Hearing is an Opportunity to Associate with the Lord

Krsna and Balarama

Todays post revolves around the first three paragraphs in chapter 7 of the Krsna Book and the associated verses from the Bhagavad-gita.

…Hearing is an opportunity to associate with the Lord; to hear His activities is to evolve to the transcendental nature–simply by hearing.

If someone takes advantage of hearing the pastimes of the Lord, the material contamination of dust, accumulated in the heart due to long association with material nature, can be immediately cleansed. Lord Caitanya also instructed that simply by hearing the transcendental name of Lord Kṛṣṇa, one can cleanse the heart of all material contamination.

Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes are not only beautiful; they are also very pleasing to the mind. (Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Chapter Seven “Salvation of Tṛṇāvarta”)

The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, is always full of six opulences–namely complete wealth, complete strength, complete fame, complete knowledge, complete beauty and complete renunciation. The Lord appears in different complete, eternal forms of incarnation. The conditioned soul has immense opportunity to hear about the transcendental activities of the Lord in these different incarnations. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is said, janma karma ca me divyam [full text and purport at bottom of post]. The pastimes and activities of the Lord are not material; they are beyond the material conception. But the conditioned soul can benefit by hearing such uncommon activities. Hearing is an opportunity to associate with the Lord; to hear His activities is to evolve to the transcendental nature–simply by hearing. The conditioned soul has a natural aptitude to hear something about other conditioned souls in the form of fiction, drama and novel. That inclination to hear something about others may be utilized in hearing the pastimes of the Lord. Then one can immediately evolve to his transcendental nature. Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes are not only beautiful; they are also very pleasing to the mind.

If someone takes advantage of hearing the pastimes of the Lord, the material contamination of dust, accumulated in the heart due to long association with material nature, can be immediately cleansed. Lord Caitanya also instructed that simply by hearing the transcendental name of Lord Kṛṣṇa, one can cleanse the heart of all material contamination. There are different processes for self-realization, but this process of devotional service–of which hearing is the most important function–when adopted by any conditioned soul, will automatically cleanse him of the material contamination and enable him to realize his real constitutional position. Conditional life is due to this contamination only, and as soon as it is cleared off, then naturally the dormant function of the living entity–rendering service to the Lord–awakens. By developing his eternal relationship with the Supreme Lord, one becomes eligible to create friendship with the devotees. Mahārāja Parīkṣit recommended, from practical experience, that everyone try to hear about the transcendental pastimes of the Lord. This Kṛṣṇa treatise is meant for that purpose, and the reader may take advantage in order to attain the ultimate goal of human life.

The Lord, out of His causeless mercy, descends on this material world and displays His activities just like an ordinary man. Unfortunately the impious entities or the atheistic class of men consider Kṛṣṇa to be an ordinary man like themselves, and so they deride Him. This is condemned in the Bhagavad-gītā by the Lord Himself when He says, “Avajānanti māṁ mūḍhāḥ [full text and purport at bottom of post].” The mūḍhas, or the rascals, take Kṛṣṇa to be an ordinary man or a slightly more powerful man; out of their great misfortune, they cannot accept Him as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Sometimes such unfortunate persons misrepresent themselves as incarnations of Kṛṣṇa without referring to the authorized scriptures. (Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Chapter Seven “Salvation of Tṛṇāvarta”)

Bagavad-gita As It Is 1972 Edition
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Chapter Four, Text 9

janma karma ca me divyam
evaṁ yo vetti tattvataḥ
tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma
naiti mām eti so ‘rjuna

janma—birth; karma—work; ca—also; me—of Mine; divyam—transcendental; evam—like this; yaḥ—anyone who; vetti—knows; tattvataḥ—in reality; tyaktvā—leaving aside; deham—this body; punaḥ—again; janma—birth; na—never; eti—does attain; mām—unto Me; eti—does attain; saḥ—he; arjuna—O Arjuna.

TRANSLATION

One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.

PURPORT

The Lord’s descent from His transcendental abode is already explained in the 6th verse. One who can understand the truth of the appearance of the Personality of Godhead is already liberated from material bondage, and therefore he returns to the kingdom of God immediately after quitting this present material body. Such liberation of the living entity from material bondage is not at all easy. The impersonalists and the yogīs attain liberation only after much trouble and many, many births. Even then, the liberation they achieve—merging into the impersonal brahmajyoti of the Lord—is only partial, and there is the risk of returning again to this material world. But the devotee, simply by understanding the transcendental nature of the body and activities of the Lord, attains the abode of the Lord after ending this body and does not run the risk of returning again to this material world. In the Brahma-saṁhitā it is stated that the Lord has many, many forms and incarnations: advaitam acyutam anādim ananta-rūpam. Although there are many transcendental forms of the Lord, they are still one and the same Supreme Personality of Godhead. One has to understand this fact with conviction, although it is incomprehensible to mundane scholars and empiric philosophers. As stated in the Vedas:

eko devo nitya-līlānurakto bhakta-vyāpī hṛdy antarātmā.

“The one Supreme Personality of Godhead is eternally engaged in many, many transcendental forms in relationships with His unalloyed devotees.” This Vedic version is confirmed in this verse of the Gītā personally by the Lord. He who accepts this truth on the strength of the authority of the Vedas and of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and who does not waste time in philosophical speculations attains the highest perfectional stage of liberation. Simply by accepting this truth on faith, one can, without a doubt, attain liberation. The Vedic version, “tattvamasi,” is actually applied in this case. Anyone who understands Lord Kṛṣṇa to be the Supreme, or who says unto the Lord, “You are the same Supreme Brahman, the Personality of Godhead” is certainly liberated instantly, and consequently his entrance into the transcendental association of the Lord is guaranteed. In other words, such a faithful devotee of the Lord attains perfection, and this is confirmed by the following Vedic assertion:

tam eva viditvātimṛtyumeti nānyaḥ panthā vidyate ayanāya.

One can attain the perfect stage of liberation from birth and death simply by knowing the Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There is no alternative because anyone who does not understand Lord Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead is surely in the mode of ignorance. Consequently he will not attain salvation, simply, so to speak, by licking the outer surface of the bottle of honey, or by interpreting the Bhagavad-gītā according to mundane scholarship. Such empiric philosophers may assume very important roles in the material world, but they are not necessarily eligible for liberation. Such puffed up mundane scholars have to wait for the causeless mercy of the devotee of the Lord. One should therefore cultivate Kṛṣṇa consciousness with faith and knowledge, and in this way attain perfection.

Bagavad-gita As It Is 1972 Edition
Chapter 9, Text 11

avajānanti māṁ mūḍhā
mānuṣīṁ tanum āśritam
paraṁ bhāvam ajānanto
mama bhūta-maheśvaram

avajānanti—deride; mām—Me; mūḍhāḥ—foolish men; mānuṣīm—in a human form; tanum—body; āśritam—assuming; param—transcendental; bhāvam—nature; ajānantaḥ—not knowing; mama—Mine; bhūta—everything that be; maheśvaram—supreme proprietor.

“Fools deride Me when I descend in human form.”

TRANSLATION

Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature and My supreme dominion over all that be.

PURPORT

From the other explanations of the previous verses in this chapter, it is clear that the Supreme Personality of Godhead, although appearing like a human being, is not a common man. The Personality of Godhead, who conducts the creation, maintenance and annihilation of the complete cosmic manifestation, cannot be a human being. Yet there are many foolish men who consider Kṛṣṇa to be merely a powerful man and nothing more. Actually, He is the original Supreme Personality, as is confirmed in the Brahma-saṁhitā (iśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛsṇaḥ); He is the Supreme Lord.
There are many īśvaras, controllers, and one appears greater than another. In the ordinary management of affairs in the material world, we find some official or director, and above him there is a secretary, and above him a minister, and above him a president. Each of them is a controller, but one is controlled by another. In the Brahma-saṁhitā it is said that Kṛṣṇa is the supreme controller; there are many controllers undoubtedly both in the material and spiritual world, but Kṛṣṇa is the supreme controller (īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ), and His body is sac-cid-ānanda, non-material.

Material bodies cannot perform the wonderful acts described in previous verses. His body is eternal, blissful and full of knowledge. Although He is not a common man, the foolish deride Him and consider Him to be a man. His body is called here mānuṣīm because He is acting just like a man, a friend of Arjuna’s, a politician involved in the Battle of Kurukṣetra. In so many ways He is acting just like an ordinary man, but actually His body is sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha-eternal bliss and knowledge absolute. This is confirmed in the Vedic language also (sac-cid-ānanda-rūpāya kṛṣṇāya): “I offer my obeisances unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, who is the eternal blissful form of knowledge.” There are other descriptions in the Vedic language also. Tam ekaṁ govindam: “You are Govinda, the pleasure of the senses and the cows.” Sac-cid-ānanda-vigraham: “And Your form is transcendental, full of knowledge, bliss and eternality.”

Despite the transcendental qualities of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s body, its full bliss and knowledge, there are many so-called scholars and commentators of Bhagavad-gītā who deride Kṛṣṇa as an ordinary man. The scholar may be born an extraordinary man due to his previous good work, but this conception of Śrī Kṛṣṇa is due to a poor fund of knowledge. Therefore he is called mūḍha, for only foolish persons consider Kṛṣṇa to be an ordinary human being because they do not know the confidential activities of the Supreme Lord and His different energies. They do not know that Kṛṣṇa’s body is a symbol of complete knowledge and bliss, that He is the proprietor of everything that be and that He can award liberation to anyone. Because they do not know that Kṛṣṇa has so many transcendental qualifications, they deride Him.

Nor do they know that the appearance of the Supreme Personality of Godhead in this material world is a manifestation of His internal energy. He is the master of the material energy. As has been explained in several places (mama māyā duratyayā), He claims that the material energy, although very powerful, is under His control, and whoever surrenders unto Him can get out of the control of this material energy. If a soul surrendered to Kṛṣṇa can get out of the influence of material energy, then how can the Supreme Lord, who conducts the creation, maintenance and annihilation of the whole cosmic nature, have a material body like us? So this conception of Kṛṣṇa is complete foolishness. Foolish persons, however, cannot conceive that the Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa, appearing just like an ordinary man, can be the controller of all the atoms and of the gigantic manifestation of the universal form. The biggest and the minutest are beyond their conception, so they cannot imagine that a form like that of a human being can simultaneously control the infinite and the minute. Actually although He is controlling the infinite and the finite, He is apart from all this manifestation. It is clearly stated concerning His yogam aiśvaram, His inconceivable transcendental energy, that He can control the infinite and the finite simultaneously and that He can remain aloof from them. Although the foolish cannot imagine how Kṛṣṇa, who appears just like a human being, can control the infinite and the finite, those who are pure devotees accept this, for they know that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore they completely surrender unto Him and engage in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, devotional service of the Lord.

There are many controversies amongst the impersonalists and the personalists about the Lord’s appearance as a human being. But if we consult Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the authoritative texts for understanding the science of Kṛṣṇa, then we can understand that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is not an ordinary man, although He appeared on this earth as an ordinary human. In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, First Canto, First Chapter, when the sages inquire about the activities of Kṛṣṇa, it is stated that His appearance as a man bewilders the foolish. No human being could perform the wonderful acts that Kṛṣṇa performed while He was present on this earth. When Kṛṣṇa appeared before His father and mother, Vasudeva and Devakī, He appeared with four hands, but after the prayers of the parents, He transformed Himself into an ordinary child. His appearance as an ordinary human being is one of the features of His transcendental body. In the Eleventh Chapter of the Gītā also it is stated, tenaiva rūpeṇa etc. Arjuna prayed to see again that form of four hands, and when Kṛṣṇa was thus petitioned by Arjuna, He again assumed His original form. All these different features of the Supreme Lord are certainly not those of an ordinary human being.
Some of those who deride Kṛṣṇa, who are infected with the Māyāvādī philosophy, quote the following verse from the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam to prove that Kṛṣṇa is just an ordinary man: ahaṁ sarveṣu bhūteṣu bhūtātmāvasthitaḥ sadā: “The Supreme is present in every living entity.” (Bhāg. 3.29.21) We should better take note of this particular verse from the Vaiṣṇava ācāryas like Jīva Gosvāmī instead of following the interpretation of unauthorized persons who deride Kṛṣṇa. Jīva Gosvāmī, commenting on this verse, says that Kṛṣṇa, in His plenary expansion as Paramātmā, is situated in the moving and the nonmoving entities as the Supersoul, so any neophyte devotee who simply gives his attention to the arca-mūrti, the form of the Supreme Lord in the temple, and does not respect other living entities is uselessly worshiping the form of the Lord in the temple. There are three kinds of devotees of the Lord, and the neophyte is in the lowest stage. The neophyte devotee gives more attention to the Deity in the temple than to other devotees, so Jīva Gosvāmī warns that this sort of mentality should be corrected. A devotee should see that Kṛṣṇa is present in everyone’s heart as Paramātmā; therefore every body is the embodiment or the temple of the Supreme Lord, and as such, as one offers respect to the temple of the Lord, he should similarly properly respect each and every body in whom the Paramātmā dwells. Everyone should therefore be given proper respect and should not be neglected.

There are also many impersonalists who deride temple worship. They say that since God is everywhere, why should one restrict himself to temple worship? But if God is everywhere, is He not in the temple or in the Deity? Although the personalist and the impersonalist will fight with one another perpetually, a perfect devotee in Kṛṣṇa consciousness knows that although Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality, He is all-pervading, as is confirmed in the Brahma-saṁhitā. Although His personal abode is Goloka Vṛndāvana and He is always staying there, still, by His different manifestations of energy and by His plenary expansion, He is present everywhere in all parts of the material and spiritual creation.

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