Shine with the Supreme Person
Our brilliant original nature is covered because we've
forgotten our relationship with Krishna
A lecture given in Honolulu, on January 28, 1974
by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Founder- Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
ka va saheta viraham purushottamasya
sthairyam samanam aharan madhu-manininam
romotsavo mama yad-anghri-vitankitayah
"Who, therefore, can tolerate the pangs of separation from that Supreme Personality of Godhead? He could
conquer the gravity and passionate wrath of His sweethearts like Satyabhama and others by His sweet smile of
love, pleasing glance, and hearty appeals. When He traversed my [earth's] surface, I would be immersed in the
dust of His lotus feet and thus would be sumptuously covered with grass, which appeared like hairs standing on
me out of pleasure."—Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.16.35
Ka va saheta viraham purushottamasya. Purushottama. There are two words—purusha and prakrti. Prakrti means
"enjoyed" or "the energy," and purusha means "the enjoyer" or "the powerful." We living entities are prakrti. That
is stated in the Bhagavad-gita: prakrti vidhi me param. And Krishna is the purusha, the Supreme Person or the
The purusha has different features: His personal feature, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and His
expansions. His expansion feature is of two kinds: svamsa, or His personal expansions, and vibhinnamsa, His
separated expansions. We living entities are all vibhinnamsa, separated expansions, small particles. We are like
particles of sunshine. The sunshine is a combination of very small particles of light. Similarly, we living entities
are small particles, part and parcel of God. We are also bright, shining. We are not dull. But on account of our
combination with material nature we have been covered. Therefore our shining quality is now stopped. That is due
to forgetfulness of our relationship with the Supreme purusha—purushottama, or uttama purusha.
There are three grades of purusha: uttama, madhyama, and adhama. We are the lowest grade, adhama; therefore
there is a chance of our brightness being sometimes covered. But we can again revive our brightness and shine
with the Supreme Person. As the sun and the sunshine shine together, when we are again posted in our own
constitutional position—where Krishna is like the sun and we are shining particles—then our life is successful.
That is wanted.
Therefore Krishna, the Purushottama, comes to take us back: "Why are you now covered? Why has your shining
stopped? You are morose. You are suffering the threefold miserable conditions of material existence. Why are you
rotting here?" Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja.
Krishna comes Himself. He is within everyone's heart. He is ready to instruct, but He'll instruct only persons who
have engaged themselves in devotional service. The master may have many workers, but he speaks to the
important persons, not to the ordinary person. Similarly, the master Krishna is there in everyone's heart:
isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese arjuna tisthati
brahmayan sarva-bhutani yantrarudhani mayaya
Whatever we are getting for our sense enjoyment is with the sanction of the purusha, the Supreme Person. The
Paramatma feature is madhyama [the intermediate] purusha. Purushottama [purusha uttama] is the Supreme
Person, and the Supreme Person by His expansion as the Supersoul is present in everyone's heart. isvarah sarva-
bhutanam. He's guiding as friend, but He speaks directly with the living entity as soon as we are purified by
devotional service. Tesam satata-yuktanam bhajatam priti-purvakam. That qualification we have to attain. Then
Krishna, Purushottama, will speak from within, just as He spoke from within Brahma (tene brahma hrda ya adi-
We have to become qualified to talk with the Supreme Person, and He will give us advice. He's ready to give us
advice from within and from without—from within as Supersoul and from without as the spiritual master. Therefore
Krishna Voice, Sept 2009 5
it is said, guru-Krishna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija. Both are required: guru and Krishna. Krishna is within your
heart. If you are sincere, if you actually want Krishna, He will help you in meeting the spiritual master, His
representative. And by the instruction of the spiritual master you will develop more and more your Krishna
consciousness, your original position.
This is called devotional service, or bhakti-lata, "the creeper of devotional service." To grow a creeper one first of
all sows the seed and waters it; then gradually the seed sprouts and the creeper grows. It will become a big tree
or creeper and give you fruits. Similarly, the bhakti-lata-bija, the seed of the bhakti creeper, is given by the spiritual
master in cooperation with Krishna. That is initiation.
Initiation means sowing the seed of devotional service. Now, if after getting initiation you think, "I have become
perfect. Now again whatever nonsense I was doing I shall go on doing it," then it will be useless. Suppose you
plant a seed. If you don't take proper care and water it nicely, then it will not grow; it will be stunted. So initiation
means that by the mercy of Krishna, through His agent, the spiritual master, you get the seed of bhakti-lata, the
creeper of devotional service. So you have to take care of yourself by following the instructions. You cannot think,
"Now that I have a spiritual master and I have initiation, my business is finished. Let me do all nonsense." No.
At initiation, before the fire we promise, "No illicit sex, no meat-eating, no gambling, no intoxication." The fire is a
representation of yajna-purusha, the Lord of sacrifice, and through fire the yajna-purusha, or Purushottama, eats.
So during the initiation ceremony the fire is present, the spiritual master is present, shastra, or scripture, is present,
and Krishna is present. They are all witnesses.
If you are in court, before the high-court judge you promise, "Whatever I'll speak in this court will be the truth."
So the judge knows that promise, and he gives his judgment based on that promise. Similarly, the promises made
at initiation must be kept; otherwise the initiation will be useless. By the mercy of guru, by the mercy of Krishna,
you get the thing. Now to use the thing properly will depend on you. I can give you a very nice thing, but if you
keep it locked up in your treasury and never use it, then what good will it do you? Mali haya sei bija kare aropana.
You have to sow the seed and pour water and see that it is nicely growing.
So don't think that after the official ceremony of initiation your business and my business are finished. No. The
business begins. It is not the finishing; it is the beginning. Adau gurv-asrayah. The beginning is to take shelter of
guru. Then the student must be very inquisitive—sad-dharma-prccha. You'll find all these instructions in The Nectar
Today some of you are going to be initiated. This is the beginning of your spiritual life. But if you don't take care
for further development, then that is up to you. You may fall down, because Maya is very strong. Maya will place
so many impediments. She does not like that so easily you go back home, back to Godhead. Maya's business is
like the police's business. The police's business is to see that the criminal has returned to his original consciousness
as a law-abiding citizen. Otherwise the police will go on punishing him. Similarly, Maya is the police agent. Her
business is to chastise you. Every moment this is going on. Material life means to be within the jurisdiction of Maya,
and she's always punishing us, because we have tried to forget Krishna and that is not good for us. That is explained
in the Srimad-Bhagavatam:
ya esam purusham saksad atma-prabhavam isvaram
avajananti na bhajanty sthanad bhrastah patanty adhah
I'll give you a practical example. This finger is part and parcel of my body, but if it becomes diseased, then it cannot
act as my finger. It becomes a source of pain only. Then sometimes the doctor advises, "Unless you cut off this
finger, the whole hand will be faulty." And you have to cut off the one finger to save the other fingers. Similarly,
we are all part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, and we become disobedient or diseased. To become disobedient
to God means we are in a diseased condition, because we always have to be obedient to somebody. Even in our
so-called disobedient state—when we don't care about God—we care about somebody else. That is obligatory.
You cannot say, "I don't care about anybody." That is not possible. If you don't care about God, then you have to
care about somebody else. If you don't care about the state law, then you have to care about the police department.
You cannot say, "I am independent." That is not possible.
Our position is one of forgetting God. We have been kicked constantly by Maya. Maya has given us the senses,
and the senses are dictating to us, "Do this, do that, do this, do that." And we become servant of our senses.
So two things are there. You are servant by constitution, but when you forget or give up the service of the Lord,
then you become servant of your senses or Maya. That is your position. Now you must voluntarily give up the
service of the senses and surrender to the master of the senses, Hrshikesha.
6 Krishna Voice, Sept 2009
One of Krishna's names is Hrshikesha. Hrshikesha is the master of senses, Krishna. In our present condition we
have forgotten the master of our senses and have taken our senses as our master. That is our position. That
position has to be purified—we have to become not the servant of the senses but the servant of the master of the
senses. Then we also become master of the senses. That purificatory process is called devotional service, or
bhakti. That is described in Narada Pancaratra: sarvopadhi vinirmuktam tat paratvena nirmalam.
Now, how we have become the servant of our senses? Because of so many designations—"I am American," "I
am Indian," "I am Hindu," "I am Muslim," "I am Christian," "I am this," "I am that." Accepting designations means
becoming a servant of the senses. So we have to forget our designations. At initiation everyone should consider,
"I am no longer American," "I am no longer Indian," "I am no longer this or that," "No longer do I think, 'I am Hindu,
he is Christian.' Now I must think, 'I am the servant of Krishna.' “When you think in this way, then you become
designationless—"I am the servant of Krishna." Jivera svarupa haya krsnera nitya dasa. You become designationless
and immediately purified.
sarvopadhi vinirmuktam tat paratvena nirmala
hrsikena hrsikesa sevanam bhaktir ucyate
Nirmalam means "spotless." When your senses are engaged in the service of the master of the senses, that is
These things are all very elaborately explained in our books.
Those who are going to be initiated should take it as a vow not to fall down again. Catch Krishna's lotus feet very
tightly and you'll not fall down. Mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te. Be determined. Don't make it a
farce—"Today I am initiated, and tomorrow I will again give up everything and again grow my hair and then go to
hell." No. Don't do that. If you want to be serious, then the path is clear for going back to Godhead.
mam ca yo 'vyabhicarena bhakti-yogena sevate
sa gunan samatityaitan brahma-bhuyaya kalpate
As soon as you engage yourself in devotional service you become purified of all material contamination. Sa gunan
samatityaitan. We are being troubled by the three modes of material nature, but if we stick to our devotional service
we'll be protected. It is not very difficult to follow the four regulative principles. For example, no illicit sex. There
is no question of stopping sex, but no illicit sex. But people today are so unfortunate that although a man has a
wife he goes to another girl and although the girl has a husband she goes to another man. So unfortunate.
These things should be stopped if you want to be serious. Otherwise, make a farce and do whatever you like. I
cannot give you protection. That is not possible.
You must follow these rules and regulations if you are serious. Then take initiation. Don't make a farce. That is
my request. One has to be very determined—bhajante mam drdha-vratah. This word is used in the Bhagavad-
gita: drdha-vratah, "strong determination"—"Yes, in this life I shall go back home, back to Godhead." This is
And what is the difficulty? No difficulty. Chant the Hare Krishna mantra. You are accepting the beads. You must
chant sixteen rounds. You can finish in two or three hours. You have twenty-four hours. Of course, if you want to
sleep twenty-three hours, that is another thing. You have to minimize your sleeping. If you cannot finish sixteen
rounds, then you must not sleep on that day, you must not eat. Why don't you forget to eat? Why do you forget
chanting Hare Krishna? This is negligence, aparadha, offense. Rather, you should forget your sleeping and eating,
and you must finish sixteen rounds. That is called determination.
So you are welcome to take initiation. But if you are neglectful, if you want to make it a farce, that is your business.
I cannot give you protection.
Thank you very much.
Sep 15 Ekadashi Oct 4 Fourth month of Chaturmasya begins
Sep 16 break fast Fasting from urad dal for one month
Sep 30 Ekadashi Karthika month begins
Oct 1 break fast Deepotsava begins (Bangalore)
Krishna Voice, Sept 2009 7
SRILA PRABHUPADA SPEAKS OUT
Avoiding Maya’s Traps
This exchange between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his disciples took
place in Seattle, Washington, on October 14, 1968, at the close of a lecture on Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
Srila Prabhupada [hearing the bells and music from a passing ice cream truck]: What is that?
Disciple: An ice cream truck, Srila Prabhupada.
Srila Prabhupada: Oh, ice cream. [Laughter.] You are taking ice cream? Huh?
Disciple: No, Srila Prabhupada. Sometimes they make it with eggs or slaughterhouse by-products or who knows
what. But anyway, the trucks go up and down the street.
Srila Prabhupada: Canvassing?
Srila Prabhupada [laughing as the ice-cream-truck music grows
louder]: Don't take ice cream. This is Maya. [Laughter.] "Come on,
come on—enjoy me. Come on, come on—enjoy me." [He says it
musically and laughs.] As soon as you enjoy, you become
entrapped. That's all.
Just like fishing tackle. The fisherman throws the bait and invites
the fish, "Come on—enjoy me. Come on, come on—enjoy me."
And as soon as the fish tries to enjoy—hupp! [Laughter.] Finished.
[Prabhupada imitates the choking sound of a hooked fish.] And
then the fisherman looks at the fish and says, "Where will you
go now? Come on into my bag. Yes. I'll fry you nicely."
So these things are all explained in the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
The fish loses his life because of his uncontrolled tongue.
He cannot check the dictation of the tongue; therefore,
he loses his life. You see?
forest. The hunter will play very nice flute, and all the
deer will assemble to hear him playing so nicely. In
that way the hunter gets one of the deer into his trap
and the deer loses his life. In other words, just as
the fish loses his life by tasting, the deer loses his
life by hearing.
is caught by sexual attraction. Do you know how
the elephant is captured? Yes, a trained she-
elephant goes to the male elephant, and he follows
and drops into a big pit. He remains there for some
time. Then he's shackled and taken away. In this
way the Bhagavatam offers various examples of
how our material senses can trap us in illusion.
That big black bee—what is it called? Bhramara?
What is the English name for that big black bee?
[Making an illustrative buzzing sound:] Onnnhhh.
Srila Prabhupada: It may be. In any
case, he is entrapped by smelling the
lotus flower. He enters within the lotus
flower and loses his life.
So, being pulled by just one uncontrolled
sense, each of these different creatures is losing
8 Krishna Voice, Sept 2009
his life. And yet in this modern so-called civilization, we It's a very simple thing. Hrsikenah hrsikesa-sevanam:
have got all our senses uncontrolled. So, just imagine, use your senses to satisfy Krishna, the Lord, the master
what our position is? These examples are from the of your senses. That is bhakti. That is devotional service.
animal and insect kingdoms, wherein only one
You have senses. So you have to satisfy them. Because
uncontrolled sense is prominent. But in this modern so-
you have these senses, you have to satisfy them. The
called civilization, all our senses are uncontrolled. So
what is our position? You see? question is how you can actually satisfy them. The
proper method. But you do not know the proper method.
In this connection another example is given in the The conditioned soul does not know that when he simply
Srimad-Bhagavatam. Imagine a man who has got six tries to satisfy Krishna's senses, his senses will be
wives, and he has entered his house, and suddenly all automatically satisfied.
the wives are dragging him—"You come to my room."
You see? One wife has taken his left hand, another has For instance, as I have said many times, if I want to see
taken his right hand, still another has taken his left leg, to the health of a tree's branches and leaves, I do not
and yet another has taken his right leg, and so forth. pour water directly on them. Rather, I pour water on the
And he's wondering, "Where shall I go?" root. Or if I want to see to the health of my arms and
fingers, instead of trying to feed them directly I give the
You see? So in this modern society, this is our position foodstuffs to my stomach, and automatically my arms
as human beings—overwhelmed by so many senses and fingers are satisfied.
which to date we have neglected to control. Instead of
controlling the senses, most people are becoming This secret we are missing. We are thinking we shall
servants of the senses. Most people are losing their be happy by trying to satisfy our senses directly. Krishna
opportunity, this great opportunity of human life—to consciousness means don't try to satisfy your senses
control the senses in Krishna's service and then go back directly—try to satisfy the senses of Krishna.
to His eternal abode. Automatically your senses will be satisfied. This is the
secret of Krishna consciousness.
[A disciple raises his hand.] Yes?
The opposite party—the karmis, or materialists—they
Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, those people who focus are thinking, "Oh, why shall I satisfy Krishna? Why shall
their attention on advancing to the higher material I work for Krishna the whole day and night? Let me work
planets, where sense enjoyment is even more easily for my own satisfaction." The devotees are working the
available—do they have even more opportunity to whole day and night for Krishna, and the karmis are
become entrapped? thinking, "What fools they are. We are very intelligent.
Srila Prabhupada: No. Anyone within this material The whole day and night we are working for our own
world is entrapped by this sense enjoyment. Either in sense gratification, and what benefit are they getting
the higher planets or in these middle planets or in the from working for Krishna?"
lower planets. For instance, among the human beings
This is the difference between the materialists and the
there is sense impetus, and among the lower animals
spiritualists. The spiritualists' endeavor is to work the
there is sense impetus.
whole day and night strenuously, without any halt, simply
So both the human beings and the animals have sense for Krishna. That is spiritual life. And the materialists
impetus. Therefore we must ask, What is this so-called make the same endeavor, always trying to satisfy their
human being? We so-called civilized beings—what are personal senses. This is the difference between the
we doing? The same thing that the lower animals are materialists and spiritualists.
doing, namely eating, sleeping, mating, and defending.
The same thing that the dog is doing. So the Krishna consciousness movement means that
we have to train our senses to satisfy Krishna. That's
Anyway, wherever you go in the material world, either all. For so many thousands and millions of lifetimes we
in the higher planets or in these middle planets or in the have simply tried to satisfy our personal senses. Let
lower planets, sense gratification is prominent. Only in this lifetime be dedicated for satisfying Krishna's senses.
the spiritual world is there no sense gratification. In the That is Krishna consciousness. At least dedicate this
spiritual world there is simply an endeavor to satisfy one lifetime. For so many lifetimes we have simply tried
Krishna. Here everyone is merely trying to satisfy his to satisfy our personal senses. Let this lifetime—at least
own senses. That is the law of the material world. That this one lifetime—be dedicated for satisfying Krishna's
is material life. And as long as you go on trying merely senses. Let me try and then see what happens. And
to satisfy your own senses, you will stay in this material we will not be the loser. Even if we sometimes wonder
world. whether we are being inconvenienced by not directly
But as soon as you turn your senses toward satisfying satisfying our senses, still we will not be the loser.
the senses of Krishna, you reawaken your spiritual life.
Krishna Voice, Sept 2009 9
During the rainy season in India, devotees
of Lord Krishna around the world
celebrate His appearance, Sri Krishna
Janmashtami. This year thousands
flocked to the ISKCON Sri Radha Krishna
temple on Hare Krishna Hill in Bangalore
to have darshana of the Lord and
participate in the joyous celebration of
His transcendental appearance, despite
the swine flu fear that had gripped the
city. Devotee visitors offered and
participated in the various special sevas
that were available for the occasion. The
three day festival concluded with the
Vyasa Puja celebrations or birth day
anniversary of ISKCON Founder The Deity of baby Krishna, Laddu Gopal, is bathed
Acharya, His Divine Grace A C in a ceremony at ISKCON Bangalore’s center in
Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. Vasantpura, where the Krishna Lila Theme Park is
proposed to come up.
The utsava vigraha of Sri Radha Krishna-chandra are offered a grand abhisheka at midnight to commemorate
the transcendental appearance of the Lord on Earth, at midnight, over 5000 years ago.
10 Krishna Voice, Sept 2009
Seva yajamanas swing the Lord with His consorts after the abhisheka.
Devotees participate in the jhulan seva of Makhan Krishna.
Krishna Voice, Sept 2009 11
The Lord was offered a special feast of 108 delicious food items on the occasion of His divine
A musical ensemble of over 200 artists sang about the glories of Lord Krishna during the midnight
12 Krishna Voice, Sept 2009
Throughout the two days of Janmashtami, musicians offered their God given talents for the pleasure
of the Lord.
Eminent vocalist Sri Vidya Bhushana sings in glorification of the Supreme Lord Krishna on the
occasion of Janmashtami, at Hare Krishna Hill’s Sri Radha Krishna-chandra Mandir.
Krishna Voice, Sept 2009 13
Devotees bathe the
utsava deities af
Srila Prabhupada in
Over 6,000 food
were offered to Srila
The large eggless
cake that was made
by the expert
(devotee) bakers of
the temple, which
was offered to Srila
14 Krishna Voice, Sept 2009
Celebrations at Vrindavana
Sri Radha Vrindavan-chandra’s special Janmashtami alankara
Midnight abhisheka to utsava vigraha of Sri Radha Vrindavan-chandra
Krishna Voice, Sept 2009 15
Celebrations at Mysore
alankara darshana of
Sri Krishna Balarama
Jhulan seva to Makhan
Abhisheka to Sri Krishna Balarama at midnight Vyasa Puja abhisheka to utsava deity of Srila
22 Krishna Voice, Sept 2009
Celebrations at Bellary
darshana alankara of
Sri Krishna Balarama
and Makhan Krishna
Thousands of devotees visit
the temple at Bellary to have
darshana of the Lord and
take part in the festivities.
Krishna Voice, Sept 2009 23
Celebrations at Hubli
Abhisheka to the Deities of Sri Krishna
Special alankara darshana of
On his Vyasa Puja, Srila
Prabhupada is offered
many delicious food
items, including a large
24 Krishna Voice, Sept 2009
Balarama Jayanti Celebrations
In ISKCON Bangalore’s Sri Radha
Krishna-chandra temple, Lord
Balarama is adorned in a special
alankara (right) and His utsava
vigraha is bathed in His favourite
honey, as part of the abhisheka
ceremony that was offered on the
At Hubli, the Deities of Sri Krishna and
Balarama are carried on a decorated palanquin
as part of the celebrations.
Krishna Voice, Sept 2009 25
A Festival of Enlightenment, Creativity & Entertainment
for School Students
Puranic Costumes competition
Classical Dance competition
Story Telling competition
26 Krishna Voice, Sept 2009
Humble and Feeling Good
By Archana Siddhi Devi Dasi
On the path of spiritual progress, is humility compatible with a healthy self-esteem?
As a family therapist, I counsel people both within and I had a difficult time accepting criticism and felt certain
outside the Hare Krishna movement. I recently received that my opinions were right. That mentality created
an e-mail from a young woman devotee who was numerous problems, both professionally and personally.
unhappy in her relationship with her abusive husband For months I had been contesting my supervisor’s
but was conflicted about leaving him. advice about how to do my job as a resident director
in a university dormitory. My obstinacy was making my
“Maybe it’s good that I feel bad about myself,” she
job very difficult, and I was suffering. Finally, one day
wrote, “because that will help me develop humility.”
I had the powerful realization that I was wrong. Not
This wasn’t the first time I had heard this logic. The only was I wrong about this particular issue, but I was
Bhagavad-gita teaches that humility is essential for wrong about so many things.
spiritual progress. Unfortunately, devotees sometimes I can’t describe how liberating it felt to accept my fallible
think that feeling bad about oneself is a prerequisite nature. I no longer carried the burden of having to be
for humility. right about everything. I felt lowly, but at same time
I often see devotees struggling with the concept of self- new possibilities opened up to me. For the first time in
esteem. Having read the prayers of saints in our line, my adult life I could hear my authority with true
they often think their own feelings should align with the submission. This mental shift prepared me to take
self-effacing statements of these great souls. They may shelter of my spiritual master and devotees. In instances
associate low self-esteem with spiritual advancement when Krishna helps to free us from false pride, we can
and perpetuate a lifelong attitude of feeling bad about taste the sweetness of humility.
themselves. They may then attract people into their Sometimes, however, when we are still contaminated
lives who treat them in accord with how they feel about by the modes of material nature and identifying with
themselves. our material mind and body, feeling lower than the
The confusion comes from trying to equate feelings straw in the street can lead to self-loathing and
that come from our pure ego with feelings that come despondency. These feelings then impede the execution
from our material, or false, ego. The great souls express of our devotional practices. We have to judge whether
sentiments arising from pure spiritual ego our psychology is favorable for serving the Lord or an
uncontaminated by the modes of material nature. When impediment. Paradoxically, most people need to develop
they feel, in Lord Chaitanya’s words, “lower than the a healthy material ego before they can transcend it and
straw in the street,” that is an exhilarating emotion. realize their spiritual ego.
They see the greatness of the Lord, and they see all I once heard a motivational speaker say that people
others as more qualified than themselves. They are with healthy self-esteem think of themselves less, not
imbued with love and appreciation for all of Krishna’s less of themselves. When we feel good about ourselves,
creation. we can devote more time and energy extending
Bhaktivinoda Thakura, a superlative Vaishnava teacher, ourselves to others, rather than being absorbed in self-
wrote many beautiful songs expressing his attraction deprecation. High self-esteem also gives us more
and love for the Lord, songs about achieving the goal freedom to act according to our values and convictions.
of his heart—unconditional love for the Lord—and self- When we feel bad about ourselves, we may do things
denigrating songs in which he laments his lack of to please or placate others. In an effort to receive
devotion. As a pure soul, he expresses his attachment external validation, we may be easily influenced to do
and love for the Lord and at the same time his feelings things that conflict with our beliefs.
of being unqualified and hopeless of achieving such Feeling Worthy and Competent
love. These are both authentic feelings that spring from Nathaniel Branden, a well-known psychologist, defines
humility, attachment, and love for the Lord. self-esteem as “the disposition of experiencing oneself
Acknowledging Our Faults as competent in coping with the basic challenges of
life and as being worthy of happiness.” How do these
In the early stages of our spiritual journey, we may
aspects of self-esteem—self-confidence and self-
experience a semblance of these emotions as Krishna
respect—relate to Krishna consciousness? Krishna
prepares the soil to cultivate our devotion. I recall an
wants all souls trapped in the material world to be
important experience I had before becoming a devotee.
peaceful and happy. Human life affords us the
28 Krishna Voice, Sept 2009
opportunity to engage our talents and abilities in serving Aside from confusing humility with low self-esteem,
the Lord. When we offer ourselves to the Lord’s service, devotees sometimes correlate the concept of high self-
we feel joyful. A friend once gave my husband and me esteem with pride and self-absorption. But it is actually
a framed aphorism that says, “What you are is God’s the contrary. People who exhibit high self-esteem also
gift to you, and what you become is your gift to God.” exemplify a more humble attitude toward others. They
Krishna Voice, Sept 2009 29
show a willingness to admit and correct mistakes, Prabhupada’s Example
whereas persons with low self-esteem are often Our spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, showed high
defensive and feel a need to prove they are right. self-esteem. Although small in stature, he seemed large
In a famous story from the Mahabharata, Krishna once to us. He always held his head high and moved with
met with Yudhishthira Maharaja and Duryodhana. purpose and confidence. He spoke in a straightforward
Desiring to glorify His devotee Yudhishthira, Krishna way, with conviction and courage. His actions were bold
requested him to find a person lower than himself, and and daring, yet he had a humble attitude, knowing that
asked sinful Duryodhana to find a person greater than his success was totally up to the Lord. His humility is
himself. Yudhishthira had all good qualities. He was exemplified in his prayers aboard the ship when he first
peaceful and self-satisfied. No doubt he had healthy came to the United States from India:
self-esteem. Yet he could not find anyone he considered “O Lord, I am just like a puppet in Your hands. So if You
lower than himself. Again, this is the example of an have brought me here to dance, then make me dance,
advanced Vaishnava who embodies genuine humility. make me dance, O Lord, make me dance as You like.
On the other hand, the unrighteous Duryodhana I have no devotion, nor do I have any knowledge, but
searched the kingdom all day and couldn’t find anyone I have strong faith in the holy name of Krishna. I have
he considered superior to himself. Duryodhana was been designated as Bhaktivedanta, and now, if You like,
contaminated by vanity and pride. He envied and abused You can fulfill the real purport of Bhaktivedanta.”
great souls. He was in constant anxiety over his position,
always trying to eliminate his competitors. His sense of With great humility, Prabhupada finished his letter,
self depended on externals such as position and power, “Signed, the most unfortunate, insignificant beggar A.
C. Bhaktivedanta Swami.”
and thus he knew of no inner peace. He was tormented
by his own lust and greed. On the one hand this prayers shows that Prabhupada
feels very lowly, but on the other hand he is confident
Pride Versus High Self-esteem
he can do anything by the Lord’s grace. The prayer also
Thinking oneself to be great is pride, not high self- gives us the key to developing qualities of pure devotion:
esteem. A person with high self-esteem exhibits humility. faith in the holy name of Krishna . The stronger our faith
The perfection of self-esteem is seen in persons in the holy name’s ability to transform our material
completely free from false ego, where humility is a consciousness, the more we will apply ourselves to the
product of their spiritual realization. process of chanting. We will chant with as much focus
In our conditioned state, we might identify more with and attention as we can and will carefully avoid offenses
Duryodhana’s mentality than with Maharaja that hinder our spiritual progress.
Yudhishthira’s. But as we progress on our spiritual We are less likely to exploit others when we see ourselves
journey, we will see ourselves differently. The more we as their servant, realizing our—and their—true spiritual
come to realize we aren’t the independent performer nature as part of God. We are glorious sparks of spiritual
but the instrument, the healthier our self-esteem energy, with all good qualities, yet we feel tiny in the
becomes. In material life, the modes of goodness, presence of the greatest, our Lord. With this true
passion, and ignorance influence us. These modes mix knowledge, the pure soul can have high self-esteem
and compete with one another to shape our state of and humility simultaneously.
mind, including how we feel about ourselves. When I shared some of these points with the young
Persons steeped in the mode of ignorance are happy woman who had e-mailed me her question, she wrote
and feel good about themselves when their senses are back: “It is a great relief to understand these points from
pleased. Persons immersed in the mode of passion are this perspective. I now understand that I don’t have to
happy and feel good about themselves when others keep living in shame and abuse to be spiritual.”
value and validate their accomplishments. In these lower presence of the greatest, our Lord. With this true
modes, our sense of self fluctuates constantly. knowledge, the pure soul can have high self-esteem
Persons in the mode of goodness are happy and feel and humility simultaneously.
good about themselves when they act in knowledge, When I shared some of these points with the young
adhering to their ethical codes and values. They are woman who had e-mailed me her question, she wrote
less reactive to external stimuli, so their self-esteem back: “It is a great relief to understand these points from
depends more on their inner life. Thus they have more this perspective. I now understand that I don’t have to
control over how they feel. keep living in shame and abuse to be spiritual.”
As people move into pure goodness, they realize She suggested I write an article on the subject for BTG.
themselves to be instruments of the Lord. They no I took her suggestion to heart, since other devotees
longer identify themselves as the doer of their activities. have asked similar questions over the years. I hope it
will be useful to others as well.
30 Krishna Voice, Sept 2009
Asthana Vidwan Awards
ISKCON Bangalore’s Krishna Kalakshetra
conferred the title Asthana Vidwan on three eminent
musicians for their contribution to the preservation
of Vedic culture and their service of glorifying Lord
Krishna through their talents. Carnatic musician
Sangeeta Kalanidhi Dr. R K Srikantan (right), Violin
Maestro Padma Bhushana Dr. L Subramaniam
(above) and Saxophone Chakravarti Padmashree
Dr. Kadri Gopalnath (right) were awarded on the
occasion of Sri Krishna Janmashtami this year.
The award was presented by Sri Madhu Pandit
Dasa, President, ISKCON Bangalore.
The Second Annual
Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi Aradhana
ISKCON (Bangalore) & International Foundation for Carnatic Music (Chennai)
on Sept. 20, 2009
at the Multi Vision Theatre, ISKCON, Hare Krishna Hill, Rajajinagar, Bangalore
• 5.15 pm - Inauguration and group invocation
• 5-30 pm - Goshti Gayanam of OVK's Saptaratnas by several musicians
lead by Chitravina N Ravikiran.
• 6-30 pm - A short talk about OVK by Sri Chitravina N Ravikiran
• 7-00 pm - Concert by Vidushi Sudha Ragunathan featuring rare and
popular compositions of OVK.
32 Krishna Voice, Sept 2009
Grand Sri Radha Krishna Cultural Center In Jaipur
ISKCON Bangalore’s initiative in Jaipur has made steady
progress and the foundation stone was laid for a grand Sri
Radha Krishna Cultural Center and temple at Jagatpura,
where there is a large free mid day meal kitchen already
functioning. Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Sri Ashok Gehlot
unveiled the consecration plaque and participated in the
ceremony of installing a Deity of Lord Ananta Sesha in the
location of the sanctum sanctorum of the temple.
Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa, President, ISKCON Bangalore,
welcomes CM of Rajasthan, Sri Ashok Gehlot.
CM of Rajasthan, Sri Ashok Gehlot (third from rightt) unveils
the consecration plaque for the Sri Radha Krishna Cultural
Center at Jaipur. Also present are Smt Bina Kak, Minister
for Tourism, Women and Child Development (third from
left), Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa, President ISKCON Bangalore
(first from right) and Sri Rajeev Arora, social activist (second
The installation of Lord Ananta’s Deity in the location of
the sanctum sanctorum.
Artist’s impression of the proposed cultural complex and temple at Jagatpura, Jaipur.
34 Krishna Voice, Sept 2009
Krishna Voice Monthly Magazine, September 2009 Vol10, No.9 Price Rs 15/-
Posted on 5th or 10th of the Month at MBC, Manipal, License to post without prepayment No. WPP(CO-8), Reg No. KA/BGGPO
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