Bhakti-yoga, the essence of life

TQE 4: Yoga and Meditation for the Age of Quarrel

Put Kṛṣṇa in the Center

“It’s easy to practice yoga when your object of meditation is all-attractive. As Śrīla Prabhupāda explains, “God is attractive for everyone, and God is equal to everyone. There is no distinction for God that here is an animal, here is a man, here is a tree. No. Every living entity is part and parcel of God. That is our understanding of God consciousness, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness.” (Septermber 1973, Stockholm, Sweden)

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
mayy āsakta-manāḥ pārtha yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ
asaṁśayaṁ samagraṁ māṁ yathā jñāsyasi tac chṛṇu

“The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: ‘Now hear, O son of Pṛthā [Arjuna], how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt'” (Bhagavad-gītā 7.1).

This is a verse from the Seventh Chapter of the Bhagavad-gītā, which we have published as Bhagavad-gītā As It Is. There are many editions of the Bhagavad-gītā, and most of them have been edited to push forward the editor’s own philosophical views. But we do not accept the Bhagavad-gītā in that light. The Bhagavad-gītā is spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is stated here, śrī bhagavān uvāca. Those who are Sanskrit scholars will understand what is meant by the word bhagavān. Bhaga means “opulence,” and one who possesses something is called vān. So bhagavān means “one who possesses all opulence.”

There are six kinds of opulence: wealth, reputation, strength, beauty, knowledge, and renunciation. If a person is very rich, he attracts the attention of many persons. Similarly, if a man is very famous for his activities, he also attracts attention. If a person is very influential or strong, he also attracts. If a man or woman is very beautiful, he or she also attracts attention. And if one is very learned or renounced, he also attracts attention.

We all possess these opulences in some small quantity. Every one of us may possess some riches, may be a little wise or a little strong. But when you find that person who possesses more opulences than anyone else, that is God. The Sanskrit word for this is asamordhva. Sama means “equal,” and asama means “not equal.” And ūrdhva means “above.” No one is equal to or greater than God. That is the definition of God. “God is great” means that nobody is equal to Him and nobody is above Him in any kind of opulence. That is called bhagavān.

Vyāsadeva writes bhagavān in the Bhagavad-gītā to describe Kṛṣṇa. The Bhagavad-gītā is one of the chapters of the Mahābhārata. The Mahābhārata means “the history of greater India.” India is the name given by Westerners. But the real name is Bhārata-varṣa. Bhārata-varṣa means not only India but the whole planet. Five thousand years ago it was known as Bhārata-varṣa. Now the name Bhārata-varṣa indicates only India.

So the background of this Bhagavad-gītā is that there was a worldwide fight called the Battle of Kurukṣetra. Kurukṣetra is a place that still exists, and there was a battle there five thousand years ago. The main parties in the fight were cousin-brothers, the Kurus and the Pāṇḍavas. The Bhagavad-gītā was spoken there by Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavān.

Therefore, it is said śrī bhagavān uvāca. Kṛṣṇa is teaching Arjuna bhakti-yoga. Yoga is the means by which you can contact the Supreme. Yoga means “linking.” There are many yoga systems for linking ourselves with the Supreme Absolute Truth.

The Absolute Truth is realized in three phases: impersonal, localized, and personal. In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is said that the Absolute Truth is realized by different persons according to different angles of vision. For example, if you see a mountain from a distant place, you see something cloudy. If you go nearer, then you find it is something green. And if you actually reach the mountain, then you find so many varieties. There are trees, there are houses, there are living entities, animals, everything. The object is one, but according to the vision of the person from the different distances, the same object is realized in different phases.

Therefore, the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam says, vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvaṁ yaj jñānam advayam/brahmeti paramātmeti bhagavān iti śabdhyate [SB 1.2.11]. The object is one, but according to different understandings, somebody is realizing the Absolute Truth as impersonal Brahman, somebody is realizing the Absolute Truth as localized Paramātmā, and somebody is realizing the same Absolute Truth as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Ultimately, the Absolute Truth is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavān.

Therefore, Vyāsadeva, the compiler of the Mahābhārata, says, śrī bhagavān uvāca. So in this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement we understand that Bhagavān is Kṛṣṇa. He has many millions of names, but Kṛṣṇa is the chief name. Kṛṣṇa means “the all-attractive.” God must be all-attractive. It is not that God is attractive for one person and not for another. No. God is attractive for all living entities. Therefore, in pictures of Kṛṣṇa you see that He is loving the calves and cows, He is loving the trees, He is loving the gopīs, He is loving the cowherd boys. For Him, for God, everyone is a lovable object because everyone is the son of God.

Kṛṣṇa states in the Bhagavad-gītā that of the different species of life and different forms of life, “their mother is the material nature, and I am the seed-giving father.”

God is attractive for everyone, and God is equal to everyone. There is no distinction for God that here is an animal, here is a man, here is a tree. No. Every living entity is part and parcel of God. That is our understanding of God consciousness, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Among the different processes of yoga for linking to God, three are principal: jñāna-yoga, dhyāna-yoga, and bhakti-yoga. Bhakti-yoga is the topmost. That is described in the Bhagavad-gītā [6.47]:

yoginām api sarveṣāṁ mad-gatenāntar-ātmanā
śraddhāvān bhajate yo māṁ sa me yuktatamo mataḥ

Of all yogis, the yogi who is always thinking of Kṛṣṇa with love and faith is the first-class yogi.

The Seventh Chapter of the Bhagavad-gītā describes how to become a first-class yogi. Kṛṣṇa Himself explains how it is to be done. If you want to understand God, it is better to understand from God Himself. Instead of speculating about God, it is better to understand God from the words of God.

Vyāsadeva is the compiler of all Vedic knowledge, and he accepts Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Later on, all the ācāryas—Rāmānujācārya, Madhvācārya, Viṣṇu Svāmī, Lord Caitanya—they all accepted Kṛṣṇa. As far as our Vedic culture is concerned, Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Here it is also said, śrībhagavān uvāca. Kṛṣṇa is teaching how to become a first-class yogi in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. He says, mayy āsakta-manāḥ pārtha yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ. Mayi means “unto Me,” and āsakta means “attachment.” So He is saying that to become a first-class yogi one must increase his attachment to Kṛṣṇa.

The Kṛṣṇa consciousness yoga means to increase attachment for Kṛṣṇa. That’s all. Everyone has attachment for something, either for his family or for some friend or for some house or some hobby or some cats, some dogs. There is attachment. That doesn’t have to be learned. Attachment is there in everyone’s heart. Everyone wants to be attached to somebody else; everyone wants to love someone else. Love does not mean oneness. For love there must be two: the lover and the beloved.

The Kṛṣṇa consciousness yoga system is the means to increase your attachment for Kṛṣṇa. Therefore it is said here,mayy āsakta-manāḥ pārtha—”gradually increasing one’s attachment for Me.” Kṛṣṇa says one should practice this yoga system by taking shelter of Him. You can take shelter directly of Kṛṣṇa, or you can take shelter of a person who has taken shelter of Kṛṣṇa. That is the meaning of mad-āśraya. That is the system of paramparā, disciple succession. Whether you increase your attachment for Kṛṣṇa or for a devotee of Kṛṣṇa, it is the same.

For example, if something is charged with electricity and you touch something else to it, it also becomes electrified. We have daily experience. The wires distribute the electricity from the powerhouse, and as soon as we join the plug, immediately it is electrified. Similarly, if you carry the words of Kṛṣṇa as they are carried by others in the disciplic succession, then you are in touch with Kṛṣṇa. That is called yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ: always being linked with Kṛṣṇa.

Kṛṣṇa says in this verse, “Please try to hear from Me.” Kṛṣṇa is speaking personally. So if we accept the Bhagavad-gītā as it is, as instructed by Kṛṣṇa Himself, then we can understand God without any doubt.

In our present position, with blunt material senses, with four defects, it is not possible to understand what God is. We have four defects in this material condition: we commit mistakes, we are illusioned, we tend to cheat, and our senses are imperfect. Every day we see the sun with our eyes, but because our senses are imperfect we see the sun as a disk, although it is thousands of times bigger than the earth. In this way, if we analyze our senses we will find that they are imperfect. Speculation based on imperfect senses is also imperfect. Therefore all the speculators—so-called scientists, philosophers, and so on—put forward theories: “Perhaps.” “It may be.” That means they do not have perfect knowledge. But if you receive knowledge from the supreme perfect, God, that is actually perfect.

Our process is like that. In the Fourth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gītā, Kṛṣṇa says He spoke this philosophy of theBhagavad-gītā first to the sun-god, who spoke it to his son Manu, who spoke to his son Ikṣvāku. In this way, by disciple succession, the Bhagavad-gītā has come down to this earth. If we accept that disciplic succession instead of unnecessarily interpreting Kṛṣṇa’s words, then we can understand the Bhagavad-gītā. That is the process.

Our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement gives an understanding of the Supreme Person, Kṛṣṇa, as He is, without any interpretation. That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness yoga. That can be achieved, as Kṛṣṇa says, by always keeping Him in the center. If you practice this yoga, keeping Kṛṣṇa in the center and always thinking of the form of Kṛṣṇa, then Kṛṣṇa will be revealed to you. This is the yoga system of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.”

Thank you very much.

Reaching Kṛṣṇa His Way

There are many paths, and they all don’t lead to the same goal. As Śrīla Prabhupāda, “One has to come to the point of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. You may follow the yoga process, you may follow the philosophical process, you may follow the ritualistic process, or you may perform penances or engage in studying the Vedas. But unless you reach the point of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, you will succeed only to a certain degree.” (November 1966, New York)

na sādhayati māṁ yogo na sāṅkhyaṁ dharma uddhava
na svādhyāyas tapas tyāgo yathā bhaktir mamorjitā

[The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, said:] “My dear Uddhava, neither through aṣṭāṅga-yoga [the mystic yoga system to control the senses], nor through impersonal monism or an analytical study of the Absolute Truth, nor through study of the Vedas, nor through austerities, charity, or acceptance of sannyāsa can one satisfy Me as much as by developing unalloyed devotional service unto Me” (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 11.14.20).

Lord Caitanya quoted this verse while relating an allegory in which an astrologer tells a poor man where to dig to find a treasure. The treasure represents Kṛṣṇa consciousness, or love of God, and the directions in which the man is told to dig represent different processes by which people search for the Absolute Truth.

The astrologer tells the poverty-stricken man, “You are actually a very rich man’s son, but you do not know this. Therefore you are suffering.”

To be poor in this world is a curse for ordinary people, those under the concept of material life, whereas the spiritually enriched have nothing to do with the poverty or wealth of this world. The living entities are not meant to be poverty-stricken, because they are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, the supreme proprietor. Every living entity has the birthright to enjoy God’s property, just as the son inherits the property of the father. That is the law. But under the spell of illusion we have forgotten our relationship with the supreme father; therefore we are suffering. That is the diagnosis.

Now we have to find out how to go back home, back to Godhead. That should be the mission of human life. Never mind why we are in contact with the material world. By the instruction of the astrologerlike Vedic literature we should come to the point of finding out how to go back to Godhead. Just as the astrologer is giving hints to the poor man, the Vedic literature gives us hints so that we can become the richest by reviving our lost relationship with our father.

There are different paths for reviving that relationship, but Lord Caitanya says that no method but bhakti will work. The Vedic literature says the same thing. In the verse under discussion Lord Caitanya is citing evidence from theŚrīmad-Bhāgavatam, where Lord Kṛṣṇa is instructing his cousin-brother Uddhava just as He instructed Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gītā. Kṛṣṇa says, na sādhayati māṁ yogaḥ: “By adopting the yoga process one cannot succeed in reaching Me.” And then, na sāṅkhyaṁ dharma uddhava: “Nor will philosophical speculation or ordinary religious principles help one reach Me, O Uddhava.”

Real yoga means “connect, plus, addition.” In mathematics we have addition and subtraction. So at the present moment we are in subtraction—God minus myself. I have no sense of God; therefore I am in a “minus” condition. Yoga means God plus myself. That is the real meaning of yoga. For so long I was God-minus; now, through yoga, I become God-plus.

But you must always remember that in the spiritual, absolute sense God plus me is God and God minus me is also God. When I am “minus,” or separated from God, that does not mean God has lost some of His capacity. No. He is full. And when I am “plus,” or reunited with God, that does not mean God has increased in some capacity. No.

In the Bhagavad-gītā Kṛṣṇa gives a good example: āpūryamāṇam acala-pratiṣṭhaṁ samudram. During the rainy season millions of tons of water pour into the ocean from rivers, but the ocean stays the same. If an ordinary ocean does not increase when something is added to it, what to speak of God?

I say “ordinary” because millions of oceans are floating in the universe. Therefore we should not be very astonished to see the Atlantic Ocean. Within space are millions and trillions of oceans like the Atlantic. They are floating just as an atomic particle of water can float in the air. That is the potency of God.

For those who are too engrossed in the bodily conception of life, the yoga system is very good, because it is a practice to withdraw the senses from their engagement in the external world. There are eight stages of yoga practice. The first two are yama and niyama. Under regulative principles one has to try to control the senses in eating, sleeping, and working. That practice is called yama-niyama. The first principle of yoga is to abstain from sex life. That is real yoga. Those indulging in sex life, intoxication, and so many nonsense things have no chance for any success in yoga.

Then one has to sit nicely in a secluded, sanctified place with the neck, head, and body in a straight line. Then you have to look at the tip of your nose with half-opened eyes. If you open your eyes, then the material manifestation will disturb you. And if you close your eyes, then you nap. [Śrīla Prabhupāda imitates someone snoring.] I have seen it. So many “yogis” are doing that, sleeping. [Laughter.]

Another step in the eightfold yoga system is dhāraṇā, concentration of the mind. What is the purpose of concentrating the mind? To find my self within the body and then find the Lord there. That is the perfection of yoga. Not that I do nonsense day and night but then attend a yoga class, pay five dollars, and think, “Oh, I am a great yogi.” That is all nonsense.

Yoga is not so easy. Many so-called yoga teachers are simply exploiting people. I say frankly that they and their students are a society of the cheaters and the cheated.

Although yoga is approved in the Vedic literature, it is very difficult to perform in the modern age. Even five thousand years ago—when the circumstances were more favorable, when people were not so polluted and were advanced in so many things—still, at that time such a person as Arjuna refused to practice yoga. When Kṛṣṇa said to him, “You become a yogi like this,” Arjuna said, “It is not possible for me.”

So yoga is not at all possible now. It was possible in the Satya-yuga, when every man was in the mode of goodness, every man was highly elevated. Yoga is meant for highly elevated persons, not ordinary persons.

But even if yoga is done very nicely and perfectly, it cannot take you to the Supreme Lord. That is stated here in this verse. What to speak of pseudo yoga, even if you perform yoga perfectly, still you cannot reach God. That is stated here: na sādhayati māṁ yogaḥ.

It is also said here, na sāṅkhyaṁ: “Not by Sāṅkhya.” Sāṅkhya means to understand spirit and matter. Sāṅkhya philosophers describe the material world as made of twenty-four parts: the five gross elements, the three subtle elements, the five knowledge-acquiring senses, the five working senses, the five sense objects, and pradhāna, the unmanifested modes of material nature. The five gross material elements are earth, water, fire, air, and ether. Then come the subtle elements. Finer than ether is the mind, finer than the mind is the intelligence, and finer than the intelligence is false ego, the false conception that I am matter. The five knowledge-acquiring senses are the eyes, nose, ears, tongue, and skin. The five working senses are the voice, legs, hands, anus, and genitals. And the five sense objects are smell, taste, form, touch, and sound.

That analysis of the material world into twenty-four parts is called Sāṅkhya. It is a full analysis of everything within our experience. And above the twenty-four elements is the spirit soul. And above the soul is God.

Sāṅkhyites cannot find the soul. They are like material scientists in that they simply study material objects. They have no information above that. Now I am talking with you; so the Sāṅkhya philosophers cannot explain what is that thing which is talking. Similarly, the medical doctor, after dissecting the body, cannot find what is working, the spiritual force. And because the materialists cannot find even the particles of the Supreme Lord—us living entities—what chance do they have of finding God? So neither the yogis nor the Sāṅkhyites can find God.

By dharma, also, one cannot find God. Dharma here refers to rituals. The Hindus go to the temple, the Christians go to the church, and the Muslims go to the mosque with the idea “Here is God.” That is, of course, the beginning. It is nice. That conviction must be there. But because they are trapped in the rituals, they have no further knowledge. They do not try to advance further. They think, “Everything ends here.” So they too cannot attain God.

Then svādhyāya. Svādhyāya means “study,” study of the Vedic literature. And tapa. Tapa means “penance.” Fasting, meditating, living in a solitary place in the jungle—there are many processes of penance and austerity. And tyāga, “renunciation.” Sannyāsa, the renounced order of life, is the emblem of renunciation.

So the Lord says, “All these processes—yoga, Sāṅkhya, rituals, study of the Vedas, penance, and renunciation—combined together or practiced individually, are not suitable for achieving Me.”

So practically all processes are condemned herewith by the Supreme Lord. Condemned in this sense: those who follow them can approach the final goal to a certain extent, but they will never be able to achieve it unless the devotional process is added. Devotion must be there because the end is Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Lord. Kṛṣṇa says in theBhagavad-gītā, bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān māṁ prapadyate: [Bg. 7.19] “After many, many births, those who are actually intelligent come to Me and surrender, having realized that God is everything.”

One has to come to the point of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. You may follow the yoga process, you may follow the philosophical process, you may follow the ritualistic process, or you may perform penances or engage in studying the Vedas. But unless you reach the point of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, you will succeed only to a certain degree.

Unfortunately, people become satisfied with different degrees of success. Hardly anyone tries to reach the final goal. But if anyone wants to reach the final goal, then he has to take up the process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness (bhaktir mamorjitā). That process alone can take you to the Supreme Lord.

Those who are intelligent take to the simple process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. In this age you cannot perform yoga perfectly, you cannot perform religious rituals perfectly, you cannot study perfectly. The circumstances are so unfavorable that these processes are not possible in this age. Therefore Lord Caitanya, by His causeless mercy, has given us the process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, beginning with the chanting of the holy name. And His teaching is corroborated in the Bṛhan-nāradīya Purāṇa:

harer nāma harer nāma harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva nāsty eva gatir anyathā
[Cc. Ādi 17.21]

“In this Age of Kali, simply by chanting the holy name of Kṛṣṇa one can attain the ultimate goal. There is no alternative. There is no alternative. There is no alternative.”

So Lord Caitanya has not manufactured something by recommending bhakti as the only means to the ultimate goal. He is quoting from authorized scripture so that people can accept the path of bhakti. Therefore we should accept this process, especially the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, and if we follow it very seriously and sincerely we will practically see that this is the only process for swiftly realizing the Supreme Truth, the Absolute Truth.

Thank you very much.

How to See and Know God

In this talk Śrīla Prabhupāda sharply distinguishes between human beings and animals: “One’s spiritual life begins when one asks, What am I? Why have I come here? Why am I put into so many miserable conditions? Is there any remedy? Human life is meant for answering these questions…. [But] if one is simply directed by the urges of the senses, one is no better than the ducks and dogs.” (October 1968, Seattle)

We are worshiping Govinda, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the original person. And this song we were just singing—govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi **—is reaching Him. He’s hearing it. You cannot say He’s not hearing it. Especially in this scientific age, when radio messages are broadcast thousands and thousands of miles so you can hear them, it is easy to understand how Govinda, Kṛṣṇa, can hear your sincere prayer.

Similarly, just as you can see a television picture transmitted from thousands and thousands of miles away, you can always see Govinda in your heart if you prepare yourself properly. This is stated in the Brahma-saṁhitā [5.38]:premāñjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena santaḥ sadaiva hṛdayeṣu vilokayanti [Bs. 5.38]. There is a television within your heart; it is not that you have to purchase the television set—it is there in your heart. And God is also there. You can see Him, you can hear Him, you can talk with Him, provided you repair the machine. And this repairing process is Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Now, to repair a television an expert technician is required. Similarly, you require the help of someone expert in the science of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Then the machine in your heart will work and you will be able to see Kṛṣṇa. This is the perfection of yoga.

In the scriptures we hear how one can come to this perfection: sādhu-śāstra-guru-vākya, cittete kariyā aikya.Spiritual realization can be perfected by following three parallel lines: sādhu (saintly persons who are realized souls), śāstra (authoritative Vedic scriptures), and guru (the spiritual master). In the railway yard you see two parallel tracks, and if they’re in order the railway carriages go very smoothly to their destination. In Kṛṣṇa consciousness there are three parallel lines: association with saintly persons (sādhus), faith in the scriptures (śāstra),and acceptance of a bona fide spiritual master (guru). If you place your vehicle on these three parallel lines, it will go directly to Kṛṣṇa, without any disturbance.

Now, here in the Bhagavad-gītā, Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is explaining Himself. But suppose you say, “How can I believe that Kṛṣṇa said these words? Somebody may have written them in the name of Kṛṣṇa.” No. Because the Bhagavad-gītā is accepted by saintly persons, we should also accept it. Beginning from Vyāsadeva and Nārada, down to many ācāryas [spiritual exemplars] like Rāmānujācārya, Madhvācārya, Viṣṇu Svāmī, and Lord Caitanya, all have accepted the Bhagavad-gītā: “Yes, it is spoken by God, Kṛṣṇa.” So this is the proof that theBhagavad-gītā is authentic. Saintly persons, sādhus, have accepted the Bhagavad-gītā as scripture; therefore it is scripture. That is the test.

This is a common-sense affair. If lawyers accept some book as a law book, then we should understand that it is an authoritative law book. You cannot say, “Why should I accept this law book?” The evidence is that the lawyers have accepted it. Similarly, if the medical practitioners accept a book as authoritative, then we should know that it is an authoritative medical book. In the same way, since saintly persons accept the Bhagavad-gītā as scripture, you cannot deny that it is scripture. So these are the two lines of sādhu and śāstra, saintly persons and scripture.

And who is a guru, a spiritual master? He who follows and explains the scripture. The sādhu confirms the scripture, and the spiritual master follows and explains the scripture. So sādhu, śāstra, and guru are always in agreement. What is spoken in the scripture is accepted by saintly persons, and what is spoken in the scripture is followed and explained by the spiritual master, and he explains only that. The via media is the scripture, just as in the law court the via media is the law book. So the saintly persons, the scriptures, and the spiritual master: when you follow these three parallel lines your life is successful.

Now, in the beginning of the Seventh Chapter of the Bhagavad-gītā Kṛṣṇa speaks about yoga. In the first six chapters He explains the constitutional position of the living entity. Until that is understood, your activities in yoga,in relation to Kṛṣṇa, cannot actually begin. Suppose you are working in an office. If your post is not settled up—if you don’t know what duties you have to execute—you cannot do anything very nicely. The typist, the clerk, the errand boy—they are executing their work very nicely because they understand their duties. Therefore, to practice yoga one first has to understand the constitutional position of the living entity, and that is explained in the first six chapters of the Bhagavad-gītā.

So yoga means to understand one’s constitutional position and to act in that position. The first step is controlling the senses (yoga indriya-saṁyama). Now everyone is busy gratifying the senses. When you stand on the street, you see that everybody is very busy. The storekeeper is busy, the motorcar driver is busy—everyone is very busy. How are they busy? If you minutely study their business, you will find that their only business is sense gratification. That’s all. Everyone is busy trying to gratify his senses. This is material life. And spiritual life, or yoga, means to control the senses and understand our constitutional position as spirit souls.

One’s spiritual life begins when one asks, What am I? Why have I come here? Why am I put into so many miserable conditions? Is there any remedy? Human life is meant for answering these questions. Animals do not know anything except sense gratification. They have no power of understanding; their consciousness is not developed. For example, in Green Lake Park there are many ducks. As soon as somebody goes there with a little food, they gather: “Kaa, kaa, kaa, kaa.” And after eating, they enjoy sex. That’s all. The life of cats and dogs is like that also, and human life is also like that if one never asks, What am I? If one is simply directed by the urges of the senses, one is no better than the ducks and dogs.

So in the first six chapters of the Bhagavad-gītā Kṛṣṇa explains that the living entity is a spiritual spark. It is very difficult to find out where the spark is because it is so minute. No microscope can find it out. But it is there in your body. Because it is in your body, you are moving, you are talking, you are planning—you are doing so many things simply by the influence of that spiritual spark.

We are very minute sparks of the supreme spirit, just like particles of sunshine. The sun’s rays are made up of shining particles, and when these shining particles mix together they form sunshine. Similarly, we are minute particles of God, and because we are part and parcel of God we have the same propensities as God: thinking, feeling, willing, creating—everything. Whatever you see in yourself is there in God also. Therefore, since we are all persons, God cannot be impersonal. I have so many propensities in a very minute quantity, and the same propensities are there in Kṛṣṇa, or God, in an unlimited quantity. This is the science of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

We are small, infinitesimal, yet we still have so many propensities, so many desires, so many activities, so much brainwork. Just imagine how much greater are God’s desires and activities and brainwork! So qualitatively God and the living entity are one, but quantitatively we are different. He is great, we are small. He is infinite, we are infinitesimal.

Now, when sparks are in the fire they glow very nicely, but when they are out of the fire they are extinguished. Similarly, since we are sparks of Kṛṣṇa, when we associate with Him our illuminating quality is manifested. Otherwise, we are practically extinguished, or covered. The living spark cannot be extinguished. If it were extinguished, how are we manifesting our living condition? No, it is not extinguished; it is covered. When a fire is covered you can feel heat on the cover, but you cannot see the fire directly. Similarly, when the spiritual spark is covered by the material dress, the body, you can see the effects of the spark—your activities of life—but you cannot see the spark directly. To see the spiritual spark directly, to uncover your original spiritual nature, you must practice yoga.

In the first verse of the Sixth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gītā, Kṛṣṇa explains the yoga process: mayy āsakta-manāḥ pārtha yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ. You have to constantly engage your mind in thoughts of Kṛṣṇa. That is the yoga process we are presenting as Kṛṣṇa consciousness. And it is not very difficult. Kṛṣṇa is beautiful, all-attractive, and He has many activities. The Vedic literature is full of Kṛṣṇa’s activities. And the Bhagavad-gītā isfull of Kṛṣṇa’s teachings. Simply understanding that God is great is a neutral state of understanding. You have to elevate yourself more and more by understanding how great He is. Of course, it is not possible to fully understand how great He is, because our senses are always imperfect, but as far as possible we should try. You can hear about the activities of God, about the position of God, and you can put your argument and make your judgment. Then you will understand without any doubt what God is.

So real yoga is mayy āsakta-manāḥ, always thinking of Kṛṣṇa. At the end of the Sixth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gītāKṛṣṇa explains that one who is constantly absorbed in thoughts of Him is a first-class yogi. In Western countries yoga has become very popular, but most people do not know who is a first-class yogi. Kṛṣṇa says, yoginām api sarveṣāṁ mad-gatenāntarātmanā … sa me yuktatamo mataḥ: [Bg. 6.47] “Out of many thousands of yogis, he who is always seeing the form of Kṛṣṇa within his heart is first class.”

So you have to practice that first-class yoga system, which Kṛṣṇa describes as mayy āsakta-manāḥ: “Make your mind attached to Me.” The mind is the vehicle for attachment, and generally we become attached to a person—a boy, a girl, and so on. Impersonal attachment is bogus. So yoga begins by attaching the mind to Kṛṣṇa by always thinking of Him, and it culminates in love of Kṛṣṇa. For example, there are many nice paintings of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī with Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana. So you can always think of such a picture; then you will constantly be insamādhi [yogic trance]. Why try to think of something impersonal, some void? If you try to think of the void, you will start thinking of some light, some color—so many things will come into your mind. The mind must think of some form. How can we avoid form? It is not possible. Therefore, why not concentrate your mind on the supreme form, Kṛṣṇa?

Īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ sac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥ [Bs. 5.1]. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, the supreme controller, is Kṛṣṇa, and He has a body. What sort of body? Sac-cid-ānanda: an eternal body full of bliss and knowledge. Not a body like ours. Our body is full of ignorance, full of miseries, and not eternal—just the opposite of Kṛṣṇa’s. His body is eternal, my body is not eternal. His body is full of bliss, my body is full of miseries. There is always something troubling us: headache, toothache, this ache, that ache. Somebody is giving us personal trouble, we are feeling severe heat, severe cold—so many things. But Kṛṣṇa’s form, Kṛṣṇa’s body, is eternally full of bliss and knowledge.

So Kṛṣṇa consciousness means always thinking of Kṛṣṇa’s form, name, pastimes, and so on. How can we practice this yoga system, Kṛṣṇa consciousness? Mayy āsakta-manāḥ pārtha yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ. Mad-āśrayaḥmeans “taking shelter of somebody who is in touch with Me.” As soon as you think of Kṛṣṇa you are in direct touch with Him. But unless you take shelter of a spiritual master who knows about Him, you cannot concentrate for a long time; your concentration will be temporary. Therefore, if you want to concentrate on Kṛṣṇa continuously, you have to hear from a person who knows about Kṛṣṇa, and you have to act according to his directions. Your life should be molded according to the directions of the spiritual master. Then you can practice yoga perfectly.

As mentioned before, Kṛṣṇa explains the perfection of yoga in the last verse of the Sixth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gītā. Yoginām api sarveṣāṁ mad-gatenāntarātmanā…sa me yuktatamo mataḥ: [Bg. 6.47] “One who is always thinking of Me is a first-class yogi.” So we have to place Kṛṣṇa in our mind; we have to always think of Him. How? Kṛṣṇa explains [Bg. 7.1],

mayy āsakta-manāḥ pārtha yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ
asaṁśayaṁ samagraṁ māṁ yathā jñāsyasi tac chṛṇu

“Under My protection, under the protection of My representative, always think of Me. Then you will understand Me perfectly well, without doubt, and your life will be successful.” Asaṁśayaṁ means “without any doubt.” If you doubt that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, just put forward your questions and try to understand. It is undoubtedly a fact that He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but if you have some doubt, you can clear it up by placing questions before the spiritual master.

So if you practice Kṛṣṇa consciousness, the topmost of all yoga systems, in this way, then without any doubt you’ll understand Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, perfectly well. And your life will be successful.

Thank you very much.

 

 

2 Comments

2 thoughts on “Bhakti-yoga, the essence of life

    • Well, bhakti-yoga is my way of life, but I incorporate other simple yoga asanas and pranayamas from time to time, just to help my body heal. Depending on time, place and circumstance, normal yoga asanas can be done as often as the body can cope, according to the type of asanas applied. 🙂

      Anyone can benefit from bhakti-yoga from which ever position they are. Just by simply chanting the maha-mantra recommended by the Supreme Lord, one is immediately transferred to the realms of bhakti-yoga. The maha-mantra you will find on the post called Karma-yoga & Astanga-yoga. 🙂

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