Shikshashtakam 11 Text 7 Treasure devotional memories to propel your devotion
Workshop at Krishna Institute, Alachua, USA
Transcription of Lecture
Hare Krishna. Let’s begin with the seventh text now.
shunyayitam jagat sarvam
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is now describing the emotion of love in separation. In the previous text we described how his longing for the time when love for will Krishna will lead to exalted feelings of ecstasy – And now within that ecstasy the summit is considered to be love in separation. We will discuss about that later. So, in this verse he says – Govinda Viraha na me. In his viraha, in his separation from Govinda – What is happening?
Yugayitam nimeshena. Nimesha is just one fraction of second. So, 1/12th of a moment it is.
chakshusha pravrishayitam – There is a ocean of tears coming out from the eye.
shunyayitam jagat sarvam – The whole world seems to be like a void to me. Prabhupada says ..1.22.. void, completely empty.
So, we will discuss about this concept of love in separation. So, in Krishna consciousness when we practice sadhana, what are we trying to do? Feeling the presence of Krishna in his absence – So, in his absence means? So, Krishna is present in our heart as the paramatma, but Krishna is bhagavan. We have not yet realized his presence, we have not yet invoked his presence. So, he is absent, but we are training ourselves to feel his presence. By becoming conscious of him, by chanting his holy names, by worshipping his deities, by hearing about him, by remembering his pastimes, we want to feel his presence. The whole purpose of sadhana is – Chaitanya Mahaprabhu – Radharani talks about love in separation. For them, they already have love for Krishna but then they become separated from Krishna. So, right now we have separated from Krishna, but we don’t have love for Krishna. So, we are trying to develop love for Krishna, and that love means – we try to cultivate his remembrance and by that gradually – by consistent practice we invoke his remembrance, we invoke his presence. So, we feel his presence in his absence. That is the process of Krishna Conscious sadhana.
Srila Prabhupada would say that, ‘I never felt separation from my spiritual master.’ Because he said, ‘I was following my spiritual master’s instruction. So, I always felt his presence. So, that is also – In one sense he is not with the spiritual master. The spiritual master has gone back to the spiritual world, but he is feeling the presence to the instructions. So, Prabhupada is feeling his presence – in Gaur Purnima he writes a letter, and he writes, ‘I am feeling so much separation from Vrindavan dham. Today all my Godbrothers, all other devotees they will be celebrating, and I am alone in this foreign land.” There nobody practically know who Caitanya Mahaprabhu is. So what will Srila Prabhupada do? He cannot speak about Caitanya Mahaprabu. The festivities are there in his heart, but there is no way to directly celebrate the festivities. So, he is also in that sense feeling the separation, ‘Oh, I am not in Vrindavan dham, I am not in Mayapur dham, I am away.’ So, we want to feel Krishna’s presence in his absence. He is not right now present directly in his personal form in our heart. We feel his presence.
Here it is said,
shunyayitam jagat sarvam
Without Govinda I feel that the whole world is empty. It is pointless. So, here actually what we miss reflects what we value. Now if I say that something is important, and if we don’t have it for some time, then how much do we miss it? Say suppose the parents have a child, and the young man and the young girl has gone to a distant place for education. If they go there for six months and they don’t call even once, and then they don’t even remember their parents – that means that there is no affection over there. If we value something, if we love something, if we consider something important – then that is not there, we miss it. So, I may say that, I consider Krishna consciousness very important. I will consider so and so thing very important, but we can see how important it is by how much we miss something. So, if I am in the association of devotees, and I say that, “I value the association very much”, but then if I go away from that association how much do I remember that association, how much do I look forward to that association? So, something is – “Oh, that is a nice thing, when I get time I will go there again in future.” That’s something – Ok, I value it at some level –but I cannot live without it. Somehow or other I have to go back in the association. I want the association of devotees. That means that that is an extremely important need for us. So, the highest would be that without it, nothing is of any value. So, that is what Caitanya Mahaprabhu is saying, ‘shunyayitam jagat sarvam.’ The whole world is void –sunya. It has no meaning, it has no value for me.
So, the Pandavas also felt like that. Arjuna also says that, “Now that Krishna has departed – ” He says Yudhisthir that, “Even ksana viyoga – even one moment of separation from that person, loke ya apriya darshana – This whole world was apriya for me. It has become unattractive for me, and that person has forever gone away. What can I do now.” So there also Arjuna is expressing a similar emotion of separation when he says that, “I cannot do anything without Krishna. Nothing has any value without Krishna.”
For a materialistic people, Krishna has no value without the world. For devotees, the world has no value without Krishna. What does it mean? This is actually illustrated in the pastime of Duryodhana. ‘For materialists Krishna or God has no value without the world.’
People ask, “You spend two hours chanting. What do you get out of it? How much money do you get? What do you earn by it?” Unless they can get something in worldly terms – God! What is the value?” Whereas for devotees, the world has no value without Krishna.
So, when Duryodhana had to choose before the Kurukshetra war, what did he do? He had to choose between Krishna’s army – The Yadusena, and he had to chose between that and Krishna, and when both of them – Arjuna and Duryodhana had come, Arjuna had come first. So, actually both of them had come and Duryodhana came a little earlier, Arjuna came a little later. So, Duryodhana came and Krishna was lying down. So, Duryodhana went and sat near Krishna’s head, and Arjuna went and stood near Krishna’s feet. So, Krishna woke up. The first thing he saw was Arjuna. “Oh Arjuna! You are here?” Krishna got up and looked around. So, Krishna said, “Oh Duryodhana, you are also here. What can I do for you?” So, Duryodhana said that, “As you know that there is going to be fight, and I have come to seek an alliance with you” He told to Arjuna, “I have also come with the same purpose.” Then Duryodhana said, “But I came first.” So, then Krishna said, “Yes, but I saw Arjuna first. Anyway Arjuna is younger to you. So, he should be given the choice.” – And Duryodhana wanted to get the best deal over there. So, he said, “Actually both of you are related to me. Therefore, I have decided that I will not fight. I will not raise any weapons.” As he said, “I will not raise any weapons” – then what? “On one side I will there as a non-combatant, I will be an adviser, and on the other side there will be Naryani sena. You can choose whatever you like.”
Now Duryodhana was serious – He thought, “I am lost. What will I do with this Krishna? I want Narayani sena. If Arjuna chooses the Narayani sena, I will lose everything.’ And then Arjuna just gently says, ‘Krishna I want you.” So, Duryodhana was burst with joy at that time. He thought that Arjuna at that time had become sentimentally foolish. To just make a show – “Ok you have chosen Krishna then I will have to settle for the Narayani sena.” (laughter) and he goes back, and when he goes back to the Kauava camp in Hastinapur, he tells, he celebrates, “I got the whole Narayani sena.” And then Bhisma says, “What is the use of the Narayani sena without Narayan?” He said, “You got a bad deal.” But Duryodhana just comprehend it. He says, “Narayani Sena!” He said, “We have such a huge army on one side, and Krishna is not even going to fight. So, what is the use?”
So, for him, Krishna was not very important. For him “God is of no value without the world”, that was his attitude. “Ok, even if God is not there I want the forces over here.” And that’s how we see that his mentality, his vision was so materialistic that in the first chapter of the Bhagavat-gita, he describes the armies on both sides. So, he sees the Pandavas military formation and he is little concerned, and then he stats describing,
asmākaṁ tu viśiṣṭā ye
tān nibodha dvijottama
He says to Duryodhana that, “I will describe the forces on both sides.” And he describes the major warriors on both sides, but he doesn’t mention Krishna at all. In the full list, he doesn’t mention Krishna. Actually he mentions Arjuna, Bhima – On Arjuna’s chariot on Krishna is there, but he doesn’t notice Krishna, he doesn’t mention Krishna, because he thinks that Krishna is not going to fight, so what does it count? But actually Krishna without fighting – He ensures that the Pandavas win all the important battles. In all the important fights whether it is Karna, Bhisma, Dhrona, Salya, even Duryodhana, Krishna plays a vital role. So, quite often when we have two material vision, God’s role cannot be perceived in this world, and when God’s role cannot be perceived it can appear as if God has no value, but God is the supreme value in this world, and how Krishna transforms the whole course of the Kurukshetra war by his intervention, even without lifting any weapons – that actually is representative of how Krishna acts in a devotee’s life. At a material level God is not present as a factor. Now God underlies all the factors, and he moves things for a devotee. So, even if materially things are not there, if a devotee has Krishna, from the devotion to Krishna everything will gradually manifest.
So, material vision sees that, “If there are no material resources what is the use of having anything else?” Srila Prabhupada from the materialistic perspective had nothing. When he had come to America he had no money, no contacts, no institutional support, he had nothing, and yet he had firm devotion to Krishna, and from that the wonderful Krishna consciousness movement manifested within just a matter of a few years.
So, Krishna is the most valuable thing, but that value cannot be perceived much at the material level. So, even when we are pious materialists, at that time we value Krishna to the extent he helps us at the material level. If there is no help forthcoming at the material level, then we say, “Ok, what is the use?” Except people, they come to God and they pray to God for whatever they want, and if they get it then they tell bye-bye – and then they go away. So, that is not a very sustainable relationship.
So, here as I said from 6th, 7th and 8th text the consciousness is completely at the spiritual level. So, here what to speak of making God’s value conditional to what value it produces at the material level – here what Caitanya Mahaprabhu is saying is that,”‘Without God, without Krishna – sunyaitam jagat sarvam.” Everything else is valueless, and then it is further said that, “Yugaitam Nimishena.” That actually one moment is seen like a yuga. The Gopis also say the same thing in Gopi Geet. They say,
“Tritiyugayete tvam pasyatam,
kutila kuntalai srimukham chate,
jada udhikshitam saksma kidrisam
They say that tritiyugate – triti is one fraction of a moment. It seems like a yuga.
Atati yat bhavan ahani kana na
So, the start of the day Krishna when you go out into the forest to graze the cows, from that moment every moment seems like a yuga. Very long. When will you come back? We are just waiting desperately, and then finally when you come back at that time we are trying to behold you.
So, in ananda Vrindavan Champu it is described, in the evening when Krishna comes back, then Nanda Maharaj and Yasoda Mai, and the elderly gopa’s and the gopi’s they all rush out or their homes and they come to the outskirts of Vrindavan eagerly waiting to catch the sight of Krishna, and all the younger gopi’s they go to the terraces of the houses, and from the terraces they are beholding, “When is Krishna going to come? When is Krishna going to come?” And the gopi’s say that, “Even when you come back Krishna, at that time we want to drink the beauty of your form, and what happens? Our eyelids they blink, and we can’t behold you”, and then Ananda Vrindavan Champu says, “We feel that every moment we are not able to behold you, that is like the devastation of the world for us. So, tvam apasyatam – we cannot see you.” That is the extent of the love of the gopi’s. – that they see Krishna, and even for one moment if they can’t see him, they feel that it is unbearable, it is intolerable.
So, Krishna also reciprocates. So, as Krishna comes from the outskirts of the village – Krishna, Balaram, Madhumangal, all of them are there, all the cows are ahead. Krishna is at the back, and when Krishna is passing through the area, all the gopis are in the terrace. So, Krishna wants to reciprocate with the gopis. So, Krishna slows down over there, and because Balaram is the elder brother. Krishna feels a little shy to look at the gopis in Balaram’s presence. So, he just slows down. Balaram says, ‘Come on we should go. We should take food. Mother must have cooked for you.’ So, Krishna says, ‘I am tired. You go ahead.’ When Balaram goes ahead, at that time Krishna is alone, and all the gopis are there. So, the gopis are looking at Krishna. They are serving Krishna with their sights and Krishna reciprocates. So, they are offering their love to Krishna through their eyes, and Krishna looks at them, everyone of the gopis looks at them, and he offers his love to them, and every evening when Krishna reciprocates like that with the gopis, that is the moment for which they are living throughout the day. So, for them even one moment of separation is like a yugaite, and that same Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Krishna in the mood of Radharani. So, he is embodying the same mood over here when he says that yugaitam nimishena – without you one moment is like a millennia, and chaksusa pravisyatam. From the eyes tears are coming out. Caitanya Bhagavatam says that the same Ganga that earlier came out his lotus feet, now when Caitanya Mahaprabhu would go into ecstasy that Ganga would come out his eyes. That many tears would come out in incessant separation.
So, how it is that in the spiritual realm – now we may think that it is an exaggeration, “How can so much water come out?” So, actually in the spiritual realm whatever is required for the pastime of Krishna that is present, and so it is described that when Krishna comes back say to Mathura, at that time Krishna is at least 10 years old. Different acharyas are slightly of different opinions, but Krishna was at least 10 years old, and it is said that when he comes back, at that time mother Devaki takes him on his lap and she offers him her breast milk.
Now we may say, “A ten year old boy, how can the mother have milk in her breast when she has already has been pregnant 10 years ago?” But actually the breast milk represents the mother’s love, and whatever is required for the reciprocation of love, all that is facilitated in Krishna Lila. So, Yasoda Mai’s breast milk can have unlimited love because that milk – Yasoda Mai’s breast can have unlimited milk because it is not just milk, it is her love flowing out in the form of milk, and same with Devaki. So, similarly with the tears that flow out – Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Krishna in the mood of Radharani. Radharani’s love for Krishna is unlimited, and thus rivers of tears can come out, and that is his transcendental potency.
So, this is verse where Caitanya Mahaprabhu is actually revealing the mood or the purpose with which he descended to this world. His purpose was to experience the love of Srimati Radharani. That he is experiencing over here. In Caitanya Caritamrita it is said that the reasons why he wanted to understand – basically whenever there is a relationship between two people – Now say there is A and B. So, A loves B, and B loves A. So, what happens say, Krishna loves Radharani and Radharani loves Krishna – So, what does Krishna want to see. Krishna wants to see, “How much is the love of Radharani for me?” and then, so, first of all – the person has love for someone else – Krishna wants to know how much love Radharani has for me, and secondly Krishna wants to know that, ‘Ok, what is it in me that attracts so much love?’
Now suppose we are say hearing a class, and we are not really interested. We are looking here, we are looking there, and then we find someone very diligently making notes. He is going on and on and on. You think, “What is there to make so much notes?” Then you think, “Maybe something interesting going on. Let me hear now.” Krishna thinks, “Radharani has so much love for me, what is there in me that attracts so much love?” So, he wants to experience himself from her perspective. Now, how is that Radharani’s seeing me? What is she experiencing in me, because of which she feels so much love for me? And third is – So, in the first two cases it is mostly from Radharani’s perspective. Now what is the nature of her love, what is that attracts here love? And then love is enhanced by reciprocation. See, love can be one sided, but a loving relationship cannot be one sided.
Now one person may love another person. That person may not love back. Still there can be love, but for a relationship there has to be some reciprocation. So from Radharani’s perspective, she loves Krishna unlimitedly but then when she sees that Krishna also reciprocates with my love, then her love increases much more, and so then what is the joy that she experiences when she sees that Krishna loves me back? So, in that sense it is a complete relationship from Radharani’s perspective. What is her love for me? What is it in me that attracts that love, and when she sees my love, what is it that she feels? What is the joy that she feels? So, all these Krishna has come to experience, and actually when Krishna has come as Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he has come to experience not just the love of Srimati Radharani for Krishna, he has come to experience the love of Srimati Radharani when she is separated from him. When Krishna has left Vrindavan and gone to Mathura, and thereafter to Dwaraka, at that time Radharani’s for Krishna attains its summit. So, that love Caitanya Mahaprabhu wants to experience, and that is why “Govinda Birahe na me.” In separation from Krishna, what is the love that Radharani feels for him? That Caitanya Mahaprabhu wants to experience. So, in the Caitanya Caritamrita it is said that Madhevendra Puri is the root of the tree of love of Godhead, and Madhavendra Puri specially when he was in his last days, he was feeling intense separation from Krishna, and he would recite a verse at that time, and that verse embodies a mood similar to the mood that Caitanya Mahaprabhu is expressing over here.
Ai dina dayal he natha he
Hey Mahtura nath kadabalo ka se
Hrdayam tada loka kataram
Daita brahmate kim karomyaham
So, here Madhavendra Puris is reciting a verse that is in the mood of Radharani, and he says, ‘Kim karomyaham –What should I do now? I am helpless? I don’t know what to do?” “Oh Krishna! You are the Lord of the fallen, the merciful Lord but now you who are nath of the dina, you have become Mathura Nath. You have left us and gone to Mathura. Mathura Nath Kada aba lokyashe – When will I be able to see?” And not being able to see you my heart is shattered, aloka kataram, daita – O beloved, bramyati – I am bewildered, kim karomyaham – What should I do now?
So, where when Madhavendra Puri expresses this exalted feeling of separation, total desolation in separation from Krishna, he is actually in great ecstasy, but unfortunately Ram Chandra Puri is not able to understand this, and he advises the spiritual master, “Oh! Don’t get sentimental like this. Think of Brahman.” Madhavendra Puri is furious. That time when a devotee is absorbed in ecstasy, separation from Krishna, he says, “If I see your face I will go to hell. Get out of here.” So, there are very exalted emotions that a great vaisnava can experience, and it is preposterous for a disciple to advice a spiritual master, and especially about matters that one doesn’t understand at all. So, actually Madhavendra Puri is very displeased with him, and as we know Caintanya Mahaprabhu’s spiritual master Iswar Puri serves him very diligently at that time. That time also this particular mood in Caitanya Caritamrita is demonstrated, of love in separation. So, now when we talk about love in separation how does it apply for us practically? I said earlier that, what we miss reflects what we value.
So, taking that point further – For all of us, there as some memories that are special for us, and somehow because of the nature of the conditioning the material memories we – they are automatically preserved. That means that if there has been some sense gratification that we have enjoyed, the mind remembers that and it goes back to that again and again, and prompts us, “Come do it again. Enjoy it again. When can you enjoy it?” Now even in bhakti also we have had special experiences, we have had cherished memories, but the devotional memories – they don’t come back so quickly. So, we have to consciously cultivate them. We have to consciously recollect them. Why is that? Why is that the material memories – essential memories or the mundane memories, they come back very easily, whereas the devotional memories they may actually be much more intense, much more deep but still somehow they don’t come back as naturally as we would like. That is because our consciousness is conditioned in the material direction. Like if this floor is here. Now if the floor were inclined in the direction of the door on that side. Now if water falls over here then naturally the water will go in that direction. Now there might be a exit on this direction also, but if the floor is inclined in this direction, the water will naturally go in that direction. The water can go, but if it has to go it will here, it will have to be pushed in that direction because the inclination of the floor is in that direction. So, like that in our consciousness because of repeated past indulgence, the inclination is towards material things and that is why whenever the consciousness is there, just like the water it falls, wherever it is inclined it will go in that direction. So, like that our consciousness whenever it is free, whenever it released, it goes in the material direction, it goes towards worldly memories. So, that is why those memories come back to us quite easily.
Now devotional memories – we need to consciously cultivate them. Say, we had gone for a yatra and there was some wonderful kirtans, or we went somewhere on Gobardhan and we had a very beautiful experience over there. Those we need to consciously – recollect them, cherish them, share them, deepen them, and then we will also have that treasure in our heart. Yes, I had experienced this, and I want to experience this again in the future and that way we can move onwards in our bhakti. So, the more we cherish these memories – whatever experiences we had, the more we cherish them, the more we will look forward to them, the more we will long for them. So, actually when we have attraction to something, then at that time the thoughts and the emotions connected with that immediately gets activated.
Say for example if somebody is a cricket fan, and they see a particular cricketers photo, and they think, “Oh in that match this person hit a sixer, or in that match he got out for a duck”, whatever. As soon as we see that, immediately the memories come up over there, because there is some investment of consciousness over there. That is because of the attachment. So, in our case with respect to Krishna related to stimuli, the immediately triggering of thoughts and emotions doesn’t happen. It may happen sometimes. Sometimes we may see beautiful deities darshan and say, “You know this darshan, it was there on last Balram Jayanti”, or whatever. That sort of triggering of emotions happens as there is more and more investment of consciousness.
So, when we consciously try to recollect the memories, then we are investing our consciousness in that. When we invest the consciousness, then we can actually grow closer to Krishna by that practice of bhakti, by that endeavour to recollect what we have experienced and we try to endeavour, and when we endeavour to remember that, then gradually that memory will become stronger, it will become more accessible, and then we will be able to spiritualize our consciousness more easily.
So, in one sense I just – so, we talked about purification. Purification means to change our default definition of happiness. All of us have some definition of what happiness means. Happiness means eating good food, happiness means watching a movie, happiness means going to a beach, whatever – All of us have certain ideas of happiness, and when we become purified – now this is a – we have a default definition. Default means automatically our thoughts go in that direction. When we become purified, then our default definition of happiness changes. Happiness means, coming in the association of the devotees, happiness means kirtan, happiness means studying sastras, happiness means doing devotional activities. So, that change happens gradually. To the extent that change is happening, to that extent we are becoming purified, and for feeling this love and separation our desires are not just linear. They are also triangular. I will explain what this means.
Normally we think of linear desires means – “I am here. The object is here.” So, for example we see some sense objects, and we feel desire for that. That is a linear desire. The desire between me and the sense object. So normally our desires – we think are like this. I see something and I get attracted. That’s one way in which the desires are generated, but desires are not just linear. The desires are also triangular. Triangular means what? Say, in America most of the people don’t know about cricket. So, when – if they come to India, If some American – who doesn’t know much about cricket – So, what do you think about cricket? – Cricket? “Cricket is a insect. I don’t think about it.” – They will say. They don’t even know about cricket, but suppose an American comes to India, and they find that the people are so mad after cricket.
Thousands of people are cheering when one shot is hit or whatever. Then they start – What is this cricket? They start learning about it, and six months later even they are also cheering in a cricket match. So, what has happened, first time if they came and saw a cricket match – they cannot make any sense you know. What is this? There are people, there is somebody holding a stick, somebody is throwing a stone, what is happening? So, just looking at it may not kindle any attraction, but by seeing how many people are mad for cricket – what is there to be so excited about it? Then some excitement is stimulated there, and then that interest develops. That means desires are triangular over here – Triangular means – this is the cricket match, this is the person who has come from America, and this is some Indian cricket fan. So, just looking at the cricket match not much interest comes, not much attraction comes up, but by seeing some cricket fans, seeing how much they are mad after cricket the interest develops. So, in that sense the desire is triangular. It is not just linear between us and the object. It is between us, the object, and someone who is attracted to that object.
So, we see this not just in sports – say, how do most people get into alcohol? There is somebody who tells them, “This is cool.” You may say, “I don’t drink” – “Babies don’t drink. When are going to grow up.” Whatever they say – “come on enjoy.” So, some persons tell them, “You drink and enjoy.” And that’s how they get the desire. So, our desires are not just linear, they are also triangular, and this is especially important on the path of bhakti, because in bhakti – you know if you just come to the temple and see some devotees, “It is ok, it is nice, well decorated statute.” but when we sees some devotees, say pujaris year after years serving the deities, and some people coming and very prayerfully, reverentially approaching the deities, you think, “Really, what is this so excited about? What is there in this?” or we see somebody who loves the Bhagavat Gita, loves the Bhagavatam, loves the Caitanya Caritramrita – “ok, this is the book that I have read it”, but if somebody they just keep reading it almost every day, and they get new realizations, they are so excited about it – then you think, “There must be something special about this.” So, in bhakti it is not so much that just by perceiving an object our desire will come. It is not just by say beholding the deities or reading a book the desire will come. Yes, some spiritual desires maybe awakened by that, but to a large extent our devotional desires arise or increase when we see someone who is enthusiastic about the thing.
So, we see someone who is very enthusiastic about book distribution. What is there in this book distribution? Let me also try it out. If somebody is very enthusiastic about studying scriptures – “What does this person gets from hours and hours of study?” Let me find out. So, what happens for us? The love and separation that we talk about at our level, it will happen primarily when we associate with someone who has that love and separation.
So, if I want to develop my – increase my attraction for the holy name – I need to associate with someone who is very eager to chant the holy names. If I want to increase my attraction for studying Gaura lila, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, then I will have to associate who are very attracted to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and that way it is by their association that our attraction will increase. So, right now when we are separated from something or from some devotional activities, we may or may not miss it – even if sometimes we may say “Ok! I don’t study scriptures” – see, we may not even miss, I didn’t study scriptures for one week, for 15 days, for one month, we never miss it, because right now we don’t want that much taste for it. If somebody has that taste, and they are regularly studying, they regularly read, then their association inspires us, “Yes I want to do this.”
So, here I will conclude with one point about this that – “Separation is to love, what wind is to fire.” Now what does it mean? You know there is a big forest fire, and then a wind comes over there. Forest fire itself is bad enough, but if the wind comes the forest fire will blaze much, much more. So, like that for the great devotees like Radharani and Caitanya Mahaprbhu here – for those who have great devotion, when there is separation their love is like a forest fire, and when there is the wind of separation, that forest fire becomes even more bigger, their love becomes even more and more when there is separation. Now unfortunately our love for Krishna is not like a forest fire. It is like a candle. So, what happens is that when the wind comes the wind extinguishes the candle. If I think, “Ok, I will become separated from devotees”, then my love for devotees will increase. No, when I become separated from devotees our devotion will die practically, will get extinguished, because right now our love is very tiny. So, we cannot artificially jump to the level of love and separation. Right now we need association, we need connection, and by that connection the affection, the attraction will develop, and then afterwards even if there is some disconnection temporarily, we will be able to move on in our bhakti by the love that we have developed.
So, to summarize:
We talked here about love in separation, and we discussed how Krishna consciousness practice in sadhana means – “We are trying to feel the presence of Krishna in his absence.” So, for the gopis and the other exalted devotees, they have love for Krishna and they feel separation. For us we are separated, but right now we don’t feel love, but by invoking his presence repeatedly through the practice of sadhana bhakti we will start feeling affection for him, then we will separation from him, and separation means – what we feel separated from – that reflects what we value.
I didn’t specifically elaborate this. I started with whatever udipana works at our stage. That means that whatever aspect of bhakti that we feel attracted to – we try to cherish that and whenever we are not able to do that, we cultivate some eagerness for that, cultivate some longing for that, and that way our love for Krishna will grow, and then in that connection we discussed how for
shunyayitam jagat sarvam
For devotees the world is of no meaning without Krishna, and for the materialists Krishna is of no meaning without the world. So, the example of Duryodhana in that connection, and then contrasting that with Arjuna and then we discussed about how our memories – whatever we have, because our consciousness is inclined in the material direction, material memories naturally come back to us, but devotional memories we have to consciously cultivate. Whenever we have some special experiences, we treasure them, we discuss them, we relieve them, and that way our attraction to Krishna will increase, and in that connection our desires are not just linear, they are triangular. So, by associating with those who are have attraction, our attraction will develop, and last I mentioned about how separation is to love what wind is to fire.
So, for the advanced devotees, love and separation is a wonderful aspiration – is an extraordinary experience, but at our stage we have to try as much as possible to avoid separation, because when we are separated from devotees quite often they may weaken or extinguish the flame of our devotion.
Questions and Answers:
Question: So, when Uddhava comes to Vrndavana, he comes to see the exalted love of the Vrajavashis, and if feels that, “What can I do for them?” They are already having such exalted love, and how can I pacify them basically?
CCP: So, actually even when there is separation – I am going to speak this actually in the next class a little bit more, but I will speak a few points more here. That in the Damodar Asthakam, Sanatan Goswami has written a commentary for that, and there he says that in the fifth text– fourth and fifth text there is a prayer that – “Let my mind be absorbed in remembering, and I don’t want any other remembrance except you. Thousands of other blessings are of no use of to me –
Varam Deva Moksam Na Moksavadhim Va
Na Canyam Vrne ‘Ham Varesad Apiha
Idam Te Vapur Natha Gopala-Balam
Sada Me Manasy Avirastam Kim Anyaih
There he is saying, “Let there be the remembrance of Krishna within my heart”, and the same thing elaborates in the next verse also.
Now after that, in the sixth verse he is actually saying that, “I want to see with this eye, adhya akshi drishya.
Namo Deva Damodarananta Visno
Prasida Prabho Duhkha-Jalabdhi-Magnam
Grhanesa Mam Ajnam Edhy Aksi-Drsyah
That with this eyes I want to see you. Sanatan Goswami explains there that actually that seeing Krishna in the heart is wonderful. That is also a very exalted stage, but still a devotee desires Krishna directly, sakshad with this eyes and that is an aspiration, that is also a exalted aspiration of the heart. So, when we say that love and separation is very exalted emotion –
So, separation is filled with anticipation – It is filled with anticipation. When there will be union? When will there be union? So, Uddhava he is caught in a dilemma when he sees the Vrajavasis – that I have to pacify them. So, how will I pacify them actually? So, initially he doesn’t know about the glory of the love of the Vrajavasis. Therefore he thinks that, “Maybe I can give them some – if they are feeling separation from Krishna, they may be thinking of Krishna as their own child, and that way they are feeling separation, I will give them spiritual knowledge about Krishna’s omnipresence, when they can sense Krishna’s presence, then they can be satisfied by that, but when he actually sees them, he says that – “They are in such a high level, I cannot give them that knowledge, I cannot do that for them. They are already transcendental. So, what can I do for them?” So, eventually what he does for them is – he especially – not just for mother Yasoda mayi, but for the gopis, he speaks Krishna’s message to them, and he doesn’t speak that message, he actually elaborates that message, and through that he stimulates their remembrance. So, they are already remembering Krishna, but when we love someone we want to know more and more about that person. So, by giving them more and more content by which to remembering Krishna, he relieves the separation of their heart. He of course assures them that – Krishna as he said, “I will come back.”, he will come soon, but till he comes he relieves their feelings of separation by giving them more absorption in Krishna, by speaking about Krishna.
So, actually he realises that their love for Krishna is much, much greater than my love. So, in that sense the Uddhava Sandesh Upakhyan, that section of the Bhagavatam where Uddhava is quoting this message – that is actually in one sense a conflict or a confrontation between aiswarya bhakti and madhurya bhakti. So, Uddhava is in the mood of aiswarya, and the vrajavasis are in the mood of madhurya, and he says that, “I just want to become a shrub in Vrindavan so that I can get the dust in the gopis feet, so that how the madhurya bhakti is much, much higher Uddhava recognizes that, but then he has also got a service. So, he assists in that service by speaking about Krishna’s pastimes. So, his plan is initially to speak about Krishna’s omnipresence, “I will elevate them to higher level. But they are in such a higher level. So, all that I can do is speak Krishna’s pastimes.” By speaking Krishna’s pastimes he relieves their separation to some extent, because he gives them more memories of Krishna.
Q: Should we share our devotional memories which often are considered to be like gifts of Krishna which are meant to be kept private? They are not meant to be shared with the world. Externally we act as sadhakas.
CCP: Yes, that is true. When I talk about these memories, it is more in terms of a – not sharing publicly with everyone, but if we have some close friends, especially – good you brought out this point – I was talking of sharing in terms of – if say, 2,3 devotees have gone to a yatra together, and then they had some special experiences that time, and then they meet each other, and then they remind each other – so, it is not so much in a public class we talk with everyone, but when we are already close, when we have some shared memories, bringing those together – then that reinforces our remembrance of the sweetness of devotion. It doesn’t necessarily have to be very exalted memories also. It can be just maybe some difficult services together, we met some challenges and we did something valuable in Krishna’s service. So, those memories – they can actually remind us of the good times we had in bhakti.
See, whether we are devotee or non-devotees, at a material level problems keep coming. So, adhyatmic, adibhautik, adidaivik – these kleshas keep coming in everyone’s life, and so sometimes at a day to day basis what difference devotion has made in my life you may tend to forget that. So, there are – if you look back at our past – the past is never like a calendar – “Ok, this day, this day, this day.” In the past you know there are many planes and suddenly there are mountains – if you look back at our past, there will be months and months, and within that there are some moments which are very extraordinary. They are like peaks, mountains in our memory, and then again there is – now everyday something eventful happens, but that is not so impactful and so consequential from our perspective. So, the past when you look back at it – it is not just a linear stretch of time, it is a vast stretch in which there are some striking peaks. So, now those peaks are the times when we were able to do something nice in Krishna’s service, we had some nice interactions with devotees. So, I was not talking so much of say intimate remembrances of the heart which are say of a raganuga bhakti’s level. I was talking more about – if we had some sweet interaction with some devotees – we had some great experiences while doing some service –
So, it’s like when Krishna and Sudhama meet together – they discuss how they spend their time in gurukul, and they remember, “Oh, we went out at that time, and then there was a big storm, and we were left alone in the – all night we spent together.” So, that is not – it doesn’t have to a esoteric memory to be devotional memory. Within devotional memories there are esoteric memories which should be private – as much as possible. Of course in some small circle it can be shared, but if you look at devotional memories, there can be many non-esoteric devotional memories also, and those are also inspiring in their own way in our bhakti, and if we treasure them, if we share them, that also helps us in moving onwards towards Krishna.
So, it has to be actually according to individual nature, according to audience whether we share it in a group or not, but as far as our personal recollection is concerned, sometimes sharing reinforces the memory also. So, we may decide with whom to share, with whom not to share, and – ok, I will give a simple example that – say, how somebody came to Krishna consciousness?
Now we all have our story, and if we look at that, how I came to Krishna consciousness? I might just narrate the story nearly – “Ok, this happened, this happened, this happened”, but what I found is that – the same event if I look at it 5 years afterwards, if I look at it 10 years afterwards, I look at it 20 years later – I can see more how Krishna arranges things and how Krishna – there are so many things that worked out at that time when I came that time at Krishna’s lotus feet. So, our appreciation for that thing can increase.
So, I have written an article on my website called, “Share your story.” So, “Share your story.” is – S H A R E – that is an acronym. There are five reasons why we should share our story about how we came to Krishna Consciousness. It explains about how it can sublimate our memories, it can reinforce a heart to heart connection with Krishna. So, I am not talking about esoteric memories. Even in our devotional course of life, whatever special events have happened, if we recollect them they can become a treasury that can inspire us in our bhakti. The whole process of bhakti in one sense is to make our memory our treasury. The process of bhakti is to make our memory our treasury. So, the great devotees they just absorbed in the remembrance of Krishna, and they are ecstatic in their remembrance. So, now to make our memory our treasury means what? At one level we develop love for Krishna and then, thoughts of Krishna fill our memory. But we can also see that, we already have some valuable memories. So, I recollect them, I cherish them, and then that also helps me to have some spiritual direction for my thoughts, when I am looking at my past or when I want to think about Krishna.
So, I feel that devotional memories which are esoteric cannot be shared, but the devotional which are non-esoteric they can be shared.
Q: Why should esoteric memories not be shared?
CCP: There are – I think that one main reason is that sahajiaism is always possible. That if the sharing of esoteric memories becomes the highlight of say devotional kathas – say somebody comes and gives classes, and they say, “You know how I saw pastimes of Jagannath. Jagannath came in my dream or Lord Narasimha came in my dream.” All those things – if they start becoming the main content of our classes, then that will be – anybody can start claiming that. Then how will we really know? We will have to become judgemental. “This person is advanced devotee. Actually the Lord really came in his dreams, for this person it didn’t happen like that.” So, we have to be careful about that. There are the scriptural pastimes that are described. They are given in scriptures, they are repeated by our acharyas, and they are at a very exalted level. Now there can be some special incident that happened in some devotee’s life also, and they can also be discussed, but they are not the main content of our study, of our recollection, of our discussion. They can be very inspiring and they are important in their own way, but it is not we will have classes on some devotee’s pastimes.
Occasionally some devotee comes from a distant place, once in a while it is ok, but there is – with all due respects there is something which is sastra praman, and then Rupa Goswami said that there is sastra praman and there is loka praman. Loka praman means, that which is taught about by people who are holy and that also has some authority. Like when you go to Vrindavan, there are so many pastimes of Krishna which the Vrajavasis tell. Now they are not there in – many of them are not there in sastras, but if they are in harmony with the mood we discuss those pastimes, we relish those pastimes, but you know, those are not the pastimes that are going to come in the Krishna book, those are the pastimes which comes in the 10th canto. So, there is – even within Krishna lila, there are levels. Those which are given in sastras directly, they are actually far more important. Others can also assist or embellish the description of their pastimes, but there is a difference. So, this whole aspect – one aspect could be that the esoteric memories when they are discussed they can encourage sahajism and everybody can start saying that these are my memories or these are my experiences, and then where does it stop? It will become very difficult to decide.
In the Christian tradition in the fourth of fifth century – three, four centuries after Jesus came and went, there were various Christian saints or non-saints, they started saying, “Jesus spoke through me. Jesus spoke through me. Jesus spoke through me.” and there was complete doctornal?? 59.15 chaos, and in the 5th century the catholic church had a …59.20 and they had a doctrine call the “Doctrine of cessation of revelation.” They said, “Now revelation has stopped. Now no more revelation is happening.” So, by that they tried to avoid the sub-version of the church’s authority, but the point is that every tradition has to – there is a …59.40… that is coming from the past, and there is a living tradition also. But the living tradition is not meant to supercede the original tradition. It can supplement the original tradition.
Q: Sometimes our spiritual will become natural automatic instead of our material memories?
CCP: Yes, that is a stage when the mind becomes our friend. Krishna says that the mind can be the enemy and the mind can be the friend also. So, we say that the mind is enemy that means the mind naturally goes in undesirable directions, but when the mind becomes attracted to Krishna, then the mind naturally goes towards Krishna. Then there is this pastimes of the gopis where Krishna has gone away from the gopis, and the gopis are feeling great misery in separation from him, and they think that, “What to do?” One of the gopi’s gets the idea that, “Oh, you know when the yogis they feel misery, they transcend misery by practice of yoga. So let us do yoga.”
The yogis do yoga to remember Krishna. The gopis do yoga to forget Krishna. And they get absorbed in yoga – They sit down in yoga and as they are trying to forget Krishna, suddenly one of them remembers Krishna, and she starts speaking about Krishna, and as soon as they are thinking about Krishna, the other gopis starts thinking about Krishna, and they are already lost in thinking about Krishna, and lots of time goes away, and they think, “Hey we are supposed to forget Krishna.” and they also start to do yoga again. So, in their case their thoughts naturally go towards Krishna. So, usually it is like – if we consider climbing up a mountain, and we consider the various stages of bhakti as like climbing up a mountain, within that the anartha nivritti is like a very steep climb. So, the stage of anartha nivritti is a plane where we have to constantly keep – like if we are going by cycle up, and if I stop pedalling, I just go back. So, like that in anartha nivritti stage you have to constantly keep endeavouring to rise. It is a very steep climb up. After anartha nivritti when there is nistha, then the climb sort of – it is not so steep, it tapers off, and then from nistha there is ruchi, and from ruchi onwards practically it is just a matter of time for the purification to advance towards attraction.
So, in the anartha nivritti stage till nistha bhakti is very effortful, but after nistha to ruchi onwards bhakti becomes largely effortless. So, at that time we already have a taste in Krishna, asakti means attraction to Krishna. So, at that stage naturally the mind goes towards Krishna. So, it does happen. It is a long way off, but it does happen when the spiritual memories will become natural, and the material memories they will not come. In fact they will just go away. Even if we have that experience we will forget it soon.
Q: So, is there any way to differentiate between emotional experience and transcendental experiences?
CCP: It is difficult because even transcendental experiences involve emotions. So, largely speaking two things we could say, one is that whether the experience is in accordance with sastras. There is that pastime when one devotee came to Prabhupada and told Prabhupada, “You came to my dream and you told me to take LSD.” (laughter) So, Prabhupada said, “It was not me. It was maya in my dress.” (laughter)
So here, actually if we are getting some experience which are not in accordance with sastras, then that is one level when we need to understand that this is questionable, and then another thing is that if the effect of it is that, it doesn’t actually take us closer to Krishna, it takes us away from Krishna, then we keep it at a little distance, but overall if there is a devotional experience which we have had, then rather than worrying too much about the nature of the experience itself we can focus on whether it can be seen in a way that I can go closer towards Krishna. So, yes sometimes I may participate in a kirtan and I may just get tears in my eyes. Now are the tears coming because I am experiencing Krishna or it might be because I love music very much, and just the music is so nice that that causes me tears. Sometimes it may become to hyper-analytical to go into that.
As long as it is in the ambit of Krishna bhakti, and it inspires me to go deeper in my relationship with Krishna, then that it fine. Largely whether it is according to sastra or not. That is the main parameter, and ultimately when we are in the sadhaka stage, even the transcendental will be experience through the mind only, because the mind is the tool by which we feel. So, just like whether I am speaking mundane sound or whether I am speaking spiritual sound, at the material level that sound is going to manifest through the throat. The throat is the tool for the speech whether it is mundane or it is spiritual. So, like that for all emotions the mind is the tool in the conditioned stage. So, whether the emotions are material or whether they are spiritual, they are actually going to come through the mind. So, if what I am speaking – how did I decide whether it is spiritual or whether it is material? It is based on how I look at – whether it is according to sastras – then I understand it is spiritual. If it is not according to shastra, then I understand that it is material. So, like that once the emotion or the experiences comes to us – whether they are in harmony with scriptures – then we accept that they are spiritual, and if they take us closer to Krishna, then we say that it is spiritual.
Q: The gopis are saying, one moment in separation from Krishna is like a yuga, whereas here Caitanya Mahaprabhu is saying that it is like 12 years.
CCP: So, the word that is used in Sanskrit is yuga again – yugaitam nimishena – the translation, it is said that it is 12 years or more. See actually when we talk about chronology in scripture then there are different systems of chronology that are given. So, in the purana, in the Bhagavat Purana one kind of chronology is given, but if you look at the manu samhita there is another kind of chronology that is given. So, that means in the scriptures the dimension specifics are not extremely important. They are important, but they are important more as indicators of something. They are not important in the exact value that is there. In the 11th, 12th chapter of the 1st Canto, when Krishna comes back from Hastinapur to Dwaraka. So, at that time path is described here. You know, Krishna goes to this place, this place, and then he comes to Dwaraka, and the Prabhupada writes in a purport there that – so sometimes geologists may try to trace the exact path by which Krishna came from Hastinapur to Dwaraka, and he says, “This is an impossible task.” Because the earth’s geology keeps changing. They can do their research, but as far as we are concerned we are happy that Krishna has reached Dwarka and going to perform pastimes with his devotees now. (laughter)
So, the factual details in the scriptures that are there, they have significance in the sense that they indicate certain things, but if you go too much into the specifics of that we can just get caught up in that. So, here the principle is that, one moment appears to be like a very long time. Now the word yuga itself can be translated in different ways depending on different frames of reference, but the point is that one moment seems to be like a long time. That is the essential principle.
Q: If you feel uplifted, if you feel that we are going to Krishna by that, then we don’t get any similar experience anywhere else –
CCP: It is true. I think that in the 11th canto there is a verse, bhakti paresana bhava, bhaktir anyatra cha. So, that pareshana bhava if you get, that is also a good indicator that this viraktir anyatar cha, we don’t care for other experiences. Like in India, Bhagavat Katha is like a pious form of entertainment. So, there are some people who hear some Bhagavat Katha on the T.V, and they may hear about say how the gopis are separated from Krishna, and this people may seem to cry tears, and then the Bhagavat katha gets over, and then they change the channel, some movie song is going on, the heroin is saying “I am separated from the hero”, they are crying tears there also. (laughter) So, there is no viraktir anyatra ca over there.
So, in one sense if we have transcendental experiences, that takes us closer to Krishna, and that makes us apathetic towards worldly things. We become detached from worldly things. As I said if we go to yatras, and sometimes we may get physically get exhausted, but then some darshan, some kirtan – we just forget the body, we just feel uplifted in a very extraordinary way, you could say in a trans-physical way. So, that’s –
Yea, that is the kind of experience that I was saying we cherish, whether we share it or not but we need to cherish it somehow.
Q: The nature of my mind is to always to get caught up with details which you were mentioning about. Like the example, when you were talking about this Narayan sena. The question comes that,
When the Narayani sena soldiers, they were told to fight in Duryodhana’s side, if they are also devotees of Krishna, then how can they fight against Krishna and they die by fighting with Krishna – it is death in separation.
CCP: Actually there are different frames of consciousness. For example, in different situations, and what is anukul and what is pratikul that can vary. So, for example there is the story of Maricha. Now Maricha is a demon who is a shape changer, and he is conscripted, practically forced by Ravana to join in the conspiracy to have Sita abducted, and first when Ravana comes, he says, “Ram is so powerful, don’t mess with him, and then he hears and goes back”, but afterwards again Surpanakha comes and incites him by describing Sita’s beauty, and then he comes back, and then he says that, “I have not come here to hear your advice, I have come here to give you instruction. Either you help me or I will kill you.” So, at that time Maricha thinks, “Actually if I have to die better let me die at Ram’s hands instead of Ravana’s hands.” Now there are different Ramayana commentators who have actually analysed this incident in two opposite ways. Some say that actually this shows this is bhakti. Although he is a demon and he had been filled with fear earlier being hit by Ram’s arrow, but now because of that he had been remembering Ram, even in fear, and now he had developed faith in the glory of Ram. That’s why he wanted to die in the hands of Ram.
But the other Ramayana commentators who says, “Actually if he is a devotee he should be serving the Lord, he should not be thinking about how I am dying. So, in thinking that at whose hands I am dying he is actually doing disservice to Ram. So, he is thinking that how I am going to die, he is thinking, but he is not thinking whether I am serving Ram or I am causing disservice to Ram. So, it is a very selfish calculation”
So, from one perspective both are true – from different perspectives, one is that anyway I am going to die, better let me die at the hands of Ram, the other is – Ok, you know everybody has to die, but we have to serve the Lord, that is more important.
So, that way there can be different perspectives, and we can’t know the inside of anyone’s consciousness. So, in the case of the Narayani sena, the ksatriyas in general – their ethos was that they – at least in the way it is depicted in the Mahabharat, then I will explain how it is depicted in the Bhagawatam. The Mahabharat is largely a book that is at the karma kanda level, there are bhakti sections in there, the Bhagavat Gita is there, the Visnu Sahasra nam is there, the Narayani is there. These are all bhakti sections, but largely it is at the karma kanda level, and in the karma kanda understanding – if a ksatriya fights heroically and dies in the battlefield then the ksatriya would be elevated to the heavenly planets. That is the understanding broadly speaking.
So, the warriors over there at that time, they feel that if there is a war and if we can fight and we can kill, and we die, we will be elevated to heaven, and that is auspicious for them. That is what their destination they think will be. That is from the karma kanda perspective. That is why the ksatriyas over there, even those on the kaurava side, they fight forcefully, because they either have – Mahabharat says, they have victory or heaven in their minds, and they fought.
Now in the case of the Narayani sena, they knew that they are going to – if they fight against Krishna they will die, but they had that attitude of service to Krishna. This is what Krishna want us to do. So, we will do it, and in one sense it is a difficult service for them, but that’s what Krishna wanted them to do. So, they accepted that service. And because they died… ya haave Krishna mukharavindre – the Bhagavatam describes that those who – netrai pibanti nainabhirama – that those who saw Krishna and drank his beautiful form with their eyes, they actually attained liberation. So, even the Narayani sena, they fought for Krishna or they fought against Krishna – the fact is that they died in the presence of Krishna and they attained liberation. So, that is the important thing, and because it was by Krishna’s will they are fighting against him, so it was a difficult service that Krishna gave them, and they accepted it.
Thank you very much.