“svätma-våttaà mayetthaà te
suguptam api varëitam
bhavän hi bhagavat-paraù”
A learned powerful person must realize that the material existence is illusion. This is only possible by self realization. A self realized person, who has actually seen the truth, should retire from all material activities, being situated in self realization. Prahläda Mahäräja, you are certainly a self-realized soul and a devotee of the Supreme Lord. You do not care for public opinion or so-called scriptures. For this reason I have described to you without hesitation the history of my self-realization.
A person who is actually a devotee of Krsña does not care about so-called public opinion and Vedic or philosophical literatures. Prahläda Mahäräja, who is such a devotee, always defied the false instructions of his father and the so-called teachers who were appointed to teach him. Instead, he simply followed the instructions of Närada Muni, his guru, and thus he always remained a stalwart devotee. This is the nature of an intelligent devotee. The Srimad-Bhägavatam instructs, “yajnaih sankirtana-präyair yajanti hi sumedhasah” [SB 11.5.32]. One who is actually very intelligent must join the Krsna consciousness movement, realizing his own self as an eternal servant of Krsna, and thus practice constant chanting of the holy name of the Lord—Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
It takes one to know one
We have many shastrik references which explain the qualities, attributes of the self realized soul. And if we are sincere due to our great desire to approach Krishna,
håd-deçe ‘rjuna tiñöhati
Krishna within the heart, directs us to the great soul, to their lotus feet. But factually, the only person who could truly know the real qualities of self realized soul, is a self realized soul?
We may study the shastra and get all the information, who is a self realized soul? But factually it is only by the causeless mercy of Krishna that we can ever attained the lotus feet of such a great personality. It is not due to our understanding the qualities. But if we do not strive to understand the qualities then Krishna will not take our sincerity very seriously. So, therefore, it is only by the causeless mercy of Krishna that we attain the guru. And it is only by the causeless mercy of guru that we attain Krishna. Sometimes people ask, so many people have so many interpretations of what a self realized soul is, and so many people have so many interpretations of what the scripture say what the self realized soul is, so who to believe. Ultimately, Krishna describes that one should receive His information, if he wants to be guaranteed, through the parampara system of the Lord. But ultimately, it is only by the mercy of Krishna. He is the source of all of our intelligence. But in truth it takes one to know one. One who is actually seeing Krishna can understand in truth who else is seeing Krishna. So here this great brähmaëa Avadhuta, he understands due to his own self realization, he understands through realization the glorious infinite qualities of Prahlada Maharaja. And he is speaking here very deeply. His praise of Prahlada is not based on some superficial characteristics that Prahalad Maharaja may posses. He is explaining to Prahalada that you are a self realized soul and you are a true devotee of Lord. Why? Because you have no false ego. Because you do not care about public opinion and you care less about the various apparent contradictions of the scriptures. You are simply fixed in the service of your spiritual master and you are simply fixed in the glorification of Sri Krishna.
Spiritual advancement not based on material qualification
This is really the criterion that the advanced devotees see in others. We have been explaining this principle very often in our classes, because it is the most important principle. We have to understand what Krishna Consciousness is and what Krishna Consciousness is not. There are very few devotees, who even understand this. Generally, because we are so externally oriented, we consider a person’s material qualifications to be a sign of spiritual advancement. But factually material qualifications have nothing to do with spiritual advancement. Spiritual advancement is being explained by the Avadhuta brähmaëa in this verse. A neophyte person sees oh! this person is very good singer he must be so advanced. But there are so many good singers, who are completely puppets in the hands of maya. Or someone may think, oh! this person is such good cook, must be very spiritually advanced. But how many good cooks are there at Tajmahal Hotel. They do not even know ‘what is Krishna’ or ‘Who is Krishna’. They are simply cooking for money. Or someone is thinking oh! this person is so brilliant and intelligence, must be very spiritually advanced. But how many professors and how many politicians are manipulating the world with their intelligence. And many of them are demoniac, what to speak of spiritual advancement? Another may think ‘O this person is so successful, this must be a sign of his spiritual advancement. But by material standards how many successful people are there in America, in Europe, and they are all addicted to all sinful activities. Oh, this person is so pious; he must be very spiritually advanced. But piety is simply a mode of goodness. Mode of goodness leads to another birth in this material world. So you see, immature people, they are considering devotees by their material qualification to be very advanced and they take shelter of such persons. But to the degree a devotee actually is spiritually advanced, to the degree a person captures what is the essence of self realization, he confirms what this great soul is here expressing. Because he has seen and considered the whole world, this man. He has seen the all material qualifications. And he has completely rejected them all. Avadhuta brahmana is describing how he has gone through the cities, he has gone through the towns, he has gone through the villages, he has gone through the agricultural fields, he has lived in the forest, he has lived in the jungles, he has seen everything, and he has tried everything. By performing tapasya, austerities he has challenged his own false ego, he has challenged his senses and his mind, all the external coverings that are inflicted upon his soul. His realization is, “Prahalad, I adore you, I worship you, and I love you”, because I know you are a self realized soul. Because you do not care for public opinion or so called contradiction of the scriptures. In another words because Prahalad you have no false ego.
Our eternal position – to be servant of the servant of the Lord
Although Lord Narashima deva personally incarnated just to protect you, although Lord Narahari Himself, personally put you on the throne of the universe and although Brahma, Siva, Indra, Vayu, Surya, Varuna, and Candra – all the greatest, most exalted personalities in the entire universe – they all came to worship you and perform the auspicious ceremony to make you the King of the universe, you never considered yourself to have any qualifications, whatsoever. You always considered yourself to be the most insignificant unworthy servant of the servant of the servant of the servant. From the bottom of your heart you are considering everything to be the mercy of God. You never expected anything from anyone. You are always the humble servant of all living creatures. Because you have that qualification, I see you spiritually advanced. Without that qualification, whatever you have, the great soul like this brähmaëa will not take you very seriously, spiritually. How can it? Everything else is coming and going, coming and going, but the desire to be the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant is our eternal constitutional position. So this quality of Prahlada which is most exalted of all his qualities, is here being glorified by the Avadhuta brähmaëa.
Real goal of our spiritual disciplines
We must understand what it is that we should be looking for, when we want to take shelter of a devotee of the Lord. Then we should also know very clearly, what it is within ourselves that has to be purified and rectified. What is the real goal of our spiritual disciplines in life, to become the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant, and not to become great. A devotee does not want to become great. The devotee wants to make Krishna great. A devotee wants to make his spiritual master known for their greatness. That’s all. The devotee is empty of any desire for his own aggrandizement. And therefore Krishna will always test His devotees. And those tests for the advanced devotee, they only glorify their greatness and for a neophyte devotee those very tests give him a proper understanding of what Krishna Consciousness should be. Every morning we pray “väïchä-kalpatarubhyaç ca kåpä-sindhubhya eva ca, patitänäà pävanebhyo vaiñëavebhyo namo namaù” The devotees are like the desire trees, because they fulfill all our desires, they are full of compassion for the conditioned souls. It is Krishna through the devotees, that He is showing His compassion. So sometimes we think, why is this devotee dealing with me in this way? The fact is, if he is a vaisnava, he is simply an instrument in Krishna’s hands to purify your heart. That’s why he is dealing with you in that way, it is not him, it is Krishna. He is a desire tree. If you have a desire to become Krishna Consciousness, he has come to fulfill your desire.
Pure Devotee never gets disturbed
Try to understand Prabhupada’s position. Here he was, at the age of 70 he traveled all the way to the United States of America simply to fulfill the order of the spiritual master, because his guru maharaja had the burning desire that the people of the west be given a chance to understand Lord Caitanya’s message. So he risked his life, he risked his everything; he accepted such hardships and inconvenience to go there. And then he finally got there, he saw that this is such a degraded civilization, everyone is utterly stuck in the modes of passion and ignorance. How I am possibly be going to bring them to the platform of becoming a pure vaisnavas? How am I going to possibly give them understanding of brahmanical culture? Therefore he had to adjust many rules and regulations just to give Krishna Consciousness to these people. He gave brahmanical initiation to those who are born in the families of mlechhas and yavanas. He even gave sannyas initiation to such persons. And when he came back to India, of course many people could understand his glory and they were giving him great respect, but there was another class of men who simply had nothing but the stones of blaspheming to throw at him. Saying “what is this nonsense man, he is ruining the Vedic culture, he is initiating the mlechas and yavanas with the sacred thread. He is giving the Holy Name to people who are undeserving. He is giving sannyas to people who are not born in brahmana families. Not only that, he is allowing men to live in the same building with women. Not only that but he is performing marriage ceremonies as a sannyasi. They had nothing but criticism for him. What to speak about untrue things they said about him? And Prabhupada said in this regard, He said “the dogs would bark but the caravan will carry on”. He did not care. He prayed for the soul of these unfortunate persons. He was undisturbed.
Example : People criticizing Jesus christ
Lord Jesus Christ and His followers, my god, what they said about them? This is a fact, this is in history books. I have seen. When Jesus Christ and his apostles, they would have meetings, there was a class of priests, who were against them, they would say that they are coming together to have illicit sex and horrible parties based on horrible sinful activities. The people in general said what! they are doing like that. But to sincere Krishna will protect. So this is historically always the case.
Therefore, a devotee who is disturbed by true or untrue things that is said about him, according to the Avadhuta brähmaëa, is not very much to be taken seriously, as an advanced devotee. A devotee is simply fixed in glorifying Krishna. A devotee will give his life to defend another vaisnava. But he only will give a second to defend himself self. Because a devotee knows that as soon as pride enters into his heart nothing he does has any flavor to Krishna.
Story of Vasudeva – compassion for other living entities
In this story the principle is very nicely illustrated in the Madhya lila of Caitanya-caritamrita, where Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was traveling to South-India. And he was staying in the home of the Kurma brähmaëa. Now He stayed there for several days and some distance away there was a devotee who was suffering due to a severe infliction of leprosy. This devotee was very anxious to just get a moment’s darshan of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. So he came to where Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was. When he got to the place of kurmakestra he found that Caitanya Mahaprabhu had already left. So he was feeling greatly unfortunate, due to his sinful activities he missed this opportunity. But of course, please understand, it is not by our own material attains that we can ever attain the darshan of Sri Krishna or great souls. It is only by the causeless mercy. Lord Caitanya knew the heart of this devotee and therefore he reversed his travel and came back to that place. This devotee was so humble that he did not consider anything of himself. He only considered how he could serve others. Even the most least insignificant creatures, he put those living entities before himself in every respect. And how did he show this? It is easy to talk about it, but to actually perform sacrifice for the sake of others, that is the test. Anybody can give nice dissertation describing how we should be very compassionate and we should be very selfless, but who is actually willing to do it. Who is actually willing to suffer to help others? Vasudeva, due to his advanced condition of leprosy, he had just uncountable worms eating away his body, and when one of those worms would fall to the ground Vasudeva would think so much compassion to that worm – how he will survive, how will he eat? So he would pick up that worm with great care and place it back on his body. Thinking, this body is not meant for me, this body is meant for you to enjoy. So come back. This was to the degree he was compassionate to the least most and insignificant creatures, and he was willing to suffer and sacrifice his very life for those worms. We are talking about true story. This is the reality of consciousness of such great souls and this is the extent of their humility.
When he came to meet Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu he felt oh! my Lord, you are so kind. I do not deserve to have your association. But you are just so merciful (patita pavana) even to the most fallen, look at how sinful I am. And he began to offer beautiful prayers to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. And then Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to embrace him. And Vasudev was feeling very ashamed. How can the Lord embrace me with this body, which is full of sores, full of pus and full of blood and full of worms and full of disease? But you see Krishna does not see the external appearance of anything. Krishna only sees the humble devotion. Therefore he embraced the body of Vasudeva and instantly upon the touch of Lord all of his leprosy vanished. And his deformed horrible body became munificent and effulgent like that of a demigod.
Pride ruins devotion
Now you would think when you are suffering in such a condition, obviously very close on the path to death, if you are healed you are going to feel very happy. Would you not? Just like, many times we have seen, in the west there are Christian healers and they actually have mystic powers, and people who have had diseases for long, long times and suffering for long times, bring them up on the stage and they say “Lord heal this person” and the person just throws his crutches away and he starts dancing. And that person so happy, haaa just see the Lord has healed me, now again, I can work, I can play, I can do everything. He is very happy. So when a person is in a desperate miserable suffering condition and is relieved from that condition, generally they feel very grateful and very happy. The Vasudeva was in the most extreme condition of suffering. And when he was healed he did not feel happy. He felt afraid. He said “my dear Lord just see the mercy I have received from you”. You have healed me form such a disease. Now what’s going to happen is I am going to become famous. Every where I go people are going to recognize me as ‘vasudevamritaparadh’ – Vasudev who received the life giving nectar of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Who is the recipient of such special mercy of the Lord. Now, my lord if I start thinking I am special to you, than I am going to get proud. And if pride enters into my heart, for any reason, then my entire service to you is spoiled, it is meaningless. It’s useless. I would rather be suffering and inflicted by being eaten by millions of worms in a condition near death with leprosy understanding my humble position and offering you service then have a beautiful golden body being praised by others and being proud that I am an advanced devotee. So, my Lord, with tears in my eyes I am praying, how in this condition of receiving such special benediction from you, can I be free from pride which will ruin everything. Then Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu told him that you always chant the holy name “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. And who ever you meet you be their humble servant by telling them about Krishna Consciousness. Through this humble service you will never be inflicted by the greatest enemy, the greatest disease of pride. See, leprosy is not a very serious disease because it is simply something that temporarily inconveniences with body. But pride is the most serious disease, because it infects the very essence of the existence of the soul. It keeps you away from Krishna. So therefore, those personalities who have overcome this great obstacle they are worshipable by all living beings. And Krishna, so kindly, will put us in predicaments to facilitate; first of all, we see how much pride is within our heart. And He also puts us in that situation so that we can have the opportunity to overcome it by becoming the humble servant in that predicaments.
Compassion of a pure soul
Another most illustrious example was Lord Nityananda. When Jagai and Madai were approached by Him, they simply insulted Him. They were saying the most horrible blaspheming words about Him. Not only verbally but they considered him such a low class fool that they took a pot and smashed His head with it. a blow that should have killed Him. Lord Nityananda did not feel that they had committed any offence to Him. In fact Lord Nityananda was simply praying for their salvation. But Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he was very angry. He was ready to kill them. He called the Sudarshan Chakra and His eyes red like hot coals He was about to give them their ticket to the abode of Yamraja. But Lord Nityananda said “no, no my Lord please be kind upon them, give them mercy, forgive them, as I have forgiven. This is the quality of the great souls. They can accept any amount of personal abuse but they cannot tolerate seeing another devotee being abused. Of course a neophyte devotee, when he is abused he becomes very offended and starts abusing others, even if they are devotees. That is the tendency within all of us, isn’t it? We feel ourselves abused, so we just want to abuse others, and we feel perfectly justified for doing that. This is not the way Lord Nityananda has taught us. He was willing to accept the worst abuse and simply pray for the welfare and be the servant of those who abused him.
But that same Lord Nityananda and Caitanya Mahaprabhu also, when Ramachandra Puri came to Jagannath Puri and he simply made so many lies about Lord Caitanya, untrue things. He said, Lord Caitanya is simply overeating, he is a sense enjoyer, He is a bogus useless sannyasi and He would just take things out of contacts. People would cook for Lord Caitanya, although He was a sannyasi, He thought I have to reciprocate with my devotees. I have to accept their offerings. As a sannyasi may be I should not, but I have to do it. So they would cook for Him, they were so anxious to give Him their love through their preparations and He would go there and He would eat, out of humility, out of service, out of compassion for them. And this Ramacandra Puri came in and said “nonsense, useless sannyasi, look He is eating opulent food. Sannyasi should only eat just remnant of rice. So Lord Caitanya said alright from now you just give me a hand full or rice. And even after that one day he saw some ants in His room. He said “just see these nonsense ants”. Basically a fault finder will just find the slightest excuse to confirm that this person is a rascal. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, his devotees, they were just ready to do just anything to this Ramachandra puri. Lord Caitanya said, “no no he is my senior, I am his servant, he is a respectable person to me. We must offer him always respect. And at the same time Caitanya Mahaprabhu was a very humble, yes I will correct. He will never even defend himself, but when someone criticizes His devotees, His eyes were like red fire and took His Sudarshan chakra and ready to kill them. This is because He is really the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant. He had no false pride. He was willing to accept all abuse like a tree.
“tåëäd api sunécena
taror api sahiñëunä
kértanéyaù sadä hariù”
Caitanya Mahaprabhu has taught us that we should expect absolutely no respect for oneself that offer all respect to others, according to what they deserve. This is a most important instruction that Caitanya Mahaprabhu has given. He claims this verse is the most important of all verses. To be more humble than the grass, to be more tolerant than the tree, to offer all respect to others and expect none to one self. So we have to understand that this is the real Krishna Consciousness means. And we have to evaluate in our own selves this is the real qualifications that makes my service pleasing to Krishna. And in others we have to understand that although I am the servant of all vaishnavas, the real vaishnavas who are worshipable and advanced, could be the simple illiterate sweeper of the temple floor. If he has these qualities, he is most advanced. But if he has a big, big position with power and control and he does not have these spiritual qualities, I will offer him all respect to that vaishnava, but I’ll not take very seriously his spiritual advancement. Because spiritual advancement means, being the humble servant of the servant of the servant of the servant. There is no other qualification, that is pleasing to Krishna. Everything else is like so many zeros. Unless that humble service attitude which is the ‘ONE’ that is placed before these zeros, all those zeros have no meaning and no value to Krishna, or to the advanced devotees who are his servants.
So the verse today we are reading explains, “Prahläda Mahäräja, you are certainly a self-realized soul and a devotee of the Supreme Lord. You do not care for public opinion or so-called scriptures. For this reason I have described to you without hesitation the history of my self-realization”. We see because this great brähmaëa could see the glorious humility in Prahlada Maharaja, there was naturally an intimacy. And in that intimacy he felt very free to reveal the most confidential thoughts within his heart, to his friend. Actually the spiritual master, he reveals the true essence of Krishna Consciousness to his disciples, to the degree his disciple is submissive.