How many here have not attended any of the prior sessions of this Nectar of Instruction? (inaudible) So you are very new to Krishna consciousness. Alright, let us first establish a little background understanding. Do you know who Lord Caitanya is? How long ago did Lord Caitanya appear? Yes, 500 years ago. Around the time that Christopher Columbus was on a boat trying to see if the world was flat or round. Around the same time, Lord Caitanya appeared in India. And you know who Krishna is, right? Krishna appeared 5,000 years ago in Vrindavana along with His brother, Balarama. They were the foster-sons of Nanda and Yasoda. The mother of Balarama was Rohini. Rohini was one of the wives of Vasudeva. Just as Devaki was the wife of Vasudeva, Rohini was one the co-wives of Vasudeva. Vasudeva is the father of both Krishna and Balarama. Krishna was born as the son of Devaki, and Balarama was born as the son of Rohini. They are co-wives of a great personality, Vasudeva.
Krishna appeared 5,000 years ago. The purpose of His appearance is expressed in Bhagavad Gita; He descended on earth to accomplish three things. These three things are expressed in a famous verse from Bhagavad-Gita, Chapter 4 (BG 4.8). paritranaya sadhunam. Krishna gave protection to the devotees. vinasaya ca duskrtam. He diminished the influence of the wicked people on the planet. And he reestablishes principles of religion, dharma. dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge. From time to time, from age to age, in different ages of mankind, Krishna appears and does these three things. After Krishna left this world 5,000 years ago, He came again to teach how to best follow the final instruction given in Bhagavad-Gita. Here is the last instruction Krishna gives in Bhagavad-Gita (18.66):
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah
Krishna’s last instruction in Bhagavad-Gita is: All varieties of dharma are subordinate to this one principle: surrender to Me. One who surrenders to Krishna, He says in that verse, He personally relieves them of all sinful reactions. And in case you have some doubt, don’t doubt. Have no fear. ma sucah .
Krishna gave this as His final instruction in Bhagavad-Gita. Krishna appeared in what’s known as Dvapara yuga. In the next yuga, or age of mankind, Krishna appeared as Lord Caitanya. He is Krishna Himself, teaching how to surrender unto Krishna in the most effective means by the performance of the yuga-dharma. He’s called the yuga-avatara. Avatara…there was a movie by this name, right? Avatara is a Sanskrit word, not just a movie title. It means “one who descends.” That is the meaning: “one who descends from the spiritual to the material realm for a purpose.” The purpose of Lord Caitanya was to deliver the yuga-dharma. So, He is the yuga-avatara. The yuga-dharma for this age is the chanting of the Holy Name, just as we were doing, chanting the Holy Name of Krishna and Rama. That’s the yuga-dharma. It’s the primary means for achieving spiritual perfection. And along with the chanting of the Holy Name, Lord Caitanya gave teachings on how to perform bhakti in such a way that you can most effectively surrender to the Holy Name and achieve perfection in this one short lifetime. One can achieve spiritual perfection by following these teachings along with chanting.
Teachings are very important, teachings are not just theory. Teachings give the blueprint how you live your life so that you can most effectively reach the ultimate goal of life. A comparison can be made to the movement of a train on a train track. Some modern trains are monorails, but commonly trains have two tracks. If you only have one track of the train and the other one is not in place, the train isn’t going to go very far. Correct? Similarly, for spiritual advancement, you need two things. You need that which is going to purify the heart—that is chanting Hare Krishna mantra, or names of God. The second thing you need is that which will give direction to your life so that as your heart becomes purified, you know how to live your life—how to eat, how to work, how to walk, how to have social activity, how to have family, how to do everything—in such a way your lifestyle is most conducive to spiritual progress. Living in the mode of goodness is most conducive. Living by theistic conduct, side by side with that which purifies the heart. Teaching provide much-needed understanding how to lead our life, while our heart is becoming purified. Both are needed, just like both tracks of a train are needed.
This text we are studying provides us with very condensed instructions on how to live our lives in such a way that we can reach Krishna. Full realization of Krishna in this one short lifetime! Rupa Gosvami wrote the book and we are going to follow the commentary of great acaryas who have spoken about this wonderful little book.
We already covered the first two verses. In previous classes, I covered Verses 1 and 2. For those of you who were unable to attend these classes, I will quickly summarize 1 and 2. The first verse of the Nectar of Instruction is describing the intermediate stage of devotion. There are beginning, intermediate, and advanced stages of devotion. The intermediate stage is the topic of verse 1 because through this verse we are being trained, now that devotional service has begun. We are very fortunate. We are being trained right away to come to the intermediate stage. In the beginning stage, in all religions of the world, one thinks of God when going to the place of worship – whether it be a church, synagogue, mosque, or temple—whatever the name one may call the place of worship, God is there. Everybody—whatever our background is, either going to the church or going to the temple—you are very reverential when entering the sanctuary of God because it is a sacred place, God is there. You say prayers and you worship God because He is there in the temple. Once you go outside the church or the temple, then it’s back to normal. “Let’s go have lunch.” My father used to love to play golf. You don’t play golf inside the church; you go play golf on the golf course. When you go to the church, you worship God. And then, you go to the golf course and you play golf. God is in the place of worship. But in the intermediate stage, one is trained to see God beyond the place of worship, to appreciate making friends with His devotees, to be kind and compassionate to innocent people who don’t know about God so much, and then carefully don’t get really close to people who are hardcore atheistic individuals. These are the standards of the middle stage. The intermediate stage of devotion is known by these standards. We go out of our way to extend the Holy Name, and literature, and prasadam, and festivals, and experience of God consciousness, experience of Krishna, to one and all.
I heard you had a very wonderful Ratha-yatra festival. I missed being with you for the event, but I heard from those who attended it was quite successful and really fun! Rtadhvaja Maharaj, by surprise, came to the festival! He had been there three years ago. He shared his experience with me when we were taking prasadam together recently. He expressed that this is a much better location. During Srila Prabhupada’s time the venue for the parade was downtown Chicago. I think it was State Street downtown Chicago. I don’t know the reason, but the City moved the parade route from downtown Chicago to Devon Street. I guess because it was near the temple. After some time we decided “While it’s nice being on Devon Street, where are we to hold the festival at the end of the Devon Street parade?” So we decided “Let’s just have the parade in our neighborhood and we’ll have the festival afterwards down by the lake.” In just a few years the event became so attractive, we outgrew the venue for the festival. The parade lasted for about an hour and a half. It was a very nice parade. At the end, there was a nice little festival. During the festival, once they performed Jagannatha-priya Natakam, Long long ago, in Satya-yuga, King Indradyumna wanted to see God in His deity form—Neela-madhava. It is a long history narrated in Skanda Purana, which includes the establishing of Jagannatha and the Jagannatha temple in Jagannatha Puri. Lord Jagannatha personally explained to King Indradyumna in detail how He wanted to be worshiped, which is the very same way that they perform the worship today, exactly according to those teachings. When Ramanujacarya went to Puri and tried to reform their practices of deity worship, because their standards do not conform to other scriptural directions regarding deity worship. Jagannatha didn’t want it to be changed. This was a very attractive drama performed on the stage. The festival was really well-attended!
One of the things I liked the most about this location was that there were a lot of people attending who didn’t know anything about Krishna consciousness, new people. Because of this, there were two booths set up at opposite ends of the festival where people were engaged in chanting japa who had never chanted before. Would like to guess how many people chanted japa that had never chanted japa before? One complete round of japa, each new person? 410 or 420 people! Very nice! Plus all the kirtana. Fantastic prasadam. Nice stage activity.
That’s what madhyamas do. As we were describing, this is the intermediate stage. We try to create situations that give people an opportunity to experience something about devotion to Krishna. And it’s really fun! There’s a lot of work, but it’s really fun. And Krishna is pleased. And Lord Jagannatha gives us His mercy. Madhyamas do things like that. An uttama is one who sees Krishna in everything and everything in Krishna. We can only imagine what that’s like because we’re not there. We’re down here.
The first verse of Nectar of Instruction is specifically describing the upper stage of the madhyama-bhakta. The symptom is our lower tendencies and our animal propensities are checked. As long as we have a body, there are urges within the body. The first verse is describing somebody who is highly qualified in this specific way. There are six urges: vacho vegam manasha krodhavegam Jihvavegam udaropastha vegam. These six urges are no longer affecting the madhyama-bhakta who is situated in the mature level of this intermediate stage of bhakti. That is where Nectar of Instruction starts. That’s the first verse.
And the second verse discusses the six things that destroy bhakti. Today’s verse presents six things that enrich bhakti or enhance bhakti. This is what we are going to discuss today. These six things will help you, or any of us, to go further in spiritual progress.
Upadesamrta is the book’s title in Sanskrit; Nectar of Instruction is how Prabhupada translated it. amrta means nectar, and Upades means instruction.
Here is Text three.
utsahan niscayaddhairyat tattatkarmapravartanat
sangatyagat stato vrtteh sadbhirbhaktih prasidhyati
We’ll spend most of our time on the first item of the six. Utsahan means enthusiasm. Niscayad means confidence. Dhairyat means patience. Let us begin discussing those three.
Here is the translation: “There are six principles favorable to the execution of pure devotional service [that was described in the first verse]: (1) being enthusiastic, (2) endeavoring with confidence, (3) being patient, (4) acting according to regulative principles (such as Sravanam kirtanam visnoh smaranam [SB 7.5.23, this is Prahalad Maharaj from the Bhagavatam, practices of bhakti] (5) abandoning the association of non-devotees, and (6) following in the footsteps of the previous acaryas. These six principles undoubtedly assure the complete success.”
Bhaktih prasidhyati. Prasidhyati means “one becomes perfect”, prasidhyati. One proceeds advances the stage of perfection by observing these six things.
The first three identify attitudes and the final three identify actions. The attitudes are enthusiasm, patience, conviction. And then, the three actions—tattat karma pravartanat (following the regulations found in the scriptures), sangatyagat tyagat (keeping away from unwholesome association),stato vrtteh.
In the purport of this verse, Srila Prabhupada explains devotional service itself. What it is, and what it is not. Why does he start with that? Because if we don’t know what bhakti is, how do we know how we apply these principles to bhakti? Thus the object, bhakti, is described. Srila Prabhupada first describes first what bhakti isn’t. Bhakti is not just a sentiment. Bhakti is far more than merely something you feel. Bhakti is not imagination either. Bhakti is practical activity. In the language of Rupa Gosvami, who is the author of this book and who is an outstanding follower of Lord Caitanya, a word is used which Srila Prabhupada has translated as ‘a sort of cultivation’, anusilana, for those that of you who know Nectar of Devotion. Anu means to follow and silana means behavior or conduct: anusilana means cultivation, following the example of great souls. That is the cultivation of bhakti.
On this slide there is a chart showing the nine stages of bhakti. I may be way down here, at the very beginning. That’s okay. And perfection is way up here, that’s okay. Those souls who follow the path of perfection, with a humble and submissive mood “Let me cultivate. Anusilana. Practice.” Gradually practice makes perfect, right? If you are following the great souls, and the right instructions, and are shown a good example, and stay away from unwholesome association then, you can achieve perfection.
Rupa Gosvami gives us this definition of what devotional service is. It’s pure. See this word? Anusilana. [BRS 1.1.11]
silanam bhaktir uttama
Bhakti is pure. Bhakti is uttama. Bhakti is uttama bhakti. The teaching that we are getting in Nectar of Instruction is how to come to the uttama stage. In the chart you see on the screen, uttama is this one, the advanced, the topmost stage. Uttama means topmost. Bhakti is pure. Bhakti is topmost, consisting of a cultivation of the activities of perfected souls, and accepting those things as our way of life, gradually incorporating those things within our day-to-day life.
Here’s his translation: “Uttama bhakti, or unalloyed devotion unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna, involves the rendering of devotional service in a way that is favorable to the Lord. This devotional service should be free from any extraneous motive and devoid of fruitive karma, impersonal jnana and all other selfish desires.”
Please note, we are still just defining what devotional service is, so we can properly understand how to apply those qualities or actions which enhance it.
According to Rupa Gosvami, there are twenty-six qualities of a devotee, or one who is practicing devotion. There are marginal characteristics as well as principle characteristics. Principle characteristics are intrinsic to bhakti; they are always present wherever bhakti is present. Here are examples: favorably serving Krishna has to be always present. It’s a primary characteristic. Bhakti means to cultivate that specific quality. Although I may be way down here, nonetheless if I am still trying to favorably serve Krishna, although I may not be perfect, but I am sincerely trying, that sincere striving is a primary characteristic of devotional service. Krishna is the object of my devotion who I am trying to render service to, or offer my love to. Following this and other primary characteristics, these marginal characteristics follow—having no other desire, free from fruitive activity, and so on.
This is a nice painting, isn’t it? This is Sandipani Muni. Here are Krishna and Balarama. You recognize them? They have shaven heads, because when they went from Vrindavana… When Krishna was twelve, He was taken by Akrura from Vrindavana to Mathura, where He had a little encounter with Kamsa’s wrestlers. You know that story? Yes? Some of you do not know the story. Kamsa was a wicked king. He was such a wicked king, he threw his father into prison. He threw his sister Devaki into prison. He ruled by terror. He was like a terrorist, only he was king! He tried like anything to kill Krishna, but it didn’t work. Everyone he sent to kill Krishna, it worked the other way round, although Krishna was just a little boy. Finally, he developed this plan. “I’ll bring Krishna here to the capital city and my elephant will kill Him, or my wrestlers will kill Him. We’ll get our armies to kill Him. We’ll somehow kill Him.” Only it turned out the other way. Krishna killed Kamsa. By then, at twelve years old, Krishna hadn’t even gone to school yet! So, when He was reunited with His mother and father, they said, “Hey, you have to go to school!” So, they enrolled Him in school with the best teacher, Sandipani Muni, as we see right there in this painting. In accordance to the tradition, they entered the school of the guru and they had their little heads shaved. They learned everything from Sandipani muni very quickly. Because actually, Krishna already knows everything. He finished His entire education in 64 days!
Here is a passage from the purport of Text 3. “One should be particularly careful to understand the truth about Krishna. If, because of laziness, one does not come to know Krishna conclusively, one will be misguided about the cult of devotion. Although the use of thoughts and arguments is the most suitable process for inducing an uninitiated person to become a devotee, neophytes in devotional service must [notice the bold print!] always alertly understand Krishna through the vision of the revealed scriptures, the bona fide devotees, and the spiritual master. Unless one hears about Sri Krishna from such authorities, one cannot make advancement in devotion to Krishna.”
We are still defining what is devotion, or devotional service. Bhakti is resting upon the authority of scripture, just like Sandipani Muni teaching Krishna, or us, learning from the scriptures. We need the scripture and we need the teachers of the scriptures to teach us. That will help us advance on the path of devotion to Krishna.
“The revealed scriptures mention nine means of attaining devotional service, of which the first and foremost is hearing from the authorities. The seed of devotion cannot sprout unless watered by the process of hearing and chanting.” We are encouraged to do a lot of that, a lot of watering. Referring to the Chicago Ratha-yatra again, they had a meeting after the Ratha-yatra, a debriefing. They decided, one of the best parts along with the individuals chanting japa, was the kirtana. So next year, their thought is to have a nama-yajna right in the center of the festival area. In rotation, different kirtana singers will be engaged. Lots of kirtana, all day long! The stage over here, the book booths over there, the prasadam booths in a different area. But in the center will be the Holy Name. Hearing is the beginning of bhakti. Hearing and chanting.
Here’s a nice statement from Caitanya-caritamrta by the author Krishnadasa Kaviraja. “A sincere student should not neglect the discussion of such conclusions, considering them controversial, for such discussions strengthen the mind. Thus one’s mind becomes attached to Sri Krsna.” [Cc Adi 2.117]
Rupa Gosvami had an elder brother whose name was Sanatana Gosvami. Their ancestry was from South India. And over a number of generations—five or six generations—they had migrated to north India. They were born in a Saraswat-Brahman family. The ruler of the time in their area was a Turk; he wasn’t a nice guy. He gave Rupa and Sanatana a choice. “You are very popular with your brahminical and your devotee group of people. I offer you the following choice. You can assist me in my government, and help me rule the kingdom, or I’ll torture everybody that’s in your brahminical community. Think about it. Let me know what you want to do.” They didn’t want to do either one. They didn’t want to work for that horrible person, but they didn’t want him to torture everybody either. So, they became Ministers in his government. At that time, they became Prime Minister, Finance Minister, and their third brother was the Home Minister for about a third of what is India today. They were situated in the highest levels of aristocracy, but they had no interest in it at all. Their real interest was in devotion. When they came to know of Lord Caitanya, who was their contemporary, they gradually left their government posts. They abandoned their position of top Ministers to live in Vrindavana wearing just one loin cloth, living under different trees every night. Living by madhukari, just accepting whatever was offered in charity as their food. Such a simple life! While their thinking was very high, their life was very simple. Sanatana Gosvami later met with Lord Caitanya in Prayag, at Dashashwamedha ghat in Prayag, where Lord Caitanya instructed him. Here is one of His instructions: “A person who is expert in understanding the conclusion of the revealed scriptures, and who fully surrenders to the cause of the Lord, is actually able to deliver others from the clutches of material existence.” Note the emphasis placed upon surrender as well as understanding the teachings how to get to the topmost position.
Quoting from the purport of Cc Adi 2.118, Rupa Gosvami teaches in this very verse number 3 that “To make rapid advancement in devotional service, one should be very active and should persevere in executing the duties specified in the revealed scriptures and confirmed by the spiritual master.” The purport of Cc Adi 2.118 goes on: “Imitation devotees who wish to advertise themselves as elevated Vaisnavas and who therefore imitate the previous acaryas but do not follow them in principle are condemned in the words of Srimad Bhagavatam, as stone-hearted. The desired change of heart referred to above is visible in the reluctance to do anything that is not congenial to the devotional way.” To emphasize this point, the opposite can be mentioned. Here is a paraphrased rendering of another teaching of Rupa Gosvami. “Guided by scriptures, one can practice devotion very nicely. Without guidance of scripture, one simply is creating a disturbance in society.” Once again, note the emphasis placed upon surrender as well as understanding the teachings how to get to the topmost position.
Srila Prabhupada concludes his presentation in this same Cc purport by emphasizing the importance of accepting these six items which are favorable to bhakti, combined with hearing about Krishna. “To create such a change of heart, conclusive discussion about Sri Krishna and His potencies is absolutely necessary.”
After concluding this introduction to devotional service, the six favorable factors shall now be discussed. The first three are attitudes which help advance devotional service. Enthusiasm must be based upon scriptural teaching. Very important!
Here are some brief statements from the purport of Verse 3. “Without enthusiasm, one cannot be successful.” Prabhupada explains you cannot even be successful in material things without enthusiasm. This applies as well in spiritual things. Enthusiasm requires performance of practical activity. Nice quote!
I like this quote very much: “Endeavor executed with intelligence in Krishna consciousness is called enthusiasm.” I will say again because it is a good definition to remember. What is enthusiasm? “Endeavor executed with intelligence in Krishna consciousness.” Properly guided activity, in other words. Endeavoring with proper intelligence. “The devotee finds the correct means by which everything can be utilized in the service of the Lord. nirbandhah krsna sambandhe yuktam vairagyam ucyate.”
These are teachings of Rupa Gosvami in Nectar of Devotion about enthusiasm.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it, nothing great was ever achieved.” Same point. There are a number of other authorities that are saying essentially the same thing that the scriptures say. Since we are hearing the importance of enthusiasm, what is the definition? We already have one definition: endeavor with proper intelligence.
Here’s the breakdown of the etymology of the word: ‘En’ and ‘Theos’. En-thu-siasm. “In God” or “Divine Inspiration”, something that is within and you feel a calling or inspired from within. “To be rapt or in ecstasy, be eager” It means the mind is naturally highly focused when you are enthusiastic for something. When you’re not enthusiastic for something, the mind is scattered. But when you’re enthusiastic, you’re very attentive.
I was visiting one family somewhere in the United States. The family had moved from one place to another place to have their son enrolled in a school that was renowned or had a reputation for being a really good school. But their son didn’t like it because the kids in that school were really snobby. They were from wealthy families, so they displayed the traits of their parents even at a very young age: fashion, comparing what clothes you wear to theirs, etc. He didn’t like it at all. So, he went to another school that was different but also had a good reputation. So, I asked him, “How do you like it? This new school?” He said, “I like it much better.” “What do you like about it?” “There’s much more time for playing.” Very enthusiastic! [Laughter]
“In order to be enthusiastic about Krishna consciousness, one has to know its value. If one is given a jewel but doesn’t know its value, one will not be very enthusiastic about it. In the story of the Syamantaka jewel, what did Jambavan do with the jewel? He gave it to his child to play with! This BIG radiant jewel was not considered so important by Jambavan, consequently he simply saw it as a toy for his child. When Krishna received the jewel from Jambavan and gave it back to Satrajit, he advised him “Here, you keep it.” This jewel was so coveted by others that Satrajit was killed to get the jewel. For us, the jewel is devotion to Krishna. One may not be enthusiastic about it unless you understand what it is, its value. Therefore, it is a fact that the more one advances in Krishna consciousness knowledge, the more enthusiastic he becomes.
The following is taken directly from a lecture that Srila Prabhupada spoke about this verse. “On the path of Krishna consciousness, the first principle is enthusiasm. If you lack enthusiasm, then other things will not take place. You can keep your enthusiasm if you follow the rules and regulations, and chant the Hare Krishna mantra regularly. Otherwise, that enthusiasm will dry up.”
Srila Prabhupada wanted to establish Krishna consciousness under the order of his spiritual master in the English-speaking parts of the world. He did a lot of translating in Hawaii because the weather was very conducive to his translation work. There is a nice room in the Hawaii temple where this translation work was done. When you simply walk in the room, you feel, “Wow!” You can feel Prabhupada’s presence just walking in the room because he spent more time in that room translating than any other place on the planet! He liked the weather, and the building was in a very quiet neighborhood, very peaceful. His time spent in Los Angeles, on the other hand, served like his headquarters: training the pujaris, training the administrators, encouraging the sankirtana. He requested devotees to come to LA to get training, how to do things very nicely. One of the things that he did while staying in Los Angeles, is he took the sixth chapter of Bhagavad-Gita and had devotees read verse and purport; at intervals, he would interrupt, and then explain the meaning. It’s a very nice series titled “Topmost Yoga System”. It was recorded and circulated. One lesson from that series of recordings I remember very distinctly. The sixth chapter is Dhyana-yoga, meditation, fixing the mind. During one part of that series, Srila Prabhupada was describing the word, dhira. Dhira. Dhira means undisturbed, or sober, the mind doesn’t move. No matter what happens, the mind stays in one place, very fixed. After giving this definition, Prabhupada asked the question, “How does one become dhira?” Then he answered, “By voluntarily accepting austerities. By controlling the senses, voluntarily, one becomes dhira.” Just like a short while ago, we observed nirjala-ekadasi. Once a year we observe nirjala-ekadasi. After observing nirjala-ekadasi, many devotees think, “Wow! It was so nice! Maybe I should increase my ekadasi vow throughout the year!” Often this enthusiasm lasts for one or two or three ekadasis, and then enthusiasm wanes. Voluntary vaisnava austerities strengthens one’s determination! When determination is strong, the mind doesn’t waver. It doesn’t matter whether it’s hot or cold, wet or dry, honor dishonor, pleasure or pain…the mind remains fixed on Krishna. Similarly, by following rules and regulations and chanting Hare Krishna, your enthusiastic steadiness in bhakti can be facilitated.
In this slide we see a quote from another lecture where Srila Prabhupada is elaborating. “Enthusiasm and patience… by patience, not that, I am working so hard for Krishna, but I am not getting any impetus. No, don’t be impatient. Krishna will give you chance. He’s giving chance always, 24 hours, imperceptibly. But we cannot appreciate very much. Krishna sees. As far as we are able, according to our strength, He gives responsibility. But we must be… rest assured, when we have taken shelter of the lotus feet of Krishna fully, without any reservation, Krishna must be pleased. Maybe it will take some time. That is called niscayad. Certainty, assurance. utsahan dhairyat niscayad” In this lecture Srila Prabhupada was slowly going through the verse, word-by-word, breaking it down.
Here are some interesting quotes regarding enthusiasm from modern worldly scholars. Victor Hugo said, “Enthusiasm is the fever of reason.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Enthusiasm is the height of a man, the passing from the human to the divine,” which is very much like the root of the Latin meaning we heard earlier. “Enthusiasm is the best thing derived from history.”
Pasteur: “Enthusiasm is the contemplation of the inner God.” Pretty close.
Epre said “Enthusiasm is the invisible inward intensity of being.” Again, it is very much the root meaning of the word.
Some other statements are: “The ones who accomplish the most and are the happiest are the ones who embrace and develop enthusiasm.” And, “Enthusiasm is that feeling within that inspires and prompts one to act without thought of reward.” Very nice definition.
Here’s something that very closely matches what Bhaktivinoda Thakur says about enthusiasm. Really simple. Listen carefully. “One cannot sustain enthusiasm without a spiritual conception of life. So, enthusiasm that’s built on passion doesn’t sustain. Enthusiasm that’s based upon goodness sustains. Enthusiasm that’s based on the conception of the soul is unshakable.” Bhaktivinoda Thakur teaches, therefore, that one should definitely strive for a spiritual conception of life! As we heard earlier, the more we have a deep understanding of this valuable gift which we have been given, it’s very easy to be enthusiastic! It’s natural to be enthusiastic, actually. It’s one of the things that makes the experience of giving Krishna consciousness to others so wonderful! If you have this really really wonderful thing, you want to share with other people. It’s just natural. It’s just natural! One of the principle characteristics of a saintly person is that they look kindly towards others. We have been discussing this very point in the morning Bhagavatam class. Saintly individuals are kindly disposed towards others, compassionate towards others. What’s a selfish saintly person? These two traits don’t go together! A saintly person is compassionate. They are naturally inclined to think of others’ welfare.
The section that we’re reading in the morning Bhagavatam class is from the fourth Canto. The sages, the learned persons, saw the wicked king Vena taunting and doing horrific things to all the citizens, including the sages! They considered, “We’re responsible. We put him in this position. And the citizens are being tortured. We’re being harassed. He’s making everybody’s lives miserable. We are brahmanas. What are we supposed to do?” Because they have compassion for others, they had to do something. Similarly, a thoughtful person looks around the world, and what do they see? “Yikes! What a mess!” You have to do something. What can you do? You’re just one little person, one little jiva, or one small child. Wow, what a mess! What to do? There is guidance that comes, there’s light that comes, from spiritual teachings, and one who firmly takes shelter of those enthusiastically, you then have a path of light to follow. If you feel something and you enthusiastically wish to act for the benefit of others, without consideration of “What am I am going to get in return for this?”, then you can act with sustained enthusiasm. Spiritual enthusiasm is not fruitive. Passion is no longer the motivation, it is replaced by goodness. Doing good for others, and being very enthusiastic to do good for others—that’s enthusiasm in goodness. And with a spiritual conception, it’s endless. It’s eternal!
Here is a passage from Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s commentary on utsahan. He quotes from Bhagavad-Gita, Chapter 6 “This indeed is actual freedom from all miseries arising from material contact. One should engage oneself in the practice of yoga with determination and faith and not be deviated from the path.”
This is enthusiasm. One should not become negligent in any of our duties in life.
The nature of passion is that you do something for a little spurt because you are motivated to get something; but when you get that ‘something’, the motivation is taken away, and commonly you don’t do that same activity any more, unless you set for yourself an even higher goal to attain. Or, you got the thing you aspired for but it didn’t satisfy you according to your expectations, so you don’t do the same activity anymore. Determination is intermittent when one is ruled by passion. With transcendental enthusiasm, however, there’s no such negligence. The opposite of enthusiasm is to be negligent. Bhaktivinoda Thakur explains that there are three gradations of negligence. The lowest grade is doing nothing, inactivity. Apathy is shown when you do something but you really just don’t care. You are careless and sloppy. Then there is distraction, where you are doing but your attention isn’t fully absorbed. Enthusiasm is different: the mind is absorbed! Then the other ten senses become absorbed! Everything is absorbed. This is Bhaktivinoda Thakur’s teaching on the prime necessity of enthusiasm. The same principle applies in a life of devotion. There are regulations that help us overcome our lower nature and our conditioning, and those which help us get to where we want to be. We need enthusiasm to consistently apply these principles. Then we will make spiritual progress!
Bhaktivinoda Thakur continues: “We should not lose enthusiasm because we have no strength to destroy the reactions of karma. In the very beginning of devotional service, the sadhaka must have faith with full enthusiasm.” Sustained enthusiasm in devotional service is not some imagined sentiment, but full confidence that Krishna will carry you from where you are to where you want to go. That enthusiasm, with conviction guided by intelligence, endeavoring with intelligence — carries you to the goal.
Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakura explains in a very similar way that sustained enthusiasm in bhakti requires faith or confidence. “With faith, one should learn devotional service under the merciful direction of a sadhu and when he attains the stage of firm faith, he engages in nistha, fixed devotional service. Until he attains his fixed devotional service, his service remains unsteady bhakti.”
Scripture teaches us that everything belongs to Krishna. However, if we don’t see the Krishna connection, our enthusiasm for devotional service diminishes.
Here is a very simple example. There was a time that I was determined, “I’m not going to get a computer.” [Laughter] When devotees wrote letters, instead of personally typing answers to those letters, I recorded responses into a little micro-cassette recorder and gave the micro-cassette to a secretary for transcription. Because I didn’t want to own a computer. Some time passed functioning this way. Gradually I started to understand that there were lots of things I can do with a computer. I always get somebody else to make a powerpoint for me, for example. I found that I needed to personally refine the presentation to suit how I would like to express a particular message. Eventually I got a computer. [Laughter] And then cellphones came out. “I’m not going to get a cell phone!” [Laughter] At least for a devotee, once seeing the connection of things with Krishna and how that thing can be properly utilized in Krishna’s service, then there is reason for having some contact with that thing. If it’s not clear what the utility is of some new product in the marketplace in service to Krishna, a devotee is not interested. But if there’s some service to Krishna, then I’m interested.
I’ll share one more practical example. In 1993 I became an officer of our society called a Governing Body Commissioner. There are thirty-three of us throughout the whole world who oversee broad geographic areas. Part of the reason you don’t see me so much is because of my GBC responsibility—attending to the temples in the mid-west and also New York, New Jersey, and the Northeastern states. After serving ten years as the Chairman of the North American Executive Committee, I eventually became a global executive committee officer of the GBC. Gradually, I became the Chairman of the full GBC. Nobody ever taught me what you’re supposed to do as a Chairman of the GBC. I had not a clue! However, by observing others who served in this position before me I learned some abc’s. I thought, okay, chairman. What’s the chairman of the GBC supposed to do? You’re supposed to think about the world, not just like your zonal responsibility, but the world. Okay, what’s important in the world? Well, one of the places that’s important in the world is China. Alright, China! Let’s do a little research on China. At least the statistics that I’ve come across say that a quarter of the world’s population is in China! Tamal Krishna Maharaj was directly given the assignment by Srila Prabhupada to start the China mission. However, after some time he left his body. He had an assistant GBC, Giridhari Swami, whose health was such that he couldn’t function as a GBC. And then, there was a third Candidate-for-GBC from Australia, married to a Chinese girl, who was blacklisted from receiving a visa for entering China. There we find a quarter of the world’s population without somebody in a GBC position visiting them. So, I thought, “Gee, I should go visit China and tell them, ‘You devotees are important!'” So, that’s what I did. I visited them, and what I saw was an eye opener. Besides the people are nice, there are so many people! And I’m from New York! Just go outside anywhere in the cities of China, it’s like NYC at rush hour, with people heading towards the subway! All day long! [Laughter] There are so many people! I decided that I should spend some more time in China after concluding my term as Chairman. From those visits, I saw that they don’t have much access to contact young intelligent people in China because of various constraints. However, there are a lot of Chinese students coming to America. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the numbers are increasing and increasing and increasing. What are the number of Chinese students in your school? Some? Some. I’ve done some research on colleges and the average is about 10 percent, and it is rising. Large universities, 40,000-50,000 student population, 10 percent of them are Chinese. US demographics are rapidly changing. What to speak of places like California, UCLA for example? If you go to the UCLA campus, you’ll see a few Americans, a few non-resident Indian students, and the rest are Chinese and Japanese. All along the California coastline, USC and UC Irvine for example, it is very much the same. Our continent is changing. So, I thought I might spend a little less time in China and a little more time in colleges in the US meeting Chinese students because a lot of them want to go back to their country. Many want to return to China after their studies are completed to help their country in whatever their field is. If they have developed a foundation in Krishna consciousness while completing their studies in the USA, they could assist the China mission when they return home. If their career were to keep them in America, then they could assist in reaching out to the increasing Chinese student population in America.
A few devotees picked up on my interest in assisting the China mission in this way. And so, at the Chicago ratha-yatra, I was introduced to a Chinese woman who really likes Krishna bhakti. Her husband was out of the country. She was raised in Singapore. She is such a natural devotee! Since her husband knows many different cultural organizations made up of primarily Chinese people, they will try to arrange programs to introduce kirtana and the message of Bhagavad- gita to the members. Some of the brahmacaris are going to attend those programs with kirtana and prasadam, and watch the magic happen. It will happen, because the Chinese people are wonderful people! I’m sure some of those people will help us with the college students that are Chinese-speaking. And it’s really fun! This is just one little pocket amongst unlimited possibilities. What is the message here? See the world in which we live as Krishna’s. There are other people who think differently; they think that it’s not Krishna’s, they think it’s someone else’s. But the whole world actually is Krishna’s, and if we have that conviction, we can be very calm and at the same time very enthusiastic exploring the ways how Krishna’s Will can enter into the lives of people who think otherwise!
This vision and its related service is so sublime! Krishna consciousness is very nice!
I think this is going to be our last slide. This word “anartha” is the opposite of artha. “anartha” means non-artha. The four goals of the Vedas are known as dharma, artha, kama, and moksha. People engage in religiosity in order to get economic prosperity, which can then be utilized for enjoying material life in this life and in the next life in heaven. Dharma, artha, kama, and then some day moksha. These are the four purposes of the Vedas. The word ‘artha’ literally means something that’s wanted, that which is desired or desirable. Most people want money. So, artha is commonly translated as “economic development”. You get money so you can have sense gratification. At the front end, if you do religious things, that’s fine! Dharma enhances one’s piety, which increases ones eligibility for artha, which in turn facilitates kama. Commonly, this is the view all over the world, not any particular part of the world or one particular form of religion. Common. Those who engage in pious religious activity prosper both in this life and in the next life. The opposite of artha is anartha: that which is undesirable. There are things in the heart which are anarthas, or impurities of heart. Anartha. All unwanted things of the heart are vanquished by performing devotional service with enthusiasm.
To sustain devotional service, there must be a spiritual conception. Enthusiasm is an irreplaceable support for all types of devotional service. By enthusiastically performing devotional service, one can give up anisthita—or all unsteady service –in a very short time, and thus attain steadiness in bhakti. Enthusiasm is the life of faith. Faith without enthusiasm is meaningless. So, we’re going to end there.
Yay! We covered one of six! [Laughter] Any discussion?
Devotee: Maharaj, you said that enthusiasm on the basis of spiritual conception can be sustained if it is built on mode of goodness.
Romapada Swami Maharaj: No, I didn’t exactly say that. Let’s go over that again. There’s enthusiasm in passion which says ‘I want something. So, I am enthusiastic to get that something. If I don’t get that something, my enthusiasm disappears. I feel frustrated. And if I get that something and it doesn’t satisfy the way I thought that it would satisfy, then, enthusiasm wanes.’ In contrast, when enthusiasm is in goodness, you can continue to be enthusiastic because the motivation in goodness is, “This will purify me.” The person in goodness is always wishing to become more purified, more purified, more purified. You can sustain enthusiasm inspired by the mode of goodness because the mode of goodness maintains. Then, supported by that same mode of goodness, is service carried out with a full spiritual conception, which is eternal! Enthusiasm is ever-increasing when one engages in devotional service with a spiritual conception because, facilitated by this spiritual conception, I am getting closer or more intimately connected with Krishna. That experience of being intimately connected with Krishna is so enlivening to the soul, there’s nothing that can stop it! The gopis, for example, cannot check their enthusiasm for service to Krishna!
Devotee: My question is, how to sustain that enthusiasm? Because I feel…
Romapada Swami Maharaj: How to sustain enthusiasm? Mode of goodness, supporting a spiritual conception.
Devotee: I feel like the parameters of my energy or my enthusiasm, and my capabilities are limited…
Romapada Swami Maharaj: Sure, we are all quite limited.
Devotee: So, with that limited thing, I don’t know how to sustain it.
Romapada Swami Maharaj: Oh yes you do. KRISHNA! It’s nice to realize that you are limited. We had this same discussion just yesterday, didn’t we? Yes. Just last night about realizing the quality of chanting. “I try and try, it’s not becoming quality chanting.” So, turn to KRISHNA! Our own effort is certainly necessary, but not sufficient. Remember that discussion? Same response in this case. I’m dependent. At last, I now realize I am not independent! I am dependent. It’s nice! Now, what do you do when you realize you’re not independent? You act in a mood of dependence. Let go of the misconception of independence and take shelter of dependence of the Supreme Independent. He’s very loving. That’s how the tiny jiva sustains enthusiasm. That’s the next step.
Devotee: Even to act in that way, you need enthusiasm.
Romapada Swami Maharaj: Good association will generate the enthusiasm you require. One can feel oneself dependent and be enthusiastic at the same time. It’s not, “Oh, I am dependent. I lost my enthusiasm.” [Laughter] We are speaking of another kind of enthusiasm altogether. It’s a different kind than the passionate kind. It’s a loving kind, not an independent kind. It’s nice! Yes, you need enthusiasm for that. And it’s a natural enthusiasm. It’s a sustainable enthusiasm. You never get tired, “Oh, I don’t have enthusiasm. I’m bored. I am getting close to Krishna. Now I am bored.” [Laughter] No. Or, “There is this lingering separation between myself and Krishna.” You never become discouraged. You go on, with ever-increasing enthusiasm. That’s the nature of the spiritual realm, the spiritual energy. Keep going forward, in a fully dependent mood. The experience on continuing to strive towards connecting with Krishna is so nice! Remember, Krishna is very kind, always. He will help you. Krishna is very kind.
Devotee: Maharaj, you mentioned the definition that “endeavor executed with intelligence in Krishna Consciousness is called enthusiasm.” In the past, in Prabhupada’s time, a lot of devotees joined the movement and then they left. So, what is the specific use of intelligence, or how to understand that in this context?
Romapada Swami Maharaj: I’m trying to understand the connection with the example you gave with the question that you’re asking. So, let me just process that for a moment. In Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna describes four types of people that render service unto Him. “I want…” “I want…” “I want…” and “I want…”—four different categories of “I want.” Inspired by passion, I want X, I get X, see you later, Krishna! Or, I want X and I don’t get X, see you later Krishna! To remain fixed in devotional service, something has to replace that “I want” and that is, “To serve is my constitutional position. To be engaged in service to Krishna is my true identity.” At some point, you have to change from the initial impetus to a second impetus –the impetus for service. That’s the intelligence required. Endeavoring with intelligence, or buddhi… dadami buddhi yogam tam [BG 10.10]. In 2.41 Bhagavad-Gita we find vyavasayatmika buddhih. Krishna gives that buddhih to one who is constantly devoted to Him. Sustained enthusiasm requires replacing “I want, I want, I want, see you later Krishna” with a different objective in mind. What is that? It is to be constantly devoted to Him. The motivation emphasized in this verse needs to change from “what’s in it for me” to “This is my true self, my true position, to always be situated in Krishna’s service. I like being Krishna’s servant!” That’s intelligence. That’s buddhih. Buddhih pervades everything, whether it is things I don’t like, or the things I like. Consider: I may not like to do something. I may not like to get up early in the morning. I may not like to wash pots. I may not like the cold outside. But because it is for service to Krishna, I like. And my enthusiasm is there regardless of duality. Bhakti is not created by circumstance, nor destroyed by circumstance. It’s not circumstantial. It’s intrinsic to the soul. That’s intelligence. Yes?
Devotee: It’s something I want to share, a very small thing. People who are materialistic criticize Krishna conscious people, because devotees don’t want to do things involving sense gratification. They say they are lazy.
Romapada Swami Maharaj: They are lazy? That’s not Krishna consciousness. [Laughter] Bhakti is active, by definition. That’s what our acaryas are saying, and that is what they show by example. “A Krishna conscious lazy person”: that’s a contradiction.
Devotee: I wanted to respond to these critics that Srila Prabhupada was very active in Krishna consciousness.
Romapada Swami Maharaj: Yes. Please recall the section we were reading in this morning’s Bhagavatam class. After the brahmanas came down to the platform of taking the action of destroying King Vena and producing Prithu Maharaja to correct the terrible situation they had created, they went back to their brahminical position. Brahmanas do not normally get involved in government affairs other than offering wise counsel; but in this case they did because they had created the bad situation. Remember that part of the morning’s discussion?
Devotee: Maharaj, my question is regarding attracting the Chinese people to Krishna consciousness. Do they know that Buddha is an avatar of Krishna?
Romapada Swami Maharaj: Generally they don’t have a clue. When we tell them, “Buddha is an avatar of Krishna,” they go, “Oh?!” Knowing this helps them have some interest in Krishna. With significant assistance, three different powerpoint presentations have been created which I will share with you one day—Buddha and Krishna. It’s interesting. The presentation begins with a summary of what is commonly known about Buddha. After that introduction, things start to become a little complex; there are different Buddhas, some Buddhist believe in The Land of Buddha and so on. After covering some of that material, the land of Krishna is revealed. It’s interesting. When I described this presentation to a Chinese woman on Sunday, she responded “Ooo… that would be very nice. I’d like to see this.” Commonly, no, Chinese people do not have an understanding of the connection of Buddha and Krishna. But once they know there is a connection, they desire to know clearly what the connection is. Then, there’s teachings—teachings of the Buddha, and teachings of the Vedas: what are there similarities and the dissimilarities.
Devotee: Maharaj, I am wondering if one has a bucket full with misconceptions, you know…
Romapada Swami Maharaj: If one has a bucket full of misconceptions? Is that what you said?
Devotee: Yes. The core understanding of the importance of Krishna consciousness is lost in the bucket full of misconceptions. It seems like a real mess. So, what to do?
Romapada Swami Maharaj: Yes, that true for most of us. Don’t consider yourself to have exclusive rights to that dilemma. [Laughter] As Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, just as the wind carries different aromas, so similarly, the mind carries different conceptions of life. Each of us has a mind, and each of our minds has been exposed to something, and according to that exposure we are carrying some conceptions, a whole variety of them. Each of us. Just like the air carries aromas, the minds carry conceptions. When we come in contact with that which is not identical with what we already have as conceptions, we struggle. There may be some similarities between our conceptions and the importance of Krishna consciousness, but for all of us there are differences. And then, as you say, it’s a mess. Everything depends upon our willingness to hear from proper sources. Not that we are expected to close our eyes and believe in something unknown or unfamiliar, but we should hear – thoughtfully and critically. Hear attentively. This is how the process of bhakti begins. That sound vibration, when it is pure, it cleanses the mind. As it cleanses, something resonates inside, awakening our intrinsic sense of Truth and Reality. The next step is to apply that which you have heard and which resonates as True. Srila Prabhupada writes “When you act in knowledge, your faith increases.” Why? Because you get some realization, which confirms the veracity of what you heard. Our experience confirms this as well. When you get some realization, you go, “Oooh! That was very nice!” With this newly increased faith, you go back to the source where you heard from and you hear again, now with a little more realization and a little more faith. Not everything will resonate as True. But some things enter connect with your heart, and you think “Oh, that is very interesting. Let me apply it.” Again, by acting in knowledge, our realizations grow, and our faith also grows. And this way, the bucket full of misconceptions gradually gets reduced. For some, this process will more gradual; for others, more rapid. However long it takes, that’s how long it takes. If we stay with the process of hearing, it acts. From our bucket of long-held conceptions, hold each one up to the light of the Vedas. If there is not a match, we can set that conception to the side. Gradually, little by little, we refine our conceptions of life. This is true for all of us. For all of us.
Devotee: Maharaj, I have a couple of questions. In the beginning, you were describing that Krishna’s name is non-different than Krishna Himself, and Krishna is dancing on the tongue. Is that true even in my stage?
Romapada Swami Maharaj: Yes! [laughter] Why not? Do you have a reason why not? Okay.
Devotee: Secondly, what is the difference between over-enthusiasm and properly guided enthusiasm? I have always thought of over-enthusiasm is when my hearing and chanting, my core sadhana practices, get affected. Then I am endeavoring beyond my capacity. I have also come to the realization that as there is as my hearing and chanting over the years, Krishna expands my capacity.
Romapada Swami Maharaj: Yes. The potency of Krishna comes through when you are properly endeavoring. Let us consider this example. There is electricity running through this house. Supposing you have a 40W bulb, a 60W bulb, an 80W bulb, a 100W bulb, and a 120W bulb. Although the same electricity is running through the house, according to the capacity of each bulb, there will be more illumination or less illumination. In contrast to the fixed amount of electricity running through the house, Krishna’s mercy is unlimited. It’s our capacity that is limited! We can only act according to our capacity. We receive from Krishna, and He uses us as His instrument. Yet it is true, our capacity may increase by Krishna’s kindness. Then, the mercy that you are capable of receiving and your enthusiasm to do things, guided with intelligence, can also increase. Over-endeavor is when it negatively impacts our core activities of hearing and chanting. We shouldn’t let that happen. That’s something to be cautious about. Do not allow your doing other things displace our core spiritual activities.
Devotee: When persons like you come and visit, the enthusiasm level goes up, both individually and within the community. But after you go, we cannot maintain and so, what should… [Laughter]
Romapada Swami Maharaj: What to do? I have a big suitcase. Maybe you can fit inside! [Laughter] Simply hear with faith. Please consider: those of us who are disciples of Srila Prabhupada and are continuing on enthusiastically must still have some fuel in our tank to keep us going. It’s not only by physical association with Prabhupada can we maintain our enthusiasm. Certainly, being in Prabhupada’s physical association was wonderfully enlivening, it kept our movement going. His association was so powerful! But his movement is still going on, including those of us that are his disciples, although our main source of enthusiasm was his direct physical association. Yet that enthusiasm is continuing because there is continuing contact, through sound. Certainly, we have given our heart to him and there’s nothing else left in our lives but serving him. But we also continue to hear from him. I recently had a similar discussion with Giriraj Maharaj. What a wonderful association! We were discussing what inspires different devotees that we are associating with, and what inspires us, and we were talking about Srimad Bhagavatam. There is such a wealth of inspiration from Srimad Bhagavatam! We just ended up spending twenty minutes talking about the wealth of inspiration readily available to all of us in Srimad Bhagavatam. There is a verse in the Bhagavatam, in Chapter 2 of Canto 10, which is entitled “Prayers of the demigods to Lord Krishna in the womb” what says, “Great souls before they leave this world, they leave behind them a boat, by which one can cross the ocean of material existence. They do this out of their compassion. It’s just their nature.” Srila Prabhupada was preparing and preparing and preparing to give his association to others for that time when he would no longer be physically with us. His association is available in his literatures. I know some of Prabhupada’s disciples that were never, even once, in his physical presence. Their dedication to his service was based upon his books and hearing about him from those that had been with him. In the early days we did not have the extensive media that you all have today — all of the memory videos and “Following Srila Prabhupada” video, and multiple biographies. We didn’t have all that. We just heard little narrations here and there. But that was fully energizing! Zoom, zoom, zoom! Now, through careful use of technology, you have videos and audios and transcriptions and recordings and his books abundantly available. You can associate with Srila Prabhupada and associate with his faithful followers in this way. During the Bhagavatam installation the other evening, it was purposeful to have everybody read a paragraph. We read from a story that everybody knows already, but the enrichment that one felt from that experience was so nice. In this way, we can get enthusiasm by receiving those same teachings and discussing those teachings with one another, directly from the Bhagavatam or other media of Prabhupada’s presentation of Krishna consciousness.
Recordings are being made of these classes. Go back and listen to the recordings again. Listen carefully to the response to Anju’s question about getting rid of the bucket full of misconceptions. Hear something and then apply that something; then you will get a realization. Just take even one thing that you heard and it made sense to you. For example, you picked up on this nice definition “Enthusiasm is endeavor with intelligence in Krishna consciousness.” Nice! Then, let me try to be enthusiastic applying that standard. I may not always be at that standard, so how can I come to that standard? Apply something you can relate to, and you become enthusiastic! You feel the connection with the person who was sharing that, in this case, it’s Bhaktivinoda Thakur. That’s how enthusiasm is sustained. That’s how the disciples of Prabhupada are sustaining our enthusiasm, that very same way. And it’s a thrill! It’s fun! It gives life!
Okay, thank you very much. Srila Prabhupada ki jai!