R eading from SB 1.8. 26
naivārhaty abhidhātuṁ vai
My Lord, Your Lordship can easily be approached, but only by those who are materially exhausted. One who is on the path of [material] progress, trying to improve himself with respectable parentage, great opulence, high education and bodily beauty, cannot approach You with sincere feeling.
Being materially advanced means taking birth in an aristocratic family and possessing great wealth, an education and attractive personal beauty. All materialistic men are mad after possessing all these material opulence, and this is known as the advancement of material civilization. But the result is that by possessing all these material assets one becomes artificially puffed up, intoxicated by such temporary possessions. Consequently, such materially puffed up persons are incapable of uttering the holy name of the Lord by addressing Him feelingly, “O Govinda, O Kṛṣṇa.” It is said in the śāstras that by once uttering the holy name of the Lord, the sinner gets rid of a quantity of sins that he is unable to commit. Such is the power of uttering the holy name of the Lord. There is not the least exaggeration in this statement. Actually the Lord’s holy name has such powerful potency. But there is a quality to such utterances also. It depends on the quality of feeling. A helpless man can feelingly utter the holy name of the Lord, whereas a man who utters the same holy name in great material satisfaction cannot be so sincere. A materially puffed up person may utter the holy name of the Lord occasionally, but he is incapable of uttering the name in quality. Therefore, the four principles of material advancement, namely (1) high parentage, (2) good wealth, (3) high education and (4) attractive beauty, are, so to speak, disqualifications for progress on the path of spiritual advancement. The material covering of the pure spirit soul is an external feature, as much as fever is an external feature of the unhealthy body. The general process is to decrease the degree of the fever and not to aggravate it by maltreatment. Sometimes it is seen that spiritually advanced persons become materially impoverished. This is no discouragement. On the other hand, such impoverishment is a good sign as much as the falling of temperature is a good sign. The principle of life should be to decrease the degree of material intoxication which leads one to be more and more illusioned about the aim of life. Grossly illusioned persons are quite unfit for entrance into the kingdom of God.
I was asked to select the verse which was relevant to the occasion which many devotees are taking part in, which is Kirtan Mela. Therefore I chose to speak on this very wonderful verse spoken by Queen Kunti. I thank the devotees for giving me the opportunity for rendering this service to all of you. I pray, with your blessings I can say something which is actually relevant especially in relationship to such a profound verse and commentary which is been given by Srila Prabhupada specifically about the holy name.
Srila Prabhupada brings out the important point in the commentary about this verse, that there are different ways to chant the name, he specifically states that, those who are aspiring to improve themselves materially, those who are materially satisfied cannot call out the names O Govinda, O Keshava, O Madhava in a helpless mood feelingly.
Therefore he makes distinction between chanting of the names which is executed or performed by those who are materially satisfied or trying to improve themselves materially, and those who have the quality, which is described by Queen Kunti in this verse, those who are materially exhausted, who no longer see any need to pursue such mundane pursuits. Therefore because they have no interest in this world they are feelingly calling out the name, Krishna, and that quality of feelingly chanting Krishna’s name of course is that which attracts the Supreme Lord by the qualities the devotees has in chanting.
First point of course which is important to take note of is, Prabhupada says that those who are intoxicated by wealth janma, aisvarya, suta, shri, intoxicated by these, are generally proud of their wealth. Therefore such proud persons also cannot call out the name feelingly.
There is a verse in 4th canto of Srimad Bhagavatam spoken by Shiva to Sati, where he describes although the six qualities of education, austerity, wealth, youth, beauty and heritage are highly elevated, but one who is proud of possessing such things loses all sense and the result is they become blind and cannot appreciate the qualities of great personalities. Lord Shiva was speaking this point to Sati trying to explain to her the good reason for not attending the Daksha yajna. He was trying to explain to her the result of those who are proud, puffed by six qualities like wealth, austerity, aristocracy, heritage, youth and beauty they lose all good sense they can’t really deeply appreciate the Lord and they cannot actually approach the Lord. They cannot approach the Lord feelingly which is the point Prabhpada is making in this purport.
This is one of the results of pride which arises from possession of these things. It doesn’t mean that sometimes when we read this verse a person thinks if I give away all these things or I don’t have these things then automatically I am spiritually qualified. Not like that, that is not the criteria and we are going to discuss some of these points if there is sufficient time.
There is another verse also in 4th canto of Srimad Bhagavatam spoken by Narada Muni, he says the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna is very dear to those devotees who have no material possessions and who are fully satisfied and possessing only one thing: devotional service to the Supreme Lord. Indeed the Lord relishes the activity of these devotees. He takes great pleasure in these activities. He gives his attention to these devotees who are hankering not for improving themselves with bodily beauty, respectful parentage. He actually relishes those devotees who are only interested to possess service, devotional service to Krishna. And then Narada Muni goes on to explain those who are puffed by their wealth, their aristocracy, by their beauty, they are generally proud of possessing such things and they often times deride genuine devotees of the Lord.
And then Narada Muni says something profound. He says even if such persons offer worship to the Lord, the Lord will never accept it. Not inclined, He is not inclined to accept their worship. Due to their pride they can’t appreciate these great personalities or they deride such devotees who manifest genuine humility, who genuinely cry out for Krishna’s name.
There are so many examples you can find in the shastra. It happened to Haridas Thakur when he manifested ecstatic symptoms by hearing Krishna’s name being chanted, and then one proud brahmana thought he would, when he saw all attention the people gave to Haridas Thakur, they were offering respects to him when he fell on the ground and he lost external consciousness. So the proud brahmana was thinking why is he getting so much attention and the result is he is thinking I will try to steal the attention away, he fell on the ground starting crying out Krishna!!!, Krishna!!! manifesting ecstatic symptoms (laughter..) and then the snakebite physician who is chanting the mantras immediately started beating him with the stick.( Laughter…) he ran away in complete fear and everybody asked him why did you do that?…He answered because he is proud.
Haridas Thakur when he saw what was happening woke up from external consciousness. He was feeling embarrassed it happened and tried to slip away and avoid any recognition for the manifestation of the symptoms. The proud brahmana could not recognise such quality therefore he was thinking, Oh! let me get some attention. And therefore the snakebite physician could understand and started beating him and he began to explain this to many people when they asked him why did you do this? Why is that Haridas Thakura fell down and then when this brahmin fell down, the elevated brahmin fell down and you beat him?
Then he began extolling virtues of Haridas Thakur and glorifying Haridas Thakur, his qualities were total humility, total dependence in excessive chanting of holy name of the God, crying out, not wanting to improve anything about his own material situation and even thinking himself unqualified. He wouldn’t even think about entering Jagannath temple and he would stay at the distance. He thought himself to be lowest of the lowest and that is what attracts the Lord.
If we want the Lord to manifest and to actually give attention to our chanting then these feelings , these feeling will actually make the Lord manifest in his names and enter into our hearts and purify us. The Lord will really come forward and lift us up and help us as he did for Haridas Thakur. When Haridas Thakur came to Jagannath Puri, all the devotees came to receive the Lord and Haridas Thakur was keeping a distance offering his obeisance. And Lord Chaitanya was looking where is Haridas? and then he said, Oh! There is Haridas at a distance thinking himself unqualified. Then what did He do? The Lord went over to Haridas Thakur, lifted him up and then embraced him.
This is what actually makes the Lord inclined to His devotees when he chants feelingly for the Lord, but a proud person can’t chant feelingly and can’t recognise those who do chant with feeling, those who do actually experience genuinely. And those do genuinely experience, they are not looking for any recognition they don’t even think they are Vaishnavas.
Bhaktivinoda Thakur explains that, if I think I’m a Vaisnava then what happens is I begin to look for respect from others and then my heart becomes completely polluted by desire for respect and fame and surely I will go to hell. He doesn’t even think he is a Vaisnava, he is not thinking that he is satisfied and nor is he thinking that I am advanced.
I was reading recently Prabhupada was saying in one lecture the mood of the devotee which was taught by Lord Caitanya, taught by six Goswamis was they were never thinking that I have seen Lord Krishna, I am experiencing Krishna. They were, he radhe vraja devike, ca lalite, they were always thinking I can’t find, where is Radha, where is Krishna, where are the devotees? I’m not qualified. Lord Chaitanya said this to himself and Prabhupada was saying in this lecture how can anyone say I have love for Krishna, He says actually I have no love for Krishna actually I ‘m simply doing it for some cheap attraction to others, if I had actually love for Krishna then how can I actually stay and live in this body? How could I actually have that love?
The Lord was feeling this way to teach by His example. This is feelingly calling out. Not so called material satisfaction, nor so called thinking that I’m an advanced Vaisnava but feelingly means one is calling out hankering, the quality is that hankering for the Lord. Prabhupada brings out an important point in the commentary one which, I mean I may not have adequate time to elaborate on but I will try to address it briefly, he brings out the point that it is said in the sastras that once uttering the holy name of the Lord the sinner gets rid of the quantity of the sins that he is unable to commit. Such is the power of uttering the holy name of the Lord. There is not the least exaggeration and I think this verse was quoted the other day by Sivarama Maharaja:
madhura-madhuram-etan mangalam mangalanam
He is quoting the verse the holy name of the Lord is always auspicious, holy name of the Lord is always sweet, this is the ripened fruit of Vedic literature, if anyone just once chants the holy name of the Lord whether in complete faith or even indifference certainly he can get relief from material bondage, such is the power of the holy name of the Lord.
So we say well, if I were to once chant the holy name of the Lord in this way then I can get relieved from all my reactions I may have to get from becoming materially wealthy or being proud or I may get relief from all the distresses that may come as a result of my material attachment. This point is very nicely explained by Kaviraj Goswami in discussing about our namacarya Haridas Thakur. Haridas Thakur was invited by Balaram Acharya to the home of Govardhan Majumdar. Govardhan is father of Ragunath das as we know, and Balaram Acharya, the family priest was very eager to bring Haridas Thakura to that assembly. And when Haridas Thakur appeared in the assembly then all of them began discussing, as they know Haridas Thakur was chanting 300,000 names daily of the holy name of the Lord. They started talking about the glories of the holy name and of course, Bhaktivinoda Thakur explains in Jaiva Dharma he says, Govardhan Majumdar is vaisnava-praya he wasn’t pure Vaishnava, because he still had some attachment. Bhaktivinoda Thakur says Lord Chaitanya himself considers Govardhan Majundar as Vaishnava-praya. He’s still chanting on the platform of namabhas. Therefore because he was a vaisnava-praya all those who assembled began describing about the glories of the holy name of the Lord.
What were they talking about, they said glories of the holy name of the Lord is one can get relief from all sinful activities. The glories of holy name of the Lord is that one can get liberation from material world. And then when Haridas Thakur heard them speaking this way, he said what do you speak? Don’t you know that to get from material suffering, to get relief from sinful reactions, to get liberation, these are secondary, don’t you know the true glory of the holy name of the Lord? The true glory of the holy name of the Lord is when one chants the holy name of the Lord, ecstatic love for the Supreme Personality of Godhead manifests, one becomes deeply attached to the Lord and rendering service to the Lord is the true glory.
Then he began to explain that relief from sinful reactions and liberation from material existence are by-products of chanting the holy name of the Lord, not the real essence or true purpose of chanting. He said this can be simply understood by the appearance of the gleam of the sunshine. He quoted one verse: as the rising sun dissipates the darkness of this world which is deep like an ocean, similarly once chanting the name of the Lord without offenses immediately dissipates the reactions of sinful life.
This is the true auspiciousness. Such is the nature of the auspicious holy name of the Lord which is auspicious for everyone in the world. Then Haridas Thakura explains that actually liberation from matter and relief from sinful reactions appear even in Namabhasa stage, even when one gets a slight glimpse of the holy name of the Lord.
When he quoted this verse he told everybody, now please you explain what does the verse mean? Then everyone said we can’t explain you need to explain, we couldn’t understand. Why? Because they thought the glory of the holy name was liberation they thought I won’t have to suffer material reaction, but that is not the true glory. The true glory is what Haridas Thakur explains, he gives an example just like the sun appears, the first glimpse of the sun in the morning appears, and the result is all the fear of demons and the ghosts and the dacoits they all go away. And when the sun is fixed in the sky then everybody can go about all their religious duty for the day.
Actually whenever I think of this I often reflect, I don’t want to digress, I remember in the olden days I used to come to Mayapur I was always told that never leave in the middle of the night, wait until the first rising of the sun. At that time in the seventies there was problem at the rail road crossing when the devotees would leave in the middle of the night. Sometimes the devotees couldn’t see anything, sometimes there would be dacoits at the railway crossing so wait for the first glimpse of the sunlight before leaving.
Similarly Haridas Thakur is using the analogy of the first glimpse of the sun appearing and fear going away. I have no fear there will be no reactions to sinful life but I said the first appearance of the sun. When the holy name is fully manifest, when one chants without offense, when one chants feelingly with the desire to serve Krishna, then he is always hankering for Krishna. Then the result is the person can go about his daily duty. Similarly, the devotee is fully engaged in the holy name in the same way the devotee is engaged in the service of the Lord.
And the Lord is very much attracted by such chanting. So therefore Haridas Thakur explains that devotee never even aspires for liberation salokya, samipya, sarsti they may be offered to the devotee but the devotee, as Krishna says in the Bhagavatam, he is only interested in service to Me. That’s all he hankers for, that is his desire, he simply hankers for service. He doesn’t think I’m serving, so much service I’m doing but he only thinks I can’t do enough service, I don’t have any love for Krishna, I’m not qualified for Krishan’s mercy but even though I’m not qualified for Krishna’s mercy I’ll never give up chanting, I’ll never give up chanting.
Bhaktivinoda Thakur explains in Sri bhaktyaloka that is the qualification of the devotee, he is patient. He says that the karmis, jnanis and bhaktas all desire some results, the karmis they want fruitive gain, the jnanis want liberation and the bhaktas want Krishna’s pleasure . That is the mercy they aspire for. Therefore the bhakta who wants Krishna’s pleasure must be patient. He says patience means that I will go on chanting Krishna’s names, I will go on serving Krishna, I will someday get his mercy whether it’s now or 10 years from now or 100 births from now, I will never give up chanting.
When a devotee actually chants in this mood, with the desire to please the Lord, knowing that someday I will get this mercy even though I’m unqualified to get the mercy, he can chant feelingly. He doesn’t chant feeling satisfied that I have done enough, he never thinks he has done enough. He never thinks I’m a Vaishnava. I’m simply aspiring to become a Vaisnava he thinks.
Recently I was reading a pastime about Mukunda who was a Vaidya, a physician. One day he was sitting giving prescription to the Mohammedan king and then what happens is the servant came in to offer a fan to the king. Mukunda saw the peacock feather in the fan and he fell off from the chair in ecstasy because immediately he thought of Krishna and lost consciousness. And the king was thinking what has happened has he left his body? Has he died? And he went and began sprinkling water on his face trying to bring him to consciousness.
Then he asked him what happened? What happened? What did Mukunda say? Oh, I have this tendency for epilepsy,(..laughter) he immediately dismissed it, he wouldn’t say what it was. He didn’t want to be recognised. Sir! I have this tendency and sometimes I have this epilepsy and asked for forgiveness. But immediately the king could understand, appreciate and recognise his quality.
This is the quality of the devotee, he never thinks just see how ecstatic I am, just see tears coming from my eyes (..Laughter) tears may manifest but even when a devotee manifest tears he tries to hides them. Prabhupada did that. Prabhupada once manifested tears in his class and he tried to hide them. Doesn’t want to show them, he thinks if other people think I’m a Vaisnava then I immediately I think I want respect and if there is desire for respect and fame in my heart, then surely I will go to hell.
So a Vaisnava never thinks this way, he never chants for recognition, he chants feelingly.Not that he chants to get relief from suffering because he knows relief from suffering is insignificant in comparison to opportunity to serve.
kṛṣṇa-bhakta-niṣkāma ataeva śānta
Krishna bhakti niskama, the devotee of the Lord he has no material desires therefore he can be peaceful. Bhukti, those who desire material wealth. Mukti, those who desire relief from sufferings, Siddhi, those who want mystical yoga perfection, they are still kami, still feel lusty desires. They cannot be peaceful. Prabhupada often many times quote the verse
piśācī hṛdi vartate
These two desires, bhukti and mukti, are like two witches which will hunt one like a ghost. As long as these desires are in the heart one will never be able to understand what pure devotional service is and it always will remain a mystery. Therefore devotees are always eager when they chant, they are hankering for pure devotional service, that is what they aspire for. They are not aspiring for wealth, they are not aspiring for higher education, not aspiring for bodily beauty. They know, they are exhausted they know there is nothing to be obtained by these things, they are looking for pure devotional service and therefore because they are always eagerly hankering for the opportunity to obtain pure devotional service they are also eager to hear the glories of pure devotional service. Right?
In the CC when Haridas Thakur, we will use the example as Haridas Thakur is our Namachraya, when he heard Rupa Goswami recite the verse how much nectar is there in two syllables Krish-na, when he heard what Rupa Goswami composed, he immediately fell down in ecstasy and then Kaviraj Goswami says this is the nature of devotee, one has to learn about true beauty and true position of Lord’s holy name by hearing the scriptures from the mouths of Vaisnavas. This is where you taste sweetness in Krishna’s names. One has to hear the glories of pure devotional service.
I will end with one verse which really captured my attention lately. It’s the wonderful verse which is spoken in 11th canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. I quoted it many times as I can relate as it’s relevant to me because this verse also gives me hope. It is spoken by Narada Muni to Vasudeva. When Vasudev was asking about how to become free from fear, he wants to hear about pure devotional service and Narada Muni was pleased to hear his enquiry.
He said that pure devotional service is so transcendentally potent even by hearing about such service, even by glorifying such service, even by meditating on it, even by faithfully and respectfully accepting that it exists, and even by praising the service that is rendered by others, even a person who hates the demigods and all other living beings in the whole universe can immediately be purified by the power of hearing, such is power of hearing the pure devotional service, such is the power of hearing the glories of the pure holy name.
This should actually waken within the heart that even though I don’t have pure devotional service even though I can’t, it could be a lifetime, hundreds of lifetimes before I can achieve but still I can glorify it, I can glorify it, hear about it from others, still I can mediate on it, I can respectfully faithfully accept it exists, yes it does exist!
Look at all the devotees and the examples in Srimad Bhagavatam, look at all the devotees who chants with such enthusiasm, such sincerity, feelingly with their heart and look at how the Lord is so much attracted to them and how they make advancement in spiritual life.
I can praise the service of others because this gives me hope and therefore even a person who hates the demigods and all living beings can become purified by the glories of pure devotional service. Therefore Prabhupada in his commentary to this verse is making a distinction between those who chant with some material satisfaction and puffed up, occasionally, he also says they may occasionally chant, and those who feelingly chant, Oh Krishna!, Oh Govinda! This should be the aspiration of a devotee when he chants and this should be the mood of kirtaniyas and kirtanees, or how to call it, those who are chanting together, chanting with feeling, calling out He Govinda! He Krishna!
Surely they will actually be able to obtain the mercy of the Lord and the mercy of the devotees of the Lord. I think I’ve covered the amount of time allotted to me, I thank you for this opportunity to speak. . . .
I have 5 mins? But it says here I am over by 10 mins, what to do!!!(laughter) . Hare Krishna I think I better be 10 mins late, please don’t let me go over 15 mins. Thank you.