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Self-aggrandizement is Not Krishna Consciousness

Tuesday, 27 September 2011 / Published in Articles / 3,562 views

By Pusta Krishna das

Somewhere along the line, the boundary between Krishna Consciousness and narcissism has become blurred. This is not very surprising because we live in the material world with a desire to occupy the lofty and unique position of Sri Krishna Himself. Krishna, however, is ajita, undefeatable, being the Summum Bonum, the Creator of all, and the only true Enjoyer with his creation as His property.

There are many posts in the world with position or pratishtha that is recognized. One may be merely a parent, a boss, a manager, or a guru. Any time that one occupies a post, even if it is not acknowledged by others, one’s feeling of self importance may occupy the consciousness and give one a feeling of power and self-worth. It is, of course, an illusory position. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu rejected all designations as extraneous except one: to be imbibed with the sense that one is the servant of the servant of the servant of the Lord. Desire for wealth, following, sense enjoyment or poetic license has been condemned by Mahaprabhu. That is our true position, and is connected with Sambandha Jnana, knowledge of the relationships that are real.

Dhruva Maharaj, who felt slighted because he did not inherit the kingdom of his father, performed penances to attract Lord Vishnu who would be able to rectify that oversight by his royal father. When Lord Vishna, appreciating the dedication of Dhruva approached the young boy to fulfill his desire, then Dhruva was ecstatically overwhelmed by the beauty of and love for Lord Vishnu. He realized how paltry his desire had been, comparing the kingdom as some broken pieces of glass, while the darshan of the Lord was the most valuable gem. It has been recommended that those who are without desire, those with desire for liberation, and those with all material desires should approach the Lord because He alone can grant all wishes. Ultimately, after many, many lifetimes of sukriti or piety, one may, if fortunate, be blessed by a true vaishnava to become a bhakta.

The point: one will never be fully satisfied announcing one’s own greatness, whether material or spiritual. The greatest satisfaction is with glorification of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. We are very fortunate to have been introduced to the process of Nama Sankirtan through Lord Chaitanya’s genuine representatives, especially His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad. I personally witnessed how Srila Prabhupad did not desire any worship for himself. He accepted service on behalf of his Gurudeva and Krishna, but it genuinely disturbed his mood of service to be followed about as celebrities are by the paparazzi. We need to have a sound intention in what we are doing in order to please Sri Guru and Sri Krishna. Krishna is the Supreme Controller and we have so much experience of Krishna pulling the rug out from under insincere or deceitful individuals. Everyone is susceptible… everyone.

So, do not misconstrue that recognition by others is the same as being recognized by Krishna. It is Krishna’s attention that we are hoping for, that He might hear our sincere prayers. The six goswamis of Vrindaban, Lord Chaitanya’s confidential disciples, were constantly seeking Krishna. Even they know the Truth, know Krishna, they cannot bear the separation from Krishna. That urgency is what genuine vaishnava-acharyas are promoting, and certainly not themselves. Think on these points, as your comments are welcomed. Sankirtan is the march, together, to the supreme destination.

8 Responses to “Self-aggrandizement is Not Krishna Consciousness”

  1. Madhusudan das ACBSP says :

    The saying goes, and Srila Prabhupad has stated, “Even the pauper is proud of his penny.” Meaning, not only are leaders susceptable to pride but even the so-called least among us. Take myself for example: Although I joined the movement in early 1967 I don’t have much standing, or position, in Krishna Consciousness. Still because of joining Srila Prabhupada early in the movement I am given some recognition and honor. In the past I have enjoyed it to some extent, but lately I feel the praise is basically useless for my advancement. Rather, I see that it may be helpful for the advancement and humility of those offering respect. After many years I actually feeling like giving up the “desire to be honored by others.” I only hope that if I ever attain qualities that are worthy of honor that I do not succumb to taking pleasure from the honor. Thank you Pusta Krishna Prabhu for all your thoughtful posts. Your association is always desirable.

  2. pustakrishna says :

    To continue with the thoughts on this subject, we all know the expression: “All Glories to Srila Prabhupad”. We say it, and we can be thoughtful about what it implies. As Prabhu Madhusudan das notes, we older associates of Srila Prabhupad might sometimes be given honor, but we must realize that it is only because those honoring us are interested in the wonderful gift given to them by Srila Prabhupad. Therefore, we must not only pass any honor that is given to us onward to Srila Prabhupad, but we must also try our best to inspire others in Krishna consciousness and Srila Prabhupad’s wisdom and books. If not for His Divine Grace, we would be as anonymous as anyone. If we can nourish others in this way, we can hope that we are servants of Srila Prabhupad.

    We can see that many have tried to capture the honor that is meant for Sri Gurudeva. They are like the mosquito on the lap of the king. The king is seated on his throne looking out at his many subjects. The mosquito or fly on the lap of the king is thinking…’these are all my subjects.’ So, we must not be envious of the spiritual master.

    One should not aspire to become a guru. That is to say, one should aspire to be the servant of his master. As soon as one aspires for honor for themselves, they become ‘opaque’ rather than ‘transparent’ mediums to Krishna. If one blocks the current of Krishna consciousness, it is not pleasing to Krishna nor the family of vaishnavas.

    We may have witnessed, or read about individuals who tried to take Srila Prabhupad’s honor for themselves. They have missed the entire treasure that is Krishna bhakti. Still, Dhruva Maharaj represents how one can be transformed by Krishna even when one passionately has a material desire for domination. If Krishna will be pleased, anything is possible. But, we can see the method. Dhruva Maharaj understood that he was dependent upon Lord Vishnu to satisfy his desire for a kingdom. He did not arrogantly or demonically try to simply steal the kingdom for himself. What he could not realize mentally is that Krishna is all-beautiful, all-loving, all-attractive.

    Ultimately, you must feel that you cannot diminish Krishna, like placing Him in your pocket as some sort of possession. Krishna is Who you must surrender to. And, Srila Prabhupad used to say, “it is not a small thing to be a servant of Krishna.”

    Pusta Krishna das

  3. Puskaraksa das says :

    In the article of our Pusta Krishna Prabhu, there is one line which particularly echoed in me…

    Of course, it is most important to stress the importance of cultivating genuine humility and one should imbibe the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in His Siksastakam in that regard :

    trinad api sunichena
    taror api sahishnuna
    amanina manadena
    kirtaniyah sada harih

    One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige and should be ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly

    na dhanam na janam na sundarim
    kavitam va jagad-isha kamaye
    mama janmani janmanishvare
    bhavatad bhaktir ahaituki twayi

    O almighty Lord, I have no desire to accumulate wealth, nor do I desire beautiful women, nor do I want any number of followers. I only want Your causeless devotional service birth after birth

    ayi nanda-tanuja kinkaram
    patitam mam vishame bhavambudhau
    kripaya tava pada-pankaja-
    sthita-dhuli-sadrisham vichintaya

    O son of Maharaja Nanda [Krishna], I am Your eternal servitor, yet somehow or other I have fallen into the ocean of birth and death. Please pick me up from this ocean of death and place me as one of the atoms at Your lotus feet

    Beyond, there is that one line in Pusta Krishna Prabhu’s article:

    “So, do not misconstrue that recognition by others is the same as being recognized by Krishna. It is Krishna’s attention that we are hoping for, that He might hear our sincere prayers”

    which reminded me of one statement Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja made one day, which struck me…

    I hesitated to confide it but finally decided to share it, as it might be of some help to other devotees.

    One day, as I was translating Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja’s Bhagavatam class into French, he turned towards me and told me in front of all the devotees present ” you have no friends, Pushkarksha ! ”

    I was puzzled as I thought I had many friends amongst devotees, plus some others even outside the circle of devotees, whom I had kept some good relationship with, since my early teens !

    It is only later on that I got the purport to this and was informed that Guru and Krishna were to be my only Friends…

    as Gaurachandra declares:

    tomare laite ami hainu avatara
    ami vina bandhu ara ke ache tomara

    Just to rescue you, I have descended! Who else is your friend but Me?

  4. Another way of looking at excess of behaviour over and above that ordained for us, is that these are all forms of subtle sex. Though such behaviour may involve unglamorous scheming, amassing of misspent wealth and increased sense of importance, with an eye to impress – these are first rate sex shows unintended to fit that bill.

    Such shows can be a turn-on in that they may encourage impressionable minds that this is true advancement in Krishna consciousness. If this precedent is set, then advancement in Krishna consciousness equals manipulation to achieve an ambition. This misdirected ambition appears very ‘sexy.’

    With these shows on offer, we need not be entertained any other way. Problem is, such entertainment is usually very polished, and puts on an appearance of pure devotion. Little wonder then how so few can distinguish between the actor and the charade. Yet, Krishna consciousness is so purifying, and Krishna so revealing, that time and old-age levels everything out so that the actor becomes a humble realist, hopefully to help others distinguish between subtle sex and pure devotion.

    Ys Kesava Krsna Dasa.

  5. pustakrishna says :

    Finally, I am pleased to read more comments on this important topic. First, Puskaraksa Prabhu kindly reminded us of Sriman Mahaprabhu’s absolute mentality of purity. Secondly, Kesava Krishna das commented that when our lust turns to this world, it is expressed as desire for standing (pratishtha) and sex and wealth. The ultimate desire springs from the spiritual reality that Krishna is the Transcendental Lover. Our desire for happiness is natural, but we don’t know where to go for genuine happiness (as discussed with Srila Prabhupad on a morning walk in Mauritius after his South African tour). We are not trying to become desire-less, but rather to find our joy in relationship with Krishna. We are not exploiting Krishna by this. This is our very nature. That the vrajavasis want Krishna is an expression of this. But, the mentality of rasa in the spiritual world is very subtle and difficult for us to understand, but it is a reality that our senses are the property of Krishna’s senses (hrishikesha hrishikena sevanam). We are getting joy from Krishna, and out of love that joy is being immediately returned to Krishna in relationship, and that transcendental give and take, as inconceivable as it is, is the spiritual rasa. It is an ocean of bliss, and ever expanding (anandam buddhi vardanam).
    When we stop that flow of joy and good fortune, then we suspend our progress in spiritual life. We then have rejected the guidance of Sri Gurudeva, desiring rather to be admired in some form or another. That is self-aggrandizement. It must be recognized for what it is, and we must be prepared to go forward in our spiritual search for the Lord. Even the Goswamis of Mahaprabhu are constantly seeking Krishna, hence there is never disturbance of their Krishna-centric lifestyle.
    More comments are encouraged. We will succeed with help from our Friend and friends.
    Pusta Krishna das

  6. Puskaraksa das says :

    Actually, in the line of the heading of this article, “Self-aggrandizement is Not Krishna Consciousness”, while quoting Siksastakam, I intended mostly to point out the extreme humility that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, displayed…

    For instance, rather than adverizing that He had achieved suddha Nama ruci and exhorting others in that way, He claimed in His misfortune, not to have any taste for the chanting of the Holy Name (nanuraga)…

    Then, He invites us to become more humble than a blade of grass and more tolerant than a tree and be ready to offer respects to others, without expecting anything in return…

    On whose agenda is this, when many are looking for position and recognition and are ready to cast aside, for lack of tolerance, those whose opinion differ from theirs ?

    Then, He declares not to be hankering for wealth, association of the fair sex and followers. Further, He volunteers to take birth after birth, just aspiring for the unalloyed service of the Lord.

    On whose agenda is this, when many are asserting it to be their rightful claim to go back home, back to Godhead, at the end of this lifetime…?

    As a result, He wishes only, to become a speck of dust at the Lord’s lotus feet.

    On whose agenda is this, when many are already envisioning themselves to be manjaris…?

    At last, He hankers for the time when He will be able to chant the Holy Name purely and will experience the symptoms of bhava, as an evidence of His spiritual progress.

    On whose agenda is this, when some are inducing that they are already experiencing suddha Nama…?

    From all this, we can understand that humility is the foundation of spiritual life !

    It is so important that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu displays it in various ways in five slokas out of eight, of His only written testimony…!

  7. pustakrishna says :

    Sahaja-ism means attempting to drag the spiritual conception down to the material plane because of a misunderstanding of what constitutes eternal versus what is temporary phantasmagoria. On the one hand, everything has its basis in consciousness, in spirit. Krishna describes in the Bhagavad Gita about the banyan tree that has its roots up and its branches down. That is the reflection of the real tree. That reflected or shadow existence is ‘material life’. Being conditioned souls, we are fully immersed in that shadow existence. So, when someone hears about the spiritual world, if they do not hear from proper authorities, or if they allow their lusty, self-centric conception to predominate, they will potentially drag down this beautiful and worshipable spiritual rasa down to the mundane self-centered position.
    We must be ready to say, “no, this is not it” again and again when such temptations come upon us. Because, as Lord Chaitanyadeva has shown us, the genuine spiritual experience is one of self-forgetfulness due to extreme love and ecstasy in Krishna consciousness. You will not then feel separation from Krishna, nor will you wish for your seperate false enjoying existence again. Therefore, DO NOT TRY TO IMAGINE that glorious state. It will come when and if it will come, grace of Krishna. It is called Causeless Mercy. We may never be deserving of it. But, Krishna is so merciful to His children and expansions.
    That misconception of rasa is only one form of aggrandizement. I rather appreciated comment number 4 by Keshava Krishna das where he likened the desire for self-aggrandizement to material sex or lustful desire. Indeed, there are many manifestations of self-aggrandizement. Krishna and our Srila Prabhupad warns of kama, krodha, lobha…or lust, anger, and greed as being major pitfalls to spiritual progress. The point that I am hoping to emphasize in this article is that we may use spirituality for mundane fame and fortune. Everything is correctible with inward honesty and mercy. Pusta Krishna das

  8. Puskaraksa das says :

    Mana Siksa – Teachings to the mind
    By Srila Ragunatha Dasa Gosvami

    are cetah prodyat-kapa a-kutinati-bhara-khara
    kSaran-mutre snatva dahasi katham atmanam api mam
    sada tvam gandharva-giridhara-.-prema-vilasat
    sudhambhodhau snatva svam api nitaram mam ca sukhaya

    O wicked mind! Although you adopt the path of sAdhana, you imagine yourself purified by bathing in the
    trickling urine of the great donkey of full-blown deceit and hypocrisy. By doing so, you are simultaneously burning yourself and scorching me, a tiny jiva. Stop this! Delight yourself and me by eternally bathing in the nectarine ocean of pure love for the lotus feet of Sri Radha-Krsna Yugala.

    pratisth.asa dhrtsa svapaca-ramani me hrdi natet
    katham sadhuh-prema sprsati sucir etan nanu manah
    sadA tvam sevasva prabhu-dayita-samantam atulam
    yatha tam niskasya tvaritam iha tam vesayati sah

    (Why is it that deceit still lingers in the heart in spite of one,s having given up all material sense enjoyment? This verse has been composed in order to answer this question.)

    O mind! How can pure divine love appear in my heart as long as the shameless dog-eating outcaste woman of the desire for prestige is audaciously dancing there?
    Therefore, always remember and serve the immeasurably powerful commanders of the army of Sri Krsna,
    the beloved devotees of the Lord. They will at once banish this outcaste woman and initiate the flow of immaculate vraja-prema in your heart.

    Slokas 6 and 7

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