A Lecture by Giriraj Swami Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.4.22
We read from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Four, Chapter Four: “Sati Quits Her Body.”
naitena dehena hare krtagaso
dehodbhavenalam alam kujanmana vrida mamabhut kujana-prasangatas taj janma dhig yo mahatam avadya-krt
na—not; etena—by this; dehena—by the body; hare—to Lord Siva; krta-agasah—having committed offenses; deha-udbhavena—produced from your body; alam alam—enough, enough; ku-janmana—with a contemptible birth; vrida—shame; mama—my; abhut—was; ku-jana-prasangatah—from a relationship with a bad person; tat janma—that birth; dhik—shameful; yah—who; mahatam—of the great personalities; avadya-krt—an offender.
You are an offender at the lotus feet of Lord Siva, and unfortunately I have a body produced from yours. I am very much ashamed of our bodily relationship, and I condemn myself because my body is contaminated by a relationship with a person who is an offender at the lotus feet of the greatest personality.
Spiritual life: why it requires a practice of repetition? Spiritual training involves scrubbing out deeply ingrained habits, which takes time and reiteration. It is like trying to flatten a scroll that has been coiled for thousands of years. One pass of our hands across the surface won’t do it. We have to press it out again and again.
Accomplishment in any discipline involves repetition. If we want to build muscles, we don’t lift ten thousand pounds at one time; we lift a few pounds thousands of times. Just as repetition is the source of necessary hardship for a piano student aspiring to be a concert pianist, it remains so for spiritual students aspiring to wake up. We hear the same teachings continuously, we practice the same mantras ceaselessly, incessantly. I have had selfish thoughts millions of times, bragged about myself, criticized others, gossiped, cheated, lied, and practiced self-centered actions millions upon millions of times. I have been mindless billions of time. I have forgotten the truth countless times. The numbers are astronomical, and so is the sphere of their influence.
Now when my teacher tells me I have to recite one million mantras that cultivate love, I know why. He is not torturing me, even though it sometimes feels that way. He is simply using the universal laws of reality, the same ones that I have unconsciously used to get me so stuck, to now consciously get me unstuck.
On the spiritual path we replace unconscious habits of confusion with conscious habits of wisdom. Instead of my unconscious practice of sloth, impatience, greed, anger, or any of the selfish habits that come so easily to me, I consciously practice discipline, patience, kindness, love, and many of the selfless habits that are still foreign to me. I am working to become familiar with good habits.
The spiritual path is hard because we are stopping old habits that come so easily and replacing them with difficult new ones. For example, mindlessness is natural to us. It is easy to space out and be distracted. Try to look at an object without wavering for a few seconds and you will see your talents for distraction. This is a bad habit, formulated over countless repetitions, and is a central unconscious practice on the worldly path. It is no longer even a practice, but a constant performance. We have accomplished mindlessness.
Science speaks about phase transformations, or punctuated equilibrium. A common example is a manner in which water comes to a boil. Put a pot of water on the stove, turn on the heat, and wait. Depending on the intensity of the heat and the temperature and volume of the water, it will boil slowly or quickly, but either way, there is a period when nothing seems to be happening. All the energy is going into the water with no obvious result. The phase transformation from water into steam takes time.
Srila Prabhupada: The first thing is that bhagavan uvaca. These things required for purification. Sattva-samsuddhih. The human life is meant for sattva. Sattva. Sattva means existence. We are existing. I am existing; you are existing. But we are sometimes appear to be not existing. That is called death. We, every living entity, we are eternal. That is stated in the Second Chapter, that ajo nityah sasvatah, na hanyate hanyamane sarire [Bg. 2.20]. These things required to understand, that “I am a living being, not only I am, everyone. We are eternal, nityah sasvatah.” There are so many universities all over the world and so-called scientists and philosophers, but they do not know that we are eternal. Just see their knowledge, advancement of knowledge. Eternal, aja. There is no birth. Na hanyate hanyamane sarire [Bg. 2.20]. After this destruction of this body, I am not finished. I still exist. What is the destruction of this body? Death means it is a machine. It is called machine. Yantrarudhani mayaya. It is a machine given to me.
Just like you take a car. That is a machine. Now some way or other, if the car stops, not working, does it mean that you are finished? No. I can take another car. This is knowledge. But this knowledge is lacking. People are being educated, but they are all rascals because they have not this simple knowledge that ajah sasvato ‘yam, “I am aja.” How it is aja proof? Yes, there is proof. “How I am eternal?” If somebody asks that “How I am…?” (Aside:) Don’t move that body, that. “How I am eternal?” There is proof. And who is giving the proof? Krsna, Bhagavan uvaca. The highest authority, not ordinary person or any living being, Krsna. Krsnas tu bhagavan svayam. Krsna means the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is saying. He is giving the proof. What is that proof?
dehino ‘smin yatha dehe kaumaram yauvanam jara tatha dehantara-praptir dhiras tatra na muhyati [Bg. 2.13]
Dehinah. I am dehi. Dehi. This body is deha, body, but I am not this body. You think over. If you take this finger, you study, am I this finger? No, the conclusion will come: “It is my finger, not I finger.” Simply little knowledge required. How? Now, Krsna gives this example, that dehinah, asmin dehe yatha dehinah kaumaram yauvanam jara. He has explained in different ways, but the beginning is this, that this body is changing. You had a small body, baby’s body. Where is that body? If I say, “Where is that body?” what you will answer? But you know that “I had a small body.” I know. Everyone will know. But where is that body? That body is not existing. I was also young man like you, but now I am an old man. Old man means my body is different, old body. Your body is different. So Krsna giving this very nice example. As the baby is changed into a boy, a boy is changed into a youth, a youth is changed into old man, so this changing is going on, but I or you, we know that “I had such body.”
I have several times spoken to you that in my, when I was about six months old, I remember, I remember I was lying down on my eldest sister’s lap, and she was knitting. I still remember it very vividly. And so many things I remember. But where is that body, lying down on the lap of mother or sister? You cannot say… Either you say it has grown, grown or not grown… According to medical science, it is not grown; it is changed. The body is changing. Just like in a film spool, you will find so many bodies. One hand is like this, one hand is like this, one hand is like this, and when they are taken together, it moves like this. This is the film. Film means there are different bodies in different position and when they are taken at once, it, likes that it moves. The picture is not moving. Similarly, we are changing of the different body, but it is taking place so quickly and so imperceptibly by Krsna’s energy. The machine is so nice that we are thinking that it is growing. It is not growing, all different bodies, all different. Every moment, every second. That is the scientific. The blood corpuscles are changing, and the body is different.