Knowledge Beyond Samsara
Krsna specifically states that this process of Krsna consciousness is susukham, very pleasant and easy to practice. Indeed, the devotional process is very pleasant; we melodiously sing with instruments, and someone will listen and also join (sravanam kirtanam). Of course the music should be in relation with the Supreme Lord, in glorification of Him. Hearing Bhagavad-gita is also part of devotional service, and in addition to hearing it one should be eager to apply it in his life. Krsna consciousness is a science and should not be accepted blindly. There are nine processes of devotional service recommended (hearing, chanting, remembering, worshiping, praying, serving, engaging as a servitor of the Lord, establishing friendly relations with the Lord, offering everything to the Lord). These are all easy to practice and should be joyfully performed.
Of course if one thinks that Bhagavad-gita and the Hare Krsna mantra are part of the Hindu system and doesn’t want to accept them because of this, he can nonetheless attend the Christian church and sing there. There is no difference between this process and that process; the point is whatever process one follows, he must become God conscious. God is neither Moslem nor Hindu nor Christian—He is God. Nor are we to be considered Hindu, Moslem or Christian. These are bodily designations. We are all pure spirit, part and parcel of the Supreme. God is pavitram, pure, and we are also pure. Somehow or other, however, we have fallen into this material ocean, and as the waves toss, we suffer. Actually we have nothing to do with the tossing waves of material miseries. We must simply pray, “Krsna, please pick me up.” As soon as we forget Krsna, the ocean of illusion is there, and it at once captures us. The chanting of Hare Krsna is most important in order to escape from this ocean. Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare is a sound (sabda) that is non-different from Krsna. The sound Krsna and the original Krsna are the same. When we chant Hare Krsna and dance, Krsna is also dancing with us. Of course we may say, “Well, I do not see Him,” but why do we put so much stress on seeing? Why not hearing? Seeing, tasting, smelling, touching, and hearing are all instruments for experience and knowledge. Why do we put such exclusive stress on seeing? A devotee does not wish to see Krsna; he is satisfied by simply hearing of Krsna. Seeing may eventually be there, but hearing should not be considered any less important. There are things which we hear but do not see—the wind may be whistling past our ears, and we can hear it, but there is no possibility of seeing the wind. Since hearing is no less an important experience or valid one than seeing, we can hear Krsna and realize His presence through sound. Sri Krsna Himself says, “I am not there in My abode, or in the heart of the meditating yogi but where my pure devotees are singing.” We can feel the presence of Krsna as we actually make progress.
It is not that we should simply take things from Krsna and offer Him nothing. Everyone is taking something from God, so why not give something? We are taking from Krsna so much light, air, food, water and so on. Unless these resources are supplied by Krsna, no one can live. Is it love to simply keep taking and taking and taking without ever offering anything in return? Love means taking and giving also. If we just take from someone and give him nothing in return, that is not love—it is exploitation. It is not that we should just continue eating without ever offering anything to Krsna. In Bhagavad-gita Krsna says:
“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it. O son of Kunti, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you perform, should be done as an offering unto Me.” (Bg. 9.26–27)
In addition to giving and receiving, in the execution of devotional service one has to submit to Krsna whatever distress or confidential problem he has. He should say, “Krsna, I am suffering in this way. I have fallen in this tossing ocean of material illusion. Kindly pick me up. I understand now that am simply put here, as if thrown into the Atlantic Ocean. I may not in any way identify with the Atlantic Ocean, but I am subject to the tossing of the ocean. Actually I am a spiritual spark, a fragmental part of You.” To our misfortune, we try to identify with this ocean and stop its tossing. We must not try to stop the tossing. It is not possible. In any case, the tossing will go on, for that is the law of nature. Only the foolish try to adjust to this world; the real problem is how to get out of it. Those who do attempt to adjust and who never turn to Krsna are continually subject to transmigration in the ocean of birth and death.
“Those who are not faithful on the path of devotional service cannot attain Me, O conqueror of foes, but return to birth and death in this material world.” (Bg. 9.3)
By definition, religion is that which connects us with God. If it is not capable of connecting us with God, it is no religion. Religion means searching for God, understanding God and establishing a relationship with God. This is religion. Those who are engaged in devotional service are acting for Krsna or God, and since in this way there is connection with God, Krsna consciousness is a religion.
It is not possible to manufacture a religion. A true religion must come from an authorized source, and that source is either God or His representative. Religion has been called the law of God. It is not possible for a person to manufacture a State law. The law is there, and it is given by the State. One may create some bylaws for his own society, but these laws must be sanctioned by the law of the State. Similarly, if we wish to make some principle of religion, it must be sanctioned by the Vedic authority.
Bhagavad-gita is also religion. Great authorities like Ramanujacarya, Madhvacarya, Visnusvami, Lord Caitanya, Sankaracarya, and so many others have accepted Bhagavad-gita as the supreme principle of religion and Krsna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There is no doubt about it. In the West also Bhagavad-gita is accepted as a great book of philosophy, and many great scholars and philosophers in the West have read it and commented upon it. Despite acceptance by the scholars and acaryas, there are persons who do not accept Bhagavad-gita and who have no faith. They do not accept it at all as authority, for they think that it is some sentimental exaggeration by a man known as Krsna. Thus Krsna states in the above quoted verse that those who reject Bhagavad-gita as authority cannot have any connection with Him, and because they have no relation to Him, they remain in the cycle of birth and death. Aprapya mam nivartante mrtyu-samsara-vartmani. Being subjected to samsara, the cycle of birth and death, does not guarantee that one will necessarily get a similar facility for understanding Bhagavad-gita in the next life. One may not necessarily be born again as a human being, or in America, or in India, or even on this planet. There is no certainty; it all depends on our work. On the path of birth and death we take our birth, remain for some time, enjoy or suffer, then again give up this body and enter into the womb of a mother, either human being or animal, then prepare another body to come out and begin our work again. This is called mrtyu-samsara-vartmani. If one wants to avoid this path, he must take to Krsna consciousness.
When Yudhisthira Maharaja was asked, “What is the most wonderful thing in the world?” he replied, “The most wonderful thing is that every day, every moment, people are dying, and yet everyone thinks that death will not come for him.” Every minute and every second we experience that living entities are going to the temple of death. Men, insects, animals, birds—everyone is going. This world, therefore, is called mrtyuloka—the planet of death. Every day there are obituaries, and if we bother to go to the cemetery or crematorium grounds we can validate them. Yet everyone is thinking, “Somehow or other I’ll live.” Everyone is subject to the law of death, yet no one takes it seriously. This is illusion. Thinking we will live forever, we go on doing whatever we like, feeling that we will never be held responsible. This is a very risky life, and it is the densest part of illusion. We should become very serious and understand that death is waiting. We have heard the expression, “as sure as death.” This means that in this world death is the most certain thing; no one can avoid it. When death comes, no longer will our puffed-up philosophy or advanced degrees help us. At that time our stout and strong body and our intelligence—which don’t care for anything—are vanquished. At that time the fragmental portion (jivatma) comes under the dictation of material nature, and prakrti (nature) gives us the type of body for which we are fit. If we want to take this risk, we can avoid Krsna; if we don’t want to take it, Krsna will come to help us.
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