27-‐11-‐2013 SB 4.31.24,
Hearing Purely, Vrindavan, India
om namo bhagavate vasudevaya!
So we are hearing today from Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 4, chapter 31: Sri Narada instructs the Pracetas, text 24.
te ‘pi tan-mukha-niryātaḿ
harer niśamya tat-pādaḿ
dhyāyantas tad-gatiḿ yayuḥ
Translation: Hearing from Nārada’s mouth the glories of the Lord, which vanquish all the ill
fortune of the world, the Pracetās also became attached to the Supreme Personality of
Godhead. Meditating on His lotus feet, they advanced to the ultimate destination.
Purport: Here it is seen that by hearing the glories of the Lord from a realized devotee the
Pracetās easily attained strong attachment for the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Then, meditating on the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord at the end of their lives, they advanced
to the ultimate goal, Viṣṇuloka. It is sure and certain that anyone who always hears
the glories of the Lord and thinks of His lotus feet will reach that supreme destination. As
Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā (18.65):
man-manā bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yājī māḿ namaskuru
mām evaiṣyasi satyaḿ te
pratijāne priyo ‘si me
“Always think of Me and become My devotee. Worship Me and offer your homage unto
Me. Thus you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very
Yes, so, the Pracetas have been hearing from Narada Muni all sorts of very nice instructions
about the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And here Maitreya is continuing and
making the point that because they heard in that way without deviation and because
Narada, the person they have heard from, was a fully realized soul, so highly, fully qualified
in Krishna Consciousness .Then the result of all that was that they progressed first of
all. They advanced and in due course, they advanced to the Supreme destination. They all
went back to Godhead or they all attained completely pure, unalloyed devotional service to
the Lord – the perfection of life.
So, the process is so powerful as stated here that loka malapaham, the process of hearing
the glories of the Lord is so powerful that it can vanquish, Prabhupada translates, vanquish
all the ill fortune of the world. It is a total panacea you could say. The whole process
is of course, but particularly within the process that particular part of hearing the glories of
the Lord, particularly from a great devotee like Narada Muni or great devotee like Srila
Prabhupada. That part of the process is really most extremely powerful. most extremely
important and essential actually and if it is really done properly then in and of itself it has
the potency to vanquish all the ill fortune of the world and of the individual, of the devotee
who hears that wonderful pure sound vibration.
So in and of itself hearing the glories of the Lord has that potency to bring one to the perfectional
stage. In Caitanya Caritamrita Srila Sanatana Goswami is instructed by Lord Caitanya
and Lord Caitanya then lists out the 64 processes of devotional services, 64 types of
devotional activities. The last five of which Lord Caitanya emphasizes as being particularly
effective, particularly powerful and particularly beneficial.
sadhu-sanga, nama-kirtana, bhagavata-sravana
mathura-vasa, sri-murtira sraddhaya sevana
Incidentally if you don’t understand English the Russian translation is over there. So Lord
Caitanya speaks this to Sanatana Goswami in the 22nd chapter of the Madhya Lila and
these particular processes, these five he says, they are so exceptional even amongst the
other activities that he says, just a little bit of any one of them, even if it is performed not so
nicely, not so expertly, even if it is performed without real faith but as along as they are
performed without offenses, that any one of these activities has the potency, that it can, it
may bring a person immediately to the level of bhava. Practically immediately to the level
of bhava, which basically means the perfect stage of devotional service.
Of course we emphasize Krishna prema, prema pumarto mahan. Krishna prema is the
great great goal of life. The greatest goal of life and the greatest part of perfection. But still
bhava is part of perfection. It is not part of something less then perfection. It’s just there is
perfect, more perfect, most perfect – that sort of idea. Most perfect. Then there is even
more most perfect, most most perfect, mostest(laughs) most perfect. It is unlimited really.
But definitely there are different stages of perfection and just because one stage is in a lower
part of perfection so to speak it doesn’t mean that it is not part of perfection, it is. So
bhava is part of perfection and that is what Lord Caitanya says there in Madhya Lila to Sanatana
Goswami. That just a little bit of any one of these activities, even if performed without
faith, but as long as its done without offenses may bring the devotee immediately to
the level of bhava.
And in regard to hearing the glories of the Lord, which is the particular activity being presented
here and emphasized here, Srila Rupa Goswami in Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu, in
order to glorify and really give a clear appreciation of all of those five activities, Rupa Goswami
has composed a particular verse for each one to really bring out the essence of its
essential and wonderful wonderful nature. So hearing the glories of the Lord, hearing Srimad
Bhagavatam, krishna katha, Srila Rupa Goswami gives a very interesting type of glorification.
As he does with one or two others, he apparently criticizes it but actually by this
particular type of “criticism” he is really bringing out the glories of it. The potency of it, how
wonderful it is. So the translation at least of that verse, about hearing Srimad bhagavatam,
hearing the glories of the Lord, it is in the context that some materialistic person is speaking
to his friend who is also a materialistic person and both are, really like you know, very
enthusiastic materialists. And the one who is addressing the other one, he is saying, he is
basically warning them, “Don’t hear Srimad Bhagavatam. Watch out. Just you be careful.”
So first of all he says to his friend: “My dear foolish friend. I think you have been hearing
Srimad Bhagavatam.” You know what, and of course you know it is just implicit in that, that
there must be some reason why the person speaking thinks his dear foolish friend has
been hearing Srimad Bhagavatam. You know which in the context that I was presenting it
in, the speaker feels is foolish. There must be some symptoms. And as we mentioned as
Lord Caitanya says, to hear or to be engaged in any one of those five activities even with a
little faith , etc., it may bring the person the level of bhava and bhava is quite noticeable by
When devotees who are so advanced it may be difficult to pin-point what it is their stage of
advancement in terms of different levels from sraddha to prema. And even they may go up
and down, be at one stage at one point, then be at another stage a matter of minutes later,
or even a combination of stages. But bhava, if someone comes to the level of bhava, that
is not so easy to mistake. It is really quite something outstanding and really extremely
prominent. So in other words implicit in this first part of this verse, “My dear foolish friend. I
think you have been hearing Srimad Bhagavatam”. Implicit in that is is his dear foolish friend
is showing symptoms of bhava, which could be, you know there are different symptoms.
But For example it could be that he is now although generally previously he was not, but
now he may be very actively engaged in some devotional activity, unexpectedly. Previously
he would never do that but now he is very visibly engaged in some Krishna conscious
activity or perhaps he has suddenly become very renounced. Previously he was not, but
now some symptoms of really quite major renunciation appear in his character. Or something
like that. Maybe he has become extremely tolerant or perseverant or even it could be
some emotional symptom. But there are symptoms and in the statement the person speaking
obviously must have observed something. Otherwise why would he just surmise, just
assume that you must have been hearing Srimad Bhagavatam.
So these symptoms of bhava are extremely powerful. It is not just a little bit of renunciation
or a little bit of attachment to chanting. It’s something quite dramatic actually. And this person
unexpectedly is showing that, you know just like sometimes a person…, someone who
has drunk some liquor. The effects of that are also quite noticeable. But sometimes if
somebody has drunk some liquor and he is confronted, “You have been drinking” he would
say, “No no, not me, I haven’t been drinking” just before he collapses on the ground or
something like that. So, you know the symptoms are noticeable.
So anyway Rupa Goswami in that verse he says, “My dear foolish friend. I think you have
been hearing Srimad Bhagavatam,” because obviously some prominent symptoms must
unexpectedly have arisen in that person. But then the person goes on, “If you hear the
tenth canto I don’t know what’s going to happen to you. You know you are bad enough
now that you have foolishly been hearing Srimad Bhagavatam and something pretty substantial
has come over you but now when you hear the tenth canto you are finished. We
will just have to carry you out. Or you know, your whole life will just be turned upside down
and around and just you know… Your past will just…, your previous material life will be finished.”
So devotees, bear that in mind, be careful! Do we know what we are dealing with here? It’s
very powerful. It’s extremely powerful and it has the power to transform a person, even
sometimes at least, on the spot. Immediately from quite a material condition to a very
Krishna conscious condition, practically like that. It may do that. In a similar vein at least,
although slightly different example but similar idea.
When Lord Caitanya in the later stages of his pastimes in Jagannatha Puri, during the
nights, he would sometimes escape. He would be locked in his room in the gambhira. Locked
in from the outside and there was only that one entrance. So he would be locked in
because he would…, if he was able to get out and there was no one to watch him and monitor
him and follow him. He might just do anything or go anywhere and just disappear. So
they would lock him in. But Caitanya Caritamrita describes one night he got out and one
night he went running around looking for Krishna. Just completely, totally overwhelmed
looking for Krishna. And he ran down to the sea thinking it was the Yamuna. So he just dived
in thinking that it’s the Yamuna and I’ll find Krishna there. But then he got washed
away by the sea. At Jagannatha Puri the sea, for any of you who are a little familiar with
the sea, the sea is moving northwards up the coast, so Lord Caitanya got swept by the
sea. Just gradually over a period of some hours up the coast to the North.
Somewhere up there, there was a fisherman. In the middle of the night he was using a net.
He was casting the net out into the sea, into the surf or somehow casting it out there and
then pulling the net in and catching fish that way. He happened to catch Lord Caitanya.
And Lord Caitanya was in such a condition, such an extreme condition perhaps even by
His own standards which were very extreme. His arms and legs had retracted into His
body, into His torso. And His head somehow…, maybe something like that. So in other
words He looked very extraordinary. Certainly not like a human. And it was in the middle of
the night. And this fisherman he could see… “I have caught something big here and something
very unusual, very strange.”
So he pulled Lord Caitanya on to the beach and in the darkness trying to figure out, “What
did I catch?” He went to touch Lord Caitanya and immediately symptoms of bhava overpowered
him. Immediately his body just started shaking uncontrollably in ecstasy. Tears
just started pouring from his eyes, his body and his voice started stammering and shaking.
It was really something extraordinary. And being just basically an ordinary person he
couldn’t understand what happened, what was it, and he thought, “I caught a ghost.” And I
am now, since I touched the ghost, I have been possessed by the ghost. “Wow, I have really
got a big problem.”
So he ran, just ran panicking back down the beach towards Jagannatha Puri which was
some distance away, to the South. And as he was running, on a conscious level he is aware,
you know. His mind in other words has not become infused with Krishna consciousness.
These are physical symptoms which have overcome him. So he was in a great
anxiety, “I have been possessed by a ghost and I need an exorcist.” So he is running down
the beach and now by this time it is very early morning, the sun is beginning to rise.
The devotees, the associates of lord Caitanya they discovered that Lord Caitanya had got
out and now has disappeared. So all devotees went out in different directions to search for
Lord Caitanya and Swarupa Damodara Goswami and a group of devotees they went up
the beach because Lord Caitanya had done that sort of thing previously. Dived into the
ocean and being swept away. So they went up the beach and whom did they come across,
but this fisherman, running down the beach exhibiting all these symptoms, collapsing and
body shaking and etc etc. And Swarupa Damodara Goswami thought, “Aha, I think we
have discovered Lord Caitanya, at least a lead, an important lead.”
So this fisherman approached Swarupa Damodara Goswami and this group of devotees
and explained what happened. And he said, “You know, I caught this ghost and I touched
him and all these things came upon me, I am possessed. I need an exorcist.” And Swarupa
Damodara Goswami said, “Well, it is your lucky day. I happen to be a big exorcist.”
Anyway we are not really aware what happened to the fisherman after that, if in the end he
became a devotee. But the devotees found Lord Caitanya shortly after that.
Yes, so, this sort of contact with the Lord, through this different devotional activities and
particularly hearing about the Lord. They are all very exceptional and hearing about the
Lord is most exceptional. Srila Prabhupada would say there is a direct channel, direct line
from the ears to the heart. So in other words whatever you hear, actually anything you
hear. But particularly transcendental sound vibration, if you really hear it nicely and if it really
has that transcendental quality, it’s not some mixed sound vibration but coming from a
pure source then it goes straight to the heart and immediate impact is there.
And transformation, big transformation can be there very quickly. So like that very direct
connection: The other senses, of course they are also connected. We engage our senses.
Hrisikena hrsikesa sevanam. We engage our senses in the service of hrsikesa, the master
of the senses, our senses become purified. But there is special character to the sense of
hearing and to engaging the sense of hearing in hearing about Krishna and particularly
from very good sources, direct link.
Whereas if you hear from someone who is not on that level and particularly if you hear
from people who are really contaminated and it’s all just you know, just a big mish-mash.
And the transcendental nature is not really prominent, it’s very mixed. Then it may even
have bad effect as we know. That to hear the holy names of the Lord from an offensive
person it has an effect like drinking milk which has been touched by the lips of a serpent. It
has a poisonous effect. Yata sarpa sarpa yata paya. If that milk has been touched by the
lips of a sarpa, of a snake, of a serpent then it has drastic… drastic, poisonous effects. So
the quality, the qualification of the source from whom one is hearing is an important consideration.
Yeah, just like you may have heard, I’m sure many of you have heard…, it is a joke, but it
is a good one. The temple president from Krishna Balarama temple, Vrindavana, happened
to be in Rome. It is a joke, don’t worry. And somehow he ended up visiting the Vatican
and visiting the Pope. And on the Pope’s desk he saw this big red telephone. And he asked
him, “What’s this red telephone?” And the Pope said, “Direct line, up there to Him,
God.” So the devotee asked, “Can I make a call to God, to Krishna?” And the Pope said,
“Ok, but bear in mind it’s long distance. It is very expensive, 100 dollars a minute.” So the
devotee made a call to Krishna. It is a joke, don’t worry about it (laughter) And Krishna was
asking, how is the sankirtan movement going. One minute 100 dollars he had to pay.
Then the Pope later came to India. Few years ago the previous Pope I think was here. And
the devotee, temple president gave him his card. And the Pope thought, “Hey let me go
and visit my friend, the temple president from ISKCON Vrindavana”. So he came and went
into the president’s office and sure enough there was a big red telephone. And the Pope
said, “Oh you got one of them also.” And the devotee said, “Yeah, direct line.” Pope said,
“Can I make a call?” ”Go ahead no problem.” Pope made a call and Krishna told him, “Are
you still allowing so much nonsense. You don’t allow women to be priests. What are you
people up to?” You know He chastised him a little. And he hang up and he said, “How
much? It was couple of minutes. Must be a couple hundred dollars.” And the devotee said,
“No. Don’t worry about it, it’s free.” And the Pope said, “How can it be? It’s such a long distance
call. Must be very expensive.” And the devotee said, “No no no. In Vrindavana it’s
just a local call.” Anyway it’s just a joke. But still the point is there. If you really hear from
right sources, the right things then it can transform even someone who is like extremely
There is this story of Valmiki meeting Narada Muni. He was extremely degraded. He was
really the most terrible person but he got instruction from the saint Narada Muni who was
speaking here to the pracetas and it transformed him. Basically, literally on the spot. Major
transformation came. Mrigari the hunter, same sort of situation. Again Narada Muni, another
degraded and vicious person, just terrible condition. With a little hearing from great
devotee, transcendental sound vibration Mrigari the hunter became completely transformed
into a great devotee.
The prostitute who came to try to drag down Haridasa Thakura. She just heard his chanting
for some hours. Even she fell asleep and she woke up the next morning, he was still
chanting. He had promised that when I finish my rounds then we can enjoy together. She
woke up the next morning and he was still chanting and she asked him, “You haven’t finished
yet?” And he said, “No no, I finished. That was yesterday’s rounds. Now it is today’s.
So just be patient, sit down and listen and I”ll be finished after a while.” And she was sitting
and listening and hearing and it was not really…, she had this sort of element of piety in
her character to some degree. But it was not like devotees hearing from some very advanced
devotee like Narada Muni or Haridasa Thakura. She was just hearing but still it transformed
her also on the spot, at least over the period of some hours she became a different
So these are some examples and of course there are many examples of how this works.
Hearing from the right sources. In our case, well of course we have Narada Muni speaking
in Srimad Bhagavatam and Prabhupada in, is it the third or fourth canto? Anyway, somewhere
in earlier cantos. Srila Prabhupada in one purport to a verse in a chapter where
Narada Muni is speaking, I think it is in the fifth chapter of the first canto actually. Prabhupada
makes the point: We would like to thank Narada Muni for appearing in the pages of
Srimad Bhagavatam. And we would like to thank Narada Muni also. But we would like to
particularly thank Srila Prabhupada for giving us Bhagavatam, Bhagavata Gita all his lectures
etc etc. Because now we have the opportunity to hear the same transcendental message
from someone like Narada Muni.
And people like Narada Muni one thing you must know: There are devotees and there are
devotees. But devotees like Narada Muni and like Srila Prabhupada, this is just something
else. Not just like the head of another vaishnava organization or something like that. This
is actually someone on the level of Narada Muni. When you hear from Srila Prabhupada, if
you hear nicely then exactly the same impact can happen, can happen.
Lord Caitanya makes that point that if you do those activities as we mentioned, even without
faith or without offenses and even one of them may bring you…, not that it will bring
everyone to the level of bhava just like that, but it may bring a person immediately to the
level of bhava. You know, Don’t worry if you haven’t come to the level of bhava yet after
chanting, associating and hearing and doing all those activities for many years. It is still
having this effect. But there is also a problem or you could say consideration in terms of
how you hear. You have to hear the right thing from the right person. That has to be there,
you know not just some Bollywood version or different kind of hindu pop. What was that?
Radhe Radhe japa karan, Krishna nam rasa piya karo… something like that. It is basically hindu
pop, Vraja mandala style. That’s essentially what it is. So the qualification or nature of the speaker
and the chanter that’s an essential consideration. But then you, the hearer you have to hear. Clearly.
You know we have the mind. Everyone of us has a mind and the mind speaks, the inner voice
and the mind speaks a lot! About a lot of different things. The mind is a character. And there is the
inner ear. The sense of hearing is a slightly complex sense and your sense of hearing may be engaged
by your mind.
You may possibly have had the experience, maybe even today. You were trying to chant
your rounds and of course you know that you should chant them nicely and be very attentive
and so on. You may have heard that so many times but still even today, you may have
been chanting but your inner voice was also operational. Your inner voice was talking and
your inner ear was listening and that was really where your consciousness was. Your awareness
was more given to your mind. Even though the chanting was going on and sometimes
you hear it. Did you ever have such an experience?
So it is a very important consideration. To make the whole process complete the chanter
has to be to the right standard, but the hearer has to really hear. Otherwise, like we said
there is this channel from the ear to the heart. If your mind is now thinking about this and
that and actually your attention is giving to that, it is as if you have blocked the channel. It’s
basically, literally like you have blocked the channel from the ear to your heart. There is a
blockage. And the sound vibration is there. It’s trying to go in but it is getting caught by the
blockage and as a result it’s not really reaching the heart and as a result the transformation
is not really taking place. At least certainly not like Lord Caitanya said it can take place.
Therefore for ourselves, to hear from the right sources, which basically means hear from
Srila Prabhupada and those who are actually following Srila Prabhupada and not just
some others…you know Vrindavana is such a colorful place, full of colorful people with colorful
ideas about Krishna consciousness. It’s amazing. So there are all sorts of wrong
people you can hear from. We should hear from Srila Prabhupada and those who actually
follow Prabhupada. Which excludes those who say they are following Prabhupada, but
you know if you have the reasonable idea what it means to follow Prabhupada then you
understand that they are not actually following Prabhupada. You have to hear from the
right people, but then you have to actually hear from them. We have to actually hear. And
then that sound vibration, powerful sound vibration will just go to the heart. And then it can
even be on the spot today. Literally today. Major transformation can take place in your
heart, literally. No exaggeration or anything of that sort.
So, well we should try to do that, hear from the right source but really hear. This is something
we have to work on, cultivate. And of course it is becoming recognized and has been
recognized in ISKCON more and more over the last so many years and therefore we have
different programs where devotees focus on these things. But we should understand, we
should not… It is nice to serve Krishna a lot and enthusiastically. We should not just become
Krishna conscious workaholics. We should become Krishna conscious and then serve
on the basis of being Krishna conscious. Having actually heard nicely.
So the Pracetas did that and Prabhupada says in the purport, they easily attained strong
attachment for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, easily. Strong attachment. And then
meditating, being focused on the lotus feet of the Lord they went back to Godhead. They
perfected their lives, achieved Krishna prema. Let us follow in their footsteps.
Hare Krishna! Srila Prabhupada ki jay!
Is there time for a question or should we finish?
Question: Hare Krishna! Thank you, maharaja. It is one of the five processes you mentioned,
it says residing in Mathura. Why Mathura, why not Vrindavana?
Bhakti Caitanya Swami: It’s sort of…, it’s a generic. The basic idea is we should live in a
holy place. And well actually, you know if we sort of get slightly technical about it, Mathura
Vrindavana it’s the same area. Mathura Vrindavana. Just Mathura… you know. Rupa Goswami
is preaching, Lord Caitanya is preaching by presenting all those different processes
and Mathura is a very famous place of pilgrimage. So you know practically anyone in the
whole country even today, if you say Mathura, they will immediately understand oh yes.
But it is in a generic sense. You know you could turn your own house, flat, in another part
of the world into a holy place by having deities and pictures and Krishna conscious programs
and so on. That’s the principle, is that ok?
Mataji: Thank you.
Bhakti Caitanya Swami: Just pass the microphone forward please.
Question: As it is described in canto 6 in the Ajamila case that the chanting of the holy
name whether knowingly or unknowingly extinguishes the offenses that we are not conscious
off. So when we keep on chanting does it not include extinguishing the offenses
caused by hearing from unauthorized sources that accumulates in the heart. Does it not
reconcile in this case that if we keep on chanting that the chanting will burn the unknown
offenses of hearing from unauthorized sources in the heart. So we should keep on chanting
even though sometimes we have heard from unauthorized source. If we keep on
chanting it will solve the problem.
Bhakti Caitanya Swami: The thing is, there are couple of considerations. One is, how unauthorized,
if it’s really like super unauthorized…like some nonsense people in a nonsense
context, then according to Padma Purana, being quoted by Rupa Goswami in Bhakti
Rasamrita Sindhu… If the source is really bogus enough, it may actually have a detrimental,
like a severely detrimental effect. Like, kill you spiritual life. But then another consideration
is, that the more you hear from the good sources, the authorized sources, the quicker
the process is. And we should have a sense of urgency in our Krishna consciousness. And
not just think that, well you know… if I sort of… kind of carry on sort of in Krishna consciousness
to some degree… You know, Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita in 9.33 api cet duracaro…
Yes, it’s not too bad. I can take birth my next lifetime as a devotee and carry on.
So if I hear some Bollywood, I don’t know who it is, but om shanti om something… chanting
Hare Krishna, then it’s ok, it’s not too bad. But we all should have a sense of urgency.
For different reasons. One is that the goal is so worthwhile to achieve. Oh we should
achieve it! Without delay! Another point is, that if you do delay, if you are not careful and try
to do things properly and maximize the opportunities to your progress… If you are lackadaisical…
like that, then you can make a serious mistake which can set you back very badly.
The example or one example is Bharata Maharaja. Well, Ajamila is one thing. He was not
committing offenses. So therefore, even though obviously his position was a nonsense position.
But he was chanting. But without offenses. Bharata Maharaja’s situation was different.
He actually, Jiva Goswami explains in Bhakti Sandharba, that Bharata Maharaja…
The reason he became attracted to the deer was the result… as a result of previous offenses
he committed. And we don’t know what they were. But Jiva Goswami does make the
point that we should understand that they must have been. Because he was on the level of
bhava. Means, perfect devotional service. The beginning of perfect devotional service, but
still perfect devotional service. And because of offenses he became bewildered and he lost
a lot of time. He had to go through being a deer. And then he was Jada Bharata and that
was all a very difficult situation. So we don’t want to take that risk. Therefore it behooves
us, for our own benefit we should do our real best. Sadhu sanga, keep in good association.
Srila Prabhupada and his real followers. Nama kirtan, really trying to chant the holy
names. Even if our efforts are lacking. Even often lacking. But still we should keep trying.
And bhagavata sravana, really try to hear. And when the Bhagavatam class comes or
when we are reading Prabhupada’s books, really try to take it in. And mathura vasa. Really
try and stay…make our own home a holy place, a Krishna conscious place. And don’t go
and mix in the wrong places with the wrong people. And engage in deity worship nicely. So
if we are attentive in how we apply ourselves to these activities, if we really try to be as attentive
as we can, then we will progress reasonably rapidly. Otherwise there are many
challenges. And if you are not careful some challenge can just knock you down and out for
some time. And who wants that?
Ok. We‘ll finish here. Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!