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The Sense to Know God

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An integral connection exists between the senses,
devotional service, and God realization.

A lecture given in Hamburg in 1969
by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

1985-01-03

visnu-saktih para prokta
ksetra-jnakhya tatha para
avidya-karma-samjnaya
trtiya saktir isyate

“Lord Visnu’s potency is summarized in three categories—namely the spiritual potency, the living entities, and ignorance. The spiritual potency is full of knowledge; the living entities, although belonging to the spiritual potency, are subject to bewilderment; and the third energy, which is full of ignorance, is always visible in fruitive activities.” [Cc. Madhya6.154]

This verse from the Visnu Purana states that the energy of the Supreme Lord (visnu-sakti) is originally spiritual, but that it manifests in three ways. It is like the sunshine, the energy of the sun globe. The sunshine is one energy, but it manifests as illumination and heat. Similarly. God has one energy, which is spiritual and which sustains His spiritual abode. And that same energy is manifested in another spiritual form, the ksetrajna, or marginal energy, which comprises us living entities. Then, avidya-karma-samjnaya trtiya saktir isyate: “Besides these two forms of the Lord’s energy there is a third form of His energy, known as avidya, or ignorance, which is based on fruitive activities.” One who is influenced by this energy has to experience the good and bad fruit of his labor. This is the material world. The material world is also an energy of Krsna. or God. but here ignorance prevails. Therefore one has to work. In our original state we haven’t got to work, but when we are in ignorance we have to work.

So, Krsna actually has one energy, the spiritual energy. He is the whole spirit, and the energy emanating from Him is also spiritual. Sakti-saktimator abhinnah. From the Vedanta-sutra we learn that the energetic, Lord Krsna. is nondifferent from His energy. Therefore the material energy is also nondifferent from Krsna. In another place in the Vedic literatures it is said, sarvam khalv idam brahma: “Everything is Brahman, spirit.” And in the Bhagavad-gita [9.4]. Krsna says. maya tatam idam sarvam jagad avyakta-murtina: “I am expanded as this cosmic manifestation, My impersonal feature.” Mat-sthani sarva-bhutani na caham tesv avasthitah: “Everything is resting on Me, or everything is an expansion of Myself, but personally I am not there.”

This is acintya-bhedabheda, the philosophy of simultaneous oneness and difference of God and His energies. Inaugurated by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, although it is there in codes in the Vedanta-sutra, this philosophy can satisfy the two classes of philosophers who study the Absolute Truth. One class says that God and the living entities are different, and the other philosophers, the monists, say God and the living entities are one. This acintya-bhedabheda philosophy says that God and the living entities are simultaneously one and different. They are one in quality, but different in quantity.

Again we can give the example of the sunshine and the sun globe—the energy and the energetic. In the sunshine there is heat and illumination, and in the sun globe there is also heat and illumination. But the degrees of light and heat are quite different. You can bear the heat of the sunshine, but if you went to the sun globe you could not bear the heat there; it would immediately burn everything to ashes. Similarly, Krsna and the living entities are qualitatively one but quantitatively very different.

Krsna is infinite, while we are smaller than the atom. Therefore it is not possible for us to know the Supreme Personality of Godhead by our ordinary sense perception. Atah sri-krsna-namadi na bhaved-grahyam indriyaih: “Krsna isn’t perceivable by our blunt material senses.” The word namadi means “beginning with His name.” With our material senses we cannot understand Krsna’s names or His form or His qualities or His paraphernalia or His activities. It is not possible.

Then how are they to be understood? Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah: “When we take to the Lord’s transcendental loving service, beginning with our tongue, the Lord reveals Himself.” Our first business is to engage the tongue in the service of the Lord. How can you engage the tongue in the service of the Lord? By chanting and glorifying His name, fame, qualities, form, paraphernalia, and pastimes. This is the business of the tongue. When the tongue is engaged in the service of the Lord, all the other senses will gradually become engaged.

The tongue is the most important sense within the body. Therefore it is recommended that if we want to control our senses, we should first control the tongue. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has emphasized this. He describes our present conditioned state as sarira avidya-jal: we are packed up in the network of this material body, and we are just like a fish caught within a net. And not only are we caught in this body; we are also changing this “net” life after life, through 8,400,000 species. In this way we stay caught in the network of ignorance. Then, jodendriya tahe kal: our imprisonment within this network of ignorance is being continued on account of our desire for sense enjoyment. And out of all the senses, Bhaktivinoda Thakura says, the tongue is the most dangerous. If we cannot control the tongue, then the tongue will oblige us to take different types of bodies, one after another. If a person is very much fond of satisfying his tongue by eating flesh and blood, then material nature will give him the facility to regularly taste fresh flesh and blood: he will get the body of a tiger. And if one does not discriminate in his eating—if he eats all kinds of nonsense, everything and anything—then material nature will give him a hog’s body, in which he will have to accept stool as his food. So much suffering is caused by the uncontrolled tongue.

Therefore, this human form of body is a great opportunity, because by engaging the tongue in the loving service of the Lord we can advance in Krsna consciousness. We can achieve ultimate realization of God just by engaging the tongue in His service. In other bodies—the cat’s body, the dog’s body, the tiger’s body—we cannot do this. So this human form of life is a great boon to the living entity, who is traveling through the cycle of birth and death, perpetually inhabiting different sorts of bodies. The human body is the opportunity for utilizing the tongue properly and getting out of the clutches of the material nature.

If we can keep our tongue always engaged in chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, we will realize Krsna. because the sound of Krsna’s name is not different from Krsna Himself. Why? Because Krsna is absolute. In the material world, everything is different from its designation. I myself am different from my name and from my body. But Krsna is not like that: Krsna and Krsna’s body are the same. The rascals cannot understand this. As Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita [9.11], avajananti mam mudha manusim tanum asritam: “Rascals and fools deride Me when I appear as a human being. They are thinking I am an ordinary human being.” Param bhavam ajananto mama bhuta-mahesvaram: “These rascals do not know what I am. They do not know My transcendental nature and My supreme influence over the entire creation.”

Without understanding Krsna, the fools consider Him an ordinary human being. The word mudha means “rascal.” Yet in spite of this warning, there are so many rascals passing as big scholars. When Krsna orders, “Surrender to Me,” the rascals comment, “It is not to Krsna but to the unborn spirit within Krsna that we have to surrender.” They do not know that Krsna is not different from His body, that Krsna is not different from His name, and that Krsna is not different from His fame. Anything pertaining to Krsna is Krsna. These rascals are monists, philosophizing about “oneness,” but as soon as they come to Krsna they immediately try to separate Him from His body or from His name.

But the fact is that Krsna’s name and Krsna are not different. Therefore, as soon as your tongue touches the holy name of Krsna, you are associating with Krsna. And if you constantly associate with Krsna by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, just imagine how purified you will become simply by this chanting process.

Our tongue also wants very palatable dishes to taste. So Krsna, being very kind, has given you hundreds and thousands of palatable dishes—remnants of foodstuffs eaten by Him. And if you simply make this determined vow—”I shall not allow my tongue to taste anything not offered to Krsna and shall always engage my tongue in chanting Hare Krsna”—then all perfection is in your grasp. All perfection. Two simple things: don’t eat anything not offered to Krsna, and always chant Hare Krsna. That’s all.

Variety is the mother of enjoyment, and krsna-prasadam [food offered to Krsna] can be prepared in so many nice varieties. How much enjoyment do you want with your tongue? You can have it simply by eating krsna-prasadam. And the more your tongue becomes purified by tasting krsna-prasadam, the more you’ll be able to relish chanting the Hare Krsna mantra. As Lord Caitanya says, anandambudhi-vardhanam: “Chanting Hare Krsna increases the ocean of transcendental bliss.” We have no experience within this material world of an ocean increasing. If the oceans would have increased, then all the land would have been swallowed up many long, long years ago. But the ocean of transcendental bliss produced by chanting Hare Krsna is always increasing.

The great authority Srila Rupa Gosvami says, “What good is chanting Hare Krsna with one tongue? If I had millions of tongues, then I could chant to my full satisfaction. And what good are these two ears? If I had millions of ears, I could hear Hare Krsna sufficiently.” He’s aspiring to have millions of ears and trillions of tongues to relish the chanting of Hare Krsna. This is an elevated stage, of course, when the chanting is so sweet and melodious that we want to have more ears and more tongues to relish it.

At present, however, we cannot know how relishable is the name of Krsna (atah sri-krsna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih). With our present senses we can’t understand the name, form, and qualities of Krsna. Therefore if we try to immediately understand Krsna by looking at His picture, we shall think. “Oh, Krsna is simply a young boy embracing Radharani and the other gopis.” Unless our senses are purified, we shall accept the dealings between Krsna and Radharani as ordinary dealings between a young boy and a young girl. Actually, this is not the fact. Their dealings are completely pure.

In the Caitanya-caritamrta, Srila Krsna-dasa Kaviraja Gosvami explains that there is a gulf of difference between the loving affairs of the gopis with Krsna and the ordinary, lustful dealings of human beings. He has compared the gopis’ love for Krsna to gold, and our so-called love here to iron. As there is a great difference between gold and iron, there is a great difference between the loving affairs of the gopis with Krsna and the mundane, lusty affairs between men and women or boys and girls. Love and lust are never equal.

Therefore, to understand Krsna as He is we have to purify our senses. And to do that we should carefully follow the principles of sevonmukhe hi jihvadau: first of all engage in chanting Hare Krsna. Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna. Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama. Hare Hare. Don’t try to understand the loving affairs of Radha and Krsna with your present senses, but simply chant Their holy names: Hare Krsna. Then, when the dust on the mirror of your heart is cleansed away, you will understand everything.

Thank you very much.

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