No edit permissions for Croatian


The Perfect Devotee

Māyāpur, India – February 29, 1972, evening

Bob: Śrīla Prabhupāda, earlier today we were discussing the need to practice austerity in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Can you say something more about that?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, under the direction of the spiritual master one should practice austerities. You have no mind to follow austerities, but when you accept a spiritual master you have to carry out his order. That is austerity.

Śyāmasundara: Even if you don’t want to practice austerity, you must.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, you must. Because you have surrendered to your spiritual master, his order is final. So even if you don’t like it, you have to do it. To please me.

Śyāmasundara: Ah.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: But you don’t like it. [He laughs.] Nobody likes to fast, but the spiritual master says, “Today, fasting,” so what can be done? [Śyāmasundara laughs.] A disciple is one who has voluntarily agreed to be disciplined by the spiritual master. That is austerity.

Śyāmasundara: Many people in the material world may be completely enamored by material life, and they don’t want to undergo any austerity or bodily pain, but still they must. They are forced by nature to suffer austerities.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is forced austerity. That is not good. Only voluntary austerity will help.

Śyāmasundara: But if you don’t undergo voluntary austerity, then you must be forced to undergo austerity?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: That is the difference between man and animal. An animal cannot accept austerity voluntarily, but a man can accept it. Suppose there are some nice sweetmeats in the confectioner’s shop. A man wants to eat them, but he sees that he has no money so he restrains himself. But when a cow comes, immediately she pushes her mouth in. You may beat her with a stick, but she will tolerate it. Therefore an animal cannot undergo austerity.

But our austerity is very nice. We chant Hare Kṛṣṇa and dance, and then Kṛṣṇa sends very nice food and we eat. That’s all. Why are you not agreeable to such austerity? Chanting, dancing, and eating nicely? And because we are following austerities, Kṛṣṇa sends us nice things. So we are not losers. When you become Kṛṣṇaized, you get more comforts than at the present moment. That’s a fact. I have been living alone for the last twenty years, but I have no difficulties. Before taking sannyāsa I was living in Delhi. And although I was living alone, I had no difficulties.

Śyāmasundara: If you don’t accept spiritual discipline, then nature will force so many calamities.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Oh, yes. Kṛṣṇa states that in the Bhagavad-gītā [7.14]:

daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī
mama māyā duratyayā
mām eva ye prapadyante
māyām etāṁ taranti te

[“This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.”] Māyā is imposing so many difficulties, but as soon as you surrender to Kṛṣṇa, no more imposition.

Śyāmasundara: We were so foolish that we were always thinking, “In the future I’ll be happy.”

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, that is māyā, illusion. That is like the ass. You sit down on the back of the ass and hold a morsel of food in front of its face. The ass is thinking, “Let me go forward a little, and I shall get the grass.” [Bob laughs.] But it is always one foot distant. That is ass-ism. [They all laugh.] Everyone is thinking, “Let me go a little forward, and I’ll get it. I’ll be very happy.”

[There is a long pause, filled with the sound of bicycle horns, children playing, and throngs of people calling to one another.]

Bob: I thank you so much. Tomorrow I’ll have to leave you.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Don’t talk l-e-a-v-e, but talk l-i-v-e.

Bob: I cannot yet. I must return to my town tomorrow.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Don’t return.

Bob: I should stay here tomorrow?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Stay here.

Bob: If you tell me to, I’ll stay.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, you are a very good boy. [There is a long pause. It is now much quieter.] It is very simple. When the living entities forget Kṛṣṇa, they are in this material world. “Kṛṣṇa” means His name, His form, His abode, His pastimes – everything. When we speak of a king, it means the king’s government, his palace, his queen, his sons, his secretaries, his military strength, his activities – everything. Is it not?

Bob: Yes.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Similarly, since Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as soon as we think of Kṛṣṇa, this means we are in touch with Kṛṣṇa and all His energies. That is complete by saying “Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa.” Rādhā represents all the energies of Kṛṣṇa, and Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Lord. So when we speak of Kṛṣṇa, the living entities are also included because the living entities are one of the energies of Kṛṣṇa – His superior energy. When this energy is not serving the energetic, that is material existence. The whole world is not serving Kṛṣṇa. Or, they are serving Kṛṣṇa indirectly, just as disobedient citizens serve the government indirectly. Prisoners come to the prison house on account of their disobedience of the laws of the state. But in the prison house they are forced to obey the laws of the state. Similarly, all the living entities here are godless, either by ignorance or by choice. They do not like to accept the supremacy of God. Demoniac. So we are trying to bring them to their original condition. That is the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement.

Bob: I’d like to ask you about something I talked with the devotees about: medicine. I walked to the river with some devotees today. I have a cold, so I said I shouldn’t go in the water. Some felt I should because it is the Ganges, and some said I shouldn’t because I have a cold, and we were talking, and I don’t understand. Do we get sick because of our bad actions in the past?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, that’s a fact. Any kind of distress we suffer is due to our impious activities in the past.

Bob: But when someone is removed from karmic influence, does he still get sick?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: No. Or, even if he gets sick, that is very temporary. For instance, this fan is moving. If you disconnect the electric power, the fan will move for a few moments. That movement is not due to the electric current. It is due to – what is it called?

Śyāmasundara: Momentum.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Momentum. But as soon as the momentum is gone, no more movement. Similarly, even if a devotee who has surrendered to Kṛṣṇa is suffering from material consequences, that is temporary. Therefore, a devotee does not take any material miseries as miseries. He takes them as Kṛṣṇa’s, God’s, mercy.

Bob: That attitude seems possible only for a perfected soul.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: A perfected soul is one who engages twenty-four hours a day in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That is perfection. That is a transcendental position. Perfection means to engage in one’s original consciousness. That Kṛṣṇa states in the Bhagavad-gītā [8.15]:

mām upetya punar janma
duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam
nāpnuvanti mahātmānaḥ
saṁsiddhiṁ paramāṁ gatāḥ

“Anyone who comes to Me does not return to this miserable, temporary material world. That is complete perfection.” Saṁsiddhi. Siddhi is perfection. That is Brahman realization, spiritual realization. And saṁsiddhi means devotion, which comes after Brahman realization.

Bob: Could you just say that last thing again please?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Saṁsiddhi.

Bob: Yes.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Sam means “complete,” and siddhi means “perfection.” In the Bhagavad-gītā it is stated that one who goes back home, back to Godhead, has attained complete perfection. So perfection comes when one realizes that he is not this body; he is spirit soul. That is the brahma-bhūta stage, called Brahman realization. That is perfection. And saṁsiddhi, complete perfection, comes after Brahman realization, when one engages in devotional service. Therefore if one is already engaged in devotional service, it is to be understood that Brahman realization is there. Therefore it is called saṁsiddhi.

Bob: I ask you this very humbly, but do you feel diseases and sickness?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes.

Bob: Is this a result of your past karma?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes.

Bob: So one in this material world never escapes his karma completely?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, he escapes. No more karma for a devotee. No more karmic reaction.

Bob: But you must be the best devotee.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, I don’t consider myself the best devotee. I am the lowest.

Bob: No!

Śrīla Prabhupāda: You are the best devotee.

Bob: [Laughs.] Oh, no, no! What you say always seems right, so you must be the best devotee.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: The thing is that even the best devotee comes to the second-class platform when he preaches.

Bob: What would the best devotee be doing?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: The best devotee does not preach.

Bob: What does he do?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: He sees that there is no need of preaching. For him, everyone is a devotee. [Bob laughs heartily.] Yes, he sees no more nondevotees – all devotees. He is called an uttama-adhikārī. But while I am preaching, how can I say I am the best devotee? Just like Rādhārāṇī – She does not see anyone as a nondevotee. Therefore we try to approach Rādhārāṇī.

Bob: Who is this?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Rādhārāṇī, Kṛṣṇa’s consort.

Bob: Ah.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: If anyone approaches Rādhārāṇī, She recommends to Kṛṣṇa, “Here is the best devotee; he is better than Me,” and Kṛṣṇa cannot refuse him. That is the best devotee. But it is not to be imitated: “I have become the best devotee.” Āśvare tad-adhīneṣu bāliśeṣu dviṣatsu ca. A second-class devotee has the vision that some are envious of God, but this is not the vision of the best devotee. The best devotee sees, “Nobody is envious of God. Everyone is better than me.” Just like Caitanya-caritāmṛta’s author, Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja. He says, “I am lower than the worm in the stool.”

Bob: Who is saying this?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja, the author of Caitanya-caritāmṛta: purīṣera kīṭa haite muñi se laghiṣṭha. He is not making a show. He is feeling like that. “I am the lowest. Everyone is best, but I am the lowest. Everyone else is engaged in Kṛṣṇa’s service, but I am not engaged.” Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, “Oh, I have not a pinch of devotion to Kṛṣṇa. I cry to make a show. If I had been a devotee of Kṛṣṇa, I would have died long ago. But I am living. That is the proof that I do not love Kṛṣṇa.” That is the vision of the best devotee. He is so much absorbed in Kṛṣṇa’s love that he says, “Everyone else is a devotee, but I am the lowest. Therefore I cannot see God.” That is the best devotee.

Bob: So a devotee must work for everybody’s liberation?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. A devotee must work under the direction of a bona fide spiritual master, not imitate the best devotee.

Śyāmasundara: Once you said that sometimes you feel sickness or pain due to the sinful activities of your devotees. Can disease sometimes be due to that?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: You see, Kṛṣṇa says, ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ: “I will deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.” Kṛṣṇa is so powerful that He can take up all the sins of others and immediately make them right. But when a living entity acts on behalf of Kṛṣṇa, he also takes the responsibility for the sinful activities of his devotees. Therefore to become a guru is not an easy task. You see? He has to take all the poisons and absorb them. So sometimes – because he is not Kṛṣṇa – there is some trouble.

Therefore Caitanya Mahāprabhu has forbidden, “Don’t make many disciples.” But for preaching work, to expand the preaching, we have to accept many disciples, even if we suffer. That’s a fact. The spiritual master has to take the responsibility for all the sinful activities of his disciples. Therefore to make many disciples is a risky job unless one is able to assimilate all the sins.

vāñchā-kalpa-tarubhyaś ca
kṛpā-sindhubhya eva ca
patitānāṁ pāvanebhyo
vaiṣṇavebhyo namo namaḥ

[“I offer my respectful obeisances unto all the Vaiṣṇava devotees of the Lord. Just like desire trees, they can fulfill the desires of everyone, and they are full of compassion for the fallen conditioned souls.”] The spiritual master takes responsibility for all the fallen souls. That idea is also in the Bible. Jesus Christ took all the sinful reactions of the people and sacrificed his life. That is the responsibility of a spiritual master. Because Kṛṣṇa is Kṛṣṇa, He is apāpa-viddha – He cannot be attacked by sinful reactions. But a living entity is sometimes subjected to their influence because he is so small. Big fire, small fire. If you put some big thing in a small fire, the fire itself may be extinguished. But in a big fire, whatever you put in is burned up. The big fire can consume anything.

Bob: Christ’s suffering was of that nature?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: He took the sinful reactions of all the people. Therefore he suffered.

Bob: I see.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: In the Bible it is said that he took all the sinful reactions of the people and sacrificed his life. But these Christian people have made it a law for Christ to suffer while they do all nonsense. Such great fools they are! They have let Jesus Christ make a contract for taking all their sinful reactions so they can go on with all nonsense. That is their religion. Christ was so magnanimous that he took all their sins and suffered, but that does not induce them to stop all these sins. They have not come to that sense. They have taken it very easily: “Let Lord Jesus Christ suffer, and we’ll do all nonsense.” Is it not?

Bob: It is so.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: They should have been ashamed: “Lord Jesus Christ suffered for us, but we are continuing the sinful activities.” He told everyone, “Thou shalt not kill,” but they are indulging in killing, thinking, “Lord Jesus Christ will excuse us and take all the sinful reactions.” This is going on.

We should be very cautious: “For my sinful actions my spiritual master will suffer, so I’ll not commit even a pinch of sinful activities.” That is the duty of the disciple. After initiation, all sinful reaction is finished. Now if he again commits sinful activities, his spiritual master has to suffer. A disciple should be sympathetic and consider that for his sinful activities his spiritual master will suffer. If the spiritual master is attacked by some disease, it is due to the sinful activities of others. Therefore the injunction is “Don’t make many disciples.” But we do it because we are preaching. Never mind, let us suffer; still we shall accept these disciples.

So your question was whether when I suffer it is due to my past misdeeds. Was it not? That is my misdeed – that I accepted some disciples who are nonsense. That is my misdeed.

Bob: This happens on occasion?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. This is sure to happen because we are accepting so many disciples. It is the duty of the disciples to be cautious. “My spiritual master has saved me. I should not put him again into suffering.” Of course, when the spiritual master is suffering, Kṛṣṇa saves him. Kṛṣṇa thinks, ”Oh, he has taken so much responsibility for delivering fallen persons.” So Kṛṣṇa says, kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati: “O son of Kuntī, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes.” The spiritual master is protected because he takes the risk on account of Kṛṣṇa.

Bob: Your suffering is not the same kind of pain we feel.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, it is not due to karma. The pain is there sometimes, so that the disciples may know, “Due to our sinful activities, our spiritual master is suffering.”

Bob: You look very well now.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: I am always well in the sense that even if there is suffering I know Kṛṣṇa will protect me. But this suffering is not due to my sinful activities.

Bob: In the town I live in, I take boiled water because some of the water has disease in it. Now, why should I drink boiled water if I have been good enough not to get a disease? Then I may drink any water. And if I have been not acting properly, then I shall get disease anyway.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: So long as you are in the material world, you cannot neglect physical laws. Suppose you go to a jungle and there is a tiger. It is known that it will attack you, so why should you voluntarily go and be attacked? It is not that a devotee should take unnecessary physical risks. He shouldn’t think, “Now that I have become a devotee, I challenge everything.” That is foolishness.

anāsaktasya viṣayān
yathārham upayuñjataḥ
nirbandhaḥ kṛṣṇa-sambandhe
yuktaṁ vairāgyam ucyate

The devotee is advised to accept the necessities of life without attachment. He’ll take boiled water, but if boiled water is not available, does it mean he will not drink water? If it is not available, he will drink ordinary water. We take Kṛṣṇa prasādam, but while touring we sometimes have to take some food in a hotel. Because one is a devotee, should he think, “I will not take any food from the hotel. I shall starve”? If I starve, then I will be weak and will not be able to preach.

Bob: Does a devotee lose some of his individuality?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, he has full individuality for pleasing Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa says, “You surrender unto Me.” So he voluntarily surrenders. It is not that he has lost his individuality. He keeps his individuality. Just like Arjuna: in the beginning he was declining to fight on account of his individuality. But when he accepted Kṛṣṇa as his spiritual master, he became a disciple. Then whatever Kṛṣṇa ordered, he said yes. That doesn’t mean he lost his individuality. He voluntarily accepted: “Whatever Kṛṣṇa says, I shall do it.”

Or just like all my disciples: they have not lost their individuality, but they have surrendered their individuality. That is required. For example, suppose a man does not indulge in sex. It does not mean he has become impotent. If he likes, he can have sex a thousand times. But he has voluntarily avoided it. Paraṁ dṛṣṭvā nivartate: he has a higher taste. Sometimes we fast, but that does not mean we are diseased. We voluntarily fast. It does not mean that I am not hungry or cannot eat. But we voluntarily fast.

Bob: Does the devotee who surrenders keep his individual taste for different things?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes.

Bob: Does he keep his individual likes and dislikes?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, he keeps everything in full. But he gives preference to Kṛṣṇa. Suppose I like something but Kṛṣṇa says, “No, you cannot use it.” Then I shall not use it. I give it up for Kṛṣṇa’s sake. Positively, Kṛṣṇa says, “I like these things.” So we have to offer to Kṛṣṇa what He likes, and then we take prasādam. Kṛṣṇa likes Rādhārāṇī. Therefore all the gopīs are trying to push Rādhārāṇī to Kṛṣṇa. “Kṛṣṇa likes this gopī. All right, push Her forward to Him.” That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness – to satisfy the senses of Kṛṣṇa, not to satisfy my senses. That is bhakti. That is called prema, love for Kṛṣṇa. “Ah, Kṛṣṇa likes this. I must give Him this.”

Bob: Some prasādam I like, and some I find not at all to my liking.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: You should not do that. The perfection is that whatever is offered to Kṛṣṇa you should accept. That is perfection. You cannot say, “I like this, I don’t like this.” So long as you make such discrimination, that means you have not appreciated what prasādam is. No disliking, no liking. Whatever Kṛṣṇa likes, that’s all right.

A devotee: But suppose someone prepares something for Kṛṣṇa but does not make it so nicely.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, if made sincerely with devotion, then Kṛṣṇa will like it. Just like Vidura. Vidura was feeding Kṛṣṇa bananas, but he was so absorbed in thought that he was throwing away the real bananas and giving Kṛṣṇa the skin, and Kṛṣṇa was eating. [All laugh.] Kṛṣṇa knew that he was giving Him the skins in devotion, and Kṛṣṇa can eat anything, provided there is devotion. It doesn’t matter whether it is materially tasty or not. Similarly, a devotee also takes Kṛṣṇa prasādam whether it is tasty or not. We should accept everything.

A devotee: But if the devotion is not there?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: If devotion is not there, Kṛṣṇa doesn’t like any food, either tasty or not tasty. He does not accept it.

A devotee: In India … 

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Oh, India, India. Don’t talk of India! Talk of philosophy. If there is no devotion, Kṛṣṇa does not accept anything, whether in India or in your country. Lord Kṛṣṇa is not obliged to accept anything costly because it is very tasty. Kṛṣṇa has very many tasty dishes in Vaikuṇṭha. He is not hankering after your food. He accepts your devotion, bhakti. The real thing is devotion, not the food. Kṛṣṇa does not accept any food of this material world. He accepts only the devotion.

patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ
yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam
aśnāmi prayatātmanaḥ

“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or water, I will accept it, because it has been offered to Me with devotion and love.” [Gītā 9.26] It is devotion that is required. Therefore we do not allow anyone to cook who is not a devotee. Kṛṣṇa does not accept anything from the hands of a nondevotee. Why should He accept? He is not hungry. He does not require any food. He accepts only the devotion, that’s all. That is the main point.

So one has to become a devotee, not a good cook. But if he is a devotee, then he will be a good cook also. Automatically he will become a good cook. Therefore one has to become a devotee only. Then all other good qualifications will automatically be there. And if he is a nondevotee, any good qualifications have no value. He is on the mental plane, so he has no good qualification.

Bob: I still do not understand so much about prasādam.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Prasādam is always prasādam. But because we are not elevated sufficiently, therefore we do not like some prasādam.

Bob: I find that some prasādam is too spicy and hurts my stomach.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Well, that is also due to not appreciating, but the cook should have some consideration. Kṛṣṇa must be offered first-class foods. So if the cook offers something last class, he is not performing his duty. But Kṛṣṇa can accept anything if it is offered by a devotee, and a devotee can accept any prasādam, even if it is spicy. Hiraṇyakaśipu gave his son poison, and after offering it to Kṛṣṇa the son drank it as nectar and remained unharmed.

So even if prasādam is very spicy to others, it is very palatable to the devotee. What is the question of spicy? Kṛṣṇa was offered poison, real poison, by Pūtanā Rākṣasī. But He is so nice that He thought, “She came to Me as My mother.” So He took the poison and delivered her. Kṛṣṇa does not take the bad side. A good man does not take the bad side – he takes only the good side. Just like one of my Godbrothers: he wanted to make business with my Guru Mahārāja [spiritual master]. But my Guru Mahārāja did not take the bad side. He took the good side. He thought, “He has come forward to give me some service.”

Bob: Let us say some devotee has some medical trouble and cannot eat a certain type of food. For instance, some devotees do not eat ghee because of liver trouble. So should these devotees also take all kinds of prasādam?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, no. Those who are not perfect devotees may discriminate. But a perfect devotee does not discriminate. Why should you imitate a perfect devotee? So long as you have discrimination, you are not a perfect devotee. So why should you artificially imitate a perfect devotee and eat everything?

The point is, a perfect devotee does not make any discrimination. Whatever is offered to Kṛṣṇa is nectar. That’s all. Kṛṣṇa accepts anything from a devotee. “Whatever is offered to Me by My devotee, I accept.” The same thing is true for a pure devotee. Don’t you see the point? A perfect devotee does not make any discrimination. But if I am not a perfect devotee and I discriminate, why should I imitate the perfect devotee? It may not be possible for me to digest everything because I am not a perfect devotee. A devotee should not be a foolish man. It is said: kṛṣṇa ye bhaje se baḍa catura. So a devotee knows his position, and he is intelligent enough to deal with others accordingly.

« Previous Next »