The following is a lecture given by His Holiness Jayapataka Swami on December 29th, 1982 in Atlanta, Georgia. The class begins with a reading from the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto 2, Chapter 1, Verse 26.
The First Step in God realization.
Text 26, Chapter 1, Canto 2.
pātālam etasya hi pāda-mūlaṁ
Devotees: pātālam etasya hi pāda-mūlaṁ
Jayapataka Swami: paṭhanti pārṣṇi-prapade rasātalam
Devotees: paṭhanti pārṣṇi-prapade rasātalam
Jayapataka Swami: mahātalaṁ viśva-sṛjo 'tha gulphau
Devotees: mahātalaṁ viśva-sṛjo 'tha gulphau
Jayapataka Swami: talātalaṁ vai puruṣasya jaṅghe
Devotees: talātalaṁ vai puruṣasya jaṅghe
Jayapataka Swami: pātālam etasya hi pāda-mūlaṁ
Devotees: … person
Jayapataka Swami: Janghe
Jayapataka Swami: The shanks
Devotees: The shanks
Translation by His Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhativedanta Swami Prabhupada:
Persons who have realized it have studied that the planets known as Pātāla constitute the bottoms of the feet of the universal Lord, and the heels and the toes are the Rasātala planets. The ankles are the Mahātala planets, and His shanks constitute the Talātala planets.
Purport by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada:
Outside the bodily existence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the manifested cosmic existence has no reality. Everything and anything of the manifested world rests on Him, as confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.4), but that does not imply that everything and anything in the vision of a materialist is the Supreme Personality. The conception of the universal form of the Lord gives a chance to the materialist to think of the Supreme Lord, but the materialist must know for certain that his visualization of the world in a spirit of lording over it is not God realization. The materialistic view of exploitation of the material resources is occasioned by the illusion of the external energy of the Lord, and as such, if anyone wants to realize the Supreme Truth by conceiving of the universal form of the Lord, he must cultivate the service attitude. Unless the service attitude is revived, the conception of virāṭ realization will have very little effect on the seer. The transcendental Lord, in any conception of His form, is never a part of the material creation. He keeps His identity as Supreme Spirit in all circumstances and is never affected by the three material qualities, for everything material is contaminated. The Lord always exists by His internal energy.
The universe is divided into fourteen planetary systems. Seven planetary systems, called Bhūr, Bhuvar, Svar, Mahar, Janas, Tapas and Satya, are upward planetary systems, one above the other. There are also seven planetary systems downward, known as Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Talātala, Mahātala, Rasātala and Pātāla, gradually, one below the other. In this verse, the description begins from the bottom because it is in the line of devotion that the Lord's bodily description should begin from His feet. Śukadeva Gosvāmī is a recognized devotee of the Lord, and he is exactly correct in the description.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta Purport of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto 2, Chapter 1, Text 26 in the matter of the First Step in God Realization.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead is always to be approached first by His lotus feet. You first take the darsana of the Lord, we meditate on the Lord, we offer arati to the Lord, first at His lotus feet. We take the humble position, and therefore we approach the Lord first at His lotus feet. Of course, there is no difference between the Lord’s lotus feet or His lotus hands, or His lotus face. They are all transcendentally situated. They are all on the absolute platform, but it is symptom of humility and subservience that the devotee looks at the lotus feet of the Lord first. Lord Caitanya, He prayed tava pāda-paṅkaja, that He could just be pada-dhuli, you see, He could become just one of the particles of dust, on the lotus feet of Lord Krishna. Actually this our supreme place of shelter, the lotus feet of the Lord. The Goddess of fortune… fortune, Laksmi Devi, is always massaging the lotus feet of the Lord.
The pure devotees are described as bumblebees who are drinking the nectar of the honey flowing from the lotus feet of the Lord, you see. They perform devotional service, and thus they are able to taste that nectar. The meditation therefore of Sukadeva Gosvami, first on the lotus feet of the Lord, is shown here very emphatically, that although he was a very great impersonal realized soul, now he is completely absorbed in the devotional service of the Lord; therefore, he is looking first at the lotus feet of the Lord.
Each planet one after another, is arranged in the universe. Now, it’s not that geographically all of the planets are lined up like that. There may be certain cluster, where one planet is higher, just like the Candraloka is considered to be a heavenly planet, or the moon is considered to be a heavenly planet, meaning that the residents living there are on a higher type of dimension or level of existence than those who are living, say on the Earth planet or those who are living in the hellish planets, or the lower planets. Our understanding of hell here is probably a little different. In... some of these lower planets are hellish, but still there is material enjoyment there. Some of them are just uh, very painful. So for the devotees, for the pious people: both of them, so-called enjoyment and so-called pain without any God consciousness are both painful.
Srila Prabhupada said that there are some of the lower planetary systems where people are just having sex life 24 hours a day. It’s just non-stop. But it’s considered to be a hellish planet. There’s no… forget art, forget science, forget… just sex. That’s all there is. So there, everybody is completely in hell, inflamed with so many desires, you see. So, the idea of hell, some of the materialists, you see, they have desires like that, they may go to one of these planets. They will take that., “Well, this is the best thing.”
So in that way heavenly planet doesn’t mean that there is a lot of simply gross sense gratification, but the sense gratification there is of a whole… together different standard, and it also has uh... a lot of recognition and glorification of the Supreme Lord is going on, you see, but generally, the difference between any planet in the material world and in the spiritual world, even if the people are devotees, it is the people… the persons living in those particular places, even if they accept God, actually they are materialisti. Their desires are also material, just like Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, apparently one day he was walking along, and all of a sudden he looked up at the moon and pointed and said, “Candralokerbasi bahir mukha ache.” that “The residents of the moon planet are all materialistic. We have to go there and preach to them.” The devotee of the Lord, his idea is how to make all the people, no matter whether they are in heavenly planets or Earth planet, wherever, to make them really God consciousness.
That means here, beginning with service attitude. Normally all the devotees in the material world want God to serve them. “What God has done for your life?” Right, isn’t that what they say? “What has He done?” They want… they wanna know what service has God done for you. “What will God do for me if I chant His name?” Of course, if you are the servant of God, then automatically one does get so many benefits. There is no doubt about it, in fact more than one who is not in that service role, but the attitude of the devotee, is rather… the pure devotee is trying, “Let me please Krishna. If Krishna is pleased everything will be perfect." you see.
While the materialist, even if they are devotee of God… “Let me serve God and let God please me. Then everything will be perfect.” Meaning, “Please my body.” because they are in the body consciousness. So they have a separate interest. This is explained in the 4th Canto Bhagavatam, [editor's note: 3d Canto is intended] by Kapila Muni, that those who are mixed… uh, devotion mixed with tama, mixed with raja, and mixed with sattva. I think we discussed this here one class, didn’t we? Before, long time ago? I think… I thought we had in Atlanta. How devotion in tama is tinged with anger, envy, resentment, vengence uh, illusion, things like that.
Say someone very angry, “Well, I am going to show that person through my devotional service.” That’s devotion tinged with anger. It motivates… that’s your motivation. You wanna show someone else, or a person is just angry all the time at others, he may be devotee, but always criticizi… always angry at others, always in a despondent… always in a negative mood. There’s devotional service, but there is some tama, ignorance mixed there. It’s not pure, therefore that person has got some kind of a separatist mood in terms of the Lord. He cannot get very intimate in his devotional service. Then, there is devotion mixed with raja, with the mood of passion. kāma eṣa krodha eṣa rajo-guṇa-samudbhavaḥ, here in rajo-guna, that means that a person is desiring better material situation. “I have performed devotional service, but I need a better material situation”, or desire for elevation to the heavenly planets. This type of desire of some kind of uh, fame, prestige or some type of better material position and in… in uh, exchange for devotional service, this is like mixture of the rajo-guna and there’s also there a tinge of separate… separatist mood from the Lord, which is called prthak-bhava, to have a separate mood. The mood is not that, “May Krishna be pleased."
"I am serving Krishna, then why I am not getting my material facility?” you see. There might be that type of feeling, “Why Krishna is not making me comfortable. I am serving Him.”
I sa… If we start to relate and expect Krishna to give us a comfortable material situation in exchange for devotional service, it can bring in a tinge of rajo-guna. Then our motivation... we'll be happy in our devotional service if we are materially comfortable, and if we are materially uncomfortable we will feel some dissatisfaction. We don’t want to feel satisfaction over material comfort. That has nothing to do with pure love for Krishna. We don’t care… we don’t want to feel dissatisfaction over material discomfort, you see. We have a body. You can’t help it feeling some amount of sensation over being materially, bodily, physically comfortable or uncomfortable. You can’t help feeling some sensation, but that… we don’t want that to be our standard for being satisfied or dissatisfied. Until we get pure love for Krishna we don’t want that flow of enthusiasm, of determination to ebb, to even decrease an iota through some self-satisfaction that, “Now I am comfortable.” Then we may get stuck up there, we may not get pure bhakti, we may not get pure love for Krishna, you see.
So that’s something a devotee has to see that, this rajo-guna does not enter into the devotion and give us some kind of a separate feeling from pure devotion, separate from the Lord. Even the mode of goodness can also bring in a uh, separatist type of mood from the Lord. A devotee who may be is doing puja very carefully thinks he is better than the other devotees. Which… I don’t… forget which category that… that was mentioned there in Bhagavatam. Then also that person is doing uh… uh, devotional service, and wants to uh, achieve liberation, wants to end birth, death, old age and disease, and is… uh, that is the condition that, “For my service, I want that birth, death, old age and disease should be finished..." you see, "...in this very life."
Of course, that’s always a desire of a devotee to be with the Lord. Wherever with the Lord in material world or spiritual world, wherever we are that’s actually a pure desire, you see, but not that even if Krishna gives us liberation, then, “Oh, we’re going to…” then… “alright, now we are going to think about the next step.” We don’t want to… just like aim our sights at some kind of intermediate stage along the way, as far as possible. If we do, then we’ll get up to that point. We may just get stuck, you see. Someone may know, “Well, if you wanna go from here to uh… to Tokyo, you know, there's so many stops on the way, so first let me get to LA, then let me get to next place, you know.” But you know how it is. Say a devotee wants to get to there, he’s gotta work his way first to LA, he is gonna work… what happens, probably along the way, might get stuck up. Sometimes, “Well, I’ll just stay here.”
Material life… you may not make it, of course if you’re determined enough, you may still make it. At least you are heading in the right… therefore the sastras encourage, “Alright do… somehow or other do devotional service.” You are at least going in the right direction. But then, there is also the instruction that,
kṛṣṇa-bhakta-niṣkāma, ataeva 'śānta'
bhukti-mukti-siddhi-kāmī sakali 'aśānta'
That one should try to aim at the ultimate, pure devotion, you see, without any separate tinge, and it is very complex, it’s not… may not just be, you see… it’s described, may not just be that “Oh, it’s pure tama or pure raja, or pure sattva.” There may be two parts sattva, one part tama, and two parts raja. It may be, you know. It can maybe… or, add 27 different combinations, and then again three, get 81 different combinations. It may… a devotee may have you know, so many different kinds subtle, little, things there. It may actually be zero tama, zero raja, zero sattva, but then a third of a part of sattva, slight mix is there. Just even then a tinge of attachment for this particular thing over that. So of course that’s all very complicated by seeing, therefore to just simplify the whole thing we try to just understand what are the eight prayers of Lord Caitanya, where He gives the siksastakam which says:
na dhanaṁ na janaṁ na sundarīṁ
kavitāṁ vā jagad-īśa kāmaye
mama janmani janmanīśvare
bhavatād bhaktir ahaitukī tvayi
No desire for wealth, na dhanaṁ na janaṁ, no desire for so many followers, na sundarīṁ, not desire to enjoy more sense gratification. When they say sundarim, beautiful women, this means the enjoying mood. To enjoy, you see, sex life, to enjoy the opposite sex, that means… for a woman sundarim, even though it may be written in the feminine, that means for them that may be men, or any object of enjoyment like that. Lord Caitanya, He didn’t have the desire. He gave it up. “I don’t want these things.”
na dhanaṁ na janaṁ na sundarīṁ
kavitāṁ vā jagad-īśa kāmaye
mama janmani janmanīśvare
bhavatād bhaktir ahaitukī tvayi
janmani janmanīśvare, even birth after birth, all I want is Your causeless devotional service, even birth after birth. “No matter who You… No matter what You do…” you see, “…whether You take me this birth or whether You say, ‘Ah, you can wait another birth.’ Still I simply want to engage in Your devotional service. I have no other desire. I simply wanted to engage in Your causeless devotional service. There is no other goal in my life.” That is a pure devotee. Not material, not even spiritual desire, not any even spiritual separate motive, simply the motive, “Serve Krishna.” “Whatever is pleasing to You Krishna. That’s my only goal, that’s my only objective.”
Therefore, the devotee can actually taste the real nectar which is love of Krishna, because there is no short circuits, there is nowhere where the energy is being diverted. It is going directly to Krishna. In the eight sloka of siksastakam, where He is says, “That whether You embrace Me, or whether You trample Me under Your feet, or throw Me aside, whatever You do, You are My only master.”
So the devotee, you see, because they surrender unconditionally to Krishna: Unconditional surrender, that Krishna says, “Ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham. According to how you approach Me, I will reciprocate with you.” you see. The devotee knows that… that He has the most wonderful qualities, all the good qualities are only coming from Him. He is a reservoir of all good qualities guno-dhama. Not that the devotee fully surrenders unto Krishna, Krishna is going to neglect the devotee in any way.
If for any reason, he keeps the devotee in any kind of suspense, it is simply to increase the desire of that devotee. Just like Krishna apparently left Vrindavana, although He was there in His bhava-rupa, in His bhava form. That gave the… that gave the residents of Vrindavan an even more intense experience of love for Krishna, what’s that, what is it? Eka padam na gacchati, or something like that. He doesn’t even take one step out of Vrndavana, but He became invisible for a while just to increase that love for the de… Because Krishna’s presence and non presence is non-different. When a devotee is fully desiring the presence of Krishna, sometimes that devotion is more intense.
Even we saw what Srila Prabhupada, this type of a circumstance. The devotees were always hankering, “When will we see Prabhupada? When will we see Prabhupada ?” Always thinking Prabhupada is coming, he is coming. Very high level of enthusiasm or anticipation of desire, it comes up, right? Then the spiritual master comes, there’s that union, wonderful uh, experience. Everyone’s jumping, and crying and shouting, right? Then he gives a first couple of lectures, but, then they gradually, the devotee may start to become distracted again, start remembering other thing, and then even though the spiritual master is there, he may… mind may go off, just due to not being at that level, or just due to nature, whatever you wanna call it, so in such a circumstance, then what was better? That was better that when they… in anticipation, they were in a higher level of Krishna consciousness even when… when in presence, you see. Because when he wasn’t there, there was no opportunity to think of anything else, because of that feeling of separation there, and when he is there, you see, then some kind of… after a while, some self satisfaction or some type of uh… taking for granted of the whole situation, then again the mind may get some… may go off, or that intensity, it can be little bit reduced, even someone who is not materially not going to go off anywhere, but still the intensity can change.
So, that’s why we are always seeing that, that there is always this coming and going, union and separation, it’s all… it just adds… the spice of life is variety, right? Variety is the spice of life, so not that every time it’s all the same, sometimes Krishna is there. Sometimes He is not. Apparently they are… Actually Krishna is actually always there, but sometimes He is visible, sometimes He is invisible. So for the devotees that creates all various type of emotions and anticipations and desires, which are all very relishable on the spiritual platform.
If you offer any other Vrindavana… brija-vāsīs, “That alright, because Krisha has left you…” “Okay Lalita, Visakha, Krishna has left you, so you come off and uh.. you know, go some other place, what’s the use?” Do you think they care for any other place? Or any other thing? They are absorbed, so much so, Uddhava came there to give them instructions, “My dear brija-vāsīs…” started to give them lessons and philosophy, and everything, and then he saw that what was the level of their devotion. That how absorbed they were, how Radharani is uh, lecturing, how… speaking to the bumblebee.
So they are all mad after Krishna, that their absorption in Krishna, and service to Krishna was so intense, that He could… He couldn’t conceive at all. It was beyond. He just then started to pray that “Just if I could somehow, in my future life, maybe become a little… there’s a creeper here in Vrindavan, then they may put their lotus feet on my head. That would be the highest uh, perfection for me, to somehow or another to get the association of these exalted souls. Their devotion is so pure, that uh, it’s… it’s inexplicable.
Uddhava was already the friend of Krishna. He can walk in Krishna’s uh… he can walk right in Krishna’s room anytime, you know. Someone else, even Brahma has to knock on the door,
“Wait a while.”
“Which Brahma?” Right?
So… but no. Uddhava, he can walk right in anytime. That was a… he was so… but then he saw the gopis. Then he said, “Hare Krishna.” Their devotion is inconceivable. Why did Krishna sent them there? Not only to be messanger but to Krishna but to learn. So devotional service is a great science. It’s a great science, and it is to be understood, only from the pure devotees. You cannot understand pure devotion from uh, anyone else, you see. Not from uh, the impersonalist, not from the karma kandi, not from the yogis. They all… the contemporary uh, modern guru, a lot of them try to teach little bit, “Oh, bhakti-yoga, yes.” They may throw a little bit. They have no idea about bhakti-yoga. Bhakti-yoga cannot be taught by anyone else, except for a bhakti-yogi.
Bhakti-yogi can give you the run down and teach you some other system, just like Vidura taught Dhrtarastra, “Allright, you do mystic yoga.” But those are all contained. It’s just like when you go up to the Ph.D. level, you don’t… and then you don’t… you are in a different… whole different level, you don’t have to sit for a final exam anymore. There you have to write your thesis, right? You have to print… publish a book, so like that the exams for the pure devotee are not the same as… the mystic yogi has to mechanically, “Alright, now, shift the airs. Kundalini-cakra homing in.” you know, then up, you know mechanically controlling, (imitates tooling sound) tuning everything in with the body, it’s not like that, you see. It’s not mechanical anymore.
When it comes in the higher devotional service it requires… even in the beginning of devotion, viddhi-bhakti, that’s mechanical. When they get into the more uh, intense devotional service, then one has to just become more and more straightforward with Krishna, with the guru, has to become more and more honest. Therefore even a devotee may have difficulty sometimes, has to be thoroughly honest. Satvatam. Srnvatam, see.
One has to be thoroughly honest, straightforward. Then one can make advancement in devotional service at the highest levels, you see. In the beginning ofcourse anything in the cause of devotion, there’s no loss, but as one is getting more and more responsible, then one has to become more and more honest, straightforward with Krishna, you see. There is no other morality. The only morality is following the orders of the spiritual master and Krishna, being completely straightforward in devotional service, that is the morality.
Devotees: Hare Krishna.
Transcribed by Sadananda Krishna Prema Dasa
Revised by Jagannatha dasa Brahmacari