Shikshashtakam 3 Text 1 The flower metaphor for the blossoming of consciousness
Workshop at Krishna Institute, Alachua, USA
Transcription of Lecture
So, we continue our discussion on the first text of the Sikshastakam. In the previous session – second session we discussed about this theme of the mind that acts at various levels. It acts as a window where it provides us a channel for getting information from the world, and functioning in this world. Then it also acts as a T.V screen by which it takes our consciousness away from where we are. It makes us absent minded and also that’s how the soul gets trapped in matter from the spiritual level to the material level, and then we discussed about how this mind can also act as a mirror because it normally shapes our perception of the outer world. It also shapes our perception of ourselves, and when the mirror of the mind is cleaned, that is what chanting does, and we concluded that point. Before that we also discussed about how the mind acts for short-term, focuses our vision on short-term things whereas the intelligence looks at long-term.
So, now ceto darpanam we discussed. Now we will focus on marjanam. Marjanam means to clean. So, marjanam is cleaning. Now we have mandir marjana, we have gundicha marjanam, where we talk about cleaning. Now usually when we talk about cleaning we talk it in physical terms, e.g. there is some dark spot on the floor, or there is some spot on the clothes. So, we think of it as a physical act. The mind is itself not a physical thing. So, because it is not a physical thing, so cleaning it is also not a physical activity. The mind is subtle, the impurity is – the un-cleanliness in it is also subtle, and therefore the cleaning process for that is also subtle. Now the result – we will talk about it further how to clean the mind. The result when the mind is clean it becomes serene. Serene means it becomes very peaceful, very calm, and Krishna talks about this in 6.27, he says –
praśānta-manasaṁ hy enaṁ
yoginaṁ sukham uttamam
So, the verse itself is very peaceful sounding. Prasanta manasam yenam – that persons mind becomes prasanta, very peaceful. yoginaṁ sukham uttamam – at that time the yogi experiences uttama sukha, the transcendental happiness. How will this happen? upaiti śānta-rajasaṁ – the mode of passion in such a person has gone. Upaiti – santa. So, when the passion is gone, brahma-bhūtam akalmaṣam – brahma bhuta, that yogi has understood one’s spiritual identity, akalmasam. Kalmasa is impurity, akalmasha is – there is no more impurities.
So, Krishna says, “This mind which is clean, which has no impurities, that becomes peaceful or serene.” Now we talk about say pure water or clean water, now what means is that water has some additional things to it which are unclean, and then we have some water purifier which removes that. So, like that our consciousness is originally pure. The soul is a part of God, and as God is all pure, the soul is also pure, but when the soul gets connected with – just as water when it mixes with impure things, then it becomes impure. So, like that the soul when it comes in contact with various material stimuli it gets affected.
Now when we chant the holy names – the holy name is the way by which by the soul comes in contact with Krishna, and that contact with Krishna purifies. So, the natural desire of the soul is to serve Krishna, and by the contact with material sense objects the soul gets many desires other than the desire to serve Krishna, and these desires are impurities. Now when we talk about serving Krishna, there itself is a lot of variety. Different devotees can serve Krishna in different ways. That happens in the spiritual world where there are different rasas, in which different devotees serve, and in the spiritual world also we can serve according to our inspirations. So, there is a variety within the principle of service also, but when we have a desire other than the desire to serve Krishna, that is impurity, and that impurity is what causes misery. So, when we chant the holy names the contact with Krishna removes other desires, and when the desires other than the desire to serve Krishna are removed, then that is the cleansing of the mind.
So, we have Bhakti Vinod thakur’s song where he says, “Krishna Das ai biswas korle to aar dukha nai” He says that, “If we can just have the faith that I am a servant of Krishna, then there will be no more misery.” So, I will discuss in the next part about this what it means to say no more misery, but the point is that this chanting of the holy names helps us gain realization that I am a servant of Krishna. So, this works both ways. In one sense we chant in a mood of service. Prabhupada said that, “We chant in the mood that – “Please engage me in your service Krishna.” That is one thing, but chanting itself infuses the mood of service within us.
Once I giving a class about chanting, and then one devotee asked that, “Actually I am afraid to chant.” – “Why?” – “When we pray to Krishna, Krishna please engage me in my service, but I already have too much service. So, if Krishna gives me more service I will be in big trouble. So, I am afraid whether I should chant or not?”
So, actually when we say, “Krishna please engage me in your service.” It is not so much that we are asking Krishna for more service, we are more of asking Krishna for a service attitude, because even Krishna knows that we have only 24 hours a day. So, nobody expects us to be at two places at the same time and do two things. That human limitation is there for all of us, but actually what we need is the service attitude. So, if we have the service attitude, then we become connected with Krishna. So, the prayer is more for a service attitude, and chanting connects us with Krishna, so it also grants us that service attitude.
Just when we chant more and more, we feel, “Yes, I want to serve Krishna. So, in that sense it purifies us – “ceto darpana marjanam.” So, when there are other desires – sensual desires – any kind of desires, when they become very strong – if we just keep chanting, then gradually we will find all those other desires subside, and our consciousness becomes clear. So, the other desires are beaten back – just like if say enemy soldiers are attacking, and when they are attacking, then if there is continuous defensive fire, then the enemy soldiers are charging forwards, but when there is continuous fire going on, they are held back by that. They may still keep coming, but when the defensive fire goes one there will be casualties, and the will fall and eventually they will stop.
So, like that when selfish desires starts coming into our consciousness – the chanting of the holy name is like defensive fire. Just keep chanting, keep chanting, you may feel like chanting, but if you keep chanting, if you keep chanting, then gradually the desires go down, and then they subside. There is a practical way also. When the worldly desires start becoming too much – if we chant we will find this ceto darpana marjanam happening. We will find the worldly desires getting beaten back, and the next part is – when we do this ceto darpana marjanam – the second part it is said, bhava mahadavagni nirvanam.
So, agni is fire. Davagni is a forest fire, and mahadavagni is a great forest fire. So, forest fire is already itself big, but mahadavagni is a very great forest fire, and the point of talking about the forest fire is that it is something which cannot be so easily extinguished by human efforts.
Sometimes in the forest when wild fires break out – sometimes they are so big that even with the best firebrigades and the best technology, still sometimes they burn for days and weeks. So, there the forest fire is much bigger than what is the human power to extinguish, and what is required at that time are rains. When the rains comes, then the fires gets extinguished, otherwise they just burn huge swaths of forests and then only when all the fire is burned, they get extinguished.
So, mahadavagnin means that it is such a great fire that it cannot be extinguished by human effort. In our life we all face different kinds of problems, and we do put in efforts to solve the problems, and we can solve some specific problems. I fall sick, I take some medicine, then I get better. I lose a job, then I find another job. At a material level we can and we should work to solve whatever problems we have, but we cannot solve the problematic materialistic existence itself. One problem will go and another problem will come. Then third problem will come, fourth problem will come. This problematic nature of material existence – that can be rectified only by Krishna’s mercy..
Bhava Maha davagni nirvapanam – bhava is material existence which is filled with the various problems that gets extinguished – the forest fire gets extinguished by the chanting of the holy names. So, this is actually taking about the stage of becoming liberated from material existence. So, in a sense if you consider these fruits of chanting – in the first two the material existence itself is ended – ceto darpana marjanam – the impure desires go away, and then our consciousness rises above the material level. Bhava maha davagni nirvapanam. So, this happens ultimately when we become liberated from material existence, and while we are in material existence also we can experience relief from misery to the extent we are absorbed in Krishna.
mad-āśrayāḥ kathā mṛṣṭāḥ
śṛṇvanti kathayanti ca
tapanti vividhās tāpā
Kapil Dev in third canto while instructing mother Devahuti says that, “My devotees when they absorb themselves in me – tapanti vividhas thapa – there are various miseries which are there, but the devotees don’t experience – naitān mad-gata-cetasaḥ, because their consciousness is absorbed in me, they don’t experience those miseries. So, it’s like say it is very hot outside, and then we are feeling uncomfortable, but we come inside the air-conditioned room. Now as soon as we come inside the air-conditioned room we feel relief. The heat is there outside, but inside the air-conditioned room there is relief. So, like that in the material world there is going to be misery, but as soon as we absorb ourselves in remembrance of Krishna, that is like coming inside, that is like bringing our consciousness in an air-conditioned room. So, that connection with Krishna, that remembrance of Krishna, that gives us relief. So, the relief ultimately comes at the end of the material existence, but even while in the material existence we experience some relief.
Bhava maha davagni nirvapanam
Through this two stages – when our material desires are cleansed away by the chanting, and when our consciousness is raised above the material level by absorption in Krishna, then the material existence ends. What does it mean to raise our consciousness above the material level? As long as we are in the material world, the material problems will be there, and they will affect us, but the magnitude of the effect varies depending on our consciousness.
Say, like now a hurricane happened yesterday. Some effects are there today also. So, now if we are on the road where the stormy winds are going along, or where there are some flooding happening, then we are right in the middle of the trouble, and we will be very worried, but if a rescue helicopter has come and the helicopter has raised us above, then we are still concerned, “Ok, what is the damage? Are any of my friends or any relatives or acquaintances are in trouble.” We will be concerned, but we will not feel personally threatened because we have been lifted above. So, like that as long as we are in the material world, if there are problems in the material level they will affect us, but if our consciousness is also at the material level, we will feel very threatened by the problems. It’s like I am on the ground and there is flooding on the ground, but if we chant and we raise our consciousness to the spiritual level, we remember that I am a soul, I am a servant of Krishna, whatever happens I will be serving Krishna, then that brings security, that raises our consciousness, and then although the problem is there we don’t feel so burdened by the problem, we don’t feel so threatened by the problem.
That’s what Bhakti Vinod Thakur says, “Krishna Das ai biswas korle to aar dukha nai.” So, if we are convinced that I will serve Krishna, then whatever situation I am put in, I will serve Krishna in some way or other, but if I am attached to things, then if the circumstance is not there, then I feel very disturbed. That’s how this bhava davagni nirvapanam – now we become relieved from the miseries of material existence by absorption in Krishna.
Q:1 – When we say that by ceto darpana marjanam we move to bhava maha davagni nirvapanam, so is it intellectualizing or is it actually experiencing?
CCP: Both aspects are there in it. Generally we need to be guided by the intelligence. So, even intellectually understanding that I am not the body, I am the soul, that also gives us some motivation to tolerate bodily sufferings, but that alone is not enough. So, we need to experience. So, experience doesn’t necessarily mean – I get some mystical vision by which I see that I am a soul. But experience can also mean that when we connect with Krishna, when we remember Krishna, when we feel some higher fulfilment in the remembrance of Krishna, that itself can be an indicator for us that there is a higher reality, that I can get relief in that higher reality, and when I get relief in that higher reality then whatever is the lower reality, I can tolerate it.
So, I will give you an example for this, that say there is a small baby – when a baby is new born, she doesn’t even know that there is my mother and my mother loves me. She is just born crying and she is put on the mothers breast, and she drinks milk, but for initially she is not aware of anything but slowly and surely she starts becoming aware, “This is not just some milk coming from somewhere. There is a person who loves me. That person is giving me milk.” All that awareness grows gradually, and then say it is a cold night, and the baby is shivering and the mother sees that, and the mother puts a blanket on the baby. Now when the baby is very small, she will not understand anything, “I was trembling and now I am feeling comfortable.” That’s what she will sense, but as she grows up and she understands that my mother loves me, then even if her eyes are closed, even if she is asleep, still when she feels the warmth of the blanket she knows, “Oh my mother must have put my blanket on me.” Now at this stage the eyes are not open. So, she has not seen the mother, but just from the warmth and the comfort of the blanket, she understands the background, “This is my mother’s love for me.” And that mother’s love is being expressed by the blanket being put on my body. So, similarly initially when we start practicing bhakti – now we just come to a temple or we come to kirtan and dance, it feels good. Now why it feels good? What is the source of that good feeling, we don’t know anything. It’s like a baby who is putting the mouth at the mother’s breast, and getting some nice feeling, “Oh, it is good!” But it doesn’t know anything. “From where is this good, who is giving me this good, why is this good feeling coming?” We don’t know anything, but as we grow spiritually then, whenever we absorb ourselves in Krishna, whether it is in studying sastras, whether it is in worshipping the deity or chanting the holy names or doing kirtan – we experience some uplifting feeling, we experience some purifying, solace giving, strengthening feeling, and as we grow spiritually, then we connect that experience with Krishna’s love.
So, the experience of relief we get when we absorb ourselves in Krishna, but to connect that with Krishna’s love – just like the blanket – the baby at one particular time will connect, “Oh, this blankets warmth and comfort, that is the expression of my mother’s love. Similarly for us at our sadhaka stage – now our spiritual eyes are not yet open. So, we can’t see Krishna, but the comfort and relief that we experience in the remembrance of Krishna, that is – if we see with the eyes of knowledge, we understand that this is an expression of Krishna’s love for me.
So, that is why I said, “There is am=n experience, but to connect that experience with Krishna’s love we need knowledge. Without that I will have the experience – I came to the temple, I felt so nice, I felt so peaceful when I came to the temple, but then I just go back and go on with my life. If I don’t have the knowledge, I think, “Ok, sometimes I go to some places, I feel good. So, like that I came to the temple and I felt good, and I went away.” So, that is why we need to get experience, and the process of bhakti gives us experience, but from the experience to make the connection – what does this experience mean? For that we need knowledge also.
So, knowledge alone is not enough. We could say at one level the experience is enough, but the problem is that if we don’t understand the experience, we don’t connect the experience with Krishna directly, then we will not follow a process to get that experience again. So, that’s why both are required. We have to intellectually understand the nature of the material world. At the same time we also have to practice bhakti which gives us experience of higher reality.
Q: What is intuition?
CCP: Actually – usually as said, we talked about the mind in negative terms – the mind is short termed, impulsive, and the intelligence is long-termed, thoughtful, but Krishna also talks about the mind, that it can be the friend and it can be the enemy. So, sometimes we may also get some what people call as the hunches from within. That is my hunch. I should do like this. So, quite often we do that and it turns out to be right. So, there is a voice which can speak from within. So, it is not that whatever the voice speaks from within, it is always bad. So, the intuition refers to the inner voice coming which sometimes can tell us good also. So, this can be at multiple levels. At one level – at the highest level you could say it is Krishna speaking as the super- soul. Krishna also guides us. At another level it can be our conscience speaking.
Conscience is basically our sense of right and wrong. Now the conscience is not always right about what is right, because sometimes our conscience may also be culturally conditioned. So, that is why we have to be careful whether the conscience agrees with sastas or not, but conscience can also be a source of telling us, “Ok you should do this, you should not do this.” And then there is the satwic intelligence also. So, that means that if we are in goodness – the suddenly some idea comes, “This is what I should be doing.”
So, ultimately we can say,
Mattah smritir jnanam apohanam cha – ultimately everything comes from Krishna, but there are stages within it also through which it comes. So, some of it can be – if we have habitually heard about something. Say, since childhood we have been told, “This is right, this is wrong.” You have heard in classes repeatedly that, what is right and what is wrong. Then when we are doing something, “Aey, you should not be doing this.” Or “You should be doing this.” That voice that comes along, that is the voice of the conscience which is telling us, and then sometimes we have been thinking about a particular subject, but at a particular point the things fall into piece, just like a puzzle falling into pieces. So, that is also possible.
So, usually our parameter for deciding whether we should do something or not is, if it matches with guru, sadhu, sastra we do it, and if it doesn’t then we at least have a pause button to check, maybe consult somebody else or wait for sometime, or think a little bit more deeply, and sometimes we may feel very strong hunches and we feel that, “I should do like this.”, and we may have to learn from experience. We may do it, and sometimes it turns out, “Yea, it was a good thing that I did it.”, and sometimes it turns out that it is not all that good. It was a short-sighted decision. So, there can be the intuition which directs us in the right direction, and there can be the Krishna’s voice, there can be the conscience or there can be our own satwic intelligence, but it is not easy to identify, that is why we need to look at ourselves over a period of time. Sometimes we may resist that particular voice, sometimes we may hear that voice, and over a period of time we will be able to discern which voice is right or which voice is not right.
So, generally speaking Krishna wants to guide us, and to the extent when the decision is clear about right and wrong, and at that time we choose the right thing. There are certain situations what is right and what is wrong it is not so clear, but there are certain situations when what is right and wrong is clear. So, if when what is right and what is wrong is clear, we chose the right thing at that time, then we are showing Krishna that I want to be guided, and then when things are not so clear also, Krishna will make it clear for us, but if we don’t make the big decisions when they are clear, what I should do – if we take the wrong choices at that time, then Krishna says, “Ok, you don’t want guidance then I will not give guidance.” Then our intuitions may not be so prudent.
Let’s move on to now – kairava chandrika vitaranam –
So, kairava is a lotus, but it is a special kind of lotus. One is sometimes which is usually thought of as white lotus, but more than the colour it is a lotus that blossoms in moonlight. So, this is a flower which blossoms in moonlight.
Now normally we talk about flowers, say like lotuses which blossoms in the sunlight, but this is a flower that blossoms in moonlight. So, now the significance here is that, that chandrika is – śreyaḥ-kairava-candrikā-vitaraṇaḿ – So, candrika vitaranam means – So, candra is the moon, candrika – it is feminine, usually it refers to the moon rays or moon light, vitaranam is spreading. So, the holy name – the chanting of the holy name spreads the moonlight and what does that mean? It spreads the moonlight and it causes this flower to blossom. So, this flower will not blossom as long as the moonlight doesn’t come, and it is not that the moon has to be there – moon is somewhere there in the sky line, it is not very bright. The moonlight has to come and come in contact with the flower.
When it comes in contact with the flower, then the moon blossoms, then the flower blossoms. So, now the holy name – so, Krishna is like the moon over here. Krishna is there in our heart, Krishna is there in the spiritual world, but we don’t perceive him. Krishna is there in our consciousness, in our heart, but we are not conscious of him.
The holy name is the means by which we become conscious of Krishna. Like the moon is there in the sky, but somehow if there is roof in between or whatever, the moonlight is not coming to the flower, then the flower will not blossom. So, like that Krishna is there in our heart, and the soul is there next to it, but because the two are not coming in contact – so, the blossoming of the flower is not taking place, but the holy name is what brings the soul in contact with Krishna, and that’s how the soul’s consciousness blossoms, and the fully blossomed consciousness is the Krishna consciousness.
So, sreyaha – sreyaha refers to long-term good. So, Prabhupada would often contrast sreya with preyas. Preyas is short term and sreyas is long term. So, this blossoming of consciousness leads to the long term good of the soul – our long term good.
Now what exactly do we mean by blossoming of consciousness? Our consciousness is our fundamental energy. Whatever we do, we do it based on how we direct our consciousness. If I study and I do well in my exams, If I a doctor, If I an engineer, if I am a house wife, whatever I am doing in my life I am doing it based on my consciousness.
So, whatever we do, the fundamental energy for that is our consciousness. Now our consciousness – it is restricted or expanded based on our attachments. So, for example if I am attached to something, if I am attached to something then I experience emotions only in relationship with that object of my attachment, and I don’t experience emotions elsewhere. So, for example Dhrtarastra was attached to Duryodhana, and because of his attachment to Duryodhana he could not tolerate even the slightest distress of Duryodhana, and so his consciousness because of his attachment to Duryodhana – he was very focussed on his emotions in relationship with Duryodhana, but that very attachment made him completely desensitized to what say the Pandavas were going through.
Now the Pandavas were his own nephews, and because they did not have a father, so they were supposed to be like his own sons also. But he had them play a gamble match, and he had all the wealth taken away, he had their wives dishonoured, he had them exiled, and throughout it all he did not feel any pain, he did not feel the pain of the Pandavas at all. He felt only the elation – “Oh Duryodhana has won, Duryodhana has go so much.” So, what has happened, when we are attached our scope of emotions becomes very limited. We experience emotions with that particular object of attachment, but we don’t experience emotions in respect to other things.
See, if a person is an alcoholic, then that person experiences emotions on in relation with alcohol. I just have to have this alcohol. For getting that alcohol they may sometimes abuse people, they will steal money, they may do physical violence, and all they pain that they are causing – that attachment desensitize them to everything else, or say for example when people become sexually violent then they cannot experience any emotion from the other persons perspective. They objectify the other person, and then all that they are seeing is, “Ok, I want to enjoy.” But what the other person is going through, they just cant experience anything.
So, when or attachment constrict the scope of our consciousness – so, based on the attachments that we have, we can experience the emotions only in respect to certain things, and we can’t experience any emotions apart from that. So, when we say the blossoming of the consciousness – that means what we experience emotions in relationships with, that expands, and as it expands more and more – Krishna is the source of everything. So, when we are able to experience emotions in relationship with Krishna, that time we are actually having Krishna consciousness.
So, if I come to a temple and there are deities in the temple, but there are often people – sometimes say in the Janmashami – nowadays it happens especially in India – Always it used to happen, not just nowadays – So, at that time politicians, they often come to the temple, but when they come to the temple they also come with their photographers. They want their photographs to come to show that on Janmashtami day they came to temple. So, they have come to the temple not to take darshan, but to give darshan. They want the world to see, “Oh! I am so pious, I have come to the temple.”
So, what has happened? Although they have come to the temple, they are not experiencing emotions in relationship with the deities. They are experiencing emotions only relation to how much people are observing them, how many people are admiring me for the piety that I am showing over here. So, our attachments, they shape the scope of our emotions, and when our attachment is to Krishna we experience emotions in relationship with Krishna. So, what the holy name does is – because it brings us in contact with Krishna, it helps us to experience emotions in relationship with Krishna, and normally in our sadhaka stage we experience emotions, but not so much in relationship with Krishna.
Yes, they may show some emotions, some manifestations of Krishna which we can connect with, and we feel emotions, but in other places we don’t feel much emotions, but as we expose ourselves to Krishna more and more through the practice of bhakti, then our consciousness starts getting more and more getting connected with Krishna, more and more attached to Krishna, and then as we get attached to Krishna, then we start experiencing more and more relationships in relationship with him, and when we talk about emotions in relationship with Krishna it is not just – I come in front of the temple and I see the deities, “Oh it is so beautiful, I feel very nice.” Yes, we feel uplifted when we take darshan of the deities, that is one emotion, but there can be emotions in various ways.
Now if say we are going out for book distributions, and lot of people get Krishna’s mercy in the form of books, and that time we feel emotions, “Yes, I was able to do some nice service for Krishna.” That is also an emotion in relationship with Krishna. So, if we are contributing to building a temple, and then the temple comes up beautifully, and then we feel joy at that time, “Oh, such a wonderful temple has come up for Krishna. That is also an emotion in relationship to Krishna.” So, there can be various emotions in relationship with Krishna, but when we start becoming emotionally connected with Krishna, then our consciousness is expanding.
Srila Prabhpupada in one lecture said, “How do we know that you are Krishna conscious?” So, there are many different answers that he gives at different times, but in this lecture I found it very striking. He said, “If you come in the temple and you take darshan of the deities and you feel that Krishna is asking you, what are you doing for me? If you feel like that, then you are Krishna conscious.” It’s amazingly pragmatic definition of Krishna consciousness. Prabhupada did not say, “You chant 64 rounds, you chant Radhe, Radhe, Shyam, Shyam.” All that is also Krishna consciousness, but for us those levels are not so easily achieved, but when we feel that, “I am a servant of Krishna and I should be doing something for Krishna – “ So, when you feel that Krishna is asking me, “What are you doing for me, you are Krishna conscious.” So, then we are seeing our life meant for his service, and we try to serve him.
So, what chanting does is, it makes us emotionally sensitized to Krishna. When we chant nicely we can become emotionally sensitized to Krishna. That means that when we study sastras, when we take darshan of the deities, when we do services, we become more aware – yes this is actually Krishna, and I am serving Krishna, and as this process becomes more and more expanded – we see this at a very high level in Caitanya Mahprabhu, that any contact with Krishna – he would just hear the holy name and he would go into ecstasy, tears would come from his eyes and his limbs would tremble. That will happen because that contact with Krishna is happening much much stronger for him, and thus he moves onwards. So, thus he is exhibiting this expanded consciousness in a far greater degree, but that expanded consciousness is possible for all of us also, and the chanting does that. It expands our consciousness from whatever scope it is in right now towards – in expanded consciousness there will be experience of more and more emotions in relationship with Krishna.
Now, there are two broad approaches to seeing the expansion of consciousness in relationship to Krishna. One is that, we just consider all worldly emotions as material, and we say, “I want to enjoy in relationship with Krishna.” So, no material emotions, I want to only experience spiritual emotions. That is one way of looking at it, where we see the material and spiritual in competition with each other, but another way of looking at it is that ultimately if you want to experience emotions in relationship with Krishna, it’s a growth in selflessness, and actually every relationship that we have, every relationship to some extent forces us to develop some degree of selflessness.
Any relationship that I form – if I have to sustain the relationship, I cannot always do what I like to do. I have to do something which the other person wants me to do, and then that brings us a certain level of selflessness within us. Now of course it maybe that that person is also doing something for me, and I am doing something for that person. So, then we could say that there is selfishness in that, but still that is more than just self-centredness. So, we can see in one sense, through every relationship that we have, there is an opportunity to grow in selflessness. Every relationship, whenever we act in a committed way in that relationship, we grow in selflessness through that relationship, and as we grow further and further we move towards Krishna, and we attain the highest selflessness in our relationship with Krishna.
So, the sreya kanrdriva candrika – sreya means long-term good. That long term good comes by our connection with Krishna, and so rather than seeing our relationship – material and spiritual as competitors – sometimes they can be competitors, but at other times we can see them as a progression. See, every relation forces me to come out of myself, and to come out of myself , and to do something which I may not like to do.
Now if our relationships are with other people who are also spiritual – if our family members are spiritual, our friends are spiritual, then sometimes doing something which they want us to do also puts us – makes us do something spiritual which we might otherwise have not done.
So, that way we can move forward in our relationship with Krishna. I will talk more about this in a later verse when we talk about detachment, attachment and commitment. Three different concepts are there, which I will be talking in the later verse, but at this stage as we chant more and more, we become more and more emotionally sensitized with various manifestations of Krishna, and that’s how the flower blossoms.
Any comments or questions?
Q: When we go into the temple we may not always go with the mood of selfless service. So, what can we do?
CCP: See, firstly selfless is not less for the self. Now when I think that I have to be selfless, I think that I will lose this, I will lose that – it is not necessary like that. When we become selfless actually the self connects deeper with Krishna, and there is more for the self. It is not less for the self. It is the material conception that when I become selfless, say if I have some money and I give it to charity, then I lose that money. So, to be selfless in the material conception means to have less for the self, but it is not like that in the spiritual conception.
The less our consciousness is in ourselves, the more our consciousness is available for absorption to Krishna. So, that idea of selflessness as sort in some way deficient for ourselves – that is wrong. So, now at our stage we don’t have this realization. So, rather than thinking of – so, if we consider that say there is a circle of what interests me, and there is a circle of bhakti – so, we find the intersection of the two. That means say, if I like kirtans, I like to play mridanga, I like to dance in kirtans, I like to say decorate something – that is my interest, and that is also something which I can do in bhakti. So, that place where what interests us and what is in the scope of bhakti – the intersection point is where we will be able to stay steadily situated.
Now of course there will be times when for the sake of service we will have to do things which may not interest us, because that is what is the need of the hour, “Now I don’t like it so much, but that is what I have been told to do, I will do it” But if we want to have longevity in our bhakti, if we want to do bhakti for our life, then we have to find this intersection of what is my interest and what is in the scope of bhakti. In fact the whole principle of varnasrama is that. The principle is that – A brahmana likes to be intellectual worker. So, intellectual work is in the circle of interest of the brahmana, and in bhakti also there is study of scriptures which is intellectual. So, then the brahmanas are told, “You would like to study? But study Krishna’s books in relation to Krishna, and teach Krishna’s message.” So, varnasrma means, we situate ourselves in that section of intersection between our interest and bhakti.
So, at our stage when we go to the temple, we cannot expect artificially to be completely selfless. It is not practically possible. So, what we need to do is, first we have to become devotees, then we can become pure devotees. If I think that suddenly I will jump to pure devotion, it’s just not going to work. Yes, we have to have that aspiration for pure devotion, but at a practical level we have to connect with Krishna in some way or other, and then as I connect with Krishna, and I stabilize that connection with Krishna, then there will be selflessness that will come in the relationship. So, first we have a relationship, and whatever we do …45.25-28… simply some person comes to the temple, and they like to – that person likes to may be make flower garlands – ok, that’s what they like and that’s what they look for Krishna, and gradually the relationship with Krishna develops through that.
So, we don’t necessarily have to worry too much in the initial stages. In the initial stage the important thing is to connect with Krishna on a steady basis, and as we are steadily connected, then gradually the selflessness within that service will become more and more. So, when advanced devotees they come to the temple their mood is more of service – “Ok, what service can I do over here?” and they may say, “Ok, what are the ways services are happening in this temple? What all is happening and how can as I assist?” So, their focus will be more and more on Krishna, and that is something which will come gradually. So, initially we need to focus on making our connection with Krishna steady, and that steadiness also requires some level of selflessness. That means instead of going to – I may feel like going to some movie, or I may be going to some sports match or whatever, but I come to a temple instead. That itself is – I am giving up my self-centred pleasures for coming to Krishna.
So, gradually as we move forward by being situated in that position of what interests us, and what is in the scope of bhakti, we will solidify our connection with Krishna. So, initially we may not know what it is also. So, we just do what we are told to do, but we keep observing ourselves. “Ok, this is what I really like to do. This is what I can do well also.”, and then over a period of years it will be revealed to us what service we should be doing, but at this stage we can focus primarily on making our connection with Krishna steady.
Q: Is cessation of misery not stable unless the soul comes to experience Krishna?
CCP: Yes, that is our understanding that the soul needs pleasure somewhere or the other. Say if the soul doesn’t get spiritual pleasure, then even if one somehow becomes distanced from material pleasure, search for pleasure will push one again over there. That’s why frustration is not the qualification for devotion. Just because I am frustrated with material life, that does not mean I will be qualified for devotional life. Frustration can become a spur. When I am frustrated in material life, I start enquiring what is higher? But then there has to be some positive attraction to Krishna that has to be developed, and that happens by the mercy of the devotees, by the mercy of the spiritual master. So, just if I am frustrated with material life, and that’s why I come to spiritual life, then it is not that spiritual life is free from frustration.
In spiritual life also there will be frustration. Then I will go back to material life again because of that. So, we need some motive higher than just the avoidance of trouble. So, because of trouble in material life I come to spiritual life, and because of trouble in spiritual life I go back to material life. No, we have to have some higher understanding, higher conviction, higher attraction, and then we will be able to move on steadily. So, yes the first two stages talk about rejection of the freedom from material consciousness, and then it talks about spiritual consciousness.
Q: Is it that when we start practicing bhakti and we come to the level of contact with Krishna – sreya candrika vitaranam, the intelligence is what the way we experience Krishna, and the mind interferes but then the intelligence tells no to the mind.
CCP: Yes, that is true. In the Bhagavad-gita also it is said, “buddhi-grāhyam atīndriyam” So, that actually buddhi grahi, it is actually experienced through buddhi – atindriyam- that which
is beyond the senses.
So, what this means is that if we consider, this is the physical level, this is the mental level, this is the intellectual level – or rather not levels – you could say, this is the senses, this is the mind, this is the intelligence, this is the soul, this is the supersoul. You consider five like this.
Now, like earlier I said, when there is a pure devotee, the soul is connected with the supersoul directly by priti, by affection. The soul is connected with the supersoul because of affection. Now in our case, here there are senses – you can say below there are sense objects. So, we are dragged downwards from the senses to the sense objects, and then the mind also gets attracted to sense objects, and the intelligence also gets pulled down. So, when we start practicing bhakti, and we start experiencing Krishna – now at the very advanced stage we are experiencing Krishna constantly.
At the sadhaka stage as we become purified we experience Krishna more and more, but it is not that we are experiencing Krishna constantly. There is an intermittent experiences. So, at that time, so this connection – for the sadhaka, for the siddha –there is direct connection between the soul and the supersoul, but for us the connection is like this. The connection is – through the intelligence we connect with Krishna. That means through the intelligence I commit myself, “This is what I am going to do?” So, that is what it means – because our consciousness doesn’t focus on Krishna steadily – so, it is only through the intelligence that we are able to focus the consciousness, and that is why it is said, through the intelligence we experience Krishna. It is the soul only who is experiencing Krishna, but it is through the intelligence. So, the intelligence becomes the channel by which the soul connects with Krishna – buddhi-grāhyam atīndriyam – and then the mind is pulling down.
So, now – I will just use the English word – then I will talk about Sanskrit concept a little bit. See there is conviction, and there is realization. Conviction is of the intelligence. Now I study the philosophy, I analyse and I am convinced “Ok, this worldly things – they don’t give happiness.” So, I am intellectually convinced, but that does not mean that the mind has accepted it. The mind is still going to propose. So, it is like a simple example. Say if you go out on the roads – there are many bill boards – “Buy this, Buy this, Buy this” or on the T.V there are commercials – “Buy this, Buy this.”
Say, now we become convinced that, “Ok, I am not going to “ say they are advertising a new car. I decided that I am not going to buy a new car. Now just because I have decided not to buy a new car, that does not mean that the advertisers are going to stop advertising the car. Isn’t it? Even if I decided that I am not going to buy, the advertisers are going to continue advertising. So, it is like that – the mind is like Maya’s internal advertising agent. So, even say with my intelligence I am convinced, “No, I am not going to do this.” But even if I am convinced to not buy something, the mind is not going to stop promoting it, the mind is not going to stop advertising it. So, that means with the intelligence I don’t want to do this. I have decided not to do it, but still the mind keeps proposing. Still the mind keeps pushing, “C’mon do it, do it, do it” So, the conviction is what enables us to say no to the mind, but as we keep practicing bhakti more and more, then the mind itself stops proposing.
So, when the mind itself stops proposing – actually at one level that is the realization. So, the mind itself doesn’t say – say for example some of us might be eating meat before we came to bhakti. Now if we see somebody eating – we are travelling and we see somebody is eating meat. Now almost no devotee is actually attracted to eating meat. Prasadam is literally a higher taste. So, what has happened? The mind has stopped proposing itself. So, actually when that happens – so, when the mind stops proposing, then bhakti becomes joyful. As long as the mind keeps proposing, “C’mon do this, do this, do this.” We have to keep saying no to it, and that is why the process of bhakti may not be that joyful. There is joyfulness when we connect with Krishna, but whenever the mind starts proposing, “Do this” then we think, “May be no – yes – maybe later, ok…” just thinking so many things. So, we are distracted from Krishna at that time, but gradually when the mind itself says, when the mind itself understand that there is no pleasure over here, and the mind stops proposing – so, then what happens is – bhakti becomes very joyful because there is no distraction coming from within itself. That is why there is mind control and there is mind conversion. We have to control the mind as we are practicing bhakti, and that requires the intelligence, but by the steady practice of bhakti, the mind itself gets converted. Converted means, that the mind itself eventually starts becoming attracted to Krishna, or doesn’t not start getting attracted to worldly things, and that is the stage when the mind becomes a friend. So, that takes a long time.
That’s why it is primarily right now – we have to connect with Krishna through the intelligence and we experience Krishna primarily through the intelligence.
Q: At the sadhaka stage, what are the emotions that we can experience in relation to Krishna? Is it when Krishna is pleased we feel satisfied? But apart from that also there are other emotions –
CCP: Yes, it is not that devotees don’t have their own desires. Now a devotee can also have a desire to serve Krishna. Like Srila Prabhupada said that, “My spiritual master told me to preach in the West.” Now, that I have done. Now I want to preach in India. Now he focussed a large part of his later life in India. Now, that is not that – it is his own desire means that it is a non devotional desire. It is a devotional desire only, pure desire, but it is his own desire.
So, similarly now our desires may not be that pure, but even we can have some desire to serve Krishna in a particular way, and even if there is some amount of maybe selfishness or whatever there in it, but still it is a desire to serve Krishna, and that is laudable.
So, in the Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu there is the concept of Udipana. Udipana is English – spiritual stimulus. So, all of us – we will have our own udipana. So, for example for me when I go and take darshan unless I recite some verse I just don’t experience any connection with Krishna. So, I told once in one class, “When we recite the verses, then we can recite the verses and we can think about the qualities of Krishna that is described in the verse, and then we can meditate on how that same Krishna is over here, and then we can connect with Krishna”, and then after that – one devotee he came to me a couple of days later and told me, “Since you told me that, I am trying that, now when I go in front of Krishna and try to recite a verse, just memor
izing that verse causes so much tension, that whatever bhakti I have goes away in that.” So, I realized that the verses are an Udipana for me, but they are not a Udipana for that devotee.
So, we have to find out what will act as a spiritual stimuli for us. So, for somebody else it might be just going in front of the deities, and they just sing some simple Hare Krishna dhun they sing, and that is what connect them with Krishna, or for somebody else might just behold a beautiful dress of Krishna, and that’s what they focus on.
So, for all of us we will have our own Udipana’s, and as we move forward in our bhakti we find out, “This is what really connects us with Krishna. Maybe we recite some Vaisnava song or not just some vaisnava song – sometimes even one line of a Vaisnava song can resonate so much with us, or line of one song can resonate with us. So, whatever are our Udipana, they are for us the channels that connect us emotionally with Krishna.
So, all of us – we have the experience of – we could say sensual stimuli. Say we all have certain sensual stimuli that agitate us much more than others. Now we may have some weakness for some particular food or a particular activity, whatever it is. Now others may not have that. So, if that is a sensual stimuli which agitates us, then I have to be conscious in avoiding that stimuli or whatever I can do to minimize my exposure to that.
So, just as we customize our practice of bhakti to resist the sensual stimuli that to which we are particularly vulnerable – similarly we need to customize our practice of bhakti so that we can maximize our exposure to the spiritual stimuli that actually connect us with Krishna. So, here we minimize the connection, but here we maximize the connection. So, in material stimuli we minimize the connection, in spiritual stimuli we maximize the connection.
So, now we see it as Krishna giving his mercy to us through that stimuli. So, why is that this particular verse, it just fills me with so much realizations, so much emotions, it illumines me with so much wisdom. Why is it that this line or this particular tune, whatever it is? It is Krishna’s mercy manifesting. So, when we do some service for Krishna that time Krishna is pleased, and we feel emotions, that is definitely true, but there are also certain stimuli which connects us emotionally with Krishna and if we can note that and have those stimuli available for us on a ready basis, then we can fight off our mind much more effectively. It becomes a weapon for fighting off the mind. So, then whatever we experience in emotional relationship with Krishna, we see that as Krishna mercifully manifesting himself through that for us.
So, we do have some things. Now is it that Krishna is pleased with us. Well quite often we have not done anything to please Krishna – just we hear some verse or we have some darshan. We hear some Hare Krishna Mahamatra tune, and we just feel something. So, we feel some emotional contact with Krishna. So, it is more like – Krishna is – yes, we can say Krishna is pleased with us in the sense that Krishna is pleased to give us his mercy. Even if I have not done anything Krishna is giving his mercy through that particular thing for me, and we accept that and we cherish that.
Q: Generally speaking one has to do with pleasing Krishna rather than pleasing himself –
CCP: Yes, certainly it is more about pleasing Krishna than pleasing ourselves. It is not that pleasing Krishna always has to come at the expense of displeasing ourselves. Like say, if somebody makes a joke in the class, and then instead of laughing, I start thinking, “Am I laughing for my pleasure or Krishna’s pleasure?” That would become hyper-analytical. So, usually there is a big section where there is a intersection of the two. I think the real problem comes when something is essential for Krishna service and we refuse to do it because I don’t like it. So, that is when the problem will come up, but at least I am not at such an advanced level where I can only work for Krishna’s pleasure.
At least all of us have our natures, and the whole principle of varnasrama in my understanding is to help us serve accordin
g to our nature, and when we say what is our nature, that simply means, doing that is natural for me. The natural I can also say means pleasing to me.
For a brahmana to study sastra – study anything which is intellectually stimulating that is pleasing, but then the austerity is to do that for Krishna, do that for promoting Krishna’s cause. So, definitely there will be situations when we may have to do things which we don’t like to do, but in terms of longevity we do need to have something which is according to our nature. Means we could say that is – we find it pleasing, but it is not that we are doing it only because it is pleasing for me. It is in the intersection of serving Krishna and it also in the – of what we like to do.
I think that there is a pastime of Srila Prabhupada which comes in the lilamrita where one devotee asked Srila Prabhupada – Prabhupada was in London, and all the devotees – London was the European headquarters at that time, and there were devotees from different parts of the world, different parts of Europe who had come, and they are reporting to Prabhupada, “This is how the preaching is going on here, this is how the preaching is going on here.”, and there is a devotee who says, “Everybody has something to do for Srila Prabhupada, but I don’t have anything to do.” So, he goes and asks Srila Prabhupada, “Prabhupada, what can I do for you?” Then Srila Prabhupada asks, “What do you want to do for Krishna?” He says, “No Prabhupada whatever you want you tell me I will do it.” Prabhupada said, “What do you want to do for Krishna?” He never thought of this, “Is this is a test? Is Prabhupada testing me?” He said, “No, whatever you want I will do Prabhupada.” The Prabhupada said, “No, first understand our philosophy. Find out what you want to do, and do it for Krishna.” He starts thinking, “What to do?” he said, “Prabhupada I have to think about it.” And then he comes back after few days and then he tells Prabhupada, “I always had this desire to make some artistic things with my hands. So, I was thinking that I will make this mridangas with artificial materials which are available in the West – because we get mridangas from India and they break very easily. So, I will make them with unbreakable materials, they will be easily available and they will stay here – then Prabhupada says, “Yes, your Western godbrothers are very passionate. Make them in such a way that even if they throw the mridagas down they will not break.” It was Ishant Prabhu. So, that is also one way of how we find out what we want to do, and we do it for Krishna.
So, in the long run my understanding is that, that’s what is sustainable, because if we are inspired to something we will do it even when nobody is pushing us to do it. Because if there is something which we are not really very inspired to do, then there always has to be someone to push, “Are you doing it? Are you doing it?” And it is to be accountable to someone, but to make our bhakti dependent on someone else in terms of they having to prod us all the time, that will not make our bhakti so sustainable.
So, if we have that vision or inspiration where we want to do something for Krishna, and we take the blessings of senior devotees – now of course this should not be like a licence for whimsicality, “I want to do this.” The nature of the mind is that – the mind will say, “Whatever you are doing right now that is not your nature.” That’s how the mind will want to take us away from taking up any responsibility in Krishna’s service.
So, often what is our nature also takes some amount of time to discover. So, till then we just have to follow the seniors and learn, and do whatever service that we are doing, but over a period of time that will revealed to us, how we can sustain ourselves.
CCP: That becomes a problem as I said (laughter)
That’s why I feel that especially in any project – in the initial stages the devotees have to have a lot of sacrificing spirit, and as the project grows and there are more devotees, then devotees also can be engaged according to their nature. But if everybody starts thinking, “This is my nature, this is my nature”, and then the project will not grow. So, there is always that balance that has to be done between the individual growth, and the institutional growth.
So, the institutional growth requires some things, but the individual also has to grow in bhakti. So, both – at some places they can go in parallel. Sometime they may go in opposite directions. So, then at least in a community for it to grow there have to be some individuals who are very inspired to do what it takes for the community to grow, and those who are always trying to say that, “This is not my nature.”, then they will themselves not grow in spiritual life.
So, definitely our nature should be not become our excuse for not doing service, and if something is really required then definitely Krishna will be pleased if we go against our nature and do that service.
So, from the individual perspective – See bhakti is – there is always this mood of cooperation. So, the individual should think, “I will do whatever I am told to do.” But the manager should think, “Ok, this person has this nature. I will try to engage them in this nature.” And in that way there will be cooperation. Just like we talk about the say the elderly – The sastras tell from that those who are elderly they should renounce home, they should go to the forest and they should focus on spirituality. That is from the individual perspective, but from the society’s perspective, it is said that the ksatriya’s responsibility is to protect 5 categories of people, and one of them is the elderly.
So, ksatriya should not think that when people become elderly – “You go to the forest and you take care of yourselves.” No, the management should think that it is our responsibility. Now these are people who have lived throughout, they have served throughout, it is our responsibility to take care of them. So, there has to be that cooperative spirit from both sides. So, the individuals are ready to be selfless and do whatever is required from the community, and as the community leaders also are seeing, “Ok, for this person if this is the nature, let us see how we can engage then in that nature. When that cooperative spirit is there, then both the individual and the institution both can grow.
Q: Is it that there are some special kind of intelligence that enables us to move towards Krishna, because sometimes there are people who are very intelligent materially, but they are not at all inclined towards Krishna.
CCP: Yes, definitely. See, even in material life they talk about different kinds of intelligence. Sometime they talk about 7 kind of intelligences. Special linguistic intelligence, mathematical intelligence, logical intelligence, interpersonal intelligence. Like that they have different kinds of intelligences.
So, a person might be very good at mathematical intelligence, but that persons language skills may be very poor, just as there can be variety of intelligences even in the material field. So, similarly when we talk about spiritual intelligence it primarily centres on differentiating between the temporary and the eternal, between the short-term and the long-term in terms of the temporary and the eternal, and that intelligence is not something that intellectuals naturally have.
See intellectual means they have information processing capacity. It may be in terms of memorizing things, speaking things, analyzing things. All this are information processing, and those who are intellectuals, means those who have we could say one characteristics of a brahmana – that intelligence – they may not necessarily have all the characteristics of a brahana. So, if they have the information processing capacity – now that is simply a gift that some people get from their previous life. Just like some people may have good looks from their previous life. Some people may have a very healthy physic from their previous life. Just like that some people because of some good karma they would have done in their previous life, they have that capacity for processing information very well.
Now that information processing capacity can be powerfully used in Krishna’s service, but it is not automatic that it will be used in Krishna’s service.
So, Kunti Maharani also said that,
naivārhaty abhidhātuṁ vai
If somebody has a lot of intelligence, they may not feel the need for Krishna, and thus they may not go towards Krishna. So, it is not that intelligence of any kind is always a blessing in the process of bhakti.
So, usually the intelligence that we talk about which is favourable for bhakti, is the intelligence that is based on sastra, the intelligence that is in harmony with the sastra. So, that intelligence is what will take us towards Krishna, and if we use our information processing abilities to strengthen our understanding of that scriptural knowledge, then that is the intelligence that will take us closer towards Krishna.
So, mere information procession capacity is not necessarily anukul to bhakti, although it can be but it is not necessarily anukul to bhakti. Although it can be, but it not in itself, and sometimes even some people who are atheists, they can be brilliant in terms of memorising things, they can be brilliant in terms of analysing things –
Some of the atheistic critics of religion, they are insightful in their own way. They are analysing religion, and they are exposing religion. They are doing an intelligent word over there, but their intelligence is only in terms of scepticism and rejection. They are not moving forwards. So, information processing capacity alone is not the kind of intelligence that takes us closer to Krishna. It is intelligence that is in harmony with scriptures, and the intelligence that deepens about our consciousness that is given in scriptures. That is what takes us closer to Krishna.
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