Aug 092012

We have assembled on the auspicious occasion of Sri Krsna Janmastami, on the sacred soil of Sri Vrndavana-dhama, a land sanctified by the presence of the Lord in His Deity form, in discussion of Him from the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, in the chanting of His holy names, and in the utterly sincere efforts of His devotees to serve Him here.

We read from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Ten, Chapter Two: “Prayers by the Demigods to Lord Krsna within the Womb.”

tato jagan-mangalam acyutamsam
samahitam sura-sutena devi
dadhara sarvatmakam atma-bhutam
kastha yathananda-karam manastah

“Thereafter, accompanied by plenary expansions, the fully opulent Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is all-auspicious for the entire universe, was transferred from the mind of Vasudeva to the mind of Devaki. Devaki, having thus been initiated by Vasudeva, became beautiful by carrying Lord Krsna, the original consciousness for everyone, the cause of all causes, within the core of her heart, just as the east becomes beautiful by carrying the rising moon.” (SB 10.2.18)

In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna says, janma karma ca me divyam evam yo vetti tattvatah/ tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so ’rjuna—anyone who understands the transcendental mystery, or science, or nature, of Lord Krsna’s appearance and activities in this world is liberated: he or she never has to take birth again but goes back home, back to Krsna. Still, understanding Krsna’s birth and activities in truth (tattvatah) is not so easy. We must learn the science from the proper authorities, from the revealed scriptures and from the acaryas who explain them to us.

The history of Krsna’s appearance is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam. After Devaki and Vasudeva’s marriage, Devaki’s brother Kamsa, to please her, took the reins of the chariot to drive her and her husband to her new home. On the way, Kamsa heard an unembodied voice say, “You fool! The eighth child of the woman you are driving will kill you.” So Kamsa, cruel tyrant that he was, grabbed Devaki’s hair and drew his sword, ready to kill her, his own sister. But Vasudeva intervened, and with his great intelligence and diplomatic skill he persuaded Kamsa not to kill Devaki. He said, “You have nothing to fear from your sister. It is her sons that you have to fear. So let her live, and I will deliver all her sons unto you.”

Kamsa kept Vasudeva and Devaki under arrest in his capital, Mathura. One by one, Vasudeva brought Devaki’s sons to Kamsa, who mercilessly killed them. He was such a cruel tyrant. Then the seventh son was transferred, under Krsna’s direction, from the womb of Devaki to the womb of Rohini in Vrndavana. Rohini was also a wife of Vasudeva’s. In those days ksatriyas were allowed to marry more than one wife, but they were very responsible in maintaining their wives. Because of Kamsa’s atrocities, Vasudeva had arranged for Rohini to be sheltered by Nanda Maharaja, his relative, in Vrndavana. And then the eighth son was born—Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As described, Krsna appeared in the purified mind of Vasudeva, and Vasudeva transferred Krsna from his mind to Devaki’s mind. In other words, Krsna was not conceived in the usual, biological way; He appeared in the purified mind of Vasudeva.

This purified state is called suddha-sattva, “pure goodness.” There are three material qualities, or modes, of nature—tamo-guna, rajo-guna, and sattva-guna. In the material world these qualities are always mixed—there is always some influence of goodness, some influence of passion, and some influence of ignorance. And there is always competition as to which mode will gain predominance over a particular person at a particular time. But suddha-sattva is completely pure and free from any tinge of any of the material modes. In the development of devotional service, suddha-sattva comes at the stage of bhava-bhakti. In fact, Rupa Gosvami’s definition of bhava-bhakti begins, suddha-sattva-visesatma—in the stage of bhava-bhakti, the purified devotee is completely infused with suddha-sattva. Srila Prabhupada gave the example of an iron rod in fire. Gradually the rod becomes warmer and warmer, hotter and hotter, until finally it becomes red hot. At that stage, it no longer acts as iron, which by nature is cold and hard, but as fire, and if you touch it, it will burn. Similarly, when we associate with Krsna—by attentively chanting His holy name or otherwise placing ourselves in the fire of Krsna consciousness—we become pure, because Krsna is all-pure. By associating with Krsna, we eventually become completely purified—like Krsna. Although we always remain minute, we manifest the same qualities as Krsna—the same spiritual qualities, but in minute quantity.

The previous verse (10.2.17) states,

sa bibhrat paurusam dhama
bhrajamano yatha ravih
durasado ’tidurdharso
bhutanam sambabhuva ha

“While carrying the form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead within the core of his heart, Vasudeva bore the Lord’s transcendentally illuminating effulgence, and thus he became as bright as the sun.”

The combination of these two verses is very beautiful. They tell us that Vasudeva, carrying Lord Krsna within his heart, became as effulgent as the sun, that he transferred Krsna from within his heart to the core of Devaki’s heart, and that Krsna rose within her womb like the moon on the horizon. The sun’s rays are transferred to the moon; the moon reflects the light of the sun. Similarly, Krsna was transferred from the heart of Vasudeva to the heart of Devaki. And just as the sun is never born but appears at a certain time, Krsna also is not born. He always exists, but just as the sun comes into our vision at a certain time, which we call sunrise, Krsna comes into the vision of the world at a certain point, which we call Janmastami. But Krsna is always there, just like the sun is always there.

In his purport, Srila Prabhupada explains, “The word dhama is significant. Dhama refers to the place where the Supreme Personality of Godhead resides. In the beginning of Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.1.1) it is said, dhamna svena sada nirasta-kuhakam satyam param dhimahi. In the abode of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there is no influence of material energy (dhamna svena sada nirasta-kuhakam). Any place where the Supreme Personality of Godhead is present by His name, form, qualities, or paraphernalia immediately becomes a dhama. For example, we speak of Vrndavana-dhama, Dvaraka-dhama, and Mathura-dhama because in these places the name, fame, qualities, and paraphernalia of the Supreme Godhead are always present. Similarly, if one is empowered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead to do something, the core of his heart becomes a dhama, and thus he becomes so extraordinarily powerful that not only his enemies but also people in general are astonished to observe his activities. Because he is unapproachable, his enemies are simply struck with wonder, as explained here by the words durasado ’tidurdharsah.”

This place where we have assembled today is a dhama because in this place the Lord’s name, form, qualities, and pastimes are present through the activities of the devotees. It really is a dhama. But we also want our heart to be a dhama. We want to cleanse our heart by the process of chanting and hearing and serving pure devotees so that it becomes a fit place where the Lord can reside, where He can manifest His dhama, as He did in the heart of Vasudeva, and then Devaki. And that requires effort—effort and mercy. All the acaryas agree that suddha-sattva, the pure spiritual energy, descends only by the mercy of the Lord or His associates. So we must make our best effort, practicing bhakti-yoga and preaching Krsna’s glories, and seek the favor, and beg for the mercy, of Krsna and His associates. It is a gradual process—an ongoing process—to purify our hearts and give more and more pleasure to Krsna and His devotees. So we just keep going—and depend on their mercy.

—Giriraj Swami