Hari-katha by Paramadhyatama Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, spoken on 16 June 1996, in Houston.
When Caitanya Mahaprabhu would be in the Gambhira, He used to think like this. This kirtana we sang is of a separation mood, vipralambha-bhava. Caitanya Mahaprabhu used to sing all these kirtans. Always remembering Krsna, He would think, “I cannot live without Krsna. My heart is broken. Without Krsna, I cannot live; I cannot live.”
Mirabhai would also think, “Syama is so beautiful, marvellous, and sweet. I can see Him everywhere. So, when will I see Krsna? When will I be so fortunate to see Krsna?”
Thinking like this, she would, for the entire day and night, be immersed in the mood of separation. This is the mood of Mirabhai, the mood of the gopis, and the mood of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. I know that in Indian languages like Tamil, Telugu, Sanskrit, Bengali, and Hindi, all the best kirtans depend on Rama and Krsna, especially on Krsna. All the forms of dance are also centred on Krsna. Their purport, sum and substance, and their everything are meant for Krsna. In India, we celebrate Holi?
What is Holi?
“Vraja mein Hari holi macayi.”
Krsna, Hari, is playing with so many colors on this day. What are these colors? They are the moods of prema, love and affection. In each street like Dana-gali, Maan-gali, Prema-gali, and Kunja-gali, Krsna celebrates Holi. There were joyous cries of, “Holi-hein, Holi-hein.”
[From this section of the audio file, Srila Gurudeva speaks in Hindi and the following transcription is the translation.]
What is Holi? Krsna took Gulaal, colors, and put them on the lotus faces of the gopis. The gopis also took colors and put them on Krsna. This is “Prema ki holi,” the Holi of prema. But now this prema ki holi is not celebrated. In Vrndavana, they play lattiyon-ki-holi. Using sticks, they hurt others. The real Holi and other pastimes have disappeared.
So, this song is about Srimati Radhika and Krsna. Srimati Radhika chants, “Hari Hari,” the whole day and night. She is feeling so much separation. We do kirtan, but we don’t sing very deeply. This girl sang, “Tan mein Rama. Man Mein Rama. Vacana mein Rama,” Rama is everywhere. But we don’t realize; we don’t try to sing deeply. But we should sing while trying to realize the meaning. So, the blood of all Indians is made of this—generation by generation. So, we should try to chant, “Rama Rama. Krsna Krsna.” Both these names are included in the mahamantra, “Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.”
There was a king in India who was not only the king of the whole earth. He was the king of Bhur, Bhuvah, Svaha, Maha, Janar, Tapa, Tala, Talatala, Patala, Rasatala, and Vitala. Who was he? He was Hiranyakasipu. He was this king. He took the throne of Indra. Ordering Indra, he would say, “Bring water to my home and manage everything.”
He used to tell Pavanadeva, the god of air that “You can sweep my rooms.”
He used to order the fire-god, Agnideva, and many other demigods, and they were bound to follow his orders. He was so powerful because he obtained many benedictions from Brahma. By Brahma’s benedictions, he would not die during the day or night. He would not die in the sky or land. He would not die within any day, month, or year. He cannot die. He could not be killed by any kind of weapon. He could not be killed by a man, tigers, animals, demigods, or by anyone else. He was almost immortal. His younger brother was killed by Varahadeva and all were weeping. His many wives and children were weeping; everyone was weeping. Hiranyakasipu wanted to console them. How did he console them?
You should stand up and narrate this hari-katha. By what words did he console them?
[Srila Gurudeva resumes speaking after the devotee speaks.]
When Prahlada Maharajaji used to study in the school, Hiranyakasipu asked him, “Son, tell me what you learnt in school.”
Prahlada Maharaja said, “I heard that to engage in Bhagavan’s bhajan is topmost.”
Hiranyakasipu was furious. He asked, “Where did this Bhagavan Hari come from? No one sees Him. Where has He come from? Your parents are Bhagavan. The king is Bhagavan. Bhagavan doesn’t exist; we don’t see Him. There is no God. I Myself am God. You should serve me. Who has told you that Hari is powerful? Who has told you?”
While listening to Prahlada Maharaja’s answers, Hiranyakasipu threatened the boy’s gurus and said, “Why did you teach him to chant Bhagavan’s names. Why did you teach him this?”
Prahlada intervened and said, “Guru did not teach this. They themselves have fallen into samsara. What kind of a guru is needed? One who understands Bhagavan, who has realized Him, should be accepted. This guru understands who the atma is. How can a person who has not realized the atma, and who has not done bhajan, speak about Krsna?
matir na krsne paratah svato va
mitho ‘bhipadyeta grha-vratanam
—Srimad Bhagavatam 7.5.30
They, who are in grha? What is grha? There are two kinds of grhastas, householders—one is the grahasta and the other is the grha. Those, who install Radha-Krsna or Sita-Rama and serve Them are called grhastas. They consider Radha-Krsna or Sita-Rama to be the owners of their house. Who is the owner of the house? The owner is that person who sits silently in the house. The owner is Prabhu. And we are His servants, and managers. One who thinks like this is a grhasta. Or else he is a grhi. Who is a grhi? One is not a grhi by only living in a house. He wants a wife. The house is run with the husband as the centre. A man works hard day and night for the happiness of his wife and children. A man’s life is only occupied with the maintenance of his wife and children. So, this person is called a grhi. He is not a grhi until his wife is not at home. But, a wife comes, and children are born, and a man does everything for them. And he leaves them at the end.
Krsna will not be obtained by following the conceptions of those, who are grhi. You will not be Krsna conscious. If one is a grhasta, tyagi, or a mahapurusa—nevertheless, he can be Krsna conscious. Vasista was married and he had children. But, he was the guru of Rama. Sandipani also had a wife; but he was the guru of Krsna. Regardless of whether one is a grhi or tyagi, he need only engage himself in the bhajan of Bhagavan. But, if one is a tyagi, renunciant; but yet, doesn’t do the bhajan of Bhagavan, then what does he do? He does yoga. Trying to control his mind, he does yoga.
He thinks, “I am nothing. This world is nothing. Na-iti; na-iti.”
He will only be absorbed in this. He tries awakening his kundalini. Do you know what kundalini is? In the Gita and Bhagavat, kundalini has never been told. Bhagavan will not be obtained by practicing austerities. He will be obtained by prema that is inside.
prema se mile nanda-lala
By hatha-yoga, and other forms of yoga centred on the body, Bhagavan will not be attained. If a guru is entangled in grha, then what hari-katha will he speak? He will not be able to absorb his consciousness in Bhagavan. Even if he speaks some katha, he will do so while only keeping money in mind. He will think, “If I get money, I will raise my children with that money.” But, even if one is a grhasta, he can have ruci, taste for Bhagavan and His pastimes. The gopis were householders. Nanda Baba was a householder; Maharaja Dasaratha was also a householder. There is no difference. Only Prema for Krsna should be there. If a sadhu is not found and one is in samsara, then remembrance of Bhagavan will occur in this situation. He will not learn how to do Bhagavan’s or Krsna’s bhajan. When will he learn how to do Bhagavan’s bhajan?
He will learn if there is sadhu-sanga and that sadhu-sanga should be bona fide. Otherwise, what will happen?
matir na krsne paratah svato va
mitho ‘bhipadyeta grha-vratanam
adanta-gobhir visatam tamisram
punah punas carvita-carvananam
—Srimad Bhagavatam 7.5.30
[Because of their uncontrolled senses, persons too addicted to materialistic life make progress toward hellish conditions and repeatedly chew that which has already been chewed. Their inclinations toward Krsna are never aroused, either by the instructions of others, by their own efforts, or by a combination of both.]
A blind man cannot lead another blind man. If the blind man catches the stick of another blind man, then both will fall and go to Rasatala. So, how can one who doesn’t know Bhagavan’s names become a teacher? How will he teach Krsna consciousness?
If anyone has no knowledge at all, he doesn’t know what the atma is, who Paramatma is, who Krsna is and he doesn’t know who he is; yet, if he is a teacher like Sanda-Amarka or Sukracarya, then a student cannot focus his mind on Krsna. What will happen?
andha yathandhair upaniyamanas
—Srimad Bhagavatam 7.5.31
Two blind men were walking on the street, and one was leading another. Both of them fell in a ditch. Nowadays, this is going on in samsara. We don’t know anything about the atma or paramatma. We have not been told anything about this in schools or colleges. They are all atheistic. Therefore, boys and girls are becoming spoiled. They have no training at all regarding who the soul is, and what the atma and paramatma is. They don’t know what the goal and object of our lives is. Why we do we eat and sleep? To save our lives, we do so. But, why do we maintain our lives? We don’t know. Therefore, as long as there are no sadhus, and their association, up until then, one’s mind will not be directed towards Krsna. A sadhu can change everything in one minute. The sadhus are so qualified and powerful. Like, Narada has turned so many demons into suddha-bhaktas, pure devotee.
So, any man who has no knowledge of atma, Paramatma, and Krsna-bhakti will not be able to make his life successful. Our sons and daughters go to schools and colleges, but they became atheists. They think, “We are doing everything. There is no God; there is nothing.” So, we should try to be Krsna conscious. If one is not attached to the katha and foot dust of the Vaisnavas, then up until one doesn’t do the service of the foot dust of the Vaisnavas, he will not know these tattvas. All the schools and colleges of present times have become atheistic and this has resulted in the unfortunate condition of society. There is no prema in this world. Even little children are becoming atheistic. They are not being taught properly. They don’t listen to their parents. They have a little respect for their parents. But, they don’t listen to them because they are in bad association for the entire day.
They say, “Our parents are backward. They don’t know anything. They have no intelligence.”
But, they don’t understand what their elders have to say. When will they understand? They will understand when they will become old. At that time, their teeth will fall out and their bodies will weaken. No one will ask about their well-being. They will not have any strength to drink a glass of water. Either the husband or wife will die earlier. At that time one will think, “Alas! What have I done?”
Therefore, these considerations should be understood. When Hiranyakasipu heard Prahlada Maharaja speak this way, he became very angry. Hiranyakasipu was a very powerful person and as I said earlier, all the demigods and demigoddesses used to fear from him. Hiranyakasipu summoned all his demons and said, “Kill this boy.”
Hoping to have Prahlada trampled, elephants were released by Hiranyakasipu’s demoniac associates. But the elephants became fearful and ran away. Prahlada was thrown from mountain-tops. They tried to have him drowned in the river. Hiranyakasipu tried so much to have him killed; but Prahlada could not be killed. Hiranyakasipu could not do anything. He became fearful. One day, his guruji had gone outside. On that day, Sanda-Amarka made Prahlada the monitor and told him, “You should tell your class-mates to be silent. We will return shortly.”
Prahlada Maharaja told his class-mates, “Today, we will not play. I want to tell you all something and all of you must hear.”
What do you want to tell us?”
Prahlada Maharaja said:
kaumara acaret prajno
dharman bhagavatan iha
durlabham manusam janma
tad apy adhruvam arthadam
—Srimad Bhagavatam 7.6.1
[One who is sufficiently intelligent should use the human form of body from the very beginning of life—in other words, from the tender age of childhood—to practice the activities of devotional service, giving up all other engagements. The human body is most rarely achieved, and although temporary like other bodies, it is meaningful because in human life one can perform devotional service. Even a slight amount of sincere devotional service can give one complete perfection.]
Prahlada told his schoolmates, “Learn to perform Bhagavan’s bhajan from your childhood.”
The children asked, “Who is this Bhagavan? What is this Bhagavat-dharma? We don’t know anything.”
They then said, “When we will become old; when we will be more than eighty years of age and we will have no more use for this world, then we will try to do bhakti or anything. Now, we will read and go to colleges. We will become qualified and become a doctor, engineer, or a scientist. And then, being qualified, we will earn so much money. And after that, we will have so many jobs and businesses. We will then have so much money. We will build a very good house equipped with all facilities.”
I have seen here that the houses have all facilities. By the touch of a button, the room at once becomes warm or cold. There is a pool here, which always has fresh water. There are so many things here. So, the children of the demons told Prahlada, “We will earn money first. And then, when we will be old we will have time. Because at that time, we cannot do business or anything. During that age we cannot serve and we will have nothing to do. We will think about this when we will be idle.”
Prahlada Maharaja replied, “Don’t think like this. There is no guarantee if you will live up to a hundred years. You may even die tomorrow.”
When I was coming from Mathura to Delhi, there was a newly married couple who were both twenty-four years of age travelling in a car along with the lady’s brother and father. Including the driver, there were five of them travelling in the car. The car collided with a truck and no one escaped alive. Their bodies were lying on the road. There was no one to inform their families. So many such accidents happen in this world. Not just one or two accidents happen.
Therefore, Prahlada Maharaja told his friends, “There is no guarantee if you will live up to five or ten years. Some babies die in the wombs of their mothers. Therefore, don’t think, ‘I will do bhajan when I become old.’ Do Bhagavan’s bhajan from now, from your childhood.”
Why did Prahlada Maharaja say this? The hearts of children are very pure; they are like a spotless white sheet. Anything can be written on this sheet. But what can you write on a sheet, which is filled with words? So, don’t give any instructions to those who are more than sixty years old. They have “written” everything. Taking something, their moods have been fixed. So, you cannot help them. You should not try to speak any hari-katha to them. But if they have some past impressions, then they can be taught. Otherwise, they are of a stubborn nature. They would rather break than learn like dry bamboo. Hence, engage in Bhagavan’s bhajan from your childhood if you want your auspiciousness. No one knows what will happen tomorrow.
tat-prayaso na kartavyo
yata ayur-vyayah param
na tatha vindate ksemam
—Srimad Bhagavatam 7.6.4
[Endeavors merely for sense gratification or material happiness through economic development are not to be performed, for they result only in a loss of time and energy, with no actual profit. If one’s endeavors are directed toward Krsna consciousness, one can surely attain the spiritual platform of self-realization. There is no such benefit from engaging oneself in economic development.]
Every one of us wants happiness. In this samsara, no one wants to suffer. We don’t want to become poor. We don’t want to become diseased. Even so, disease comes; suffering comes. Sometimes, the husband leaves the wife and sometimes the wife leaves the husband. And sometimes, the children leave their parents. Family members fight among themselves; neighbours fight among themselves. Many cases are filed against each other. Suffering comes on its own, even though we desire it. Old age will come even if you don’t want it to come. Whether you desire or not, you will have to die. Therefore, if all these things happen without any effort or invitation, then even happiness will come automatically.
In India, the Tatas and Birlas are very wealthy. If any child is born in their family, then that child will become very wealthy as well. But if someone becomes blind in the Tata or Birla family, then what is to be? Therefore, if you are destined for sadness, sadness will come. And, happiness will follow sadness. Don’t strive hard for happiness. Happiness will definitely come. I remember one story from my childhood. My uncle’s village was right next to the bank of the Ganga. In that village there was an old person who would daily bathe in the Ganga. One day, as he stood in the waters of the Ganga, his leg struck something. When he lifted it to see what it was, he found a pot full of gold coins. The man left the pot behind.
He thought, “I did not find this pot all these days. But today, my leg struck the pot and I found these gold coins. So, if it is mine, then it will be mine. The man told the pot, ‘I will not lift you and take you with me. If you want to go with me, then follow me from behind.’”
When the man emerged from the Ganga and went on his way, the pot of golden coins also followed him to his house. This story is true. If you are destined for happiness, happiness will surely come. You may obtain a birth in a rich family. By digging in your house, you may find a treasure or other valuables. Your business may prosper on its own. There was a person in Kolkata who would sell towels on the street. Within three or four years, he became so rich that he became the owner of millions of rupees. He owns many shops now. In Delhi, there was a person who would sell brooms and soon after, he became a millionaire. And a millionaire becomes poor. His business collapses. Therefore, happiness will come on its own. Do your karma as much as you can. You will have to perform your work in samsara. It is not possible for you to not do any karma, so do something. But, engage in karma by which your bhakti for Bhagavan will increase and your faith will remain fixed on Him. Then, you will remember Bhagavan even at the time of death.
Prahlada said, “If a person lives up to a hundred years, then fifty years is spent in sleeping. Out of fifty years, twenty years is spent in an upbringing and in becoming educated. One studies to become a doctor, philosopher, teacher, or a business man. And when a person is eighty years old, he is unable to do anything. He only sits at home being attacked by many illnesses. Hence, forty years are spent this way and only ten years remain. In those ten years, you will marry and build a house. You will also have children. Your life will be spent in this way. Therefore, do Bhagavan’s bhajan from now. What you are meant to do tomorrow, do today and what you are meant to do today, do now.”
Become Krsna conscious as of now. You will not be able to take one paisa of the money you are earning when you leave your body. Use your money in doing good. Don’t use it for bad things. Your money should help you to advance in your devotion to Krsna. If a little of our energy is spent in Krsna’s seva, then along with our own lives, even the lives of our children and dynasty will be made auspicious. Hence, understanding this, everyone must engage in Bhagavan’s bhajan from childhood. It is not difficult to do Bhagavan’s bhajan. You can chant Bhagavan’s name during the morning, afternoon, evening, or during the night. You can also chant His name while walking, sneezing, or even while falling down. If a person slips and falls down, then he can chant, “Rama Rama.”
Upon seeing stool, he also chants, “Rama Rama,” in disgust. He chants Rama Rama when he is going to sleep. He chants Rama Rama when he wakes up. You should also chant, “Rama Rama,” or “Krsna Krsna.” No money is spent in chanting Bhagavan’s names. But the chanting of Bhagavan’s names is so powerful that it will change your life. Happiness and peace will come to this world. Happiness and peace will not be obtained by your present activities. So, we should do Bhagavan’s bhajan from our childhood.
Prahlada’s school-mates asked in wonder, “Where did you learn so much? Who told you this? We have never heard these teachings from our Gurudeva because we are also in the same school as you.”
Prahlada Maharaja replied, “Oh I will tell you who taught me. When I was in my mother’s womb, Narada Maharaja came and taught me for sixty thousand years. I was in my mother’s womb for sixty thousand years.”
“This is so surprising!”
“Oh Naradaji is very powerful. He had given a boon to my mother that she would give birth to a son whenever she desired. My father had gone to perform austerities for sixty thousand years. At that time, Indra attacked the kingdom and caught my mother. He wanted to kill the unborn son in her womb because he was the son of Hiranyakasipu. He feared that this son would become a great tyrant like his father.
But, Naradaji told Indra, ‘You cannot kill this boy. He is a devotee of Bhagavan. You cannot kill him.’
Being chastised by Narada, Indra offered his respects to Naradaji and did parikrama of the unborn child from the sky. Indra then left to heaven and Narada brought my mother to his asrama. She was taken to a place in the asrama where elderly ladies were doing Bhagavan’s bhajan. My mother did a lot of seva. She would clean the asrama. She would make all facilities available for the elderly to perform bhajana. She would bring water for them to bathe.
Being very pleased by my mother’s services, the elderly ladies asked my mother, ‘Ask for a benediction. What do you desire?’
My mother replied, ‘If you are happy with me then bless me that I will give birth to this child only when my husband comes. Or else I don’t want this child to be born now because Indra will kill him.’
‘Evam astu; so be it.’
Therefore, I was in my mother’s womb for sixty thousand years,” Prahlada told his fellow students.
And, Naradaji spoke hari-katha for sixty thousand years to Prahlada Maharaja. He spoke on the Bhagavat, Veda, Purana, and Upanisads to Prahlada. He imparted atma-tattva and all forms of knowledge to Prahlada. Prahlada Maharaja’s mother forgot what she had heard but Prahlada Maharaja never forgot what his spiritual master, Narada Gosvami said. He was a Mahabhagavat from birth. So, Prahlada instructed his friends on the goal of human life.
Prahlada further told them, “My guruji told me, ‘If you want to attain Bhagavan; if you want to obtain happiness and peace, then serve guruji. Tad viddhi pranipatena, pariprasnena sevaya.’”
What does guruji want? Does he want you to massage his feet and bring him food? What does he want? He wants his disciple to remember Bhagavat-tattva-jnana. Ask your guruji any questions you have with great love. You should ask him, “What will become of me? Where will I go? Where have I come from? How long do I have to stay in this world? How can we stay happily and peacefully?”
Tulasidasaji has said, “Sruti-siddhanta ye hai urughari, bhajiye Rama sab kaja-visari.”
He said, “Even if all your duties are ruined do Bhagavan’s bhajan. Nothing is ruined if you are engaged in Bhagavan’s bhajan. But, if you don’t engage in Bhagavan’s bhajan, then everything is in vain even if you have performed all your duties.”
Tulasidasaji said, “Although it is impossible for hair to grow on a turtle’s shell, I agree that this may happen. The rabbit may also grow horns, although we have never seen a rabbit have any horns. The flowers may also bloom in the sky, although the sky is bereft of soil. To think of such phenomena being true is absurd. Even fire may come from ice and ghee may be obtained by churning water, no harm. I will agree to all of this. Even oil may be obtained by churning mud although this never happens. But, a soul can never cross this material world without doing the bhajan of Bhagavan.”
Anguish will not leave us. Presently, we are wealthy and peaceful because of some sukarma from our previous lives. What will happen after this? We should try to think, chant, remember, and worship Krsna.
vanca-kalpa-tarubyas ca krpa-sindhubhya eva ca
patitanam pavanebhyo vaisnavebhyo namo namah
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