Live From Sri Mayapur Candrodaya Mandir!
Date: February 17th , 2012
Topic: Vrtrasura’s Glorious Death
Verse: SB 6.12.7
Topic: Determination of a Leader
Speaker: HH Bhakti Vijnana Gowami
So I was asked to speak on the topic of the qualities of a leader. Because there are so many different qualities of a leader I decided to speak on one particular quality of a leader and that is determination. For this matter we picked the verse:
yuyutsatam kutracid atatayinam jayah sadaikatra na vai paratmanam vinaikam utpatti-laya-sthitisvaram sarvajnam adyam purusam sanatanam
TRANSLATION: Vrtrasura continued: O Indra, no one is guaranteed of being always victorious but the original enjoyer, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan. He is the cause of creation, maintenance and annihilation, and He knows everything. Being dependent and being obliged to accept material bodies, belligerent subordinates are sometimes victorious and sometimes defeated.
PURPORT: The Lord says in Bhagavad-gita (15.15):
sarvasya caham hrdi sannivisto mattah smrtir jnanam apohanam ca
“I am seated in everyone’s heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness.” When two parties fight, the fighting actually goes on under the direction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is Paramatma, the Supersoul. Elsewhere in the Gita (3.27) the Lord says:
prakrteh kriyamanani gunaih karmani sarvasah ahankara-vimudhatma kartaham iti manyate
“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself the doer of activities that are in actuality carried out by nature.” The living entities work only under the direction of the Supreme Lord. The Lord gives orders to material nature, and she arranges facilities for the living entities. The living entities are not independent, although they foolishly think themselves the doers (karta).
Victory is always with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As for the subordinate living entities, they fight under the arrangement of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Victory or defeat is not actually theirs; it is an arrangement by the Lord through the agency of material nature. Pride in victory, or moroseness in defeat, is useless. One should fully depend on the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is responsible for the victory and defeat of all living entities. The Lord advises, niyatam kuru karma tvam karma jyayo hy akarmanah: “Perform your prescribed duty, for action is better than inaction.” The living entity is ordered to act according to his position. Victory or defeat depends on the Supreme Lord. Karmany evadhikaras te ma phalesu kadacana: “You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of actions.” One must act sincerely, according to his position. Victory or defeat depends on the Lord.
Vrtrasura encouraged Indra, saying, “Don’t be morose because of my victory. There is no need to stop fighting. Instead, you should go on with your duty. When Krsna desires, you will certainly be victorious.” This verse is very instructive for sincere workers in the Krsna consciousness movement. We should not be jubilant in victory or morose in defeat. We should make a sincere effort to implement the will of Krsna, or Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and we should not be concerned with victory and defeat. Our only duty is to work sincerely, so that our activities may be recognized by Krsna. [End of Srila Prabhupada’s purport to SB 6. 12.7]
HH Bhakti Vijnana Gowami: So I will also read the translation of the previous verse which is important: TRANSLATION: Having dropped the thunderbolt from his hand in the presence of his enemy, Indra was practically defeated and was very much ashamed. He dared not pick up his weapon again. Vrtrasura, however, encouraged him, saying, “Take up your thunderbolt and kill your enemy. This is not the time to lament your fate.” [SB 6.12.6]
Firt of all I would like to ask the blessings of all the senior Vaisnavas who assembled here. I am very humbled to speak in their presence but by their blessings we hope to say something useful. This description of the glorious death of Vrtrasura is one of the laksanas of Srimad-Bhagavatam. We know that in Agni-Purana it is stressed that Srimad-Bhagavatam is Purana which describes the glorious death of Vrtrasura. So it is a specific characteristic of this particular Purana. It actually signifies the meaning of this story.
The meaning of this story is very instructive because here we see an asura, demon – who was born as a demon, who had all the habits of a demon, he was actually not following the four regulative principles, he was a meat eater – not only a meat eater, he was a cannibal. He was eating human beings but Srimad-Bhagavatam glorifies Vrtrasura for his devotion. The significance of this is that devotion or bhakti, devotional service does not depend upon our birth, does not depend on our habits. It is completely and totally independent. This is the most valuable and most glorious quality which one may have. All other qualities are coming from this essential quality.
One may or may not have some other good qualities but if he has this essential quality of bhakti, of devotion to the Lord, of complete surrender to the Lord, he is glorious. That is the instruction of Srimad-Bhagavatam. That is the essential teaching of Srimad-Bhagavatam and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Here we can see the encounter of somebody who is also a devotee, Indra -he is a bhakta, he is a devotee and an asura, a demon who is proving himself to be much more glorious than his enemy, Indra. In the story which is described here about the fight between Vrtrasura and Indra, Vrtrasura is temporarily victorious, but not really so because in the previous verse it is described that Indra by his vajra, by his divine weapon which was given to him cut off Vrtrasura’s right hand. The blood gushed out of Vrtrasura’s hand but despite this – can you imagine how you will feel if your right arm right there in the battlefield was cut off. But Vrtrasura was not at all bewildered.
He just took his iron mace and just slapped Indra in his jaw. It was a mighty slap – so much so that Indra dropped his weapon, vajra and Indra became completely morose and practically defeated. Here we see somebody with his arm cut off and he is totally, completely confident about himself and Indra who just got a little slap in his cheek, lost his weapon and he is bewildered and morose. In fact here it is said that he is dejected. He was in complete depression. After this defeat he felt, “That is it!” And his enemy Vrtrasura is standing in front of him and saying it is not time to be morose. [Laughter]
In the previous verse specifically he says: jahi sva-satrum na visada-kalah [SB 6.12.6] He uses these Sanskrit words, “Na visada-kalah, it is not the proper time to be morose. You are fighting. What kind of dunce are you. If you are fighting it is not the proper frame of mind to be morose of dejected. You have to fight and it doesn’t matter whether you will be victorious or not, just depend on the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” This is his instruction to Indra and to all of us.
Somehow or the other as conditioned living entities we hope, with our conditioning of thinking that, we are the Supreme Lord we hope to be victorious all the time. We kind of count on it. It is the subconscious mentality of every living entity. We just want to be victorious and when something goes wrong in our life we immediately become dejected and because it always goes wrong then we are always dejected. It is a normal condition. We know that Bhagavad-gita starts with this Arjuna Visadha yoga – the yoga of dejection.
This state of dejection, state of complete desperation, the desperate state of depression is more or less the stayi-bhava of the material world. Every living entity has this bhava or emotional mood of dejection because somehow or the other something always goes wrong. [Microphone falls. Laughter] Test for my determination! Something always goes wrong. [Laughter] That we can be sure off! If there is one thing that we can be sure off it is that something will go wrong. Something will go against our wish, against our desires, against our interest, against our understanding of how it should be.
The reason for this is very simple. It is because we are not the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is a very sad reason but [Laughter] but it is a very real reason. So we can be hundred percent sure that we will not be victorious all the time. And that is exactly what Vrtrasura is saying. He is saying that you are para-atma, you are dependent on others. The very fact that we have this material body means that we are dependent. This has in fact been described in the story of Vrtrasura as well that we are always dependent on somebody else. We always depend on food, we depend on air, we depend on other people – so much so that we even depend, we also depend on the emotions of other people. It is amazing to really understand [Microphone says again. Laughter] We depend on the microphone and so many stupid things. But it is amazing to see to which extent. Sometimes you don’t understand this, don’t realise this but it is amazing to see to which extent we are dependant.
If somebody has a very not joyful mood today and he looked at us with some strange look it is enough to spoil our mood for one week. What did he mean? What is this? That is the proof of our dependence. We are dependent on so many things. Somebody didn’t say us something nice or said something to us which is true – that you are a fool – that is enough to completely destroy our stamina or our mood. But here we see Vrtrasura being a devotee he is explaining to us what is the mentality or the mental framework of a real devotee. He said that you have to understand that you are always dependant and if you are dependant, if you have to be dependant if you are in any way dependant why don’t depend on the Supreme Personality of Godhead? If you depend on Him, if you really establish this connection and you always depend on Him and on Him only then you will be victorious.
In fact Srila Visvanath Cakravati Thakura comments on this verse and he says that everyone will be defeated sooner or later but just one person who is always dependant on the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Our defeat is in fact is the consequence of our attempts to depend on others. This is a very important point of this verse. Unless and until we are trying to depend on others, until we have this false notion or false idea that by depending on others we will gain something in this world we will be defeated in the ultimate sense of this world. We will be defeated that is for sure.
The formula for success in this world is to be always dependant on the Supreme Personality of Godhead and this dependence itself gives us complete, total determination. As Srila Prabhupada says we should not be concerned with victory or defeat. If we are dependent on the Supreme Personality of Godhead this is victory. And if we are trying to depend on somebody else this is defeat. This is the definition of defeat according to Vrtrasura. If we are only dependant on the Supreme Personality of Godhead we can be sure in the ultimate victory.
We can see how our acaryas manifest this glorious quality again and again and again Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura before coming here to Navadvip Dham had been trying for many years. Somehow or the other it didn’t work. Finally when everything was prepared, when everything was ready for him to come here to Navadvip Dham – and he knew there will be some mission for him here. So many impediments were there. When he was about to come here there was a severe case of malaria. For forty days he was fasting. He was practically dead. And at the end of this malaria he wrote in his diary, “So many impediments. There must be something good out of it.” If there are so many impediments there must be some good result which is coming from this.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada gave another indication of the same principle. [Microphone problems] He said once somebody complained to him we are making so muc emphasis, we are preaching and so many people are opposed to preaching work. And Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada answered, “This is good. This actually menas that you are taking the right cause. You are in the right direction. This is the indication that you are doing something right. If there will be no opposition it means that you are doing something wrong.” So that is the mentality of a real devotee.
We know how many impediments Srila Prabhupada had and he said, “My only achievement was that I never gave up.” We know that when he was in America he would come in the beginning years of America preaching – when there was no real success he said, “I would come often to this Sindia Steam Ship Office and ask when is the next ship to India?” He would come and they would say the next ship is there and he would say, “Okay I will take note of it.” But he never used his return ticket to India by Sindia Steam Ship. We know that ultimately this was the formula for his success.
He was not dependant on success. We are dependent on this feeling of success. Like Prabhupada says in this purport that we become very jubilant when there is success and we become very morose when there is some defeat. But Prabhupada and a real devotee is never dependant on this feeling of victory or success. He is dependent on the Lord and he knows that everything is within the hands of the Supreme Lord. We as His servant have to just serve and that is it and by serving Him we are victorious. This is our victory.
There is a very nice story which is one of my favourite stories of Srila Prabhupada. I never heard this story being told but I read this story in an interview of Harikesa – then Maharaja with Satsvarupa Maharaja – when Satsvarupa Maharaja was collecting the memories of different devotees for Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta. This story goes like this: Srila Prabhupada was in Bombay and there was a crisis at that time in the society. Three of his disciples at that time more or less declared themselves as gurus and they all had followings and followers and they were all very strong and charismatic. And at the same time there were some problems in Germany and the police took over the castle and there were some arms stored in this castle. Then there was a court case and so many devotees were put into prison. So it was a crisis time. It was a very critical time and practically every hour some bad news would come to Srila Prabhupada – bad letters, telegrams, telex and phone calls. And Prabhupada visibly was affected by this. Visibly he was concerned by all these serious situations that were going on in the movement.
Harikesa – then Maharaja said that everyone who was in the entourage of Srila Prabhupada was totally completely dejected. They did not know what to do. It was so bad! Then at one point, Prabhupada dismissed everyone from his room. He said, “Just get out of here.” The devotees stood outside of his room wondering what he will do and somebody was looking in the little hole which was there. And what they saw was something amazing. Prabhupada lay down on the floor. Nobody was there in the room. There was nobody to make a show. He laid down on the floor and he started laughing. He just started laughing and laughing and laughing and it was like rose petals were pouring from the sky. It was so beautiful when he was laughing. He was completely, totally unaffected. He was happy. As he says here in this purport we should be only concerned with doing something for the Lord so that we are recognised by the Lord. It doesn’t matter if there is victory or defeat. It really doesn’t matter. It is not really substantial. It is not really important.
The main thing is that we have this chance to do something for the Lord and that should be our main consideration. Everything else is not important. If we have this mentality then whatever we do we will be ultimately successful. As it is said in the second last verse of Bhagavad-gita:
yatra yogesvarah krsno yatra partho dhanur-dharah tatra srir vijayo bhutir dhruva nitir matir mama [Bg 18.78]
Sanjaya assures us that there will be victory. Don’t worry about this. Victory will be there. Don’t become concerned with victory but be concerned with your service because this is the most important thing that you can do.
We also know the glorious example of Queen Kunti. Usually people come to the temple and pray to the Lord. And what do they pray for from the Lord? “Please give us some peace. Please remove obstacles from our path. Please make me successful. Please give me something.” And Queen Kunti is standing in front of the Lord and she is saying, “Please send us obstacles.” This is completely crazy. It is totally, absolutely crazy! Why? Because a devotee has a different definition of auspiciousness. Everyone comes to the Lord and everyone prays to lord to send him some auspiciousness, to make his life auspicious. Right? This is what the Lord is for. He has to make our lives auspicious. Sometimes as devotees we have this idea which is actually a hidden agenda. We became devotees and are supposed to serve but really we became devotees to get something from the Lord. And if He doesn’t give us something our faith is deeply shaken.
I have seen how devotees react. They say what is the use of being a devotee if the Lord doesn’t help you? But in reality it means only one thing – that we have this hidden motivation. We are not devotees because we want to be devotees, because we understand that this is our constitutional position, that we will always be devotees, that we will always remain servants of the Lord but we became devotees to more or less use the Lord to be the Lord – use the Lord to manifest or exercise our inclination to control and to enjoy.
Here Vrtrasura very clearly says it is the lord who is Purusa. He is the enjoyer and not you. He is looking at Indra and saying, “You think you are the enjoyer. Forget about it. Your moroseness is the manifestation of this enjoyment, not anything else! It is the manifestation of your desire to Lord it over, to control and to enjoy.” If you are a real servant you have to have this complete and unshakeable determination just to serve and be happy because you have this chance to serve. This is the real teachings of Srimad-Bhagvatam.
Queen Kunti is praying for the same thing. She is saying, vipadah santu tah sasvat [SB 1.8.25] Please give us this vipadah. Vipadah in Sanskrit means obstacle but it also means poverty. Vipaha is in Sanskrit a antonym or the opposite meaning for the Sanskrit word sampada. And sampada we know is wealth. We know about daivi sampad and asuri sampada in the sixteen chapter of Bhagavd-gita.[Texts 5 etc.] So sampada is wealth.
In reality Queen Kunti is saying that, “My sampada, my only wealth is the vipadas which You send to me.” In other words she gives this very amazing definition of auspiciousness. For a devotee anything which helps him to remember about the Lord is auspicious, is the wealth. And because impediments help us to remember about the Lord this is our success, this is our fortune.
Sometimes when we want to get fortune we think that fortune means that we get followers and we get wealth and we get everything. No! And she is saying very important thing about why Krishna is sometimes so harsh to the devotees. Not sometimes – all the time! We join and we think, “I joined because I wanted to be peaceful.” And Prabhupada said this wonderful slogan, “Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!” Right? Yes we chant and chant and chant why? Because we have this understanding that happiness means that everything is fine according to material standards. No! We chant and Krishna sends us so many problems and we should be happy. He more problems are there the happier we should become.
This is the slogan of this sanga – ‘More devotees, happier devotees.’ [Laughter] Happier devotees mean devotees with a lot of obstacles, a lot of problems. This is the hidden meaning of this slogan of Srila Prabhupada, “Chant and be happy.” It means that Krishna will send you impediments – for sure, don’t worry about this. [Laughter] You don’t have to like queen Kunti ask Him to do it. He will do it. [Laughter] But in reality she explains why He is doing this – because He is jagad-guru. She is saying, “O jagad-guru! O teacher of the whole world.” He is teaching us this very important lesson of dependence on Him. By sending all these problems, all these obstacles into our lives He is giving us the most essential teachings which is there.
Once Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada in a lecture gave a very amazing statement, a very important and amazing statement! He said that sometimes people wonder why there are so many problems in this world, why there are so many miseries in this world. Why/ And he quote the famous verse from the tenth canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam:
tat te ‘nukampam su-samiksamano bhunjana evatma-krtam vipakam hrd-vag-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te jiveta yo mukti-pade sa daya-bhak [SB 10.14.8]
He said the reason why there are so many problems in this world is that by encountering these problems the living entity may develop the feeling that something is lacking in his life and this feeling of lacking is extremely important for our spiritual development. By encountering all these problems and miseries we can develop this feeling that something is lacking. It means that my position is not natural. He says that normally living entities are trying to be connected with something which is limited and this desire to be connected with something which is limited is the source of innumerable miseries in our lives.
Our desire to be connected or to be somehow or the other in contact with something limited is actually that previous mistake which every one of us did. But he says that by developing this feeling Lord Krishna mercifully arranged this world in such a way that by developing this feeling that something is lacking we may understand that what is really lacking in my life is the contact with the unlimited. I am separated from this unlimited which is unnatural for me and that is the reason for all my problems.
As soon as this desire to come in contact with something unlimited becomes very strong that is the real auspiciousness. That is why the Lord sends all these problems and impediments in our lives. That is His mercy. His real mercy is not to give us money and followers and prestige and position and so many other nice things. In fact this is not mercy. This is His curse because there is a good chance that we will forget about Him by having all of these things and we will become proud.
He sends to us all these problems to make us humble and when we are humble, in this humble state of mind we may remember about Him. And this remembrance about Him is the most auspicious thing which may happen to us. And as leaders of this Krishna consciousness movement we have ample mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the form of unlimited problems. I know it because I am coming from Russia. As they say in India, “From Russia.” So I am from Russia and this is the place of unlimited problems.
Sometimes i think, “What am I doing in this condemned place?” Not sometimes, everyday! [Laughter] Every single day of my life I think about it because there are problems after problems after problems. You know the Bhagavad-gita court case. Now there is an appeal case. And yesterday we got the news that the deputy of prosecutor general in Russia spoke against Bhagavd-gita. It basically means that the court case was supported or endorsed. Somehow or the other by coincidence he came to Tomsk now – just before this court case is about to start, appeal court case. And he spoke again by coincidence with the journalist and he said, “It is an extremist book!”
Sometimes, not sometimes, all the time I think, “Will there be an end?” And the answer is always the same, “No!” It will remain the same but we have to really understand that this is the mercy, that this is real mercy and ultimately if we manage to remain humble, to remain servants of the Lord and to keep us in this position victory will come but we will not be too much jubilant when it will come because the eternal joy of the soul will shine in our heart even before that – just by this attitude of humble service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is the quality which naturally comes to somebody who has surrendered himself to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And we have to learn this glorious manifestation of bhakti from our preachers and spiritual masters. Thank you very much. [Applause] Srila Prabhupada Ki! Jai! There is no time for questions.[To receive Mayapurlive lectures by email, write to email@example.com] Listen or download at http://www.mayapurtvarchives.com