Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya!
tataś ca vaḥ pṛcchyam imaḿ vipṛcche
viśrabhya viprā iti kṛtyatāyām
sarvātmanā mriyamāṇaiś ca kṛtyaḿ
śuddhaḿ ca tatrāmṛśatābhiyuktāḥ
(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 1.19.24)
O trustworthy brāhmaṇas, I now ask you about my immediate duty. Please, after proper deliberation, tell me of the unalloyed duty of everyone in all circumstances, and specifically of those who are just about to die.
Purport – by His Divine Grace, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada
In this verse the King has placed two questions before the learned sages. The first question is what is the duty of everyone in all circumstances, and the second question is what is the specific duty of one who is to die very shortly. Out of the two, the question relating to the dying man is most important because everyone is a dying man, either very shortly or after one hundred years. The duration of life is immaterial, but the duty of a dying man is very important. Mahārāja Parīkṣit placed these two questions before Śukadeva Gosvāmī also on his arrival, and practically the whole of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, beginning from the Second Canto up to the last Twelfth Canto, deals with these two questions. The conclusion arrived at thereof is that devotional service of the Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, as it is confirmed by the Lord Himself in the last phases of the Bhagavad-gītā, is the last word in relation to everyone’s permanent duty in life. Mahārāja Parīkṣit was already aware of this fact, but he wanted the great sages assembled there to unanimously give their verdict on his conviction so that he might be able to go on with his confirmed duty without controversy. He has especially mentioned the word śuddha, or perfectly correct. For transcendental realization or self-realization, many processes are recommended by various classes of philosophers. Some of them are first-class methods, and some of them are second- or third-class methods. The first-class method demands that one give up all other methods and surrender unto the lotus feet of the Lord and thus be saved from all sins and their reactions.
Parikshit Maharaj performed great service so others could imitate him:
The Srimad Bhagavatam, which is sometimes called the Paramahamsa Samhita, the commentary of the Brahma Sutra by Veda Vyasa himself, the author of the Vedas, is the dialogue between Maharaja Parikshit and Srila Sukadeva Goswami and the prime topic of all of the twelve cantos of Srimad Bhagavatam is the answer to these two questions.
What is the unalloyed duty of everyone in all circumstances, and specifically what is the prime duty of one who is about to die? The Srimad Bhagavatam, is considered to be the most important scripture because these two questions specifically pertain to each and every one of us. People do not like to discuss the topic of death. Why? Because of fear. Because they know it is for them and they do not want to admit it. They want to hide their eyes, hide their consciousness from the inevitable fate of these material bodies that we consider to be ourselves. Maharaja Parikshit was cursed to die in seven days. Therefore upon his death notice, he could no longer hide from the fact. He had to face the reality of death that was standing right before him. Actually, Maharaja Parikshit was such a powerful king and mystic, he could have counteracted this curse. He could have avoided the situation if he so wanted. But he did not want for two reasons. One, he was a compassionate man and he wanted to set an example for the world to follow. Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita (3.21):
yad yad ācarati śreṣṭhas
tat tad evetaro janaḥ
sa yat pramāṇaḿ kurute
lokas tad anuvartate
What great men do, the common man will naturally follow in their footsteps.
Just like in a family, every son imitates the father when he is young. Every daughter imitates the mother. Because, in their eyes there is no one greater. They want to be just like them. Usually when they become teenagers they want to be just the opposite. But when they are young, and still think that their parents are great, they want to be just like them. If their parents smoke cigarettes, they will wait till their parents leave and will start putting cigarettes in their mouth and looking in the mirror and thinking, “Ah, just see I’m smoking cigarettes”. If the parents keep liquor in the house, they will wait till their parents leave and will sneak and take it “Ah just see, I’m grown up now, I’m drinking”. If they see their parents chanting the Holy Names of God and worshipping the Deity, then they will be very anxious to chant the Holy Names of God and worship the Deity. Just like we saw, friday night, our little Priyavrat, Krishnachandra Prabhu and Radhapriya Mataji’s, little boy. He saw his grown up father dancing and chanting the Holy Name in the middle of the circle, so he jumped into the middle of the circle and began to dance and chant. Like father, like son. Therefore the prime duty of a parent is to behave in such a way, that the child will naturally be a devotee of God and perfect his life. The important responsibility of a king is he sets the highest personal example, for everyone to follow and therefore Maharaja Parikshit accepted the death notice gratefully because he knew he can render great service to all of his citizens and for all men for all times to come.
One should live a meaningful life by performing service to the Lord:
And another thing is this, that Maharaja Parikshit understood that duration of life is not very important a quality. It is said in the Srimad Bhagavatam, better one moment of full consciousness of the Truth than a long, long life simply dreaming in illusion. Few years back I was in Northern California and I went there for a specific reason. Because Srila Prabhupada, uses in his purport, sometimes the example of when he went to Northern California and saw the Redwood trees, some of them five to seven thousand years old and he explains, what is the use of such a life. Seven thousand years just standing there in a practically unconscious state. Whereas, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu lived 48 years. What kind of 48 years was it? Shankaracharya lived only 32 years, Lord Jesus Christ 31 years, and just see the mark they made on the world. Just see the dignity of their purpose of their lives. In America there is a famous television show. Everyday, it’s a new show. Millions of people watch it. Everyday, this newsman finds somebody in America that is over 100 years old and on their birthday he puts their picture on the television and tells a little about them. Most of them what do they do? They play cards, they play checkers, they don’t know what to do. They are simply existing, they are surviving with no purpose, with no aim, simply trying to avoid death, day by day by day. Maharaja Parikshit did not want to be such a person.
Who thinks about those people after they die? They are gone, they are forgotten very soon in the pages of history. But these great souls, they are remembered even five thousand years later. So Maharaja Parikshit spoke on behalf of you and me. An intelligent person, a wise man or woman, will identify with the teachings of Srimad Bhagavatam, will know that this is just the problem I have to face and these answers are absolutely essential for me to be very attentive to hear and to assimilate. Off course, if someone does like this, they will be considered mad, but throughout history that has always been. The materialistic people who are simply seeking the immediate pleasures of the senses and some position in this ever changing society will always think that anyone who is looking for something eternal, anyone who is resisting from the illusory pleasures of this world to seek something beyond his senses is crazy, is mad.
The purpose of life is to serve the Supreme Lord in all circumstances and transcend temporary designations:
Sukadeva Goswami, the narrator of the Bhagavatam, who is considered the crest jewel of all wise men throughout history, he was considered by the common people to be a crazy fool. It is described, when he was walking though the forest, people thought that he was a mad man because he didn’t care about the things that everybody else was striving so hard for. They spit on him. They threw stool and urine on him. They threw stone at him. They ridiculed him with all sorts of insulting words, but he could not care less. Why? Because he knew what is the purpose of life. The purpose of life is to serve the Supreme Truth and to be faithful to the Supreme Truth in all circumstances. Sometimes people would also insult our devotees and they would approach our Guru Maharaja and they would say Srila Prabhupada, people think we are crazy. And he said, that is because you are crazy. But they are crazy too. Who in this world is not crazy? Everyone is crazy. One man is crazy about a woman, a woman is crazy about a man, or we are crazy about money or job or getting some big position or about studies. Some are crazy to taste the sweet everlasting bliss of love of God. But everyone is crazy for something and the materialists will always think that the spiritualists are crazy and the spiritualists will always think that the materialists are crazy. You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can never please all the people all the time. But the most important thing is in this human for of life we give our existence some sense of dignity and understand what is Truth, what is Reality and we live for that.
Srila Prabhupada would tell us that the dogs would bark but the caravan must pass on. We must go on with our business. What is the real business of life? The real business of life is to transcend the designations of this illusory world and understand; who am I? Nationalism is something very very big throughout the world. That we are Indians, we are Pakistanis, we are Americans, we are Russians, we are Israelis, we are Jordanians. All this nationalism is simply causing so much separation amongst human beings. The spiritual principle is that we are all children of the same God. We are all brothers and sisters. Why are we dividing ourselves in this way? And woman they want their liberation. And men want their control. The separation of sexes, the separation of nations, the separation of relation, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Zoroastrians, Sikhs. Man is very expert at dividing and creating chaos. What to speak about the separation of castes? Keep the low down and keep the high up. If is see someone of a lower caste, I’ll become polluted. What is this? It is all the bodily conception of life. And this bodily conception of life is a great illusion. And what is it that perpetuates the bodily conception of life? Sense gratification. You cannot give up being a part of this terrible dividing principle as long as you are attached to sense gratification. Because sense gratification, reinforces the illusion that I am this body and my enjoyment is through these senses. This body is ever changing. Who am I? What is the Truth? We are crazy for our senses. This is insanity. Insane is when you think someone you are not.
We are the eternal loving souls of Krishna:
Who am I? According to all the great scriptures, all the great saints, throughout history, we are the eternal souls, we are the consciousness. Even from a logical, scientific platform of vision, we can understand this, that I’m the conscious awareness, which is giving life to this body. And the conscious awareness, the atma is a part and parcel of the Paramatma or the Supersoul. And to free ourselves from these illusory designations and understanding our true essence, that is Truth. That is the eternal dharma or occupation of every living being. To live according to our true essential nature; “jivera swarupa hoy krsnera nitya dasa”. That we are the eternal loving souls of God or Krishna.
Today is the disappearance day of Narottama Das Thakur. In the temple this afternoon we were narrating some of the beautiful pastimes of his exemplary life. There is one very, very special incident that took place in his life, which explains how this great acharya stood very strong to give people an understanding of what is beyond the external bodily designations of life. And the Lord personally arranged for him to be put in a certain situation, just for this purpose, for our understanding.
Glories of Narottama Das Thakur:
Narottama Das Thakur appeared about 450 years ago and he was born in a Kayastha family. The kayasthas were very, very wealthy generally and because they were so wealthy there were large, large land owners and therefore they were like kings. They had so much control. But by caste they were considered shudras, the lowest of all castes and of course in spiritual circles, they had no recognition whatsoever, because of their low caste. But Narottama Das Thakur, by the grace of God was given such deep realizations of loving service to the Lord. While he was living in Vrindavan, he was very wonderfully trained by Jiva Goswami, to learn the scriptures scrutinizingly and he also had such beautiful, beautiful loving sentiments towards Krishna that he was always immersed, para dukha dukhi, in uplifting others to bring them closer to loving God. And therefore he did not aspire for any position in this world, when he went to Bengal on the order of the Vaisnavas in Vrindavan, thousands and thousands of people, all classes of men came to his lotus feet and surrendered their lives. His love, his compassion, his devotion was simply melting everyone’s hearts and even the most learned brahmins became his humble and menial disciples and servants.
There were certain classes of high class brahmins, who were brahmins by birth and name and not by quality at all, they became very angry with him. They considered, he was an insult to the Vedic tradition that a shudra is giving initiation to brahmins. This is a total blasphemy to the dignity of our religion and our tradition. So these men made plots to murder him and not only that but they were constantly blaspheming him and insulting his followers. But as far as he was concerned, he was following in the footsteps of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Our real designation is that we are the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of Krishna:
nähaà vipro na ca nara-patir näpi vaiçyo na çüdro
nähaà varëé na ca gåha-patir no vana-stho yatir vä
kintu prodyan nikhila-paramänanda-pürëämåtäbdher
gopé-bhartuù pada-kamalayor däsa-däsänudäsaù
I’m only of one position, the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of Krishna. That is the eternal reality of the soul. Everything else is an illusory designation. For social conventions there is merit to these designations. But it is the true quality of the heart that makes us dear to God. The quality of humility and devotion. So Narottama simply continued to preach the message of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Sri Krishna, as powerful as ever and his devotees were going out having grand, grand celebrations everyday bringing people into the fold of the sankirtan movement of chanting the Holy Names;
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
But these caste Brahmins became infuriated more and more and more. Although they attempted many times to kill him, they were not successful. So at last they decided they would have the king under social pressure imprison him and stop him from his nefarious activities. So there was a king at that time by the name, don’t remember his name, Singha something and this king, he was approached by the brahmins. They said, this man is ruining our religion, he is polluting people’s minds, he is corrupting people, he has no right to even chant these mantras, what to speak of initiating high class people and bringing them down to his level. He must be punished, he must be imprisoned, he must be stopped. So the king sent a message to Narottama, explaining what the complaints against him were and Narottama Das Thakur sent a letter back to the king, it was so humble and so gracious. He said, my dear king, I’m only executing the order of God, to abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender to Him.
mām ekaḿ śaraṇaḿ vraja
ahaḿ tvāḿ sarva-pāpebhyo
mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ
(Bhagavad Gita 18.66 – Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear)
Narottam Das Thakur called for a debate for establishing the glories of the Holy Name:
He quoted the sastra to explain that one who truly takes shelter of the Holy Name is beyond all these distinctions. According to the sastra I can prove. Bring all these Brahmins, you come yourself, let us have a debate on the basis of scripture. So this king, reading this letter, there was so much humility and compassion in which he wrote it, that just by touching the letter, that Norttanma Dasa wrote, the king’s heart began to melt. And he said why don’t we just accept the challenge? He brought the stalwart of all scholars of his kingdom, and he called all of these high class Brahmins who were complaining about him, and said let us all go. And of these Brahmins there was one, who was super excellently empowered in knowledge. His name was Rupa Narayan and he had a great vendetta against Lord Chaitanya’s people because some years before he was defeated by Jiva Goswami in Vrindavan. So they all decided to go to the village of Narottama Das Thakur to defeat him and debate, and they wanted the king to come and see with his own eyes so he would punish this rascal. So they went on their journey to Kheturi. Meanwhile Narottama Dasa understood that these men were coming, delegation of the king.
Disciples of Narottama Dasa Thakur defeated Rupa Narayan in a debate:
Two of Narottama Dasa Thakur’s very very pure associates, devotees and disciples, they made a plan, on their own they made this plan. They were both Brahmins. What they did, is they disguised themselves as very simple shudra workers. One dressed as a potter, who makes clay pots and the other as a seller of beetle nuts. They set up their little stand, not in Kheturi, but in a little village, just in the outskirts. They wore real poor clothes, they had their little shacks and they were just sitting, selling. As the procession, the king and great scholars, came by, they called them over. “Please you have been travelling for a long time, Have some beetle. Please come buy some of my pots.” So after a long journey, they were in need of these things. So they came. As the potter and the beetle salesman were explaining what they had, they spoke in perfect pristine Sanskrit language. These scholars were thinking how is this possible? Nobody knows Sanskrit, except the highest Brahmins. These are shudras, they are speaking perfect Sanskrit. They asked them where did they learn this Sanskrit? “Oh here in Kheturi, everybody knows Sanskrit like this. This is the place of Narottama Dasa”. What! Narottama Dasa, that rascal, that debaucher, that ruiner of religion, that Godless man, do you know what he has done? “What has he done; he is ruining our religion! He is initiating Brahmins. Little did they know that they were speaking to the two most high class Brahmins that he had initiated. And he is a shudra. He should be cleaning the streets. “On what basis do you say this?” On what basis, they started quoting shlokas from the scripture. These two simple shop keepers began quoting Sanskrit verses to utterly defeat everything they were saying. To prove to them, everything, all the verses that they were quoting were totally out of context and being grossly misused. The scholars were completely ashamed. They looked at the king. They did not know what to say. The king turned to Rupa Narayan and said, you are the greatest of all these scholars, talk to these shop keepers. You men are big, big, big Brahmin scholars. Rupa Narayan began to present his arguments and he was totally humiliated in utter defeat. They all just looked at the king with their heads down just totally ashamed. They were practically in tears. Then the two shop keepers revealed that actually we are the disciples of Narottama Dasa. The King looked at these people and said; “if these disciples of Narottama Dasa defeated you so totally what do you think there spiritual master is going to do to you? Better we all just go and fall at his feet and surrender to him”. And that is just what they did with no arguments. They went into Kheturi with straws between their teeth in humility, fell at the feet of Narottama Dasa Thakur, begged his forgiveness and became his initiated disciples. Narottama taught them that one who sincerely chants the Holy Name of God and through this process develops love of God he has attained the supreme perfection of his life. He has fulfilled the ultimate destination and he is carrying in his heart the ultimate joy and bliss of Krishna’s love. Just chant Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare HareHare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare; because this is the conclusion of all scriptures.
In this yuga of Kali, chanting of the Holy Names is the only recommended process:
Krishna says in the Gita:
sarvasya cähaà hådi sanniviñöo
mattaù småtir jïänam apohanaà ca
vedaiç ca sarvair aham eva vedyo
vedänta-kåd veda-vid eva cäham
(Bhagavad Gita 15.15)
That I’m the Compiler of the Vadanta, I’m the knower of the Vedas and of all the Vedas I’m to be Known. And how is Krishna to be known?
anandabhudhi-vardhanam prati-padam purnamrtasvadanam
sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate Sri-Krsna-sankirtanam
The prime benediction for all humanity in this age of Kali is the process of chanting the Holy Names. The worship of the deity in the temple is a wonderful, wonderful blessing by God. But according to the scripture it doesn’t compare to the importance of the chanting of the Holy Names, because after all to worship the deity there are so many rules and regulations. If somebody dies in you family, if somebody is born in your family, certain parts of the month for women, you just can’t do it. What to speak of when you are travelling in a train, when you are at your job, you just can’t do it. To follow all the rules and regulations to properly worship the deity most people just can’t do it. Therefore in the age of Dvapara Yuga the worship of the deity is the recommended process for everyone. But in Kali yuga there is only one truly recommended process.
Harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha
The chanting of the Holy Name of the Lord Hari. Therefore when we connect our consciousness, our heart, with God’s Name and by the grace of the Lord we acquire these purifying effects of this chanting then that natural tendency to serve the Guru, to serve the Vaisnavas, to serve the Lord, to serve every living being in love and devotion, awakens in our heart. That consciousness becomes the motivating force of every thing we do. Very foolish people not understanding what is self-realization, they think that if you become too religious or too spiritually advanced or you associate with saintly people too much you will be ineffectual in providing the necessities to your family and performing your responsibilities to your occupation and to the society. That is total ignorance. Love is a far great motivating force than greed. Without God consciousness you are motivated by greed and with Krishna consciousness you are motivated by love. If you love your family, will you not maintain them? If you love your society, will you not perform your responsibilities? But actually you will be contributing something wonderful rather than simply taking, taking, taking and saying just see what I’m doing for the world. I’m taking!
Srila Prabhupada used to tell us that in the material world, people say they are giving so much but if you don’t pay them they won’t give anything. But a spiritually minded person he is giving the best of everything he has, simply for the pleasure of Krishna in all circumstances of life. Therefore he is content, he is peaceful, he is blissful under any condition. The danger circumstances of this world are inevitable whether you are a gross atheist, whether you worship the demigods, whether you worship the ultimate Person, Purushottam. There is going to be danger, there is going to be suffering, and there are going to be problems. That is the nature of this world. You will never change the nature of this world but you can change your heart. That you have the power to do, tonight, right now, if you so feel its necessity. If we learn to transcend the illusory designations, that are keeping us bound to the sufferings of this world then let what happens, happen, but we will be above it. We will be beyond it. We will be experiencing something deeper and higher through the circumstances of birth, old age disease and death, inevitabilities of this world. That is the goal of life. Change what you can for the better. But the greatest change is to change a man’s heart. That begins by changing our own heart.
Why should one worship the Supreme Lord Krishna:
This evening someone was enquiring from me, why should you put so much emphasis on Krishna? He has 16,100 wives, He was stealing butter, He was telling His friend Arjuna sometimes not to tell the truth, the whole truth is nothing but the truth, by relative standards of truth, why Krishna?
Krishna explains in the Gita,
avajānanti māḿ mūḍhā
mānuṣīḿ tanum āśritam
paraḿ bhāvam ajānanto
(Bhagavad Gita 9.11)
People who are uninformed, they consider Krishna to be an ordinary man. But the history in which we learn, about Krishna’s life, the Srimad Bhagavatam, the Padma Purana, the Bhagavad Gita, if you are going to accept the history of His life, you are going to accept what it says about Him. Krishna showed Arjuna the universal form. Can you do that? Can you display a form of all the universes that are being devoured through your mouths? Can you reveal the form of almighty time, the ultimate destroyer of everything that exists within this creation? Can you lift Govardhan Hill with the little finger of your left hand for seven days, effortlessly? Some people believe this must be mythology. How can this be true? Because I cannot do it, nobody can do it. What kind of an egomaniac mentality is this? I you could create the entire universe, you could do that too. But if you cannot create the universe, don’t think you can compete with God. Don’t try to bring Him down to your standard. Krishna had 16,108 wives. That is true. Because these queens were rendered unchaste by being kidnapped by Baumasura and no one would ever marry them because of that. But they were great devotees of the Lord who were always praying with love and devotion. So to save from the humiliation of being widows, for the rest of their lives, He accepted all of them as His queens, because nobody else would do it. What a wonderful way, He expanded Himself into 16,108 forms and every queen was thinking that Krishna was only with me. Can you do that? Show me the man that can satisfy one wife in this world. I’ve never seen it. I travelled many continents and as a Sanyasi, I see with very unbiased eyes. I’m on nobody’s side. It’s not possible; you cannot satisfy a woman and a woman cannot satisfy a man, fully. But Krishna fully satisfied to their satiation point, 16,108, simultaneously. How is that possible? Simple. He is the Absolute Truth.
pavitram idam uttamam
su-sukhaḿ kartum avyayam
(Bhagavad Gita 9.2)
And just as Krishna could manifest, in so many wonderful ways, Achintya Shakti, nothing is impossible for that Supreme Lord who has created the sun and the moon, who has created the earth, who has created the oceans and the air, who has created all species of life. Is there anything impossible for such a Personality as this? Nothing! But what is His greatest gift? That although He has created this entire cosmic manifestation just to allow us to try to fulfill our desires because our natural position is that we are spiritual as long as we are trying to enjoy separate from Krishna we are like a fish outside of water. We will never be satisfied. It’s not our nature to be apart from God. The eternal spiritual soul can never be satisfied by the temporary arrangement of enjoyments in this world. They have a beginning and an end, but we have no beginning and as end.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu has explained, the greatest of all the benedictions of God, is that He has expanded Himself, manifested Himself in full, within the sound of His Name. At every moment who ever we are, whether we are a beggar on the street or whether we are king of the land, whether we are a Phd scholar or illiterate, man or woman, these things have no relevance. God is non-different than His Name in all circumstances. If we simply chant the Holy Names of the Lord, we can be in the divine presence of the Lord. Our hearts become purified. This is the greatest, most inconceivable gift that is upon all of us. When we associate with the Lord’s devotees, we hear His glories, we chant His Names, the path of truth is opened into our lives.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.