Pure Devotional Service Seminar
18 June 2005
New Goloka, North Carolina USA
nama om visnu- padaya krsna-presthaya bhu-tale
namas te sarasvate deve gaura-vani-pracarine
Welcome to the pure devotional service seminar. Saturday morning is a big time in this material world for everybody to enjoy, because all week long they were struggling at their jobs to make money and now Saturday has come, so now it’s time to enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. And that’s what we’re doing: we’re taking the time now to really enjoy. This is the supreme enjoyment. People may think, well, how is it possible that talking about pure devotional service could be enjoyable? “Pure devotional service? Come on – what are you talking about?” They would find it to be extremely boring subject matter. But actually, this is the most nectarean, the most relishable of all possible subject matters. There’s simply nothing like pure devotional service.
Bhakitvinode Thakur confirms this point; it is not simply what I am saying. He confirms that actually there is nothing more relishable. He says, “There’s nothing but the name to be had in all the fourteen worlds.” Here he’s talking about suddha nam: the pure name. Between the pure name and pure devotional service, there is no difference. If one is a pure devotee, then one chants the holy name purely; and if one chants the holy name purely, then one is a pure devotee. So the name actually gives us the access to devotional service. The association of devotees also gives us access to pure devotional service. In fact, every single activity that has been given to us by Prabhupada gives us access to pure devotional service.
To illustrate, take a popular example for us now: the Internet. Wherever I travel around the world preaching Krishna consciousness, the first thing I ask - because I have so much preaching going on constantly – is, “Where is the Internet connection?” Even more than “where’s the prasadam” or “where can I take rest”, the first thing I want to know is “where is the Internet connection” because that’s how I stay in touch with all of my students all over the world.
Now there are so many ways to connect to the Internet: dial-up connection, cable connection, DSL connection; and when all else fails I can connect through my mobile phone. So the point is that just as there is the Internet, with so many means to connect with it, there is also the ‘Krishnanet’. Pure devotional service is the Krishnanet, and there are so many ways of accessing it. So whatever situation you’re in at any particular moment, you have to see how is the best way to access pure devotional service, right here and right now.
One Mayavadi so-called ‘guru’ came out with this Be Here Now, but actually that concept is already given by Bhaktivinode Thakura. He says:
Forget the past; it
The Vaisnavas are the actual owners of the “Be Here Now” philosophy; the Mayavadis are simply stealing this concept from us.
So pure devotional service is something we have to focus on in the here and now. It’s not something like saying, “Well, I’m just going to kind of drag along here, be a karma-misra-bhakta, or a jnana-misra-bhakta - you know, have a little sense gratification, a little Krishna consciousness; kind of coast along - maybe near the end I’ll get serious about pure devotional service.” If we do that, what are we doing? We are cheating ourselves out of unlimited nectar! Not only are we cheating ourselves out of unlimited nectar, we are torturing ourselves – we are actually torturing ourselves if we don’t take pure devotional service as the most serious thing, right here, right now.
Whatever we are doing, we should try to do it in a mood of pure devotional service. If I’m hearing a discourse on pure devotional service, I should try to be fully absorbed, meditating on the great acarya of hearing. And who was that? Pariksit Maharaja. We can remember Maharaja Pariksit, how he was hearing with rapt attention. He was not even drinking water; he was simply hearing Bhagavatam from the lips of Sukadeva Goswami. If we’re worshiping Tulasi devi, we should try to meditate on the meaning of the prayers. What are we actually saying? Are we just going through the motions with our mouths? We should try to sing in a mood of pure devotion, because the fact is that that dimension of pure devotional service does exist. It’s right there, and it’s available for us. All we have to do is connect.
Pure devotional service is available. In fact, it can even be achieved within a second. In the Bhagavatam we see the wonderful example in the story of Khatvanga Maharaja. He was a very, very powerful fighter. He was an earthly king, but he was extremely powerful. In fact, he was so powerful that when the demons attacked the heavenly planets, the demigods pleaded, “Khatvanga Maharaja, please come – we are being defeated by the demons!” So Khatvanga Maharaja said, “All right,” and he went to the heavenly planets and fought valiantly for long, long years. Year after year after year he fought on valiantly, until at last he defeated the demons. The demigods were so pleased with him. They said to him, “Whatever you want – whatever benediction you want we will give you! Just tell us what you want.”
Now in those days, the kings weren’t just fighters and materialists - they were saintly. They were called rajarshi. This term comes from two words: raja, which means “king”, and rishi, which means “saintly person”. The kings were raja-rishi, or rajarshi. Khatvanga Maharaja was rajarshi - he was a saintly king. So he thought for a minute; then he said, “Well – just tell me when I will die.” That’s the only benediction he would request after having defeated the demons: “Just tell me when I will leave this body.” So the demigods, having great power to see the future, told him, “Actually, you are dying now – death is just now coming.” So Khatvanga Maharaja said, “Thank you very much”, took shelter of Krishna, and went back to Godhead.
So Prabhupada in this way explains how we can immediately come to pure devotional service. You may say, “Well, I have a long life ahead of me; I can just kind of take my time, not really worry about becoming a pure devotee. Let me just try to move up the ladder of the corporate structure of ISKCON, get a little more name and fame for myself and the Society; let me think like that” – but no. We can die at any minute. For instance, one of my godbrothers, Gour Govinda Swami, was giving a discourse - and he dropped dead, while he was giving a discourse. I was always thinking how that would be a great way to go, because I find that when I’m giving a discourse to devotees, it forces me to be Krishna conscious, even though ordinarily the mind may be full of so much garbage. When I’m giving a discourse, though, and being forced to represent Srila Prabhupada and our great acaryas purely with every word that comes out of my mouth, it really pushes me to come to a pure state of Krishna consciousness. That’s why I like giving seminars on pure devotional service, also – because it gives me some impetus to achieve that rarest of all achievements . . .
Just imagine how much crud is sitting there within us: the lust, the anger, the greed, accumulated over eons. You can’t even calculate how many lifetimes you’ve had in this material world. Your calculator does not have enough zeroes, enough places; even millions and billions of calculators side by side wouldn’t have enough places to come up with that number of lifetimes we’ve had in this material existence. So just consider how much crud we’ve accumulated. Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult for us to be Krishna conscious? It’s because of all those coverings, all that accumulation from millions and billions of lifetimes. So this is why we have to become very, very intense in our devotional service, intensely chanting and cultivating intense bhakti in everything we do. The more that we intensify our focus on being purely absorbed in Krishna consciousness, the quicker all the crud will be burned away. We have to be like a laser beam - that beam of light which is so finely focused that it can burn through metal. We have to have laser-focused bhakti to burn through all the dirt, all the crud, all the impurities.
Of course, if we don’t feel like putting that effort into pure devotional service, then we have to just take what we’re getting: a mixture. Some bliss and some misery mixed together. How many people here would like to continue suffering - in a position of mixed devotional service, with some bliss and some suffering? Who wants to keep on suffering? Let’s see a show of hands. [no hands raised] So that means by default, all of you are therefore very good candidates for pure devotional service, because nobody here wants to continue suffering, in some mixed position - you know, a little Krishna here, some Maya there; spicing up your Krishna consciousness with some Maya.
If someone is saying, “I’d like a mix”, that’s like saying, “Okay here’s a plate of prasadam. And by the way, for your meal we’ve also brought one plate of stool, so you can take some from this plate and some from that plate.” That’s what it is. If we’re not keenly focused on pure devotional service it means we’ll take some prasadam and have some stool too, just for a little contrast.
Now do we really think we have to have some stool along with prasadam in order to make it more delicious and appreciable? Yet that’s what we do in our mentality. We tend to do that on a day-to-day basis. We think about Krishna, then we think about a member of the opposite sex. We tend to do that foolishly – prasadam now, then a piece of stool; prasadam, piece of stool, prasadam, piece of stool. But if we actually understand the foolishness we’re practicing by still catering to these material ideas – if we realize how foolish it is, and just weed it out; learn how to see the contamination that we’re holding onto in our own hearts, and become very, very vigilant to weed it out – then we will be successful.
Do you think that if you begged Krishna for pure devotional service that He wouldn’t be pleased with you and that He wouldn’t help you? We have been caught up in this material existence for millions and millions of lifetimes, running after sense gratification. If we intensely beg Krishna, “My dear Lord Krishna, I want to become completely Your pure devotee now; please liberate me from all material desires, subtle and gross” – don’t you think Krishna would be so pleased with us? “I want to wake up from this sleep in the lap of the Maya witch.” Don’t you think Krishna will be so pleased? He will be, and He will reciprocate ten times over. Whatever small effort we make to come to pure Krishna consciousness, Krishna reciprocates ten times over – ten times!
I personally was encouraged by Srila Prabhupada to come to this level of pure devotional service. One time he described to me in a letter pure devotional service, without any karma, without any jnana, without any yoga; and he said “whether you can be like that.” So Prabhupada was personally pushing me: “Sankarshan das Brahmacari, whether you can be like that.” No karma, no jnana, no yoga; but completely pure in bhakti.
There is a wonderful story, actually. It’s about our godbrother Gurukripa. You may have seen him telling the story on video. It’s very nice. At the time he was the temple president, and he was called by Prabhupada in the middle of the night, while Prabhupada was doing his translation. The servant woke Gurukripa up. Gurukripa was a very hard-working devotee, getting his 5-6 hours’ rest every night, and he continued doing his service as temple president. So Prabhupada called him and said, “Why are you sleeping??” Gurukripa responded, “Prabhupada, I’m only taking six hours’ rest.” And Prabhupada said, “Am I taking six hours’ rest?” Gurukripa replied, “But you’re a pure devotee, Prabhupada.” Then Prabhupada snapped back, “Why are you not a pure devotee?!” . . . Can you imagine? Prabhupada is chastising him: “Why are you not a pure devotee! Why you can’t do like me?” Take 1½ or 3½ hours’ rest then sit up and translate at night – “What is your problem??” He was chastising Gurukripa, and he chastised him so much that Gurukripa started crying. Prabhupada just tore him to pieces – for not being a pure devotee. Gurukripa was crying, and after that Prabhupada told him a Krishna Book story and said, “Now go take rest.”
So Prabhupada actually wants us to become pure devotees. He really does. I had written Prabhupada because before I joined this movement I was a songwriter, and I was thinking about using this for Krishna. So Prabhupada gave me some tips on how I could write songs on the level of Bhaktivinode Thakura. He said, “Now, you just qualify yourself to see Krishna face to face.” So again, Prabhupada is telling me, “Become a pure devotee.” “You want to write some songs? Write some really good songs, like Bhaktivinode.” Or Bilvala Mangala Thakura – he gave that example also. “Qualify yourself to see Krishna face to face.”
So this is actually what we are meant to do. This is what our acaryas want us to do. They want us to come to the level of pure devotional service. And as I’ve been pointing out a lot lately, Prabhupada is indicating, and directly stating in the Caitanya Caritamrita purport, that a devotee of the Lord who purely chants the name of the Lord without any offense becomes jagad-guru, and under his influence the whole world will then take up chanting Hare Krishna.
So do you think that would help our movement - if we had many, many devotees who became pure chanters of the name - if just by that one devotee’s influence the whole world could take up chanting Hare Krishna? Do you think that would help our movement go forward? We could distribute more books; make more devotees; open more temples. What do you think? Do you think it would help us go forward if you became a pure devotee, Mother Krishnapriya? If any of us – if even one of us becomes completely pure, that’s all it takes to make this movement successful. Bhaktisiddhanta used to say, “Even though I’ve opened so many temples, I’m willing to sell all these temples - every single property that we’ve acquired, each and every one of them – if I can make one disciple into a pure devotee.” That’s how important pure devotional service is. It’s more important than anything else. It’s more important than the money, more important than the buildings, more important than anything. Pure devotional service is absolutely the most important thing. And it is available to each and every one of us, but somehow or other we are not going for it. We’re still hanging on to our material attachments.
There are some nice qualities about pure devotional service mentioned here in the Nectar of Devotion. There are six of them mentioned under “The Characteristics of Pure Devotional Service”. It begins, actually, with a quote from the Third Canto, 29th chapter of Srimad Bhagavatam, verses 12 and 13, where Kapiladeva is instructing His mother. He says, “My dear mother, those who are My pure devotees, who have no desire for material benefit or philosophical speculation, have their minds so much engaged in My service that they are never interested in asking Me for anything except to be engaged in that service. They do not even beg to live in My abode with Me.” This is the same thing that Caitanya Mahaprabhu said:
na dhanam na janam na
“I don’t want wealth, I don’t want women, I don’t want followers; I simply want devotional service birth after birth.” [Sri Sri Siksastaka, Fourth Verse]
So desiring devotional service is not something like, “Well, I’ll do devotional service if I can go back to Godhead.” A devotee is willing to stay in any condition and do devotional service. It can be satisfying or it can not be satisfying. The point is that when we come to a pure devotional service mood, we are actually situated in the spiritual world. That same bliss that is tasted by the inhabitants of Goloka Vrindavana in their pastimes with Krishna is available to us right here, right now if we enter into the mood of pure devotional service. You can get just as much nectar, just as much rasa, just as much juice, just as much enlivenment - right here, right now - as the inhabitants of Goloka Vrindavana have in their pastimes with Krishna. The only thing that’s separating us from that unlimited ocean of bliss is the impurity sitting in the heart.
There are six characteristics of pure devotional service given here in Nectar of Devotion. First, “Pure devotional service brings immediate relief from all kinds of material distress.” Of course, nobody here has any kind of material distress, right? Does anybody have material distress to get relief from? Does anybody not have material distress to get relief from? . . . The fact is that we’re all distressed. So many things are causing us distress! “My body is getting old; I’ve got this disease, that sickness; I’ve got this financial problem, and this interpersonal problem.” So many problems are there. “Somebody stole my laptop computer”– so many things. But pure devotional service can solve all your problems. Absolutely every single one of your problems can be solved by pure devotional service.
You may say, “Come on – how is that possible? I see the devotees. Even Prabhupada, who’s a pure devotee, got sick, and he got old, and he died. He was in such a distressful condition that last year in Vrindanvana. So how can you say that pure devotional service brings immediate relief from all kinds of material distress?” You may say, “This is hype! It’s not true - you still have to suffer!” But the fact is that a pure devotee, even though he may apparently be suffering, actually is not suffering. Kuntidevi was begging Krishna, vipidah santu tah sasvat tatra tatra jagad-guro – she was begging, “My dear Krishna, give me more of these troubles. Give me more and more calamities!” She was begging for calamities! How many of us are praying like that? “Oh, please give me more difficulties, Krishna – I love difficulties!” No, we don’t do that. We don’t have to do that, but at least when difficulties come, we shouldn’t think, “Oh, why is Krishna neglecting me?” No; we should think, “Krishna, thank you for giving me this difficulty so I can take more intensely take shelter of you!” This is the position. When you can see every single so-called ‘distress’ as a blessing from Krishna, then actually for you there is no distress.
This is the point: A devotee, one who is purely absorbed in Krishna consciousness, does not see any material situation as a reverse situation. He or she sees absolutely everything as the mercy of Krishna. So-called ‘good’ and ‘bad’ does not apply for a pure devotee. He sees everything as Krishna’s kindness upon him. Even those things you think could never be seen as a manifestation of Krishna.
Prabhupada could see like that. When he was in Calcutta, in his householder life during World War II, the Japanese were bombing Calcutta. The bombs were falling; Prabhupada would be taking prasada, and the bombs would be falling, he said, like this: cheee-chung! That’s how Prabhupada made the bombs sound - cheee-chung! So the bombs would be falling. Everybody would be running for the bomb shelter, but Prabhupada wouldn’t. He would not run; he would just take his prasada very peacefully, even though the bombs were falling. He was thinking, as the bombs were falling, “Here comes Krishna.” He saw the bomb as Krishna. So just imagine, if you have that mood of pure devotional service, you see absolutely everything as a manifestation of Krishna. You see Krishna within everything and everything within Krishna.
Many of my students are working jobs - they’re not living in an asrama doing full-time asrama activities. For instance, I have one disciple who is a sales manager for Volvo. It’s a very intense thing, being a sales manager for Volvo. You have to make Volvo your life and soul, and you have to train all the salespeople to make Volvo their life and soul. So how can he possibly be Krishna conscious on Monday morning, when he has to get hyped up to hype up all the Volvo salesmen to have their highest sales year ever and please the CEO of Volvo, or whatever? How does he do that? How does he see that in relation with Krishna - he or anyone working a job?
Well, the fact is that the more we cultivate this mood of pure devotional service very, very intensely – when we’re chanting our japa, when we’re reading the books, when we’re serving the devotees - the more we can intensely do that, the more it will carry over into our ordinary activities of working a job or dealing with family members, because actually for a pure devotee there is nothing material. There’s nothing material. The pure devotee sees everything as spiritual, because actually everything is spiritual. The only time it is material is when it is used for sense gratification. As Prabhupada explains, nothing is actually material because everything is Krishna’s energy. It’s only when we lose sight of connecting that thing with Krishna that is becomes material. So if we are fixed in the mood of pure devotional service, then we will engage absolutely everything in the service of Krishna. And for us, everything will then be spiritual. So this is a very, very important thing, because it will enable us to always be happy and to be free from all kinds of distress.
The second characteristic is that pure devotional service is the beginning of all auspiciousness. Now what does auspiciousness mean? It means “that which is beneficial for all living beings.” We all have a tendency to want to do good for others. Everyone wants to be a friend. It’s the nature we all have: we want to have friends and we want to be a friend also, because that nature is there in Krishna. Sutardam sarva bhutanam: Krishna says, “I am the best friend of all living beings.” So our nature is to be a friend. But you cannot actually be a friend unless you come to devotional service. Because otherwise, in the material world, what do friends do? They say, “Oh, you look so nice today” – they reinforce the bodily concept. If you reinforce the bodily concept in your friend, then actually you are killing him - killing him, murdering him! But if you are in the mood of Krishna consciousness, then when you act as friend you are truly acting as friend, because you’re giving your friends prasadam, you’re thinking of how to talk about Krishna . . . So that is the second item: it is the beginning of all auspiciousness.
So the point is this, for everyone in Krishna consciousness: the more that we can impact others favorably to help them to become Krishna conscious, the more that we become enlivened ourselves. We’ve all had the experience. So the more we become pure in Krishna consciousness, the more we have impact on other people; and the more we can impact others, the more enlivening it is for us. So pure devotional service brings us to a point - the more we become pure, the more we have a favorable, positive impact on everyone, wherever we go.
We can see that those advanced preachers of Krishna consciousness attract preaching wherever they go. They actually attract preaching. One devotee can be in a situation, and nobody will be interested to hear about Krishna; but another who’s more pure in Krishna consciousness can be in the same situation and people will come forward wanting to hear about Krishna – that we see practically. Pure devotional service attracts interest. The more we become pure, the more we’ll attract people to want to hear about Krishna and learn about Krishna.
So the point is, the more you become pure, the more preaching nectar you get in your life. You get more and more preaching nectar, and we all know that preaching is the sweetest nectar. Why? Because that is what pleases Krishna the most. In fact, in the Gita He’s even saying that. Where is that – 18:68: “For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, pure devotional service is guaranteed”. So this preaching work is the secret of how to get pure devotional service. If you want to get pure devotional service - if you want to get guaranteed by Krishna that you will achieve pure devotional service - then just be very actively preaching Krishna consciousness. That’s the key. For those who take up preaching and remain absorbed in preaching throughout their lives, Krishna guarantees pure devotional service. So that’s one little tip.
The third characteristic is that pure devotional service automatically puts one in transcendental pleasure. So it’s the opposite side of the coin: On one side, all distress is gone; but it’s not that you’re left in a void. On the other side, you get the nectar. Just consider how much nectar there is in one, pure utterance of Krish-na. We take it for granted – Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare – but actually, there is so much nectar in one, pure utterance of Krishna’s name that the whole universe cannot contain that nectar. Just consider how much gulab jamun juice there is in one gulab jamun. This universe is actually like a big gulab jamun. Lord Caitanya has recently been here, with so much pure chanting; Prabhupada was here. Actually, there is so much nama rasa in this universe right now, it must be practically oozing out! So we just have to connect with all that pure nama that’s been chanted - by Srila Prabhupada; by Lord Caitanya; by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati chanting all those millions of names as he prepared for his preaching mission. The pure nectar is out there; it’s still vibrating. We just have to connect with it by chanting ourselves as purely as we possibly can, trying to break through all the impurities: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
The fourth characteristic is rarely achieved. You may say, “What’s the use of trying for this, if it’s so rare?” You may say it’s a gamble, it’s so rarely achieved. “Why should I waste my time and energy if it’s only rarely achieved?” That’s an argument someone could make. One could say, “Well, I could never become a pure devotee, so I’m not even going to try.” Or, “You have to be really lucky to become a pure devotee” - like winning the lottery - “What’s the use in buying a lottery ticket? The odds are against me.” So one could take the position, “What’s the use of trying to become a pure devotee? The odds are against me. I’ll just be a good Sunday school member, you know; put on my tilaka and go, and just be a good member of the Hare Krishna movement – not really try for pure devotional service.”
But no. Because even though pure devotional service is rarely achieved, by the mercy of Lord Caitanya everyone can achieve it. That is the inconceivable mercy of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu: everyone can achieve pure devotional service! You can achieve it. Everyone can achieve pure devotional service because Lord Caitanya has actually delivered the whole universe. It’s just like Krishna [in the Battle of Kuruksetra] has killed all the soldiers on the battlefield but only time is separating. So actually Caitanya Mahaprabhu has already given pure devotional service to everyone: only time is separating. And just as Arjuna is being told, “You go forward and take credit for having killed them (by apparently fighting this battle that I have already fought and won)”, so the preachers also go forward on the order of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The preachers go forward and get the credit for having spread Krishna consciousness, when actually it was already done by Lord Caitanya.
So we should always be very helpful when we try to push forward this movement, because the Hare Krishnas have already won – they’ve already defeated the demons in this huge ball game. Many devotees like to play the ball games, but this one is the ultimate ball game: Who will control planet Earth? Will the good guys win the game, or will the bad guys win the game? Who will control the ball? Will the demons control it or will the devotees control it? Yet it’s already guaranteed that the devotees will win the game. The odds are stacked in our favor – that individually and collectively pure devotional service will become predominate. It will become predominate! So don’t be discouraged that it is only rarely achieved. By the mercy of Lord Caitanya you will achieve pure devotional service. You will get it.
The fifth characteristic is that those in pure devotional service deride even the conception of liberation. I always thought that was a wonderful way of saying it because you could say they deride the liberation, but more than that, they deride even the conception of liberation. It’s just like Yamunacarya says that as soon as he thought of having sex he just pfft! – spat. So in the same way, those in pure devotion spit at the thought of liberation also, this ‘merging into the Oneness’ - they just spit at the thought. They deride the very thought of liberation. As soon as you mention it to them they become disgusted. Sayujya-mukti – they don’t care for it. The Mayavadis? They want to become God - “Yes, I am God!” But the Vaisnavas, Prabhupada says, say “Why become one with God when you can become greater than God?”
This pure devotional service is so attractive that it even attracts Krishna Himself. Krishna is amazed. Actually, Prabhupada says, this pure devotional service is even transcendentally stronger than Krishna Himself. Krishna becomes conquered by pure devotional service. That’s why it’s rarely achieved – because once you achieve it you conquer Krishna! And Krishna doesn’t allow Himself to be conquered by any Tom, Dick or Harry who comes in off from Interstate 85. Krishna is very fussy about who gets pure devotional service. Actually, that pure devotional service is not attained by any amount of penance or austerity. It is only achieved by the mercy of Krishna and the pure devotee of Krishna. That’s how we get pure devotional service.
So how do we get the mercy of Krishna and the pure devotee of Krishna? You must take shelter of a bona fide spiritual master and please him by your service. That is the means of achieving pure devotional service. First you find a spiritual master who is a pure devotee of Krishna, and then please him by your service – it’s a very simple thing. Then by that pleasing of the spiritual master, who is the pure devotee of Krishna, Krishna will be very pleased with you, and He will give you all benediction – pure devotional service. So that’s how we achieve it. Someone may think, “Well, I don’t want to have anybody between me and Krishna. I don’t want to have a spiritual master; I just want to be directly connected with Krishna.” Ah, but it doesn’t work that way. The spiritual master is called “transparent via medium”: he connects us with Krishna.
It’s like this: Let’s say you have a friend who is in Europe. You say to your friend, “Well, I will only talk with you face to face – I won’t agree to talk with you by telephone.” That’s not the way people do! If you have a friend in a distant place, then you’re quite happy to talk with him by telephone. We see so many people talking on the telephone - I just saw Krishnapriya talking on the telephone. No one has any objection – “Oh, this telephone is standing between me and my friend.” No: the telephone is connecting us with our friend. Likewise, the spiritual master is that via medium that connects us with Krishna. The via medium is not getting in the way of your relationship; that via medium is actually allowing you to have that relationship. So we should never say, “No, I don’t want Guru, because that’s something standing in between me and Krishna” – no. You need Guru because Krishna is far distant from us at the present time. He’s in Goloka Vrindavana. The spiritual master - and the whole line of gurus, actually - are connecting us with Krishna. That is a vital way of connecting with Krishna – through Guru. So pure devotional service can only be achieved if we take shelter of a bona fide spiritual master. There’s no other way. We require the mercy of both Guru and Krishna. You may say, “Well – let me get the mercy of Krishna, then I’ll get the mercy of Guru” - but no. The first thing is to get the mercy of Guru; and then, by his mercy, you get the mercy of Krishna.
Bring my harmonium – put it here.
We have a very nice song here by Narottama. This helps us. I’m just going to sing a few lines and discuss it.
These songs of Narottama are actually very helpful because they help us to enter into this mood of pure devotional service. These songs should be sung with deep meditation on the meaning of the song. These songs especially enable us to open up the emotional side, the feeling side, which is a very important part of devotional service. We have to learn how to feel loving sentiments for Krishna and the Vaisnavas. These are very important things. Prabupada told us in San Francisco, “I am traveling all over the world, and everywhere I am going I see that they are building skyscraper buildings in imitation of your country. If you will simply chant and dance Hare Krishna in emotional love of God, then the whole world will follow you and there will be no more problems.” Note that Prabhupada said emotional love of God. This is not some dry, impersonal thing. We’re trying to develop our feelings of love for Krishna. So these songs of Narottama are very, very wonderful to help us do that.
While we are passing out the songbooks we can discuss the meaning of the lyrics here. The one disadvantage we have of being English-speaking – even though it is the world language now – is that we can’t really understand the Bengali right off the bat. Yet the Bengali is so incredibly beautiful. Narottama is saying, “When will that opportune moment come to me when I shiver upon chanting the name of Lord Gauranga?” He is hankering to shiver in ecstasy, calling out “Gauranga!” And then he says, “When will I cry while chanting Hare Krishna? When will the tears come flowing down my face? When will I chant and actually see tears of love?” Lord Caitanya also prayed that way: “When will my eyes be decorated with tears of love?”
So notice in these songs: What is the most common word? When. He’s not saying, “Oh, now I have love of Krishna; my body is shivering in ecstasy chanting ‘Guaranga’; the tears are flowing from my eyes” – no, he’s not. He’s saying “when, when, when” - kabe, kabe, kabe - like that other song, Kabe Ha’be Bolo Se-Dina Amar . . .
And then look at the next line: in the second verse, he says, “When will I receive the causeless mercy of Lord Nityananda, so then my desires for material enjoyment become insignificant?” In other words, you cannot do that on your own. You cannot get rid of the visaya, or that material desire, that desire for sense enjoyment, simply by your strength. We were discussing previously that one requires the mercy of Guru. One requires the mercy of Lord Nityananda. We have to beg for that mercy, because by that mercy, then, we can actually become free of all these rascal desires – the lusty desires, the angry desires, the envious desires, the greedy desires – all that crud can be cleared out by the mercy of Lord Nityananda.
And then he says, “When will my mind become purified of material desires and anxieties so that I can understand Vrindavana?” Actually, when you become completely free, you not only understand Vrindavana, but you’re actually living in Vrindavana. When you become that suddha ha’be mana – when your mind becomes completely purified - actually you can live in Vrindavana at every minute wherever you are. That’s why it is stated that the pure devotee carries Vrindavana with him - that wherever he goes, that place becomes Vrindavana. We experienced that when Prabhupada was here. It didn’t matter where we were with Prabhupada: we were in Vrindavana. We could be in the San Francisco airport; we could be anywhere and it was Vrindavana because Prabhupada carried Vrindavana with him wherever he went. So if we can come to this point of pure devotional service, then we’ll be living in Vrindavana wherever we go and we’ll be able to manifest Vrindavana wherever we are. So in this verse Narottama is saying, “When will I reach that state of consciousness where my mind is completely pure of all material crud, when all desires are gone and I can understand and actually enter into Vrindavana?” That’s the purport.
And then in the next two verses he gives his respects to the six Goswamis:
He’s wanting to understand that love of Radha-Krishna. This is the perfection: to be able to purely worship the rasa-lila, the Krishna pastime of the rasa dance. To be able to worship and meditate upon that in pure love is a very high platform. And how is that achieved? By studying the books left by the Goswamis. So see how important it is to study. This seminar we are having right now is based on Rupa Goswami’s writings. This studying we are doing right now will enable us to understand that conjugal love of Radha-Krishna, and to actually serve those eternal pastimes of Radha-Krishna nitya-lila.
And finally, in the conclusion, Narottama is saying, “These Goswamis are my only shelter, and I am feeling separation from them.” The prarthana, this prayer of separation is there. This is a very important mood: the feeling of separation. Bhaktivinode is also talking like that in Kabe Ha’be Bolo Se-Dina Amar : “When my offenses ceasing, taste for the name increasing, when in my heart will your mercy shine?”
kabe ha’be bolo se-dina
See how he’s always hankering, “When will I achieve pure devotional service?” In other words, “When will I get out of this nonsensical, compromised position of ‘a little bhakti, a little maya-sakti’? You see? Hankering: “When will I get out of it? I’m just torturing myself!”
So let us sing this now. Try to sing it with the intense feeling of hankering for pure bhakti - not just singing it to make beautiful music. It’s the most beautiful song - this is a melody based on the way I heard Prabhupada sing it on a tape - but try to sing it to penetrate through all the crud and enter into that mood of pure devotional service. It’s not so much what we do, but how we do it that makes or breaks us in devotional service.
“guaranga” bolite ha’be
ara kabe nitai-cander
visaya chadiya kabe
suddha ha’be mana
rahu mora asa
So if we meditate on the wonderful, sweet mood of Narottama das Thakur, and try to have that mood with us while we’re doing our service, whatever we may be doing – cleaning the dishes, cooking, preaching, collecting money, taking care of family duties – whatever we do, if we try to connect it to Krishna in this mood of Narottama, then it will just get sweeter and sweeter. The deeper we go, the sweeter it gets. That’s one bullet-point on devotional service: the deeper you go, the sweeter it gets. We should try to cultivate spiritual depth more and more and more. The deeper you go, the sweeter it gets.
So what is that depth of devotional service? It means this mood of Narottama. He’s showing us what the mood of going deeply into bhakti spirit is. This is the perfection of yoga. This is the icing on the yoga cake. This is what it’s all about – it culminates in bhakti. Everything culminates in bhakti.
We’ve about come to our halfway point now. Are there any questions over our discussion so far of these most important topics?
This is the most important information you can ever hear. Why? Because this saves us. Just imagine you’re in an apartment building, or a hotel, for example. You’re on the fifth floor; you just took rest, and all of the sudden you wake up and you hear sirens going off – “fire, fire, fire!” Your room is filled with smoke; you’re terrified. But through the smoke you hear someone calling, “Is there anybody up there on the fifth floor? Come to the balcony! Even though you can’t see us, we’re standing five floors down with a net here to catch you!” In that situation, you would listen pretty carefully, wouldn’t you? You can’t see anything; it’s dark; there’s smoke everywhere – so you just follow the voice: “Come to where we’re speaking from - follow the sound vibration; come to the balcony and get yourself straight off the balcony, straight down – a little bit out, then down, and we’ll catch you!” How carefully you would hear! These topics of pure devotional service are like that. That’s why when we see that someone is falling asleep we give them a little clap of the hands . . . because this is the most important thing: that we can wake up, come out of this sleep of Maya, and come into pure devotional service. Then we really taste the nectar.
Those people who are advanced in Krishna consciousness, who are actively cultivating pure devotional service on a daily basis, will never leave Krishna consciousness. I’ve been in this movement since 1971, and for the last 30 years we’ve seen people coming and going as if it were Grand Central Station. They come and they go. We’ve had people come and become big, big GBC’s, big gurus, big sannyasis – people of all descriptions have come and they’ve gone. Why? Because Krishna consciousness is not nectar? No. Because they weren’t cultivating pure devotional service, that’s why. They were cultivating something else – name and fame, profit, adoration and distinction. If you want to become permanently fixed in Krishna consciousness, become very, very serious for pure devotional service.
What are the symptoms of jnana-misra bhakti?
Mental speculation, simply put. We see that tendency. Prabhupada has given us everything, the whole philosophy; then somebody will think, “Oh, I’m going to read some other books; Prabhupada has his opinion, but there are other opinions also” – that means it’s jnana-misra bhakti. Prabhupada has the most profound realization of Vaisnava siddhanta. Other Vaisnavas disagree with Prabhupada sometimes. They will lure people away from ISKCON and will present some siddhanta different from what Prabhupada is presenting. When we become attracted by that, it’s jnana-misra bhakti. Prabhupada is undoubtedly the greatest, most realized acarya in history. What he has done, no one has ever done. Who else has distributed Krishna bhakti all over the world? No one! No one could do such a thing; no one even dreamed of doing such a thing. Prabhupada has the most profound realization of any acarya in the history of the world.
What we are reading in Prabhupada’s books we should take as gospel, every single word. Prabhupada’s purports and everything he is giving we should just take it as the highest truth, gospel truth. When we want to start speculating – “Well, Prabhupada was saying this because we needed to be encouraged; he didn’t really mean it exactly like he said it” – that’s jnana-misra bhakti. You may be doing devotional service, but you’re speculating, “What did Prabhupada really mean when he said this? He didn’t really mean it literally; he really meant something else” – that’s jnana-misra, mixing in mental speculation. But no: as devotees in pure bhakti, we simply take what our spiritual master has told us. Whatever our founder-acarya spiritual master has told us we accept as absolute – we accept that Krishna has dictated from within Prabhupada’s heart every single word of his purports, so we take them literally as he is giving them to us. That’s the mood of pure bhakti. We have to do everything in the spirit of pure bhakti.
Questions more? Yes.
How do we cultivate pure devotion in our daily lives?
This is a very nice question. Well, we have to remember. First thing when we get up in the morning – we offer our obeisances, we say Hare Krishna, we take our morning bath, we put on tilaka and devotional clothes – we should remember why we are doing all this. Every morning you wake up, you should remember, “Why did I join this Hare Krishna movement? Am I doing these things just because my leaders tell me to do this?” If we’re in that mood, we’re just like cult members. Even though you’re doing this because your guru told you, you should consider: why did you even accept a guru? We have to remember why we’re doing these things. We can’t lose sight of the goal: the goal is to achieve pure devotional service. That’s the ultimate reason we’re doing all these things.
So with whatever we are doing, we have to remember why we are doing it. Why am I coming to Mangal Arati? Why am I taking darsan of Radha-Gokulananda? Because I’m trying to develop feelings of love for Krishna. Why am I chanting Hare Krishna? Because I’m trying to purify my heart of all the contamination, so I can become completely pure. We’re already doing the activities. By acting 24 hours under the order of our spiritual master, we’re already doing all the right activities externally; but it’s up to us now to see that mentally, internally, we are fully absorbed also - not that we’re merely going through the motions of being a devotee while our minds are thinking about something else, sense gratification. We have to cultivate the pure bhakti mood of wanting to completely free our hearts from all the anarthas, of wanting to achieve the ultimate goal of Krishna prema.
There are those nine different steps of pure devotional service given by our acaryas. The first is that we have faith in the process of Krishna consciousness. The second is that we associate with the devotees. You think, “Well, here are people who are practicing Krishna consciousness; let me associate with them.” That’s called sadhu-sangha – step number two. Step number three is called bhajana-kriya. That is, we take up the practical activities of devotional service. We saw what the sadhus and the devotees were doing, so now we will also do it. That means I get initiated, I rise early, I put on tilaka, I dress in devotional clothing, I chant japa-mala, I offer my food, I study the scriptures; I follow all the regulated activities of Krishna consciousness. That’s bhajana-kriya.
And then what happens? Then, when I do that on a regular, daily basis – when I’m devoted to that process of sadhana – then comes anartha-navrtti: the dirt begins to be washed away. All that crud goes away. And then when the crud goes away, the most wonderful thing happens: you become a fixed-up devotee - solid; nista. You become fixed in Krishna consciousness, where nothing can shake you anymore. People can say, “Oh, your crazy; Krishna’s just a myth”- and it doesn’t faze you, because you’re fixed. You just feel sorry for the poor fools. In the beginning, you may get a bit agitated – “Maybe Krishna is a myth – what if He is a myth?” Actually Prabhupada told us that maybe we were still thinking that this is a myth. In L.A. he said, “Yes, Krishna lifted Govardhana Hill; you are thinking, ‘Maybe.’” Prabhupada knew the dirt in our hearts. So by those anarthas going away we gradually reach a point where it is very solid – you become nista, a‘fixed-up’ devotee. ‘Fixed up’ – that’s one of those old ISKCON-isms, part of the old ISKCON lingo. ‘Fixed-up’ devotee’ . . . it’s like we used to say ‘blooped’ – “he blooped, but now he’s fixed up.” The real meaning of ‘fixed up’ is nista, to be on the fixed-up platform.
Once you’re fixed up, then what happens? Ohhh . . . then you get the sweetest nectar, a gulab jamun at every minute. This is called ruci, where you’re relishing everything you’re doing at every minute, no matter what it is. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing for Krishna! You could be chanting in a kirtan, you could be cleaning the toilet for Krishna – and getting ruci from cleaning Krishna’s toilet! It doesn’t matter what service you’re given; you relish it like anything. “Wow! I get to serve Krishna! I get to serve Prabhupada! I get to serve my Guru Maharaja! Wow – what nectar!” That’s called ruci.
And what’s the next stage? Ah, that’s called asakti. Not only do you taste the sweetest nectar; you become addicted to it! You can’t live without that nectar for a second. If the kirtan stops, it’s like somebody pulled a rug out from under the universe! That’s asakti - you become absolutely addicted to Krishna consciousness. You can’t bear being separated from Krishna consciousness for a second! If for one second you are separated from Krishna consciousness it is like twelve years or more. If some lusty thought comes into your brain, it’s the most horrible, painful thing you could ever conceive of. If some lusty thought enters your brain for even a second it’s like a dagger going into your heart, because you’re absolutely addicted to Krishna consciousness. It’s just like a heroin addict who will do anything to get his next fix of heroin – steal, rob, murder – anything at all, no matter what, to get his next fix of heroin. The devotee becomes so addicted to the holy name he’ll do anything. What does Bhaktivinode say? “I will beg, borrow or steal the nectar of the name; by the name’s affect I will feel paralyzed.” That’s what Bhaktivinode says in Kabe Ha’be Bolo Se-Dina Amar. “When, oh when will that day be mine?” He doesn’t care if he has to rob the U.S. Treasury to get the nectar of the name - whatever it takes! Of course, I’m not literally saying that we should go rob banks; that’s just the point I’m making.
What comes after asakti? Bhava – volcanic eruptions of ecstasy within the heart. Narottama is actually talking about bhava here: when the body shivers upon chanting Gauranaga’s name; when the face becomes decorated with tears of love flowing constantly while chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. And then finally we have prema: everything becomes revealed, and you revive your eternal relationship with Krishna in the spiritual world. You become re-established in your eternal rasa with Krishna.
So that’s why you’re doing all this: You want to revive your lost relationship with Krishna. You are His dear child! You have an eternal, unique relationship that is shared only between you and Krishna. It’s not that there are just five different things. We have five primary rasas, but actually there are unlimited varieties of rasa. You have a unique relationship with Krishna that is your rasa, and only your rasa. And Krishna wants to reciprocate that rasa with you unlimitedly at every moment - but somehow or other you were foolishly thinking that there’s a better deal somewhere else.
So now, by the mercy of Guru and Krishna, you’ve gotten that method of reviving your eternal relationship with the Lord. So you have to realize, “Why am I doing this?” That’s why we’re having these seminars – so you can understand why you are engaged in this Krishna consciousness movement. With that knowledge, you can become fired up, enthusiastic. It doesn’t matter what’s going on around you: if you have this knowledge, you will be fired up to practice Krishna consciousness come hell or high water. It doesn’t matter what’s going on externally.
Look what Prabhupada had to deal with. Prabhupada was in a situation in which all his godbrothers were criticizing him. He was being criticized by his godbrothers. He had no one who was encouraging him with his service . . . He had no material facility, no asram to stay in, no money; all he had was the order of Bhaktisiddhanta: “You preach this Krishna consciousness to the English-speaking world.” That’s all he had: the order of Guru Maharaja. Nothing else. He had no encouragement from devotees; he had envious godbrothers who were discouraging him. All he had was that order, yet Prabhupada was super-fired up and enthusiastic. Even after two heart attacks he didn’t lose his enthusiasm! So this is a very important thing: that we always keep this enthusiasm. And we will keep this enthusiasm by always remembering, “Why am I doing this? Why am I doing all these activities - picking up my beadbag, going to the temple room, putting on tilaka? I’m doing all of these things so that I can revive my pure devotional service, my lost, loving relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
If we have a good friend in Europe, and we see a possibility for this friend to become Krishna conscious . . .
Referring to the example of calling the friend in Europe . . . so you’re saying if you have a friend in Europe, can you make him a devotee?
You can call - call him on the phone . . . ?
Is this just a practical question? It’s kind of off the subject, but actually we can fit it into the subject: Is it okay to call a friend in Europe if you can make him a devotee by calling him on the phone?
Or you can go there . . . ?
Well, the thing is, we act under our authority. This is how Prabhupada trained me – not to act independently. Of course you can say, “Well, I’m better off just acting as a freewheeling preacher, going however my fancy moves me” but that would not make our movement successful. The successful way to become Krishna conscious and to spread Krishna consciousness is to work together cooperatively. So Prabhupada gave us a structure under which we could do that - namely, the Hare Krishna movement, which has a governing body commission, the GBC; which has temple presidents; which has persons within the temple also under whom we work. So with these practical matters – “Is it okay for me to take a side trip to Europe?”- just clear that with your own temple authorities. Prabhupada personally told me in one letter, “Do whatever the temple authority says, without question.” Whether it’s right or wrong – just do it.
So here you have a Daivir Prabhu; you want to know if it’s okay if you make a little preaching expedition to Europe, to try to rescue a friend from the cycle of birth and death. If he blesses you, then you have full blessings. In this way we have to work cooperatively; and that will give us potency. You may say, “Well, I’m restricted”, but you’re not. By agreeing to work under the authority structure that Prabhupada gave us, what happens? We get Prabhupada’s sakti! We get this by cooperating with Prabhupada’s system, by working together in the movement that he created. If you become completely surrendered to that, then Prabhupada gives you his full sakti for preaching. So that way, you can be really effective and potent. But if we try to go independently, then we won’t have so much potency.
In India, from south to north, we go from place to place, traveling around and around . . .
Well, we have plenty of facility right here in Hillsborough for preaching. We don’t have to go to India to preach, or to Europe; we can preach right here.
Well, in this country, there are lots of people, and they come around all the time . . . But if you say there is no reason to go to different parts, what is the structure in this kind of policy that we are expected to follow?
This is not exactly within our topic. We’re dealing with a practical topic in pure devotional service – this is a seminar on that topic. So any questions that are not directly related to this I will be very happy to answer after the class. We can have a one-on-one session. This doesn’t sound to me like it’s directly related to the topic.
. . . I do not understand; therefore I have this question.
[addressing another devotee in audience] Do you understand his question?
He’s just asking why, for instance, people from Russia are coming here – why people from all different countries are preaching here, instead of preaching where they are? Is it better to be in just one place for the year, and then go someplace else . . . ?
Yes – these questions are not really relevant to a seminar on pure devotional service. They are relevant questions, but not for this seminar. I would be very happy to address these questions individually, but they’re not relevant to this seminar. We’re talking about pure devotional service, not ISKCON management. Those are managerial questions – and they’re valid – but this is a seminar on pure devotional service. If we take those questions, we will go off the topic of the seminar, which I don’t want to do.
Where do we find that balance between trying to work out the impurities in our heart and becoming too self-absorbed in our impurities – to the point that it distracts us from our practical activities?
Someone may think, “Well, I’m going to get rid of all my impurities; I’m just going to sit down and chant 64 rounds a day, and if the authorities ask me to do some service, I’m just going to say I’m just working on getting rid of my impurities.” I remember this point from when I was a young bhakta in the Austin temple. The temple president made a very poignant point in this regard. He said, “You’re chanting the Hare Krishna mantra; you’re begging Krishna that you can be engaged in service – then when the service comes, you don’t want it.” So actually, practical devotional service and association of devotees is the most powerful way to become purified very quickly. Therefore, we have our prescribed time in the morning when we do our sadhana; we fine-tune the consciousness then. But then, throughout the day, we engage in practical activities, working together cooperatively. We have to understand that the way that we can easily and quickly get over our anarthas is by working together cooperatively to make this movement successful. That’s the easy way to become a pure devotee: just work together cooperatively to make the movement a success.
Both parts go hand in hand, actually. If you’re purely chanting the holy name you will be absolutely enlivened and enthusiastic to do service; and if you’re enthusiastically absorbed in doing service, whenever you chant Hare Krishna you’ll be able to do it with great intensity – with great feeling! If you try to escape doing practical service in the name of sadhana, your sadhana will stink! Krishna won’t accept it – it will be rotten sadhana! He won’t accept your show of being a devotee. Bhaktisiddhanta has that famous bhajana: “My dear mind, what kind of rascal are you? You want to chant Hare Krishna in some solitary place so that you will be worshipped by the villagers as a great sadhu.”
So the real fact is that if we want to become pure devotees, the way to do that is to become very, very active in making this movement successful. This movement is meant to revolutionize the entire world society; so we should take up that revolutionary mood of making this project, New Goloka Dham, so successful that millions and billions of people will want to come here and serve this project - so that everyone in the entire states of North Carolina and Virginia will come, so that this will become a mecca for practically everybody in this whole part of the country. That’s how we have to think.
We shouldn’t think ‘small time’. We should think ‘big time’. That’s why Prabhupada like Tamal Krishna so much – he always thought ‘big.’ Vishnujana Maharaja had a Radha-Damodara party with one bus and five or six brahmacaris; Tamal Krishna Maharaja joined the Radha-Damodara party and had a whole fleet of buses, with hundreds of brahmacaris. So this is what Prabhupada wants: he wants us to think big, of how we can expand this movement. What did he tell us in Australia? He said, “I have done ten times more than my Guru Maharaja; now you must do ten times more than me.” So we have our orders from Prabhupada to expand this movement extensively, to every town and village – every home should have Prabhupada’s books. So we can’t just sit on our laurels and think, “I just want to purify my heart.” No. We will purify our hearts by full absorption in this sankirtan yajna which is spreading Krishna consciousness to every man, woman and child on the face of this planet. That’s how we’ll actually become pure devotees. Not by some so-called bhajana – nirjana bhajana, solitary Krishna consciousness.
There are two types of devotees: there are gosthi-anandi and bhajan-anandi. Gosthi-anandi means one who is actively preaching Krishna consciousness. As Krishna confirms in his verse in the Gita, those who are actively preaching are the ones who achieve pure devotional service. That’s the way to do it. We cannot do it by just nirjana bhajana, solitary bhajana. There was one disciple of Prabhupada who wanted to go and do some nirjana bhajana at Radha Kunda. But he is not living in Radha Kunda; he is living in nada-kunda, or hell. So if someone is thinking that they will just go away from the society of devotees, and cultivate Krishna consciousness on their own, do you see what happens to them? They start listening to mundane music and engaging in all kinds of mundane activities after some time. They don’t keep their pure krsna katha going 24 hours a day.
We need each other. To be strong in Krishna consciousness, we need each other. One stick can easily be broken; a bundle of sticks, you cannot break. As they say, the family that chants Hare Krishna together stays together. So we have to be together as a spiritual family. Prahupada says this is one of the items of surrender to Krishna: to become a member of a spiritual family. As you know, the first offense against the holy name is to be offensive to the devotees. So that means, the first principle of chanting the holy name properly is to have nice relationships with Vaisnavas . . .
And the third item is disobeying Guru’s orders; so we have to have a spiritual master also. We have to be surrendered to Guru and we have to have nice, loving relationships with devotees. This is how we become fixed in Krishna consciousness. To the extent that we can purely love and serve the devotees, to that extent we are advancing in Krishna consciousness. If we’re thinking, “Oh, I’m very pure and very advanced” and we’re treating the devotees roughly, then we’re simply deluding ourselves. That person is advanced who can give his love unconditionally to everyone. That person is advanced in Krishna consciousness.
There’s a nice verse in this connection. This is a very nice purport – Srimad Bhagavatam 5:18:9 – one of the absolutely best of them all. This is how we can actually become pure, Krishna-conscious persons – by taking this mood, the sankirtan spirit of working together to make this movement a success.
svasty astu visvasya
“May there be good fortune throughout the universe, and may all envious persons be pacified. May all living entities become calm by practicing bhakti-yoga, for by accepting devotional service they will think of each other’s welfare. Therefore let us all engage in the service of the supreme transcendence, Lord Sri Krishna, and always remain absorbed in thought of Him.”
Then Prabhupada gives the purport. He says, “The following verse describes the Vaisnava:
“Just like a desire tree, a Vaisnava can fulfill the desires of anyone who takes shelter of his lotus feet. Prahlada Maharaja is a typical Vaisnava. He prays not for himself, but for all living entities – the gentle, the envious and the mischievous.”
So if you want to be actually a pure, Krishna-conscious person you have to think about everyone’s welfare, especially that of the other devotees. Especially you have to think about the welfare of all the devotees. If you neglect the devotees and think you are making advancement, forget it. That’s delusion only.
Prabhupada continues: “He always thought of the welfare of mischievous persons like his father, Hiranyakasipu. Prahlada Maharaja did not ask for anything for himself; rather, he prayed for the Lord to excuse his demoniac father. This is the attitude of a Vaisnava, who always thinks of the welfare of the entire universe.”
So we really have to think about the welfare of all living beings. What did Prabhupada tell Govinda dasi, when they saw one slug – one grotesque slug – crawling across the ground? He said, “Chant to the poor creature.” Prabhupada is feeling compassion for the poor slug and engaging his disciple in chanting Hare Krishna to bless the slug with the holy name. So this is called ‘Vaisnava’: one who feels compassion for all living beings.
The third-class devotee, he is called kanistha-adhikari; he only thinks about his own advancement. But when we come to the second-class platform we become concerned about how everyone can become happy. So this is very important. Someone who just wants to do his own sadhana remains a materialistic devotee. He does not become a pure devotee. The pure devotee is one who actually wants to do good for others – to see that first and foremost, all the other devotees are happy and nicely situated, blissfully absorbed in Krishna consciousness. That is required.
Prabhupada continues: “Srimad Bhagavatam and bhagavata-dharma are meant for persons who are completely free from envy (parama-nirmatsaranam). Therefore Prahlada Maharaja prays in this verse, khalah prasidatam: ‘May all the envious persons be satisfied.’ The material world is full of envious persons, but if one frees himself of envy, he becomes liberal in his social dealings and can think of others’ welfare.”
So here’s a real barometer of how you can tell if someone is an envious person: One who is envious is not able to work for others’ benefit. He can only work for his own benefit. But a non-envious person can work for the benefit of all others. So we have to see how much we are willing to lay aside our own thoughts of comfort and work to make others happy. That’s the degree to which we are free of envy. That’s the degree to which we are pure. Bhaktivinode is praying in the last verse of his song Kabe Ha’be Bolo Se-Dina Amar, “When will I become free of all personal desires of comfort and simply head out on the mission of giving Krishna consciousness to everyone? When will that day be mine?” So we have to hanker to come to that mood where we are always thinking about how other people can be benefited with Krishna consciousness.
Prabhupada continues: “Anyone who takes up Krishna consciousness and engages himself completely in the service of the Lord cleanses his mind of all envy (manas ca bhadram bhajatad adhoksaje). Therefore we should pray to Lord Nrsimhadeva to sit in our hearts. We should pray, bahir nrsimho hrdaye nrsimho: “Let Lord Nrsimhadeva sit in the core of my heart, killing all my bad propensities. Let my mind become clean so that I may peacefully worship the Lord and bring peace to the entire world.”
So each and every one of us should be thinking, “How can I bring peace to the entire world?” That means that if somehow every other devotee in ISKCON went back to Godhead and you were the only one left on the planet – if you were the only devotee left on the planet, you would be thinking, “How can I make the whole world Krishna conscious? Please, Prabhupada; please, Guru Maharaja; please, Vaisnavas – bless me that I can do this” - because this is what Prabhupada is saying should be the mood. He is saying that we should pray like this: to let our hearts become clean so we can peacefully worship the Lord and bring peace to the entire world. Every one of us should be thinking like that – not “how can I make my own nice, comfortable nest.” As Prabhupada told one gentleman, “Do not seek security: seek opportunity.” So what greater opportunity is there than to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world? To be recognized by Krishna; to be recognized by the acaryas – to give Krishna consciousness to everyone we meet! To be in that mood of “how can I give this person Krishna consciousness?” Even when we go to the grocery store we can say “Hare Krishna” to the checkout person. Always see how you can introduce Krishna consciousness everywhere you go.
Are there any more questions? Yes.
We begin our sadhana as kanistha-adhikari. If we are not purified, it leaves the question of saving others - that is, if we don’t have purity, it brings up this issue in light of what Prabhupada says, that one must save oneself first . . .
So may I ask you a question: Does that mean, then, that I will continue doing my nirjana-bhajana – solitary devotional service – until that day when I become an uttama-adhikari, and then I will preach to others? No. It means that this preaching process of spreading Krishna consciousness is itself the purification process, along with our personal sadhana. Of course, we preach according to our position. We don’t artificially pose ourselves as highly advanced personalities. We honestly preach from whatever level of advancement we have. But we must take up spreading Krishna consciousness. Even if you don’t know anything, you can give someone a book. That’s why Prabhupada has given us this wonderful opportunity to distribute books. We may be contaminated – we are contaminated – but Prabhupada’s books are absolutely pure. So we must take up this preaching mission as soon as possible. We engage everyone in assisting this movement. If nothing else they can give some money, to contribute; if they’re too busy with their household affairs they can give some donation to help the preaching activities continue.
So one shouldn’t think, “Well, I have to become pure before I can give Krishna consciousness to others.” No, everyone should try to take up the sankirtan spirit of spreading this Krishna consciousness movement. Everyone. Everyone should be in that mood. It’s just like they have this ‘weekend warriors’ program now, where the members of the temple, even those who are not initiated, go out on weekends and set up a book table at different locations in the community to distribute Prabhupada’s books and tell people about how wonderful this process of Krishna consciousness is. We’re all meant to take up preaching activities.
Oh, now that’s a very valid point. We have to ourselves be ideal examples of Krishna consciousness. If I tell you, “Stop smoking!” while I take a puff from a cigarette, what is the value? “You shouldn’t smoke; it’s bad for you – well, I’ve got a bad habit; what can I do? But you shouldn’t smoke.” It’s like the parents saying to their kids, “You shouldn’t smoke” – while they’re smoking cigarettes. There’s no potency there. So the fact is that we have to become pure in our own practice of Krishna consciousness. We have to strictly follow these principles: no illicit sex, no meat-eating, no intoxication, no gambling. We have to ourselves be strictly following this process of Krishna consciousness. Individual purification is extremely important. Our own individual sadhana is extremely important, because that means we are actually following the process as it is given by the acaryas. And, as Prabhupada explains, “Physician, heal thyself.” Unless we are healed, how can we heal others?
So we absolutely do have to keep that focus on our own personal sadhana while we are engaged in the activities of pushing forward this movement. Both things have to be going on simultaneously – externally and internally. Bahir nrsimho hrdaye nrsimho. Bahir nrsimho means externally: spreading Krishna consciousness by participating in ISKCON’s work. Hrdaye nrsimho means our own, internal cultivation. Both are going on simultaneously. And the way we sing it, we sing bahir – externally – first, and then hrdaye, internally. Externally Nrsimha, internally Nrsimha is the order in which it comes – every morning we beg to that. So bahir means the external plane, pushing forward Krishna consciousness all over the world; and hrdaye means cultivating pure bhakti within your own heart. You can’t neglect either one of them – “well, I like hrdaye nrsimho but I don’t like bahir nrsimho” – no. Or “I like bahir nrsimho but I don’t like hrdaye nrsimho” – no. It must be both: externally Nrsimha and internally Nrsimha; Krishna consciousness being pushed forward all over the world, working together under Prabhapada’s orders, and internally cultivating our own love for Krishna.
Both things must go on simultaneously. If you do one without the other, I will guarantee you, you will not become a pure devotee. If you neglect either one of them you will not become a pure devotee. For instance, there was one devotee who was very good at distributing books and organizing book distribution – but he refused to chant his japa. He didn’t like it; he liked the external activities of organizing a book-distribution party. And Prabhupada accepted his service, but this devotee fell down from that service because he was not making strong internal cultivation, hrdaye nrsimha. And too, we see people who just want to do the internal part – “I don’t want to do any external ISKCON activities; I just want to chant, to purify my heart.” There was one devotee, actually, who had been analyzed as having a terminal disease; so one year at the Mayapur festival Prabhupada agreed to give him babaji initiation – we actually had an intiated babaji. So he was just sitting in Mayapur doing no service, only chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna . . . But then he found out that he was not terminally diseased after all, so he blooped to go back and enjoy the material world. So he was trying to do just hrdaye nrsimha – he even had Prabhupada’s blessings just to do hrdaye nrsimha, but none of the bahir nrsimha – and he fell down from Krishna consciousness. So we see that both people – those who just want to do bahir with no hrdaye, and those who want to do hrdaye with no bahir – both fall down. The train runs on two tracks: bahir nrsimha and hrdaye nrsimha. Both must be going on – the internal and the external Krishna consciousness. Then you will be solidly situated. Bahir nrsimho hrydaye nrsimho . . . every morning now when we sing the Nrsimha prayers you can remember this. This is very significant. Out of the whole song, Prabhupada has brought these four words to his purport, and he expanded it into this long explanation of what these four words mean.
How can one improve the preaching spirit?
Nice prasadam will help. If we cook with love and devotion and make the most wonderful, delicious bhakti-laden offerings, that in itself will inspire everyone for preaching. I remember one time when the whole temple was going out for book distribution. They needed some devotee to stay back and do the cooking and all the aratis and everything, and I was the cook. Our GBC man came to me and said that by cooking for the preachers, one gets the same benefit. If those who are cooking will cook with great love and devotion, and make the prasadam so wonderful, then the devotees who take that prasadam will become very inspired for preaching.
So that’s one thing: for the prasadam to be very nicely cooked in a bhakti spirit and honored with great love and devotion. That’s how we say the prayer, sarira avidya jal – we meditate. Prabhupada would take prasadam in a very meditative way, not just by throwing it in his mouth. Take prasadam with love and devotion; it’s an act of worship to honor prasadam. So we honor prasadam in a mood of love and devotion. Then it will create a festive atmosphere.
Everything that we’re doing is actually a festival, just like in the spiritual world, where all the speech is song and all the walking is dancing. So if we can manifest pure bhakti in everything that we’re doing, then we’ll be living in a festival at every minute. That was what I experienced with Visnujana Maharaja when he came to Austin. He was like the Pied Piper. At every moment, being with him was like a festival. Or with Bir Krishna Maharaja - every minute is a like a festival. So we take this bhakti spirit and make every minute a festival by always cultivating pure devotion, trying to please Guru and Krishna with every thought, every word, and every deed at all times, in all places and all circumstances.
When we’re tasting that much nectar, we’ll naturally want to share it - we’ll naturally be in a preaching mood. If you are enlivened in your own Krishna consciousness, then you will be naturally eager to share it with others. If you’re feeling, “Well, I don’t know; this Krishna consciousness movement is so hard; maybe I should just take a little break, have some sense gratification”, and some preaching opportunity comes, you just can’t take it because you don’t have Krishna consciousness. If you want to give Krishna you must have Krishna! How can you give something you don’t have?
So you must cultivate Krishna consciousness - intensely cultivate it - at every minute! And then when a preaching opportunity is there you’ll be ready to go, just like a transcendental Minuteman. When Paul Revere went on his famous ride shouting, “The British are coming, the British are coming!”, as soon as the farmer heard he jumped out of bed, immediately put on his trousers and boots, grabbed his muzzle, and went to fight. The people were ready because they were tired of all the tyranny and they couldn’t tolerate it anymore, so as soon as they heard that the British were coming they would immediately run to service. So when you are tasting so much Krishna consciousness yourself that you cannot tolerate to see even one person on this planet who is not Krishna conscious – it pains your heart to see one person who is not Krishna conscious – then you can preach like anything. You’ll be able to make a revolution on this planet. So just become intensely absorbed in Krishna consciousness – intensely, at every second, absorbed in Krishna consciousness – and whenever a preaching opportunity comes, you’ll jump on it. Without a delay, you’ll immediately jump on it – no one will have to tell you that you should preach to that person; you will know to act immediately: “Here’s a person who’s not Krishna conscious; let me save him! On behalf of our acaryas, let me act as an instrument so this person can be saved from his suffering condition.”
Is that all right?
What about the skills of preaching?
That will come automatically. Just imagine that you are in some foreign country and you do not speak the language. You’re passing by a movie theater, and the movie theater is packed with people. Then you notice that the building has caught on fire, but no one in the theater realizes it yet. What would you do? Would you think, “Well, too bad I don’t speak the language”? No. You would run into the building and start yelling, jumping and screaming in such a way that everybody would get the message that there is some great danger present, and that they’d better run like hell and get out of there as fast as they can. You would have had no prior skill whatsoever.
In fact, Prabhupada gives the example of a Charlie Chaplin movie. Are you familiar with the Charlie Chaplin movies? Prabhupada, as a boy, used to see the Charlie Chaplin movies. In fact one time they even had one playing on the airplane, and he enjoyed the Charlie Chaplin movie on the airplane. He laughed and he just loved it, because, he said, Charlie Chaplin had an original sense of humor, and in that way he was a manifestation of Krishna, a reminder of Krishna – Prabhupada appreciated that.
So anyway, in this one pastime Prabhupada, when he was going to London, told these six householder devotees this Charlie Chaplin story. The story was set at a ball dance, and there was an area outside of the ballroom where there were some benches. Here you saw some mischievous little children – and of course, this is a ball dance, so it means everyone is wearing these big, flowing gowns and these long-tailed tuxedos – a very highbrow affair. So these little children painted over the top of one bench with glue. Then Charlie Chaplin walked up and sat down on that bench, and when he stood back up the tail on his coat ripped. His long-tailed tuxedo was not so high class anymore - it had a big rip in it.
So Charlie Chaplin got an idea. Normally he would have been very embarrassed – how can you be at a ball dance with a big rip in your tuxedo? Everybody would be laughing . . . So what did he do? He went into the men’s room and just ripped it all the way up – all the way up to right below his shoulders. And then he went back out and took his girlfriend out to the middle of the ballroom – right smack-dab in the middle of the ballroom – and started dancing with her. Twirling, spinning – and it was so amazing that everyone just stopped dancing. They just stood and watched him, and they were all applauding at his dancing. Then what happened? All the men went and ripped their tuxedos up to the shoulder also. So even if you don’t have any skill for preaching work, just become very enthusiastic, like Charlie Chaplin. Just become very, very, very enthusiastic.
Actually, today I was thinking, “How can I preach? I’m nothing compared to Bir Krishna Goswami.” I was feeling that I’m just a dud compared to him; how can I possibly preach after his class? Everybody will just be yawning and going like this [snap, snap, snap] here in my class. What will we possibly do? I don’t have so many slokas, I don’t have so much wisdom - what is my realization compared to Bir Krishna Goswami? I’m just Nowheresville, a mercy case even to be allowed to speak in this temple. I was just feeling embarrassed – how can I possibly go? But I remembered Prabhupada told me to always be enthusiastic. And I was thinking, well, if I’m just enthusiastic then somehow Krishna will cover for me. Even though I’m thinking that I actually have no skill to preach, I know that if I am simply enthusiastic on the order of my spiritual master it will work. I still have no skill for preaching – but you see, it’s Prabhupada’s mercy; it’s Prabhupada’s sakti. Somehow or other if I’m just enthusiastic, Prabhupada will keep feeding me: “Okay, now say this; now say that.” Prabhupada just keeps feeding me everything I need. And I can keep going for a two-and-a-half-hour seminar!
It’s all by Prabhupada’s mercy, actually. That is the prayer we sing:
mukam karoti vacalam
pangum langhayate girim
yat-kripa tam aham vande
By the mercy of the spiritual master a lame man can cross over a mountain and a dumb man can give eloquent speeches! I had never had any experience speaking. Of course I did win some award for humorous speaking, but I had just memorized what some comedian had done. I took one of those 33-1/3 albums and just memorized it verbatim, and I won the speech tournament for humorous speech. But I never knew how to speak my own words. Of course, that’s the real key - I’m not speaking my own words even now. I’m speaking the words of Krishna.
But as soon as I joined the movement, when I was just a young bhakta, some speech class at the University of Texas invited me to speak. They weren’t so much interested in Krishna consciousness; they just wanted to critique my speaking ability. It was a speech class – and they thought the speech was great! And I had never really been a public speaker before. I just went and told them about Krishna consciousness and they rated me very highly on all the techniques of public speaking – and I had never studied public speaking. We had to learn how to debate at the debate tournament, but as far as giving lectures is concerned, I had never really learned how to do that.
So the point is that the skill isn’t really necessary. You simply have to carry forth - on the order of your spiritual master, on the order of Srila Prabhupada, on the order of all our great acaryas - you simply have to carry forth this message of Krishna. And do it enthusiastically! And if you do that, you will be amazed at what happens. You will go, “Wow! How did I ever say that? I never thought I had such an idea before, but Krishna gave it to me.”
I always say like this: Put yourself out on a limb for Lord Caitanya and He will cover for you. That’s what I did when I went to Turkey, and I was just amazed by the result. Put yourself out on a limb for Lord Caitanya and see the magic happen. Put yourself in a situation where you would never think you could preach about Krishna consciousness to that person, and just do it. And then watch the magic happen. It’s exciting – there’s nothing like it. It’s the supreme bliss.
During our practice of sadhana, how important is it to take the instructions of our spiritual master, or inquire from our spiritual master, [as opposed to making] some little changes, like some devotees do? Is it important to inquire from the spiritual master?
We should not change the system that has been given to us. The process of sadhana bhakti has been very carefully handed down by Krishna. So we want to keep the process as it is. We don’t want to change it. That’s very important. It’s not that we can invent some new method of doing devotional service and it will be successful. We have to take the standard method that has been handed down from our acaryas. That’s important.
How important is it . . .
We should not change the system. It has been handed down. It’s like some people say, well, we don’t need to chant on beads anymore. Some people ask me, “Do I really have to chant on the beads? Can’t I just chant 24 hours a day, all the time, whatever I’m doing? I’m chanting a lot more than 16 rounds that way. What’s the importance of chanting on beads?” But the fact is, Prabhupada specifically says: “Chant round the beads” – not that you just chant on one bead, even. “Chant round the beads.” It’s right there in Prabhupada’s books. We cannot change the system . .
If we take instruction from our spiritual master does it affect our sadhana or our practice [vs. doing it on our own]?
We might be trying to invent our own process – saying, for instance, that we don’t need to worship Deities anymore, or that we don’t need to worship Tulsi anymore, that we can do something else; or that we don’t need gurus anymore, like the ritvik people say. They say that only Prabhupada is the guru and that no one else can be the guru, only Srila Prabhupada. But Prabhupada didn’t say that; Prabhupada instructed that the new members who come to our movement were to become disciples of the disciples. So if someone says, “I want to be Prabhupada’s disciple” that’s fine; then they must follow his instruction. If you want to be Prabhupada’s disciple, we have no objection; just do it according to his instructions. His instruction is, if you want to be his disciple then become the disciple of his disciple – then you’re actually his disciple. If we say, “I want to be a disciple of Prabhupada and do it my own way”, then by not following his instruction you’re not a disciple at all. Disciple means discipline – the disciple is one who obeys the order of the spiritual master. So since Prabhupada has ordered the new members coming into the movement after his departure to be disciples of the disciples, that’s how you become a follower of Prabhupada. You’re becoming a grand-disciple now, but that’s how you become a disciple.
So we cannot invent some new system. We have to take what Prabhupada has given. He’s given us these books; he’s given us so many wonderful Prabhupada disciples, who were personally trained by him in so many ways, who can tell us their realizations, and share with us. Bir Krishna Goswami is here; there are so many wonderful devotees who have been trained directly by Srila Prabhupada and can give us enlivening information, just like I had so many personal instructions that Prabhupada gave me to show the practical application of the teachings to a particular devotee. So in this way we should take advantage of all the information that’s available to us and follow what’s coming down, not try to invent our own system.
Whatever is coming down from the previous acaryas should accepted as it is, and we should not try to change it. If we try to change it, it will lose its potency. It will just become another sectarian organization on the planet, like the Methodists and the Baptists and the Catholics, the synagogue and this and that – just one more church in a row of churches down Church Lane. We have to keep this movement pure. This movement is actually meant to spiritualize, to revolutionize the entire planet. This Krishna consciousness movement is the leading educational institution on this planet if we do it right. If we follow Prabhupada’s orders this will be the world’s leading educational institution.
In the beginning of the movement we were in this emergency state. Prabhupada knew that he only had a short period of time left on the planet and he wanted everyone to engage in Krishna’s service. So, many people were put in all kinds of different positions without training, and they needed to learn while on the job, so to speak. So on one hand we always have to depend on Krishna’s mercy to be able to speak, to be able to preach, to be successful in activities; but at the same time, it seems that it would be hard to develop as an educational movement unless our devotees have proper training . . .
That’s one reason why we are having this seminar today. The training is very important. We need training. Prabhupada instituted the Bhagavatam class for the purpose of training the members to become Krishna conscious. It was just after I joined the Society that the standard morning Bhagavatam class was introduced. Prabhupada said, “You must boil the milk until it becomes thick and sweet” – if you keep adding more and more milk, you will never get burfi. Of course he didn’t stop the expansion of the movement. That was the bahir nrsimha going on like anything. In those days people were joining the movement by the thousands. Huge numbers of people were just joining up and then being sent out to recruit more. But there was no solid training for the members themselves – “What is sadhana bhakti?”
So Prabhupada wanted a very solid program – hrdaye nrsimha, the internal cultivation; training for persons to become very, very fixed in Krishna consciousness. Because otherwise, if you keep adding numbers while there’s no purification going on, then you’re just filling up the temples with kanistha adhikaris. Now we see people who are becoming madhyama and aspiring for uttama. Prabhupada actually says in his purport that unless the spiritual master is an uttama adhikari his disciples are suffering under his insufficient guidance. So what kind of pressure is that on all of us initiating gurus that we are supposed to be uttama adhikaris? Those of us who are taking disciples now have to push ourselves at every minute. We have to just be begging Prabhupada and Krishna that we can manifest the mind, the speech and the activities of uttama adhikari at all times and in all places and situations. We have to pray for that.
We all have to come to that position. We have to come up from kanistha almost immediately to madhyama by taking up this preaching spirit. Working cooperatively as a member of this movement makes us a madhyama. Then we have to get all the dirt out of our hearts to come to the level of uttama adhikari, one who is completely purified. We all have to try to come to the uttama adhikari platform as soon as possible – the sooner the better. Why torture ourselves with all these impurities in our hearts?
Yes, training is absolutely required. Everyone should become expert at everything. That’s what Prabhupada wanted. Especially sannyasis should be expert at everything. So anyone who is taking up preaching work should become expert at everything, so they can guide everyone accordingly in what they need to be practically engaged in Krishna consciousness according to their situation, whether they be a householder living outside the temple, a brahmacari or brahmacarini living in the temple, or whatever their position. A preacher has to be expert at giving relevant, meaningful, practical advice to anyone in how they can become solidly fixed in Krishna consciousness. That expertise requires training. The practice may be there, but contrary to what is said, practice actually doesn’t make perfect - perfect practice makes perfect. In other words, if you practice things in the wrong way then you develop bad habits. So we need to be trained so that we do our practice properly.
Absolutely yes– training, training, training, training, day in and day out. We all have to be willing to submit to training. Not to say, “No, I’m advanced; no one can train me anymore”- so that when a senior devotee instructs me, I just argue with him. Training means that one has to consider oneself a fool. If Lord Caitanya can be chastised, “You are a fool!” then what is your position going to be? If you’re not thinking that you’re a fool, then you are a fool.
So I am very stupid and I am a fool . . . then can’t I use that as an excuse? “Because I am a fool” . . .
Prabhupada said, “Think yourself a fool, but don’t act like a fool.” That’s the position. You have to learn how to act like a Brahmin at all times and in all places and situations. The more we can think “I’m a fool” the more we can act as a wise person. We have to act as a wise person would act, doing everything intelligently even though we are fools - that’s the thing. I’m a fool, you’re a fool; we’re all fools. But we have to, by proper training, know what is the way that an intelligent person thinks, what is the way that an intelligent person speaks, and what is the way that an intelligent person acts, and we have to discipline ourselves to do that – even though we are fools. And that requires training. But by always thinking, speaking and acting as an intelligent person is meant to think, speak and act we will indeed become intelligent – actually intelligent. And that is called the raganuga platform, when you actually realize these things.
Now we are doing this as practice, under training. But then the day will come when we will become fully competent. There are four levels of competency: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and unconscious competence. In the beginning we are unconsciously incompetent. We’re doing everything wrong and we don’t realize it. We’re thinking, “I’m great! Why don’t they appreciate me? I’m so great, I’m so wonderful . . .” But we’re doing everything wrong. We’re unconsciously incompetent. Then we meet the devotees and they enlighten us – “actually, this is wrong, that is wrong; you’re not supposed to do this, you’re not supposed to do that, you’re supposed to be doing this” – so we become consciously incompetent: “Well, I shouldn’t be having illicit sex, I shouldn’t be smoking marijuana, I shouldn’t be doing this, I shouldn’t be eating meat – I’m still addicted, but at least I know I’m doing the wrong thing.” Then the next step is that you actually give it up. You become consciously competent. You’re focusing: “I have to do this, I have to do that, I have to avoid this.” And then finally when you become fully immersed in Krishna consciousness, when you come to pure bhakti, then automatically and spontaneously you do the right thing, without even thinking about it. You’ll always be doing the right thing; you won’t be making mistakes anymore. It’s only in our conditioned state that we make mistakes. When you come to the level of pure bhakti then there are no mistakes. That’s where we want to come. We have to get to that level of pure bhakti completely beyond the four defects of the conditioned soul.
Did you have a question?
You mentioned the importance of being intensely absorbed in Krishna consciousness. So the question is how can we achieve this intense absorption even if we are not yet fixed in Krishna consciousness, even if there are still impurities in the heart and the mind?
Whatever service you are doing, focus on it. ‘Intensity’ means ‘with focus.’ Whatever you are doing, do it first class. That’s intensity. If you’re hearing , you should hear in a very first-class way, where the mind is not wandering off. If you are speaking, you should try to do it in a first-class way, so that your audience is not falling asleep. Whatever you are doing, try to do it first class. If you’re cooking an offering, make it the nicest thing. If you’re a disciple of a spiritual master, try to be his best disciple. Whatever you are doing, do it first class.
I think it is very nice to do everything first class and try to do the best for Krishna, but should we not also try to leave space for people around us . . .
Yes, yes – it’s a very nice point you’re raising. The very best servant of Guru Maharaja is the one who can inspire everyone else to be the very best servant of Guru Maharaja. There’s your answer, because Guru Maharaja wants for all his disciples to do the very best service. So the very best servant is the one who by his service inspires everyone else to be the best servant of Guru Maharaja.
He had a question now –
I am now reading in Bhagavad-gita As It Is, and have just reached the point where Arjuna basically says, “How can I do yoga?” It seems that Prabhupada and Krishna are saying that renunciation, by not working, is not very productive – that yoga was great back then, but that even Arjuna was frustrated with it . . .
Yes, the yoga system was not practical for Arjuna to control his mind; that is true.
But how is one to work in this age of Kali and at the same time surround himself with devotees
Like working a job, you mean? When you say ‘work’, are you talking about activities in general, or working a job?
Well, both – being active in the world, and working for Krishna . . .
The key is how you purify all your work and all your activities so that you are absorbed in Krishna consciousness 24 hours a day. That direction is given by Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita [9:27]: “Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform – do that, O son of Kunti, as an offering to Me.” So everything you do has to be for the pleasure of Krishna. You have to learn the art of being introspective, to know what the proper standard of thoughts is, and to always think in such a way that is pleasing to Krishna. You have to learn what the proper standard of speech is and always speak in such a way that it is pleasing to Krishna. Likewise, you must learn what the proper standard of activities is and always act in a way that is pleasing to Krishna - whether you are at home, at the temple, at work, it doesn’t matter; the same thing applies.
Sometimes people say, “Are you a full-time devotee or a part-time devotee?” In other words, the idea is that if you’re working outside you must be part-time. But does that mean that when you go to work you’re not a devotee? No. If you’re a devotee, you’re a full-time devotee. If you’re not full-time, you’re not a devotee, period. A devotee is always a devotee, wherever he goes. Whether he’s at home or at work or at the temple, he’s always trying to think, speak and act in a way that is pleasing to Krishna. Whether he’s dealing with his boss or his coworkers or the general public or the clerk at the grocery store - - oh, Krishna! [the conch is now sounding for arati]
So we thank you all very much; you’ve been a very nice audience today. I hope that you’ve gotten some benefit, and I hope that you will take very seriously this process of pure devotional service and become a pure devotee as soon as possible. Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
Transcribed by Her Grace Labangalatika devi dasi