Confusing Statements by Krishna
In Gita 14.26, Krishna says that unalloyed service leads to brahmabhuta platform. And in Gita 18.54 suggests brahma-bhuta leads to devotional service. Which is correct ?
– Anonymous, by email
Our reply: Gita 14.26 talks of auyabhicarine bhakti, or undeviating devotional service, only to the Supreme Lord and no one else. When one serves the all-pure Supreme Lord who is beyond the modes (Gita 7.13) and is the master of the modes (Gita 7.14) without deviation, such a person is purified due to prolonged contact with the all-pure. Such a living entity loses his conditioning & becomes situated beyond the influence of the modes. This is not a new concept. This was already confirmed in Gita 7.14 where it is mentioned that although the material energy, comprising of the three modes, is very difficult to overcome, those who surrender to Krishna can easily cross beyond it.
Gita 8.54 talks of what happens when you reach such a stage beyond the modes. Ordinary gyanies who aren’t aware of higher spiritual truth of devotional, loving engagement stop at this state and feel that that they have reached the summit of spiritual realization. Devotees perceive the brahma-bhuta state in a different way. Free from bodily identification, now they are free from lamentation about the past (Socati ) and hankering about the future (kanksati ). Now they see everyone equally (samah sarveshu bhuteshu). True devotees take such freedom from three modes as an incentive to increase their devotional service to the Supreme Lord, now free from all encumbrances caused by the effect of the modes. For example, someone bound by ropes and trying to engage in some activity. If the ropes are removed, he will be enthused and overjoyed to now perform that activity without any hindrance.
The real question is not just of crossing the modes but what one does when one crosses the modes. During a journey that involves crossing a river, there is some importance to crossing a river but it is still more important to check what one does after crossing the river.
The particular word used in Gita 18.54 is labhate (translated as “gains” by Srila Prabhupada ) rather than generates or creates. Thus, the idea is that such a devotee already had bhakti before he got free from the modes. But now, the bhakti is clearly visible & differentiated from other things. Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura gives an example of a basket in which some tree leaves were kept mixed with gold nuggets and pearls. When the leaves are taken out, just the gold & pearls remains in the basket. Thus, the bhakti that was present and available along with some other inclinations in the heart wasn’t clearly visible (e.g. the Paramatma is present in everyone’s heart but is not clearly visible to all) before the brahma bhuta platform but now after attaining the brahma-bhuta platform, it stands alone in glory.
Another example will help. A small child sometimes wants to imitate his father shaving his beard. He too puts on foam on his face & imitates his father. Externally, everything is the same but the difference is that there is no hair on the child’s face. Later when the child grows up, he will shave in the same way but this time there will be real hair available for shaving. Thus, Bhakti if it is not undeviated is sadhana bhakti where it’s more or less a practice – not really impelled by emotions viz. love in heart. Later, by undeviating bhakti when we get free from the modes then the quality of our bhakti changes from practice stage to pure stage where it is impelled by true love for Krishna in the heart.
In essence, Gita 14.26 and Gita 18.54 are but different stages on the path of bhakti, one preceding the other. Krishna mentions both to help us understand the process and its workings with more clarity.
One-on-One Spiritual Master
I am a devotee starting off with ISKCON and would like to know from an experienced devotee of Sri Krishna how to obtain a special oneon- one Hare Krishna master, since His Divine A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has passed on.
Our reply: When beginning Krishna consciousness within ISKCON, it is best to develop a relationship with Srila Prabhupada. Although he is not physically present, he is available in his teachings, books, recorded classes, videos, etc. He is also present in his temples and through his devotees.
Try to get as much association as possible via websites such as Krishna.com and ISKCONdesiretree.com, as well as by going to a temple when possible. Ask questions and listen to classes and discussions. Begin to practice Krishna consciousness according to Srila Prabhupada’s instructions by chanting daily on beads, eating only food offered to Krishna , and following the four regulations: no meat-eating, no illicit sexual connection, no gambling, and no intoxication. By reading, hearing, associating, and following his instructions, you will develop a relationship with Srila Prabhupada.
Once that is clear and strong, then you can consider who you will have as a personal master. There are many qualified devotees who can assist in this way. You can begin by hearing their classes on ISKCONdesiretree.com and whenever possible meeting them in person. Eventually you will find someone whose words and example enliven you and strengthen you in your spiritual practices. It is best to be patient and take time to carefully search for this person.