O most pious mother, I shall now explain unto you the ancient yoga system, which I explained formerly to the great sages. It is serviceable and practical in every way.
The Lord does not manufacture a new system of yoga. Sometimes it is claimed that someone has become an incarnation of God and is expounding a new theological aspect of the Absolute Truth. But here we find that although Kapila Muni is the Lord Himself and is capable of manufacturing a new doctrine for His mother, He nevertheless says, “I shall just explain the ancient system that I once explained to the great sages because they were also anxious to hear about it.” When we have a superexcellent process already present in Vedic scriptures, there is no need to concoct a new system, to mislead the innocent public. At present it has become a fashion to reject the standard system and present something bogus in the name of a newly invented process of yoga.
The supreme ancient system of yoga pertains to the soul. Presently, in America especially, hatha-yoga is very popular. It appeals to fat ladies who go to the classes to reduce and keep their digestive systems regular. Many people are interested in this kind of gymnastic yoga, but real yoga is adhyatmika. Adhyatmika means to awaken the soul to his proper position. The soul is purusa, spirit, and his business is to reconnect his lost relationship with Krsna.
Herein Kapiladeva says that He previously delivered this yoga system to the great rsis, the great sages. This is the process of sravana, hearing. One must be very eager to hear, for spiritual life begins with hearing.
na bhaved grahyam indriyaih
sevonmukhe hi jihvadau
svayam eva sphuraty adah
It is thus stated in the sastras that it is not possible to appreciate or understand Krsna with our blunt material senses. Krsna’s name, form, qualities, pastimes, paraphernalia and abode are all part and parcel of Krsna. However, understanding Krsna begins with hearing and chanting His name. Then there is His form. Generally, for the neophyte, these items are essential—to hear His name and qualities and see and worship His form. That is Krsna’s personal instruction:
“Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, offer obeisances and worship Me.” (Bg. 9.34)
Bhagavan Sri Krsna is present in the temple Deity, and even if a child comes to offer his respects, he is counted as a devotee. A small child may not know anything, but simply by seeing the Deity, chanting and dancing, he is benefited. Temples are meant to give everyone a chance to advance in Krsna consciousness one step at a time.
“A little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear.” (Bg. 2.40) Even if we do a little on the path of bhakti, it goes to our account. For instance, if we deposit only two dollars in a savings bank, it is kept in our account, and it will increase with interest. Similarly, if one performs even a little devotional service, it is not lost. One may come and join this Krsna consciousness movement, render some service and after a while fall down. However, whatever service has been rendered is to one’s permanent credit. That will never be lost. When one begins again, he begins at the point where he has left off. This is the instruction of Bhagavad-gita (6.41):
The unsuccessful yogi is born into a family of righteous people or into a family of rich aristocracy.” Thus if one fails to perfect his bhakti-yoga, he is given another chance in the next life. According to a Bengali poem:
If one takes to Krsna consciousness, even if he is born in a family of a cobbler (muci), he becomes greater than a brahmana (suci). However, if one is born in a brahmana family and gives up Krsna consciousness, he becomes a muci, a cobbler. Thus the door of devotion is open to everyone, whoever he may be. Krsna Himself says that regardless of one’s position, if one takes shelter of Him, one can approach the supreme destination.
mam hi partha vyapasritya
ye ’pi syuh papa-yonayah
striyo vaisyas tatha sudras
te ’pi yanti param gatim
“O son of Prtha, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth—women, vaisyas [merchants], as well as sudras [workers]—can approach the supreme destination.” (Bg. 9.32) And Sukadeva Gosvami says:
abhira-sumbha yavanah khasadayah
ye ’nye ca papa yad-apasrayasrayah
sudhyanti tasmai prabhavisnave namah
“Kirata, Huna, Andhra, Pulinda, Pulkasa, Abhira, Sumbha, Yavana and the Khasa races and even others who are addicted to sinful acts can be purified by taking shelter of the devotees of the Lord, due to His being the supreme power. I beg to offer my respectful obeisances unto Him.” (Bhag. 2.4.18) Krsna consciousness is so complete that it is all-embracing. Everyone has an occupational duty as a brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya or sudra, but one does not have to give up his occupational duty to take to Krsna consciousness. And if one takes to Krsna consciousness but does not succeed, what has he lost? Even if he falls down, there is no loss. On the other hand, if a man perfectly performs his own duties (sva-dharma) but is not Krsna conscious, what does he gain? There is actually no gain. Kapiladeva explains that once one takes to the path of bhakti-yoga, one never actually falls down. Once begun, bhakti-yoga continues, even if one temporarily falls down. One is given another chance by taking birth in a good family, either in a wealthy family, a learned family or a brahmana family. If one executes his duties as a brahmana, Visnu will be very pleased, and if one executes his duties perfectly as a ksatriya or sudra, Visnu will also be very pleased. One does not have to change one’s position. In Bhagavad-gita (18.46) Sri Krsna says that every man can become perfect by following his qualities of work:
“By worship of the Lord, who is the source of all beings and who is all-pervading, man can, in the performance of his own duty, attain perfection.” Thus if one executes his duties as a perfect ksatriya, vaisya, sudra or whatever, Visnu will be pleased. The purpose of work is to please Visnu. Unfortunately, people have forgotten this. Varnasrama-dharma, the Vedic system of society, is therefore very important in that it is meant to give human beings a chance to perfect their lives by pleasing Krsna. Unfortunately, the varnasrama-dharma has been lost in this age. Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu, just to give relief to the rotting, conditioned souls of this age of Kali-yuga, has given us the maha-mantra.
harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva
nasty eva gatir anyatha
“In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, the only means of deliverance is chanting of the holy name of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.” (Brhan-naradiya Purana) Although we may try to revive the perfect varnasrama system, it is not possible in this age. People are fallen, disturbed and unfortunate:
“O learned one, in this iron age of Kali men have but short lives. They are quarrelsome, lazy, misguided, unlucky and, above all, always disturbed.” (Bhag. 1.1.10) In this age, there will be insufficient rainfall and food, and the government will plunder one’s income by heavy taxation. All of these characteristics of Kali-yuga are described in Srimad-Bhagavatam. People will become so disgusted that they will suddenly leave their wife and children and go to the forest. How can the peaceful varnasrama-dharma be revived when people are so harassed in this age? It is virtually impossible. Therefore the system of bhakti-yoga, the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, should be adopted. The whole aim of bhakti-yoga is to satisfy Visnu. Yajnaih sankirtana-prayaih: Visnu, Krsna, came Himself as Caitanya Mahaprabhu to teach us the way of sankirtana. Presently it has become fashionable to manufacture a new system of religion, but Kapiladeva, like Krsna, does not manufacture anything new. This system is not new, but very old (pura). Krsna also says the same in Bhagavad-gita (4.2), evam parampara-praptam imam rajarsayo viduh: “This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way.” Thus Krsna and Kapiladeva are not teaching anything new. They are simply repeating the same message because, in the course of time, the knowledge has been lost. Arjuna asks, “Why are you telling me? Why not another?” Sri Krsna answers, bhakto ’si me sakha ceti: “Because you are My devotee as well as My friend.” (Bg. 4.3)
Thus without being a bhakta, a devotee of Krsna’s, one cannot actually understand the science of bhakti-yoga. Understanding Bhagavad-gita means understanding Krsna. All this information is explained only in the bhakti-sampradaya, not in any other school. Therefore Krsna says at the conclusion of Bhagavad-gita (18.55), bhaktya mam abhijanati: if one actually wants to understand Krsna and one’s relationship with Him, one must take to this process of bhakti-yoga. Bhakti-yoga as explained by Lord Kapiladeva is sankhya-yoga.
Lord Kapiladeva states here:
The word anaghe refers to one without sin. The word agha refers to past sins, and an means “without.” Therefore one cannot understand Krsna consciousness unless he is free from sin. Yesam tv anta-gatam papam: one can stick to Krsna consciousness only when one is completely free from all sinful reactions. One may say, “That will take some time. I cannot get free from sinful reactions overnight.” However, Krsna says, “No, no. This can be done immediately. Simply surrender unto Me, and I will absolve you from all sin.” Thus by simply surrendering unto Krsna, our spiritual life begins.
We have to understand that we receive different bodies due to our sinful actions. Now we are given a chance to execute our duty in the human form. Bahunam janmanam ante [Bg. 7.19]. We have received this body through the evolutionary processes, and this human form is a great opportunity. Narottama dasa Thakura sings: hari hari viphale janama gonainu: “My dear Lord Krsna, I have simply wasted my time.” Why?
“Because I have received the human form of life, which is meant for understanding Krsna, yet I have simply wasted my time by not taking advantage of this opportunity. I have done everything but worship Radha-Krsna. Therefore I have taken poison knowingly.” When one takes poison knowingly, he commits suicide, and not taking advantage of the human form is something like that. If we do not understand Krsna in this life, we are knowingly taking poison. This material life is just like a blazing forest fire. Eating, sleeping, enjoying sex and defending are the main material activities. When we are engaged simply in these things, our hearts are always burning as if we had taken poison. How can we be cured?
“My dear Lord, You have given us the medicine of hari-nama-sankirtana, the chanting of Hare Krsna. Unfortunately, I have no attraction for Your holy names.” It is also stated:
“Krsna has now come as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the son of mother Saci. And Balarama has come as Lord Nityananda.” What is Their business? They are delivering all kinds of sinful men simply by chanting Hare Krsna. And what is the evidence of this? The evidence is that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu delivered the sinful Jagai and Madhai. At the present moment everyone is like Jagai and Madhai, for everyone is intoxicated and mad after sex. Now, by the grace of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, thousands of Jagais and Madhais are being delivered. It is this active medicine, this Hare Krsna maha-mantra, that is doing it. It is the perfect yoga system. This process is not manufactured, and we have not concocted anything. Our business is simply to accept the words of Krsna as they are. Sri Krsna Himself characterizes His devotee in this way:
“Always chanting My glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion.” (Bg. 9.14)
We do not need to be very learned. Our only requirement is that we receive the blessings of the Lord. The Lord’s blessings will enable us to become learned and follow His instructions. We only need to stick to this Krsna consciousness movement on the basis of Bhagavad-gita. When we are a little further advanced, we can read Srimad-Bhagavatam. Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself has opened the way with this sankirtana movement. The entire world is in darkness without Krsna consciousness, and in this age people are so dull that they do not even know the difference between mukti (liberation) and bandha (bondage). If a human being does not know this difference, he is no better than an animal.
Presently we are under the sway of the three gunas, the modes of material nature—sattva-guna, rajo-guna and tamo-guna. Out of these three gunas, sattva-guna, the mode of goodness, is the best. A brahmana, characterized by the mode of goodness, is truthful and self-controlled. He controls his mind and senses, and he is very tolerant and simple. He has full knowledge, and he knows how to apply knowledge in life. He has full faith in the authority of the Vedas, a quality called astikyam. Caitanya Mahaprabhu has explained the difference between nastikyam and astikyam. According to Vedic understanding, one who does not believe in the Vedas is called nastika. Caitanya Mahaprabhu says: veda na maniya bauddha haya ta ’nastika (Cc. Madhya 6.168). Lord Buddha defied Vedic authority, but His mission was to stop animal killing. In the Vedas there are recommendations for animal sacrifice, and therefore to prevent the killing of animals, Lord Buddha rejected the Vedas. Such sacrifice is not possible in this age because there is no brahmana qualified to carry it out. Those who are intelligent know that such a sacrifice cannot be successful in this age because no one knows the proper mantras capable of giving an old animal the body of a new animal. When an animal sacrifice is properly conducted, an old animal is sacrificed, and it emerges from the fire in a new body. This is not possible in this age, but what is possible is sankirtana-yajna, the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. This is the yajna, or sacrifice, especially intended for this age. We need only chant Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. By performing this yajna, the results will be ceto-darpana-marjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12]—the mirror of the mind will be cleansed. When the mirror of the mind is cleansed, one is automatically liberated.
Consciousness is the main principle, either for conditional life or for liberated life. We are therefore proposing Krsna consciousness, which means liberation from the repetition of birth and death. Unfortunately, people are so dull in this age that they have no idea how birth and death can be stopped. They think that birth and death cannot be stopped; even famous scientists admit this. However, in Bhagavad-gita Sri Krsna says that we should always keep in mind the four miserable conditions. These are birth, old age, disease and death. When we are able to put an end to these, we are liberated. This simply requires that we clear our consciousness by thinking of Krsna. The purpose of this Krsna consciousness movement is to keep our minds constantly on Krsna. Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He is a person. When He was realized by Arjuna, He was addressed as purusam. God is purusa, male, not female. purusa means “the enjoyer,” and prakrti means “the enjoyed.” Everything is enjoyed by the supreme purusa. It is also stated that we are actually prakrti, not purusa. The human dress is simply maya, illusion. We are thinking that we are purusa, the enjoyer, but actually we are the enjoyed. A man, thinking of enjoying himself, tries to imitate purusa, but actually he is prakrti. As a consequence, he is cast into this material world. Because the living entity wants to enjoy the material world and is attached to the three gunas, he receives different types of bodies. One who is in the mode of goodness receives the body of a learned brahmana. This is somewhat elevated, for he can gradually understand what is God. In the modes of passion and ignorance, no one can understand God. Also, from the material point of view, if one is situated in the mode of goodness, he can be elevated to higher planetary systems. Nonetheless, even if one goes to Brahmaloka, the highest planet in the material atmosphere, one is not actually perfectly situated. There is really no benefit because even on Brahmaloka the four miseries of material existence are found: birth, old age, disease and death. Lord Brahma also dies and takes birth. From Vedic literatures we understand that Lord Brahma took birth from the lotus flower generated from the navel of Visnu. Thus he had his birth, and when Lord Brahma dies, the entire material cosmic manifestation will be finished. Just as Lord Brahma undergoes birth, old age, disease and death, so also a small ant or insect undergoes the same process. The point is that the living entity has to be free from this bondage because he is by nature eternal. According to Bhagavad-gita, the living entity never actually takes birth, and he never actually dies. Na jayate mriyate va kadacit: “For the soul there is never birth nor death.” (Bg. 2.20)
It is the body that is destined to die, whether the body be that of Lord Brahma or of a small ant. One should not think that one is liberated because one can live millions and millions of years. The life of Lord Brahma covers millions of earth years, yet he is also subjected to birth and death. That is the way of conditional life. We should take advantage of the perfect knowledge given by Vedic literatures, by the great rsis and Bhagavan Kapiladeva, as well as by Bhagavan Sri Krsna, in order to attain liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
Receiving Krsna consciousness means receiving light. People are exhausted with the materialistic way of life, especially in the West. Now the Krsna consciousness movement is giving new life to Western society. By nature, we living entities are liberated. There is actually no question of birth, death, old age and disease. Since we are part and parcel of Krsna, the Supreme Lord, how can there be a question of these things? Krsna is sac-cid-ananda-vigraha [Bs. 5.1], and being part and parcel of Krsna, we are also of the same nature. We are equal in quality, although not in quantity. Why, then, should we suffer the pangs of death? Therefore in the previous verse Kapiladeva instructed: yoga adhyatmikah pumsam mato nihsreyasaya. The soul is entrapped in the body, and the process of perfect yoga is the process of saving the soul from bodily confinement and the four miseries that plague the body. How can this perfect yoga be attained? That is explained by Lord Kapila in the next verse: ratam va pumsi muktaye. If our consciousness is simply attached to Krsna, we will be liberated.
The great souls are always chanting about Krsna. Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. They are also endeavoring with great determination in their devotional service. For instance, in the Krsna consciousness temples the devotees rise early in the morning, at 4:00 A.M., and they immediately bathe. Then they go to mangala-arati at 4:30, and after mangala-arati they study the Vedic literatures. These are the processes by which we can awaken our dormant love for Krsna. Because we are part and parcel of Krsna—just as a son is part and parcel of his father—there is a natural love between us. However, somehow or other the son leaves home and forgets his father. The father, of course, never forgets his son. He thinks, “Oh, my son has left. If he would only come back!” Krsna thinks in this way. We are all sons of Krsna, and Krsna is more anxious to get us back home, back to Godhead, than we are to go. Therefore Krsna comes and says, “You rascal! Give up all this nonsensical material engagement. You have manufactured so many religions and dharmas. Just give them all up and simply surrender unto Me.” Krsna comes Himself and leaves behind His words. His words are also Himself because His words are absolute. Presently we do not see Krsna, but if we actually advance, we will see Him. When we see the Deity in the temple, we think, “Oh, this is an idol. It is not Krsna.” If we think in this way, we have not seen Krsna. Krsna is also present in His words, in Bhagavad-gita. That is krsna-vani, the message of Krsna. The stage of awareness of Krsna can be attained when one is advanced in Krsna consciousness. Then one can understand that Krsna is present in the Deity, in Bhagavad-gita, in the taste of water, in the sunshine, in the moonshine and in all sound. Krsna is present everywhere, but one has to acquire knowledge in order to know how to see Krsna. That is mukti, liberation. That is Krsna consciousness. That is also the process of bhakti-yoga—sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam... [SB 7.5.23]. Deity worship is arcanam, chanting is vandanam, and dasyam is working for Krsna and spreading this Krsna consciousness movement.
Generally we experience that people are primarily interested in seeing Krsna, but why is the emphasis on seeing? Let us hear about Him. We must come with a little faith, and as we hear, that faith will increase. One should come to the temple, listen to talks about Krsna, and then, after some time, officially take initiation into the service of the Lord. That is called bhajana-kriya. At that time one has to abandon illicit sex, intoxication, meat-eating and gambling. If one is still attached to all these habits, he should know that he is not making progress. When one is actually advanced in bhajana-kriya, all these anarthas (unwanted things) will be finished. param drstva nivartate. When one appreciates something better, he rejects all kinds of nonsense. Once one gets a taste of Krsna consciousness, he cannot remain without it. A drunkard cannot remain without a drink, but a devotee is drunk with Krsna consciousness. The immunization against all material diseases is this Krsna consciousness. To be immuned to the infection of the gunas, we have to engage in bhakti-yoga. Once we attain the perfectional stage, we attain ecstatic love of Godhead. In that state we cannot remain without Krsna for a moment. That is called bhava, and that bhava may increase to maha-bhava. This is not possible for ordinary human beings, but it was possible for the gopis and Radharani. Indeed, they could not live without Krsna. This is the highest stage of liberation.
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