Friday, September 26, 2008

The Science of Bhakti


            Nowadays, the word ‘science’ is used in such a way that it seems to mean something modern, a fruit of fertile brains, cultivated over the centuries by innumerable speculative processes and able to produce computers, spacecrafts, etc. Factually, science is as old as the universe, or even older than it. From the analytical point of view, there are different sciences for each branch of knowledge, and therefore if we speak about God and religion, we must assume that there must be a particular science that deals with these matters. This is called bhakti, and it is not just a branch, but the real science, and we may understand it by hearing from a book of science: Srimad-Bhagavatam, as it was spoken by the greatest scientist, Lord Kapiladeva.


            The word ‘science’ has its origin in the Greek language, and it means ‘awakeness’ or ‘knowledge’. The Sanskrit word for science is ‘vijnana,’ or ‘visesa-jnana,’ special knowledge, and because bhakti is the most special kind of knowledge, it is the supreme science per excellence and is thus defined:


sri-bhagavan uvaca

yoga adhyatmikah pumsam

mato nihsreyasaya me

atyantoparatir yatra

duhkhasya ca sukhasya ca


“The Personality of Godhead answered: The yoga system which relates to the Lord and the individual soul, which is meant for the ultimate benefit of the living entity, and which causes detachment from all happiness and distress in the material world, is the highest yoga system.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.25.13



In the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.1.12), it is also stated:



tat-paratvena nirmalam

hrsikena hrsikesa-

sevanam bhaktir ucyate


            "Bhakti, or devotional service, means engaging all our senses in the service of the Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the master of all the senses. When the spirit soul renders service unto the Supreme, there are two side effects. One is freed from all material designations, and, simply by being employed in the service of the Lord, one's senses are purified."

                From the word ‘science’ comes the word ‘conscience,’ ‘with science,’ implying that for science to exist, there must be one who understands or experiences science, in other words, a conscious being. For each scientific area there is a prominent expounder, so if we say that bhakti is the supreme science, its propounder must be the supreme conscious being by definition, as enunciated in the Katha Upanisad (2.2.13):


nityo'nityanam cetanas cetananam

eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman

tam atmastham ye'nupasyanti dhiras

tesam santih sasvatam netaresam


“There is one eternal being among many eternal beings, one sentient being among many sentient beings, Who fulfils their desires. The wise who meditate on Him situated within the heart attain everlasting cessation of material existence, and not others.”


And this is the position of Lord Kapiladeva: He is ‘ajah,’ ‘bhagavan’ (SB 3.25.1), the greatest of all yogis and the supreme knower of the Vedas (SB 3.25.2), ‘adyah,’ ‘isvarah,’ the original Lord Who comes here to dissipate the darkness of the universe SB 3.25.9), and because He is paramatma, He knows everything that happens in all spheres of existence.


            In the materialistic scientific circles, nobody gets distinction and renown unless he is recognized as a great genius, a giver of valuable contributions to humanity. To corroborate the authority of the Supreme Lord, Srimad-Bhagavatam presents an elaborate description of the creation and the material nature as a wonderful device made by Krishna to fulfil the desires of all living entities. Thus Krishna is actually not only the biggest scientist and genius but also the greatest contributor to humanity and all species of life, for He is the one who is providing everything, even the brains of the so-called scientists. He is not just a creator and supplier, but being our ever-well-wisher, He Himself comes to teach us this supreme science for our benefit. Even if we don’t care for Him, He does care for us. This yoga system taught by the Lord is the most ancient (SB 3.25.14), and due to a long lapse of time, it became lost in human society (SB 3.25.37).


            When we analyse one drop of sea water we understand the quality of the whole ocean. Similarly, by understanding the spiritual nature of the individual soul, we understand the nature or quality of God. By analysing His creation with all its elements through the process of sankhya-yoga, one may ultimately understand that he is something distinct from these material ingredients. But still after understanding the spiritual existence of the soul and God, one has to understand how God is quantitatively different:


mad-bhayad vati vato 'yam

suryas tapati mad-bhayat

varsatindro dahaty agnir

mrtyus carati mad-bhayat


“It is because of My supremacy that the wind blows, out of fear of Me; the sun shines out of fear of Me, and the lord of the clouds, Indra, sends forth showers out of fear of Me. Fire burns out of fear of Me, and death goes about taking its toll out of fear of Me.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.25.42


Only after understanding both the quality and the quantity of the Lord, one may appreciate a particular relation with Him as a friend, relative, son, preceptor, benefactor and Supreme Deity (SB 3.25.38). This stage, however, is not easily attainable to the conditioned souls due to their being absorbed in the material nature since time immemorial. Therefore, one has to submit himself to a scientific process to be reinstated in one’s original, spiritual position, and for this purpose, the process must be necessarily spiritual. An example of improper means is how in the sixties, the idea of getting transcendental experiences through drugs was almost a fashion. Srila Prabhupada, however, strongly refuted all this nonsense as being illogical, for by no material means can one have access to bonafide spiritual feelings.


            As science comprehends both thesis and experiment, in the spiritual field we do not have only philosophy, but also a whole process of practice that may involve one’s life in all its aspects. This process does not depend only on one’s ability, but it is essentially dependent on the help of those who are advanced in this path:


satam prasangan mama virya-samvido

bhavanti hrt-karna-rasayanah kathah

taj-josanad asv apavarga-vartmani

sraddha ratir bhaktir anukramisyati


“In the association of pure devotees, discussion of the pastimes and activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is very pleasing and satisfying to the ear and the heart. By cultivating such knowledge one gradually becomes advanced on the path of liberation, and thereafter he is freed, and his attraction becomes fixed. Then real devotion and devotional service begin.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.25.25


And the way this process works on the polluted consciousness is also described:


arayaty asu ya kosam

nigirnam analo yatha


“Bhakti, devotional service, dissolves the subtle body of the living entity without separate effort, just as fire in the stomach digests all that we eat.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.25.33


Another example may be given: just as the pulp within a coconut may detach itself even while remaining inside it, similarly by the process of devotional service, one’s subtle body is dissolved and thus one becomes jivan-mukta, liberated even while living in the material body, and finally one attains the real goal of bhakti:


asevayayam prakrter gunanam

jnanena vairagya-vijrmbhitena

yogena mayy arpitaya ca bhaktya

mam pratyag-atmanam ihavarundhe


“Thus by not engaging in the service of the modes of material nature but by developing Krsna consciousness, knowledge in renunciation, and by practicing yoga, in which the mind is always fixed in devotional service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, one achieves My association in this very life, for I am the Supreme Personality, the Absolute Truth.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.25.27


One who has gotten such a position must be recognized not by mundane votes, nor by show-bottle, but by evident symptoms:


titiksavah karunikah

suhrdah sarva-dehinam

ajata-satravah santah

sadhavah sadhu-bhusanah


“The symptoms of a sadhu are that he is tolerant, merciful and friendly to all living entities. He has no enemies, he is peaceful, he abides by the scriptures, and all his characteristics are sublime.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.25.21


            Now, one may argue that since most people are full of material desires and since one of the important elements in bhakti is detachment, it is not feasible for everyone. But this is not true:


atho vibhutim mama mayavinas tam

aisvaryam astangam anupravrttam

sriyam bhagavatim vasprhayanti bhadram

parasya me te 'snuvate tu loke

“Thus because he is completely absorbed in thought of Me, the devotee does not desire even the highest benediction obtainable in the upper planetary systems, including Satyaloka. He does not desire the eight material perfections obtained from mystic yoga, nor does he desire to be elevated to the kingdom of God. Yet even without desiring them, the devotee enjoys, even in this life, all the offered benedictions.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.25.37


Whether one is full of desires or has no desires, it does not matter, for nobody ever loses anything by dedicating himself to the Lord, but gains much more than he would obtain otherwise, as confirmed by the Lord :


vedesu yajnesu tapahsu caiva

danesu yat punya-phalam pradistam

atyeti tat sarvam idam viditva

yogi param sthanam upaiti cadyam


“A person who accepts the path of devotional service is not bereft of the results derived from studying the Vedas, performing sacrifices, undergoing austerities, giving charity or pursuing philosophical and fruitive activities. Simply by performing devotional service, he attains all these, and at the end he reaches the supreme eternal abode.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => Bg 8.28


While practicing this process, I myself could experience that two things happened: first, those desires I had, which were not conducive to spiritual life, were to some extent eradicated, without any separate endeavour to reject them; second, other desires were adjusted in Krishna consciousness in such a way as not to hamper either my spiritual or my material life. Other processes, however, have doubtful results, even after long practice. For example, I know people who practiced Hatha-yoga the whole life without any tangible result, except perhaps some health improvement…


            In the last five hundred years, Lord Caitanya’s sankirtana movement has been spoiled by fanatics, sentimentalists and even debauches who claim to be bhaktas. But being a scientific process, real bhakti will not appear unless one follows it strictly, just as a diseased man will not be cured unless he abides by a physician’s prescriptions. Srila Prabhupada points out the cause of such failures:


“Without knowledge, one cannot have realization.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.25.18, purport


But knowledge alone will also not do:


“Simply by theoretical knowledge or study one cannot make any appreciable advancement.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.25.25, purport


We have to practice sravana, kirtana, smarana, vandana, pada-sevana, arcana, dasya, sakhya and atma-nivedana with the direction and association of a sadhu. To learn science one needs the help of a great scientist, and Srila Prabhupada proved to be so by exhibiting all the symptoms of a sadhu, by presenting the most scientific books on bhakti and by thus giving everyone the chance to take part in this process anywhere and under any condition by experiencing his association through his books:


“Hearing or associating with devotees is the most important function for self-realization.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.25.27, purport


And he remarked that no one needs a degree stating one’s advancement, but that one may know it oneself by perceiving two things: how detached one is from material influence, and how attached one is to Krishna.


            Bhakti is not something theoretical, described in books of literature, nor a system of rituals to be performed mechanically. Bhakti is the very science of God and the self, and is the natural function of the soul. Bhakti is the real meaning of dharma. It is meant for all living entities and it is not limited by any material condition. By following the path of the acaryas, one engages in one’s eternal activity, in this world and the next:



bhakti-yogena yoginah

ksemaya pada-mulam me

pravisanty akuto-bhayam


“The yogis, equipped with transcendental knowledge and renunciation and engaged in devotional service for their eternal benefit, take shelter of My lotus feet, and since I am the Lord, they are thus eligible to enter into the kingdom of Godhead without fear.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.25.43




This essay was originally submitted for assessment in the second year of the Bhakti-vaibhava course at VIHE, third canto of Bhagavatam, on 23/09/03

Friday, September 19, 2008

Windows to the Spiritual World


             In different philosophical or religious systems, the conception of a perfect world is present. In ancient Greece, Plato spoke about the world of ideas, in which everything exists in its original, ideal form. A few centuries later, Jesus Christ preached about the kingdom of God. In modern times, materialistic philosophers like Marx tried to discard all the spiritual dimensions of the religious schools but still wanted to propose the creation of a wonderful world in this very same place and lifetime: Rama-rajya without Rama. In any case, this desire for a perfect situation is there. Now, if such a perfect place really exists somewhere, and we want to go there, then we must get, beforehand, all the required information: where it is, how far, how to get there, how much we shall spend, how the climate is, how the people are, what the government is like, etc.


            Srila Prabhupada often remarked that to admit God’s existence is not enough, for unless we have a clear conception, everything is very vague. Just like the following dialogue in which ‘A’ claims to know someone:


A: “I know a wonderful person, ‘C’.”

B: “What is ‘C’s name?”

A: “I don’t know.”

B: “Where does ‘C’ live?”

A: “I don’t know.”

B: “How does ‘C’ look like?”

A: “I don’t know.”

B: “Is ‘C’ a man, a woman, or something else than a human being?”

A: “I don’t know.”


At last, ‘B’ will start doubting that ‘A’ really knows ‘C,’’ that ‘C’ really exists, or that ‘C’ is a person. Fortunately, by accepting Lord Brahma’s words, we avoid a lot of useless speculations and obtain precise information:


ta ekada bhagavato


yayur vaikuntha-nilayam



“After thus traveling all over the universes, they (the four Kumaras) also entered into the spiritual sky, for they were freed from all material contamination. In the spiritual sky there are spiritual planets known as Vaikunthas, which are the residence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His pure devotees and are worshiped by the residents of all the material planets.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.15.13

            If we speak about a world of ideas, then we need an idealizer, and if we speak about a kingdom of God, then we have to understand that God is a king, and a king must be a person, along with his domains, servants, queens, associates, paraphernalia, etc. Therefore, Lord Brahma uses the word ‘bhagavan’ to describe the perfect ruler of that perfect place. As there is no difference between the Lord and His abode, both are called Vaikuntha. The word ‘kuntha’ means anxiety or ignorance, and vaikuntha means something free from anxiety and ignorance. As stated:


dhamna svena sada nirasta-kuhakam satyam param dhimahi


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 1.1.1


In the Supreme Absolute Truth and His abode, illusion is conspicuous by its absence, therefore whatever is produced from illusion is also absent. This is thus corroborated:


yatra cadyah puman aste

bhagavan sabda-gocarah

sattvam vistabhya virajam

svanam no mrdayan vrsah


“In the Vaikuntha planets is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the original person and who can be understood through the Vedic literature. He is full of the uncontaminated mode of goodness, with no place for passion or ignorance. He contributes religious progress for the devotees.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.15.15


            As explained in the Bhagavad Gita (15.1), this material world is compared to an upside-down banyan tree and whatever is seen here is but a perverted reflection of what exists in the spiritual world. So, while here we have the three modes of nature, in Vaikuntha there is only one mode: suddha-sattva. Here everything is composed of five gross elements and three subtle elements, but in Vaikuntha everything is made of sat, cit and ananda. By the sat element, there is no influence of time, and therefore no decay. By the cit element, everything there is conscious and personal (SB 3.15.16), even the stones and trees, and because they have consciousness, they experience ananda, unlimited bliss. The word ‘nanda’ means joy, but when this joy expands to the limits or beyond, then it is called ananda.


            The material universe is covered by several layers of matter, each one ten times thicker than the previous one. After the last layer is the Causal Ocean, where the universes are floating, and after it, the Brahma effulgence is situated, in the middle of which all Vaikuntha planets are found. Therefore, Lord Brahma says:


panthas tu koti-sata-vatsara-sampragamyo

vayor athapi manaso muni-pungavanam

so 'py asti yat-prapada-simny avicintya-tattve

govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami


“I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, only the tip of the toe of whose lotus feet is approached by the yogis who aspire after the transcendental and betake themselves to pranayama by drilling the respiration; or by the jnanis who try to find out the nondifferentiated Brahman by the process of elimination of the mundane, extending over thousands of millions of years.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => Bs 5.34


The idea is that if the great sages travel at the speed of the mind for many millions of years, still it would be difficult for them to reach the Supreme Lord in Vaikuntha. So what to speak of sputniks? But what is impossible by improper means can be easily accomplished by following the proper method. Some perfect yogis go to Vaikuntha simply by transferring their consciousness at the time of death. Other fortunate souls go in a spiritual airplane, while some very rare personalities may go on the back of Garuda. In any case, the ticket cannot be purchased by money, austerities, charity, sacrifices, or by studying the Vedas. Srila Prabhupada says:


“Actually, one cannot go to Vrndavana by purchasing a ticket. The process of going to Vrndavana is shown by Akrura.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => KB 38: Akrura's Arrival in Vrndavana


Of course, a special ticket may be acquired. The price list is given as follows:


krsna-bhakti-rasa-bhavita matih

kriyatam yadi kuto 'pi labhyate

tatra laulyam api mulyam ekalam

janma-koti-sukrtair na labhyate


"‘Pure devotional service in Krsna consciousness cannot be had even by pious activity in hundreds and thousands of lives. It can be attained only by paying one price— that is, intense greed to obtain it. If it is available somewhere, one must purchase it without delay.'"


>>> Ref. VedaBase => Madhya 8.70


Only by bhakti one can attain Vaikuntha. For this reason, the human body is so important and desired even by the demigods (SB 3.15.24), as it is specially projected to attain bhakti. In this age, the sankirtana movement of Lord Caitanya is offering everyone the best promotion: just chant Hare Krishna and go back home, back to Godhead:


kaler dosa-nidhe rajann

asti hy eko mahan gunah

kirtanad eva krsnasya

mukta-sangah param vrajet


“My dear King, although Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults, there is still one good quality about this age: Simply by chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, one can become free from material bondage and be promoted to the transcendental kingdom.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 12.3.51


So, what do the people in Vaikuntha look like and what are they doing?


vasanti yatra purusah

sarve vaikuntha-murtayah

ye 'nimitta-nimittena

dharmenaradhayan harim


“In the Vaikuntha planets all the residents are similar in form to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They all engage in devotional service to the Lord without desires for sense gratification.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.15.14


In Vaikuntha every word is a song, every step is a dance, and every day is a festival, “akhanditotsavam” (SB 3.19.31).


            Because Krishna is omnipotent, He can bring His own abode, Vrndavana, to this planet. Because His pure devotee is empowered by Him, Srila Prabhupada could expand Vrndavana around the world. Just as the Lord appeared in a suitable form, Varahadeva, to save the earth, in a similar way, He sent His confidential servant in a suitable form— a powerful preacher— to save us from the onslaughts of Kali by giving us windows to the spiritual world in the shape of books and temples. Once in Los Angeles, Srila Prabhupada said:


“Just like this temple. This temple is spiritual, Vaikuntha. It is not Los Angeles.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.27 -- Los Angeles, October 2, 1972


He used to say that the Americans look like “Vaikuntha-men” when they shave, dress in saffron robes, and put tilaka and kanthi-mala. He also often mentioned that once he met a Christian priest who told him that his disciples looked bright-faced, and also that people in general asked him if they were Americans. In fact, they are not anymore. Just by contacting the atmosphere in the temples they also became vaikuntha. I could experience this on the first occasion I visited the temple. As soon as I stepped inside, I felt as if fluctuating in the aroma of incense. The floor and the walls looked shining, and I wondered: “Which place is this?!” Finally, when I had the darsana of Lord Jagannatha, I definitely experienced a change in body and mind, at once and for good, just as it happened to the four Kumaras.


            Vaikuntha is  not an imagination, but it is proved by the great yogis:


pumsam gatim mrgayatam iha yoga-margair

dhyanaspadam bahu-matam nayanabhiramam

paumsnam vapur darsayanam ananya-siddhair

autpattikaih samagrnan yutam asta-bhogaih


“This is the form of the Lord which is meditated upon by the followers of the yoga process, and it is pleasing to the yogis in meditation. It is not imaginary but factual, as proved by great yogis. The Lord is full in eight kinds of achievement, but for others these achievements are not possible in full perfection.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.15.45


Vaikuntha is not something bogus or vague, but a reality, or even more, the Reality, although it cannot be perceived by mere deliberation (SB 3.16.37). Vaikuntha is a place, Vaikuntha is a consciousness,  Vaikuntha is a Person, and He is sabda-gocarah (SB 3.15.15), understood through the Vedic literature, and by hearing about Him one attains param anandam (SB 3.19.33) in this very lifetime, as Vidura did, and at the hour of death, one reaches Vaikuntha (SB 3.19.38). Those who desire to visit some place on this planet may go to the airport or bus stand, but those who want to go to Vaikuntha can do so just by approaching a Hare Krishna temple and looking through the windows of the spiritual world.



This essay was originally submitted for assessment during the second year of the Bhakti-vaibhava course at VIHE, third canto of Bhagavatam, on 06/09/03


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Krishna, the Reservoir of All Pastimes

            For everything that exists in the material world, there is an immediate cause, as well as a remote one. The immediate causes may be many, but ultimately the remote cause is only one— Krishna. Therefore, in the Taittiriya Upanisad, 2.7.1, it is stated:


                                                    raso vai sah


“The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the reservoir of all transcendental mellows.”


And this is also confirmed in the Vedanta Sutra, 1.1.12:


                                                anandamayo 'bhyasat


“By nature, the Supreme Lord is blissful”.


In this material world all activities are aimed towards rasa and ananda, and therefore are just a perverted reflection of those performed by Krishna, and to properly understand them, one has to know what His lilas are, what makes them different from our activities, what the process to obtain such knowledge is and wherefrom.


            The Sanskrit word ‘lila’ is a combination of two verbal roots: ‘li’, ‘to be devoted’, ‘to be attached’, ‘to be absorbed’, plus ‘la’, ‘to take’. Thus, ‘lila’ may be defined as “something that makes one to be absorbed or devoted.” When we speak about being devoted, three things are implied: he who devotes himself, the object of devotion, and devotion itself. Krishna and His lilas are of the same nature— sac-cid-ananda— and therefore to be absorbed in His lila is the same as being absorbed in Him. Here we find some of the purposes of the Lord’s advent:


ajasya janmotpatha-nasanaya

karmany akartur grahanaya pumsam

nanv anyatha ko 'rhati deha-yogam

paro gunanam uta karma-tantram


“The appearance of the Lord is manifested for the annihilation of the upstarts. His activities are transcendental and are enacted for the understanding of all persons. Otherwise, since the Lord is transcendental to all material modes, what purpose could He serve by coming to earth?”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.1.44


And this is further corroborated in the Caitanya Caritamrta:



sarvatra prakasa tanra -- bhakte sukha dite

jagatera adharma nasi' dharma sthapite


"The Lord is situated in all the universes in different forms just to please His devotees. Thus the Lord destroys irreligious principles and establishes religious principles.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => Madhya 20.219


When the Lord comes, He is called avatara, or “one who descends.” Compared to the lilas of all avataras, Krishna-lila is particularly special because Krishna is not an avatara, but the avatari, the fountainhead of all avataras:


ete camsa-kalah pumsah

krsnas tu bhagavan svayam

indrari-vyakulam lokam

mrdayanti yuge yuge


“All of the above-mentioned incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but Lord Sri Krsna is the original Personality of Godhead. All of them appear on planets whenever there is a disturbance created by the atheists. The Lord incarnates to protect the theists.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 1.3.28


When Lord Krishna appears, all His plenary portions also accompany Him (SB 3.2.15p) and to understand this point, Srila Prabhupada gives the following illustration:


“In grammar, when an adjective is taken away from the subject, the subject it modifies does not change. Similarly, when the Lord quits His virat-rupa, His eternal form does not change, although there is no material difference between Himself and any one of His innumerable forms.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.4.29, purport


Krishna is the original subject and the source of all adjectives, and He may adorn Himself with all different kinds of adjectives and again reject all of them, and even exist as the adjectiveless Brahman. Therefore in Krishna-lila we find the most exalted adjectives, just as in the Bhagavatam we find the most exalted alankaras, for they both are the Supreme. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam we see how anxious Vidura was to hear about Krishna and how pleased Uddhava was to narrate. They are living examples of the required qualification for Krishna consciousness: 1) one must be anxious to hear, 2) the speaker must be unaffected by the modes of material nature (SB 3.4.31 p).


            In SB 3.1.44, the basic distinction between the Lord and the conditioned soulsit is indicated: karmany akartuh, the Lord, even though acting, does not perform karma, as He Himself explained to Uddhava: paramam sthitim, His situation is transcendental. On the other hand, people in general are acting on the platform of karma-tantra, or in other words, they are completely entangled by the ropes of material nature, thus enjoying or suffering continually the reactions of their work.


            When the Lord displays His transcendental activities, the whole universe is benefited and attracted towards the ultimate reality, and even after His disappearance we still derive benefit through remembering, repeating and praising those pastimes. That acts in the consciousness of the conditioned soul as a therapy to recover our spiritual, original consciousness, just as a psychologist may cure a patient with lapse of memory by constantly telling him about his life.


            Unfortunately, the nitya-baddha-jivas are from time immemorial in this material environment, and for them to understand Krishna-lila is very difficult (SB 3.4.34) due to the cover spread by the modes of nature, particularly passion and ignorance. Indeed, only a devotee can understand:



daivadhinesu kamesu

daivadhinah svayam puman

ko visrambheta yogena

yogesvaram anuvratah


“Every living entity is controlled by a supernatural force, and thus his sense enjoyment is also under the control of that supernatural force. No one, therefore, can put his faith in Lord Krsna's transcendental sense activities but one who has become a devotee of the Lord by rendering devotional service.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.3.23


It so happened that even some of those who were in the presence of Krishna could not accept Him or His words (SB 3.1.9). Therefore, the Lord sends His touchstone devotees, such as Uddhava and Srila Prabhupada, who are even more merciful than the Lord Himself, so that through their touch even the most engrossed soul may be awakened to the spiritual dimension by chanting, hearing, taking prasada, etc. And once they are surrendered, they are beyond the reach of maya:


devasya mayaya sprsta

ye canyad asad-asritah

bhramyate dhir na tad-vakyair

atmany uptatmano harau


“Under no circumstances can the words of persons bewildered by the illusory energy of the Lord deviate the intelligence of those who are completely surrendered souls.”


>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.2.10


In logic, the veracity of an axiomatic aphorism is verified when its antithesis also proves to be true, and this can be demonstrated by a simple calculation: two plus two equals four. Now to see if the result is correct, we use the opposite operation: four minus two equals two. So either way we can verify it. In the same way, we may experience the absoluteness of Bhagavatam. The antithesis of the above verse would be: “Those who are not surrendered souls have their intelligence deviated by the words of persons who are bewildered by the illusory energy of the Lord.” And this is also true. The difference between both views is that the previous ones (the surrendered) can see both sides of this process, while the latter ones (the non-surrendered) cannot even ascertain their own position. But the great advantage of taking shelter at the lotus feet of a completely surrendered soul like Srila Prabhupada is that even though we may be far from being completely surrendered souls, still by his mercy we may also be able to remain in the unbewildered platform and thus break all mundane logical rules and someway appreciate Krishna’s pastimes.


            To explain Bhagavata, one must be Bhagavata, and to explain lila, one must live lila. Just as the Lord’s lila is not different from Him, His devotees’ lives are also lilas and non-different from Him. Srila Prabhupada’s life is an actual Lilamrta. We can see how even at the age of five he was leading ratha-yatra and worshipping Radha-Krishna deities. Along his life, Srila Prabhupada proved that in all respects he was fully Krishna conscious, and thus we may see Krishna-lila through Prabhupada-lila, for just as the Lord sent Uddhava to Badarikasrama, so that devotees could see Krishna through him, He also sent Srila Prabhupada to us, so that we may see Krishna through his life and purports.



This essay was originally submitted for assessment during the second year of the Bhakti Vaibhava course at VIHE, third canto of Bhagavatam, on 15-07-03