Date: March 6, 2008
Verse: Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.13.13
Speaker: HH Prabhavisnu Swami
By Ananda Tirtha (das) PVS (Mayapur - IN)
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yesam na tusto bhagavan yajna-lingo janardanah
tesam sramo hy aparthaya yad atma nadrtah svayam
TRANSLATION: The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Janardana [Lord Krsna], is the form to accept all the results of sacrifice. If He is not satisfied, then one’s labor for advancement is futile. He is the ultimate Self, and therefore one who does not satisfy Him certainly neglects his own interests.
PURPORT: Brahma is deputed as the supreme head of universal affairs, and he in his turn deputes Manu and others as charges d’affaires of the material manifestation, but the whole show is for the satisfaction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Brahma knows how to satisfy the Lord, and similarly persons engaged in the line of Brahma’s plan of activities also know how to satisfy the Lord. The Lord is satisfied by the process of devotional service, consisting of the ninefold process of hearing, chanting, etc. It is in one’s own sell-interest to execute prescribed devotional service, and anyone who neglects this process neglects his own self-interest. Everyone wants to satisfy his senses, but above the senses is the mind, above the mind is the intelligence, above the intelligence is the individual self, and above the individual self is the Superself. Above even the Superself is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, visnu-tattva. The primeval Lord and the cause of all causes is Sri Krsna. The complete process of perfectional service is to render service for the satisfaction of the transcendental senses of Lord Krsna, who is known as Janardana.
Prabhavisnu Swami: So here Lord Brahma is talking to Svayambhuva Manu. He is giving him instructions how to execute the service that heās given to him, the service to govern the universe, to engage all the living entities in the universe in the service of the Lord, to give them protection so that they might be happy and satisfied even though they are in the material world. The material world as we know is a place of forgetfulness of oneās eternal relationship with Krsna. The living entities take birth here and try to enjoy their senses separately from Lord Krsna, but the Lord is very merciful and wants to reclaim the conditioned souls and encourage them to return to the spiritual world and therefore the Lord himself appears in this world from time to time as mentioned in Bhagavad-gita:
paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam
dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge
āIn order to encourage the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium.ā
Srila Prabhupada, in the purport to that verse, explains that killing the demons is not as important as encouraging the pious, those who are inclined towards devotional service or giving the principles of religion by which one can understand how to practice devotional service.
The demons can be killed generally by some action of material energy. Just like the Titanic, the famous ship, and it is sailing on its maiden voyage, I think from Southampton to New York, the journey was somewhere close to Newfoundland, there were so many dignitaries on board and struck an iceberg and most of the people perished despite their high position and stature in society. Many were demons no doubt, most if not all. [chuckles]
So by a simple act of material energy they could be killed. There are so many earthquakes and volcanoes, wars also, which eliminate so many demoniac persons. Itās not difficult for the Lord, through the agency of the material energy, to arrange such things.
The primary reasons for his coming then are actually to reclaim those conditioned souls who are sufficiently inclined to follow his instructions and establishing the principles of religion, means to give those instructions. This is the main reason why the Lord comes and he also sends his representatives, so Brahma is one of his chief representatives.
A very suitable person has to take the post of Brahma. If thereās not a suitable person the Lord himself has to take the position of Brahma; it is not that some substandard personality can take up that post. Either a suitable person or the Lord himself. That means he has to be a powerful, great devotee. He has to have a lot of patience, a lot of tolerance, there are always so many difficulties in the material world, so many conflicts, various problems created by the churning of the material energy. The living entities are suffering greatly and struggling with one another.
Brahmaās lifespan is very long, he has to tolerate all this kind of stuff for a really, really long period of time. Itās essential that heās a very advanced and determined and patient devotee. Obviously he has to be spiritually competent, able to give spiritual instruction because when the Lord isnāt present himself he acts through his representatives and he gives spiritual instruction through his representatives and engages the living entities, at least those who are inclined, in devotional service through the agency of his representative.
So Brahma has to be highly qualified and obviously Manu also has to be a highly qualified personality. Both of them are considered as kinds of incarnations of the Lord. There are the gunavataras, and Brahma is one of them, and there are the manvantara-avataras, the Manus are all avataras of a kind. Although they are in the jiva-tattva category, nevertheless they are a kind of avatara. Just as there are so many saktyavesa-avataras, also jivas, but they are empowered with special potency for executing a special function.
Prthu Maharaja was empowered to rule over the earth, to bring order and prosperity to the earth, to give protection to the earth after the misrule of Vena who had claimed himself to be the representative of the Lord. Kings generally are the representatives of the Lord, but they are not the only representatives of the Lord. The brahmanas are also representatives of the Lord, the spiritual masters of society, and Vena had prohibited the brahmanas from performing sacrifice and prohibited people from worshiping and offering great respect to the brahmanas. He upset the balance of society and as a result everything became degraded, the personality of the earth became very disturbed. Eventually the brahmanas had to warn Vena and when he didnāt pay attention then they cursed him and he died due to their potency.
Then they prayed to the Lord and they churned the body of Vena in some way such that Prthu and his consort Arci appeared. He is considered jiva, there is one letter of Prabhupada I saw where the artists are asking him questions, āShould Prthu Maharaja have a halo?ā And Prabhupada responded, āNo, he is a jiva-tattva, only visnu-tattva forms have halos.ā He is a saktyavesa-avatara, but still he is a jiva-tattva.
Brahma also, Manu also, but they are empowered by the Lord and great servants of the Lord and acting on behalf of the Lord to encourage those who are pious, give them protection and engage them in devotional service. They have to understand the philosophy of Krsna consciousness very deeply and know how to apply it.
Brahma therefore is the head of our sampradaya. He personally met the Supreme Lord as described in the Second Canto, personally got instruction from him, especially the four famous verses that are known as the four seed verses of the Srimad-Bhagavatam. And by hearing from the Lord and by following the Lordās instructions, Brahmaās realizations increased. And therefore he was able to give good instruction to many personalities, most notably Narada, who is his son and disciple. Narada is the next link in the chain of disciplic succession. Narada, through his service, his realizations, was able to enliven and instruct so many other personalities. There are so many different dialogues in the Srimad-Bhagavatam where Narada is giving transcendental instruction to other personalities like Yudhisthira, Prahlada Maharaja, and Dhruva Maharaja.
Manu is another person who was instructed by Brahma. Here we are studying these instructions, and this verse particularly is the essence of transcendental knowledge. Transcendental knowledge is not something theoretical, but it is something to be applied practically in oneās life. This verse explains how one should use oneās energies, one must use them in the service of the Lord. Just as Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita:
yajnarthat karmano ‘nyatra loko ‘yam karma-bandhanah
tad-artham karma kaunteya mukta-sangah samacara
āWork done as a sacrifice for Visnu has to be performed; otherwise work causes bondage in this material world.ā
Activity not offered in the service of the Lord creates karma and as a result of that karma one has to take birth again and again in different situations in the material world and the only way to become freed from that cycle of birth and death is to follow the process of devotional service. The activity of devotional service is also known as akarma. There is no karmic reaction; rather it progressively loosens the bonds of karma.
Srila Prabhupada gave the example of a fan: when itās plugged in itās spinning fast, when you pull out the plug it doesnāt stop immediately, but it gradually slows down and eventually it stops. In the same way, a person may be engaged in materialistic activity and generating karma and suffering from karma, but when he takes to the process of devotional service, itās like pulling out the plug of the fan. He no longer generates karma and the reactions of his previous karma become less and less and less until they stop altogether.
Simultaneously his attachment for Krsna goes on growing more and more and more as he performs devotional service to the point where he no longer has any desires for enjoyment in the material world, he is fully absorbed in service to Krsna, his desires are all focused on satisfying the Lord and the Lordās devotees, thus his consciousness is prepared for entry into the spiritual world. This is the process.
Itās a gradual process, but if one diligently sticks to the process then his entry into the spiritual world is more or less guaranteed. Or if he doesnāt go to the spiritual world itās because the Lord has some service for him to perform here in the material world to deliver the fallen souls, to be like Brahma or Manu, for example. They are great devotees but the Lord has given them service here in this material world, but they are on the spiritual platform because they are fully Krsna conscious.
So for a devotee, a pure unalloyed devotee of the Lord, he will go wherever the Lord sends him. Generally it is said that devotees donāt hanker after the five kinds of liberation. One might sometimes wonder why. In fact, in the conversation in the Caitanya-caritamrta between the Tattvavadi Acarya and Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Lord Caitanya asked him, āWhat is the perfection of life and how to attain it?ā He responded that, āThe perfection of life is to attain one of the five kinds of liberation.ā
One kind, sayujya-mukti, this is not at all attractive to Vaisnavas. They have no interest in merging into the body of the Lord. But the other four would surely be of great interest to the Vaisnavas, to live on the same planet as the Lord, to be an associate of the Lord, certainly this is attractive. He was saying that this is the goal of life, the perfection of life, and the means to attain it is by following varnasrama-dharma, which is also part of the Krsna consciousness process.
Yesterday we were hearing in the Bhagavatam class of the validity and importance of varnasrama-dharma. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur also gave considerable stress to varnasrama dharma as a means to organize society in a harmonious way, the society of devotees also. They should serve the Lord according to their propensity.
But Caitanya Mahaprabhu didnāt accept the propositions of the Tattvavadi Acarya. He said, āActually, the goal of life is to attain love of Krsna and the means to attain it is the process of devotional service.ā
So love of Krsna is the goal, therefore devotees in our sampradaya are taught not to hanker after the various kinds of liberation, even though going to the planet of the Lord or becoming an associate, these are very attractive propositions. The devotee certainly accepts such kinds of liberation if offered by the Lord because that is an opportunity for devotional service, but if the Lord is not offering, if the Lord wants the devotee to take birth again in the material world to preach Krsna consciousness, the devotee is also more than happy to do that.
Bhaktivinoda Thakur even expressed that, āI do not mind if I have to take birth as an ant or an insect, at least let it be in the house of a devotee. Somehow or other let me always have the association of the devotees.ā So this is the real goal of life then, to be Krsna conscious, to develop love of Krsna, and to be fully engaged in the devotional service of the Lord.
Devotional service of the Lord consists of the nine fold processes of hearing, chanting, etc, as Srila Prabhupada has mentioned here. So hearing and chanting, these are the first two mentioned. These are the basis of the process of devotional service. Elsewhere, we find in Caitanya-caritamrta, Lord Caitanya enumerates sixty four aspects of devotional service. He says out of the sixty-four, five are most important:
sadhu-sanga, nama-kirtana, bhagavata-sravana
mathura-vasa, sri-murtira sraddhaya sevana
sakala-sadhana-srestha ei panca anga
krsna-prema janmaya ei pancera alpa sanga
āAssociation of devotees, hearing the Bhagavatam, chanting the holy names, residing in a holy place, and worshiping the deity with faith and devotionāthese five are the best of all aspects of devotional service. Even a little performance of these five can awaken oneās love of Krsna.ā
Elsewhere he also says that of the nine processes of devotional service, chanting the holy name is the most important. It is the yuga-dharma. We can see that these five activities are the basis of our ISKCON movement.
Srila Prabhupada said that businessmen like to gather in the stock exchange, chamber of commerce, discussing how much is the price of rice, how much is the price of goldāthey have common interest there. In the same way, persons who are seriously interested in spiritual life, Krsna consciousness, they can gather in the ISKCON temples. Prabhupada created ISKCON, so many temples, in order to give this facility to persons who are serious about spiritual life. The principal activities are hearing about Krsna. Therefore Srila Prabhupada gave so many books and told us to read them every day, have class every day.
Once he even said that, āYou read one verse of the Bhagavatam every day and in this way you can finish it in this life, and in the next life you can begin again.ā [chuckles] If one has to come back to the material world he can go on hearing the Bhagavatam. In the spiritual world, Bhagavatam is there, the Personality of Godhead is there, his pastimes are there, the devotees are always chanting his glories, the same thing, Bhagavatam.
So hearing Bhagavatam, chanting the holy name, there is kirtan every day in ISKCON temples. In temples like Vrindavan and Mayapur, Prabhupada wanted twenty-four hours kirtan going on, constantly. Deity worship, of course in all the temples, opportunity is there to associate with devotees, which always enlivens us in Krsna consciousness, it protects us from bad association, materialistic association. And of course, such places where the deities are worshiped and hearing and chanting is going on, these are all holy places.
Of course, Sridham Mayapur, Sri Vrindavan Dham, these are places where the Lord appeared, these are especially holy places, but all the temples are like embassies of Mayapur and Vrindavan, Srila Prabhupada said. They are also holy places. In this way, Srila Prabhupada established ISKCON to give the facility to everyone to practice these five important aspects of devotional service and to teach people to use their energy in the service of Krsna, to offer the results of their activities in sacrifice to the Lord.
Thus Srila Prabhupada has carried on, all our acaryas, have carried on the same function as Brahma, as Manu, by giving protection to the living entities, giving them proper instruction, giving them the facilities for engaging in devotional service of the Lord and thus purifying oneās consciousness, developing love of Krsna, and this is beneficial for oneself and is beneficial for everyone else as well.
As Prabhupada mentions in the purport, everyone wants to satisfy his senses. One can do that in Krsna consciousness also. One just has to put Krsna in the forefront, first and foremost think of how to serve Krsna, how to serve guru, how to serve the Vaisnavas, and automatically oneās senses will be satisfied. Prabhupada said people like to go to restaurants to eat varieties of food, they like to go to various dance venues to sing and dance, they like to go to various functions to meet their family members and friends.
Similarly, in Krsna consciousness, we have delicious prasadam, we have so many feasts, we have restaurants, we have facility for singing and dancing in kirtan, and we have so many functions and festivals so devotees can associate together and have loving exchanges amongst one another.
In this way, everything is there in Krsna consciousness, but it is all connected to Krsna, therefore it is all spiritual. Prabhupada said that material means forgetfulness of Krsna and spiritual means remembrance of Krsna. So one should therefore mould his life in such a way that Krsna is in the centre and devotional service to Krsna is oneās only activity, or at least oneās principal activity. Even if devotees have some material desire, not everyone is niskama devotee, even if some devotees are on different levels of sakama, still if their overriding desire is to serve Krsna, they will become gradually purified of those material desires and their attachment to Krsna will become stronger and stronger. They will come to the point of being qualified to go back to Godhead or to be always on the platform of Krsna consciousness wherever they are.
In this way, we should make the instruction of this verse our life and soul and help others to understand these instructions and to follow them. Thus we can be fully satisfied and help others to achieve full satisfaction and the perfection of life.
Once again, the verse translation [repeats translation]. OK, Hare Krsna Srila Prabhupada ki jai! [applause] Any comment or question? Yes? Thereās a microphone? [inaudible question]
The material world, as we know, is a facility the Lord gives living entities who want to have some independent enjoyment. It is also termed as a prison house, so it is also a place of suffering, but the Lord isnāt interested in just torturing the living entities, he is thinking of their long term welfare, so he wants them to be engaged in devotional service and therefore as satisfied and happy as possible. But it is still the material world so definitely they will still have to suffer some of the tribulations of material existence. As long as one has the material body, there is bound to be some suffering through birth, old age, death, and disease. But still if one follows the process of devotional service one can rise to the transcendental platform and not be affected very much by that.
Itās not that the Lord is going to turn the material world into the spiritual world, and therefore weāll all just stay here permanently. There will always be these pinpricks, which are an impetus to take shelter more of Krsna, but he is giving that opportunity for those who take to the process to be genuinely happy and satisfied and practically undisturbed by the material energy. So both things are accomplished simultaneously.
Is it? My understanding was they were the same, but I could be wrong. Perhaps you could enlighten us.
Is it possible to get new karmic reactions by not proper execution of devotional service, such as offences? There is a purport in the Sixth Ccanto where Srila Prabhupada says that the demigods are sakama devotees, devotees who have material desires. Because of those material desires, they get some kind of reactions in the form of harassment from demons. Now on the other hand, I think it is in Madhurya-kadambini, Visvanatha Cakravarti says that when we see that devotees are in some difficulty or distress, we shouldnāt take it as ordinary karma. It is an arrangement of the Lord for their purification. A devotee himself may take it as some karma or reaction, but it shouldnāt be viewed as ordinary karma.
Of course if a person becomes an offender to Vaisnavas, if he gives up the process of devotional service, then he can come back into the realm of generating karma, but if we are talking about devotees who are going on practicing devotional service but make some mistakes and may get some kind of reaction, we should not take it as ordinary karma. Rather, it is the Lord teaching them a lesson.
Can any mahatma come to the material world to fulfill his incomplete desire? Yes, if a person is a devotee, a devotee is a mahatma, but if he has material desires, yes, he may come again. . . . Oh, to fulfill his spiritual desires? OK, surely, if the person has strong desire to preach and spread Krsna consciousness in the material world, then Krsna may fulfill that desire by allowing him to come here to preach further. Why not? [chuckles] . . .
How we can understand? Well, by his activities we will understand that he is spreading Krsna consciousness all over the world, therefore he must have a strong desire to do it. We consider that our acaryas, they are specially sent by the Lord. Whether they had the strong desire to do it and the Lord was reciprocating with them by allowing them, or whether they were just personalities who were absorbed in the pastimes of the Lord but the Lord needed someone to send, it could be either. It would be hard to understand who would be in what category, but in any case, they are all the most elevated devotees of the Lord.
OK, is it time? Thank you very much. Hare Krsna!