Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja: Madhuvrata Prabhu has a question. When the jīvas first come into this world from the glance of Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu, they receive either a human body or a nonhuman body. In the human species, the jīva performs materialistic activities (karma) and consequently suffers or enjoys the fruits of his work. Humans perform karmic (fruitive) activities, but other species do not. Other species only suffer the results of the karmic actions which they performed when they were previously humans.
Does this mean that all jīvas first come into this world from the taṭasthā region as human beings, and then, due to their karma, they enter into other species?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: No, this is not the process. The species in which the jīva takes birth depends on Kṛṣṇa. The jīva gets a body according to the degree of his desire to enjoy this world. If he has a strong desire to enjoy independently from Kṛṣṇa, he takes birth in the animal species. If his desire to be independent is moderate, he takes a human birth. So, the jīva’s appearance in different species depends on the will of Kṛṣṇa, and it also depends on the degree of his desire to enjoy separately from Kṛṣṇa.
Madhuvrata dāsa: The jīva has no karma when he first decides to come to this world.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: He has no karma at that time, but he has independence in the sense of free will. And it is not that all independence is the same; there is gradation. Some jīvas desire a little independence, or a small sense of autonomy, while others desire total independence.
Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa dāsa: In your class yesterday, you described how the living entities in the taṭasthā-śakti region fall to this material world. You gave the analogy of mustard seeds landing on the sharp blade of a knife and then falling on one side of the knife or the other. You said that, like those mustard seeds, the jīva can go either to the material world or the spiritual world. I am trying to understand if this happens because of our minute independence, or by chance, that we come here.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Independence was first, and chance was second. Without independence, how can the jīva look toward either Yogamāyā or Mahāmāyā?
Vṛndāvana dāsa: So it is a choice, Gurudeva? The jīva is responsible?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Yes; the jīva has independence, and Kṛṣṇa never interferes with that.
Here is an analogy to help explain this principle. In the government, there is a magistrate for each district. If a person does something for the benefit of the public he will be rewarded by that magistrate, and if he commits a crime he will be punished.
There are some people who know that if they commit a crime they will be punished or even put to death; yet they commit the crime. There are numerous culprits who go to jail, and when they are released they commit the crime again, because they like to be in jail. Some jīvas are like that; even though they suffer repeatedly in this material world, they are ignorantly attached to remaining here.

Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: My question is this: When we go walking, we see billions of blades of grass. How did those blades of grass come from a high position to that lowly position as grass?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: It is by their free will.
Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: What kind of karma makes one fall from the human form all the way down there?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: The analogy is given of a very small seed. If that seed is thrown on the edge of a sword’s blade, it will immediately fall on one side or the other. It will not remain on the blade’s edge.
Even without the fruit of karma it will go here or there. Similarly, even without being subjected to enjoying or suffering the fruit of one’s past activities, because the jīva’s nature is to be taṭasthā (marginal), he must always choose this or that. He must go from the taṭasthā realm.
Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja: But where is the free will? It seems like there is no free will. The jīvas are going either here or there.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Kṛṣṇa has given them independence, free will. That independence is always with them, whether they are in the realm of taṭasthā-śakti or when they become conditioned souls. That independence must always be with them. Even when they become liberated, that taṭasthā-bhāva (the mood of the marginal living being, with the free will to choose) will be present within them.
Śrīpāda Āśrama Mahārāja: But when he hits that demarcation, that sharp edge of the blade, going this way or that way…
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: In all situations the jīva has his natural, intrinsic marginal nature, and this is also true when he is in Goloka Vṛndāvana. However, there in Goloka Vṛndāvana, Yogamāyā always protects him, so he never falls to this world from there.
Kṛṣṇa never interferes with his freedom. Wherever he wants to go, he can go.
Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: The human form is the platform on which one performs karma. How does one fall from human life all the way down to being a blade of grass?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Freedom has so many possibilities. Someone may think, “I will be grass.” You cannot control his freedom. One may think, “I will be a mountain,” or “I will be river,” or “I will be human,” or “I will be a tiger.” There is no control over freedom.
Ramanātha dāsa: Gurudeva, when we are out distributing books or preaching, sometimes we meet people who say, “Yes, we know about reincarnation. I want to be a dog in my next life,” or “I want to be a cat,” or “I want to be a tiger.”
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: They want that? Well, what can we do?
Śrīpāda Śuddhādvaitī Mahārāja: Who would want to be a blade of grass?
Śrīpāda Mādhava Mahārāja and others: Uddhava.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Why would he not want to be a blade of grass? In that way Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs will walk by him, and thus he would be bathed by the dust of their lotus feet.
Devotee: One little question, Gurudeva. I heard that one can go to Vaikuṇṭha by chanting nāma-ābhāsa. Is this true?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: At first Ajāmila chanted nāma-ābhāsa, and by that chanting a platform was created to prepare him for going to Vaikuṇṭha. His gurus, the four Viṣṇudūtas, taught him about śuddha-nāma. Then, later on, by his chanting of śuddha-nāma, he actually went to Vaikuṇṭha.
Śrīpāda Śrautī Mahārāja: At the time of the jīva’s choosing which way to turn, he may look left and right. What does he see exactly?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: He sees in this world that all are enjoying sense gratification – as some of our brahmacārīs sometimes think, “Oh, sense gratification is very, very good. It is greater than Kṛṣṇa’s service.
There is nothing of value in Kṛṣṇa’s service.”
Śrīpāda Sajjana Mahārāja: Sometimes it is said that the jīva falls to this world by chance, and sometimes it is said that the jīvas’ fall is his own fault. Which is correct?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Try to understand that both are the same.
Madhusūdana dāsa: Gurudeva, does the jīva wear clothing?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Kṛṣṇa is ‘smaller than the smallest,’ but still He has form. In the same way, although by one’s transcendental nature one is infinitesimal [1/10,000 the tip of a hair particle], he has a very good form. He can be in the body of a mountain, he can be in the body of a blade of grass, or he can be in an entity that is smaller than an ant.
And certainly he wears clothing. Is Kṛṣṇa naked?
Madhusūdana dāsa: No.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Is Rādhā naked?
Madhusūdana dāsa: No.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: They wear clothing, certainly; and in the same way, the jīva wears clothing.

Mahābuddhi dāsa: Are the jīvas who manifest from Kāraṇodakaśāyī Viṣṇu significantly different from those who directly manifest from Mahā-Saṅkarṣaṇa (Lord Nārāyaṇa) in Vaikuṇṭha or Baladeva in Vraja?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Their qualities are the same, except that those who emanate from Baladeva and Mahā-Saṅkarṣaṇa in the spiritual world possess the eternal shelter of cit-śakti.
Devotee: Can you please say something about karma?
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Not all actions performed with your hands, feet, head, and eyes are karma. Some actions are karma (action for fruitive gain) some are bhakti-yoga, (action in devotion), and some are jñāna-yoga, (action performed to obtain impersonal, transcendental knowledge).
Here is an example: If you go to the market and purchase many tasteful fruits and sweets for your husband, sons, daughters, and yourself, this is karma. Karma includes all the activities performed for yourself and your family. On the other hand, if you go to the market and purchase the same very tasteful fruits and sweets for the purpose of offering them to the Lord, Allah, Khudā, and then you partake of the prasādam (remnants), this is not karma; it is bhaktiyoga. Whatever you bring and offer to Śrī Kṛṣṇa is bhakti-yoga. If you know that you are not the body, and you think, “The body is eating something; I am not eating; I am soul,” this is jñāna-yoga.
If you are engaged in karma, you will have to come again in this world, in the rotation of birth and death. However, if you offer everything to the Supreme Lord and partake of His remnants, you will not return here.

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: The philosophy of the Bhagavad-gītā first presents the teaching that we are not our bodies. The soul is different from the body.

vāsāṁsi jīrṇāni yathā vihāya
navāni gṛhṇāti naro ’parāṇi
tathā śarīrāṇi vihāya jīrṇāny
anyāni saṁyāti navāni dehī

(Bhagavad-gītā 2.22)

[Just as a person discards his old garments and acquires new ones, the soul similarly gives up old bodies and accepts new ones.]

We wear clothing – as Anaṅga-mohinī is wearing a sari – and when the clothing becomes old and torn, we change it for something new. Similarly, the soul is eternal, and the soul ‘wears’ this body upon himself. His fruitive activities, both good and bad, award him his body. When the fruits of one’s karma in relation to the body are finished, at that time the body is considered dead. This is the first principle.
Without karma, or activity, you cannot exist in this body for even a moment. Karma includes breathing, drinking water, and seeing an object with the eyes. All activities should first be offered to Kṛṣṇa, and if you do so, there is no fruitive reaction. On the other hand without dovetailing one’s activities in Kṛṣṇa’s service, one must suffer the fruits of his actions.

Here is an analogy: A grain that is planted in the soil will sprout and grow, but if it is roasted before planting it will neither sprout nor bear fruit. [The grain represents our karma, the sprouted grain represents the fruits of our karma, and the roasting of the grains represents our offering all our activities to Kṛṣṇa.] Therefore, we should offer everything to Kṛṣṇa.
One thing more: Are you the doer of actions, or karma?
Yaśodānanda dāsa dāsa: No, we are not the doer.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Who is?
Yaśodānanda dāsa: Kṛṣṇa.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Yes, Kṛṣṇa. But we think, “Oh, we are the doers.”
Yaśodānanda dāsa: Yes, sometimes we become illusioned.

Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: Therefore, better to offer yourself to the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, and then perform activities.
First surrender yourself to Kṛṣṇa. Then, whatever you do will automatically be for Kṛṣṇa. Your sleeping, eating – anything you do – all will automatically be offered to Kṛṣṇa. Take mahā-prasādam. Don’t take anything for your own sense gratification, otherwise you will be involved in fruitive karma. Offer everything first to Kṛṣṇa – wherever you are going, whatever you are going to eat – but not meat, eggs, and other prohibited things. Offer to Kṛṣṇa what is fit to be offered.
Even if you cannot offer your food to a Deity, you can offer it to Kṛṣṇa in your mind. You can utter, etat naivedyam, klīṁ gaurāya svāhā; śrīm klīṁ rādhā-kṛṣṇābhyām svāhā, and then take. When whatever you do is bhakti, you will not have to come back to this material world. By this you will be liberated from the material world, you will be able to go to Kṛṣṇa, and you will be happy forever.
Yaśodānanda dāsa: By your mercy, Gurudeva.
Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja: In the Bhagavad-gītā, Kṛṣṇa spoke of four kinds of knowledge: guhya (confidential), guhyatara (more confidential), guhyatama (still more confidential), and sarva-guhyatama (most confidential). The first is guhya, which is ātma-jñāna, or knowledge that we are not this body. Second is guhyatara, which is paramātmātattva-jñāna, or knowledge that Kṛṣṇa in His feature as Paramātmā resides everywhere. Third is guhyatam, which is bhagavān-jñāna, or knowledge of the Supreme Lord as the Supreme Controller. And fourth is sarva-guhyatam, the most confidential knowledge, which is that Vrajendra-nandana Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the cause of all causes and all that is.
Devotees offer everything to Kṛṣṇa:

man-manā bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru
mām evaiṣyasi satyaṁ te
pratijāne priyo ’si me

(Bhagavad-gītā 18.65)

[Offer your mind to Me, become My devotee by hearing, chanting, and so forth about My names, forms, qualities, and pastimes; worship Me, and offer obeisances to Me. In this way, you will certainly attain Me. I promise you this truthfully because you are most dear to Me.]

What is the meaning of man-manā bhava? Śrī Kṛṣṇa is saying, “Give your mind and heart to Me.” How? Here is an example. A newly married gopī girl came to reside in Nandagaon, where her new mother-in-law instructed her, “Be careful of the black serpent, Kṛṣṇa. He may bite you. If you see Him and behold His beauty, your heart will be attracted to Him forever. You will be forced to give Him your heart and your entire self. So, don’t go to see Him.”
One day, Kṛṣṇa was passing by with His cowherd boyfriends and millions of cows. That newly married girl heard Kṛṣṇa’s flute, and at once wanted to go to a window or door to see Him. Her mother-in-law told her, “Don’t go. That black serpent will bite you, and you will never be cured.”
The daughter-in-law replied, “Your daughter and all the other Vrajavāsīs are going to see Him. Why are you yourself going? Even if you expel me from your house, I must go to see Him.”
Thus she went to the door and saw Kṛṣṇa, who knew her heart. He at once held onto the tail of a calf, which then ran right to her door. He touched her with His flute, and she immediately became stunned.
Her mother-in-law then approached her and said, “What are you doing here? I warned you, but you didn’t listen to me.” Her mother-in-law then brought her inside and told her, “You should churn yogurt. Bring the pot of yogurt from inside, and start churning.” But that young gopī was so absorbed in Kṛṣṇa that instead of bringing the yogurt pot, she brought a pot of mustard seeds and began to churn them. Again her mother-in-law came and said, “What are you doing? You don’t follow my orders. You must follow.”
Trying to find a way to cure the girl’s problem, her mother-in-law considered that if she would tell her to bring water from a faraway well, this may take her mind off Kṛṣṇa. Thus, after ordering her to go, she gave her one pitcher, and then another. She also gave her a baby to carry, along with a rope and bucket.
The newly married gopī went to the well, but she kept the pitcher aside. Having no external awareness at all, instead of tying the rope around the pitcher, she tied it around the baby and began to lower the baby into the well. Some gopīs nearby saw her, and one of them exclaimed, “What has become of her? Has she become haunted by a ghost?” Another gopī replied, “She is not possessed by a ghost. It is the son of Nanda Mahārāja who has possessed her mind.” They saved the baby and she returned home, but she could not bring her heart home with her for it had gone with Kṛṣṇa. This is the meaning of man-manā bhava.
Give your heart and mind to Kṛṣṇa. If you cannot do that, then mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru – worship Him and offer Him obeisances. Kṛṣṇa told Arjuna to engage his mind in Him, to perform śravaṇa, kīrtana, and smaraṇa. Arjuna explained that he could not do that on the battlefield. So Kṛṣṇa told him that he could simply offer praṇāma to Him, and declared, “I will liberate you.” Hare Kṛṣṇa.
Kṛṣṇa has given us a chance; He has given us this human form of life. If you fail to perform bhakti in this life, you will lose hundreds of thousands of lifetimes. Kṛṣṇa is very merciful. He cannot tolerate the suffering of the living entities, so He has given His holy name. He has invested all of His power, mercy, and qualities in His name. The holy name is non-different from Him. It is not a worldly thing that will give only gold or other such things. It can bestow something millions of times more than money can give; but we have no taste for it. Our version of ‘bhajana’ is not sufficient.
You will have to give your whole energy. If you are not giving your whole energy, then give part of your energy; but if you only give part, it may take a long time to advance. If you give your energy fully, you will very soon enjoy success.
Yaśodānanda is giving partly. How is he giving? He is helping so much with my Navadvīpa project.
(To Sundara-gopāla dāsa) You are also helping me, in legal matters and in book publishing. In this way we should gradually develop.
I told him, “Don’t go into married life,” but he could not follow my instruction. He saw her, and at once māyā attracted him.

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