Question: Some devotees say that we should focus mainly on hearing about Vraja-līlā, otherwise we may end up in Vaikuṇṭha/Dvārakā/Mathurā/Hastināpura instead of Vraja. This idea doesn’t sound correct to me, but I would like to hear your response to such an argument.
Answer: People say all sorts of things. So if the argument is that if one does not hear about Vraja, then one ends up in Vaikuṇṭha etc., then based on this logic most of humanity will end up in Vaikuṇṭha or elsewhere because most of them do not hear about Vraja. That is wonderful!! The Bhāgavatam describes Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes in Vaikuṇṭha/Dvārakā, etc., and by so does it mean that hearing about Kṛṣṇa-līlā in these places is a taboo for someone who wants to go to Vraja?
Question: In support of this argument, they often give śāstra pramaṇa. For example, King Bharata was thinking about a deer while leaving his body and he took birth as a deer.
yaṁyaṁvāpi smaran bhāvaṁtyajaty ante kalevaram
taṁtam evaiti kaunteya sadā tad-bhāva-bhāvitaḥ
“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kuntī, that state he will attain without fail.” (Gītā 8.6)
The argument, therefore, is that if you think about deer, you take birth as a deer. If you hear and think about Dvārakā pastimes, then you will take birth in Dvārakā. Similarly, if you think about thegopīs’ pastimes in Vraja, then you will take birth as a servant of a gopī (manjarī) etc. What are your thoughts on this, Bābājī?
Answer: The important thing is the state of your mind. Is it fixed on Kṛṣṇa or material pleasures? It cannot be both. If you are listening to Kṛṣṇa-kīrtan not about Vraja–līlā and you die, where will you go? Kṛṣṇa is in Dvārakā and Mathura as well as in Vraja. So your destination depends on your concept of Kṛṣṇa. If you understand that Kṛṣṇa’s manifestation in Vraja is supreme and your desire is to be there, and it is with that desire that you listen to kīrtan or lectures or do any other service, then if you think of Kṛṣṇa at the time of death or chant His name, you will go to Vraja, not to Dvārakā.
So there are two things, namely your understanding and your state of mind. It is not that only if you listen to Vraja-līlā, then you will go to Vraja. You can listen to Dvārakā-līlā but you understand that Vraja-līlā is superior. Therefore, if you die while hearing about Dvārakā-līlā, you will not go to Dvārakā but to Vraja. But if you only hear about Dvārakā–līlā and meditate on that and think of it as your goal, then you will go there.
The verse that you have quoted from the Gīta has as its last part sadā tad-bhāva-bhāvitaḥ, “always imbued by that mood.” This part is missing in your translation of the verse. So it is not just hearing but also having the mood, bhāva.
Sense enjoyment and suffering
Question: In one of your talks you quoted the below verse from BG 5.22:
ye hi saṁsparśa-jā bhogā duḥkha-yonaya eva te
ādy-antavantaḥ kaunteya na teṣu ramate budhaḥ
“The enjoyments arising from sense objects are causes of suffering, and have a beginning and end. An intelligent person does not enjoy them. An intelligent person (budhaḥ) does not attach himself to material pleasure.”
My question is, why does Kṛṣṇa say that sense enjoyment is the cause of suffering? For example, if I eat chocolate or ice-cream, I feel pleasure. How can we say that this pleasure is the source of suffering?
Answer: You suffer because you become conditioned by the pleasure. This conditioning is called suffering. Because you got pleasure from eating chocolate, this experience of pleasure will give you further desire to eat chocolate. However, chocolate is not freely available like air and sunlight. You have to pay for it, and for that, you need to work. This curtails your freedom, because you have to work for someone. So this is the first suffering. Once you get the money, you have to buy chocolate, so you have to spend time and money to buy it, and once you get it, you have to eat it. So if you overeat, which is possible because you like it, you suffer and if you do not get enough, because someone else ate it before you could eat it, then you will also suffer. And if you become addicted to it, which is also quite possible, then you will suffer even more. I remember that once I was visiting a family in America, and the wife was telling me how her husband was addicted to eating chocolate. She asked me for a solution. She told me that he is diabetic but cannot control his tongue, so she had to hide the chocolate, but the husband would search for it, find it and eat it. One day she threw the chocolate in the garbage and put cat-litter on top. The husband got the chocolate from the garbage and ate is nonetheless. He is a millionaire. This is what is called suffering.
Question: As far as not getting chocolate, there is no shortage of chocolate or ice-cream in this world. How can it ever be a source of suffering when there is no shortage of this sense object in this world?
Answer: If there is no shortage, then there is the problem described above, that people overeat because they have no sense-control. So rich people don’t suffer from starvation but because of overeating. This makes them sick, for which they have to take medicine, which has side effects. And the cycle continues.
Poor people suffer because they don’t get enough in spite of working hard. They may even commit a crime to get it, which will implicate them in karma and they may also be punished by the government.
Devotees are humble. They don’t boast about their caliber. Boasting is in the material world, where progress depends on how much you can boast and flaunt your ego. In the spiritual world, progress comes by humility.
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