The Benedictine Tree of Divine Aspiration
Excerpt: Life's Destination
This is a lecture by His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaj to students at a college in Mauritius. His Divine Grace visited that tropical island off the east coast of Africa as part of his 1992/1993 World Tour. This lecture is taken from Chapter 5 of The Benedictine Tree of Divine Aspiration, published in November 1993.
Honorable teachers, respectable Vaishnavas, and my beloved students: I feel very fortunate that you have given me this chance to speak about Krishna consciousness. I am especially indebted to the authorities of this college: because of their kindness it is possible for me to meet with you all today.
When I first came here to Mauritius, I noticed some very auspicious symptoms. I noticed that the trees bear so much fruit, the earth is very fertile, and all the people are very conscious of religion. I was surprised to see that this country is like a heaven on earth! I also saw that many mangoes had fallen from the trees, and many other trees bore ripe papayas and other fruit, yet nobody collected that fruit. Seeing these symptoms immediately inspired me to remember Sri Vrindavan Dham. There we find ripe fruit on the trees everywhere, and the souls residing there are full of the mood of service. They are all eternally engaged in the divine service of the Supreme Lord. We find such descriptions of Goloka-Vrindavan, the holy abode of Lord Krishna, in Sri Brahma Samhita. This holy book was brought by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu from South India, and it is widely accepted by religious authorities as the authentic treatise depicting the teachings of Sriman Mahaprabhu.
isvarah paramah krsnah
anadir adir govindah
"The Supreme Personality of Godhead -- the Embodiment of Truth, Consciousness, and Joy -- is Govinda, or Krishna. He is beginningless, the origin of all that be, and the cause of all causes." [Sri Brahma Samhitha 5:1] That is, the actual form of each one of us originates from the sac-cid-ananda-vigraha of Krishna.
All the Vedic scriptures teach us that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Other "gods" also have their own abodes and full powers, but only as expansions of the power of the infinite Personality of Godhead, Krishna. If you subtract infinite power from infinite power, you still have infinite power, just as zero minus zero equals zero.
om purnam adah purnam idam
purnat purnam udacyate
purnasya purnam adaya
A proper examination of the Vedic Scriptures will leave us with no doubt that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Throughout the whole world people are chanting the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra, and through that we can also have some understanding. In all the scriptures -- the Vedanta, the Upanisads, the eighteen Puranas -- we find that the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna, are chanted. Still the question arises: "What is Krishna consciousness, and why should we worship Krishna?"
Love, Beauty, Charm, Ecstasy
We are in want. We are not fulfilled within ourselves -- for that fulfillment we must worship Krishna. What is our want? We need love, we need beauty, we need charm, we need ecstasy, and so on. These are essential for our soul, which is always in a state of living, and has the properties of thinking, feeling, and willing. The soul can move, and the jada, or the material, cannot move; but even within matter, there are living souls. Within a tree is living a soul -- this has also been proved by scientists such as Jagadish Bose. This knowledge is not new: in the ancient Vedas we will find all knowledge given in a living way. The knowledge given by the Vedas is that behind everything is the living soul, and if we study the Vedas we will find this out.
The property of the living soul is thinking, feeling, and willing. One who has these properties must necessarily need to do something. He can do good, or he can do bad. If he does good, he will get a good reaction; if he does bad, he will get a bad reaction. Every action has a reaction. Newton's third law states that "every action has an equal and opposite reaction." We should therefore try to do good things, otherwise we shall not receive a good reaction. And to get relief from all reaction, we must become Krishna conscious. If we surrender fully to Krishna, everything will go directly into His account. If all our actions are done in Krishna consciousness, no reaction will come to us. This process has been given in Srimad Bhagavatam and Srimad Bhagavad Gita.
In this gathering you are all students and you all wish to know something about religion, specifically something about Krishna consciousness. If you try to read Srimad Bhagavad Gita, you will be benefitted. Everyone has the chance to improve his future by reading this book -- whether he is a karmi, or a fruitive worker, a jnani, or a seeker of knowledge, a yogi, wanting power to conquer the environment, or a bhakta, who is always surrendered and fully dependant upon the knowledge of Krishna consciousness. Everyone can gain some good future prospect from reading Srimad Bhagavad Gita.
yuktam vairagyam ucyate
The real benefit to be gained is that without mundane attachment we are to engage in service to Krishna. [Bhakti Rasamrtasindhu 1:2:255]
asocyan anvasocas tvam
prajna-vadams ca bhasase
gatasun agatasums ca
Krishna said to Arjuna: "You speak like a wise man, yet you are suffering from material happiness and sadness. You show yourself to be knowledgeable in the Vedas [pandit] but you are not actually following that line." [Bhagavad Gita 2:11] Then Krishna started to give some knowledge of the Vedas to Arjuna. He explained that there is a certain plane, and if we can live there, no reaction will come to us. Krishna says:
niyatam kuru karma tvam
karma jyayo hy akarmanah
sarira-yatrapi ca te
na prasiddhyed akarmanah
"If you do not do anything, you will not get anything. You will not even be able to survive! You must do something, so try to do something good." [Bhagavad Gita 3:8]
yajnarthat karmano 'nyatra
loko 'yam karma-bandhanah
tad-artham karma kaunteya
"O Arjuna, this whole world of living beings comes into bondage by their actions, except action performed as selfless duty offered to Lord Vishnu. Therefore, being free from attachment, fully engage in the performance of action for the purpose of such sacrifice." [Bhagavad Gita 3:9]
Actually, we need to do something good even from childhood. This is the knowledge of Srimad Bhagavatam and Krishna consciousness. Whenever we gain any knowledge, we should try to use that for a good purpose -- not just for a good purpose, but we should use it in a way that will be good for everybody. If we proceed in this way, we shall be supremely benefitted in our lives as a result.
Failure Is The Pillar Of Success
When students study for promotion to a higher class, they endeavor with heart and soul, but not everyone is able to get the desired result because they may have many types of deficiencies. Some may fail in their class, but if they remember that "failure is the pillar of success," they can get the strength to try and try again. Even in the mundane world we must apply this process.
At first nobody can walk. When a very young child first tries to walk, he falls down, but again he tries to walk. He walks, falls down, walks, falls down, gradually gaining in strength and capacity until he is finally able to walk properly. In this way karmis, jnanis, and yogis have some prospect. But the super prospect is with those who are fully surrendered to Krishna. By their own free will they march in the line of Krishna consciousness, and they gain the benefit accordingly. In the Srimad Bhagavatam we find this advice of Prahlad Maharaj to his student classmates:
kaumara acaret prajno
dharman bhagavatan iha
durlabham manusam janma
tad apy adhruvam arthadam
Prahlad was a devotee of Lord Nrsimhadev. His classmate friends were only between five and twelve years of age, yet when he met with them in their teacher's house he would urge them to inquire about and practice spiritual life even from childhood.
We have fortunately gained this human body. We are jivas, or souls, and we may be given any type of body according to our past activities. By some good previous activity we have been given this human body. In the human body there is a much greater capacity and possibility to learn and realize many things. Other species such as dogs, cows, etc., have only a very limited power of understanding -- just enough to try to achieve some basic happiness. Real happiness, however, is not possible in this mundane world, but some realization is possible.
We use knowledge in many ways to try to gain happiness and a good result. The best thing for the jiva is to try to know what is the transcendental world's environment, and his place there. Who am I? Why am I here? What is my destination in life? After death where will I go? In this human body we can realize the answers to many such questions; and that is called bhagavat-jnana, bhagavat-dharma. If we try to read and understand such topics, we will be benefitted.
The Benefit of Human Life
It is necessary that in this life we try to know what is the super benefit of our human life, and the super benefit of the soul. The soul is actually transcendental, but our body is mortal. The transcendental body is living in the mortal body, whether it be a human body or any other variety of species.
Actually we are not this body -- we are living inside this body. We can understand this when we see a person who is dying. At that time we cannot give them any more days. We can understand that inside the body is the spirit of that person. With the spirit is thinking, feeling, and willing, and that is called the jiva, or the soul. When a man dies, that soul leaves his temporary material body. This is not only Indian philosophy, but in the Western countries also we find famous philosophers such as Hegel who have had similar realizations.
We must try to do something good for our self, for our soul. Good is possible through the processes of humility, tolerance, and giving honor to others. We should try to avoid the opposing environment, and in that way we can happily study what is the soul, what is God, and what is the super benefit of this life. Also, we should study where we have come from, where we will go, etc. Birth and death is natural in this world, and we are always getting happiness and sadness and many other temporary feelings. We must try to understand all these things. Prahlada Maharaj said:
kaumara acaret prajno
dharman bhagavatan iha
durlabham manusam janma
tad apy adhruvam arthadam
We must try to understand what is Bhagavat Dharma, and when that steady knowledge comes within us, we should try to use it to understand what is what. If not, we will be losers. [Srimad Bhagavatam 7:6:1] It is only in this human body that we can properly understand what is good and what is bad, and if we try sincerely we will get that type of knowledge.
What is necessary is sincerity, tolerance, humility and giving honor to others. These four qualities are necessary for everyone. I am very happy to observe that the people here in Mauritius are very enthusiastic and enlightened with these qualities. Furthermore, their tendency is to be real searchers, and they are practicing to do good according to their capacity, while avoiding bad things. I am very happy to see this within this small country.
I am pleased to have met you all. I do not know how much good I can do for you, but I am with you, and it is my expectation that our attempt will be fruitful in the future.