Great Devotees Cannot Be Recognized By Their External Appearance

Great Devotees Cannot Be Recognized By Their External Appearance


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

The Following Lecture On Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 4, Chapter 6, Brahmā Satisfies Lord Śiva, Text 28, Was Given By His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami In Iskcon Ujjain, India.

Oṁ namo bhagavate Vāsudevāya
Oṁ namo bhagavate Vāsudevāya
Oṁ namo bhagavate Vāsudevāya

Fourth Canto Chapter 6: Brahmā Satisfies Lord Śiva, Text 28

hitvā yakṣeśvara-purīṁ
vanam saugandhikam ca tat
drumaiḥ kāma-dughair hṛdyaṁ


 hitvā–passing over; yakṣa-īśvara–the lord of the Yakṣas (Kuvera); purīm–the abode; vanam–the forest; saugandhikam–named Saugandhika; ca– -and; tat–that; drumaiḥ–with trees; kāmadughaiḥ–yielding desires; hṛdyaṁ–attractive; citra–variegated; mālya–flowers; phala–fruits; chadaiḥ–leaves.


While traveling, the demigods passed over the forest known as Saugandhika, which is full of varieties of flowers, fruits and desire trees. While passing over the forest, they also saw the regions of Yakṣeśvara.


Yakṣeśvara is also known as Kuvera, and he is the treasurer of the demigods. In the descriptions of him in Vedic literature, it is stated that he is fabulously rich. It appears from these verses that Kailāsa is situated near the residential quarters of Kuvera. It is also stated here that the forest was full of desire trees. In Brahma-saṁhitā we learn about the desire tree which is found in the spiritual world, especially in Kṛṣṇaloka, the abode of Lord Kṛṣṇa. We learn here that such desire trees are also found in Kailāsa, the residence of Lord Śiva, by the grace of Kṛṣṇa. It thus appears that Kailāsa has a special significance; it is almost like the residence of Lord Kṛṣṇa.

 While traveling, the demigods passed over the forest known as Saugandhika, which is full of varieties of flowers, fruits and desire trees. While passing over the forest, they also saw the regions of Yakṣeśvara.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: So Brahmā is taking the demigods to meet Lord Śiva and beg for his forgiveness because they have committed a great offense to Lord Śiva. As we see that materialistic people since they judge everything from materialistic point of view, like money, fame, opulence, physical beauty, birth, education, these are the factors with which the materialistic people judge. They – because their mentality is completely absorbed in material nature, it’s natural to judge things from materialistic perspective, but a devotee is not interested in…. A devotee is simply concerned about Kṛṣṇa and his devotion and his service. That is the consideration of a devotee.

Therefore materialistic people often fail to recognize the position of a devotee. Just as we see here Dakṣa did. Dakṣa judged Lord Śiva from material point of view, materialistic point of view, like here is a person who doesn’t have a place to stay, he stays in a crematorium; he doesn’t have any – what to speak of fancy dress, he doesn’t have any clothes to wear. So he was then already… We can see why Dakṣa behaved like that because he already had a very strong aversion, disrespect and disregard for Lord Śiva. Therefore when Lord Śiva didn’t stand up, it just came up as the expression goes “The last straw that broke the camel’s back” you know the expression. The camel was already loaded with so much load and then somebody put a straw and the camel’s back broke [laughter]. So it seems that it is the straw that broke the camel’s back [laughter] but actually it was the load that was already there, it was quite unbearable for the camel, although a camel is able to carry a lot of weight.

So here Dakṣa flared up, he didn’t stand up to show his... And so he started to insult Lord Śiva. And those hard feelings became so intense that he practically severed all relationships with Lord Śiva, so much so that when he was performing the sacrifice and when he practically invited all the demigods but he did not invite Lord Śiva his own son in law and his own daughter, the youngest daughter. Generally the parents, it is said the parents are more attached to the youngest daughter but here although she was very dear to him, Satī, but he did not… But Satī, when she found out that her father is performing such a sacrifice, that all the demigods are invited …she also wanted to go. Actually sacrifice is the way the demigods celebrate, that is the celebration. The big festivals are the sacrifice that is the way the demigods celebrate. Human beings go to a party, go to night club, that’s the modern way of celebrating, but civilized way of celebrating is by performing sacrifice. Like I remember when I was young, the big celebration was the pūjās: Durgā puga, Sarasvatī pūjā, Kali pūjā, Lakṣmī pūjā. So now people are not interested in those festivals. They want to have a cricket match.

Devotees: [laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: A cricket match is a big celebration. Now just consider the father has organized a big match [laughter] against India and Pakistan

Devotees: [laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: And he didn’t invite his own daughter. How does the daughter feel? But she feels that my father is the organizer, so I can just go and I can get a VIP seat in the front. So she goes there but then the father says, “You are not invited. You are not expected to be here. Get out.” How will the daughter feel? And not only that, on top of that he did not say, “Get out of here” but he started to insult Lord Śiva. And a chaste woman – for a chaste woman the insult of her husband is absolutely unbearable. It is natural because she loves him so much so that actually he is more dear to her than her family. So Satī could not tolerate that and she decided to… So this is how this whole episode started. She left the court. Then Lord Śiva’s associates, those who were accompanying Satī they tried to attack but at that time Bṛghu, from the sacrificial fire created some demigods known as.. and Bṛghu’s associates of Lord Śiva and they went and reported to Lord Śiva and Lord Śiva got to know that his wife …was insulted and his associates have been defeated and then Lord Śiva with the tuft of his hair… This is the power of Lord Śiva, he took the tuft of hair and he smashed it…  And as a result of that a terrible personality appeared and he was instructed to go and take care of the situation in Dakṣa’s arena. And this person went and Lord Śiva’s associates also went. They created a havoc, plundered the whole sacrifice…. they broke the teeth of Bṛghu, no I am sorry, Kusha, they took away the beard, uprooted the beard of Bṛghu and finally they took Dakṣa in the slaughtering yuvakasta and.. and chopped his head and the whole situation became so chaotic. The demigods became afraid; They went to Lord Brahmā and Lord Brahmā then told them: “You have created a terrible scene by insulting Lord Śiva.”

So through Bhāgavatam we learn so many lessons. All the incidents which have been recorded in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam are with a specific purpose, with the purpose of educating us. What do we learn from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam through this incident? Don’t judge a devotee from his external appearance. There are many people, externally they may seem to be very insignificant… Like for example we can see, we can consider, if the Gosvāmīs, one of the Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana, Rūpa Gosvāmī or Sanātana Gosvāmī walked into this room, how will you find him? They are just wearing a torn piece of cloth; their body is very thin. Obviously he won’t look like Amitabh Bacchan.

Devotees: [laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: So if we see from an external perspective then we won’t be able to recognize. Therefore Prabhupāda very emphatically told us don’t try to judge a sādhu; don’t try to see a sādhu with your eyes; see a sādhu with your ears; see a sādhu with your ears. Meaning,  see a sādhu, try to recognize a sādhu from the way he speaks. What does he speak about? How much does he give us Kṛṣṇa. That is the identity of a sādhu. Kṛṣṇa se tomar, Kṛṣṇa dite paro Kṛṣṇa is yours and you can give Kṛṣṇa. That means how does he give Kṛṣṇa? By giving us the understanding of Kṛṣṇa, who is Kṛṣṇa?..Then he shows how to become attached to Kṛṣṇa. And then we see how he is attached to Kṛṣṇa. Whatever he does, he does for Kṛṣṇa. That is the way to recognize. Just as sometimes we fail to recognize a sādhu by his unkempt… just as we fail to recognize a sādhu by his external appearance, his clothes are dirty, he looks very poor and unkempt.

Similarly one may also fail to recognize a sādhu by seeing his opulent situation. A wonderful example of that is Pundarik Vidyānidhi, a great devotee of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. And Gadadhar Pandit went to see him and he saw so opulent, living in such luxury, dressed in furnished clothes and so many servants are attending him, some is fanning him; some is offering some betel-nut and paan and tāmbūla and he is in such an atmosphere, he is half lying on the bed which is white as milk and with the pillows and things that were looking like made of … and Gadadhar Pandit failed to recognize him. But Mukunda who knew Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi, he understood what was happening in Gadadhar Pandit. So he just chanted one verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam describing Kṛṣṇa, His … and as soon as he heard the verse he became ecstatic. He started to behave like a mad man. He fainted. Then Gadadhar Pandit recognized such an exalted devotee, “I failed to recognize him.” Then he became so repentant that he committed a great offense to a great vaiṣṇava. Then to absolve the offense he decided to take initiation from Pundarik Vidyānidhi. So this is how a great devotee cannot be recognized by his external…

But what is the identity of a devotee? His internal mood, his attachment to Kṛṣṇa. Is attachment to Kṛṣṇa is an external thing? No, it is an internal thing. So therefore we have to be very careful when we deal with the devotees; very, very careful that we don’t judge them from mundane point of view, external physical material point of view. And here we are seeing, now when Lord Śiva is thinking, the demigods we are seeing and as Prabhupāda is pointing out that when they were approaching it was not even Kailash as yet, they were flying through the region where Kuvera lives. Kuvera is a great devotee of Lord Śiva. So he resides near Lord Śiva’s place. Actually Kuvera’s original place was Laṅkā. His father Viśravā gave him that place and Laṅkā was a very, very beautiful,very opulent, but Rāvaṇa his step brother, Rāvaṇa occupied Laṅkā… And Kuvera went and made his residence in Kailash according to Brahmā’s instruction. They have the same, Rāvaṇa and Kuvera they are from the same father Visvrava risi. Therefore Kuvera’s, another name of Kuvera, actually the original name of Kuvera is Vaisrava, the son of Viśravā and he is very exalted, like there are four principal demigods. Who are those four principal demigods? Indra, Sūrya, Varuṇa and Kuvera. No I am sorry. Indra Yama Varuṇa and Kuvera. They are known as the dik-pālas, principal demigods. Kuvera is one of the four principal demigods. Kuvera resides in a place, his garden is Saugandhi and here it is described that that region has desire trees, desire fulfilling trees. That means you can ask anything and your desire will be fulfilled; ask anything. But mind you before that you have to become qualified to ask properly because the desire tree will fulfill your desire.

In this respect long time ago I heard one story: one wood cutter was cutting the wood in the forest and it so happened that he was cutting next to a desire tree. So while he was cutting the tree, the handle of his axe broke and so he thought, “Oh! now the handle broke what am I going to do. I wish there was a new axe.” And immediately an axe appeared and he was cutting the tree and then making into pieces, then he thought it is so a hard work, if it could get cut just like that, it would be so nice. And immediately the axe slipped out of his hand and started to chop the tree into pieces. Then he thought that “Oh! Now I have to make a bundle out of it. If they would have been such, if there were bundles together, then it will be so nice to carry, so easy to carry.” And immediately the wood- pieces of log got together and a rope appeared and they got bound into a beautiful bundle. Then he thought that, “Oh! I am so hungry; if there could be some food.” And immediately food appeared. So he ate the food. And naturally after eating after becoming so tired he fell asleep and then when he woke up it was already dark and he felt, “Oh! If a tiger comes.”

Devotees: [laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: and immediately a tiger came and ate him up [laughter]. Therefore in a way it can be very dangerous to be in front of a desire tree because if you ask for a wrong thing, you will be in great trouble. Therefore Kṛṣṇa did not send any desire tree here because we are not qualified to ask from …what we really want. Therefore all our needs, all our desires should be based around Kṛṣṇa then we will be safe. Whatever we want, if it is for Kṛṣṇa, for Kṛṣṇa’s pleasure, for the sake of serving Kṛṣṇa’s then there can’t be any tension. Our service attitude to Kṛṣṇa can never go wrong. The trouble starts when we start to desire with us in the center. Meaning when we become affected with false ego. And so that’s why the way to purify our desire- actually we cannot get rid of desire, the tendency to desire, because that is the natural functioning of the mind. Mind’s business is to desire. Consciousness means desire. Whenever there is consciousness there is desire. So we have to desire but desire for Kṛṣṇa. Don’t desire for just, desire for Kṛṣṇa or Kṛṣṇa’s service. Then everything will be perfectly harmonized.

And so Prabhupāda is pointing out in the purport that Lord Śiva… We can see the opulence of Lord Śiva. If his devotees have such opulence what kind of opulence does he have? But the position of Lord Śiva is that he is not interested in any of those opulences. In a similar note, when Rukmiṇī devī, Mahālakṣmī actually, she went to Vṛndāvana and saw the gopīs, her concern was: why Kṛṣṇa is so attracted to Vṛndāvana? Because Vṛndāvana is just a forest. At the most in the forest there is some village but Dvārakā is so full of opulence. All the buildings there are palaces; they don’t live in ordinary buildings, the residents of Dvārakā. They were all living in palaces and then Kṛṣṇa had sixteen thousand one hundred eight palaces. Kṛṣṇa has sixteen thousand one hundred eight wives and each one has a palace. Can you imagine, I mean, if an ordinary building there is a palace, what a palace is going to be like? That is Kṛṣṇa’s palace is going to be like? So full of opulence. The Bhāgavatam gives the description, the opulence of Dvārakā. She couldn’t understand what is there in Vṛndāvana that is so appealing to Kṛṣṇa. Why Kṛṣṇa is always thinking of Vṛndāvana; even in Dvārakā Kṛṣṇa’s mind is always after Vṛndāvana. What is there in Vṛndāvana? Then she was told that in Vṛndāvana all the trees that you are seeing it’s a forest but it’s a forest of desire trees. Forest has many trees and all these trees are desire trees. The land in Vṛndāvana is made of touch stone and Kṛṣṇa is tending these cows; all these cows are Surabhi cows. So who can ever measure the opulence of Vṛndāvana; just one tree can fulfill all the desire, so what to speak of forest of desire trees. One Surabhi can fulfill any desire, so what to speak of only Kṛṣṇa’s herd of nine million cows. They all are Surabhi cows. So this is how- this is the opulence of Vṛndāvana but the residents of Vṛndāvana only want Kṛṣṇa they don’t want anything else. That is the catch; they can have all the wealth, all the opulence but they aren’t interested in all that; they only want Kṛṣṇa; all they want is Kṛṣṇa. That’s why they don’t have any interest in anything else. They are not thinking, “Oh! Let me have a palace and let me live there comfortably.”No, they don’t even have the mentality to think about it. Like when you are deeply in love with something; like for example, nowadays I note that people are very keen, very interested in Cricket match. So when you are watching a match between India and Pakistan which is either I think very exciting match, then are you interested to eat when the match is going on and Tendulkar is about to make a century?

Devotees: [laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Do you think of eating at that time or doing something else? No. similarly the devotees of Kṛṣṇa, the devotees of Vṛndāvana simply don’t have any interest for anything else besides loving Kṛṣṇa. All they want is Kṛṣṇa. So from this point what we learn which is higher Dvārakā or Vṛndāvana?

Devotees: Vṛndāvana

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Very good. Why?

Devotee: love

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Because of their love, residents of Vṛndāvana’s love for Kṛṣṇa. That is all that matters. Thank you very much. Does anybody have any question? Yes Gaṅgā Nārāyaṇa.

Gaṅgā Nārāyaṇa prabhu: Guru Mahārāja we should see sādhus through our ears but nowadays we are seeing so many sādhus by their word of jugglery… but they are... how is that?

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Are they speaking about Kṛṣṇa?

Gaṅgā Nārāyaṇa prabhu: [indistinct]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: They keep Bhāgavata śaptaḥ or what? Yes, hear and hear about what they talk not only while sitting in front of the audience but at all times and what they are doing. As you can see they are speaking about Kṛṣṇa but is anyone becoming devotee of Kṛṣṇa? Like yesterday Ānanda …, he was telling me that these people they are just showing. like the real sādhus speak like as we can see of course I really never watched any of these kathakars, I don’t know what they speak of but the thing is that their speech is not, their presentation is not arousing the devotion in the hearts or arousing the attraction for Kṛṣṇa. So hearing means how they are arousing your attraction, that is.. On the other hand Prabhupada- what did Prabhupāda do? Prabhupāda didn’t present in a flowery way rather sitting on a Vyāsāsana, Prabhupāda said, “You rascals, idiots.”

Devotees: [laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: And what is the result? They all became devotees.

Devotees: [laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: So that is the sound. You hear from him and you end up in becoming a devotee of Kṛṣṇa. Hare Kṛṣṇa. Yes.

Devotee: [inaudible]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: That is one way of expressing. The question is Gadadhar Pandit- when he committed offense to Pundarik Vidyānidhi, he finally took initiation from him. So the question is: so when one commits offense to a great vaiṣṇava, does one has to take initiation from him [laughter]?

Well it will depend, the thing is, the point here is: that initiation is submission. So initially he thought negatively, “Oh! What kind of a devotee.” Then when he recognized his exalted position, he surrendered unto him. That is the main point is when one commits an offense to a devotee, vaiṣṇava then better to just rectify that, beg forgiveness and showing real repentence. Okay, thank you all very much. Yes, Kṛṣṇa Arcana.

Kṛṣṇa Arcana prabhu: We see that this chapter many verses describe the beauty of Kailas. And also in several other places in the Bhāgavatam beautiful natural surroundings have been described. Although they are not exactly dhāmas of the Lord, so what is the purpose in this dedicating so many verses in actually describing these places?

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: It is showing the opulence of a devotee of the Lord. Dakṣa thought that Śiva is no good person, but here the demigods with their own eyes they are seeing the actual opulence of Lord Śiva but in spite of that he is not interested. And the thing is that you see when you have a rich master, all the servants, especially a very devoted, loyal, dedicated servant, he also has the opulence of the master. Master lives in a big palace servant also lives in the big palace. Like we can see, like big, big multinational companies how do they treat their company executives? The government how do they treat their exalted officers? So the point is the servant also acquires the opulence of the master. That aspect is called ṣaṣṭi having a similar kind of opulence as the master. Okay so although it was a very short visit but it was a very wonderful visit.

Devotees: Haribol.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Although I came only for two days, I was very happy to be with you all. Although now I am not able to spend so much time in Ujjain because of my involvement in Māyāpur but whatever time I am able to spend in Ujjain is very joyful to me. Thank you all very much.

Devotees: Hare Kṛṣṇa.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: So everybody become very serious about your spiritual life. Recognize that this is the only goal of life. There is no other thing, nothing is important. Nothing is as important as your spiritual life. Develop your attachment to Kṛṣṇa and you will get everything. Ultimately what is our desire, what do we want? We want happiness, we want joy now what is the way to experience the joy and acquire the joy? The real way to experience joy, the real way to become happy is by becoming Kṛṣṇa Conscious, by developing your relationships with Kṛṣṇa. A simple example can be given in this respect. You want some light, so you got a big powerful generator, big power supply, bulb and you ….but it is so difficult to run the generator, to make arrangement, but what when the sun comes up then do you have to light any generator? So similarly if light is happiness, in the material nature we are trying to make little light here and there, most of the time the bulbs get fused, the generator doesn’t work, it runs out of oil or diesel or sometimes the operator goes off on a vacation.

Devotees: [laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Sometimes the machine breaks down. So just to make a little light we are making so many endeavors, but what is the intelligent thing to do? Just wait for the sun to come up. To wait for the sun to come up is like waiting to receive Kṛṣṇa’s mercy. Just act in such a way that Kṛṣṇa will become merciful. And when Kṛṣṇa’s mercy becomes manifest, then do you have to worry about any light? It will be abundantly showering, abundantly manifest. There is one question from Suhrid Kṛṣṇa from Australia.

Suhrid Kṛṣṇa prabhu: Is there only one Goloka Vṛndāvana in the spiritual sky where Lord Kṛṣṇa, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī,Nanda Mahārāja, gopīs and gopas live or are there many?

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: In the spiritual sky there is only one Goloka Vṛndāvana but in the material world there are many, many Goloka Vṛndāvanas.

Devotees: [laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Every planet has a Vṛndāvana. I am sorry, every universe has a Vṛndāvana in the material world. So that way material nature is not a bad place to live in [laughter].

Devotees: [laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yes in spiritual sky there is only one Vṛndāvana. There are many Vaikuṇṭhas but just one Vṛndāvana. That is the topmost place. Rochit from Bhopal base.

Rochit prabhu: Guru Mahārāja, since we are neophyte so we always commit offenses so can we get rid of this? We sometime become familiar with seniors and don’t give proper respect. So please give some light on this.

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Yes, so the safest way is to always maintain a respectful attitude towards a vaiṣṇava. See, when we commit offense? When we put ourselves above somebody but if we put ourselves below somebody then there is no offense. Therefore it is safer to be always remain below, below the vaiṣṇava. Therefore Mahāprabhu’s point is tṛṇād api sunīcena, grass. Where does the grass live? On the ground, at the feet of everybody; Everybody is trampling over it and He is saying apiapi means ‘even more’, even more humble than a blade of grass. That means becoming smaller than even a blade of grass. So when you harbor that attitude then you develop that attitude… Therefore in front of vaiṣṇavas, always maintain a very humble attitude. Thank you very much.

Child devotee: Guru Mahārāja even in Dvārakā Kṛṣṇa did not forget Vṛndāvana?

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Haan?

Child devotee: Kṛṣṇa in Dvārakā cannot forget Vṛndāvana and at the time of death if we call the name of Jagannātha then where would we go, in Vṛndāvana or..

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: You leave it up to Jagannātha.

Devotees: [laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: Actually Jagannātha is Kṛṣṇa of Dvārakā wanting to go to Vṛndāvana, so if you remember Lord Jagannātha, Jagannātha will say, “Let’s go to Vṛndāvana!”

Devotees: [laughter]

His Holiness Bhakti Charu Swami: because I want to go to Vṛndāvana.” Thank you. Hare Kṛṣṇa. All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda. Gaur premānande Hari Hari bol.


Audio-link : click here
Transcription: anonymous helper.
Editing; Ramananda Raya Dasa