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Bhishmadev - Emblem of Sacrifice

Verse Number
SB 1.9.22
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This chapter titled, "The Passing Away of Bhismadev", Chapter 9 in Canto 1 of Srimad Bhagavatam is a very important chapter. As soon as we think about Bhishmadev we have to remember that in his life, beginning of his life, he has sacrificed his own enjoyments for his father's enjoyment. And then again for continuing the dynasty, he sacrificed again and again, so many times. The incident in Mahabharat you know, is worth knowing about Bhishmadev. Bhishmadev was the son of Ganga, Ganges. There is a story that Shantanu the father of Bhishmadev, in his previous life, he was a great king known as Mahabhisha. Because of his penance, formerly the kings were rshi also, sages also. So he had gone to the heavenly planets and he met king Indra at that time. And when he met Indra, Ganges had also gone there and somehow or the other, they had a loving glance at each other. And the demigods knew this and Ganges was cursed to come to the material world and take the human form and marry Shantanu, who was that king in the previous life.

So because she was cursed, she had to take birth as Ganga in the mortal world, mrtyu loka and eventually Shantanu went for hunting and met her on the bank of the river. So again they fell in love and eventually she married. But while marrying Shantanu, Bhishmadev's father, she made one condition that he should never ask her anything, why she is doing or how she is doing. This was the condition. She said, "If you don't follow this condition, the day you don't follow, I will leave." 

The king agreed, he had to agree because he wanted to marry Ganga and he said, "I will not tell you anything. You do whatever you like and I will never object to it." So they stayed very happily and one by one they had 8 sons. And every time the son was born, she will take the son and throw it in the Ganges. The king controlled up to 7 sons. You can see that the king was a powerful king Shantanu, but he was helpless, because every time the son was born, Ganga will take away the son and throw it in the river Ganges. He had to keep quiet, but it was very painful. He was jubilant when the son was born, but soon the son disappeared and he became miserable. But even then he continued because that was the condition. He knew that if he tells her anything, she will quit. He continued like this for 7 sons and the eighth son was Devavrata, Bhishmadev.

So when he was born, again she started to go towards the river and this time, the king could not control himself and asked her, "Are you a demon? What kind of demon you are?" Then she replied that these sons were the eight Vasus who were cursed to be born one after the other and die immediately. So she had to throw them away. Then she added, "This eighth son had to survive as he had to lead a long life in this planet. But since you have broken the condition, So now I must go." The king was very much pained as he did not want to lose Ganga. But she was out of his hands. This is how in our life also fate plays very important part. Fate never tolerates that everything should go alright. That is the quality of fate or bhāgya. bhāgya will never allow you to be cent percent happy. That is bhāgya. It will always add a bitter drop to a very nice cup full of joy. It will always add a bitter thing and when the bitter thing is added, we don't like that. But we don't know the nature of fate. In this material world fate is one of the instrument of Krishna. 

1. Fate cannot be changed: Fate is one of the instruments of Krishna and it is very forceful. The fate of Dasaratha was to die without his son. That was his fate because he had killed Shravan. These stories are very true. They are facts. Dasarath was king. Not only king, but father of the Lord. And Lord can do anything if He wants. He could have increased his lease that till He came back from the forest he remain alive and then in front of Lord Ram he could have died. But no. Fate was that he has to die in the absence of his son as he had killed Shravan. He was cursed by the parents of Shravan that, "As we are dying without our son, you will also die without your son." So you can change anything and everything. But the fate cannot be changed. This is very correct.

And this is how Shantanu also lost Ganga. Just because he uttered one sentence and the condition was broken. And as soon as the condition was broken, she said that, "This son belongs to you. But because he is young, I will take the son with me. I will educate him to become a very nice king and continue your dynasty. And as soon as he becomes 16 years old, by that time, he will complete all his education which is required by the king and then I will hand over the son to you." This is how she promised and she vanished. And the king was all alone in the forest. He had to come back alone. He was very morose. He could not do anything. And in this condition he passed 16 years.

2. Use Lone time in Krishna's service: It is terrible time to pass like this because earlier he was very happy with his wife Ganges. He had to pass 16 years all alone. And lone time if it is not utilized in understanding Krishna, then we become mad, mental. And that is why we find more mad people in these countries. In our country, even now, whatever be the condition, we do arrange for the children to get married so that they are not alone. Either they have parents or they have their own wife or husband, they have their own family, so that loneliness is not there. In these countries, parents don't take care. So children are left on their own and when they are left on their own, they don't know really, because there are different natures. Somebody is in mode of goodness. Some in mode of passion or ignorance. And the children cannot manage to get married themselves. If they get married, the wife may not be up to the standard and again there is a difficulty regarding divorce and everything. This case was completely absent, even in recent times. And even now the parents are very careful to get their children married. So this is how the loneliness could be avoided in our country. But if you are alone, and if you don't have any other useful engagement, then you are completely lost.

In your country, there are big inventors born. You know the railway engine man George Stephenson, he was lonely man. And what to do in loneliness? It was cold and he was experimenting. He was making tea and the tea leaves were jumping and he got the idea from that and he invented the train and engine. This is a product of the loneliness. Because he was alone, he had to make the tea. It should have been very cold at that time. So he wanted to have the tea and as soon as he made the tea, his mind was attracted to the leaf jumping due to the steam. And on that principle he constructed a nice engine and at that time, some small line was constructed in the beginning from York or somewhere to London. And this is how steam trains started and all these inventions they are the products of loneliness.

In lone moments, you can do some creative things and the best creative thing, is to know the Absolute Truth. That is the best creative thing and we will not feel lonely. You just try. Those who are married, those who are with children, I guarantee you that you will not be able to stay alone for even one week. You will be completely mad, unless we are attracted to these things. So what to speak of 16 years, as a king he had to run! For 16 years Shantanu had to be alone and could not do anything really. But he saw that his public, his population should not suffer, his kingdom was very nice. After 16 years, again he went for hunting on the bank of Ganges. He saw a nice young boy. At that time, in his heart he thought, "Oh if my son had been with me now, I would have been very happy." And eventually Ganga came and told him that, "This is your son and he is ready now. And he should stay with you and you see that he becomes the king." And telling this she again vanished. This is how Devavrata then started living with Shantanu. And not only that he was declared as the heir-apparent of the kingdom.

And after that again the fate came. Fate started playing around. In our life so many times, things are going on well and suddenly something happens, something goes wrong and that is how fate plays. And as I told you, fate will not give you anything and everything. From every point of view, you will not be joyful at all in this life and that is material life. In same way the fate was playing in a very cruel way in the life of Bhishma and Shantanu also.

3. Fate is inevitable: It is very difficult to control the fate. Fate is the force which cannot be controlled, which is already there and we have to suffer. That is all. Nothing else. Nothing else. Only thing we can do is to purify our activities and purify our existence. If you want to have good fate or if you want to be free from miserable conditions, then only good activities, very straight-forward activities will help us. Till we are alive, it will help us to have a healthy life and after death, definitely, we will not come back. That is the main thing. But somehow or other till then we have to suffer, because so much fate is waiting for us. So much bhāgya is waiting for us and because it is there, even now, if you have come to Krishna, those things could not be checked. They will come! But it is like that you know, the magicians in India who play with the snakes because the poison teeth is removed. Ours is also the same case. So we are chanting Krishna's names and because we are somehow or the other attracted to Srila Prabhupada's books and to the Lord, and that's why the poison teeth from our miseries is taken out. Otherwise it is horrible, it is horrible misery. 

(Referring to Amogha Drshti Prabhu in the class, Maharaj says) Take the example of Prashant. His mother is not there. It is a miserable condition. Everything has to be managed. Without Lord's association, these children would have been completely mad because they don't know what is happening. Mother is not there to take care. The food is not there in the house. The house is not clean. The clothes are not washed, the pots are not washed. House is not swept. All these things look very small. But when the lady is in the house, she keeps the house very nice. Till the time we don't know that it is going on very nicely. But as soon as she is absent, then we see what she was doing. This is how fate plays very cruelly. And Krishna, with one stone He kills ten birds. By acting in one way, He punishes so many living entities. And we cannot blame Him. He is the cause, but we cannot blame Him. In the same way, this Devavrata was very happy. He was a nice young man, very able man to be a king. But eventually the fate played with him and Shantanu also.

4. Sacrifice of Bhishmadev: Shantanu again went back to the bank of Ganges. He was going there to hunt and then he came across Satyavati, fisherman's daughter. She was raised by fisher-man. He smelled a nice fragrance. She was born out of a fish and she was smelling very bad. But then by the benediction given by Parasara Muni, she smelled very nicely. So when he smelled and he saw her climbing the boat on the bank of the river, he fell in love with her. Then she told that he has to go to her father to ask for her hand. So Shantanu was blind with love. He went and approached the fisher-man and fisher-man said that, "It is alright that you are king and I am very fortunate that my daughter is getting such a nice husband." But again he had one condition that her children should become the king. And now Shantanu had already declared Bhishma to be the heir-apparent. So again Shantanu was in trouble. And this is sense-gratification again. Shantanu should not have been attracted because he had a nice son like Devavrata. Very nice son, so there was no need, because father and son were very nice friends. Son was 16 years old and father-son relationship was going very nicely. But somehow or the other, inorder to cover up his own sense-gratification, he found other ways to express this to Devavrata.

He came back to the palace and wouldn't talk to Devavrat. Devavrat saw that his father was completely changed and wondered what was the trouble with him. He asked his father, "What is the trouble with you? You are not eating properly. You are not staying alright." He wouldn't tell anything and then from his charioteer Devavrat knew that father is in love with that girl. He asked his father again and father then opened his mouth. In material world it is always the case that if somebody is suffering from head-ache, he will tell you that "I am suffering from stomach-ache." He will never tell you the correct thing.(laughter) This is nature of the material existence. Every step we want to tell lies, without any reason.(laughter) This was the king's position also. So instead of telling him that he has fallen in love with Satyavati, he said, "You are the only son for me and a great archer. So sometime, if you die, then what will happen to our dynasty?" Devavrat was very clever to read inbetween the lines. He saw that this is not the case, but the father wants to get married. But then Devavrat was very generous. The young boy sacrificed his own marriage for the sake of his father. Who will do it? Except Vedic culture, where can we find this behaviour? 

5. Sense-gratification drags us down: If there had been a father like Shantanu here, then the son would have said, "Mind your business. You go to hell. I will marry." (laughter) If father tells the son, "Please don't marry. You sacrifice your marriage for my marriage", the son will kill the father. This is the truth. But these Vedic values in our life (son sacrificing for the sake of father), they do carry weight. They do carry weight. Because these are not very normal things. Normal thing is that son will be married and become king and father will remain without marriage. This was normal thing. But sense gratification is very powerful that we are not ashamed to tell our son also or to neglect our son's life also. To that extent, we are carried away by the sense-gratification. Senses are so very powerful. In Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna says nicely in verse 2.67:

indriyāṇāṁ hi caratāṁ yan mano ’nuvidhīyate
tad asya harati prajñāṁ vāyur nāvam ivāmbhasi

As a strong wind sweeps away a boat on the water, even one of the roaming senses on which the mind focuses can carry away a man's intelligence.'indriyāṇāṁ' - out of all the senses, 'yan' means 'only one', and caratāṁ - mano ’nuvidhīyate, as soon as you ponder over that sense, then that sense alone carries you away as the wind carries away the boat. This is how unknowingly we are carried away like the boat. And this was the case of Shantanu. Just he wanted to marry and his whole mind was fully engrossed with marriage. There was no room for Krishna. The sense-gratificatory activities take a grip on our mind and once they take a grip, then what happens is mentioned in third chapter of Bhagavad Gita, verse 3.40. 'indriyāṇi mano buddhir asyādhiṣṭhānam ucyate'. indriyāṇi - 'all our senses'. adhiṣṭhānam - 'the foundation'. Foundation is mana and buddhi, mind and intelligence. When these indriyās are powerful, they take a grip on your intelligence and mind and as soon as your intelligence and mind are captured by the senses, you will be driven unknowingly to that direction and you will not even know that you are being driven away. It is so very horrible thing and then we don't see with whom we are marrying, why we are marrying and what will be the consequences. We will be completely blind to that. indriyāṇāṁ hi caratāṁ yan mano ’nuvidhīyate. etair vimohayaty eṣa jñānam āvṛtya dehinamvimohayaty - 'it will delude you'. jñānam āvṛtya - 'it will cover your knowledge.' Then you lose everything. You lose your common sense. You lose your life, you lose everything.

6. Way to Overcome Sense-gratificationThe only way you can save yourself from falling prey to sense-gratification is by coming to the Lord. But at that time Shantanu did not have time to think about the Lord. Such a great person, king of the whole planet and he was just carried away by one idea - "Satyavati". Such a horrible thing. It is very difficult. It is very nicely said that

viśvāmitra pārāśayo prabhṛtayo vātāmbu parṇāśanaḥ
te'pi strī mukha paṅkaja sulalita māyā mohaṁ gataḥ
śālyānnaṁ sahitaṁ payodadhighṛtam ye bhuṅjate mānavāḥ
eṣām indriya nigraho yadi bhavet vindhyā calet sāgare

The great sages starting from Vishwamitra to Parashara were subsisting only by eating air, water and leaves. Even they become bewildered just by seeing the gentle and beautiful lotus like face of women. Then what to speak to human beings who consume well cooked rice with rich milk, thick yogurt and pure ghee? If these human beings can control their senses, then the Vindhya mountains will float on the ocean.

Vishwamitra, Parashraya are such highly elevated persons that they were not eating food. vātāmbu parṇāśanaḥ - They were just eating only air and water. vātā means air. Such elevated living entities - strī mukha paṅkaja - just seeing the face of the stri, woman, māyā mohaṁ gataḥ - fell down. But you people are nicely eating rice cooked with milk, yogurt and ghee and then say indriya nigraho yadi bhavet - "I have have succeeded in controlling the senses". This is like vindhyā calet sāgare - In the ocean if you throw Vindyacal mountain, will it float? I am telling you, "hey it is floating". It cannot float. Such a difficult thing. So if somebody says that indriya nigraho yadi bhavet, it is completely false. It is such a difficult thing to do it, to control the senses. Only Haridas Thakur could do it, because he was fully engrossed in chanting, fully engrossed in chanting. If you take the help of sincerely chanting the Mahamantra, then you will be able to control. And the culture behind you, that is very important. The whole culture, Vedic culture, if you can cultivate - that is what Srila Prabhupada wanted us to do. He had started the ball rolling. And now if we are stopping the ball, we will glide down. If we continue to roll it in his way, then we are safe. This is how even the great king like Shantanu could not control.

7. Bhishmadev's vows: Since Shantanu could not control his senses, the whole current of history was completely diverted. Otherwise it would have been very nice. This Devavrata would have been married and he would have had nice children and the same dynasty would have continued. And because of this Shantanu's folly, the whole thing was completely disturbed. The whole Mahabharat stands on this folly. You do one thing wrong and you are creating Mahabharat. That we don't know and we do wrong just like that, like play thing. And as soon as you do something wrong, then Mahabharat has to follow

And this is the thing to be learnt from Bhishmadev's story. Somehow or the other he was highly elevated person. But highly elevated persons can sacrifice and he did it for the sake of his father. And this was again a noble quality. Otherwise other sons might have told, "Let it go. You need not get married now". This is how our culture stands on these values and these are the values which we should take from Mahabharat, Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. Otherwise if you don't touch these values, just like animals we have come and like animals we go. There is no difference then. Even dog is better. Because dog at least stays and passes his life according to the dictates of the Lord. He doesn't visit pubs. He doesn't like. If you offer him a glass of beer, he just goes away. He won't touch it. But we degrade ourselves more than that if we ignore these values. These are the few lessons which we should learn and discuss from Mahabharat and Bhishmadev.

And then the whole thing followed. Bhishma had to take the vow. When he went to the fisherman, the fisherman said, "My daughter's sons only should become the king." So Bhishmadev agreed. "Alright, I will not claim the throne. Your grand-children will have the throne." And again the fisherman did not leave. The fisherman was a real solicitor.(laughter) Solicitors are all fallen from the sky. They have lot of brains.(laughter) So the fisherman said, "If you marry and if you have children, then what guarantee that the children will not claim the throne?" So again Bhishma had to think. "Now what is to be done?" The fishermand continued, "Merely disowning the throne, is not useful. You have disowned. Regarding you there is no trouble. But what is the guarantee that children will disown, will not claim it?" So then there was no other go and then Devavrata had to say that he will remain brahmacari for the whole of his lifetime. And then the fisherman was very satisfied. After he ate away the whole life of Bhishmadev, the fisherman was satisfied. This is how Bhishmadev had to take the vows as otherwise his father was morose.

8. Commitment of Bhishmadev: In order to please his father, Bhishmadev sacrificed his life. And this sacrifice is very difficult. Very difficult. And you do anything for others, you have to sacrifice, you have to sacrifice, yajna. Yajna that are just directed to the good of other people, then you are satisfied. Otherwise yajnas can be done for otherwise also. But that is not recommended in our shastras. For good we can do, for bad things we should shun. And then only our life may become pure during this lifetime. If not next, next or next life. Atleast we are on the path, so atleast we should try.

So after this sacrifice, the fisherman's daughter, Satyavati accompanied Bhishmadev. She was brought to the palace by Bhishmadev. And then she was offered to Shantanu and he was very pleased. And then when he knew about Bhishmadev's sacrifice, he was feeling the pain. But it was too late. Everything was completely over. And Shantanu was satisfied anyway. And then, again the fate started. All the while fate is playing. Fate never stops. Then Shantanu had two sons. Vicitravirya and Citrangada. Citrangada was a very nice fighter. So he was invited for fight by the demigods and he was killed eventually in his youth.

So only Vicitravirya was left, he was to be married, when he was of the age. But he was not very clever, not very strong. So Bhishmadev had to arrange his marriage. The king of Kashi, had the practice for generations giving the daughter to Kuru dynasty. But at that time, he was going against it. So Bhishma was upset. So he thought that how can Kashiraja's daughters go to somebody else? Kashiraja had arranged for the marriage competition, svayamvara. And when Bhishmadev went there, he brought all the three daughters, Amba, Ambika, Ambalika. So in this also Bhishma committed a mistake. And see how these mistakes were committed and all the horrible results were awaiting. This is the intricacy of Bhishmadev's life. As soon as we hear the name of Bhishma, all these things we have to remember, so that we know what character we are reading about. These are the different things which has moulded his life to this end.

When Bhishmadev got all the three daughters of Kashiraja after fighting with the other kings, he brought them home and offered them to Vicitravirya. And then Amba, the first daughter said, "Before you took us, I had already decided to marry king of Salva." Bhishma had fought violently with all the kings. Everyone was killed, but Salva was left alive. So she says that, "Now you do whatever you like." Bhishma said, "Why did you not tell me before? I would have left you go." And then Bhishma said, "Now I am allowing you to go." When she went to the king, the king said, "I won't accept you, because you are won by Bhishmadev. So it was the rule of kshatriyas, that whoever wins the daughter, she has to marry him. Again there was trouble for Bhishma. She came back to Bhishma. She said, "You are ruining my life. You have to marry me because you won me in the fight." But Bhishma could not do that because his oath was like that. So he said, "I can't marry." She waited and waited for 6 to 7 years and eventually Bhishma had to tell her that he cannot marry her and that she has to manage her own life. She couldn't do that.

She got upset and when she was upset, she started tapasya. There was no psychiatrist at that time. (laughter) Otherwise in our times, we go to psychiatrist. But in those days, there were no psychiatrists. The whole population was very nicely directed to do tapa, austerities. And she performed great austerities in the forest and she could not understand why Bhishma should deny her. When it was clear that Bhishma was not going to marry her, she wanted to take revenge on Bhishmadev. With that revengeful idea, she started doing different penances. She tried to please the son of Lord Shiva, then Shiva Himself and she got the benediction. Eventually, Lord Shiva was able to give her a nice benediction, "You will be able to kill Bhishmadev yourself in the next birth. That time first you will be born as a daughter and later you will become a man and you will be named as Shikhandi. Then you will be able to kill Bhishma." So his death was created by his own activities and this we don't know. In the material world, while performing the activities, we don't have the dream that we are inviting our own death, by the activities which are against the instruction of Lord. We should be very clear 

yaḥ śāstra-vidhim utsṛjya vartate kāma-kārataḥ
na sa siddhim avāpnoti na sukhaṁ na parāṁ gatim

He who discards scriptural injunctions and acts according to his own whims attains neither perfection, nor happiness, nor the supreme destination.

As soon as you go against the shastra vidhi, instructions of shastras, you are inviting your own end. This we don't know. And eventually Bhishma had to die at the hands of Sikhandi and this was all because there was a slight mistake of bringing Amba who had already decided to marry King Salva. Then next two daughters were again married to Vicitravirya. Ambika and Ambalika were married to Vicitravirya. In the end Vicitravirya suffered from serious disease like cancer and because of that he died young. So again fate was playing a cruel game. He died without any children. Now how to continue the Kuru dynasty? It has come to a halt again. So again Satyavati requested Bhishmadev that he should help in this condition. Bhishmadev did not agree. Somehow or the other Vyasadev was invited. He was the son of Parasara through Satyavati, (before she was married to Maharaj Shantanu) came to her help. This is how Kuru dynasty continued. And then Bhishmadev was there who looked after and in the end there was Kurukshetra war and when he was in the death-bed, that time we have this chapter wherein we have his instructions and last wishes. In this verse 1.9.24, he very nicely describes the appearance of Krishna in front of Him and he begs Him that I should remember you always till I die. This is perfection. Bhagavad Gita (verse 8.6) also says,

yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ tyajaty ante kalevaram
taṁ tam evaiti kaunteya sadā tad-bhāva-bhāvitaḥ

Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kunti, that state he will attain without fail.

That verse is connected to the whole chapter and I request you to study this whole chapter. These are few things we should remember and try to purify our life always. Ignore all other dirty things and become pure like gold. 24 carat gold, nothing can touch. Nothing can touch. We should not be contaminated in any way. Try to elevate yourself and please start as soon as possible. Other activities will go on. All other activities will go on. They will never stop. Somehow or the other we will get some prasadam to eat, clothing to put. But the spiritual things you will not get unless you cultivate it. Endeavor is required. Endeavors in material things could be attained by the mercy of the Lord and this is true for spiritual things also

Devotee 1: Maharaj, you said that we cannot change our fate even after coming to Krishna consciousness. So first question is we have heard that when we come to devotional service, Krishna takes away our sins. So what does it mean? And secondly even if we are chanting Hare Krishna, aren't we not eradicating our sins? We might have done some crimes in our pasts like go-hatya etc. But now we have taken to chanting and devotional service. So do we still need to go to patala-loka for the sins committed in the past? Essence of question is do we still need to suffer, even though we have taken to the path of Krishna consciousness? Can't we change the fate?

Maharaj: You know for Pandavas, the Lord was with them. Even then they had to suffer. It is not the question of remembering. Lord was just in front of them. They were always seeing Him day and night. But even then, their fate was not changed. Do you follow this point? So they did not worry about the difficulties. They knew that Lord was with them. So they were somehow or the other saved in the laksha-graha, house of lac. Their house was burnt. How can they be saved? Somehow or the other, they were saved. You know that. This is how the difficulties are bound to come. The fate is going to work. That flow cannot be changed. It will come. But if you are with Krishna, then that sting will go away. The sting of miseries will go away.

Devotee: Why does not Krishna take away the whole misery altogether instead of only the sting?

Maharaj: He doesn't do it. Take Dasarath for example. Lord could have increased the lease of life for His father. He did not do even for His father. Then who are we? So fate is going to come. Fate or bhāgya is our creation. We have created the fate. In English it is very nicely said, 'Man is the architect of his own future." So we are the architect of our own future. We have committed some sins and they are bound to take a toll of our life. That is bound to come. But only thing is if you are protected by the Lord, you will not feel it. If you are travelling with your parents in a car, and something goes wrong with the car, then parents worry about the car. And you play on the road. Your car is also broken and you are also not going ahead. But you don't worry there. Parents are there to worry. If you are not protected by the parents and if something goes wrong on the way in the car, then you have to find out the solution. You have to spend money. But because you are protected by the parents, they are doing everything and you are playing. No doubt you are suffering but you are playing. This is how Krishna is our protector and if you take help of the protector, then you will be free in the miseries also. Your fate cannot be changed. Car broken means car is broken. That's all. You cannot tell that, "I am protected by my parents and so I can travel." No. You cannot go. You are also in the broken car. But even while not going ahead, you are quite protected there. This is how we are protected by the Lord and if we are protected by the Lord, we don't feel it. No doubt, fate is working on us. But we don't feel it.

Devotee 1: Maharaj, does it mean that if we have done some wrong thing in the past life or previous years, take go-hatya for example, even though now we are Vaishnavas and have taken to Krishna consciousness, does the cow-slaughter done in the past still have a effect on us?

Maharaj: It does. It does affect.

Devotee 2: Then why we say in tulsi pooja - 'yāni kāni ca pa pāni' - if you do puja to tulsi and circumambulate her, then all the sins that we have committed are washed away, even the sin of killing a brahmana. It is also said that even if we observe ekadasi fast, the sins are washed away.

MaharajThe sins are washed away. But the difficulties will not go away. There is a difference between the two. I(Maharj says emphatically) t will come. It will come. You have to understand this. The difficulties are bound to come. Whatever we have sown, it is going to grow. Nobody can stop it. Only thing is that the misery will be less. That is the point to be understood. We have to suffer. If we do (anything wrong), we have to suffer. If anyone is leading a sinful life and as a result is suffering from disease or some problem in their life, after taking to Krishna consciousness, they might have improved their health or they might have improved in their life, but death is there. The effect (of previous karmas) cannot be repaired. Whatever activities they have done, it cannot be changed to 'not done'. But it has to be suffered.

Devotee 1: So does it mean that it cannot be mitigated?

Maharaj: Now I will give you your example. How can it be mitigated? Your mother is dead. That was your bhāgya. You have come to Krishna. But you cannot ask Krishna to bring your mother back. No. You can't do it. However hard you try, she will not be replaced. Why? It is your bhāgya. So bhāgya is already there. But you are safe and protected by the Lord and that is why, you don't feel it. You have taken (accepted) it. That is the way. It can never be undone. Do you follow my point? 

Devotee 1: I know 'that' cannot be undone. But..

Maharaj: No, if that cannot be undone, nothing can be undone.

Devotee 1: If I kill a cow, or somebody or something, do I have to suffer?

Maharaj: You have to, you have to. You don't understand the point. You don't have to suffer. It will come but there will no suffering. Without mother you are not suffering. Now you are very happy. No doubt there is no mother and you cannot have the mother back. But you are not suffering. This difference you understand? The same way in the future also, difficulties will come but you will not be suffering. 

Devotee: Maharaj, I know that difficulties would come in life. But I am talking about topics like punya in Bhagavatam which says that there will be specific reactions for specific sins. Say if in the past life, I had killed some person, will that person kill me now, even if I give my life in Krishna's service now?

Maharaj: That is very correct. Our life may be given to Krishna now, so that in future, you may not have such difficulties. But the arrows which we have already shot, they have gone through our hands. We cannot control it now. You could have thought before the arrow was shot. Now once the arrow is shot, you should wait for the consequences.

Devotee: That means devotees who have given their whole life to Krishna ever since their childhood, still will suffer for the past sinful life?

Maharaj: I don't know but they must. You don't understand the point. You should understand the point.  I gave you the example of Pandavas. Their destiny was to suffer and I gave you the example of laksha graha - They were burnt alive, but they were saved. But Krishna did not stop the burning of the house. He did not do it. Krishna Himself was present there.  It was not His name or devotion. He Himself was there. Within a second, He could have just stopped the laksha-graha. He could have drank the whole fire. But He didn't do it. Why? Because it was their fate. So that fate has to come. The only thing He did was that they should not suffer. This is the meaning of that. You may move around Tulsi, you may come to the temple and chant. Then you are completely safe. You are misery-proof. But then miseries are bound to come.

Devotee: Does this mean that in this life-span, if I do (behave) anything bad, am I creating the destiny for my next left time? I have already kept it ready? 

Maharaj: That is very correct. If you have robbed the bank in the past, and now you get arrested, you will be punished. Now that you have taken up devotional service, then even in the jail, you will sit and study Bhagavad Gita and that will make you misery-proof. That misery will not affect you (Iaughter). 

Devotee 1: How does Lord define death? Why do some people die early and some die late? How is it controlled? What is control? How does He decide who dies first?

Maharaj: It is a very fine system. More fine than your computer system. You might store so much data in your computers and link them. If you code the data retrieval in a particular format from one computer to another, then when you hit the keys, relevant data comes out. That way it is very fine tuned. Do you understand? And Krishna's transcendental computer is far far more fine than the computers in the material world. It does not even require any keys or buttons. His computers work without anything. We don't have any buttons in our head, even then we can speak Gujarati, English etc. We have got everything in our head, but we forget Krishna. All this is material. If our brain which is like a computer in the material world is so fine, then imagine how fine Krishna's transcendental computer is. It is mentioned in Shvetasvatara Upanishad 6.8

parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate svābhāvikī jñāna-bala-kriyā ca

The Supreme Lord has multi-potencies, which act so perfectly that all consciousness, strength and activity are being directed solely by His will.

para means Krishna and shakti means energies. vividhaiva means 'so many' or 'multifarious'. He has multifarious energies. svābhāvikī - They work in a sequence. jñāna-bala-kriyā ca - They supply all the information to the Lord. For example, night can send information. So night is His energy. If night sees this group has got together to remember the Lord then it will send that information to the Lord. This means that night also is His energy. The moon is also his energy, it would also send information to the Lord that this group is chanting His names, or this person is drinking or going to cinema. We think that no one is watching. This is svabhāviki jnāna bala kriyā ca. For that reason God fearing persons wouldn't do anything wrong, as they know if they do anything wrong they could be caught. If one is not God fearing, they will keep on doing wrong. This is how bhāgya is getting written.

Devotee 2: Is it like the example of two birds living in a tree, one bird is trying to enjoy and other bird is watching over it. The bird trying to enjoy is the soul, living entity and the other one who is witnessing it is the Super-soul.

Maharaj: Yes, you are right.

Devotee: In the Garuda-purana they say a lot about the soul after death. Is it true?

Maharaj: What is said there?

Devotee: After death the soul goes to a different loka, afterwards it goes to Pitru Loka, then their body become as small as a thumb and if the relatives cry for that soul then that soul really suffers. The soul is made to drink something extremely hot and really suffers. There is a lot that has been explained in the Garuda purana.

Maharaj: There is lot of information in the Garuda purana. However I can tell you that there is only one Srimad Bhagvatam and in that it clearly states if we take Krishna's names then there is no suffering for that soul. In a family, if there is only one person, who is a devotee then he can liberate the entire family lineage. So these information mentioned in Garuda Purana are meant for people who are gross materialists. Whoever has a birth in India, they are devoted from the beginning. Over there men and women are very pure. You were telling me other day about how in your childhood, even if your dad gets angry, your mom would still ask him about having prasadam, even if he would go away. That is Vedic culture. But in places where there is no touch of Vedic culture, he would be told to mind his business and go to restaurant. That's the difference. Even if only one person in the family remains silent during quarrels, then it has Godly effect. That is why our Vedic culture is praise worthy.

Devotee: You said if any one person in the family, be it male or female is a devotee, then they can liberate the whole family?

Maharaj: Yes. It is enough, enough.

Devotee: So that one person could be a boy or a girl?  For example as a daughter, if I become a devotee and perform sincere devotional service, then I can help in my dad's liberation?

Maharaj: What can I say? A single sincere devotee can liberate up to 21 generations backward and forward.

Devotee: Should the devotee be a boy or girl?

Maharaj: In the spiritual concepts we are all souls. There is nothing like boy or girl. This is just the body. So if one becomes a devotee then, he becomes liberated and liberates 21 generations more. And if the next generation also takes to devotional service, then he/she liberates 21 more generations. It does not stop with that. So like this the chain goes on. It is Lord's inconceivable mercy. Just imagine how much is His causeless mercy?

Devotee 1: So if one becomes devotee he becomes liberated. What does that mean. Does it mean he goes to Goloka Vrindavan ? 

Maharaj: Yes. Vrindavan.

Devotee 1: So Maharaj,  I'll tell my brother to become a devotee and I'll carry on with my sins.

Maharaj:  Yes you can do that. (laughter) But you will have to suffer for it. Because you are deliberately doing wrong. You are a crook. (loud laughter)

Devotee 1: Please forgive me Maharaj.

Devotee 2: Maharaj, when you say that even if there is one pure devotee, then all 21 generation gets liberated, what kind of liberation is that? Is it going back to Krishna? How can the whole generation go back to Krishna?

Maharaj:  Because you are going back to Krishna. It is like how when you are going to take up service in some diplomatic field somewhere, then you get the ticket, your wife gets the ticket. Children get the ticket. They don't work. You only work. But because they are related to you, they are given the passage. They don't have to do anything. You have passed the examination. You have passed the interview. You have taken the job. Wife has done nothing. But because she is your wife, she gets (the ticket).

Devotee 2: So if an individual goes to Goloka Vrindavan, then does his family also get the same liberation?

Maharaj: Same liberation. You go to another country to work as a diplomat in an Embassy in Adis Ababa or somewhere, your wife also goes there. If you go to South Africa, your wife also goes to South Africa. It is not that your wife goes to America and you go to South Africa.

Devotee 2: Does this apply for liberation also Maharaj?

Maharaj: It is. It is. You are answering your own question. It is not lifetimes. You do (devotional service), and if you go to Goloka Vrindavan, then all seven generations will come to Goloka Vrindavan. If you go to hell, then all seven generations, will go to hell. This is how wherever you go, without performing anything, the rest of generation can go. Do you understand my point? If you are selected as an ambassador of South Africa, means the whole family gets the passage. They are not ambassadors. They haven't passed any examination. But they travel with you.

Devotee 2: But this is material example. How to relate this to spiritual world?

Maharaj: This material example is at gross level. Spiritual things are much more finer than this. This material example is just to give you an idea that your wife goes not as an ambassador, but your wife goes as your wife. Because she is your wife, she is given the same passage. She travels in the same plane with you as she is related to you. Similarly, those who are related to you, because of your devotional service, they also accompany you in the service of Krishna and they will be trained accordingly without any hesitation, because they are related to you. And it is not just that, as I told them - your seven generations, previous species 7 generations and previous to previous species seven generations (all are liberated). And again those who are liberated, again their chain of liberation will go on. It is unlimited. And that is why to become a devotee is really a very great thing. Just imagine how much dayālu Krishna is! He is very very merciful.

Devotee: One thing that comes to my mind is...

Maharaj:  (Interrupting) Your mind has no value. 

Devotee: Maharaj, Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita that those who worship the forefathers, they go to the planet of the forefathers. So when you say that previous generation is liberated, what will happen to those who are in the planet of forefathers.

Maharaj: Wherever they are, Krishna knows. Do you follow me? You don't know. I don't know. But Krishna knows wherever your forefathers are there. (So when you do sincere devotional service), then He will immediately pick them up from wherever they are and send them to Goloka Vrindavan. He will do it. Be sure about it. And this cannot be proved. This cannot be mentally adjusted. Because our mind is material. And so these things cannot be mentally adjusted. These (things) we have to just agree.

Devotee 1: Maharaj, relating to the same question wherein you said, when I go, my wife and everyone else can go. But say for example if my wife or son has done some crime and say if they are in prison, then as per what we discussed earlier, their fate cannot be changed. They have to suffer for their sins. How can they come to Vrindavan with me, without suffering for their punishment.

Maharaj: (speaking in a grave and firm voice) That you don't have to worry. (If) Krishna says, we have to agree. It is up to Krishna. It is up to Krishna as to how to nullify their sins and take them to Goloka Vrindavana.

Devotee 1: You just said Maharaj that they can't be nullified.

Maharaj: That is the rule (that we have to suffer for the sins we commit). But Krishna is the Supreme Father.

Devotee 1: But then His rules have no meaning. 

Maharaj: No, no, no. He has no rules and He is completely independent. The rules are for us. 

Devotee 1: So Maharaj you mean to say that He can change the rules?

Maharaj: He (Krishna) can do anything. Just like how in a prison, prison-officer can do anything, prisoner cannot do anything. That is the difference between prisoner and prison officer. Prison officer is the authority to make changes here and there. But prisoner cannot demand the changes. This is the way it goes. These doubts are there, because we are doubting the capacity of the Lord. I read somewhere today, that the root cause of our misunderstandings and all these questions, they lie in the faithlessness of the Lord.

Devotee 2: Maharaj Prabhupada gave an example in this connection. If someone has committed a murder and is about to be hanged, in the prison-house sometimes the king passes by and if the king decide to release him, he can release him without any question.

Maharaj: Yes.

Devotee 1: Maharaj, let me answer one question to him. You know how good the Lord is? Even though people are killing and eating meat, in spite of all that the Lord is giving everybody the same amount of facilities, food and everything. So you see how merciful the Lord is? So, to please you, when you go to Goloka Vrindavan after your hard devotional service, like Prabhupada, to please you, He liberates the whole generation. To please you, to make you happy. Ok Prashant, you have done a great job, and I want to please all your generations. So you just can't tell this and that. So forget about that. You go for it. You go on a ship to US and start preaching, the results are there.  

Devotee 2: Please forgive me. In the Nectar of Devotion Srila Prabhupada says that there are three kinds of sins.

Maharaj: Yes. They (the sins) are in seed form. Some are mature enough to yield us the reaction. Some of them are lying that way (dormant). But you should understand that these sinful activities or sins have nothing to do with our devotional service. Devotional service, we know, that it is completely purifying agent. Just once you chant Krishna's names and you clear your life of all sins completely. So what to speak of people like us who are daily chanting His names? Our life is completely purified. And this Purification doesn't stop, or it is not limited to our own life. It is unlimited to our whole generation. He (Krishna) says that beautifully in 9th Chapter of Bhagavad Gita

ananyāś cintayanto māṁ ye janāḥ paryupāsate
teṣāṁ nityābhiyuktānāṁ yoga-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.

This verse is beautiful you know. He says, those who come to Me, I give them the yoga that  whatever they lack I give them and whatever they have I preserve them. That is His nature. We cannot ask Him, how He does it? He does it. How He does it, you and I don't know. But He does it. And that is definite.

Devotee: Maharaj, I am not questioning how the Lord does it inconceivably. But what I wanted to know is that on one hand in Gita He says that He will protect those who do devotional service and on the other hand, the whole thing is turned topsy turvy (when we heard that we have to suffer for the sins and that our fate cannot be changed.)

MaharajThe difference is that those living entities who are not connected to devotee, they will have to suffer. But those who are connected to devotees, their position is completely changed. It is not a paradox and there is no contradiction here as you believe. There is no contradiction in spiritual world. Both of them can be accomodated. Krishna came to this world and He helped His devotees and killed the demons. But at the same time, the demons were also given liberation. Putana was given the post of mother in the spiritual world. Her intention was completely sinful. But even then she was given and not only that, regarding Putana, you should remember that in previous life she was Bali Maharaj's daughter, Ratnamala. She was in the yajnashāla where Vamana dev came and she liked the dwarf incarnation child. She thought, "Oh, if I can have a son like this, I could feed him!" And Lord knew her wish and she granted her wish. Then she was born as Putana demon and was given a chance to feed Krishna and by the touch of Krishna, she was immediately purified. These things are intricacies and we even don't know many times. But somehow or the other the Lord does it. Otherwise who will give the motherly status to the woman who is ready to kill the child? In the material world, we will kill her. But in spiritual world, Lord does not kill her. He sees that, "Oh she has fed me, let her come to Goloka."

Devotee 1: Maharaj, I just wanted to answer Mark's question that..

Maharaj: You just mind your question, forget about Mark's. 

Devotee 1: What I mean is...

Maharaj: No you don't mean anything. If Mark is in your mind, then forget about it.

Devotee 1: Maharaj, my question I wanted to ask is, (from Putana's story should we understand that) those people who are connected with me, even though if they have not performed any great devotional activities, they getting liberation is because they must have done something in the past life, to be related to me in the first place. Like Putana, she has done lot of pious activities in the past life, to be able to offer that service to Krishna in this birth. What I mean is that there is a cause for being liberated. It is not happening suddenly just like that.

Maharaj: First we have to understand that we are not talking of liberation. There is a difference between liberation and devotion. Liberation is a passive state. Liberation means you are just stopping the material attractions. And as soon as you are stopping the attractions, that is known as liberation or moksha. But we are not interested in moksha. We are interested in devotional service - bhakti and the concomitant results of bhakti will be liberation etc. We are not worried about those.

hari na jan to mukti na mānge mānge janamo janam avatār re
nitseva, nitkirtan ochchhav nirakhava nandkumar re

Narsi Mehta is singing this. He says that Vaishnavas don't ask for mukti. They only pray for always doing seva, kirtan and glorifying Krishna in every birth. This is our purpose. This is our purpose. We don't want liberation. No. And we don't want our relatives also to be liberated. No. They should become devotees. And devotion is so very powerful. Srila Prabhupada was only one devotee and now there are three million devotees all over the planet. One devotee could show this! He was only one devotee. Andj one devotee, how could he purify all three million people? It is unlimited purification and this shows that if three million are purified in this planet, then how many more should have been purified unknowingly? We don't know! Each one's generations and his generations and his generations...it is a very big purifying agent. You look at the sun. The sun rises and does it have a limit to one or two miles? The whole planet is engulfed. And sun is nothing when compared to Krishna. 

When Krishna comes into our life, oh, you don't know really. Our life is completely changed. You can take the example of Mother Kulangana. I saw her 20 years ago in Bury place (in 1970's), when she had joined. She was so very old and so very frail and could not even stand in Mangala-arati. Looking at her condition, I thought definitely she will not survive. And now she is dancing in Mangala-arati. I can't believe seeing her dancing. And that time she was 20 years younger. But that was material life. But now see how she just changed when she took to spiritual life. She is the topmost sankirtan devotee. We cannot go out now in the cold to distribute books. And she goes day and night. She has traveled around the world 3 times. She has served all the temples including West Virginia. She stayed there for three years. How could she do it? She did not have any capacity. And this is just in the material world.

I am not young and I am moving. It is impossible. For a common man of my age, it is impossible to even stand up in his house, forget about moving around and talking about Krishna. And wherever I went, immediately after I went out of the airport, I was giving Bhagavad-gita classes. And people were surprised and they ask, "Are you not tired?" I didn't feel it. I am not very well. But even then I didn't feel it. These things are just in front of our eyes. Otherwise in my body, how can the blood be there? I don't understand this. For my age, it should be completely pale and yellow. I don't have any difficulty in getting up early in the morning for mangala arati, even if I sleep very late in the night. See our own example. Twenty years before, I was not keeping very well  when I was living with my family though I was getting two times very nice prasadam. But as soon as you come to Krishna, you are very happy. The whole family should come to Krishna.The families should crowd the temples. Everywhere there should be one temple and people should get together there and perform kirtan, day and night. Go out and do sankirtan, bring money for the temple and forget about everything else. This is the best process Prabhupada has given us and it is lively. Full of life. 

Maharaj: (Refering to one of the devotees in the class Maharaj says) I saw him before he started Krishna consciousness. Now after three years, he has completely changed. He is very healthy. His wife is healthy, children are healthy and business is going on. He is all grahastha, cent-percent grahastha and even then his life is completely changed. Only thing he did is he has added Krishna. So why not everyone take up this devotional service? 

(Referring to Dayal Baladev Prabhu - David, Maharaj says) I have seen him in Reading few years ago. He was in death-bed. But now see how shining he is! (laughter). At that time he was working in nights, just to maintain his room and eating bread three days old. Just for eating bread and maintaining the room, he had to work odd hours in the night. And he was completely losing his health. The first thing I told him was to stop his night work. And then somehow or the other he managed and came to the temple. Now money or no money, he is very healthy. What for you want money? He is driving car and doing service. He can eat as much as he can. He can take even a shower of prasadam, because he is serving "Food for life". (laughter) Why for we want money? We want money to stay somewhere and eat something and this is all arranged here. And on top of this, Lord is here. So we are staying happily because Lord is there. If anyone comes and joins the temple, they will be very happy.

Who will not take this process? Why should we allow our minds to roam about unnecessarily? Krishna will give everything. Have full faith. My parents did not know anything about Mahabharat or Bhagavatam even. They said, "forget everything and just chant." And they chanted. They don't know these things. In India, in temples where the discourses go on, people just say, "very nice, very nice." No questions. Not a single question. Faith, complete faith. That doesn't mean we should have blind faith. But too much of it is bad. We must have faith. We must have faith in chanting at least, if nothing else. Today one person was asking so many questions and I had to be heavy with him. I told him, "First you buy the beads and chant 10 rounds and then come and then we will answer all your questions." Without chanting, mind just wanders about what Krishna did, how He did and why He did. So forget about it and just chant. 

Devotee 1: Maharaj, one devotee was asking so many questions to H H Tamal Krishna Maharaj. So many analytical questions. So Tamal Krishna Maharaj after hearing for half an hour, he spoke only one sentence - "Where are your chanting beads?" 

Maharaj: That is it.

Devotee 1: That devotee replied that he had left it at home and then Tamal Krishna Maharaj said, "Go and take your beads, chant 16 rounds daily for one year" and after one year, you can come and ask these questions.

Maharaj: (laughter) That is what I am telling too.

Devotee 1: So there are many things we cannot analyze.

Maharaj: Yes. They are inconceivable. What is the meaning of inconceivable? acintya - We cannot think about it. (And when devotee in class who had been asking so many questions, begins to ask one more question even after narrating the above incident, everyone laugh and Maharaj says) There was a devotee in Singapore who used to quote Srila Prabhupada for every statement. So when I said him, "Please don't quote Srila Prabhupada for everything" and he replied, "Yes, yes. You are correct. Prabhupada has written this in one of his letters". (laughter) Again he quoted Prabhupada.

Devotee 1: Maharaj, why could not have Bhishmadev just married Amba without begetting children? That way, he could have kept his vow by not begetting children, yet he could have satisfied Amba by marrying her.

Maharaj: (in a sober tone) First thing is that we cannot speculate anything about Bhishmadev. We cannot speculate. Other thing is that marrying and not begetting children is modern theory. (laughter) It is impossible. It is like keeping fire and butter together and butter has to melt. (Devotees appreciatively responded to Maharaj's reply with an enthusiastic 'Haribol!') It is not that you marry and decide, "No, no. we will not have children". And Bhishmadev did not want to do this. If we are in a responsible position like president, then it is not that we find loop-holes and use it for our advantage. That we should understand. Those who don't want to have sons and daughters, they should not marry. Why to marry? And marriage without sons and daughters is just sense-gratification. It is altogether a different thing if Lord wishes, He may not give you the children. But it is not that we should aim to do like that. Then why to marry?

Maharaj: If you choose not to beget children, then why to marry?  Why to stay together?  There is no need for it.

Devotee 2: (Referring to devotee who asked many questions) Maharaj, Now he wants to get married and that's why he is asking so many questions. (laughter)

Maharaj: (turning to devotee who asked many questions) If you trouble your wife with so many questions then she will come with complaints to us. (loud laughter)

Devotee 1: One last question Maharaj. How did Bhishmadev get the boon of iccha-mrtyu, to die at his own will? Is it because he was very pure or he did some austerities?

Maharaj: No. He did not do any austerity for that. It was result of benediction given by his father Shantanu. Shantanu was pleased with the sacrifice Bhishmadev did by taking those vows.

Devotee 3: Maharaj, Shantanu has power to give some benedictions?

Maharaj: Yes. He was a yogi. He could give.

Devotee 3: But at the same time he was attracted to sense-gratification. Still he could give such benedictions?

Maharaj: Yes. They were all very elevated souls. Not ordinary like us. In the shloka which we saw earlier also, it was mentioned that even highly elevated souls like Vishwamitra, Parasara muni could not control the senses. So we should be careful. But they are all definitely elevated souls. Otherwise how could Parasara Muni beget a child like Vyasadev? The point is we must not take their examples for our advantage. The lives of these great souls, should be understood based on the context and we should not jump to conclusion about anyone. The essence of everything is in chanting. If you chant sincerely, then you will be able to understand everything.

Devotee 1: Maharaj, but chanting is not happening.

MaharajIf chanting is sincere, then everything is ok.

Devotee 2: Two or three years ago, when I was in Kenya, I couldn't understand Bhagavad Gita. But after listening to your lectures and other Maharajas lecture it is now clearer.

Maharaj: (humbly says) Yes. It is difficult even for me.

Devotee 1: Maharaj, What do we do when we can't chant properly?

MaharajChanting you must do. You must do chanting. Continue chanting. Chanting should be done always. Even if you can't, you shouldn't leave it. Otherwise we will get bored. We shouldn't do some rounds and leave the rest for later as you would forget. If all the sixteen rounds are done at once, then it has nice effect. 16 rounds is nothing. You need 2 hours at the most. But to take out 2 hours is very hard, when you are working.

Devotee 1: Maharaj, it is easier to take it time in London than in India, as we get all the facilities in London on time. For example milk,water etc.  In India we have to struggles for everything.

Maharaj: But even in that no milk, water situation people still chant.

Devotee 1: Over here people have lots of time as we get all facilities so there is lots of time.

MaharajDoesn't matter where you are. You still have to chant. In Bhagavad Gita Krishna says in verse 6.26

yato yato niścalati manaś cañcalam asthiram
tatas tato niyamyaitad ātmany eva vaśaṁ nayet

From wherever the mind wanders due to its flickering and unsteady nature, one must certainly withdraw it and bring it back under the control of the self.

We should be in control of the mind and not be controlled by the mind. The mind will tell us to get married and that doesn't mean that we run and do it immediately. In Gujarati we call that person lampad.(loud laughter) 

Maharaj: There is a nice statement - na mānge daud to āve na vishwase kabi na rehje. In life many a times it so happens that when we don't ask for something, then it comes running. If you ask for something, then it will run away from us. But we have to do all our adjustments and everything else. Once that drama ends then you will realize what you really wanted to do.Whatever part we have in the drama of our life, we have to finish. Otherwise we cannot stop the drama in between.

Devotee 1: Is chanting important or reading is important?  I prefer reading.

MaharajIt is not what we like that we should do. We should follow the instructions.

Devotee 1: So we should do chanting, but the mind is always somewhere else. There is so much problem.

MaharajIn the beginning it is like that. But you should do. This is a problem because we live in complex surrounding. We are most of the time in disturbing surroundings. Then we have general disturbance in the form of tax, work or family disturbance. So the sum total is that we have too many disturbances. But if we chant, then everything becomes simple by the Lord's mercy. Otherwise when the kids become grown up we can't tell them anything. Nor can we tell anyone else in the family, relatives etc as to how we can stop so many disturbances.

Devotee 1: So is chanting the foundation?

MaharajYes definitely. With chanting everything goes smoothly. This is my experience. Everywhere there is problem. What will you mend? Today you have two kids. You can tell them off and send them to bed and you have peace of mind that they are sleeping. But in the future, when they get married there will be four. God knows how the son-in-law or daughter-in-law will be? (laughter)  All the four will do whatever they want and you will be shouting, "I worked hard to earn this money and you are doing this." (laughter) So it works when the kids are young, but afterwards even if you have disturbances in your family, you will be constantly chanting. Because you will be unable to do anything else and will be worried, so you will be taking the Lord's name helplessly. (laughter) It is because your family is limited, you think you are the monarch of what you serve in. How long is it going to stay limited and then your children will have kids. They will sit on your shoulders and break them. They think that this is their grand father to play with. To them you are a toy. It will be impossible for you to control your son's and daughter's family. So when this happens, you will chant.

Devotee 1: So if we become old and we can't see, then even if we want to read, we can't. So it is better to start reading early.

MaharajPlease, you should read. Chanting will help you read. If you don't chant then you won't understand what you have read.

Devotee 1: Will we forget?

Maharaj: No. You would not understand, what you have read. (Referring to the devotee who asked many questions Maharaj says) He is asking so many question because he is not chanting. (laughter)

Devotee 2 (Mataji): Maharaj, my prabhu says he prefers reading and not chanting. What should I do?

MaharajYou should chant. You shouldn't worry about what others do. Worry about yourself. You can't force. How can you force?