Chapter 21: What Is Our Actual Value?
ke vayaṁ nāma-rūpābhyāṁ
yadubhiḥ saha pāṇḍavāḥ
bhavato ’darśanaṁ yarhi
As the name and fame of a particular body is ﬁnished with the disappearance of the living spirit, similarly, if You do not look upon us, all our fame and activities, along with the Pāṇḍavas and Yadus, will end at once.
Kuntīdevī is quite aware that the existence of the Pāṇḍavas is due to Śrī Kṛṣṇa only. The Pāṇḍavas are undoubtedly well established in name and fame and are guided by the great King Yudhiṣṭhira, who is morality personiﬁed, and the Yadus are undoubtedly great allies, but without the guidance of Lord Kṛṣṇa all of them are nonentities, as much as the senses of the body are useless without the guidance of consciousness. No one should be proud of his prestige, power, and fame without being guided by the favor of the Supreme Lord. The living beings are always dependent, and the ultimate dependable object is the Lord Himself. We may, therefore, invent by our advancement of material knowledge all sorts of counteracting material resources, but without being guided by the Lord all such inventions end in ﬁasco, however strong and stout the reactionary elements may be.
As soon as an important man dies, his name and form become unimportant, even though he may have been a big scientist, politician, or philosopher. As long as we are alive our name, form, and activities are glorious, but as soon as the life is gone the body is but a lump of matter. When an important man is alive he may have so many guards, and no one can go before him or touch him, but when the same man is dead and lying on the ﬂoor, one may kick him in the face, and practically no one will care. After the disappearance of the soul, the body of the important man has no value. And what is that soul? It is the energy of Kṛṣṇa, and therefore it is part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa. So when the energy is withdrawn – that is, when Kṛṣṇa is not there – the body becomes unimportant.
Kṛṣṇa’s energy and Kṛṣṇa Himself are not different (śakti-śakti-mator abhedaḥ). The sun, for example, is energetic, and the sunshine is energy. As long as the sunshine is present the sun is present, and if the sun were not present the sun’s energy would also not be there. The energy and the energetic must both exist. Although the Māyāvādī philosophers do not accept the energetic but only the impersonal energy, we must accept both the energy and the energetic.
While the energy works, the energetic remains aloof, just as the sunshine spreads everywhere while the sun itself remains apart. Similarly, there is energy working throughout the cosmic manifestation. The cosmic manifestation consists of earth, water, ﬁre, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and false ego. These eight material elements are separated material energies (me bhinnā prakṛtir aṣṭadhā), and we can understand that behind these energies there must be an energetic source. For example, we are using electric power, but behind this power are the powerhouse and the engineer. Rascals do not understand this. They simply see the power of this cosmic manifestation, but they do not understand that behind this power is the powermaker, the source of power. Therefore Kṛṣṇa comes and says, “I am the powermaker. I am behind this power.”
Kṛṣṇa Himself personally comes because we do not have the eyes to see Kṛṣṇa and cannot understand Him. When we contemplate the form of God, we think that because God created millions and millions of years ago, He must be a very old man. Therefore God personally comes before us so that we can see what He is. This is His kindness. The Lord says in Bhagavad-gītā (4.7):
yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham
“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion – at that time I descend Myself.”
God comes to this world in person, He leaves behind His instructions like those of Bhagavad-gītā, and He leaves behind His devotees who can explain who God is, but still we are so stubborn that we do not accept God. This is foolishness. In Bhagavad-gītā those who do not accept God are called mūḍhāḥ – rascals and fools.
God exists, and God’s energy also exists, so if we cannot see God we can at least see His energy. We may not see the electric powerhouse and the engineer within it generating power, but we use electricity in so many ways. Therefore we should inquire where this electricity comes from. This is intelligence, and if one inquires in this way he will eventually ﬁnd the powerhouse itself. Similarly, if one studies further to ﬁnd out who is running the powerhouse, one will ﬁnd a human being. Although the electricity is impersonal and even the powerhouse is impersonal, the man behind everything is a person. Similarly, God is a person. This is a logical conclusion. How can He be impersonal? That which is impersonal has no intelligence. We have invented so many very wonderful machines, but the machines are not intelligent. The intelligence belongs to the operator. Therefore Kṛṣṇa says, mayādhyakṣeṇa prakṛtiḥ sūyate sa-carācaram: “You are seeing the energy displayed in the wonderful actions and reactions of this material cosmic manifestation, but don’t think that they are working independently. No, I am behind them.”
Kṛṣṇa further says:
mayā tatam idaṁ sarvaṁ
na cāhaṁ teṣv avasthitaḥ
“By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them.” (Bhagavad-gītā 9.4) That which is avyakta, unmanifested, also has mūrti, a form. The sky, for example, is avyakta, unmanifest, but it also has a form – the round form of the universe. If we go to the ocean, there also we shall ﬁnd a form, like that of a big circle. Without form there is nothing; everything has form, even that which is supposedly impersonal.
Therefore the idea that everything is zero or impersonal is foolish. Behind the impersonal feature and the so-called voidness is the supreme form – Kṛṣṇa. Īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ sac-cid-ānanda-vigrahaḥ. The word īśvara means “controller.” Nature is not controlling itself; the real controller is Kṛṣṇa. Icchānurūpam api yasya ca ceṣṭate sā. The Brahma-saṁhitā (5.44) says that Prakṛti, or Durgā – the deity of material nature – is working under the direction of Govinda, Kṛṣṇa. How is she working? Just like a shadow. Below our hand is its shadow, and as our hand moves, the shadow moves. Behind all manifestations there is motion. I have sometimes given the example of the shunting of the big cars in a railway line. The engine gives the motion and pushes one car, which then pushes another and another, and so on. Similarly, who set up the motion of the cosmic manifestation? That original motion-giver is Kṛṣṇa.
Now Kuntīdevī says, “We Pāṇḍavas have become famous, and people say that we are very important. Why? Because You are our friend.” Kṛṣṇa was the friend of the Pāṇḍavas and speciﬁcally the friend of Arjuna, and therefore Arjuna was a great and valorous warrior. But Kuntīdevī knew, “People say, ‘Oh, the Pāṇḍavas are such great warriors and heroes,’ but what is the value of my sons, the Pāṇḍavas?” Similarly, the Yadu dynasty was famous because Kṛṣṇa took His birth in that family. But Kuntīdevī says, ke vayam: “What are we? What is our value?” Ke vayaṁ nāma-rūpābhyām: “We have our name and form, but without You it is all useless. It has no value.”
People do not understand this. They are very proud of having a nice body and a nice name. They think, “I am American,” “I am Indian,” “I am German,” and so on. But what is all this? These are simply bogus names and bogus forms with no value.
If we subtract Kṛṣṇa, everything is zero. This is a fact, but people are such rascals that they do not understand this fact. But who can deny it? The American body or Indian body may have a good name, but if it has no consciousness, what is its value? No value. Therefore it is said:
jātiḥ śāstraṁ japas tapaḥ
“For a person devoid of devotional service to Kṛṣṇa, his birth in a great family or nation, his knowledge of revealed scripture, his performance of austerities and penance, and his chanting of Vedic mantras are all like ornaments on a dead body. Such ornaments simply serve the concocted pleasures of the general populace.” (Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya 3.11)
We all have consciousness, but what is this consciousness? It is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. We have forgotten Kṛṣṇa, and therefore we simply say “consciousness,” but really “consciousness” means Kṛṣṇa consciousness, because without Kṛṣṇa we cannot have consciousness. Without the sun, how can there be sunshine? Therefore we say “sunshine,” and not just “shine.” Similarly, “consciousness” means Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This requires a little intelligence to understand, but devotees like Kuntī have this intelligence and understanding. Therefore Kuntī says, “The Pāṇḍavas and Yadus are so important, but what is actually our value?”
Because Kṛṣṇa is bidding farewell, Kuntī laments, “You will go, and we shall not be able to see You. What then will be the value of our name and fame?” Bhavato ’darśanaṁ yarhi hṛṣīkāṇām iveśituḥ. She gives the example that without Kṛṣṇa they would be like the senses without life. In this material world we desire sense enjoyment, but without Kṛṣṇa or without Kṛṣṇa consciousness there is no possibility of sense enjoyment. We may have strong arms and legs, but when there is no consciousness – when there is no Kṛṣṇa consciousness – we cannot even utilize them. An intelligent person, therefore, knows that without Kṛṣṇa his senses have no value, and therefore he becomes a devotee. He rightly concludes that because there is an intimate relationship between the senses and Kṛṣṇa, as long as the senses are active it is one’s duty to use the senses in the service of Kṛṣṇa. This is bhakti.
To use an example I have given many times, suppose in an assembly one ﬁnds a hundred-dollar note that has fallen from someone’s pocket. If one takes that note and puts it in one’s own pocket, one is a thief because that note does not belong to him. This is called bhoga, false enjoyment. Then again, someone else may think, “Oh, why shall I touch it? It belongs to someone else. Let it remain there. I have nothing to do with it.” This is called tyāga, renunciation. So although the hundred-dollar note is the same, one person is trying to enjoy it while another is trying to give it up. But both of them – the bhogī and the tyāgī – are fools.
The bhogīs are the karmīs, those who are working very hard to exploit the resources of the material nature, like the scientists, for example, who are doing research to further such exploitation. Their intention, actually, is to steal. On the other hand, the tyāgīs, those who are unable to steal, have a “sour grapes” philosophy: “Oh, these things are useless. There is no need of them.” Mostly, of course, people are bhogīs; that is, they are trying to use everything to enjoy sense gratiﬁcation. But still there are those who are bafﬂed in sense gratiﬁcation and who therefore say, “No, no, we don’t need these things.”
Continuing the example, however, when a hundred-dollar note is found, the person who acts most properly is the one who takes it and says, “Someone has lost this note. Let me ﬁnd its owner.” Upon returning that note, one renders real service. One who takes the note for himself and one who leaves the note where it is are both useless. Similarly, the bhogī and tyāgī are both useless. But the bhakta, the devotee, knows that everything belongs to Kṛṣṇa and should therefore be offered to Kṛṣṇa. This is real service.
Everything belongs to Kṛṣṇa. What is the body? It is a combination of material elements – earth, water, ﬁre, air, and the subtle, psychological elements mind, intelligence, and false ego. Kṛṣṇa claims, “All these eight elements are My separated energy.” Then how are the body and mind ours? Although I claim that the body is mine, I do not even know how it is working. A tenant in an apartment may pay rent and somehow or other occupy the apartment and enjoy its utilities, although he may not actually know how the heat and tap water are working. Similarly, although we do not know the details of how the body works, we are using this body, which actually belongs not to us but to Kṛṣṇa. This is the real fact. The body consists of the senses and the mind, and therefore the senses and mind also belong to Kṛṣṇa.
I am a spiritual soul, but I have been given the opportunity to utilize a certain type of material body. Because I wanted it, Kṛṣṇa is so kind that He has given it to me. Ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham. If one wants the body of a king, Kṛṣṇa will give it; if one follows the prescribed method, one will get the body of a king. And if one wants the body of a hog so that one may eat stool, Kṛṣṇa will give one that kind of body also. But now, in the human form of life, one should understand, “Everything belongs to Kṛṣṇa, so why am I hankering to satisfy this body which is supposedly mine? Rather, now that I have this body, let me serve Kṛṣṇa.” This is intelligence, and this is bhakti.
Hṛṣīkeṇa hṛṣīkeśa-sevanaṁ bhaktir ucyate: bhakti means to use hṛṣīka, the senses, in the service of Hṛṣīkeśa, Kṛṣṇa, the master of the senses (tvayā hṛṣīkeśena hṛdi sthitasya yathā karomi). Because I wanted some sense gratiﬁcation, forgetting that everything actually belongs to Kṛṣṇa, I have been given this body, which is a facility for sense gratiﬁcation. But the senses have no value without Kṛṣṇa, and therefore the natural conclusion is that the senses belong to Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, since I have these senses, why not use them for Kṛṣṇa’s satisfaction? This is bhakti.