Lecture on Śrī Śrī Gurv-aṣṭaka , Nairobi , 1971-09-19
vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam
[Śrī Śrī Gurv-aṣṭaka 1]
Just now we have sung this song, saṁsāra-dāvānala-līḍha-loka. There was little controversy whether I shall speak in English or Hindi. Of course, I am not very much accustomed to speak in Hindi, but I speak sometimes Hindi. But Swami Brahmānanda has asked me to speak in English because some African students are present here, and they cannot understand Hindi. I think most of you can understand English. So I shall speak a little portion in English and little portion in Hindi.
So, what is our problem? The problem is that saṁsāra-dāvānala. This material world is compared with dāvānala. Dāvānala means forest fire. Every one of you has got some experience about the forest fire. The forest fire takes place. Nobody is interested to set fire in the forest, but it takes place automatically, by collision of bamboos. There is friction, and fire is produced, and as soon as they touch some dry..., dry leaves, immediately there is fire; and as soon as there is fire, all the animals in the forest, they become very much disturbed.
And the fire especially kills the serpents, because the serpents are on the ground and the dry grasses and leaves immediately taking to fire, and the serpents, they cannot run very swiftly, so they become the first victims. Similarly this world, this material world, is problematic. Some problems there is always, and because they do not know how to extinguish this blazing fire of problems, we are so much troubled.
So, saṁsāra-dāvānala-līḍha-loka, this one verse explaining will clear the idea of this movement. This material world is just exactly like the blazing fire in the forest. Everyone wants to live here peacefully, but situation develops in such a way that it will not allow you to live in peace. That is the law. We are trying to adjust things in so many ways, but this nature's law is so cruel and stringent that in spite of your so much trying, the blazing fire of this material world is continuing.
Just like we have got experience: there was First World War in 1914. It continued up to 1920 or '18. The people of the world, they devised some plan: League of Nations. Perhaps those who are older present here, they know. But that failed. Again there was second war, and again they have devised some means, United Nation, but the war is going on—in Vietnam, in Egypt or in Pakistan; so many places the blazing fire is going on. That cannot be stopped.
Therefore, in this verse of Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, he says that this saṁsāra, this material world where we are trying to enjoy life, is just like dāvānala—forest fire without our desire. Nobody wanted the First World War or the Second World War or again the Third World War, but it takes place. So what is the solution?
Saṁsāra-dāvānala-līḍha-loka. It is blazing. Now, just try to understand how this blazing fire in the forest can be stopped. You cannot send fire brigade, or you cannot send men with buckets of water to extinguish the fire in the forest. That is not possible. How the fire in the forest is stopped? Because the stopping the blazing fire there must be pouring of water.
So what is the arrangement for pouring water? The arrangement is, saṁsāra dāvānala-līḍha-loka-trāṇāya, that to deliver them, kāruṇya-ghanāghanatvam. Ghanāghanatvam means clouds, merciful clouds. When there is merciful clouds over the forest and it pours rain torrentially, then immediately the fire, blazing fire in the forest, becomes extinguished. Otherwise there is no other way. You cannot call fire brigade. You cannot save the animals. You cannot send men with bucketfuls of water. [children making noise] It is not possible. Similarly,
kāruṇya-ghanāghanatvam prāptasya kalyāṇa guṇārṇavasya...
[aside:] These children are disturbing.
Kāruṇya-ghanāghanatvam prāptasya kalyāṇa-guṇārṇavasya.
Devotee: [to person in audience] Can you keep the children quiet? Perhaps you can take them outside, because Śrīla Prabhupāda must speak so people can hear.
Prabhupāda: This is another dāvānala. [laughter] If you want to stop one dāvānala, another dāvānala is there automatically. This is the proof. Yes. Sukhera lāgiyā ei ghara bandhila anale puriya gelā. I'll make home very peaceful, but nature's law is so cruel that it makes very uncomfortable. So this is going on, and we cannot understand. That is called māyā. In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavata there is a statement that the human beings, they are controlled under the modes of material nature of passion. So therefore they take this dāvānala as peaceful. That is their..., that is called māyā.
Anyway, the verse:
vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam
So as the cloud is collection of water from the sea—cloud means evaporation of water from the sea—similarly, guṇārṇavasya, there is an ocean of mercy of Kṛṣṇa, or God. If one is able to collect water, or the dust, from the merciful ocean of Kṛṣṇa, and if we can pour over it the saṁsāra-dāvānala, then it is possible to extinguish this fire. In other ways, just like the forest fire cannot be extinguished without the water from the clouds, similarly, this saṁsāra, this dāvānala, the blazing fire of all material existence, problems after problems, they cannot be extinguished unless there is pouring of incessant merciful rain from Kṛṣṇa, and one who bestows, one who distributes this rain, he is called the guru.
Therefore Viśvanātha Cakravartī says, "I offer my respectful obeisances to such guru, spiritual master, who is able to distribute the merciful rain of Kṛṣṇa to extinguish this blazing fire of material existence." So this is the meaning of this verse,
vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam
So in the Vedic literature it is said that in order to understand the transcendental science, tad vijñānārthaṁ... Tad vijñāna means transcendental science. So,
samit-pāṇiḥ śrotriyaṁ brahma-niṣṭham
In order to... Because we are trying to acquire knowledge how to extinguish this blazing fire of problems. That is our plan. Everyone is trying. The scientist is trying, the thoughtful philosophers are trying, and..., so many ways, because our aim is ātyantika-duḥkha-nivṛtti. The aim is how to extinguish this blazing fire, or how to diminish, or almost vanquish, the miserable condition of life.
The karmīs, they are working heart and soul, day and night to extinguish this fire or diminishing the miserable condition of material existence. The jñānīs they are also crying that they are disgusted. They say: brahma satyam jagan mithya. This world is false, according to jñānīs, those who are after liberation. After being disgusted to adjust the material problems, they try to merge into the existence of the Supreme. They are called jñānīs, mukti. So they are also trying to extinguish this fire. Therefore they are being disgusted. They are saying this jagat, this material world, is false.
Just like sometimes you know the story: One jackal tried to take some grapes from the orchard, and when he failed he said, "Oh, the grapes are sour." [laughter] Similarly the karmīs, after struggling very, very hard, when the [indistinct], every [indistinct] so many people they are trying, but the problem, the blazing fire is there. The karmīs are trying by material process by making League of Nation, United Nation or social work, humanitarian work, education, so on and so on. They are trying to mitigate. Purpose is how to extinguish this blazing fire.
Ātyantikaṁ sukham. Ātyantika-duḥkha-nivṛtti, this is the Sanskrit word, vācā, that people are trying to become in very happy condition of life. The karmīs are trying by working hard day and night by industrialization, by economic development, by political understanding, so many things. And jñānīs, when they see that they have become frustrated in trying materially in so many ways, they say that this world is false and let us take to Brahman understanding or merge into the void, the existence of Brahman. That is called jñānīs' aim of life.
And similarly there are yogīs. Yogīs, they are trying to get material power in a mystic way, aṇimā, laghimā. These are called siddhis, or aṣṭa-siddhis. The yogīs, the perfect yogī who has attained success, he can become greater than the greatest, smaller than the smallest, lighter than the heavy. In this way there are eight kinds of siddhis. They are also trying to acquire this power. But there is another class who are called bhaktas, devotees.
They are also coming gradually from different stage, from the state of karmī, from the state of jñānīs, from the stage of yogīs, then they come to the state of devotional service. But the advantage is that if anyone wants to come to the topmost position, transcendental position of becoming bhakta, he can become immediately a bhakta without going gradually through the states of karmīs, jñānīs, yogīs. That is the advantage. You can immediately.
Just like Kṛṣṇa says that:
jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
sa mahātmā sudurlabhaḥ
Kṛṣṇa says that in this way, by gradual evolutionary process from the karmī's platform, the jñānī platform, from the jñānī platform to yogī platform and from yogī platform to bhakta platform, in this way, bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān mām prapadyate. Actually, when one is wise, jñānī—jñānavān means wise—he surrenders to the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān mām prapadyate.
So the bhakta's position is that without waiting for bahu janma, or many births of struggling as karmī, as jñānī or as yogī, he immediately takes the opportunity of Lord Kṛṣṇa's instruction that,
jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
"Jñānavān, one who is actually, maturely wise, he surrenders unto Me." If that is the point, if that is the aim of life, the bhaktas, the intelligent men of the world, take to this step, that means immediately, as Kṛṣṇa says,
mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
So really jñānavān, really wise man, he thinks that if after many, many births one has to come to this point of surrendering to Kṛṣṇa, why not immediately? That is intelligence, that "Why I shall wait for many, many births, after being karmī or jñānī or yogī. Let me immediately surrender." Because this is the ultimate goal.
The Bhāgavata confirms this fact that,
durāśayā ye bahir-artha-māninaḥ
andhā yathāndhair upanīyamānās
te 'pīśa-tantryām uru-dāmni baddhāḥ
This is the statement of Mahārāja Prahlāda. He says that people, they do not know the ultimate goal is to back to home, back to Godhead. That is the goal of life. Therefore Prahlāda Mahārāja said, when his father challenged him that "Why you are after so much devotional life?" then he said, "My dear father, people do not know this, that this is the ultimate goal of life." Nature's law is dragging us to that point.
Just like I give you one example, that the state or government, the government wants that every citizen should be law-abiding, then the state can go very nicely. You can understand; it is very easy. But there are many men, or a few men, who disobey the state's laws, and they are put into the prison life, in the jail life. Now what is the purpose of this jail life? The purpose of jail life is to put this criminal, this, I mean to say, guilty person always doing some trouble so that he can come to the point of becoming a law-abiding citizen. That is the prison law.
Similarly, this material world is a prison house. It is called durga. Therefore the superintendent deity of this material world is called Durgā. Perhaps every one of you knows what is Goddess Durgā. Durgā has got weapons in her hands, ten hands, different types of weapons. That means she is directed. She is present in ten directions of this universe, and she has got different weapons to chastise the demon. You have seen the picture of demon. The demon is struggling with the lion and the mother, Goddess Durgā, has caught the hairs of the demon and pushing her trident just on the chest. This is going on.
So similarly, if we study the scripture who is a demon and what is this trident, what is this lion, in this if we analytically study that, we shall find that these demons, we are all demons. We find, because the trident means threefold misery, trident. It is, the Sanskrit word is triśūla. Triśūla. Tri means three, and śūla means..., śūla means punishment or tribulations, threefold. They are adhyātmikha, adhibhautikha, adhidaivikha.
We are suffering threefold miseries. One kind of misery is due to this body and the mind. Sometimes we feel not very happy with the bodily position; sometimes we do not find very happy in the mental condition. So that is called adhyātmikha. This is one kind of misery. The other kind of misery, adhidaivikha, miseries inflicted by the demigods. Just like all of a sudden there is famine or there is earthquake, so many natural disturbances, flood, and we are always busy to mitigate all these miseries by different method.
But the miseries are always there. This is called adhyātmikha, adhidaivikha and, similarly... Adhyātmikha, adhibhautikha. Bhautikha means tribulations from miseries inflicted by other living entities. Just like we are sleeping very happily. We are sleeping very happily, but there are bugs. They are biting, disturbing the happiness of sleep, the mosquitoes. Or we are very afraid of the tiger or the elephant, so many. That means distresses inflicted by other living entities.
So these three kinds of miserable condition of material life are there, and our existence is simply struggling against these miserable condition of life. Nobody can say that "I am free of all these three kinds of miserable condition of life." Therefore it is said, saṁsāra-dāvānala. Just like our happiness means we are trying to mitigate some sort of disturbances in our own way, and that is the happiness. But actually it is not possible to have pure happiness within this material world, because the trident of the material nature, Durgā, is just pierced on the chest of everyone.
So you should try to understand what is Durgā. We want to satisfy Mother Durgā by worshiping her, giving her some bribe, but Mother Durgā is not so easily to be bribed. There is a story that one devotee of Mother Durgā worshiped Mother very nicely, and Mother asked the devotee, "My dear son, you are happy?" He replied, "My dear Mother, yes, I am very happy. Only two things are lacking." "What is this?" "That there is no sufficient food and there is no sufficient cloth." So this is the position. We are trying to adjust this material world in so many ways, but the insufficiency is always there. We should try to understand. This is the position.
Therefore our aim should be, as it is indicated by Prahlāda Mahārāja, na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇuṁ [SB 7.5.31]. We should know that our aim of life should be to understand what is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is our aim. We should make all arrangement—social, political or philosophical, religious, whatever you like—you make all adjustment, but the aim should be how to approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Visnu. In the Vedas also it is said, oṁ tad viṣṇoḥ paramaṁ padaṁ sadā paśyanti sūrayaḥ [Ṛg Veda 1.22.20]. Those who are sūraya, means learned, advanced people, demigods, they are simply looking on the lotus feet of Visnu. Oṁ tad viṣṇoḥ paramaṁ padaṁ sadā paśyanti sūrayaḥ. This is Ṛg Veda mantra.
So the aim should be human civilization. The aim should be like the sūrayaḥ, sadā paśyanti tad viṣṇoḥ paramaṁ padam. That is the aim. Without aim if you cultivate any kind of religious principle, social principle or political principle, it will fail. Because you do not know the aim of our life, therefore in spite of all advancement of present-day world, education, economic development, we have to defend ourselves by the laws of something else, just like League of Nation or United Nation. You are hearing, specially the Indians who are here in Africa, they are always feeling such unsettlement, because the aim is missed.
So our this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is to educate everyone to this aim. That is called Kṛṣṇa consciousness. We are not sectarian. We are inviting everyone, it doesn't matter, because everyone is Kṛṣṇa's eternal servant. We are trying to teach everyone how to become Kṛṣṇa's servant and be helpful to the society and be happy himself and to make others happy. That is our...
So this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement especially we have come to Africa to educate the people, not only the Indians or the Hindus, but we have come to educate the people of the natives, of the local population, and I am glad that our people going to saṅkīrtana party in the street, as we go everywhere, in London, in New York, in all big, big cities of the world. Similarly, we are trying to lead our saṅkīrtana party to the street, and the local natives, the African boys and girls and gentlemen, they are gathering, they are receiving. So there is immense possibility of spreading this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement everywhere. That I have explained already, and again I am repeating.
So this movement has come here, so I request that those who are present here, try to cooperate with this movement of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and I am sure the African boys and girls, they will surely take part in it, as we have experienced, we have many other Africans boys and girls as our students in America. So there is no difficulty, and my only request is that you try to help us by [indistinct]. Just like it is described in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam,
dehinām iha dehiṣu
Iha dehiṣu, in this body, in human form of life, the perfection is to śreya-ācaraṇaṁ sadā. Śreya means ultimate good. That is called śreya. Śreya and preya, there are two words. Preya means immediate benefit, immediate happiness, just like sense gratification, immediate, and śreya means that permanent happiness. So śreya-ācaraṇaṁ sadā: in this human form of life you should not be, I mean to say, deviated by some temporary happiness. We should seek after the permanent happiness.
And how this permanent happiness can be achieved? Prāṇair arthair dhiyā vācā: by dedicating your life, by dedicating your riches, prāṇair arthair dhiyā, by dedicating your intelligence, by dedicating your words. You can do the most beneficial work to the human society by these four things: by your life, by your money, by your intelligence and by your words. Everyone has got either the four, or some of them. But even one you can sacrifice. Better if you sacrifice life; that includes everything. If not, please sacrifice some money, prāṇair arthair. If not, then intelligence. If you cannot pay anything, let us worship, give your intelligence how it will be successful. Intelligence. And vācā: and if not, you give your word.
What is that word? What is this movement? This movement, they are going, they are chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. They are not giving any money. They have no money, but they are simply chanting, vācā. So people are taking it and being benefited all over the world. So if you cannot sacrifice your life or your vācā, just sacrifice little money. That is the way of living, our Sanātana Gosvāmī.
And it is the duty of the gṛhasta and kṣatriyas especially, dāna, charity. And where dāna should be given? In the Bhagavad-gītā it is said, dātavyam iti yad dānaṁ tad dānaṁ sāttvikam ucyate [Bg. 17.20]. There are three kinds of dāna, charity: sattvika, rajasika and tamasika. We should not take to the policy of rajasika and tamasika charity. We should take to the sattvika charity. What is that sattvika charity?
Dātavyam yajña: when you think, "Here is the place where charity must be given there." And this movement is so, because it is trying to educate every man to come to the ultimate goal of life, Viṣṇu. That will make them happy. That will make them prosperous. That will solve all the problems of life. This is a fact. It is to be understood with little cool head and subtle mind. This is a fact. This Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is so nice, so authorized.
So try to help this movement. Immediately we'll require a place. These devotees who have come here, they are from America, Europe, and still some of them are coming. So we must have a place to stay. Unless we stay, how we can prosecute the movement? Therefore help us immediately to give us a place, and see how things are going on, how things improve, gradually.
We have already tested that this movement has been successful all over the world; why not in Africa? So there is immense chance, and we have no sectarian view. We don't consider that "He is African," "He is American." Sarvopādhi-vinirmuktaṁ. This movement is freed from all designation, sarvopādhi-vinirmuktaṁtat-paratvena nirmalam [Cc. Madhya 19.170]
Be Kṛṣṇa conscious. It is very, very pure, nirmalam. Because these American boys, they do not think that they are American or I think I am Indian. If I thought Indian, why should I have taken so much trouble to travel all over the world to preach this movement? So we have no such conception that "I am Indian," "I am American," "I am brāhmaṇa" or "I am śūdra," or "I am black," "I am white." We all are the same. We are eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa, or God. That is our position.
This is called sarvopādhi-vinirmuktaṁ, and so long we shall be conducted by upādhis—"I am American," "I am Englishman," "I am Indian," "I am Hindu," "I am Muslim," "I am Sikh," these are upādhis, designation. Actually, these are the designation of this body. As soon as the..., because I am born in India, I am thinking "I am Indian." Accidentally one is born in America, he is thinking as American. But none of them are American, Indian or black or white. Spiritually, everyone is part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa. We have to think in that way. We have to be educated in that way. Then there will be actually peace in the world.
That I have explained many times that,
jñātvā māṁ śāntim ṛcchati
If you actually want śānti, either in mind or body or soul, you must take to this movement, Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and try to understand what is God, what is Kṛṣṇa, and try to distribute this knowledge all over the world, amongst your friends, amongst your family. And the process is very simple. It is not at all difficult.
Simply chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. You go on chanting, gradually your dirty things in the heart will be cleansed, ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanaṁ. This is the first effect of chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra.
Then, bhava-mahā-dāvāgni-nirvāpaṇaṁ, the same thing as I began my lecture in the beginning, that there is a blazing fire. We are all misunderstanding one another. That is the position. As soon as you come to the real understanding, real platform of understanding, that "I am spirit soul, ahaṁ brahmāsmi, and I am that consciousness. I am Brahman," that Brahman consciousness, when developed, it is called Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Just like it is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā,
na śocati na kāṅkṣati
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu...
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu
mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām
This is the scientific procedure.
So my request is that you try to understand. You help us and see how good results are coming out this movement, not only here but all over the world.
Thank you very much. [applause] [break]
Prabhupada: [aside:] What is that? You can explain.
[break] ...species of form. And all these particular bodies are awarded to the living entity, or the soul, according to his sinful activities. That is Vedic injunction. And therefore in the Bhagavad-gītā it is said that you cannot take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, or God consciousness, unless you are completely freed from the resultant action of sinful life.
bhajante māṁ dṛḍha-vratāḥ
This is the statement of the Bhagavad-gītā. Anyone who has become freed completely, yeṣāṁ tv anta-gataṁ pāpaṁ, janānāṁ, persons who are engaged in pious activity. Activity means you should be pious, not impious. If we implicate ourselves in impious activities, then you will be more and more implicated in this material way of life, and from Brahman you can become a hog or dog or an ant. This is the law of nature. It is not that by evolutionary process if one has come to the human form of life he is not going to be degraded. If he does not believe in God consciousness, if he does not act nicely, then he is surely to degrade.
Therefore Kṛṣṇa says, yeṣāṁ anta-gataṁ pāpaṁ: one who has checked[?] his resultant action of sinful life, such person, always engaged in pious activity, they, such person, dvandva-moha-nirmuktā, without any hesitation, without any doubt, bhajante māṁ dṛḍha-vratāḥ, can be fixed up in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and devotional service. Therefore as you see, these boys were all addicted to all kinds of sinful life, because they are told from the very beginning of their life.
But when they took to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, they gave up under my instruction or the instruction of Bhagavad-gītā, and see how they are advanced in spiritual life. That is practical. Within three or four years, or even one year, simply by association many students are coming. Simply by their association they are becoming pure. This is a fact. You can examine. You can see.
So the primary principles of sinful life are four: illicit sex life. One cannot have sex life without his married wife. That restriction must be followed. Just like in our Cāṇakya community, the ordinary moral instruction of Cāṇakya Paṇḍita, who was the prime minister of India during the time of Chandragupta, and his name is still well known; in New Delhi there is a Cāṇakya Puri. He said that who is that learned man who is not judging from the academic qualification. He said... First of all he said, mātṛvat para-dāreṣu: one who sees all women as mother except his married wife, he is learned. So this illicit sex life must be stopped. This is the beginning of sinful life.
And similarly, intoxication. We are already intoxicated by the influence of māyā, and if we take still more intoxication, then how we are improving? How are we becoming designationless? We are becoming more and more engulfed by designation. So this must be given up: illicit sex life and intoxication and gambling and unnecessary meat-eating. There is no need of meat-eating.
For human being, God has given us so many things: varieties of grains, varieties of fruits, varieties of vegetables and varieties of milk and milk products. Why should we take animal food? Of course, when there is no possibility of getting all these things in the desert, they may kill some animals and eat. That is a different thing. But in cities and towns where these things are amply available, why should we take meat, fish and eggs?
So they are not allowed in the śāstras. Just like Kṛṣṇa says,
yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
Kṛṣṇa does not say, "Give me eggs and meat." He says patraṁ puṣpaṁ. So our position is we take kṛṣṇa-prasādam, and whatever is offered to Kṛṣṇa, patraṁ puṣpaṁ, we take it. So if one is serious about advancing in spiritual life he must try to become free from all sinful life, yeṣāṁ anta-gataṁ pāpaṁ. Otherwise, Kṛṣṇa is pure:
pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān
That is described by Arjuna.
So if we want to reach the Complete Pure, we must first of all become pure. This chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa will make you pure, but it will help you by avoiding these four principles of restriction. Then you will make march[?] very quickly and go back to home, back to God, very quickly. That is the process. [end]