Saragrahi Vaisnava Song Explained And Sung By Guru Mahārāja

Saragrahi Vaisnava Song Explained And Sung By Guru Mahārāja

Saragrahi Vaisnava

So I thought every day, we will start the seminar by singing four stanzas for two days and six stanzas for last two days of the seminar of this song by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur. I love this song. Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s brilliance becomes manifest through these kinds of presentations. Just consider that he is presenting the most profound philosophy in the form of a song; poetry. As it is, it’s difficult to present philosophy through writing. How does philosophical writing read? It breaks your teeth; it twists your tongue and jams your brain. To describe philosophy is difficult. How difficult it must be to describe philosophy in poetry, and that also in English poetry? English is not at all a poetic language. Bengali, Sanskrit, Hindi, Gujarati; they all are poetic languages. Indian languages are very poetic but English, with all due respect to the language, is not. But we notice that Bhaktivinoda Thakur wrote this poetry in perfect meter and rhyme. These are the two important aspects of poetry, real poetry. We notice most of the English poets do not really follow this strict meter and rhyme. It is more of the presentation of ideas in a poetic way. But original poetry is very, very strictly maintained in meter and rhyme. Take for example Sri Caitanya Caritamrta. You can see how beautifully it is maintaining meters and rhymes. Every line has specific syllables in a specific way and it rhymes. What to speak of Sanskrit; the language itself is music. You can see Sanskrit, Bramha Samhita

cintamani-prakara-sadmasu kalpa-vrksa-
laksavrtesu surabhir abhipalayantam
laksmi-sahasra-sata-sambhrama-sevyamanam
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami

Even more so is Gopi-gita:

tava kathamritam tapta-jivanam
kavibhir iditam kalmasapaham
sravana-mangalam srimad atatam
bhuvi grinanti ye bhuri-da janah

Now how much of English poetry do you come across like that? Actually very few English poets follow a specific meter and rhyme. Coleridge, I remember
is very famous for that. Coleridge is one of the few English poets famous for that. Wordsworth and Shelley also, but not always. Whereas with other
famous poets you can see that there is no consideration for rhyme or meter.

Like Keats is a very famous poet:

‘My heart aches and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk.’

The beautiful thoughts make up the poetry and not the rhyme or meter.

But look at Bhaktivinoda Thakur:

Alas for those who spend their days in festive mirth and joy?
The dazzling deadly liquid forms their hearts forever employ

And not just one stanza, but he maintained the same meter and following a very strict rhyme for 22 stanzas. What to speak of the subject matter being presented through this poetry. Look at it:

Alas for those who spend their days in festive mirth and joy? He could have very well said that I pity those people who are in Maya [Laughter]. That is actually the bottom line. But here is the brilliance of the poet.

Alas for those who spend their days in festive mirth and joy? Alas, I pity those people; I feel bad for those people who spend their days in festive mirth and joy.

The dazzling deadly liquid forms their hearts forever employ Their heart is always attracted towards the liquid beauty. It’s dazzling; it looks so brilliant. Yet it’s deadly and it’s liquid. Liquid means it doesn’t really have any tangible existence. It’s constantly changing. Look at the body. What is the body? Continuous change of cells; old cells are dying and new cells are being generated. Maybe it’s happening over a period of 70 or 80 years. But look at it in fast motion and what will you see? If you squeeze the time, what will you see? Born, grew up and died. One may look so beautiful. Somebody may be Miss Universe. But when she is 85 (laughter) will anyone think her to be Miss Universe? Everyone was just enchanted by her beauty but now nobody wants to look at her. So that’s what the dazzling deadly liquid forms are, that their hearts forever employ.

The shining bottles charm their eyes. Prabhupāda used to use the expression inebriated, which actually means drunken state. Those who are materially
attached individuals, they are nothing but drunkards. They may not be drinking alcohol as such, but they are drinking another kind of liquor. What happens to a drunkard? It’s an intense craving that they feel. Without drinks, they cannot live. They feel as if they are dying. When they are in that state and they see the shining bottle of Johnny Walker [Laughter]…

The shining bottles charm their eyes and draw their hearts embrace
The slaves of wine…  They have become enslaved by this liquid.

The slaves of wine can never rise from what we call disgrace. Is it very respectful the way a drunkard lives his life? They live just for a little bit of alcohol. Then when they get it, they feel that their life has become successful. After they drink, they roll in the gutter.

Was man intended to be, a brute in work and heart
Was man intended to live like an animal in his activities; in his
consciousness and in his heart?

Should man the Lord of all around from common sense depart? Man’s glory is
in common sense dictating us the grace.  This common sense actually makes us
different from sub-human specifies of existence

That man is made to live and love the beauteous heavens embrace Is the human form of life meant to just live like an animal or does it have a specific objective, specific goal. How do you figure out that we have a specific goal? It is through our common sense. Man is not supposed to lead his life like that of an animal. A man is not an animal. The human form of life comes with an inconceivable promise. So today I’ll sing these 4 stanzas to begin the class.

(Guru Maharaja sings these verses below)
1
Alas, for those that spends their days
In festive mirth and joy!
The dazzling deadly liquid forms
Their heart fore’er employ!!

2
The shining bottles charm their eyes
And draw their hearts embrace!
The slaves of wine can never rise
From what we call disgrace!

3
Was man intended to be
A brute in work and heart?
Should man the Lord of all around
From common sense depart?

4
Man’s glory is in common sense
Dictating us the grace,
That man is made to live and love
The beauteous Heaven’s embrace!

Bhagavad Gita -Part 1 Chapters 1 to 6

The subject of this seminar is actually Bhagavad Gita. But what is Bhagavad Gita actually? So that is important for us to understand. This morning I mentioned that Bhagavad Gita is the epitome or the ultimate culmination of Upanishads. All the spiritual knowledge that one can receive ultimately culminates into Bhagavad Gita. Spiritual knowledge basically deals with three aspects of spiritual philosophy viz. Sambandha, Abhideya and Prayojana. The first aspect is Sambandha: Relationship. Who are we? Who is Krishna? What is this material nature? What is our relationship with Krishna? What is our relationship with the material nature? What is material nature’s relationship with Krishna? All the Vedic philosophies basically deal with these three aspects: jiva, prakriti and Ishwara; living entity, nature and the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If there is one missing from that, the knowledge will not be complete; especially when we are dealing with this from the material perspective. Why are we here? That’s the first question. What is this material nature? What am I supposed to do here? Then when we get to know what we are supposed to do here and we properly understand what this material nature is, then our attitude is “How can I get out of here?” When you realize what this material nature is like, our attitude would be, what should I say? Should I use a rather strong expression? (Yes) Let’s get the hell out of here. That should be every intelligent man’s basic understanding.

Then again we come to one point. The first consideration is that let us get out of here but then the consideration is “How can I get out of here?” Then we understand that we don’t need to get out of here. This can be a wonderful place if we have the proper understanding. So that is what Bhagavad Gita is actually dealing with. Bhagavad Gita is very systematically giving that understanding. Therefore the approach that I have selected is “The scientific understanding of the spiritual reality in the light of the Bhagavad Gita”. Scientific understanding. Prabhupada was very emphatic on that point. That this is not faith. Generally religion is considered to be a faith. My faith is this. My faith is that. My prophet has said that. Jesus has said that. Moses has said that. My grandfather has said that. My granny has said that. My pundit has said that. So these are all a matter of faith, without properly understanding why they said it. What they have said, if it is not substantiated properly with scientific understanding, it will simply remain a blind faith which will lead us to some superstitious rituals and will not benefit us at all in the long run. So Prabhupada didn’t come here to teach us about that kind of religion. Prabhupada came here to give us the ultimate knowledge; the knowledge that has been given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself in the form of Bhagavad Gita and in the form of Srimad Bhagavatam. Both the knowledge has actually been given by Krishna Himself. That is the very basis of what we are actually cultivating. It’s not a matter of faith; it’s a matter of science. Scientific understanding.

What is science? Science is knowledge that can be substantiated by experiment; experimentally verified knowledge. Isn’t that one of the definitions of science? It can be experimentally verified. If you don’t believe in soul then what happens to the dead body. What is the difference between a dead body and a living body? How do you justify that? We are saying that as long as the soul is in the body, the body is alive. When the soul is in the dead body, the dead body is alive. When the soul leaves the dead body, the dead body naturally becomes dead. The body made of dead matter, is naturally a dead body. Our body is made of earth, water, fire, air and ether. Are they living matter, earth, water fire? Solid liquid etc all this material substance? Are they dead or living matter? Don’t we say dead matter? Dead matter. The body made of dead matter is naturally a dead body. So how come this dead body is alive? The dead body is functioning like a living body. Why? Because of the presence of the soul. Here comes the common sense. Man’s glory is in common sense. Common sense. An animal will not question that or reason like that. What is the difference between a dead dog body and a living dog body? A dog will not question “What happened to my father? Why all of a sudden he stopped barking?” (Laughter). But a man does. He wonders why the person who had been living for so many years, why all of a sudden became still; no life, no consciousness; doesn’t function anymore. So that is the common sense. A man can question that and that’s why this human form of life has been considered to be so special.

So we can understand this way that there is a spirit soul. It’s a scientific understanding. People sometimes challenge, “Can you see the soul? Can you prove the existence of the soul through my sense perception?” That’s what they believe in. Once I saw one little girl preaching to a big man. The man was kind of challenging that “I don’t believe in the soul because I can’t see it”. That little girl, she was about 8 or 9 years old. She asked “Can you see the pupil of your eyes?” Then she asked “Can you see what is happening beyond this wall? Does it exist?” So that is how limited our sense perceptions are. So why put so much importance in your sense perception. Rather use you intelligence. Rather use your common sense substantiated by developed intelligence. So in this way we can see that they can be experimentally verified. Krishna gave proof.

The experimental verification is

dehino ‘smin yatha dehe
kaumaram yauvanam jara

The body is changing. Your body grew from a child’s body, to a young man’s body and it will grow into an old man’s body. The body is changing but in spite of the change of the body you are not changing; you are still the same.

tatha dehantara-praptir
dhiras tatra na muhyati

tatha – Therefore. dehantara-praptir – At some point you will leave this body but that will not be the end of you. You will continue to live. Dehantara You will have another body. The difference is that in this body, the body is changing; boyhood to youth to old age. But then at some point you will leave this body and transmigrate to another body. You have been transmigrating in this body. Where is your childhood body? Does it exist? Rather you look at your photograph and you think, “Oh! I looked like that at one time!” And you wonder how today you look so different. So tatha dehantara-praptir, you will transmigrate to another body. So it’s proving two points here; your actual identity is the spirit soul and not the body. The body is a vehicle through which you are actually travelling. It’s an instrument. It’s a machine. tatha dehantara-praptir What Krishna is saying in Bhagavad Gita is not a matter of faith. Krishna never said to Arjuna, “Because I’m saying it, you must accept it”. Rather He is presenting it in a scientific way. At the end, He says “Okay Arjuna. I have told you whatever I had to tell you, now you decide what you want to do. It’s up to you”. So that is what Bhagavad Gita is. It’s a science; the scientific understanding. What is Bhagavad Gita teaching us? Bhagavad Gita is taking us on a journey from this material nature to the spiritual sky. It’s a journey; a journey that we traverse through our consciousness; elevation of consciousness from body consciousness to Krishna consciousness.

In the material nature we all are in the bodily concept of life. What is the bodily concept dictating to us? “Try to enjoy as much as possible”. The body is saying, “Give me pleasure; give me enjoyment”. The senses are crying for that. Sense gratification – that is the existence. Actually the whole Vedic wisdom is giving the information, “Okay, you want to enjoy, fine. If you are in that state of consciousness, fine. You do this. You want to enjoy, go ahead and enjoy”. And Bhagavad Gita is giving us the understanding how to enjoy. That section of the Vedas is known as karma- kanda section of the Vedas. That involvement is known as karma-yoga. Then, when one understands that there is no enjoyment in this material nature, “Chewing the chewed!” You have been chewing the sugar cane when the juice has been taken out; the pulp. You get a truck load of sugarcane pulp from the sugar cane industry in Tongaat (laughter) and have a feast. What will you get? Will you get anything out of it? Rather what will happen, your tongue and your palate will be totally bruised. The more you try to extract the juice out of that
sugarcane pulp, the more your palate will bleed. Therefore the less intelligent class of people have been compared to camels. What does a camel do? Do you know what a camel’s delight is? Eating the thorns. In Ujjain sometimes we see a lot of camels. They come and graze. And I see it’s so true. They just run for all those thorny bushes, with huge thorns. They blissfully keep on chewing them. Their tongues and palates get shredded. And do they get any juice? What they get? Their own blood. Their mouth starts to bleed and they get the taste of the blood and they think, “Oh, how delicious these thorns are.” So the people who are trying to enjoy in the material nature, their situation is like that of that camel. Chewing the chewed or eating the thorn and they are suffering out of that, but they are thinking it is pleasure. So that is the situation of the less intelligent person.

The more intelligent person at some point realises that “Well, the more I try to enjoy; it’s actually leading to greater suffering. My endeavour for enjoyment is actually leading to suffering”. So then he wants to withdraw from all the activities of this material nature. So that is the platform of jnana. So in the first six chapters Krishna actually extensively dealt with these two points; karma yoga aspect and jnana yoga aspect. Now here we have to also consider this expression: yoga. Why this specific consideration of yoga? Why not just karma? Karma Kanda section of the Vedas. What is the difference between that karma and karma yoga? The difference is when it is connected to Krishna, and then it becomes yoga. Karma for the sake of Krishna or Krishna’s pleasure is karma yoga. Jnana or detachment in relation to Krishna is jnana yoga. So Krishna dealt with these two aspects.

I gave the summary of six chapters of Bhagavad Gita. How many of you got them? How many of you carefully studied them? That’s why I actually gave them to you in advance so that I wanted you to study these six chapters. Because these six chapters are actually the introduction to what I wanted to present from today onwards: the introduction to bhakti.

Bhakti is the real essence; bhakti is the real knowledge; real understanding. Not karma, not jnana. Anyway in simple words, Krishna told Arjuna… there are lots of questions. Arjuna is sincerely asking those questions. That’s why sincere enquiry is very important in cultivating this knowledge. At least if we do not know how to question we should listen to other’s questions and try to understand the answers. You will notice that all the Vedic wisdom is based on these questions and answers. Whether it is Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam or Mahabharata, they are all presented in that way; except sometimes the Samhitas. But again Samhitas are also sometimes are also presented as questions and answers. So this knowledge has to be cultivated through proper questions and answers. On our part, the question should be sincere and the person who is answering the question he must be situated in knowledge. When you ask the question you must consider that the person is qualified to give the answer. You can also verify with your common sense; with your intelligence. Have these questions been properly answered? Sometimes we see, especially in India, some spiritual personalities, in questions and answers, their answers are so disappointing that you either feel like walking away from the place or walking up to the stage or give a solid slap on his face (laughter). They don’t know anything and are speaking about spiritual subject. Now in this respect another consideration is very, very important. That themselves, person who has assumed the role of a teacher, he himself is a student of a qualified teacher. That is the main qualification. The student of a qualified teacher in course of time becomes a qualified teacher. If one does not belong to that succession, then he is not going to be bona fide.

We are very fortunate. At least we have this opportunity to become connected to this succession of qualified teachers and students; starting all the way from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That succession is still present. For us the main link is Srila Prabhupada. He gave this knowledge to us. It’ is by his mercy that we got it. It’s by his mercy that we are able to practice this. He has given us a perfect platform to practice this process, the process of Krishna consciousness. So Prabhupada wanted this knowledge to be received and presented both in a scientific way. It is scientific knowledge. It’s a science of Krishna consciousness; the scientific basis of Krishna consciousness. That is what Srila Prabhupada’s presentation is. Scientific process. What is science? On the one hand I said science is experimentally verified knowledge. Another consideration of science is a proper systematic study of a subject. Every subject is actually a science. Just like physics is the study of energy. Chemistry is the study of elements, matter. Biology is the systematic study of life. Mathematics is the science of numbers in simple words; science of energy; science of material elements; science of living organisms. So these are different sciences; science of numbers; science of music, science of geography, and science of history. These are all systematic study therefore all these are sciences. When it comes to the systematic study of the spiritual reality that is religion. Religion is not faith, religion is science. Krishna came to give us dharma; give us the understanding of dharma.

dharma tu saksad bhagavad pranitam

Dharma is the law given by the Lord, in the preliminary sense. The study and practice of the law that has been given by the Lord is dharma. But the higher consideration of dharma is the inherent characteristics of a spirit soul. Sanatana dharma, the soul is sanatana, eternal therefore the soul’s dharma is eternal. Dharma is the inherent characteristic of a substance. Just like liquidity is the dharma of water, heat and light are the dharma of fire. In this way different substances have their specific inherent qualities. Those inherent qualities are the dharmas of the substance. Now the soul is a substance. The study of that soul is the dharma of the soul. According to the Vedic understanding there are two aspects of this dharma. One is the dharma of the body and the other is the dharma of the soul. When we are in the material nature we have specific types of bodies according to the modes of nature. Accordingly we develop the natural characteristics of the body. That dharma is called varnasrama dharma. Somebody is in the mode of goodness, he has a specific characteristic. Someone in passion has his specific characteristics and so forth. So these are varna dharma; brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, sudra. But these are the dharma of the body. Man’s dharma,
woman’s dharma, child’s dharma. The child behaves in a certain way, a grown up behaves in some other way. So these are all the dharma of the body of
those living entities. Similarly lion’s dharma, cow’s dharma, jackal’s dharma, dog’s dharma; there are different types of dharma. Hindu’s dharma,
Muslim’s dharma, Christian’s dharma. So these are all in the same category; body’s dharma.

But when you transcend the bodily platform and come to the spirit soul, then there is another dharma, the dharma of the soul. So that dharma is known as
nitya dharma or sanatana dharma. Nitya – eternal. Why? Because the soul is nitya, eternal, therefore the soul’s dharma is also nitya. Other dharmas will change but this dharma will not change. Now what is the dharma of the soul? To love Krishna, that is the sanatana dharma. Now the question is again, that it’s a science which means it’s a natural characteristic, inherent characteristic of the soul. It is the soul’s inherent nature to become attracted to Krishna because he is a part and parcel of Krishna. Because he is a part and parcel, it has a natural propensity, natural affinity to become connected to the whole. What connects him to the whole, Krishna? Love! Therefore ultimately we come to that point that the ultimate dharma of the soul is love, love for Krishna. It is through that love that a living entity becomes connected to Krishna. So that is what the Vedas are presenting. Now we can see also there are two aspects, the body aspect and the spiritual aspect. So in Bhagavad Gita also, Krishna is initially dealing with that. There are two types of people, less intelligent and more intelligent; less pure and more pure in the heart. Those who are less pure, those who are less intelligent, what do they want to do? They want to enjoy the material nature. Those who are more intelligent, they are detached from the affairs of the material nature.

So in the first six chapters, Krishna actually discussed those two aspects. What should a less intelligent man do, he wants to enjoy the material nature. What should he do? Krishna says “For him is karma yoga”. What will happen? He wants to enjoy so let him enjoy. But let him offer the fruits of his enjoyment, actions, works, to Krishna. Okay go ahead enjoy, but offer the results of your action to Krishna. If you want to enjoy but do not want to suffer, what should you do? In simple words that is what Krishna is saying. If you want to enjoy but do not want to suffer. Normally what will happen? If you try to enjoy you will suffer. So the direction is that if you want to enjoy but don’t want to suffer, then you endeavour for enjoyment, but offer the results of your actions to Krishna. Then you will not suffer. In this way he will become purified. Then He is also pointing out that those who are more intelligent, what will they do? They will become detached. They are situated in knowledge. They are renounced, they are detached. Although it seems that the detachment is superior and Arjuna is opting for that.
Arjuna was telling Krishna, “You are saying that detachment is better than action, then why are you engaging me in action?” What is Krishna’s answer to that? “There is no difference.” They are the same. Ultimately He is pointing out that detachment doesn’t mean cessation from action. Detachment means not to be attached to the results of your action. Now doesn’t it mean the same? Act and offer the results to Krishna. How can you offer the results to Krishna? Only when you are not attached to the results of your action. So it doesn’t matter whether you are on a less intelligent platform or more intelligent platform. It doesn’t matter whether you are less intelligent or more intelligent. It doesn’t matter whether you are less pure or more pure. “Just act according to the instruction that I am giving you. Whatever is your natural characteristic, accordingly you act. Now you are a ksatriya. You are in the mode of passion. Your varna is that you are in the mode of passion. So you are meant to act in a certain way. Had you been a brahmana I would have told you something else.” Krishna’s instruction to Arjuna would
have been different if Arjuna was a brahmana, if he was situated in the mode of goodness. Of course we have to understand that Arjuna is playing a specific role here, according to Krishna’s divine arrangement. Arjuna is transcendental. Arjuna is not in the mode of passion. But what Krishna is doing, is making some points to us through Arjuna and in this way He is teaching us. Here Arjuna is a mortal, in order to make us understand certain points. Krishna is using Arjuna as a medium. Arjuna is naturally not in the mode of passion or ignorance. Arjuna is not even in the mode of goodness. Arjuna is a pure devotee of Krishna. He is in a  transcendental mode. He is a pure devotee. But for the sake of Krishna’s pastimes, he is playing a certain role. Through Arjuna, Krishna is making some points that, “This is your varna, you are a ksatriya, and therefore you fight”. It is better to die following his own dharma; here Krishna is talking of varnasrama dharma,
than para-dharmo bhayavahah, than following someone else’s dharma.

If this is the inherent characteristic of your nature, if this is your nature, act according to your nature. Do not pretend to be something else. That is of course a varnasrama consideration. When it comes to the superior spiritual Krishna conscious platform, then it is a completely different consideration. Krishna is leading gradually to that point. Again we go back to that point that these first six chapters are preparing us for the real teachings of Bhagavad Gita.

Then Krishna is pointing out that this karma then comes to the platform of jnana. The ultimate consideration of jnana is dhyana yoga, astanga yoga.
It’s a gradual progression. Karma is offering results of your action. Who do you offer to immediately? The immediate recipients of those offerings are
the demigods. But the demigods are not the real recipients. The demigods are receiving those offerings on behalf of Krishna. Just like in a government
there are different departments. You get the facilities and benefits and you pay the tax, you pay the bill. There are the electricity department, water
supply department, education department, public works department and so forth. At the end of the day you get the benefit and you pay the tax. Now
those different departments are collecting those taxes but do they keep the taxes? What do they do? I don’t know what happens in South Africa (laughter)
but they are supposed to offer it to the government’s treasury. So these demigods are actually the departmental heads. And as departmental heads, and
as we pay our bills to those departments, they collect them but then they hand them over to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They are doing it on
behalf of Krishna. They receive from us in order to offer it to Krishna. So they are actually the via-medium. Although we are offering to the demigods,
actually the demigods are not the real recipients. The real recipient of the sacrifice is Krishna. So that has been pointed out.

In the 3rd chapter of Bhagavad Gita we get to hear how yajnas should be performed for the sake of the demigods. But then in the 5th chapter we get to know, ‘No, no, that Krishna is actually the real recipient of the yajna.’ If we want, we can skip the via-media, the demigods and offer it directly to Krishna. For less intelligent people who don’t understand Krishna, they see the immediate result, “Oh, Indra is giving me rain, Surya is giving me sun, Chandra is giving me moon rays, Pavana is giving wind, air and Varuna is giving water. So I am getting all these facilities and I must pay them.” So that is a less intelligent consideration. But the more intelligent consideration, the more advanced considerations is “Actually Krishna is the real recipient. All the yajnas should be performed for the sake of Krishna’s pleasure”. So karma, the offerings of the results of actions must be given
to Krishna.

And knowledge also. What is the purpose of yoga? Yoga is meant to fix the mind. The mind is extremely fickle, extremely frivolous. cancalam hi manah krsna pramathi balavad drdham

Now the process of controlling the mind is dhyana yoga or astanga yoga.

atho citta pritthi nirodha or yoga cittha pritthi nirodha. The purpose of the yoga is to control the waves of the mind.

How to do that? There is a very specific process for doing that. But then Krishna is pointing out that of all the yogis, one who has become engaged in devotional service to Him, one who is rendering loving devotional service to Him, he is the greatest of all yogis.

yoginam api sarvesam
mad-gatenantar-atmana
sraddhavan bhajate yo mam
sa me yuktatamo matah

Of all the yogis, one who has become engaged in devotional service unto Me, he is the greatest of all yogis. Prior to that Krishna actually pointed out that of all the people the yogis are the best.

tapasvibhyo dhiko yogi
jnanibhyo pi mato dhikah
karmibhyas cadhiko yogi
tasmad yogi bhavarjuna

Of all the ascetics, the yogi is the best. Superior to all the ascetics is the yogi. Superior to all the jnanis is the yogi. Superior to all the karmis is the yogi. Therefore Arjuna you become a yogi, tasmad yogi bhavarjuna

But then right after that Krishna is saying that of all the yogis the  devotee is the best of yogis. So it is something like proving that somebody is the best. He is the best. And after extensively making the point that heis the best, you make a point “But he is better than him”. So that is what Krishna is doing. Yogi is the best! He spoke about  karmi, jnani, tapasvi and of all of them the yogi is the best. But even better than the yogi, is the devotee. So that is how Krishna established the scene. In the 7th chapter Krishna is beginning to give the understanding of devotional service.

At this point I will invite questions. Does anybody have any questions?

You can do two things. If you have any questions during the class you can write it down and you give me that paper. Or you can ask the questions and we will give you the microphone.

Question: Hare Krishna. What is the difference to be spiritual and to be religious?

Answer: If the understanding is clear, that religion is the science to understand the spiritual reality or study the spiritual reality then there is no difference between a spiritual person and a religious person. But if religion means a faith, this faith or that faith, because I am born in this faith I have to follow that, without any systematic scientific understanding, then there is a difference. Then in that context, a religious person is one who is faithfully following his faith. I am a Hindu therefore I am following these instructions. Or I am a Muslim therefore I am following these instructions. As a Muslim I am supposed to do this. As a Christian I
am supposed to do this. Then that person can be considered to be religious but he may not be spiritual as such. Because if he doesn’t have the spiritual understanding he cannot be considered to be spiritual. In the ultimate sense, in the real sense, a spiritual person is also truly a religious person. Thank you very much.

Question: Hare Krishna, Maharaja. My question has to do with the point you made with regards to varnasrama dharma and devotional service. You mentioned
that one has to work according to his nature. Therefore you get the different varnas based on the natures of persons. I wanted to understand that in devotional service, when we mentioned that also one must be engaged according to his nature, how do we determine the nature of the person?

Answer: First of all, in devotional service, there is no consideration of being engaged according to nature. Rather, let’s put it this way, the varnasrama consideration or  karma yoga, and devotional service is that in karma yoga one is acting according to his own desire and offering the results to Krishna. That is karma yoga. Whereas in devotional service, one doesn’t have the consideration about what he wants to do, what he likes to do. Rather, his consideration is that what he has been asked to do by his spiritual master. Here also I will say that the spiritual master doesn’t necessarily mean just the diksha guru; his spiritual authority. Whatever he says, he acts according to that. No personal consideration. If it was a personal consideration, Arjuna would have rather left the battlefield than fight. But because Krishna, his spiritual master, is asking him “Fight!” Arjuna says karisye vacanam tava. So that is the difference between devotional service and karma yoga. Your question was specifically about varnasrama, or one’s inherent characteristics. You see that consideration is there as opposed to varanasrama because in the age of Kali there is no varnasrama, there is no varna. There is only one varna, sudra. So that is the state of Kali yuga; most of the people are actually sudra. In Kali yuga you cannot really decide the varna of an individual according to his birth or background. In other ages one could, because brahmana parents gave birth to a brahmana child. There were some rare exceptions where in the womb of a brahmana mother, a demon was born. Normally in the brahmana family a brahmana will take birth. Because when the varnas were pure then right kind of individual will take birth accordingly. In the ksatriya family, a ksatriya-like personality will take birth and so forth. In the age of Kali there is varnashankar, mixture. It is impossible to figure out who is who. In the family of a brahmana a demon can be born and in the family of a sudra, a brahmana can be born, people with brahmanical qualities can be born. Therefore the direct process of Krishna consciousness has been given in this age. Become a devotee. To be a devotee there is no consideration of varnasrama. A devotee is a devotee, a surrendered soul. He is no more on the bodily platform. His dharma is not the dharma of the body. His dharma is the dharma of the soul and he is expected to function according to the dharma of the soul. But still when one is being engaged in his service, then the propensities, whatever he is good at, he should be given that service. Whatever one has a natural propensity for; one should be directed towards that service. So that is consideration for engagement in devotional service.
Like, if somebody is a good cook, engage him in cooking in the kitchen. But if he likes to cook, he is a good cook and if he is given a service like go and sing in the temple. He has a voice that makes even donkey feel embarrassed (laughter), and he knows that he can’t sing. If he is given that service then he will not be inspired. Devotional service is a matter of inspiration. Engage them in such a way that he will naturally feel inspired to do that more and more. That is the art of engaging individuals in devotional service. Engage them in what they like to do. And everything can be spiritualised. Everything can be offered to Krishna. You like to cook, go ahead and cook for Krishna. You like to sing, go sing for Krishna. You like to write, write for Krishna. You like to speak, speak for Krishna. So when one is inspired to do things that he spontaneously, naturally likes to do, then he will be inspired to do that.

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Transcribed by His Grace Ramvijay Prabhu
Edited by Her Grace Hemavati Radhika Devi Dasi