Meditation on the Lord’s Transcendental Form

Text 34

naikātmatāṁ me spṛhayanti kecin
mat-pāda-sevābhiratā mad-īhāḥ
ye ‘nyonyato bhāgavatāḥ prasajya
sabhājayante mama pauruṣāṇi
[SB 3.25.34]

A pure devotee who is attached to the activities of devotional service and who always engages in the service of My lotus feet never desires to become one with Me. Such a devotee, who is unflinchingly engaged, always glorifies My pastimes and activities. 

There are five kinds of liberation stated in the scriptures. One is to become one with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, or to forsake one’s individuality and merge into the Supreme Spirit. This is called ekātmatām. A devotee never accepts this kind of liberation. The other four liberations are: to be promoted to the same planet as God (Vaikuṇṭha), to associate personally with the Supreme Lord, to achieve the same opulence as the Lord and to attain His same bodily features. A pure devotee, as Kapila Muni will explain, does not aspire for any of the liberations. He especially despises the attempt to become one with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Śrī Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī, a great devotee of Lord Caitanya, said, kaivalyaṁ narakāyate: “The happiness of becoming one with the Supreme Lord, which is the aspiration of the Māyāvādīs, is considered hellish.” That oneness is not for pure devotees. 

There are many so-called devotees who think that in the conditioned state we may worship the Personality of Godhead but that ultimately there is no personality; they say that since the Absolute Truth is impersonal, one can imagine a personal form of the impersonal Absolute Truth for the time being, but as soon as one becomes liberated, the worship stops. That is the theory put forward by Māyāvāda philosophy. Actually the impersonalists do not merge into the existence of the Supreme person but into His personal bodily luster, which is called brahmajyoti. Although that brahmajyoti is not different from His personal body, that sort of oneness (merging into the bodily luster of the Personality of Godhead) is not accepted by a pure devotee because the devotees engage in greater pleasure than merging into His existence. The greatest pleasure is to serve the Lord. Devotees are always thinking about how to serve Him; they are always designing ways and means to serve the Supreme Lord, even in the midst of the greatest material obstacles. 

Māyāvādīs accept the description of the pastimes of the Lord as myths, but actually they are not; they are historical facts. pure devotees accept the narrations of the pastimes of the Lord as Absolute Truth. The words mama pauruṣāṇi (My glorious activities) are significant. Devotees are very much attached to glorifying the activities of the Lord, whereas Māyāvādīs cannot even think of these activities. According to them, the Absolute Truth is impersonal, but without personal existence, how can there be activity? Because impersonalists take the activities mentioned in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Bhagavad-gītā and other Vedic literatures as fictitious stories, they interpret them most mischievously. They have no idea of the Personality of Godhead. They unnecessarily poke their noses into the scripture and interpret it in a deceptive way in order to mislead the innocent public. The activities of Māyāvāda philosophy are very dangerous to the public, and therefore Lord Caitanya warned His disciples never to hear from any Māyāvādī about any scripture. Māyāvādīs will spoil the entire process, and the person hearing them will never be able to come to the path of devotional service to attain the highest perfection. He only may be able to do so after a very long time. 

It is clearly stated by Kapila Muni that bhakti activities are transcendental to mukti. This is called pañcama-puruṣārtha. Generally, people engage in the activities of religion, economic development and sense gratification, and ultimately they work with an idea that they are going to become one with the Supreme Lord (mukti). But bhakti is transcendental to all these activities. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, therefore, begins by stating that all kinds of pretentious religiosity is completely eradicated from the Bhāgavatam. Ritualistic activities for economic development and sense gratification and, after frustration in sense gratification, the desire to become one with the Supreme Lord, are all completely rejected in the Bhāgavatam. The Bhāgavatam is especially meant for the pure devotees, who always engage in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, in the activities of the Lord, and always glorify these transcendental activities. Pure devotees worship the transcendental activities of the Lord in Vṛndāvana, Dvārakā and Mathurā as they are narrated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and other purāṇas. The Māyāvādī philosophers completely reject them as myths, but actually they are great and worshipable subjects and thus are relishable only for devotees. That is the difference between a Māyāvādī and a pure devotee as they view scripture. 

Actually Vedic scripture is kṛṣṇa-kathā, topics about Kṛṣṇa, and kṛṣṇa-kathā is not a subject matter for a debate club. It is meant for the devotees. Nondevotees simply waste their time reading Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and we have often mentioned that so-called scholars, politicians and philosophers simply give misleading commentaries when they try to interpret Bhagavad-gītā. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura used to say that they are like people trying to lick at a bottle of honey that is sealed closed. If one does not know how to taste honey, one begins licking at the bottle, but for one to actually taste the honey, the bottle must be opened, and the key to its opening is the devotee. Therefore it is said: 

satāṁ prasaṅgān mama vīrya-saṁvido
bhavanti hṛt-karṇa-rasāyanāḥ kathāḥ
taj joṣaṇād āśv apavarga-vartmani
śraddhā ratir bhaktir anukramiṣyati

“In the association of pure devotees, discussion of the pastimes and activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is very pleasing and satisfying to the ear and the heart. By cultivating such knowledge one gradually becomes advanced on the path of liberation, and thereafter he is freed, and his attraction becomes fixed. Then real devotion and devotional service begin.” (SB 3.25.25) 

God is eternal, and His instructions and followers are also eternal. In Bhagavad-gītā (4.1) Kṛṣṇa tells Arjuna that millions of years ago He spoke Bhagavad-gītā to the sun-god. Bhagavad-gītā was spoken to Arjuna five thousand years ago, and if we read it today we will still find that it is fresh. Bhagavad-gītā and Kṛṣṇa are never old. Although Kṛṣṇa is the most ancient one, the oldest of all, He always remains like a young boy in His teens. He never appears older than twenty. Kṛṣṇa’s words are absolute, as well as His form, qualities and activities. They are always fresh and new. If they were not, how could the devotees glorify them day after day with greater enthusiasm? The more one glorifies Kṛṣṇa, the more enthusiastic one becomes in glorifying, glorifying, glorifying. This is the meaning of spiritual. In the material world, if we repeat something once, twice, thrice or four times, it finally becomes hackneyed and disgusting. However, this Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra can be chanted twenty-four hours daily, and one will still feel fresh and enthusiastic. It is not a material sound like the sounds we hear on the radio. It is a spiritual sound that comes from the spiritual world. Even in the material world we can release a sound from one place, and it can be heard thousands of miles away. A spiritual sound can be released from many trillions of miles away, and it can be heard, provided that one has the machine to capture it. That machine is bhagavat-premā. Those who have developed love of Godhead can hear it. 

Arjuna was neither a Vedāntist nor a sannyāsī, nor was he particularly advanced in spiritual understanding. However, he heard Bhagavad-gītā because he was a bhakta. Atheistic scholars and politicians cannot understand the transcendental vibration. They can only lick at the honey bottle. Fools and rascals eat and drink everything without restriction, thinking that they are doing so in the name of religion. There are many so-called svāmīs and yogīs who tell their disciples that they can do anything and still advance spiritually, but this is not possible. One has to become a pure brāhmaṇa, control the mind and senses and discuss the Supreme Personality of Godhead among sādhus. This may sound very difficult, but one can become a sat, a saintly person, within a second. If one is eager, one can immediately surrender to Kṛṣṇa. 

When one approaches Kṛṣṇa, one should say, “My dear Kṛṣṇa, I have forgotten You. Now I am fully surrendered unto You. You may kill me as You like or, if You like, You can give me protection.” When Prahlāda was asked by the Supreme Lord what benediction he desired, Prahlāda Mahārāja replied, “My dear Lord, why should I ask for some benediction simply because I have suffered for You? You are supremely powerful, and whatever I get, I get from You. I was born into a family of demons and was inclined toward material enjoyment. I have seen my powerful father, who was feared even by the demigods, annihilated within a second. Why should I ask for anything? Please engage me in the service of Your servant. This is all I want. I do not want anything else.” In this way a devotee never asks for anything material from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The devotees are simply satisfied in glorifying the Lord. This is the way of bhakti-yoga. 

Kṛṣṇa descends to please His devotees and destroy the demons. From the very beginning of Kṛṣṇa’s birth, demons were present. Kaṁsa advised his constables, “As soon as Kṛṣṇa is born, tell me. I shall immediately kill Him.” He was always thinking of Kṛṣṇa in this way, negatively. Similarly, we will find so many so-called religionists whose only purpose is to kill Kṛṣṇa. Somehow or other they try to take Kṛṣṇa out of Bhagavad-gītā. They will comment on Bhagavad-gītā, but in their commentaries there will never be mention of Kṛṣṇa. They will never say that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and that He should be worshiped. This means that they are asuras, demons, although they may present themselves as big scholars. Somehow or other they try to evade kṛṣṇa-bhakti, and their entire propaganda is aimed toward this. 

Text 35

paśyanti te me rucirāṇy amba santaḥ
rūpāṇi divyāni vara-pradāni
sākaṁ vācaṁ spṛhaṇīyāṁ vadanti
[SB 3.25.35]

O My mother, My devotees always see the smiling face of My form, with eyes like the rising morning sun. They like to see My various transcendental forms, which are all benevolent, and they also talk favorably with Me. 

Māyāvādīs and atheists accept the forms of the Deities in the temple of the Lord as idols, but devotees do not worship idols. They directly worship the Personality of Godhead in His arcā incarnation. Arcā refers to the form we can worship in our present condition. Actually in our present state it is not possible to see God in His spiritual form because our material eyes and senses cannot conceive of a spiritual form. We cannot even see the spiritual form of the individual soul. When a man dies we cannot see how the spiritual form leaves the body. That is the defect of our material senses. In order to be seen by our material senses, the Supreme Personality of Godhead accepts a favorable form which is called arcā-vigraha. This arcā-vigraha, sometimes called the arcā incarnation, is not different from Him. Just as the Supreme Personality of Godhead accepts various incarnations, He takes on forms made out of matter—clay, wood, metal, jewels, etc. 

There are many śāstric injunctions which give instructions for carving forms of the Lord. These forms are not material. If God is all-pervading, He is also in the material elements. There is no doubt about it. But the atheists think otherwise. Although they preach that everything is God, when they go to the temple and see the form of the Lord, they deny that He is God. According to their own theory, everything is God. Then why is the Deity not God? Actually, they have no conception of God. The devotees’ vision, however, is different; their vision is smeared with love of God. As soon as they see the Lord in His different forms, the devotees become saturated with love, for they do not find any difference between the Lord and His form in the temple, as do the atheists. The smiling face of the Deity in the temple is beheld by the devotees as transcendental and spiritual, and the decorations on the body of the Lord are very much appreciated by the devotees. It is the duty of the spiritual master to teach his devotees how to decorate the Deity in the temple, how to cleanse the temple and how to worship the Deity. There are different procedures, rules and regulations followed in temples of Viṣṇu, and devotees go there and see the Deity, the vigraha, and spiritually enjoy the form, because all of the Deities are benevolent. The devotees express their minds before the Deity, and in many instances the Deity also gives answers. But one must be a very elevated devotee in order to be able to speak with the Supreme Lord. Sometimes the Lord informs the devotee through dreams. These exchanges between the Deity and the devotee are not understandable by atheists, but actually the devotee enjoys them. 

Clearly, those who have the eyes to see Kṛṣṇa will see Him. When Caitanya Mahāprabhu entered the temple of Jagannātha, He immediately fainted upon seeing the Deity. He said, “Oh, here is My Lord! Here is My Lord!” In order to see, one has to become santaḥ, and one becomes santaḥ by culture. When we develop love of Kṛṣṇa, we will immediately see Kṛṣṇa and faint, saying, “Oh, here is my Lord!” However, those with no faith, those who are always trying to deny Kṛṣṇa, will simply say, “Oh, this is an idol. This is simply a piece of stone.” 

We must be eager to see Kṛṣṇa and talk with Him. He is actually waiting to see whether we are interested in talking with Him. In Bhagavad-gītā (10.10) Śrī Kṛṣṇa says: 

teṣāṁ satata-yuktānāṁ
bhajatāṁ prīti-pūrvakam
dadāmi buddhi-yogaṁ taṁ
yena mām upayānti te

“To those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.” 

If we want to talk to some important man, we must have some qualification. It is not that we can immediately talk to presidents or even to senators just because we want to talk to them. Somehow or other we must comply with certain rules and regulations. Kṛṣṇa is ready to talk to us, and for this purpose He has descended in the arcā-mūrti, the Deity, in order to be seen. We simply have to qualify ourselves to talk with Him. The nondevotees, Māyāvādīs, who are interested in denying Kṛṣṇa, say that God has no eyes, no legs, no hands, no ears and so on. This is indirectly saying that God is blind and deaf and that He cannot do this or that. In this way, they are indirectly insulting God. This is blasphemy. God does not want to hear such nonsense. Therefore it is said in this verse: sākaṁ vācaṁ spṛhaṇīyāṁ vadanti. By saying that Kṛṣṇa is blind, that He has no eyes, no hands, no nothing, we are indirectly saying that Kṛṣṇa does not exist. This is certainly not a favorable way to talk about Kṛṣṇa. If we want to talk about Kṛṣṇa, we must consult the Vedic literatures. Then we can understand how Kṛṣṇa should be worshiped. 

In Brahma-saṁhitā (5.29) it is stated: “Śrī Kṛṣṇa is playing on His flute, and His eyes are as beautiful as the petals of a lotus flower. He wears a peacock feather in His hair, and His form is very beautiful.” The Māyāvādīs say, “Just imagine some form of God.” But God’s form cannot be imagined. God’s form is not imaginary but factual. This factual information we receive from the Vedas. When Kṛṣṇa was present on this earth, He exhibited His form and activities. All of these are divine, not material. Kṛṣṇa’s body is sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha [Bs. 5.1]. It has nothing to do with anything material. He descends as a favor to His devotees, who are always anxious to see Him. His first business is to give pleasure to His devotees, and His second business is to kill the demons, who are always giving the devotees trouble. It is the nature of demons to give devotees trouble, just as in the West, Lord Jesus Christ was crucified because he was preaching God consciousness. Similarly, Hiraṇyakaśipu tried to kill his five-year-old boy Prahlāda Mahārāja because his son was talking about Kṛṣṇa. There were many demons who tried to kill Kṛṣṇa Himself, great demons like Pūtanā, Aghāsura, Bakāsura and Kaṁsa. Nonetheless, Kṛṣṇa destroys them all by His omnipotence. 

Actually everyone in the material world is more or less an asura, an atheist. If one preaches, one has to learn to tolerate the asuras and speak in such a way that they can also become devotees. We should always speak of Kṛṣṇa in a pleasing way; then we will be benefited. Another name for Kṛṣṇa is Uttamaśloka, which indicates that He is worshiped by the best selected words. It is not that we should use any words we choose. There are many prayers in the Vedic scriptures and also in the Bible and Koran. Although the Christians and Muhammadans do not worship the Deity, they offer prayers to the Lord, and that is also bhakti. Arcanaṁ vandanam. 

There are nine different processes for worshiping the Lord, and one may accept one or all of them. We should use very selected words and surrender unto Kṛṣṇa, but we should not say things which do not please Him. We should not claim that God is formless and that He has no eyes, no head or whatever. Actually it is stated in the Vedas that Kṛṣṇa has no hand but that He can accept our offering. This means that He has no material hand. If He actually has no hand, how can He extend His hand millions of miles to accept an offering? Goloka Vṛndāvana is many trillions and trillions of miles away, but Kṛṣṇa can accept whatever we offer. When the Vedas say that God has no hands, it is meant that He has no material hands. His hands are sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha [Bs. 5.1]. If we can understand Kṛṣṇa’s activities, form, qualities and pastimes in this way, we become fit to return home, back to Godhead. 

Text 36

tair darśanīyāvayavair udāra-
hṛtātmano hṛta-prāṇāṁś ca bhaktir
anicchato me gatim aṇvīṁ prayuṅkte
[SB 3.25.36]

Upon seeing the charming forms of the Lord, smiling and attractive, and hearing His very pleasing words, the pure devotee almost loses all other consciousness. His senses are freed from all other engagements, and he becomes absorbed in devotional service. Thus in spite of his unwillingness, he attains liberation without separate endeavor. 

There are three divisions of devotees-first-class, second-class and third-class. Even the third-class devotees are liberated souls. It is explained in this verse that although they do not have knowledge, simply by seeing the beautiful decoration of the Deity in the temple, they are absorbed in thought of Him and lose all other consciousness. By fixing oneself in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, engaging the senses in the service of the Lord, one is imperceptibly liberated. This is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā. Simply by discharging uncontaminated devotional service as prescribed in the scriptures, one becomes equal to Brahman. In Bhagavad-gītā it is said, brahma-bhūyāya kalpate [Bg. 14.26]. This means that the living entity in his original state is Brahman because he is part and parcel of the Supreme Brahman. Because of his forgetfulness of his real nature as an eternal servitor of the Lord, he is overwhelmed and captured by māyā. His forgetfulness of his real constitutional position is māyā. Otherwise he is eternally Brahman. 

When one is trained to become conscious of his position, he understands that he is the servitor of the Lord. “Brahman” refers to a state of self-realization. Even the third-class devotee—who is not advanced in knowledge of the Absolute Truth but who offers obeisances with great devotion, thinks of the Lord, sees the Lord in the temple and brings forth flowers and fruits to offer to the Deity—becomes imperceptibly liberated. Śraddhayānvitāḥ: with great devotion the devotees offer worshipful respects and paraphernalia to the Deity. The Deities of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, Lakṣmī and Nārāyaṇa, and Rāma and Sītā, are very attractive to devotees, so much so that when they see the Deity decorated in the temple, they become fully absorbed in thinking of the Lord. That is liberation. In other words, it is confirmed herein that even a third-class devotee is in the transcendental position, above those who are striving for liberation by speculation or other methods. Even great impersonalists like Śukadeva Gosvāmī and the four Kumāras were attracted by the beauty of the Deities in the temple, by the decorations and by the aroma of tulasī offered to the Lord, and they became devotees. Even though they were in the liberated state, instead of remaining impersonalists they were attracted by the beauty of the Lord and became devotees. 

Here the word vilāsa is very important. Vilāsa refers to the activities or pastimes of the Lord. It is a prescribed duty in temple worship that not only should one visit the temple to see the Deity nicely decorated, but at the same time he should hear the recitation of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Bhagavad-gītā or some similar literature, which is regularly recited in the temple. In Vṛndāvana, in every temple, there is recitation of the śāstras. Even third-class devotees who have no literary knowledge or no time to read Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam or Bhagavad-gītā have the opportunity to hear about the pastimes of the Lord. In this way their minds may remain always absorbed in the thou