(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 9.4.18-20)
sa vai manaḥ kṛṣṇa-padāravindayor
karau harer mandira-mārjanādiṣu
ghrāṇaḿ ca tat-pāda-saroja-saurabhe
śrīmat-tulasyā rasanāḿ tad-arpite
pādau hareḥ kṣetra-padānusarpaṇe
kāmaḿ ca dāsye na tu kāma-kāmyayā
Maharaja Ambarisa always engaged his mind in meditating upon the lotus feet of Krishna, his words in describing the glories of the Lord, his hands in cleansing the Lord’s temple, and his ears in hearing the words spoken by Krishna or about Krishna. He engaged his eyes in seeing the Deity of Krishna, Krishna’s temples and Krishna’s places like Mathura and Vrndavana, he engaged his sense of touch in touching the bodies of the Lord’s devotees, he engaged his sense of smell in smelling the fragrance of tulasi offered to the Lord, and he engaged his tongue in tasting the Lord’s prasada. He engaged his legs in walking to the holy places and temples of the Lord, his head in bowing down before the Lord, and all his desires in serving the Lord, twenty-four hours a day. Indeed, Maharaja Ambarisa never desired anything for his own sense gratification. He engaged all his senses in devotional service, in various engagements related to the Lord. This is the way to increase attachment for the Lord and be completely free from all material desires.
In Bhagavad-gita (7.1) the Lord recommends, mayy asakta-manah partha yogam yunjan mad-asrayah. This indicates that one must execute devotional service under the guidance of a devotee or directly under the guidance of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is not possible, however, to train oneself without guidance from the spiritual master. Therefore, according to the instructions of Srila Rupa Gosvami, the first business of a devotee is to accept a bona fide spiritual master who can train him to engage his various senses in rendering transcendental service to the Lord. The Lord also says in Bhagavad-gita (7.1), asamsayam samagram mam yatha jnasyasi tac chrnu. In other words, if one wants to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead in completeness, one must follow the prescriptions given by Krishna by following in the footsteps of Maharaja Ambarisa. It is said, hrsikena hrsikesa-sevanam bhaktir ucyate: bhakti means to engage the senses in the service of the master of the senses, Krishna, who is called Hrsikesa or Acyuta. These words are used in these verses. Acyuta-sat-kathodaye, hrsikesa-padabhivandane. The words Acyuta and Hrsikesa are also used in Bhagavad-gita. Bhagavad-gita is Krishna-katha spoken directly by Krishna, and Srimad-Bhagavatam is also krishna-katha because everything described in the Bhagavatam is in relationship with Krishna.
Transcendentalists and personalities
So there are two classes of transcendentalists. There is the impersonalist and the personalists. They both in fact seeking the diving realization which is the state of liberation beyond the suffering of this world. They are both seeking with same one supreme truth who is unlimited and infallible. But Krishna explains in the Gita –
ye yathā māḿ prapadyante
tāḿs tathaiva bhajāmy aham
manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ
As you approach me I will reward you accordingly. In fact I will reveal Myself to you accordingly. So the Lord, He has achintya sakthi – inconceivable potency. Just like an ordinary man, he may deal in one way with one person and completely different way with other person in order to make them profit or maintain a particular friendship. Each personality of each human being has many diversifications. A police officer when he catches a criminal, he is very harsh and very severe. When he comes home to his children, he is very soft, very warm, very loving. And when he comes under the subjugation of his wife, he is like a pet dog! In this way one single man can have many, many different apparent personality faces according to his relationships in this world. Krishna is the supreme personality. He is swayam Bhagavan! And therefore, His inconceivable opulence is that, of all living entities, which there are innumerable, he can reciprocate, can relate to each and every one of them uniquely, individually and personally. He does not have the same relationship with any two spirit souls.
Soul and Krishna
And how many spirit souls are there?
ahaḿ sarvasya prabhavo
mattaḥ sarvaḿ pravartate
iti matvā bhajante māḿ
Krishna is the creator of all spiritual and material worlds. How many fishes are in the sea? How many blades of grass? How many trees? How many creepers? How many insects? How many reptiles? How many birds in the sky? How many beasts in the land? How many varieties of human beings? Uncountable right on this little tiny planet! What to speak of the universe, the creation, and this just tiny little particle in comparison to all the living beings in the spiritual world who never refuse service to Krishna and come to this world of birth and death. And all of these living beings, Krishna is eternally reciprocating personally and directly. In this material world Krishna appears within everyone’s heart as the paramaatma! And He is uniquely expanding Himself to sit within the heart of every living being. You may not have seen the heart of a blade of grass but actually the blade of grass does have heart. The heart is the seat of the soul or consciousness. When we speak of heat we are not simply limiting the heart to a particular fleshly organ. In human species, it is within that organ that spirit soul and the Paramaatma make their altar or their seat. But, in every species of life according to how the body is designed, the Lord appears within the heart of that living being. And as explained in Bhagavad Gita –
hṛd-deśe ‘rjuna tiṣṭhati
Seated in the heart of every living being, I am fulfilling everyone’s desires. I am directing everyone.
sarvasya cāhaḿ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo
mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaḿ ca
vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo
vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham
That from within the heart the paramaatma, the Lord is individually dealing with every spirit soul and according to that spirit soul desire to approach Him, He is providing remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness.
And everyone is approaching Krishna. Because, this material energy is non-different than him so when we approach any object of sense gratification that is our approach to Krishna. If we want to enjoy something apart from Krishna, that means we are approaching Krishna in neglect, in rebellion. And if we want to surrender to Krishna that means we are approaching Him in love. So everyone is approaching Krishna. If you approach Him in an exploitative state not in a service state then He conceals His presence from within and without to fulfill your desire. Within the presence of God if you are conscious of Him, how can you engage in sinful activity? Therefore you want to engage in sinful activity so much, the Lord simply disappears from your vision so that you can sin to your hearts content. Because, that is what it takes for you to be cured or purified from that desire. Otherwise, the desire will simply be restrained and there will never be love. So therefore in this material world the Lord is in the form of paramaatma reciprocating with everyone, covering them over by His potency of Yogamaya which casts them under the influence of three gunas -the modes of material nature – goodness, passion and ignorance. And those who are transcendentalists, those who have become utterly frustrated with the futility of material life, understanding that to seek out temporary pleasure in this world will only frustrate us, it only puts us in the condition of anxiety today or tomorrow. Attachment to wealth, attachment to family, attachment to fame and praise – all these things they taste like nectar in the beginning but it is guaranteed that they will taste like poison in the end.
Overcoming the urges
How to overcome? Krishna explains in the Gita that one must tolerate the urges of mind and senses. Now the impersonalist class: their approach to the Lord is they simply want to struggle and strive with in their life through their sadhana or their spiritual discipline to detach themselves from all of the allurements and temptations of this world. And therefore through such processes as meditation, tapasya – tapasya consists of austerity such as fasting or taking very, very strong and difficult vows in which one restrains their senses and sometimes they even torture their own body with the purpose through this process I will become detached from the source of misery which is born of senses and their objects. Thus their goal is mukti. Mukti means in essence, the perfection of detachment which means you no longer have any desire for anything. You no longer have any aspiration for anyone. You are simply floating in that unlimited diving light of the Brahma Jyothi where there is no duality and there are no temptations there are no desires, there is no activity, there no personality. There is simply a state of eternal existence. Where there is eternal there cannot be pain. All pain is due to attachment to that which is temporary. But the Vaishnavas, those who are approaching the Supreme Personality of Godhead, their aspiration is not simply to detach themselves from matter but they are longing day and night, they are struggling, they are striving, they are making great sacrifices to become more and more attached to the lotus feet of Sri Krishna. They are not concerned with detachment from matter. They are concerned only with one thing – attachment to the service of Krishna. We find in these stories of Sukadeva Gosvami who is narrating this particular chapter of Bhagavatam that he was a brahmavaadi, he was a perfectly liberated soul, utterly detached from the dualities of the temporary existence. And he was enjoying the peace of that condition of light. Then he heard the beautiful glories and the pastimes of Lord Sri Krishna and the sweetness the beauty of the sound vibration of completely detached him from his detachment and his only aspiration was simply to become eternally attached to hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord. And he gave up that state of liberation and engaged eternally in the loving service of Sri Hari. There are many, many examples. In fact the great Bilva Mangala Thakur – Leela Suka, He offered a beautiful prayer that since I have tasted the sweetness of pure devotional service at the lotus feet of Lord Hari, mukti or liberation which is the supreme goal of all sacrifices for the impersonal class of philosophers, that mukti is standing with folded hands as my door waitress serve me in any way as I please. Srila Haridas Thakur, He explains in an assembly of learned souls that the chanting of the holy name of the lord must be chanted for one purpose alone – “Out of love for Krishna.” We shouldn’t chant the holy name of the Lord with the aspiration for any material benedictions, why? The holy name has the power to grant power to grant you the greatest of all treasures. It is true if you chant the holy name with a desire for material benediction you can appeal to the Lord and perhaps you will gain the fulfillment of that material position or acquisition but what a useless foolish approaches is this? If by approaching a multi millionaire who says I will give you anything you want and you say give one chapatti! You might as well go to any body and ask for a chapatti, you don’t go to the wealthiest man who is ready to give anything. There is a story of one person – he is carrying heavy, heavy load on his right shoulder. He was becoming so, so tired and his shoulder was aching so bad and he began to chant the holy name to relieve and the lord came appeared before him and said – “Oh I will grant any desire you have. What would you like? Anything you wish will be fulfilled.” He said – “my shoulder is aching so much and I can’t move this burden. It is so heavy please help me to shift to the other shoulder so I can get some relief.” That is foolishness. Therefore Srila Haridasa Thakur explained that when one chanting the holy name of the Lord, the supreme benediction for all humanity, pure loving devotion to the supreme truth is readily available. This should be our aspiration and our goal for chanting the holy name. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taught us how to chant properly –
na dhanam na janam na sundarim
kavitam va jagad-isa kamaye
mama janmani janmanisvare
bhavatad bhaktir ahaituki tvayi
My dear lord, I do not want any amount of wealth nor do I want any beautiful women, nor do I want any fame or adoration from followers. I do not even want liberation or relief from suffering. I only desire one thing that sentiment of pure love in which I can birth after birth after birth engage in your devotional service. That is the aspiration that is thought by Sri Chaitanya that should be within our heart when we chant holy name.
So the devotees of the lord their only desire is to ever increasingly become attached to Krishna, attached to everything in relationship to Krishna – His devotees, His Prasad, His deity, His Holy name. And how to become attached? It’s very simple. How do you become attached to something in this world? The more you associated with something nice, the more you become attached to it right? Is there is nice food, the more you associate, the more you become attached. Drugs or alcohol, for those in the mood of ignorance it gives a sort of pleasure at the beginning and you are not attached as it doesn’t taste good at all. When a child smokes his first cigarette it’s horrible. But somehow or other you want to attach himself to it. So after coughing and suffering after weeks and weeks of time finally due to association he is so attached to he never forgets that cigarette day and night he simply meditating where is my cigarette? Due to association! This is the perverted reflection of real life but the principle is essentially same. We want to become attached to Krishna like that. Srila Rupa Gosvami explains in Bhakti rasaamrta sindu there is a Sanskrit word manobhiram and he describes manobhiram means just like a beautiful boy and beautiful girl, when they associate with one another very much they become so much attached to each other they can’t stop thinking of each other day and night. When they are together they want to never leave. When they are apart they are simply longing to be together. This attachment is born from association. So Rupa Gosvami explains that same propensity if it is simply diverted towards Krishna our lives are on highest platform of liberated state of love. So by associating with Krishna we become attached to Him. And how to associate with Him? Mahajano yena gatah sa panthah – Him? Mahajano ena gats We can only understand the truth by following in the footsteps of great souls. Here Maharaj Ambarish
We can only understand the truth by following the footsteps of great souls. And here Maharaj Ambarish, He is a true mahatma, He is teaching us by his example – what a wonderful instruction it is? – How at every moment of the day he is teaching you how you can be attached to Krishna thru His association.
Process of Understanding Krishna As-He-Is
All of his senses, all of his inclinations, and his mind – how to engage all these faculties in Krishna’s association twenty four hours a day? This is one of the most important verses to know because thru understanding these qualities of Maharaj Ambarish we can learn how to be Krishna conscious at all time. After learning this one verse we have no excuse for ever be in Maya. When you don’t know something you have an excuse – I didn’t know! But this verse, this sloak, reveal the inner most secret by which it is revealed how at every single moment we can be Krishna conscious. And thru the process we become more and more and more and more attached to Krishna. As you become attached to Krishna simultaneously inevitably we naturally become more and more detached from material enjoyment.
Srila Yamuna acharya, that great acharyas of Sri Sampradaya, he prayed like this: You know at one time he is a great king enjoying the great wealth and opulence of the palace and the kingdom. And he was very much enjoying the facilities that were been provided and of course people who would like to enjoy material life are especially fond of sex life. Because sex life as far as material enjoyment goes is the culmination of pleasure. So Yamuna acharya prayed – “my dear lord Sri Narayan, since I have tasted the wonderful sweetness that is derived from serving your lotus feet that flavor is so extraordinarily wonderful and sweet that when I even think of the highest pleasure in this material world sex enjoyment I spit at its thought and my lips curl in distaste.” That is the natural quality of one who is attached to Krishna.
Rupa Gosvami, he warns us – if you want to maintain your attachments to family, wealth, home, prestige of this world, please I warn you do not go to the bank of Yamuna at Keshi Ghat because there you will find the supreme beauty of Govinda who is standing in the three fold bending form with His lips which are reflecting the full moon light of Vrindavan playing up on his celebrated flute. Because once you see that form you never want to go back to the material aspirations of the common man. So Maharaj Ambarish is teaching us how to always see Krishna. How to see Krishna? Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur used to say – “Do not try to see Krishna. Try to serve Krishna in such a way that He wants to see you.” And this is the example of Maharaj Ambarish that in serving Krishna He wants to see us and thus He reveals Himself. That is the only process by which Krishna can be understood as He is.
Proper Engagement for the mind
So, you have this mind. What to do with this mind? It’s here, there, everywhere and some place beyond everywhere. Arjuna explains that the mind is more difficult to control than the raging wind. Ambarish Maharaj explains by his example that he always engaged his mind in meditating up on the lotus feet of Krishna. We all have a propensity to speak. How many times, does our uncontrolled propensity to speak get us in so much trouble? Create so much anxiety? Offend other people? And what to speak more than anything else affects our consciousness. Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur used to say that – “nonsense talk breads nonsense thought which breads the repetition of birth, old age, decease, and death.” Bhakti Vinod Thakur says – “jive phele vishaya-sagare – that the tongue is the most voracious and uncontrollable of the senses and by simply controlling the tongue all the other senses will naturally come in line.” The body is like a boat. The boat is very big but there something called the rudder which just looks like a tongue actually underneath the boat and according to how the rudder is directed the whole boat is directed only by that. Similarly we have this big, big body, and this big, big mind but this little tongue is giving direction to our whole life. If we can control our tongue and direct it toward Krishna our whole existence is always directed towards Krishna.
Sense Control – Maharaj Ambarish’s Teaching
So Maharaj Ambarish is giving us by his example. He knows by which we can control our words – “His words in describing the glories of the Lord”. We have these indiryas – organs like hands what to do with them? It’s hard to keep the hand still. Even when you are just sitting in one place your hand starts going like this … picking up pencils, and picking up whatever is around and is just going like this …. For no reason what so ever the hand wants to be busy. Everyone is like that! What to do with your hand? Cut them off? No! The perfection – “His hands in cleansing the Lord’s temple” His ears!! Oh! How much the ears want to hear the sweat sound? – The ears in hearing the words spoken by Krishna or about Krishna. The eyes! He engaged his eyes in seeing the deity of Krishna. Krishna’s temple and Krishna’s places like Mathura and Brindavan. You see, if you use your eyes for these purposes, and the eyes loose all the desire to watch the Television, to go the cinema, to look at phantasmagoric attractions of this world which are simply meant to divert our attention away from God. Our senses must have engagement. The idle mind, the idle sense are devils workshop. Therefore Maharaj Ambarish is teaching us – your eyes wants to see something beautiful? Behold the beautiful form of the Lord decorated in the temple, go there, see Him, and see the beauty of the temple. Go to the holy places like Mathura, Brindavan. See the natural sanctity of that place. hrsikena hrsikesa-sevanam bhaktir ucyate – when our senses are connected to Krishna thru these processes, they become purified. He engaged the sense of touch in touching the bodies of the Lord’s devotees. That means developing more and more intimate loving relationship with devotees of the Lord and serving them. He engaged the sense of smell in smelling the fragrance the Tulasi offered to the Lord. He engaged his tongue in tasting the Lord’s Prasad. He engaged his legs in walking to the holy places and temples of the Lord. He engaged his head in humbly bowing down before the Lord and all his desires in serving the Lord twenty four hours a day. Indeed, Maharaj Ambarish never desired anything for his own sense gratification. He engaged all his senses in devotional service in various engagements related to the Lord. This is the way to increase attachment for the Lord and be completely free from all material desires.
sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam
hrsikena hrsikesa-sevanam bhaktir ucyate
The same mind, the same sense that we have right now that are time and time again dragging us for one temptation and allurement to another, attraction and aversion, attraction and aversion, attraction and aversion. In this way we have just been tossed about by the waves of Maya due to our attachment to sense gratification. But those same senses which are causing us bondage and suffering when they are engaged in the service of Hrsikesa the Lord of the senses, we become nirmalam. Nirmalam means to be purified. Our senses become purified of all selfishness, purified from that deep rooted propensity to lord it over the material nature. And in the completely purified state only one desire remains – “My Lord how can I serve you? I love you. How can I be more and more and more attached to you eternally? How can I ever reciprocate with your love to giving mine everything for your pleasure?” That unmotivated in-interrupted state of love is the pure natural healthy state of the soul that is part and parcel of Krishna. SO the spiritual master, that is His great mercy up on us. He teaches us practically on a day-to-day basis on how to fallow the footsteps of Maharaj Ambarish and how to keep all of our senses and our mind, all of our inclinations connected to Krishna in the service of Krishna. And it is essential it is required to accept such a spiritual master. Because after all, how do we know what Krishna wants unless we are under the direction of someone who knows Krishna. The Guru parampara is that divine system by which the will of God is preserved, protected and handed it down from generation to generation to generation of saintly persons.
And when the spiritual master reveals to us this eternal loving message and we receive it with submissive heart then we are the most fortunate of all the fortunate souls. Because thru the mercy of the spiritual master one can attain the supreme mercy of Krishna!
yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado
yasyaprasadan na gatih kuto ‘pi
And the bonafied spiritual master does not want to cheat us. A real spiritual master never engages us in any activity save-and-except the activities of Maharaj Ambarish. He teaches us practically not just some theoretical conceptualization of truth but on very real down to earth practical daily way of living and teaches us how to always be engaged in Krishna’s service and thus how to purify our attachment to attachment to His lotus feet.
Thank you very much
Question: …….. All twenty four hours we are not able to maintain the spiritual engagement of all the senses. Sometimes we are bewildered by maya. How does one see that all twenty four hours completely engaged in spiritual activities.
Answer: By associating with the devotees of the Lord because they help us fix our mind in the order of the spiritual master. Krishna says in Gita
bahu-sakha hy anantas ca
This path is for those who are resolute in purpose and aim is one. The intelligence of those who are irresolute is many-branched. How to keep our mind at focus in life, our goals resolute in purpose? How to keep our goal – “the loving service of the God and other living beings who are part of Him”? This is only possible by making the instruction of Guru our life and soul. The extent we make the order of Guru our life and soul to that extent our mind and senses will be fully attached to the Krishna. To the degree we make our own opinions or the opinions of our conditioned souls our guiding light in life to that degree our consciousness, our intelligence will be many, many, many branched. Krishna says to control the mind in takes constant practice and detachment. What is that practice? – To constantly practice, engaging our senses in the service of the instruction of Krishna and Guru. And what is detachment? – To not consider relevant anything outside of those instructions, to accept things favorable for devotional service and reject those things unfavorable to devotional service. What is favorable and unfavorable is understood thru Guru, Sadhu, and Sashtra. Thru this process of constant practice and detachment, Krishna says the mind can be purified. It will be purified by the mercy of God. Krishna says in the second chapter of Gita by following the regulative principles of freedom, one obtains the complete mercy of the Lord and thus becomes free from all attractions and aversions of this world. So we must practice very sincerely the regulative principles of freedom and by that we attract the mercy of God.
yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasado
Thank you very much