Approaching Krsna, the All-pervading Truth
Let me therefore offer my respectful obeisances unto the Lord, who has become the son of Vasudeva, the pleasure of Devaki, the boy of Nanda and the other cowherd men of Vrndavana, and the enlivener of the cows and the senses.
The Lord, being thus unapproachable by any material assets, out of unbounded and causeless mercy descends on the earth as He is in order to show His special mercy upon His unalloyed devotees and to diminish the upsurges of the demoniac persons. Queen Kunti specifically adores the incarnation, or descent, of Lord Krsna above all other incarnations because in this particular incarnation He is more approachable. In the Rama incarnation He remained a king’s son from His very childhood, but in the incarnation of Krsna, although He was the son of a king, He at once left the shelter of His real father and mother (King Vasudeva and Queen Devaki) just after His appearance and went to the lap of Yasodamayi to play the part of an ordinary cowherd boy in the blessed Vrajabhumi, which is very sanctified because of His childhood pastimes. Therefore Lord Krsna is more merciful than Lord Rama. He was undoubtedly very kind to Kunti’s brother Vasudeva and the family. Had He not become the son of Vasudeva and Devaki, Queen Kunti could not claim Him to be her nephew and thus address Krsna in parental affection. But Nanda and Yasoda are more fortunate because they could relish the Lord’s childhood pastimes, which are more attractive than all other pastimes. There is no parallel to His childhood pastimes as exhibited at Vrajabhumi, which are the prototypes of His eternal affairs in the original Krsnaloka, described as the cintamani-dhama in the Brahma-samhita. Lord Sri Krsna descended Himself at Vrajabhumi with all His transcendental entourage and paraphernalia. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore confirmed that no one is as fortunate as the residents of Vrajabhumi, and specifically the cowherd girls, who dedicated their everything for the satisfaction of the Lord. His pastimes with Nanda and Yasoda and His pastimes with the cowherd men and especially with the cowherd boys and the cows have caused Him to be known as Govinda. Lord Krsna as Govinda is more inclined to the brahmanas and the cows, indicating thereby that human prosperity depends more on these two items, namely brahminical culture and cow protection. Lord Krsna is never satisfied where these are lacking.
In the beginning of her prayers, Kuntidevi said, namasye purusam tvadyam isvaram prakrteh param: “I offer my obeisances unto the person, purusa, who is prakrteh param, beyond this material manifestation.” Thus in the beginning Kuntidevi gave us the understanding that God is the supreme purusa, the Supreme Person. He is not impersonal. He is a person, but He is not a person of this material world or this material creation, and He does not have a material body. This is to be understood. The poor fund of knowledge held by the impersonalists cannot accommodate how the Supreme Absolute Truth can be a person, because whenever they think of a person they think of a person of this material world. That is their defect. Why should God be a person of this material world? Therefore in the beginning Kuntidevi cleared away this misunderstanding by saying that the Lord is prakrteh param, beyond this material creation. Yet He is a person, and now by the grace of Kunti we can understand that this Supreme Person, although alaksyam, invisible, has now visibly appeared as Krsna.
Kuntidevi says, krsnaya vasudevaya. The word vasudeva is sometimes understood to mean “the all-pervading.” The impersonalists have this conception of Vasudeva, and therefore Kuntidevi points out, “That Vasudeva, the all-pervading, is Krsna.” Isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese ’rjuna tisthati: [Bg. 18.61] Krsna, the Supreme Lord, is present in everyone’s heart. Thus He is all-pervading.
Krsna, the original person, exists in three features: as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as the all-pervading Paramatma (the Supersoul), and as the impersonal Brahman effulgence. Those who are interested in bhakti-yoga have no interest in the impersonal Brahman effulgence, which is for common men. If one were an inhabitant of the sun, what interest would he have in the sunshine? That would be most insignificant for him. Similarly, those who are advanced in spiritual life are not interested in the impersonal Brahman effulgence. Rather, they are interested in purusa, the Supreme Person, Vasudeva. As stated in Bhagavad-gita, this realization of the Supreme Person takes place after many, many births (bahunam janmanam ante [Bg. 7.19]). The jnanis, the impersonalists, who are attached to the Brahman effulgence, try to understand the Absolute Truth by dint of their knowledge, but they do not know that their knowledge is imperfect and limited whereas Krsna, the Absolute Truth, is unlimited. We cannot approach the unlimited by our limited knowledge. That is not possible.
By the grace of devotees like Kuntidevi, we can understand that the all-pervading Absolute Truth, Vasudeva, Paramatma, is present as Krsna (krsnaya vasudevaya). This realization of Vasudeva is not possible for impersonalists very easily. Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita (7.19):
“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.” The word mahatma means “broadminded.” One who cannot understand Krsna is not broad-minded but cripple-minded. If one becomes broad-minded, then by the grace of Krsna one can understand Krsna.
The process of understanding Krsna is sevonmukha—by rendering service. Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau. Realization of Vasudeva is possible by rendering service, beginning with the tongue. The tongue has two functions—to vibrate and to taste. So if one repeatedly hears and vibrates the Hare Krsna mantra and tastes prasada, food offered to Krsna, by this very simple method one will realize Vasudeva, Krsna. Krsna will reveal Himself. It is not that by our endeavor alone we can understand Krsna, but our endeavor in loving service will make us qualified, and then Krsna will reveal Himself (svayam eva sphuraty adah).
Krsna is very much anxious to take us back home, back to Godhead, but we are stubborn and do not wish to go. Therefore He is always looking for the opportunity to take us back home. He is just like an affectionate father. When a son who is a rascal leaves his father and goes loitering in the street, with no food and no shelter, and suffers very much, the father is always anxious to bring the boy back home. Similarly, Krsna is the supreme father, and all the living entities within this material world are exactly like misled children of a wealthy man who have left home to loiter in the street. Therefore the greatest benefit one can bestow upon one’s fellow human being is to give him Krsna consciousness. No kind of material profit will satisfy the living entity, but if he is given Krsna consciousness he will actually be satisfied. A bewildered boy loitering in the street may be reminded, “My dear boy, why are you suffering so much? You are the son of a very rich man who has so much property. Why are you loitering in the street?” And if he comes to understand, “Yes, I am the son of this important man. Why shall I loiter in the street?” he may then return home. Therefore the best service is to inform those who have forgotten Krsna, “You are part and parcel of Krsna. You are the son of Krsna, who is full in all opulence. Why are you rotting in this material world?” This is the greatest service. Maya, illusion, is very strong, but it is the duty of every devotee of Krsna to try to enlighten everyone to Krsna consciousness. Kuntidevi, for example, first said that although Krsna, the Supreme Person, is within and without, to rascals and fools He is invisible. Therefore she points out, “Here is the Lord—Krsna.”
Krsna is the all-pervading Supreme Personality of Godhead (krsnaya vasudevaya), but He is very much pleased to become the son of Devaki (devaki-nandanaya). Devaki-nandana is also mentioned in the Atharva Veda. Krsna comes as Devaki-nandana, and His father is Nanda-gopa, Nanda Maharaja. Krsna likes to be related with His devotees who act as father and mother. Although here in this material world we try to make our relationship with the Supreme by accepting Him as father, Krsna wants to become the son. He takes pleasure in becoming the son of a devotee. Ordinary men want God as their father, but that is not very pleasing to Krsna because the son always bothers the father: “Give me this, give me this, give me this.”
Of course, Krsna has immense potencies by which He can supply as much as everyone wants. Eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman. He supplies food to the elephant, and He supplies food to the ant, so why not to the human being? But rascals do not know this. They work like asses day and night to find bread, and if they go to church, there also they pray, “Give me bread.” They are concerned only with the bread problem.
Although the living entity is the son of the richest, most opulent person, he has created a bread problem. This is called ignorance. He thinks, “If I do not solve my bread problem, if I do not drive my trucks day and night, how can I live?” This is the nonsense of our modern civilization. Where is there a bread problem? Krsna can supply unlimited amounts of bread. There are thousands of elephants in Africa, and Krsna supplies food to them. So if He can supply food to the elephants, why not to the human beings? The Bhagavatam therefore says, “Don’t waste your time with this bread problem.”
We should not waste our time with solving economic problems. Economic development is nonsense. Of course, this proposal is very revolutionary, and people may even hate me for it. “What is Swamiji saying?” they may ask. But actually it is a fact. This economic development is madness. Suppose one has a rich father and enough food. Suppose one knows, “My father is the richest man in the city.” Then where is one’s economic problem? Actually, that is our position. We have no economic problem. Everything is completely provided. We want water. Just see—there are oceans of water. Of course, we want pure water, and although the ocean has so much water, when water is scarce we shall have to take help from Krsna, who will evaporate the water and turn it into clouds, and then when the rain falls down the water will be sweet. Otherwise we cannot drink it.
Everything is under control, and everything—water, light, heat, and so on—is complete.
“The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the complete whole is also complete in itself. Because He is the complete whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance.” (Isopanisad, Invocation) Krsna’s stock is never exhausted. We must simply become obedient to Him, and the supply will be there. Therefore a Krsna conscious person has no economic problem; everything is sufficiently supplied by Krsna. In Los Angeles the neighbors of our temple are sometimes very envious. “You do not work,” they say to our Krsna conscious devotees. “You have no anxiety. You have four cars. You are eating so nicely. How is that?” Actually, they are right. Somehow or other we are getting everything we need, and we have no problems, for if one simply becomes a sincere servant of Krsna, everything is provided. They are envious of us because we do not work but still we have so much. But why don’t they come join us? That they will not do. “Come with us,” we say. “Chant Hare Krsna.” “No, no, no. That I cannot do.” “All right. Then work with your trucks.” By zooming around in their cars and trucks, they have made their own lives dangerous, and they have created danger for others also. At any moment there may be an accident. But they say that this is civilization. Nonsense. This is not civilization. Civilization means calmness, prosperity, and santi, peace. In peace and prosperity one should be Krsna conscious always.
People work so hard, day and night, simply for a little food, not knowing that their food has already been provided. Avidya karma-samjnanya trtiya saktir isyate (Visnu Purana 6.7.61). This material world is full of ignorance (avidya). Therefore our endeavor should be to become free from this ignorance. It is only for this reason that we should work—to come out of ignorance. We are thinking, “I am this material body. I have to work day and night, and then I shall get my food, and I shall live.” This is ignorance. We have lived this life of ignorance in forms other than that of a human being. We have lived in bird life, in beast life, and so on, but now, in this life, we should be peaceful, calm, and quiet, and should simply inquire about the Absolute Truth (jivasya tattva-jijnasa, athato brahma jijnasa). That should be one’s occupation.
We are simply sitting down and inquiring about Krsna, and this is what one should do. This is life. Why should one work day and night like an ass? What kind of life is this? No. This is not life. Therefore the Bhagavatam says to one who is intelligent (kovida), “Your life should be engaged for this purpose—for understanding the Absolute Truth.” Then how will my economic problem be solved? The answer is that happiness one desires from economic development will come automatically in due course of time. Tal labhyate duhkhavad anyatah (Bhag. 1.5.18). We are looking for happiness. Are you looking for distress? “No, sir.” Then why does distress come upon you? If you are not eager for calamities and distress, why do they come upon you? According to our karma, our life holds some portion of happiness and some portion of distress. Therefore, if distress comes without invitation, happiness will also come without invitation.
We are already destined to have a certain amount of happiness and a certain amount of distress, and we cannot change that. The change we should make, therefore, is to get free from this material condition of life. That should be our only business. According to our karma, we are sometimes taking birth in a higher planetary system as demigods and sometimes taking birth as cats and dogs or as germs in stool. Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu said:
“According to their karma, all living entities are wandering throughout the entire universe. Some of them are being elevated to the upper planetary systems, and some are going down into the lower planetary systems. Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Krsna. By the mercy of both Krsna and the spiritual master, such a person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service.” (Cc. Madhya 19.151) Only a fortunate living entity gets the opportunity to associate with Krsna and Krsna’s devotee, and in this way he gets the seed of devotional service, the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra, and then his life becomes sublime.
Kuntidevi, therefore, is pointing our attention toward Krsna, the Supreme Person, who is alaksya, invisible to all. Who is that invisible person? Here—Krsna. “Oh, Krsna,” one may say. “There are so many Krsnas.” Therefore Kuntidevi says, “I am offering my prayers to Vasudeva, the son of Vasudeva.” “There are many Vasudevas.” “No. Nanda-gopa-kumaraya: I am praying to the foster son of Maharaja Nanda.” In this way, three times she points out, “Here is Krsna.”
Krsna officially takes birth as the son of Devaki and Vasudeva, but in His childhood He enjoys the company of mother Yasoda and Nanda Maharaja. This is Krsna’s pastime. A nanda-lilamaya-vigrahaya: Krsna’s pastimes are all jubilant. Anandamayo ’bhyasat (Vedanta-sutra 1.1.12): He is by nature full of bliss. We shall never find Krsna unhappy. Krsna is always happy, and whoever associates with Him is also happy. Therefore He is known as Govinda. The word go means “senses.” We are looking for sense gratification, and if we associate with Krsna we shall enjoy our senses abundantly, just like the gopis who are dancing with Krsna. Thus there is no scarcity of sense gratification, but this sense gratification in association with Krsna is not gross sense gratification; rather, it is the spiritual sense gratification enjoyed in the spiritual world. Ananda-cin-maya-sad-ujjvala-vigrahasya. That ananda, or pleasure, is not the third-class ananda we enjoy with our bodily senses. Such bodily enjoyment is not ananda but illusion. We are thinking, “I am enjoying,” but that ananda is not factual, because we cannot enjoy this material pleasure of the senses for long. Everyone has experience that this material pleasure comes to an end. Spiritual enjoyment, however, does not end; rather, it increases. That is the difference. Ananda-cinmaya-sad-ujjvala-vigrahasya govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami (Brahma-samhita 5.32). Therefore we have to associate with Govinda.
Here also it is said, govindaya namo namah: “I offer my respectful obeisances to Govinda.” The Krsna consciousness movement is so sublime that it puts one directly in contact with Govinda. The worship of the Deity of Krsna in the temple is also direct contact with Govinda. Sri-vigraharadhana-nitya-nana-srngara-tan-mandira-marjanadau **. The vigraha, the Deity of Krsna, appears by Krsna’s mercy. Because Krsna is alaksya, invisible, He becomes visible to give us the facility to see Him. It is not that Krsna is stone, wood, or metal. Krsna is always Krsna, but because we cannot see anything beyond material elements like wood, stone, and metal, He appears in a form made of these elements. But He is neither wood, metal, nor stone. When we associate with the Deity, we associate with Krsna personally. Because Krsna is invisible, He very kindly takes a form that is visible to us. This is Krsna’s mercy. Do not think, “Oh, here is a stone Krsna.” Krsna is everything, and therefore Krsna is stone also, but He is not the kind of stone that cannot act. Even in the form of stone or metal, Krsna can act as Krsna, and one who worships the Deity will perceive that. Svayam eva sphuraty adah. The Deity, although apparently stone, may speak with a devotee. There are many instances in which this has happened.
I am very pleased, therefore, when my disciples nicely dress the Deity, offer the Deity nice foodstuffs, and keep the temple very clean. Sri-mandira-marjanadau. Marjana means “cleansing.” Whether one dresses Krsna or cleanses the temple, the spiritual benefit one receives is the same. Don’t think, “I am only a cleanser, and he is a dresser.” No, the person who is dressing the Deity and the person who is cleansing the temple are the same because Krsna is absolute. Therefore, one should engage in Krsna’s service in any way, and one’s life will be successful. This is the Krsna consciousness movement.
By the grace of Kuntidevi we can understand that Krsna, Vasudeva, is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The word vasudeva also indicates that the Lord is understood when one comes to the platform of pure goodness, which is also called vasudeva, or visuddha-sattva. Sattvam visuddham vasudeva-sabditam (Bhag. 4.3.23). To understand the Supreme Lord, we must first come to the platform of sattva, goodness, but goodness here in the material world is sometimes contaminated by the lower qualities ignorance and passion. By hearing about Krsna, however, one comes to the platform of pure goodness. Srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah punya-sravana-kirtanah [SB 1.2.17]. We should try to hear and chant about Krsna always, twenty-four hours a day, and in this way the dirty things will be cleansed from our hearts. It is not that one should only attend a bhagavata-saptaha, an official reading of Srimad-Bhagavatam for seven days. That is another form of exploitation. In the Bhagavatam it is said, nasta-prayesv abhadresu nityam bhagavata-sevaya [SB 1.2.18]. The word nityam means “daily” or “twenty-four hours a day.” One should always read Srimad-Bhagavatam and carry out the order of one’s spiritual master. The word bhagavata may refer either to the spiritual master or to the book Srimad-Bhagavatam. So one should always serve the person bhagavata or the book Bhagavata. Bhagavaty uttama-sloke bhaktir bhavati naisthiki. Then one will be fixed immovably (naisthiki) in devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
In this way, one should realize the benefits of the Krsna consciousness movement by the prescribed spiritual process and try to distribute these benefits to other people. To awaken the dormant Krsna consciousness of others is the greatest welfare activity in the world. We can actually see that devotees who were not Krsna conscious four or five years ago have been awakened and are now Krsna conscious. Similarly, others can be awakened also. There is no difficulty. The process is the same.
By following in the footsteps of devotees like Kunti, we shall be able to understand Krsna’s identity. For example, we may ask a person’s identity by asking, “What is your father’s name?” So Srimad-Bhagavatam presents God with His father’s name, His mother’s name, and even His address. We are not impersonalists with a vague idea of God. If one takes advantage of the Krsna consciousness movement, one can understand God perfectly and completely.
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