Bhagavad Gita Chapter 15: Yoga of the Supreme Person: Text 6
na tad bhāsayate sūryo
na śaśāṅko na pāvakaḥ
yad gatvā na nivartante
tad dhāma paramaṁ mama
na — not; tat — that; bhāsayate — illuminates; sūryaḥ — the sun; na — nor; śaśāṅkaḥ — the moon; na — nor; pāvakaḥ — fire, electricity; yat — where; gatvā — going; na — never; nivartante — they come back; tatdhāma — that abode; paramam — supreme; mama — My.
That supreme abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by fire or electricity. Those who reach it never return to this material world.
The fifteenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita is called Purushottama Yoga. It is the culmination of Bhakti practice. In the beginning of this chapter Krishna talks about an upside-down banyan tree. In this material world people are stuck in this tree performing fruitive activities. This is called the material entanglement. Lord Krishna says just like water nourishes a tree this upside-down material tree is nourished by the 3 modes of material nature and we are like a puppet in the hands of Maya Devi. Lord Krishna further says this upside-down tree is a reflection. This means there is freedom on the other side of this entanglement. The real form of tree cannot be perceived in this world like where it begins, where it ends or where the foundation is. So, we are stuck in something that is beyond our comprehension and it is so vast there is no beginning and end. It is like entangling in a spider’s web.
So, how can we get out of this entanglement? It is by developing knowledge and by following a path perfectly. Shrila Prabupada explains by devotional service and complete surrender one can get out of the suffering condition. For this one must give up false prestige, give up all the sense of proprietorship and bad association and then cultivate the knowledge.
In this verse Krishna says there is a Goloka Vrindavan in the Spiritual world and it is very special,” Paramam” , the top most planet of all the planets that exists in the spiritual world. Unlike the material world of ours it does not need the light of sun, moon , nor fire or electricity to be illuminated. “Pavakah” means fire or electricity as both are the same energy. And the special thing about this planet is Krishna says repeatedly ( in BG 8:16) one who reaches there never returns to the material world. It is very convincing. Then Krishna gives details of his abode. But our issue is we don’t have the trust. We have defects and imperfections so we don’t easily accept things easily. We need proof for each and everything.
The Sakshi Gopal story is an example. At Vidyanagara in South India there were once two brahmanaswho decided to make a long tour to see different places of pilgrimage. One of the two brahmanas was an old man, and the other was young. Because the young brahmanaalways rendered service to the older one, the old man was very pleased with him. The older man told the younger, “You have rendered various types of service to me. You have assisted me in traveling to all these places of pilgrimage. Even my own son does not render me such service. By your mercy, I did not become fatigued while on this tour. If I do not show you any respect, I would be ungrateful. Therefore, I promise to give you my daughter in charity.” He made this promise in front of Gopala Deity in Vrindavan, and later lies telling that he never promised like that. The young man had this full faith that Krishna was there when the promise was made. So he goes back to the Deity and requests the Deity to be his witness. The Deity says to him, I can be the witness but I cannot walk there but the young man is so convinced that he says to the Deity if you can talk you can also walk. So, Krishna says to the young Brahmans, you walk ahead and I will follow. The young man was walking forward and he was assured that Krishna is following him by the sounds of his ankle bells. Eventually Krishna becomes the witness and the Older brahman marries his daughter to this young man. This young man had full faith or Shraddha in Krishna. This is the fundamental. Some people have lots of knowledge but if that knowledge does not help in their spiritual elevation then it is useless. Someone may argue that in the spiritual world there is no Sun, no Moon, no electricity how is that possible. It is like someone telling I don’t believe that China exists since I have not been there. Well just by arguing, it cannot be concluded that China does not exist. Another person who has visited China or lived in China can prove that China exists. So same way by faith we believe what Krishna the Supreme Person says about his eternal abode. Krishna is the highest Authority. It has been proved several ways in the scriptures by several exalted personalities. Scriptural references regarding Lord Krishna being Supreme Authority are:
- BG 10 verse 12 and 13
- Brahma-Samhita 5.1
- SB 4.24.28
- CC Adi 5.142
- Sb 10.68.37
Lord Chaitanya MahaPrabhu says except Krishna everyone are his servants that includes the Jivas, Demigod’s, Demons everyone
Another example to show Krishna’s Supreme position is during Mahabharata war both the Kauravas and the Pandavas were trying to solicit everyone who could take their side. Kauravas was trying to solicit Balarama so he could take their side. So Lord Balarama (SB 10.68.37) says what is the value of a throne to Krishna. The masters of various planetary systems accept the dust of his lotus feet on their crowned head. That dust makes the holy places sacred and even Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva, Lakshmi Devi and I myself, who are all oceans of his plenary portion eternally carry that dust. So these are proofs from scriptures but still we remain skeptical.
Shrila Prabupada through his purports from Bhagavad Gita is trying to help us to develop our faith, our consciousness, to give us a clear perspective which is otherwise so elusive in this mundane world. That is why it is said that knowledge is very important. This high-level understanding comes only when one becomes fully Krishna conscious . Seeing everything through this knowledge is like seeing through a special spectacle. When we have a bad eye sight we do not see things properly, even if you try extremely hard still you cannot figure out whether a letter is “B” or a “8”. When you have proper corrective lenses we see things the way they are. This vision is very important for us to function properly. But in this present time all of us have practically bad vision which includes both material as well as spiritual. This is the world of visually impaired people:-Nearsighted, far sighted and blind. Vision disability is the one of the top ten disabilities of the world. So what happens when we have a bad material vision. It causes suffering, loss of productivity, decrease in quality of life. Bad spiritual vision gives a wrong understanding of Absolute truth, it causes one to incur sinful activities which entangles them in this material world life after life in a suffering state.
In Sri Isopanishad Mantra 5 says that Supreme controller is very near as well as far. But with the defects of spiritual vision we do not notice Krishna who is very near to us. Spiritual blinded person is called as atheist. Someone will say I do not have a corrective vision, and I do not have glasses. In this case you should borrow this vision or knowledge from a bonafide Spiritual Master who sees things as the way they are and then surrender un to him and serve him rightfully then he will impart you the spiritual vision. One can receive the benediction of Krishna only by the mercy of Spiritual Master. Without the grace of Spiritual Master one cannot make any advancement. So this corrective vision can be obtained by the mercy of Lord’s devotees. One cannot develop it on their own. This is why the attitude of submissiveness and serving is very important.
We work very hard, carefully invest our money hoping good returns, put our kids to good school hoping them to get good education, for that we buy a house in a good school district, and work hard in office hoping to make a good impression on our boss and make up for a raise in salary, we treat people well hoping we get the same treatment back so we do lots of things materially with hope. What is the hope in spirituality? Chaitanya MahaPrabhu says this Hare Krishna movement is the movement of “HOPE” where tremendous mercy will shower on everyone who will join. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur in his song Jiv Jago Jiv Jago sings
tomāre loite āmi hoinu avatāra
āmi binā bandhu āra ke āche tomāra
I have descended just to save you; other than Myself you have no friend in this world.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is so merciful. He has come to wake us up and to remind about the devotional service we have forgotten. In another verse he sings
bhajibo boliyā ese saḿsāra-bhitare
bhuliyā rohile tumi avidyāra bhare
You have forgotten the way of devotional service and are lost in the world of birth and death.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu gave mercy even to Jagai and Madhai who are involved in the most abominable activities. Our activities are better than them so we still have hope. We have to enthusiastically and sincerely follow Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s instructions.
Usually in our life when we were in schools we would have noticed sometime the back benchers in school do lot of nonsense but that does not mean the teacher is not aware of that. The teachers are aware of them but they did not pay any attention to those back benchers. Sometimes these back benchers will be kicked out of the class and still they do not mind. And no one knows what happened to them in future. So we do not want to be this back bencher of spirituality . We want to be front row and get noticed. As students we raised one hand but as spiritual students we can raise both hands and chant Hare Krishna Maha mantra and when we do that we get the attention, mercy and get quick advancement. When you are the favorite student of the Teacher in case if you fall short in marks for the test he would award you that. Because the Teacher knows that you have worked sincerely , similarly in the endeavor of Krishna consciousness Krishna will award us some grace marks to make us through. BG 9.22 Krishna says
ananyāś cintayanto māṁye janāḥ paryupāsateteṣāṁ nityābhiyuktānāṁyoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham
But those who always worship Me with exclusive devotion, meditating on My transcendental form – to them I carry what they lack, and I preserve what they have.
Remember the grace marks cannot be demanded .They are awarded based on the situation. So there is lot of hope. By coming in contact with Krishna consciousness we have won an opportunity which is worth billions of times than getting a lottery ticket. Lord Krishna says In BG 7.3
kaśhchid yatati siddhaye
yatatām api siddhānāṁ
kaśhchin māṁ vetti tattvataḥ
Amongst thousands of persons, hardly one strives for perfection; and amongst those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows me in truth.
So coming in this Krishna conscious movement which is founded by Shrila Prabupada, we have an opportunity, a door is open. In SB 12.3.51 it is said, “My dear King, although Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults, there is still one good quality about this age: Simply by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, one can become free from material bondage and be promoted to the transcendental kingdom”.
An example is) A lotus flower blooms in the mud. There is no value or importance to the mud. This present age of Kaliyuga is like Mud, everyone is stuck in the mud. Rolling in to the mud to enjoy like elephants, hogs, crocodiles but we are not paying attention to the beautiful lotus, the mercy of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Instead of rolling in the mud we should beg shelter from Chaitanya MahaPrabhu. We have come long way travelling through 8,4 million species of life form taking birth, suffering, dying again and again finally we are in this human form so we could gain knowledge, get guidance, fortunate to have Shrila Prabupada’s books which is the key to the door to help us get out of the darkness and understand the real purpose of our life. It is like how we get some time before preparing for as examination , we are preparing for this exam of life for 8,4 million years with a hope that we will pass. Finally the day of the examination comes that means you got the human form due to some Sukriti, by some mercy to practice devotional service. We have two options either to prepare sincerely to pass the exams or to look out of the window wasting time. If we use this opportunity we will progress and someday achieve perfection.
Lord Krishna is the Supreme Personality of God head and he is inconceivable (BG 8.9) and the soul, the spiritual spark is the part and parcel of Krishna. BG 2: 25 says the soul is invisible, inconceivable and immutable. Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body. Srila Prabhupada writes in a purport the supreme soul is infinite and the atomic soul is infinitesimal but still this tiny minute part of Krishna is very powerful. Material scientists tries to explain everything, always have an opinion about the phenomena , every event, but soul has always remained a puzzle for them .The material scientist have put endless efforts to understand and acknowledge the wisdom of soul within the body but this subject matter always remained a mystery. So the soul is full of knowledge, ever increasing bliss and eternity, immensely powerful from material comparison but we seem to have settled for a bad bargain when it gets stuck in the body. At work place we talk about productivity and we talk about new ways to increase our productivity but what we fail to recognize is this soul stuck within the body is the most unproductive situation. However hard we try, to improve our productivity the 3 modes of material nature take control over us. How a magician closes a person inside the box similarly the material nature wards suffering and the same soul is stuck within the body.
It is said that the soul is full of knowledge and instead of trying to attain that stage we settle ourselves for material knowledge which is merely a fraction of the true knowledge . We make material structures, speculative philosophies ,write books and feel proud of that. But just by making progress in material knowledge is not enough. We must transcend the three modes to attain the true knowledge. Any level of advancement will keep us in this material world. When we identify ourself with the body we forget our attribute to eternity. This body is temporary but we pretend it is going to last forever. Governments are spending millions of dollars; scientist are spending their life time of work researching to invent a formula for immortality of the body. But this is truly wasting your precious time and money because all species of life have to go through 6 stages of life. They are born, they grow, they remain for some time, they reproduce, they dwindle and finally vanish. This is the reality. Both living and non-living objects (example a car) all gets old. So knowing the true purpose by changing our actions is especially important. Only through the mercy of devotees that one is blessed to have this transcendental understanding. It is like falling in to dark well and someone throws a rope to let you out we don’t ask them any questions, we just trust them and follow all the way and come out of the situation. Same way we must follow this descending knowledge that is coming through us from the superior sources by the mercy of Gauranga Maha prabhu and Srila Prabhupad. When we properly do it we will eventually reach Krishna’s abode and based on these verses we will never return to this material world again. This materialistic society creates fake needs for the people so that they remain in the cycle of materialism. But Vaishnavas spend their time to please Krishna .Srila Prabupada explains loving Krishna is like all the limbs of the body serving the stomach or like how watering the roots of the tree the entire tree is getting nourished. When you love Krishna , and Krishna is pleased then everyone is loved. Loving Krishna is endless, it continues life after life or eternal. This can be explained by the story of Durvasa Muni and Draupadi’s cooking pot.
In Mahabharata, Sage Durvasa was known for his anger. In his anger, he would end up cursing the person in front of him. Duryodhana, son of Dhritarashtra, knew about his personality. When the sage offered him a boon, Duryodhana asked Sage Durvasa to visit his cousin Yudhishthira as he is the elder son of the family and that he should also receive an opportunity to serve the sage. Sage Durvasa agreed to his request and made way to Yudhishthira, who was in exile, with his numerous disciples. Duryodhana knew that after Draupadi eats, Pandavas won’t be able to feed anybody else. So, he purposely sent Sage Durvasa after Draupadi had eaten food.
On seeing Sage Durvasa with his disciples, Yudhishthira offered them a seat and asked to freshen up in a nearby river until the food was ready. But he knew that there wasn’t any food for Draupadi to prepare. All the Pandavas with Draupadi were very stressed and prayed to Lord Krishna for some miracle to happen. Lord Krishna stood up for help. He asked Draupadi for any food left in her kitchen for him to eat. Searching all the utensils, Draupadi found only one piece of rice in a pot. But what will one piece of rice do? How is it going to curb the hunger of Sage Durvasa and his numerous disciples? So many questions ran into Draupadi’s mind but she had tremendous trust in Lord Krishna. He ate that one piece of rice and in that moment, a miracle actually happened. The whole universe’s hunger was satisfied in just one piece of rice. Sage Durvasa could feel the satiety without eating food, left him awestruck and he left the place. Krishna always makes sure that his devotees are protected. If Krishna is satisfied then all obligations will be automatically fulfilled so we must focus our endeavors to satisfy Krishna by practicing devotional service.