Engaging our Senses in Bhakti - Part 7

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.

In continuation of the mail on "Engaging our Senses in Bhakti", let us learn from pure devotees like Maharaj Ambarish, Srila Prabhupada and Gurudev as to how we can use our sense of smell in Krishna's service. In Srimad Bhagavatam verse 9.4.18-20 Sukadeva Goswami has said that Ambarish Maharaj engaged sense of smell in smelling the fragrance of tulasi offered to the Lord.

ghrāṇaṁ ca tat-pāda-saroja-saurabhe
śrīmat-tulasyā rasanāṁ tad-arpite

Sense of smell in smelling the fragrance of tulasi offered to the Lord.

How can we apply this in our day to day life?

1) In Bhagavad Gita Chapter 7.9, Lord Krishna says, "puṇyo gandhaḥ pṛthivyāṁ ca" - "I am the original fragrance of the earth". Source of all fragrance is earth. The speciality is various kinds of flowers are grown in this earth. But each variety has its own unique smell. This miracle is possible only by Krishna. We may claim that we also artificially manufacture different kinds of scents and perfumes. But for all these products - the source is flowers - which take their fragrance from earth. When we smell the flowers offered to the Lord, we should remember His greatness and our insignificant position. Srila Prabhupada in his purport to the above verse very nicely explains - "Punya means that which is not decomposed; punya is original. Everything in the material world has a certain flavor or fragrance, as the flavor and fragrance in a flower, or in the earth, in water, in fire, in air, etc. The uncontaminated flavor, the original flavor, which permeates everything, is Krishna."  Remembering this truth if we smell the flowers, tulasi leaves offered to Him, then that is perfect engagement of our sense of smell in His service.

2) We usually think that we can smell only through our nose. But Lord Brahma is teaching us a new way of smelling through our ears. In Srimad Bhagavatam verse 3.9.5, while offering prayers to Lord Krishna for creative energy he says,

ye tu tvadīya-caraṇāmbuja-kośa-gandhaṁ
jighranti karṇa-vivaraiḥ śruti-vāta-nītam
bhaktyā gṛhīta-caraṇaḥ parayā ca teṣāṁ
nāpaiṣi nātha hṛdayāmburuhāt sva-puṁsām

O my Lord, persons who smell the aroma of Your lotus feet, carried by the air of Vedic sound through the holes of the ears, accept Your devotional service. For them You are never separated from the lotus of their hearts.

Fragrance is carried by air. Similarly, Vedic sound vibration is also carried by air.  Since medium is common for both - it is possible for us to smell through ears as well. 

3) When the doorkeepers of Vaikuntha were cursed by Sanat Kumaras, Lord Vishnu appeared before them. At that instant the effect of smelling the aroma of tulasi leaves (CC Madhya 17.142) -

tasyāravinda-nayanasya padāravinda-
kiñjalka-miśra-tulasī-makaranda-vāyuḥ
antar-gataḥ sva-vivareṇa cakāra teṣāṁ
saṅkṣobham akṣara-juṣām api citta-tanvoḥ

When the breeze carrying the aroma of tulasi leaves from the toes of the lotus feet of the Personality of Godhead entered the nostrils of those sages, they experienced a change both in body and in mind, even though they were attached to the impersonal Brahman understanding.

In his wonderful purport to the above verse Srila Prabhupada says - "Because of the fragrance of His lotus feet, carried by the air and mixed with the aroma of tulasi, their minds changed; instead of becoming one with the Supreme Lord, they thought it wise to be devotees."

4) The effect of not using our sense of smell in Krishna's service is very nicely explained by Shaunaka muni in Srimad Bhagavatam verse 2.3.23,

śrī-viṣṇu-padyā manujas tulasyāḥ
śvasañ chavo yas tu na veda gandham

And the person who has never experienced the aroma of the tulasi leaves from the lotus feet of the Lord is also a dead body, although breathing.

So, may we not be living dead, but utilise this rare human birth properly in the Lord's service.

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