Lord Balarama’s Appearance
A Talk by Giriraj Swami
October 16, 2008
Today is the appearance day of Lord Balarama, the Personality of Godhead who
is the first expansion of Lord Krsna, the original Personality of Godhead.
As Krsna states in the Bhagavad-gita (4.7):
yada yada hi dharmasya
glanir bhavati bharata
tadatmanam srjamy aham
“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O
descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion–at that time I
descend Myself.” Lord Krsna says, srjamy aham: “I manifest Myself.” He
doesn’t take birth like an ordinary human being; He manifests Himself in His
original spiritual form.
For what purpose?
vinasaya ca duskrtam
sambhavami yuge yuge
“To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to
reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after
millennium.” (Bg 4.8)
He manifests Himself to protect the devotees, annihilate the demons, and
reestablish the principles of religion.
In every sphere of activity in the material world there is deterioration;
everything in the material world declines. A new house, for example, is very
nice, but it gradually deteriorates, and eventually, when it is too old, it
has to be rebuilt. In the same way, our performance of spiritual duties
deteriorates, whether we are individuals, families, communities, or a
society. The Lord comes in order to establish religious principles (dharma)
and practice, but over time religious practice declines, and so He manifests
Himself again and again. We all know how prone we are to allow our practice
to deteriorate. Thus, on auspicious occasions like today, Lord Balarama’s
appearance day, we can pray to the Lord to manifest Himself and help us to
become reestablished in our religious principles and practice.
Srimad-Bhagavatam, relating the appearance of Lord Balarama, elaborates on
these two Gita verses. As it states, when the earth was overburdened by
demonic rulers who had amassed large military forces armed with deadly
weapons to wage war for personal gain, Lord Brahma, the chief of the
demigods in this universe, approached the shore of the ocean of milk. There,
accompanied by Lord Siva and other celestial beings, he worshiped Lord
Visnu, the supreme God of all gods. In response, Lord Visnu gave him
instructions, which Lord Brahma in turn conveyed to the demigods. He told
them that the Lord would soon appear on earth to diminish the burden of the
world and that the demigods, to assist Him, should take birth in the Yadu
dynasty. Lord Brahma further stated that Lord Balarama, who is also known as
Sankarsana, would precede the Lord and serve Him in every respect:
agrato bhavita devo
“The foremost manifestation of Krsna is Sankarsana, who is known as Ananta.
He is the origin of all incarnations within this material world. Previous to
the appearance of Lord Krsna, this original Sankarsana will appear as
Baladeva, just to please the Supreme Lord Krsna in His transcendental
pastimes.” (SB 10.1.24)
Lord Brahma told them as well that Yogamaya, the personal potency of the
Lord, would also appear and assist the Lord in His mission.
Many of you may know the history that immediately preceded the appearance of
Krsna and Balarama. Vasudeva, a great devotee in the Yadu dynasty, wedded
Devaki, another pure devotee. After their marriage, Vasudeva mounted his
chariot with his newly wedded wife to return home, and Devaki’s brother
Kamsa, to please his sister, took the reins of the horses to drive the
chariot. Along the way, Kamsa heard a voice from an invisible source telling
him, “You fool, the eighth child of the woman you are carrying will kill
you!” Kamsa, a great demon, became enraged and was ready to kill his own
sister on the day of her marriage. But Vasudeva intervened and appealed to
him to desist. He said, “How could a qualified person like you kill a
woman–your own sister–on the occasion of her marriage? In any case, one
day you will die, and in your next life you will have to suffer the
reactions to your present activities.” Still, Kamsa was so shameless and
cruel that he persisted, and Vasudeva, to save his wife from imminent death,
told him, “You have nothing to fear from Devaki, according to the omen. It
is her son that will kill you. So I promise to deliver all her sons, who are
the cause of your fear, into your hands.” Kamsa, having faith in Vasudeva’s
word, was pacified. Still, he imprisoned Vasudeva and Devaki. And year after
year, as their children were born, Vasudeva very dutifully delivered them to
Kamsa, who mercilessly killed them.
Now we shall read from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Ten, Chapter Two: “Prayers
by the Demigods.”
gaccha devi vrajam bhadre
anyas ca kamsa-samvigna
vivaresu vasanti hi
The Lord ordered Yogamaya: O My potency, who are worshipable for the entire
world and whose nature is to bestow good fortune upon all living entities,
go to Vraja, where there live many cowherd men and their wives. In that very
beautiful land, where many cows reside, Rohini, the wife of Vasudeva, is
living at the home of Nanda Maharaja. Other wives of Vasudeva are also
living there incognito because of fear of Kamsa. Please go there.
PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada
Nanda-gokula, the residence of King Nanda, was itself very beautiful, but
when Yogamaya was ordered to go there and encourage the devotees with
fearlessness, it became even more beautiful and safe. Because Yogamaya had
the ability to create such an atmosphere, the Lord ordered her to go to
COMMENT by Giriraj Swami
King Kamsa was such a demon that he was performing all sorts of atrocities,
and Vasudeva was afraid for the safety of his wives. In Vedic culture, the
ksatriyas in particular were allowed to marry more than one wife. Now that
idea seems a bit foreign or odd, but it had its purpose in Vedic
civilization. The ksatriyas then were powerful; they could maintain many
wives. But, as predicted in Srimad-Bhagavatam, as the present age of Kali
progresses, or deteriorates, a husband will have to struggle just to
maintain one wife, one family, and if he is somehow able to do so nicely, he
is considered a great success in life.
Previously, people were more qualified. They were more opulent. The
ksatriyas could have more than one wife, though Lord Ramacandra took
eka-patni-vrata, a vow to accept only one wife–Sitadevi. Vasudeva had more
than one wife, but he was responsible. He didn’t want any harm to befall any
of them, and he arranged for their protection. Vasudeva and Devaki had
relatives, who were also family friends, in Gokula–Nanda and Yasoda. And so
Vasudeva placed one of his wives, Rohini, under the care of Nanda and
Yasoda. And after Balarama had entered the womb of Devaki, Lord Krsna
ordered Yogamaya to transfer Him from the womb of Devaki into the womb of
devakya jathare garbham
sesakhyam dhama mamakam
tat sannikrsya rohinya
Within the womb of Devaki is My partial plenary expansion known as
Sankarsana or Sesa. Without difficulty, transfer Him into the womb of
The first plenary expansion of Krsna is Baladeva, also known as Sesa. The
Sesa incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead supports the entire
universe, and the eternal mother of this incarnation is Mother Rohini.
“Because I am going into the womb of Devaki,” the Lord told Yogamaya, “the
Sesa incarnation has already gone there and made suitable arrangements so
that I may live there. Now He should enter the womb of Rohini, His eternal
In this connection, one may ask how the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who
is always situated transcendentally, could enter the womb of Devaki, which
had previously been entered by the six asuras, the sad-garbhas. Does this
mean that the sad-garbhasuras were equal to the transcendental body of the
Supreme Personality of Godhead? The following answer is given by Srila
Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura.
As promised, Vasudeva delivered the first six sons of Devaki to Kamsa, who
killed them one after the other. They were actually the six asuras who,
because of events from their past life, had taken birth in Devaki’s womb to
be killed by Kamsa. So the question is, Krsna is going to enter the womb of
Devaki–does that mean He is on the same level as these asuras who took
birth from her womb and were killed by Kamsa? Visvanatha Cakravarti
The entire creation, as well as its individual parts, is an expansion of the
energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore, even though the
Lord enters the material world, He does not do so. This is explained by the
Lord Himself in the Bhagavad-gita (9.4-5):
maya tatam idam sarvam
na caham tesv avasthitah
na ca mat-sthani bhutani
pasya me yogam aisvaram
bhuta-bhrn na ca bhuta-stho
The idea is that the Lord is everywhere within His creation but at the same
time is not there. This appears to be contradictory. The contradiction is
resolved, however, when we understand that the Lord in His original form as
Krsna in Goloka Vrndavana is not in the material creation; He remains aloof,
in His divine abode, enjoying sublime pastimes with His loving devotees.
Still, by His expansion as the Supersoul, the Paramatma, He pervades His
A pure devotee is always transcendentally situated because of executing nine
different processes of bhakti-yoga. Thus situated in devotional service, a
devotee, although in the material world, is not in the material world. Yet a
devotee always fears, “Because I am associated with the material world, so
many contaminations affect me.” Therefore he is always alert in fear, which
gradually diminishes his material association.
As stated earlier, Yogamaya appeared in Gokula to create
fearlessness–freedom from fear of the attacks of demons. Yet a pure devotee
is always afraid of material contamination. Once, Srila Prabhupada gave a
class at the Bhaktivedanta Manor in which he told the audience, “The
difference between you and me is that you can fall down but I cannot fall
down.” Later, after the class, Srila Prabhupada was praying in front of the
Deities, and one disciple asked him, “What were you praying?” And Srila
Prabhupada replied, “I was praying that I may never fall down.” The disciple
responded, “But in your talk you said that you can never fall down.” And
Srila Prabhupada replied, “Yes, because I am always praying never to fall
down, I can never fall down.” So, we should always be afraid of the material
energy (maya), of being deluded by maya and being diverted from the true
path of Krsna consciousness.
Symbolically, Mother Devaki’s constant fear of Kamsa was purifying her. A
pure devotee should always fear material association, and in this way all
the asuras of material association will be killed, as the sad-garbhasuras
were killed by Kamsa.
Especially devotees in the grhastha-asrama may have to associate with the
material energy, to earn money to maintain their families. Like it or not,
they may have to associate with materialistic people. And there is always a
danger that by their associating with materialistic people, their
consciousness will be affected. So they should be afraid of material
association. Of course, circumstantially we have to interact with such
people, and we may do so as people normally interact in the workplace. But
internally we should be conscious that if we associate with them too much,
in the wrong way, it can affect us, and we can become weakened in our
determination to progress in Krsna consciousness. We may start to compromise
in different ways, which will weaken us even more.
It is said that from the mind, Marici appears. In other words, Marici is an
incarnation of the mind. Marici has six sons: Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha,
Mada, and Matsarya (lust, anger, greed, illusion, madness, and envy). The
Supreme Personality of Godhead appears in pure devotional service. This is
confirmed in the Vedas: bhaktir evainam darsayati. Only bhakti can bring one
in contact with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Supreme Personality
of Godhead appeared from the womb of Devaki, and therefore Devaki
symbolically represents bhakti, and Kamsa symbolically represents material
fear. When a pure devotee always fears material association, his real
position of bhakti is manifest, and he naturally becomes uninterested in
material enjoyment. When the six sons of Marici are killed by such fear and
one is freed from material contamination, within the womb of bhakti the
Supreme Personality of Godhead appears. Thus the seventh pregnancy of Devaki
signifies the appearance of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. After the
six sons Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Mada, and Matsarya are killed, the Sesa
incarnation creates a suitable situation for the appearance of the Supreme
Personality of Godhead. In other words, when one awakens his natural Krsna
consciousness, Lord Krsna appears. This is the explanation given by Srila
Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura.
There are different stages of advancement in devotional service, and when
one is completely purified, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is revealed
within the heart. That purified stage is called vasudeva, or suddha-sattva.
It is the same name as that of Krsna’s father, Vasudeva, because Krsna first
appeared in the purified mind of Vasudeva and then from the mind of Vasudeva
He was transferred into the purified mind–and womb–of Devaki.
So it is possible that the Lord will manifest Himself to a devotee who is
sincere in the practice of devotional service. And before He manifests
Himself fully, as He did for Vasudeva and Devaki, and for Nanda and Yasoda,
He manifests Himself as the holy name (as we all experience when we try to
chant without offense); as holy scripture–Srimad-Bhagavatam, Srimad
Bhagavad-gita, or Sri Caitanya-caritamrta; as the holy dhama–Sri Vrndavana,
Mayapur, or Puri; as the Deity; and in the hearts, and words, of His pure
devakyah putratam subhe
prapsyami tvam yasodayam
O all-auspicious Yogamaya, I shall then appear with My full six opulences as
the son of Devaki, and you will appear as the daughter of Mother Yasoda, the
queen of Maharaja Nanda.
This is the history. Balarama, or Sesa, first entered the womb of Devaki as
her seventh son, but by the arrangement of Krsna, through the agency of
Yogamaya, He was transferred to the womb of Rohini in Gokula. And thus it
appeared that Devaki had a miscarriage. But it is Sesa’s service to arrange
for Krsna’s comfort, and so He entered her womb first and created a
favorable situation in which Lord Krsna could reside. We always see pictures
of Lord Visnu with Sesa, who acts as the Lord’s umbrella and throne. Sesa
expands Himself in so many ways to facilitate the pleasure and comfort of
After being transferred to the womb of Rohini, His eternal mother, Balarama
took birth in Gokula. His stay within the womb of Devaki was just a
temporary arrangement to create a favorable situation for Krsna. Then Krsna
Himself entered the womb of Devaki through the mind of Vasudeva and took
For the duration of Their infancy, childhood, and youth, Krsna and Balarama
enjoyed Their pastimes together in Gokula, in Vraja. Then, when They were
around the age of sixteen, They went to Mathura to participate in a
wrestling match arranged by Kamsa. Ultimately Krsna killed Kamsa, but Krsna
and Balarama did not then return to Vrndavana. They had many pastimes in
Mathura and Dvaraka. Because They had not yet received a proper, formal
education, Vasudeva and Devaki arranged for Them to study under a guru,
Sandipani Muni, from whom They learned sixty-four different arts and
sciences. And then They went on to rule Mathura and, finally, Dvaraka.
It is, one could say, a peculiar situation that Krsna was actually the son
of Vasudeva and Devaki but that He was raised by Nanda and Yasoda and never
really spent time with His original parents until many years later. And then
He was separated from the parents who had raised Him, and He didn’t see them
again for many, many, many years.
After Krsna and Balarama left Vrndavana, the Vraja-vasis were plunged into
an ocean of separation. Their only business was crying for Krsna and
Balarama. Of course, their crying was not like our material crying. Theirs
was transcendental ecstasy. And in that separation, they were experiencing
association. Still, they were separated, and many years later, when Krsna
was living in royal opulence in Dvaraka, He went to Kuruksetra for a solar
eclipse, to perform sacrifices and give in charity, as advised in sastra.
At Kuruksetra there was a great reunion, not only between Krsna and Balarama
and Their friends from Vrndavana, but also between Vasudeva and Devaki and
Nanda and Yasoda, and between Krsna’s various wives and Draupadi. Their
meetings and interactions with each other are very instructive for us–how
devotees relate to each other, how they think, and how they feel.
Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Ten, Chapter Eighty-Two: “Krsna Meets the
Inhabitants of Vrndavana.”
When Nanda Maharaja learned that the Yadus had arrived, led by Krsna, he
immediately went to see them. The cowherds accompanied him, their various
possessions loaded on their wagons.
Seeing Nanda, the Vrsnis were delighted and stood up like dead bodies coming
back to life. Having felt much distress at not seeing him for so long, they
held him in a tight embrace.
The Vrsnis from Dvaraka returned to life when they saw Nanda, and they
embraced him affectionately.
Vasudeva embraced Nanda Maharaja with great joy. Beside himself with
ecstatic love, Vasudeva remembered the troubles Kamsa had caused him,
forcing him to leave his sons in Gokula for Their safety.
O hero of the Kurus, Krsna and Balarama embraced Their foster parents and
bowed down to them, but Their throats were so choked up with tears of love
that the two Lords could say nothing.
Raising their two sons onto their laps and holding Them in their arms, Nanda
and saintly Mother Yasoda forgot their sorrows.
Then Rohini and Devaki both embraced the Queen of Vraja, remembering the
faithful friendship she had shown them. Their throats choking with tears,
they addressed her as follows.
[Rohini and Devaki said:] What woman could forget the unceasing friendship
you and Nanda have shown us, dear Queen of Vraja? There is no way to repay
you in this world, even with the wealth of Indra.
Before these two boys had ever seen Their real parents, you acted as Their
parents and gave Them all affectionate care, training, nourishment, and
protection. They were never afraid, good lady, because you protected Them
just as eyelids protect the eyes. Indeed, saintly persons like you never
discriminate between outsiders and their own kin.
As Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti explains, Krsna and Balarama had not seen
Their parents for two reasons: because of Their exile in Vraja, and also
because They are never actually born and therefore have no parents.
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti also describes what Devaki thought before
speaking this verse: “Alas, because for so long these two sons of mine had
you, Yasoda, as Their guardian and mother, and because They were immersed in
such a vast ocean of ecstatic loving dealings with you, now that you are
once more before Them They are too distracted to even notice me. Also, you
are behaving as if insane and blind with love for Them, showing millions of
times more maternal affection than I possess. Thus you simply keep staring
at us, your friends, without recognizing us. So let me bring you back to
reality on the pretext of some affectionate words.”
There are many points here. First is how much Devaki appreciated Mother
Yasoda for taking care of her son Krsna. Before He had even seen His real
parents, Yasoda and Nanda had acted as His and Balarama’s parents and cared
for Them, taught Them, nourished Them, and protected Them. And thus Devaké’s
sons never had any fear. And she praises Yasoda for being a saintly person
who never discriminates between outsiders and her own kin. Of course, on
another level Krsna is the Supersoul; He is the most intimate friend and the
supreme lovable object for everyone. But in terms of the pastimes, Yasoda
did not discriminate that Krsna was not her own son; she and Nanda raised
Him as if He were their own.
Also, Devaki was completely free from envy. She saw that Krsna (with
Balarama) was so overwhelmed with love that He forgot everything. He just
rushed into the arms of Mother Yasoda. And Devaki not only admitted but
actually appreciated that Yasoda had more love for Krsna than even she did.
These are some of the qualities that devotees develop in Krsna
consciousness. They appreciate the service of others, and they are not
envious. They are happy to acknowledge those who have more love for Krsna
than they do, or render better service to Krsna than they do. And they are
full of love. It is described here that when the Vrsnis saw Nanda and
Yasoda–even though they had the association of Krsna in Dvaraka and were
with Him in Kuruksetra–they felt as if their lives had come back to them.
They had so much love and affection for them, and they were most grateful to
them for their service to Krsna.
Then, when Devaki failed to get any response from Yasoda even after
addressing her, Rohini said, “My dear Devaki, it’s impossible just now to
rouse her out of this ecstatic trance. We are crying in the wilderness, and
her two sons are no less bound up in the ropes of affection for her than she
is for Them.
Yasoda had lost consciousness of everything other than her sons, Krsna and
Balarama. And again, Yasoda did not discriminate, that “Krsna is my son, but
Balarama is Rohini’s.” Nor did Rohini discriminate that “Balarama is my son,
but Krsna is Yasoda’s.” Both mothers were mothers to both sons, and both
sons saw both as Their mothers.
This type of love develops with Krsna consciousness, but it is also
something that we are meant to cultivate. In Srila Prabhupada’s last days,
in Vrndavana, His Holiness Tamal Krishna Goswami exclaimed, “Srila
Prabhupada, your disciples love you so much.” And Srila Prabhupada replied,
“Your love for me will be shown by how much you cooperate with each other.”
Many authorities, both spiritual and mundane, have commented that love is
not just a sentiment but is also a process. Srila Prabhupada said that if we
really love him–if we want to show our love for him–we will cooperate with
each other for his pleasure, which ultimately means Krsna’s pleasure (yasya
By the family of Vasudeva and Devaki and the family of Nanda and Yasoda
cooperating for the service of Lord Balarama, the two families were brought
together. And that was one of Lord Balarama’s purposes, as foretold by
ayam hi rohini-putro
ramayan suhrdo gunaih
akhyasyate rama iti
baladhikyad balam viduh
sankarsanam usanty api
“Gargamuni said: This child, the son of Rohini, will give all happiness to
His relatives and friends by His transcendental qualities. Therefore He will
be known as Rama. And because He will manifest extraordinary bodily
strength, He will also be known as Bala. Moreover, because He unites two
families–Vasudeva’s family and the family of Nanda Maharaja–He will be
known as Sankarsana.”(SB 10.8.12)
In the purport, Srila Prabhupada explains: “Baladeva was actually the son of
Devaki, but He was transferred from Devaki’s womb to that of Rohini. This
fact was not disclosed. According to a statement in the Hari-vamsa:
pratyuvaca tato ramah
sarvams tan abhitah sthitan
yadavesv api sarvesu
bhavanto mama vallabhah
Gargamuni did disclose to Nanda Maharaja that Balarama would be known as
Sankarsana because of uniting two families–the yadu-vamsa and the vamsa of
Nanda Maharaja–one of which was known as ksatriya and the other as vaisya.
Both families had the same original forefather, the only difference being
that Nanda Maharaja was born of a vaisya wife whereas Vasudeva was born of a
ksatriya wife. Later, Nanda Maharaja married a vaisya wife, and Vasudeva
married a ksatriya wife. So although the families of Nanda Maharaja and
Vasudeva both came from the same father, they were divided as ksatriya and
vaisya. Now Baladeva united them, and therefore He was known as Sankarsana.”
By Krsna consciousness, by cooperating to serve the spiritual master and the
Supreme Personality of Godhead, different individuals, families, castes, and
communities can all be united.
Even Balarama considers Himself to be a servant of Lord Krsna. Balarama is
the first expansion of Krsna and is the original spiritual master, but He,
too, has the sentiment that He is a servant of Krsna. In fact, every
conscious being is imbued with the sentiment of being a servant of Krsna.
Balarama, and all of Krsna’s expansions–Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna,
Aniruddha, Karanodakasayi Visnu, Garbhodakasayi Visnu, Ksirodakasayi
Visnu–all have the sentiment of being servants of Krsna.
ekale isvara krsna, ara saba bhrtya
yare yaiche nacaya, se taiche kare nrtya
“Lord Krsna alone is the supreme controller, and all others are His
servants. They dance as He makes them do so.” (Cc Adi 5.142)
apanake bhrtya kari’ krsne prabhu jane
krsnera kalara kala apanake mane
“[Balarama] considers Himself a servant and knows Krsna to be His master.
Thus He regards Himself as a fragment of His plenary portion.” (Cc Adi
It was stated in the beginning that Balarama, or Sankarsana, would appear
prior to Krsna in order to serve Krsna and please Him in every respect.
agrato bhavita devo
“The foremost manifestation of Krsna is Sankarsana, who is known as Ananta.
He is the origin of all incarnations within this material world. Previous to
the appearance of Lord Krsna, this original Sankarsana will appear as
Baladeva, just to please the Supreme Lord Krsna in His transcendental
pastimes.” (SB 10.1.24)
And that is the duty of the spiritual master–to serve and please the
Supreme Lord. Once, Srila Prabhupada asked some disciples, “What is the duty
of the spiritual master?” And then he gave the answer: “The duty of the
spiritual master is to serve Krsna. And the duty of the disciples is to
assist the spiritual master.” Balarama is the original spiritual master
because, as Krsna’s first expansion, He is the first servant of Krsna, and
He is the first instructor about Krsna. The spiritual master is considered
to be the representative of Lord Balarama, or Nityananda Prabhu.
So, Srila Prabhupada said, “Your love for me will be shown by how you
cooperate.” In other words, love is not just a sentiment but is expressed
through practical activity. Further, it is evoked by practical activity;
loving sentiment is increased by devotional service. The word “cooperate”
consists of “co-,” which means “together,” “jointly”; and “operate,” which
means to “perform a function,” to “exert power or influence.” To cooperate
means that together we perform some function. And we see the perfect example
of cooperation in Vrndavana. Nanda and Yasoda and Rohini cooperated to raise
Krsna and Balarama. In a broader sense, they cooperated with Vasudeva and
Devaki to raise Them. And there was no envy.
Srila Prabhupada gave the example of the different parts of the body, which
cooperate for the sake of the whole, to serve the stomach. If the different
parts try to enjoy independent of the stomach, they won’t be able to. They
will fail–and suffer. Srila Prabhupada gave the example that if there is a
nice rasagulla and the hand thinks, “Why should I give all the food to the
stomach? I will enjoy myself” and then tries to enjoy directly, it won’t be
able to. The food is meant to be given to the stomach, and when it goes to
the stomach, all the different parts of the body benefit.
Srila Prabhupada elaborated on this analogy by saying that once, the
different parts of the body went on strike, thinking, “We do all the work,
and the stomach gets all the food. Why should we work for the sake of the
stomach?” So they decided to go on strike. As a result, all the parts of the
body suffered. They became weak. Then they had another meeting and decided,
“We were better off when we were serving the stomach.” So they went back to
serving the stomach.
Krsna is the focus of all devotional service. That is the meaning of
bhakti–to serve and please Krsna. And the medium for that service is the
spiritual master, who represents Lord Balarama, or Lord Nityananda. So,
Srila Prabhupada said, “Your love for me will be shown by how you
cooperate.” That means we work together, co-operate. We perform the same
function, but together, for the pleasure of guru and Krsna. And in that
service there is no envy. There is only appreciation and gratitude. Each
devotee thinks, “You’ve helped me so much by doing this.” That consciousness
develops naturally from bhakti, but at the same time we have to practice; we
are in the stage of sadhana-bhakti, devotional service in practice. When we
practice cooperation, serving the other devotees and appreciating their
service, bhakti develops, and ultimately Krsna manifests Himself. Krsna and
all of His associates are revealed to us in that state of pure devotion.
Are there any questions or comments?
Bhakta Adam: What does it mean when you say that Krsna and Balarama took
birth from the womb? What is the childbirth process of Krsna? Does He simply
appear and His mother thinks that she has gone through childbirth? Because I
remember that Mother Yasoda–it says in Krsna book–Mother Yasoda was so
tired from the labor of childbirth that she fell asleep and could not
remember whether she had given birth to a male or a female child.
Giriraj Swami: Krsna is always everywhere, so He is already in the womb. He
is in the heart of every living entity, in every atom, in the space between
the atoms. He is everywhere. So He is already in the womb in His Paramatma
feature, which is not different from His original feature as Krsna. The
Paramatma is an expansion of His original feature. And when the time came,
the original Krsna entered the purified mind, or heart, of Vasudeva, and
from there He was transferred to the purified heart of Devaki. He was
transferred to her womb–took up residence in her womb–where Sankarsana had
already made all the arrangements. Then, after a facsimile of labor and
childbirth, Krsna emerged.
But there is a difference between Mathura and Vraja. In Mathura, Krsna
appeared with four hands, holding the symbols of Visnu, fully decorated with
ornaments. And He explained His divine identity to His parents, who praised
and worshiped Him with awe and reverence. And then He transformed Himself
into the form of a natural human child–into His original form as Krsna.
In the loving service of Lord Narayana in Vaikuntha, the devotees are always
aware of His supreme opulence as God. In Mathura, the mood is mixed.
Vasudeva and Devaki had some awareness that Krsna was God–He manifested
Himself in His four-armed form to show them that He was God–but they also
had a mood of parental affection. Devaki’s motherly affection overtook her
awareness of the Lord’s opulence, and she thought, “Oh, if Kamsa finds
Krsna, he will kill Him.” So she requested the Lord to withdraw His
four-handed form, to become invisible to Kamsa. Then Vasudeva carried the
baby Krsna out of Kamsa’s prison, crossed the Yamuna, and came to Gokula,
where Yasoda had given birth. She gave birth not only to a baby girl,
Yogamaya, but also to a son, who was the original Krsna. But as you said,
because she was so exhausted by the labor of childbirth, she was unable to
understand what kind of child had been born to her–a boy or a girl or
twins. Also, because of her pure affection for Krsna, she did not understand
that He was the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Then, when Vasudeva came
with Krsna from Mathura, that Krsna was absorbed into the original Krsna who
had been born to Yasoda. And in place of Krsna, Vasudeva took Yogamaya back
In Vrndavana, the pastimes are all humanlike, nara-lila. And the Bhagavatam
says that Nanda Maharaja performed the birth (jata-karma) ceremony for
Krsna. Srila Prabhupada explains, “The jata-karma ceremony can take place
when the umbilical cord, connecting the child and the placenta, is cut. . .
. In this regard, Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura desires to prove with
evidence from many sastras that Krsna actually took birth as the son of
Yasoda before the birth of Yogamaya, who is therefore described as the
Lord’s younger sister. Even though there may be doubts about the cutting of
the umbilical cord, and even though it is possible that this was not done,
when the Supreme Personality of Godhead appears, such events are regarded as
factual.” (SB 10.5.1-2 purport) The manifestation of nara-lila is so perfect
and complete that even to that detail Krsna appeared to have taken birth
like an ordinary child. But He never was an ordinary child, and He never had
a material body.
In relation to His birth in Mathura, the Bhagavatam describes that when
Vasudeva transferred the Supreme Lord to the heart of Devaki, she became
beautiful, “just as the east becomes beautiful by carrying the rising moon.”
Later, the Bhagavatam states that “the Supreme Personality of Godhead,
Visnu, who is situated in the core of everyone’s heart, appeared from the
heart of Devaki in the dense darkness of night, like the full moon rising on
the eastern horizon.”
The moon–and the sun–always exists. The sun comes above the horizon at a
certain point, which we call sunrise, but the sun always exists. Like the
moon, it comes into our vision at a certain time. Similarly, Krsna always
exists, but He appeared from the heart, or the womb, of Devaki like the moon
appears on the eastern horizon. But Krsna is always there. He always exists.
Urvasi dasi: Maharaja, a devotee should always be aware and careful of maya
and contact with the material world, but then again it is said that a
devotee is fearless. How do you get to that point where you can count on
Krsna’s mercy and be fearless? It is so dangerous in this material world,
and maya is so strong. So, how can we actually feel that we have Krsna’s
mercy, so we can be fearless?
Giriraj Swami: The only thing a devotee really fears is forgetfulness of
Krsna–maya. If we are always conscious of Krsna and our relationship with
Him, we will not be afraid of anything else, because we know that we are not
this body, that we are part and parcel of Krsna, that our real relationship
is with Him, and that we are under His personal care and protection. If
Krsna wants us to stay longer in this body, we will, and if Krsna wants us
to leave this body, we will. We are not afraid, because we know we are under
Once, during the war between India and Pakistan in 1971, a reporter asked
Srila Prabhupada, “Suppose a hundred pure, saintly, Krsna conscious people
are meditating or discussing together, and someone comes and drops a bomb .
. .” And Srila Prabhupada replied, “Those who are Krsna conscious are not
afraid of a bomb. When they see a bomb coming, they think that Krsna desired
the bomb to come. A Krsna conscious person is never afraid of anything.
Bhayam dvitiyabhinivesatah syat. [SB 11.2.37] One who has the conception
that something can exist outside of Krsna is afraid. But one who knows that
everything is coming from Krsna has no reason to be afraid. The bomb is
coming, and the devotee says, ‘Ah, Krsna is coming.’ That is the vision of
the devotee. He thinks, ‘Krsna wants to kill me with a bomb. That’s all
right. I will be killed.’ That is Krsna consciousness.”
Still, another time, in a different situation, someone asked Srila
Prabhupada, “What if some evil person came to attack you, to kill you. Would
you protect yourself?” And Prabhupada replied, “Yes. Why should I let some
rascal harm Krsna’s devotee?” But that is different. That is not out of
fear. That is in the mood of service, to protect Krsna’s devotee. Srila
Prabhupada was not identifying with the body but was seeing himself as
Krsna’s devotee who had service to do for Krsna, so he wanted to protect
Krsna’s devotee from harm–for Krsna’s service. But personally, he was not
afraid. The only thing a devotee fears is forgetting Krsna.
And a devotee is always satisfied; he does not want anything but devotional
service. He is satisfied with devotional service but never complacent–“Now
I have done enough service.” He always wants to do more and better service.
But he is satisfied in the sense that he wants nothing but devotional
service, and he always has service. No one can take devotional service from
him, because it is ahaituky apratihata. It has no cause, and it has no
impediment. It cannot be interrupted.
sa vai pumsam paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhoksaje
“The supreme occupation [dharma] for all humanity is that by which men can
attain to loving devotional service unto the transcendent Lord. Such
devotional service must be unmotivated and uninterrupted to completely
satisfy the self.” (SB 1.2.6) So, the devotee is satisfied with devotional
service, and he always has service. No one can take that away from him. But
he is never complacent: “Oh, I have done enough now. Let me eat and sleep.”
He always wants to do more service and better service.
So, a devotee is not afraid of anything material, because he has Krsna–but
he is afraid of losing Krsna due to his own weakness. He always feels
himself to be weak and dependent on the strength that comes from superior
authorities such as Balarama. The Upanisads state, nayam atma bala-hinena
labhyah. One cannot attain the platform of self-realization without
spiritual strength, which comes from Balarama. Bala means
“strength”–spiritual strength, which comes from Lord Balarama, Lord
Nityananda, who is represented by the spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada and
the parampara. So, we feel dependent on superior authorities, but we are not
afraid of anything material, because we know that the only thing that really
matters to us is devotional service and that nothing material can take
devotional service away from us. We have nothing to lose, because we can’t
lose devotional service, and we have nothing to gain, because we don’t want
anything but devotional service. So why should we be afraid? We have nothing
to lose or to gain from anyone.
The Bhagavad-gita (6.20-23) says that upon achieving Krsna consciousness one
thinks that there is no greater gain and even in the midst of the greatest
calamity one is not shaken.
pasyann atmani tusyati
sukham atyantikam yat tad
vetti yatra na caivayam
sthitas calati tattvatah
yam labdhva caparam labham
manyate nadhikam tatah
yasmin sthito na duhkhena
tam vidyad duhkha-samyoga-
“In the stage of perfection called trance, or samadhi, one’s mind is
completely restrained from material mental activities by practice of yoga.
This perfection is characterized by one’s ability to see the self by the
pure mind and to relish and rejoice in the self. In that joyous state, one
is situated in boundless transcendental happiness, realized through
transcendental senses. Established thus, one never departs from the truth,
and upon gaining this he thinks there is no greater gain. Being situated in
such a position, one is never shaken, even in the midst of greatest
difficulty. This indeed is actual freedom from all miseries arising from
The pure devotee is fixed in consciousness because he has what he
wants–Krsna–and no matter what happens externally, no one can take Krsna
from him. Queen Kunti prayed to Lord Krsna for calamities, because in the
midst of all her difficulties Krsna was with her and her sons. In terms of
lila, Krsna was with them in Hastinapura, but when the calamities were over
and Maharaja Yudhisthira was installed on the throne, Krsna was ready to
leave. So, Kunti prayed, “When we were in difficulty, You were with us, but
now that we are happily situated in our kingdom, You are leaving us.” So she
prayed, “Let the calamities come again and again. I would rather have all
the calamities and have You with us than be situated in material opulence
and comfort and lose You.” She concluded:
vipadah santu tah sasvat
tatra tatra jagad-guro
bhavato darsanam yat syad
“I wish that all those calamities would happen again and again so that we
could see You again and again, for seeing You means that we will no longer
see repeated births and deaths.” (SB 1.8.25)
Sometimes being in material difficulty can serve as an impetus to Krsna
consciousness. And a devotee may fear being in too comfortable a position
lest he or she forget Krsna, lose his or her Krsna consciousness. That is
the only fear.
Urvasi dasi: It is an interesting thing, because in my own life, when I
examine it, I feel like I am in constant fear of being distracted from
Krsna. It is always check and balance, check and balance. I am afraid of my
mind going away and being distracted. And yet when I think about it, I am
really not afraid of anything in the material world, because I know that
everything that comes into my life is Krsna. For some reason it is being
brought into my life. So it is an interesting thing, being full of fear and
having no fear.
Giriraj Swami: Indeed. There is a nice verse by King Rahugana of the Sindh
province. He was puffed up because he was the king, and he had forced a
great devotee, a paramahamsa who had hidden his exalted position, Jada
Bharata, to carry his palanquin. And when he felt that Jada Bharata was not
carrying it properly, he abused and reviled him like anything. But Jada
Bharata was unaffected. Jada Bharata didn’t want to step on any insects on
the way, and because he was always trying to sidestep the ants, the king was
jostled inside the palanquin. So he sarcastically criticized Jada Bharata,
who was actually young and strong, by saying, “You seem to be very old and
weak. You can’t carry the palanquin properly.” Yet, however the king tried
to insult him, Jada Bharata, being completely free from bodily
identification, remained undisturbed.
Eventually Jada Bharata enlightened the king with transcendental knowledge.
He told him, “I am not the body; I am the soul. I am not fat or thin or weak
or strong or any of the things that you said about the body, because I am
the soul and have nothing to do with the body. And so I remain peaceful.”
After receiving sublime spiritual instructions from his carrier, the king
realized that Jada Bharata was a great paramahamsa. He descended from his
palanquin and fell at Jada Bharata’s feet, desiring to be freed from his
offenses against the great saint. And King Rahugana said,
naham visanke sura-raja-vajran
na tryaksa-sulan na yamasya dandat
chanke bhrsam brahma-kulavamanat
“My dear sir, I am not at all afraid of the thunderbolt of King Indra, nor
am I afraid of the serpentine, piercing trident of Lord Siva. I do not care
about the punishment of Yamaraja, the superintendent of death, nor am I
afraid of fire, scorching sun, moon, wind, or the weapons of Kuvera. Yet I
am afraid of offending a brahmana. I am very much afraid of this.” (SB
So, we are not afraid of any external, material force, but we are afraid of
losing our Krsna consciousness. And the quickest way to lose it is to offend
a devotee. So, it is that same idea. We are not afraid of any material
danger, but we are afraid of maya–afraid of committing offenses, especially
vaisnava-aparadha, that will take us away from Krsna, from loving service to
Krsna and His devotees.
Sri Sri Krsna-Balarama ki jaya!
Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai ki jaya!
Sri Giriraja Govardhana ki jaya!
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
Sri guru-parampara ki jaya!