The word hari has different meanings, of which two are foremost. Hari means that He takes away all inauspicious things from the devotee's life and that He attracts the mind of the devotee by awarding him transcendental love of Godhead. Kṛṣṇa is so attractive that anyone who can remember Him in some way or another becomes freed from the four kinds of material miseries. The Lord gives special attention to His devotee and banishes the devotee's various sinful activities, which are stumbling blocks for the advancement of devotional service. This is called routing the influence of ignorance. Simply by hearing about Him, one develops love for Him. That is the gift of the Lord. On one side He takes away inauspicious things, and on the other side He awards the most auspicious things. That is the meaning of hari.
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- 1 Bhagavad-gita As It Is
- 2 Srimad-Bhagavatam
- 3 Sri Caitanya-caritamrta
- 4 Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
- 5 Lectures
- 6 Conversations and Morning Walks
- 7 Correspondence
Bhagavad-gita As It Is
BG Chapters 1 - 6
Even though Dhṛṣṭadyumna was not a very important obstacle in the face of Droṇācārya's very great power in the military art, there were many others who were causes of fear. They are mentioned by Duryodhana as great stumbling blocks on the path of victory because each and every one of them was as formidable as Bhīma and Arjuna. He knew the strength of Bhīma and Arjuna, and thus he compared the others with them.
There are principles to regulate attachment and aversion pertaining to the senses and their objects. One should not come under the control of such attachment and aversion, because they are stumbling blocks on the path of self-realization.
For example, sex enjoyment is a necessity for the conditioned soul, and sex enjoyment is allowed under the license of marriage ties. According to scriptural injunctions, one is forbidden to engage in sex relationships with any women other than one's wife. All other women are to be considered as one's mother. But in spite of such injunctions, a man is still inclined to have sex relationships with other women. These propensities are to be curbed; otherwise they will be stumbling blocks on the path of self-realization. As long as the material body is there, the necessities of the material body are allowed, but under rules and regulations.
A person acting in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is naturally free from the bonds of karma. His activities are all performed for Kṛṣṇa; therefore he does not enjoy or suffer any of the effects of work. Consequently he is intelligent in human society, even though he is engaged in all sorts of activities for Kṛṣṇa. Akarma means without reaction to work. The impersonalist ceases fruitive activities out of fear, so that the resultant action may not be a stumbling block on the path of self-realization, but the personalist knows rightly his position as the eternal servitor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore he engages himself in the activities of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
BG Chapters 7 - 12
All the unauthorized interpretations of the Gītā by the class of māyayāpahṛta-jñānāḥ, outside the purview of the paramparā system, are so many stumbling blocks on the path of spiritual understanding. The deluded interpreters do not surrender unto the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, nor do they teach others to follow this principle.
SB Canto 1
Advancement of material vision or material civilization is a great stumbling block for spiritual advancement. Such material advancement entangles the living being in the bondage of a material body followed by all sorts of material miseries. Such material advancement is called anartha, or things not wanted. Actually this is so. In the present context of material advancement one uses lipstick at a cost of fifty cents, and there are so many unwanted things which are all products of the material conception of life. By diverting attention to so many unwanted things, human energy is spoiled without achievement of spiritual realization, the prime necessity of human life.
According to Śrī Viśvanātha Carkavartī Ṭhākura, there was a regular psychological reaction on the occasion. First of all, rising from their seats, although they wanted to see their husband, they were deterred because of feminine shyness. But due to strong ecstasy, they overcame that stage of weakness and became caught up with the idea of embracing the Lord, and this thought factually made them unconscious of their surrounding environment. This prime state of ecstasy annihilated all other formalities and social conventions, and thus they escaped all stumbling blocks on the path of meeting the Lord. And that is the perfect stage of meeting the Lord of the soul, Śrī Kṛṣṇa.
Seeing his constant rivalry with Arjuna, Duryodhana picked him up as his companion, and this gradually grew into greater intimacy. He was also present in the great assembly of Draupadī's svayaṁvara function, and when he attempted to exhibit his talent in that meeting, Draupadī's brother declared that Karṇa could not take part in the competition because of his being the son of a śūdra carpenter. Although he was refused in the competition, still when Arjuna was successful in piercing the fish target on the ceiling and Draupadī bestowed her garland upon Arjuna, Karṇa and the other disappointed princes offered an unusual stumbling block to Arjuna while he was leaving with Draupadī. Specifically, Karṇa fought with him very valiantly, but all of them were defeated by Arjuna. Duryodhana was very much pleased with Karṇa because of his constant rivalry with Arjuna, and when he was in power he enthroned Karṇa in the state of Aṅga.
SB Canto 2
Such pure devotees, being perfectly directed by the Supreme Lord, do not create any artificial perplexity in the matter of transcendental understanding by wasting time in discussing what is Brahman and what is non-Brahman, or māyā, nor do they falsely think of themselves as one with the Lord, or argue that there is no existence of the Lord separately, or that there is no God at all, or that living beings are themselves God, or that when God incarnates Himself He assumes a material body. Nor do they concern themselves with many obscure speculative theories, which are in actuality so many stumbling blocks on the path of transcendental understanding. Apart from the class of impersonalists or nondevotees, there are also classes who pose themselves as devotees of the Lord but at heart maintain the idea of salvation by becoming one with the impersonal Brahman.
Bhagavad-gītā, as it was understood by Arjuna, is also explained (Bg. 10.12-13), but there are many foolish men who do not follow in the footsteps of Arjuna in understanding the spirit of Bhagavad-gītā. They create instead their own interpretations, which are as foolish as they themselves, and thereby only help to put a stumbling block on the path of real understanding, misdirecting the innocent followers who are less intelligent, or the śūdras. It is said that one should become a brāhmaṇa before one can understand the Vedic statements, and this stricture is as important as the stricture that no one shall become a lawyer who has not qualified himself as a graduate.
The householder who associates with woman under scriptural restrictions, after a thorough training of brahmacarya, cannot be a householder like cats and dogs. Such a householder, after fifty years of age, would retire from the association of woman as a vānaprastha to be trained to live alone without the association of woman. When the practice is complete, the same retired householder becomes a sannyāsī, strictly separate from woman, even from his married wife. Studying the whole scheme of disassociation from women, it appears that a woman is a stumbling block for self-realization, and the Lord appeared as Nārāyaṇa to teach the principle of womanly disassociation with a vow in life.
SB Canto 3
One should, however, take serious note of this incident. The human being is a social animal, and his unrestricted mixing with the fair sex leads to downfall. Such social freedom of man and woman, especially among the younger section, is certainly a great stumbling block on the path of spiritual progress. Material bondage is due only to sexual bondage, and therefore unrestricted association of man and woman is surely a great impediment. Maitreya cited this example on the part of Brahmā just to bring to our notice this great danger.
SB Canto 4
"Attraction and repulsion for sense objects are felt by embodied beings, but one should not fall under the control of senses and sense objects because they are stumbling blocks on the path of self-realization." These representatives of attachment and envy are very much unfavorable for advancement in spiritual life. One should not be attracted by the breasts of young women. The great saint Śaṅkarācārya has described the breasts of women, especially young women, as nothing but a combination of muscles and blood, so one should not be attracted by the illusory energy of raised breasts with nipples. They are agents of māyā meant to victimize the opposite sex. Because the breasts are equally attractive, they are described as sama-vṛttau. The sex impulse remains in an old man's heart also, even up to the point of death.
SB Canto 5
Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: My dear King, in this way Bharata Mahārāja was overwhelmed by an uncontrollable desire which was manifest in the form of the deer. Due to the fruitive results of his past deeds, he fell down from mystic yoga, austerity and worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If it were not due to his past fruitive activity, how could he have been attracted to the deer after giving up the association of his own son and family, considering them stumbling blocks on the path of spiritual life? How could he show such uncontrollable affection for a deer? This was definitely due to his past karma. The King was so engrossed in petting and maintaining the deer that he fell down from his spiritual activities. In due course of time, insurmountable death, which is compared to a venomous snake that enters the hole created by a mouse, situated itself before him.
SB Cantos 10.14 to 12 (Translations Only)
"This man taking sannyāsa is going to surpass us and go back home, back to Godhead." Thus thinking, the demigods create stumbling blocks on the path of the sannyāsī by appearing before him in the shape of his former wife or other women and attractive objects. But the sannyāsī should pay the demigods and their manifestations no heed.
One should always remember that a person who is reluctant to accept a spiritual master and be initiated is sure to be baffled in his endeavor to go back to Godhead. One who is not properly initiated may present himself as a great devotee, but in fact he is sure to encounter many stumbling blocks on his path of progress toward spiritual realization, with the result that he must continue his term of material existence without relief. Such a helpless person is compared to a ship without a rudder, for such a ship can never reach its destination. It is imperative, therefore, that one accept a spiritual master if he at all desires to gain the favor of the Lord. The service of the spiritual master is essential. If there is no chance to serve the spiritual master directly, a devotee should serve him by remembering his instructions. There is no difference between the spiritual master's instructions and the spiritual master himself.
Pāṣaṇḍas, or atheists, cannot understand the pastimes of the Supreme Lord or transcendental loving service to the Lord. They think that devotional service is no better than ordinary fruitive activities (karma). As the Bhagavad-gītā (4.8) confirms, however, the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His devotees, saving the righteous and chastising the miscreants (paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām), always curb these nonsensical atheists. Miscreants always want to deny the Supreme Personality of Godhead and put stumbling blocks in the path of devotional service. The Lord sends His bona fide representatives and appears Himself to curb this nonsense.
When Śrī Viṣṇu Svāmī, one of the four ācāryas of the Vaiṣṇava cult, presented his thesis on the subject matter of śuddhādvaita-vāda, immediately the Māyāvādīs took advantage of this philosophy and tried to establish their advaita-vāda or kevalādvaita-vāda. To defeat this kevalādvaita-vāda, Śrī Rāmānujācārya presented his philosophy as viśiṣṭādvaita-vāda, and Śrī Madhvācārya presented his philosophy of tattva-vāda, both of which are stumbling blocks to the Māyāvādīs because they defeat their philosophy in scrupulous detail. Students of Vedic philosophy know very well how strongly Śrī Rāmānujācārya's viśiṣṭādvaita-vāda and Śrī Madhvācārya's tattva-vāda contest the impersonal Māyāvāda philosophy.
To give us practical instructions, Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu cleansed the temple twice. His second cleansing was more thorough. The idea was to throw away all the stumbling blocks on the path of devotional service. He cleansed the temple with firm conviction, as is evident from His using His own personal garments for cleaning. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu wanted to see personally that the temple was thoroughly cleansed to the standard of clean marble. Clean marble gives a cooling effect. Devotional service means attaining peace from all disturbances caused by material contamination. In other words, it is the process by which the mind is cooled. The mind can be peaceful and thoroughly cleansed when one no longer desires anything but devotional service.
The impersonal monist does not believe that God is the only object of worship and that the living entities are His eternal servants. According to the monists, God and the devotee may be separate in the material state, but when they are spiritually situated, there is no difference between them. This is called advaita-siddhānta, the conclusion of the monists. Monists consider devotional service of the Lord to be material activity; therefore they consider such devotional activities to be the same as karma, or fruitive activity. This monistic mistake is a great stumbling block on the road to devotional service.
Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, in commenting on this word, points out that monkeys make an external show of renunciation by not accepting clothing and by living naked in the forest. In this way they consider themselves renunciants, but actually they are very busy enjoying sense gratification with dozens of female monkeys. Such renunciation is called markaṭa-vairāgya—the renunciation of a monkey. One cannot be really renounced until one actually becomes disgusted with material activity and sees it as a stumbling block to spiritual advancement. Renunciation should not be phalgu, temporary, but should exist throughout one's life. Temporary renunciation, or monkey renunciation, is like the renunciation one feels at a cremation ground.
Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
Teachings of Lord Caitanya
Lord Caitanya then explained that the word projjhita means"desire for liberation." One great commentator explained that desire for liberation is the most obstructive stumbling block on the path of God realization. Somehow or other, if one comes to Kṛṣṇa and begins to hear about Him, Kṛṣṇa is so kind that He awards him His lotus feet as a center. Having such a focal point, a devotee or transcendentalist forgets everything and engages himself in the devotional service of the Lord. When one comes to the Lord in devotional service, or in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness, the reward is the Supreme Himself. Once engaged for the Supreme, one no longer asks for anything, as do the distressed man and he who desires material possessions.
Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead
"Dear Lord, husband of the goddess of fortune, devotees who are dovetailed in Your service do not fall down from their high position like the impersonalists. Being protected by You, the devotees are able to traverse over the heads of many of Māyā’s commanders in chief, who can always put stumbling blocks on the path of liberation. Dear Lord, You appear in Your eternal transcendental form for the benefit of the living entities so that they can see You face to face and offer their worshipful sacrifices by ritualistic performance of the Vedas, mystic meditation and devotional service as recommended in the scriptures. Dear Lord, if You did not appear in Your eternal transcendental form, full of bliss and knowledge—a form which can eradicate all kinds of speculative ignorance about Your position—then all people would simply speculate about You according to their respective modes of material nature."
"But King Jarāsandha is not an ordinary man. He has proved a stumbling block even to great warriors because his bodily strength is equal to the strength of ten thousand elephants. If there is anyone who can conquer this king, he is none other than Bhīmasena because he also possesses the strength of ten thousand elephants. The best thing would be for Bhīmasena to fight alone with him. Then there would be no unnecessary killing of many soldiers. In fact, Jarāsandha will be very difficult to conquer when he stands with his akṣauhiṇī divisions of soldiers. We may therefore adopt a policy more favorable to the situation. We know that King Jarāsandha is very much devoted to the brāhmaṇas and very charitably disposed toward them; he never refuses any request from a brāhmaṇa."
Mukunda-mala-stotra (mantras 1 to 6 only)
Sometimes, even at the risk of having to cross many stumbling blocks, a devotee relinquishes all family connections and homely comforts for the Lord's service. Can the Lord forget all these sacrifices of His bona fide devotee? No, not even for a moment, for the relationship between the Lord and His devotee is reciprocal, as He clearly says in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.29): "Whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend—is in Me—and I am also a friend to him."
So anartha-nivṛtti, that is required because we are surrounded by so many anarthas, unwanted things. They are all impediments, stumbling blocks on our progressive journey to Kṛṣṇa realization. Here it is said anartha-nivṛttiḥ syāt bhakti-yogam adhokṣaje lokasyājānataḥ. People do not know it. Therefore vidvān, Vedavyāsa, he has compiled this Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Sātvata-saṁhitā. It is Vedic version, and directly to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead and become free from all contamination of the material nature. Because we are now under the contamination of material nature.
Now, who is, who can understand Kṛṣṇa? There are so many impediments. One side, there is curtain of māyā; another side, everyone is a rascal and fool; and another side, Kṛṣṇa is beyond your sense perception. This is the position. How much one must be alert. Then one can understand. Just like the Gosvāmīs. Is Kṛṣṇa is so easy thing to be understood? But there is process. So if we do not adopt the process, then how we can understand Kṛṣṇa? These are the so many difficult things. One side, one thing is the māyā is checking. Māyā is trying to put stumbling block for your advancement of spiritual life. Māyā-javanikācchannam. And the other side, we are all fools and rascals. And the, again, Kṛṣṇa is adhokṣaja, beyond the range of sense perception. This is the position.
So Prahlāda Mahārāja says—we have already discussed about this—that it doesn't require any qualification. To pacify, to please, to satisfy the Lord, you don't require any pre-qualification: oh, you have to pass your examination in the university, or you have to become a rich man like Rockefeller or Ford, or you have to become this or that... No condition. Ahaituky apratihatā. If you want to love Kṛṣṇa, there is no check. There is no check. The road is open. Simply you have to become sincere. That's all. Then Kṛṣṇa will clear the way. And if there is no sincerity, then Kṛṣṇa's māyā is there. He'll always, she'll always put some stumbling block: "Not this, not this, not this." So Prahlāda Mahārāja decided that "Although I am a child, I have no education, I have no studies of the Vedas, and born of atheistic father, lowborn, so all bad qualification... So God is worshiped by intellectual persons, offering Vedic hymns, and brāhmaṇas, highly cultured. So I have no such qualification. But still, all these demigods who are so highly elevated in their position, they have requested me.
So we have to take the examples of great personalities, we have to study authorized books and Vedas, and we have to follow their example; then Kṛṣṇa consciousness or God realization or God consciousness is not difficult. It is very easy. There is no, I mean to say, any stumbling block on the path of your understanding what is God. Everything is there. The Bhagavad-gītā is there, the Śrīmad-Bhāgavata is there. Even you accept, your Bible is there, the Koran is there, everywhere. Without God, there cannot be any book or scripture. Nowadays, of course, they are manufacturing so many things. But in any human society the conception of God is there—according to time, according to the people, but the idea is there.
So actually, in this material existence we are forgetting our real constitutional position, that we are all eternal servant of the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa. Manaḥ-ṣaṣṭhānīndriyāṇi prakṛti-sthāni karṣati (BG 15.7). But some way or other, we have come to this material world for enjoying, for lord it over the material nature. And that is not possible. You cannot lord it over. The Lord is Kṛṣṇa, but we are trying to be lord. And the endeavor, the labor which we are giving incessantly, that we are thinking happiness. The nature, the material nature, is putting stumbling block every time. That, to overcome the impediments offered by the material nature and our trial for overcoming that stumbling block, that is our endeavor. And we are thinking this is happiness. Just like you are making one high road and there is, material nature is offering a big hill, a big mountain before you. Now you have to make tunnel. You have to call for dynamite and try to penetrate through the hill. That struggle is known as advancement of material condition.
So in the Western countries Ratha-yātrā is being introduced one after another, and Jagannātha Swami is attracting the attention of the Western people. (someone talking in background) What is that? So people will come in your Jagannātha Purī now from all parts of the world. That is beneficial from various point of view. From the point of tourist program, the government will benefit. And when they're attracted to see Jagannātha Purī, Jagannātha Swami... Unfortunately, you do not allow these foreigners to enter the temple. How it can be adjusted? This stumbling block should be dissolved. If you want Jagannātha Swami to pack up within your home, and you do not expand the mercy of Jagannātha... He is Jagannātha. He's not only this Purī-nātha, or Oriya-nātha; He's Jagannātha.
Hayagrīva: As far as seeming contradictions and seeming absurdities in scripture are concerned, Origen considered these as stumbling blocks allowed by God to exist in order for man to go beyond the literal meaning. He says, "In some cases no useful meaning attaches to the obvious interpretation, but everything in scripture has a spiritual meaning, but not all of it has a literal meaning."
Prabhupāda: Literal... Generally, every word in the scripture there is literal meaning, but one who cannot understand properly because one does not hear from the proper person, he makes some interpretation. But there is no need of interpretation in the words of God. It may be that the words of God sometimes cannot be understood by ordinary person; therefore he requires to understand through the via-media of transparent guru. Guru is fully cognizant of the words spoken by God. One has to accept, therefore, a guru to go through the scripture properly. Generally there is no ambiguity in the words of God, but due to our lack of perfect knowledge we sometimes cannot understand and try to interpret.
Conversations and Morning Walks
1972 Conversations and Morning Walks
Prabhupāda: Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura said, jaḍa-vidyā jato māyāra vaibhava tomāra bhajane bādhā, anitya soṁsāre moha janamiyā jībake karaye gādhā. Jaḍa-vidyā, this material advancement, jaḍa vidyā, they are simply stumbling blocks for advancing in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The more one is enamored by this so-called material advancement, the more he is disqualified to advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Because time we have got limited. If we waste our time for so-called material advantages, then we spoil our time. We cannot utilize the time for Kṛṣṇa consciousness, which is the necessity of human life. Therefore, in the history of India there is opulence, but that opulence is of different kind. By nature they used to enjoy life—enough jewels, enough gold, enough silk, enough food, enough metals. You see? By natural product. They could find where there is a big hill of gold only. These are there. And actually gold is found in some mine within the material arrangement. Why there should not be any hill of gold?
1973 Conversations and Morning Walks
Dr. Inger: The only religious books that have come out are those that have been translated. Old books like the second book to the East, for instance. Max Muller's books. And they have been reprinted. And occasionally a few translations have been done from Tulasidāsa or some other philosophers, rewritten, like Śaṅkara later on. But, but all of those have been done because somebody else has commissioned them. But otherwise, there isn't... Except they have had some meetings in various placed. But at none of these meetings do they really discuss the problem that of the, well occasional people, occasional philosophers, they never really discuss that. I think because the word, religion, I think probably is the stumbling block...
Prabhupāda: No, apart from religion. Religion may be sentiment or some emotion. That is another thing.
Dr. Inger: Yes.
Prabhupāda: But we can ask what is this cosmic manifestation, what is the purpose of this, who created, how it is created. Are they not scientific?
1976 Conversations and Morning Walks
Prabhupāda: So make a magazine to expose this. Idaṁ hi puṁsas tapasaḥ śrutasya vā sviṣṭasya sūktasya ca (SB 1.5.22), you, by your knowledge, you describe the glories of the Lord, then you are my guru. This is our... If they say "Why do you bother about God?" that is the business of human being. A human being, he is given the chance to understand God, and you people are stopping, putting stumbling block in his understanding of God. You're the greatest miscreant. I have got a chance to get one million dollars, and if you check it, I cannot get it, how much mischievous you are for me. Is it not? What do you think?
So I am trying to open a temple here because Srila Prabhupada wanted it. Kindly therefore help me in this direction as far as you can. I am thankful to you for taking so much trouble in taking the estimate of deities. But before having the Deities there is great stumbling block of Exchange difficulty. My money in India is ready but I must have the exchange, by special sanction of the Government of India. I was so hopeful to get it because Lal Bahadur Shastri was known to me and he was to visit America. I arranged an interview with him during his visit in America through the Embassy here but his sudden death has put me into great difficulty. As soon as the temple is started, I am sure to get help locally but to start the temple I must have Indian money first. I am therefore asking your cooperation and help in this connection.
You mentioned that your pathway has become filled with stumbling blocks, but there are no stumbling blocks, I can kick out all those stumbling blocks immediately, provided you accept my guidance. With one stroke of my kick I can kick out all stumbling blocks.
You are always welcome. All of your doubts will be cleared up either personally face-to-face or by correspondence with me. I am gong to Los Angeles, you can come to live with me and all your doubts will erased. In the beginning there were no doubts, but by bad association you have now got doubts.