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Religion means the characteristic. Characteristic... You cannot change your characteristic. In whatever circumstances you may be, the characteristic will continue. That is the meaning of religion

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"Religion means the characteristic. Characteristic... You cannot change your characteristic. In whatever circumstances you may be, the characteristic will continue. That is the meaning of religion"

Lectures

Srimad-Bhagavatam Lectures

Religion means the characteristic. Characteristic... You cannot change your characteristic. In whatever circumstances you may be, the characteristic will continue. That is the meaning of religion. Dharmān bhāgavatān. And bhāgavatān means pertaining to God. And what is that, that characteristic of relationship between God and myself? That is called religion.
Lecture on SB 7.6.1 -- Montreal, June 12, 1968:

Prahlāda Mahārāja said that "From the childhood, one should be taught the science of God." Dharmān bhāgavatān means the science of God. Just try to understand the word dharma. Dharma is generally translated into English as religion. But dharma does not mean a particular type of faith. That is not the Sanskrit import. Dharma means the natural quality. That is. Everything has some natural quality characteristic. Everything. So natural characteristic for every living entity is to serve. That is the natural characteristic. Every one of us who are sitting in this meeting, nobody can say that "I am not servant." Everyone of us is a servant. You go up to the highest man, your prime minister, or USA, the president, everyone is servant. Nobody can claim that "I am not servant." So therefore, either you are a Christian, or either you are a Hindu, either you are a Muhammadan, but you have to serve. It is not that because one is Christian or Hindu, he hasn't got to serve. Just like so many Indians, they have come here. What is the profession? They are serving. They are serving here some company or some institution or some university. So serving was there in India. Service is also here. So this is religion.

Religion means the characteristic. Characteristic... You cannot change your characteristic. In whatever circumstances you may be, the characteristic will continue. That is the meaning of religion. Dharmān bhāgavatān. And bhāgavatān means pertaining to God. And what is that, that characteristic of relationship between God and myself? That is called religion. Religion means that oh, characteristics of God, characteristics of the living entity, and to dovetail them. The characteristic of God is God is great. That is the characteristic. And we are small, little. This is our character. If we are not small, then why we are serving the great? Serving means there must be somebody greater than me. At least, the money is greater than me. If I don't serve the man, but the man, my master who supplies me the money, that is greater. So actually in this material world, there is no genuine service. Everyone is serving the intention of sense enjoyment. Just like from tomorrow there will be postal strike. What is that? They are not serving the government or the public. They are serving their salary. Is it not? As soon as there is some less salary, they strike. Therefore I have got my service spirit, and I have to serve somebody. That is my natural characteristic. You cannot deny it. Now you have to find out where your service should be engaged so that you may not be frustrated. That is required.

There is one verse in Bhāgavatam. One devotee, he has taken sannyāsa. Sannyāsa means the renounced order of life. Just like as you see me by my dress, this is called sannyāsa. Sannyāsa means... This is Sanskrit word, sat-nyāsa. This is sannyāsa. Sat means the Supreme, the Absolute Truth. And nyāsa means renounced. One who has renounced everything for the service of the Supreme, he is called a sannyāsa. Sannyāsa does not mean a particular type of dress or particular type of beard. Sannyāsa means you can become a sannyāsī even with your, this coat-pant. It doesn't matter, provided you have dedicated your life for the service of God. That is called sannyāsa. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is clearly said, anāśritaḥ karma-phalaṁ kāryaṁ karma karoti yaḥ, sa sannyāsī, sa sannyāsī sa yogi ca na cānya akriya (BG 6.1). The meaning of this verse is that anāśritaḥ karma-phalaṁ. Everyone is working in this material world for some salary or for some remuneration, but if one works not for salary or for remuneration but as a matter of duty... Anāśritaḥ karma-phalaṁ kāryam. Kāryam means "It must be done." Karma karoti yaḥ: "In such a way, if somebody acts, then sa sannyāsī, he is sannyāsī." Just try to understand. Anāśritaḥ karma-phalaṁ. You are doing some work. Why you are doing some work? Either for some salary or for some profit or for some gain. Otherwise nobody is working uselessly. He must have some gain. But one who does not utilize that gain for his sense gratification but works as a matter of duty, kāryaṁ karma karoti sa sannyāsī sa yogi ca. Such person is actually a sannyāsī and yogi.

You have heard the name of yogi. Yogi means that he has no other business. The sannyāsī and yogi is the same because yogi has no other business. He is simply trying to concentrate his mind on the Viṣṇu. Dhyānāvasthita-tad-gatena manasā paśyanti yaṁ yoginaḥ (SB 12.13.1). Yoginaḥ, not these black yogis. The real yogi. Real yogi means he is always in meditation, dhyānāvasthita. Dhyāna means meditation. Dhyānāvasthita manasā. Where meditation is performed? In the mind. That means concentrating the mind. Dhyānāvasthita manasā. Then what is that concentration? Dhyānāvasthita-tad-gatena manasā paśyanti yaṁ yoginaḥ (SB 12.13.1). Yam, whom. That means the Supreme Viṣṇu. One who sees the Supreme Viṣṇu always within his mind by concentration, he is called yogi. Yogi does not mean to show some magical or gymnastic feats. These are This practice of āsana or breathing exercise, that will help you for concentrating, pratyāhāra. There is a term, pratyāhāra. Pratyāhāra means you draw your engagement of the senses from matter, and you engage them in the Viṣṇu. That is yogi.

So bhakta-yogi, which we are teaching in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, they are the topmost yogis because they are being trained to draw the engagement of the senses from anything outside Kṛṣṇa consciousness. They are trying to draw the senses from everything and applying it in Kṛṣṇa. Just like we are trying to chant Hare Kṛṣṇa. When we chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, that means we withdraw our mind from all other engagement and try to engage my mind and ear on the sound vibration of Kṛṣṇa. This Kṛṣṇa, being Absolute Truth, there is no difference between the person Kṛṣṇa and the name Kṛṣṇa. In the absolute world there is no relativity. Therefore when you concentrate your mind on the sound vibration of Kṛṣṇa, that means you are concentrating on the Absolute Truth, and that is the process of yogi. Yogi, somebody may think, "Here there is no bodily exercise, no breathing exercise. How they become yogi?" Real yogi means to concentrate the mind in Viṣṇu. Dhyānāvasthita. So the original form of Viṣṇu is Kṛṣṇa, and therefore concentrating the mind on Kṛṣṇa, even by vibration, because there is no difference of identity between the vibration of the name of Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa, therefore this is the highest form of yoga practice. And life dedicated for Kṛṣṇa's service.