From Lust to Love–With Krsna’s Mercy

From Lust to Love–With Krsna’s Mercy
A Talk by Giriraj Swami
January 23, 2009
Moorpark, California

We read from Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Chapter Three: “Karma-yoga.”

TEXT 41

tasmat tvam indriyany adau
 niyamya bharatarsabha
papmanam prajahi hy enam
 jnana-vijnana-nasanam

TRANSLATION

Therefore, O Arjuna, best of the Bharatas, in the very beginning curb this
great symbol of sin [lust] by regulating the senses, and slay this destroyer
of knowledge and self-realization.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

The Lord advised Arjuna to regulate the senses from the very beginning so
that he could curb the greatest sinful enemy, lust, which destroys the urge
for self-realization and specific knowledge of the self. Jnana refers to
knowledge of self as distinguished from non-self, or in other words,
knowledge that the spirit soul is not the body. Vijnana refers to specific
knowledge of the spirit soul’s constitutional position and his relationship
to the Supreme Soul. It is explained thus in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (2.9.31):

jnanam parama-guhyam me
 yad vijnana-samanvitam
sa-rahasyam tad-angam ca
 grhana gaditam maya

“The knowledge of the self and Supreme Self is very confidential and
mysterious, but such knowledge and specific realization can be understood if
explained with their various aspects by the Lord Himself.” Bhagavad-gita
gives us that general and specific knowledge of the self. The living
entities are parts and parcels of the Lord, and therefore they are simply
meant to serve the Lord. This consciousness is called Krsna consciousness.
So, from the very beginning of life one has to learn this Krsna
consciousness, and thereby one may become fully Krsna conscious and act
accordingly.

Lust is only the perverted reflection of the love of God which is natural
for every living entity. But if one is educated in Krsna consciousness from
the very beginning, that natural love of God cannot deteriorate into lust.
When love of God deteriorates into lust, it is very difficult to return to
the normal condition. Nonetheless, Krsna consciousness is so powerful that
even a late beginner can become a lover of God by following the regulative
principles of devotional service. So, from any stage of life, or from the
time of understanding its urgency, one can begin regulating the senses in
Krsna consciousness, devotional service of the Lord, and turn the lust into
love of Godhead–the highest perfectional stage of human life.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

In the beginning of the movement in America, one of the first young men to
come forward to serve Srila Prabhupada was Bruce Scharf, who was later
initiated as Brahmananda dasa. Brahmananda dasa had taken a class in English
literature, and the professor had asked the students to give an
interpretation of the motives of a character in a story. So, Brahmananda
told Srila Prabhupada that he had interpreted the motivations of the
character in a cosmic, or spiritual, way and that the professor had
explained the motives in terms of lust, or sex desire. Srila Prabhupada
replied, “Your professor was right. In the material world everything is
impelled by lust.”

Because of lust we remain encaged in the physical body, which is full of
misery. Both the gross body and the subtle body, which includes the mind,
suffer pain and anguish. We want to become free from the bondage of the
material body. As long as we are imprisoned in the material body, we have to
suffer greatly. And we never know what may come next. Things may go well for
a while–even for years–but then all of a sudden something goes wrong that
we never expected. And the result is that we suffer great pain, either
physical or mental or both.

A sober, intelligent person will think, “As long as I am in this material
body–gross body and subtle body–I am subject to so many miseries, but my
nature, as a spiritual soul, is joyful.” The soul by nature is eternal, full
of knowledge, and full of bliss (sac-cid-ananda). But the body is the
opposite: asat, acid, and nirananda–temporary, full of ignorance, and full
of misery. The eternal soul imprisoned in a temporary body is in an awkward
position, an incompatible situation. Therefore an intelligent, wise, sober
person will endeavor to become free from the bondage of material existence,
from the cycle of birth and death in the material world. And as long as we
identify with the body and act on the impulses of the body to enjoy the
senses, we will have to take birth again.

Contemporary society has made much propaganda in favor of enjoying the
senses without restriction. They say that there is no problem with sensual
gratification; the problem is that we feel guilty about it. If we can get
rid of the sense of guilt, we can really enjoy the senses. This theory may
sound attractive to materialistic persons who want to enjoy the senses, and
we also don’t insist that you should avoid sense gratification because it is
“bad” or “evil.” There is sense gratification even in the spiritual
world–spiritual sense gratification. But the problem with material sense
gratification is that it increases our material attachment and bondage,
which extends our duration of suffering in this material world, extends our
prison sentence. And it is also not true that the sense of guilt or shame in
relation to sense gratification or sex is just a false imposition by
society. Experimental studies of children who were taught from the very
beginning that there is nothing wrong with sex and that they should have as
much as they want revealed that even they felt there was something not quite
right about it. Even without moral instructions and admonitions from others,
they felt some guilt and shame. They felt bad.

Every culture has restrictions on sex indulgence, and the general rule is
that if one wants to have sex he or she should get married; the husband
should be responsible for the wife, and the wife should be faithful to the
husband. There is restriction, regulation, as indicated in the verse
(niyama). But even such regulation does not qualify a person to be liberated
from the repetition of birth and death. What qualifies a person is Krsna
consciousness.

So, regulating the senses means not only that a man limits himself to his
wife and a woman limits herself to her husband; it means that they engage
their senses in devotional service in Krsna consciousness. That is what it
means to regulate the senses. Yes, there is restriction, but the ultimate
regulation is to always engage the senses and mind in the service of Krsna,
in Krsna consciousness. Krsna consciousness will purify the mind and
ultimately liberate the soul from material bondage.

And we should engage in Krsna consciousness from the very beginning (adau).
As Srila Prabhupada explains in the purport, the living entity is naturally
endowed with pure love for Krsna (nitya-siddha krsna-prema), but when the
living entity comes in contact with matter, that pure love for Krsna becomes
perverted into lust, selfish desire; and when lust is frustrated, it turns
into anger, and there is a whole cycle. But that lust is just an inverted
reflection of the living entity’s original, pure love for Krsna. And just as
pure love can be transformed into lust by contact with material nature, so
too lust can be purified by engagement in devotional service. Thus kama,
“lust” or “desire,” can be transformed by desiring Krsna’s happiness. We
cannot stop desire. But we can transform selfish desires for sense
gratification into desires for Krsna’s happiness. Basically, lust (kama)
means the desire for my own happiness, and pure love (prema) means the
desire for Krsna’s happiness.

atmendriya-priti-vancha-tare bali ‘kama’
krsnendriya-priti-iccha dhare ‘prema’ nama

“The desire to gratify one’s own senses is kama [lust], but the desire to
please the senses of Lord Krsna is prema [love].” (Cc Adi 4.165)

So we do not try to eradicate desire–we cannot kill desire–but we do
attempt to change the quality of the desire. Instead of desiring personal
happiness in the bodily conception, I desire Krsna’s happiness. Instead of
working to gratify my senses, I act to please Krsna’s senses. And thus lust
becomes purified and transformed into love. And when we have pure love for
Krsna, we are always happy, always eager to sing His glories, hear His
pastimes, serve His devotees, and worship His Deity. We are always eager to
engage in devotional service and think of Him.

It is natural that when you are in love with someone you think of the person
all the time. It is not an effort. It comes naturally. Sometimes lovers have
a quarrel or one partner leaves the other, and the partners suffer terribly.
One partner wants to forget the other, but he (or she) can’t–because of
attachment. In the same way, when we become attached to Krsna, when we fall
in love with Krsna, we will think of Him constantly. We won’t be able to
forget Him.

On a very high level of love of God in Vrndavana, the devotee, out of
intense affection, forgets that Krsna is God and simply loves Him as a
friend loves a friend or a parent loves a child. And on the highest level,
the devotees–the young gopis, led by Srimati Radharani–love Krsna as their
dearmost beloved. When Krsna left Vrndavana to go to Mathura, all the
residents of Vrndavana were plunged into an ocean of separation. Of course,
that ocean of separation was really an ocean of bliss, because on the
absolute platform separation also means meeting. Still, within the
variegatedness of spiritual emotion, they felt separation.

Some time thereafter, a bumblebee began to hover around Srimati Radharani,
the greatest lover of Krsna. She was like a lotus flower, and the bumblebee
wanted to taste that flower’s nectar. Srimati Radharani, in Her ecstasy,
took the bumblebee to be a messenger from Krsna. And in Her intense love for
Him in separation, She apparently criticized Him:

yad-anucarita-lila-karna-piyusa-viprut-
 sakrd-adana-vidhuta-dvandva-dharma vinastah
sapadi grha-kutumbam dinam utsrjya dina
 bahava iha vihanga bhiksu-caryam caranti

“To hear about the pastimes that Krsna regularly performs is nectar for the
ears. For those who relish just a single drop of that nectar, even once,
their dedication to material duality is ruined. Many such persons have
suddenly given up their wretched homes and families and, themselves becoming
wretched, traveled here to Vrndavana to wander about like birds, begging for
their living.” (SB 10.47.18)

She said that people give up their families, their hearths and homes, which
ordinarily are very difficult to leave, to come to Vraja to search for
Krsna, but that in Vrndavana too they are miserable, because Krsna doesn’t
give Himself to them. They are aggrieved. They have left everything to find
Krsna, but they don’t get Krsna either. Or if they get Him, He leaves them.
Thus they wander about Vrndavana like birds, homeless and searching for
food.

But learned scholars have revealed the inner meaning of Srimati Radharani’s
words. These birds–who are they? They are paramahamsas, the topmost,
liberated souls, who have gone beyond the dualities of material existence
and given up fleeting material attachments. And they are always filled with
transcendental ecstasy in separation from Krsna.

In Her ecstatic mood of love, Srimati Radharani criticized Krsna–for His
pleasure. Everything the Vraja-vasis–especially the gopis–do is for
Krsna’s pleasure. And some authorities say that Krsna Himself came as the
honeybee to drink the sweetness of Srimati Radharani’s speech.

In another verse, Radharani says that Krsna had been cruel even in His past
lives, as Rama and Vamana:

mrgayur iva kapindram vivyadhe lubdha-dharma
 striyam akrta virupam stri-jitah kama-yanam
balim api balim attvavestayad dhvanksa-vad yas
 tad alam asita-sakhyair dustyajas tat-katharthah

“Like a hunter, He cruelly shot the king of the monkeys with arrows. Because
He was conquered by a woman, He disfigured another woman who came to Him
with lusty desires. And even after consuming the gifts of Bali Maharaja, He
bound him up with ropes as if he were a crow. So let us give up all
friendship with this dark-complexioned boy, even if we can’t give up talking
about Him.” (SB 10.47.17)

Thus She criticized Krsna. In effect She said, “If Krsna can live without
us, we can live without Him.” The messenger may have responded, “If Krsna is
so bad, why don’t You just forget Him? Why do You always talk about Him?”
And She would have replied, “We can live without Krsna, but we can’t live
without talking about Him.”

That is love. When there is love, no matter one’s condition, one cannot but
think of the beloved. You can’t forget the person. Even if you want to
forget and try to forget, you cannot forget–out of love.

The love of the devotees for Krsna is not shaken in any condition. Sometimes
devotees face trials and tribulations, but their love for Krsna never
wavers. In the Mahabharata we see how the Pandavas were insulted, sent into
exile, and put through so many difficulties, but their love for Krsna never
wavered. While they were in exile, Krsna, unannounced, came to where they
were and approached Arjuna. And when Arjuna saw Him, he was immediately
overwhelmed with ecstatic love. He didn’t waver for a moment. He never
thought, “Oh Krsna, we are suffering so much. Why are You making us suffer
so? Why are You allowing us to suffer?” No complaint. Only pure
love–completely spontaneous. Sometimes someone we don’t like–or someone
with whom we are angry–may come to meet us, and we have to make an effort
to be polite: “All right, I have to be gracious now.” It wasn’t like
that–“Oh, I’m really mad at Krsna, because we’ve had to suffer so much.” No
complaint–just pure love, causeless love. Devotees love Krsna without any
material motive. In fact, if there were some material motive, it wouldn’t be
love. If I love you to get something from you, it is not pure love; it is
lust. I am actually thinking of my own desires, what I can get from you to
gratify my senses. It is not love, but lust. Pure love is causeless and thus
is never disturbed by material affliction.

Srila Prabhupada says that in the material world the boy says to the girl,
“I love you,” and the girl says to the boy, “I love you,” but that as soon
as there is some disruption in their sense gratification, there is quarrel,
separation, divorce, because there was some material motive. But in prema
the only motive is to make Krsna happy. There is no question of personal
gain or loss. Our only interest is to please Krsna. Srila Bhaktivinoda
Thakura, echoing the sentiments of Srimati Radharani, said, “If by my
suffering Krsna becomes happy, I will take the greatest suffering to be the
greatest happiness–because Krsna will be pleased.” That is Srimati
Radharani’s mood:

na gani apana-duhkha, sabe vanchi tanra sukha,
       tanra sukha-amara tatparya
more yadi diya duhkha, tanra haila maha-sukha,
       sei duhkha-mora sukha-varya

“I do not mind My personal distress. I only wish for the happiness of Krsna,
for His happiness is the goal of My life. However, if He feels great
happiness in giving Me distress, that distress is the best of My happiness.

ye narire vanche krsna, tara rupe satrsna,
       tare na pana haya duhkhi
mui tara paya padi’, lana yana hate dhari’,
       krida karana tanre karon sukhi

“If Krsna, attracted by the beauty of some other woman, wants to enjoy with
her but is unhappy because He cannot get her, I fall down at her feet, catch
her hand, and bring her to Krsna to engage her for His happiness.” (Cc Antya
20.52, 53)

Such is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s internal mood of surrender, the mood of
Srimati Radharani, as expressed in His Siksastaka (8):

aslisya va pada-ratam pinastu mam
 adarsanan marma-hatam karotu va
yatha tatha va vidadhatu lampato
 mat-prana-nathas tu sa eva naparah

“Let Krsna tightly embrace this maidservant who has fallen at His lotus
feet, or let Him trample Me or break My heart by never being visible to Me.
He is a debauchee, after all, and can do whatever He likes, but still He
alone, and no one else, is the worshipable Lord of My heart.” (Cc Antya
20.47)

A devotee wants only Krsna’s happiness. He has no separate, selfish
interest. And he can desire and work for Krsna’s happiness in any situation.
No material impediment, no condition, can stop one’s service or mood of
service to Krsna, to please Krsna.

On a morning walk in Chicago, Srila Prabhupada commented on a car called
Thunderbird. “Is there any bird called thunderbird?” he asked. Some devotees
ventured, “It’s a legendary bird from Indian legend, American Indian.
Sometimes their chiefs are called Thunderbird.”
Srila Prabhupada said, “We have got an idea of thunderbird. The bird flies
near the cloud in expectation of water, and he is not afraid of thunder.” He
said that that example was given by Rupa Gosvami. “The cataka bird will not
take water from the ground. He will take water only from the cloud. So, in
the beginning of every cloud there is thunder. And this bird, because he is
expecting water, although the cloud is giving him thunder, still he will not
take water from the ground.” When a devotee asked what the example
illustrated, Srila Prabhupada replied, “A devotee will take mercy only from
Krsna, not from the material world. Even if there is thunder–Krsna . . .
puts him into difficulty–still he will not take any mercy from the material
world.”

Srila Rupa Gosvami was a great devotee and poet, a direct disciple of Sri
Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He wrote this very beautiful verse:

viracaya mayi dandam dina-bandho dayam va
 gatir iha na bhavattah kacid anya mamasti
nipatatu sata-kotir nirmalam va navambhas
 tad api kila payodah stuyate catakena

“O Lord of the poor, do what you like with me, give me either mercy or
punishment, but in this world I have none to look to except Your Lordship.
The cataka bird always prays for the cloud, regardless of whether it showers
rains or throws a thunderbolt.”

The devotee will not look for shelter in the material world, but he will
tolerate the thunder and lightning and wait for Krsna’s mercy, those
nectarean drops of pure rain.

And the devotee also takes the thunderbolt as Krsna’s mercy.
Srimad-Bhagavatam says that when a devotee is put into difficulty, into
distress, he patiently suffers the reactions to his past activities, expects
the Lord’s mercy, and serves the Lord with body, mind, and words. And if he
passes his life in this way, he will earn the right to enter the kingdom of
God.

tat te ‘nukampam su-samiksamano
 bhunjana evatma-krtam vipakam
hrd-vag-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te
 jiveta yo mukti-pade sa daya-bhak

“My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless
mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past
misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words, and
body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful
claim.” (SB 10.14.8)

This verse is very significant. In the Bhagavad-gita (18.66) Lord Krsna
says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja/ aham tvam
sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami ma sucah–“If one surrenders unto Me, I deliver
him from all sinful reactions.” For a devotee there are no sinful reactions.
So, when a devotee suffers, what is actually happening–what does it mean
that “he patiently suffers the reactions to his past deeds”? Srila
Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura explains that a devotee knows that his present
happiness is due to past devotional activities and that his present distress
is due to past offenses. Thus he peacefully endures all happiness and
distress and patiently awaits the mercy of the Lord. Or, he takes his
present happiness and distress as the Lord’s mercy on him. As Srila
Prabhupada writes, “He accepts all miseries as the mercy of the Lord,
thinking himself only worthy of more trouble due to his past misdeeds; and
he sees that his miseries, by the grace of the Lord, are minimized to the
lowest. Similarly, when he is happy he gives credit to the Lord, thinking
himself unworthy of the happiness; he realizes that it is due only to the
Lord’s grace that he is in such a comfortable condition and able to render
better service to the Lord.” (Bg 2.56 purport)

Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti explains further that a devotee thinks, “As a
father sometimes mercifully gives a cup of milk to his small son and at
other times mercifully gives him bitter medicine, at other times embraces
and kisses him and at other times spanks him, so the Supreme Lord, who is
like my father, knows what is actually good and bad for me, who am like His
son. I do not know myself.” Thus, as a service to His dear child, for the
child’s benefit, the loving supreme father administers both happiness and
distress.

Thus Prthu Maharaja prays,

tvan-mayayaddha jana isa khandito
 yad anyad asasta rtatmano ‘budhah
yatha cared bala-hitam pita svayam
 tatha tvam evarhasi nah samihitum

“My Lord, due to Your illusory energy, all living beings in this material
world have forgotten their real constitutional position, and out of
ignorance they are always desirous of material happiness in the form of
society, friendship, and love. Therefore, please do not ask me to take some
material benefits from You, but as a father, not waiting for the son’s
demand, does everything for the benefit of the son, please bestow upon me
whatever You think best for me.” (SB 4.20.31)

It is a beautiful thing–Krsna consciousness. It is different from ordinary
life. In ordinary life: “Sweets yea! Bitter medicine nay!” That is not the
vision of a devotee.

Krsna’s supreme quality is His affection for His devotees, bhakta-vatsalya.
The word vatsa means “calf” or “dear child.” Cows are so affectionate, so
loving and caring, to their calves. And the word vatsalya comes from vatsa.
Krsna is so loving and caring, so kind and compassionate to His devotees,
that the question may be raised: Why should He put them into suffering?

As the acaryas explain, there is a great purpose behind the material
creation: to rectify the living entity’s tendency to enjoy without the Lord,
so that he becomes fully purified and liberated. When a person engages in a
sinful activity, he suffers a reaction that is meant to purify his heart of
the desire to commit that sin. Although a devotee who has surrendered to
Krsna no longer engages in sinful activities, he may have some lingering
trace of the enjoying spirit, of wanting to enjoy independent of Krsna, so
even though he doesn’t actually engage in a sinful activity, the Lord, out
of His mercy, will give His devotee a punishment that resembles a sinful
reaction, to remove the last traces of the devotee’s sinful mentality. Thus
the misery suffered by a sincere devotee is not technically a karmic
reaction. Rather, it is the Lord’s special mercy for inducing him to
completely let go of the material world and return home, back to Godhead.
Thus the devotee, completely cleansed in heart, becomes fully absorbed in
loving service to Krsna and in the end returns to Him–the devotee’s goal.
The devotee’s deepest desire is to attain the Lord’s association in loving
service.

When a devotee’s only desire is to serve and please Krsna, he becomes
eligible to go back home, back to Godhead. As stated in the purport, “A
sincere devotee earnestly desires to go back to the Lord’s abode. Therefore
he willingly accepts the Lord’s merciful punishment and continues offering
respects and obeisances to the Lord with his heart, words, and body. Such a
bona fide servant of the Lord, considering all hardship a small price to pay
for gaining the personal association of the Lord, certainly becomes a
legitimate son of God, as indicated here by the words daya-bhak. Just as one
cannot approach the sun without becoming fire, one cannot approach the
supreme pure, Lord Krsna, without undergoing a rigid purificatory process,
which may appear like suffering but which is in fact a curative treatment
administered by the personal hand of the Lord.” (SB 10.14.8 purport)

If one passes his life in this spirit, he will attain the lotus feet of the
Lord. As a legitimate son has simply to remain alive to gain an inheritance
from his father, one who simply remains alive in Krsna consciousness,
following the regulative principles of devotional service, becomes eligible
to inherit the kingdom of God.

That is how a devotee lives. He is like a cataka bird. He awaits the Lord’s
mercy, and even if for some time the Lord gives thunder and lightning, still
the devotee doesn’t go anywhere else. He simply awaits the Lord’s mercy. He
expects the Lord’s mercy (su-samiksamana) and offers obeisances to the Lord
with heart, words, and body (hrd-vag-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te). These two
processes are so potent that they can bring the devotee back to Godhead.

Thus our lust is purified and transformed into its original state of pure
love. The enjoying spirit means lusty, selfish desires. Any remnant of that
enjoying spirit–lust–can impede our progress. We want to become completely
purified, perfectly Krsna conscious. And if we accept whatever remedial
measures Lord Krsna arranges to purify us, however painful they may be, as
His mercy, and expect further mercy in terms of attraction to Krsna–that is
the real mercy, not that the pain will stop. Of course, the pain may stop,
but the real mercy is that one is able to think of Krsna without deviation,
which really means to develop love for Him. If you love someone, naturally
you always think of the person, and that state of pure Krsna consciousness
will carry us back home, back to Godhead, to the lotus feet of the Lord. And
that is why we are here–to practice and preach Krsna consciousness, pure
love for Krsna.

Hare Krsna.

Are there any questions or comments?

Devotee (1): Thank you for your talk. You said that if you are fond of Krsna
you should talk about Him.

Giriraj Swami: The gopis said, “We can live without Krsna, but we can’t live
without talking about Him.” That is our business, to talk about Krsna.
Especially in separation, one finds solace by speaking about Krsna.

Maha-sakti dasa: Thank you, Maharaja. We haven’t seen you in a long time. It
is so nice to hear you speak. Thank you very much.

I think the example about the bird was really neat. Is the bird cakora or
cataka?

Giriraj Swami: Cataka. The cakoras like the moon; they subsist only on
moonlight. Manasa-candra-cakora. Krsna is the candra, moon, for the cakora
bird of the devotee’s mind (manasa). As the cakora bird goes to the moon, so
the devotee’s mind goes to Krsnacandra.

Maha-sakti dasa: I was thinking that the example of the cataka bird is so
powerful, and very appropriate. We do austerities in Krsna consciousness,
but they are not really austerities. There is always something related to
Krsna to replace what we give up. Prabhupada would say, “Don’t stop talking;
just talk about Krsna.” Or “Don’t stop eating but eat only krsna-prasada.”
The functions of the tongue are to vibrate and to taste, and Srila
Prabhupada explained how to engage both in relation to Krsna: vibrate
krsna-katha and taste only krsna-prasada. It is a simple yet extremely
powerful point. Our tongue wants to taste so many things, and the tendency
is to eat anything we like: “Oh, I want this tasty food, or that tasty
food.” By allowing our tongue to taste any type of food, we are literally
letting our tongue drag us to hell. And by accepting the austerity of
tasting only krsna-prasada, by that simple agreement to accept that vrata,
vow, we are raising ourselves back home, back to Godhead. We are becoming
Krsna conscious. And it is not that prasada is bad-tasting; it is
incredible. [laughter] But it is an austerity that we follow.

So, getting back to the example of the cataka bird, if prasada is not there
a devotee will not take something else. He would rather fast or wait for
something that he can offer as prasada. It is that loyalty that qualifies
him.

Giriraj Swami: Yes. Very good. Srila Prabhupada made the same point: The
cataka bird drinks water when the rain falls; otherwise he will die of
thirst. He will never accept any water from this earth. In the same way, a
devotee will never accept materialism, even if he has to die of starvation.
“There are still mainly saintly persons in India who do that,” Srila
Prabhupada said. “If some food comes, they eat; otherwise, not. They just
sit in one place and chant or meditate without any concern for bodily
necessities.”

Tamal Krishna Goswami said, “We see, Srila Prabhupada, that you also have no
such concern, but just to deliver the whole world you are taking on this
concern.” And Srila Prabhupada replied, “This is for Krsna. We are
constructing buildings and begging money only for this purpose: People may
become Krsna conscious. That is the only idea.”

Syamananda dasa: You were describing from the Tenth Canto how a devotee
patiently tolerates the difficulties that he is going through because there
are these little anarthas left and Krsna is correcting him by giving him
some mercy which seems like pain. I was wondering, if the devotee is
sincerely endeavoring and practicing, why couldn’t the Lord make him . . . I
am looking for a shortcut, easier in the sense that that difficulty, that
tendency . . . Like when Caitanya Mahaprabhu came, He just gave mercy
without any requirements. One may have lust–one may have anything–but He
just gave them love, and because of receiving that love, the rest, all the
bad qualities, just fell away. So I was wondering why the Lord doesn’t
always do that.

Giriraj Swami: The acaryas have addressed the same question in relation to a
similar verse:

yasyaham anugrhnami
 harisye tad-dhanam sanaih
tato ‘dhanam tyajanty asya
 svajana duhkha-duhkhitam

[Lord Krsna said:] “If I especially favor someone, I gradually deprive him
of his wealth. Then the relatives and friends of such a poverty-stricken man
abandon him. In this way he suffers one distress after another.” (SB
10.88.8)

So, the question can be raised, Why does Krsna have to purify him in this
way? Why can’t He do it in a less painful way?

As explained in the purport, “The beloved devotees of the Lord do not regard
as very troublesome the suffering He imposes on them. Indeed, they find that
in the end it gives rise to unlimited pleasure, just as a stinging ointment
applied by a physician cures his patient’s infected eye. In addition,
suffering helps protect the confidentiality of devotional service by
discouraging intrusions by the faithless, and it also increases the
eagerness with which the devotees call upon the Lord to appear. If the
devotees of Lord Visnu were complacently happy all the time, He would never
have a reason to appear in this world as Krsna, Ramacandra, Nrsimha, and so
on.”

For example, Vasudeva and Devaki were imprisoned by Kamsa, their children
were mercilessly massacred in front of them, and they suffered tremendous
pain. But when Krsna finally appeared and ultimately delivered them–killed
Kamsa and delivered them–they appreciated the Lord’s presence more than if
everything had been very comfy and cozy.

Srila Prabhupada discusses the same question in Krsna, Chapter 88: “If the
Supreme Lord is all-powerful, why should He try to reform His devotee by
putting him in distress? The answer is that when the Supreme Personality of
Godhead puts His devotee in distress, it is not without purpose. Sometimes
the purpose of putting the devotee in distress is that in distress a
devotee’s feelings of attachment to Krsna are magnified. For example, when
Krsna, before leaving the capital of the Pandavas for His home, asked
Kuntidevi for permission to leave, she said, ‘My dear Krsna, in our distress
You were always present with us. Now, because we have been elevated to a
royal position, You are leaving us. I would therefore prefer to live in
distress than to lose You.’ When a devotee is put into a situation of
distress, his devotional activities are accelerated. Therefore, to show
special favor to a devotee, the Lord sometimes puts him into distress. . . .
Besides that, it is stated that the sweetness of happiness is sweeter to
those who have tasted bitterness.”

“Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti here counters a possible objection: ‘What fault
would there be in God’s incarnating for some other reason than to deliver
saintly persons from suffering?’ The learned acarya responds, ‘Yes, my dear
brother, this makes good sense, but you are not expert in understanding
spiritual moods. Please listen: It is at night that the sunrise becomes
attractive, during the hot summer that cold water gives comfort, and during
the cold winter months that warm water is pleasing. Lamplight appears
attractive in darkness, not in the glaring light of day, and when one is
distressed by hunger, food tastes especially good.’ In other words, to
strengthen his devotees’ mood of dependence on Him and longing for Him, the
Lord arranges for His devotees to go through some suffering, and when He
appears in order to deliver them, their gratitude and transcendental
pleasure are boundless.” (SB 10.88.8 purport)

And as explained by Srila Prabhupada in Krsna, when the devotee is bereft of
material riches and is deserted by his relatives, friends, and family
members, because he has no one to look after him he completely takes shelter
of the Lord. And from within his heart, the Lord inspires him to surrender
to His devotees:

sa yada vitathodyogo
 nirvinnah syad dhanehaya
mat-paraih krta-maitrasya
 karisye mad-anugraham

“When he becomes frustrated in his attempts to make money and instead
befriends My devotees, I bestow My special mercy upon him.

tad brahma paramam suksmam
 cin-matram sad anantakam
vijnayatmataya dhirah
 samsarat parimucyate

“A person who has thus become sober fully realizes the Absolute as the
highest truth, the most subtle and perfect manifestation of spirit, the
transcendental existence without end. In this way realizing that the Supreme
Truth is the foundation of his own existence, he is freed from the cycle of
material life.” (SB 10.88.9, 10)

Krsna says, “My devotee is not deterred by any adverse conditions of life;
he always remains firm and steady. Therefore I give Myself to him, and I
favor him so that he can achieve the highest success of life.” (Krsna
Chapter 88)

Although it is true that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave the holy name and love
of God without any condition, one can accept these gifts fully only if one’s
heart is completely cleansed of material desires and attachments. Therefore
Locana dasa Thakura, a great acarya almost contemporary to Lord Caitanya,
requests everyone, bhaja bhaja bhai, caitanya-nitai: “My dear brothers, I
request that you just worship Lord Caitanya and Nityananda with firm faith
and conviction.” He sings,

bhaja bhaja bhai, caitanya-nitai
   sudrdha visvasa kori’
visaya chadiya, se rase majiya,
   mukhe bolo hari hari

Explaining this verse, Srila Prabhupada says, “Don’t think that this
chanting and dancing will not lead to the desired goal. It will. It is the
assurance of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu that one will get all perfection by
this process. Therefore one must chant with firm faith and conviction
(visvasa kori’). But what is the process? The process is visaya chadiya, se
rase majiya. If one wants to be Krsna conscious by this process, one has to
give up his engagement in sense gratification. That is the only restriction.
If one gives up sense gratification, it is sure that he will reach the
desired goal. Mukhe bolo hari hari: one simply has to chant, ‘Hare Krsna!
Hari Hari!’ without any motive of sense gratification.”

And we are not alone in our efforts. The Lord, the scriptures, the devotees,
the acaryas, the Deities, the holy names–they are all there to help us.

Hare Krsna.

One response to “From Lust to Love–With Krsna’s Mercy

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