The Journey Home Book - By Radhanath Swami
At the age of only nineteen, Radhanath Swami left his home in America seeking adventure and spiritual knowledge. After trekking across Europe for months, Radhanath Swami reached his long hoped for destination: India. After living there for many years as a sadhu or wandering monk, Radhanath Swami returned to America in order to share the sacred knowledge and wisdom he had learned from the many holy men and women he had met there. It was an extraordinary choice, given what Radhanath Swami had survived to get there: a journey filled with bizarre characters, mystical experiences, and dangerous adventures. The story is recounted in his recently published memoir The Journey Home - Autobiography of an American Swami. Reviewers have called Radhanath Swami's saga "at once an engaging yarn, a love story, and the evocation of a transcendent paradise in all its savagery, solitude, and splendor.
Radhanath Swami emerged from his years of travel wanting to explain for others the beauty and rewards of a life devoted to God, and therein lay a dilemma. Radhanath Swami's many followers and friends describe him as completely selfless and consequently unwilling to take credit for his work and restless when a spotlight is focused on him. By choosing A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami (1896-1977), a Bengali Vaishnava Saint, as his guru (after declining offers of initiation from several tyagis or renunciants in the Himalayas), Radhanath Swami cast his fate to the wind, cut his matted locks, and entered back into the society.
RadhanathMaharaj.net gives us a complete collection of the teaching of Radhanath Swami. Teachings consists of Transcriptions of lectures delivered by Radhanath Swami at various places. This website is to inspire the followers of Radhanath Swami to practice the philosophy of Vaishanavism.
HH Radhanath Swami Maharaj: I welcome all assembled devotees to this auspicious weekly program at the house of Mahaprabhu Prabhu and Palika Mataji and Giri-govardhan Prabhu. This Friday evening satsang has been regularly taking place since November of 1979. This is the 25th year where devotees have gathered here every Friday to hear and chant the glories of the Lord. When we first came, this was a simple car garage and devotees would sit in this area,
the neighbors didn’t know what was happening or why, but it was happening. And gradually, Sri Sri Radha Brindavan Natabar appeared, a beautiful temple, out of a car garage a wonderful temple has manifested. And every Friday there is devotees speaking from Sri BG, kirtan, wonderful feast of Krishna’s Prasad. This is a great effort, considering it began with the enthusiastic devotion of just one family. This evening, I asked Mahaprabhu Prabhu, what would you like me to speak on. He very assertively, which he can be sometimes, gave me the topic. He said, speak on, how to balance grhastha life with spiritual life. So on his order; I will discuss Mahaprabhu and his family, hopefully to his satisfaction.
Yes, Mahaprabhu Prabhu, in his enthusiasm, in his conviction, on the basis of faith, along with his good wife Palika and family members, they devised the means by which they could support all their family needs and simultaneously offer so much of their hearts to the mission of Lord Sri Krishna. If we have faith and conviction of the necessity of something, then by our God given intelligence, we will find the means by which it can be achieved. If we understand that our spiritual life is important, then we will make the time. If eating is important, you make time, if sleeping is important, you make time. In this world, there is so much degradation taking place, on practically every level due to the loss of spiritual virtues. People being enamored by the glare of material existence, are performing the work that is declared in scripture to be preyas. There are two types of work: preyas and shreyas. Preyas is animal consciousness, which includes, perhaps 98% of human civilization. It means we are aspiring for that which gives us immediate temporary happiness or relief from suffering. Shreyas is to understand what is actually our best interest for the future. Now the question is are we this body or are we the soul. If we are this body, then animals have very very good intelligence and we should follow them, because they are completely absorbed in satisfying the needs of the body. But human life is specifically differentiated from the animal civilization because a human being can question his or her existence. Who am I? Where am I coming from? Where am I going? What is the actual goal of life? Who is God? What is my relationship to God? When these questions become prominent within our lives, then we tread the path of human beings.
According to all the great acharyas, according to all the great scriptures (pause), ignorance Nasato vidhyate bhavo, na bhavo vidhyate satha, ubhyor api drshtantas tyanosthata darshibi. Ignorance is to make the goal in life that which is temporary. And those who live by truth aspire for that which is ever-lasting, eternal. We are eternal, God is eternal, our relationship is eternal. That quest for eternal truth, that quest for ecstatic love, that is dormant within us, should be the prominent focus of our lives. And all of our occupational responsibilities, domestic needs, they should all be harmonized to fulfill the aim of life, because death is inevitable. At the time of death, everything except whatever cultivation of spiritual consciousness we have attained, everything is taken away. And where is the destination of the soul. Now in modern people’s way of thinking, this is not relevant. “Be here now, enjoy now, while you have the capacity to do so”. How long will it last. Human life is so short in duration, at the most 80 or 90 years. And what I see in the audience today that a good portion of you are well over half way to your destination. But in this world: Padam Padam Yad Vipadam Na Tesam, death could come at any moment. I know several people, astrologers told them they would live till 72 or 85, and when they were in their 30’s they died. In the age of Kali, you can’t even trust the stars anymore!
Padam Padam Yad Vipadam Na Tesam, it is a fact that there are danger at every step. What is our real interest? An intelligent person prepares in this life and prepares also for what is beyond this life. Self-realization: athato brahma jijnasa. When we associate with spiritually minded people, sadhu sanga sadhu sanga sarva sastra koye, when we associate with people who are searching for spiritual elevation, or for people who have realized the spiritual essence within their hearts, in that association we hear transcendental knowledge, then we are inspired to read the holy scriptures and the sacred commentaries of the great vaisnavas. And then we desire a life, not of temporary enjoyment, but a life of purification. Because the ecstatic love and joy that we are all looking for is dormant within the heart. It is the nature of the soul, but it is covered. And in that covered state, we have forgotten who we are and where we really want to be. So yoga, spirituality, religion, in their essence, they are all there as means by which we can cleanse or purify our hearts. In this age of kali, the most simple and powerful of all means of purifying the heart is by chanting the names of the Lord, because the name of God is non-different than the Lord himself. The name of God is like fire, it burns to ashes all misconceptions, it burns to ashes all of our sinful reactions in the various stages. The scriptures explain that when you commit a sinful activity or a materialistic activity, then a karmic reaction is inevitable. You cannot escape; you cannot cheat the laws of nature. You can cheat even the best government within this world, somehow or other, but you can never cheat, even for a moment, the laws of nature. “Maya dyakshena prkruti suyathe sacaracharam”: why, because the laws of nature are working under the direction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead (Haribol), therefore they are infallible. For every good deed we perform we will get a pleasurable reaction. But even good deeds give pleasurable reactions that further attach us to that which is temporary. And in that attachment, we become bound by the rope of the mode of goodness. There are 3 modes of nature – goodness, passion and ignorance. The word guna is sometimes translated as ropes – they keep us bound. But from the mode of goodness, if we are intelligent, we can transcend the modes of material nature. “Traigunya visiya veda nis traigunya bhavarjuna” – Krishna tells in the BG that the scriptures mainly deal with the 3 modes of material nature, rise above these modes O’ Arjuna and be transcendental to all of them, because that is our nature. The soul is spiritual, it is not under the subjugation of material nature, unless the false ego gives us the misconception that we are! So the goal of life is to transcend the modes of material nature and realize the reality within us, which is “satchitananda” –eternal, full of knowledge and full of bliss.
The modes of passion and ignorance, when they influence us, we actually act like puppets, puppets moving around being pulled by the ropes. You have seen puppeteer? And the puppeteer goes like this and the puppet goes like this, the puppeteer goes like this and the puppet goes like this. We think we are acting independently, but actually we are not. People think that an independent life is a free life, especially in the Western world. And it’s becoming like that in India. Why should we be bound by the restrictions of religious principles? Why should we be stifled in our freedom by tradition? We should be free to do what we want, when we want, how we want, with who we want, where we want. That is the modern man, the modern woman that is social progress. And therefore we see more and more places serving the meat, more and more places serving the liquor alcohol, more and more people watching the televisions, more and more young people having interactions with the opposite sex. Freedom, freedom is progress. But actually to a person who just sees beyond the glaring veneer of illusion, sees there’s no freedom in this at all. They are slaves, they are being controlled. The mode of passion, just twww, and aahhh I am free, I can enjoy. Eat, drink, be merry cause tomorrow will never come. They are slaves, they are being manipulated, they are being controlled, by the modes of nature. Passion says this, we run that way. Ignorance says this, we run that way. Eat this, drink this, touch this, see this, smell this! Just like the bull, you have seen in India, sometimes they put the ring in their nose, cause nose is very sensitive. Even though they are so big, these bulls, I have seen in America, huge bull, gigantic bull, he could just run into a truck, and the truck will be destroyed practically. Big, strong and when they roar, it’s very very… you have to hold your ears, powerful these bulls. Sometimes they keep them in solid steel, and block cages. But yet I have seen little boys, just pulling with a rope on their nose and they will go wherever they want. They are just pulled this way…aannnhhh. The bull is so foolish, when the boy pulls him to the left, the bull thinks now I want to go to the left, hhmmmrrrrrhhhhhhhhhhhh, and the boy pulls right, little boy, and the bull - now I want to go to the right, hhmmmrrrrrhhhhhhhhhhhh. And he’s looking at the cows, aannhhh, see I am going right left, but actually they are being controlled, they are being pulled. That is modern civilization! You go the cinemas; I don’t know what they are like now. But back in the 60’s, they were probably much cleaner then. I remember what they were like, the great stars with the heros, who can just fight, battle and have romance, yes! They are just hhmmmrrrrrhhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaa, hhmmmrrrrrhhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaa. They are just being pulled and pulled one direction and the other, and they are considered great heros, because they are so completely subjugated by the lower impulses of the animal instincts, yes! And we try to make all these animal instincts very very sophisticated. To a saintly person, whether hogs and dogs wear suits, tuxedos or embroidered sarees or whether their bodies are covered with hair, they are doing the same thing.
Actual independence means to be able to say no when the ropes of material influences start pulling us through our mind and senses. That is actual advancement of civilization. So when we chant the names of the Lord, that is the proven process which is emphasized in the scriptures and by all the great self-realized souls. It is the means of cleaning our heart, purifying our mind, so we are no longer under the powerful grip, control, subjugation and slavery of the 3 gunas. We act according to spiritually intelligent philosophical reasoning, rather than just what we think we like and don’t like. Within our hearts, everything we do, the reactions are stored until the reactions come –beejam, kutam. When you commit an activity, a sinful activity, what happens is the seed of the reaction is within your heart and it starts to grow. And ultimately, the physical reaction comes upon us, it is unavoidable. It may come in this life, it may come in a future life, but the reaction will come! If you cause any pain to any living entity, human or otherwise, that reaction, that pain must come upon you with greater force, you cannot avoid it. It is just a matter of time. But worse than that, not only will the reaction come, but also the inclination to do it again becomes deeper and stronger within the heart. That is why, when people starting growing up in this world, they have their own personalities, they have their own very very individualistic passions, cravings, or piety. These are these inclinations. Everything we speak, everything we do, we are developing those inclinations, practically irresistible inclinations, to do them again, within our hearts. A gross example is if somebody spokes enough cigarettes, he can’t stop smoking cigarettes, he is just addicted. His inclinations are so strong. But that’s the way it is for all types of material activities: the more we do them, the more we become internally addicted to that tendency to do it. And the reactions come, and along with the reactions, the inclination grows. It’s a vicious cycle! How to get out of this cycle? “ceto darpana marjanam bhava maha davagni nirvapanam”: When we chant the holy names of the Lord, it cleanses the heart, cleanses the heart of all different levels, it actually extinguishes the seed of inclination for sinful, materialistic, egoistic, selfish, envious activities. That is what human life is for, for purification. That is real culture. So if we understand this very clearly, then yes, we will make it a priority in our life to teach our children how to be pure lovers of God, and honest and earnest servants of the society, and to be an example of that ourselves. That is love, that is knowledge. So to make that a priority is intelligence. And when we make that the priority, we have faith in the truth, then it behooves us to balance and regulate our life in such a way that everything we do or speak is harmonized toward achieving our goal. And actually it is simple, if we are honest. Honest before God and honest with ourselves. But to the degree we are duplicitous, it’s very difficult. But where there is a will, there is a way. We see throughout history, many of the most dynamic people within the world, they were servants of God and all humanity. And they never compromised their integrity.
This little house, so much of the wealth, so much of the time goes to giving people, to nourishing people with Bhakti. Charity is to help needy people. People need food, they need clothing, they need hospitalization, they need emotional encouragement. But they also need spiritual enlivenment, spiritual education. People’s hearts are starving, and the starvation of the heart causes much more problems than the starvation of the belly. Starvation of the belly, give some food and it is alright. But it is very very difficult to satisfy the hunger of the heart. And factually, this poverty of the heart is as much if not more amongst the very educated wealthy people of the world, as it is to the simple and common people. And that creates massive problems and disturbances within the world that we live. Unless we solve that hunger in people’s hearts, people will be selfish, they will be crooked, they will be duplicitous, they will waste their lives and they won’t have a sense of compassion toward other people who are wasting their lives. A saintly person weeps and cries in sorrow to see the poor man loitering in the street without food to eat, but weeps and cries perhaps even more to see the big executives in their offices who are spiritually starving in their hearts. They have no conception of their relationship with themselves or with God. It is sorrowful. So what is here is there is distribution of prasadam, there is transcendental knowledge, there is the congregational chanting of the holy names. It’s actually the highest quality, the more inclusive form of welfare. Because if you change the hearts of the educated, if you make greedy, selfish people into compassionate instruments of God’s love, then everyone will work together to help everyone. And for the last 25 years, that is what is taking place here. Nourishing the hearts of the devotees to make them stronger and bringing so many people in to nourish their hearts. And actually through this program, many people, perhaps hundred’s of people have transcended egoistic materialistic lives and learned to live a scientific life, harmonizing all of their concerns with the goal of spiritual enlightenment.
So we are very very grateful and very proud of Mahaprabhu Prabhu and his good family for this very good work. And Rohininandan Prabhu, Devipriya Mataji, Vrishabhanu Prabhu, Kirtida Mataji and all the other devotees who have been… Sahadev Prabhu and Sucichitra, Sachitananda, who have been helping so nicely to develop this wonderful center.
In Lord Caitanya’s time, there was a devotee of the name Shivananda Sen. He has a very nice wife and he had many children also. But he was such, such an incredible personality; his life was to be please the Lord, Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Every year, the devotees of Nabadvip would go to Puri on pilgrimage, to see Lord Caitanya. They would stay there for several months, that was their priority. They worked, they did their jobs and every year for 3 months, they went, 4 months they went, to visit the Lord, and just hear and chant, dance and sing with him and render loving service to Lord Jagannath. And Shivananda Sen, he would organize the entire journey from Navadvip to Puri and back. It took about 15-20 days walking each way. And in those days, this is 500 years ago approximately. There wasn’t highways, there wasn’t hotels like we know it on the roadsides. He had to arrange every night accommodations for 3 to 400 hundred people, every night and he had to arrange 3 meals a day for 3 to 400 people in the middle of nowhere, he arranged everything. He paid for everything, he organized everything, he managed everything, and he made sure each and every devotee was satisfied. What an incredible person, because he knew this will please my Lord, Krishna will be satisfied, so I will do it. If other people were saying, Shivananda Sen, don’t you think this is extreme? It’s not extreme, it was his love, he did this every single year, for about 20 years consecutively and he never complained. He loved to do it, and his whole family was so inspired and ecstatic to help him. He had a home, we visited the place of his home, he had a nice estate. He was a simple man, not very rich, but he had a nice little estate, nice home. One time, when he came to Puri, he told Lord Caitanya that my wife has not come because she is pregnant. And Lord Caitanya was so happy, he said: ooohhhhhh, when the child is born, name him Paramananda Puri. So when he came back after the 4 months, the child was born and he named him Puri, Puri das. And how the Lord loved the children of Shivananda Sen, he loved the children of Shivananda Sen as if they were His own children. Why? Because the family was do deeply committed to pleasing the Lord in every way.
There is a story (very nice breeze is coming), there is a story of how one time Shivananda Sen, he was taking the devotees and there were various tax collector booths/gates. Because in those days, it wasn’t like India was one country. Every province was sometimes ruled by different land-owners or Kings. And every now and then you have pay taxes. And sometimes the tax collectors were very crooked. So every year he would go, and he would pay, he would pay all the taxes for all the devotees happily. But one year they asked for a large sum more. This tax collector was very crooked, and the King went on a vacation somewhere, so the King wasn’t there to check him. So he demanded so much more and Shivananda Sen said: “Every year I give you this much, and that’s what it costs, so this is how much I brought this year. That’s all I have”. He said:”No, I want… (about a 100 times more)”. So Shivananda Sen was helpless. So the tax collector ordered him to be put in chains and dragged into the dark dirty prison, horrible place. The devotees were crying, they were praying to Lord Krishna: “Please save him, he’s just, he’s just…”, and they didn’t have anything to help. So he was in prison, in the dark, cold, with chains on his arms, chains on his legs, and people were verbally torturing him and threatening to beat him. And in the middle of the night, was pitch dark. The guard came, and grabbed him by the chains and said: “Come, the tax collector wants to see you”, shhhweehh. So he was dragged out, it was pitch dark. And there they were people standing with torches, many many big guards, they looked like executioners, big military guards with flaming torches. And there was the tax collector, in the center of all of them. And they dragged Shivananda Sen and he was thinking: “what are they going to do me to me now”. He was praying to Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu: “Please, whatever is your will, let it be, I am yours”. So he was dragged into this very very fearful scene, in the middle of the night, surrounded by flaming torches. And the tax collector approached him and asked him a question. He said: “I am a devotee of Lord Jagannath. I have a question for you. Who is better: Jagannath or Caitanya. Lord Jagannath or Lord Caitanya, who is better, who is greater?” Shivananda Sen with great humility and conviction, he said: “Lord…” (smiles from devotees). The tax collector said: “I am a devotee of Jagannath. I want to know from you, who is better”. The guards were standing there with flaming torches, swords, bludgeons, knifes, clubs. Now tell me, what would you say? How many of you would say… Actually everybody very loudly tell me what you would say in that situation. (Maharaj smiles).
Shivananda Sen replied, humble conviction, he said: “Of the two, the greatest is Lord Caitanya!” Why? Because Lord Caitanya and Jagannath are the same person. “Jai gaura sei Krishna sei Jagannath”: he who is gaura, is he who is Krishna, is he who is Jagannath. But “namo maha vadanyaya Krishna prema pradayathe, krishnaya Krishna caitanya namne gaurathvishe namaha”, Lord Jagannath is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the greatest, who is standing in His temple in Jagannath Puri, bestowing his mercy upon all. But that same Lord Jagannath, the Lord of the universe, has incarnated as Lord Caitanya, to go out, into the streets, into the pathways, into the forests, into the villages everywhere, and embrace people and induce people to chant His own holy names. And people who would, even atheists, who would never even consider going to Jagannath temple, even people who the priests would not allow in the Jagannath temple, Lord Jagannath in His form of Lord Caitanya is attracting their hearts, giving them pure love of God, and inducing them to make their lives perfect by the chanting of the holy names:
All devotees chanting: “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare”.
So with complete faith, Shivananda Sen said: “Lord Caitanya is the greatest!” There was complete silence. Then the tax collector, with a rumbling and grave voice spoke. He said: “I am very glad you gave that answer”. He said: “Earlier tonight, when I was sleeping, I had a dream. Lord Jagannath appeared to me, and His eyes, those big lotus eyes, were red with anger. He said: “Lord Caitanya is my incarnation, He has descended into this world to give love of God to everyone. And Shivananda Sen is my devotee. If you cause any harm to him, I will destroy you”.” So the tax collector not only released Shivananda Sen, but ordered his soldiers, a few of them, to give them, to give, to escort them throughout the rest of the kingdom. And not only did he not charge any taxes for any of the devotees, but he gave a donation. That is the power of a devotee’s faith. Doesn’t compromise simply for some popular relative considerations, but lives with integrity, lives with honesty.
Another time…, should I continue? Devotees: “Haribol!!!!”
Another time, a dog joined the party of 400 devotees. Now you know how the dogs are in India, street dogs. Not one of these pedigree, imported French dogs or German dogs, just ordinary on the streets. This dog, just was attracted to the devotees, attracted to the chanting of the holy names, attracted to hear about Krishna. He followed along. And Shivananda Sen, because he’s a…, because he loves God, he sees that the soul within the heart of every living being is part of God, he had compassion for this dog. He made sure every day that dog was fed special rice. Because actually, I know one devotee, he had a dog and he used to feed him rice prasad, and the dog was so happy, he liked rice prasad. All the other dogs would chase after rabbits and eat them, but he would just, just eat his prasad, very nice! In Barsana, there was a lion, and this lion was living in a cave under the bhajan kutir of one very very advanced devotee. This is a true story, just happened one generation back. Some of the people still remember, or their parents told them about it. And this lion was so much transformed just by living near a sadhu, hearing him chanting, hearing hari katha, getting the blessings of the sadhu, that the lion actually become his disciple. He used to everyday go out and do madhukari, begging for his guru. His guru would put a bag around his neck that said on it: Madhukari. And he would just go to the door of the villagers and just: bbbaaaiiirrrrghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! People would run to the door and they’d see a lion standing at the door. What would be your reaction? But they saw he very, was just looking at them very nicely, bow his head, and he had this madhukari, so they put some roti in the bag. The he would just go to the next door. Bbbaaaiiirrrrghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, they’d come, madhukari, they put some roti in it, and it would go to the next. And soon, they all knew him, they weren’t afraid any more, they knew he was a gentle devotee. They would just come and put. And this lion was so self-controlled, he actually became a brahmachari! This lion was so self-controlled, this is a true story, that he would never eat a single roti from his bag. He would deliver them all to his guru. He would come with his bag, the guru would take the bag off, and take some prasad. And then he would only eat the maha maha prasad, the remnants of his gurudeva. So this is how, the association of great souls, the compassion and the love of great souls can influence people’s hearts. So Shivananda Sen would feed this dog rice every day, and honor the dog just like he honored all the other great souls. Now in India, there is sometimes this problem of discrimination against castes of people, discriminations of the rich against the poor, or the high caste against the low caste, discrimination of race, discrimination of religions. But when you become a lover of God, when you become spiritually clean within your heart, “sammoham sarva bhutesu, suhruda sarva dehi naam”, Krishna is equal to every living being, Krishna is the well-wisher of all living beings. And when we become God-like through purification, we also become well-wisher of every living being. So yes, Shivananda Sen was compassionate and kind servant of a dog, not like a pet, but in a very very spiritually servant way. He didn’t want to possess him, he served him. Anyone in my party is my master, I must serve him. And he was in the travelling party.
They came to one place, where there was a boat they had to go across river. And the boatman, all the devotees went on, and Shivananda Sen paid for every single devotee from his own hard earned wealth, with happiness. He didn’t want prestige, he didn’t want his name engraved in stone to show the world for all time to come what he had done. He simply wanted to please the Lord by pleasing the devotees. So when everyone was on the boat, the dog came and the boatman said: “No dogs allowed on my boats”. So Shivananda Sen had to pay several times more fare for the dog than any person, to convince the person to bring the dog. Hare Krishna! One day, he was… he was delayed in some tax collecting situation and he told some of his assistants: “Feed all the devotees, but make sure you also give rations to the dog”. But it slipped his mind, wasn’t a very important priority, he forgot. When Shivananda Sen came, the dog was gone. He looked everywhere, the dog was gone. And he felt sorry in his heart, I did not serve him properly. Krishna sent me, Krishna sent me someone on this party and I did not serve him properly.
When he came to Puri, he went to Lord Caitanya’s house and who do you think he saw with Lord Caitanya. Who do you think?
Say it loud please.
Haribol! (Maharaj smiles!) He saw Lord Caitanya personally eating green coconut, and then taking the remnants from his mouth and throwing it to the dog and telling the dog, “Chant Krishna”. And the dog was going: “Krishna!” And eating, catching the coconut and eating it. Getting mahaprasad and being induced to chant by the Lord Himself! The next day that dog was promoted to the spiritual world, Goloka Vrindavan. How is that possible? Shivananda Sen bowed down to the dog when he saw him. Such humility! Because of Shivananda Sen’s loving service to the Lord, anybody who he showed favor to, the Lord delivered. That is the power of a devotee’s love. Yes, Shivananda Sen was so much loved by the Lord, he was so much respected by all because he balanced his life so perfectly by keeping his spiritual priorities always intact. Now it is true, that perhaps nobody here could imitate Shivananda Sen and that is not expected of you. But one thing every single person can do, man, woman or child, brahmachari, grhastha, vanaprastha, or sannyasi, we can all follow the inspiration; follow in the footsteps of the great souls. “Mahajano yena gathaso pantha”, the shastras tell us that the way to perfection is to follow in the footsteps of great souls. That’s why the great souls come in this world, to show us by their example. Yes, we have so many monetary or financial needs. How people in this world put so much of their previous life’s energy into somehow or other making more and more money? Have you ever seen this before in your life? That’s one thing that is consistent everywhere in the world, whether you go to any state of America, Japan, Australia, the middle east, the far east, South America, North America, any of the states of India, South east Asia, Singapore, Malaysia, anywhere you go, people are struggling so hard to make money. Prahlad Maharaj told why, because money is the honey. Haribol! But how to balance that with our spiritual needs? How to balance our responsibilities to our families, educating our children, our duties to our parents, our duties to the nation… Actual intelligence that Bhagavad-gita teaches is for that purpose, to learn how to balance and harmonize our lives so all our responsibilities are fulfilled in such a way: “samsiddir hari tosanam” that we please God. We work our occupation; we raise our family in such a way that we are pleasing the Lord. That means there must be morality, there must be ethical values in our life and beyond them, and more important even is there must be spiritual vision, there must be devotion. And that is awakened by giving quality time on a regular basis to cleansing our heart by associating with sadhu’s. That is the wonderful benediction of this program every Friday. At a local area, in this area people can come to associate with sadhu’s. Sadhu doesn’t mean a person in saffron with matted hair or shaved. Sadhu means a person who is harmonizing every aspect of life in a spirit of devotion. We have sadhu’s here who are lawyers, businessmen, industrialists, dentists, farmers, house wives, students, engineers. But they believe deeply in spiritual principles and they live by them. They give quality time to hearing the glories of the Lord, associating with devotees of the Lord and give quality time everyday to cleanse their hearts by chanting the holy names:
All devotees chanting: “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare”.
When our consciousness becomes spiritually inspired by God’s name, spiritually connected to the all-attractive Lord of our hearts, then naturally, naturally whatever we do will be motivated with love and devotion. Bhakti is the gradual development of that eternal spiritual virtue. So that in our life, everything we do has inner meaning and fulfillment. We have seen millionaires and billionaires, they have so much and they are so preoccupied with conquering and making and defending and expanding, when they take the time to investigate what’s in their heart, there’s no real fulfillment in all of that. It gets boring, actually! Real fulfillment is in the awakening of our eternal inner love, prema for Krishna. And to give that fulfillment to our loved ones and to the needy people in the world is the greatest service. But we can only give what we have. Thus, if we believe, if we have faith, if we have scientific philosophical conviction or just simple faith, either one, then yes, we will orchestrate our lives in such a way that we actually fulfill all of our various responsibilities, samsiddir hari tosanam, on the path of perfection. “Harer nama Harer nama Harer namaiva kevalam, kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir annyatha”, and for that purpose, we must have a strong commitment to chanting God’s names and living a life of dharma. Thank you very much!
Is that alright Mahaprabhu Prabhu? Is there any questions? Would anyone like to ask a question?
Yes, mataji has question.
Devotee 1: Hare Krishna Maharaj!
HH RNS: Haribol!
Devotee 1: Maharaj, you said chanting of the holy name frees us from the reactions of past sins, but how to free ourselves from the reactions of positive things that we have done in our life? Those are also ropes to us.
HH RNS: The holy name frees reaction of all karma, good and bad. But whatever good is helpful, the holy name will nourish that. Hari! Is there any other question? Yes, Kirtida Devi Mataji!
Devotee 2: Hare Krishna Maharaj!
HH RNS: Haribol!
Devotee 2: I am asking a question which may not be very relevant, but I have this doubt in my mind. Because I was always an animal lover, but after coming to Krishna Consciousness, and hearing the story of Bharat Maharaj, now I stay away from dogs Maharaj. So, but in the story of Shivanand Sen, you said that he treated even the dog like a devotee. So if a dog comes to our doorstep, should we treat him like a devotee whom Lord Krishna has sent to us or should we not get entangled in the love of an animal?
HH RNS: Do you take every devotee to live in your house and pet him and kiss him. You give him prasad yes! Also snakes, even a snake you can give prasad, but you don’t pet a snake. So we have to discriminate. Yes, if a dog comes to our door, it is of great benediction to that dog and an act of compassion to let him hear the holy name and to give him prasad. But it doesn’t mean you keep him as pet, because then you are actually take him in for your own sense gratification. Is that understandable? It’s not required that you keep him, you serve him, yes let him hear the holy name from you, give him some of Krishna’s prasad and that dog is guaranteed a human life as a devotee, if it hears the holy name and takes prasad from the hands of a Vaishnavi, that is great mercy. Otherwise that dog would have to go through thousands of species before getting a human life and then thousands of human lives before meeting devotees. But if a devotee, if even a dog or any animal, gets the compassionate prayer of a Vaishnava, hears the holy name and takes prasad, then Krishna will bestow that devotee’s prayer and the dog will become a human being and have a chance to continue devotional life. So that is compassion. Does that answer your question? So yes, you can go on loving dogs and everyone, but we should understand the proper perspective of love, not just a emotional, sentimental, but a, but love based on truth and proper service. Does that answer your question?
Devotee 3: Maharaj, you explained the beautiful story of Shivanand Sen and his uncompromising nature. My question is, where does this, how is it that this compromising nature come in us. Is it a lack of faith, is it the overpower nature of conditionings of our past lives which makes us do things even though we know better. Or it is just spiritual lethargy, which, you may say inertia, which doesn’t allow to do things. Over the years, even though we have heard so much and done so much, of some sort of Krishna Consciousness, but that propensity to compromise, even though you know better does not seem to leave us. Where does that propensity come from and how do we, what is the surest way to overcome it?
HH RNS: Generally, this lethargy toward our spiritual lives is due to past conditionings. And even as we make spiritual progress, we will always be tested by our past conditionings until we actually come to a very perfect state. It is a test. It is a test of our sincerity. It is easy to compromise therefore, we have to be spiritually strong, in order to overcome that very very deep seated tendency. And for that spiritual strength, we must nourish ourselves in the association of people who are really striving to be strong, then it becomes much easier for us to make the right choices. The association we keep and our own sadhana, it’s a vicious cycle. When you become lazy in your chanting, that influences you to be more lazy the next day, and more lazy the next day, and more lazy the next day. The more you compromise, the more you become habituated to compromise and you go deeper and deeper down. Example is given that the material energy is an ever-flowing river that is flowing in the direction of the ocean of birth and death. Now, the easy thing to do in this world, it’s actually easy, but really it’s very difficult. The easy thing is just to float, just to float in the river, and just float down stream. It’s easy in the sense it doesn’t take so much effort. But actually, there’s such a hard struggle for existence within this world, even while you are flowing down stream. And ultimately there is so much inner anxiety, and ultimately death and rebirth. So the whole energy is bringing us toward that, the ocean of rebirth, death, karmic entanglements. Spiritual life is to swim upstream. It takes effort, it takes effort to put time aside everyday to chant the names, it takes effort to put time aside to associate with sadhu’s or with devotees, it takes time aside to turn off your television or reach the scriptures. Yes! It’s actually easier to just sit in front of the television and just let these commercialistic people who are trying to sell you all kinds of products just control your mind and you’re just “hhhmmmmrrrrrrrrghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”, you are just watching and they are just controlling everything. It’s a little more difficult to pick up a book and actually read the holy scriptures. Yes! But actually it’s joyful when you do it. I don’t know, because I am speaking you might all be terribly suffering in this satsang. But actually satsang is supposed to be very spiritually fulfilling, enlivening and joyful. And everyone likes to dance, and to sing and to take nice prasad, kevalananda kanda, it’s a joyful process, but still our conditionings, even things that are wonderful and joyful, we are lazy for. Yes! And every time we give in to our laziness, we become more lazy more lazy. You are either swimming upstream, as soon as you stop struggling against the current, you can’t stay in one place in a river. Either you are doing up or are doing down. If for a moment, you let up, psshshhh, you just go back. Then you have swim swim swim and then, go back. But the question is, do you want to go in the direction of spiritual enlightenment, eternal fulfillment and love, satisfaction of the Lord, or do you want to go down to the ocean of ignorance. “Tapo divyam putra kayena satvam, suderyasam brahma saukyam kvanantam”, if we want real happiness, we must perform tapasya. Human life is meant for tapasya. Now in India, people don’t like this word tapasya. They like to read about yogi’s doing tapasya in the caves and talk about them, but they don’t like to apply it to themselves. But actually Lord Caitanya made tapasya so nice. Just take prasad instead of all kinds of other foods, that will karmically entangle you. That’s tapasya, but it’s nice. I’m sure you are all waiting for this tapasya also.
Devotees: (Smiling) -- laughing
And then there is the tapasya of being with devotees, nice people who are struggling and striving to perfect their lives. That’s tapasya, tapasya to hear about Krishna, the all attractive, all beautiful Lord who performs incredibly all attractive activities, tapasya to read Bhagavad-gita, the ambrosial words of the absolute truth. Tapasya to chant the holy names, which are the supreme nectar of all enjoyable experiences, to taste the nectar of the holy name. And as we become purified, ruche, we develop a spontaneous love for these spiritual activities. But in our jaundice state of material ego even the sweetest thing tastes a little bitter. But we do it anyway. And whenever we overcome, every time we overcome our laziness and our and our inclination to compromise, every time we perform the tapasya of doing the right thing that we know we should do, we become spiritually stronger. And every time we compromise we become spiritually weaker. Our inclinations are weaker. A person who somehow or other chants the vow of chanting every day, it’s actually easy to chant every day. But a person who does it for many years and stops, it’s very very difficult for that person to do it again. More difficult for a person who has been chanting for years and stops to start again than it is for a person to do it who never did it. Why is that? Because you have gotten the mercy, you have gotten the power; you have gotten the strength but you didn’t use it. Therefore your spiritual inclinations become…what’s the word? Atrophy. You are doctor. Does everyone know what atrophy is? I am not a doctor, but if you don’t use something then that power, that strength is taken away. If your arm is in a cast for eight weeks and they take the cast off you can’t move your arm. It’s lost its muscles; it’s lost its powers. If God gives you something and you don’t use it, it’s lost. And it’s very difficult to gain in back, it takes tremendous effort but it can be done, if we are sincere. Is that answer your question? So, yes that is the test of our sincerity. Thank you very much.
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