The Hammer - 26
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© 2004 - Hansadutta das

The Hammer For Smashing Illusion

Shankaracharya's famous "Bhaja Govinda"


By Hansadutta das
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Text 26

Having given up lust, anger, greed and delusion, one should ask himself: "Who am I?" Those who are devoid of knowledge of the self are the greatest fools, for they shall burn within the inner recesses of hell.

Lust, Anger, Greed--Don't Walk the Road to Hell!

In the Bhagavad-gita (3.36) Arjuna asks Krishna, "What is it that causes a man to commit sinful acts even though he is sometimes unwilling to do so, as if being forced to commit them?" Krishna immediately replied, "It is lust only, which covers a man's real knowledge and bewilders him." (Bhagavad-gita 3.37) Lust for material enjoyment brings about our entanglement in the material world. This lust is originally exhibited as our pure love for Krishna. When the living entity turns away from Krishna and acts independently, he becomes attracted at that time to sense gratification in the shape of wealth, women and prestige. These are the three attractions for the conditioned soul. However, the material atmosphere is always changing, as Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita (8.4) --"Material nature is endlessly mutable."--and therefore the living entity is never happy in this life, because the eternal soul cannot be satisfied by any temporary material object, however grand it may be. The prime example is the Western countries, where we find tremendous material wealth, comfort, enjoyment, big cities with skyscrapers, airplanes and nightclubs. There is so much facility for material enjoyment, yet no one is happy. Everyone is frustrated.

The Delusion of Thinking One's Self to be Supreme

A handful of the frustrated population in America and Europe are accepting the Krishna consciousness movement and trying to purify their existence and go back home, back to Godhead. Actually, conditioned life is a diseased condition of the soul. The disease of the conditioned soul is that he wants to lord it over material nature. He wants to usurp the position of the supreme living entity. Everyone is trying to become the greatest person in his field. That is called ahankara. Ahankara means false ego, or false identity. The conditioned soul ignores the Supreme Lord and then deludes himself into thinking that he is supreme. That is a natural reaction. If we ignore the supreme authority, then naturally the next conclusion is that "I am the supreme authority." Even in ordinary, daily activities, we find that the conditioned souls are so deluded that they think that by incorporating a democratic system of government they are actually in control, because it allows everyone to vote for the leader of his choice. People think that a government "of the people, by the people, for the people" will make them supreme, because "without our vote, the leader cannot assume office." This is a symptom of the diseased condition of the soul.

The Epitome of Illusion

Another symptom of this disease is manifested in the Mayavada philosophy. Followers of this philosophy--Mayavadis, as they are called--think that they are the Supreme, that they are God. That is the epitome of maya (illusion). Disease has to be cured. The only cure for the disease of lording it over material nature is to be trained in devotional service by a pure devotee of the Lord. Yoga and jñana cannot really give the conditioned soul freedom from material existence, from the bondage of birth and death, because in yoga and jñana devotion is absent. Without devotion, without bhakti, the living entity cannot approach God. Krishna tells Arjuna, "Only by undivided devotional service can I be seen as I am, standing before you. Thus you can enter into the mysteries of My understanding." (Bhagavad-gita 11.54) Not by penance or austerity, nor by knowledge--none of these can actually deliver us from our present entanglement. Only bhakti, or unconditional surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, can immediately take a person out of material existence.

Bhakti is our natural condition. Just as the waking condition of life is natural and the sleeping condition is temporary. Sleeping is not our natural state. Similarly, the exploiting mood is unnatural. It is a disease. The serving mood, or the devotional mood--that is natural. Devotion must be expressed in relation to the Supreme--not to the demigods, not to our country, not to our family, but to Vishnu.

One Master, One Engagement Only

Na te viduh svartha-gatim hi vishnum: "No one is aware that the aim of life is to satisfy Vishnu." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.31)

The living entity has only one master, and that is Vishnu. Therefore the living entity has only one engagement: to serve Vishnu. He has only one thing to know: Vishnu. If this consciousness is awakened, then life will become very simple and joyful. As long as we are in ignorance about our eternal relationship with Vishnu, we shall be always unhappy, just as a child separated from his mother is always unhappy. The living entity, devoid of devotional service to Krishna, is always unhappy.

Advancement of material science, medicine, technology and other fields of knowledge is actually only a diversion created by the conditioned soul averse to the service of Krishna. These fields actually have no utility in and of themselves, except that they keep us diverted from devotional life and entangled in the cycle of birth and death. Material advancement and spiritual advancement hardly complement one another. However, whatever exists at the present moment, in the shape of technological advancement or economic development, can be purified simply by using these technological and medical wonders to broadcast the message of Krishna. Everything can be dovetailed for devotional service to Krishna. That is the purpose and aim of this movement: to teach people how to dovetail their activities in Krishna consciousness.

Everything has some relation with Vishnu, because everything is an exhibition of His energy. Therefore Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita:

yat karoshi yad ashnasi
yaj juhoshi dadasi yat
Whatever one performs as work, whatever one eats or gives away in charity, or whatever one may perform as penance, that should be done as an offering unto Me, and by this principle of work you will be freed from all sinful reactions and come to Me. ( Bhagavad-gita 9.27-28)

Transforming Lust to Love

Simply by applying all our energy, words and intelligence to serve Vishnu, automatically our whole life is transformed. Consequently, the lust with which we are now burning also becomes transformed back into the original love of Krishna.

yesham tv anta-gatam papam
jananam punya-karmanam
When one becomes freed from the sinful reactions of this life and previous lives, then only can he engage himself in devotional service. (Bhagavad-gita 7.28)

The way to counteract the reactions of past sinful activities is to engage one's self in devotional service. In the Brahma-samhita it is also said that all the reactions to our sinful deeds are burned up by dovetailing our energy to satisfy Krishna. Another effect of devotional service is that one becomes immediately enlightened and becomes detached from material existence.

Causeless Knowledge and Detachment

vasudeve bhagavati
bhakti-yogah prayojitah
As soon as one renders devotional service to Krishna, then immediately from within Krishna gives to him causeless knowledge and detachment. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.7)

Krishna is within the heart of every living entity. Thus, according to Bhagavad-gita, knowledge, remembrance and forgetfulness all come from Krishna. We can know only as much as Krishna allows us to know. We are all under the supervision of superior authorities. We are all under the control of Krishna, either directly or indirectly. Material nature is also working under the direction of Krishna, and the living entity is, at the present moment, trapped in the material atmosphere, just as a man who has fallen into the ocean is at the mercy of the ocean. He cannot save himself. He may be a good swimmer, but ultimately, the ocean is so vast that if he tries to save himself, he will be overpowered and drown. Similarly, the material atmosphere is a kind of ocean which is tossing us up and down on the waves of time. Ultimately, every living entity is drowning in the ocean of birth and death. These elements are battering us, and our reaction is to try to swim and remain above the water line of old age, disease and death. But no one survives. Krishna says, "Material nature is very difficult to overcome, but one who has surrendered unto Me can very easily cross beyond it." (Bhagavad-gita 7.14) Surrendering to Krishna is just like getting lifted out of the ocean and put on dry land or being placed on a big ship crossing over the ocean. This movement for Krishna consciousness is just like a ship crossing the ocean of birth and death. We have been pulled aboard the big ship and are now engaged in devotional service to cross the ocean back home, back to Godhead. Without unconditional surrender there is no possibility of getting out of the material ocean.

The Aim is to Be Blissful

The yogis, the jñanis, the karmis are all swimming in this ocean of birth and death. Even the jñanis and yogis who go up to realise Brahman or Paramatma--unless they actually accept devotional service--again slide down for want of spiritual bliss in devotional life. They fall down again to get bliss in Material life. We must have some bliss. Ananda-maya 'bhyasat. We cannot be blissful simply remaining suspended in the Brahman effulgence (sat). We cannot be blissful simply by being situated in knowledge (cid). We must be engaged in bhakti, which immediately gives us sat, cid and ananda (bliss). That is the aim of every living entity: to be blissful, joyful.

The sum and substance of the Lord's position is ananda-maya 'bhyasat. He is always blissful. He has nothing to be unhappy about. He has nothing to work for. Therefore He is always blissful. As part and parcel of Krishna, we also hanker for that bliss. We get that bliss when we surrender and serve Krishna. As long as we do not accept bhakti-yoga, we will not enjoy a blissful life, and we will have to try to get some taste out of mundane activities, of which sex is the topmost material enjoyment.

Mundane Pleasure or Spiritual Bliss

Therefore we find that everyone, from Lord Brahma down to the ant, is after sex. One of the prerequisites for entering into spiritual life is that we have to give up mundane sex. Therefore we have four regulative principles--no illicit sex, no meat eating, no intoxication, no gambling. We have to give up the attempt at mundane pleasure; otherwise, we cannot reach genuine spiritual bliss. These principles are the beginning and basis of bhakti-yoga. Following some preliminary rules and regulations, some do's and don'ts will help us. Then gradually, we become purified ( anartha nivritti). We get some taste (ruchi). In this way, we go up, up and out of material life and into pure life of Krishna consciousness.

manmana bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yaji mam namaskuru
"Always think of Me and become My devotee." ( Bhagavad-gita 18.65) We are always thinking. We think of our wife, children, money, work, friends, cat and dog. Everyone is thinking incessantly. Even at night we think. Our thinking has to be purified-- manmana bhava mad-bhakto/mad-yaji mam namaskuru. Krishna says, "Always think of Me, become My devotee, bow down to Me, worship Me, give your love to Me. Surely you will come to Me." (Bhagavad-gita 9.34) We can practice thinking of Krishna when we serve Krishna. We may drive an automobile for Krishna. We may sell some books for Krishna. We may wash the pots for Krishna, cook for Krishna or sing for Krishna.

Everything, when executed for the satisfaction of Krishna, brings about Krishna consciousness. We become conscious of Krishna, because whenever one carries out some activity, he naturally thinks, "Why am I doing this?" In the course of any activity, we meet obstacles and then begin to re-evaluate our activity--"Is this worth doing? Why am I doing this?" Naturally, our mind will then always conclude, "Oh, I am doing this for Krishna, or for Krishna's representative, the spiritual master." In this way, we can mold our minds to think of Krishna, chant Hare Krishna, see the deity of Krishna and take the prasadam (spiritual food) of Krishna. Everything becomes Krishna. That is the process or treatment for the diseased living entity, to put himself in the hands of a pure devotee of Krishna and be engaged in the service of Krishna. Hare Krishna.

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Hansadutta das
Rittvik Representative of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Trustee, BHAKTIVEDANTA BOOK TRUST
WORLD SANKIRTAN PARTY


The Hammer - 26/ WORLD SANKIRTAN PARTY
©2004 - Hansadutta das
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