Review of Bhakti Vriksha Program
February 3, 2001
The program was held at the abode of Gaura Nitai and Guna Manjari prabhus. We
appreciate their hospitality which, of course, included an array of amazing
prasadam (extremely ecstatic donuts also). We also had very nice kirtan.
It has been an interesting experiment thus far, to read about japa and
discuss japa first and then to chant one round simultaneously. This method has
been working quite well although we have not been discussing our personal
sadhana because our group continues to expand and expand. We do not have ample
time to accommodate everyone. Our group may be splitting into two in the not so
The reading was from Japa Walks, Japa Talks by Satsvarupa Maharaj.
Some of the main points include the fact that japa should be given the utmost
priority as we were discussing last week. It should not be done while driving or
while engaged in any other activity. We have to make time for our japa and our
service and we will see that japa and other services complement each other. In
combination, chanting and service help to facilitate our meditation on Krishna.
Chanting does not steal time from other activities nor does it take up time in a
linear sense of the word. It is our lifeline and it is how we pray.
One very important question arose while discussing japa and it was,
"What does it mean to meditate on the acaryas, gurus, or on other advanced
devotees?" We devised the fact that we often cannot meditate on Krishna
directly so we need to follow the example of the acaryas as the demonstrators of
devotional service. The spiritual masters are always engaged in meditation on
Krishna so if we meditate on them, we indirectly meditate on Krishna also. The
prayers to the spiritual master remind us:
Prati-ksanasvadana-lolupasya /Vande guroh sri-caranaravindam."
The spiritual master is always eager to hear and chant
about the unlimited conjugal pastimes of Radhika and Madhava, and Their
qualities, names, and forms. The spiritual master aspires to relish these at
every moment. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a
Narottama Prabhu has proposed a new format for us so that we will maintain
focus during our discussion group. We now receive our homework questions and
talk about those specifically. Our assignment was to finish chapter one of the
First Canto and answer thirteen questions. Some of our discussion arose as
Several of the first few questions address the qualities of the speaker as
well as the hearer. The speaker must be in the line of disciplic succession
outlined by the recognized acaryas and the listener must be submissive and eager
to hear. Suta Goswami is a qualified speaker in the line of Vayasadeva and the
sages of Naimisaranya are eager to hear and they incessantly glorify the
spiritual master, Suta Goswami.
Text fourteen says that the holy name of Krishna is feared by fear
personified. What we understand from this description is that the Lord's name
is non-different from him and that it protects us from death. Fear is only
active due to impending death. Death is the greatest fear but if we take shelter
of the holy name we can raise our consciousness even at the time of death and
take a higher birth or even go back to Godhead. We can take shelter of the Lord
which means that we take shelter of the pure devotee.
The pure devotee helps to dispel our ignorance and such devotees are known as
Visnupada or Prabhupada, having taken shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord. The
spiritual master can purify us at once by their instructions whereas the Ganges
sanctifies only after prolonged use. By the mercy of the spiritual master, we
may make spiritual advancement right away. We should always feel that we are
serving the feet of the pure devotees and indirectly the lotus feet of the Lord
because this is our humble position. The Lord's feet are imprinted with lotus
flowers and are above any of the modes of material nature. The lotus feet of the
Lord are discussed in text fifteen. (see C.c. Adi-lila 14.1)
Secular people who are too much engrossed in material sense enjoyment even
deny the existence of the Lord and are therefore opposed to the propogation of
the holy name. They are unaware of the transcendental nature of the holy name.
All their plans for material enjoyment always end in disaster. We are able to
practically see the ramifications of a Godless world society which attempts to
make plans for so-called advancement and enjoyment what with the abortion issue,
technological advancement and Prabhupada's famous example of the United
Nations. The United Nations is meant to keep peace, but where can peace be found
either materially or spiritually? Thus far, secular leaders have no knowledge of
how to create a peaceful society because they do not have knowledge of Krishna.
Glorifying the Lord will help the people in general to gradually cease trying to
lord it over the material nature. This subject matter appears in text sixteen.
In text seventeen, the material world is compared to a cinema. We have
practical experience that we are spectators and not doers. So many situations
are out of our control. We are attracted to the illusory energy of Krishna and
we take this to be the all-in-all just as when watching a cinema we may become
emotionally moved or captivated as if the proceedings were real. This material
world is a real experience but it is not our natural position. Our
constitutional position is to be in the spiritual world where the bliss that we
long for actually exists. This world is but a perverted shadow of the spiritual
realm. We should use our intelligence and meditate on our eternal benefit as
well as that of all the living entities.
When we think of our spiritual relationship with Krishna, we begin to perform
devotional service. This is the work of the bhakta or devotee. The jnanis
are interested in austere, dry mental speculation and they often have some
hidden motives for sense gratification. Karmis feel they can exploit the
material nature for their extended sense gratification. These people are too
engrossed in the material conception of life and do not even give very much
thought as to the purpose of life. They unfortunately think that this material
life is the all-in-all.
The devotee is always interested in hearing and speaking about the Lord's
transcendental activities. Transcendental literatures never lose their vitality.
They are eternal, always have auspicious benefits, and they are always fresh and
new. Unlike mundane literature, they always uplift us; they never degrade our
consciousness. Texts eighteen, nineteen, and twenty discuss the pastimes of the
Lord and the sages' unending interest in hearing about them. The sages mention
their concern for the materially engrossed people of the Kali yuga also in these
verses. They had the foresight to know our present condition.
We discussed up to this point. Several more questions remain. Some other
ideas to keep in mind regarding the last verses of the chapter are the different
means of self-realization throughout the four yugas, Satya-yuga:
meditation, Treta-yuga: sacrifice, Dvapara-yuga: deity worship,
and the Kali-yuga: the chanting of the holy name. The chanting of the
holy name is the only auspicious quality of this Kali-yuga in which people live
short lives. The acaryas help us to cross the ocean of nescience in this
Thank you for your attention. The notes seem to become more lengthy as we
delve more deeply into the Bhagavatam. Haribol.