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Bhakti Vriksha Program Notes

February 3, 2001

Hare Krishna.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

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 distant future.

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:

"Sri-radika-madhavayaor apara-/Madhurya-lila-guna-rupa namnam/
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 spiritual master.

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 follows.

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 degraded age.

Thank you for your attention. The notes seem to become more lengthy as we delve more deeply into the Bhagavatam. Haribol.


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