During his recent visit to Abudhabi, HG Devakinandan Prabhuji, our beloved God brother from Singapore gave a lot of enlightening Srimad Bhagavatam classes. In one of the classes, Prabhuji emphasized that, “Bhagavatam equals to Behaviour”. I have just transcribed all the points prabhuji spoke on this topic in that particular class on 29 th April 2011 and I am offering the same for all our benefit.
1.There must be a change in our lives: Maharaj says that the whole of Srimad Bhagavatam is nothing but behavior. That is why Bhagavatam is B and Behaviour is B. If you have these two Bs, then you are peaceful. Where there is Bhagavatam, there must be a change in our lives. If there is Bhagavatam and there is no change in our lives, that means we are just reading Bhagavatam, but we are not accepting Bhagavatam. Whatever we were one year ago, we should not be one year later. Whatever anartha things which are not wanted, these things must be given up. Anartha just does not mean dirt. The dirt is there because the thing is unwanted. When you clear dirt, you clear it because it is unwanted. In the same way, we clear. Draw a list, Maharaj said. Identify the things that you want. Everything that you want and that has nothing to do with Krishna, you please mark them as anarthas, and you throw them away. You try, Maharaj said. This is Bhagavatam. Everything that drags you down, you have to renounce because renunciation is about going up and not going down.
The sadhus in Dwaraka are very very famous. They sit on the bank of Gomathi ganga river, they have matted locks, they wear saffron robes and they have very few possessions. When I first went to Dwaraka, I always used to meet them and some of them are coming all the way from South India and they will come and sit down and say I have left my wife, my house, my family everything because I want to be free. So what they do? Daily they will cook, sit down and meditate. Six months later I came back to the same sadhus and I heard as I was walking down the banks of Gomati Ganga, I swear I heard BBC. I really thought I heard BBC and this is not Bhagvad gita Bhagavatam and Chanting. This is actually BBC of the material world. So I went in and spoke to the same person I saw six months ago and he had Television, he had a transistor radio. He was listening to the BBC news and in the television there was somehow or the other satellite and as he sat down, he told me that he makes sure that he knows what is happening around the world. But he says, “I have left everything.” I went to Maharaj and explained all this to Maharaj and Maharaj laughed and said that this is the sadhu baba of this age. We claim that we want to leave everything but we do not put Bhagavatam into practice and because there is no Bhagavatam the renunciation is monkey renunciation. Maharaj said, “Man, he has left his wife and children, his Television and Transistor in South India or wherever he came from, and he comes all the way to Dwaraka to sit down and listen BBC and to watch Television. What is the value of his renunciation?”
When Maharaj came to Dwaraka, he sat under open sky. We said, “Maharaj let us a find a hotel where we can stay. Two star or three star hotel is okay.” Maharaj said there are so many stars in the sky, more than five stars. So this five star hotel is much better. I will just be very peaceful. So we made a small tent. Dina prabhu would cook in the open. Taral prabhu would get water from Kabir ashram which was nearby. Whenever we had to take a bath, we will go to the ashram, bathe and come back and Maharaj said, “the only shelter we have is not the roof but Bhagavatam. So sit down and chant Bhagavatam.” I told, “Maharaj, we thought, we came here to preach.” Maharaj said, “No. You came here to preach but preach to yourself first. You sit here and read Bhagavatam and everything will fall in place” and within two weeks of dedicated reading of Bhagavatam something happened. Maharaj was reading with dedication; we were very disturbed because we did not understand why we were doing this. We thought this is unnecessary austerity. But Maharaj said it is necessary to focus on Bhagavatam. And after two weeks this man comes. He is from Bharatiya Bhavan. He says, “You know, I heard there is a sadhu sitting here and that he is not doing anything except reading Bhagavatam. I have never heard of a sadhu like that. You come to my place. I have a trust and we have a nice guest house. 10-12 rooms are there and no one is managing it now and Maharaj if you want, you can turn it into a nice temple. You can manage.” Maharaj said what did we lack by sitting down to read Bhagavatam and what have we gained? We are not gaining the guest house for ourselves. We do not need a guest house. We had been sitting in the open land. When Krishna saw we did not need anything and Krishna saw we did not have anything to do with the material modes, Krishna gave us material energy to become His servant. So Mayadevi comes. She folds her hands before the devotee and invites him to use that which she has created, in the service of the Lord. So Maharaj said, Bhagavatam equals to behaviour. Then devotees become attracted.
2.Be Honest and Chaste To Krishna: If someone sitting on Vyaasaasana cannot put what we have spoken into practice, there is no potency to what he speaks. You will never be attracted to that personality. That is why speakers of Bhagavatam must make sure that they reflect it in their behaviour. Maharaj said that even if there is the slightest anger, lust or greed in our heart, we can never transmit this message, perfectly. It will be mixed with our lust, mixed with our anger, mixed with our greed and once it is mixed, then the neophyte devotee mixes material advancement with spiritual life and he does not realize that he has put one foot in a boat and another foot in another boat. The wind is going to blow. This boat will go there, that boat will go here and you will end up in water. Maharaj said if you want to become pucca materialist, become pucca materialist. Do not be a pretending devotee. If you want to be a devotee, stop trying to act like a materialist and be a devotee. There is no compromise. We should be very clear about this. Matter and spirit do not work together. Material advancement and spiritual advancement go ill together. We cannot say under the guise of “yukta vairaagyaa“, that we are using matter for spirit. No. the truth is we want matter for ourselves. It is a convenient argument that there is spirit in the background and it makes us look like advanced devotees. So this point we should be very clear.
The speaker must reflect behaviour. Maharaj said and Srila Prabhupada has said this in purports that if we really want to be real instruments of Krishna and touch other’s lives, we must make sure that our life has a certain standard. That is responsibility. That is accountability. When a mother wants to make sure that a child should become a good boy or a good girl, what she would do? We try to change ourselves so that we become good boys and good girls. That is very important. So in the same way, if a preacher just keeps thinking that today is my day to read Bhagavatam, I will prepare very nicely nice notes, I will use some flowery language, I will have some nice verses to throw in so I sound very scholarly, I will break it down so that I imitate some great personality and after all that the audience heart will be changed, then we are fooling ourselves because Bhagavatam is behaviour. If our behaviour does not change, then whatever we speak cannot touch the hearts of people. Your hairs stand on end when you see great personalities because whatever they speak is what they do. So Maharaj said, be honest and chaste to Krishna. If you speak something, you must live it and supposing if you say, “Maharaj I am not living it”, Maharaj’s answer was, “Start living it. Start now.” If you say, that you cannot then Maharaj said, “You have to start. This is all the more reason you must start and if you cannot, whatever you speak may have some impact but you are not doing justice. You can do better.” So this statement is not meant to tell the speaker that they must stop and you can only speak when you become pure. Those who are thinking as to when they will become pure, Maharaj said that they will never become pure. Because you are just trying to cultivate purity on material level. Purity means action. So do not think. The moment you think, it is material. Maharaj said, “When you are chanting, you should not think. You should just hear. The moment you think, you are not hearing.” So when we take Bhagavatam class, we should pray very hard to Krishna that this Bhagavatam preaching is not for anyone else. It is for us. We cannot fulfill half the things here. So Krishna is very kind. He is making us sit down and spend one week preparing in the hope it will change us; in the hope it will purify us. So speakers, if you really want to touch the heart of someone, then remember, Bhagavatam equals to behaviour. If behaviour is changed, then you are doing justice to others. Do not cheat the masses. Do not exploit them by posing as a great speaker. Then the behaviour has not changed. Maharaj said, “This is the height of chastity. We may not be pure, but we must try to change ourselves. The sincere attempt will attract Krishna.” One small Tulasi leaf made Krishna go all the way up in the pastime of Krishna being weighed by Queen Satyabhama. So why not one small attempt? Krishna will see and He will give you full paraphernalia. Endowment fund is there, insurance is there, causeless mercy is there, favors are all there. So everything is there. Why do we worry? He just wants to see some effort; some change. Otherwise, I always come to Abudhabi, speak very nicely, and go back and never change. What is the point? You will hear all this and go back and nothing will change. What is the point? Then this whole exercise will become one big ritual.
3. Contemplation leads to practice: The reason we are unable to put whatever we hear into practice is because we do not contemplate on what we hear. Maharaj said that we do not contemplate enough on what we have heard and what we have studied. HG Krpana vatsala prabhu was with Maharaj in one trip. Maharaj took one verse in the morning. They got into the plane and Maharaj looked at that verse. Then Maharaj looked and looked and looked, studied and studied, then sat down and thought and thought, then he wrote some points. Then he thought again. Then he became a little tired and went to sleep. So Krpana vatsala prabhu also went to sleep. When he woke up he saw that Maharaj was looking at the same verse and thinking and thinking and contemplating. So Krpana vatsala prabhu asked Maharaj why he was taking so long to look at the verse and Maharaj said, “I am trying to see how to apply this verse. I have not got the answer. I am praying to Krishna. The longer I spend time with the verse, Krishna will give the understanding by which I can put the verse into practice.” Then Krpana vatsala prabhu said that, then he understood that this is the way to study. This is the way how study becomes practice because Maharaj spent time with the verse. Maharaj said the longer you spend time with Bhagavatam, the more you are touched by Bhagavatam. “brahma sparshanam.” The more “brahma sparshanam” you get, the more you will come out of material attachment. The more you will practice what you are reading.
That is why Maharaj said that we do not have to be falsely humble. Humility is not shown, but it is practised. What a nice statement! Your devotional service will glide down when you are just proud of reading or studying, but not practising. Maharaj said at the end, we should not be attached to humility but humility must become attached to us. We do not run after the programs because of the fact that we look nice in the programs. We seriously run after the programs so that we take this back, contemplate, study, we meditate and then we act. Have you all seen how in your material lives, when an assignment is given to you, what do you do? You spend hours on it. You dissect it. You look at it from this corner, that corner and the longer you spend time on it, the more results you get. It is time. When a mother spends more time with the child, more time, more time… then the child becomes very good. Where there is less time spent, the child becomes bad. In the same way, the more time you spend with our spiritual father Bhagavatam, the more time you contemplate on how to put it into practice, Krishna will reveal it to you. On this point, there is an excellent verse, which once and for all, will put aside any doubts we have on how contemplation translates into practice. This is verse 3.10.6 from Srimad Bhagavatam.
tapasaa hy edhamaanena / vidyayaa caatma-samsthayaa
vivrddha-vijnaana-balo / nyapaad vaayuh sahaambhasaa
“Long penance and transcendental knowledge of self-realization had matured Brahma in practical knowledge, and thus he drank the wind completely, along with the water.”
In the third canto ninth chapter, Brahmaji prays the whole chapter. For what? For practical application on how to create the material world. Then all he does is he prays, prays and prays. Because he knows
teshaam satata-yuktaanaam / bhajataam priti-purvakam
dadaami buddhi-yogam tam / yena maam upayaanti te
“To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me.” ( BG 10.10)
That is the only way to put this into practice. It must come from Krishna. After praying the entire chapter, the SB verse 3.10.6 tells that long penance and transcendental knowledge in self realization had matured Brahma in practical knowledge. So what does Brahma do? He drinks the wind completely along with water. This part is very mesmerizing and bewildering for all of us. We think what is he doing? But Brahma could only start creation if he got rid of the winds. He did not know how to get rid of the wind. He did not know what to do? But because he was sitting down and remembering Krishna and chanting and glorifying Krishna, and that glorification of Krishna matured in Brahma and transformed into practical knowledge. So what did he do? He then drank the wind and the waters and he started creating.
So Maharaj told me supposing you are going to do a legal argument tomorrow in court, if you really contemplate on Krishna, prepare materially what you have to do. Brahma was equipped materially. He could drink wind and water. You and I cannot do that. We can drink water but not wind. Brahma was equipped materially. We are also equipped in all our fields. We know our fields. But how you make that field perfect? How you translate that into practical knowledge is through glorifying Krishna. So Maharaj always told me, “Before you have a case, you sit down like Brahma and you chant and glorify Krishna. Pray to Krishna that somehow or the other, I will have the practical knowledge to remember you even as I perform my service and that is what Brahmaji tried and prayed for and that is what he achieved.” So people may say that what is the point of being with Krishna as Krishna wants us to leave our job and everything. Krishna does not want you to leave your job. He wants you to mature in your practical realization while performing your duties and this is how contemplation leads to practical knowledge and it leads to change in behavior. That is the key.
Thank you very much,
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev,
Vaijayanti mala devi dasi,