Cleansing of the Heart

Srimad Bhagavatam

A friend of mine was asking me how we could realize Paramātmā or the Lord within the heart? How would I explain it to someone? I immediately thought of the following verses from the Second Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam, and I replied to his question by saying ‘by reading about the glories of the Lord and chanting His names, we can begin to purify our hearts and come to understand through His mercy, the Lord within our hearts’. After getting home and looking up these verses…it was clear I gave him the correct answer.

O greatly fortunate Śukadeva Gosvāmī, please continue narrating Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam so that I can place my mind upon the Supreme Soul, Lord Kṛṣṇa, and, being completely freed from material qualities, thus relinquish this body.

Persons who hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam regularly and are always taking the matter very seriously will have the Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa manifested in their hearts within a short time.

The sound incarnation of Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Soul [i.e. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam], enters into the heart of a self-realized devotee, sits on the lotus flower of his loving relationship, and thus cleanses the dust of material association, such as lust, anger and hankering. Thus it acts like autumnal rains upon pools of muddy water. (Srimad Bhagavatam 2.8.3-5)

Full test and purports

Srimad Bhagavatam
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Second Canto, Chapter Eight, Text 3-5

TEXT 3

kathayasva mahābhāga
yathāham akhilātmani
kṛṣṇe niveśya niḥsaṅgaṁ
manas tyakṣye kalevaram

kathayasva—please continue speaking; mahābhāga—O greatly fortunate one; yathā—as much as; aham—I; akhila-ātmani—unto the Supreme Soul; kṛṣṇe—unto Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa; niveśya—having placed; niḥsaṅgam—being freed from material qualities; manaḥ—mind; tyakṣye—may relinquish; kalevaram—body.

TRANSLATION

O greatly fortunate Śukadeva Gosvāmī, please continue narrating Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam so that I can place my mind upon the Supreme Soul, Lord Kṛṣṇa, and, being completely freed from material qualities, thus relinquish this body.

PURPORT

To be fully engaged in hearing the transcendental narration described in the text of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam means to constantly associate with the Supreme Soul, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. And to constantly associate with the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa means to be liberated from the qualities of matter. Lord Kṛṣṇa is like the sun, and material contamination is like darkness. As the presence of the sun dissipates darkness, constant engagement in the association of the Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa frees one from the contamination of the material qualities. Contamination by the material qualities is the cause of repeated birth and death, and liberation from material qualities is transcendence. Mahārāja Parīkṣit was now a realized soul by this secret of liberation, through the grace of Śukadeva Gosvāmī, for the latter had informed the King that the highest perfection of life is to be in remembrance of Nārāyaṇa at the end of life. Mahārāja Parīkṣit was destined to give up his body at the end of seven days, and thus he decided to continue remembering the Lord by His association with the topics of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and thus to quit his body in full consciousness of the presence of the Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Soul.

The hearing of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam performed by professional men is different from the transcendental hearing of Mahārāja Parīkṣit. Mahārāja Parīkṣit was a soul realized in the Absolute Truth, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead. The fruitive materialist is not a realized soul; he wants to derive some material benefit from his so-called hearing of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Undoubtedly such an audience, hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam from the professional men, can derive some material benefit as they desire, but that does not mean that such a pretense of hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam for a week is as good as the hearing of Mahārāja Parīkṣit.

It is the duty of the sane to hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam from a self-realized soul and not be duped by professional men. One should continue such hearing till the end of one’s life so that one can actually have the transcendental association of the Lord and thus be liberated simply by hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.

Mahārāja Parīkṣit had already given up all his connections with his kingdom and family, the most attractive features of materialism, but still he was conscious of his material body. He wanted to be free of such bondage also by the constant association of the Lord.

TEXT 4

śṛṇvataḥ śraddhayā nityaṁ
gṛṇataś ca sva-ceṣṭitam
kālena nātidīrgheṇa
bhagavān viśate hṛdi

śṛṇvataḥ—of those who hear; śraddhayā—in earnestness; nityam—regularly, always; gṛṇataḥ—taking the matter; ca—also; sva-ceṣṭitam—seriously by one’s own endeavor; kālena—duration; na—not; ati-dīrgheṇa—very prolonged time; bhagavān—the Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa; viśate—becomes manifest; hṛdi—within one’s heart.

TRANSLATION

Persons who hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam regularly and are always taking the matter very seriously will have the Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa manifested in their hearts within a short time.

PURPORT

Cheap devotees or materialistic devotees of the Lord are very much desirous to see the Lord personally without meeting the requisite qualifications. Such third-grade devotees should know well that material attachment and seeing the Lord face to face cannot go together. It is not such a mechanical process that the professional Bhāgavatam reciters can do the job on behalf of the third-grade materialistic pseudo-devotee. The professional men are useless in this connection because they are neither self-realized nor interested in the liberation of the audience. They are simply interested in maintaining the material establishment of family attachment and earning some material benefits out of the profession. Mahārāja Parīkṣit had no more than seven days to live, but for others Mahārāja Parīkṣit personally recommends that one hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam regularly, nityam, always by one’s own effort and with serious devotion also. That will help one to see the Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa manifested in one’s heart within no time.
The pseudo-devotee, however, is very anxious to see the Lord according to his whims, not making any serious effort to hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam regularly and without detachment from material benefit. That is not the way recommended by an authority like Mahārāja Parīkṣit, who heard and benefited by hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.

TEXT 5

praviṣṭaḥ karṇa-randhreṇa
svānāṁ bhāva-saroruham
dhunoti śamalaṁ kṛṣṇaḥ
salilasya yathā śarat

praviṣṭaḥ—thus being entered; karṇa-randhreṇa—through the holes of the ears; svānām—according to one’s liberated position; bhāva—constitutional relationship; saraḥ-ruham—the lotus flower; dhunoti—cleanses; śamalam—material qualities like lust, anger, avarice and hankering; kṛṣṇaḥ—Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead; salilasya—of the reservoir of waters; yathā—as it were; śarat—the autumn season.

TRANSLATION

The sound incarnation of Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Soul [i.e. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam], enters into the heart of a self-realized devotee, sits on the lotus flower of his loving relationship, and thus cleanses the dust of material association, such as lust, anger and hankering. Thus it acts like autumnal rains upon pools of muddy water.

PURPORT

It is said that a single pure devotee of the Lord can deliver all the fallen souls of the world. Thus one who is actually in the confidence of a pure devotee like Nārada or Śukadeva Gosvāmī and thus is empowered by one’s spiritual master, as Nārada was by Brahmājī, can not only deliver himself from the clutches of māyā, or illusion, but can deliver the whole world by his pure and empowered devotional strength. The comparison to the autumnal rain that falls on muddy reservoirs of water is very appropriate. During the rainy season, all the waters of the rivers become muddy, but in the month of July-August, the autumn season, when there is a slight rainfall, the muddy waters of the rivers all over the world become at once clear. By addition of some chemical, a small reservoir of water like that of a metropolitan waterworks tank can be cleared, but by such a tiny effort it is not possible to clear up all the reservoirs of water like the rivers. A powerful pure devotee of the Lord, however, can deliver not only his personal self but also many others in his association.

In other words, the cleansing of the polluted heart by other methods (like the culture of empiric knowledge or mystic gymnastics) can simply cleanse one’s own heart, but devotional service to the Lord is so powerful that it can cleanse the hearts of the people in general, by the devotional service of the pure, empowered devotee. A true representative of the Lord like Nārada, Śukadeva Gosvāmī, Lord Caitanya, the six Gosvāmīs and later Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, etc., can deliver all people by their empowered devotional service.

By sincere efforts to hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam one realizes his constitutional relationship with the Lord in the transcendental humor of servitude, friendship, paternal affection or conjugal love, and by such self-realization one becomes situated at once in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. Not only were all the pure devotees like Nārada self-realized souls, but they were engaged in preaching work automatically by spiritual impetus, and thus they delivered many poor souls entangled in the material modes. They became so powerful because they sincerely followed the Bhāgavatam principles by regular hearing and worshiping. By such actions the accumulated material lusts, etc., become cleansed by the personal endeavor of the Lord within the heart. The Lord is always within the heart of the living being, but He becomes manifested by one’s devotional service.

Purification of the heart by culture of knowledge or mystic yoga may be all right for the time being for an individual person, but it is like the cleansing of a small quantity of stagnant water by chemical processes. Such clarification of water may stand for the time being and the sediments settle down, but by a slight agitation everything becomes muddy. The idea is that devotional service to the Lord is the only method of cleansing the heart for good. Whereas other methods may be superficially good for the time being, there is a risk of becoming muddy again due to agitation of the mind. Devotional service to the Lord, with specific attention for hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam regularly and always, is the best recommended method for liberation from the clutches of illusion.

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