BHAKTI VRIKSHA MATERIAL

PRANAM MANTRAS

Pranam Mantra for A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

nama om vishnu-padaya krishna-preshthaya bhu-tale
srimate bhaktivedanta-svamin iti namine

namas te saraswate deve gaura-vani-pracarine
nirvishesha-shunyavadi-pashchatya-desha-tarine

“I offer my respectful obeisances unto His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is very dear to Lord Krishna, having taken shelter at His lotus feet. Our respectful obeisances are unto you, O spiritual master, servant of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami. You are kindly preaching the message of Lord Chaitanya and delivering the Western countries, which are filled with impersonalism and voidism.”

Pranam Mantra for Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His Associates

sri-krishna-chaitanya
prabhu-nityananda
sri-advaita gadadhara
srivasadi-gaura-bhakta-vrinda

“I offer my obeisances to Sri Krishna Chaitanya, Prabhu Nityananda, Sri Advaita, Gadadhara, Srivasa and all others in the line of devotion.”

Hare Krishna Maha-Mantra

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama
Rama Rama, Hare Hare

The words “Hare” (pronounced ha-ray), “Krishna” (pronounced krish-na), and “Rama” (rhymes with “drama”), are Sanskrit words. “Hare” is an address to God’s energy, known as Radha, and “Krishna” is a name of God meaning “He who is attractive to everyone.” “Rama” means “one who gives pleasure and enjoys life.”

When chanted the maha-mantra is a petition to God: “O Krishna, O energy of Krishna, please engage me in Your service.”

SHRADDHAVAN - WEEK 1

The Nectar of the Holy Name

Chanting of the holy names of the Lord is the common platform for the universal religion of mankind in the Kali-yuga:

In this present age quarrels take place even over trifles, and therefore the shastras have recommended for this age a common platform for realization, namely chanting the holy names of the Lord. People can hold meetings to glorify the Lord in their respective languages and with melodious songs, and if such performances are executed in an offenseless manner, it is certain that the participants will gradually attain spiritual perfection without having to undergo more rigorous methods.

At such meetings everyone, the learned and the foolish, the rich and the poor, the Hindus and the Muslims, the Englishmen and the Indians, and the chandalas and the brahmanas, can all hear the transcendental sounds and thus cleanse the dust of material association from the mirror of the heart. To confirm the Lord's mission, all the people of the world will accept the holy name of the Lord as the common platform for the universal religion of mankind.

Srimad Bhagavatam Canto1, Introduction

Passage for discussion

Krishna consciousness is meant to save human society from spiritual death. At present human society is being misled by leaders who are blind, for they do not know the aim and objective of human life, which is self-realization and the re-establishment of our lost relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is the missing point. Krishna consciousness can enlighten human society in this important matter.

According to Vedic civilization, the perfection of life is to realize one's relationship with Krishna or God. In the Bhagavad-gita, which is accepted by all authorities in transcendental science as the basis of all Vedic knowledge, we understand that not only human beings but also all living entities are parts and parcels of God. The parts are meant for serving the whole, just as the legs, hands, fingers, and ears are meant for serving the total body. We living entities, being parts and parcels of God, are duty-bound to serve Him.

Actually our position is that we are always rendering service to someone, either to our family, country, or society. If we have no one to serve, sometimes we keep a pet cat or dog and render service to it. All these factors prove that we are constitutionally meant to render service, yet in spite of serving to the best of our ability, we are not satisfied. Nor is the person to whom we are rendering that service satisfied. On the material platform, everyone is frustrated. The reason for this is that the service being rendered is not properly directed. For example, if we want to render service to a tree, we must water the root. If we pour water on the leaves, branches, and twigs, there is little benefit. If the Supreme Personality of Godhead is served, all other parts and parcels will be automatically satisfied. Consequently all welfare activities as well as service to society, family, and nation are realized by serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

It is the duty of every human being to understand his constitutional position with God and to act accordingly. If this is possible, then our lives become successful. Sometimes, however, we feel challenging and say, "There is no God," or "I am God," or even, "I don't care for God." But in actuality this challenging spirit will not save us. God is there, and we can see Him at every moment. If we refuse to see God in our life, then He will be present before us as cruel death. If we do not choose to see Him in one feature, we will see Him in another. There are different features of the Supreme Personality of Godhead because He is the original root of the entire cosmic manifestation. In one sense, it is not possible for us to escape Him.

Krishna Consciousness is not blind religious fanaticism, but an authorized, scientific approach to the matter of our eternal necessity in relation with the Absolute Personality of Godhead, the Supreme Enjoyer. Krishna Consciousness simply deals with our eternal relationship with Him and the process of discharging our relative duties to Him. Thus, Krishna Consciousness enables us to achieve the highest perfection of life attainable in the present human form of existence.

Srila Prabhupada, The Science of Self Realization

Discovery

1. What really is the aim of life?

2. How does Krsna consciousness help us achieve this goal?


Understanding

1. What is wrong with our materialistic society?

2. What does the Vedic civilization say about the perfection of life?

3. How can we perfectly serve and satisfy everyone in this world? Why is it not possible to do so in any other way? Illustrate with an example/s.

4. Why is it necessary to learn about God?


Application

1. Share about what you are looking for in life.

Krishna Consciousness is the highest gift to human society

Srila Rupa Goswami has given a definition of auspiciousness. He says that actual auspiciousness means welfare activities for all the people of the world. At the present moment groups of people are engaged in welfare activities in terms of society, community or nation. There is even an attempt in the form of the United Nations for world-help activities. But due to the shortcomings of limited national activities, such a general mass welfare program for the whole world is not practically possible.

Krishna Consciousness however, is so nice that it can render the highest benefit to the entire human race. This movement can attract everyone and everyone can feel the result. Therefore, Rupa Goswami and other learned scholars agree that a broad propaganda programme of devotional service all over the world is the highest humanitarian welfare activity.

Nectar of Devotion

SHRADDHAVAN - WEEK 2

The Nectar of the Holy Name

The people in this age are very short-lived and slow in understanding spiritual life. Actually, human life is meant for understanding spiritual values, but because everyone in this age is a shudra, no one is interested. People have forgotten life's real purpose.

The word manda means both slow and bad, and everyone in this age is either bad or slow or a combination of both. People are unfortunate and disturbed by so many things. According to Srimad Bhagvatam, there will eventually be no rain and consequently a scarcity of food. The governments will also levy very heavy taxes. The characteristics of this age predicted by Srimad Bhagvatam are already being experienced to some degree.

Since Kali-yuga is a very miserable age, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is Sri Krishna Himself, advises everyone simply to chant Hare Krishna.

harer näma harer näma
harer nämaiva kevalam
kalau nästy eva nästy eva
nästy eva gatir anyathä
[Cc. Ädi 17.21]

"In this age of Kali there is no alternative, there is no alternative, there is no alternative for spiritual progress than the holy name, the holy name, the holy name of the Lord."

This process is not Caitanya Mahaprabhu's invention, but is advised by the shastra, the Puranas. The process for this Kali-yuga is very simple. One need only chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.

Teachings of Lord Kapila, the Son of Devahuti

Passage for discussion

Two children are born at the same time on the same day. The parents of the first are wealthy and well-educated and have anxiously awaited the arrival of their first-born for years. Their child, a boy, is bright, healthy and attractive, with a future full of promise. Surely destiny has smiled upon him.

The second child enters into an entirely different world. He is born to a mother who was abandoned while pregnant. In her poverty, she feels little enthusiasm to rear her sickly new offspring. The road ahead is fraught with difficulties and hardships and to rise above them will not be easy.

The world is full of disparities like these; blatant inequalities that often provoke questions: How could providence be so unfair? What did George and Mary do to have their son born blind? They are good people. God is so unkind!”

The principles of re-incarnation, however, allow us to view life with a much broader perspective, i.e., from the stand point of eternity. From this point of view, one brief lifetime is seen not as the beginning of our existence but as nothing more than a flash in time and we can understand that an apparently pious person who may be suffering greatly is suffering the effects of impious activities performed in this or previous lives.

With this broader vision of universal justice we can see how each individual soul is alone responsible for its own Karma.

Our actions are compared to seeds. Initially they are performed or planted, and over a course of time they gradually fructify, releasing their resultant reactions.

Such reactions may produce either suffering or enjoyment for the living being, and he may respond by either improving his character or by becoming increasingly animal like.

A criminal chooses to enter prison by willful transgression of law, but another man may be appointed to sit on the Supreme court by dint of his excellence of service.

This is the special benediction of human life- even if one is destined to suffer terribly for impious acts performed in this and previous lives, one can by taking up the process of Krsna consciousness, change his Karma. The soul in a human body stands at the evolutionary mid point. From here the living entity can choose either degradation, or liberation from reincarnation.

If a living being makes some degree of spiritual progress in his present life, then in the next life he is allowed to continue from that point. The Lord tells His disciple Arjuna in Bhagavad-gita, “In this endeavour (Krishna Consciousness) there is no loss or dimunition and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the greatest type of fear (returning in a lower-than-human form in the next life).” The soul may thus develop its inherent spiritual qualities through many lives, until it no longer has to reincarnate in a material body, until it returns to its original home in the spiritual world.

Coming Back, The Science of Reincarnation

Discovery

1. Mention some inequalities we find in life among different people in their enjoyment and suffering.


Understanding

1. Why do even pious people suffer sometimes?

2. Explain why each person is responsible for his own Karma

3. How can we overcome our suffering and bad Karma?

4. What are the advantages of taking up Krishna Consciousness?


Application

1. Have you believed in re –incarnation so far? Why or why not?

2. Do you want to change your Karma? Do you think Krsna consciousness will help you achieve that? Why do you think so?

Preaching Krishna Consciousness is showing real mercy to living entities:

"If a living entity is developed in Krishna Consciousness and is merciful to others, and if his spiritual knowledge of self-realization is perfect, he will immediately attain liberation from the bondage of material existence."

In this verse the word dayä jévesu, meaning mercy to other living entities, indicates that a living entity must be merciful to other living entities if he wishes to make progress in self-realization. This means he must preach this knowledge after perfecting himself and understanding his own position as an eternal servant of Krishna. Preaching this is showing real mercy to living entities. Other types of humanitarian work may be temporarily beneficial for the body, but, because a living entity is spirit soul, ultimately one can show him real mercy only by revealing knowledge of his spiritual existence.

Srimad Bhagvatam 4.29.1b

SHRADDHAVAN - WEEK 3

The Nectar of the Holy Name

Lord Sri Krishna personally came as Lord Chaitanya in order to distribute the process of chanting—the easiest means, in this age, to the highest perfection of life:

Out of many thousands of persons who are in self-knowledge as to what and who they are, only one or two may be actually liberated. And out of many thousands who are liberated, only one or two may understand what and who Krishna is. So understanding Krishna is not such an easy job.

Thus in this age of Kali, an age characterized by ignorance and chaos, liberation is out of the reach of practically everyone. One has to go through the whole ordeal of becoming civilized, then religious, and then one has to perform charities and sacrifices and come to the platform of knowledge, then to the stage of liberation, and finally, after liberation, to the understanding of what Krishna is.... Practically speaking, this process is not very easy in this age of Kali. In Srimad Bhagavatam, a description is given of the people of this age. Their duration of life is said to be very short, they tend to be phlegmatic and slow and to sleep a great deal, and when they're not sleeping, they are busy earning money. At the most they only have two hours a day for spiritual activities, so what is the hope for spiritual understanding? It is also stated that even if one is anxious to make spiritual progress, there are many pseudo-spiritual societies to take advantage of him. People are also characterized in this age as being unfortunate. They have a great deal of difficulty meeting the primary demands of life—eating, defending, mating, and sleeping—necessities which are met even by the animals. Even if people are meeting these necessities in this age, they are always anxious about war, either defending themselves from aggressors or having to go to war themselves. In addition to this, there are always disturbing diseases and economic problems in Kali-yuga. Therefore Lord Sri Krishna considered that in this age it is impossible for people to come to the perfection stage of liberation by following the prescribed rules and regulations.

Thus out of His causeless mercy, Sri Krishna came as Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and distributed the means to the highest perfection of life and spiritual ecstasy by the chanting of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This process of chanting is most practical and it does not depend on whether one is liberated or not or whether one's condition is conducive to spiritual life or not—whoever takes to this process becomes immediately purified. Therefore it is called pavitram (pure). Furthermore, for one who takes to this Krishna Consciousness process, the seeds of latent reactions to his sinful actions are all nullified. Just as a fire turns whatever we put into it to ashes, this process turns to ashes all the sinful reactions of our past lives.

Raja-vidya: The King of Knowledge

Passage for discussion

Krishna Consciousness is not a question of belief, it is a science.

The first step is to know the difference between a living body and a dead body. What is the difference? The difference is that when someone dies, the spirit soul or the living force leaves the body. And, therefore, the body is called “dead.” So there are two things: one is this body; and the other, the living force within the body.

One must first understand that he is a soul, or something other than this body.

For example, as a child grows, he becomes a boy, the boy becomes a young man, the young man becomes an adult, and the adult becomes an old man. Throughout all this time, although his body is changing from a child to an old man, he still feels himself to be the same person, with the same identity. The body is changing but the occupier of the body, i.e. the soul, is remaining the same.

So when your body is finished, annihilated, you are not finished. You get another body, just as you may change your coat and shirt. If you come to see me tomorrow wearing a different shirt and a different coat, does that mean that you are a different person?

No. Similarly, each time you die, you change your bodies but you, the spirit soul within the body, remain the same. This point has to be understood. Then, one can make further progress in the science of Krishna Consciousness.

The spirit soul is invisible to our material eyes. It is atomic in size. After the destruction of the gross body, which is made up of the senses, blood, bone, fat, and so forth, the subtle body of mind, intelligence and ego goes on working. So at the time of death, this subtle body carries the small spirit soul to another gross body.

The process is just like air carrying fragrance. Nobody can see where this rose fragrance is coming from but we know that it is being carried by air. You cannot see how but it is being done. Similarly, the process of transmigration of the soul is very subtle. According to the condition of the mind at the time of death, the minute spirit soul enters into the womb of a particular mother through the semen of a father and then the soul develops a particular type of body given by the mother. It may be a human being; it may be a cat, a dog or anything.

You are eternal. According to your work, you are simply changing bodies. Therefore, you should want to know how to stop this business, how you can remain in your original, spiritual body. This is Krishna Consciousness.

The Science of Self-Realisation, Chapter 1

Discovery

1. What is the difference between a living body and a dead body?


Understanding

1. Explain with an example, how we can understand that we keep changing our bodies, but we are the eternal soul.

2. Explain how the soul transmigrates from one body to the next at death?

3. Why do we get different types of bodies?

4. When can we stop changing our bodies?


Application

1. Do you feel relieved to know that you are an eternal soul? Share your impressions.

The Lord descended as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to deliver the entire world:

Advaita Acharya was always absorbed in the thoughts of how to deliver the fallen souls of the entire world. "The entire world is full of nondevotees," He thought. "How will they be delivered?" Determined to deliver all the fallen souls, Advaita Acharya decided to cause Krishna to descend.

With this vow, He began to offer Ganges water and tulasi leaves to worship the Lord. Similarly, Haridasa Thakura chanted in his cave on the bank of the Ganges with the intention to cause Krishna's descent. Because of the devotional service of these two persons; Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu descended as an incarnation. Thus, He preached the holy name of the Lord and ecstatic love of Krishna to deliver the entire world.

CC Antya 3.223-226

SHRADDHAVAN - WEEK 4

The Nectar of the Holy Name

In this age, Kali-yuga, one cannot execute any process of self-realization or perfection of life other than kirtana. Kirtana is essential in this age.

In all Vedic literatures it is confirmed that one must meditate on the Supreme Absolute Truth, Vishnu, not on anything else. But there are different processes of meditation recommended for different ages. The process of mystic yogic meditation was possible in Satya-yuga, when men lived for many thousands of years. Now people will not believe this, but in a previous age there were people who lived for one hundred thousand years. That age was called Satya-yuga and the meditation of mystic yoga was possible at that time. In that age the great yogi Valmiki Muni meditated for sixty thousand years. So that is a long-term process, which is not possible to execute in this age. If one wishes to conduct a farce, that is another matter. But if one actually wants to practice such meditation, it takes an extremely long time to perfect such.

In the next age, Treta-yuga, the process of realization was to perform the various ritualistic sacrifices recommended in the Vedas.

In the next age, Dvapara-yuga, the process was temple worship.

In this present age, the same result can be achieved by the process of hari-kirtana or glorification of Hari, i.e. Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

The Science of Self-Realisation

Passage for discussion

The transcendental vibration established by the chanting of Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare is the sublime method for reviving our transcendental consciousness.

As living souls, we are all originally Krishna Conscious entities, but due to our association with matter from time immemorial, our consciousness is now adulterated by the material atmosphere.

The material atmosphere, in which we are living, is called maya or illusion. Maya means, “that which is not.” And what is this illusion? The illusion is that we are all trying to be lords of material nature, while actually we are under the grip of her stringent laws. When a servant artificially tries to imitate the all-powerful master, he is said to be in illusion.

We are trying to exploit the resources of material nature, but actually we are becoming more and more entangled in her complexities. Therefore, although we are engaged in a hard struggle to conquer nature, we are ever dependent on her. This illusory struggle against material nature can be stopped at once by revival of our Krishna Consciousness.

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare is the transcendental process for reviving this original, pure consciousness. By chanting this transcendental vibration, we can cleanse away all misgivings within our hearts. The basic principle of all such misgivings is the false consciousness that I am the lord of all I survey.

Krishna Consciousness is not an artificial imposition on the mind. This consciousness is the original, natural energy of the living entity. When we hear this transcendental vibration, this consciousness is revived.

This simplest method of meditation is recommended for this age. By practical experience also, one can perceive that by chanting this maha-mantra, or the Great chanting of deliverance, one can at once feel a transcendental ecstasy coming through from the spiritual stratum.

As such this chanting should be heard from the lips of a pure devotee of the Lord, so that immediate effects can be achieved. As far as possible, chanting from the lips of non-devotees should be avoided. Milk touched by the lips of a serpent has poisonous effects.

The word Hara is a form of addressing the energy of the Lord, and the words Krishna and Rama are forms of addressing the Lord Himself.

The material energy called maya, is also one of the multi-energies of the Lord; and we are also the energy, the marginal energy of the Lord.

The living entities are superior to material energy. When the superior energy is in contact with inferior energy, an incompatible situation arises; but when the superior marginal energy is in contact with the superior energy, Hara, it is established in its happy, normal condition.

These three words, namely, Hara, Krishna and Rama, are the transcendental seeds of the maha-mantra. The chanting is the spiritual call for the Lord and His energy, to give protection to the conditioned soul. This chanting is like the genuine cry of a child for its mother’s presence. Mother Hara helps the devotee achieve the supreme father’s grace and the Lord reveals Himself to a devotee who chants this mantra sincerely.

No other means of spiritual realization is as effective in this age of quarrel and hypocrisy as the chanting of the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

Science of Self-Realisation

Discovery

1. What does the Hare Krishna mantra do to our consciousness?

2. Why is our consciousness adulterated now? What do we think wrongly in this consciousness?


Understanding

1. What happens when we try to exploit material energy?

2. How can we stop this great struggle over material energy?

3. Explain the meaning of the maha-mantra.

4. What makes the living entity happy? Why does the maha-mantra make one happy?

5. Why is it important for us to chant this maha-mantra?


Application

1. Share your realisation of how you feel when you chant the Maha-mantra during the kirtan or japa.

The Lord has inaugurated the Hare Krishna movement for the benefit of human society:

Whenever the principles of religion deteriorate and the principles of irreligion increase, the supreme controller, the Personality of Godhead Sri Hari, appears by His own will.

In the present age, the Supreme Personality of Godhead has appeared as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to inaugurate the Hare Krishna movement. At the present time, in Kali-yuga, people are extremely sinful and bad.... They have no idea of spiritual life and are misusing the benefits of the human form to live like cats and dogs. Under these circumstances Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has inaugurated the Hare Krishna movement, which is not different from Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If one associates with this movement, he directly associates with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. People should take advantage...and, thus, gain relief from all the problems created in this age of Kali.

Srimad Bhagvatam 9.24.56


The Lord sends His representatives to remove the miseries of life:

Material existence is full of undesirables. Things we do not want are forced upon us by some superior energy, and we do not see that these undesirables are under the grip of the three modes of material nature.... undesirable happenings in life cannot be checked by any number of plans. Such miseries can be removed only by the mercy of the Lord, who sends His bona fide representatives to enlighten human beings and thus save them from all calamities.

Srimad Bhagvatam 1.14.11

SHRADDHAVAN - WEEK 5

The Nectar of the Holy Name

The best purpose of Vedic rituals, Vedanta philosophy and Vedic mysticism is served by chanting the holy name:

[Lord Krishna to Arjuna]: All purposes that are served by the small pond can at once be served by the great reservoirs of water. Similarly, all the purposes of the Vedas can be served to one who knows the purpose behind them.

The rituals and sacrifices mentioned in the karma-kanda division of the Vedic literature are to encourage gradual development of self -realization. And the purpose of self-realization is clearly stated in the Fifteenth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita (15.15): the purpose of studying the Vedas is to know Lord Krishna, the primeval cause of everything. So, self-realization means understanding Krishna and one's eternal relationship with Him. The relationship of the living entities with Krishna is also mentioned in the Fifteenth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita. The living entities are parts and parcels of Krishna; therefore, revival of Krishna Consciousness by the individual living entity is the highest perfectional stage of Vedic knowledge. This is confirmed in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.33.7) as follows:

aho bata sva-paco ’to gariyan

yaj-jihvagre vartate nama tubhyam

tepus tapas te juhuvuh sasnur arya

brahmanucur nama grnanti ye te

"O my Lord, a person who is chanting Your holy name, although born of a low family like that of a candala [dog-eater], is situated on the highest platform of self-realization. Such a person must have performed all kinds of penances and sacrifices according to Vedic rituals and studied the Vedic literatures many, many times after taking his bath in all the holy places of pilgrimage. Such a person is considered to be the best of the Aryan family."

So one must be intelligent enough to understand the purpose of the Vedas, without being attached to the rituals only, and must not desire to be elevated to the heavenly kingdoms for a better quality of sense gratification. It is not possible for the common man in this age to follow all the rules and regulations of the Vedic rituals and the injunctions of the Vedantas and the Upanisads. It requires much time, energy, knowledge and resources to execute the purposes of the Vedas. This is hardly possible in this age. The best purpose of Vedic culture is served, however, by chanting the holy name of the Lord, as recommended by Lord Chaitanya, the deliverer of all fallen souls.

Passage for discussion

Primarily, religion means to know God and to love Him. That is religion. Nowadays, because of a lack of training, nobody knows God, what to speak of loving Him.

People are satisfied simply going to the places of worship and praying, “O God, give us our daily bread.”

In the Srimad Bhagavatam, this is called cheating religion, because the aim is not to know and love God but to gain some personal profit.

In other words, if I profess to follow some religion, but I do not know who God is or how to love Him, then I am practicing a cheating religion.

Whoever teaches how to know God and how to love Him - he is a spiritual master. Sometimes bogus men mislead people. “I am God,” they claim, and people who do not know what God is, believe them.

You must be a serious student to understand who God is and how to love Him. Otherwise, you will simply waste your time.

We are presenting the science of how one can know Krishna, the supreme personality of Godhead; by practicing the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. They teach us that our only business is to love God. Our business is not to ask God for our necessities. God gives necessities to everyone - even to one who has no religion. For example, cats and dogs have no religion, yet Krishna supplies them with the necessities of life. So why should we bother Krishna for our daily bread? He is already supplying it. Real religion means to learn how to love Him

First class religion teaches one how to love God without any motive. If I serve God for some profit, that is business - not love. Real love of God is ahaituki apratihata: it cannot be checked by any material cause. It is unconditional. If one actually wants to love God, there is no impediment. One can love Him whether one is poor or rich, young or old, black or white.

There are four classes of men: the karmis, the jnanis, the yogis and the bhaktas - and each achieves a different goal.

The karmis work for some material profit. For example, in the city, many people work hard day and night, and their purpose is to get some money.

A jnani is a person who thinks, “why am I working so hard? The birds, bees, elephants, and other creatures have no profession, yet they are also eating. So why should I unnecessarily work so hard? Rather let me try to solve the problems of life - birth, death, old age and disease.” Jnanis try to become immortal. They think that if they merge into God’s existence, then they will become immune to birth, death, old age and disease.

Yogis try to acquire some mystic power to exhibit a wonderful show. For instance, a yogi can become very small if you put him in a locked room and he can come out through any little space. By showing this kind of magic, the yogi is immediately accepted as a very wonderful man. Of course, modern yogis simply show some gymnastics - they have no real power. But a real yogi has some power, which is not spiritual, but material.

But the bhakta or the devotee doesn’t want anything for himself. He simply wants to serve God out of love, just as a mother serves her child. There is no question of profit in a mother’s service to her child. Out of pure affection and love, she cares for him.

When you come to this stage of loving God, that is perfection. Neither the karmi nor the jnani nor the yogi can know God- only the bhakta can know God. As Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita: bhaktya mam abhijanati: “Only through the process of bhakti can one understand God.” Krishna never says one can understand Him by other processes. No. Only through Bhakti can one understand Krishna. If you are interested in knowing God and loving Him, then you must accept the devotional process. No other process will help you.

Science of Self-Realisation

Discovery

1. What is real religion?

2. Who is a true spiritual master?


Understanding

1. In what different ways are people cheated from following real religion?

2. What is Krishna Consciousness teaching you?

3. Describe who a karmi, jnani, yogi and bhakta is?

4. Why is the bhakti or devotional process the best of all?


Application

1. Share your realisation on what you want from following religion and why you want it.

Spreading Krishna Consciousness is the highest benefit for society:

My dear Arjuna, one who is engaged in My pure devotional service, free from the contaminations of previous activities and from mental speculation, who is friendly to every living entity, certainly comes to Me.

A devotee of Krishna is friendly to everyone. Therefore, it is said here that he has no enemy. How is this? A devotee situated in Krishna Consciousness knows that only devotional service to Krishna can relieve a person from all the problems of life. He has personal experience of this and therefore, he wants to introduce this system, Krishna Consciousness, into human society. There are many examples in the history of devotees of the Lord risking their lives for the spreading of God Consciousness. The favourite example is Lord Jesus Christ. He was crucified by the non-devotees, but He sacrificed His life for spreading God consciousness.... Similarly, in India also there are many examples, such as Thakura Haridasa. Why such risk? Because they wanted to spread Krishna Consciousness and it is difficult. A Krishna Conscious person knows that if a man is suffering, it is due to his forgetfulness of his eternal relationship with Krishna. Therefore, the highest benefit one can render to human society is relieving one's neighbour from all material problems. In such a way, a pure devotee is engaged in the service of the Lord.

Bhagavad Gita 11.55