Learning Steadiness in Krsna Consciousness
When one reaches the topmost position of material opulence, the tendency for renunciation is natural. There are two tendencies in this material world—bhoga (sense enjoyment) and tyaga (renunciation of this material world). Without guidance, however, one does not know how to renounce. First of all, one wants to enjoy, and when he is frustrated in enjoyment, he renounces. Again, when he is tired of renunciation, he enjoys, like a clock pendulum which swings from side to side. We are thus all vacillating from the platform of enjoyment to the platform of renunciation and back again.
Karmis, fruitive workers, try to enjoy this world and reap the fruits of it. Consequently, they are constantly traveling on expressways all day and night to engage in material enjoyment. On the other hand, there are others, predominantly the discontented youth, who don’t want any part of this. Thus the world contains those engaged in bhoga and those engaged in tyaga. However, we will not be happy by following either of these paths because it is not our proper position to either enjoy or renounce. Since everything belongs to Krsna and nothing belongs to anyone else, whatever we possess is actually Krsna’s property (isavasyam idam sarvam). Since we have not produced the trees, plants, waters or the land, we cannot claim them. Since we actually have nothing, we can renounce nothing, or, as it is said, naked we come into this world and naked we go out. In the interim we falsely claim, “This is my country, this is my home, this is my wife, these are my children, this is my property, this is my bank balance, etc.” Such claims are false because when we come into the world, we come in empty-handed, and when we go out, we go out empty-handed. What then is the meaning of bhoga and tyaga? In the light of the actual facts, they have no actual meaning. Bhoga is thievery, and tyaga, renunciation of what never belonged to us, is a form of lunacy.
In this regard, Krsna gives us this direction: sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja. (Bg. 18.66) Although we have created different types of religion based on bhoga and tyaga, we are thus advised to give up all of them and to surrender unto Krsna. It is not within our power to enjoy or to renounce. When renunciation is recommended in Bhagavad-gita, it refers to renunciation of everything that we falsely claim to possess. A child may take a hundred dollar bill from his father and try to keep it although he may not know how to use it. The father may beg the child, “Dear boy, kindly give it to me.” The child does not know that the money actually belongs to the father, nor does he know that he had best hand it to his father, for he simply does not know how to use it. Similarly, Krsna says, “Renounce your work for Me. Renounce your wealth and property for Me.” Krsna is not a beggar, for everything belongs to Him, but He does treat us like small children. Compliance to His request to give everything to Him is called tyaga, renunciation, and is one of the means by which one can attain elevation to Krsna consciousness. Austerity, celibacy, equanimity and charity are all required for realization of the ultimate or Absolute Truth. Krsna consciousness is not concerned with the relative truth but with the Absolute. In Srimad-Bhagavatam Vyasadeva offers his obeisances to the Supreme Absolute Truth (satyam param dhimahi). He offers his respects not to the relative categorical truths, but to the summum bonum, the Absolute Truth. It is the duty of brahmanas to practice those qualities by which the Absolute Truth can be realized.
Brahmanas must be qualified by practicing cleanliness, truthfulness, control of the mind and the senses, simplicity, and by cultivating faith in the Vedas and particularly in Bhagavad-gita. When Krsna says, “I am the Supreme Lord,” we have to accept Him with faith, not foolishly, but with full knowledge, and practically apply this acceptance in our daily life. A brahmana is not created by birth, but by education, practice and knowledge. It is not a question of birth, but quality, as pointed out by Krsna in Bhagavad-gita:
“According to the three modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them, the four divisions of human society were created by Me. And, although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the non-doer, being unchangeable.” (Bg. 4.13)
One must not only have the qualities of a brahmana, but one should also work as a brahmana, for one’s qualities are tested by his work. If one is a qualified engineer but simply sits down at home and does not work, what is his value? Similarly, unless one works as a brahmana, there is no value to his simply saying, “I am a brahmana.” One must therefore work as a brahmana by fully engaging in the service of Param Brahman, Krsna, the Supreme Brahman.
How can service to the Absolute Truth be executed? Yamena niyamena ca: the practice of yoga, or linking with the supreme, is based on the principles of regulation and control. Regulation cannot be executed without control; therefore one must be thoughtful and purify himself. If one wants to pass an examination, he has to go to school, follow the principles of the school, and take some pains in his study, and then gradually he comes to be successful. If he plays all day on the street, how can he expect success? Therefore in the process being explained by Sukadeva Gosvami, the first necessity is tapasya, austerity. Even if austerity and brahmacarya are painful because we want to be unrestricted, as soon as we are regulated, what appeared to be painful is in practice not painful.
There are two classes of men—those who are sober (dhira) and those who are extravagant (adhira). When one, in spite of provocation or in spite of the presence of a source of mental agitation, can remain steady in his position, he is called dhira. An example of a dhira is given by Kalidasa Pandita, a great Sanskrit poet who wrote a book called Kumara-sambhava, wherein he has given an example concerning Lord Siva. It appears that when the demigods were fighting the demons and were being defeated, they decided that they could be saved by a commander-in-chief born from the semina of Lord Siva. Lord Siva, however, was in meditation, and to acquire the needed semina was very difficult. They therefore sent Parvati, a young girl, who appeared before Lord Siva and worshiped his genitals. Although this young girl sat before Lord Siva and touched his genitals, Lord Siva was steady in meditation. Kalidasa says, “Here is an example of a dhira, for despite a young girl’s touching his genitals, he was undisturbed.”
Similarly, someone sent a young prostitute to disturb Haridasa Thakura, and upon hearing her appeals for intercourse, Haridasa Thakura said, “Yes, your proposal is very nice. please sit down and let me finish my chanting, and then we shall enjoy.” Morning came and the prostitute became impatient, but Haridasa Thakura replied, “I’m very sorry. I could not finish my chanting. Come tonight again.” The prostitute came for three nights, and on the third night she fell down at his feet, confessed her intentions, and pleaded with him, “I was induced to perform this act by a man who is your enemy. Kindly excuse me.” Haridasa Thakura then replied, “I know all about that, but I allowed you to come here for three days so that you could be converted and become a devotee. Now take these chanting beads, and go on chanting. I am leaving this place.” Here is another example of a dhira who has control of his body (deha), words (vac), and intelligence (buddhi). One’s body, words and intelligence should be controlled by one who is dhira and who actually knows the principles of religion.
We have been continuously committing sinful activities since time immemorial, and we do not know when this began, but this life is meant for rectification of all the mistakes that we have committed. If one sets fire to unwanted grass and creepers in a field, they will all be burned. Similarly, by the process of austerity and penance, one can liquidate all sinful activities and become purified. But Sukadeva Gosvami suggests an alternate process: kecit kevalaya bhaktya vasudeva-parayanah/ agham dhunvanti kartsnyena niharam iva bhaskarah [SB 6.1.15]. Generally, if one leads an austere and pious life of celibacy, equanimity, charity, etc., people will say that he is a very pious man, but simply by becoming Krsna conscious, one can kill all the resultant actions of his past sinful life. A fog disappears as soon as the sun rises, and Krsna rises with the brilliance of thousands of suns.
This process is accepted only by someone who is very fortunate. Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore said: brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva/ guru-krsna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija: “ By the grace of Krsna and the spiritual master, a fortunate person, after wandering throughout the universe in different species of life, receives the seed of pure devotional service.” Krsna consciousness is meant for the very fortunate, for simply by accepting this one process a person can surpass all the duties of austerity, renunciation, celibacy, etc. Sukadeva Gosvami declares: kecit kevalaya bhaktya: [SB 6.1.15] “One who is extremely fortunate takes to the process of pure devotional service.” Kevala bhakti refers to pure unalloyed devotional service in which there is no desire but to please Krsna. One should not render devotional service just to increase his income. We want money to become happy, but if we take to Krsna consciousness, automatically we will become so happy that we will neglect money. Money will automatically come. Happiness will come. There is no need to endeavor for these things separately.
It was Dhruva Maharaja who lamented, “How foolish I was that I took to devotional service with a desire for material profit.” Ordinarily for material profit one goes to his boss or some rich man or demigod, but a devotee does not go anywhere but to Krsna, even if he has material desires. If one goes to Krsna even for material advantages, the day will come when he forgets material desires, just like Dhruva Maharaja. He was repentant, and said, “I came to Krsna and asked for something material, just like one who has pleased a very rich man and who asks him for a few grains of rice.” If a rich man agrees to give us whatever we want, but we ask him only for a few grains of rice, is that very intelligent? Asking Krsna for material benefit is exactly like this. One need not ask Krsna extraneously for material happiness, for material happiness will automatically roll before his very feet, pleading, “Please take me, please take me.”
Those who are practicing Krsna consciousness are not in need of the material opulences—wives, children, happiness, home—for all is acquired automatically by the grace of Krsna. There is no need to ask Krsna for these material things, but one should simply request Him: “Please engage me in Your service.” In Bhagavad-gita Krsna also promises that if one engages in His service, He will supply what is needed and preserve whatever is already possessed. One of His final instructions to Arjuna indicates total dependence on Him:
“In all activities, and for their results, just depend upon Me, and work always under My protection. In such devotional service, be fully conscious of Me.” (Bg. 18.57)
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