What is being explained that the most ancient of all forms of knowledge is this great science of bhakti or devotional service to the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna. When we say ancient, we are not speaking in terms of the material idea of being ancient or very old because in this case, bhakti, devotional service has no beginning and no end. It is sanatana dharma. It is the eternal occupation of every soul. It is older than the oldest and at the same time, it never becomes old. It is always new; it is always fresh. It is of such a transcendental nature. In this material existence we see how in due course of time various forms of knowledge, material knowledge, are forgotten. Maharaj, Haribol! Dandavat! Please sit… (04:51), very great surprise to my heart that he has come. This is His Holiness Vishnu Maharaj. Let us welcome him by saying Haribol. He is a disciple of one of Srila Prabhupad’s dearest friends, a very great vaishnav acharya, disciple of Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati, Srila Bhakti Vaibhav Puri Maharaj. Srila Puri Maharaj has done so much wonderful preaching over the years and established the pure teachings of bhakti, especially in areas of Orissa and Vishakhapatnam and recently, he has been given, by the grace of Sri RadhaRani, a beautiful temple just near Seva Kunj in Vrindavan and often times, our devotees have the good fortune of meeting him and he is always very kind and merciful to us. So, the greatest and most wonderful way of serving such an exalted Vaishnav is by serving those who he loves and Vishnu Maharaj is the beloved disciple of Puri Maharaj. So we want to offer our deepest gratitude and thankfulness for your coming to bless our temple today. Vishnu Maharaj ki jai! Whenever I come to Vrindavan, Vishnu Maharaj is always so kind to give me Prasad; Prasad, many times of Prasad.
The knowledge of Bhakti is the most ancient:
So we were explaining how things in this world, by the force of time, are destroyed, sometimes quickly, sometimes very gradually. But this transcendental knowledge of devotional service to Krishna was established within this universe before anything else. Haribol! It is explained that when the supreme lord Sri Krishna, He expanded Himself as Baladev in the spiritual world of Goloka and Baladev expanded Himself as the chaturvyuha – Vasudev, Sankarshana, Aniruddha, Pradyumna, who are in the four corners, the four directions of Goloka. From Them, Vasudev, came the expansion of Narayan, the lord of Vaikuntha. From Him, He expanded Himself into a second quadruple expansion, Vasudev, Pradyumna, Aniruddha, Sankarshana. That Sankarshana expanded Himself as Karanodakasayi Vishnu, Maha Vishnu. From Him, upon His exhalation, innumerable universes came out of His body. In each universe, Maha Vishnu expands Himself as Garbhodakasayi Vishnu. From Garbhodakasayi Vishnu, who sits alone in each universe, there is nothing else existing, comes a lotus flower from His navel and there Lord Brahma is born.
Brahma is born to be empowered to create all the species of life and all the various matter within the universe. But when Brahma was born, he had incredible intelligence, incredible power but he had no knowledge. He didn’t know where he was. He was on this lotus flower and everything around him was darkness. At that time, he heard the two syllables, ‘ta’,’ pa’ and he began to perform tapasya and a result of this tapasya is the supreme personality of Godhead revealed Himself to Brahma and imparted unto him the knowledge of the Vedas which culminate in pure bhakti, devotional service. After explaining to Brahma through Vedic knowledge, the purpose of the universe and the goal of the universe to reawaken unalloyed, unmotivated loving service to Him amongst all living beings, it was then that He empowered him to create. So we should know that within this universe, the knowledge of bhakti was created by the lord before any species of life, before any of the planets, before anything.
Anything material is a burden, even if it is a benediction:
Athato brahma jignasa because it is the purpose of life. The supreme personality of Godhead creates each universe to give the spirit souls, the jivatmas, who have misused their independence the opportunity to return to the spiritual platform. But yet, most people turn to God because they want to satisfy their material ambitions. They make their religion a facility to better, improve their condition of bondage within this prison house of material existence. They see all around them birth, old age, disease and death, everywhere. But instead of approaching God for the real true thing, unalloyed devotion, which is the means by which we can satisfy the innermost longings of the soul and be liberated once and for all from the pangs of material existence, we approach the lord for material benedictions which ultimately only further entangle us in the sufferings of material existence, even if they are given by God Himself.
There was a story that was told by Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur about a sannyasi, who was travelling through the jungle and he was walking long, long distance. And he appeared very renounced but in his heart, he still had material desires. So he began to pray to the supreme lord, ‘oh Lord Rama! Please send me one horse so that I could be carried by the horse and not have to walk so far.’ He wanted the lord to serve him by providing some material facility. So after few minutes, a nice horse came walking by, it was a female horse. And the sannyasi was very happy and he took the horse by the reigns, the reigns were already on the horse. And he got on the horse’s back and he started riding. ‘Thank you Ram! Now I am being carried by horse.’ But as he was being carried by the horse, he became very much attached to this horse, beautiful horse, so loyally going wherever he wants her to go. And after some days, the horse who happened to be pregnant gave birth to a baby horse. And of course, he became very much attached to the baby horse. And when he wanted to proceed on his journey, how was the baby horse going to get there? So he took the horse on his back, on his shoulders and he was carrying the horse, and the mother who just gave birth, she was walking alongside him and as he was walking with this horse, struggling and straining, struggling and straining, he began to think ‘oh Ram! What have you done? I asked you that I could be carried by a horse and now I am carrying a horse.’
So Saraswati Thakur explains that this is the nature of material existence. When we ask the lord for material benediction, we are actually asking for trouble because you may get that facility for sometime but in the end, it becomes a great burden. And if we examine in our own lives, every time we ask the lord for something material, we may get it and some enjoyment but in the end, it becomes a burden. When Krishna warns us, He forewarns us. Duhkhalayam asasvatam. That this material world, everything within it, is a burden. Why should we ask for it?
The story of one wonderful devotee, Mukunda Sarkar:
There is a beautiful story about a great devotee. His name was Mukunda Sarkar and this Mukunda, he lived in a place called Srikhanda. He was a royal physician for the king. But he was a very great devotee of the lord. So one day, someone came with a fan to fan the king and it happened to be a peacock tail fan. And as he was fanning, what happened is he remembered Krishna by seeing the peacock feather and in ecstasy of love, he fell unconscious and fell from a raised platform onto the ground. And when the king saw this, he became very worried and he came down. He said, ‘what is wrong?’ But this devotee was very humble. Devotees never like to present themselves as great. So he said that ‘actually I suffered due to the disease of epilepsy and because of that, sometimes I go into these seizures and I fall down.’ But the king was very learned, he could understand that actually, he is a pure devotee of God and he is exhibiting ecstatic symptoms and in this way the king actually began to venerate and worship this great personality.
Mukunda had a deity at home whose name was Gopinath, Sri Radha Gopinath ki jai! And he worshipped this deity with great love and great attention. And every day, he would offer Gopinath at a certain time nice homemade laddu. So one day, he was called for some services and he had to leave at that particular time. So he told his young son whose name was Raghunandana that ‘at this particular time of the day, you please take this laddu and offer it to Gopinathji and he will eat it.’ So Raghunath was just a small boy and he did not know so much about the science of the archana of SriMurti. He was simple. So he took laddu and he brought it onto the altar and he put it before Sri Gopinathji and he said, ‘My Lord, please eat this laddu. Eat. Eat.’ And the supreme lord through his benevolent glance…
angani yasya sakalendriya-vritti-manti
pasyanti panti kalayanti ciram jaganti
govindam adi-purusham tam aham bhajami
The Lord, His body is so transcendental, it is absolute that He can eat with His eyes, He can taste with His ears; all of His senses are unlimitedly and transcendentally empowered to perform the functions of all other senses. So the Lord glanced upon the Prasad, the bhoga and tasted the sweetness of the bhakti of His devotees and He was satisfied. But little Raghunandan, he didn’t understand this. So he began to cry. He began to cry so sincerely, tears flowing from his eyes and the Lord asked him ‘why are you crying?’ He said ‘because I am so fallen that You are not willing to accept my offering.’ He said, ‘No! I have already accepted it. I have glanced upon it and eaten your devotion.’ And Raghunandan is, ‘I don’t know about all this devotion. I only know my father wants You to eat the laddu and You have not eaten.’ So Gopinath ate the laddu, all of it.
Mukunda came home. He said, ‘Raghunandan, give me the maha Prasad.’
And Raghunandan said, ‘what maha Prasad?’
‘the laddu is gone.’
‘you told me to give it to Krishna and Gopinath ate it.’
He was thinking, ‘did you eat it?’
‘No, no!! I didn’t eat. Gopinath ate it.’
And his father knew that Raghunandan was a very humble, simple and honest boy. So he couldn’t understand. So he said, ‘here is another laddu. Now you offer it again.’
So he went in the deity room and he offered, ‘Gopinath, please, please eat this laddu.’ And again Gopinath tasted by His glance and again Raghunandan started to weep that He is not accepting my offering. He is not accepting my offering.’ So then Gopinath ate half the laddu. But meanwhile, his father was hiding outside looking secretly through the window to see what his son was doing. Because his son told him what happened. He didn’t believe. He did believe or not believe, he wanted to see for himself. So when his father saw this, he became very happy. And when Raghunandan came off the altar with the half laddu, Mukunda took his son on his lap and just began to bathe him with tears of love because he has seen that ‘my son has achieved the mercy of the lord.’ We should know that this is the greatest pleasure of a real Vaishnava.
A Vaishnava is one who is genuinely happy at another’s spiritual progress:
When a vaishnav sees another devotee getting special mercy of the lord, when a devotee sees another vaishnava being specially empowered and specially endowed with bhakti, that is his greatest pleasure. Of course, when we have material consciousness, when we see someone else getting special favor of the lord, we become envious. We think, ‘why him?why not me??’ we want everyone else’s spiritual progress to be checked until we can catch up and go ahead. And then when we are ahead, we want to keep them down. This is not the consciousness of a vaishnav. This is material consciousness. A real devotee, his greatest pleasure in life is to see others receiving the mercy of the lord. That is why for the preachers of Krishna consciousness, when they see people coming together tasting the nectar of the holy name, finding joy in chanting the holy names, that is the greatest pleasure of their life. And when such Vaishnavas see devotees on the basis of this congregational chanting, developing intimate loving relationships with one another, working together harmoniously in the service of the lord, becoming more and more detached from material enjoyment, when we see such devotees actually developing a real taste for Krishna and receiving the mercy and blessings of Guru and Krishna, it is the greatest joy of a Vaishnava. And we should look for our pleasure in this – seeing others receive the mercy of the lord.
So in this way, Mukunda was overwhelmed and he considered his own son to be like his guru because he was so dear to Krishna. Mukunda was thinking perhaps ‘but the lord never ate my laddus like this.’ So one day, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu asked Mukunda, ‘who is the father and who is the son?’ and Mukunda replied, ‘my son, Raghunandan is my father because he has given me insight into higher realms of bhakti and it is through his mercy that I am in contact with You, my Lord, Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu.’
Destruction is all around us in this material world:
So in this simple and wonderful story, we see how a devotee, the great devotees, they are simply interested in pleasing Krishna, in serving Krishna. They do not do business with Krishna, as Prahlad Maharaj spoke. They do not ask Krishna ‘what will You give me?’ Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu prayed, ‘aslisya va pada-ratam pinastu mam adarsanan marma-hatam karotu va yatha tatha va vidadhatu lampato mat-prana-nathas tu sa eva naparah. That ‘my Lord, I am Your servant, unconditionally. If You like, You can embrace me. If You like, You can trample upon me. If You like, You can make me broken-hearted by neglecting me. You have every right to deal with me in any way You desire because I am Your servant, unconditionally.’ And this is the aspiration of all those sincere souls in this Gaudiya Vaishnav sampradaya. We do not want to ask the Lord for something material. We do not want the Lord to be our servant. We know that such a consciousness even if it has fulfilled our desire, it will undoubtedly culminate in a great burden of bondage.
Therefore, we simply want to be Gopi bhartur pada kamalayor dasa dasanudasa, the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of the Lord. What other treasure is there in this world? Why should we aspire for the things which represent death, which means material enjoyment? But we don’t take seriously how important it is to take this principle to our heart now.
But there are so many signals that material energy is giving us. Right now, many of us sitting here listening to this Krishna katha but we are thinking ‘what about my job? What about my family? What about my expenses?’- all of these types of sense gratification are still priorities in our life. But just a few hours away in another part of this very state of Maharashtra, there is the bubonic plague and just a few hours by train in Surat, there is another form of this plague, the pneumonic plague. When the word ‘plague’ is used… ‘plague’ means massive destruction of human life. It’s not just a sickness; it’s not just an epidemic. It’s plague. Some human history, according to the encyclopedia, the bubonic plague appeared some time ago in Rome, Italy, same plague. Every day, 5000 people died. Just from this same disease. And in the 14th century, this plague struck Europe. One-fourth of the entire population of all the countries of Europe died of this plague. And have you know that, this year, 1994, is a year of a hundredth anniversary. Exactly 100 years ago from this year, in 1894, the bubonic plague came to the shores of India. Just a hundred years ago. And this plague brutally assaulted India for 20 years. And during that 20 years, according to professional statistics, 10 million people died of bubonic plague. 10 million people! And that just ended 80 years ago. Exactly 100 years later, it is back. And we may say that we have the medicine. May be it will work. May be it won’t. May be it will be available. May be it won’t. May be another strand will mix with these strands and it will be useless. Here in Bombay, we are surrounded by two sides, just hours away. But Maharaj Yudhistir explained that the most wonderful and mysterious thing in this whole world is people see all around them death but we are all thinking ‘it will not happen to me. I have my tablets.’ This is the greatest illusion. And even when we are surrounded by these plagues, what to speak of… just a couple years ago, a few hours away, there was massive earthquake. All these signs of the nature of this material world, destruction is all around us. And there is only one solution – to become detached from this material conception of life and become attached to Krishna. This is the only solution.
Harinam is the only medicine for the ‘plague of ignorance’:
We only have one shelter. Thakur Bhakti Vinod prayed ‘I have already seen and considered everything of this world. And I have found that only the name of Krishna can give me shelter.’ Whether we live or whether we die, remembering Krishna by hearing His glories, associating with His devotees and chanting His name is the only thing of any eternal value in our life. When that inevitable moment comes today or tomorrow, we should know that the only wealth I have is not in the form of money, not in the form of fame, prestige, it’s only in what I invested in my bhakti in devotion to Krishna.
So we should become very serious. Krishna consciousness is joyful. Kevala ananda kanda. Chanting, dancing, feasting on nice Prasad. But it is also the most grave emergency to take shelter of it now. It is urgent. It is not just something for our enjoyment. It is our only hope of salvation and relief in the imminent times of this world. We are not trying to create fear in your hearts, we are not trying to create panic. It has been told to me that often times the newspapers, they reduce the statistics when there are some crises like riots or plagues or anything because they don’t want to create panic. But what they are actually doing is they are just keeping people in illusion. We don’t want to create panic but we also want you to see the reality of this world so you will not be in illusion so that you will urgently and intelligently take the medicine and the medicine is not tetracycline. It’s Harinam.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Unless we understand the gravity of this situation around us, there is a plague of ignorance which is causing every living being to die. This plague of ignorance in this world, 100% of the population is dying of it. But Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, He came with the medicine. enechi aushadhi maya nasibaro lagi’ hari-nama maha-mantra lao tumi magi. It is desperate. It is urgent. It is an emergency. Read these wonderful books of our guru maharaj seeking shelter, come to associate with devotees, dance, chant with them, hear Bhagavat katha from them, seeking shelter, seeking refuge, knowing that there is nothing more important, give this medicine to your family members, it’s the only real thing you can give them that can bring any true happiness to their lives. In this way, why should we waste our lives if death is all around us and we are still thinking about how to pay our bills? Such an illusion.
The urgency of taking Spiritual life seriously now, from this very moment:
Srila Prabhupad used to say ‘do the needful.’ If you have bills, do the work, pay them. But don’t become attached to that. Just do it. And keep your mind on Krishna. Keep your mind on the association of devotees. We see if we are performing religious activities but at the same time we are too much attached to bad association, it is counter-productive. Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur told a little story of a father who was a landlord and he was addicted to smoking cigarettes and taking intoxications and he had one son and like father, like son. The child is naturally influenced by the activities of the father. So from a young age, he started smoking cigarettes and taking intoxications. It’s natural. If a parent is chanting the names of God and worshipping the deity and associating with devotees, then naturally the child will want to chant the names of God, worship the deities and associate with devotees. What a responsibility a parent has?
So this child just began to do all of his father’s activities and after some time, he got very sick with disease, something like tuberculosis. And he was dying and his father was frantic ‘I have to save my son. Look at what has happened.’ And he went and he got a doctor and the doctor told the father and the son that he should drink plenty of milk and he should give up smoking completely and he should give up taking intoxications completely. And the son, he was thinking, ‘oh! This taking of milk is very nice. I will drink lots and lots and lots of milk. But this giving up smoking is very hard. So I will continue. I will do both.’ Haribol! And this, they told the doctor, ‘I am going to do both. I can’t stop smoking but I am going to take so much milk and the doctor said, ‘then you will die. The milk will have not the proper effect of curing you unless you give up smoking.’
So Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Prabhupad explains ‘this is like a person who chants the holy names; sometimes day and night, he might be going to hari katha, different pravachans, hearing the glories of the lord but as long as he is attached to unholy association, materialistic people’s association and as long as he is attached to doing those materialistic things that means sense enjoyment, he makes very little or no progress at all.’ So we must understand the urgency – padam padam yad vipadam na tesam – why should we maintain and cultivate attachments to those things which are going to bring about misery? ye hi saḿsparśa-jā bhogā duḥkha-yonaya eva te ādy-antavantaḥ kaunteya na teṣu ramate budhah [BG 5.22]̣. The objects of the senses are sources of misery especially sinful activities – illicit sex, intoxication, gambling, meat-eating.
So we must take our spiritual lives very seriously. Krishna has spoken in the scripture, the sadhus, the acharyas, they are speaking and material nature herself, all around us is warning, you have only one hope. Death can come any minute and in this age of kali yuga, that hope is so simple and so wonderful to receive; just by associating with the lord’s devotees and chanting His names with the aspiration for unmotivated devotion, do not do business with God. Become His servant. Serve Him to please Him by being the servant of the servant of the servant