(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 29 October 2014, Vrindavan, India, Srimad Bhagavatam 5.13.22)
Kunti Devi is explaining that one must be materially exhausted and take no more pride in the position of one’s birth, wealth, learning or beauty. However, it is very challenging to overcome tendencies of taking pride in those things. On Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance day, I was allowed to speak for a few minutes. I had a point in my mind that Srila Prabhupada was the most challenging personality the world has ever seen; no one ever challenged the world more than he did. He challenged in all kind of ways.
First of all, he challenged the world by his presence, just by being who he was, by being such an unalloyed pure devotee, so totally selfless – by being ready to do anything and everything to spread Krsna consciousness to a point that is just mind blowing!
Furthermore, he challenged the world by his teachings that were completely uncompromised – four regulative principles, minimum sixteen rounds – so challenging for us as we have to do it every day. Every moment in our life, we seem to be challenged and in that challenge, we know very well that we are falling short… We know that maybe externally we are his follower but internally how much are we truly? We recognize that we want, to a certain extent, a comfortable position and some recognition – some janma, some aisvarya, some sruta, some sribhir – some recognition for who we are, for what we have, for what we know; and we consider ourselves very handsome, aristocratic and beautiful. So, we are challenged! And when we become dull headed, then that challenge just does not touch us as we become complacent and simply do not care.
There are extreme examples, like in this temple in the past, there was one devotee who had a bead bag but we found out that there were no beads inside! That is kind of missing the point, isn’t it? But even if we may have beads – are we really chanting or are we counting our rounds? To what extent are we really taking things to our heart or are we just dull headed? Our dull headedness, our inner resistance, is due to the mode of ignorance. It is due to our unwillingness and stubbornness that we do not want to follow; it is due to pride that covers us over. So, this dull headedness is a serious problem.
Still, Srila Prabhupada says that arguments offered by pure devotees to their disciples are so convincing that even a dull headed disciple is immediately enlightened with spiritual knowledge. It is a fact – in this movement, it is difficult to just go on automatic pilot and not be confronted with our own shortcomings, because again and again, we hear it and read about it. We are confronted by that theme that returns again and again that we should do better – wake up calls are coming so many times.
So we should ourselves take the medicine. Why wait for someone else to bring it to us, why wait for someone to bring and say, ‘Take your pills?’ In other words, we ourselves have to turn to the pure devotee. Nowadays, everything is so widely available electronically. To have some lectures of Srila Prabhupada or any vaisnava on our phone is very easy, but to push that button, to turn it on, seems to be very difficult! But we must make that effort, to go all the way and lift the hand and push the button. Oh, it is very painful for the finger to push! But that much effort has to be made. And that is where our dullness tends to interfere. We feel, ‘Too much trouble – my phone is all the way on the other side of the room! Too difficult!’ No time, no this, no that!
So what we need in our life is a culture of cultivation of Krsna consciousness. That is what Srila Rupa Gosvami had explained, krsnanusilanam, that we must cultivate our Krsna consciousness. A regular practice or cultivation of Krsna consciousness is also what Krsna mentions in Bhagavad-gita (8.8), abhyasa yoga-yuktena cetasa anya-gamina. It does not just come by hearing once – we are too dull – we have to hear it a hundred times and if we hear it a thousand times then maybe we will think, ‘Well, maybe I should actually also do this. Somehow or other, I got this idea that maybe I should follow this.’ That is what it takes before we are actually ready to act upon it. So let us hear about Krsna!