Chapter Six
The Master of the Senses
yatha hrsikesa khalena devaki
kamsena ruddhaticiram sucarpita
vimocitaham ca sahatmaja vibho
tvayaiva nathena muhur vipad-ganat
O Hrsikesa, master of the senses and Lord of lords, You have released Your mother, Devaki, who was long imprisoned and distressed by the envious King Kamsa, and me and my children from a series of constant dangers.
—Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.23
Devaki, the mother of Krsna and sister of King Kamsa, was put into prison along with her husband, Vasudeva, because the envious King was afraid of being killed by Devaki’s eighth son (Krsna). The King killed all the sons of Devaki who were born before Krsna, but Krsna escaped the danger of child-slaughter because He was transferred to the house of Nanda Maharaja, Lord Krsna’s foster father. Kuntidevi, along with her children, was also saved from a series of dangers. But Kuntidevi was shown far more favor because Lord Krsna did not save the other children of Devaki, whereas He saved the children of Kuntidevi. This was done because Devaki’s husband, Vasudeva, was living, whereas Kuntidevi was a widow and there was none to help her except Krsna. The conclusion is that Krsna bestows more favor upon a devotee who is in greater dangers. Sometimes He puts His pure devotees in such dangers because in that condition of helplessness the devotee becomes more attached to the Lord. The more the attachment is there for the Lord, the more success is there for the devotee.
Devaki, the devotee who became the mother of Krsna, was not an ordinary woman. After all, who can become the mother of the Supreme Personality of Godhead? Krsna agrees to become the son only of the most advanced devotee. In their previous lives, Devaki and her husband underwent severe austerities, and when Krsna therefore appeared before them, wanting to give them a benediction, they told Him that they wanted a son like God. But where can there be another person equal to God? That is not possible. God is asamaurdhva; that is, no one can be equal to or greater than Him. There cannot be any competition. One cannot say, “I am God, you are God, he is God, we are all God.” No. One who says this is a dog, not God, for God is great, and He has no competitor. No one is equal to Him; everyone is lower. Ekale isvara krsna ara saba bhrtya: the only master is Krsna, God, and everyone else is His servant, including even great demigods like Brahma, Visnu, and Siva, not to speak of others. Siva-virinci-nutam. In the sastra, the Vedic scriptures, it is said that Lord Krsna is offered respect even by Lord Siva and Lord Brahma, the topmost demigods.
Above the human beings there are demigods. As we human beings are above the lower animals, above us there are demigods, the most important of whom are Lord Brahma and Lord Siva. Lord Brahma is the creator of this universe, Lord Siva is its destroyer, and Lord Visnu, who is Krsna Himself, is its maintainer. For the maintenance of this material world there are three gunas, or modes of material nature—sattva-guna (the mode of goodness), rajo-guna (the mode of passion), and tamo-guna (the mode of ignorance). Lord Visnu, Lord Brahma, and Lord Siva have each taken charge of one of these modes—Lord Visnu of sattva-guna, Lord Brahma of rajo-guna, and Lord Siva of tamo-guna. Yet these three controllers are not under the influence of the gunas. Just as the superintendent of a jail is not a prisoner but the controlling officer, so Lord Siva, Lord Visnu, and Lord Brahma control these three gunas and are not under the control of the gunas.
But above all others, the supreme controller is Krsna, who is known as Hrsikesa. The word hrsika means “senses.” We are enjoying our senses, but ultimately the controller of the senses is Krsna. Consider my hand, for example. I claim, “This is my hand. I can fight you with a good fist.” I am very much proud. But I am not the controller; the controller is Krsna, because if He withdraws my hand’s power to act, the hand will be paralyzed. Although I claim, “It is my hand, and I shall use it,” when it is paralyzed I cannot do anything. Therefore, I should understand that although I possess this hand by the grace of Krsna, I am not its controller. This is Krsna consciousness.
A sane man will think, “If this hand is ultimately controlled by Krsna, then it is meant for Krsna.” This is a commonsense understanding. I claim, “This is my hand, this is my leg, this is my ear.” Even a child will speak this way. If we ask a child, “What is this?” he will say, “It is my hand.” But regardless of what we claim, actually it is not our hand; it is given to us. Because I wanted to use my hand in so many ways, Krsna has given it to me: “All right, take this hand and use it.” So it is a gift from Krsna, and therefore a sane man always consciously thinks, “Whatever I have in my possession, beginning with this body and my senses, is actually not mine. I have been given all these possessions to use, and if everything ultimately belongs to Krsna, why not use everything for Krsna?” This is intelligence, and this is Krsna consciousness.
Everyone is part and parcel of Krsna (mamaivamso jiva-loke jiva-bhutah), and therefore everyone’s senses are also Krsna’s. When we use the senses for Krsna’s service, we attain the perfection of life. Therefore, hrsikena hrsikesa-sevanam bhaktir ucyate: [Cc. Madhya 19.170] when by our senses (hrsikena) we serve Hrsikesa, the real master of the senses, that service is called bhakti. This is a very simple definition of bhakti. Hrsikesa-sevanam, not hrsika-sevanamservice to the supreme master of the senses, not to the senses themselves. When we use our senses for sense gratification, we are in maya, illusion, but when we use our senses for the gratification of the master of the senses, that service is called bhakti.
In this material world, everyone is generally using his senses for sense gratification. That is maya, illusion, and that is the cause of one’s bondage. But when one comes to Krsna consciousness, when one becomes purified and understands that these senses are actually meant for satisfying Krsna, then he is a liberated person (mukta-purusa).
“A person who acts in the service of Krsna with his body, mind, intelligence, and words is a liberated person, even within the material world.” One should come to understand, “My senses are meant to serve the master of the senses, Hrsikesa.” The master of the senses is sitting within everyone’s heart. In the Bhagavad-gita (15.15) the Lord says, sarvasya caham hrdi sannivisto: “I am seated in everyone’s heart.” Mattah smrtir jnanam apohanam ca: “And from Me come remembrance, knowledge, and forgetfulness.”
Krsna is so merciful that if we want to use our senses in a certain way, He will give us the chance to do so. The senses are not ours; they are Krsna’s, but Krsna gives us the opportunity to use them according to our desires. For example, each of us has a tongue, and suppose we want to eat stool. We may say, “Krsna, I want to taste stool,” and Krsna will say, “Yes, take this body of a hog and eat stool.” The master is present—Krsna. He will give us an appropriate body and remind us, “My dear living entity, you wanted to eat stool. Now you have the proper body in which to do so.” Similarly, if one wants to become a demigod, Krsna will give one a chance to do that also. There are 8,400,000 forms of life, and if one wants to engage one’s senses in a particular type of body, Krsna will give one the chance: “Come on. Here is the body you want. Take it.” But eventually one will become exasperated by using one’s senses. Ultimately one will become senseless. Therefore Krsna says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja [Bg. 18.66]: “Don’t act like this. Your senses are meant for serving Me. You are misusing your senses and are therefore being entrapped in different types of bodies. Therefore, to get relief from this tedious business of accepting one body and then giving it up to accept another and again another in continued material existence, just give up this process of sense gratification and surrender unto Me. Then you will be saved.” This is Krsna consciousness.
At the present moment, our senses are contaminated. I am thinking, “I am American, so my senses should be used for the service of my country, my society, my nation.” Or else I am thinking, “I am Indian, and my senses are Indian senses, and therefore they should be used for India.” In ignorance, one does not know that the senses belong to Krsna. Instead, one thinks that one has American senses, Indian senses, or African senses. This is called maya, illusion. In material life, the senses are covered by designations such as “ American,” “Indian,” and “ African,” but when our senses are no longer contaminated by all these designations (sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam [Cc. Madhya 19.170]), bhakti begins.
To think “I am an American. Why shall I take to Krsna consciousness and worship a Hindu god?” is foolishness. If one thinks, “I am Muhammadan,” “I am Christian,” or “I am Hindu,” one is in illusion. One must purify the senses so that one can understand, “I am a spirit soul, and the supreme spirit soul is Krsna. I am part and parcel of Krsna, and therefore it is my duty to serve Krsna.” When one thinks in this way, one immediately becomes free. At that time, one is no longer American, Indian, African, this, or that. At that time, one is Krsna-ized, or Krsna conscious. That is what is wanted. Therefore Kuntidevi says, “My dear Krsna, Hrsikesa, You are the master of the senses.”
For sense gratification we have fallen into this material condition and are suffering in different varieties of life. Because this is the material world, even Krsna’s mother was put into suffering. Devaki was so advanced that she became the mother of Krsna, but still she was put into difficulties by her own brother, Kamsa. That is the nature of this material world. The living entities in this world are so jealous that if one’s personal interest is hampered, one will immediately be ready to give trouble to others, even to one’s nearest relatives.
The word khala means “jealous.” This material world is a world of jealousy and envy. I am envious of you, and you are envious of me. The Krsna consciousness movement, however, is meant for one who is no longer jealous or envious. By becoming free from jealousy and envy, one becomes a perfect person. Dharmah projjhita-kaitavo ’tra paramo nirmatsaranam satam (Bhag. 1.1.2). Those who are jealous and envious are within this material world, and those who are not are in the spiritual world. Therefore, we can test ourselves. If we are jealous or envious of our friends or other associates, we are in the material world, and if we are not jealous we are in the spiritual world. There need be no doubt of whether we are spiritually advanced or not. We can test ourselves. Bhaktih paresanubhavo viraktir anyatra ca (Bhag. 11.2.42). When we eat, we can understand for ourselves whether our hunger is satisfied; we don’t have to take a certificate from others. Similarly, we can test for ourselves whether we are in the material world or the spiritual world. If we are jealous or envious, we are in the material world, and if we are not we are in the spiritual world.
If one is not jealous, one can serve Krsna very well, because jealousy and envy begin with being jealous of Krsna. For example, some philosophers think, “Why should Krsna be God? I am also God.” This is the beginning of material life—to be envious of Krsna. “Why should Krsna be the enjoyer?” they think. “I shall also be the enjoyer. Why should Krsna enjoy the gopis? I shall become Krsna and make a society of gopis and enjoy.” This is maya. No one but Krsna can be the enjoyer. Krsna therefore says in Bhagavad-gita, bhoktaram yajna: “I am the only enjoyer.” If we supply ingredients for Krsna’s enjoyment, we attain the perfection of life. But if we want to imitate Krsna, thinking, “I shall become God and enjoy like Him,” then we are in maya. Our natural position is to provide enjoyment for Krsna. In the spiritual world, for example, Krsna enjoys, and the gopis, the transcendental cowherd girls, supply the ingredients for Krsna’s enjoyment. This is bhakti.
Bhakti is a relationship between master and servant. The servant’s duty is to serve the master, and the master supplies whatever the servant needs.
nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam
eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman
(Katha Upanisad 2.2.13)
The Vedic literature informs us that Krsna can supply all the necessities for one’s life. There is no scarcity and no economic problem. We simply have to try to serve Krsna, and then everything will be complete.
If Krsna desires, there may be ample supplies. In America, for example, there is an ample supply of everything needed, although in other countries this is not so. For instance, when I went to Switzerland I saw that everything there is imported. The only thing supplied locally is snow. This is all under Krsna’s control. If one becomes a devotee, one will be amply supplied with food, and if one does not become a devotee one will be covered with snow. Everything is under Krsna’s control, so actually there is no scarcity. The only scarcity is a scarcity of Krsna consciousness.
Of course, the world is full of dangers. But Kuntidevi says, “Because Devaki is Your devotee, You saved her from the distresses imposed upon her by her envious brother.” As soon as Devaki’s brother heard that his sister’s eighth son would kill him, he was immediately ready to kill Devaki. But Devaki’s husband pacified him. It is the duty of a husband to protect his wife, and therefore Devaki’s husband said, “My dear brother-in-law, why are you envious of your sister? After all, your sister will not kill you; it is her son who will kill you. That is the problem. So I shall deliver all the sons to you, and then you may do whatever you like with them. Why should you kill this innocent, newly married girl? She is your younger sister, and you should protect her, just as you would protect your daughter. Why should you kill her?” In this way he placated Kamsa, who believed Vasudeva’s word that he would bring all the sons so that if Kamsa wanted he could kill them. Vasudeva thought, “Let me save the present situation. After all, if Kamsa later gets a nephew, he may forget this envy.” But Kamsa never forgot. Instead, he kept Devaki and Vasudeva in prison for a long time (ati-ciram) and killed all their sons. Finally, Krsna appeared and saved Vasudeva and Devaki.
Therefore, we must depend on Krsna, like Devaki and Kunti. After Kunti became a widow, the envious Dhrtarastra was always planning ways to kill her sons, the five Pandavas. “Because by chance I was born blind,” he thought, “I could not inherit the throne of the kingdom, and instead it went to my younger brother. Now he is dead, so at least my sons should get the throne.” This is the materialistic propensity. One thinks, “1 shall be happy. My sons will be happy. My community will be happy. My nation will be happy.” This is extended selfishness. No one is thinking of Krsna and how Krsna will be happy. Rather, everyone is thinking in terms of his own happiness: “How shall I be happy? How will my children, my community, my society, and my nation be happy?” Everywhere we shall find this. Everyone is struggling for existence, not thinking of how Krsna will be happy. Krsna consciousness is very sublime. We should try to understand it from Srimad-Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita and try to engage our senses for the service of the master of the senses (hrsikena hrsikesa-sevanam [Cc. Madhya 19.170]). Then we shall actually be happy.

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