By Jaya Gaursundar Dasa GauraVanacari

All-Attractive Hari-Kathā:

By hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam regularly and always taking the matter very seriously the Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa manifests in the heart very shortly.

śṛṇvataḥ śraddhayā nityaṁngṛṇataś ca sva-ceṣṭitam
kālena nātidīrgheṇa bhagavān viśate hṛdi 
(SB 2.8.4)

“Parīkṣit Mahārāja attained salvation simply by hearing, and Śukadeva Gosvāmī attained salvation simply by chanting.

Mahārāja Parīkṣit, the personification of Hearing (śrī-viṣṇoḥ śravaṇe parīkṣid abhavad) personally recommends that one hear Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam regularly, always (nityam) by oneself with serious devotion. That will help one to see the Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa manifested in one’s heart within no time. (Purport by Srila Prabhupada)

The sound incarnation of Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Soul [i.e., Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam], enters into the heart of a devotee, sits on the lotus flower of his loving relationship, and thus cleanses the dust of material association, such as lust, anger and hankering.

praviṣṭaḥ karṇa-randhreṇa svānāṁ bhāva-saroruham
dhunoti śamalaṁ kṛṣṇaḥ salilasya yathā śarat
 (SB 2.8.5)

Similar quote: Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramātmā (Super soul) in everyone’s heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who then relishes virtuous messages of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

śṛṇvatāṁ sva-kathāḥ kṛṣṇaḥ puṇya-śravaṇa-kīrtanaḥ
hṛdy antaḥ stho hy abhadrāṇi vidhunoti suhṛt satām 
(SB 1.2.17)

It is the special mercy of the Supreme Lord that as soon as He knows that one is glorifying His name, fame and attributes He personally helps cleanse the dirt from one’s heart. Simply by such glorification not only one becomes purified but also achieves the results of pious activities (puṇya-śravaṇa- kīrtana). Puṇya-śravaṇa-kīrtana refers to the process of devotional service. Even if one does not understand the meaning of the Lord’s name, pastimes or attributes, one is purified simply by hearing or chanting of them. Such purification is called sattva-bhāvana.

Therefore by regular attendance in classes on the Bhāgavatam and by rendering of service to the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is almost completely destroyed and loving service unto the Personality of Godhead, who is praised with transcendental songs (uttama-śloke) is established.

naṣṭa-prāyeṣv abhadreṣu nityaṁ bhāgavata-sevayā
bhagavaty uttama-śloke bhaktir bhavati naiṣṭhikī
, (SB 1.2.18)

When Lord Kṛṣṇa descends to this world in His original two-handed form, out of kindness He manifests that form in a way His devotees conditioned in human society can perceive and understand. To show mercy to His devotees, as will attract those who hear about them to become dedicated to Him. He assumes a humanlike body and engages in conjugal pastimes that have an inconceivable spiritual potency to attract the polluted heart of conditioned souls. Therefore any pure- or simple-hearted person who hears narrations of the loving affairs of Kṛṣṇa will be attracted to the lotus feet of the Lord and gradually become His devotee.

anugrahāya bhaktānāṁ mānuṣaṁ deham āsthitaḥ
bhajate tādṛśīḥ krīḍa yāḥ śrutvā tat-paro bhavet
 (SB 10.33.36)

Those pastimes in the form mature fruit become even more tasteful when emanated from the lips of Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī in form of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. The necterian juice of that mature fruit of the desire tree of Vedic literatures was already relish able for all, including liberated souls. Therefore ‘O expert and thoughtful men, relish it.’

nigama-kalpa-taror galitaṁ phalaṁ śuka-mukhād amṛta-drava-saṁyutam
pibata bhāgavataṁ rasam ālayam muhur aho rasikā bhuvi bhāvukāḥ
 (SB 1.1.3)

Overwhelmed by feelings of separation from Kṛṣṇa, the gopīs sat down on the bank of the Yamunā and began praying for His audience and singing His glories like this: “The nectar of Your words and the descriptions of Your activities are the life and soul of those suffering in this material world. These narrations, transmitted by learned sages, eradicate one’s sinful reactions and bestow good fortune upon whoever hears them. These narrations are broadcast all over the world and are filled with spiritual power. Certainly those who spread the message of Godhead are most munificent.” This is in side of that necterian fruit (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam)

tava kathāmṛtaṁ tapta-jīvanaṁ
kavibhir īḍitaṁ kalmaṣāpaham
śravaṇa-maṅgalaṁ śrīmad ātataṁ
bhuvi gṛṇanti ye bhūri-dā janāḥ
 (SB 10.31.9)

Anyone who faithfully hears or describes the Lord’s playful affairs with the young gopīs of Vṛndāvana will attain the Lord’s pure devotional service.

vikrīḍitaṁ vraja-vadhūbhir idaṁ ca viṣṇoḥ
śraddhānvito ’nuśṛṇuyād atha varṇayed yaḥ
bhaktiṁ parāṁ bhagavati pratilabhya 
(SB 10.33.39)

Therefore, Śrī Prabuddha advises King Nimi that “One should hear, glorify and meditate upon the wonderful transcendental activities of the Lord. One should specifically become absorbed in the appearance, activities, qualities and holy names of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus inspired, one should perform all of one’s daily activities as an offering to the Lord.”

śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ dhyānaṁ
harer adbhuta-karmaṇaḥ
janma-karma-guṇānāṁ ca
tad-arthe ’khila-ceṣṭitam
 (SB 11.3.27)

One who desires his ultimate self-interest should cultivate friendship with those persons who have accepted Kṛṣṇa as the Lord of their life. One should learn how to associate with the devotees of the Lord by gathering with them to chant the glories of the Lord. This process is most purifying. As devotees thus develop their loving friendship, they feel mutual happiness and satisfaction. And by thus encouraging one another they are able to give up material sense gratification, which is the cause of all suffering.

parasparānukathanaṁ
pāvanaṁ bhagavad-yaśaḥ
mitho ratir mithas tuṣṭir
nivṛttir mitha ātmanaḥ 
(SB 11.3.30)

Hearing from Nārada’s mouth the glories of the Lord, which vanquish all the ill fortune of the world, the Pracetās the sons of King Prācīnabarhi also became attached to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Nārada described the glories of the Lord as follows:

śriyam anucaratīṁ tad-arthinaś ca dvipada-patīn vibudhāṁś ca yat sva-pūrṇaḥ na bhajati nija-bhṛtya-varga-tantraḥ katham amum udvisṛjet pumān kṛta-jñaḥ” (SB 4.31.22)

Although the Supreme Personality of Godhead is self-sufficient, He becomes dependent on His devotees. He does not care for the goddess of fortune, nor for the kings and demigods who are after the favors of the goddess of fortune. Where is that person who is actually grateful and will not worship the Personality of Godhead? – katham amum udvisṛjet pumān kṛta-jñaḥ?

Prabhupada writes: All materialistic men, including big kings, and demigods in heaven worship Lakṣmī, the goddess of fortune. But Lakṣmī, however, is always after the Supreme Personality of Godhead, even though He does not require her service or service from millions of goddesses of fortune. In Brahma-saṁhitā it is mentioned that the Lord is worshiped by hundreds and thousands of goddesses of fortune, but the Supreme Lord does not require service from any of them because if He so desires He can produce millions of goddesses of fortune through His spiritual energy, the pleasure potency. This very Personality of Godhead, out of His causeless mercy, becomes dependent on the devotees. How fortunate, then, is a devotee who is thus favored by the Personality of Godhead. What ungrateful devotee will not worship the Lord and enter into His devotional service?

King Parīkṣit was interested in hearing kṛṣṇa-kathā elaborately (from the beginning to the end of life, the wonderful, glorious activities and character of Lord Viṣṇu, or Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supersoul, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, (the cause of the cosmic manifestation) who appeared in that Yadu dynasty with Baladeva, His plenary expansion.

Because glorification of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is performed in the paramparā system, that is, it is conveyed from the spiritual master to disciple. Such glorification is relished by those no longer interested in the false, temporary glorification of this cosmic manifestation. Descriptions of the Lord are the right medicine for the conditioned soul undergoing repeated birth and death. Therefore, who will cease hearing such glorification of the Lord except a butcher or one who is killing his own self?

nivṛtta-tarṣair upagīyamānād
bhavauṣadhāc chrotra-mano-’bhirāmāt
ka uttamaśloka-guṇānuvādāt
pumān virajyeta vinā paśughnāt
 (SB 10.1.4)

This Hari-kathā is attractive for all. It is sung by those who are already on the liberated platform due to being free from all material hankerings. It is the medicine [for those who are aiming for liberation]. Moreover, it gives pleasure to the ears and minds [of those who are complete materialists]. Due to all these reasons, which person will cease from hearing such kathā, except for a butcher or the killer of his own soul?

Srila Prabhupada mentions that Kṛṣṇa-kathā is very simple. In Bhagavad-gītā it is said that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As He Himself explains, mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiñcid asti dhanañjaya: “O Arjuna, there is no truth superior to Me.” (Bg. 7.7) Simply by understanding this fact — that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead — one can become a liberated person. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has advised us to hear the glories of the Lord from a realized person (bhāgavata paro diya bhāgavata sthane). A Vaiṣṇava is nivṛtta-tṛṣṇa; that is, he has no material purpose, for his only purpose is to preach Kṛṣṇa consciousness. A qualified reciter of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam gives the right medicine (bhavauṣadhi) for the conditioned souls. Anyone who is not Kṛṣṇa conscious and does not engage in the service of the Lord is also paśu-ghna. Kṛṣṇa-kathā is called bhavauṣadha, the remedy to stop the repetition of birth and death.

According to Srila Sridhar Swami there are three types of people in this world.

First type is the liberated souls- nivṛtta-tarṣair who are freed from all types of material hankerings. Bhāgavata kathā is sung by them. The liberated souls (Muktas) are of two types Jñānīs and bhaktas. Jñānīs or muktas are those who have achieved four types of liberations (sālokya, sāmīpya, sārūpya and sārṣṭi). The term nivṛtta-tarṣair means that such kathā is sung by the bhaktas, the devotees. Upa – means that this kathā being greater than all other spiritual practices is sung more and more by devotees. Due to the fact that such kathā bestows the highest result, the devotees sing it always. This indicates the supreme pleasurable nature of this kathā. Uttama-śloka-guṇānuvādāt — “He who has the best (uttama) glories (śloka) is known as uttama-śloka. He is the Supreme Lord and has qualities (guṇa) such as eternality, transcendence, unparalleled magnanimity, affection, etc.” The constant repetition (anuvādāt) of such qualities is uttama-śloka-guṇānuvādāt. Who will stop listening to this kathā or become satiated by it? For pure devotees, the joy of such līlā-kathā constantly arises spontaneously within their hearts so they sing it naturally instead of meditating. On the contrary, such spontaneous energy does not arise in those who are aspiring for liberation or those who are aspiring for material enjoyment. For them, the terms bhavauṣadhāt and chrotra-mano ’bhirāmāt have been used. This means that for them such kathā enters like a medicine (bhavauṣadha) through the ears (śrotra) into the mind (manaḥ). For such people the importance of the ears is indicated. For jñānis, such kathā does not come out spontaneously through their mouths in the form of songs. For those who are aspiring for liberation, such kathā enters through the ears and causes delight to the mind but do not arise spontaneously in the heart. The materialists may also sing the Lord’s songs, but out of a spirit of material enjoyment. Still, because they sing such songs out of spontaneous materialism, they are better off than the jñānīs and those desirous of liberation, who does not sing such songs.

Second type are those who desire liberation – mumukṣu even for them this hari-kathā is the exclusive solution, bhavauṣadhāt it is the medicine which relieves all distresses.

And third type, are the materialists who desire sense gratification. For such people, too, this hari-kathā is an unprecedented source of sense gratification. Śrotra-mano ’bhirāmāt, it provides great delight (joy) to their ears (śrotra) and the mind (mano). By its sound it delights the ears, and by its meanings the mind is completely (abhi) delighted (rāmāt). Therefore those who desire material enjoyment, for them, too, it provides more joy-happiness.

None of the above three should have alaṁ buddhi, the thought that, “Now I have heard enough (alaṁ) hari-kathā. Let me stop now.” This is specified by the term bhavauṣadhāt, the medicine for curing the disease of material existence. Therefore they should not stop hearing.

Only two types of people give it up because they do not delight in such kathā. who else unless (Vinā) they are apaśughnāt means one who kills (ghna) the true self-interest of his pure soul (apa-śug) or paśughnāt, a butcher or hunter. Paśughnāt refers to a hunter. Due to his mind constantly disturbed by torture and violence caused to others, the hunter loses good intelligence to determine what is favorable for him in this world and the next, and thus even in this world his sense enjoyment is lost due to such a degraded intelligence. Therefore it is said:

rāja-putra ciraṁ jīva mā jīva ṛṣi-putraka

jīva vā mara vā sādho vyādha mā jīva mā mara

“O son of the king! May you live forever [because if you live you will enjoy here but if you die then you may be degraded]! O son of the sage! Do not live any longer [for you have no enjoyment in this world but enjoyment is waiting for you in the next]! O self-realized sādhu! You may live or die as per your wish. For you will be happy regardless of your situation! (O hunter! Neither live nor die for you will continue to suffer regardless of your situation!”)

Therefore one who ceases listening to such kathā will be unhappy in both worlds and will also undoubtedly cause pain to others just like a hunter. The intention of the verse is to verbally use abusive language (gāli-pradāna) for such people. Similarly Lord Vrsabha Deva used such a strong language while teaching bhāgavata-dharma – importance of human life to His sons. He said ‘nāyaṁ deho deha-bhājāṁ nṛloke kaṣṭān kāmān arhate viḍ-bhujāṁ ye. – Of all the living entities who have accepted material bodies in this world, one who has been awarded this human form should not work hard day and night simply for sense gratification, which is available even for dogs and hogs that eat stool. Sense gratifiers are no better than stool eating animals. After undergoing severe hardships all day, human beings are trying to enjoy themselves at night by eating, drinking, having sex and sleeping. For all this hardship, his only happiness is a little sex. Indeed, dogs and hogs do not have to work so hard for sex. Human life is meant for tapasyā, austerity and penance. Human beings should voluntarily accept suffering in the form of austerities and penances in order to attain the divine life.

In conclusion all are eligible for such kathā. In this way since hari-kathā is the means as well as the goal, it should be relished in a mood of service by one and all.

If the kathā of Lord Hari is so attractive, what to speak of the kathā of Lord Krishna and his beautiful form?

When we learn to love Krishna purely, the result is yayatma suprasidati: our heart and soul become content fully and forever.

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