2.1 Become My Devotee — How to engage jnana and karma

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Lalit Kishori dasi 1 year, 8 months ago.

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  • #2556 Reply


    The discussion on this thread is on the first part of Chapter Two of Nectar of Govinda-lila, pages 17 to 22 in the fourth edition.

    Click here to read this section online.

    Or click here to download the pdf of the second chapter.

    #2571 Reply

    madhukar das

    Haribol, all.
    Dandavat pranam.

    To start off the discussion on this first part of the chapter, I am posting a couple of questions for you to contemplate. Please feel free to submit any other questions you may have for discussion.

    From pg. 18

    At first, with hands folded together, Arjuna said:
    sisyas te ’ham sadhi mam tvam prapannam
    Bhagavad-gita (2.7)
    “In all ways I am now surrendered unto You. As You instruct me, I will do.
    He heard all of Krsna’s instructions, and then said, “I am unable to do this man-mana bhava. How will I absorb my mind in this way? It is not possible.”

    So it seems that the topmost instruction in the Bhagavad-gita verse man-mana bhava mad-bhakto is to always absorb one’s mind and heart in Krsna (man-mana bhava). But this instruction is also the most difficult. Is the goal of the three other instructions in this verse to help us reach this state?

    From pg. 19

    But see how these things can cover bhakti. In the name of helping others, Bharata Maharaja made a mistake and fell down from spiritual life. He had been practising bhakti and attained a very high stage, up to bhava. He saved the baby deer from the mouth of the tiger and from drowning in the stream, and afterwards he maintained it by feeding it milk, thinking he was benefiting another living entity. But because of this activity he had to take another three births.

    What was Bharata Maharaja’s mistake? When he saw the baby deer drowning in the stream and about to be eaten by the tiger, should he have just left the deer alone to meet with its terrible fate? Does that mean we shouldn’t be kind to others if it isn’t directly related to bhakti? Doesn’t this sound a bit cruel and fanatical?

    From pg. 20

    Therefore although jnana and karma will remain, they must be kept in a position of servitude to bhakti. Otherwise our bhakti will become covered. So how will we engage our jnana and karma? By going to the market and bringing good quality fruits and vegetables for the service of the deities. The deities will accept the offerings and give prasada to everyone. By this, bhakti will not be covered; instead it will increase.

    In Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 17.131), Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja explains:
    ‘nāma’, ‘vigraha’, ‘svarūpa’–tina eka-rūpa
    tine ‘bheda’ nāhi,–tina ‘cid-ānanda-rūpa’
    The Lord’s name, deity form (vigraha), and personality are all one. They are spiritual and there is to be no distinction made between them.

    I heard one Vaisnava explain how vigraha means vi = visesa, special, graha = grahana, accepting or receiving. It is a special form of the Lord that accepts all the prayers, service and worship of a devotee. In this way, it is said in some places that the deity form of the Lord is even more merciful than the personal form of the Lord.
    Srila Vamana Gosvami Maharaja wrote in a letter to Uma didi (dated January 4, 1974):

    “When a sadhaka is serving and worshipping sri guru and Bhagavan [in His deity form], he performs service according to his bhava. A natural, innocent and sincere attitude illuminates his heart as he offers suitable foods and dresses according to winter and summer seasons. This indeed nourishes the moods of sneha, mamata and vatsaya.”

    So we can see how service to the deity is an excellent way for a sadhaka to engage his jnana and karma, but it is it necessary for all devotees to serve Thakuraji? If I’m correct, Gurudeva was only giving us an example. What are some other ways a sadhaka can engage his jnana and karma in a way that nourishes bhakti?

    #2581 Reply

    Gita dasi

    A school teacher teaching philosophy can help students to think more critically about life and not accept what TV or the science teacher tells them blindly. Someone can go to a factory wearing tilak and inspire all co-workers to chant hari bol!

    #2582 Reply

    Gita dasi

    Srila Gurudeva told me not to get Deities because I would not be able to care for them. This was about 13 years ago. But He came to us, we started worshipping on Asraya tritiya, and He isn’t mine – I worship with other family members. Is this disobedience?

    #2585 Reply

    madhukar das

    Great examples for your answer to the third question, Gita didi.

    I’m not sure if my conception is right, but what I’m thinking is everything that we do can fall into one of three categories: karma, jnana, and bhakti. So all the activities we do in the day is karma. We should go on performing all our daily duties, but we should perform them with the objective of the service of Hari, Guru and Vaisnava. The whole beginning six chapters of Bhagavad-gita is about how to engage karma in the service of Bhagavan without desiring desiring its fruits. As we continually perform such karma it will eventually, by the mercy of Guru and Krsna, become bhakti.

    Deity worship is very helpful because Bhagavan is directly there in that form to accept all our services, so it becomes easy to properly engage in karma. Recently, one devotee asked Srila Bharati Maharaja how she could worship her Thakurji and he was saying something like she should serve Them in the same way she’d serve her own self. For example, if she goes to buy a jacket for winter, she should first get some warm things for her deities to wear. In that way she will think of Thakurji’s needs before her own. When we advance then we can come to a higher stage where we perform these services to the deity with pure love.

    Re: if it’s disobeying Gurudeva’s instruction. Not all the instructions Srila Gurudeva gives us is for all time. Maybe at that particular time he knew you wouldn’t be able to properly care for them. But now Thakurji has come to you and Gurudeva has taught you that we shouldn’t neglect our service to the deities. I don’t know. That’s just my guess.

    I see how we can engage karma in a way that nourishes bhakti. But how to we engage jnana in a way that nourishes bhakti?

    #2598 Reply

    Anita dasi

    Regarding Bharat Maharaja and the deer, I was reading an article of Srila Bharati maharaja about compassion.”If Sambhandha-jnana has not manifest completely, then any externally exhibited quality that resembles compassion cannot be considered real compassion. In such ‘compassion’, selfishness must necessarily be present.” It made me think our vision or perspective is limited. We may think we are being compassionate but until we realize everything in connection to the Lord then our idea if compassion or most everything is flawed.

    #2621 Reply

    Lalit Kishori dasi

    Regarding engaging our Karma and Jnana. I remember reading years ago in what I thought it was in Essence of The Bhagavad Gita (but I cannot see it there!) This will not answer the question but i thought it was a good example Gurudeva was using.
    Gurudeva was giving the example that if we put a knife in the hand of a Murderer then he will use that knife to kill someone but if you put that very same knife into the hands of a surgeon he will use it to save someones life.
    So He is using this as an example that we don’t give up these material activities yet we engage them in krsna’s service. I think that even if we do not have deities a devotees life is still meant to be engaged in service and Sadhana. This service may be cleaning the temple, cooking, preaching, chanting and performing our sadhana, working on printing Srila Gurudeva’s books, leading the kirtans, cooking, serving the vaisnavas etc etc. If one is a house holder then having deities helps one to focus their household activities in the service of krsna (cleaning and cooking and shopping all become service if we have this mood) but with or without deities we can still have this mentality that I sleep to be strong for service, I take food so we can honour krsna’s prasadam and to stay healthy For service, my home is krsna’s and Gurudeva’s so when i clean i am cleaning their home, I earn money to serve My Gurudeva and Krsna and to take care of the vaisnavas.

    If we are engaging all our activities for Krsna’s service doesn’t our knowledge automatically become engaged also. gurudeva was saying we even need Jnana to know where to place our feet so we can walk.
    but if all our activities are being used for the service of Sri guru and Krnsa then surely that jnana is also engaged in those services?

    #2624 Reply

    Gita dasi

    Thank you Lalit Kishori didi and Madhukar prabhu for your answers about our Sri Sad Bhuja. He’s definately favorable, gorgeous, and He’s staying.

    How to use jnana in a way that nourishes bhakti? By getting tattva, like Srila Prabhupada said that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. We need to know this as long as we don’t have unalloyed bhakti. Srila Gurudeva said that he has come to tell us that Krsna is NOT the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This we can keep in mind for later.

    “What was Bharata Maharaja’s mistake? When he saw the baby deer drowning in the stream and about to be eaten by the tiger, should he have just left the deer alone to meet with its terrible fate?” Well I’m about to cheat because I heard Gurudeva give the answer to this. Ok, Srila Gurudeva said that if he saw that dear deer, he also would have saved it, BUT he would have left it at that, and not gotten attached.

    #2625 Reply

    Lalit Kishori dasi

    Thank you Gita for mentioning what Srila Gurudeva said about Bharat Maharaja and the deer. We were reading this chapter at our local program and I made that point that his mistake wasn’t saving the deer but it the mistake was becoming attached to the deer afterwards.

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