mām āśritya yatanti ye
te brahma tad viduḥ kṛtsnam
adhyātmaḿ karma cākhilam
We are reading this evening from Chapter 7, Text 29 of Srimad Bhagvat Gita. I would like to thank all of you very much for coming to participate in this Krsna consciousness movement which is established by Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu who is the Yuga avatar for this age of Kali. Lord Sri Krsna spoke this eternal wisdom of Bhagavat Gita approximately 5000 years ago in Kurukshetra. But Krsna explains in Gita that, he was not establishing some new form of knowledge. He tells Arjuna that many millions and millions of years back, “I instructed the same science to Vivasvan, the Sun god”. And this knowledge which is eternal, Santana dharma was passed down through a disciplic succession of great kings since that time. But due to the influence of time and the discrepancies of human motivations, amongst that disciplic succession of kings, the truth, the essence of that knowledge was lost, so Sri Krsna appeared to re-establish it. Lord Sri Krsna appeared again, in this age of Kali as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to teach us the practical method by which we can realize the teachings of the Bhagvat Gita. And His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Srila Prabhupada is that great paramhamsa Acharya who has taken this knowledge from the disciplic succession and brought it throughout the entire world.
Different perceptions of intelligence
Krsna is herewith explaining –what is intelligence. Everyone has their perception of what an intelligent man is. Amongst thieves the best thief is intelligent. Amongst businessmen the shrewdest businessman is considered intelligent. Amongst doctors the most experienced doctor is considered intelligent. Amongst politicians the person who can somehow or the other tell the most lies to get the most wealth is considered intelligent. In this way everyone has their idea of intelligence. These days in India whoever is the best cricket player is considered very intelligent. But what is intelligence? We understand that the standard of all truths is the version of God. Intelligence does not mean who gets the best grade in school. When I was in Bombay; just before I met one student who was crying, telling me that everyone in her class cheated on the exam. They got the paper beforehand but they did not tell her so she did not do very well. And when I came to Poona, one young girl was crying and she was saying that “I got the sheet and I cheated in the exam but I don’t know if I did the right thing”. So amongst students one who can get the sheet and cheat the best is considered the most intelligent.
What is real intelligence?
But Krsna here explains what real intelligence is. “One who is endeavouring for liberation from old age and death and takes refuge in me in devotional service”. That person is intelligent. Because this material world- dukhalayam ashashvatam; it is a place of suffering. No one can escape the sufferings within this material existence. Even if you perform the most pious activities in this world and get nice prosperity, good health, good children, good everything; eventually you have to grow old, get diseased and you have to die. And to the degree you are conditioned to the happiness of your good karma, to that degree you have to suffer when you lose it. One who is intelligent does not try to make a nice arrangement for happiness in this place of death.
Using the bridge to cross over birth, old age disease and death
Even in the Christian scripture there is a statement that ‘the world is like a bridge. It is a bridge to take you from ignorance to knowledge. This is a bridge that was constructed by God to take you from illusion to reality; from the material world to the spiritual world. An intelligent person crosses over this bridge. He does not try to build a house and live on the bridge. But human society is simply trying to make nice arrangements to remain in this material world forever. This is called ignorance. Even if you have a big PhD, even if you are top in class, if you are trying to find happiness in this material world you are considered less intelligent. In fact you are ignorant. Our Guru Maharaj, Srila Prabhupada was very straightforward about this truth. He would go into the biggest universities-MIT, Harvard, amongst the biggest scientists and professors in the world; and he would tell the professors and the students, “You are all ignorant.” They were too surprised. No one ever told them anything like this. But Prabhupada proved to them that they are ignorant. “You are trying to find happiness in a place of misery. You do not even know who you are. You do not even know what happens after death.” This is intelligence. So to strive within this human life to make a solution to these problems of birth, old age, disease and death is intelligence.
The story of King Nriga-The boys find the lizard in the well
In the tenth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam there is a nice example of how intricate the laws of karma keep a person bound in suffering. On the request of Sriman Krishnananda Prabhu I will narrate the story. This is a narration I have heard from Gauranga Prabhu, the son of Jayadev and Satyavati. Haribol. Would you like to tell the story, Gauranga? Do I have your blessings to repeat your message? Yes? He has given his blessings. One time when Krsna was living in Dwaraka, the children of Dwaraka-Samba, Pradyumna and others, they were all playing in a small forest. And In their playing they became very thirsty for water. So they saw a deep well. And in their childlike playfulness, shouting all nice game words they ran to the well. And when they came to the well it was a dry well, but what they saw inside was very wonderful. It was a very big sized lizard that appeared to be like a mountain. So the boys were just looking at the lizard in great amazement and they felt compassionate for this creature. They decided to try to take him out of the well he was trapped within. So they took leather straps, woven ropes and they were putting it around the lizard trying to pull it up but however much they tried they could not get this lizard out of the well.
Turning to Krsna for help
So everyone knows when something is very difficult to achieve who we should turn to. Who do turn to? How do we turn to him? In fact it says in the Chaitanya Charitamrata that ‘one who remembers Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, even the most difficult things become easy to achieve. And when one forgets the Lord even the easiest things become impossible. So the children went to the palace of Lord Sri Krsna, Dwarakadhish. They told Lord Krsna their gather that “there is a big lizard in this well and we want to save him so please come and take him out of this well.”
The mercy of a devotee is more important than the mercy of God
We should know that when the devotees appeal to Krsna, on our behalf Krsna will always come to save us. That is why tasmad guru mukha. That’s why we approach Guru and the Vaishnavas, because they are dear to Krsna. Due to their surrender and their service they are part of Krsna’s spiritual family. We are all like lizards in the well of this material existence. And we are trapped. We don’t know what to do to get out. But if somehow or other we get the mercy and the compassion of Krsna’s devotees and they appeal to Krsna on our behalf then Krsna will certainly come to rescue us. That is why it is said that the mercy of a devotee is more important than the mercy of God because the mercy of God is very far away. But the devotees come knocking to our doors to deliver that mercy to us. And if we somehow or the other please the devotees and get their favour, then you get all the blessings of Krsna.
The blessings of the devotees are in their instructions. If we receive the instructions of the devotees then we receive Krsna. The most important of all instructions is to always remember Krsna. In this age of Kali Yuga, whatever type of lizard we may be in whatever type of well if we just get the mercy of the Vaishnavas and learn from them the process of chanting Krsna’s holy names through the name of God we will be delivered from the well of material suffering.
Krsna’s mercy revives our original consciousness
So Krsna came to the well and extending his left hand he lifted the lizard out of the well. He set him on the ground. And to everyone’s great astonishment, this lizard transformed into a beautiful demigod. Similarly now we are in these lizard-like material bodies in this well of material life. But when Krsna picks us up, by his causeless mercy he revives our original spiritual body which is eternal, full of knowledge and full of bliss. So Krsna, he knows everything, past, present and future. But just for the sake of letting everyone else hear, he asked this beautiful demigod, “Why are you in the form of a lizard?”
King Nriga gives in charity, the same cow to two Brahmins
And he began to explain how he was practising the karma-kanda type of religion. In other words he was worshipping God and the demigods and he was performing very charitable pious activities with the hope of getting very good material pleasures and prosperity in return. Krsna explains in the 7th chapter of Bhagvat Gita, that people of small intelligence worship the demigods for material prosperity. Because it is temporary and cannot satisfy the heart, those who are intelligent worship the Supreme God for the supreme goal of life which is liberation from birth and death and eternal service in the spiritual world. He said that in his previous birth his name was King Nriga. He was very rich and charitable. He gave so many donations and so many gifts to others. He said that “To the Brahmans I gave so many cows in charity, as many cows as there are grains of sand on the earth, stars in the sky, plus drops of rain in the monsoon rainstorm”. The Acharyas explain that this means that he gave many cows in charity. But we know that people who are philanthropic and charitable, they actually take great pride in being charitable. So sometimes we wonder are they giving charity to the poor or are they ultimately giving charity to their false egos. Usually it is a combination of both. Anyway he explained that these cows that he gave; they all had golden plated horns and silver plated hooves and they had beautiful garlands and silken clothes. So he gave thousands and thousands of cows to one very nice Brahman.
But without anyone noticing one of those cows secretly left that Brahman and came back into the herd of cows of King Nriga. And then another Brahman came and King Nriga gave thousands of cows to that Brahman but it included the cow that came back. So the first Brahman came to the palace of King Nriga and said “You are a sinful man. The property of a Brahman is sacred. You gave me a cow and then you gave it to someone else.”
The pitfalls of the fruitive path
King Nriga was very disturbed. Even after years and years of perfectly performing puja, Yajna; perfectly giving so much charity to the poor and the Brahmans; he did everything so wonderfully but he made this one mistake which he had no control over. He understood that this one mistake could ruin everything if it is not resolved. That is the way the path of karma-kanda is. You can perform so many pujas for piety. You could give so much charity. You can perform so many Yajnas. But if you make one mistake it is like putting a handful of sand in a big pot of sweet rice. It ruins everything. What is the use of cooking your kheer for so many hours and hours but if accidently within a second even you don’t put it in, if it falls in, then everything is ruined.
King Nriga becomes a lizard
So King Nriga was very disturbed and he ran to that second Brahmin and said, “Please, I will give you thousands of cows if you give me this cow back.” Haribol! He liked that cow. And he said “No. You have given me this cow I cannot give it back. It is sinful for you to take it back.” So he went to the first Brahmin. He said “that one cow came back; I will give you one lakh, a hundred thousand cows if you just let this Brahmin keep this cow.” Give he said, “No.” The Acharyas explain that when a Brahmin has been given sufficient charity he takes a vow that he will not take any more charity. “I have already accepted I cannot accept anything more, give me that cow back. If you do not, you will be cursed with sin”. Then the two Brahmans began to argue with each other who the cow belonged to. And king Nriga was in tremendous distress. That is the way of the path of religion for the purpose of pious activities for fruitive results. This is world is full of uncertainties. So very soon after this king Nriga died and he was brought to Yamaraj. Yamaraj said that “you have done so much good work, so many religious things that you can go to the heavenly planets for a long time. But you made one mistake. You gave the same cow to two Brahmins”. For this one mistake he had to see Yamaraj. “So which do you choose? Do you want your all your years and years of reward for your good actions or do you want to suffer first?” He said, “I will suffer first. Srila Prabhupada explains why. Because he really wanted to enjoy to his heart’s content. And when you know that at the end of all your enjoyment you have to suffer that is in your mind so you cannot fully enjoy. So better you get the suffering over with then you can enjoy without impediment. So Yamaraj said, “So be it”. Immediately he became a lizard trapped in well.
King Ambarish is visited by Durvasa Muni
Now in this story it is interesting to compare king Nriga to Maharaj Ambarish. He was also a king and he was also visited by a Brahmin of the name Durvasa muni. And he promised Durvasa muni to feed him Prasad. Ambarish Maharaj had been fasting for one full year. And Durvasa Muni said, “I will take Prasad but first I will go to bathe in Yamuna.” But being a muni when he went into the Yamuna he went into Samadhi. He was taking a long time. Meanwhile it was time for Ambarish Maharaj to break his fast. Ekadashi Parana. So he was thinking, “What should I do? If I take Prasad before Durvasa Muni it is an offence, and if I do not break Ekadashi on time on the day of Dwadashi, that is also an offence.” So he took some caranamrta. But as he took caranamrta, Durvasa Muni in samadhi understood “Ambarish Maharaj took caranamrta.” He was very angry. He came and said to Ambarish Maharaj “You have made a big mistake. I am a Brahmin. You invited me and took food before me. Therefore you deserve to die.” So he took hair from his head and he threw it on the ground in great anger. And from that hair (whoosh) this fiery monster appeared and he came to attack Ambarish.
The Bhakta-topmost of all Yogis
Ambarish with folded palms he prayed, “Krsna, if you desire to kill me I am ready to die. If you desire to protect me I have no fear from this fiery demon. I am your eternal servant. You can do anything you like with me. So lord Narayan sent the Sudarshan Chakra to destroy the fiery demon and then attacked Durvasa Muni. He ran for one year to Indra-loka, Brahma-loka, Shiva-loka and ultimately to Vishnu-loka in Vaikuntha and Vishnu said, “Because you offended my devotee the only refuge is his lotus feet.” So Durvasa muni understood Ambarish is a better Yogi than me. Why? Because I am a mystic yogi, I have the power to fly to all the planets even to Vaikuntha but I cannot get away from this Sudarshan Chakra. But Ambarish maharaj is a Bhakti yogi. And a Bhakti yogi is dear to the Lord.
Yoginam api sarvesham
ad gatenantar atmana
shraddhavan bhajate yo mam
sa me yuktatamo matah
Krsna declares the Bhakta is the king of all Yogis. So he fell at Ambarish Maharaj’s feet and surrendered to him.
Krsna always protects his devotees
So both King Nriga and Maharaj Ambarish committed mistakes in their giving of charity to the Brahmins. One was glorified and protected by the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the other became a lizard. The reason is Maharaj Nriga was following the process of karma-kanda. And in this strong process of religiosity, any mistake; there are terrible consequences however much good you have done. But Ambarish Maharaj surrendered to Krsna. And in the path of Bhakti even if you make millions of mistakes, you are immediately forgiven because of the quality of your devotion and Krsna will always protect you. In fact Krsna says,
api cet su duracharo
bhajate mam ananya bhak
sadhur eva sa mantavyah
samyag vyavasito hi sah
That “those who are on this path of Bhakti, devotional service; even if they make very bad mistakes, I consider them saintly because they have come to me in devotion.”
The blessings of the devotees are priceless
But Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakur, one of the great Acharyas who commentated on the Srimad Bhagavatam explains in a very nice way, how this Maharaj Nriga got the opportunity to have Krsna deliver him from the well. He suffered for many, many long years as a lizard in this well. In this way he got his karma. But before he was a lizard, when he was King Nriga, one time one of Krsna’s devotees approached him and said, “Maharaj Nriga you are very charitable. I want to build a temple for my deity of Lord Krsna. Could you build this temple for me? And also I want to distribute Bhagvat Gitas and Srimad Bhagavatams. I would like you to print these books for me.” So Maharaj Nriga, he was charitable to all Brahmins and this devotee was also a Brahmin so he built a temple for his deity and made nice copies of Bhagvat Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam scriptures. The devotee was pleased with him. He said, “I bless you that in the future you will see Krsna.” Bhagvan Sri Krsna ki JAI! Vaishnav kripa ki JAI! So because he performed this one seva to a devotee, his blessing came true and in response to that devotee’s blessing Krsna personally came and lifted him out of the well. So we should know that there is nothing so priceless as the blessings of the devotees of the Lord.
The supreme perfection of life- To always remember Krsna
So Maharaj Nriga began to offer prayers to the Lord. Because he had been touched by Lord Krsna’s hand he became completely purified. He said, “Now my Lord with your permission I will go to my home in the heavenly planets. Now that I have been cleansed of all material desires by seeing your form and by being touched by your hand, I desire only one benediction. That wherever I may be I will always remember you and never forget you.” This is the supreme perfection of our life. To always remember Krsna and never forget Krsna. Krsna is the source of all pleasure. In the Mahabharata there is a beautiful verse which defines the meaning of the name Krsna. There it says that the suffix ‘Krs’ means the supreme-most attractive one. And ‘na’ means the source of all pleasure. The word ‘Krsna’ according to the Mahabharata means ‘all attractive, source of all pleasure’. Therefore this name is the most perfect name for God-The Absolute Truth. So we understand from the Shastras that the ultimate conclusion of following all religious principles is simply ‘To always remember Krsna and never forget Krsna’. Through this process all our hearts desires will be fulfilled. ‘To always remember Krsna and never forget Krsna’ is Bhakti.
Chanting the holy names-simple and sublime
And Krsna explains herein that one who is endeavouring for this attains liberation from old age and death. Lord Chaitanya has given us such a wonderful, sublime process of always remembering Krsna because Krsna is descended in this age of Kali Yuga in his name. ‘Kali kale nam rupe Krsna avatar’ that of all types of religion, sacrifices, the only one that is recommended in this age of Kali is the congregational chanting of the name of Krsna. Harer Nama Harer Nama harer Nama eva kalevaram kalau nastyeva nastyeva nastyeva gatir anyatha. There is no other way except the chanting of the names of Lord Hari. So we should not endeavour so hard like Maharaj Nriga, for what-to become miserable. Better that we jubilantly dance in the association of devotees and chant his holy names. Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. And it is so simple we see how these young children they are so enthusiastic to chant the names of Krsna according to Lord Chaitanya’s method of chanting. They are not so enthusiastic to do jnana, to sit in meditation. They are not so enthusiastic to study the Vedanta Sutra for hours and hours a day. They are not so patient to sit beside the Yajnas and chant mantras throughout the day. But for Harinam kirtana they are blissfully excited to participate. They are all patiently waiting for me to end this long lecture so that they can chant the holy names of Lord Krsna. Yes? Ask the children. Yes, he says “Yes.” Haribol. Anyway spiritually we are all children. In Kali Yuga everyone is a spiritual baby. So we should just be honest with our position and chant “Hare Krsna.” And in this way always remember Krsna and never forget Krsna. Our Guru Maharaj used to see little children like this chanting and dancing and he would say they are more intelligent than even the big PhD professors of the West. Thank you very much.