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The Greatest Barrier to Spiritual Life

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Founder-Acharya of the world-wide Hare Krishna Movement, Brahma Sampradaya Acharya

Srila Prabhupada

Lecture on Bhagavad-gita 1.28-29, London, July 22, 1973

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So long this conception of life will exist, that, 'I am this body, and anyone who is related with this body, they are my own men, kinsmen, relatives...' This conception of life is the greatest barrier for advancing in spiritual consciousness.

arjuna uvacha
dristvemam svajanam krishna
yuyutsum samupasthitam
sidanti mama gatrani
mukham cha parisusyati

vepathus cha sarire me
roma-harsas cha jayate
gandivam sramsate hastat
tvak chaiva paridahyate

Translation: "Arjuna said: My dear Krishna, seeing my friends and relatives present before me in such a fighting spirit, I feel the limbs of my body quivering and my mouth drying up. My whole body is trembling, and my hair is standing on end. My bow Gandiva is slipping from my hand, and my skin is burning."

Prabhupada: So dristva imam svajanam. Arjuna is a great warrior, fighter, and for a kshatriya to kill one is not very difficult task. The kshatriyas are trained up. Hunting. Hunting is allowed for the ksatriyas. Just like medical practitioners, they are trained up how to practice surgical operation on dead body. It is not possible to, of course, for a gentleman, to push knife in someone's body. It is naturally very difficult thing. Rogues and thieves, they can stab. So as the doctors, medical men, surgeons are trained up to operate their knife on the dead body to see where are the nerves, similarly, kshatriyas are also allowed for being trained how to kill. Kshatriya means... Kshat. Kshat means injury. And tra means trayate, saves. A kshatriya has to save the citizens from being injured by others. He is called kshatriya. Brahmana means one who knows brahma, the supreme. So brahmana, kshatriya, vaishya, shudra. These divisions are there according to quality. Guna-karma-vibhagasah. By guna. Guna means quality. And karma means actual operation of the guna.

So Arjuna was a kshatriya, trained up by Dronacharya how to kill. This is the... Nonviolence is not the business of the kshatriya. That is cowardice. They are taught how to become violent. Otherwise, they cannot rule over. Formerly the judgement was given by the king, immediately finished. Not go to the court and wait for the judgement for ten years. In the meantime everything is finished. Not like that. Anything, there was regularly, the king used to sit in his assembly, and all the criminals, culprits, they were judged by the king himself. Sometimes the king had to kill personally with the sword. Even in European countries, the royal orders were trained up. Nowadays it is constitutional, democratic government. The king has no power. But this is not good for the people. The democracy is a farce. At least, I do not like it. Because so many rascals, simply by getting votes, go to the government, and what do they know how to rule over? Therefore, at the present moment, all over the world there is no good government. There is no good government. The America was considered to have very good government. Now we can see the behavior of Mr. Nixon. It is not possible. Formerly the kshatriyas, they were trained up how to govern. They were trained up by military men, just like Dronacharya trained Arjuna, Duryodhana. All the royal princes were trained up how to kill. Not only killing, also, according to shastra, how to rule over. The king's business is to see that everyone in the country, they are properly employed and engaged in his own business. That is king's business. There was no question of unemployment. This is government's first business. Because if a person is unemployed, then the devil's workshop. Devil's, work... If he hasn't got to do anything... That is being done now. Rich man's son, he hasn't got to do anything, so his brain is devil's workshop. They are manufacturing so many "isms." But everyone should be engaged. This is government's first business to see. A brahmana is engaged as a brahmana, a kshatriya is engaged as kshatriya.

So Arjuna was not a coward. He was a competent warrior. But still, dehatma-buddhi, the bodily concept of life is so strong... That Arjuna admits, dristva tu svajanam krishna: "My dear Krishna, I have to kill my own men." What is that "own men"? "Own men" means this bodily relationship. Why others are not own men? Everyone is own men. Because everyone is Krishna's son. So when one becomes Krishna conscious, he can see everyone own men. And when he is not Krishna conscious, he simply sees own men where there is bodily relationship. This is the defect. They are advertising, humanitarian work, philanthropic work, communism, this "ism," but when there is question of bodily relationship, immediately everything is changed. You know, the Communist country, the Khruschev was driven out because he was patronizing his own men. That was the defect. So you can advertise that "I am for everyone," but there is affection for own men. Nepotism. Nepotism. It's called nepotism. So many big, big leaders. Our Jawaharhal Nehru, he was sending his own men as ambassador. Vijaya Lakshmi, a woman, she was being sent as ambassador. She was high commissioner here. So this "own men" question is very prominent everywhere.

So Arjuna is a great warrior. He could fight all the soldiers, all the fighting men, yuyutsu. The other party, they were also, they were assembled, yuyutsu, with fighting spirit. Other men, even they are not fighting spirit, we can kill very easily. But own men, although they are fighting spirit, still he hesitates. Because own men. So this "own-menship," in relationship with the body, is the barrier for spiritual understanding. So long this conception of life will exist, that "I am this body, and anyone who is related with this body, they are my own men, kinsmen, relatives..." This conception of life is the greatest barrier for advancing in spiritual consciousness. Therefore the Vedic civilization is so planned that one has to give up this rascal "own men" conception. That is the vairagya. It is called vairagya. Jnana-vairagya. Two things required in human life: knowledge and vairagya, detachment. The attachment increases. First of all, it increases. Pumsah striya mithuni-bhavam etam. This whole world is based on sex life. A man has got attraction for woman; a woman has got attraction for man. This is nature's bondage. Shackle. And when they are actually united, either by the father, mother, or by their own way, that shackle, that attraction, increases. Pumsah striya mithuni-bhavam etam tayor mitho hrdaya-granthim ahuh. Hrdaya-granthim. Knot in the heart. "She is my wife." "He is my husband." Of course, now that knot is very slack. Formerly it was very strong because the woman was not allowed to mix with any other man, and the man was also not allowed with any other woman. This intermingling has slackened even that knot, hrdaya-granthim. Therefore, even trifle cases, quarrel between husband and wife, there is divorce. Because that unity is not very strong now. That is good. Some way or other, it is slackened. So this "own-menship" comes from bodily concept of life.

So Arjuna is preparing the ground, how to receive the instruction of Bhagavad-gita. Because spiritual instruction will begin to separate the soul from the body. Unless one understands that there is a soul different from this body, there is no spiritual education. This is the basic principle. If you do not understand what is soul, what is spirit soul, then where is spiritual education? So Arjuna was affected. He says frankly, dristva tu svajanam krishna yuyutsum samupasthitam: "What is this? I have to kill my own men." Svajanam. Svajanam means own men. "No, no." Sidanti mama gatrani: "Oh, I am shivering." Mukham ca parisusyati: "My mouth is being dried up." We have got this experience. When there is danger, these things happen, so many symptoms.

vepathus ca sarire me
roma-harsas ca jayate
gandivam sramsate hastat
tvak caiva paridahyate

As these things, these symptoms, different transformations of bodily constitution, appear in times of danger, similarly such symptoms appear in times of spiritual bliss. That is called asta-sattvika-vikara, eight kinds of transformation of the body. So there is so many reserve energies within our body. They become manifest in due course of time when the mind and intelligence work in different ways. This is the study, how things appear. It is appearing from intelligence, mind. The soul is there and the intelligence and mind creating the situation of the bodily symptoms. Therefore body or the senses are not all. The modern education, they think this body is everything. No. Real study is body means the senses. Indriyani parany ahuh. On gross vision we see this body. Indriyani parany ahur indriyebhyah param manah. But the bodily symptoms are acting because the mind is there. And mind is working because the intelligence is there. And the intelligence is working because the soul is there.

So this is the process. The basic principle is the soul. The soul is acting through intelligence, and the intelligence is acting through mind, and the mind is expressed through the senses. This is the position. So as my mind is absorbed in something, some subject matter, my bodily symptoms also will work, or the senses will work according to that mind. Therefore for spiritual advancement also, you have to train your mind. Sa vai manah krishna-padaravindayor vachamsi vaikuntha-gunanuvarnane. If you use... First of all fix up your mind. Yoga means indriya-samyama. Yoga practice means that controlling the mind and the senses. That is yoga practice. Because our mind is very flickering and changing, something accepting immediately, something rejecting immediately, very flickering. Therefore we have to train up the mind, and when the mind is trained up, then automatically your senses will be controlled. If you are strong-minded, that "I will not accept any foodstuff which is not offered to Krishna," naturally your tongue is controlled. Naturally. Bhaktivinoda Thakura has sung, sarira avidya-jal jadendriya tahe kal jive phele visaya-sagare. Our this body is a network of nescience, or ignorance. This body, why we have got this body, material body? Because we have forgotten Krishna and we wanted to lord it over the material nature. This is our position. Therefore, according to our different desires, we have got different bodies. Here we are sitting, say fifty or hundred men. Nobody's body will tally with other's body. Face and everything, different. Because every one of us has got different desires. Therefore their facial expression, bodily construction, everything is made according to the mind. So at the time of death also, the constitution of mind will transfer me to another, different type of body. The mind will carry the soul. These are all explained in the Bhagavad-gita. Yam yam vapi smaran bhavam tyajaty ante kalevaram. So if you train up your mind, that is Krishna consciousness. Always remembering Krishna. Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare. Then it may be possible that at the time of death you remember Krishna and your life is successful. Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti kaunteya. Immediately you are transferred to Krishnaloka. This is training.

So we have to think of Krishna always, twenty-four hours. Kirtaniyah sada harih. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has recommended. Taror api sahisnuna.

trinad api sunichena
taror api sahisnuna
amanina manadena
kirtaniyah sada harih

Because our aim is... If we are serious of being transferred to the loka, to the place, where Krishna is, then we have to train up the mind so nicely that at the time of death I can remember Krishna. Therefore one great king, Kulashekhara, he is praying to Krishna, krishna tvadiya pada-pankaja... What is that verse? Tvadiya, krishna tvadiya pada-pankaja. I am just forgetting. The idea is, Kulashekhara, King Kulashekhara is praying to Krishna, adyaiva visatu me manasa-raja-hamsah. Adyaiva. Prana-prayana-samaye kapha-vata-pittaih smaranam kutas te. He is praying, "Krishna, I am now in good health. So kindly award me death immediately." Adyaiva. "Immediately, so that my mind, who is just like a swan, he can take pleasure by entering into stem of Your lotus flower feet." Krishna's feet is always compared with lotus flower, and the lotus flower has got a stem. And the swans, they take pleasure being entangled with that stem. They go and dive into the water. This is their very good sporting. So he is taking that sporting, he is comparing his mind as theraja-hamsa. "So as the raja-hamsa takes pleasure by entangling him in the stem of the lotus flower, similarly Your lotus feet, there is a stem. So my mind, which may be compared with raja-hamsa, let it be entangled now, immediately. Otherwise I do not know." Prana-prayana-samaye kapha-vata-pittaih. "When everything bodily function will be mixed up, kapha-vata-pittaih, 'ghan ghan,' there will be some sound, how I will be able to remembering your lotus feet? So let me die immediately, immediately. Now I am quite fit. Otherwise I may not be able." This is the point. The mind should be kept in healthy condition. Samjna. Therefore one who dies with full sense remembering Krishna, oh, he is successful. In Bengali it is said, bhajana kara sadhana kara murti yanre haya. You may be very great devotee. That's all right. But it will be tested at the time of your death, how you remember Krishna. That will be the test examination. At the time of death, if we forget, if we become parrotlike... Just like parrot, he chants also, "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna." But when the cat catches the neck, "Kanh! Kanh! Kanh!" No more Krishna. No more Krishna. So artificial practice will not help us. Then "Khan, khan." That kapha-pitta-vataih, kanthavarodhana-vidhau smaranam kutas te.

So from the beginning we have to practice Krishna consciousness if we are actually serious to go back to home, back to Godhead. Not that let it be left for two or three years before death. Oh, it is not so easy. It is not so easy. Prahlada Maharaja recommends therefore,

kaumara acharet prajno
dharman bhagavatan iha
durlabham manusam janma
tad apy adhruvam arthadam

He was five years old, Krishna conscious, from the womb of his mother. He heard instruction of Narada. Narada was instructing his mother. He was in the womb. Fortunately, by God's grace, he heard all the instruction of Narada when he was in the womb of his mother. And the result was, from the beginning of his life, he is Krishna conscious. From the beginning. As soon as he took birth, he was Krishna conscious. So he was advising his class friends, preaching. Just see. He was five-years-old boy, but he was taking the opportunity of preaching. Because the teacher... He is born of demon family. So all those class friends, they were also sons of demons. So there is no question of Krishna consciousness. But he learned Krishna consciousness from the womb of his mother.

So he was trying to preach. Because he was king's son, there was no other opportunity for preaching, and he was a five-years-old boy. He took the opportunity in the classroom, as soon as the teacher is away, he would preach. He would preach. This is preaching spirit. As soon as you get some opportunity, preach. What is that preach? Preaching, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has advised us, yare dekha tare kaha krishna-upadesha. This is preaching. "Whoever you meet, simply speak of the instruction of Krishna." So if you are advanced, if you know what is the instruction of Krishna by reading Bhagavad-gita, you can preach to others. And if you have not read anything, suppose you do not know anything, then you can also preach. What is that? "Just become a devotee of Krishna, my dear sir." That's all. This is also preaching. "Just surrender to Krishna." You go door to door. If you cannot do anything, simply say, "My dear sir, you are very good man. Oh, you are very intelligent man. Chant Hare Krishna." Sakalam eva vihaya durat. This preaching was taught by Prabodhananda Sarasvati. Dante nidhaya trinakam padayor nipatya kaku-satam kritva cha aham bravimi. This is the preaching process. Dante nidhaya trinakam. According to Vedic civilization, if one wants to become very humble and approach another person, then he has to take one straw in the mouth. Trina. So the preaching process is to take a straw in the mouth, dante nidhaya trinakam padayor nipatya, and falling down on your feet, dante nidhaya trinakam padayor, kaku-satam kritva cha aham bravimi. And flattering you: "Sir, you are so great man, you are so intelligent man." This is flattering. Although he is fool number one, we have to flatter like that. "Oh, there is no greater man like you. You are so intelligent, you are so rich, you are so beautiful." So all these things. Just like the beggars. Sometimes: "You become king." And one thinks, "Oh, he is blessing me. All right, you take one paisa." So this flattering is also required. So kaku-satam kritva chaham bravimi. So the man may ask that "Why you are so humble and flattering? What is your intention? Tell me." So he is now telling. He sadhavah, "Oh, you are great sadhu." He sadhavah, sakalam eva vihaya durat: "You have learned so many nice things. I know that. But kick them out, please." Sakalam eva. "Whatever you have nonsense learned, rascaldom you have learned, please kick them out. This is my request." Sakalam eva vihaya durat chaitanya-chandra-charane kurutanuragam. "Just hear what Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says. This is my request." This is preaching. This is preaching. Flatter, fall down on his feet, and eulogize him as great sadhu, as great intelligent, great rich. Do so that he may little hear. And when he says, "What do you want?" "Now, [laughter] I want this, sir. Whatever rascaldom you have learned, please forget. Because I know you are rascal number one. [laughter] You have got so many hodge-podge thing in your brain. So you kick them out please." Sakalam eva vihaya durat. "Kick them, throw away, long distance. Don't look upon them." "Then what to do?" Chaitanya-chandra-charane kurutanuragam. "Please hear what Chaitanya-chandra says." Sri-krishna-chaitanya-daya karaha vichara, vichara karile chitte pabe chamatkara: "Just try to understand the mercy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and you will feel so sublime." Sri-krishna-chaitanya-daya karaha vichara. "Don't take it blindly. If you are intelligent, just make a judgment, what Chaitanya-chandra is." Tell him.

So this is preaching. This is preaching. So Arjuna has to be a preacher. Practical preacher. What is that preaching? That he has to sacrifice everything for Krishna's sake. That's all. This is preaching. Sakalam eva vihaya durat. Arjuna will be the greatest example, how he became Krishna conscious, in the last Tenth Chapter. He will say, sarvam etad ritam manye yad vadasi keshava: "My dear Krishna, Keshava, whatever you say, I accept in total." Without any interpretation, or "This is like this, this is like that, this is not very good." Aridha-kukkuti-nyaya. All rascals, they accept this Bhagavad-gita on the principle of aridha-kukkuti-nyaya. In the nyaya, in the logic. There is a logic, aridha-kukkuti-nyaya. What is that aridha-kukkuti-nyaya? Kukkuti means the hen. So hen gives one egg every day. So the man, proprietor of the hen, he is considering that "This hen is very good, giving every day one egg. But the, its mouth is expensive. It eats. So let me cut the mouth, simply take the egg." So there are rascals, they study Bhagavad-gita on this principle of aridha-kukkuti-nyaya. "Cut this, take this, cut this, take this." So if you cut the head, there will be no more egg. The rascal does not know. If you cut the head there will be no more production of egg. So similarly, if you try to study Bhagavad-gita according to your whims, cut this and take this, that is not study of Bhagavad-gita. That is something else. That is something else. That is something else.

Therefore we have to take from Arjuna how he accepted Bhagavad-gita. He said, sarvam etad ritam manye: "Krishna, You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Whatever You are speaking, whatever You have spoken, I take them as it is." This is study of Bhagavad-gita. So the hindrance is this svajanam. Now he is presenting. He is presenting himself as fool number one, although he is not so. But he is creating the ground for Krishna's speaking on Bhagavad-gita. This is the principle. Therefore he is not at all affected by the svajanam, but he is presenting, "This is my problem, that I have to kill..." Dristva imam svajanam krishna. "By seeing my own kinsmen, because I am fool number one..." Yasyatma-buddhih kunape tridhatuke." I am calling them svajana. In sastra it is called svajanakhya-dasyu. Svajanakhya-dasyu. They are all thieves and rogues, but they are claiming as my kinsmen. Practically... Suppose in your pocket there is one hundred dollars. If some pickpocket takes it and if you capture him, then you give him immediately to the police. And when you come home after hard-earned money, and when your wife takes away, oh, you laugh, "Oh you have taken all my money! Ahhhhh!" But the same pickpocket, but the same pickpocket, but because he's svajana, svajanakhya-dasyu, "pickpocket in the name of svajana," he is very much pleased: "Oh, my wife has taken, my son has taken. Never mind." That's all. And others? As soon as takes, he, "Give him to the police." The same business is being done. He is working hard day and night, and they are plundering. Still, they are thinking, "They are my svajanam, they are my kinsmen." This is called illusion.

Thank you very much.

The Greatest Barrier to Spiritual Life/ WORLD SANKIRTAN PARTY
©2004 - Hansadutta das
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