Srila Bhaktivinod Thakur enlightens
us on the different kinds of devotees:
Similar presentation by devotees of the Sri Sampradaya - Sri Sannidhi and Sri Vaishnavam:
Words of encouragement for the devotee from HDG Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada:
Qualification that maintain the spiritual status;
The Vaishnava Alankara mantra:
Welcoming all kinds of Vaishnavas:
Our Family the Gaudiya Mission (Math) - a Gaudiya perspective:
Vaishnava relations - from the above mentioned Gaudiya presentation:
Words to live by from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada
A Sadhu way of life:
Understanding who we are and handling posible crisis in fulfilment etc:
Being a Vaishnava in practice in this Mayik world:
Nitya-kriya - sadhana
Variety the spice of life: and various styles
A temple goers guide:
The Lord appears in ways to capture
1. “Sri Sannidhi and Sri Vaishnavam”
by Anbil Ramaswamy
PART 1: WHO IS A VAISHNAVA?
Excerpts from the talk delivered at the “Ahobila Matam Acharya Vaibhavam
Conference” held at “Rajadhani Mandir”, Chantilly, Virginia
on 1st and 2nd September 2001.
The topic allotted to me is “Sri Sannidhi and Sri Vaishnavam”
The word “Sri”, as you all know, refers to Thayar, who is known to be inseparable from Perumal and this is the fulcrum of our Siddhantam common not only to all Matams and Ashramamas but also to individual Yathis, Scholars and lay folk alike. But, how come “Ahobila Matam” alone claims to be “Sri Sannidhi” as if “Sri” is its monopoly, an apparent attempt at over-reaching! Please think it over. I will revert to this issue at the end of this talk. I would prefer to reverse the title as “Srivaishnavam and Sri Sannidhi” and discuss “Sri Vaishnavam” first.
PART 1: WHO IS A VAISHNAVA?
Simply stated, a “Vaishnava” is one who has “Sambandam” with Vishnu. “VishnOrayam Vaishnava:”
Is there anyone who does not have this Sambandam?
The word “Vishnu” is derived from the root “Vis”, which means “to enter, to envelop, to support from within and without”. There are 70 million mantras.
Most of these relate to Bhagavan Vishnu. 3 of these are known as “Vyaapka Mantras” viz. NaaraayaNa, VaasudEva and VishNu. The Vishnu Gayatri brings out the all pervasiveness of Bhagavan, especially the last one that does so most directly and explicitly.
Yasya kinchit Jagat yasmin Drisyate Srooyate pi vaa/
Anthat bahis cha ath sarvam vyaapya Naaraayana Sthitha:: //
Meaning “ Whatever there is in this universe that is seen or heard is
occupied both within and without by Sriman Narayana”
Swami Desika in his “Saarasaaram” reiterates the same adding “there is no place where He is NOT”“ nirathisaya sookshmthaiyaale sarvathilum ullum puramum ozhivara niraindhu nirkinra nilai thOtrum. Ivvidathil avan illaatha pradesam illai”
Brahmabindu Upanishad 20 also describes how He resides in all Jivas like ‘ghee in milk”. Like butter is taken out by churning with churndashery, by constantly meditating only, we can see Him”
“Grithamiva payasi nigoodam bhoote bhoote cha vasathi vigjnaanam /
sathatham manthayithavyam manasaa manthaana bhoothena”
Nammazhwar in Tiruvoimozhi 8.5.10 also refers to Him as “karandha Paalull neyye pole”. As such, there is nothing without His “Sambandam”
DOES THIS SAMBANDAM ITSELF MAKE ONE A VAISHNAVA?
It is further clarified that one who has the “Sambanda Jnaana” can be called a Vaishnava. We take a dip in Ganga, may be once a while and believe that its waters cleanse our sins. The fish that swim in the same waters all the time do not seem to have such awareness. Similarly, the awareness of one’s relationship with Vishnu becomes the sin-qua-non for one to be recognized as a “Vaishnava”.
But, even an atheist “Naastika” may have this Jnaana, if not the faith!
The answer to this is that the kind of “Jnaana” here is not “mere awareness’ but the knowledge of the “nature” of this “Sambandam”
WHAT IS THIS NATURE?
The nature of this knowledge is contained in “Pranavam”.
Kata Sruti explains this “Pranava Lakshanam”
Akaarena uchyate Vishnu: Sarva bhootho Hari:/
Udhrutya Vishnunaa lakshmee kaarena Uchyate tathaa/
Makaaras thu thayor daasa ithi Pranavalakshanam//
Pranavam is composed of three syllables, A, U and Ma.. “A” represents
the Supreme Lord Vishnu called “Hari”. The syllable “U” represents “only”.
It also represents Thayar who is inseparable from Vishnu. ”Ma” represents
that the Jiva is their eternal servant (Daasa:). One who realizes the relationship
in this manner alone can be called a “Vaishnava”.
Swami Desika defines a Vaishnava” as “Vishnu Seshatva Daasatva Jnaanam ullavan” i.e. “ One who understands oneself as a dependent and a servitor of Vishnu. Elsewhere, he defines a Bhaagavata as “Bhagavad Seshatva Jnaana Rasikarai” i.e. “ One who enjoys being dependent on and “Servitor” to Bhagavaan”
HOW CAN ANYONE BE A “RASIKA” OF THIS SERVITUDE?
As the saying goes: “Sarvam Paravasam Duhkam”.
Serving someone is indeed sorrowful. That is why everyone wants to be a “Swa tantra Rasika” and not “Para tantara Rasika”.
Being subservient to those with karma vaasanas is indeed regrettable.
As everyone in this world is subject to Karma and Trigunas and consequentlyof
evil tendencies, service to them is unpleasant. The Saastras declare that
Bhagavaan’s Divyamangala Vigraham (the form of the Lord) is “Apraakritam”
and “Suddha Sattvam”; that He is possessed of bunches of innumerable auspicious
qualities (asankhyeya Kalyana guna gana) and that He is totally bereft
of all evil tendencies (Akhila Heya Pratyneeka). So, being a Daasa to such
a benevolent and beneficent master can only result in supreme bliss without
any tinge of unpleasantness.
In Srimad Ramayana, Ilayaperumal says “Gunair Daasyam upaagatha:” “I have become a slave to your auspicious qualities”.
Prahlada declares this when he says-
“Yatra kutra kulE vaaso Yashu Keshu cha bhavosthu mE/
Thava Daasyaika BhogE syaath sadhaa sarvatra mE mathi:”
“In whatever Kula I may be born, in whatever place I may reside, in whichever Janmam I may take = please grant me the wisdom to remember forever that service to you is the highest bliss”
Another dimension that defines a “Vaishnava” is the Jnaanam that we are all “Vishnu-putras” i.e. “Children of Vishnu”. More than His Jnaana (Knowledge) which helps in exposing our faults and Sakti (Capacity) that seeks to enforce justice through punishment, His “Daya” (Mercy) which condones our sins is powerful. As His “Putras”, we imbibe the quality of mercy. Hence, a “Vaishnava” is one who not only sympathizes but also actually empathizes with others” miseries. If one gloats over another’s misfortune, one cannot be called a “Vaishnava” says Nanjeeyar.
“Oruvanukku Vaishnavatvam undu, illai yennumidam theriyum kaaNN. Pirar
anartham kandaal ‘AiyO’ yenru iranguvaanaagil avan namakku Vaishnavatvam
undu yenru irukka adukkum; ‘Ithanaiyum Vendum paTTiduvaanukku’ yenru
Irundaanaagil avan namakku Vaishnavatvam illai yenru irukka adukkum”
HOW DO WE ACQUIRE THIS?
By being merciful. Only if we show mercy, we can deserve mercy.
“naa datham upathishtatE”
WELL. WHAT DOES A DAASA DO?
He does all that is pleasurable to the Lord (Aanukoolya Sankalpam). He avoids all that is against the wishes of the Lord (Praatikoolya Varjanam)
These two form the important parts (angas) of SaraNaagathi, along with Mahaaviswaasam, Kaarpanyam and Goptrutva varanam, which will be explained in greater detail while discussing the Cardinal principle of Vaishnavam viz., “SaraNaagathi”. But, before that, the question arises:
WHAT PLEASES THE LORD AND WHAT DISPLEASES HIM?
Lord Krishna answers this in Bhagavad Gita 16/24
Thasmaath Saastram Pramaanam thE kaarya akaarya vyavasthithou/
Jnaatvaa Saastra Vidhaanoktham karma karthum arhasi”//
“Therefore, in determining what is to be done and what should be avoided,
it is only Saastras that provide the authority. Following these guidelines,
you regulate your activities”
In Vishnu Dharmam 6.31, the Lord very emphatically declares ( as given in Saastreeya Niyamana Adhikara of Srimad Rahasya Traya Saaram
“Sruthi Smruthi Mamaiva Agjnaa ya: tham ullanghya varthathE /
Aagjnaa chEdhi mama drohi mad bhaktopi na vaishnava:”
“Sruti (Vedas and Vedantas) and Smruthi (Itihaasa, Puranas etc) are
verily my commandments. Those who transgress them are traitors (Drohi)
to me. Even if they claim to be my Bhaktas, they cannot be Vaishnavas”
It follows that “Vishnu Bhakta” is different from “Vaishnava” and that only he /she who follows scrupulously the dictates of Saastras (which are nothing but the commandments of the Lord) is really a “Vaishnava”.
THE CRANE, THE HEN, THE SALT AND THE VAISHNAVA
A Vaishnava of Srirangam once asked Paraasara Bhattar about the characteristics of a true Vaishnava. Bhattar asked him to go to Tirumalai Anantaazhwaan to seek an answer. He did not get a direct answer to his query, but got a novel experience!. On the first day, during Tadheeya Araadhanai, he was asked to occupy the innermost of the 7 rows reserved for the chosen few known for their Anushtaanam. On subsequent days, he was relegated successively to the outer rows. On the day he was occupying the outermost row, Anantazhwaan beckoned him and told that a true Vaishnava would be “like a crane, a crow, a pinch of salt and finally like the Vaishnava himself”.
‘Kokkaippol iruppaan, Kozhiyaippol iruppan, Uppaippol iruppaan, Ummaippol iruppaan”.
 ‘Kokkaippol iruppaan : Like the crane which patiently waits
till it gets the kind of fish it needs to feed on, a true Vaishnava will
patiently search for a proper Acharya and stay tuned to him.
 Kozhiyaippol iruppaan : Like the hen which concentrates on securing the grain it needs to feed and discards all else as trash, a true Viashnava would turn a blind eye to others’ faults but would seek to imbibe the essence of Saastras.
 Uppaippol iruppaan : Like salt that imparts taste to the food while dissolving itself, a true Vaishnava would be self effacing while imparting flavor to the lives of others.
 Ummaippol iruppaan : Like the Srirangam Vaishnava in question, he would not feel elated on being honored and would not feel depressed or offended even when disregarded.
Finally, the Vaishnava got his answer. And, we also get educated on this.
“Vaishnavam” also means “Vaishamya Jnaanam”- understanding the differences between-
i. The impermanent Body and the Interminable Soul
ii. Unevolved Samsaris and Evolved souls having Vaishnavalakshanam
iii. Paradevata (Lord Mahaavishnu) and Devatantaras (other deities)
iv. Satguru (Acharya who instructs on the way to reach Godhead) and other Preceptors who merely teach mundane subjects.
v. Mantra Raja (Ashtaksharam) and other Mantras
vi. Siddhopaaya (The Lord who is already there to protect the souls) and Saadhyopaaya, The means adopted to seek His protection)
vii. Paratvam ( The transcendental State of the Lord in His Nitya Vibhoothi of Parama padam) and Archaa His appearance in our temples, hearths and homes out of utmost compassion towards us)
viii. Parama Purushaartham (Moksham) and other Purushaarthas. (Dharma, Aartha and Kaama)
TWO KINDS OF VAISHNAVAS
(i) Abhyaantaram Those who have Jnaana (deep Knowledge of the Saastras), Bhakti (intense devotion to the Lord), Vairaaghyam (a total sense of detachment to worldly and material interests)etc.
(ii) Baahyam Those who appear with external insignia of Names (Naama), forms (Roopa) and conversing with technical parlance (Pari Baasha) with or without the qualities mentioned above.
THREE KINDS OF VAISHNAVAS
(i) Satkaara Yoghyar Fit to be respected only on account of Naama, Roopa, Baasha etc mentioned above
(ii) Sahavaasa Yoghyar Those who, in addition to those at (i) above, are known for their impeccable “anushTAnam” (Practices as laid down in the Saastras) . It is desirable to seek to be in their company, for securing one’s own spiritual elevation.
(iii) Sadhaanubhava Yoghyar - Those who are endowed with (i) and (ii) above, in such an abundant measure that their Jnaana, Bhakti, Viraaghya and AnushTAna etc. which can be discerned even at first sight. Anyone coming into contact with them, will yearn for their company “SamslEsham” and will feel depressed when being away from them. (VislEsham)
TEN KINDS OF VAISHNAVAS
(i) AdvEshi: Those who do not entertain any hatred.
(ii) Anukoola: Those who are proactively helpful
(iii) Naamadhaari: Those who can be distinguished by their names
(iv) Chakraankhi: Those who have had their “Pancha Samskaram” or “SamaasrayaNam” with cauterization of the sign of Lord’s disc.
(v) Mantrapathi: Those who have been duly initiated in the Ashtaakshara Mantra by their Acharyas.
(vi) Vaishnava: Those who practice Bhakti and give up worship of Devataantaras for Moksha
(vii) SriVaishnava: Those who meditate upon Sriya:Pathi incessantly.
(viii) Prapanna: Those who have done “Prapatti” i.e. “SaraNAgathi”
(ix) Ekaanthi: Those who believe that Lord Vishnu ALONE is the means (Upaaya) and the end (UpEya) and NOT EVEN Prapatti.
(x) Paramaikaanthi: Those who do not ask for EVEN MOKSHA.
See more on Different Kinds of Vaishnavas from the perspective of Srila Bhaktivinod Thakura's Sri Chaitanya Shikshamrita HERE:
Vaishnava Alankara - decoration mantra to wear around one's neck
trinäd api sunichena
taror api sahishnunä
kirtaniyah sadä harih
[Sri Chaitanya charitamrita. Ädi-lila 17:31]
tåëät api—than downtrodden grass; su-nécena—being lower; taroù—than a tree; iva—like; sahiñëunä—with tolerance; amäninä—without being puffed up by false pride; mäna-dena—giving respect to all; kértanéyaù—to be chanted; sadä—always; hariù—the holy name of the Lord.
“One who thinks himself lower than the grass, who is more tolerant than a tree, and who does not expect personal honor yet is always prepared to give all respect to others can very easily always chant the holy name of the Lord.”
It is not that one only carve these words out of wood and physically wear these words around one's neck as we have seen some Vaishnavas do, rather we take the inner meaning of these words to heart and in so doing wear them. The external represenatation of some beads or words may help, but interalizing the meaning of this in practice is what is mean by "wearing these words around one's neck".
Krsna Consciousness means
We should always be satisfied and happy,
Not that we must work something impossible,
Become overburdened and then,
Because we are unhappy by so much trouble,
We lose enthusiasm and give up all hope.
By all means we must preserve our spiritual status, that is the point.
Not that we are mad after big buildings,
Many devotees, life members, this, that______
No. These are only the ways to engage the devotees,
So that they may apply the principles
Of devotional service to some kind of work.
It is not the result of the work that we want.
If we sincerely preach
To only one person a day,
That is sufficient,
Never mind big, big programs.
So do not be bothered by these things.
Krsna does not like to see His sincere devotee
Suffer or become frustrated or depressed.
He will not stand idly by, in such a case,
So do not fear on that account.
Krsna has a plan for you,
Always think in that way
And very soon He will provide
Everything to your heart's desire.
Letter from Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to Tejiyas dasa (9th December 1972)
Put in the form of a poem.
Sädhu-märgänugamanam, ädau gurväçrayaà sad-dharma-påcchät sädhu-märgänugamanam
Mr. Malhotra: How Giriräja,
I just ask you, how you took to all these good things of life? I mean in
natural form or with some self-discipline or with some coercion or with
Giriräja: It was Prabhupäda’s mercy. I was looking for a guru. Actually whenever I heard there was a swami or a yogi, I would always go, even hundreds of miles. But I was never satisfied. But Çréla Prabhupäda perfectly satisfied all of my questions. And I liked the process, chanting, dancing, taking prasädam, offering ärati, and I liked the devotees. It was very pleasing. So I immediately decided this is my real life.
Mr. Malhotra: No, but not taking any wheat, like on ekädaçé day, all such things.
Giriräja: That’s training. Once we surrender to the spiritual master, then he trains us in the process of spiritual life.
Prabhupäda: Sädhu-märgänugamanam, ädau gurväçrayaà sad-dharma-påcchät sädhu-märgänugamanam.(?) These are the process.
Mr. Malhotra: Sädhu-märga.
Giriräja: We study the çästras every morning and evening in all of our centers, so we become educated. (break) (Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad Room Conversation with Life Member Mr Malhotra. 22nd December 1976. Poona)
Simply we have given up the process of speculation. Now we accept the guru as our life and soul.
Guru himself is strictly following in the teachings of his guru maharaj, who is following the teachings of his guru maharaj (param guru, parama guru, para-para guru, paramesthi guru, maha guru, all the way back to the Adi Guru, Lord Balaram and Lord Sri Krishna).
There is no question of inventing
something. If we are at all honest we know that our lives are totally dependent
on the mercy of the Lord, why then would one try to take shelter of something
or someone else???
The recipe for mid-life crisis would be to lament thus; “what I regret about the follies of youth is not having committed them but not being able to do so again”
Look at Crisis and look at Fulfillment
Devi bhagavat incident with Narad
Once, and to illustrate how the mind of the 'Jiva' becomes covered by the illusory potency of the Lord, He by His unfathomable 'Will' gave Narad Muni (the personality who is often used by the Lord to symptomise the actions or thoughts of us 'jivas') what he wanted when he inquired about his chances of enjoying separately from him, material life. Lord Visnu assured Narad that material life only occurs due to the influence of 'Maya', the enchantress. Narad then asked if he could see that 'Maya' (illusion). Thus Lord Visnu, on the request of Narad covered him (Jiva), and turned him into an attracive female. The story begins:
"...Lord Visnu riding on the back of Garuda, along with Narada leaves Vaikuntha heading for the material world. Crossing forests, rivers, cities, lakes, villages and mountain they finally reached Kanyakubja. There they saw what appeared to be a beautiful lake. Garuda landed and Lord Visnu and Narad descended from him. Together they walked along the shore of the lake (an aspect of the sacred Viraj nadi), for quite some time. For a while they sat together under the shade of the same tree. Then Lord Visnu said to Narad that it was time for him to take his bath in the lake. Pleased at the suggestion of enjoying, Narad immediately gave his deer-skin and vina to the Lord who kept them next to Himself, on the shore awaiting Narad's return. Then Narad washed his face in the waters, then his feet, and performed 'acaman' sipping water libations, with sacred 'kusha' grass, and finally stepped into the water and immersed himself, bloop!
What a surprise! When Narad came out of the waters his spiritual form ('svarup') had assumed the external form ('bahya') of a woman of stunning beauty. She had no memory of her previous birth.
She came from out of the water and stood there on the shore of the lake admiring the scenary, and watching the surroundings there. Then a king called Taaladhvaj ('one who is like the fruit of the taal palm; or palm bannered one', (Maneka Gandhi, 1992. Book of Hindu Names. page 433.) came by on horse-back and addressed the beautiful damsel as Saubhagyasundari, 'a beautiful maiden of fortune' (Maneka Gandhi, 1992. Book of Hindu Names. page 383.), and started talking with her. Within hours they were married, and Taaladhvaj took her to his palace and spent their honey-moon there together.
Twelve years passed, and Saubhagyasundari became pregnant, and in due course gave birth to a son called Viravarmaa. After another two years she got another son, Sudharmaa. Every two years after that she gave birth, for twenty four years, becoming the mother of twelve sons. After some time she bore eight more sons also. When all the twenty sons had grown they were all married 'according to family tradition', and in due course each of them had sons. Thus Taaladhvaj and Saubhagyasundari became the heads of a veritable dynasty, of children and grandchildren, and lived happily.
However, one day a king and his army who came from a distant place marched on Kanyakubja and surrounded it. In the battle that followed most of Saubhagyasundari's son's and grandsons were killed. The king fled from the battle-field and returned to the palace. Saubhagyasundari was in such distress for her family members that when the opposing king finally left the area with his men, she went down to the battlefield and searched among the dead, and dying for her a last look at her son's and grandson's. the sight terrified her, the mutilated bodies lying there, some without heads, other without limbs too, their eyes protruding, their stomach's cut open, intestines lying out and blood everywhere. She fell to the blood sodden ground and wept bitterly.
Then Lord Visnu appeared, but in the guise of an old brahmin and spoke with her. He gave her instructions on the nature of materialistic life, and its futilities. Saubhagyasundari then called for her king Taaladhvaj and together they went to seek out the reservior where they had first met so many years before, as instructed by the old brahmin. Saubhagyasundari now quite realised did as the brahmin had told her to do entered into the waters. Lo!!! She became Narad Muni again!
When Narad got up from the lake's waters Lord Visnu was standing there with Narad's deer-skin, and vina, and smiling at him. Seeing Lord Visnu standing there in this way invoked rememberance of what had happened. For a moment Narad stood there recounting in his memory what had happened.
'Come on Narad finish your bath, you're such a dreamer! what are you thinking about?' Lord Visnu said to him.
Perplexed at seeing his wife now gone, and a mendicant standing there before him Taaladhvaj Maharaj asked where she had gone. Lord Visnu went to him to console him saying, 'that all these ties that we have in this world are ephemeral', and encouraged him to take his (purifying) bath in the lake. Taaladhvaj after his bath was disspassionate to the affairs of the material world and after performance of penance in that forest attained moksa, release too!"(Devi Bhagavat Purana. 8th Skandha.; Vettam Mani. 1964. Puranic Encyclopaedia. page 784.)
When things are not as they seem to be:
It is often said that you can tell a lot of the character of a person by how they act, however this is not always the case. Sometimes people try to hide their real inner feelings and desires which then comes out in other, and sometimes strange exhibitions or manifestation of those desires. In Ayurveda that is called Bhuta graha…
Here the readers may find it interesting to look through some of the
researched shastra on the nature of the soul (jiva)
as well as arguments that reveal some misconceptions in deviant philosophies;
ek atma vaad etc. We are convinced that if we know who we are and what
we're not then we will have a much better chance of re-establishing our
loving relationship with the Lord and give up the unwanted desires to enjoy
in a seperated manner, like thieves who have stollen the booty and shamefully
hide away from the real owner to utilize those items. Recognizing His right
of ownership and free from envy of His position as Swatantra
we can again serve Him with love.
"The best way out of a difficulty is through it"
Bhagavad Gita's Chapter 6 Dhyana-yoga
kam gatim krsna gacchati
Arjuna said: O Krsna, what is the destination of the unsuccessful transcendentalist, who in the beginning takes to the process of self-realization with faith but who later desists due to worldly-mindedness and thus does not attain perfection in mysticism?
The path of self-realization or mysticism is described in the Bhagavad-gita. The basic principle of self-realization is knowledge that the living entity is not this material body but that he is different from it and that his happiness is in eternal life, bliss and knowledge. These are transcendental, beyond both body and mind. Self-realization is sought by the path of knowledge, by the practice of the eightfold system or by bhakti-yoga. In each of these processes one has to realize the constitutional position of the living entity, his relationship with God, and the activities whereby he can reestablish the lost link and achieve the highest perfectional stage of Krsna consciousness. Following any of the above-mentioned three methods, one is sure to reach the supreme goal sooner or later. This was asserted by the Lord in the Second Chapter: even a little endeavor on the transcendental path offers a great hope for deliverance. Out of these three methods, the path of bhakti-yoga is especially suitable for this age because it is the most direct method of God realization. To be doubly assured, Arjuna is asking Lord Krsna to confirm His former statement. One may sincerely accept the path of self-realization, but the process of cultivation of knowledge and the practice of the eightfold yoga system are generally very difficult for this age. Therefore, despite constant endeavor one may fail, for many reasons. First of all, one may not be sufficiently serious about following the process. To pursue the transcendental path is more or less to declare war on the illusory energy. Consequently, whenever a person tries to escape the clutches of the illusory energy, she tries to defeat the practitioner by various allurements. A conditioned soul is already allured by the modes of material energy, and there is every chance of being allured again, even while performing transcendental disciplines. This is called yogac calita-manasah: deviation from the transcendental path. Arjuna is inquisitive to know the results of deviation from the path of self-realization.
chinnabhram iva nasyati
vimudho brahmanah pathi
O mighty-armed Krsna, does not such a man, who is bewildered from the path of transcendence, fall away from both spiritual and material success and perish like a riven cloud, with no position in any sphere?
There are two ways to progress. Those who are materialists have no interest in transcendence; therefore they are more interested in material advancement by economic development, or in promotion to the higher planets by appropriate work. When one takes to the path of transcendence, one has to cease all material activities and sacrifice all forms of so-called material happiness. If the aspiring transcendentalist fails, then he apparently loses both ways; in other words, he can enjoy neither material happiness nor spiritual success. He has no position; he is like a riven cloud. A cloud in the sky sometimes deviates from a small cloud and joins a big one. But if it cannot join a big one, then it is blown away by the wind and becomes a nonentity in the vast sky. The brahmanah pathi is the path of transcendental realization through knowing oneself to be spiritual in essence, part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, who is manifested as Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan. Lord Sri Krsna is the fullest manifestation of the Supreme Absolute Truth, and therefore one who is surrendered to the Supreme Person is a successful transcendentalist. To reach this goal of life through Brahman and Paramatma realization takes many, many births (bahunam janmanam ante). Therefore the supermost path of transcendental realization is bhakti-yoga, or Krsna consciousness, the direct method.
etan me samsayam krsna
chettum arhasy asesatah
chetta na hy upapadyate
This is my doubt, O Krsna, and I ask You to dispel it completely. But for You, no one is to be found who can destroy this doubt.
Krsna is the perfect knower of past, present and future. In the beginning of the Bhagavad-gita, the Lord said that all living entities existed individually in the past, they exist now in the present, and they continue to retain individual identity in the future, even after liberation from the material entanglement. So He has already cleared up the question of the future of the individual living entity. Now, Arjuna wants to know of the future of the unsuccessful transcendentalist. No one is equal to or above Krsna, and certainly the so-called great sages and philosophers who are at the mercy of material nature cannot equal Him. Therefore the verdict of Krsna is the final and complete answer to all doubts, because He knows past, present and future perfectly--but no one knows Him. Krsna and Krsna conscious devotees alone can know what is what.
partha naiveha namutra
vinasas tasya vidyate
na hi kalyana-krt kascid
durgatim tata gacchati
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Son of Prtha, a transcendentalist engaged in auspicious activities does not meet with destruction either in this world or in the spiritual world; one who does good, My friend, is never overcome by evil.
In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.5.17) Sri Narada Muni instructs Vyasadeva as follows:
tyaktva sva-dharmam caranambujam harer
bhajann apakvo 'tha patet tato yadi
yatra kva vabhadram abhud amusya kim
ko vartha apto 'bhajatam sva-dharmatah
“If someone gives up all material prospects and takes complete shelter
of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there is no loss or degradation
in any way. On the other hand a nondevotee may fully engage in his occupational
duties and yet not gain anything.” For material prospects there are many
activities, both scriptural and customary. A transcendentalist is supposed
to give up all material activities for the sake of spiritual advancement
in life, Krsna consciousness. One may argue that by Krsna consciousness
one may attain the highest perfection if it is completed, but if one does
not attain such a perfectional stage, then he loses both materially and
spiritually. It is enjoined in the scriptures that one has to suffer the
reaction for not executing prescribed duties; therefore one who fails to
discharge transcendental activities properly becomes subjected to these
reactions. The Bhagavatam assures the unsuccessful transcendentalist that
there need be no worries. Even though he may be subjected to the reaction
for not perfectly executing prescribed duties, he is still not a loser,
because auspicious Krsna consciousness is never forgotten, and one so engaged
will continue to be so even if he is lowborn in the next life. On the other
hand, one who simply follows strictly the prescribed duties need not necessarily
attain auspicious results if he is lacking in Krsna consciousness.
The purport may be understood as follows. Humanity may be divided into two sections, namely, the regulated and the nonregulated. Those who are engaged simply in bestial sense gratifications without knowledge of their next life or spiritual salvation belong to the nonregulated section. And those who follow the principles of prescribed duties in the scriptures are classified amongst the regulated section. The nonregulated section, both civilized and noncivilized, educated and noneducated, strong and weak, are full of animal propensities. Their activities are never auspicious, because while enjoying the animal propensities of eating, sleeping, defending and mating, they perpetually remain in material existence, which is always miserable. On the other hand, those who are regulated by scriptural injunctions, and who thus rise gradually to Krsna consciousness, certainly progress in life. Those who are following the path of auspiciousness can be divided into three sections, namely (1) the followers of scriptural rules and regulations who are enjoying material prosperity, (2) those who are trying to find ultimate liberation from material existence, and (3) those who are devotees in Krsna consciousness. Those who are following the rules and regulations of the scriptures for material happiness may be further divided into two classes: those who are fruitive workers and those who desire no fruit for sense gratification. Those who are after fruitive results for sense gratification may be elevated to a higher standard of life--even to the higher planets--but still, because they are not free from material existence, they are not following the truly auspicious path. The only auspicious activities are those which lead one to liberation. Any activity which is not aimed at ultimate self-realization or liberation from the material bodily concept of life is not at all auspicious. Activity in Krsna consciousness is the only auspicious activity, and anyone who voluntarily accepts all bodily discomforts for the sake of making progress on the path of Krsna consciousness can be called a perfect transcendentalist under severe austerity. And because the eightfold yoga system is directed toward the ultimate realization of Krsna consciousness, such practice is also auspicious, and no one who is trying his best in this matter need fear degradation.
prapya punya-krtam lokan
usitva sasvatih samah
sucinam srimatam gehe
The unsuccessful yogi, after many, many years of enjoyment on the planets of the pious living entities, is born into a family of righteous people, or into a family of rich aristocracy.
The unsuccessful yogis are divided into two classes: one is fallen after very little progress, and one is fallen after long practice of yoga. The yogi who falls after a short period of practice goes to the higher planets, where pious living entities are allowed to enter. After prolonged life there, one is sent back again to this planet, to take birth in the family of a righteous brahmana vaisnava or of aristocratic merchants.
The real purpose of yoga practice is to achieve the highest perfection of Krsna consciousness, as explained in the last verse of this chapter. But those who do not persevere to such an extent and who fail because of material allurements are allowed, by the grace of the Lord, to make full utilization of their material propensities. And after that, they are given opportunities to live prosperous lives in righteous or aristocratic families. Those who are born in such families may take advantage of the facilities and try to elevate themselves to full Krsna consciousness.
atha va yoginam eva
kule bhavati dhimatam
etad dhi durlabhataram-
loke janma yad idrsam
Or [if unsuccessful after long practice of yoga] he takes his birth in a family of transcendentalists who are surely great in wisdom. Certainly, such a birth is rare in this world.
Birth in a family of yogis or transcendentalists--those with great wisdom--is praised herein because the child born in such a family receives a spiritual impetus from the very beginning of his life. It is especially the case in the acarya or gosvami families. Such families are very learned and devoted by tradition and training, and thus they become spiritual masters. In India there are many such acarya families, but they have now degenerated due to insufficient education and training. By the grace of the Lord, there are still families that foster transcendentalists generation after generation. It is certainly very fortunate to take birth in such families. Fortunately, both our spiritual master, Om Visnupada Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja, and our humble self had the opportunity to take birth in such families, by the grace of the Lord, and both of us were trained in the devotional service of the Lord from the very beginning of our lives. Later on we met by the order of the transcendental system.
tatra tam buddhi-samyogam
yatate ca tato bhuyah
On taking such a birth, he revives the divine consciousness of his previous life, and he again tries to make further progress in order to achieve complete success, O son of Kuru.
King Bharata, who took his third birth in the family of a good brahmana, is an example of good birth for the revival of previous transcendental consciousness. King Bharata was the emperor of the world, and since his time this planet has been known among the demigods as Bharata-varsa. Formerly it was known as Ilavrta-varsa. The emperor, at an early age, retired for spiritual perfection but failed to achieve success. In his next life he took birth in the family of a good brahmana and was known as Jada Bharata because he always remained secluded and did not talk to anyone. And later on he was discovered as the greatest transcendentalist by King Rahugana. From his life it is understood that transcendental endeavors, or the practice of yoga, never go in vain. By the grace of the Lord the transcendentalist gets repeated opportunities for complete perfection in Krsna consciousness.
- His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
We can see from the above statement of His Divine Grace that there is
a facility in place for those who either do not complete the process due
to various reasons and find a need to come back again, and also the same
process is there to facilitate advanced souls to come and walk among us.
................when there are things we cannot or will not face he
cleverly organizes our life in such a way that we cannot avoid facing the
challenges. Factually we cannot avoid. Crisis arrive on schedule every
five years or so, and we have to deal with them as they come. Sometimes
we try to avoid them, making various plans and arrangements, often elaborate,
but mostly futile, for what we avoid now we face later. The purpose of
these challenges or crisis is that we have certain attachments in this
world which are actually burdening us down, and stopping us from progresing.
Sometimes we see that as crisis have come persons side stepped them, but
only to find that in the time of flux in their life (for women 35+ and
for men 40+) for a few years as we look to see what our direction is in
life and how we will achieve that, and with a body that is winding down,
out of despiration to enjoy some go into “mid-life crisis”. Symptoms are
that the old man buys himself a little red sports car and goes off with
his 19 year old girl friend or the Femme Fatale (elderly lady) also in
denial runs off with her “toy boy”. Still the challenges are not being
faced, instead the emphasis is on what they think they missed out on…..
Finally if the crisis is not dealt with as years go on, then at death all
the things that one wanted to do but didn’t, all manner of lusty desires,
all present themselves. Such a presentation then forces one, by one’s attachments
to these things to again accept a material body and again try to fathom
a way to seek out permanent enjoyment in this temporal world !!!
Saturn has the wonderful service of getting us through such periods of change, sometimes showing us scary pictures of where we are going as if holding a mirror image of ourselves to the light. The intent is to help us get through these difficult time to make us introspective and empower us to move on. So he has a thankless task. In most us living entities do not want to see these harsh realities, we’d prefer to take it easy and search out the pleasures of the world, but Saturn again presents the hurdle that so many times we’ve carefully avoided, each time we have the option to face it or to run away. Each time again it is re-scheduled for re-presentation, until we face up to ourselves, who we are, and all the things we have done, and wipe the slate / score sheet clean.
To overcome such posible crisis needs surrender to the will of the Lord through loving devotional service. The Lord knows each of our circumstances, so there's no need of big big show, He knows our hearts. If we simply love Him and try to render service to Him and to His devotees then all short comings will be taken care of and reconcilled in due course of time.
Many of the Acharyas of different families (sampradayas) have echoed the same things; no matter where I take my birth, let it be in that place where pure devotional service to the Supreme Lord in some capacity is going on, then all perfection will be attained.
"While located in the mayik world man must live peacefully with the object of cultivating the spirit. In his society he must lead a pure life, avoid sins and do as much good as he can to his brother man. He must be himself humble bearing difficulties of life with heroism, must not brag of any goodness or grandeur he has and must treat everyone with the respect due to him. Marriage with a view to peaceful and virtuous life and with a view to procreate servants of the Lord is a good institution for a Vaishnava. Spiritual cultivation is the main object of life. Do everything that helps it and abstain from doing anything which thwarts the cultivation of the spirit. Have a strong faith that Krishna alone protects you and NO ONE ELSE. Admit Him as your only guardian. Do everything which you know Krishna wishes you to do and never think that you do a thing independent of the holy wish of Krishna. Do all that you do with humility. Always remember that you are a sojourner is this world and you must be prepared for your own home. Do your duties and cultivate bhakti as a means to obtain the great end of life, Krishna-priti. Employ your body, mind and spirit in the service of the Deity. In all your actions, worship the Great Lord. Do these with your heart, mind and strength in the company of spiritual people alone, and you will see Krishna in no time."
Srila Sac-Cid Ananda Bhaktivinoda Thakur Prabhupad 1896