Pure love for God is its own reward.
A lecture given in New York City, November 30, 1966
daridrya-nasa, bhava-ksaya, premera 'phala' naya
prema-sukha-bhoga mukhya prayojana haya
"The goal of love of Godhead is not to become materially rich or free from material bondage. The real goal is to be situated in devotional service to the Lord and to enjoy transcendental bliss." (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 20.142)
WE SHOULD NOT EXPECT that by our devotional service to Krsna our miserable material condition will improve, or that we will be liberated from material entanglement. Thinking in that way is a kind of sense gratification. Yogis and jnanis, or impersonalistic speculators, try to become free from material entanglement. But in devotional service there is no such desire, because devotional service is pure love. In pure devotional service one has no expectation that "I shall be profited in this way." Devotional service is not a profitable commercial business where one thinks, "Unless I get something in return, I shall not practice devotional service in Krsna consciousness."
Lord Caitanya prays to Lord Krsna:
na dhanam na janam na sundarim
kavitam va jagad-isa kamaye
mama janmani janmanisvare
bhavatad bhaktir ahaituki tvayi
"O my dear Lord, Jagadisa, supreme master of all the worlds, I pray unto You that I do not want any wealth, I do not want any number of followers, I do not want a very nice wife."
"Then what do you want?"
"My dear Lord, I may be put into any condition of life, but please bestow this benediction: that I may not forget You. That's all. Due to my forgetfulness I am suffering so much. So if I can remember You, I don't mind any condition."
Janmani janmani means "birth after birth." Lord Caitanya does not even want liberation. Lord Krsna says, mam upetya tu kaunteya punar janma na vidyate: "One who reaches the kingdom of God hasn't got to come back again to take birth here." But Lord Caitanya does not even aspire to reach the kingdom of God.
Lord Caitanya gives us the proper understanding, confirming the teachings of Lord Krsna. In the sixth chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, while explaining the yoga system Lord Krsna says, yam labdhva caparam labham manyate nadhikam tatah: "One who achieves the perfection of yoga has no other desire to achieve."
We may achieve something in the material world, but that does not stop our desire to achieve something more. I may achieve millions of dollars, but that does not make me satisfied. I want more ten million dollars. And when I get ten million dollars, then I desire a hundred million dollars. But one who possesses devotional service does not think anything in the world more valuable.
Krsna consciousness is not different from Krsna. Therefore a Krsna conscious person possesses Krsna, and what can be greater than Krsna? So a Krsna conscious person is fully satisfied. And Lord Krsna further says, yasmin sthito na duhkhena gurunapi vicalyate: "One situated in Krsna consciousness is not shaken despite the severest type of miseries."
A Krsna conscious person is steady in all circumstances. Prahlada Maharaja was a great devotee even as a five-year-old boy.
Prahlada's atheistic father told him, "Oh, you rascal boy. You are chanting God's name? Who is God? I am God. Why don't you chant my name? If you don't, then I shall throw you into the fire."
But Prahlada was steady. He said, "Father, I cannot stop chanting."
"You nonsense! You cannot? How dare you speak to me like this? Even the demigods are afraid of me."
"Oh, yes, father, I speak like this by the mercy of the same person who allows you to speak."
"Oh, I don't care for anyone's mercy …"
Prahlada's father had so much wrath, but Prahlada was steady. That steadiness is one of the characteristics of a pure devotee of the Lord. Even in the greatest difficulty, even in the greatest danger, he is not shaken; he is steady. That is the perfection of yoga. And that steadiness can be achieved easily by Krsna consciousness.
So we should not aspire to improve our material condition or to attain liberation. To aspire in that way means we have material desires. Some people say that we must become desireless. But because I am a living entity, desire cannot be completely absent. So my desire should be not to forget Krsna. That's all that one desire. That is real desire. And all other desires are foolish. We cannot be desireless, but we should have only bona fide desires.
I am part and parcel of the Supreme. So if I desire to work in cooperation with the Supreme, that is a natural desire. That is desirelessness. In the material condition, to desire to eat is natural. As long as you possess a body, you have to eat. No one will criticize you for your desire to eat.
So desirelessness means to desire the natural thing. To desire remembrance of Krsna is natural. Since I am part and parcel of Krsna, how can I forget Him? But somehow I have forgotten Him, and my forgetfulness is the cause of my many desires. And as soon as I desire Krsna, there will be no other desire. That is desirelessness.
As part and parcel of the whole, we get our highest pleasure by reciprocating with the whole. That reciprocation we should aspire after. We should not think that in Krsna consciousness we should desire some material profit.
In the next verse, Lord Caitanya says:
veda-sastre kahe sambandha,
krsna, krsna-bhakti, prema,
"In the Vedic literature, Krsna is the central point of attraction, and His service is our activity. To attain the platform of love of Krsna is life's ultimate goal. Therefore Krsna, Krsna's service, and love of Krsna are the three great riches of life."
Now we aspire to possess something material. But as this verse explains, we should aspire to possess Krsna, to reciprocate with Krsna, and ultimately to love Krsna. In the material world we see a reflection of love in the exchange between two lovers. They don't want anything besides each other. He wants her, and she wants him. But that relationship is only a perverted reflection of real love, which is reciprocated with Krsna.
In the material world there is no possibility of love. What is called love is lust. But we call it love because it is a reflection of love. Love of Krsna is real, and love in the material world is unreal. Lust is like the shadow, and love is the reality. There is gulf of difference between the shadow and the reality.
A devotee is not anxious for liberation, because he is liberated in his intimate connection with Krsna. One cannot be in intimate touch with Krsna unless one is liberated. So liberation and intimate connection with Krsna are the same thing. Lord Krsna says:
yesam tv anta-gatam papam
bhajante mam drdha-vratah
What is the translation?
Devotee [reading]: "But those men of virtuous deeds whose sin has come to an end, freed from the delusion of dualities, worship Me steadfastly avowed."
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. So to worship Krsna steadfastly means one is liberated from delusion. That is called mukti. One who still has some doubt "Why shall I worship Krsna?" is still in delusion, and the reactions of his sinful life are not finished. If one has a slight doubt, that means there is still a slight tinge of sinful reaction. One free from all sinful reactions has no more duality. Duality means thinking, "Shall I stick to the process of Krsna consciousness or not?" One free from sinful reactions has firm faith "Yes! Krsna worship is the final goal."
One who worships Krsna is already liberated. For example, if a man is sitting on the bench of the high court, it is to be understood that he has passed all the educational requirements and is a good lawyer. There is no need to ask whether he has passed his M.A. or his law examination. Similarly, if one is strictly in Krsna consciousness, it is to be understood that he is liberated.
The definition of liberation is given in the Srimad-Bhagavatam: muktir hitvanyatha rupam svarupena vyavasthitih. We each have different conceptions of life. I have one idea, you have another idea, and another person has another idea. Mukti means to be free from these different ideas and be situated in our constitutional position.
And what is our constitutional position? We are part and parcel of the Supreme, Krsna. Then what is our duty? The duty of the part is to serve the whole. Your hand is part of your body, and its duty is to serve the body. Similarly, because you are part and parcel of the Supreme, your duty is to serve Him. You have no other duty. One who understands this point firmly and with conviction is liberated.
Now, someone may ask, "Oh, how can you say such a person is liberated? He goes to the office. He dresses like an ordinary man. What do you mean he is liberated?"
But does mukti mean that a person must dress differently or have four hands or eight legs? No. All that is required is a change of consciousness. Krsna consciousness means a change of consciousness. We now think, "I am this matter. I have got so many duties within the material world." In Krsna consciousness you change that thinking "No, I belong to Krsna. I am part and parcel of Krsna; therefore my whole energy should be used for Krsna."
That kind of thinking is Krsna consciousness. Now I apply all my energy to the material conception of life. When I apply my energy transcendental energy to Krsna, I am liberated.
Therefore a pure devotee of Krsna does not hanker after mukti. Bilvamangala Thakura, a great devotee of Krsna, says, muktih svayam mukulitanjalih sevate 'sman: "Oh, the mukti lady stands with folded hands and asks, 'My dear sir, what can I do for you?' " And the devotee doesn't care. "Oh, what can you do for me? I don't want your help."
Bilvamangala Thakura lived for seven hundred years in Vrndavana, and he became a great devotee of Krsna. The story of his life is instructive.
In the beginning of his life Bilvamangala was an impersonalist. He was a South Indian brahmana, a very rich man, and very sensuous. He had an ongoing relationship with a prostitute. He was so devoted to the prostitute that even while attending his father's funeral he was asking the priest, "Please make haste. I have to go. I have to go."
After the ceremony Bilvamangala took very nice food in a bag and left for the prostitute's house. When he came out of his home, it was raining in torrents. But he didn't care about the rain. He had to cross a river, but there was no boat. Even though the waves were furious, he swam across the river.
The prostitute thought, "Oh, it is raining, so he may not come." So she blocked the door and went to sleep.
When Bilvamangala came to the house, he saw that the door was locked. It was still raining. To pull himself over the wall into her courtyard, he grabbed a snake. Just see how intensely he was attached to the prostitute.
When Bilvamangala went to the prostitute, she was astonished.
"Bilvamangala, how do you dare come here like this?"
So he described his journey. "Yes. I did this, I did this, I did this, I did this."
Cintamani, the prostitute, said, "My dear Bilvamangala, you have such intense love for me. If you had the same love for Krsna, how sublime your life would be!"
"Oh, yes. You are right." Her words struck him. He left at once.
He began to travel to Vrndavana, but he became attracted to a woman on the way, and he followed her. She belonged to a respectable family. When she arrived at home, she told her husband, "This man is following me. Please ask him what he wants."
The husband asked Bilvamangala, "My dear sir, you appear to be a very nice gentleman and to belong to a very aristocratic family. What do you want? Why you are following my wife?"
Bilvamangala said, "Because I want to embrace her."
"Oh, you want to embrace her? Come on. Embrace her. You are welcome."
The brahmana told his wife, "He is a guest. He wants to embrace you and kiss you. So please decorate yourself nicely so that he may enjoy."
The woman followed her husband's instructions.
When Bilvamangala came inside before the woman, he said, "My dear mother, will you kindly give me your hairpins?"
"I have got some business."
Then he took the hairpins and pierced his eyes "Oh, these eyes are my enemy." He became blind. He thought, "Now no more shall I be disturbed."
Then he went to Vrndavana, and he performed penance and austerities there. Krsna as a boy came to him.
"Oh, my dear sir, why are you starving? Why don't you take some milk?"
"Who are you, my dear boy?"
"I am a cowherd boy of this village. If you like, I can give you milk daily."
So Krsna supplied him milk. There was friendship between them.
And Bilvamangala has written, "Bhakti is such that mukti is nothing for me." In other words, he thinks, "When Krsna comes to supply milk, oh, then what is the use of mukti?"
You see? That's a great soul Bilvamangala Thakura. It is worth remembering his name. He has written a nice book, Krsna-karnamrta, a very authoritative book. Lord Caitanya found the book in South India, and He recommended that all His devotees read it.
Thank you very much.