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Chapter 16: The Pure Devotees’ Spiritual Opulences

TEXT 37

atho vibhūtiṁ mama māyāvinas tām
aiśvaryam aṣṭāṅgam anupravṛttam
śriyaṁ bhāgavatīṁ vāspṛhayanti bhadrāṁ
parasya me te ’śnuvate tu loke

TRANSLATION

Thus because he is completely absorbed in meditation upon Me, the devotee does not desire even the highest benediction obtainable in the upper planetary systems, including Satyaloka. He does not desire the eight material perfections obtained from mystic yoga, nor does he desire to be elevated to the kingdom of God. Yet even without desiring them, the devotee enjoys, even in this life, all the offered benedictions.

PURPORT

The vibhūtis, or opulences, offered by māyā are of many varieties. We experience different varieties of material enjoyment even on this planet, but if one is able to promote himself to higher planets like Candraloka, the sun or, still higher, Maharloka, Janaloka and Tapoloka, or even ultimately the highest planet, which is inhabited by Brahmā and is called Satyaloka, one will find immense possibilities for material enjoyment. For example, the duration of life on higher planets is far, far greater than on this planet. It is said that on the moon the duration of life is such that our six months are equal to one day. We cannot even imagine the duration of life on the highest planet. It is stated in Bhagavad-gītā that Brahmā’s twelve hours are inconceivable even to our mathematicians. These are all descriptions of the external energy of the Lord, or māyā. Besides these, there are other opulences which the yogīs can achieve by their mystic power. They are also material. A devotee does not aspire for all these material pleasures, although they are available to him simply by wishing. By the grace of the Lord, a devotee can achieve wonderful material success simply by willing, but a real devotee does not do so. Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu has taught that one should not desire material opulence or material reputation, nor should one try to enjoy material beauty; he should only aspire to be absorbed in the devotional service of the Lord, even if he does not get liberation but has to continue the process of birth and death unlimitedly. Actually, however, to one who engages in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, liberation is already guaranteed. Devotees enjoy all the benefits of the higher planets and the Vaikuṇṭha planets also. It is especially mentioned here, bhāgavatīṁ bhadrām. In the Vaikuṇṭha planets everything is eternally peaceful, yet a pure devotee does not even aspire to be promoted there. But still he gets that advantage; he enjoys all the facilities of the material and spiritual worlds, even during the present life span.

According to Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Rūpa Gosvāmī in his Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Nārada Muni in the Nārada Pañcarātra and Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa in Bhagavad-gītā, a pure devotee never wants anything from the Lord. He does not even want liberation, to say nothing of material things. Generally, people want dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa, in that order. First of all, people want to become religious (dharma) in order to attain material opulence (artha). People want material opulence in order to gratify their senses (kāma), and when they are frustrated in their attempt to gratify their senses, they want liberation (mokṣa). In this way, dharma, artha, kāma and mokṣa are going on. However, a devotee is not interested in any of these. In the Christian religion, people pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” but a pure bhakta does not even ask for his daily bread. A pure devotee is kept in the hand of Kṛṣṇa just like a very precious jewel. When you hold something precious in your hand, you are very careful, and similarly, Kṛṣṇa holds the devotee and takes care of him.

One can just imagine his position if a very rich man says, “Don’t worry. I will take care of everything for you.” Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Lord, is the proprietor of all opulence. There is no one more opulent than Kṛṣṇa; therefore if Kṛṣṇa says that He will take care of His devotee, there is no question of poverty. Most people want material opulence, but they do not know that Kṛṣṇa is the proprietor of all opulence. That is their misfortune. Although the proprietor of all opulence says, “Just surrender unto Me, and I will take care of you,” people do not do it. Instead, they say, “I will take care of my own business. I will maintain myself. I will take care of myself, my family, my friends and my country.” Arjuna was very intelligent because he simply chose Kṛṣṇa, whereas Duryodhana took Kṛṣṇa’s soldiers. It is not possible to conquer Kṛṣṇa, but the devotee can capture Kṛṣṇa with bhakti, love.

It is impossible for people to understand the great opulence of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Therefore Caitanya Mahāprabhu tells us to abandon speculating about God. There is a story of a frog in a well being approached by a friend who says, “My dear frog, I have just seen a huge body of water.” “What is that water?” the frog asks. “The Atlantic Ocean,” the friend replies. “Oh, the Atlantic Ocean! Is it bigger than this well? Is it four feet? Ten feet?”

Our attempt to speculate about God is very much like this. If we want to understand God, we have to try to understand from God Himself. We may have a neighbor who is very wealthy, influential, wise, strong and beautiful, and we may speculate about his opulence, but if we make friends with him, we can understand his position by listening to him speak about himself. God cannot be subjected to our imagination. Our imagination is limited, and our senses are imperfect. The process of bhakti-mārga is the process of submission. There is no question of subjecting God to our imagination. We simply have to become very humble and submissive and pray to Kṛṣṇa sincerely, “Kṛṣṇa, it is not possible for me to know You. Kindly explain how it is I can know You, and then it will be possible.” This is the way Arjuna approached Kṛṣṇa in the eleventh chapter of Bhagavad-gītā.

We can hardly understand or comprehend the innumerable universes. The word jagat refers to this universe, but there is more than one universe. Although we are seeing only one universe, there are millions of universes, and Kṛṣṇa is supporting all these millions of universes with a single fragment of Himself. This is also confirmed in many other Vedic literatures:

yasyaika-niśvasita-kālam athāvalambya
jīvanti loma-vila-jā jagad-aṇḍa-nāthāḥ
viṣṇur mahān sa iha yasya kalā-viśeṣo
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi

“Brahmā and other lords of the mundane worlds, appearing from the pores of hair of Mahā-viṣṇu, remain alive as long as the duration of His one exhalation. I adore the primeval Lord Govinda, of whose subjective personality Mahā-viṣṇu is the portion of a portion.” (Brahma-saṁhitā 5.48)

This is the information given in Brahma-saṁhitā, the prayers offered by Lord Brahmā. This Brahma-saṁhitā was accepted by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who copied it when He toured South India. Formerly there were no presses to print these literatures, and these important Vedic writings were written by hand. These literatures were not very cheap, and only highly qualified brāhmaṇas were able to keep them. They were worshiped in the temple as the śāstra Deity. It is not that they were available everywhere. Now, of course, the printing press has changed all this, but nonetheless we should always understand that the granthas, the scriptures, should be worshiped as God because they are the sound incarnation of God. One should not consider Bhagavad-gītā or Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam to be ordinary books, and one should take care of them just as carefully as one takes care of the Deity.

At any rate, when Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu returned from South India with a copy of Brahma-saṁhitā, He gave it to His disciples and told them that it was a summary of the Vedānta and the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. We therefore accept Brahma-saṁhitā as authorized scripture, for it was authorized by the Supreme Person, Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Just as Śrī Kṛṣṇa explains in Bhagavad-gītā in so many ways that the entire material creation is resting on one of His portions, Brahma-saṁhitā explains the same subject. It is stated that from the skin pores of the Mahā-viṣṇu, all the universes are emanating. In each universe there is a Brahmā, a supervisor, who is the supreme creature and manager. These managers live only as long as the Mahā-viṣṇu exhales. When He exhales, all the universes are created, and when He inhales, they all return into His body. In this way so many universes and Brahmās are coming and going. The durations of these breaths, which constitute a life of a Brahmā, are described in Bhagavad-gītā as many trillions of earth years. One may say that this is all fictitious and imaginary, but unless one believes it, one has no right to touch Bhagavad-gītā.

Generally people are interested in going to the higher planetary systems in order to become more opulent. This is the process of karma-kāṇḍīya, and people perform yajñas and pious activities in order to be elevated to higher planets. The idea is that one will be able to enjoy himself more, have a longer life span, more opulence, more beautiful women, nice gardens and so on. Actually this is the case, but a devotee is not at all interested in these things because he accepts Kṛṣṇa. In Bhagavad-gītā (8.16) Śrī Kṛṣṇa says, ā-brahma-bhuvanāl lokāḥ punar āvartino ’rjuna: “From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place.”

Even if we are promoted to the highest planet, Brahmaloka, the planet where Lord Brahmā lives, our situation there is still not eternal. So why should a devotee be interested in such a place? A devotee is simply interested in the supreme eternal, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The Supreme Lord is the supreme leader of the nityas, the eternal living entities. We are all nityas, eternal, and Kṛṣṇa guides and plays with us. In the spiritual world, Kṛṣṇa and His devotees are friends, and they play together as cowherd boys. They are not interested in Brahmaloka or Candraloka, for these planets will ultimately be annihilated. There are some living entities that live only a few seconds, or, at most, a night. By the morning, they are all dead. Any life in the material world is comparable to that. Brahmā may live millions of years, but he ultimately has to die. Whether we go to the highest planet or the lowest planet, whether we are in the body of a Brahmā or a cat, we ultimately have to die. Kṛṣṇa presents Himself to atheists as death. He appeared in this way before Hiraṇyakaśipu, who said, “I am God. All the demigods are afraid of me. I am very powerful.” Kṛṣṇa comes before such atheists as death and takes everything away – all power, opulence, money – everything. The theists worship God while they are living, and their only business in this life is serving God. After death, they render the same service; thus there is no difference between Vaikuṇṭha and a temple for a devotee. In either case, his business is the same. Why, then, should he aspire to go to Vaikuṇṭha?

In the Vaikuṇṭha planets one attains opulence like Kṛṣṇa or Nārāyaṇa. There are five kinds of mukti, liberation, and one is sārṣṭi. This kind of liberation brings one opulence equal to the Lord. In the Vaikuṇṭha planets, everyone is four-handed like Nārāyaṇa, and everyone is equally opulent. In Goloka Vṛndāvana, Kṛṣṇa and the cowherd boys are equally opulent. In Vṛndāvana, the cowherd boys do not know that Kṛṣṇa is God. They look on Kṛṣṇa as an equal. This is the opulence of their devotional position.

Nonetheless, the devotees do not aspire for all this opulence. Their only aspiration is to engage in the service of the Lord. In this way, they get everything. Nor are the devotees interested in attaining the mystic yoga-siddhis. They do not need to be able to create a planet, for they can create Vaikuṇṭha by worshiping Kṛṣṇa in the temple. The temple is nirguṇa, transcendental to the guṇas. In the śāstras it is said that the forest is characterized by sattva-guṇa, goodness, and the city is characterized by rajo-guṇa, passion, because in the city there is a great deal of illicit sex, intoxication, gambling and meat-eating. Formerly, when people were aspiring for spiritual realization, they left the cities and went to the forests. That was the vānaprastha stage. The word vana means “forest.” Before taking sannyāsa, a man would leave his family and go to the forest to begin practicing austerities. Vanaṁ gato yad dharim āśrayeta.

Actually, superior to living in the forest is living in the temple because the temple is nirguṇa, above all the guṇas, even sattva-guṇa. The inhabitants of the temple are actually in Vaikuṇṭha.

Lord Kapiladeva next explains the nature of the special opulences of the devotees.

TEXT 38

na karhicin mat-parāḥ śānta-rūpe
naṅkṣyanti no me ’nimiṣo leḍhi hetiḥ
yeṣām ahaṁ priya ātmā sutaś ca
sakhā guruḥ suhṛdo daivam iṣṭam

TRANSLATION

The Lord continued: My dear mother, devotees who receive such transcendental opulences are never bereft of them; neither weapons nor the change of time can destroy such opulences. Because the devotees accept Me as their friend, relative, son, preceptor, benefactor and Supreme Deity, they cannot be deprived of their possessions at any time.

PURPORT

It is stated in Bhagavad-gītā that one may elevate himself to the higher planetary systems, even up to Brahmaloka, by dint of pious activities, but when the effects of such pious activities are finished, one again comes back to this earth to begin a new life of activities. Thus even though one is promoted to the higher planetary system for enjoyment and a long duration of life, still that is not a permanent settlement. But as far as the devotees are concerned, their assets – the achievement of devotional service and the consequent opulence of Vaikuṇṭha, even on this planet – are never destroyed. In this verse Kapiladeva addresses His mother as śānta-rūpa, indicating that the opulences of devotees are fixed because devotees are eternally fixed in the Vaikuṇṭha atmosphere, which is called śānta-rūpa because it is in the mode of pure goodness, undisturbed by the modes of passion and ignorance. Once one is fixed in the devotional service of the Lord, his position of transcendental service cannot be destroyed, and the pleasure and service simply increase unlimitedly. For the devotees engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, in the Vaikuṇṭha atmosphere, there is no influence of time. In the material world the influence of time destroys everything, but in the Vaikuṇṭha atmosphere there is no influence of time or of the demigods because there are no demigods in the Vaikuṇṭha planets. Here our activities are controlled by different demigods; even if we move our hand and leg, the action is controlled by the demigods. But in the Vaikuṇṭha atmosphere there is no influence of the demigods or of time; therefore there is no question of destruction. When the time element is present, there is the certainty of destruction, but when there is no time element – past, present or future – then everything is eternal. Therefore this verse uses the words naṅkṣyanti no, indicating that the transcendental opulences will never be destroyed.

The reason for freedom from destruction is also described. The devotees accept the Supreme Lord as the most dear personality and reciprocate with Him in different relationships. They accept the Supreme Personality of Godhead as a dearmost friend, relative, son, preceptor, well-wisher or Deity. The Lord is eternal; therefore any relationship in which we accept Him is also eternal. It is clearly confirmed herein that the relationships cannot be destroyed, and therefore the opulences of those relationships are never destroyed. Every living entity has the propensity to love someone. We can see that if someone has no object of love, he generally directs his love to a pet animal like a cat or a dog. Thus the eternal propensity for love in all living entities is always searching for a place to reside. From this verse we can learn that we can love the Supreme Personality of Godhead as our dearmost object – as a friend, as a son, as a preceptor or as a well-wisher – and there will be no cheating and no end to such love. We shall eternally enjoy the relationship with the Supreme Lord in different aspects. A special feature of this verse is the acceptance of the Supreme Lord as the supreme preceptor. Bhagavad-gītā is spoken directly by the Supreme Lord, and Arjuna accepted Kṛṣṇa as his guru, or spiritual master. Similarly, we should accept only Kṛṣṇa as the supreme spiritual master.

When we speak of Kṛṣṇa, we include His confidential devotees; Kṛṣṇa is not alone. Kṛṣṇa includes His name, His form, His qualities, His abode, His associates, etc. For example, a king is always associated with his secretary, his commander, his servant and so much paraphernalia. As soon as we accept Kṛṣṇa and His associates as our preceptors, no ill effects can destroy our knowledge. In the material world the knowledge we acquire may change because of the influence of time, but nevertheless the conclusions received from Bhagavad-gītā, directly from the speeches of the Supreme Lord Kṛṣṇa, can never change. There is no use interpreting Bhagavad-gītā; it is eternal.

Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Lord, should be accepted as one’s best friend. He will never cheat. He will always give His friendly advice and protection to the devotee. If Kṛṣṇa is accepted as a son, He will never die. Here we may have a very loving son or child, but the father and mother, or those who are affectionate toward him, always hope, “May my son not die.” But Kṛṣṇa actually never will die. Therefore those who accept Kṛṣṇa, or the Supreme Lord, as their son will never be bereft of their son. In many instances devotees have accepted the Deity as a son. In Bengal there are many such instances, and even after the death of the devotee, the Deity performs the śrāddha ceremony for the father. The relationship is never destroyed. People are accustomed to worship different forms of demigods, but in Bhagavad-gītā such a mentality is condemned; therefore one should be intelligent enough to worship only the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His different forms such as Lakṣmī-Nārāyaṇa, Sītā-Rāma and Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa. Thus one will never be cheated. By worshiping the demigods, one may elevate himself to the higher planets, but during the dissolution of the material world, the deity and his abode will be destroyed. But one who worships the Supreme Personality of Godhead is promoted to the Vaikuṇṭha planet, where there is no time, destruction or annihilation. The conclusion is that time cannot act upon devotees who have accepted the Supreme Personality of Godhead as everything.

Spiritual life is eternal; it cannot be destroyed. Whatever we have here in the material world is subject to destruction. In this material world we aspire for a nice house, good property, children, friends and riches, but ultimately all of these will be destroyed, including ourselves. Nothing here is permanent; therefore everything is called illusory. Actually we do not understand this; we take all this as permanent. The fact is, however, that only Kṛṣṇa is permanent. Kṛṣṇa’s material energy is not permanent.

Māyāvādīs think that in the spiritual world there are no relationships. However, in the śāstras it is stated that in the spiritual world there is real life. Life in this material world is simply a shadow of that life. In the fifteenth chapter of Bhagavad-gītā this material world is likened to a banyan tree with its roots above and branches below. This means that it is like a shadow. When we stand beside a reservoir of water, we see the tree reflected upside down. We also have the experience of a mirage in the material world. We think that there is water, but actually there is none. Sometimes sailors at sea think they see land, but actually this is a mirage in the water. This material world is like that. In our lives we think we are enjoying some rasa, some relationship. Our children are calling us father, and we are enjoying our relationship with our wife, but all of these relationships are like shadows, although people have no information of this. The true enjoyment derived from these relationships can be attained in the spiritual world with Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa therefore comes in person to teach us that we can enjoy the same relationship with Him. We can enjoy Him as our master, our friend, our son, our father or our lover.

The Māyāvādī philosophers say that if Kṛṣṇa has become everything, there is no question of Kṛṣṇa as an entity or a person. This is a materialistic idea. If we tear up a piece of paper into small pieces and throw it away, the paper no longer has an existence. However, Kṛṣṇa is not like that.

advaitam acyutam anādim ananta-rūpam
ādyaṁ purāṇa-puruṣaṁ nava-yauvanaṁ ca

“I worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Govinda [Kṛṣṇa], who is the original person – absolute, infallible, without beginning, although expanded into unlimited forms, still the same original, the oldest, and the person always appearing as a fresh youth.” (Brahma-saṁhitā 5.33) Kṛṣṇa has many millions of expansions, and He is also situated in everyone’s heart. He is not only within human beings but within animals, trees, plants, aquatics and so forth. It is materialistic to think that Kṛṣṇa has no individual existence if He has entered into so many millions of hearts. Even though Kṛṣṇa has distributed Himself in many millions of parts, He is still present in the same strength. Kṛṣṇa is sarvaiśvarya-pūrṇa. He is never diminished.

There is an interesting story of a poor boy who was a student in school. During an annual Father’s Day ceremony, the teacher requested the students to give some kind of a contribution. Formerly teachers would not earn a salary but would receive whatever the students would bring from their parents’ homes or by begging. Generally the brāhmaṇas were teachers, and they could not charge anything. Thus some students brought the teacher rice, and some students brought other crops. This one student was so poor that he could think of nothing to bring; therefore he told his teacher that he would speak to his mother first. After school, the student told his mother, “My dear mother, all my classmates have promised to contribute something to the teacher. What shall I contribute?” The mother replied, “My dear son, we are so poor that we cannot give anything. However, Kṛṣṇa is the friend of the poor. If He gives you something, you can promise it to your teacher.” “Oh, where is Kṛṣṇa?” the little boy asked. “Well, I understand that He is in the forest,” the mother said. Therefore the little boy went to the forest and called for Kṛṣṇa. He then began to cry, and finally Kṛṣṇa came. When a devotee is very eager to see Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa is so kind that He comes. “So, what are you asking?” Kṛṣṇa said to the little boy. “You are the friend of the poor,” the little boy said. “I am very poor, and what can I promise my teacher?” Kṛṣṇa then told him, “You can tell him that you will supply him some yogurt, some dahī.” The little boy was very satisfied with this, and the next day he went to his teacher and said, “I will supply you as much yogurt as you need.” The teacher felt that this was very nice, and he was pleased with the boy. On the day of the ceremony, the boy again went to the forest and called for Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa appeared and gave him a quart of yogurt. The little boy took this yogurt to his teacher and said, “This is my contribution, sir.” The teacher looked at the quart and said, “What is this? Hundreds of people will be coming, and you have only given this much yogurt?” The teacher became so angry that he spilled the yogurt out of the container. When he bent down to pick it up, he saw that the container was again full. He dropped it again, and it was again full. He could then understand that it was spiritual.

This is the nature of Kṛṣṇa. One can take everything, and yet the same will remain. In the material world, one minus one equals zero, but in the spiritual world, one minus one equals one. That is called advaya- jñāna. There is no duality in the spiritual world. One plus one equals one, and one minus one equals one. If we love Kṛṣṇa, that love will not be destroyed as love is in the material world. In the material world, a servant serves the master as long as the servant is pleased and as long as the master is pleased. The servant is pleased as long as the master pays, and the master is pleased as long as the servant renders good service. However, in the spiritual world, if the servant cannot serve under certain conditions, the master is still pleased. And if the master does not pay, the servant is also pleased. That is called oneness, absolute. A guru may have hundreds of disciples, hundreds of servants, but he doesn’t have to pay them. They are serving out of spiritual love, and the guru is teaching without receiving a salary. This is a spiritual relationship. There are no cheaters and cheated in such a relationship. If we accept Kṛṣṇa as our son, friend or lover, we will never be cheated. However, we have to give up the false, illusory servant, son, father or lover, for they will surely cheat us. We may love our son with our heart and soul, but that very son may some day be our enemy. We may love our wife very much, but some day that wife may be such an enemy that she will kill us for her own interests. There are many instances of this in history. Māyāvādī philosophers are afraid of having such relationships because they have bitter experience with these relationships in the material world. They therefore want to negate all relationships, and therefore they say no more son, daughter, lover, master or whatever. Being disgusted with these things, they try to make everything void. Yet if we have the same relationship with Kṛṣṇa, we will never be cheated or disappointed. Our enthusiasm will increase more and more. Therefore Kṛṣṇa encourages us to accept Him as our son, as our friend and as our master. Then we will be happy.

TEXTS 39–40

imaṁ lokaṁ tathaivāmum
ātmānam ubhayāyinam
ātmānam anu ye ceha
ye rāyaḥ paśavo gṛhāḥ

visṛjya sarvān anyāṁś ca
mām evaṁ viśvato-mukham
bhajanty ananyayā bhaktyā
tān mṛtyor atipāraye

TRANSLATION

Thus the devotee who worships Me, the all-pervading Lord of the universe, with unflinching devotional service, gives up all aspirations for promotion to heavenly planets or happiness in this world with wealth, children, cows, home or anything in relationship with the body. I take him to the other side of birth and death.

PURPORT

Unflinching devotional service, as described in these two verses, means engaging oneself in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness, or devotional service, accepting the Supreme Lord as all in all. Since the Supreme Lord is all-inclusive, if anyone worships Him with unflinching faith, one has automatically achieved all other opulences and performed all other duties. The Lord promises herein that He takes His devotee to the other side of birth and death. Lord Caitanya, therefore, recommended that one who aspires to go beyond birth and death should have no material possessions. This means that one should not try to be happy in this world or to be promoted to the heavenly world, nor should he strive for material wealth, children, houses or cows.

How liberation is imperceptibly achieved by a pure devotee and what the symptoms are have been explained. The situation with a conditioned soul is different, however. If he is in the mode of goodness, he may be preparing for promotion to the higher planets; if he is in the mode of passion, he will remain here in a society where activity is very prominent, and if he is in the mode of ignorance, he may be degraded to animal life or a lower grade of human life. But for a devotee there is no concern for this life or the next life because in any life he does not desire material elevation. He prays to the Lord, “My dear Lord, it does not matter where I am born, but let me be born, even as an ant, in the house of a devotee.” A pure devotee does not pray to the Lord for liberation from this material bondage. Actually, the pure devotee never thinks that he is fit for liberation. Considering his past life and his mischievous activities, he thinks that he is fit to be sent to the lowest region of hell. If in this life I am trying to become a devotee, this does not mean that in my many past lives I was one hundred percent pious. That is not possible. A devotee, therefore, is always conscious of his real position. Only by his full surrender to the Lord, by the Lord’s grace, are his sufferings mitigated. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā, “Surrender unto Me, and I will give you protection from all kinds of sinful reaction.” That is His mercy. But this does not mean that one who has surrendered to the lotus feet of the Lord has committed no misdeeds in his past life. A devotee always prays, “For my misdeeds, may I be born again and again, but my only prayer is that I may not forget Your service.” The devotee has such mental strength, and he prays to the Lord: “May I be born again and again, but let me be born in the home of Your pure devotee so that I may again get a chance to develop my spiritual life.”

A pure devotee is not anxious to elevate himself in his next birth. He has already given up that sort of hope. In any life in which one is born, as a householder, or even as an animal, he must have some children, some resources or some possessions, but a devotee is not anxious to possess anything. He is satisfied with whatever is obtainable by God’s grace. He is not at all attached to improving his social status or the education of his children. He is not neglectful – he is dutiful – but he does not spend too much time on the improvement of temporary household or social life. He fully engages in the service of the Lord, and for other affairs he simply spares as much time as absolutely necessary (yathārham upayuñjataḥ). Such a pure devotee does not care what is going to happen in the next life or in this life; he does not care even for family, children or society. He fully engages in the service of the Lord in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It is stated in Bhagavad-gītā that without the knowledge of the devotee, the Lord arranges for His devotee to be immediately transferred to His transcendental abode just after leaving his body. After quitting his body he does not go into the womb of another mother. The ordinary common living entity, after death, is transferred to the womb of another mother, according to his karma, or activities, to take another type of body. But as far as the devotee is concerned, he is at once transferred to the spiritual world in the association of the Lord. That is the Lord’s special mercy. Because He is all-powerful, the Lord can do anything and everything. He can excuse all sinful reactions. He can immediately transfer a person to Vaikuṇṭha-loka. That is the inconceivable power of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is favorably disposed to the pure devotees.

In these verses, Kapiladeva is describing the devotee’s acceptance of Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as the most dear to us. If we want to love Kṛṣṇa as a son, Kṛṣṇa is prepared to be our son. Arjuna accepted Kṛṣṇa as his friend, and Kṛṣṇa was his best friend. Everyone can accept Kṛṣṇa in so many ways. We can love Kṛṣṇa as Arjuna did, or as mother Yaśodā did. Similarly, Parīkṣit Mahārāja simply heard about Kṛṣṇa and developed love. The first-class yogī takes Kṛṣṇa as everything – priya, suta, sakhā, guru, everything. This is real bhakti. If we want a son, Kṛṣṇa is prepared to be our son. If we want a lover, He is prepared to be our lover. If we want a friend, He is prepared to be our friend. Whatever relationship we want in the material world, we can have with Kṛṣṇa. We all have some loving propensity, and Kṛṣṇa is prepared to fulfill this propensity. Kṛṣṇa is not a person like ourselves. We occupy one body, but Kṛṣṇa is the owner of all bodies. The body is a machine given by Kṛṣṇa. In the material world, a father may give his son a car. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa gives the living entities bodies, 8,400,000 different types of bodies. The living entity gets into the body just as a person gets into a car, and he goes this way and that. We can drive this machine called the body for so many years; then it becomes old, and we have to change it for another machine. This is the process of birth and death. We drive one car for a while, and the car is finally broken, or it is smashed. We may have an accident or not, but eventually the car has to go to the junkyard. Then we have to get another car.

Actually our position is that we never take birth and never die, but why have we been put into this position of accepting these machines? This is our real problem. What is the cause of this? We want to enjoy this material world with its wealth and possessions. As long as we are after material possessions, we cannot transcend the cycle of birth and death. However, we have to give all this up and take shelter of Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and worship Him. Nor can we worship Him whimsically, but as He desires. If Kṛṣṇa says, “I want a glass of water,” we must bring Him water. We cannot say, “Milk is better than water. I think I will bring Him milk.” This is not favorable service. Some so-called bhaktas say, “I can worship the Lord in my own way.” This is simply imagination. The Māyāvādīs say that Brahman has no rūpa, no form, and they suggest that we imagine some form. This is not the case with Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is present in His original form, and He is described in Vedic literatures. We have recounted these descriptions before. If we want to attain a body like Brahmā’s, we can get it. If we want a body like a worm in stool, we can get it. Or, if we want a body like Kṛṣṇa’s, we can get that also. That is our real body of sac-cid-ānanda. We can also get a body like a demigod’s and go to the heavenly planets. Or we can remain here in the middle planetary system. Our destination is our own choice. We are given full freedom through our activities. By pious activities, we go to the heavenly planets, and by Kṛṣṇa conscious activities, we go to Vaikuṇṭha-loka.

We are part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa, but somehow or other we have forgotten this. In Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 20.117) it is said:

kṛṣṇa bhuli’ sei jīva anādi-bahirmukha
ataeva māyā tāre deya saṁsāra-duḥkha

“Forgetting Kṛṣṇa, the living entity has been attracted by the external feature from time immemorial. Therefore the illusory energy [māyā] gives him all kinds of misery in his material existence.” Because we have forgotten Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa has given us all these Vedas and Purāṇas. Kṛṣṇa also comes into this material world in order to remind us of Himself. In this Kali-yuga, people are forgetting Kṛṣṇa more and more. They are not even interested in Him, but Kṛṣṇa is interested because we are His sons. A mad son may no longer be interested in his home, in his father or mother, yet the father never loses interest in his son. He is anxious because his boy has left home and is suffering. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa’s son leaves the spiritual sky and takes up one material body after another and in this way travels from one planet to another in different species of life. Therefore Kṛṣṇa comes to rescue him.