“The Holy Name is everything” – how to appreciate and apply this
[Sunday feast class at ISKCON, Columbus, Ohio, USA]
The Holy Name is Krishna and what does it mean when we say Krishna is everything
Chatur – Four verses of Shrimad Bhagavatam.
I alone existed in the beginning; I exist now and will exist in the future
Anything which looks attractive, but we do not see a connection to the Supreme is Illusion
Keval Ashtakam – Right from the powerful Brahmaji to a blade of grass, everything is filled with Maya.
Prabhupada gave a lecture” This whole world is Maya”. People have different conceptions. If I think this wall is Maya, thinking this wall is Maya, he will hit his head against the wall. You said it is Maya, but I walked through it and hurt my head- the pain is real.
Prabhupada said” the things in this world are not unreal; what is unreal is that things alone will give us happiness”
Illusion – wrong perception of object or wrong perception in the presence of stimuli; thinking a rope is snake
Hallucination – perception in the absence of stimulus
Vasudevam sarvam iti – People who understand this is very rare BG 7.
It means there are levels in which we move through:
1. Levels: There is no God à there are many Gods à There is one God à I am God
Bhagavatam says” Only God exists. We have our existence, but we are parts of His existence.
Rupa Goswami” When Krishna says I alone exist, the “I” includes everything”
God is not one being far away disconnected from us.
God does have a transcendental existence, but he is not a person in the ordinary sense. He can be present in the spiritual world and yet pervade all of material existence.
Even When Krishna descends to the world, as a charioteer of Arjuna; it might appear he is occupying one small part of the universe. But when he (11.48) decides to reveal his mystic potency, Arjuna sees many eyes, many hands and legs” “I see your Universal form:
Even when Krishna is in the universe, the universe is within Him.
Krishna is everything means nothing is disconnected with Him.
Even our body, they are also Krishna’s material energy. We are Krishna’s spiritual energy.
The understanding that everything is Krishna –? I am also part of Krishna.
Bhakti Yoga fills the sense of emptiness (the void) in the heart. There is a sense of loneliness, pointlessness. When they face problems in life, many people vent” What is the point of worshipping the Lord; there are so many problems. Problems are frustrating, but so are pleasures. When you think” I want that” and you do achieve your dream, you realize it was not such a big deal. What am I living here for?
Material life is frustrating at its worst, when things go wrong. Even when things go right, it is unfulfilling at best. Oscan Wilde” Fashion in ugliness changed every six months”
The same thing that is initially attractive can later become repulsive.
Process of Bhakti is not meant to pray to God to get good things in life, but it is meant to raise our consciousness from the material to spiritual, beyond the material bad and material good.
We should love Krishna for Krishna’s sake- it does not imply that one has to live life where the focus is on decreasing expectations from God (“I should not ask this from Krishna”); the focus should be instead of increasing expectations in the relationship with God.
God is so attractive that remembering and serving him is so fulfilling that one does not clamor for other things.
Bhakti is a process that gives a result- Para Isha Anubhav
Para- The Lord who is transcendental
One may have different reactions when you see the deities- one may think them as statues. But when you see the deities in an atmosphere where there is kirtan; the combined experience enriches our devotional attitude. We consequently become detached with other things- i.e. we are no longer infatuated with other things. This thing gives me pleasure – it is small, like a drop, but the pleasure of remembering Krishna is like the vast ocean.
Kulasekhar Maharaj: Now that I have come to the lake of Hari, I shall simply drink these waters of Hari- the more we relish glories of Krishna, the more we become joyful.
By nature, we are egocentric- we try to prove how great we are. When you form a relationship with Krishna, the focus shifts from us to Krishna.
How do you know we are advancing? When we are happy listening to glories of Krishna.
Analogy: parents may feel happy when they are praised, but feel very happy when someone praises their kids.
The more we hear of Krishna, the more we love. When we chant the holy names, the philosophical understanding of what we are doing will enable further absorption.
The pure devotees will stay on the spiritual platform because they love Krishna.
At the sadhaka level, where we are t, it is not our Preethi, but our Buddhi (intelligence.)
Sometimes we feel very good when we are chanting, hearing kirtan. Sometimes we feel bored and look forward to when chanting and kirtan will be done( Does this have 1008 beads or 108 beads?! pull them out and ask when will this round get over?. That happens because the mind is flickering. If we leave our process of Bhakti to our feelings alone, then we will not be steady. If we base it on our Buddhi, or intelligence, we will be steady.
Steady process of bhakti awakens gradually our attraction o Krishna. When we chant, there may be hundred other things, but now is Krishna’s time. There are other obligations- I serve Krishna by chanting now, later I serve Krishna by working
Detachment vs irresponsibility
Detachment- comes after the action is done
Irresponsibility is before an action is done
Student does not study for an exam; why are you not studying? I am detached; that is not detachment; that is irresponsibility.
After we done with the exam, we might worry” Will I get good marks
Attachment means we keep thinking of things more and more even when we have no control over the outcome, i.e. the action is already done . “You are so caught up that it is hard to move on to next task- this makes us forgetful, absentminded.
Whatever action you are doing, offer yourselves to Krishna; when chanting, absorb you self fully in Krishna.
Prabhupada would be equally enthusiastic talking about Krishna regardless of crowd size. He was enthusiastic because he was speaking about Krishna; the audience size does not matter.
Pure devotion does not mean we are negligent or irresponsible. It means whatever we are doing, do it wholeheartedly and connect with Krishna. (Verse from Gita 18.46). That absolute truth from whom everything has come, and that everything is pervaded by Him, that Lord can be worshipped by your work. In that way, one can attain pure devotion.
To worship me, no need to go to a forest.
There has to discrimination; while everything comes from Krishna, not everything takes us to Krishna. If we hear sweet devotional music, the melody reminds you of Krishna. You might listen to a sensual song, but that song does not take you to Krishna.
Question: If God wants us to do the right thing, why are there are such few right choices and so many wrong choices.
Answer: that is the way it is in any multiple choice exam. All the choices in the MCQ exam come from the teacher; all choices do not take you to the teacher. Right choices get you promoted.
Our intelligence (discerning intelligence) is to focus on those attractive manifestations that take us to Krishna.
“I am attracted to wine”- Prabhupada says” They can think the taste of wine is Krishna. By constantly thinking like this, they will become devotees of Krishna. “it does not mean drinking wine takes you to Krishna; it means thinking of Krishna even amidst an overwhelming temptation or distraction, even within that we can think “ This distraction is also a manifestation of Krishna” and thus we can remember Krishna. If we remember that, we will remember Krishna. We may want to give up something but instead of saying “I am a devotee; this is Maya; I have to give it up”, instead remember that attraction is also coming from Krishna.
Rupa Goswami prayer” Just like a boy is attracted to a girl and vice versa, let me be reminded of Krishna even when I see that attraction”. That attraction is also a spark of Krishna and His manifestation. If that spark is so attractive, imaging ho w attractive Krishna must me.
When we are struggling to give something up, remember Krishna in this way. The process of sadhana bhakti is meant to cultivate lover for Krishna.
Love Is spontaneous; either you love someone or not. This notion of love as a spontaneous thing is from our fragmented ideas- we got this from watching movies.
The longevity or stability of a relationship depends not on what happens at first sight, but what happens AFTER multiple sights. Psychologists show that romance has a shelf life of 18 months.
Just as people fall in love, they may fall out of love” I can’t live without you” changes into “I can’t live with you”.
The relationship may start with attraction; but if it is to sustain and survive, it has to go through cultivation. Sometimes I might love this person, sometimes I may not, but I will focus on the good and not focus on the bad- that will help the relationship thrive. Bhakti yoga is the process of cultivating our love of Krishna.
Chanting – we may do it mechanically, every day I am counting some numbers; but doing it daily cultivates attraction. Repetition leads to cultivation of attraction.
If we do the same activity again and again, attraction develops.
Analogy: In India, people are mad about cricket. American might think of an insect when they hear cricket. IN the US, an Indian student arrives not knowing anything about baseball. In 6 months, they are wildly cheering about baseball. Why? Watching other students enjoy baseball repeatedly leads to cultivation of attraction. This is how addiction occurs.
First drink might be impulsive, succumbing to pressure. By doing it again and again, it becomes compulsive.
Repetition of chanting is important, but association is key. Our desires are not just linear, but they are triangular.
Linear; I see a gulab jamun- I get excited.
Triangular; I see a food item never seen before, you see someone else visibly relishing the dish. Just y seeing someone else enjoying it, we get curious about wanting to enjoy the object.
Association works in a similar way. Chanting or Gita may initially not be so attractive. But if we associate with someone who delights in the Gita, you might become more attracted to reading the Gita. So associating with people who have the taste helps. With Krishna, repetition also leads to purification. Soul has a natural attraction, but currently not manifested due to impurities. Iron is naturally attracted to a magnet, but rusted iron is not.
Similarly, the natural attraction is covered by impurities. But Krishna is all-purifying. He is the most pure. By letting the Holy name enter through our ear and say it out loud, we gradually revive our dormant natural attraction.
How exactly does mind get purified?
Graffiti-covered wall; you might paint over it, scrub it down.
When we practice Bhakti, mind is like a wall. Many impressions (non-devotional, anti-devotional) are on the wall. How do we purge the non-devotional impressions? Can’t delete it. But you can overwrite it. As you bring in more and more devotional impressions, they will overwrite. Imaging as you remove the graffiti, you see a beautiful picture hidden underneath the graffiti.
By chanting, Krishna within us helps us raise our consciousness, awakens our natural attraction to Krishna.
Purification also happens by revelation.
Krishna is not an object; He is a person. When we serve him to please Krishna, He reveals Himself. His all-attractiveness is revealed; all our impurities are slowly erased. When Krishna reveals himself (Sanskrit verse), we are helplessly attracted to Krishna.
Sadhaka: Krishna is good, Maya is not so bad
As we chant, we relish more and more His presence within us and that cultivates attraction. If we keep saying “Don’t do this, don’t do this; rather than saying “I don’t care about material things” we can devolve into a fragmented experience. Say” How can I infuse the material activity with an intention to serve?” If we keep regularly chanting, many anarthas will decrease. Full destruction of anarthas occurs when Krishna reveals Himself.
Bhakti is not about decreasing our expectations from Krishna, but increasing our expectations with Krishna. In our remembrance and service to Krishna, we will experience such fulfillment, that whatever happens at the material level will not disturb us so much and be overwhelming.
Analogy: If I am at the bottom of a 100 ft. building, we feel small; Problems and pleasure are so big
But if we are flying even the 100 ft. building seems small. Bhakti yoga raises our vision, is focused on Krishna makes us think” The problem is there, but I will deal with it”. We can deal with problems without being overwhelmed. We can navigate through life with the perspective of Krishna as the supreme reality, nothing distracts us from Krishna. We can engage in such a way that our growth towards Krishna increases. We stay connected
Bhakti is not about rejecting material life; it is about harmonizing my material life with spiritual life. If I put Krishna in the center of my life, I will get the intelligence to take care of problems or I will learn to tolerate the problems and move on” Bhakti yoga makes Krishna at the foremost. All other realities can be navigated, harmonized with material and spiritual.
- Holy name is Krishna.
- Krishna alone exists – when we don’t see a connection with Krishna that is illusion
- Bhakti Yoga helps us to see God as connected to everything in life. We are not separate from God, we see ourselves as parts of God. Seeing the part connected to the whole is the vision of knowledge
- Whatever is attractive is a spark of Krishna; if the spark alone is so attractive how would Krishna be? Let me focus on Krishna, instead of the spark.
- Even if you are captivated by a material attraction, remember that even the attractiveness if a manifestation of Krishna. By remembrance of Krishna, we can become conscious of Krishna even through activities that make us unconscious of Krishna.
- Love for Krishna has to be intentional cultivation of attraction for it to be sustained. Cultivation means – cannot practice Bhakti simply on feelings alone, but needs to be based on intelligence. By repeated practice, cultivation occurs by
o Repetition (regular chanting, Study of Gita)
o Repetition in the presence of association of those who have a taste for Bhakti
o Purification – repeated contact with Krishna removes impurities.
- Focus is not saying no to things away from Krishna but focus on saying Yes to Krishna. Bhakti elevates our consciousness; we learn how to manage the problems and pleasures. We learn to go through pleasure/problems and grow towards Krishna.
Question: I liked your description of Illusion vs Hallucination. Maya Devi is not malicious. We cooperate with Maya.
Answer: When we fall into illusion, we make wrong choices. Prabhupada was asked” If our purpose is to serve Krishna, why is Maya so strong?” Prabhupada replied” Because your purpose is not strong”. 3.36- 3.43. Maya does not force us- we choose to make wrong choices. When Arjuna asks” Where is lust situated?” Krishna says” It is in our own senses and intelligence”> there is a source for lust and trigger for lust. Just like a gun with a trigger. There are so many objects that captivate us- they are external triggers only. Lust originate sin our own selves; cannot blame external objects for succumbing. It is important ore cognize our temptations and keeps a safe distance. We cannot blame anyone else- the tempting desires are within us and we make those choices.
Question: Prabhu, you talked about connecting professional life with Krishna. Can you please elaborate on this? My wife is from the medical profession and she says about Krishna consciousness helping her patients, work and research. Most of us are in the IT field- how do we see our work as connected to Krishna?
Answer: In Seattle, I gave a series of talk how your phone can teach you about your mind. Once we are philosophically informed, we can find various ways to connect to Krishna. I will give a metaphor: computer – hardware, software. You have a great computer, but if it is corrupted with a virus, it becomes dysfunctional. Young people, physically healthy suffer from addiction, depression. Chanting of Holy names are the antivirus program, I give 21 analogies of mind and computer. Just like default settings,
Text-to speech reader- so I can proofread it- the and them look similar. I wrote soul is sachidanand, but computer read “Saturday Anand”. Autocorrect turns it incorrect. We start out our day saying” we will do that” then we suddenly find ourselves doing the opposite. Like when we pledge to eat healthy. Our default settings may be wrong. Technology offers several metaphors about how it’s similar to mind. In any work, the specific may vary, but principles are same. If my life is dedicated to Krishna, are we devoting adequate time for regular sadhana? Sadhana creates foundation for our consciousness, so the spiritual intention permeates everything I do. I may be writing code, but I am ultimately doing this for Krishna. One university student asked “how can I inspire my friends to become devotees” I said” Study nicely. If you study well, there is no guarantee that they will become devotees. If you study poorly, they will definitely not become devotees”. In today’s world there is so much chaos, if anything works well, they want to know more about it. This person, whatever they are doing, the bhakti business, they are negligent, they won’t do it. If they see someone doing their work diligently, responsibly and they know you are doing Bhakti, they will ask “What is this Bhakti all about?”> The IT field is the most glamorized field in today’s world and prized. If those in the IT field ( shrestas) are spiritually minded, then more people will follow. Krishna says” Just like a great person does, others will follow”> Doing our work well, our actions are an example and that attracts to Krishna. Charity is not just activity; it is a mentality. Whatever Krishna has given me, I want to give my heart to Krishna. My heart is filled with money, when I give money Krishna comes into my heart. The amount is not as important as the regularity. If we are sharing Krishna Bhakti through our position or influence, those are very valuable ways.
Question: How is the intellect connecting to eh heart? How can I go beyond the intellectual platform?
Answer: For people of an intellectual nature, the way to their heart is through the head. Even for people not intellectual, striving from an intellectual platform is helpful. Since feelings wax and wane, having a strong intellectual conviction will keep us steady in Bhakti yoga. We need to associate with those who are intellectual. If we associate with those not intellectually oriented, they might say” Why are you asking so many questions? Why can’t you just chant?” Need association of like-minded people. (Rupa Goswami)> Those that are intellectually minded may be able to share convincingly Krishna Bhakti. Ultimately Krishna is beyond intelligence; Krishna is superior to our intelligence. On the spiritual path, our intelligence should be like a minister not our master. The minister gives good advice, but master controls. Intellectual faculty alone cannot provide all answers, but I need to practice- somethings may not make sense immediately, but we shouldn’t let that lack of understanding become a block in our progress. We can suspend judgement temporarily, as we practice we may have our own realizations that will clarify. Associating with like-minded intellectual people can help.
Question: Prabhu, you mentioned integrating our work with Krishna. I am an animal scientist. We do Animal research to understand human disease better, but sometime they can inflict suffering on animals. Before coming to Krishna consciousness, I was very happy. Now I am having second thoughts. Should we give it up? Please advice.
Answer: B Gita (18.47) – All endeavors are covered by faults, just like fire is covered by smoke. There is no such a thing as a pure profession. That does not mean we become callous. Animal research is very different than animal slaughter. Try to minimize the anti-devotional activities. For people who can’t give up meat, can eat when the animal dies naturally. Don’t kill for sake of eating. By use of God-given intelligence, one can think of how can animal research be done in a more humane, less intrusive way? One has to take individual stock.
Two extremes today: something undesirable- it is not that Krishna will hold that against us when we practice bhakti. Bhishma remained silent when Draupadi was dishonored; it was a grievous error in judgment. Krishna did not forget Bhisma’s bhakti- he acknowledged and rewarded him. Just because he was a Bhakta, he didn’t forgive him. He still told Arjuna’ you have to fight Bhishma”> Krishna does not fault us for doing something wrong; but at the same time our bhakti practice cannot be used as a license to do immoral things. Sometimes our circumstances may make us do undesirable things, but we should never stop holding to Krishna. With God given intelligence, praying to Krishna, we can connect to other people – we can find out specifically in bioethics, what can be done to minimize karmic influences, what are the alternatives? Options can be worked out. It is a problem; we don’t have to trivialize it because we are practicing Bhakti. At the same time we don’t have to aggravate it, by saying “What is the use of Bhakti? Someone is inside a well; person at the top is trying to pull him out. But someone else inside the well is trying to hold him down. That doesn’t mean the person holding the rope should just let go. Krishna is the person above; our circumstances are holding us down, still we should hold on to Krishna. Leaves the rope.
Question: This question is from the context of trying to raise children in a Krishna conscious way – the first part is from the perspective of the child and the second from the perspective of a parent. We enroll in academic contests (Math, science, robotics) – the premise behind that is sound- high academic standards, work habits, but at the end of the day it is a win-loss situation for the child. How do these activities take a child to Krishna; how are these activities spiritual? As a parent, the implicit message we convey (although we don’t say it out loud) is on winning. How can we stay detached from results while expecting the kids to learn good habits from these contests? How can we avoid the excessive emphasis on winning?
Answer: There are two things (I) directly devotional (II) things that can be used in devotional service. When Arjuna practiced archery, he didn’t think archery was mundane. He didn’t know he would be in a dharmic war in the future. He simply focused on it as a Kshatriya. He became incredibly competent, not just by innate talent, but hard work, to the extent of even conquering sleep (Gudakhesa). Children have many individual talents and nurturing them is also a way of using gifts that God have given. How they will be used we don’t know. Some direct talents- singing ability can be used. BhaktiVinod Thakura said I long for the day when judges wear tilak. Did he mean that any devotee who chants can become a judge? He meant that very qualified people will take to bhakti. How does that happen? One by effective preaching to influential people and they become devotees. Another way is that the younger generation – kids who grew up in this movement, grow up to be competent and have influential positions in society and people see them practicing Bhakti. Developing our God-given talents to make contributions to society – that can also lead to spiritualization of society in a subtle, but far more effective way. Often we have this dichotomy – this is material life, this is spiritual life. I have to give up material life to practice spiritual life; that is one way of understanding. Another way is to spiritualize material culture- different levels of spirituality. It is not that everyone will chant seriously with the principles of bhakti. We can be very rigid- everyone inside is a devotee- all those outside are demons. Instead think of concentric circles with varying radii. Outreach can be at various levels. A mathematician can be a devotee – people will see that and start practicing Bhakti. Agyan sukritis. Appreciation for people makes them favorable to Bhakti; whatever talents our children have, helping them develop them is also service. What we are is a gift from god, what we become is our gift to God. Where do the talents come from? From Krishna. When society has avenues to nourish talent, we have to participate in that. Even the best of talent needs nurture; we nurture those talents in a mood of service to Krishna. The way to avoid attachment to winning is to have a healthy spiritual culture. There is a difference between goals and results. Goals are before the action and results come after the actions. Arjuna set daily goals, most famous, 14th day “Tomorrow I will kill Jayadrathan”. Krishna didn’t tell Arjuna “ Karmany evadhikaraste, ma phalesu kadachana” because the two are not contradictory principles. The whole idea is to focus on our service and Goals can help us focus on our service; setting and visualizing goals will increase our inspiration and help us maximize our contribution. But attachment to results distracts us. Krishna does not say “Don’t focus on goals. He says “Don’t be attached to results”. Detachment acknowledges that you alone are NOT the doer. Krishna says” Deliberate and do what you wish”. If we think I alone did it – that is ahankara. But doing our own part in the big scheme of things is vital for us. Our children need to see that we value them regardless of win or loss. They will see that the love is not conditional on winning- they will operate on se cure platform and will go on to achieve. Egg, a parent has two children- one does well and the other is not a great student, when parents are partial they are sending a wrong message to both kids- that they are lovable only I f they achieve. We offer love and attention to all children- and nurture their talents; they are secure in their relationship with parents and secure if their sense of what they want to do in life.
Prem Sindu prabhuji: verse from Bhagavatam. First duty of parent is to raise child in such a way that they do not have to see another birth. Spiritual life should begin very early. Also, prayash- trying to overendeavour is an obstacle in spiritual life.
HG Chaitanya Charan Prabhu: yes, that is true. For every situation, there are extremes possible. Different people have different capacities. Some people sing kirtan in such a complicated tune, the kirtan is performance, but not participation. If you tell them to sign a simple tune, they will pass the opportunity. ”What is prayas for whom” will vary from person to person. What is over-endeavor will vary. Some people have so much rigor they can do more than one thing at a time. We don’t have to be a campaigner for or against multitasking. Principle is we should not over –endeavor. That has to be decided based on the individual and that individual’s guides, just like ability to lift weights varies from person to person. One can ask themselves with the activity” Does it inspire me or burden me? I am doing something in life; sometimes it is enlivening; sometimes it is “Why am I doing this? This is too exhausting”. Through experience, one knows which is too much or too little? If the child does not have talent, but parents force things? When parents use children to fulfill their unfulfilled desires.
Joke; Court case between father and mother; Father says he wants son to be an engineer; mother says I want son to be a doctor; why don Parents should not impose on the child their own desires, but if child has inspiration and talent, they should nurture and inspire them.
Regarding parents’ duty to help liberate the child, it should not be a burden on the parent. Advaita Acharya’s son became a mayavadi- it is not a deficiency of Advaita Acharya. One should not think of becoming a parent as a result of a biological activity. See it is a responsibility. If our children do not become devotees, we should not see it as a personal failure. If disciple does not practice, the spiritual master should not feel heartbreaken. The child is a separate soul- if the child doesn’t practice bhakti- we shouldn’t use that as a personal antipathy. Relationship with child can still go on even if child does not practice bhakti. Don’t say” You are giving this up; one day you will realize and you will come back crawling”. If we make it an ego issue, even if they realize , they will not come back. Devotees’ son went through a difficult phase and he gave up bhakti. Parents did not coerce him. The son went to a Michael Jackson rock concert, spent a lot of money, he was there in the concert- it suddenly struck him – this is just noise; the simple kirtan that I hear in temple is so much sweeter. That was an epiphany for him – it is not that he chanted that day; all the impressions on him since he was a child, manifested then. His life took a dramatic turn; he dedicated his life and he preaches more than his parents. When one tastes Bhakti, even if they leave for a while, they will come back. Our role is to open the doors to Bhakti. If we make it an ego issue- I am right and you are wrong, they will not accept and return to Bhakti. Our relationship with children should be “We are there for you whatever happens”.