Om agyan timirandhasya
chakshur anmilitam yena
tasmai shri guruve namah
Surrender unto Lord
I was born in the darkness of ignorance but my spiritual master who is an ocean of mercy has opened my eyes with the torchlight of knowledge. Skanda Purana is explaining to us the basic principle of spiritual life. It is a very meaningful sloka because if we understand that step by step our heart will become a fertile field to receive the unlimited mercy of God. Om agyan timirandhasya.. this means that I was born in the darkness of ignorance. Until we admit our fallibility, until we accept that we are nothing, until we give up being proud of borrowed blooms, there is no question of properly approaching a spiritual master. We find that this is how Krsna arranged for the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita. Arjuna being very learned, coming from a very high, royal birth and being known for his great ability in his field of fighting, as long as he spoke as if he knew anything, as if he understood what is truth, what is to be done, what is not to be done, his guru, Sri Krsna, remained silent, He had nothing to say. We are all in this condition to some extent. The more we know, the more we have, the more important we think we are, the more others perpetuate our illusion by praising us. And thus even when we are sitting right before God or His representative, we cannot hear what they say. But by the natural course of this material existence everyone is eventually frustrated, everyone is eventually put in a condition of utter helplessness and hopelessness. When Arjuna found himself in that condition of life then he realized that I cannot save myself, I cannot help myself.
prcchami tvam dharma-sammudha-cetah
yac chreyah syan niscitam bruhi tan me
sisyas te ‘ham sadhi mam tvam prapannam
That Krsna, I do not know anything, I am confused, bewildered. Now I am Your disciple, please instruct me.
We must admit that we are in ignorance. To the degree you think you are in knowledge, you are in ignorance. And to the degree you accept and admit from the core of your heart internally and externally that you are ignorant, to that degree only are you receptive to receive knowledge. So the worthy disciple, he approaches the spiritual master “I was born in the darkness of ignorance and by my efforts, by my intelligence, by my wealth, by my power, by my prestige, I am helpless to fight my way out of this darkness of ignorance”.
Om agyan timirandhasya
chakshur anmilitam yena
tasmai shri guruve namah
But my spiritual master, he has opened my eyes with the torchlight of knowledge. What is that torchlight of knowledge? It is through his words, by hearing from the spiritual master, submissively. Hare Prashnena Sevaya. By hearing submissively and acting according to his instructions, our hearts are illuminated with transcendental knowledge and realization of the supreme truth. And the spiritual master. he teaches us what is our eternal constitutional position.
Fruit of real knowledge is to surrender
We are helplessly dependent on God 24 hours a day. That He is the Supreme. He is the cause of all causes. And the goal of life is to simply accept our position and God’s position in truth and surrender. The fruit of real knowledge is surrender. If you understand that you are ‘anu’, you are infinitesimally small and Krsna is ‘vibhu’, He is infinitely, unlimitedly and inconceivably great, then we have no alternative but to surrender. But this surrender is a surrender of love, it is a surrender of trust.
When a child is drowning and realizes that it cannot save itself. When the parent come and reach out the hand, the child with complete faith and complete trust, surrenders, surrenders to the fact I cannot save myself and helplessly, desperately, fully dependently reaches out to the helping hand of the parent. Completely abandoning all consideration of saving oneself, one utterly trusts the protective hand of the parent. That is surrender. That is the surrender of love and trust. That is the surrender of faith. In the Bible it is said that one must become like a child, before he can come before God. That means we have to have the same innocence of helpless surrender as a child has for its parent. Similarly Srila Prabhupada used to tell us “When you chant the holy name you should chant like a baby crying for its mother in a helpless condition”. That innocence, that purity of heart is the real quality of surrender. That love comes when we understand that whatever Krsna does is perfect. Whatever Krsna does is for the good of all. And especially the way Krsna reciprocates with a surrendered devotee is only for the welfare, upliftment and enlightenment of all living beings. Krsna’s mercy is everywhere if you have the eyes to see it. If you do not have the eyes to see it, you will see faults, you will blame others, you will make excuses, you will not accept that Krsna’s mercy is here to help me.
God’s Plans are all good
In this regard there is a very beautiful story. It describes how there was a great king, and this king had a very very religious chief minister. He was a very great devotee with great faith and trust in the Supreme Personality of Godhead and for anything that happened within the kingdom, whether it was good whether it was bad, this minister would always say it is Krsna’s mercy. What kind of minister is this? Everything he sees, it is Krsna’s mercy. So of course, he would always give very good advice to the king of how to receive Krsna’s mercy, how to accept it, how to benefit from it. But some of the other ministers, the lower ministers, they were very envious of him. They were thinking, oh why this man, he is so simplistic, he just sees everything according to Krsna’s mercy. He is getting so much credit, so much praise, so much money. So one time the king was sitting with the other ministers, he was eating his dinner, he was talking, he was inattentive, and as he was cutting one of his preparations, the sharp knife cut off the tip of his finger and it started bleeding everywhere and the king was in great pain and the minister immediately said “Ah king, this is Krsna’s mercy”. The king looked at him like what can be Krsna’s mercy. And the other ministers, especially one particular minister, he was outraged “ This is an offense to the king. He is sitting there bleeding in pain, he has cut off part of his finger and you are saying this is Krsna’s mercy, this is blasphemy”. And when the king heard this, he said “Yes, this is blasphemy, how can you say like this, Krsna’s mercy? To hell with you”. So the guards came and they took the chief minister and put him in jail and they locked him up. And then the king he took that other envious minister and made him the chief minister. He was very happy, he was very proud “Now I have my position”. So the king would regularly like to go out hunting. So one day he went with many of his associates on a hunting excursion and the animal that he was chasing went deep into the forest and the king rode very very fast after the animal along with his chief minister who was always by his side and he went deeper and deeper and deeper into the jungles and the rest of the soldiers were left behind. They did not know where the king had gone. They came into a clearing and in that place there was a gang of dacoits. In the mode of ignorance they were worshipping the form of ghastly demigods. According to their superstition, these low-class dacoit cannibals decided it was time for a human sacrifice. So they saw the king and they surrounded him and they captured him and they gave him bath along with the chief minister and decorated him and his chief minister in the ceremonial clothes and then they took him before the ghastly form of this demigod. And then the head priest, he started to chant mantras to prepare for this very very great human sacrifice and he began to sprinkle them with auspicious, scented perfumes and then he very very carefully and meticulously checked to see if this object of sacrifice was worthy of the god and as he looked he was very satisfied. But then he saw on the king that part of his finger was severed. So he told the soldiers, the dacoits that this man he is not fit to be prasad to our god. He is not whole, he is not complete, he is missing his finger. We can only offer the best, the choicest, the most perfect food to our god. Therefore get rid of this foolish king. So they let the king go but then they looked at the chief minister and he was very strong, very stout, he had all of his fingers. So off with his head, he was sacrificed before the god. Then he immediately installed him (his old minister) as chief minister again and prayed “Please forgive me”. What have I done? I didn’t listen to you. It is Krsna’s mercy. If not for my finger being cut off I would have been dead today”. The chief minister said “Yes yes, everything is Krsna’s mercy. Cannot you see?” The king enquired “I understand that I am very foolish, it was Krsna’s mercy for me to get my finger cut off because it saved my life, but I have a question for you, you are such a great and noble and pious minister and yet I put you in jail. How can you say that’s Krsna’s mercy? He said if you didn’t put me in jail, I would have gone on that hunting expedition trip with you and my head would have been chopped off. Whatever God does for his devotees is all good. But an ignorant man cannot understand how God is working or why.
There is a similar story. The Chinese tell the story and the American Indians tell the story. Since I am from America, I will tell the American Indian version. There was a man and he was a very poor farmer. One day he was sitting on his fence and his friend came to see him. “Ha”, he said, “You have a very beautiful horse in your coral, where did it come from?” He said “I do not know”. He said “what happened is my son went out of town and he left the gate open and somehow or the other this horse just wandered in, so now it is mine”. Then the friend said “Ah it is very good luck”. And he looked at him and said “What do you mean by good luck? Good luck, bad luck, who knows?” The friend thought he was crazy. He said “You have a nice horse for free, How can you say it is not good luck?” So he went away scratching his head. The next day he came back the horse was gone. He said “Where is your horse?” He said “My son came back, he came back in the middle of the night. He didn’t know there was horse there, a black horse. He left the gate open. The horse left.” He said “Oh my God, bad luck”. He said “What do you mean by bad luck? Good luck, bad luck, who knows?” He said “Good luck, bad luck, you lost your horse, it is bad luck.” He walked away scratching his head. The next day he came back. There were seventy five horses in the corel. He said “Where did you get all these horses? These horses are worth so much. You are the richest man in our whole tribe. ” He said “You remember that one horse. He liked the food I gave him. When we left the corel open, he went out and told all his other friends, the other wild horses that there is very nice prasad here. So they all came back with him. Now I have seventy five horses. What to do?” He said “Oh my God, this is very good luck”. Good luck, bad luck who can tell? And the friend he could not understand this. So he came back the next day. All the seventy five horses were still there. He said “Ah you see, good luck”. He said “Where is your son?” He said “My son was trying to ride one of these horses. One of the horses threw him to the ground, smashed him down and broke both of his legs. I am an old man. Now I have to do all the farming. I have no one to help me. I do not know how I will survive.” The man said “Oh my God, this is very very bad luck”. The old man looked at him and said “Good luck, bad luck who knows?” What kind of crazy fellow is this? He went away. He came back the next day. He said “Ok old man what’s the latest news?” “Ah the latest news? One of the enemies, they sent their whole army to attack our tribe. And in order to protect all the young men in the whole tribe kingdom were drafted to fight against the enemy soldiers. So all the young men went up on that hill and every single young man in our whole tribe was slain, killed”. The man said “Oh my God, that is very bad luck. That means your son was killed”. He said “No because he had broken legs, they didn’t draft him. He is the only one who was not killed”. And then the man looked at the old man and said “Please tell me. Is this good or bad luck? I do not know. I am born in the darkness of ignorance. With the torchlight of knowledge please enlighten me.” And the old man replied. He said “ I have been in this world a long time and one thing I can tell you is this. You can never judge a thing by its face value”. In America we have a saying you cannot judge a book by looking at its cover. Things appear to be one way but we cannot take the appearance very seriously. We must understand this that the Supreme Lord, God always has a plan. And His plan is always for the good for all living beings. In happiness or distress, in pleasure or pain, in honour or dishonour, in success or failure, whatever comes into our life is coming by the mercy of God. And for God’s devotee, God promises kaunteya pratijanihi, na me bhaktah pranasyati. Declare it boldly Arjuna, that my devotee will never perish.
Krsna is all good. He is all perfect.
Om purnam adah purnam idam
purnat purnam udachyate
purnasya purnam adaya
That the Supreme Truth, Sri Krsna is perfect and complete. And everything He does is perfect and complete. But how He does it, sometimes it is very inconceivable and mysterious but a devotee never gives up this faith. He never sees a thing by how it appears. But he always sees not with his eyes, but with his ears. And what does Krsna tell us through our ears, that He is the Supreme Controller of all controllers and not a blade of grass moves without his sanction. And whatever He does for his devotee is ultimately for that devotee’s purification and glorification if the devotee has faith under those conditions. If the devotee loses his faith, he loses the most precious, valuable opportunity that only comes after millions of births. But if a devotee can simply maintain that precious faith under trying circumstances, then that devotee is eternally glorified. He sees things as it is. And it is only a matter of time till Krsna reveals the truth. So good luck, bad luck, who are we to tell? Krsna, He is the author of all the events of this world. In the heart of a devotee, a devotee is simply acting as a puppet for Krsna to teach the world.
Lord’s devotees are puppets in His hand
In America, they have found that one of the most effective ways of training children is through puppet shows. Did you know this? This is a very very popular medium for children, that if you want to teach them something you have puppets teach them. Because if a teacher sits in front of a child and says alright one plus one is two, the children are saying why should I listen to you, you are an adult. There is this generation gap we call it. When I was young there was a saying that anybody above thirty you cannot trust. And we meant it, we meant it with our heart and soul. There was a whole revolution against those above thirty unless they surrendered just like us. Then we would allow them to come into our ranks. To children parents are very mysterious, adults are very mysterious. But children love little puppets. They’ll believe anything a puppet tells them. So sometimes they teach children with puppets. The puppet says one plus one is two and the children go one plus one is two, Hari, Haribol. Whatever a puppet tells you but actually the puppet is being used by the teacher to teach the child. So the great devotees of the Lord, they are Krsna’s puppets in this world. A puppet has no separate interest except simply to move and speak according to the will of the puppeteer. So a devotee wants to completely surrender to the occupation of a puppet.
Srila Prabhupada, when he came to America, he wrote that beautiful poem on board the Jaladuta in the Boston Harbour. And there he was explaining that here I am, I am 70 years old, I have just suffered heart attacks and rheumatism. I hardly speak the language of English. I do not know anyone or anywhere. Look at this horrible city of Boston, smoke stacks, industry, polluting everything, polluted ocean, sense gratification and sinful activities rampant everywhere and yet here I am on the mission of my Guru Maharaj. I am supposed to change their heart and transform them into pure Vaisnavas. My dear Lord, Sri Krsna, I am simply a puppet in your hands. I am a puppet, I am a puppet, I am a puppet, now you make me dance however you make me dance, make me dance my Lord, according to your will, according to your pleasure, according to your satisfaction. I give up, I give up any dependence on my own power, on my own knowledge, on my own strength. The puppet is totally surrendered to the puppeteer. This is the burning desire of the devotee. As St. Francis said “Oh my Lord, allow me to be an instrument of Thy mercy”. When Krsna was showing the universal form to Arjuna, ‘Viswarup’, Krsna showed Arjuna that in the form of the universal form, He has already conquered and destroyed all these soldiers and Arjuna you just be My instrument. I am the doer. And the devotee’s prayer is “My Lord, let Your will be done through me”. So therefore the Lord teaches the world through His devotee, through his words and through his life. The spiritual master teaches the essence of the Gita “Sarva dharma paritagya”, surrender to Krsna, to have complete faith in the divine will of Krsna. But that is not enough because how many of us listen to words, unless we have the visual experience before our eyes. Therefore Krsna often puts his devotees in the most difficult, impossible, insurmountable conditions of life, just to show how the devotee, like a lotus flower, is untouched by any condition of this world.
Narayana para sarve
Na kutascana vibhyati
svarga ‘pavarga narakesu
Krishna teaches through His devotees
These are the words by Lord Siva. That the devotees of Narayan, they are so glorious, they have such faith, such love, such devotion in the Supreme Lord Narayan that whether they are elevated to the luxurious pleasures of heaven or whether they are cast into the burning flames of hell, they see no difference. They do not even make a distinction. They are only thinking, in this condition how can I serve You? In this way how can I please You? A devotee cares for neither heaven or hell, for neither freedom nor bondage. His only concern is how can I serve You? How can I please You? And there is no impediment to our devotional service except our own unwillingness to surrender. There is no physical condition that can act as an impediment to the pure devotion to the surrender, to the service of those who are sincere, because Krsna accepts the consciousness of our desire to please Him. And the more difficult the situation, the more the glories of a devotee are magnified when his only desire is to please Krsna. When that devotee is indifferent to the material circumstances, and simply with faith in God, says My Lord thank You.
tat te ‘nukampam su-samiksamano
bhunjana evatma-krtam vipakam
hrd-vag-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te
jiveta yo mukti-pade sa daya-bhak
That devotee who is put in the most difficult suffering predicament of life and in that condition with folded palms says “Thank you Krsna. I deserve worse. How can I serve You? I offer my obeisances to You”. That devotee alone is fit for mukti, liberation. No one else. So we should not be bewildered. Prahlad’s class mates were very bewildered when Prahlad was going through all this. They were saying Oh my God, I don’t want to be a devotee if this is what it means. Prahlad did not care, throw me in fire, put me under elephants, put me in burning oil, I don’t mind. My dear Lord, whatever You want to do, do with me but my only prayer is I remember You and I am grateful to You that You are my loving father in all circumstances. This is the glory of the great souls. And this is the message which Krsna delivers to the world through His devotees.
Om agyan timirandhasya, gyananjana salakya….
The divine plan of God behind all the events
The devotee does not only enlighten us and rescue us from our ignorant condition of life, drowning in the abyss of darkness and faithlessness and fear. By his words and by his life, he gives us knowledge, he gives us light, he gives us hope and he gives us faith, faith in the super-excellent love of Krsna. And this must be our conviction. This is not something that took place in sat yuga and the chapter closed there. Prahlad was accused by his father of being an enemy and therefore he was sentenced to death but Krsna saved him. Even Lord Ramachandra in the treta yuga, the demon of envy entered into the heart of Mantara and she wreaked fear into Kaikeyi “ If Ram is made king, He is envious of your son Bharat, because Bharat is better. He will banish Bharat to the forest and you will be without a son or you will be with him. So therefore you must get rid of this Ram.”
And due to false accusations Ram was banished to the forest for so many years. But that banishment was glorious. We still read and tears come from our eyes when we read this beautiful narration of Ramayana. Tears stream from our eyes when we hear the beautiful glories of Prahlad’s faith, his innocent, childlike faith even in the most difficult circumstances of life and death. But it did not end in treata yuga. In dvapar yuga, the Pandavas, they were also accused of so many bad things and they were banished to the forest and they lost everything and everyone was saying if they are such nice devotees why is that happening to them? They are not allowed in their own kingdom. They lost their wealth, they lost their prestige, they lost their armies, they lost their jewelry, they lost their clothing. It is like a prison, living in the jungle, wearing bark from trees, eating roots and herbs. Poor Bhima was starving to death for fourteen years. He never found enough to eat. And meanwhile if devotees are so fortunate, then why the Pandavas are so unfortunate? There is always this battle between the demons and the devotees but in the end, the devotees are always glorified. And the chapter did not end in dvapar yuga. Haridas Thakur was accused, he was arrested, he was accused, he was convicted, he was imprisoned and he was sentenced to death by being beaten in twenty-two market places. And people were thinking, if people surrendering to the holy name of Krsna are so much protected by Krsna, then why is he being beaten in twenty-two market places? They thought they conquered him. Though when he rose from the dead, he conquered all of them and then his fame and his glory were spread for all history. So you think that this great lila between the demigods and the demons, you think it ended then? It never ends. In this material world, it never ends. Even when God Himself comes or when His devotees come, there is always this great battle between the Lord and the demons. But those great souls who never give up their faith, those great souls who see the divine plan of God behind all the events of this world, those great souls who have the conviction that Krsna never abandons His devotee, those great souls who have faith that everything Krsna does, do not see how it appears, face value. There is no good luck or bad luck, it is all Krsna’s mercy. But when the test comes, those who are sincere, the persecution against guru will be like fuel, which simply nourish the faith, the devotion, the commitment and the surrender and make it burn like fire, like a blazing fire within the hearts of the sincere devotees. And those who are insincere, the fire goes out. How do you start a fire? A fire begins with a spark. A fire begins with a tiny little flame. But that flame needs oxygen. Therefore you fan it. [Did you ever start a fire? You get a little flame and then you go like this and if you fan it correctly, the flame goes….. But if you fan it incorrectly the flame goes ….] When you fan a fire it either goes out or it blazes. So this is the way the tests of Krsna effects the devotees life. If we are sincere when we are tested, our faith, our conviction, our surrender blazes like fire. But if we are insincere then our faith is extinguished. Everything Krsna does is perfect. Everything Krsna does is for the glorification of his devotees in the end but in the interim period it may appear different. But that is how He glorifies His devotee. By showing how even in the most difficult, fearful circumstances a devotee is equipoised with complete faith and surrender to the will of God. So when we see the great souls, they are put in real tests, big tests which make our tests seem like absolutely nothing. Are they disturbed?
tat te ‘nukampam su-samiksamano
bhunjana evatma-krtam vipakam…..
Krsna, if You want You can protect me, if You want You can kill me. You have every right to deal with me in any way You please because I am your servant. Those are the words of Bhaktivinod Thakur. In life or death, I only have You My Lord. I only have my love for You , my devotion, my faith, my trust in You. You must know that in the end Krsna’s devotee is glorified. But what is the real glory of His devotee? In all conditions of life, we must remember, there is no problem. The only problem is a lack of Krsna consciousness, no other problem to be found anywhere under the sun. If you are Krsna conscious everything is perfect. If you are not Krsna conscious everything is a big problem. Therefore we must learn to cry out the holy name in happiness or in distress.
Grihe Tako, vane tako, sada Hari bole tako
Sukhe dukhe bhulo nako vadane Hari naam koro re
gay gaura madhur sware
Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare.
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
gay gaura madhur sware
gay gaura madhur sware
Chant Krishna and be happy
Whether we are in the grihastha ashram with family and business, whether we are brahmacharis and sanyasis living in the ashram or living in the jungle, take the name of Krsna. Do not concern yourself with sukha dukha, happiness and distress. There is no prpblem with happiness and there is no problem with distress, if you are remembering Krsna by chanting His name. So this is the great lesson me must learn in our life and this is the great lesson that Krsna is trying to teach all of us.
Thank you very much.