Sri Nrsimha-caturdasi by Giriraj Swami

Today is Nrsimha-caturdasi, the appearance day of Lord Nrsimhadeva. The appearance and activities of the Lord in the world are a great mystery. Therefore in the Bhagavad-gita (4.9) Lord Krishna says:

janma karma ca me divyam
evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma
naiti mam eti so ’rjuna

“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.”

To understand the appearance and activities of the Lord is not so easy for ordinary people. Or, as Srila Prabhupada said, “It is simple for the simple but difficult for the crooked.” If one is a simple devotee and hears submissively from Vedic authorities, he or she can understand the transcendental science. Therefore the Vedic literature enjoins, tad vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigaccet: In order to understand the transcendental science, one must approach a spiritual master. No matter the subject, we require a teacher. If we want to learn how to play harmonium, we require a teacher. If we want to learn how to make a puri, we require a teacher. If we want to learn how to program a computer, we need a teacher. For every field of activity, we need a teacher. Why, then, should we not need a teacher for the most important subject: how to understand, to realize, God?

The Sanskrit word jnana can be translated as “knowledge,” and the word vijnana can be translated as “applied knowledge” or “science” or “realization.” Thus jnana may be called “theoretical knowledge” and vijnana “realized knowledge.” In the process of spiritual realization we learn by hearing. Lord Krishna begins His instructions in the Bhagavad-gita by telling Arjuna, “Tac chrnu: Hear from Me.”

Krishna is the supreme authority. In explaining the spiritual science in the Bhagavad-gita, He advised, evam parampara-praptam imam rajarsayo viduh: to understand the transcendental science one must receive the knowledge through disciplic succession. If we try to understand the knowledge by our own independent study of the books, we will fail. So Krishna advises that we receive the knowledge through parampara. Paramparameans “one after another.” In the context of Vedic knowledge, it refers to the chain of masters and disciples that follow one after the other, through which the knowledge is passed down.

The original speaker of the Bhagavad-gita is Krishna. He taught the knowledge to Arjuna and others. One of the others was Lord Brahma, and Lord Brahma instructed Narada, Narada instructed Vyasa, and Vyasa instructed Madhvacharya, and so the knowledge was passed down from master to disciple in an unbroken chain. In more recent times, after Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the Six Gosvamis, the same knowledge has been passed to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and then our spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada.

The disciplic succession helps us to understand the original teachings of the Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic literatures. In the Bhagavad-gita (9.11) Lord Krishna explains that less intelligent persons—He uses the word mudha, which means less intelligent, foolish rascal. Avajananti mam mudha manusim tanum asritam—think that in the beginning Krishna is impersonal and that for some time He assumes what they believe to be a physical body as Krishna. This, of course, is the impersonal theory—that ultimately God is impersonal and that he assumes various shapes and forms for temporary manifestation, but that ultimately God is impersonal and that our goal is to merge and become one with God, one with the impersonal light. Krishna says that such people are mudhas because they do not know His eternal nature, which is changeless and supreme. In other words, Krishna is eternally Krishna. Krishna is eternally the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is not some impersonal light that comes in the form of Krishna and then goes back and becomes light again; He is always the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

We living entities are also, eternally, individuals. A prisoner is an individual while he is incarcerated, and when he is released he remains an individual. The only difference is that in prison he was bound by so many restrictions and punished in so many ways, and when he is released from the prison he is free. He is no longer subject to the rigors and punishments administered by the prison. But he is still an individual. In the same way, as conditioned souls in bondage we are individuals, and when we are liberated we will continue to be individuals. It is just that then we will be free.

Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is always an individual, and when He comes into the material world He is the same Supreme Person. Srila Prabhupada gives the example that sometimes the governor may visit the prison. He may come to inspect the prison; he may come to show mercy to the prisoners. But although he is in the prison, he is not subjected to the same rules as the prisoners. He is always free. Similarly, when Lord Krishna, or any of His incarnations, comes into the material world, although He may appear to be like a conditioned soul, He is not. He is not bound by the laws of material nature but is always free.

Now, Krishna is the original form of Godhead (krsnas tu bhagavan svayam). He comes to the material world and speaks the Bhagavad-gita and engages in various pastimes with His devotees. And He comes in many other forms as well, for specific purposes, of which one is the Nrsimha avatar. The Sanskrit word avatar means “one who descends.” All of Krishna’s forms are eternal and liberated, not different from Krishna. They are actually Krishna Himself manifest in different features. The example is given of a gem, which has many facets that reflect the light differently and therefore appears to be of different colors—red or green or yellow or whatever—but the gem is one. Similarly, God is one; Krishna is one. Krishna is the complete manifestation of Godhead, but He also appears in other forms that are basically the same as Him, although some of His qualities as Krishna are not manifest in His other incarnations.

According to scripture, Lord Nrsimhadeva is one of the fullest manifestations of Godhead. He has almost the same opulences as Krishna. Krishna is the most complete—He is completely complete—but after Him, Lord Ramachandra and Lord Nrsimhadeva are the fullest manifestations of the opulence of Godhead.

The story of Lord Nrsimhadeva is most interesting and instructive. The history dates back millions of years, to a previous age in which a great demon named Hiranyakasipu performed severe austerities. He stood on his toes with his hands upstretched, tolerating the heat and cold, the scorching sun, torrential rains, and severe wind—all the disturbances of nature—for more than a hundred years. I don’t think many of us could last more than fifteen minutes. To perform such a feat of austerity required tremendous willpower and strength and determination. And as a result of austerity, one gets power. That is always the result of austerity: one gets power—which one may use for good or bad purposes. Hiranyakasipu’s austerities were so severe that he had the power to disturb the universe, and the universe was, in fact, disturbed.

Lord Brahma, the chief of the demigods, the devas, came to the earth to induce Hiranyakasipu to give up his austerities, and to do so he offered him a boon. Hiranyakasipu was pleased and asked to become deathless. But Lord Brahma informed him, “I cannot make you immortal, because I myself am mortal.” Still, Hiranyakasipu was very intelligent, and he was very proud of his intelligence, so he thought that he could become immortal indirectly, by obtaining so many other boons. He asked that he should not be killed by any created being. And Lord Brahma agreed: “Granted.” He asked that he should not die inside a building or outside, during the day or at night, on the ground or in the sky. And again, “Granted.” And he asked, “Let me not be killed by any weapon, or by any demigod, demon, man, or beast.” And again Lord Brahma agreed: “Granted.” So, in various ways, Hiranyakasipu thought that he could eliminate all the logical possibilities for his death. He thought that indirectly he could be assured of immortality.

After receiving the boons from Brahma, Hiranyakasipu was confident of his invincibility, and he declared war on the demigods. He was so powerful that he actually captured the heavenly planet, Indraloka, Svargaloka. He occupied the throne of King Indra and was being served by all of the demigods except for Brahma and Shiva. The demigods were in a very distressed condition, and they prayed to the Supreme Lord—Vishnu, Krishna—for relief.

Earlier, after Hiranyakasipu had left his palace to perform his austerities, in the fighting between the demigods and the demons, the demigods were successful, and King Indra arrested Kayadhu, Hiranyakasipu’s pregnant wife. He intended to take her to his heavenly kingdom, and, thinking that she bore another demon, another Hiranyakasipu, within her womb, he planned to kill the child at birth. But just then, the great sage Narada Muni appeared on the scene, and he stopped Indra and the other demigods. He said, “No, the child within the womb is a great devotee, a maha-bhagavata,” and escorted Kayadhu to his ashram and gave her shelter there. And while she was there, with her unborn child in her womb, Narada instructed her in Krishna consciousness, and her child, within the womb, heard the instructions.

In due course, Kayadhu was returned to Hiranyakasipu, who raised their son Prahlada, arranging for him to study under two so-called brahmans.

One day, Hiranyakasipu called for Prahlada and asked him, “What is the best of all the subjects that you have studied from your teachers?” And Prahlada replied:

tat sadhu manye ’sura-varya dehinam
sada samudvigna-dhiyam asad-grahat
hitvatma-patam grham andha-kupam
vanam gato yad dharim asrayeta

“O best of the asuras, King of the demons, as far as I have learned from my spiritual master, any person who has accepted a temporary body and temporary household life is certainly embarrassed by anxiety because of having fallen in a dark well where there is no water but only suffering. One should give up this position and go to the forest [vana]. More clearly, one should go to Vrndavana, where only Krsna consciousness is prevalent, and should thus take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (SB7.5.5)

When Hiranyakasipu heard Prahlada’s words, which were faithful to Lord Vishnu, he laughed and sent Prahlada back to be properly educated by his teachers. Hiranyakasipu considered Vishnu to be his enemy, and he thought that Prahlada’s intelligence had been spoiled by Vaishnavas, who might have infiltrated the school in disguise.

When, after some time, Prahlada’s teachers were satisfied that he was sufficiently educated in politics and diplomacy, they presented him again before his father.

“For so long you have been hearing so many subjects from your teachers,” Hiranyakasipu said to his son. “What is the best of the knowledge you have learned from them?”

And Prahlada replied (SB 7.5.23):

sravanam kirtanam visnoh
smaranam pada-sevanam
arcanam vandanam dasyam
sakhyam atma-nivedanam

He said that the best thing he had learned was devotional service—the nine processes of devotional service—and that one who engages in pure devotional service to the Lord is the most learned person.

Hiranyakasipu thought that Vishnu was a demigod who had mystic powers but could be killed—and he was determined to kill Him, to avenge the death of his twin brother, Hiranyaksa, who had previously been killed by Varahadeva, Vishnu’s boar incarnation, after he had created great disturbance in the universe. So when Prahlada answered, “The best thing that I have learned is to serve Lord Vishnu,” Hiranyakasipu became furious. He blamed Prahlada’s teachers: “You have taught him devotional service to Vishnu.”

But the teachers replied, “No, we haven’t. And we haven’t allowed anyone else to teach him either.”

“Then how did the boy become Krishna conscious?” Hiranyakasipu demanded.

“We don’t know,” they replied. “He seems to be naturally Krishna conscious. If you want to know, you better ask him.”

When Hiranyakasipu asked Prahlada, Prahlada replied in three famous verses. In effect, he said, “My dear father, one cannot become Krishna conscious by one’s own efforts, by the efforts of others, or by the combined efforts of oneself and others.”

Now, logically one might think that there is no other way to become Krishna conscious; it would have to be through one’s own efforts or the efforts of others or the combined efforts of oneself with others. But here, all these possibilities were excluded. But then Prahlada added (SB 7.5.32):

naisam matis tavad urukramamgrim
sprsaty anarthapagamo yad-arthah
mahiyasam pada-rajo-’bhisekam
niskicananam na vrnita yavat

The only way one could become Krishna conscious, he said, was by being blessed by the dust of the lotus feet of a pure devotee who was completely free from material contamination.

As Srila Prabhupada has commented, Sri Prahlada was indirectly telling his father, “My dear father, you needn’t worry about becoming Krishna conscious, because only someone who bows down to the lotus feet of a pure devotee can become Krishna conscious, and you are so puffed up, you will never bow down to anyone. So you don’t have to worry about becoming Krishna conscious. That is not a possibility for you.”

Of course, Hiranyakasipu was no happier with Prahlada’s explanation of how he became Krishna conscious than he was with Prahlada’s statement that devotional service to Vishnu was the best thing that he had ever learned. Indignant and angry, he ordered his servants to kill his son. He was prepared to kill his own son, an innocent child of five years. And he tried in so many ways. He had his servants try to pierce and chop Prahlada’s tender body with their tridents, but they couldn’t; he had them hurl Prahlada from a mountain, but Krishna saved him; he had them poison him, but Krishna saved him; he had them throw boulders to crush him, but Krishna protected him. Whatever methods Hiranyakasipu adopted failed, even though he had subdued the most powerful demigods in the universe—except for Brahma and Shiva, all the demigods had come under his control. And yet he could not touch this five-year-old boy. Prahlada was only five years old, and Hiranyakasipu such a powerful tyrant, but still, Hiranyakasipu could not touch him.

Finally, Hiranyakasipu asked Prahlada, “Where do you get your strength? You know that when I am angry, the three worlds tremble. By whose power do you defy me?”

“My strength comes from the same source as yours,” Prahlada replied. “From God.”

Hiranyakasipu resolved to kill Prahlada himself. “Oh, from God?” he challenged. He thought that he was the source of all his strength and austerities. “Well, then, where is this God of yours?”

“He is everywhere,” Prahlada replied.

“Oh, He is everywhere?” Hiranyakasipu challenged. “Then is He in this pillar?”

“Yes,” Prahlada replied.

Enraged, Hiranyakasipu took up his sword and struck his fist against the column. And from the pillar emerged a great roar—and the half-man, half-lion incarnation of the Lord, Nrsimhadeva.

Lord Nrsimha played with the demon. He fought with him, but He was actually just playing with him. And when He had had enough, He captured him, placed him on His lap, and in the doorway of the assembly hall, tore the demon to pieces with the nails of His hand. Hiranyakasipu’s body was so strong that it could not be pierced even by the thunderbolt of Indra, but it was pierced by the nails of the Lord. He was so powerful from his austerities that his body was like stone. But Lord Nrsimhadeva’s nails were like chisels that cracked it open. Then the Lord pulled out his heart, draped his intestines around His neck as a garland, and let out a great roar.

This is also one of the rasas, or mellows—vibhatsa-rasa—in English called the “ghastly” rasa. But because the Lord is absolute, everything about Him is beautiful—every feature. When Krishna would return from the pasturing grounds in the evening, accompanied by Balarama and the cowherd boys, He would be playing on His flute; beads of perspiration would decorate His forehead, and dust raised by the cows’ hooves would adorn His hair. When the gopis would see this image of Krishna in their mind, they would be stunned by His beauty. In the same way, Lord Nrsimhadeva also looked beautiful, with drops of blood sprinkled on His face and mane, His eyes gleaming like fire, and the garland of Hiranyakasipu’s intestines around His neck.

So, what happened to Brahma’s boons? Well, the Lord is so intelligent that He kept all the boons intact and still killed the demon. He killed him at twilight, not during the day or at night. He placed him on His lap, which was neither on the earth nor in the sky. He killed him at the doorway to the palace, not inside or outside. He pierced him with His nails, not with any weapon. And He assumed a unique form that was half-man and half-lion, neither man nor demigod nor beast.

We may think that we are so clever that we can cheat God, but we should know that God is always more intelligent than we are. Hiranyakasipu was extraordinarily intelligent, but still, God was more intelligent. Srila Prabhupada remarked that Hiranyakasipu wanted to protect himself from the bomb. He made all these arrangements to protect himself from the bomb, but he forgot about the nails. He never thought that he could be killed by Krishna’s nails. So, no matter how clever we are, how intelligent we are, God is more intelligent than we are. And mrtyuh sarva-haras caham: Krishna manifests Himself as death for those who deny Him, and no one can defy death. When death comes, you have to surrender—“as sure as death.”

So, Krishna gives us the choice. At the end of the Bhagavad-gita He says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: “Surrender to Me. Give up all varieties of religiousness, all extraneous duties, and just surrender to Me.” And that is our choice. We can surrender to Krishna in His beautiful form of Syamasundara, His threefold bending form, playing on His flute. And if you don’t want to surrender to Krishna, or Lord Nrsimhadeva, voluntarily, then Krishna will come as death (mrtyuh sarva-haras caham) and take everything away. All right, we do not want to give this to Krishna; we do not want to give that to Krishna. We want to hold on: “What will happen if I give this away?” But if you don’t give it voluntarily to Krishna, mrtyuh sarva-haras caham: He will come as death and take away everything. That is what happened to Hiranyakasipu.

After Hiranyakasipu was killed by Lord Nrsimhadeva, the Lord remained sitting on the throne, furious. No one could pacify Him; no one could get Him to give up His anger. Even the great demigods were afraid. Finally Lord Brahma requested Prahlada, “You go forward and appease the Lord.”

Prahlada was not afraid. He was a pure devotee. He thought Lord Nrsimhadeva looked beautiful. He recited many beautiful prayers, and in one he said, “My dear Lord, even saintly persons take pleasure when a snake or a scorpion is killed.”

tad yaccha manyum asuras ca hatas tvayadya
modeta sadhur api vrscika-sarpa-hatya
lokas ca nirvrtim itah pratiyanti sarve
rupam nrsimha vibhayaya janah smaranti

“My Lord Nrsimhadeva, please, therefore, cease Your anger now that my father, the great demon Hiranyakasipu, has been killed. Since even saintly persons take pleasure in the killing of a scorpion or a snake, all the worlds have achieved great satisfaction because of the death of this demon. Now they are confident of their happiness, and they will always remember Your auspicious incarnation in order to be free from fear.” (SB 7.9.14)

What is the purport of this verse? Lord Nrsimhadeva was angry. Although He had killed Hiranyakasipu, still, as Srila Prabhupada explains, He was concerned that people might blame Him, that Prahlada’s relatives might blame Him: “You killed Prahlada’s father. He is just a five-year-old boy, and You killed his father.”

So, to assure the Lord that no one would blame Him for His action, Prahlada said, “Don’t worry, my Lord. You have killed him, it is true. But he was like a snake or a scorpion.” Snakes and scorpions are very envious and dangerous. So Prahlada was saying, “Even saintly persons, who are known to be nonviolent and friendly toward everyone, take pleasure when a snake or a scorpion is killed. Because snakes and scorpions are so envious that they will attack and kill even innocent persons, they should be killed—to save them from committing further sinful activities. So we bear no animosity towards You. We feel no ill will. No one will consider that You have done anything wrong. In fact, everyone is pleased.”

Then the Lord offered everything to Prahlada, who wanted nothing. In fact, when Lord Nrsimhadeva asked Prahlada to accept a benediction, Prahlada refused. “Why are You tempting me?” he asked. “I have not come to do business with You, to render service to You so that You would give me something in return. I just want to serve You for Your pleasure. So don’t tempt me with material things.”

But Lord Nrsimhadeva insisted: “No, I want you to accept something.”

Then Prahlada replied, “All right, I pray that my father be liberated.” Just see the kindness of a Vaishnava. His father was so envious of him that he tried to kill him, his own son, an innocent child of five years; he tried to kill him brutally. But Prahlada did not become Hiranyakasipu’s enemy. He remained his friend. Devotees are always the friends of every living entity. So Prahlada prayed for his demonic father’s deliverance.

Then Lord Nrsimhadeva said, “You are the heir to the demons’ opulence. I order you to occupy the throne and rule the kingdom.”

“I don’t want material opulence,” Prahlada said. “If I accept it, I might become puffed up like my father and forget You. To the contrary, I desire to be liberated from materialistic life.”

“It does not matter that you are in the material world,” Lord Nrsimhadeva assured him. “Just always engage in hearing and chanting and remembering Me, and being fully free from material bondage, you will come to Me”—back home, back to Godhead. And so Prahlada became Prahlada Maharaja.

Devotees take pleasure in hearing how the Lord kills the demons and how He delivers the devotees, and both pastimes are recounted wonderfully in the story of Lord Nrsimhadeva.

There is much to learn from this story, and there is much to relish in hearing the glories of the Lord and the deliverance of devotees and the destruction of the demons. And among other lessons, we learn that not only should we adults be educated in Krishna consciousness, but we should educate our children in Krishna consciousness as well.

Hare Krishna.

Devotee: There are many stories of worshipers of demigods who get boons from Brahma or Shiva and then actually turn against their worshipable deity. So, was it the acquisition of these great powers that turned their recipients demoniac or were they so demonic from the start that even austerities didn’t do anything to benefit them? Instead of turning to spiritual life, they turn into demons.

Giriraj Swami: So, the first question is, Do they become demons after they get their boons? And the next is, How is it that they perform austerities and don’t make spiritual advancement?

In principle, the answer is the same for both questions. Nothing in the material world is good or bad; it all depends on how we use it. Austerities can be used for spiritual advancement, and they can also be used to gain material power.

No one can be successful in any endeavor without making sacrifices and performing austerities—not even a businessman. One of our friends came to visit recently, and he had lost weight. So I asked, “What happened? You seem to have lost weight.

“Well, my business has been doing very well,” he replied.

“You have lost weight because your business is doing well?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said. “I’ve been doing such good business that I haven’t been coming home for lunch. I prefer to keep making money, so I have lost weight.”

Any activity requires austerity for success. If you want to do well in school, you have to study, you have to make sacrifices. You could be out playing, but you have to attend classes, read books, and prepare for your exams.

Still, the fruit of austerities can be used either for spiritual or material purposes. Devotees perform austerities to make spiritual advancement. Materialists also perform austerities, but for material development. It is not that they become demons. They may have been demons from the beginning, and when they got what they wanted, their demonic propensities became manifest.

But it is also true that ordinary persons or even devotees, if they are weak and come in contact with too much opulence, may fall down. In one case, an ordinary family won the lottery, and the family became completely disturbed. Until then, they had been relatively peaceful and happy, but after they got the lottery money, there was so much tension. What to do with the money? How to save the money? How to protect it? How to spend it? And in the end, the wife was saying that they had been happier before they had won the lottery.

It can happen that even a devotee who is not strong enough can become bewildered by material opulence. Therefore, in general, devotees live simply. They do not want to become confused or bewildered or agitated by material facilities. When Lord Nrsimhadeva offered Prahlada material benedictions, Prahlada considered them impediments on the path of devotional service. He prayed:

ma mam pralobhayotpattya
saktamkamesu tair varaih
tat-sanga-bhito nirvinno
mumuksus tvam upasritah

“My dear Lord, because I was born in an atheistic family I am naturally attached to material enjoyment. Therefore, kindly do not tempt me with these illusions. I am very much afraid of material conditions, and I desire to be liberated from materialistic life. It is for this reason that I have taken shelter of Your lotus feet.” (SB 7.10.2)

And if devotees do get some opulence, they give it to Krishna. There is a saying that Prabhupada used to quote: If you give a brahman a lakh of rupees, he will still be a beggar—because he won’t save that lakh of rupees, but he will spend it for others. He will spend it for God, and so the next day he will still be a beggar. Or, as Srila Prabhupada told us, “Make a million dollars for Krishna one day, and spend a million dollars for Krishna the next day.” So we don’t hoard. If we do, there is a chance that we will become preoccupied with our wealth, at least to some degree, and forget Krishna.

Devotee: All the forms of Krishna are eternal. So, is the form of Lord Nrsimhadeva also eternal, and did it exist even before He appeared before Hiranyakasipu?

Giriraj Swami: Yes. All the forms of Krishna are eternal, but They have appearance pastimes. Krishna appeared as the son of Vasudeva and Devaki in Kamsa’s prison, but that was just a play. He exists eternally, but as a pastime He seemed to take birth. All the incarnations of Godhead have appearance pastimes. Just like in tonight’s play: an actor will play the part of Lord Nrsimhadeva and appear from a pillar. But the actor existed before the play began. Someone may appear on the stage, but he existed before the dramatic performance began. Similarly, the Lord enacts appearance pastimes, but He always exists.

Devotee: You mentioned that Hiranyakasipu was told that he could not become a devotee because he would not take the dust of a pure devotee, but before that there was a verse matir na krsne paratah svato va. Prahlada was saying that because you are too attached to material opulence, you cannot become a devotee.

Giriraj Swami: Very good point. Of those three important verses, matir na krsne paratah svato va is one.

matir na krsne paratah svato va
mitho ’bhipadyeta grha-vratanam
adanta-gobhir visatam tamisram
punah punas carvita-carvananam

“Because of their uncontrolled senses, persons too addicted to materialistic life make progress toward hellish conditions and repeatedly chew that which has already been chewed. Their inclinations toward Krsna are never aroused, either by the instructions of others, by their own efforts, or by a combination of both.” (SB 7.5.30)

Prahlada is saying that people who are too entrapped in the bodily concept of life and too attached to material opulence cannot bow down to the pure devotee and become Krishna conscious. And Queen Kunti says the same thing in her prayers to Lord Krishna:

edhamana-madah puman
naivarhaty abhidhatum vai
tvam akincana-gocaram

“My Lord, Your Lordship can easily be approached, but only by those who are materially exhausted. One who is on the path of [material] progress, trying to improve himself with respectable parentage, great opulence, high education and bodily beauty, cannot approach You with sincere feeling.” (SB 1.8.26)

To be akincana—materially exhausted, or materially impoverished—means either that we have no possessions and live very simply or that we have no sense of false proprietorship and dedicate everything to Krishna’s service. For example, if we think, “I am the proprietor of this temple,” we cannot get Krishna. But if we think, “This temple is not mine; it is Krishna’s,” then we can get Him. Still, we have to be responsible—not that we think, “Oh, this is Krishna’s temple; let Krishna worry about it.” No, we are Krishna’s servants. We should think, “Yes, it is Krishna’s temple; it is not mine to enjoy. But I am Krishna’s servant, so I have to make sure that everything goes well—for Krishna.”

[A talk by Giriraj Swami on Nrsimha-caturdasi, May 22, 2005, San Diego]


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