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May 2021

ON EQUAL VISION

QUESTION: Is God equal to all?

ANSWER: The episode that takes two-thirds of the Seventh Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is there to answer this question, but I have always wondered, does it really answer the question. My conclusion is that it does, but not in a way you would expect.  And the way it answers is: the one who is equal to everyone in the Bhāgavatam’s version is Prahlāda. And Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva comes to protect the one who is equal to everyone. And it is in that way that the Lord is equal to everyone. In that way the Lord demonstrates His equality. He is equal to everyone, but how? He protects those who are equal to everyone. In this way He is partial to them.

from a discussion “Churning the Bhāgavatam” of Krishna Kshetra Swami with Chaitanya Charan Das at The Monk’s Podcast #85 on December 15, 2020.

 

 

THE IDEAL PRAYER

Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura installed the Deity of Lakṣmī-Nṛsiṁhadeva. Devotees may wonder, why did he install Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva? The answer comes in his Bengali poem Navadvīpa-bhāva-taraṅga in which he mentions that by worshiping Nṛsiṁha or Lakṣmī-Nṛsiṁha we purify the heart so that Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa can take Their place in it. In this way he gives a kind of functional basis for the worship of Lord Nṛsiṁhadeva. We worship Him to purify our heart. And by purifying the heart we purify the world.

There is a very powerful prayer of Prahlāda, really my favorite one, which describes the perfect attitude that we aspire for:

svasty astu viśvasya khalaḥ prasīdatāṁ
dhyāyantu bhūtāni śivaṁ mitho dhiyā
manaś ca bhadraṁ bhajatād adhokṣaje
āveśyatāṁ no matir apy ahaitukī

May there be good fortune throughout the universe, and may all envious persons be pacified. May all living entities become calm by practicing bhakti-yoga, for by accepting devotional service they will think of each other’s welfare. Therefore, let us all engage in the service of the supreme transcendence, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and always remain absorbed in thought of Him.

Because of their qualities devotees are very dear to the Lord, and the Lord wants to reciprocate, He wants to fulfill the devotee’s desire. And the devotee’s desire is very nicely modelled by this prayer of Prahlāda. The Lord hears this prayer and because the devotee is dear to the Lord, He feels inclined to realize that prayer, to make it possible to happen.

—from a discussion “Churning the Bhāgavatam” of Krishna Kshetra Swami with Chaitanya Charan Das at The Monk’s Podcast #85 on December 15, 2020.

 

 

NO TRAGEDY AT ALL

I like to always point out the humor in the Bhāgavatam and there is some humor as well in the story of Hiraṇyakaśipu who made the demigods serve him. Imagine you walk into the court of Hiraṇyakaśipu and you see the various courtiers offering prayers to him and then you look over to one side and you see Nārada Muni also there, offering prayers too. You are going to think: “What?! What is going on here?” In my mind I see Nārada looking back and giving me a quick wink, indicating “I am not doing this seriously.”

There is certainly no tragedy in the Bhāgavatam. Tragedy requires that there will be the finality of death. So is dramatic tragedy in classical Western terms. In classic tragedy there is somebody killed and it is the end, there is nothing else. We do not find this in the Bhāgavatam at all. The very clear central message there is that the soul is eternal. And when Hiraṇyakaśipu is killed, we know, he is not actually killed, he is just moving on to his next program which is to become Rāvaṇa and so on. And since there is no tragedy as such in literary terms, then what are we left with? We are left with… comedy.

Well you could say there is also pathos. Pathos is some sad feelings, but we do not really find much of that in the Bhāgavatam either. In English we have a word ‘pathetic,’ and there are descriptions in the Bhāgavatam of different kinds of death. There is a kind of spectrum from the most pathetic to the most heroic. And I would argue it is never tragic, rather pathetic or heroic. Mahārāja Parīkṣit’s death is heroic. Bhīṣmadeva’s death is heroic. Satī’s death is heroic. And Ajāmila’s death is almost pathetic and just at the last moment inadvertently it becomes, not heroic, but somehow, he slips through and becomes a successful bhakta, to glorify the holy name, of course. What is glorious there is the holy name.

Even wasting a human life is more pathos than tragedy. It is very pitiful if someone wastes his human life. In all twelve rasas of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī there is no tragic feeling.

—from a discussion “Churning the Bhāgavatam” of Krishna Kshetra Swami with Chaitanya Charan Das at The Monk’s Podcast #85 on December 15, 2020.