Date: March 17, 2005
Verse: Srimad Bhagavatam 1.13.21
Speaker: HG Madhudvisa Prabhu
hatas te vigatam vayam
atma ca jaraya grastah
TRANSLATION: Your father, brother, well-wishers and sons are all dead and passed away. You yourself have expended the major portion of your life, your body is now overtaken by invalidity, and you are living in the home of another.
PURPORT: The King is reminded of his precarious condition, influenced by cruel time, and by his past experience he should have been more intelligent to see what was going to happen to his own life. His father, Vicitravirya, died long ago, when he and his younger brothers were all little children, and it was due to the care and kindness of Bhismadeva that they were properly brought up. Then again his brother Pandu died also. Then in the Battlefield of Kuruksetra his one hundred sons and his grandsons all died, along with all other well-wishers like Bhismadeva, Dronacarya, Karna and many other kings and friends. So he had lost all men and money, and now he was living at the mercy of his nephew, whom he had put into troubles of various types. And despite all these reverses, he thought that he would prolong his life more and more. Vidura wanted to point out to Dhrtarastra that everyone has to protect himself by his action and the grace of the Lord. One has to execute his duty faithfully, depending for the result on the supreme authority. No friend, no children, no father, no brother, no state and no one else can protect a person who is not protected by the Supreme Lord. One should, therefore, seek the protection of the Supreme Lord, for the human form of life is meant for seeking that protection. He was warned of his precarious conditions more and more by the following words.
(repeats verse and translation)
So here we have the classic case of Vidura being his brother’s keeper.
There’s a biblical story and the Lord asked one person “Where is your brother?” “Oh, I don’t know, am I supposed to be my brother’s keeper?” And the answer is yes. Vidura here is showing that he is his brother’s keeper.
This is what I’d like to talk about today, how Srila Prabhupada is Vidura to us. Srila Prabhupada came back. Vidura came back, he was insulted, he was thrown out of the house unceremoniously. And he swallowed his pride, he was the personification of trnad api sunicena, he had the tolerance of a tree, he was feeling lower than the straw in the street. And this is the way we have to also be to be to preach. Srila Prabhupada was Vidura to us, he came back. He was on the verandah of the spiritual world. Krsna and Radha were inviting him, they were opening up the pearly gates, and he was going in to Vaikuntha from Vrndavana, everything was secure. He had already done the translation of the First Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam. He was living in Vrndavana, he was a renounced sadhu, he was a faithful servant of his Guru Maharaja. Everything was in place for him to go back to home, back to Godhead. But he decided at the advanced age to come back to enter into the turmoils of the material world, the chaos of the western world. Not just preaching in a local village or preaching in Vrndavana but he came back to the turmoil and the chaos of the western world to save us. And this is the case with Vidura he is coming back to save his brother who is an a pathetic situation, as we all know, he is living in the house of another and he is old.
In the slokas that will follow there are instructions by Vidura to his brother Dhrtarastra telling him his pathetic situation. His bodily capacities have been reduced and his eyes are not working, his teeth are not working, so many things are there and he’s living in the house of another.
Not only another, he’s living in the house of those who he tried to murder.
Vidura knew this, which added to the pathetic situation. That the people he was intriguing against for so many years, conniving, just conniving, to annihilate the Pandavas and now he’s living in the house of the Pandavas.
Yudhisthira is performing his duty correctly he is taking care of his elderly uncle, but somehow or other he’s hanging on, he’s thinking maybe something will happen, maybe these Pandavas will die and I’ll become king at last. There’s some hope. His father had died, his brother had died, all his hundred sons had died. They’re all done and gone, but somehow or other he’s hanging on, hope against hope, trying to connive that somehow or other he will be king. So Vidura is speaking like that to enlighten his brother.
And we have to understand that this is the crux of spiritual life if we can get the association of a sadhu. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu instructed Sanatana Goswami by saying:
sadhu-sanga sadhu-sanga sarva-sastre kaya, lava-matra sadhu-sange sarva-siddhi.
In other words, the translation is that the revealed scriptures are telling us that even lava-matra, even the smallest momentary association with a sadhu, can give us all perfection. Even a small minute association with a sadhu can do that. So this is very important, our spiritual life depends on association with the sadhu, association with the pure devotee.
Now the classic example we have of someone having a minute assocation with a great sadhu and attaing perfection is our own Srila Prabhupada. If you add up all the time that he had association with Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati it’s a matter of days, maybe not even a day. If you add up all the hours that he spent it may be a few days at the very most. Some time at Radha-Kund some time in Allahabad, some time in Calcutta in the beginning, like that, a few instances, a relatively small amount of assocation with a pure devotee, but we can see that Srila Prabhupada attained perfection. Perfection was attained by just a few small hours. So like this we have to seek out the association of a sadhu, seeking out the association of a pure devotee.
So the question may be asked, well, where to find such a pure devotee? Where to find the pure devotee? Where is another Srila Prabhupada, the senapati-bhakta. Where is he? Has anyone found another one? No. We are seeking the association of the sadhu, of the perfect sadhu, so we can attain perfection, but where is it to be found? Unfortunately throughout the years, people have put their faith in various different sadhus and have been disappointed. But there is no need to be disapointed because Srila Prabhupada has left behind his mission. And if you associate with Srila Prabhupada’s mission, if you serve Srila Prabhupada’s mission, it is the same as serving Srila Prabhupada directly. You must be convinced of that.
Throughout the years I have come in contact with so many devotees who are a little disheartened because they have put their faith in some sadhu and they have been let down. So much so that maybe they have even left ISKCON and gone to some other Math. But we must tell all those people, anybody you come into contact, and even some of you sitting in the audience right now may have a little trepidation, a little feeling of being let down. You should understand that Srila Prabhupada is fully invested in his mission, fully invested in his mission, and his instructions. We are just mortal men. To err is human–we all make mistakes–but to forgive is divine.
We must forgive all the mistakes that were made, don’t forget. But don’t go away from Prabhupada’s mission. And encourage all those who have, to come and get involved in Srila Prabhupada’s mission, serving Srila Prabhupada’s mission. Anybody who says “I am serving Srila Prabhupada but I am part of another mission”. No, Prabhupada is right here in his mission, in his ISKCON. And by serving Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON then you will be protected.
So Vidura is coming back and trying to give his brother some protection. And we should all be thinking like that, that we need the protection of Srila Prabhupada. There is no time where we are beyond the grips of material nature.
I had an incident the other day, a small insignificant incident, but it brought home to me how vunerable we are. During the abhiseka I went out after a few hours and took a little walk to stretch my legs and I drank a dob. And somehow there was an adverse reaction, and it was like a big sledgehammer pounded into my stommach. And I began to vomit everything that was in my stomach and I went on vomiting and vomiting. And I couldn’t catch my breath, and I was sweating and perspiring, and I was falling down. I had to sit down, I was getting faint. And I didn’t think of Krsna, honestly speaking. I couldn’t think of Krsna, I could hardly breathe. But it was a kind of mini-death. It was a preview of coming attractions. At the end of life our breaths are finished, there are no more breaths. No more. You take that last breath, remember, take your final breath. Where’s Dravida?
Remember that your final breath may come at any time, No matter if you’re old and grey, or in your youthful prime
Dravida has versified all these great prayers. So remember that your final breathe may come at any time.
So when I ate that dob, it was like my final breath, boom, hit me in the stomach, ahh, hit me in the back. What did I do? Like this I was vomiting all day long. That’s how it is at the time of death.
So we need the protection of the pure devotee. And if we have the protection of a pure devotee, no one can harm us. What is the saying? The unknown source, Rakhe krsna mare ke mare krsna rakhe ke. If Krsna wants rakhe, wants to protect you, then there’s no force on earth that can harm you. But if Krsna wants to kill you, there’s no getting away. You can’t weasel out of it. So like that, we have to seek the protection of the Lord. And this is done through the mercy of his pure devotee.
So by serving Srila Prabhupada’s mission, you are serving Srila Prabhupada directly, you are associating with Srila Prabhupada directly. By reading his books, and distributing his books, and cleaning the floor, cooking for the deities, doing so many different activities, bringing up your family in Krsna consciousness according to the precepts that Srila Prabhupada gave us–this is all associating with Srila Prabhupada. This is the sadhu-sanga, this is the way to attain perfection.
Now some may say “I may go to another place, some other association, some other Math.” Well, you’re taking your chances. By thinking that you will attain the perfection of life by going somewhere else, you are taking your chances. But by serving Srila Prabhupada, through ISKCON, then you are not taking any chance. Srila Prabhupada was perfect, his preaching was perfect.
We are imperfect. If there are some inebrieties that you see in ISKCON, it is coming from us, from us, from me. Because I have not understood the instructions of Srila Prabhupada properly. So therefore I am creating the disturbance, I am commiting the offences. Prabhupada did not commit any offences. He was pure, he was with Krsna. He spoke with Krsna. Krsna and Srila Prabhupada had direct association. So Srila Prabhupada is our sure-fire saviour, and we pray that we have the protection of Krsna.
Krsna, Krsna, Krsna, Krsna, Krsna, Raksha Mam. Right? We want the protection of Krsna. We want the maintenance of Krsna. Rama Raghava, Rama Raghava, Rama Raghava, raksa mam. Krsna Kesava, Krsna Kesava, Krsna Kesava, pahi mam. The maintenance of the Lord, the maintenance of Krsna, the protection of Krsna, and this is obtained through the medium of the spiritual master.
So in this way Vidura is performing the highest welfare work, by coming back to save his brother, showing that compassion. Srila Prabhupada came from the brink of Vaikuntha to save us. To give us so many supremely beautiful precious books to associate with him through. So if you want to associate with Srila Prabhupada then read his books. If you want to be part of Srila Prabhupada’s service, serve ISKCON. And if there is some difficulty, don’t say the institution is wrong, it’s the people who are administering the institution that have to be called to task. And we shouldn’t hesitate to call them to task because Srila Prabhupada has given us the standard. He has given us the standard. I am not speaking as a revolutionary to try to get some people to stand up and depose some leader. Srila Prabhupada also believed that we have to maintain order in our society so we can continue our preaching. But at the same time we should hold to a high standard our leaders. And we should hold to a higher standard ourselves. We should be very critical of ourselves. We should be very loving and forgiving of others. So, Srila Prabhupada spoke to his spiritual master a very loving few sentences that I’d like to close with.
Prabhupada said, “Personally I have no hope for any direct service for the coming crores of births of the sojourn of my life, but I am confident that some day or other I shall be delivered from this mire of delusion in which I am at present so deeply sunk. Therefore let me with all earnestness pray at the lotus feet of my divine master to allow me to suffer the lot for which I am destined due to my past misdoings, but to let me have this power of recollection: that I am nothing but a tiny servant of the Almighty Absolute Godhead, realized through the unflinching mercy of my divine master. Let me therefore bow down at his lotus feet with all the humility at my command.”
Jai Srila Prabhupada!
So there are a couple of minutes here, if there are any questions, we’ll try to. . . yes?
Question by Visala Prabhu: So Madhudvisa Prabhu, there were two questions I had in mind. One was you mentioned you almost died by taking a dob. Did you offer it? (laughter)
Answer: I held it to my head before I drank it. I said “Jai Prabhupada”. I didn’t bow down and offer it no, that was my problem. Leaving the abhiseka was the first problem. If I’d just stayed put in the abhiseka I would have been all right. I would have saved myself a whole day of suffering.
Visala Prabhu: Thank you, that’s a nice answer. The other question, you quoted from sastra “sadhu-sanga sarva sastre kay” that even a moment’s association from a pure devotee, one can attain all perfection. Now we understand that Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur states that a person would appear and he would build a house, at a certain time, he foretold the time also, and he would build a house in which everyone could live in. And Srila Prabhupada also said “There was never a time that I remember forgetting Krsna.” You’re saying that Srila Prabhupada only had a couple of days with Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, in other words you’re indicating that without the mercy, before he met Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, he was not a liberated soul.
Could you clarify your statement.
Answer: No, not that Srila Prabhupada was not a liberated soul. But he was showing us by example that we have to take a spiritual master. He was showing us by example that the sadhus are so potent that even a moment’s association with a sadhu can lead to perfection. It’s not to say that “I’m not going to look for a sadhu because I really only need a moment and I’m going to find a moment some time in my lifetime and then I’ll attain perfection.” No. The point is being made that the sadhu is so potent that even a momement’s association can deliver one. Srila Prabhupada showed us by example that even though he was liberated from birth. Rightfully so, Prabhupada said “There was never a time when I did not remember Krsna.” But just to show us the importance of accepting a spiritual master, even Srila Prabhupada accepted a spiritual master and served him.
Are there any other questions, way back there. I can’t hear you, you have to wait for the mike to come.
Mataji: You mentioned that we should be forgiving to others and be critical of ourselves. I wanted to ask you, where’s the line when devotees get very low confidence, they get into that self-indulgence and lose their self-esteem and go on “I’m so fallen, I’m so useless, I can’t do anything” and all those sort of things. So where would you say is the line that we shouldn’t cross where we just like. . . I hope you know what I mean.
Basically, about ourselves, that we don’t go too low about ourselves and at the same time be also critical. . . ? Do I make myself clear, or. . . ?
(Danavir Maharaja conveys the question for Madhudvisa Prabhu)
Answer: One of the qualities of devotional service is we have to be enthusiastic, about the execution of devotional service. At the same time we have to be critical, not in a negative sense that “I’m so fallen, I can’t engage in serving my spiritual master”. We should be enthusiastic about the execution of devotional service and at the same time we should feel ourselves to be lowly and fallen.
Just like you read the poetry of Bhaktivinoda Thakur. He’s taking the position of a conniving, envoius person, saying that when someone is suffering, I become happy. But we know that Bhaktivinoda is not thinking like that, but he takes that position just so he can be instructive for us.
We should feel like that, like we are the lowest, only by the fortune of Srila Prabhupada’s mercy are we able to engage in devotional service. That’s how we should feel. There’s no qualification that I have that enables me or makes me eligible for devotional service. It’s all because of Srila Prabhupada’s mercy that I can engage in devotional service.
We should always feel that the other devotees are more qualified than me.
Nobody should feel puffed up. We’re all here in the material world. We’re all imprisoned. Can anybody feel better that I’m in prison but I didn’t commit such a great crime. No, this material world is prison. Look around at each other, you’re a prisoner, I’m a prisoner, we’re all prisoners. Don’t feel that I’m a better prisoner. “Oh, I’m a better prisoner, I’m a trustee prisoner.” No, when they close the gates at night you have to stay in the jail. We’re all prisoners so we should never feel puffed up thinking that I’m more qualified than someone else. We’re here in the material world, we’re struggling with our senses, but if we pray to Srila Prabhupada then he will help us. He will help us at the time of death, he will give us the enlightenment to, instead of being fearful, we will have the enlightenment to call Yamaraja to the kirtana. When Yamaraja comes to the kirtana and we’re all chanting:
hare krsna hare krsna krsna krsna hare hare
hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare
When Yamaraja is there in the kirtana noone’s going to hurt you. No Yamadutas are going to come. Yamaraja is there in the kirtana. So that’s being pro-active at the time of death. Don’t think “Oh, I’m trying to remember Krsna”, no. Call Yamaraja, “Come Yamaraja, let’s have kirtana, Hare Krsna!” And if Yamaraja is there there’s no question of any fear. We can have kirtana on the way up. Thank you very much. Hare Krsna. (applause)