From Back to Godhead
By Gauranga Dasa
We all worship someone all of us but the question is…
One of the principles of worship is at traction. When you are reverentially attracted to someone, you have the desire to establish a relationship with that person, and when the relationship is established then you want to perform some worship. Therefore the most important principle is attraction. So the question is what makes a person attractive?
In a spiritual discourse if we announce beforehand that there will be a lecture by Bill Gates on ten easy ways to make money, the turnout will be huge. Why? What is the difference between Bill Gates and a spiritual speaker? Both have two legs, two hands, and a body like all of us. The difference is that he has a certain energy that attracts us towards him, and what is that energy? Money the energy of wealth. That is why a magazine publisher will put his picture on the cover page and not pick any of us. That magazine will sell because Bill Gates’ energy of wealth makes him attractive.
We take people seriously and are willing to worship them for the wealth which they own and possess, but please note that wealth came into their lives at a certain point and that wealth will go away from them at a certain point. And they do not control all the wealth of the entire creation; they are controlling only one insignificant aspect it for a short period of time. Even for that they become worshipable.
Worshipping gods of this world
All of you have heard about Amitabh Bachchan. Have you heard about Lord Nityananda? Maybe not. I had never heard of Gaura-Nitai before coming to ISKCON. When Amitabh Bachchan’s movies would be released, people would go mad. Everyone would want to go and attend the first-day-first-show, and whole families would go and visit a cinema-theater like they visit a holy place. In South India the equivalent is Rajnikant. When he comes on screen, people break coconuts, take arati plates and even offer aratiin the cinema halls.
What makes these people attractive is that they are famous and beautiful, so they attract worship. In fact in Bengal there is a whole temple dedicated to Amitabh Bachchan, and he is an object of worship.
If a cricket star like Sachin Tendulkar walks into a temple, all eyes will be on him. You may be a devotee, you may be chanting Hare Krishna, but believe it or not, you won’t look at Deities as intently as you would look at him. That is the naked truth. Our hearts have been stolen away by the worshipable deities of this world made of flesh and bones.
Now what makes us attracted towards Sachin is our awareness of the game of cricket. If the audience were Americans, they may not even know that he is a champion. I don’t know anything about baseball so I don’t know who is the champion or the worshipable person in that game. Therefore what is important is knowledge. It is knowledge that makes us know who is who. If the whole audience is a bunch of cannibals and you keep the biggest sportstar and the biggest filmstar before them, it will not make any difference. All they might see is who is healthier and who will be tastier that will be their object of vision.
Therefore, what makes someone attractive is the energy he possesses. So here we have the Supreme Lord Krishna, and Krishna possesses unlimited energies, but we do not feel attracted towards Him because we are not aware of the energies which He possesses, and therefore we think He is just ordinary. For example, we may see someone sitting next to us and feel that he is an ordinary person unless someone introduces him to us.
A Supreme Lord who is bewilderingly simple
When you see Krishna you will see a bluish-colored boy carrying a flute. Brahmaji describes, “O my dear Lord when I saw You I got bewildered because I thought You were ordinary.” (Bhag. 10.14.1)
naumidya te ’bhra-vapuse tadid-ambaraya
laksma-sriye mrdu-pade pasupangajaya
“O Krishna! When someone looks at You they just see Your beautiful clothes.” Krishna wears a yellow-colored cloth just a simple dhoti. Anyone can wear a dhoti, so what is the big deal? Gunjavatamsa-paripiccha-lasan-mukhaya “and there is nice gunja-mala,” and paripiccha “and on top of Your head there is a peacock feather.” How much does a peacock feather cost? Even the peacock discards it, but Krishna puts it on His head. Vanya-sraje Krishna is wearing a garland of flowers. You will never see Krishna in Vrindavana wearing opulent golden jewellery. If you go to Tirupati Balaji the Janmastami dress costs eight crores. Everyday the crown of Balaji has diamonds which cost 1 crore so when you look at that you know He must be someone important, But if you look at Krishna in Vrindavana, He just appears so simple, just wearing a forest flower garland. kavala-vetra-visana-venu and what is He eating? If you want to understand who is who then you will also see what kind of a diet he has. If someone eats in a five star hotel everyday you understand that this person is not ordinary. But what is Krishna carrying in His hand? Kavala: curd rice. Even amongst prasada, curd rice is the simplest. Since Krishna is eating that someone may think He is just ordinary. Vetra-visana-venu: He is carrying a stick for taking care of His cows. He is carrying as musical instrument, flute a bamboo flute, not even a metal flute. A bamboo flute is so readily available; just take a piece of bamboo and make some holes. There are so many costly musical instruments like trumpets, keyboards, electric guitars, but a flute is so simple. Anyone can purchase one. So by seeing this, Brahmaji is saying “My dear Lord I got bewildered thinking that You are just an ordinary boy.”
So Krishna appears to be an ordinary person and we do not feel He is the Supreme worshipable Lord because we are not aware of His energies, whereas we are more attracted to powerful important attractive personalities in this world like rich, beautiful, famous men, and we feel that we should worship them. That is because of awareness and knowledge about them.
Yearn to learn about God
Just imagine a cricket match is taking place in some corner of the world and there is no TV, no radio, no newspaper, no coverage, no one would come to know about it. We have become attracted to the personalities of this world like cricket stars, sport stars, film stars, because their activities are broadcasted through the media. When we hear the knowledge about these personalities attraction gradually comes, and then that attraction leads to a desire to develop a relationship with them, then we follow a process to actually establish that relationship. It all begins by hearing. Therefore if I have to develop a relationship with Krishna, with God, then I must hear about Him. That is the power of sound. Sound carries potency and through sound we become attracted. If someone tells us how important the person sitting next to us is, our entire way of looking at him changes. So unless we are given a proper introduction to God, how will we understand? That we may not care for God is a different question, but the reason we don’t care is because we don’t know His energies and His power but we can know about His energies and power by hearing about Him.
I may think that I do not believe in God. I worship personalities whom I am attracted to, therefore, I worship sport stars, movie stars, political leaders, and so many other people. That feeling which originally in traditional Vedic culture we would have for God. But because of the influence and bombardment of the media we have been totally brainwashed and therefore we have sold our heart to powerful people in this world and we believe in worshipping them. So none of us can claim, “I don’t worship”. I do worship. But I worship depending on how I feel attracted to powerful personalities.
If tomorrow something happens and from a super-hit star someone becomes a super-flop do you still worship him? Are there eternal devotees of such people? If someone is very rich and suddenly overnight he becomes a pauper, will people still worship him? No. Fortunes fluctuate. The most beautiful people turn old and ugly. They die in their old age and no one even comes for their funeral. Rich people lose their wealth overnight and then who cares for them? Only when we come to know that someone is rich, powerful, beautiful, wealthy, we feel like worshiping him. And if we know that Krishna has all these six opulences: strength, fame, knowledge, wealth, beauty, renunciation, and then we feel like worshipping Krishna. When we get to know the glories of Krishna after hearing about them, then the desire to worship Krishna develops.
Traditionally in the Vedic culture the system was to come together and hear about God, Krishna, and then worship Him. Now in homes this culture of hearing from Gita andBhagavatam has been replaced, and the television now takes prominence in the home rather than the Deities. People are constantly seeing and hearing about mundane personalities on TV, so those personalities become worshipable deities, and God takes a back seat.
Why only Krishna?
Typically in Indian homes of Hindu families you see a whole bunch of gods on the altar. All are same, they say.
A small boy plays cricket in his gully, and Sachin Tendulkar also plays. Is there any difference between them or not? There is a big difference, but how will I know the difference? If I don’t know anything about cricket then everything appears the same. I don’t see any difference between Sachin and the boy who is playing on the street, both carry a bat. Therefore many times people say, “Why are you only worshipping Krishna? There are so many gods, so many demigods, they are all one. You should worship them all equally.” But it is not like that.
If you take group photo of Microsoft employees with Bill Gates and show it to a villager in India, and ask who is who, what will he say? “Everyone is the same, everyone is okay.” He cannot detect the difference, because he doesn’t have any information. Similarly if you take pictures of so many gods and put Krishna in the middle and say they are all same, is that correct? No, there is a difference. And who knows the difference? Only one who has some idea about that field. To get spiritual knowledge you have to get into this field, and take the time and effort to understand deeply. We cannot afford to have a layman’s attitude in spirituality and still hope to understand all the answers clearly.
So many times we say seeing is believing, but hearing is also believing, because based on what we hear we actually begin the process. Before you reach the destination you hear about it and then start. We have so many personalities but who is the most worshipable personality can only be understood if you come in contact with the Bhagavad-gita and then the difference is understood.
Four Ways to Perfection
We have discussed the basis of worshipping Krishna and now we will discuss the A-B-C-D principles to achieve progress in our devotion.
A for association: In the material world association is simply for the purpose of getting our own things done. Even if people come together in a partnership, there is a secret selfish personal agenda, which is not spoken about, but everyone knows about it.
But when you keep Krishna in the centre then there are no material motives and no one tries to cheat each other. We just try to help each other share and understand and realize God. Then that association is very powerful.
What is the chance that a worm can come in contact with Krishna? There is no chance. But if that worm takes shelter of a nice flower and then the gardener plucks the flower and the pujari makes the garland of those flowers and offers it to Lord Krishna then the worm, because of having taken shelter of that flower gets to be on the body of the Lord. Similarly we may be wormlike and insignificant and full of so many bad qualities, but if we take the right shelter of association of flower like devotees then we have a chance of a lifetime to come directly in touch with Krishna and serve Krishna.
B for books: You have found so many people worshipable in this world mainly by reading books and news articles about them. So if you read books about God you will certainly find Him worshipable. He is the original worshipable personality, but we don’t find Him attractive because we have not read about Him sufficiently. So read theBhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam and understand how Krishna is worshipable. Srila Prabhupada has given so many books which are simple to read and easy to understand and if you simply read these books you will change.
C is for chanting: Harinama, chanting the name of God, is the most effective process for self realization in this age of Kali. Lord Caitanya Himself came to distribute this freely, therefore, it is known as sankirtana-yajna. God is like a gold mine and chanting the holy name is like gold ornaments. Ornament is something you can use, so similarly God can enter your life in a very practical and user friendly way through His holy name. Chant Hare Krishna every day and see the difference. Take out some time and invest in chanting, and you will see how your heart transforms.
D for diet: You have to eat something, so whatever you eat you offer first to Krishna and then in return you have prasada. When you have prasada your whole consciousness transforms. You may have Deities or Their photos at home, so whatever is cooked at home you offer it to Them. Then you can have Krishna’s wonderful mercy. The proof of the pudding is in eating! Krishna-prasada has powerful transformational effects, and you will see a complete revolution in the consciousness of every member in your home simply within one month of starting this process. It’s a challenge! If it doesn’t work, stop it, but try it for one month and see.