Spiritual Association Takes Place Through Hearing And Chanting

Spiritual Association Takes Place Through Hearing And Chanting


Founder-Ācārya: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda

Introduction Lecture Radhadesh Retreat 01 August 2011.


His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Hare Kṛṣṇa.

Devotees: Hare Kṛṣṇa.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda. So, is everyone properly situated? Everyone got his accommodation or her accommodation. Is there anyone who has any complain? Don’t feel shy.

Devotee: Guru Mahārāja, she is saying, we don’t have sea view.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Well! You don’t have the sea view, because we want you to see the spiritual sky.

Devotees: Haribol.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Why should we be distracted by some material beauty? In order to appreciate the spiritual beauty, we have to turn our face away from material attraction. Are you all ready for that?

Devotees: Yes.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: You have to make a lot of sacrifice. Spiritual life again means sacrifice. Give up material things to get the spiritual wealth. Give up material sufferings in order to experience spiritual bliss. So, what do you want? You want material suffering? You have two options open to you. Do you want, how many of you want material sufferings?

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: And how many of you want spiritual bliss? Very good. I have a wonderful audience. So, as you know that I started these spiritual retreats because at one point I felt that travelling to different places is not really fulfilling the actual purpose. Say, for example, I go to London for five days. What do I do? I get invitations from five different houses, from five different devotees. I actually get invitations from 25 different devotees, but I can handle at the most, five and what is the program? I go to their house, do a little kīrtana, do a little talk, many of you come and then how do you spend rest of the time? Eating prasāda and sleeping. Not only London, that is I am just giving an example. So, usually when I travel like that, that’s what I end up doing, and many devotees complain that, they do not have enough time to associate with me. They don’t have sort of enough spiritual association. We associate, maybe we are there, but that association doesn’t really have the proper purpose served. So, that’s why I thought and at that time my health also was not, not very good. I felt that we did two things: one is I won’t be able to travel like I used to do before and I wouldn’t be able and I was not really having enough association with devotees. Therefore, I thought that I will start this program. Probably you remember the first one we had, was in Switzerland. That was about four years back, four or five years back. So, and what was the objective? The objective was we will be away from everything; we will be away from home; we will be away from our usual surroundings and go to one place and stay there for seven days. Seven days we will be together morning till night, not only morning till night, 24 hours, and in that way I could get your association and you also could be in a kind of temple atmosphere like morning till night you could be in the spiritual atmosphere. Day begins with the japa and Maṅgala Āratika. Of course, we have Maṅgala Āratika not at 4.30 but little later may be at 6 or 6.30. Maṅgala Āratika, Guru pūjā then two three classes and lots of association and in the evening also Prabhupāda kathā session, where everybody have to speak about Śrīla Prabhupāda and so, the point is for seven days we can be together to properly associate. Properly associate means we can associate with each other on the Kṛṣṇa consciousness plane, spiritual plane, that is the main purpose of these retreats.

How many of you have, how many of you are coming to the retreats for the first time? Okay and how many of you have been in the retreat in the past all of you those of you. So practically most of you have been and that you are coming again and again that shows that you are appreciating. Do you come to the retreats because you like or you come to the retreats because I will get upset.

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: How many of you come to the retreats because I will be upset with you?

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Okay, how many of you come to the retreats because you really appreciate? Thank you. So, and so here we are in another retreat. The first time we had was in Swiss Alps, then we had two retreats in Malaga oh this is the fourth retreat fourth retreat and these retreats I am having everywhere, I mean, everywhere means many other places. This year we are having the retreat in America. Four years back we had the retreat in Malaga, I mean in… what’s it called?

Devotee: Kandersteg.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Kandersteg. It’s a beautiful place actually. It’s in Switzerland in Swiss Alps where the road ends. The road ends there on the Alps and right there is a hotel, the skiing resort. People go there for skiing. And that hotel is there for those who want to go for skiing and there is a cable car that takes you high up in the mountains. It can be quite scary [Laughter].

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Because all the, I mean when you look down when you are going in the cable car, you see thousands of feet down in the base of the mountain and then you go to the next mountain, on top of the mountains and practically far from the madding crowd in the beautiful Swiss Alps. Actually there is a glacier. We were walking and we there are, even in the middle of the summer there was ice. That means the ice never melts there. It’s a glacier. And, anyway, so first year we had it there. Then the next one we had, was in Orlando. I was in Orlando in America and so we started that one in America, also another retreat. When the devotees in America heard that in Switzerland we had it on Swiss Alps, they also wanted to show, America is not lacking by any chance. So, they had it in the mountains of Colorado. There is a very beautiful skiing resort called Vail and we had one hotel, one holiday Inn hotel. We took over the entire hotel. We took over the hotel. We took over their kitchen. We took over their banquet hall and the devotees cleaned the kitchen completely with cow dung [Laughter].

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: And everything and the banquet hall was turned into a temple hall and classroom and in this way we had a beautiful retreat there in Vail. Then in, here in Europe, they said: “Okay, our asset is not only mountains. We also have oceans.” So the next one was organized in Malaga in the Costa del Sol in the Sun Coast of Spain and everyone liked that location so much, that last year again we went to that place. I am sure many of you remember that and many of you participated in that and then the consideration was why not have it in a temple of Radhadesh because Radhadesh have so many wonderful facilities and Hriday Caitanya Prabhu who is the GBC and temple president of Radhadesh, he was requesting me, Rāmānanda was pushing me. So, we finally decided to have it in Radhadesh. So are you all happy to be here?

Devotees: Yes.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Okay. So, next few days we will have lot of association. Association means what? Association is communication. Just physical closeness is not the criteria for association, that is not the factor for association. The real association is through proper communication and communication means hearing and chanting. Proper spiritual association takes place through hearing and chanting. We hear and what we have heard, we share it with others. That is proper or not only proper, that is the factor of communication, that is the factor of association. Say for example, you have your neighbours who you know, they are there for last so many years. You see them, but do you associate with them? Not really. Why not? Because there is no line of communication, although they are there, they are close to you and sometimes Prabhupāda used to give an example of bedbug, very close to you, he also sleeps on the same bed as you, but do you really associate with the bedbug? Rather it simply causes you disturbance and you are upset with it. Of course, in UK you don’t have or in Europe you don’t have bedbugs and I hope also that you won’t get bedbugs. But in India, I remember, in early days in India, there used to be lot of bedbugs and they just suck your blood. So, we have to understand association is not just a matter of physical closeness. Our association means spiritual intimacy. So, we have to come here to associate with each other. It is not that you only associate with the senior devotees. Actually we are here to associate with all devotees. Spiritual life has different grades of elevation. The first, the beginning of spiritual life is, what is the criteria for beginning your spiritual life? Ādau. ādau means beginning. At the beginning there is śraddhā, ādau śraddhā. At the beginning there is śraddhā. How many of you the Sanskrit word śraddhā, the meaning of the Sanskrit word śraddhā? Yes Rishikanta.

Devotee: Faith.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: What is the meaning of the English word faith?

Devotee: To have belief in something.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Okay, to have belief in something. In Sanskrit this word faith has been described as śraddhā śabde viśvās kohe sudṛḍha niścaya kṛṣṇa bhakti koile sarva karma kṛt hoye. The word śraddhā means implicit faith. sudṛḍha niścaya firm faith that kṛṣṇa bhakti koile sarva karma krit hoye. If we render devotional service to Kṛṣṇa, then everything will be accomplished, everything will be achieved, everything will be executed. Kṛṣṇa bhakti koile sarva karma krit haya. Everything is done if you just serve Kṛṣṇa. So, that is the meaning of the word śraddhā. So, the – so śraddhā means to have, what was the beginning of śraddhā. The beginning of śraddhā is Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, that faith. What is the faith? The first factor for faith is Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Anybody have any doubt about that?

Devotees: No.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Very good. Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And then it goes further, okay, Kṛṣṇa is God, then, who am I in relation to Kṛṣṇa? So, this is the second consideration of śraddhā. Who am I? Am I Kṛṣṇa’s competitor, or Kṛṣṇa’s part and parcel? What is my identity? I am jīva. I am not God, God’s part and parcel. Just like a ray of sun is a part and parcel of the sun. Now is a ray ever be considered to be the sun? Can the ray ever become the sun? No sun is sun and a ray is a ray. Now qualitatively a ray is also like the sun. sun has light, a ray has light. sun has heat, a ray has heat. So, qualitatively sun and a ray is one, but quantitatively sun is the source of all the rays of light and a ray of light is just a part and parcel, insignificant, minute, tiny little part and parcel of sun. so, that is the understanding, that is the second consideration. We are jīvas. There are three, there are two consideration, īśvara the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the living entity. Now what is the relationship between the part and the whole? What is the relationship between the part and the whole? Yes.

Devotee: The part serves the whole.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Very good. The relationship between the whole and the part is, that the part’s business is to serve the whole. Take any part, a part of a machine. A part of a machine, no matter how insignificant it may be, why it is there? Why a screw is there in the huge machine? Because the screw is serving some purpose. Right? Now if the screw stops to serve the machine. Like it is supposed to be connected to the crank shaft of the machine and if it is dislocated from there and lying on the floor, will it have any meaning or purpose or value? No. okay, then we can draw this example a little further. A part of a leaf of a tree, leaf is a part of the tree. Now although tiny, very, very little this leaf may be, a very insignificant part of a tree; a Banyan tree has millions of leaves, but what is each leave doing with the Banyan tree? Are they doing something for the tree? Now when that leaf stops doing that then what happens to the leaf? Fall off the tree. So, how does a part remain connected to the whole?

Devotee: [unclear]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Through rendering the service that it is meant to execute. So, similarly we are parts and parcels of Kṛṣṇa. Now, what are we meant to do? What are we supposed to do? We are supposed to serve Kṛṣṇa. If we do then only we will be connected to Kṛṣṇa. Now are we doing that? Or since time immemorial we haven’t been doing that, therefore, we have been separated from Kṛṣṇa, just like the leaf. Okay, another example can be drawn. Because examples are there to make the point or make the understanding clear, to clarify examples are there. Examples are not in itself the same thing like for example when I gave the analogy of machine and the bolt. Like it is not that the machine is Kṛṣṇa and the bolt is the living entity, but through that example we are understanding something. Similarly, when I gave the example of a tree and the leaf, it is not that Kṛṣṇa is the tree and the living entity is the leaf but through that we are actually getting the clear understanding in mind. Okay, another example that can be given in this respect is: A spark, a spark of fire. When the spark comes out of the fire, what happens to the spark?

Devotees: [unclear]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: It becomes extinguished. It loses its fiery qualities. A spark is fire, right? But spark is tiny fire. When that tiny fire, the spark comes out of the fire, does it maintain its fiery qualities? No. It loses its fiery qualities and then what happens? What is next to the fire? Ash,the heap of ash and it falls on the heap of ash and it becomes ash. Now does the ash has the same quality as the fire? No. The ash actually has the opposite quality of the fire. So, although a spark was a tiny fire by falling in the ash it developed the quality of the ash and lost the quality of the fire. Now our situation is something like that. Kṛṣṇa is like the fire and we are like a tiny, little spark, the spark. Qualitatively we are one with Kṛṣṇa but we are very tiny, but when we came out, that means when we severed our relationship with Kṛṣṇa, then we lost our spiritual qualities and developed the qualities which are opposite to Kṛṣṇa. What is the quality opposite to Kṛṣṇa? Kṛṣṇa’s external energy, Māyā, Material Nature and what are we doing? Although we are spiritual, we are identifying ourselves with the material nature. Identifying ourselves with the material nature means we are identifying, we are thinking that we are matter, forgetting our spiritual identity. This body is made of what? This body is made of matter. And we are thinking that I am this body, I am this matter. Right? So, that is what happened to us. Tiny little spiritual spark that we were because we severed our relationship with Kṛṣṇa, we have become, we have lost our spiritual qualities and we are identifying ourselves with something which is diametrically opposite to Kṛṣṇa.

Now a tiny little spark lost its spiritual qualities, I mean fiery qualities and became ash, but actually it has a potency of being reignited, isn’t it? Can’t the spark become reignited again? But in order to reignite the spark what do we have to do? For the spark, for the tiny little speck of inflammable object that now is lying in the heap of ash, if it has to regain its spiritual, I mean fiery qualities, what does it have to do? Put it back to fire, come in contact with fire. Then what will happen? It will again be ignited into the fire that it was. So, because of our separation of Kṛṣṇa, we have fallen into Māyā. Now, the way to reignite or re-spiritualize ourselves, what do we have to do? We have to reestablish our relationship with Kṛṣṇa. And, how can that be done? So this is actually the viśvās aspect, śraddhā, faith. We have to theoretically,practically understand these words, sambandha and now we have to go to abhideya– the means how to do it? The beginning of that is what comes after śraddhā, ādau śraddhā tatau sādhu saṅga associate with devotees. Sādhu saṅga because in the association of devotees our śraddhā becomes stronger, our śraddhā becomes firm in the association of devotees. How does it happen? Again we go back to the original point, when we associate — what does it mean to associate with devotees? Association of devotees means hearing and chanting. Hearing and chanting means again it’s not just a formal hearing like, we sit in our classroom like this and somebody gives a lecture and you listen to the class. Not only that. That is a important criteria but this is not the only factor for association. The real association is through communication. Communicate. what is the communication? guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati, guhyam ākhyāti inquire or it is even more clearly described tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā, paripraśnena sincere inquiry sincere inquiry. If you want to know something, what we have to do? You have to ask. Other person may give it to you but while you are listening to him, it is important that if some clarification is necessary then ask, because what is knowledge? Knowledge actually means removal of ignorance. The spirit soul has the knowledge. The actual knowledge is there with the spirit soul sat, cit ānanda. A spirit soul has three qualities. Spirit soul is eternal; spirit soul is full of knowledge, cit; eternity, knowledge and bliss. So, spirit soul has the knowledge. Then what happened? The knowledge is covered, it’s avidyā. In material nature our situation is we are in ignorance because our knowledge is covered. So, real knowledge is or to achieve, to receive knowledge means removal of ignorance. The example in that respect can be given. You take a light bulb. If the light bulb is painted with black on the surface, will any light come out?

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: No. So, in order for the light to come out, you have to scrub off the black paint. If you can remove the black paint or as you remove the black paint the light will come out. So, similarly our soul is covered with avidyā, as a result of that our soul is in ignorance. Now, as we remove the coverings of ignorance, the knowledge will begin to come. Therefore, it is important, in order to remove the covering, we have to hear and if we have any lack of understanding, if we are lacking any understanding or if we have any doubt, then we must question in order to remove that. So that is the purpose of sādhu saṅga. That is the way to associate with devotees guhyam ākhyāti and pṛcchati. There are four other considerations also of association with the devotees sad viddha prīti lakṣaṇaṁ. There are six kinds of favourable loving exchange. Those favourable loving exchanges are dadāti, pratigṛhṇāti, give and take. We have to give. And when they give us something, we take. And then guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati, sincerely inquire from him and reveal your heart to him as well. If there is something in your heart, then share it with him and bhuṅkte bhojyate ca eva. So, bhuṅkte: make him eat and when he offers you something you accept. So, we can start with bhuṅkte bhojyate. Did you all like the prasāda today?

Devotees: Yes.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: okay, very good. And sometimes the devotees are cooking and you are eating and sometimes you also cook or help in the kitchen. This will be one aspect of association. Not that just three, four devotees who have the responsibility to cook, they have to feed everybody, share their burden or sometimes go to the kitchen and help them. So this is the way that we have to associate with each other. And then guhyam ākhyāti pṛcchati not only listen to them, listen to the senior devotees in the class but also have that loving exchange or proper communication with each other. You are here to become friends with each other. Just consider there is an opportunity, how many friends you have? You may have some friends, but here you have the opportunity to make friends with 200 devotees. So, take advantage of this opportunity and dadāti pratigṛhṇāti not only expect, well! They will give me and I don’t have to give them anything. Receiving is nice, but giving can be even nicer. So, have these six kinds of loving exchanges with the devotees now that you have the opportunity. Become friends, become close to each other. This is a family and we have the opportunity for so many members to come together. Don’t you like, don’t you enjoy when some relatives come to your house. I don’t know how you feel [Laughter].

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Nowadays? But I remember, when I was young and when my cousins came to our house, it was a festival for us and when we went to our cousins house that was the festival for them. So, we have to consider that it is an opportunity like that. That 200 relatives are here. we got the opportunity to get together. So, in this way we develop our loving exchange, prīti lakṣaṇaṁ. The word prīti lakṣaṇaṁ is loving exchange, the symptoms or means for loving exchange. Thank you all very much. All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda. So, if you have any complain, difficulty, I won’t say complain, if you have any difficulty please do not hesitate to let us know and if you have any suggestions please feel free to express it. And you got this booklet, in the booklet there is. Did everybody get the booklet?

Devotees: Yes.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: who is in charge? Should give them. Okay, everybody will get the booklet on your way out. Is it that Rajesh Kṛṣṇa on the way out… We have enough. Okay, how many do you have?

Devotee: [Unclear]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Okay, so, this booklet you get them on the way out. You don’t have to fold, they will fold themselves. And so in the booklet you will have all the details, like, who is who? That means if you have certain complain who to approach and on top of everyone it’s me. If you have any complain you think you feel that others are not others are not entertaining you can come and tell me and I will take care. Thank you very much. Does anybody have any question? Yes.

Devotee: Mahārāja, I want to say that you asked us do you believe in Kṛṣṇa as a God? So, I want to ask you, “Did you believed in Kṛṣṇa before you met Śrīla Prabhupāda?”

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Not really. It’s Prabhupāda who made me realize Kṛṣṇa is God. That is I mean at least that is the case with me. What about you?

Devotee: Same thing.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Same thing. That’s the same thing with everyone.

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: We believed in God, but we did not have a clear understanding of God. I mean, rather I would say, even if we believed in God, we didn’t have a clear understanding. Many of us didn’t even bother to know about God. And that is Prabhupāda’s greatness. Śrīla Prabhupāda made everybody understand that Kṛṣṇa is God. In this respect, I would like to narrate one incident. When Śrīla Prabhupāda was establishing the International Society for Kṛṣṇa consciousness, Iskcon, in New York city, forty years ago, I am sorry, forty five years ago in 1966, Prabhupāda gave the name of the company, he was registering Iskcon, you know what Iskcon was like at that time? Iskcon temple was one-fourth of the size of this hall, may be even less, smaller, may be one-eight, can’t be one-forth, at least one-sixth. You divide it in this way: three sections and divide it in half so that was the size of Iskcon centre Manhattan 26 2nd Avenue and Prabhupāda only had a handful of followers and the lawyer came to register the company. So, they all including the lawyer suggested rather you call your society the international society for God consciousness, but Prabhupāda insisted no, this will be known as International Society for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness. But they said people in the West do not know who is Kṛṣṇa, rather you call it International Society for God Consciousness. Prabhupāda said no I have come here to teach them that Kṛṣṇa is God. Kṛṣṇa is God, that’s what Prabhupāda came to teach us. And we are seeing, we may have believed in God, but we didn’t know who God is. But Prabhupāda taught us that Kṛṣṇa is God. Hare Kṛṣṇa. Any other question? Paripraśnena sevayā.

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Ask questions because through questions and answers it becomes lively. Yeah.

Devotee: Mahārāja you said that śraddhā is the implicit faith that you have in Kṛṣṇa, then everything can be done doesn’t mean that if you don’t believe that if you don’t hundred percent believe that [unclear] Kṛṣṇa, everything will be done, so you rely on yourself, so you still are on the first stage of the nine stages.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: in the first stage of…

Devotee: the first stage of śraddhā, you are still on that [unclear] stage

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: that if you serve Kṛṣṇa then everything will be done

Devotee: If you don’t hundred percent believe like you know…

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Okay, okay, no. Even if your faith is not hundred percent you can continue to associate with devotees, sādhu saṅga. Actually all these nine, yeah, ādau śraddhā tathā sādhu saṅga bhajana kriyā anartha nivṛtti although they will take gradual development but at least first three can go on simultaneously. The first three are śraddhā, sādhu saṅga and bhajana kriyā because these three are the devotional service in practice. Here you are practicing that but as a result of that practice there will be anartha nivṛtti. So up to initiation it is practice, but then as you practice the process properly, then the result will be there. The outcome of the practice is in the result. What is the result? The result is that all the unwanted things from our hearts will be removed, anartha nivṛtti. Okay. Yes Anandavardhana.

Devotee: [unclear]

Another devotee: bottom

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Okay, give the mike.

Devotee: [unclear ]My question is …the association is very important.. we are seeing that.. but many devotees in … some …they don’t get to associate although they have the longing in heart to associate. So what is the way…

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Very good, very good point. When one is away from the association of devotees, How should he associate that’s your point? Create devotees, preach.

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Make devotees and associate with them. Right? Just see what Prabhupāda did. When he went to America was there any devotees in America? But what did Prabhupāda do?

Devotee: [Unclear]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: He created through his preaching so many thousands of devotees and the result is we are associating with each other. Preach, don’t feel shy and don’t be lazy. Preach and if you preach effectively that’s what the early devotees do, what the early devotees did. They went to different parts of the world and they preached; they made devotees and as a result of that Iskcon movement grew. So, associate, just preach. Say, alone they went, not only Prabhupāda went, following Prabhupāda’s step the early devotees went. Like, they went to… first from New York city from where Prabhupāda started, one devotee, Mukunda Mahārāja, at that time he was just initiated as Mukunda Das along with his wife, went to the West coast, San Francisco and he preached to his friends and some of his friends, Mukunda Mahārāja’s early friends were Syamsundara prabhu and Gurudas Prabhu and their girl friends. So, they became attracted. Then, collectively they rented a place like 26 2nd Avenue, a storefront in the Haight-Ashbury which was the centre of the Hippi culture of that time, in San Francisco, Golden Gate Park and then they invited Prabhupāda and when Prabhupāda came there, there was literally a Hare Kṛṣṇa explosion in the Hippi world. So, this is how we have to preach and expand this movement. And preaching again, what is the real preaching? Preaching means taking care. People actually, you see, people don’t, most of the people will not be attracted to the philosophy. They may appreciate the philosophy, but they won’t be able to really appreciate and commit themselves just for the sake of philosophy. Why the early devotees responded to Śrīla Prabhupāda? Did they understand the philosophy? No, but they responded to Śrīla Prabhupāda’ s love. So, that is what people respond actually. They respond to love, and the expression of that love is in care. So, we have to learn how to take care of each other.

So, that the family becomes so well situated, well established, that every member will have the confidence that I have nothing to worry about. I have this family. I have all these devotees around me. If anything happens, they are there and Iskcon actually does care. At the most difficult time, these devotees are going to really take care of each other, take care of us. What’s the most difficult time? The most difficult time is the time of death and when even the doctors give up, our devotees will be there, to assure us don’t worry we are there to chant for you and to remind you about Kṛṣṇa at the most critical time. So that is the family that Śrīla Prabhupāda created for us. Any other question? Yes Savitrā.

Devotee: [Unclear]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: I think I will need the microphone now, rather you will need the microphone [Laughter]. Give the mike switch it on and give it to her. Yes, it’s working. No this..

Devotee: Hare Kṛṣṇa Guru Mahārāja. This was the question people asked me during the class of Bhagavad-Gītā. We always say that the spiritual body is made up of sat cit ānanda which you mentioned three qualities but does it have a body like we have which is not made of matter but what is it exactly?

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yes. There is a spiritual body which is made of sat cit ānanda but the shape of the body will be according to our service to Kṛṣṇa. right? As we serve Kṛṣṇa, according to our service our spiritual body will develop and the service ultimately is in relation with Kṛṣṇa, in relation to the mellows, like different devotees have different mellows and in those mellows they will have specific bodies. That’s up to Kṛṣṇa. You begin your service and your spiritual body will develop. Ultimately what shape it will take is up to Kṛṣṇa. Because when it comes to service, we don’t decide how we are going to serve, our master tells us how to serve. So the development of the service will take place according to the guidance of our spiritual authorities and ultimately Kṛṣṇa.

Devotee: [Unclear]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: But there is a body, yeah, there is a body with hands, legs, ears, nose, mouth. There is a body, spiritual body made of sat cid ānanda.

Devotee: sat cid ānanda are the qualities?

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: sat cid ānanda is the spiritual substance. How is it? We won’t figure it out, we won’t be able to figure it out until we go to the spiritual sky.

Devotee: Guru Mahārāja, I thought most of the people have the four handed Viṣṇu form type of body.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Do they have the four handed form in Vṛndāvana?

Devotee: No.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Then.

Devotee: Doesn’t it say in Bṛhad Bhāgavatāmṛta?

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: It will depend. If you develop your relationship with Nārāyaṇa in Vaikuṇṭha then you have a four armed form, but if you develop your relationship with Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana or Caitanya Mahāprabhu in Navadvīpa, then you won’t have four armed form, but you will have a specific form according to that relationship.

Devotee: So, my second question is, this is also, the devotees asked me which I couldn’t answer them. Kṛṣṇa has innumerable incarnations. Twenty four of them are described in the Bhāgavatam and there are so many but why Veda-vyāsa has given the Vedānta and then Mahābhārata came out [unclear] so why there are different religious philosophies and have they come through the different incarnations of Kṛṣṇa?

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: First of all, different incarnations are in relation to the time and the necessity. Right? Say, when it was to deal with Hiraṇyakaśipu to protect Prahlāda Mahārāja the Lord has to assume the form of Nṛsiṁhadeva. Right? You know why? Right? Because Hiraṇyakaśipu had all these boons, He had to assume this form. The Lord had to assume form accordingly. Similarly to deal with Bali Mahārāja, He assumed the form of Vāmanadeva. To deal with the flood that inundated the whole creation, He had to assume the form of a fish. To enable the demigods and the demons to churn the milk ocean, he had to assume the form of a tortoise. So, it is according to the need of the time and place that the Lord assumes different incarnations. So, it is not that these incarnations of the Lord are haphazardly manifest. These incarnations of the Lord are with specific purpose. And as you are saying why there are different religions. Actually Vedas are speaking about only one religion. No, Vedas are speaking about two religions. Vedas are speaking about naimittik dharma and nitya dharma. Naimittik means they are based on the physical condition. Like you have different ‘dharma’ like if you are kṣatriya, you have a certain ‘dharma’. If you are a vaiśya you have a certain ‘dharma’. If you are a brāhmaṇa you have a certain dharma. So these are the dharmas according to the material body, body’s dharma. And then there is transcending body’s dharma it comes to nitya dharma or sanātana dharma which comes to soul. Soul is nitya, soul is eternal therefore dharma of the soul is eternal. So Vedas are talking about these two religions. One is varṇāśrama dharma that is the dharma of the body. And there is sanātana dharma body of the soul. And when it comes to the body of the soul that is the ultimate dharma that is only one dharma. There is no contradiction there. The soul has only one dharma. Body may have many dharmas. But the soul has only one dharma. What is the dharma of the soul? To love Kṛṣṇa, to love Kṛṣṇa is the sanātana dharma. Okay.

Devotee: Why then so many philosophies around? Muslim people…

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: So many philosophies. There are two kinds of philosophies. One is speculative philosophy and the other is the development of knowledge according to the Vedic presentation. Right? See speculative philosophies are, people, you know, see things, they encounter different situations and accordingly they develop their understanding, wisdom, that is one kind of philosophy but the Vedas’ six different branches of philosophy, sad darśana. Those sad darśanas are according to the development of spiritual understanding, like, you are in primary school. Then you are in high school, then you are in the college, then you are in the university. You may be studying the same subject, but according to different grades, that subject has different features. So, that is the Vedic Sad darśanas.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Thank You. Hare Kṛṣṇa. Yes Pālikā.

Devotee: Hare Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja. I just wanted to ask a question. When we went to Māyāpura or Vṛndāvana or any of the Holy Dhāma, what should our attitude be like and also how should we be preparing before entering the dhāma.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Tell me when you are going there [Laughter].

Devotees: [Laughter]

Devotee: During Kārtika time.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Okay. Yes. What is Māyāpura and Vṛndāvana? Why these two places are so special?

Devotee: In Vṛndāvana Kṛṣṇa is there.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Vṛndāvana and Māyāpura are places of Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes. So, places of Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes means what? Material or spiritual?

Devotee: Spiritual.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Spiritual. So these two places are spiritual sky extended in the material nature. So, when you go there, should you behave materially or spiritually? So, with that attitude one should go to Māyāpura and Vṛndāvana. What is the spiritual attitude? Spiritual attitude is to take advantage of spiritual opportunity. Right? And render service. So, with that attitude one should go to Māyāpura and Vṛndāvana. Just like, say in UK, you have US embassy in London, when you go to the US embassy, is it London or USA?

Devotee: USA.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: USA. It’s an extension of USA in London. So, why do you go to the USA embassy? To do something with USA. Right? To get the visa or something like that. So, get the visa means what? The approval to go there. So, when you go, similarly when you go to Māyāpura or Vṛndāvana which is an extension of spiritual sky, with what kind of attitude we should go there? To get a visa to go to the spiritual sky. Now, in order to get the Visa you have to become qualified. So qualify yourself for the Visa. Right? That means in order to get a visa, you need a recommendation letter. Right? Hotel booking. Right? Plane ticket. So, when you can present all that, then they will give you the visa. So, similarly to get the visa for the spiritual sky, go to Vṛndāvana and Māyāpura. Okay [laughter].There was a question at the back. Yes.

Devotee: [The question is not properly audible]. Guru Mahārāja my question is about association with devotees… …on practical level during festivals..we need to do our services, we need that too, you know.. we talk to each other, we nurture each other and then even after the festivals it tends to be that way, we are tired and weary. From the festival and I went to certain devotee who left his body in our temple and he was such a sweet devotee and very personal dealings with everybody and I just wanted to develop those personal dealings with each other and caring attitude.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Open your heart to the person. Open your heart means have favourable attitude become favourably disposed to that person. It may not be possible with everybody but at least with some body you can develop that relationship, and the main thing is open the heart. Here is an opportunity, take advantage of the opportunity, right, and here we are together and the classes are only for about six or seven hours a day, right, but the rest of the time is there to get to know each other, develop a relationship, and as you were talking about that wonderful devotee who left his body, like, just make him your role model. See what made him so wonderful. The way he acted, try to act in the same way. The way he behaved try to behave in the same way. That is how you will be really expressing your appreciation for devotees.

Devotee: Thank you Guru Mahārāja.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Hare Kṛṣṇa. Yes

Devotee: Mahārāja, you spoke about the spiritual body. It has two arms, two legs, two eyes.. but of course there are animals also in the spiritual sky.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yes. They have animal bodies. There are trees, plants, butterflies, birds, insects, all are there but they are all spiritual. There are even apparently inert objects like pillow, bed. They are also conscious there. They are also living entities. They are also sac cid ananda. Like in the spiritual sky even a pillow is spiritual. A pillow is a living entity. You know that sudarśana, Lord’s disc is also a person.

Devotee: [Unclear]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: [Unclear] is a person. In the spiritual sky everyone is a person.

Devotee: And also I think I have been reading somewhere that when you go to spiritual sky you can also change your bodies according to your service.. one body..

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: As I say like your service will be designated by Kṛṣṇa. In the spiritual sky there is no room for: “Oh why did I become in dāsya rasa?” Why am I a servant? Let me at least try to become a friend. No. That attitude, that mentality is absolutely absent in the spiritual sky. There everybody is completely tuned up to Kṛṣṇa’s desire. Whatever Kṛṣṇa wants, if Kṛṣṇa says you become an insect. The living entity feels, oh wonderful. Or, Kṛṣṇa says you become a cowherd boy, then also you say oh wonderful. Everyone is perfectly situated.

Devotee: Thank you Mahārāja.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yes. Hare Kṛṣṇa. Prema Pradip You can tell the question.

Devotee: Hare Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja. Let’s talk about the faith. If for some..devotees they have faith but they start to argue, so, how you can sort it out these things, they have faith for Kṛṣṇa… this person’s argues with some faith.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: They have argument.

Devotee: Yes. So how you can sort it out because they are devotees they have faith but they start arguing.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yes. If they can’t resolve it themselves then they should go to some senior devotees and take his help and guidance. Okay, so, any other question. Oh, yes, okay, Vṛndā.

Devotee: How can you serve Kṛṣṇa if you are just an ant?

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: How can you serve Kṛṣṇa…

Devotee: If you are just an ant.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: If you are just an ant. Well! The ant can carry a piece of sugar, a grain of sugar and can say Kṛṣṇa please accept it and Kṛṣṇa will accept it. In this way Kṛṣṇa allows everyone to serve Him. Okay?

Devotee: Guru Mahārāja, I want to ask something related to myself. How to work on laziness in our spiritual life?

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: That’s why.. The question is how to give up laziness in our spiritual life? That is why at the initial stage, we have to submit ourselves to the higher authorities and what the higher authorities ask us to do we should do it. So, this is how, now the question is that how will that happen? Again if we have the faith on the other person that if I can follow his instructions then I will make spiritual advancement, then will go out of our way to execute what he is asking us to do. Because if it is left to yourself, then you know you will render service and you will sometimes not. Therefore we need higher authorities or spiritual masters who tell us do this and because of our love for him and because of our faith in him we do it. And spiritual master doesn’t only mean initiating spiritual master. Spiritual master means higher authorities. If your temple authority tells you something, he should be accepted as his spiritual master and follow his instructions. Then what happens? Even though we may not like to do it because you have respect for your authorities you will go out of your way and do it. So this is the way to overcome laziness and then when you appreciate doing that, because when you do something for Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa reciprocates in such a wonderful way that you would like to do even more. So that will inspire to do more and more in your spiritual life and you will be able to give up your tendency to become lazy. Like today I was talking to Radhavinoda and Suresh and they were telling me how like last few days they have been so busy, but it seems that you know, like they don’t have they didn’t time to eat, they didn’t time to sleep. I mean not only Rādhāvinoda and Suresh I am sure many of you have experienced it. But you felt completely enlivened and energetic, why? Because you appreciate doing it, you like doing it. Right?

Devotee: And what is the right process to get initiation?

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: The right process in Iskcon at least is that you hear different senior devotees, spiritual masters and then you develop your faith in a particular senior devotee and then you approach him and then if he is willing to accept you as his disciple, then you report to your temple authority where you are, and the temple authority will guide you with the process of initiation. There is a test, that’s called initiation test and then they will guide you. They will wait for sometime, They will see how you are doing spiritually, whether you are serious, accordingly the temple authorities will report to the spiritual master and then the spiritual master will..

Devotee: Is any mentor required?

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yes you always require a mentor in spiritual life.

Devotee: How can we get a mentor?

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Your temple, that you have to find where you are. What arrangements the temple has and in Prabhupāda’s arrangement the temple president is the mentor of the devotees in that area, but in some areas can be divided with, the temple president may appoint other individuals to take care of devotees.

Devotee: Thank you Guru Mahārāja.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Mentor you always need, that is someone to guide you, you always need.

Devotee: And as you said we always need association, so, we all need your association in France, Paris please.. please sometime try to..

Devotees: [Laughter and rejoicing]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Okay, I will try to come.

Devotee: Thanks a lot. Hare Kṛṣṇa.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yes. There is.. Yes. Give the mike to

Devotee: Hare Kṛṣṇa Guru Mahārāja. [something said in an other language]

Another devotee: Shall I translate in English or you..

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Okay, the question is that in order to pray, do I first have to become clean in heart? The answer to that is, yes, but at the same time you have to pray. You translate.

Devotee: Please repeat

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: In order to, I mean, in order to make advancement you have to pray, but initially because you are neophyte, so you do not know how to pray. So, Prabhupāda said you repeat the prayers of the previous ācāryas, prayers of the senior devotees, advanced devotees.

Devotee: Guru Mahārāja my question was, in order to preach, should I have a clean heart or should I preach now when my heart is not clean?

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Oh, okay, okay, yes. Yes, thank you for correcting me. Yes. Yes, in order to preach you have to be pure hearted but at the same time Prabhupāda wanted everyone to preach because there is somebody who doesn’t know so much about Kṛṣṇa. You know more than them, therefore you preach. Like, for example, do you know that Kṛṣṇa is God? You know that Kṛṣṇa is God. Are there many people around you who do not know that Kṛṣṇa is God? Do you know others who do not know Kṛṣṇa? So, you go and tell them Kṛṣṇa is God. That is preaching. So, for that you don’t have to be pure in heart or so like that. Rather by preaching you will become pure hearted. Right? And in this respect Prabhupāda said that it is not that first we have to become qualified or pure devotees and then preach. No. Prabhupāda said wherever you are from that point you can preach. Yes Saraswati.

Devotee: [Unclear]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Thank you.

Devotee: Mahārāja sometimes I think that students, who need the association, students who are like this for Doctor.. who are interested by modern science and we find personally that’s the most difficult part of preaching, sometimes they have these arguments and I just don’t know what to say.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yes.

Devotee: Like how would you..

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: First of all, you know, one of the important things about preaching is never lose your temper [Laughter], right?

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Don’t get upset. That is one consideration. The second consideration is there is nothing wrong with modern science. Modern science did achieve a lot. There is no doubt about that, but when it comes to modern science not accepting God or denying God or God’s existence, that is the unfortunate aspect of it. But you know that aspect you can deal with proper, you know, common sense consideration, like I mean they may glorify the science, very good. And we can’t deny the advancement of modern science, the achievement of modern science. But the only problem is that modern science is based with the understanding that God doesn’t exist or their foundation is that, they have to reject God. That is the unfortunate thing about modern science. But we can deal with that in a simple way. Like I will give you an example: sometimes I ask a question like, did somebody make your watch or it just fell from the sky? Or was there a big explosion in an iron mine and the watch appeared? They have to accept somebody made the watch. Right? Can anybody say nobody made the watch, watch just appeared by itself? Will anybody accept it?

Devotee: [Unclear]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Right. What about your fountain pen that you are writing with? Did somebody manufacture that? Did somebody make that? Did somebody make this microphone? Now simple things like that, we have to accept that somebody made it. Then what about the stars and planets which is maintaining such a beautiful order. What about the world around us that is maintaining such a beautiful order? How can we say that it is just by chance happening? It is just a product of an accident? In that respect, one American philosopher I forgot his name, he once mentioned that the concept that the creation is a matter of accident is absurd as saying there was an explosion in a printing press and the pieces fell in such a order that Webster dictionary was produced. Yes, Saccinandana. Does it answer your question?

Devotee: Yes, Guru Mahārāja.

Devotee: Hare Kṛṣṇa Guru Mahārāja. My question is when we talk about Kṛṣṇa consciousness, often we have to say that..many times we have heard from so many Gurus that Kṛṣṇa Consciousness is going to go on for ten thousand years. Now, I have complete faith that yes it is going to go on but when we go and preach we need to give scriptural evidence. Now is there any..

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Our scriptural evidence is Prabhupāda said it. That is our scriptural evidence.

Devotee: So if someone says where did you..

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: There is, some Purāṇas actually mention that in an indirect way, I forgot which one is that that after Kaliyuga begins, for five thousand years Gaṅgā will purify the world but then for ten thousand years the Holy Name will purify the world. So that is one example. Like Gaṅgā will purify, Gaṅgā is, but then Gaṅgā will not purify, will not be able to purify. The world will become so sinful that it will only be the Holy Name that will be able to purify the sinful condition of this world.

Devotee: So, we just say Śrīla Prabhupāda said it.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: And main thing for us is what Śrīla Prabhupāda said is our scripture.

Devotee: Mahārāja, it is just a..

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: And then if somebody has such doubts, you know or doesn’t going to accept it, why go and tell them? O for ten thousand.. I mean make him, you at least become Kṛṣṇa consciousness [Laughter]. Don’t worry about ten thousand years.

Devotee: Thank you.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Hare Kṛṣṇa. Haribol. Is there any other question? Shyamlal Prabhu. Give the mike to Shyamlal Prabhu.

Shyamlal Prabhu: You said everything Mahārāja.

Devotees: [Laughter]

Shyamlal Prabhu: You explained

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Let it be. Let Shyamlal prabhu have that one because I will lead a kīrtana after that since he is sitting there I have to do something for him

Devotees: [Laughter]

Shyamlal Prabhu: Yes in the beginning as Mahārāja was explaining that the medium of this retreat will have wonderful association as Mahārāja goes in different parts of the world but Mahārāja forgot to say South Africa

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Actually in South Africa we have the biggest retreat. I just mentioned how it started but I didn’t go into the details. In South Africa we have, this time how many participants do we have here Rāmānanda?

Devotee: [unclear]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: About two hundred or more. In South Africa we have two hundred and twenty five last year. No not last year, early this year.

Devotee: In January.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yes.

Shyamlal Prabhu: Yes, so..

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: And in South Africa so many devotees are participating because Shyamlal Prabhu is preaching there.

Devotees: [Laughter]

Shyamlal Prabhu: No.

Devotees: [clapping and rejoicing]

Shyamlal Prabhu: Because of Śrīla Prabhupāda and many other very sincere devotees are preaching there and Mahārāja comes there and since Mahārāja is coming to South Africa, so many people we didn’t even expect to be devotee, but by meeting, by seeing, by listening to his talk or his presentation their heart is melting. Like, one example Mahārāja last August or October, that seminar

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: In January. No No I am sorry.

Shyamlal Prabhu: That conference you had.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yes, yes, that was in August.

Shyamlal Prabhu: August. I was cultivating one man. He was completely and he was a big time drunkard, big time meat eater, big time follower of another society, institution and he was a big business man, very wealthy man. I was struggling. I was working on him and I invited him to come to Mahārāja’s, that conference we had and once he heard Mahārāja, turned his heart and he wanted Mahārāja to come again. You remember again toward this year retreat then ….due to his illness but he came after that. That shows that where there is honey the bee flies.

Devotees: [Laughter]

Shyamlal Prabhu: And that’s why I am here. I am also following Mahārāja.

Devotees: Laughter[clapping and rejoicing]

Shyamlal Prabhu: And devotees, all the devotees have wonderful quality. Because of their wonderful qualities people get attracted. May not be an eloquent speaker, may not be highly qualified in material education, but because the sincerity from in, and I appreciate this kind of forum by which I see many devotees and I thank you Mahārāja doing this and also I get to see many wonderful devotees. Thank you. Hare Kṛṣṇa.

Devotees: [clapping and rejoicing]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Thank you Shyamlal Prabhu. Shyamlal Prabhu is a very old friend of mine. Shyamlal Prabhu joined Iskcon much before I did, whereas a matter of fact when I joined Iskcon, Shyamlal Prabhu was a big devotee.

Syamlal Prabhu: Now became a small.

Devotees: [Laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Shyamlal Prabhu used to preach in Calcutta in those days and then Syamlal Prabhu started to travel around the world. He has a wonderful ability to influence different individuals and that I have noticed is due to the way Shyamlal Prabhu takes care. There are many disciples of mine with whom I speak probably once in a three months, but Syamlal Prabhu speaks to them every week although they are far away from him, he phones them regularly and…. the wonderful quality that Shyamlal Prabhu has: He is very personal; He is very caring and this caring nature of Shyamlal Prabhu is very genuine. He goes out of his way to help devotees, individuals and people respond to that. Like I have said, from the early days I used to see that in the mid seventies in Calcutta, people really loved him because he loved them. And then Shyamlal Prabhu settled down in South Africa. South Africa is a beautiful field. I am sure many of you can relate to that because you are from East Africa and I have seen the Indians in those parts of the world are very different from the Indians of other parts of the world.

Devotees: Laughter.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: They have very genuine appreciation for their culture. In South Africa there are many Gujaratis who haven’t really been to India for generations, they haven’t been. May be three generations four generations back they came, they went to South Africa and settled down and none of the members went back to India but they all speak Gujarati and they maintain the Gujarati culture so nicely. They have Sunday schools where they learn Gujarati. So, this is how they have maintained their culture very nicely and they have in one hand, they have retained their Indian heritage and at the same time they are very western. They speak, they have developed very wonderful command over English language. So this is a very good blending of east and west there. ….That country has become independent. First of all that’s a very wonderful country. Like the Europeans went there, English, Dutch, Germans, Belgiums, they went and settled down. They developed that country because that country was very opulent. They developed it very beautifully. Like the south African cities are like the European cities it is just like Europe because it was created by Europeans in South Africa and of course their rule was very tyrannical. They were apartheid but finally South Africa became independent and now because they lost the whites, they have lost their power today, they have become quite humble and they have also become quite open to Kṛṣṇa consciousness especially when we present … the response is very nice and there are many interior clans who are actually coming forward to join this movement and anyway, so the Indians are favourable, the whites are favourable, the blacks are favourable. So it’s a very beautiful field for spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Hare Kṛṣṇa. Thank you very much.

Hare Kṛṣṇa kīrtana after this.


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Transcription : anonymous helper
Editing : Rāmānanda Rāya Dāsa