Devotional Thoughts

Bhakti is the only way to attain the Lord

Bhakti is the only way to attain the Lord

Lecture by Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa on October 28, 2014

Srimad Bhagavatam – 3.12.15-19

ity adistah sva-guruna
bhagavan nila-lohitah
sasarjatma-samah prajah


The most powerful Rudra, whose bodily color was blue mixed with red, created many offspring exactly resembling him in features, strength and furious nature.


rudranam rudra-srstanam
samantad grasatam Jagat
nisamyasankhyaso yuthan
prajapatir asankata


The sons and grandsons generated by Rudra were unlimited in number, and when they assembled together they attempted to devour the entire universe. When Brahma, the father of the living entities, saw this, he became afraid of the situation.


alam prajabhih srstabhir
idrsibhih surottama
maya saha dahantibhir
disas caksurbhir ulbanaih


Brahma told Rudra: O best among the demigods, there is no need for you to generate living entities of this nature. They have begun to devastate everything on all sides with the fiery flames from their eyes, and they have even attacked me.


tapa atistha bhadram te
tapasaiva yatha purvam
srasta visvam idam bhavan


My dear son, you had better situate yourself in penance, which is auspicious for all living entities and which will bring all benediction upon you. By penance only shall you be able to create the universe as it was before.


tapasaiva param jyotir
bhagavantam adhoksajam
anjasa vindate puman


By penance only can one even approach the Personality of Godhead, who is within the heart of every living entity and at the same time beyond the reach of all senses.


The progeny created by Rudra became a threat to Brahma himself and he asked Rudra to stop the creation of prototypes of his kind and do tapasya.  Prabhupada says that therefore we find in pictures that Rudra is always sitting in meditation for the attainment of the favour of the Lord.  From the Srimad Bhagavatam, we understand the position of each of these demigods; their power is borrowed from the Supreme Lord.

Brahma, Shiva – are all created personalities in this material world. Therefore we understand the significance of the statement that it is offensive to put on equal footing the demigods and the Supreme Lord Vishnu.  He is the original govindam adi purusam, from whom advaitam acyutam anadim ananta-rupam – unlimited selves are emanating as Balaram, as Chaturvyuha and from Maha Vishnu billions of Brahmandas.  In each Brahmanda there is Garbhodakasayi Vishnu creating this Brahma.  And this Brahma is creating Shiva.  When one understands the real picture of the Bhagavatam, one will not equate Krishna’s position in any way with the devatas in this material world. Normally in our Hindu society all these understandings have been lost especially so because the impersonalists have made a philosophy that by becoming devoted to any one of them you will attain Brahman.  So they call these deities as ishta devata. 

Prabhupada explains why Shiva is always sitting in meditation. It is on the instruction of his guru. There must be a God whom Shiva is meditating upon. We have respect for Shiva because we have to respect all the servants of the Lord.  Our obligation to worship all the devatas is fulfilled by worshiping the spiritual master who is a pure devotee. By his mercy we are able to get the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna without any offence of equating. 

Therefore whenever we preach Krishna consciousness, especially in this country we need to make people understand this difference.  Everybody is same – yato mat tato pat – whatever path you take is right. So we have to make people free from this illusion and make them understand that our Krishna conscious philosophy is actually monotheistic, there is only one God. All over the world people think Hinduism, Sanatana dharma means pantheistic, means so many Gods.  But the essence of it you can get only from a pure devotee.  What should be presented is the goal of Sanatana Dharma. In fact the word Hinduism is not there in the scriptures.   

Brahma can give out power but he cannot control power. Brahma gave a boon to Hiranyakashipu but he could not control Hiranyakashipu. Vishnu had to come to control.  It is not that simply we have chosen Vishnu, so we are Vaishnavas; you have chosen Shiva so you are Shaivites.  It is not a question of choice, it is a question of truth, what is the tattva?  Who is the topmost in the material universe? It is Vishnu and therefore Rudra is asked to do tapas on Vishnu. And tapas is the principle for attracting the Supreme Personality of Godhead at least in the beginning because ultimately the Supreme Lord is attracted by bhakti, but to give up material enjoyment; penance and austerity is required. 

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Regulative principles of devotional service are all austerities. In the beginning it has to be performed out of regulation.  Tapasya and austerity for a devotee is temporary because once he is awakened there is no need for it, as tapasya is always connected to body, mind. For the soul there is no tapasya.  Tapasya means to voluntarily accept inconvenience, tolerating pain, accepting something unpalatable for our senses.  Our body-mind tendency is to eat, so when you fast you are going against the urge of the mind and the body, then that is called tapasya. 

Therefore even though bhakti is our line, we have to have respect for tapasya.  Simple tapasya Prabhupada has given us – four regulative principles, tapasya of fasting on Ekadashi, by not taking grains.  Ekadashi prasadam in our temples is much richer than other days, and devotees eat more.  So spiritual principle is followed, no doubt, no grains but are we pure? We have to have restrictions, it is an opportunity given to us once in fifteen days. And also one has to understand that these tapasyas have immediate effect in wiping out papa karmas in the process of devotional service even though our positive part is devotional service by chanting the Hare Krishna maha mantra, all the papa karmas get burnt out. 

So therefore at our level all these austerities have to be respected, at least whatever Prabhupada has given, understand the principle of austerity, brahmacharya principle for the mind and body.  Just because you are a brahmachari you don’t go back to Godhead. These are all secondary principles that support the main principle, which is intense engagement in devotional service. Sense control and all other things will automatically follow.  Prabhupada has given us a full package. As sadhakas we should meticulously follow all those things.

(The above transcripts have been edited for better readability. However they have not been verified and confirmed by the original speaker.)

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