Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
Badger, California: May 5, 2001
I want to explain that dusanga, bad association, is very dangerous for any devotee. So many varieties of doubts will come in that bad association – doubts about devotees, about bhakti, and about Krsna and Mahaprabhu. They are bound to come if you are not in good association. Gradually you will go very far, far, far away from bhakti, and you will be ruined. I want to caution you about this.
Once, with all His queens, sons, daughters, and all other relatives, Krsna came to Kuruksetra before the Mahabharata battle. Numerous emperors and kings from all over India assembled there with their entire families, because at that time Kuruksetra was the prominent tirtha-sthali, holy place, of India. Kuruksetra is the place where Parasurama performed many sacrifices, and the place of Prthu Maharaja. All of Krsna's relatives were assembled there as well, including the Pandavas, Mother Kunti, Draupadi, and Subhadra, Bhisma-pitamah, and also Duryodhana with all his relatives.
Somehow Nanda Baba heard that his dear son was going to Kuruksetra, and he therefore quickly announced to the Vrajabasis, "Tomorrow we will go by bullock cart with all our relatives. Only some old persons will remain behind to look after Vraja, and the rest of us should go." Thus, the gopis, Mother Yasoda, and all the inhabitants of Vrndavana went to Kuruksetra. After taking bath during the solar eclipse, everyone met with each other there, and all the pilgrims distributed whatever they had, such as golden ornaments, garments, and wealth.
After this, Draupadi, Kunti, and others came to meet with Vasudeva, the 'father' of Krsna. Kunti was weeping very much, and telling her brother, "Brother, why did you become so cruel? My sons were given poison, they were attacked by fire, and we were forced to go to the forest and give up our kingdom. We were all suffering, but you didn't come to us."
Vasudeva Maharaja also began to weep, saying, "My dear sister, we were at that time in prison, and our six sons were killed there. This cruel Kamsa killed our sons and tortured us terribly. How could we have come? We were bound under lock and key. At that time, when Krsna was like a baby, we sent Him to Gokula in order to save Him.
"Don't be in anxiety. There is nothing we can do. We are bound to tolerate all sufferings. My dear sister, try to realize this fact. We are puppets in the hands of God. Although to some extent we are independent to initiate any activity, we are bound to enjoy the fruits of our bad and good activities – we are bound to. So, don't blame the Supreme God, or us. Don't blame."
Some persons say, "Hitler was very cruel. He put so many Jews in jail..."
Sripad Damodara Maharaja: In gas chambers.
Vicitri dasi: In concentration camps.
Gurudeva: "...and they were killed there. They were tortured so much. If there is a God, why did He become cruel? Why didn't He stop Hitler?" A doubt may come as to why the Supreme Lord allowed this to happen? So many doubts may come. Some persons argue, "If God was there, why did He become neutral? He should not have been neutral."
If you are in any bad association, that bad association will raise all these points and say, "There is no God at all. He is not merciful. He cannot do anything to help us, because He has no form, no hands, and no mind to think. He is nirguna, without qualities; He is avyakta, or impersonal; He is nothing – zero. What, then, is the need of worshiping Him or accepting Him? We don't want to accept Him. Why could He not have stopped Hitler?"
[Editors' note: We are aware of the sensitivity of this issue and, with the hope that the reader understands Srila Gurudeva's reference to it in the proper context, we would like to give a brief explanation:
The question of how to reconcile the notion of a loving God with the bad things that happen in the world is a challenge to many of us. The teachings of karma – that actions in one life may result in reactions in another life – are never given as a justification for judging others, or for cruelty to others, but as a means for self-assessment and reflection. The law of karma is taught to make us mindful that we should be non-violent (ahimsic) in our actions. In fact, it is the teaching of wise spiritual teachers like Srila Gurudeva that we cultivate a mood of humility, service, and love in everything we do. His purpose is to free us from the cycle of samsara, or the wheel of birth and death, and deliver to us our eternal good fortune. *[see endnotes 1 and 2] His words are full of compassion. Also, he has stated that the perpetrators of such calamities are by divine will held accountable for their actions in accord with karmic law.]
Gurudeva: All these questions have been answered in our scriptures. Why could Krsna not have stopped Him if He wished? Actually, everything could have been totally stopped.
We cannot do anything to escape the law of reactions to our materialistic actions. As I mentioned, we are like puppets. You can see this in Bhagavad-gita (18.61):
hrd-dese arjuna tisthati
["The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities who are seated as on a machine made of the material energy."]
Isvara, the Supreme Lord of all, in the form of the Supersoul (Paramatma), as a witness (saksi), is here in our hearts. The living entities (jivas) are standing on their karma-cakra (wheel of fruitive activities). Just as a clay-pot maker spins a wheel with a stick and so many pots are made, we are all sitting on the results of the bad or good activities we have performed in the past. That has become our karma-cakra.
Krsna is not responsible for our sinful acts. He is the witness. Whatever we are suffering and experiencing is our own fault. It is the result of our good and bad activities. Krsna is not responsible for our sufferings.
If someone kills a person in America, is the president of America, Mr. Bush, responsible for that murder, or not? He has made rules and regulations against murder, and he has announced to everyone that they should not kill anyone. However, if someone does not obey, the police and the court are there to punish that person.
In the same way, Krsna has announced in the Vedas, in sastra, and through devotees, that you should not do certain activities. If you do so anyway, you will be pulled onto the karma-cakra and you will have to suffer for your actions. Krsna is not responsible, because He has warned you. The jivas have some independence to do what they like, but they are bound to taste the fruits of their activities.
Now let us look more clearly regarding Krsna's own pastimes. Why was the father of the Supreme God Krsna suffering? We should try to understand. Vasudeva is one of the associates of Krsna, and he has come with Krsna to this world to give many teachings. He was playing as an actor in Krsna's pastimes, to establish dharma, or religious principles. Secondly, if someone is a devotee of the Lord, he will manifest tolerance. If one is a devotee but has no tolerance, then he is not a pure devotee. A real devotee will be like Haridasa Thakura, like Prahlada Maharaja, and like Vasudeva Maharaja. They came as examples to show the whole world how to be tolerant.
Why did Vasudeva Maharaja have to tolerate so many difficulties? There are many reasons. When the aerial voice announced that the eighth child of the womb of Devaki would kill Kamsa, Kamsa became upset and wanted to kill Devaki – from whose womb the eighth child would come. He was in a dilemma. He heard the aerial voice and he believed that the eighth son would come and kill him, but still he wanted to make the prediction false. He thought, "I will kill Devaki, and thus there will be no womb to produce Him."
Vasudeva Maharaja had strong faith in what this aerial voice had said. He believed that Kamsa could not kill Devaki, that the eighth child would surely come, and that this eighth child would kill Kamsa. As Vasudeva Maharaja had firm belief in this and was very confident, we too should be confident. If one chants the holy name of Krsna, hears the pastimes of Krsna, and renders any service to Him, no one will be able to kill that person. We must have confidence like Vasudeva, and learn this lesson.
There is something more to be said in this regard. Who were the six sons of Devaki? They were previously the sons of Marici Muni, who was a very high-class realized sage. Marici's sons were in the council of Brahma, and they once criticized Brahma, who was a maha-bhagavata (great devotee). For this offence, they had to come in the womb of the wife of the demon Kalanemi, and by the fruit of their offence they had to be killed by their own father. Their father, Kalanemi, became Kamsa in his next life, and the six sons became the sons of Vasudeva in the womb of Devaki and had to suffer at the hands of Kamsa. We are not seeing that their suffering was coming from their past lives' offense. We are only seeing the events externally.
We should understand that those whom Hitler killed had previously performed many sinful activities. They also must have killed many persons in some horrible way, and thus they took birth as those particular Jews. Why were all Jews not killed? Many were killed, but others escaped and were saved. Why did everything happen in this way? Those who suffered were guilty for their own past activities.
We are so foolish. We cannot imagine what they had done in their past. Krsna knows, however, as a witness residing in their hearts, and He thus arranged all these events because they had to be killed.
Now we are seeing that many cows in India and other countries are being slaughtered. Why? In a previous birth, as humans, those who are now cows had eaten meat themselves, and eggs, and now they are tasting the results of their own sinful activities.
Any kind of doubt may come in bad association, so we should be very careful about this. Don't associate with those who have no bhakti. In Gita (4.40) it has also been said: "Those who have any doubt in Krsna, in His associates, and in bhakti will be very soon destroyed."
ajnas casraddadhanas ca
nayam loko 'sti na paro
na sukham samsayatmanah
["But ignorant and faithless persons who doubt the revealed scriptures do not attain God consciousness; they fall down. For the doubting soul there is happiness neither in this world nor in the next."]
We need to be very, very careful about this type of association.
Now I am coming to the main subject of my class. I want to speak about the glorification of Srila Haridasa Thakura. He was born as a Muslim, but in reality he was an incarnation of both Brahma and Prahlada Maharaja. Brahma and Prahlada both wanted to come and serve Caitanya Mahaprabhu, so they came by the Lord's wish. Though Haridasa Thakura was a Muslim by birth, he had great faith in harinama. He was chanting the holy name from the beginning of his life.
Who was his Gurudeva? He had no initiating guru, but his Gurudeva was Advaita Acarya – Maha-Visnu – because Maha-Visnu is superior to Brahma. When Haridasa Thakura was living in his native place, everyone was very much attracted to him. He was renounced, wearing only dor kaupina, and he was always chanting harinama. From the beginning he was chanting three hundred thousand holy names (192 rounds); some names loudly, some very softly so that only he himself could hear, and some by mind. Sometimes he chanted without a mala, dancing and rolling on the earth, day and night, and in this way he would complete three hundred thousand holy names daily.
All common persons became very attracted to him. In fact, they would give him so much respect that the king of that place, Ramacandra Khan, became upset. The king thought, "I am the king of this region, but no one respects me as they do him. He is a Muslim, and yet everyone is honoring him." He then called a very beautiful teenage prostitute and told her, "I will give you half my kingdom and wealth if you can deviate that Haridasa Thakura."
The prostitute replied, "Oh, don't worry. In a moment I will be able to entice him. Give me some time. He has a good character, but as soon as he sees me, his chastity will disappear. So, give me time."
Thus, one night she went to Haridasa Thakura's place. He was alone. It was purnima (the full moon night) and there was a cool breeze on the bank of the Ganges. Srila Haridasa Thakura had a Tulasi plant which he used to worship daily, and he would chant harinama the whole day in his cave under the shelter of that Tulasi.
Being half naked, sometimes revealing even more, and alluring him with many poses, the prostitute tried very intently to attract Haridasa Thakura. He told her, "I will fulfill your desire, but allow me to finish my task to chant one crore of harinama (ten million names)."
Some say that Haridasa Thakura was chanting three hundred thousand names daily, but actually, since he was chanting the whole day and night, he must have been doing four or five hundred thousand. He told the prostitute, "I have taken a vow for this. Please wait. Sit here, and when I finish, I will surely fulfill your desire."
The prostitute sat down and waited, but when the morning came she returned to the king. The king asked, "Have you been successful?"
"I will certainly be successful," she replied, "Today he has promised to serve me."
She came again the next evening and stayed throughout the night, and again Haridasa Thakura told her, "Oh, please wait a little. Very soon I am going to complete my chanting."
Finally, when the third night came, she was totally changed by hearing suddha-nama (pure chanting) from a high-class devotee. At once she fell flat at the lotus feet of Haridasa Thakura and said, "I came by the order of the king. He is a very bad person. He is envious and does not want anyone besides himself to be honored. That is why I came to you. But I have been changed now. I am offensive. I was very lusty, but now I want to take the shelter of your lotus feet."
Haridasa Thakura then told her, "At once return to your home, and whatever money you have collected from your profession as a prostitute, distribute to the greedy brahmanas. Kali-yuga brahmanas will gladly take these things."
She went home, and then, with only one ordinary white cloth, she returned to the lotus feet of Haridasa Thakura. He told her, "I knew what was going on, but I remained here three days for you. I would have gone, but only to purify you I stayed here. I am giving you my asrama, my Tulasi plant, and my cottage on the bank of the Ganges. Stay here. Don't go anywhere. Many people will come and offer you so many donations, so many kinds of preparations of prasadam, and other things. Do not accept everything. Accept only what you need to maintain your life, and nothing else. Stay here, and everything will come to you."
Many high-class Vaisnavas began to come there to see how this prostitute had now been transformed. She had become like a maha-bhagavata by her association with Haridasa Thakura. Haridasa was Brahma plus Prahlada Maharaja, and he came as an associate of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In our next class we will glorify him further. So many teachings are found in his life, and an entire Mahabharata can be written about him – a large Mahabharata.
Question: You said earlier that so many people were put to death by Hitler. They were put to death because of their past activities. But a personality like Hitler, who was inflicting the punishment, did he create bad karma for his activities, or was he just acting as an instrument?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: He was punished at once. He committed suicide or was killed.
Question: Also, for so many lives he will have to suffer?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: Yes, he has to suffer for so many lives, for all the people he killed and tortured.
Sripad Damodara Maharaja: Who is the worshipful Deity of Haridasa Thakura?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: The worshipful Deity of Brahma is Garbodakasayi Visnu (an expansion of Maha-Visnu).
Question: I don't really understand how the two personalities, Prahlada Maharaja and Lord Brahma, are both in the body of Haridasa Thakura.
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: It is very easy for Krsna; very, very easy. As He manifests as millions in order to dance with each gopi in rasa-lila, the associates of Krsna are like Him. They are very powerful and can manifest in millions of forms. One example is Narada. Wherever Krsna's pastimes take place, Narada is present. He is in Brahma-loka, Visnu-loka, Narayana-loka, Dvaraka, and sometimes in Vraja. Moreover, Vraja-lila is going on in several universes, and Narada Rsi expands into many forms to be with Krsna in all those universes. Sometimes he is with Brahma, or Prahlada Maharaja. We see this truth in Svarupa Damodara as well – so many are within him. And, regarding Raya Ramananda, he is Arjuna-sakha, Arjuna-gopi, and also Visakha gopi. When Krsna descends to this world, all of His incarnations come with Him, although we cannot see Them.
[*Endnote 1: "It is true that we are not seeing Krsna, but He sees us, and He may hear what we say to Him. We do not hear what He is telling us, and we do not hear His calling us by playing His flute, but our call is heard by Krsna who is very kind and causelessly merciful. He has sent all our guru-parampara acaryas, He has also sent Jesus, and sometimes He Himself descends with all His associates – only because He loves us.
"He is calling us: "Come, come My sons and daughters. Chant this mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. Chant even one time. I will take you to Goloka Vrndavana and you will be transcendentally happy forever." Do not be hopeless; never be hopeless. You can always have hope, because He is weeping for us. He is lamenting for us. We cannot lament or weep for Him, but He is lamenting and weeping for us. Go on chanting, remembering and offering obeisances, and you will be able to very quickly attain all the invaluable gifts I have described. [Lecture by Srila Gurudeva in Odessa, 2002]
"Do you know why I have come here from so far away, from India? I have come to remind you that you are refugees in this world. You have come to this world because you have forgotten Krsna. Krsna has mercifully given us this human form only so that we can remember Him and perform His devotional services, not for any other reason. Always remember that death is on our head, death is below us, in front of us and behind us – waiting.
One day soon you will become old; you must become old. At that time no doctor or scientist will be able to save you, for they will also become old. Neither your mother, nor your father, nor your friends, nor anyone else will be able to go with you when you have to leave this world, and you will not be able to take with you a single farthing. Therefore, what you are doing at present may be likened to the activities of the donkeys – laboring all day with no result. Always remember this.
Do not worry about being happy in this world, and do not try to remove your suffering artificially. As suffering comes without invitation, happiness will also come automatically; there is no need to endeavor for this.
Krsna has invested all His power and mercy in His names. All His qualities are endowed in His holy names: "Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare."
Time is very short; no one knows when death will come. Even an old person may remain alive and his or her children may die. Nothing is certain, so do not endeavor for anything material. Go on chanting, and certainly everything for your maintenance will be automatically provided. Always chant and remember Krsna, and be happy forever. This is the essence of our entire Indian literature, including the Vedas, Upanisads, Bhagavad-gita, and Srimad-Bhagavatam. If you want to be happy, chant and serve Krsna, and then happily return to your original place, Goloka Vrndavana – back to Godhead, back to home.
Devotee: Will we know you there?
Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja: I will keep a place for you there. [Srila Gurudeva's lecture in Vancouver, Canada: 2008]
If you throw a piece of stone, earth, wood, or any other solid or liquid object in the sky, it will go upward and then return down. Why? This is due to the Earth's law of gravitation. Anything made of earth, wood, and so on will fall down if there is nothing to hold it up. On the other hand, flames of a fire also go up, but they do not turn again towards the earth. If you send a balloon into the sky, it will go up and it may be that it will never return. The example of the balloon is given because a balloon refers to the air; and air and fire are not part of the earth. When any part of a whole meets with its whole, the two will exist together and be happy. Otherwise, if they do not have this relationship, they will not. Similarly, we are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, so unless we meet Him with love and affection, we cannot be happy. This is the philosophy of love. [Odessa, 2002]
[*Endnote 2 – (An example of how Hitler and his activities are highly condemned by Gurudeva, Srila Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, is given in his book, the biography of his own spiritual master, called The Life and Teachings of Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, as follows:
Jyoti Babu: "We don't believe in Veda-sastra. We believe in hard work. Work (karma) is life, work is God . It is because of people like you that this country has gone to hell. You people should do some work yourselves and then give instructions about work (karma). Begging alms is the occupation of cowards."
Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja: "It is atheists like you who have caused the devastation of India. India was happier and more civilized than the other countries of the world as long as her politics were governed by dharma and her people were faithful and religious. In ancient times stalwarts like Hiranyakasipu, Ravana, Duryodhana and Kamsa were far greater advocates of karma than you are, but the scriptures recount how they all came to an abominable end. More recently, we have heard of Alexander the Great and Napoleon, and in modern times champions of karma like Hitler, Mussolini and Lenin. Have you not observed their contemptible fate? There is no place in India for atheists like Carvaka and others. India is the country of sanatana-dharma. No one can vanquish this sanatana-dharma, no matter how influential he may be. A day will come when you will not even have the opportunity to repent."