Caitanya Caritamrta Chapters 20-22 Review

Hare Krsna,

Below is my sincere attempt in creating a “big picture” of Lord’s teachings to Sanatana Goswami.

In a nutshell, Lord Caitanya’s instructions to Sanatana Goswami covers the topics of God’s transcendental forms, His opulences, and devotional service.

Sanatana’s Goswami’s Surrenders to the Lord: In Chapter 20, Sanatana Goswami surrenders to Lord Caitanya. He falls at the Lord’s feet declaring himself lowborn, coming from bad association, most wretched, suffering in the dark well of material enjoyment, unaware about the goal of life, and foolishly thinks he is learned. He prays to the Lord to save him from material existence. He does not know who he is, what is duty is, why he suffers from material miseries, and how to be relieved from material entanglement. By this, Sanatana Goswami teaches us how to approach a spiritual master and inquire from him submissively (BG 4.34).

Jiva’s constitutional position: Out of His causeless mercy, Lord Caitanya instructs Sanatana Goswami about threefold material miseries (adhyatmika-klesa, adhibhautika-klesa, and adhidaivika-klesa). If one does not know why he is suffering from these three miseries, he must be considered ignorant. He should therefore approach a spiritual master. Lord Caitanya instructs Sanatana about one’s constitutional position – that one is a pure living soul and an eternal servant of Krsna. [CC Madhya 20.108]. By giving the analogy of sun and sunshine, the Lord explains the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the soul – the soul is transcendental, simultaneously one and different from Krsna. Though the living entity has the potency to understand the spiritual energy, he identifies with the body due to false ego. He suffers repeated birth and death in various species.  The conditioning of the living entity is due to forgetfulness of his relationship with the Supreme Lord in the superior energy. Only when his original identity is revived does one become liberated. With the help of guru, sadhus and sastra , the living entity can disentangle himself from the material energy and re-establish his eternal relationship with Krishna.

Energies of the Lord: Lord Caitanya explains the material, spiritual and marginal energies of the Krsna. He is the source of the material world as well as the spiritual world. Krishna is ashraya-tattva (the shelter of everything). Everything else is ashrita-tattva. Everything is sheltered directly or indirectly by Krishna. He is the Absolute Truth and His form is eternal, full of knowledge, and full of bliss. [CC Madhya 10.108-151]

Aspects of the Absolute Truth: Lord Caitanya discusses the three aspects of the Absolute Truth, namely brahman , paramatma and bhagavan , and also gives a full description of the various Vishnu expansions. He elucidates the six varieties of avataras (purusa , lila , guna , manvantara , yuga and saktyavesa ) and establishes Lord Krishna as svayam-bhagavan , the original source of everything. Krishna performs His eternal pastimes in multiple universes simultaneously, although His most confidential and intimate pastimes are exclusively enacted in Shri Vrindavana dham. The transcendental form of the Lord can only be understood through the process of devotional service in full Krishna consciousness. [CC Madhya 20.136-164]

Spiritual and Material Universes: Lord Caitanya describes the different spiritual worlds. He describes Devi dham, Mahesha dham, Hari dham and Goloka dham (Gokula, Mathura, Dvaraka). He extensively describes the qualities and opulence of Krsna which enchants everyone in these universes. The spiritual world, which lies beyond the Viraja river, comprises 3/4 of the total energies of the Supreme Lord. In the Lord’s supreme planet, Goloka, all the opulences of the other spiritual planets are displayed. The full extent of Krsna’s greatness is inconceivable, even to Brahma. Though Krsna exhibits unlimited wonderful pastimes in Vaikuntha as Vasudeva and Sankarshana, and in the material world in so many incarnations, His most important activities are His pastimes in human form, which include His pastimes in Vrindavana, Mathura and Dwarka. [CC Madhya 21.1-106]  “Lord Kṛṣṇa has many pastimes, of which His pastimes as a human being are the best. His form as a human being is the supreme transcendental form. In this form He is a cowherd boy. He carries a flute in His hand, and His youth is new. He is also an expert dancer. All this is just suitable for His pastimes as a human being. ”

The Opulence and Sweetness of Lord Krsna: Lord Caitanya describes the beauty of Lord Krsna. He instructs Sanatana Goswami that even a fractional understanding of Kṛṣṇa’s beauty can merge all three worlds in the ocean of love. He attracts all living entities within the three worlds. The transcendental form of Kṛṣṇa is shown to the world by Lord Kṛṣṇa’s internal, spiritual energy, which is a transformation of pure goodness. This jewellike form is the most confidential treasure of the devotees. This form is manifested from Kṛṣṇa’s eternal pastimes. The wonderful form of Kṛṣṇa in His personal feature is so great that it attracts even Kṛṣṇa to taste His own association. Indeed, Kṛṣṇa becomes very eager to taste it. Total beauty, knowledge, wealth, strength, fame and renunciation are the six opulences of Kṛṣṇa. He is eternally situated in His opulences. The Lord explained the beauty of Krishna’s ornaments, the attractive power of His flute, and the absorption of the gopis in Krishna’s beauty. [CC Madhya 21.107-149]

The Process of Devotional Service: In Chapter 22, Lord Caitanya introduces the process of devotional service. Krsna can be approached only by the process of devotional service. Indeed, it is the conclusion of all scriptures that Krsna is the only object of worship. Though fruitive activities, mystic yoga, and the speculative search for knowledge are sometimes praised in the Vedic literatures, the path of devotional service is the foremost. Karma, jnana, and yoga are indirect methods that cannot lead to the highest perfection of self-realization. All paths to self-realization ultimately depend on devotional service. [CC Madhya 22.1-18]

Everything else is subordinate to devotional service: Lord Caitanya then explains that any process short of devotional service is insufficient to free the conditioned soul from matter. Even if one executes his duties according to varnashrama principles, he will go to hell if he lacks Krsna consciousness. Therefore, surrender to Krsna makes the difference between bondage and liberation.  Krsna is like the sun, maya like darkness. One who is illuminated by Krsna consciousness cannot be in maya. If the conditioned soul engages in the service of the Lord and simultaneously carries out the orders of his spiritual master and serves him, he can get out of the clutches of maya and become eligible for shelter at Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet.

Association of Devotees: Good fortune begins when one gets association with pure devotees.  It is neither possible to get liberated nor develop love of Godhead without the favor of a pure devotee. Firm conviction in the Lord’s order is faith which is favorable to the discharge of devotional service. Such faith is demonstrated in the conviction that by only serving Krsna, all other duties are fulfilled. [CC Madhya 22.19-62]

Three classes of devotees: Lord Caitanya explains the differences between the three classes of devotees. A faithful devotee is a truly eligible candidate for the loving service of the Lord. According to one’s faith, one is classified as a topmost devotee, an intermediate devotee or an inferior devotee. A devotee is considered superlative or superior according to his attachment and love. In one who has unflinching devotional faith in Kṛṣṇa, all the good qualities of Kṛṣṇa and the demigods are consistently manifest. However, he who has no devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead has no good qualifications because he is engaged by mental concoction in material existence, which is the external feature of the Lord. [CC Madhya 22.63-76]

Qualities of devotees: Lord Caitanya describes the 26 qualities of a devotee, and the behavior of a pure devotee.  A devotee’s most formidable enemy is association with women in an enjoying spirit. Association with non-devotees is also condemned because it is also a formidable enemy on the path of devotional service. One has to fully surrender unto the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa and give up attraction for women and non-devotees.

Six symptoms of surrender: Next the Lord explains the six divisions of surrender to Krishna. The six divisions of surrender are the acceptance of those things favorable to devotional service, the rejection of unfavorable things, the conviction that Kṛṣṇa will give protection, the acceptance of the Lord as one’s guardian or master, full self-surrender, and humility.  When a devotee thus fully surrenders unto Kṛṣṇa’s lotus feet, Kṛṣṇa accepts him as one of His confidential associates. [CC Madhya 22.100-102]

Regulated & Spontaneous Devotional Service: Lord Caitanya defines the stages of vaidhi-bhakti (regulative devotional service) and raganuga-bhakti (spontaneous devotional service). Expanding on regulative devotion, LordCaitanya delineates the 64 items of devotional service that awaken one’s dormant consciousness of Krishna. He then discusses spontaneous devotional service. The primary characteristic of spontaneous love is deep attachment for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Absorption in thought of Him is a marginal characteristic. Devotional service in spontaneous love is vividly expressed and manifested by the inhabitants of Vṛndavana. Devotional service that accords with their devotional service is called raganuga bhakti, or devotional service following in the wake of spontaneous loving service. [CC Madhya 22]

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Kṛṣṇa’s Eternal Pastimes

Hare Krsna,

My realization is that if we are truly keen on establishing our relationship with Krsna (sambhanda), we would seek ways to stay associated with Him at every moment. Sravanam Kirtanam (hearing and chanting) is the proven approach recommended by our acaryas and scriptures. At a neophyte stage, it may not be practical to hear and chant 24 hours a day. Therefore, it would be nice to have a way by which we can think of Krsna always. As it is advised in Bhakti-Rasamrta Sindhu, “Krsna should always be remembered and never be forgotten.” In order to do so, we must learn how to see Krsna in everything. In other words, we need to bring “Krsna Factor” in everything.

“A person in Krishna consciousness certainly sees Lord Krishna everywhere, and he sees everything in Krishna. Such a person may appear to see all separate manifestations of the material nature, but in each and every instance he is conscious of Krishna, knowing that everything is the manifestation of Krishna’s energy. Nothing can exist without Krishna, and Krishna is the Lord of everything — this is the basic principle of Krishna consciousness.” (BG 6.30 Purport)

Krsna’s pastimes are eternally going on in different universes. We may not be able to see them directly. But by Krsna’s causeless mercy, we can see Him in everything around us. It is not very difficult to see Krsna in everything. For example, by looking at the color of the sky (blue or dark cloud), we can think of it as the color of Krsna’s body. If we see yellow color, we can think of Krsna’s garment. If we drink water, we can think that the taste of water is Krsna. A nice breeze could remind us that of all the purifiers, Krsna is the wind. Krsna talks of His opulences in Bhagavad Gita Chapter 10. The Lord says, “Know that all opulent, beautiful and glorious creations spring from but a spark of My splendor.” (BG 10.41). If we go through good or bad times, we can think that Time is Krsna. I love rain and thundershowers. Whenever it rains, I always think of Krsna holding up Govardhana Hill to protect the inhabitants of Vrindavana from the thundershowers sent by Indra.

It is said that Krsna is like the sun and Maya is darkness. When there is Krsna, there is light and thus there can be no darkness (maya). When we are in the midst of Krsna, how can there be unhappiness and misery? Krsna is the source of everything; everything is His expanded energy. When we connect with Him, we are connected with everything in a state of pure unadulterated constant ever-increasing bliss.

Krsna is Absolute. He is the cause of all cause. I exist because of Him. Otherwise I have no independent existence on my own. Since Krsna is the cause of my existence, it means that He owns me. This makes Him my master and I His servant. And this relationship is eternal. Just this understanding of itself brings us to the absolute platform. Realization of this relationship will help us get rid of the false pride (false ego) we bind ourselves in. Hence, the only way forward, as a sadhaka, is to nurture this relationship so that one day we become a ‘siddha’ where we are firmly, and perfectly, established in pure devotional service to the Lord. That would be the fulfillment of the adhideya and proyajana stages. Thereafter, by Krsna’s mercy, we can also become one of His associates in His eternal pastimes in different universes. That should be our goal.

“When a devotee becomes perfect, he is transferred to a universe where Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes are taking place. Kṛṣṇa’s eternal associates go wherever Kṛṣṇa manifests His pastimes. As stated before, first the father and mother of Kṛṣṇa appear, then the other associates. Quitting his material body, the perfect devotee also goes to associate with Kṛṣṇa and His other associates.” (CC Madhya 20.396-397 Purport)

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

No Need to Speculate

Hare Krsna,

In chapter 20 of CC Madhya Lila, it has been proved that we, living entities, are extremely insignificant as compared to the energy, power and opulence of the Supreme Lord. Even Srila Sanatana Goswami, who is one of the most exalted Vaisnava, considered himself low and insignificant – as shown in this verse: ““I am a very insignificant living entity. I am low and poorly behaved. How can I understand who is the incarnation for this Age of Kali?” (CC Madhya 20.351). Of course, it is his humility that makes him think himself insignificant. However compared to him, the insignificance of conditioned living entities is proven beyond doubt. Not only are we insignificant, we are also lazy, misguided, quarrelsome, unlucky, and always disturbed. We are like the frog in the well that thinks that its well is the only thing in existence. There is no other world beyond this well. It is impossible for the frog to conceive of anything larger, and more opulent than its well. Our situation is also like that of the frog. The material creation is 1/4th of the total creation of the Supreme Lord. And in this material creation, our universe is just a minuscule part. Similar to a mustard seed in a bag full of mustard seeds. Therefore, just like the frog, it is materially impossible for us to conceive of anything beyond our sense perception. We cannot learn or discover everything by ourselves. Speculation is totally useless. We have to get the knowledge from elsewhere. But the question is, from whom and by what process?

As far as the process of acquiring knowledge is concerned, there are three ways: pratyaksa (direct evidence), anumana (inductive knowledge), and sabda (sound).

Since our senses are imperfect, direct evidence (pratyaksa) is not reliable. An example is given of the sun. We see the sun daily; it appears to us like a small disc, but actually it is far larger than other planets. This shows that even by seeing the sun directly, we are not able to fathom its size accurately. Only after we read books on the sun that we can understand about it. This is primarily because our senses are not perfect; we are subject to four kinds of defects. In purport of CC Adi 4.67, it is mentioned, “Sense perception of material objects by the mundane senses, such as the eye, ear, nose and hand, always produces definitely perverted knowledge.” Therefore, direct evidence is not perfect.

Anumana means “inductive knowledge.” Basically it means forming a hypothesis and trying to prove it true. For instance, Darwin’s theory says that it could be because of so and so reasons. But he does not know things perfectly and completely. He just assumes, based on his limited judgement, that this is how things would look. Therefore, anumana is a suggestion, and it is also not perfect. It is dry mental speculation. If we follow Darwin’s approach of inductive process, we will end up proving ourselves monkeys (literally)!!!

Sabda means “sound”. It is derived from sabda-pramana. Vedic knowledge is sabda-pramana. Another name is sruti. Sruti means that this knowledge has to be received simply by aural reception. The Vedas instruct that in order to understand transcendental knowledge, we have to hear from the authority. Transcendental knowledge is knowledge from beyond this universe. Within this universe is material knowledge, and beyond this universe is transcendental knowledge. There is no way we can go to spiritual world. So the only way to receive knowledge is through authoritative sources. Since this message is passed down through disciplic succession, sabda also means descending process. Therefore, knowledge received through this process is considered perfect.

Therefore, we should always receive knowledge through the chain of disciplic succession (sabda) as this process is the most perfect. There is no need to speculate. This approach is approved by none other than the Supreme Lord Himself.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu replied, “As in other ages an incarnation is accepted according to the directions of the sastras, in this Age of Kali an incarnation of God should be accepted in that way. The Vedic literatures composed by the omniscient Mahamuni Vyasadeva are evidence of all spiritual existence. Only through these revealed scriptures can all conditioned souls attain knowledge.” (CC Madhya 20.352-353)

“One should accept a thing as genuine by studying the words of saintly people, the spiritual master, and the sastras. The actual center is the sastras, the revealed scripture. If a spiritual master does not speak according to the revealed scripture, he is not to be accepted. Similarly, if a saintly person does not speak according to the sastras, he is not a saintly person. The sastrasis the center for all.” (CC Madhya 20.352-353 Purport)

All glories to Srila Prabhupada who gave us the transcendental books by reading which we no longer need to waste time on speculation. Everything is there in his books!

Lord Krsna, the Source of all Incarnations

Hare Krsna,

The Invocation to Śrī Īśopaniṣad states: “The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the Complete Whole is also complete in itself. Because He is the Complete Whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance.”

This principle of completeness of the Supreme Lord is difficult to understand to understand in gross terms. From a mundane and gross standpoint, when we think of some portion being taken away from something, the quantity or size of that something diminishes. If we take away a slice of pizza from the original pizza, the size of that pizza reduces. If we take a fruit from a tree, that tree has one fruit less. This is how things are perceived at the gross level. It is simple arithmetic. A minus B equals C. Therefore, the completeness of the Supreme Lord cannot be understood by our gross senses. However, this principle can be understood, to some degree, by the subtle senses. For example, mother’s love. This love is subtle in nature. A mother has only one child and she gives her love to the child. Very simple and natural to understand. Now the mother has two children; when she gives her love to the first child, it does not mean that her bounty of love is exhausted leaving nothing for the second child. On the contrary, her love grows so much that she can equally share her love with both her children. Thus we see that in this case, something can grow (i.e. love in this example) when shared. Arithmetically, A minus B still equals A (or more). Therefore with our subtle senses, we can understand this principle a bit better than with our gross senses.

But when we consider this principle from transcendental standpoint, then the self-realized souls will have no difficulty to understand. The example of a candle is very good example. “When the flame of one candle is expanded to another candle and placed in a different position, it burns separately, and its illumination is as powerful as the original candle’s. Similarly, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Govinda, expands Himself in different forms as Viṣṇu, who is equally luminous, powerful and opulent.” (CC Madhya 20.316). Since we are still conditioned, we may not be able to understand this fully. Therefore we should just accept this principle and have faith that this is possible. It may not be possible in gross or subtle terms; but possible in transcendental terms.

I have another way to explain this principle. From the invocation verse cited above, let us replace the word ‘complete’ by ‘spiritual’. Now let’s see how the invocation reads now:

The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete spiritual, and because He is completely spiritually perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete spiritual wholes. Whatever is produced of the Complete Spiritual Whole is also complete spiritual in itself. Because He is the Complete Spiritual Whole, even though so many complete spiritual units emanate from Him, He remains the complete spiritual balance.

Makes sense? The Lord is spiritual, therefore all His emanations are also spiritual. This includes us, the living entities. We are also spiritual entities. So, if this principle is true when we think from ‘spiritual’ standpoint, why not from ‘completeness’ standpoint? If this is still inconceivable to understand, then we should just accept this principle blindly. We should accept that everything is possible with the Supreme Lord. His emanations can also be complete just like Him.

Since we are also emanation from the Supreme Lord, this means we, living entities, are also complete to some extent. “The human form of life is a complete manifestation of the consciousness of the living being. If in this human life of full consciousness the living entity does not realize his completeness in relation to the Complete Whole, he loses the chance to realize his completeness and is again put into the evolutionary cycle by the law of material nature. The completeness of human life can be realized only when one engages in the service of the Complete Whole. All services in this world—whether social, political, communal, international or even interplanetary—will remain incomplete until they are dovetailed with the Complete Whole. When everything is dovetailed with the Complete Whole, the attached parts and parcels also become complete in themselves.” (Sri Isopanisad Invocation, Purport)

All glories to the Supreme Lord who is perfect and complete!

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

The Infinite and the Insignificant

Hare Krsna,

I can sum up my whole realization on this topic in just one word – “INSIGNIFICANT”.

Compared to the Lord’s Krsna unlimited energies, we (living entities) are insignificant. Quantitatively, we are miniscule parts and parcels of Krsna.

Compared to the unlimited material universes in the whole creation, our universe is like a tiny speck of dust. Srila Prabhupada gave an analogy of mustard seed. All the material universes collectively are in a bag of mustard seed, and our universe is just one seed. That’s how tiny and insignificant our universe is. We are insignificant; our material universe is insignificant. But our false ego makes us think that we are the greatest. Our collective false ego of the whole universe makes us think that our universe is unique and greatest. There is no other universe that can be compared to ours. People who are familiar with Hollywood movies can recount those movies where the storyline is ‘aliens’ vs. ‘humans’. In every movie, aliens are projected as villains out to destroy our beautiful planet. And our earthly planet has to defend itself against all odds. This is collective ego and selfishness extended to the extreme. We think we are the greatest. But the fact is, we cannot even defend ourselves against the natural elements (such as floods, fire, tornados, tsunamis, etc.). And we think we can defend ourselves against aliens?

This mentality of ‘I am the greatest’ crept in because we forgot Lord Krsna and any trace of Godliness. As we forget God, our false ego gets bigger and bigger till it reaches a stage where it creates utter havoc. And this is what is happening now.

As a devotee, when I see Lord’s infinite opulence and energy, I feel a mood of surrender. What else can one do? Just surrender unto Him. There is no point revolting or trying to understand the inconceivable nature of the Lord. Something that materialists tend to do. The atheists and so-called scientists who think that everything originated from matter must read these scriptures. They define everything how the material creation came into being, who created it, and for what purpose. If they are not convinced by this explanation of the creation, nothing else will. I feel sorry for them. Nothing can help them. They spend so much money on proving the universe started from matter through Big Bang. This is just mental speculation. Our scriptures reject all such false concocted claims.

Considering my insignificant nature, all my circumstantial difficulties are also insignificant. We go through so many anxieties and worries. But if we look from a cosmic point of view, they are all insignificant and temporary. Why do we have to endeavor endlessly for fruitive activities, jnana, yoga, etc.? What will great wealth, high education, beautiful spouse and children, good job, high social status, fame, etc. accomplish? They are all insignificant and fleeting. They are on the bodily platform and perish when we leave our body. And once we stop identifying with these temporary fleeting events, we attain our blissful nature. What is there to worry about?

It is, therefore, good sense to take shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord. Since the material world and everything within it is temporary and insignificant, wouldn’t the Lord want us to get out of it and return back to Godhead? This world is ‘padam padam yad vipadam’. There is danger at every step. Why loiter endlessly in this material world? If we show sincere desire to return back to Godhead, the Lord can rescue us right away. If the material universe is a spark of Lord’s creation, then how insignificant are our desires and material suffering for Him? All we have to do is take shelter of the Supreme Lord.

“if one takes shelter of Kṛṣṇa without hesitation and keeps under the shelter of Kṛṣṇa, he can easily cross the ocean of nescience. Samāśritā ye pada-pallava-plavaṁ mahat-padaṁ puṇya-yaśo murāreḥ. To the devotee, this great ocean of nescience becomes like a puddle of water in the hoofprint of a cow. A pure devotee, without embarrassing himself by trying for elevation in so many ways, stays in the safest position as a servant of Kṛṣṇa, and thus his life is eternally safe without a doubt.” (SB 7.15.68, Purport)

By the mercy of Lord Caitanya, this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is intended to teach how everyone can live peacefully in this material world and at the end of life return home, back to Godhead.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

The Lord’s Expansions in the Material World

Hare Krsna,

My realization is that every incarnation and expansion of the Lord has something to do with the desires of the devotees or actions of the non-devotees. For example, the half-man, half-lion form of Lord Nrsimhadev is manifested because the demon Hiranyakasipu asked for a benediction from Lord Brahma where he wouldn’t be killed by any living entities created by Lord Brahma, he would not die within any residence or outside any residence, during the daytime or at night, nor on the ground or in the sky, nor by any weapon, nor by any human being or animal, not by any demigod or demon or by any great snake from the lower planets, etc. Thus, the Lord appeared as the form of Lord Nrsimhadev in consistent with the requirements of Hiranyakasipu. In this case, the Lord incarnation according to the action of a non-devotee like Hirankasipu.

In another example, the form of Lord Jagannath manifested because Sri Narada Muni asked for a benediction from the Lord that the whole world should get the opportunity to see the Lord in this form. Here it is the desire of a pure devotee that the Lord fulfilled to incarnate in a particular form.

Another example is the virat-rupa form of the Lord. This form is meant for those people who cannot conceive of the spiritual form of the Lord. “The conception of the virāṭ-rūpa or viśva-rūpa of the Supreme Absolute Truth is especially meant for the neophyte who can hardly think of the transcendental form of the Personality of Godhead. To him a form means something of this material world, and therefore an opposite conception of the Absolute is necessary in the beginning to concentrate the mind on the power extension of the Lord.” (SB 1.3.3 Purport)

Similarly all the different incarnations and expansions of the Lord may have something to do with the desires/actions of the living entities in different planets. The Lord’s pastimes are eternally going on in every universe. Therefore He takes on a form according to time, place, and circumstance.

Lest I give an impression that the living entities cause the Lord to appear in a particular form, I must mention that the Lord appears and disappears by His own sweet will. No living entity can cause the Lord to appear in a specific form. The Lord is causeless, and so are His numerous incarnations and expansions. The Supreme Lord is transcendental, and so are His form, qualities, pastimes, paraphernalia, etc.

“Avatāras descend of their own free will, and although they may act like ordinary human beings, they do not belong to this material world.” (CC Madhya 20.247-248 Purport)

It is also the causeless mercy of the Lord that He allows us to see His forms with our materially contaminated senses. The arca-vigraha form of the Lord is a beautiful example. This form is an incarnation of the Lord in the form of a material manifestation (stone, wood, brass, etc.). Ultimately there is no difference between the Lord manifest in matter or manifest in spirit because both are His energies. For the Lord, there is no distinction between matter and spirit. His manifestation in material form, therefore, is as good as His original form, sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha (Bs. 5.1). A devotee constantly engaged in Deity worship according to the rules and regulations laid down in the sastras and given by the spiritual master realizes gradually that he is in direct contact with the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

It is an offense to consider the arca-vigraha form of the Lord as mundane and material. While I was growing up, I had a trouble accepting such form because I used to think everything is material. I grew up in a Christian-dominated society and my Christian friends used to make fun of me. They accused us of worshipping idols. What they did not realize that the form of the Lord Jesus Christ they worshipped was also made of the same materials that our so-called idols were made of. And since I had to spiritual knowledge, I couldn’t defend myself. But after coming to Krsna consciousness and reading Srila Prabhupada’s books, I understood that the arca-vigraha form of the Lord is completely spiritual. If that was not the case, how is it possible that the Deities reciprocate with our loving service and mood? Pure devotees directly communicate with the Deities. We have a very senior devotee here who served Sri Radha-Muralidhara (now installed in Bhakti Center, New York) for so many years that the Lords change Their bodily color upon seeing her after a long time. I personally have seen the pictures taken by her, and have been amazed seeing them. We have countless such examples in our movement where devotees have established loving relationship with the Deities, and, in turn, the Deities reciprocate according to their mood and service. This is the sweetness of Lord Krsna, and it is this sweetness of the Lord that keeps us going in Krsna consciousness, despite so many trials and tribulations in our everyday life. This is the benevolence of the Lord that He made Himself available to us in this material world.

“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.” (BG 4.9)

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Relationship With The Infinite

Hare Krsna,

The lesson on CC Madhya 20.165-202 reminds me of the verse SB 1.3.28:

ete cāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ

kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam

indrāri-vyākulaṁ lokaṁ

mṛḍayanti yuge yuge

“All of the above-mentioned incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the original Personality of Godhead. All of them appear on planets whenever there is a disturbance created by the atheists. The Lord incarnates to protect the theists.”

Even though so many incarnations and manifestations emanate from Lord Sri Krsna, He remains the original Personality of Godhead. All His different incarnations (or plenary portions) appear to execute certain functions – the chief among them is to protect the theists and punish the atheists. The analogy can be given of a candle. From one candle, numerous other candles can be lit. By this the original candle does not lose its potency even though it is used to light other candles. Similarly, Lord Krsna always remains complete in potency and qualitative attributes. It is said that Lord Krsna has sixty-four principal attributes. All the expansions or categories of the Lord possess only some percentages of these attributes. But Sri Kṛṣṇa possesses 100% of the attributes. And His personal expansions such as svayam-prakasa and tad-ekatma, up to the categories of the avataras who are all viṣṇu-tattva, possess up to ninety-three percent of these transcendental attributes. Lord Siva, who is neither avatara nor avesa nor in between them, possesses almost eighty-four percent of the attributes. But the jivas, or the individual living beings in different statuses of life, possess up to the limit of seventy-eight percent of the attributes.

This, therefore, brings us to the question of our relationship with the infinite ever-expanding Lord. The fact is we, jivas, possess only minute quantity of Lord’s attributes. At the most, we can develop the attributes up to seventy-eight percent in full. But we can never be equal to the Supreme Lord, both in quality and quantity. We will always remain His infinitesimal parts and parcels. We will always remain His servitor and He, the served. Therefore, it is a futile exercise to try to become God or become equal to God, or merge into the bodily effulgence of the Lord. In other words, we should not try to be Mayavadis.

So, what is the best thing I can do in in relation to the Supreme Lord? First of all, I should completely surrender unto Him. My false ego may stop me from surrendering; but the fact is in comparison with the infinite Supreme Lord, I am absolutely nothing. Therefore, the best recourse is to surrender to Him and pray to Him to allow me to engage in His devotional service. When I surrender, then my spiritual advancement is assured. The more I surrender, the more I advance. This surrendering process also includes surrendering to whoever represents Krsna i.e. the devotees of Krsna and spiritual masters. The beauty of devotional service is that there is reciprocity between one who surrenders and one who is surrendered unto. In devotional service, the activity is reciprocal – when one engages in devotional service, then he becomes actively involved in service of the Lord and the Supreme Personality of Godhead reciprocates. In this way, the devotee attains ever-lasting happiness and bliss.

In summary, our relationship with the Infinite is one of servitorship to the Supreme Lord. This establishes our sambhanda with the Lord. Since the Lord is the master and we are His servant, we engage in loving devotional service to Him (abhideya). And eventually through this process, we attain the ultimate goal of life which is pure love of Godhead. This is prayojana.

This is my humble realization on this topic!

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

The Parable- Learned Astrologer and the Poor Man

Hare Krsna,
CC Madhya 20.128 — Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu then told this story, “Once a learned astrologer came to the house of a poor man and, seeing his distressed condition, questioned him. The astrologer asked, ‘Why are you unhappy? Your father was very wealthy, but he did not disclose his wealth to you because he died elsewhere.’

CC Madhya 20.129-130 — “Just as the words of the astrologer Sarvajñā gave news of the poor man’s treasure, the Vedic literatures advise one about Kṛṣṇa consciousness when one is inquisitive to know why he is in a distressed material condition. By the words of the astrologer, the poor man’s connection with the treasure was established. Similarly, the Vedic literature advises us that our real connection is with Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
CC Madhya 20.131-135 — Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu proceeded, “Although being assured of his father’s treasure, the poor man could not acquire this treasure by such knowledge alone. Therefore the astrologer had to inform him of the means whereby he could actually find the treasure. The astrologer said, ‘The treasure is nearby, but if you dig toward the southern side, the wasps and drones will rise, and you will not get your treasure. If you dig on the western side, there is a ghost who will create such a disturbance that your hands will not even touch the treasure. If you dig on the northern side, there is a big black snake that will devour you if you attempt to dig up the treasure. However, if you dig up a small quantity of dirt on the eastern side, your hands will immediately touch the pot of treasure.’

According to my understanding, the significance of the parable lies in the following verse:

CC Madhya 20.136 — “The revealed scriptures conclude that one should give up fruitive activity, speculative knowledge, and the mystic yoga system and instead take to devotional service, by which Kṛṣṇa can be fully satisfied.

The goal of life is to achieve love of Godhead (prayojana). There is only one process to achieve this, and that is bhakti-yoga. In order to achieve this goal, one must get rid of the material conditioning. Therefore, all other processes such as karma-kanda, jnana-kanda and mystic yoga are impediments to realize this ultimate goal of life. In fact, they entangle us more in material conditioning. Although the sastras prescribe different methods for different men, the Supreme Personality of Godhead says that one ultimately must accept the path of devotional service as the assured path of spiritual advancement. Devotional service to the Lord is the only process actually confirmed by the Lord. (CC Madhya 20.139 Purport)

While comparing these instructions to the bhakti-lata instructions, I could find two similarities as below:

  1. Attaining love of Godhead (prayojana)
  2. Avoiding obstacles and unwanted creepers

The bhakti-lata instructions also contain references to prayojana (achieving ultimate love of Godhead). The following two verses from CC Chapter 19 confirm this.

CC Madhya 19.154 — Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu continued, “Being situated in one’s heart and being watered by śravaṇa-kīrtana, the bhakti creeper grows more and more. In this way it attains the shelter of the desire tree of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, who is eternally situated in the planet known as Goloka Vṛndāvana, in the topmost region of the spiritual sky.

CC Madhya 19.155 — Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu continued, “The creeper greatly expands in the Goloka Vṛndāvana planet, and there it produces the fruit of love for Kṛṣṇa. Although remaining in the material world, the gardener regularly sprinkles the creeper with the water of hearing and chanting.

The second similarity relates to avoiding unwanted creepers. In CC Chapter 19, the unwanted creepers are referred to as the desires for material enjoyment and liberation from the material world (as shown in the following verse).

CC Madhya 19.158-159 — Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu continued, “Sometimes unwanted creepers, such as the creepers of desires for material enjoyment and liberation from the material world, grow along with the creeper of devotional service. The varieties of such unwanted creepers are unlimited. Some unnecessary creepers growing with the bhakti creeper are: the creepers of behavior unacceptable for those trying to attain perfection, diplomatic behavior, animal-killing, mundane profiteering, mundane adoration and mundane importance. All these are unwanted creepers.

The unwanted creepers have been described by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. He states that if one hears and chants without trying to give up offenses, one becomes materially attached to sense gratification. One may also desire freedom from material bondage like the Māyāvādīs, or one may become attached to the yoga-siddhis and desire wonderful yogic powers. If one is attached to wonderful material activities, one is called siddhi-lobhī, greedy for material perfection….All this means that the so-called devotee has become victimized by all these unwanted creepers and that the real creeper, the bhakti-latā, has been stunted.

Similarly this lesson (Chapter 20) also mentions that the unwanted creepers are nothing but the desires for fruitive activity, speculative knowledge, and mystic yoga system. Unless we give them up, it is very difficult to achieve pure love of Godhead.

In conclusion, the conclusion of all scriptures is that “Kṛṣṇa is the central point of attraction, and His service is our activity. To attain the platform of love of Kṛṣṇa is life’s ultimate goal. Therefore Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa’s service, and love of Kṛṣṇa are the three great riches of life. In all revealed scriptures, beginning with the Vedas, the central point of attraction is Kṛṣṇa. When complete knowledge of Him is realized, the bondage of māyā, the illusory energy, is automatically broken.” (CC Madhya 20.142-144 Purport). Everything else (fruitive activity, speculative knowledge, mystic yoga system) are nothing but unwanted creepers that we need to get rid of.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Devotional Service and Detachment from Material Enjoyment

Hare Krsna,

For long, I have wondered how devotional service removes detachment from material enjoyment. Why is the process not visible with our gross senses? By enquiry arose from the understanding that devotional service is purely on the transcendental level whereas material attachment is on the material level. Since both are at different levels, how does the two process interact? Even SB mentions about this connection between the two.

SB 1.2.7 says, “By rendering devotional service unto the Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, one immediately acquires causeless knowledge and detachment from the world.”

A clue to the answer of my question is provided by Srila Prabhupada in the purport of the above verse. He writes, “The principles of knowledge and detachment are two important factors on the path of transcendental realization. The whole spiritual process leads to perfect knowledge of everything material and spiritual, and the results of such perfect knowledge are that one becomes detached from material affection and becomes attached to spiritual activities….The bhakti cult is meant for realization of the positive form. When the positive form is realized, the negative forms are automatically eliminated. Therefore, with the development of the bhakti cult, with the application of positive service to the positive form, one naturally becomes detached from inferior things, and he becomes attached to superior things. Similarly, the bhakti cult, being the supermost occupation of the living being, leads him out of material sense enjoyment.

The key is transcendental knowledge. We don’t see the process of detachment working with our naked eyes because (a) we are conditioned, (b) our senses are imperfect, and © the process works at spiritual level. Therefore, we are not able to experience these things with our gross senses.

Since transcendental knowledge is the catalyst that free us from material entanglement, how is such knowledge acquired? Such knowledge is acquired by the process of hearing, glorifying, remembering and worshiping the Supreme Lord. What happens when we develop taste for the messages of Lord Krsna? The answer is Lord Krsna Himself removes our desires for material enjoyment. The following verses from SB Canto 1 Chapter 2 are extremely enlightening and reveal the process.

SB 1.2.16 — O twice-born sages, by serving those devotees who are completely freed from all vice, great service is done. By such service, one gains affinity for hearing the messages of Vāsudeva.

SB 1.2.17 — Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramatma [Supersoul] in everyone’s heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who has developed the urge to hear His messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted.

SB 1.2.18 — By regular attendance in classes on the Bhagavatam and by rendering of service to the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is almost completely destroyed, and loving service unto the Personality of Godhead, who is praised with transcendental songs, is established as an irrevocable fact.

SB 1.2.19 — As soon as irrevocable loving service is established in the heart, the effects of nature’s modes of passion and ignorance, such as lust, desire and hankering, disappear from the heart. Then the devotee is established in goodness, and he becomes completely happy.

SB 1.2.20 — Thus established in the mode of unalloyed goodness, the man whose mind has been enlivened by contact with devotional service to the Lord gains positive scientific knowledge of the Personality of Godhead in the stage of liberation from all material association.

SB 1.2.21 — Thus the knot in the heart is pierced, and all misgivings are cut to pieces. The chain of fruitive actions is terminated when one sees the self as master.

These six verses summarize the process of purification through devotional service. As the purification happens, material detachment happens gradually.

How do we receive such knowledge? We receive such transcendental knowledge from guru, sadhu and sastra. This is also mention in one of the verses in this lesson.

The conditioned soul cannot revive his Kṛṣṇa consciousness by his own effort. But out of causeless mercy, Lord Kṛṣṇa compiled the Vedic literature and its supplements, the Purāṇas. The forgetful conditioned soul is educated by Kṛṣṇa through the Vedic literatures, the realized spiritual master and the Supersoul. Through these, he can understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead as He is, and he can understand that Lord Kṛṣṇa is his eternal master and deliverer from the clutches of māyā. In this way one can acquire real knowledge of his conditioned life and can come to understand how to attain liberation.” (CC Madhya 20.122-123)

Out of His causeless mercy and compassion, Kṛṣṇa has compiled various Vedic literatures in His incarnation as Vyāsadeva. Vyāsadeva is a śaktyāveśa-avatāra of Lord Kṛṣṇa. He has very kindly presented these literatures to awaken the conditioned soul to his senses. Unfortunately, at the present moment the conditioned souls are guided by demons who do not care to read the Vedic literatures…..As the śaktyāveśa-avatāra Vyāsadeva, Kṛṣṇa teaches the conditioned soul through the Vedic literatures. Kṛṣṇa externally appears as the spiritual master and trains the conditioned soul to come to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. When his original Kṛṣṇa consciousness is revived, the conditioned soul is delivered from the material clutches. Thus a conditioned soul is always helped by the Supreme Personality of Godhead in three ways — by the scriptures, the spiritual master and the Supersoul within the heart. The Lord is the deliverer of the conditioned soul and is accepted as the Supreme Lord of all living entities.”  (CC Madhya 20.124 Purport)

How do we test this process works? As I wrote above, the process is not visible with our gross senses. We can realize (or experience) this by the changes in our hearts. We will realize that slowly our anarthas are going away. A very basic test is, “are we able to follow the four regulative principles and chant 16 rounds easily?” If the answer is yes, this means the process is working. In my case, I am gradually seeing that I am become firmly established in sadhana-bhakti. Earlier I used to enjoy hanging out with non-devotees and karmis. I don’t enjoy their company anymore. I spend more time in reading and hearing scriptures. I do not have taste for watching TV or idle gossip. I used to be a heavy coffee drinker until few years ago. Now I don’t drink coffee. I used to be very career-oriented and ambitious for material designations; not any more.  This proves that the process of Krsna consciousness is working and is leading to material detachment. I should not expect to see the transformation overnight. It takes time and the process works gradually. There are some anarthas that may take years (or lifetimes) to go away. He just need to be patient and follow Srila Prabhupada’s instructions strictly.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada who gave us the scriptures by reading which our hearts are filled with transcendental knowledge and ignorance is removed, and thereby leading to material detachment!

Purifying Nature of a Devotee

Hare Krsna,

In one of the future CC class, we will come across 26 qualities of a pure devotee of the Lord. This will be covered in CC Madhya 22.78-80. These 26 qualities are:

(1) He is very kind to everyone. (2) He does not make anyone his enemy. (3) He is truthful (4) He is equal to everyone. (5) No one can find any fault in him. (6) He is magnanimous. (7) He is mild. (8) He is always clean. (9) He is without possessions. (10) He works for everyone’s benefit. (11) He is very peaceful. (12) He is always surrendered to Krsna. (13) He has no material desires. (14) He is very meek. (15) He is steady. (16) He controls his senses. (17) He does not eat more than required. (18) He is not influenced by the Lord’s illusory energy. (19) He offers respect to everyone. (20) He does not desire any respect for himself. (21) He is very grave. (22) He is merciful. (23) He is friendly. (24) He is poetic. (25) He is expert. (26) He is silent.

These qualities distinguishes a pure devotee from others. However what is not exclusively mentioned in these qualities is the purifying nature of the pure devotee. In my opinion, the existence of these 26 qualities results in the manifestation of the purifying nature of the devotee. Let ‘s see what are some of the qualities of Srila Sanatana Goswami that we touched upon in this lesson.

In CC Madhya 20.54, Sanatana Goswami said to Mahaprabhu, “O my Lord, please do not touch me.” This shows his humility (Quality # 14 and 20). He does not desire any respect for himself.

In CC Madhya 20.69-71, Sanatana Goswami refused the new set of clothes offered by Candrasekhara. This shows quality # 9 – simple and without material possession.

In CC Madhya 20.81, Sanatana Goswami refused to have full meals in the house of Tapana Misra. Indeed, he wanted to live like a madhukari. This shows quality # 17 – not eating more than required.

These are just of the synopsis of Sanatana Goswami’s qualities. A pure devotee has ocean of good qualities. And if we notice carefully here, we see that the qualities have nothing to do with one’s externals. Sanatana Goswami appeared as a muslim mendicant. But still the Lord was very eager to embrace him. Even in Srimad Bhagavatam, we have seen the purifying nature of Sukadeva Goswami. He used to roam around naked, and people would laugh at him. But when he appeared where Maharaja Pariksit sat in meditation to pass the last seven days of his life, all the sages and saints assembled there honored him by rising from their seats. Then Pariksit Maharaja’s offered his prayers to Sukadeva Goswami.

He said, “Simply by our remembering you, our houses become instantly sanctified. And what to speak of seeing you, touching you, washing your holy feet and offering you a seat in our home?” (SB 1.19.33). In the purport, Srila Prabhupada writes, “The importance of holy places of pilgrimage is due to the presence of great sages and saints. It is said that sinful persons go to the holy places and leave their sins there to accumulate. But the presence of the great saints disinfects the accumulated sins, and thus the holy places continue to remain sanctified by the grace of the devotees and saints present there. If such saints appear in the homes of worldly people, certainly the accumulated sins of such worldly enjoyers become neutralized. Therefore, the holy saints actually have no self-interest with the householders. The only aim of such saints is to sanctify the houses of the householders, and the householders therefore should feel grateful when such saints and sages appear at their doors. A householder who dishonors such holy orders is a great offender. It is enjoined, therefore, that a householder who does not bow down before a saint at once must undergo fasting for the day in order to neutralize the great offense.”

And in this lesson, Lord Caitanya demonstrated how pure devotees, who can turn all places into places of pilgrimage, must be treated. He said that He is touching Sanatana Goswami to purify Himself. (CC Madhya 20.56)

“Saints of your caliber are themselves places of pilgrimage. Because of their purity, they are constant companions of the Lord, and therefore they can purify even the places of pilgrimage.” (SB 1.13.10)

“[Lord Kṛṣṇa said:] ‘Even though a person is a very learned scholar of the Sanskrit Vedic literatures, he is not accepted as My devotee unless he is pure in devotional service. However, even though a person is born in a family of dog-eaters, he is very dear to Me if he is a pure devotee who has no motive to enjoy fruitive activity or mental speculation. Indeed, all respects should be given to him, and whatever he offers should be accepted. Such devotees are as worshipable as I am.’ (Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa 10.127)

“By seeing you, by touching you and by glorifying your transcendental qualities, one can perfect the purpose of all sense activity. This is the verdict of the revealed scriptures. My dear Vaiṣṇava, seeing a person like you is the perfection of one’s eyesight, touching your lotus feet is the perfection of the sense of touch, and glorifying your good qualities is the tongue’s real activity, for in the material world it is very difficult to find a pure devotee of the Lord.’ ” Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya (13.2)

It is indeed rare to find such pure devotees. Srila Prabhupada was one such maha-bhagavata. Whoever got a rare opportunity to directly associate with him got purified. Even though today we do not have access to vapu feature of Srila Prabhupada, we can still associate with him through his books. By reading Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam and Caitanya Caritamrta, we too can get purified without having have to visit the holy places of pilgrimage.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada who purified any fallen soul who came in contact with him – directly or indirectly.