In due course of time, when all the causative and effective manifestations of the universe including the planets and their directors and maintainers are annihilated, there is a situation of dense darkness. Above this darkness however is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. I take shelter of His lotus feet. We are reading this morning from Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto 8, Chapter 3 entitled ‘Gajendra’s prayers of surrender’, Text number 5.
Getting out of Maya’s grips
Despite Gajendra’s efforts, despite all of his hopes, this crocodile just will not let go of him. Gajendra who is living what any materialist person would consider an ideal life in every possible way, who is quite proud of his power, of his reputation, of his ability to control things, now finds himself trapped in the jaws of a crocodile, and he is fighting with this crocodile for thousand years, celestial years. And it doesn’t say it in the Bhagavatam, but if it was most of us and probably Gajendra also, he must have been thinking this crocodile has to let go sometime but despite his hopes, despite his efforts, the crocodile just will not let go of him. This is the way maya works for everyone, she just won’t let go, no matter what you do. The only thing that can break us lose from the jaws of the crocodile of material energy is when we totally humble ourselves like Gajendra realizing that we are completely helpless and we surrender. There is no other way out of the crocodile of maya except to surrender to Krsna and this surrender it requires to be of the qualitative feeling of Gajendra.
Real Surrender & Advancement
Surrender is not by how we perform our rituals or how we perform our austerities or how we become popular in the eyes of others or unpopular. It’s a matter of really humbling ourselves and saying to Krsna, “I’m yours. I’m suffering, this crocodile of Maya is killing me and there is nothing I can do and despite hope after hope, now I realize it will never go away until I surrender. Sometimes as devotees we’re wondering when Maya is going to let up, when is she going to leave me alone? The answer is ‘never’ until you surrender like Gajendra. Advancement in Krishna consciousness is not about how many verses we’ve learnt, it’s not about how many years we’ve been around, it’s not even about how many times we’ve gone around Govardhna hill or how many rounds we’ve chanted. All these parikramas, all these rounds that we were chanting are all meant to bring us to the point of total surrender. And until that total surrender, Maya is not going to give up. She is going to be there and that is Krishna’s mercy. Krishna doesn’t settle for less that complete surrender. He’ll settle for whatever you give, but He wants to give you the highest and you can’t get the highest unless you realize there is nothing else. Everything else is coming and going like the seasons. There is only one thing that is permanent and there is only one thing that can give me shelter and that is Krishna. And we can read it and hear it and speak it, but we really have to not just believe it but we have to act on it.
Krishna – Our companion in the darkest times
There are dark times in our lives, but nothing so dark as after the cosmic annihilation. There is nothing but darkness. Yes in life, it might be a hard day, but we have faith that better days will come. Yes? May be a very stormy day in the weather, but we believe that a better day will come. We may be going through some problem, but we have some faith that this problem will end. And that itself will gives us shelter, yes? That the problem will end, that it’s temporary. It gives us some shelter. Whether be it a problem due to our own health or our own mental condition or whether it’s by the climate or natural environment or whether its problems caused by other living beings. People trying to destroy us or people who just don’t act the way we feel is favourable to us. And do you not feel some shelter in thinking that someday this will end? But during the cosmic annihilation and after, there is an entire night of Brahma, which is billions of years where there is no sun, where there is no light. It’s total darkness and there is nothing you can do. In fact you are sound asleep. Such a totally helpless condition! But even at that time Krishna is there, above all the darkness giving the splendour of unlimited suns, inviting us into his eternal transcendental pastimes to give us total relief and shelter and ecstatic joy.
So Maya’s way of dealing with us in this world is to keep us under the illusion that things will get better. No matter how bad things are. Maya tricks us to think that things will get better. Whatever crocodile is biting you, it’s going to get tired after sometime and it’s going to go away. And as long as we have such false hopes we never surrender. The reality is as soon as you come into this material existence, the moment you come in, this crocodile of illusion has you in its grips and will never let go.
This is Sukhadeva Goswami’s lesson to us in Srimad Bhagvatam. After all else has failed Gajendra is conscious that only Krsna can save me, “I am yours”. And in his surrender, Gajendra is not asking the Lord to take the crocodile away. He is basically just giving his life to Krsna. In a crocodile, outside of a crocodile, Krsna I am yours. That is surrender.
First aspect of surrender
We should be aware that in this pond of Material Existence, we are always in the jaws of this crocodile. When Lord Caitanya chants, jiva jago jiiva jago, what he is saying, if you read further in the song, that the first aspect of surrender is to recognize that we are in the crocodile’s mouth. Bhakti Vinod Thakur cites Lord Caitanya’s words that you are spending your days and nights uselessly decorating your dead bodies. Maya is very strong. Queen Kunti prayed for calamities so that she would be always aware that she is in the mouth of this crocodile. So that every moment she is crying out to Krsna. Our illusion is that we are not aware of our predicament. And even if we are aware sometimes, seriously aware of our predicament, our illusion is that we think it is going to go away sometime. Unless we surrender to Krsna, it doesn’t. You are going to get old, you are going to get diseased, going to die, no matter what you do in this life. Then you have to go through the trauma of birth, and you have to go through the whole thing again and everything in between.
Surrender or Suffer
This crocodile is relentless. And the problem is that this crocodile is as eternal as your very soul. Maya is eternal. Manifestations of her are temporary, but maya is forever. She is Krsna’s external energy, the bahiranga shakti. She is forever. And when she gets her jaws around you, she will never let go for the rest of eternity until you surrender to Krsna, surrender to God. That’s why, in the earlier days of Christians, they thought it was great to be murdered, to be crucified or to be killed, tortured and killed. Because, they felt that, in that situation, where I am being tortured and killed in the name of God, I could really take shelter and get out of this mess. Yes! It’s considered a blessing. When people would torture and kill you, it’s considered an honor and a great opportunity. Of course, their idea is “If you don’t surrender to God, you are going to be in hell for ever.” Of course, the early Christians, whether they really believe it or not, I don’t know. There are differences of opinions. But one thing they do definitely believe is – There is everlasting suffering until you surrender unto God. We have that in common.
So, whatever situation, don’t let Maya trick you thinking, “Don’t worry. My jaws will get lost after some time. It will be alright.” Never! Whatever form the sufferings come, if we suffer the way we wanted to suffer, it wouldn’t be really suffering. Actual suffering means really the way I don’t want it. What really hurts me – May be coming from other people; May be coming from my own body, May be coming from the environment. But somehow or other, the worst suffering is the suffering we would never prefer. We would never select this. Not that there is a list and these are the sufferings, choose the ones you like. Sometimes it’s going to come the worst possible way. That’s what happened to Gajendra. He was totally humiliated, not only was he in physical absolute pain, but he was completely humiliated in front of the people who honored him and worshiped him. He was the king. His own family members, his own wives who just considered him infallible, his own children who considered him their shelter, his own subjects who feared him because f his power – in front of every one. He was helpless. He was defeated. He had nothing. It is in that state that he was surrendering his life to the Lord. And how was he surrendering? – Through his prayers. “My Lord, I am yours.”
Ultimately everything is annihilated
Today’s verse, “In due course of time, when all the causative and effective manifestations of the universe, including the planets and their directors and maintainers, are annihilated, there is a situation of dense darkness.” However we have our hope against hope of making things better in this world. Eventually its going to be left with total annihilation. We may think, “I may die, but my children will carry on my legacy and I will leave to my grand children, my great grand children” and all of that stuff. But eventually, there is nothing else exists. Everything gets destroyed – your property, you may think – “Oh, I have built this beautiful home or government may this beautiful monument which is going to last beyond my lifetime.” But it’s all going to be destroyed. Actually, a devotee recognizes this time of total annihilation even in this present moment, because it’s potentially and it’s inevitably there, even in this moment. Whatever things there are in this world, it’s only seperated by a little bit of time, till this all is totally annihilated. Then there is nothing but darkness.
suhrdam sarva bhutanam
But in every situation even in this most extreme condition Krishna is always there to help us. He never lets his devotee down. We may be thinking that there is some other shelter, but Krishna is ‘suhrdam sarva bhutanam‘, he’s everyone’s best friend. Whatever is happening, he is right there as paramatma within our heart, just waiting to give us a completely blissful life. He’s always waiting for us, not matter what we do, no matter what we have done, Krishna never leaves us. Who could be a better friend than him. If you totally betray, blaspheme, reject somebody, birth after birth after birth, are they still going to still be with you? Krishna’s love is unconditional, never leaves us. Always waiting, always willing to give us a chance. And even in the total darkness of total annihilation, Krishna is always there like the sun. In other words, there is no time when Krishna will not deliver us, if we just turn to him.
Lose hope in Maya’s promises
So this is one of the most important stories of Srimad Bhagvatam. In 10th canto of Bhagvatam, we read about the beautiful relationships between Krishna and residents of Vrindavana. But before we could actually appreciate, what is that spiritual exchange of love? We have to go beyond Gajendra’s realization, we have to surrender. And this age of Kali, ‘Golokera Premadhana harinama sankirtan’, the Lord has descended in his holy name. That same Lord that came down and cut the crocodile’s mouth and then transformed Gajendra into his original spiritual body, put him on an airplane, and took him back home back to Godhead. And He did all this within a few minutes. We will read, because Gajendra was so sincere, Krishna descended with his Chakra, cut the crocodile and in an hour Gajendra was liberated. Now is Gajendra after being liberated, was thinking, “Oh What a relief, now I can take care of my family”, then Krishna would have just left him there. Krishna would have said, “Oh! You want to take care of your family here, there is going to be another crocodile. You are not out of the real crocodile’s mouth.” But after he was liberated from the crocodile Gajendra, he didn’t want to do anything except serve the Lord, he loved the Lord. He was so grateful. So seeing that that he had no other desire, he lost all his hopes in the blind faith of Maya’s false promises within this world, Krishna not only cut him out of the crocodile, He put him on an airplane and sent him directly to Vaikuntha, nonstop. And the Holy Name, as Kali kale nama rupe Krsna avatar, in the age of Kali, especially the Holy Name incarnates for that same purpose. By the Holy Name alone we could be liberated from the jaws of crocodile of material energy and the Holy Name can take us back home to the eternal world of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is our faith, that is our conviction and that is our good fortune that we have been given this understanding.
Getting out if the jaws of Maya
Caitanya Mahaprabhu told that brahmachari brahmana, it is not by learning, it is not by austerities, it is not just by performing your rituals; It’s only by pure devotion. Hanuman was a monkey, the Gopis were just simple cowherd girls, Gajendra was an elephant, whoever we are, when we actually surrender, when we really are convinced that the crocodile will never ever ever let go, sometimes we recognize it, sometimes we don’t, but we are always in that crocodile’s jaws of Maya and factually even during Lord Brahma’s night when everything is annihilated and total darkness and nothing else exists, the crocodile exists! We’re still in the jaws we may be so sound asleep, that we don’t even realizes it, but we are still in the jaws. Maya doesn’t let us go even during after the annihilation. Then as soon as Brahma wakes up, we wake up and we find we’re still there. Maya doesn’t go to sleep. She’s awake 24 hours a day for eternity; She’s Krishna’s material energy. Krishna tells in the Bhagavad Gita, He doesn’t talk about one day after another, He’s talking about kalpa after kalpa. He’s talking about Brahma lifetime after Brahma lifetime. We’ve been in this material world…Brahma lives 311 trillion years; we may have been in the crocodile’s jaws of material energy for thousands of Brahma’s lifetimes and for not a second has that crocodile ever let up. Sometimes we recognize it more and sometimes when people are really enjoying and thinking they’re having a good time, that’s when the grips are the tightest, in other words we can’t get out. The pleasures are one of the ways that those jaws….that crocodile has many teeth and they are all sharp, some of them are the teeth of the pleasures that keep us trapped, some are the teeth of miseries that keep us trapped. Sometimes we may shift from one tooth to another but we never get out of the jaws. But Krishna has come in the holyname to deliver us. And then we realize what a blessing this crocodile is. Because without Maya we may be eternally separated from God, unless she made us suffer the way she does. So in the spirit of Gajendra, not tomorrow but today, we should learn to sincerely take shelter of the Lord as we are chanting His holynames. Material desires never go away, until you surrender to Krishna. When will we learn? Is there any questions?
Question:. Thank you Maharaj for this intense class, we as grihastas who have social life also apart from spiritual life, where we have to do lot of activities like earning money and having a shelter like house and so forth. While we are learning as sadhakas learning to take shelter of the Lord, we are in the process, but at the same time we have lot of responsibilities and if we don’t feel that the suffering will end then practically we all will be very depressed people. Right now the recession is going on, so if it doesn’t end then I’ll be a depressed person, because how will I survive with all the responsibilities thaT we have? So even though you are teaching us that we should know for sure that the suffering will end, but how do we get rid of the depression that will be the cause of that thinking becaue if we start thinking this then we will be depressed. So while I am learning to take shelter…I’ve not yet learnt the whole art…how do we take care of these both aspects Maharaj?
HH Radhanath Swami: Until you recognize the reality of Maya, and how we are in the jaws of the crocodile, you’ll never surrender to Krishna. It’s as easy as that, so we may have to perform our worldly duties, but we should not do it in illusion. We should understand that there is only one solution. You see in time the recession may go away, Yes? So if that’s your hope that my happiness is based on the hope that the recession will go away, before the recession goes away so many other things could happen too, much worse than the recession. Yes? People are dying of cancer, you think they care about the recession. They’d be very happy with the recession, Yes? People have been betrayed by their loved ones, you think they care about the recession. So many songs about the broken hearts, but not many songs about recessions. There is just as many songs during economic prosperity, Yes? And even though the recession may end, in time still in every moment you are getting older. By the time the recession ends you may be so old, you can’t enjoy anything anyway. Very soon we have to grow old and we have to die. Is there less people dying during economic prosperity, then there is during recession or even in depression. What do you say? The same amount of people die. That’s material nature. So yes we have to do our best to perform our duties within this world. But we understand through the eyes of the scriptures, dukhalayam asasvatam That we need Krsna ultimately. Economic prosperity is one of the teeth of the crocodile, recession is another tooth, depression is another tooth. But it’s the same jaw. Many teeth. Am I depressing you more? We should not be depressed because we understand that there is always hope. Which is better to be in the illusion that things are getting better or to actually be in the reality where things really do get better.
Srila Prabhupada gives the example of the goats in the slaughter house which are standing in line, one by one they are getting their heads cut off and slaughtered. But the ones who are standing in line, they keep on moving forward by giving nice delicious things to eat. So they keep giving delicious food and each one is enjoying, enjoying, that they don’t realize that they are actually moving forward and it is just a matter of time that they are going to get slaughtered. Now that goat which is five goats from the end of the line, who is enjoying like anything because it doesn’t know what’s coming up. It is actually happy in his own mind. But from the perspective of seeing the whole scenario, would you consider that goat to be happy. It’s a fool’s happiness.
Somebody has a terminal disease and he is going to die within a month and they don’t know it, do you consider, “Oh, such a good life”. Isn’t it better to know it and do something about it. Krishna Consciousness is not about being depressed. Krishna Consciousness is about being optimistic. Even in economic prosperity still the miseries are same, they just may be manifesting in different ways. Still time is consuming our life. So Krishna Consciousness is just being realistic and being completely hopeful, completely optimistic, and being completely out of depression because we see God. We are calling for Krishna. While we are doing all these things, we have to do. We are seeking the permanent solution. So whether there is recession or depression or abundance of everything in this world, whatever happens, devotees continue reading Srimad Bhagvatam and chanting the holy names. In other words, we understand what our shelter is in all situations. And that’s where we find our real happiness. Even if nuclear bombs are falling on our heads, what will we do? That’s a pretty depressing situation. When the Japanese, were bombing into paragraphs and air raids were going on, and people where going into these undergrounds bunkers, Srila Prabhupada was cooking puris for his deities. He was happy and was saying that Krsna has come in the form of time. Time I am. He has come in the form of these bombs. So in good and bad times, in ups and downs, in winters and summers, we have the Srimad Bhagvatam, we have association of vaishnavas and we have the holy names. And we have faith that’s always our real shelter. And that’s wonderful. Yes we have to do good our best to make this world a nice place. But there is only way to make this a nice place, and that’s to see how everything is meant for Krishna. That consciousness makes it a nice place. Does that answer your question?
Question: We normally say that as we spend more years in Krishna Consciousness, we are supposed to go more deep in the chanting of the holy names, but when I see my small journey in Krishna Consciousness, with increasing age there are increasing responsibilities in job, increasing responsibilities in temple, and the way it affects the chanting and the quality of chanting becomes so bad. And when I look back at myself as a student, I feel that I was chanting quite better way compared to now. So no way I see that I am going deep into the holy name, rather a reverse process is happening in my life. And that brings a kind of hopelessness that with all these increasing responsibilities of job, family, or devotional responsibilities, the chanting is ultimately getting affected. So a kind of hopelessness comes that, is there any hope, that we will go deep into the holyname at some point of time.
HH Radhanath Swami: It is Krishna’s pleasure that is most important. Yesterday, one very wonderful man came to visit me and he was talking about surrender and he was saying, “In the bible, the 10 commandments are there, but the real commandment was ‘May thy will be done’ and “This is my will”, God is giving his will in so many ways. But ‘May thy will be done’, which means, Krishna I am yours. My lord whatever is your will, let that be my will. That actually is surrender. Surrender is not a horrible situation of being beaten down. Surrender simply means, Krishna whatever is your will is my will. That’s all. It’s very beautiful and it’s very sweet. You can do even in the most happiest moment, but usually we don’t that’s the problem.” ‘Samsiddhir Hari Tosanam‘, that what pleases Krishna is important. So if you are taking serious responsibilities in life, in a responsible Krishna Conscious way, then you are pleasing Krishna. And you are trying to chant the holynames, even if it may not be apparently as attentive as it was when you were a student. The fact that you are taking such responsibility on behalf of Krishna, Krishna may be enjoying your attempts to chant the holyname now, more than he was when you were a student. We should try to be very very attentive to take the shelter of the holynames of the Lord, but we should understand that our service attitude and our willingness to take responsibility, in a Krishna Conscious way is very very pleasing to Krishna. Even if our mind may be apparently, less attentive Krishna may be much more pleased with our chanting now. And I’m sure he is, in your case. So certainly, we should take seriously the priority. We should take extremely seriously the priority of putting quality time aside to cant the holy names every day. That’s very very important. But we shouldn’t think that taking spiritual responsibility is a distraction. Prabhupad said, we make spiritual progress according to how we take responsibility in Krishna’s service. For grihastha, family is responsibility, for raising them in Krsna consciousness. In our duties to the mission of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, our serious responsibilities. So do not be discouraged. If we are taking these responsibilities honestly and sincerely, Krishna is very pleased. But at the same time, we should not justify in the name of our responsibilities, becoming lapse in our chanting. When we chant the holy names, we are begging Krishna for service. So, Krishna gives us service. You must have been chanting quite sincerely when you were a student. Now you have so much service. Krishna is happy with your service. But avoid offences and continue striving to chant as a primary priority of life.
One more question..
Question: Maharaj, In spite of taking all responsibilities, temple responsibilities, if the conclusion is that this material world is dukhalayam asasvatam, then why to waste time for doing so many things to so many people? In spite of doing our best possible efforts, … if in this world we will be unhappy, then why not join only Brahmacari asram?
HH Radhanath Swami: Grihastha ashram is another type of ashram. This Brahmacari ashram, Grihastha ashram, all these different ashrams are meant to prepare us for perfect Krishna consciousness. All of these ashrams, whether it is Brahmacari, grihastha, vanaprastha or sanyas, they are all meant to bring us to the point of Gajendra – taking shelter of the Lord. And not everyone could be a brahmacari. If you artificially try to do it, and you don’t practice Krsna consciousness properly, you are not following the principles properly, because you are unable to, then you are not going to make progress. Then Grihastha asram is more suitable. Yes! Grihastha ashram is a perfect arrangement for Krishna consciousness. But we have to keep our focus. Just like when Garga muni came to the house of Nanda Maharaj, Nanda maharaj said, “we grihasthas, we get caught up in things, but you saintly people, you come to our houses just to remind us, and keep us focused on the real goal of life. So, all the responsibilities of Grihastha ashram, they can be transformed into devotional service if we keep good association with sadhus, we have good character, we have good sadhana, and we learn to make our house a temple of God, an ashram of God. Then Grihastha ashram is perfect. And it is something doable is if we are sincere.