Srimad Bhagavatam 11.11.23-24 - Mixed Forms of Devotional Service (download mp3)
by Mukundamala Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty
sraddhalur mat-kathah srnvan
gayann anusmaran karma
janma cabhinayan muhuh
labhate niscalam bhaktim
mayy uddhava sanatane
My dear Uddhava, narrations of My pastimes and qualities are all-auspicious and purify the entire universe. A faithful person who constantly hears, glorifies and remembers such transcendental activities, who through dramatic performances relives My pastimes, beginning with My appearance, and who takes full shelter of Me, dedicating his religious, sensual and occupational activities for My satisfaction, certainly obtains unflinching devotional service to Me, the eternal Personality of Godhead.
Those who have faith only in the impersonal effulgent aspect of the Supreme Lord and those who have faith only in the localized Supersoul, the perfect object of mystic meditation located in the heart of every living entity, are considered to be limited and imperfect in their transcendental realization. The process of mystic meditation and impersonal philosophical speculation are both devoid of actual love of God and therefore cannot be considered to be the perfection of human life. Only one who places full faith in the Supreme Personality of Godhead becomes qualified to go back home, back to Godhead.
Lord Krsna’s pastimes of stealing butter from the elderly gopis, enjoying life with His cowherd boyfriends and the young gopis, playing His flute and engaging in the rasa dance, etc., are all-auspicious spiritual activities, and they are fully described in the Tenth Canto of this work. There are many authorized songs and prayers glorifying these pastimes of the Lord, and by constantly chanting them one will automatically be fixed in smaranam, or remembrance of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Lord exhibited His opulences upon His birth in Kamsa’s prison and at the birth ceremony subsequently performed by Nanda Maharaja in Gokula. The Lord further performed many adventurous activities, such as chastising the serpent Kaliya and killing many other demons. One should regularly take part in the ceremonies commemorating Krsna’s pastimes, such as the Janmastami celebration glorifying the Lord’s birth. On such days one should worship the Deity of Lord Krsna and the spiritual master and thus remember the Lord’s pastimes.
The word dharma in this verse indicates that one’s religious activities should always be in connection with Krsna. Therefore, one should give charity in the form of food grains, clothing, etc., to the Vaisnavas and brahmanas, and whenever possible one should arrange for the protection of cows, who are very dear to the Lord. The word kama indicates that one should satisfy one’s desires with the transcendental paraphernalia of the Lord. One should eat maha-prasadam, food offered to the Deity of Lord Krsna, and one should also decorate oneself with the Lord’s flower garlands and sandalwood pulp and should place the remnants of the Deity’s clothing on one’s body. One who lives in a luxurious mansion or apartment should convert his residence into a temple of Lord Krsna and invite others to come, chant before the Deity, hear Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam and taste the remnants of the Lord’s food, or one may live in a beautiful temple building in the community of Vaisnavas and engage in the same activities. The word artha in this verse indicates that one who is inclined toward business should accumulate money to promote the missionary work of the Lord’s devotees and not for one’s personal sense gratification. Thus one’s business activities are also considered to be devotional service to Lord Krsna. The word niscalam indicates that since Lord Krsna is eternally fixed in perfect knowledge and bliss, there is no possibility of disturbance for one who worships the Lord. If we worship anything except the Lord, our worship may be disturbed when our worshipable deity is placed in an awkward position. But because the Lord is supreme, our worship of Him is eternally free of disturbance.
One who engages in hearing, glorifying, remembering and dramatically recreating the pastimes of the Lord will soon be freed from all material desire. Srila Jiva Gosvami mentions in this connection that one who is advanced in Krsna consciousness may specifically be attracted to the pastimes of a devotee in the spiritual world who serves the Lord in a particular way. An advanced devotee in this world may desire to serve the Lord in the same way and thus may take pleasure in dramatically reliving the service of his worshipable devotee-master in the spiritual world. Also, one may take pleasure in spiritual festivals, performances of particular pastimes of Lord Krsna, or activities of other devotees of the Lord. In this way, one can continually increase one’s faith in the Personality of Godhead. Those who have no desire to hear, glorify or remember the transcendental activities of the Lord are certainly materially polluted and never achieve the highest perfection. Such persons spoil the opportunity of human life by devoting themselves to fleeting mundane topics that produce no eternal benefit. The real meaning of religion is to constantly serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose form is eternal, full of bliss and knowledge. One who has taken full shelter of the Lord is completely uninterested in impersonal speculations about the nature of God and uses his time to advance more and more in the unlimited bliss of pure devotional service.