We find in the first canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam, a beautiful prayer offered by Queen Kunti to the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna. In this prayer she is glorifying the Lord by addressing Him by his various names. Each and everyone of Lord Sri Krishna’s divine names, contains all of His illustrious glories. God is one but simultaneously he is full of variety and each name manifests a very a proper state of mind.


Why God has many names?

Each and everyone of God’s names are invested with his divine potencies. So the name of God is one. Why could not God conveniently only appear in one name? Why so many? At one of our interfaith conferences one very high posted minister of a particular religion was explaining that the greatest problem with religion is; there are many names of the God. And people are arguing in so many ways over which is the proper name of God. Therefore the best thing is if we just call him God and forget all of his names. Stop addressing by his various names because they only cause disunity and confusion. Of course many people were listening and thinking that this sounded good and made sense. But you see the purpose of religion is not to create a superficial sense of unity. The purpose of religion is to understand the unique, unlimited, variegatedness of God’s infinite qualities, to love him and surrender to him. So, therefore, the Lord has many names, because although he is one, still his infinite relationships with his infinite devotees carry a unique quality in each and every relationship.


The meaning of Krishna’s various names

Krishna is the son of Vāsudeva therefore he is called upon as Vāsudevāya. He is also the son of Dasarath therefore he is called upon as Dasrathinandan. He is also the reservoir of all the pleasure therefore he is called as Rama. He is also the all-attractive form that like a magnet draws all consciousness to him, therefore he is called Krishna. He is also the killer of Kamsa therefore He is called Kamsa-nisudana.  He is also the beloved of all the Gopis thus he is called upon by Gopijanavallabha. He is also the person who gives divine pleasure to Sri Radha thus He is called Radha-Ramana. And in this way the Lord reveals unity in variety. Unity and variegatedness simultaneously – Acintya Bheda Bhed tattva. But those who do not understand this, who do not understand that the Lord appears to attract our minds to his infinite loving pastimes, they try to narrow the Supreme Personality of Godhead to the smallness of their own mind, their own power to comprehend.

ThereforeKrishnaexplains in Bhagavad-Gita the verse we are reading tonight.

yā nisā sarva-bhūtānām

tasyām jāgarti samyami

yasyām jāgrati bhūtāni

sā nisā pasyato muneh



That what is night for all beings is the time of awakening for self controlled. And the time of awakening for all beings is night for the introspective sage.

In the purport His divine grace Prabhupada explains


Material night v/s spiritual night

There are two classes of intelligent men. One is intelligent in material activities for sense gratification, and the other is introspective and awake to the cultivation of self-realization. Activities of the introspective sage, or thoughtful man, are night for persons materially absorbed. Materialistic persons remain asleep at night due to their ignorance of self-realization. The introspective sage remains alert in the night of the materialistic men. The sage feels transcendental pleasure in the gradual advancement of spiritual culture, whereas the man in materialistic activities, being asleep to self-realization, dreams of varieties of sense pleasure, feeling sometimes happy and sometimes distressed in his sleeping condition. The introspective sage is always indifferent to materialistic happiness and distress. He goes on with his self-realization activities undisturbed by material reactions.


The inconceivable potency of the Lord

It’s very difficult to understand the mind of one who is purified in consciousness, always surrendered at the feet of the Lord. In fact it is impossible to understand because our power of comprehension is limited to our own conditioned framework of what is reality. Krishna’s potencies are inconceivable, acintya sakti and those who are surrendered at His lotus feet to the extent they have given up all personal ambition, they are completely under the control of that inconceivable potency of the Lord. So really we simply have to accept with the heart full of faith. ThereforeKrishna explains here that such a man has a completely different outlook of the world than the ordinary person in the society.

Lord Jesus Christ also said ” because I have come to teach a message which will take you out of this world, the world hates me. And if you follow me, the world will hate you. And if the world does not hate you that means you are not really following me”. This is not just a principle of the Christian tradition because here in the Bhagavad-gita which is the summary study of all the Vedic literatures, Lord Sri Krishna in essence is saying the same thing. That what is night for the ordinary living being is a day for the introspective sage and vice a versa. Night time is the time when materialists really love to enjoy to their full capacity. You can hear the background music in tonight’s program I do not know what they are doing but obviously they are trying to enjoy. Now their enjoyment is simply a disturbance for us is it not? But when we are performing nice kirtan tumultuously vibrating the divine sound of Krishna’s name, we are very happy. Would you agree? But they were probably thinking that  we were creating a great disturbance.



Pleasing society

You can please some of the people some of the time but you cannot please all of the people all of the time. One of the greatest encumbrances that impedes a devotees advancement is that we are too much concerned about what society will think of us. If you want to please the society, – (first of all you cannot please the society, so you might as well just forget it!) then you have to be just like the society. And in society everyone has a different opinion. If you become very very popular, that means you are going to be to that extent very unpopular amongst the other people. And they are going to destroy you and kill you.


Society idols

Just like in the music world. I was born in America. In my generation everyone was listening to rock-n-roll music and the young people were very happy to hear this. And whoever sang very nicely was the most popular person in the whole young generation. People were mad. They would have to have bodyguards just to protect them because people wanted remnants. They would take pieces of their clothes off, they would tear them up and try to tear hair off their heads. I have one of the Beatles hairs. Little did they care that the poor man was bleeding from the skull. I have one of the Beatles pieces of his shirt. Put it in the frame of my room, little did they care that he had a broken arm because they pulled off his arm. People were mad after these celebrities. But the older generation, they hated these people, they thought they were completely contaminating and polluting the youth. And the older generation had their own heroes in the entertainment and music world and the young people thought my God these people are disgusting! So who pleases everyone in this society? Whatever you do  you are damned. As they say “you are damned if you do, you are damned if you don’t”.


What is normal in society?

When I was young, I had long hair. My parents said why you don’t cut your hair? So when I came back with the shaved head (laughs), they said why you don’t grow your hair? I said no matter what I do, you are never satisfied. They said just be normal. I said there is no such thing as normal. What’s normal for you is not normal for someone else. What is normal? Normalat New Vrindavan is they have shaved head. They said be normal the way this society is. But in another society something else is normal.. And even within this society everyone is arguing over what is normal. What is the Truth? So please if you really want to come close to God, you have to be indifferent to what the men and women of this world think about you. You have to simply try to please Krishna that is all. To the degree we are trying to impress people to that degree we do not impress people.


Success only attracts envy….

I was recently inParisI got a very wonderful realization while I was there. We were at the Louvre, which is one of the most beautiful masterpieces of the architectural design in the history of the western world. And just to approach from the street to the main entrance you have to walk about 15 minutes through beautiful gardens and fountains, trees, flowers and beautiful statues hand carved out of marbles by the finest artists ofEurope. Each one is worth a fortune and within the building each room is a unique masterpiece in itself of architectural design of precious artwork. So we were thinking, the persons that built this were obviously building it to try to impress their friends. But actually what happened is they worked so hard to try to impress people thinking that there is some happiness. There was sense of pleasure in impressing others. But the people they tried to impress superficially said yes, yes this is very beautiful but inside their hearts they were envious and they hated the person for what he did. They were thinking why I don’t have this, I should have this. Why you are having this? If you talk about what you have done everyone will think what a proud rascal you are. And if you show what you have done through your developments people will simply condemn you for showing off. So what is the use? This is the nature of this world. People are very envious of one another.


And criticism

Even in spiritual life you will find criticism. Srila Prabhupada what did he do? All the great sadhus inIndiawere saying that if only the world will understand the Bhagavad-Gita, the essence of the Vedic culture. If only the whole world will chant the holy name ofKrishna, then this world will be a wonderful place. So, then, Srila Prabhupada, at the age of seventy, with no money, with no support, terribly ill with sea sickness, palpitations of the heart, went on this cargo ship, the Jaladuta to New York City. And he struggled and strived. He wasn’t concerned about impressing people. He was concerned with purifying people. But even such a pure and genuine effort where he actually spread the Vedic culture all over the world, translated the Bhagavad-gita through which tens and millions of people are reading it and changing their lives, and he made the Hare Krishna mantra, the principle mantra of all the Vedas, famous throughout every continent of the world was criticized. InAmerica, most of the older generation thought why this nonsense Swami was taking away their children and changing their lives. When he came back toIndia, the sadhus said, Haanh! So what he made a bunch of mlechhas and yavanas chant Hare Krishna, what is this accomplishment? He did not follow the strict principles of Brahmanism. Srila Prabhupada told us that whatever you do people will criticize you.

yasya prasadad bhagvat prasado yasya prasadad na gati kuto api


Work only to please Krishna

Therefore our concern is to please our Guru and Krishna, we are not concerned with anyone else. If you are concerned with everyone else, then you are welcome to rot in this material world birth after birth after birth. Because there is only one way out and that is to please Krishna. And pleasingKrishna means becoming anti-material, means being different. That means attaching yourself to the selfless devotion of the Lord and not to the sinful activities of sense enjoyment.


Even the Lord is criticized

There are many wonderful stories in this regard of great devotees of the Lord. Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s spiritual master was Iswara Puri and Iswara Puri’s spiritual master was Madhvendra Puri. The greatest desire in their lives was that the seed of love of God be planted in everyone’s hearts. And then it should be watered through the pure sound of Krishna’s holy name. So Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu took his Guru and his Param Guru’s mission to heart and began to spread the glories of the holy name in all directions. And his own Guru’s God brother Ramacandra Puri, when he came to Jagannath Puri, he could only find faults in Lord Chaitanya. He was publicly accusing Him of being a sense enjoyer, a bogus sannyasi and a low class Vaishnava. Of course, it was breaking the hearts of the devotees to hear this. But Lord Caitanya kind of enjoyed the whole situation. He said yes what is saying is true let him go on. And for many many months he was making these accusations. And Lord Chaitanya was just saying yes yes let him go on, everything he says is true. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was simply blasphemed by this man. AndKrishnahimself who was glorified as personified Vedas themselves, when he met Sisupal, all Sisupal could do was find fault with Him. Sisupal said thisKrishnawhat is He, who is He, why you glorify Him, you don’t even know who His mother is? Some say Devaki and Vasudev is his mother, some say Yashoda and Nanda Maharaj. What kind of low class person is he? We don’t even know which caste he is from.  Is he a kshatriya?, Is he a vaisya? Nobody even knows. Even whenKrishnacomes to this world, materialistic people find fault in Him. So do you think that you are better thanKrishna? Do you think that they are not going to find fault with you?


Cannot serve two masters

If you become a nice materialist some other class of materialist will find fault in you. And devotees think you crazy. If you enjoy your senses devotees say you are in maya, you are a rascal. And if you chant in kirtan then the materialist say you are insane, you have gone crazy.

Therefore Lord Jesus said you cannot serve two masters. You will either hate one, or you will either be loved by one or hate the other. You have to choose your master, Then he says you cannot love God and mammal simultaneously.


If we please Krishna our lives are perfect 

And similarly Lord Sri Krishna he explains in this verse that what is night for all beings is time of awakening for the self controlled persons. So, therefore, inKrishnaconsciousness, this is our great ambition.


atah pumbhir dvija-srestha


svanusthitasya dharmasya

samsiddhir hari-tosanam

(SBG 1.2.13)That whatever our occupational duty may be, our goal is simply to please Krishna. We have no other concern. Whether we make profit or whether we make loss, whether we are successful or whether we fail, whether the world loves us or whether the world condemn us we are not concerned we will do our best for Krishna’s sake. And if it is pleasing to Him then our life is perfect. That is all. So when we take to Krishnaconsciousness on the basis of guru, sadhu and sastra, we have to understand what the truth is. We have to live our lives on the basis of guru, sadhu and sastra. Krishna consciousness is a serious movement for serious people.


One moon is better than a million stars

Srila Prabhupada said better one moon than millions of stars, because however many stars are in the sky they give no light, but the full moon lights up the entire atmosphere. There is no need for lights in full moon. This one bulb can only cover this much and emit burning heat, but the light rays of the moon are so powerful that they light up the whole earth and yet the rays are cool and refreshing, they are sweet like nectar. So better one full moon than millions of stars or millions of electrical bulbs.


Very few people want to hear the truth

Srila Prabhupada used to say if he told people what they wanted to hear he could have had millions of followers, but because he was speaking the truth, of what they need to hear to purify their lives, most people are against him, and only a few serious people want to surrender to God, because that is what he’s teaching. That we must live for Krishna, that we must surrender to the divine will ofKrishna. And that surrender means to put aside our preconceived ideas of what will make us happy. To put aside our own false ego, to put aside our natural affinities and attachments and to try to please our guru andKrishna.


Giving up our freedom

In this world we are brainwashed to be the master, to be the enjoyer but inKrishnaconsciousness we are taught to be sub-ordinate. In very frank terms we are taught slavery, to be a slave. Who wants to be a slave in this world? People fight for freedom and were striving to give up our freedom and be slaves. What does that mean? To surrender means to surrender your freedom, to surrender your independence and as Prabhupada used to say to become a Vaikuntha man, to becomeKrishna’s man. Of course when we decide to do that, the power of the gesture of that love is so great thatKrishnabecomes sub-ordinate to that love.


You are not God

The ultimate extent of this desire to be the enjoyer is found in the Mayavada philosophy. Because they are teaching that in the ultimate state you can become God. By performing your tapasya and by performing various forms of meditation, you will become God the supreme enjoyer, the supreme master, the controller of all that exists. For a devotee that state of consciousness is worse than death. kaivalya narkayate  Prabodhananada Saraswati prayed that he would rather live in hell than to attain the impersonal state of kaivalya or be under the impression that he’s the Supreme Master or God.


Love means slavery to the beloved

Srila Prabhupada used to tell us that the sastras tell us that when you surrender to be Krishna’s slave, to simply do the will of Krishna, thenKrishnabecomes subordinate to you. You become greater than God. Arjuna surrendered to Krishna andKrishnabecame his charioteer, his driver. InIndia, most wealthy people who has cars they also have drivers. It is not a very distinguished job. Go right, Go left; wait one hour, two hours, three hours, four hours, five hours sometime nothing to eat, nothing to drink and you are just waiting. And the master, your master could not care less that you are waiting he is just doing his business. You are waiting and waiting meanwhile the police is telling to you to move and you are waiting. Such a menial job.Krishnabecame Arjuna’s driver. Go right He went right, Go left… pull my chariot between the two armies, Oh Krishna. Yes (Maharaj produces the chariot movement sound). He took the most menial service, Why? Because Arjuna surrendered to His will, in love. Love means slavery to the beloved. And inKrishnaconsciousness we are teaching the supreme state of that.


Paying obeisances – the greatest joy

I remember when Srila Prabhupada was sitting in a room atNew Yorkairport in 1972 and all the devotees bowed down. I was just new. I just came fromIndiaI didn’t know what was going on inAmericaanymore. I didn’t want to know what was going on.  This reporter came up to me and asked why are you bowing your head to a man? Isn’t that humiliating? Isn’t that a disgrace to your integrity that you bow down to another man? What is your comment? I was thinking welcome back toAmerica. So this man is the representative of the God, to bow my head at God and at His servants is the greatest joy and greatest pleasure in my life. And all they wrote in the paper was that these people bow their head thinking He is God. So what do we care what they think. The greatest pleasure of a devotee is to place his head at the feet of theKrishnaand His devotee. I’m your servant eternally. And those who like this idea, Haan! very nice. And those who do not like this idea, very nice too but that is our conviction.


Accept both Bouquets & Brickbats

Everything is very nice whether they stone you, or throw flowers upon you. Which one do we prefer, neither one. When I am inIndiasitting here, people put garlands on me. When I’m inAmericaat the campus doing the same thing, people throw stones at me, tomatoes, eggs, water, buckets of water, apples, potatoes, stool, urine, etc. So many varieties of things I’m offered when I’m chanting Hare Krishna. And what the great acaryas are teaching us is to receive them all in such a way that it is very nice. They throw stool, urine, stone on you, you think O! very nice,Krishnais reciprocating. And if they garland you, yes this is forKrishnaalso. So, whatever our occupation, we have to understand that the fulfillment of our life’s desire is complete only whenKrishnais pleased. Let us aspire only for this. His eternal loving service.

Thank you very much. Hare Krishna. Are there any questions?


Never question great souls

There is a story of Rupa Goswami. One day He was sitting in Vrindavan and just became immersed in the eternal Lila of Vrindavan and his consciousness was going deeper and deeper in loving sentiments in the pastimes of Radha and Krishna. And there he was situated where the Gopis and the sakhis were decorating Srimati Radharani with beautiful jewels and flowers. And some of the Gopis were combing and braiding her hair in wonderful artistic ways. And Rupa Goswami, although his body was sitting there, his consciousness was united with his eternal relationship with Krishnaas rupa manjari in the spiritual world, assisting the gopis in decorating Srimati Radharani. And Krishna, he was so attracted by the beauty of Srimati Radharani that he was hiding behind the other Gopis and watching Radharani’s hair being combed in this way. So after her hair had been combed very nicely, the Gopis put a mirror in front of Sri Radharani and she looked in the mirror. And when she looked in the mirror, she saw Krishnabehind her secretly watching. So she became very very embarrassed and she just started taking her cloth and covering her head and trying to look nice and chaste before Krishna. And when Rupa Goswami saw this he just started laughing like anything, how Radharani was embarrassed in front of Krishna. And at that point one submissive person who wanted to inquire about spiritual matters from Rupa Goswami came before Rupa Goswami with very heavy heart. He was very serious, he had some problems. And Rupa Goswami looked at him and started laughing. And this man was thinking, what kind of great soul is this, he is laughing at me though I’m having problems and he just left. He went to Sanatana Goswami and said I went to Rupa Goswami and he just started laughing at me for no reasons, not very respectful thing to do. Sanatana Goswami explained that you have to understand that Rupa Goswami is not of this world. Vaisnavera kriya vigena bhutra You can never understand the minds of the great soul. What they are experiencing, what they are doing, why they are doing.

Written by

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.

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About Me

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.