The Supreme Lord reveals Himself to us through His countless energies.
A lecture given in Mumbai, India, on February 23, 1974
raso 'ham apsu kaunteya
sabdah khe paurusam nrsu
"O son of Kunti, Arjuna, I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras. I am the sound in ether and ability in man." Bhagavad-gita 7.8
THIS VERSE DESCRIBES the all-pervasive nature of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. We should mark the important word in this verse: aham. Aham ("I am") means that Krsna is a person. Krsna never says, "I am impersonal." The impersonal aspect is a feature of Krsna, which He refers to in the Ninth Chapter. Krsna says, maya tatam idam sarvam jagad avyakta-murtina: "I am all-pervasive by My energy."
We have already explained that Krsna has multi-energies. Parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate. The Vedic version is that the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Person, has multi-energies. The Visnu Purana states that whatever we experience is simply Krsna's energy. We can experience Krsna by His energy, just as we can experience the sun by its heat and light. Although we are ninety-three million miles away from the sun, by the sun's energy heat and light we can understand the constitution of the sun globe.
The Upanisads state:
na tasya karyam karanam ca vidyate
na tat-samas cabhyadhikas ca drsyate
parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate
svabhaviki jnana-bala-kriya ca
The Supreme Lord has nothing to do, and no one is equal to Him or greater than Him. He hasn't got to do anything, because He has so many energies. Svabhaviki jnana-bala-kriya ca. Everything is being done by His energy perfectly.
The Supreme Lord's energy is working even in the water, so you can perceive His energy within the water. We are daily using water. We are tasting water. So you can perceive Krsna's presence, Krsna's all-pervasiveness, even while you drink water. In the taste of water, Krsna says, "Here I am."
That taste is Krsna's impersonal feature, but behind the impersonal feature is the person. Krsna says mayadhyaksena prakrtih: "Material nature is under My supervision." Water is one of the products of material nature, but behind the existence of water is Krsna.
You can understand Krsna by studying His energy. Therefore Krsna says, "Although you cannot see Me just now, you can see Me in these energies."
In the preliminary stage no one can see Krsna, although Krsna is present everywhere. Andantara-stha-paramanu-cayantara-stham. He is present even within the atom. But it requires qualified eyes to see Him, or purified senses to perceive Him.
That is stated in the sastra, or scripture: atah sri-krsna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih. "With our present senses we cannot understand the holy transcendental name of Krsna." Sometimes people misunderstand us "Why are these people chanting Hare Krsna?" An ordinary man, or ordinary senses, cannot understand the value or the nature of the Lord's name.
Namadi means "beginning from the name." We can realize God by chanting His name. Nama cintamanih krsnas caitanya-rasa-vigrahah. These are the descriptions of the sastras. Nama, the holy name of the Lord, is completely spiritual. Nama cintamanih krsnas caitanya-rasa-vigrahah: Krsna's name is as good as Krsna, and those who chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra without offense taste spiritual nectar. Srila Rupa Gosvami has written, "If I could possess millions of ears and millions of tongues, then I could enjoy the transcendental taste in chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra."
But tasting the holy name is not possible for an ordinary human being in the beginning. Therefore sastra says, atah sri-krsna-namadi na bhaved grahyam indriyaih. Our unpurified senses cannot appreciate the value of the holy name of Krsna. Nama-adi means that our realization of so many things begins with the Hare Krsna maha-mantra: Krsna's qualities, His pastimes, His form, His activities. The more we chant Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, the more we become purified.
To chant the holy names of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra involves no loss or expenditure. Anyone can chant. The holy name has been freely distributed by Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Anyone can take the opportunity to chant Hare Krsna.
Sometimes we find friends on the street who, simply by seeing us, chant "Hare Krsna." That is a good sign. They are learning the value of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra.
In this age the chanting of the holy name is very, very important for God realization. The sastra says, kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha: "In Kali-yuga [the present age] there is no way to attain the goal of life except by chanting the holy names of the Lord."
If you are not inclined to chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, then try to understand Krsna as He describes Himself in today's verse. This is the process given by Sri Krsna Himself. Raso 'ham apsu kaunteya. You have to drink water; you cannot avoid it. Apsu means any liquid. Whether you drink milk or even wine, you get some taste in any liquid. So Krsna says, raso 'ham apsu kaunteya. "My dear Kaunteya, Arjuna, I am the taste in that liquid."
Just see how easily it can be done. No one goes without drinking some liquid. Coca-cola or water or this or that you must drink something. So Krsna says, "I am that taste."
"Here Is Krsna"
So where is the difficulty in understanding Krsna?
People say, "Can you show me Krsna?"
"All right. Here is Krsna. See."
We all use the word "see" to mean direct perception in some way. When I say, "Let me see what this mango is like," I mean that I want to taste it because I am seeing it already. In this case "seeing" means tasting. We have so many senses, and we "taste" through different senses. By the senses we get experience. So try to experience Krsna by this process: Whenever you drink something liquid and taste it very nicely, consider, "This taste is Krsna." Is that a very difficult way to get Krsna realization?
That taste actually is Krsna, because water is Krsna in the sense that it is the energy of Krsna, just as heat is the energy of fire. Heat and fire are not distinct; they are the same. Still, heat is not fire. This philosophy is called acintya-bhedabheda: simultaneous oneness and difference. Idam hi visvam bhagavan ivetarah. The whole universe is Krsna, but it appears different from Krsna, Bhagavan.
You have to understand this point by purified senses. That is required. But this is the beginning: raso 'ham apsu kaunteya "I am the taste of water."
Krsna says this. We have not manufactured this idea. If I were to say, "The taste of water is Krsna," that may be different. But Krsna says, raso 'ham apsu kaunteya.
So why not think of Krsna? Thinking of Krsna is one of the nine processes of devotional service. If you remember Krsna, you advance in your spiritual life and you become a perfect yogi. How?
yoginam api sarvesam
sraddhavan bhajate yo mam
sa me yuktatamo matah
"Of all yogis, the one with great faith who always abides in Me, thinks of Me within himself, and renders transcendental loving service to Me he is the most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all. That is My opinion."
As soon as you drink anything, simply think, "Now here is Krsna." You must drink so many times each day. If you remember Krsna each time, you gradually become Krsna conscious. Krsna is prescribing such a simple way to remember Him.
Krsna then gives another method: prabhasmi sasi-suryayoh "I am the light of the sun and the moon." As soon as you see sunshine in the morning, you can remember, "Here is Krsna." Or at night, when there is no sun, there is moonlight: "Here is Krsna."
Then, pranavah sarva-vedesu. If you are a serious student of Vedic mantras, you will chant om, because Vedic mantras begin with om, as in om tad visnoh paramam padam sada pasyanti surayah, or om bhur bhuvah svah tat savitur varenyam. Om, or the omkara, is Krsna. Many people are fond of chanting omkara. That is also nice, because omkara is Krsna. If we simply remember, "This omkara is Krsna," then we become perfect, because the goal is to become Krsna conscious.
So you can become Krsna conscious while drinking, while seeing the sunshine, while seeing the moonlight, while chanting om. And sabda khe even if you hear any sound and remember that Krsna is that sound, you can become Krsna conscious.
Also, paurusam nrsu "I am the ability in man." You meet so many men in your dealings with the material world. There are many very big, big men. Big, big industrialists, big, big scholars, big, big manufacturers, big, big bankers. A man in such a position is called paurusam one who has attained perfection in the material world. Instead of envying him you can simply think, "He has attained material success because he has received a little power from Krsna." Yad yad vibhutimat sattvam … mama tejo 'msa-sambhavam. Anything wonderful done by any person is done by Krsna's energy.
It is not at all difficult to become Krsna conscious. There is no expenditure, there is no loss. Simply by your daily dealings you can become Krsna conscious.
That is the program here. We are advising everyone, "Chant the Hare Krsna mantra." Kirtaniyah sada harih: the Hare Krsna mantra should be chanted twenty-four hours a day. But if the chanting becomes difficult or hackneyed, then you can remember Krsna in other ways: while drinking water, while seeing the sunshine, while seeing the moonlight, while chanting Vedic mantras, or even while hearing some sound in the ether.
We are hearing so many sounds, so we can remember Krsna by hearing any sound if we remember this verse of the Bhagavad-gita. The sound "Hare Krsna" is transcendental, but if you don't like the sound "Hare Krsna," take any sound and remember Krsna. Any sound is also coming from the original sound and is simply covered by maya, illusion.
Material or Spiritual?
What is the difference between spiritual and material? Everything is spiritual. Sarvam khalv idam brahma. But when something is covered by maya, it is material. That's all. And what is maya? Forgetfulness of Krsna.
Water is spiritual, because it is Krsna's energy. So how can it be different from Krsna? And since we have to deal with water in so many ways, how we can forget Krsna?
The Krsna consciousness movement is spreading the knowledge of Bhagavad-gita as it is. How can one become Krsna conscious very easily without any loss but with great gain? By taking advantage of the Krsna consciousness movement. If you become Krsna conscious in this way, the profit is very, very great, because the more you become Krsna conscious, the more Krsna becomes revealed to you.
Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah. With the blunt senses you cannot understand Krsna, you cannot realize Krsna. Our present senses are blunt because they are covered by forgetfulness of Krsna, or maya. Therefore they have to be purified. Our forgetfulness of Krsna has to be removed. This is the process: raso 'ham apsu kaunteya.
When you follow this process remembering, "The taste of this water is Krsna" some percentage of your forgetfulness of Krsna is removed. Similarly, you can remember Krsna when you see the sunshine or the moonshine, when you chant omkara, or in so many ways prescribed in later verses. Try to understand Krsna in these ways. That doesn't require any advancement of education or Vedic knowledge.
Devotional service means purifying the senses. At the present moment our senses are covered by maya, and maya can be removed simply by remembering Krsna at every step. Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau. Simply engage your jihva. Jihva means "tongue." Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau: "The beginning of purification is to use your tongue in devotional service."
We prescribe therefore that you use your tongue for chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra and tasting Krsna's prasadam, food offered to Krsna. That is not at all difficult. There is no need to study higher Vedic knowledge. That knowledge will automatically be revealed.
You can also become Krsna conscious by applying your ears. As stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah punya-sravana-kirtanah: "Hearing and chanting about Krsna are pious activities." Now you are hearing the words of Bhagavad-gita. These are Krsna's own words.
There are nine methods of devotional service, beginning with hearing. We are opening so many centers just to give people the chance to hear about Krsna. If you simply hear about Krsna, then Krsna becomes pleased: "Oh, now he's hearing about Me." Then what does He do? Srnvatam sva-kathah krsnah punya-sravana-kirtanah. Whether you understand what you hear or not, Krsna takes that hearing as a pious activity on your part. And the more you become pious, the more you can understand Krsna.
Impious persons cannot understand Krsna. But one free from impious activities can understand Him. Hearing about Krsna is pious activity. If you understand, it is very good. But even if you do not understand the vibration of the Hare Krsna mantra or the reading of Bhagavad-gita, if you simply chant you'll be purified.
We cannot understand what we are, what God is, what our relationship with God is, because we are enwrapped in sinful activities. In the material world, every one of us, more or less, is duskrtinah, more or less sinful. So it is very difficult for us to understand Krsna. Therefore we have to take advantage of the Krsna consciousness movement. And wherever there is a chance to hear about Krsna, we should take the opportunity.
See Krsna at Every Step
Learn how to become Krsna conscious. Simply try to understand Krsna in every step of life. Many ways of perceiving Krsna will be explained in this chapter. The beginning is tasting. Everyone drinks water or something else. So try to taste the liquid while thinking, "This taste is Krsna." In the morning you see the light of the sunshine: "Here is Krsna." In the evening you see the moonlight: "Here is Krsna." There is always sound, especially in a city like Bombay. It is full of sound. So whenever you hear any kind of sound you remember: "This sound is Krsna." Sabdah khe. And whenever you meet any very exalted, very extraordinarily able person, understand, "This ability is Krsna's mercy."
In this way, if you practice, if you chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, and if you hear from realized souls about Krsna, then you gradually become advanced in Krsna consciousness. And when you come to perfection, Krsna's activities will be revealed to you. Svayam eva sphuraty adah. When Krsna becomes manifest, then you understand what Krsna is, what His name is, what His activities are, what His pastimes are. Everything becomes revealed. Then you can understand perfectly. We cannot understand Krsna perfectly, but at least as far as our ability allows we can know Him.
And if we understand Krsna a little bit, then our life is successful. Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti. After giving up the body, we go to Krsna.
Ordinarily, we give up the body and accept another. Tatha dehantara-praptih. That we have to stop. We are trying our best to solve all the problems of life. The real problems are janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi:birth, death, old age, and disease. But you can conquer them. No more birth. "Then I am finished?" No, you are not finished. Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti. "You come to Me." You go back home, back to Godhead. This is the process of Krsna consciousness. It is very easy. Everyone can adopt it. Why should you give it up? Take it very seriously and be happy.
Thank you very much.