In this verse, the Lord directly says that the quality of fame belongs to women. So we are left to wonder why there are so few women of renown in the world even when there are great artists, writers, scientists and philosophers amongst them. Few are aware of their work and often they are given no credit for their innovations. The mystery lies in the fact that although women are the ones who allow fame as seen in this verse—yet due to their envy of one another they suppress their own glory.
The transcendentalist who has overcome the inebriety associated with either womanhood or manhood is far removed from these problems. A spiritual woman gives credit to other women while the spiritual man is caring and respectful to all creatures regardless of their gender. A spiritual person sees part of himself or herself in others since Shri Krishna dwells in all hearts in the form of Paramatma. Souls who are advanced in spiritual realization easily recognize how a living entity in a female body can be a male and vice versa. A spiritual person recognizes the qualities of Shri Krishna—even if such excellences are found in only minute amounts—as this distinction is manifested in every living entity. While those who are deluded may judge even an elevated soul on the basis of his or her gender, the faithful bhakta respects the devotional excellence in each one of his Godbrothers and –sisters.
Turning away from neophyte association, advanced souls prefer to associate only with kindred souls who reflect similarly elevated qualities. A spiritual man who has developed his feminine side may find it difficult to express his gentle emotions in a society wherein men are expected to pose as macho or even unfeeling. A spiritual woman may find herself pushed into a conventional female role or even abused on the account of that role, which could be especially painful. Yet an advanced soul, even if residing in a female body, will transcend the impositions of social molds and live a life of detachment and renunciation through Krishna consciousness.
Substituting Spiritual Desires for Material impulses
Because a greater society’s goal is to integrate citizens from all walks of life, the predictable end result is a bloated middle class. The same principle may apply even to a society founded upon spiritual goals wherein it is the duty of advanced devotees to uplift those who are struggling in the center. The vision of the mahabhagavata is described by Shrila Prabhupada in the Krishna Book chapter entitled “Return of the Six Dead Sons of Devaki by Lord Krishna:”
“Lord Krishna intended for Vasudeva to see everything in the vision of a mahabhagavata, a first-class devotee. A first-class devotee sees that all living entities are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord and that the Supreme Lord is situated in everyone's heart. In fact, every living entity has spiritual identity, but in contact with material existence he becomes influenced by the material modes of nature. He becomes covered by the concept of bodily life, forgetting that his spirit soul is of the same quality as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One mistakenly considers one individual to be different from another simply because of their material bodily coverings. Because of differences between bodies, the spirit soul appears before us differently.”
Any man can become a woman and any a woman can become a man. Although some soul can be trapped inside what appears to be an unfavorable body, this does not mean this person should be treated as though he is that body. Beyond the mere sex functions that chain the living entity to the material world, every soul can execute the same functions in the service of Shri Krishna and become free from material designations even while performing his or her daily activities. Shri Krishna has offered His personal example of respecting everyone as seen from His entering the city of Dwaraka: “Lord Krishna, the Personality of Godhead, approached them and offered due honor and respect to each and every one of the friends, relatives, citizens and all others who came to receive and welcome Him. The Almighty Lord greeted everyone present by bowing His head, exchanging greetings, embracing, shaking hands, looking and smiling, giving assurances and awarding benedictions, even to the lowest in rank.” (SB 1.11.21-22)
The understanding that the energies of male of female unite in each person despite one’s physical gender helps in the attempt to transcend material sex desire. A realized soul does not need to approach the opposite sex for sense satisfaction since both genders already intertwine in such a person. This kind of material sexless-ness does not mean that the advanced spirit soul does not have a spiritual identity—which is not based on karma but on the strength of attachment to Shri Krishna. For example, those stationed in shanta rasa have less attachment and those on madhurya rasa have the greatest attachment. Yet, we see that the devotees of Shri Krishna are not attached to some particular body since they may appear either as male or female to serve Shri Krishna. This holds true even as shown in the pastimes of Lord Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu that the eternal living entity is female in its eternal constitutional position.
Krishna Pleases His Devotees
The Supreme Lord Shri Krishna freely manifests Himself in whatever form He desires. Although His Damodara form is considered the best, His devotees adore the Supreme Lord in whatever form He appears. As seen in Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita (Adi Lila 17 286-293), when Shri Krishna appeared in His form of Lord Narayana before the gopis, they were not interested because they were attracted only to the three-curved, flute-playing form of Shyamasundara. Yet when Shri Krishna appeared in this same Narayana form before Shrimati Radharani, Her love for Him was so great that Krishna’s two arms melted away and He could not maintain His form as Narayana any longer.
Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, can manifest Himself in many different forms. Devotees must recognize and respect that every soul is His part and parcel. This cannot achieved by those who are envious and desire to lord it over the energies of the Supreme Lord. This achievement is only possible for the fortunate ones who by the grace of the pure devotee have love, attachment and trust in Shri Krishna. As told in the Krishna Book chapter entitled “Prayers by the Personified Vedas:”
“The personified Vedas presented the example that those who are seeking after gold do not reject gold earrings, gold bangles or anything else made of gold simply because they are shaped differently from the original gold. All living entities are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord and are qualitatively one, but they are now differently shaped in 8,400,000 species of life, just like many different ornaments which have been manufactured from the same source of gold. As one who is interested in gold accepts all the differently shaped gold ornaments, so a Vaishnava, knowing well that all living entities are of the same quality as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, accepts all living entities as eternal servants of God. As a Vaishnava, then, one has ample opportunity to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead simply by reclaiming these conditioned, misled living entities, training them in Krishna consciousness and leading them back to home, back to Godhead. The fact is that the minds of the living entities are now agitated by the three material qualities, and the living entities are therefore transmigrating, as if in dreams, from one body to another. When their consciousness is changed into Krishna consciousness, however, they immediately fix Krishna within their hearts, and thus their path for liberation becomes clear.”
WAR ON MAYA
Recently there have been discussions among devotees regarding whether a woman can take the post of a diksha guru. In the pursuance of solving this difficult issue three distinctive factors should be examined. The first is the women’s psychology; second, the technicalities that operate in the society of devotees today; and third the mechanics that control the world at large.
By the influence of material Nature and the Supreme Lord, the mentality of the woman is distinctly different from that of a man due to the fact that they are souls housed in different bodies. Regardless of the type of body we find ourselves born with, our nationality and our race, it is undeniable that the material conditions into which we have been born affect our mental frame. And neither are devotee exempt because material conditions affect devotional attitudes. Women have the specific facility to give birth. It does not matter whether a woman has given birth or not in her life: she looks upon herself as a mother and carries herself with that dignified importance. And she expects to be treated in a respectful way for her position.
Additionally, this universal fact about a women’s physical structure as mother also affects her mentality. The equality of women as a sort of universal mother naturally makes them feel that they should be treated with equality. It is seen that when an exceptional woman is respected her female friends become envious. This resentment amongst women longing for equal treatment is illustrated in the story of the poisoning of the son of King Chitraketu described in Shrimad Bhagavatam (6.14.42/43).
“Shri Shukadeva Gosvami continued: Being neglected by their husband and seeing Kritadyuti’s opulence in possessing a son, Kritadyuti’s co-wives always burned in envy, which became extremely strong.”
As their envy increased, they lost their intelligence. Being extremely hardhearted and unable to tolerate the King’s neglect, they finally administered poison to the son.
Therefore, considering the situation of most women at large, it is a delicate issue whether or not it is reasonable to allow an exceptional member of the fair sex to become a diksha guru. Young girls will not have a problem respecting that experienced Matajee, although her “peers” will certainly try to somehow poison her efforts. So, while considering a specificly qualified women for becoming diskha gurus we must also take into account the ramifications that are created by the situation. Even if the opportunity for the Woman Guru is kept open theoretically, this open-minded approach to a knotty situation will keep the peace within ISKCON.
Let’s look now the workings operating within ISKCON at present. Many devotees are in favor of women obediently following stri dharma or the duty of women as wives and mothers. One writer proposed that men should take initiation from a woman only of she is able to die with her husband at his burning ghat (although committing Sati really has nothing to do with spirituality). Sati has to do with attachment to a husband which is easily formed when a woman is married to the right man at early age. My own grandmother, who certainly was not a devotee of Shri Krishna, died shortly after my grandfather’s death due to her deep attachment to him. She is not an exceptional example even in modern times when the Sati rite is forbidden. But this kind of attachment can be formed only in a society whose strength lies in the fact that it is based on varnashrama. Some devotees want women to act on the level of varnashrama when, in fact, such a society is far from being in place. Moreover, in the system of varnashrama there is an undying respect for the role of the woman as mother which ensures that woman will be protected.
Thus today’s devotees should first understand the importance of motherhood in society. As devotees we should establish strong family units wherein compatible couples who are joined according to character and taste (as explained by Shrila Prabhupada (SB 3.24.15) can execute their devotional activities in an atmosphere of mutual peace and respect. As long as there is any is disrespect in the family, then varnashrama dharma cannot be properly established. Daily we experience that the International Society for Krishna Consciousness has not yet attained the functional model of varnashrama of which Stri Dharma is an essential element. Therefore, it seems a bit irrelevant to discuss the dharma of women—either as wives, mothers, devotees or gurus—since these duties are not yet properly established in our society.
It is a fact that the divorce rate in ISKCON is at least as high than the rate in the society of karmis. At least in the country I live in, Bulgaria, husbands and wives tend to have a far better rate of fidelity than I have witnessed in ISKCON. So much did husband and wife infidelity displease Shrila Prabhupada, that despite the fact that His Divine Grace introduced the concept of Vedic marriage to the West, he wrote the following letter to a woman disciple:
Letters : 1972 Correspondence : January : Letter to: Svati -- India : LT_720200_A1 :
So your husband has gone but you should not be too much worried, your husband will come back to Krsna consciousness, if not now then later. Anyone who has tasted the bliss of Krsna consciousness he cannot stay away for a very long time. So you should not be too much concerned. Do not be too much worried—forget the past, do not be attached to it for we are only thinking of how we may now please the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the devotees are always optimistic for the advancement of their spiritual progress. So in the meantime there is no question of any more marriage by you so you will become freed from the entangling grip of maya which means sex life. Just see, so many people are suffering so much just for a little sex life. I am so much disturbed by problems caused by sex life that I am not going to sanction any more marriages. Our devotees must do it at their own risk from now on and they must provide their own income for living together outside the temple or if they live in the temple they must live separately.
So who is teaching who? Is it not reasonable to expect that devotees should rise to that level which is socially accepted before attempting to reestablish varnashrama dharma (and stri dharma)? Devotional service to Shri Krishna comes first and foremost before any social or religious duty. This is the main instruction given by Shri Krishna for every one His devotees in Bhagavad Gita 18.66
mam ekam sharanam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
mokshayishyami ma shucah
Finally we should consider the world we live in and its effects upon devotees. Today devotees are very much part of the big society since properly insulated and self-sufficient communities have yet to be established for devotees to function independently from the large society. Many devotees, torn between karmi work and aintaining their families, barely find time to execute their devotional duties. It could be said that struggling devotees who ‘‘have their feet in two boats” are not really part of varnashrama dharma, but are part of some phantasmagorical new world order. For many, where exactly they stand in this or that world is open to speculation. To expect that devotee women that work karmi jobs to maintain their families are able and willing to follow stri dharma is a bit of a stretch to ask. They are already under pressure from so many quarters. In pursuance of its irrational sense gratification, the world at large has spun out of control and has gone certifiably insane.
With its unknown elite pulling the strings, this demonic world under the control of mad men is on the verge of cataclysm. In the crucial hours before us, it may be out of place to discuss whether women, men or whoever else is supposed to follow their quiet dharma. Dear friends, such notions are for such times as when everything is going fine. But when there is war and we are supposed to fight Maya with all our reserves, we should employ all our soldiers with full power. There are many examples in history when an important city is attacked and the citizens are on the verge of destruction. Then women also join alongside the men and engage in the struggle for life or death. This is our situation today. Maya’s soldiers are attacking and they are sometimes engaged in the most deplorable and wicked tactics. They are like Trojan horses that have been smuggled inside the very fortress of the city of our devotion.
It is unwise to mistake that everything in our Society is at peace and that we are now on the verge of establishing varnashrama dharma. No, this ideal of a perfect varnashram civilization is a dream for the future. Juts see how the world is being rapidly destroyed. Nature is crying because of demonic exploitation. People in general are being sedated by drugs into thinking ‘‘I’m OK, you’re OK” when actually they are being fattened up for mass extermination. There is a real war before us. Therefore devotee women should also be called up to fight in the army of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. At least in times such as those before us women should be prepared to preach in every possible way, and the qualified amongst them should become gurus. And those who have a qualified guru and are strong enough to take on the challenge should initiate. There are billions of living confused and deluded human beings stumbling through this world who need salvation while the number of initiating gurus is limited. The more devotees who can initiate the better regardless of their gender, nationality and race. It must understand that due to the strong responsibility that comes with initiation that a guru can take on only a limited number of disciples. Thus every devotee should qualify himself or herself to become diksha gurus now at this crucial moment in time.
Many living entities may approach the Society with the burden of heavy karma and a guru must be able to take on that burden of sinful reactions physically as well as mentally. Even from our astrological practices, which are based upon Krishna consciousness, that when a devotee comes to us with some karmic burden we must help in removing that karma to help the devotee clear his path to advancement. When a pandit or guide accepts the burden of karma which affects him or her, what to speak of a guru. Only by the mercy of our gurus and Shri Krishna, upon whom we completely depend, is the burden of taking on such karma minimized. A guru must be prepared to take on burdens. It is not a position for accepting the reverential worship of others and personal glory only. It is a post that comes with responsibility. There are many devotees who understand these risks and do not wish to become diksha gurus despite their personal qualifications. But such qualified members should be encouraged. A devotee does not mind giving his or her life to serve the mission of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Shrila Prabhupada wanted that all his disciples become gurus:
“We got this information from His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, and that knowledge is still going on. You are receiving through his servant. And in future the same knowledge will go to your students. This is called parampara system. It is not that you have become a student and you’ll remain student. No. One day you shall become also guru and make more students, more students, more. That is Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission, not that perpetually… Yes, one should remain perpetually a student, but he has to act as guru. That is the mission of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu… So we should become always a very obedient student to our guru. That is the qualification. That is the spiritual qualification.” Hyderabad, December 10, 1976 Lecture
The line between siksha guru and diksha guru is very subtle; often one guru develops to become the other:
“According to shastric injunctions, there is no difference between shiksha-guru and diksha-guru, and generally the shiksha-guru later on becomes the diksha-guru.” SB 4.12 Purport
The qualification for becoming a diksha guru should be determined by the desire of a certain person who longs for initiation for him or her. There cannot be a diksha guru when there is no disciple. This is the decisive factor. If someone is inspired by a particular advanced devotee then he or she can become his or her diksha guru ... And then, when peace prevails in the world and the fortress of the town of devotion is secured and varnashrama reestablished, at that time women can go back and practice their stri dharma. This is the ideal.
THE WOMAN AS GURU: WORDS OF SILENCE
There has been a discussion in circles of devotees regarding whether a woman can be a guru. Women are not famous for expressing themselves. They usually find it more convenient to reflect the ideas of their counterparts or their environment. They do not like to be disturbed by extraneous complications while performing their duties. For this sort of non-participation and offering half answers the world accuses them of double talk. So what would the energies of the Lord, which are all female, really say if they had time to talk on the guru issue? Although their position is ultimately silent, women do have an undeniable presence in the life of everyone.
Can the right of women to give birth be denied? Since time immemorial women have been mothers and they will continue to be mothers in the future. Although a minority of women may have not volunteered for motherhood, most of them have felt or will feel a great desire to have a baby. Nobody ever wanted you so much as your mother. She is the one that gave you your precious body which, according to Shrimad Bhagavatam, is your key to self-realization:
‘‘From the womb of Matrika, the wife of Aryama, were born many learned scholars. Among them Lord Brahma created the human species, which are endowed with an aptitude for self-examination.” (SB 6.6.42)
Now in this life we are supposed to become spiritually aware. How much do you understand this? Are you convinced of the truth of this statement? Whoever uses the resources of the Earth, who eats the food produced of Mother Earth and who drinks the milk of mother cow without acknowledging his debt is nothing more than a hypocrite. Those who refuse to acknowledge the value of this body given and nourished through the sacrifice of so many mothers should quit his body at once.
The word Rama means ‘‘the reservoir of all pleasures,” and the final syllable ma means ‘‘reservoir”. Our mother, our maas, represents different reservoirs of the Supreme Lord. Each one of your mothers—your natural mother, Mother Earth, mother cow—are essentially Shri Krishna’s energies. Anyone who takes advantage of the energies of the Supreme Lord should pay tribute to his mother. So how much do we owe our mothers? Just as women are silent, so it is the law of karma. We may be surprised to discover how much we owe later. Shrila Prabhupada says,
‘‘The Shrimad Bhagavatam lists seven mothers: our own mother, the wife of our teacher or spiritual master, the wife of a brāhmana, the wife of the king, the nurse, the cow, and the earth. We are indebted to all seven of these mothers.” From: A Second Chance
Even though the service of the mother appears to be mandatory and she performs it uncomplainingly; a mother cannot abandon her duties once she has undertaken them. But that does not mean the silence of the mother should be taken as an invitation to exploit her selflessness. Today in our world exploitation of resources is approaching its final crescendo. Civilization is on the brink and the world must make some crucial choices. Should society continue the dark road deeper into the depths of ignorance by killing its mothers—exploiting the earth, slaughtering the innocent cows, and destroying the family unit—then very soon there will be severe karmic retributions. It is now or never—the world must become Krishna conscious.
Rampant destruction of the resources that maintain us means killing our very selves because we still have material bodies. This body as well as all the resources it depends on is meant for the service of Shri Krishna. That means paying obeisances to all of the energies of the Supreme Lord. This is our ticket to liberation. Shri Krishna is not pleased when we abuse our mothers just as the Lord killed Kamsa to avenge the demon’s persecution of His parents. In Shrimad Bhagavatam 10.44.37-8 we find:
‘‘Grabbing Kamsa by the hair and knocking off his crown, the lotus-naveled Lord threw him off the elevated dais onto the wrestling mat. Then the independent Lord, the support of the entire universe, threw Himself upon the King. As a lion drags a dead elephant, the Lord then dragged Kamsa’s dead body along the ground in full view of everyone present. O King, all the people in the arena tumultuously cried out, ‘Oh! Oh!’”
Although he was killed personally by Shri Krishna and received impersonal liberation, Kamsa did not achieve a personal relationship with the Lord. For the devotee seeking the Lord’s eternal shelter through devotional service, the offer of liberation is unattractive.
Like a silent mother, the energies of the Lord may not be heard to say just how much they have been exploited by hypocrites. And in a like fashion, there are hardly any women who are writers or artists who have been acknowledged to have contributed anything to the world of expression. The Earth may appear not to protest when she is drilled for oil or her oceans and rivers used as dumps for poisonous substances. The mother cow seems to not protest when her children are stolen from her for veal or her milk runs dry and she is sent for slaughter.” A mother will not protest when a child abuses her. In this way a mother’s tolerance is considered a form of stupidity by the arrogant. Sometimes a simpleton is called a ‘‘dumb cow” by those who do not understand the silent forebearance of the worshipful gomata.
Mothers do not protest their service, but rather they find pleasure in their duties. Mothers are engaged in maintaining all living entities. From preparing the daily meal to providing milk to nurture a newborn’s body, women sustain life. And the more the living entities exploit their mothers the more the value of mothers’ resources becomes depreciated. Today women are no longer called mothers. Left unprotected by ravenous men, they are exploited by their own families, ill-treated in their places of worship, abused at their workplaces and some are even harmed by their husbands. And for that they must tolerate being called names other than mother, names that are too vulgar to repeat. In this way the world has forgotten its position through its obsessive exploitation of Shri Krishna’s energies. And by failing to acknowledge the Lord’s representatives, the devotees bearing the message of Shri Krishna sankirtana, an unrepentent world risks dooming itself through its failure to acknowledge its obligation to the Lord.
We must not forget that the first guru of anything born in this world is that entity’s mother. It is the mother who teaches us how to walk, how to talk, how to be independent. A mother walks the path of death when she gives birth. How glorious became King Yayati when he offered his flesh to a mere pigeon in order to save its life! And how much more glorious is one’s mother who gives a part of her body for her child? She sacrifices some of herself so that another may live and grow. In the beginning of life, we are no different from pigeons; mere babies without a name or past history. As common as a mother’s sacrifice is, it is no less glorious than King Yayati.
There is no need to officially declare that a woman should be a guru because that is her original position as mother. When you have called a woman “mother” or “Matajee” you have accepted her as your guru and as a representative of the nourishing energy of the Supreme Lord. By trying to fathom the many meanings that are contained within the word “mother,” we can understand a little of the mother’s sacrifice (and how she is connectd to the resources of the energy of the Supreme Lord). There is no need for futile wrangling, vainglorious discussions or hot tempered arguments whether women should be gurus or not. It is as senseless as arguing whether women should give birth or not. It is better to learn how to respect the mothers of the world and that is the last word. In that way the curse of Mother Durga in the form of karma that is silently waiting will not visit us.
Have you ever wondered why karma is nearly impossible to explain? Why do we suffer? What hidden deeds you we performed? The source of action is very difficult to pin down because it is lost in the smoky mists of a very dim past. But now by the grace of Shri Krishna’s pure devotee we can understand our situations. We have failed to respect the energies of Shri Krishna properly and to engage them in His eternal devotional service.
As Chanakya Pandit advises,
ka chinta mamajivane harir vishvambharo gayate
na ched arbhaka-jivanaya jana-nestanya katha nirmame
itity alochya muhur muhur yadupate lakshmipate kevala
tvat-padambhua-sevanena satata kalo maya nayate
Why should I be concerned for my maintenance while absorbed in praising the glories of Lord Vishvambhara, the supporter of all? Without the grace of Lord Hari, how could milk flow from a mother’s breast for the nourishment of her child? Repeatedly thinking only in this way, O Yadupati, O Lakshmipati, all my time is spent in the service of Your lotus feet. (Shri Chanakya Niti Shastra 10.17)
NEFARIOUS NATURE OF WOMEN
How many times have men been instructed, “Respect women! They are our mothers, daughters, sisters and wives.” Many women ignore the fact that there are also complementary instructions for them. They are advised to serve their husbands and keep family and tradition together. Instructions are usually given to provoke an action which is not easy to follow naturally. Some may ask what has gone wrong with these reasonable scriptural injunctions and wonder why women’s issues have always been the center of painful discussions throughout history.
From the beginning of its fall-down to the material world, the living entity has no idea how quickly the spiritual realm of existence is replaced by the material plane. At first, the soul continues to act as though he is still in the spiritual world. Yet soon enough, the mentality of sense enjoyment merges deeply within the soul. The living entity begins to live in a body which is to be enjoyed with every cell. Shrila Prabhupad compares the soul to pure water and the material desires to mud in the water:
“Not this body. This is material. I am speaking of our spiritual identification, that body. That is as good as God. The chemical composition is one. But similarly, as the rainwater falls down on the ground, similarly, as we come in contact with this material world.”
(SP lecture July 0, 1971, LA)
At the root of the mistaken goal of every lost soul pushing on within this material world is their deluded attempt at becoming the Purusha, the Supreme Enjoyer. Some may have the temporary benefit of a greater freedom to enact their role as enjoyer before their temporary folly is washed away with the tides of time. Others are left only to witness such momentary triumphs and feel cheated, feeling that they have been shortchanged of their due enjoyment. And it is for this very reason that women envy men.
At the very core of the mentality of women is their jealousy for those who have been given the opportunity to play the role of “Purusha.” Such feminine resentment is not always openly exhibited, although it goes to the very heart of women’s psychology. As the heavenly damsel Urvashi explains to the infatuated King Pururava (SB 9.14.36), strinam vrikanam hridayam: “A women’s heart is like that of a fox.” This may sound like a harsh verdict. Women have their own interests, which in the final analysis are not much different from those of men. It is said that women can kill their own husbands and fathers while persisting after their selfish desires. Once a woman has realized that she cannot directly materialize her desires to “enjoy as a purush”, she tries to accomplish them with subversive tactics. In this way, the living entity in the material world, whether trapped in a temporary male or female body, never gives up on the impossible dream of trying to match the Supreme Purusha.
The body of women is a double-edge knife. On one side, women are the representatives of the great material Nature, the embodiment of her army of sophisticated soldiers. On the other hand, being a woman is a hard crown to bear. Shackled in a powerful body, the woman is in the hands of natural forces and left with very little choice on her own. The body itself dictates the life of the woman, and if she wants to persuade spiritual realization, she must work twice harder as her male counterparts.
Nature has given limited choices to women. Being preoccupied in their demanding bodies, if not protected, women are easily seduced by men. Men give the impression that they can offer freedom to women because they have been given a greater dose of independence. The irony is that the union with men leads to more imprisonment for the women. Since women cannot be enjoyers on their own, once trapped in a relationship, they desire to have a male child. Women believe that producing a male child will give them the opportunity to enjoy on behalf of a man who has been created from the ingredients of their own bodies. The frantic desire to have a male issue comes ultimately from the mother not from the father. Even though men do not listen to women in general; they tend to hear what their wives have to say because husbands see their wives as their own property. This is a woman’s tactics for removing the competition of other women, for the commodity is her own security no matter the price. But some may say, this kind of subtle mutual gender exploitation relates more to the history of the past…
The new era has promised women equal enjoyment. By bribing women with money and false sense of equality, they are now expected to perform all the man’s work in the world. Women seem to be not enough preoccupied with their own natural functions and need to work more. As a result of such mentality, men have become more careless believing that by convincing women they are free that they will jump in a man’s pocket. In this way, Kali Yuga has further decimated the role of women, practically making them an erased gender. The living entity in a woman’s body is now just an artifact. She is at best a wax doll, and a mere copy of the original model.
Today women work side by side with men. They give birth to their children at facilities designed by men where they are treated as incapable of doing the one thing nature designated exclusively as their work. Machines and male doctors take the babies out of their womb after the women themselves have been drugged into a helpless state of unconsciousness. The babies are then separated from their mothers and taken to different rooms thereby severing the initial bond between mother and child. In this traumatic experience there are many subconscious forces at work. When the link between mother and baby is not established immediately after birth, milk is not produced. The mother naturally wonders if her baby has been lost even though she understands it is still living. Thanks to modern medicine, she is made to suffer postpartum depression while the baby endures malnutrition. In this way sterile “birthing centers” are more like slaughter houses designed to create monsters from the very start. Today’s demonic society feels an overwhelming need to kill every good thing related to womanhood. Perhaps she is seen as a force which is beyond the control of demonic men. The woman’s body is a representative of material nature, which mankind has unsuccessfully tried to conquer from time immemorial. By killing the maternal quality of young mothers; or by killing the mother cow in horrible slaughter houses; or by exploiting Mother Earth in the name of progress, we repeat the cycle of matricide. We are killing ourselves from the very birth.
Neither does the vicious cycle end there. Digested completely in the system of big-name schools, women come out transformed as career women and are forced to take their children to some distant daycare. Someone else looks after the offspring while the march of so-called progress rolls onward without a mother’s love. Who can give more affection than the one who feels another as part of her own body? Instead of caring for their own children, women are trained to expose themselves to the world. A working woman is a walking target for all kinds of subtle and gross abuse. Look at the fashion industry. Much of what women wear is designed not by women but by men; many of whom are not even remotely attracted to women and who have little understanding of a women’s nature. Even while a woman shops for a new imaginary self-image, the joy of creating her very garments is taken from her. In the not-so-distant past women were honored as the queens of their families in homes whose warm atmosphere they created. But out of envy or desire or a need to prove equality, women have allowed all that to be stolen from them. Like cows lined up at slaughter houses, they sit in long traffic lines doing the bidding of bosses instead of their families.
Today in this one-sided uphill battle seeking an unreachable equality, women try to match the work of men upon an uneven playing field. The outcome of the impossible match remains predictable: by default women are losers. They have been promised false freedoms in a game whose motivation are insult and humiliation. Shrila Prabhupada, citing Manu Samhita and other authorities, has therefore advised that women cannot protect themselves. They are victims of propaganda who are coerced to participate in their own demise. They cannot leave their natural responsibilities. They have no choice. They are men with wombs and that baggage they cannot leave. They are doomed be the last soldiers standing and doing the work, even imperfectly, of the irresponsible men.
Men naturally think that if they are going to carry the burden of protecting women they should be respected in exchange for giving up their “freedom.” Modern women, de-gendered in male-dominated workplaces and having lost their feminine charm, no longer realize their objectives by respecting men. They boldly march to their own ruination to the tune of buzz words like “independence” and “equality” that men have used to exploit them. Both genders have tactics to outsmart one another. Yet, In Kali Yuga, when true political correctness between the genders is not possible, who follows traditional injunctions?
Learning to respect women for who they are opens success on the spiritual path. The fact that each living entity is an individual spiritual particle whose source in Shri Krishna, the Supreme Purusha, needs to be recognized in relation to women as well. And women must also be clear about their own position. Women have been given natural power which does not belong to them. In ignorance some may blame them for the control of their master, for embodying Maya Devi, the goddess of the material world. Though women may be accused of being representatives of Maya, they themselves have not created Maya.
Maya, or material nature, is powerful because she is a servant of Krishna. Women, if properly engaged in the service of the Lord, become naturally happy in their position. That is the proper utilization of the nature of women. The other alternative is to try to strip a woman from her womanhood as per the example of modern civilization. Illusory faith is created and perpetuated by repetition. That is the very core of the material world, a domain of repeated birth and death. The women in modern society have been convinced by repetitive advertising that they are equal to men. The masses, once convinced, carry a belief automatically. But the dictation of nature will always interfere with the illusions of the confused mind. Modern society may believe that women are equal to men but women give birth and men do not. Where is the question of equality?
For a man, the same illusory freedom that binds him in the material world can easily be transformed into real freedom. The men on the spiritual path use their understanding to dive into transformative activities dedicated to the Supreme. Men have a sixth sense about free will but what they often overlook is the position of women as spirit souls. The focus of vision has to be broadened before entering in the kingdom of pure devotional service. Looking at women as material bodies is a rope linking the soul to the material world. In the same way, an intelligent woman knows she has not missed anything by not being a purusha. Existence in this material world is always fruitless. She knows the real face of this world is embellished by its false promises. The self-realized souls have an innate understanding that neither the man nor the woman can be the real Purusha. A devotee cultivates a strong mind which follows only the dictum of the real Purusha, Shri Krishna, from within the heart. Every living entity, no matter the form and gender acquired in the material world, can be decontaminated from the repeated birth and death by chanting the most powerful repetitive sound vibration of:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
FINDING SHRI KRISHNA MADE EASY
WHO IS INTELLIGENT?
Material intelligence so vastly differ from spiritual intelligence that even a materially intelligent person is perceived as unintelligent when measured by spiritual standards. The reason is that what we call intelligent in the material world has nothing to do with spiritual intellect. Only after recognizing that intelligence is not a personal asset but that it is an all-pervasive form of the Supreme Lord can we receive the blessings of spiritual intelligence.
The Supreme Lord Shri Krishna divides into four forms (chatur vyuha) that enter in the different divisions spiritual spheres first. These forms are also the all pervasive deities of the (1) soul (Vasudeva), (2) mind (Anruddha), (3) intelligence (Pradyumna) and (4) false ego (Sankarshana) in the material world:
The three types of egotism (ahankara) are technically known as vaikarika, taijasa and tamasa. The mahat-tattva is situated within the heart, or chitta, and the predominating Deity of the mahat-tattva is Lord Vasudeva (Shrimad Bhagavatam 3.26.21). The mahat-tattva is transformed into three divisions: (1) vaikarika, egotism in goodness (sattvika-ahankara), from which the eleventh sense organ, the mind, is manifest and whose predominating Deity is Aniruddha (Shrimad Bhagavatam. 3.26.27-28); (2) taijasa, or egotism in passion (rajasa-ahankara), from which the senses and intelligence are manifest and whose predominating Deity is Lord Pradyumna (Shrimad Bhagavatam. 3.26.29-31); (3) tamasa, or egotism in ignorance, from which sound vibration (shabda-tanmatra) expands. From the sound vibration, the sky (akasha) is manifest and, the senses, beginning with the ear, are also manifest (Shrimad Bhagavatam 3.26.32). Of these three types of egotism, Lord Sankarshana is the predominating Deity (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta - Madhya 20.276 Purport).
From these statements we understand that intelligence is a product of passion. Further the functions of intelligence are described thus:
Doubt, misapprehension, correct apprehension, memory and sleep, as determined by their different functions, are said to be the distinct characteristics of intelligence. (SB 3.26.30)
Women are generally considered less intelligent because they lack the first function of intelligence, namely doubt. They blindly accept things due to their compassionate and simple nature. Without protection women tend to get in trouble due to tendency to accept facts without evaluation. But when blind acceptance is applied to spiritual realization this can be an advantage. According th Shrila Prabhupada, doubting the spiritual authority is misuse of intelligence:
Doubt is one of the important functions of intelligence; blind acceptance of something does not give evidence of intelligence. Therefore the word samshaya is very important; in order to cultivate intelligence, one should be doubtful in the beginning. But doubting is not very favorable when information is received from the proper source. In Bhagavad-gita the Lord says that doubting the words of the authority is the cause of destruction... (SB 3.26.30 Purport)
The other important function of intelligence is memory that is fed by sleep:
...Smriti means “memory,” and svapa means “sleep.” Sleep is also necessary to keep the intelligence in working order. If there is no sleep, the brain cannot work nicely. (SB 3.26.30 Purport)
In the material world education is based on memory. It the modern slaughterhouses we call schools, students are given good or bad grades based upon how adept they are at remembering facts. This abolity alone encompasses the primary consideration as to why one gets promoted. If he lacks memory he is considered stupid. But the real function of intelligence is to be able to properly remember Shri Krishna. Remembrance and forgetfulness come from Shri Krishna and the main function of intelligence is to provide the facility to constantly remember Shri Krishna (Bg 15.15). The true spiritual smriti is smarana or constant remembrance of the activities and names of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. A person who always remembers Krishna is truly intelligent.
Shri Krishna is the source of remembrance and of forgetfulness as well. To forget in the material world is considered a disadvantage or a negative effect of the limited existence. But in the spiritual sense forgetfulness has an absolute function. When the liberated living entity forgets he does not forget Shri Krishna. The forgetfulness in the Absolute World feeds the taste to always want to relish the same pastime of Shri Krishna again and again as if it has never been experienced before. When we train out intelligence to remember and forget in the absolute sense we can relish Krishna’s Names always wanting for more. The taste to always chant Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare is the proof that someone is spiritually intelligent.
TEACHING THE MIND TO CHANT
…Even While Sleeping!
In his books and lectures Shrila Prabhupada often emphasizes that there are no hard and fast rules for the chanting of the holy name of the Lord. Anyone can chant the Hare Krishna mahamantra anytime and anywhere. But no matter how simple the sound, it is difficult to maintain this chanting incessantly. The mind creates many obstacles related to repeating of the Lord’s Name. Rather than supporting the repetition of the chant, the energy of the inventive intellect is often spent in running away from the most sublime sound vibration.
But I have heard many stories and read numerous narrations about devotees who chant aloud even when they are asleep. They have immersed themselves completely in the holiest of sounds throughout the day and it continues vibrating even in their subtle dream experience. It is the superexcellent potency of the Hare Krishna mahamantra that it can defeat even the very deep ignorance of sleep.
Often devotees think that they should chant only on their beads. Some who do not have time to touch the beads might not chant at all. Our spiritual master taught us the following injunction which in no way contradicts chanting on beads (the superlative method for concentration of the mind): When a devotee cannot find the time to chant at least sixteen rounds on japa beads, he or she should chant anyhow. Chant loudly, chant silently—chant just in the mind—or, whatever circumstances permit—or, because perfection is attained when Krishna is always remembered and never forgotten.
The more we chant the more we remember to chant. During our daily activities we think mostly about our past experiences. The mind mulls over our schedule, and considers what needs to be done immediately, and what plans we have to make for the future. Our thoughts appear like an unlimited array of experiences in pictures and sounds. The world vibrates within us and without us. But Krishna tells us in Bhagavad Gita that everything in this world rests upon Him “as pearls strung on a thread” (BG 7.7). Thus all the waves of the mind experience are also connected to Krishna. Even when the mind is trying to think about other things, there is no harm in chanting Hare Krishna because it is always better to chant than not to chant.
Often devotees reveal their thoughts as they ponder what if they don’t chant perfectly…then is it better not to chant? We can chant with concentration early in the morning, but we can chant throughout the day as well. Chant on beads, and then when other chores come, chant again. The mind has this capability to carry on two thoughts at the same time. So, even when we think about other worldly matters, we can still chant. Perfect chanting comes after we can make the two “voices of the mind” chant in synch.
The two voices belong to the living entity and Paramantama. The Swetasvataro Upanishad tells of the two analogous birds on the tree in our hearts. One bird is engaged in tasting the fruits of material enjoyment, and the other bird, Paramatma, who represents the Supreme Soul Shri Krishna, is simply watching his friend and waiting for his friend’s attention. Shri Krishna guides all living entities in their everyday activities but remains unrecognized until the living entity is pure enough and turns towards Him. From this moment onward the soul is able to associate directly with Krishna in the heart. Then, the voice of the living entity and Paramatma are in synchronicity with the Absolute Truth. This is pure chanting.
No matter on what level someone is situated in spiritual understanding; there cannot be difficulty in chanting. Because the method of chanting of the Lord’s Name is sublime, the repetition of the mahamanta is a simple task. The mind likes simplicity. The advertising industry uses this inclination of the human mentality to support the world’s selling power. The technique of repetitive promotion makes a person comfortable with the presented products. Just by seeing a certain product for about a hundred times, we involuntarily already know it, and we already have an inclination to buy it.
Chanting of the Lord’s Name is comfortable once we start doing it. The Lord’s name brings us the comfort of our real self and our real home. It is a most natural and simple process, and at the same time it is sublime. Krishna is wholeheartedly present in His Name. By chanting the mahamantra we are directly associating with Him. Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and so is His Name unusual and transcendental. The Name has all the potencies of the Lord Himself.
Eager to associate with Krishna, a devotee chants all the time. The chanting is a process but it is also the goal of the process. There is nothing beyond it. The whole world is within it. And even when the world is finished, the name will still remain because it represents the Supreme Lord Himself. Those who worship the Lord are exempt from ultimate fear.
A devotee chants even in his or her sleep. This material world is also compared to a dream. What will be the difference of carrying on with chanting from the walking dream state into the deep dream state when we lie in bed? It is difficult to train the mind during sleep. We have hardly any control over sleep. But a wise devotee chants incessantly during the day and that intensity of chanting is automatically carried in his or her sleep (which only reflects his or her daily activities.) In this way not a single hour is lived without the presence of the Lord in the form of His Name.
I have heard many stories wherein devotees have uttered the mahamanta in their sleep. They have told how the Lord’s Name has helped them to face disturbing nightmares or even the haunting of ghosts in the dark. This cry is enough to save a soul from perpetual birth and death. At the time of death, if we can cry the name of Krishna, then we are safe. We will be born again as devotees in the material or in the spiritual world.
Nonetheless, a devotee wants to not only chant in the face of the biggest danger, but also carry on chanting in times of tranquility. Every moment is an opportunity to associate Krishna. The goal is chanting the Holy Name at any moment.
Sometimes we are overwhelmed by great emotions or by worries. But all reflective movements of the mind are temporary. What is eternal is the Holy Name. Chanting should be carried on even in the midst of all kinds of emotions. Devotees often think that if they chant they can overcome their bad times in this world. Sometimes they will, but sometimes their negative experience will be prolonged. It is not that the Holy Name has no potency—Hari Nama possesses all potency because it is non-different from Krishna. But Krishna is independent and He will test His devotees. Our only business is to cry for Him. Even when we cry for other things, we can transform that cry into a cry for Krishna. The intelligence comes from the Lord. The intelligence can help us transform material energy into spiritual energy.
It is easy to chant. The name of Krishna is the most unusual of sound vibrations. No materialist can explain the meaning of the Lord’s name. Devotees also cannot explain it. Unlike the materialists, who are baffled by the mahamantra’s other-worldly syllables, devotees know that Krishna cannot be explained because He and His Name are unlimited. And for this reason a devotee is never full enough with the sound of Shri Krishna’s Name:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
CONVERSATIONS WITH PARAMATMA
The Supreme personality of Godhead sits in everyone’s heart in the form of Paramatma. Not only is He the foundation of all mystic powers for the advanced yogis but He is the source of remembrance and forgetfulness for all living entities. Paramatma accepts different forms according to the level of advancement and taste of every individual soul. He is accessible to everyone.
Theoretically, every devotee from Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition knows that there are three levels of realization of the absolute truth: Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan. On the Brahman realization one perceives the eternal time in the form of unstoppable present as past and future seize to exist. On this platform of sayujya one identifies with the present moment and he enjoys his eternal self. Time, the Supreme personality of Godhead and the living entity merge. It is difficult to break out of this state of absolute inactivity. The living entities who have become one with the spiritual light emanating from the body of Shri Krishna may remain locked in the perception of sat forever.
The true devotee of Shri Krishna has no desire to merge with the impersonal Brahmajyoti. Because the flavor of interpersonal association is not present in sayujya liberation, it is rejected by the personalists. Nonetheless, attainment of the sat potency is available to the devotees. This platform provides the foundation of gradational spiritual understanding. The fact that we are eternal spirit souls is the fundamental of Krishna Consciousness. In broader sense the potencies of sat, chit and ananda are responsible for the classification of devotees on three different levels. Realization of sat gives the kanishta adkikari, chit the madyam adikari and ananda the uttama adikari. Any devotee should strive to be at least madya madikari and realize the chit potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But what is the secret of elevation to a next level of spiritual understanding?
Every living entity is used to taking instructions from Paramatma. Even the grass doesn’t move unless it is directed by Shri Krishna. In the material world the degraded mentality of the living entity tried to exploit even the Supreme Lord. When the lost soul is not at all grateful for the intelligence coming from the Lord, often claiming it as his own, The Supreme Lord has a totally different reason to why He is sitting next to the living entity as a witness of all activities. Shri Krishna is merciful and makes sure that His part and parcel is well provided in all of his needs. But in the form of Paramatma Shri Krishna is impartial. He gives advice to everyone and facilitates all desires. He directs the demigods, the kings, the murderers, and the animals in their search for food. Sitting quiet and unnoticed in the heart, Paramatma mimics the character of every living entity. His ultimate goal to make the souls disgusted with the material world and propel them back to the spiritual kingdom.
Shri Krishna in the form of Paramatma is closer to us than any other living entity can ever be. He is so close that many take Him as a projection of their own self. Often we hear that people say they have two voices in their heads as one voice is always more reasonable than the other. The conscious and the judgment about right and wrong comes from Paramatma. Even the murderer senses karma because of Paramatma in the heart. His twisted mind will lead him to his sinful act but ultimately he will suffer his dues. Paramatma as a witness ultimately stands as a reminiscent for the wrongful deeds and directs and maintains this temporary world.
But on the realized level of Paramatma the devotee knows that the answers to all of his questions come directly from the intelligence provided by Shri Krishna. Such devotee knows that he can communicate without obstruction with the Lord in the heart. For this reason the realization of Paramatma defines chit, or knowledge. Mundane knowledge is mastered by going to universities. It takes a long time to come to a certain level of professorship. The knowledge itself is carefully monitored from generation to generation making sure it defines the requirement of the mundane mind. But the knowledge we receive from Paramatma is readily available. We can become all knowing with the permission of the Supreme Lord and become just like Him. This level provides all the different muktis granting variety of similarities with Lord Narayan: salokya (living on the same planet as the Lord), samipya (always being in the company of the Lord), sarshti (having the opulence of the Lord and sarupya (having the same form as the Lord).
Still, in the material world it is difficult to conduct a personal association with Shri Krishna face to face. The merciful aspect of Paramatma of the Supreme Lord can lead us to the ultimate spiritual designation where all our heartfelt desires can be fulfilled by personal service to Shri Shri Radha Krishna. In this way Paramatma in the heart is a manifestation of Lord Nityananda, or the eternal spiritual master. All it takes from our part is ask for His directions. It is easy to talk to Paramatma. We have been doing it since time immemorial with requests directed at our own material gratification. But when a true seeker turns his attention to the Lord, with intention of personal conversing, his questions turn into prayer. Addressing the Lord directly gives the devotee direct answers and perfect awareness becomes available at any moment. Ultimately, chit, or knowledge, is revelation about the nature of the Supreme Lord. The way a devotee receives enlightenment is by asking. The All-knowing Supreme Lord as Paramatma is eager to provide the answers.
Materialists are greedy for such readily available knowledge. They want to be able to see in the past and the future and have answers to all of their problems immediately, but their flaw is that they what to pretend that they are the source of knowledge and steal the glory of the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna. Such people will never have all the answers because they don’t know that the source of all intelligence is a Person. The devotee, on another hand, is not interested in mundane knowledge and even when such knowledge is available to him via the media of Paramatma, his only valid question is, “How I can serve You, Krishna directly?”
It is easy to approach Shri Krishna as Paramatma. Just talk to Him by asking. This conversation requires submission and realization that the tiny soul doesn’t have all knowledge. On this level of realization personal and impersonal mix, because we can only ask and receive answer. Paramatma level is the stage which will test the seeker’s ready for a personal relationship with the Supreme Lord. It is next on the platform of Bhagavan, when ultimate bliss prevails. Then we can exchange question and answers with Shri Krishna in a variety of ways. Paramatma will test our patience but will never fail to provide us with the right instructions. Ultimately the conversation about our submission to Shri Krishna is very personal. Every Paramatma has His own form according to the person He is guiding. Summarized from CC Adi 5.41 Paramatma may appear as Vasudeva for the devotees since he is the predominating deity of the heart, as Sankarshana for the sarpas and demons, as Pradyumna for the demigods and common men, and as Aniruddha for the manus and demigods who supervise dharma. As refereed in SB 3.28.12 (purport) the variations of chaturvyuha or four-handed forms are as unlimited, as the unlimited number of all living entities.
Shri Krishna is a person. His effulgence and His localized form ultimately bear His personality. That is visible only to His devotees. Talking and praying to Paramatma is a real conversation. We can request His guidance in all activities: how to open a door, how to walk, how to breathe. He can personally direct all details in a perfect manner. And as much as this conversation may seem ordinary because we can start by asking simple question, it is extraordinary because it makes us recognized Shri Krishna again. He is so close to us, our perfect twin, full of ultimate knowledge and bliss. He is so close that He has been taken by many for granted, mistaken for their other self. He is ultimately The Lord, the One we want to return to. He is the One who has unlimited patience and have been waiting for all of us for indefinite time. He is so near and so far away. He, as Paramatma is the way back to Godhead.
Often a devotee who talks to Paramatma will find out that there is nobody else in the world but him and Him. This is quite a progress from the sat level when the seeker could not see anything but himself. On the Paramatma level all knowledge comes from Vasudeva. Maha Vishnu is the ultimate deity of the material world which is a field of asking and receiving knowledge. And here, even when we talk to others we are censored by the via media of Paramatma and ultimately will hear only the things which the Lords wants us to receive. Even when someone expresses in a complete way, another will hear it according to his level of realization. Although so perfectly directed to our personality, the chit level leaves us with dose of emptiness for variety. It expands the desire of the true devotee to ultimately return to Goloka Vrindavana where personal exchange with the Lord and his servants is perfectly in unison.
The yogi may receive all mystic powers from Paramatma just by asking for them, but the devotee of the Supreme form of the Lord will ask Paramatma only for His ultimate favor—personal association—easily achieved by the chanting of: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. Paying to the Lord of the heart to facilitate this chanting will make us all perfect for the ultimate meeting with Shri Krishna.
THREE LEVELS OF DEVOTEES
Which One Are You?
Kanishtha, madhyama, utthama: what are the characteristics of the three levels of devotees? In Bhagavad-Gita 2.54 Ajuna asks Shri Krishna a question aimed at narrowing down the distinctive features and external marks which could be helpful in recognizing a Vaishnava:
sthita-prajnasya ka bhasha
sthita-dhihih kim prabhasheta
kim asita vrajeta kim
Arjuna said: What are the symptoms of one whose consciousness is thus merged in Transcendence? How does he speak, and what is his language? How does he sit, and how does he walk?
If we carefully follow further Bhagavad Gita, we can read how the Supreme Lord very eloquently describes the characteristics of His devotees but never really answers the question asked by Arjuna. This is the one question left unanswered in the epic conversation between Shri Krishna and Arjuna. The reason, because a vaishnava is never to be judged by his exterior manifestations. For example, the gopis were mere peasant girls, Lord Shiva is speared by ashes of burn bodies, Arjun himself was a warrior and Shri Krishna personally came as His devotee with the name Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The best of devotees can come in variety of forms. That is further confirmed by Srila Rupa Goswami in his Nectar of Instructions (text 6) where he compares the pure devotee to mother Ganga. Despite the fact that her waters may appear to carry some polluted ingredients no one should abstain from bating in her holy stream. In the same way if a pure devotee have external bodily drawbacks no one should refrain from following in his footsteps:
“Being situated in his original Krishna conscious position, a pure devotee does not identify with the body. Such a devotee should not be seen from a materialistic point of view. Indeed, one should overlook a devotee’s having a body born in a low family, a body with a bad complexion, a deformed body, or a diseased or infirm body. According to ordinary vision, such imperfections may seem prominent in the body of a pure devotee, but despite such seeming defects, the body of a pure devotee cannot be polluted. It is exactly like the waters of the Ganges, which sometimes during the rainy season are full of bubbles, foam and mud. The Ganges waters do not become polluted. Those who are advanced in spiritual understanding will bathe in the Ganges without considering the condition of the water.”
Following the sound spiritual intelligence of the acharyas, the wise conclusion is that a pure devotee cannot be judged merely by external characteristics. What then would be the criteria for unveiling the secret ingredient which sets apart the three progressive levels of devotional service?
Srila Prabhupada gives precisely the specifics of all three categories of devotees in the purport of Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.12.17, “Those who go to the temples of the Lord and offer worshipful respect to the Deity without sufficient knowledge in the theological science and therefore without any respect for the devotees of the Lord are called materialistic devotees, or kanishtha-adhikari, the third-grade devotees. Secondly, the devotees who have developed a mentality of genuine service to the Lord and who thus make friendships only with similar devotees, show favor to the neophytes and avoid the atheists are called the second-grade devotees. But those who see everything in the Lord or everything of the Lord and also see in everything an eternal relation of the Lord, so that there is nothing within their purview of sight except the Lord, are called the maha-bhagavatas, or the first-grade devotees of the Lord. Such first-grade devotees of the Lord are perfect in all respects.”
The Kanishta Adhikari
The basic understanding that the soul is eternal is sufficient for someone to embark on the trip of devotional service. Those who have a firm believe in this philosophy have practically realized the statement aham brahmasmi or I am also brahman. Thus the beginner in Krishna Consciousness, the kanishtha adhikari has a grasp of the sat or eternity feature of the Supreme Lord. This level of understanding has been clearly conveyed in the interaction between Jata Bharata and king Rahugana in the 5th canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam.
“...yet despite being criticized in this way, Jada Bharata had no bodily conception of the situation. He knew that he was not the body, for he had attained his spiritual identity. He was neither fat, lean nor thin, nor had he anything to do with a lump of matter, a combination of the five gross and three subtle elements. He had nothing to do with the material body and its two hands and legs. In other words, he had completely realized his spiritual identity [aham brahmasmi]...” (SB 5.10.6)
However, the kanishtha devotee approaches the Absolute Truth via the same vehicle of sat understanding used by the mayavadis. The kanishta adhikari platform is the border line between the impersonal and personal understanding of the Absolute Truth. This is confirmed by Srila Prabhupada in Shrimad Bhagavatam (7.9.35 Purport) where he says that the statement of self-realization aham brahmasmi is interpreted by the Mayavada philosophy to mean "I am the Supreme Lord”. Further clarification of this statement is given in the purport of Shrimad-Bhagavatam 1.1.19, “...the so-called liberated persons are never satisfied by the repetition of the words aham brahmasmi. Such artificial realization of Brahman becomes hackneyed, and so to relish real pleasure they turn to the narrations of the Shrimad-Bhagavatam. Those who are not so fortunate turn to altruism and worldly philanthropy. This means the Mayavada philosophy is mundane, whereas the philosophy of Bhagavad Gita and Shrimad-Bhagavatam is transcendental.”
What are the technicalities of the sat understanding which is the foundation for both the impersonal and personal understanding of the Absolute Truth? The aspect of the Supreme Lord which deals with the fact of eternal existence is called sat. Whoever has realized his being to be eternal automatically falls into the category of transcendentalist. On this platform we can meet both personalists and impersonalists. The mayavadas take their realization about eternity as an opportunity to merge into the impersonal brahmajyoti effulgence of the Supreme Lord. However, those are the superior impersonalists. The others, who are not so advanced, continue to operate on the material platform. The brahmajyoti is spread unlimitedly, and the material world is but a covered portion of an insignificant part of the same brahmajyoti (SB 1.9.44 Purport).
But those who are sincere in their realization of eternity and look upon themselves like spirit souls who exist in the eternal time of “now”, they are the candidates for devotional service and they turn into the kanishta adhikaris we meet amongst the devotees of the Supreme Lord. One main distinction between the neophyte devotee and the mayavadi is that the devotee does not intent to stay on this platform and his goal is to progress to the subsequent levels of devotional service. However, the unstable neophyte devotee can easily mistake a good material situation for spiritual advancement. Some other noted characteristics of the kanishta adhikari are that he favors the form of the Lord but he does not recognize the same devotion exhibited by others. In this way the neophyte devotee thinks that he is special and he needs to endeavor to gain humility which accelerates his progress to the next level of devotional service.
The next level of spiritual realization leads to revelation of the chit potency of the Supreme Lords. Chit means knowledge. The madhyam adhikari gains access to the incessant absolute knowledge in the heart via the localized feature of the Supreme Lord called Paramatma. On this platform of realization impersonal philosophy is not allowed. But it is the real dividing point between yoga and bhakti. When a fortunate mayavadi has realized that he is a separate entity from God, a rare transformation takes place: a jnani is turned into a yogi. But for most yogis there is underlying significance in this act. They accept that the separation from the Supreme Lord is only symbolic. The simple reason why they admit the power beyond themselves is because they intend to use it for gaining mystic powers. Ultimately, these cheap yogis aim at being transformed into supernatural creatures equal in opulence to the Supreme Lord. Far from this, the real meaning of yoga means ‘connection’ and the advanced yogis fix their mind on Paramatma. In this way they overcome the limits of the material world and can travel to the spiritual realm. The goal of the advanced practitioners of yoga is to gain liberation from the material world and go the Vaikunta planets where they can adopt a body similar to that of the Supreme Lord (sarupya mukti), live at the same planet as the Lord (salokya mukti), associate with the Lord on equal footing (samipya mukti) and have the same riches as the Lord (sarshti mukti.) Similarly, the madhyam adhikari has constant access to the Supersoul and he has already attained all the riches of the Vaikunta planets. The perfect madhyam bhakta has attained absolute knowledge because he can speak directly to Paramatma in his heart. His is the realization that the main relationship between the Lord and the living entity is that of submissive questioning. The madhyam adhikari knows that a perfect inquiry can only be answered by the Lord of the heart. The madhyam bhakta have realized that he and the Lord are separate identities but he is still lacking in understanding and appreciating the variety exhibited in the intimate pastimes of Shri Krishna.
In the material world Paramatma is situated in every atom and for this reason Vishnu is the all pervading expansion of the Supreme Lord in this world. Thus the madhyam adikari platform can be perfected in the material world without direct association with the Supreme Lord. The last, uttama, level of devotional service can be realized only in the direct presence of the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna. For this reason elevated devotees who preach the glories of the Supreme Lord in the material world have to come down on the madhyam platform. Like the yogis who derive their mystic powers from Paramatma, the perfect preachers of bhakti have exhibited many miracles while performing their missionary tasks.
The uttma platform is reserved only for the devotees. There is not mixture neither of jnana nor yoga. Since the topmost devotional service is not accessible without the direct presence of the Supreme Lord it is available to those devotees who can think in all hours of the day only about Shri Krishna. At the uttama level, ananda, the last feature of the Absolute Truth is revealed. Bliss is experienced only in the direct presence of Shri Krishna. For this reason we are very lucky to have the opportunity to chant the Holy Names of the Supreme Lord which are non-different from the Lord Himself. Technically, we can recognize the different platforms of devotional service by the intensity in remembering the Holy Names of Shri Krishna. The kanishta adhikari chants from time to time and his chanting is mixed with material desires. As he continues to increase his faith in chanting he is turned into madhyam madhikari who has a firm believe in the Holy Name and knows that if he chants even more he will be purified from all material contaminations. Both kanisha adhikari and madhyam adhikari see some end-goal attached to chanting. The kanishta adhikari wants exclusiveness and some side benefits related to his material life. The madhyam adhikari seeks liberation which to him is the end-goal which is supposed to materialize his desire to connect and serve the Supreme Lord.
And since kanishta and madhyam devotee have not reached the topmost goal of devotional service they can be found even amongst the candidates for devotional service described in Bhagavad-Gita (7.16). The reason is because for someone to come to the perfect level of devotional service are required many lifetimes. Amongst the four kinds of pious man who are interested in devotional service the distressed is recognized as the shudra, the one who wants wealth is the vaishya, the one who is inquisitive is the kshatriya and the one who searches for knowledge is the brahmana. The first two categories technically provide the source for the knaishta level of devotional service as the latter two the madhyam platform candidates for spiritual advancement. Regardless of their origin, the four candidates for devotional service are members of the varnashrama system. The pure devotee is above the structure of society. Uttama ashikari cannot be found in the four-class society whereas the two preceding levels of devotees can still well function in the social system. The reason to stay for the kanishta askirady is because he is still fighting with his material contaminations. The madhyam adhikary uses the social structure to preach to the fallen souls and by saving them that act helps his personal elevation.
Amongst all living entities, the pure devotee is designated by Shri Krishna in Bhagavad Gita as being very rare or sudurlabha mahatma. After many lifetimes when a devotee becomes so absorbed in the Lord that he cannot live without the Him, a devotee who thinks about the Supreme Lord at all times is called uttama adhikari. “As stated in Shrimad-Bhagavatam (5.6.18): muktim dadati karhicit. Shrila Shukadeva Gosvami told Maharaja Parikshit that Krishna readily grants liberation but does not very readily grant perfection in devotional service. This means that Krishna wants to see that a devotee is actually sincere and serious and that he does not have ulterior motives. If this is the case, devotional service can very easily be successful; otherwise it is very difficult to obtain from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This verse appears in the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.1.35).” (Madhya 24.172 Purport)
From the platform of uttama adhikari the four rasas of servitude, friendship, parenthood and conjugal relations with the Supreme Lord are manifested. The neutral rasa is reserved for the madyam adhikaris. When a pure devotee is ordered by the Supreme Lord to come to the material world and spread the message of the Supreme Truth he adopts the madyam adhikari platform. He understands that there will be many preaching activities which may distract his focus from direct thinking of the Lord. Externally he may be engaged in saving the fallen souls but internally he is connected and inspired only by Shri Krishna. We can practically witness how Srila Prabhupada was dealing with so many, on first sight, unrelated to devotional service matters like banking or talking to important social figures but ultimately all this was done with the single-minded intention of satisfying guru and Shri Krishna. The uttama adhikari who comes down to the platform of madyam madhikari knows that the highest altruistic activity is to give pleasure to the Supreme personality of Godhead Lord Shri Krishna. An uttama adhikary if asked by the Lord to kill someone he will do it and if asked by the Lord to safe someone he will do it. The main objective for the pure devotee is the pleasure of Shri Krishna.
Recognizing Devotional Level
Externally, all three platforms of devotional service may seem to operate on the same level, moreover that their long-term goal is the same – to gain the favor of Shri Krishna. Provided we have an exclusive opportunity to meet all three levels of devotees at one place. How will we be able to recognize each one of them? It is well-understood that only the one who is on the same level with another can recognize his mutual equality. Recognizing other devotees comes easier if we follow the main instruction given by Srila Prabhupada in the purport of Srila Rupa Goswani’s Nectar of Instructions, “The devotee should also know his own position and should not try to imitate a devotee situated on a higher platform.” A devotee should not artificially take the position of another devotee from a different level. However, this intelligent outcome happens only when there is attentive sravana and kirtana. On the overall, the kanishta adhikari tends to see himself as the center of devotional activity, the madhyam adhikari tends to try to please the living entities and the Lord alike but the uttama adhikari puts the satisfaction of the Lord in the center and in this way he is be able to serve everyone the best.
In practical terms there could be quite a lot of confusion how to differentiate the three levels of devotees. How the kanishta, madhyam or uttama adhikari operate? We meet all of them on their way back to Godhead. And to be on the save side we need to respect any one of them as servants of Shri Krishna by approaching them in mood of service. How exactly to approach the three categories of devotees is further elaborated by Rupa Goswami (Nectar of Instructions 5):
“One should mentally honor the devotee who chants the holy name of Lord Krisha, one should offer humble obeisances to the devotee who has undergone spiritual initiation [diksha] and is engaged in worshiping the Deity, and one should associate with and faithfully serve that Pure devotee who is advanced in undeviated devotional service and whose heart is completely devoid of the propensity to criticize others.”
And after all said, the three levels of devotees are most easy to recognize by their engagement in the chanting of the Holy Name of Shri Krishna. It is only by the repetition of the Holy Name that one is considered to be kanishta, madyam or uttama adhikary. Kanishta chants sometime, madyam chants most of the time and uttama chants all the time. This classification is uncomplicated.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishn Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Chant the mahamantra all the time and uttama adkiraky level is in your reach. This chanting is so easy and can be repeated while walking, while sleeping, while doing all kinds of activities related to the material body. Chanting is not limited to any rule or regulation. It can be done on japa, silently, or while singing. There is absolutely no limit to the chanting of the Holy Name of the Lord.
“I AM THE TASTE OF WATER “
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These astonishing effects are obtained only by drinking the most common liquid on our planet, namely water. Shri Krishna confirms in Bhagavad-Gita that He is the taste of water, “raso ‘ham apsu kaunteya.” We sure must miss the taste of water. Today the average person drinks all kinds of liquids like coffer, tea and juices but he hardly remembers to intake water. We assume that all liquids are made equal but we do not realize that we suffer dehydration if we do not drink water. Even if we drink the best quality of juices they would never equal the benefits that water provides. Pure water has specific qualities that other liquids do not have. One interesting reference to the amazing properties of water is found in Shrimad Bhagavatam. There is given the story of Indra suffering the reactions of killing the brahmana Vishvarupa:
“Although Indra was so powerful that he could neutralize the sinful reactions for killing a brahmana, he repentantly accepted the burden of these reactions with folded hands. He suffered for one year, and then to purify himself he distributed the reactions for this sinful killing among the earth, water, trees and women.”(SB 6.9.7)
“And in return for King Indra’s benediction that water would increase the volume of other substances with which it was mixed, water accepted one fourth of the sinful reactions. Therefore there are bubbles and foam in water. When one collects water, these should be avoided.
PURPORT: If water is mixed with milk, fruit juice or other similar substances, it increases their volume, and no one can understand which has increased. In return for this benediction, water accepted one fourth of Indra’s sinful reactions. These sinful reactions are visible in foam and bubbles. Therefore one should avoid foam and bubbles while collecting drinking water.” (SB 6.9.11)
So, the ability of water to become other liquids is a disguised curse as seen from the above example. Pure water is essential to our body, mind and soul. It has an ability to connect us with Shri Krishna. By conscious drinking of water we can become Krishna conscious. Drinking pure water is a process which has many beneficial side effects as well. They can be seen in the molecule patters that water forms. According to Japanese researcher Dr. Masaro Emoto if we chant beneficial mantras over the water its molecules exhibit beautiful shapes. Drinking such water is purifying and uplifting to the mind. But if we utter unpleasant words over a glass of water its molecules form ugly patters and such water is damaging to whoever consumes it. It is amazing that Bhagavad Gita and Shrimad Bhagavatam contain such profound wisdom of facts but often they are seen only as poetic statement without any practical value. Still, Shri Krishna has explained in Bhagavad Gita so many ways to access Him through His manifestations in the surrounding world. And we have to develop the analytical part of our minds and pray to understand all the simple stalemates spoken in Bhagavad Gita by the Supreme Personality of Godhead Shri Krishna.
Water is surely one of the manifestations of Shri Krishna. Our bodies are 75% water. Without water life is not possible. If we do not drink water we are constantly dehydrated despite the consumption of other liquids. Without water the body is not able to nourish the different tissues, it cannot absorb nutrients and cannot flush the garbage which piles in the cells after food consumption. In this way dehydration manifests different diseases. Eventually everything goes on secular level and alters DNA. Purity of body and mind depends on water consumption. What is the Hare Krishna mahamantra to the mind, water is to the body. Today people consume so many medicines to substitute the functions of purification which only waters can do. For the health on all levels all we need is to develop a taste for water. By developing this taste we also naturally develop God consciousness.
Health can be a big help in the performance of daily sadhana which leads to Krishna Consciousness. On the contrary, chronic dehydration damages the brain cells. When dehydrated, many brain cells die. Unlike other cells in the body, new brain cells are not produced to replace the dying ones. Drinking water is essential for our intelligence which in turn is essential for understanding the nature of the Lord as he describes Himself in Bhagavad-Gita.
HOW TO NEVER COME BACK TO THE MATERIAL WORLD
You have heard of the story of the poor brahmana described in the Nectar of Devotion who used to meditate on worshiping Lakshmi-Narayana. Though he was very poor and he had practically nothing to offer to the Lord, his poverty did not deter him from worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Through his meditation he would offer the most opulent service unto Lord Narayana with golden pots filled with nectar. He would fan the Lord with a peacock fan and offer Him the most beautiful flowers. He would also prepare a feast of many preparations. One day when he was cooking in his meditation, he decided to see if the sweet rice he was preparing is ready. With his finger he touched the hot preparation in his meditation and was startled to see that it had been burnt. In due course of time Lord Narayana took him to Vaikuntha as he was very pleased by the brahmana’s worship.
This story practically illustrates how by the grace of the Supreme Lord a devotee can create reality simply by directing his thoughts. There are mystics who know this secret but who use their power of visualization for their own enrichment. The devotees can use this technique for serving Krishna. One, who feels trapped and limited by karma— whether poor, not favored by others, physically unappealing or mentally slows—such limitations can be changed somewhat through meditation on devotional service.
A devotee is imbued with the power to bless others. When walking on the street he may see unhappy people but in his mind he can immediately imagine them as happy and dancing in ecstasy devotees, chanting the holy names of Shri Krishna. Walking down the street he can see ugly building and immediately visualize them as temples or houses where devotees worship Shri Krishna. With the power of his imagination a devotee can turn a negative situation into positive and spiritual situation. This is how imagination should be used. Imagination ultimately is the power to change reality when used in Krishna’s service. But it takes strong belief in the process, and not being distracted by any tinge of disbelief, that a devotee’s imagination can become reality.
We often think that if we imagine something it is only a picture and has nothing to do with reality. But we cannot imagine anything that we have not experienced. In other words, we cannot imagine things that do not exist. Imagination means to put together two or more things that do not normally relate to each other. This is an art form and for this reason art is based on imagination. For example, artists can take things that have happened hundreds of years ago and mix them with the present. This mixture can create a paradox and evoke astonishment in the onlookers. Ordinary people are surprised at the possibilities that art creates. Many artists are considered to be geniuses that deserve to be placed alongside some scientists who “invent things.” In fact nobody invents things that are not already there. Those genius people simply put things together with the help of their imagination or creative thinking. But this kind of imagination—whether artistic or scientific—is useless when seen against the grand scheme of things because it leads only to temporary sense enjoyment.
This same mystical power is practiced by mystic yogis who know very well that they can create reality with the power of thought. But the result of their imagination is also temporary as it is aimed at ego gratification. The only real use of imagination is found when it is applied to devotional service.
Hanuman, the great devotee of Lord Ramachandra, was much greater than any mystic and he also had supernatural powers. He used his powers in the service of the Lord, and in this way his powers grew exponentially. This is the real use of mystic powers and the servant of the Supreme Lord has plenty of them up his sleeve. A devotee of Shri Krishna does not need to show off his mystic powers as he does not use them for ego or sense gratification. Mystic powers are used by the devotee only when he needs them in the service of Shri Krishna. Shrila Prabhupada once said that mystic powers are not important as even growing our fingernails is also a mystic power. But he himself had plenty of mystic powers when it came to serving the mission of the Lord. In 1965 a gentleman saw Shrila Prabhupada sitting alone on a bench in New York’s Central Park. He sat down and asked him what he was doing there alone. Shrila Prabhupada replied that he has many students and opulent temples all over the world. The gentleman was surprised, but Shrila Prabhupada continued by adding that he is separated from that reality only by a thin veil of time.
The reality of the material world is that the manifestation of desires is always separated by time. During the intermission between desire and its manifestation, a doubt may appear in the mind that the desire would ever come true. But a devotee of Shri Krishna knows better. Everything is the energy of the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna. Our karma is ruled by desires. What we desired in the past we reap in the present. And a desire starts by imagining its end result. Knowing this simple rule, a devotee can dovetail his imagination towards obtaining results for Shri Krishna. A devotee imagines the results as already existing, and avoids the delays of three-dimensional time consisting of past, present and future. In short, the desires of a pure devotee manifest as reality. That is how the energy of the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna works. A pure devotee can imagine anything for the benefit of Shri Krishna and it will happen.
The conditioned souls in the material world tend to be very negative in what they imagine simply because they are conditioned by constant suffering. Their imaginary world is filled with scenes of revenge, jealousy and negative expressions. The art to imagine positive things is the way to bless others rather than punish them for what they have not given to us. To really bless others is to visualize them in their connection with Shri Krishna and ultimately this is the way to change the world. When we change the world into a spiritual reality we are no longer actually living in the material world because we understand that Shri Krishna is everything. In the Spiritual World which is self-effulgent there is not delay in manifestation as there is only the time of “now” that exists.
Everyone feels that they have been born to do something important. They wait for the time when something special will happen to them, when some bright star will shine upon them. But why wait for something that may never happen? After all, favorable material circumstances depend on karma. Karma-phala is very complicated and is difficult to turn from negative to positive. Why wait when we can start imagining right now? Armed with this mystic power of visualizing everything in Shri Krishna’s service we can offer everything to the Lord despite our present circumstances. We can cross the material world and never come back. We can understand our constitutional position as servants of Shri Krishna like the advanced devotees who have truly developed mystic powers. Just like Hanuman with his mystic powers burnt the entire city of Ravana alone, so the devotee can also in his lone meditation visualize the transformation of the today’s world of Rakshasas into a world of transcendental bliss. And by following the footsteps of Shrila Prabhupada, this movement will continue to grow all over the world and be the cause of liberating the planet through the vision of the pure devotee’s empowered servants.
PURPOSE IN THE MATERIAL WORLD
Even though the relationship between the living entity and Shri Krishna is always present, it remains beyond the control of this material world. Often neophytes when coming in contact with Krishna consciousness ask, “How can I be sure that Shri Krishna loves me?” The answer is that Shri Krishna is not an ordinary man, even though He is called Purusha which literally meanings man. Shri Krishna describes Himself in BG 9.11:
avajananti mam muḍha manusim tanum ashriitam
param bhavam ajananto mama bhuta-maheshvaram
Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature and My supreme dominion over all that be.
In order to understand how Shri Krishna is neither a material man nor even a human being, although to the atheists He may appear to be so, we need to understand the basic elements of psychology that drive the material world. Then we can move on to understanding Shri Krishna’s loving relationships with each living entity.
Here in this material world there are two basic prototypes or personalities: male and female. Although we all know that in reality all males and females have their own distinctive personalities, we disregard the personal characteristics in favor of the prototypical characteristics. Thus, if some living entity takes birth as a woman, she will have certain qualities of a woman. And if one is born as a man, then he develops masculine traits. Even so, people tend to generalize gender characteristics while disregarding the personal individual’s own characteristics.
It is practically observed that unless one is a fully self realized soul he or she is influenced by gender-based judgments—the first thing that registers in the mind is whether one is male or female. Following that are certain embedded reactions based upon gender generalizations. In this world only two archetypes or “personalities” make the variety: male and female. Although it is more or less obvious that under these twosome coverings everyone is an individual, it is also obvious that everyone is conditioned to accept the body as the self and hence act accordingly.
It may be speculated that there is no use of having two genders. After all, Brahma, the first living entity secondary creator of the universe, was born from Lord Vishnu. Many great sages were born solely from Brahma. Although in this way Brahma is engaged in the design and construction of the universe, he is not active in fulfilling the desires of all the conditioned living entities, including their desire to procreate. It is said that Brahma can create, Lord Shiva can destroy, but only Lord Vishnu can maintain.
Even when living entities harbor inimical desires towards Shri Krishna, He satisfies them. Shri Krishna’s arrangement of male and female prototypes in the material world creates an illusion of genuine relations between two different energies. And through the interaction of male and female entities other bodies take birth. The material world mimics (or reflects in a perverted sense) the spiritual world wherein there is constant interaction of Shri Krishna with His innumerable liberated servants, friends, mothers, fathers and lovers. In the material world the variety of personal characteristics is limited only to two. The material world does not have the facility to satisfy the spiritual seeker who is after the unlimited variety of the spiritual world.
“The ambitious conditioned soul wants to be very happy in this material world with his family, but he is compared to a traveler in the forest who desires to climb a hill full of thorns and small stones. As stated in the previous verse, the happiness derived from society, friendship and love is like a drop of water in the scorching heat of the desert.” (SB 5.13.8 Purport)
Shri Krishna interacts with everyone whether they are conditioned or liberated. He is not even slightly affected by the illusory bodily covering of the conditional living entities. His perspective is vast. He is like a bee who likes to taste the personalities of every living entity which for Him are like flowers. But the living entity is small and his perspective is always limited whether it is conditioned in the material world or liberated in the spiritual world.
The individual soul’s relationship with Shri Krishna is sufficient to accommodate every one of his desires. The limited nature of the living entity cannot contain a deep personal interaction with other living entities unless those relationships are filtered through his bond with Shri Krishna. Thus, the connection of the living entity with the Supreme Lord is always a unique and one-on-one relationship. But when the rebellious entity seeks to falsely disconnect from Lord Shri Krishna he falls down into this material world. Here his one-on-one relationship with Shri Krishna is translated into the relationship of male and female in this material world. This is actually evidence that the living entity who needs reciprocation cannot exist without Shri Krishna because he constantly reflects on the nature of his relationship with the Supreme Lord.
In this reflective material world, the characteristics of the female prototype are linked to her body and the characteristics of the male prototype are linked to his body. For the purpose of reproduction a woman has a womb while the man does not. A woman comes into her body with a clear perspective of her role and that her role is important. In the mind of the conditioned entity, procreation is the actual goal of existence because through reproduction of the species the living entity falsely thinks that he or she creates other individuals and in this way somehow becomes equal to God.
For this reason a woman holds an important position in this world. A conditioned man seeks to receive his share of credit as the creator and the only way to achieve that is through union with the woman. Thus his objective becomes sexual union and the woman an object of his desire. The man does everything to show others that he is as multifaceted as the woman is. The ego of the conditioned man is very fragile. He may try to flatter the woman in order to get receive her favor although ultimately what he desires is to be recognized as a creator and to diminish the role of the woman as such. This is one aspect of the never ending battle of the sexes.
On the other hand, the woman attracts a man to share in her great burden of creation. She knows she is important and secretly regards the man as inferior. She becomes bitter when she discovers that he is with her only because of his own self-interest. This is the underlying principle of this material world, that there is no real love between the man and the woman because both have conditions that they place on the other person. Because both genders speak different languages and they have different means of achieving what they desire in life, nether understands the other. Therefore in this material world there are innumerable misunderstandings going on between the man and the woman. Neither has any genuine understanding that the other person covered with an illusory material form is a spirit soul who has zero to do with the demands and conditions of the body.
Offspring produced of the male and female are regarded as individuals only for the short period of time until they also take their turns in the reproductive cycle. The different personalities that the mother and father appreciate in the individual children are only related to relative matter.
But the reflective prototypes of males and females do not tell us all about the characteristics of Shri Krishna Who created them. Shri Krishna neither reflects the man or woman in this material world. But from the angle of limited, conditioned material understanding He may seem to possess trends from both male and female prototypes. He has a position which cannot be disputed just like the females in the material world are predestined as prototypes to give birth. Shi Krishna’s position as the Supreme Lord is indisputable. He is also the maintainer of the whole universe just like a man maintains his family. Yet Shri Krishna does not have the limitation of the woman for only one significant relationship because He relates always with all of His parts and parcels. He is also neither like the man who is woven by a fragile ego. Shri Krishna is called the Purush or the Supreme Man yet that mainly serves to define the limited position of the living entity who has no capacity to form a loving relationship with more than one individual. Everyone knows that a woman would have a very hard time having more than one husband at a time. Thus, the living entity may well be called Prakriti or female.
However, the relationship between the spirit soul and Shri Krishna transcends the material subjective concept of gender because only the personality traits play an important role in it. It is not that the spiritual personality is not visible in the material world but it is covered by a body and for a soul to be able to directly associate with Shri Krishna the gender identity should completely be dropped off. A genuine devotee should understand that the spiritual world has unlimited prototypes. In fact he is one of them. Everyone has his own spiritual unique “gender” that relates in a unique way with Shri Krishna. This is called rasa. And although there are 5 basic rasas of neutrality, survivorship, friendship, parenthood and conjugal love the variety in them is unlimited.
The personality of the living entity is ever present. Although covered in the material world, the relationship between Shri Krishna and the living entity is eternal. The love of Shri Krishna for the living entity is unconditional because the only thing He gains from the living entity is the taste of his personality and that is eternal and never diminishing. The living entity cannot escape from the fact that he is a person no matter how much he is trying to hide under the cloth of material genders. So, for Shri Krishna who is ever aware of the eternal nature and personality of the living entity there is no obstacles to love. There is not a single moment when the Supreme Lord does not love the individuality of the living entity. And because relationships are only possible on equal footing, the living entity who desires to restore his eternal relationship with the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna should start to understand that Shri Krishna is the Supreme Person.
Shri Krishna is dressed in a nice yellow dothi and has nice ornaments on His dark blue body. His eyes a like lotus petals and his moonlike face is adored by a nice smile. He plays His flute and is surrounded by His close associates everyone also coming along with their eternal personal characteristics. In the material world nobody wears the same cloths all the time because the cloths are not part of the personality of the persona that wears them. The cloths are just there to be created and destroyed or, in other words, enjoyed temporarily. Everything in the material world carries this false desire to be God and enjoy the creation created by other living entities. But because the material world is in denial of its eternal spiritual origins nothing works properly. A man who is undercover and has to play a different role not being able to show his true identity is never truly satisfied. But that is the cost a person has to pay if he wants to pretend being somebody else and not himself. This is the position of the living entity pretending to be God. And the confusion in the material world is great because everyone is undercover.
This material world may be a place for enjoyment for the unintelligent but for Shri Krishna is a playground for some of His pastimes. This is a place where some living entities come to become inimical to Him while others stay on His side. Thus, this world is a stage for battles and wars where Shri Krishna is the ultimate winner. There are always constant wars going on in this world and peace is not possible due to the supreme dictum of epic enjoyment of Shri Krishna carried by Him personally in this world. For example, the guardians of Vaikunta Jaya and Vijaya prayed to Shri Krishna to make them inimical to Him so his desire for fighting can be satisfied. Thus, the great demons Hiranyakashupi and Hiranyaksha were born and then killed by Shri Krishna in a cosmic-scale battle. Shri Krishna likes to fight and win. This truth about Shri Krishna is revealed by Him in Bhagavad Gita (4.8):
paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam
dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge
In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.
So whoever understands Shri Krishna’s nature is eligible to go back to His spiritual abode. But may be some are still attracted to the lila which includes their personal annihilation in the material world…
janma karma ca me divyam
evaṁ yo vetti tattvataḥ
tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma
naiti mām eti so 'rjuna
One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna. BG (4.9) P