A lecture given by HH Kadamba Kanana Swami Maharaja, 20 April 2010, Durban, South Africa
We’re reading from the Srimad Bhagavatam, 11th Canto, chapter 9, “Detachment from all that is material,” text 27:
jihvaikato ‘mum apakarsati karhi tarsa
sisno ‘nyatas tvag udaram sravanam kutascit
ghrano ‘nyatas capala-drk kva ca karma-saktir
bahvyah sapatnya iva geha-patim lunanti
Translation: A man who has many wives is constantly harassed by them. He is responsible for their maintenance, and thus all the ladies constantly pull him in different directions, each struggling for her self-interest. Similarly, the material senses harass the conditioned soul, pulling him in many different directions at once. On one side the tongue is pulling him to arrange tasty food; then thirst drags him to get a suitable drink. Simultaneously the sex organs clamor for satisfaction, and the sense of touch demands soft, sensuous objects. The belly harasses him until it is filled, the ears demand to hear pleasing sounds, the sense of smell hankers for pleasant aromas, and the fickle eyes clamor for pleasing sights. Thus the senses, organs and limbs, all desiring satisfaction, pull the living entity in many directions.
The pushing’s of the senses
So here the senses are compared to co-wives who are all in competition with one another. And that is not necessarily a competition based on envy but it may just be based on needs, on actual needs. In this world we’re always in competition for our needs. That is the nature of this material existence. So rather, the image projected in this verse is showing us a situation where one has no peace. The senses are one after the other, or sometimes simultaneously, pushing us. That is the point:
vaco vegam manasah krodha-vegam
The pushing’s of mind, body, words and all the various sensual pushes. So devotees, they also experience the same thing, but we should at least deal with these pushings with intelligence. At least we should judge- is this actually beneficial? etavaj janma-saphalyam dehinam iha dehisu, that the embodied being should look for the long term benefit, sreya-acaranam sada. So that’s how we judge with intelligence: is this enjoyment that the senses now want, is this beneficial? Is it long term beneficial? And if it is not then one should practice to say no. It is not easy to say no but one can practice. By regular practice and by being in good association, one can gradually bring the senses under control on the strength of knowledge.
Material and spiritual taste
Still, balavan indriya-gramo vidvamsam api karsati, the senses are so strong that even a man of learning is weak. That is a fact. But Krsna consciousness is based on the principle of higher taste and the predominant taste in this day and age is being merciful. The main taste is giving others the mercy of Krsna consciousness because that is the yuga dharma. So if we simply are absorbed in our own bhajana it will not be so easy to get taste, to get really enough taste. There may be taste for Krsna- taste for serving, taste for hearing, taste for many Krsna conscious activities- but yet it doesn’t seem to immediately diminish our material conditioning. Still our material desires are also there and are also pushing. So we have both- taste for material things and taste for spiritual things.
But the material taste doesn’t offer us much hope. There may be attraction to the material energy but in reality we know that it’s not very realistic whatever we’ve desired there in terms of enjoyment. We know that most likely what we’ll get is very limited in terms of the enjoyment that is available in the material world. So with that understanding we can at least gradually give up our faith for sense gratification. I have coined the phrase, a declaration of ‘no faith in sex.’ That should be the basic principle. The attraction may be there but do you really think that it would lead to happiness? That’s life. The reality is not that these activities would lead to happiness. They may offer some temporary gratification for a few moments and then again the same restlessness of being bombarded by the same senses endlessly pushes us along, continues again and again. Therefore it’s not a solution. Rather one must engage the senses in devotional service and that must be practiced.
The essence is serving Krsna
In the beginning it may be a little difficult; there may be some bhoga and tyaga, there may be some struggle. But that’s really the initial stages. Gradually, gradually devotional service takes over. It becomes more meaningful to us and gradually the material things….we lose faith, we gradually see that it’s really not worth all the effort. So with time we can become properly situated in devotional service. In the beginning one may think, ‘it will never work, I’ll never make it,’ but that’s not a fact, that’s only the beginning struggle. And then with time one becomes nicely situated in spiritual life. So we should go forward with great faith and even if there are failures, that should not be taken too serious. That’s just the temporary affliction and one will rise above if we simply continue serving Krsna. So the essence is that one should serve Krsna with great enthusiasm and great force.
akamah sarva-kamo va
yajeta purusam param
Go forward, tivrena bhakti, undiluted; one should really apply himself to the process of devotional service. And thus Srila Prabhupada stressed it that we should always be engaged and he tried to arrange this movement in such a way that there was ample opportunity to be always engaged.
Don’t be independent
Unfortunately, many of us are too independent; we engage in devotional service but according to our own choice and our own liking. And really, it’s better if one can surrender to a vaisnava and let the vaisnavas advise us what devotional service we should do. At least one should always be within the blessings of the arrangements of the vaisnavas. If that is absolutely there, at least that much, then we are protected otherwise we are not protected. If we simply act according to our own plans, we may be, within Krsna consciousness, we may not be, but we must always seek blessings of the senior vaisnavas because only then are we sure. If they say it’s all right, then we are safe. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have to watch out for maya but our general activities will not lead to new anarthas. But if we begin to pursue our own ideas, then it could be difficult.
Jayadvaita Maharaja once said, if we would leave it up to the devotees to seek out their own engagement, then ISKCON would become like a big band with a few roadies! (Laughter) So many people want to be musicians, so many people! And the rest want to be roadies- follow the festival, travel around and so on. But Srila Prabhupada had a totally different idea and he thought that the distribution of transcendental literature was so important. And many of us thought, ‘well, it’s important but so important, that we are going to put it in front of anything and everything else?’ For a while it used to be like that in our movement. Even in South Africa, it has been like that; there has been a time where book distribution was very much in the foreground. Cape Town were the stalwarts and Pretoria was going strong and even Durban was coming along- a little less because Durban is a place of Deity worship. No matter what you do, it’s hard to change! Here Deity worship has always been and probably always will be very much in the forefront. It’s also a way of preaching because many people come for the darsana. So in Durban everyone is a pujari! But also everything is arranged for that; the trees are producing ample flowers for puja in the morning! Everyone is plucking flowers all over the place…you don’t see that all around the world actually! In some places, but Durban is a little more than other places. All right, I guess different places haves different natures…
Bhajana alone will not do
But, I must say, that Pankajangri, in Mayapur, he said, “you know, bhajana alone will not do. You have to preach!” And when he said that, ‘well,’ I thought, ‘if it doesn’t work for him then it’s never going to work for me!’ They are way ahead of anything I’ve ever done, these two brothers, in terms of bhajana. And shoo, if he after all these years came to that conclusion then I’ll think, well, I’ll just stick with what I’m doing already- preaching. But acara and pracara, both are required. We need to go deep in our own sadhana, in our own chanting, in our own reading. And Srila Prabhupada’s complaint still stands, “my complaint is that my disciples don’t read my books.” Prabhupada’s complaint, that’s a big issue and what are we doing about it? Nothing! That’s the issue! So maybe we can take that point to heart and make an endeavor to realize that Prabhupada’s complaint still stands for us also. The same laziness, same laziness…
But then, after that, if we don’t preach it will be very difficult, very difficult to get deep taste in Krsna consciousness. Very difficult. Even pujaris, who are having a lot of taste, are preachers. They think of how to preach through their puja. Preaching, if it’s not part of our spiritual life, sooner or later, it will become dry because the taste is really in selflessly giving to others and that’s where we can get out of that dilemma situation where we are caught between attraction to Krsna and attraction to our own senses- both. And this constant dilemma is there in the life of most devotees. And only if we really begin to think about the welfare of others can we become so absorbed that gradually our desires for sense gratification become, ‘anyway, let’s forget about it!’ That’s how it goes…
So, no matter how we arrange it, our movement is primarily a preaching movement. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta is of course the founder of the first organized Gaudiya mission. Prior to him there was no such thing as an institutional endeavor and well, Srila Prabhupada, when he founded ISKCON he took whatever he could preserve from the Gaudiya Math he did preserve. Some things he had just did according to the needs of the Western world and Prabhupada also writes in his purports in the Caitanya Caritamrta that preaching must be adjusted according to kala-desa-patra, time, place and circumstances, and therefore that the standard for one country doesn’t necessarily apply for another country. Obviously he was referring to India; that the standard in India is different than the standard elsewhere. That may be but Prabhupada maintained many standards of the Gaudiya Math.
The Bhagavata- viddhi and the Pancaratriki viddhi
In the Gaudiya Math, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta use to explain that, he said that there are these two aspects of spiritual life- the Bhagavata-viddhi and the pancaratriki viddhi. The Bhagavata-viddhi is the process of glorification of Krsna; hearing and chanting and remembering about Krsna. And then the Pancaratriki viddhi… so he said, the pancaratriki viddhi can never stand on its own legs; it always needs the leg of Bhagavata-viddhi. So in other words all Deity worship must be accompanied by the Bhagavata-viddhi, by hearing and chanting and particularly in sankirtana. If Deity worship is not accompanied by sankirtana, it cannot stand. One can through that not actually attain perfection, he is explaining. He said, but the Bhagavata-viddhi can stand independent; it doesn’t depend on the pancaratriki viddhi. The pancaratriki viddhi is offering support but the process of harinama sankirtana in itself contains everything one requires. All one’s transcendental dietary requirements are found within sankirtana. You won’t get any deficiency. I’m still remembering the B12 shot from yesterday…and the next one coming! So, I thought it was a nice analogy from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta explaining how these two aspects are there and we need both. Pancaratriki helps us in becoming regulated and without being regulated, it’s very difficult to apply ourselves to sankirtana because then we’ll never conquer our laziness.
Laziness is so deeply rooted and it just basically means that we have no more capacity to perform austerity. When the legs of the bull, Dharma, were broken, austerity was one of them that was gone. So the result is that everything is too austere in this age of Kali and it goes on the whole day (dramatic), ‘Oh! Do I have to do all this? Oh…!’ Everything is a burden and we have this tendency to do half work or to get out of it. Whatever responsibility we have we always want to get out of it. ‘Oh! Oh! Can I get out of this! Can I get out of that!’ Get out of everything! The mind is constantly thinking, ‘how can I get out of this?’ and then we come with excuses, (dramatic), ‘it’s too much of a burden for me and I really have to take a step back you know…’ Even one more step back? How many steps can you take! Already so many steps back and still one more? What’s going to happen next? One more step back, one more step back…the classical example of the man with the camera! ‘Just one more step back…’ Someone did it to me actually; it’s one of my childhood traumas! I was in the boys scouts and they played a game with me and it was ‘one more step back, one more step back’ and I fell in a hole in the ground to the basement- 3 meters down! (Dramatic) Then I came out (shows fist)…oh well, the material world!
So yes, pancaratriki is very important because it forces us to take responsibility because with the Deities you can’t mess. You don’t mess around with the Deities, you know. If you have to cook for someone, oh well you know, sort of throw some pasta in the water and here’s lunch again! Ding! But for the Deities you can’t really do that and so on and so on. It’s just like…yesterday we had an appointment and my driver said, ‘oh we’ll leave at a quarter to four’- it wasn’t the driver actually, it was the organizer! And I said, yeah and then we’re going to be those 5 minutes late, the eternal 5 minutes late that everyone is always 5 minutes late. ‘Oh, it’s all right…’ So I said no, we’re going to leave a little earlier. So there is this mood, the ‘5 minute late’ mood. With the Deities, 5 minutes late is serious right. I mean it’s like (taps watch), ‘you’re 5 minutes late Prabhu!’ By the way, the Durban time is always late! It’s not synchronized with the official South Africa standard time if you really want to know! So they built that in; they just put the whole temple 5 minutes late, without an extra 5 minutes! Even in the Deity worship, because the 5 minute syndrome is so deeply rooted that rather we change the whole clock 5 minutes and even our Deity worship can be 5 minutes late and we can feel perfectly good about it! But Prabhupada pointed out that punctuality….what did he say? Punctuality, simplicity and number 3, what was it again Swarup? Three things in Deity worship? Cleanliness I guess…yeah, cleanliness, punctuality and simplicity. That’s interesting. These are the three things he stressed about Deity worship. Interesting that simplicity is one them because these days it gets more and more fancy- in some places, not everywhere!
I’m not attacking the pujaris although pujaris may feel attacked in this lecture! But I’ll quote one speaker who said that, ‘I’m not out to attack anyone but if the shoe fits…’ (Laughter) So Srila Bhaktisiddhanta stressed that the only reason why he maintained temples and he said the Gaudiya Math is maintaining temples for only one purpose- preaching! And didn’t we see that same mood in Srila Prabhupada? Preaching, preaching, preaching, preaching…it’s like you definitely find the word preach more than you find the word peach in Srila Prabhupada’s vocabulary! If you look in the Vedabase…I did it long ago but I remember it was over 16 000 hits just the word preach, and I didn’t put a star because if you put a star you get more. So that was a lot of hits…
So we have to look at the temple as the headquarters, as the main base for where we somehow or other reach out. Otherwise what will happen is, the temple will become a museum and people will become like…those people that stand in a museum to keep an eye on things. What you call them in English? What’s the word?
Maharaja: Curator! Correct! Exactly! I forgot that word. Yes, so then we become like curators. We stand in the temple, (dramatic), quietly in a corner, ‘Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna…’someone comes… ‘yes, the Deities are on that side…’ (Laughter) So some temples in our movement have become like that. Again, if the shoe fits it fits, but you know…I’m not targeting any temple in particular, I really am not…I have other things to do, but if it does then one can think about it…
We still remember that lecture or story of how the first December marathon was discovered by accident and Ramesvara’s story…that Ramesvara had gone out and it was just amazing! They had gone out at Christmas time and so many books were distributed and he just went on and on and on and you know, beyond the normal time and he just went till midnight! And he did a huge number of books and he thought to himself that, ‘everyone in the temple must be waiting for me and I better go back because they’ll think what has happened and I’ve surely broken the world record of book distribution…’ and he came back to the temple and he was the first one back! And then at 1 ‘o clock, 2 ‘o clock the others started coming in and everyone was just like totally excited and everyone had done so many books and everyone was bubbling and everyone was beyond themselves! And it is true, it is true that this bubbling experience after a whole day of preaching is there at night, a little milk and some cookies and a little more…! Some are going for the full plate- whatever! At night a little prasadam and all the devotees are there after a day of preaching and exchanging stories…shoo! It’s exciting! It’s definitely exciting! It makes you feel you belong to something, to an exciting movement and that something’s going on. Whereas at night, if the gate is closed and we put our bottle of milk on the altar and sort of pray for blessings…it’s auspicious and it is very nice but we don’t get the same level of excitement. Not in this age. We don’t have that capacity.
So something must be done to just somehow or other give Krsna consciousness to others. I suggested that if in South Africa we have 3000 people who give 10 000 books as gifts to their friends and family- they’ll purchase them and they give them away- then we would have 30 000 books distributed in a year, which is you know, not bad! Then we could do 30 000 Gitas every year. And 3000 people we can get easy; when Lokanatha Maharaja has kathas there are 3000 people here! So we should get him to push it. So simple things like that, which are not hard to do- 10 birthday gifts- that can be done, what to speak of other things…
Of course I’m not converted to book distribution per say, I admit. One, BBT conference, it impressed me but it didn’t completely convert my heart and that from this day on I’ll say, ‘I’m going to be a book distributor!’ No, it’s not like that. I will help book distribution but I also want to do other things in my life and may be you also didn’t become completely converted from the BBT conference as yet and to say, ‘and from this day on, I’m going to be a book distributor.’ But we can do something, let’s not be miserly…you know, they organized that conference because they obviously wanted that we would do something. That was the whole idea about it. I mean they went through so much endeavor and then if I see like Jayadvaita Maharaja, with his terrible health, like he stays in the room and if you see how many pills he has, it’s inconceivable! And all the other things he has to do for his health. And if I think how much he traveled and how much he tried, then I’m thinking, ‘Come on Kadamba Kanana Swami, you should do something, and he is your guru!’ Okay…So I’m going to do something to push book distribution and I’m going to push the South African National Council for their meeting of May 2nd! A whole plan Swarup! E-mail bombardment! (Laughter)
We must be willing
Yes, but it all begins with the willingness of each individual to do some preaching. It’s really if we are willing, then we’ll do if we want to. If we don’t want to, no matter how many conferences, no matter how big the hype they create, (dramatic), ‘no, not moving!’ But if we don’t move we will not get the same level of taste and we will not rise above the dilemma of being attracted both to Krsna and the material energy. That’s the bottom line, it really is. And it’s quite an adjustment and of all things that amongst preaching, this book distribution (dramatic) ‘that that’s really given so much emphasis!’ but it is, it is, Prabhupada did that and gave it so much emphasis. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura did that; he established that and we can’t get around it. See, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta was one person who would not be interested to adjust whatever he had to say to his audience. Whether people liked it or not, he was a straight shooter! And yes, maybe we don’t like all the things he said and started. And Prabhupada was just so surrendered and he just, whatever his spiritual master thought was important, Prabhupada just embraced it completely. He never begrudgingly sort of executed the order of his spiritual master. He went for it! And if only we could be the same, then our movement would be flying!
Of course flying is dangerous these days, at least in Europe..! I’m going on the maiden flight tonight of Lufthansa, the first one, going to try it out. They didn’t fly through the clouds, they flew under the clouds! So it’s going to be manually flown, not by computer. And traffic control is going to guide the whole flight. So anyway, if I crash then these were my last words… ‘if the shoe fits!’ (Laughter)
Devotee: Take some books with you…
Maharaja: Yeah, and last minute I’ll quickly, ‘here read this!’ as the plane is going down… ‘can you give a donation?’ (Laughter) Not to worry about it, let’s see what happens…and planes fly by prayers you know! So no problem; you can all pray and the plane will just fly. But one military plane went through the ash clouds and had damage on the engine, the government says. Of course, they have to say because the airlines have been so much on their case. It was only a government plane that had damage.
Politics all over and this is how we live in this world; our lives are in the hand of politicians who use us as pawns and what to do…If you thought I was speaking about ISKCON, I can only say one thing…’if the shoe fits!’ (Laughter) What else shall I say as my farewell words, now that I’m leaving and I’m not sure for how long…could be for longer than we think, till the next life!
So, the senses will push us and push us and push us and to rise above material desires, it may not so easily happen. So the thing is to get absorbed, absorbed in service really. That’s it! So we should really get more engaged. Those devotees in the early days who were out on harinama, for 8 hours a day, they were ecstatic devotees. And I always say, for Africa we need something like that, maybe 4 hours a day…for African devotees definitely because it’s scientifically proven that they have more energy than anybody else! When everyone else is dead and finished, the African devotees, they can still go out in harinama. I have seen. So go, go, go, go…everyday for 4 hours! Of course the TP can overrule everything I say; that’s what TP’s can do (laughter). But the principle is there…I think more harinama and more book distribution will bring more life, will bring more happiness and will help. I will recommend it especially for Africa. For everywhere actually- not only for Africans- but others may be get tired after two hours!
Okay, let’s see if you have a question or a comment…or a complaint? This is your last chance c’mon…a complaint, c’mon! Any complaint? There’s always a complaint…No complaints? I don’t believe this! Everyone always has a complaint; I have many!
Okay then, so now I am formerly saying goodbye and thanking all the devotees for all their kindness, their affection and good care and everything else and hope to see you soon, somewhere on this side or the other…
Hare Krsna! Srila Prabhupada ki, Jaya!