Real Enquiries

3rd Feb 2008
Kalacakra Krsna das

Dear Vaishnavas,
Hare Krishna. Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.

Every time our spiritual master gives a class, after reciting the verse and translation, he would often turn to us and ask, "What is the message of this verse?". Needless to say, we all will show a blank-face. His point is that, if we cannot derive practical message from the shastras and give it to the common public to get rid of their miseries, they would not turn their attention towards the shastras. We may give very lofty lectures on Prahlad Maharaj, Dhruva  Maharaj, Kunti Maharani etc, but when we are put in the same terrible situations as these great devotees, are we equipped to face the difficulties with the  same courage? If we cannot do that, how can we direct the general public to follow this path? Hence whatever pastime or instructions we may study in  Bhagavat-gita, Bhagavatam etc, we should try to see what message we can take from those slokas that we can use it in our day-day life.

True devotees therefore do not jump to inquire about the sublime and intimate pastimes of Krishna and His associates. Rather they ask very common-sense  questions which a common man can relate to. Otherwise, superficial hearing of the transcendental pastimes of Krishna sometimes may create more trouble than not hearing the same pastime at all.

We can see from the practical example of Parikshit Maharaj that when he was cursed to die in 7 days, he did not straight away ask Srila Sukadeva Goswami to talk about the rasa-lila of Lord Krishna. Instead he asked a very down to earth practical question, "What is the way of perfection of all persons, especially for one who is about to die?". This is the most intelligent question because everyone in this world is sure to die and therefore this question is applicable to every living entity in this universe. The answer to this question is the entire Bhagavatam which proves the universality of Srimad Bhagavatam.

Besides death, another common thing that all living beings go through is 'suffering' day-in and day-out. If our shastras do not give solution to our sufferings, then no one will care for its instructions. Mahatma Vidura, therefore, when he met with Maitreya Rsi, did not inquire about the high philosophical conclusions or the transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Lord. Rather he inquired about how to get the common man relieved from his sufferings. This beautiful Sloka is in Srimad Bhagavatam 3.5.2,

vidura uvāca
sukhāya karmāṇi karoti loko
na taiḥ sukhaṁ vānyad-upāramaṁ vā
vindeta bhūyas tata eva duḥkhaṁ
yad atra yuktaṁ bhagavān vaden naḥ

Vidura said: O great sage, everyone in this world engages in fruitive activities to attain happiness, but one finds neither satiation nor the mitigation of distress. On the contrary, one is only aggravated by such activities. Please, therefore, give us directions on how one should live for real happiness."

Saints like Vidura are already absorbed in the thoughts of transcendental Lord and therefore they are more concerned about those ignorant jivas who are busy with their fruitive activities. The serious problem is that while they are so busily engaged in their activities to attain happiness, they don't realize that instead of achieving happiness, they are suffering from the very same activities. And worse still, they are not fed up with this vicious cycle - endeavor for happiness and reactive distress. Therefore, pure devotees taking compassion towards such ignorant souls, ask practical questions such as above.

Srila Prabhupada beautifully throws light upon this point in his purport, "A common man cannot understand the Lord. He must first know the real position of  his life under the influence of the illusory energy. In illusion one thinks that he can be happy only by fruitive activities, but what actually happens is that one becomes more and more entangled in the network of action and reaction and does not find any solution to the problem of life."

Understanding that we are getting more and more entangled in the network of action and reaction due to our fruitive activities itself solves half of our problem because only then will we prepare ourselves to hear the transcendental message of the shastras. Once the transcendental message goes inside the heart of the submissive and attentive soul, then he gains the natural taste for constantly hearing the topics of transcendence. At this stage he is fully established in rejoicing in his own self and nothing can shake him, as Lord Krishna says in Gita 6.22, "yasmin sthito na duḥkhena guruṇāpi vicālyate - Being situated in such a position, one is never shaken, even in the midst of greatest difficulty."

This is the only fool-proof way to bring unlimited joy to a soul in this world.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva,
Kalacakra Krsna das.