Speaker: HG Vaisesika Das
Srimad Bhagavatam 10.3.14
vicinvan bhagavan krsnah
“Let Me go and search for the calves,” Krsna said. “Don’t disturb your enjoyment.” Then, carrying His yogurt and rice in His hand, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, immediately went out to search for the calves of His friends. To please His friends, He began searching in all the mountains, mountain caves, bushes and narrow passages.”
This is Krishna speaking by the way to His cowherd friends after killing Aghasura, Krishna’s friends went to a very beautiful place to have lunch together and they are sitting together and having lunch and then the calves have wandered away during their merrymaking and the boys noticed this and became frightened and so Krishna now is speaking to them and you will see the rest of the story.
It’s such a great honor to be with you here this morning at the beginning of the ISKCON Leadership Sanga, muktaanaam api siddhaanaam, there are many liberated souls in the world, Caitanya Mahaprabhu describes, but the best of them are those who are followers of Lord Sri Krishna and those who follow Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu because nobody is better than Caitanya Mahaprabhu and all of you are obviously addicted to the Srimad Bhagavatam otherwise you wouldn’t be here and therefore as described in the Bhagavatam itself those who are attached to the Bhagavatam are really liberated. They have tasted something higher than is available anywhere within the three worlds. So my deepest appreciation. Hare Krishna!
And today’s verse is striking isn’t it? And it caught my attention somehow when I was asked to speak on the theme of leading ISKCON into the future, I began to think about the ways in which one might lead or does lead any kind of organization, group, team, family and that is through principles and values. And these must, or at least those in an organization must have piercing clarity to understand what are the kinds of values and principles that do move us as a movement, what actually moves us and hopefully we are talking about moving us to a better place and improving.
For by default naturally in the material world there is a way in which, there is an energy here that drags us to places we don’t want to go. So there must be a deliberateness in an organisation to cultivate, not only cultivate but also inculcate values and principles that move us into the future. How does that sound? (Haribol!) Ok?
So I considered this is done everywhere. For instance in economic systems, there are leading indicators, leading economic indicators, for instance actual GDP, Consumer Confidence surveys, there is a long list. There is a top ten list of economic and leading indicators by which economists will look at how they are moving and say this is what the future of the economy is going to be, because these things move first. And when they move we know the economy is moving in a particular direction.
So considering that I thought of this verse, it somehow came into my mind and I remembered being struck by it when reading it previously and that is struck by Krishna’s special friendship that He has for His devotees. Now looking at this verse we notice that Krishna was enjoying with His friends and if you remember the context, they are having a jolly time. In fact Krishna is described as being like the whorl of the lotus and all His friends are surrounding Him, He is manifesting Himself to each one of the boys. Nobody else, none of the boys are aware of the fact that He is manifesting as, personally for each one of them and entering into a personal relationship with them during their lunch because they are not aware of His opulences in Vrindavan.
And then when the scare comes and they look out from their merry making and see that the calves are gone, their life and soul and their very livelihood, then they become afraid. And Krishna notices this and just see how in this verse, Krishna immediately jumps up, He still has His lunch in His hand. So you know when you have a friend and he says – O! I forgot my wallet or something, whatever and then you jump up, you still have a pakora in your hand. You don’t even stop to wash your hands or anything – no no I will do this! Its spontaneous! The way Krishna thinks about how to serve His friends and to reciprocate with them and of course much is made in this past time, He is holding the food given to Him ostensibly by Yashoda in His left hand and of course Brahma notices that before He steals the boys and calves away.
Now where is Krishna going? He goes, as mentioned in the verse, “searching in all the mountains, mountain caves, bushes and narrow passages.” So in this way He is going to some trouble (?) tits not like they were round the corner and He just found them and that was it but He is going through narrow places, He is going to mountains. He took some difficulty for His friends. So the principle that I remembered from this was Krishna’s nature and how we are International Society for Krishna Consciousness, so naturally we follow Krishna and we follow the acharyas and the acharyas are defined by the ways in which they present to us through their character, their achaar, Krishna’s qualities, caring, That was the first one that came into my mind – caring and here is the reason it came into my mind.
Recently in Tokyo, Japan I left the day before he arrived but Niranjana Swami stopped in for a day or something like that in Tokyo and the devotees there asked him to give a class on devotee care. So he sat down to give the class and then he said, well here is the first thing – there are many systems for devotee care. But they only work if you actually care! That really went deeply in my mind and heart and like what does it mean to care! And stepping back a moment to look at the whole material world and see as Prabhupada quotes in the purport here, so its fair game, mayadhyakshena prakrti, so the implication of this verse is very deep from the Bhagavad Gita, mayadhyakshena, aksha, His eyes are looking into this material world, and animating it! ……..also mentioned in the Brahma Samhita in the beginning, how the Lord as Mahavishnu glances at the pradhaana and that’s when the pradhaana comes alive, its potential form, its in a potential form. And now when He glances at it there is so much implication from His glance. In fact everything is there in His glance, time energies, the living entities, karma, everything now begins to work in the material world. The living entities are then impregnated into the material nature and its all animated and He, eko bahu shyama, the one Supreme Lord expands Himself into many and the Vedas describe why – out of joy, to have more, to share in His glory, have many unlimited in fact living entities to enjoy and appreciate Him.
So now I was thinking about Niranjana Swami’s mention of systems, you may have many systems in place and ideas, you may have blueprints and organisational development ideas which are absolutely essential for any organisation but they are like the pradhaana. They are lifeless, they are ready, they are latent codes of organisation ready to go but just as when Mahavishnu glances at the material nature and the pradhaana now becomes divided into three modes of nature and everything becomes activated because of His ecstatic glance, His caring glance actually, that’s what Krishna is. He is mostcaring of all personalities, then it becomes manifested. In a similar ways in the ways in which we develop here in ISCKON through systems and management schemes, the active ingredient, the ingredient that makes it manifest and actually come alive is the “care”, is putting one’s attention into the individuals that are there within the organisation.
I think often about what is a movement and how to get to where we are now, how are we all sitting here and there are many more millions around the world who have been touched by Krishna consciousness and what does it mean that they were touched or we were touched? It means that at some point we had a personal interaction with somebody that changed our hearts and through which we actually decided that I will take to Krishna consciousness. It doesn’t happen, well let me just say when I was in business and we studied various types of advertising one of the topics that was mentioned, here was a mantra for advertising – that if you don’t have time to be personal, you don’t have time to do business! So then I was thinking about the ways in which we can garner all the assets that we have in ISKCON for a future that is ever brighter and that we need that admonition that if you don’t have time to be personal you don’t have time to spread the sankirtan movement because it will stay as pradhaana. Its when there is a caring glance, just as the Lord glances, when a devotee who has no motivation, materially glances then there is something intangible or rather its quite tangible that happens and the animation starts at that point.
So if we don’t have time to be personal then we don’t have time to spread the sankirtan movement. And here is a related idea. Anybody here ever get any junk mail? So what is junk mail anyway? What makes it junk? Well, here is my thought! My thought is lack of personality or personalism! Because if you open your mail box, correct me if I am wrong, you look for the most personalised piece first. Right! Like my mail comes from the front door and it drops on to the floor. I can tell from across the room which piece I am going to look at first or if I am not going to look at it at all! Its going in the recycle bin! Let’s just say that I saw something written by hand, I would immediately pick it up first to see who wrote to me, who cares to write something personal. Even if there is just two letters on the outside of the envelope I would immediately grab it and say what’s in this? And so junk mail means no personal touch. And everything the whole material world remains dull, remains junk practically without the personal touch of the Lord and our systems whatever we developed remained junk, ineffectual dull, in fact disappointing without the personal touch of the devotees who are eager to give Krishna consciousness to others.
So this kind of experience where we get a personal touch from the devotees is palpable. The other day I gave a talk to the GBC body, giving an update about book distribution and so forth and just afterwards I got an email from one of my most revered friends in Krishna consciousness and then it was just two lines but it was so encouraging that I can say that just from that one personal note I would be able to sustain myself probably for the rest of my life. You know how things get you down sometimes. Anyone? Just a few people? There is a lot of things that get us down, well that one thing that will keep coming up in my mind that I got a note from this person and that now I will be able to go on. In our Gayatri mantras we have the word “prachodayaat” it comes from the root word “cyut” which means to enliven, to lift up and “pra” is an intensifier, prachodayaat means the Lord through His glance and through His speaking He lifts us up, He encourages us. It’s a personal touch of the Lord. In fact when you wake up the deities in the morning, as all of you who engage in the pancaratrika system know
so’ savadabhra-karuno vivriddha-prema
smitena nayanam-buruham vijrimbham
utthaya visva-vijayaya ca no visadam
madhvya-girapanayatat purusah puranah
this is a prayer where the devotee is asking the Lord that please open Your eyes and cast Your glance upon me. Open Your lotus eyes and smilingly, premaasmitena, with love, look at me with love and smile and this is the enlivening force of Krishna consciousness, is this caring and giving our unmotivated attention to others.
Just last week during our yatra where we were going around to various holy places here in the Mayapur area with a group of devotees. We went to Nrsimhapalli. And as a part of feature of our yearly yatras we call them sankirtan yatras. We dont just go and look at the place but as we are camping out at various places and moving about we take with us books and prasadam and Jagannath stickers and then we go to all the people in the area along the route and in the shops and it just happened at Nrsimhapalli we had an extra 45 minutes, so we went door to door in all the shops and all the apartments around the area and I came across a group of men who were sitting in a circle. Its almost a clichi because they were engaged in a card game that was so intense that it could have been a movie scene, in a circle just playing cards totally absorbed and I saw and I said I am going to break this up. (Jaya Sri Sri Radha Madhava ki jaya) How is it possible to break up a determined card game? First of all I thought what gives me the right and then I thought Lord Caitanya you know He went around, in fact its described by Karbhaajana Muni, maya-mrgam dayitayepsitam anvadhavad (SB 11.5.34) that the Lord He notices that people, mrgaa, that they are like animals and anvadaavad means He chases after them. So you got to go looking in various places like Krishna did in the nooks and crannies’, in the mountains, take some trouble for others.
So I poked my head in to the circle and I could smell alcohol, so I knew it was going to be doubly challenging. And I finally got the attention of the head guy and I knew it was the head guy cause everyone was looking at him, well what shall we do now? And I tried to hand him a book but he wouldn’t take it but I guess the second in charge took the book in his hand and I was persistent and I handed him a language card that said in Bengali – please give a donation. And he looked at me and the group that was around me, there were several devotees around and he noticed that – you know, here is a guy, probably from the West, who shaved his head, and is walking around, handing out books about Krishna. And he couldn’t ascertain a motive, like a material motive that he is selling something. If I was selling something it would have been easy, he could have just said that I don’t want to buy anything. But there was no motivation except that I am following the orders of Lord Caitanya and you know, you should be cooperating.
And so I and the other devotees saw that although he was reluctant to break off his attention from the card game, somehow or other his will just evaporated, he gave in and everyone took from there gambling pot and they gave a little something. It seemed to me to be, to resemble the material world, little circle, everyone’s playing their card game, alcohol smell coming out and then Lord Caitanya comes in and like come on wake up, here you go and that’s a personal touch, He comes after us! And the devotees they look after us, individually, personally they give their glance, that’s what enlivens us. So that’s one principle. There’s more to say about it but I think I have made the case.
This active ingredient in a volunteer organisation, what to speak of a spiritual volunteer organisation, has to be care, it has to be, as Niranjana Swami said, that I actually care. If I care, if I am feeling the sense of compassion for others like Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita (6.34)
samam pasyati yo ‘rjuna
sukham va yadi va duhkham
sa yogi paramo matah
the best yogi He says, parama yogi, if you want to know, it’s the one who feels compassion for others, that’s a spiritual emotion, to feel compassion for others. And so if we have that, then how to do the things becomes a lot more clear. If we have this idea that this is our standard, this is the principle that we work by, we actually care about others in all phases of their lives and we are able to, as Krishna does, be very personal and also appropriately overlook faults of others,
api cet su-duracaro
bhajate mam ananya-bhak
sadhur eva sa mantavyah
samyag vyavasito hi sah (Bg 9.30)
Krishna has this mood about, somebody’s done, ok he is situated in devotional service, he is on the right track, he is going to make it. Of course there is a complex conversation about that but the mood has to be right. Even when there is censure, even when there is prohibition and so forth, the mood has to be correct for us to continue moving. So that’s the first principle or value or I like to say ingredient, active ingredient, like if you get a box of mints, if you look at it, there are seven or eight ingredients that are called other, have you ever seen this or you guys don’t eat mints? You look on the tin of mints, there’s seven or eight ingredients like what is it there some sand or flower whatever they put in to hold it together right ? And there is an active ingredient which would be like mint or menthol or something like that. So now if it doesn’t have the mint, whats the use? You get a bunch of fillers and you’ve got no pizzazz in your life. So that active ingredient, that’s the case I am making.
And the second in considering principles that actually move us, a leading indicator, I can tell in my own life, and in the life of those I am observing and in the movement as a whole are we moving forward, is that we are purifying the sound vibration. That means the more that we are leaning into the vibration of the Srimad Bhagavatam, the more that we are leaning into the chanting of Hare Krishna and endeavouring as a society and individual to avoid offenses, this is the actual ingredient or the second ingredient or the parallel ingredient or maybe the primary ingredient that moves us forward into the future and that’s what our movement is. What is my proof? When Prabhupada came to the West he wrote down his intentions in a poem on the Jaladuta. And his intention was to introduce the sound vibration of the Srimad Bhagavatam to the world and in doing so, quoting sastra, of course he started with
srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah
hrdy antah-stho hy abhadrani
vidhunoti suhrt satam (SB 1.2.17)
he said that this vibration would create natural spiritual credit in the hearts of those who would receive it. What’s more, Krishna is there within the heart and He will help remove the obstacles. Prabhupada was quite clear and confident about this point. And he went onward of course to quote
Nasta prayeshu abhadresu (SB 1.2.18)
Tada rajas tamo bhavah (SB 1.2.19)
in the series, which shows that it’s a step by step process that’s activated only by hearing and chanting. In fact the essence of all advise given by Rupa Goswami in his primer on devotional service Upadesaamrta,
smrtyoh kramena rasana-manasi niyojya
tisthan vraje tad-anuragi-jananugami
kalam nayed akhilam ity upadesa-saram
here it is, the essence of all advise he says, upadesa saaram, he says you should organise your life around the principle of always hearing and chanting and other devotional processes but the first two are hearing and chanting constantly. And constantly for those who are busy, means at least everyday. And with that he gives the process that one will come to tisthan vraje, you will be situated in Vrindavan and you will go on to aspire to be one of the residents of the spiritual world by following in the footsteps of residents there who you will have communion with through this process of hearing the Srimad Bhagavatam. Its all important and that is a principle that cant be skipped over.
I once took Anuttama Prabhu’s class on leadership and Management in Dallas, Texas, one of the best things I have ever done in my life you know. I will be ever grateful to him for organising that. It was fantastic. It changed my life. At the end of the presentation that night, not presentation, end of the four or five days that we were there taking the course, we were asked to do a project where the last minute each of our group and we had about 6 teams made of maybe 10 or 12 people each, had to make a presentation together to present to the rest of the group. So I was voted to be in charge of the group and I was trying to find the time, because we had only till the next day and it was already in the evening when we could meet to discuss our strategy. So I suggested to the group that we meet the next morning and it just happened to be the time I suggested was around the time of the Bhagavatam class. So Jayadvaita Swami was in the group and now I learnt my greatest lesson from the Leadership and Management course. When I suggested the time, he said isn’t that the time of the Bhagavatam class? And I said, Yeah! And he said, right, the old skip Bhagavatam class for the sake of management routine and he said it to me with such conviction and also disdain, I took it as one of the most merciful lessons, that don’t skip your hearing and chanting. Its not optional. It is the movement. In fact the sound vibration that comes from Prabhupada’s books is the foundation of our movement and minus that we don’t really have a movement. We have a lot of problems.
So now well I could say a bit more about Bhagavatam and about the power of hearing and chanting, although I have given a couple of verses indicating and we can say more but what I will do now is take a few reflections or a question that augments the particular points that I made. So if Badrinarayan Maharaja, and then Arcita Prabhu all the way and back. And with your questions or reflections please be mindful to keep us on course and uplifted. Thank you.
Badrinarayan Maharaja: I am going to ask a depressive question and you can uplift us. Okay you have to care for the jeevas in order to go out and distribute books and spread the sankirtan movement. What if I really don’t care that much or cant muster the care, the intensity of the care. Ok we need care and what if I don’t have it? I am speaking collectively.
HG Vaisesika Prabhu: A leader…..well let me tell you about geese to answer your question. I love geese. We can learn a lot from a goose and probably if we don’t learn certain lessons, maybe in our next life we will become a goose. So we can learn what the geese know. When geese fly in a sky and they do and I missed a lot of it at least but during the autumn season when they are starting to move across, during the winter, they fly in a V formation. The strongest, most capable one or the one who is the most enthusiastic, moves to the front and the person in front takes the wind and cuts it. And then the drag of the wind gets cut even more because of the V formation, the geese know this. Everyone once in a while the goose in the front who gets tired moves back and another one moves up and takes the lead and they go for many many miles and actually aerodynamics studies show that they are able to go considerably longer cause the drag from the cold air coming on is so much less by the formation. Now here is something else. If one of the geese gets tired or sick and falls out of the formation and goes to land on earth, two other geese follow it. And then they sit with it until it gets better. And then the three of them get up and they start their own formation, three together. And somehow or other they join in with the other geese, I don’t know if they have some GPS, obviously built in.
My point is that if somebody is obviously depressed or lagging then part of the care is that we should work together. That’s why we are a society to see how we could do good for the others and encourage them. And there is an old saying if you don’t, if you are enlivened then meeting needs you and if you are not then you need the meeting. And like the geese if you see that somebody is not enlivened then it behooves us to take care of our own, and look after those who are not able to fly anymore and see if we can help lift them up by association and I have seen that, it doesn’t take a lot, it doesn’t take as much as one might think to actually enliven somebody. I have heard stories of devotees who are depressed, they have started to think maybe I wont even come to the temple anymore and then somebody came to their house with a plate as mahaprasadam and said here this is for you and it wasn’t for any reason like get back in here but it was just saying I care about you and that changed the persons life for ever. I know the person, its my wife. And she recounts this story that this person came just a few blocks down and gave me a plate of mahaprasadam because she hadn’t seen me in several days and that made all the difference till this day.
So looking out and seeing surveying how are devotees doing and what can I do for them. Its amazing how a glance can make a difference or not. I was in the Toronto airport and we were late and I wasn’t sure if our baggage was going to come in or not because the baggage carousel was going around empty for a long time. So I went over to that customer service place where you are supposed to stand in line and they can scan and see did the bag actually arrive at the airport. So here I am standing about ten feet away from the booth and there was no other customers there but there was two customer agents behind the desk. But they wouldn’t look at me. I am standing there and started to observe the way I was reacting to not being looked at. And it’s a painful experience actually. There is another living entity there, I am standing here, they know I am there but they wont look up. That’s the pain of the material world. There is no other pain except ignorance. And that’s my plight. I am ignoring Krishna, He is not ignoring me. He is there in my heart but I forget about Him. And devotees also they need our glance. And we have to take the time individually to personalise as much as possible in our interactions as everything takes place on a one to one basis. It cant be mass produced. If you sent out a mass mailer people say I will get a 3% return. Ya good luck! What kind of return will you get? You will get better advertising back from a robot that says you know why don’t you join us instead of we join you? But if you go to somebody’s house and you take time with them there is a heart to heart transmission. In fact this is what Veeraraghavacharya describes in the Tenth Canto in the the appearance of Krishna described how from the mind and heart of Vasudeva into the mind and heart of Devaki there was a transmission a transference and Krishna went there and he says this is diksha. This is the way in which Krishna appears in the world and it’s a heart to heart relationship between guru and disciple. And so our relationship in a spiritual organisation are heart to heart and if we don’t have time to be personal, we don’t have time to spread sankirtan movement. Has a good ring to it, isn’t it?
Arcita Prabhu: Thanks for a wonderful class Vaisesika Prabhu. This point of caring for those who have committed mistakes is very very important We are completely divided as a society on that. Somebody joins the movement and makes some mistakes, sometimes some horrible mistakes but based on Prabhupada’s precedence we have to forgive. But we are completely divided. Those of us who are trying to forgive and accept that person get lambasted by those who don’t want to take them back. So how do you deal with that?
HG Vaisesika Prabhu: Thanks for the question. Its timely and very important and I think as I mentioned it’s a complex issue. Human interactions are complex. And its not that with one swoop or with one veda base search we can solve everything. And that’s kind of what care means. It means we have to be in for a long term and learn how to deal with complex issues. I am learning that as I got involved in management, after artfully avoiding that for many decades and I watched one of my colleagues Kaladri Prabhu who I have great respect for, early on when I was dealing with various issues that to me seemed impossible and intractable and he showed up everyday with his lunch box and said lets just put our attention on this and deal with it and talk to the people involved and go through the steps. And lo and behold I watched as the communication, the personal communication, taking the time to speak and not resist because there is going to be some conflict or because we have some ill feeling towards the other person, I saw that there was a miracle that would happen, that people would actually be able to come together. So in a similar way when there are grievous offences suduraacaara, there is a way in which, there may be various ways in which we may have to deal with it on the vyavahaarika, on the practical level but the principle has to be always in place, we take to preserve the paramaarthika or the ultimate goal which is to respect the devotee, even if there are some punitive measures that come about at a societal level because that has to do with vyavahaarika, the quorum at least has to be maintained that we are dealing with Vaisnavas and therefore we have to have respect even as we are administering some kind of a necessary or not perhaps it depends on the situation, kind of prohibition or something like that.
Prthu Prabhu: Thank you very much Maharaja. I would like to contribute a little story when Srila Prabhupada was in Germany. So somehow or other I was involved in the management and I had a magnetic board with all the names, we could move from one place to another. And Prabhupada saw that, he stood behind me and I didn’t know. All of a sudden he said “What is that?” I paid my obeisances. So what is it? Srila Prabhupada, he is a sankirtan devotees, he is a cook, he is a deity department, he is a clean up department, with one look I can see everybody, I can move somebody from here to there, from there to there, from there to there, He said, German management! But then he said, I can try that? How does it work? How does it work actually? I said Prabhupada its magnetic. Can I try? I said sure! So he tried, he takes this person from there to there, this person from here to there, he was enjoying this facility. Then he said, but if there is no love and trust this will completely fail!
Thank you. Yes Prabhu?
Devotee: Wonderful class Vaisesika Prabhu. Thank you. Recently last couple of years we have started some kind of mentoring in our Alachua community. And first question I also ask myself because I mentor my own mind everyday, what interest brought me to Krishna consciousness. Can we reflect? And every person, every devotee that I asked that question and we have several questions that what is the purpose you came to Krishna consciousness, what you came to get, what is supposed to happen. And at the end we see that if we look at today’s purport the greatness of Krishna, His loveliness and what is the purpose behind this creation or behind me that He has for me. If we focus really in a very concentrative way with the other sincere senior devotees, then this pettiness, little little thing disturbs evaporates. I personally saw. And they became more serious to Srila Prabhupada’s books and they find themselves more satisfied because our inner connections supposed to give us satisfaction. Until we come to that point, but it has to come, willingness has to come from each of thus then possible everything else can be corrected.
HG Vaisesika Prabhu: Thank you so much Prabhu. Very very helpful.
We just have a couple of minutes left. If there is one last point you would like to make. Otherwise I have one last point to make.
Okay, to reiterate I think measuring things and developing organisation is in fact I know its vital in order to grow. In any project you have to look into that very carefully and constantly. And my point here today is that we can as a living entities, its our choice for our glance wherever we wish and if we keep in mind how important it is, how consequential our glance is, where we put our energy and that we are a personal movement, that’s the essence of our philosophy, that this is what will animate all those hard, those well thought out and systems that we develop. Secondly our main purpose really is to purify the sound vibration so that we are hearing constantly among ourselves and going deeply within Srila Prabhupada’s books.
And lastly I brought a few gifts to give away just after the class out of my deep appreciation for everyone of you sitting through this class and the bell has rung now so I am going to end the class and I have a few parting gifts and I will be handing them out from this area right after the class. Do you like free gifts? Okay! Then you are in luck! Thank you very much! Gaurapremanande Haribol!