A lecture given by HH Kadamba Kanana Swami, 8 January 2010, Radhadesh, Belgium
We’re reading from the Srimad Bhagavatam, 4th Canto, Chapter 25, “The characteristics of King Puranjana,” text 46:
panca dvaras tu paurastya
pascime dve amusam te
namani nrpa varnaye
Translation: My dear King, of the nine doors, five led toward the eastern side, one led toward the northern side, one led toward the southern side, and two led toward the western side. I shall try to give the names of these different doors.
Opening our darkened eyes
So Narada Muni is in his causeless mercy has decided to deliver this King. And this is the nature of saintly personalities; that they are para-duhkha-duhkhi, they are always feeling the suffering of others even when other cannot see it that they’re suffering. The king was not aware that he was in a suffering condition, he thought he was doing very well, until he met Narada and then he realised that it wasn’t exactly like that. Then he realised that actually, what he thought had been enjoyment was actually misery. This is,
caksur unmilitam yena
tasmai sri-gurave namah
This is to open up the darkened eyes that have been blinded by ignorance. So due to ignorance we think that this material world is an enjoyable place.
dvav eva cintaya muktau
yo vimugdho jado balo
yo gunebhyah param gatah
Two types of persons are thinking that this material world is a place to enjoy- some are self realised souls, beyond the three modes of material nature and the others, childish, retarded fools. So we can sort of see which is applicable to us. If we have any tendency to enjoy the material world or if we experience any happiness in the material world, it might be that we are self realised souls! Or, if we we’re experiencing happiness in the material world then there’s the other option, which I mentioned before…dot, dot, dot…So you know, multiple choice, as you like. What to be said…
Narada Muni made it really clear that going back to Godhead was the goal and he impressed it so much on Maharaja Pracinabarhisat that he just left his kingdom after hearing this whole narration! He just left the kingdom even uncared for! He didn’t wait for his sons; he just let the minister sort of look after the kingdom…he left. His sons were still performing austerities and didn’t even come back home. So he didn’t exactly take a lot of time to properly turn over all the material arrangements because he fully realised that the material world and everything relating to the body is very temporary, very short and one cannot waste a moment. Therefore better, better right now, right now, take up the activity that really makes sense- the eternal activity. Right now, without delay because there is no guarantee whatsoever.
The nature of the material world
The material energy is treacherous! We’re seeing how Ganga Devi is represented by a female form, riding on a crocodile. Ganga Devi is basically coming into the material world and the material energy is the crocodile. So crocodiles…you can sort of tame a dog but a crocodile, there’s no such thing as making a friendship with a crocodile! It doesn’t work like that. Whenever he gets the opportunity…snatch he goes! So the material energy is treacherous, totally unreliable. That is the nature of the material energy. So there is no question that we can ever be sure that it will be okay- no. The potential is there that any situation can turn into a nightmare. Now that may sound so negative. Sometimes people say, ‘but you’re so negative! You Hare Krsnas, you’re just so negative about the material world. I mean, see the beauty, see the beauty. There’s so many wonderful things and so beautiful.’ Well, we’re not denying that but it can go wrong any moment- the earth can rip open any time…I have experienced in a room in Mayapur that suddenly at 6am, it sounded as if someone was hitting a hammer on the wall- a big one- so I was looking what’s going on and another one- bang– and it sounded like, are they coming through the wall? And the next moment, the floor just cracked right open! Well…I was very fast; I grabbed all my valuables in one snatch and I flew out the door! And within 30 seconds I had all my stuff outside the room- including myself! So these are the moments when we are tested and when our material attachments are coming out and what shall we say…
The material world is full of surprises, that is really how it is and we cannot think that it’s going to be any different. So while things are smooth, while things are peaceful, we may as well get out of here now! Take advantage of it now! Now that everything is quiet…you know, we know what can go wrong; you can just think of a few things that can go wrong- the third world war still didn’t start but it could start, and 2012 is coming and we have just heard it that what’s going to happen? The axis of the earth is going to change and there’s going to be a tidal wave of what was it 4km high? 2 only? All right, I’m exaggerating! 2km high so even Radhadesh, if you’re on the tip of the tower, I don’t know, if you’re more than 2km above the sea level, if not, you need your snorkel! So get ready otherwise really, we have to all move to Switzerland or to other such places, high and dry and so on. Yes, 2012, it’s coming! So there are always such predictions and I hope that ISKCON will respond in the same way as they did in Y2K, namely by getting huge food supplies- that will be really good! At least on the Spanish farm we were eating for six years from the Y2K! So I thought it was fantastic! I mean really, that was a great thing. So let us dig in and let us get ready for ‘dooms day’, that will help a lot because you know, it can happen! Yes, it can. But while it’s not happening, we could also just take advantage of the nice peaceful conditions that we have and read.
Now, you know, any room you look, it’s packed up with books- we never read them of course- but we have them. And all kinds of- we have a full set of Bhagavatam and so many other things. And when you open them up, big clouds of dust come out because the last time that we opened it up was when we bought them! Yes, sometimes they’re still in the original plastic, you know! In many places actually, they stand on the shelf in the original plastic and you really know for sure! So like this…Now is a peaceful time. So far so good, so now we can actually take advantage and that is the idea. At a peaceful time one should take full advantage because you just don’t know; once the disaster starts, what will be left? What books will be left? We don’t know!
In Durban we have the Deputy Mayor who comes every year on Ratha Yatra and every year he gives the same speech and it’s a good speech. It describes how during the apartheid days he was the member of the ANC, the revolutionary party that was trying to overthrow the government, and he was arrested, jailed into solitary confinement and they allowed him one book. And since he was Hindu, he said, “Well, the Bhagavad Gita.” And they gave him Prabhupada’s Gita! And for two years he was locked up, alone with Prabhupada’s Gita! I mean, imagine the only book to read for two years! Imagine that would happen to us! Yeah, may be finally we would read it! (Laughter) May be we would even memorise some verses, you know, what else to do? Just Bhagavad Gita! We might even consider, let’s memorise the whole thing! It could be, we might even do that! Everyday recite it, make a whole thing of the Gita- dharma-ksetre kuru-ksetre…and so on. So when the external circumstances change a little bit then everything can change a lot. If the axis of the earth moves a little or if you go into solitary confinement or whatever, life is like that, it can change any moment completely! Anything can happen at any moment! That is the material world.
Surrender in the moment
So therefore, there’s no time to waste. You cannot get comfortable; you cannot think that well, ‘later, later I’ll get more serious. Tomorrow, tomorrow I’ll surrender.’ No tomorrow you won’t surrender if you’re not surrendering today! Surrender is now! Surrender is always in the moment, just now. Then you can do it. But somehow or other saintly personalities, like Narada Muni, are distributing their mercy and awakening the conditioned souls. So in the same way, Srila Prabhupada did it to us and then life changes a lot and we have changed a lot. Our lives really have changed so much and therefore sense gratification now is not in the forefront. We may still have attachments but it’s not in the forefront of our mind because we don’t really, really believe in it. We may be attached to it but we don’t really believe in it. Just like sometimes I have said, we should make a declaration of no faith in sex, at least that much. Think about it….do you really think that sex will make you happy? Anybody? There are a few! (Laughter) But we’re still attached to it; we don’t believe that it will make us happy but still we also can’t give up the attachment because we get some enjoyment. We know that it’s not going to fully make us happy but a little happy may be, for a short while and we think, well that’s better than nothing! So in this way we’re still attached but we don’t have full faith that this is it.
There are people in the world, quite a few, it’s a well known fact…you can go to Bangkok to Pitaya and it’s full of 50, 60 year old men from America and Europe with 20 year old girls! That’s what Pitaya’s all about! And they live there, they even marry the girls! And they just stay there- many of them marry such girls and stay there for their old age. And they get their pension transferred over there and you know, Euros and Dollars into Butts is not too bad! And they live on the beach with some nice, young, exotic girl enjoying their old age…look, I’m not advertising in case someone gets attracted by this description! But you know, it’s just a total waste of time, really! I mean, in your old age what a foolish thing to do! What a foolish thing to do, to get deeply, deeply entrenched once again! So we are here and having an opportunity, an opportunity to do it now, to develop a little bit of detachment now. We can of course wait, ‘well, I’ll wait a little longer,’ all right come back in ten years… ‘Well I’ll wait a little longer,’ okay, come back in ten years, ‘I’ll wait a little longer…’
‘Where is so and so?’
‘Oh, he left three years ago…’
If we come back every ten years then at one point we may not be there anymore and then what…? Yam yam vapi smaran bhava, then we will take a birth according to whatever mentality we’ve cultivated.
Why did I come back?
Sometimes I’m thinking about last life and yesterday I opened up a little notebook where I had a few years ago written something about that. And that in Punjab, there is this Brghu reader and you can go there and they may know who you were in the last life! And who were we in the last life? Maybe we were already a devotee in our last life, could have been! And then come back again and this time, and so on…it could be. On the other hand it might also be that- at least that I wrote in the diary- it might also have been that we were a worm and that some vaisnava just spat and that it all landed on our head! It could have been! And just by that event, we got human birth and our devotional service began, you know what I mean…! It could also have been that we were a rat in our last life and somehow or other ate some prasadam and that is why we still have some rat-like mentality in this life. So indeed, sometimes you can look at people and you can sort of see what animal they look like! (Laughter) Have you ever done that? With teachers in school? We had one teacher, he was an ostrich! There was no doubt about it, he was an ostrich! A little bril- a little glasses- on his nose like that…a big bird, you know! I knew it straight away when I saw him- he’s an ostrich! So I also figured out that if you put pressure on him he will put his head in the sand! And sure enough, he did! So were they ostriches in their last life? And is there still something left over in the subtle body in this life? It might be, it might be possible!
So when you start thinking about last lives it is very interesting but the main thing is that rather than to go to Brghu readers…you know, anybody who went to a Brghu reader, they were always a Prince in Orissa or some queen in Jaipur; I never heard of someone who was some street dog in Tokyo or something like that! So I have my doubts about these Brghu readers but anyway, last life…I like to think that in last life I probably was a worm or a rat because that helps me a lot. If I think of myself as a rat in my last life then I look in the mirror and I think, ‘yeah, you rat!’ (Laughter) and it helps me to deal with my lower nature because honestly speaking, if I was a devotee in my last life then I blew it! Then I blew it! If we were devotees in our last life and we blew it, then we came back again this time and that means that we were not really serious in our spiritual life, that we were still playing, that we were still dragging our feet, that we were still looking at the material world and saying, ‘ooooooh, it’s good! How can I give it up? Oooooh I know I should, but boy, how can I ….?’ It must have been like that if we came back. Or we still, stepped on the toes of the devotees again and again, that we still blaspheme them, that we still criticise them and that we couldn’t stop. That means we were so proud in our last life that we came back.
So it’s interesting to think, ‘why did I come back?’ Did you ever think about that? And then if I think, ‘well, why did I come back?’ In my case, probably I’m really stubborn because I’m so stubborn that I’ll never listen to anybody, that I’ll anyway do what I want! I mean that’s why I came back in a country where there is facility for that! (Laughter) that’s quite clear right! So like that we are taking our birth. You can think about it, ‘why did I come back? Why? What was it? What was it in me that I had to do it one more time? Why didn’t I go back to Godhead in my last life? What was it? Well, I was attached to a few things…’ yes and we can name them and so on…So if we think about that then we can in this life may be say, ‘I’m not going to fall in the same trap again this life, no way! This time I’m going to try and deal with these things.’
Get serious- get serious now!
So this is really our opportunity; our opportunity is to finally deal with our false ego, to deal with our material conditioning- not just to sit in it like in a cocoon and say, ‘it’s nice, warm and comfortable,’ like a sleeping bag zipped all over your head, ‘My material attachments and my conditioning and my stubborn nature etc and I will not open the sleeping bag, I’ll just stay in here this life and I won’t come out’- like I was talking yesterday with a certain devotee who I have noticed stayed more than 30 hours in his sleeping bag! And I asked him, how do you do that? You don’t have to go to the bathroom? I was like, you know, 30 hours in a sleeping bag! But some people have this capacity and in the same way, we stay just within the comfort of our material conditioning life after life, even although we got so much mercy! So the mercy means that we have to go to work, we have to really try to deal with our material conditioning and say, ‘Out! Out! Out! Finished! No more!’ that’s how it is. And time goes by quick, the lines in our face are going deeper, the nose a little bigger…like that, age is showing some symptoms.
So let us do something- at least I’m thinking like that to myself and I’m telling myself that I should do something more serious than I have done before! That is really the conclusion. This is now the third class on the same theme, so you deal with everything in three lectures. So it’s basically one long lecture in three parts. So yesterday we had lots of fun but today we must come to a conclusion, today we must just sort of…I said before the class that today it’s not going to be all jokes, today it’s going to be grave- very grave! They said, ‘ah come on you know! A few.’ So okay a few I put in but not too many. Why grave? Because ultimately we have to get serious, ultimately we have to get serious about the opportunity given and that is really what King Puranjana is about- get serious, get serious now! We have already postponed too long, dragged our feet too long and as a result, well some of us are already preparing for the next birth! Some of us again are not going to make it! And yeah, well if I think about that, that’s not encouraging. I wouldn’t want to say, ‘well, I was almost there but didn’t quite make it!’ That is sort of something…I could have nightmares about something like that! ‘Sorry, really close but just not close enough…sorry, try again!’ That is just something that scares me. I’m scared of that so I would desire that I would become more serious. That is something to do…more serious about my own spiritual life. Yes, you can externally do everything- you can take all the initiations, you can do so many things- but internally, still the same! So it takes a very serious endeavour.
The meditation has to happen
Now, initiations…I was thinking about; they are mercy and the second initiation I wanted to say something about because the second initiation is the beginning of our meditation, it’s when we’re meant to meditate. The Gayatri mantras are all about meditating on the spiritual master, on the mercy of Lord Caitanya, on the Supreme Personality of Godhead and on His nature, on His pastimes…So this kind of thinking are important, that we work on our meditation. How can we ever rise above the material energy if it is only a struggle? If it is from, ‘I know, I know it’s not good because it entangles you, I’ve got to somehow or other detach, I know, I know…but I’m so attracted to it!’ because there’s no meditation! There must be a meditation on Krsna, it must evolve. We, in our movement, we are not against householder life. This whole chapter is about Puranjana and you can of course everyday attack the householders and do something different everyday and ‘yesterday I got them good!’ and ‘how shall I get them today? You lowly, fallen householders! Andha yathandhair upaniyamanas, the blind following the blind, wasting your time…what to do!’ One could approach it like that but we are not against household life. But when we are thinking about household life then we think about the best household life- Nanda and Yasoda in the spiritual world!
Yes, when Nanda Maharaja heard that Krsna was going to be in Kuruksetra, he decided to also go. And when they came there and when they saw Krsna, Nanda was just totally overwhelmed just seeing his son and Krsna equally so! Krsna was so overwhelmed seeing Nanda Maharaja that he just started to behave different and he started to act like a cowherd boy instead of like a Prince. So Vasudeva noticed the change in Krsna and he was a little bit shocked to see that there was such a change in Krsna, “How’s it possible?” and then Vasudeva then, he made a comment, and he said, “Well, it’s logical, it’s understandable that Krsna is so attached to Nanda Maharaja, although he’s not His real father. After all, he stayed there for quite a long time In Vrndavana.” And Nanda Maharaja he was just there and was like, “What in the world is Vasudeva talking about?” I mean he couldn’t even relate to it, “Krsna not my son, huh? I mean what rubbish you know! He is my son, Krsna! He is my son!” and his mood of accepting Krsna as his son was so overwhelming that there was just nothing else, nothing else! Jiva Goswami describes that, “how is it possible, how is it possible that Devaki, that Devaki asked Krsna to bring back her six sons who had previously died when she had already Krsna and Balarama as her sons! I mean how could she want any other sons when she had Krsna and Balarama as her sons? Who could care for six sons?” but Devaki somehow or other asked for this. “How could Vasudeva, how could Vasudeva perform a big sacrifice for material auspiciousness with the sages at Kuruksetra, when Krsna was there and everything was auspicious! Since Krsna was there what need was there to perform any sacrifice for auspiciousness when things were most auspicious when the Supreme Personality of Godhead was present!”
So in this way we are meditating on Nanda and Yasoda and how deep, how deep is there focus on Krsna! How deep is there attachment on Krsna and nothing but that! Now that’s the real household asrama! So in this way, in this way we become purified, through meditation. If we meditate on the spiritual world then gradually we can forget about the material world, that is our process. Our process is not you know, (Dramatic), ‘close the door (sniff) on Maya (sniff) it hurts…’ No, that’s not our process and then look out through the little window…no, our process is to simply increase our meditation on the spiritual world more and more and on the eternal activities of Krsna and gradually appreciate…this is what it is all about! This is really what is important. In this way we can gradually rise above. So we have to go deep in finding out more about Krsna and if we don’t do that and if we never open up the Bhagavatam, and we may be working hard for Krsna but still, that meditation is not happening. And then we’re meditating on all the things that we are not allowed to do and it’s not easy if you know what I mean, to live like that…
Okay, I have to leave in 5 minutes, so is there a question or a comment? What to do! Yes?
Maharaja: The mission of ISKCON is to meditate on Krsna and to make other people meditate on Krsna. So sooner or later you can’t separate the two. In the beginning you think that, (Dramatic) ‘the mission of ISKCON is…we will have meetings, we’ll organise and we have to keep the sankirtana vehicles oiled and so on…’ and we have to, it is a fact. But while we’re in the sankirtana vehicles, driving to the sankirtana spot, maybe one of the devotees will actually read a little bit about Krsna or about Lord Caitanya…something about the Supreme Lord and you know, it might even stick. And when you’re out there on the mission, freezing in your boots on the dark streets in winter and you’re just going up to people and just saying, ‘excuse me, are you a student?’
‘Oh great, here this is for you for reading…’ and then you do the whole thing and everyone gives a donation for the printing, ‘you don’t have to buy it, you can just give a donation…can you give a little more? It costs 30 Euros to print. But if you give 20, I’ll put in the rest…’and like that you know, because somebody just before just gave a somewhat bigger donation so it balances out- no problem! ‘…you can have it for 20!’ All right so ‘the mission, the mission, the mission!’ and then in the middle of it all, if you think a little bit about Krsna then the way that you are engaged in the mission is completely different! Then instead of austerity, then it is actually mercy.
Like how can we be compassionate unless we’re experiencing something better? You know what I mean? Think about that- the mission: ‘compassion, compassion, compassion! We’re giving out the mercy to the fallen, suffering, conditioned, demon souls with fangs and claws and everything! And we’re just compassionate…’ You can only have compassion if you have something better.
So we need to meditate on Krsna otherwise the mission becomes dry and a burden of austerity and one day we think, ‘I just, after 5 years of sankirtana, I can’t do it anymore! (Sings) it’s a sad story…!’
Any other? There’s still 2 minutes left…okay, yes?
Maharaja: Something is lacking, something is lacking. Of course one can meditate on Krsna anyway, also someone who is not second initiated can meditate on Krsna but the Gayatri mantras gives us an interesting meditation; first it makes us see that Krsna is behind everything. In the Brahma Gayatri we see that whatever we see, Krsna is behind it all, He is the source of it all. That’s where it begins. And then we realise mercy of guru, mercy of Lord Caitanya, otherwise we can’t go anywhere, otherwise we can’t understand the spiritual reality. So all these steps are very nicely there and that is very…so that is quite nice. The principle is that…I’m not talking that when I say meditation that now we have to start to meditate on rasa-lila but I’ll give you one story about meditation.
When I first got the maha mantra, I got it from a musician named Burton Green, who was doing jam sessions with me; we were doing ragas and somehow or other Burton Green, after the ragas, he said, “let’s do some mantra.” We did, and it was the maha mantra. Later I read the Lilamrta and I saw that Burton Green was a piano player, who in the Matchless Gifts storefront use to play on that string board from the piano! He used to hammer on the keys there! So I got the maha mantra in parampara through Burton Green from Prabhupada! Just see! Little did I know…and at that time the mantra was for me only sound, spiritual sound. I didn’t have any other association with it; I had no other meditation than sound. That much I knew- it’s spiritual sound. So I had a little meditation. Someone else might just think, ‘what’s this? Hare Krsna? What is it? Hare Krsna? I mean, ya, what is it, what is it?’ At least I knew it’s a mantra and it’s spiritual sound. So I knew a little more than just some ‘Joe Blo’, but I had no association…yellow dhoti, flute, peacock feather….nothing. Now you say, ‘Krsna,’ my mind goes like…Govardhana Hill… (Sings) Yamuna-tira-vana-cari. You say ‘Krsna’ and I can go for a long time by Prabhupada’s mercy because so much went in.
So with time our meditation changes and we know so much more about Krsna. In this way our Krsna consciousness really develops and at one point we become more aware that this is what it’s all about- to meditate on Krsna! Smartavyam satato visnuh vismartavyam na jatucit, to always remember Krsna and never forget Him, but one must meditate on his own level. See if I go and mediate on the asta-kaliya-lila of Radha and Krsna, I can do that but there’s one problem and the problem is that my love for Krsna- if there is any- is very small and shallow, where as Radharani’s love is very, very deep. So how can I understand Her love? I can’t. So I can read about it and theoretically understand but I cannot really understand. So therefore I may sometimes have a quick look at asta-kaliya-lila but it’s not yet the subject of my daily meditation. So one must meditate according to his level, but meditation must be there otherwise we are lost, otherwise we are just externally performing things and we’ll start experiencing it as a burden. So Gayatri is very helpful. So anyone who didn’t take second initiation should get ready for it as soon as possible! Don’t waste any time!
All right thanks a lot. It was a lot of fun. See you again in Radhadesh. You are already invited for the 30 April to Amsterdam. You write it in your agenda; there will be a free bus leaving from Radhadesh. It’s part of my birthday party! I invite everyone to come on the bus. Even Manohara has promised to come this year…isn’t it Manohara? See, he said it in front of the Deities and all of you! (Laughter) So he won’t come up with any excuses…isn’t it Manohara? (Laughter) So it’s going to be lots of fun and well, you’ve gotta be there and see what’s coming. So I’ll surely see you for that next time and I can’t wait! Time will fly and I will also fly and if I don’t go now I will not fly! (Laughter)
So thank you very much. Srila Prabhupada ki, Jaya! Sri Sri Radha Gopinatha ki, Jaya!