Chapter Twenty-one
What Is Our Actual Value?
As the name and fame of a particular body is finished with the disappearance of the living spirit, similarly, if You do not look upon us, all our fame and activities, along with the Pandavas and Yadus, will end at once.
—Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.38
Kuntidevi is quite aware that the existence of the Pandavas is due to Sri Krsna only. The Pandavas are undoubtedly well established in name and fame and are guided by the great King Yudhisthira, who is morality personified, and the Yadus are undoubtedly great allies, but without the guidance of Lord Krsna all of them are nonentities, as much as the senses of the body are useless without the guidance of consciousness. No one should be proud of his prestige, power, and fame without being guided by the favor of the Supreme Lord. The living beings are always dependent, and the ultimate dependable object is the Lord Himself. We may, therefore, invent by our advancement of material knowledge all sorts of counteracting material resources, but without being guided by the Lord all such inventions end in fiasco, however strong and stout the reactionary elements may be.
As soon as an important man dies, his name and form become unimportant, even though he may have been a big scientist, politician, or philosopher. As long as we are alive our name, form, and activities are glorious, but as soon as the life is gone the body is but a lump of matter. When an important man is alive he may have so many guards, and no one can go before him or touch him, but when the same man is dead and lying on the floor, one may kick him in the face, and practically no one will care. After the disappearance of the soul, the body of the important man has no value. And what is that soul? It is the energy of Krsna, and therefore it is part and parcel of Krsna. So when the energy is withdrawn—that is, when Krsna is not there—the body becomes unimportant.
Krsna’s energy and Krsna Himself are not different (sakti-saktimatayor abhedah). The sun, for example, is energetic, and the sunshine is energy. As long as the sunshine is present the sun is present, and if the sun were not present the sun’s energy would also not be there. The energy and the energetic must both exist. Although the Mayavadi philosophers do not accept the energetic but only the impersonal energy, we must accept both the energy and the energetic.
While the energy works, the energetic remains aloof, just as the sunshine spreads everywhere while the sun itself remains apart. Similarly, there is energy working throughout the cosmic manifestation. The cosmic manifestation consists of earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and false ego. These eight material elements are separated material energies (me bhinna prakrtir astadha), and we can understand that behind these energies there must be an energetic source. For example, we are using electric power, but behind this power are the powerhouse and the engineer. Rascals do not understand this. They simply see the power of this cosmic manifestation, but they do not understand that behind this power is the powermaker, the source of power. Therefore Krsna comes and says, “I am the powermaker. I am behind this power.”
Krsna Himself personally comes because we do not have the eyes to see Krsna and cannot understand Him. When we contemplate the form of God, we think that because God created millions and millions of years ago, He must be a very old man. Therefore God personally comes before us so that we can see what He is. This is His kindness. The Lord says in Bhagavad-gita (4.7):
“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself.”
God comes to this world in person, He leaves behind His instructions like those of Bhagavad-gita, and He leaves behind His devotees who can explain who God is, but still we are so stubborn that we do not accept God. This is foolishness. In Bhagavad-gita those who do not accept God are called mudhahrascals and fools.
God exists, and God’s energy also exists, so if we cannot see God we can at least see His energy. We may not see the electric powerhouse and the engineer within it generating power, but we use electricity in so many ways. Therefore we should inquire where this electricity comes from. This is intelligence, and if one inquires in this way he will eventually find the powerhouse itself. Similarly, if one studies further to find out who is running the powerhouse, one will find a human being. Although the electricity is impersonal and even the powerhouse is impersonal, the man behind everything is a person. Similarly, God is a person. This is a logical conclusion. How can He be impersonal? That which is impersonal has no intelligence. We have invented so many very wonderful machines, but the machines are not intelligent. The intelligence belongs to the operator. Therefore Krsna says, mayadhyaksena prakrtih suyate sa-caracaram: [Bg. 9.10] “You are seeing the energy displayed in the wonderful actions and reactions of this material cosmic manifestation, but don’t think that they are working independently. No, I am behind them.”
Krsna further says:
“By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them.” (Bg. 9.4) That which is avyakta, unmanifested, also has murti, a form. The sky, for example, is avyakta, unmanifest, but it also has a form—the round form of the universe. If we go to the ocean, there also we shall find a form, like that of a big circle. Without form there is nothing; everything has form, even that which is supposedly impersonal.
Therefore the idea that everything is zero or impersonal is foolish. Behind the impersonal feature and the so-called voidness is the supreme form—Krsna. Isvarah paramah krsnah sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah [Bs. 5.1]. The word isvara means “controller.” Nature is not controlling itself; the real controller is Krsna. Icchanurupam api yasya ca cestate sa. The Brahma-samhita (5.44) says that Prakrti, or Durga—the deity of material nature—is working under the direction of Govinda, Krsna. How is she working? Just like a shadow. Below our hand is its shadow, and as our hand moves, the shadow moves. Behind all manifestations there is motion. I have sometimes given the example of the shunting of the big cars in a railway line. The engine gives the motion and pushes one car, which then pushes another and another, and so on. Similarly, who set up the motion of the cosmic manifestation? That original motion-giver is Krsna.
Now Kuntidevi says, “We Pandavas have become famous, and people say that we are very important. Why? Because You are our friend.” Krsna was the friend of the Pandavas and specifically the friend of Arjuna, and therefore Arjuna was a great and valorous warrior. But Kuntidevi knew, “People say, ‘Oh, the Pandavas are such great warriors and heroes,’ but what is the value of my sons, the Pandavas?” Similarly, the Yadu dynasty was famous because Krsna took His birth in that family. But Kuntidevi says, ke vayam: “What are we? What is our value?” Ke vayam nama-rupabhyam: “We have our name and form, but without You it is all useless. It has no value.”
People do not understand this. They are very proud of having a nice body and a nice name. They think, “I am American,” “I am Indian,” “I am German,” and so on. But what is all this? These are simply bogus names and bogus forms with no value.
If we subtract Krsna, everything is zero. This is a fact, but people are such rascals that they do not understand this fact. But who can deny it? The American body or Indian body may have a good name, but if it has no consciousness, what is its value? No value. Therefore it is said:
“For a person devoid of devotional service to Krsna, his birth in a great family or nation, his knowledge of revealed scripture, his performance of austerities and penance, and his chanting of Vedic mantras are all like ornaments on a dead body. Such ornaments simply serve the concocted pleasures of the general populace.” (Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya 3.11)
We all have consciousness, but what is this consciousness? It is Krsna consciousness. We have forgotten Krsna, and therefore we simply say “consciousness,” but really “consciousness” means Krsna consciousness, because without Krsna we cannot have consciousness. Without the sun, how can there be sunshine? Therefore we say “sunshine,” and not just “shine.” Similarly, “consciousness” means Krsna consciousness. This requires a little intelligence to understand, but devotees like Kunti have this intelligence and understanding. Therefore Kunti says, “The Pandavas and Yadus are so important, but what is actually our value?
Because Krsna is bidding farewell, Kunti laments, “You will go, and we shall not be able to see You. What then will be the value of our name and fame?” Bhavato ’darsanam yarhi hrsikanam ivesituh. She gives the example that without Krsna they would be like the senses without life. In this material world we desire sense enjoyment, but without Krsna or without Krsna consciousness there is no possibility of sense enjoyment. We may have strong arms and legs, but when there is no consciousness—when there is no Krsna consciousness—we cannot even utilize them. An intelligent person, therefore, knows that without Krsna his senses have no value, and therefore he becomes a devotee. He rightly concludes that because there is an intimate relationship between the senses and Krsna, as long as the senses are active it is one’s duty to use the senses in the service of Krsna. This is bhakti.
To use an example I have given many times, suppose in an assembly one finds a hundred-dollar note that has fallen from someone’s pocket. If one takes that note and puts it in one’s own pocket, one is a thief because that note does not belong to him. This is called bhoga, false enjoyment. Then again, someone else may think, “Oh, why shall I touch it? It belongs to someone else. Let it remain there. I have nothing to do with it.” This is called tyaga, renunciation. So although the hundred-dollar note is the same, one person is trying to enjoy it while another is trying to give it up. But both of them—the bhogi and the tyagiare fools.
The bhogis are the karmis, those who are working very hard to exploit the resources of the material nature, like the scientists, for example, who are doing research to further such exploitation. Their intention, actually, is to steal. On the other hand, the tyagis, those who are unable to steal, have a “sour grapes” philosophy: “Oh, these things are useless. There is no need of them.” Mostly, of course, people are bhogis; that is, they are trying to use everything to enjoy sense gratification. But still there are those who are baffled in sense gratification and who therefore say, “No, no, we don’t need these things.”
Continuing the example, however, when a hundred-dollar note is found, the person who acts most properly is the one who takes it and says, “Someone has lost this note. Let me find its owner.” Upon returning that note, one renders real service. One who takes the note for himself and one who leaves the note where it is are both useless. Similarly, the bhogi and tyagi are both useless. But the bhakta, the devotee, knows that everything belongs to Krsna and should therefore be offered to Krsna. This is real service.
Everything belongs to Krsna. What is the body? It is a combination of material elements—earth, water, fire, air, and the subtle, psychological elements mind, intelligence, and false ego. Krsna claims, “All these eight elements are My separated energy.” Then how are the body and mind ours? Although I claim that the body is mine, I do not even know how it is working. A tenant in an apartment may pay rent and somehow or other occupy the apartment and enjoy its utilities, although he may not actually know how the heat and tap water are working. Similarly, although we do not know the details of how the body works, we are using this body, which actually belongs not to us but to Krsna. This is the real fact. The body consists of the senses and the mind, and therefore the senses and mind also belong to Krsna.
I am a spiritual soul, but I have been given the opportunity to utilize a certain type of material body. Because I wanted it, Krsna is so kind that He has given it to me. Ye yatha mam prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajamy aham [Bg. 4.11]. If one wants the body of a king, Krsna will give it; if one follows the prescribed method, one will get the body of a king. And if one wants the body of a hog so that one may eat stool, Krsna will give one that kind of body also. But now, in the human form of life, one should understand, “Everything belongs to Krsna, so why am I hankering to satisfy this body which is supposedly mine? Rather, now that I have this body, let me serve Krsna.” This is intelligence, and this is bhakti.
Hrsikena hrsikesa-sevanam bhaktir ucyate: [Cc. Madhya 19.170] bhakti means to use hrsika, the senses, in the service of Hrsikesa, Krsna, the master of the senses (tvaya hrsikesena hrdi sthitasya yatha karomi). Because I wanted some sense gratification, forgetting that everything actually belongs to Krsna, I have been given this body, which is a facility for sense gratification. But the senses have no value without Krsna, and therefore the natural conclusion is that the senses belong to Krsna. Therefore, since I have these senses, why not use them for Krsna’s satisfaction? This is bhakti.

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