27 Mar Jivan Mukta Studio, US, Question & Answer Session
INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS
Founder-Ācārya: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
The Following Conversation is a Question & Answer session which was held in the Jivan-Mukta Studio, US.
Interviewer: Another very important, very special event here. We have our guest Bhakti Charu Swami. Would you please join me in welcoming Bhakti Charu Mahārāja to our….
Public: [hand clapping]
Interviewer: He was not expected and it was a chance visit and immediately we seized on Bhakti Charu Swami to be our guest. After that we have a more formal introduction after we have an opening kīrtana. Right? So would you like to do some kīrtana now.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami sings Prabhupāda praṇati, Pancha Tattva prayers, and Hare Kṛṣṇa kīrtana.
Interviewer: Should we put this down or would you like to. Should we bring it down so that you can see Mahārāja.
Interviewer: I have a brief biography of Bhakti Charu Swami. Tell me if it’s out of date. His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami was born in Bengal 1945. That probably has not changed.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: [Laughter]
Interviewer: He spent most of his early life in the city of Kolkata. In 1970 he left India to study in Germany. While in Germany he discovered India’s millennial wisdom texts and richness of India’s spiritual heritage. In 1975 he returned to India to pursue a spiritual path. In the following year he received dīkṣā or spiritual initiation from A. C. Bhakitvedanta Swami Prabhupāda in the vaiṣṇava lineage.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: His Divine Grace
Interviewer: His Divine Grace
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda.
Interviewer: And soon after came to the renounced order of sannyāsa. In 1996 Bhakti Charu Swami took on the mammoth task of producing a 65 part television series on his guru’s life and teachings. The series is called ‘Abhay Charan’ and it premiered on the television. It has been seen in more than 20 countries. Bhakti Charu Swami developed a major cultural complex in Ujjain India which recently opened.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: 2006
Interviewer: In 2006 it was inaugurated. He travels frequently and is a popular speaker on the Indian spiritual path. Would you please join me once again and welcome our guest Bhakti Charu Swami.
Public: [hand clapping]
Interviewer: Where are you going to do this, those of you have been here for other such interviews are familiar with the format. I get to ask whatever I want of this big. Over here and well, then we can open up very quickly to questions and answers rather than a formal presentation. This is an opportunity for all of us to ask about the things that are important to us. What’s on our mind and Bhakti Charu Swami is a very popular preacher, he makes himself available to us for that purpose. I want to start by asking you. You and they are saying we are an older generation now, an older generation of Bhakti practitioners. What do you think has been the biggest change you have seen since you contacted Śrīla Prabhupāda and the teachings of the Bhagavad–Gīta, going back to the 1970’s? In the interim this is more than 40 years of welfare work. What do you think the biggest change has been..?
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Well! When we were young [Laughter] the world was very different [Laughter] and especially America was going through a very, very unique phase. I mean the way I actually perceive it. You see, after the Second World War, America actually rose to its height of material prosperity but the youth of America became disillusioned. They saw that money cannot buy everything. And they were the product of that generation. They felt that money cannot buy love and that’s why they kind of rejected that culture and they started to look for something, something that is meaningful to them and that’s how it started, the counterculture. And well they were searching and although their search was not really proper at that time. But they were searching and it’s during that time that Śrīla Prabhupāda came to America and a group of young boys and girls actually responded to Śrīla Prabhupāda’s call. And a new era started and we got caught up. Well I mean, like this is my observation of the American situation. But one thing I can say that even then India was affected by that. Like I read books like “on the road”
Interviewer: Jack Kerouac’s book?
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: yes Kerouac. Dharma Lounge [Laughter] and anyway and of course the music, the Beatles, Bob Dylan,.. Woodstock festival and that was, I mean I would say that is the way we were feeling at that time. But then the change came. Mid sixties it went up to say up to I think the eighties but then another culture started. Then that generation, I mean after that, they started to aspire for material prosperity, that rejection of the materialistic culture turned into or rather appreciation for material prosperity. And that’s the trend that came in and it prevailed for sometime may be for… I think generally this kind of a thing lasted for 25 to 30 years.
Interviewer: That’s the cycle.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: And now I think the world is changing again. I mean now they are again searching for spiritual counterpart or the spiritual goal of… Like, you see two things are existing side by side: material and spiritual, matter and spirit, body and soul. So, sometimes the tendency is towards the matter and sometimes the tendency goes towards the spirit. But in a way I feel that the tendency now is more tending towards spiritual aspiration and development.
Interviewer: Yes, I think that sets a very vivid description of I think of what we witnessed you know in the lives and cycles of dissatisfaction over the warriors and the consumer culture of those days moving into that searching period of the sixties.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Right
Interviewer: and then growing up
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: [Laughter]
Interviewer: Moving back into the world. Perhaps do you think that it was because people got tired of the spiritual search or was it they that they never found what they were looking for. So they went back because or by default
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: You get frustrated with material and then aspire for spiritual and… but now like a group of individuals get carried away and continue in that direction
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: But some may not and like I think if it is, if I am not wrong, I mean I hope alright that from hippy culture it came to Yeppy culture. Right?
Interviewer: to which culture?
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yeppy culture. Y E P P Y, Yeppy culture
Interviewer: Yeppy culture that came in a pretty quick
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yes. Anyway I mean what I was actually pointing out was, you know, I feel very impressed the way the western world is taking to yoga, vegetarianism which is actually leading to that spiritual realm.
Interviewer: We are finding that… We are finding that the level of questions and discussion dialogue is taking place these days in yoga studio is so much deeper than it used to be. Something happens, you start that practice and then it stimulates a desire to go deeper into the philosophy and so… the spiritual knowledge. So I am curious about something else also. You do a lot of travel. You always have, started as a student going to Germany. Do you find that the devotional culture, the philosophy side of yoga practice is the same from country to country, from culture to culture or are there cultural differences when you travel?
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Well! I will say that there are two sides: one is eastern and the other is western. The eastern side is dominated by the Indian, you know, Indian approach to it, or Indian understanding of it. And the western world at least today or nowadays is being dominated by America. So these are the two predominating dominating factors. The yoga’s are coming from India but the world is accepting it today because America has accepted it.
Everybody including interviewer: [Laughter]
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: [Laughter]. America is promoting it. And the thing is: the goal is I think the same in the sense, you know, I am saying the America side of it. The American side of the acceptance of the yoga and the American purpose of accepting the yoga is rather material, you know, physical well being, mental peace and tranquility. But you know, as you know that the goal of yoga is not just that, it’s much higher than that. The purpose of yoga is to bring you from material to the spiritual plane. Like the body and the soul. Everyone is concerned with his body or physical existence but this body is alive. The body is conscious because of the presence of the soul. So, the spiritual objective is to understand the soul and become situated on the spiritual identity and pursue that goal. So, the general tendency of yoga today, I may be wrong, I mean the way it seems to me, mainly; basically it’s not really absolutely spiritual. Therefore, there is a need to remind the practitioners that, you know the actual goal is not physical well being and the mental tranquility but to, you know, transcend. I mean not just physically feel good but transcend the physical platform and become situated in the platform where you are not only feeling good but you are feeling blissful.
Interviewer: I think it’s funny. About feeling good, people don’t generally talk how little satisfaction there is in it and that we were discussing earlier the way you enter into Bhakti life, you go deep into the philosophy, you find is, that the whole notion of tranquility kind of just disappears because you trust into a mood of action, of moving into the world deeper than before. I remember when our dear God brother Kurandar, many years ago was walking with Prabhupāda and said why is it that my life before I became a devotee was so peaceful, everything together, everything was organized. I have my tact together and ever since becoming a devotee, my life is so chaotic and nothing works properly. And Prabhupāda’s answer was it’s like cleaning your room. When you first start to clean your room, your furniture is out of place and the dust is flying everywhere. Like, you know, by this cleansing, when it’s done it will be cleaner than it’s ever been.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Very good.
Interviewer: So, it seems that though things are more disturbing [Laughter] and there is something about becoming comfortable with that discomfort that seems to come with serious yoga practice and the understanding about… Would you?
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Sure.
Interviewer: You put yourself to quite a bitter discomfort in your career as a bhakti teacher. Haven’t you? You have never taken the easy path?
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yes, well it’s because…
Public : [Laughter]
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: it’s something like. I would, you just know what actually immediately came at the back of my mind, the occupation of a doctor. Right? The doctor’s business is to cure the patients. Make the patients feel good in spite of him taking up of all kinds of difficulties to cure him. Like that is the business of a preacher. His business is to remind the… Like generally the doctors take care of the body but the religious leaders or spiritual teachers, they take care of the soul. The doctors cured the body but the preacher cures the disease of the soul. Just as a doctor is undergoing so much difficulties but his business is to make everybody feel healthy.
Interviewer: So there is some inconvenience
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: some inconvenience but you know there is some joy when you see that the patient is getting cured, there is a delight.
Interviewer: You bring to mind a fascinating point whether we talk about someone who is inspired in the medical field or as a teacher. Here in New York we recently lost a very beloved actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. The indications are that it was drug or over drug or suicide and I wonder, you know, you are revered and loved not just as a profound scholar, and teacher and practitioner but also as a creative individual. Yourself, you are a producer of 65 part television series, that’s no small feat. You just helped to design and oversee the construction of a beautiful temple in Ujjain. So, you have that artistic side to you as well. And I wonder why this that so often they, those people who have instincts, those artistic intuitions or insights, their life seems to be so tragic, not everyone but people so often who go deeper inside of vision of the world whether it be through research, medicine, science; whether it be through theatre, acting, performing, music. Something happens and there is a tragedy that, that is so often the companion to that. Why? Why is that?
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Well! Just as you said, like, these are the individuals who go very deep within themselves. Right? And they are profound in their thinking. They are elevated intellectually which is actually a sign of spiritual advancement. Unconsciously they are spiritually advanced. Therefore, material achievements do not satisfy them, just pure material achievements, just name, fame, money, you know does not really make them content or satisfied. They aspire for something higher and when they don’t get that because they are not aware of that side, that side of achievement, they became more and more frustrated and as a result of that at some point, some of them just want to get rid of themselves.
Interviewer: And that’s a fascinating insight. There is a…. It suggests that if we are to embark on the path of devotion or yoga, we better take it seriously because a little knowledge can be a dangerous.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yes. Yes, the main thing is that we have to know what is the goal of our existence. You see, like here is the difference between a sub human species and a human being. Sub human species like animals, reptiles, birds, they never question about, you know, who they are and what is the goal of their life, but a man does and more awake he is, the more conscious he is, the deeper is that search. And that is why, unless and until that direction is given to them, you know, they remain, you know, they are searching for something. Like, you want something and you don’t get it, you naturally feel disappointed, you feel frustrated and in most cases that’s what happens to them, whereas you will not find a spiritually enlightened person or a spiritually advanced person committing suicide. Rather he is, you know, he is extremely tranquil within himself. Like as we were talking about quoting Karandar prabhu, like you know, he is thinking about, you know, like so much hassles, so much you know troubles and you know so much botheration in managing the temple, pushing the movement forward, taking care of the devotees, but in spite of all this he was going through, there was an inner contentment because he knew that what he was doing is really what he wanted to do. Whereas just consider him, you know he may have got his scene organized perfectly, but for how long?
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: At some point he would have wondered is…
Interviewer: [Laughter] [Unclear]
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Is that really what I wanted? Is the goal of life just to earn money, have some position and have got some recognition and fame. You know, you get tired of it. Like, you know how much money you have, at some point you feel that well this is not what I wanted and materially that’s always the case. We want something but when we get it we realize, no this is not what I wanted and you feel that whatever I wanted, I wanted it by mistake and when I got it I realize that I didn’t want it.
Interviewer: There is some kind of a let-down as you know the shoppers lament
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: [Laughter], right yes.
Interviewer: I want to ask one other question then on just can …open the… to you as well. are the questions just kind of? You are an initiating teacher, you are not just a teacher you are an initiating guru, a dīkṣā guru. You award dīkṣā or formal initiation to students. Those who are qualified and that’s been a hot topic around you. The part of the yoga culture that has emerged in America, is that people take on a Sanskrit name. It’s not the same thing. The awarding of a spiritual name is a very serious taking of responsibilities on both sides and so on. I wonder whether there is something that you might share with us about your experience as an initiating teacher in terms of, how to say this, I want to say this as discretely and respectfully as I possibly can. Out of compassion, has it occurred that, that perhaps you awarded initiation and decided that this person was not ready. Has there ever been an incident when one should not have received initiation? What are the criteria which need to be respected and what happens if the criteria are later not?
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Okay, you see initiation is the process through which we pass the informations, the spiritual knowledge to the candidate or to the disciple. It’s a process of, you know, teaching, education. Like, one who is a student today becomes the teacher tomorrow and he instructs his students. Then in course of time his students become teachers and they give, they pass the knowledge onto the next generation. So this is a kind of a line called disciplic succession. The spiritual knowledge that is coming down from the spiritual sky, spiritual world is transmitted through this, through this chain of teacher and students. So that is the basic of initiation.
Now in this regard we can say that, say when you want to learn something, what’s the first consideration? Enrolment in the institution. So the formal initiation, the process of initiation is kind of the admission to the university. Right? But just the admission to the university is not good enough. One has to study, then only he will be able to master the subject. Now as you are saying, if the student is not qualified then what happens? If something like, getting admitted to Oxford or Harvard and not attending classes, what’s the use of it? So, the purpose of the initiation is to become eligible and willing to receive the spiritual wisdom, spiritual awareness. Therefore, yes this initiation is not just matter not just a matter of getting a Sanskrit name. It’s a matter of committing yourself to a process to achieve something. And that achievement is the spiritual perfection.
Interviewer: if the knowledge is available through books, through recordings, through teachings, courses. I mean we are in the digital age, you can online into Bhaktivedanta college …and sign out Bhagavad-Gītā and Īśopaniṣad course. What does that initiation do that simply learning the knowledge would not do on its own?
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Well! as I said initiation is the prerequisite, the primary consideration for getting admission into the institution. Like, as you are saying like knowledge is available, so why can’ we get it from the books, or from the internet and so forth? The thing is just like, you know, we can consider, is that, say the books of medicines are available in the shop, if I buy the books, study the books can I be identified or recognized as a qualified doctor? No, the books are not enough. To reveal the books, we need the teachers. So these are the two things, you know, must go hand in hand. Like the books must be there and the teachers must be there to reveal the books. Just the teacher without the books is bogus and the books without teacher are useless.
Interviewer: So is it that they are complement?
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yes, I mean did we learn even the alphabets ourselves from the books?
Interviewer: Ha, you are right. We need somebody.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: or do we need somebody [Laughter] to teach it to us?
Interviewer: Her name was Mrs. Clive. Well I hate her.
Interviewer: Let’s open. Let’s open the room off to some questions here. I will come to you Michael, in a minute. Someone who doesn’t really have a tricky question.
Participant: [Unclear] … make it short. He is speaking that it is often said about us as human beings and our desire to learn came from origins. So I thought about this, the discovery that came out just yesterday of the observation of these primordial microwaves that existed ….
Interviewer: front page of the
Participant: Yes, yes. I can barely understand this. Science but what I have understood from, you know, my very introductory look into Gītā and Vedic texts is that, there are signals in these ancient texts that we do come from multiple universes and things like that. You know I just wanted to if you can comment on some of these ancient texts that might confirm what quantum physics is teaching us now.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yes. Well you see, you may have various observations of certain phenomena, but the bottom line of that is: that somebody must have done it; somebody must have designed it; somebody must have organized it, right? Like you see for example I may go to a motor car manufacturing factory and see certain machines are making gears. Now just by seeing the machine cutting the gears is not the whole concept. Right? The entire concept will come when we recognize that behind this factory, there is a personality called Mr. Ford who set the whole factory in motion or in design and as a result of that, not only the gears, you know, motors are coming out, but the entire car is coming out because of his arrangement. So the point is, you know, I mean, behind everything we must see that there is a creator. Like for example, if I ask did somebody make it? What will be the natural answer? Yes. I can’t say, I mean it just dropped from nowhere and there was some primordial soup or there were some waves and that created that, you know. The wave may have been there, the primordial soup may have been there, but who is the person who took the soup [Laughter] and made this? Right? So when we go like that, I mean, can we say, I mean look around us, everything has, we must accept that there must have been a maker behind that. Now when we see the entire creation then don’t we also have to consider that behind that there is a personality who created that? And when we accept that point, then everything becomes perfectly alright, perfectly intellectually acceptable. Right? So that, that is the Vedic answer. The Vedic answer is that there is a creator who created everything and is creation has been perfectly described through certain literatures and those literatures are called the Vedas. Like for example when a machine is designed or manufactured, along with that you get the operation manual. And when you go deeper, then you get the, you know, the entire concept how it came out from certain designs. The drawings are there, everything is there. So the Vedas are presenting all those information in a perfect way. And it is up to an intelligent person to just accept that and get the perfect answers to all the questions and riddles that are troubling human mind today. Like, they may come up with many, so many concepts but the question is who was there during the trillions of years to witness that? I mean they are depending upon speculations. You know, the problem with speculation, it tends to lead you to a wrong conception.
Like I mean, again there is a, there is an example of that, you know. Like, as you know, India was under the British rule. So, many Britishers were actually staying there and so one English man came across a washer man who was washing the clothes. You see in India what they do, they take the cloth and mix it with soap and then they hit it on a stone slab and that’s how generally the washer man clean the thing, clean the clothes. So he wrote back to England saying this that these people are so stupid that one day I saw a person who is trying to break a stone with a piece of cloth [Laughter].
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: So he saw that he is hitting the stone with a cloth. You see, his perception is that, he thought just by seeing, the immediate perception that you know, he is hitting the stone with the cloth and he thought that actually this person is so stupid that he is trying to break the stone by a cloth, by a piece of cloth. So, the thing is, you see, there is a difference between the immediate perception and the actual reason. So, anyway, that would be my, you know, general consideration. See the intelligent conclusion that yes creation; this world has been created and the creation came about by the divine arrangement of a personality who is endowed with an inconceivable ability and intelligence. You know so simply, the problem, I mean, this quest can be answered.
Interviewer: This is of course another theme is getting into discussions. Everything seems fine, you know the philosophy, karma, … whatever until you get to that one point, you start imposing a personal divinity behind creation and that’s when the room starts to have polarized, to the left, to the right and at that point you are tapping into all kinds of subconscious and unconscious negative…
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: speculations
Interviewer: speculations and emotional reactions, negative emotional reactions. I thought it was fascinating when that article, last line of the article, go to the page, it says quoting MIT physicists, I forgot his name, says that when you trace the cosmos to its very earliest point, what you find is, expansion. And saying there is somewhat circular logic there, you know, you are examining the expansion; we find this expansion which is, I think, word play. If you beneath the word between the line he is saying is, we are not talked about what happened before that moment of zero, you know, zero minus one. We are not going to talk about that because there we don’t want to go. That’s beyond our realm of responsibility or certainly beyond our comfort zone. So …
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yes, since you are probing into that, maybe I can add a little bit into that also. Since you asked what’s the Vedic concept. I mean I just gave you the ultimate Vedic concept. But the Vedas are not just, you know, are not just allowing us, not forcing us to accept everything that they are presenting. Vedas are actually probing us, like, provoking us to probe into things. Find out for yourself, right? And that is you know that gives rise to various branches of philosophy. And one such branch of philosophy is called sāṅkhya. Literally the word means ‘analytical study’. The analytical study, right, analyze the material nature and the way the Vedas are doing that is: the first thing they are considering is there are five elements. Five elements are earth, which means solid substance. Water means liquid. Fire, air, and ether. And then they considered that we have five senses and the interaction between the elements and the senses, give rise to five objects of the senses. Like for example, the eye interacts with fire, the form is produced. Skin interacts with air, touch is produced. Ears interact with ether, sound is produced. Tongue interacts with water, taste is produced. Nose interacts with earth, smell is produced. So this is how five elements, five senses giving rise to five objects of the senses. Then they considered that there are five working senses in our body with which we get involved in this world. They are hands, legs, anus, belly and genitals. They are called the five working senses. Five fours are twenty. Then they considered there are three subtle elements. Those three subtle elements are mind, intelligence and false ego. In Sanskrit they are called mana, buddhi and ahankaar. Then they considered, then, they come to the sum total of the elements with which everything has evolved. That is called mahat–tattva from which everything evolved. The mind evolved, the intelligence evolved; everything actually evolved through this, from this mahā–tattva. Now see the entire creation has now been analyzed to these twenty four considerations. They didn’t stop there. Then they considered that this is objective in nature. All these twenty four considerations are objective. But the object cannot exist without the subject. Right? So, who is the subject? I. I am therefore it is. I am, therefore they are. Now see this is how they are transcending the material and coming to this spiritual. Like the entire material creation has been analyzed through these twenty four considerations but ‘I’ couldn’t be found there. Therefore ‘I’ is non material. Therefore they are transcending matter and coming into the platform of spirit or spiritual or non material in whichever way you want to describe it. Something that is non material, that is different from matter, beyond matter. So twenty fifth consideration is I and I am spiritual. I am not a product of this matter. And then they considered, they didn’t stop at that also. Then they considered that ‘I’s are minute and many. You have your “I”, she has her ‘I’s, he has his I and so forth. All of us have our “I’s” but those “I’s” are minute and many. So anything which are minute and many, must have a source, an origin. So that, that origin is the Supreme Soul, we are spirit souls and he is the Supreme Soul. So that Supreme Soul is God. So, see they are establishing the existence of God but they are not saying that well because we are saying it, you have to accept. No. just find out, use your intelligence. Probe into it. But this is how you come to the conclusion. So this is the Vedas. And one thing we can very proudly say. That is how our spiritual master taught us. Prabhupāda did not want us, didn’t want us to accept anything because he is saying. He said, “Use your intelligence and if you have any question ask questions. If you have any doubts, clarify the doubts.” Okay, I just wanted to…
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Thank you.
Interviewer: We have time for a couple of questions.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Michael is
Interviewer: Michael is waiting
Michael: Haribol. It comes from my class that we need to elaborate on. Could you elaborate a little more on yoga ladder from… karma kāṇḍa, from karma kāṇḍa to jñāna yoga, jñāna yoga to sakāma yoga, sakāma yoga to niṣkāma karma, and niṣkāma karma to bhakti. [Unclear] more understanding of the subject
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Very good. Very good point. Yes, again you see this is another way of gradually, you know coming from, transcending from one level to another. So now I will go into another branch of philosophy. You see Vedas are dealing with six branches of philosophy. They are known as purva-mimamsa or karma-mimamsa, which means the preliminary conclusion or the concept of karmic action and reaction. Then it goes to the nyāya or logic. Then it goes to vaiśeṣika or the structure of the universe or atomic theory. And vaiśeṣika leads to sāṅkhya which I just discussed. Sāṅkhya leads to yoga. And yoga leads to uttar-mimamsa or ultimate conclusion. So these are the six branches of philosophy. Now I will just try to, as you briefly said, try to explain, these different, you know grades of elevation.
See, initially everybody wants to enjoy. Now the Vedas are giving you the directions. Okay, fine you want to enjoy. Now, this is the way to enjoy. And the simple consideration is, your good actions will lead to enjoyment and wrong actions will lead to sufferings. So that is the simple karmic principle. Good actions lead to enjoyment; Bad actions lead to sufferings. So, then the consideration is like in spite of enjoying, the Vedas are giving you the direction, anything you desire you can fulfill that desire. You want to become a rich man. Yes, do this act, perform these activities, you will become rich. You want to become a king. You can become a king by performing these activities. You want to become the king of the entire earth planet. Fine, perform these activities or yajñas you can and it goes on. But the point is, ultimately one realizes that no matter how much I am trying to enjoy, no matter how much I am achieving I am still not satisfied. Right? So, then that actually leads to the next branch. Why I am suffering and the ultimate conclusion of that quest is: this world is meant for suffering. This world is full of misery and this body is a wonderful instrument for receiving pain [Laughter].
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Just consider. Take any part of your body. Take any part of your body. Say your little finger. Consider in how many different ways you can inflict pain on this little finger? Millions of ways. Now you consider [Laughter] how many ways you can give pleasure to this little finger? Even if there is some proposal that there is some way you can enjoy or give pleasure to this little finger, now you just compare it. Okay, fine you will give this pleasure. But say somebody says well when I tickle my finger I get pleasure. Okay, tickle your fingers and at the same time I will cut the finger with knife. Will anybody accept that proposal? So, now mind you [Laughter] this principle applies to every single part of your body. Take your ear lobes, take your hands, take your legs, and take your foot. So, the conclusion is you will always find that there are hundreds of ways, thousands of ways that you can inflict pain on that part but hardly can you give pleasure. So what it concludes then? That’s why I said this body is a wonderful instrument to receive pain. Then the question comes why I am receiving pain. What is this world actually where I am in? And ultimately it leads to the atomic theory and what we perceiving is whether solid, liquid or whatever is nothing but combination of atoms and molecules. Isn’t it? Like look at this wall. What is this wall? To us, to our senses it’s appearing to be solid, but you will, you know, find huge intermolecular space, you know, between this, between the molecules, this is giving rise to that concept that is solid and so forth. So, ultimately this world is made of atoms, but it is giving rise in different frequency, and different wavelengths, you know, to different senses it’s appearing to be in different ways. And then that leads to analytical. Let’s find out what this world is and that leads to the analytical study or sāṅkhya which I just mentioned. Now through sāṅkhya they are coming into two consideration: jīvātmā and paramātma, right? Minute soul and the Supreme Soul. Supreme Soul is the source of all the minute souls. All the minute souls are the part and parcels of the Supreme Soul. Now, the part’s existence, the utility of the parts existence, the meaning of the parts existence lies in it connection with the whole. This little finger is a part of my body. As a part of my body this little finger is very, very valuable, very precious. But when the finger is cut off, separated from my body, it doesn’t have any value, immediately throw it away. So, the utility or the purpose of our existence actually lies in our connection with the supreme soul or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Now then the question arises, now that I have become separated from Him, how can I become connected to Him and that is giving rise to the next branch of philosophy called Yoga. The yoga is actually, literally it means to become united to become connected to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And there are eight different processes, eight different steps, aṣṭāṅga-yoga and the final point of that aṣṭāṅga-yoga is samādhi. Samādhi is the link, with the yoga when the link has been established with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and then the jīva’s existence becomes meaningful. That he is sac-cid-ānanda, spiritually that the jīva, spirit soul is sac-cid-ānanda he goes back into that state and that is state of bliss. Now the consideration is, after seeing the supreme soul in Samādhi, what is the natural feeling of that spirit soul? When a small person comes across a very great personality, what is his natural feeling? What becomes his natural attitude? He automatically… his head bends down in awe and reverence and he surrenders himself to the…
So, now yoga leads to that process or to the point of surrender and that surrender is the beginning of devotion. Sarangati or surrender leads to the ultimate conclusion of the Vedas which is called uttarā–mimasa or final conclusion. The final conclusion is presented in Vedānta which is elaborated in Śrīmad–Bhāgavatam. Where the Lord’s identity has been most profoundly established and the jīvas link with Him through the process of surrender is established. So, this is how, as you said different branches of yoga is ultimately leading to bhakti. So this is how it is leading to that point of bhakti which is the ultimate conclusion.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Thank you.
Interviewer: Beautiful explanation. Thank you for that. Thank you so much. We have time for may be just one or two more question. show your hand first. No! No! No!
Somebody: If we want to be Hare Kṛṣṇa and when you have a goal in your life after twenty, thirty years and like something isn’t there, it’s like something is missing, you are happy, you don’t feel anything, suffering in the world you are talking about, would you.. out of the yoga and chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa with that deal, with your intention of conquering through the…
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yes. Yes if the process is properly applied, the result will be there. Like chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra, what it does actually? The first thing that the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra does is… It cleanses our hearts. You see, all our, see our involvement or our entanglement in the material nature is due to the contamination in our hearts. Right? So those contaminations are defined in the form of lust, greed, anger, illusion envy and pride. So these are the impurities of the heart which is actually stemming from our misidentification, wrong identification, which is called false ego. Now, the chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra is, first thing it will do is purify or cleanse our hearts. Right? And then from that point you know gradually different stages of development will take place. Like for example, when the heart is cleansed, then we will become free from suffering condition. Our life will naturally become blissful. Our life will naturally become joyful and so that is what the, you see, it is, say for example, Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra is actually the medicine for the soul. Just as by taking proper medicine the physical disease is cured, the soul’s disease is cured by chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra and when it is applied properly. Now there are impurities in chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra. There are ten different types of offenses. So when one chants the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra he should be careful not to commit those offenses. Now when this mantra is chanted offenselessly then the result will automatically be there which will begin from the point of cleansing of the mind.
Interviewer: What would be the example that improperly applying, improperly chanting the mahāmantra.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yeah. So, one of the biggest problem is chanting the mahāmantra but not accepting the Supreme Personality of Godhead as Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Interviewer: So, chanting the mantra but rejecting Kṛṣṇa.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yes rejecting Kṛṣṇa. That is the primary impurities. Then the other types of impurities are like, those who are distributing this mahāmantra, finding faults in their activities, is another very gross. Like say for example, the doctor is giving medicine but you don’t have enough faith on the doctor and then the second consideration is you know like not recognizing the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the Supreme Personality of Godhead which of course I mentioned as the first point. And this is how there are different types of offenses to the Holy Name and one should guard himself against those offenses. Then the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra will produce the result.
Interviewer: We have had this discussion also here often that there seems to be a kīrtana culture that bears over entertainment and I am wondering whether that would be an example of what you are talking about is the chanting becomes not an act of surrender of the self, prayer but of a, you know, substitute for a dance tune or something else. Is that an improper application?
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: We can look at it in both ways because by chanting the mahāmantra it will have its benefit. But at the same time to develop, to derive the desired benefit, one should have the proper understanding.
Interviewer: To derive the full benefit.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: To derive the full benefit. Yes. That’s why I said, desired benefit, is to recognize that this Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra is a prayer to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is a prayer, appeal to Him, my Lord You are all attractive. So, please allow me to become engaged in Your service, allow me to become attracted to You and express that attraction through my love for You and let me express for You through some service for You. So, please allow me to. In this way become free from our material bondage and go back to spiritual sky,
Interviewer: We have time for actually one more question and then will start the..
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Sudhakar, you have a question.
Sudhakar: I will ask you later.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Okay, okay. If anybody has any question? Yes.
One person: In practice of devotion when is it that you see that devotee is ready to be initiated? What do you see in a devotee when he comes for initiation?
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: You see the Vedic scriptures give a very clear direction to that. It says that the teacher or guru should see the student or disciple for one year, test him for one year. Similarly the student should also check out the teacher for one year. And then when both are convinced, right, and both are actually sort of eager, then that initiation can take place. Okay, you see now Iskcon, in Iskcon, you know our movement has grown has so vast, all over the world
Interviewer: Iskcon rather for those of you who may not be familiar with that acronym is the International Society for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness which is the formal institution that our teacher Prabhupāda founded back in 1966. And one little storefront in 26 2nd avenue and since then it has become a worldwide…
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yes. Okay. So, here the consideration is that one should practice the process sincerely. To show his earnestness, to prove his intention and first consideration is to chant the mantra, Hare Kṛṣṇa mahāmantra, certain number of rounds on beads which takes about two hours time that one must daily dedicate him to. And then, one must abstain from wrong actions that are detrimental to spiritual progress. One is eating meat. The other is taking intoxicants. The other one is indulging in inappropriate activities like illicit sex. Sex for procreation between a husband and wife is the actual purpose of sex, but sexual relationship outside of marriage is forbidden. And gambling or involving in activities that are based on falsity or cheating, lying. So, these are the four principles that one has to follow according to the Vedic understanding and there are, you know profound reasons behind that also. I am not taking, you know, like I am just giving a brief answer to that. Like why should one do that? There are scientific reasons behind that. So these are the two basic prerequisites for getting initiated in our institution. And a serious, sincere soul is expected to come onto that standard. Thank you.
Interviewer: If someone wanted to receive more of your teachings do you have any books or website that people can contact you.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yes sure. Sure. My email address and there is a website also.
Interviewer: What is that website?
Interviewer: Now you have his private email
Interviewer: and do not abuse that. I beg you please don’t send…
Participant: What about the [Unclear]
Interviewer: Yes of course we are going to be making our discussion here today… [Unclear]
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Okay [Laughter].
Interviewer: We end our, we began sometime our Tuesday gathering with ārati ceremony. Are you going to do the ārati ceremony? You are up here? Terrific, wonderful and you welcome to stand and join us closer to the altar. I see Michal is ready with the basket to receive your donation and after the ārati which is just a few minutes long, there is… we have some prasādam to share with people Michal.
Michael: I… bring in prasādam
Interviewer: Oh! Thank you very much. O that’s like a fruit salad. I hope you all will stay for a few minutes and have a handful or two of our fruit salad prasādam and meet some of these people here this evening who have come to greet Bhakti Charu Swami. So, thank you again. Would you join me in thanking Bhakti Charu Mahārāja.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: And I must thank you all also for giving this opportunity especially Yogesvara prabhu, who is my very dear god brother and friend, for giving me this opportunity.
Interviewer: I hope you will come back again very soon.
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Sure, sure.
Interviewer: Thank you.
Public: [hand clapping]
His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Hare Kṛṣṇa.
Transcription : Anonymous Helper
Editing: Rāmānanda Rāya Dāsa