Hari-katha by Paramadhyatama Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, spoken on 13 June 1996, in Houston.
[The following transcription is a translation of Srila Gurudeva’s class in Hindi]
Srila Gurudeva: Yesterday, we started speaking on the Srimad Bhagavatam. I told you that in Vrndavana, Sukadeva Gosvami was Srimati Radhika’s parrot. I also spoke on the history of how he manifested himself as Sukadeva Gosvami in this world. When he ran from his home, his father Vyasadeva cried out, “Oh my son! Oh my son!” and ran behind his son. But, Sukadeva Gosvami did not answer to his father’s cries. Only the trees echoed in return. They said, “Why are you saying, ‘Oh my son?’ Who is one’s son and who is one’s father?” Sukadeva Gosvami then entered the forest. Inside the forest there was a pond that had crystal clear water and had many lotus flowers blooming on its surface. The pond and its surrounding area were very beautiful to behold. Inside this pond, some women were bathing. They had left the clothes on the banks of the pond and were bathing naked inside the pond.
When Sukadeva Gosvamiji went past this pond, he didn’t even look at the pond or the bathing women. As he went ahead, the women continued bathing and joking with each other. After some time, Vyasadeva came to the same spot while searching for his son. His hair and beard had turned white. He was hundreds of years old. When he reached the banks of the pond, the women quickly left the pond and wore their clothes. And they offered their obeisances to Vyasadeva.
Vyasadeva asked them, “My dear daughters, can I ask a question? My son who was a sixteen year old youth walked past you all and all of you didn’t feel shy. You continued bathing and talking with each other. All of you are like my little daughters. I am like your great-great-grandfather, so why did you feel shy when you saw me?”
The women answered, “Although your son walked past us, he didn’t look at us and neither did he speak with us. So why are you speaking with us? Your son considered us to be like a dry piece of wood. Therefore, we did not feel shy in front of him although we were naked. Whether we were naked or not, it didn’t make a difference for your son. We never felt shy in front of him. But since you ask, you differentiate between a man and a woman. Your son never sees a man and a woman as being different. Being totally absorbed in Bhagavat-bhajan, he doesn’t know who a man and woman are in this samsara.”
Thus, Sukadeva Gosvamiji reached the assembly of Pariksit Maharaja. I will explain his character a little more. In some places it is written that Vyasadeva sent Sukadeva Gosvami to Janakapuri in the Mithila province to have his son enlighten himself further. He would receive able instructions from Maharaja Janaka. When he went there, he was stopped for seven days at the first gate of the palace. No one inquired from him. The guards just told him, “Don’t enter inside.” He was there for seven days. If we were there, then feeling humiliated, we would have left. After seven days, the guards were told to let him enter inside and Sukadeva Gosvami entered another gate. When he came in front of the second gate, he saw many beautiful ladies who had hand-held whisks, fans, water, and other paraphernalia. Thus, they stood in line to welcome him. But, Sukadeva Gosvami was completely undisturbed. He had no need of anything. The ladies could not attract him.
After this, Maharaja Janaka went to his wife and said, “Sukadeva Gosvamiji is coming. Decorate yourself very beautifully from your head to toe.”
Who is called Sunaina? Sunaina means she who has very beautiful eyes. She was very beautiful; after all she was the mother of Sitaji. As well as being beautiful, she also had many wonderful qualities. Sunaina Devi was a nitya-kisori, an eternal young lady. Her husband told her, “Decorate yourself and sit on my throne.” As told by her husband, Sunaina decorated herself very beautifully and waited for Sukadeva Gosvami. When Sukadeva Gosvami came, then Narada Rsi and he were told to sit on the same throne. While Narada Rsi sat on one side, Sukadeva Gosvami sat on another side. Meanwhile, Sunainaji came and sat in between both of them. When she sat, Naradaji did pranama to Sunainaji and addressing her, said, “O my mother, I offer my pranama to you.” He then got up and sat on the floor. But, Sukadevaji sat on the throne as if nothing had happened. Sunaina’s presence had no influence on him; he was completely unaffected. He did not notice if any beautiful lady was sitting next to him. Her presence made no difference to him. He was an atmarama-yogi. He did not care for samsara’s beauty and illusion. His consciousness was only fixed on his Prabhu. He always remembers Krsna’s pastimes. His consciousness is never turned towards the men and women of this samsara. He has no interest in the affairs of this world and in the love shared between the men and women of this world. He is always content in only remembering the pastimes of Krsna.
Thus, Sukadeva Gosvami was one such maha-yogi and rasik-bhagavat-bhakta. He was liberated from samsara and this liberated personality reached the assembly of Pariksit Maharaja. Seeing Sukadeva Gosvamiji, everyone in the assembly stood up. His father Vyasaji was also present in the assembly. His guru’s guru, Naradaji was also present. Kapila, Kavi, Havi, Antariksa, Pippalayana, Gautama, Kasyapa, and all the exalted sages and saints of Bharata-varsa were sitting in that assembly. As soon as Sukadeva Gosvami entered the assembly, everyone stood and requested him to sit on the Vyasa-gaddhi, an elevated seat meant for the representative of Vyasa. He was naked and on the way to the assembly, some women threw dust on him and laughed among themselves. Children threw stones on him and teased him. They thought he was mad. Seeing everyone in the assembly respect Sukadeva Gosvami, these women and children got scared and ran away. Sukadeva Gosvami then sat in between all the respected members of the assembly.
Pariksit Maharaja asked Sukadeva Gosvami, “What is the duty of a person who is going to die immediately? He is going to leave his body at any moment. And, what is the duty of those who are going to die today, tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow? They may live to see a few more days, months, or years, but they will surely die. What is their duty? These are my two questions.”
One who has taken birth in samsara will definitely die. Whether Bhagavan’s existence is true or not is another consideration; but what is the distinctive truth in this samsara? It is dying and living. We will have to surely die. And there is no such living entity that is not sad and that will not become old. No living entity is free from anguish, pain, and disease. I think that the Mataji who is sitting here is eighty years old. She cannot walk on her own. She has no shortage of food in her house. Her son is a very big doctor. There is no shortage of money, or other necessities in her house. But, she has back pain and sometimes she has pain in her head, and is unable to sit or sleep regularly. She cannot see properly. She cannot walk on her own. After some days, a person’s condition worsens. He will not be able to go the toilet and pass on his own. Remember this. It is the immutable truth that this world is a place of sorrow. You should try to understand this. Therefore, these were Pariksit Maharaja’s two questions:
- “What is the duty of a person who is dying now?”
- “What is the duty of a person who is going to die tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, or after some time?”
We don’t think about this. But, we should think about this. “Who am I? Where have I come from? Can anyone tell me where I have come from?” We think, “I am this body.” But we are not the body. I will explain this much evidence. After having been told the two questions, Sukadeva Gosvami gave the following answer.
sa vai pumsam paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhoksaje
—Srimad Bhagavatham 1.2
Not only the humans; all the entities that have life—insects, birds, human beings, gandharvas, demigods; it is imperative for the soul that is in any form of life to engage in the bhajan of Bhagavan. Who is Bhagavan? He creates, sustains, and destroys. He has the six transcendental qualities to the extreme form. There is no one who is stronger, and more knowledgeable than Bhagavan. His beauty and renunciation is incomparable. Aisvaryasya samagrasya—He is the possessor of inconceivable wealth. And, His fame is unequalled. He is such a powerful personality that Yama cannot go near Him. Just by hearing His name, Yama runs away and death is stopped. He is the most beautiful personality. There is no such quality of the creation that doesn’t exist in Him. His knowledge is topmost. Knowledge finds its summit in Him. And, He has renunciation. These are the six qualities that exist in Bhagavan. “Bhaga,” means guna, qualities; and “van,” means the possessor of these qualities.
Just by His desire, He lifted Giriraja-Govardhana on His little finger. Krsna expanded into millions of forms and danced with millions of gopis. At the same time, He can expand into innumerable forms. Rama, Nrsimha, Vamana, and other forms are His expansions. Bha can also mean He who nourishes this creation and all its residents. Ga means, He manages the entire creation. How does He manage the creation? In the ocean, the waves never stop appearing. They appear at the correct time. The sun and moon appear at the correct time. The day and night appear one after another just as the different seasons also appear one after another. Who controls all this? Some mothers give birth to a son while some mothers give birth to a daughter; who controls this? Who gives us the fruits of our karma? He does. Therefore, “Ga,” means He who manages the entire creation. And, “Va,” means He, who resides in the hearts of all beings and in who all beings reside. Hence, we can never be Bhagavan or Brahma. All the life forms are not in us and neither are we present in all life forms. We don’t have all the qualities like Bhagavan. We are foolish; we think of something, but do something else. Our eyes cannot see themselves. They cannot see what is behind us. It is not certain if we will live to see tomorrow.
Therefore, we are ignorant; Bhagavan is the embodiment of knowledge—He is satyam-jnanam-anantam-brahma. Hence, that personality in whom these qualities are found is Bhagavan. That person who has bhakti for Bhagavan will pray, “Hey Bhagavan, I am Yours!” If someone is of this mentality and worships Bhagavan, then Bhagavan listens to His prayers. If your husband is sitting far away from you and if he doesn’t have a phone, then he will not be able to listen to your calls. He will not come. Even if he listens to your cries, what can he do? If you are dying, can your husband save you? Neither can your brother or a doctor save you. No one can save you. But, Krsna is in your heart; there is no such thing in which Krsna is not present. He is present in every atom of this creation. He is present in all animals. There is no such thing, conscious or unconscious, in which He is not present. This Prabhu should be worshiped. Worshiping Krsna is not difficult. It is very easy. It is not difficult to please your mother. Why? If you go and sit on her lap and say, “O mother,” then your mother will become pleased. So, to please Krsna is not a difficult task.
Although we cannot realize Krsna by our body, senses, mind, intelligence, and consciousness; even so, He reciprocates with our loving devotion. So, engage in ahaituki bhakti to Him. What is ahaituki bhakti? It is causeless bhakti. Offering flowers to Him, don’t say, “Prabhu, I have offered You flowers and I pray that You can arrange for a building that has 150 floors. My business should improve. May my children pass their exams.” Don’t desire for anything. All these desires will deceive you. Bhagavan will give you something that you cannot imagine. Therefore, engage in His causeless devotion. Don’t engage yourself in giving and receiving—don’t become a businessman with the Lord.
Don’t think, “Now that I have chanted Bhagavan’s names, may He give what I desire.”
Serve Him with causeless devotion. How? Just as without any cause, the rivers meet the ocean. There is no cause for them to meet. Without any cause or without any mood of selfishness, water gives life to everyone. The sun gives its heat and light to everyone. Even if one abuses the sun and someone doesn’t believe in its existence; yet, the sun will give its heat and light to everyone. He has love for everyone without any cause. Therefore, the soul is Krsna’s servant. Hence, we will absorb ourselves in His bhakti causelessly. This is the dharma of all the souls. How will this happen? It will happen by prema. If there is no prema, then Bhagavan will not be pleased by thousands of practices. He has no need of anything. Because of Vidurani’s prema, He ate the banana peels offered by her. He also ate the fruits of Sabari. Was He in need of any fruits? No. If there is prema, then everything is there.
How is this prema achieved? Firstly, there is the stage of sadhana-bhakti. Then, there is bhava-bhakti. And this bhava-bhakti culminates into prema-bhakti. For instance, there is an unripe mango and a ripe mango, but they are all mangoes.
janayaty asu vairagyam
jnanam ca yad ahaitukam
—Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.7
If there is bhakti to Krsna; but what form of bhakti? The person will listen to Krsna’s pastimes; he will listen to His names and also chant them. By associating with the sadhus, he will listen to Krsna’s pastimes and he will be absorbed in remembering them. He will go to the places where Krsna’s pastimes manifested like Vrndavana-dhama, Navadvipa-dhama, and Puri-dhama. He will smear the dust of those holy places on his head. He will engage in the arcana of Krsna. If there is nothing, then he will take a photo of Krsna and worship Him. He will offer flowers, sandalwood-paste, and incense to the photo. Krsna understands the devotion of His devotee and accepts his services. This is called bhakti. By engaging in bhakti, we will soon realize that this bhakti has transformed into prema. And He is realized and seen by this prema. At that time, you will automatically develop renunciation towards this world. As a fruit of your devotion, you will understand who Krsna is, who the jiva is, what maya is, what happiness and distress are, and you will realize where you will go after you leave this body. Brahma-jnanis call Krsna as “Brahma,” while yogis call Him “Paramatma.” And, the bhaktas call Him “Bhagavan.” These three features are not different; they are one tattva.
tasmad ekena manasa bhagavan
—Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.14
labdhva su-durlabham idam bahu-sambhavante
manushyam artha-dam anityam apiha dhirah
turnam yateta na pated anu-mrityu yavan
nihsreyasaya vishayah khalu sarvatah syat
—Srimad Bhagavatam 11.9.29
Sukadeva Gosvami told Pariksit Maharaja, “You are going to die in seven days. If a man is going to die immediately, yet if he can utter something, then he should be told to chant Krsna’s name.”
The dying person must be told to utter, “Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.” Even if he does not have so much time, then he should be told to chant, “Krsna or Rama.” He can chant any of these two names. Thus, he will cross over this insurmountable ocean of birth and death; this is guaranteed. Don’t have any doubt in this. He will definitely cross over this bhava-sagara. Why? You may want to buy a cow, but if you doubt and think, “Does this cow give any milk?” then you will not buy the cow. But, you know that the cows give milk and if you buy this cow, it will also give milk after giving birth to a calf. People buy cows for this reason or else they will not buy the cows. Hence, up until this day, we see that any person, who has taken shelter of Krsna and chanted His names and has also listened to His names even while he was dying, has crossed bhava-sagara. He has transcended death. We see this in the lives of many personalities like Ajamila, Valmiki, Naradaji, Vyasa, Sukadeva Gosvami, Mirabhai, and we are seeing this even in the lives of contemporary personalities. We have seen this happen to so many devotees. That person who has chanted Krsna’s names has surely crossed over bhava-sagara. If you still have some time left before you die, then chant Krsna’s names and listen to His pastimes. Why? By listening to His pastimes, Krsna will enter your heart.
Before thirty or forty years, there were no computers. Before a hundred years, no one had conceived of flying in an airplane. Even communication was not developed. But our sastras state how the bygone ages were so advanced. Ramaji had a flower airplane. Along with the Lord, millions of monkeys and the entire army came with Him in the airplane from Lanka to Ayodhya. Presently, the airplane can accommodate about three hundred people. But with Lord Rama, millions of soldiers came with Him. And how did this plane fly? The present airplanes fly with the aid of computer systems. But, the airplanes of the previous ages flew according to the desire of the mind. If the computer fails, then the airplane will crash and everyone will die. But there was no question of these planes ever failing. By the desire of Rama, the plane was meant to fly to Ayodhya, and it did. How many people could this airplane accommodate? It could seat as many as possible. These planes also had every facility. If it was hot, then it would become cool. And if it was cold, the plane would become warm. There was no need of any machine. Such “machines,” were present in Bharata-varsa.
Lakhs of soldiers had been killed in the war, but by the glance of Sukracarya, they were rejuvenated and stood to fight again. Many of Ramacandraji’s monkey soldiers had died in the war and when Ramacandraji saw them, the monkey soldiers and the bear soldiers were brought to life while the demons remained dead. How astonishing this is! These forms of knowledge were present in the previous ages. They are present in Krsna’s name and in His bhakti. If the scientists can invent something more advanced than the computers, then why didn’t they try determining what is jiva-tattva? But they could not do anything up until now. I hope by Krsna’s mercy, they are inspired to know all these truths. What is prema? How can prema be awakened in one’s heart? People should learn the answers to these questions. The answers to these questions were present in our Bharata-varsa and they are even present now. Even to this day there are devotees in whose hearts pure devotion is present and who have the essence of all forms of knowledge.
Therefore, what does Krsna do? He enters the hearts of those who listen to His pastimes. A man may think, “This is mere speculation.” No, this is spoken from one’s realization. Practice a little and see for yourself. Try for ten days and try to realize if your heart is melting in devotion or not. Even if you are very cruel-hearted; yet, if you stop eating meat, fish, onion, garlic, and stop drinking alcohol, and in that state sit down and chant an hour a day for ten days—then you will see for yourself that you have changed and are eager to listen to Krsna’s pastimes. You will soon have prema awakened in your heart. Then, when a person listens to Krsna’s pastimes or His names, tears will flow from his eyes. Examine this yourself. This will definitely happen. Therefore, it is said that Krsna enters a person’s heart by the medium of His pastimes and cleans the heart of all its impurities. What are these impurities? They are lust, anger, pride, illusion, envy, greed, feelings of violence towards others, complaining against someone without any cause, criticizing someone, fostering feelings of enmity towards someone—these are some of the impurities. You saw for yourself that this world is always prone to war. Some years before, a World War happened. Now, all the countries fear from each other.
They think, “What if this country becomes bigger than ours?”
Therefore, fear is always present in this world. Krsna makes all these fears and other unwanted things go far away. And, He will make you realize who He is. He will make you realize who the atma is and why he is undergoing suffering. All this will happen by listening to hari-katha. Sadhu-sanga is the best benediction. Sadhu-sanga is not obtained by associating with those who speak the Bhagavatam and do kirtan for money. True, bona fide sadhu-sanga is obtained when you associate with a sadhu who engages in bhajan himself, and who instructs others as well and cares for the greater good of the world. By listening from such a sadhu, Krsna enters the listener’s heart by the medium of hari-katha and removes all his impurities, ignorance, and darkness. Then what does He do? He sits in that heart.
He doesn’t go from that heart; He is crooked in three places. He is crooked from His back, neck, and eyes. He casts many crooked sidelong glances. A devotee prayed, “Your Yamuna is crooked. Your waist is crooked. Your Vraja is crooked.” Everything about Krsna is crooked. If He enters your heart, then He will not go out. He will never leave a person who He has accepted. Try for yourself and see. Chant Hare Krsna Hare Krsna for five or ten days and see for yourself. If you chant in sadhu-sanga, then see the effect. We didn’t want to do the bhajan of Krsna. When we go preaching in many villages of Bengal, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh, then the parents hide their children and tell them, “Don’t go near the sadhus. They know magic. They will tell you about Krsna and you will be attracted to them. You will then leave us and go with the sadhus.” This is true to some extent about children. Their hearts are very soft. When they listen to the pastimes of Krsna, they are automatically attracted to Him. What is the point of hari-katha that doesn’t make you completely absorbed and that doesn’t create faith in you?
Therefore, Sukadeva Gosvami has said that Krsna enters a person’s heart by the medium of aural reception to His pastimes and makes his heart purified. Bhagavan manifests bhakti in that person’s heart. All the knots of the heart will be broken. What are these knots?
“This is yours and this is mine,” what is this conception of “Yours and mine?” It is the conception that “This son is mine. This brother is mine.” And regarding who a son belongs to, there is a difference of opinion even among the mother and father. A husband tells his wife, “This jewellery is yours. But if you leave me, then I will take all the jewellery away as well. This is mine. What is in the bank is yours and that which is in my name is mine.” If the hand is affected by gangrene, then the hand is amputated. To protect the body, the hand is removed. If a person is sad, then he will leave the body as well. Fighting between themselves, a husband will leave his wife or the wife will leave her husband. To save themselves from the misery of sadness, they may even leave their body, which they consider to be themselves. So, the atma is so dear. But, the atma of the atma is Krsna. Try to understand that you cannot save yourself if you avoid worshiping Him. Krsna is the Paramatma of the atma. Therefore, Bhagavan’s bhajan should be done. If you die and become a dog, then in that form of life, you will get ten or twenty mates. Or if you become the mate of a dog, then you will get ten or twenty dogs and you will beget ten puppies at a time. At present, a couple is suffering to raise a single child. In the animal form of life, you will have no anxiety on how to raise and nourish your children. You will not be worried on how to get your daughter married. You will also not be concerned about your children’s education. Any spot you find, you will sleep on.
When we try sleeping, we are unable to. We think about all the problems affecting us like the failing business. We swallow a pill or two and try sleeping. If we swallow four pills instead of two, then we leave our body.
Sripad Madhava Maharaja: Rama-nama satya hai.
Srila Gurudeva: Try to understand this. We want peace and happiness, but can we get this by our present efforts? It is guaranteed that if you don’t do the bhajan of Bhagavan, if you don’t accept Him, and if you don’t chant His names—then you will never attain peace and happiness. Ajamila was a person whose life is described in the Srimad Bhagavatam. He was a brahmana and of good character. He never ate meat, eggs, or fish and never drank alcohol. He would duly serve his parents. He was a scholar well versed in the Vedas. He would daily offer oblations into the fire. This history is from Satya Yuga. One day, he went to the forest to obtain some wood to perform a fire sacrifice for his parents. He saw something there, which disturbed his consciousness. He saw a sudra-boy and girl who were engaged in talking despicable things. They were drinking alcohol and engaged in that, which is not to be done. They were half-naked. Seeing this, his mind became disturbed. He tried to control his mind so much.
As it is said in the Gita, “It is possible to control air. But, it is impossible to control the mind.” How can air be controlled? Hold your breath for a minute. Can you do so? No. Then can you control the air for two minutes? No. If you hold your breath for five minutes, you will die. Therefore, it is very difficult to control the air. But, it can be controlled. There were some sadhu-purusas who, what to speak of one year, they could control the mind for fifty thousand years and sit silently. During the war of Mahabharata, one risi left mainland Bharata-varsa and left for the Himalayas. There, he controlled his mind and stopped breathing also. Containing his life-airs, he sat silently.
When he came after five thousand years, he asked, “O brother, when I was in the mainland, there was a war happening between the Kauravas and Pandavas. What happened in that war?”
Someone said, “Oh is that today’s war? Five thousand years have passed since that war.”
“Five thousand years have passed? What happened in that war?”
“The Pandavas won and the Kauravas were killed.”
“O brother, five thousand years have passed.”
There are some yogi-purusas in the Himalayas and other places, who holding their breath, what to speak of five thousand years; they can stay alive for ten thousand years. But, we don’t want this. Krsna has given us a mouth, eyes, ears, and other senses. Therefore, we will do Krsna’s nama-kirtana. We will listen to His pastimes and not waste our lives. By hatha-yoga, you will not gain much. Therefore, even if you are alive for only one day, then engage yourself in Krsna’s nama-kirtana. Chant, “Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare,” and listen to Krsna’s pastimes. Thus, our lives will be successful. By dhyana or yoga-abhyasa like how Mahesh yogi and the others do, you will ruin your life. Nothing can be gained by such practices. You will surely have to die again. By bodily exercises, Krsna cannot be obtained. He can be obtained by the love of the atma—by prema.
One Gaudiya Vaisnava who had lost a little faith, approached a yogi and asked, “Maharajaji, make me do yoga also.”
He replied, “I? You do harinama. What need do you have to do yoga? What you do is bhakti-yoga, which is the topmost form of yoga.”
By hatha-yoga, the cycle of birth and death will not be stopped. Sorrows will not be dispelled. Although you may return after five thousand years, you will still have to die. You will have to suffer and taste the fruits of your karma. But by bhakti-yoga, your consciousness will become peaceful. All the sins will go far away. The problem of birth and death will be solved. Then, you will attain peace and happiness.
Ajamila could not control his mind. Coming home, he continuously thought, “How can I meet with that lady?”
Selling all the things of his house, he took the money and bought alcohol. Tying some things of his house in a bundle, like jewellery, he went near the prostitute. He offered everything at her feet. She became very happy and took everything. After some days, he had everything of his house sold. He abandoned his parents, wife, and children. He started to live with the prostitute. Remaining with her, he begot eight sons from her. Soon after, he became old and death approached him. By the impressions of his previous lives and present life, he named his youngest son as, “Narayana.” By naming his son as such, he was rescued. On the day he was dying, he thought, “What should I do?” Out of fear, he called out to his youngest son and said, “Narayana! Narayana!”
Out of His causeless mercy, Lord Narayana sent four Visnudutas, His messengers. Because, Ajamila had uttered the four syllables Na-ra-ya-na. Ajamila was saved. No matter how sinful a man is; yet, if he chants Krsna’s name during the final moment of his life, then he is freed of all his sins. He may have even committed the sin of killing a brahmana. By chanting Krsna’s name at the time of giving up the body, his sins are removed and the person will keep his feet on the head of death and transcend this world of birth and death. After being corrected by the messengers of Visnu, the messengers of Yama Maharaja returned to their abode. Ajamila then went to Haridvara and again started to chant Krsna’s names. Thus, he obtained bhakti. Therefore, Krsna has invested all His potencies in His holy names. Something which cannot be done by Krsna, can be done by His name.
In the Valmiki Ramayana, there are one lakh slokas. The demigods, demons, and humans fought with each other and claimed that the Ramayana was only theirs. Sankaraji intervened and said, “I will divide the slokas of the Ramayana into three parts.”
He divided one lakh slokas into three parts. Thus, each group received thirty-three thousand slokas. One thousand remaining slokas were also divided into three parts. The demigods, demons, and the humans received 333 slokas each. Only one sloka remained. One sloka is made of four parts. So, three parts were given each to the contending parties. Now only part of the sloka remained. One part of a sloka has eight letters. Sankaraji gave two letters each to the three parties. Only two letters remained and this was—Rama.
Sankaraji told them, “I will not give this Rama-nama. I worked very hard distributing the contents of the Ramayana to you all. So, I will keep Rama’s name in my heart.”
When any person is going to die in Kasi, then Sankaraji speaks Rama-nama in the person’s ears and makes the person attain the Lord’s abode. What is the essence of what I have spoken so far? The essence of all the sastras like the Vedas, Upanisads, and Puranas is Krsna-nama and Rama-nama. Have faith in this. If we can place our faith in Max Mueller’s books, in the theories and books of Newton, and placing our faith in the professors’ books, if we study these books; then why can’t we place our faith in the books of Vyasadeva as well? Vyasadeva’s books are never wrong. There is nothing that is not contained in his books; he wrote these books even before the world was created. Therefore, placing our faith in his statements, we should definitely also have faith in Krsna’s name and chant.
To understand what bhakti is, we should discuss Prahlada Maharaja’s life. Sukadeva Gosvami told Pariksit Maharaja all these pastimes within seven days. In the course of his narrations, Sukadeva Gosvami spoke the following pastime:
Yudhisthira Maharaja was performing a rajasuya-yajna. In the yajna or fire sacrifice, Krsna’s service was to wash the feet of all the guests. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but He took on the most seemingly insignificant service.
He said, “I will wash the feet of anyone who comes to this yajna.”
Some of the guests who attended this yajna were Duryodhana, Sisupala, Dantavakra, Jarasandha, and other big demons. Krsna, the Yadavas, the Pandavas, and the others were also a part of this yajna. At that time, Sisupala spoke ill of Krsna a hundred times. As he was about to hurl abuses at Krsna again, Krsna took His Sudarsana cakra and released it on Sisupala. Severing Sisupala’s head, Sudarsana returned to Krsna’s hand. An effulgent light came from Sisupala’s body and entered Krsna’s feet.
Maharaja Yudhisthira asked, “Oh this demon spoke ill of Krsna so much. Instead, why didn’t he suffer from leprosy or any other terrible ailment? Why didn’t he incur any sin? His soul attained Krsna’s lotus feet. Hence, he attained liberation.”
Maharaja Yudhisthira was told, “Bhagavan doesn’t have any feelings of enmity towards anyone. Everyone is Krsna’s children who are cared for by Him. He slaps someone and gives them mercy while He is merciful to someone else by loving him. He loves everyone just as a mother loves all her children.”
If a mother’s son has some problem in his stomach, then if he asks for sweet-rice, will his mother give it? If she gives him sweet-rice, he will die. Instead, she will give sweet-rice to a healthy son; the mother is not being biased. One shouldn’t think, “Oh the mother is giving sweet-rice to this son but not to the other son.” She will give sweet-rice to the son who is fit to eat. Similarly, Krsna bestows His mercy like this. Prahlada Maharajaji was a great devotee of Krsna. His father’s name was Hiranyakasipu. “Hiranya,” means gold and “aksu,” means eyes. He who thinks, “I will be happy in life by money and wealth,” is called Hiranyakasipu or Hiranyaksa. Previously, there were two—Hiranyakasipu and Hiranyaksa. But now, there are so many in this world.
Who is there in this world who doesn’t think, “We will only be happy in this world by wealth.” Therefore, we are all his sons. We are in the group of the two brothers.
And he, who thinks, “Peace and happiness in this life can only be obtained by chanting Krsna’s names and engaging in His bhajan,” is called Prahlada.
One day, Prahlada’s father asked him, “My dear son, you are now five years of age. It has been five months since you have been admitted in the school. Now tell me what you have learnt in school?”
Who were Prahlada’s teachers? They were Sukracarya and his sons, Sanda and Amarka. Sukra means semen; by the union of a mother and father, a child is born. Hence, the preceptor of Sukra is Sukracarya. To determine the birth of a son or a daughter according to the wish of the parents, or to bring someone back to life, he utters certain mantras and brings the dead back to life. Brhaspati’s son went to Sukracarya to learn the Sanjivani mantra. This mantra brings the dead back to life.
When Brhaspati’s son went to Sukracarya’s asrama, the demons killed and ate him. He was digested. Sukracarya wondered, “Where is my disciple?” In his trance, he saw that the demons had him killed, eaten, and digested. Sukracarya chanted the Sanjivani mantra, and to the demons’ horror, Brhaspati’s son was brought back to life and he emerged from their stomachs. There are some people who know this Sanjivani mantra. Knowledge like this was present in the past and they are present even now. What is the topmost knowledge? It is Krsna’s name.
A devotee prays, “I surrender to Krsna—Krsnam saranam mama.”
This is an ordinary mantra.
Naradaji was given the mantra, “Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya.”
There are mantras that are more powerful than this mantra. “Kling Krsnaya,” and other mantras are mentioned in the Bhagavat.
There are mantras that are more powerful than this mantra. “Kling Krsnaya” and other mantras are mentioned in the Bhagavat. They are given in a hidden manner; he who has the “eyes,” will see and understand. Others cannot understand. These mantras are given in a very concealed, hidden manner. Therefore, these mantras have so much power.
On being asked on what he learnt in school, Prahlada Maharajaji said, “I have heard and understood that one should leave the well of material existence and engage in Krsna’s bhajan. This is our topmost duty.”
Samsara is a blind well. What is samsara? Sam-srit—samyakrupe-saratijaha. A conditioned soul takes birth, grows and grows, then becoming old—dies. A person wears a new pair of clothes. After ten days, the clothes become old. After fifteen days, they become dirty. They are washed. After some years, the clothes become worn and torn, and you ultimately discard them. The body is compared to a cloth. This is called samsara. Therefore, samsara is a well. Regardless of one being a householder or a renunciant, one should leave this well and engage in the bhajan of Bhagavan. Samsara should be left behind, irrespective of any social division one is in. Our duty is to stop being attached to samsara.
Prahlada Maharaja told his father, “O best of the demons. Our auspiciousness lies in leaving this blind well of samsara, and engaging in the bhajan of Bhagavan.”
What is this blind well of material existence? There was a person who entered the forest. After traversing the path of the forest for some time, a tiger attacked him. Trying to save his life, he ran with great speed. The tiger relentlessly chased him. It was going to catch him at any moment. To the man’s relief, he found a well. There were some small Pippal trees growing near the well. Catching hold of the tree’s branches, the man lowered himself into the well. At the bottom of the well, there were some black snakes hissing ominously. Above, the man saw the fierce tiger waiting for him. If the man would climb up, then he would be killed by the tiger. And if he completely lowered himself into the well, then the snakes would bite him.
Meanwhile, he saw a couple of mice that were nibbling at the branches. One mouse was white, while the other was black. As they nibbled at the branches, the man saw some drops of honey dripping from another branch of the tree. He took his tongue out trying to taste the drops of honey. When he tasted one drop of this honey, he exclaimed, “How sweet!” He forgot that death awaited him on the top and bottom of the well. Death awaited him on all four directions. Even if he waited, the mice would eventually gnaw their entire way into the branch and he would fall to his death. So, how long could he hang on to the branches? Death awaited him on all sides. What was this drop of honey? It is the happiness derived from wife, children, and family. This is the sweetness of samsara. But, you will have to eventually leave this. If a person remembers Krsna at that dangerous time, then he will be saved.
What is this Pippal tree? It is our karma. Being attached to the fruits of our actions, we continue to remain in this world. The mice are good fruits and bad fruits of our karma. The white mouse is pious karma and the black mouse is sin. We think, “I didn’t commit any sin in this life.”
“But, O brother, you did commit sin in your previous lives. Who will enjoy these fruits of your actions? Only you are destined to enjoy them.”
This dangerous situation can be rectified by chanting Krsna’s names and by engaging in His bhakti. Therefore, Prahlada Maharaja said, “One should engage in Krsna’s bhajan from his childhood. No one knows when this life will end. During one’s childhood, the intelligence is pure.”
The sons of the demons replied, “Brother, we are still children. Let us become a little older. We should become more educated. We will become experts in one field. We will become a doctor, engineer, business-man, or an accountant. We will become qualified for some occupation, and then we will marry and enter in samsara. We will build a house, beget children, and after we have enjoyed worldly life, we will follow your instructions. By then, we would have also become old. Then, there will be none to question us.”
Prahlada Maharajaji replied, “At that time, even your back will not be straight. What will you do at that time? Therefore, start doing bhajan from now, while you are still a child. There is no guarantee if you will die while you are still a child. You may die when you are a twelve year old, or a sixteen year old. You may also die when you are fifty years old. You may live to see a hundred years, but even then, you will have to die. Engage in the bhajan of Krsna from now.”
“O brother, then how will we enjoy happiness?”
Prahlada replied, “I will tell you something. Is there any being in this world who invites sadness that ‘O sadness brother, please come to me.’ Does anyone want sadness? No one wants sadness. Does anyone want to become old? Does anyone want their teeth to fall out? Does anyone want their face and back to become crooked? But will this not certainly happen? Sadness will come and sit on your head. Whether you desire or not, old age will catch you and marry you. She will definitely marry you. Finally, death will come and embrace you. Therefore, just as sadness comes uninvited, happiness will also come uninvited.
When Krsna gives, then He will give you more than you could ever expect. If sadness comes of its own will, then why will happiness also not come on its own? It will surely come. So, why do all of you worry for this?”
na tatha vindate kshemam
—Srimad Bhagavatam 7.6.4
Don’t make much effort for happiness. You will get whatever you need to maintain your life. Just as you think about your future, about what your future holds for the next ten or more years; then why don’t you think about your future on a longer basis? You should think, “What should I do and where should I go to make my life peaceful?” An intelligent person will find the answers to these questions in this life itself. In Kali Yuga, an ordinary person lives up to a maximum age of a hundred years. Fifty years is spent in comfortably sleeping, then how many years remain? If a person consumes alcohol, then his senses will be uncontrolled and he will lose many more years in sleeping. But on estimation, fifty years is spent in sleeping. After this, twenty years is spent in education and trying to become expert in any particular field of vocation. Twenty-five years may also be spent on education, because one earns degrees like an M.A. or Ph.D. Much time is spent in becoming a business-man, or a chartered accountant or a doctor. Thus, twenty years are spent. After reducing twenty years from fifty, thirty years remain. From age eighty to hundred, the limbs of the body stop functioning. At that time, a person cannot perform any work.
His family members will say, “He is coughing the whole day. Why doesn’t he die?”
Although the parents built the house, the son will say, “Why don’t these old people die? They are coughing all the time. What if our children fall sick as well? It will be nice if they die, then our problem will be solved.”
So, twenty years are spent in old-age and the other twenty years is spent in education and in learning ways to earn money. Therefore, ten years remain. In the time of ten years, one has to build a house, go to work, buy a car, and he also has to buy a television. Will this happen without earning any money? Day and night, he has to earn money.
“Oh when will you do Bhagavan’s bhajan?”
Meanwhile, death will come. I will tell a very small story. There was a person who would go begging. By great difficulty, he got some wheat flour. He could only get a quarter kilo of wheat flour. Previously, I saw with my own eyes that for one rupee, you would get one kilo of the best cow’s ghee. For eight annas, you could get cloth to make a sari. People could buy forty kilos of jaggery for one rupee. I also saw that a person could buy twenty kilos of rice for one rupee. But now, what is the price of rice and other commodities? So, the beggar sold what he had collected and got one paisa.
He thought, “I got a good price. I will do the same tomorrow—I will eat half of what I have collected and sell the other half. After five months of collection, I would have acquired two or four rupees. I will collect sattu and I will sell it again. I will mix some other things with the sattu and do business. Thus, I will earn much money. When I have money, then the people will see who I am. Now when I go to people’s houses to beg something, they refuse to give. But, when I am rich, they will come to see me. At that time, I will beat them with a stick.”
But as he thought like this and swung his hand, he hit some earthen pots. When one pot collided with another pot and fell, all the other pots, which were arranged in an orderly manner, also began to fall. They were broken to pieces. The owner of the house ran to the spot and asked, “What have you done? You have broken all my earthen pots.” Then the owner ran behind the beggar to beat him.
Similarly, we imagine so much in life. A girl thought, “After I study, I will be married to a rich household. There will be big cabinets and other expensive items.” But her marriage didn’t take place. After getting married to a rich man, the man fell in love with another lady and left her. Now a great problem arose. So, a person has so many aspirations. But there is no one who is peaceful in this world. A person will be peaceful only if he is happy. And how will one be happy? By being engaged in Krsna-bhakti, one will be eternally happy.
Therefore, Prahlada Maharaja told his schoolmates, “Be engaged in Bhagavan’s bhajan from your childhood. Chant Krsna’s names; have faith in His names.” Why? This truth has been established since millions of years. A devotee will have all his desires fulfilled. He will always be happy and peaceful. Therefore, I appeal to all of you to chant Krsna’s names from today. Why? What you are meant to do tomorrow, you must do today. And what you are meant to do today, do now.
Don’t think, “I will chant later.”
Delay yourself when you are doing something bad. But, start doing the bhajan of Krsna immediately. Krsna doesn’t want anything from you. He only desires that you remember Him.
Tomorrow, I will speak on the pastimes of the tenth canto. Today, I spoke on tattva-jnana. The soul is Krsna’s servant. The soul should always serve Krsna. Perform your worldly duties from your present stage. But, perform your duties while always remembering Krsna. Hence, you will definitely be happy and peaceful. Tomorrow we will discuss on how causelessly merciful Krsna is. He took birth in Vraja in His unexcelled beauty. Although He is Parabrahma, He performs such attractive pastimes. By His love, He steals everyone’s minds. By listening to His pastimes, bhakti will awaken in the heart. You will then cross over this ocean of birth and death and achieve the association of Krsna.
Gaura Premanande! Haribol!
[CC-by-NDNC Bhakta Bandhav]