Saturday 27th May - Bhagavad Gita 12.5
kleśo ’dhika-taras teṣām
avyaktā hi gatir duḥkhaṁ
For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that discipline is always difﬁcult for those who are embodied.
The group of transcendentalists who follow the path of the inconceivable, unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme Lord are called jñāna-yogīs, and persons who are in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness, engaged in devotional service to the Lord, are called bhakti-yogīs. Now, here the difference between jñāna-yoga and bhakti-yoga is deﬁnitely expressed. The process of jñāna-yoga, although ultimately bringing one to the same goal, is very troublesome, whereas the path of bhakti-yoga, the process of being in direct service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is easier and is natural for the embodied soul. The individual soul is embodied since time immemorial. It is very difﬁcult for him to simply theoretically understand that he is not the body. Therefore, the bhakti-yogīaccepts the Deity of Kṛṣṇa as worshipable because there is some bodily conception ﬁxed in the mind, which can thus be applied. Of course, worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His form within the temple is not idol worship. There is evidence in the Vedic literature that worship may be saguṇa or nirguṇa – of the Supreme possessing or not possessing attributes. Worship of the Deity in the temple is saguṇa worship, for the Lord is represented by material qualities. But the form of the Lord, though represented by material qualities such as stone, wood or oil paint, is not actually material. That is the absolute nature of the Supreme Lord.
A crude example may be given here. We may ﬁnd some mailboxes on the street, and if we post our letters in those boxes, they will naturally go to their destination without difﬁculty. But any old box, or an imitation which we may ﬁnd somewhere but which is not authorized by the post ofﬁce, will not do the work. Similarly, God has an authorized representation in the Deity form, which is called arcā-vigraha. This arcā-vigraha is an incarnation of the Supreme Lord. God will accept service through that form. The Lord is omnipotent, all-powerful; therefore, by His incarnation as arcā-vigraha He can accept the services of the devotee, just to make it convenient for the man in conditioned life.
So for a devotee there is no difﬁculty in approaching the Supreme immediately and directly, but for those who are following the impersonal way to spiritual realization the path is difﬁcult. They have to understand the unmanifested representation of the Supreme through such Vedic literatures as the Upaniṣads, and they have to learn the language, understand the nonperceptual feelings, and realize all these processes. This is not very easy for a common man. A person in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, engaged in devotional service, simply by the guidance of the bona ﬁde spiritual master, simply by offering regulative obeisances unto the Deity, simply by hearing the glories of the Lord, and simply by eating the remnants of foodstuffs offered to the Lord, realizes the Supreme Personality of Godhead very easily. There is no doubt that the impersonalists are unnecessarily taking a troublesome path with the risk of not realizing the Absolute Truth at the ultimate end. But the personalist, without any risk, trouble or difﬁculty, approaches the Supreme Personality directly. A similar passage appears in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. It is stated there that if one ultimately has to surrender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead (this surrendering process is called bhakti), but instead takes the trouble to understand what is Brahman and what is not Brahman and spends his whole life in that way, the result is simply troublesome. Therefore it is advised here that one should not take up this troublesome path of self-realization, because there is uncertainty in the ultimate result.
A living entity is eternally an individual soul, and if he wants to merge into the spiritual whole, he may accomplish the realization of the eternal and knowledgeable aspects of his original nature, but the blissful portion is not realized. By the grace of some devotee, such a transcendentalist, highly learned in the process of jñāna-yoga, may come to the point of bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. At that time, long practice in impersonalism also becomes a source of trouble, because he cannot give up the idea. Therefore an embodied soul is always in difﬁculty with the unmanifest, both at the time of practice and at the time of realization. Every living soul is partially independent, and one should know for certain that this unmanifested realization is against the nature of his spiritual, blissful self. One should not take up this process. For every individual living entity the process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, which entails full engagement in devotional service, is the best way. If one wants to ignore this devotional service, there is the danger of turning to atheism. Thus the process of centering attention on the unmanifested, the inconceivable, which is beyond the approach of the senses, as already expressed in this verse, should never be encouraged at any time, especially in this age. It is not advised by Lord Kṛṣṇa.
Monday 29th May - Krishna Book - Uddhava Visits Vrndavana
Nanda Mahārāja returned to Vṛndāvana without Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma. He was accompanied only by the cowherd boys and men. It was certainly a very pathetic scene for the gopīs, mother Yaśodā, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī and all the inhabitants and residents of Vṛndāvana. Many devotees have tried to make adjustments to Kṛṣṇa's being away from Vṛndāvana because according to expert opinion, Kṛṣṇa, the original Supreme Personality of Godhead, never goes even a step out of Vṛndāvana. He always remains there. The explanation of expert devotees is that Kṛṣṇa was actually not absent from Vṛndāvana; He came back with Nanda Mahārāja as promised.
When He was going to Mathurā on the chariot driven by Akrūra and the gopīswere practically blocking the way, Kṛṣṇa assured them that He was coming back just after finishing His business in Mathurā. He told them not to be overwhelmed, and in this way He pacified them. But when He did not come back with Nanda Mahārāja, it appeared that He either cheated them or could not keep His promise. Expert devotees, however, have decided that Kṛṣṇa was neither a cheater nor a breaker of promises. Kṛṣṇa, in His original identity, returned with Nanda Mahārāja and stayed with the gopīs and mother Yaśodā in His bhava expansion. Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma remained in Mathurā, not in Their original forms, but in Their expansions as Vāsudeva and Saṅkarṣaṇa. The real Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma were in Vṛndāvana in Their bhava manifestation, whereas in Mathurā They appeared in the prabhava and vaibhava expansions. This is the expert opinion of advanced devotees of Kṛṣṇa. But when Nanda Mahārāja was preparing to return to Vṛndāvana, there was discussion among him, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma as to how the boys could live in separation from Nanda. The conclusion to separate was reached by mutual agreement.
Vasudeva and Devakī happened to be Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma's real parents. They wanted to keep Them now because of the death of Kaṁsa. While Kaṁsa was alive, They were kept under the protection of Nanda Mahārāja in Vṛndāvana. Now, naturally, the father and mother of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma wanted Them to remain with them, specifically for the reformatory function of purification, the sacred thread ceremony. They also wanted to give Them a proper education, for this is the duty of the father. Another consideration was that all the friends of Kaṁsa outside Mathurā were planning to attack Mathurā. For that reason also Kṛṣṇa's presence was required. Kṛṣṇa did not want Vṛndāvana to be disturbed by enemies like Dantavakra and Jarāsandha. If Kṛṣṇa were to go to Vṛndāvana, these enemies would not only attack Mathurā, but would go on to Vṛndāvana, and the peaceful inhabitants of Vṛndāvana would be disturbed. Kṛṣṇa therefore decided to remain in Mathurā, and Nanda Mahārāja went back to Vṛndāvana. Although the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana were feeling separation from Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa was always present with them by His līlā, or pastimes, and this made them ecstatic.
Since Kṛṣṇa had departed from Vṛndāvana to Mathurā, the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana, especially mother Yaśodā, Nanda Mahārāja, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, the gopīs and the cowherd boys, were simply thinking of Kṛṣṇa at every step. They were thinking, "Kṛṣṇa was playing in this way. Kṛṣṇa was blowing His flute. Kṛṣṇa was joking with us, and Kṛṣṇa was embracing us." This is called līlā-smaraṇa, and it is the process of association with Kṛṣṇa most recommended by great devotees; even Lord Caitanya enjoyed līlā-smaraṇa association with Kṛṣṇa when He was at Purī. Those who are in the most exalted position of devotional service and ecstasy can live with Kṛṣṇa always by remembering His pastimes. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākur has given us a transcendental literature entitled Kṛṣṇa-bhāvanamṛtā, which is full with Kṛṣṇa's pastimes. Devotees can remain absorbed in Kṛṣṇa-thought by reading such books. Any book of Kṛṣṇa-līlā, even this book, Kṛṣṇa, and our Teachings of Lord Caitanya, is actually solace for devotees who are feeling the separation of Kṛṣṇa.
That Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma did not come to Vṛndāvana can be adjusted as follows: They did not break Their promise to return to Vṛndāvana, nor were They absent, but Their presence was necessary in Mathurā.
In the meantime, Uddhava, a cousin-brother of Kṛṣṇa, came to see Kṛṣṇa from Dvārakā. He was the son of Vasudeva's brother and was almost the same age as Kṛṣṇa. His bodily features resembled Kṛṣṇa's almost exactly. After returning from His teacher's home, Kṛṣṇa was pleased to see Uddhava, who happened to be His dearmost friend. He wanted to send him to Vṛndāvana with a message to the residents to pacify their deep feeling of separation.
As stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, ye yathā māṁ prapadyante: Kṛṣṇa is very responsive. He responds in proportion to the devotee's advancement in devotional service. The gopīs were thinking of Kṛṣṇa in separation twenty-four hours a day. Kṛṣṇa was also always thinking of the gopīs, mother Yaśodā, Nanda Mahārāja and the residents of Vṛndāvana, although He appeared to be away from them. He could understand how they were transcendentally aggrieved, and so He immediately wanted to send Uddhava to give them a message of solace.
Uddhava is described as the most exalted personality in the Vṛṣṇi dynasty, almost equal to Kṛṣṇa. He was a great friend, and on account of being the direct student of Bṛhaspati, the teacher and priest of the heavenly planets, he was very intelligent and sharp in decision. From the intellectual standpoint, he was highly qualified. Kṛṣṇa, being a very loving friend of Uddhava, wanted to send him to Vṛndāvana just to study the highly elevated ecstatic devotional service practiced there. Even if one is highly elevated in material education and is even the disciple of Bṛhaspati, he still has to learn from the gopīs and the residents of Vṛndāvana how to love Kṛṣṇa to the highest degree. Sending Uddhava to Vṛndāvana with a message to the residents of Vṛndāvana to pacify them was Kṛṣṇa's special favor to Uddhava.
Lord Kṛṣṇa's name is Hari, which means one who takes away all the distress from the surrendered souls. Lord Caitanya states that there cannot be, at any time, a worship as exalted as that realized by the gopīs. Being very anxious about the gopīs' grief, Kṛṣṇa talked with Uddhava and politely requested him to go to Vṛndāvana. Shaking Uddhava's hand with His own hands, He said, "My dear gentle friend Uddhava, please go immediately to Vṛndāvana and try to pacify My father and mother, Nanda Mahārāja and Yaśodādevi, and the gopīs. They are very much griefstricken, as if suffering from great ailments. Go and give them a message. I hope their ailments will be partially relieved. The gopīs are always absorbed in thoughts of Me. They have dedicated body, desire, life and soul to Me. I am anxious not only for the gopīs, but for anyone who sacrifices society, friendship, love and personal comforts for Me. It is My duty to protect such exalted devotees. The gopīsare the most dear. They are always thinking of Me in such a way that they remain overwhelmed and almost dead in anxiety due to separation from Me. They are keeping alive simply by thinking that I am returning to them very soon."
Requested by Lord Kṛṣṇa, Uddhava immediately left on his chariot and carried the message to Gokula. He approached Vṛndāvana at sunset, when the cows were returning home from the pasturing ground. Uddhava and his chariot were covered by the dust raised by the hooves of the cows. He saw bulls running after cows for mating; other cows, with overladened milk bags, were running after the calves to fill them with milk. Uddhava saw that the entire land of Vṛndāvana was filled with white cows and their calves. Cows were running here and there all over Gokula, and he could hear the sound of milking. Every residential house in Vṛndāvana was decorated for the worship of the sun-god and the fire-god and for the reception of guests, cows, brāhmaṇas and demigods. Every home was illuminated with light and incense arranged for sanctification. All over Vṛndāvana there were nice flower garlands, flying birds and the humming sound of the bees. The lakes were filled with lotus flowers and with ducks and swans.
Uddhava entered the house of Nanda Mahārāja and was received as a representative of Vāsudeva. Nanda Mahārāja offered him a place and sat down with him to ask about messages from Kṛṣṇa, Balarāma and other family members in Mathurā. He could understand that Uddhava was a very confidential friend of Kṛṣṇa and therefore must have come with good messages. "My dear Uddhava, how is my friend Vasudeva enjoying life? He is now released from the prison of Kaṁsa, and he is now with his friends and his children, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma. So he must be very happy. Tell me about him and his welfare. We are also very happy that Kaṁsa, the most sinful demon, is now killed. He was always envious of the family of the Yadus, his friends and relatives. Now because of his sinful activities, he is dead and gone, along with all his brothers.
"Please let us now know whether Kṛṣṇa is remembering His father and mother and His friends and companions in Vṛndāvana. Does He like to remember His cows, His gopīs, His Govardhana Hill, His pasturing ground in Vṛndāvana? Or has He forgotten all these now? Is there any possibility of His coming back to His friends and relatives so that we can again see His beautiful face with its raised nose and lotus-like eyes? We remember how He saved us from the forest fire, how He saved us from the great snake Kāliya in the Yamunā, how He saved us from so many other demons, and we simply think how much we are obliged to Him for giving us protection in so many dangerous situations. My dear Uddhava, when we think of Kṛṣṇa's beautiful face and eyes and His different activities here in Vṛndāvana, we become so overwhelmed that all our activities cease. We simply think of Kṛṣṇa, how He used to smile and how He looked upon us. When we go to the banks of the Yamunā and other lakes of Vṛndāvana or near Govardhana Hill or the pasturing field, we see that the impressions of Kṛṣṇa's footprints are still on the surface of the earth. We remember Him playing in those places, because He was constantly visiting them. When His appearance within our minds becomes manifest, we immediately become absorbed in thought of Him.
"We think, therefore, that Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma may be chief demigods in heaven who have appeared before us like ordinary boys in order to execute particular duties on earth. This was also foretold by Gargamuni when making Kṛṣṇa's horoscope. If Kṛṣṇa were not a great personality how could He have killed Kaṁsa, who possessed the strength of 10,000 elephants? Besides Kaṁsa, there were very strong wrestlers, as well as the giant elephant, Kuvalayāpīḍa. All these animals and demons were killed by Him just as a lion kills an ordinary animal. How wonderful it is that Kṛṣṇa took in one hand the big, heavy bow made of three joined palm trees and broke it very quickly. How wonderful it is that continually for seven days He held up Govardhana Hill in one hand. How wonderful it is that He has killed all the demons, like Pralambāsura, Dhenukāsura, Ariṣṭāsura, Tṛṇāvarta and Bakāsura. They were so strong that even the demigods in the heavenly planets were afraid of them, but Kṛṣṇa killed them as easily as anything."
While describing the uncommon activities of Kṛṣṇa before Uddhava, Nanda Mahārāja gradually became overwhelmed and could not speak any more. As for mother Yaśodā, she sat by the side of her husband and heard the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa without speaking. She was simply crying incessantly, and milk was pouring from her breasts. When Uddhava saw Mahārāja Nanda and Yaśodā so extraordinarily overwhelmed with thoughts of Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and when he experienced their extraordinary affection for Him, he also became overwhelmed and began to speak as follows. "My dear mother Yaśodā and Nanda Mahārāja, you are most respectable among human beings because no one but you can meditate in such transcendental ecstasy."
Both Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa are the original Personalities of Godhead from whom the cosmic manifestation is emanating. They are chief among all personalities. Both of Them are the effective cause of this material creation. Material nature is conducted by the puruṣa incarnations, who are all acting under Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma. By Their partial representation They enter in the hearts of all living entities. They are the source of all knowledge and all forgetfulness also. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā, Fifteenth Chapter: "I am present in everyone's heart, and I cause one to remember and to forget. I am the original compiler of the Vedānta, and I am the actual knower of the Vedas." If, at the time of death, a person can fix his pure mind upon Kṛṣṇa even for a moment, he becomes eligible to give up this material body and appear in his original spiritual body, just as the sun rises with all illumination. Passing from his life in this way, he immediately enters into the spiritual kingdom, Vaikuṇṭha. This is the result of Kṛṣṇa conscious practice.
If we practice Kṛṣṇa consciousness in this present body while we are in a healthy condition and in good mind, simply by chanting the holy mahā-mantra,Hare Kṛṣṇa, we will have every possibility of fixing our mind upon Kṛṣṇa at the time of death. If that is done, then our life becomes successful without any doubt. Similarly, if we keep our mind always absorbed in fruitive activities for material enjoyment, then naturally at the time of death we shall think of such activities and again be forced to enter into a material, conditioned body to suffer the threefold miseries of material existence. Therefore, to remain always absorbed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness was the standard of the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana, as exhibited by Mahārāja Nanda, Yaśodā and the gopīs. If we can simply follow their footsteps, even to a minute proportion, our lives will surely become successful, and we will enter into the spiritual kingdom, Vaikuṇṭha.
"My dear mother Yaśodā and Nanda Mahārāja," Uddhava continued, "you have thus fixed your minds wholly and solely upon that Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa, in His transcendental form, the cause of impersonal Brahman. The Brahman effulgence is only the bodily ray of Nārāyaṇa, and because you are always absorbed in ecstatic thought of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, what activity remains to be performed by you? I have brought a message from Kṛṣṇa to the effect that He will soon come back to Vṛndāvana and satisfy you both by His personal presence. Kṛṣṇa promised that He would come back to Vṛndāvana after finishing His business in Mathurā. This promise He will surely fulfill. I therefore request you both, who are the best among all fortunates, to be not aggrieved on account of Kṛṣṇa's absence.
"You are already perceiving His presence twenty-four hours a day, and yet He will come and see you very soon. Actually He is present everywhere and in everyone's heart, just as fire is present in wood. Since Kṛṣṇa is the Supersoul, no one is His enemy, no one is His friend, no one is equal to Him, and no one is lower or higher than Him. Actually He has no father, mother, brother or relative, nor does He require society, friendship and love. He does not have a material body; He never appears or takes birth as an ordinary human being. He does not appear in higher or lower species of life like ordinary living entities, who are forced to take birth on account of their previous activities. He appears by His internal potency just to give protection to His devotee. He is never influenced by the modes of material nature, but when He appears within this material world, it seems that He acts like an ordinary living entity under the spell of the modes of material nature. In fact, He is the overseer of this material creation and is not affected by the material modes of nature. He creates, maintains and dissolves the whole cosmic manifestation. We wrongly think of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma as ordinary human beings. We are like dizzy men who see the whole world wheeling aroung them. The Personality of Godhead is no one's son; He is actually everyone's father, mother and supreme controller. There is no doubt of this. Whatever is being experienced, whatever is already in existence, whatever is not in existence, whatever will be in existence in the future, whatever is the smallest and whatever is the biggest have no separate existence outside the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Everything is resting in Him, but He is out of touch with everything manifested."
Nanda and Uddhava thus passed the whole night in discussing Kṛṣṇa. In the morning, the gopīs prepared for morning ārātrika by lighting their lamps and sprinkling butter mixed with yogurt. After finishing their maṅgala-ārātrika, they engaged themselves in churning butter from yogurt. While the gopīs were thus engaged, the lamps reflected on their ornaments became still more illuminated. The churning rod, their arms, their earrings, their bangles, their breasts--everything moved, and the kuṅkuma powder gave their faces a saffron luster comparable to the rising sun. While churning, they also sang the glories of Kṛṣṇa. The two sound vibrations mixed together, ascended to the sky and sanctified the whole atmosphere. After sunrise the gopīs came as usual to offer their respects to Nanda Mahārāja and Yaśodā, but when they saw the golden chariot of Uddhava at the door, they began to inquire among themselves. What was that chariot, and to whom did it belong? Some of them inquired whether Akrūra, who had taken away Kṛṣṇa, had again returned. They were not very pleased with Akrūra because, being engaged in the service of Kaṁsa, he took Kṛṣṇa away to the city of Mathurā. All the gopīs conjectured that Akrūra might have come again to fulfill another cruel plan. But they thought, "We are now dead bodies without our supreme master, Kṛṣṇa. What further act can he perpetrate on these dead bodies?" While they were talking in this way, Uddhava finished his morning ablutions, prayers and chanting and came before them.
Tuesday 30th May - Vaisnava Etiquette
Wednesday 31st May - Temple Etiquette