Gita Essence 2 – The transformational power of love – God-knowledge as the fuel for love
[Talk at ISKCON, Port of Spain, Trinidad]
Time- 108 minutes
In the previous section, we discussed about self-knowledge is the basis for love. In the battle field of Kurukshetra, Arjuna is confused as to what role he should be playing- whether he should be a kshatriya or a kurunadana? Krishna tells him that he should understand that fundamentally he is a soul and as a soul he should act according to his fundamental identity. This means that Arjuna should harmonize his functional identities (e.g. as a kshatriya, as a kuru) with his fundamental identity. Krishna further explains that we all have selfish desires which prevent us from acting according to our fundamental identity and only way to combat these selfish desires is through knowledge which comes from the spiritual master. For gaining this knowledge one requires faith. Also, we need to recognize the need to regulate sensual indulgence by recognizing that the illusion is in the quantity, which promises so much pleasure, but in reality, pleasure is so little.
In this section, the discussion starts from the sixth chapter of Bhagvad-gita and covers till the eleventh or twelfth chapter. In this section the focus is on God’s knowledge as the fuel for love. All of us has to start our spiritual journey from some point and have to reach some other point. The most important thing that we need to reach our destination is the knowledge about God.
The Bhagvad-gita, in its first six chapters, doesn’t talk much about Krishna directly. The focus in these chapters is mostly on the self. In the second chapter, there is only one verse, 2.61, where Krishna talks about Himself, mām. He says, tāni sarvāṇi saṁyamya, yukta āsīta mat-paraḥ. Fix the mind upon Me. This is the only verse in chapter two that is indicative of bhakti, otherwise in this chapter Krishna is teaching about sense control. In this verse, Krishna indicates that He is not just the teacher of sense control, but He is also the object of the controlled senses. Both are different things. For example, many people will teach sense control but all of them will have their own object. Some would like to have a fit body, some would like to lose weight, some others want to become a champion athlete etc. Krishna gives a small hint in this verse about Him being the object of the controlled senses.
In the third chapter also, there is only one verse, 3.30, where Krishna says He is the object of a karma yoga:
mayi sarvāṇi karmāṇi
nirāśīr nirmamo bhūtvā
Here Krishna says, “offer all your work to Me.” He is not talking about detachment in a distant sense but He is talking about detachment and the fruits offered to Him.
Similarly, in the fourth chapter there are few verses where He refers to Himself. From verses 4.5 to 4.14, he talks about how He descends to this world. In verse 4.35, He talks about how knowledgeable people see all living beings as His parts:
yaj jñātvā na punar moham
evaṁ yāsyasi pāṇḍava
yena bhūtāny aśeṣāṇi
drakṣyasy ātmany atho mayi.
In the fifth chapter, the last verse 5.29, Krishna talks about Himself:
jñātvā māṁ śāntim ṛcchati
Krishna says, know me as your best friend, as the purposes of all sacrifices, as the enjoyer of everything, as the lord of everything, that person attains peace.
These are only the handful of verses in the first five chapters Krishna talks about himself and this will change from the seventh chapter onwards.
The sixth chapter is a transition because Gita started with the idea whether it is action or renunciation which will lead to God realisation, Krishna answers that it is action in renunciation. Arjuna asks Krishna does that mean that one never needs renounce the world, meaning always one has to act with renunciation or is there a time when one has to renounce the world. When to renounce the world that is talked in the eight chapter. Krishna says that when your mind is controlled then you can renounce the world, if the mind is not controlled the mind will act as the enemy. We will be alone but we will be alone with our worst enemy which is the mind and our mind will make us miserable. So when one has learnt to have a significant level of control over the mind then they can renounce the world and go to the jungle and focus on the absolutely truth. Mind control is an analogue process not a digital process. It is not that we can say we have controlled our mind now meaning it is not a digital process where we can say the mind is either in control or out of control. There are various grades of control of the mind. So for renouncing the world one has to have some level of control of the mind. It is not that the mind will be completely controlled but it cannot be too wild fantasising on sense objects, one may be renouncing the world but one will be dwelling on sense objects. What one has giving up physically one may be holding on mentally and then that doesn’t lead to much benefit. At least when one has become that much detached that much level of control one has. Then one can move onwards and renounce the world.
From that point in the sixth chapter Krishna starts talking about going to jungle, focusing on meditation. The sixth chapter flows up and down from the sadhana stage to the siddha stage and again coming back to the sadkaha stage. For example 6.10 verse starts the sadhana stage and then from verse 6.19 to 6.23 goes to the Samadhi stage, how one attains perfection
paśyann ātmani tuṣyati
Krishna says at that stage where eyes doesn’t say a word and one rejoices in the self and then again from verse 6.24 Krishna comes down to the Sadhaka stage and then he starts again the journey up to the siddha stage, from verse 6.24 to 6.32. The idea here is Krishna is encouraging the wonderful thing one can achieve, yes it may seem difficult but one should start with these steps and slowly one can achieve it.
The second time Krishna talks about it he introduces the concept of levels of spiritual realisations. Verse 6.28 talks about Brahman realisation,
yuñjann evaṁ sadātmānaṁ
atyantaṁ sukham aśnute
Krishna says one gets ultimate peace when one realises the Brahman platform, realising ones soul is spiritual.
Verse 6.29 talks about the Paramatma level of realisation, not realising that one is just a spirit but seeing the supreme spiritual reality everywhere
The speciality about paramatma is that the super soul is the manifestation of God who is present in everything and in whom everything is present. He is present in everything as Kshirodakshayi Vishnu, as the small who is present inside the atom. He is present inside everything and at the same time everything is present inside him as Maha Vishnu. That is the paramatma vision of the God.
Verse 6.30 he talks about the Bhagavan vision
yo māṁ paśyati sarvatra
sarvaṁ ca mayi paśyati
tasyāhaṁ na praṇaśyāmi
sa ca me na praṇaśyati
Krishna says one who sees me everywhere and sees everything in me that person is never lost. Krishna is talking about himself for the first time in the sixth chapter.
Then Arjuna tells Krishna, it is so difficult to control the mind, it is like controlling the raging wind. Krishna acknowledging his question says in verse 6.35
mano durnigrahaṁ calam
abhyāsena tu kaunteya
vairāgyeṇa ca gṛhyate
Krishna agreeing with him that it is very difficult to control the mind, tells him that by practice and by detachment one can control the mind.
Arjuna now starts thinking maybe he would be able to control his mind but what if he is not able to finish it in this life time, will he be lost and would neither here nor there. Krishna answers Arjuna in verse 6.40 in negative says if you have done good you will never be lost.
pārtha naiveha nāmutra
vināśas tasya vidyate
na hi kalyāṇa-kṛt kaścid
durgatiṁ tāta gacchati
Krishna says one who does good is never lost neither in this life nor in the next and tells about how yogis who were not able to complete their spiritual perfection in this life will continue in future lives either in a cultured family or a devotee family.
In verse 6.47 Krishna again brings himself back, says the topmost yogi is the one who fixes his mind constantly on Krishna
yoginām api sarveṣāṁ
śraddhāvān bhajate yo māṁ
sa me yukta-tamo mataḥ
Thus from the second chapter to the sixth chapter, Krishna starts from karma yoga, describes ashtanga yoga and concludes in Bhakti yoga. It is a step by step journey – Karma yoga to Ashtanga yoga to Bhakti yoga. This focuses on first there is detachment while one is doing activity and then one gives up activity itself and then one becomes attached to the lord.
From the seventh chapter the mood changes and instead of talking about detachment Krishna starts talking about attachment.
The first verse of seventh chapter is
mayy āsakta-manāḥ pārtha
yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ
asaṁśayaṁ samagraṁ māṁ
yathā jñāsyasi tac chṛṇu
Krishna tells Arjuna, to hear how by practicing yoga one can make one’s mind attached to him and also it is another way to attain the same perfection which is attained slowly through Karma yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Bhakti yoga of attachment to Krishna. This is like a staircase way and now Krishna tells him the elevator way. From seventh chapter onwards Krishna will talk about the process of bhakti but the focus is more not on the process of bhakti but the object of bhakti. Whom are we devoting ourselves to? For example if somebody tells you from here you want to go to New York, you can either take the flight or the boat or bus, he may describe the process but the person will first ask why should he go to New York. The desire to go to New York has to be there then he would focus on the process, similarly questions will arise in peoples mind like why should they practice bhakti. Telling why to practice bhakti is telling why to go to Krishna, because Krishna is so wonderful. Hence from the seventh chapter onwards, it is described as how Krishna pervades everything in this world. Everything that we see is Krishna’s energy. Only by surrendering to Krishna one can overcome maya. It is whoever worshipping anything the devatas or the personal manifestation they are worshipping Krishna in a fragmented way. And Krishna’s supreme position is talked about. People who are on the path of piety after many lifetimes they surrender to Krishna. Why do they surrender to Krishna? They understand that Vasudev or Krishna is everything and such souls are very rare. This is mentioned in verse 7.19
bahūnāṁ janmanām ante
jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ
The meaning of Krishna is everything is mentioned in verse 10.41, whatever is attractive in this world, it reflects a part of Krishna’s splendour.
yad yad vibhūtimat sattvaṁ
śrīmad ūrjitam eva vā
tat tad evāvagaccha tvaṁ
For example some people are attracted to sportsmen or actors or some scenes in nature, everyone is attracted to one thing or another, Krishna says that whatever that attracts us is actually are sparks of Krishna’s splendour. Thus when one understands that Krishna is the whole, vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti, that is when, one surrenders to Krishna. As long as we see their beauty and attractiveness separate from Krishna till that point the attraction to them will be a competitor to our attraction to Krishna and that will distract us from Krishna, but when we see that this attraction is coming from Krishna, a spark of his splendour then we will be attracted to Krishna.
Thus the Bhagwad Gita’s conception of God is not exclusive, it is inclusive. Inclusive means Krishna doesn’t talk about a God who lives far away somewhere in remote place but about a God who pervades all existence, he is right here in this world and whatever attractive in this world manifests a spark of God. If we understand the concept this way we become whole hearted in our devotion to Krishna.
Krishna is such a loving God, in verse 7.16 he says that there are four kinds of people who come to him, people who are distressed, inquisitive, seekers of knowledge and seekers of wealth.
catur-vidhā bhajante māṁ
janāḥ su-kṛtino ’rjuna
ārto jijñāsur arthārthī
jñānī ca bharatarṣabha
He also says in verse 17.18, that his devotees are very udārāḥ, which means charitable.
udārāḥ sarva evaite
jñānī tv ātmaiva me matam
āsthitaḥ sa hi yuktātmā
mām evānuttamāṁ gatim
It is curious that Krishna says that those who worship him are charitable and that too he is talking about those people who are materially attached. Each one of the above mentioned kinds of devotees have come to him to solve some problems of thiers and still he calls them charitable. Sripad Ramanujacharya says in his commentary that suppose one is very thirsty and that time if someone gives the thirsty person a glass of water they become very grateful. Similarly Krishna is thirsty for devotion, Krishna is eager for the love of all the souls and wants them back and so even if someone offers devotion that is not pure and is materially motivated, Krishna is happy at least he is coming to him, at least he has offered his devotion that’s why Krishna says that these are charitable persons. Udara Sarva evaite… All of you are so charitable. So, the same theme is also illustrated again in the 9th chapter when Krishna says that even if you commit sinful activities – Still – Even if a devotee commits sinful activities, still such a devotee should be considered saintly.
api cet su-durācāro
bhajate mām ananya-bhāk
sādhur eva sa mantavyaḥ
samyag vyavasito hi saḥ (B.G 9.30)
Krishna says that, “Even if my devotee commits sinful activities, still that person should be considered to be saintly.” What does this mean? Actually there are multiple explanations given of this verse, but for our context what this verse means is that, actually Krishna’s love for us is not based on how good we are. Krishna’s love for us based on how good He is. He is an all-loving, all benevolent Lord. Because He is so good, He loves us. So, even if we are bad still he loves us, and Krishna tells over here, “Even if you do the most sinful activity, I will not stop loving you.” There is nothing that we can ever do which can make Krishna stop loving us. We don’t have the power to anything by which Krishna will become so frustrated with us that He will tell that, “I am leaving your heart and going away now.” Krishna will never do that. Krishna is always there in our heart as a paramatma. So, that is the nature of His unflinching, unfailing love for us that is always there, closer than the closest.
Suppose even if a person loves us and hugs us in a tight embrace, they cannot come as –Even within that tight embrace – As close as Krishna always is. He is right there in our hearts.
Now Krishna’s love for us is based on who He is, not who we are, but our experience of His love is based on who we are. What that means is – Sun always gives light, but whether I will see the light or not, that depends on whether my eyes are open or not. So, the sun is giving light, but if my eyes are closed then I cannot see the light. So, like that Krishna always loves us, but if we are too materially attached, then we can’t perceive Krishna’s love, because when we are materially attached, then we look for Krishna’s love through the filter of our attachment. Just like I am looking with the spectacles – So, like that our attachment becomes like the spectacle – The filter through which we look for Krishna’s love. That means that whatever it is that we are attached to – If Krishna gives me that – “Oh, Krishna is such a nice God, He is so kind, Krishna loves me.”, and if Krishna doesn’t give that – “Does Krishna even exist?” We start thinking like that. It is like sometimes we may have a child, and the child says, “Mummy! I want this toy.” The mother says, “No not now.” The child says, “No, I want this toy.” The mother says, “No not now.” The child says, “No, I want this toy.” The mother says, “No not now.” The child says, “Ah – You don’t love me.” So, the parents may have done so much for the child, but the child sees the parents love just simply through the filter of that toy.
Sometimes we may be facing problems and we may be having needs, which would be far more serious than simply a toy. So, I am not trivializing our situations, our needs, our particular concerns, but the point is that from the point of perspective of eternity, from our immediate perspective whatever problems we are facing is a serious problem, but from the perspective of eternity whatever it is, it is not all that big. Now if we look back at our life – We look back maybe one year ago, five year ago, ten years ago – We always had some problems. When we were giving our 10th standard exam, or when we were giving our first job interview – Whatever – At that time we were so worked up about it – “What will happen? What will happen?” But, now if we look at how worked up we were about it – “It is ok, it was good, things worked out.”
So, the problem that seems very big right now, will in retrospect seem not so big. Just as the problem that seems very big in the past, they are now seen as not all that big. So, like that if we put aside the filter of our attachments, and start looking for Krishna’s love not through the filter of our attachments, then we will see Krishna’s love is so much there with us in our heart. He has given us the Bhagavat Gita. He has manifested as the deity. Among the billions of souls who don’t have a human body, and the millions of souls who do have human body, we are among the few who have the opportunity to connect to Him through the knowledge of Bhakti Yoga, through the facility of practicing Bhakti Yoga, and this itself is such a great love that He has bestowed upon us. Something special He has given to us – That is the sign of His love.
So, in the start of 7th chapter He says,
kaścid yatati siddhaye
yatatām api siddhānāṁ
kaścin māṁ vetti tattvataḥ (B.G 7.3)
Among thousands of people few endeavour for perfection, and even among those who endeavour for perfection, a few know Me in truth.
So, we are on the process of knowing Him in truth, and that is His greatness. It is only by His great mercy that we have come to this level where we are on the journey towards Him. So, the seventh chapter talks about how Krishna is understanding… vasudevam sarvam iti –Krishna is everything. That is the thrust of the seventh chapter. By understanding this, what will happen?
So, Gita (7.20) talks about, Vasudevam sarava iti. By that – The goal that is talked in 7.20 A – Sometimes when you are referring to the verse – first line is A, second line is B, third line is C, and the fourth line is D. 7.1 A is – mayy āsakta-manāḥ
The mind will become attached to Him through the practice of bhakti, and that realization vasudevam sarvam iti, that is like very high level of realization. Now after this, he concluded the seventh chapter by describing some technical terms.
sādhiyajñaṁ ca ye viduḥ
prayāṇa-kāle ’pi ca māṁ
te vidur yukta-cetasaḥ
So, He talks about adhibhuta, adidaiva, adiyajna… various terms He talks about, but Arjuna asks, “What are this terms. Please tell me.” The most important is the last question that Krishna has said, ‘If you understand me to be the ultimate truth essentially, then you will remember me at the time of death.’ And then Arjuna asks that question, ‘How can one remember You at the time of death.’ And that is the question on which the eight chapter zeroes in.
Actually just like a student may pretend to be studying – Nowadays most of the students – Most of their study are on their i-pads or their computer, and on the same ipad they may have their facebook, they may also have their Youtube, they may have so many things. So, people may think that you are studying, but you may be actually doing something else. We can fool others thinking that I am studying, but whether we have been studying or fooling around that will be known when the exam comes. I may be pretending to be studying ever day for many hours, but when the exam comes I don’t know anything. So, like that the time of death is the time when we will be tested. Are we really practicing Bhakti genuinely or just making a show of practicing bhakti. Now what does it mean? Krishna says that, “If you remember me at the time of death, you will come to Me.” Now we may wonder – “What is so significant about the time of death. Is it some kind of contest which is based on some chance, like a lottery ticket. Somehow if you get a lucky number, then you get there, otherwise you don’t get the lottery.”
What does it mean to remember Krishna at the time of death? Some people say, “Ok you know, if the only thing that I have to do is to actually chant Hare Krishna at the time of death, then I will enjoy my life as much as I want.’ Actually we don’t enjoy. We just think that we are enjoying, while the mind is just becoming more and more agitated.
We may think that the whole life we will enjoy all kinds of sensual pleasures, and – “When I would have had enough sensual pleasure, I will take out a gun and – Hare Krishna – Shoot myself and I will go to Krishna”, because Krishna says that, “If have to remember me at the time of death, you will attain Me.” – Now we cannot cheat Krishna. If we chant Hare Krishna at the time of death after a life of sensuality, we may succeed in chanting Hare Krishna, but what Krishna says is,
anta-kāle ca mām eva
smaran muktvā kalevaram
We have to remember Him – And the time of death is the time of the greatest danger, and when there is the greatest danger, instinctively we go to that thing, that place, that thought where we experience the greatest security.
Say, that there is a deadly storm over here in your house, then maybe we will go somewhere underground – Or some storm shelter is there. So, whichever is the safest part of the house that is where we will go at the time of this danger. So, similarly whenever there is great danger, our mind naturally goes to that thought, that memory, that thing where we have experienced the greatest safety. So, when Krishna says, You should remember me at the time of death – That means that our mind will naturally go to Krishna at the time of death, if before death we have experienced the greatest safety in Krishna.
So, if we have enjoyed sensuality throughout our life, then our deepest memories will be of sensual pleasures. Like the alcoholic thinks that there is no problem so big that it can’t be solved by drinking alcohol. If they are thinking that alcohol is the gateway to solving all their problems. When they are thinking like that, then even if they chant Hare Krishna – While chanting Hare Krishna, they are thinking about alcohol. The lips may be saying Hare Krishna, but the mind is saying alcohol. So, what is happening? It is not simply utterance of some words. It is basically that we have to find the deepest shelter in Krishna during the course of our life, and so sometimes we may face problems in our life and those problems seem just not solvable. Everything that is happening just seems to be going wrong and making things worse. Then it may well be that Krishna is giving us the realization that He alone is the supreme shelter.
Krishna is Krishna’s greatest blessing. Krishna’s greatest blessing is not just that whatever service we do that service becomes successful. Krishna’s greatest blessing is not that there is some difficult person that we have to deal with, and win them over. It is wonderful if you can do that, but Krishna’s greatest blessing is that we take shelter of Him wholeheartedly, and thus we experience the fullest shelter in him. To the extent we do that, to that extent we are prepared for the final exam of death. Otherwise we may be doing our services, and if we do our service very well and be successful, we take shelter of our intelligence, our skills, our resourcefulness. We think that whatever problem is there we can solve it. So, when despite our best efforts the problems are not solved, we think, ‘Where is Krishna, why is He not helping me?’ Krishna is helping us by helping us to realize our helplessness, and that realization is vital for us to take shelter of Him, and that shelter is vital for us to remember Him at the time of death. So, remembrance of Krishna is not just one of activity which we are meant to do at the time of death. That remembrance of Krishna at the time of death is the natural result when we have already experienced that – Krishna is the greatest shelter, that there is not shelter other than Krishna. We have taken shelter of Krishna, we have experienced shelter of Krishna, then when the danger of death comes instinctively our mind will go towards Krishna.
So, sometimes the very things that help us take shelter of Krishna, those very things can sometimes hinder us in taking shelter of Krishna. The very things that can help us in taking shelter of Krishna can also hinder us. So, for example, if I can study the scriptures very nicely and I can speak those scriptures very nicely. Now by that I can remember Krishna, because I am studying scriptures, I am speaking scriptures, but that very thing – When – If I think, “I know scriptures so much”, and I become proud. “I know scriptures so well.” So, then what happens? Then I taking shelter not of Krishna through the knowledge of scripture, I am taking shelter of the knowledge of the scripture, I am taking the shelter of my own intelligence. I am thinking that I am so clever. So, what has happened the same intelligence can help us to take shelter of Krishna, or the same intelligence can become a competitor to Krishna as a shelter. So, when that happens, then sometimes the very thing that always worked for us that stops working for us. The very thing that helped us to deal with problems – That very thing that – Whatever problems were there I solved with this – But if even that doesn’t work, then that means what is happening – Krishna is telling us, “Don’ think that this thing works alone by itself. It is I who am making this thing work. It is I who is working through these things. Your intelligence, your managerial skills, your speaking ability, your singing ability, your deity worship ability – Whatever it is that makes you do things – it is not those things alone, it is I who am doing it through you. Sometimes Krishna may do that to us so that we don’t let the need of taking shelter become a shelter itself.
So, sometimes devotees ask me – When I quote verses from Gita – “Have you memorized all the verses of the Bhagavad Gita?” Now I have put in an effort to memorize all the verses, but whenever I say, ‘Yes, I memorized the full Gita, the next time when I speak on the Gita I forget a verse.” So, what happens is sometimes we have certain abilities, we can use them in Krishna’s service, but when we start claiming that this is my ability, I have done this, Krishna just takes that ability away. We sometimes may feel very shelter-less, because that was the skill which was like our USP, our Unique Selling Point, this is what I am, and then when that very thing we can’t do, then what to do at that time? So, just like Draupadi – For a woman her husband is considered to be like a representative of God, and her husband is meant to protect her, and for Draupadi her husbands were devotees. So, they were all together serving Krishna, but then when the terrible assembly happened- the asat sabhaya, in that Draupadi was lost and then what happened was that her husband’s although they were present they could not protect her. So, now at one level you can ask, ‘How could Yudhisthir gamble Draupadi?’ So, yes it was arrangement by the Lord. The arrangement was that there will come in our lifetimes, when even those who have given us shelter of Krishna may no longer be able to give us shelter of Krishna.
Sometimes in our life it may happen that some devotees initially they give us a lot of love, lot of attention, lot of care, and after that something happens, and then somehow those devotees are not there, are not available or somehow they get busy in some other things or somehow they don’t seem to be that loving. So whatever it is. So, sometime devotees say that, when someone comes new we serve them fried pakodas, and after they become devotees we fry the like pakodas. (laughter) We give a lot of attention to new people, but the devotees – we often take them cheaply. For whatever reason, if something like that happens for us – those who are authority they should try to make it sure that such a thing doesn’t happen, but if happens to us somehow that rather than thinking that, “Oh the devotees don’t care, the devotees are so unloving, devotees are like this, devotees are like that.” we should see that this ultimately – The devotees who are loving – What was it? Like that we can have materialistic people also who are loving, and sometimes from the explicit point of view, from the physical expression of affection point of view, materialistic people may sometime offer more expression of love than the devotees may offer, but the key thing is that we should see the connection. When the devotees are offering me some love, it is Krishna who is offering me that love through the devotees. And yes, Krishna was earlier offering me love through those devotees. Now that love is not coming. Let me take shelter of Krishna.
So, Draupadi was protected, cherished by her husbands, but a time came in her life when they could protect her – For whatever reasons. In fact not only could they not protect her, but Yudhisthir became the cause by which she got into danger. So, the very devotees who were meant to protect, sometimes they may become the cause of suffering for us. Maybe unintentionally sometimes, sometimes intentionally, whatever it is.
So, draupadi did not get into the blaming game. “ Yudhisthir, How could you gamble me, how could have done this.” At that time she just took shelter of Krishna, and Krishna reciprocated and protected her.
Similarly when we are practicing bhakti in this world, it may be that we initially get the shelter of Krishna through His devotees, and that is how it should be. Krishna’s love manifests in this world through the loving nature of His devotees, the loving dealings of His devotees. We see Srila Prabhupada, he was so loving, so caring. Now it is amazing that in just a ten, eleven years he was able to inspire so many people to such a great activity, but at the same time after Srila Prabhupada departed, many of his followers they just could not continue. There can be various reasons for it, but one thing was – If they saw Prabhupada as an independent source of love, then they felt that, “Prabhupada is not there. Now who will love us?” But they saw Srila Prabhupada as a channel of Krishna’s love – And – Ok Prabhupada is not there, Prabhupada has given us a process by which we can still connect to him. Still we can practice bhakti, still we can love Krishna and we can experience his love for us through the practice of bhakti. So, then we are able to continue.
And they became stalwart leaders of our movement.
So, actually this capacity to see Krishna’s love for us through different sources, that is vital for us to continue our practice of bhakti.
Yesterday and today I got a lot of association of His Holiness Guruprasada Maharaj. So, he was telling me that how when he came here – Krishna has given him very challenging G.B.C works. So, he said that not only are the places materially difficult, but spiritually also when he came there had been difficulties, with leaders they were problems, and then he said that, “Actually, Ultimately, if we just learn to have loving dealings with devotees, then everything else follows. If we don’t have loving dealings among devotees, then whatever else we may do will not last.”
I was asking him, ‘When devotees go through difficulties how can we protect their faith?’ So, he said that, ‘The Key to protecting faith is just be there. If there are loving dealings between devotees, if we are there for associating with devotees when they need us, then that itself restores their faith. It is not a magical formula. It is a gradual accumulation of availability, time, kindness -’So, faith is at one level very tender. Now when we practice bhakti we need a tender heart. That is what we aspire for. At the same time, while having a tender heart we also need a thick skin. You know we need a tender heart but we need to cover it with a thick skin. But – Because the nature of this world is that – No matter what we do, there will someone or other who will criticize us. Someone or other will find faults with us, and if we only have a tender heart and not a thick skin, then what will happen, whoever criticizes us, we just become too discouraged. “Why are they criticizing me like this?”
Actually Srila Prabhupada was so resourceful – Prabhupada transformed the normal human fear of criticism into a sign of success, into a trophy of success. He said that if you are facing opposition that means that you are doing something good. When our preaching is good, then material energy will oppose us, maya will oppose us. So, of course opposition is not the only sign that our preaching is good – That doesn’t meant that we do things which hurt others and they oppose – “That proves that I am pure.” It’s not like that. Anything we can just distort – It is not like that.
But the thing is that – If we are trying to serve diligently, then that means that obstacles will come. Sometimes obstacles come from materialistic people, then it is easier to take because they are so different from us, that we expect criticism from them, but say we love someone and that person loves us, and then we go near them and expect a pat on the back, and instead of a pat – Thak! We get a blow on the back. That shocks and hurts more. If you are going to meet someone who we know is our enemy, then we guard ourselves. We know that they are going to be beat, and we are prepared for that. So, like that emotionally when we are dealing with non-devotees, we know that we may have some tough times. So, we are ready for that. Their values are different and our values are different. So, they may criticize us, but when criticism comes from devotees, then because we are expecting a pat and then we get a punch – It becomes much more difficult to take, but we have to understand that actually it is – For the practice of bhakti we need a tender heart, and we need a thick skin. Why the thick skin? Because thick skin will ensure that whatever it is that we are taking shelter of that never becomes a competitor to Krishna’s shelter. So, even the devotee association that we have, even the love that we get from devotees – That love from devotees is meant to remind us of Krishna’s love, is meant to point us towards Krishna’s love, and is meant to help to take shelter of Krishna’s, and so what we need to do is, that sometimes when even in devotee’s association there is turbulence, we may have two options – ‘Oh the devotees are like this, what is this Krishna bhakti process? It doesn’t work.’ And we may just give up the process of bhakti. We can – Now if – but the other understanding is, when in devotee association we experience turbulence then we can understand that actually Krishna is drawing closer, Krishna is forcing me to take exclusive shelter of Him. When in that way when we take it with that attitude, then we will experience Krishna’s shelter and no matter how difficult things are, actually Krishna is there with us, and then we realize that – Then the same trouble in devotee association which could have pushed us away from Krishna, can pull us close to Krishna.
It is said that, when we down to nothing Krishna is up to something. (laughter)
“So, whatever that we are taking shelter of it is all going away, we are down to nothing, what is happening in my life?” So, Krishna is up to something. Something special is happening in our life.
The famous verse that Srila Prabhupada liked very much…
hariṣye tad-dhanaṁ śanaiḥ
tato ’dhanaṁ tyajanty asya
When I give special mercy one someone I take away their everything, and that devotee has nothing but Krishna left. So, now of course this is Krishna’s special mercy, and now sometimes we say, “Krishna be merciful, but don’t be specially merciful. Give mercy but give mercy in manageable doses. Don’t give too much mercy.” But the thing is that, it is not that such situations will come everyday in life, but sometimes when such situations come, at that time rather than thinking that
“Oh, Krishna doesn’t care for me, Krishna doesn’t love me, Krishna’s devotees are so unloving”, we can see the actually this Krishna conscious process is working, and Krishna is drawing us closer and closer him. So, the eight chapter talks of always remembering Krishna, and remembering Krishna at the time of death. The whole idea is that remembrance of Krishna is – remembering Krishna always doesn’t mean that we have to become like schizophrenic’s. Schizophrenics are people who live in two realities, thinking of one thing and the other thing. What does it mean?
Krishna says, ‘You remember Me and fight – Mām anusmara yudhya ca. So, how do I do that? ‘Remember Krishna and fight’ – Actually what it means is that… Arjuna was shooting arrows in the Kurukshetra war. So, while shooting arrows what was he doing? Maybe he was thinking of Krishna, h was imagining some Krishna on top. Of course Krishna was right in front of him.
See, when we talk about – Viswanath Chakraborty Thakur explains, ‘What does remembering Krishna mean?’ Viswanath Chakraborty Thakur is a prominent Vaisnava acharya and has written a commentary on the Gita. Very beautiful commentary. So, he says that this remembrance is a recollection – Constant recollection is the fruit of deep affection. Just like say, if a person is working in a job and the job makes the stay away from the family – So, now they may be at the job and they will be dealing with the customers – Getting this contract, making this sale. Externally they are doing a lot of things, but internally they are thinking, “I am doing this for my family.” So, that recollection is there at the back of their mind, “I am doing this for my family. I am doing this for my children so that they can grow up and have facilities. I am doing all these for my family.” So, recollection of the family – It’s not that they are constantly talking about their family with their customers. Their customer may be talking whatever is required for making their deal, but that affection is there – Because of that there is recollection.
Similarly, just as family people constantly think about their family even when they are away from their family, similarly devotee thinks of Krishna even when the devotee is not externally close to Krishna. The devotee maybe externally dealing with this world but he is thinking of Krishna – mām anusmara yudhya ca. So, at this stage we may not have that much affection for Krishna. So, what we should do is that we make sure that we do sadhana bhakti diligently.
I will talk about this sadhana bhakti concept more a little later in our tomorrows class, but what it means to express our love for Krihsna – At this point our focus is on understanding Krishna’s love for us. So, now in the 9th Chapter – In the 8th chapter Krishna talks about how we remember him at the time of death, and there are many different ways in which we can develop higher remembrance, but the best is – Just don’t worry. Practice bhakti and try to remember – As you are practicing bhakti, then what will happen? Remembrance will happen naturally.
There was a famous pastime when Ramanujacharya… he reads this verse, and then he says, “What if I die suddenly. What if at the time of death I cannot remember Krishna.” So, then he asks his guru Kanchipurna, and Kanchipurna asks his worship able Lord Varadaraj, and Varadaraj comes in a dream and tells that, ‘If my devotee is not able to remember me at the time of death I will remember my devotee, I will remember my devotee and I will manifest in the heart of the devotee, and give the devote my remembrance.’ So, we don’t have to worry about the moment of death. We can just focus on right now practicing bhakti, and in the ninth chapter Krishna talks further about the glory of the process of bhakti – And so seventh chapter and ninth chapter are similar, but the same concepts Krishna goes deeper. Knowledge of His relationship with the material world – Krishna gives a deeper level in the ninth chapter, and in the ninth chapter He talks about how attractive he is, how merciful he is in many different ways. He says that he gives eternal results. Worshipping him is very simple. Even those who are sinful also can worship him, and even those who are lowborn they can also worship him. So, everybody can worship him and everybody can come to Him
patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ
yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam
Krishna says, ‘You can offer me a fruit, a flower or a leaf, a little water and I will accept it.’ So, Krishna is telling over here that our material position, our material resources, or the absence of the material resources, is no disqualification for bhakti. Even if we have nothing, just offer Him a little flower, a little fruit, or even a little water, you can always offer Him.
The Acharya’s explain that Krishna is so merciful that Krishna is not even using plural, He is using singular, He is not saying patrani, puspani, phalani. He is saying patram, puspam phalam. Just one flower, just one fruit, one leaf, even if one offers that much Krishna says, ‘I will accept it.’ So, Krishna makes access to him extremely easy, and in every scripture Krishna emphasises the universality of bhakti. He says, “Some people are considered lowborn. There are sudras, there are vaisyas… they are considered lowborns”, but Krishna says that even they – If they practice bhakti they can attain me. So, Krishna tells that access to him is universal, it is democratic, nobody is disqualified.
Some people may be materially considered disqualified in some ways. The low birth may not allow them to practice some brahminical rituals, but as far as bhakti is concerned anybody can practice it, and everybody can come to him. So, Krishna opens the doors of devotion to everyone. Now interestingly Krishna says,
samo ’haṁ sarva-bhūteṣu
na me dveṣyo ’sti na priyaḥ
ye bhajanti tu māṁ bhaktyā
mayi te teṣu cāpy aham (B.G. 9.29)
So, He says in 9.29 that, ‘I am equal to everyone. I don’t envy anyone and I am not partial to anyone, but if somebody devotees themselves to me, then we become intimately united. I am in them, and they are in me.’
Now there can be a question, ‘Is Krishna partial or Krishna impartial?’ Krishna is saying, ‘I am impartial but for the devotees who are in me, I am in them.’ So, is Krishna partial or Krishna impartial? Actually Krishna is impartially partial. (laughter) What that means is that, Krishna is partial to His devotees. If somebody loves Him, He specially offers love to them, but then Krishna keeps the doors of devotion open to everyone. He is partial, but He doesn’t arbitrarily decide to whom He will be partial. “So, these are devotees, I am partial to them, but you can also be a devotee.” So, in that sense He is impartially partial. He is partial, but in offering His love to some people – He allows everyone to become a devotee. So, he is impartial.
There is a difference between – When he says partial – Actually the word partial often have a negativity associated with it. It is like biased. But Krishna uses the world partial, it is not so much partial in terms of biased. It’s more partial in terms of reciprocal. Now love can be one way, but a loving relationship always has to be two way. We can love someone, but if they don’t love us back then how much of a relationship can we have with them. Loving relationship has to be two way. So, if a person is totally neutral – If somebody goes and criticizes them, and they have stone like neutrality. If somebody goes and praises them there is stone-like neutrality. If somebody goes and hugs them, there is stone like neutrality. If somebody goes and slaps them, there is stone like neutrality – Well, you may say, “You are a very stoic person.” Burt but how would we feel love for the person, or how could we know – Even if we love them, whether they love us or not?
Neutrality can be ideal in situations where there is possibility for bias. An umpire should be neutral. There is a cricket match going on – An umpire should be neutral. An umpire should not be biased towards a particular team, but when we want to love someone we want to see some reciprocation from them. So, Krishna in that sense is not partial. He is reciprocal. Krishna doesn’t discriminate, He reciprocates. If we offer our love to Him, He offers His love more to us. He loves everyone, but we start experiencing his love more, when we start directing our love to Him, and in this way we all can relish his love. Krishna says, “I offer my love to everyone.”
In 10th chapter, he begins by telling,
paraṁ bhūyaḥ pravakṣyāmi
jñānānāṁ jñānam uttamam (B.G 14.1)
bhūya eva mahā-bāho
śṛṇu me paramaṁ vacaḥ
yat te ’haṁ prīyamāṇāya
vakṣyāmi hita-kāmyayā (B.G 10.1)
So he says, ‘I am speaking this verse to you again because I love you. Hita kamaya- for your benefit I speak this verse.’ In the 10th chapter is Bibhuti Yoga. Bibhuti yoga means, “Ok, somebody cannot think of Krishna always, then what can they do?” Krishna says, “In this material world what is attractive you think of it, and by thinking of it you think of Me.” The whole 10th chapter tells how Krishna pervades everything.
The eleventh chapter is actually the most dramatic chapter. It is action packed. It is filled with action. Arjuna tells Krishna, ‘Can you please show your universal form?’ and actually that dramatic frame of the Viswarupa is very interesting. From verses four to eight Krishna tells Arjuna that I will reveal you the universal form and He describes what He is going to see, and from verses 9 to 30 Sanjay describes the universal form, and he says what he sees, and from verses 14 to 31 Arjuna describes what he is seeing. The same universal form is described from three perspectives. So, the first is like an orientation. Suppose if there is a drama happening, then maybe some NC or whoever will say, “What this drama all about?” So, like that sometimes if we are able to see something very special, something which we can’t immediately make sense of, and then tell, what is all about? It is easier to make sense. Like that three times, what the universal form is about that is described.
Now initially when Arjuna sees the universal form he is impressed.
paśyāmi viśveśvara viśva-rūpa
He says, “Oh I am seeing the Viswarupa.” He says, “Ananta Baho datra netram” He says, “There are so many faces, so many mouths, so many heads, it is amazing” – Acharya – That is the emotion – Amazement. Then what happens after that. Within this astonishing universal form he starts seeing something very fearful. Bhayecha na pravatitam mano me. He says ‘My mind is becoming filled with fear.’ What does he see in that universal form? He sees,
vaktrāṇi te tvaramāṇā viśanti
That into your mouth whoever is going in – Actually – Dhrastrasya putraha – That all the sons of dhrtarastras are going in, and not only their warriors, our warriors are also going in, and when he sees this he becomes bewildered, what is happening over here? How is everyone going inside? And then suddenly it becomes very scary for him, and then he asks the question, Ahahi ke meko bhawanu ugrarupo ‘Who are you Oh Lord?’ Now it is actually Krishna who has shown the viswarupa – Arjuna only asked, show me the Viswarupa, and Arjuna alsow identified, “You are Visnu.” But still he is asking, “Who are you?” What this means – “Who are you?” It actually means that – Suppose we know someone, and then suddenly that person starts exhibiting a feature, that we have no idea about.
So, say we know someone, we think we know them, we are closely related with them and suddenly one day we find that they start speaking French. “Who are you really? How do you know French?” When we see something unknown within the known, that takes us aback. So, like that now Arjuna knows the Viswarupa –Viswarupa means the whole universe with hands and legs – form is there, but suddenly within that he sees such a destructive thing, and he says, ‘Who are you?’ and then Krishna answers,
kālo ’smi loka-kṣaya-kṛt pravṛddho
lokān samāhartum iha pravṛttaḥ
ṛte ’pi tvāṁ na bhaviṣyanti sarve
ye ’vasthitāḥ praty-anīkeṣu yodhāḥ
He says, ‘Time I am, the destroyer of all the worlds.’ So, actually Krishna has shown the Viswarupa many times before. He has shown to Duryodhana ealier, but within the Viswarupa first time Krishna shows the kala. Kalarupa is the destructive potency. And so Krishna – When Arjuna had asked – Arjuna had expected to see the Viswarupa – The Viswarupa is fearsome, is huge, but Viswarupa is not that destructive. So, when he sees the destructive Kalarupa, he says, ‘What is this?’, and Krishna understands his question, and therefore he doesn’t say, “I am the Viswarupa”, He says, “I am the Kala”, and then Krishna tells Arjuna – Arjuna’s whole mood changes. Initially his description – He becomes fearful, “O Please forgive me.You are such a big person, I didn’t realize it. Sometimes I teased you, sometimes I made fun of you,
sakheti matvā prasabhaṁ yad uktaṁ
he kṛṣṇa he yādava he sakheti
ajānatā mahimānaṁ tavedaṁ
mayā pramādāt praṇayena vāpi
yac cāvahāsārtham asat-kṛto ’si
eko ’tha vāpy acyuta tat-samakṣaṁ
tat kṣāmaye tvām aham aprameyam
So, he says, ‘Krishna I thought of you as an ordinary person. Please forgive me. I understand that you are extraordinary. I spoke out of affection or I spoke out of madness. Please forgive me.’ Now when he says this he tells Krishna, “I no longer want to see this universal form. Please come back to your normal form.”, and Krishna teases Arjuna over there. He says, “Arjuna, this form is so special. Nobody has seen this form, this is so rare. Even by study of Vedas you can’t see it.” But Arjuna says that “It is enough. I don’t want to see it anymore now.”
What happen is – the universal form, initially he says it is very destructive… the fire of destruction is coming out of his mouth, but then he starts seeing that the fire of destruction is destroying the warriors on that very battlefield. That becomes very scary. So, it’s like suppose we are watching T.V and we are surfing channels, and then on one channel say there is a horror movie going on, some interesting action is going on, and suddenly a horror movie comes up, and then we are watching that horror movie and just as it starts getting very horrifying – And then we find that the character of the horror movie, maybe there is a monster who is destroying big, big buildings, and suddenly you find that he is destroying your own house. The very house we are sitting in is getting destroyed, and you just get scared, “What is happening?”, and then you try to change the channel, and the remote freezes. You can’t change it. “Oh… What is happening?” So, for Arjuna it is like that. He just asked for a viswarupa but he is seeing kalarupa, and kalarupa is destroying everything. Then Arjuna says, “No, I don’t want to see it. This is enough.” Then Krishna says,
mā te vyathā mā ca vimūḍha-bhāvo
He says, “Oh Arjuna, no need to be deluded. I will show you my Swamya Rupa.” I was initially showing my ugra rupa. Ugra is a fearsome form. Saumya rupa is the gentle form, and the gentle form Arjuna sees and becomes calmed down, and then Krishna tells Arjuna that, “This universal form – by this universal form’s arrangement actually your enemies are destroyed. So, just fight, and be an instrument for attaining victory.”
tasmāt tvam uttiṣṭha yaśo labhasva
jitvā śatrūn bhuṅkṣva rājyaṁ samṛddham
mayaivaite nihatāḥ pūrvam eva
nimitta-mātraṁ bhava savya-sācin
He says, “Because of my arrangement your enemies are destroyed. So, just surrender to me, just become my instrument.” So, now we are not fighting physical battles against opponents. In our bhakti also there are opponents inside us – There is lust, there is anger, there is greed, there is selfishness, there is ego. Sometimes these enemies may seem too overwhelming.
In B.G (11.33) Krishna says, “By my arrangement all your enemies are destroyed. You just become an instrument in the fight.” So, if we just keep chanting Hare Krishna, keep practicing bhakti… each mantra that we are chanting, we are invoking Krishna’s presence. Each mantra that we are chanting it is like hitting the anarthas in the heart, and those anarthas are becoming weaker and weaker and weaker and we are going closer and closer to Krishna. So, the manifestation of the universal form is to reinforce Arjuna’s conviction that that omnipotent God is with you, just fight, don’t hesitate, don’t be fearful, and that same vision can also give us confidence that Krishna is with us. Krishna is within us and Krishna is with us, and if we just diligently practice bhakti, then Krishna will help us overcome whatever obstacles will be in our way, and thus the Bhagavat Gita’s last verse concludes with Krishna telling Arjuna in Gita (11.55) “Just work for Me, just become devoted to Me, don’t think about your enemies, think about Me, don’t have animosity towards your enemies, have attraction for me, and in this way if you work O Arjuna you will attain Me.”
So, same way without bothering too much about this world, just focus on serving Krishna. Sometimes people will be favourable, and sometimes they will be unfavourable, sometimes people will praise us and sometimes people will criticize us. Just keep serving Krishna, and by that we will attain Him.
So, I will summarize what I spoke today:
I spoke from chapter 6 to chapter 12 and focus theme was – We talked yesterday how self-knowledge is the basis of love, and God knowledge is the fuel for love. What is that will inspire us to love Krishna? If I have to go to New York before telling me how to New York, I should know why to go to New York? So, why should I love Krishna? Because He is so attractive. So, the first six chapters of the Bhagavat Gita just gives us some glimpses of Krishna, in 2.61, 3.30, 4.35, 5.29… these talk about some glimpses of Krishna as the supreme. The focus on Krishna comes in the seventh chapter. The sixth chapter is like a transition from Karma Yoga through Astanga Yoga to Bhakti Yoga. Krishna also talks about – From starting to perfection and he says, “To renounce the world we should have some level of control on the mind, and the perfection ultimately is to become attached to him.”
So, from Karma Yoga through Astanga Yoga to Bhakti Yoga, then Krishna says, “Actually by bhakti yoga itself we can directly rise to the level of attachment, and for that we need to understand Vasudevam Sarvam Iti, Krishna is everything.” That whatever is attractive in this world – Its attractiveness reflects as a spark of Krishna’s splendour.
With that understanding rather than seeing the objects of the world as attractive and competitors to Krishna we see them as pointers to Krishna, and Krishna says, “Remember Me at the time of death.” That is not just a utterance, it is a deep taking shelter of Krishna because we have experienced His shelter in our life before death, and that’s why when everything seems to be taken away from us, when we are brought down to nothing, then God is up to something.
There maybe many things which may give us shelter of Krishna – Like devotees may give shelter of Krishna, but sometimes we may not get the support from the devotees. Just like Draupadi was normally cherished by her husbands, but at that particular time they could not protect her. That time she had to take direct shelter of Krishna, focus shelter of Krishna. So, like that sometimes Krishna may give us shelter through certain things – through our abilities, through our association, through our resources, and when Krishna takes away those very abilities or associations, it is not that Krishna is rejecting us. Krishna is just ensuring that those things don’t become independent shelters. That we take shelter of Him directly, and thus we discussed how Krishna is so thirsty for devotion – That even if some people have materially motivated devotion, they are considered Udara-charitable, and His love for us is not based on how good we are, it is based on how good He is. He will always love us, but if we are too materially attached then we look for His love through the filter of our attachments, and then we can’t see His love, just as a child attached to a toy can’t see the parents love.
So, when we see from the perspective of eternity, the problems which seem very big for us they will seem small, and we won’t get so worked up about them, we won’t let them interfere with our practice of bhakti, and then in the 9th an 10th chapters Krishna talks about how universally simple worshipping him is, and how he is present everywhere in this world. We can remember Him through the attractive objects of the world. 11th chapter is a visual demonstration of what has been a verbal exposition till then, and Krishna showed the universal form. So, the unfamiliar and the familiar ask Arjuna question, Who are you? So, he has seen the Viswarupa but here first time the Kalarupa is revealed, and then the 11th chapter concludes by telling Arjuna, “That this omnipotent, fearsome manifestation of God is with you. Just do your work and you will overcome your enemies.”
Question and answer session:
Q.1- Bhisma although he took shelter of the Kauravas and he fought from his side, he didn’t protect Draupadi, still Krishna gave him his shelter at the moment of death. How is that?
CCP: Actually the Mahabharat is a very deep scripture, and it can be understood at various levels. So, Bhisma – It can be understood at the level of Karma Kanda, mundane religiosity, and it can be understood at the level of bhakti. So, Bhisma sometimes speaks at the level of mundane religiosity. He says that, “Actually I am bound by the Kauravas wealth, so I have to fight from their sides”, but that is only an external reason. The internal reason was that actually Krishna wanted to demonstrate two things – In the Draupadi pastime Krishna wanted to demonstrate that ultimately in this world we have no shelter except Krishna. That assembly that her five husbands were present, where venerable elders like Bhisma were present. That assembly where she should have felt most protected – But that’s where she was about to be violated. So, Krishna had everyone in that pastime orchestrated by His plan, so that they all acted in a way by which it was demonstrated that we have no shelter except Krishna. That is one of the transcendental perspective. From the material or the Karma Kanda perspective we can say that, actually Bhisma got caught in niyamgraha at that time. Niyamgraha is sticking to the letter of the law, while forgetting the purpose of the law. So, what happened is, he could not answer the question that – If wife belongs to the husband. Husband has gambled himself and he is not his own master, then he is his wife’s master. Can he gamble her, if he is not his own master?” So, that question Draupadi raises and Bhisma says, “I don’t know.” Wife belongs to the husband, wife is meant to be protected by the husband, but the husband is not his own master, then is the wife still under his shelter or not. He said, “I am confused, I don’t know.” Now yes, technically it may be a difficult t question to answer, but ultimately when it is said that wife belongs to the husband, the point of whatever role it was for – It was for protection. So, a woman was being violated in public, and there is no reason to get caught in the technicalities over there. It was an atrocious act –
So, now Krishna did not forget Bhisma’s devotion because he made a mistake. At the same time Krishna did not forget his mistake because he was a devotee. Both were there. So, because he had committed a mistake, because he had chosen to fight on the side of Kauravas, Krishna determined Arjuna, arranged to kill him. That – we could say is not a karmic reaction, but as a reaction for what he did for his failure to protect Draupadi, for his siding with the Kaurvas, he got the reaction and he was killed in the war, but throughout his life – That time, we could say from the transcendental perspective it was an orchestration by Krishna. From the material perspective – From the Karma Kanda perspective we could say it was a weak moment. The moment he got caught in the letter of the law – Niyamgraha. But either way Krishna did not let that mistake blind him to the life of dharma, life of bhakti that Bhisma had done.
Bhisma was a devotee, and similarly his fighting from the Kauravas side in the Kurukshetra war – That from the external perspective was – He fought because he had taken their salt as it is, lived on their money. Actually the deeper reason is, Krishna wanted to demonstrate that anybody who goes against dharma, that person no matter how powerful they may be, they will be defeated. So, having Bhisma fight in the side of the Kauravas and then having Bhisma defeated Krishna demonstrated that dharma will be successful no matter how powerfully the people who oppose them, and Bhisma accepted that service. He knew that he would be misunderstood, but Krishna inspired him to do the service and he accepted that service. If Krishna had been angry with Bhisma for having fought with the Pandavas, the as you rightly said… why cold Krishna want to be there at the time of death. Not only Krishna was there at the time of death, but Krishna also heard from him. Krishna had Yudhisthir hear from him. Why? Because Krishna had wanted to demonstrate that the lifetime of service that Bhisma had done, that should not be overlooked just because he has made a mistake. So, he had a vast amount of learning, and sometimes we all face weak moments in our life.
If some temptations catches us in a weak moment. Normally we may be very gentle and kind to others, but sometimes we may be under some stress – And f somebody comes and asks us something and we blast out at that person, and if that person holds it lifelong… you look at how they lived the rest of their life. So, Krishna wanted to demonstrate, throughout His life he had lived such a wonderful life as a dharmic peson who Krishna rewarded at the time of death. So, both levels we can understand. The karma kanda level and the bhakti level. The bhakti level is the orchestration of Krishna’s. – Whatever Bhisma did was simply by Krishna’s will to demonstrate some lessons that Krishna wanted to teach, and even if we see at the karma kanda level also we see that, for the wrong I did the reaction came, but for the right he did that also was rewarded.
Q:2 – Whenever there is criticism we always talk about how we should see criticism positively or be humble, but what about those who give criticism?
CCP: What happens is somehow after we become devotees we think that we know what is right, and therefore we think we have a right and responsibility to criticize. I know what is right, and that is wrong, and therefore I have to point it out. And we think it is my right to criticize, it is my responsibility to criticize.
Now there is a major misunderstanding in this. Yes, if we know the right, we have a responsibility to tell what is right. Now here all along – First of all we are assuming that we are right. Sometimes it may well be that we are criticizing someone because we are misunderstanding what they are doing. So, it is always good to give the other person the benefit of doubt. So, if I feel that this person is doing like this, ‘Why is he doing like this? At that time it is – What happens is, based on our perception of a person, our opinion of a person we ascribe certain intensions to their actions. That means if I don’t like someone, I see them eating a lot. Such a sense gratifier, such a glutton! If I like someone, I see them eating a lot – Must have been hungry – So, the action is the same, eating a lot, but based on our opinion there is an entirely different attribution. So, what happens, we may see some devotee doing something and we may criticize them, ‘Why are they doing like this?’ But when they are doing something, do we really know why they are doing like that?. Sometimes they may have a completely different take on things which we are not aware of. So, it is always good to give people the benefit of doubt. Instead of criticizing them, first seek clarification.
Once I was in Radha-Gopinath temple, and I had come, there was a festival, and in the festival there was a feast. So, I came to the Prasadam hall to have Prasad. After that I was talking with some people, and by the time I came down I saw that the sweet was over. So, I was feeling a little bad that I will not get the sweet. I was sitting down for Prasad, and then I saw a senior devotee sitting on the opposite side, and in his plate I could see the sweet was there and the sweet had been finished, and then he was asking everyone, “Do you have sweet?” And I was thinking, “He already had one. Normally we have sweet in limited quality.” And the devotees were telling that there were no sweet available. And one server told that there was no sweet, he asked the second server, “Do you have some sweet?” He was asking everyone. It was such an embarrassing thing, and then finally one of their servers they had made their own plate, and they brought sweet from their plate to give to him. “This was so shameless. You already had one …1.29.19… and now you are taking somebody else’ ….” And as that server was about to serve the sweet in his plate, he told, “Not for me. For him” and then he pointed to me. So, he was asking for sweet for me, but I was thinking that he was asking second …. for himself.
So, when we see a action, if somebody is asking for sweet, we see the action and we think –They want it for themselves, but they may be wanting it for someone else entirely. So, first thing is, even when we see somebody doing an action which seems odd, which seems objectionable, rather than immediately ascribing some wrong intension to it, it is best to give the benefit of doubt, and the difference between a judgemental devotee and a non-judgemental devotee is that a judgemental devotee talks about others, whereas a non-judgmental devotee talks to others. Talks about others means… ‘He did like that, she did like that” we tell the whole world what they did. We talk about others, but a non-judgemental devotee is talks to others ‘Prabhu/Mataji, I saw this, I could not understand what was happening over here, can you please explain.’ Just go and clarify. So, quite often we may find an explanation which will be very different, and the whole need of criticism will go away.
So, whenever we feel the urge to criticize, the first thing is, give the person a benefit of doubt and seek clarification, and that itself may avoid most of the criticism. Second is that, now you come to the level where that person is wrong, and we know that they are wrong, and again if they are wrong, we have to check whether it is our responsibility to correct. So, I will talk about when it is not our responsibility, but suppose, assuming it is our responsibility – Now, we are in the position of authority and then we have to correct. So, even then we have to know that there are two things – There is knowing what is the right thing to do, and second is – Feeling inspired to do the right thing. Then we are correcting others, often we simply give the knowledge of what is the right thing to do, but when that knowledge comes off as a criticism, sounds as a judgemental thing, then they may further become discouraged, and they may not just not feel like doing it. So, if we are to help others, we are meant to not only give the knowledge of what is the right thing, pointing out the wrong thing, but also to give them the encouragement and inspiration to do the right thing.
There was a survey done in ..1.32.15… university in America. There is a group of writing students – A group of boys who thought that, “We all want to become good writers. So, whatever we write we will review and we will point the faults in what we have written, and by that we all will improve. Then there was a group of girls. They said, “We will do the opposite of what the boys have done.” They said, “Whatever we write, we will all point the good in what we have written, and then the researchers followed them after 10 years, and they found that this group of boys – Not one of them had become a published author, and several of them – Even writing a serious letter – That would make the break sweat. They would always be fearful. On the other hand among the girls, three of them had become published authors, and all the other girls – There were known among their friend circles as good writers. So, what happened? One was that they got feedbacks, but the feedback was discouraging, and they just lost the desire to write. They just got so much fear of writing – Oh if I write something it will be wrong, better not write only. On the other hand the girls got encouragement and they became good writers.
So, the point is both did the same thing in a sense. Both wanted to improve their writing, but one focussed on the right, and the other focussed on the wrong.
So, Krishna says in the Bhagavat Gita, 16th Chapter, that the Godly people, the divine natured – Their characteristic is apaisunam. Apaisunam means aversion to fault finding. That they don’t like to find faults. They like to see the good in others. On the other hand, he says of the demoniac, what is their characteristics? parasyama eva ca. They like to speak harshly, they like to find fault with others.
Verse not found (1:34:20-26)
There are some people who think that their cleverness is seen in their expertise in insulting others. “I offered such a clever insult to that person.” So, they think, “I am so clever.” What is the result of that? If people become discouraged – And especially say our boss in our office criticizes us, we will tolerate it because we need the job, but bhakti is a voluntary activity. If we criticize others, they may just give up the practice of bhakti.
So, when it is voluntary we have to be all the more careful. So, when criticism is to be given we have to not only – Ok, point out the fault, but point out the fault in a way that encourages people to do the right thing.
So, often it is said that we can use the sandwich formula. Sandwich formula means, first appreciate the person, then point out the room for correction, the again appreciate the person. So basically, what should happen is, when there is criticism the person should not feel rejected. If the person feels valued and accepted, and then you can say, “Ok, this what you did was wrong, you can improve this.” So, if our normal mode of interaction with others is criticism – Whenever we see someone – “Oh you are doing this wrong.” Then people become very discouraged.
If you not in a position to criticize others, then better don’t speak anything. There are many things wrong in this world. Similarly there are many things wrong in Krishna’s movement also. Krishna’s movement is like a hospital. In the hospital different people have different sicknesses. When we go to a hospital, we are not going to see who has got what sickness? We are going there to cure our sickness. Similarly we don’t have to go in the devotee community to see who is doing what wrong things. Yes, there are wrong things going on because they are all sick people. We need to focus on whether we are doing the right thing.
Now sometimes some people may be doing something wrong which just agitates our mind so much. So, somebody maybe doing something which may disturb us so much. Then maybe we can politely tell that devotee or we can tell that senior, ‘No, this is troubling me.’, and then we can get a proper understanding of that, but in general we shouldn’t think that – If I have no relationship with that person, then – If I am not in the position of authority, then to give correction it may …1.37.20… the person.
Krishna says, ‘An austerity of speech.. the first is anudwegna karam vakyam…speak in a way that does not agitate people.’ So, I want to say that the only time when we can say that we are advanced enough to criticize others is when we get no pleasure in doing so.
Sometimes you know – “Oh, I caught you doing wrong now. You think you are such a great person. I will show you how foolish you are.” It may not be so graphic, but basically we get some pleasure in pointing out other’s faults, and then if we are getting pleasure in pointing out others faults, then that means it’s our ego in action. Then what happens, when the words come from our ego, they activate other persons ego. When the words comes from our heart, they reach their heart. So, if we are motivated by genuine concern for their well-being, then we will choose the appropriate words, the appropriate tone, the appropriate forum. We should never criticize in public. In private one to one. It is said, raise in public, criticize in private. So, like that we will do the appropriate things by which we will touch their hearts and inspire them to go ahead.
So, yes it is a very important responsibility that we speak sensitively. Otherwise we can terribly hurt people, and then they become discouraged, they go away from Krishna. Then what have done. We made a point, I proved that they were wrong and I was right – But what does it serve? Ultimately our service to Krishna, our relationship with Krishna is not just dependent on how we are relating with Him on the altar. It is also depended on how we are relating with others, based on their relationship with Krishna.
So, if our interactions with devotees are discouraging devotees, then that is going to hurt our relationship with Krishna also, and if we take the time, the thought, the sensitivity and speak properly to devotees, then that is going to positively set our relationship with Krishna also. Krishna will be pleased.
So, it is a strong temptation in Kali Yuga in both ways. First is that in Kali Yuga there are so many faults. Everybody has faults. So, in that sense to find faults and speak faults is so easy to do it. So, externally there a many faults, and internally also we have a fault finding tendency. Because of that the force can become very strong, and that time we can check that force by remembering that whether my speaking this is serving the purpose.
Now often we have some standards, and those standards need to be maintained but the standards also can be maintained in a way that we don’t hurt people. Ok, we have to do the deity worship in a particular way, and somebody may be doing it in a wrong way. We need to correct them first. It doesn’t meant that we don’t correct, but we correct in a way that people feel encouraged, not feel rejected or discouraged.
So offering criticism is a very subtle skill, and those who are offering that criticism they have to do in a very mature, sensitive, well thought out way, otherwise we can just break people’s hearts, and then we actually commit violence to people because we damage their spiritual prospects.
So, we think not just in terms of this is right and this is wrong and I have to point it out. We should think that whether pointing this out is going to help this person coming close to Krishna or not. Whether I have the adhikar, whether I have the relationship, whether I have the position by which I can help this person come closer to Krishna.
If Prabhupada had been fault-finding when he came to America, the hippies – Their only regulative principle was to break all regulative principles. So, if Prabhupada had been finding faults he would not have been able to attract anyone. Although faults were there but Prabhupada saw the good in them. He saw that they have a small spark of devotion, but he focussed on that and fanned that, and that is how he was able to attract people. So, we should also try to follow his footsteps.
Question: Is Krishna thirsty for our love when He has so many goddesses of fortune who love Him so much and our love is also contaminated because of so many things which displease Him.
CCP: Yes, because for Krishna every soul is special. Krishna has unlimited devotees, but He also has unlimited capacity, and that is the difference between Krishna and any other object. Sometimes say in this world or in movies we may have a love triangle. Two boys love the same girl, and then that girl has to choose. If she chooses one boy, then she no longer will be lovable by the other boy. So, the lovers in this world are finite, but Krishna is infinite. So, Krishna can be in your heart fully available to you, and Krishna can still be in my heart and be fully available to me. That’s what the Rasa Lila demonstrates. Krishna was with gopi, and each gopi felt as if Krishna is only with me. So, like that –
In the Venakatesh Supravhatam it is said that there are hundreds and thousands of gopis who came when Krishna played his flute, on hearing his flute song, and Krishna expanded Himself in such a way that he was there with every single gopi and he made every single gopi feel love, cherish treasure, and they say, ‘Such a Lord, who else can I want. I don’t know any Lord other than such a wonderful Lord.’
So, like that Krishna has unlimited, exalted devotees, but Krishna has a personal relationship with each one of us, and He wants that relationship each one of us. So He wants the love from each one of us.
So, when we say Krishna is thirsty for love, it is not thirst in the sense of incompleteness. It is thirst… somebody may form a relationship because they are incomplete. The feel that without someone else I am incomplete, and I want to become complete. But when Krishna wants a relationship it is not because He is incomplete, it is not because He wants to remove His incompleteness. Rather it is because he wants to share His completeness. Share his completeness means, he is full of happiness and he just wants to share that happiness with others.
We hear Prabhupada write in the Bhagavatam first canto that, Krishna is more eager for us to come to him than we are to go to him. We can’t even imagine.
So, His thirst for our love is because He loves each one of us individually, and it is not that many other devotees can substitute in our place for them, because each one of us have a individual unique relationship with Him.
(End of Transcription)
Transcription of summary
I spoke today from chapter 6 to chapter 12, and the focus of the theme was… we talked yesterday about self-knowledge being the basis of love, and God knowledge being the fuel for love. What is that which will inspire us to love Krishna?
If I have to go to New York, before telling you how to go to New York, I should know why to go to New York. So, why should I love Krishna? Because He is so attractive. The first six chapters of the Bhagavat Gita just give us some glimpses of Krishna; B.G 2.61, B.G 2.30, B.G 4.35 & B.G 5.29, they talk about some glimpses of Krishna as supreme. The focus on Krishna comes in the seventh chapter. The sixth chapter is like a transition from Karma Yoga to asthanga yoga to bhakti yoga.
Krishna talks about… from starting to perfection… and He says, ‘To renounce the world we should have some level of control of our mind, and perfection ultimate is to become attached.’ So, from karma yoga to ashanga or to bhakti yoga… then Krishna says, ‘Actually by bhakti yoga itself you can directly rise to the level of attachment, and for that we need to understand Vasudeva sarvam iti, that Krishna is everything.
Whatever is attractive in this world… its attractiveness reflects a spark of Krishna’s splendour. With that understanding, rather than seeing the objects of this world as attractive and competitors to Krishna, we see them as pointers to Krishna; and if Krishna says, ‘Remember Me at that time of death’, that is not just utterance, it is a deep taking shelter of Krishna, because we have experienced a shelter in our life before death, and that is when everything seems to be taken away from us, when we are brought down to nothing… then God is something.
There are many things which may give us shelter of Krishna. Like devotees can give us shelter of Krishna, but sometimes we may not get the support from devotees. Just like Draupadi was cherished by her husband, but at that particular time they couldn’t protect her. Sometimes she had to take direct shelter of Krishna or focus shelter on Krishna.
So, like that sometimes Krishna may give us shelter through certain things: through our abilities, through our association, through our resources etc., and when Krishna takes away those very abilities, resources or association, it’s not that Krishna is rejecting us; Krishna is just ensuring us that those things don’t become independent shelters. That is… we take shelter of Him directly; and thus we discussed how Krishna is so thirsty for devotion, that even if some people are of a materially motivated devotion, he considers them Udara or charitable, and his love for us is not based on how we are but it is based on how good He is. He would always love us, but if we are too materially attached, then we look for His love through the filter of our attachments, and then we can’t see His love. Just as a child attached to his toy can’t see the parents love.
So, when we see from the perspective of our eternity, the problems which seem very big for us… they will seem small, and we won’t get so worked up about them. We won’t let them interfere with our practice of bhakti; and then in the ninth and the 10th chapters Krishna talks about how universal and simple worshipping Him is, and how He is present everywhere in this world.
We can remember Him through the attractive objects of this world. The eleventh chapter gives a visual demonstration of what has been a verbal exposition till then, and in that Krishna shows the universal form. So, the unfamiliar and the familiar asked Arjuna the question, ‘Who are you?’… So, he has seen the Viswarupa but here the first time the Kala rupa is revealed, and then the eleventh chapter concludes that… ‘Anyway Arjuna, that this omnipotent fearsome manifestation of God is with you, just do your work and you will overcome you enemies.’
Thank you very much.
(Transcription by Sadananda Krishnaprema Prabhu)