Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 3, Chapter 25, The Glories Of Devotional Service Text 14

Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 3, Chapter 25, The Glories Of Devotional Service Text 14


Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya

Srimad Bhagavatam, third Canto, chapter twenty five, text fourteen. This chapter is entitled ‘The Glories of Devotional Service.’

tam imam te  pravaksyami
yam avocam puranaghe
rsinam srotu-kamanam
yogam sarvanga-naipunam

tam imam-that very; te-to you; pravaksyami-I shall explain; yam-which; avocam-I explained; pura-formerly; anaghe-O pious mother; ?sinam-to the sages; srotu-kamanam-eager to hear; yogam-yoga system; sarva-anga-in all respects; naipunam-serviceable and practical.

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 which 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.
[End of Purport]

tam imam te  pravaksyami
yam avocam puranaghe
rsinam srotu-kamanam
yogam sarvanga-naipunam

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.

So Kapila Muni is answering the questions asked by His mother, Devahuti. We have seen the questions of Devahuti were so profound. What was the sum and substance of the questions of Devahuti? “How can I become free from this material bondage?” She also mentioned that she became disgusted with the onslaught of the senses. She had become sick of the onslaught of the senses. Onslaught of the senses is, the senses are always dragging our consciousness towards the objects of sense enjoyment and it is constantly hankering for sense gratification. Dhyayato visayan pumsah sangas tesupajayate sangat sanjayate kamah. [Bg 2.62] Kamah, the desire for sense gratification. So now Kapila Muni is answering the questions. He is providing her with the means to become free from the entanglement of the material nature.

In this context, in this verse, He is actually telling His mother that He is going to explain to her the process that He had long ago explained to the sages. Rsinam srotu-kamanam. Srotu-kamanam means, srota, sravana, hearing and srotu-kamanam, very desirous to hear. Actually, in order to understand any topic we have to become eager to hear. When we study something, what do we do? We go to the institution, college, school or university and there we have to hear. The more attentively we hear, the more information we get, the more knowledge we acquire. A good student is one who hears attentively and a bad student is he who doesn’t hear. And the worst student is he who doesn’t even attend the classes. It happens, especially in colleges. In the school we have restrictions. If we bunk, if we don’t go to the class, we will be questioned. But in the college that is not the case and in the university there is even more freedom. But a good student what he does? He regularly attends the classes, he hears attentively, he takes notes and then, as a result of that, at the end of the year, or at the end of the term he gets a good result. Mr. Juneja, you must have been a very good student. What about Nanda Vraja? So, I am sure all of you are very good students. But the thing is that the process must be perfect and one must hear attentively. One must acquire the knowledge attentively.

There are certain subjects we have practical demonstration, especially in the higher aspects of the studies we have the practical aspect. But with the transcendental subject matter there is no practical aspect as such. We can receive the knowledge only by hearing. That’s why this pantha is known as ‘srota pantha’, hearing, srota. There is some practical demonstration also. We can see it, but the most practical way to verify the knowledge is through our intelligence. The information is being provided and whether it makes sense, at most we can go to the practical aspect of this, that we go to a crematorium and see a dead body, and consider, what’s the difference between this body, when this person was alive and now that person is dead? What is the difference? At least we get some idea. And then we can apply this information or this practical perception to the knowledge that has been provided.

What is the first spiritual understanding? The first aspect of spiritual understanding is the presence of the soul, or our actual identity being the soul. That’s what Krishna did in Bhagavad Gita. He said, “The soul is never born, the soul will never die. Birth and death is not pertaining to the soul. Na jayate miryate va kadacin. [Bg 2.20] The soul is never born. The soul will never die.” Birth is only pertaining to the body. The body is born. The body is dead. When the soul takes up a new body, it’s called birth. When the soul leaves the old body it’s called death. So the practical application is there, practical perception is there. But the higher aspect of this knowledge we simply have to depend upon the information provided by the authorities.

And that knowledge actually started in a specific way. The first knowledge was imparted by the Lord to Brahma. He gave the knowledge to Brahma first. Tene brahma hrda adi-kavaye muhyanti yat surayah. [SB 1.1.1] This knowledge is so profound, so complex that muhyanti yat surayah, the demigods even become bewildered by this knowledge. They could not even understand this knowledge, muhyanti yat surayah. And in Bhagavad Gita also we see that Krishna is saying the same thing: yogah proktah puratanah. [Bg 4.3] And there also He used that same expression. Is it here? ‘anagha’? Puranaghe. Purana-anaghe, anaghe means sinless. In that respect pertaining to the knowledge Krishna also mentioned, He addressed Arjuna as anagha. So here we can see, what’s the meaning of the word anagha? The meaning of the word anagha is sinless. So to be qualified to receive this knowledge we have to become sinless. If we are sinful then we cannot receive this knowledge. That point has come up time and time again in Bhagavad Gita. Krishna mentioned so many times, those who become free from sinful activities, what is the verse? Yesam tv anta-gatam papam jananam punya-karmanam. [Bg 7.28] Yesam tu anta-gatam papam. Anta-gatam, the sins have become ‘anta’, ended. Those who have become free from sinful reactions. And those punya-karmanam, those pious activities [unclear]. Te dvandva-moha-nirmukta bhajante mam drdha-vratah. They very attentively, drdha-vratah, very strong determination, bhajante mam, they worship Me.

And in Bhagavad Gita also we see the same point. Krishna is telling Arjuna that, “I gave this knowledge to Vivasvan.” Krishna also at the beginning, He also pointed out that I am giving you the knowledge because you’re bhakto’si me sakhah ceti rahasyam hy etad uttamam [Bg 4.3], that I am imparting this rahasyam, that deep secret, great secret unto you, Arjuna, because you’re bhakto’si me sakhah ceti, because you are a devotee of Mine and you are a friend of Mine. So the qualification of receiving the knowledge from Krishna is devotional service. We have to become a devotee, otherwise He won’t. Do we reveal the secret to somebody who is a competitor? If we have a secret, do you tell the secret to your enemy? You tell the secret only to your friend, because you know that your enemies will take advantage of your secret. Or in business also, it is a very common thing. They keep their trade secret, they keep their secret and they don’t reveal that secret to others. But if they have a collaboration of somebody, say for example, Toyota has some secret of manufacturing their cars. Will Toyota give the secret to anybody and everybody? No, but if Toyota wants to join hands with Tatas and have a collaboration in India then they’ll reveal the secrets to them.

So, similarly, Krishna reveals His identity only to His devotees, not to anybody else. To others He leaves it up to them, “Okay, keep trying. Keep trying. And you’ll see what happens.” You won’t be able to reach that ultimate destination yourself. A wonderful example regarding that is Brahma, such a powerful individual. He wanted to get to know about himself. He didn’t know about the self but he was trying to find out the mystery of his identity, which he was. And Brahma had the ability to practically climb down from the universe and go all the way down to the Garbha ocean, the lowest part of the universe, the seven planetary systems. Brahma is seated on the topmost region in Satyaloka but he climbed down he came very close to the navel of the Lord but still he could not perceive the Lord. So that is how difficult it is, but those who are devotees, for them, although it is a deep secret, Krishna reveals it to them very, very easily. That is Krishna’s special mercy.

And this knowledge, Krishna is pointing out that this knowledge was age old. Sa kaleneha mahata yogo nastah parantapa. [Bg 4.2] This yoga was lost by the influence of time. Sa kaleneha mahata. And that’s why I decided to give this knowledge to you to revive this knowledge. Why? Bhakto’si me sakhah ceti. So here Prabhupada is making one point very clear in this purport, that the actual knowledge, the Absolute Truth, is constant. There is no need to change that. Nowadays it has become a fashion. People are coming and inventing their own thing. They say, “Yes, we invented a yoga system. We invented a process for spiritual advancement, for spiritual perfection.” Just as nowadays they come up with new medicine. “We have come up with a new medicine.” The pharmaceutical companies are coming out with new medicines every day because otherwise the commodity will never sell. Old medicine people are not interested and through their research they are making some sort of improvement. But with the spiritual knowledge there is no room for improvement. That is absolute. The Supreme Personality of Godhead has given the perfect process and there is no need to improve that or change that.

In relation to Absolute Truth we can see that certain things are like, for example, the sun rises in the east. Will the sun ever rise anywhere else but in the east? No. So, similarly the ultimate consideration is that the living entity’s constitutional position is that he is the eternal servant of the Lord and he must become the servant of the Lord. That is the ultimate consideration and that’s what is being pointed out time and time again. Surrender, surrender, surrender to the Lord. Recognize who is the Lord, identify yourself who you are and then become engaged in that occupation. Just become engaged in that occupation. You are a servant, so become a servant to the Lord and you will see how all your problems will be solved. Once you become a servant of the Lord, no matter how difficult the situation may be, we always remain properly situated. We are always protected. The trouble actually starts when instead of becoming a servant we want to become the lord and master. If we are facing some difficulty today, if our mind is not peaceful, if internally we are not happy, then we have to understand that something is wrong in our practice of the process. Simple consideration is, instead of becoming the servant of the Lord we are trying to become the master of everything. If we remain the servant of the Lord then the Lord will take care of us and we will also depend upon Him and that’s how we become free from anxiety.

So often we come across this example, that a child when he is holding on to his father’s hand, can he possibly have any anxiety? He may be in a very difficult situation, like it is very dark, he is in the middle of a forest. But he is with his father. What the child will do at that time? Will he be afraid? He’s afraid but what does he do? He holds on to his father more tightly. “Daddy, daddy, I am afraid.” And the father says, “Don’t worry, I am here. Nothing to worry.” And especially when the father is a very powerful person, why should the child be afraid at a time like that? The assurance of the father is always there. So to become a devotee of Krishna means to accept Him as the supreme shelter, just the way a child holds on to his father, just like a faithful servant holds on to his master. Will the servant of a very rich person have any anxiety? No. He knows, “My master has all the means to take care of any difficult situation.” The trouble starts when we reject the master and we want to become the master ourselves. Yes, then we become full of anxiety.

Let’s consider, as we gave the example, we are in the middle of a forest. Krishna is there but we don’t want to recognize Him. What will be our situation? So many wild animals. We have to struggle because unless and until we surrender to Krishna, Krishna won’t come to our help. Krishna says, “If you want to be independent, become independent. Ye yatha mam prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajamy aham. [Bg 4.11] I’ll reciprocate the way one reacts to Me. Okay, become independent and let’s see.” That’s Krishna’s attitude. On the other hand when you depend upon Krishna then everything becomes so easy. This deep jungle, dark forest, in the middle of the darkness of the night, you may be in anxiety but then we know we are holding on to Krishna’s hand. And Krishna also gives us the assurance, “Don’t worry.” Then we come across a mountain. We cannot climb a mountain. If you are depending upon Krishna then Krishna will make arrangements to transport us on top of the mountain. Then we come across a cliff, then Krishna says, “Don’t worry!”, and He makes us fly across that cliff. So this is how Krishna always takes care of everything. Now the question may arise, does Krishna really do that? And the answer is: why don’t you try it? Just try it and see what happens. Depend upon Krishna and see what happens. And you will see how Krishna takes care. It’s not a fairy tale. It is a reality that we are dealing with.

So Prabhupada is pointing out that when people come up with these new ideas, new theories we simply have to reject them. There is nothing new. Krishna has given the age old system. That came at the beginning of creation. Brahma received it from the Lord Himself and still today that process is available through the disciplic succession. So let’s accept the process. It’s available. What Krishna gave at the time of creation to Brahma the same process has become available. On the other hand this process has become very simplified due to the mercy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Krishna came and gave the same process in a simplified way. Simplified way means it’s not that He gave something new. Simplified way means the qualification that was necessary to get this, to get to the point, we don’t need that qualification anymore. The qualification was to follow the process of the Karma Kanda section of the Vedas, to follow the Jnana Kanda section of the Vedas and then come to this platform of bhakti. After achieving the perfection of yoga one used to come to this platform of bhakti. But now we don’t need any such qualification. To get into the university you have to be a graduate. That’s the minimum qualification but the government, the king, started a new system. He said, “You don’t have to be a graduate. Even if you are illiterate you’ll get admission to the university.” He can do that because he is the king. And he is making the system so easy because this system is actually very easy. This process is very easy. The only thing is we have to get rid of our false ego and we have to learn to surrender.

Actually, all those practices were there to get rid of the false ego through the process of Karma Kanda and Jnana Kanda. Eventually when one used to come to the point of purification, perfect purification, then he used to become free from all the contaminations of the heart, of which the most dangerous one is the false ego. So after overcoming false ego one used to come to the platform of surrender because unless and until we are free from false ego we won’t be able to surrender. Now that used to be done in a very arduous way, one used to get rid of the false ego. But Caitanya Mahaprabhu made this point very clear, that why hold on to your false ego? Just get rid of your false ego and surrender. So if the admission of the university is to surrender, then there are two ways that we can surrender. One is becoming qualified by dint of our own endeavor and the other way is just achieving the perfection by getting rid of our false ego.

And that’s why the most important consideration for achieving, acquiring this process is trnad api sunicena taror api sahisnuna. We have to simply become more humble than a blade of grass, more tolerant than a tree. That’s the only qualification. And this admission to the process is very simple because the qualification is not be become big. This qualification is not by becoming big but this qualification is by becoming small. The trouble starts when you try to become big but when you try to become small, then it is not difficult at all. If my height is five feet six and if I want to become six feet two, it will be very difficult for me. But if my height is five feet six and if I want to become four feet two then it will be very easy for me. It’s not at all difficult. To become small is not difficult, to become big is difficult. In order to become big you have to have so many things but in order to be small you have to get rid of so many things. Getting rid is easier than acquiring possession. If you have ten thousand rupees and if you want to have one lakh rupees then it will be very difficult for you because you have only ten thousand. But if you have ten thousand rupees and to have a hundred rupees, will it be difficult? Get rid of nine thousand nine hundred and you will have hundred rupees. [laughs] And what to speak of having nothing. To come to the point of having nothing is the easiest thing to do, no possessions whatsoever, no material possessions whatsoever. We are just completely free from all possessions.

I remember when we were young, we used to know a song: a poor man wants to be a rich man and the rich man wants to be the king but a man who has nothing, he is the king of kings. [laughs] So everybody wants to become big but actually the real source of joy, the real achievement is to become free from all our possessions. And that is what Krishna is reminding us and Kapila Muni is reminding us.

Thank you very much! All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Does anybody have any questions? Yes?

Devotee:  The first requirement that is listed is that one should be sinless and the second there comes the surrender of oneself. How to achieve that?
BCS: Yes, to be sinless means, you see, the sin is standing on four legs. Those four legs of sin are meat eating, taking intoxication, indulging in illicit sex and gambling. So if you abstain from these four preeminent sins then sin will be able to touch you. That’s why in ISKCON we follow the four regulative principles because all sins are pertaining to these four activities. So when one abstains from these activities sin cannot touch you. And becoming free from false ego is by hearing the glory of Lord Krishna. The more we hear the glory of Krishna the more we realize how great He is and then in relation to His greatness we begin to see how insignificant we are. We really begin to see that how He is the Supreme Controller, how He is the Supreme Creator, how He is the Supreme Maintainer, how He is the Supreme Enjoyer. And then we see ourselves as so minute. If we consider ourselves in relation to Krishna, Krishna’s ability, like, what He didn’t do? Like He just lifted Govardhana and held it there for seven days. Who can do that? Now one may think, well, this is just a story, a fairy tale. But then the question is, if it is a fairy tale, then how come the greatest of the intellectuals, the most brilliant personalities are accepting this? The people those who are following Krishna, those who are following the instructions of the scriptures, they are not ordinary individuals. Like, for example, Vyasadeva, such a giant of an intellectual person. There is a history of these individuals, like Sukadeva Goswami. If we don’t want to go that far, even in the recent past we have seen like, Bhaktivinode Thakura,  I mean such a brilliant personality, holding such a big position in the British government, and he is accepting this. Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, of his time he was considered to be the most brilliant person. And look at his writing, so brilliant! Then in the recent past we have seen Srila Prabhupada, so brilliant! Why these personalities are accepting it? If they could accept it and if they have accepted it as the Absolute Truth, why should I hesitate? So in this way, you see, our faith increases by hearing or reading the glory of Krishna. And as a result of that, as we become aware of the greatness of Krishna we begin to appreciate His greatness. And when we appreciate His greatness, then what happens? Automatically we will become humble. So that is the process.

Devotee: If we accept bhakti and we surrender and everything, is it necessary to go through all these scriptures? Because you already surrendered and started bhakti.
BCS: All this?

Devotee: All these scriptures and all because the ultimate aim of the person is to be a bhakta and for that you become sinless, you surrender yourself, then…
BCS: Yes. Well, if you have achieved the pure devotion then you don’t have to do anything. [laughs] But if you are not in the pure devotional platform then you have to practice to achieve the perfection. So these are the art of the practice. Like, you see, there are two expressions: siddhi and sadhana. You see, we do not become siddha straight away. To achieve the siddhi we have to do the sadhana. Yes, when one comes to the platform of perfection then there is no need for anything. Sarva-ksana bolo’ithe viddhi nahi ara. [Caitanya Bhagavat 2.23.78] If you are able to chant the Holy Name of the Lord all the time then there is no need for any rules and regulations. Yes?

Devotee:  Guru Maharaja, can you please explain the meaning of the word ‘sarvanga naipunam’?
BCS: Sarvanga naipunam has been translated by [as] ‘in all respects serviceable and practical.’ Nipuna means expert and sarvanga naipunam means expert in all respects. So now by practicing the yoga system, this yoga system is practical and perfect in all respects, serviceable in all respects. That means if we follow this process of yoga there is no need for any other process to follow. Sarvanga naipunam. Sarvanga means in all respect, naipunam means practical and serviceable. It is practical and it is serviceable.

Devotee: Practical and serviceable, it means both?
BCS: Another way to look at the word naipunam, naipunam is expert, practical and this process will make one expert in that process itself.

Devotee: Guru Maharaja, this yoga is different than the astanga yoga?
BCS: Yes, you see, astanga yoga is the process of controlling the body and the mind but this process is the yoga of the soul. So transcending the gross body and the subtle body you come to the platform of the spirit soul. As long as one is in the bodily platform he may need the process of astanga yoga. As long as one is in the mental platform he may need astanga yoga to control the mind. Actually, the purpose of yoga is citta vritti nirodha, yoga citta vritti nirodha. [Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, I.1.2] So this citta vritti, citta vritti is of the mind. So it is a matter of controlling the mind but beyond the mind is the soul. And this process is actually for the soul. So that’s why astanga yoga is a step to come to that. You control the mind, when the mind is controlled then you can see. Like, Patanjali’s yoga system actually explains that, that why the citta vritti nirodha, because as long as the citta has waves, vritti, then you won’t be able to see the reflection clearly. There is a lake and the water is full of waves, will you be able to see anything there? No, but when the surface becomes still, when there are no more waves then you can see, then this acts as a mirror. The lake acts as a mirror, the pool of water acts as a mirror. Similarly, when the mind becomes completely still then only we can see the Lord reflected in that, the reflection of the Lord in there as the Supersoul. So that is why the need for citta vritti nirodha. Otherwise the mind is always turbulent. Cancalam hi manah krishna pramathi balavad drdham. [Bg 6.34] The mind is cancala, very disturbed, very agitated. Now controlling the mind is very difficult, even Arjuna is saying. Krishna explains the controlling the mind through yoga but Arjuna said, “I won’t be able to do that.”  Tasyaham nigraham manye vayor iva su-duskaram. It is difficult to control.

Devotee: Guru Maharaja, as you said that when the mind is still then we will be able to see the Lord. So does it mean, when we are chanting our mind is wandering a lot. The degree the mind is wandering to that degree we are not [unclear]. I mean in the sense that we are not able to, our quality of bhakti is not to that extent good, to the degree that we are able to focus.
BCS: The difference is, you see, through yoga one is trying to make the mind still by dint of his own effort. But by chanting you are depending upon Krishna and constantly telling, “Krishna, I can’t control my mind. Please help me out.” And Krishna comes and helps us to the mind.

Devotee: In other words, to the degree the mind is focused on the Holy Name to that degree we are [unclear].
BCS: Yes, that’s right, yeah. Chanting has to be attentive. Attentive means hearing. Yes?

Devotee: [paraphrased] When we go through some difficulties and problems in life, then we tend to go the Lord and pray to save us from the difficulty or the problem. But when the Lord doesn’t reciprocate according to our wish how to keep our faith in such a situation?
BCS: You see, it will depend upon different individuals. Like, for example, with some individuals with his prayers the Lord will respond very quickly and with some it may take time but the best way to maintain faith is by remaining in good association. Say, your prayer hasn’t been answered. You are feeling bad. Then you go and tell a devotee, “Prabhu, this is what happened.” Then what will the devotee tell you? Depend upon Krishna. Krishna is not here to have a business with, Krishna is not an order supplier, that “Krishna, I want this and if You don’t then I won’t believe in You.” That shouldn’t be our attitude. Sometimes Krishna may fulfill our desire, listen to our prayer, but surrender means depending upon Him. At a neophyte stage only we want, “Krishna, do this for me.” But at an advanced stage we will hesitate to demand things like that from Krishna. Because at an advanced stage we realize that Krishna is not our servant, we are Krishna’s servants. If I need something, if I want something and Krishna doesn’t give it then we have to understand that this is not good for us. Krishna doesn’t want us to have it, that’s why He didn’t give it. Like a father or a mother. Do they fulfill the children’s desires all the time? Sometimes a child wants something which is not good for him. Will you give it to him? No. Similarly, sometimes we may desire something and Krishna knows that it is not going to be good for us. So Krishna will say, “No, you won’t get it. It’s not good for you.” So we must become good children and think that, “Well, Krishna, if You didn’t give then I have to understand that it is no beneficial for me.”


Transcription : Her Grace Ranga Radhika Dasi
Editing : Her Grace Hemavati Radhika Dasi
Audio reference: click here