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DWT 12: Cleaning the Heart by Hearing of God

śṛṇvatāṁ sva-kathāḥ kṛṣṇaḥ
puṇya-śravaṇa-kīrtanaḥ
hṛdy antaḥ stho hy abhadrāṇi
vidhunoti suhṛt satām

Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramātmā [Supersoul] in everyone's heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who has developed the urge to hear His messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted.

—Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.2.17

Messages of the Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa are nondifferent from Him. Whenever, therefore, offenseless hearing and glorification of God are undertaken, it is to be understood that Lord Kṛṣṇa is present there in the form of transcendental sound, which is as powerful as the Lord personally. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, in His Śikṣāṣṭaka, declares clearly that the holy name of the Lord has all the potencies of the Lord and that He has endowed His innumerable names with the same potency. There is no rigid fixture of time, and anyone can chant the holy name with attention and reverence at his convenience. The Lord is so kind to us that He can be present before us personally in the form of transcendental sound, but unfortunately we have no taste for hearing and glorifying the Lord's name and activities. We have already discussed developing a taste for hearing and chanting the holy sound. It is done through the medium of service to the pure devotee of the Lord.

The Lord is reciprocally respondent to His devotees. When He sees that a devotee is completely sincere in getting admittance to the transcendental service of the Lord and has thus become eager to hear about Him, the Lord acts from within the devotee in such a way that the devotee may easily go back to Him. The Lord is more anxious to take us back into His kingdom than we can desire. Most of us do not desire at all to go back to Godhead. Only a very few men want to go back to Godhead. But anyone who desires to go back to Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa helps in all respects.

One cannot enter into the kingdom of God unless one is perfectly cleared of all sins. The material sins are products of our desires to lord it over material nature. It is very difficult to get rid of such desires. Women and wealth are very difficult problems for the devotee making progress on the path back to Godhead. Many stalwarts in the devotional line fell victim to these allurements and thus retreated from the path of liberation. But when one is helped by the Lord Himself, the whole process becomes as easy as anything by the divine grace of the Lord.

To become restless in the contact of women and wealth is not an astonishment, because every living being is associated with such things from remote time, practically immemorial, and it takes time to recover from this foreign nature. But if one is engaged in hearing the glories of the Lord, gradually he realizes his real position. By the grace of God such a devotee gets sufficient strength to defend himself from the state of disturbances, and gradually all disturbing elements are eliminated from his mind.

Hearing the glories of Lord Kṛṣṇa is very easy because He has performed so many activities and these have been recorded extensively in authorized Vedic literatures like the Mahābhārata and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The Bhāgavatam is full of descriptions of Kṛṣṇa's pastimes, and besides being purifying to hear, they are very relishable also. People often take pleasure in reading fictional stories, but if you simply read Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam instead, you will relish that reading and at the same time become self-realized.

As Parīkṣit Mahārāja heard Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam he said, nivṛtta-tarṣair upagīyamānād bhavauṣadhāc chrotra-mano-'bhirāmāt: [SB 10.1.4] "Narrations about Kṛṣṇa are the proper medicine for those suffering in material existence, and such narrations are very relishable to hear, especially for those who are free of all material hankering."

As long as you are in material existence, you will feel hankering and lamenting because this world is being conducted chiefly by the modes of passion and ignorance. Therefore ordinarily we hanker to possess something, and if somehow or other we acquire that thing and it is lost, we lament. Hankering and lamenting and other effects of the lower modes of nature are known as abhadrāṇi, dirt within the heart. But in the present verse of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam Sūta Gosvāmī says that if you simply hear about Kṛṣṇa these dirty things will gradually be cleansed away from your heart by the Lord Himself.

So while Parīkṣit Mahārāja has said that narrations about Kṛṣṇa are especially relishable for persons who have transcended all hankering and lamenting, he also says that for the common man these narrations are bhavauṣadhāc chrotra-mano-'bhirāmāt—very pleasing to the ears and the heart, and the proper medicine to cure the disease of material life.

Therefore our program in the Kṛṣṇa consciousness society is to give people in general a chance to hear about Kṛṣṇa. This is our mission, which has been given to us by Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He said (Cc. Madhya 7.128):

yāre dekha, tāre kaha 'kṛṣṇa'-upadeśa
āmāra ājñāya guru hañā tāra' ei deśa

"On my order become a spiritual master and try to explain kṛṣṇa-kathā to everyone you meet." Kṛṣṇa-kathā means words spoken by Kṛṣṇa, such as the Bhagavad-gītā, and words about Kṛṣṇa, such as Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Caitanya Mahāprabhu ordered us to distribute these two kinds of kṛṣṇa-kathā throughout the whole world.

Now, one may ask me, "What is your qualification to be a spiritual master?" My qualification is that under the supreme order of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, coming down in disciplic succession, I am just trying to preach kṛṣṇa-kathā. That's all. I have not manufactured the process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. No. I am simply a messenger, delivering Kṛṣṇa's message as it is. That's all. And the message is effective because I am not adulterating it. In the Bhagavad-gītā Kṛṣṇa says, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja: [Bg. 18.66] "Give up all your nonsense and just surrender unto Me." And I say the same thing: "Become a devotee of Kṛṣṇa. Surrender to Kṛṣṇa." So because I am not adulterating or misinterpreting Kṛṣṇa's message, there is no doubt that I am really representing His interests. Therefore the message is proving effective.

Before I came x to the Western world, many others had come from India and taught the Bhagavad-gītā. Some of these teachers were great scholars. But because they did not deliver Kṛṣṇa's message as it is, no Westerners ever accepted the principles of bhakti-yoga, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Now the Westerners are accepting by the thousands, especially the youngsters. Many of them are no longer interested in material advancement. They have tasted it and are dissatisfied; now they are looking for spiritual advancement. They have come to the stage described at the beginning of the Vedānta-sūtra: athāto brahma jijñāsā. "Now in this human form of life one should inquire into Brahman, the Absolute Truth." And when they inquire from us we immediately explain that, according to the Bhagavad-gītā, Kṛṣṇa is the Absolute Truth. As Arjuna declared when he understood who Kṛṣṇa was: paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān [Bg. 10.12]. "You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the ultimate abode, the purest, the Absolute Truth." So when the inquiry into the Absolute Truth comes, we can supply the kṛṣṇa-kathā to satisfy it.

Therefore everyone should join the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. One simply has to hear kṛṣṇa-kathā and distribute this knowledge, as ordered by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. The result will be what Sūta Gosvāmī describes here in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam: śṛṇvatāṁ sva-kathāḥ kṛṣṇaḥ puṇya-śravaṇa-kīrtanaḥ [SB 1.2.17]. Kṛṣṇa-kathā is so nice that just by hearing it one becomes pious. Even if one does not understand who Kṛṣṇa is, if one simply hears the vibration of the holy names—Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare—one will become pious. Kṛṣṇa-kathā is so effective in polishing the heart, as Caitanya Mahāprabhu has said in His Śikṣāṣṭaka: ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12]. Kṛṣṇa is within our hearts as the Paramātmā, or Supersoul, and as soon as He understands that we are very seriously hearing about Him, He helps us by cleansing our hearts.

The exact word used here for the dirty things in our hearts is abhadrāṇi, "that which is ignoble." Bhadra means "noble," and abhadra means "ignoble." So, what is it that is ignoble within our hearts? Our claim to proprietorship over the property of God. A good example is nationalism, which many people today claim is so valuable. Nationalism is eulogized so much in the modern age, but actually it is most ignoble. How can we say this? On the strength of the Īśopaniṣad ( [Īśo mantra 1]):

īśāvāsyam idam sarvaṁ yat kiñca jagatyāṁ jagat
tena tyaktena bhuñjīthā mā gṛdhaḥ kasya svid dhanam

"Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong."

Here the Īśopaniṣad says that everything belongs to God. Then how can you claim, "This is our American land" or "This is our Indian land"? This is illusion: what is not yours, you are claiming to be yours. Even your body is not yours. Nature has given you your body according to your karma, but ultimately your body belongs to Kṛṣṇa. Suppose I rent a house. It is not my house; it is the landlord's. This is a fact. But if I move into the house and then claim, "This is my house," I will get into trouble. Similarly, everything we are using for our comfort and livelihood has been given to us by God. The body is given by God, and the maintenance for the body is also given by God. You maintain your body by eating fruits, grains, milk, or even meat. But who is supplying these things? You cannot create them in your factories. The Vedas say, eko bahūnāṁ vidadhāti kāmān: "The Lord is supplying everyone's necessities." Understanding that everything belongs to God is Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Now we have so many ignoble things in our hearts, such as falsely claiming God's property as our own. But Kṛṣṇa is within our hearts, and when He sees that we are regularly and seriously hearing kṛṣṇa-kathā, He will wash off all these ignoble things: hṛdy antaḥ-sthaḥ abhadrāṇi vidhunoti. So by providing an opportunity for everyone to hear the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Bhagavad-gītā, and other sources of kṛṣṇa-kathā, the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is helping human society become purified and thus live in peace, happiness, and prosperity.