WHEN THE SAGE Vyasadeva, after compiling the Vedas, felt despondent, his spiritual master, Narada, told him that the cause of this despondency was that Vyasadeva had not fully glorified Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Vyasadeva therefore meditated on Krsna in mature deliberation, on the bank of the River Sarasvati. There Vyasadeva attained a full vision of Krsna and His internal energies Goloka Vrndavana, Srimati Radharani, and all of Krsna's associates. He saw as well the material energy deluding the souls trapped in the material world.
In Vyasadeva's vision, the material energy stood behind Krsna and was under Krsna's control. While witnessing the suffering of the conditioned souls, Vyasadeva realized that their suffering could be alleviated by the practice of bhakti-yoga.
We have heard of many people who have had visions of God, but Vyasadeva's vision was so precise and full that he was able to undertake the work of compiling the eighteen thousand verses that became the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
Why had Narada advised Vyasadeva to meditate on Krsna? It is because Krsna's activities are unparalleled. In a purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam (2.9.45), Srila Prabhupada writes, "Impersonal Brahman has no activities, but the Personality of Godhead has many activities, and all such activities are transcendental, without any tinge of material quality. If the activities of the Supreme Brahman [the Supreme Absolute] were material activities, then Narada would not have advised Vyasadeva to meditate upon them. And the param brahma [Supreme Brahman] is Lord Sri Krsna, as confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita."
When speaking about Vyasadeva's meditation on Krsna, Srila Prabhupada assures us that we should also meditate on Krsna. And the most recommended way to meditate on Him is as He appears in the pages ofSrimad-Bhagavatam.
Srila Prabhupada presented the Bhagavatam with his Bhaktivedanta purports and asked that it be translated and distributed worldwide. Yet sometimes he noticed that his disciples were not taking the time to read it. He said, therefore, that his books were not just for selling; they were there to be read by the devotees. If we don't eat, our bodies will die. And if we don't read Prabhupada's books we will die in spirit. TheBhagavatam is meant to nourish us.
Readers of the Bhagavatam often question the relationship between their work and the spiritual practices of chanting and hearing. Prabhupada told us we should work and think of Krsna at the same time. Remembering what we have read in the Bhagavatam provides a foremost way to practice Krsna meditation.
We have other duties. We cannot read and chant all day long. But we shouldn't give up our meditation on Krsna while we perform those duties. In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna tells Arjuna to fight on the battlefield and think of Him. "The most confidential part of knowledge," Srila Prabhupada writes (Bg. 18.65), "is that one should become a pure devotee of Krsna and always think of Him and act for Him. One should not become an official meditator. Life should be so molded that one will always have the chance to think of Krsna. One should always act in such a way that all his daily activities are in connection with Krsna. One should arrange his life in such a way that throughout the twenty-four hours he cannot but think of Krsna."
Krsna recommends, "In all activities just depend upon Me and work always under My protection. In such devotional service, be fully conscious of Me." The ideal form of work is to remember Krsna in all our activities.
But what if the work we do demands our attention? Is it enough simply to think we are working on Krsna's behalf? Does this constitute "meditation on Krsna"?
In a purport to Bhagavad-gita (18.57), Srila Prabhupada gives us a phrase to think of while we work: "I have been appointed to discharge this particular duty by Krsna." While thinking and acting in this way, Srila Prabhupada says, one naturally has to think of Krsna, and this is perfect Krsna consciousness.
If we're not advanced enough for Krsna's pastimes to appear spontaneously in our minds, we can remember this phrase Srila Prabhupada gives and apply it as our meditation as we work. Then we don't have to worry that we are not big meditators. If we take shelter of the Krsna consciousness movement, we can be meditating this way day and night.
We can know we are working on Krsna's behalf when we take Krsna's order directly from the Gita and when we accept the direction of the bona fide spiritual master. This is an open secret. Even such apparently simple work as sweeping the floor or washing the pots can be accepted as bhakti if performed in the proper consciousness.
When we engage in any service, we can remember our purpose and then remember Krsna and His activities. And we can chant constantly: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
The original source of meditation on Krsna is the Srimad-Bhagavatam. The Srimad-Bhagavatam is special. It describes not ordinary religiosity but pure devotional service. By our study of Srimad-Bhagavatam,the Lord appears in our hearts. When Suta Gosvami was asked by the sages at Naimisaranya where religious principles could be found after Lord Krsna's disappearance, he responded: "This Bhagavata Purana[Srimad-Bhagavatam] is as brilliant as the sun, and it has arisen just after the departure of Lord Krsna to His own abode, accompanied by religion, knowledge, etc. Persons who have lost their vision due to the dense darkness of ignorance in the Age of Kali shall get light from this Purana." Thus the Srimad-Bhagavatam is Krsna in literary form.
By studying the Bhagavatam and then remembering it in our day-to-day work, we can attain samadhi,the height of meditation. Prabhupada writes in one purport that distributing Krsna conscious books is realsamadhi. Samadhi does not mean just sitting in yogic trance; it means absorbing your body, mind, and words in Krsna's service. Any service can be a vehicle for that samadhi if one's mind is focused on Krsna.
Even if we have to work in the material world, we can stay focused on Krsna. When I first met Prabhupada, I worked at a welfare office. Because I was around nondevotees all the time, I developed a habit of chanting silently to myself. One morning before going to the office, I asked Prabhupada, "If one of my fellow workers is talking nonsense, I chant in my mind. Is that all right?" He replied, "Not only are they sometimes talking nonsense, but even the greatest philosophers of this world are always talking nonsense. Yes, you can do this chanting in your mind."
There is the example of Mukunda Dasa, a doctor once sent to diagnose the Nawab of Bengal. The Nawab had several servants fanning him with peacock fans. When Mukunda Dasa saw the fans he at once thought of Krsna, went into ecstatic trance, and fell off the high platform on which he was sitting. The Nawab ran to him and asked, "Are you all right? What happened?" Mukunda Dasa recovered his composure, hid his ecstasy, and replied, "I'm all right. I have a disease similar to epilepsy."
Meditation on Krsna is open to all of us at all times. It is simply a matter of turning our minds in His direction. The externals of our situation don't matter. Chant and hear from the Bhagavatam, associate with devotees, and always think of Krsna. That will be the perfection of meditation and the success of your life.
Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami travels extensively to speak and write about Krsna consciousness. He is the author of more than two dozen books, including a six-volume biography of Srila Prabhupada.