So today we will be reading to you a verse from the Fourth Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam 4.8.59-60. We will read the translation and a few lines of the purport.
“The Lord fulfils all desires of one who fervently and devotedly serves and worships Him with his mind, words and body and is absorbed in activities which, according to sastras, is known as devotional service. If such a devotees aspires for fruits of material religiosity or wants to achieve economic benefits, sense enjoyment, and liberation from the material world, the Lord rewards him fulfilling these desires.
Devotional service is so powerful that one who is engaged in it can attain everything he desires by getting blessings of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Conditional souls are very much attached to the material world. Therefore they perform religious rituals for the sake of gaining material benefits in the form of dharma and artha.
This verse is from the story that describes the pastimes of Dhruva Maharaj. In material life people like to hear stories. You take any newspaper, magazine – there are many stories. What are these stories about? Movie stars, politicians, sport stars, various scandals. You read a paper and through it away. But devotees have a higher taste. Devotees like to hear stories about the Lord and His devotees. And as we engage ourselves in hearing about the Lord and His devotees, we get purified. The whole purpose of devotional service is getting ourselves to get purified. And we say this prayer: Om ajnana timirandasya – I was born in the darkness of ignorance. When you are born, you are born in ignorance both materially and spiritually. Material ignorance is being reduced by going to schools, colleges, etc. But spiritual ignorance can be destroyed only when we come in touch with a saintly person. So, here Narada Muni is giving instructions to Dhruva Maharaja. Does everybody know Narada Muni? Who is he? He is an avatar. There are different categories of avatars. There are purusa-avataras, guna-avataras, lila-avataras, manvantara-avataras, yuga-avataras, saktyavesa-avataras. The word avatara has become very popular now. Thanks to Hollywood’s movie made which was calles “Avatar”. Hollywood movie. Why was this movie called “Avatar”? So, it is a big hit all over the world. But it had nothing to do with spirituality. I don’t know what inspired the producer to call it “Avatar”. So, Narada Muni is one of avataras. The saktyavesa-avataras are of two categories: direct and indirect. It is either when the Lord comes Himself or when He empowers somebody. Narada Muni always comes at the right time to the right places. He has all kinds of disciples. His disciple is Vyasadeva, he also has Mrigari, the former hunter. Mrigari was a hunter. He naturally like to kill animals. Narada Muni was passing through his forest, and saw a lot of half-killed animals. He asked, who is a cause of these cruel actions? The hunter said, I am, the hunter. Narada Muni said, why don’t you fully kill these animals? Why do you half-kill them and make them suffer? The hunter said, I just like to see them suffering. But by Narda Muni’s association he became so purified that he would not even keep his foot on the ground and he saw that there is no living entity on the ground.
And another disciple is Vyasadeva. Vyasadeva compiled the vast Vedic literatures, who wrote down a huge number of scriptures. But still, he felt that something was lacking. Then he was meditating, what was lacking in his writings. Then the sage Nrada Muni showed up. Narada Muni explained him that although he explained all kind of Vedic literatures he did not describe exclusive devotional service to the Lord. And then came the Srimad Bhagavatam which is ripened fruit of Vedic knowledge.
Dhruva Maharaj was resentful because his step-mother offended him when she precented him from sitting on his father’s lap. His father, King Uttanapada had two wives Suniti and Suruci. So Dhruva was offended when his step-mother said, you cannot sit on your father’s lap because you were not born from my womb. What she was suggesting is, now you die, take another birth, you will get fortunate enough to take birth from my womb. Then you can sit on your father’s lap. Dhruva went crying to his mother who had already heard what happened because his step-mother shouted so loudly that her maidservants heard it and told her about it. His mother said, I cannot help you. Only God can help you. Dhruva had an ambition. He wanted to get the most opulent kingdom that ever was created in history. Krishna does say in the Seventh Chapter that people come to Him because of four reasons. What are these four factors? First are those who want money. Anyway, you devotees don’t worry. I heard that you are here very unhappy. So, the first category are those who want money, then second are those who are in distress. Do you ever get in distress? So, you go to Krishna. If you want money come to Krishna. When you get in distress, come to Krishna. Some people approach Krishna out of curiosity. And then they become devotees. One of our American devotees. He was a well-known movie-maker. He and his wife we writing their Ph.D. paper, making a movie. In 1971 Srila Prabhupada with his Western disciples came to India. And they decided to make a movie about how Prabhupada with his Western disciples came to India as their Ph.D. paper. They had no interest in devotional service, they knew nothing about it. Therefore they also started following Prabhupada making pictures. And after few weeks they got so inspired that they themselves became devotees. Initially they were just getting curious. Now they made so many movies for ISKCON. So, there are some people who come out of curiosity. Fifteen years ago our Temple in Moscow was on Begovaya. Then there was a signal of a bomb-scare. Somebody called the police and said, there is a bomb in the Hare Krishna temple. The police came, they had special dogs. And they were going around all grounds of the Temple to find something undesirable. But then their special dog, when it entered the kitchen, it decided not to leave it. She liked smell of the prasadam so much that it decided to stay there. So, sometimes, people come out of curiosity and get attracted to devotional service.
And then you have a genuine seeker of knowledge. Those who believe, there is God, we must serve God, that is proper utilization of human life. Then Krishna says that all these are pious because they approach Me. But out of these four category the best is one who is a genuine seeker of knowledge. Here you have the example of Dhruva Maharaj. Initially, he had a goal of getting a very opulent kingdom. But when the Lord offered him this blessing, Dhruva Maharaj said that he was like one who was looking for a broken-cut class but found a real diamond and I experience such a bliss that I don’t need anything. Of course, Dhruva Maharaj engaged his mind, body, and words in His service. And Narada Muni says that anyone who engages his mind, body, and words in the Lords service, he gets the Lord’s blessings. The mind, words, and body are the key instruments by which we can either serve the Lord or forget Him. In the Sixth Canto there is a story of Ajamil. Do you all know it? So, Ajamil became very sinful. Because he married a low-cast woman. And he also became a great sinner. And then Yamaraj decided that now there is time to take him for punishment. And he sent three Yamadutas for him to take him to hell. Why three? Because with the mind, words, and body we can either serve the Lord or forget Him. So, these mind, words, and body are very important. In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna talks about austerity of body, mind, and words. If we control our mind, body, and words then our spiritual advancement is guaranteed. What does Krishna say regards to the body? What is the austerity for the body? To worship the Lord, to worship brahmanas. The Lord is more pleased when He sees us serving the devotees of the Lord. In the Padma Purana the Lord says that he who says he is My devotee is not His devotee. But one who says that he is a devote of My devotee, he is a real devotee. So, the body should be used not only in service of the Lord, but also the devotees of the Lord. Normally, when we address each other, next to the name you have the word “Prabhu”. Now it is already out of fashion. Not often you can hear the word “Prabhu”. It is a little bit out of fashion. But when we address someone by name we should add this word. Prabhu means master. And next to our names we write das and dasi. What do das and dasi mean? Servant of the servant. That should be our mentality. So with the body serve vaisnavas, vaisnavis and the Supreme Lord.
Also we have the mind. In the Sixth Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita Krishna describes dhyana-yoga, how to make mind our best of friends. The mind which is under our control is our best friend, and an uncontrolled mind is our worst enemy. What does Krishna say about the mind? Krishna says, man-mana, think about Me. Mad bhakto, become My devotee. Krishna invites us, become My devotees. So, that should be our endeavor. Now, when Krishna says, think of Me, how will do this in practice? In Sri Caitanya Caritamrita you read about Lord Caitanya’s dialogue with Ramananda Roy. Who of you has read this dialogue? Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked Ramananda Roy many various questions. Someone may say, why does the Lord ask questions to His devotee? It should be the other way around. But the Lord wants to glorify His devotee. Just like Bhismadev was going to leave this planet. Bhismadev had a benediction that he can choose his moment of departure. After Yudhisthira installed on the throne, when Pandavas regained their kingdom, Bhismadev thought that there was no need for him to stay. And the Lord was personally there along his bedside with all Pandavas, and different demigods, and sages. And he was going to leave his body meditating on the lotus feet of the Lord. Just like Haridas Tnakur. He had a great desire to leave the planet before the Lord Caitanya does. And he left his body while meditating on the lotus feet of the Lord. Wherever your mind is when you leave this body is what body you get. And the Lord told Yudhisthira, ask Bhismadeva about a civilized human’s duty. The Lord could answer the question. He wanted to assure the world, that My devotee even in seemingly difficult position is sound in mind. Just like Prabhupada. Even in his last days when he was in a seemingly difficult position, He did not stop his translation work. And in a similar way Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu desiring to glorify His devotee asked Ramananda Roy many questions. There is another question he answered, what does a living entity has to always think about? Does this kind of question sometimes comes to your mind? What should living entity think about? The answer was, to think about the Lord, His pastimes, His qualities, His holy name etc. The mind should think about the beautiful form of the Lord. Just like here you have beautiful Deities of Jagannath, Subhadra, and Balaram. So, the Lord has His transcendental form. The difference is, the Lord’s form is arca-vigraha. And the Lord descends in His arca-vigraha form to make it easier for us to worship Him, to serve Him. There was once a poor brahmana in South India who was hearing a scriptures discourse. And in the discourse he heard the speaker said that if you are not in a position to serve the Lord physically you can serve the Lord mentally. Just like in the Tenth Canto there is a story about Vasudeva and Devaki. How the Lord appeared before them in His transcendental four-handed form with different transcendental decorations. The Lord specifically appeared before Vasudeva and Devaki in order to convince them that He did come and they nothing to fear Kamsa. And usually when a son is born, it is a Vedic tradition, the father gives charity. But Vasudeva was in prison and he could not do it physically. He mentally distributed unlimited decorated cows to the brahmanas. So, this brahmana heard that if he is in the position when he could not serve the Lord physically, he could serve the Lord mentally. And you will get the same benefit from this, like as if you serve physically. Therefore this brhamna in his meditation built a very beautiful Temple for the Lord. He made Him an altar of a pure gold! He installed the Deities. And every day in his meditation he went around different sacred rivers for worshiping the Deities. When we worship Deities we use usual municipal water, but with the help of mantras we invoke in it water of all sacred rivers: Godavari, Madri, Kaveri, Ganga, Yamuna, Sindhu etc. This is called spiritual technology. And then with that water we bathe the Deities. But this brahmana, he did not take a shortcut. He meditated, now I am going to the Ganga. I am bringing water to bathe my Deities. He meditated how he fills his golden pots. Then he thought how he went to Yamuna. And then he would offer a very opulent feast to the Lord with many offerings. All was mentally. He was a poor brahmana. And he would offer sweet-rice on mangala-arati. Sweet-rice as you may know, sweet-rice when you make it is hot, but then it is cooled and offered to the Lord cold. And this brahmana wanted in his meditation whether his sweet-rice was cold enough. So, he put his finger inside. And when he touched his sweet-rice, he burned his finger. He was shocked. He started to think, how I could burn my finger. I was just meditating. And the Lord was sitting with Goddess Laxmi and He started smiling. And Laxmi asked the Lord, why You were smiling? The Lord did not reply. He sent an airplane by Vaikuntha Airlines to bring the brahmana back to Godhead. The Lord told Laxmi, this brahmana served Me for so many years without deviation. But this does not mean we start to use shortcuts. I can stop chant physically because mentally I chant sixty four rounds every day. Mentally, I distributed two thousand books. The point is that when you are in a position when you cannot serve physically, you can serve mentally. In the Bhagavad Gita Krishna instructs Arjuna to perform actions for His pleasure. Arjuna said, I don’t want this kingdom. Let this kingdom remain with the Kauravas. It was his renunciation. The Lord told Arjuna, no, you are a ksatriya, it is your duty to fight. Therefore in this famous verse the Lord told Arjuna, tasmat sarvesu kalesu mam anusmara yudhya ca. Concentrate on Me your mind and intelligence, perform your duty, fight! Practically speaking, you all have some engagements. Someone may be doing a job or business. Someone may be a student. Someone may be a housewife. Just like Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, yah karosi yah asnasi. Yah karosi, whatever you do, do it as an offering unto Me. Whatever you eat, offer it first to Me. Whatever charity you want to give do it as an offering to Me. Whatever your duty is, do it but in the mentality that I am doing it for Krisna. Of course, if you are doing some nonsense, you should not think, oh, I am doing this for Krishna’s pleasure. You cannot say, I am doing this nonsense for Krishna. So the mind should be engaged in thinking about glories of the Lord. We also hear about the Lord’s pastimes. There are so many pastimes. There are Krisna’s pastimes, Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s pastimes, Srila Prabhupda’s pastimes. So engage your mind positively.
Then the verse says about the tongue. The tongue plays a key role in our spiritual endeavors. Bhaktisitthantaji said, the tongue, belly, and genitals are all on one straight line. If the tongue is controlled then you can easily control the other senses. And what is the austerity for our tongue? Krishna says, one of the austerities of the tongue is to speak words which are truthful. Speak words that are truthful. Truthfulness begins with accepting the Lord’s instructions as they are and following them as they are. Not that we take Bhagavad Gita and give our own interpretations. When the messages of God are applied in their pure form they can create wonders.
Then another austerity of the tongue is, speak the truth but speak it in a palatable manner. Our talk can be sweet, our talk can be harsh. Sometimes people have a habit to speak harshly. But devotes should be very sweet in speaking. Speak the truth, but sweetly. We should lean to speak properly. Once one reported asked Srila Prabhupada, how can one recognize your disciples? Prabhubada said, they should behave like gentlemen and gentlewomen. Devotees should be cultured. A devotee by his behavior should convey the principles of religion. Sanatana Goswami would come to Haridas Thakur regularly. Haridas Thakur never entered the Jagannatha Puri Temple looking outside at it’s dome. Sanatana Gosvami woud come to him regularly. Sanatana Gosvami said, some people behave well but don’t preach, some people preach but don’t behave well, you do both: preach and behave well. So, that should be the mentality of a devotee. We should behave ideally, according to the religious principles. And even if someone is disagreed with Krishna Consciousness philosophy, after meeting you a person should think, oh, I met such a cultured person. Often people say, we bought these books, it is not that we were attracted by your philosophy, but the devotee was such a gentleman, so sweet, so polite. Because of that we bought his books. So, with the tongue we should speak the truth sweetly.
Another austerity of the tongue is to regularly recite Vedic literatures. Regularly reciting the Vedic literatures also includes chanting the holy name. Last time we discussed glories of the holy name. We said, we should chant the holy name day and night without getting tired. Our physical body gets tired, we may say, oh, I am tired, I need massage. But does our tongue ever get tired? So, the tongue should regularly recite the Vedic literatures and the holy name. Then if the tongue does not engage in reciting Vedic literatures then it will engage in prajalpa. What happens when it engages in prajalpa? Our devotional service gets ruined. Rupa Gosvami wrote many wonderful books. But Srila Prabhupada translated two of them. Nectar of instructions and Nectar of devotion. In Sri Upadesamrita, the Nectar of instructions Rupa Gosvami explains that our devotional service gets destroyed if we do the following: overeating, overendeavoring, making too much efforts for material benefits, mundane talk. But someone may say, I have to go to work, I have to associate with karmis, if I talk about Krishna they will think that I am creasy. In your work you can talk profession but avoid prajalpa when you are with devotees. Niyamagraha, following rules and regulations formally, without understanding a real purpose behind them. Just like we have so many rules and regulations. Sometimes people say, Oh there are so many rules and regulations in ISKCON. You look at my guru, he is so liberal. No rules and regulations. Do what you want. So they say, you get what you pay for. So, Krishna says, as people serve Me I reward them accordingly. In a store you cannot buy any thing for the same prices. You will get just what you paid for.
Also we should avoid mundane association. And don’t bee greedy for material things. Then RUpa Goswami explains what can improve our devotional service. What is that famous verse? How our devotional service can be enhanced? Utsaha, be enthusiastic. When you are chanting the holy name, washing the floor, or washing pots, be enthusiastic. In Montreal, Canada there is a devotee who has been coming to the Temple and washing pots for forty years. He is Prabhupada’s disciple. He comes every day to wash pots. I met him two months ago in Canada. He washing pots so enthusiastically! So, whatever your service may be, you should do it with great enthusiasm. Because you serve the Lord Himself. You can simply wash pots.
Also be determined on the spiritual path. Because when you take to the spiritual path, maya tries to bewilder you. Or in Sochi maya does not touch you. Really a good city! Because of nice weather maya does not touch you. No, maya tries to bewilder us everywhere. That’s maya’s business. She tests us. And if maya is defeated the she is only happy from that. So, be determined. And also tolerant. Follow the transcendental path given to us by acaryas. Associate with saintly persons. And avoid mundane association. So, we are very fortunate to have information how to improve devotional service and what destroys our devotional service. In the same connection Lord Caitanya Majaprabhu told Sanatana Gosvami, one should accept ever thing favorable for devotional service and reject everything unfavorable. So, here Narada Muni says that one should engage in the Lord’s service one’s body, mind, and words. The Lord is extremely kind to His devotees. Once Durvasa Muni had come with his sixty thousand disciples to Duryodhan. And Duryodhan received them very nicely. Why? Because Duryodhan knew that Durvasa Muni was easily pleased and easily displeased. So, Duryodhan did not want to take chances. And after Durhyodhan showed his hospitality Durvasa was very happy with his reception and asked, how he could pay him back for such reception. And Duryodhan said, just like you blessed my house, please bless the house of my cousin Yudhisthir also. When Yudhisthira and his brothers went to exile, thousands of brahmanas went with them. When they were leaving there was a question, how Yudhisthira and Draupadi would feed all these brahmanas. And the Sun-god gave Draupadi a special pot which was called aksaya-patra. That aksaya-patra could deliver food unlimitedly to entire planet. But only as long as Draupadi had not eaten her lunch. So in this way the brahmanas were fed all day. But after Draupadi had eaten the aksaya-patra did not give even a single grain. Just for that day. Duryodhan knew this. And what was Duryodhan’s goal? If Yudhistira does not please Durvasa then Durvasa will get angry and curse him. So, Durvasa Muni arrived to Youdisthir’s house with his sixty thousand disciples. Fortunately, Durvasa Muni and his team did not to buy tickets from Aeroflot. They had mystic powers, they could fly, they had wings. And Durvasa Muni with his disciples came to Yudhistihra’s house, as Duryodhan asked them, just after Draupadi had finished her lunch. So, Yudhisthira said, welcome, welcome, what can we offer to you? The Vedic etiquette is even if an enemy comes, offer him prasadam. If you cannot offer prasadam, offer water. If you cannot offer water, offer him sweet words of welcome. But do something. So, Yudhistira invited Durvasa for his lunch prasadam. Durvasa said, okay, I would take my noon bathe and then take prasadam with you. So, Yudhistihra told Draupadi, please, you should cook prasadam for sixty thousand people. Draupadi said, I cannot do it now. I have already eaten my lunch. The aksaya-patra won’t give any food today any more. Draupadi was in anxiety. She was scared. Usually women faster get panicked then men. She started to think, oh, now Durvasa Muni will get angry, and curse all of us. And whom did Draupadi called? Krishna! A devotee in happiness or distress has only one friend. One real friend. All other friends are fair weather friends. So, as long as everything is fine they are our friends. So, she turned to Krishna. She was crying because she did not want to be cursed by Durvasa. Suddenly somebody knocked on the door. It was Krishna. He said, Draupadi, I am hungry. Please feed me. Draupadi said, there is nothing to eat. I have already eaten and there is nothing till tomorrow. Krishna said, I don’t believe it. I don’t believe you have nothing at home. Give me your pot you cooked lunch today. There he saw one piece of vegetable stuck to the bottom of the pot. Krishna said, look, you said there is nothing, and here is a piece of vegetable. Krisna ate it and when he ate it Durvasa Muni and his followers taking their bath felt like if they had overeaten and started hiccup. Do you also hiccup sometimes? So, Durvasa Muni understood that Krishna interfered here. He already burnet his finger with Ambarisa Maharaja. He thought, just a few minutes we were hungry and now we are overeaten. If we now come to Yudhisthira, he prepared a big feast and we don’t eat, he will be upset. And Durvasa told his disciples, let’s run away from here, let us not come to Yudhistira. Then Krishna told Yudhisthira, go and tell Durvasa Muni that their prasadam is ready. So, Yudhisthira went and started calling, Durvasa Muni, your prasadam is ready. Please come and take your lunch. There was no reply. The local brahmana said, oh, they all ran away. So, Krishna protects His devotees. So, Narada Muni says that if we sincerely engage our body, mind, and words in the Lord’s service we will achieve success spiritually. And Prabhupada says, that this method of chanting and hearing the holy name guarantees our success. To follow this method you don’t need any prequalification. In order to follow this method you don’t have to be a Ph.D., don’t have to have some big education, be very handsome or beautiful. You have to just seriously and attentively chant Hare Krishna Maha-mantra. All of you are educated, so also read Prabhupada’s books. Always stay in association of devotees. At least try to come to the Temple once a week. And all that you eat, offer to the Lord. That’s all. Is it difficult? Everybody can do it. What does Krishna say in the Gita? Those who worship Me with devotion, I preserve what they have and I make up what they lack. So, we may have so many shortcomings. Krishna will help you. Prabhupada said, you take one step towards Krishna will take ten steps to you. Take the first step. But this step you have to take. Then Krishna will take over. Therefore due to chanting and hearing about the Lord we gain an inspiration to do devotional service. Hare Krishna!
Q. Guru Maharaj, in Novorossiysk you said that we should chant the holy name very respectfully. Could you elaborate on that? Well, we should chant very attentively. Respectfully also means attentively. Just like if you want to be respectful to someone senior. In the same way, as the holy name is nondifferent from the Lord we should very respectfully take the holy name, chant very attentively. And this respect to the holy name is expressed by chanting attentively. If you are next to someone you respect you don’t fall asleep. Therefore when you chant the holy name try to be awake. It is a sign of respect.
Q. In this verse it is stated that the Lord fulfills any desire for one who is serving the Lord. But we practically see that some people are praying to the Lord with some material desires. It is not always that these desires are fulfilled. So, does that mean that these desires are fulfilled according to the karma or they are fulfilled in the next life? How can we understand this?
A. Krishna first sees how sincere the devotee is. Then of course Krishna looks at our karma balance. I may desire a Mercedes car and a house in the best area of Sochi. Which is the best area of Sochi? Let’s say that you have a desire to have a private jet. But Praramatma looks at your karma balance. And He says, Oh, you don’t deserve a jet, you can only have a Honda car. In other words, when Krishna sees that you are very sincere, He will give you as much as you need to advance spiritually. Krishna turned Sudama brahmana’s poor hut to a palace. Because He knew that Sudama won’t be affected by it. So Krishna can also fulfill the desire. The point is with whatever motive with you take to devotional service, as a result you will get purified. And when you get purified you will become just like Dhruva Maharaja who told to the Lord, I was just a fool looking for a broken-cut glass but found a real brilliant.
Q. One of the offenses in chanting the holy name is to preach the glories of the holy names to faithless. And you said that we should tell people to chant the holy name but not tell the confidential meaning of the name. What does it mean?
A. So, you don’t have to explain a confidential meaning of Hare as an address to Srimati Radharani. You can just tell people to chant.
Q. If I understood this verse correctly Krishna gives to His devotees economic prosperity, sense enjoyment, and liberation from material world. Is it so? I am in Krishna consciousness for three years but we always hear that sense enjoyment is an evil. So, how to reconcile these two things, that Krishna gives evil sense enjoyments to His devotees and at the same time we hear that sense enjoyment is an evil.
A. Devotees get purified as they execute devotional service. The point is that a devotee may start to execute devotional service with some material goals in mind. But as he execute his devotional service he will get rid of these desires. The point is, that may be our initial desire just like Krishna explains that people come to Him for four reasons, but as he execute devotional service he develops higher desires. Hare Krishna!