Demons in krishna-lila 4 – Vatsasura – Weakness is forgivable, wickedness isn’t
[Class at ISKCON, Seattle, USA]
Transcribed by: Sadananda Prabhu
Demons in krishna-lila 4 – Vatsasura – Weakness is forgivable, wickedness isn’t.
Till now we talked about Putana, Saktasur, and then Trinavarta. Now we will talk about the demon named Vatsasura. Krishna as he grew up, one after another there were many dangers that were coming, and the Vrajavasis became alarmed. So, they decided to move from Gokul where all these dangerous demons were coming to Vrindavana. They thought that in this place there is something inauspicious, and because of that maybe too many bad things were happening there. So, they thought that it was better to move away from there. For instance, if we have children and we are staying in a particular locality, and there are too many unpleasant and dangerous incidents like accident, stealing or thuggery taking place there, then the parents may feel that it is not very safe locality to live in, and that it is a better idea to move to another locality. Similarly, the Vrajavasis felt that maybe this is not a safe locality. So, they had a discussion, and finally they decided that it was a better idea to move to another place. They thought, “Vrindavan is a beautiful place, and if we go there, there will be auspiciousness.” Thinking like this, they packed all their belongings onto huge carts, and they started moving. Then when they settled in Vrindavan, by this time, Krishna had also started growing. And although before this Krishna had come out of Gokul, and he had moved around here and there, but he had never gone deep into the forest, because he was just a small child. But this time when they had their carts going through, Krishna and Balram were sitting in the laps of Yasoda and Rohini, and they were asking, “What is this bird, this tree, this flower?” The nature of the children is that they are an endless source of curiosity. They are so excited, and then, finally when they came to Vrindavan, they were happy. But then Krishna started thinking, “The forest was such fun, but we just passed by once. If only we could explore there, it would be so nice.” And then he started thinking, “How will I get my parents to allow me to go out and explore there?” Then he got an idea and told his father, Nada Maharaja, “We are all cowherds, you are a cowherd, and I also have to become a cowherd in the future. So, please, it is now the time for me. Please give me my own cows to take care of.” Nanda Maharja was surprised. Normally, if children have to be given some responsibility, the parents sometimes push the children by telling them to study or do some courses in the home, or they tell them to do some things that need to be done. The children normally don’t come up themselves to do it. For Nanda Maharaja it was surprise. He started thinking about it, and then naturally he discussed with Yasoda Mayi, and Yasoda Mayi said, “What are you talking about? He is still a child. He is still drinking my breast milk. How can he go alone into the forest?” While Nanda Maharaja and Yasoda Mayi were sitting and discussing, Krishna knew that the fate of his dream was based on this discussion. When they were discussing inside a room, Krishna was at the door hearing with his ears, and then when Yasoda Mayi said, “No.”, then, immediately Krishna burst in and said, “Yasoda Mayi, you don’t allow me to have any fun. I am not going to listen to you. Whatever you think or whatever you are going to say, I am going to go to the forest.” Like this, when he said Nanda Baba that he wanted to go, Yasoda Mayi was surprised and shocked to see this defiance of Krishna. But Krishna wass very intelligent. In fact, when small children want to get something done, they know exactly how to do it. What happened over here is, Yasodamayi was saying, “No. Krishna should not go” and Krishna was saying, “I want to go.” And Nanda Maharaja was caught in between, and he didn’t know what to do. As he was thinking about it, suddenly Krishna changed tactic, and he said, “O Yasodamayi, all my cowherd boys and my friends will be with me. I will be safe. You don’t have to worry, and I will not go very far into the forest. Don’t worry. I will be safe.” Saying this Krishna made such a pitiable face that Yasodamayi just could not refuse. She just didn’t have the heart to refuse him at that time, and then Krishna said, “Nanda Baba, I want to go to the forest.” When he spoke like this, Nanda Baba looked at Yasoda Mayi, and to his surprise Yasoda Mayi remained silent, and Krishna was jumping with joy, “Yes, I will go to the forest. I will go with the cows.” Now, at that time, Nanda Baba didn’t tell. Krishna was thinking that he will go with the cows, but Nanda Baba decided that he should not go with the cows first, but rather he should go with the calves. Then there was a festival called Gopasthami. That was the time when Krishna was entrusted the care of the cows. Yasoda Mayi was still worried thinking what will happen to her little baby if he goes to the forest, because there were so many dangers in the forest like thorns, pebble, brambles etc. She said, “Krishna, I will give you some shoes. You can wear this footwear so that your feet will be protected.” Krishna looked at the footwear and he said, “We are gopas, and we are meant to take care of the cows and serve them.” Yasoda mayi knew that this question was going somewhere which was unpleasant. Krishna continued, “That means that actually we are the servant of the cows, and the cows are our masters. Then if I am going to wear shoes, then all my cows should also have shoes.” Nanda maharja had thousands of cows, and so, Yasodamayi said, “We don’t have so many shoes. But Krishna, you should have shoes.” Krishna said, “If the cows are not going to wear shoe, then I am also not going to wear shoes.” Then Yasodamayi became very anxious thinking what will happen to Krishna if he doesn’t wear any shoe. While this conversation was going on in the courtyard of the house, in the nearby sheds the cows were hearing. The cows loved Krishna just like Yasoda Mayi loved him. So, the cows were also like a mother for Krishna, and they were also as concerned for Krishna as Yasoda Mayi was. And the cows started thinking, “Our hooves are tough and they don’t get hurt, but Krishna’s feet are tender and they will get hurt. So, if Krishna wants to serve us by giving up his shoe, we also want to serve him.” And their desire to serve Krishna was so strong, that that night the ropes that were tying the cows to the sheds suddenly opened, and all the cows came out of their sheds, and they ran out to the forest of Vrindavan. The cows ran over the paths where Krishna would walk the next day and started stamping their heavy hooves over there, and by stamping their heavy hooves they broke all the pebbles, thorns and the sharp branches to powder, and thus they made the whole dust of Vrindavan very soft and gentle. Krishna’s love for the cows was so much that he did not use anything that the cows did not have. But the cows did not want Krishna to suffer. So, they made the whole Vrindavan filled with soft dust. All night they were going across Vrindavan and finding every place where there might be anything sharp, and as soon as they found, they crushed it to powder. And then they came back. Such was the concern of everyone in Vrindavan for Krishna. And actually, similar was the concern of Krishna for everyone in Vrindavana. So, the next morning when Krishna had to go, he called his friends and blew the horn he had, and all his friends came running. And when they all came running, then Krishna was so happy, and they all started going out. When they started going out, at that time, Nanda Baba and Yasoda Mayi were so concerned that they started following Krishna. When Krishna went to the forest, they kept following him. Some of the cowherd boys were older than Krishna, and they had already started going to the forest. When they were going, none of their parents were there. But Krishna was feeling embarrassed because only his parents were there. And so, Krishna, looking back at his parents was saying, “I know how to herd the cows. Please go back. I will take care of things.” But his parents said, “No, we will come just today.” Krishna said, “Just for today you go back. Tomorrow you come. This is my first day.” Krishna was embarrassed because all the gopas were looking at him and making fun at his expense. So, he was looking at them, and then he was looking at his mother. His parents said, “Krishna, don’t go so far. If we tell you to go only by this route, you go only by this route. Don’t go anywhere else.” Thus, his parents saw Krishna off. As Krishna was going into the forest, all the Vrajavasis were looking at him. Nanda Baba and Yasodamayi came out of their house and the forest path, and everyone was coming out. They were trying to catch sight of Krishna as far as their eyes could see. Later the gopis in the Gopi Geeta say, “Krishna, when you go into the forest to graze the cow, at that time the only thought that comes in our mind throughout the day is that, your feet are as soft as the lotus flower. What will happen to those lotus feet when they are pierced by the thorns of Vrindavan?” The cows had done this protection, but the gopa’s and the gopi’s didn’t know that Krishna is protected like this. They were thinking that the forest of Vrindavan was still filled with dangers. Because of that they were still in a lot of anxiety. And they said, “Krishna, just the thought that one thorn will pierce your foot, that thought pierces our heart, and in fact it rips our heart apart. Please come back.” And then, when Krishna would go to the forest, the Vrajavasis heart would go with him. The gopis would say, “Krishna, when you go to the forest, at that time, one moment appears to be like a whole yuga for us, and it appears as if time is never ending.” Suppose we have been fasting all day and we are feeling tormented by thirst and hunger, and then it is nine o’ clock. And say there are three more hours left to break the fast. That time we are tormented by hunger and thirst, and then we look at the clock. At that time, we feel like as if time is going very slowly. If we long for something very strongly in the future, then we are living for that future, and the journey from the present to the future simply seems to be like an interference that we want to get over with. For example, suppose there is an exciting movie going on and the fighting scene has come to a climax, when the villain has knocked the hero down from the mountain cliff, and say the hero is somehow holding on, and the villain is somehow about to stamp his feet on the hands of the hero. And right at that time if a commercial break comes, we will feel so angry that we will feel that one moment is unbearable. Like that for the gopis also it was unbearable.
Everybody in Vrindavan was worried about Krishna thinking how is Krishna, and when he is going to come back. In fact, the gopis prayed that they are at home, and they are looking at the sky, and they see, “Oh the sun is so fortunate because it able to behold Krishna, but we are not.” And then, as they are looking at the sky, they find that sometimes the sun is there and sometimes it gets covered by clouds. And then the gopis start thinking, “When the sun was not covered by the clouds, maybe then the sun became very hot. As the sun was looking at Krishna, he must have started sweating, and that’s why this cloud wanted to give some shade to Krishna. The cloud is now serving Krishna, but alas! we are so far away that we can’t serve Krishna. And then a slight drizzle is coming.” At that time, the gopis think, “Actually, because of the sun, Krishna must have felt very hot. That’s why the cloud is serving Krishna by drizzling some water over here, and then as the sun is concealed behind the cloud, and because the sun is falling on the cloud, the clouds dry up. When the clouds dry up, at that time, the clouds move aside and the sun comes back again. And then the Vrajavasis think, “O the sun is again serving Krishna now. Maybe the rains were too much, and now the clouds are gone, and now the sun is drying Krishna.” So, they are thinking the nature – the sun, the cloud etc. all have an opportunity to serve Krishna, but we are so unfortunate that we don’t have an opportunity to serve Krishna. Every night when Krishna would come back, all of Vrindavan would come out to see Krishna, and they would all be waiting, “When is Krishna going to come?” And then when Krishna would come, the first sign that Krishna is coming would be, that a huge dust cloud would come over there. Dust cloud would be there because all the calves would be ahead, and those cows, as they would be walking, the hooves of the calves’ when they would fall on the ground, would cause dust to rise. Normally, if we are driving, and if some mist comes in the way, or if we are looking for something and a mist or dust cloud comes in the way, we would be annoyed. But the vrajavasis would be delighted when the dust cloud would come. Although they would not see anything, they knew that not seeing anything is the sign that now they were going to see something wonderful; that they were going to see their Lord. Just the sight of the dust cloud will fill them with joy, and then as the calves would come forward, the dust cloud would go down. As the dust cloud would go down, they will start seeing the calves, and they will be looking for Krishna. At that age Krishna was not very tall. He was a little taller than the calves. So, they would try to catch sight of Krishna, but what Krishna would do is, he would be right at the back of all the calves, because Krishna is a caring cowherd. He would make sure that not a single calf would get lost. He would be behind all of them watching which calf would be running in which direction. And if the calf would run away, Krishna knew the name of every one of the calves, and he would call them with such love that wherever they would want to run away, they would come back just to hear Krishna call them. And then Krishna would return behind all of them. Such was the way in which Krishna’s boyhood pastimes continued, where Krishna was reciprocating love with the cows and his cowherd boyfriends, in the daytime, in the morning and in the evening. He would be reciprocating love with his parents. In this ideal setting where wonderful things were going on, suddenly something terrible happened. The world is such a place that danger can come upon us in the least unexpected way. We may think that some activities are so safe. Normally we come back home after we are tired, and we sit down at our dining table, and we say, “Now is the time when I want to have food.” We want to relax and have food, but there are so many people who while eating food, sometimes get a problem. One time I was travelling from one place to another, and I was there in the airport. I was just taking prasad, and in the food, somehow there were dates whose seeds were removed. I was eating those dates with the seeds removed, and among those dates somehow there was one seed which is just left as it is. I just took that and ate it, and the seed came right in the way. I chewed it and I could hear a cracking sound. My tooth broke, and instead of the seed coming out, my tooth came out filled with flood. Normally we would think that eating is a safe activity. We don’t think of eating as a dangerous activity. But the Bhagavatam says that there is danger at every step. But actually, even without any step also there can be danger. Sitting at one place also there can be danger. Anyway, normally, cows are considered to be very gentle and sweet creatures, and baby cows are so much sweeter and attractive. One of Kamsa’s demons came in that garb. He arranged in such a way that he took on the form of a vatsa. Vatsa is a gentle and small calf. And when he came in that form, he just sneaked in. Normally, everyday the calves go out. So, what vatsa did was, he appeared to be just like one of the calves. These demons can not only take a form, but they can take on any form, and they can impersonate that form in such a way that they appear authentically like that. Of course, they appear to authenticate to those who do not have the sharp vision to see. Just like if we have two twins, from a distance the two twins look exactly similar, but when we get to know each of them, then we understand that they have their personality and individuality. After knowing them for some time, we may think, “How could I have thought that the two of them are identical? They are so different.” Similarly, from a distance two cows may appear to very similar, but for one who has a personal relationship with the cows, they can make out each calf that is there. As this Vatsasur just joined the calves, he did not know what a loving bond was there between Krishna and the calves. When he just sneaked in, he thought, “I am just looking like another calf.” He had made his form that looked very similar to all the other calves. And he thought that he was safe. But Krishna was looking at all the calves, and while he was looking at the calves, at that time he immediately noticed and said, “Who is this?” So, although he had put on his mask or appearance, but he could not deceive Krishna. In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna says, among deceivers I am the greatest deceiver. In every field of expertise Krishna is the most expert. But still, Vatsasur came to deceive Krishna, and we will see that each of these demons take such forms, like Putana took the form of a nurse and Vatsasur took the form of calf. And while everyone else was deluded, but Krishna was not deluded. It is interesting that in this case Vatsasur took such a form that even other calves got deluded. When in the Ramayana, when Maricha took a form of a deer, at that time he was just prancing around the hermitage of Ram and Sita, and Sita’s attention was attracted. Ravana in the form of Maricha wanted to attract Sita, and so, he sorts of overdid his costume. Like sometimes people want to look attractive, and what happens is that, they may put so much make up and costume that they look artificial because of that. So, what happened was that, he wanted to attract Sita, and so he overdid his costume, and he overdid it so much, and he looked such an attractive deer that Sita became attracted towards him, and then, she told to Ram, “Can you get that deer for me?” and then Laxman said, “I don’t think that this deer belongs to the 8.4 million species. Just look, though a deer is a harmless creature, the other animals like the squirrel and birds are all keeping a long distance. This is not a deer.” Laxman, at that time concluded, “I think this is a demon who is impersonating as a deer.” But Sita was so attracted that she said, “Laxman, why are you so suspicious? It is such an attractive deer. O Ram, please go and get this deer for me.” The point I am making here is, when Maricha impersonated as a deer, at that time the other animals were not deceived, but Vatsasur impersonated as a Vatsa, and took on the form of a calf so well, that none of the other calves were keeping a distance from him. The other calves thought that he is just one of them. But what happened? Krishna noticed, and he looked at Balaram and said, “Dauji, is this one of our calves, or is it someone impersonating as a calf?” Balaram looked carefully and he nodded. This calf was just moving around looking here and there, and the calf was actually there waiting for an opportunity to attack Krishna, but Krishna was waiting for an opportunity to catch the calf. Then, as there were so many calves moving here and there, Krishna quietly came behind the calf, and before the demon could understand what had happened, suddenly he found himself lifted off the ground high up in the sky. He started looking here and there, and Krishna just picked up the calf by his left hand, and started whirling him in the air. And as he was whirling him, he whirled him so fast and forcefully that the demon lost consciousness, and almost lost his life there itself. And then after whirling him in a heavy speed, Krishna hurled him into the trees. He crashed into the tree and fell down. And as he was crashing into the tree and falling down, suddenly his form changed from that of a tender looking calf to a giant, grotesque looking demon. And as the demon fell down dead, the devatas who were observing this from the sky were astounded because it was such a fierce demon and Krishna so effortlessly just finished it. And they all started showering flowers on Krishna. Such was the effortless way in which Krishna destroyed all the demons. It was as if a child is playing with toys. One characteristic of Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavan is that he never picks up any weapons. No matter how fierce a demon who comes, Krishna just effortlessly takes care of those demons, like a child playing. Bhaktivinod Thakur explains that this demon Vatsasur represents wickedness. Wickedness is different from weakness. All of us have weaknesses. It may be lust, anger, greed, envy, arrogance or illusion. We all have these weaknesses within us. It means that we might get angry, and when we get angry at someone, we yell at them, or we speak harsh words at them. This is anger. Normally, all of us have some of these weaknesses. What the word weakness means is that they make us weak. Or that there is a particular, strong and principled way in which we want to behave, but these weaknesses sabotage us, and they make us behave in unbecoming ways. When does weakness become wickedness? Who is weak and who is wicked? Last year when I was in New Jersey, I was invited to a mental health care center to speak to the mental health care providers. This is because they have to provide mental health care to the patients, and because of that, over a period of time they themselves get stressed. One of them was telling me that they had a patient who had come into their facility, and this patient had not been told that he was going to be admitted there. He had been told to just come for consultation. But when he came to know that he was going to be admitted, he got so angry that within three minutes he actually destroyed $10,000 worth of equipment over there. They had armed sentries who came and stopped him, but even before those people could come – normally, all of us have anger, but nobody can say that they are completely free from anger. Although all of us have anger, there are different ways in which we may express our anger. When some people get angry, they just give others the silent treatment. Like small children if they quarrel with each other, they may give a silent treatment to the other person by not talking to him. Or sometimes if people get angry, they may talk in small grunts, or not speak in any pleasant and agreeable way. Some people may go to the other extreme when they get angry, and they start yelling at others. It is like a dam has broken and all kinds of birds are flowing from there. Some people, when they get angry, they may not just verbally abusive, but they may become physically abusive where they start slapping, hitting or punching. And sometimes, someone may go to such an extreme, that may take up a sharp and dangerous object, and start hitting. Sometimes in case of a road rage, if somebody honks a person from behind, a person may even shoot a person with a gun. There are a lot of deaths which happen because of road rage. All of these are varying degrees of anger. So, we all have weaknesses, but when our weaknesses make us act in ways that hurt others, that is when they become extremely dangerous, and that is when people need mental health care. That is when some serious intervention is required, and if somebody does not try to rectify their weakness – weakness may be there, and it may express itself in different degrees, but on top of that if somebody has weakness, and if the weakness is expressed in dangerous ways – but if instead of battling to control it, if they simply try to cover it up as if it is nothing wrong has happened, it is very bad. So, our weaknesses need to be cured, not covered. Somebody covers them and pretends that hey are very nice person. In Western literature there is the story of Dr. Jackal and Mr. Hide. The same person was a very compassionate doctor who would go out of his way to take care of patient, but at night that person would become like a terrible criminal who do horrible things. So, if we cover up our weaknesses and don’t try to even deal with them, then we become two face like this. It is said that some people are wise and some people are otherwise. (laughter) and it is not just that. But we also sometimes are wise and sometimes are otherwise. Sometimes we speak and act so insensitively, intelligently and kindly, that sometimes it is like a different person has come within us, and suddenly we start behaving in very strange and scary ways at times.
When somebody has a weakness, that is dangerous. And if instead of dealing with it, if they are simply covering it up, and acting as if they are normal, that’s when it tends towards wickedness. If somebody is harsh and wicked, it doesn’t make one wicked. But if they are harsh and cruel, and they don’t feel anything wrong about, and they don’t do anything to correct it. Then it becomes extremely dangerous. All of us have a voice inside us which tells us not to do something whenever are about to do something wrong. That is the voice of conscience, and this voice of conscience is actually like our inner protector. Just like, when we are about to put our hand in fire or when the hand is about to go in fire, at that time we feel pain. The pain is not pleasant, but the pain which is unpleasant protects us from something which is even more unpleasant – that is the whole hand getting burned. So, the unpleasantness of pain saves us from greater unpleasantness of a scar on a burned hand. Similarly, when we are about to do something wrong, or when we do something wrong, at that time we feel guilt within us. When this guild is felt, it’s not pleasant, because for any of us to admit that we are wrong is quite difficult. So, this guilty feeling is an unpleasant feeling. However, the conscience, which sometimes tells us that we are doing wrong is like our inner protector. What pain does at a physical level, the sensation of guilt which comes form our conscience, does at a subtler or at a behavioral level – “Hey I should not have done like that, I should not have spoken like this, I should not have acted like that.” Even if we do something wrong, the conscience reminds us, “You did something wrong.” And then we do something to correct it. But this conscience is “Not a given”. “Not a given” means, the conscience doesn’t always stay as it is. If we keep doing something wrong again and again, then the conscience dies out. It becomes so silent that it almost become like dead. There are people who are sociopaths and psychopaths. They just heartlessly kill others. For them the conscience is completely deadened. Their conscience is numbed and dumbed, and later they dump their consciousness. When the conscience is numbed, dumbed and dumped, at that time the person becomes very dangerous. So, our weaknesses are there within us, and we can’t get rid of those immediately. We may have lust, anger or greed. We can’t get rid of them, but are we trying to deal with them, or are we trying to simply cover them up? “Cover them up” means that when we feel that we did something wrong, rather than admitting it, we say, “Nothing is wrong, everything is right.” So, Vatsasur had a wicked intension. He was not just angry and cruel, he was also wicked. Why? Because actually to kill someone itself is brutal; but to come to Vrindavan where everybody is so worried about Krishna, and where everybody’s heart is in Krishna, and everybody is concerned about Krishna, and there to take on the form of the most innocent and harmless creature – normally a cow is also gentle, but sometimes the cow is big, and the cow may seem to be a little dangerous. But a calf is so small and tender. But this demon took the form of the calf and came. So, he was not just angry or violent, but he was wicked. Wicked because he was covering up his anger and malevolence under a mask of gentleness and kindness. So, when this happens – when somebody is two-faced and wicked like this, that means that they are having unholy, unhealthy and unwholesome desires within them, but they are not at all trying to restrain them. And if some voice tells them to restrain, they restrain that voice. Instead of restraining the unwanted desires, they restrain the voice that tells them that this desire is unwanted, and that way they remove all the inner restrains to them, and then they can do terrible things. So, for all us, we have weaknesses within us, but even if the weaknesses are there, we have to be careful that they don’t get degenerated to the level of wickedness. Wickedness means that we don’t feel anything wrong about doing terrible things. Not only that we may actually do the thing which may hurt others, but we may think that it is ok, because that is just the way we are. Having some weakness is not the problem; that we all have. But covering it up and denying it, and then acting as if everything is nice, when actually that weakness is hurting others, that is when it becomes a very serious problem. Krishna has to actually kill Vatsasura, and that wickedness was killed by Krishna. Similarly, for us, there are certain anarthas which can be forgiven, and certain which needs to be punished. Forgiveness is a very important spiritual virtue. If somebody does something wrong, we should have the capacity to forgive, but at the same time forgiveness is not the supreme virtue. It is dharma which is the supreme virtue. The same Krishna who is such a loving god in Vrindavan tells Arjuna to fight a war against the Kauravas. Krishna does tell to forgive the Kauravas for whatever wrongs they may have done. Krishna gives them the chance also. Before the Kuruksetra he came as a shanti duta and personally petitioned peace. Now Duryodhana had done grievous wrongs. Somebody may say that it was the envy within Duryodhana that made him do it. Envy can be weakness, and sometimes we all feel envy towards someone when they do better than what we are doing, or because materially they may have a bigger house or a car or a brighter child. Even in spiritual life, if somebody does better than us, we might feel envious of them. But envy is a weakness, and when that envy changes, whereby we start to hurt others or we try to pull them down or destroy them, then that is when it become dangerous. Now that is what Duryodhana had done. He had tried to poison Bhima when he was a teenager. Then he hatched a whole conspiracy to burn the Pandavas alive. Then he had defrauded them of their whole kingdom. Then he had tried to dishonor and disrobe Draupadi. And after that he had sent the Pandavas to the forest for thirteen years, including one humiliating year of incognito exile. And yet after doing all this, when Krishna came to petition for peace, Duryodhana had not the slightest sense of remorse. He felt that he had done nothing wrong. In fact, he went to such an extent that he said, “After great introspection if I look at myself, I don’t see the slightest fault in whatever I have done.” Then he goes further to say, “All of us have our nature, and I have simply acted according to my nature. So, if anyone who is to be blamed, blame the creator who has given me my nature.” Now, Krishna did not give us our nature. It is we who have got our nature by our past life karma. When children are born, some may be gentle and sweet, and some may be angry. So, each child has a particular nature which comes from his or her previous life. We are bound to our nature, but we are not bound by our nature. Our nature may limit us in some ways, but our nature doesn’t determine everything that we do. Our nature is like a big heavy bag which we have to carry, but still, even with that bag we have certain control. So, Duryodhana slowed not the slightest remorse. And not only that, when Krishna petitioned for peace on the most accommodating of terms, he said, just give five villages; Duryodhana’s response was, I won’t give enough land even to put the tip of the needle through. Sometimes when we say “No”, there is “No” to a request, and then there is “No” to a person. For example, if we invite someone to a program, and they say, “Actually I have some other engagement. So, I can’t come for the program.” That’s a “No” to the request. But if we request someone for a program, and they say, “Even if I die, my corpse will never come for your program.” (laughter) that is not “No” to the request, that is a “No” to the person itself. It is like banging the door not just on the face of the person, but right on to the face practically. So, Duryodhana’s response was like this; it was totally insolent. His conscience had practically died. He was wicked and he had to be punished. So, what can’t be forgiven has to be given up, or whoever can’t be forgiven, that person has to be given up. Right at his birth itself Dhritarastra had been told by Vidura thta when Duryodhana was born, at that time, the Jackals started braying and the Hyena’s started howling. All nature started giving inauspicious symbols. At that time Dhritarastra was told by Vidura, “Give up this son, He will be the cause of the destruction of your whole dynasty.” And Dhritarastra said, “How can I give up my son? He is the flesh of my flesh, the blood of my blood.” Vidura said, “You can entrust him to someone, and let them take care of him. You don’t have to just abandon him. You will have ninety-nine other sons. Just give up this son.” But Dhritarastra couldn’t do it at that time, and the result of that was: the wickedness that was already there, grew and grew, till he did a horrendous and monstrous thing. So, for all of us, what Krishna teaches is: normally there is no sin in the Vedic tradition which is considered greater than the killing of a calf or a cow. “Go Hatya” is considered to be monstrous. Prabhupada would say, if at all anyone has to eat meat, they can eat, but please don’t eat the meat of cows. And even if you want to eat, just wait for some time, let them die a natural death, and then you can eat it; if you can’t give up that meat. But killing a calf is considered to be horrendously sinful. It is like killing our mother. The cow gives milk just like the mother, and yet Krishna killed a calf. Why is that? Because Krishna doesn’t see the externals alone. If our externals are very attractive, Krishna doesn’t get deceived by that. Krishna saw, although this vatsa looks very innocent, but inside, the heart was wicked. Then Krishna dealt with that, and he punished Vatsasur. And not only did he kill him, but he also purified him. Because if Krishna kills someone, he gets purified, elevated, and even liberated. Similarly, if there are weaknesses in our heart which may go towards wickedness, we have to make sure that we have to deal with them in such a way that they don’t lead to wickedness.
What does it mean by wickedness? There are two things: Firstly, because of our weakness we are hurting others, and the second is, we are justifying to ourselves, “Actually it is not bad, everything is alright.” If something within us tells us that it is bad, and we tell, “No, it is not bad, it is ok.” we hurt others and shut up the voice that tells us that we are hurting others and doing wrong. That is when we go towards wickedness. And how do we deal with it? We deal with it by hearing regularly. When we hear regularly from sastra, then our moral sense becomes strong, and our hearing nourishes our conscience. We may say that we have a weakness that is very strong, and so we are not able to give it up. Even we can’t give it up, it doesn’t mean that we have to give in to it. It is said that even if anger is there, the anger can be expressed within limits, and also anger can go out of limits. Generally, we cannot avoid succumbing to our weaknesses, but we can choose properly. Sometimes we may not succeed in Krishna consciousness, but even if we can’t succeed in Krishna consciousness, we can fail in Krishna consciousness; not fail out of Krishna consciousness. “Fail out of Krishna consciousness” means to give up Krishna consciousness and stop practicing it. We shouldn’t do that, but we should just focus on doing what we can in our situation. Bhakti is so wonderful that we may be unqualified, but we are never disqualified. We are all unqualified, and we have so many contaminations in our heart, that we don’t have the right to sit in front or worship the Deities, or to chant the holy names. But Krishna is so merciful that he never disqualifies us. Unqualified means that we don’t have the qualification to participate, and disqualified means that we are not allowed to participate. So, we may have our weaknesses, and those weaknesses may seem so strong that they may seem to be dragging us towards wickedness also. But if we turn towards Krishna – instead of looking at the weakness and thinking how strong it is, we look up from the weakness towards Krishna. Greater than the strongest of our anartha is the strength of Krishna. And no matter how strong our conditioning is, Krishna is stronger than that. Krishna has faith in our potential; we need to have faith in his potency. Sometimes a young boy or a child wants to become an athlete or a cricketer, but very few of then actually become so big. But while they are trying to play cricket, if there is some great coach, and that person says that we have a great talent, it will be a great boost to our faith. If we see the lives of all the great sportsters, we will find that there was someone who had faith in them. Everybody goes through discouragements, but if some very celebrated coach has faith in the potential of a particular aspiring cricketer, then the player feels that they can do it. Similarly, for us, we may feel that we have so many weaknesses, but Krishna has faith in our potential, and therefore we need to reciprocate with his faith. How do we know that Krishna has faith in our potential? That’s why he is present in our heart as the paramatma, that’s why he has brought us to his lotus feet, that is why he has given us an opportunity to practice bhakti, ant that is why he has been with us lifetime after lifetime, although we have turned away from him for so long. So, Krishna has faith in our potential. In that sense, Krishna is a great coach and has faith in us. But actually, Krishna is better than even the greatest coach. Why? Because even a great coach can’t create talent. A great coach can only fan and train an existing talent so that it will come up, but for us Krishna is so great that he can start even the tiniest spark of spirituality within us, and fan it to a shining flame. He has the potency. But a coach can’t transform an untalented player into a talented player. He can transform a talented player into an excellent player, but Krishna is such a coach that he can transform even the most impure person into the purest person. Om apavitro va, pavitro va, sarvavastam gathopiva, ya smaret pundarikaksham….this is the potency of Krishna. So, he has faith in our potential, and let us have faith in his potency. So, if we have faith in his potency and keep practicing bhakti, rather than worrying about our weakness and focusing on that, we focus on Krishna. We should think, “Let me practice bhakti as well as I can. Let me chant the holy name, let me hear Krishna katha, let me do my puja.” and by doing this we will find that our weaknesses will go down, and as our weaknesses will go down, the soul’s natural strength will emerge, and thus we will become purified and increasingly satisfied in Krishna.
I will summarize:
I spoke today about the pastime of Vatsasur and what we learned. I talked elaborately about how the Vrajavasis took Krishna from Gokul to Vrindavan just to have a safer locality. Krishna insisted, “I want to go to the forest”, because he already got a glimpse of the forest while travelling. Mother Yasoda insisted and Krishna sweetly persuaded her, and then all of Vrindavan was concerned about Krishna’s protection. The cows made all of Vrindavan so soft by banging with their hoofs. Yasoda Mayi and Nanda Maharaja wanted to go out with Krishna, and the Vrajavasis were longing when Krishna will come back. Amidst such a Krishna centered situation, Vatsasura came in the most innocent form of a calf and tried to kill Krishna. But among all deceivers Krishna is the greatest deceiver. Krishna effortlessly caught Vatsasur. Although Vatsasur deceived the other cows, he could not deceive Krishna. Then Krishna detected, destroyed and delivered Vatsasur. This Vatsasur represents wickedness where one has evil desires but is acting on those desires, rather than acting to restrain them. We all have weaknesses, but there are different degrees of expression of those weaknesses. Our anger becomes dangerous when the expression of our anger starts hurting others, and the weakness becomes wickedness when it hurts others; as well as when we silence our conscience and act as if we don’t have any problems. The conscience is like our inner protector, just like pain is a physical protector from physical danger. We need to silence the voice which tells us to do wrong, not the voice which told us that we are doing wrong. We generally silence the voice of the weakness and not that of the conscience.
In some situation’s people can’t be forgiven. Although Krishna was very forgiving, but when Duryodhana showed no remorse and slammed the peace proposal on the face of Krishna, then Krishna had to punish him. For us this might seem scary, “What if I have weakness and that becomes wickedness?” I talked about how even if we don’t succeed in Krishna consciousness, we can fail in Krishna consciousness; but we should not fail out of Krishna consciousness. That means that even if we have weakness, rather than worrying too much about it, we can say Krishna, “Krishna I have this weakness, please help me overcome it.” We are all unqualified but we are not disqualified. So, despite all our weaknesses Krishna has faith in our potential. So, let us have faith in Krishna’s potency.
Thank you very much.
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