Chapter Thirteen: Nature, the Enjoyer and Consciousness: Text 26
anye tv evam ajānantaḥ
’pi cātitaranty eva
Translation: Again, there are those who, although not conversant in spiritual knowledge, begin to worship the Supreme Person upon hearing about Him from others. Because of their tendency to hear from authorities, they also transcend the path of birth and death.
Krishna dedicates this verse to recommend the process of hearing. In this verse Krishna describes that if someone who cannot take up the process of Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga or Bhakti Yoga or does not have the knowledge of those processes, can still awaken their Love or bhakti to Krishna by taking up the process of hearing from a bonafide devotee and still can cross beyond this cycle of birth and death.
In the first 6 chapters of Bhagavad Gita, Krishna describes about Karma Yoga. Middle chapters, between 8-12 verse, Krishna talks about Bhakti Yoga, Jnana Yoga in 13-18 verses, but actually these last chapters are Bhakti yoga, because it is a philosophical knowledge which is necessary for us to get out of this material entanglement, detach ourselves from matter and the same time attach ourselves to Krishna. How to utilize this knowledge by means to attain devotion for Krishna that is what this chapters are about.
When we break down the chapter 13, we can see that verses from 1 to 7 Arjuna asks 6 question to Krishna and Krishna answers them all. These questions
1) What is Prakriti or what is material nature ?
2)What is Purusha ? The enjoyer. Krishna describes two types of Purusha
3)What is Kshetra? Which is the field of activity, or field of action
4)What is Kshetrajna? Who is the knower of the field of activity which is actually the body.
5)About soul and super soul: The two knowers Krishna describes. With the souls there is limited capacity. The super soul has the capacity of knowing all the fields of activity of the body and of everyone.
6)How to acquire Jnana? The process of acquiring knowledge is described by Krishna.
7)What is Neya? The object of knowledge. Now the knowledge is there, whom I am supposed to worship or who is object of worship that is described by Krishna.
In verse 19-23 Krishna talks about Purusha the enjoyer and Prakriti the material nature. In verse 24 Krishna explains the result of knowledge. The knowledge of interrelation between soul, Super soul and the material nature. It is the modes of material nature that binds us in this material world and how to come out of these modes is important to know. In verse 25 Krishna explains the various process that people follow of realizing knowledge and achieving Bhakti gradually like Dhyana Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga. Krishna dedicated the verse 26 to recommend the process of hearing. In this verse Krishna describes that bhakti cannot be developed overnight regardless of which process we follow. It requires cultivation of practice with a purpose behind it. If we understand the purpose it is easier to do things.
The purpose of Sadhana Bhakti
Sadhana Bhakti refers to the practice of devotional service in a way that one’s dormant love for Krishna is awakened in the heart. Important point to note here Dormant love, not that we are learning again. Here we are showing a commitment to Krishna that we are eager to accept his mercy and we are going to do our Sadhana constantly as a commitment to reawaken the dormant love for him.
How to show that commitment? By having a goal or Sadhya to develop pure love of Krishna. Then by Sadhana- the activity by which to attain the goal. And these activities include the process of chanting regularly specially in Brahma muhurta , reading regularly, hearing regularly, doing service regularly. Sadhana bhakti is nothing but a volunteer force to focus our mind and thought on Krishna . Srila Prabupada puts this as practice or sadhana to engage our mind and senses in a particular type of work. When we chant, we might not get focus first , but when we keep on chanting regularly, we will develop a taste for chanting or attachment to the process that we want to chant today. Then we develop attachment to Krishna and gradually understand that Krishna and his name are not different, spiritual activity and Krishna are not different. Sadhana bhakti is engaging our mind and senses in some work for Krishna, and this will help us to make some progress and reach the stage of Bhava bhakti and ultimately Prema Bhakti, developing the pure love for Krishna.
Sadhana Bhakti is not a mechanical thing where we are doing something without any feeling or devotion. We are used to do some activity, but our mind is not in that activity and it is wandering somewhere else. For example, When Chanting, our mind is somewhere else and we don’t realize sometime that we have completed a round of Japa. Sadhana bhakti means putting an effort sincerely in to the activity we are doing focusing on it.
How can we do Sadhana Bhakti regularly
We can do Sadhana Bhakti regularly with full commitment .For this we should understand the purpose. If we do not have that motivation then we are not inclined to do it. So, Krishna is explaining in 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th chapters of Bhagavad Gita , especially in 13th and 14th chapter about the precarious condition which we should understand like
1)We are trying to be the enjoyers
2)Always under the influence of the 3 modes
3)But still want to be the controllers
We all came to this material world with a tendency to enjoy , separately from Krishna, for we want to be controllers. So as soon as we land in this material world, we are bound by the three modes. This is our precarious condition. It is hard to come out. Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita 7.14 it is hard to come out of these modes but if one surrenders un to me they can cross beyond this ocean of material world that is the only loop hole. And no other way. So Sadhana Bhakti is to understand our precarious conditions, understand the goal to come out the platform of pure love for Krishna, Shuddha sattva. Right now, we have love for Krishna but it is mixed we cannot elevate artificially to that platform of Prema Bhakti( which is the ultimate Goal)
Srila Prabupada says about the modes
“… But because we are conditioned, we are under illusion. Although we are Prakrti, we are thinking that we are Purusa. But actually, we are not Purusa. We are also Prakrti. So, this living entity, on the false understand of becoming a Purusa, they have come to this material world to enjoy the material nature. The result is that we are trying to be enjoyer life after life, but we are being struggling to become enjoyer. This is our position.”
Lecture on SB 6.1.55—London, August 13, 1975.
Purusha is the supreme purusha, Krishna, and we are enjoyed by Krishna (Prakti )in serving him, by developing love for him.
There are 3 modes of material nature that bind us are:The mode of goodness: Conditions one to happiness—this is the best compared to other, but still it binds us .It makes you feel you are well situated, nice , not doing any sinful activity, doing all house hold duties, taking care of your family, obligations, gives You the feeling of complacency and peace. No motivation to do anything else.
1)The mode of Passion: Conditions one to fruitive action—getting things done , fruitive actions, it is never satisfied. The more we do it, the more we want to do it . The more we get more we want
2)The mode of Ignorance: Covers one’s knowledge, binds one to madness. One does not know what is right what is wrong .
Actually, mode of goodness is characterized by having peace and feeling of well-being, passion is more like getting things done, ignorance is laziness. These are the characteristics later described in Bhagavad Gita in later chapters. All these three modes condition us.
Person in the mode of passion and ignorance can take up Sadhana bhakti. It will be hard for them, but if they have the association of devotees, they can sustain the hardships. Then they can come up to the mode of goodness where there is more conducive for devotional service, easier to practice, and sustain, it brings stability. But this is not the goal of Sadhana bhakti to be in the mode of goodness, it is to eventually bring us to Bhava bhakti and progress to Prem bhakti, elevating consciousness.
Devotional service has 3 stages
1)Sadhana Bhakti– devotional service in practice
2)Bhava Bhakti-devotional service in ecstasy- very close to Prema Bhakti
3)Prema Bhakti-devotional service in pure love of Krishna.
Nectar of devotion says about 6 characteristics of pure devotional service by Srila Rupa Goswami, and the Acharya’s have grouped them in to pairs, in to which stage of Bhakti they refer too Sadhana Bhakti, Bhava Bhakti and Prema Bhakti
1)Klesaghni: relief from material distress
2)Subhada-attainment of auspiciousness,
3)Moksa-laghutakrt– pure devotional service derides even the happiness of liberation
5)Sandrananda-visesatma– automatically puts one in transcendental pleasure
6)Sri Krsnakarsini– it is the only means to attract Krishna
The first two qualities Klesaghni and Subhada are seen when one practices Sadhana bhakti. Klesaghni reliefs from material distress, it eradicates the sinful reaction, nullifies the sinful desires, counteract material limitations we have , relief from fruits of ignorance and Subhada- restores good qualities and bestows superior form of happiness which is beyond sense gratification. Something is considered auspiciousness when it has 4 quality. Attractive to everyone, benefits everyone, produces good qualities, bestows superior form of happiness. Krishna often decorates his devotees with good qualities. Example devotee is a best welfare worker, he connects lost souls back to Krishna through the process of devotional service, it bestows happiness, peacefulness and attracts everyone. Caitanya Mahaprabu was able to attract the animal of Jharkhand forest throughout the process of chanting.
In Mokha laghutakrt- devotees do not aspire for liberation. Because the happiness they derive from rendering pure devotional service to Krishna is much greater than the happiness we get from getting liberation. Liberation is very insignificant to them. Devotees look for opportunities to do devotional service to the Lord, and they are always happy.
Sudulabha and Moksha laghutakrt are the two additional qualities one achieves in Bhava bhakti stage in devotional service, along with first two.
The two reason why pure devotional service is extremely rare and difficult to achieve is not attainable by one’s own effort. Srila Prabupad in Nectar of devotion quotes about Sukadeva Goswami in 6th Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam about the story of Ajamila. Ajamila was a beautiful Brahmana doing his duty but got corrupted as a young man by a prostitute. He fell from the position of Brahmana because his consciousness was contaminated. And in the end, he left everything and stayed with the prostitute. On the death bed he called Narayan. He was not calling Krishna but his son but he got liberated. Ajamila had done so much sinful activities but still he was saved due to the Mercy of Lord , not by his own efforts. We can do austerities , ritualistic ceremonies which counteract the sinful activities, which are the recommended process but Nectar of instruction mentions explain what it cannot remove, it cannot remove the seed of sinful desire from the heart. As long as the seed is there, it is like weed, if we do not remove the roots of the weeds it will grow again. Sinful desires see can be removed by Krishna consciousness and easiest way to remove that is by chanting of Hare Krishna Mahamantra by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
One thing is rare is Sudulabha because Krishna does not want to give himself to us easily until we have really developed love for him. We can see the life of Pandavas. He gave himself because they had pure love for Krishna so Krishna became the chariot driver, messenger. When Krishna gives himself, devotees have the power to control him by their love. Krishna is reluctant to give himself until there is pure love like Gopi’s. The last two one 5 and 6 Sandrananda-visesatma- automatically puts one in transcendental pleasure and Sri Krsnakarsini- it is the only means to attract Krishna. But if we see in Subhada one derives happiness but in the Sandrananda-visesatma the level of happiness is increasing, unlimited, uncalculated bliss one is filled and pure devotional service is the only means to attract Krishna. Krishna is not attracted by any Brahminical expertise, advanced learning ,sacrifices, austerities ,severe vows, nothing only by the unalloyed love of devotees. Until we reach the Prema stage we have to perform the Sadhana bhakti. If we steadily practice by engaging our senses in the service of the Lord not mechanically, we will develop the mood of love to render service to Krishna.
Process of awakening bhakti
Bhakti is inherent in every living entity’s heart but it needs to be reawakened what is dormant by practicing Sadhana bhakti. Srila Prabupad gives example of a child learning to walk. Initially the baby will be crawling, then take baby steps to walk. It is natural propensity within the child to walk. The ability is given to walk is given by Krishna. Similarly, our natural propensity is to love Krishna is there but we have reawakened it.
What is the cause of Bhakti or qualification of Bhakti?
Bhakti causes bhakti: This means if devotee is preaching Krishna Consciousness, it is the Bhakti in their heart that will awaken the Bhakti in other’s heart. Srila Prabupad gives example of clouds. Clouds does not carry its own water, it carries water from the ocean and it sprinkles or it rains from cloud. Same way a devotee does not claim to bestow his or her own mercy but he carries the mercy of Krishna and distributes to others, like how the cloud distributes the rain.
Now the question is If one has not had previous contact with bhakti, how can one become attracted to devotional service ?
There are lots of people out there who had not contact of Bhakti process, how do they get benefit. Attractive to bhakti is a circular process, it requires some level of attachment to the process of devotional service. But it also requires previous practice in devotional service to achieve that attraction.
There is a word “ajānantaḥ” in the verse means unknowingly. By devotee mercy we may invite our friends asking them to attend Bhagavat Gita classes, attend Kirtan, Rathyatra, Festivals like Janmashtami. That person may not know what is the processes and what are the benefits, nothing. But still they come for the sake of our friendship. And hear the classes and attend the program they eat prasadam, participate in kirtan and may be even dance in kirtan. These are spiritual activities which we are doing unknowingly. For Ajnata Sukriti, there is no qualification required. Krishna does not forget that service so what about the service which we do lovingly and sincerely un to him.
Unknowingly doing devotional service, without having any knowledge creates sukriti that one associates gradually with devotees ; opportunities will be created for those people to associate with devotees and from that point on the person has to use his own free will and take up more devotional service like kirtan. It will not be again accidental devotional service , but voluntary practice. But to come in contact with devotees is may be due Ajnata Sukriti of this life or previous life . The more important point is that there are so many people out there who may not have this Ajnata sukriti, therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu want to give them the mercy by distributing the holy name, giving prasadam, book distribution etc. That is beginning of one’s Ajnata sukriti and that attraction grows and one performs devotional service, by making a serious commitment to Sadhana Bhakti.
What is the best impetus to help us to begin practicing devotional service?
In Bhagavad Gita,13:25 there are 3 different process, Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga, and Bhakti yoga that devotee’s practice but in the verse 13.26 Krishna talks about hearing, Sruthi parayana . Those who are devoted to hearing sincerely or have attraction to hear will take one beyond the cycle of birth and death. The process of hearing and chanting is important. This can be explained by a story
Once upon a time there was a thief who was very averse to hear spiritual discourses, he used to cover his ears if he happens to hear any spiritual talks. One time he was passing by a temple, he happened to see a Sadhu who was giving spiritual talk. So, he blocked both his ears. But something happened, one of his ear plugs fell down. During that time, he heard that the Devathas or Devi’s do not have shadows. He immediately puts his ear plug back. On the way he was caught by soldiers because the King’s daughter had lost her jewels and they doubted the thief. They want the thief to confess if he has stolen the royal jewels, and puts him in prison. His Queen had a habit of dressing like Durga Mata and scaring the thief’s put in the prison and making them to confess. So as usual the Queen dressed like Durga Mata went to the thief cell at night and started to threaten him. He was literally scared in the beginning and was about to confess, but then he sees the shadow of Durga Mata and he remembered the sage words, that Devathas or Devi’s do not have shadows, and so he knew that it was someone in disguise trying to make him confess. So, his fear went away and he did not confess, and the next day he was released. After he was released, he thought just hearing one sentence form sadhu released him from prison so what if he heard more from sadhus, how much benefit will I get. Then he actually took up sincerely the process of devotional service.
Srila Prabupad has an important quote of about hearing.
So therefore, the most important thing is, to advance in devotional service, we have to increase the appetite of hearing. Visvaksena-kathasu yah, notpadayed ratim, kathasu ratim. Kathasu means, rati means attraction to kathasu, that means hearing sravanam.so this is the test, that anyone who is supposed to be advancing in devotional service, Bhakti yoga, the test will be how much he has awakened his intense desire for hearing about Krishna, that is the test, that is the test.
–Lecture on SB 1.2.8—Vrndavana, October 19,1972
Nine processes of bhakti yoga
śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ
arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ
Of the nine different processes of Bhakti Yoga, the most important things is sravanam, hearing. We have 5 knowledge acquiring senses they are called jnanendriyas ears, eyes, nose, tongue and skin. Through which we can get knowledge this is hot, salty, sour, we hear, we see, get knowledge, we smell but among all these ears is active of four. When we are sleeping in the night all our sense is inactive, or sleeping but the sense of hearing is active. If someone breaks in to the house the first thing is we hear the sound. Even the softest noise can also wake us up a sleepy person. Any one of the all the 9 process is sufficient, if practiced sincerely to develop love for Krishna. It is important we do it in a chronological order. First, we hear the glories of holy name (Sravanam) through someone who tells us the importance of chanting of holy name of the lord. We get the knowledge and then apply that knowledge. It cleanses our mind, desires and various misconceptions that we are carrying. Even the Srimad Bhagavatam or Nectar of Devotion mentions the 5 important forms of devotional services are
1)Hearing the Srimad Bhagavatam
2)Residing in Holy place
3)Worshipping the deities
4)Chanting the Hare Krishna MahaMantra
5)Serving the devotees
Hearing is the one of the most potent devotional service recommended for us. Unless one hears the Holy Name of the Lord , his form, qualities of the lord one cannot clearly understand the process of devotional service
Why is hearing important?
It says In SB 1.18.10 Purport: the systematic hearing of the transcendental activities, qualities, and names of Lord Sri Krishna pushes one towards eternal life. Systematic hearing means knowing him gradually in truth and fact, and this knowing him in truth and fact means attaining eternal life…
“ Hearing about Krishna is incredibly potent because it pleases him, and when he is pleased, our lives are successful.”
Hearing is the first service mentioned in 9 process of devotional service
1)Hearing facilitates chanting and meditating– Chanting and hearing what we chanting is important. The sound vibrations of chanting will go in to the heart and cleanses our heart of misgivings and engages our mind to focus on chanting rather than wandering around
2)Hearing increases one’s faith- hearing the past times of Lord, qualities, how he protects devotees installs faith in devotees. Srimad Bhagavatam is full of pastimes of devotees who have got lord’s protection.
3)Hearing is the way to see the lord: Many times, Srila Prabupada say people come to him and say that they want to see God, then only they will believe. But we need to have qualification to see the Lord. It is like we cannot demand to see famous personalities in this material world, we need qualification for that. Through hearing is the way to see the Lord so we understand the Lord’s qualities, form.
4)Hearing is the way to associate and build relationship with the speaker: SB 1st Canto 1 and 2nd chapter explains the qualification of the speaker, he should be from disciplic succession, Bonafied, has realized knowledge, implement knowledge, we are developing our faith, and association with the speaker itself.
5)Reading is also hearing: When we read, we are hearing what we are reading in our mind.
From whom to hear
Very important to hear from a bonafide source devotee of the lord
Srila Prabupada quotes:
“Even amongst the Mayavadi school, they hear Vedanta-sutra. We also hear, but we hear, hear real Vedanta-sutra. Because they falsely interpret, their hearing is spoiled, but we don’t interpret. We hear actually. Krishna says that ”I am the Supreme.” We accept it. That is hearing. And if you interpret, ”Oh, Krishna means this, Kuruksetra means this,” that mean you are spoiling your time. Why this, that? As it is hear as it is
–”SB 1.8.36-LA April 28,1973
How to hear
Devote ourselves a special time to hearing attentively
1)Hearing in a receiving mode– we should not be challenging, not agreeing to something, of course we may have doubts, be submissive in asking questions rather than come in to a challenging attitude
2)Hearing means our heart is there- Have rapt attention, mind should be there.
3)When we hear, we let go of our preconception– We may have heard many things before coming to Krishna consciousness and have some preconception, and may stick to it. So, we have to let go that preconception and understand what Srila Prabupad say, what Krishna says in Bhagavat Git and accept
4)We accept what we hear
5)In the association of devotees
How will we know we are hearing effectively?
We know we are haring effectively, when our contaminated conceptions ate getting cleared, when our actions change, when we take it to the heart what we hear and willing to put it into action. Otherwise it is just a knowledge. Hearing means action or change.
How do we develop an affinity of hearing?
SB 1.2.16 explains Purport says “O twice-born sages, by serving those devotees who are completely freed from all vice, great service is done. By such service, one gains affinity for hearing the messages of Vasudeva”
We can develop the affinity of hearing, by serving the devotees who are engaged in devotional service. When we serve them, we develop that qualities.
What is the difference between Vaidhi Sadhana Bhakti and Raganuga-bhakti?
Sadhana Bhakthi has two parts Vaidhi Sadhana Bhakti and Raganuga-Bhakti. It is actually the inspiration which drives both. In Vaidhi Sadhana Bhakti the inspiration comes from sense of obligation like one feel to follow Gurus instruction , or senior devotees telling them, or fear of guru, we do some services but in Raganuga-Bhakti inspiration comes from natural attraction to devotional services. It does not matter if Guru tells you or senior devotees tells . You have a natural attraction you want to do for Krishna. The inspiration which drives to do our devotional services determines which stage you are in.