The Nectar Of Devotion
A summary study of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu
Dedication: TO THE SIX GOSVĀMĪS OF VṚNDĀVANA
TO THE SIX GOSVĀMĪS OF VṚNDĀVANA
lokānāṁ hita-kāriṇau tri-bhuvane mānyau śaraṇyākarau
vande rūpa-sanātanau raghu-yugau śrī-jīva-gopālakau
“I offer my respectful obeisances unto the six Gosvāmīs, namely, Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī, Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrī Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, Śrī Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī and Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, who are very expert in scrutinizingly studying all the revealed scriptures with the aim of establishing eternal religious principles for the benefit of all human beings. Thus they are honored all over the three worlds, and they are worth taking shelter of because they are absorbed in the mood of the gopīs and are engaged in the transcendental loving service of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa.”
The Nectar of Devotion is a summary study of Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, which was written in Sanskrit by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhupāda. He was the chief of the six Gosvāmīs, who were the direct disciples of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. When he first met Lord Caitanya, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhupāda was engaged as a minister in the Muhammadan government of Bengal. He and his brother Sanātana were then named Dabir Khās and Sākara Mallik respectively, and they held responsible posts as ministers of Nawab Hussain Shah. At that time, five hundred years ago, the Hindu society was very rigid, and if a member of the brāhmaṇa caste accepted the service of a Muhammadan ruler he was at once rejected from brāhmaṇa society. That was the position of the two brothers, Dabir Khās and Sākara Mallik. They belonged to the highly situated Sārasvata brāhmaṇa community, but they were ostracized due to their acceptance of ministerial posts in the government of Hussain Shah. It is the grace of Lord Caitanya that He accepted these two exalted personalities as His disciples and raised them to the position of gosvāmīs, the highest position in brahminical culture. Similarly, Lord Caitanya accepted Haridāsa Ṭhākura as His disciple, although Haridāsa happened to be born of a Muhammadan family, and Lord Caitanya later on made him the ācārya of the chanting of the holy name of the Lord: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare.
Lord Caitanya’s principle is universal. Anyone who knows the science of Kṛṣṇa and is engaged in the service of the Lord is accepted as being in a higher position than a person born in the family of a brāhmaṇa. That is the original principle accepted by all Vedic literatures, especially the Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The principle of Lord Caitanya’s movement in educating and elevating everyone to the exalted post of a gosvāmī is taught in The Nectar of Devotion.
Lord Caitanya met the two brothers Dabir Khās and Sākara Mallik in a village known as Rāmakeli in the district of Maldah, and after that meeting the brothers decided to retire from government service and join Lord Caitanya. Dabir Khāsa, who was later to become Rūpa Gosvāmī, retired from his post and collected all the money he had accumulated during his service. It is described in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta that his accumulated savings in gold coins equaled millions of dollars and filled a large boat. He divided the money in a very exemplary manner, which should be followed by devotees in particular and by humanity in general. Fifty percent of his accumulated wealth was distributed to the Kṛṣṇa conscious persons, namely, the brāhmaṇas and the Vaiṣṇavas; twenty-five percent was distributed to relatives; and twenty-five percent was kept against emergency expenditures and personal difficulties. Later on, when Sākara Mallik also proposed to retire, the Nawab was very much agitated and put him into jail. But Sākara Mallik, who was later to become Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī, took advantage of his brother’s personal money, which had been deposited with a village banker, and escaped from the prison of Hussain Shah. In this way both brothers joined Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu.
Rūpa Gosvāmī first met Lord Caitanya at Prayāga (Allahabad, India), and at the Daśāśvamedha bathing ghāṭa of that holy city the Lord instructed him continually for ten days. The Lord particularly instructed Rūpa Gosvāmī on the science of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. These teachings of Lord Caitanya to Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhupāda are narrated in our book Teachings of Lord Caitanya.
Later, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhupāda elaborated on the teachings of the Lord with profound knowledge of revealed scriptures and authoritative references from various Vedic literatures. Śrīla Śrīnivāsa Ācārya describes in his prayers to the six Gosvāmīs that they were all highly learned scholars, not only in Sanskrit but also in foreign languages such as Persian and Arabic. They very scrutinizingly studied all the Vedic scriptures in order to establish the cult of Caitanya Mahāprabhu on the authorized principles of Vedic knowledge. The present Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is also based on the authority of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhupāda. We are therefore generally known as rūpānugas, or followers in the footsteps of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhupāda. It is only for our guidance that Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī prepared his book Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, which is now presented in the form of The Nectar of Devotion. Persons engaged in the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement may take advantage of this great literature and be very solidly situated in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Bhakti means “devotional service.” Every service has some attractive feature which drives the servitor progressively on and on. Every one of us within this world is perpetually engaged in some sort of service, and the impetus for such service is the pleasure we derive from it. Driven by affection for his wife and children, a family man works day and night. A philanthropist works in the same way for love of the greater family, and a nationalist for the cause of his country and countrymen. That force that drives the philanthropist, the householder and the nationalist is called rasa, or a kind of mellow (relationship) whose taste is very sweet. Bhakti-rasa is a mellow different from the ordinary rasa enjoyed by mundane workers. Mundane workers labor very hard day and night in order to relish a certain kind of rasa, which is understood as sense gratification. The relish or taste of the mundane rasa does not long endure, and therefore mundane workers are always apt to change their position of enjoyment. A businessman is not satisfied by working the whole week; therefore, wanting a change for the weekend, he goes to a place where he tries to forget his business activities. Then, after the weekend is spent in forgetfulness, he again changes his position and resumes his actual business activities. Material engagement means accepting a particular status for some time and then changing it. This position of changing back and forth is technically known as bhoga-tyāga, which means a position of alternating sense enjoyment and renunciation. A living entity cannot steadily remain either in sense enjoyment or in renunciation. Change is going on perpetually, and we cannot be happy in either state because of our eternal constitutional position. Sense gratification does not endure for long, and it is therefore called capala-sukha, or flickering happiness. For example, an ordinary family man who works very hard day and night and is successful in giving comforts to the members of his family thereby relishes a kind of mellow, but his whole advancement of material happiness immediately terminates along with his body as soon as his life is over. Death is therefore taken as the representative of God for the atheistic class of men. The devotee realizes the presence of God by devotional service, whereas the atheist realizes the presence of God in the shape of death. At death everything is finished, and one has to begin a new chapter of life in a new situation, perhaps higher or lower than the last one. In any field of activity – political, social, national or international – the result of our actions will be finished with the end of life. That is sure.
Bhakti-rasa, however, the mellow relished in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, does not finish with the end of life. It continues perpetually and is therefore called amṛta, that which does not die but exists eternally. This is confirmed in all Vedic literatures. The Bhagavad-gītā says that a little advancement in bhakti-rasa can save the devotee from the greatest danger – that of missing the opportunity for human life. The rasas derived from our feelings in social life, in family life or in the greater family life of altruism, philanthropy, nationalism, socialism, communism, etc., do not guarantee that one’s next life will be as a human being. We prepare our next life by our actual activities in the present life. A living entity is offered a particular type of body as a result of his action in the present body. These activities are taken into account by a superior authority known as daiva, or the authority of God. This daiva is explained in the Bhagavad-gītā as the prime cause of everything, and in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is stated that a man takes his next body by daiva-netreṇa, which means by the supervision of the authority of the Supreme. In an ordinary sense, daiva is explained as “destiny.” Daiva supervision gives us a body selected from 8,400,000 forms; the choice does not depend on our selection but is awarded to us according to our destiny. If our body at present is engaged in the activities of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then it is guaranteed that we will have at least a human body in our next life. A human being engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, even if unable to complete the course of bhakti-yoga, takes birth in the higher divisions of human society so that he can automatically further his advancement in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Therefore, all bona fide activities in Kṛṣṇa consciousness are amṛta, or permanent. This is the subject matter of The Nectar of Devotion.
This eternal engagement in bhakti-rasa can be understood by a serious student upon studying The Nectar of Devotion. Adoption of bhakti-rasa, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, will immediately bring one to an auspicious life free from anxieties and will bless one with transcendental existence, thus minimizing the value of liberation. Bhakti-rasa itself is sufficient to produce a feeling of liberation because it attracts the attention of the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa. Generally, neophyte devotees are anxious to see Kṛṣṇa, or God, but God cannot be seen or known by our present, materially blunt senses. The process of devotional service as it is recommended in The Nectar of Devotion will gradually elevate one from the material condition of life to the spiritual status, wherein the devotee becomes purified of all designations. The senses can then become uncontaminated, being constantly in touch with bhakti-rasa. When the purified senses are employed in the service of the Lord, one becomes situated in bhakti-rasa life, and any action performed for the satisfaction of Kṛṣṇa in this transcendental bhakti-rasa stage of life can be relished perpetually. When one is thus engaged in devotional service, all varieties of rasas, or mellows, turn into eternity. In the beginning one is trained according to the principles of regulation under the guidance of the ācārya, or spiritual master, and gradually, when one is elevated, devotional service becomes automatic and is characterized by spontaneous eagerness to serve Kṛṣṇa. There are twelve kinds of rasas, as will be explained in this book, and by renovating our relationship with Kṛṣṇa in five primary rasas we can live eternally in full knowledge and bliss.
The basic principle of the living condition is that we have a general propensity to love someone. No one can live without loving someone else. This propensity is present in every living being. Even an animal like a tiger has this loving propensity at least in a dormant stage, and it is certainly present in the human beings. The missing point, however, is where to repose our love so that everyone can become happy. At the present moment the human society teaches one to love his country or family or his personal self, but there is no information where to repose the loving propensity so that everyone can become happy. That missing point is Kṛṣṇa, and The Nectar of Devotion teaches us how to stimulate our original love for Kṛṣṇa and how to be situated in that position where we can enjoy our blissful life.
In the primary stage a child loves his parents, then his brothers and sisters, and as he daily grows up he begins to love his family, society, community, country, nation, or even the whole human society. But the loving propensity is not satisfied even by loving all human society; that loving propensity remains imperfectly fulfilled until we know who is the supreme beloved. Our love can be fully satisfied only when it is reposed in Kṛṣṇa. This theme is the sum and substance of The Nectar of Devotion, which teaches us how to love Kṛṣṇa in five different transcendental mellows.
Our loving propensity expands just as a vibration of light or air expands, but we do not know where it ends. The Nectar of Devotion teaches us the science of loving every one of the living entities perfectly by the easy method of loving Kṛṣṇa. We have failed to create peace and harmony in human society, even by such great attempts as the United Nations, because we do not know the right method. The method is very simple, but one has to understand it with a cool head. The Nectar of Devotion teaches all men how to perform the simple and natural method of loving Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If we learn how to love Kṛṣṇa, then it is very easy to immediately and simultaneously love every living being. It is like pouring water on the root of a tree or supplying food to one’s stomach. The method of pouring water on the root of a tree or supplying foodstuffs to the stomach is universally scientific and practical, as every one of us has experienced. Everyone knows well that when we eat something, or in other words, when we put foodstuffs in the stomach, the energy created by such action is immediately distributed throughout the whole body. Similarly, when we pour water on the root, the energy thus created is immediately distributed throughout the entirety of even the largest tree. It is not possible to water the tree part by part, nor is it possible to feed the different parts of the body separately. The Nectar of Devotion will teach us how to turn the one switch that will immediately brighten everything, everywhere. One who does not know this method is missing the point of life.
As far as material necessities are concerned, the human civilization at the present moment is very much advanced in living comfortably, but still we are not happy, because we are missing the point. The material comforts of life alone are not sufficient to make us happy. The vivid example is America: The richest nation of the world, having all facilities for material comfort, is producing a class of men completely confused and frustrated in life. I am appealing herewith to such confused men to learn the art of devotional service as directed in The Nectar of Devotion, and I am sure that the fire of material existence burning within their hearts will be immediately extinguished. The root cause of our dissatisfaction is that our dormant loving propensity has not been fulfilled despite our great advancement in the materialistic way of life. The Nectar of Devotion will give us practical hints how we can live in this material world perfectly engaged in devotional service and thus fulfill all our desires in this life and the next. The Nectar of Devotion is not presented to condemn any way of materialistic life, but the attempt is to give information to religionists, philosophers and people in general how to love Kṛṣṇa. One may live without material discomfiture, but at the same time he should learn the art of loving Kṛṣṇa. At the present moment we are inventing so many ways to utilize our propensity to love, but factually we are missing the real point: Kṛṣṇa. We are watering all parts of the tree, but missing the tree’s root. We are trying to keep our body fit by all means, but we are neglecting to supply foodstuffs to the stomach. Missing Kṛṣṇa means missing one’s self also. Real self-realization and realization of Kṛṣṇa go together simultaneously. For example, seeing oneself in the morning means seeing the sunrise also; without seeing the sunshine no one can see himself. Similarly, unless one has realized Kṛṣṇa there is no question of self-realization.
The Nectar of Devotion is specifically presented for persons who are now engaged in the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. I beg to offer my sincere thanks to all my friends and disciples who are helping me to push forward the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement in the Western countries, and I beg to acknowledge, with thanks, the contribution made by my beloved disciple Śrīman Jayānanda Brahmacārī. My thanks are due as well to the directors of ISKCON Press, who have taken so much care in publishing this great literature. Hare Kṛṣṇa.
A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
13 April, 1970
3764 Watseka Ave.
Los Angeles, California
Invoking auspiciousness: Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the cause of all causes, the reservoir of all rasas, or relationships, which are called neutrality (passive adoration), servitorship, friendship, parenthood, conjugal love, comedy, compassion, fear, chivalry, ghastliness, wonder and devastation. He is the supreme attractive form, and by His universal and transcendental attractive features He has captivated all the gopīs, headed by Tārakā, Pālikā, Śyāmā, Lalitā, and, ultimately, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Let His Lordship’s grace be on us so that there may not be any hindrance in the execution of this duty of writing The Nectar of Devotion, impelled by His Divine Grace Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Prabhupāda.
Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī Prabhupāda and of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Prabhupāda, by whose inspiration I have been engaged in the matter of compiling this summary study of Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu. This is the sublime science of devotional service as propounded by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who appeared five hundred years ago in West Bengal, India, to propagate the movement of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī begins his great book by offering his respectful obeisances unto Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī, who is his elder brother and spiritual master, and he prays that Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu may be very pleasing to him. He further prays that by residing in that ocean of nectar, Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī may always feel transcendental pleasure in the service of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa.
Let us offer our respectful obeisances to all the great devotees and ācāryas (holy teachers), who are compared to sharks in the great ocean of nectar and who do not care for the various rivers of liberation. Impersonalists are very fond of merging into the Supreme, like rivers that come down and merge into the ocean. The ocean can be compared to liberation, and the rivers to all the different paths of liberation. The impersonalists are dwelling in the river water, which eventually comes to mix with the ocean. They have no information, however, that within the ocean, as within the river, there are innumerable aquatic living entities. The sharks who dwell in the ocean do not care for the rivers that are gliding down into it. The devotees eternally live in the ocean of devotional service, and they do not care for the rivers. In other words, those who are pure devotees always remain in the ocean of transcendental loving service to the Lord and have no business with the other processes, which are compared to the rivers that only gradually come to the ocean.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī prays to his spiritual master, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī, for the protection of Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu – “The Ocean of the Pure Nectar of Devotional Service” – from the argumentative logicians who unnecessarily meddle in the science of service to the Lord. He compares their arguments and logic to volcanic eruptions in the midst of the ocean. In the midst of the ocean, volcanic eruptions can do very little harm, and similarly, those who are against devotional service to the Lord and who put forward many philosophical theses about the ultimate transcendental realization cannot disturb this great ocean of devotional service.
The author of Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, very humbly submits that he is just trying to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness all over the world, although he humbly thinks himself unfit for this work. That should be the attitude of all preachers of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, following in the footsteps of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī. We should never think of ourselves as great preachers, but should always consider that we are simply instrumental to the previous ācāryas, and simply by following in their footsteps we may be able to do something for the benefit of suffering humanity.
Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu is divided into four parts, just as the ocean is sometimes divided into four parts, and there are different sections within each of these four divisions. Originally, in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, the ocean is divided like the watery ocean into east, south, west and north, while the subsections within these different divisions are called waves. As in the ocean there are always different waves, either on the eastern side, the southern side, the western side or the northern side, Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu similarly has different waves. In the first part there are four waves, the first being a general description of devotional service. The second concerns the regulative principles for executing devotional service, and the third wave, devotional service in ecstasy. In the fourth is the ultimate goal, love of God. These will be explicitly described along with their different symptoms.
The authorized descriptions of bhakti, or devotional service, following in the footsteps of previous ācāryas, can be summarized in the following statement by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī: “First-class devotional service is known by one’s tendency to be fully engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, serving the Lord favorably.” The purport is that one may also be in Kṛṣṇa consciousness unfavorably, but that cannot be counted as pure devotional service. Pure devotional service should be free from the desire for any material benefit or for sense gratification, as these desires are cultivated through fruitive activities and philosophical speculation. Generally, people are engaged in different activities to get some material profit, while most philosophers are engaged in proposing transcendental realization through volumes of word jugglery and speculation. Pure devotional service must always be free from such fruitive activities and philosophical speculations. One has to learn Kṛṣṇa consciousness, or pure devotional service, from the authorities by spontaneous loving service.
This devotional service is a sort of cultivation. It is not simply inaction for people who like to be inactive or devote their time to silent meditation. There are many different methods for people who want this, but cultivation of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is different. The particular word used by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī in this connection is anuśīlana, or cultivation by following the predecessor teachers (ācāryas). As soon as we say “cultivation,” we must refer to activity. Without activity, consciousness alone cannot help us. All activities may be divided into two classes: one class may be for achieving a certain goal, and the other may be for avoiding some unfavorable circumstance. In Sanskrit, these activities are called pravṛtti and nivṛtti – positive and negative action. There are many examples of negative action. For instance, a diseased person has to be cautious and take medicine in order to avoid some unfavorable illness.
Those who are cultivating spiritual life and executing devotional service are always engaged in activity. Such activity can be performed with the body or with the mind. Thinking, feeling and willing are all activities of the mind, and when we will to do something, the activity comes to be manifest by the gross bodily senses. Thus, in our mental activities we should always try to think of Kṛṣṇa and try to plan how to please Him, following in the footsteps of the great ācāryas and the personal spiritual master. There are activities of the body, activities of the mind and activities of speech. A Kṛṣṇa conscious person engages his words in preaching the glories of the Lord. This is called kīrtana. And by his mind a Kṛṣṇa conscious person always thinks of the activities of the Lord – as He is speaking on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra or engaging in His various pastimes in Vṛndāvana with His devotees. In this way one can always think of the activities and pastimes of the Lord. This is the mental culture of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Similarly, we can offer many services with our bodily activities. But all such activities must be in relationship with Kṛṣṇa. This relationship is established by connecting oneself with the bona fide spiritual master, who is the direct representative of Kṛṣṇa in disciplic succession. Therefore, the execution of Kṛṣṇa conscious activities with the body should be directed by the spiritual master and then performed with faith. The connection with the spiritual master is called initiation. From the date of initiation by the spiritual master, the connection between Kṛṣṇa and a person cultivating Kṛṣṇa consciousness is established. Without initiation by a bona fide spiritual master, the actual connection with Kṛṣṇa consciousness is never performed.
This cultivation of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is not material. The Lord has three general energies – namely, the external energy, the internal energy and the marginal energy. The living entities are called marginal energy, and the material cosmic manifestation is the action of the external, or material, energy. Then there is the spiritual world, which is a manifestation of the internal energy. The living entities, who are called marginal energy, perform material activities when acting under the inferior, external energy. And when they engage in activities under the internal, spiritual energy, their activities are called Kṛṣṇa conscious. This means that those who are great souls or great devotees do not act under the spell of material energy, but act instead under the protection of the spiritual energy. Any activities done in devotional service, or in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, are directly under the control of spiritual energy. In other words, energy is a sort of strength, and this strength can be spiritualized by the mercy of both the bona fide spiritual master and Kṛṣṇa.
In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta, by Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī, Lord Caitanya states that it is a fortunate person who comes in contact with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Kṛṣṇa. One who is serious about spiritual life is given by Kṛṣṇa the intelligence to come in contact with a bona fide spiritual master, and then by the grace of the spiritual master one becomes advanced in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. In this way the whole jurisdiction of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is directly under the spiritual energy – Kṛṣṇa and the spiritual master. This has nothing to do with the material world. When we speak of “Kṛṣṇa” we refer to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, along with His many expansions. He is expanded by His plenary parts and parcels, His differentiated parts and parcels and His different energies. “Kṛṣṇa,” in other words, means everything and includes everything. Generally, however, we should understand “Kṛṣṇa” to mean Kṛṣṇa and His personal expansions. Kṛṣṇa expands Himself as Baladeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Vāsudeva, Aniruddha, Pradyumna, Rāma, Nṛsiṁha and Varāha, as well as many other incarnations and innumerable Viṣṇu expansions. These are described in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam to be as numerous as the uncountable waves. So Kṛṣṇa includes all such expansions, as well as His pure devotees. In the Brahma-saṁhitā it is stated that Kṛṣṇa’s expansions are all complete in eternity, blissfulness and cognizance.
Devotional service means to prosecute Kṛṣṇa conscious activities that are favorable to the transcendental pleasure of the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa, and any activities that are not favorable to the transcendental favor of the Lord cannot be accepted as devotional service. For example, great demons like Rāvaṇa, Kaṁsa and Hiraṇyakaśipu were always thinking of Kṛṣṇa, but they were thinking of Him as their enemy. This sort of thinking cannot be accepted as bhakti, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
The impersonalists sometimes misunderstand devotional service in such a way that they divide Kṛṣṇa from His paraphernalia and pastimes. For example, the Bhagavad-gītā is spoken on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra, and the impersonalists say that although Kṛṣṇa is of interest, the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra isn’t. The devotees, however, also know that the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra by itself has nothing to do with their business, but in addition they know that “Kṛṣṇa” does not mean just Kṛṣṇa alone. He is always with His associates and paraphernalia. For instance, if someone says, “Give something to eat to the man with the weapons,” the eating process is done by the man and not by the weapons. Similarly, in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, a devotee may be interested in the paraphernalia and locations – such as the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra – that are associated with Kṛṣṇa, but he is not concerned with simply any battlefield. He is concerned with Kṛṣṇa – His speech, His instructions, etc. It is because Kṛṣṇa is there that the battlefield is so important.
This is the summary understanding of what Kṛṣṇa consciousness is. Without this understanding one is sure to misunderstand why the devotees are interested in the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra. One who is interested in Kṛṣṇa becomes interested in His different pastimes and activities.
The definition of a pure devotee, as given by Rūpa Gosvāmī in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, can be summarized thus: his service is favorable and is always in relation to Kṛṣṇa. In order to keep the purity of such Kṛṣṇa conscious activities, one must be freed from all material desires and philosophical speculation. Any desire except for the service of the Lord is called material desire. And “philosophical speculation” refers to the sort of speculation that ultimately arrives at a conclusion of voidism or impersonalism. This conclusion is useless for a Kṛṣṇa conscious person. Only rarely by philosophical speculation can one reach the conclusion of worshiping Vāsudeva, Kṛṣṇa. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā itself. The ultimate end of philosophical speculation, then, must be Kṛṣṇa, with the understanding that Kṛṣṇa is everything, the cause of all causes, and that one should therefore surrender unto Him. If this ultimate goal is reached, then philosophical advancement is favorable, but if the conclusion of philosophical speculation is voidism or impersonalism, that is not bhakti.
Karma, or fruitive activities, are sometimes understood to be ritualistic activities. There are many persons who are very much attracted by the ritualistic activities described in the Vedas. But if one becomes attracted simply to ritualistic activities without understanding Kṛṣṇa, his activities are unfavorable to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Actually, Kṛṣṇa consciousness can be based simply on hearing, chanting, remembering, etc. Described in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam are nine different processes, besides which everything done is unfavorable to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Thus, one should always be guarding against falldowns.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has also mentioned in this definition of bhakti the word jñāna-karmādi. This karmādi (fruitive work) consists of activities that are unable to help one attain to pure devotional service. Many forms of so-called renunciation are also not favorable to Kṛṣṇa conscious devotional service.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has also quoted a definition from the Nārada Pañcarātra, as follows: “One should be free from all material designations and, by Kṛṣṇa consciousness, must be cleansed of all material contamination. He should be restored to his pure identity, in which he engages his senses in the service of the proprietor of the senses.” So when our senses are engaged for the actual proprietor of the senses, that is called devotional service. In our conditional state, our senses are engaged in serving these bodily demands. When the same senses are engaged in executing the order of Kṛṣṇa, our activities are called bhakti.
As long as one identifies himself as belonging to a certain family, a certain society or a certain person, he is said to be covered with designations. When one is fully aware that he does not belong to any family, society or country, but is eternally related to Kṛṣṇa, he then realizes that his energy should be employed not in the interests of so-called family, society or country, but in the interests of Kṛṣṇa. This is purity of purpose and the platform of pure devotional service in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
CHAPTER ONE: Characteristics of Pure Devotional Service
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Third Canto, twenty-ninth chapter, verses 12 and 13, Śrīla Kapiladeva, while instructing His mother, has given the following characteristics of pure devotional service: “My dear mother, those who are My pure devotees, and 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.”
There are five kinds of liberation, namely, to become one with the Lord, to live with the Supreme Lord on the same planet, to have the same features as the Lord, to enjoy the same opulences as the Lord and to live as a companion of the Lord. A devotee, what to speak of rejecting material sense gratification, does not even want any of the five kinds of liberation. He is satisfied simply by discharging loving service to the Lord. That is the characteristic of pure devotion.
In the above statement by Kapiladeva from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the actual position of a pure devotee is described, and the primary characteristics of devotional service are also defined. Further characteristics of devotional service are described by Rūpa Gosvāmī with evidences from different scriptures. He states that there are six characteristics of pure devotional service, which are as follows:
1. Pure devotional service brings immediate relief from all kinds of material distress.
2. Pure devotional service is the beginning of all auspiciousness.
3. Pure devotional service automatically puts one in transcendental pleasure.
4. Pure devotional service is rarely achieved.
5. Those in pure devotional service deride even the conception of liberation.
6. Pure devotional service is the only means to attract Kṛṣṇa.
Kṛṣṇa is all-attractive, but pure devotional service attracts even Him. This means that pure devotional service is even transcendentally stronger than Kṛṣṇa Himself, because it is Kṛṣṇa’s internal potency.
RELIEF FROM MATERIAL DISTRESS
In Bhagavad-gītā, the Lord says that one should surrender unto Him, giving up all other engagements. The Lord also gives His word there that He will protect surrendered souls from the reactions of all sinful activities. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī says that the distresses from sinful activities are due both to the sins themselves and to sins committed in our past lives. Generally, one commits sinful activities due to ignorance. But ignorance is no excuse for evading the reaction – sinful activities. Sinful activities are of two kinds: those that are mature and those that are not mature. The sinful activities for which we are suffering at the present moment are called mature. The many sinful activities stored within us for which we have not yet suffered are considered immature. For example, a man may have committed criminal acts but not yet been arrested for them. Now, as soon as he is detected, arrest is awaiting him. Similarly, for some of our sinful activities we are awaiting distresses in the future, and for others, which are mature, we are suffering at the present moment.
In this way there is a chain of sinful activities and their concomitant distresses, and the conditioned soul is suffering life after life due to these sins. He is suffering in the present life the results of sinful activities from his past life, and he is meanwhile creating further sufferings for his future life. Mature sinful activities are exhibited if one is suffering from some chronic disease, if one is suffering from some legal implication, if one is born in a low and degraded family or if one is uneducated or very ugly.
There are many results of past sinful activities for which we are suffering at the present moment, and we may be suffering in the future due to our present sinful activities. But all of these reactions to sinful deeds can immediately be stopped if we take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. As evidence for this, Rūpa Gosvāmī quotes from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Eleventh Canto, fourteenth chapter, verse 19. This verse is in connection with Lord Kṛṣṇa’s instruction to Uddhava, where He says, “My dear Uddhava, devotional service unto Me is just like a blazing fire, which can burn into ashes unlimited fuel supplied to it.” The purport is that as the blazing fire can burn any amount of fuel to ashes, so devotional service to the Lord in Kṛṣṇa consciousness can burn up all the fuel of sinful activities. For example, in the Gītā Arjuna thought that fighting was a sinful activity, but Kṛṣṇa engaged him on the battlefield under His order, and so the fighting became devotional service. Therefore, Arjuna was not subjected to any sinful reaction.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī quotes another verse from the Third Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, thirty-third chapter, verse 6, in which Devahūti addresses her son, Kapiladeva, and says, “My dear Lord, there are nine different kinds of devotional service, beginning with hearing and chanting. Anyone who hears about Your pastimes, who chants about Your glories, who offers You obeisances, who thinks of You and, in this way, executes any of the nine kinds of devotional service – even if he is born in a family of dog-eaters [the lowest grade of mankind] – becomes immediately qualified to perform sacrifices.” As such, how is it possible that anyone actually engaged in devotional service in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness has not become purified? It is not possible. One who is engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and devotional service has without doubt become freed from all contaminations of material sinful activities. Devotional service therefore has the power to actually nullify all kinds of reactions to sinful deeds. A devotee is nevertheless always alert not to commit any sinful activities; this is his specific qualification as a devotee. Thus Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam states that by performing devotional service a person who was born even in a family of dog-eaters may become eligible to take part in the performance of the ritualistic ceremonies recommended in the Vedas. It is implicit in this statement that a person born into a family of dog-eaters is generally not fit for performing yajña, or sacrifice. The priestly caste in charge of performing these ritualistic ceremonies recommended in the Vedas is called the brāhmaṇa order. Unless one is a brāhmaṇa, he cannot perform these ceremonies.
A person is born in a brāhmaṇa family or in a family of dog-eaters due to his past activities. If a person is born in a family of dog-eaters it means that his past activities were all sinful. But if even such a person takes to the path of devotional service and begins to chant the holy names of the Lord – Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare – he is at once fit to perform the ritualistic ceremonies. This means that his sinful reactions have immediately become neutralized.
It is stated in the Padma Purāṇa that there are four kinds of effects due to sinful activities, which are listed as follows: (1) the effect that is not yet fructified, (2) the effect that is lying as seed, (3) the effect that is already mature and (4) the effect that is almost mature. It is also stated that all these four effects become immediately vanquished for those who surrender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu, and become engaged in His devotional service in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Those effects described as “almost mature” refer to the distress from which one is suffering at present, and the effects “lying as seed” are in the core of the heart, where there is a certain stock of sinful desires which are like seeds. The Sanskrit word kūṭam means that they are almost ready to produce the seed, or the effect of the seed. “An immature effect” refers to the case where the seedling has not begun. From this statement of Padma Purāṇa it is understood that material contamination is very subtle. Its beginning, its fruition and results, and how one suffers such results in the form of distress, are part of a great chain. When one catches some disease, it is often very difficult to ascertain the cause of the disease, where it originated and how it is maturing. The suffering of a disease, however, does not appear all of a sudden. It actually takes time. And as in the medical field, for precaution’s sake, the doctor injects a vaccination to prevent the growing of contamination, the practical injection to stop all the fructifications of the seeds of our sinful activities is simply engagement in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
In this connection, Śukadeva Gosvāmī speaks in the Sixth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, second chapter, verse 17, about the story of Ajāmila, who began life as a fine and dutiful brāhmaṇa but who in his young manhood became wholly corrupted by a prostitute. At the end of his wicked life, just by calling the name “Nārāyaṇa [Kṛṣṇa],” he was saved despite so much sin. Śukadeva points out that austerity, charity and the performance of ritualistic ceremonies for counteracting sinful activities are recommended processes, but that by performing them one cannot remove the sinful desire-seed from the heart, as was the case with Ajāmila in his youth. This sinful desire-seed can be removed only by achieving Kṛṣṇa consciousness. And this can be accomplished very easily by chanting the mahā-mantra, or Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, as recommended by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. In other words, unless one adopts the path of devotional service, he cannot be one-hundred-percent clean from all the reactions of sinful activities.
By performing Vedic ritualistic activities, by giving money in charity and by undergoing austerity, one can temporarily become free from the reactions of sinful activities, but at the next moment he must again become engaged in sinful activities. For example, a person suffering from venereal disease on account of excessive indulgence in sex life has to undergo some severe pain in medical treatment, and he is then cured for the time being. But because he has not been able to remove the sex desire from his heart, he must again indulge in the same thing and become a victim of the same disease. So medical treatment may give temporary relief from the distress of such venereal disease, but unless one is trained to understand that sex life is abominable, it is impossible to be saved from such repeated distress. Similarly, the ritualistic performances, charity and austerity that are recommended in the Vedas may temporarily stop one from acting in sinful ways, but as long as the heart is not clear, one will have to repeat sinful activities again and again.
Another example given in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam concerns the elephant who enters into a lake and takes a bath very seriously, cleansing his body thoroughly. Then as soon as he comes onto shore he again takes some dust from the earth and throws it over his body. Similarly, a person who is not trained in Kṛṣṇa consciousness cannot become completely free from the desire for sinful activities. Neither the yoga process nor philosophical speculations nor fruitive activities can save one from the seeds of sinful desires. Only by being engaged in devotional service can this be done.
There is another evidence in the Fourth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, twenty-second chapter, verse 39, wherein Sanat-kumāra says, “My dear King, the false ego of a human being is so strong that it keeps him in material existence as if tied up by a strong rope. Only the devotees can cut off the knot of this strong rope very easily by engaging themselves in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Others, who are not in Kṛṣṇa consciousness but who are trying to become great mystics or great ritual performers, cannot advance like the devotees. Therefore, it is the duty of everyone to engage himself in the activities of Kṛṣṇa consciousness in order to be freed from the tight knot of false ego and engagement in material activities.”
This tight knot of false ego is due to ignorance. As long as one is ignorant about his identity, he is sure to act wrongly and thereby become entangled in material contamination. This ignorance of factual knowledge can also be dissipated by Kṛṣṇa consciousness, as is confirmed in the Padma Purāṇa as follows: “Pure devotional service in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the highest enlightenment, and when such enlightenment is there, it is just like a blazing forest fire, killing all the inauspicious snakes of desire.” The example is being given in this connection that when there is a forest fire the extensive blazing automatically kills all the snakes in the forest. There are many, many snakes on the ground of the forest, and when a fire takes place, it burns the dried foliage and the snakes are immediately attacked. Animals who have four legs can flee from the fire or can at least try to flee, but the snakes are immediately killed. Similarly, the blazing fire of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is so strong that the snakes of ignorance are immediately killed.
KṚṢṆA CONSCIOUSNESS IS ALL-AUSPICIOUS
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has given a definition of auspiciousness. He says that actual auspiciousness means welfare activities for all the people of the world. At the present moment groups of people are engaged in welfare activities in terms of society, community or nation. There is even an attempt in the form of the United Nations for world-help activity. But due to the shortcomings of limited national activities, such a general mass welfare program for the whole world is not practically possible. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, however, is so nice that it can render the highest benefit to the entire human race. Everyone can be attracted by this movement, and everyone can feel the result. Therefore, Rūpa Gosvāmī and other learned scholars agree that a broad propaganda program for the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement of devotional service all over the world is the highest humanitarian welfare activity.
How the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement can attract the attention of the whole world and how each and every man can feel pleasure in this Kṛṣṇa consciousness is stated in the Padma Purāṇa as follows: “A person who is engaged in devotional service in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness is to be understood to be doing the best service to the whole world and to be pleasing everyone in the world. In addition to human society, he is pleasing even the trees and animals, because they also become attracted by such a movement.” A practical example of this was shown by Lord Caitanya when He was traveling through the forests of Jhārikhaṇḍa in central India for spreading His saṅkīrtana movement. The tigers, the elephants, the deer and all the other wild animals joined Him and were participating, in their own ways, by dancing and chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa.
Furthermore, a person engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, acting in devotional service, can develop all the good qualities that are generally found in the demigods. It is said by Śukadeva Gosvāmī in the Fifth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, eighteenth chapter, verse 12, “My dear King, persons who have unflinching faith in Kṛṣṇa and are without any duplicity can develop all the good qualities of the demigods. On account of a devotee’s high grade of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, even the demigods like to live with him, and therefore it can be understood that the qualities of the demigods have developed within his body.”
On the other hand, a person who is not in Kṛṣṇa consciousness has no good qualities. He may be highly educated from the academic point of view, but in the actual field of his activities he can be seen to be baser than the animals. Even though a person is highly educated academically, if he cannot go beyond the sphere of mental activities then he is sure to perform only material activities and thus remain impure. There are so many persons in the modern world who have been highly educated in the materialistic universities, but it is seen that they cannot take up the movement of Kṛṣṇa consciousness and develop the high qualities of the demigods.
For example, a Kṛṣṇa conscious boy, even if he is not very well educated by the university standard, can immediately give up all illicit sex life, gambling, meat-eating and intoxication, whereas those who are not in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, although very highly educated, are often drunkards, meat-eaters, sex mongers and gamblers. These are practical proofs of how a Kṛṣṇa conscious person becomes highly developed in good qualities, whereas a person who is not in Kṛṣṇa consciousness cannot do so. We experience that even a young boy in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is unattached to cinemas, nightclubs, naked dance shows, restaurants, liquor shops, etc. He becomes completely freed. He saves his valuable time from being extravagantly spent in the way of smoking, drinking, attending the theater and dancing.
One who is not in Kṛṣṇa consciousness usually cannot sit silently even for half an hour. The yoga system teaches that if you become silent you will realize that you are God. This system may be all right for materialistic persons, but how long will they be able to keep themselves silent? Artificially, they may sit down for so-called meditation, but immediately after their yogic performance they will engage themselves again in such activities as illicit sex life, gambling, meat-eating and many other nonsensical things. But a Kṛṣṇa conscious person gradually elevates himself without endeavoring for this so-called silent meditation. Simply because he is engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness he automatically gives up all this nonsense and develops a high character. One develops the highest character by becoming a pure devotee of Kṛṣṇa. The conclusion is that no one can truly have any good qualities if he is lacking Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
HAPPINESS IN KṚṢṆA CONSCIOUSNESS
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has analyzed the different sources of happiness. He has divided happiness into three categories, which are (1) happiness derived from material enjoyment, (2) happiness derived by identifying oneself with the Supreme Brahman and (3) happiness derived from Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
In the tantra-śāstra Lord Śiva speaks to his wife, Satī, in this way: “My dear wife, a person who has surrendered himself at the lotus feet of Govinda and who has thus developed pure Kṛṣṇa consciousness can be very easily awarded all the perfections desired by the impersonalists; and beyond this, he can enjoy the happiness achieved by the pure devotees.”
Happiness derived from pure devotional service is the highest, because it is eternal. The happiness derived from material perfection or understanding oneself to be Brahman is inferior because it is temporary. There is no preventing one’s falling down from material happiness, and there is even every chance of falling down from the spiritual happiness derived by identifying oneself with the impersonal Brahman.
It has been seen that great Māyāvādī (impersonalist) sannyāsīs – very highly educated and almost realized souls – may sometimes take to political activities or to social welfare activities. The reason is that they actually do not derive any ultimate transcendental happiness in the impersonal understanding and therefore must come down to the material platform and take to such mundane affairs. There are many instances, especially in India, where these Māyāvādī sannyāsīs descend to the material platform again. But a person who is fully in Kṛṣṇa consciousness will never return to any sort of material platform. However alluring and attracting they may be, he always knows that no material welfare activities can compare to the spiritual activity of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
The mystic perfections achieved by actually successful yogīs are eight in number. Aṇimā-siddhi refers to the power by which one can become so small that he can enter into a stone. Modern scientific improvements also enable us to enter into stone, because they provide for excavating so many subways, penetrating the hills, etc. So aṇimā-siddhi, the mystic perfection of trying to enter into stone, has also been achieved by material science. Similarly, all of the yoga-siddhis, or perfections, are material arts. For example, in one yoga-siddhi there is development of the power to become so light that one can float in the air or on water. That is also being performed by modern scientists. They are flying in the air, they are floating on the surface of the water, and they are traveling under the water.
After comparing all these mystic yoga-siddhis to materialistic perfections, we find that the materialistic scientists try for the same perfections. So actually there is no difference between mystic perfection and materialistic perfection. A German scholar once said that the so-called yoga perfections had already been achieved by the modern scientists, and so he was not concerned with them. He intelligently went to India to learn how he could understand his eternal relationship with the Supreme Lord by means of bhakti-yoga, devotional service.
Of course, in the categories of mystic perfection there are certain processes that the material scientists have not yet been able to develop. For instance, a mystic yogī can enter into the sun planet simply by using the rays of the sunshine. This perfection is called laghimā. Similarly, a yogī can touch the moon with his finger. Though the modern astronauts go to the moon with the help of spaceships, they undergo many difficulties, whereas a person with mystic perfection can extend his hand and touch the moon with his finger. This siddhi is called prāpti, or acquisition. With this prāpti-siddhi, not only can the perfect mystic yogī touch the moon planet, but he can extend his hand anywhere and take whatever he likes. He may be sitting thousands of miles away from a certain place, and if he likes he can take fruit from a garden there. This is prāpti-siddhi.
The modern scientists have manufactured nuclear weapons with which they can destroy an insignificant part of this planet, but by the yoga-siddhi known as īśitā one can create and destroy an entire planet simply at will. Another perfection is called vaśitā, and by this perfection one can bring anyone under his control. This is a kind of hypnotism that is almost irresistible. Sometimes it is found that a yogī who may have attained a little perfection in this vaśitā mystic power comes out among the people and speaks all sorts of nonsense, controls their minds, exploits them, takes their money and then goes away.
There is another mystic perfection, which is known as prākāmya (magic). By this prākāmya power one can achieve anything he likes. For example, one can make water enter into his eye and then again come out from within the eye. Simply by his will he can perform such wonderful activities.
The highest perfection of mystic power is called kāmāvasāyitā. This is also magic, but whereas the prākāmya power acts to create wonderful effects within the scope of nature, kāmāvasāyitā permits one to contradict nature – in other words, to do the impossible. Of course, one can derive great amounts of temporary happiness by achieving such yogic materialistic perfections.
Foolishly, people who are enamored of the glimmer of modern materialistic advancement are thinking that the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is for less intelligent men. “I am better off being busy with my material comforts – maintaining a nice apartment, family and sex life.” These people do not know that at any moment they can be kicked out of their material situation. Due to ignorance, they do not know that real life is eternal. The temporary comforts of the body are not the goal of life, and it is due only to darkest ignorance that people become enamored of the glimmering advancement of material comforts. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has therefore said that the advancement of material knowledge renders a person more foolish, because it causes one to forget his real identity by its glimmer. This is doom for him, because this human form of life is meant for getting out of material contamination. By the advancement of material knowledge, people are becoming more and more entangled in material existence. They have no hope of being liberated from this catastrophe.
In the Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya it is stated that Prahlāda Mahārāja, a great devotee of the Lord, prayed to Nṛsiṁha-deva (the half-lion, half-man incarnation) as follows: “My dear Lord, I repeatedly pray unto Your lotus feet that I may simply be stronger in devotional service. I simply pray that my Kṛṣṇa consciousness may be more strong and steady, because happiness derived out of Kṛṣṇa consciousness and devotional service is so powerful that with it one can have all the other perfections of religiousness, economic development, sense gratification and even the attainment of liberation from material existence.”
Actually, a pure devotee does not aspire after any of these perfections, because the happiness derived from devotional service in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is so transcendental and so unlimited that no other happiness can compare to it. It is said that even one drop of happiness in Kṛṣṇa consciousness stands beyond comparison with an ocean of happiness derived from any other activity. Thus, any person who has developed even a little quantity of pure devotional service can very easily kick out all the other kinds of happiness derived from religiousness, economic development, sense gratification and liberation.
There was a great devotee of Lord Caitanya known as Kholāvecā Śrīdhara, who was a very poor man. He was doing a small business selling cups made from the leaves of plantain trees, and his income was almost nothing. Still, he was spending fifty percent of his small income on the worship of the Ganges, and with the other fifty percent he was somehow living. Lord Caitanya once revealed Himself to this confidential devotee, Kholāvecā Śrīdhara, and offered him any opulence he liked. But Śrīdhara informed the Lord that he did not want any material opulence. He was quite happy in his present position and wanted only to gain unflinching faith and devotion unto the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya. That is the position of pure devotees. If they can be engaged twenty-four hours each day in devotional service they do not want anything else, not even the happiness of liberation or of becoming one with the Supreme.
In the Nārada Pañcarātra it is also said that any person who has developed even a small amount of devotional service doesn’t care a fig for any kind of happiness derived from religiousness, economic development, sense gratification or the five kinds of liberation. Any kind of happiness derived from religiousness, economic development, liberation or sense gratification cannot even dare to enter into the heart of a pure devotee. It is stated that as the personal attendants and maidservants of a queen follow the queen with all respect and obeisances, similarly the joys of religiousness, economic development, sense gratification and liberation follow the devotional service of the Lord. In other words, a pure devotee does not lack any kind of happiness derived from any source. He does not want anything but service to Kṛṣṇa, but even if he should have another desire, the Lord fulfills this without the devotee’s asking.
THE RARENESS OF PURE DEVOTIONAL SERVICE
In the preliminary phase of spiritual life there are different kinds of austerities, penances and similar processes for attaining self-realization. However, even if an executor of these processes is without any material desire, he still cannot achieve devotional service. And aspiring by oneself alone to achieve devotional service is also not very hopeful, because Kṛṣṇa does not agree to award devotional service to merely anyone. Kṛṣṇa can easily offer a person material happiness or even liberation, but He does not agree very easily to award a person engagement in His devotional service. Devotional service can in fact be attained only through the mercy of a pure devotee. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 19.151) it is said, “By the mercy of the spiritual master, who is a pure devotee, and by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa, one can achieve the platform of devotional service. There is no other way.”
The rarity of devotional service is also confirmed in the tantra-śāstra, where Lord Śiva says to Satī, “My dear Satī, if one is a very fine philosopher, analyzing the different processes of knowledge, he can achieve liberation from the material entanglement. By performance of the ritualistic sacrifices recommended in the Vedas one can be elevated to the platform of pious activities and thereby enjoy the material comforts of life to the fullest extent. But all such endeavors can hardly offer anyone devotional service to the Lord, not even if one tries for it by such processes for many, many thousands of births.”
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is also confirmed by Prahlāda Mahārāja that merely by personal efforts or by the instructions of higher authorities one cannot attain to the stage of devotional service. One must become blessed by the dust of the lotus feet of a pure devotee, who is completely freed from the contamination of material desires.
In the Fifth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, sixth chapter, verse 18, Nārada also says to Yudhiṣṭhira, “My dear King, it is Lord Kṛṣṇa, known as Mukunda, who is the eternal protector of the Pāṇḍavas and the Yadus. He is also your spiritual master and instructor in every respect. He is the only worshipable God for you. He is very dear and affectionate, and He is the director of all your activities, both individual and familial. And what’s more, He sometimes carries out your orders as if He were your messenger! My dear King, how very fortunate you are, because for others all these favors given to you by the Supreme Lord would not even be dreamt of.” The purport to this verse is that the Lord easily offers liberation, but He rarely agrees to offer a soul devotional service, because by devotional service the Lord Himself becomes purchased by the devotee.
THE HAPPINESS OF BECOMING ONE WITH THE SUPREME
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī says that if brahmānanda, or the happiness of becoming one with the Supreme, is multiplied one trillionfold, it still cannot compare to an atomic fraction of the happiness derived from the ocean of devotional service.
In the Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya Prahlāda Mahārāja, while satisfying Lord Nṛsiṁha-deva by his prayers, says, “My dear Lord of the universe, I am feeling transcendental pleasure in Your presence and have become merged in the ocean of happiness. I now consider the happiness of brahmānanda to be no more than the water in the impression left by a cow’s hoof in the earth compared to this ocean of bliss.” Similarly, it is confirmed in the Bhāvārtha-dīpikā, Śrīdhara Svāmī’s commentary on the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, “My dear Lord, some of the fortunate persons who are swimming in the ocean of Your nectar of devotion, and who are relishing the nectar of the narration of Your pastimes, certainly know ecstasies that immediately minimize the value of the happiness derived from religiousness, economic development, sense gratification and liberation. Such a transcendental devotee regards any kind of happiness other than devotional service as no better than straw in the street.”
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has stated that devotional service attracts even Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa attracts everyone, but devotional service attracts Kṛṣṇa. The symbol of devotional service in the highest degree is Rādhārāṇī. Kṛṣṇa is called Madana-mohana, which means that He is so attractive that He can defeat the attraction of thousands of Cupids. But Rādhārāṇī is still more attractive, for She can even attract Kṛṣṇa. Therefore devotees call Her Madana-mohana-mohinī – the attractor of the attractor of Cupid.
To perform devotional service means to follow in the footsteps of Rādhārāṇī, and devotees in Vṛndāvana put themselves under the care of Rādhārāṇī in order to achieve perfection in their devotional service. In other words, devotional service is not an activity of the material world; it is directly under the control of Rādhārāṇī. In Bhagavad-gītā it is confirmed that the mahātmās, or great souls, are under the protection of daivī prakṛti, the internal energy – Rādhārāṇī. So, being directly under the control of the internal potency of Kṛṣṇa, devotional service attracts even Kṛṣṇa Himself.
This fact is corroborated by Kṛṣṇa in the Eleventh Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, fourteenth chapter, verse 20, where He says, “My dear Uddhava, you may know it from Me that the attraction I feel for devotional service rendered by My devotees is not to be attained even by the performance of mystic yoga, philosophical speculation, ritualistic sacrifices, the study of Vedānta, the practice of severe austerities or the giving of everything in charity. These are, of course, very nice activities, but they are not as attractive to Me as the transcendental loving service rendered by My devotees.”
How Kṛṣṇa becomes attracted by the devotional service of His devotees is described by Nārada in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Seventh Canto, tenth chapter, verses 48 and 49. There Nārada addresses King Yudhiṣṭhira while the king is appreciating the glories of the character of Prahlāda Mahārāja. A devotee always appreciates the activities of other devotees. Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja was appreciating the qualities of Prahlāda, and that is one symptom of a pure devotee. A pure devotee never thinks himself great; he always thinks that other devotees are greater than himself. The king was thinking, “Prahlāda Mahārāja is actually a devotee of the Lord, while I am nothing,” and while thinking this he was addressed by Nārada as follows: “My dear King Yudhiṣṭhira, you [the Pāṇḍava brothers] are the only fortunate people in this world. The Supreme Personality of Godhead has appeared on this planet and is presenting Himself to you as an ordinary human being. He is always with you in all circumstances. He is living with you and covering Himself from the eyes of others. Others cannot understand that He is the Supreme Lord, but He is still living with you as your cousin, as your friend and even as your messenger. Therefore you must know that nobody in this world is more fortunate than you.”
In Bhagavad-gītā when Kṛṣṇa appeared in His universal form Arjuna prayed, “My dear Kṛṣṇa, I thought of You as my cousin-brother, and so I have shown disrespect to You in so many ways, calling You ‘Kṛṣṇa’ or ‘friend.’ But You are so great that I could not understand.” So that was the position of the Pāṇḍavas; although Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the greatest among all greats, He remained with those royal brothers, being attracted by their devotion, by their friendship and by their love. That is the proof of how great this process of devotional service is. It can attract even the Supreme Personality of Godhead. God is great, but devotional service is greater than God because it attracts Him. People who are not in devotional service can never understand what great value there is in rendering service to the Lord.
CHAPTER TWO: The First Stages of Devotion
The three categories of devotional service which Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī describes in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu are listed as devotional service in practice, devotional service in ecstasy and devotional service in pure love of Godhead. There are many subheadings in each of these categories. Generally it is understood that in the category of devotional service in practice there are two different qualities, devotional service in ecstasy has four qualities, and devotional service in pure love of Godhead has six qualities. These qualities will be explained by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī later on.
In this connection, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī suggests that the person eligible for Kṛṣṇa consciousness, or devotional service, can be classified by his particular taste. He says that devotional service is a continual process from one’s previous life. No one can take to devotional service unless he has had some previous connection with it. For example, suppose in this life I practice devotional service to some extent. Even though it is not one-hundred-percent perfectly performed, whatever I have done will not be lost. In my next life, from the very point where I stop in this life, I shall begin again. In this way there is always a continuity. But even if there is no continuity, if only by chance a person takes interest in a pure devotee’s instruction, he can be accepted and can advance in devotional service. Anyway, for persons who have a natural taste for understanding books like Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, devotional service is easier than for those who are simply accustomed to mental speculation and argumentative processes.
To support this statement there are many authoritative assertions by the learned scholars of bygone ages. According to their general opinion, a person may become governed by certain convictions derived by his own arguments and decisions. Then another person, who may be a greater logician, will nullify these conclusions and establish another thesis. In this way the path of argument will never be safe or conclusive. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam recommends, therefore, that one follow in the footsteps of the authorities.
Here is a general description of devotional service given by Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī in his Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu. Previously, it has been stated that devotional service can be divided into three categories – namely, devotional service in practice, devotional service in ecstasy and devotional service in pure love of God. Now Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī proposes to describe devotional service in practice.
Practice means employing our senses in some particular type of work. Therefore devotional service in practice means utilizing our different sensory organs in service to Kṛṣṇa. Some of the senses are meant for acquiring knowledge, and some are meant for executing the conclusions of our thinking, feeling and willing. So practice means employing both the mind and the senses in practical devotional service. This practice is not for developing something artificial. For example, a child learns or practices to walk. This walking is not unnatural. The walking capacity is there originally in the child, and simply by a little practice he walks very nicely. Similarly, devotional service to the Supreme Lord is the natural instinct of every living entity. Even uncivilized men like the aborigines offer their respectful obeisances to something wonderful exhibited by nature’s law, and they appreciate that behind some wonderful exhibition or action there is something supreme. So this consciousness, though lying dormant in those who are materially contaminated, is found in every living entity. And, when purified, this is called Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
There are certain prescribed methods for employing our senses and mind in such a way that our dormant consciousness for loving Kṛṣṇa will be invoked, as much as the child, with a little practice, can begin to walk. One who has no basic walking capacity cannot walk by practice. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa consciousness cannot be aroused simply by practice. Actually there is no such practice. When we wish to develop our innate capacity for devotional service, there are certain processes which, by our accepting and executing them, will cause that dormant capacity to be invoked. Such practice is called sādhana-bhakti.
Every living entity under the spell of the material energy is held to be in an abnormal condition of madness. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is said, “Generally, the conditioned soul is mad because he is always engaged in activities that are the causes of bondage and suffering.” The spirit soul in his original condition is joyful, blissful, eternal and full of knowledge. Only by his implication in material activities has he become miserable, temporary and full of ignorance. This is due to vikarma. Vikarma means “actions which should not be done.” Therefore, we must practice sādhana-bhakti – which means to offer maṅgala-ārati (Deity worship) in the morning, to refrain from certain material activities, to offer obeisances to the spiritual master and to follow many other rules and regulations that will be discussed here one after another. These practices will help one become cured of madness. As a man’s mental disease is cured by the directions of a psychiatrist, so this sādhana-bhakti cures the conditioned soul of his madness under the spell of māyā, material illusion.
Nārada Muni mentions this sādhana-bhakti in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Seventh Canto, first chapter, verse 32. He says there to King Yudhiṣṭhira, “My dear King, one has to fix his mind on Kṛṣṇa by any means.” That is called Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It is the duty of the ācārya, the spiritual master, to find the ways and means for his disciple to fix his mind on Kṛṣṇa. That is the beginning of sādhana-bhakti.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has given us an authorized program for this purpose, centered around the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. This chanting has so much power that it immediately attaches one to Kṛṣṇa. That is the beginning of sādhana-bhakti. Somehow or other, one has to fix his mind on Kṛṣṇa. The great saint Ambarīṣa Mahārāja, although a responsible king, fixed his mind on Kṛṣṇa, and similarly anyone who tries to fix his mind in this way will very rapidly make progress in successfully reviving his original Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Now this sādhana-bhakti, or practice of devotional service, may also be divided into two parts. The first part is called service according to regulative principles: one has to follow these different regulative principles by the order of the spiritual master or on the strength of authoritative scriptures, and there can be no question of refusal. That is called vaidhī, or regulated. One has to do it without argument. Another part of sādhana-bhakti is called rāgānugā. Rāgānugā refers to the point at which, by following the regulative principles, one becomes a little more attached to Kṛṣṇa and executes devotional service out of natural love. For example, a person engaged in devotional service may be ordered to rise early in the morning and offer ārati, which is a form of Deity worship. In the beginning, by the order of his spiritual master, one rises early in the morning and offers ārati, but then he develops real attachment. When he gets this attachment, he automatically tries to decorate the Deity and prepare different kinds of dresses and thinks of different plans to execute his devotional service nicely. Although it is within the category of practice, this offering of loving service is spontaneous. So the practice of devotional service, sādhana-bhakti, can be divided into two parts – namely, regulative and spontaneous.
Rūpa Gosvāmī defines the first part of devotional practice, or vaidhī-bhakti, as follows: “When there is no attachment or no spontaneous loving service to the Lord, and one is engaged in the service of the Lord simply out of obedience to the order of the spiritual master or in pursuance of the scriptures, such obligatory service is called vaidhī-bhakti.”
These principles of vaidhī-bhakti are also described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Second Canto, first chapter, verse 5, where Śukadeva Gosvāmī instructs the dying Mahārāja Parīkṣit as to his course of action. Mahārāja Parīkṣit met Śukadeva Gosvāmī just a week before his death, and the king was perplexed as to what should be done before he was to pass on. Many other sages also arrived there, but no one could give him the proper direction. Śukadeva Gosvāmī, however, gave this direction to him as follows: “My dear King, if you want to be fearless in meeting your death next week (for actually everyone is afraid at the point of death), then you must immediately begin the process of hearing and chanting and remembering God.” If one can chant and hear Hare Kṛṣṇa and always remember Lord Kṛṣṇa, then he is sure to become fearless of death, which may come at any moment.
In the statements of Śukadeva Gosvāmī it is said that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is Kṛṣṇa. Therefore Śukadeva recommends that one should always hear about Kṛṣṇa. He does not recommend that one hear and chant about the demigods. The Māyāvādīs (impersonalists) say that one may chant any name, either that of Kṛṣṇa or those of the demigods, and the result will be the same. But actually this is not a fact. According to the authorized version of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, one has to hear and chant about Lord Viṣṇu (Kṛṣṇa) only.
So Śukadeva Gosvāmī has recommended to Parīkṣit Mahārāja that in order to be fearless of death, one has to hear and chant and remember the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, by all means. He also mentions that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is sarvātmā. Sarvātmā means “the Supersoul of everyone.” Kṛṣṇa is also mentioned as īśvara, the supreme controller who is situated in everyone’s heart. Therefore, if some way or other we become attached to Kṛṣṇa, He will make us free from all danger. In Bhagavad-gītā it is said that anyone who becomes a devotee of the Lord is never vanquished. Others, however, are always vanquished. “Vanquished” means that after getting this human form of life, a person does not come out of the entanglement of birth and death and thus misses his golden opportunity. Such a person does not know where he is being thrown by the laws of nature.
Suppose one does not develop Kṛṣṇa consciousness in this human form of life. He will be thrown into the cycle of birth and death, involving 8,400,000 species of life, and his spiritual identity will remain lost. One does not know whether he is going to be a plant, or a beast, or a bird, or something like that, because there are so many species of life. The recommendation of Rūpa Gosvāmī for reviving our original Kṛṣṇa consciousness is that somehow or other we should apply our minds to Kṛṣṇa very seriously and thus also become fearless of death. After death we do not know our destination, because we are completely under the control of the laws of nature. Only Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is controller over the laws of nature. Therefore, if we take shelter of Kṛṣṇa seriously, there will be no fear of being thrown back into the cycle of so many species of life. A sincere devotee will surely be transferred to the abode of Kṛṣṇa, as affirmed in Bhagavad-gītā.
In the Padma Purāṇa, also, the same process is advised. There it is said that one should always remember Lord Viṣṇu. This is called dhyāna, or meditation – always remembering Kṛṣṇa. It is said that one has to meditate with his mind fixed upon Viṣṇu. Padma Purāṇa recommends that one always fix his mind on the form of Viṣṇu by meditation and not forget Him at any moment. And this state of consciousness is called samādhi, or trance.
We should always try to mold the activities of our lives in such a way that we will constantly remember Viṣṇu, or Kṛṣṇa. That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Whether one concentrates his mind on the four-handed form of Viṣṇu or on the form of two-handed Kṛṣṇa, it is the same. The Padma Purāṇa recommends: somehow or other always think of Viṣṇu, without forgetting Him under any circumstances. Actually this is the most basic of all regulative principles. For, when there is an order from a superior about doing something, there is simultaneously a prohibition. When the order is that one should always remember Kṛṣṇa, the prohibition is that one should never forget Him. Within this simple order and prohibition, all regulative principles are found complete.
This regulative principle is applicable to all varṇas and āśramas, the castes and occupations of life. There are four varṇas, namely, the brāhmaṇas (priests and intellectuals), the kṣatriyas (warriors and statesmen), the vaiśyas (businessmen and farmers) and the śūdras (laborers and servants). There are also four standard āśramas, namely, brahmacarya (student life), gṛhastha (householder), vānaprastha (retired) and sannyāsa (renounced). The regulative principles are not only for the brahmacārīs (celibate students) to follow, but are applicable for all. It doesn’t matter whether one is a beginner – a brahmacārī – or is very advanced – a sannyāsī. The principle of remembering the Supreme Personality of Godhead constantly and not forgetting Him at any moment is meant to be followed by everyone without fail.
If this injunction is followed, then all other rules and regulations will automatically fall into line. All other rules and regulations should be treated as assistants or servants to this one basic principle. The injunctions or rules and regulations and their resultant reactions are mentioned in the Eleventh Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, fifth chapter, verses 2 and 3. Camasa Muni, one of the nine sages who came to instruct King Nimi, addressed the king and said, “The four social orders, namely, the brāhmaṇas, the kṣatriyas, the vaiśyas and the śūdras, have come out of the different parts of the universal form of the Supreme Lord as follows: the brāhmaṇas have come out from the head, the kṣatriyas have come out from the arms, the vaiśyas have come out from the waist, and the śūdras have come out from the legs. Similarly, the sannyāsīs have come out from the head, the vānaprasthas from the arms, the gṛhasthas from the waist and the brahmacārīs from the legs.”
These different orders of society and grades of spiritual advancement are conceived in terms of qualification. It is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā that the four social orders and the four spiritual orders are created by the Lord Himself in terms of different individual qualities. As the different parts of the body have different types of activities, so the social orders and spiritual orders also have different types of activities in terms of qualification and position. The target of these activities, however, is always the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā, “He is the supreme enjoyer.” So, whether one is a brāhmaṇa or a śūdra, one has to satisfy the Supreme Lord by one’s activities. This is also confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam by a verse that reads, “Everyone must be engaged in his particular duty, but the perfection of such work should be tested by how far the Lord is satisfied with such activities.” The injunction herein is that one has to act according to his position, and by such activities one must either satisfy the Supreme Personality or else fall down from one’s position.
For example, a brāhmaṇa, who is born out of the head of the Lord, has as his business to preach the transcendental Vedic sounds, or śabda-brahma. Because the brāhmaṇa is the head, he has to preach the transcendental sound, and he also has to eat on behalf of the Supreme Lord. According to Vedic injunctions, when a brāhmaṇa eats it is to be understood that the Personality of Godhead is eating through him. It is not, however, that the brāhmaṇa should simply eat on behalf of the Lord and not preach the message of Bhagavad-gītā to the world. Actually, one who preaches the message of the Gītā is very dear to Kṛṣṇa, as is confirmed in the Gītā itself. Such a preacher is factually a brāhmaṇa, and thus by feeding him one feeds the Supreme Lord directly.
Similarly, the kṣatriya has to protect people from the onslaughts of māyā. That is his duty. For example, as soon as Mahārāja Parīkṣit saw that a black man was attempting to kill a cow, he immediately took his sword, wanting to kill the black man, whose name was Kali.* That is a kṣatriya’s duty. Violence is required in order to give protection. In Bhagavad-gītā Lord Kṛṣṇa directly gave His order to Arjuna to commit violence on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra, just to give protection to the people in general.
* Not to be confused with Kālī, the demigoddess who is the devastating feature of material nature.
The vaiśyas are meant for producing agricultural products, trading them and distributing them. And the working class, or śūdras, are those who haven’t the intelligence of the brāhmaṇas or the kṣatriyas or the vaiśyas, and therefore they are meant to help these higher classes by bodily labor. In this way, there is full cooperation and spiritual advancement among all the different orders of society. And when there is no such cooperation, the members of society will fall down. That is the present position in the Kali-yuga, this age of quarrel. Nobody is doing his duty, and everyone is simply puffed up by calling himself a brāhmaṇa (intellectual) or a kṣatriya (soldier or statesman). But actually such people are without status. They are out of touch with the Supreme Personality of Godhead because they are not Kṛṣṇa conscious. Therefore, the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is intended to set the whole of human society in proper condition so that everyone will be happy and take profit from developing Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa instructed Uddhava that by following the injunctions of the social and spiritual orders of human society, one can satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and as a result of such satisfaction the whole society gets all the necessities of life amply and without difficulty. This is because, after all, the Supreme Personality of Godhead maintains all other living entities. If the whole society performs its respective duties and remains in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, there is no doubt that all of its members will live very peacefully and happily. Without wanting the necessities of life, the whole world will be turned into Vaikuṇṭha, a spiritual abode. Even without being transferred to the kingdom of God, by following the injunctions of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and prosecuting the duties of Kṛṣṇa consciousness all human society will be happy in all respects.
There is a similar statement by Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself to Uddhava, in the Eleventh Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, twenty-seventh chapter, verse 49. The Lord says there, “My dear Uddhava, all persons are engaged in activities, whether those indicated in the revealed scriptures or ordinary worldly activities. If by the result of either of such activities they worship Me in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then automatically they become very happy within this world as well as in the next. Of this there is no doubt.” We can conclude from this statement by Kṛṣṇa that activities in Kṛṣṇa consciousness will give everyone all perfection in all desires.
Thus the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is so nice that there is no need of even designating oneself brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra, brahmacārī, gṛhastha, vānaprastha or sannyāsī. Let everyone be engaged in whatever occupation he now has. Simply let him worship Lord Kṛṣṇa by the result of his activities in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That will adjust the whole situation, and everyone will be happy and peaceful within this world. In the Nārada Pañcarātra the regulative principles of devotional service are described as follows: “Any activities sanctioned in the revealed scriptures and aiming at the satisfaction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead are accepted by saintly teachers as the regulative principles of devotional service. If one regularly executes such service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead under the direction of a bona fide spiritual master, then gradually he rises to the platform of serving in pure love of God.”
CHAPTER THREE: Eligibility of the Candidate for Accepting Devotional Service
On account of his association with mahātmās, or great souls one hundred percent engaged in the devotional service of the Lord, one may attain a little bit of attraction for Śrī Kṛṣṇa. But at the same time one may remain very much attached to fruitive activities and material sense enjoyment and not be prepared to undergo the different types of renunciation. Such a person, if he has unflinching attraction to Kṛṣṇa, becomes an eligible candidate for discharging devotional service.
This attraction for Kṛṣṇa consciousness in association with pure devotees is the sign of great fortune. It is confirmed by Lord Caitanya that only the fortunate persons, by the mercy of both a bona fide spiritual master and Kṛṣṇa, will get the seed of devotional service. In this connection, Lord Kṛṣṇa says in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Eleventh Canto, twentieth chapter, verse 8, “My dear Uddhava, only by exceptional fortune does someone become attracted to Me. And even if one is not completely detached from fruitive activities, or is not completely attached to devotional service, such service is quickly effective.”
Devotees may be divided into three classes. The devotee in the first or uppermost class is described as follows: he is very expert in the study of relevant scriptures, and he is also expert in putting forward arguments in terms of those scriptures. He can very nicely present conclusions with perfect discretion and can consider the ways of devotional service in a decisive way. He understands perfectly that the ultimate goal of life is to attain to the transcendental loving service of Kṛṣṇa, and he knows that Kṛṣṇa is the only object of worship and love. This first-class devotee is one who has strictly followed the rules and regulations under the training of a bona fide spiritual master and has sincerely obeyed him in accord with revealed scriptures. Thus, being fully trained to preach and become a spiritual master himself, he is considered first class. The first-class devotee never deviates from the principles of higher authority, and he attains firm faith in the scriptures by understanding with all reason and arguments. When we speak of arguments and reason, it means arguments and reason on the basis of revealed scriptures. The first-class devotee is not interested in dry speculative methods meant for wasting time. In other words, one who has attained a mature determination in the matter of devotional service can be accepted as the first-class devotee.
The second-class devotee has been defined by the following symptoms: he is not very expert in arguing on the strength of revealed scripture, but he has firm faith in the objective. The purport of this description is that the second-class devotee has firm faith in the procedure of devotional service unto Kṛṣṇa, but he may sometimes fail to offer arguments and decisions on the strength of revealed scripture to an opposing party. But at the same time he is still undaunted within himself as to his decision that Kṛṣṇa is the supreme object of worship.
The neophyte, or third-class devotee, is one whose faith is not strong and who, at the same time, does not recognize the decision of the revealed scripture. The neophyte’s faith can be changed by someone with strong arguments or by an opposite decision. Unlike the second-class devotee, who also cannot put forward arguments and evidences from the scripture but who still has all faith in the objective, the neophyte has no firm faith in the objective. Thus he is called the neophyte devotee.
Further classification of the neophyte devotee is made in the Bhagavad-gītā. It is stated there that four classes of men – namely, those who are distressed, those who are in need of money, those who are inquisitive and those who are wise – begin devotional service and come to the Lord for relief in the matter of their respective self-satisfaction. They go into some place of worship and pray to God for mitigation of material distress or for some economic development or to satisfy their inquisitiveness. And a wise man who simply realizes the greatness of God is also counted among the neophytes. Such beginners can be elevated to the second-class or first-class platform if they associate with pure devotees.
An example of the neophyte class is Mahārāja Dhruva. He was in need of his father’s kingdom and therefore engaged himself in devotional service to the Lord. Then in the end, when he was completely purified, he declined to accept any material benediction from the Lord. Similarly, Gajendra was distressed and prayed to Kṛṣṇa for protection, after which he became a pure devotee. Similarly Sanaka, Sanātana, Sananda and Sanat-kumāra were all in the category of wise, saintly persons, and they were also attracted by devotional service. A similar thing happened to the assembly in the Naimiṣāraṇya forest headed by the sage Śaunaka. The sages were inquisitive and were always asking Sūta Gosvāmī about Kṛṣṇa. Thus they achieved the association of a pure devotee and became pure devotees themselves. So that is the way of elevating oneself. In whatever condition one may be, if he is fortunate enough to associate with pure devotees, then very quickly he is elevated to the second-class or first-class platform.
These four types of devotees have been described in the seventh chapter of Bhagavad-gītā, and they have all been accepted as pious. Without becoming pious, no one can come to devotional service. It is explained in Bhagavad-gītā that only one who has continually executed pious activities and whose sinful reactions in life have completely stopped can take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Others cannot. The neophyte devotees are classified into four groups – the distressed, those in need of money, the inquisitive and the wise – according to the gradations of their pious activities. Without pious activities, if a man is in a distressed condition he becomes an agnostic, a communist or something like that. Because he does not firmly believe in God, he thinks that he can adjust his distressed condition by totally disbelieving in Him.
Lord Kṛṣṇa, however, has explained in the Gītā that out of these four types of neophytes, the one who is wise is very dear to Him, because a wise man, if he is attached to Kṛṣṇa, is not seeking an exchange of material benefits. A wise man who becomes attached to Kṛṣṇa does not want any return from Him either in the form of His relieving his distress or in gaining money. This means that from the very beginning his basic principle of attachment to Kṛṣṇa is, more or less, love. Furthermore, due to his wisdom and study of śāstras (scriptures), he can also understand that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
It is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā that after many, many births, when one becomes actually wise, he surrenders unto Vāsudeva, knowing perfectly well that Kṛṣṇa (Vāsudeva) is the origin and cause of all causes. Therefore, he sticks to the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa and gradually develops love for Him. Although such a wise man is very dear to Kṛṣṇa, the others are also accepted as very magnanimous, because even though they are distressed or in need of money, they have come to Kṛṣṇa for satisfaction. Thus they are accepted as liberal, broad-minded mahātmās.
Without being elevated to the position of a jñānī, or wise man, one cannot stick to the principle of worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The less intelligent or those whose intelligence has been taken away by the spell of māyā are attached to different demigods on account of the influence of the modes of nature. The wise man is he who has thoroughly understood that he is spirit soul and not simply a body. Because he realizes that he is spirit and Kṛṣṇa is the supreme spirit, he knows that his intimate relationship should be with Kṛṣṇa, not with this body. The distressed and the man in want of money are in the material concept of life, because distress and need of money are both in relationship with this body. One who is inquisitive may be a little above the distressed and the man in need of money, but still he is on the material platform. But a wise man who seeks Kṛṣṇa knows perfectly well that he is spirit soul, or Brahman, and that Kṛṣṇa is the supreme spirit soul, or Para-brahman. He knows that the spirit soul, being subordinate and finite, should always dovetail himself with the infinite and supreme soul, Kṛṣṇa. That is the relationship of the wise man with Kṛṣṇa.
It can be concluded that a person who is freed from the bodily concept of life is an eligible candidate for pure devotional service. It is also confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā that after Brahman realization, when one is freed from material anxieties and can see every living entity on an equal level, he is eligible to enter into devotional service.
As stated before, there are three kinds of happiness – material, spiritual and devotional. Devotional service and the happiness due to its execution are not possible as long as one is materially affected. If someone has a desire for material enjoyment or for becoming one with the Supreme, these are both considered material concepts. Because the impersonalists cannot appreciate the spiritual happiness of association and the exchange of loving affairs with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, their ultimate goal is to become one with the Lord. This concept is simply an extension of the material idea. In the material world, everyone is trying to be the topmost head man among all his fellow men or neighbors. Either communally, socially or nationally, everyone is competing to be greater than all others, in the material concept of life. This greatness can be extended to the unlimited, so that one actually wants to become one with the greatest of all, the Supreme Lord. This is also a material concept, although maybe a little more advanced.
However, the perfect spiritual concept of life is complete knowledge of one’s constitutional position, in which one knows enough to dovetail himself in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. One must know that he is finite and that the Lord is infinite. Thus it is not possible to actually become one with the Lord even if one aspires for this. It is simply not possible. Therefore, anyone who has any desire or aspiration for satisfying his senses by becoming more and more important, either in the material sense or in the spiritual sense, cannot actually relish the really sweet taste of devotional service. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has therefore compared possessing these bhukti (material) and mukti (liberation) desires with being influenced by the black art of a witch: in both cases one is in trouble. Bhukti means material enjoyment, and mukti means to become freed from material anxiety and to become one with the Lord. These desires are compared to being haunted by ghosts and witches, because while these aspirations for material enjoyment or spiritual oneness with the Supreme remain, no one can relish the actual transcendental taste of devotional service.
A pure devotee never cares for liberation. Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu prayed to Kṛṣṇa, “My dear son of Nanda, I do not want any material happiness in the shape of many followers, nor immense opulence in wealth, nor any beautiful wife, nor do I want cessation from material existence. I may take many births one after another, but what I pray from You is that my devotion unto You may always remain unflinching.”
The attention of a pure devotee is so much attracted to glorification of the Lord’s pastimes, name, qualities, forms, etc., that the devotee does not care for mukti. Śrī Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura has said, “If I am engaged in devotional service unto You, my dear Lord, then very easily can I perceive Your presence everywhere. And as far as liberation is concerned, I think liberation stands at my door with folded hands, waiting to serve me.” To pure devotees, therefore, liberation and spiritual emancipation are not very important things.
In this connection, in the Third Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, chapter twenty-five, verse 36, Kapiladeva has advised His mother, Devahūti, as follows: “My dear mother, My pure devotees are charmed by seeing My different forms, the beauty of My face, the structure of My body so enchanting. My laughing, My pastimes and My glance appear to them so beautiful that their minds are always absorbed in thoughts of Me and their lives are dedicated fully unto Me. Although such people do not desire any kind of liberation or any kind of material happiness, still I give them a place among My associates in the supreme abode.”
This evidence from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam gives assurance to the pure devotee of being elevated to association with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī remarks in this connection that one who is actually attracted by the beauty of the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa or His service, and whose heart, by such attraction, is always full with transcendental bliss, will naturally never aspire after the liberation which is so valuable to the impersonalists.
A similar passage is also there in the Third Canto, fourth chapter, verse 15 of the same book, wherein Uddhava addresses Lord Kṛṣṇa and says, “My dear Lord, for persons who are engaged in Your transcendental loving service there is nothing worth obtaining from religiousness, economic development, sense gratification or liberation – although happiness from these different sources can be very easily had by them. In spite of such facilities, my dear Lord, I do not aspire to achieve any such results. My only prayer is that I may have unflinching faith and devotion unto Your lotus feet.”
A similar passage appears in the Third Canto, twenty-fifth chapter, verse 34 wherein Kapiladeva instructs His mother and says, “My dear mother, devotees whose hearts are always filled in the service of My lotus feet and who are prepared to do anything for My satisfaction, especially those fortunate devotees who assemble together to understand My qualities, pastimes and form and thus glorify Me congregationally and derive transcendental pleasure therefrom, never desire to become one with Me. And what to speak of becoming one with Me, if they are offered a post like Mine in My abode, or opulence like Mine, or even personal association with Me with similar bodily features, they refuse to accept, because they are satisfied simply by being engaged in My devotional service.”
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Fourth Canto, ninth chapter, verse 10, King Dhruva says, “My dear Lord, the transcendental pleasure derived by meditation upon Your lotus feet, which is enjoyed by the pure devotees, cannot be approached by the transcendental pleasure derived by the impersonalists through self-realization. So how can the fruitive workers, who at most can aspire to promotion to the higher heavenly planets, understand You, and how can they be described as enjoying a happiness similar to the devotees’ happiness?”
CHAPTER FOUR: Devotional Service Surpasses All Liberation
How much a devotee is seriously attached to the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead can be understood from the statement of Mahārāja Pṛthu (Ādi-rāja), which is described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Fourth Canto, twentieth chapter, verse 24. He prays to the Supreme Personality of Godhead thus: “My dear Lord, if after taking liberation I have no chance of hearing the glories of Your Lordship, glories chanted by pure devotees from the core of their hearts in praise of Your lotus feet, and if I have no chance for this honey of transcendental bliss, then I shall never ask for liberation or this so-called spiritual emancipation. I shall simply always pray unto Your Lordship that You may give me millions of tongues and millions of ears, so that I can constantly chant and hear of Your transcendental glories.”
The impersonalists desire to merge into the existence of the Supreme, but without keeping their individuality they have no chance of hearing and chanting the glories of the Supreme Lord. Because they have no idea of the transcendental form of the Supreme Lord, there is no chance of their chanting and hearing of His transcendental activities. In other words, unless one is already beyond liberation, one cannot relish the transcendental glories of the Lord, nor can one understand the transcendental form of the Lord.
A similar statement is found in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Fifth Canto, fourteenth chapter, verse 44. Śukadeva Gosvāmī addresses Parīkṣit Mahārāja there and says, “The great soul King Bharata was so much attached to the service of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa that he very easily gave up his lordship over the earthly planet and his affection for his children, society, friends, royal opulence and beautiful wife. He was so very lucky that the goddess of fortune was pleased to offer him all kinds of material concessions, but he never accepted any of these material opulences.” Śukadeva Gosvāmī praises this behavior of King Bharata very highly. He says, “Any person whose heart is attracted by the transcendental qualities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Madhusūdana, does not care even for that liberation which is aspired to by many great sages, what to speak of material opulences.”
In the Bhāgavatam, Sixth Canto, eleventh chapter, verse 25, there is a similar statement by Vṛtrāsura, who addresses the Lord as follows: “My dear Lord, by leaving Your transcendental service I may be promoted to the planet called Dhruvaloka [the polestar], or I may gain lordship over all the planetary systems of the universe. But I do not aspire to this. Nor do I wish the mystic perfections of yoga practice, nor do I aspire to spiritual emancipation. All I wish for, my Lord, is Your association and transcendental service eternally.”
This statement is confirmed by Lord Śiva in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Sixth Canto, seventeenth chapter, verse 28, wherein Lord Śiva addresses Satī thus: “My dear Satī, persons who are devoted to Nārāyaṇa [Kṛṣṇa] are not afraid of anything. If they are elevated to the higher planetary systems, or if they get liberation from material contamination, or if they are pushed down to the hellish condition of life – or, in fact, in any situation whatever – they are not afraid of anything. Simply because they have taken shelter of the lotus feet of Nārāyaṇa, for them any position in the material world is as good as another.”
There is a similar statement by Indra, the king of heaven, in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Sixth Canto, eighteenth chapter, verse 74. There Indra addresses mother Diti in this manner: “My dear mother, persons who have given up all kinds of desire and are simply engaged in devotional service to the Lord know what is actually their self-interest. Such persons are actually serving their self-interests and are considered first-class experts in the matter of advancing to the perfectional stage of life.”
In the Seventh Canto of the Bhāgavatam, sixth chapter, verse 25, Mahārāja Prahlāda says, “My dear friends born into atheistic families, if you can please the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, then there is nothing more rare in this world. In other words, if the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa is pleased with you, then any desire you may have within the core of your heart can be fulfilled without any doubt. As such, what is the use of elevating yourself by the results of fruitive activities, which are automatically achieved in all events by the modes of material nature? And what is the use for you of spiritual emancipation or liberation from material bondage? If you are always engaged in chanting the glories of the Supreme Lord and always relishing the nectar of the lotus feet of the Lord, then there is no necessity for any of these.” By this statement of Prahlāda Mahārāja it is clearly understood that one who takes pleasure in chanting and hearing the transcendental glories of the Lord has already surpassed all kinds of material benedictions, including the results of pious fruitive activities, sacrifices and even liberation from material bondage.
Similarly, in the same Seventh Canto, eighth chapter, verse 42, when the demigods are offering prayers to Lord Nṛsiṁha, Indra the king of heaven says, “O supreme one, these demons talk of our share of participation in the performances of ritualistic sacrifices, but simply by Your appearance as Lord Nṛsiṁha-deva You have saved us from terrible fears. Actually, our shares in the sacrificial performances are due to You only, because You are the supreme enjoyer of all sacrifices. You are the Supersoul of every living entity, and therefore You are the actual owner of everything. Long were our hearts always filled with fear of this demon, Hiraṇyakaśipu. But You are so kind toward us that by killing him You have removed that fear from within our hearts and have given us the chance to place Your Lordship within our hearts again. For persons who are engaged in the transcendental loving service of Your Lordship, all the opulences which were taken away from us by the demons are counted as nothing. Devotees do not care even for liberation, what to speak of these material opulences. Actually, we are not enjoyers of the fruits of sacrifices. Our only duty is to always be engaged in Your service, for You are the enjoyer of everything.”
The purport of this statement by Indra is that beginning from Brahmā down to the insignificant ant, no living entities are meant for enjoying the material opulences. They are simply meant for offering everything to the supreme proprietor, the Personality of Godhead. By doing so, they automatically enjoy the benefit. The example can be cited again of the different parts of the body collecting foodstuffs and cooking them so that ultimately a meal may be offered to the stomach. After it has gone to the stomach, all the parts of the body equally enjoy the benefit of the meal. So, similarly, everyone’s duty is to satisfy the Supreme Lord, and then automatically everyone will become satisfied.
A similar verse is found in the Eighth Canto, third chapter of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, verse 20. Gajendra says there, “My dear Lord, I have no experience of the transcendental bliss derived from Your devotional service, so therefore I have asked from You some favor. But I know that persons who are pure devotees and have, by serving the lotus feet of great souls, become freed from all material desires are always merged in the ocean of transcendental bliss and, as such, are always satisfied simply by glorifying Your auspicious characteristics. For them there is nothing else to aspire to or pray for.”
In the Ninth Canto of the Bhāgavatam, fourth chapter, verse 67, the Lord of Vaikuṇṭha replies to Durvāsā Muni thus: “My pure devotees are always satisfied being engaged in devotional service, and therefore they do not aspire even after the five liberated stages, which are (1) to be one with Me, (2) to achieve residence on My planet, (3) to have My opulences, (4) to possess bodily features similar to Mine and (5) to gain personal association with Me. So when they are not interested even in these liberated positions, you can know how little they care for material opulences or material liberation.”
There is a similar prayer by the nāga-patnīs (wives of the Kāliya serpent), in the Tenth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, sixteenth chapter, verse 37. The nāga-patnīs say there, “Dear Lord, the dust of Your lotus feet is very wonderful. Any person who is fortunate enough to achieve this dust does not care for heavenly planets, lordship over all the planetary systems, the mystic perfections of yoga or even liberation from material existence. In other words, anyone who adores the dust of Your lotus feet does not care a fig for all other perfectional stages.”
There is a similar statement in the Tenth Canto, eighty-seventh chapter, verse 21, wherein the Śrutis, the Vedas personified, pray to the Lord as follows: “Dear Lord, it is very difficult to understand spiritual knowledge. Your appearance here, just as You are, is to explain to us this most difficult subject of knowledge of the spirit. As such, Your devotees who have left their domestic comforts to associate with the liberated ācāryas [teachers] are now fully merged in the devotional service of Your Lordship, and thus they do not care for any so-called liberation.”
In explaining this verse it should be noted that spiritual knowledge means understanding the self and the Supersoul, or Superself. The individual soul and the Supersoul are qualitatively one, and therefore both of them are known as Brahman, or spirit. But knowledge of Brahman is very difficult to understand. There are so many philosophers engaged in the matter of understanding the soul, but they are unable to make any tangible advancement. It is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā that out of many millions of persons, only one may try to understand what is spiritual knowledge, and out of many such persons who are trying to understand, only one or a few may know what is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So this verse says that spiritual knowledge is very difficult to achieve, and so in order to make it more easily attainable, the Supreme Lord Himself comes in His original form as Śrī Kṛṣṇa and gives His instruction directly to an associate like Arjuna, just so that the people in general may take advantage of this spiritual knowledge. This verse also explains that liberation means having completely given up all the material comforts of life. Those who are impersonalists are satisfied by simply being liberated from the material circumstances, but those who are devotees can automatically give up material life and also enjoy the transcendental bliss of hearing and chanting the wonderful activities of Lord Kṛṣṇa.
In the Eleventh Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, twentieth chapter, verse 34, Lord Kṛṣṇa says to Uddhava, “My dear Uddhava, the devotees who have completely taken shelter of My service are so steadfast in devotional service that they have no other desire. Even if they are offered the four kinds of spiritual opulences* they will refuse to accept them. So what to speak of their desiring anything within the material world!” Similarly, Lord Kṛṣṇa says in another passage of the Bhāgavatam, Eleventh Canto, fourteenth chapter, verse 14, “My dear Uddhava, a person whose consciousness is completely absorbed in My thought and activities does not aspire even to occupy the post of Brahmā, or the post of Indra, or the post of lordship over the planets, or the eight kinds of mystic perfections, or even liberation itself.” In the Twelfth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, tenth chapter, verse 6, Lord Śiva says to Devī, “My dear Devī, this great brāhmaṇa sage Mārkaṇḍeya has attained unflinching faith and devotion unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and as such he does not aspire after any benedictions, including liberation from the material world.”
* The fifth kind of liberation, merging with the Supreme, is not considered an opulence in spiritual variegated existence.
Similarly, there is a statement in Padma Purāṇa describing the ritualistic function during the month of Kārttika (October-November). During this month, in Vṛndāvana it is the regulative principle to pray daily to Lord Kṛṣṇa in His Dāmodara form. The Dāmodara form refers to Kṛṣṇa in His childhood when He was tied up with rope by His mother, Yaśodā. Dāma means “ropes,” and udara means “the abdomen.” So mother Yaśodā, being disturbed by naughty Kṛṣṇa, bound Him round the abdomen with a rope. Thus Kṛṣṇa is named Dāmodara. During Kārttika, Dāmodara is prayed to as follows: “My dear Lord, You are the Lord of all, the giver of all benedictions.” There are many demigods, like Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, who sometimes offer benedictions to their respective devotees. For example, Rāvaṇa was blessed with many benedictions by Lord Śiva, and Hiraṇyakaśipu was blessed by Lord Brahmā. But even Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā depend upon the benedictions of Lord Kṛṣṇa, and therefore Kṛṣṇa is addressed as the Lord of all benefactors. As such, Lord Kṛṣṇa can offer His devotees anything they want, but still, the devotee’s prayer continues, “I do not ask You for liberation or any material facility up to the point of liberation. What I want as Your favor is that I may always think of Your form in which I see You now, as Dāmodara. You are so beautiful and attractive that my mind does not want anything besides this wonderful form.” In this same prayer there is another passage in which it is said, “My dear Lord Dāmodara, once when You were playing as a naughty boy in the house of Nanda Mahārāja, You broke the box containing yogurt, and because of that, mother Yaśodā considered You an offender and tied You with rope to the household grinding mortar. At that time You delivered the two sons of Kuvera, Nalakūvara and Maṇigrīva, who were staying there as two arjuna trees in the yard of Nanda Mahārāja. My only request is that by Your merciful pastimes You may similarly deliver me.”
The story behind this verse is that the two sons of Kuvera (the treasurer of the demigods) were puffed up on account of the opulence of their father, and so once on a heavenly planet they were enjoying themselves in a lake with some naked damsels of heaven. At that time the great saint Nārada Muni was passing on the road and was sorry to see the behavior of the sons of Kuvera. Seeing Nārada passing by, the damsels of heaven covered their bodies with cloth, but the two sons, being drunkards, did not have this decency. Nārada became angry with their behavior and cursed them thus: “You have no sense, so it is better if you become trees instead of the sons of Kuvera.” Upon hearing this, the boys came to their senses and begged Nārada to be pardoned for their offenses. Nārada then said, “Yes, you shall become trees, arjuna trees, and you will stand in the courtyard of Nanda Mahārāja. But Kṛṣṇa Himself will appear in time as the foster son of Nanda, and He will deliver you.” In other words, the curse of Nārada was a benediction to the sons of Kuvera because indirectly it was foretold that they would be able to receive the favor of Lord Kṛṣṇa. After that, Kuvera’s two sons stood as two big arjuna trees in the courtyard of Nanda Mahārāja until Lord Dāmodara, in order to fulfill the desire of Nārada, dragged the grinding mortar to which He was tied and struck the two trees, violently causing them to fall down. From out of these fallen trees came Nalakūvara and Maṇigrīva, who had by then become great devotees of the Lord.
There is a passage in the Hayaśīrṣa Pañcarātra that states, “My dear Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, I do not want any resultant benediction from my religious life, nor do I want any economic development, nor do I want to enjoy sense gratification nor liberation. I simply pray to be an eternal servant at Your lotus feet. Kindly oblige me and give me this benediction.”
In the same Hayaśīrṣa Pañcarātra, after Nṛsiṁha-deva wanted to give benedictions to Prahlāda Mahārāja, Prahlāda did not accept any material benediction and simply asked the favor of the Lord to remain His eternal devotee. In this connection, Prahlāda Mahārāja cited the example of Hanumān, the eternal servitor of Lord Rāmacandra, who also set an example by never asking any material favor from the Lord. He always remained engaged in the Lord’s service. That is the ideal character of Hanumān, for which he is still worshiped by all devotees. Prahlāda Mahārāja also offered his respectful obeisances unto Hanumān. There is a well-known verse spoken by Hanumān in which he says, “My dear Lord, if You like You can give me salvation from this material existence, or the privilege of merging into Your existence, but I do not wish any of these things. I do not want anything that diminishes my relationship with You as servant to master, even after liberation.”
In a similar passage in the Nārada Pañcarātra it is stated, “My dear Lord, I do not wish any perfectional stage by performing the ritualistic religious ceremonies or by economic development or by sense gratification or liberation. I simply pray that You grant me the favor of keeping me under Your lotus feet. I do not wish any kind of liberation such as sālokya (to reside on Your planet) or sārūpya (to have the same bodily features as You). I simply pray for Your favor that I may be always engaged in Your loving service.”
Similarly, in the Sixth Canto, fourteenth chapter, verse 5 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Mahārāja Parīkṣit inquires from Śukadeva Gosvāmī, “My dear brāhmaṇa, I understand that the demon Vṛtrāsura was a greatly sinful person and that his mentality was completely absorbed in the modes of passion and ignorance. How did he develop to such a perfectional stage of devotional service to Nārāyaṇa? I have heard that even great persons who have undergone severe austerities and who are liberated with full knowledge must strive to become devotees of the Lord. It is understood that such persons are very rare and almost never to be seen, so I am astonished that Vṛtrāsura became such a devotee!”
In the above verse, the most important thing to be noted is that there may be many liberated persons who have merged into the existence of the impersonal Brahman, but a devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa, is very, very rare. Even out of millions of liberated persons, only one is fortunate enough to become a devotee.
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, First Canto, eighth chapter, verse 20, Queen Kuntī is praying to Lord Kṛṣṇa at the time of His departure, “My dear Kṛṣṇa, You are so great that You are inconceivable even to great stalwart scholars and parama-haṁsas [fully liberated souls]. So if such great sages, who are transcendental to all the reactions of material existence, are unable to know You, then as far as we are concerned, belonging to the less intelligent woman class, how is it possible for us to know Your glories? How can we understand You?” In this verse, the particular thing to be noted is that the Personality of Godhead is not understood by great liberated persons, but only by devotees such as Queen Kuntī in her humbleness. Although she was a woman and was considered less intelligent than a man, still she realized the glories of Kṛṣṇa. That is the purport of this verse.
Another passage that is very important is in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, First Canto, seventh chapter, verse 10, and is called the “ātmārāma verse.” In this ātmārāma verse it is stated that even those who are completely liberated from material contamination are attracted by the transcendental qualities of Lord Kṛṣṇa.* The purport of this verse is that a liberated soul has absolutely no desire at all for material enjoyment; he is wholly freed from all kinds of material desires, yet still he is irresistibly attracted by the desire to hear and understand the pastimes of the Lord. We may therefore conclude that the glories and pastimes of the Lord are not material. Otherwise, how could the liberated persons known as ātmārāmas be attracted by such pastimes? That is the important point in this verse.
* This ātmārāma verse was once nicely explained by Lord Caitanya to Sanātana Gosvāmī. There is a detailed explanation of this verse in the author’s Teachings of Lord Caitanya.
From the above statement it is found that a devotee is not after any of the stages of liberation. There are five stages of liberation, already explained as being (1) to become one with the Lord, (2) to live on the same planet as the Lord, (3) to obtain the same bodily features as the Lord, (4) to have the same opulences as the Lord and (5) to have constant association with the Lord. Out of these five liberated stages, the one which is known as sāyujya, or to merge into the existence of the Lord, is the last to be accepted by a devotee. The other four liberations, although not desired by devotees, are still not against the devotional ideals. Some of the liberated persons who have achieved these four stages of liberation may also develop affection for Kṛṣṇa and be promoted to the Goloka Vṛndāvana planet in the spiritual sky. In other words, those who are already promoted to the Vaikuṇṭha planets and who possess the four kinds of liberation may also sometimes develop affection for Kṛṣṇa and become promoted to Kṛṣṇaloka.
So those who are in the four liberated states may still be going through different stages of existence. In the beginning they may want the opulences of Kṛṣṇa, but at the mature stage the dormant love for Kṛṣṇa exhibited in Vṛndāvana becomes prominent in their hearts. As such, the pure devotees never accept the liberation of sāyujya, to become one with the Supreme, though sometimes they may accept as favorable the other four liberated states.
Out of many kinds of devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the one who is attracted to the original form of the Lord, Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana, is considered to be the foremost, first-class devotee. Such a devotee is never attracted by the opulences of Vaikuṇṭha or even of Dvārakā, the royal city where Kṛṣṇa ruled. The conclusion of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī is that the devotees who are attracted by the pastimes of the Lord in Gokula,* or Vṛndāvana, are the topmost devotees.
* Vṛndāvana is the transcendental place where Kṛṣṇa enjoys His eternal pastimes as a boy, and it is considered the topmost sphere in all existence. When this Vṛndāvana is exhibited in the material world the place is called Gokula, and in the spiritual world it is called Goloka, or Goloka Vṛndāvana.
A devotee who is attached to a particular form of the Lord does not wish to redirect his devotion to other forms. For example, Hanumān, the devotee of Lord Rāmacandra, knew that there is no difference between Lord Rāmacandra and Lord Nārāyaṇa, and yet he still wanted to render service only unto Lord Rāmacandra. That is due to the specific attraction of a particular devotee. There are many, many forms of the Lord, but Kṛṣṇa is still the original form. Though all of the devotees of the different forms of the Lord are in the same category, still it is said that those who are devotees of Lord Kṛṣṇa are the topmost in the list of all devotees.
CHAPTER FIVE: The Purity of Devotional Service
All of the previous instructions imparted by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī in his broad statements can be summarized thus: As long as one is materially inclined or desirous of merging into the spiritual effulgence, one cannot enter into the realm of pure devotional service. Next, Rūpa Gosvāmī states that devotional service is transcendental to all material considerations and that it is not limited to any particular country, class, society or circumstance. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, devotional service is transcendental and has no cause. Devotional service is executed without any hope for gain, and it cannot be checked by any material circumstances. It is open for all, without any distinction, and it is the constitutional occupation of the living entities.
In the Middle Ages, after the disappearance of Lord Caitanya’s great associate Lord Nityānanda, a class of priestly persons claimed to be the descendants of Nityānanda, calling themselves the gosvāmī caste. They further claimed that the practice and spreading of devotional service belonged only to their particular class, which was known as Nityānanda-vaṁśa. In this way, they exercised their artificial power for some time, until Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, the powerful ācārya of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava sampradāya, completely smashed their idea. There was a great hard struggle for some time, but it has turned out successfully, and it is now correctly and practically established that devotional service is not restricted to a particular class of men. Besides that, anyone who is engaged in devotional service is already at the status of being a high-class brāhmaṇa. So Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s struggle for this movement has come out successful.
It is on the basis of his position that anyone can now become a Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava from any part of the world or any part of the universe. Anyone who is a pure Vaiṣṇava is situated transcendentally, and therefore the highest qualification in the material world, namely, to be in the mode of goodness, has already been achieved by such a person. Our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement in the Western world is based on the above-mentioned proposition of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Prabhupāda, our spiritual master. On his authority, we are claiming members from all sections of the Western countries. The so-called brāhmaṇas claim that one who is not born into a brāhmaṇa family cannot receive the sacred thread and cannot become a high-grade Vaiṣṇava. But we do not accept such a theory because it is not supported by Rūpa Gosvāmī or by the strength of the various scriptures.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī specifically mentions herein that every man has the birthright to accept devotional service and to become Kṛṣṇa conscious. He has given many evidences from many scriptures, and he has especially quoted one passage from Padma Purāṇa, wherein the sage Vasiṣṭha tells King Dilīpa, “My dear King, everyone has the right to execute devotional service, just as he has the right to take early bath in the month of Māgha [December-January].” There is more evidence in the Skanda Purāṇa, in the Kāśī-khaṇḍa portion, where it is said, “In the country known as Mayūradhvaja, the lower-caste people, who are considered less than śūdras, are also initiated in the Vaiṣṇava cult of devotional service. And when they are properly dressed, with tilaka on their bodies and beads in their hands and on their necks, they appear to be coming from Vaikuṇṭha. In fact, they look so very beautiful that immediately they surpass the ordinary brāhmaṇas.”
Thus a Vaiṣṇava automatically becomes a brāhmaṇa. This idea is also supported by Sanātana Gosvāmī in his book Hari-bhakti-vilāsa, which is the Vaiṣṇava guide. Therein he has clearly stated that any person who is properly initiated into the Vaiṣṇava cult certainly becomes a brāhmaṇa, as much as the metal known as kaṁsa (bell metal) is turned into gold by the mixture of mercury. A bona fide spiritual master, under the guidance of authorities, can turn anyone to the Vaiṣṇava cult so that naturally he may come to the topmost position of a brāhmaṇa.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī warns, however, that if a person is properly initiated by a bona fide spiritual master, he should not think that simply by the acceptance of such initiation his business is then finished. One still has to follow the rules and regulations very carefully. If after accepting the spiritual master and being initiated one does not follow the rules and regulations of devotional service, then he is again fallen. One must be very vigilant to remember that he is a part and parcel of the transcendental body of Kṛṣṇa, and that it is his duty as part and parcel to give service to the whole, or Kṛṣṇa. If we do not render service to Kṛṣṇa then again we fall down. In other words, simply becoming initiated does not elevate one to the position of a high-class brāhmaṇa. One also has to discharge the duties and follow the regulative principles very rigidly.
Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī also says that if one is regularly discharging devotional service, there will be no question of a falldown. But even if circumstantially there is some falldown, the Vaiṣṇava need have nothing to do with the prāyaścitta, the ritualistic ceremony for purification. If someone falls down from the principles of devotional service, he need not take to the prāyaścitta performances for reformation. He simply has to execute the rules and regulations for discharging devotional service, and this is sufficient for his reinstatement. This is the mystery of the Vaiṣṇava (devotional) cult.
Practically there are three processes for elevating one to the platform of spiritual consciousness. These processes are called karma, jñāna and bhakti. Ritualistic performances are in the field of karma. Speculative processes are in the field of jñāna. One who has taken to bhakti, the devotional service of the Lord, need have nothing to do with karma or jñāna. It has been already explained that pure devotional service is without any tinge of karma or jñāna. Bhakti should have no tinge of philosophical speculation or ritualistic performances.
In this connection Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī gives evidence from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Eleventh Canto, twenty-first chapter, verse 2, in which Lord Kṛṣṇa says to Uddhava, “The distinction between qualification and disqualification may be made in this way: persons who are already elevated in discharging devotional service will never again take shelter of the processes of fruitive activity or philosophical speculation. If one sticks to devotional service and is conducted by regulative principles given by the authorities and ācāryas, that is the best qualification.”
This statement is supported in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, First Canto, fifth chapter, verse 17, wherein Śrī Nārada Muni advises Vyāsadeva thus: “Even if one does not execute his specific occupational duty but immediately takes direct shelter of the lotus feet of Hari [Kṛṣṇa], there will be no fault on his part, and in all circumstances his position is secure. Even if, by some bad association, he falls down while executing devotional service, or if he doesn’t finish the complete course of devotional service and dies untimely, still he is not at a loss. A person who is simply discharging his occupational duty in varṇa and āśrama, however, with no Kṛṣṇa consciousness, practically does not gain the true benefit of human life.” The purport is that all conditioned souls who are engaged very frantically in activities for sense gratification, without knowing that this process will never help them get out of material contamination, are awarded only with repeated births and deaths.
In the Fifth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is clearly stated by Ṛṣabhadeva to His sons, “Persons engaged in fruitive activities are repeatedly accepting birth and death, and until they develop a loving feeling for Vāsudeva, there will be no question of getting out from these stringent laws of material nature.” As such, any person who is very seriously engaged in his occupational duties in the varṇas and āśramas, and who does not develop love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vāsudeva, should be understood to be simply spoiling his human form of life.
This is confirmed also in the Eleventh Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, eleventh chapter, verse 32, in which the Lord says to Uddhava, “My dear Uddhava, any person who takes shelter of Me in complete surrender and follows My instructions, giving up all occupational duties, is to be considered the first-class man.” In this statement of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, it is understood that people who are generally attracted to philanthropic, ethical, moral, altruistic, political and social welfare activities may be considered nice men only in the calculation of the material world. From Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and other authentic Vedic scriptures we learn further that if a person simply acts in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and discharges devotional service, he is considered to be far, far better situated than all of those persons engaged in philanthropic, ethical, moral, altruistic and social welfare activities.
The same thing is still more emphatically confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Eleventh Canto, fifth chapter, verse 41, in which Karabhājana Muni addresses Mahārāja Nimi as follows: “My dear King, if someone gives up his occupational duties as they are prescribed for the different varṇas and āśramas, but takes complete shelter, surrendering himself unto the lotus feet of the Lord, such a person is no more a debtor, nor has he any obligation to perform the different kinds of activities we render to the great sages, ancestors, living entities and family and society members. Nor has he any need to bother executing the five kinds of yajñās [sacrifices] for becoming free from sinful contamination. Simply by discharging devotional service, he is freed from all kinds of obligations.” The purport is that as soon as a man takes his birth he is immediately indebted to so many sources. He is indebted to the great sages because he profits by reading their authoritative scriptures and books. For example, we take advantage of the books written by Vyāsadeva. Vyāsadeva has left for us all the Vedas. Before Vyāsadeva’s writing, the Vedic literature was simply heard and the disciples would learn the mantras quickly by hearing and not by reading. Later on, Vyāsadeva thought it wise to write down the Vedas, because in this age people are short-memoried and unable to remember all the instructions given by the spiritual master. Therefore, he left all the Vedic knowledge in the form of books, such as the Purāṇas, Vedānta, Mahābhārata and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
There are many other sages, like Śaṅkarācārya, Gautama Muni and Nārada Muni, to whom we are indebted because we take advantage of their knowledge. Similarly, we are obliged to our forefathers because we take our birth in a particular family, where we take all advantages and inherit property. Therefore, we are indebted to the forefathers and have to offer them piṇḍa (prasāda) after they are dead. Similarly, to the people in general we are also indebted, as well as to our relatives, friends and even animals such as cows and dogs who render us so much service.
In this way, we are indebted to the demigods, to the forefathers, to the sages, to the animals and to society in general. It is our duty to repay them all by proper discharge of service. But by the one stroke of devotional service, if someone gives up all obligations and simply surrenders unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he is no longer a debtor nor obliged to any other source of benefit.
In Bhagavad-gītā also the Lord says, “Give up all your occupations and just become surrendered unto Me. I give you assurance that I shall give you protection from all sinful reactions.” One may think that because he is surrendering unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead he will not be able to perform all of his other obligations. But the Lord says repeatedly, “Don’t hesitate. Don’t consider that because you are giving up all other engagements there will be some flaw in your life. Don’t think like that. I will give you all protection.” That is the assurance of Lord Kṛṣṇa in Bhagavad-gītā.
There is additional evidence in the Agastya-saṁhitā: “As the regulative principles of scripture are not required by a liberated person, so the ritualistic principles indicated in the Vedic supplements are also not required for a person duly engaged in the service of Lord Rāmacandra.” In other words, the devotees of Lord Rāmacandra, or Kṛṣṇa, are already liberated persons and are not required to follow all the regulative principles mentioned in the ritualistic portions of the Vedic literature.
Similarly, in the Eleventh Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, fifth chapter, verse 42, Karabhājana Muni addresses King Nimi and says, “My dear King, a person who has given up the worship of the demigods and has completely concentrated his energy in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead has become very, very dear to the Lord. As such, if by chance or mistake he does something that is forbidden, there is no need for him to perform any purificatory ceremonies. Because the Lord is situated within his heart, He takes compassion for the devotee’s accidental mistake and corrects him from within.” It is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā in many places that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, takes a special interest in His devotees and declares emphatically that nothing can cause His devotees to fall down. He is always protecting them.
CHAPTER SIX: How to Discharge Devotional Service
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī states that his elder brother (Sanātana Gosvāmī) has compiled Hari-bhakti-vilāsa for the guidance of the Vaiṣṇavas and therein has mentioned many rules and regulations to be followed by the Vaiṣṇavas. Some of them are very important and prominent, and Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī will now mention these very important items for our benefit. The purport of this statement is that Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī proposes to mention only basic principles, not details. For example, a basic principle is that one has to accept a spiritual master. Exactly how one follows the instructions of his spiritual master is considered a detail. For example, if one is following the instruction of his spiritual master and that instruction is different from the instructions of another spiritual master, this is called detailed information. But the basic principle of acceptance of a spiritual master is good everywhere, although the details may be different. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī does not wish to enter into details here, but wants to place before us only the principles.
He mentions the basic principles as follows: (1) accepting the shelter of the lotus feet of a bona fide spiritual master, (2) becoming initiated by the spiritual master and learning how to discharge devotional service from him, (3) obeying the orders of the spiritual master with faith and devotion, (4) following in the footsteps of great ācāryas (teachers) under the direction of the spiritual master, (5) inquiring from the spiritual master how to advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, (6) being prepared to give up anything material for the satisfaction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa (this means that when we are engaged in the devotional service of Kṛṣṇa, we must be prepared to give up something that we may not like to give up, and also we have to accept something that we may not like to accept), (7) residing in a sacred place of pilgrimage like Dvārakā or Vṛndāvana, (8) accepting only what is necessary, or dealing with the material world only as far as necessary, (9) observing the fasting day on Ekādaśī and (10) worshiping sacred trees like the banyan tree.
These ten items are preliminary necessities for beginning the discharge of devotional service in regulative principles. In the beginning, if a neophyte devotee observes the above-mentioned ten principles, surely he will quickly make good advancement in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
The next set of instructions is listed as follows: (1) One should rigidly give up the company of nondevotees. (2) One should not instruct a person who is not desirous of accepting devotional service. (3) One should not be very enthusiastic about constructing costly temples or monasteries. (4) One should not try to read too many books, nor should one develop the idea of earning his livelihood by lecturing on or professionally reciting Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam or Bhagavad-gītā. (5) One should not be neglectful in ordinary dealings. (6) One should not be under the spell of lamentation in loss or jubilation in gain. (7) One should not disrespect the demigods. (8) One should not give unnecessary trouble to any living entity. (9) One should carefully avoid the various offenses in chanting the holy name of the Lord or in worshiping the Deity in the temple. (10) One should be very intolerant toward the blasphemy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, or His devotees.
Without following the above-mentioned ten principles, one cannot properly elevate himself to the platform of sādhana-bhakti, or devotional service in practice. Altogether, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī mentions twenty items, and all of them are very important. Out of the twenty, the first three – namely, accepting the shelter of a bona fide spiritual master, taking initiation from him and serving him with respect and reverence – are the most important.
The next important items are as follows: (1) One should decorate the body with tilaka, which is the sign of the Vaiṣṇavas. (The idea is that as soon as a person sees these marks on the body of the Vaiṣṇava, he will immediately remember Kṛṣṇa. Lord Caitanya said that a Vaiṣṇava is he who, when seen, reminds one of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, it is essential that a Vaiṣṇava mark his body with tilaka to remind others of Kṛṣṇa.) (2) In marking such tilaka, sometimes one may write Hare Kṛṣṇa on the body. (3) One should accept flowers and garlands that have been offered to the Deity and the spiritual master and put them on one’s body. (4) One should learn to dance before the Deity. (5) One should learn to bow down immediately upon seeing the Deity or the spiritual master. (6) As soon as one visits a temple of Lord Kṛṣṇa, one must stand up. (7) When the Deity is being borne for a stroll in the street, a devotee should immediately follow the procession. (In this connection it may be noted that in India, especially in Viṣṇu temples, the system is that apart from the big Deity who is permanently situated in the main area of the temple, there is a set of smaller Deities that are taken in procession in the evening. In some temples it is the custom to hold a big procession in the evening with a band playing and a nice big umbrella over the Deities, who sit on decorated thrones on the cart or palanquin, which is carried by devotees. The Deities come out onto the street and travel in the neighborhood while the people of the neighborhood come out to offer prasāda. The residents of the neighborhood all follow the procession, so it is a very nice scene. When the Deity is coming out, the servitors in the temple put forward the daily accounts before Them: so much was the collection, so much was the expenditure. The whole idea is that the Deity is considered to be the proprietor of the whole establishment, and all the priests and other people taking care of the temple are considered to be the servants of the Deity. This system is very, very old and is still followed. So therefore it is mentioned here that when the Deity is on stroll the people should follow behind.) (8) A devotee must visit a Viṣṇu temple at least once or twice every day, morning and evening. (In Vṛndāvana this system is followed very strictly. All the devotees in town go every morning and evening to visit different temples. Therefore during these times there are considerable crowds all over the city. There are about five thousand temples in Vṛndāvana city. Of course it is not possible to visit all the temples, but there are at least one dozen very big and important temples, which were started by the Gosvāmīs and which should be visited.)
(9) One must circumambulate the temple building at least three times. (In every temple there is an arrangement to go around the temple at least three times. Some devotees go around more than three times – ten times, fifteen times – according to their vows. The Gosvāmīs used to circumambulate Govardhana Hill.) One should also circumambulate the whole Vṛndāvana area. (10) One must worship the Deity in the temple according to the regulative principles. (Offering ārati and prasāda, decorating the Deity, etc. – these things must be observed regularly.) (11) One must render personal service to the Deities. (12) One must sing. (13) One must perform saṅkīrtana. (14) One must chant. (15) One must offer prayers. (16) One must recite notable prayers. (17) One must taste mahā-prasāda (food from the very plate offered before the Deities). (18) One must drink caraṇāmṛta (water from the bathing of the Deities, which is offered to guests). (19) One must smell the incense and flowers offered to the Deity. (20) One must touch the lotus feet of the Deity. (21) One must see the Deity with great devotion. (22) One must offer ārati (ārātrika) at different times. (23) One must hear about the Lord and His pastimes from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Bhagavad-gītā and similar books. (24) One must pray to the Deity for His mercy. (25) One should remember the Deity. (26) One should meditate upon the Deity. (27) One should render some voluntary service. (28) One should think of the Lord as one’s friend. (29) One should offer everything to the Lord. (30) One should offer a favorite article (such as food or a garment). (31) One should take all kinds of risks and perform all endeavors for Kṛṣṇa’s benefit. (32) In every condition, one should be a surrendered soul. (33) One should pour water on the tulasī tree. (34) One should regularly hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and similar literature. (35) One should live in a sacred place like Mathurā, Vṛndāvana or Dvārakā. (36) One should offer service to Vaiṣṇavas (devotees). (37) One should arrange one’s devotional service according to one’s means. (38) In the month of Kārttika (October and November), one should make arrangements for special services. (39) During Janmāṣṭamī (the time of Kṛṣṇa’s appearance in this world) one should observe a special service. (40) One should do whatever is done with great care and devotion for the Deity. (41) One should relish the pleasure of Bhāgavatam reading among devotees and not among outsiders. (42) One should associate with devotees who are considered more advanced. (43) One should chant the holy name of the Lord. (44) One should live in the jurisdiction of Mathurā.
Now the total regulative principles come to an aggregate of sixty-four items. As we have mentioned, the first are the primary ten regulative principles. Then come the secondary ten regulative principles, and added to these are forty-four other activities. So all together there are sixty-four items for discharging the regulative practice of devotional service. Out of these sixty-four items, five items – namely, worshiping the Deity, hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, associating among the devotees, saṅkīrtana, and living in Mathurā – are very important.
The sixty-four items of devotional service should include all of our activities of body, mind and speech. As stated in the beginning, the regulative principle of devotional service enjoins that all of our senses must be employed in the service of the Lord. Exactly how they can be thus employed is described in the above sixty-four items. Now Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī will give evidence from different scriptures supporting the authenticity of many of these points.
CHAPTER SEVEN: Evidence Regarding Devotional Principles
ACCEPTING THE SHELTER OF A BONA FIDE SPIRITUAL MASTER
ACCEPTING INITIATION FROM THE SPIRITUAL MASTER AND RECEIVING
INSTRUCTIONS FROM HIM
SERVING THE SPIRITUAL MASTER WITH FAITH AND CONFIDENCE
FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF SAINTLY PERSONS
INQUIRING ABOUT ETERNAL RELIGIOUS PRINCIPLES
BEING PREPARED TO GIVE UP EVERYTHING MATERIAL FOR KṚṢṆA’S SATISFACTION
RESIDING IN A SACRED PLACE
ACCEPTING ONLY WHAT IS NECESSARY
OBSERVING FASTING ON EKĀDAŚĪ
OFFERING RESPECT TO THE BANYAN TREES
GIVING UP THE COMPANY OF NONDEVOTEES
NOT ACCEPTING UNFIT DISCIPLES, CONSTRUCTING MANY TEMPLES OR READING MANY BOOKS
STRAIGHTFORWARDNESS IN ORDINARY DEALINGS AND EQUILIBRIUM IN LOSS AND GAIN
NOT GIVING PAIN TO ANY LIVING ENTITY
CHAPTER EIGHT: Offenses to Be Avoided
In the supplementary Vedic literature, there is the following list of thirty-two offenses in the matter of serving the Lord: (1) One should not enter the temple of the Deity in a car or palanquin or with shoes on the feet. (2) One should not fail to observe the various festivals for the pleasure of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, such as Janmāṣṭamī and Ratha-yātrā. (3) One should not avoid bowing down before the Deity. (4) One should not enter the temple to worship the Lord without having washed one’s hands and feet after eating. (5) One should not enter the temple in a contaminated state. (According to Vedic scripture, if someone dies in the family the whole family becomes contaminated for some time, according to its status. For example, if the family is brāhmaṇa their contamination period is twelve days, for the kṣatriyas and vaiśyas it is fifteen days, and for śūdras thirty days.) (6) One should not bow down on one hand. (7) One should not circumambulate in front of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. (The process of circumambulating the temple is that one should begin circumambulating from the Deity’s right-hand side of the temple and come round. Such circumambulation should be performed outside the temple structure at least three times daily.) (8) One should not spread his legs before the Deity. (9) One should not sit before the Deity holding the ankles, elbows or knees with one’s hands. (10) One should not lie down before the Deity of Kṛṣṇa. (11) One should not accept prasāda before the Deity. (12) One should never speak a lie before the Deity. (13) One should not talk very loudly before the Deity. (14) One should not talk with others before the Deity. (15) One should not cry or howl before the Deity. (16) One should not quarrel or fight before the Deity. (17) One should not chastise anyone before the Deity. (18) One should not be charitable to beggars before the Deity. (19) One should not speak very harshly to others before the Deity. (20) One should not wear a fur blanket before the Deity. (21) One should not eulogize or praise anyone else before the Deity. (22) One should not speak any ill names before the Deity. (23) One should not pass air before the Deity. (24) One should not fail to worship the Deity according to one’s means. (In Bhagavad-gītā it is stated that the Lord is satisfied if some devotee offers Him even a leaf or a little water. This formula prescribed by the Lord is universally applicable, even for the poorest man. But that does not mean that one who has sufficient means to worship the Lord very nicely should also adopt this method and try to satisfy the Lord simply by offering water and a leaf. If he has sufficient means, he should offer nice decorations, nice flowers and nice foodstuffs and observe all ceremonies. It is not that one should try to satisfy the Supreme Lord with a little water and a leaf, and for himself spend all his money in sense gratification.) (25) One should not eat anything that is not offered first to Kṛṣṇa. (26) One should not fail to offer fresh fruit and grains to Kṛṣṇa according to the season. (27) After food has been cooked, no one should be offered any foodstuff unless it is first offered to the Deity. (28) One should not sit with his back toward the Deity. (29) One should not offer obeisances silently to the spiritual master, or in other words, one should recite aloud the prayers to the spiritual master while offering obeisances. (30) One should not fail to offer some praise in the presence of the spiritual master. (31) One should not praise himself before the spiritual master. (32) One should not deride the demigods before the Deity.
This is a list of thirty-two offenses. Besides these there are a number of offenses which are mentioned in the Varāha Purāṇa. They are as follows: (1) One should not touch the Deity in a dark room. (2) One should not fail to strictly follow the rules and regulations in worshiping the Deity. (3) One should not enter the temple of the Deity without first making some sound. (4) One should not offer any foodstuff to the Deity which has been seen by dogs or other lower animals. (5) One should not break silence while worshiping. (6) One should not pass urine or evacuate while engaged in worshiping. (7) One should not offer incense without offering some flower. (8) Useless flowers without any fragrance should not be offered. (9) One should not fail to wash his teeth very carefully every day. (10) One should not enter the temple directly after sexual intercourse. (11) One should not enter the temple after touching a woman during her menstrual period. (12) One should not enter the temple after touching a dead body. (13) One should not enter the temple wearing garments of red or blue color or garments which are unwashed. (14) One should not enter the temple after seeing a dead body. (15) One should not pass air within the temple. (16) One should not be angry within the temple. (17) One should not enter the temple after visiting a crematorium. (18) One should not belch before the Deity. So, until one has fully digested his food, he should not enter the temple. (19) One should not smoke marijuana, or gañjā. (20) One should not take opium or similar intoxicants. (21) One should not enter the Deity room or touch the body of the Deity after having smeared oil over his body. (22) One should not show disrespect to a scripture teaching about the supremacy of the Lord. (23) One should not introduce any opposing scripture. (24) One should not chew betel before the Deity. (25) One should not offer a flower that was kept in an unclean pot. (26) One should not worship the Lord while sitting on the bare floor; one must have a sitting place or carpet. (27) One should not touch the Deity before one has completed taking bath. (28) One should not decorate his forehead with the three-lined tilaka. (29) One should not enter the temple without washing his hands and feet.
Other rules are that one should not offer foodstuff which is cooked by a non-Vaiṣṇava, one should not worship the Deity before a nondevotee, and one should not engage himself in the worship of the Lord while seeing a nondevotee. One should not worship the Deity without first worshiping the demigod Gaṇapati, who drives away all impediments in the execution of devotional service. In the Brahma-saṁhitā it is stated that Gaṇapati worships the lotus feet of Lord Nṛsiṁha-deva and in that way has become auspicious for the devotees in clearing out all impediments. Therefore, all devotees should worship Gaṇapati. The Deities should not be bathed in water that has been touched by the nails or fingers. When a devotee is perspiring, he should not engage himself in worshiping the Deity. Similarly, there are many other prohibitions. For example, one should not cross or step over the flowers offered to the Deities, nor should one take a vow in the name of God. These are all different kinds of offenses in the matter of executing devotional service, and one should be careful to avoid them.
In the Padma Purāṇa it is stated that even a person whose life is completely sinful will be completely protected by the Lord if he simply surrenders unto Him. So it is accepted that one who surrenders unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead becomes free from all sinful reactions. And even when a person becomes an offender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, he can still be delivered simply by taking shelter of the holy names of the Lord: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. In other words, the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa is beneficial for eradicating all sins, but if one becomes an offender to the holy names of the Lord, then he has no chance of being delivered.
The offenses against the chanting of the holy name are as follows: (1) To blaspheme the devotees who have dedicated their lives for propagating the holy name of the Lord. (2) To consider the names of demigods like Lord Śiva or Lord Brahmā to be equal to, or independent of, the name of Lord Viṣṇu. (Sometimes the atheistic class of men take it that any demigod is as good as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Viṣṇu. But one who is a devotee knows that no demigod, however great he may be, is independently as good as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore, if someone thinks that he can chant “Kālī, Kālī!” or “Durgā, Durgā!”and it is the same as Hare Kṛṣṇa, that is the greatest offense.) (3) To disobey the orders of the spiritual master. (4) To blaspheme the Vedic literature or literature in pursuance of the Vedic version. (5) To consider the glories of chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa to be imagination. (6) To give some interpretation on the holy name of the Lord. (7) To commit sinful activities on the strength of the holy name of the Lord. (It should not be taken that because by chanting the holy name of the Lord one can be freed from all kinds of sinful reaction, one may continue to act sinfully and after that chant Hare Kṛṣṇa to neutralize his sins. Such a dangerous mentality is very offensive and should be avoided.) (8) To consider the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa one of the auspicious ritualistic activities offered in the Vedas as fruitive activities (karma-kāṇḍa). (9) To instruct a faithless person about the glories of the holy name. (Anyone can take part in chanting the holy name of the Lord, but in the beginning one should not be instructed about the transcendental potency of the Lord. Those who are too sinful cannot appreciate the transcendental glories of the Lord, and therefore it is better not to instruct them in this matter.) (10) To not have complete faith in the chanting of the holy names and to maintain material attachments, even after understanding so many instructions on this matter.
Every devotee who claims to be a Vaiṣṇava must guard against these offenses in order to quickly achieve the desired success.
CHAPTER NINE: Further Consideration of Devotional Principles
TILAKA AND TULASĪ BEADS
ACCEPTING FLOWER GARLANDS
DANCING BEFORE THE DEITY
BOWING DOWN IN HONOR OF THE DEITY
STANDING UP TO RECEIVE THE LORD
FOLLOWING THE DEITY
GOING TO THE TEMPLE OF VIṢṆU OR TO PLACES OF PILGRIMAGE
CIRCUMAMBULATING THE TEMPLE OF VIṢṆU
RENDERING SERVICE TO THE LORD
RECITING NOTABLE PRAYERS
PARTAKING OF PRASĀDA
SMELLING THE INCENSE OR FLOWERS OFFERED TO THE DEITY
TOUCHING THE DEITY
SEEING THE DEITY
OBSERVING ĀRATI AND CELEBRATIONS OF THE LORD
CHAPTER TEN: Techniques of Hearing and Remembering
EXPECTING THE LORD’S MERCY
CHAPTER ELEVEN: Aspects of Transcendental Service
DEVOTIONAL SERVICE IN FRIENDSHIP
SURRENDERING EVERYTHING TO THE LORD
OFFERING A FAVORITE ARTICLE
PERFORMING ALL ENDEAVORS FOR KṚṢṆA
BEING A SURRENDERED SOUL
SERVING TREES SUCH AS THE TULASĪ
CHAPTER TWELVE: Further Aspects of Transcendental Service
HEARING THE REVEALED SCRIPTURES
RESIDING IN MATHURĀ
RENDERING SERVICE TO DEVOTEES
SERVING THE LORD ACCORDING TO ONE’S POSITION
PERFORMING DEVOTIONAL SERVICE IN KĀRTTIKA
OBSERVING FESTIVALS CELEBRATING THE LORD’S ACTIVITIES
SERVING THE DEITY WITH GREAT DEVOTION
RECITATION OF ŚRĪMAD-BHĀGAVATAM AMONG DEVOTEES
ASSOCIATING WITH ADVANCED DEVOTEES
CHANTING THE HOLY NAME OF THE LORD
LIVING IN MATHURĀ
CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Five Potent Forms of Devotional Service
Rūpa Gosvāmī has stated that five kinds of devotional activities – namely, residing in Mathurā, worshiping the Deity of the Lord, reciting Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, serving a devotee and chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra – are so potent that a small attachment to any one of these five items can arouse devotional ecstasy even in a neophyte.
Regarding worship of the form of the Lord, or Deity, Rūpa Gosvāmī has written the following verse: “My dear friend, if you still have any desire to enjoy the company of your friends within this material world, then don’t look upon the form of Kṛṣṇa, who is standing on the bank of Keśī-ghāṭa [a bathing place in Vṛndāvana]. He is known as Govinda, and His eyes are very enchanting. He is playing upon His flute, and on His head there is a peacock feather. And His whole body is illuminated by the moonlight in the sky.”
The purport of this verse is that if someone becomes attached to the śrī-mūrti, or Deity of Kṛṣṇa, by worshiping at home, then he will forget his relationships of so-called friendship, love and society. Thus it is the duty of every householder to install Deities of the Lord at home and to begin the process of worshiping along with all of his family members. This will save everyone from such unwanted activities as going to clubs, cinemas and dancing parties, and smoking, drinking, etc. All such nonsense will be forgotten if one stresses the worship of the Deities at home.
Rūpa Gosvāmī further writes, “My dear foolish friend, I think that you have already heard some of the auspicious Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which decries seeking the results of fruitive activities, economic development and liberation. I think that now it is certain that gradually the verses of the Tenth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, describing the pastimes of the Lord, will enter your ears and go into your heart.”
In the beginning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is said that unless one has the ability to throw out, just like garbage, the fruitive results of ritualistic ceremonies, economic development and becoming one with the Supreme (or salvation), one cannot understand Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The Bhāgavatam deals exclusively with devotional service. Only one who studies Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in the spirit of renunciation can understand the pastimes of the Lord that are described in the Tenth Canto. In other words, one should not try to understand the topics of the Tenth Canto, such as the rāsa-līlā (love dance), unless he has spontaneous attraction for Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. One must be situated in pure devotional service before he can relish Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam as it is.
In the above two verses of Rūpa Gosvāmī there are some metaphorical analogies that indirectly condemn the association of materialistic society, friendship and love. People are generally attracted to society, friendship and love, and they make elaborate arrangements and strong endeavors to develop these material contaminations. But to see the śrī-mūrtis of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa is to forget such endeavors for material association. Rūpa Gosvāmī composed his verse in such a way that he was seemingly praising the material association of friendship and love and was condemning the audience of śrī-mūrti or Govinda. This metaphorical analogy is constructed in such a way that things that seem to be praised are condemned, and things that are to be condemned are praised. The actual import of the verse is that one must see the form of Govinda if one at all wants to forget the nonsense of material friendship, love and society.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has similarly described the transcendental nature of relishing topics that concern Kṛṣṇa. A devotee once said, “It is very astonishing that since I have seen this Personality of Godhead, who is washed by the tears of my eyes, there is shivering of my body and He has made me a failure in executing my material duties. Since seeing Him, I cannot remain silently at home. I wish to go out to Him always.” The purport of this statement is that as soon as one is fortunate enough to contact a pure devotee, one must be anxious immediately to hear about Kṛṣṇa, to learn about Kṛṣṇa, or, in other words, to become fully Kṛṣṇa conscious.
Similarly, there is a statement about hearing and chanting the mahā-mantra: “It is said that saints have been able to hear the vibrating strings of the vīṇā in the hands of Nārada, who is always singing the glories of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Now this same sound vibration has entered my ears, and I am always feeling the presence of the Supreme Personality. Gradually I am becoming bereft of all attachment for material enjoyment.”
Again, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has described Mathurā-maṇḍala: “I remember the Lord standing by the banks of the Yamunā River, so beautiful amid the kadamba trees, where many birds are chirping in the gardens. And these impressions are always giving me transcendental realization of beauty and bliss.” This feeling about Mathurā-maṇḍala and Vṛndāvana described by Rūpa Gosvāmī can actually be felt even by nondevotees. The places in the eighty-four-square-mile district of Mathurā are so beautifully situated on the banks of the river Yamunā that anyone who goes there will never want to return to this material world. These statements by Rūpa Gosvāmī are factually realized descriptions of Mathurā and Vṛndāvana. All these qualities prove that Mathurā and Vṛndāvana are situated transcendentally. Otherwise, there would be no possibility of invoking our transcendental sentiments in these places. Such transcendental feelings are aroused immediately and without fail after one arrives in Mathurā or Vṛndāvana.
In these statements about devotional service, sometimes it may appear that the results have been overestimated, but actually there is no overestimation. Some devotees, as revealed scriptures give evidence, have had immediate results by such association, although this is not possible for all. For example, the Kumāras immediately became devotees simply by smelling the incense in the temple. Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura simply heard about Kṛṣṇa and then immediately gave up his beautiful girlfriend and started out for Mathurā and Vṛndāvana, where he became a perfect Vaiṣṇava. So these statements are not overestimations, nor are they stories. They are actual facts, but are true for certain devotees and do not necessarily apply to all. These descriptions, even if considered overestimations, must be taken as they are in order to divert our attention from the fleeting material beauty to the eternal beauty of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. And for a person who is already in contact with Kṛṣṇa consciousness, the described results are not unusual.
Some scholars argue that simply by following the principles of varṇa and āśrama one can gradually rise to the perfections reached by practicing devotional service, but this argument is not accepted by the great authorities. Lord Caitanya also condemned this idea while He was talking with Rāmānanda Rāya about the gradual development of devotional service. He rejected the idea of the importance of varṇāśrama-dharma when it was put forward by Rāmānanda Rāya. He said that this advancement of varṇa and āśrama is merely external. There is a higher principle. In Bhagavad-gītā also the Lord says that one has to give up all other principles of elevation and take simply to the method of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That will help one in achieving the highest perfection of life.
In the Eleventh Canto, twentieth chapter, verse 9 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the Lord Himself says, “One should execute the prescribed duties of varṇa and āśrama as long as he has not developed spontaneous attachment for hearing about My pastimes and activities.” In other words, the prescribed forms of varṇa and āśrama are ritualistic ceremonies of religion intended for economic development, sense gratification or salvation. All of these things are recommended for persons who have not developed Kṛṣṇa consciousness; in fact, all such activities are recommended in the revealed scriptures only to bring one to the point of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. But one who has already developed spontaneous attachment for Kṛṣṇa does not require to execute the duties prescribed in the scriptures.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Devotional Qualifications
Some scholars recommend that knowledge and renunciation are important factors for elevating oneself to devotional service. But actually that is not a fact. Actually, the cultivation of knowledge or renunciation, which are favorable for achieving a footing in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, may be accepted in the beginning, but ultimately they may also come to be rejected, for devotional service is dependent on nothing other than the sentiment or desire for such service. It requires nothing more than sincerity.
It is the opinion of expert devotees that mental speculation and the artificial austerities of yoga practice may be favorable for becoming liberated from material contamination, but they will also make one’s heart harder and harder. They will not help at all in the progress of devotional service. These processes are therefore not favorable for entering into the transcendental loving service of the Lord. Actually, Kṛṣṇa consciousness – devotional service itself – is the only way of advancing in devotional life. Devotional service is absolute; it is both the cause and the effect. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the cause and effect of all that be, and to approach Him, the Absolute, the process of devotional service – which is also absolute – has to be adopted.
This is confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā by the Lord Himself: “One can understand Me only through devotional service.” In beginning His teaching of the Gītā the Lord said to Arjuna, “Because you are My devotee, I shall teach these secrets to you.” Vedic knowledge means ultimately to understand the Supreme Lord, and the process of entering into His kingdom is devotional service. That is accepted by all authentic scriptures. Mental speculators neglect the process of devotional service, and by simply trying to defeat others in philosophical research they fail to develop the ecstasy of devotion.
In the Eleventh Canto, twentieth chapter, verse 31 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam Kṛṣṇa says, “My dear Uddhava, for persons who are seriously engaged in My service, the cultivation of philosophical speculation and artificial renunciation are not very favorable. When a person becomes My devotee he automatically attains the fruits of the renunciation of material enjoyment, and he gets sufficient knowledge to understand the Absolute Truth.” That is the test of advancement in devotional service. A devotee cannot be in darkness, because the Lord shows him special favor and enlightens him from within.
In the Eleventh Canto, twentieth chapter, verses 32 and 33 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam the Lord further instructs Uddhava, “My dear friend, the profits derived from fruitive activities, austerities, the culture of philosophical knowledge, renunciation, the practice of mystic yoga, charity and all similar auspicious activities are automatically achieved by My devotees – those who are simply attached to Me by loving service. These devotees have everything at their disposal, but they desire nothing outside of My devotional service. If ever a devotee should desire some material profit, like promotion to the heavenly planets, or some spiritual profit – to go to the Vaikuṇṭhas – by My causeless mercy his desires are very easily fulfilled.”
Actually, a person who is developing Kṛṣṇa consciousness and still has some attachment to material enjoyment will soon be freed from such a tendency by regularly discharging devotional service under the instruction of a bona fide spiritual master.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, then, recommends that one should not be attached to material sense enjoyment but should accept everything enjoyable that is in relationship to Kṛṣṇa. For example, eating is necessary, and one wants some palatable dishes to satisfy his sense of taste. So in that case, for the satisfaction of Kṛṣṇa rather than for the satisfaction of the tongue, some palatable dishes may be prepared and offered to Kṛṣṇa. Then it is renunciation. Let the palatable dishes be prepared, but unless they are offered to Kṛṣṇa one should not accept them for eating. This vow of rejecting anything that is not offered to Kṛṣṇa is actually renunciation. And by such renunciation one is able to satisfy the demands of the senses.
The impersonalists, who try to avoid everything material, may undergo severe austerities, but they miss the opportunity of being engaged in the service of the Lord. Thus their renunciation is not sufficient for perfection. There are many instances where, following such artificial renunciation without any contact with devotional service, the impersonalist again fell down and became attracted to material contamination. There are many supposed renouncers even at the present moment who officially become sannyāsīs, or renouncers, and outwardly claim that spiritual existence is truth and material existence untruth. In this way, artificially they make a show of renunciation of the material world. However, because they cannot reach the point of devotional service, they fail to achieve the goal, and they again come back to material activities, such as philanthropic work and political agitation. There are many examples of so-called sannyāsīs who gave up the world as untruth but again came to the material world because they were not seeking their real repose at the lotus feet of the Lord.
One should not give up anything that can be utilized in the service of the Lord. That is a secret of devotional service. Anything that can be utilized in advancing Kṛṣṇa consciousness and devotional service should be accepted. For instance, we are using many machines for the advancement of our present Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, machines like typewriters, dictating machines, tape recorders, microphones and airplanes. Sometimes people ask us, “Why are you utilizing material products if you condemn the advancement of material civilization?” But actually we do not condemn. We simply ask people to do whatever they are doing in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This is the same principle on which, in Bhagavad-gītā, Kṛṣṇa advised Arjuna to utilize his fighting abilities in devotional service. Similarly, we are utilizing these machines for Kṛṣṇa’s service. With such sentiment for Kṛṣṇa, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, we can accept everything. If the typewriter can be utilized for advancing our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, we must accept it. Similarly, the dictating machine or any other machine must be used. Our vision is that Kṛṣṇa is everything. Kṛṣṇa is the cause and effect, and nothing belongs to us. Kṛṣṇa’s things must be used in the service of Kṛṣṇa. That is our vision.
This does not mean, however, that we should give up the principles of discharging devotional service or neglect abiding by the rules and regulations prescribed therein. In the neophyte stage of devotion one must follow all the principles, regulated by the authority of the spiritual master. The acceptance and rejection of things should always be in pursuance of the devotional principles; not that one can independently manufacture some idea of what should be accepted or rejected. The spiritual master as the visible manifestation of Kṛṣṇa is necessary, therefore, to direct the devotee on behalf of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The spiritual master must never be carried away by an accumulation of wealth or a large number of followers. A bona fide spiritual master will never become like that. But sometimes, if a spiritual master is not properly authorized and only on his own initiative becomes a spiritual master, he may be carried away by an accumulation of wealth and large numbers of disciples. His is not a very high grade of devotional service. If a person is carried away by such achievements, then his devotional service becomes slackened. One should therefore strictly adhere to the principles of disciplic succession.
A Kṛṣṇa conscious person, being naturally purified, has no need of developing any other purificatory process of thought or action. On account of his being highly elevated in Kṛṣṇa consciousness he has already acquired all the good qualities and is following the rules and regulations prescribed for the mystic yogic process. Such rules are automatically practiced by the devotees. A concrete example is the quality of nonviolence, which is considered a good qualification. A devotee is naturally nonviolent and therefore doesn’t have to practice nonviolence separately. Some people seek purification by joining a vegetarian movement, but a devotee is automatically a vegetarian. He doesn’t need to practice separately in this matter or to join any society for vegetarians. He is automatically a vegetarian.
There are many other instances showing that a devotee needn’t practice anything but Kṛṣṇa consciousness; all the good qualities of the demigods automatically develop within him. Those who are intentionally practicing to be vegetarians or to become nonviolent may have good qualifications by a material estimation, but these qualifications are not sufficient to make them devotees. A vegetarian is not necessarily a devotee, nor is a nonviolent person. But a devotee is automatically both vegetarian and nonviolent. We must conclude, therefore, that vegetarianism or nonviolence is not the cause of devotion.
In this connection, there is a story in the Skanda Purāṇa about a hunter who was converted into a great devotee under the instruction of Nārada Muni. When the hunter became a perfect devotee he was not prepared to kill even an ant. Parvata Muni, a friend of Nārada’s, saw the wonderful transformation of the hunter by devotional service and remarked, “My dear hunter, your unwillingness to kill even an ant is not very astonishing. Any person who develops the devotional attitude has all the good qualities automatically manifested in his person. A devotee is never a cause of distress to anyone.”
Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī affirms herein that purification of consciousness, purification of bodily activities, austerities, peace of mind, etc., all become automatically manifest in the person who is engaged in devotional service.
Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī affirms herein that there are nine different kinds of devotional service, which are listed as hearing, chanting, remembering, serving, worshiping the Deity in the temple, praying, carrying out orders, serving Kṛṣṇa as a friend and sacrificing everything for Him. Each and every one of these processes is so powerful that if anyone follows even a single one of them he can achieve the desired perfection without fail. For example, if one is attached simply to hearing about the Lord and another is attached to chanting the glories of the name, both will achieve their desired goal in devotional service. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta this has been explained. One may execute one, two, three or all the different processes of devotional service, and at the ultimate end he will achieve the desired goal of being established in devotional service.
There are concrete examples of how a devotee discharged one of these services and achieved perfection. King Parīkṣit achieved the desired goal of life simply by hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Śukadeva Gosvāmī achieved the desired goal of life simply by reciting Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Prahlāda Mahārāja became successful in his devotional service by always remembering the Lord. Lakṣmī, the goddess of fortune, was successful by engaging herself in massaging the lotus feet of the Lord. King Pṛthu became successful by worshiping in the temple. Akrūra became successful by offering prayers. Hanumān became successful by rendering personal service to Lord Rāmacandra. Arjuna became successful by being a friend of Kṛṣṇa. And Bali Mahārāja became successful simply by offering all of his possessions to Kṛṣṇa.
There are also examples of devotees who discharged all the different items together. In the Ninth Canto, fourth chapter, verses 18, 19 and 20 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, there is a statement about Mahārāja Ambarīṣa, who followed every one of the devotional processes. In these verses, Śukadeva Gosvāmī says, “King Ambarīṣa first of all concentrated his mind on the lotus feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa and then engaged his speech in describing the pastimes and activities of the Lord. He engaged his hands in washing the temple of the Lord. He engaged his ears in hearing of the transcendental glories of the Lord. He engaged his eyes in seeing the beautiful Deity in the temple. He engaged his body in associating with the pure devotees of the Lord. [When you associate with someone you have to sit down together, eat together, etc. – and in this way the touch of your body with his body is inevitable. Ambarīṣa Mahārāja made his association only with pure devotees and did not allow his body to be touched by anyone else.] He engaged his nostrils in smelling the flowers and tulasī offered to Kṛṣṇa, and he engaged his tongue in tasting kṛṣṇa-prasāda [food prepared specifically for offering to the Lord, the remnants of which are taken by the devotees]. Mahārāja Ambarīṣa was able to offer very nice prasāda to Kṛṣṇa because he was a king and had no scarcity of finances. He used to offer Kṛṣṇa the most royal dishes and would then taste the remnants as kṛṣṇa-prasāda. There was no scarcity in his royal style, because he had a very beautiful temple wherein the Deity of the Lord was decorated with costly paraphernalia and offered high-grade food. So everything was available, and his engagement was always completely in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.” The idea is that we should follow in the footsteps of great devotees. If we are unable to execute all the different items of devotional service, we must try to execute at least one of them, as exemplified by previous ācāryas. If we are engaged in the execution of all the items of devotional service, as was Mahārāja Ambarīṣa, then the perfection of devotional service is guaranteed from each one of these items. With the first complete engagement, one becomes automatically detached from material contamination, and liberation becomes the maidservant of the devotee. This idea is confirmed by Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura. If one develops unalloyed devotion to the Lord, liberation will follow the devotee as his maidservant.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī says that the regulative principles of devotional service are sometimes described by authorities as the path of serving the Lord in opulence.
CHAPTER FIFTEEN: Spontaneous Devotional Service
Examples of spontaneous devotional service can easily be seen in Kṛṣṇa’s direct associates in Vṛndāvana. The spontaneous dealings of the residents of Vṛndāvana in relationship with Kṛṣṇa are called rāgānugā. These beings don’t have to learn anything about devotional service; they are already perfect in all regulative principles and have achieved the spontaneous loving service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. For example, the cowherd boys who are playing with Kṛṣṇa do not have to learn by austerities or penances or yogic practice how to play with Him. They have passed all tests of regulative principles in their previous lives, and as a result they are now elevated to the position of direct association with Kṛṣṇa as His dear friends. Their spontaneous attitude is called rāgānugā-bhakti.
Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī has defined rāgānugā-bhakti as spontaneous attraction for something while completely absorbed in thoughts of it, with an intense desire of love. Devotional service executed with such feelings of spontaneous love is called rāgānugā-bhakti. Devotional service under the heading of rāgānugā can be further divided into two categories: one category is called “sensual attraction,” and the other is called “relationship.”
In this connection, there is a statement by Nārada Muni to Yudhiṣṭhira in the Seventh Canto, first chapter, verse 30 of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. There Nārada says, “My dear King, there are many devotees who first become attracted to the Personality of Godhead for purposes of sense gratification, from being envious of Him, out of fear of Him or from desiring to associate affectionately with Him. Ultimately these attractions become freed from all material contamination, and gradually the worshiper develops spiritual love and achieves that ultimate goal of life desired by the pure devotee.”
The gopīs may be considered to be examples of spontaneous love in sensual attraction. The gopīs are young girls and Kṛṣṇa is a young boy. Superficially it seems that the gopīs are attracted to Kṛṣṇa on grounds of sex. Similarly, King Kaṁsa was attracted to Kṛṣṇa because of fear. Kaṁsa was always fearful of Kṛṣṇa because it had been foretold that his sister’s son, Kṛṣṇa, would kill him. Śiśupāla was also always envious of Kṛṣṇa. And the descendants of King Yadu, due to their family relationship with Kṛṣṇa, were always thinking of Him as one of their members. All of these different kinds of devotees have a spontaneous attraction for Kṛṣṇa in different categories, and they achieve the same desired goal of life.
The attraction of the gopīs for Kṛṣṇa and the affection of the members of the Yadu dynasty are both accepted as spontaneous, or rāgānugā. The attraction of Kaṁsa to Kṛṣṇa in fear and the attraction of Śiśupāla in envy are not accepted as devotional service, however, because their attitudes are not favorable. Devotional service should be executed only in a favorable frame of mind. Therefore, according to Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, such attractions are not considered to be in devotional service. Again, he analyzes the affection of the Yadus. If it is on the platform of friendship, then it is spontaneous love, but if it is on the platform of regulative principles, then it is not. And only when affection comes to the platform of spontaneous love is it counted in the category of pure devotional service.
There may be some difficulty in understanding that both the gopīs and Kaṁsa achieved the same goal, so this point should be clearly understood, because the attitudes of Kaṁsa and Śiśupāla were different from that of the gopīs. Although in all these cases the focus is on the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and all of the devotees are elevated to the spiritual world, there is still a distinction between these two classes of souls. In the First Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is said that the Absolute Truth is one and that He is manifested as impersonal Brahman, Paramātmā (Supersoul) and Bhagavān (the Supreme Personality of Godhead). Here is a spiritual distinction. Although Brahman, Paramātmā and Bhagavān are the same-and-one Absolute Truth, devotees like Kaṁsa or Śiśupāla could attain only to the Brahman effulgence. They could not have realization of Paramātmā or Bhagavān. That is the distinction.
An analogy can be given with the sun globe and the sunshine: to remain in the sunshine does not mean one has gone to the sun globe. The temperature of the sun globe is different from the temperature of the sunshine. One who has gone through the sunshine in jet planes or in spaceships has not necessarily gone to the sun globe. Although the sunshine and the sun globe are actually one and the same, still there is a distinction, for one is the energy and one is the energetic source. The Absolute Truth and His bodily effulgence are in the same way simultaneously one and different. Kaṁsa and Śiśupāla attained to the Absolute Truth, but they were not allowed to enter into the Goloka Vṛndāvana abode. Impersonalists and the enemies of the Lord are, because of attraction to God, allowed to enter into His kingdom, but they are not allowed to enter into the Vaikuṇṭha planets or the Goloka Vṛndāvana planet of the Supreme Lord. To enter the kingdom and to enter the king’s palace are not the same thing.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī is trying here to describe the different achievements of the impersonalists and the personalists. Generally, those who are impersonalists and are inimical to the Supreme Personality of Godhead get entrance only into the impersonal Brahman, when and if they reach spiritual perfection. The impersonalist philosophers are in one sense like the enemies of the Lord because the out-and-out enemies of the Lord and the impersonalists are both allowed to enter only into the impersonal effulgence of the brahma-jyotir. So it is to be understood that they are of similar classification. And actually the impersonalists are enemies of God because they cannot tolerate the unparalleled opulence of the Lord. They try always to place themselves on the same level with the Lord. That is due to their envious attitude. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has proclaimed the impersonalists to be offenders of the Lord. The Lord is so kind, however, that even though they are His enemies, they are still allowed to enter into the spiritual kingdom and remain in the impersonal brahma-jyotir, the undifferentiated light of the Absolute.
Sometimes an impersonalist may gradually elevate himself to the personal conception of the Lord. Bhagavad-gītā confirms this: “After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me.” By such surrender, an impersonalist can be elevated to the Vaikuṇṭha-loka (spiritual planet) where, as a surrendered soul, he attains bodily features like those of the Lord.
In the Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa it is stated, “Those who have achieved liberation from material contamination and those who are demons and are killed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead become absorbed in the Brahman concept of life and reside in the spiritual sky of the brahma-jyotir.” That spiritual sky is far beyond the material sky, and it is confirmed also in Bhagavad-gītā that beyond this material sky there is another, eternal sky. The enemies and the impersonalists may be allowed to enter into this Brahman effulgence, but the devotees of Kṛṣṇa are promoted all the way to the spiritual planets. Because the pure devotees have developed their spontaneous love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they are allowed to enter into the spiritual planets to enjoy spiritual bliss in association with the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
In the Tenth Canto, eighty-seventh chapter, verse 23 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the Vedas personified address the Lord in this way: “My dear Lord, yogīs meditate upon Your localized feature, and thus they achieve the spiritual perfection of being merged in the impersonal brahma-jyotir. Persons who treat You as an enemy achieve the same perfection without meditating. The gopīs, who are embraced by Your serpentine hands and who have such lusty attitudes, also achieve the same perfection. And as far as we are concerned, being different demigods in charge of the different parts of Vedic knowledge, we are always following in the footsteps of the gopīs. Thus we hope to attain the same perfection.” By “the same perfection” we must always remember the example of the sun and the sunshine. Those who are impersonalists can merge into the sunshinelike brahma-jyotir, whereas those who are in love with the Supreme Person enter into the supreme abode of the Lord, Goloka Vṛndāvana.
The “lusty attitude” of the gopīs does not refer to any sort of sex indulgence. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī explains that this “lusty desire” refers to the devotee’s particular attitude of association with Kṛṣṇa. Every devotee in his perfectional stage has a spontaneous attraction to the Lord. This attraction is sometimes called the “lusty desire” of the devotee. The lust is the devotee’s excessive desire to serve the Lord in a particular capacity. Such a desire may seem to be a desire for enjoying the Lord, but actually the endeavor is to serve the Lord in that capacity. For example, a devotee may be desiring to associate with the Personality of Godhead as His cowherd friend. He will want to serve the Lord by assisting Him in controlling the cows in the pasturing ground. This may appear to be a desire to enjoy the company of the Lord, but actually it is spontaneous love, serving Him by assisting in managing the transcendental cows.
This extreme desire to serve the Lord is manifest in the transcendental land of Vraja. And it is specifically manifested among the gopīs. The gopīs’ love for Kṛṣṇa is so elevated that for our understanding it is sometimes explained as being “lusty desire.”
The author of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Kavirāja Kṛṣṇadāsa, has explained the distinction between lusty desire and the service attitude in this statement: “ ‘Lusty desire’ refers to the desire to gratify one’s personal senses, and ‘transcendental desire’ refers to the desire for serving the senses of the Lord.” In the material world there is no such thing as a lover’s wanting to please the senses of his beloved. Actually, in the material world, everyone wants mainly to gratify his own personal senses. The gopīs, however, wanted nothing at all but to gratify the senses of the Lord, and there is no instance of this in the material world. Therefore the gopīs’ ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa is sometimes described by scholars as being like the “lusty desire” of the material world, but actually this should not be taken as a literal fact. It is simply a way of trying to understand the transcendental situation.
Great devotees up to the standard of Uddhava are very dear friends of the Lord, and they desire to follow in the footsteps of the gopīs. So the gopīs’ love for Kṛṣṇa is certainly not material lusty desire. Otherwise, how could Uddhava aspire to follow in their footsteps? Another instance is Lord Caitanya Himself. After accepting the sannyāsa order of life, He was very, very strict about avoiding association with women, but still He taught that there is no better method of worshiping Kṛṣṇa than that conceived by the gopīs. Thus the gopīs’ method of worshiping the Lord as if impelled by lusty desire was praised very highly even by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. This very fact means that although the attraction of the gopīs for Kṛṣṇa appears to be lusty, it is not in the least bit material. Unless one is fully situated in the transcendental position, the relationship of the gopīs with Kṛṣṇa is very difficult to understand. But because it appears to be just like ordinary dealings of young boys and girls, it is sometimes misinterpreted to be like the ordinary sex of this material world. Unfortunately, persons who cannot understand the transcendental nature of the love affairs of the gopīs and Kṛṣṇa take it for granted that Kṛṣṇa’s love affairs with the gopīs are mundane transactions, and therefore they sometimes indulge in painting licentious pictures in some modernistic style.
On the other hand, the lusty desire of Kubjā is described by learned scholars as being “almost lusty desire.” Kubjā was a hunchbacked woman who also wanted Kṛṣṇa with a great ecstatic love. But her desire for Kṛṣṇa was almost mundane, and so her love cannot be compared to the love of the gopīs. Her loving affection for Kṛṣṇa is called kāma-prāyā, or almost like the gopīs’ love for Kṛṣṇa.
CHAPTER SIXTEEN: Spontaneous Devotion Further Described
In the attitude of the denizens of Vṛndāvana, such as Nanda Mahārāja and mother Yaśodā, is to be found the ideal transcendental concept of being the father and mother of Kṛṣṇa, the original Personality of Godhead. Factually, no one can become the father or mother of Kṛṣṇa, but a devotee’s possession of such transcendental feelings is called love of Kṛṣṇa in a parental relationship. The Vṛṣṇis (Kṛṣṇa’s relatives at Dvārakā) also felt like that. So spontaneous love of Kṛṣṇa in the parental relationship is found both among those denizens of Dvārakā who belonged to the dynasty of Vṛṣṇi and among the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana.
Spontaneous love of Kṛṣṇa as exhibited by the Vṛṣṇis and the denizens of Vṛndāvana is eternally existing in them. In the stage of devotional service where regulative principles are followed, there is no necessity of discussing this love, for it must develop of itself at a more advanced stage.
ELIGIBILITY FOR SPONTANEOUS DEVOTIONAL SERVICE
Persons desiring to follow in the footsteps of such eternal devotees of the Lord as the Vṛṣṇis and Vṛndāvana denizens are called rāgānugā devotees, which means that they are trying to attain to the perfection of those devotees. These rāgānugā devotees do not follow the regulative principles of devotional service very strictly, but by spontaneous nature they become attracted to some of the eternal devotees such as Nanda or Yaśodā, and they try to follow in their footsteps spontaneously. There is a gradual development of the ambition to become like a particular devotee, and this activity is called rāgānugā.
We must always remember, however, that such eagerness to follow in the footsteps of the denizens of Vraja (Vṛndāvana) is not possible unless one is freed from material contamination. In following the regulative principles of devotional service, there is a stage called anartha-nivṛtti, which means the disappearance of all material contamination. Sometimes someone is found imitating such devotional love, but factually he is not freed from anarthas, or unwanted habits. It has been seen that a so-called devotee proclaims himself a follower of Nanda, Yaśodā or the gopīs, while at the same time his abominable attraction for mundane sex life is visible. Such a manifestation of divine love is mere imitation and has no value. When one is actually spontaneously attracted to the loving principles of the gopīs, there will be found no trace of any mundane contamination in his character.
Therefore, in the beginning, everyone should strictly follow the regulative principles of devotional service according to the injunctions of the scriptures and the spiritual master. Only after the stage of liberation from material contamination can one actually aspire to follow in the footsteps of the devotees in Vṛndāvana.
It is said by Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, “When one is actually liberated from material contamination, he can always remember an eternal devotee in Vṛndāvana in order to love Kṛṣṇa in the same capacity. And developing such an aptitude, one will always live in Vṛndāvana, even within his mind.” The purport is that if it is possible one should go and physically be present at Vraja-bhūmi, Vṛndāvana, and be engaged always in the service of the Lord, following the devotees in Vraja-dhāma, the spiritual realm of Vraja. If it is not possible, however, to be physically present at Vṛndāvana, one can meditate anywhere on living in that situation. Wherever he may be, one must always think about life in Vraja-dhāma and about following in the footsteps of a particular devotee in the service of the Lord.
A devotee who is actually advanced in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, who is constantly engaged in devotional service, should not manifest himself, even though he has attained perfection. The idea is that he should always continue to act as a neophyte devotee as long as his material body is there. Activities in devotional service under regulative principles must be followed even by the pure devotee. But when he realizes his actual position in relationship with the Lord, he can, along with the discharging of regulative service, think within himself of the Lord under the guidance of a particular associate of the Lord, and develop his transcendental sentiments in following that associate.
In this connection, we should be careful about the so-called siddha-praṇālī. The siddha-praṇālī process is followed by a class of men who are not very authorized and who have manufactured their own way of devotional service. They imagine that they have become associates of the Lord simply by thinking of themselves like that. This external behavior is not at all according to the regulative principles. The so-called siddha-praṇālī process is followed by the prākṛta-sahajiyā, a pseudosect of so-called Vaiṣṇavas. In the opinion of Rūpa Gosvāmī, such activities are simply disturbances to the standard way of devotional service.
Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī says that learned ācāryas recommend that we follow the regulative principles even after the development of spontaneous love for Kṛṣṇa. According to the regulative principles, there are nine departmental activities, as described above, and one should specifically engage himself in the type of devotional service for which he has a natural aptitude. For example, one person may have a particular interest in hearing, another may have a particular interest in chanting, and another may have a particular interest in serving in the temple. So these, or any of the other six different types of devotional service (remembering, serving, praying, engaging in some particular service, being in a friendly relationship or offering everything in one’s possession), should be executed in full earnestness. In this way, everyone should act according to his particular taste.
Devotional service following in the footsteps of the gopīs of Vṛndāvana or the queens at Dvārakā is called devotional service in conjugal love. This devotional service in conjugal love can be divided into two categories. One is indirect conjugal love, the other direct. In both of these categories, one has to follow the particular gopī who is engaged in such service in Goloka Vṛndāvana. To be directly attached to the Supreme Personality of Godhead in conjugal love is technically called keli. This keli performance means to directly join with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There are other devotees who do not wish direct contact with the Supreme Person, but who relish the conjugal love affairs of the Lord with the gopīs. Such devotees enjoy simply by hearing of the activities of the Lord with the gopīs.
This development of conjugal love can be possible only with those who are already engaged in following the regulative principles of devotional service, specifically in the worship of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa in the temple. Such devotees gradually develop a spontaneous love for the Deity, and by hearing of the Lord’s exchange of loving affairs with the gopīs, they gradually become attracted to these pastimes. After this spontaneous attraction becomes highly developed, the devotee is placed in either of the above-mentioned categories.
This development of conjugal love for Kṛṣṇa is not manifested in women only. The material body has nothing to do with spiritual loving affairs. A woman may develop an attitude for becoming a friend of Kṛṣṇa, and, similarly, a man may develop the feature of becoming a gopī in Vṛndāvana. How a devotee in the form of a man can desire to become a gopī is stated in the Padma Purāṇa as follows: In days gone by there were many sages in Daṇḍakāraṇya. Daṇḍakāraṇya is the name of the forest where Lord Rāmacandra lived after being banished by His father for fourteen years. At that time there were many advanced sages who were captivated by the beauty of Lord Rāmacandra and who desired to become women in order to embrace the Lord. Later on, these sages appeared in Gokula Vṛndāvana when Kṛṣṇa advented Himself there, and they were born as gopīs, or girlfriends of Kṛṣṇa. In this way they attained the perfection of spiritual life.
The story of the sages of Daṇḍakāraṇya can be explained as follows. When Lord Rāmacandra was residing in Daṇḍakāraṇya, the sages who were engaged in devotional service there became attracted by His beauty and immediately thought of the gopīs in Vṛndāvana, who enjoyed conjugal loving affection with Kṛṣṇa. In this instance it is clear that the sages of Daṇḍakāraṇya desired conjugal love in the manner of the gopīs, although they were well aware of the Supreme Lord as both Kṛṣṇa and Lord Rāmacandra. They knew that although Rāmacandra was an ideal king and could not accept more than one wife, Lord Kṛṣṇa, being the full-fledged Personality of Godhead, could fulfill the desires of all of them in Vṛndāvana. These sages also concluded that the form of Lord Kṛṣṇa is more attractive than that of Lord Rāmacandra, and so they prayed to become gopīs in their future lives to be associated with Kṛṣṇa.
Lord Rāmacandra remained silent, and His silence shows that He accepted the prayers of the sages. Thus they were blessed by Lord Rāmacandra to have association with Lord Kṛṣṇa in their future lives. As a result of this benediction, they all took birth as women in the wombs of gopīs at Gokula, and as they had desired in their previous lives, they enjoyed the company of Lord Kṛṣṇa, who was present at that time in Gokula Vṛndāvana. The perfection of their human form of life was thus achieved by their generating a transcendental sentiment to share conjugal love with Lord Kṛṣṇa.
Conjugal love is divided into two classifications – namely, conjugal love as husband and wife and conjugal love as lover and beloved. One who develops conjugal love for Kṛṣṇa as a wife is promoted to Dvārakā, where the devotee becomes the queen of the Lord. One who develops conjugal love for Kṛṣṇa as a lover is promoted to Goloka Vṛndāvana to associate with the gopīs and enjoy loving affairs with Kṛṣṇa there. We should note carefully, however, that this conjugal love for Kṛṣṇa, either as gopī or as queen, is not limited only to women. Even men can develop such sentiments, as was evidenced by the sages of Daṇḍakāraṇya. If someone simply desires conjugal love but does not follow in the footsteps of the gopīs, he is promoted to association with the Lord at Dvārakā.
In the Mahā-kūrma Purāṇa it is stated, “Great sages who were the sons of fire-gods rigidly followed the regulative principles in their desire to have conjugal love for Kṛṣṇa. As such, in their next lives they were able to associate with the Lord, the origin of all creation, who is known as Vāsudeva, or Kṛṣṇa, and all of them got Him as their husband.”
PARENTHOOD OR FRIENDSHIP
Devotees who are attracted to Kṛṣṇa as parents or as friends should follow in the footsteps of Nanda Mahārāja or Subala respectively. Nanda Mahārāja is the foster father of Kṛṣṇa, and out of all of the friends of Kṛṣṇa, Subala is the most intimate in Vraja-bhūmi.
In the development of becoming either the father or friend of the Lord, there are two varieties. One method is that one may try to become the father of the Lord directly, and the other is that one may follow Nanda Mahārāja and cherish the ideal of being Kṛṣṇa’s father. Out of these two, the attempt to directly become the father of Kṛṣṇa is not recommended. Such a development can become polluted with Māyāvāda (impersonal) philosophy. The Māyāvādīs, or monists, think that they themselves are Kṛṣṇa, and if one thinks that he himself has become Nanda Mahārāja, then his parental love will become contaminated with the Māyāvāda philosophy. The Māyāvāda philosophical way of thinking is offensive, and no offender can enter into the kingdom of God to associate with Kṛṣṇa.
In the Skanda Purāṇa there is a story of an old man residing in Hastināpura, capital of the kingdom of the Pāṇḍus, who desired Kṛṣṇa as his beloved son. This old man was instructed by Nārada to follow in the footsteps of Nanda Mahārāja, and thus he achieved success.
There is a statement in the Nārāyaṇa-vyūha-stava prayers that persons who are always engaged in thinking of the Lord as their husband, friend, father or well-wisher are always worshipable by everyone. This spontaneous love for Kṛṣṇa can be developed only by the special mercy of Kṛṣṇa or His pure devotee. This process of devotional service is sometimes called puṣṭi-mārga. Puṣṭi means “nourishing” and mārga means “path.” Such development of sentiment nourishes devotional service to the highest standard. Thus it is called the path of nourishment, or puṣṭi-mārga. The Vallabha sampradāya, which belongs to the Viṣṇu Svāmī sect of Vaiṣṇava religion, worships Kṛṣṇa in this puṣṭi-mārga. Generally devotees in Gujarat worship Bāla Kṛṣṇa under this heading of puṣṭi-mārga.
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: Ecstatic Love
By the process of executing regulated devotional service, one is actually elevated to the transcendental stage, beyond the material modes of nature. At that time one’s heart becomes illuminated like the sun. The sun is far above the planetary systems, and there is no possibility of its being covered by any kind of cloud; similarly, when a devotee is purified like the sun, from his pure heart there is a diffusion of ecstatic love which is more glorious than the sunshine. Only at that time is the attachment to Kṛṣṇa perfect. Spontaneously, the devotee becomes eager to serve the Lord in his ecstatic love. At this stage the devotee is on the platform of uttama-adhikārī, perfect devotion. Such a devotee has no agitation from material affections and is interested only in the service of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa.
To clarify, in the previous chapters the symptoms of devotional service were explained along with instructions as to how we may execute devotional service with our present senses and gradually rise to the platform of ecstasy in spontaneous love. And the two kinds of devotional service – namely, devotional service through regulative principles and through spontaneous love – were discussed. Within the stage of the regulative principles of devotional service there are two divisions – namely, executive and effective. This effective portion of devotional service is called bhāva, or ecstasy. In this connection, there is a statement in the tantras that ecstasy is the first symptom of pure love for the Personality of Godhead, and in that stage one is sometimes found shedding tears or shivering. Not always are these symptoms manifest, but occasionally. When King Ambarīṣa was put into difficulty by Durvāsā, he began to think of the lotus feet of the Lord, and thus there were some changes in his body, and tears were falling from his eyes. These symptoms are activities of ecstasy. They are visible in the shivering of the body and the shedding of tears. After the outward appearance of these ecstatic symptoms, they stay within the mind, and continuation of the ecstasy is called samādhi. This stage of appreciation becomes the cause of future exchanges of loving affairs with Kṛṣṇa.
Elevation to this stage of ecstasy can be possible in two ways. One way is by constant association with pure devotees. The other way is by the special mercy of Kṛṣṇa or by the mercy of a pure devotee of Kṛṣṇa. Elevation to the ecstatic stage of life is generally attained through association with pure devotees, while elevation to that stage by the special mercy of Kṛṣṇa or His devotee is very rare. The purport is that one should execute devotional service rigidly in the association of devotees so that there will be certainty in raising oneself to that ecstatic position. In special cases, of course, there is special favor from Kṛṣṇa, and although we should always expect that, we should not sit idly and simply wait for Kṛṣṇa’s special mercy; the regular duties must be performed. It is just as when sometimes it is found that a person who never attended school or college may be recognized as a great scholar, or an honorary degree from great universities may be offered to him. But this does not mean that one should avoid school and expect to automatically receive an honorary degree from some university. Similarly, one should devoutly execute the regulative principles of devotional service and at the same time hope for Kṛṣṇa’s favor or for His devotee’s favor.
An example of rising to the stage of ecstatic love by executing the regulative principles of devotional service is given in the life story of Nārada, which is described to Vyāsadeva in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Nārada tells there of his previous life and how he developed to the stage of ecstatic love. He was engaged in the service of great devotees and used to hear their talks and songs. Because he had the opportunity to hear these pastimes and songs of Kṛṣṇa from the mouths of pure devotees, he became very attracted within his heart. Because he had become so eager to hear these topics, he gradually developed within himself an ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa. This ecstatic love is prior to the pure love of Kṛṣṇa, because in the next verse Nārada confirms that by the gradual process of hearing from the great sages he developed love of Godhead. In that connection, Nārada continues to say in the First Canto, fifth chapter, verse 28 of the Bhāgavatam, “First I passed my days in the association of the great sages during the rainy autumn season. Every morning and evening I heard them while they were singing and chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, and thus my heart gradually became purified. As soon as I heard them with great attention, the influence of the modes of material ignorance and passion disappeared, and I became firmly fixed in devotional service to the Lord.”
These are practical examples of how one can develop to the stage of ecstatic love simply by the association of pure devotees. It is essential, therefore, that one constantly associate with pure devotees who are engaged morning and evening in chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. In this way one will get the chance to purify his heart and develop this ecstatic pure love for Kṛṣṇa.
This statement is also confirmed in the Third Canto, twenty-fifth chapter, verse 25 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, where Lord Kapila says, “My dear mother, when a person is actually in association with pure devotees, the sublime potency of My devotional service can be experienced.” In other words, when a pure devotee speaks, his words act upon the hearts of the audience. What is the secret of hearing and chanting? A professional speaker cannot impress transcendental ecstasy within the hearts of the listeners. However, when a realized soul who is engaged in the service of the Lord is speaking, he has the potency to inject spiritual life within the audience. One should, therefore, seek the association of such pure, unalloyed devotees, and by such association and service a neophyte devotee will certainly develop attachment, love and devotion for the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
In the Padma Purāṇa there is the story of a neophyte devotee who, in order to raise herself to the ecstatic platform, danced all night to invoke the Lord’s grace upon her.
Sometimes, however, it is found that without undergoing any devotional process, one all of a sudden develops devotion for Lord Kṛṣṇa. This sudden development of the devotional attitude in a person must be understood as a special mercy of Kṛṣṇa or of His devotee. This apparently accidental development of ecstatic feelings through the causeless mercy of Kṛṣṇa can be divided into three groups: simply by speaking, simply by glancing and simply by good wishes.
In the Nāradīya Purāṇa there is a statement about development of ecstatic love simply by speaking. Lord Kṛṣṇa said to Nārada, “O best of the brāhmaṇas, I wish that you may develop unalloyed devotional service to Me, which is full of transcendental bliss and all auspiciousness.”
In the Skanda Purāṇa there is a statement about developing ecstatic love toward Kṛṣṇa simply by glancing. It is stated there, “When the inhabitants of Jāṅgala Province saw the Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, they were so stricken with feeling that they could not withdraw their glance from Him.”
As far as heartfelt wishes are concerned, there is a statement in the Śuka-saṁhitā where Nārada tells Śrīla Vyāsadeva, “You have a son who is the greatest devotee of the Personality of Godhead, and I can observe that without any following of the regulative principles of devotional service, he is already enriched with many of the symptoms achieved by the execution of devotional service after many, many births.”
As for ecstatic love of Kṛṣṇa, there is a statement in the Seventh Canto, fourth chapter, verse 36 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, in which Nārada addresses King Yudhiṣṭhira, “My dear King, it is very difficult to describe the character of Prahlāda. He developed a natural attraction for Kṛṣṇa, and whatever I can explain about his character will simply be an arrangement of words; his actual character is impossible to describe.” This means that Nārada himself admitted that the natural development of Prahlāda’s ecstatic love was by the grace of Lord Kṛṣṇa.
This natural attraction for Kṛṣṇa on the part of Prahlāda was developed simply by the mercy of Nārada. When Prahlāda Mahārāja was within the womb of his mother, she was being sympathetically instructed by Nārada about the science of devotional service, and at the same time Nārada was wishing that the child within the womb could also take advantage of the instructions. Because Nārada, an authorized devotee and great associate of the Personality of Godhead, was desiring auspiciousness for Prahlāda Mahārāja, he developed all the characteristics of a high-grade devotee. This is called natural attraction. It is caused by the special grace of the Personality of Godhead or by the special grace of a great devotee like Nārada.
There is a statement in the Skanda Purāṇa wherein Parvata Muni tells Nārada, “My dear Nārada, of all saintly persons you are so great and glorious that simply by your good wishes a lowborn hunter also has become a great, elevated devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa.”
This ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa can be divided into five divisions, which will be described by Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī later on.
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: Character of One In Ecstatic Love
Rūpa Gosvāmī next describes the characteristics of a person who has actually developed his ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa. The characteristics are as follows:
1. He is always anxious to utilize his time in the devotional service of the Lord. He does not like to be idle. He wants service always, twenty-four hours a day, without deviation.
2. He is always reserved and perseverant.
3. He is always detached from all material attraction.
4. He does not long for any material respect in return for his activities.
5. He is always certain that Kṛṣṇa will bestow His mercy upon him.
6. He is always very eager to serve the Lord faithfully.
7. He is very much attached to the chanting of the holy names of the Lord.
8. He is always eager to describe the transcendental qualities of the Lord.
9. He is very pleased to live in a place where the Lord’s pastimes are performed, e.g., Mathurā, Vṛndāvana or Dvārakā.
UTILIZATION OF TIME
An unalloyed devotee who has developed ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa is always engaging his words in reciting prayers to the Lord. Within the mind he is always thinking of Kṛṣṇa, and with his body he either offers obeisances by bowing down before the Deity or engages in some other service. During these ecstatic activities he sometimes sheds tears. In this way his whole life is engaged in the service of the Lord, with not a moment wasted on any other engagement.
When a person is undisturbed even in the presence of various causes of disturbance, he is called reserved and perseverant. An example of this perseverance and reservation is found in the behavior of King Parīkṣit, as described in the First Canto, nineteenth chapter, verse 15 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The king says there to all the sages present before him at the time of his death, “My dear brāhmaṇas, you should always accept me as your surrendered servant. I have come to the bank of the Ganges just to devote my heart and soul unto the lotus feet of Lord Kṛṣṇa. So please bless me that mother Ganges may also be pleased with me. Let the curse of the brāhmaṇa’s son fall upon me – I do not mind. I only request that at the last moment of my life all of you will kindly chant the holy name of Viṣṇu so that I may realize His transcendental qualities.”
This example of Mahārāja Parīkṣit’s behavior, his remaining patient even at the last point of his life, his undisturbed condition of mind, is an example of reservation. This is one of the characteristics of a devotee who has developed ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa.
The senses are always desiring sense enjoyment, but when a devotee develops transcendental love for Kṛṣṇa his senses are no longer attracted by material desires. This state of mind is called detachment. There is a nice example of this detachment in connection with the character of King Bharata. In the Fifth Canto, fourteenth chapter, verse 43 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is stated, “Emperor Bharata was so attracted by the beauty of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa that even in his youthful life he gave up all kinds of attachments to family, children, friends, kingdom, etc., as though they were untouchable stools.”
Emperor Bharata provides a typical example of detachment. He had everything enjoyable in the material world, but he left it. This means that detachment does not mean artificially keeping oneself aloof and apart from the allurements of attachment. Even in the presence of such allurements, if one can remain unattracted by material attachments, he is called detached. In the beginning, of course, a neophyte devotee must try to keep himself apart from all kinds of alluring attachments, but the real position of a mature devotee is that even in the presence of all allurements, he is not at all attracted. This is the actual criterion of detachment.
When a devotee, in spite of possessing all the qualities of pure realization, is not proud of his position, he is called prideless. In the Padma Purāṇa it is stated that King Bhagīratha was the emperor above all other kings, yet he developed such ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa that he became a mendicant and went out begging even to the homes of his political enemies and untouchables. He was so humble that he respectfully bowed down before them.
There are many similar instances in the history of India. Even very recently, about two hundred years ago or less, one big landlord known as Lal Babu, a Calcutta landholder, became a Vaiṣṇava and lived in Vṛndāvana. He was also begging from door to door, even at the homes of his political enemies. Begging involves being ready to be insulted by persons to whose home one has come. That is natural. But one has to tolerate such insults for the sake of Kṛṣṇa. The devotee of Kṛṣṇa can accept any position in the service of Kṛṣṇa.
The strong conviction that one will certainly receive the favor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is called in Sanskrit āśā-bandha. Āśā-bandha means to continue to think, “Because I’m trying my best to follow the routine principles of devotional service, I am sure that I will go back to Godhead, back to home.”
In this connection, one prayer by Rūpa Gosvāmī is sufficient to exemplify this hopefulness. He says, “I have no love for Kṛṣṇa, nor for the causes of developing love of Kṛṣṇa – namely, hearing and chanting. And the process of bhakti-yoga, by which one is always thinking of Kṛṣṇa and fixing His lotus feet in the heart, is also lacking in me. As far as philosophical knowledge or pious works are concerned, I don’t see any opportunity for me to execute such activities. But above all, I am not even born of a nice family. Therefore I must simply pray to You, Gopījana-vallabha [Kṛṣṇa, maintainer and beloved of the gopīs]. I simply wish and hope that some way or other I may be able to approach Your lotus feet, and this hope is giving me pain, because I think myself quite incompetent to approach that transcendental goal of life.” The purport is that under this heading of āśā-bandha, one should continue to hope against hope that some way or other he will be able to approach the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord.
EAGERNESS FOR ACHIEVING THE DESIRED SUCCESS
When one is sufficiently eager to achieve success in devotional service, that eagerness is called samutkaṇṭhā. This means “complete eagerness.” Actually this eagerness is the price for achieving success in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Everything has some value, and one has to pay the value before obtaining or possessing it. It is stated in the Vedic literature that to purchase the most valuable thing, Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one has to develop intense eagerness for achieving success. This intense eagerness is very nicely expressed by Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura in his book Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta. He says, “I am eagerly waiting to see that boy of Vṛndāvana whose bodily beauty is captivating the whole universe, whose eyes are always bounded by black eyebrows and expanded like lotus petals, and who is always eagerly glancing over His devotees and therefore moving slightly here and there. His eyes are always moist, His lips are colored like copper, and through those lips there comes a sound vibration which drives one madder than a mad elephant. I want so much to see Him at Vṛndāvana!”
ATTACHMENT TO CHANTING THE HOLY NAMES OF THE LORD
In the same Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta there is another statement about the chanting of Rādhārāṇī. It is said by one of the associates of Rādhārāṇī, “O Lord Govinda, the girl who is the daughter of King Vṛṣabhānu is now shedding tears, and She is anxiously chanting Your holy name – ‘Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa!’ ”
EAGERNESS TO DESCRIBE THE LORD’S TRANSCENDENTAL QUALITIES
Attachment for chanting the glories of the Lord is also expressed in the Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta as follows: “What shall I do for Kṛṣṇa, who is pleasing beyond all pleasurable conceptions, and who is naughtier than all restless boys? The idea of Kṛṣṇa’s beautiful activities is attracting my heart, and I do not know what I can do!”
ATTRACTION FOR LIVING IN A PLACE WHERE KṚṢṆA HAS HIS PASTIMES
In the book Padyāvalī by Rūpa Gosvāmī there is the following statement about Vṛndāvana: “In this place the son of Mahārāja Nanda used to live with His father, who was king of all cowherd men. In this place Lord Kṛṣṇa broke the cart in which the Śakaṭāsura demon was concealed. At this place Dāmodara, who can cut the knot of our material existence, was tied up by His mother, Yaśodā.”
A pure devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa resides in the district of Mathurā or Vṛndāvana and visits all the places where Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes were performed. At these sacred places Kṛṣṇa displayed His childhood activities with the cowherd boys and mother Yaśodā. The system of circumambulating all these places is still current among devotees of Lord Kṛṣṇa, and those coming to Mathurā and Vṛndāvana always feel transcendental pleasure. Actually, if someone goes to Vṛndāvana, he will immediately feel separation from Kṛṣṇa, who performed such nice activities when He was present there.
Such attraction for remembering Kṛṣṇa’s activities is known as attachment for Kṛṣṇa. There are impersonalist philosophers and mystics, however, who by a show of devotional service want ultimately to merge into the existence of the Supreme Lord. They sometimes try to imitate a pure devotee’s sentiment for visiting the holy places where Kṛṣṇa had His pastimes, but they simply have a view for salvation, and so their activities cannot be considered attachment.
It is said by Rūpa Gosvāmī that the attachment exhibited by pure devotees for Kṛṣṇa cannot possibly be perfected in the hearts of fruitive workers (karmīs) or mental speculators because such attachment in pure Kṛṣṇa consciousness is very rare and not possible to achieve even for many liberated persons. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā, liberation from material contamination is the stage at which devotional service can be achieved. For a person who simply wants to have liberation and to merge into the impersonal brahma-jyotir, attachment to Kṛṣṇa is not possible to acquire. This attachment is very confidentially kept by Kṛṣṇa and is bestowed only upon pure devotees. Even ordinary devotees cannot have such pure attachment for Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, how is it possible for success to be achieved by persons whose hearts are contaminated by the actions and reactions of fruitive activities and who are entangled by various types of mental speculation?
There are many so-called devotees who artificially think of Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes known as aṣṭa-kālīya-līlā. Sometimes one may artificially imitate these, pretending that Kṛṣṇa is talking with him in the form of a boy, or else one may pretend that Rādhārāṇī and Kṛṣṇa both have come to him and are talking with him. Such characteristics are sometimes exhibited by the impersonalist class of men, and they may captivate some innocent persons who have no knowledge in the science of devotional service. However, as soon as an experienced devotee sees all of these caricatures, he can immediately evaluate such rascaldom. If such a pretender is sometimes seen possessing imitative attachment to Kṛṣṇa, that will not be accepted as real attachment. It may be said, however, that such attachment gives the pretender hope that he may eventually rise onto the actual platform of pure devotional service.
This imitative attachment can be divided into two headings – namely, shadow attachment and parā (transcendental) attachment. If someone, without undergoing the regulative principles of devotional service or without being guided by a bona fide spiritual master, shows such imitative attachment, this is called shadow attachment. Sometimes it is found that a person actually attached to material enjoyment or salvation has the good fortune to associate with pure devotees while they are engaged in chanting the holy name of the Lord. By the good grace of the Lord one may also cooperate and join in the chanting. At that time, simply by the association of such pure devotees, the moonlike rays from their hearts reflect on him, and by the influence of the pure devotees he may show some likeness of attachment caused by inquisitiveness, but this is very flickering. And if by the manifestation of such shadow attachment one feels the disappearance of all material pangs, then it is called parā attachment.
Such shadow attachment or parā attachment can develop if one associates with a pure devotee or visits holy places like Vṛndāvana or Mathurā, and if an ordinary man develops such attachment for Kṛṣṇa and fortunately performs devotional activities in the association of pure devotees, he can also rise to the platform of pure devotional service. The conclusion is that transcendental attachment is so powerful that if such attachment is seen manifested even in some common man, by the association of a pure devotee it can bring one to the perfectional stage. But such attachment for Kṛṣṇa cannot be invoked in a person without his being sufficiently blessed by the association of pure devotees.
As attachment can be invoked by the association of pure devotees, so attachment can also be extinguished by offenses committed at the lotus feet of pure devotees. To be more clear, by the association of pure devotees attachment for Kṛṣṇa can be aroused, but if one commits offenses at the lotus feet of a devotee, one’s shadow attachment or parā attachment can be extinguished. This extinguishing is like the waning of the full moon, which gradually decreases and at last becomes dark. One should therefore be very careful while associating with pure devotees to guard against committing an offense at their lotus feet.
Transcendental attachment, either shadow or parā, can be nullified by different degrees of offenses at the lotus feet of pure devotees. If the offense is very serious, then one’s attachment becomes almost nil, and if the offense is not very serious, one’s attachment can become second class or third class.
If someone becomes attached to the principles of salvation or to merging into the existence of the brahma-jyotir, his ecstasies gradually diminish into shadow and parā attachment or else transform into the principles of ahaṅgrahopāsanā. This ahaṅgrahopāsanā describes a living entity when he begins spiritual realization by identifying himself with the Supreme Lord. This state of self-realization is technically known as monism. The monist thinks himself one with the Supreme Lord. Thus, because he does not differentiate between himself and the Supreme Lord, it is his view that by worshiping himself he is worshiping the supreme whole.
Sometimes it is found that a neophyte is taking part in chanting and dancing very enthusiastically, but within himself he is under the impression that he has become one with the supreme whole. This conception of monism is completely different from pure, transcendental devotional service. If, however, it is seen that a person has developed a high standard of devotion without having undergone even the regulative principles, it is to be understood that his status of devotional service was achieved in a former life. For some reason or another it had been temporarily stopped, most probably by an offense committed at the lotus feet of a devotee. Now, with a good second chance, it has again begun to develop. The conclusion is that steady progress in devotional service can be attained only in the association of pure devotees.
If one can gradually advance his status in devotional service, this is understood to be due to the causeless mercy of Kṛṣṇa Himself. If a person is completely detached from material enjoyment and has developed pure ecstatic devotion, even if he is sometimes accidentally found not living up to the standard of devotional service, one should not be envious of him. It is confirmed also in Bhagavad-gītā that a devotee who has unflinching faith in and devotion to the Lord, even if sometimes found to be accidentally deviated from pure devotional characteristics, should still be counted among the pure. Unflinching faith in devotional service, in Lord Kṛṣṇa and in the spiritual master makes one highly elevated in the activities of devotional service.
In the Nṛsiṁha Purāṇa it is stated, “If a person has completely engaged his mind, body and activities in the service of the Supreme Godhead, but externally he is found to be engaged in some abominable activities, these abominable activities will surely be very quickly vanquished by the influence of his staunch devotional force.” The example is given that on the full moon there are some spots that may appear to be pockmarks. Still, the illumination spread by the full moon cannot be checked. Similarly, a little fault in the midst of volumes of devotional service is not at all to be counted as a fault. Attachment for Kṛṣṇa is transcendental bliss. Amid unlimited volumes of transcendental bliss, a spot of some material defect cannot act in any way.
CHAPTER NINETEEN: Devotional Service In Pure Love of God
When one’s desire to love Kṛṣṇa in one’s particular relationship becomes intensified, this is known as pure love of Godhead. In the beginning a devotee is engaged in the regulative principles of devotional service by the order of his spiritual master. When one thereby becomes completely purified of all material contamination, there develops an attachment and taste for devotional service. This taste and attachment, when gradually intensified in the course of time, becomes love. The word love can actually be applied only in relationship with the Personality of Godhead. In the material world, love is not applicable at all. What goes on under the name of love in the material world is nothing but lust. There is a gulf of difference between love and lust, like the difference between gold and iron. In the Nārada Pañcarātra it is clearly stated that when lust is completely transferred to the Supreme Godhead and the concept of kinship is completely reposed in Him, such is accepted as pure love of God by great authorities like Bhīṣma, Prahlāda, Uddhava and Nārada.
Great authorities like Bhīṣma have explained that love of Godhead means completely giving up all so-called love for any other person. According to Bhīṣma, love means reposing one’s affection completely upon one person, withdrawing all affinities for any other person. This pure love can be transferred to the Supreme Personality of Godhead under two conditions – out of ecstasy and out of the causeless mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself.
Ecstatic love of Godhead can be potently invoked simply by following the rules and regulations of devotional service as they are prescribed in scriptures, under the direction of a bona fide spiritual master. In the Eleventh Canto, second chapter, verse 40 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, this ecstatic love, born of the execution of regulative devotional service, is explained: “A devotee, in the course of executing the regulative principles of devotional service, develops his natural Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and being thus softened at heart he chants and dances like a madman. While performing chanting of the holy name of the Lord, he sometimes cries, sometimes talks wildly, sometimes sings and sometimes – without caring for any outsider – dances like a madman.
In the Padma Purāṇa there is a statement about ecstatic love born of spontaneous affection. Candrakānti, a celebrated fair-faced girl, rigidly observed celibacy in order to obtain Kṛṣṇa as her husband. She always engaged herself in meditating on the transcendental form of the Lord and always chanted the glories of the Lord. She did not desire to accept anyone else as her husband. She had firmly decided that only Lord Kṛṣṇa would be her husband.
THE LORD’S EXTRAORDINARY MERCY
When a devotee is found to be always associated with the Lord in ecstatic love, it is to be understood that such a position has been awarded by the Lord Himself out of His causeless extraordinary mercy. An example of such extraordinary mercy is given in the Eleventh Canto, twelfth chapter, verse 7 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, wherein Lord Kṛṣṇa tells Uddhava, “The gopīs in Vṛndāvana did not study the Vedas to achieve Me. Nor had they ever been to holy places of pilgrimage. Nor did they devoutly execute any regulative principle. Nor did they undergo any kind of austerity. It is simply by My association that they have attained the highest perfection of devotional service.”
From the example of Candrakānti as found in the Padma Purāṇa and from the example of the gopīs as found in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, it appears that a devotee who always thinks of Kṛṣṇa and who always chants His glories in ecstatic love, regardless of his condition, will attain the highest perfection of unalloyed devotional love due to Lord Kṛṣṇa’s extraordinary mercy. This is confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam: “If a person worships, adores and loves Hari, the Supreme Lord, he should be understood to have finished all kinds of austerities, penances and similar processes for self-realization. On the other hand, if after undergoing all types of austerities, penances and mystic yoga practices one does not develop such love for Hari, then all his performances are to be considered a useless waste of time. If someone always sees Kṛṣṇa inside and out, then it is to be understood that he has surpassed all austerities and penances for self-realization. And if, after executing all kinds of penances and austerities, one cannot always see Kṛṣṇa inside and out, then he has executed his performances uselessly.”
Spontaneous attraction to Kṛṣṇa, which is said to be due to the extraordinary mercy of the Lord, can be placed under two headings: one is profound veneration for the greatness of the Lord, and the other is one’s being automatically attracted to Kṛṣṇa without any extraneous consideration. In the Nārada Pañcarātra it is said that if on account of profound veneration for the greatness of the Supreme Lord one attains a great affection and steady love for Him, one is certainly assured of attaining the four kinds of Vaiṣṇava liberation – namely, achieving the same bodily features as the Lord, achieving the same opulence as the Lord, dwelling on the planet where the Lord is residing, and attaining eternal association with the Lord. The Vaiṣṇava liberation is completely different from the Māyāvāda liberation, which is simply a matter of being merged into the effulgence of the Lord.
In the Nārada Pañcarātra pure, unalloyed devotional service is explained as being without any motive for personal benefit. If a devotee is continuously in love with Lord Kṛṣṇa and his mind is always fixed upon Him, that devotional attitude will prove to be the only means of attracting the attention of the Lord. In other words, a Vaiṣṇava who is incessantly thinking of the form of Lord Kṛṣṇa is to be known as a pure Vaiṣṇava.
Generally, a devotee who has achieved the causeless mercy of the Lord on account of following the strict rules and regulations of devotional service becomes attracted by the supreme greatness of the Lord, by the transcendental beauty of the Lord and by the spontaneous execution of devotional service. To be more clear, by executing the regulative principles of devotional service one can fully appreciate the transcendental beauty of the Lord. In any case, such exalted positions are possible only by the extraordinary mercy of the Lord upon the devotee.
ASSOCIATION WITH PURE DEVOTEES
Although many different processes for developing love of Godhead have been explained so far, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī now gives us a general description of how one can best achieve such a high position. The beginning of ecstatic love of Godhead is basically faith. There are many societies and associations of pure devotees, and if someone with just a little faith begins to associate with such societies, his advancement to pure devotional service is rapid. The influence of a pure devotee is such that if someone comes to associate with him with a little faith, one gets the chance of hearing about the Lord from authoritative scriptures like Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Thus, by the mercy of the Lord, who is situated in everyone’s heart, one gradually develops his faith in the descriptions of such authoritative scriptures. This is the first stage of association with pure devotees. In the second stage, after one becomes a little advanced and mature, he automatically offers to follow the principles of devotional service under the guidance of the pure devotee and accepts him as the spiritual master. In the next stage, under the guidance of the spiritual master, the devotee executes regulative devotional service, and as a result of such activities, he becomes freed from all unwanted occupations. When he is freed from unwanted occupations, his faith becomes steadily fixed, and he develops a transcendental taste for devotional service, then attachment, then ecstasies, and in the last stage there is pure love of Godhead. These are the different stages of the development of pure love.
Only the most fortunate persons can achieve such success in life. Those who are simply academic students of the Vedic scriptures cannot appreciate how such a development takes place. In the Nārada Pañcarātra Lord Śiva therefore tells Pārvatī, “My dear supreme goddess, you may know from me that any person who has developed the ecstasy of love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and who is always merged in transcendental bliss on account of this love, cannot even perceive the material distress or happiness coming from the body or mind.”
The affection and the dealings of love that are different branches of the original tree of love precede many varieties of affectionate manifestations that will not be discussed here. These different manifestations have been described by Sanātana Gosvāmī in his Bhāgavatāmṛta. Although the subject of such affections and dealings of love is very confidential, Sanātana Gosvāmī has described them very explicitly.
Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī thus concludes the first division of the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, offering up his treatise for the transcendental pleasure of Sanātana Gosvāmī, who has established the transcendental beauty, and of Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, Śrī Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī and Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī. It appears from this statement that the great Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī was not yet active when Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu was written.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta summary study of the first division of Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, up to the descriptions of ecstatic love of Godhead, which are to follow next.
CHAPTER TWENTY: Transcendental Mellow
In this second division of Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu the author offers his respectful obeisances unto “Sanātana.” This Sanātana can be interpreted as either Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself or as Sanātana Gosvāmī, the elder brother and spiritual master of Rūpa Gosvāmī. In the case where “Sanātana” is accepted to mean Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the obeisances are offered to Kṛṣṇa because He is naturally so beautiful and because He is the killer of the demon Agha. If it is interpreted to mean Sanātana Gosvāmī, then it is because he is so greatly favored by Rūpa Gosvāmī, being always served by him, and because he is the annihilator of all kinds of sinful activities. In this division of Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu the author wants to describe the general symptoms of the transcendental mellow (loving mood) of discharging devotional service.
In this division of Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu there are five general topics: (1) vibhāva – special symptoms or causes of ecstasy, (2) anubhāva – subsequent ecstasy, (3) sāttvika-bhāva – constitutional or existential ecstasy, (4) vyabhicārī-bhāva – aggressive ecstasy and (5) sthāyi-bhāva – fervent or continuous ecstasy.
The word rasa, used in the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, is understood by different persons differently because the exact English equivalent is very difficult to find. But as we have seen our spiritual master translate this word rasa into “mellow,” we shall follow in his footsteps and also translate the word in that way.
The particular loving mood or attitude relished in the exchange of love with the Supreme Personality of Godhead is called rasa, or mellow. The different types of rasa, when combined together, help one to taste the mellow of devotional service in the highest degree of transcendental ecstasy. Such a position, although entirely transcendental to our experience, will be explained in this section as far as possible, following in the footsteps of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī.
Without relishing some sort of mellow, or loving mood, in one’s activities, no one can continue to perform such activities. Similarly, in the transcendental life of Kṛṣṇa consciousness and devotional service there must be some mellow, or specific taste, from the service. Generally this mellow is experienced by chanting, hearing, worshiping in the temple and being engaged in the service of the Lord. So when a person feels transcendental bliss, that is called “relishing the mellow.” To be more clear, we may understand that the various feelings of happiness derived from discharging devotional service may be termed the “mellows” of devotional service.
This relishing of transcendental mellow in discharging devotional service cannot be experienced by all classes of men because this sweet loving mood is developed only from one’s previous life’s activities or by the association of unalloyed devotees. As explained above, association with pure devotees is the beginning of faith in devotional service. Only by developing such faith in the association of a pure devotee, or by having in one’s previous life executed devotional activities, can one actually relish the mellow of devotional service. In other words, this transcendental bliss is not to be enjoyed by any common man unless he is so extraordinarily fortunate as to be in association with devotees or to be continuing his previous birth’s devotional activities.
The gradual process of development to the stage of devotional service is explained in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, First Canto: “The beginning is to hear about Lord Kṛṣṇa in the association of devotees who have themselves cleansed their hearts by association. Hearing about the transcendental activities of the Lord will result in one’s feeling transcendental bliss always.” It is also explained in Bhagavad-gītā that for one who has actually come to the spiritual platform, the first symptom visible will be that he is always joyful. This joyous life is attained by one’s reaction to reading Bhagavad-gītā or Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, or else from associating with persons who are very interested in the spiritual life of Kṛṣṇa consciousness – specifically those who have made the determination to achieve the favor of Govinda by being engaged in transcendental loving service at His lotus feet. Being encouraged by such a feeling, one who is constantly engaged in discharging the regulative principles of devotional service in such a way as to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead develops two principles of compelling force, which come under the heading of vibhāva. Thus one enjoys transcendental bliss.
There are several origins or causes for this compulsive love of Kṛṣṇa, such as Kṛṣṇa Himself, the devotees of Kṛṣṇa, and Kṛṣṇa’s playing on the flute. The effect is sometimes loving and sometimes stunted.
There are eight transcendental symptoms found in the body during ecstasy, and all of them are possible only by a mixture of the above-mentioned five ecstatic divisions. Without some mixture of these five ecstatic principles, one cannot relish transcendental bliss. The cause or basis for relishing transcendental mellow is exactly what we mean by vibhāva. This vibhāva is divided into two – namely, basic and impelling, or impetus-giving. In the Agni Purāṇa the description of vibhāva is given as follows: “The basis from which ecstatic love is born is called vibhāva, which is divided into two – basic and impelling.” In other words, there are two kinds of ecstatic love. The object of basic ecstatic love is Kṛṣṇa and His devotee. Lord Kṛṣṇa is the object of basic ecstatic love, and His pure devotee, a reservoir of such love, is the object of impelling ecstatic love. Impelling ecstatic love, then, is that love which develops when one sees an object that reminds him of Kṛṣṇa.
Lord Kṛṣṇa, who is the possessor of inconceivable potencies and qualities of transcendental knowledge and bliss, is the basic cause of ecstatic love. Lord Kṛṣṇa also becomes the reservoir (impetus) of ecstatic love by His different incarnations and expansions. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam there is a statement in connection with the brahma-vimohana-līlā which demonstrates something of this impelling or impetus-giving feature of ecstatic love. When Brahmā was deluded by Kṛṣṇa, who expanded Himself into so many cowherd boys, calves and cows, Kṛṣṇa’s elder brother, Śrī Baladeva (a direct expansion of Kṛṣṇa Himself), felt astonishment and said, “How wonderful it is that My ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa is again being attracted to so many cowherd boys, calves and cows!” He was struck with wonder by thinking in this way. This is one of the examples in which Kṛṣṇa Himself becomes the object and reservoir of ecstatic love in the impelling aspect.
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: Qualities of Śrī Kṛṣṇa
Personal features can be divided into two: one feature is covered and the other feature is manifested. When Kṛṣṇa is covered by different kinds of dress, His personal feature is covered. There is an example of His covered personal feature in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in connection with His dvārakā-līlā (His residence in Dvārakā as its king). Sometimes Lord Kṛṣṇa began to play by dressing Himself like a woman. Seeing this form, Uddhava said, “How wonderful it is that this woman is attracting my ecstatic love exactly as Lord Kṛṣṇa does. I think she must be Kṛṣṇa covered by the dress of a woman!”
One devotee praised the bodily features of Kṛṣṇa when he saw the Lord in His manifested personal feature. He exclaimed, “How wonderful is the personal feature of Lord Kṛṣṇa! How His neck is just like a conch shell! His eyes are so beautiful, as though they themselves were encountering the beauty of a lotus flower. His body is just like the tamāla tree, very blackish. His head is protected with a canopy of hair. There are the marks of Śrīvatsa on His chest, and He is holding His conch shell. By such beautiful bodily features, the enemy of the demon Madhu has appeared so pleasing that He can bestow upon me transcendental bliss simply by my seeing His transcendental qualities.”
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, after consulting various scriptures, has enumerated the transcendental qualities of the Lord as follows: (1) beautiful features of the entire body; (2) marked with all auspicious characteristics; (3) extremely pleasing; (4) effulgent; (5) strong; (6) ever youthful; (7) wonderful linguist; (8) truthful; (9) talks pleasingly; (10) fluent; (11) highly learned; (12) highly intelligent; (13) a genius; (14) artistic; (15) extremely clever; (16) expert; (17) grateful; (18) firmly determined; (19) an expert judge of time and circumstances; (20) sees and speaks on the authority of the Vedas, or scriptures; (21) pure; (22) self-controlled; (23) steadfast; (24) forbearing; (25) forgiving; (26) grave; (27) self-satisfied; (28) possessing equilibrium; (29) magnanimous; (30) religious; (31) heroic; (32) compassionate; (33) respectful; (34) gentle; (35) liberal; (36) shy; (37) the protector of surrendered souls; (38) happy; (39) the well-wisher of devotees; (40) controlled by love; (41) all-auspicious; (42) most powerful; (43) all-famous; (44) popular; (45) partial to devotees; (46) very attractive to all women; (47) all-worshipable; (48) all-opulent; (49) all-honorable; (50) the supreme controller. The Supreme Personality of Godhead has all these fifty transcendental qualities in fullness as deep as the ocean. In other words, the extent of His qualities is inconceivable.
As parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord, the individual living entities can also possess all of these qualities in minute quantities, provided they become pure devotees of the Lord. In other words, all of the above transcendental qualities can be present in the devotees in minute quantity, whereas the qualities in fullness are always present in the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Besides these, there are other transcendental qualities, which are described by Lord Śiva to Pārvatī in the Padma Purāṇa, and in the First Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in connection with a conversation between the deity of the earth and the king of religion, Yamarāja. It is said therein, “Persons who are desirous of becoming great personalities must be decorated with the following qualities: truthfulness, cleanliness, mercy, perseverance, renunciation, peacefulness, simplicity, control of the senses, equilibrium of the mind, austerity, equality, forbearance, placidity, learning, knowledge, detachment, opulence, chivalry, influence, strength, memory, independence, tactfulness, luster, patience, kind-heartedness, ingenuity, gentility, mannerliness, determination, perfection in all knowledge, proper execution, possession of all objects of enjoyment, gravity, steadiness, faithfulness, fame, respectfulness and lack of false egotism.” Persons who are desiring to become great souls cannot be without any of the above qualities, so we can know for certain that these qualities are found in Lord Kṛṣṇa, the supreme soul.
Besides all of the above-mentioned fifty qualities, Lord Kṛṣṇa possesses five more, which are sometimes partially manifested in the persons of Lord Brahmā or Lord Śiva. These transcendental qualities are as follows: (51) changeless; (52) all-cognizant; (53) ever fresh; (54) sac-cid-ānanda (possessing an eternal blissful body); (55) possessing all mystic perfections.
Kṛṣṇa also possesses five other qualities, which are manifest in the body of Nārāyaṇa, and they are listed as follows: (56) He has inconceivable potency. (57) Uncountable universes generate from His body. (58) He is the original source of all incarnations. (59) He is the giver of salvation to the enemies whom He kills. (60) He is the attractor of liberated souls. All these transcendental qualities are manifest wonderfully in the personal feature of Lord Kṛṣṇa.
Besides these sixty transcendental qualities, Kṛṣṇa has four more, which are not manifest even in the Nārāyaṇa form of Godhead, what to speak of the demigods or living entities. They are as follows. (61) He is the performer of wonderful varieties of pastimes (especially His childhood pastimes). (62) He is surrounded by devotees endowed with wonderful love of Godhead. (63) He can attract all living entities all over the universes by playing on His flute. (64) He has a wonderful excellence of beauty that cannot be rivaled anywhere in the creation.
Adding to the list these four exceptional qualities of Kṛṣṇa, it is to be understood that the aggregate number of qualities of Kṛṣṇa is sixty-four. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has attempted to give evidences from various scriptures about all sixty-four qualities present in the person of the Supreme Lord.
1. BEAUTIFUL BODILY FEATURES
Any comparison of the different parts of the Lord’s body to different material objects cannot factually be a complete comparison. Ordinary persons, who cannot understand how exalted are the bodily features of the Lord, are simply given a chance to understand by a material comparison. It is said that Kṛṣṇa’s face is as beautiful as the moon, His thighs are powerful just like the trunks of elephants, His arms are just like two pillars, His palms are expanded like lotus flowers, His chest is just like a doorway, His hips are dens, and the middle of His body is a terrace.
2. AUSPICIOUS CHARACTERISTICS
There are certain characteristics of different limbs that are considered to be very auspicious and are fully present in the body of the Lord. In this connection, one friend of Nanda Mahārāja, speaking about Lord Kṛṣṇa’s auspicious bodily symptoms, said, “My dear King of the cowherds, I can find thirty-two auspicious symptoms on the body of your son! I am wondering how this boy could have taken His birth in a family of cowherd men.” Generally, when Lord Kṛṣṇa appears He does so in a family of kṣatriyas (kings), as did Lord Rāmacandra, and sometimes in a family of brāhmaṇas. But Kṛṣṇa accepted the role of son to Mahārāja Nanda, despite the fact that Nanda belonged to the vaiśya community. The business of the vaiśya community is trade, commerce and the protection of cows. Therefore his friend, who may have been born into a brāhmaṇa family, expressed his wonder at how such an exalted child could take birth in a family of vaiśyas. Anyway, he pointed out the auspicious signs on the body of Kṛṣṇa to the boy’s foster father.
He continued, “This boy has a reddish luster in seven places – His eyes, the ends of His hands, the ends of His legs, His palate, His lips, His tongue and His nails. A reddish luster in these seven places is considered to be auspicious. Three parts of His body are very broad: His waist, forehead and chest. Three parts of His body are short: His neck, thighs and genitals. Three parts of His body are very deep: His voice, intelligence and navel. There is highness in five parts of His body: His nose, arms, ears, forehead and thighs. In five parts of His body there is fineness: His skin, the hairs on His head and on the other parts of His body, His teeth and His fingertips. The aggregate of all these bodily features is manifest only in the bodies of great personalities.”
The fate lines on the palm are also considered to be auspicious bodily symptoms. In this connection, one old gopī informed King Nanda, “Your son possesses various wonderful fate lines on His palms. There are the signs of lotus flowers and wheels on His palms, and on His soles there are the signs of a flag, a thunderbolt, a fish, a rod for controlling elephants, and a lotus flower. Please observe how auspicious these signs are!”
Beautiful bodily features which automatically attract the eyes are called rucira (pleasing). Kṛṣṇa possesses this attractive feature of rucira in His personal features. In the Third Canto, second chapter, verse 13 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, there is a statement about this. “The Supreme Personality of Godhead, in His pleasing dress, appeared at the scene of the sacrificial arena when King Yudhiṣṭhira was performing the Rājasūya sacrifice. All important personalities from different parts of the universe had been invited to the sacrificial arena, and all of them, upon beholding Kṛṣṇa there, considered that the Creator had ended all of His craftsmanship in the creation of this particular body of Kṛṣṇa.”
It is said that the transcendental body of Kṛṣṇa resembles the lotus flower in eight parts – namely, His face, His two eyes, His two hands, His navel and His two feet. The gopīs and inhabitants of Vṛndāvana used to see the luster of lotus flowers everywhere, and they could hardly withdraw their eyes from such a vision.
The effulgence pervading the universe is considered to be the rays of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The supreme abode of Kṛṣṇa is always throwing off the effulgence known as brahma-jyotir, and that effulgence is emanating from His body.
The luster of the hosts of jewels fixed on the chest of the Lord can defeat even the luster of the sun, and still, when compared with the bodily luster of the Lord, that crest of jewels appears to be only as bright as one of the stars in the sky. Therefore the transcendental influence of Kṛṣṇa is so great that it can defeat anyone. When Kṛṣṇa was present in the sacrificial arena of His enemy King Kaṁsa, the wrestlers present, although appreciating the softness of the body of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, were afraid and perturbed when they thought of engaging with Him in battle.
A person who has extraordinary bodily strength is called balīyān. When Kṛṣṇa killed Ariṣṭāsura, some of the gopīs said, “My dear friends, just see how Kṛṣṇa has killed Ariṣṭāsura! Although he was stronger than a mountain, Kṛṣṇa plucked him up just like a piece of cotton and threw him away without any difficulty!” There is another passage wherein it is said, “O my dear devotees of Lord Kṛṣṇa, may the left hand of Lord Kṛṣṇa, which has lifted Govardhana Hill like a ball, save you from all dangers.”
6. EVER YOUTHFUL
Kṛṣṇa is beautiful at His different ages – namely, His childhood, His boyhood and His youth. Out of these three, His youth is the reservoir of all pleasures and is the time when the highest varieties of devotional service are acceptable. At that age, Kṛṣṇa is full with all transcendental qualities and is engaged in His transcendental pastimes. Therefore, devotees have accepted the beginning of His youth as the most attractive feature in ecstatic love.
At this age Kṛṣṇa is described as follows: “The force of Kṛṣṇa’s youth was combined with His beautiful smile, which defeated even the beauty of the full moon. He was always nicely dressed, in beauty surpassing even Cupid, and He was always attracting the minds of the gopīs, who were thereby always feeling pleasure.”
7. WONDERFUL LINGUIST
Rūpa Gosvāmī says that a person who knows the languages of different countries, especially the Sanskrit language, which is spoken in the cities of the demigods – as well as other worldly languages, including those of the animals – is called a wonderful linguist. It appears from this statement that Kṛṣṇa can also speak and understand the languages of the animals. An old woman in Vṛndāvana, present at the time of Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes, once stated in surprise, “How wonderful it is that Kṛṣṇa, who owns the hearts of all the young girls of Vraja-bhūmi, can nicely speak the language of Vraja-bhūmi with the gopīs, while in Sanskrit He speaks with the demigods, and in the language of the animals He can even speak with the cows and buffalo! Similarly, in the language of the Kashmir province, and with the parrots and other birds, as well as in most common languages, Kṛṣṇa is so expressive!” She inquired from the gopīs as to how Kṛṣṇa had become so expert in speaking so many different types of languages.
A person whose word of honor is never broken is called truthful. Kṛṣṇa once promised Kuntī, the mother of the Pāṇḍavas, that He would bring her five sons back from the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra. After the battle was finished, when all the Pāṇḍavas had come home, Kuntī praised Kṛṣṇa because His promise was so nicely fulfilled. She said, “Even the sunshine may one day become cool and the moonshine one day become hot, but still Your promise will not fail.” Similarly, when Kṛṣṇa, along with Bhīma and Arjuna, went to challenge Jarāsandha, He plainly told Jarāsandha that He was the eternal Kṛṣṇa, present along with two of the Pāṇḍavas. The story is that both Kṛṣṇa and the Pāṇḍavas – in this case Bhīma and Arjuna – were kṣatriyas (warrior-kings). Jarāsandha was also a kṣatriya and was very charitable toward the brāhmaṇas. Thus Kṛṣṇa, who had planned to fight with Jarāsandha, went to him with Bhīma and Arjuna in the dress of brāhmaṇas. Jarāsandha, being very charitable toward the brāhmaṇas, asked them what they wanted and they expressed their desire to fight with him. Then Kṛṣṇa, dressed as a brāhmaṇa, declared Himself to be the same Kṛṣṇa who was the king’s eternal enemy.
9. PLEASING TALKER
A person who can speak sweetly even with his enemy just to pacify him is called a pleasing talker. Kṛṣṇa was such a pleasing talker that after defeating His enemy Kāliya in the water of the Yamunā, He said, “My dear king of the snakes, although I have given you so much pain, please do not be dissatisfied with Me. It is My duty to protect these cows, which are worshiped even by the demigods. Only in order to save them from the danger of your presence have I been obliged to banish you from this place.”
Kāliya was residing within the water of the Yamunā, and as a result the back portion of that river had become poisoned. Thus so many cows who had drunk the water had died. Therefore Kṛṣṇa, even though He was only four or five years old, dipped Himself into the water, punished Kāliya very severely and then asked him to leave the place and go elsewhere.
Kṛṣṇa said at that time that the cows are worshiped even by the demigods, and He practically demonstrated how to protect the cows. At least people who are in Kṛṣṇa consciousness should follow in His footsteps and give all protection to the cows. Cows are worshiped not only by the demigods. Kṛṣṇa Himself worshiped the cows on several occasions, especially on the days of Gopāṣṭamī and Govardhana-pūjā.
A person who can speak meaningful words and with all politeness and good qualities is called vāvadūka, or fluent. There is a nice statement in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam regarding Kṛṣṇa’s speaking politely. When Kṛṣṇa politely bade His father, Nanda Mahārāja, to stop the ritualistic offering of sacrifice to the rain-god, Indra, a wife of one village cowherd man became captivated. She later thus described the speaking of Kṛṣṇa to her friends: “Kṛṣṇa was speaking to His father so politely and gently that it was as if He were pouring nectar into the ears of all present there. After hearing such sweet words from Kṛṣṇa, who will not be attracted to Him?”
Kṛṣṇa’s speech, which contains all good qualities in the universe, is described in the following statement by Uddhava: “The words of Kṛṣṇa are so attractive that they can immediately change the heart of even His opponent. His words can immediately solve all of the questions and problems of the world. Although He does not speak very long, each and every word from His mouth contains volumes of meaning. These speeches of Kṛṣṇa are very pleasing to my heart.”
11. HIGHLY LEARNED
When a person is highly educated and acts strictly on moral principles, he is called highly learned. A person conversant in different departments of knowledge is called educated, and because he acts on moral principles, he is called morally stout. Together, these two factors constitute learning.
Kṛṣṇa’s receiving education from Sāndīpani Muni is described by Śrī Nārada Muni as follows: “In the beginning, Lord Brahmā and others are like clouds of evaporated water from the great ocean of Kṛṣṇa. In other words, Brahmā first received the Vedic education from Kṛṣṇa, as the clouds receive water from the ocean. That Vedic education or instruction which was spoken by Brahmā to the world was then reposed upon the mountain of Sāndīpani Muni. Sāndīpani Muni’s instructions to Kṛṣṇa are like a reservoir of water on the mountain, which flows as a river and goes again to mix with the source, the ocean of Kṛṣṇa.” To be more clear, the idea is that Kṛṣṇa actually cannot be instructed by anyone, just as the ocean does not receive water from any source but itself. It only appears that the rivers are pouring water into the ocean. So it is clear that Brahmā received his education from Kṛṣṇa, and from Brahmā, via the disciplic succession, this Vedic instruction was distributed. Sāndīpani Muni is likened to the river which is flowing down again to that same original ocean of Kṛṣṇa.
The Siddhas, the inhabitants of Siddhaloka, where all are born with fully developed mystic powers, and the Cāraṇas, the inhabitants of a similar planet, pray to Kṛṣṇa as follows: “My Lord Govinda, the goddess of learning is decorated with fourteen kinds of educational ornaments, her intelligence is all-pervading within the four departments of the Vedas, her attention is always on the lawbooks given by great sages like Manu, and she is appareled in six kinds of expert knowledge – namely, Vedic evidence, grammar, astrology, rhetoric, vocabulary and logic. Her constant friends are the supplements of the Vedas, the Purāṇas, and she is decorated with the final conclusion of all education. And now she has acquired an opportunity to sit with You as a class friend in school, and she is now engaged in Your service.”
Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, does not require any education, but He gives a chance to the goddess of learning to serve Him. Being self-sufficient, Kṛṣṇa does not require the service of any living entity, although He has many devotees. It is because Kṛṣṇa is so kind and merciful that He gives everyone the opportunity to serve Him, as though He required the service of His devotees.
Regarding His moral principles, it is stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that Kṛṣṇa is ruling over Vṛndāvana as death personified to the thieves, as pleasing bliss to the pious, as the most beautiful Cupid to the young girls and as the most munificent personality to the poor men. He is as refreshing as the full moon to His friends, and to His opponents He is the annihilating fire generated from Lord Śiva. Kṛṣṇa is therefore the most perfect moralist in His reciprocal dealings with different kinds of persons. When He is death personified to the thieves, it is not that He is without moral principles or that He is cruel; He is still kind, because to punish thieves with death is to exhibit the highest quality of moral principles. In Bhagavad-gītā, also, Kṛṣṇa says that He deals with different kinds of persons according to their dealings with Him. Kṛṣṇa’s dealings with devotees and with nondevotees, although different, are equally good. Because Kṛṣṇa is all-good, His dealings with everyone are always good.
12. HIGHLY INTELLIGENT
A man is called intelligent if he has a sharp memory and fine discretion. As far as Kṛṣṇa’s memory is concerned, it is said that when He was studying in the school of Sāndīpani Muni in Avantīpura, He showed such a sharp memory that by once taking instructions from the teacher He immediately became perfect in any subject. Actually, His going to the school of Sāndīpani Muni was to show the people of the world that however great or ingenious one may be, he must go to higher authorities for general education. However great one may be, he must accept a teacher or spiritual master.
Kṛṣṇa’s fine discretion was exhibited when He was fighting with the untouchable king who attacked the city of Mathurā. According to Vedic rites, those who are untouchable are not to be touched by the kṣatriya kings, not even for killing. Therefore, when the untouchable king seized the city of Mathurā, Kṛṣṇa did not think it wise to kill him directly with His own hand. Still the king had to be killed, and therefore Kṛṣṇa decided with fine discretion that He should flee from the battlefield so that the untouchable king would chase Him. He could then lead the king to the mountain where Mucukunda was lying asleep. Mucukunda had received a benediction from Kārttikeya to the effect that when he awoke from his sleep, whomever he might see would at once be burnt to ashes. Therefore Kṛṣṇa thought it wise to lead the untouchable king to that cave so that the king’s presence would awaken Mucukunda and he would at once be burnt to ashes.
A person is called a genius when he can refute any kind of opposing element with newer and newer arguments. In this connection there is a statement in Padyāvalī which contains the following conversation between Kṛṣṇa and Rādhā. One morning, when Kṛṣṇa came to Rādhā, Rādhā asked Him, “My dear Keśava, where is Your vāsa at present?” The Sanskrit word vāsa has three meanings: one meaning is residence, one meaning is fragrance, and another meaning is dress.
Actually Rādhārāṇī inquired from Kṛṣṇa, “Where is Your dress?” But Kṛṣṇa took the meaning as residence, and He replied to Rādhārāṇī, “My dear captivated one, at the present moment My residence is in Your beautiful eyes.”
To this Rādhārāṇī replied, “My dear cunning boy, I did not ask You about Your residence. I inquired about Your dress.”
Kṛṣṇa then took the meaning of vāsa as fragrance and said, “My dear fortunate one, I have just assumed this fragrance in order to be associated with Your body.”
Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī again inquired from Kṛṣṇa, “Where did You pass Your night?” The exact Sanskrit word used in this connection was yāminyāmuṣitaḥ. Yāminyām means “at night,” and uṣitaḥ means “pass.” Kṛṣṇa, however, divided the word yāminyāmuṣitaḥ into two separate words, namely, yāminyā and muṣitaḥ. By dividing this word into two, it came out to mean that He was kidnapped by Yāminī, or night. Kṛṣṇa therefore replied to Rādhārāṇī, “My dear Rādhārāṇī, is it possible that night can kidnap Me?” In this way He was answering all of the questions of Rādhārāṇī so cunningly that He gladdened this dearest of the gopīs.
One who can talk and dress himself very artistically is called vidagdha. This exemplary characteristic was visible in the personality of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. It is spoken of by Rādhārāṇī as follows: “My dear friend, just see how Kṛṣṇa has nicely composed songs and how He dances and speaks funny words and plays on His flute, wearing such nice garlands. He has dressed Himself in such an enchanting way, as though He had defeated all kinds of players at the chessboard. He lives wonderfully at the topmost height of artistic craftsmanship.”
A person who can perform various types of work at once is called clever. In this connection one of the gopīs said, “My dear friends, just see the clever activities of Śrī Kṛṣṇa! He has composed nice songs about the cowherd boys and is pleasing the cows. By the movement of His eyes He is pleasing the gopīs, and at the same time, He is fighting with demons like Ariṣṭāsura. In this way, He is sitting with different living entities in different ways, and He is thoroughly enjoying the situation.”
Any person who can quickly execute a very difficult task is called expert. About the expertise of Kṛṣṇa there is a statement in the Tenth Canto, fifty-ninth chapter, verse 17 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, wherein Śukadeva Gosvāmī tells Mahārāja Parīkṣit, “O best of the Kurus, Śrī Kṛṣṇa cut to pieces all the different weapons used by different fighters.” Formerly, fighting was done by releasing different kinds of arrows. One party would release a certain arrow, and the other party had to defeat it by counteracting it with another arrow. For example, one party might release an arrow that would cause water to pour from the sky, and to counteract this the opposing party would have to release an arrow that could immediately turn the water into clouds. So from this statement it appears that Kṛṣṇa was very expert in counteracting the enemy’s arrows. Similarly, at the rāsa dance, each and every gopī requested that Kṛṣṇa individually become her partner, and Kṛṣṇa immediately expanded Himself into so many Kṛṣṇas in order to be coupled with each and every gopī. The result was that each gopī found Kṛṣṇa by her side.
Any person who is conscious of his friend’s beneficent activities and never forgets his service is called grateful. In the Mahābhārata, Kṛṣṇa says, “When I was away from Draupadī, she cried with the words, ‘He govinda!’ This call for Me has put Me in her debt, and that indebtedness is gradually increasing in My heart!” This statement by Kṛṣṇa gives evidence of how one can please the Supreme Lord simply by addressing Him, “He kṛṣṇa! He govinda!”
The mahā-mantra (Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare) is also simply an address to the Lord and His energy. So to anyone who is constantly engaged in addressing the Lord and His energy, we can imagine how much the Supreme Lord is obliged. It is impossible for the Lord to ever forget such a devotee. It is clearly stated in this verse that anyone who addresses the Lord immediately attracts the attention of the Lord, who always remains obliged to him.
Another instance of Kṛṣṇa’s feeling of obligation is stated in connection with His dealings with Jāmbavān. When the Lord was present as Lord Rāmacandra, Jāmbavān, the great king of the monkeys, rendered very faithful service to Him. When the Lord again appeared as Lord Kṛṣṇa, He married Jāmbavān’s daughter and paid him all the respect that is usually given to superiors. Any honest person is obliged to his friend if some service has been rendered unto him. Since Kṛṣṇa is the supreme honest personality, how can He forget an obligation to His servitor?
Any person who observes regulative principles and fulfills his promises by practical activity is called determined. As far as the Lord’s determination is concerned, there is an example in His dealings in the Hari-vaṁśa. This is in connection with Lord Kṛṣṇa’s fighting the king of heaven, Indra, who was forcibly deprived of the pārijāta flower. Pārijāta is a kind of lotus flower grown on the heavenly planets. Once, Satyabhāmā, one of Kṛṣṇa’s queens, wanted that lotus flower, and Kṛṣṇa promised to deliver it; but Indra refused to part with his pārijāta flower. Therefore there was a great fight, with Kṛṣṇa and the Pāṇḍavas on one side and all of the demigods on the other. Ultimately, Kṛṣṇa defeated all of them and took the pārijāta flower, which He presented to His queen. So, in regard to that occurrence, Kṛṣṇa told Nārada Muni, “My dear great sage of the demigods, now you can declare to the devotees in general, and to the nondevotees in particular, that in this matter of taking the pārijāta flower, all the demigods – the Gandharvas, the Nāgas, the demon Rākṣasas, the Yakṣas, the Pannagas – tried to defeat Me, but none could make Me break My promise to My queen.”
There is another promise by Kṛṣṇa in Bhagavad-gītā to the effect that His devotee will never be vanquished. So a sincere devotee who is always engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord should know for certain that Kṛṣṇa will never break His promise. He will always protect His devotees in every circumstance.
Kṛṣṇa showed how He fulfills His promise by delivering the pārijāta flower to Satyabhāmā, by saving Draupadī from being insulted and by freeing Arjuna from the attacks of all enemies.
The promise of Kṛṣṇa that His devotees are never vanquished had also previously been admitted by Indra when he was defeated in the govardhana-līlā. When Kṛṣṇa stopped the villagers of Vraja (Vṛndāvana) from worshiping Indra, Indra became angry and therefore inundated Vṛndāvana with continuous rain. Kṛṣṇa, however, protected all of the citizens and animals of Vṛndāvana by lifting Govardhana Hill, which served as an umbrella. After the incident was over, Indra surrendered to Kṛṣṇa with many prayers, in which he admitted, “By Your lifting Govardhana Hill and protecting the citizens of Vṛndāvana, You have kept Your promise that Your devotees are never to be vanquished.”
19. EXPERT JUDGE OF TIME AND CIRCUMSTANCES
Kṛṣṇa was very expert in dealing with people according to circumstances, country, time and paraphernalia. How He could take advantage of a particular time, circumstance and person is expressed by Him while talking to Uddhava about His rāsa dance with the gopīs. He says, “The most opportune time is the full-moon night in autumn, like tonight. The best place within the universe is Vṛndāvana, and the most beautiful girls are the gopīs. So, My dear friend Uddhava, I think I should now take advantage of all these circumstances and engage Myself in the rāsa dance.”
20. SEER BY THE AUTHORITY OF THE SCRIPTURES
A person who acts exactly according to the tenets of scripture is called śāstra-cakṣus. Śāstra-cakṣus means one who sees through the eyes of the authorized scriptures. Actually, any man of knowledge and experience should see everything through these books. For example, with our naked eye we perceive the sun globe simply as some glaring substance, but when we see through authorized books of science and other literature, we can understand how much greater the sun globe is than this earth and how powerful it is. So seeing things through the naked eye is not actually seeing. Seeing things through the authorized books or authorized teachers is the correct way to see. So, although Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and can see all that is past, present and future, to teach the people in general He used to always refer to the scriptures. For example, in Bhagavad-gītā, although Kṛṣṇa was speaking as the supreme authority, He still mentioned and quoted Vedānta-sūtra as authority. There is a statement in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam wherein a person jokingly says that Kṛṣṇa, the enemy of Kaṁsa, is known as the seer through the śāstras. In order to establish His authority, however, He is now engaged in seeing the gopīs, whereby the gopīs are becoming maddened.
There are two kinds of supreme purity. When one type is possessed, one is able to deliver a sinful person. When the other type is possessed, one does not do anything that is impure. A person who possesses either of these qualities is called supremely pure. Kṛṣṇa is both; He can deliver all sinful conditioned souls, and at the same time, He never does anything by which He can be contaminated.
In this connection, Vidura, while trying to detach his elder brother, Dhṛtarāṣṭra, from his familial attachments, said, “My dear brother, you just fix your mind on the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, who is worshiped with beautiful, erudite verses by great sages and saintly persons. Kṛṣṇa is the supreme deliverer among all deliverers. Undoubtedly there are great demigods like Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā, but their positions as deliverers depend always upon the mercy of Kṛṣṇa.” Therefore Vidura advised his elder brother, Dhṛtarāṣṭra, to concentrate his mind and worship only Kṛṣṇa. If one simply chants the holy name of Kṛṣṇa, this holy name will rise within one’s heart like the powerful sun and will immediately dissipate all the darkness of ignorance. Vidura advised Dhṛtarāṣṭra to therefore think always of Kṛṣṇa so that the volumes of contaminations due to sinful activities would be washed off immediately. In Bhagavad-gītā also Kṛṣṇa is addressed by Arjuna as paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma pavitram – the supreme pure. There are many other instances exhibiting Kṛṣṇa’s supreme purity.
A person who can control his senses fully is called vaśī, or self-controlled. In this connection it is stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, “All the sixteen thousand wives of Kṛṣṇa were so exquisitely beautiful that their smiling and shyness were able to captivate the minds of great demigods like Lord Śiva. But still they could not even agitate the mind of Kṛṣṇa, in spite of their attractive feminine behavior.” Every one of the thousands of wives of Kṛṣṇa was thinking that Kṛṣṇa was captivated by her feminine beauty, but this was not the case. Kṛṣṇa is therefore the supreme controller of the senses, and this is admitted in Bhagavad-gītā, where He is addressed as Hṛṣīkeśa – the master of the senses.
A person who continues to work until his desired goal is achieved is called steadfast.
There was a fight between Kṛṣṇa and King Jāmbavān, and Kṛṣṇa was to take the valuable Syamantaka jewel from the king. The king tried to hide himself in the forest, but Kṛṣṇa would not become discouraged. Kṛṣṇa finally got the jewel by seeking out the king with great steadfastness.
A person who tolerates all kinds of troubles, even though such troubles appear to be unbearable, is called forbearing.
When Kṛṣṇa was residing at the place of His spiritual master, He did not mind taking all troubles in rendering service to His guru, although His body was very soft and delicate. It is the duty of the disciple to execute all services unto the spiritual master despite all kinds of difficulties. The disciple living at the residence of the spiritual master has to go begging from door to door and bring everything back to the spiritual master. When prasāda is being served, the spiritual master is supposed to call each and every disciple to come eat. If by chance the spiritual master forgets to call a disciple to partake of the prasāda, it is enjoined in the scriptures that the student should fast on that day rather than accept food on his own initiative. There are many such strictures. Sometimes, also, Kṛṣṇa went to the forest to collect dry wood for fuel.
A person who can tolerate all kinds of offenses from the opposite party is known to be forgiving.
Lord Kṛṣṇa’s forgiving quality is described in the Śiśupāla-vadha in connection with His forbidding the killing of Śiśupāla. King Śiśupāla was the monarch of the Cedi kingdom, and although he happened to be a cousin of Kṛṣṇa’s, he was always envious of Him. Whenever they would meet, Śiśupāla would try to insult Kṛṣṇa and call Him ill names as much as possible. In the arena of the Rājasūya sacrifice of Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira, when Śiśupāla began to call Lord Kṛṣṇa ill names, Kṛṣṇa did not care and remained silent. Some of the people at the arena were prepared to kill Śiśupāla, but Kṛṣṇa restricted them. He was so forgiving. It is said that when there is a thundering sound in the clouds, the mighty lion immediately replies with his thundering roar. But the lion doesn’t care when all the foolish jackals begin to make their less important sounds.
Śrī Yāmunācārya praises Kṛṣṇa’s power of forgiveness with the following statement: “My dear Lord Rāmacandra, You are so merciful to have excused the crow’s clawing on the nipples of Jānakī simply because of his bowing down before You.” Once Indra, the king of heaven, assumed the form of a crow and attacked Sītā (Jānakī), Lord Rāmacandra’s wife, by striking her on the breast. This was certainly an insult to the universal mother, Sītā, and Lord Rāmacandra was immediately prepared to kill the crow. But because later on the crow bowed down before the Lord, the Lord excused his offense. Śrī Yāmunācārya further says in his prayer that the forgiving power of Lord Kṛṣṇa is even greater than that of Lord Rāmacandra, because Śiśupāla was always in the habit of insulting Kṛṣṇa – not only in one lifetime but continually throughout three lives. Still, Kṛṣṇa was so kind that He gave Śiśupāla the salvation of merging into His existence. From this we can understand that the goal of the monist to merge into the effulgence of the Supreme is not a very difficult problem. Persons like Śiśupāla who are consistently inimical to Kṛṣṇa can also get this liberation.
A person who does not express his mind to everyone, or whose mental activity and plan of action are very difficult to understand, is called grave. After Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa had been offended by Brahmā, Brahmā prayed to Him to be excused. But in spite of his offering nice prayers to Kṛṣṇa, Brahmā could not understand whether Kṛṣṇa was satisfied or still dissatisfied. In other words, Kṛṣṇa was so grave that He did not take the prayers of Brahmā very seriously. Another instance of Kṛṣṇa’s gravity is found in connection with His love affairs with Rādhārāṇī. Kṛṣṇa was always very silent about His love affairs with Rādhārāṇī, so much so that Baladeva, Kṛṣṇa’s elder brother and constant companion, could not understand the transformations of Kṛṣṇa on account of His gravity.
A person who is fully satisfied in himself, without any hankering, and who is not agitated even in the presence of serious cause for distress, is called self-satisfied.
An example of Kṛṣṇa’s self-satisfaction was exhibited when He, Arjuna and Bhīma went to challenge Jarāsandha, the formidable king of Magadha, and Kṛṣṇa gave all credit to Bhīma for the killing of Jarāsandha. From this we can understand that Kṛṣṇa never cares at all for fame, although no one can be more famous.
An example of His not being disturbed was shown when Śiśupāla began to call Him ill names. All the kings and brāhmaṇas assembled at the sacrificial arena of Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira became perturbed and immediately wanted to satisfy Kṛṣṇa by offering nice prayers. But all these kings and brāhmaṇas could not discover any disturbance in Kṛṣṇa’s person.
28. POSSESSING EQUILIBRIUM
A person who is unaffected by attachment and envy is said to possess equilibrium.
An example of Kṛṣṇa’s equilibrium is given in the Tenth Canto, sixteenth chapter, verse 33 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in connection with His chastising Kāliya, the hundred-headed serpent. While Kāliya was being severely punished, all of his wives appeared before the Lord and prayed as follows: “Dear Lord, You have descended to punish all kinds of demoniac living creatures. Our husband, this Kāliya, is a greatly sinful creature, and so Your punishment of him is quite appropriate. We know that Your punishment of Your enemies and Your dealings with Your sons are both the same. We know that it is in thinking of the future welfare of this condemned creature that You have chastised him.”
In another prayer it is said, “My dear Lord Kṛṣṇa, best of all the Kuru dynasty, You are so impartial that if even Your enemy is qualified, You will reward him; and if one of Your sons is a culprit, You will chastise him. This is Your business, because You are the supreme author of the universes. You have no partiality. If anyone finds any partiality in Your characteristics, he is surely mistaken.”
Any person who is very charitably disposed is called magnanimous.
When Kṛṣṇa was reigning over Dvārakā, He was so magnanimous and charitably disposed that there was no limit to His charity. In fact, so great was His charity in Dvārakā that even the spiritual kingdom, with all of its opulence of cintāmaṇi (touchstone), desire trees and surabhi cows, was surpassed. In the spiritual kingdom of Lord Kṛṣṇa, named Goloka Vṛndāvana, there are surabhi cows that give unlimited quantities of milk. There are desire trees from which anyone can take all kinds of fruits, as much as he may desire. The land is made of touchstone, which when touched to iron will transform it into gold. In other words, although in the spiritual kingdom, the abode of Kṛṣṇa, everything is wonderfully opulent, still when Kṛṣṇa was in Dvārakā His charity exceeded the opulences of Goloka Vṛndāvana. Wherever Kṛṣṇa is present, the limitless opulence of Goloka Vṛndāvana is automatically present.
It is also stated that while Lord Kṛṣṇa was living in Dvārakā He expanded Himself into 16,108 forms, and each and every expansion resided in a palace with a queen. Not only was Kṛṣṇa happily living with His queens in those palaces, but He was giving in charity from each palace an aggregate number of 13,054 cows completely decorated with nice clothing and ornaments. From each of Kṛṣṇa’s 16,108 palaces, these cows were given daily. This means that 13,054 multiplied by 16,108 cows were being given in charity by Kṛṣṇa every day. No one can estimate the value of such a large number of cows given in charity, but that was the system of Kṛṣṇa’s daily affairs while He was reigning in Dvārakā.
A person who personally practices the tenets of religion as they are enjoined in the śāstras and who also teaches others the same principles is called religious. Simply professing a kind of faith is not a sign of religiousness. One must act according to religious principles, and by his personal example he should teach others. Such a person is to be understood as religious.
When Kṛṣṇa was present on this planet, there was no irreligion. In this connection, Nārada Muni once addressed Kṛṣṇa jokingly, “My dear Lord of the cowherd boys, Your bulls [bulls are the representation of religion], while eating grass from the pasturing ground and moving on their four legs, have certainly eaten up all the grass of irreligion!” In other words, by the grace of Kṛṣṇa, religious principles were so well cared for that hardly any irreligious activities could be found.
It is said that because Kṛṣṇa was constantly performing various types of sacrifices and was inviting the demigods from the higher planetary systems, the demigods were almost always absent from their consorts. Therefore the wives of the demigods, regretting the absence of their husbands, began to pray for the appearance of Lord Buddha, Kṛṣṇa’s ninth incarnation, who appears in the age of Kali. In other words, instead of being pleased that Lord Kṛṣṇa had come, they began to pray for Lord Buddha, who is the ninth incarnation, because Lord Buddha stopped the ritualistic ceremonies and sacrifices recommended in the Vedas in order to discourage animal-killing. The demigods’ wives thought that if Lord Buddha appeared, all kinds of sacrifices would be stopped and thus their husbands would not be invited to such ceremonies and would not be separated from them.
Sometimes it is inquired, “Why don’t the demigods from higher planetary systems come to this earth planet nowadays?” The plain answer is that since Lord Buddha appeared and began to deprecate the performance of sacrifice in order to stop animal-killing on this planet, the process of offering sacrifices has been stopped, and the demigods do not care to come here anymore.
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: Qualities of Kṛṣṇa Further Explained
A person who is very enthusiastic in military activities and expert in releasing different kinds of weapons is called heroic.
Regarding Kṛṣṇa’s heroism in fighting, there is the following statement: “My dear killer of the enemy, just as the elephant while taking bath in the lake destroys all the lotus stems within the water by swinging its trunk, so simply by moving Your arms, which are compared to the trunks of elephants, You have killed so many lotuslike enemies.”
Regarding Kṛṣṇa’s expertise in releasing weapons, when Jarāsandha and thirteen divisions of soldiers attacked Kṛṣṇa’s army, they were unable to hurt even one soldier on the side of Kṛṣṇa. This was due to Kṛṣṇa’s expert military training. This is unique in the history of military art.
A person who is unable to bear another’s distress is called compassionate.
Kṛṣṇa’s compassion for distressed persons was exhibited when He released all of the kings imprisoned by Magadhendra. While dying, Grandfather Bhīṣma prayed to Kṛṣṇa and described Him as the sun that eradicated darkness. The kings imprisoned by Magadhendra were put into dark cells, and when Kṛṣṇa appeared there the darkness immediately disappeared, just as if the sun had risen. In other words, although Magadhendra was able to imprison so many kings, upon the appearance of Kṛṣṇa they were all released. Kṛṣṇa released the kings out of His sincere compassion for them.
Kṛṣṇa’s compassion was also exhibited when Grandfather Bhīṣma was lying on the bed of arrows which had been shot through his body. While lying in this position, Bhīṣma was very anxious to see Kṛṣṇa, and thus Kṛṣṇa appeared there. Upon seeing the pitiable condition of Bhīṣma, Kṛṣṇa began speaking with tears in His eyes. Not only was He shedding tears, but He also forgot Himself in His compassion. Therefore, instead of offering obeisances to Kṛṣṇa directly, devotees offer obeisances to His compassionate nature. Actually, because Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, it is very difficult to approach Him. But the devotees, taking advantage of His compassionate nature, which is represented by Rādhārāṇī, always pray to Rādhārāṇī for Kṛṣṇa’s compassion.
A person who shows adequate respect to a spiritual master, a brāhmaṇa and an old person is to be understood as being respectful.
When superior persons assembled before Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa first of all offered respect to His spiritual master, then to His father, and then to His elder brother, Balarāma. In this way Lord Kṛṣṇa, the lotus-eyed, was completely happy and pure at heart in all of His dealings.
Any person who neither becomes impudent nor exhibits a puffed-up nature is called gentle.
The example of Kṛṣṇa’s gentle behavior was manifested when He was coming to the arena of the Rājasūya sacrifice arranged by Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira, Kṛṣṇa’s older cousin. Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira knew that Kṛṣṇa was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and he was attempting to get down from his chariot to receive Kṛṣṇa. But before Yudhiṣṭhira could get down, Lord Kṛṣṇa got down from His own chariot and immediately fell at the feet of the king. Even though Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He never forgets to show social etiquette in His dealings.
Any person who is by his natural behavior very mild is called liberal.
A statement by Uddhava after the Syamantaka jewel plundering confirms that Kṛṣṇa is so kind and favorable that if a servitor is accused even of great offenses, Kṛṣṇa does not take this into consideration. He simply considers the service that is rendered by His devotee.
A person who sometimes exhibits humility and bashfulness is called shy.
As described in the Lalita-mādhava, Kṛṣṇa’s shyness was manifested when He lifted Govardhana Hill by the little finger of His left hand. All of the gopīs were observing Kṛṣṇa’s wonderful achievement, and Kṛṣṇa was also smiling at seeing the gopīs. When Kṛṣṇa’s glance went over the breasts of the gopīs, His hand began to shake, and upon seeing His hand shake, all of the cowherd men underneath the hill became a little disturbed. Then there was a tumultuous roaring sound, and they all began to pray to Kṛṣṇa for safety. At this time Lord Balarāma was smiling, thinking that these cowherd men had been frightened by the shaking of Govardhana Hill. But, seeing Balarāma smile, Kṛṣṇa thought that Balarāma had understood His mind in observing the breasts of the gopīs, and He immediately became bashful.
37. PROTECTOR OF SURRENDERED SOULS
Kṛṣṇa is the protector of all surrendered souls.
Some enemy of Kṛṣṇa’s was enlivened with the thought that he needn’t fear Kṛṣṇa, because if he simply surrendered unto Him, Kṛṣṇa would give him all protection. Kṛṣṇa is sometimes compared to the moon, which does not hesitate to distribute its soothing rays even on the houses of the caṇḍālas and other untouchables.
Any person who is always joyful and untouched by any distress is called happy.
As far as Kṛṣṇa’s enjoyment is concerned, it is stated that the ornaments that decorated the bodies of Kṛṣṇa and His queens were beyond the dreams of Kuvera, the treasurer of the heavenly kingdom. The constant dancing before the doors of Kṛṣṇa’s palaces was not to be imagined even by the demigods in the heavenly kingdom. In the heavenly kingdom, Indra always sees the dancing of the society girls. But even Indra could not imagine how beautiful were the dances being performed at the gates of Kṛṣṇa’s palaces. Gaurī means “white woman,” and Lord Śiva’s wife is called Gaurī. The beautiful women residing within the palaces of Kṛṣṇa were so much whiter than Gaurī that they were compared to the moonshine, and they were constantly visible to Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, no one can be enjoying more than Kṛṣṇa. The conception of enjoyment is beautiful women, ornaments and riches. And all of these were fabulously present in the palaces of Kṛṣṇa, defeating even the imagination of Kuvera, Lord Indra or Lord Śiva.
Not even a slight distress can touch Kṛṣṇa. Once some of the gopīs went to the place where the brāhmaṇas were performing sacrifices and said, “Dear wives of the brāhmaṇas, you must know that not even a slight smell of distress can touch Kṛṣṇa. He knows no loss, He knows no defamation, He has no fear, He has no anxiety, and He does not know calamity. He is simply encircled by the dancers of Vraja and is enjoying their company in the rāsa dance.”
39. WELL-WISHER OF HIS DEVOTEES
It is said of Kṛṣṇa’s devotees that if they offer even a little water or a tulasī leaf in devotion to Lord Viṣṇu, Lord Viṣṇu is so kind that He will sell Himself to them.
Kṛṣṇa’s favoritism toward His devotees was exhibited in His fight with Bhīṣma. When Grandfather Bhīṣma was lying at the point of death on the bed of arrows, Kṛṣṇa was present before him and Bhīṣma was remembering how Kṛṣṇa had been kind to him on the battlefield. Kṛṣṇa had promised that in the Battle of Kurukṣetra He would not even touch a weapon to help either side; He would remain neutral. Although Kṛṣṇa was Arjuna’s charioteer, He had promised that He would not help Arjuna by using any weapons. But one day Bhīṣma, in order to nullify Kṛṣṇa’s promise, exhibited his fighting spirit so magnificently against Arjuna that Kṛṣṇa was obliged to get down from His chariot. Taking up a broken chariot wheel, He ran toward Grandfather Bhīṣma as a lion runs toward an elephant to kill it. Grandfather Bhīṣma remembered this scene, and He later praised Kṛṣṇa for His glorious favoritism toward His devotee, Arjuna, even at the risk of breaking His own promise.
40. CONTROLLED BY LOVE
Kṛṣṇa becomes obliged to the loving spirit of the devotee and not exactly to the service rendered. No one can serve Kṛṣṇa completely. He is so complete and self-sufficient that He has no need of any service from the devotee. It is the devotee’s attitude of love and affection for Kṛṣṇa that makes Him obliged. A very nice example of this obligatory behavior was manifested when Sudāmā Vipra went to Kṛṣṇa’s palace. Sudāmā Vipra had been a class friend of Kṛṣṇa’s, and due to his poverty he was induced by his wife to see Kṛṣṇa to request some aid. When Sudāmā Vipra reached Kṛṣṇa’s palace, Kṛṣṇa received him very well, and both He and His wife washed the feet of Sudāmā Vipra, showing respect to the brāhmaṇa. Remembering His loving affairs with Sudāmā in their childhood, Kṛṣṇa began to shed tears while receiving him.
Another instance of Kṛṣṇa’s obligation to His devotee is described in the Tenth Canto, ninth chapter, verse 18 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, where Śukadeva Gosvāmī tells King Parīkṣit, “My dear King, when mother Yaśodā was perspiring, tired of trying to bind Kṛṣṇa up with rope, Kṛṣṇa agreed to allow her to bind Him.” Kṛṣṇa, as a child, was disturbing His mother by His naughty activities, and she wanted to bind Him up. Mother Yaśodā brought some rope from the house and tried to tie up the child, but she could not tie a knot due to the shortness of the rope. She tied together many ropes, but when she finished still the rope was too short. After a while she felt very tired and began to perspire. At that time Kṛṣṇa agreed to be bound up by His mother. In other words, no one can bind Kṛṣṇa by any means other than love. He is bound only by obligation to His devotees, because of their ecstatic love for Him.
A person who is always engaged in auspicious welfare activities for everyone is known as all-auspicious.
After the disappearance of Lord Kṛṣṇa from this planet, Uddhava began to remember the activities of the Lord and said, “Kṛṣṇa satisfied all great sages by His wonderful pastimes. He demolished all of the demoniac activities of the cruel royal order, protected all pious men and killed all cruel fighters on the battlefield. Therefore He is all-auspicious for all men.”
42. MOST POWERFUL
A person who can always put his enemy into calamities is called powerful.
When Kṛṣṇa was present on this planet, just as the powerful sun drives all darkness to take shelter in caves, He drove away all of His enemies, who fled like owls to take shelter beyond His sight.
A person who becomes well known due to his spotless character is called famous.
It is stated that the diffusion of Kṛṣṇa’s fame is like the moonshine, which turns darkness into light. In other words, if Kṛṣṇa consciousness is preached all over the world, the darkness of ignorance and the anxiety of material existence will turn into the whiteness of purity, peacefulness and prosperity.
When the great sage Nārada was chanting the glories of the Lord, the bluish line on the neck of Lord Śiva disappeared. Upon seeing this, Gaurī, the wife of Lord Śiva, suspected Lord Śiva of being someone else disguised as her husband, and out of fear she immediately left his company. Upon hearing the chanting of Kṛṣṇa’s name, Lord Balarāma saw that His dress had become white, although He was generally accustomed to a bluish dress. And the cowherd girls saw all of the water of the Yamunā River turn into milk, so they began to churn it into butter. In other words, by the spreading of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, or the glories of Kṛṣṇa, everything became white and pure.
Any person who is very dear to people in general is called a popular man.
As for Kṛṣṇa’s popularity, there is a statement in the First Canto, eleventh chapter, verse 9 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that deals with His returning home from the capital of Hastināpura. While He had been absent from Dvārakā at the Battle of Kurukṣetra, all the citizens of Dvārakā had become morose. Then, when He returned, the citizens joyfully received Him and said, “Dear Lord, while You were absent from the city, we passed our days in the darkness of night. As in the darkness of night every moment appears to be a long duration of time, so while You were gone every moment appeared to us like millions of years. Your separation is completely unbearable to us.” This statement shows how popular Kṛṣṇa was all over the country.
A similar incident occurred when Kṛṣṇa entered the arena of sacrifice arranged by King Kaṁsa for His death. As soon as He entered the place, all the sages began to cry, “Jaya! Jaya! Jaya!” (which means “Victory!”). Kṛṣṇa was a boy at that time, and all the sages offered their respectful blessings to Him. The demigods who were present also began to offer beautiful prayers to Kṛṣṇa. And the ladies and girls present expressed their joy from all corners of the arena. In other words, there was no one in that particular place with whom Kṛṣṇa was not very popular.
45. PARTIAL TO DEVOTEES
Although Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and is therefore not partial to anyone, it is stated in Bhagavad-gītā that He has special attraction for a devotee who worships His name in love and affection. When Kṛṣṇa was on this planet, one devotee expressed his feeling in this way: “My dear Lord, if You had not appeared on this planet, then the asuras [demons] and atheists would have surely created havoc against the activities of the devotees. I cannot imagine the magnitude of such devastation prevented by Your presence.” From the very beginning of His appearance, Kṛṣṇa was the greatest enemy of all demoniac persons, although Kṛṣṇa’s enmity toward the demons is actually comparable to His friendship with the devotees. This is because any demon who is killed by Kṛṣṇa receives immediate salvation.
46. VERY ATTRACTIVE TO ALL WOMEN
Any person who has special qualifications becomes immediately very attractive to women.
A devotee made the following statement about the queens of Dvārakā: “How shall I describe the glories of the queens of Dvārakā, who were personally engaged in the service of the Lord? The Lord is so great that simply by chanting His name all the great sages like Nārada can enjoy transcendental bliss. So what can be said about those queens, who were at every moment seeing the Lord and serving Him personally?” Kṛṣṇa had 16,108 wives in Dvārakā, and each and every one of them was attracted to Kṛṣṇa just as iron is attracted by a magnet. There is a statement by a devotee: “My dear Lord, You are just like a magnet, and all the damsels of Vraja are just like iron: in whichever direction You are moving they are following You, as iron is attracted by magnetic force.”
A person who is respected and worshiped by all kinds of human beings and demigods is called sarvārādhya, or all-worshipable.
Kṛṣṇa is worshiped not only by all living entities, including the great demigods like Lord Śiva and Lord Brahmā, but also by Viṣṇu expansions (forms of Godhead) such as Baladeva and Śeṣa. Baladeva is a direct expansion of Kṛṣṇa, but He still accepts Kṛṣṇa as worshipable. When Kṛṣṇa appeared in the arena of the Rājasūya sacrifice organized by Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira, to all present, including great sages and demigods, Kṛṣṇa became the cynosure, the center of attraction, and everyone offered Him respects.
Kṛṣṇa is full in all opulences – namely, strength, wealth, fame, beauty, knowledge and renunciation. When Kṛṣṇa was present in Dvārakā, His family, which is known as the Yadu dynasty, consisted of 560 million members. And all of these family members were very obedient and faithful to Kṛṣṇa. There were more than 900,000 big palatial buildings there to house all the people, and everyone in them respected Kṛṣṇa as the most worshipable. Devotees were astonished to see the opulence of Kṛṣṇa.
This was verified by Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura when in Kṛṣṇa-karṇāmṛta he addressed Kṛṣṇa thus: “My dear Lord, what can I say about the opulence of Your Vṛndāvana? Simply the ornaments on the legs of the damsels of Vṛndāvana are more than cintāmaṇi, and their dresses are as good as the heavenly pārijāta flowers. And the cows exactly resemble the surabhi cows in the transcendental abode. Therefore Your opulence is just like an ocean that no one can measure.”
A person who is chief among all important persons is called all honorable.
When Kṛṣṇa was living at Dvārakā, demigods like Lord Śiva, Lord Brahmā, Indra, the king of heaven, and many others used to come to visit Him. The doorkeeper, who had to manage the entrance of all these demigods, one very busy day said, “My dear Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, please sit down on this bench and wait. My dear Indra, please desist from reading your prayers. This is creating a disturbance. Please wait silently. My dear Varuṇa, please go away. And my dear demigods, do not waste your time uselessly. Kṛṣṇa is very busy; He cannot see you!”
50. THE SUPREME CONTROLLER
There are two kinds of controllers, or lords: one who is independent is called controller, and one whose orders cannot be neglected by anyone is called controller.
Regarding Kṛṣṇa’s complete independence and lordship, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam says that although Kāliya was a great offender, Kṛṣṇa still favored him by marking his head with His lotus feet, whereas Lord Brahmā, although having prayed to Kṛṣṇa with so many wonderful verses, still could not attract Him.
This contradictory treatment by Kṛṣṇa is just befitting His position, because in all the Vedic literature He is described as the complete independent. In the beginning of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam the Lord is described as sva-rāṭ, which means “completely independent.” That is the position of the Supreme Absolute Truth. The Absolute Truth is not only sentient but is also completely independent.
As for Kṛṣṇa’s orders not being neglected by anyone, in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Third Canto, second chapter, verse 21, Uddhava tells Vidura, “Lord Kṛṣṇa is the master of the three modes of material nature. He is the enjoyer of all opulences, and therefore there is no one equal to or greater than Him.” All the great kings and emperors used to come before Him, offer their gifts and pay obeisances with their helmets at the feet of the Lord. One devotee said, “My dear Kṛṣṇa, when You order Brahmā, ‘Now you may create the universe,’ and when You order Lord Śiva, ‘Now you dissolve this material manifestation,’ You are in this way creating and dissolving the material creation Yourself. Simply by Your orders and by Your partial representation of Viṣṇu, You are maintaining the universes. In this way, O Kṛṣṇa, O enemy of Kaṁsa, there are so many Brahmās and Śivas who are simply carrying out Your orders.”
Kṛṣṇa does not change His constitutional position, not even when He appears in this material world. Ordinary living entities have their constitutional spiritual positions covered. They appear in different bodies, and under the different bodily concepts of life they act. But Kṛṣṇa does not change His body. He appears in His own body and is therefore not affected by the modes of material nature. In the First Canto, eleventh chapter, verse 38 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is stated that the special prerogative of the supreme controller is that He is not at all affected by the modes of nature. The practical example of this is that devotees who are under the protection of the Lord are also not affected by material nature. To overcome the influence of the material nature is very difficult, but the devotees or the saintly persons who are under the protection of the Lord are not affected. So what need is there to speak of the Lord Himself? To be more clear, although the Lord sometimes appears in this material world, He has nothing to do with the modes of material nature, and He acts with full independence in His transcendental position. This is the special quality of the Lord.
Any person who can understand the feelings of all persons and incidents in all places at all times is called all-cognizant.
A nice example of the all-cognizant quality of the Lord is described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, First Canto, fifteenth chapter, verse 11 in connection with Durvāsā Muni’s visit to the house of the Pāṇḍavas in the forest. Following a calculated plan, Duryodhana sent Durvāsā Muni and his ten thousand disciples to be guests of the Pāṇḍavas in the forest. Duryodhana arranged for Durvāsā and his men to reach the place of the Pāṇḍavas just when the Pāṇḍavas’ lunchtime ended, so that the Pāṇḍavas would be caught without sufficient means to feed such a large number of guests. Knowing Duryodhana’s plan, Kṛṣṇa came to the Pāṇḍavas and asked their wife, Draupadī, if there were any remnants of food that she could offer to Him. Draupadī offered Him a container in which there was only a little fragment of some vegetable preparation, and Kṛṣṇa at once ate it. At that moment all of the sages accompanying Durvāsā were taking bath in the river, and when Kṛṣṇa felt satisfaction from eating Draupadī’s offering, they also felt satisfaction, and their hunger was gone. Because Durvāsā and his men were unable to eat anything more, they went away without coming into the house of the Pāṇḍavas. In this way the Pāṇḍavas were saved from the wrath of Durvāsā. Duryodhana had sent them because he knew that since the Pāṇḍavas would not be able to receive such a large number, Durvāsā would become angry and the Pāṇḍavas would be cursed. But Kṛṣṇa saved them from this calamity by His trick and by His all-cognizant quality.
53. EVER FRESH
Kṛṣṇa is always remembered, and His name is always chanted by millions of devotees, but the devotees never become saturated. Instead of becoming disinterested in thinking of Kṛṣṇa and in chanting His holy name, the devotees get newer and newer impetus to continue the process. Therefore Kṛṣṇa is ever fresh. Not only Kṛṣṇa Himself, but also Kṛṣṇa’s knowledge is ever fresh. Bhagavad-gītā, which was imparted five thousand years ago, is still being read repeatedly by many, many men, and still new light is always being found in it. Therefore, Kṛṣṇa and His name, fame, qualities – and everything in relationship with Him – is ever fresh.
All the queens at Dvārakā were goddesses of fortune. It is said in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, First Canto, eleventh chapter, verse 33 that the goddesses of fortune are very fickle and restless, so no one can consistently captivate them. Thus one’s luck will always change sometime. Yet the goddesses of fortune could not leave Kṛṣṇa for even a moment when they were residing with Him at Dvārakā. This means that Kṛṣṇa’s attraction is ever fresh. Even the goddesses of fortune cannot leave His company.
Regarding Kṛṣṇa’s attractive features being ever fresh, there is a statement by Rādhārāṇī in the Lalita-mādhava in which Kṛṣṇa is compared to the greatest sculptor, because He is expert in chiseling at the chastity of women. In other words, although chaste women may follow the rules and regulations of Vedic principles to become ever faithful to their husbands, Kṛṣṇa is able to break their stonelike chastity with the chisel of His beauty. Most of the girlfriends of Kṛṣṇa were married, but because Kṛṣṇa was their friend before their marriages, they could not forget His attractive features, which were always fascinating to them, even after their marriages.
Kṛṣṇa’s transcendental body is eternal, full of knowledge and bliss. Sat means ever-existing for all time and in all places; in other words, all-pervading in time and space. Cit means full of knowledge. Kṛṣṇa has nothing to learn from anyone. He is independently full of all knowledge. Ānanda means the reservoir of all pleasure. The impersonalists are seeking to merge into the Brahman effulgence of eternity and knowledge, but the major portion of the absolute pleasure which is in Kṛṣṇa is avoided by them. One can enjoy the transcendental blissfulness of merging into the Brahman effulgence after being freed from the contamination of material illusion, false identification, attachment, detachment and material absorption. These are the preliminary qualifications of a person who can realize Brahman. It is stated in Bhagavad-gītā that one has to become full of joyfulness; this is not exactly joyfulness, but a sense of freedom from all anxieties. Freedom from all anxieties may be the first principle of joyfulness, but it is not actual joyfulness. Those who realize the self, or become brahma-bhūta, are only preparing themselves for the platform of joyfulness. That joyfulness can actually be achieved only when one comes into contact with Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa consciousness is so complete that it includes the transcendental pleasure derived from impersonal or Brahman realization. Even the impersonalist will become attracted to the personal form of Kṛṣṇa, known as Śyāmasundara.
It is confirmed by the statement of Brahma-saṁhitā that the Brahman effulgence is the bodily ray of Kṛṣṇa; the Brahman effulgence is simply an exhibition of the energy of Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is the source of the Brahman effulgence, as He Himself confirms in Bhagavad-gītā. From this we can conclude that the impersonal feature of the Absolute Truth is not the ultimate end; Kṛṣṇa is the ultimate end of the Absolute Truth.
The members of the Vaiṣṇava schools therefore never try to merge into the Brahman effulgence in their pursuit of spiritual perfection. They accept Kṛṣṇa as the ultimate goal of self-realization. Therefore Kṛṣṇa is called Param-brahman (the Supreme Brahman) or Parameśvara (the supreme controller). Śrī Yāmunācārya has prayed as follows: “My dear Lord, I know that the gigantic universe and gigantic space and time within the universe are covered by the ten layers of the material elements, each layer ten times larger than the previous one. The three material modes of nature, the Garbhodaka-śāyī Viṣṇu, the Kṣīrodaka-śāyī Viṣṇu, the Mahā-viṣṇu, and beyond them the spiritual sky and its spiritual planets, known as Vaikuṇṭhas, and the Brahman effulgence in that spiritual sky – all of these taken together are nothing but a small exhibition of Your potency.”
55. POSSESSING ALL MYSTIC PERFECTIONS
There are many standards of perfection. The highest material perfections, obtained by perfect yogīs, are listed as eight: to become the smallest of the small, to become the greatest of the great, etc. All of these material perfections, as well as all spiritual perfections, can be found fully in Kṛṣṇa’s personality.
56. KṚṢṆA’S INCONCEIVABLE POTENCIES
Kṛṣṇa is present everywhere, not only within the universe, not only within the hearts of all living entities, but also within every atom. In the prayers of Queen Kuntī we find mention of this inconceivable potency of Kṛṣṇa. While Kṛṣṇa was talking with Kuntī, He simultaneously entered the womb of Uttarā, who was in danger due to the atomic weapon of Aśvatthāmā. Kṛṣṇa can illusion even Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva, and He can protect all surrendered devotees from the reactions of sinful activities. These are some of the examples of His inconceivable potencies.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī therefore offers his obeisances unto Kṛṣṇa by saying, “Kṛṣṇa, who is present as a human being, has as His mere shadow the whole material nature. He has expanded Himself into so many cows, calves and cowherd boys, and He has again manifested Himself in all of them as the four-handed Nārāyaṇa. He has taught millions of Brahmās self-realization, and thus He is worshipable not only by the heads of all universes, but by everyone else also. Therefore let me always accept Him as the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
When Indra was defeated by Kṛṣṇa in the matter of taking the pārijāta plant from heaven, Nārada met Indra and criticized him, “O Indra, great king of heaven, Kṛṣṇa has already defeated Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva. So what can be said of an insignificant demigod like you?” Nārada Muni, of course, was criticizing Indra jokingly, and Indra enjoyed it. In Nārada’s statement it is confirmed that Kṛṣṇa was able to illusion even Lord Brahmā and Lord Śiva as well as Indra. So there is no question of Kṛṣṇa’s power to do the same to lesser living entities.
A description of Kṛṣṇa’s power in minimizing the sufferings of sinful reactions is given in Brahma-saṁhitā as follows: “Beginning from the great king of heaven down to the ant, everyone is undergoing the reactions of past deeds. But a devotee of Kṛṣṇa is relieved from such reactions by the grace of Kṛṣṇa.” This was clearly proved when Kṛṣṇa went to the place of Yamarāja, the Lord of death, to reclaim the dead son of His teacher. Kṛṣṇa’s teacher had requested Kṛṣṇa to bring back his dead son, and to do so Kṛṣṇa went to the place of Yamarāja to claim that soul, who had been brought there by Yamarāja and was being kept under his control. Kṛṣṇa immediately ordered Yamarāja, “Be benefited by My order and return that soul unto Me!” The purport of this incident is that even a person who is under the regulative principles of the laws of nature, and who is therefore punishable by Yamarāja under these laws, can be granted complete immunity by the grace of Kṛṣṇa.
Kṛṣṇa’s inconceivable potencies have been described by Śukadeva Gosvāmī as follows: “Kṛṣṇa is bewildering my intelligence because, although He is unborn, He has appeared as the son of Nanda Mahārāja. He is all-pervading, but still He is held on the lap of Yaśodā. In spite of His being all-pervasive, He has become limited by the love of Yaśodā. Although He has innumerable forms, still He is moving as one Kṛṣṇa before His father and mother, Nanda and Yaśodā.” In the Brahma-saṁhitā also it is said that although Kṛṣṇa is eternally living in Goloka Vṛndāvana, His transcendental abode, He is still present everywhere, even within the atoms.
57. KṚṢṆA’S BODY GENERATES INNUMERABLE UNIVERSES
In the Tenth Canto, fourteenth chapter, verse 11 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Lord Brahmā says, “My dear Lord, false ego, intelligence, mind, sky, air, fire, water and earth are the material ingredients of this universe, which can be compared to a gigantic pot. In that gigantic pot my body is of insignificant measurement, and even though one of the many universes is created by me, innumerable universes are coming and going from the pores of Your body, just as atomic particles are seen flickering in the sunlight. I think I am very, very insignificant before You, and I am therefore begging Your pardon. Please be merciful toward me.”
If one takes account of only one universe, he will find so many combinations of wonderful things within, because there are innumerable planets, innumerable residences and places of demigods. The diameter of the universe is four billion miles, and it is infested with many unfathomable regions known as Pātālas, or lower planetary systems. Although Kṛṣṇa is the origin of all this, He can always be seen in Vṛndāvana exhibiting His inconceivable potencies. So who can adequately worship such an all-powerful Lord, possessed of such inconceivable energy?
58. THE ORIGINAL SOURCE OF ALL INCARNATIONS
Jayadeva Gosvāmī, in his Gīta-govinda, has sung as follows: “The Lord has saved the Vedas in His form as a fish, and He has borne the whole universe on His back in the form of a tortoise. He has picked up this earthly planet from the water in the form of a boar. He has killed Hiraṇyakaśipu in the form of Nṛsiṁha. He has cheated Mahārāja Bali in the form of Vāmana. He has annihilated all the dynasties of the kṣatriyas in the form of Paraśurāma. He has killed all the demons in the form of Lord Rāma. He has accepted the great plow in the form of Balarāma. He has annihilated all the atheistic persons in the form of Kalki. And He has saved all the poor animals in the form of Lord Buddha.”* These are some of the descriptions of the incarnations emanating from Kṛṣṇa, and from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is understood that innumerable incarnations are always coming out from the body of Kṛṣṇa, just like waves in the ocean. No one can even count how many waves there are, and similarly no one can count how many incarnations are coming from the Lord’s body.
* All of these incarnations of Godhead are described in the author’s Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, First Canto, chapter three.
59. KṚṢṆA GIVES SALVATION TO THE ENEMIES THAT HE KILLS
Another name for salvation is apavarga. Apavarga is the opposite of pavarga, or the various miserable conditions of material existence. The word pa-varga indicates the combination of five Sanskrit letters: pa, pha, ba, bha and ma. These letters are the first letters of the words for five different conditions as described below. The first letter, pa, comes from the word parābhava, which means “defeat.” In this material struggle for existence, we are simply meeting defeat. Actually, we have to conquer birth, death, disease and old age, and because there is no possibility of overcoming all these miserable conditions, due to the illusion of māyā we are simply meeting with parābhava, or defeat. The next letter, pha, is taken from the word phena. Phena is the foam which is found on the mouth when one is very tired (as is commonly observed with horses). The letter ba comes from the word bandha, or bondage. Bha is taken from the word bhīti, or fearfulness. Ma is taken from the word mṛti, or death. So the word pavarga signifies our struggle for existence and our meeting with defeat, exhaustion, bondage, fearfulness and, at last, death. Apavarga means that which can nullify all of these material conditions. Kṛṣṇa is said to be the giver of apavarga, the path of liberation.
For the impersonalists and the enemies of Kṛṣṇa, liberation means merging into the Supreme. The demons and the impersonalists do not care for Kṛṣṇa, but Kṛṣṇa is so kind that He gives this liberation even to His enemies and to the impersonalists. There is the following statement in this connection: “O Murāri [Kṛṣṇa]! How wonderful it is that although the demons, who were always envious of the demigods, have failed to penetrate Your military phalanx, they have penetrated the region of mitra, the sun globe.” The word mitra is used metaphorically. Mitra means “the sun globe,” and mitra also means “friend.” The demons who opposed Kṛṣṇa as enemies wanted to penetrate His military phalanx, but instead of doing this, they died in battle, and the result was that they penetrated the planet of Mitra, or the sun planet. In other words, they entered into the Brahman effulgence. The example of the sun planet is given here because the sun is ever-illuminating, like the spiritual sky, where there are innumerable illuminating Vaikuṇṭha planets. The enemies of Kṛṣṇa were killed, and instead of penetrating Kṛṣṇa’s phalanx, they entered into the friendly atmosphere of the spiritual effulgence. That is the mercy of Kṛṣṇa, and therefore He is known as the deliverer of His enemies also.
60. THE ATTRACTOR OF LIBERATED SOULS
There are many examples of how Kṛṣṇa attracted even great liberated souls like Śukadeva Gosvāmī and the Kumāras. In this connection the following statement was given by the Kumāras: “How wonderful it is that although we are completely liberated, free from desire and situated at the stage of parama-haṁsa, we are still aspiring to taste the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa.”
61. PERFORMER OF WONDERFUL ACTIVITIES
In the Bṛhad-vāmana Purāṇa, the Lord says, “Although I have many fascinating pastimes, whenever I think of the rāsa-līlā, which I perform with the gopīs, I become eager to have it again.”
One devotee has said, “I know about Nārāyaṇa, the husband of the goddess of fortune, and I also know about many other incarnations of the Lord. Certainly all the pastimes of such incarnations are exciting to my mind, but still the pastimes of the rāsa-līlā performed by Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself are wonderfully increasing my transcendental pleasure.”
62. KṚṢṆA IS SURROUNDED BY LOVING DEVOTEES
When we speak of Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa is not alone. “Kṛṣṇa” means His name, His qualities, His fame, His friends, His paraphernalia, His entourage – all of these are included. When we speak of a king, it is to be understood that he is surrounded by ministers, secretaries, military commanders and many other people. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa is not impersonal. In His Vṛndāvana līlā especially, He is surrounded by the gopīs, the cowherd boys, His father, His mother and all the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana.
In the Tenth Canto, thirty-first chapter, verse 15 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the gopīs lament, “My dear Kṛṣṇa, during the daytime when You go out into the forest of Vṛndāvana with Your cows, we consider one moment to be twelve years, and it is very difficult for us to pass the time. And again when You come back at the end of the day, by seeing Your beautiful face we are so much attracted that we are unable to stop looking upon You constantly. At these times, when there is occasional blinking of our eyelids, we condemn the creator, Lord Brahmā, as a dunce, because he does not know how to make perfect eyes!” In other words, the gopīs were disturbed by the blinking of their eyes because for the moment that their eyes were closed they could not see Kṛṣṇa. This means that the gopīs’ love for Kṛṣṇa was so great and ecstatic that they were disturbed by even His momentary absence. And when they saw Kṛṣṇa, they were also disturbed. This is a paradox.
One gopī, expressing herself to Kṛṣṇa, says, “When we meet You at night, we consider the duration of night to be very small. And why speak of only this night? Even if we had a night of Brahmā* we would consider it a very short time!” We get an idea of Brahmā’s day from the following statement of Bhagavad-gītā (8.17): “By human calculation, a thousand yuga cycles taken together is Brahmā’s one day. And such also is the duration of his night.” The gopīs said that even if they could have that duration of night, it would still not be sufficient for their meeting with Kṛṣṇa.
* 4,300,000,000 solar years equals twelve hours, or one night, of Brahmā.
63. KṚṢṆA’S ATTRACTIVE FLUTE
In the Tenth Canto, thirty-fifth chapter, verse 15 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the gopīs tell mother Yaśodā, “When your son plays on His flute, Lord Śiva, Lord Brahmā and Indra – although they are supposed to be the greatest learned scholars and personalities – all become bewildered. Although they are all very great personalities, by hearing the sound of Kṛṣṇa’s flute they humbly bow down and become grave from studying the sound vibrated.”
In his book Vidagdha-mādhava, Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī thus describes the vibration of Kṛṣṇa’s flute: “The sound vibration created by the flute of Kṛṣṇa wonderfully stopped Lord Śiva from playing his ḍiṇḍima drum, and the same flute has caused great sages like the four Kumāras to become disturbed in their meditation. It has caused Lord Brahmā, who was sitting on the lotus flower for the creative function, to become astonished. And Anantadeva, who was calmly holding all the planets on His hood, was moving in this way and that due to the transcendental vibration from Kṛṣṇa’s flute, which penetrated through the covering of this universe and reached to the spiritual sky.”
64. KṚṢṆA’S EXQUISITE BEAUTY
In the Third Canto, second chapter, verse 12 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Uddhava tells Vidura, “My dear sir, Kṛṣṇa’s form was most wonderful when He appeared on this planet and exhibited the potency of His internal energy. His wonderfully attractive form was present during His pastimes on this planet, and by His internal potency He exhibited His opulences, which are striking to everyone. His personal beauty was so great that there was no necessity for His wearing ornaments on His body. In fact, instead of the ornaments’ beautifying Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa’s beauty enhanced the ornaments.”
Regarding the attractiveness of Kṛṣṇa’s bodily beauty and the sound vibration of His flute, in the Tenth Canto, twenty-ninth chapter, verse 40 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the gopīs address Kṛṣṇa as follows: “Although our attitude toward You resembles loving affairs with a paramour, we cannot but wonder at how no woman can maintain her chastity upon hearing the vibration from Your flute. And not only women, but even stronghearted men are subject to falling down from their position at the sound of Your flute. In fact, we have seen that in Vṛndāvana even the cows, the deer, the birds, the trees – everyone – has been enchanted by the sweet vibration of Your flute and the fascinating beauty of Your person.”
In Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Lalita-mādhava, it is said, “One day Kṛṣṇa happened to see the shadow of His beautiful form reflected on the jeweled foreground. Upon seeing this bodily reflection, He expressed His feelings: ‘How wonderful it is that I have never seen such a beautiful form! Although it is My own form, still, like Rādhārāṇī, I am trying to embrace this form and enjoy celestial bliss.’ ” This statement shows how Kṛṣṇa and His shadow reflection are one and the same. There is no difference between Kṛṣṇa and His shadow reflection, nor between Kṛṣṇa and His picture. That is the transcendental position of Kṛṣṇa.
The above statements describe some of the wonderful reservoirs of pleasure within Kṛṣṇa, as well as the transcendental qualities of His personality. The transcendental qualities of Kṛṣṇa are compared to the ocean: no one can estimate the length and breadth of the ocean. But as one can understand the ocean’s contents simply by testing one drop of it, so these statements will give us some understanding of Kṛṣṇa’s transcendental position and qualities.
In the Tenth Canto, fourteenth chapter, verse 7 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Lord Brahmā says, “My dear Lord, the inconceivable qualities, beauties and activities which You have revealed by Your presence on this planet cannot be calculated by any material measurement. If one even tries to imagine, ‘Kṛṣṇa may be like this,’ that is also impossible. The day may come when the material scientist, after many, many births or after many, many years, will be able to estimate the atomic constitution of the whole world, or he may be able to count the atomic fragments that permeate the sky, or he may even give an estimate of all the atoms within the universe, but still he will never be able to count the transcendental qualities in Your reservoir of transcendental bliss.”
CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE: Kṛṣṇa’s Personality
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī states that although Lord Kṛṣṇa is the reservoir of unlimited pleasure and the greatest leader of all, He is still dependent upon His devotees in three ways. According to the emotional status of the devotee, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is appreciated in three ways: as the most perfect, as very perfect and as perfect. When He exhibits Himself in fullness, He is appreciated by great learned scholars as most perfect. When He exhibits Himself in lesser degrees, He is called very perfect. And when He exhibits still less, He is called perfect. This means that Kṛṣṇa is appreciated for three degrees of perfection. These three degrees of perfection are especially exhibited as follows: when He is in Goloka Vṛndāvana His transcendental qualities are exhibited as most perfect, when He is in Dvārakā He exhibits His qualities as very perfect, and when He is in Mathurā He exhibits His qualities as perfect.
Kṛṣṇa’s personality is analyzed as dhīrodātta, dhīra-lalita, dhīra-praśānta and dhīroddhata. If one asks how a personality can be beheld in four quite opposing ways, the answer is that the Lord is the reservoir of all transcendental qualities and activities. Therefore, His different aspects can be analyzed according to the exhibition of His limitless variety of pastimes, and as such there is no contradiction.
A dhīrodātta is a person who is naturally very grave, gentle, forgiving, merciful, determined, humble, highly qualified, chivalrous and physically attractive.
In this connection, the following statement given by Indra, the king of heaven, is very significant: “My dear Lord, I admit that I have committed great offenses unto You, but I cannot express my feelings of regret, being bewildered at seeing Your extraordinary chivalrous spirit, Your endeavor to protect Your devotees, Your determination, Your steadiness in lifting the great hill of Govardhana, Your beautiful bodily features and Your astonishing characteristic of being pleased simply by accepting the prayers of Your devotees and offenders.”
The above statement by the king of heaven is an exact corroboration of Kṛṣṇa’s being dhīrodātta. Many learned scholars have agreed to also accept Lord Rāmacandra as dhīrodātta, but all of Lord Rāmacandra’s qualities are also included in the character of Lord Kṛṣṇa.
A person is called dhīra-lalita if he is naturally very funny, always in full youthfulness, expert in joking and free from all anxieties. Such a dhīra-lalita personality is generally found to be domesticated and very submissive to his lover. This dhīra-lalita trait in the personality of Kṛṣṇa is described by Yajña-patnī, the wife of one of the brāhmaṇas who were performing sacrifices in Vṛndāvana. She tells her friends, “One day Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, accompanied by Her associates, was taking rest in Her garden, and at that time Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa arrived in that assembly. After sitting down, He began to narrate very impudently about His previous night’s pastimes with Rādhārāṇī. While He was speaking in that way, Rādhārāṇī became very embarrassed. She was feeling ashamed and was absorbed in thought, and Kṛṣṇa took the opportunity to mark Her breasts with different kinds of tilaka. Kṛṣṇa proved Himself to be very expert in that art.” In this way Kṛṣṇa, as dhīra-lalita, was enjoying His youthful proclivities in the company of the gopīs.
Generally, those who are expert in writing drama choose to call Cupid the ideal dhīra-lalita, but we can more perfectly find in the personality of Kṛṣṇa all the characteristics of dhīra-lalita.
A person who is very peaceful, forbearing, considerate and obliging is called dhīra-praśānta. This dhīra-praśānta trait of Kṛṣṇa was exhibited in His dealings with the Pāṇḍavas. On account of the Pāṇḍavas’ faithful devotion to the Lord, He agreed to become their charioteer, their advisor, their friend, their messenger and sometimes their bodyguard. Such is an example of the result of devotional service toward Viṣṇu. When Kṛṣṇa was speaking to Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira about religious principles, He demonstrated Himself to be a great learned scholar, but because He accepted the position of younger cousin to Yudhiṣṭhira, He was speaking in a very gentle tone, which enhanced His beautiful bodily features. The movements of His eyes and the mode of His speech proved that He was very, very expert in giving moral instruction. Sometimes, Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira is also accepted by learned scholars as dhīra-praśānta.
A person who is very envious, proud, easily angered, restless and complacent is called dhīroddhata by learned scholars. Such qualities were visible in the character of Lord Kṛṣṇa, because when He was writing a letter to Kālayavana, Kṛṣṇa addressed him as a sinful frog. In His letter Kṛṣṇa advised Kālayavana that he should immediately go and find some dark well for his residence because there was a black snake named Kṛṣṇa who was very eager to devour all such sinful frogs. Kṛṣṇa reminded Kālayavana that He could turn all the universes to ashes simply by looking at them.
The above statement by Kṛṣṇa seems apparently to be of an envious nature, but according to different pastimes, places and times this quality is accepted as a great characteristic. Kṛṣṇa’s dhīroddhata qualities have been accepted as great because Kṛṣṇa uses them only to protect His devotees. In other words, even undesirable traits may also be used in the exchange of devotional service.
Sometimes Bhīma, the second brother of the Pāṇḍavas, is also described as dhīroddhata.
Once, while fighting with a demon who was appearing as a deer, Kṛṣṇa challenged him in this way: “I have come before you as a great elephant named Kṛṣṇa. You must leave the battlefield, accepting defeat, or else there is death awaiting you.” This challenging spirit of Kṛṣṇa’s is not contradictory to His sublime character; because He is the Supreme Being, everything is possible in His character.
There is a nice statement in the Kūrma Purāṇa about these contradictory traits of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is stated there that the Supreme Person is neither very fat nor very thin; He is always transcendental to material qualities, and yet His bodily luster is blackish. His eyes are reddish, He is all-powerful, and He is equipped with all different kinds of opulences. Contradictory traits in Kṛṣṇa’s person are not at all surprising; one should not consider the characteristics of Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, to be actually contradictory. One should try to understand the traits of Kṛṣṇa from authorities and try to understand how these characteristics are employed by the supreme will of the Lord.
In the Mahā-varāha Purāṇa it is confirmed that the transcendental bodies of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His expansions are all existing eternally. Such bodies are never material; they are completely spiritual and full of knowledge. They are reservoirs of all transcendental qualities. In the Viṣṇu-yāmala-tantra there is a statement that because the Personality of Godhead and His expanded bodies are always full of knowledge, bliss and eternity, they are always free from the eighteen kinds of material contaminations – illusion, fatigue, errors, roughness, material lust, restlessness, pride, envy, violence, disgrace, exhaustion, untruth, anger, hankering, dependence, desire to lord over the universe, seeing duality and cheating.
Regarding all of the above-mentioned statements, it is understood that the Mahā-viṣṇu is the source of all incarnations in the material world. But because of His greater, extraordinary opulence, we can understand that the son of Nanda Mahārāja is the source of the Mahā-viṣṇu also. This is confirmed in the Brahma-saṁhitā, wherein it is stated, “Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto Govinda, whose partial representation is the Mahā-viṣṇu.” The gigantic form of the Mahā-viṣṇu is the source of generation for innumerable universes. Innumerable universes are coming out of His exhaling breath, and the same universes are going back in with His inhaling breath. This Mahā-viṣṇu is also a plenary portion of a portion of Kṛṣṇa.
CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR: Further Traits of Śrī Kṛṣṇa
After describing the different opulences of Kṛṣṇa, Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī tries to further describe the transcendental beauties and qualities of the Lord as decorated, enjoying, pleasing, dependable, steady and predominating. He is also described as a meticulous dresser and a magnanimous personality. These are generally considered to be the qualities of great personalities.
It is said that a person is great if he is decorated with the qualities of being very merciful toward the unfortunate, very powerful, superior, chivalrous, enthusiastic, expert and truthful. These decorations were manifested in the character of Kṛṣṇa during His govardhana-līlā. At that time the whole tract of land in Vṛndāvana was being disturbed by the rains sent by Indra, as described elsewhere. At first Kṛṣṇa thought, “Let Me retaliate against this vengeance of Indra by destroying his heavenly kingdom,” but later on, when He thought of the insignificance of the king of heaven, Kṛṣṇa changed His mind and felt merciful toward Indra. No one is able to tolerate the wrath of Kṛṣṇa, so instead of retaliating against Indra, He simply showed His compassion for His friends in Vṛndāvana by lifting the whole of Govardhana Hill to protect them.
When a person is seen to be always happy and is accustomed to speak smilingly, he is considered to be in the mode of enjoyment. This trait was found in Kṛṣṇa when He appeared at the sacrificial arena of King Kaṁsa. It is described that the lotus-eyed Kṛṣṇa entered among the wrestlers without being impolite to them, glanced over them with determination and seemed to them just like an elephant attacking some plants. Even while speaking to them Kṛṣṇa was still smiling, and in this way He stood valiantly upon the wrestling dais.
When one’s characteristics are very sweet and desirable, his personality is called pleasing. An example of Kṛṣṇa’s pleasing nature is thus described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam: “One day while Kṛṣṇa was awaiting the arrival of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī by the bank of the Yamunā, He began to make a garland of kadamba flowers. In the meantime, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī appeared there, and at that time Murāri [Kṛṣṇa], the enemy of Mura, glanced over Rādhārāṇī very sweetly.”
Any person who is reliable in all circumstances is called dependable. In this connection Rūpa Gosvāmī says that even the demons were relying upon the dependability of Kṛṣṇa because they were confident that Kṛṣṇa would never attack them without due cause. Therefore, with faith and confidence, they used to live with their doors wide open. And the demigods, although afraid of the demons, were confident of the protection of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, even in the midst of danger they were engaged in sportive activities. Persons who had never undergone the reformatory ritualistic ceremonies of the Vedas were confident that Kṛṣṇa would accept only faith and devotion, and so they were engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and were freed from all anxieties. In other words, all kinds of men, from the demigods down to the uncultured, can rely on the causeless mercy of the Supreme Lord.
A person who is not disturbed even in a situation of reverses is called steady. This steadiness was observed in Kṛṣṇa in connection with His chastising the demon known as Bāṇa. The Bāṇa demon had many hands, and Kṛṣṇa was cutting off these hands one after another. This Bāṇa was a great devotee of Lord Śiva and the goddess Durgā. Thus, when Bāṇa was being chastised, Lord Śiva and Durgā became very furious at Kṛṣṇa. But Kṛṣṇa did not care for them.
A person who can affect the mind of everyone is called predominating. As far as Kṛṣṇa’s predomination is concerned, in the Tenth Canto, forty-third chapter, verse 17 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Kṛṣṇa is described thus by Śukadeva Gosvāmī to King Parīkṣit: “My dear King, Kṛṣṇa is a thunderbolt to the wrestlers; to the common man He is the most beautiful human being; to the young girls He is just like Cupid; to the cowherd men and women He is the most intimate relative; to the impious kings He is the supreme ruler; to His parents, Nanda and Yaśodā, He is just a baby; to Kaṁsa, the king of Bhoja, He is death personified; to the dull and stupid He is just like a stone; to the yogīs He is the Supreme Absolute Truth; and to the Vṛṣṇis He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In such a predominating position, Kṛṣṇa appeared in that arena along with His older brother, Balarāma.” When Kṛṣṇa, the reservoir of all mellows, was present in the arena of Kaṁsa, He appeared differently to the different persons who were related to Him in different mellows. It is stated in Bhagavad-gītā that He appears to every person according to one’s relationship with Him.
Sometimes learned scholars describe “predominating” to mean a person intolerant of being neglected. This peculiarity in Kṛṣṇa was visible when Kaṁsa was insulting Mahārāja Nanda. Vasudeva was asking Kṛṣṇa’s assistance in killing Kaṁsa, and Kṛṣṇa was glancing over Kaṁsa with longing eyes, just like a prostitute, and was just preparing to jump at the king.
A person who is very fond of dressing himself is called lalita, or a meticulous dresser. This characteristic was found in Kṛṣṇa in two ways: sometimes He used to decorate Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī with various marks, and sometimes, when He was preparing to kill demons like Ariṣṭāsura, He would take care to arrange His belt very nicely.
Persons who can give themselves to anyone are called magnanimous. No one could be more magnanimous than Kṛṣṇa because He is always prepared to give Himself completely to His devotee. Even to one who is not a devotee, Kṛṣṇa in His form of Lord Caitanya is prepared to give Himself and to grant deliverance.
Although Kṛṣṇa is independent of everyone, out of His causeless mercy He is dependent upon Garga Ṛṣi for religious instruction; for learning the military art He is dependent upon Sātyaki; and for good counsel He is dependent upon His friend Uddhava.
CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE: Devotees of Kṛṣṇa
A person who is always absorbed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is called a devotee of Kṛṣṇa. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī says that all the transcendental qualities discussed previously are also found in the devotees of Kṛṣṇa. The devotees of Kṛṣṇa can be classified into two groups: those who are cultivating devotional service in order to enter into the transcendental kingdom and those who are already in the perfectional stage of devotional service.
A person who has attained the stage of attraction for Kṛṣṇa and who is not freed from the material impasse, but who has qualified himself to enter into the kingdom of God, is called a sādhaka. Sādhaka means one who is cultivating devotion in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The description of such a devotee is found in the Eleventh Canto, second chapter, verse 46 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. It is said there that a person who has unflinching faith in and love for the Personality of Godhead, who is in friendship with devotees of Kṛṣṇa, and who is very merciful to the ignorant, raising them to the standard of devotional service, and who is uninterested in nondevotees, is considered to be situated in the position of cultivating devotional service.
When one is found shedding tears by hearing of the pastimes of the Lord, it is to be understood that the blazing fire of material existence will be extinguished by such watering. When there is shivering of the body and the hairs of the body stand up, it is to be understood that the devotee is nearing perfection. An example of a sādhaka cultivating devotional service is Bilvamaṅgala Ṭhākura.
When a devotee is never tired of executing devotional service and is always engaged in Kṛṣṇa conscious activities, constantly relishing the transcendental mellows in relationship with Kṛṣṇa, he is called perfect. This perfectional stage can be achieved in two ways: one may achieve this stage of perfection by gradual progress in devotional service, or one may become perfect by the causeless mercy of Kṛṣṇa, even though he has not executed all the details of devotional service.
There is the following nice statement in the Third Canto, fifteenth chapter, verse 25 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, describing a devotee who achieves perfection by regularly executing devotional service: A person who is freed from the false egotism of material existence, or an advanced mystic, is eligible to enter into the kingdom of God, known as Vaikuṇṭha. Such a mystic becomes so joyful by constant execution of the regulative principles of devotional service that he thereby achieves the special favor of the Supreme Lord. Yamarāja, the mighty superintendent of death, is afraid to go near such a devotee; so we can imagine the potency of advanced devotional service, especially when devotees sit together and engage in talking of the pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Those devotees express their feelings in such a way that they automatically melt with ecstasy, and many transcendental symptoms become manifested in their bodies. Anyone desiring advancement in devotional service must follow in the footsteps of such devotees.
Prahlāda Mahārāja said that no one can attain the perfectional stage of devotional service without bowing down before exalted devotees. Learned sages like Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi attained perfection in devotional service simply by executing such regulative principles of service.
A person’s achieving perfection in devotional service simply by the causeless mercy of the Lord is explained in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam in connection with the brāhmaṇas and their wives who were engaged in performing yajña, or sacrifice. When the wives of the brāhmaṇas were favored by Lord Kṛṣṇa and immediately attained the ecstasy of love of Godhead, their husbands said, “How wonderful it is that although these women have undertaken no reformatory performances such as accepting the sacred thread, have not resided in the monasteries of the spiritual master, have not observed the strict principles of celibacy, have not undergone any austerities and have not philosophized upon the observance of ritualistic ceremonies, they still have attained the favor of Kṛṣṇa, which is aspired after even by great mystics! How wonderful it is that these women have attained such perfection, while we, although brāhmaṇas who have performed all the reformatory activities, cannot attain to this advanced stage!”
There is a similar statement by Nārada, addressed to Śukadeva Gosvāmī: “My dear Śukadeva Gosvāmī, you never took the trouble to reside under the care of a spiritual master, and yet you have attained such a great status of transcendental knowledge. You never took the trouble to undergo severe austerities, and still, how wonderful it is that you have been situated in the most perfect stage of love of Godhead.”
Śukadeva Gosvāmī and the wives of the brāhmaṇas performing yajña are vivid examples of devotees who achieved the perfectional stage of devotional service by the grace of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Persons who have achieved eternal, blissful life exactly on the level of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and who are able to attract Lord Kṛṣṇa by their transcendental loving service, are called eternally perfect. The technical name is nitya-siddha. There are two classes of living entities – namely, nitya-siddha and nitya-baddha. The distinction is that the nitya-siddhas are eternally Kṛṣṇa conscious without any forgetfulness, whereas the nitya-baddhas, or eternally conditioned souls, are forgetful of their relationship with Kṛṣṇa.
The position of the nitya-siddhas is explained in the Padma Purāṇa in connection with the narration of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and Satyabhāmā-devī. The Lord tells Satyabhāmā, “My dear Satyabhāmā-devī, I have descended to this earthly planet by the request of Lord Brahmā and other demigods. Those who are born into this family of Yadu are all My eternal associates. My dear wife, you should not consider that My associates are ever separated from Me; they are My personal expansions, and as such, you must know that they are almost as powerful as I am. Because of their transcendental qualities, they are very, very dear to Me, as I am very, very dear to them.” Anyone who becomes exhilarated by hearing of the pastimes of Lord Kṛṣṇa when He was present on this earth with His associates is to be understood as nitya-siddha, eternally perfect.
In the Tenth Canto, fourteenth chapter, verse 32 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam there is this statement: “How wonderful are the fortunate residents of Vṛndāvana, such as Nanda and the other cowherd men. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Supreme Brahman, has actually become their intimate friend!”
A similar statement is there in the Tenth Canto, twenty-sixth chapter, verse 10 of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. When Lord Kṛṣṇa lifted Govardhana Hill, the cowherd men, under the protection of Lord Kṛṣṇa, became struck with wonder and went to Nanda Mahārāja and inquired from him, “My dear Nanda Mahārāja, how is it that we are so intensely attached to Kṛṣṇa and that Kṛṣṇa is also so affectionately attached to us? Does it mean that He is the Supersoul of everyone?”
All of the residents of Vṛndāvana and Dvārakā – namely, the cowherd men and the members of the Yadu family – are eternally perfect devotees of the Lord. As the Lord descends by His causeless mercy upon this planet, so, in order to help in the pastimes of the Lord, these devotees also come here. They are not ordinary living entities or conditioned souls; they are ever-liberated persons, associates of the Personality of Godhead. And just as Lord Kṛṣṇa behaves like an ordinary man when He descends to this planet, so the members of the Yadu dynasty and the residents of Vṛndāvana execute activities just like ordinary men. But they are not ordinary men; they are as liberated as Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself.
In the Padma Purāṇa, Uttara-khaṇḍa section, it is stated, “Just as Lord Rāmacandra descends along with Lakṣmaṇa [an expansion of Saṅkarṣaṇa] and Bharata [an expansion of Pradyumna], so the members of the Yadu dynasty and the cowherd men of Vṛndāvana also descend with Lord Kṛṣṇa in order to join in the transcendental pastimes of the Lord. When the Supreme Lord returns to His eternal abode, His associates return with Him to their respective places. As such, these ever-liberated Vaiṣṇavas are not bound by the material laws of birth and death.”
As stated in Bhagavad-gītā by the Lord Himself, His birth, deeds and activities are all transcendental. Similarly, the birth, deeds and activities of the associates of the Lord are also transcendental. And as it is an offense to consider oneself to be Kṛṣṇa, so it is offensive to consider oneself to be Yaśodā, Nanda or any other associate of the Lord. We should always remember that they are transcendental; they are never conditioned souls.
It is described that Kṛṣṇa, the enemy of Kaṁsa, has sixty-four transcendental qualities, and all of the ever-liberated souls who accompany the Lord have the first fifty-five of the qualities, without any doubt. Such devotees are related to the Supreme Personality of Godhead in any of five transcendental mellows – namely, neutrality, servitorship, friendship, parenthood and conjugal love. These relationships with the Lord are eternal, and therefore nitya-siddha devotees do not have to strive to attain the perfectional stage by executing regulative devotional principles. They are eternally qualified to serve Kṛṣṇa.
CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX: Stimulation for Ecstatic Love
Some things that give impetus or stimulation to ecstatic love of Kṛṣṇa are His transcendental qualities, His uncommon activities, His smiling features, His apparel and garlands, His flute, His buffalo horn, His leg bells, His conch shell, His footprints, His places of pastimes (such as Vṛndāvana), His favorite plant (tulasī), His devotee and the periodical occasions for remembering Him. One such occasion for remembrance is Ekādaśī, which comes twice a month on the eleventh day of the moon, both waning and waxing. On that day all the devotees remain fasting throughout the night and continuously chant the glories of the Lord.
KṚṢṆA’S TRANSCENDENTAL QUALITIES, HIS UNCOMMON ACTIVITIES AND HIS SMILE
As far as Kṛṣṇa’s transcendental qualities are concerned, they can be divided into three groups: qualities pertaining to His transcendental body, qualities pertaining to His transcendental speech and qualities pertaining to His transcendental mind.
Kṛṣṇa’s age, His transcendental bodily features, His beauty and His mildness are qualities pertaining to His body. There is no difference between Kṛṣṇa and His body, and therefore the transcendental features pertaining to His body are the same as Kṛṣṇa Himself. But because these qualities stimulate the devotee’s ecstatic love, they have been analyzed as separate causes of that love. To be attracted by the qualities of Kṛṣṇa means to be attracted by Kṛṣṇa Himself, because there is no real distinction between Kṛṣṇa and His qualities. Kṛṣṇa’s name is also Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa’s fame is also Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa’s entourage is also Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa and everything related with Kṛṣṇa that gives stimulation to love of Kṛṣṇa are all Kṛṣṇa, but for our understanding these items may be considered separately.
Kṛṣṇa is the reservoir of all transcendental pleasure. Therefore, the impetuses to love of Kṛṣṇa, although seemingly different, are not actually distinct from Kṛṣṇa Himself. In the technical Sanskrit terms, such qualities as Kṛṣṇa’s name and fame are accepted both as reservoirs of and as stimulation for love of Kṛṣṇa.
Kṛṣṇa’s age is considered in three periods: from His appearance day to the end of His fifth year is called kaumāra, from the beginning of the sixth year up to the end of the tenth year is called paugaṇḍa, and from the eleventh to the end of the fifteenth year is called kaiśora. After the beginning of the sixteenth year, Kṛṣṇa is called a yauvana, or a youth, and this continues with no change.
As far as Kṛṣṇa’s transcendental pastimes are concerned, they are mostly executed during the kaumāra, paugaṇḍa and kaiśora periods. His affectionate pastimes with His parents are executed during His kaumāra age. His friendship with the cowherd boys is exhibited during the paugaṇḍa period. And His friendship with the gopīs is exhibited during the age of kaiśora. Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes in Vṛndāvana are finished by the end of His fifteenth year, and then He is transferred to Mathurā and Dvārakā, where all other pastimes are performed.
Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī gives us a vivid description of Kṛṣṇa as the reservoir of all pleasure in his Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu. Here are some parts of that description.
Kṛṣṇa’s kaiśora age may be divided into three parts. In the beginning of His kaiśora age – that is, at the beginning of His eleventh year – the luster of His body becomes so bright that it becomes an impetus for ecstatic love. Similarly, there are reddish borders around His eyes and a growth of soft hairs on His body. In describing this early stage of His kaiśora age, Kundalatā, one of the residents of Vṛndāvana, said to her friend, “My dear friend, I have just seen an extraordinary beauty appearing in the person of Kṛṣṇa. His blackish bodily hue appears just like the indranīla jewel. There are reddish signs on His eyes, and small soft hairs are coming out on His body. The appearance of these symptoms has made Him extraordinarily beautiful.”
In this connection, in th