This Life Is Very Short




Date: March 18, 2005
Verse: Srimad Bhagavatam 1.13.22
Speaker: HH Candramauli Swami

andhah puraiva vadhiro
manda-prajnas ca sampratam
visirna-danto mandagnih
saragah kapham udvahan

TRANSLATION: You have been blind from your very birth, and recently you have become hard of hearing. Your memory is shortened, and your intelligence is disturbed. Your teeth are loose, your liver is defective, and you are coughing up mucus.

PURPORT: The symptoms of old age, which had already developed in Dhrtarastra, were all one after another pointed out to him as warning that death was nearing very quickly, and still he was foolishly carefree about his future. The signs pointed out by Vidura in the body of Dhrtarastra were signs of apaksaya, or dwindling of the material body before the last stroke of death. The body is born, it develops, stays, creates other bodies, dwindles and then vanishes. But foolish men want to make a permanent settlement of the perishable body and think that their estate, children, society, country, etc., will give them protection. With such foolish ideas, they become overtaken by such temporary engagements and forget altogether that they must give up this temporary body and take a new one, again to arrange for another term of society, friendship and love, again to perish ultimately. They forget their permanent identity and become foolishly active for impermanent occupations, forgetting altogether their prime duty. Saints and sages like Vidura approach such foolish men to awaken them to the real situation, but they take such sadhus and saints as parasites of society, and almost all of them refuse to hear the words of such sadhus and saints, although they welcome show-bottle sadhus and so-called saints who can satisfy their senses. Vidura was not a sadhu to satisfy the ill-gotten sentiment of Dhrtarastra. He was correctly pointing out the real situation of life, and how one can save oneself from such catastrophies.

(invocatory prayers)

Here is a continuation of Vidura’s concern, compassion, for his brother Dhrtarastra. He’s using whatever means possible to try to awaken him to the actual goal of life. Dhrtarastra had finished his life, practically maybe a few months or few years left. But still due to his attachments, material desires, he is very much unwilling to change his situation. It is a quite pitiable situation for Dhrtarastra. He is not situated nicely in his material life. He’s in a very pitiable and despicable condition. He’s living at the home of the persons whom he tried to kill. All his family members are dead, his body is very old, and as mentioned in a previous verse, he was blind from birth. Dhrtarastra is twice blind. He’s blind physically, and he’s also blind to his spiritual life. Vidura’s trying to wake him up. He’s trying to say whatever time you have left, use it to pursue the goal. Time is so valuable.

Srila Prabhupada would often quote Canakya Pandit that one moment of time, even if you have so much wealth, still you cannot buy that moment back. When it’s gone, it’s gone. With both the rising and setting of the sun, another day is lost. One is closer to death, except one who hears the glorification of the all-good Supreme Personality of Godhead. So time is so important. And noone knows how much time we have left. To use whatever time is available in this human form of life to pursue the goal is the real business of life.

Death will come. Wherever there is birth, there is death. But the soul, of course, “na hanyate hanyamane sarire,” the soul doesn’t die, the body dies.

That is inevitable. And that is the reality of our situation.

I was just reading last night in Hari Sauri’s diary in glorification of Srila Prabhupada’s activities, how one young girl, I believe her name was Manisha, had come to see Srila Prabhupada. She had some terminal illness.
She had very little time left, the doctors could not do anything to save her body. And when she came into Srila Prabhupada’s room she immediately burst into tears, became overwhelmed with emotion and started to speak about how she was going to die. Prabhupada was very sober and concerned at the same time. He said “This death, it comes. Everyone must die. Whether you die now or later, still you must die, the body must die. This is not the real concern to try to prolong one’s life.”

It says in the Bhagavatam that the trees they live. . . the redwood and the sequoia trees in California, even trees here in India, they live for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. But what is the value of a long life? And the verse goes on that just one moment of Krsna consciousness is the most valuable quality of the human form of life. So this human form of life is very valuable, time is very valuable.

Sometimes we do not see how important and necessary it is to use every bit of time for Krsna consciousness. As devotees sometimes we take life for granted, yes, I am young. But who knows how much time you have left?

The idea that I have so many plans is nice, but the real plan is to become Krsna conscious. That is the only plan. When one becomes Krsna conscious, whatever other activities and other desires that may be there due to one’s association with the material energy will be fulfilled. Desires are fulfilled in two ways. One way is that you fulfill your desire by getting what you want. But that is not the Krsna conscious way to fulfill your desires. The real way is to become Krsna conscious, and then whatever other desires automatically become supportive to that desire. There’s no other need to fulfill any other desire. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati used to say there’s only one problem in this material world: lack of Krsna consciousness.

We sing every day to the spiritual master the beautiful song Sri Guru

sri guru carane rati, ei sei uttama gati, ye prasade pure sarva asa

In that line, Srila Narottama Das Thakur explains that my attachment to the lotus feet of the spiritual master, by following his instructions carefully, sincerely, all of one’s desires automatically become fulfilled. That means when you become Krsna conscious there’s nothing else to desire. So therefore every bit of time should be used to serve that one desire. Noone knows how much time we have left.

There’s a sad but true story that happened a few years ago to illustrate just how this idea of youth can intoxicate one into thinking I have a long life. Youth is a form of intoxication, because when you’re young you have so many plans, so many desires, and so much energy and aspirations. As you get older, you start to see things a little differently.

The devotees under the care of Radha Gopinath in Chowpatty were preaching at one medical college. They were regularly holding programmes in the college, and many of the young students were coming. There was one boy regularly coming who was in his last year in medical school, about three of four months before graduation. He was chanting and also coming to the temple.

Then at one point he said to his friends that “I really really want to get the best grades in class. I want to become the top student in the whole school. So therefore I’m not coming to the temple anymore, I’m not coming to associate with the devotees, I’m not going to chant, but I’ll come after I graduate.”

And he only had about four months left. So his friends said all right, and they continued. He studied and put all his energy, time, effort into study and he graduated top in his class. He was the top student in the whole school, medical college. He got all Honours. So his friends said “OK, you did it. Now come back. The devotees are here, tonight’s there’s a programme in the college; you should attend it.” He said, “Yeah, I know, but there’s a graduation party tonight.” And he went to the party. While he was at the party he was dancing and had a heart attack and died. 23 years old, no history of any medical records. And of course when his friends heard what had happened, they became very serious.

So we see this is an example how one doesn’t know when death will come.
Prahlada Maharaja preaches to his schoolmates that now is the time to take up Krsna consciousness. But they would say, “Prahlada, we are just young boys, we want to play and do many things.” And Prahlada would say very intelligently “Old simply means before you die, and noone knows when we’re going to die.”

So time is very important, to use whatever time we have left to pursue the real goal of life, and that is Krsna consciousness.

Here in this purport there’s also a very interesting point that I want to emphasise and that is the compassion of Vidura. Yesterday we heard from Madhudvisa Prabhu how Srila Prabhupada gave up all his comforts in Vrindavan. He was fully self-realized. (Jai Sri Sri Radha Madhava, asta-sakhi ki!) He was a maha-bhagavat, he had no personal concern for his own spiritual life. He was already situated in the spiritual world. But out of compassion, he left and came to preach.

There’s one interesting story, I’m not sure exactly where it happened. It was either in Boston or Los Angeles. Prabhupada was sitting in his room with some of his disciples. Some of them had been with Prabhupada in the Radha Damodara temple back in India. He said “Do you remember what it was like when I was back in my Radha Damodara temple? How nice it was, living in Vrindavana. Life was so simple then. I long to go back there.” But then he said, “But for me that would be sense gratification.” Because it’s something in terms of one’s personal desire. So he was reflecting just how wonderful it was to be in that mood, but his real mission was to show compassion to the fallen conditioned souls.

So Vidura is concerned. And he’s not only concerned, he’s preaching. And his brother is not accepting him, but still he’s concerned for the welfare of his elder brother. He’s so concerned he’s willing to undergo ridicule and criticism in order to preach, to give the mercy and be compassionate to the fallen conditioned souls.

The point here in this verse for all of us is that we also are expected to take up that mood of Vidura and Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada said “Do what I am doing.” Of course we can’t do what Prabhupada did. Prabhupada was unique in his devotion, compassion and spreading Krsna consciousness. But he wanted us to take up that same mood and show compassion to others. That is the standard for the operation of this ISKCON society, to come to the second-class platform. The second-class platform is to come to our loving relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, to make friends with other Vaisnavas, to show compassion and preach to the fallen conditioned souls, giving them the chance to take up the goal of life by coming to Krsna consciousness, and not to give association to atheistic and nondevotee demoniac classes. These are the qualities of those on the second-class platform and this is the platform that Srila Prabhupada wanted our movement to operate on.

I’ll read one purport from the Srimad Bhagavatam, 3.21.31. This is the Supreme Personality of Godhead speaking to Kardama Muni. Translation:

“Showing compassion to all living entities, you will attain self-realization. Giving assurance of safety to all, you will perceive your own self as well as all the universes in Me, and Myself in you.”

So it’s a very long purport, and part-way through the purport Prabhupada

“It is said that a person who goes to the temple of the Lord and worships with great devotion, but who does not show sympathy to people in general or show respect to other devotees, is considered to be a third-class devotee.

The second-class devotee is he who is merciful and compassionate to the fallen soul. The second-class devotee is always cognizant of his position as an eternal servant of the Lord; he therefore makes friendships with devotees of the Lord, acts compassionately toward the general public in teaching them devotional service, and refuses to cooperate or associate with nondevotees.”

And Prabhupada really puts it very clear here:

“As long as one is not compassionate to people in general in his devotional service to the Lord, he is a third-class devotee.”

So he wanted us to come to that second-class platform. To somehow or other be an instrument for spreading Krsna consciousness in whatever way we can.

So one has to understand one’s position and how best to be an instrument for others. That is the mood. It’s a mood of cultivating that mood of devotion, to somehow or other be concerned, to somehow use one’s devotional service as an opportunity to bring others. Prabhupada goes on, it’s a very long purport, and he talks about how one must award fearlessness to the conditioned soul. Just like we see here in this particular verse, Dhrtarastra is fearful, he’s taking shelter of whatever he can take shelter of. And Vidura is trying to say just give it all up, there’s no fear, take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Prabhupada goes on:

“The first-class devotee gives assurance to every living being that there is no fear of this material existence. To award fearlessness to the common man is the greatest act of charity.”

And Prabhupada talks about the duties of a sannyasi to preach, to travel to go from door to door, village to village, and country to country. But then Prabhupada goes on and speaks about the grhastha-asrama:

“A person who is a householder but is initiated by a sannyasi has the duty to spread Krsna consciousness at home; as far as possible, he should call his friends and neighbors to his house and hold classes in Krsna consciousness. Holding a class means chanting the holy name of Krsna and speaking from Bhagavad-gita or Srimad-Bhagavatam.”

And then Prabhupada goes on to explain how much literature we have, and that we should use this literature, to learn it and to preach Krsna consciousness.

This is the mood of a devotee of the Lord, to show compassion to others. If Srila Prabhupada didn’t show compassion to us then where would we be? There is that legacy, the legacy of Srila Prabhupada to become Krsna conscious and to give Krsna consciousness to others. That is the mood of a devotee of the Lord because he knows that in this material world there is no happiness.

There is no happiness in the material world. Sometimes we say that, but then again Prabhupada says that if there is some happiness then society, friendship and love–in other words, family life. But what is that happiness? That happiness is compared to one drop of water in the desert.

One great poet named Vidyapati, a contemporary of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he explained that this material happiness is like one drop of water in the desert. In the desert, if you’re thirsty, and someone comes along and gives you one drop of water, actually he’s your enemy because he’s just increasing your thirst. So any type of material happiness is at best really only intoxicates the living entity to think that there is a reservoir. But there’s no reservior. A drop here, a drop there, a drop here, and then what happens? You drop. And those drops can’t make you happy even while you’re receiving them. Therefore devotees understand yes, there’s nothing. We should understand there’s no happiness. The only goal in life is to become Krsna conscious and to give Krsna consciousness. . . therefore we have to align our priorites in our devotional service, we have to see what is important in our devotional life. We may have so many things, but what is the most important thing? Therefore it says:

yat karosi yad asnasi
yaj juhosi dadasi yat
yat tapasyasi kaunteya
tat kurusva mad-arpanam

Krsna explains in Bhagavad Gita that everything we do must somehow be done as an offering to Him, or take an extension of that principle, everything should support the goal of life. If it doesn’t support the goal of life, then anything we do is “srama eva hi kevalam,” a useless waste of time.

So as devotees we have to take an inventory, what is valuable and what is useless. And the most important thing, of course is time. How to use time in such a way that we make progress on the path of devotional service. Not wasting it and leaving one moment. The Visnu Purana, as quoted by Dravida Prabhu the other day in class, what is the greatest calamity, what is the greatest anomaly, what is the greatest catastrophe? To forget the Supreme Personality of Godhead for one moment. For one moment! It’s considered to be the greatest calamity. Just to forget the Lord for one second. I’m always thinking. . . maybe if I remember the Lord, that’s unique. So to somehow think of Krsna 24 hours a day means to be come fixed in our Krsna consciousness. Therefore whatever we do should support that, and how do we facilitate that remembrance? That was also brought out by Dravida in his class: by hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord.

Of course here in Sri Mayapur Dham we’re doing that, and the whole energy, the whole atmosphere here, the whole mood here should be, is, to somehow or other to absorb one’s time in hearing and chanting and serving the glories of the Lord in the association of devotees. But we have to go back to our respective places and preach in different parts of the world. So we take that mood of Sri Mayapur Dham, we take that mood of Sri Vrindavan Dham, back to our respective places, and then we keep that mood and distribute that mood. Then that mood is never lost. The devotee has to be in that mood all the time, to be eager to hear and chant the glories of the Lord, eager to engage in devotional service:

satam prasangan mama virya-samvido
bhavanti hrt-karna-rasayanah kathah

It’s explained in the Third Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam that hearing the nectarine pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, it’s sweet, it’s nectar to the ears, it charms the heart, it purifies the consciousness, it brings one to the spiritual platform. By hearing the glories of the Lord sufficiently, then what happens? We want to chant the glories of the Lord.

And then when we chant the glories of the Lord sufficiently then the process of remembrance becomes more and more fixed in one’s consciousness. That is Krsna consciousness, that is the process. And the remembrance develops and one actually has achieved the goal of Krsna consciousness, to always remember Krsna. So we have to absorb that, hearing, chanting and remembering, and then, at the end of life “ante narayanah smrtih” we remember Krsna and go back home, back to Godhead.

So that is the process of Krsna consciousness to hear and chant the glories of the Lord, to be an instrument for others to hear and chant the glories of the Lord, to use our devotional service in that mood, to preach be an instrument for Srila Prabhupada. And then when we come before Srila Prabhupada we can say “This is what I have done in your mission to spread Krsna consciousness.”

Prabhupada said there are two types of devotees, those who are concerned about themselves, and those who are concerned about others. We want to be concerned about all and that’s what it means to be Krsna conscious.

Vidura is in that mood, and he’s in that mood not only as a service, it’s coming from the heart, it’s a mood of compassion. And that mood of compassion develops as we develop in our mood of devotion to the Supreme Person. We actually develop concern. It is said that a devotee should feel happiness when others feel happiness and feel unhappy when others feel unhappy. The quality of a materialist is when someone’s feeling happy they feel unhappy, and vice versa. That is what is called enviousness.

Bhaktivinoda Thakur says that is envy. Envy means when you’re happy, I’m unhappy; when you’re unhappy, I’m happy. So if you feel like that then you can categorise that. Feel unhappy at others’ suffering. And therefore that moves one to try to do whatever we can.

It’s not that one has to take up a particular asrama, just adopt that mood of concern for others in our Krsna consciousness. Anyone can do that. That is Prabhupada’s instructions for everyone. That is the mood of Vidura here towards his brother. What makes him happy? When he sees that that person is actually becoming Krsna conscious. This is our happiness, when we see others become Krsna conscious. A devotee becomes happy, this is love. Love means when you’re becoming Krsna conscious, when you’re happy, then I’m happy.

That is real love. Not so much considering our own happiness. That comes by the mercy of the Lord, that will come and that will go accordingly. But our real happiness is to take up Krsna consciousness and become happy. That is what Vidura is trying to do here to save his fallen brother.

OK, so we’re getting towards 9 o’clock so I’ll stop here. We have time for any questions or comments, are there any questions or comments?
Gokularanjana Prabhu?

Question: If I just have to remember Krsna at the time of death, why can’t I just remember Him then? Why do I have to remember Him all the time?

Answer: The mind is a conditioned element therefore whatever we hold dear now, that will carry with us throughout our lives. So remembering Krsna means making Krsna the dearmost thing. So it will be very difficult and maybe even impossible to remember Krsna at the time of death if we’re not developing that attraction and attention for Krsna now. The mind is such a thing that whatever is dear to it, it will remember at the time of death. If we remember material things, our money, our wealth, or even our bodily situation, then at the time of death that mood will also be there. So life is actually a preparation for death. The goal of life is achieved at the time of death, not during life. During life we are preparing for the goal of life and that is to somehow or other remember Lord Krsna. So it will be very difficult to remember Krsna at the time of death if we don’t practice.

Yes, Mataji?

Question: (indistinct)

Answer: I’m reading from Prabhupada, I’ll read it again. This is from Srila Prabhupada’s purport to Srimad Bhagavatam: “The first-class devotee gives assurance to every living being that there is no fear of this material existence: ‘Let us live in Krsna consciousness and conquer the nescience of material existence.’”

So he awards that person fearlessness by saying come to Krsna consciousness.

There’s no fear. Prabhupada says fear means “two”: when you see something outside of Krsna then the quality of fear is. . . ? Krsna says that before the creation I existed, during the manifestation it is I who exist, and during the annihilation it is I who remains. So everything is Krsna and Krsna’s energy. But only a devotee can develop that realization. The nondevotee sees the material energy as cut off from the source and therefore he tries to enjoy the material energy and because he can’t, there is only the element of fear. So the devotee awards that person fearlessness by saying please take to Krsna consciousness and be free from the fear of this material existence, be free from death, which is the ultimate of all fears.

Question: (by Kuvalesaya Das, indistinct)

Answer: We should just use our time in the most wise way possible, and that is we should see that actually is very short and we don’t know how much time we have. So the point is we have to prioritise our life for those things which will facilitate our Krsna consciousness. We have to have priorities in our life, not simply go on aimlessly. We should have some directions, some understanding how we want to practice Krsna consciousness in such a way that ultimately I’ll become Krsna conscious. So many things may happen in between that, but we should be clear which direction we want to go in.

There are so many opportunities. . . Maya is always. . . “Haribol, Prabhu!

Do you remember me, Maya? I’m here. I’ve got a proposition for you. You’re a devotee, you’re OK, don’t worry about it, but you can give me a little time.

Don’t worry, you can still chant Hare Krsna but you can give me some time.

I’m not so bad. I’m Maya, I’m a pure devotee too. You can give a little time to Maya.” Then she says “Ow, that wasn’t so bad, was it? You can give me a little more time.” And then vooop, that’s maya.

If you’re not a devotee, maya is just head-on, she just hits them because they’ve taken shelter of maya. But the devotee knows what her idea is so she’s subtle. She uses more subtle means to somehow or other attract our mind away from our devotion. So we have to able to able to understand that clearly. That comes by studying the scripture, associating with the devotees, by hearing. . . and most important by carefully chanting our rounds every day. That is basically the way to understand how to execute our devotional service nicely. If we have very attentive, as best as we can, practice japa. These are things we do every day, but to put quality in them allows us to see clearly how to execute our devotional service in our other areas. And of course, we can always get advice from senior devotees and friends. Again, back to the point, make your priorites, otherwise maya will give you priorities.

Any other questions?

Question: Once Gaur Govinda Swami was telling his pupils about kanistha-adhikari, madhyama-adhikari and uttama-adhikari. One pupil asked him “Maharaja, are you on uttama-adhikari?” “No, no, even not kanistha.”
Comment, please.

Answer: Ah, Vaisnava humility. The more one become advanced in Krsna consciousness the more one feels himself more and more unqualified, because they realise how great Krsna is and how insignificant they are. So we read the prayer of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur. He’s writing, he sounds like a gross materialist. What is that song? Sada pape rata? He says I’m so sinful.
… .

Subhag Swami: “Amara jivan sada pape rata. . . .

… . . nahiko punyera lesa”. I’m so sinful, I’m the lowest! And then he goes on that when others are unhappy I’m happy, and when others are happy I’m unhappy. He’s not just making some literary expression for some name and fame, to sound good. He’s actually feeling like that. So that is quality of those Vaisnavas who are on the highest platform. Their natural humility allows them to understand just how great Krsna is.

Hare Krsna. OK, thank you very much. Srila Prabhupada ki jai!


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