Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Srimad-Bhagavatam Meditation: 3:9:10

It is once again time for a guided meditation on the ripened fruit of the tree of Vedic knowledge, the Srimad-Bhagavatam

I humbly ask you to read first the translation and Bhaktivedanta purport to today's verse, the 10th verse from Ninth Chapter of the Third Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam.

ahny āpṛtārta-karaṇā niśi niḥśayānā

nānā-manoratha-dhiyā kṣaṇa-bhagna-nidrāḥ

daivāhatārtha-racanā ṛṣayo 'pi deva

yuṣmat-prasańga-vimukhā iha saḿsaranti

Such nondevotees engage their senses in very troublesome and extensive work, and they suffer insomnia at night because their intelligence constantly breaks their sleep with various mental speculations. They are frustrated in all their various plans by supernatural power. Even great sages, if they are against Your transcendental topics, must rotate in this material world.

I just wanted to appreciate and offer some meditations on a recent class done by our esteemed guest HG Damodar Gopal Prabhu of Montreal and Chowpatty on this verse. I hope I may add something to his already wonderful and profound observations.

I must admit I'm always tickled with these kinds of verses, in which the minute fallacies of our contemporary civlization of vice and conceit are placed in the proper light of the parampara.

After all, what is more revolutionary that "you are not your body, you're spirit soul!" Every activist group of progressive minds is actually aiming at this ideal, this liberation, this freedom against the clearly perceived injustices of our material existence.

The complete vision that Prabhupada has given us actually makes him the supreme activist, the one who can give us what we really lack and want: our selves, in real, eternal freedom, and what's more, he can give us our loving relationship with Krsna once again, if we sincerely desire it.

Our contemporary post-modern hodge-podge of gadgets, guns, and gonzo living is a veritable monster, on the loose, devouring our forests, hedge funds, idealistic politicans, and so many senses of decency and piety. It is a monster of lust, a capitalistic, industrialized, over-technological creature of comfort.

We are its victims as well as its confidants, its bridegroom and its divorcee. Prabhupada could clearly see this from the core of his vision, and his strong and crystal-clear writings on the precarious situation we have put ourselves in as a collective people stand with and above all such revolutionary expressions.

In the purport to this verse, Prabhupada writes:

"As described in the previous verse, people who have no taste for the devotional service of the Lord are occupied in material engagements. Most of them engage during the daytime in hard physical labor; their senses are engaged very extensively in troublesome duties in the gigantic plants of heavy industrial enterprise.

"Factory" is another name for hell. At night, hellishly engaged persons take advantage of wine and women to satisfy their tired senses, but they are not even able to have sound sleep because their various mental speculative plans constantly interrupt their sleep. Because they suffer from insomnia sometimes they feel sleepy in the morning for lack of sufficient rest. By the arrangement of supernatural power, even the great scientists and thinkers of the world suffer frustration of their various plans and thus rot in the material world birth after birth."

We think this is normal. We rotate our entire lives around the expectations of some such temporary pleasure to be derived from this vicious cycle. And Prabhupada clearly states that even the so-called "great minds" are not immune. Indeed they are often the ones, consciously or unconsciously, creating the social and economic spheres for the monster to stomp around on us.

It boils down to hankering and lamenting. This is the essence of the material nature. We are trying to enjoy seperately from Krsna, and we are in a world filled with so many different varieties of sensual delights.

We desire, we obsess, we think, we feel, and we act. In Calcutta on 1-27-73, speaking on verse 7:1 from the Gita, Prabhupada spoke the plain truth about this:

"Because in the karmi stage we have got two diseases: hankering and lamenting. Whatever you have got, if it is lost, then I lament. "Oh, I got this and that and it is now lost." And whatever we do not possess, we hanker after. So for possessing, we hanker, we work so hard. And when it is lost, we again lament and cry. This is karmi stage. So brahma-bhutah stage... Jnäna stage means he has no more lamenting or hankering. Prasannätmä. "Oh, I am, aham brahmasmi. What I have got to do with this body? My business is to cultivate transcendental knowledge, brahma-jnäna. So in that stage, brahma-bhütah prasannätmä na socati na känksati samah sarvesu bhütesu [Bg. 18.54]. That is the test. He has no lamenting. He has no hankering. And he's equal to everyone. Panditah sama-darsinah."

Again, what is more revolutionary than this? This is the summit of all progressive human aspiration, and beyond.

Another point that Damodar Gopal Prabhu made was that our contemporary system of education is the feeder into this ideology of impersonal and demonic exploitation. As I can relate from my own experience, your normal everyday, idealistic young college student is fed into a spiral of credit and debt, consumption and need...a veritable slaughterhouse.

Prabhupada writes from "The Art of Dying" from The Science of Self-Realization:

"The modern setup of human civilization is a risky one because it offers no education about relevant inquiries into the essential principles of life. Like animals, people do not know that they are going to be slaughtered by the laws of nature. They are satisfied with a bunch of green grass, or a so-called jolly life, like the waiting goat in a slaughterhouse. Considering such a condition of human life, we are just trying to make a humble attempt to save the human being by the message of Back to Godhead. This method is not fictitious. If there is at all to be an era of reality, this message of Back to Godhead is the beginning of that era."

It is our spiritual foundation, the house that Prabhupada built, that is our gift to all progressive-minded living entities. To dovetail our aspirations for a more just, humane, and equitable world into the vision that Prabhupada has given insures that our efforts will rise above the modes of nature.

Without a God-centered core, the modes of nature, the monster, will gradually and with great steadiness eat away at all of our energies and sincerity.

Prabhupada's vision is a mix of the urban and the rural. The lynchpins are book distribution (and all the dynamic city preaching and shelter that comes along with it) and self-sufficient, spiritually centered farm communities. This could save the least temporarily, in a Golden Age kinda way.

It could save many souls, giving them back exactly what they are looking for in their protests, occupations, petitions, hunger strikes, martyrdoms, etc.

Satsvarupa Maharaja states this excellently here in an excerpt from his book Living With The Scriptures:

When the devotees regularly produce excellent books and magazine articles, and as they continue to distribute Prabhupäda’s books more and more, and when they establish successful farm communities, and when they solve their own problems of education, marriage, and community cooperation, and when they demonstrate the perfect Vaisnava etiquette of ladies and gentlemen–not just with a handful of members, but with thousands–then eventually the dull brains of the suffering population of Kali-yuga will come to realize Prabhupäda’s message, and we can be satisfied by fulfilling his request.

If there is truth in the homely proverb “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door,” then it should not be very long before the practical ability of devotees to solve their problems and the problems of other people in the world begins to manifest more clearly to everyone, and the world’s citizens begin a mass movement of beating their path to the Krsna consciousness movement and back to Godhead.

My heart always remains connected to the progressive vibe, to the movement of the people. I pray very humbly, knowing I have little ability on my own, to Guru and Gauranga, for the guidance and ability to serve these striving humans and spirit souls by allowing them to understand the sublime message of Krsna Consciousness.

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