California, USA — Tuesday, June 14th

Contaminated containers

In 1981 when I first read Bhagavad Gita As It Is by Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj Prabhupad, Chapter Two (the nature of the soul) revolutionized my consciousness, Chapter Four convinced me that Krishna was God, the next few chapters (the different paths of self-realization like karma, jnana and other yogas) did not appeal to me, but the conclusion of Bhagavad Gita,

man-mana bhava mad-bhakto / mad-yaji mam namaskuru
mam evaisyasi satyam te / pratijane priyo 'si me

My dear friend, if you always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and give yourself exclusively to Me, I guarantee that your search for Me will be successful.

Bhagavad Gita (18:65)

where Krishna asserts the superiority of devotional service (bhakti yoga) over all these other paths,

sarva-dharman parityajya / mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo / moksayisyami ma sucah

Forget everything I said earlier. Just do what I'm telling you to do now: surrender to Me. Don't be afraid. Just follow this shortcut and I will remove all the obstacles in your path and reveal Myself to you.

Bhagavad Gita (18:66)

was something that I wholeheartedly embraced because it was immensely satisfying and felt so right, so you can imagine my surprise and consternation later, while reading the section of Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita where Mahaprabhu tells Ramananda Raya,

prabhu kahe — "pada sloka sadhyera nirnaya"

"Please recite a verse from the revealed scriptures about the ultimate goal of life,"

when Ramananda Raya submits this sarva-dharman parityajya verse (that I thought was the highest conclusion of Bhagavad Gita) for Mahaprabhu's consideration, and the Lord summarily rejects it, saying, "That is superficial (eho bahya); give Me a more substantial quote (age kaha ara)"!

I was dumbfounded...

After dismissing another verse from Bhagavad Gita, the first verse that Mahaprabhu accepts as the beginning of Krishna consciousness proper, is this one from the Srimad Bhagavatam:

jnane prayasam udapasya namanta eva
jivanti san-mukharitam bhavadiya-vartam
sthane sthitah sruti-gatam tanu-van-manobhir
ye prayaso 'jita jito 'py asi tais tri-lokyam

Srimad Bhagavatam (10:14:3)

In Bhagavat Darshan, when Srila Gurudeva quotes this verse, he says:

First throw away the bucket of knowledge that you are holding in your head, and be fully surrendered to the sadhus. Engage yourself with these sadhus in hearing the glories of Lord Krishna, His pastimes, etc....

When we were together in Govardhan shortly after Srila Gurudeva accepted me as a sannyasi disciple, I asked His Divine Grace about this:

During the morning darshan, Srila Govinda Maharaj opens a copy of Bhagavat Darshan – Revelation not Speculation, and begins reading:

jnane prayasam udapasya namanta eva...

"Maharaj," I interject, "[In the book], when you describe this verse, you say, 'Throw away the bucket of knowledge that you are holding in your head...'"

"Yes, we have acquired so much knowledge, and we are carrying that with us, like a bucket on our head, but that type of knowledge must be thrown out."

"So that when the bucket is empty, it can be filled with the pure Krishna conception that guru is giving?"


Then I began to understand. Before we can have any real appreciation for Krishna consciousness, before we can catch the beautiful Krishna conception of divinity that Srila Gurudeva is giving us, we have to first empty the contaminated container of our consciousness of everything that we think we know about Krishna consciousness.

That is why Srila Gurudeva stresses the importance of reading under the guidance of a Vaishnava teacher: if we read Bhagavad Gita on our own, we will invariably misunderstand what we read. And that is why Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu accepts this Bhagavatam verse as the prerequisite for Krishna consciousness.

What a shocker the first line is!

jnane prayasam udapasya...

Whatever idea you may have, whatever you may think you know (jnane), whatever you may think you have understood (prayasam) about Krishna consciousness — the Vedic teachings advocated by Krishna Himself (sarva-dharman)! — must not only be given up (parityajya), but completely expunged from your consciousness (udapasya).

Then what? The answer is given in the remainder of the verse:

No matter which social order (brahmana, vaishya, shudra) or stage of life (sannyasi, brahmachari, grihasta) we may find ourselves in...

According to the result of our karma we shall be placed in a particular environment, and we must start our spiritual life from wherever we are placed; we must begin our work of conquering all those samskaras that comprise the mental encasement we are living in.

Sermons of the Guardian of Devotion II

...(sthane sthitah), if we live in the association (jivanti) of the pure devotees (san-mukharitam) who are always absorbed in Krishna consciousness (bhavadiya-vartam), if we make ourselves amenable (namanta eva) to their instructions (sruti-gatam) and serve them faithfully in body, words, and mind (tanu-van-manobhir), then almost certainly (ye prayaso) the secret (ajita) of Krishna consciousness will be divulged (jito) to us, even though Krishna almost never reveals Himself (api asi) to those (tais) whose consciousness is encapsulated in the body, mind, and intellect (tri-lokyam) of the false ego.

So we have to forget everything that we have learned — all the knowledge and experience that we have acquired from science, from nature, and yes, even from religion! — because the laws of this material world of exploitation do not apply in that spiritual domain of service. Everything that we think we know will be turned upside down in that super-subjective plane of reality where, paradoxically, we "beat the Boss," we win Krishna's heart (priyo 'si me), by surrendering to Him (mam ekam saranam).

This does not mean that we must reject all science; rather, we should understand that the laws of the prison that we are incarcerated in do not apply to normal society. (Convicts have to wear a prison uniform; law-abiding citizens are exempt from this rule.) Prison life is not normal life! Srila Guru Maharaj illustrates this with an anecdote:

Our Guru Maharaj gave the example that if one is born in the darkness of a dungeon, and someone proposes, "Let us go see the sun," then the prisoner will carry a lantern in his hand saying, "Oh, you will show me the sun?"

"Yes. Come with me. Leave your lantern behind. No light is necessary to see the sun."

"Are you trying to fool me? Nothing can be seen without the help of a light."

His friend will catch him and forcibly take the prisoner into the sunlight. "Do you see the sun?" And the prisoner will say, "Oh, this is the sun! By sunlight alone we can see the sun." One will have that sort of experience when he comes in connection with the truth. Neither calculation, nor evidence, nor witness, but only direct experience is proof that Krishna is there, like the sun.

Sri Guru and His Grace

Our gurus want to take us out of the dungeon of this material world to show us the sunlight of the soul (savitur), but we foolishly insist on taking our false ego (bhur bhuva sva) along with us. Because the lantern (wick, fuel, flame) of our false ego (body, mind, intelligence) is indispensable in our dark world, like the disbelieving denizens of the dungeon, we cannot countenance the idea that it will be superfluous in the light of the sun (soul). What fools we are!

When will I toss out the excrement that fills the bucket of my mind and contaminates my consciousness — the misconceptions that force me to identify with this material body of blood, pus and stool — and disinfect this filthy receptacle with humility (trnad api sunicena), tolerance (taror api sahisnuna), and unassertive deference to all (amanina manadena) while chanting the Holy Name (kirtaniyah sada harih), so that Srila Gurudeva can fill the container of my consciousness with the confidential Krishna conception of divinity?

Tags: Surrender | Slokas

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