine cow's milk under a microscope we shall also find millions of life-forms moving hither and thither. We enjoy yoghurt very much, and we are very careful to see that it is set properly when making it, but under a microscope we shall see that it is absolutely full of living bacteria.
So what will you eat? Atomic bacteria and microbes? Whatever you eat, you are bound to murder other living entities. And if you stop eating altogether, you will nonetheless have to breath; without at least breathing you will never survive. But with every breath billions of atomic living entities enter into our bodies.... Therefore we are not fit to maintain ourselves, and this is why this world is called the plane of exploitation. We cannot live without killing others. We cannot survive. So we are bound to commit violence.
But the Scriptures say, "Why have you opened your own account? You don't need this account." If two or three policemen chase a murderer but are unable to catch him, they may shoot; one or two people may be killed, one or two may be injured, but what can be done? One of the policemen may be injured or even lose his life in the attempt to catch the culprit. Then what are the consequences?
All the responsibility is absorbed in the government's account. The injured policeman who caught the criminal will be promoted or have his salary doubled. All his medical necessities will be provided. Otherwise, even if he is unable to return to his work for the rest of his life he will be awarded double pension as compensation. He will be rewarded.
If you shoot someone you will be arrested immediately for the most heinous crime, but if someone is killed by a policeman in the attempt to catch a criminal, all responsibility is absorbed in the account of the government.
However, one who cannot survive without exploiting others or giving pain to others needs, to be saved himself. And this is possible if such a person offers everything to the account of the Lord: "O Lord, this is all Your wealth—this house, family, sons, everything. I am a servant in Your family, and I shall do service to all. I will also get Prasada, and all my needs will be fulfilled." In this way, one who makes his family 'Godcentric' will gain all success for them.
We can consider, therefore, three stages in general: the plane of exploitation, the plane of renunciation, and the plane of dedication. A surrendered soul—one who has given his all and himself to the Lord—he can do no wrong. Whatever he does goes to the Lord's account. The Lord Himself said
yanti deva-vrata devan
"The worshippers of 'other gods' (demigods) gain entrance into the corresponding abode of the god worshipped; the worshippers of the forefathers who regularly perform the sraddha ceremonies reach the forefathers' abode, Pitrloka; and My devotees reach Me."
"My devotees attain to My abode. My devotees are transcendental to the three qualities of mundane nature: goodness (truthfulness, illumination), passion (agitation, activation), and ignorance (foolishness, stupefaction)—(sattva-guna, rajo-guna and tamo-guna)."
urddhvam gacchanti sattva-stha
"The good go upwards (as far as Satyaloka); the passionate remain in the middle (in the human plane); and the ignorant must fall (to the hellish regions)."
So those who remain in those particular qualities will receive a corresponding result. But the Lord says, man-niketan tu nirgunam—"Whoever lives in My home lives in the Transcendental Plane. He is not bound by those mundane qualities. Whatever is done in My Plane is done with Devotion for Me, Bhakti, and that Devotion is the source of all Blessings and Benedictions." Thus Bhakti has been given the absolutely highest position in all Scriptures. Whether you are capable of doing anything or not, offer yourself, surrender yourself unto the Lotus Feet of the Lord. Whether you are a grhastha, sannyasi or brahmacari is not the point, whatever you may be, you will get your supreme benefit. This is the direction of our Vedic Religion.
So, as I said before, you have assembled here today to hear about Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I have tried with all my might to speak to you about Him. And you have given me much time in which to do so. I consider myself blessed because you have all so patiently heard these talks about the Lord. I want to do some good for you all. There are so many forms of religion, but real religion is in your hearts. That is your potency, and that is your wealth—and that is Love for the Supreme Lord, Divine Love, Prema. It is in the hearts of all, and it is for all. The Lord is engaging in a loving search for the lost servants. As the Lord searches for His servants, you also have the tendency to search for Him.
We can take some help from the ground, like a small child trying to walk for the first time. In the beginning he falls down, but taking the help of the ground he again stands, regains confidence and finally, after a few attempts, begins to walk. When the same child grows, he may well be able to run the four-minute mile. He gets such strength. Similarly, we live in this world, and taking what help we can get in this world we can begin to walk on the path of the life of Devotion for the Supreme Goal. Then we can have our super benefit. We need to invite the attitude to want to do good for others. In that way we will get our own benefit and we shall be able to do good for the entire world. Visvam purna-sukhyate. We want to be able to live our lives and maintain our families through our Service without exploiting others, and automatically we shall see that no burden will ever come to us.
If we are not the cause for the birth of others, then we, accordingly, will not be born. This is also thought out by many brahmacaris, so they avoid marriage and go on in life as free men. But those who marry—they also have their religious life. Actually, according to the Scriptures they hold the highest position in the world of religious thought because they are the maintainers of all the other asramas, the religious categories into which humankind is divided. So from whatever position you may be in now, you can start on the journey towards Krsnaloka. You are already in the life of searching for happiness and preventing unhappiness, but it is already the law of nature of this world that joy and sorrow will come and go automatically.
matra-sparsas tu kaunteya sitosna-sukha-duhka-dah agamapayino 'nityas tams titiksasva bharata
"O son of Kunti, the contact of the senses reacting with their objects give the sensations of cold and heat, pleasure and pain. But they are all temporary, always coming and going. So tolerate them, O Bharata."
When joy comes, it is followed by sorrow. After the sun rises, it later sets; again it rises, again it sets. So happiness comes, then sadness; after sadness again comes happiness. There is no shortage of happiness in this world. It will come automatically. But when we have attained this human form of life, and when we have heard about the Supreme Lord Krsna and come to know a little about His Holy Abode through the Scriptures and the association of devotees, we shall get the aspiration to find our own home, the soil of the soul. If we simply make the attempt to proceed to that Transcendental World we will come to our natural position.
We all know that none of us can remain in this world. We all have to leave one day. But if we only once aspire to proceed to our own home, we will get much opportunity. The Lord will surely bless us. The Lord says that even if one dies before completing his spiritual practising life, in the next life he will be given a higher position (sucinam srimatam gehe yoga-bhrasto 'bhijayate). One who only once makes the attempt for auspiciousness is never a victim of inauspiciousness (na hi kalyana-krt kascid durgatim tata gacchati). He can progress to a higher and higher destiny.
The Wisdom of the Gita is so beautiful. Everything needed to be known, for everyone, is found there. This is why the Gita is preached throughout the world. The elevated saintly persons declare that Sri Gita is the entry standard for spiritual life. If one can first properly appreciate the Gita, then he can aspire for a higher position; it is like passing the entrance examination before entering college. Everybody's primary benefit is to be found, therefore, in the Gita.
I thank you all very much for giving me this time today. By the wish of all you devotees, by your grace, I came here today, so I must try to give you something. Please go on together chanting the Holy Name of the Lord, Harinama-sankirttana, and from this, all Transcendental Knowledge will be revealed in your hearts. Harinama-sankirttana is the yuga-dharmma of Religion for the age, and if you continue happily with this, the Lord who is already within your hearts will graciously manifest Himself—the Lord and His Name are identical:
"The Holy Name 'Krsna' is the wish-fulfilling Gem, Krsna Himself, the Living Form of Ecstasy, the Absolute Whole, Transcendental to Maya, the Eternal Independent; because, the Name and the Named are identical."
So by the Grace of the Supreme Lord we have today this opportunity to chant His Holy Name, and we shall do that for the auspicious conclusion of this meeting.
(Verses in glorification of Srila Govinda Maharaj)
II: Chanting the Mahamantra
III: Dasa-vidha Namaparadha
(The Ten Offences to the Holy Name)
|"HUMILITY, TOLERANCE, GIVING HONOUR TO OTHERS | HUMILITY, TOLERANCE, GIVING HONOUR TO OTHERS"|
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