The Game of Life - Bhog and Tyag

Srimad Bhagavatam 11.05.33 - The Game of Life-Bhog and Tyag (download mp3)
by Radhapati Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty

 SB 11.5.33
dhyeyam sada paribhava-ghnam abhista-doham
 tirthaspadam siva-viriñci-nutam saranyam
bhrtyarti-ham pranata-pala bhavabdhi-potam
 vande maha-purusa te caranaravindam

My dear Lord, You are the Maha-purusa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and I worship Your lotus feet, which are the only eternal object of meditation. Those feet destroy the embarrassing conditions of material life and freely award the greatest desire of the soul, the attainment of pure love of Godhead. My dear Lord, Your lotus feet are the shelter of all holy places and of all saintly authorities in the line of devotional service and are honored by powerful demigods like Lord Siva and Lord Brahma. My Lord, You are so kind that You willingly protect all those who simply bow down to You with respect, and thus You mercifully relieve all the distress of Your servants. In conclusion, my Lord, Your lotus feet are actually the suitable boat for crossing over the ocean of birth and death, and therefore even Lord Brahma and Lord Siva seek shelter at Your lotus feet.”

The incarnation of the Personality of Godhead in Kali-yuga is described and worshiped in this verse. The sage Karabhajana, after describing the incarnation of Godhead in each of the three previous yugas — Satya, Treta and Dvapara — presented suitable prayers which are utilized for glorifying the Lord in each particular age. After describing the Lord’s manifestation in Kali-yuga with the verse krsna-varnam tvisakrsnam, this and the next verse are now presented to glorify the Lord’s appearance in Kali-yuga as Caitanya Mahaprabhu, krsna-varnam. Caitanya Mahaprabhu appears in Kali-yuga and teaches everyone to chant the holy name of Krsna. The members of the ISKCON movement are so much absorbed in krsna-varnam, or chanting the holy names of Krsna, that sometimes ordinary persons refer to them as “the Krsnas.” Thus whoever comes into contact with Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s movement immediately begins to worship Krsna by chanting His holy name.

The words dhyeyam sada, or “always to be meditated upon,” indicate that there are no hard-and-fast rules in this age for chanting the holy names of Krsna. In Kali-yuga the authorized process of meditation is to chant the holy names of the Lord, especially the mantra Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This process is to be executed constantly and always (sada). Similarly, Caitanya Mahaprabhu stated, namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-saktis tatrarpita niyamitah smarane na kalah: in Kali-yuga, the Supreme Lord has kindly invested all of His potencies in His holy name, and there are no hard-and-fast rules for chanting such names. The mention of such rules refers to kala-desa-niyama, or regulations of time and place. Normally there are strict regulations governing the time, season, place, conditions, etc., under which one may execute a particular Vedic ceremony or chant a particular mantra. However, one should chant the holy name of Krsna everywhere and at all times, twenty-four hours a day. Thus there is no restriction in terms of time and place. This is the meaning of Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s statement.

The word paribhava-ghnam is significant in this verse. In Kali-yuga human society is infected with enviousness. There is great envy, even among members of the same family, who constantly quarrel in this age. Similarly, neighbors are envious of each other and of each other’s possessions and status. And entire nations, burning with envy, go to war unnecessarily at the risk of genocide caused by terrible modern weapons. But all of these harassments caused by family members, strangers, so-called friends who are unfaithful, opposing nations, financial competition, social disgrace, cancer, etc., can be relieved by taking shelter of the lotus feet of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. It is not possible to save the material body, but one who takes shelter of Caitanya Mahaprabhu loosens the hard knot of the heart that psychologically binds him to the hallucination of identifying with the external body or the subtle material mind. Once this false identification is broken, one can be blissful in any adverse material condition. Those who foolishly try to make the temporary body eternal are wasting their time and neglecting the actual process for making life permanent, which is to take shelter of the lotus feet of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is Krsna Himself.

In this verse the word tirthaspadam means that the lotus feet of Caitanya Mahaprabhu are the shelter of all holy places. As the Krsna consciousness movement spreads all over the world, we often find, especially in poor third-world countries, that it is very difficult for people to travel to India to visit the most exalted holy places such as Vrndavana and Mayapur. Especially in South America it is very difficult for a large number of devotees to visit such places in India and purify themselves. But Caitanya Mahaprabhu is so merciful that simply by worshiping Him, Vaisnavas throughout the world receive the benefit of having visited the supreme holy place, namely the lotus feet of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Thus there is no loss for the followers of the Krsna consciousness movement, despite their external situation.

In this regard, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura has stated, kalau dravya-desa-kriyadi-janitam durvaram apavitryam api nasankaniyam iti bhavah. In this age the world is so polluted by sinful life that it is very difficult to become free from all of the symptoms of Kali-yuga. Still, one who is faithfully serving in the missionary work of Caitanya Mahaprabhu need not fear occasional, unavoidable symptoms of Kali-yuga. The followers of Caitanya Mahaprabhu strictly follow the four regulative principles of no illicit sex, no intoxication, no meat-eating and no gambling. They try to always chant Hare Krsna and engage in the service of the Lord. However, it may happen that by accident an occasional symptom of Kali-yuga such as envy, anger, lust, greed, etc., may momentarily appear in the life of a devotee. But if such a devotee is actually surrendered at the lotus feet of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, by His mercy such an unwanted symptom, or anartha, will quickly disappear. Therefore, a sincere follower of the Lord should never be discouraged in the execution of his prescribed duty but should be confident that he will be protected by Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

It is also mentioned in this verse, siva-viriñci-nutam. Lord Siva and Lord Brahma are undoubtedly the two most powerful personalities within this universe. Still, they meticulously worship the lotus feet of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Why? Saranyam. Even Lord Siva and Lord Brahma are not safe without the shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord.

The words bhrtyarti-ham pranata-pala indicate that if one simply bows down without duplicity at the lotus feet of the Lord (pranata), then the Lord will give such a sincere candidate all protection. This verse does not mention that one need be an exalted devotee of the Lord. Rather, it is stated that if one simply bows down at the Lord’s lotus feet he will get all protection, and this also applies to anyone who is trying to serve the mission of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Even the neophyte will get all protection by the mercy of the Lord.

In regard to the words bhavabdhi-potam, or “a suitable boat for crossing the ocean of material existence,” there is the following statement by Lord Brahma and other demigods in the Srimad-Bhagavatam: tvat-pada-potena mahat-krtena kurvanti go-vatsa-padam bhavabdhim. “By accepting Your lotus feet as the boat by which to cross the ocean of nescience, one follows in the footsteps of the mahajanas and can cross that ocean as easily as one steps over the hoofprint of a calf.” According to Srila Rupa Gosvami, a follower of Caitanya Mahaprabhu is jivan-mukta, or a liberated soul. Thus the devotee is not worried about his future destination, for he is confident that the Lord will quickly take him across the ocean of material existence. Such confidence is referred to in the Upadesamrta by the word niscayat, meaning firm conviction about the potency of the process of devotional service. According to Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, the statement siva-viriñci-nutam is also understood to indicate that Caitanya Mahaprabhu is worshiped by Lord Siva’s incarnation Advaita Acarya and by Lord Brahma’s incarnation Haridasa Thakura.

Caitanya Mahaprabhu is addressed in this verse as maha-purusa, meaning purusottama, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Similarly, there is reference to mahaprabhu in the Svetasvatara Upanisad (3.12), mahan prabhur vai purusah sattvasyaisa pravartakah: “The supreme prabhu is the Personality of Godhead, who is the initiator of the entire cosmos.” Similarly, Lord Sri Gaurakrsna is addressed by the word maha-purusa in this verse, and the whole intention of this verse is to offer obeisances at His lotus feet. Such lotus feet are the actual eternal object of meditation because they cut off the bondage of material life and fulfill the desires of the devotees. Although the conditioned souls laboring arduously under illusion pursue many temporary goals in life, there is no possibility of their achieving actual bliss or knowledge. Such eternal bliss and knowledge is actually wealth. One should not neglect the lotus feet of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, taking Him to be an ordinary person, and instead accept the temporary, useless shelter offered by the illusory energy of the Lord.

Those yogis who falsely select some other object of meditation besides the lotus feet of the Lord are simply creating obstructions to their own eternal life. When the meditator, the meditation and the object of meditation are all on the eternal platform of the Lord, then actual shelter has been achieved. Generally the conditioned souls are engaged in bhoga-tyaga. Sometimes they run madly after material prestige and sense gratification, and sometimes they desperately try to renounce these things. However, beyond this vicious cycle of alternating sense gratification and renunciation are the lotus feet of the Lord, which constitute the ultimate abode of peace and happiness for the living entity.

The following are additional notes on this verse given by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.

dhyeyam — the object indicated by the word dhimahi in the Gayatri mantra.

tirthaspadam — the original shelter of holy places headed by Sri Gaudaksetra and Vraja-mandala; or the original shelter, namely the lotus feet of the Lord, of the great devotees of the Brahma sampradaya following in the succession of faithful hearing. The succession of faithful hearing begins with Srimad Anandatirtha (Madhvacarya) and is continued by the rupanuga maha-bhagavatas, the highly elevated followers of Rupa Gosvami and Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

siva-viriñci-nutam — He who is worshiped by the incarnation of Lord Siva, Srimad Advaitacarya Prabhu, and by the incarnation of Lord Viriñci, Sriman Acarya Haridasa Prabhu.

bhrtyarti-ham — He who destroyed by His causeless mercy the misery of His own servant, the brahmana Vasudeva, who was afflicted with leprosy in caitanya-lila.

bhavabdhi-potam — the means of crossing over the ocean of samsara; or the shelter of those who are freeing themselves from material existence, which afflicts the living entity in the form of hankering for liberation or material enjoyment. Such persons who took advantage of this transcendental boat of the Lord’s lotus feet are Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya, who was saved from mukti-kama, or desire for liberation, and Prataparudra Maharaja, who was saved from bhukti-kama, or the desire for material opulence.

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