Relief from Material Distress
In Bhagavad-gita, the Lord says that one should surrender unto Him, giving up all other engagements. The Lord also gives His word there that He will protect surrendered souls from the reactions of all sinful activities. Srila Rupa
Gosvami says that the distresses from sinful activities are due both to the sins themselves and to sins committed in our past lives. Generally, one commits sinful activities due to ignorance. But ignorance is no excuse for evading the reaction–sinful activities. Sinful activities are of two kinds: those which are mature and those which are not mature. The sinful activities for which we are suffering at the present moment are called mature. The many sinful activities stored within us for which we have not yet suffered are considered immature. For example, a man may have committed criminal acts, but not yet been arrested for them. Now, as soon as he is detected, arrest is awaiting him. Similarly, for some of our sinful activities we are awaiting distresses in the future, and for others, which are mature, we are suffering at the present moment.
In this way there is a chain of sinful activities and their concomitant distresses, and the conditioned soul is suffering life after life due to these sins. He is suffering in the present life the results of sinful activities from his past life, and he is meanwhile creating further sufferings for his future life. Mature sinful activities are exhibited if one is suffering from some chronic disease, if one is suffering from some legal implication, if one is born in a low and degraded family or if one is uneducated or very ugly.
There are many results of past sinful activities for which we are suffering at the present moment, and we may be suffering in the future due to our present sinful activities. But all of these reactions to sinful deeds can immediately be stopped if we take to Krsna consciousness. As evidence for this, Rupa Gosvami quotes from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Eleventh Canto, Fourteenth Chapter, verse 19.
This verse is in connection with Lord Krsna’s instruction to Uddhava, where He says, “My dear Uddhava, devotional service unto Me is just like a blazing fire which can burn into ashes unlimited fuel supplied to it.” The purport is that as the blazing fire can burn any amount of fuel to ashes, so devotional service to the Lord in Krsna Consciousness can burn up all the fuel of sinful activities. For example, in the Gita Arjuna thought that fighting was a sinful activity, but Krsna engaged him on the battlefield under His order, and so the fighting became devotional service. Therefore, Arjuna was not subjected to any sinful reaction.
Srila Rupa Gosvami quotes another verse from the Third Canto of Srimad- Bhagavatam, Thirty-third Chapter, verse 6, in which Devahuti addresses her son, Kapiladeva, and says, “My dear Lord, there are nine different kinds of devotional service, beginning from hearing and chanting. Anyone who hears about Your pastimes, who chants about Your glories, who offers You obeisances, who thinks of You and, in this way, executes any of the nine kinds of devotional service–even if he is born in a family of dog-eaters [the lowest grade of mankind]–becomes immediately qualified to perform sacrifices.” As such, how is it possible that anyone actually engaged in devotional service in full Krsna
consciousness has not become purified? It is not possible. One who is engaged in Krsna consciousness and devotional service has without doubt become freed from all contaminations of material sinful activities. Devotional service therefore has the power to actually nullify all kinds of reactions to sinful deeds. A devotee is nevertheless always alert not to commit any sinful activities; this is his specific qualification as a devotee. Thus Srimad-Bhagavatam states that by performing devotional service a person who was born even in a family of dog- eaters may become eligible to take part in the performance of the ritualistic ceremonies recommended in the Vedas. It is implicit in this statement that a person born into a family of dog-eaters is generally not fit for performing yajna, or sacrifice. The priestly caste in charge of performing these ritualistic ceremonies recommended in the Vedas is called the brahmana order. Unless one is a brahmana, he cannot perform these ceremonies.
A person is born in a brahmana family or in a family of dog-eaters due to his past activities. If a person is born in a family of dog-eaters it means that his past activities were all sinful. But if even such a person takes to the path of devotional service and begins to chant the holy names of the Lord–Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare. Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare– he is at once fit to perform the ritualistic ceremonies. This means that his sinful reactions have immediately become neutralized.
It is stated in the padma Purana that there are four kinds of effects due to sinful activities, which are listed as follows: (1) the effect which is not yet fructified, (2) the effect which is lying as seed, (3) the effect which is already mature and (4) the effect which is almost mature. It is also stated that all these four effects become immediately vanquished for those who surrender unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Visnu, and become engaged in His devotional service in full Krsna consciousness.
Those effects described as “almost mature” refer to the distress from which one is suffering at present, and the effects “lying as seed” are in the core of the heart, where there is a certain stock of sinful desires which are like seeds. The Sanskrit word kutam means that they are almost ready to produce the seed, or the effect of the seed. “An immature effect” refers to the case where the seedling has not begun. From this statement of padma Purana it is understood that material contamination is very subtle. Its beginning, its fruition and results, and how one suffers such results in the form of distress, are part of a great chain. When one catches some disease, it is often very difficult to ascertain the cause of the disease, where it originated and how it is maturing. The suffering of a disease, however, does not appear all of a sudden. It actually takes time. And as in the medical field, for precaution’s sake, the doctor injects a vaccination to prevent the growing of contamination, the practical injection to stop all the fructifications of the seeds of our sinful activities is simply engagement in Krsna consciousness.
In this connection, Sukadeva Gosvami speaks in the Sixth Canto of Srimad- Bhagavatam, Second Chapter, verse 17, about the story of Ajamila, who began life as a fine and dutiful brahmana, but in his young manhood became wholly corrupted by a prostitute. At the end of his wicked life, just by calling the name “Narayana [Krsna],” he was saved despite so much sin. Sukadeva points out that austerity, charity and the performance of ritualistic ceremonies for counteracting sinful activities are recommended processes, but that by performing them one cannot remove the sinful desire-seed from the heart, as was the case with Ajamila in his youth. This sinful desire-seed can be removed only by achieving Krsna consciousness. And this can be accomplished very easily by chanting the maha-mantra, or Hare Krsna mantra, as recommended by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In other words, unless one adopts the path of devotional service, he cannot be one-hundred-percent clean from all the reactions of sinful activities.
By performing Vedic ritualistic activities, by giving money in charity and by undergoing austerity, one can temporarily become free from the reactions of sinful activities, but at the next moment he must again become engaged in sinful activities. For example, a person suffering from venereal disease on account of excessive indulgence in sex life has to undergo some severe pain in medical treatment, and he is then cured for the time being. But because he has not been able to remove the sex desire from his heart, he must again indulge in the same thing and become a victim of the same disease. So medical treatment may give temporary relief from the distress of such venereal disease, but unless one is trained to understand that sex life is abominable, it is impossible to be saved from such repeated distress. Similarly, the ritualistic performances, charity and austerity which are recommended in the Vedas may temporarily stop one from acting in sinful ways, but as long as the heart is not clear, one will have to repeat sinful activities again and again.
Another example given in Srimad-Bhagavatam concerns the elephant who enters into a lake and takes a bath very seriously, cleansing his body thoroughly. Then as soon as he comes onto shore he again takes some dust from the earth and throws it over his body. Similarly, a person who is not trained in Krsna consciousness cannot become completely free from the desire for sinful activities. Neither the yoga process nor philosophical speculations nor fruitive activities can save one from the seeds of sinful desires. Only by being engaged in devotional service can this be done.
There is another evidence in the Fourth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Twenty- second Chapter, verse 39, wherein Sanat-kumara says, “My dear King, the false ego of a human being is so strong that it keeps him in material existence as if tied up by a strong rope. Only the devotees can cut off the knot of this strong
rope very easily, by engaging themselves in Krsna consciousness. Others, who are not in Krsna consciousness but are trying to become great mystics or great ritual performers, cannot advance like the devotees. Therefore, it is the duty of everyone to engage himself in the activities of Krsna consciousness in order to be freed from the tight knot of false ego and engagement in material activities.”
This tight knot of false ego is due to ignorance. As long as one is ignorant about his identity, he is sure to act wrongly and thereby become entangled in material contamination. This ignorance of factual knowledge can also be dissipated by Krsna consciousness, as is confirmed in the Padma Purana as follows: “Pure devotional service in Krsna consciousness is the highest enlightenment, and when such enlightenment is there, it is just like a blazing forest fire, killing all the inauspicious snakes of desire.” The example is being given in this connection that when there is a forest fire the extensive blazing automatically kills all the snakes in the forest. There are many, many snakes on the ground of the forest, and when a fire takes place, it burns the dried foliage, and the snakes are immediately attacked. Animals who have four legs can flee from the fire or can at least try to flee, but the snakes are immediately killed. Similarly, the blazing fire of Krsna consciousness is so strong that the snakes of ignorance are immediately killed.
Krsna Consciousness Is All-auspicious
Srila Rupa Gosvami has given a definition of auspiciousness. He says that actual auspiciousness means welfare activities for all the people of the world. At the present moment groups of people are engaged in welfare activities in terms of society, community or nation. There is even an attempt in the form of the United Nations for world-help activity. But due to the shortcomings of limited national activities, such a general mass welfare program for the whole world is not practically possible. The Krsna consciousness movement, however, is so nice that it can render the highest benefit to the entire human race.
Everyone can be attracted by this movement, and everyone can feel the result. Therefore, Rupa Gosvami and other learned scholars agree that a broad propaganda program for the Krsna consciousness movement of devotional service all over the world is the highest humanitarian welfare activity.
How the Krsna consciousness movement can attract the attention of the whole world and how each and every man can feel pleasure in this Krsna consciousness is stated in the Padma Purana as follows: “A person who is engaged in devotional service in full Krsna consciousness is to be understood to be doing the best service to the whole world and to be pleasing everyone in the world. In addition to human society, he is pleasing even the trees and animals, because they also become attracted by such a movement.” A practical example of this was shown by Lord Caitanya when He was traveling through the forests of Jharikhanda in central India for spreading His sankirtana movement. The tigers, the elephants, the deer and all the other wild animals joined Him and were participating, in their own ways, by dancing and chanting Hare Krsna.
Furthermore, a person engaged in Krsna consciousness, acting in devotional service, can develop all the good qualities that are generally found in the demigods. It is said by Sukadeva Gosvami in the Fifth Canto of Srimad- Bhagavatam, Eighteenth Chapter, verse 12, “My dear King, persons who have unflinching faith in Krsna and are without any duplicity can develop all the good qualities of the demigods. On account of a devotee’s high grade of Krsna consciousness, even the demigods like to live with him, and therefore it can be understood that the qualities of the demigods have developed within his body.”
On the other hand, a person who is not in Krsna consciousness has no good qualities. He may be highly educated from the academic point of view, but in the actual field of his activities he can be seen to be baser than the animals. Even though a person is highly educated academically, if he cannot go beyond the sphere of mental activities then he is sure to perform only material activities and thus remain impure. There are so many persons in the modern world who have been highly educated in the materialistic universities, but it is seen that they cannot take up the movement of Krsna consciousness and develop the high qualities of the demigods.
For example, a Krsna conscious boy, even if he is not very well educated by the university standard, can immediately give up all illicit sex life, gambling, meat-eating and intoxication, whereas those who are not in Krsna consciousness, although very highly educated, are often drunkards, meat-eaters, sexmongers and gamblers. These are practical proofs of how a Krsna conscious person becomes highly developed in good qualities, whereas a person who is not in Krsna consciousness cannot do so. We experience that even a young boy in Krsna consciousness is unattached to cinemas, nightclubs, naked dance shows, restaurants, liquor shops, etc. He becomes completely freed. He saves his valuable time from being extravagantly spent in the way of smoking, drinking, attending the theater and dancing.
One who is not in Krsna consciousness usually cannot sit silently even for half an hour. The yoga system teaches that if you become silent you will realize that you are God. This system may be all right for materialistic persons, but
how long will they be able to keep themselves silent? Artificially, they may sit down for so-called meditation, but immediately after their yogic performance they will engage themselves again in such activities as illicit sex life, gambling, meat-eating and many other nonsensical things. But a Krsna conscious person gradually elevates himself without endeavoring for this so-called silent meditation. Simply because he is engaged in Krsna consciousness he automatically gives up all this nonsense and develops a high character. One develops the highest character by becoming a pure devotee of Krsna. The conclusion is that no one can truly have any good qualities if he is lacking Krsna consciousness.
Happiness in Krsna Consciousness
Srila Rupa Gosvami has analyzed the different sources of happiness. He has divided happiness into three categories, which are (1) happiness derived from material enjoyment, (2) happiness derived by identifying oneself with the Supreme Brahman and (3) happiness derived from Krsna consciousness.
In the tantra-sastra Lord Siva speaks to his wife, Sati, in this way: “My dear wife, a person who has surrendered himself at the lotus feet of Govinda and who has thus developed pure Krsna consciousness can be very easily awarded all the perfections desired by the impersonalists; and beyond this, he can enjoy the happiness achieved by the pure devotees.”
Happiness derived from pure devotional service is the highest, because it is eternal. The happiness derived from material perfection or understanding oneself to be Brahman is inferior because it is temporary. There is no preventing one’s falling down from material happiness, and there is even every chance of falling down from the spiritual happiness derived out of identifying oneself with the impersonal Brahman.
It has been seen that great Mayavadi (impersonalist) sannyasis–very highly educated and almost realized souls–may sometimes take to political activities or to social welfare activities. The reason is that they actually do not derive any ultimate transcendental happiness in the impersonal understanding and therefore must come down to the material platform and take to such mundane affairs. There are many instances, especially in India, where these Mayavadi sannyasis descend to the material platform again. But a person who is fully in Krsna consciousness will never return to any sort of material platform. However alluring and attracting they may be, he always knows that no material welfare activities can compare to the spiritual activity of Krsna consciousness.
The mystic perfections achieved by actually successful yogis are eight in number. Anima-siddhi refers to the power by which one can become so small that he can enter into a stone. Modern scientific improvements also enable us to enter into stone, because they provide for excavating so many subways, penetrating the hills, etc. So anima-siddhi, the mystic perfection of trying to enter into stone, has also been achieved by material science. Similarly, all of the yoga-siddhis, or perfections, are material arts. For example, in one yoga- siddhi there is development of the power to become so light that one can float in the air or on water. That is also being performed by modern scientists. They are flying in the air, they are floating on the surface of the water, and they are traveling under the water.
After comparing all these mystic yoga-siddhis to materialistic perfections, we find that the materialistic scientists try for the same perfections. So actually there is no difference between mystic perfection and materialistic perfection. A German scholar once said that the so-called yoga perfections had already been achieved by the modern scientists, and so he was not concerned with them. He intelligently went to India to learn how he could understand his
eternal relationship with the Supreme Lord by means of bhakti-yoga, devotional service.
Of course, in the categories of mystic perfection there are certain processes which the material scientists have not yet been able to develop. For instance, a mystic yogi can enter into the sun planet simply by using the rays of the sunshine. This perfection is called laghima. Similarly, a yogi can touch the
moon with his finger. Though the modern astronauts go to the moon with the help of spaceships, they undergo many difficulties, whereas a person with mystic perfection can extend his hand and touch the moon with his finger. This siddhi is called prapti, or acquisition. With this prapti-siddhi, not only can the perfect mystic yogi touch the moon planet, but he can extend his hand anywhere and take whatever he likes. He may be sitting thousands of miles away from a certain place, and if he likes he can take fruit from a garden there. This is prapti-siddhi.
The modern scientists have manufactured nuclear weapons with which they can destroy an insignificant part of this planet, but by the yoga-siddhi known as isita one can create and destroy an entire planet simply at will. Another perfection is called vasita, and by this perfection one can bring anyone under his control. This is a kind of hypnotism which is almost irresistible. Sometimes it is found that a yogi who may have attained a little perfection in this vasita mystic power comes out among the people and speaks all sorts of nonsense, controls their minds, exploits them, takes their money and then goes away.
There is another mystic perfection, which is known as prakamya (magic). By this prakamya power one can achieve anything he likes. For example, one can make water enter into his eye and then again come out from within the eye. Simply by his will he can perform such wonderful activities.
The highest perfection of mystic power is called kamavasayita. This is also magic, but whereas the prakamya power acts to create wonderful effects within the scope of nature, kamavasayita permits one to contradict nature–in other words, to do the impossible. Of course, one can derive great amounts of temporary happiness by achieving such yogic materialistic perfections.
Foolishly, people who are enamored of the glimmer of modern materialistic advancement are thinking that the Krsna consciousness movement is for less intelligent men. “I am better off being busy with my material comforts– maintaining a nice apartment, family and sex life.” These people do not know that at any moment they can be kicked out of their material situation. Due to ignorance, they do not know that real life is eternal. The temporary comforts of the body are not the goal of life, and it is due only to darkest ignorance that people become enamored of the glimmering advancement of material comforts. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has therefore said that the advancement of material knowledge renders a person more foolish, because it causes one to forget his real identity by its glimmer. This is doom for him, because this human form of life is meant for getting out of material contamination. By the advancement of material knowledge, people are becoming more and more entangled in material existence. They have no hope of being liberated from this catastrophe.
In the Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya it is stated that Prahlada Maharaja, a great devotee of the Lord, prayed to Nrsimhadeva (the half-lion, half-man incarnation) as follows: “My dear Lord, I repeatedly pray unto Your lotus feet that I may simply be stronger in devotional service. I simply pray that my Krsna consciousness may be more strong and steady, because happiness derived out of Krsna consciousness and devotional service is so powerful that with it one can have all the other perfections of religiousness, economic development, sense gratification and even the attainment of liberation from material existence.”
Actually, a pure devotee does not aspire after any of these perfections, because the happiness derived from devotional service in Krsna consciousness is so transcendental and so unlimited that no other happiness can compare to it. It is said that even one drop of happiness in Krsna consciousness stands beyond comparison with an ocean of happiness derived from any other activity. Thus, any person who has developed even a little quantity of pure devotional service can very easily kick out all the other kinds of happiness derived from
religiousness, economic development, sense gratification and liberation.
There was a great devotee of Lord Caitanya known as Kholaveca Sridhara, who was a very poor man. He was doing a small business selling cups made from the leaves of plantain trees, and his income was almost nothing. Still, he was spending fifty percent of his small income on the worship of the Ganges, and with the other fifty percent he was somehow living. Lord Caitanya once revealed Himself to this confidential devotee, Kholaveca Sridhara, and offered him any opulence he liked. But Sridhara informed the Lord that he did not want any
material opulence. He was quite happy in his present position and wanted only to gain unflinching faith and devotion unto the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya. That is the position of pure devotees. If they can be engaged twenty-four hours each day in devotional service they do not want anything else, not even the happiness of liberation or of becoming one with the Supreme.
In the Narada-pancaratra it is also said that any person who has developed even a small amount of devotional service doesn’t care a fig for any kind of happiness derived from religiousness, economic development, sense gratification or the five kinds of liberation. Any kind of happiness derived from religiousness, economic development, liberation or sense gratification cannot even dare to enter into the heart of a pure devotee. It is stated that as the personal attendants and maidservants of a queen follow the queen with all respect and obeisances, similarly the joys of religiousness, economic development, sense gratification and liberation follow the devotional service of the Lord. In other words, a pure devotee does not lack any kind of happiness derived from any source. He does not want anything but service to Krsna, but even if he should have another desire, the Lord fulfills this without the devotee’s asking.