The Dangers that arise on the Bhakti Path (Part 1) 10/5/14 India
This morning we meditate on the dangers that arise in our lives when practicing bhakti, that appear in our sadhana, in our attempt to be devotees. We should see how Krishna treated these demons, just as in the pastime of when He lifts the Govardhan Hill, or when He corrects the illusion of Brahma when he hides the cowherd boys and cows.
Whatever Krishna does is always perfect, everything has its purpose. Sometimes we understand, sometimes we do not understand very well. Krishna is not obliged to give satisfaction to our rational potential. Especially when it comes to His sweet pastimes. Anyway, we can learn, we are here to learn, we are here to fight. Therefore I'll read to help you remember these beautiful comparisons or realizations from our Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.
The first is Putana. Putana is compared to the Pseudo Guru, who can be a person or one's mind. Because one's mind also invades us as Guru. He says do that, do what is actually wrong. But the mind presents itself as the authority in our welfare. Similarly, in the world there are many Pseudo Gurus too. They are saying: 'buy this, buy that, follow this ideology, follow this attempt'. Better said, there is so much influence there. Others also say that life is to enjoy to the highest degree possible, now.
If I start thinking about the different messages of different pseudo Gurus, many say that you become
God by practicing some form of meditation. Others say that life is simply to enjoy, there is no type of self or no one should control the senses. Especially if we think, for example, in the movement of Osho, of Rajneesh, who is practically telling everyone 'the senses must be enjoyed to the fullest extent, there is no need to put a brake on them'. So, with this kind of message many people accepted him and many people followed him. But in fact, there is no authority in the things he says. He does not make a reference to the Bhagavad Gita, and this is an example of Pseudo Guru.
I think he represents the Pseudo Guru that is inside all of us. The Pseudo Guru within Sigmund Freud says: "People are sick, are frustrated because they could not live their sexual life to the fullest, without restrictions. We are all victims of the Catholic tradition which preaches to the people that sex is bad." Things like this ... So many things are there, mixed, and this produces the Pseudo Gurus.
So one has a great advantage in life if you have a real authority as the Bhagavad Gita or Srila Prabhupada. We are very fortunate because suddenly there is clarity, and suddenly one can understand that the sexual life that is not against the principles of religion is Krishna Himself, and is sacred. And seeing the children the same because the tendency of people is to label something as diabolical. So much so, to the extent that we have seen people who demonize women. What a ridiculous thing, no? The sacred mother, but diabolically mistreated and blamed her for our lustiness, who diverts us from the path.
And suddenly some did the same to children, who are against children themselves. We have seen this. I remember at the start of the mission of Srila Prabhupada said 'Do not become too attached to family, do not become too attached to the people with whom you live'. But the problem in the West was just that people are so detached that they are already not too attached to the family, they leave their parents and never again greet them in their life.
Or maybe once a year or something. And they with very much inclination detach themselves from the wife to switch to another, so all this that says 'Do not cling to family' is a rather misunderstood instruction, because what it means is this: that at the end of life do not waste your attachment for Krishna by putting the family above. Not that one should not have attachment to wife and children, for God. And if you do not feel a great affection and great joy for his wife and his children, then how will you work and endure a lifetime to maintain them and feel blessed in their company. Then all that was a misapplied trend.
When you are too attached to something this attachment can easily become a rejection. Then, one takes refuge in that rejection so that the attachment one has does not dominate them . But what is this? It's the attachment to a beautiful family, it was the addiction to raising a family. While they are fighting such addiction it is actually the addiction to illicit sex, it is the attachment to promiscuity, attachment to playfulness. That you refuse, that you must fight. But then everything was mixed up, all confused. I myself watched this happen because in reality in the original old days, in the famous early days of ISKCON, in some temples there was a tremendous consciousness of Brahmacharis. There was about 50 or 60 brahmacaris, and every one of them was in sankirtan, excited and everything looked amazing, but suddenly something appeared and within six months more than half of them were married. It was from one extreme to another extreme elsewhere.
Therefore the issue of Putana is the falsehood that one comes to worship, and does so as if they were the Guru of another. And that is exactly what we are afraid of, idolization. We make something important that isn't and make something unimportant that is important and ignore it. So that the pseudo Guru is the one that makes me dedicate myself, imagine, one of my pseudo Gurus was Che Guevara when I was young. I thought: "Wow, he is so much against injustice, he is my hero." A hero who ate meat, materialistic, or at least he had a materialistic concept. I have not heard that Che Guevara spoke of God personally. And finally he was killing people, no. Police, military, government employees who were there defending oligarchies.
Therefore the false Guru Che Guevara teaches one to kill people. And I was so ignorant that I took it. I had a great jacket with Che Guevara painted on it and I wore it with joy.
So one needs much mercy not to be trapped by various false Gurus out there in the world. And here Srila Bhaktivinod Thakura says it may be the conditioned mind itself. And I think that's the fake Guru that most wants to divert one from spiritual life. More so because it will tell you: do not get up for Mangal Arati, do not go to class. Criticizing the devotees: 'Devotees do not understand me, I have to be away from them so that I can develop'. Rather, there is so much there we all struggle with in that sense, and its something that really distracts us.
Then the second: Trinavarta, the demon of the storm. That is the demon of false pride that comes when one is a scholar, or if one follows invented and speculative philosophies. This really is something totally demonic, excuse me saying so, but one simply becomes proud because you read a little more books than others because you memorized some more mantras than others, or whatever. What to say about when you feel proud because you received 'x' degree from whatever school.
All this is demonic. Because, let's see here. Krishna represents the divine innocence. He appears as a child, and He is playing in Vrindavan, inviting us to fall in love with Him. But what do we do? We are busy with our senses, with our false leaders, the Putanas who want to dominate, the Putanas that want to have more interest in institutions then in the essence. I also think that was something Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura thought as well, to compare institutional enthusiasts to Putanas, who want to use everything to their interests but not for the service of divinity.
And false pride is something that plagues many people. I've seen even some of the disciples of Prabhupada. Imagine, some of them were put to study Sanskrit and suddenly they thought they knew better than Prabhupada and such things. Or they began studying with other streams, other Sampradayas or something, and before long and they thought 'I found something that Prabhupada had not found', or with Babajis or something of the sort. Obviously, all that was somewhat ridiculous because no one can sustain that a lot of time on this, and some things like that.
Let's see, Vallabha Sampradaya was only one person called, Syam Das. The Sri Sampradaya was only one person, Gourkeshava Das, as one of the prominent names. Rather said, those of them who came to Radha Kunda could never sustain. So only a few remained antagonistic doing propaganda, but actually the one that moved the heart of the world was Srila Prabhupada. He had clarity and had a perfect line where we really need to follow the movement of Lord Chaitanya, having compassion for the conditioned souls.
Imagine this, if there were only a thousand western people living in Radha Kunda that would be chaotic for Radha Kunda, it would be ended. If each one of them wants to make their Western home there. Rather, they are elements that one could not even be imagined, but even in Kali Yuga anything can happen.
And look what happened in Vrindavan. Vrindavan was a very quiet village. Today everyone who is rich in India wants a department in Vrindavan and wants to die there because they know that they can go to the spiritual world, so the sales departments are one of the successful businesses of the Delhi real estate.
Therefore in reality there are a lot of obstacles, but I see the pride that comes when one has read some books that others have not read, or if they have learned a little bit of language, then this is very dangerous. In reality it is an influence that can take one away from the most beautiful kind of life.
Also, within the temple it can appear that one feels superior than others because of their acquired knowledge, and that really is against all of our interests. We work today with the study of ancient wisdom. But we know that ancient wisdom is not something one collects as an accumulation of knowledge. It is rather just for us to learn and appreciate other people who have had great thoughts and great developments. One does not study Gaudhiya Vaishnavism by reading many books.
Only when one surrenders to the lotus feet of Lord Krishna and begins to preach enthusiastically, chanting their rounds with enthusiasm, and listening to classes enthusiastically will one's faith solidify; and it becomes present in one's life as a great joy for what you are doing. And that is spiritual advancement, when a person is excited about what he does that is called spiritual life. And because of his enthusiasm, as a wonderful example, he encourages people and perhaps other people and perhaps other become contagious with their example and all we all consider him an advanced devotee.
Somewhere Bhaktivinod Thakur also writes '' An advanced devotee is known by the fact that he facilitation many places where one can listen to Krishna katha and convert many souls to want to sing Hare Krishna.' Then something very Gosti Anandi, who is outpouring to the world.
Spiritual progress is when someone does something that makes a nice impact but remains humble. Those who think they are already elevated in their knowledge, as it here: Trinavarta is false pride that is carried like a storm inside oneself and it just grows,more and more, and more until Krishna gives you a small slap. That was Balarama, no? Ah no, Balarama was a part of Pralambasura lila. Pralabasura is the representative of lust and he received a blow on the head from the original spiritual master, Sri Balaramji.
Well, we're still prideful. Therefore, pride arises within you, and you can see it. There are some people that you give a brahminical cord to and they begin to order others harshly. They say 'Look, I'm Brahmana and you should pay attention to me because I already have second initiation'.
All type of treatment, or shall I say bad treatment, impositions or questioning between each other on the basis of some institutional position or advancement course that one has done, that is false. In other words it is a false tendency we have. How many people aren't in the temples who behave in such follies, which impose their things, or make others feel bad, or some even pridefully instruct a new devotee only because the new devotee commits a small mistake that does not matter. They walk in with shoes in the kitchen and so they shout at them.
My God, what does it matter. Of course, in the kitchen we must not enter with street shoes, but ultimately it is a floor and we clean it all the time, that is not relevant. There is no reason to behave in such an ill manner as well because a person ate with his left hand or something and so another devotee wants to give a slap on the hand.
There are many examples like that, no? As soon as pride arises in the form of instructing others about spiritual matters, and it is being contaminated by a demeaning mentality we could know that such a form is not true advancement, but rather it is taking advantage of one's trust. One says 'I have the position, so I have the right to do it'.
Even when you preach in a way that makes others feel bad, that it is a form of pride. Preaching can make others feel good, to feel embraced, encouraged, invited to something higher. But if you ju
st use preaching to make others feel bad, that does not count.
Third: Sakatasura, the cart demon. The cart which he took form of created disorder in Vrindavan. And little Krishna with a kick sent Sakatasura far away, the man who wanted to create disorder, disturbance in Vrindavan. That can be compared with the tendency of having many bad habits, holding onto them as well as accumulating more in this life and in previous lives. And it is also represented by lethargy and laziness of those who do not want to know anything: do not come to me with important things, I just want to know what is mine and not interested in anything more.
Well, it is not so rewarding to admit that one is not very lazy or lethargic. So sometimes a lazy person ignores some responsibility and later becomes very embarrassed because its revealed that it was due to his laziness? And they respond with 'Oh, how embarrassing I didn't even realize it'.
In other words, the demons here are the deviations of free will. It is whenever one can be good but is not, when one can be helpful but instead is lethargic, when one can be curious but is very self-absorbed and does not want to know anything. Well, laziness and lack of ... For example, the temple president says 'Who helps me?' And someone says 'Ah, I do not want to help', because he does not get curious.When the spiritual master and the president says' I have this project who will help me? 'Many devotees say' Oh how nice, but you do it, not me. I'm already very busy in my sleep, in my rest. I am very busy in my vacation plans, please do not count on me.' That's lethargy laziness, and I think that's one of the things that really makes the temples suffer. There are few people saying 'Medellin, saying, doing and ready'. And it shows, in parts lethargy is bigger than in others. In some parts there is much spirit of cooperation. The Guru says something and all 'we will do it', and then people input their energy and not only do they do it but they do it wonderfully. Sometimes there's disciples that if the Guru says 3 things then they do 20. So that means they were very devoted to this idea. In other words the study of these demons is very favorable for us because it makes us realize how far one from the right attitude that is needed to grow in spiritual life.
Well, let's continue, Number 4: The salvation of Nalakuvara and Manigriva, who came when Krishna broke down the two arjuna trees. They are representatives of arrogance, of pride from high birth ... And this is born from the madness of wealth. That I can confirm. Where there is wealth there is madness. People think 'Now if I have money, then I do not need neither this nor the other'. It is very dangerous, I would say that one of the most dangerous things in this world is to have a lot of money. And the truth is it is a paradox; a paradox because when you get into a job, if you want to try to sell any item or anything that people are doing there is always the idea of 'There I am going to prosper'. And not only does it pay well but the gain is better. And when you make more automatically your spending increases. Lifestyle immediately becomes more expensive.
Before a brahmachari spent nothing because he had nothing. They were all happy and all was good. But now suddenly wages are raised and living expenses are raised. Triple the salary, living expenses triples. But its not that now you have more to spare to help the spiritual master or the mission, no. Simply costs increase, the cars become bigger and everything else. And maybe buy clothes more frequently than before.
Brahmacari, the type of clothes was not important. And now suddenly they want to dress very fashionable or whatever. So it is those two things, the madness of wealth. That's sad, I suffer a lot from this because I see that the rich do not have access to the temple, they have no access to devotional service. Although they have the money so that they could do more service than others but they are concerned with their 5 cents and keep it from anyone. Rather, they becomes more stingy than the poor on the street and that is worrying. Actually, as Jesus spoke: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for an infatuated person to enter into devotional service seriously.
Well, that is just like beauty. Beauty, richness, high education or an upscale family, '' I come from a large upscale family '. That pride of aristocracy of high birth is said here. Well, let's see, what are different kinds of arrogance? It may be ''I was born in family of Brahmins." Or others say, 'I was born in the family of Lord Nityananda', others say' I was born into the family of a powerful politician', others say 'I was born in the family of a white aristocrat', others say, 'I was born in a European, American family'. Rather, it goes to such a low base. Another says 'I am Venezuelan, and unfortunately you're Colombian'. Therefore everything becomes degraded, down to the lowest degree, that everyone wants to be more than the other for any reason.
Suddenly something says 'I have less of a flat nose than yours, so I'm better than you'. And in the powers of the world, all of it is led by this. '' I run faster than you, I'm better '. Oh, yeah? But any rabbit runs three times faster than you why not glorify rabbits as the best racers of the track? Everything that we do is so ridiculous. We are always looking to qualify ourselves and make others feel bad. And after the war: 'We are the winners of the war, you are the losers of the war, and your physical appearance is not as nice as mine and you do not have the title in college that I have, and I have more money than you, and then there you are very coy.'
All of this absurdity that we are mentioning here is what impedes the progress in Bhakti Yoga. Those are terrible Anarthas that led Manigriva and Nalakuvara to become trees. But luckily Narada Muni had cursed them so that they had a chance to be saved by Krishna. So Krishna is the only one who can break the arrogance, and how does He break it? Well, he practically knocks them down to the floor. He killed their cursed bodies. Perhaps then we need Krishna to kill our cursed body so we can have a higher consciousness; if we do not take refuge now then we will have to wait for Him to kill us first so that we can be freed from our situation.