Photograph of a Spiritual Teacher is in the Absolute Stage

Srila Prabhupada framed

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…Yes. Those who are spiritually advanced, their photograph and ordinary photograph is different. Just like here is statue of Kṛṣṇa. He’s not different from Kṛṣṇa. The original person Kṛṣṇa and this statue of Kṛṣṇa is the same. Similarly, a spiritually perfect person and his photograph is the same. Because it is in the absolute stage. In the absolute stage there is no difference. In the material stage there is difference. Is that clear?… (Srila Prabhupada Bhagavad-gita Lecture Sept. 16, 1966)

Full Lecture

Bhagavad-gītā Lecture
By A. C. Bhaktivvedanta Swami
Chapter 6, Text 40-42
New York, September 16, 1966

(kīrtana—Prabhupāda tells the devotees to chant one round—someone yells “I’m God” and yells something that sounds like “Om” over and over but sounds more like a cow mooing real slow. He yells and screams, “I’m God! I’m God!” and leaves. Devotees and Prabhupāda continue japa. Prabhupāda chants first prayer of Śikṣāṣṭaka. Then this class begins:)

Prabhupāda:

śrī-bhagavān uvāca
pārtha naiveha nāmutra
vināśas tasya vidyate
na hi kalyāṇa-kṛt kaścid
durgatiṁ tāta gacchati

Once begun, transcendental life, spiritual life or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, it will never be stopped. You can finish it even some percentage, you have to begin again from that point to further advancement. That is the… That means spiritual asset is never lost. Material asset is lost with this body. As soon as we change our body, whatever we are acquiring materially in this world, house, business, bank balance, field(?), reputation, education, this will be all finished just with the end of this body.

Take for example that we sometimes worship our past leaders. In your country, George Washington, or in our country, Gandhi or somebody else. But this is false because you do not know where is that gentleman Washington has gone. We are simply worshiping a shadow. A photograph, a statue. But we do not know where is actually that spirit soul, his transmigration of the soul. The soul goes to another body and we foolishly worship the dead body, which is useless. This is called bhūtejyā. In Sanskrit language it is called bhūtejyā. Ghost worship. Yānti bhūtāni bhūtejyā. So this is only sentiment. But because all the name, fame, assets materially gained, it ends with that body, it remains with that body. Now you have to begin another body according to your own karma. But the spiritual effect which you acquire, that goes with you. Because you are spirit, it goes with the spirit. And the material asset left with this material…

They do not know. Foolish people, they do not know. They are after material acquisition. They do not know this will be finished just with the finishing of the body. This is called illusion. For this body which will not go with me I am working so hard, day and night. But the spirit, as I am, I do not know wherefrom I have come, where I am going. Therefore we have to follow the direction of authoritative persons, scriptures, to mold our life how to work. That is called karma-yoga. Simply working is not karma-yoga. Karma-yoga means… It is described in the Bhagavad-gītā, yat karoṣi [Bg. 9.27]. Whatever you are doing. Yat karoṣi yaj juhoṣi. Whatever you are sacrificing. Yad aśnāsi, whatever you are eating. Yad dadāsi, whatever you are giving in charity. Kuruṣva tad mad-arpaṇam, “give Me.” “You want to give some charity, give Me,” Kṛṣṇa says. But people will not give Kṛṣṇa. If the members of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness goes to some foundation, that “We are being doing this work. Give us some money.” “No. Our money is meant for hospital and educational institution.” And what you are producing? “Atom bomb. Oh, that is all right.” This is going on.

So we are, by material advancement, we are just advancing the cause of illusion. That is all. We do not know. What we know? Therefore a person who begins a spiritual life in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, his asset will go with him. Never mind, in this body we may be little uncomfortable. A spiritually advanced man, or a person in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, is never in discomfort. We have already discussed this point. Yasmin sthito guruṇāpi duḥkhena na vicālyate yaṁ labdhvā cāparaṁ lābhaṁ manyate nādhikaṁ tataḥ [Bg. 6.20-23]. When one attains perfection in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he does not want anything more. Everything is complete. And the symptom will be seen that he’s not disturbed even in the severest point of miserable condition.

You’ll be surprised to know that Haridāsa Ṭhākura… We always glorify him after our kīrtana, “Haridāsa Ṭhākura ki jaya.” This Haridāsa Ṭhākura, how he was undisturbed. There are many instances. Lord Jesus Christ, he was also undisturbed when he was being crucified. So similarly, this Haridāsa Ṭhākura, he happened to be a Muhammadan and he joined this Hare Kṛṣṇa movement. So the Muhammadan magistrate called him, “Oh, you are born in such a nice family and you are chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa? Hindu? You are chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hindu’s name? Then what is your explanation?” So Haridāsa Ṭhākura was… He could understand that he is now in dangerous position. So he replied, “Sir, many Hindus also have become Muhammadan. So if some Muhammadan becomes Hindu, what is the harm?” “Oh, you are arguing?” Means he was to be punished. Give the dog a bad name and hang it.

So he was ordered that this man should be caned. And in, at that time Navadvīpa had twenty-two marketplaces. So in each marketplace he should be taken and in the public he should be flogged. So that he was done. And the idea was that by flogging he would die. The magistrate’s idea was like that. But fortunately Haridāsa Ṭhākura did not die, neither he cried even. He was as good as silent. So these persons who were flogging, they fell on his feet. “Sir, the idea was that you would die. But now I see that you do not die. So now our punishment is awaiting. He will think that we have not flogged you sufficiently.” Then Haridāsa Ṭhākura said, “What you want?” “No, we want that you should die.” Then he made himself into samādhi and the flogger took him to the magistrate, “Here is the condition.” The magistrate thought, “He’s now dead.” So told him, “Throw him in the water. Don’t put him in the graveyard. He has become Hindu.” So yasmin sthito guruṇāpi na vicālyate [Bg. 6.20-23]. So he was so disturbed, but he was steady. So it is such a thing. He was chanting. The others were flogging him, and he was chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare, Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare.

So spiritual asset is like that. Of course, that is the highest perfectional stage, Haridāsa Ṭhākura or Lord Jesus Christ. And there are many instances. But that is the idea, that one who is spiritually advanced, he’s not disturbed by any material miserable condition. Therefore Lord Kṛṣṇa says that a person who is spiritually advanced, for him there is no misery even in this world and what to speak of the other world? Pārtha na eva iha. Iha means in this world. Nāmutra. Amutra means next life. Vināśas tasya vidyate. Na vināśa. Vināśa means annihilation. So he has no annihilation. What is annihilation? We have understood from Bhagavad-gītā in the Second Chapter that soul is never annihilated. Indestructible.

Now how it is said that vināśa? Vināśa means when we are in the whirlpool of this material transmigration of soul from one body to another and we do not know where we are going. Either we are going, I am going to become an elephant or I’m going to become an ant, I do not know. After leaving this body, I’m in the wilderness of different species of life. So I forget myself. I forget myself. That is called vināśa. Vināśa means that living entity is not annihilated but he does not know where I am. Just like you are thrown to the Pacific Ocean and by the waves… Or you are thrown into the middle, you don’t see any land, so you do not know… That is vināśa. That is annihilation. Although we are living there. Similarly, if we meet this… We do not know what I am going to be in my next life but my life, next life is a fact. Next life is fact. Suppose if you drive me away from this room, so I must take shelter of another room. So you do not know where I am gone. So this is called vināśa. This is called vināśa.

So one who takes to spiritual life, he has no vināśa. He has no annihilation means that his next life he’s going to be again human being. He’s not lost in the wilderness of other species of life. Because he has to begin again. Suppose he has finished ten percent Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Now he has to begin eleven percent again. Now, in order to begin, I mean to say, eleven percent in Kṛṣṇa consciousness he has to take the human body. So this means that if anyone takes to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, his next life human body is guaranteed. It is guaranteed. It is very nice. Without Kṛṣṇa consciousness I do not know what my next body is going to happen. But if Kṛṣṇa consciousness or spiritual consciousness you are advanced, never mind whatever little percentage it is, you are sure to get the chance of another human body. Therefore it is said.

So at least to have a guarantee that our next life is going to be human life, everyone should take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. From mundane profit point of view. There is a story, Sāvitrī-Satyavān. Sāvitrī-Satyavān, it is not a story. It is historical fact that one gentleman, he was a king’s son, prince. His name was Satyavān. But he was to die at a certain age his horoscope said. But one girl Sāvitrī, she fell in love with that boy. Now she wanted to marry. Her father told her, “He’ll die at certain age. You don’t marry.” But she was bent. She married. In course of time the boy died, say after four or five years, and the girl became widow. So she was so staunch lover that she won’t let the dead body go away. And the Yamarāja, the, what is English I do not know, who takes away the body or the soul after death, so he came to take the soul away. So this chaste girl would not allow the husband’s body to go away. Then Yamarāja told, “It is my duty that I should take. You give it up. Otherwise, you’ll be also punished.” So she gave and she was following Yamarāja. So Yamarāja became compassionate. So Yamarāja became compassionate, he benedicted her, “My dear girl, you go home. I give you benediction you will have a son. Don’t cry for your husband.” Then she was again following and when Yamarāja said, “Why you are following me?” “Now you are taking my husband. How can I have my son?” Oh, then he was in dilemma. He returned her husband. So similarly, this is a technique. If you take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then your husband or this human form of life is guaranteed.

Nāham… Pārtha naiveha nāmutra vināśas tasya vidyate na hi kalyāṇa-kṛt. Kalyāṇa-kṛt. A spiritual life is the most auspicious life. Kalyāṇa. Kalyāṇa means auspicious. So anyone who has done something auspicious, na hi kalyāṇa-kṛt kaścid durgatiṁ tāta gacchati. Anyone who has done something nice auspicious thing, oh it will never be vanquished. He will never be put into difficulty. It is such a nice thing.

prāpya puṇya-kṛtāṁ lokān
uṣitvā śāśvatīḥ samāḥ
śucīnāṁ śrīmatāṁ gehe
yoga-bhraṣṭo ‘bhijāyate
[Bg. 6.41]

Now those who are transcendentally advanced, what is their next life? That was the question of Arjuna. Kṛṣṇa says that next life is that he’s transferred to the higher planet. Prāpya puṇya-kṛtāṁ lokān [Bg. 6.41]. Lokān means planets. He’s transferred to the higher planetary system where all pious and righteous men are living. Prāpya puṇya-kṛtāṁ lokān uṣitvā śāśvatīḥ samāḥ [Bg. 6.41]. Śāśvatīḥ samāḥ, samāḥ means years and śāśvatīḥ means almost eternal. Almost eternal. Why? Because in the higher planets the duration of life is very great. Our six months equal to their one year, uh, one day. Our six months. That you have already tested, that in the higher space the aeronautics or what is called? Nowadays they have traveling in the space? They rounded in some one hour, one and a half hour they circumambulated the earth so many times. That means so many days and nights passed in one hour. So similarly, it is a fact as you go in the higher planetary system the duration of time is different. That is accepted by Professor Einstein also. So śāśvatīḥ samāḥ. If you are transferred to the higher planetary system then your duration of life will be increased like that. Here six months, and there one day. By such calculation of one day you live there for ten thousand years. Ten thousand years. That one day our six months. Now imagine. Similarly Brahmā, other higher planetary… Brahmā’s life. That is also described.

So Kṛṣṇa said that these transcendentally advanced persons, they’re transferred to the higher planetary system and live there for many, many years to enjoy life there. Then again they are transferred again here. This is called karma-kṣetra. And one may ask question that when he’s transferred again to this planet what does he become? Does he become any animal? Or man? No. He still becomes a man. And what sort of man? Śucīnāṁ śrīmatāṁ gehe yoga-bhraṣṭo ‘bhijāyate. Śucīnām means very pious family, righteous family. Just like in India we have got the brāhmaṇa family, kṣatriya family. High family. Very… Their mode of life is very high standard, clean and righteous, pious, so many things. So śucīnām and śrīmatām. Śucīnām, such pious family you’ll find many in India. And śrīmatām. Śrīmatām means rich. So rich family we’ll find in your country, America. So that person who is coming again, he is born in a rich family or in pious family. Śucīnāṁ śrīmatāṁ gehe yoga-bhraṣṭo ‘bhijāyate. One who was not successful in executing the yoga perfectly, he again… That means to have one’s birth in a rich family means he has no anxiety for his bread. He’s happy. Now he can happily execute the yoga process. Or in a pious family automatically the yoga process of transcendental life is there. So he can begin also there. That is chance. Those who are born in such family, in righteous family or rich family, they should take instruction from Bhagavad-gītā, that this is a chance given by God to execute our spiritual life, not for sense enjoyment increasing, “Because I have got so much money, oh, let me enjoy senses more, I mean to say, acutely.”

So śucīnāṁ śrīmatāṁ gehe yoga-bhraṣṭo ‘bhijāyate [Bg. 6.41]. Athavā, or alternative.

athavā yoginām eva
kule bhavati dhīmatām
etaddhi durlabhataraṁ
loke janma yad īdṛśam
[Bg. 6.42]

Athavā yogināṁ gṛhe. Yogināṁ gṛhe means that neither rich nor very pious, but actually yogi. His parents, he gets such a parent that who are actually in execution of spiritual life, Kṛṣṇa consciousness or yoga, the father mother. So children, they generally imitate, imitate the parents’ habits or activities. So fortunately we had the opportunity of getting such a father. So we are imitating our father. In my childhood I imitated my father. He was worshiping Deity of Kṛṣṇa. So I asked him, “My dear father, I shall worship. Give me the Deity of Kṛṣṇa.” So he gave me a little Deity of Kṛṣṇa and Rādhā and I was imitating. So beginning of life… So these are actually facts. Mahārāja Parīkṣit also, he was playing with Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa dolls. Just like Mirabhai. She was playing with Kṛṣṇa doll and later on she became a very high-grade devotee. So these chances are there.

Athavā yoginām eva kule bhavati dhīmatām [Bg. 6.42]. He’s given the chance of being born in such good family. Etaddhi durlabhataram. Now this kind of birth, in a family of devotee and yogi, is very, I mean to say, rare, and it is far better than the other two lives, to have birth in rich family or in pious family. Actually, they are acting. Just like when a boy is born of a father who is a medical man… We have seen it. So naturally he becomes a medical man. Because he sees his father and the inclination inherits. In that way, in the Indian caste system, originally it was a division. But because the son imitated the father, in this way, it has come to be a caste system by birth. So anyway, these chances are given. The purport is that we, everyone, every man should begin spiritual life.

Either any yoga system, any spiritual life is called yoga. Yoga means to link. We are part and parcel of the supreme absolute, Brahman or Bhagavān, whatever you call, Paramātmā, it doesn’t matter. But yoga means linking. So the linking, either you link with impersonal formless, the Supreme Brahman, that is also linking. And if you by meditation you link up with the Supersoul within yourself that is also transcendental activity. Or you directly worship as a devotee, Kṛṣṇa. Anything you adopt, that is spiritual life. But to become Kṛṣṇa conscious or a devotee of Kṛṣṇa, that is the ultimate goal. That we have in the Bhagavad-gītā:

bahūnāṁ janmanām ante
jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
sa mahātmā sudurlabhaḥ
[Bg. 7.19]

After two stages. Impersonal conception of the Supreme or localized realization of the Supreme. They have again to come to this consciousness, Kṛṣṇa consciousness, after many, many births. So therefore it is better if they’re intelligent enough, when you get the information that ultimately you have to come to this point, Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti [Bg. 7.19]. Vāsudeva means Kṛṣṇa. Sa mahātmā sudurlabhaḥ. That sort of great soul is very rare. So why not become a rare great soul immediately and just become in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and make your life successful? Thank you very much. Any questions? Yes?

Woman: You say you worship the deity photograph of someone who has gone. But the photograph of a spiritual teacher can be very helpful to teach them to love him because the photograph of a spiritual teacher is not material value, but it symbolizes the truth from which the, he has come.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Those who are spiritually advanced, their photograph and ordinary photograph is different. Just like here is statue of Kṛṣṇa. He’s not different from Kṛṣṇa. The original person Kṛṣṇa and this statue of Kṛṣṇa is the same. Similarly, a spiritually perfect person and his photograph is the same. Because it is in the absolute stage. In the absolute stage there is no difference. In the material stage there is difference. Is that clear? In the absolute stage there is no difference. Just like we are chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa. The Kṛṣṇa is the name of the Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So this name and Kṛṣṇa is nondifferent. Do you realize it? There is no difference between Kṛṣṇa who is in His supreme abode and the name Kṛṣṇa which you are chanting. That is the same. There is no difference. This is absolute conception. Whereas if I am thirsty and if I call the name of water, “Water, water, water,” I require the substance water actually. Simply by calling “water” will not do. That is the difference between matter and spirit.

And actually, if we are not getting some spiritual enlightenment by chanting Kṛṣṇa then do you think that we are simply wasting our time? No. We’re not wasting our time. We’re actually getting spiritual ecstasy because there is no difference. But you take similarly, the name of water or something else, what you want, that will not be fulfilled. This is the absolute and relative conception. In the absolute stage there is no difference, name, quality, form, pastime, entourage, everything the same. If you chant Kṛṣṇa’s name it is as good as Kṛṣṇa. If you see Kṛṣṇa’s form it is as good as Kṛṣṇa. If you think of Kṛṣṇa’s activities it is as good as Kṛṣṇa. This realization is spiritual realization. Therefore a first-class devotee who is advanced in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he sees everything Kṛṣṇa. Nothing different from Kṛṣṇa. Any other questions?

Govinda dasi: You said that after leaving this body, this body is gone, you’ll part with Kṛṣṇa consciousness and go to a higher place? (indistinct)

Prabhupāda: No. If you make perfection of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then after leaving this body you go directly to Kṛṣṇa. But if you are not perfect, if you have simply executed a certain percentage only then you’ll get the chance of another human body either in this planet or any other planet to execute the balance. That is… According to percentage of advancement, one is given birth in a rich family or in a pious family or in a yogi’s family. That depends on the percentage of advancement. But one who has completed his spiritual consciousness or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he’s at once transferred.

janma karma ca me divyaṁ
yo jānāti tattvataḥ
tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma
naiti mām eti kaunteya
[Bg. 4.9]

That is clearly stated in the Bhagavad-gītā that one who has understood what is Kṛṣṇa, how Kṛṣṇa takes His birth, how Kṛṣṇa acts, what are His activities, for one who has understood factually the result is, simply by understanding Kṛṣṇa, the result is tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti, he doesn’t get any more material birth. Then? Where does he go? Tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti [Bg. 4.9]. “He comes to Me.” That means in the supreme abode of Kṛṣṇa. That is the highest perfection. But if the highest perfection is…

Therefore we should be very serious. Why should we wait for another birth either in very pious family or rich family or in other planet? That is also condemned in Bhagavad-gītā. Ābrahma-bhuvanāl lokāḥ punar āvartino ‘rjuna [Bg. 8.16]. Even if you are elevated to the highest planet of this material world you’ll have to come again to prepare yourself. The best thing is that we are now here in this planet and immediately take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness and surrender unto Him and become perfect. Why should you wait for another birth or in another planet? Finish. Now, if you are actually serious about Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then finish now. This is the opportunity. Labdhvā sudurlabham idaṁ bahu-sambhavānte [SB 11.9.29]. This birth is obtained after many, many evolutionary process. Mānuṣyam artha-dam. This human body can give you the highest perfection. So tūrṇaṁ yateta, be very serious and try for that perfection. Anumṛtyu pated yāvat, until next death comes. But we are not serious. We are not very serious. We are serious about how to make our sense gratification very nicely. That is our seriousness. Human advancement, advancement of civilization means how nicely you can gratify your senses. This is going on. Only to give all sorts of comfort to this body. But actually human civilization means that people should be very serious to have perfection of this human body, spiritual perfection. That is perfect human civilization. That is missing at the present moment. (kīrtana) (end)

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