(Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 1.9.9)

 tān sametān mahā-bhāgān

upalabhya vasūttamaḥ

pūjayām āsa dharma-jño




Bhīṣmadeva, who was the best amongst the eight Vasus, received and welcomed all the great and powerful ṛṣis who were assembled there, for he knew perfectly all the religious principles according to time and place.


Translation of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam: 1.9.10-18:-

SB 1.9.10: Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is situated in everyone’s heart, yet He manifests His transcendental form by His internal potency. This very Lord was sitting before Bhīṣmadeva, and since Bhīṣmadeva knew of His glories, he worshiped Him duly.

SB 1.9.11: The sons of Mahārāja Pāṇḍu were sitting silently nearby, overtaken with affection for their dying grandfather. Seeing this, Bhīṣmadeva congratulated them with feeling. There were tears of ecstasy in his eyes, for he was overwhelmed by love and affection.

SB 1.9.12: Bhīṣmadeva said: Oh, what terrible sufferings and what terrible injustices you good souls suffer for being the sons of religion personified. You did not deserve to remain alive under those tribulations, yet you were protected by the brāhmaṇas, God and religion.

SB 1.9.13: As far as my daughter-in-law Kuntī is concerned, upon the great General Pāṇḍu’s death, she became a widow with many children, and therefore she suffered greatly. And when you were grown up she suffered a great deal also because of your actions.

SB 1.9.14: In my opinion, this is all due to inevitable time, under whose control everyone in every planet is carried, just as the clouds are carried by the wind.

SB 1.9.15: O how wonderful is the influence of inevitable time. It is irreversible — otherwise, how can there be reverses in the presence of King Yudhiṣṭhira, the son of the demigod controlling religion; Bhīma, the great fighter with a club; the great bowman Arjuna with his mighty weapon Gāṇḍīva; and above all, the Lord, the direct well-wisher of the Pāṇḍavas?

SB 1.9.16: O King, no one can know the plan of the Lord [Śrī Kṛṣṇa]. Even though great philosophers inquire exhaustively, they are bewildered.

SB 1.9.17: O best among the descendants of Bharata [Yudhiṣṭhira], I maintain, therefore, that all this is within the plan of the Lord. Accepting the inconceivable plan of the Lord, you must follow it. You are now the appointed administrative head, and, my lord, you should now take care of those subjects who are now rendered helpless.

SB 1.9.18: This Śrī Kṛṣṇa is no other than the inconceivable, original Personality of Godhead. He is the first Nārāyaṇa, the supreme enjoyer. But He is moving amongst the descendants of King Vṛṣṇi just like one of us and He is bewildering us with His self-created energy.


Everyone has to undergo the reactions of their karma:

In this chapter of the Srimad Bhagavatam, which is very moving and most instructive to hear, we find the grandfather of the Kurus and the Pandavas, Sri Bhīṣmadeva, lying on a bed of arrows. He was in a condition where from his neck to his feet, he was pierced with so many arrows; each one piercing through his entire body and into the ground and a child could not even put a single finger between any of the two arrows. He was in a great amount of tribulation. But when he came, when the Pandavas came with lord Sri Krishna to meet him lying on the battle-field of Kurukshetra, it is described here how happy he was to see them, of tears of love and affection flowed from his eyes upon seeing his beloved lord of life Sri Krishna and upon seeing the Lord’ most beloved devotees, the Pandavas. Bhishma is here speaking.

He is explaining that the inconceivable plan of the Lord even the greatest philosophers, even the greatest scholars of the Vedas, they have no access to understand. How is it possible that Yudhisthira who was religion personified; who never even considered in his mind once from his very birth any sinful or harmful thing for another; it is explained that everyone must undergo the reactions of his karma – good and bad. Therefore, in this world when we see someone suffering then we can understand that there must be an underlying reason behind it- either in this life or in a previous life. If someone is wealthy, healthy, popular, we can understand that this person must have performed very, very pious activity in the past. If someone is sickly, poor, being unjustly treated, we can understand that this person must have done great unjust activities; either earlier in this life, or in previous life. You can judge a thing by its result.


Pandavas were always tortured by Dhritarashtra and Duryodhana but the Lord saved them each time:

But, in this case, there is no sense because the Pandavas – they were the most perfect gentlemen in every respect; and how many injustices were upon them. When they were very young, it is described, that Dhritarashtra, he was so anxious that his own sons ruled the throne of Hastinapur, that it was arranged through Duryodhana that Bhima, who was just a young boy, was fed with deadly, deadly poison, and from this poison he fell unconscious, and he was thrown into the river. And, it is described on the bottom of that river, the nagas, the venomous serpents, they began to bite him. But as they bit him, their poison perfectly counteracted the poison that they had given him. And through this process he attained far, far greater strength and power than he ever had before.

And, it is also described in the Mahabharat how Dhritarashtra under the plea of wanting to give enjoyment to his nephews, he built a beautiful, beautiful house in the city of Varnataka. But he made it out of highly flammable lac. And he said to his nephews that you kindly take vacation; you have been working very hard. And also, Kunti, who is a widow, was along with them. And the plan was to burn them alive until they were dead.

But by the grace of the great devotee Vidura, he warned them about what was to take place. So they created a subway by which they went underground and escaped the massive fire. It is also explained, in so many ways, they were being persecuted in the gambling match with Shakuni. They lost all of their inheritance to the kingdom and throne, all of their wealth, all of their clothes, even their own wife Draupadi was subjected to being stripped naked before the men. But by the grace of Sri Krishna, because she called out his name with feeling, she was saved. And in this way for 14 long years they were living in the jungles, travelling, being subjected to the attacks of various rakshasas, to terrible embarrassment, humiliation, terrible rumours about them being spread viciously by the leaders of the Kurus. And for one full year, they had to hide although they were of the royalest order, they had to disguise themselves. One had to take care of the horses for a year. Nakul, Sahadev took care of the cows. The other as a menial cook. Arjuna had to disguise himself as a eunuch and give dancing classes to a young princess. And Yudhishthira, who deserved by all means to rule the entire world, he took the lowly position of an advisor to the king. And throughout all this, mother Kunti, if we think of the sufferings of the Pandavas, we have to multiply it by thousands when we think of queen Kunti because she had to see her beloved sons in this condition. And she was helpless to do anything about it.


Krishna is the supreme controller in the form of Time and everyone is destroyed by Time:

So here Bhishma, tears of love and affection are flowing from his eyes as he is sees that in the end queen Kunti and the Pandavas are being glorified. Standing beside the lord of their life, Sri Krishna, they have come to see him. And what he is saying here is most wonderful. He says in his opinion, and of course the opinion of Bhishma is of the supreme authority. There are 12 mahajans. One of which is Bhishma, which means he is one the 12 topmost authorities on spiritual knowledge, the absolute truth. Mahājano yena gata sa panthā. And anyone who wants to advance in spiritual life must follow in the footsteps of these great mahajans.

He is explaining that there is no reason why these injustices should have come upon you. There is no logic, no reason behind it. It is, in my opinion, due to inevitable time under whose control everyone is being carried as the clouds by the wind. How wonderful is the influence of inevitable time? It is irreversible. Otherwise how can there be reverses in the presence of king Yudhisthira – the son of the demigod controlling religion. And then he describes how time is non-different than Krishna. Krishna says in Gita, “Time I am, the devourer, the destroyer of everything that exists.” When Krishna appears in the form of time, he is the supreme controller of everything that exists in this world. Can you show me anything or anyone that is not utterly under the control of time in this world?

Right now, what is time doing to you? The children are little by little growing. The adults are little by little deteriorating. It is happening in such a subtle, invisible way we don’t see it; but imperceptibly time is destroying everything at all times. Even the mightiest mountains of the Himalayas are little by little being destroyed by the power of time. And who could withstand? We find in history, sometimes mystic yogis, they could reverse the metabolistic direction of their physical bodies through subtle control of the prana. And in this way sometimes could live for several hundreds of years. And we consider that very-very masterful that such yogis how they have mastered their body and the mind. But where are they today. In due course of time even they are imperceptibly devoured by the power of time. Therefore, we must understand that this time is none other than Krishna, the Absolute Truth, Bhagavan. And we are all the servants of Krishna in the form of time whether we know or not, whether we like it or not. Bhīṣmadeva is in a most wonderful way enlightening us by explaining that how Krishna is working and why he does what he does through his various agencies, such as time, in this world. No one can understand.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who is the Supreme Lord has disguised himself as a devotee of God:

In fact in the Chaitanya Charitamrita, there is a similar story. It is described that one very-very great scholar- in fact, this man was considered the number one greatest scholar of Vedanta in all of India. He was a grihastha man. He was Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya. And he was so learned, so enlightened in the Vedanta philosophy that even sanyasis would travel far and wide to sit at his feet and be his student to learn. And when the Supreme Lord Krishna incarnated 500 years back in the divine golden form of Sriman Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, He met with Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya. He went in the Jagannath temple and in the spirit of pure love of God, in the guise of a devotee He fainted before the deity of Jagannath. And Sarvabhauma took him to his own house to bring back His symptoms of life. He was practically unconscious in every sense of the word in His divine ecstatic feeling. And when He came to consciousness, the son-in-law of Sarvabhauma, Gopinath Acharya, he said, “Do you know who This is?” Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya said, “I know who He is. He is only 24 years old and He took sanyas, and He has very beautiful lotus-eyes, a wonderful golden complexion. I don’t see how possibly He is going to be able to maintain His vows, unless He really scrutinisingly understands Vedanta. And there is no one that knows Vedanta better than me. So I should be the one to train Him.” And Gopinath Acharya said, “What are you talking about. Don’t you know that this is the Supreme Personality of Godhead? You consider you are more learned than Him, that you can be His teacher?” Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya said, “According to the Vedas, He is not the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore I cannot accept it. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is called Triyuga, He only appears in 3 yugas; He does not appear in Kali-yuga.” Of course Gopinath Acharya was also a great scholar of the Vedas. And it is explained in the Bhagavatam when Gargamuni came to meet with Krishna’ father Vasudev, Nand Maharaj, he told them that the Lord appears in four yugas in four different colours. He appears in a beautiful white complexion in Satya-yuga; He appears in red complexion Treta-yuga; in a blackish complexion in Dwapara-yuga, and a beautiful golden complexion in Kali-yuga. Why is he called Triyuga, Triyugi? Because in Kali-yuga, He does not appear claiming Himself to be God. But he disguises himself as a devotee of God for a specific purpose of training people by His own example how to be devotee of God.

Only with the mercy of the Lord one can understand the supreme truth:

So Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya, because of his pride in being such a great scholar, he said “I cannot accept this.” And Gopinath Acharya felt very sorry for his uncle. He said, “My dear uncle, I must say that you are just a reservoir of useless knowledge of the Vedanta. Because factually unless you receive the grace of God, you cannot understand anything in truth. And it is a fact: tad vigyanartham sa gurum eva abhigachet. It is described in the Mundaka-Upanishad that unless you study and humble yourself under a bonafide Guru, you cannot understand the Vedas. It is impossible. There are so many apparent contradictions, there are so many inconceivable ideas; you can never understand the essence or the heart of it, unless you take shelter of a bonafide Guru. And how to take shelter? Krishna says in Gita, tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā. We see it is not that you just accept initiation. Now I have a Guru, study Vedas, become Sanskrit scholar, become very learned and think that you will figure it out. Never. In billions of births you will be bewildered. And you will be so bewildered that you think you know the truth.


Essential qualifications in approaching a Guru:

But there are 3 most essential qualifications in approaching a Guru. One is praṇipāt. That means, the first thing you have to do is follow in Arjuna’ footsteps. kārpaṇya-doopahata-svabhāva pcchāmi tvā dharma-sammūha-cetā. You must accept that I am a fool. You must accept that I do not know. You must accept that I have imperfect senses. I have a tendency to cheat. I commit mistakes. And I am invariably illusioned. That because I am covered by these 4 defects, I cannot understand anything as it is. Therefore, the first most important qualification is you must humble yourself before Guru. Whatever you know, you have to put it aside and admit that you don’t know. That’s the beginning. Otherwise you don’t need a Guru. If you are not willing to do that, it is all just a fashion, it is a fad.

Our Guru Maharaj used to say many people like to keep a Guru like they keep a flower-pot on their wall that just see I have my Guru. Every now and then I water it. They keep a Guru for their own prestige. But that is not correct. Through such a process, the transmission of knowledge cannot take place. Praṇipāt, that means you have to humble yourself, seek the shelter of the lotus feet of this personality; that I do not know anything. Please instruct me. Krishna, jagad-guru, Himself wasn’t willing to say a single word to Arjuna about transcendental knowledge, until Arjuna came to this platform. kārpaya-doopahata-svabhāva pcchāmi tvā dharma-sammūha-cetā. As long as Arjuna thought I know what is best for me, Krishna simply remained silent. There is no use in talking to such a person who thinks he knows. He who (inaudible) convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. What can you tell a person who already knows? In classical music, there was a very famous music teacher and it is described that he would teach the piano. And if you never learned, played the piano before in your life, he would charge you a certain amount of money for the lesson, and if you have already been playing before, he would charge you twice as much. Because before he could teach you anything, he has to first convince you that you do not know anything. Otherwise you are a useless student. You would always be second-guessing, or coming up with another idea.

And after praipāt, is paripraśna. Once you seek shelter and humble yourself, then you must enquire submissively. What is the real goal of life? What is the supreme occupation? What is real dharma? What is the duty of a man about to die? Who is God? What is my relationship? Who am I?

And ultimately, these enquiries fructify in the third principle which is sevayā, where we ask the question, how can I serve you Guru Maharaj? And how do we serve? Not just by giving garland, or washing feet, but by following the instructions he gives us in our life, day by day. And when the disciple has this consciousness and this approach, then yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādo, yasyāprasādān na gati kuto ‘pi. It is described when one pleases the Guru in this way then the grace of Krishna comes through him into the heart of the disciple. The Guru is not Krishna. But the Guru is the manifestation of Krishna’s grace in this world- the delegated representative of Krishna to deliver the supreme grace, the divine grace of God in to this world.

So when one is favoured by Krishna through such humility and devotion, then one can understand things as they are. Not otherwise. Then when we read the shastra, Krishna reveals through the words of the shastra the essence of what is truth. And if we cannot read the shastra, if we are just a simple house-wife just doing our duties to our husband and our family in that same consciousness, then Krishna will reveal the Truth through our everyday life work. You know the story in Vrindavan when the brahamanas were performing their yajna. But they were so proud of their learning that they failed to humble themselves to render service to the Lord. Their wives were not learned at all, but they knew one thing. That Krishna is great. Let us render service for His pleasure. They attained perfection of realisation. So, here Bhishma is explaining that even the greatest philosophers who enquire exhaustively, they are bewildered. But for one who Krishna bestows His causeless mercy upon, that person could understand the truth.


Krishna is the supreme controller and nothing is within our control and in this world nothing is guaranteed:

Why is it that the Pandavas were put through such incredible tribulations? It is explained by the great ācāryas that there were several reasons. It was on the basis of Krishna’s direct and personal intervention in their lives that they were put into these difficulties. Because you see, in this world everyone has to meet so many reversals in their life. dukhālayam aśāśvatam, that means that because this place is temporary they cannot avoid problems. We have in our congregation tonight so many wonderful doctors, and sometimes I see that they are more sick than the average (inaudible) although they have big-big degrees in medicines, anatomy, understanding exactly what is taking place in the body, how to cure everything and yet they are always sick. We are simply not the controllers.

A few years, the Shah of Iran, he was the most powerful-powerful person, he had billions of dollars, wonderful palaces, wonderful family, plus he had the United States of America with all their bombs and everything, ready to defend them- they were best friends. And one day, he was just kicked out. He was just hiding disguising himself, running for his life. Whoever we are. Mr. Kennedy. You know John F Kennedy. He was the commander and chief of the largest, most powerful army in the entire world. The FBI the CIA, the secret service, they were all at his disposal at all times. And then he was not expecting. He was warned, “Don’t go in a convertible today; go in a, go in a bullet-proof car because we have heard somebody is out there trying to assassinate you.” He said, “I am not worried about those things. Do you know who I am? How powerful I am?” But could he protect himself? Not possibly.

Even the greatest athletes- little mosquito bites them and happens to have a little bacterial germ called malaria, lying on the ground for weeks; can’t even get up. How Krishna has such a sense of humour? He beats you to the ground with a mosquito. Whoever we are in this world, nothing is guaranteed. The only thing which is guaranteed is that nothing is guaranteed. Death is guaranteed, that we know. But in this life we don’t know, padaṁ padaṁ yad vipadāṁ na teṣām. It is a world where there is danger at every step. And whoever you are. Recently I read a book by one man. He is considered in modern history to be the top-most authority of health. And he wrote many books about how to have certain types of diets, and to become very healthy. And he was. He healed himself of the most treacherous diseases. And he was considered the most pristine and perfect manifestation of good health. He was tested by all sorts of technical devices, and they said we have never seen anyone with such perfect health-order. And he had the method by which everyone could become like him- physically very-very healthy. And he was travelling around the world. The man was from Europe, I think from Germany, and he was travelling around the world giving lectures, and he was changing the heart of so many health-minded people. And one day after his lecture, he was in Los Angeles, California. People were thinking,”This man, the way his body is, he will live till 150-160 years old. It is not deteriorating over the years.” So he was walking to his car. And he happened to slip on some oil that was spilled on the street and he cracked his head and died- right then and there. He was only 45 years old. I know people who smoke 2 packs of cigarettes a day, drink a quart of liquor a day and they live longer than him. Eat anything that comes before them. That’s the way this world is. At any moment death can come.


In all circumstances we should serve Krishna:

Maharaj Parikshit asked the question, “What is the duty of a man about to die?” Why? Because we are all in that predicament. We do not know. So, therefore, reversals and tribulations will come in every one’ life- whether you are a devotee of God or you are an atheist.  The question is how you receive these conditions. Some people are so foolish they think that if I become devout to God, to Krishna, then everything will just be just the way I like it in material world. After all Krishna is the supreme controller. So I will get the best job, I will get the prettiest, nicest, most faithful wife. I will have so many wonderful friends who love me and adore me and my children will be perfect gentlemen, and they will take care of me for the rest of my life, and maybe I won’t even die. Then they start chanting the holy names and they see it is not like that. Krishna says yasyāham anughāmi hariye tad-dhana śanai. When I show My real mercy to My devotee I give him whatever he wants, but when I show My real mercy I take everything away. And when My devotee falls at My feet forever and, “Krishna save me.” Draupadi never called out for Krishna so much as when everything was taken away. So in this way, whoever we are, whatever we do, as long as we are in this material world, there would be reversals.

Therefore, Krishna wanted to show through the lives of the Pandavas how to take shelter of God in every situation. When they had nothing, living in the jungles, they were simply faithfully the servants of Sri Krishna. And when they were put on the throne as the kings of Hastinapur, the king of the whole world, they were faithfully rendering service to Sri Krishna. There was no difference in their heart, no difference in their mind. They were transcendental to the external circumstances. That is Krishna consciousness. They were thankful, grateful to whatever Krishna is giving them.


Krishna, through His pure devotees teaches us how to love Him:

It is explained, there is a Bengali proverb that the mother teaches the daughter-in-law through the daughter. Because when the daughter-in-law comes to the house of her husband’s mother, she is naturally very shy. She doesn’t really know what to do in that house. I have never been in this situation, but according to the proverb this is the way it is supposed to be. The daughter-in-law goes and the whole house has a certain ways of doing everything which is completely foreign to her. Previous conditioning, and how to serve the husband, make him happy; how to serve the in-laws and make them happy- she doesn’t know. And she is very shy. So therefore, what the mother does is she very-very carefully and strictly teaches the daughter and the daughter watches. And the daughter-in-law watches the daughter being taught, and this is how she learns. She is not offended. So, in the same way, when God wants to teach the world how to serve Him and how to love Him, He teaches through His most intimate children, His pure devotees. And by us watching how Krishna is dealing with the Pandavas, we can understand perfectly how to progress on the spiritual path of life.

And there’s another reason that the great ācāryas have explained why Bhishma was put on the wrong side. Who can understand this? He is one of the 12 mahajans. He is one of the. In the Mahabharat, he is the greatest of all the devotees of Krishna. Why was he fighting against the Pandavas? Why was he taking sides with a crook, with a cheater, who was an irreligious man, Duryodhana? Duryodhana was not only a cheater, and an envious person but he directly endeavoured right before Bhishma’ eyes to have Krishna apprehended and thrown into prison. He was an outright rascal. And yet Bhishma was fighting for him. Who can understand this? Some people say, well he was obliged to Duryodhana, because Duryodhana was taking care of him for so many years and he had to do it out of social etiquette. But forget that nonsense excuse. I mean, on a superficial social level that’ a good excuse. But Bhishma was a mahajan. He was the topmost paramhansa, surrendered soul. Do you think he cares about social etiquette when it comes to fighting against the Lord and His pure devotees? There’s another reason. Because Bhishma knew Krishna wanted him on the other side. Bhishma knew that he would be misunderstood and criticised for the rest of the creation of this world because he takes the other side. He knew that 99.9% of the population would never think correctly why he took the other side. They would think that there was a flaw in him. They would think he was simply being paid-off like an ordinary greedy man and criticised. And he was willing to accept eternal condemnation by the world. Why? Because Krishna wanted him on the other side. For Krishna, he didn’t care what anybody thought. Why did Krishna want him on the other side? Because Krishna wanted to show a lesson to the world through him. And He couldn’t show this lesson to the world with such impact through anyone except Bhishma. Because Bhishma was the most powerful hero in the entire planet. No one could defeat him. He was trained by Parashuram himself. And Parashuram empowered him with all of His strength and all of His abilities. Even the Supreme Lord Parashuram could not, could not defeat Bhishma. And plus, he was given by his father, Shantanu Maharaj, the benediction- unless he willed so he could not be defeated or killed.

One will be destroyed if one is not on the side of ‘Dharma’

He was the supreme most powerful personality on this planet. And therefore Krishna wanted to show, whoever you are, however great you are, however powerful you are. He was taught military art by Parashuram. He was the most learned man also. He personally studied under Brihaspati, the Guru and priest of the devataas. He was the most learned scholar, he was the most powerful warrior, he was the greatest politician, he was the greatest organiser of military strategies; he was utterly unconquerable, and undefeatable by any relative standards. But Krishna wanted to show, that anybody, whoever you are, whatever your qualification are material, if you are not on the side of Dharma, if you are not on the side of God’ devotees, you will be destroyed. And Bhishma was glad; he was honoured to accept this position. And Krishna was so pleased with Bhishma, that here we find Bhishma lying on the bed of arrows; for several months he was lying in that condition. Because he had the benediction that he would only die at his will, and he did not want to die unless Krishna was standing right before him. So he was in that suffering, suffering condition until he attained the blessings and grace of Sri Krishna.

And here in this chapter we are finding Lord Sri Krishna, He is coming all the way back from Hastinapur with the five Pandavas brothers to the battle-field of Kurukshetra for two reasons. Many reasons – but primarily two reasons. One is He wanted the world to understand the true glory of Bhishma through his instructions to Maharaj Yudhishthira. And two, is He wanted to fulfill the innermost desire of Bhishma to leave this world in the loving presence of Sri Krishna. In-depth teachings regarding practically every aspect of our life; especially how to be a proper ruler, and leader in the society. When these instructions were complete, he saw that the, what is that day, Makar-Sankranti, the, when the sun is just going into the northern hemisphere. It was an auspicious time to leave this world. And he focused his devoted eyes on the beautiful form of Lord Shyamsundar.


Bhishma glorifies Lord Krishna while leaving this world:

And he began to glorify Krishna that, “how inconceivable it is that in Vrindavan You are tied by the rope of Mother Yashoda. She is thinking that You are her little son, You are playing with the cowherd boys, they are thinking that only friend, how great, how wonderful, how merciful, how inconceivable is my Krishna”. Then he was remembering how on the battle-field Krishna showed how loving He is to His devotees. Krishna made a vow before this war that He would not lift a single weapon and He would not fight against anyone. He would only be charioteer. And during the war, when Duryodhana was putting too much pressure on Bhishma, Bhishma vowed that I am going to make Krishna break His vow tomorrow. Why did Bhishma do that? That’s very difficult to understand. He is a devotee and he is vowing to make God break His promise. That’s not like what a devotee would usually do. If you are very advanced sometimes it is. He had an internal reason. He wanted to glorify Krishna by doing this. He knew that Krishna’s glory would be infinitely understood by anyone who has a sincere heart for all the rest of eternity by doing this. Bhishma was fighting with Arjuna with such force that Arjuna’s chariot was broken, Arjuna was lying on the ground helpless, and he was about to be killed. And Bhishma drew his bow and his arrow and he knew that he wasn’t going to kill Arjuna. He knew that the only way Arjuna would be saved is if Krishna breaks His promise and personally attacks him to stop him. And when Bhishma, when Lord Sri Krishna saw Arjuna is at the verge of death, He became so angry that His eyes red like fiery coals. He picked-up the wheel of the broken chariot, and He ran toward Bhishma. And as He was running, His hair was scattered, His body was covered by dust, raised by the hoofs of the horses, and Bhishma was shooting Krishna with arrows, and when Krishna attacked him in this way Bhishma saw that it was finished. And he dropped his weapons, and he fell and offered his obeisances and prayers to Sri Krishna. And of course, Krishna spared his life because he surrendered.

And he was remembering this beautiful pastime at the time of his death with such love and devotion. Why? Because he was thinking, how glorious is Krishna that to protect His devotee’s promise. He is willing to break His own. Because Bhishma made a promise, Krishna was more concerned about protecting Bhishma’s promise than protecting His own promise. And not only that, but Krishna also said before the fight, kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhakta praaśyati; that, know that my devotee will never perish. And Arjuna was His devotee. He didn’t, Krishna didn’t vow Himself that His devotee will never perish. Krishna said to Arjuna, “Declare it boldly Arjuna. You say it that My devotee will never perish.”  So in order to protect the word of Arjuna, He was willing to break His own word. That is the love; that is the selfless ultimate sacrifice of love that Krishna has for His devotee.

And Bhishma, who was so deeply learned in transcendental science, deeply learned in the science of rasa, bhava, right there in the battle-field he could just figure out all these intricacies of how he could best serve Krishna, although nobody could understand what he was doing, or why, except Krishna. And Krishna was infinitely pleased at every step, with everything he did. And therefore, to show His great love and affection, He appeared before Bhishma. And Bhishma with his eyes fixed on the beautiful moon-like face of Sri Hari, with the holy name of the Lord upon his lips, he gave-up his life and returned back home, back to Godhead.


Thank you very much.


Are there any questions?


Question: (inaudible)Bhagavatam, that any devotee has selected to fight on the wrong side. So why was (inaudible) essential for (inaudible). Does not happen very frequently. In fact (inaudible).

Maharaj: Maharaj Chitraketu was a pure devotee of the Lord. And by the arrangement of the Lord he became Vritrasura, the greatest, most powerful demon who attacked the demigods. There is also the story of Bali Maharaj. He is one of the great mahajans. He conquered Indra, and all the demigods, fighting for the demons. So there are instances. Even Jay and Vijay. They were very good devotees of the Lord. They became Hiranyakashipu, Hiranyaksha; Ravana, Kumbhakarna; Shishupal and Dantavakra. Krishna has His inconceivable will to instruct the world and to glorify His devotees. Yes. He glorified Bhishma in many ways. But the most significant is what we were reading this evening. At the time of Bhishma’s leaving this world, Krishna came with Yudhishthira who was the supreme emblem of Dharma in the entire world; who was the king of the earth. And Krishna wanted Yudhishthira to be on the order of Krishna, Yudhishthira became the pupil, the student to learn the higher sciences of life from Bhishma. Is this not a glorification? And in showing the world how Bhishma left this world, in such a trance of ecstatic love of God, He glorified him for all eternity.


Any other questions? Yes.


Question : (inaudible)

Maharaj: In our natural condition in the spiritual world, there is no need for catastrophes. There is no need for problems or tribulations. In that condition, everyone, at all times, is remembering Krishna with love, with the most intense ecstatic love. Therefore in the spiritual world, there is no danger. There are no problems. There is simply chanting, dancing and feasting- throughout eternity, with Krishna. But in this material world, due to our conditioned state of consciousness, we have this tendency to want to be the enjoyer. And when we enjoy, we forget the need to take shelter of Krishna. We think that everything is alright without Krishna. We might not say like that, but in the heart of hearts we are feeling that way. Therefore the tendency is in this material world to forget our constitutional position that we are depending on the mercy of God at all times. And it is when we are in danger, when we have no other alternative, except to turn to Krishna to save ourselves from utter frustration, then we turn to Krishna with our whole hearts. It is not that it is necessary for all, it is necessary for those who are still conditioned by this forgetfulness. Therefore it is His mercy to put His devotee in tribulation. The Pandavas, in no way, need to be put in tribulation. They were on that level of the devotees of the spiritual world. But in order to instruct the rest of us, Krishna used them as an example. It is a fact if you could learn how to surrender to Krishna and cry out His holy Name, in utter love and dependence, even when things are good, Krishna won’t need to put you in any difficulty. But can you do that?

When everything is nice, your surrendering to Krishna is all lip-service. Oh yes, I am a devotee, I am surrendered. But is it coming from your heart? When you are helpless and hopeless, it comes from your heart. When everything is alright, it comes from your lips. Krishna wants our hearts. He doesn’t care so much about our lips. Yes?


Question: (inaudible)

Maharaj: He is glorifying Bhishma amongst those who can understand what real glorification is. There is a saying in English, “do not throw pearls to the swine.” In other words, the ignorant masses who don’t hear from the ācāryas, who don’t hear in a humble state of mind from the disciplic line of great saints who are teaching the real essence of Krishna’s reasoning, they can never understand, they can never figure it out with their tiny brains. But Krishna is glorifying Bhishma the topmost way in the hearts of those who know. I mean, in this world, who are people glorifying? Movie stars, models, rock-and-roll musicians, politicians; this is what the masses are glorifying today. They are the people that condemn Bhishma too. Krishna doesn’t want Bhishma to be glorified in the same category as all these crazy people of this world. Those people who have detached themselves from all of the maya and illusion, they understand the truth of Bhishma’s glory. Those who have a superficial conception of Mahabharat, they will never understand, until they take shelter at the lotus feet of someone who knows. Great people, truly great people in this world throughout history have only really been appreciated by few people.


Are there any other questions? Yes?


Question: In 99 percent people, this duality exists in their hearts. So how is Krishna showing them mercy by giving them these dualities? (inaudible) What is Krishna’ grand plan?


Maharaj : Well, in one sense His grand-plan is to come as Kalki – avataar and chop-off everyone’s’ head. (laughter). Cause he won’t listen to anything else except the sword of Kalki – avataar. But in the meanwhile, He is giving everyone a chance. He is giving you freedom, but He is giving you all facility to perfect our life now. But in Kali-yuga that is just the tendency of the conditioned soul. They have another idea. But Krishna is so kind, one way or the other, He will liberate you. But why wait? It is still another 4,27,000 years till Kalki – avataar comes and liberate all the foolish people. Why not take shelter of the Holy Name and attain love of God now.





ānandāmbudhi-vardhana prati-pada pūrāmtāsvādana

sarvātma-snapana para vijayate



The Lord has incarnated in this age within the sound of His name. Kali-kāle nām-rupe kṛṣṇa avatār. In Kali-yuga Krishna is ever-existing within the sound of His name. There is no need to wait 427,000 years to get your chopped-off by Kalki – avataar’s sword. Right now, today, you can attain the destination of prema-bhakti, cleanse your heart of all of these illusions and misgivings by simply learning how to properly chant the Holy Name with attention, with devotion.


Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare!

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.