Lecture: Bhagavad-gita 7.27
Heidelberg, 28 March 2006
om namo bhagavate vasudevaya . . .
This evening we are taking another dip into that transcendental ocean of nectar known as Srimad Bhagavad-gita. (Yes, it is nectar.)
Chapter Number Seven, “Knowledge of the Absolute,” Text Number Twenty-Seven:
iccha – desire; dvesa – and hate; samutthena – arisen from; dvandva – of duality; mohena – by the illusion; bharata – O scion of Bharata; sarva –all; bhutani – living entities; sammoham – into delusion; sarge – while taking birth; yanti – go; parantapa – O conqueror of enemies.
Translation and purport by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Tridandi Goswami Maharaja Prabhupada, the savior of the entire universe:
O scion of Bharata, O conqueror of the foe, all living entities are born into delusion, bewildered by dualities arisen from desire and hate.
The real constitutional position of the living entity is that of subordination to the Supreme Lord, who is pure knowledge. When one is deluded into separation from this pure knowledge, he becomes controlled by the illusory energy and cannot understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The illusory energy is manifested in the duality of desire and hate. Due to desire and hate, the ignorant person wants to become one with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Pure devotees, who are not deluded or contaminated by desire and hate, can understand that Lord Sri Krishna appears by His internal potencies, but those who are deluded by duality and nescience think that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is created by material energies. This is their misfortune. Such deluded persons, symptomatically, dwell in dualities of dishonor and honor, misery and happiness, woman and man, good and bad, pleasure and pain, etc., thinking, “This is my wife; this is my house; I am the master of this house; I am the husband of this wife.” These are the dualities of delusion. Those who are so deluded by dualities are completely foolish and therefore cannot understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The mentality described here by Krishna is not a very nice place to be. Krishna shows us both sides. He shows us on one hand one it’s like to be liberated and Krishna conscious, which is very wonderful to hear about. He also tells us of the other side - what it’s like to be in Maya. Ooh, it’s horrible - it’s horrible, the state described here! To be tossed on the waves of duality is just like a nightmare. It is a nightmare. Honor and dishonor; wealth and poverty – to be tossed on the waves is just hellish. It’s absolutely hellish. Sometimes you’re praised, sometimes you’re criticized. You become elated when you’re praised and you become absolutely devastated when you’re criticized. You become happy when you have some money and you become devastated when you become impoverished. This is the realm of duality in the material world.
Therefore Krishna advises that we have to be transcendental to these dualities.
“The nonpermanent appearance of happiness and distress and their disappearance in due course are like the appearance and disappearance of the winter and summer seasons. One must learn to tolerate them, O scion of Bharata, without being distressed.” It comes just like the seasons - just like another hellish winter here in Germany is passing, but now the spring is coming. The flowers are coming out on the trees and everyone is looking forward to the season - “Oh, spring has come!” But then there will be another hellish winter after this. Bouncing back and forth – dualities, you see. Sometimes people will say, “Oh, you’re so wonderful;” sometimes they will say, “You’re such a snake. Why are you so proud and puffed up and arrogant?”
So the point is that the waves go up and down, basically. Whatever you call it – honor and dishonor, happiness and distress, wealth and poverty – it’s just waves, the ups and downs of the material nature, that’s all. When the wave goes up, we get all elated and giddy and excited, intoxicated by the pleasure of the moment. But then guess what you’re setting yourself up for? It’s guaranteed. Sometimes you’ll be riding high on the waves of the material nature, sometimes you’ll be in the middle, and sometimes you’ll be way down low. So if you allow yourself to become elated when it’s going on the ‘up,’ I guarantee you when it goes down you’re going to be mortified. You’re going to be absolutely devastated.
So the key is just to be transcendental. That’s the key. Realize that this whole thing out here is just a movie going on, basically. Material nature is just a big cinema –the Mahat-tattva Cinema House. It’s a cinema going on! It’s not really me. I’m not the body, and I’ve nothing to do with anything related to the body, actually. I really don’t. It’s not really me. I’m not German, I’m not male, I’m not female – I really have nothing to do with this whole scene. But because I had desired to be an independent enjoyer, Krishna said, “Okay, here’s a little illusion – go off now, little child, and dream that you have the moon in your hand.”
You know the story of the mother and the moon. Does everyone know that simile – the mother and the moon? One night a child looked out the window at the moon and said, “Oh, it’s so beautiful – Mommy, Mommy, give me, give me!” Can the mother give the child the moon? No. But the child is so insistent – “I want, I want! Give me, give me, give me!” So the mother says, “All right, my dear child,” and she hands her a mirror. “Now you have the moon. It is yours.” Ah, and the child is so happy. Now she is holding the moon in her hand, seeing its reflection in the mirror. “Yes; now I have the moon. It is mine.”
Similarly, we desired to be the proprietor. We desired to be the independent enjoyer so strongly that Krishna said, “All right. I’ll give you this wonderful place called Germany where you can think, ‘Yes; I am the enjoyer, I am the proprietor.’” But what happens when the moon moves in the sky and it’s not in the mirror anymore? You see? Every now and then, by the motion of the moon, it will be in your mirror again, and you’ll think, “Yes; I am God.” But then the moon is always moving. So it won’t always be in your mirror, and after a while you’ll be totally devastated. The little child is crying, “Waah!” It’s crying, “I lost the moon! I lost the moon – I want to commit suicide! Waah, I lost the moon!” But like the child with the mirror, we never really had the moon to begin with. We never really had the moon to begin with. We just had the illusion of having the moon. So if we realize that our idea of being the controller, the enjoyer and the proprietor is a false concept to begin with, the we can totally detach ourselves from whatever is going on in this world. We can say to Krishna, “Okay, Krishna. Do with me whatever you want. It’s all right.”
There’s one nice story in this connection. Have you ever heard that story, “Whatever Krishna Does Is All Right”? You’ve heard that story . . . ? There was once a king and he had a prime minister. This was in ancient days in India; he had a prime minister, and the prime minister was Krishna conscious. Whatever would happen, this prime minister would just say, “Whatever Krishna does is all right.” (He was actually a very good prime minister.) “Whatever Krishna does is all right.”
One day, the king had a little accident, and chopped off one of his fingers. So the prime minister said, “Don’t worry, Your Majesty; whatever Krishna does is all right.” To that, the king said, “What do you mean?! In the dungeon, you rascal! I lost my finger and you say it’s all right?? In the dungeon! I don’t want to see your face again, you rascal!” The king was so angry.
Now, the Vedic ksatriya, if the enemy attacked, would lead the army. They wouldn’t sit in the White House in Washington and send the boys to Iraq to get blown away by al-Qaida or whatever - they would be there on the front line themselves, putting their bodies on the line to protect their own citizens. That was the Vedic king. So to practice the killing art they would go to the forest, where the wild animals – the tigers and such – would sometimes harass the sages who were meditating, and they would defeat and kill the tigers. They would practice the killing art and in that way also relieve the sages from disturbance in their meditation.
So the king went on a hunting trip into the forest one day, and ran into a band of dacoits (bandits) who captured him. These were devotees of Goddess Kali, and they would capture people and offer them as a human sacrifice to Goddess Kali. So they said, “Well, we’ve got a nice, handsome-looking man here; we’ll sacrifice him to Goddess Kali.” They were getting the king all set for the sacrifice, and then at the last minute they noticed, “Oh my god, he’s missing a finger. Goddess Kali will be offended if we offer an imperfect body. We can’t offer him. Let him go . . .”
The king was so relieved. “Yes,” he thought, “the prime minister was right. I lost my finger, but it saved my life! Whatever Krishna does is all right.” So he rushed right back to the palace and went downstairs to the dungeon. He wanted to personally release his prime minister – to personally open the door of the cell and let him out, to embrace him and beg apologies and all that kind of stuff. So he went to the dungeon and there was the prime minister, just effulgent – “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna” – completely transcendental to his imprisonment in the dungeon. The king said to him, “You’re not angry with me? Why?” The prime minister replied, “Your Majesty, whatever Krishna does is all right.” He said, “I also go on those hunting trips with you and I have all my fingers. Whatever Krishna does is all right.”
So whatever arrangement Krishna makes for us, the fact is that, on the ultimate level, we are receiving the unlimited mercy of Krishna at every second of our eternal existence. Actually, every single thing that happens to us is the unlimited mercy of Krishna. You may not think so. But the fact is that everything that happens to you at every second is the unlimited mercy of Krishna. That’s a fact. Whether it’s being blessed by the mercy of a pure devotee, or it’s being whipped by the material nature – it’s all for the same purpose of our being elevated out of this quagmire of material existence to return back to our original identity in the spiritual world. It’s all for the same purpose. Everything that’s happening is happening simply to get us out.
Your father is Krishna. You are His beloved son. He loves you more than you can even begin to comprehend, and it is giving Him great pain and anxiety that you’re suffering in the cycle of birth and death. He’s not going to force you to come back; then you would just be a prisoner in His kingdom. He wants you to come back to His kingdom out of your own desire. So He’s trying to do everything within His power to convince you that you should get out of this place and come back to His abode. Every conceivable thing He can do to that end - to try to convince you, He’s doing it.
Now it’s up to us to be convinced. Krishna’s been trying since time immemorial to convince us to come back to our original position in the spiritual world, through millions and billions of different ways. At the same time, He’s allowed us to exercise our desire to enjoy, by letting us try to enjoy in so many millions and billions of ways – as a germ, as a worm, as an alligator, as a crocodile, as a baboon – so many ways. As a politician, as a businessman, as a beauty queen, as a demigod; as some ugly, deformed person. We’ve tried everything. Krishna has let us try everything. We’ve been through 8,400,000 different species and now we are in the human form, which is the ideal form for getting out of the cycle.
In Svargaloka, in the heavenly planets, the enjoyment is so intoxicating that even though they know that they are to be devoted to the Lord, they are so intoxicated by material pleasure that it’s practically impossible for them to give it up and take to Krishna consciousness, even though they’re great devotees - even though the demigods came and watched the rasa-lila in their airplanes. UFO’s are nothing new. There was a whole skyful of UFO’s during the rasa-lila, hovering over the rasa-lila arena and watching. The demigods were there in their spaceships, their UFO’s, watching the rasa-lila. So they know that Krishna consciousness is where it’s at. Yet they’re so intoxicated by sense gratification that it’s very difficult for them to put it into tangible reality and practice. It’s very, very difficult for the demigods to seriously take up Krishna bhakti on the level of pure devotional service – it’s a very difficult thing for them. That’s why they actually hanker to take birth on this planet.
So this planet offers a very good facility – and especially in this age, the Kali-yuga, when times are so difficult. Those persons who are highly elevated in transcendental knowledge - do you know what they do about this Kali-yuga? Do you know what they do? They worship it. Yes. They worship this Kali-yuga as the best of all ages because in this age, in the very short lifespan of less than one hundred years, simply by taking advantage of the yuga-dharma – what is that? - Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare – by taking advantage of the yuga-dharma in this short lifespan, you can achieve complete perfection. You can regain your svarupa, your original spiritual form in the spiritual sky. Something which yogis can’t accomplish for thousands of years, you can do in a very short lifespan.
My godbrother, Jayagopala Prabhu (he had only been in the movement a short time - this was in 1971; he joined in LA, so maybe in ’68, say) - he had been in the movement 3 years, and he was killed in an automobile accident. Three years in the movement. And Prabhupada told his wife, “He is waiting for you in Vaikuntha.” So you can imagine - three years of practice and he went back to Godhead! Three years of practice and Jayagopala Prabhu went back to Godhead. What the yogis take tens of thousands of years to accomplish, Jayagopala accomplished in three years. So therefore, if we do not seriously take up this process of Krishna consciousness, what is the Sanskrit word for us? Mudha. Foolish, like asses. If we don’t seriously take it up we’re simply a bunch of asses - little old donkeys, you know? In India you see them, carrying all the heavy loads on their backs. In Vrindavana sometimes we see a caravan of donkeys loaded down with bricks, their backs sagging under a heavy load of bricks, and they’re going clonk-clonk-clonk-clonk . . . We’re just like little foolish donkeys, carrying a huge burden of bricks on our backs for no purpose - just to get a little grass, and the grass is growing on the side of the road. Why do we have to struggle so hard? All we have to do is put in a little bit of honest labor, and we can get our lives together. And then chant Hare Krishna – Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
So let us become very serious not to be under the influence of delusion. Let us be under the influence of the Bhagavatam and the Bhagavad-gita. Let us be under the influence of the acaryas, the great spiritual masters of the Vedic culture. Let us be under their influence. Mahajano yena gatah sa panthah: one should follow that pathway which has been blazed through the wilderness by the great saintly teachers, the mahajanas [Cc Madhya 17:186]. That’s what we should do. We should look for that pathway which has been blazed through the wilderness of Kali by the great acaryas. And that way is being illuminated by His Divine Grace Om Visnupada Paramahamsa Parivrajakacarya 108 A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He is the greatest acarya in the history of the world, and he has given us these wonderful books. If we will mold our lives around these books, then we will be living in Vaikuntha, the spiritual sky, at every minute. We may appear to be in Germany, but we will be living in Vaikuntha.
So kindly take this Krishna consciousness very, very seriously. Do not loiter in the lap of Mayadevi any longer. Get free from that attachment for sense gratification by becoming attached to the name, fame, form, pastimes, entourage, paraphernalia and associates of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan Krishna. That is our humble request. So you do that. Give up your suffering. Enjoy as you’re meant to enjoy – as Krishna’s servant, for now and forever. . . And Krishna’s sun has just now manifested to confirm my statement [referring to sunshine just then entering the room].
So, are there any questions? Or does everyone already know the answers? No one is experiencing any obstacles on the pathway back to home? Everything’s just clear sailing, now and forever - no obstacles, no confusion, no delusion; just clear sailing?
This is a kind of an obstacle. When my life is regular, when the day and everyday life are regular, everything’s all right. But if something comes in between things and the regularity is not so nice anymore, I am completely helpless. I think I must find some regularity or something from which I can get some strength from inside.
Hmm. When things go bad, how do you maintain your equilibrium and not lose it - is that what you’re asking?
Not only if things are bad, but if things are different.
Different – oh - your normal pattern of service – when you’re in that, then everything’s fine; but if all of the sudden you have to serve in a whole different situation, then you’re like, “What’s going on here?”
Well, the real fact is, you simply have to go a little deeper into your heart. That means you’re still on the superficial platform of your material surrounding. That means you just have to learn how to go deeper within. There’s a verse in the Bhagavad-gita that describes how a devotee doesn’t depend on any external situation. A devotee can be in any situation, at any time, in any place and in any circumstance, and just by sitting there, he can derive unlimited happiness within his heart.
You have to learn how to be more introspective, while at the same time doing your external activities very expertly and enthusiastically. You should simultaneously be cultivating a deep inner realization, and that comes by quality japa, quality study and quality dealings with the Vaisnavas. That comes also by having a very deep relationship with the spiritual master. These things will root you on a very deep level that has nothing to do with the externals. Have a very good relationship with the spiritual master; learn how to deal with Vaisnavas in a very wonderful, sweet way; purely chant the Holy Names – root yourself in those things that are constant. Guru is constant; Vaisnavas are constant; prasadam, scripture and the Holy Names are constant. These things will apply no matter where you may be. What if you’re sent to open a preaching center in Siberia? You see? What are the constant factors?
So learn how to connect with those – not just with this building or a particular service. Learn how to connect on a deeper level. That’s why sometimes it’s good to get an opportunity to go to a festival somewhere, to be Krishna conscious in a different surrounding. That’s what I like about traveling and preaching like I’m doing now. It’s nice to go into a whole different situation and be Krishna conscious in that situation. It’s great.
So get down to what the real basics of Krishna consciousness are, and have a strong relationship with the spiritual master and with the devotees. Be able to meet any devotee - not just the ones you already know, but even be able to relate with devotees that you’ve never met before in a wonderful, transcendental way. In this way, take the basic, essential items of bhakti and connect on that level, which has nothing to do with being in Heidelberg or being in Germany or even being on this planet Earth. What is Krishna wants you to go to another planet and open a center there in the future – an interplanetary sankirtan? What will you do? Say, “No, I can only be a devotee on the Earth planet”? You have to be very, very transcendental . . .
Actually, you can cultivate this attitude very nicely just be reporting in to Krishna, saying, “My dear Lord Krishna, I am Your eternal servant; You can do whatever You want with me. It doesn’t matter where You send me or what You ask me to do; just let me always be Your servant, in all situations.” If you pray like that, you’ll cultivate the proper attitude. You see? “My dear Guru Maharaja, you can do whatever you want with me. I’m just your servant. You can keep me here or you can send me there – I’ll do whatever you tell me to do, Guru Maharaja.” In that way you can just pray to your spiritual master. “Just take me – I’m yours.”
Prabhupada set the perfect example. Have you read his arrival prayer? He said, “O Lord Krishna, I’m just a puppet in Your hands. You can make me dance, make me dance, make me dance as You like.” That is perfection. “Krishna, I’m just a puppet. Now you pull the strings and I will dance.” Always keep that mood. And to the spiritual master also, we pray the same way, because he is the external manifestation of Krishna. We’re not so pure to hear the direct order of Krishna, but Krishna speaks with us through our spiritual master. You say, “Guru Maharaja, you’re the puppet master and I’m the puppet. Just pull my strings and I’ll dance however you want me to.” That mood will give you what you’re looking for: how to taste the nectar in any situation, no matter what it may be. Okay?
Thank you very much.
Any other questions?
How can we get a strong relationship to the spiritual master when we are not . . . with the spiritual master?
A very easy way to develop a strong relationship with our guru? Prabhupada has given us information on how to do that. Prabhupada explains that he was reading a commentary by Baladeva Vidyabushana; in this commentary of Baladeva Vidyabushana, Prabhupada read this concept that one should take the order of one’s spiritual master to be one’s very life and soul. So if we can, whatever order we receive from Guru Maharaja, from our spiritual master, we should say, “This order is my life and soul” – just like Prabhupada was given the order to spread Krishna consciousness in English and he dedicated his entire existence to fulfilling that order. In fact, Prabhupada thought he would die here, perhaps. I think I mentioned last night – or maybe it was in Simhacala – that Prabhupada told us in Atlanta that he did not think that he would be successful in establishing this movement. He told us that in Atlanta. But Prabhupada said, “Let me try.” Why? Because of Guru Maharaja’s order.
So someone may think, “I can’t distribute books! I can’t distribute books – I have no ability. I won’t be successful. If I go out and try do distribute books, I won’t be successful doing that, so better not to go.” If Prabhupada had thought like that, we wouldn’t be saved. Prabhupada thought, “I’m not going to be successful, but still I have to go. Even if it means I just die there – that’s all right. I try to serve my spiritual master’s order.” The spiritual master asked me to go out and distribute books – well, I may die out there, without even distributing a book – you see? – but that’s all right. The disciple thinks, “Whatever order I have received from Guru Maharaja, that is my life and soul. I have to embrace that order tightly and just try. Success or failure doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I sincerely try to serve my spiritual master’s order – that’s all that matters.” You see? That’s all that matters. Make that sincere endeavor.
And one should do it with enthusiasm, not begrudgingly - “Ohh, Guru Maharaja told me to do this, uuuhhhg . . .” One should be enthusiastic. Prabhupada actually told me this. I got a personal instruction from the lotus mouth of His Divine Grace through a letter. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but when I got initiated I sent my guru daksina through the mail, because Prabhupada was in Europe at the time and I was in America. So the initiation letter came and the beads came by separate post – I was a mail-order disciple. But the advantage was that I got to write a personal letter to Prabhupada by sending my guru daksina in – saying, “Yogi, I collected some money.” I sent it off to Bhaktivedanta Manor, or Soho maybe . . . I forget . . .
I had been very inspired by Visnujana Maharaja because he had made me a devotee there in Austin and he was really into spreading the Krishna consciousness movement – he was a really fired-up sannyasi. I don’t have a copy of the letter I sent, but I must have told Prabhupada that I would like to spread this movement. Visnujana was really into that mood, and I was inspired by it, so I must have picked up that mood from him. So, the letter I got back from Prabhupada was just amazing. He said, “I can see that you are a very sincere and enthusiastic boy. Now just continue enthusiastically as you are doing, and surely Krishna will bless you.”
So through all the ups and downs of so many situations and circumstances, I always remember what Prabhupada told me – to be enthusiastic - and I would get the blessings of Krishna. When Prabhupada guarantees that one will receive the blessings of Krishna, those words come true. Prabhupada’s words do not ever go in vain. They never go in vain. So when he told me that, I knew that this was a very powerful personal instruction that I received from His Divine Grace. If I simply always remain enthusiastic, no matter what’s happening – even if it’s utter failure and utter devastation – it doesn’t matter. I just have to be transcendental and say, “I don’t care what happens - I’m always going to be enthusiastic about being Krishna conscious; I’m always going to be enthusiastic about ISKCON; I’m always going to be enthusiastic about spreading this Krishna consciousness movement. So I’ve just made that determination. Why? Because I wanted Krishna’s mercy. That’s why.
So, we should take the spiritual master’s order and embrace it with great enthusiasm – not begrudgingly – “Oh, Guru Maharaja’s order uuhhg . . .” - but rather, “Yes – I will do this! I will try to make it successful.” Just see how enthusiastic Prabhupada was with his preaching at 26 Second Avenue, or even before that in uptown Manhattan, when he had that small office space. You can hear those original lectures he gave; he recorded them on a reel-to-reel tape recorder - they’re available on the MP3 set. You can hear those original lectures, when he was just struggling with some old widows who were coming from Dr. Mishra’s yoga class. These weren’t his disciples; these were just some curious old widows from Dr Mishra’s yoga class, coming to hear the Swami. But Prabhupada had so much enthusiasm. And then one night nobody showed up for the evening lecture – just Prabhupada all alone, and nobody even came. So what did he do? He turned on the reel-to-reel tape recorder. And you know where that lecture is recorded – the lecture that he gave that night when nobody came? Does anybody know? It’s called “Introduction to the Bhagavad-gita.” That’s the lecture that Prabhupada gave one night when no one showed up for class, when he was all alone in his room there in New York, with a reel-to-reel machine capturing every word.
That’s called enthusiasm. That’s called determination. And if we embrace our spiritual master’s order in that mood, then we become very, very dear to our Guru Maharaja, and by the blessings of the spiritual master, that’s how we advance in Krishna consciousness. You have to please your guru. That’s the system. When I please my guru, then his guru is pleased, and his guru is pleased – it’s just like when you work in a company. Let’s say you get a job at Ford Motor Company, and you think, “Okay, here I am; I want to please Mr. Ford.” So every day when you finish your job, you say, “Okay, I’m going to go tell Mr. Ford what I did today.” The trouble is, there are ten layers of secretaries you have to get through even to get in, and they won’t let you in. “How can I please him? They won’t let me in.”
Well, there’s a whole system of how you please Mr. Ford. You have your supervisor, and he has his supervisor. First you please your direct supervisor. And then he gives a very nice report - “Oh, so-and-so is a very good worker” – and the word goes up the chain of command. In that way, you become pleasing to Mr. Ford. It’s not that you have to get into his office directly to meet with him. That is how the guru parampara system works: I have my spiritual master, and he has his guru, and he has his guru, and his guru, and his guru – this is the transcendental parampara system. So actually, if you simply please your spiritual master, then all the spiritual masters bestow their mercy upon you. That is our system. Dasa dasa dasanudasa. The more you become the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant, that’s how you become pleasing to Krishna and the previous acaryas. So if you want to please your spiritual master, you must also please those who are his representatives. Not just him only – “Well, I’ll only please my guru, but everybody else can just go jump in the Yamuna.” No. Please all the Vaisnavas. We have to learn to please not only our spiritual master. The real meaning of pleasing our spiritual master is to become pleasing to all the Vaisnavas by our activities.
So, are there any other questions?
What should I do when I have certain service, like cutting the vegetables, or –
Do it with love.
I know how I’m supposed to do it, but when I’m there then my mind is telling me, “Oh, it’s so terrible,” and I get all mental -
All right. Then you tell your mind, “My dear mind, do me a favor: shut up. Just shut up!” You have to become expert at telling your mind to shut up. “Just knock it off, mind. Go take a bath in the” – what’s that river down there? – “take a cold bath in the river down there.” You’ve got to become expert. It’s just like you’re the mother and your mind is the child. If your child is running and screaming – of course, you’ve never been a mother in this lifetime – but mothers have to become very expert, right? Mothers have to become very expert at keeping their children under control; otherwise the mother would go crazy. Anyway, you need to become very expert at keeping your mind under control. Very expert. Otherwise, you’re just going to go nuts. You’ve got to keep your mind under control. When it gets in the way of your service, you’ve got to just tell it to shut up. “Shut up, you rascal mind!”
That’s one approach. The other approach is to charm it. You can take the tough approach or the soft approach. Both are good. The soft approach is given by Govinda dasa:
bhajahu re mana
“My dear mind, please simply engage yourself in the devotional service of the divine son of Nanda Maharaja.” You see? “My dear mind, you simply come here now. You see these vegetables? These are for Krishna. My dear mind, simply focus now on how you can cut these vegetables very nicely for Krishna.” Become a master at the art of cutting potatoes.
No, I’m serious. There’s a nice story – actually an old Back to Godhead article. We normally think that the person who’s actually cooking holds the most expert position in the kitchen – the one at the stove. But there’s an old Bengali mataji who cooks for Radha-Madhava (she’s still there) and there’s an article, an old BTG article about her – you may have read it. She was in charge of the kitchen, and guess what service she took? Cutting the vegetables. Actually, that is the most expert position in the kitchen, because how the dish come out depends on how the vegetables are cut. You can ask my wife; she’s very expert at these things, also. When we cut vegetables under her direction, we really have to cut them right. There’s a certain art of ‘not too thick and not too thin,’ so that each piece of the vegetable will come out with the proper texture – not too hard, not too soft. They all have to be cut in a uniform fashion. So this is actually a great science.
The fruit of your work is going directly into the mouth of God. So you’re having a chance to directly serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead and you’re finding that you have a begrudging attitude about your service? That’s not very good. You need to get trained up. You need to get some training. And make sure you don’t put your hand in your mouth, also, when you’re cutting vegetables. You have a very bad habit of doing that. I need to get a stick. I’ve been telling you with a smile; now I’ve got to start telling you with a stick. Stop putting your hand in your mouth.
[Mataji] She should associate with Kirtan. She can learn from him.
Yes – I have a disciple, Abhay Caran Prabhu, in Austin . . . Mataji is like the grandmother, because she’s training him how to train his child – and they just come out so well. This little boy is three years old and he comes to the kitchen when his father is cutting vegetables. He gets a little stool so he can get up at the counter and we give him a very dull knife so he won’t cut his finger. He’s learning how to cut everything. He’s three years old. And he demands to be able to do the service. He doesn’t run around and play with toys; he wants to come in and cut vegetables for Krishna at the age of three. So maybe you should get trained up by Kirtan. We’ll bring you to Austin and have Kirtan train you up by his example of how to be in the bhakti mood when you’re cutting vegetables.
Any other questions?
[Mataji] Another way she can control her mind is the way we see many devotees who have an MP3 player or CD/cassette player, hearing –
Yes – have some bhajans. Or you can chant some slokas – chant the second chapter of Bhagavad-gita. Take your favorite chapter and memorize it, and whenever you’re cutting vegetables just recite the whole chapter, again and again. Practice your slokas, you know?
“This knowledge is the king of education, the most secret of all secrets. It is the purest knowledge, and because it gives direct perception of the self by realization.” This way, if you have an intellectual nature and you feel like, “Wow, I’d like to expand my intellectual nature,” then you memorize some verses and recite them while you’re doing your service. In that way you’re studying, you’re being a learned brahmana, and being a vegetable cutter, all at the same time . . .
I’m very much inclined toward preaching activity, and I had a wonderful service in Atlanta where I was doing all the lectures. I mean to say, when college professors would invite a devotee to come, they would send me, or when students came to the temple – I was the one who did all the academic preaching, in the temple and out of the temple. Somehow I got that service – I don’t know how it happened, but I loved it. And then they sent me to Houston. I didn’t really know what was going to happen when I got there, and when I got there a devotee invited me into the kitchen. He said, “Here are you spoons; here are your spices; here are your pots. Hare Krishna – I’m going to Miami.” I became the head cook.
I had a really intellectual nature – studying philosophy, preaching philosophy – and all of the sudden, now I found out that every devotee in the temple was going out on sankirtan, and I would be the only one at the temple all day long. Cut, cook, cut, cook; making the Deities’ sweets; offering the aratis; answering the phone, answering the door; transferring the plates, washing the plates – I had to do everything. I ran the whole temple service. The cooking and the puja, answering the phone and taking care of the guests – it was all on my shoulders. I was amazed one day that I was able to get enough free time to go mail a letter two blocks away from the temple. It was unbelievable. I was somehow able to squeeze in getting out the temple door for five minutes. I mean, I was like a slave in that temple - just stirring, cutting, cleaning and offering puja.
But my one saving grace was that I had one cassette (only) of a lecture of Prabhupada. Just one cassette with two lectures: Side A and Side B. On one side was the temple opening address in Hyderabad. So for a whole year, all I did was listen to that tape over and over and over and over – the same lecture. And I tell you, I never got tired of that lecture. Every time I heard it I got more nectar and more nectar – out of the same, exact lecture – for a whole year! Hundreds and hundreds of times, I listened to that same lecture, and it just became sweeter and sweeter and sweeter the more I heard it. Why? Because I was absorbed in service. So you have a very good opportunity. You can prepare lectures while you’re doing that service. Krishna has arranged that for you for a reason; now take full advantage of it!
You see, you’re on the mental platform. Prabhupada wrote a letter one time to a devotee who was on the mental platform. The devotee was thinking, “Well, Prabhupada, I think I’d be better off in this service.” You think like that – that’s your mental state: “I think I’d be better off doing this.” That’s called the mental platform. Prabhupada said, “The mental platform is the platform of ‘accept/reject’.” He said, “You have to come to the intellectual platform of understanding.” So get off the mental platform. Simply think, “Krishna has arranged” – see everything through the eyes of the scripture. “Krishna has arranged this service for me to cut the potatoes. Now let me do it in an expert way.”
Here’s an insider’s secret on how to advance quickly in bhakti-yoga. Whatever service you’re doing – it may be something you love to do, it may be something you hate to do – try to become very good at it; try to relish it. With every service that you may do, the quality with which you do it will manifest into your other devotional activities.
There’s a connection between every type of service one may do. Those things that you like to do, do with love and devotion, sincere love and devotion. You may like – I don’t know – what’s your favorite activity? Taking prasadam? All right. So when you’re taking prasadam, say the prayer with great love and devotion. Sarira avidya-jal jodendriya tahe kal. Go very deep into a mood of bhakti when you say the prasadam prayer – not just “Let me get this over with so I can take prasadam.” Say it with bhakti. Sarira avidya-jal jodendriya tahe kal jive phele visaya-sagore – with deep intensity. Try to go with a bhakti mood and really take it that this is the mercy of Krishna. Try to perfect the art of taking prasadam. Turn it into a science and an art, the way you honor prasadam.
And then for the things you don’t like to do, because you are seriously cultivating the bhakti mood when doing the things you like to do, that spirit will carry into those things as well, and you’ll do them better. And when you’re doing those things you don’t like to do, also strive to the best of your ability to do it in the mood of bhakti. “Krishna has arranged this service for me.” You pray, “My dear Lord Krishna, please bless me that I may cut these vegetables for You in a mood of love and devotion.” Pray that way, sincerely, every time you have to cut potatoes. Pray like that. And then, because you’re praying that way, when you take prasadam you will be able to take prasadam with even more bhakti spirit. And because you have more bhakti spirit when you’re taking prasadam – taking those potatoes that you cut – you see?
All the bhakti activities enhance each other. Take any bhakti activity that you’re doing – coming to Mangal Arati, putting on your tilak – take every bhakti activity you’re doing and try to make it more devotional. And then automatically all your other devotional activities will start to come to a higher level of consciousness. In this way the science of bhakti is very, very precise, just like a watch that is perfectly accurate. The science of bhakti is precise - it’s not a hit-or-miss thing with the science of bhakti. When you put the energy into bhakti the result will be there, guaranteed by Krishna. Ye yatha mam prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajamy aham [Bg 4.11] – the result will be there.
So go ahead and cultivate that bhakti in whatever you are doing. Whatever your authority asks, do it with bhakti. Even if you don’t feel it, say “Krishna, please bless me that I can do this activity in the mood of devotion.” And then you’ll be just amazed at how one day, you’ll just feel like you’re in the spiritual world. You’ll feel like you’re in Goloka Vrindavana cutting vegetables for Krishna, assisting Mother Yasoda with cooking for Him. That day will come in the future, when there will just be a mystical transformation – you’ll feel like you’re cutting vegetables for Mother Yasoda. That day will come.
So that means we can stop here. We thank you all very much for your nice attention. Srila Prabhupada ki jaya – raja-vidya Srimad Bhagavad-gita ki jaya.
Transcribed by Her Grace Labangalatika devi dasi