Lord Krsna comes in many ways to draw us back to Him.

A lecture given in Los Angeles on October 1, 1972,

avatara hy asankhyeya / hareh sattva-nidher dvijah
yathavidasinah kulyah / sarasah syuh sahasrasah

"O brahmanas, the incarnations of the Lord are innumerable, like rivulets flowing from inexhaustible sources of water." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.26)

Krishna Avataras

THERE IS NO LIMIT TO the incarnations of God, just as there is no limit to the waves in the ocean. Sattva-nidheh. Nidhi means "ocean," and sattva means "existential." Sattva also means "goodness." Here in the material world there are three modes of nature: goodness, passion, and ignorance. But real goodness is in the spiritual world.

In the material world goodness is, of course, taken as the highest quality, but such goodness is liable to be infected by the other two qualities: passion and ignorance. It is exposed. And here goodness is also the cause of bondage. As passion and ignorance are causes of bondage, material goodness is also a cause of bondage.

So we have to transcend material goodness also. Then, when we get stability of goodness, that is spiritual life. Goodness disturbed by passion and ignorance is not yet perfect. Therefore, sometimes we find that one of our students is doing everything nicely in goodness but he is attacked by passion and ignorance and he becomes entangled.

Real goodness without being attacked by passion and ignorance is in God. Hareh sattva-nidheh. The spiritual platform is called sattvam visuddham, goodness unaffected by other qualities. 'Visuddham means "completely pure, no adulteration." As long as we are on the material platform, goodness isliable to be adulterated, just as the milk we purchase from the market is adulterated. Although there are so many laws by the government "You cannot adulterate" people have the propensity to adulterate. So you cannot get pure things. The whole atmosphere is so polluted.

Therefore here so-called goodness is also a cause of bondage. One has the tendency to think, "Now I have become a Vaisnava, a devotee. I have become learned." But God is so clever that He says, "If you are so good, now you fight with passion and ignorance." And the person fails. He falls victim to passion and ignorance.

Only by pure devotional service can you stay in pure goodness. Otherwise goodness will be adulterated.

What is that pure devotional service? Anyabhilasita-sunyam. Pure devotional service means one has no material desires. Material desires adulterate goodness. For example, if you are a brahmacari in goodness but you are always thinking of women and sex, that is an adulteration of your goodness. Such a person is described in the Bhagavad-gita as a cheater.

Therefore we have to think of Krsna always. Otherwise, as soon as there is a little loophole, maya will enter and adulterate our goodness. Lord Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita (14.26):

mam ca yo 'vyabhicarena
bhakti-yogena sevate
sa gunan samatityaitan
brahma-bhuyaya kalpate

Anyone engaged in devotional service without any adulteration can surpass the three qualities of the material world. At that time he becomes completely spiritualized.

Spiritual sparks

Every one of us is a spirit soul, part and parcel of God, but we are now covered by the material qualities. We are separated from God because due to envy we want to imitate God.

"Oh, God is the enjoyer? Why can't I become an enjoyer?"

"Yes," God says. "You become an enjoyer."

Then we fall into the material world.

We may compare God to a fire and the spirit souls to sparks of that fire. If a spark leaves the fire and falls on dry grass, a fire will start. If a spark falls on green vegetation, there will be some heat; the spark will not be extinguished at once. But if a spark falls into water, it will be extinguished immediately.

When a spirit soul who has fallen contacts the mode of goodness, that is like a spark falling on dry grass. A person in the mode of goodness is almost on the spiritual platform. The mode of goodness includes the brahminical qualifications: truthfulness, simplicity, full knowledge, control of the senses, control of the mind, practical application of knowledge in life, and complete faith in God.

The mode of passion can be seen in strong desire to enjoy the material world. Generally kings and politicians are very passionate to encroach upon others' property or other nations.

And the mode of ignorance "All right, let me eat something and sleep." That's all. That is ignorance. A person influenced by the mode of ignorance is satisfied to get a good opportunity for sleeping.

One has to transcend the three qualities of the material world. And anyone can do that. Krsna does not say that only the person in goodness, who has the brahminical qualities, can be engaged in devotional service. If you engage in devotional service, you at once transcend the three qualities. You become more than a brahmana you become a Vaisnava. A Vaisnava is transcendental even to the brahminical qualities.

But if you do not maintain even the brahminical qualities, then how are you Vaisnava? To become a Vaisnava is not so easy. But Lord Caitanya has made it easy, provided you stick to the regulative principles. Simply chant Hare Krsna regularly. The chanting of Hare Krsna is the special facility for the people in this age. By chanting you can remain steady in the transcendental position. Ceto-darpana marjanam bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam. As soon as you stay on the platform of offenseless chanting you become transcendental to the material qualities.

Very simple. You don't have to study Vedanta. The Vedanta, or the conclusions of Vedic philosophy, will be revealed to you:

yasya deve para bhaktir
yatha deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hy arthah
prakasante mahatmanah

The Vedanta philosophy will be revealed automatically. You haven't got to study. All the Vedanta knowledge will be revealed within you, provided you have unflinching faith in God and the spiritual master.

The Mercy of Krsna and Guru

In the Caitanya-caritamrta it is said that you can make advancement in spiritual life by the mercy of Krsna and guru. Don't bypass the guru and try to get Krsna's mercy immediately. That will not work. You have to go through the proper channel. It is wrong to think, "I shall make spiritual advancement without a guru." Even if you want to see a big man you have to go through his servant. You have to take permission. The servant may say to the big man, "Sir, so-and-so wants to see you. He appears to be a good man." "Oh?" the master says. "He is a good man? All right, bring him." The recommendation of the servant is required.

Therefore we sing daily, yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadah: by the mercy of the guru we get the mercy of God. Yasyaprasadan na gatih kuto 'pi: if the guru is not satisfied, the disciple makes no advancement.

In today's verse it is said, "There are many incarnations." The guru is also an incarnation of God the mercy incarnation of God. God is within you as caitya-guru, the guru within your heart. Isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese 'rjuna tisthati. Krsna says that he is seated in everyone's heart as the Supersoul, or Paramatma. So Paramatma is an incarnation of God. And when, being very merciful upon you, Paramatma comes before you to teach you from outside, that is the guru. Therefore it is said, saksad-dharitvena samasta-sastraih. The guru is the mercy incarnation of God. Saksat means "direct." Hari-tvena means the guru is Hari, God. Samasta-sastraih means "all the scriptures." It is not that somewhere it is stated that the guru is an incarnation of God and somewhere it is not stated. No. It is stated in all Vedic literature.

Then it is said, uktas tatha bhavyata eva sadbhih. Uktah means "it is said." Sadbhih means "devotees. "Those who are real devotees accept this. "Yes, the guru is exactly a representative of Krsna, a representative of Krsna's mercy."

The disciple must respect the guru as God, but the guru should not say, "Now I have become God." If he says that, then he is immediately fallen. He cannot say, "I am an incarnation of God, so you simply worship me."

Mayavadi, or impersonalistic, gurus say, "There is no difference between God and me." But a real guru says, "I am a servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of God." Gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa- dasanudasah. Though given the honor of God, the real guru never declares that He is God. He always says, "I am the most fallen servant of God."

Countless incarnations

So as there are incessant waves on the ocean, countless incarnations of God are also coming. Why not? There are innumerable universes, not one universe. We have studied in the Brahma-samhita: yasyaika-nisvasita-kalam athavalambya jivanti loma-vilaja jagad-anda-nathah. Jagad-anda means "universe." In each universe there is a natha, or controller Lord Brahma. So just imagine. By the inhaling and exhaling of Maha-Visnu in the Causal Ocean, so many universes are coming out. And in every universe there are so many planets. So just imagine how many incarnations are required to enlighten the people in every universe.

We are all sons of God, and we are trying to forget Him. But God cannot forget us, because we are His sons. God is trying to reclaim us. Krsna Himself is coming to canvass: "Why are you rotting here? Why don't you come? Just surrender and be happy."

"No. I shall work here." From Brahma down to the hog, everyone in the material world is trying to be happy by working. They will not surrender to Krsna. But Krsna wants them to go back home, back to Godhead. Therefore He says in the Gita(18.66),

sarva-dharman parityajya
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah

"You have committed so many sinful activities during your material existence. There is no limit. But if you surrender unto Me, I immediately make you immune from all reactions to your sinful life. Immediately."

Mercy for Jagai and Madhai

Krsna simply wants us to give up our sinful activities and surrender to Him. This is shown by the story of Lord Caitanya's deliverance of Jagai and Madhai. These brothers were very sinful. They were engaging in illicit sex, intoxication, meat-eating, and gambling. They had been born in a nice brahmana family, but by bad association they became drunkards, gamblers, meat-eaters, and prostitute hunters. They were simply, creating disturbances.

Such people will always create disturbances. The whole world is now disturbed. Why? Because it is full of these sinful men: drunkards, gamblers, meat-eaters, and woman hunters. And people expect peace. Nonsense. Where is peace? First of all educate people to become sinless. Then talk of peace. Otherwise, there cannot be peace.

So these two brothers were creating a disturbance in the street, and a crowd had gathered. Lord Nityananda and Haridasa Thakura, close associates of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, were out for preaching. Lord Nityananda saw the crowd and inquired, "What is this crowd?"

Someone replied, "There are two most sinful brothers, and they are creating a disturbance. So there is a crowd."

Nityananda Prabhu said to Haridasa Thakura, "Why not deliver these two brothers? Then it will be a great credit for Caitanya Mahaprabhu."

That is the mood of a preacher. He wants the credit to go to his master, not himself, even if he risks his life.

When Lord Nityananda approached Jagai and Madhai to ask them to chant Hare Krsna, one of the brothers hit him in the head with a stone, and blood came out.

Lord Nityananda said, "All right. You have hurt Me. Blood is oozing out. That doesn't matter. Chant Hare Krsna."

Lord Nityananda is showing us how we must preach. It is not that we only stay safely somewhere and chant Hare Krsna. No. We have to go out and meet the Jagais and Madhais. That is Caitanya Mahaprabhu's mission, because the world is full of Jagais and Madhais.

When Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu heard that one of the brothers had injured Nityananda Prabhu, He became angry like fire. If a devotee sees Visnu or a Vaisnava insulted, he should be firelike. Lord Caitanya taught, trnad api sunicena: a devotee should be as humble as straw in the street. But when a devotee sees the Lord or the Lord's devotee insulted, the devotee should not be like a straw he should be like fire. Caitanya Mahaprabhu showed this by example. He became very very angry "I shall kill these two brothers immediately!"

But Nityananda Prabhu entreated, "Oh, My dear sir, in this incarnation You have promised not to accept any weapon. In Your incarnation as Lord Ramacandra You took up weapons. As Krsna also You took up weapons. But this time You wanted to deliver these poor souls. So don't kill them. Excuse them. Accept them."

Nityananda Prabhu is the original guru, and He was showing that the guru's business is to be very merciful.

Jagai and Madhai fell at Lord Caitanya's feet and said, "We are so sinful. We have done wrong. Kindly excuse us."

Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu made one condition: "Your life is full of sinful activities. So if you simply promise, "I shall not sin anymore,' then I can accept you."

Jagai and Madhai said. "Sir, we'll not do these sinful things anymore."

That vow is required. When you are initiated, you promise: "No illicit sex, no intoxication, no meat-eating, no gambling." But if you privately do these things, then what kind of person are you? Don't be a cheater. When you promise not to do these things, don't do them again. Then you will remain in goodness. Nobody can disturb you. And if you pollute yourself silently, then goodness will go away.

This is the warning. Once you are initiated on the promise that you shall not do these nonsense things, then you remain perfectly in goodness. Mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti. Maya cannot do anything. But if you cheat yourself, cheat your spiritual master, cheat God, then you will be cheated by maya.

Thank you very much.