real qualification of the spiritual master is that he is a messenger.
He does not have to manufacture anything--he only has to present
Krishna's message as it is. Srila Prabhupada used to say, "If I have
any credit at all, it is that I have presented the Bhagavad-gita
Is. I have not manufactured anything." This feature of Srila
distinguishes him from so many other religious teachers. more
Prabhupada came to Hyderabad, where we had 600 acres of farmland
donated to us, every morning … it was hot there, very hot. There was
nothing on the land, just big boulders on the land there, very
moonscape-like. Anyway, every morning he would take us on a walk, and
he would have us sing this song [Udilo Aruna].
In fact I was leading the song. And the first time, when it was
finished, we all sat down sort of like this, and the sun was coming up
blood red, and Prabhupada explained this song, he talked about this
Udilo Aruna, so whenever I sing it or hear it, I always think of that
Prabhupada went, that’s all Prabhupada did. He would either sing or
talk or chant. I mean, Prabhupada didn’t do anything extraordinary. In
fact Prabhupada once said, “A pure devotee does not do anything
extraordinary, but all around him extraordinary things take place.” And
it’s a fact. Everywhere Prabhupada went things just fell into place.
People gave land, they gave money, they joined up, they invited him to
meet prestigious people. But Prabhupada himself never appeared to be in
a frantic whirl of how to … “I’ve gotta call this guy, I’ve got to do
this, do you have the keys?” or “Where is so-and-so?” That kind of
energy or atmosphere didn’t exist around Prabhupada. We would think
that a person who is managing a world-wide movement and publishing
books and building temples and guesthouses would be very busy, would be
always frantic or anxious, but no, Prabhupada was not like that.
Whenever and wherever he was, it seemed like he had all the time in the
world for anyone who came to see him. That was the most amazing
this song … and when the sun appears in the East … Prabhupada pointed
out that when the sun is that color, that particular red color, so this
song kind of refers to that: “When the eastern horizon becomes tinged
with the redness (I think “aruna” refers to that color, but I’m not
sure) with the redness that heralds the rising of the sun, the jewel
among the brahmanas, Lord Gaurasundar, immediately awakened,
and taking his devotees with him, he journeyed through the towns and
villages of Nadia. The mrdangas sounded with “tathai tathai”
and the “janjera” (the large metal karatals that look
like cymbals) in the kirtan played in time. Lord Gauranga’s
golden form slightly trembled in ecstatic love of Godhead, and His
footbells jingled. Lord Chaitanya called out to the townsfolk, “You
spend your nights uselessly sleeping and your days decorating your
bodies. Now just fill your mouths with the holy names, ‘Mukunda’,
‘Madhava’, ‘Yadava’, and ‘Hari’, chanting without offence. You have
achieved this rare human body. Don’t you care for this gift? If you do
not worship the darling of Mother Yashoda, then great sorrow awaits you
at the time of death. With every rising and setting of the sun, a day
passes, and is lost. Why then do you remain idle and not serve the Lord
of the heart? You should understand this essential fact. Life is
temporary and filled with various kinds of miseries. Therefore take
shelter of the holy name and remain always engaged in His service as
your eternal occupation.” Desiring to bless all living entities, this
sweet name of Krishna has descended to this material universe, and
shines like the sun in the sky of the heart, destroying the darkness of
ignorance. Drink the pure nectar of the holy name of Krishna, and thus
satisfy the soul of Thakur Bhaktivinoda. There is nothing except the
holy name within all the fourteen worlds. Lord Gauranga calls, “Wake
up, sleeping souls! Wake up!” That’s the second part. I didn’t know
that this Jiva Jago is the second part. Jiva jago, jiva jago,
gaurachanda bole, kota nidra jao maya pisachira kole: “Lord
Gauranga calls, ‘Wake up, sleeping souls. Wake up, sleeping souls. You
have slept so long in the lap of the witch Maya. You came into this
world saying, ‘O my Lord, I will certainly worship You,’ but having
forgotten this promise, you have remained in great ignorance. I have
descended just to save you. Other than Myself, who else is your friend?
I have brought the medicine for destroying the illusion of Maya. Now
pray with this harinama maha-mantra and take it.’ Thakur Bhaktivinoda
fell at the lotus feet of Lord Gauranga, and after begging for the holy
name, he received that mantra.”
this one thing, chanting Hare Krishna, this one simple thing is the
most effective way to become Krishna conscious. Just by chanting Hare
Not only do the nondevotees think this is just an exaggeration, some
kind of religious, fanatic exaggeration and that it couldn’t possibly
be what the soul or what the shastras proclaim. It says that a
person is unable to commit … he cannot commit sinful activities to the
quantity that one time of chanting the holy name is able to neutralize.
It’s so powerful. And then there are so many stories, especially the
story of Ajamila. He was in his youth a nice, pure brahmana
boy, but he fell down because he accidentally came across a shudra
couple sexually embracing in the forest, and this so agitated his mind
and heart that he gradually, eventually connected with that shudrani
and gave up his real wife, and lived with her and produced many
children, and became very degraded in different ways. He became a
thief, a gambler and a drunkard, and I think it says he even became a
murderer, but in the last moments of his life, in desperation, when he
was dying, out of fear and affection, he was calling his son, whose
name was Narayana. And the Bhagavatam explains that this
inadvertent or unintentional calling or vibrating the name of Krishna
or Narayana was the cause of his being completely purified, and the
messengers of Vishnu came there and delivered him. The point is it’s
not an exaggeration. It is factual. But because we are ourselves
contaminated, we find it unbelievable.
in the material world we have similar examples of potency being
represented by something apparently worthless or trivial. I always give
the example of some shiny copper pennies. If you offer a child a
handful of some shiny pennies, he’ll be very glad, excited. But if I
offer him a cashier’s cheque for a million dollars, he won’t be
excited, because he thinks it’s just a piece of paper. But an
experienced person knows the difference between a handful of pennies
and a cashier’s cheque. It is one million dollars, but we have to know
how to negotiate the cheque to realize the actual value. The point is,
even in the material world, a piece of paper which is apparently
worthless … In fact, it is worthless until the signature is properly
fixed to it. Unless the authorized signature is there, it will not be
honored, and you cannot cash it. But as soon as the signature is there,
then it’s worth one million dollars. So as soon as we receive the name
of Krishna from the authorized agent—like receiving the cheque from the
authorized agent—as soon as we receive the name of Krishna from the
authorized agent, the self-realized soul, the spiritual master in
disciplic succession, and we chant it, as soon as that takes place, we
are connected to Krishna. It is a question of time only to realize what
that means, to realize the substance of that spiritual connection. Just
like it’s a question of time for a child to understand the difference
between the penny and the cashier’s cheque. But if he submits and
receives proper training and guidance, then he can understand.
inquiry, submission and service. The devotional process depends on
these three things. Inquiry, submission and service. We have to be
inquisitive, submissive, and we have to be prepared to do the service.
And the service is very simple. Prabhupada, at the time of initiation,
he always said, “Follow these four principles, and chant Hare Krishna
and be happy.” That’s all he said. Always. Everybody who was initiated,
that was his order. So it’s not like we have to do something very
difficult or dangerous. We have to chant Hare Krishna with
determination and faith and attention. We have to chant and hear the
sound. And in due course, everything will unfold and be revealed. Hare
You said that as soon as you receive that connection … Now people are
saying they’re already chanting, so … initiation is also receiving the
connection through the sound, right?
Yes. That’s what initiation really is: to hear. Aural, submissive
reception. To hear. Like when a student goes to school, he can’t read
and he can’t write. He has to hear. How does he have to hear? He has to
be submissive. He can’t be mischievous. He has to be submissive. He has
to go to school. You follow? So school is not just anywhere. He has to
go to the authorized place where the teacher is stationed and is
authorized to teach. That “authorized” means sampradaya. Sampradaya
means school. It means the school through which or line through which
the teachings are disseminated or broadcast. And who is that teacher?
The answer is Srila Prabhupada.
is the answer Srila Prabhupada? Is it because we are fanatic followers
of Prabhupada? No, because he is the person who has represented the
entire Vedic wisdom in a format that the whole world is able to embrace
and practice, in every language, in every country and community. We
find that whatever people know of Krishna, it has come from Prabhupada.
Acharya means he sweeps aside all other pretentious
or unauthorized teachers and teachings, and he presents the same thing
which was presented originally by Krishna, Lord Chaitanya and previous acharyas.
That’s what it means. And what is the evidence? The evidence is there
in the books. That’s the evidence. And for the years that he was here,
there was only Prabhupada. There was nobody else. Was there anyone
else? Was there anyone else? Was there any Narayana, or Sridhar?
No. Now that he is gone, everyone will say, “Oh, he was my good
friend,” and so forth and so on, but when he was here, no one was his
friend. He just had some ragtag disciples, and they somehow or other,
by his guidance, they were engaged to expand his teachings, his energy
by publishing, translating, publishing, distributing books, collecting
money and opening centers. Now that he is gone, everyone is saying …
right? Just like in the computer world there are Steven Jobs and Bill
Gates. They are the pioneers of this whole laptop computer. Before
that, a computer was huge building, like the Pentagon. It was only
available to government agents or big corporations. Now everyone can
take it and carry it in his arms, the laptop. So Prabhupada has taken
the whole Vedic lore, the whole Vedic wisdom, the whole Vedic culture
and condensed it into the laptop of his books. That’s what it is. So
even the most ordinary person, even your sweeping lady is chanting Hare
Krishna. She doesn’t know any philosophy. She’s just [singing] “Hare
Krishna, Hare Krishna.” So she’s got the million-dollar cashier’s
cheque. And one day she’ll realize, “What is this? It’s not just
something sentimental; it’s a precious, spiritual gift.”
You say by aural reception. But now that he’s not physically here, how
do you receive…
Not all… when he was here, we received. You can hear the tapes, read
the books. This [holding up the Bhagavatam] is also
aural. Prabhupada said this is recorded sound. Books are sound that is
recorded. Say you get a CD, there’s sound in it. But I don’t hear any
sound. If you put a CD to your ear, you’re not going to hear anything.
You need the proper system, then the sound comes. So the sound … what
are these books? They are the sound representation of Prabhupada. Sound
frozen. Sometimes Prabhupada would say, “Books are sound frozen in
type” or in script.
This is a mystery.
is mysterious, actually. Even the children go to school. They can’t
read, and they can’t write. So how do they come to reading and writing?
By hearing. By hearing, and the teacher demonstrates—“A, this is A.”.
It’s a very long, systematic, scientific and laborious process. But
there’s no other way. Is there? No. Or music. Reading music. Right?
There’s some system, and you have to follow it. Whatever the teacher
says, you have to follow it.
Spiritual life means there’s a science, there’s a system, there’s
authority. It’s not left up to our experimenting. There’s a system, a
science, and there’s authority. The word “authority” comes from the
word “author”, and the word “author” comes from “origin”. In everything
we want to find the origin. “Is it an original Rembrandt?” “Is this an
original so-and-so?” Origin=authority. Authority means it comes from
Krishna. So Krishna says, “I originally spoke this same thing to
Vivasvan, the sun god, and he spoke it to Manu, and Manu spoke it to
Iksvaku, and in this way it came and was broken, so I’m again
presenting it.” Prabhupada means he is presenting the thing which was
broken or lost or diluted or polluted or adulterated. Re-presenting it.
And now he’s not here, again there’s so much adulteration and pollution
I always understood that Sukadeva Gosvami spoke the Bhagavatam,
and Suta Gosvami heard, and by his realization was repeating what he
heard, and the sages with rapt attention heard what he spoke. And
Prabhupada says that the only way to receive this is through the ear
holes. The books are not through ear holes, but through reading.
So what’s the question? What is the question?
Aural reception is through the ear holes rather than through reading.
No. Reading is also hearing. Sound is … there are different levels of
sound. There’s the sound when we hear, and there’s the sound when we
read. There’s a sound. Like when you think, there’s a vibration. That
vibration is subtle sound. There are 3 or 4 levels… where the sound and
the thing are different, where the sound and the thing are almost the
same, and where the sound and the thing are identical, where there’s no
difference between the sound and the thing. So when we read, although
we don’t hear anything, there is sound. Thinking, there is also on the
level of sound, Thinking.
Since everything originates from sound…
Thinking. Yes, but before sound there is mind, intellect and ego, and
above that there is the soul. The first perceptible element is sound.
That is tangible. But before that sound there is mind. Man mana
mad bhavo mad bhakto: “Always think of Me.” The mind… thought
precedes sound. And at the same time, sound also affects our mind. So
Prabhupada explains that by sound we can go up or we can go down. It
depends on the quality of the sound. If the sound is transcendental, we
go up. If the sound is mundane, we go down. Whatever the source of the
sound is, that determines the direction we go.
At this time there are groups of people who say that when you read the
books you are initiated. There are some who say…
No, we have to see what Prabhupada says. We’re not concerned with what
the groups of people say. We’re concerned with only one person:
Prabhupada, and Krishna. We’re not concerned what groups of people say.
There’s a saying: “A million Frenchmen can’t be wrong.” But they are
wrong. Millions of people have always been wrong. They always make the
wrong choice. Millions of Indians are just languishing or loitering
without taking advantage of the most precious thing that their culture
has to offer, which is Krishna, Krishna consciousness, Krishna’s words,
the sound of Krishna. They have neglected it for the sound of America
or the sound of sense gratification.
sound … That’s why the music business is so big, By sound people are
being drawn into a particular mode of nature. The sound of some
musician captivates their mind and their heart and pulls them into a
particular mode. And so depending on where we submit or where we allow
ourselves to go or what we allow ourselves to hear, we go there. That’s
where we go. And that also is the principle of kirtan. When we
sing the kirtan, the person who is leading the kirtan,
wherever his heart is or whatever the current or the quality of his
heart is, that’s where the participants go. That’s why we want to hear
or be led by the pure devotee. Hearing from the pure devotee.
In Prabhupada’s lecture he was saying the first creation was the sound,
and sound which was spiritual, the first sound was Om.
Yes. What is the question? [pause] What is the question?
Ray: No question. I want to hear.
Did you read the whole purport?
Prabhupada give the lecture.
So you read the purport, and then you’ll get the answer about Om.
Om is the impersonal sound representation of the
Supreme. Impersonal. For those who are impersonal, they are very
attracted to the Om sound. And that’s … that’s okay.
First creation is sound, spiritual sound.
First creation means the first materially tangible element is sound.
But it doesn’t mean that there isn’t … there is also mind, intelligence
and ego. If you read that portion of the Bhagavatam, it
explains how from the spiritual platform, false ego develops, then ego
and intelligence develops, from intelligence then mind develops, from
mind ether develops, from ether air, all the way to earth. And each one
has a subtle quality. The quality of ether is sound. Sound. Ether.
Radio waves travel through the ether. Prabhupada explains in the Bhagavatam
that the modern science of radio and TV transmission depends on this
Then how Prabhupada says that sound can be spiritual?
It depends on the point of origin. If the sound, if the origin of the
sound is spiritual, then the sound is spiritual. If the point of origin
is a person who is in the material consciousness, thinking “I’m this
body,” then that sound is material. But the sound appears the same.
Just like the million dollar cheque appears to be a piece of paper.
It’s a piece of paper with ink. So if someone says, “Oh, it’s just
paper and ink.” Yes, it’s paper and ink. But if it is processed
according to the proper bank procedure, if it is processed according to
the proper procedure, that piece of paper is a million dollars. Right?
In fact, Prabhupada said that there’s nothing that is material.
Everything is spiritual, because everything begins with Krishna. But
our perception is material or spiritual, according to our
consciousness. So it is a question of perception by us. Just like the
child thinks it is a piece of paper, and he would prefer to have the
pile of shiny pennies. But Bhima will prefer to have the paper and
leave the shiny pennies. Yes or no? Right. So it’s a question of
Spiritual life or devotional service or sadhana bhakti means
to be trained to understand what is matter and what is spirit, starting
with myself. Am I matter or am I spirit? Am I this body or am I
something else? This is a training. It is education to distinguish
between matter and spirit.
Kirtan songs to be sung at dawn(from
udilo aruna puraba-bhage,
dwija-mani gora amani jage,
bhakata-samuha loiya sathe,
When the rising sun appeared in the East, the jewel of the twice-born,
Lord Gaurasundara, awakened, and taking His devotees with Him, He went
all over the countryside towns and villages—
'tathai tathai bajalo khol,
ghana ghana tahe jhajera rol,
preme dhala dhala sonara anga,
charane nupura baje
—and played the mridanga, and the cymbals chimed in time. Lord
Gauranga's shimmering golden features danced, and His footbells jingled.
mukunda madhava yadava hari,
bolena bolo re vadana bhori',
miche nida-bashe gelo re rati,
All the devotees chanted the names "Mukunda", "Madhava", "Yadava" and
"Hari", their mouths being filled with the vibrations. They would
announce to the still sleeping people, "You spend your nights uselessly
sleeping and your days decorating your bodies!
emana durlabha manava-deho,
paiya ki koro bhava na keho,
ebe na bhajile yashoda-suta,
charame poribe laje
You have achieved such a rare human body, but you do not care for this
gift. You remain not serving the darling of Yashoda and slowly fall
through your last moments to death.
udita tapana hoile asta,
dina gelo boli' hoibe byasta,
tabe keno ebe alasa hoy,
na bhaja hridoya-raje
With every rising and setting of the sun, a day passes and is lost.
Then, why do you remain idle and not serve the Lord of the heart?
jivana anitya janaha sar,
tahe nana-vidha vipada-bhar,
namashraya kori' jatane tumi,
thakaha apana kaje
This temporary life is full of various miseries. Take shelter of the
holy name as your only business.
jagate asi' e madhura nam,
To penetrate the darkness of ignorance and bless everyone's heart, the
holy name has risen like the shining sun.
krishna-nama-sudha koriya pan,
nama bina kichu nahiko aro,
Drink the pure nectar of the holy name. There is nothing but the name
to be had in the fourteen worlds. It has filled the soul of Sri
Bhaktivinode Thakur. [Back