Notes transcribed from a lecture given December 21, 1966.
Lord Krishna says, Although I am equal to everyone and no one is My enemy or My special friend, and there is no particular favor for anyone, still and "still" here indicates that there is a special case for anyone who is engaged in My service, so I am engaged in his service. In the Gita, God states that He also becomes a devotee to us. Love is not one-sided; it is reciprocal. Although God is great, He takes part in our lives. It is clearly stated in the Gita that He takes pleasure in serving the devotee.
Someone may say, If a devotee is engaged in the service of the Lord, but his behavior isn't up to standard, what happens to him? Of course, a devotee is in the process of developing the 26 saintly qualities but the one all-important qualification is that he be a devotee. If he lacks other qualifications but is unflinching in devotion, if his conduct is not good but still he does not divert his attention to demigods and others, fixing it only on Krishna then the Lord says that he is to be reckoned as sadhu in view of his Krishna consciousness. Sadhu means honest, religious and pious. If I have a bad character but think Krishna consciousness is the right course of action and I take to it, then, even if I can't lose my bad habits, I am considered honest, pious and religious according to Krishna. One may now say, Although one may call him a sadhu, he's not a hundred percent so. But Krishna says, Yes, he is a hundred percent sadhu, regardless of whatever else he may be, if he is devoted to Me.
We must not cling too tightly to the rules and regulations of Vedic culture. All people should be given a chance to develop Krishna Consciousness. Rupa Goswami, a great Acharya, said, "The first business is to see that, somehow or other, people become Krishna conscious. As far as rules are concerned, if one takes to this line, then regulations will follow, just as the servant follows his master." The Lord says that, because one has taken to Krishna Consciousness, he will very soon become a pious man. If you take to Krishna Consciousness very sincerely chanting, and with rules and regulations you will very soon become a pious man. If you want to sit on the high court bench, you have to have many credentials, along with the proper background and training; but with Krishna Consciousness, if you'll just sit on the bench, all education will follow. You will relish Krishna Consciousness so much that you will readily give up all nonsense.
The whole world is chasing after sense gratification, but the man in Krishna Consciousness will very quickly give it up. You don't have to train yourself to stop sense gratification. Just chant and hear you will enjoy this so much that you will automatically give up what is not conducive to spiritual life. Chant Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. In this fashion, a man will easily attain to perfect, eternal blissful life.
"My dear Arjuna," the Lord says, "Declare it boldly to the world, that My devotee never perishes." Why doesn't He Himself tell it? Krishna has promised that He will protect His devotee. God can violate His own promise, but He will protect the devotee who will spread His word. At the battle of Kurukshetra, Krishna was on one side with Arjuna, while His soldiers were on the other side. He declared, "I shall join Arjuna, but I shall not fight. I shall simply take some work: I shall drive Arjuna's chariot." But in the fight, when Arjuna was hard-pressed by Bhisma, the Lord broke His word. Bhisma had been accused by his comrades of not fighting hard enough because he had so many dear relatives in Arjuna's camp. And so he promised that he would kill all five enemy leaders the Pandava brothers on the next day of battle. For this purpose he had five special arrows which Duryodhana kept. Now, Krishna sent Arjuna to Duryodhana who was king of the opposing forces after that day's battle. Arjuna went to the king's camp and was received. He now asked Duryodhana to fulfill the promises of a boon he had made, and Duryodhana agreed to do whatever Arjuna asked. Arjuna asked for the five arrows, which were promptly handed over to him.
Aware of Krishna's hand in this, Bhisma resolved to kill His devotee or else force Him to break His promise and fight. On the battlefield the next day Bhisma fought Arjuna so fiercely that Krishna had to grab the wheel of the their shattered chariot and run up to him, demanding that he stop. "It were better I break My promise," said the Lord, "than that you kill Arjuna."
So the Lord said, "You are My devotee…You tell them that anyone who takes to Krishna Consciousness will never be destroyed." What is destruction? When we lose our spiritual consciousness, we lose our identity. As a spiritual being you have eternal bliss and all knowledge, but here you are in a wretched condition, already destroyed without bliss, eternity or full knowledge. Unless you revive your spiritual awareness, you are destroyed by illusory energy. But whosoever takes to this process will never return to this material world of sense gratification and misery. Soon or later he will be taken up by the Lord, according to how he approaches Krishna Consciousness.
Material existence is ignorance of the spiritual world. We are being kicked around like footballs from body to body in one birth American, then Indian, then Chinese, etc. This process of Krishna Consciousness is the only way to attain full spiritual life. Eternity, bliss and knowledge are awaiting us. Why should we refuse them? Nor is this a mere theory. Don't think that Bhagavad Gita is imaginary people have taken it for thousands of years; in its written form it is 5,000 years old and, before that, it was taught to the sun-god millions of years ago. The Gita is followed by all great acharyas.
Take to this process and you will be saved from the material world. If you are thrown in the ocean, it is practically your destruction even if you swim well. To struggle here in the material world is also your destruction. Get out of the ocean. Krishna promises that He will take you from the ocean of birth and death. Save yourself from destruction.
Now, someone may ask, "Is there any qualification? Krishna appeared to be Hindu, and the acharyas are very learned; how can one take to Krishna Consciousness if he is not learned or belonging to a particular creed? But Krishna says that even women (who are generally considered to have small endowment for spiritual advancement), sudras and vaishyas (the lower classes) and even lower can come too. Lord Krishna surpasses all formalities of social structure. All can come. There is no bar to spiritual consciousness. If you simply take to Krishna Consciousness, the Lord is there, and He will give you all protection. One in Krishna Consciousness is already liberated. This is its beauty. Never mind what you are. Take to it. You will reach the perfection of life. Your progress is guaranteed. Just take to this process.