Srila Prabhupada explains in many places that the human form of life is a juncture at which one can elevate or degrade himself.
What is the value of atonement if the propensity to commit sin is still there?
One reaction for sinful activities is the continued tendency to commit sinful activities.
One cannot counteract one fruitive activity with another fruitive activity. The analogy given is counteracting a bad dream with a hallucination.
An intelligent person does not endeavor for happiness because it will come without asking just like misery comes without our asking for it. Rather he endeavors to satisfy the Lord and thus transcend his sinful life. [Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.5.18]
The story of Ajamila is an important example of the potency of the holy name.
Because Ajamila was not intentionally calling out the name of Narayana to become free from sins he did not commit the offense of committing sins on the strength of chanting.
Conversing with the Yamadutas, the Vishnudutas argued, “What is the point of punishing Ajamila since he has already purified himself from his sinful tendencies by chanting the holy name of the Lord?”
Usually, Srila Prabhupada would just print 20,000 copies of each volume of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, but Srila Prabhupada initially printed 100,000 copies of the Sixth Canto, Part One, then another 100,000 copies later. This is because he felt the story of Ajamila’s becoming free from his sinful life by the power of the holy name was so relevant to the people he was reaching out to.
Having once heard the holy name, we should stay in the association of devotees and look for opportunities to increase our taste for the chanting.
Srila Prabhupada, as Lord Caitanya’s representative, came to give us this chanting process which is the most powerful way of purifying our hearts, and we should remain faithful to it.
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura would emphasize that Siksastaka 3 is the siddha-pranali verse, the verse by which one can attain spiritual perfection: “One who thinks himself lower than the grass, who is more tolerant than a tree, and who does not expect personal honor but is always prepared to give all respect to others can very easily always chant the holy name of the Lord.”
In applying Siksastaka 3, it is very important not to wish ill on those who cause us distress.
Comment by Narayana: I heard in a class that Krishna is not concerned with a person’s past activities or present thoughts but one’s present intentions. Could you elaborate?
Answer: Krishna is bhava-grahi. He accepts the essence, which is the devotion in the heart. If one has developed his love and attachment for Krishna, then Krishna will not consider the rest. It is not just one’s intentions but one’s genuine devotion to Him. There is a verse stating that one who is a pure devotee has no obligations to others, but we have to be careful to avoid not caring what others think when we are not yet on the platform of pure devotion.
If we are always endeavoring to please the Supreme Lord, it is like we are always facing the sun, and thus we will always be in light.
Until it becomes natural to be humble, we have to practice being humble.
We cannot become humble by our own efforts. There is not a humble switch we can press. We need the Lord’s mercy. We know what to pray for, “Please help me to be humble in this situation.”
If something keeps on happening again and again, we should try to learn from it. We can pray for help in dealing with it.
Srila Prabhupada would say if there is a quality we lack but someone else has, if we serve that person, we will acquire that quality.
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says, “It is proper to show anger toward those envious of Krishna, however, I should look within myself and first be angry with myself for being envious of Krishna. Only after eliminating the envy of Krishna in myself can I succeed in freeing others from such envy.”
From a morning class in Hartford temple:
Vyasadeva advised his son, “You are causing your mother so much pain. Please come out of the womb.” Sukadeva was not inclined because he did not want to be affected by maya. Vyasadeva promised Suka he would not be affected by maya, but Suka, seeing Vyasadeva himself was attached to wife and son, did not believe him. Suka said he would only believe the controller of maya, the Lord Himself. Thus Vyasadeva went to Dvaraka and explained the situation to Krishna, and Krishna came and assured him.
After assuring Sukadeva that he would not be affected by maya when he came out of the womb, Lord Krishna told Vyasadeva, “Your son speaks attractively like a parrot. Let his name be Suka.”
Vyasadeva attracted Sukadeva Goswami to return home to study Srimad-Bhagavatam with him by having his disciples speak verses from Srimad-Bhagavatam where Sukadeva could hear them. According to Baladeva Vidyabhusana, those verses praised Krishna for elevating Putana to the position of mother in the spiritual world and for humbly acting as servant of the Pandavas. The verse about Putana is “Alas, how shall I take shelter of one more merciful than He who granted the position of mother to a she-demon [Putana] although she was unfaithful and she prepared deadly poison to be sucked from her breast?” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.2.23)
In Laghu-bhagavatamrita, Rupa Goswami shows how Krishna is most worshipable because of being superior in qualities to the other incarnations of the Lord. Rama and Nrsimha are just below Krishna in the hierarchy of incarnations, also being especially worshipable (para-avasta avatars), but not quite as much so as Krishna Himself. In particular, when Krishna kills demons, they get salvation because He situates Himself in their hearts and establishes a relationship with them.
Another reason Jaya and Vijaya chose to take birth as demons [besides taking just three births in the material world instead of seven] is they heard the bards of Vaikuntha chant the glories of Lord Narayana for coming to the material world to kill the demons, and thus they developed the desire to assist Him those pastimes.
Hiranyakasipu took his birth again because he was not aware of the divinity of Lord Nrsimha who killed him. Ravana also was not aware of the divinity of Lord Ramacandra and so took birth again as Sisupala. Sisupala was aware of the divinity of Lord Krishna, but because of he was envious of Him as the Supreme Lord, by continually vibrating His holy name in criticism he developed a personal relationship with Him.
There were 60,000 sages assembled in Naimisaranya.
Pariksit Maharaja summarizes the Srimad-Bhagavatam to his mother, Uttara, in what Sanatana Goswami presents as Brhad-bhagavatamrita, which establishes Krishna as supreme of all incarnations. Laghu-bhagavatamrita is a smaller work with the same theme by Rupa Goswami, who did not want to surpass his brother, Sanatana.
Jaya and Vijaya only came once. In other kalpas, real demons play those roles of Hiranyakasipu, Ravana, and Sisupala, and only Sisupala attains liberation because of being killed by Krishna, the original form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Krishna, as time is killing everyone, and those who are conscious that Krishna is killing them at the time of death, go back to the spiritual world.
Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura explains that the first half of Bhagavad-gita 9.29, “I am equal to everyone” refers to the Supersoul while the second half, “I am a friend to the devotees,” refers to Krishna Himself as Bhagavan.
From a Sunday feast lecture in Hartford on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.9.16:
Bhisma’s instruction indicates that Krishna does have a plan although we cannot completely understand it.
Krishna demonstrated that he values the keeping the promise of his devotee, in this case, Bhisma, who promised to force Krishna to fight in order to save Arjuna’s life, at the expense of his own promise not to take up weapons.
Prahlada Maharaja’s good qualities are described to be a result of his previous activities. Narada could understand he was a great devotee, even when in the womb, and thus Narada advised Indra not to try to kill him. After hearing from Narada in the womb, Prahlada became even a greater devotee.
Draupadi asked why Krishna took so long to rescue her. Krishna explained to Draupadi that she first appealed to Bhisma, then she appealed to her husbands, then she tried to protect herself, and finally she depended completely on Him, and at that point He immediately came to her rescue.
Because Krishna knows in detail about a person previous lives, present activities, and internal situation, he can determine the person’s next life.
Krishna says in effect, “Those who know Me know enough about Me to know that I am all good.”
Krishna may seem extreme in his treatment of a particular devotee, but He may be treating that devotee to finish up everything for him in just one life.
Srila Prabhupada said that one can act under the protection of Krishna by following Krishna’s instructions in the same spirit that Arjuna followed them.
Although we cannot fully understand Krishna’s plan, we should understand Krishna’s order and be obedient to it.
If we always make plans for the Lord’s service that are blessed by our guru and the Vaishnavas, although there may be obstacles, we can continue to be enthusiastic. If we are successful, we should give credit to those who gave their blessings.
It is sometimes difficult to keep on going if we are not convinced that what we are doing is Krishna’s plan.
If we try to overcome material nature by our own efforts, at some point will realize what we are up against, and then surrender to Krishna.
From a Sunday feast lecture in Brooklyn:
Srila Prabhupada would sometimes inspire competition among the devotees, knowing that it could bring out the best in us and also bring out the worst in us.
Srila Prabhupada said many times “these books are my life and soul.” He would say it again and again with tears in his eyes.
“This, our book distribution is the most important task in our society. Therefore I am giving so much stress, and I am working so hard on this. Because this is my life and soul according to the order of my Guru Maharaja. And by his grace it is to some extent successful. And I took it seriously. I take it seriously still now. That is my life and soul. I never tried in India to construct big temples or even in your country we didn’t. I never tried. But I was selling personally books. That is the history.” (Srila Prabhupada, Room Conversation, December 31, 1976)
In Ukraine we showed the video of Vaisesika Prabhu called “Be a Giver” to two hundred devotee counselors. The theme is the more you give the more you grow.
Although we do many things to take care of devotees, an important way of taking care of devotees is instilling in them faith in pure devotional service.
“Pure devotional service rendered to the Supreme Lord is spiritually so potent that simply by hearing about such transcendental service, by chanting its glories in response, by meditating on it, by respectfully and faithfully accepting it, or by praising the devotional service of others, even persons who hate the demigods and all other living beings can be immediately purified.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.2.12)
Without pure devotional service, everything else is a show, Prahlada Maharaja told his friends.
Our qualification is to hear about pure devotional service.
Srila Prabhupada was very expert in encouraging us to do something wonderful for Krishna.
Although Srila Prabhupada warned us about being fanatical, we were still fanatical.
During the marathon, we would distribute books from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Then on Saturday night we began to stay out later, sometimes to 2:00 a.m. After that we began to fast on Saturday so we would have more time to distribute books. Then we would simplify the Sunday feast, so we could go out on Sundays and distribute books.
As soon as we become complacent thinking we are doing enough, we stop growing.
Doing more does not necessarily mean doing more physically. We can use our body, our mind, or our words. You can always speak to others more, like on the subway, and keep a book with you.
One hour after my lecture on being a giver in Ukraine, devotees bought 7,800 books, and 2,600 were maha big books.
We were the first to capitalize on advertising after communism in Russia, and we had Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita ad on all the buses and subways in Moscow.
At that time in Moscow, the most difficult thing about selling books was to keep the people waiting in lines before our book tables.
Srila Prabhupada to the Radha Damodara devotees in Atlanta, “Those who go out and distribute books in vans get my extra special mercy.” We talked about it. That is what we were all eager for.
If you find the notes on this class inspiring and would like to see a video of the entire class : Click here