Bhagavad Gita Chapter: 8: Attaining the Supreme: Text 16
punar āvartino ’rjuna
mām upetya tu kaunteya
punar janma na vidyate
Translation: From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to my abode, O son of Kuntī, never takes birth again.
Krishna is telling Arjuna within this material world there is no place you can say is really joyful. Every place you go is the place of misery. For example often times people think like if they go America life will be so wonderful. Finally they move to America, uproot their family, give up their heritage everything. And when they reach here they find the same problems are here like in their home country, only thing is the people look different. Here in America, they will have big houses but sometimes they hardly know who their neighbors are, just don’t say hi to them and sometimes no one is happy to meet one and another. You are coming thousands and thousands of miles away leaving everything and have to face this kind of situation is miserable. We cannot run away from the miseries of the material world. We think we can change the environment and be happy. In summer time, we make the room cool, and think this is so wonderful and our life is so complete. But when you have to go and run your own errands sometimes you feel you hate to do this job. Sometimes the weather changes, sometimes it is very hot, sometimes very cold. We never expected this when we came here. But material world is like that, it is created in such a way that it is meant to give you misery.
In Bhagavad Gita, chapter 8: Attaining the Supreme, Text 15, Krishna Says “duhkhalayam asasvatam”. “Duhkhalayam”, means it is the Ocean of miseries. Wherever you go you cannot run away from this miserable condition. Sometimes life in India is better when compared to USA in terms of moving around and doing our own work which is very easy, getting a doctor appointment is easy, we don’t have to show an insurance card for better medical facility. But in USA everything is insurance be it car, our house, or medical. If you don’t have any insurance it is equivalent to dying on a street. So this shows miseries are everywhere, but they come in different fashion and we face it in different way. That is what Krishna says this whole creation is to give you miseries only. But we may think why we are suffering or going through this miserable condition when we did not do anything. It goes back to the origin actually. The reason for our existence.
We all have an eternal relationship with Krishna, but what had happened is we decided not to have that relationship. It is like when we go for a party when everyone is there, there will be one who is very popular and you think why I have to go and talk to them. Like that way in spiritual world, where Krishna is in the center we feel like why we have to be with Krishna. We want to separate from him. As soon as we think like that Krishna allow his kindness because we are supposed to have a meaningful relationship with Krishna, but when we think in a negative way towards Krishna then it is an incompatible situation in the spiritual world so we cannot exist there. So out of compassion Krishna created this material universe for us to stay. And he asked one of his energies Durga Matha (compared to a Fortress) to reform us. So Krishna send us here to reform our contaminated consciousness not understanding the eternal relationship with Krishna. This material world is an opportunity to regain that relationship with Krishna. So in this Kaliyuga we have forgotten our connection with Krishna, we don’t understand our scriptures, our tradition, doesn’t know what the scriptures are trying to teach us. Most people think religion means God will give all the wealth we need. You can have dreams but it should be realistic. You cannot get everything you want, because someone else will get it first. For example trying for a job, many will apply but may be one or two will be successful to get that job. Everyone cannot be happy in this situation and no one can escape from situations like that. When resources are limited there is supply and demand also and technically there will be many other people. But what Krishna consciousness trying to give us is unlimited joy. It will develop your consciousness to the level where you can see what false happiness is and what is true happiness. You can analyze in logical fashion. It is a tangible experience. We have to put it in to proper practice, then we will know and realize.
Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita, chapter 9: The most confidential knowledge, Text 2 “su-sukham kartum avyayam” you will experience it by doing it properly. Example by doing Kirtan in temple you will feel some joy, or some peace within, and this is a reality. As you progress you experience more and more happiness in the process and it will make sense to you also. But the practice must be meaningful. Srila Prabupad did not come to do a sectarian group. This movement is for anyone or for everyone. This is to regain your lost connection. When Arjuna is bewildered in the battle field that he had to kill his relatives whom he loved and respected a lot and asking Krishna why he had to kill them so Krishna says that they have committed serious crimes and the righteous way is to kill this people. When Arjuna says he can’t do, Krishna says to him that this whole place is miserable Arjuna, no matter what position you will take it is going to be miserable, one way or the other the misery cannot go away.
The happiness you experience is actually the interruption of your distress otherwise we all be happy and joyful in this material world. We have to appreciate what Krishna is saying to Arjuna and we have to take lessons from it. He says you can be pious, a very good person, you help others, you get an opportunity to go to higher planetary system. There are levels of planetary system. Modern science is not able to conceive at that moment. Because they are looking through pieces of glasses. But the technology is different. The Vedic technology is Yogic system. Through mystic yogic system we can view upper plantery system and lower plantery system, and with that technology you can go to these places. Piety will lead to the upper planetary system, if you are not pious you can go to the lower planetary system which is not so luxurious. Higher plantery system has all kinds of facilities. It is like demigods having a party and all kinds of enjoyment but one day they have to fall down. Because life ends at a certain time. Srila Prabhupad says when they fall down they come to Mrityu Lokha, place of death.
We are all in a denial state thinking that we won’t die, but death is there. And at the time of death it is not a happy situation it is a miserable situation. But we have to accept that this can happen to all of us one day. That is awakening us to reality, we cannot live in denial. Often time material existence is pure denial. But some people believe that there is reincarnation, we may come back. We have to read the scriptures to understand how this world is set up. So this Material world is temporary existence and in this temporary existence continuous birth, death, old age and diseases are there. We take birth it is not a happy situation. We come crying and when we die we make everyone cry. There are many crying situations also in our life, like child birth, our child’s marriage, going to higher studies leaving home and parents, missing friends after you have done with your studies and have to part ways, job lay off, have to work with a unfair person in job front. There cries are the cries of joy as well as miseries also. Krishna tells to Arjuna anything in this material world is misery. Another example is life of farmer how hard he works on his land, sometime due to climate change there will no rain and all, sometimes he harvest crops but does not get proper value for his crops etc.
The nature of living entity or Jiva is, we are willing to tolerate all these miserable situations even though we know we are subjected to repeated birth, death, old age and diseases and in this life if we want to achieve something we will dream about it. Then we try hard and we may not get it. And when we lay on our death bed, we think wish we had this success, wish we achieved something. When we die thinking like that we will come back again to this material world to fulfill those desires. We can stop all these things by takin up Krishna consciousness, reviving our original connection with Krishna. Then we don’t have to come back to fulfill those temporary material desires. Immediately Krishna will elevate us by taking us to his spiritual abode which is eternal.
Here in this verse Krishna says “punar janma na vidyate”. You don’t have to take repeated birth when we go to him, but if we deny him in our life we have to take birth again. And have to go to the process of birth, death, old age and diseases, full of miseries and there is no other way actually other than connect to Krishna. There is a saying
harer nāma harer nāma
harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva
nāsty eva gatir anyathā
Translation: For spiritual progress in this Age of Kali there is no alternative, there is no alternative, there is no alternative to the holy name, the holy name, the holy name of the Lord.
In this Kaliyuga the only way we can revive our original spiritual consciousness is through the process of chanting Harinama. Here it is empathized 3 times. Why because in Kaliyuga if we tell people one time to chant they won’t listen. So chant his holy name and that is why our movement is also called as Hare Krishna movement which do not want anything from us but giving us freely “ Hari Naam” so we have to take advantage of it by chanting the holy name and reconnect with Krishna. Then we all can go back to godhead. Chant daily the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. This chanting is to call out the consort of Krishna, Srimati Radha Rani to call out to Krishna himself to engage ourselves in his eternal service. By chanting the name of Krishna and his consort we are actually glorifying them. And Krishna likes to be glorified. He is the Paramatma situated in our heart and he knows that we are glorifying him and we stand out of the crowd while we chant the Hare Krishna Maha mantra, nicely with affection. We can develop this affection to Krishna by coming to temple and having devotee association and spending time wisely.
Krishna says in Chapter 8 of Bhagavad Gita, Attaining the Supreme, Text 6
yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ
tyajaty ante kalevaram
taṁ tam evaiti kaunteya
Translation: Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kuntī, that state he will attain without fail.
So this Hare Krishna movement is to make us understand the fallacies in the life styles which we have adopted artificially. And understand that real life style is spiritual life style and reconnect back to Krishna and experience the joy within our heart and sometimes it will make us feel regretful that we denied this movement earlier and really wished within our heart that we had known this process earlier and accepted it.
When we connect with Krishna our all selfish intentions will be purified. All our false desires will be purified, it is like sun its rays cleans the places wherever it touches Once who have desire to get liberation or one who does not have any desire should worship Krishna then you will get in to a stage of pure devotional service.
In Srimad -Bhagavatham Canto 2.3.10 it is said that:-
akāmaḥ sarva-kāmo vā
yajeta puruṣaṁ param
Translation: A person who has broader intelligence, whether he be full of all material desire, without any material desire, or desiring liberation, must by all means worship the supreme whole, the Personality of Godhead.
Even though when we chant our mind wanders and chanting without attention is considered as offence. You may not get the full benefit initially. But still we should not lose hope and quit this process, because if you are chanting inattentively too you are in the process of purification and one day you will be able to chant without any offence. You should not think that when we will become pure we will chant our rounds without any offence. But there is a time factor too. So we should chant sincerely, and at the time of death we will be able to remember Krishna and finally go back to his eternal abode.