Festival of Holy Name – Chicago, July 2015
Some of the devotees here have attended this Festival of the Holy Name before, some have not. I would like to provide a brief introduction to the concept of what we are attempting to achieve with this event, the Festival of the Holy Name. Each of us are at different stages of our practice of devotional service, yet we are all engaged in the same wonderful activity of chanting Krishna’s holy name, because scriptures teach us, our Acharyas teach us and our Founder-acharya especially has given this yuga dharma, Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s gift, the primary means to attain spiritual perfection through the medium of chanting the holy name. Caitanya Mahaprabhu has taught us that perfection of life – the highest stage not only of love of God, Krishna Prema, but that kind of love that the residents of Vrindavan experience in relation to Krishna – is available to us by following the residents of Vrindavan through this primary activity of chanting. Primary attention during the Festival of the Holy Name is of course focused upon Sankirtana, congregational chanting, along with the other forms of chanting that we take up daily – namely japa, chanting on our beads some prescribed number of rounds each day – along with various other manifestations or exhibitions of chanting the holy name, glorifying Krishna through His holy name, various ways of doing bhajan and drama and katha, like this.
Some of you may know Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur, Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual master, described that along with chanting of the holy name — because the chanting of the holy name is Krishna, Krishna Himself is the same as His name. “Abhinnatvam nama-naminoh.” Krishna is always with who? Who is Krishna always with? Radharani! The svarup-shakti of Krishna, Bhakti Siddhanta taught, is Krishna Katha, the Bhagavat Katha, the descriptions of the glories of the Personality of Godhead. For this reason, some of that will be presented during this Festival of the Holy Name this weekend will be Bhagavat Katha. The overall objective of this event is to help us to enter into the special dispensation for this age, the chanting of the holy name, more effectively more successfully.
This particular Festival of the Holy Name has a theme: “The role of humility in assisting us to go more deeply into the chanting of the holy name.” To experience the pure Holy Name, humility is not optional; it is essential.
While many of you are more experienced devotees, there are some very new devotees here, as well as some guests. For that reason, giving some background to the theme for this weekend would be appropriate.
In the third verse of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s famous Sikshastakam” prayers, He teaches that in order to get taste for the holy name the first quality required is humility. “durdaivam idrsam ihajani nanuragah”. Anurag means spiritual taste –Anuraga. The exact opposite is nanuragah or no taste, no attraction. Nanuragah. Even fully knowing the glories of the Holy Name, I have no attraction. So the antidote is given in the next line “trinad api sunichena”; one can develop a taste for the Holy Name entering into the mood of humility. A major portion of my participation in this Festival of the Holy Name weekend will be enhancing our appreciation for the humility of Lord Brahma found in his prayers in Chapter 14 of the tenth Canto of the Bhagavatam. The mood of humility expressed in these prayers is very profound.
Here is a picture of Lord Brahma seated on his lotus; you can see in the background an ocean with big waves and much turmoil. That’s the Garbhodaka Ocean in the background. We will understand some of the glories of Lord Brahma as he speaks these prayers. He is the first born living being according to the Vedic literature, born directly from the body of Garbhodakasayi Vishnu, atop the lotus appearing from the Lord’s navel. He is the receiver of transcendental knowledge of all of the Vedas directly from the Supreme Personality of Godhead imparted within his heart “tene brahma hrdaya adikavaye”. In turn he established a disciplic succession which we are part of, the disciplic succession from Lord Brahma. He is the topmost authority, his capacity for intelligence is inconceivable and we are going to hear in these prayers repeatedly how he displays his discerning capacity, revealing to us the correct understand of the Personality of Godhead. Discerning capacity, standing on its own, is quite inadequate to understand Krishna. It will never be adequate, even up to the position of most intelligent being in the whole universe! Lord Brahma is so intelligent, his potency is so great! He puts the universe together in all of its little, little, little, little details! He does this throughout the entire universe with its big, big, big, big, big scale! He directly received the Big Plan from the Personality of Godhead, he understood it and he put the universe together. Just one example: modern science has discovered this amazing feature of RNA and DNA, strands of amino acids and bases put together and different combinations to make genes, the key of life. Who put that together? Ask the scientists and they will say “By chance, just random combination.” Without going into strength of that argument, the Vedas declare that Lord Brahma not only he knew about the essence of structures of this world before the scientists knew, he assembled the whole structure in its various details. I was just thinking about this yesterday morning. What an amazing creation Brahma has made! Consider anything you can think of in detail, you will easily see how amazing any aspect of creation is. The seasons changing: the trees know when to drop their leaves, when to bundle up and then when the spring time comes the whole display of spring appears. Just like this tree right outside my window, it’s some kind of a berry tree. Beautiful flowers appear all over the branches of the tree in the spring. The petals of those flowers dropping look like its winter time, with all the petals blowing all over the place! Then small berries appear, providing food the birds and small animals. A little squirrel dashes excitedly along the window sill every day. This squirrel is very regulated! The tree is supplying something for him to eat, and so forth. It’s an amazing arrangement! Lord Brahma is the arranger. He is doing so under the authority and the power of The Source of all power. Lord Brahma is invested with a little portion of power from The Source of all power but he is very very powerful! Unbelievably powerful! His position is so important that if there isn’t a qualified jiva soul to take this post at the beginning of each creation, Lord Vishnu accepts this position Himself. Lord Brahma is such an important post!
We are familiar with this term “Avatar.” I am sure all of us in the room even the new people have heard the term “Avatar” – one who descends from the spiritual realm to this realm, that’s Avatar. Lord Brahma is in two categories of avatar out of the six. He is the avatar in charge of mode of passion for the purpose of creation, thus he is considered a Guna Avatar. He is also a shaktyavesh avatar. The potency of Supreme Lord for creation, called shristhi-shakti, is invested in fullness in him and that’s a lot of potency! In the Third Canto of the Bhagavatam, Prabhupada specifically writes that Brahma is so powerful that he is sometimes spoken of by Shukdev Goswami as being as powerful as the Supreme Lord although he is not. He is so powerful! His power is so great, it’s inestimable; but whatever power he has, has it derived from The Source of all power, not all of which Lord Brahma has. So when he speaks these prayers, we are hearing from a great authority! There are twelve such great authorities, or mahajans mentioned in the Seventh Canto in Srimad Bhagavatam; he is one. Out of the entirety of all creation he is one great, great, great authority; so when he speaks, it is truth. At the same time he has all these qualifications, he is amazingly humble. We’ll highlight his humility in the course of his prayers.
This presentation is now going to describe these prayers from Srimad Bhagavatam Tenth Canto Chapter 14–The Prayers of Lord Brahma.
In order to understand anything within Bhagavad Gita or Srimad Bhagavatam, it’s important to understand the context of the particular message we are contemplating. For that reason, we will try to showcase Brahma’s prayers by briefly summarizing Chapters 12 & 13 of Canto.
Srila Prabhupada said that these paintings are “picture windows into the spiritual world”; so if you want to know what spiritual world looks like, fasten your seat belt, we are going there through pictures and sound. Another reason for showing all of the images is that modern educators have understood that some people are more visual then auditory, while others are more abstract thinkers. By connecting the Bhagavatam’s message with appropriate images, it helps fix the message. I grew up in KC like that. There are many paintings of this scene, where Lord Brahma is kneeling before Krishna offering prayers. You’ll see some other ones but this one is very special, very special. We will see this image again and again. There is Krishna with His right arm raised and in His left hand — you’ll see if you look closely — there is a lump of yogurt and some fruit. He is leaning on His cane, hanging over His shoulder is His buffalo horn, and of course Krishna has His flute. We’ll hear Brahma’s description of what he sees before him while very nonchalantly Krishna is listening to these 40 verses of very beautiful prayers.
Chapter 12 starts at an age when Krishna was just four years old. Think of somebody you know who is four years old. How old is your son? What’s his age? Eight [Laughter] You are getting bigger! Any children here that are four? They are probably outside making noise somewhere. Krishna was just four. It’s described in Gopal Champu that when Krishna was three He wanted to herd the cows. In the cowherd community, unlike the Brahmanas and the Kshatriyas where the boys when they turn five they go to school, when boys turn five in the vaishya community there is little ceremony when they begin assisting their parents in the family occupation of their parents. In this case, Nanda Maharaja’s occupation was herding the cows. But Krishna was precocious. He matured very quickly for His age. When He was only three He wanted to herd the cows, so he went to Mother Yashoda and pleaded with Mother Yashoda “Please let me herd the cows.” She replied “You are so little, the cows are so big! Do you know how big those cows are!? Grow up a little bit and when you turn five you can herd the cows.” Krishna was adamant. Although at first He asked nicely, but when Yashoda declined, He expressed His firm determination. Mother Yashoda didn’t know what to do. So she went to Nanda Maharaj and said “Can you talk to Nanda-nandana.” You all know how mothers put some little pressure on the child’s father to discipline the child when necessary. “Can you speak to Nanda-nandana and convince Him not to herd the cows?” Krishna was adamant. He insisted on herding the cows. So Nanda Maharaj brokered the deal. He said “You can herd the calves, but you have to come back for lunch every day because the cows are out all day long who knows what could happen.” There is a description in Gopal Champu of a hugh festival that was held, in honor of the dharma of the family being taken up by the son at three years of age! So they had a big festival in honor of Krishna going out for the first time, three years old, to herd the calves. Different persons brought Him gifts. Someone brought Him His first flute and someone gave Him a buffalo horn, someone gave Him rope for tying around the calves in case they went astray and Mother Yashoda, pictured here, gave Krishna little shoes and a white umbrella with a cowherd boy to hold the umbrella over him during the heat of the midday sun. She presented them to Krishna. The shape of the shoe is specifically described — the tip of the shoe was pointed and curled around at the end. This style of shoe is still popular in Rajasthan. There is some name for this type of shoe; you probably know in Hindi what the name is. Those pointy shoes that curl around at the end? Krishna refused. He said I can’t accept something that the cows don’t have. If you make four shoes for every one of Nanda Maharaj’s calves then I can accept, as well as an umbrella with a cowherd boy for each calf. We are protectors of cows we can’t accept something they don’t have. Mother Yashoda tried to reason with Krishna. She said “Lord Narayana has already given them shoes, look they have these things on their feet called hooves. They already have shoes. And they are accustomed to being out in sun so they don’t need an umbrella.” Krishna insisted. It doesn’t say how this exchange ended up, but I don’t think Mother Yashoda made shoes for all the calves. Krishna went without shoes, herding the calves for whole year.
When Krishna became four, He had an idea to perform a certain pastime. He didn’t tell Mother Yashoda what that pastime was. He just told Mother Yashoda “Today we are not going to come back at lunch time, so please prepare lunch we can take it with us.” She said “No!! You can’t do that. Anything could happen! You are just four years old and out by Yourself alone!” Krishna said “Then I’ll go alone without lunch.” [Chuckling] He was very determined. So she made lunch and all the other cowherd boys had their lunches and off they went to herd the calves for the whole day. By Krishna’s arrangement Balarama stayed home that day, so that Krishna could perform a very special pastime.
In this painting you see Balarama with His plow and Sridama by the side of Mother Yashoda. This beautiful scene is from Brhad Bhagvatamrita, Mother Yashoda is so attached to Krishna, she can’t bear being separate from Krishna. So she would come and adjust His garland. Then as Krishna took a few more steps towards the pasturing ground Yashoda stopped Krishna again, putting some extra samosas in His bag. Then as Krishna took a few more steps towards the pasturing ground Yashoda stopped Krishna again, making sure that Balarama stood by His side because Krishna can do all kinds of mischievous things but You are His elder brother, You please protect Him. Finally, Krishna said “Mother Yashoda we have to go now”. So off they went herding the calves. Just see how many, many, many, many calves. Chapter 12 of SB says the calves were asankhyata, asankhyata means too many to count. Same for the cowherd boys: so many, many, many. When they were herding the calves, they weren’t really herding the calves, they were just playing. The calves loved Krishna so they stayed with Krishna wherever Krishna went.
This is a scene from Chapter 12. As you see on the right, there is a peacock. The cowherd boys imitated the posture of the strutting peacock, or the frog that’s ready to jump, or the bird that’s ready to fly, making the sounds of each of these animals, sometimes swinging from the trees, sometimes playing games. This is Madhumangala, here is Krishna snatching his lunch, holding it up in the air and Madhumangala is in anxiety running after Krishna to get back his lunch. The cowherd boys are laughing. There is another lunch down here on the ground. They would play like little children, only with Krishna in the center. Sometimes Krishna would sit underneath a shady tree, play upon His flute with the cowherd boys mesmerized by his flute playing. Enjoying Krishna’s association in so many ways, they spent their entire day. Around 11 o’clock, right on schedule, a big demon, Aghasura manifested himself. He was right in the path the cowherd boys would regularly travel. They thought “We never saw a big cave on the path like this before! What is it?” And as they got closer, they found that there was hot air coming from the mouth of the cave and it had this bad fishy smell. Then they realized “This isn’t a cave. This is big serpent lying on the road. But Krishna has always protected us. Let’s go inside and explore” and off they went. All these asankhayata cowherd boys entered the mouth of Aghasura. The Bhagavatam describes that Krishna became overwhelmed by his own Yogamaya potency as this moment. Because Yogamaya enhances Krishna’s pastimes, He became bewildered. He wanted to call out to the cowherd boys “Don’t go inside.” It wasn’t just because He was concerned for their safety that they might be harmed by the big serpent; rather He was considering — our Acharyas know Krishna’s thoughts somehow because Krishna is very kind and He discloses these things — Krishna was thinking “These cowherd boys can’t stand separation from Me even for a moment. When passing through the forest and there is a tree in between Myself and other cowherd boy even for a few moments, when they can’t see Me, for them it feels like years have passed and they are in big anxiety, but when we are on other side of the tree everything is okay. They are so attached to Me. How will they bear separation from Me?” But it was too late. They had already entered into mouth of Aghasura. After a few moments, Yogamaya’s bewildering influence upon Krishna subsided, then withdrew. Krishna knew what to do. He also entered into the mouth of Aghasura, which was exactly what Aghasura was waiting for, and Aghasura closed his mouth. Then Krishna expanded His body bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger and Aghasura suffocated. The soul of Aghasura was made visible somehow because we cannot see soul, it’s too tiny, we can’t see the soul but the effulgence of the soul of Aghasura went up in the air, the cowherd boys left the mouth of the Aghasura and soul of Aghasura merged into the body of Krishna, giving him liberation-sahujya mukti.
By then it was nearly noon: time for lunch! So the cowherd boys went to have their lunch.
Meanwhile Lord Brahma had come to see his Master because he knew Krishna had appeared on earth and was performing His pastimes in Vrindavan. Brahma witnessed the entire amazing display of this huge serpent being killed by this little boy. Immediately afterwards they were all sitting around together, having lunch, playing just like little boys. The description is given – one of the cowherd boys said “Oh, my mother made the best preparations, Here, Krishna, try one of these!” And Krishna would open His mouth, they would push the food gently into Krishna’s mouth, and He smiled. Other boys would make jokes, laugh and carry on and just playing like little children will play. We know how little children play when they are together. They were playing just like little children. Lord Brahma, seeing this scene from his swan carrier above, was amazed! For a moment he became bewildered. “Who is this little boy? He looks like He is all powerful but He is conducting Himself like He is not, just little boy! What is the extent of His power? What will He do if I do something to challenge His power? Maybe I’ll take all the cowherd boys and all the calves, then what will He do? Is Krishna going to cry? Maybe Krishna will come and fall at my feet and say ‘Please return the calves and cowherd boys.’ What is He going to do?” In this way Brahma became inspired.
Now we are already in Chapter 13. Here is the verse on the left hand side of the slide. “Oh Maharaj Parkshit, Brahma who resides in the higher planetary system in the sky had observed the activities of the most powerful Krishna in killing and delivering Aghasura and he was astonished. Now that same Brahma wanted to show some of his own power and see the power of Krishna who is engaged in His childhood pastimes playing as if with ordinary cowherd boys. Therefore in Krishna’s absence, Brahma took all the boys and calves to other place thus he became entangled for in the very near future he would see how powerful Krishna was.”
While all the cowherd boys were enjoying their lunch together, the calves, looking for fresh grasses, wandered here and there. Some of the cowherd boys noticed “Oh the calves have gone. They have strayed away.” Krishna said “Don’t worry, you finish your lunch, I’ll go find them.” While Krishna had gone to gather the calves and bring them back, Lord Brahma came and kidnapped all the cowherd boys, Krishna’s dearmost friends, His beloved devotees. He kidnapped them and put them in the cave. When Krishna came back with all the calves, the cowherd boys were gone. When Krishna was looking for the cowherd boys, Brahma stole the calves. He put all the calves and all the cowherd boys in the cave and then went back to the scene of the crime as criminals will sometimes do. He wanted to see what Krishna was going to do.
When he went back, he saw all the all the calves, and cowherd boys having lunch. He was amazed! So he went back to the cave and there they were in the cave. Because Krishna is the source of everything, His cowherd boyfriends included, Krishna had expanded Himself as identical forms of each cowherd boy and each calf for another purpose, a transcendental purpose. What was that transcendental purpose?
According to Brahma’s time just moments passed, while on Earth a whole year had passed. Please note Balarama wasn’t here when this pastime took place, it was part of Krishna’s arrangement because if Balarama was present, the pastime could not have been successfully carried out. So Balarama wasn’t present. For one whole year all the cowherd boys had gone back home and their mothers didn’t detect “This isn’t my son, this is an expansion of Krishna as my son!” They didn’t understand that. Those of you who are mothers, do you think you would not be able to recognize your own child, even if another child was present before you who kind of looked like your child? Not possible! But it happened in Vrindavan, because Krishna expanded Himself in such a way. The mothers had a strong desire to have Krishna as their son, so Krishna fulfilled their desire. He became their son for a whole year. The mothers were astonished to find that their affection for their son became equal to their affection for Krishna. Mothers may have affection for some other child in addition to their own child, but they naturally have special affection for their own child. It’s natural. But in Vrindavan, mothers have more affection for Krishna than for their own child. They were amazed to find that their affection for their own child was becoming like their affection for Krishna. They were astonished.
The cows similarly had motherly affection towards Krishna. They wanted to directly feed Krishna. So Krishna became a calf, appearing identical to their calf, and they became fully satisfied. This was another, one of the many things Krishna was accomplishing through this pastime.
When Brahma saw all these cowherd boys in duplicate forms, he didn’t know what to make of it. So what did Krishna do?
Look carefully at this painting. You can see Krishna tilting His head back while cowherd boys were popping some food in His mouth. Note carefully what is behind each cowherd boy. Simultaneously each one of the innumerable cowherd boys and calves manifested Vishnu forms or Narayana forms. Surrounding each of those Narayana forms were unlimited potencies, unlimited living entities and the personified Vedas chanting their glories. It was a cacophony of sound! In the SB it says all the Vishnu murtis were surrounded by the opulence’s headed by Anima siddhis; this is because Krishna possesses all mystic powers. What’s the name of Krishna that says he possesses or He is the master of all mystic powers? Yogeshvara! He manifested these mystic powers, personified, and they were glorifying Him, along with mystic potencies headed by Aja. Our Acharyas explain what this Aja means – Radharani, or His internal potency, His svarup shakti, and so many other, other, other potencies, sub-potencies of His internal potency and the 24 elements for the creation of the material world, they have their spiritual counterparts in the spiritual world. Each one of the Vishnu forms manifested all of these different potencies personified, who were singing the glories of Lord Vishnu. Pretty amazing!!
Then Lord Brahma saw that Kala or time, svabhava – one’s own nature, samskaras – the purificatory procedures, kama – desire, karma, and the modes of nature, their own independence being completely subordinate to the potency of the Lord. They had all taken forms and were worshipping those Vishnu murtis. Seeing all this was circuit overload for Brahma! He fainted right before Krishna.
In the painting you see Krishna seated in the front, because these are all expansions of Krishna: the cowherd boys are expansions of Krishna, and the forms of Vishnu standing behind them are also expansions of Krishna. In fact, each of the cowherd boys are actually Vishnu forms or Vishnu tattva, whereas behind them are Lord Vishnu forms each manifesting all these various potencies. The commentary says “nija mahi mani” mani means jewel, mahi mani- the unlimited potencies, the unlimited supreme manifesting unlimited potencies. Brahma fainted! When he came to external consciousness again he looked up. Again he saw the same thing, then all of a sudden they all disappeared. Poof!! They were gone! Krishna withdrew those manifestations of Him and just alone was Krishna, standing with unblinking eyes before Lord Brahma.
That’s the end of Chapter 13. By the way Chapter 13 was the last chapter that Srila Prabhupada personally gave his last Bhaktivedanta purports to. Read that chapter, read the purports, look at the images of Srila Prabhupada in his final days. How was it possible in that condition to have given such beautiful, eloquent, very deep and profound purports? It makes it very clear Prabhupada was not on the material platform, not at all!
Now we are going to cover two sets of verses, starting with verses 1 through 8 of Chapter 14. I have given the title for these verses “How to know the unknowable.” That is a contradiction of terms, by the way. That which is “unknowable” you can’t know. So how is it possible to know the unknowable, that which can’t be known? You can’t. This unknowable has unlimited potencies, so how can that which is limited know the unlimited? How can the unknowable become known? Brahma discloses the answer in these prayers. The answer is through “Humility” and submission to the Unlimited Supreme Person, He can disclose Himself. The strength of Brahma’s humility is astounding. Especially for us who are chanters of the holy name, this humility is not optional if we want to go more deeply into the holy name. So listen very carefully not only to the words or the message of Brahma; listen to the mood of humility that’s pervading all of these wonderful prayers and his prayers.
Translation (SB 10.14.1)–Lord Brahma said “My dear Lord, You are the only worship-able Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead and therefore I offer my humble obeisance’s and prayers just to please You. O son of the king of the cowherds, Your transcendental body is dark blue like a new cloud, Your garment is brilliant like lightening, and the beauty of Your face is enhanced by your gunja earrings, and the peacock feather on Your head. Wearing garlands of forest flowers and leaves, and equipped with the herding stick, a buffalo horn, and a flute, You stand beautifully with a morsel of food in Your hand.”
This is like deity darshan! When we have deity darshan, especially the devotees who dress the deities each morning, are very expectant when the conch blows, the curtain opens and they see how elegantly Kishor Kishori are decorated. We are instructed to worship the deity form of the Lord in the mood of aishwarya or opulence. It inspires awe and reverence seeing Their beauty. Even Krishna is holding His flute, we decorate Him very opulently.
Lord Brahma is seeing yet another form or feature of Krishna. He is having direct darshan of this very, very, very special unique feature of Krishna in Vrindavan. Mother Yashoda is the queen of Nanda Maharaj, the king. She has all kinds of jewels and opulences to offer to Krishna; but Krishna likes the simple forest flower garland described in this verse, “vanya sraje” wearing a garland of various forest flowers and leaves. Krishna likes them more than pearls, diamonds and all kinds of fabulous jewels that mother Yashoda has in the royal treasury, but He likes far more – it’s His mood – He prefers the flower bearing trees and bushes and plants. It is their happiness to offer these flowers, so accepting them is His reciprocation of love. Here are the earrings made gunja berries, or “gusjavatamsa.” “paripiccha” indicates His peacock feather. “lasana mukhaya” means His form like a fresh monsoon cloud. “Kavala” – He is holding a morsel of food in His hand. Specifically our Acharyas say He is extending His left hand, because he eats with His right hand. Brahma is bewildered to see this form. “vetra-visana-venu-laksma-sriye”- look at the picture again, you’ll see – He is equipped with the herding stick, a buffalo horn and the flute. He is very mercifully giving darshan of His original form to Brahma, who is describing his experience for us and for the artist, who has rendered into a painting this darshan of Krishna in Vrindavan. Although just a four year old boy apparently, actually He is the eternal Supreme Personality of Godhead, appearing in this amazing childlike opulent form.
Hearing this, Krishna might respond, saying “I’m a cowherd boy, why are you worshipping Me? You are Lord Brahma. Brahma literally means you are the greatest, most powerful, most knowledgeable, all knowing person in the universe, that’s you. Why are you offering prayers and obeisance’s to Me?”
In response, here is the translation of Brahma’s second prayer, SB 10.14.2:
My dear Lord, neither I nor anyone else can estimate the potency of this transcendental body of Yours, which has shown such mercy to me.
Krishna showed this form to Brahma because Brahma wanted to see the limit of Krishna’s opulence’s, which are unlimited. So Krishna gave him this vision: He expanded Himself as identical cowherd boys although each one was Vishnu Tattva in nature, behind whom were all the Vishnu forms, being worshipped by His unlimited potencies. In normal circumstances, Krishna’s unlimited potencies are sometimes disclosed, and sometimes withheld. In this lila, Krishna showed all of His potencies all at once; by this lila Krishna demonstrated that the entire range of all potencies that exist are within the transcendental body of Krishna.
Translation Continued: (SB 10.14.2)— My dear Lord, neither I nor anyone else can estimate the potency of this transcendental body of Yours, which has shown such mercy to me and which appears just to fulfill the desires of Your pure devotees.
Notice this term “sveccha-mayasya”, or sva iccha maya. Santana Goswami focuses on this term in his commentary. iccha means desire and maya means potencies. Krishna has iccha shakti or iccha maya; by this potency He does whatever He wants to do. What does He want to do? He wants to please His devotees, especially the residents of Vrindavan. When they see this special form which Brahma is seeing, they don’t see the almightiness, the majesty of Krishna’s form. They just see their wonderful friend, or their wonderful son, or their wonderful beloved. Brahma has a very strong sense of majesty. Reasonably so, because he has to know all about the Lord’s potencies, being the creator of the universe. He has to understand about potencies, the extent of them and how to utilize them for the purpose of serving Krishna, carrying out the creation. Brahma is marveling at Krishna’s mercy and what He is showing him (Brahma). “This little four year old boy, whose transcendental body is fulfilling my desire! Who can imagine how He is also fulfilling the desire of the Vrindavan residents! Such a merciful form! I can’t understand the limits of You.” This word “manasantarena” means that his purified mind has been withdrawn from all material affairs of creation with which he is ordinarily involved. Now he is in Vrindavan. He is not involved in his acts of creation, he has withdrawn his mind completely from those material affairs, now he is seeing this form of Krishna. He is stating “I cannot possibly understand this personal form, then what to speak of the happiness that You experience within Yourself, what to speak of the happiness that You experience when You are having lunch with the cowherd boys and all of the other pastimes that you perform with Your devotees in Vrindavan. How much happiness you’re experiencing I cannot fathom it! What to speak of that, even Your body I can’t understand. That is why I am offering my prayers!”
All glories unto You, in other words.
Brahma in essence is saying “I desired to examine the extent of Your potency, I desired to understand how You would react to my showing my power. In turn, You have shown such mercy to me by giving me a glimpse of who You actually are.”
Continuing the theme of this section, “How can one estimate something that is unlimited, which can produce unlimited entities, where each one of those entities having unlimited potencies? How is this possible?” Because he is Brahma he is highly intelligent. Although he wants to understand, he analyzes that I can’t understand. Just like when we are chanting and trying to chant with full attention. Try it, what do you find? You can’t! Not unless there is mercy, decorating your effort to chant with full attention. Then, with mercy, that which is impossible becomes possible. Brahma understands “Beyond my capacity for understanding things with my own power, I require this other approach, this other process – the process of bhakti.”
Now let’s chant together simultaneously this wonderful full verse: SB 10.14.3
jnane prayasam udapasya namanta eva
jivanti san-mukharitam bhavadiya-vartam
sthane sthitaḥ sruti-gatam tanu-van-manobhir
ye prayaso ‘jita jito ‘py asi tais tri-lokyam
Very famous verse! Srila Prabhupada’s translation from the Bhagavatam:
Translation (SB 10.14.3) Those who, even while remaining situated in their established social positions, throw away the process of speculative knowledge and with their body, words and mind offer all respects to descriptions of Your personality and activities, dedicating their lives to these narrations, which are vibrated by You personally and by Your pure devotees, certainly conquer Your Lordship, although You are otherwise unconquerable by anyone within the three worlds.
I put this word “jivanti” in big letters because in his commentary Jiva Goswami makes special emphasis on jivanti here in this verse, and again two verses later, Text 5. Jivanti. Live in devotion to Krishna because that’s real living. Live in devotion, just stay in a life of devotion unto Krishna; somehow just faithfully abide in the life of devotion to Krishna. There is one small qualifier. “bhavadiya-vartam”-dedicating your lives to these narrations. What narrations? “sruti-gatam”- descriptions of Your personality and activities. Descriptions of Your personality and activities: dedicate your life to this! The purpose of life for such a devotee is hearing and chanting, sravanam kirtanam, bhagavat-dharma, immersion in hearing the glories of the Personality and the activities of the form and name of the Supreme Lord. “tanu-van-manobhir”-with body, mind, and words. “san-mukharitam” indicates that which comes from Krishna or Krishna’s pure devotees, from their mukha, from their mouths.
Then let us look at this line at the top “jnane prayasam” For those of you who know little bit of Sanskrit, “prayasam” means endeavor. “jnane prayasam”- means the endeavor to understand the absolute truth by speculation. “udapasyat” -throw it away completely; completely, completely discard such efforts, “jnane prayasam udapasyat”.
“namanta” – offer your obeisances, and prayers and prays, “jivanti” – live in that condition. Which living condition? Those who have heard from Krishna Himself or from Your devotees, and who dedicate their lives to those things — stay in your present position! You don’t have to become a sanyasi or a great scholar, or be born of high birth. Just follow the conditions described here. Dedicate yourself to hearing about Krishna and stay in your position. This is the same as what Krishna said to Arjuna – don’t give up your position, stay in your position, whatever your psychophysical nature is. Dedicate that to Krishna.
“tanu-van-manobhir ye prayaso”-this is translated by Santana Goswami as “this is the means”. Similar to prayasam found at the very beginning of this verse, here it is “prayaso”- this is the means, this method of bhakti is the means of conquering –WHO? “Ajita”, He who can’t be conquered, becomes conquered. How does He become conquered? He becomes conquered by love. He who is unconquerable becomes conquered by love. “Jivanti”- living one’s life in the life of devotion is soul’s demonstration of their love for Krishna.
This verse is so important!
Chaitanya Charitramrita elevates this verse to a very special status! This is a painting of Ramananda Roy, the governor of Madras. At the time of Lord Chaitanya’s passing through his kingdom, they met. Later that same evening, they had a private discussion. Lord Chaitanya began the discussion by asking Ramananda Roy “Can you please describe the goal of life and the means to achieve it?” That is where the discussion began. Ramananda Roy was a very elevated vaisnava scholar. He suggested several elevated, very highly lauded verses from scripture, in response to this question. Lord Chaitanya kept saying “Oh this is external, say something further.” When Ramananda Roy spoke this verse Lord Chaitanya confirmed “Yes, this is it! The goal of life and how to achieve it!” “Now go further, explain it more.” Ramananda Roy introduced this verse by expressing that “pure devotional service without any touch of speculative knowledge is the essence of perfection.” It should come as no surprise that Rupa Goswami says the same thing in his essential verse of the entire Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu:
jnana karmady anavrtam
silanum bhaktir uttama
This same message also discloses the very same essence of perfection.
This fourth prayer of Lord Brahma is a very important verse. The very same message is expressed in section of the Bhagavatam describing Hamsa avatar. In this painting you see him, the Supreme Lord taking the form of a swan. He is instructing Lord Brahma. Here are the four Kumaras, the sons of Lord Brahma. Hamsa avatar is explaining how to view the world. How does a devotee, one who is situated in pure devotional service, see the world? If you don’t see the relationship between matter and Krishna, you cannot see the world in which we live properly or accurately. From that initial error of not seeing the connection of all things with Krishna, our life is similarly an illusory existence, a fabrication of maya. It’s a fundamental and big step, to see that everything has its relationship with the source.
“Sambandha” means relationship.
Who is in the better position than Brahma to see the relationship of all things with their source? He is the creator of all things, this entire cosmic manifestation, at least one of the universes within it. Just as Brahma is hearing this message from Hamsa avatar, such direct hearing is a must for all of us also. Seeing the relationship between matter and Krishna is an essential part of bhakti because we are engaging so many objects in Krishna’s service, using our senses which are creations of matter in Krishna’s service. Yet He is beyond the limits of the senses. This is the meaning of “adhokshaja.” Yet He can be accessed through devotional service unto Him. The unknowable can be known through the medium of bhakti.
Ramananda Roy, being requested by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to say something beyond this verse, gives this reply. In very advanced stages of bhakti, in the Mahabhagavat stage, Ramananda Roy says “The advanced devotee certainly sees everything mobile and immobile but he doesn’t exactly see their forms rather everywhere he immediately sees manifest the form of the Supreme Lord.”
[It is too easy to take any one of these topics and expand their message, they are so wonderful! But I have to remain conscious of time.]
I remember having a discussion with Ravindra Svarup prabhu on this very same teaching. Ravindra Svarup being a Ph.D in philosophy, was deeply pondering over the subject matter. Prabhupada said “When a pure devotee sees a tree, he doesn’t just see a tree, he sees Krishna.” So Ravindra, a Ph.D philosopher was wondering what does a pure devotee see? Well, he doesn’t exactly see their forms only, although he does see the form of a tree. Yet he sees Krishna. Now what is that like? What does it mean? On the altar, there is the deity form of Krishna. Looking out the window, there so many trees. If you were in a forest, do you see a whole forest of Krishnas? What does it mean? Well, we don’t know until we become Mahabhagavata. We can speculate what it means but we’ll never understand it that way but the Mahabhagavata Ramananda Roy is describing what the Mahabhagavata sees. He sees everything mobile and immobile but not exactly simply their forms, he sees Krishna. “The advanced devotee certainly sees everything mobile and immobile but he doesn’t exactly see their forms rather everywhere he immediately sees manifest the form of the Supreme Lord.”
That is what Brahma is saying here. By speculation these things can’t be known, but by dedication of one’s life to these glorifications of Krishna’s personality, His activities, and His form, dedicating your life to these things, His name, then these unknowable things become knowable because the unlimited discloses: “I am like this”.
There is reference at the bottom right to a verse from the same chapter, Chapter 14 verse 35. Brahma there is marveling: those who dedicate themselves to You, how You reciprocate with them? “You are so merciful You reciprocated with me because I was curious about the limit of Your potencies. You have not only shown me Your unlimited potencies but You have also shown me Your personal form. You disclosed truths about Your personal form. That was just Your kindness upon me, even when I was challenging You. You showed me such kindness.”
Here is Putana, the big demoness. “You arranged to give Yourself to Putana and her family members.”
In verse 35 it says “sakula”, sa means with, and kula means family. Our Acharyas explain that Putana had two brothers. Her two brothers were Aghasura and Bakasura. They came to avenge the death of Putana. Krishna gave Putana the position of mother in Goloka Vrindavan to assist Mother Yashoda. WOW!! “You are such a benevolent giving personality. To Putana You gave Yourself. To Aghasura and Bakasura You gave Yourself. You entered into their mouths! Your spiritual form entered into those demons mouths, You gave Yourself to them, so what are You going to do with these residents of Vrindavan whose lives and hearts are completely dedicated only unto You, how are You going to reciprocate with them?” Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakur says in two words “You cannot!” Krishna says to the residents of Vrindavan, to the gopis “I cannot repay you!” “You just have to accept your happiness and loving devotion.” That’s how He reciprocates!
Here is the painting of Krishna entering into the mouth of Bakasura. Since Bakasura wanted very much to put Krishna in his beak, Krishna entered within his beak, but wouldn’t go down his throat. He tried to swallow Krishna but couldn’t. Eventually Krishna expanded His body, broke out of the beak, and bifurcated the beak. Here is the cowherd boys assisting Krishna, beating Bakasura with sticks.
Here is a painting of Aghasura. When Krishna entered the mouth of the Aghasura, the demigods hidden behind the clouds exclaimed Alas!! Alas!! But the friends of Aghasura like Kamsa and other demons were jubilant. There goes Krishna and Balarama inside the mouth, [except Balarama wasn’t there they made a mistake in this painting. Balarama wasn’t there] but then of course when Krishna expanded Himself, Aghasura suffocated, and all the cowherd boys left the mouth of Aghasura. Kamsa and other demons weren’t so jubilant when that happened.
The main message is that Krishna reciprocates with the love of the residents of Vrindavan by nurturing their love.
This is one of my favorite paintings! In one painting all five rasas in Vrindavan are depicted. You can practically visualize the love that each one of the personalities in those five rasas feels for Krishna. Really beautiful painting!! Of course Nanda Maharaj and Mother Yashoda in parental affection, the gopis in the conjugal affection, the cowherd boys in friendship, those in the mood of servitude and neutrality – all five rasas are depicted. That’s how Krishna repays: strengthening their love, especially the love of the gopis, who are most glorified in Srimad Bhagavatam and by our Acharyas. That’s how Krishna reciprocates; He strengthens and enhances and stirs and amplifies their love. By His various loving exchanges, their love becomes unlimitedly increased. That’s how He reciprocates.
Right at the very beginning of Sanatana Goswami’s commentary to this jnane prayasam verse (SB 10.14.3), he refers to the verse from Upanishads which states “Tam eva vidhiva” -freedom is possible only by understanding Brahman. Then he raises the question “If that’s the case, then how can an ignorant person attain liberation?” He then states “This verse answers that question.” How? Because it’s through devotion — not by the power of speculation, but through devotion — that one can be released from material existence.
So that was verse 3. We didn’t get very far yet.
Looking at the time, I hope you can remain patient. I will try to conclude quickly so we can still have breakfast, hang on!
Let us briefly summarize what we have learned so far. By the hearing process we can develop such a loving trusted relationship with Krishna that He will say “I am like this. You wanted to see Me as I am, you wanted to serve Me, such a deep desire for so long and I have tested you so many times and you only chose Me. Now here I am!” Krishna has shown His special, special, mercy to Lord Brahma. Now Brahma understands this would not have been possible by the power of speculation. This was made possible only by devotion.
“Oh Krishna!! O Ajita! You are conquered by this path. Let me say about this glorious process in contrast to jnana.”
In the first line of Verse 4 you will see “sreyah-srtim bhaktim”, which mean “devotional service unto You is the best path for self-realization.” However, “udasya te vibho” some persons may give up bhakti and try instead to understand the cultivation of speculative knowledge “kevala-bodha-labdhaye.” What do they get? “klisyanti” simply trouble, and “klesala” misery.
Translation (SB 10.14.4)—My dear Lord, devotional service unto You is the best path for self-realization. If someone gives up that path and engages in the cultivation of speculative knowledge, he’ll simply undergo a troublesome process and will not achieve his desirable results. As a person who beats an empty husk of wheat cannot get grain, one who simply speculates cannot achieve self-realization. His only gain is trouble.
This is a photograph of wheat growing on a stalk in a wheat field. So many of you have seen in Vrindavan, at harvest time they harvest the wheat when the stalk has already turned golden in color. The whole village then comes to do the thrashing together. For days they sing songs of Krishna while thrashing the wheat. It is work, but even more so it is grand festival. In the evening stories of Krishna are narrated. The wheat is gathered, but then the chaff is left over. Chaff is what is left when the wheat is taken out. Suppose someone comes along and thrashes the chaff after the wheat is gone. What are they gaining? Nothing! The only thing they gain trouble – klisyanti– and misery – klesala. But they don’t get any wheat, no labdhaye. Prabhupada has translated labdhaye as attaining self-realization, but expanded, that self-realization means God realization. Followers of the Vedas want these higher stages, they want liberation. No liberation, no labdhaye, no self-realization what to speak of understanding Krishna.
Translation (SB 10.14.5)— O almighty Lord, in the past many yogis in this world achieved the platform of devotional service by offering all their endeavors unto You and faithfully carrying out their prescribed duties. Through such devotional service, perfected by the processes of hearing and chanting about You, they came to understand You, O infallible one, and could easily surrender to You and achieve Your supreme abode.
Yogis in this world can achieve the platform of devotional service by offering all their endeavors unto Krishna — nija-karma, or all their endeavors— while faithfully carrying out their prescribed duties.
Such devotional service must become perfected by the hearing process, hearing and chanting about Krishna, kathopanitaya. Connecting to Krishna by the hearing and chanting process, such yogis became perfected by the process of hearing and chanting about Him, and thus they came to understand Him, Acyuta, the infallible.
Translation (SB 10.14.6)— Non-devotees, however, cannot realize You in Your full personal feature. Nevertheless, it may be possible for them to realize Your expansion as the impersonal Supreme by cultivating direct perception of the Self within the heart. But they can do this only by purifying their mind and senses of all conceptions of material distinctions and all attachment to material sense objects. Only in this way will Your impersonal feature manifest itself to them.
How practical is it to strive for realization of the impersonal feature of the Supreme? Krishna answers this question in Bhagavad Gita Chapter 12. Think about it for just a moment – No conceptions of material distinctions? How do you live your life that way? To go from point A to point B, with no distinctions? There is the door, there is the wall, just walk through the wall? Walk across the ceiling? How do you live your life? When “all conceptions of materialistic distinctions are gone and all attachments” are gone, how do you function in this world? What to speak of this little one – no attachment to material sense objects. Only in this way will your impersonal feature be realized. See how merciful is the bhakti process! How merciful is the bhakti process! It’s so exalted! In the next verse Brahma continues comparing the jnana process and the bhakti process.
Translation (SB 10.14.7)—In time, learned philosophers or scientists might be able to count all the atoms of the earth, the particles of snow, or perhaps even the shining molecules radiating from the sun, the stars and other luminaries.
Scientist today cannot agree whether light is made up of particles or waves. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle! So what to speak of counting all the particles of all the luminaries in the whole universe. Supposing they can count all those particles, just supposing! Who amongst these learned persons could possibly count the unlimited transcendental qualities possessed by You, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who have descended onto the surface of the earth for the benefit of all living entities.
How compassionate is the unlimited! He makes access available to Him through the bhakti process. He says “Take the bhakti process”. It’s not going to be possible any other way. According to Lord Brahma in verse 6, good luck!! Even then, such a learned person cannot see His personal feature, what to speak of His feature in Vrindavan!
This is a painting of Uddhava speaking to Krishna. Later Uddhava glorifies Krishna to Vidura, where he says “How shall I take shelter of one more merciful, because there isn’t one more merciful!” Krishna is the most merciful! This is another very beautiful ISKCON painting of Uddhava hearing from Krishna, Uddhava Gita. In background, there is Maitreya also hearing this discussion. Even after Krishna left, Uddhava was constantly with Krishna just by remembering his pastimes of love! How merciful is the all merciful!!
Brahma’s conclusion is this: “You have unlimited qualities and each of them are expandable to unlimited degree. Yet the impersonalist does not, and cannot realize these qualities, in fact they dismiss them. They say the Supreme has no qualities. How unfortunate! How unfortunate!”
By speculative process is it possible to understand the Supreme? Try to conceive of what unlimitedly beautiful means. Go ahead, close your eyes and think of “unlimitedly beautiful.” You can’t! How beautiful is unlimitedly beautiful? How attractive is unlimitedly attractive? How compassionate is unlimitedly compassionate? By speculative powers these qualities of Krishna cannot be understood. What to speak of His form! What to speak of His features in Vrindavan! This merciful manifestation of Krishna takes place for the benefit of and out of love for His devotees.
Brahma is contemplating: “I now wish to describe both the internal and the external activities of bhakti.”
We are almost done with this section. Text 8 is a very important verse quoted in a Bhagavad Gita Chapter 12 purport, something you should always keep with you.
tat te ‘nukampam su-samiksamano
bhunjana evatma-krtam vipakam
hrd-vag-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te
jiveta yo mukti-pade sa daya-bhak
Here is this same word jiveta again!
Translation (SB 10.14.8)—My dear Lord, one who earnestly [“su-samiksamano”], one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy [“te ‘nukampam”], all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds.
Past misdeeds – “atma-krtam” and “vipakam” – these are our reactions to past misdeeds. Awaiting them — not fearing them, not running away, not trying to deny them, or stick your head in sand or whine and complain or whatever — just waiting for those things to come, and pass. We all get ours in due course of time, if not today then tomorrow, if not tomorrow then in ten days, it will come to everyone. Sometimes these reactions do not seem to go away, still you patiently wait for the reaction to subside. Just keep going on, patiently suffering the reactions of past misdeeds. Instead of investing consciousness in these temporary actions of the external energy, where are we advised to invest our consciousness instead? “Offering respectful obeisances with his heart, words and body is surely eligible for liberation for it has become “sa daya-bhak.” “mukti-pade”, sa daya-bhak- become his rightful claim.
There is so much to say about this verse too. Such a nice verse! Accept our destiny. Say yes to Krishna. This does not mean we turn our intelligence off, we don’t do anything, become dull and dumb. No. But whatever is coming, while we make some practical arrangement for whatever is coming, we accept it. Srila Prabhupada said, in answer to the question “Is astrology something a devotee should involve themselves with, seeking some guidance according to astrology?” his answer was “If you know that it’s going to rain you might carry an umbrella.” That was his answer. On Rathayatra day, you want to know if it’s going to rain or not, so we check the weather forecast. It happened in New York recently; it was supposed to rain, then at the last minute the forecast changed! It’s not supposed to rain! In either case, we will conduct Rathayatra, rain or no rain. But if it’s going to rain you may bring an umbrella, or you may not bring an umbrella. We move forward with our lives in devotion to Krishna despite whatever destiny is going to come our way. Same for Brahma. He made a great offense. He offended Krishna’s cowherd boys and calves. That was a big mistake. While Krishna was enjoying with them, Brahma interrupted Krishna’s enjoyment. Look out, he is going to get a big reaction! Yet Brahma is saying “I accept this reaction. It’s coming, and I accept it.” End of Verse 8.
A painting from Sixth Canto of Bhagavatam shows King Chitraketu coming to pay his respects to Lord Shiva in his vimana from Vidhyadharaloka. Parvati cursed him. You see seated here, there is Narada Muni, other great sages in the assembly, having the darshan Lord Shiva. King Chitraketu was cursed to die and become a demon, and he just accepted it. Perfect example!
na kutascana bibhyati
Devotees solely engaged in the devotional service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayana, never fear any condition of life. For them the heavenly planets, liberation and the hellish planets are all the same, for such devotees are interested only in the service of the Lord.
Seeing with equal vision includes this: whatever is coming, I accept. Krishna’s plan? I accept. I may do something, supposing I have a knee problem so I’ll go to a physical therapist to take care of whatever a physical therapist can do to help so I can walk properly. I’ll do something, not remain passive. I’ll do something, even as I accept the arrangement of Krishna, and continue offering prayers.
Indra’s pride was defeated by Krishna’s lifting of Govardhan Hill. Here he is shown offering his prayers, accepting whatever was the plan of the Supreme Lord.
Prabhupada speaks about this verse in Nectar of Devotion as follows:–
“This statement “tat te ‘nukampam” verse should be the guide of all devotees. A devotee’s perfectly action, that’s us right, should therefore continue to act in Krishna Consciousness seriously even though there may be so many impediments. When such impediments arise, he should simply think of Krishna and expect His mercy that is the only solace. If the devotee passes his days in that spirit, it is certainly that he is going to be promoted to the abode of the Lord.”
This quote is taken from the section of Nectar of Devotion entitled “Expecting the Lord’s mercy.” He is being merciful even when there are reactions coming to us for our past misdeeds.
Jiva Goswami in his commentary on this verse emphasizes this word “jiveta” which conveys the meaning that all you are required to do is simply live in this way, just carry on in a life of devotion — sometimes it’s going to be dark, sometimes it’s going to be light; sometimes honor, sometimes dishonor – enduring duality’s drama, simply carry on with your devotional service, investing your consciousness fully in the eternal. By so doing, you will remain awake and alive in your relationship with Krishna. This is the injunction: tolerate misfortune, let it come, let it go, focus on your relationship with Krishna, by dedication to hearing and chanting about Him.
Here is a reference from Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakur. See his tears of ecstasy as he’s providing for us commentary on these wonderful messages of Srimad Bhagavatam. This is Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakur’s commentary. Basically Brahma has rejected the jnana process, he has accepted the bhakti process to attain Bhagavan, and now the bhakti process is being described:-
“The devotee understands that the happiness and distress which he experiences due to performing bhakti committing apradhas are the mercy of the Lord. It is like the father who sometimes makes his child drink milk and sometimes makes him drink bitter nimba juice. Sometimes he embraces and kisses, sometimes he admonishes him. The devotee thinks that this is the arrangement of the Lord working for his benefit. ‘The Lord knows and I do not know. Karma and time have no effect on the devotee so it is by His personal arrangement, by His mercy He sometimes gives me happiness and sometimes gives me distress considering how to engage me in His service.’”
This is a “Say Yes to Krishna” message. Keep saying Yes to Krishna regardless of the external circumstances.
The next four verses, 9-12, make up the next section or cluster of verses. After Lord Brahma concludes his explanation of how to understand the inconceivable, and his appreciation of the unlimited potencies of the unlimited Krishna, he is now going to offer his heartfelt words of apology.
Translation (SB 10.14.9)—My Lord, just see my uncivilized impudence! To test your power I try to extend my illusory potency to cover You, the unlimited and primeval Supersoul, who bewilder even the masters of illusion. What am I compared to You? I am just like a small spark in the presence of a great fire.
This image shows a match being ignited. Surrounding the igniting match you can see little sparks flying in all directions. The jivas are like little sparks of the Supreme. Illumination-wise, we are smaller sparks than Lord Brahma. Brahma is very very powerful. What is our position? Tiny, Tiny! He is requesting forgiveness for the impudence in testing Krishna. Then he goes on with more prayers for forgiveness.
Translation (SB 10.14.10)—Therefore, O infallible Lord, kindly excuse my offences I have taken birth in mode of passion and am therefore simply foolish, presuming myself a controller independent of Your Lordship. My eyes are blinded by the darkness of ignorance, which causes me to think of myself as the unborn creator of the universe. Please consider that I’m your servant and therefore worthy of Your compassion.
The Sanskrit is “’nukampyo mayi.” One who is ‘nukampyo’ is an eligible recipient of compassion. What’s my credential? “I’m Your servant, your impudent servant. But in my heart is this wish to be in Your service, so please kindly excuse me.” That’s this word “kshma”, meaning “kindly excuse me.”
Translation (SB 10.14.11)—What am I, a small creature measuring seven spans of my own hand, that’s how big I am. I am enclosed in a pot like universe composed of material nature, the total material energy, false ego, ether, air, water and earth. And what is your glory? Unlimited universes pass through the pores of Your body just as particles of dust pass through the opening of a screened window.
“I, Lord Brahma, am inside one of those orbs, which are passing through the pores of your skin, like particles of dust through a screened window.” Here is an image you have probably all seen: light coming through a window, with little particles of dust dancing in the light of the sun’s rays. Brahma is likening himself to one of those little particles of dust, as the creator inside our pot-like universe. However, those pot-like universes emanate from the pores of Lord Vishnu’s transcendental body. Here you are, standing before me like a little four year old boy. You are inconceivable!
Now the last verse of the section:-
Translation (SB 10.14.12)—O Lord Adhoksaja, does a mother take offence when the child within her womb kicks with his legs? And is there anything in existence – whether designated by various philosophers as real or as unreal – that is actually outside your abdomen.
Please consider me like that. I am like a little child within Your abdomen, just as everything else in existence is within You. I did some kicking. Kindly forgive me. So that’s the end of this section.
Here is the last image. There is Lord Brahma falling and offering his obeisances, and there is Lord Brahma watching the whole scene from the sky. Now he is standing up and offering his prayers. Three events within one picture! His carrier like a rooster, not a swan. [Laughter]
Brahma’s prayers are filled with humility. For a vaishnava, humility is very natural. Sometimes our humility gets a little extra nudge, by the arrangements of circumstance. Starting from Chapter 12, Krishna orchestrated this whole pastime. He first delivers Aghasura; he reciprocates with the cowherd women and the cows; He strengthens Brahma’s humility; showing special mercy to Brahma, He gives Brahma various features of His darshan because Brahma is very dear to Krishna — very dear to Krishna. He gives him some special, special mercy, even in the course of letting Brahma see His unlimitedness, at least one aspect of His unlimitedness, thus strengthening his humility.
There are other examples where Krishna does this with Brahma, like calling Lord Brahma to Dwarka. A messenger came to Brahma saying “Krishna wants to see you.” So he went to Dwarka. He had to wait because Krishna was busy. When Brahma arrived, he informed Krishna’s doorkeeper that he had come to see Krishna. The doorkeeper asked “Could you tell me who you are? I can then let Krishna know that you have arrived”. Brahma replied “Please tell Him Lord Brahma has come to see Him. He called for me.” The messenger came back, saying “Krishna wants to know which Lord Brahma?” “What do you mean which Lord Brahma? Is there more one than one Lord Brahma? Please tell Him Lord Brahma, the father of the four Kumaras, the creator of the universe, has come to see Him.” “Ok I’ll tell Him.” Krishna invited Brahma to come before Him in the Royal Assembly Hall. Simultaneously all the Lord Brahmas from all the other universes were coming and offering their obeisances with their 100, 1000, 10,000, 100,000 heads paying obeisances. A tumultuous clattering sound was created when their helmets were touching the ground. Brahma became very humble.
Krishna wants to keep us humble. Some events happens in your life that help you become more humble. That’s good! That’s good! You’ll chant your japa better if you are genuinely humble. If you are a complainer type you won’t become humble. When you look at the troubling situation you simply make some objectionable sound vibrations. If you want to become inspired in devotion, it will be enhanced by humility.
In the next set of prayers, we are going to hear something further about Krishna’s greatness realized through the humility and devotion of Lord Brahma.
Any comments or questions—
Question: Maharaja, just thinking about the jnane prayasam udapasya phrase, I heard you speak many times about the Mother Yashoda in the Damodar Lila pastime where she is making a discrimination as to what she should be doing in devotional service. She uses her rationale faculty. Seeking clarification: it seems like this verse is specifically talking about not speculating in the pursuance of the absolute truth. Is it correct, according to this verse, that in pursuance of practical devotional service one should use one’s rational faculty? [
Romapada Swami: Yes, you understood it correctly. Mother Yashoda was discriminating. Is there a difference between discriminating between how to carry out your service and trying to discern the absolute truth by the power of discrimination? The answer is Yes. Let’s take the practical example of cooking. You don’t just close your eyes and put anything in the pot and stir. You discriminate this and that. We constantly use our faculty of discrimination in service to Krishna. We use it, subordinate to the principal of devotion. We don’t replace the principal of devotion with the tendency to discern the absolute truth by our speculative powers. We don’t do that. But we deploy our God-given rational faculty in service to Krishna.
Question: I was wondering if you could define humility because we are hearing the word humility and I’m sure all of us according to our different subjective achievements in KC are manifesting different conceptions of humility, a different image etc. If the word isn’t defined there could be lack of clarity about how to apply this lesson from SB in our lives.
Romapada Swami: Let me start with what humility is not. Humility is not fear’s companion. A Christian notion of humility is “Turn the other cheek” when someone strikes you. That is one kind of humility but it’s not what’s being spoken of here. What is spoken of here in very simple terms is “Humility is the spiritual conception of oneself.” As Prabhupada has said “God is very great and I am very small. How great is God and how small I am, that they do not know.” Understanding the tininess of our position in contrast with the greatness of Krishna, the unlimited-ness of Krishna, helps one come to unshakable humility. When one has a spiritual conception of oneself, the inspiration to be in service to Krishna is strengthened. A spiritual conception of humility expands and increases the enthusiasm to be in service to Krishna in a humble mood. True humility is recognition of our relationship with Krishna – as Brahma said, like a little spark compared to the big fire. Tiny, Tiny, Tiny! Our quality is like the Supreme great, although we are very very tiny. In relationship with the whole, I should serve Him. The function of the part with the whole is to serve the whole. It follows naturally. Humility inspires devotional service. With the wrong kind of humility, one can feel discouraged, “Oh! I am so small, I can’t do anything.” That’s not the spiritual conception of the humility. That is mode of ignorance conception of humility, not a spiritual conception. A spiritual conception is we are light, small parts of the Supreme light; we are tiny persons in relation to the Supreme person. This is the spiritual conception of humility.
Returning back to your question, the conception of humility one holds is going to be variously manifest according to our personality and our nature. I may feel humility differently than you feel humility, different than Arjuna feels that humility, different than Madhumangala feels humility, different than anyone else who is in the spiritual conception feels that humility – it will be variously manifest. But the spiritual conception is the core or basis or foundation – I want to serve Krishna.
Entrance into the mood of service felt by the residents of Vrindavan is without the conception of the majesty of Krishna, “He is great and we are tiny.” Vraja’s spiritual conception of humility, where one oversteps the position of Krishna as the majestic Supreme and interacts with Him in intimate ways inspired by a spontaneous mood of service, takes on a totally different complexion. As his friend Sridama says to Krishna “What kind of big man are You? You always lose in wrestling with me, so You have to carry me on your shoulders. You are not such a big fellow!” That mood arises out of spontaneous love. Krishna loves that love, and become purchased by that love. It is a deep mystery. With all the other rasas in Vraja, the spiritual foundation of humility is also there. The love of the Vrajavasis gives special pleasure to Krishna. In turn, they receive special happiness in their loving relationship with Krishna. For us, we start with marveling at the majesty of Krishna, like in our deity worship, or the chanting of the holy name and other forms of devotional service to enter into that deeper contemplation and mood.
Question: When you were going through Lord Brahma’s prayers, we heard SB 10.14.08 where Lord Brahma is saying “My dear Lord one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words and body is surely eligible for liberation for it has become his rightful claim.”
As a neophyte, when trying to constantly bring back the consciousness to that position, especially when a certain test or trial is going on for a long time, how to not give in to the lower modes of nature, departing from that position and feel frustrated, or thinking “Krishna, how long must I suffer?”
Romapada Swami: Well, there is no substitute for purity. Krishna is just waiting for us to come to the position of hankering for that purity. We must pay the price for purity. Unfortunately, we are attached to something that’s not necessarily pure. We have our expectation of how things should be, determined by our sense of what is going to bring us happiness. However, our circumstances may not change for some time. Krishna wants to see us come the position of purity. Fortunately He is very kind; He will give us the required strength to remain in the shelter of His compassionate nature. Doing so is our recourse, which brings the purity we require.
Now here is the good news: we have heard that Krishna never gives a test which we cannot succeed. Real success is isn’t taking shelter of the false ego. “Yeah! I did it!” Real success is taking shelter of Krishna. Our conditioned nature dictates “I’m going to do it, I will overcome this obstacle, just watch me. I am determined.” This is “kartaham” consciousness, which is not what Krishna wants. Krishna wants us to let go of that doer-ship consciousness and take shelter of Him. We must make intelligent endeavors in our life, but endeavor with full dependence upon Krishna’s kindness is exactly the teaching given by Srila Prabhupada in Nectar of Devotion, which we read earlier.
Bhakti is a way of life. SB 10.14.8 describes the glories of bhakti. Shortly after describing the glories of bhakti in contrast with the jnana process in verse 3, here Brahma is addressing another glory of bhakti: how to face circumstances when tribulations come, when our past deeds bring ill fortune. This principle does not only apply to past misdeeds, it could apply when good fortune comes. The essence is your relationship with Krishna in either extreme or any circumstance of life. This is meant to eventually bring us to the Vrindavan mood, to help us come to that mood. The Bhagvatam wants to take us there, Lord Chaitanya wants to take us there. We have our tribulations that may endure too long or become even more severe. We may throw hands up in the air feeling “I am being crushed!” Taken in a KC manner, life’s circumstances are to help nourish our relationship with Krishna.
To maintain this mood certainly requires faith! That was our discussion in Gita Nagari “The Role of Faith in Bhakti.” Keep close association with those who have faith, this is what to do. In that association, strengthen both the quantity and quality of hearing and chanting. Devote yourself, take shelter of Krishna in the ways He make Himself accessible. In these ways one finds strength to face enduring tribulations. In fact, our tribulations diminish in their significance when the real significant thing becomes our eternal relationship with Krishna, our eternal life with Krishna.
For example, death is a major tribulation — major, major. Recently Kurmarupa Prabhu left his body in Vrindavan, a very dear godbrother, well known by many many devotees all over the world. I am sure the pain that he was experiencing for some period of time was awful, along with the tribulations of the whole process of departure from all that we are attached to in this temporary world. But Kurmarupa just wanted to be with Krishna’s cows in Vrindavan. “Let me out of this hospice care center, let me have my body decorated with the dust of the cows from Vrindavan.” He had shelter in service to Krishna. That mood of service gave him the strength to overcome, or surpass, the tribulation. His tribulation didn’t go away, but his consciousness went to a higher place – the final test.
Question: My question is about what you had read from Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakur. I think you read that karma doesn’t have an effect on the devotees, so what happens in a devotee’s life is Krishna’s arrangement. You just read it like near the end of class. In my case, I don’t consider myself a devotee so how can I take shelter?
Romapada Swami: You don’t consider yourself to be devotee? Well we hereby anoint you. You are now a devotee! [Laughter] Now what?
Question: So, I was wondering how I can take shelter of this what you have just quoted.
Romapada Swami: You are practicing as an aspiring bhakta, engaged in the sadhana process. As far as Rupa Goswami is concerned you are engaged in Uttama Bhakti. You have not attained the stage of perfection, Uttama bhakta, but you are engaged in Uttama bhakti because you are cultivating that perfection. The same message is taught in these prayers of Brahma. “jiveta” – continue like that and the perfectional stage will come. However long it takes, continue cultivating like that so you remain engaged in the bhakti process. You are a bhakta, one who is Krishna’s devotee. What that means is Krishna’s kindness is within your life. Flip it around and say — supposing you didn’t have that mood of bhakti, supposing you didn’t have the activities of devotional practice. What would your life look like? Don’t think about that for too long.
In our lives as devotees, we may be given token reminders of our past activity. We may get a bump in our arm instead of a broken arm. Token reminders of our past activity, what to speak of what it would look like if it was the full dose of our past activity’s reactions! Who could say what that would be like! My goodness!! Right?
Krishna is engaging Brahma in such a way to strengthen his humility and devotion. Krishna will engage you in such a way to strengthen your position of shelter-taking, so various circumstances are sent our way. See those circumstances as a direct reciprocation from Krishna, token reminders from Krishna to help you become humble and take full shelter of Him. Isn’t that nice?
You’re smiling! Look at that! [Chuckling] Krishna is very kind!
Srila Prabhupada ki jay!!