Knowing Krsna’s Energies
For Krsna there is no difference between material and spiritual energy. For Him, it is all the same. Sometimes electricity works for cooling purposes, and sometimes it works for heating purposes, but the energy generated from the electric powerhouse is all the same. Similarly, Krsna’s energy is always spiritual, but it is acting in different ways. In a town there may be a department of welfare and a department of police. In the eyes of the government both are the same, for both are subsidiary parts of the government, but for the individual they render different services. The material energy may be working in different ways that may not be very pleasant to the living entity, but that does not mean that material energy is not liked by Krsna. It is as important as spiritual energy, but it is engaged to punish the conditioned soul, just as the police department is engaged in punishing criminals. In the Brahma-samhita, it is confirmed that Krsna’s energy is always spiritual, but it is acting in different ways in different fields of activities. In relation to Krsna there is no distinction between the energies, but for our understanding we discriminate and say that sometimes the energy is working in a material way and sometimes in a spiritual way. We are thinking that the energy is hot or cold, good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, but in fact the energy is the same.
Krsna cannot distribute inferior energy because He is not inferior. He is always superior, spiritual, and therefore His energy is always spiritual. Subhadra is the sister of Krsna, and from her comes the incarnation of Durga, the personification of material energy. Subhadra is in the spiritual world and is eternally related to Krsna as His energy, but when Durga conducts her activities here in the material world, it is not that she is to be considered inferior. In the Bhagavad-gita as well as in Brahma-samhita it is said that Durga or Maya is acting under Krsna’s direction, so how can she be considered inferior? Criminals may think that the police department is an inferior governmental department, but the law-abiding citizens do not think that this is so. It simply functions in a particular way. Similarly, the material energy has to act to bewilder the living entity who is under the direction of Krsna.
We are the living entities within the material energy, and we are in this position because we wanted to dominate material nature. Krsna has given us the facility, saying, “All right, you may try, but you cannot be successful.” As long as we are in ignorance of how the laws of nature are working under the supreme direction of Krsna, we will continue to be defeated in our activities. When we understand Krsna in perfection, we will automatically know the laws of nature and how they are acting. Vaisnavas are concerned with the background of the laws of material nature. When we understand Krsna in perfection, we can understand that there is in actuality no inferior or material energy, but that everything is spiritual. We can understand that on the higher platform whatever we are experiencing are the actions and reactions of the different energies of the Supreme Lord. When we understand Krsna perfectly, then these distinctions of superior and inferior energies will disappear. Whatever is engaged in the service of Krsna is superior energy. In the higher sense, everything is serving Krsna, and those who are highly elevated understand this.
That the Lord has various energies is confirmed in Vedic literatures. Yet the Supreme Lord personally has nothing to do. How is this? He has not to strive for wealth, for all wealth is His; nor for knowledge, for all knowledge is His; nor for power, for all power is His; nor for beauty, fame or renunciation, for they are all His in full. Nor does He directly manage universal affairs, for He has many assistants who can conduct affairs while He remains in His abode. This is confirmed in Sri Isopanisad:
anejad ekam manaso javiyo
nainad deva apnuvan purvam arsat
tad dhavato ’nyan atyeti tisthat
tasminn apo matarisva dadhati
“The personality of Godhead, although fixed in His abode, is more swift than the mind, and can overcome all others running. The powerful demigods cannot approach Him. Although in one place, He has control over those who supply the air and rain. He surpasses all in excellence.” (Sri Isopanisad, Mantra 4)
Thus Krsna has no work to perform. As the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He simply engages in enjoying Himself with the gopis (cowherd girls) and His consort Radharani. Krsna, as Krsna, does not really engage in killing demons. When Krsna kills demons, He is known as Vasudeva Krsna, not the original Krsna. When Krsna expands Himself, He first expands as Balarama, then Sankarsana, Pradyumna, Aniruddha and Vasudeva. As Vasudeva, He acts in Mathura and Dvaraka, but as Krsna, in His original feature, He remains in Vrndavana. This may seem to be confusing; even one of the greatest fiction writers in Bengal misunderstood and thought that Krsna of Vrndavana, Krsna of Dvaraka, and Krsna of Mathura were three different persons. But this is not difficult to understand if we know the nature of Krsna’s expansions. Krsna is the same, and He is the one without a second, but He can expand Himself in billions and trillions of forms. This is all for the purpose of His enjoyment.
In the Tenth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita, Krsna explains His different manifestations to Arjuna in this way:
“Of horses know Me to be Uccaihsrava, who rose out of the ocean, born of the elixir of immortality; of lordly elephants I am Airavata, and among men I am the monarch. Of weapons I am the thunderbolt, among cows I am Kamadhuk, giver of abundant milk. Of procreators I am Kandarpa, the god of love; and of serpents I am Vasuki, the chief.” (Bg. 10.27,28)
Lord Krsna further enumerated the many great manifestations of the material creation and explained how each was representative of Himself. He concluded a long detailed account of these manifestations by saying:
“But what need is there, Arjuna, for all this detailed knowledge? With a single fragment of Myself I pervade and support these entire universes.” (Bg. 10.42)
Thus this material world is existing on one plenary portion of Krsna. If Krsna didn’t enter this universe, it could not exist. Similarly, unless the spirit soul, which is a fragmental portion of Krsna, enters this body, this body cannot exist. As soon as the spirit soul leaves, the body immediately becomes useless: when Krsna enters into matter, matter has value. This is true for the minute individual atom and the great universe as well.
Since the manifestations of Krsna are so great, we should know that His enjoyment is far greater than ours. We have to try to understand what kind of enjoyment Krsna likes. Everyone knows that God is great, and we can conclude from this that His enjoyment is great also. In this regard, Svarupa Damodara Gosvami has written a verse which says that although the loving affairs of Radha and Krsna may appear like ordinary material affairs, this is not actually the case. Radharani is the pleasure potency of Krsna. In the Vedanta-sutra the Absolute Truth is said to be always enjoying the pleasure potency. When we want pleasure, we cannot have it alone. We feel pleasure in the company of friends or family. I may speak in a room alone, but if I speak in a room before other people, the pleasure is increased. pleasure means that there must be others, and therefore Krsna, the Absolute Truth, who is always engaged in enjoying Himself, has become many.
We are Krsna’s parts and parcels and have been created to give pleasure to Krsna. The chief pleasure potency is Radharani, and so Radha-Krsna are always together. Whereas the material energy is conducted by the external potency, Maya, the spiritual world is conducted by the internal potency, Radharani. We often pray to Radharani because She is the pleasure potency of Krsna. The very word “Krsna” means all-attractive, but Radharani is so great that She attracts Krsna. If Krsna is always attractive to everyone, and Radharani is attractive to Krsna, how can we imagine the position of Srimati Radharani? We should try humbly to understand and offer Her our obeisances, saying, “Radharani, You are so dear to Krsna. You are the daughter of King Vrsabhanu, and You are Krsna’s beloved. We offer our respectful obeisances unto You. Radharani is very dear to Krsna, and if we approach Krsna through the mercy of Radharani, we can easily attain Him. If Radharani recommends a devotee, Krsna immediately accepts him, however foolish he may be. Consequently in Vrndavana we find that devotees chant Radharani’s name more often than Krsna’s. Wherever we go in India we will find devotees calling, “Jaya Radhe.” We should be more interested in worshiping Radharani, for however fallen we may be, if somehow or other we can please Her, we can very easily understand Krsna. If we try to understand Krsna by the speculative process, we will have to spend many lifetimes of speculation; but if we take to devotional service and just try to please Radharani, then Krsna can be very easily realized. Radharani is such a great devotee that She can deliver Krsna.
Even Krsna cannot understand Radharani’s qualities. He fails to understand Her because She is so great. In order to understand Radharani, Krsna actually accepted Her position. Krsna thought, “Although I am full and complete in every respect, I still don’t understand Radharani. Why is that?” This obliged Krsna to accept the propensities of Radharani, and this accounts for His manifestation as Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Krsna Himself, but He is Krsna accepting the propensities of Radharani. Radharani is always feeling separation from Krsna, and similarly, in the position of Radharani. Lord Caitanya was always feeling that separation. Furthermore, those who follow the teachings of Lord Caitanya should experience and relish the feelings of separation, not of meeting.
The gosvamis, disciples of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the most perfect and highly elevated beings, never said, “I have seen Krsna.” Instead, they constantly cried, “Where is Radharani? Where are Lalita and Visakha and the other damsels of Vrndavana?” In their mature stage of love of Godhead, when they were living in Vrndavana, the gosvamis would also cry, “Radharani, where are You? Where are Your associates? Where are You, O son of Nanda Maharaja? Where are you all?” In this way they were searching after Krsna, and they never at any time said, “Last night I saw Krsna dancing with the gopis.” Such claims are not made by a mature devotee, but by one who takes things very cheaply. Some people think that Radha and Krsna are so cheap that They may be seen every night, but this is not the teaching of the gosvamis who were always searching after Krsna crying, “Where are You? Where are You Radharani? Where are You Krsna? Are You there by Govardhana Hill? Are You on the bank of the Yamuna?” In this way, throughout the whole tract of Vrndavana, the gosvamis were crying and searching after Radha and Krsna like madmen.
We have to follow in the footprints of the gosvamis and search out Radha and Krsna in this way. Vrndavana is in our hearts, and we must search for Him there. This is the process recommended by Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the process of worship in separation. Feeling separation from Krsna, Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu would throw Himself into the sea. Sometimes He would leave His room in the dead of night and disappear. No one would know where He had gone, but all the while He was searching after Krsna. Thus it is not that we are to enjoy the loving exchanges between Krsna and Radha like spectators at some sports show. We must feel separation from Them. The more we feel separation, the more we should understand that we are advancing. With our material senses, we cannot see Krsna, nor can we even hear His name. We can begin to perceive Him when we advance in devotional service. That devotional service begins with the tongue, not the legs, eyes or ears. The tongue must be utilized to chant Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare and take Krsna prasadam. Thus the tongue has a dual function, and by utilizing it in this way, we will realize Krsna. We cannot see Krsna with our material eyes, nor hear about Him with material ears, nor touch Him with our hands; but if we engage our tongue in His service, He will reveal Himself, saying, “Here I am.”
This chanting of Hare Krsna extinguishes the blazing fire of material nature. This is also the purport to the following prayer to the spiritual master.
vande guroh sri-caranaravindam **
“The spiritual master is receiving benediction from the ocean of mercy. Just as the cloud pours water on the forest fire to extinguish it, so the spiritual master extinguishes the blazing fire of material existence. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of my spiritual master.” (Sri Gurvastakam, Verse 1)
This material world is often compared to a forest fire which takes place automatically. No one wants a forest fire, but there is often lightning, or carelessness, or friction, or whatever, and the fire immediately takes place. Similarly, this material world is beset with a blazing fire of problems. Everyone wants to live here peacefully, but situations develop in such a way that this is not possible for anyone. We struggle very hard to adjust things in so many ways, but nature’s laws are so cruel and dangerous that in spite of our hopes and plans the blazing fire of the problems of material existence continues.
In this century, for instance, we have attempted to put out the fire of war, but it has not been possible. There was a First World War, and then a League of Nations was formed to try to prevent a second, but despite their attempts a second took place. Now a United Nations has been constructed to help end war, but war is going on in Vietnam, in Egypt, in Pakistan and other places. No one wants a Third World War, but it seems imminent. It is not possible to send a fire brigade, a few men with buckets of water, to extinguish a great fire in the forest. To extinguish a roaring forest fire there must be volumes of water; in other words, there must be an arrangement that is beyond human endeavor. When there is a merciful cloud over the forest fire, the cloud bursts, rain pours down in torrents, and the blazing fire is immediately extinguished. As a cloud collects water from the ocean, similarly the spiritual master collects water from Krsna’s ocean of mercy and pours it over the blazing fire of material existence. Thus one who bestows or distributes the merciful rain of Krsna is called a spiritual master or guru.
In Vedic literatures it is said that in order to understand the transcendental science of Krsna consciousness, we must try to acquire knowledge of how to extinguish this blazing fire of problems. Scientists, philosophers and other educated men are trying very hard to extinguish it, but the result seems to be bigger and bigger bombs. The karmis or fruitive laborers are working with heart and soul, day and night, to extinguish this fire or to diminish the miserable condition of material existence by dint of hard labor. The jnanis or philosophers are also trying, but they have become disgusted and so proclaim, “This world is false.” Thinking this, they try to merge into the existence of the Supreme and in this way extinguish the fire. This is like the jackal who tries to pick some grapes from a vine, and when he fails, says, “Oh, these grapes are sour anyway.” The yogis or meditators try to gain superior mystic power by becoming greater than the greatest, smaller than the smallest, lighter than the lightest, and heavier than the heaviest, but this is just so much child’s play. With any material body—whether it be great or small, light or heavy—the problems of material existence still remain. In this way one may progress from one stage to another, coming from the stage of karmi or fruitive laborer, to the stage of jnani or philosopher, to the stage of yogi or meditator, but in any case one finally has to come to the platform of bhakti, or devotional service. This is the real evolutionary process. It is indicated in Bhagavad-gita in this way:
“After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes, and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.” (Bg. 7.19)
Surrender to Krsna is the point; that is the aim of life, and the bhaktas, the intelligent men of the world, take to this stage immediately. Therefore Krsna says that they are wise men. If, after many, many births one has to come to this point of surrender, then why not immediately?
The blazing fire of material nature is supervised by Durga. Often she is portrayed with weapons in her hands. She has ten hands, and each holds a different type of weapon. This indicates that she is ruling all ten directions of this universe. She wields the different weapons to chastise the demons. There is one famous picture of a demon struggling with a lion, and the goddess Durga is pulling the demon’s hair and pushing her trident against his chest. If we study this picture we can determine that we are the demon and that the trident is the threefold miseries of material existence from which we are always suffering. Some miseries are inflicted by other living entities, some are inflicted by natural disasters, and some are inflicted by the mind and body themselves. In one way or another we are always struggling against these three types of miseries. No one in the material creation can say that he is free from them. The trident of this material nature is pressed against everyone’s chest, and because of this, pure happiness within this material world is not possible. We may try to satisfy Mother Durga by worshiping her or by giving her some bribe, but Durga is not so easily bribed.
Therefore we should know that our aim of life should be to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead. We should make every arrangement—social, political, philosophical or religious—but the aim should be to approach the Supreme person. In the Vedas it is stated that the learned advanced people, the demigods of the creation, simply look to the lotus feet of Krsna. The aim should be the same with human civilization. Without looking to Krsna’s lotus feet, all religious, social or political endeavors will fail. It is not possible to make progress as long as our desires are anchored in the material world. In this regard, there is a story of a bridegroom’s party who had to go to the bride’s house down the river. It was settled that they would start at night by boat and reach the destination early in the morning. Therefore at night, after supper, the jubilant party got aboard a boat, made themselves comfortable and instructed the boatmen to start. Since all the members of the party were seated comfortably, and since the river breeze was very pleasant, they slept soundly that night. In the morning they all got up early, but to their astonishment they saw that the boat had not moved an inch toward the destination, even though the boatmen had rowed vigorously all night long. Finally, after inquiring, they found that despite the boatmen’s rowing, the boat had not moved because they had failed to raise the anchor. The marriage ceremony was thus spoiled because of a foolish mistake.
Our present civilization is therefore a mistaken civilization because the mistaken leaders have forgotten to raise the anchor of attachment. Instead, the anchor is being more and more firmly fixed because they have structured the social order on the basis of sense gratification. This sense gratifying social and political set-up, maintained by various plans and schemes, has been described in Bhagavad-gita as follows:
“The demoniac, taking shelter of insatiable lust, pride, and false prestige, and being thus illusioned, are always sworn to unclean work, attracted by the impermanent. Their belief is that to gratify the senses unto the end of life is the prime necessity of human civilization. Thus, there is no measurement for their anxiety.” (Bg. 16.10–11)
The leaders, like the boatmen, are all illusioned. They mislead us into taking some temporary benefit, but how long can their plans and schemes go on? If they persist until they die of heart failure or are killed by assassins, then another just like them takes their place. Even the so-called philosophers of modern society are captivated by material name and fame, and so they do not lead the general populace in the proper direction. Thus the anchor of life remains deeply fixed in the waters of nescience for the purpose of sense gratification, and thus our so-called civilization rots in a stagnant pool. Because we are not moving, we are always in the same port of problematic life. All schemes are only useless scraps of paper in the face of war, famine, earthquakes and other disasters. All these disasters are warnings from Mother Durga, and by them she confirms her eternal superiority over the illusioned planmakers. The different weights on the anchor which keep us grounded in material life are our attachments to the material body due to our ignorance of spiritual facts, our attachment to kinsmen due to bodily relations, our attachment to our land of birth and our material possessions, our attachment to material science and our attachment to religious forms and rituals without knowing their true purpose—all these anchor the boat of the human body in the material universe. Sri Krsna, using the example of a strongly rooted banyan tree, advises us in Bhagavad-gita how to get rid of this attachment once and for all:
na rupam asyeha tathopalabhyate
nanto na cadir na ca sampratistha
asvattham enam suvirudha-mulam
asanga-sastrena drdhena chittva
tatah padam tat parimargitavyam
yasmin gata na nivartanti bhuyah
tam eva cadyam purusam prapadye
yatah pravrttih prasrta purani
“The real form of this tree cannot be perceived in this world. No one can understand where it ends, where it begins, or where its foundation is. This banyan tree must be cut out with determination, by the weapon of detachment. Thereafter, one must seek that situation from which, having gone, one never comes back. One must surrender to that Supreme Personality of Godhead from whom everything has begun and is extending since time immemorial.” (Bg. 15.3,4)
The personality of Godhead, who is fully cognizant of everything in His creation, informs us in our best interest that we must desire to get rid of this material existence. We must detach ourselves from everything material. To make the best use of a bad bargain, our material existence should be 100% spiritualized by constant association with Krsna’s message, His devotees and His names. Therefore everyone who ordinarily engages in material affairs can derive the highest benefit from this Krsna consciousness movement. All kinds of spiritual endeavors are more or less tinged with material contamination. However, pure devotional service is transcendental to all pollution. We need not artificially adopt principles of materialism; we need only fix our minds on the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna.
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