Free-will and Bhagavad-gita

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Answers by HH Romapada Swami

Question: I’m wondering how individual free will factors into the verses and purports describing the species of demoniac life. Specifically BG 16.19 -20.

Srila Prabhupada’s purport states: “In this verse it is clearly indicated that the placing of a Particular individual soul in a particular body is the prerogative of the supreme will.”

“As for the demoniac, it is clearly said here that they are perpetually put into the wombs of demons, and thus they continue to be envious, the lowest of mankind.”

These statements seems to indicate that the individual (in human form by indication of the word mankind), at some point, loses his free will to serve Krsna. The verses and subsequent purports of BG 16 also would seem to apply to most of society. Is it proper to think of the majority of mankind as demoniac?

Answer: As You know, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Absolute Truth is fully independent, svarat and the living entities being parts and parcels of the Lord, have minute independence/free will. Minute free will is an inherent quality of the soul and it can never be taken away from a living entity at any time (in the material or spiritual world). We choose (due to our minute free will), and there are outcomes for our choices but these outcomes cannot be independently determined or created. All endeavors, following a free will choice which we make, are fully dependent in their outcome upon the Will or Sanction of the Supreme. Karmana daiva netrena - under sanction of Superior authority [SB 3.31.1]. We have our desires and our free will, but they are supervised by the Supreme, according to natural laws. Thus, our freedom to ‘create our destiny’ is VERY restricted! We really have not so much control, ultimately. Within our restricted freedom, we can choose if we are going to act according to God’s laws or not. That is within our control. But ultimately Krishna is the supreme controller, the actual and ultimate doer.

Our present material position has been determined by our past activities. This does not mean that we are like programmed robots without any free will. Within our present circumstances, we have some freedom - just as a tethered cow can move in a small circle. Depending on how we choose to act now, in accordance with the Supreme Lord’s laws or against His laws, we can get greater or lesser facilities thus binding ourselves further, or we can get totally liberated by fully surrendering to Him.

The statement you quoted from Srila Prabhupada’s purport BG 16.19 “In this verse it is clearly indicated that the placing of a particular individual soul in a particular body is the prerogative of the supreme will” is very nicely explained in SB 3.31.1:

TRANSLATION The Personality of Godhead said: Under the supervision of the Supreme Lord and according to the result of his work, the living entity, the soul, is made to enter into the womb of a woman through the particle of male semen to assume a particular type of body.

PURPORT As stated in the last chapter, after suffering different kinds of hellish conditions, a man comes again to the human form of body. The same topic is continued in this chapter. In order to give a particular type of human form to a person who has already suffered hellish life, the soul is transferred to the semen of a man who is just suitable to become his father. During sexual intercourse, the soul is transferred through the semen of the father into the mother’s womb in order to produce a particular type of body. This process is applicable to all embodied living entities, but it is especially mentioned for the man who was transferred to the Andha-tamisra hell. After suffering there, when he who has had many types of hellish bodies, like those of dogs and hogs, is to come again to the human form, he is given the chance to take his birth in the same type of body from which he degraded himself to hell.

Everything is done by the supervision of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Material nature supplies the body, but it does so under the direction of the Supersoul. It is said in Bhagavad-gita that a living entity is wandering in this material world on a chariot made by material nature. The Supreme Lord, as Supersoul, is always present with the individual soul. He directs material nature to supply a particular type of body to the individual soul according to the result of his work, and the material nature supplies it.

Question: “As for the demoniac, it is clearly said here that they are perpetually put into the wombs of demons, and thus they continue to be envious, the lowest of mankind.”

These statements seems to indicate that the individual (in human form by indication of the word mankind), at some point, loses his free will to serve Krsna.

Answer: Bhurijana Prabhu writes in ‘Surrender Unto Me’ 16.20: Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana comments: Arjuna may ask, “But, after many lifetimes, they should eventually receive Your mercy, by which they will be freed from their demoniac births.” Lord Krsna answers: “These foolish persons take birth in demoniac forms of life birth after birth. Failing to achieve Me, they descend to lower forms of life, even taking birth as dogs.” In the phrase “failing to achieve Me,” the word eva, “certainly,” indicates: “There is no possibility of My mercy falling upon them. It is even difficult for them to achieve a good form of life that would be a prerequisite to obtaining Me.” The following question can then be raised: “But the Supreme Lord automatically has His every desire fulfilled. He can make even the unqualified qualified.” The answer is: “Yes, He could, if He had such a desire. But actually He does not have even the seed of that desire. Thus the author of the Vedanta-sutra has described the Lord’s partiality in the sutra, vaisamya-nairghnyena: the Supreme seems to be unfair because of His partiality to some and His enmity toward others.”

Srila Prabhupada writes strongly in his purport to text 20: “It is clearly stated that the demoniac people, life after life, are put into the wombs of similar demons, and, not achieving the mercy of the Supreme Lord, they go down and down, so that at last they achieve bodies like those of cats, dogs and hogs. It is clearly stated that such demons have practically no chance of receiving the mercy of God at any stage of later life.”

Birth after birth they suffer, especially by being born into lower species.

Because such souls have no desire to get out of material existence, they don’t. They don’t want Krsna’s mercy, and He doesn’t give it to them.

According to Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana, Arjuna now asks Krsna: “People hearing this are going to want to give up these qualities. What can they do to accomplish this?” Krsna answers this question, and in this way presents us with our own choice either adopt demonic life and become degraded or reject it and obtain the supreme destination.

SB 3.30.34 also sheds further light: TRANSLATION

Having gone through all the miserable, hellish conditions and having passed in a regular order through the lowest forms of animal life prior to human birth, and having thus been purged of his sins, one is reborn again as a human being on this earth.

PURPORT

Just as a prisoner, who has undergone troublesome prison life, is set free again, the person who has always engaged in impious and mischievous activities is put into hellish conditions, and when he has undergone different hellish lives, namely those of lower animals like cats, dogs and hogs, by the gradual process of evolution he again comes back as a human being.

As long as one has rebellious and envious mentality one will only get more and more bound. Freedom in this world is very restricted. Any conditional rule will only chain us more and more. But when rebellious mentality is completely gone, one’s freedom is practically unlimited as demonstrated by Narada Muni - SB 1.6.37 (what a contrast!):

Suta Gosvami said: Thus addressing Vyasadeva, Srila Narada Muni took leave of him, and vibrating on his vina instrument, he left to wander at his free will.

PURPORT

Every living being is anxious for full freedom because that is his transcendental nature. And this freedom is obtained only through the transcendental service of the Lord. Illusioned by the external energy, everyone thinks that he is free, but actually he is bound up by the laws of nature. A conditioned soul cannot freely move from one place to another even on this earth, and what to speak of one planet to another. But a full-fledged free soul like Narada, always engaged in chanting the Lord’s glory, is free to move not only on earth but also in any part of the universe, as well as in any part of the spiritual sky. We can just imagine the extent and unlimitedness of his freedom, which is as good as that of the Supreme Lord. There is no reason or obligation for his traveling, and no one can stop him from his free movement. Similarly, the transcendental system of devotional service is also free. It may or may not develop in a particular person even after he undergoes all the detailed formulas. Similarly, the association of the devotee is also free. One may be fortunate to have it, or one may not have it even after thousands of endeavors. Therefore, in all spheres of devotional service, freedom is the main pivot. Without freedom there is no execution of devotional service. The freedom surrendered to the Lord does not mean that the devotee becomes dependent in every respect. To surrender unto the Lord through the transparent medium of the spiritual master is to attain complete freedom of life.

Question: The verses and subsequent purports of BG 16 also would seem to apply to most of society. Is it proper to think of the majority of mankind as demoniac?

Answer: If you consider that only 25 percent of Lord’s creation is in the material world, then it would seem like only minority of mankind is demoniac. But yes in Kali Yuga in this planet at the current time, it does seem like majority of mankind is demoniac. But even many of these demoniac personalities are getting saved from the most dangerous type of fear (BG 2.40) because of the ajnata sukriti that is being created in their lives by the presence of devotees.

How extraordinarily merciful is our loving Lord Krsna!

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1 Unregistered

Dear Romapada Svami, Dandavats. AGTSP. In July, 1976 in Wash, DC during a Q&A after the morning class, a devotee asked Srila Prabhupada what percentage of the population were devotees and what percentage were demonic. Srila Prabhupada replied that 10% were devotees , 10% were demons, and the remainder were innocent and could be swayed either way. From His answer comes Srila Prabhupada’s mission and hence our mission. We should “always” chant the Holy names of Krsna “offenselessly” and “under the direction of a spiritual master”, ideally an “uttama adhikari spiritual master”. We should also “teach everyone as far as possible the same principle” and by “following these instructions of Sri Caitanya Mahäprabhu” we will become “sucessful in advancing in Krsna Consciousness”. NOI 5(purport): “…In this verse Srila Rüpa Gosvämi advises the devotee to be intelligent enough to distinguish between the kanistha-adhikäri, madhyama-adhikäri and uttama-adhikäri. The devotee should also know his own position and should not try to imitate a devotee situated on a higher platform. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thäkura has given some practical hints to the effect that an uttama-adhikäri Vaisnava can be recognized by his ability to convert many fallen souls to Vaisnavism. One should not become a spiritual master unless he has attained the platform of uttama-adhikäri. A neophyte Vaisñava or a Vaisñava situated on the intermediate platform can also accept disciples, but such disciples must be on the same platform, and it should be understood that they cannot advance very well toward the ultimate goal of life under his insufficient guidance. Therefore a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikäri as a spiritual master.” ; CC Madya 7.127-129: (127) “Sri Caitanya Mahäprabhu replied, “Don’t speak like that again. Better to remain at home and chant the holy name of Krsña always.
PURPORT
It is not advisable in this Age of Kali to leave one’s family suddenly, for people are not trained as proper brahmacäriés and grhasthas. Therefore Sri Caitanya Mahäprabhu advised the brähmana not to be too eager to give up family life. It would be better to remain with his family and try to become purified by chanting the Hare Krsña mahä-mantra regularly under the direction of a spiritual master. This is the instruction of Sri Caitanya Mahäprabhu. If this principle is followed by everyone, there is no need to accept sannyäsa. In the next verse Sri Caitanya Mahäprabhu advises everyone to become an ideal householder by offenselessly chanting the Hare Krsña mantra and teaching the same principle to everyone he meets.;

(128) “Instruct everyone to follow the orders of Lord Sri Krsña as they are given in the Bhagavad-gitä and Srimad-Bhägavatam. In this way become a spiritual master and try to liberate everyone in this land.”
PURPORT
This is the sublime mission of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Many people come and inquire whether they have to give up family life to join the Society, but that is not our mission. One can remain comfortably in his residence. We simply request everyone to chant the mahä-mantra: Hare Krsña, Hare Krsña, Krsña Krsña, Hare Hare Hare Räma, Hare Räma, Räma Räma, Hare Hare. If one is a little literate and can read the Bhagavad-gitä As It Is and Srimad-Bhägavatam, that is so much the better. These works are now available in an English translation and are done very authoritatively to appeal to all classes of men. Instead of living engrossed in material activities, people throughout the world should take advantage of this movement and chant the Hare Krsña mahä-mantra at home with their families. One should also refrain from sinful activities-illicit sex, meat-eating, gambling and intoxication. Out of these four items, illicit sex is very sinful. Every person must get married. Every woman especially must get married. If the women outnumber the men, some men can accept more than one wife. In that way there will be no prostitution in society. If men can marry more than one wife, illicit sex life will be stopped. One can also produce many nice preparations to offer Krsña-grain, fruit, flowers and milk. Why should one indulge in unnecessary meat-eating and maintain horrible slaughterhouses? What is the use of smoking and drinking tea and coffee? People are already intoxicated by material enjoyment, and if they indulge in further intoxication, what chance is there for self-realization? Similarly, one should not partake in gambling and unnecessarily agitate the mind. The real purpose of human life is to attain the spiritual platform and return to Godhead. That is the summum bonum of spiritual realization. The Krsña consciousness movement is trying to elevate human society to the perfection of life by pursuing the method described by Sri Caitanya Mahäprabhu in His advice to the brähmana Kürma. That is, one should stay at home, chant the Hare Krsña mantra and preach the instructions of Krsña as they are given in the Bhagavad-gitä and Srimad-Bhägavatam.
(129) Sri Caitanya Mahäprabhu further advised the brähmana Kürma, “If you follow this instruction, your materialistic life at home will not obstruct your spiritual advancement. Indeed, if you follow these regulative principles, we will again meet here, or, rather, you will never lose My company.”
PURPORT
This is an opportunity for everyone. If one simply follows the instructions of Sri Caitanya Mahäprabhu, under the guidance of His representative, and chants the Hare Krsña mantra, teaching everyone as far as possible the same principle, the contamination of the materialistic way of life will not even touch him. It does not matter whether one lives in a holy place like Vrndävana, Navadvipa, or Jagannätha Puri or in the midst of European cities, where the materialistic way of life is very prominent. If a devotee follows the instructions of Sri Caitanya Mahäprabhu, he lives in the company of the Lord. Wherever he lives, he converts that place into Vrndävana and Navadvipa. This means that materialism cannot touch him. This is the secret of success for one advancing in Krsña consciousness.”
Your fallen servant, Lokaguru das

Comment posted by Lokaguru das on May 7th, 2007
2 Unregistered

If one studies the life of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, then one becomes sure that Mahaprabhu initially was householder and left home to distribute Hari Nam by chanting Himself. So, Mahaprabhu did because Mahaprabhu incarnated for that purpose only. Thus, one must find one’s purpose and must be guided by one’s own spiritual master and Krsna, how best one can serve Mahaprabhu and one’s own spiritual master. If there is a reason to be in home and can fulfill all purpose of attaining supreme spiritual goal then one must do it. If one find a way leaving his home and serving better to fulfill all one’s spiritual goal then one must do it. So until one can find better way to serve Lord, one must always chant name of Lord and pray to Lord, how best one can serve Krsna. Lord will reply from within to such question if sincerely asked. That’s why surrender to will of Krsna is best purpose to serve Krsna and one must try first to find out how best one can fulfill that purpose in very first hand.

Comment posted by srimanta on May 7th, 2007
3 Unregistered

At some point, Krsna decides that the jiva has had enough of the material world, and arranges for them to meet a bonafide guru, who then can free them from the modes of nature. Without being freed by the mercy of the Lord or His devotees, there are only the workings of the modes of material nature. The enslaved jiva thinks that he is the doer, when in actuality, only the modes of material nature are acting.

Free will menas that you can choose to approach towards Godhead, by the grace of
God, otherwise, not. In the spiritual world, there is actual freedom. The living being can also choose to leave that place, but generally once burned, twice shy.

Sri Krsna is described as “Sporting”, meaning He gets a kick out of the action and the varieties, otherwise they wouldn’t BE going on, period. Hence, the material world, so-called. He is the Supreme Autocrat. Your choice as tiny little jiva is; surrender to eternal love with the most incredible persons you could ever meet in the blissful and fulfillingly sweet music oif Vaikuntha, or repeat the same old half- shows and let-downs of material illusory lives over and over and over.

Free will means you can choose to love, or not. There is no love if it is forced. Otherwise, in material life, nada free will, except to take that choice, and that occurs IF God desires it. God is Great!

Tamoharadasa

Comment posted by Tamoharadasa on May 8th, 2007
4 Pandu das

The conclusion given by Romapada Swami, that Krishna’s treatment of demons is extraordinarily merciful and loving, reveals the Maharaja’s generous nature. The demons do not see it the same way. I can attest to this.

Srila Prabhupada said, “It is clearly stated that such demons have practically no chance of receiving the mercy of God at any stage of later life.”

I have been trying to reinvigorate my inspiration for devotional service, but quotes like the above have the opposite effect because it seems to portray Krishna as inexplicably mean. In Bhagavad-gita, those who are characterized as demoniac are ones who are predominantly in the mode of ignorance. One online dictionary defines ignorance as, “The condition of being uneducated, unaware, or uninformed.” We also know from Bhagavad-gita that we are forced to act, yet often we do not understand the actual situation, and action based on such ignorance typically leads to more confusion. This hardly seems like it warrants severe punishment. If Krishna is capable of helping these souls, but He instead likes to torture them, then why do those who value mercy love Him? There must be more of an explanation.

In the new editorial, Praghosa makes this true statement, “As a result to this very day it is far easier to have an atheistic presentation of the origin of the universe accepted than it is to have a theistic presentation accepted.” Also, by Krishna’s arrangement, fruitive work (based on the bodily conception of life) gives relatively quick (empirical) results, while it can be quite difficult for ordinary persons to ascertain the effects of devotional service. We are told that it is very easy to make advancement by the chanting of Hare Krishna and engagement in various kinds of devotional service, but then gradually we learn how it is also very easy to commit offenses that can derail the whole process. I’ve learned this the hard way, with the result that I do not know if my decade of chanting Hare Krishna totaling millions of times has had any positive effect due to my inability to successfully navigate the minefield of offenses. Some of the difficulties ISKCON has had have made avoiding offenses much more complicated than I ever expected.

Similarly, many people are trying to make advancement through engaging in various religious practices and organizations, yet by our standard of religious conduct they would be failing miserably. For instance, there are Biblical passages that suggest that abstaining from meat is a sign of a lack of faith in God. Someone who has been taught such an interpretation would not only eat meat themselves, but would even condemn vegetarians, including the Hare Krishna devotees, as atheistic based on their interpretation of the Bible. Of course we would consider that assessment a mistake and the person making it as ignorant; and we can argue over whose scripture is the real authority, but such arguments often seem like a waste of time as neither side is persuaded by the other.

Given Romapada Swami’s quote, “Within our restricted freedom, we can choose if we are going to act according to God’s laws or not. That is within our control,”,” it appears that ONLY the decision of whether to act according to God’s rules is within our control (and I concur). The above meat example highlights the fact that there is significant disagreement over what God wants, which leads to the conclusion that we have virtually no control. Indeed, if Krishna wants us to behave a certain way, one would think He would have promulgated His will much better. I recall being 8 years old when I realized that pleasing God, if He exists, would be the most important thing to do. Yet I was 20 when I first got the idea to give up meat (based on environmental and animal rights reasons), and 23 when I first heard it was a principle in some religions, the same year I first heard of the concept of brahmacarya. Similarly, I was exposed to drugs in college and learned (the hard way) that I was prone to addiction before I ever heard anything about Krishna consciousness. I’ll leave it to the individual to imagine how much I sinned without knowing I was doing wrong, and how much more due to habits I formed in that time. Not even considering the nasty things I’ve eaten, Krishna indicates in Bhagavad-gita that even as a child when I picked a clover from the ground and ate it, I was eating only sin. That’s just too much!

In the ‘meat’ example we have a situation where a person is arguing a kind of theological point but making an error based on some religious (mis)education. I would not consider the actions based on a miseducation to qualify as free will, and so I do not see any basis for punishment. Yet Srila Prabhupada has stated that not only are the ignorant punished by Krishna’s arrangement, but there is practically no chance of their obtaining Krishna’s mercy. I do not know why Srila Prabhupada would describe Krishna like an unforgiving tyrant. Such portrayal certainly does not inspire me to devotional service.

To summarize a little, we find ourselves in a position of suffering. We don’t know that our real suffering is our forgetting Krishna. We don’t even know how we got here, though we’re told it’s our fault. We are told of different paths to rectification, although a little study reveals many conflicts between the various paths. On one path we’re told that Krishna gives us knowledge, remembrance, and forgetfulness; but if for some reason Krishna does not give these in a helpful way, we are punished for making mistakes. The punishment is often given in the form of increasing bewilderment and suffering. There is some hope, however, as we are told that Krishna’s pure devotees are more merciful than He is, and by their mercy we can be saved. Indeed there is even a perfect example in Caitanya Caritamrita (http://vedabase.net/cc/madhya/15/169/en), when Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu tells Vasudeva Datta, “”Whosever welfare you desire immediately becomes a Vaishnava, and Krishna delivers all Vaishnava from the reactions of their past sinful activities.” Except the fact that we’re still thoroughly dominated by material nature suggests that either Lord Caitanya’s boon was impotent, or His idea of “immediately” is more than 500 years. How can this be anything but a cruel joke? I feel like a pawn on a chess board being blamed by a big hand for the moves I supposedly make. How can I rekindle my love for Krishna when it really seems like He’s just looking for any excuse to smite me. He doesn’t even need an excuse, but apparently finds one for the sake of adding insult to injury.

I don’t expect to win this argument, nor do I want to. I don’t like it, but it persists. If I just try to serve Krishna for my own good, then my service is for me, not for Krishna. My attempt at bhakti has apparently produced a lot of offensive reactions but not much love of Krishna, so hearing about Krishna’s mistreatment of demons gives me real cause for concern. I don’t see much hope unless my conclusions are convincingly defeated by an expert Vaishnava so that I have no choice but to become one myself.

Comment posted by Pandu das on May 8th, 2007
5 Praghosa

Dear Pandu,

I appreciate your angst and it is not that many of us don’t struggle with such questions and other related ones too. Maybe not to the point where we are considering Lord Caitanya’s statements a cruel joke or Srila Prabhupada’s words harsh but still, tough questions do arise for all of us.

For what its worth I will throw in my 2 cents and I hope it does not appear as more of the same cruelty and harshness.

The first thing I would say is a phrase we all know well - “No-one said it was going to be easy” (getting out of the material world). We understand that Mayadevi’s service is to test our resolve and sincerity in returning to our eternal home with Krishna and the fact is she does a marvellous job in that regard, if only we could render such exempleary service.

In addition to that and please don’t take offence but your comment seemed to be written from the perspective of linear time as opposed to eternal time. Someone may be miseducated and read the Bible to understand that meat eating is okay but can we not just understand that as part of their ongoing sojourn in the material world? In otherwords such miseducation is but part of their karmic footprint but ultimately that miseducation is also part of their personal journey that will ultimately bring them back to the lotus feet of Krishna. We learn in the 6th chapter of Bhagavad-gita that one who desires or does good is never overcome by evil and will eventually attain the lotus feet of Krishna. The opportunity to do good is always available to the living entity, they just have to make that choice.

You also mention about children getting karma by eating unoffered food but actually children up to a certain age do not incur karma:

“Parents must raise their children in God consciousness. The Vedas state that parents are responsible for the karmic reactions of their children” [Coming Back]

On the subject of children, we always encourage children to do the right thing and explain to them that if they don’t they will have to suffer certain consequences, just as any of us have to suffer the consequences of the judicial system if we break the law. So is it any wonder that we also have to suffer the consequences if we break the laws of God?

The big difference of course is that whatever ‘punishment’ we suffer as a result of breaking the laws of God are in reality not a punishment at all, rather they are simply a part of the educational process we need to go through to come to the point of surrender at the lotus feet of the Lord. Such ‘punishments’ are welcomed by those advanced devotees who can see them for what they are:

Vipadah santu tah sasvat………

“I wish that all those calamities would happen again and again so that we could see You again and again, for seeing You means that we will no longer see repeated births and deaths.” SB 1.8.25

Your servant, Praghosa dasa.

Comment posted by Praghosa on May 8th, 2007
6 Pandu das

Dear Praghosa prabhu,

First I would like to thank you for your response. Far from being cruel or harsh, your writing reveals your patience and concern for my welfare and helps inspire me to keep trying for a solution to my lack of Krishna consciousness. However I’m not sure how much you understand the point I’m trying to make.

In general when I talk about suffering, I am referring to forgetfulness of Krishna. That’s how I understand Krishna’s statement in Bhagavad-gita that the whole universe is suffering. The details are ultimately just details, but the essence of suffering is forgetfulness of Krishna.

Based on that, and considering the following quote from the article:

“Arjuna may ask, “But, after many lifetimes, they should eventually receive Your mercy, by which they will be freed from their demoniac births.” Lord Krsna answers: “These foolish persons take birth in demoniac forms of life birth after birth. Failing to achieve Me, they descend to lower forms of life, even taking birth as dogs.” In the phrase “failing to achieve Me,” the word eva, “certainly,” indicates: “There is no possibility of My mercy falling upon them. It is even difficult for them to achieve a good form of life that would be a prerequisite to obtaining Me.” The following question can then be raised: “But the Supreme Lord automatically has His every desire fulfilled. He can make even the unqualified qualified.” The answer is: “Yes, He could, if He had such a desire. But actually He does not have even the seed of that desire.”

I do not see how that could be appropriately described as “part of the educational process we need to go through” to eventually surrender to Krishna’s lotus feet. If anyone needs help to become Krishna’s devotee’s it is those who are most in ignorance. That above passage clearly says (paraphrasing), “theoretically Krishna could eventually help the demons, but actually He has absolutely no desire to do so, and thus He won’t.” Krishna’s use of the (translated) word “failing” suggests that even the demons try to become Krishna conscious somehow, but without Krishna’s help they never achieve the goal. I do not see how this even remotely resembles the superficial difficulties faced by devotees such as Draupadi, the Pandavas, or Queen Kunti, who have always been blessed with Krishna’s affection.

It sounds like a thoroughly hopeless situation for the demons. They either do not know Krishna, or they badly misunderstand Him. I often feel like a part of that group, as would be many of my loved ones. Thus I am very concerned hearing about Krishna’s enmity with the demons and how He makes it practically impossible for them to become Krishna conscious. It is hard to believe that such terrible punishment would ever be preferable to blessing a demon to become a devotee.

Comment posted by Pandu das on May 9th, 2007
7 Unregistered

Dearest Pandu Prabhu;

I hope you will not mind if I toss in a comment or two. I have only a partial understanding of what you write, so please excuse me if I have missed your main point. Also, please pardon any typos, as this computer has small characters, and these eyes are not what they used to be.

I seem to be hearing a lot about your concerns, but what about Krsna’s? We are Krsna, in one sense, and in pure consciousness, our desires and His perfectly match, for the maximizing of rasa, by the sweet arrangement of the devotees. As long as we put the small-s self first in our considerations, then we are not actually being Krsna conscious. Krsna consciousness is a change of heart from outer directed sense gratification to one of inner directed loving service. It is not just a lifestyle adjustment or a change of clothes, it is a transformation of heart, which we have the free will to allow to happen, or not.

Failure to identify with God’s cause is the source of our maladjustment and discomfort. If one is happy serving, that is the perfection. One must be “hooked up”, with the potencies of Godhead. This is a real thing that occurs by mercy of Srimati Radharani and other worshipable Beings. If you haven’t obtained this and don’t feel bliss in your service, then you haven’t made the grade yet. You should be crying and begging.

Fortunately, it is Sri Krsna Mahaprabhu’s desire that we become lovers of Krsna. By His grace, all things can be obtained. The bonafide spiritual masters are the embodied representations of that mercy, and their mercy is relatively easily obtained. That mercy comes in the form of knowledge to cut the ties of material life and false ego. It also comes in the form of opportunity for full engagement in service via the disciplic succession. Take full advantage.

Meanwhile, your spiritual suffering and angst are a source of pleasure for the devotees, because if you were totally insincere, there would be no such anguish, you would simply blame and fault find. Sri Krsna is perfect and merciful. He is the kindest and the most knowledgaeable. Be sure that everything God does is good. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta says that if you think that the Lord has any fault in His character, know for certain that you are mistaken.

Without suffering due to lack of surrender, then how would we be rectified? Sometimes the father has to beat the son. Does he enjoy this? Not. Krsna is under no obligation to give everything to the souls in rebellion or seperatist mentality. Still, he allows them even to create universes! Talk about mercy and generosity!!

I humbly suggest that you refrain from comparative religiosisty. The instructions given within any given faith will vary, they will not always agree. Just stick to the course given by the spiritual master, and don’t be led astray by speculation. Your intellect is tiny, no offense, as are all of ours. So don’t be betrayed by the mind’s nonsense. Gambling means to accept this speculative process. Your conclusions must be in agreement with sastra, or it is false. The four regs forbid such gambling.

Meanwhile, many of your your Godbrothers ansd sisters love you, and pray for your nice advancement. You have had the mercy of Mahaprabhu, whose servants have liberated you already, as you know that you are not this body. Now bring it to the full conclusions. HKHR

Your servant
Tamoharadasa (ACBSP)

Comment posted by Tamoharadasa on May 9th, 2007
8 Praghosa

Dear Pandu,

I’m pretty sure I’ve got the gist of your query. As I said first time around - no-one said it was going to be easy - and in the case of demons it is going to be that much harder again. That is fairly self-explanatory, if someone is diametrically opposed to a particular end result then why should we think it unusual that they achieve an opposite result? Krishna is simply fulfilling their desire, you appear to want Him to intervene and either interfere with their free will (something that would have a devastating effect on all the loving relationships that unlimited living entities are having with Krishna) or at least reduce the reaction that any particular living entity receives for engaging in sinful or demoniac activites. It is a generally understood principle that for someone to have a life changing experience they have to hit rock bottom. The world is littered with alcoholics or drug dependent people who, after eventually kicking their habit, readily admit that they could have done so far earlier if they hadn’t had the support of loved ones who were always there to pick up the pieces and protect them from the full horrors of their addiction. Many experts in the field would confirm that such protection is ultimately counter-productive and it is better to be cruel to be kind, allowing the person to hit rock bottom and from that point on there is a chance that the person involved can then genuinely begin to make real progress.

In the same way a demoniac mentality is not to be pampered but still there are avenues for such a demoniac mentality to receive the ultimate mercy, either in the form of direct intervention by the Lord or by receiving the mercy of the Lord’s devotees.

So even if someone is determined to defy the authority of God, there are still arrangements made for their salvation, I would say that is a pretty liberal, generous and merciful system.

You say: It is hard to believe that such terrible punishment would ever be preferable to blessing a demon to become a devotee.

In an absolute sense such punishment is actually mercy. Pleasure and pain are only perceivable in the material realm, so while we may see such punishment as terrible, if it helps to eventually bring someone to their senses and puts them on the path back to godhead then it is ultimately glorious. That said there are many many examples of where punishment is not the chosen tool of deliverance but pure mercy or blessings are. We know many of the classic examples from Krishna or Caitanya lila but even our modern day ISKCON has many such examples. I recall one devotees journey to becoming a devotee, his first site of devotees was on harinama and he was so disturbed by the site and sound of the devotees that he physically assaulted them. His assault consisted of punches, kicks and head butts etc and he drew blood from at least 2 of the devotees on the harinam. Fortunately for all concerned the police happened to be passing, thus the devotees were saved from further physical abuse and our friend was saved from committing further offences. After a police investigation he was charged with common assault and GBH and ended up in court where he received a short custodial sentence. In his wisdom the judge also ordered him to visit the devotees concerned at their temple so that he could experience their lifestyle and he could then hopefully understand how such peace loving people were wholly undeserving of such a vicious attack.

To cut a long story short, as a result of his visit to the temple he became a devotee (prasadam being the initial attraction). We learn from sastra that such offences to devotees are more serious than any other and millions of lifetimes in hell cannot counteract such offences. Still within a matter of weeks (and without even a day visit to hell) this aparadhi was chanting and dancing with the devotees on harinam.

So whatever it takes for us to have a change of heart and turn to serving Krishna and His devotees as opposed to serving our senses and maya can only be a good thing. Of course it does take a little transcendental vision to see both ends of the spectrum as equally beneficial.

Your servant, Praghosa dasa.

Comment posted by Praghosa on May 10th, 2007
9 Pandu das

Hare Krishna.

I wanted to thank Tamohara prabhu for such an inspiring message. It really spoke to me and helped me to take definite steps to try to get my spiritual life back on track.

I also wrote to Praghosa on two points:

1. I thought the quotes in the article indicated punishment without concern for correction (which is why I found the article disturbing), whereas Praghosa’s comments seemed to emphasize correction as the goal of punishment.

2. I realized that Praghosa’s point about the value of punishment as a method of correcting misbehavior was exactly my position two years ago. However my adherence to that position, which apparently was not held by top local devotee authorities, resulted my unintentionally offending many devotees and my subsequent fall from devotional service.

Hare Krishna.

Comment posted by Pandu das on May 15th, 2007

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