Chanting is the Recommended Means for Self-realization

The Hare Krishna Movement

“Bombay Pandal Lecture”
By Srila Prabhupada
Bombay, April 6, 1971:

Ladies and gentlemen, we are very much thankful to you for your kindly participating in this great movement, Hare Krishna.

This Hare Krishna Movement is especially meant for this age because for self-realization, although there are many methods recommended in Vedic scriptures, in this age the greatest common factor for self-realization is simply chanting this Hare Krishna mantra.

Actually, our miserable condition of life is due to our forgetfulness. As I said yesterday, day before yesterday, this material existence is a condemned position of the living entities, exactly like a criminal is placed in the prisonhouse. Now, the whole Vedic literature is meant for getting us liberated from this condition of life. So far Bhagavad-gita is concerned, the same aim is there because at the ultimate instruction, Lord Krishna says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja [Bg. 18.66].

That is the ultimate goal. We have to come to that point, to surrender unto the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It may take hundreds of years or hundreds of births, but unless we come to that point, our life is simply frustration. Srama eva hi kevalam. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is said,

dharmah svanusthitah pumsam visvaksena-kathasu yah notpadayed yadi ratim srama eva hi kevalam [SB 1.2.8]

You can execute. You may have some particular type of religious system which you are following. It doesn’t matter. But if that following your religious system, if you do not come to the point of understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead, or if you do not become interested in the matter of understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then you should know it that your performances of all religious ritualistic ceremonies are simply waste of time.

So how to come to the point of surrendering to the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is taught in the Seventh Chapter of Bhagavad-gita. So I shall… I have given you some introduction to the Bhagavad-gita, that this Bhagavad-gita contains subject matter relating to God, to the living entity—isvara, jiva—and prakrti, and the time factor, and karma.

Now, in the beginning, the six chapters in the Bhagavad-gita are simply devoted to understand what is the constitutional position of the jiva. The living entities are eternal. That is stated in the Second Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita: dehino ’smin yatha dehe kaumaram… [Bg. 2.13] [break]… dvau bhuta-sargau loke ’smin daiva asura.

Asmin loke, in this world, there are two kinds of living entities, not only in human society but also in animal society, in trees, in plants, in… There are 8,400,000 species of life—aquatic, plants, trees, reptiles, insects, birds, beasts, then human beings, civilized human beings, noncivilized human beings. And altogether, there are 8,400,000 species of life, and they are divided into…[break]…man’s body. So… But I am the same. I can remember some of the incidences of my childhood, of my boyhood, of my youthhood. Therefore I am permanent. That is the real understanding of the living entity. These things have been explained very vividly. And in the Sixth Chapter Lord Krishna recommended how to practice yoga. Yoga is the beginning of linking up our lost relationship with the Lord, yoga.

Yoga means adding, addition or linking. Because we are now forgotten… The yoga system, any yoga system, means… Bhakti-yoga, karma-yoga, jnana-yoga—there are different names of yogas—but actual fact is how to link up our lost relationship with the Supreme Lord. That is called yoga. Yoga indriya-samyamah. Indriya. Because we are being deviated from our eternal relationship with God, Krishna, on account of our too much being engaged in sense gratification. Bhogaisvarya-prasaktanam tayapahrta-cetasam.

Lord says, Krishna says, “Those who are too much after bhoga and aisvarya, material enjoyment and material opulence,” prasaktan am tayapahrta-cetasam, “whose heart has been taken away by the process of sense gratification, for them, it is very difficult to be situated in samadhi.” Bhogaisvarya-prasaktanam tayapahrta-cetasam. So yoga, yoga means to control the senses. Those who are too much in the bodily concept of life, for them, this hatha-yoga is prescribed just to control the sense by some mechanical way.

You sit down, asana, pranayama, dhyana, dharana, pratyahara. There are eight different stages of fulfilling the yoga practice and then coming to the position of samadhi. Samadhi means fully situated in Krishna consciousness. That is real samadhi. Dhyanavasthita-tad-gata-manasa. Dhyanavasthita-tad-gata-manasa pasyanti yam yoginah. This is the definition of yogi. They are in meditation, and the mind, being absorbed in the thought of Visnu, and yam pasyanti yoginah. The yoginah, by controlling the senses, concentrating the mind upon Visnu, they become yogi.

Dhyanavasthita-tad-gata-manasa: mind is absorbed in the thought of Visnu. That is perfection of yoga. So that is one method. Those who are too much, I mean to say, thinking of this body, for them, this hatha-yoga system is prescribed. But the aim of that hatha-yoga system is to see or search out the Supreme Personality of Godhead, or Paramatma. Isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese arjuna tisthati [Bg. 18.61]. The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, and by this yoga practice, by samadhi, one is situated constantly seeing the Supreme Personality of Godhead Visnu. That is samadhi.

But there is another method, supreme method. That will be explained in the Seventh Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita. At the end of the Sixth Chapter the conclusion is,

yoginam api sarvesam madgatenantaratmana sraddhavan bhajate yo mam sa me yuktatamo matah [Bg. 6.47]

“Anyone who is always thinking of Me within his mind,” sraddhavan, “not mechanically, but with faith and love,” sraddha, and bhajate— bhajate means bhaja sevayam, engaged in the service—“such person is the first-class yogi.” That is recommended by Krishna. And in the bhakti-yoga system, the same thing is also recommended:

premanjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena santah sadaiva hrdayesu vilokayanti yam syamasundaram acintya-guna-svarupam govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami [Bs. 5.38]

This is spoken in the Brahma-samhita by Lord Brahma. He says that “The devotee whose eyes are smeared with the ointment of love of Godhead…” Just like we sometimes use surma for clarifying our eyesight, similarly, one whose eyesight is purified… We have to purify the position of our senses in order to perceive.

With our present senses, materialistic senses, we cannot understand Krishna, or God. It is not possible. Atah sri-krsna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih [BRS. 1.2.234] He is not… Krishna is not perceivable by our material senses. “Then why you are troubling so much, because you have nothing but material senses?” No. It can be purified. How it can be purified? By love of God.

When you evolve your dormant love of Godhead, your vision becomes different. That is called premanjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena santah sadaiva hrdayesu vilokayanti [Bs. 5.38]. They are also yogis. Yoginam api sarvesam [Bg. 6.47]. The same process. Either you go through the hatha-yoga process or jnana-yoga process, the ultimate goal is Krishna, ultimate goal is Visnu. And if we miss this point, then… The Bhagavata says,

na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum durasaya ye bahir-artha-maninah andha yathandhair upaniyamanas te ’pisa-tantryam uru-damni baddhah [SB 7.5.31]

So the verdict of all sastras, Vedic literatures, is aiming how to understand Krishna. That is the version of all Vedas. So Krishna here in the Seventh Chapter, recommending personally. Krishna is teaching the process how you can understand Krishna. You haven’t got to learn some art and method how to understand Krishna from anyone else. You can understand directly from Krishna.

That is the process. The Bhagavata says, athapi te deva padambuja-dvaya-prasada-lesanugrhita eva hi. Without Krishna’s mercy, nobody can understand Krishna. That is the process. The Vedas also says, nayam atma pravacanena labhyo na medhaya na bahuna srutena: “One cannot understand the Supreme Soul simply by lecturing.” Pravacanena.

If one is very expert in lecturing, it does not mean that he has realized Krishna. Na medhaya. Or if one has very good brain—a great scientist, great philosopher—he can understand Krishna? Veda says, “No.” Na medhaya na bahuna srutena: “If one is very learned in Vedic literatures, he also cannot understand Krishna.” But one who is favored by Krishna or when Krishna reveals Himself to somebody, being satisfied with his devotional service, he can understand Krishna; nobody else.

Therefore the process ultimate comes to the bhakti-yoga. Bhaktya mam abhijanati [Bg. 18.55] In the Bhagavad-gita you’ll find that nobody understands Krishna.

manusyanam sahasresu kascid yatati siddhaye yatatam api siddhanam kascid vetti mam tattvatah [Bg. 7.3]
To understand Krishna in truth, tattvatah, it is very difficult. Out of many hundreds and thousands of people one tries to make his life successful by spiritual advancement, by accepting so many processes, jnana-yoga, karma-yoga, dhyana-yoga. And out of many perfect persons…, or, not perfect.

Out of many persons who have succeeded in such processes, one may understand Krishna. That is difficult also. So without Krishna’s mercy… The conclusion is: without Krishna’s mercy, nobody can understand Krishna. Therefore it is futile to explain Krishna, to comment on Bhagavad-gita, without being a devotee of Krishna. That is a fact. It is not that because one is very learned scholar or because one is very learned scientist or philosopher… Without any Krishna consciousness, it is not possible for him to understand Krishna.

Athapi te deva padambuja-dvaya-prasada-lesanugrhita eva hi. Na canya eko ’pi ciram vicinvan. Others, they may go on speculating for thousands and thousands of years; still, they will not be able to understand what is Krishna.
Therefore Krishna, in the Seventh Chapter, He is teaching how to understand Krishna, how to realize Him. That realization, He says,

mayy asakta-manah partha yogam yunjan mad-asrayah asamsayam samagram mam yatha jnasyasi tac chrnu [Bg. 7.1]

“My dear Arjuna, now I shall speak to you how you can understand Me thoroughly.” Of course, it is not possible to understand Krishna thoroughly. That is not possible. But still, as far as our knowledge is concerned, we can get an idea of Krishna if we follow these instructions. Krishna is unlimited; we are limited. Therefore, however we may become advanced, it is not possible for us to understand the unlimited. That’s a fact.

But still, we can understand to some extent by the mercy of Krishna, not otherwise. Therefore Krishna says, mayy asakta-manah. One has to develop his mind being always attached to Krishna. Asakta. Asakta means attachment. This asakti is also not attained very easily, but there is a process. If we follow the process, as recommended by the authorities, then there is way.

And one who is serious to understand God, or Krishna, they must follow the methods prescribed by the mahajanas. Mahajano yena gatah sa panthah. If you follow the footsteps of great personalities, great acaryas, then that is the way. You don’t manufacture your own way. Then you will be frustrated. Mahajano yena gatah sa panthah. So who can be greater mahajana than Krishna?

All mahajanas, they are great devotees of Krishna; therefore they have become mahajanas. Just like Svayambhu, Lord Brahma, Narada Muni… Svayambhur naradah sambhuh [SB 6.3.20] Sambhu, Lord Siva. Svayambhur naradah sambhuh kapilah kaumarah, kapilo manuh. Kaumara, the four Kumaras, Sanat Kumara, Sunanda, these four Kumaras, and kumarah kapila, Kapiladeva, the original propounder of Sankhya philosophy, Kapiladeva, and Manu, you know, Manu-samhita, the law-giver to the mankind, Svayambhuva Manu, Manu.

And Prahlada Maharaja, whose instructions we were discussing in the morning. Prahlado janaka-raja bhisma, the grandfather of the Kurus. Vaiyasaki, Sukadeva Gosvami; or Bali Maharaja, a grandson of Prahlada Maharaja, he is also an authority. And Yamaraja, he is also authority. So we have to follow these authorities. Otherwise, dharmasya tattvam nihitam guhayam: we cannot understand the secrecy of religion. So all these twelve mahajanas, they are great devotees of the Lord. Therefore they have become mahajanas, authorized persons.

Now here Krishna, in the Bhagavad-gita, taking compassion on the fallen souls of the Kali-yuga, He is personally instructing. How much fortunate we are. Although we are born in this age, fallen age of Kali-yuga, still, we are so much fortunate that Krishna personally is taking interest how to teach us. He comes personally as He is, Lord Krishna. And still, when He is misunderstood, avajananti mam mudhah, again He comes as a devotee, Lord Caitanya. Lord Caitanya was detected by Srila Rupa Gosvami:

namo maha-vadanyaya krsna-prema-pradaya te krsnaya krsna-caitanya-namne gaura-tvise namah [Madhya 19.53]
He understood that Lord Caitanya is no other than Lord Krishna Himself, but He has appeared as a devotee just to deliver love of Krishna to everyone. Krishna-prema-pradaya te. Krishna-prema, love of Godhead, love of Krishna, one who delivers, one who gives in charity the love of Godhead, he is called maha-vadanya, the greatest of all munificent persons. Namo maha-vadanyaya.

So there is a program of Krishna. Sometimes He comes Himself, sometimes He comes as a devotee, sometimes He leaves behind Him instructions like Bhagavad-gita, and sometimes He authorizes somebody to preach this cult. Of course, anyone who is a sincere devotee, he is authorized.

That Krishna, as Lord Caitanya, has said personally, amara ajnaya guru hana tara ei. Our only business is to follow the superiors. Just like a faithful servant, if he simply follows the instruction of the master, then he is perfect. If he does not adulterate the instruction of the master, then he’s perfect.

It is not that those who are preaching this Krishna cult, they are all perfect. There may be many deficiencies. Any conditional soul has got four deficiencies naturally. He is to commit mistakes. However great man he may be, surely, because he is conditional soul, he’ll commit mistake. You know.

In our country Mahatma Gandhi, he was a great man undoubtedly, but he also committed mistake, so what to speak of us? A conditioned soul must commit mistake. And he must be illusioned. To accept something as something else, that is called illusion. Just like illusion, best example of illusion, is given that maya-maricika, to accept water in the desert. An animal sees that there is water in the desert, and being thirsty, he goes after the water, but the water also makes progress, and he also makes progress.

In this way he dies. That is called illusion. Actually, there is no water, but he is fleeing after water. So for conditioned soul these are the defects. He is to commit mistake, he is illusioned, and he has got a cheating propensity also. Everyone is thinking in transaction that “I have cheated that man very nicely. In business transaction I have gained; he has lost.” And of all the deficiencies, most important deficiency is that our senses are imperfect.

We say, “I want to see God,” but we forget that our eyes are so imperfect that I cannot see in the nearest eyelid. As soon as I close my eyes, I do not see the eyelid. This is the power of my seeing. Therefore we should not be so much proud of our seeing power that we’ll say that “I want to see God. Can you show me God?” This is not possible.
So these four deficiencies of conditioned soul are there; therefore we cannot have perfect knowledge by our mental speculation. That is not possible. We have to receive knowledge from authorities. That is the process. Mahajano yena gatah sa panthah. If we receive knowledge… Our process is that we are trying to receive knowledge from Krishna, the greatest mahajana, the greatest authority, and if we follow the instruction of Krishna, then we are perfect. The same example, as Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu says,

amara ajnaya guru hana tara ei desa yare dekha tare kaha ‘krsna’-upadesa [Cc. Madhya 7.128]

This is necessary. It is not that you have to become completely perfect by following certain process. If you simply perfectly follow the instruction of Krishna, then you become perfect. Other processes, yoga, dhyana, karma, jnana…
There are many processes to make oneself perfect, but even becoming perfect, you cannot understand Krishna. Yoginam. Manusyanam sahasresu kascid yatati siddhaye [Bg. 7.3]. Siddhaye means perfection. Yatatam api siddhanam kascid vetti mam tattvatah. Even you become perfect, still, it is doubtful whether you have understood Krishna. This is the position.

Therefore the conclusion is that if you simply follow the perfect instruction of Krishna, then automatically you become perfect, however imperfect you may be. That is our duty. It is not very difficult. Just like a child, a boy, a child. He’s asking father, “My dear father, what is this?” An intelligent child questions like that. The father explains, “This is this,” and the child accepts. Then his knowledge is perfect. But if he accepts the instruction of the father or mother, immediately he becomes perfect.

There are many other examples. Just like a child wants to know who is father. The mother says, “My dear child, this gentleman is your father”—that is perfect knowledge. But if the child wants to research who is his father, it is impossible to find out. Similarly, if we want to know the supreme father, Krishna, or God, we have to take instruction from the supreme father, not speculating, just like by speculating we cannot understand our ordinary father without the instruction of mother.

If you go on speculating, “He may be my father. He may be my father. He may be father,” go on speculating, but you will never understand who is your father. But you accept the authoritative statement of your mother, that “He is your father”—that is perfect knowledge. That process should be accepted. Otherwise, our position is very precarious.
atah sri-krsna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah [BRS. 1.2.234]
These, our present senses, are very blunt, imperfect. It is to be purified by sevonmukha, being eager to serve Lord Krishna. Then our senses will be purified. Sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam [Cc. Madhya 19.170]. Nirmalam means without any contamination. At the present moment our senses are contaminated. I am thinking in so many different consciousness.

I am thinking in consciousness of nationality, community, society, friendship—so many ways—but without Krishna consciousness. Therefore our consciousness is impure. We have to be freed from all the designated consciousness. Just like Caitanya Mahaprabhu says, “I am not a brahmana. I am not a ksatriya. I am not a sannyasi. I am not a brahmacari. I am not a grhastha.” In this way He denied His identity to all these eight kinds of forms and stages, varnasrama.
Then He said that gopi-bhartur pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah: “I am the servant of the servant of the servant of Krishna, who is maintainer of the gopis.” This is the identification of Caitanya.

So we have to follow the mahajanas, great personalities or a great devotee like Caitanya Maha…, that “I am also the servant of the servant of the servant of Krishna.” That is our real identity. This is called mukti, liberation. As soon as we understand that “I am the servant of the servant of the servant of Krishna,” this identification is aham brahmasmi, “I am not this.” Brahmasmi, this concept of life, that “I do not belong to this material world. I am Brahman. I am spirit soul…” So without being spirit soul, how we can become servant of the supreme spirit?

Just like without being fire, you cannot remain in the fire, similarly, without becoming Brahman, how we can serve the Supreme Brahman? So this is Brahman realization. Sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam [Cc. Madhya 19.170] Now, after being purified, what is your position? Not that you become impersonal. There are philosophers, that when one becomes identified with Brahman, he becomes immediately impersonal. No. We keep our personality. We are never imperson. All of us are individuals. Krishna is individual. We are sitting here. We are all individual. So we keep our individuality, but our senses become purified. That is called mukti. Bhagavata gives the definition of mukti: mukti hitva anyatha rupam svarupena vyavasthitih. What is mukti? Mukti means when one gives up his engagement, activities, hitva anyatha rupam, identifying himself with something material, and he is engaged in his own original, constitutional position, and that is called mukti.

The original constitutional position is every living entity is a part and parcel of the Supreme Person. I have given you several times example. This is stated in the sastras also. Just like this finger is my part and parcel of this body. It is the duty of the finger to serve the whole body. I want to do like that; the finger helps me. That is the duty of the finger.
If the finger cannot do it, then it is to be understood that he is diseased. It is diseased. As soon as the finger cannot give me regular service, it is to be understood that it is diseased. Similarly, any person who is not giving service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he is diseased, materially diseased. He has to be cured. Therefore the sastra says, sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam [Cc. Madhya 19.170].

Just suppose I am a great patriot. I am giving service to my country. That’s very good. But I am creating many enemies at the same time because there are other persons who are also interested in their country or community. Therefore that kind of service is not perfect. That is service with designation because I am thinking… I am spirit soul, I am Brahman, I am eternal servant of Krishna, or God, but I am thinking that “I am servant of this country, this community, this society, this…” so many things.

So one has to become free from the designation. Then his senses will be purified. At that time, with that purified senses, when he renders service to the Lord, that is called bhakti. That is called bhakti.

Bhakti is not a sentiment. It is practical. It is practical, to engage… Just like Arjuna. Arjuna is certified by Krishna as bhakto ’si, “My devotee.” Does it mean that he was sitting idly? He has gone to Himalaya? No. He was serving Krishna personally as a fighter. That is required.

That is bhakti. Some gentleman criticized, “Swamiji, your bhakti cult will make people dull because they will simply sit down and chant Hare Krishna.” And “No, you have not seen a bhakta. You are misguided,” I replied. In our India, two histories are there: the history of Ramayana and the history Mahabharata. And there were two great battles: fight with Ravana and Kuruksetra fighting.

In these two fightings the heroes were Vaisnavas: Hanumanji and Arjuna. They are still worshiped as the great Vaisnavas, Vajrangaji and Arjuna. So it is a mistake. Here is the definition of bhakti: tat-paratvena nirmalam, “When your senses are purified by devotional service.” Not that your senses are wiped out in mukti. No. The senses are there. It cannot be wiped out. Simply it is purified.

Just like if you have got some disease—the same example—in your finger, it is painful. You cannot render service. But when the finger is cured by treatment from the disease, it again gives service. Similarly, those who are not engaged in the service of the Lord, Krishna, they are supposed to be diseased.

The degree may be different, that one is very highly diseased, another is very slightly diseased. It doesn’t matter. But he is diseased. Therefore this is the curing method. Sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam [Cc. Madhya 19.170] Krishna says to Arjuna, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja [Bg. 18.66]. When He said? When he was cured of the disease. Krishna asked him… (end)

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Warren
    Nov 23, 2011 @ 07:21:41

    Very interesting post, I like the principles of the Krishna movement.


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