June 4, 2009
Śrīla Gurudeva: In ancient times there was a king named Citraketu, who had many wives. King Citraketu married one woman after another, but he was very unhappy because none of them bore a child. One day a great saint named Aṅgirā Ṛṣi arrived at his palace, whereupon the king welcomed him and, honoring him, washed his feet. Seeing the king despondent, Aṅgirā Ṛṣi enquired, “Why are you so unhappy? Your military is under your command; you behave well with them, and you give them a good salary. Moreover, your wives are very qualified.”
The king replied, “Everything is okay except that I have no son. Who will take responsibility for the kingdom after me? Who will sit on my throne? When I die, who will perform my śrāddha ceremony and offer me piṇḍa2? For this reason I am aggrieved.”
The great sage said, “I see in your destiny that you have no son.”
The king said, “I know that you are very powerful and can grant me a son. I want a son.”
The sage replied, “No one can be happy in this world by having a son or daughter, a wife or wealth. This world is full of miseries due to the endless pain of repeated birth and death. You will have to become old one day, one day you will have to give up this body, and at death you will not be able to take anything with you from this world – not even a penny.
“You can be peaceful and satisfied only if you have love and affection for Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Offer yourself at the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and surrender unto Him. By this you can be happy; there is no other way.
“You should know that you are not this body; you are soul. Both the soul and the Supersoul are present in this body. If by the help of guru you realize this, then you will be liberated; otherwise not. Otherwise you will have to reincarnate in this world as a hog, pig, donkey, monkey, and countless other species, always seeking happiness without obtaining it.
“Don’t think, ‘I will have a son and thus become happy.’ Rather, engage in bhajana to Kṛṣṇa.”
The king replied, “Oh, sage, you are powerful. I want only a son. Please give me a son”
Finally the sage told him, “Very well, you will have a son, but he will be the cause of both your happiness and distress.”
The king thought, “No harm, I will have a son and be happy. And, because he will sometimes disobey me, I will be inconvenienced. This will not be a problem. At the appropriate time I will give my kingdom to my son, and I will go to the forest and do bhajana.”
Aṅgirā Ṛṣi gave the king some sweet-rice and advised him, “Give this to your dearest, most beloved queen.”
King Citraketu gave the sweet-rice to his eldest and most lovely wife, named Kṛtadyuti, and after ten months a beautiful son, as beautiful as the moon, took birth from her womb. Thus, day by day, like the moon, that child grew.
When the boy reached about five years of age, the king’s other queens met together. One queen said, “The king used to be affectionate to us, but since the birth of this son he does not even look after us. We are like maidservants now. He doesn’t give us any aromatic oils for bathing, or any gift, and he doesn’t even ask, ‘How are you?’
“Even maidservants who are constantly engaged in rendering service to the husband are honored by the husband; they have nothing for which to lament. Our position is that we are like maidservants of the maidservants. We are most unfortunate, and the root cause of all these problems is this son.” The queens conspired: “We should somehow give poison to this boy. He will die, and all our problems will be solved.”
Unaware of the poison administered by her co-wives, Queen Kṛtadyuti walked within the house, thinking that her son was sleeping deeply as he was not weeping for her. She ordered the nurse, “My dear friend, please bring my son here.” When the maidservant approached the child, who lay motionless on his bed, she saw that his eyes were turned upward and his body was black. There were no signs of life, as all his senses had stopped functioning.
Understanding that the child was dead, she cried, “Now I am doomed!” and fell to the ground. In great agitation, the maidservant struck her breast with both hands and cried loudly in regret. Hearing her piercing voice the queen immediately arrived at that spot. Now realizing that her son was dead, in great lamentation and her hair and dress in disarray, the queen fell to the ground unconscious.
Hearing the loud crying, all the inhabitants of the palace, both men and women, ran to that place. Being equally aggrieved, they also began to cry. The queens who had administered the poison also cried pretentiously, even louder than that dear-most queen.
When King Citraketu heard of his son’s death from ‘unknown causes,’ he became almost blind. Because of his great affection, his lamentation grew like a blazing fire, and as he went to see the dead child, he kept slipping and falling on the ground. Surrounded by his ministers and other officers, as well as his learned brāhmaṇas, the king fell unconscious at the child’s feet, his hair and dress in disarray. When the king regained consciousness, his eyes were tearful, he could not speak, and his breathing was heavy. He had forgotten the words of Aṅgirā Ṛṣi, warning him that he would also have to suffer.
There was no one present to console anyone else, but in the meantime Aṅgirā Ṛṣi returned to the palace with Nārada Ṛṣi, a very exalted sage. Such saintly persons as he and Nārada can perform any activity they desire. They can give life to a dead person, and if a man has committed any offense, they can effectively curse him by saying, “You should die at once.”
Aṅgirā Ṛṣi asked, “Why are you all weeping?” but at first no one could recognize that he was the saintly person who had granted the son some years earlier. He asked many times, “What has happened?” but no one replied. Finally someone told him, “Oh, this boy has gone.” Aṅgirā asked, “Where has he gone? When will he return?” That person replied, “He has gone to a place from where there is no return at all.”
Aṅgirā Ṛṣi then told the king and his associates, “All those who come to this world take birth, and one day they will have to die. This is the rotation of birth and death; so don’t be unhappy. Rather, try to perform bhajana.”
When Aṅgirā Ṛṣi completed his instructions, Nārada Muni initiated the king into sacred Vedic mantras. Nārada then brought the departed soul of the boy back into his dead body and requested him to speak to everyone present, immediately after which the son spoke about the philosophy of the soul. Thus enlightened by the instructions of the brāhmaṇas Aṅgirā and Nārada, King Citraketu became fully aware of spiritual knowledge. As an elephant becomes free from a muddy reservoir of water, King Citraketu came out of the dark well of material family life.
This narration is from the Sixth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and there is another narration, found in the Eleventh Canto, which illustrates a similar truth. In the Eleventh Canto it is stated that there was a pair of pigeons who had many babies. One day the pigeon parents went to the forest to collect some food for their children and themselves. While in the forest they sat on a branch of a tree, under which there was very green grass. They were remembering their marriage ceremony and other amorous pastimes, and they were very happily kissing each other with their beaks.
Just then, the she-pigeon saw several grains of pearl-like rice on the grass, and she said, “O my beloved, let us go and pick up these grains of rice.” The male pigeon replied, “There is no businessman or farmer around. From where has this rice come? Don’t go. It is someone’s trap. A hunter may capture you in his trap.” The she-pigeon said, “I think you are wrong,” and flew down to pick up the grains of rice.
At that moment, lurking behind a tree, was a black hunter, very tall and fearsome. The hunter pulled a string, and the female pigeon became entrapped in a net that fell down upon her. The female pigeon now began to weep bitterly. The male pigeon saw this and exclaimed, “My wife has been caught in the hunter’s trap! He will kill her!” Overwhelmed with worry, he flew near to that trap, weeping. He considered, “God is very cruel. Why am I not dead in that trap, with my wife outside? My wife can support our children, but I cannot.”
While the father pigeon was fully absorbed in weeping, the hunter, from behind the tree, took up his bow and arrow, and shot and killed him. Clapping, that hunter came and took the dead body of the male pigeon, pulled the she-pigeon out from under the net, tied their legs together, and carried them to his home. And what did he do there?
Brajanāth dāsa: He cooked them.
Śrīpāda Dāmodara Mahārāja: Kentucky Fried.
Śrīla Gurudeva: He cooked them with some vegetables, and then ate them.
Death is always on our head. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow, in five years, in ten years, in a hundred years, or in 125 or 150 years, you will have to die. It is therefore imperative to know who you really are.
You are not your body. You are eternal souls, the eternal servants of Lord Kṛṣṇa. You have forgotten Kṛṣṇa, and that is why you have come to this world. The Supreme Lord is very merciful and has given you a human form – not for sense gratification, but only to realize your true identity. If you miss the opportunity of this human life without realization of soul and Supersoul, you will have to again enter the rotation of birth and death as dogs, pigs, and hogs; and it may be millions upon millions of births before you will again attain this human form.
The wise and intelligent perform bhajana. Try to know who you really are, who the Supersoul is, who has created this world, and the personal nature of that Supreme Creator. The Supreme Lord has form. In the Old Testament of the Bible it has been written, “God created man after His own image.” He is very beautiful, and that is why mankind has beauty – after His image.
So, my request is that if you want to be happy in this world, you must try to realize these truths. Find a qualified guru and try to engage in sādhana, spiritual practices, under his guidance. In this way you will soon be liberated from the bondage of this world, and you will become happy forever.
Śrīla Gurudeva: [To Prema-vilāsa dāsa] Oh, you are here?
Brajanāth dāsa: Prema-vilāsa prabhu will come to India.
Śrīla Gurudeva: [To Prema-vilāsa dāsa] When are you coming?
Prema-vilāsa dāsa: Janmāṣṭamī.
Śrīla Gurudeva: Are you translating something?
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: He is going to school.
Śrīla Gurudeva: For…?
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: For learning.
Śrīla Gurudeva: Learning bhakti?
Prema-vilāsa dāsa: Psychology.
Śrīla Gurudeva: Psychology will not save you.
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: He is learning both.
Brajanāth dāsa: Your daughter Prabhā is here.
Śrīla Gurudeva: Ah, yes.
Brajanāth dāsa: She brought her sister.
Śrīla Gurudeva: Your sister?
Prabhā dāsī: And my brother-in-law.
Śrīla Gurudeva: Very good. They must do bhajana. There is no time to lose. There is no certainty when death will come; it is dancing on our head.
Are there any questions?
Yaśodānanda dāsa: Some of the beautiful people of your company [Ready2Invest] have come. This is Tanya, Vira, Ruby, Binko, and Lee. Seeing you, everyone has become very shy.
Anaṅga-mohinī dāsī: Some of the people who have been coming to our weekly programs are also here to meet you. Juliet is here, and Garret, Anushya, Kamara, and Aila.
Brajanāth dāsa: They are from the Gaṅgāmātās.
Śrīla Gurudeva: The Gaṅgāmātās have gone to Italy?
Gaṅgāmātā: Kamala has left, and the rest are leaving on Saturday. They all send their praṇāmas to you.
Śrīla Gurudeva: I am very happy that the Gaṅgāmātās are preaching and doing book distribution. I am very, very happy.
Brajanāth dāsa: Rāma, the son of Nikuñja, is here.
Śrīla Gurudeva: [To Nikuñja dāsī] He was in Badger? What is he doing now?
Nikuñja dāsī: He is in school here in England.
Śrīla Gurudeva: In what class?
Nikuñja dāsī: Eighth class.
Śrīla Gurudeva: Oh, very good. [To Rāma dāsa] But you must chant. You will be happy by that. Chant some rounds daily; even one, two, or three rounds will suffice. Studying alone will not save or protect you.
Yaśasvinī dāsī: This is Hari-priya dāsī. She is a disciple of Śrīla Bhakti-vaibhava Purī Mahārāja. She has a question.
Hari-priya dāsī: I am sorry that this is not a very elevated question. In the Bhagavad-gītā it says that if one tries to perform devotional service and doesn’t succeed, in his next birth he takes birth in an aristocratic or wealthy family, or in a Vaiṣṇava family. If a devotee is trying to practice but he isn’t fully pure when he leaves his body, does he keep taking birth again and again in a Vaiṣṇava family?
Śrīla Gurudeva: If he continues his bhakti but could not achieve perfection, he will take birth in such a family.
Hari-priya dāsī: If we are not perfect at the time of death, how many times will we take birth again in a Vaiṣṇava family?
Śrīla Gurudeva: It depends on one’s eagerness to do bhajana. Eagerness is required. If your bhajana is high-class, then you will very soon reach perfection. Otherwise, the process may take thousands of births.
Hari-priya dāsī: If one is trying to perform bhajana, will one always take a human birth?
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: Yes.
Śrīla Gurudeva: [To Rādhikā dāsī] What are you doing now?
Rādhikā dāsī: Teaching in London.
Śrīla Gurudeva: In a school?
Rādhikā dāsī: Yes, in London.
Gurudeva, my father has come. I am staying with him. Will you give him your mercy? He wants to take harināma initiation.
Śrīla Gurudeva: I will be happy to give him initiation.
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: He is advanced in age. He cannot come to Italy. So he is asking for harināma today.
Śrīla Gurudeva: When I go upstairs to my room, please bring him there and I will give him initiation. He is very fortunate. His life will be successful.
Śrīpāda Dāmodara Mahārāja: Gurudeva, this boy has already had three gurus who left.
Devotee: I am on my third one now.
Brajanāth dāsa: Two have left, and the third is still going on.
Śrīla Gurudeva: They left him, or he left them?
Devotee: My two previous gurus have fallen down, and after that I took re-initiation with the third one.
Brajanāth dāsa: He wants to take dīkṣā.
Śrīla Gurudeva: Why not take from your present guru?
Devotee: I don’t think he can give me kṛṣṇa-prema.
Śrīla Gurudeva: Can you get his permission?
Devotee: It is better if I can get it, but I don’t know if he will give it.
Śrīla Gurudeva: If he will give permission, that is okay; and even if not, still you can come to me.
[To Prema-vilāsa dāsa] Prema-vilāsa prabhu, why are you not translating anything?
Prema-vilāsa dāsa: I think I’m a little lazy.
Brajanāth dāsa: He is very qualified.
Śrīla Gurudeva: I want your help again. You made me world famous by the books you translated.
Brajanāth dāsa: Bhakti-rasāyana, Going Beyond Vaikuṇṭha, and Nectar of Govinda-līlā.
Śrīla Gurudeva: They are very attractive and easy to read. My desire is that you will translate and publish some books again.
Prema-vilāsa dāsa: Your wish is my command.
Śrīpāda Dāmodara Mahārāja: Maybe he can help us with Mādhurya-kadambiṇī. We need so much help with that. We need someone to check the Hindi. The Hindi is very hard.
Śrīla Gurudeva: You can give it to him and he will check it. This is his sevā.
Tarunī dāsī: I have read in Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s Jaiva-dharma that a kaniṣṭha-adhikārī chants Hare Kṛṣṇa occasionally, a madhyama-adhikārī chants constantly, and an uttama-adhikārī induces others to chant by his mere presence. Is he talking about pure nāma, or nāma-ābhāsa (a semblance of pure nāma)? Is a kaniṣṭha-adhikārī who is chanting nāma-aparādha (chanting nāma with offenses) a kaniṣṭha as well, or is not even kaniṣṭha yet?
Śrīla Gurudeva: A kaniṣṭha-adhikārī is full of unwanted desires in his heart, so his chanting is nāma-aparādha; sometimes there may be a tinge of nāma-ābhāsa, but it is always nāma-aparādha. Those who think “I am this body” always chant nāma-aparādha. A madhyama-adhikārī chants nāma-ābhāsa, and an uttama-adhikārī chants the pure name.
[Upstairs, after the darśana, where an initiation is just about to take place and some guests have come to request initiation.]
Guest: I would like to take initiation.
Brajanāth dāsa: Are you following the four regulative principles?
Guest: No, I drink and smoke.
Śrīla Gurudeva: Then I will not give initiation. How can I help you if you are smoking? I cannot help you.
[To a guest] Are you strong in bhakti, or not? If not, you cannot be happy. You are weak. You must have strong belief in bhakti, otherwise you will be like ordinary people. If you cannot chant or engage in other devotional practices, then what can I do?
Guest: I am not weak. I am still chanting. I have been chanting for six years.
Śrīla Gurudeva: But your family is disturbing you and making problems for you. Don’t fear them. Go on chanting. They cannot help you. Only the holy name can help you. Have strong belief in this.
[To another guest who wants to take harināma initiation] Why are you wearing rudrākṣa beads? We wear tulasī beads. There is no need to wear rudrākṣa. Good blood circulation, purification of your heart, and kṛṣṇa-bhakti all come by wearing tulasī.
1 A kalaśa is a golden colored waterpot. Its presence on a gate or building is considered an auspicious sign.
2 Śrāddha is a ceremony in honor of and for the benefit of deceased relatives, in which the forefathers are offered piṇḍa. Generally, piṇḍa is an offering of small balls of rice cooked in milk with black sesame, ghee, and honey. The offering is made to the deceased and his forefathers, in order for the deceased to attain a body suitable for enjoyment in Pitṛloka.
[Excerpted from the Gaudiya Vedanta Publication “Walking With a Saint 2009”]