In this most congested and polluted city of Mumbai, many of us are faced everyday with so many challenges, which are threatening the very core and basis of our morality as well as our spiritual peace. Of course even due to long years of training and conditioning in living a life, which is religious are the mode of goodness. Many of us have children and friends and loved ones, who are facing this great challenge in life, Who you are associated with, let us face it the so called advancement civilization.
What is taking place here in the great cities of India, is threatening the very fiber of our civilization with uncontrolled sense gratification, cruelty and immorality and total disbanding of faith to the god.
Can one be elevated to higher planets?
In the sixth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam Maharaja Parikshita was thinking about this particular subject matter through his spiritual master Srila Sukadev Goswami. Here the questions that Goswamiji in the third canto has described, how by living according to the basic principles of Karma kanda, living in the mood of goodness, performing proper sacrifice, giving in charity, then according to these pious fruitive activities, one can be elevated to the higher planets. The heavenly planets where pleasures are far more beautiful and far more satisfying than what is known on this planet earth, for instance according to the sasthra, the planet of Chandra loka there you can live a life of over six thousand earthly years, where six months of our earthly time span is one day on the planet of Chandra. And there is no disease, there is no trouble. It is ultimately when your karma is exhausted you must die and come back to this earth. Similarly there is the planet of Lord Brahma the highest planet in this material existence for the most supremely be pious of all living beings. On that planet of Lord Brahma one can live the life span of several billions of our earthly years, where the pleasures and happiness are billions of times more gratifying to the senses than anything we ever experience on this earth. But Krishna says
punar ävartino ‘rjuna
mäm upetya tu kaunteya
punar janma na vidyate”
From the highest planet in this material world down to the lowest, all places are in full of miseries. Because ultimately wherever you go in this world you have to face death. In the fifth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam Sukadeva Goswami was describing those planets that are mostly accepted by sinful living entities. In lower or hellish planets in these conditions of life there is an insurmountable suffering that is utterly unbearable for the human body. When we are given a hellish body, you can somehow or other suffer and suffer and suffer and suffer but not die, and the pain is the result of your sins, you have to suffer for millions of the years.
How can one atone for ones sins?
Maharaja Parikshita was enquiring from Sukadeva Goswami that almost everyone in this world is accustomed to committing sinful activities, either knowingly or unknowingly. Now you have to describe these conditions of life, “explain to me how on can atone from one’s sinful activities and one cannot suffer?” Sukadeva Goswami explained that according to the “Manuhsmriti” the Manusahmita that every particular sinful action there is a particular type of atonement through fasting, through sacrifice, through pious actions, through giving him charity. In this way if you atone for all your sins before you die, then you clean all the sinful reactions. Maharaja Parikshita was listening very carefully. Then he responded, he said “Sukadeva Goswami Maharaja, I am very sorry that it seems to me that even if one atones for all his sins, if the seed of the desire for material enjoyment is still in the heart then again that person will commit sins. It is like an elephant they goes into the river and perfectly cleanses himself. And after being thoroughly cleansed, he comes out and rolled on the mud. What is the use of the bath? So similarly people in this world, although they are performing so many atonements for their sins, because of that spirit of enjoyment is still present in their heart, they commit sins again.”
It is a fact. In the western countries people go to the church on Saturday and Sunday and when they are in the church they have, what is called confession. When they go to the priest and they confess their sins. By confessing their sins and giving some donation to the church. They satisfy the priest and the priest gives them a certain type of atonement to perform. You chant some rosaries or something like that. In this way they are free from their sins. But then again on Monday they do the same thing again. What is the use of such a life? So Maharaja Parikshita, asks “What is the process by which one can relieve oneself from that seed of desire of sin within the heart”? Sukadeva Goswami replied that by always remembering the supreme lord, one become purified form within and without.” The Garuda purana explains “Om apavitra pavitrava sarvavstang gatopi yeh smare pundarikash” whether one is purified or not or even having passed through all situations of life, One who remembers the beautiful Supreme Personality of Godhead-Pundarishayam, whose eyes are like the lotus petals that person becomes purified from within and without. Sukadeva Goswami explains that by engaging in devotional activities and always chanting the name of the lord with sincere attention, all inclinations for selfish enjoyment which gives birth to sinful desires are cleansed from the heart. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said,
änandämbudhi-vardhanam prati-padam pürnämrtäsvädanam
sarvätma-snapanam param vijayate sri-krsna-sankirtanam”
Caitanya-caritamrita antya 20.12
That the chanting of the name of Sri Krishna, is the prime benediction upon all humanity. Why? Because it cleanses the heart of all impurities. He cleanses the heart of all sins and sinful desires. “änandämbudhi-vardhanaà prati-padaà pürëämåtäsvädanaà” when the heart cleanses all the sinful desires, then in a pure state the soul which is Satchidananda (eternal), full of knowledge and full of bliss ,like the obedient morning sun shines and radiates one light with pure happiness, pure peace, pure bliss and such a person is manifesting from his heart and from his life. He has all the qualities of the supreme God himself. Mercy, compassion, equanimity, peace and nobleness. One becomes the friend of all living beings. These are the natural qualities of the soul, which is part and parcel of the supreme soul or Krishna. So Sukadeva Goswami was describing that this is the true and fearless fact by which one never has to again face the consequences of sinful material reactions. Sukadeva Goswami explained that the great saints and sages tell a very ancient historical story in this regard.
The Story of the Saint Ajamila:
It is about a very gentle, learned son of brahmana. His name was Ajamila. This Ajamila was very well behaved. He was most obedient to his parents. He was most faithful to his guru. His senses were most well controlled. He was kind to everyone. He was pleasing and gentle in all manners and was religious. Indeed he was an ocean of virtue.
One day it is explained, he is asked by his father to go out to collect some wood and some grass for the brahminical sacrifices that were taking place in the house. As Ajamila was coming back with those articles that he had collected for his father, he came across a fourth class man who was in a drunken state, he was embracing a prostitute and enjoying his senses to a very extreme degree. They were both singing songs, embracing one another, kissing one another, they were both drunk with liquor and their eyes were rolling in their heads in mundane pleasure. And as they were merged in their situation of life, the prostitutes clothing became loose and some part of the body was being displayed. When Ajamila saw this woman enjoying sense gratification in such a degraded and sinful way, it is described that the arrow of cupid appears into his heart and he became very attracted and wanted to enjoy this low class sinful woman. And then he began to remember the instructions of his father, the instructions of the scriptures and the instructions of his spiritual master. But it was very difficult for him to get this idea out of his mind. So he went home. Then he could not forget the beauty of the prostitute. So he hires this prostitute as his maid servant. Due to the influence of association his only business in life was to satisfy her so that she will satisfy him. Thus he had aged parent’s he was their only son. He completely neglected them and disgraced them. His beautiful and chaste wife, who has noble virtues coming from a very rich brahmana family, he gave her up. He disowned her. And in order to support this prostitute he began to gamble, he began to steal like a thief, he became so degraded he began to engage in all sinful activities to supply her with unlimited desires for sense gratification. He became a drunkard, thief and sex maniac and he was producing child after child after child with the womb of that prostitute. In this way enjoying his senses in the most degraded manner, he spent the duration of his life. When he was 88 years old he still could not give up having sex with that prostitute. And he had another child. (Just see what association with low class people can do to one’s consciousness.) This is the greatest lesson you learned. This story took place long ago and in a previous yuga. At that time there was practically no such thing as a prostitute. There was no such thing as people drinking, and engaging in sensual activities openly in public. There was only one such person and yet by seeing such a person Ajamila’s heart became contaminated and the spirit for sinful enjoyment overwhelmed his mind. His mind became uncontrolled in that association. But in these days and age practically everywhere we go, practically everywhere we look, we see these incidents taking place.
What Does One Expect In The American society?
In America this is expected. When I was going to college in the 1960s, there was a movement called the free sex movement. Actually it is called free love. While it is considered a passion to get married, this is a fact. If a person a man or woman was still a virgin when they were sixteen, then they were practically a social outcast. And there was so much pressure to take intoxication to eat meat, to gamble, and to have illicit sex. The pressure was so great, how nicely a parent tries to raise you. The peer pressure was so much. But even if you did not want those things, you have to do it, just to be accepted by the society. I am speaking factually.
Indians In America
And there were many Indians, who are very anxious to live in America like mud flying into the fire. They are attracted by the glory of material prosperity, when they get that they find their own children are burned to ashes in other moral free sex. Indians are approaching us all the time saying quote “We are from a very very pious brahminical Gujurati family, and our child or daughter she is fourteen, she is pregnant what are we going to do. Our son is in seventeen; he is addicted to the heroin what are we going to do?”
I said, you send them to the school. And here in Bombay my God, every week we are meeting youths, high school, colleges, addicted to alcohol and drugs. What you expect you go down to the streets. You see the movie billboards. You never see nice things on the cinema billboards. Are you seeing violence? People are probably shooting each other with guns, and stabbing each other with knives and having sex with one another. The children are seeing these things. Like the same influence that had overwhelmed Ajamila. So therefore we must know the danger of sinful association and therefore we must insulate ourselves, protect ourselves and our loved ones from the association of Kali Yuga. Due to that association Ajamila became the lowest of low. But as Krishna says in Bhagavad-Gita
pratyaväyo na vidyate
sv-alpam apy asya dharmasya
träyate mahato bhayät”
That any spiritual advancement you made is never lost. Because Ajamila was faithful to his guru, faithful to his parents, because he lived in devotion to god, when he was young; the lord within his heart never forgot that. Krishna says in the Gita
bhavisyani ca bhütäni
mäm tu veda na kascana”
“That I know past, present, and future. I know about everything and about everyone. So you see that your parents understand the most important thing in your life, your responsibility is to raise your child by your example in perfect god consciousness. If you are not doing that you are cheating your child of the most precious gift that they are entitled to.”
“guru hana sisya, sujanina sasya” according to the sashtra you have no right being a parent unless you are god conscious, and you are training your children to be the same. In the eyes of God you are cheater. If you want to be a simple person, if you want to be a materialistic person, That’s your business. If you are going to take responsibility for one of God’s children, you have no right to behave like that. You must ensure that that child never has to take birth again and suffer in this world. Your responsibility to your children is not simply to feed them giving clothing and give them nice degrees, put them to high school & college, make them doctors, lawyers, Phd, get them married, put them in a nice house, etc. That is all secondary. Your duty to god is by your example, by your teachings, to show the child the way to eternal life, free from all sufferings and free from the repetition of birth and death.
So Ajamila parents they gave him god consciousness when he was young. Now of course, especially in this day and age where practically every child is a potential Ajamila, it is very important to train a child when he is young. Because even though due to the influence of the society when the child becomes a teenager, he may be very vulnerable to going astray from the path of virtue. Whatever spiritual discipline he has done in life, god within his heart will never forget.
This means that once one tastes the sweetness of the lotus feet of Sri Hari, once one experiences the nectar of service to the supreme Lord Sri Krishna that even if one does fall down due to bad association into materialistic life, it is just the matter of time, till again he comes back to the service of the Lord. He can never be content with material life, because he has the experience of something higher.
Time Is Devouring Our Life.
The lord who is the controller within the heart of everyone knows every condition of his devotee’s life. And He simply is waiting for the opportunity to drag him back. So the Lord within the Ajamila’s heart inspired him to name his youngest son Narayana. And when he was an old man, he was very much attached to this little child. He would love to hear his broken words, he would love to see him running around the house making mess of things. His mind was utterly captivated by the beauty and the charm of his little son. In this way he merged a sinful life and family attachment, he could not perceive that imperceptible death is about to devour him.
The Yamaduttas Or The Vishnuduttas? who will Take Ajamila Away?
Death is creeping up upon all of us. In the form of time our life span is being diminished second after second. And yet we do not even recognize what is happening to us. Because we are so endorsed in our materialistic plans, and in our family attachments, so while Ajamila was lying on his death bed, he broadcaste an invitation for Yama Raja to dispatch his messenger to come and take him away. At that time he saw four horrible deep horned looking creatures coming towards him. Their eyes were full of anger; their teeth were sharp like the gnashing teeth of an animal, their bodies were full of hair and their muscles were very strong. Their figures were deformed in all respects and they were growling very ferociously. And their heads and hands chained in ropes and they began to growl and they began to tie the limbs of Ajamila’s subtle body with these ropes and chains. And they were about to drag him out of this body. And Ajamila was looking at them became so bewildered and so fearful and through the corner of his eyes he saw his little son in the corner of the room playing. And he understood he was about to be dragged away from his son. So he began to callout helplessly in complete desperation Narayana, Narayana, Narayana. And just at that moment from the sky, Ajamila could see four most beautiful celestial heavenly beings floating down in the most graceful manner. Each of the beings had eyes that resemble the lotus flower. Their bodily complexion was blue Like the sky. They were wearing very beautiful jewelry, beautiful golden silk garments, fine crowns be with that jewels. And in that four luxurious and graceful arms they were holding the conchshell, the club, the louts flower and the chakra and with sweet and tender voices. They were singing the sound like the rumbling of the clouds during the rainy season. These four most celebrated merciful personalities; they said to the yama dutas “stop, you are forbidden to take this man away.” And the yama dutas looked at them and said “who are you? What right do you have to stop us from taking this sinful degraded being to accept the reaction for his sins”? The Vishnudutas said “please tell us, what is sinful karma and for what reason a person has to suffers sinful karma. And Yama dutas began to explain the nature of Baikuntha, the nature of the material world, and why people engaging in sinful activities and how each and every sin is recorded by yama Raja and they are the agents to take them for their punishment.
Ajamila Chanted The Name Of Narayana Offenselessly
Here Vidura began to explain, “yes what you are saying is true, but this man is sinless”. The yama duta said “this man is sinless.” And then they began to narrate the whole history of the lifeof the Ajamila. And then the Vishnuduta said that you do not understand that he chanted the name of Narayana in a desperate state of mind. Therefore he was chanting offenselessly. He was not chanting with any material ambitions, he was simply crying out the name Narayana. Even though he was thinking of his son, the name of Narayana is so powerful that because he chanted this offenselessly and desperate condition of mind.
Ajamila Comes To His Senses
Not only will chanting purify him of all sins of this life, but it purified him of all of his sins in all of his previous lives. Therefore this man has no more karma. So you have no right to take him anywhere. He is our property. The yamadutas became very fearful. Who are these people they are more powerful than us. So they took– their chains and ropes and they left that place. And Ajamila was struck with wonder. And at that time he offered his obeisances to these beautiful servants of Lord Vishnu and then they left, they disappeared. And Ajamila came to his senses; he began to think what I have done with my life. His heart was beating fast, it was pounding with regret. He thought “My mother and father were so kind and patient in raising me and giving me the best of everything in life. And when they were aged and helpless, I completely neglected them and ignored them in order to serve this degraded women. And my wife who was chaste and faithful and religious, I kicked her out of the house, rejected her and time and time again I was impregnating children in the womb of a sinful prostitute. I have left innocent people, I cheated them, I was a robber and a stealer. My senses were constantly being unsatisfied by my pursuit, my lust I was constantly in an angry and shouting others with harsh words. And the lord of my life Sri Narayana, I have completely neglected him and disgraced Him. In fact I have brought utter disgrace to the brahminical order of life. All due to a little association with low class people. I am the most degraded and sinful man on the earth. But the grace of god, he allowed me to name my son Narayana. And by the grace of the celebrated personalities the Vishnudutas, I was saved from the most horrible fate. Therefore now with all gratitude and praying for the causeless mercy of the lord ,let me dedicate my life exclusively to the service of the Lord’s servants”. Then Ajamila left that place and he went to the holy land of Haridwara. Then at the bank of the Ganges he immersed his consciousness in Hari nama kirtana in chanting the holy names. And all through, he was remembering the Lord in the core of his heart and always serving His devotees. In this way Ajamila purified his life. And after be became completely purified again he saw the same four beautiful personalities descending from Vaikuntha. Then he gave up his body on the bank of Ganges in the holy city of Haridwara and he was given darshan of the Vshinudutas original vision of spiritual body and he was transported back to the spiritual world param dhama Vaikuntha. And Sukadeva Goswami began to explain to Maharaja Parikshita that there is no greater religious principle than becoming the servant of the devotees of the Lord.
Now his father, his uncle, his mother they were very attached to him. He was the only child. Then of course the father built up a big business, he put all of his life’s energy into his business and of course he wanted to turn it over to his son. Otherwise he is finished. He would not live beyond him. This is a very tragic condition for a person, who has put so much energy into such a project and although this man was the devotee of the lord, he was always thinking in terms of how to make his son happy. So Raghunath Dasa Goswami ran away, because the pure devotees of the Lord in their association we will naturally want to chant the name of the lord. We all want to surrender our hearts and our lives in the service of the Lord, without that saintly association, it is impossible to overcome the obstacles of material life. Sukadeva Goswami explained that this narration of the lila of Sri Ajamila is so instructive for all of us. That anyone with sincere and attentive heart, who repeats this beautiful pastime and anyone who with sincere and faithful heart, hears this wonderful story they will be relieved from all sinful reactions in their life. And they are guaranteed to be transferrred to the spiritual world Vaikuntha. Srila Sukadeva Goswami explains
“tasmäd bhärata sarvätmä
bhagavän isvaro harih
srotavyah kirtitavyas ca
Srimad Bhagavatam 2.1.5
This is the essence of all knowledge contained on this one beautiful sloka. This sloka is like a jewel. It is like jewel that is so precious that anyone who perceives the glory of this jewel within their hearts, one never has to suffer again. “tasmäd bhärata sarvätmä” that the infallible and fearless path by which one can overcome all the obstacles of material life and one may be established that one’s eternal glory is to hear about ,to chant about and to remember the beautiful lord of our life Sri Krishna.
In the association of Sadhus to glorify, to remember and to hear the beautiful pastimes of the supreme personality of godhead, it becomes most relishable, most simple and most natural. Therefore there is no more important priority in our life than seeking all the association of great souls. Because in this material civilization the tendency is very very strong to become so much involved in the relative responsibilities of survival that we forget the goal of life. We forget the purpose of life and how to attain it.
Therefore Srimad Bhagavatam describes
syän mahat-sevayä vipräh
Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.16
That by serving great souls, “mahat-seväà dväram ähur vimuktes” great service is done, the desire to hear about Krishna awakens within our heart. “tamo-dväraà yoñitäà saìgi-saìgam” that by associating with bold minded people, the doors to bondage, the doors to the hellish existence are opened before us. Therefore these very wonderful programs are a most important part of our life. Through the satsangs we can be nourished with the spiritual energy and the spiritual strength, to provide the real requirements, to our family members and to remain strong in devotion to God, in every condition of life. If we do not have time for our spiritual life, then we are the most unfortunate and foolish person on earth. We are more unfortunate than the animals. Because the animals have no chance for spiritual awakening, “atattvartha brahma jijnasa” Human life is meant exclusively for spiritual awakening. If you do not have time for spiritual enlightenment then although we are given the greatest fortune of human birth, we wasted it with the mentality of an animal. There is no more unfortunate and sorrowful condition than to see a human being waste the most valuable opportunity that God has given to him. So therefore let us be very thankful to the lord, who has provided us the path of liberty and the path of true happiness, and (bhakti) devotion towards him.
You see there are so many poor people in the streets. I believe in Mumbai, something like one fifth of the population is living on the sidewalks. The problem is not with the poor people but it is the rich people. You see in a civilized society, people are brought up in assort of compassion. Where the strong protects the weak, the young maintain the old, the rich provides for the poor. This is civilization. Uncivilized life is just take care of number one, ME. But you see when we develop these spiritual qualities by hearing the glories of the Lord, by associating with the devotees of the Lord, by chanting the names of the lord. Naturally in the service of the lord we become compassionate and a well wishing friend of every living entity. That is the great need in this world. That is the great needs in our lives. Thank you very much.
Gambling Away Your Life In Vain :
AM: If you want to be a gambler, then you will take the chance. But do you know, among gamblers one out of millions wins. Gambling is a very very horrible disease. Once you begin to gamble, it goes in your blood, you cannot do without gambling. Now in America there are gamblers anonymous. Just like the alcoholics anonymous. People are given up heroin, given up alcohol, given up cigarettes, but they cannot give up gambling, nothing like gambling, I know some one of my family members, one of my relatives, he worked as a dice dealer in Las Vegas. So this person used to show the dice and go and just take everyone’s money. Everyone thought he is winning. So you told me, everyone thinks they are winning, but nobody wins except the house. They could see, they are always the winner. Because they are always against you, the more you win the more they are happy, because they know the more you win, the more you could lose. He was telling the psychology of a gambler. When a person wins a hundred thousand Dollars, you think the casino was worry thinking, Oh my God he is winning hundred thousand dollars, we can lose it all. No, the casino thinking ah, like a fisherman when the fish bites the hook and the fish starts running away with the bait. The fishes thinking ah, I have got the bait and the fisherman is thinking ah, I have got the fish. He thinks he got the bait, but I have got him, right. He won hundred thousand dollars that means this person has gambling the ecstasy of gambling so deep inn his vains. He is unable to give up, until he wins the millions and in the pursuit he is going to lose everything he has. Neither you win, you lose. That’s the nature of gambling. That’s the nature of a game of chance. So yes if you name your son Narayana there is a chance that he will think of you at the time of death. First of all Ajamila was a great devotee in his youth and he had heaps and heaps of pious credits in his spiritual life. He was not an ordinary living being. And what happens if you live your sinful life and you do not call out the name of your son at the time of the death. Then those four deformed personalities, they will take you away. Human life is not meant to risk like a gambler. Krishna says in Gita
“man-manä bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yäji mäm namaskuru
mäm evaisyasi satyam te
pratijäne priyo ‘si me”
Always think of me, become my devotee, worship me, offer your homage unto me. In this way you will come to me without fail. I promise you this because you are my friend. It is 100% guaranteed unconditional promise of god. That if you become his devotee, if you remember him, if you chant his names, if you serve his devotees, you will come to Him without fail. So the question is, do you want to take a chance with this human life, or you want to live a life where our destiny and our future are certain. What is your choice?….