PHILOSOPHICAL DEFINITIONS LECTURE #4, 23rd Sep 2008, Bhaktivedanta Academy, Sridham Mayapur
HH BVPS Maharaja: Continuing 5 levels of consciousness.
Anna-maya means the senses, it is sensual perception, or engagement of the senses. Prana-maya that you are going to extend the sense gratification for others. In other words, you care about other’s sense gratification. Mana-maya will be the platform of religiosity, not even technically be your ethics, ethics would prana-maya. Where you understand the nature of something and act according to that. Vijnana-maya will be the platform of understanding the nature of the soul. Ananda-maya will be situated on that transcendental platform, so specifically for us it means devotional service because your ananda-maya is eternal platform therefore it is devotional service, that relationship with Krsna or for the impersonalists being situated in Brahman actually on the Brahman-platform though it is temporary.
Then anna-maya, we have 5 Stages of Sense Perception. This is coming from Bhaktivinoda Thakura.
- Gathering of information by the knowledge acquiring senses
The senses are pulling in information all the time constantly they are always doing that. Then it goes to the mind.
- Accumulation of feelings
So then they’ll bring them all together, that’s samasa.
- Reduction of the information to what is presently required
What focus are we talking about now. So many things are coming in but we are hearing the class. There may be other feelings, senses are pulling in, other information but it reduces it down to this. Your feeling is there, you want to hear the class. So therefore the information, the class is important. Otherwise you are sitting in the class and thinking of something else then the mind will go to that. In other words, whatever is important to the mind that is where it goes. The information is there then whatever is the feelings on that, whatever is the most important then it is going to reduce it down to that.
In here also there is an element here of the memory. The mind will access the intelligence at this point for the memory. To do this fourth point, accepting and rejecting, it will go back to past experiences.
- Accepting and rejecting
What does the memory bring up on this kind of situation then according to that then the mind accepts and rejects.
Then you use the intelligence to see what will be best for my sense pleasure, how to apply it. So then the mind will get the senses engaged.
In this way we can see the mind becomes the center of this whole process of sense gratification. It pulls in the information from the senses but the senses are functioning because the intelligence can discriminate between the sense objects. But it is doing that for the mind, and then the memory which is part of the intelligence is also used for the mind to make its decision, and then once it has made the decision it engages the intelligence what’s the best way to apply the senses.
So the central feature is the mind, you catch the mind then you catch everything. You get body, mind and words, you catch the mind, you have everything. You can’t catch the mind then catch the body: stick in the kitchen with all the pots do that for 6 months, one becomes purified then the devotee is able to start to discriminate a bit, he is able to use more, then they can start doing other services.
Pranamaya means you are going to do this for others. Knowledge above sensual but without knowledge of the next life. All your ism’s come into this. Moral codes, political sciences, economics, justice, others’ sense gratification, all that comes into here. Feeding people, clothing people, medicine for people. What you are considering good for your senses, body and mind, but for others. So this knowledge doesn’t go, you don’t understand the next life.
You don’t necessarily understand the nature, there is a touch of it because it is in between religion, mano-maya and anna-maya, so there is a little bit of element that you understand that this person is hungry, there is a need. But really what is hunger, why is there a need for interacting on that way that is not there. Because today you feed them and tomorrow you are distracted by something and don’t feed them. But if we are working on religion.
So that is the problem with prana-maya: It is an extension of anna-maya and therefore it comes back to yourself. I will engage in prana-maya as long as I am into it. But religion means whether I want to do it or not I have to do it. It is hot outside I don’t like to cook, from anna-maya you wouldn’t do it. But from the platform of religion it is my duty to cook and therefore I am cooking even though I necessarily I don’t want to cook. Therefore it will create stability, as soon as you go into the senses there is no stability. As long as it is dealing with the actual inherent nature, the nature never changes, therefore dealing on that platform there will be stability.
Like the conservative creates stability because there is some standards but at the same time it is not dynamic as far as the social. The other one is socially dynamic but you can never guarantee it will be stable.
Devotee (1): College students may be into environmentalism and social justice and in India they are more pious but don’t come beyond their family. It seems one is more broad in their compassion and the other is more selfish?
HH BVPS Maharaja: You have the Western college student so now he is interested in the environment so it seems it is more broad it is for everybody what’s his relationship with his family?
Devotee (1): Not as good as…
HH BVPS Maharaja: So therefore as far as actual social standing who will be better situated socially?
Devotee (1): The Indian.
HH BVPS Maharaja: Because the one has a good relationship with the family therefore if you can make him understand the environment has an effect on his family then that is respected also. But the other has respect for the environment but he can’t function in a family unit so therefore if he becomes disturbed by what goes on in that family unit he may also not worry so much about the environment. The environmentalist doesn’t mind going and blowing up a chemical factory. But what did they blow the factory about with? Chemicals made by possibly that factory. There is no standard for what they consider environmentally good. Green means what? So that is the difficulty, there is no specific standard. This one is saving the blue whale, the other one couldn’t care less about the blue whale. They are saving something else. What’s important for one is not for another.
You have basically two kinds of these persons. The ganapatyas, they are specifically interested in a particular group of life. So they are worrying about students, old people, diseased people, poor people, this kind of animal, that animal. Then you have the sauryas, they worry about life. The more general, the whole planet. They don’t care about any specific form of life. So you have these two groups.
Anna-maya, they will just be interested in their senses, what is good for their sense gratification. What they can pull in from that. In that category you have scientists, academics. What it is that they can see or touch, taste, smell, that exists, all their theories everything is based on that. So they are the lowest of this. Technically you have your nuclear quantum physicist he is actually on a lower position than a greeny house wife. His consciousness is lower, very intelligent but his consciousness is lower.
Prana-maya has elements of knowledge and elements of sacrifice and duties, but they are narrow they are basically defined upon your interest. Even if you are pious and are acting according to sastra politics is your interest that is why you are dealing in it. Not that you need to deal in it therefore you are dealing in it. I am interested in economics that’s why I do it rather than I have a duty to take care of certain independence therefore I have to make some endeavour in the economic field and since I am endeavouring in it I might as well as be good. And economics has its nature and therefore I work with economics also according to its nature therefore I get good results. So it is a different path that they are taking. They end up seemingly the same way but the path they got there is very different so the consciousness is very different. One is sustainable, the other is not.
Because the externals come and go. Yudhisthira, his path is sustainable therefore he is always virtuous. But sometimes he has position and facility and sometimes he doesn’t. They were living in the forest, the father died, they came into the city, then they are living a city life, they Duryodhana gets envious of Bhisma then they go to Varanavata then they end up in exile again for a year. Then they marry Draupadi and come back into the whole thing then they accepted again into the family and enter Indraprastha and then again they are living in the city life. Then the gambling match and again in the forest. Then they come back, they have the war, they are again in the city. Then the time is up, then they go back to the forest. But the constant principle is the proper performance of prescribed duties, doing that to please Krsna. That is the constant. What environment they will be in that is always changing. Material world is constantly changing, it will never be the same. It is always moving, it is always dynamic.
Then the thing is is this one better than that one. It just depends what you are looking at. The person who has the piety you try to broaden that to understand the greater nature and the person who is into the benefit of everybody but they have to know who the self is to be able to actually benefit anybody else.
Like on the airplane when you are supposed to put on the oxygen mask which oxygen mask you are supposed to put on first?
Devotee (1): Your own.
Maharaja: How many people can you help if you don’t have an oxygen mask on?
Devotee (1): No one.
Maharaja: Not so many. Now let’s say another person didn’t get their oxygen mask on time they went unconscious you can still put it on them if you have one on. But if you are unconscious you don’t do a lot for others. You have about 15-30 seconds before you black-out. You can only help a very few people. Even if you get the mask on your kid, but you don’t get it on yourself you black-out there is not guaranty your kid will put it on you or the kid may not even like it, mummy I don’t like this and takes it off. Then both of you are blacked out. If you can’t save yourself then you can’t save anybody.
Technically the pious person who understands the nature of the self and sastra is better situated because they already have guru, sadhu and sastra, the whole Vedic process in place, though may be misdirected or not going far enough but at least the form of is there. While the other one seemingly has something but if you look there is nothing to back it up.
A person has one gold coin worth a thousand bucks. The other has pieces of paper that they say a thousand bucks. Technically who is more wealthy? Yes, because the gold is there it doesn’t go away. And you can even put faces on it if you want.
Mano-maya, that’s the platform of religiosity. Occupational duties, that’s your varnasrama. World religions but they are based on fear of God, but no actual development of a relationship. Anything other than Vaisnavism its concept of relationship with God is based on fear. The impersonalists are fearful of a personal concept of God, let’s say the Mayavadis, so they reject God. Others are afraid of Him but they accept Him, because they think He is bigger than me so I should accept Him. The impersonalist is He is God and I am also God and therefore I do not have to accept Him.
Speculative philosophies. Technically speaking we put them in this category because of the nature, because of their definition with religion but actually speaking other than varnasrama the world religions, philosophies, all these things that are not connected with the Vedic, varnasrama, the Vedic principle are actually prana-maya. Because what is it that they say what are your occupational duties? Be nice, be good, forgive the other person. Up to now what maya is this? Prana-maya.
The Vedic is you have to respect others because you have to respect other persons by their position therefore you are nice and good. Or your nature is to elevate yourself out of the material world that is what the human form of life is meant for, therefore to be too absorbed and revengeful and too attached that is not good for spiritual progress, therefore it should be given up and that is why you should forgive the other person.
But the other is you forgive them. Why should you forgive them? The guy is a ratbag. Why he should be forgiven? That they can’t explain, no but it is good God forgave, but why does God forgive? They can’t explain that because all they have is prana-maya. Because they don’t actually understand the nature of God, the nature of the living entity and nature of the the material world. They don’t know.
So that’s why when we say nature it means everything. Religion actually means the nature, that tree what is the nature of that tree? So that’s why it has to be in the ground. It has to get water, it has to get sun. So in our dealing in that area in our dealing something that gets too close to that tree we have to consider the tree. We are going to build, cut the roots, or it won’t get water, or the branches will be cut off, or it won’t get any sun, that is against the nature of the tree. Therefore it is irreligious. So dealing with that tree is already part of our religion. Because religion is one entity, the inherent nature of something that you can’t change.
Devotee (2): If that comes up in prana-maya to some degree then what is…?
Maharaja: Prana-maya is in between anna-maya and mano-maya so it has a touch of both. But it started from anna-maya and extended up to mano-maya. The consideration of others from the dharma is there in prana-maya – but the consideration is not based on the inherent nature of it. That’s why it needs that because you have a purpose in giving that to them.
The mother feeds the child because it is her duty. From the proper performance of her duty then comes the nice interaction and relationships that the parent appreciates. In that way the mother always feeds the child even if she is upset with it. But if it is coming from prana-maya so its basis is anna-maya then that sentiment is there as long as the child is behaving nicely, when it doesn’t then the mother doesn’t feel like feeding the child, or doesn’t interact with him and feed him. So then one the relationship doesn’t develop, though they think that will make it develop, but it doesn’t because the laws they are using there aren’t the laws of parent-child relationship. They are applying husband and wife relationship rules on the child, how you chastise a husband that is different than a kid. They apply that on that and so they don’t know. So it doesn’t work. So that is the weakness of it. Even if you deal in prana-maya you have to deal according to sastra otherwise you don’t know what should be done. Therefore the Vedas have so many scriptures in this realm of artha
You have the artha-sastra, dharma-sastras always deal with artha and kama. You have your niti-sastra which is your ethics and morality, you have to give in charity etc. Those will be seen as prana-maya but they are not. The social structures, all these things, they are actually the Vedic structure. So those that go against the Vedic and say it is not useful and that then they are saying nothing has an inherent nature. Water is not wet. It was 5000 years ago and therefore it is not now, or it is wet now so it wasn’t wet before. The same nature is changeable but that means it is not inherent so they are only seeing the externals. So that is not a very deep understanding. Very immature understanding.
When you see the inherent nature that is your inspiration, that is your relationship. You are actually dealing with relationship. The other one you are not dealing actually with relationship. You are technically dealing more with dead matter. You are dealing with senses, but you are not dealing with emotions.
Devotee (2): So in mana-maya you are working with knowledge and in prana-maya you can accidentally use it?
Maharaja: No, prana-maya you can be working with knowledge but the knowledge is less deep. Like the senses what they run on is the intelligence. Like a car runs on petrol. So the senses run on intelligence. The skin deals with touch so let us take texture. But the difference between something smooth and something rough how is that ascertained? That’s by intelligence. The skin is the medium to gain the knowledge of what is the situation but what that situation actually is that is the intelligence. Then the mind takes that and what the mind wants to do with it. So still the intelligence is there all the way through like the mind accepting and rejecting is there all the way through. The body is there all the way through. But it is just where the emphasis lies, that’s all.
So it is not that in religion you are not dealing with the artha and kama but it is based in religion therefore according to religion you are engaging in artha and kama. It’s different. Your focus is religion then the other things go from there. Otherwise the person in prana-maya their focus is on prana-maya, or anna-maya it is on anna-maya. They are dealing in that to the exclusion of the others. Or they might have two of them. But someone based in religion he can deal with all of them. Because there is a religious nature of money, morality, justice. There is an inherent nature of the senses. So according to the laws of the senses you are dealing with the senses. Therefore even your sense gratification is religious. Your artha is religious. Therefore you have to have philosophy and religion. Otherwise how do you deal?
Devotee (1): Why is prana-maya not addressed emotion? It seems prana-maya is more free from emotion on the platform of intelligence.
Maharaja: What generates emotion?
Devotee (1): The mind
Maharaja: So the mind and the sense how long does that last?
Devotee (1): Long.
Maharaja: The mind and having done a good deed how long does that last?
Devotee (1): Longer.
Maharaja: The mind and a relationship where there was real commitment between two persons that acted for each other’s benefit. How long does that last?
Devotee (1): Longest.
Maharaja: That means they are getting something that means people who are interested in emotion and those kind of taste go into prana-maya and in this way they taste something but how much is there? But if you are dealing on the platform of nature that is different, that is emotion that is different. We will get to rasa that is the next point after this. Then these things will make a little bit more sense.
Then Vijnana-maya is intellectual understanding between body and soul. We understand the nature of the soul. If you think the body is the soul that is not vijnana-maya. It is not even mana-maya because they don’t even understand what is the nature of something, they can’t even understand the nature of the body, the body is temporary, so how is that going to be the soul?
Ananda-maya, absolute knowledge, our relationship with Krsna, Krsna consciousness. This is important for us. It also could be said to be the happiness to be situated on the Brahman-platform. Vijnana-maya is that knowledge by which you have realization. But actually coming to that liberated platform you could say it is there, the happiness from liberation is there but for the devotee that is inconsequential. Means what a fraction of a portion of a drop compared to the unlimited ocean of bhakti. So who is going to care for that drop? It is not even a full drop. Technically that is where it would go but we don’t bother with it.
Another interesting thing just on varnasrama here. Anna-maya because you are dealing with the senses, the sudras, their field is engaging the senses, or expressing themselves through the senses. In other words, by the senses whatever is their interest is what’s getting done. If it is fine arts then it is through music, that’s through the senses. If it is just getting something other aspects, you can see it, or there is some aesthetic value to it or some texture or something like that. Or if it’s just you are getting something done, you dug the hole in the ground. But it was your senses that you were utilizing to dig the hole. That is the natural platform of the consciousness of that occupation. Then for vaisya it is prana-maya because economics, you need justice and morality. If there is no morality someone is going to steal your money. If they have stolen your money without justice you won’t get it back. Therefore vaisyas are very overwhelmed by morality. If you have a devotee has done something that is immoral basically vaisyas have a real hard time forgiving them, they just can’t because it’s against their occupational position. So unless they have advanced nicely spiritually then from a devotional platform of course because the devotee is automatically a brahmana, he can forgive. But if not, so you see a lot of times devotees no but he did this, but that was 25 years. Why can’t they let go? Because of that mentality. That is always a weakness there. But they are going to see it through money, through morality, through justice. That’s going to be their vision. So when somebody is talking and all they talk are these elements there is a good chance that that’s their nature. Or if they are talking expression, that freedom and those things, then you are talking about a sudra.
Mano-maya, that is ksatriya – you are talking about dharma, establishing dharma, according to dharma. Seeing that everyone else is doing their dharma.
Vijnana-maya, that is brahminical – that you distinguish between the body and soul. The sastra, everything is according to that authority. In other words, there should be an elevation to it, not just the dharma, dharma should go further, you should go to self-realization.
Ananda-maya, then one is always talking about devotional service.
Devotee (1): That is the Vaisnava.
Maharaja: That is the Vaisnava.
Devotee (1): In our preaching we try to take people on a lower level of consciousness and preach to them you are not the body, ananda-maya as well and we tend to skip over the platform of religion. Should it be more gradual?
Maharaja: No, religion goes on right now. Religion you can introduce immediately. If something descends so what comes down first, the higher principle or the lower principle?
Devotee (1): The lowest.
Maharaja: How would it be the lowest, the lowest what’s going on on ground zero. Descending means it starts from Krsna and then the principles behind the transcendence and then how that comes into the sastra in the material world that we understand that form of it, then the rules that are there, then the applications of it, then the application to what’s going on now. So it is starting from the top and descending down how far it has to come. So it is always strong. Ascending knowledge means you start with the senses and then you try to get it up to there which it never can get.
What happens is prana-maya is taken as religion. If someone goes out let’s say into the forest and somehow or another they observe the peacefulness of the forest that comes from the natural laws of God being followed and they have an epiphany they will call that spiritual. All it was is they had is they had a very nice experience and noticed the environment of a human being in a forest which is the mode of goodness. That’s all. But that was a great spiritual experience and they might be able to go back and write so many books and give lectures and do so many things on. So they think it is spiritual but it is not.
So religion has been dropped down to prana-maya. And then within that you call that spiritual. And so religion actually people don’t really know. If anybody is successful in any area they have some understanding of the nature of the thing they are dealing with, that’s why they are successful. Someone who understands the nature is successful, someone who doesn’t doesn’t. So when they give these self-help books they generally giving you different things about how to deal but they are not actually explaining the nature.
Like they say be nice to Mr. Smith in your company and then he will work harder for you. That’s all the vaisyas are interested in so that’s all what is in the book. But why should Mr. Smith respond because you are nicer to him? Because he is dependent. You are the vaisya he is the sudra therefore he is dependent. Therefore your pleasure means his prosperity. Therefore if you take care of him, you notice him because he is dependent therefore he will be more insecure so you notice him or his work or his facility he is going to feel more secure. Feeling more secure he works more. So does any management book explain that? No. Because they are explaining prana-maya, they are not explaining religion.
Therefore management and social structure when we take it from these books it is not actually social structure. Otherwise why is it in dealing 20 years with these things a social structure hasn’t been established? They can’t. Because there is nothing to work with.
And devotees aren’t that materialistic so they can’t go to the root of the First World where you just put economics in the front. And for that economics therefore you have to have this justice and other things like this in place, otherwise the economics won’t work. You can see that economics is the prominent thing otherwise why do they allow all the gambling, all these other things, intoxication, because that’s the highest revenue that has come out of that. Therefore economics is the main.
So their point is we’ll do these activities that are technically immoral but they are part of the mleccha-social life, so as long as they don’t go over the top and don’t get extreme with it there will be no problem. As long as the guy only spends his extra money on gambling it is fine, but if he spends all his money then we also have to bring it within the prana-maya welfare agencies that help him get over his gambling, take care of the family. But they don’t get rid of the gambling, because they don’t deal with dharma. But a king his duty is to get rid of gambling, he does that then his kingdom will go nicely. Because if gambling is not going on then the families will work fine because gambling means you are gambling something that you need for your family, it should be given in charity, it should be used in Krsna conscious activities, otherwise where do you get the money from. So it breaks down relationships, it breaks down your service, it breaks down the methods that you advance by.
5 levels of acquiring knowledge.
They are connected and dealing with these same 5 levels. But now we are taking it how is the knowledge gained in there. Means the first one was the consciousness, but now that consciousness has a method to gain knowledge. Then you have pratyaksa, paroksa, aparoksa, adhoksaja, and aprakrta.
Pratyaksa – means the senses. Your consciousness is on the senses, and you gain your knowledge from the senses. The animals do this, they are on that platform, the scientists are on this platform. Oh sorry I didn’t mean to mention them together. This platform is just the beginning stage of life. Means unless one goes above this it doesn’t really serious.
Human life starts at mano-maya, if it’s below mano-maya it is not human. That’s why the systems of ethics, morality and justice, if they are not coming from dharma they don’t establish human society. Krsna consciousness goes with human society, therefore with varnasrama. To try to establish a social structure below that means you try to establish this high philosophy for animal life, may be sophisticated animal life but it is animal life. And then the difficulty comes is that in doing that because they are situated there then they want to reject human life, which means varnasrama, so those situated in animal life militate against varnasrama because that is human life.
Then you have those means what we were talking about before if there is not the balance and you have those that are situated in mana-maya but if it is only the element of the rule part not the application part then they don’t consider very nicely anyone in artha or kama. So in this way these two fight with each other.
Paroksa – means you are getting your knowledge from someone else, in other words someone else’s senses you are getting the knowledge from them. Because the prana-maya is extended sense gratification. Means it is based on the senses. Means I get my knowledge hearing from the next door neighbour who thought, or they got it from their neighbour who thought, or however lengthy the parampara is.
Aparoksa – means it is experienced, it is not seen through the senses. So that means you perform your religious duties, it generates an experience. So that’s how you gain that this was working. Adhoksaja – means the Lord has descended into it, so that perception of the Lord in it. Because we can distinguish between matter and spirit. But here is that spirit we can distinguish, the Lord’s element in it, or the soul. In other words we can distinguish Brahman. And ideally we can discriminate grades of Brahman.
Aprakrta – means it is transcendental. There you are dealing with the transcendental mind and senses.
So we’ll discuss this more on Thursday, we get into detail on that, then we go into rasa and how rasa is situated in these five. (end of lecture)
Devotee (1): Regarding the aparoksa, on the level of prana-maya let’s say you feed a starving child it’s still experience, it’s not hear saying.
HH BVPS Maharaja: It’s there, so that aspect is aparoksa, but the point is the depth of it, means it is. Means aparoksa is that where the experience of it. Means in other words, it’s the unobserved. Because as soon as you go and turn to the friend and say, oh isn’t this nice you are not experiencing it any more because now it has gone to the intellectual where you are distinguishing, the mind is accepting or rejecting this is nice. So immediately it has gone to another platform.
Devotee (1): Each level of consciousness contains all the proceeding ones.
HH BVPS Maharaja: Yes, but one should be aware of them. If one is not like you have people who are situated on this vijnana-maya but they don’t necessarily consider other things, so they are insensitive to those. The best is if you understand them then you are willing to put some energy into that you may be transcendentally situated but others are not therefore understanding the nature of the conditioned soul they need things therefore you encourage them in a nice family life to take care, to do all these nice things but in such a way that it is according to dharma so that they get purified.
Devotee (1): So in our preaching then that verse anudvega-karam vakyam, means austerities of speech is not agitate anyone’s mind and simultaneously speak the truth. That’s one strategy for preaching is to actually not…
HH BVPS Maharaja: What is your definition of ‘not disturbing’? That is what I mean the liberals don’t have any standards. Not disturbing means I am giving them straight Krsna consciousness in such a way that they can accommodate it. ‘Not disturbing’ does not mean I do not talk about Krsna consciousness.
Devotee (1): What about developing friendships…
HH BVPS Maharaja: But what’s the purpose of that friendship? Why are you using friendships as a medium if it is not dynamic? If it is just friendship that means you want friendships. You consider those professionals something special, you want to be friends with professionals. You are just an average ho-hum mister john smith. And now these guys run banks if you can move with them it moves you up socially that’s why you just want to be friends with them.
A guy who is a professional walks in and just talks straight. A bank manager in Krsna consciousness and goes to another bank manager and says you run a bank, you got a good position you got good money, you are well-situated, everyone respects you but you are not happy. Yes. I know how you are going to be happy. You are not understanding and considering there is more beyond the money, the social position. Because you have it all, the material you all have, so there is something beyond. You are not catching the spiritual. A devotee will talk like that? No. But they talk like that.
They are tip-toeing around because they don’t actually know the nature of what they are dealing with. Professionals means they know how to deal with material energy, they know it has a nature and know how it works. So they just want to hear who they are and what their nature is. And devotees come in tip-toeing around, don’t say you’ll disturb. Say it nicely but know the nature of it and get in there and what it is.
Then you have your New Age. Then they are looking for experiences. But then these experiences don’t last, they don’t maintain, it is not something they can share with others because there is no way you create an external environment that you had that experience in but it doesn’t necessarily create it for them so they don’t even know how to generate that because there is no knowledge at all. It is only experience. The other guys have experience, means they have knowledge how to do the things but the experience they are getting from it is not what they are expecting. They expect something beyond. Therefore you talk to the New Ages in a slightly different way, they are experienced and all that, we want to create that sustainable experience but that can only come when we are talking with the soul. Because they can use all these words. A New Age can use every word that we have in our dictionary. They have no problem with this. So where is this you can’t talk straight the philosophy. New-age you can talk as straight as you want. And to the professionals down to earth.
And your ho-hum man he just wants to be told straight also. But in simple language. The professional it needs to be something technical that he can understand that you understand the mechanics. And the common just wants to know what do I do. You are the servant of God you are not recognizing it so therefore God is not happy so how are you going to be happy. If you water the root of the tree then the whole tree is happy so you are not watering the root of the tree so you have to do service to God. You can say that to anybody. If we are sitting in front of them that means there is some interest especially if they have come to us, Prabhupada makes that point you go out you sell according to the market rate they come to you you set the price. So we make these places that people come to us and then they just tip-toe around. They don’t mind.
Do you think at a yoga club that they are having on the 33rd on the 6th floor over there and they meet Wednesday night’s and do their yoga asanas. Would they mind if the person who is organizing it had some connection or friend who is a yogi form India and he came with a beard and long hair and robes, do you think that all those people who learn yoga would get upset? Then why would they get upset if we came in our dhoti’s and all that? Why, we are yogis. We wear bed sheets. Yogis like bed sheets. We are not saying they have to wear bed sheets then they might get upset. Because the point is even they have their concept. You can say they should be able to wear whatever they like. Ok they are doing the yoga asanas. What if someone comes in with a tight tank top and a jistring. Are they going to be happy? No because they developed that religion that yoga means the whole body and so they wear leatars. That is the yogic thing to do. Or it can be some kind of loose fitting, natural cloth of more natural colors, you can also get away with that. If you are coming in from that side that the other one is coming. But you couldn’t wear some sparkly, you couldn’t wear what Marilyn Monroe used to sing Happy Birthday to Elvis Presley. But it fits like a leatar. So it should go. But they won’t go for, why? Because they themselves have already created a religion. So we are going into this thing and say don’t talk religion but they already have one. They are looking for one that’s why they are doing yoga. They are looking for religion. Because they don’t actually know what yoga is. They formulize it outside externally and then we are happy to go on in that and think we have done a great job. Oh they are vegetarian. Big deal, so are the birds. They are taking prasada that is a big deal. But that they are vegetarian so what?
If you use that as a medium to get to that that is there. But it is a medium and as quick as you can get through you will. I am slowing this business, take it slow like that, so maybe after 20 years I may make the investment and sell that thing. No, as quick as possible that you can make the investment and get the profit you will do it. As soon as there is an opening you go for it. Oh no don’t say like that we can’t say like that. No, do like this, say this: I cannot do that. I don’t have the faith. I don’t have the understanding. I don’t have the skills to preach like that therefore because of my false ego I don’t want anybody else to preach like that because that would mean that I am not first rate and I am American and I have to be first rate. Say that then I’ll go ok. Yes I won’t talk like that. But they say, well you know you can’t, this is BS.
New-age is something new to them. Therefore they are so enamored by it. Professionals are new to them therefore they are enamored by it. Those people from those kinds of families go right in and throw the weight around because they are not intimidated by them. Why does a celebrity like to be with a celebrity? Because they can just be relaxed. Or a wealthy man or a powerful man, those people in that position they move together because they can just be themselves, they can relax. They don’t have all these people standing around. They don’t want someone talking about spiritual life who is that either.
We are saying that so that one has the confidence. But the point is use words and examples and everything that they can understand and you move with the speed that they can do. Whatever they are taking emphasize that but that doesn’t mean you don’t try to get others done. They like the prasada then you get that happening. Then they don’t read much you can give them tapes, listen to kirtans. Then slowly slowly other things will come. But it is not that they are only in the food so forget about the chanting, forget abou the philosophy. No, you find a way where that can come in also at the speed that is natural. But it is according to them not according to you.
That is the difference is my talking to the other person and explaining Krsna consciousness is at the speed that they can take it not at the speed that I can give it. But here they are talking, oh you can’t talk like that that means that it is based on me not on them. And then they are talking that they are very liberal and modern, that is very regressive. Progressive means I am dealing according to the other’s needs but what they are doing is dealing according to their own needs. I don’t have the faith in that to actually deal like this. I go out in my bed sheets and I think people think I look stupid. And no one would want to look stupid and be part of that religion.
Just because they see a priest out on the street doesn’t make them I want to be a priest. No but they go up to him and ask him about things about God and their life etc. So everybody accepts that at least the brahminical order wears bed sheets. Every religion in the world their brahmanas wear bed sheets. In fact their own Deity wears bed sheets. They all wear bed sheets. So what’s the problem with bed sheets. There is no problem with it. It is all in their own mind. It’s their own conditioning, their own insecurities.
And if they say no no people get and throw…but you don’t dress nicely, they may have that but you deal nicely. Somebody sees the Dalai Lama for the first time Dalai Lama for the first time he may also think O I don’t know about this but if the Lama deals with him nicely then he will go and tell I met the Dalai Lama today and he is a nice guy and we talked about karma… so it is relationship.
Therefore these people are impersonal because it is all based on themselves, they don’t know how to work for others, they don’t have that faith, conviction that drive – therefore they can’t do it. And then they are claiming no one else should do it because whatever they do is perfect. But it is still all about themselves, what happened to Krsna as the Self, not your mind and senses, your social position and security. We don’t mind addressing that but understand what is the standard of that, what is real in these areas. These things don’t fly.
Prabhupada walked in he couldn’t care less. He walks into the university of Stockholm in the 70s they are really big on equality. He goes in and what’s his lecture on: varnasrama. And how does he even deal with saying the different levels of varnasrama. First class man, second class man, third class man, fourth class man. Now if that is not going to get under some university student skin. But that is how you get them to think. Otherwise he could talk love and peace and they go very nice and go away and nothing will change. But he goes in and says that. Then what does it generate? They heard all the knowledge, they heard all the logic it makes sense but they don’t like it then they ask him but who are you. Then he says I am fifth class servant of the other four. Then bang he has got the whole audience. That’s preaching. That’s intelligent. This thing hiding behind something that they don’t even know what it is. They describe that they are doing something universal everyone can relate to. The only thing everyone can relate to is God. Otherwise their background and this and that. It’s like some of these people as a karmi I would never be their friend. I would never have anything to do with them. I would never do anything that they would do. And there is so many groups of devotees they would have to do with anybody else. And then they are going to say is, oh this is the universal. Universal what, you are going out in your funky looking pants and not well matching shoes and shirt and you want to call that that’s universal.
If you say in the west what would a gentleman wear? The first things that comes to mind would be a suit. So that’s the universal outfit. So I don’t see them wearing that. That’s the universal, that’s what Prabhupada had them wear. If you wear karmi clothes you wear a suit. Not saying that that’s what has to be there but that’s what I am talking about is the principle. It’s accepted. Because even if they say we are trying to get it across. But how they go out isn’t also impressive.
I can remember two or three devotees that I can ever remember in karmi clothes that actually look decent. Very few dress nice.
Devotee (1): Then one of the important aspects is that we don’t want to waste time, we’d rather focus.
HH BVPS Maharaja: Yes, why waste your time, Lord Caitanya left Bengal because he has to tip-toe around and they don’t accept. So therefore He goes somewhere else. So if it is so difficult, you can’t preach to anybody in America, pack up, over here, there is lots happening over here, we can use your help.
Devotee (3): Regarding the process of preaching, basically the rules or attending are laid down already by the scriptures and the practice and the teachings and the learnings. And sometimes also we see apply it, the devotees have focus on the communities and congregation. Sometimes there is always activity there they become authority because they practice. In due course of time this community needs support of institution. Do they imagine something particular about the different aspects of seniorities in a sometimes overlapping this commission. Can you elaborate on the natural circumstances junior devotees having to eventually directly preach, or eventually yes, to apparently or practically or historically corrupted or deviated perception of what to do.
HH BVPS Maharaja: It’s like you have Yudhisthira, he is a ksatriya. You have Dhaumya who is a brahmana. Who is senior? Dhaumya is the senior. But who is managing the world? Yudhisthira. So these are concepts that are there in the Vedas. The Western it always got to be this very linear kind of thing. But in India all the Maths, the spiritual head is not the manager of the math. They have managers. They are generally grhasthas. Even Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura is like that. He’d have your spiritual leader in the temple and then you had your Math manager and he is generally a grhastha, he’d come at nine o’clock, leave at five o’clock and this and that and do whatever he does, and the other ones are there all day.
So this ability to balance these things. The difficulty comes is just the Western conditioning is so strong and they are so proud of it that they can’t get passed it. The thing they keep is that Western drive, that Western desire for making something perfecting it. That’s to be kept. And any technique that they know that is useful that’s to be there. But to keep that false ego and think because we are Western we are superior. That can be kind of detrimental.
Devotee (3): But what about a devotee who helped found the pillars of this institution?
HH BVPS Maharaja: So that’s nice, but it goes both ways. Just as let’s say you have a temple president. He is a junior devotee, he is not a Prabhupada disciple, let’s put it that way. And in his community there are Prabhupada disciples and they established that place 30 years ago just before the Dinosaurs weren’t extinct, I am not sure whether Lincoln was shot at that time or not, but it was around then. Then they did all this kind of stuff. And since that time they have kind of been preserving themselves from Aldehyde until now. And then somehow or another someone knocked over the bottle or from Aldehyde drained out and they are back again.
So the point is they have done it, they established that, so they are respected for that. And so therefore who is the temple president then would respect that and they’d be given some considerations, social etiquettes and that is there. At the same time is that senior person he has to respect the authority of the temple president and his authority to make the arrangement. He can’t just say because I am senior I walk in I do whatever I like. That is not respectful. It goes both ways. And it says according to Manu if by offering respect to someone they don’t return it you don’t have to respect them. So therefore all these so-called senior men if they won’t respect you because you do have the position, you are the temple president, if they won’t respect that, they themselves are unrespectable. So we don’t have to deal with them technically. They can yell and scream, jump up and down, they are Prabhupada disciples, nice, but you are not acting like one. So therefore we can’t deal with you like one. You come in say this and that, shriek your mouth off, so I am the authority here, so you can’t come here.
And even if you really want to have some real fun which I wouldn’t pull out of the bag until it gets really nasty is that you say you are senior you have been around now for 40 years, how many years of that was active dynamic devotional service that you are doing the things that you claim that you are senior for? When did you leave? You left in ’78 after Prabhupada did? Or you made it to ’82, or you were with the big bang in ’86. So that means you are around 12 years. Don’t mind but this junior disciple that you are talking about he has been temple president here for 15 years. That means he has done more active dynamic service then you did by time. You can say you did more but you can’t say that you have been around longer. And he hasn’t left. He joined he is still here. You joined you left. Now you have come back after how many years? What was that 17 I heard? Yes.
Devotee (3): Still it would be proper to address as you are doing.
HH BVPS Maharaja: Means I would address them like that if they got out of the hand. But the other one generally they wouldn’t. But at the same time they have the right to managerially say that they can’t come to the temple or no one can deal with them. If they want to come for darsana and all that, that’s fine, as long as you behave yourself. If you are not going to behave yourself you are not welcome here. You want to take darsana I give you a bus ticket you can go up to Chicago and take darsana there.
But the point is there is that they can’t take advantage. Part of the problem is that the present day devotees are afraid of these people because they are leaders, they are powerful. They just come in, they talk, people listen, so in this amount of time they can take over control of anything. Because they were trained by Prabhupada, they have that potency from that. That doesn’t go away. Krsna even you leave Krsna consciousness He doesn’t take away your opulences. So someone who was an expert speaker before they have been gone off for 20 years, when they come back they are still just as dynamic a speaker, or kirtana or whatever it is, they are still the same. Because those are just spiritual opulences they are not affected by time.
So there are I would say many the reason it doesn’t happen is because they afraid. You bring 4, 5, 6 of them back they take over. It doesn’t matter you have 100 other managers, they run the show. At the same time is even if you had the sentiment that you wanted to do it because you can stir it up but you can’t maintain it because those devotees that are trying to come back themselves will not follow any etiquette and their egos are bigger than Mount Kailasa. And so they shoot themselves in the foot that no one wants them because they are just such mentality-wise and character-wise are so regressive. They are just as a person not a nice person to be with. They criticize, they this, they that, they don’t follow any proper culture, anything like that. And their point is everybody has got to accept me for who I am. Who said? Who cares?
So therefore if they would have the right attitude others should accept. So I am saying this two things has to go. So we see Hamsaduta comes back, he is humble, he has always been humble, but then they are afraid. Others come back and they are not humble and that freaks people out. So the point is both parties have to follow their part of the culture. And if they do that it will work. So in it you have to get the others to understand is, he says you may have started the yatra, you may have been trained by Prabhupada, that’s important, but this kid here is the temple president. So you can’t undermine. Because otherwise if you can undermine his things by politics he can undermine and it will be much easier to undermine you because you have been gone for a long time and you have got a history. So therefore five minutes he can undermine you. You’d have to do politics for weeks to get him. Therefore be smart. Understand who has got power. And when push comes to shove the GBC is going to support that kid not you. So therefore come in as a devotee, nice, humble and all that. You come in like that people will be coming to you and asking you don’t have to go out. You can just sit down at one place and everything will come to you. But if you want it all you get nothing.
Devotee (3):…variety also devotees always will be there.
HH BVPS Maharaja: Always will be there, but the ones that are the most dynamic are that ones that this etiquette has to be practiced by.
Devotee (3): By coming into the fall of the person management let’s say we also we would find adversity of moods and natures, the present devotee may also serving a particular need, inclination that was manifested in some managerial duties. Then the challenge also is for them how to relate to that not only in seniority in the aspect of Prabhupada disciple or whoever in the managerial aspect also they have responsibility…
HH BVPS Maharaja: But as authorities if you want this person to be involved then how much is the temple supposed to take care of them? They are living outside so then you give them service. They are living inside. Not that kind of thing.
Devotee (3): I expressed myself a bit perhaps from it. I said within the society, members.
HH BVPS Maharaja: Oh, within the society, the main point is that the society means I mean it’s very clear where we are going, then Rupa Goswami is the head, there is the parampara coming down there. That comes down to us as Srila Prabhupada. Then he has given that authority, means he has his books, he has the GBC, then he has his structure. So as long as that’s in place and that’s encouraged then everything, that’s the way it works, then it doesn’t matter who is coming from where or anything like that.
Devotee (3): I prefer also we practice constructive criticism, we are not trying to make politically correct certain issues. Although they may be junior, they are very intelligent and we don’t know exactly where they come from previous life.
HH BVPS Maharaja: Means the junior or senior?
Devotee (3): The junior, the new generation, I am trying to understand their position of how they will sometimes accept radical statements about you can see there is no progressive about the preaching field and they prefer eventually to focus outside the society.
HH BVPS Maharaja: But that is basically kind of useless. Because the society is a mission, it has a mentality, it has a method. You follow you then technically you are in the society, you don’t follow it technically you are not.
Devotee (3): No, no, if I am correct, because sometimes the society is still we are growing, it’s dynamic, we are recovering mistakes from the past, that’s perfect, but also it could be found. This is just a speculation I heard devotees say there are so many difficulties.
HH BVPS Maharaja: There are difficulties, but those difficulties were so long ago. They can’t stand on that. When I am saying this I am simply talking about the etiquette between the temple authorities or the yatra authorities and those senior devotees who are not functioning within. That was what I was talking there. The position of those temple authorities if they are properly following things according to how Prabhupada would have established them that’s another thing. Because the point is the big gurus disappeared 22 years ago. Most yatra were opened within some months and most people don’t even know who Hare Krsna’s are. So people don’t even know about us. So you have a fresh start. Who has ever heard about Bhavananda, Ramesvara, who knows? Most devotees if Ramesvara walked up they wouldn’t know who he is. In fact, someone told me that’s what was happening. He came to one of the LA’s, one of the Ratha-yatra, it may have been LA Ratha-yatra or something, and nobody knows who he is, it’s only some god-brothers know. And they are just dealing with him, oh can we help you here, this is a Ratha-yatra like that, LA was started by that, and he says kind of like yeah yeah ok. He was the guy that did it and he introduced him, oookay. Someone was just telling mean that just happened.
That’s nice but the whole thing is but they have done that as service to Srila Prabhupada, not to be recognized and for position and facility and all that. Means the president he tries to fulfil that as much as possible if the other one is trying to not act on that platform that is dynamic. Because otherwise how is he going to take care of this guy with the big inflated ego that used to do something. But what is he doing right now? It’s nice what you have done, that’s eternally goes around. But we are talking about right now. So right now you are doing nothing. So therefore based on that he is the temple president, he is doing something, you are doing nothing, so now who is senior? But at the same time is you did do something, in fact you did properly even more than that temple president. And the reason the temple president has this whole community is because of the work you did. So therefore in that way it goes. That both have to have mutual respect.
The whole point of the Vedic is mutual respect. The parent respects the nature of the child, the childness, therefore they deal with it properly. Because that childness has come from Krsna. Childness I don’t know if it comes out, childishness, no it doesn’t work, putratva, the inherent nature of the child, that is God. Therefore they respect and deal with it properly, but at the same time they are the parent, the child respects them for that. That’s the thing the Vedic is both respect each other.
Devotee (3): Does it reflect to you were talking about the other day about reflecting the ignorant nature.
HH BVPS Maharaja: So if you respect that you reflect that, so whatever those good qualities in that person who is senior you’ll reflect those, you’ll gain those yourself. But if you criticize then you’ll get those because that’s what’s on the mind, by association. Association means what’s in the mind.
Because Manu mentions association doesn’t mean that you sat next to them or did something with them. Association means that you accept their nature or associate with their nature. So it’s positive you get the positive, negative you get the negative. That’s why means even someone is good you should associate with the good part of it. But if not, technically speaking the devotees who criticism is their occupation they actually do a great service to other devotees because they take on their sins in those areas they criticize. So in that way they have done us a service. They have criticized us and said so many things but we become purified by that. So that’s the point.
It’s just like in the Vedic, it’s not that the person wears a particular outfit, does his particular thing that you know that this person is being punished. One it keeps him in the mentality, so he knows and keeps him humble. But it also helps him because those persons that aren’t actually of good standard will criticize and that will purify him also. But if it wasn’t seen he wouldn’t get the benefit of that purification. But that purification will come anyway because someone will criticize you for something else.
The whole thing is very dynamic and if it’s understood then it can be dealt with very, very pleasantly and personally and all that. But if it’s not then you can try to find that way to explain it that way but the truth is very strong, very straight-forward. But if you can present it, that straight-fowardness in a pleasant way.
That’s what your point was is the straight-forward element can be presented in a pleasant way. Like Prabhupada was talking to this feminist journalist about the shaved heads and all this, and he says why aren’t your legs not covered, and so Prabhupada at the end said better a cool head and warm legs. But because cool head it’s accepted, it’s using a phrase that that everyone will say yes he has got a cool head. By saying that then it throws it into a thing where you think it’s correct but at the same time it’s funny and she had nothing more to say. So he said what he wanted directly but he said it in a very pleasant way. That’s the secret.
The person has got the attitude that he can handle it then you may be more strong and direct if it’s necessary. But you start off softer, that doesn’t work then you go harder and harder and harder. Like punishment you just tell them this is wrong to do. They don’t do it, next time you get strong with them, next time there is some punishment.
So because of the comfortness, because of the commitment, because of the faith, because of the sense of mission that the devotees had especially back you could say in the 70s and early 80s therefore they would talk very straight, very rough but very to the point because they were also from New York but it was based on their commitment and faith, so it wasn’t wrong. Because it worked in those days. It also would create some feelings and all that, it may not be able to use now, that commitment that’s the thing. So it’s throwing out, oh no we can’t talk like that. No, it is you can talk like that. Means the point is what was being talked was they were expressing their faith and commitment. That you have to talk. Maybe that presentation isn’t ideal. But all you do is change the presentation but you don’t change the mood. But what they are doing now is changing everything. Because they have changed the mood therefore the presentation has changed. Oh we can’t do like that therefore they change, so it’s still going on the mood. So even themselves or they are thinking I am going from this external to this external because that’s all they see but in reality which is the unseen that they don’t know is they are going from the internal to the internal. If felt bad I spoke like this, I feel bad now presenting like this so that felt bad was presented like this, so this feeling bad means I can’t present it like that. So it still goes back it’s all about them.
The lady walked out of the room in the class, did the temple president or anyone there that was concerned catch her and talk to her and find out what was the real problem? So therefore do they really care about that lady walking out the room or is it simply supporting their own ideas of what modern preaching is. Otherwise that lady could have walked out of the room because she had an appointment at some place and so it just happened to go inside there, it could have been. It could have been what’s being talked about and the personal relationships is exactly what she wants but no one, she has never seen it anywhere and that gives her pain and so she doesn’t want to talk about it, not that it’s not a subject that she doesn’t like, and that’s why she left. But they didn’t talk, they don’t know.
So therefore what’s the basis of their thing? Their faith that you can only talk like this. They are just noticing that there is New Age people and starting to talk to them. I have seen Ramesvara back in the 70s and 80s talking to these people very successfully. There has been devotee who can deal with this for a long time. Because they knew it existed. But these others it’s the first time they have bumped into it.
So it’s a matter of that faith and commitment, you’ll find a way. Oh you can’t talk like that. Maybe you can’t, but what are you doing that you are getting the same effect as before, where are the people joining? So you are not getting the effect. You think just I came out, said something, it was there, and ok that’s nice. But what about changing people’s lives? That’s what we are here for. So you change their life and you may use various mediums that are attractive to them. Ok you want to use yoghurt, great. But change your life don’t just teach them how to do some asanas and make some money and that’s it. So if that’s how you are going to maintain, but then say it’s your occupation, don’t say it’s your preaching.
I run a yoga studio, I make money off it, I maintain my family, I am able to give something to the temple. Say that, that’s nice, that’s great. I run a bakery, I sell donuts, great. And because they were devotees there is a touch of preaching in it but it’s not really a preaching field. But to say you run a yoga studio and you made some money and that’s it then how is that preaching?
Acyutananda went out in Kumbha-mela, he had his kamandulu and his danda, he would go up to, he would see the city people, the worthy gentlemen, he would come up to them and basically like this and he touched them on the head and then hold his pot and some put money in it, or they didn’t put so much money he pushed a little harder on their head and they gave something more until they have the right amount of donation. And so he did that all day, he came back and then they devotees say wow Prabhupada, Acyutananda he collected so many thousands of rupees and all that, and he says yes but what preaching? There was no preaching done. So Prabhupada wasn’t impressed. Ok he got money. But what if he had spoken something to them and then, they might have even gotten more.
So the point is we understand time, place and circumstances but they talk straight. How is it that they talk in Russian in the communist countries or in China where it’s not allowed to talk Krsna consciousness but there they are making devotees by talking straight Krsna consciousness. So in America there is a rule no Hare Krsna’s? So what is stopping us? That’s the thing. The only ones stopping us is us. Prabhupada said there is nothing from outside that can destroy this movement. So there is nothing they can do they can stop it. Maybe this person doesn’t like but those ten people did. So that’s the point. So now if you can figure out how to catch that one person also that’s better. But to say because that one person walked out therefore I won’t preach to these other ten that’s kind of a bit useless.
Devotee (4): You mentioned this so-called old religious, sometime between devotees happened like this. They may distribute their own religious a little bit covered. Why it is happening? How to deal with such devotees? Sometimes they are old devotees.
HH BVPS Maharaja: Generally it’s just deal with those devotees that you have friendship or influence with and just make that strong. And because this other thing is weak it will fall apart with time and make whatever you are doing strong and. (end)
(Transcription by Uddhava Priya Prabhu, used with permission)
(minor adjustments made by site authors)