The Hammer - 13
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The Hammer For Smashing Illusion

Shankaracharya's famous "Bhaja Govinda"

By Hansadutta das

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Text 13

What is the use of worrying about wife and wealth? O madman, does not the Lord who ordains all exist for you? In the three worlds, it is only the association of saintly persons which can serve as a boat to cross over the ocean of birth and death.

Death on a One-way Ticket

In connection with this verse, there is another important verse in Srimad-Bhagavatam:

Shukadeva Goswami said: "O twice-born sages, by serving those devotees who are completely freed from all ranges of vice, a standard of great service is done. As a result of such great service, affinity for the message of Vasudeva is made possible." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.16)

Purport by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

The conditioned life of a living being is caused by his revolting against the Lord. There are men called devas, or godly living beings, and there are men called asuras, or demons, who are against the authority of the Supreme Lord. In the Bhagavad-gita (Sixteenth Chapter) a vivid description of the asuras is given in which it is said that the asuras are put into lower and lower states of ignorance life after life and so sink to the lower animal forms, where they have no information of the Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead. These asuras are gradually rectified to God consciousness by the mercy of the Lord's liberated servitors in different countries, according to the supreme will. Such devotees of God are very confidential associates of the Lord, and when they come to save human society from the dangers of godlessness, they are known as the powerful incarnations of the Lord, as sons of the Lord, as servants of the Lord or as associates of the Lord. But none of them falsely claim to be God themselves. This is a blasphemy declared by the asuras, and the demoniac followers of such asuras also accept pretenders as God or His incarnation. In the revealed scriptures there is definite information of the incarnation of God. No one should be accepted as God or an incarnation of God unless he is confirmed by the revealed scriptures.

Learn to Distinguish What is Important and What is Not

This verse stresses the importance of associating with devotees of the Lord and points out the uselessness of worrying about life and wealth. Everyone in the material existence is anxious to improve his material enjoyment, which comes through increasing his wealth and, of course, maintaining his wife and children, relatives, and friends. But all these anxieties are due to ignorance, because a living being is actually spiritual by nature. He has nothing to do with the material world, which is just a temporary phase of his eternal existence. Just as when a sleeping man forgets himself and becomes anxious about his dreams, but then awakens, and forgets everything about dreams and goes about doing his real work, similarly, every living entity is eternal by nature, and his temporary life with wife, children, friends, and countrymen, his prestige, and wealth, is all just illusion. When he comes in touch with a devotee of the Lord, he wakes up to his real business and gives up his temporary engagement in material life.

Receiving a Spiritual Wake-up Call

This is effected by the association of sadhus, or saintly people. Krishna consciousness is not a mechanical, mental or intellectual engagement, but the eternal life of every living being. Krishna consciousness is awakened when one comes in touch with a representative of Krishna. It does not depend on intellectual knowledge or material qualifications of any kind, but it depends completely on the mercy of the Lord, and the mercy of the Lord is received through the Lord's bona fide representative, the spiritual master.

The servants of God are to be respected as good as God by the devotees who actually want to go back to Godhead. Such servants of God are called mahatmas, tirthas, and they preach according to the particular time and place. The servants of God urge people to become devotees of the Lord. They never tolerate being called God. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was God Himself, according to the indication of the revealed scriptures, but He played the part of a devotee. People who knew Him to be God addressed Him as God, but He used to block His ears with His hands and chant the name of Lord Vishnu. He strongly protested against being called God, although undoubtedly He was God Himself. The Lord behaved thusly to warn us against unscrupulous men who take pleasure in being addressed as God.

The servants of God come to propagate God consciousness, and intelligent people should co-operate with them in every respect. By serving the servant of God, one can please God more than by directly serving the Lord. The Lord is more pleased when He sees that His servants are being properly respected, because such servants risk everything for the service of the Lord and so are very dear to the Lord.

The Lord declares in the Bhagavad-gita that no one is more dear to Him than one who risks everything to preach His glory. By serving the servants of the Lord, one gradually acquires the quality of such servants, and thus one becomes qualified to hear the glories of God. Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.16 states that eagerness to hear about God is the first qualification of a devotee eligible for entering into the kingdom of God.

A living being in his normal constitutional position is fully satisfied in spiritual bliss. This state of existence is called brahma-bhuta or atma-nandi, the state of self satisfaction. This self-satisfaction is not like the satisfaction of the inactive fool. The inactive fool is in the state of foolish ignorance, whereas the self-satisfied atma-nandi is transcendental to the material state of existence. This stage of perfection is attained as soon as one is fixed in irrevocable devotional service. Devotional service is not inactivity but the unalloyed activity of the soul.

Giving Service Where Service is Due

At the present moment everyone is engaged in material activity, trying to satisfy his senses and mind with various programs for exploiting material nature. Everyone wants to be wealthy, everyone wants to be famous, and everyone wants to enjoy sense gratification. But all of these programs are based on the bodily concept of life, which is illusory because the living being is not a product of the material world. The living being is an eternal servant of Krishna. Only the body is produced by material nature, but in ignorance we identify with this temporary material body, which may be Indian, American, German or Chinese. Actually, we have nothing to do with this body. The body is just covering the eternal soul. Our real position is to serve Vishnu. When we develop an affinity to hear about Vishnu, then we gradually come out of ignorance and develop devotional service.

Devotional service is the natural life of every living being. No one can be happy unless he learns how to serve Vishnu. In material life everyone is trying to get service from someone else, but in spiritual life everyone is trying to give service to Vishnu. This attitude actually makes the living entity happy. In contact with matter, the soul's activity becomes adulterated and exhibits lust, desire, hankering, inactivity, foolishness, and sleep. The effect of devotional service is complete elimination of the influence of passion and ignorance. The devotee is fixed at once in the mode of goodness, and he makes further progress, rising to the position of vasudeva or the state of unmixed sattva, or suddha-sattva (pure goodness). Only in this suddha-sattva state can one always see Krishna eye-to-eye by dint of pure affection for the Lord.

A devotee is always in the mode of unalloyed goodness, and therefore he harms no one; but the non-devotee, however educated he may be, is always causing harm. A devotee is neither foolish nor passionate. The harmful, foolish and passionate cannot be devotees of the Lord, however they may advertise themselves as devotees by outward dress. A devotee is always decorated with all the good qualities of God. Quantitatively such qualifications may be different, but qualitatively both the Lord and His devotee are one and the same. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.19 ).

In the material world, one may be highly qualified and respected, but such qualifications and respect are always harmful and frustrating, because ultimately everything material will pass away into oblivion. Although a devotee may be materially imperfect, he is always good and beneficial for everyone, because devotional service of the Lord is eternal and beneficial for everyone.

We have to learn the purpose of human life. Instead of becoming attracted to temporary material opulences, we should pursue our eternal nature, serving Vishnu under all circumstances. Nowadays, it is fashionable to be godless and atheistic, but such godlessness and atheism has not brought any happiness anywhere. It is better to be submissive, humble, God conscious and make progress out of the dark, materialistic existence, and go home, back to Godhead. This movement teaches people how to advance spiritually. In this way, human society can make an ultimate solution to the problems of birth, death, old age, and disease, which cannot be solved by any materialistic scientist, philosopher, or politician.

The simple formula for advancing in Krishna consciousness has been given to us by Lord Chaitanya: to chant the holy names of the Lord--Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare--and to follow the four regulative principles, giving up animal killing, or the eating of meat, fish and eggs, giving up taking intoxicants, giving up illicit sex life and giving up gambling. Avoiding these four things and practicing this simple process of chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra will bring us out of our present situation and into transcendental life. From there we will make more and more progress, according to our desire.

It is not something sentimental or cultish. It is scientific, authoritative, and it is going on now, practically, in the shape of the Hare Krishna movement. It does not matter whether one is a student, a scholar, a businessman, a worker or a housewife. Everyone is Krishna's part and parcel, or servant, and unless we come to this understanding and practice we actually cannot be happy by any material arrangements. We ask everyone to try to practice chanting Hare Krishna either at home, at work, on the street or wherever, and follow these four principles: no intoxication, no meat eating, no illicit sex, and no gambling. Hare Krishna.

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Hansadutta das
Rittvik Representative of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

©2004 - Hansadutta das
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