In The Midst Of World Events

These dark things are always around us in many forms which we can see to varying degrees every day, and I’ve directly experienced this in a more extreme way in my past; but I feel that by trying to connect to the loving center together, we can purify ourselves and help purify those around us in our short lives.

This is a letter written recently by Varun, a sincere newcomer to Krishna consciousness, in response to a message from someone expressing deep frustration over current world events. Continue reading “In The Midst Of World Events”

What is Bhakti Yoga?

A radio interview with Sripad Srutasrava Prabhu in Brazil, 2 August 2006.

Summary notes:

The practice of Bhakti Yoga is the progress from the beginning stages of devotion to the final stages of pure love of God. Most religious processes advise us that we should love God, which is certainly wonderful advice, but few religious processes tell us how to love God. We have lovers, we have children, we have parents, we have pets, we have friends, we have so many things with whom we exchange affection, so how do we exchange that same affection with God? Love of God is possible, and in what form it’s possible, and how that love will be exchanged, are all encompassed in the teachings of bhakti yoga.

So much more information exists about God and it’s necessary to disseminate that information for the happiness of the people. We’re familiar with the frightening aspects of the omnipotence and omniscience of God, but less with the infinite kindness, beauty, sweetness and beauty of God.

In the Eastern tradition one of God’s infinite names is Krishna. Krishna means all-attractive. Many things in this world attract us: beautiful sunsets and beautiful sunrises, beautiful scenery, beautiful objects, beautiful people. So if we accept the existence of God then he must be infinitely attractive: everything that is attractive must exist in him to an infinite degree.

The practice of Bhakti yoga is to open our heart. It is is the yoga of the heart, so the topmost requirement is to have a heart. It is not dependent on language, country, or culture. It’s for every living entity.

The advancement of bhakti yoga means advancement in the relationship with the supreme being, and someone who has a relationship with the supreme being must naturally become filled with all good qualities.

Suhrit is one Sanskrit word for friend. When someone’s heart is so filled with good feelings towards you that person is called suhrit. Krishna says, “Suhrdam-sarva-bhutanam: I have that feeling towards every living entity.” (Bhagavad-gita, 5.29) And somebody who is developed in the process of bhakti yoga naturally will share that feeling towards every living entity.

In modern society we’re bewildered by the media to believe that our quality of life will come from accumulation but the real quality of life comes from the heart.

The Bhagavat-purana says that the best process for all living entities is that process by which we can develop love for God. What makes that process extremely practical is that it is ahaituki. The meaning of ahaituki is that there is no material cause for this thing. And the other side of that is apratihata: nothing material can stop the progress of bhakti.

Many other processes require some physical, intellectual, or mental ability, but we can practise bhakti in any condition: when we’re up, when we’re down, when we’re rich, when we’re poor, when we’re sick, when we’re well, and that makes it universally applicable. We can practise at all times, in all places, under all circumstances.

Hearing and chanting are the most important practices of bhakti. If we lend a submissive ear to divine sound we will be purified. At the present time, with the use of devices such as cell phones, it is not so difficult to understand the power of sound. We see the power of mundane sound all around us. What about divine sound? Divine sound can transport us to the divine plane. The sweet name of Krishna has come into this world with its own desire to benefit us. 

God is not the cause of suffering or misery; he is akhila-rasamrta-murti, the fountainhead of all ecstasy and pleasure. Srnvantu visve amrtasya putrah: we are all children of the nectarean ocean and we are meant to dive deep into that ocean.

Without seeking something spiritual, life comes to zero. In every country there’s an expression, “You can’t take it with you when you go.” Is it possible to get something from life that we can take when we go?

As we develop in consciousness we’ll see the beauty in God, we’ll see that beauty reflected in other living entities, and we’ll realise that He is not for one type of people but he is for everyone.

Family life in Krishna consciousness

An enlightening interview with Gadadhar Pandit Prabhu, a faithful disciple of our Gurudev, Srila B.S. Govinda Deva-Gowami. Recorded as part of the introductory ‘Seeking the Essence’ video series.

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Problems & Solutions

If the living being is not guided by their belief in the inner world, or knowledge of dharma, they cannot follow the path of peaceful co-existence. This means that there is no possibility of peace in the negative world until the living being enters into connection with the positive world. When one is in connection with the positive world then one realises the insignificance of ‘small and great,’ ‘profit and loss,’ ‘happiness and distress,’ and ‘victory and defeat’ found within this negative world.

The following article was prepared from a lecture by Śrīla B.R. Śrīdhar Mahārāj in December of 1955 in Sri Nabadwip Dham, and published in Sri Gaudiya Darshan, Vol 01 1955-56, by Śrīla B.S. Govinda Mahārāj. 
The present honourable Prime Minister of India, Śrī Jawaharlal Nehru, has suggested ‘peaceful co-existence’ as an antidote to the principal problems faced by today’s extroverted state of world affairs. Everyone accepts that due to the overzealousness of warmongering nations there is a chance of complete annihilation of world peace. If the policy of ‘peaceful co-existence’ is followed to the point, then there will be no necessity of spending millions to finance defence machinery, armies nor will there be a need to invest millions in maintaining the department of defence to protect the country. Instead, if that money is utilised in developing other activities for the country then the nation will become prosperous and the ordinary citizens of the country will be able to live in peace. If the above policy attains more prominence then the necessity of a police force, which is kept for the welfare of the common people, will also reduce—this is a fact. Although it may seem impossible to the human intellect at present, it is a clue to peace and Indian politics.
Now it needs to be seen what is the origin of the aforementioned policy? It is easily discernable to an impartial acute observer—its origin lies in a belief in the world within us, in other words, a belief in the Supreme. If the living being is not guided by their belief in the inner world, or knowledge of dharma, they cannot follow the path of peaceful co-existence. This means that there is no possibility of peace in the negative world until the living being enters into connection with the positive world. When one is in connection with the positive world then one realises the insignificance of ‘small and great,’ ‘profit and loss,’ ‘happiness and distress,’ and ‘victory and defeat’ found within this negative world.
When one studies the history of spirituality, one finds that the mahātmās, who were expert in spiritual topics, instead of focusing on making permanent arrangements to stay in this mortal or external world, utilised their entire endeavour in obtaining ‘membership’ in the internal or eternal world. In such efforts they also achieved success. They only accepted whatever elements or products that were easily obtainable in this world for maintaining their lives. One has to bid goodbye today or some days later to this plane. If one makes permanent arrangement to stay in this temporary ‘hotel-like’ world, they will attain no permanent gain except for increasing the intensity of one’s misery. There are famous mahātmās in history who, in spite of obtaining a very long life spanning many yugas, considered it very negligible compared to eternity. Considering things in this way, they set an example by residing under a tree, absorbed in meditating on the eternal spiritual world. Even some mahātmās considered it a waste of time to collect clothes for the body and remained naked. This is the country of that great culture. Therefore it needs to be seen what are our problems and what are their respective solutions. Needless to say, the policy of ‘peaceful existence’ is only momentarily successful in alleviating the raging problems the world is facing, it is not a permanent solution. This is because the element that creates or forms our problems is the one that possesses the inclination to acquire knowledge and perform activity—namely the consciousness.
In reality, the necessity of food and clothing are not the prime problems. Countries that have sufficient food and clothing and immense wealth also cannot avoid problems. They do not have less problems and suffering. Presently America is the most prosperous country. But if we analyse America a little closer, you will find that those who are famous as the wealthiest amongst them, that are immersed in all sorts of worldly enjoyment, have the highest record of suicide amongst all the countries of the world.
Therefore it needs to be seen where the fault lies. It makes no sense for a person who is completely bereft of food to hope for food, or for one who is ultimately bereft of peace to hope for peace. Similarly, expecting solutions to problems from living entities who are always bogged down by problems is also futile. But the solutions to all problems have been given by the all-knowing Bhagavān Vedavyāsa through the medium of the sun-like purāṇa the Śrīmad Bhāgavata and the Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā which occupy the highest positions in saintly conclusions. Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad Bhāgavata have manifested to provide solutions to the most serious problems ever faced.
From the words of Mahātmā Bhīṣma we come to know that the great warrior Arjuna had the power to defeat a whole army of eighteen akṣauhiṇīs (horse battalions) in a moment—yet in spite of his being so immensely powerful and being capable of creating such massive destruction, he was perplexed in solving the problems that he faced. At that time Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā appeared.
On the other hand, when we see the position of one who was worshipped as the undisputed sovereign controlling the destiny of all his subjects—when he understood that he had been given seven days notice that he would depart from this world then one can imagine the grave problem confronting him. You will see that his problem far surpasses all other problems commonly faced by us. At that time, that which manifest to give him proper guidance was the Śrīmad Bhāgavata—that which eradicates sorrow, illusion and fear (śoka-moha-bhayāpahā).
Śrīmad Bhāgavata or Bhagavad-gītā have not cultured any sectarian concept. In a universal manner they have given us solutions. Even if we are enamoured by all kinds of problems, they have given us the thing that can give us real peace. For this reason these two suns are shining brightly in all countries for all times in their full splendour.
Take the case of Śrīmad Bhāgavata—when Parīkṣit Mahārāj was deeply concerned about the dilemma he was in after hearing various opinions from great men and sages, at that moment, by divine providence, Śukadeva arrived. The enquiry of Parīkṣit is not that of any particular group or class of people—it is not even confined to the human species—it is relevant to all conscious living beings. At that final moment he only had one question—what activity within this very short phase of time can lead to attaining supreme auspiciousness and transcendental peace? In what way is it possible to obtain the greatest benefit?
Parīkṣit was affected by this problem—the giver of the solution was Śukadeva. One is in an extreme crisis and the other is the solution-giver at that extremely critical situation. On this point there are similar comparative narrations in the Śrīmad Bhāgavata which you can understand in more detail.
Hearing Parīkṣit’s question Śrī Śukadeva, who is self-satisfied and worshipped even by the denizens of Brahmaloka, became satisfied and replied, “O King, this question of yours is not only relevant to you—this question is relevant to the entire world and it is a most pertinent one.
śrotavyādīni rājendra nṛṇāṁ santi sahasraśaḥ
apaśyatām ātma-tattvaṁ gṛheṣu gṛha-medhinām
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 2.1.2)
“O king, those who are engrossed in materialistic household affairs and are blind to knowledge of the self, find thousands of subject matters to hear about within human society.”
In this world from animals, birds, insects (both flying and non-flying), to the different levels of human beings—all are busy trying to satisfy their own requirements. Eating, sleeping, sense gratification, etc. is their requirement, and this requirement is the root cause of all problems. Yet all of them are ignorant of self-realisation (anātmavit). This is because one who is self-realised (ātmavit) only has one program. Those who have not seen themselves—those who have not learnt to see their actual requirement—they will only accept those things that they consider to be necessities. But those who know themselves, who know their actual necessity, will accept your question as the real question or the only question. The program of those who are anātmavit will always be ‘booked’ for eternity. That is because they are gṛheṣu gṛha-medhinām (engrossed in materialistic household affairs).”
The only program of the ātmavit is to be delivered from the clutches of ignorance. A person who has submerged under water—his only program will be to try to save himself. Despite all kinds of external endeavours that are made to improve this world—all such attempts still remain confined to the realm of mortality.
ajñānenāvṛtaṁ jñānaṁ tena muhyanti jantavaḥ
(Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā: 5.15)
“The living entities are bewildered because their knowledge is covered by ignorance.”
Entrapped in illusion and suffering miserably, those who are anātmavit do not achieve any result other than running from one body to another. Their consciousness is fully covered by ignorance and by identifying themselves with the material body, they revolve eternally, subjugated by birth and death. No immediate relief can be obtained in spite of increasing one’s wealth, followers or equipping oneself with more weapons. House and home, wealth, close relatives and dear friends—none of these things are mine. Even my body does not belong to me. Identifying one’s body as ‘I’ or ‘mine’—this is an animalistic mentality. While I continue to think of these things as ‘I’ or ‘mine’ I will surely continue to face problems. Birth, death, old age, disease—yet at that time I will surely be tricked into transmigrating from one body to another. Thus, in this way, for all eternity, one will never be able to discover the path that will deliver one from these problems.
The Bhāgavata has said, “You have not even learnt how to look at these problems properly. The way to look at these problems is svapne yathā śiraś-chedaṁ (like the cutting off of one’s head in a dream). The man who is sleeping, shouts in his dream, “I have been caught by a tiger!” He only needs to be woken up to solve the problem that he is facing. If he is woken up he will see that everything is fine. He will see that the hope of relief that keeps him absorbed day and night in innumerable programs—those are actually no one’s problem. Śukadeva has said, tvaṁ tu rājan mariṣyeti paśu-buddhih—this means that death is ‘animal conception.’ You can’t die! You won’t die! So many types of problems are not yours. Back to God—become situated in the self!
muktir hitvānyathā rūpaṁ sva-rūpeṇa vyavasthitiḥ
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 2.10.6)
“Liberation is the permanent form of the living entity after they give up their gross and subtle bodies.”
Reject any material form! You are a member of the spiritual sky. That which you are thinking is nectar—that is actually poison. What you are thinking is happiness, is sorrow; those things that you consider to be ‘mine’ and ‘yours’ are nothing. It is all ignorance.
asato mā sad gamaya
tāmaso mā jyotir-gamaya
mṛtyor māmṛtaṁ gamaya
(Bṛhad-āraṇyaka-upaniṣad: 1.3.28)
“From falsity, lead me to truth; from darkness lead me to light; from death lead me to immortality.”
Leaving behind ignorance, advance towards light. Make your journey from matter to consciousness—you will be saved from unnecessary garbage—“to make the best of a bad bargain.”
All philosophers that are searching for the self, both in the eastern and western world, say the same thing. All of them say— ‘instead of chasing the hawk outside, first try to touch your own ears.’(1) In the Vedas and other scriptures, various reformatory measures are mentioned for ignorant souls that are mentally deranged to guide them to become truly ‘self-centred.’ When the uncultured souls are disciplined through all these injunctions that will raise them to the plane of the ātma, then they will be able to realise their true identity.
yato yato niśchalati manaś chañchalam asthiram
tatas tato niyamyaitad ātmany eva vaśam nayet
Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā: 6.26)
“The nature of the mind is flickering and unsteady. However, one should always endeavour to control the mind from its wanderings and bring it back under the control of the ātma.”
All endeavours progress from ‘shadow’ to ‘substance,’ from ‘phenomena’ to ‘reality.’ It is a one-way journey and this is considered to be real bhūta-śuddhi (purification of the self). Once bhūta-śuddhi happens then everything is solved. Although with pure knowledge one can overlook or ignore one’s connection to this world, again one faces a problem regarding that other (spiritual) world which we try to conceive of from here. Therefore I will speak a little on this topic and conclude my speech.
We find various Āchāryas teaching various ways of how to undergo the journey from the mundane to the spiritual. From our perspective, a constellation of stars may look as if they are all on a single plane in spite of actually being many light years away from each other—similarly there are vast differences amongst the spiritual contributions of various Āchāryas. And if we understand them properly then we will fully realise the unique contribution of Śrī Chaitanyadeva. I have found the solutions to all these topics very beautifully from the Rāmānanda-saṁvāda portion of Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta. Under proper guidance if you read the eighth chapter of the Charitāmṛta you will be able to clearly understand all these things.
Depending on different levels of perfection there are also different levels of endeavour required to achieve them. On the basis of their individual realisations and dedication, Āchāryas have shed light in different directions with the intention of bringing auspiciousness to the lives of all souls. But due to the influence of the wonderful effulgence of Śrī Chaitanyadeva’s supreme magnanimity, other lights have paled into insignificance. The primeval Supreme Lord is the cause of all causes, full of eternity, bliss and knowledge and is the possessor of all opulence, and in order to distribute Himself fully, He Himself glorifies the process of achieving the highest goal attainable by a sādhaka and executes that Himself in order to teach others by His own example. Then only, by His mercy, one can realise Him as the svabhajana-vibhajana-prayojanāvatarī-Bhagavān (the original Supreme Lord whose goal is to come and distribute His own worship and simultaneously taste His own intrinsic ecstasy). Then we can make our lives successful by chanting the praṇāma-mantra spoken by Śrī Rūpa:
namo mahā-vadānyāya kṛṣṇa-prema-pradāya te
kṛṣṇāya kṛṣṇa-chaitanya-nāmne gaura-tviṣe namaḥ

“O most munificent incarnation! You are Kṛṣṇa Himself appearing as Śrī Kṛṣṇa Chaitanya. You have assumed the golden colour and You are distributing love of Kṛṣṇa. We offer our respectful obeisances unto You.” (Cc: 2.19.53)
We can briefly find a summary of the most vital essence of the ambrosial teachings of Śrī Chaitanya in the Rāmānanda-saṁvād.
Mahāprabhu, during His ‘human-like’ Pastimes asked, paḍa śloka-sādhyera-nirṇaya—“With the help of evidence from proper authorities, explain the goal for which one should engage all their endeavours.” This question regarding the ultimate goal arises in the heart of the living being due to good fortune accumulated over several lifetimes. In the first sūtra of the Vedānta philosophy, athāto Brahma jijñāsā, the Āchāryas have presented that conclusion in an elaborate and clear way. Here Mahāprabhu desires to listen to the answers to these questions in a straightforward manner from Rāma Rāya. Why?
sa yat pramāṇaṁ kurute lokas tad anuvartate
(Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā: 3.21)
“Whatever standard a great man sets, the whole world will follow.”
It is not a question of merely repeating something, but to prove it through śāstric reasoning with the help of authorised evidence. In the process of answering Mahāprabhu’s questions, Rāmānanda continued to raise various important theories and in this way he gradually concluded by arriving at the highest stage of achievement.
Rāya kahe, “Sva-dharmachāraṇe Viṣṇu-bhakti haya”: What is one’s true duty (sva-dharma)? It is performing one’s activities according to varṇāśrama. What is the sadhya (the ultimate goal)? It is devotion to Viṣṇu. Who is Viṣṇu? Viśvaṁ vyāpnotīti (He that pervades the entire universe). The knower of the field of activity (kṣetra-jña), namely the soul within the body, and the very soul of the soul, is Viṣṇu. He is the ‘owner;’ the internal substance of the whole cosmos. Aṇor aṇīyān mahato mahīyān (‘He is the smallest of the smallest and the greatest of the greatest’—Kaṭha-upaniṣad: 1.2.20). His satisfaction is the ultimate goal. Here, Rāya Rāmānanda has taken the side of the moralists (nīti-vādīs) and said that the ultimate way to attain devotion to Viṣṇu is by following one’s dharma according to varṇa and āśrama. However, Mahāprabhu said that realising one’s relation with the Lord through the medium of varṇāśrama is restricted within the boundaries of the material world—eho bāhya, āge kaha āra (“This is external, speak more!”). In other words “Such a process is meant for those who are preoccupied with externals. It is a long process. Therefore speak about the ‘direct approach’.” Then—
prabhu kahe, — “eho bāhya, āge kaha āra”
rāya kahe, kṛṣṇe karmārpaṇa—sarva-sadhya-sara

“The Lord said, ‘This is external, speak more!” Rāmānanda said, “To offer the results of one’s actions to Kṛṣṇa is the essence of all perfection.'” (Cc: 2.8.59)
prabhu kahe, — “eho bāhya āge kaha āra”
rāya kahe, —”svadharma-tyāga, ei sādhya-sāra”
(Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: 2.8.61)
“The Lord said, ‘This is external, speak more!” Rāmānanda said, “Giving up one’s occupational duties according to the system of varṇāśrama is the essence of all perfection.'”
prabhu kahe, — “eho bāhya āge kaha āra”
raya kahe, —”jñāna-miśra-bhakti—sādhya-sāra”
(Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: 2.8.64)
“The Lord said, ‘This is external, speak more!” Rāya Rāmānanda said, “The essence of all perfection is devotion mixed with knowledge.’”
Karma-miśra bhakti (devotion mixed with fruitive work), naiṣkarma (activities free of karmic reaction) and jñāna-miśra-bhakti (devotion mixed with empirical knowledge)—these are not the ultimate goal nor are they the means to achieve it. Although there is delineation of progressive advanced stages, each of them has a mood of considering oneself knowledgeable or a certain consideration of measuring oneself. Each of them is tinged by māyā. But then—
rāya kahe, —”jñāna-śūnya-bhakti sādhya-sāra”
(Śrī Chaitanya-charitāmṛta: 2.8.66)
“Rāya said that bhakti devoid of jñāna is the essence of spiritual practice.” Then Mahāprabhu said, eha haya—meaning that, “Now the real path is being taken.” Jñāna-śūnya-bhakti (devotion free of knowledge) is the starting point of true devotion. Even in the Bible we see that the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge is the cause of fall down. “I want to understand everything!”—this tendency must be rejected. This is because the very intelligence to estimate is faulty by nature. What to speak of knowing Him with our tiny brains, we cannot even fully measure a small atomic particle! For this reason the Bhāgavata has given the following point, jñāne prayāsam udapāsya namanta eva jīvanti—your capability to grasp reality is very insignificant and limited. There are personalities who know about your real benefit innumerable times more than yourself! You simply need to hatefully reject (udapāsya) your desire to be ‘all knowing’ and embrace the path of namanta eva jīvanti (dedicating your life serving the Lord). You will see—just like being in an elevator or a lift, you will be raised to a position in Vaikuṇṭha. Whatever was binding you will become your obedient follower. And moreover, san-mukharitāṁ bhavadīya vārtām—once you learn to give a submissive hearing to this, you will see that your journey through eighty-four million species will be terminated. And where should you apply your hearing? You should hear from the one who can properly guide you. There should be ‘guidance proper’. Only this will save you. Whatever condition you are situated in (sthāne sthitāḥ), from there itself you attend. You will see that everything will become clear. This is because only the words of the Bhāgavata emanating from the lips of a sādhu can save us. For the one who follows this, in spite of the Supreme Lord being impenetrable, difficult to attain, and of an unconquerable nature, ultimately they can conquer Him. Throughout the Bhāgavata there are phrases such as, bhaktyāham ekayā-grāhyaḥ (“I am attained only by devotion”). Under the shelter of sādhu-saṅga and jñāna-śūnyā-bhakti, even ordinary people can attain service to the Supreme Lord, whereas without it, even an intellectual giant cannot. For this reason Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇ, in his commentary on the Vedānta, has proven the importance of sādhu-saṅga by citing various evidences. The sādhu is the ‘living source’. Even if one has no good quality, due to the influence of association of a sādhu one becomes sarvair guṇais tatra samāsate (“all good qualities reside with him”). Due to the influence of sādhu-saṅga even a very abominable person can become an instrument of service to the Bhāgavata. Seeing with an attitude of worship or service is Vaikuṇṭha-darśana.
Many, like Miss Mayo (2), in spite of having preached about the filthiness of such worship, have actually never experienced even a slight trace of true worship. They will be thousands and thousands of miles away from the proper understanding of worship. One who is able to approach it with a true mood of worship has nothing to fear. Fear itself runs away upon seeing such a person. One who takes shelter of such a worshipful attitude completely destroys all filthy sentiments and misconceptions—that very auspicious intelligence is the only way to be delivered from the bewildered consciousness that we are in.
We find this teaching in the Bhāgavata verse vikrīḍitaṁ Vraja-vadhū. Your misconception, your malady, your ‘heart disease’ of lust will be cured completely if you can take shelter of a worshipful attitude. Did those who composed the Liṅga-purāṇa and other texts not have even a little common sense like you? Did they have less knowledge and intelligence than you? But still they wrote—still they wrote for our benefit—from the plane beyond lamentation, illusion, and quarrel. Why? Their sole intention was to release us from the fear of the ghost of this material world—to permanently bury our ideology of enjoyment, to frustrate our materialistic mentality. Lest persons see Bhagavat-tattva from a mundane perspective, Śukadeva Goswāmī, who already had knowledge of Brahman (brahma-jñāna) and was completely self-satisfied (ātmārāma), warned the great assembly of principal religious leaders like Atri, Vaśiṣṭha, Chyavan, Agastya etc. when he introduced himself—“You all know that I am well situated in the realisation of the nirguṇa plane, therefore you should remember—if my mind becomes enchanted by the narrations of someone’s character and I become so attracted that I forget everything, then those stories cannot be about an ordinary mundane person who is full of lust. I never speak about things pertaining to this world. I am presenting to you the summum bonum, and without taking shelter of His feet, no auspiciousness can be obtained.”
tapasvino dāna-parā yaśasvino
manasvino mantra-vidaḥ sumaṅgalāḥ
kṣemaṁ na vindanti vinā yad-arpaṇaṁ
tasmai subhadra-śravase namo namaḥ
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 2.4.17)
“I offer my repeated obeisances unto the Supreme Lord, who is all-auspicious. Without offering their actions unto Him, neither the performers of austerities, nor the great givers of charity, nor the mystics, nor those who are expert in Vedic mantras, nor those who are most virtuous can attain any result without dedication to Him.”
Saying this, he established the transcendental platform of his dialogue. Therefore those who see Kṛṣṇa or His Pastimes with mundane intelligence, are not only deceived, but they also commit a great offence, and as a result they never obtain darśana of Śrī Chaitanya and their own identity remains concealed from them.
Bhagavān is supramundane (turīya-vastu). Everything about Him is satyam, śivam, sundaram (comprising of reality, auspiciousness and beauty). In every way Śrī Chaitanyadeva has declared to the world that His worship is beautiful, and the method of that worship is also so beautiful that any person can achieve it by following the path shown by Śrī Chaitanya—
govindābhidam indirāśrita-padaṁ hastastha-ratnādivat
(Siddhānta-ratnam 4)
“He that is known as Govinda, whose feet Lakṣmī takes shelter of, becomes like a jewel in the hand of His devotees.”
The Lord becomes just like his play-doll. And that itself is the highest manifestation of the supremacy of the all-powerful independent Bhagavān (sarva-tantra svatantra Bhagavān). For this reason Kavirāj Goswāmī has said, Kṛṣṇera yateka khelā sarvottama nara-līlā (‘The most attractive play of Kṛṣṇa is His human-like Pastimes’—Cc: 2.21.101). This is the ‘fullest adjustment’ of the Lord’s form—sarvottama nara-līlā—where His devotees, who have taken shelter of Him, see His ‘all-accommodating’ form as atulaṁ Śyāmasundaram (the incomparable Śyāmasundara) and completely serve Him eternally in five rasas. This is the very zenith of achievement.
yaṁ labdhvā chāparaṁ lābhaṁ manyate nādhikaṁ tataḥ
(Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā: 6.22)
“Upon gaining this, one thinks there is no greater gain.”
Śrī Chaitanyachandra has made that thing which is very rare to achieve into something which is very easy to achieve. That is why He is the most munificent and magnanimous. For this reason Śrīla Prabhodhānanda Saraswatīpāda has exhorted and appealed very earnestly to the souls of this world to take shelter of Śrī Chaitanyachandra’s feet by saying:
dante nidhāya tṛṇakaṁ padayor nipatya
kṛtvā cha kāku-śatam etad ahaṁ bravīmi
he sādhavaḥ sakalam eva vihāya dūrāt
chaitanya-chandra-charaṇe kurutānurāgam
(Śrī Chaitanya-chandrāmṛta: 8.90)
“Taking a straw between my teeth I fall at your feet and beseech you again and again, ‘O noble men, whatever you know, please cast it far away and cultivate attachment for the lotus feet of Śrī Chaitanyachandra.’”
(1) This refers to a Bengali proverb which advises a foolish man to first touch his ears to be sure that they are still there before running after a hawk, whom he thinks has stolen his ears.
(2) Katherine Mayo (1867-1940) was an American historian and political writer. Mayo became notorious for her book Mother India in which she denounced Indian culture and religion. The book was condemned by many for its racist tone and in a review of the book, Mayo was criticised by Gandhi as having the mentality of a ‘drain-inspector’.
Original Bengali text: Samasya O Samadhan (Pages 196-198_230-232 in Vol01_1955-56)
Special thanks to Swami B.K. Tyagi and Krishnendrani Devi Dasi for their assistance in preparing this article.

Good Karma & Bad Karma

Question: Everyone has some karma, and sometimes someone else’s karma is disturbing me. How can I understand when I should try to correct this other person’s karma? How can I know if it is correct or incorrect to try to modify another person’s karma? How can I understand how to act for my benefit and for the benefit of this other person?
Śrīla Govinda Mahārāj: Actually karma means action. It is the law of this material world, ‘To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction’. This is Newton’s third law. As yet, no one has broken that law [laughter]. And there is good karma and bad karma. Good is what is giving us upliftment from the illusory environment to the transcendental plane. That is good karma. And there is some indication for that: what will be beneficial for everyone is good karma. And what is non-beneficial and what is harmful for others is called bad karma. Someone may be benefitted by that, but if it is breaking the society law, which has been made for the society’s benefit, we are considering that to be bad.
If our action, karma, will give us upliftment from the present level of the illusory environment to the transcendental plane, that will be very good karma. That is written in the scriptures. We see that there are so many religions in this material world within human society, but the target of all religions is to take us from a lower level to a higher level. And we can go up through our good karma. We see that indication within all religions. For that we are respecting all religions: all religions want our upliftment from this very lower level to a higher level. They are not only looking for their own benefit, but they are looking for the benefit of the human society, benefit of the dog society, benefit of the cow society, benefit of the plant society, even the benefit of the insect society: we can see that type of program within all religions. And we can practise that very easily if we  follow this Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
If we follow Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then we can easily practise and go to a higher level. And there the process is this: humility, tolerance, and giving honour to others. This is the first conditional process. These three qualities will make the whole world our friend. My karma will be more pious, and my practising will be harmless. Otherwise, someone will kill some goat, someone will kill this, someone will do that. Sometimes it may not be harmful for me, but it will be harmful for others. I have seen that it is a law here that you cannot cut down a big tree. You cannot cut it, you must maintain it. We are practising Kṛṣṇa consciousness in this way.
Question: How can you recognise what is good and what is bad?
Śrīla Govinda Mahārāj: What is good for everyone is good, and what is bad for everyone  is bad [laughter]. It is natural. But sometimes it happens here that we cannot understand that an activity’s result  will be good in the future, though at present it looks bad. Then what will we do? Previously crystal sugar candy was the medicine for jaundice, hepatitis. It is written in the Ayurveda. But who has hepatitis will taste that sugar candy to be bitter, pittopatapta-rasanasya. When he first takes it, he will get a bitter taste, not a sweet taste. But finally it will give them their super benefit, and the disease will go out. Karma is also like that: we cannot always see that karma will give a sweet taste. In that case we must arrange a sugar coated pill, and then the disease will go out. For some persons the bitter is necessary, and for some persons sweet is necessary. But if the action will finally give a good result, then that karma will be good. If the final result will come good for everyone, that is good.
Pittopatapta-rasanasya: when we give them sugar candy, they will not feel that the taste is good. But finally it will cure them and they will taste the sweetness. But what is good for everyone and good for others is good karma. The colour may be a little different, and everyone will not feel it is tasteful. Everyone may not feel it is good, but for the patient it is necessary to give that type of karma to him, “Do this, do that.” It is not necessary for them to fully to understand, but according to their capacity they will take it.
Question: Does this mean that however it is coming we have to accept this medicine?
Śrīla Govinda Mahārāj: Yes, but the medicine must really be medicine and it will come from a doctor. Then that will be beneficial.
Question: Will the medicine have effect in a short time or long time?
Śrīla Govinda Mahārāj: It is depending upon the person, and depending upon the situation of the disease, and how much we are attached.
Spoken by Srila Gurudev during his visit to Italy in September 2000
syāt kṛṣṇa-nāma-charitādi-sitāpy avidyā-
pittopatapta-rasanasya na rochikā nu
kintv ādarād anudinaṁ khalu saiva juṣṭā
svādvī kramād bhavati tad-gada-mūla-hantrī
(Śrī Upadeśāmṛta, verse 7)
“The holy name, character, pastimes and activities of Kṛṣṇa are all transcendentally sweet like sugar candy. Although the tongue of one afflicted by the jaundice of avidyā [ignorance] cannot taste anything sweet, it is wonderful that simply by carefully chanting these sweet names every day, a natural relish awakens within his tongue, and his disease is gradually destroyed at the root.”

Voices in the community: Olgiate Molgora, Italy

An inspiring example of father following son: an interview with Raghunandan Prabhu of Olgiate Molgora, Italy.

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Photo: Raghunanda Prabhu stands with his son Madhurananda Prabhu, daughter Krishna Sakhi Devi Dasi, son-in-law Rituraj Prabhu, and grandson Sundar in the gardens of Villa Govinda Ashram.

Scientific progress

It is necessary to jump in any way with our full energy and hankering for a connection with the transcendental wave.

Once Guru Mahārāj questioned someone, “Is Īśvar existing or not, is God existing or not?” And that person, a sādhu, maybe a paramahaṁsa sādhu, responded, “You are not seeing God? He is existing everywhere.” We heard this question’s answer from Guru Mahārāj. The transcendental wave is always flowing in this material world. We have a transcendental body, but it is covered by illusion. Moving or non-moving, there is life everywhere. It is proved by the scientists now. We have also heard from some sculptors that they give two kinds of certificate to stone: one certificate is dead stone, one is living stone. When we were making a building in Nabadwīp, we purchased stone for some stonework, and I saw that there were different rates. I asked the man that I purchased from, “You are saying four thousand per lorry, and he is saying three thousand six hundred per lorry.” “Oh, that is dead stone, dead stone!” I know about dead stone and living stone, but how did he know? That was my surprise.
Now science is proceeding to the philosophical world. I heard from Guru Mahārāj that the wife of Einstein asked him, “What are you now trying to discover?” and Einstein answered, “After five hundred years, you and I will be able to talk, just like we are speaking now. I want to make that kind of discovery.” Guru Mahārāj told this.
Then science is proceeding so far, but without the mood of submission it cannot touch the transcendental wave in any way. It is not possible. But it is very good news that so many scientists have joined with our Mission, and every year they are making seminars in different places about this knowledge. ‘Science and Religion’: when Pusta Kṛṣṇa came here last time he joined that meeting in Salt Lake City, Kolkata. So many scientists are with us, and they are researching still about Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This is the situation.
It is necessary to jump in any way with our full energy and hankering for a connection with the transcendental wave. And it is a very appropriate time, because it is Kali Yuga. We know that there are so many disturbances and so many obstacles in this age. Only  Harinām-saṅkīrtan can give us a good result  by connecting us with the transcendental divine form of the Lord.
Śabda (sound), sparśāḥ (touch), rūpa (sight), rasa (taste), gandha (smell)—all the qualities in the material world are existing in a refined and positive way in the transcendental world. The transcendental sound vibration form of the Lord is called Harinām. It is very easy to believe, because now ether is connecting the whole world, and beyond this universe also. Now we are doing email, we are doing telephone, we are doing television. We are visiting many things through television. The carrier, the bearer, is ether. If it is possible in this material world, and we are actually a part of the transcendental world, then our spiritual connection must also be activated.
uttiṣṭhata jāgrata prapyo varān nibodhata
(Kaṭha Upaniṣad: 1.3.14)
“Awake, arise, and get your property. You are the sons of nectar, of the nectarean ocean. Then why are you sleeping and dreaming that a tiger has attacked you, and crying?”
It is actually a kind of dream. A tiger has not attacked us, but we are dreaming that a tiger has attacked us and crying very loudly in bed. But our friend who is near will not take a stick or a gun, he will go and touch me, and will tell, “Oh, wake up, wake up!”
śṛṇvantu viṣve amṛtasya putrā
(Śvetāṣvatara Upaniṣad: 2.5)
“Awake and arise, oh sons of nectar.” This is the call of the Upaniṣads. “You are the sons of nectar.” This is written on the cover of the book The Search for Sri Krishna. This is the clarion call.
uttiṣṭhata jāgrata prapyo varān nibodhata
kṣurasya dhārā niśitā duratyaya
[durgaṁ pathas tat kavayo vadanti]

(Kaṭha-upaniṣad: 1.3.14)
[“Arise! Awake! Try to understand the boon that you now have in this human form of life. The path of spiritual realization is very difficult; it is sharp like a razor’s edge. That is the opinion of learned transcendental scholars.”]
Srila Gurudev speaking in Italy during his visit in September 2000

Voices in the community: Soquel, California

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After years of extreme drug and alcohol addiction Hriday Govinda Prabhu left it all behind to embrace a life of exclusive service and dedication. He shares his heart-touching story in this interview.
“Where my parents failed, where the counsellors and the teachers, and the police officers failed and where I even failed myself because I was powerless, Krishna consciousness was the only thing with the potency to pull me from that muck and so now I owe it my life. I wouldn’t have a life without it. I have to give everything.”

Hinduism & Krishna Consciousness

Question: Is Kṛṣṇa consciousness the same as Hinduism?
Śrīla Govinda Mahārāj: Previously Hindus were identified by who was living on the bank of the Sindhu River and following the Vedic knowledge and culture. The culture grew on both sides of that river. They were identified as Hindu. The Veda in Hinduism came down from the transcendental level: that knowledge was not made by any one man, but it came from God, and the Hindus followed that Vedic culture and knowledge as their religion.
Our Kṛṣṇa consciousness exists within that Vedic cultural society, but the conception is always different in some way with them. We know that this religion of Vaiṣṇavism has come from Viṣṇu as well as Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is our Guru, Kṛṣṇa is our Lord, Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, this is the conception. This conception is written in the Vedas, Vedānta, Upaniṣads, and so many other scriptures and it is indicated as the religion for all jīva-souls. ‘Jīva-souls’ means all the living entities in human form as well as other species of life; there are eighty-four hundred thousand species that are identified as jīva-souls. In the human form there is willing, feeling, and thinking. Within humans there is consciousness, blossoming consciousness, and fully blossomed consciousness. Other life-forms have consciousness but it is more suppressed than in humans. Trees have consciousness but it is suppressed consciousness. It is proved by the scientists now, but we know this knowledge from the time of the Vedic revelation, when it first descended. There are five levels of consciousness flowing.
Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the religion for all the jīva-souls. Here there is no differentiation based on caste, creed, race, colour, or anything else. In Hinduism there is some differentiation between brāhmaṇ, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra, and brahmachārī, vānaprastha, gṛhastha, sannyās, and according to their different levels their living style is indicated. But our religion is not differentiating in that way. We know that we are part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but we are within the illusory environment, and from this illusory environment we need to connect with the transcendental world. And if anyone will follow this religion of the jīva-soul he will be benefitted. This is our conception. Hindusim differentiates between caste and creed, but this is non-sectarian. Īśvara, God, is one, and we are all part and parcel of God. Because we are very tiny jīva-souls, then our power is very little, and because of that we are defeated by the illusory environment. But in this age of Kali there is a super chance, that God has descended as a transcendental vibration form. If we try to satisfy Him through chanting, we can transform our plane from material to transcendental. For the transformation of material consciousness to transcendental consciousness we are practising chanting the Holy Name of the Lord, and we are also following some other Bhakti Yoga practices. This is my answer.
Spoken by Srila Gurudev during his visit to Italy in September 2000

The most secret power

Surrender is the most wonderful thing in the world, which makes it possible for the small to control the great, the smallest to control the greatest. It is only possible by this means: through love, through surrender.

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Devotee: Srila Guru Maharaj, in every activity there is a science, so I’m trying to
understand the science of faith.
Srila Sridhar Maharaj: What is the science of faith? The underlying principle of faith is this:
‘śraddhā’-śabde — viśvāsa kahe sudṛḍha niścaya
kṛṣṇe bhakti kaile sarva-karma kṛta haya

[“Sraddha means firm, confident faith that all duties are performed if one serves Krishna.”—Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: 2.22.62]
“If I do my duty to the centre, everything is done.” That is faith.
yasmin jñāte sarvam idam vijñātam bhavati
yasmin prāpte sarvam idam prāptam bhavati
[“Enquire into that upon knowing which, nothing further remains to be known. Try to achieve that upon gaining which, nothing further remains to be gained.”—Upaniṣads]
Faith covers the whole by accepting one. Apparently accepting a part, he can cover the whole; that is the peculiarity there. “If I can capture one the whole can be captured; if I love one the whole is loved. If I know one the whole is known.” If anyone has got that sort of conception then that is the seed of faith and he approaches on that path of faith. By approaching the centre, all the branches, all that has sprung from Him, is approached. Pouring water into the root the whole tree is fed. Putting food into the stomach the whole body can be fed. If one gets the key he gets the almirah, the iron chest. It is something like that. Such sort of faith, confidence, trust, is sraddha. That is faith. And he approaches in that way, otherwise, being a part, how can I claim the whole? Our inner necessity is to have the whole, but how is it possible? It is possible only through the heart.
Once in Bombay our Guru Maharaj gave an example of this: that a poor girl has got nothing but if she is married to a prince who has plenty, then through that tie of affection she may think that all the properties of the prince belong to her. It is something like that. Krishna has everything under His control, and we have nothing. But if we can establish a connection with Krishna through affection, if we can establish an affectionate connection with Him, then we can have everything thereby through Him.
This is the idea: to get the whole. By getting one to get the whole. By capturing the fort we capture the country. Capturing the controller we capture the whole that He controls. Bhakti is such an astounding thing that through sraddha, through bhakti, the small can control the big, an atom can control the centre. It is the speciality of devotion, sharanagati, surrender. Surrender is the most wonderful thing in the world, which makes it possible for the small to control the great, the smallest to control the greatest. It is only possible by this means: through love, through surrender. The smallest part, the particle, can control the whole only through faith, through surrender. He is so kind, he has such kindness in His heart. By humility, by our incapacity: “I am the most wretched, most fallen, so attraction should come to me. I’m the most negative, I represent the most negative aspect, so the positive should have His greatest attention for this negative.”
So, so much praise is shown for bhakti in the scripture. Bhakti can do what is impossible: it can control the high to the lower. This is affection, this is devotion proper. Devotion proper has such a characteristic, that the high is controlled by it. Suppose a general after conquering a country has come home and his young child takes him by his finger and draws him and he is following. A great powerful general can be controlled by a child. Why? Through affection. Affection, or love, or faith, is a wonderful thing which can control the big for the low.
Such a wonderful thing cannot ever be, not only discovered but even thought of; none can think also of such things. This is the real nature of faith, or devotion, or affection. Where it is present the big is controlled by the small. Bhakti is to be traced there. Where it is not seen there is no bhakti. Bhakti means this, that the big is controlled by the small. The inner thread is that of devotion, affection, surrender, and love. That is the real characteristic of bhakti. What a wonderful thing it is, and how powerful a thing it is. Strange, strange, strange.
ahaṁ bhakta-parādhīno, hy asvatantra iva dvija
sādhubhir grasta-hṛdayo, bhaktair bhakta-jana-priyaḥ
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, 9.4.63)
The Lord Himself says: “What can I say, Durvasa?” Durvasa was a big yogi. “What can I say Durvasa, I am already surrendered, I am committed, to My devotee. I have no independence of My own. I am already committed to My devotees and I can’t back out from that claim. So you’ll have to go to that Ambarish; your appeal to Me is futile, useless. It won’t work at all, it won’t fetch anything for you. I am already committed to My devotees, so you will have to go back to My devotee and to beg forgiveness there.” This is spoken by Narayan and it is not hyperbole but wholesale truth. It is not merely a show or poetry, it is truth, cent per cent.
ahaṁ bhakta-parādhīno, hy asvatantra iva dvija
sādhubhir grasta-hṛdayo, bhaktair bhakta-jana-priyaḥ
“This is My nature. My very nature is such, Durvasa, that I am committed to My devotees. I have no independence. ‘Iva’: and this is My voluntary contribution, or acceptance, or commitment. Though I am the Absolute My voluntary commitment is such by nature. What to do?”
That is bhakti. So we are out to find the most secret wealth or secret power the world has ever conceived, by which the smallest can control the highest, the greatest. That sort of learning, or tact, or whatever you may say, is possible. Mahaprabhu came with that most valuable thing. “What are you doing? You make yourself busy for nothing, or busy for rubbishes? Try to acquire this, this most valuable thread. Try to get this magical wand. Nothing so valuable has ever been discovered in the world. Take to this subtlemost power by which the smallest can control the highest, the greatest. This is love, this is love, this is faith, this is affection. So cultivate, give up everything and cultivate about this, search for this, search for Krishna, search for love, search for devotion. Die to live. This is self determination to the highest degree. Self determination, self realisation to the highest degree is to acquire such position. By humility we may be master.
tṛṇād api sunīchena, taror api sahiṣṇunā
[amāninā mānadena, kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ]

[“One who is humbler than a blade of grass, more forbearing than a tree, who gives due honour to others without desiring it for himself is qualified to always chant the Holy Name of Krishna.”—Sri Siksastakam, 3]
We will be able to conquer the whole by that sort of qualification, and not by jumping and capturing and carrying and looting and fighting.
Spoken by Srila B.R. Sridhar Maharaj on 5 January 1983 in Sri Nabadwip Dham