1. THE SUPREME DOCTOR
Lord Gauranga (Chaitanya) was on this planet 500 years ago and He stayed on this planet for 48 years. The actual year that He appeared was 1486 and 48 years later He left and during those 48 years He displayed love for God.
The unique thing about Lord Gauranga’s incarnation is that He did not come as the Supreme Lord, He came as the Supreme Lord’s devotee. He was actually in the mood of a devotee on the highest level of spiritual love. It is not that He came and said, “Ok, I am the Supreme Lord but I will play like I am a devotee, for this drama I will play devotee.” He did not do that, He entered completely in the mood of Krishna’s most intimate devotee, and He displayed what the devotee of Krishna on the highest level of spiritual love does. Especially in the last 24 years, which is when He revealed His mission, He was constantly chanting Krishna’s names and getting others to chant Krishna’s names and displaying all the signs of love for Krishna.
He came to set the perfect example, to make it very clear that this is what we should do as well. He went throughout India and of course at that time the mode of transportation was walking. He walked from the farthest south Cape Comorin all the way north to Vrindavana. He visited many, many villages along the way and whenever He entered a village, He would get everyone there to chant, the whole village. Just by seeing Him people would develop love for God and when He left the village, many, many people wanted to go with Him and He would tell them, “No, no, you go back to your homes, chant Krishna’s names, read Bhagavad-gita, Srimad Bhagavatam and tell other people do the same.” That was His message and those who followed Him, of course they were already perfect because they had direct contact, but they were able to empower others to do the same. This is true spiritual life in Kali Yuga.
Kali Yuga is a special yuga. It is the time of the handicapped. (laughs) We have so many defects in Kali Yuga. In the Satya Yuga which is the golden age, the most wonderful time materially speaking, the whole population was very spiritually advanced. So you can imagine there was a completely different environment there, the society was very different. Kali Yuga is the opposite of that, people are very spiritually crippled.
Lord Gauranga, because of His great compassion, saw this condition and decided that we must have a process that is very, very easy to apply because the people in Kali Yuga are not capable of doing anything difficult. And it must be very, very powerful because they are very, very contaminated; their material disease is very severe. If you have a very bad disease, when you go to the doctor he gives you a very powerful medicine and that was another requirement. It must be very easy, it must be very powerful and it must work very quickly because the people in Kali Yuga don’t live very long, they have a very short life.
You see, in Kali Yuga we have so many disadvantages. One is that we are always plagued with disease; there is so much disease in Kali Yuga. We are very weak physically, even the strongest person is a weakling compared to how people were in the other yugas. So we are very weak physically, we are very weak mentally and the psychic condition of people in the Kali Yuga is very, very bad – we are so weak psychically. Even if you can find somebody that has very good physical health, most often you will find that they have some mental disability, something going on – some depression, loneliness or insecurity. Weak, very weak psychically and of course spiritually we are not even registered, spiritual strength is almost unknown.
Another symptom of Kali Yuga is that we have very short memories; we can’t remember anything. That is why everybody has to make a list before they go shopping. (laughter) Every day when you run out of something… “Oh, I have to put that on the list. Getting low… I’ll put it on the list.” Then you’ll go to the market. (laughter) If you forget your list, you are basically incapacitated, “My list! Where is it?” And then we try to remember. (laughs/laughter) then we get home, “Oh, I forgot that and that!” Very bad memory, very bad memory.
That is why the Vedas were written down 5,000 years ago. That is when Kali Yuga started. We could call Kali Yuga the age of short memory. We don’t remember things, that is why the Vedas were written down. The literary incarnation of Krishna, Srila Vyasadeva, incarnated 5,000 years ago and wrote it down like the list. That is when Kali Yuga began, before that there were no written Vedas. It was spoken, people heard it and remembered it, and of course if they followed what they heard, then they could become qualified to pass it on purely to someone else. But in Kali Yuga that doesn’t work so the Vedas were written down.
Like I mentioned we live very short lives. The Vedas say that in Kali Yuga the average life of the human should be 100 years but almost nobody lives to be one hundred. And if you do, you don’t look too good. (laughter) You have your 100th birthday and on the cake they put one candle, they know you can’t blow out 100. (laughter)
I was told several times that the average age in Russia for a man is 59, and in polluted cities and so on it is 49. So you see that is half of the amount of years. If people live in the north and eat only meat, they live about 35 or 40 years – another argument for vegetarianism. If you want to die young – eat a lot of meat.
Actually they did a study, this is off the subject but they studied 126,000 people over 26 years and their conclusion was if you eat a piece of meat the size of a deck of cards per day, you increase your chance of an early death by 20%. But if you replace that meat with nuts and seeds, you reduce that by 19%. So anyway, that is another whole subject.
We are in Kali Yuga; this is where we are now. I think that everyone can probably see according to the description of Kali Yuga that is what is going on; quarrel, chaos and confusion. People are now even quarreling over whether is it Kali Yuga or not. (laughs/laughter) It is true. There is a big philosophy presented by some so-called qualified people, they are not but this is what they claim, “This is Satya Yuga now.” Excuse me, can you show me one symptom of Satya Yuga? (laughs) In Satya Yuga people live 100,000 years, you cannot even live 50 years. Where is the Satya Yuga? In Satya Yuga everyone is peaceful, practicing spiritual life completely, opulence is present everywhere. Basically people don’t even have to work, show me that. (laughs) Everybody is working like a slave just to survive. There are people who believe it, this is the next absurdity. There are people who say it and who believe it. So you can see that the quality of intelligence in the Kali Yuga is very low. You can say anything and you get a bunch of people who will follow you. Start tomorrow and say the world is going to end in 2016 on December 27, jump up and down and say you just had a vision of a comet that went by, and people will come to follow you. They will sell their house and everything – no need for a house; the world is going to end. They will just go around telling everybody to sell their house.
This is Kali Yuga. It is absurd; it is the age of absurdity. Everybody is fighting; there is war all over the planet. The religions are fighting each other; even within one religion they kill each other. Kali Yuga, all the meat eating and everything are connected with all of this. The sinful activities of Kali Yuga are profound and people have to suffer. This is the age of intense karma when we create a lot of bad karma and then we suffer the consequences, and on and on it goes.
So the all ‘hope burns eternal’ illusion… “Things are going to get better, hope for the best, don’t be negative, look on the bright side, it’s going to get better”. That is just another illusion. Kali Yuga doesn’t get better; it gets worse and worse and worse. And there is a long time yet to go – a lot of room for degradation, you see we have another 427,000 years of Kali Yuga ahead. It is not going to get better, but as individuals it can get better.
That is why Lord Gauranga came to give us some real hope, to give us a real solution, not just some concocted, fabricated idea. This is God Himself and He came and said, “This is what you should do.” He came in the mood of a devotee and did it Himself, therefore if we have a little bit of intelligence we might see, “Yes, this is obviously what I should do.”
There is one thing that always amazes me. As all of you know, I give public lectures in many different countries. At the end of the lectures people can ask questions, probably you have asked some yourself. You write them down and we try to answer. And out of the… I don’t know how many thousands of questions over these years that I have received from the vast audiences in many, many countries, almost nobody… maybe I can remember once or twice when somebody said, “You said that God appeared 500 years ago as Lord Gauranga. God was on this planet? 500 years ago? Can you tell me more about that? This is amazing! Can you, really? Can you tell me more?” No, nobody, nobody, nobody even mentions Lord Gauranga.
You know, the question I get again and again and again, “Why is there 54 beads?” “How old are you?” The classic one was just the other night here, “What is the beard for? What is the significance of your beard?” (laughter) I’ve just told them God came here and told you to do this… “What is it about the beard?” And then they come to a follow up and ask the same question; they wouldn’t give up because we didn’t answer their question previously. (laughter)
So this is Kali Yuga, this is what we’ve got to deal with. The spiritual interest is basically zero. If they are interested in anything about mantras, it is like this “Will this cure my cancer?” One lady asked me in Vladivostok, “If I chant these mantras, can I quit eating, because I need to buy a winter coat.” I mean Kali Yuga is very special, spiritual interest is absolutely almost zero.
So Lord Gauranga is so kind, He made it so that if someone hears the chanting, they don’t even have to chant. If they are just walking by and they hear chanting, they will be spiritually benefited. Even the lower forms of life that have no voice and no mental arrangement to chant, if they hear, they also make spiritual progress.
He has made it so that… as bad as Kali Yuga is, this is a wonderful time because Lord Gauranga came. Those who know the truth about this, they don’t say ‘that terrible Kali Yuga’. These great saints and devotees of God describe Kali Yuga as ‘the glorious Kali Yuga’ because that is when Lord Gauranga came and gave us this opportunity to develop love for God and cut away all the impediments.
One thing that I’ve noticed over the years is that people who have really serious mental problems are attracted to this. Basically they have no other choice; what I mean is that they have no other opportunity or ability. They are not going to sit down and read scriptures or understand deep philosophy because they just can’t; they are not equipped for that. But they come and they chant and they like it. You see, that is Lord Gauranga’s mercy; He is known as the most munificent of all of incarnations, the most compassionate, He is compassion personified. All of His associates are also exactly the same. Lord Nityananda – we chant Nitai-Gaur, this is Nitai, which refers to Lord Nityananda – Lord Nityananda came when Lord Gauranga came, and also He is known as the symbol of compassion and love. The two of Them went everywhere chanting the Holy names so that now here we are, 500 years later and we can do the same. We have the same opportunity. I may think, “I’m so unfortunate because I was born 500 years too late”. No, we have the same opportunity right now.
It is stated in scripture, long before Lord Chaitanya appeared, in the Kali Yuga those who are endowed with sufficient intelligence will chant the names of God. Not many people chant the names of God because there are not very many people who are intelligent, but those who are, according to scripture are the most intelligent.
2. LORD CHAITANYA’S PRAYER
Lord Chaitanya didn’t write many books. He empowered His disciples to do this, He gave them all the information and they wrote it down, many scriptures. Rupa Goswami, Sanatana Goswami, Raghunatha das Goswami, Jiva Goswami, etc. They were given the information, empowered with the understanding and asked to write it down. And they did, so we study many of their scriptures.
But Lord Chaitanya Himself… Lord Gauranga and Lord Chaitanya is the same personality. Lord Chaitanya had many names. Lord Chaitanya, Nimai – in His youth He was known as Nimai – and, of course, Gauranga, etc. He had various names. So Lord Chaitanya Himself only wrote down 8 prayers, they are known as the Siksastaka verses. In those 8 prayers He says everything, they can be read in 5 minutes or less but everything is there for those who have the ability to take it.
His first prayer was: “All glories to the Sri Krishna sankirtan…” That is what we do. We have just finished Sri Krishna sankirtan, congregational chanting of the names of Krishna.
“All glories to the Sri Krishna sankirtan that cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years together…”
This is the problem, the heart. This is the root of all our problems, the unclean heart. All the problems in the world are because of this.
“…that cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years together…” This means lifetimes of accumulation, all the karma, all the lust, greed, jealousy, envy, unwanted desires – all this contamination of the heart. The Holy names cleanse it away.
That is the only thing that cleanses the heart. All these other mystic processes – kundalini yoga, whatever, whatever – they don’t. They don’t have that power, they can remove karma but they can’t cleanse the heart, and the karma is just a result of the activities coming from the unclean heart. So you go through this difficult process and raise the kundalini through the chakras which almost nobody can do. They talk about that they do kundalini – that is not true, not really. Maybe they think they are doing something, but not really. Anyway, it this not our whole subject. They burn off their karma. It does, it works, but the heart is still the same. It doesn’t purify the heart, so then they just go out and do the same thing again, it is not the solution and that is why Lord Gauranga didn’t teach that.
Again, if we look at what Lord Gauranga taught, we would know that this is what we should do. He didn’t say, “Do kundalini and all these other kinds of yoga.” There is about a million of them, thousands of different yogas, every day there is a new one. There is no such thing as a new yoga, yoga is eternal. Anyway, they do not do what this does, which is why Lord Gauranga said:
“…that cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years together and extinguishes the fire of conditional life of repeated birth and death.”
The fire of conditional life, conditional life is this contaminated consciousness and heart controlled by the modes of material nature. That is a conditioned life and that is the life of this world, we are all conditioned in so many ways. So it extinguishes the fire of conditional life, all the lust that burns us up, the passions, etc., etc., all this conditioning is extinguished. And because of this conditioning we are on the wheel of birth and death lifetime, after lifetime, after lifetime. It puts it out, extinguishes that fire so that we don’t have to take another birth and we can get off the wheel of birth and death.
And on and on this prayer goes.
“It is the life of all transcendental knowledge.”
All kinds of transcendental knowledge culminates in this one Harer Nama sankirtan, chanting God’s names. If you take the essence of all the Vedas which are vast, huge and you condense it down, condense it down, this is what you will come to. That is why Lord Gauranga did what He did. “It is the life of all transcendental knowledge.” He says:
“It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss…”
This is what the soul needs – transcendental bliss. It means happiness that we don’t even know about, and cannot even envision. The material world is known as the ocean of misery, vast. The analogy of the ocean is here because the ocean is huge. So the material world is known as the ocean of misery, it is everywhere, misery is everywhere in the material world. Lord Krishna says this in Bhagavad-gita.
So conditional life, material life, etc., etc., increases the ocean of misery but the chanting of God’s names increases the ocean of transcendental bliss, spiritual… you can’t even call that happiness because it is much more than our definition or understanding of happiness. It is another whole category of ecstatic pleasure and there is a whole ocean of this pleasure. It is said if you take one drop, one small drop from this ocean of transcendental bliss, it would completely almost kill you. (laughs) It is so wonderful … You wouldn’t know it almost killed you but that is just an analogy. It is just like one small drop and there is a whole ocean.
“… and gives us a taste for the nectar for which we are always anxious.”
Everybody is looking for nectar in life, the sweetness, “Oh, where is the sweetness in life?” The word ‘nectar’ actually gives you this vision of sweetness.
If you want to sell a juice, say you have some papaya juice…. Do you know what is papaya? In Kazakhstan? No, nobody has ever had papaya. No. Ok. How about peach? Do you know what peaches are? It is a Kali Yuga version of mangos. (laughter) Anyway, you’ve got some peach juice and you want to sell it. If you call it ‘peach juice’, you will sell some, but if you call it ‘peach nectar’, you will sell a lot. (laughter) “Nectar, peach nectar! Ooh!” Our tongue starts watering. Nectar is like ooh.
So this is what we all are looking for, the nectar of life. Not the nectar of peach juice. (laughs) We are really looking for the nectar of life. Everybody. But we never find it, we find the bitterness, even though it seems like it is sweet, very quickly it turns bitter.
You know some of those artificial sweetness like saccharin or aspartame? When you first taste them, they are really sweet but they leave a bitter taste in your mouth. Have you ever had that? This is just another example of Kali Yuga, you see, the nectar turns bitter very quickly. This sweet loving beautiful lady… that was like dripping nectar, down the road it all turned bitter. I’ve told this, maybe some of you heard it, but I like this. You can go either way – male or female, it doesn’t matter – but I tell it from the male perspective. No matter how beautiful she is, no matter how sweet she is, how attractive she is, somebody somewhere is sick of her. (laughter) That is material life and especially in Kali Yuga, all these things are amplified in Kali Yuga.
So because of all of this Lord Gauranga made the Holy names which are always full of spiritual potency even more potent in Kali Yuga. They are even more potent than any other time, so that is Lord Gauranga’s gift. He distributed it freely, He gave it away. If we are fortunate and take the gift, then we have the most valuable gift.
One of the Goswamis, the associates of Lord Chaitanya, his disciple, I can’t remember which one it was because I am in Kali Yuga (laughter) but it may have been Raghunatha das or Jiva Goswami, I can’t remember, but that doesn’t matter. This spiritual so-called sanyasi came to him, a renounced person but somehow he wanted some material things and he heard that the Goswami had a touchstone, this is like a gem that can turn bell metal into gold and fulfill the desires, material desires. So he went to him to ask for a touchstone, and the Goswami said, “Yes, of course, I can fulfill your desires.” And he went over into the trash, got it out (laughs) and gave it to him. This guy was so happy, “Oh, dream came true.”
So he went away and then he started thinking, “You know, he got this out of the trash… this is the most valuable thing and he had it in the trash? Maybe there is something that he knows that I don’t know, maybe there is something better than this.” So he went back and he asked “You know, I have a question. I asked you for this touchstone and you took it out of the trash and gave it to me.” And the Goswami said, “Yes, If you want something of real value, I have something for you.” And he gave him the Holy names.
So we can adjust our vision to see what is a real value. In our conditional life we see value where it is not really there. All too often even if we know about this chanting and maybe we can do it sometimes, we put it way down on the priority list. That this first is more important and then this and this, and way down there is chanting. So if I get through all this and I don’t have anything else to do, then I will chant. I like it when I do it but this other thing is first, this is where I see the value.
So we need to readjust our priorities. It is an individual thing. You know, it is that each person has to come to this understanding. You can hear it but your priorities are still whatever they are, it’s just the way it is. Just remember when you come to the end of your time in this body and now it is time to go, it is called death, to make it clear all those important things are no longer important, they don’t count at all. But if you had the Holy name at the top of the list, chanting for the pleasure of Krishna, then you are set, there are no worries. Death is like nothing, you are completely prepared, you are qualified and you are in the best position.
So that is Lord Gauranga, that is who He is. Even though you may never have asked that question, maybe you are the person who asked about the number of beads. You didn’t ask about the beard, that person is not here. But now you know a little bit about Lord Gauranga. This is just a tiny, tiny fraction about Lord Chaitanya, but maybe it is enough to make it so we see things a little different.
All the time people try to tell me, “Oh, but, you know, I do this… ”, whatever they do, and they try to convince me that I should do it. (laughs) This yoga, that yoga, whatever it is. I say Lord Gauranga didn’t teach that, my spiritual master didn’t teach that, so I don’t do it. I don’t need to do all these things. You know, channeling… I don’t even know anything at all about it, this thing, that thing, this healing, astrology and all that stuff. You know, you can put your focus all over the place, “Oh, I do everything.” What that really means is that you don’t do anything. You have to choose what you are going to do. “A little dab of this and let me out of it,” that is not how I become successful, that is not what Lord Gauranga said.
This is a very, very powerful way to decide what you should do. “Should I follow this religion and that teaching and this yoga and this thing?” What did Lord Gauranga say? “All glories to the Sri Krishna sankirtan.” That is what He said.
We only have a few more nights here, unfortunately, it has come and gone very quickly. I arrived and then it is time to leave. That is the way of life. You arrive and then it is time to leave. I certainly appreciate all of you coming, it is really a great gift to us. So we thank you very much for that and we thank you for whatever interest you have in this bhakti yoga process. It is wonderful that you have that interest and we hope you will become more and more convinced.
When my initiating spiritual master came to New York from India in 1965, he came on a freighter, on a boat. It was a very difficult journey and he came to give Lord Chaitanya’s gift to the West, that was the reason he came. Before he left the boat, he prayed to Krishna, “Please help me so that I may be able to convince them of Your message. Help me so I can be able to convince them.”
So I hope we are more and more convinced little by little…. maybe. But in spiritual life every step counts a lot, every little step is a big step in spiritual life. Thank you very much. Haribol!