Taking to Krishna Consciousness
In India all scriptures and great spiritual teachers, including Çaìkaräcärya, an impersonalist, accept Kåñëa as the Supreme Lord. In the beginning of his commentary on the Bhagavad-gétä, Çaìkaräcärya says that Näräyaëa is transcendental to this manifested and unmanifested creation, and in the same commentary he says that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Näräyaëa, is Kåñëa appearing as the son of Devaké and Vasudeva. Thus in this respect there is little difference of opinion about Kåñëa. Those who are authorities, be they personalists or impersonalists, are in agreement that Kåñëa is the Supreme Lord.
When Kåñëa was present on this planet, He proved by His activities and opulence that He is the Supreme Lord. If we are actually anxious to understand who and what the Supreme Lord is, all of the information is given in Vedic literatures. If we utilize whatever we have in our possession to understand God, Kåñëa will prove that He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If we but accept this one fact, then all of our education is complete. It is fashionable to research to try to find out who is God, but this is not necessary. God is present, and He Himself says:
mattaù parataraà nänyat
kiïcid asti dhanaïjaya
mayi sarvam idaà protaà
sütre maëi-gaëä iva
“O conqueror of wealth (Arjuna), there is no truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.” (Bg. 7.7)
This information is not only given in Bhagavad-gétä but in other scriptures as well, and it has been accepted from the very beginning by great äcäryas (teachers) like Çaìkaräcärya, Rämänujäcärya, Madhväcärya, Lord Caitanya and many other stalwart authorities. Even at the present moment those who do not accept Kåñëa as the Supreme Lord are accepting the knowledge given by Kåñëa to Arjuna. So in this way they are accepting Kåñëa indirectly. If one accepts Bhagavad-gétä as a great book of knowledge, he is also accepting Kåñëa. There is no doubt that the Supreme Absolute Truth is Kåñëa and that we have our eternal relationship with Him.
Our eternal relationship with God is sabhäjana: God is great, and we are subordinate. He is the predominator, and we are the predominated. The duty of the subordinate is to please the predominator. Similarly, if we want to be happy, we must learn how to make Kåñëa happy. This is the process of Kåñëa consciousness.
But how is it to be understood that the Supreme Lord is satisfied by our service and labor? It is actually possible to perfect our service or occupational duty. Everyone has some service to perform according to his designations. He may be an Indian or American, Hindu, Muslim or Christian, man, woman, brähmaëa, kñatriya, vaiçya, çüdra or whatever—in any case he is meant to do some sort of work, and that work is his occupational duty. Perfection of duty can be tested by seeing whether the Supreme Lord is satisfied by its execution. The Supreme Lord’s satisfaction can be tested by the Lord’s representative, the spiritual master. Therefore it is important to seek out a real representative of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and work under him. If he is satisfied, then we should know that the Supreme Lord is also satisfied. That is explained by Viçvanätha Cakravarté Öhäkura:
yasya prasädäd bhagavat-prasädo
yasyäprasädän na gatiù kuto ‘pi
dhyäyaà stuvaàs tasya yaças tri-sandhyaà
vande guroù çré-caraëäravindam **
“By the mercy of the spiritual master one is benedicted by the mercy of Kåñëa. Without the grace of the spiritual master no one can make any advancement. Therefore I should always remember the spiritual master. At least three times a day I should offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of my spiritual master.” (Çré Gurvañöakam, Verse 8)
The spiritual master is the representative of the Supreme Lord. How does he become the representative? If one says that such and such an object is a pair of spectacles, and if he teaches his disciple in that way, there is no mistake as to the identity of the object. The spiritual master is he who has captured the words of a particular disciplic succession. In the case given, the key word is “spectacles”—that’s all. The spiritual master does not have to say anything beyond that. This is the qualification. Kåñëa says, “I am the Supreme,” and the spiritual master says, “Kåñëa is the Supreme.” It is not that to be a representative of Kåñëa or to be a spiritual master one has to have any extraordinary qualification. He simply has to carry the message from the authority as it is without any personal interpretation. As soon as there is some personal interpretation, the message is lost and the instructions become offensive. A person who interprets the scriptures according to his own whims should be immediately rejected.
Once Lord Caitanya Mahäprabhu said, “You must at least have enough sense to test to find out who is a spiritual master and who is not.” For instance, if we want to purchase something, we must at least have some idea of what that thing is, otherwise we will be cheated. If we want to purchase a mango from the market, we must at least know what type of food a mango is and what it looks like. Similarly, we must have some preliminary knowledge of the qualifications for a bona fide spiritual master. Bhagavad-gétä itself gives some information about the succession of spiritual masters. Lord Çré Kåñëa says:
imaà vivasvate yogaà
proktavän aham avyayam
vivasvän manave präha
manur ikñväkave ‘bravét
imaà räjarñayo viduù
sa käleneha mahatä
yogo nañöaù parantapa
sa eväyaà mayä te ‘dya
yogaù proktaù purätanaù
bhakto ‘si me sakhä ceti
rahasyaà hy etad uttamam
“I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god Vivasvän, and Vivasvän instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikñväku. This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost. That very ancient science of the relationship with the Supreme is today told by Me to you because you are My devotee as well as My friend; therefore, you can understand the transcendental mystery of this science.”
That original spiritual disciplic succession was broken, but now we can receive the same message by studying Bhagavad-gétä. In Bhagavad-gétä Kåñëa speaks to Arjuna just as in a far distant time He spoke to the sun-god. If we accept the words of Arjuna and Kåñëa, it may be possible for us to understand Bhagavad-gétä, but if we want to interpret it in our own way, the results will be nonsensical. The best way to understand Bhagavad-gétä is to accept a bona fide spiritual master. This is not very difficult.
Arjuna says that he accepts all that Kåñëa has said to him because Kåñëa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead:
nañöo mohaù småtir labdhä
tvat prasädän mayäcyuta
sthito ‘smi gata-sandehaù
kariñye vacanaà tava
“Arjuna said, My dear Kåñëa, O infallible one, my illusion is now gone. I have regained my memory by Your mercy, and now I am fixed without any doubt, prepared to act according to Your instructions.” (Bg. 18.73)
As Arjuna, we should accept Kåñëa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead and do as He says:
yat karoñi yad açnäsi
yaj juhoñi dadäsi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya
tat kuruñva mad-arpaëam
“O son of Kunté, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.” (Bg. 9.27)
By accepting Kåñëa in this spirit, we can attain complete knowledge. If, however, we do not accept Kåñëa and interpret Bhagavad-gétä in our own way, then everything will be spoiled.
If we are sincere, we will get a sincere spiritual master by the grace of Kåñëa. If, however, we want to be cheated, Kåñëa will send us a cheater, and we will be cheated throughout our lives. That is actually going on. For those who do not want to understand Kåñëa as He is but want to understand by dint of their own imperfect vision, Kåñëa, God, remains unknown.
The whole process is to accept Kåñëa and His instructions and therefore to render devotional service unto Him. It is Çrématé Rädhäräëé who is the very embodiment of perfect devotional service. In the Brahma-saàhitä Rädhäräëé is described as Kåñëa’s expansion of His spiritual potency. In this way, She is nondifferent from Kåñëa. The gopés, who tend Rädhä and Kåñëa, are not ordinary women or girls; they are expansions of Kåñëa’s pleasure potency. Rädhäräëé and the gopés should never be accepted as ordinary women; indeed, to understand their position we need the guidance of a spiritual master. If we living entities want to actually associate with Rädhäräëé, that may be possible, although She is not an ordinary woman. We can become associates of Rädhäräëé by qualifying ourselves in advanced devotional service.
In devotional service there is no frustration; even if we perform only a small amount, it will grow. Devotional service is never lost. As far as material things are concerned, whatever we gain in the world will be lost when the body is finished. But since we are eternal spiritual sparks, our spiritual assets go with us, gradually fructifying. In this way those who have previously cultivated transcendental consciousness come in contact with Kåñëa consciousness through this movement. Interest in Kåñëa consciousness is not commonplace. In Bhagavad-gétä it is said that out of many millions and billions of persons, only one is interested in achieving perfection. If we can advertise that simply by reading this book and meditating for fifteen minutes anyone can immediately get power, become successful in business and pass his examination, many people would be attracted to the book. People are not attracted to Kåñëa consciousness because they prefer to be cheated by mäyä. They think that the perfection of life is in eating a great supply of food, or in sleeping twenty hours, or in having a new mate every night or every day. People are interested in these things, but not in the perfection of life.
Every intelligent man should at least experiment with Kåñëa consciousness. He should say, “All right. I have been enjoying this eating and sleeping for so many lives. These things were available for me to enjoy in my bird and animal bodies. Now in this life let me restrict the four principles of animalistic life—eating, sleeping, defending and mating—and let me devote my time to developing Kåñëa consciousness. In this way my life will be successful.”
It is not that we have coined this term “Kåñëa consciousness.” Kåñëa consciousness is the oldest phrase in the history of the world:
man-manä bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yäjé mäà namaskuru
mäm evaiñyasi satyaà te
pratijäne priyo ‘si me
man-manä bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yäjé mäà namaskuru
mäm evaiñyasi yuktvaivam
“Always think of Me. Become My devotee. Worship Me, and offer your homage unto Me. The result is that you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this, because you are My very dear friend. Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, engage your body in My service; and surrender unto Me. Completely absorbed in Me, surely will you come to Me.” (Bg. 18.65, 9.34)
The phrase man-manä bhava mad-bhakto means “just be always conscious of Me.” This then is Kåñëa consciousness. In Bhagavad-gétä Kåñëa is repeatedly saying that we should worship Him, offer obeisances unto Him and then come to Him. Bhagavad-gétä clearly points to the absolute necessity of Kåñëa consciousness, and Bhagavad-gétä is accepted as the essence of the Upaniñads. Even from the historical point of view, it has no comparison. It has been calculated on the basis of archeological evidence that Kåñëa spoke Bhagavad-gétä on the Battlefield of Kurukñetra more than five thousand years ago. So this Kåñëa consciousness movement, even from the historical point of view, is five thousand years old. Its philosophy is the oldest in the history of the world. If we wish to trace it even further back, we find that Çré Kåñëa spoke it earlier to the sun-god. Kåñëa is eternal, and consciousness of Kåñëa is also eternal. In this way Kåñëa consciousness should be approached. It should not simply be considered a theory.
When Kåñëa consciousness is covered by any other consciousness, we experience our contaminated conditional life. When the sky is clear, we can see the sun’s brilliant effulgence, but when it is covered by clouds, we cannot see it. We may be able to perceive the sunlight, but we cannot see the sun disc itself. When the sky is clear, it is in its natural condition. Similarly, our consciousness is eternally Kåñëa consciousness because we are part and parcel of Kåñëa eternally. This is asserted in the Fifteenth Chapter of Bhagavad-gétä:
“The living entities in this conditional world are My fragmental parts, and they are eternal. But due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.” (Bg. 15.7)
Somehow or other we have come in contact with material nature, and because of the mind and the six senses, we are struggling hard to exist. That is Darwin’s theory—the struggle for existence, survival of the fittest. However, the actual fact is that our constitutional position is not one of struggle. Struggle is the position of animal life. Human life should be blissful and should have as its goal spiritual advancement. At one time that was India’s principle of life, and there was a class of people, the brähmaëas, who engaged themselves exclusively in spiritual culture. Although brahminical cultural life is enunciated in the scriptures of India, it is not for Indians alone, but for all human beings. The Vedas were written for all mankind, but it so happened that when the Vedas were written, what is now known as the Indian culture was the only one extant. At that time, the whole planet was called Bhäratavarña, after Emperor Bharata Mahäräja, the son of Åñabhadeva. Bharata Mahäräja ruled the whole planet, but gradually the planet was divided up. So the dharma of Vedic culture should not simply be considered Indian or Hindu in a sectarian sense.
Often the word dharma is translated to mean religion, but to conceive of dharma as a religion is to misconceive the word. In general usage, the word religion refers to a particular type of faith. The word dharma does not. Dharma indicates the natural occupation of the living entity. For example, wherever there is fire, there is heat and light, so it may be said that heat and light are the dharma of fire. Fire cannot change its dharma. In the same way, liquidity is an intrinsic quality of water, and this quality cannot be changed. If it is, it can no longer be considered water. The dharma of the individual soul can never be changed, and that dharma is the occupational duty of rendering service unto the Supreme Lord. Faiths and religions can be changed. Today I may be a Hindu, but tomorrow I may become a Christian or Moslem. In this way faiths can be changed, but dharma is a natural sequence, a natural occupation or connection.
Kåñëa says that as soon as there is a discrepancy in the discharge of the dharmas of the living entities, when there is an upsurge of unnatural activities, He descends. One of the principal purposes of His descent is to reestablish religious principles. The best system of religion is that which best trains us to surrender unto the Supreme Lord. This is the basic principle underlying Bhagavad-gétä. We can select our own religion and be Hindu, Moslem, Buddhist, Christian or whatever, as long as we know the real purpose of religion. Indeed, Çrémad-Bhägavatam does not recommend that we give up our present religion, but it does hint at the purpose of religion. That purpose is love of Godhead, and that religion which teaches us best how to love the Supreme Lord is the best religion.
In this age especially there is a general decay in the consciousness of the masses of people. A few people remember that there is a God, but for the most part people are forgetting Him. Therefore they cannot be happy. People are thinking that God is dead, or that we have no obligation to God, or that there is no God. This sort of thinking will never make for happiness. When civilization is godless or atheistic, as it is today, God or His representative comes to remind people of their relationship with the supreme consciousness.
When Sanätana Gosvämé inquired from Lord Caitanya, “What am I? Why am I always in a miserable condition? What is the position of all living entities?” Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu immediately answered that the real identity is that of servant of God. We should not understand the word “servant” in the sense of materialistic servant. To become a servant of God is a great position. People are always trying to get some government post or some position in a reputed business firm because the service rendered in such positions earns great profits. Although we are very anxious to get good positions in the government service, we do not stop to think of getting a position in God’s service. God is the government of all governments.
God’s service is dharma. This dharma may be described differently in different countries according to different cultural and climatic conditions or situations, but in every religious scripture obedience to God is instructed. No scripture says that there is no God or that we as living entities are independent—not the Bible, the Koran, the Vedas or even the Buddhist literatures. Generally, according to Buddhist philosophy, there is no individual soul and no supreme soul, but actually since Lord Buddha is accepted by Vedic literatures as an incarnation of God, by obeying Lord Buddha one is actually following God. In the Çrémad-Bhägavatam there is a list of incarnations, and Lord Buddha is accepted as one of them. Çrémad-Bhägavatam was compiled by Vyäsadeva five thousand years ago, and Lord Buddha appeared about 2,600 years ago, so Çrémad-Bhägavatam actually foretold the event of his incarnation. Lord Buddha preached that there is no God and no soul, that this body is a combination of matter, and that when we dissolve this material combination, sensations of misery and happiness will no longer exist. Then Çaìkaräcärya appeared to preach that the external feature of Brahman, the body, is merely an illusion. In all religions, temple worship and acceptance of authority are present. We may accept Kåñëa, or Lord Jesus Christ, or Jehovah, or Lord Buddha, or Çaìkaräcärya, or Guru Nanak, but in any case acceptance of authority is required.
In Bhagavad-gétä Lord Çré Kåñëa is accepted as the supreme authority. Sometimes Kåñëa descends personally, and sometimes He descends by His incarnations. Sometimes He descends as sound vibration, and sometimes He descends as a devotee. There are many different categories of avatäras. In this present age Kåñëa has descended in His holy name, Hare Kåñëa, Hare Kåñëa, Kåñëa Kåñëa, Hare Hare/ Hare Räma, Hare Räma, Räma Räma, Hare Hare. Lord Caitanya Mahäprabhu also confirmed that in this age of Kali, Kåñëa has descended in the form of sound vibration. Sound is one of the forms which the Lord takes. Therefore it is stated that there is no difference between Kåñëa and His name.
Today people have forgotten their relationship with God, but this incarnation of Kåñëa in the form of His holy names, this chanting of Hare Kåñëa, will deliver all the people of the world from their forgetfulness. Lord Caitanya Mahäprabhu says that if we chant or associate with the chanting of the holy names of Kåñëa, we will reach the highest perfectional stage of life. According to Çrémad-Bhägavatam there are different processes for different ages, but the principle of each process remains valid in all ages. It is not that the chanting of Hare Kåñëa is effective in this age and not in Satya-yuga. Nor is it that people were not chanting the holy names of Kåñëa in Satya-yuga. In Satya-yuga meditation was the main process, and great munis meditated for periods extending upwards of 60,000 years. In this age, however, perfection by that means of meditation is not possible because we are so short-lived. Consequently in this age it is especially recommended that we all sit down together and chant Hare Kåñëa. It is very easy, and everyone can take part in it. There is no necessity of education, nor are any previous qualifications required. In this age people are also very slow and unfortunate, and they are contaminated with bad association. Caitanya Mahäprabhu introduced the chanting of Hare Kåñëa, Hare Kåñëa, Kåñëa Kåñëa, Hare Hare/ Hare Räma, Hare Räma, Räma Räma, Hare Hare as a great means of propaganda for spreading love of God. It is not that it is recommended only for Kali-yuga. Actually, it is recommended for every age. There have always been many devotees who have chanted and reached perfection in all ages. That is the beauty of this Kåñëa consciousness movement. It is not simply for one age, or for one country, or for one class of people. Hare Kåñëa can be chanted by any man in any social position, in any country and in any age, for Kåñëa is the Supreme Lord of all people in all social positions, in all countries, in all ages.
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