The Spiritual World — And how to get there
All the newsletters so far are coming from the introduction to Bhagavad Gita As It Is by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada which, if you do not have, you can get from here. Also I have recorded the introduction to Bhagavad Gita and if you would like to listen to it you can do that here. I am just giving some main points and a summary, there is a lot more information in the book, so please read the book also.
Krishna means the highest pleasure:
Krishna means the highest pleasure. We are all hankering after pleasure. We, the living entities, like Krishna, are full of consciousness, and we are looking for happiness. Krishna is perpetually happy, and if we associate with Krishna and cooperate with Him we will also become happy.
Krishna descends to this material world to show His pastimes in Vrndavana, which are full of happiness. When Lord Sri Krishna was in Vrndavana, His activities with His cowherd boy friends, with the gopis, with the inhabitants of Vrndavana and with the cows were all full of happiness. The total population of Vrndavana knew nothing but Krishna.
The purpose of Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavan on this planet is so we can see such wonderful pastimes of Krishna and therefore come to understand something of what life in the spiritual world, the abode of Krishna, will be like when we go there.
The Spiritual World:
Krishna gives a description of the eternal sky in Bhagavad Gita: “That abode of Mine is not illuminated by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. And anyone who reaches it never comes back to this material world.” (Bg. 15.6)
This verse gives a description of that eternal spiritual sky. We have a material conception of the sky, and we think of it in relationship to the sun, moon, stars and so on, but in this verse the Lord states that in the eternal sky there is no need for the sun nor for the moon nor fire of any kind because the spiritual sky is already illuminated by the brahmajyoti, the rays emanating from the Supreme Lord.
Krishna resides eternally in His abode in the spiritual sky on a planet called Goloka, yet He can be approached from this world, and to this end He comes and manifests His real form in Vrindavan and performs wonderful pastimes there.
When Krishna manifests this form, there is no need for our imagining what He looks like. To discourage such imaginative speculation, He descends and exhibits Himself as He is, as Syamasundara. Unfortunately, the less intelligent deride Him because He comes as one of us and plays with us as a human being. But because of this we should not consider that Krishna is one of us. It is by His potency that He presents Himself in His real form before us and displays His pastimes, which are prototypes of those pastimes found in His abode.
In the effulgent rays of the spiritual sky there are innumerable planets floating. The brahmajyoti emanates from the supreme abode, Krsnaloka, and the anandamaya-cinmaya planets, which are not material, float in those rays. The Lord says, “One who can approach that spiritual sky is not required to descend again to the material sky.”
How to travel to the spiritual sky:
In the material sky, even if we approach the highest planet (Brahmaloka), what to speak of the moon, we will find the same conditions of life, namely birth, death, disease and old age. No planet in the material universe is free from these four principles of material existence. Therefore the Lord says in Bhagavad-gita that the living entities are traveling from one planet to another, not by mechanical arrangement but by a spiritual process. No mechanical arrangement is necessary if we want interplanetary travel.
Bhagavad-gita informs us how to travel to the higher planetary systems (devaloka) with a very simple formula: yanti deva-vrata devan. One need only worship the particular demigod of that particular planet and in that way go to the moon, the sun or any of the higher planetary systems.
Yet Bhagavad-gita does not advise us to go to any of the planets in this material world because even if we go to Brahmaloka, the highest planet in the material world, through some sort of mechanical contrivance by maybe traveling for forty thousand years (and who would live that long?), we will still find the material inconveniences of birth, death, disease and old age. But one who wants to approach the supreme planet, Krsnaloka, or any of the other planets within the spiritual sky, will not meet with these material inconveniences.
Amongst all of the planets in the spiritual sky there is one supreme planet called Goloka Vrndavana, which is the original planet and the abode of the original Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna. All of this information is given in Bhagavad-gita, and we are given through its instruction information how to leave the material world and begin a truly blissful life in the spiritual sky.
Who can reach the spiritual planets?
The spiritual world can be reached by one who is nirmana-moha. What does this mean? We are after designations. Someone wants to become Lord, someone wants to become the president or a rich man or a king or something else. As long as we are attached to these designations, we are attached to the body because designations belong to the body. But we are not these bodies, and realizing this is the first stage in spiritual realization. We are associated with the three modes of material nature, but we must become detached through devotional service to the Lord. If we are not attached to devotional service to the Lord, then we cannot become detached from the modes of material nature. Designations and attachments are due to our lust and desire, our wanting to lord it over the material nature. As long as we do not give up this propensity of lording it over material nature, there is no possibility of returning to the kingdom of the Supreme, the sanatana-dhama. That eternal kingdom, which is never destroyed, can be approached by one who is not bewildered by the attractions of false material enjoyments, who is situated in the service of the Supreme Lord. One so situated can easily approach that supreme abode.
How can we get to the Spiritual World?
Next, one may raise the question of how one goes about approaching that abode of the Supreme Lord. Information on this is given in the Eighth Chapter of Bhagavad Gita. It is said there: “Anyone who quits his body, at the end of life, remembering Me, attains immediately to My nature; and there is no doubt of this.” (Bg. 8.5)
One who thinks of Krishna at the time of his death goes to Krishna. One must remember the form of Krishna; if he quits his body thinking of this form, he approaches the spiritual kingdom. One who leaves this body thinking of the Supreme Personality of Godhead at once attains a spiritual body, as is promised in the fifth verse of the Eighth Chapter where Lord Krishna says, “He attains My nature.”
This life is a preparation for the next life. If we can prepare, therefore, in this life to get promotion to the kingdom of God, then surely, after quitting this material body, we will attain a spiritual body just like the Lord.
Therefore at the end of life the devotees think of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna. And because he is in personal touch with the Supreme Lord, he enters into the Vaikuntha planets in the spiritual sky. The Lord further adds that of this “there is no doubt.” This must be believed firmly.
We should not reject that which does not tally with our imagination; our attitude should be that of Arjuna: “I believe everything that You have said.” Therefore when the Lord says that at the time of death whoever thinks of Him as Brahman or Paramatma or as the Personality of Godhead certainly enters into the spiritual sky, there is no doubt about it. There is no question of disbelieving it.
The information on how to think of the Supreme Being at the time of death is also given in the Gita: “In whatever condition one quits his present body, in his next life he will attain to that state of being without fail.” (Bg. 8.6)
So we can remember Krishna at the time of death we must always engage our minds in reading the Vedic literatures like Bhagavad Gita As It Is and Srimad-Bhagavatam. Just as materialists engage their minds in reading newspapers, magazines and so many materialistic literatures, we must transfer our reading to these literatures which are given to us by Vyasadeva; in that way it will be possible for us to remember the Supreme Lord at the time of death. That is the only way suggested by the Lord, and He guarantees the result: “There is no doubt.” (Bg. 8.7)
“Therefore, Arjuna, you should always think of Me, and at the same time you should continue your prescribed duty and fight. With your mind and activities always fixed on Me, and everything engaged in Me, you will attain to Me without any doubt.”
Thank you for reading this newsletter. I am looking forward to the next one which I think may be called “Do I have to give up my occupation to serve Krishna?”