Program at the Home of Venkatesh
Birmingham, Alabama, February 5th, 2005
How to Achieve Spiritual Happiness
This form affords us the opportunity to escape the cycle of birth and death. We have been transmigrating through millions and billions of lifetimes for countless eons. We have been going through the wheel of samsara again and again. Up and down, around and around the merry go round of material existence Or, sometimes the not so merry go round of material existence Now we have the opportunity by taking advantage of the wonderful teachings of the Vedic culture of India, the great sages of India, (baby shrieking) then we wont have to go through the trauma of being a little kid also. (Shrieking continues. Laughter.) This will be our last time of being a little kid and having to be toilet trained once again. The traumas of being toilet trained are enough to drive anybody crazy. It will be our last time.
How do we do that? This is what the great sages of India are teaching us. India, in spite of its backwards position materially in today's modern world, is actually the richest wealthiest culture in the world. Even materially speaking I studied Western history in school growing up in America. We studied about one explorer. He was a trader named Marco Polo. He would travel from Europe to India, and back over land. I read his writings. He said, this is the wealthiest place in the whole world. Even just a few centuries ago, India was the wealthiest most, opulent place in the entire planet earth.
India has lost that position of prominence because the foreigners came and exploited India. They took the material wealth of India, but they didn't realize that they ignored the actual wealth of India, which is the Vedic knowledge. They were able to steal away the material wealth of India, but the greatest wealth of India, the Vedic knowledge, that they could not steal away. (Baby crying more, aside) You can see how they suffer. They go up and down. Sometimes they're the king of heaven, sometimes they're down in hell. That wealth they did not touch.
I was most fortunate to come in contact with that wealth of India. My guru maharaja, His Divine Grace, Srila Prabhupada blessed me with this knowledge. So, we're now spreading this great heritage of Vedic culture all over the world. Some of my students invited me to come here to Birmingham. We're traveling in many different parts of the world. My students here in Birmingham have requested that I come here, so I have come tonight to share with you this great treasure house which is the true opulence, the true wealth of India. I visit India regularly and I can see that in India, there's not so much interest in this. In India, everyone wants western technology. That's alright.
Western technology is not bad. I'm using it also. This is a 40 Giga Byte MP3 recorder. 40 Giga Bytes. I record my lectures using Korean technology. For Krishna, we can use everything. But the point is, we should not neglect that which is most valuable. The most valuable knowledge that exists anywhere in the universe is contained within the Vedas. That is the most valuable knowledge. If we can take the technological advancement of the West, and combine it with the Vedic knowledge of India, then we have a first class combination. This is called the logic of the lame man and the blind man.
One man is totally blind, but he has stout strong legs. Another man is crippled. He can't walk, but he can see things very clearly. So the lame man and the blind man work together. How do they do that? Its very simple, the crippled man with good vision gets on the shoulders of the blind man with good legs. In this way by combined effort, they can accomplish very wonderful things. What is the similie here? What is the point I'm getting to? You're Indian culture is right now, materially crippled, technologically backward, but the vision of the sages of India is the greatest spiritual knowledge that exists anywhere in the universe. That's a fact. And of course in the West we have stout strong legs, the guns, the money, freeways, cars, fancy houses in suburbia. In India, these houses like this are not common, up and down the street. Generally we find a family squeezed in a little one room unit somewhere in a big high apartment building. I travel in Mumbai, and see how even middle class people are living. Here, middle class persons can live in a palace. (baby continues wailing) They suffer so much.
If we take the
wealth of India, which is in the Vedic wisdom, the spiritual vision of
India, and we combine it with the opulent technology of the West, then
we can make the whole world peaceful and prosperous.
This called the Krishna consciousness movement.
We are dedicated to this purpose of making every man woman and
child on the face of this planet happy.
Everybody is well fed, well clothed, well housed, and well
situated spiritually. This
is our mission. How will we
bharata-bhumite haila manusya-janma
janma sarthaka kari' kara para-upakara
janma sarthaka kari' kara para-upakara
Those who've taken their birth in the holy land of India, they should make themselves spiritually perfect. Then they should do the para upakara, the highest welfare work for all living beings. Its a fact that the Indian people on this planet have a special gift that nobody else has, and a special responsibility also. If you're gifted in some way, you have an obligation to use that gift in the service of others. If someone is and expert doctor, don't they have a responsibility to help nurse the sick? If someone has a gift of God in a certain field, and they don't use it to help others, they're considered a miser. So, those of us who have taken birth in India, we're gifted with the greatest cultural heritage in the whole world, and the whole world can actually be benefited Therefore, don't be shy about your Indian culture just because you're here in America. You keep your Indian culture strong, and share the wealth. This is not some sectarian thing.
Its described in the Vedic literatures that the previously, the kings of India ruled the entire earth. Now we've seen that they cut of Pakistan, Bangladesh, they're chopping off a piece here, a piece their. There's some talk about chopping off Kashmir. They want to chop that off now. They keep chopping it off a little more, a little more. Previously, India was the entire planet earth. Before 5,000 years ago the Indian kings ruled the entire planet earth. The whole planet was India at that time. Of course India is a foreign word. The real name is Bharata. Formerly the whole planet was called Bharata varsa, as described in the Vedas.
Mahabharata was actually a world war. Kings came from all over the planet to fight, picking sides. There's no need for us to be shy about Indian culture. Only recently has it shrunk down to a little tiny piece of land. The subcontinent of India. We should study our own culture. I say its our own because I always feel I was an Indian in my previous birth. When I first went to India, I felt like I was returning home. I first went in 1980. It was a very powerful emotional experience. I felt I was returning to my former home. Let us study some nice words here from the Bhagavad-Gita.
naiva tasya krtenartho
na casya sarva-bhutesu
self-realized man has no purpose to fulfill in the discharge of his
prescribed duties, nor has he any reason not to perform such work. Nor
has he any need to depend on any other living being.
na casya sarva-bhutesu
self-realized man has no purpose to fulfill in the discharge of his
prescribed duties, nor has he any reason not to perform such work. Nor
has he any need to depend on any other living being.
We're meant as members of the Vedic culture to become self-realized people. Not simply earning some money, getting a nice house in suburban Birmingham. That is alright, but that is not the ultimate purpose. The ultimate purpose is to actually realize who I am, where have I come from, what is my purpose et cetera. That is our real purpose. Krishna is saying that the self-realized man has no purpose to fulfill in the discharge of his prescribed duties. So, that means that our duties, even though we have to do them, that's not really the ultimate purpose of our existence Being a good programmer for xyz corporation is not really the purpose of my existence At the same time, there's no reason not to do those prescribed duties. After all, you have to pay the rent, have a place to stay, so you're not out in the cold.
We do those duties, but at the same time, we understand that that's not the purpose of my existence Then, Krishna brings in another point. He said, he does not have any need to depend on any other living being. Actually, there is only one person we actually depend on. That is God. Is there anybody else that we ultimately depend on? You may help me in some way, but that is by God's grace. The ultimate benefactor in everything is actually God.
We may think, this company has really helped me out. They gave me a job. I was struggling for a while, I didn't have a job, and they gave me a job. But, actually, who's in the heart of the boss that told him to hire you? Krishna's in his heart. God's in the heart of everyone. So, the Lord guided that person, you should hire this person. Actually in every step, we're dependent on the Lord. He's the one behind the scenes, orchestrating everything. We may feel that we're dependent on this person or that person, or this person or that person, but that means that we're not seeing things in full perspective. To see things in full perspective, we have to understand that the Lord is behind everything that's happening. Therefore, I should take shelter of Him.
I should bow down to Him. I should sing His names. I should offer everything to Him. Its Him who's given me everything. I'm thinking that my company is giving me a very nice salary, so I'm working very hard for them to reciprocate for the salary, but I'm not realizing that behind them, actually, its Krishna, God, giving those things. I should be even more devoted to the Lord. He has created this corporation that's giving me this job. That's His arrangement.
Its His arrangement that I have this nice wife, and these darling children to be happy by serving them. This is all the Lord's arrangement. We have to see things in a God conscious way. That is the meaning of Vedic culture. And then, engage everything we do, my job, family, kids, friends, for the pleasure of the Lord. Tonight, how is this house being utilized? This house was a gift of Krishna to you all, its His mercy, you've gotten this very nice house. Now, you're showing Krishna your appreciation, by having kirtana here, by having guru come, give some darshan and pravacana. In this way, you're showing your gratitude to Krishna, by engaging this nice house, that He has given you, offering it back to Him in His service. In this way we can purify our existence.
We can reconnect with that person who's giving us everything. What is the result. We become self-realized. You realize your spiritual identity beyond your temporary body. The self realized person becomes completely happy and satisfied. They become undisturbed by anything. They find themselves diving in an ocean of transcendental bliss, undisturbed.
At the same time that you do your ordinary duties in this world, we encourage you to do your ultimate duty to reawaken the dormant love of God within your heart. That wonderful self-realization system, coming down from the great sages of India, is meant for everybody on this planet, not just for Hindus. Do I look like a Hindu? Does my skin look like I'm a Hindu? Does my accent sound like an Indian accent? Do I sound like I have a Gujarati accent, Hindi accent, Marathi accent, or whatever they call it? No. Straight American. This is actually for everyone.
In India, we hear the name Jagannatha for the Lord. In India, they have a misconception. I went to Jagannatha Puri to have darsana of Lord Jagannatha, and they said you can not come in the temple because you are not a Hindu. I argued with the Pandita. I said, is the name of the deity Hindunatha, or Jagannatha? If he is Lord of the universe, am I not part of the universe? He is my Lord also. But, even though they say Jagannatha, they are thinking He is Hindunatha. But actually this word Hindu was coined by the Muslims.
Its not a word from our Vedic scriptures, our Hindu scriptures, if you want to call it that. That is a term coined by the Muslims, Hindu. It is referring to those people living on the other side of the river Sindhu, they call them Hindu. Its like calling people west of the Mississippi this, and those that live east of the Mississippi, we'll call them that. It doesn’t really describe a religion. It describes where you live. The word Hindu really just describes where you live. Those who lived east of the river Sindhu, were known as Hindus. It just so happened that that was the place where people were following the Vedic culture, in various ways.
Some were worshiping Siva, some Krishna, some Visnu, some Rama, some demigods, some impersonal philosophers, Sankararites. So many different practices and philosophies lumped under the name Hindu because they were in the same place. The real culture is Vedic culture. All those different types of philosophy and practice are coming from the Vedas. The best word is to say I'm a follower of the Vedic religion. But, no one knows what that means. Hindu is a very popular word now because the Muslims made it popular. So, we may say Hindu so people know that I'm doing some kind of Indian religion, but the technical term which actually describes it Vedic religion. We are followers of the Vedic religion. That religion handed down by the sages of India. The Vedas.
Vedavyasa, Narada Muni, so many great acaryas. Sankaracarya Ramanujacarya Madhvacarya Visnusvami, Nimbarka, Caitnaya Mahaprabhu, Sarasvati Gosvami, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, so many great acaryas. That is the actual pathway. Acarya upasanam. Our first business is to approach the guru. You want to actually realize the purpose of human existence. The first business is to approach the spiritual master for his guidance and blessings, how to achieve perfection. Sometimes, they approach the guru that I have a sore knee guruji, can you bless me that my knee pain will go away? For that you can go to a doctor. But, guru is where you go to inquire what is the purpose of my existence? That is what is guru is for, not to cure your toothache, or knee ache.
We're very happy that you all have come this evening, and we hope that you will kindly seriously consider these points we have made. This knowledge, if actually accepted and understood, will completely transform your existence. You may say, well, I'm fully satisfied. Why would I need my existence transformed? Even if we may be satisfied now, we can not remain in this material world satisfied forever. You know why? Because old age disease and death are coming. We may be temporarily satisfied. Here in America, with a nice job, nice house. Temporarily we're very satisfied. But, that position of enjoyment cannot last. By the laws of karma, we're sometimes given a chance to enjoy, and sometimes suffer, sometimes enjoy, sometimes suffer. We cannot remain steadily in a position of enjoyment in this material world. That's not possible. But, if you take up spiritual life, surrender yourself to the Lord, then you will achieve, brahma saukhyam tv anantam. That happiness which goes on increasing unlimitedly forever.
We're teaching you how to come to that position, called transcendental happiness, brahma saukhyam. That spiritual happiness is the most important training you can ever receive in your life. How to fix yourself in spiritual happiness. No matter what may happen in this material world, if you're fixed in spiritual happiness, you'll remain happy. That happiness will continue to grow and mature more and more as your life progresses. If you take it very seriously, by taking shelter of a guru, surrendering fully to his instructions, become a disciple, then what will happen? You'll actually enter into immortality. You will achieve deathlessness.
We want to give you this opportunity to achieve the supreme happiness. That's why we have come all the way from Texas to speak here tonight to this nice house of Venkatesh and his wonderful wife. We are very appreciative that he has so nicely received us with open hearts. We'd like to asd you all to open up your hearts. Do you have any questions? That's another nice way to open your heart. You can open your heart by letting us into your house, or you can open your heart by sincerely inquiring about spiritual subject matters. That's another way you can open your heart.
Devotee 1: The material body is driven by the modes of nature. Can you kindly give details about the modes of material nature?
SDA: This is a very intelligent question. Thank you. This material nature is conducted in three modes. Just like in the field of art, we have three primary colors, yellow, red and blue. You can mix those three colors, and you can get hundreds of thousands of colors. If you go to the paint store, there are so many colors. Are you an artist? Do you paint? How many colors can you mix by three primary colors? You get hundreds of colors isn't it so? Yes. Confirmed by an artist. We have three basic modes of this material nature. Sattva guna, rajo guna, tamo guna. Then you have sattva guna mixed with a little raja, or a lot of raja, and a little tamas or a lot of tamas. There are unlimited varieties.
Everybody looks different. Everybody thinks differently. One child acts in one way, another child behaves in another way. One child is sitting peacefully in the lap of his mother, and the other cannot do that because every child is acting in their different variety of the modes of nature. Its true on all levels. Children, adults, even take two different dogs for example. One dog will wag his tail if you walk up, the other will bark because he's conducted by different modes of nature. Everything has its variety in the modes. There's charity in the mode of goodness, charity in the mode of passion and charity in the mode of ignorance. Charity in the mode of ignorance is when you give charity to somebody at the stoplight and he goes and buys some cigarettes with the charity money you've given. Charity in the mode of goodness is when you give money to a sadhu who uses the money for a spiritual purpose. Everything in this material world has three different varieties: Goodness, passion and ignorance.
The Vedic culture teaches us to come to goodness. Once we're in goodness, we purify the goodness, because the sattva guna or material mode of goodness, still has tinges of passion and ignorance mixed in with it. The path of bhakti as described in the Bhagavad-Gita, purifies the sattva guna from all tendencies of passion and ignorance, and turns it into what is known as suddha sattva, or visuddha sattva, pure goodness. The spiritual platform is totally beyond the modes of material nature. You actually have four different levels, tamo guna, rajo guna, which is slightly higher, sattva guna higher, then you have the suddha sattva platform, pure goodness.
When you cultivate piety, honesty, integrity, service mood, this is the mode of goodness, and when you bring devotion to God into it becomes pure goodness. If I'm an atheist doing all kinds of humanitarian work, then I want to be recognized for my humanitarian work, but when I want to give all the credit to God, the Lord, Krishna, bhagavan, then I become free of the desire to be honored and worshiped for my good work. That's the perfectional stage, to come to the spiritual platform.
The material body is acting under different modes. When you're sleeping at night, that's the mode of ignorance. When you get up in the morning and meditate, that's the mode of goodness. When you get in the car and hit the traffic jam to go to the office, that's the mode of passion. But, if you're a transcendentalist, cultivating, for example, Krishna bhakti, very seriously, then you can actually be situated in suddha-sattva, pure goodness, 24 hours a day. Even if you have to act in a way which appears to be tamasic, rajasic, or sattvic. Arjuna, on the battlefield was acting in a way which appeared to be very rajasic. He was fighting vigorously and killing the enemy soldiers on the Kuru's side. This is very rajasic, passionate activity, killing, yet he was situated in pure goodness because he was simply surrendered to Krishna.
At every minute we're in a certain mixture of the modes. Its very rare to just have one pure mode. At every minute there are certain influences in our mind. A certain amount of sattva guna, a certain amount of raja guna, a certain amount of tama guna. Its natural. Everyone goes through these phases. Sometimes we're very peaceful, meditative. Sometimes we're sattvic, sometimes angry, rajasic, lethargic, tamasic. There's a mixture of these modes going on in our psyche. Whatever state we were in when we left our body in our previous lifetime, determined our body in this life. Whatever mixture of the modes you were in when you left your previous body, that brings you to your present body. The idea is to cultivate higher, enlightened spiritual consciousness in this lifetime. Not taking birth again, or taking birth in a situation where you can continue on the self-realization path, in the family of some great devotees. Or, even a rich mercantile family.
This is described in the Bhagavad-Gita. Those who are highly situated in the modes of nature, aspiring for enlightenment, they will take their next birth in a family of transcendentalists, or in a rich mercantile family. Why a rich mercantile family? Because, there you don't have to worry about making money. You can just devote all of your energy for spiritual enlightenment. I have a Godbrother. You've heard of the Ford Motor company, Henry Ford. His great grandson is my Godbrother, Ambarisa dasa. His name before diksa was Alfred Brush Ford, the great grandson of Henry. He was inclined toward spiritual enlightenment in his previous lifetime, and he took birth in the Ford family. He doesn't have to worry about money ever. Never. No worry for making money ever in his whole life. He can just think of how to render service. How to spread Krishna bhakti around the world with his influence as a member of the Ford family. That's what he does.
His whole energy is how he can establish Krishna consciousness on this earth planet. He doesn't have to worry about money. Whether you're born in a family of devotees or a rich mercantile family, These are determined by your modes of nature in your previous lifetime. So, now we should cultivate sattva guna, and try to come to the suddha sattva platform as far as possible in this lifetime, so, ideally we'll go back to the spiritual world at the time of death, or if we don't quite make it, we'll take birth in a very favorable position to continue the path of spiritual enlightenment in our next birth.
Any other questions?
Guest 1: You said that the combination of the modes at the time of death determines your next birth. What if you're in pain from a cancer treatment. Is it just at the last moment, or is it a culmination of your whole life?
SDA: The answer is both are correct, because by natures arrangement, what you absorb yourself in in your whole life will flash in your mind at the last minute. Even if you're cancer causes you pain, if you've seriously cultivated Krishna bhakti for example in your life, that's what will come flooding in at the last moment, by Krishna's arrangement. By nature's way, however you absorb your life, that's what will come at the last moment. Its not that I'll do all nonsense, and at the last minute, I'm just going to go, Hare Krishna. Keep a litte note in my day planner. If death comes today, make sure to chant Hare Krishna at the last minute, and just go on doing all nonsense. But a little note on my bathroom mirror, and just do all nonsense, and expect to chant Hare Krishna at the time of death. No. It won't happen.
Prabhupada gives a nice example. He says, you can train a live parrot to go Hare Krishna. Hare Krishna. Hare Krishna. But, what happens when a cat catches the parrot by the neck? Will he go Hare Krishna? No. He will go Caw Caw Caw! You have to cultivate the Krishna consciousness throughout the life. Then, that consciousness will travel with you. That will be there. Krishna's very fair.
If you worked hard the whole semester. You really seriously did your best in the course, and the day of the finals, you were sick, and you drag in the final, and you're mind is whirling with a fever, what will the teacher do? He'll give you some special bonus questions to help you make a good grade on the exam. So, Krishna will do that. If you seriously dedicate yourself in His service, He will note that very carefully. If there's any discrepancy, He will cover for you, if you've done your best to be a devotee. That's definitely a fact.
If you simply sincerely try to serve Him to the best of your ability throughout your life, and then, at the moment of death, even if there's some disturbing thing like an automobile accident, or who knows what happens, Krishna will bless you at that last minute with His remembrance. I guarantee it. Just go ahead and prosecute Krishna bhakti, with full faith. Krishna guarantees in the Bhagavad-Gita, In as much as they surrender to Me, I reward them accordingly. If you make your surrender to Krishna full and complete, He will fully and completely protect you, even in the most dangerous of all situations. He'll be there to protect you, guaranteed. Rest assured.
Krishna is simply wonderful. He's so sweet, so sublime. That's a fact. All the demigods love Krishna. He's very special. They all love Krishna. They're all attracted to Krishna. All the great demigods we read about in the Vedas, Siva, Indra, Ganesa, Surya, they all very much love Him. That is confirmed in Rg Veda.
Om tad visnoh paramam padam
sada pasyanti surayo
diviva caksur atatam
sada pasyanti surayo
diviva caksur atatam
The demigods are looking to the supreme abode of Visnu, or Krishna. They're all attracted there. They have their duties of universal management. Surya has to take care of the sun. Candra has to take care of the moon. Sarasvati has to help everybody in their final exams, and whatever. But, they're all taking blessings from Krishna to do their duty as demigods. They're all taking help from Krishna.
Sam Walton. How did he become so wealthy? He figured out that, if I become big enough to buy directly from the manufacturers, and don't mess around with the distributors, then I can undercut everybody's price and become very wealthy. So, you can either go to the demigods, who are middle men, or you can go to bhagavan, Sri Krishna, the original Personality of Godhead. If you go straight to bhagavan, you're going straight to the manufacturer. If you go to a demigod, you're going to a middleman.
In America, how do we deal with the government? You pay the IRS every year. We all got our letters from uncle IRS, uncle Sam. We pay our one tax to the government. When you go to the social security office, do you have to make a bribe, here in America? Or do you just pay your taxes and everything is ok? Which is it? Do you bribe the government officials here to get this thing done, and that thing done? In America, you just pay your tax, and everything is finished, but in India, you may pay your tax, but when you go to this office, you bribe this one, that office, bribe that one. They were keeping my wife's passport because she wouldn't give a bribe. In south India, she went for some treatment, and they wouldn't give it back. They had it right in the desk, and they were lying to her. They wanted a bribe. But, when the official went for lunch break, she opened the drawer, and took her passport. He wanted a bribe.
We don't have to give any bribe to the demigods. They are subordinate. If we simply pay our tax to Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then everything is covered. The Krishna bhakti process automatically includes all the demigods. When you pay the IRS, then every government official gets paid. In America, all the government officials are very nicely paid. They don't have to ask for a bribe. They're well payed. It comes from your tax money. You're already paying them, by paying your tax. So, when you give your bhakti to Krishna, automatically, you're worshiping Siva, Durga, Ganesa, when you to Krishna bhakti, then you're giving service to all the demigods automatically. It makes things easier. IF you want to worship all the demigods, do you know how long that will take you?
There are demigods for everything. Even the blinking of your eye is controlled by a demigod. Even when you go to pass urine in the toilet, there is a demigod in control of the urination function. There are 33,000,000 demigods, according to the Vedas. So, if you want to worship all the demigods, how long will it take you. Just imagine what is 10 minutes times 33,000,000. 330,000,000 minutes. How many hours is it? How many days? How many years? If you want to please each and every one of them, then you have to do 33,000,000 pujas. Therefore, we recommend just chant Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, and automatically you've given the best satisfaction to Siva, Brahma, Indra, Ganesa, Surya, Sarasvati, Maya, the list of 33,000,000 just goes on and on and on. So, this is what the great sages of India are teaching, this Krishna bhakti is the ultimate perfection of worshiping this god and that god.
Are there any other questions?
Devotee 2: Suppose a person is sincerely inclined to be Krishna conscious, but by virtue of his job, he has to do some contrary work which is not agreeable to Krishna.
SDA: That depends on how extreme it is. IF you are a butcher by trade, and every day you're having to kill the cows, then I would suggest you go back to college and get a new career. But, in cases which are not extreme, you can offer the fruit of that work to Krishna. Are you talking about a liquor shop? Maybe a McDonalds franchise? Somethings are extreme and should be changed as soon as practical, but the fact is that in any profession, there's always going to be some imperfection. Lets say a devotee of Krishna is a travel agent. Let's say he specializes in India. Most of the customers who buy tickets to India will ask for a vegetarian meal on the airplane. In India, vegetarian is still the standard thing. In fact, in India, vegetarian is so much considered normal that if you're a meat eater, its called non veg. Veg is considered the norm. Non veg is considered the non standard, abnormal thing. I'm a non veg. I'm a little weird. I'm not a vegetarian. But, even though the travel agent is selling tickets to people going to India, sometimes there will be somebody who's a meat-eater. He will sell them the ticket for the plane ride, and included in that ticket price is the price of the meat.
Those kind of imperfections are there in practically any job you do. So, Krishna says in the Gita that every activity is covered by some kind of a fault. What's important is what do you do with the results of that activity. You cannot act perfectly in this material world. I'll give you another example. Your wife goes into the kitchen to make some chutney in the blender. Do you realize there's little microbial living entities there that are getting smashed by the blender? So, what are your going to do, stop cooking? When you drive down the street, some insects are getting caught in the radiator in your car. Even when you breathe, the little microbial germs are being killed every time you inhale. That's why the Jains put a mask over their mouth, to try to minimize.
You cannot do anything that's perfectly sinless in this world. But, what you can do is offer the result of your activities in the service of the Lord. That excuses you from the reactions. Just like, if you're an ambulance driver and you're running an emergency to take someone to the hospital, the police will not give you a ticket, they may even give you a police escort to help you along the way. If they see that its a lot of trouble and traffic, they may go ahead and clear the way for the ambulance to come. I you're engaged in the service of Krishna, then, you're not held accountable for any reactions that may come out of activities that are really unavoidable.
If something is grossly out of line, then you have to change. If your occupation is a butcher, you have to think. Maybe I should sell ice cream cones. One should try to give those things up. If something is grossly sinful, then one should try to minimize it. You can't fully purify anything in this material world. As far as possible, minimize the sinful activities. There was one gentleman we were visiting regularly to give him prasada in the shop. He was selling meat, even though he was a vegetarian. He was coming to our kirtans, then he realized that I don't need to keep this business. I can do something else. He sold the business, made a good profit, and got another job. He's happy.
He didn't lose any income. He previously had been running a vegetarian restaurant, because he was a Gujarati, against meat eating. Then, he found he wasn't making enough money, so he thought, let me run a Blimpy's franchise. But, they have meat sandwiches. Then, he realized, after we started going there, and he was coming for kirtana, actually, this is not good. Let me give it up. He was feeling that it was wrong the whole time. His kids were vegetarian, his wife was a vegetarian, he's a vegetarian. He knew it was wrong, but he was just thinking, I have to do this for a living. Then when he came, and started chanting Hare Krishna, he realized that Krishna will take care of this. He didn't have to keep doing the meat restaurant.
The fact is that Krishna will make sure that everyone has a livelihood. Don't think that you have to do something sinful to earn a livelihood. Krishna can give you a way to not be grossly sinful, in earning your livelihood.
Devotee 3: If we surrender to Krishna, and chant Hare Krishna we will be happy. But then why when Sudama surrendered to Krishna did he suffer so much?
SDA: Krishna wanted to show that amazing pastime of taking him from abject poverty to unbelievable inconceivable opulence. He also wanted to show to the world how dedicated Sudama was to Him. Krishna sometimes puts His devotees into difficulty so that they can become worshiped and glorified by the society in general.
Its very easy to be devoted if God gives you opulence, isn't it? If God gives me a huge amount of money and prestige, its very easy to be devoted. Oh, its a good deal. He's given me so much. Why wouldn't I want to be devoted to Him? But, the real test is when He takes everything away. Are you still devoted?
In Indian culture, the wife is very dedicated to the husband. Its very easy to be dedicated if your husband is wealthy, has a nice house, he gives you nice saris, nice jewelry. But the Indian culture is so strong that you will see a beggar on the street, whose wife is serving him faithfully, peacefully, with no complaint, even though he's a beggar on the street. Isn't it so? That is Indian culture.
Whether he's wealthy or a beggar in the street, I'm devoted. Then you know this person's really devoted, if they're just going through hell, and they're still devoted. Other than the devotion itself, they're not getting anything. Sudama wasn't getting anything external, the only thing he had was his devotion. But I can assure you that devotion that Sudama was tasting in that impoverished condition, where he was shaking in hunger, and he was dressing in rags, the opulence he was experiencing in that condition was greater than the heavenly opulence he received when he went home from Dvaraka. He didn't gain any opulence when he went to Dvaraka, even though it appeared that he did so.
He was already tasting the supreme opulence, the supreme wealth of Krishna bhakti, in that externally impoverished state. He was so exalted that when he came to Dvaraka, Krishna personally worshiped him. Can you imagine if God Himself was worshiping you? Just see how exalted he was. We cannot say he was suffering in poverty, although he appeared to be externally. He had no desire to go to Dvaraka to beg any wealth from Krishna. Only his wife was prodding him. He was totally happy in Krishna bhakti, in complete poverty, suffering from hunger, he was totally completely satisfied in Krishna bhakti. Because his wife was nagging him, he said alright alright alright, I'll go to make you happy. I will go for you. I personally don't need to go, because I'm feeling the greatest happiness in loving Krishna, but because you're my wife, for your sake I will go, my dear wife. But you must give me a gift to take to the Lord.
They had nothing in the house to give. The house was empty. So, they begged some chipped rice from the neighbor. When he gives that rice to Krishna, Krishna is eating a little bit. Wanting to take some more, Rukmini stopped Him. Do not take anymore of this chipped rice, my Lord. I am the goddess of fortune. I am the one who must bestow all opulence upon everyone. From what he has already offered You in love, I'm obliged to give him more opulence than I'm even capable of giving him. So, please do not take any more of that chipped rice that he has brought You. Already, I'm beyond my capability to give reward.
From just that little bit of chipped rice, he achieved opulence greater than the demigods in the heavenly planets, on this planet earth. He had greater opulence. He went back to his village, and couldn't even recognize where he was. When he saw his wife, he couldn't even recognize her. She looked like a beautiful demigoddess from the heavenly kingdom. Previously she was all skinny and emaciated, trembling from hunger. Now she was just a beautiful goddess, wearing the most costly ornaments, a beautiful silk sari. He couldn't even recognize his wife at first, and recognized him. Then only he figured out who it was. Krishna has amazing pastimes.
VPM: The amazing thing is that Sudama went there to ask something from Krishna, and he never asked Him.
SDA: He never even asked. He was too shy to ask. I could not ask anything. He went all the way to ask, but when he got there, I couldn't ask anything from Krishna. This is the secret of success in spiritual life. Instead of saying, oh Krishna, please give me money, please give me this job, please let my wife have a nice baby boy, or baby girl. Instead of going to Krishna and begging give me this, give me this, follow the pathway of Sudama. Simply, go and offer yourself as Krishna's devotee. Trust me. If you do that, you will achieve opulence beyond your wildest dreams. If you sincerely honestly fully surrender yourself to Krishna, you will receive payback beyond your wildest dreams. That, I can guarantee you. Dont go to Krishna with this and that.
I was trained that way as a kid. My parents said, ok son, you should pray to God, for whatever you want for Christmas. I was praying, dear God, please give me a pair of cowboy boots. Every day. My parents wanted to teach me to believe in God, so they told me to pray for the cowboy boots, and sure enough, under the Christmas tree, what was there? Cowboy boots. But, that is not the way to train someone how to become a lover of God. They were teaching me how to be a lover of cowboy boots. Do not teach your children in this way. Teach your children to fully surrender themselves unto Krishna without asking anything in return. That is the secret of how to achieve the highest happiness. You do that, and train your kids to do the same thing. Then, they will thank you for all of eternity for how you trained them how to be a devotee of Krishna. If you simply teach them how to get a material education, get a nice career in America, if that's all you do, and you're from India, you're doing the greatest disservice to your children.
You must teach them how to become lovers of God. That's absolutely essential. Otherwise, you're practically just cutting their throats. Killing them. Isn't it so? It is.
VPM: In the world we always hear that there is so much violence, but there is a greater violence that people commit in day to day life, among their families. Why can't we recognize that violence? The violence of killing one's self.
SDA: Its described in the Vedas, atma ha. The killer of the self. There's two types of atma ha, one is the butcher who kills the animals, the other is that we are butchers of our own spiritual life. We are killing our own spiritual life. We are committing spiritual suicide, be neglecting to reawaken our dormant love of God, within the heart. Simply running after material things only. I'll give you a graphic example. One of my students is a college student up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He's a good student, at the same time, he's trying to cultivate Krishna bhakti, he chants the japa mala. His roommates want to sleep in the morning, and they don't like that somebody's gotten up to chant, so, his roommates told him, if you want to be successful in life, don't do the chanting of God's name. Just study. That's the secret of success in life. These are all Indian boys. He just wrote me an email telling me that that's what they told him.
Such advise to someone is actually killing them. If you tell someone, do not chant God's name, just study and you'll be successful in life, you may have temporary success if you do that, as a result of your past karma, but past good karma is eventually exhausted, then there is nothing left. But, if you chant the names of God on a regular basis, every day, to cultivate bhakti, then you're creating transcendental assets, which will never be taken away from you. You'll never burn them up, or exhaust them. So, that's the real secret of success in life.
Along with your material duties, you cultivate your spiritual life very seriously. Whatever piety I have in my previous birth allows me to have a nice home in America now, but once my karma is burned up from my past pious activities, then I have to go to an impoverished condition, like Ethiopia, or maybe the other side of Birmingham, where the poor people live. Whatever wealth I'm enjoying now is because of past pious activities, but if I'm not using the fruit of those pious activities in the service of the Lord, then I'm simply spending off my past pious credits, and once they're exhausted, I will go back to an impoverished condition in material existence.
If you've saved up your money and you're on vacation, you're having a great time, once you spent all your money, you have to go back to the assembly line to make money again. But, when you come to the platform of Krishna bhakti, then you're achieving a position which is permanent, which is eternal. Whatever good results are coming to you, you don't use for your own personal sense gratification. You engage in the service of the Lord. Then, Krishna gives you more, and He gives you more, and He gives you more to engage in His service.
My spiritual master came to America with only 40 rupees. When he left his body, he was a multimillionaire. From 1965 he arrived, and then 12 years later he was a multimillionaire. Was it from investing in the stock market? No. He simply was preaching Krishna bhakti. Whatever results came, he didn't keep them for himself.
As I mentioned, Alfred Ford became his disciple. Alfred Ford is a multimillionaire. He didn't take one penny from Alfred Ford for his own sense gratification. Whatever came he offered it all back in the service of Krishna. An author usually takes royalties for his writing, and pockets it. Its considered a normal thing. Even though tens of thousands of dollars worth of his books are being sold every day, he didn't take any royalty payment whatsoever for his books even though they were selling like hotcakes all over the world. Not one penny did he take as royalties. Everything went back in Krishna's service. He was taking his one or two chapatis every day, and sleeping just 3 ˝ hours a day, and working very heart with an old man's body that had suffered two heart attacks already. He was working so very hard.
His body practically already should have died. He was working the body for Krishna. He received so much opulence. We can also engage whatever opulence we have now in the service of Krishna. Then Krishna will give us more and more and more opulence to engage in His service. That's a fact.
Devotee 4: What about bhakti yoga? Do the results of that every get depleted?
SDA: Let's say in this life, you become 80% absorbed in bhakti, you have 20% to work on. In your next life, you'll take birth in a situation where, very easily you can finish off the last 20%. Any material advancement, you lose it. Any spiritual advancement you keep it. This is a great investment. Its never lost. You're accruing permanent assets just by hearing this lecture now. They will remain with you for all of eternity. By hearing this lecture tonight, which is a presentation of pure Krishna bhakti, without any ulterior motive, you are accruing pure bhakti as such, now, at this very minute. It will keep accumulating and accumulating and accumulating the more you go on chanting and hearing, taking prasadam, bowing down before the Lord. All these activities, visiting the holy dhamas Sri Vrindavana. By all of these activities, you're accumulating transcendental assets that just keep accumulating accumulating accumulating until finally you've got enough for the ticket. Then you go back to Godhead.
Devotee 4: Even if you follow bhakti yoga for 20 years, then become a meat eater, if you completely fall away?
SDA: Its like some dictator came in and froze your bank account. When the dictator is removed, you get back your bank account again. You may lose access to those bhakti assets if you fall down into meat eating, but once you come back to bhakti, you don't start off at square one.
Devotee 4: It seems that the more you progress, the more difficult it is to keep yourself in line. If you're in Vrindavan, or Radha Kund, and you have even the wrong thought, that kind of mistake can spoil it all.
SDA: I'm trying to understand your point. You're saying that, you're finding the more you advance, the harder it is to stay fixed. Is that what you're saying? Please clarify it.
Devotee 4: The more knowledge that you gain about what's proper service of Krishna, you have no excuse of sinning in ignorance anymore. Right?
SDA: That's right. The more you know, the more you're responsible. Previously, you may have gotten off easy because of ignorance, but now that you have knowledge, now you have responsibility. So, some people prefer to stay in ignorance, but the reality is that ignorance is no excuse. One may be ignorant of the law of karma, they will still suffer reactions. It may not be as severe as one who knows, but they will still suffer reactions. Its better to go ahead and be knowledgeable, and learn how to act in such a way that you don't have to suffer those sinful reactions anymore. Its better to be knowledgeable.
Krishna is there within the heart. He's giving you all guidance and all blessing how to achieve perfection. He will never put you in a situation if its beyond your capability to master that situation. In other words. There's a constant struggle between the higher self and the lower self that we go through as we're progressing. Krishna will never put you in a situation where you cannot conquer the lower self by the higher self. He will never put us in an impossible situation. We always have that facility. We simply have to turn to Him.
You may know the story of Draupadi. She was being disrobed by the Kaurava warriors. In the beginning, she was holding on to her sari with one hand, and praying to Krishna with the other. It wasn't working. They were disrobing her. Finally, he held both hands to Krishna, then He gave her an unlimited sari. We have to follow the two handed method. Completely depend on Krishna. He will provide unlimited support for us. That's a fact.
There's nothing better than having unlimited support from Krishna. Krishna can fight off the whole U.S. Armed forces if He wants to, with His little finger. He's very powerful.
Devotee 4: There's some difficulty I have in assessing whether it was right to follow a rule of worship. I'll give you an example of what happened in my home recently. I learned that dogs were unclean, and not to have them in an asrama situation. I gave my daughter's dog back to the shelter.
SDA: Did they put it to sleep?
Devotee 4: Probably, I don't know for sure. It was a whole drama for me because my daughter was so upset.
SDA: Do you have one daughter?
Devotee 4: I have one daughter and one son. My daughter wants to live with her father because of this. My daughter left me because of this.
SDA: I have a disciple, a very nice girl who's getting ready to be my initiated disciple. She's very attached to her dog. I'm not telling her to get rid of the dog. I'm telling her that when this dog dies, don't get another dog. Let this dog benefit from your association. Let this dog get Krishna prasadam. Its not that you cannot have dogs, but dogs can be outside. Even in Caitanya-Lila there's one gentleman who's name was Sivananda Sena. This Sivananda Sena was a wealthy man. He was very generous. Every year, they would go to Puri, to have Lord Caitanya's association. He would organize the tour for the pilgrimage to Puri.
They were going to Puri, and along the way, one dog tagged along with the party. They came to a boat. In India in those days, there were no bridges, just the ferry boats. You had to pay a toll. All of the people got on and the dog hopped on too. The ferryman said that unless you pay a toll for the dog, he cannot come. I don't give free rides to dogs on my boat. Sivananda Sena said alright, and paid for the dog. The dog was just attracted to the people, and was tagging along.
They crossed the river and everything was fine. Then one day, the dog was lost. Sivananda Sena had felt so much affection for that animal, that he fasted. Where's the dog? Where's the dog? He just fasted because he was concerned. He was a nice dog. It was not an ordinary thing that a dog would just follow a group of pilgrims. There must be something special about this dog. The dog never showed up, and he was still worried, then they got to Puri.
They went to see Lord Caitanya. Then guess what. The dog was there with Lord Caitanya. The dog got there before them, somehow or other. Lord Caitanya was throwing him green coconut pulp. The dog was going Hare Krishna! The dog was saying the names of Krishna. He was throwing the pulp. The dog was jumping. Then the dog somehow wasn't there anymore. The dog had gone back to the spiritual world.
We are not against the dogs. But, to have the dog living in the house is not clean, that's a fact.
Devotee 4: The dog was outside, but there was this person visiting who felt that they couldn't serve their Deity while the dog was there.
SDA: In Vedic culture, dogs can be kept, but outside. Lord Caitanya even had a puppy. Its described in Caitanya Bhagavata. He was attached to a little puppy, but we don't keep them in the house. The American way is you keep the dog in the house, he sleeps in the bed. Those things we don't do.
The dog can stay outside. Dogs can be handy, especially with all the crime going on. If you get a good watchdog it can help. My Godbrother, Laksminrsmha had a business in his garage with a lot of valuable things. So, he was keeping two dogs, just to guard the property. They wouldn't come in the house.
Devotee 4: But you have to find food for them.
SDA: Yes. You can get vegetarian dog food. Go on the internet. Type in vegetarian dog food. There are ample varieties of vegetarian dog food. Actually, if the dogs capture their own meat, there's no karma. But if we humans kill someone and feed it to the dog, we're implicated.
Devotee 4: What about cat food.
SDA: Get some vegetarian cat food. Its available on the internet. Just type in vegetarian cat food in Google. There is ample facility. Or, let the cat go on a mouse hunt, running around. She can do. But, we should not. We have to take karma. But, they're allowed to kill. We are not. There is ample vegetarian cat and dog food to give them. Type it in the search engine. You'll see.
One of my disciples asked me. I just tried it. There are so many nice varieties of vegetarian dog food available. There are many vegetarians who have cats and dogs who don't want to kill. They've been provided with a big market for it.
Any other questions?
We'll stop here now that there's prasadam. If anyone wants to talk to me personally, I'm available. Thank you very much. Hare Krishna.
Transcribed by His Grace Jagannatha Dasa