Always Remember Krishna, Never Forget Krishna
As we continue studying the Eighth Chapter of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is Krishna continues advising His friend Arjuna on the practical methods of remembering Him so that one can perfect his life by remembering Krishna at the time of death. In the ninth verse in the eighth chapter Krishna is giving practical instructions on how one can meditate on Him:
One should meditate upon the Supreme Person as the one who knows everything, as He who is the oldest, who is the controller, who is smaller than the smallest, who is the maintainer of everything, who is beyond all material conception, who is inconceivable, and who is always a person. He is luminous like the sun and, being transcendental, is beyond this material nature. (Bhagavad-gita 8.9)
The process of thinking of the Supreme is mentioned in this verse. The foremost point is that He is not impersonal or void. One cannot meditate on something impersonal or void. That is very difficult. The process of thinking of Krishna, however, is very easy and is factually stated herein.
First of all Krishna is spiritual and He knows past, present and future and therefore He knows everything. He is the oldest personality because He is the origin of everything; everything is born out of Him. He is also the supreme controller of the universe, maintainer and instructor of humanity.
Krishna is smaller than the smallest. The living entity is one 10,000th part of the tip of a hair, but the Lord is so inconceivably small that He enters into the heart of this particle. Therefore He is called smaller than the smallest. As the Supreme, He can enter into the atom and into the heart of the smallest and control him as the Supersoul.
Although so small, He is still all-pervading and is maintaining everything. By Him all these planetary systems are sustained. We often wonder how these big planets are floating in the air. It is stated here that the Supreme Lord, by His inconceivable energy, is sustaining all these big planets and systems of galaxies.
Krishna’s energy is beyond our conception, beyond our thinking jurisdiction, and is therefore called inconceivable. Who can argue this point? He pervades this material world and yet is beyond it. We cannot even comprehend this material world, which is insignificant compared to the spiritual world—so how can we comprehend what is beyond? Therefore intelligent persons, avoiding useless argument and speculation, should accept what is stated in scriptures like the Vedas, Gita, and Srimad-Bhagavatam and follow the principles they set down. This will lead one to understanding.
One who, at the time of death, fixes his life air between the eyebrows and in full devotion engages himself in remembering the Supreme Lord, will certainly attain to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. (Bhagavad-gita 8.10)
It is clearly stated here that at the time of death the mind must be fixed in devotion on the Supreme Godhead. For those practiced in yoga, it is recommended that they raise the life force between the eyebrows, but for a pure devotee who does not practice such yoga, the mind should always be engaged in Krishna consciousness so that at death he can remember the Supreme by His grace.
Without practice of yoga one cannot come to this transcendental state of being at the time of death. One cannot suddenly remember the Supreme Lord at death unless he is practiced in some yoga system, especially the system of bhakti-yoga. Since one’s mind at death is very disturbed, one should practice transcendence through yoga during one’s life.
Persons learned in the Vedas, who utter omkara and who are great sages in the renounced order, enter into Brahman. Desiring such perfection, one practices celibacy. I shall now explain to you this process by which one may attain salvation. (Bhagavad-gita 8.11)
Lord Krishna explains that Brahman, although one without a second, has different manifestations and features. For the impersonalists, the syllable om is identical with Brahman. Krishna here explains the impersonal Brahman in which the renounced order of sages enter.
In the Vedic system of knowledge, students, from the very beginning, are taught to vibrate om and learn of the ultimate impersonal Brahman by living with the spiritual master in complete celibacy. In this way they realize two of Brahman’s features. This practice is very essential for the student’s advancement in spiritual life, but at the moment such brahmacari (unmarried celibate) life is not at all possible.
The social construction of the world has changed so much that there is no possibility of one’s practicing celibacy from the beginning of student life. Throughout the world there are many institutions for different departments of knowledge, but there is no recognized institution where students can be educated in the brahmacari principles. Unless one practices celibacy, advancement in spiritual life is very difficult. Therefore Lord Caitanya has announced, according to the scriptural injunctions for this age of Kali, that no process of realizing the Supreme is possible except the chanting of the holy name of Lord Krishna:
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
The yogic situation is that of detachment from all sensual engagements. Closing all the doors of the senses and fixing the mind on the heart and the life air at the top of the head, one establishes himself in yoga. (Bhagavad-gita 8.12)
To practice yoga, as suggested here, one first has to close the door of all sense enjoyment. Sense organs for acquiring knowledge, such as the eyes, ears, nose, tongue and touch, should be fully controlled and should not be allowed to engage in self-gratification. In this way the mind focuses on the Supersoul in the heart and the life force is raised to the top of the head. In the Sixth Chapter this process is described in detail. But as mentioned before, this practice is not practical in this age. The best process is Krishna consciousness. If one is always able to fix his mind on Krishna in devotional service, it is very easy for him to remain in an undisturbed transcendental trance, or in samadhi.
After being situated in this yoga practice and vibrating the sacred syllable om, the supreme combination of letters, if one thinks of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and quits his body, he will certainly reach the spiritual planets. (Bhagavad-gita 8.13)
It is clearly stated here that om, Brahman, and Lord Krishna are not different. The impersonal sound of Krishna is om, but the sound Hare Krishna contains om.
It is clearly recommended in this age that if one quits his body at the end of this life chanting the mahamantra, Hare Krishna, he will reach the spiritual planets. Similarly, those who are devotees of Krishna enter the Krishna planet or Goloka Vrndavana, whereas the impersonalists remain in the brahmajyoti. The personalists also enter many innumerable planets in the spiritual sky known as Vaikunthas.
For one who remembers Me without deviation, I am easy to obtain, O son of Prtha, because of his constant engagement in devotional service. (Bhagavad-gita 8.14)
In this verse the bhakti-yoga of the unalloyed devotees of the Supreme Godhead is described. The preceding verses mention four different kinds of devotees—
- the distressed,
- the inquisitive,
- those who seek material gain, and
- the speculative philosophers.
Different processes of liberation from material entanglement have also been described: karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, and hatha-yoga. But here bhakti-yoga, without any mixture of these, is mentioned.
In bhakti-yoga the devotees desire nothing but Krishna. The pure bhakti devotee does not desire promotion to heavenly planets, nor does he seek salvation or liberation from material entanglement. A pure devotee does not desire anything. In the Caitanya-caritamrta the pure devotee is called niskama, which means he has no desire for self-interest. Perfect peace belongs to him alone, not to them who strive for personal gain. The pure devotee only wants to please the Supreme Lord, and so the Lord says that for anyone who is unflinchingly devoted to Him, He is easy to attain.
The devotee can render service to any of the transcendental forms of the Supreme Lord, and he meets with none of the problems that plague the practitioners of other yogas.
Bhakti-yoga is very simple and pure and easy to perform. One can begin by simply chanting Hare Krishna. Krishna is very merciful to those who engage in His service, and He helps in various ways that devotee who is fully surrendered to Him so he can understand Him as He is.
The Lord gives such a devotee sufficient intelligence so that ultimately the devotee can attain Him in His spiritual kingdom.
The special qualification of the pure devotee is that he is always thinking of Krishna without considering the time or place. There should be no impediments. He should be able to carry out his service anywhere and at any time.
Some say that the devotee should remain in holy places like Vrndavana or some holy town where the Lord lived, but a pure devotee can live anywhere and create the atmosphere of Vrndavana by his devotional service. It was Sri Advaita who told Lord Caitanya, “Wherever You are, O Lord—there is Vrndavana.”
A pure devotee constantly remembers Krishna and meditates upon Him. These are qualifications of the pure devotee for whom the Lord is most easily attainable. Bhakti-yoga is the system that the Gita recommends above all others. Generally, the bhakti-yogis are engaged in five different ways:
- santa-bhakta, engaged in devotional service in neutrality;
- dasya-bhakta, engaged in devotional service as servant;
- sakhya-bhakta, engaged as friend;
- vatsalya-bhakta, engaged as parent; and
- madhurya-bhakta, engaged as conjugal lover of the Supreme Lord.
In any of these ways, the pure devotee is always constantly engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Supreme Lord and cannot forget the Supreme Lord, and so for him the Lord is easily attained. A pure devotee cannot forget the Supreme Lord for a moment, and similarly, the Supreme Lord cannot forget His pure devotee for a moment. This is the great blessing of the Krishna conscious process of chanting the mahamantra, Hare Krishna.
So from all these instructions from Krishna in so many verses from the eighth chapter of Bhagavad-gita we can clearly understand now how important it is to always remember Krishna. In fact it is instructed by the Vaisnava acaryas that all the regulative principles of devotional service can be summarized in just one: “Always remember Krishna and never forget Krishna.”