A synopsis of the Fifteenth Chapter is as follows. The Lord took lessons in grammar from Gaṅgādāsa Paṇḍita and became very expert in commenting upon grammar. He forbade His mother to take grains on the Ekādaśī day. He narrated a story that Viśvarūpa, after accepting the sannyāsa order, invited Him in a dream to accept sannyāsa also, but the Lord refused and was therefore sent back home. When Jagannātha Miśra passed away, the Lord married the daughter of Vallabhācārya, whose name was Lakṣmī. All these events are summarized in this chapter.
Grains (CC and Other Books)
- 1 Sri Caitanya-caritamrta
- 2 Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
The Lord of Śvetadvīpa expands Himself as Śeṣa Nāga, who sustains all the planets upon His innumerable hoods. These huge global spheres are compared to grains of mustard resting on the spiritual hoods of Śeṣa Nāga.
There is a reference to Śeṣa Nāga in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (5.17.21), where it is said:
- yam āhur asya sthiti janma-saṁyamaṁ
- tribhir vihīnaṁ yam anantam ṟṣayaḥ
- na veda siddhārtham iva kvacit sthitaṁ
- bhū-maṇḍalaṁ mūrdha-sahasra-dhāmasu
"O my Lord, the hymns of the Vedas proclaim that You are the effective cause for the creation, maintenance and destruction. But in fact You are transcendental to all limitations and are therefore known as unlimited. On Your thousands of hoods rest the innumerable global spheres, like grains of mustard so insignificant that You have no perception of their weight." The Bhāgavatam further says (5.25.2):
yasyedaṁ kṣiti-maṇḍalaṁ bhagavato ’nanta-mūrteḥ sahasra-śirasa ekasminn eva śīrṣaṇi dhriyamāṇaṁ siddhārtha iva lakṣyate.
"Lord Anantadeva has thousands of hoods. Each sustains a global sphere that appears like a grain of mustard."
There are four orders of spiritual life, namely, brahmacarya, gṛhastha, vānaprastha and sannyāsa, and in each of these āśramas there are four divisions. The divisions of the brahmacarya-āśrama are sāvitrya, prājāpatya, brāhma and bṛhat, and the divisions of the gṛhasthāśrama are vārtā (professionals), sañcaya (accumulators), śālīna (those who do not ask anything from anyone) and śiloñchana (those who collect grains from the paddy fields). Similarly, the divisions of the vānaprastha-āśrama are vaikhānasa, vālakhilya, auḍumbara and pheṇapa, and the divisions of sannyāsa are kuṭīcaka, bahūdaka, haṁsa and niṣkriya.
God is unlimited, and His desires are also unlimited. This example of unlimited fruits is factually appropriate even within the material context, for with the good will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead there can be enough fruits, grain and other foodstuffs produced so that all the people in the world could not finish them, even if they ate ten times their capacity. In this material world there is actually no scarcity of anything but Kṛṣṇa consciousness. If people become Kṛṣṇa conscious, by the transcendental will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead there will be enough foodstuffs produced so that people will have no economic problems at all.
In performing welfare activities for human society, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu presents Himself as being not very rich, thus indicating that a man need not be rich or opulent to act for the welfare of humanity. Sometimes rich men are very proud that they can perform beneficial activities for human society whereas others cannot. A practical example is that when there is a scarcity of food in India on account of meager rainfall, some members of the richer class very proudly distribute foodstuffs, making huge arrangements with the help of the government, as if merely by such activities people will be benefited. Suppose there were no food grain. How would the rich men distribute food? Production of grain is completely in the hands of God. If there were no rain, there would be no grain, and these so-called rich men would be unable to distribute grain to the people.
“Advaita Ācārya, My spiritual master, should never accept charity from rich men or kings, because if a spiritual master accepts money or grains from such materialists his mind becomes polluted.
Jagannātha Miśra was a brāhmaṇa; therefore people would send him all bodily necessities—money, cloth, grain and so on. While Lord Caitanya was in the womb of Śacīmātā, Jagannātha Miśra received all these necessities of life without asking for them. Because of the presence of the Lord in his family, everyone offered him due respect as a brāhmaṇa. In other words, if a brāhmaṇa or Vaiṣṇava sticks to his position as an eternal servant of the Lord and executes the will of the Lord, there is no question of scarcity for his personal maintenance or the needs of his family.
In this way mother Śacīdevī and Jagannātha Miśra, having obtained a son who was the husband of the goddess of fortune, had all their desires fulfilled. Their house was always filled with riches and grains. As they saw the beloved body of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, day after day their pleasure increased.
In the philosophical discourse between the mother and the son, when the son said that everything is one, as impersonalists say, the mother replied, "If everything is one, why do people in general not eat dirt but eat the food grains produced from the dirt?"
Replying to the Māyāvāda idea of the child philosopher, mother Śacī said, “My dear boy, if we eat earth transformed into grain, our body is nourished, and it becomes strong. But if we eat dirt in its crude state, the body becomes diseased instead of nourished, and thus it is destroyed.
Generally it is the ambition of a young girl to have a very handsome husband who is learned, clever, young and rich. According to the Vedic culture, one is rich if he possesses a large stock of food grain and a very large number of animals. Dhānyena dhanavān gavayā dhanavān: one is rich if he possesses food grain, cows and bulls. A girl also desires to have many children, especially sons (putra) who are very intelligent and long-lived. Now because society has deteriorated there is propaganda to have one or two children and kill the rest by contraceptive methods. But the natural ambition of a girl is to possess not only more than one child but at least half a dozen.
In exchange for the paraphernalia of worship He usurped for Himself, Caitanya Mahāprabhu wanted to bless the girls to fulfill all their ambitions and desires. One can easily become happy and obtain the material benefits of a good husband, wealth, food grain and a number of nice children by worshiping Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Although Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu accepted sannyāsa at an early age, it is not necessary for His devotees to follow Him by also taking sannyāsa. One can stay a householder, but one must be a devotee of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Then one will be happy, with all the material opulences of a good home, good children, good mate, good wealth and everything he desires. Therefore the śāstras advise, yajñaiḥ saṅkīrtana-prāyair yajanti hi su-medhasaḥ (SB 11.5.32). Every householder, therefore, who is actually intelligent should introduce the saṅkīrtana movement home to home and live peacefully in this life and go back to Godhead in the next.
His mother replied, "My dear son, I will give You whatever You ask." Then the Lord said, "My dear mother, please do not eat grains on the Ekādaśī day."
From the very beginning of His childhood life Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu introduced the system of observing a fast on the Ekādaśī day. In the Bhakti-sandarbha, by Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī, there is a quotation from the Skanda Purāṇa admonishing that a person who eats grains on Ekādaśī becomes a murderer of his mother, father, brother and spiritual master, and even if he is elevated to a Vaikuṇṭha planet, he falls down. On Ekādaśī, everything is cooked for Viṣṇu, including regular grains and dhal, but it is enjoined that a Vaiṣṇava should not even take viṣṇu-prasādam on Ekādaśī. It is said that a Vaiṣṇava does not accept anything eatable that is not offered to Lord Viṣṇu, but on Ekādaśī a Vaiṣṇava should not touch even mahā-prasādam offered to Viṣṇu, although such prasādam may be kept for being eaten the next day. It is strictly forbidden for one to accept any kind of grain on Ekādaśī, even if it is offered to Lord Viṣṇu.
Mother Śacī said, "You have spoken very nicely. I shall not eat grains on Ekādaśī." From that day, she began to observe fasting on Ekādaśī.
It is a prejudice among smārta-brāhmaṇas that a widow must observe fasting on Ekādaśī but a woman who is sa-dhava—who has her husband—should not. It appears that before Lord Caitanya's request, Śacīmātā, being sa-dhava, was not observing Ekādaśī. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, however, introduced the system that a woman, even if not a widow, must observe the Ekādaśī day and must not touch any kind of grains, even those offered to the Deity of Viṣṇu.
Betel nuts are an intoxicant, and therefore the regulative principles prohibit eating them. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu's pastime of fainting after eating betel nuts is a solid instruction to all of us that one should not touch betel nuts, even those offered to Viṣṇu, just as one should not touch grains on the Ekādaśī day. Of course, Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu's fainting had a particular purpose. As the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He can do whatever He likes and eat whatever He wants, but we should not imitate His pastimes.
The Lord said, “You drink cows' milk; therefore the cow is your mother. And the bull produces grains for your maintenance; therefore he is your father.
Everyone can understand that we drink the milk of cows and take the help of bulls in producing agricultural products. Therefore, since our real father gives us food grains and our mother gives us milk with which to live, the cow and bull are considered our father and mother. According to Vedic civilization, there are seven mothers, of which the cow is one. Therefore Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu challenged the Muslim Kazi, "What kind of religious principle do you follow by killing your father and mother to eat them?" In any civilized human society, no one would dare kill his father and mother for the purpose of eating them.
The cooked rice was a stack of very fine grains nicely cooked, and in the middle was yellow clarified butter from the milk of cows. Surrounding the stack of rice were pots made of the skins of banana trees, and in these pots were varieties of vegetables and mung dhal.
Each day Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu personally went to a village and collected a great quantity of rice and other grains for the preparation of prasādam.
Ten brāhmaṇas cooked the food grains, and five brāhmaṇas cooked both dry and liquid vegetables.
Formerly, at the end of Dvāpara-yuga, all the cowherd men of Vṛndāvana had arranged to worship King Indra, but they gave this worship up, following the advice of Kṛṣṇa. Instead, they performed a ceremony whereby they worshiped the cows, brāhmaṇas and Govardhana Hill. At that time Kṛṣṇa expanded Himself and declared, "I am Govardhana Hill." In this way He accepted all the paraphernalia and food offered to Govardhana Hill. It is stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.24.26, 31–33):
- pacyantāṁ vividhāḥ pākāḥ sūpāntāḥ pāyasādayaḥ
- saṁyāvā-pūpa-śaṣkulyaḥ sarva-dohaś ca gṛhyatām
- kālātmanā bhagavatā śakra-darpaṁ jighāṁsatā
- proktaṁ niśamya nandādyāḥ sādhv agṛhṇanta tad-vacaḥ
- tathā ca vyadadhuḥ sarvaṁ yathāha madhusūdanaḥ
- vācayitvā svasty-ayanaṁ tad-dravyeṇa giri-dvijān
- upahṛtya balīn sarvān ādṛtā yavasaṁ gavām
- go-dhanāni puras-kṛtya giriṁ cakruḥ pradakṣiṇam
“"Prepare very nice foods of all descriptions from the grains and ghee collected for the yajña. Prepare rice, dhal, then halavah, pakorā, purī and all kinds of milk preparations like sweet rice, sweetballs, sandeśa, rasagullā and lāḍḍu."
The next morning, the rendering of service to the Deity began again, and people from one village arrived with all kinds of food grains.
The inhabitants of the village brought to the Deity of Gopāla as much food grains, ghee, yogurt and milk as they had in their village.
The perfection of human civilization depends on Kṛṣṇa consciousness, which recommends Deity worship. Preparations made from vegetables, grains, milk, ghee and yogurt are offered to the Deity and then distributed. Here we can see the difference between the East and the West. The people who came to see the Deity of Gopāla brought all kinds of food to offer the Deity. They brought all the food they had in stock, and they came before the Deity not only to accept prasādam for themselves but to distribute it to others.
I offer my respectful obeisances unto Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who is compared to a cloud that pours water on fields of grain, which are like devotees suffering due to a shortage of rain. Separation from Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is like a drought, but when the Lord returns, His presence is like a nectarean rain that falls on all the grains and saves them from perishing.
After Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu collected all the straw, dust and grains of sand in one place, He gathered it all in His cloth and threw it outside.
The Lord then ordered everyone to cleanse the inside of the temple very perfectly by taking finer dust, straws and grains of sand and throwing them outside.
The Lord then personally sat down in the middle and picked up all kinds of straw, grains of sand and dirty things.
While Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was picking up the straws and grains of sand, He said, “I shall gather everyone's collection, and I shall ask whoever has collected less than all the others to pay a fine of sweet cakes and sweet rice.”
If a devotee at all wants to cleanse his heart, he must chant and hear the glories of the Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇa (śṛṇvatāṁ sva-kathāḥ kṛṣṇaḥ (SB 1.2.17)). This is a simple process. Kṛṣṇa Himself will help cleanse the heart because He is already seated there. Kṛṣṇa wants to continue living within the heart, and the Lord wants to give directions, but one has to keep his heart as clean as Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu kept the Guṇḍicā temple. The devotee therefore has to cleanse his heart just as the Lord cleansed the Guṇḍicā temple. In this way one can be pacified and enriched in devotional service. If the heart is filled with straw, grains of sand, weeds or dust (in other words, anyābhilāṣa-pūrṇa), one cannot enthrone the Supreme Personality of Godhead there. The heart must be cleansed of all material motives brought about through fruitive work, speculative knowledge, the mystic yoga system and so many other forms of so-called meditation. The heart must be cleansed without ulterior motive.
A material desire is explained as a desire to enjoy the material world to its fullest extent. In modern language, this is called economic development. An inordinate desire for economic development is considered to be like straws and grains of sand within the heart. If one is overly engaged in material activity, the heart will always remain disturbed.
Impersonal speculation, monism (merging into the existence of the Supreme), speculative knowledge, mystic yoga and meditation are all compared to grains of sand. They simply cause irritation to the heart. No one can satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead by such activities, nor do we give the Lord a chance to sit in our hearts peacefully. Rather, the Lord is simply disturbed by them. Sometimes yogīs and jñānīs in the beginning take to the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra as a way to begin their various practices. But when they falsely think that they have attained release from the bondage of material existence, they give up chanting. They do not consider that the ultimate goal is the form of the Lord or the name of the Lord. Such unfortunate creatures are never favored by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for they do not know what devotional service is.
By His practical example, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has shown us that all the grains of sand must be picked up thoroughly and thrown outside. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu also cleansed the outside of the temple, fearing that the grains of sand would again come within. In this connection, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura explains that even though one may become free from the desire for fruitive activity, sometimes the subtle desire for fruitive activity again comes into being within the heart. One often thinks of conducting business to improve devotional activity. But the contamination is so strong that it may later develop into misunderstanding, described as kuṭi-nāṭi (faultfinding) and pratiṣṭhāśā (the desire for name and fame and for high position), jīva-hiṁsā (envy of other living entities), niṣiddhācāra (accepting things forbidden in the śāstra), kāma (desire for material gain) and pūjā (hankering for popularity). The word kuṭi-nāṭi means "duplicity."
A devotee should never make compromises with nondevotees. By acting as a professional guru, mystic yogī or miracle man, one may cheat and bluff the general public and gain fame as a wonderful mystic, but all this is considered to be dust, straw and grains of sand within the heart. In addition, one should follow the regulative principles and not desire illicit sex, gambling, intoxicants or meat.
This is a quotation from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.82.48). The gopīs were never interested in karma-yoga, jñāna-yoga or dhyāna-yoga. They were simply interested in bhakti-yoga. Unless they were forced, they never liked to meditate on the lotus feet of the Lord. Rather, they preferred to take the lotus feet of the Lord and place them on their breasts. Sometimes they regretted that their breasts were so hard, fearing that Kṛṣṇa might not be very pleased to keep His soft lotus feet there. When those lotus feet were pricked by the grains of sand in the Vṛndāvana pasturing ground, the gopīs were pained and began to cry. The gopīs wanted to keep Kṛṣṇa at home always, and in this way their minds were absorbed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Such pure Kṛṣṇa consciousness can arise only in Vṛndāvana. Thus Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu began to explain His own mind, which was saturated in the ecstasy of the gopīs.
In each and every village, in compliance with the King's order, government officers constructed new houses and filled each of them with stocks of grain. Thus they served the Lord.
Some people would bring grain and deliver it to Balabhadra Bhaṭṭācārya. Others would bring milk and yogurt, and still others would bring ghee and sugar.
Balabhadra Bhaṭṭācārya used to keep a stock of food grain that would last from two to four days. Where there were no people, he would cook the grain and prepare vegetables, spinach, roots and fruits collected from the forest.
Saying this, the landlord offered Sanātana grain to cook. Sanātana then went to the riverside and took his bath.
“Kṛṣṇa wears a pearl necklace that appears like a chain of white ducks around His neck. The peacock feather in His hair appears like a rainbow, and His yellow garments appear like lightning in the sky. Kṛṣṇa appears like a newly risen cloud, and the gopīs appear like newly grown grains in the field. Constant rains of nectarean pastimes fall upon these newly grown grains, and it seems that the gopīs are receiving beams of life from Kṛṣṇa, exactly as grains receive life from the rains.
“The former hunter said, "Please do not send so much grain. Only send what is sufficient for two people, no more."
The former hunter only wanted enough for two people to eat, no more. It is not necessary for a Vaiṣṇava to keep a stock of food for the next day. He should receive only sufficient grain to last one day. The next day, he must again depend on the Lord's mercy. This is the instruction of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. When His personal servant Govinda sometimes kept a stock of harītakī (myrobalan), Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu chastised him, saying, "Why did you keep a stock for the next day?" Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and others were begging daily from door to door for their sustenance, and they never attempted to stock their āśrama with food for the next day. We should not materially calculate, thinking, "It is better to stock food for a week. Why give the Lord trouble by having Him bring food daily?" One should be convinced that the Lord will provide daily. There is no need to stock food for the next day.
Men become strong and stout by eating sufficient grains, but the devotee who simply eats ordinary grains but does not taste the transcendental pastimes of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu and Kṛṣṇa gradually becomes weak and falls down from the transcendental position. However, if one drinks but a drop of the nectar of Kṛṣṇa's pastimes, his body and mind begin to bloom, and he begins to laugh, sing and dance.
In India śukla-cāula (white rice) is also called ātapa-cāula, or rice that has not been boiled before being husked. Another kind of rice, called siddha-cāula (brown rice), is boiled before being husked. Generally, first-class fine white rice is required for offerings to the Deity. Thus Bhagavān Ācārya asked Choṭa Haridāsa, or Junior Haridāsa, a singer in the assembly of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, to get some of this rice from the sister of Śikhi Māhiti. A māna is a standard of measurement in Orissa for rice and other food grains.
Sometimes he chewed fried grains, sometimes he cooked, and sometimes he drank milk. In this way he kept his life and soul together with whatever was available wherever he went.
"He eats if someone gives him something to eat. Sometimes he fasts, and sometimes he chews fried grains."
She powdered fried grains of fine rice, moistened the powder with ghee and cooked it in a solution of sugar. Then she added camphor, black pepper, cloves, cardamom and other spices and rolled the mixture into balls that were very palatable and aromatic.
From Bengal the devotees had brought varieties of Bengali food that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu liked. They also cooked various grains and vegetables in their homes and offered them to the Lord.
Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
Teachings of Lord Caitanya
The pearls of the necklace hanging on Kṛṣṇa's neck are as white as ducks, and the peacock feather decorating His head is colored like a rainbow. His yellow garment is like lightning in the sky, and Kṛṣṇa Himself is like a newly arrived cloud. The gopīs are like food grains in the field, and when the cloud pours rain on those grains, it appears that Kṛṣṇa is nourishing the hearts of the gopīs by calling down His pastime rain of mercy. Indeed, ducks fly in the sky during the rainy season, and rainbows can also be seen at that time. Kṛṣṇa freely moves among His friends as a cowherd boy in Vṛndāvana, and when He plays His flute, all living creatures, mobile and immobile, are overwhelmed with ecstasy. They quiver, and tears flow from their eyes.
"My dear Lord, devotional service unto You is the best path for self-realization. If someone gives up that path and engages in the cultivation of knowledge or in speculation, he will simply undergo a troublesome process and will not achieve his desired results. Just as a person who beats an empty husk of wheat cannot get grain, one who engages simply in speculative knowledge cannot achieve the desired result of self-realization. His only gain is trouble."
(9) observe fasting on Ekādaśī day (this occurs on the eleventh day after the full moon and the eleventh day after the new moon. On such days no grains, cereals or beans are eaten; simply vegetables and milk are moderately taken, and the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa and reading of scriptures are increased.), (10) show respect to devotees, cows and sacred trees like the banyan tree.
Nārada then told him to first break his bow; only then would Nārada disclose the path of liberation.
"You are asking me to break my bow," the hunter protested, "but if I break it, what will be the means of my livelihood?"
“Don’t worry about your livelihood,” Nārada said. "I shall send you sufficient grains so you can live."
The hunter then broke his bow and fell down at the feet of Nārada. Nārada got him to stand up, and he instructed him: "Just go to your home and distribute whatever money and valuables you have to the devotees and the brāhmaṇas. Then come out and follow me wearing only one cloth. Construct a small thatched house on the riverbank and sow a tulasī plant by that house. Just circumambulate the tulasī tree, and every day taste one fallen leaf. Above all, always chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. As far as your livelihood is concerned, I shall send you the grains you need, but you must accept only as much grain as you require for yourself and your wife."
Nārada returned to his place, and the hunter, after returning home, began to execute the instructions Nārada had given him. In the meantime, news spread among all the villages that the hunter had become a devotee. Consequently the residents of the villages came to see the new Vaiṣṇava. It is the Vedic custom to bring grains or fruits whenever one goes to see a saintly person, and since all the villagers saw that the hunter had turned into a great devotee, they brought eatables with them. Thus every day he was offered grains and fruit, so much so that no less than ten to twenty people could have eaten there. But following Nārada's instructions, he did not accept more than what he and his wife required to live on..
Sri Kṛṣṇa Caitanya's explanation of the verse beginning harer nāma harer nāma harer nāmaiva kevalam is pleasing to everyone, for it is a fact that there is no alternative to devotional service. Without devotional service no one can attain liberation from the material clutches. Especially in this age, one can achieve the highest liberation simply by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.14.4) it is stated that when a person abandons the path of devotional service and simply labors for knowledge, his only profit is the trouble he takes to understand the difference between matter and spirit. His efforts are like the useless labor one undergoes to try to get grains from empty husks. Similarly, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 10.2.32 states that a person who gives up the transcendental loving service of the Supreme Lord and superficially considers himself liberated never attains actual liberation. Although with great labor, austerity and penance he may be elevated to the liberated platform, for want of shelter at the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord he falls down again into material contamination.
Nectar of Devotion
(26) One should not fail to offer fresh fruit and grains to Kṛṣṇa, according to the season. (27) After food has been cooked, no one should be offered any foodstuff unless it is first offered to the Deity. (28) One should not sit with his back toward the Deity. (29) One should not offer obeisances silently to the spiritual master, or in other words, one should recite aloud the prayers to the spiritual master while offering obeisances. (30) One should not fail to offer some praise in the presence of the spiritual master. (31) One should not praise himself before the spiritual master. (32) One should not deride the demigods before the Deity.
Nectar of Instruction
Vegetables, grains, fruits, milk products and water are proper foods to offer to the Lord, as Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself prescribes. However, if one accepts prasāda only because of its palatable taste and thus eats too much, he also falls prey to trying to satisfy the demands of the tongue. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu taught us to avoid very palatable dishes even while eating prasāda. If we offer palatable dishes to the Deity with the intention of eating such nice food, we are involved in trying to satisfy the demands of the tongue. If we accept the invitation of a rich man with the idea of receiving palatable food, we are also trying to satisfy the demands of the tongue.
Everyone requires possessions such as food grains, clothing, money and other things necessary for the maintenance of the body, but one should not collect more than necessary for his actual basic needs. If this natural principle is followed, there will be no difficulty in maintaining the body.
According to nature's arrangement, living entities lower on the evolutionary scale do not eat or collect more than necessary. Consequently in the animal kingdom there is generally no economic problem or scarcity of necessities. If a bag of rice is placed in a public place, birds will come to eat a few grains and go away. A human being, however, will take away the whole bag. He will eat all his stomach can hold and then try to keep the rest in storage. According to scriptures, this collecting of more than necessary (atyāhāra) is prohibited. Now the entire world is suffering because of it.
Easy Journey to Other Planets
As far as the planetary system of the spiritual sky is concerned, there are unlimited Vaikuṇṭha planets in the para-vyoma. The Vaikuṇṭhas are spiritual planets which are manifestations of the internal potency of the Lord, and the ratio of these planets to the material planets (external energy) in the material sky is three to one. So the poor materialist is busy making political adjustments on a planet which is most insignificant in God's creation. To say nothing of this planet earth, the whole universe with innumerable planets throughout the galaxies is comparable to a grain of mustard seed in a bag full of mustard seeds. But the poor materialist makes plans to live comfortably here and thus wastes his valuable human energy in something which is doomed to frustration. Instead of wasting his time with business speculations, he might have sought the life of plain living and high spiritual thinking and thus saved himself from perpetual materialistic unrest.
Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead
According to Vedic custom, Nanda Mahārāja called for learned astrologers and brāhmaṇas to perform the birth ceremony. After the birth of a child, the astrologers calculate the moment of the birth and make a horoscope of the child's future life. Another ceremony takes place after the birth of the child: the family members take baths, cleanse themselves and decorate themselves with ornaments and nice garments; then they come before the child and the astrologer to hear of the future life of the child. Nanda Mahārāja and other members of the family dressed and sat down in front of the birthplace. All the brāhmaṇas who were assembled there on this occasion chanted auspicious mantras, according to the rituals, while the astrologers performed the birth ceremony. All the demigods are also worshiped on this occasion, as well as the forefathers of the family. Nanda Mahārāja distributed to the brāhmaṇas 200,000 cows, which were well decorated with cloth and ornaments. He gave the brāhmaṇas not only cows in charity but also hills of grain decorated with ornaments and golden-bordered cloth.
In the material world we possess riches and wealth in many ways, but sometimes not in very honest and pious ways, because that is the nature of accumulating wealth. According to Vedic injunction, therefore, one should purify such wealth by giving cows and gold in charity to the brāhmaṇas. A newborn child is also purified by gifts of grain in charity to the brāhmaṇas. In this material world it is to be understood that we are always living in a contaminated state. We therefore have to purify the duration of our lives, our possession of wealth and our self. We can purify our duration of life by taking daily bath and cleansing the body inside and outside and accepting the ten kinds of purificatory processes. By austerities, by worship of the Lord, and by distribution of charity we can purify the possession of wealth.
On this occasion, Mother Yaśodā arranged to distribute a large quantity of grain, and first-class cows decorated with golden ornaments were made ready to be given in charity to the learned, respectable brāhmaṇas. Yaśodā took her bath and dressed herself nicely, and taking child Kṛṣṇa, duly dressed and bathed, on her lap, she sat down to hear the Vedic hymns chanted by the brāhmaṇas. While mother Yaśodā was listening to the chanting of the Vedic hymns, the child appeared to be falling asleep, and therefore she very silently laid Him down on the bed. Being engaged in receiving all the friends, relatives and residents of Vṛndāvana on that holy occasion, she forgot to feed the child milk.
As the brāhmaṇas chanted the Vedic hymns and performed the ritualistic ceremonies for the second time, Nanda Mahārāja again gave them huge quantities of grain and many cows. All the cows which were given in charity were covered with nice gold-embroidered garments, and their horns were bedecked with golden rings; their hooves were covered with silver plate, and they wore garlands of flowers. He gave so many cows just for the welfare of his wonderful child, and the brāhmaṇas in return bestowed their heartfelt blessings. And the blessings offered by the able brāhmaṇas were never to be baffled.
One day, a fruit vendor came before the house of Nanda Mahārāja. Upon hearing the vendor call, "If anyone wants fruits, please come and take them from me!" child Kṛṣṇa immediately took some grains in His palms and went to get fruits in exchange. In those days exchange was by barter; therefore Kṛṣṇa might have seen His parents acquire fruits and other things by bartering grain, and so He imitated. But His palms were very small, and He was not very careful to hold the grains tight, so He was dropping them. The vendor who came to sell fruits saw this and was very much captivated by the beauty of the Lord, so she immediately accepted whatever few grains were left in His palms and filled His hands with fruits. In the meantime, the vendor saw that her whole basket of fruit had become filled with jewels. The Lord is the bestower of all benedictions. If someone gives something to the Lord, he is not the loser; he is the gainer by a million times.
The demon Aghāsura appeared before Kṛṣṇa and His friends. Aghāsura happened to be the younger brother of Pūtanā and Bakāsura, and he thought, "Kṛṣṇa has killed my brother and sister. Now I shall kill Him along with all His friends and calves." Aghāsura was instigated by Kaṁsa, so he had come with determination. Aghāsura also thought that when he would offer grains and water in memory of his brother and sister and kill Kṛṣṇa and all the cowherd boys, then automatically all the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana would die. Generally, for the householders, the children are the life and breath force. When all the children die, then naturally the parents also die on account of strong affection for them.
Devotional service is so important that even a little attempt can raise one to the highest perfectional platform. One should not, therefore, neglect this auspicious process of devotional service and take to the speculative method. By the speculative method one may gain partial knowledge of Your cosmic manifestation, but it is not possible to understand You, the origin of everything. The attempt of persons who are interested only in speculative knowledge is simply wasted labor, like the labor of a person who attempts to gain something by beating an empty husk of rice paddy. A little quantity of paddy can be husked by the grinding wheel, and one can gain some grains of rice, but if the skin of the paddy has already been beaten by the grinding wheel, there is no further gain in beating even a huge quantity of the husk. It is simply useless labor.
Due to rainfall, the grass, trees and other vegetation look very green. Sometimes the grass is covered by a certain kind of red insect, and when the green and red combine with the umbrellalike mushrooms, the entire scene changes, just like a person who has suddenly become rich. The farmer then becomes very happy to see his field full of grain, but the capitalists—who are always unaware of the activities of a supernatural power—become unhappy because they are afraid of a competitive price due to abundant production. In some places certain capitalists in government restrict the farmers' production of grain, not knowing the actual fact that all food grains are supplied by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. According to the Vedic injunction, eko bahūnāṁ yo vidadhāti kāmān: the Supreme Personality of Godhead maintains this creation; therefore, He arranges for a supply of whatever is required for all living entities. When there is a population increase, it is the business of the Supreme Lord to feed the people. But atheists or miscreants do not like abundant production of food grains, especially if their business might be hampered.
During the autumn, the lotus flowers in the lakes grow in large numbers because of the absence of lilies; both the lilies and the lotus flowers grow by sunshine, but during the autumn season the scorching sunshine helps only the lotus. This example is compared to a country where the king or the government is strong: the unwanted elements like thieves and robbers cannot prosper. When the citizens become confident that they will not be attacked by robbers, they develop with great satisfaction. A strong government is compared to the scorching sunshine in the autumn season, the lilies are compared to unwanted persons like robbers, and the lotus flowers are compared to the satisfied citizens. During autumn, the fields become filled with ripened grain. At that time, the people become happy over the harvest and observe various ceremonies, such as Navānna, the offering of new grain to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The new grain is first offered to the Deities in various temples, and all are invited to take sweet rice made with this new grain. There are other religious ceremonies and methods of worship, particularly in Bengal, where the greatest of all such ceremonies is held, called Durgā-pūjā.
The unmarried gopīs used to prepare the deity of Goddess Durgā and worship it with candana pulp, garlands, incense, lamps and all kinds of presentations—fruits, grain and twigs of plants. After worshiping, it is the custom to pray for some benediction. The unmarried girls used to pray with great devotion to Goddess Kātyāyanī, addressing her as follows: "O supreme external energy of the Personality of Godhead, O supreme mystic power, O supreme controller of this material world, O goddess, please be kind to us and arrange for our marriage with the son of Nanda Mahārāja, Kṛṣṇa." The Vaiṣṇavas generally do not worship any demigods.
Mahārāja Nanda finally relented. The cowherd men then inquired from Kṛṣṇa how He wanted the yajña performed, and Kṛṣṇa gave them the following directions. "Prepare very nice foods of all descriptions from the grain and ghee collected for the yajña. Prepare rice, dāl, then halavā, pakorā, purī and all kinds of milk preparations, such as sweet rice, rabrī, sweetballs, sandeśa, rasagullā and laḍḍu, and invite the learned brāhmaṇas who can chant the Vedic hymns and offer oblations to the fire. The brāhmaṇas should be given all kinds of grain in charity. Then decorate all the cows and feed them well. After performing this, give money in charity to the brāhmaṇas. As far as the lower animals are concerned, such as the dogs, and the lower grades of people, such as the caṇḍālas, or the fifth class of men, who are considered untouchable, they also may be given sumptuous prasādam. After nice grasses have been given to the cows, the sacrifice known as Govardhana-pūjā may immediately begin. This sacrifice will very much satisfy Me."
In this statement, Lord Kṛṣṇa practically described the whole economy of the vaiśya community. In all communities in human society—including the brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas, śūdras, caṇḍālas, etc.—and in the animal kingdom—including the cows, dogs, goats, etc.—everyone has his part to play. Each is to work in cooperation for the total benefit of all society, which includes not only animate objects but also inanimate objects like hills and land. The vaiśya community is specifically responsible for the economic improvement of the society by producing grain, by giving protection to the cows, by transporting food when needed, and by banking and finance.
After Akrūra's departure, Lord Kṛṣṇa, Balarāma and the cowherd boys entered Mathurā to see the city. They observed that the gate of Mathurā was made of first-class marble, very well constructed, and that the doors were made of pure gold. There were gorgeous orchards and gardens all around, and the whole city was encircled by canals so that no enemy could enter very easily. They saw that all the crossroads were decorated with gold and that there were copper and brass storehouses for stocking grain. And there were many rich men's houses, all appearing symmetrical, as if constructed by one engineer. The houses were decorated with costly jewels, and each and every house had nice compounds of trees bearing fruits and flowers. The corridors and verandas of the houses were decorated with silk cloth and embroidery work in jewels and pearls. In front of the balcony windows were pigeons and peacocks walking and cooing.
All the grain dealers' shops within the city were decorated with different kinds of flowers and garlands, newly grown grass and pleasing flowers like narcissus and roses. The entrance doors of the houses were decorated with waterpots filled with water. A mixture of water, yogurt, sandalwood pulp and flowers was sprinkled all around the doors, which were also decorated with burning lamps of different sizes. Over all the doors were decorations of fresh mango leaves and silk festoons.
Almost all the palaces were skyscrapers. In each and every house there were underground rooms containing big golden and silver pots for stocking grain. And there were many golden waterpots within the rooms. The bedrooms were all bedecked with jewels, and the floors were mosaic pavements of marakata jewels. The Viṣṇu Deity, worshiped by the descendants of Yadu, was installed in each house in the city. The residential quarters were so arranged that the different castes—brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras—had their respective quarters. It appears from this that the caste system mentioned in the Bhagavad-gītā existed even at that time. In the center of the city was a residence made specifically for King Ugrasena. This was the most dazzling of all the houses.
King Bhīṣmaka was experienced in dealing with brāhmaṇas and priests when such ceremonies were held. He specifically honored the brāhmaṇas by giving them large quantities of gold and silver, grain mixed with molasses, and cows decorated with cloth and ornaments. Damaghoṣa, Śiśupāla's father, executed all kinds of ritualistic performances to invoke good fortune for his son. Śiśupāla's father was known as Damaghoṣa due to his superior ability to cut down unregulated citizens. Dama means curbing down, and ghoṣa means famous; so he was famous for controlling the citizens.
When they came before Lord Kṛṣṇa, they began to shower Him with many kinds of weapons, like swords, clubs, lances, arrows and tridents. But they did not know that the strength of the Supreme Personality of Godhead is unlimited and invincible. Kṛṣṇa, with His arrows, cut all the weapons of the men of Bhaumāsura into pieces, like grains. Kṛṣṇa then threw His weapons, and Bhaumāsura's commander in chief, Pīṭha, along with his assistants, fell down, their military dress cut off and their heads, legs, arms and thighs severed. All of them were sent to the superintendent of death, Yamarāja.
To live in this way is the vow of a qualified brāhmaṇa, and all of these brāhmaṇas were well situated in that exalted vow. They were well learned in Vedic knowledge. They executed the required austerities and penances in their lives and were liberal, meeting the standard of qualified brāhmaṇas. They were equally friendly to everyone; above all, they were young and quite fit to act as qualified brāhmaṇas. Besides the cows, they were also given land, gold, houses, horses and elephants. Those who were not married were given wives, maidservants, grain, silver, utensils, garments, jewels, household furniture, chariots, etc. This charity was nicely performed as a sacrifice according to the Vedic rituals. The King also stated that not only had he bestowed gifts upon the brāhmaṇas, but he had performed other pious activities, such as digging wells, planting trees on the roadside and installing ponds along the highways.
Lecturing platforms could be found at each and every crossroads. There were buildings that housed the treasury, elephants, horses, chariots and grain, and places for distribution of food. The city of Vārāṇasī had been filled with all these material opulences for a very long time, but because the King of Kāśī and his son Sudakṣiṇa were against Lord Kṛṣṇa, the viṣṇu-cakra Sudarśana (the disc weapon of Lord Kṛṣṇa) devastated the whole city by burning all these important places. This excursion was more ravaging than modern bombing. The Sudarśana cakra, having thus finished his duty, came back to his Lord, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, at Dvārakā.
Your Majesty must have heard the glorious names of charitable personalities such as Hariścandra, Rantideva and Mudgala, who used to live only on grains picked up from the paddy field, and the great Mahārāja Śibi, who saved the life of a pigeon by supplying flesh from his own body. These great personalities have attained immortal fame simply by sacrificing the perishable body.” Lord Kṛṣṇa, in the garb of a brāhmaṇa, thus convinced Jarāsandha that fame is imperishable but the body is perishable. If one can attain imperishable name and fame by sacrificing his perishable body, he becomes a very respectable figure in the history of human civilization.
After this, Lord Kṛṣṇa addressed Jarāsandha as follows: "My dear King, please note that we are not actually brāhmaṇas, nor have we come to ask for food or grain. We are all kṣatriyas, and we have come to beg a duel with you. We hope that you will agree to this proposal. You may note that here is the second son of King Pāṇḍu, Bhīmasena, and the third son of Pāṇḍu, Arjuna. As for Myself, you may know that I am your old enemy Kṛṣṇa, the cousin of the Pāṇḍavas."
After the eclipse, all the members of the Yadu dynasty again took their baths in the lakes created by Lord Paraśurāma. Then they sumptuously fed the brāhmaṇas with first-class cooked food, all prepared in butter. According to the Vedic system, there are two classes of food. One is called raw food, and the other is called cooked food. "Raw food" does not indicate raw vegetables and raw grains but food boiled in water, whereas cooked food is made in ghee. Capātīs, dāl, rice and ordinary vegetables are called raw foods, as are fruits and salads. But purīs, kachoris, samosās, sweet balls and so on are called cooked foods. All the brāhmaṇas invited on that occasion by the members of the Yadu dynasty were fed sumptuously with cooked food.
Renunciation Through Wisdom
The followers of the varṇāśrama way of life, or sanātana-dharma, are now being called Hindus. Their forefathers, especially those who belonged to the upper castes—the brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, and vaiśyas—centered their lives on Lord Viṣṇu. In every stage of life, especially in the householder stage, people worshiped Lord Viṣṇu in their homes, performing devotional service for His satisfaction. A few very devoted souls continue to do so even today. They collect money only for the Lord's service. The money buys grains and vegetables, which they cook with devotion and then offer to Lord Viṣṇu. Later the devotees honor this prasādam, the Lord's mercy in the form of food, by eating it. In all these activities Lord Viṣṇu is the enjoyer, and one seeks to please Him. In the past, the times were conducive to such activities, and even now they are practiced in many places. Actually, such devotional service is applicable to everyone, to all places, and to all times.
We commit so many sins in business transactions, common human dealings, daily chores, and especially political and administrative activities. It is fine to vociferously support nonviolence, but in actual life one is compelled to commit acts of violence. One may succeed in avoiding many kinds of sin, but it is impossible to escape committing the five great sins called pañca-sūnā. While walking on the street we may crush many ants to death against our wishes. While cleaning house, we may squash many insects to death. While grinding food grains or lighting a fire, we destroy many tiny lives. In this way, while executing our ordinary, daily chores we are forced to commit violence and take many innocent lives. Willingly or unwillingly, we commit sins. Thus, when a religion fabricated by the human brain prompts one to embrace the path of nonviolence for its own sake, it inevitably gives advantage to one and difficulty to another.
Treating a patient to cure his disease is one thing, but ending the patient along with the disease is the work of an idiot. Thus we have this instruction from the great authority Brahmā in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.14.4):
- śreya-sṛtiṁ bhaktim udasya te vibho
- kliśyanti ye kevala-bodha-labdhaye
- teṣām asau kleśala eva śiṣyate
- nānyad yathā sthūla-tuṣāvaghātinām
My dear Lord, devotional service unto You is the best path for self-realization. If one gives up that path and engages in the cultivation of speculative knowledge, he will simply undergo a troublesome process and will not achieve his desired result. As a person who beats an empty husk of wheat cannot get grain, one who simply speculates cannot achieve self-realization. His only gain is trouble.
Thus in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.14.4) we find this statement by Lord Brahmā:
- śreyaḥ-sṛtiṁ bhaktim udasya te vibho
- kliśyanti ye kevala-bodha-labdhaye
- teṣām asau kleśala eva śiṣyate
- nānyad yathā sthūla-tuṣāvaghātinām
My dear Lord, devotional service unto You is the best path for self-realization. If someone gives up that path and engages in the cultivation of speculative knowledge, he will simply undergo a troublesome process and will not achieve his desired result. As a person who beats an empty husk of wheat cannot get grain, one who simply speculates cannot achieve self-realization. His only gain is trouble.
Without the mercy of the Supreme Lord, such esoteric subjects are incomprehensible, even if one spends many years researching them. Beyond the sensual realm lie indirect, subtle perceptions, which need to be properly understood. But they can be understood properly only if one sees their relationship to the inconceivable, transcendental Absolute Truth. Without seeing this connection, one will find all discussion of these subtle perceptions to be like beating the chaff for grain—a mere exercise in futility that brings only frustration and distress. Such empty sophistry may show off some mundane erudition, but it cannot help one make spiritual progress. In fact, these dry empirical debates often create big hurdles. So it is better to avoid them.
Light of the Bhagavata
Protection and grazing ground for the cows are among the essential needs for society and the welfare of people in general. The animal fat required for the human body can be well derived from cow's milk. Cow's milk is very important for human energy, and the economic development of society depends on sufficient food grains, sufficient milk, and sufficient transportation and distribution of these products. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, by His personal example, taught us the importance of cow protection, which is meant not only for the Indian climate but for all human beings all over the universe.
After the new grains were cut and brought home from the paddy fields, the people began to observe the navānna ceremony everywhere, in the presence of the Lord as Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Baladeva.
According to Vedic culture, learned men consider all natural products, such as food grains, fruits, flowers, and milk, to be God-sent. No one can manufacture these things in man-made factories, however scientifically advanced people may be. People can make preparations of such God-sent foodstuffs, but they cannot manufacture the natural ingredients. Spiritually cultured men, therefore, feel obliged to the Lord when they get sufficient natural foodstuffs by the grace of the Lord.
The navānna-prāśana ceremony is observed as a way of acknowledging the gifts of God. Newly collected grains would first be offered to the Lord by the villagers, either individually or collectively, and in either case all the members of the village would partake of the prasādam thus offered to the Lord. Such ceremonies make the people happy and prosperous.
When Lord Kṛṣṇa and Baladeva were present, the good men of Vṛndāvana realized that it was due to the presence of the Lord that their supply of food grains was sufficient. Some of the people of Vṛndāvana, including Lord Kṛṣṇa's father, Nanda Mahārāja, used to perform sacrifices to propitiate King Indra, the king of heaven, because he is the controller of rains. Without good rains, grains cannot be produced, and therefore the people would offer sacrifices to Indra. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, however, stopped this age-old ceremony and advised His father to offer the same sacrifice to the Supreme Lord. His purpose was to teach that we need not satisfy the various demigods in charge of the various departments of cosmic affairs; instead we must offer sacrifices to the Supreme Lord, for the Lord is the master and all others are His servants.
Narada-bhakti-sutra (sutras 1 to 8 only)
The first impediment is atyāhāra, overeating or accumulating more wealth than we need. When we give free rein to the senses in an effort to enjoy to the highest degree, we become degraded. A devotee should therefore eat only enough to maintain his body and soul together; he should not allow his tongue unrestricted license to eat anything and everything it likes. The Bhagavad-gītā and the great ācāryas, or spiritual masters, have prescribed certain foods for human beings, and one who eats these foods eats in the mode of goodness. These foods include grains, fruits, vegetables, milk products, and sugar—and nothing more. A devotee does not eat extravagantly; he simply eats what he offers to the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa. He is interested in kṛṣṇa-prasādam (food offered to the Lord) and not in satisfying his tongue. Therefore he does not desire anything extraordinary to eat.