It is also said that Vasudeva and Devakī, in their previous birth as Sutapā and Pṛśni, underwent a severe type of penance to get the Lord as their son, and as a result of such austerities the Lord appeared as their son. It is already declared in the Bhagavad-gītā that the Lord appears for the welfare of all people in the world and to vanquish the asuras, or the materialistic atheists.
The Lord says:
- yadā yadā hi dharmasya
- glānir bhavati bhārata
- abhyutthānam adharmasya
- tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham
"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion - at that time I descend Myself." (BG 4.7)
The words dharmasya glāniḥ mean "irregularities in religion." When there are irregularities, religion becomes polluted.
In human society there must be a proper balance between spirit and matter. We are actually spirit soul, but somehow or other we have been encaged within material bodies, and as long as we have these bodies we have to accept the bodily necessities of eating, sleeping, mating, and defending, although the soul itself does not need these things. The soul does not need to eat anything; whatever we eat is for the upkeep of the body. But a civilization that simply looks after these bodily necessities and does not care for the necessities of the soul is a foolish, unbalanced civilization. Suppose one merely washes one's coat but does not take care of one's body. Or suppose one has a bird in a cage but merely takes care of the cage, not the bird within it. This is foolishness. The bird is crying, "Ka, ka. Give me food, give me food." If one only takes care of the cage, how can the bird be happy?
So why are we unhappy? In the Western countries there is no scarcity of wealth, no scarcity of food, no scarcity of cars, and no scarcity of sex. Everything is available in full abundance. Then why is there still a section of people who are frustrated and confused, like the hippies? They are not satisfied. Why? Because there is no balance. We are taking care of the necessities of the body, but we have no information of the soul and its necessities. The soul is the real substance, and the body is only a covering. Therefore neglect of the soul is a form of dharmasya glāniḥ, pollution of duty.
The word dharma means "duty." Although the word dharma is often translated as "religion" and religion is generally defined as a kind of faith, dharma is not in fact a kind of faith. Dharma means one's actual constitutional duty. It is one's duty to know the needs of the soul, but unfortunately we have no information of the soul and are simply busy supplying the necessities for bodily comfort.
Bodily comfort, however, is not enough. Suppose a man is very comfortably situated. Does it mean he will not die? Of course not. We speak of a struggle for existence and survival of the fittest, but bodily comforts alone cannot enable anyone to exist or survive permanently. Therefore, taking care of the body only is called dharmasya glāniḥ, or pollution of one's duty.
One must know the necessities of the body and also the necessities of the soul. The real necessity in life is to supply the comforts of the soul, and the soul cannot be comforted by material adjustments. Because the soul is a different identity, the soul must be given spiritual food, and that spiritual food is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. When one is diseased, he must be given the proper diet and the proper medicine. Both are required. If he is simply given medicine but not a proper diet, the treatment will not be very successful. Therefore the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is meant to give both the proper medicine and the proper diet for the soul. The diet is kṛṣṇa-prasāda, food that has first been offered to Kṛṣṇa, and the medicine is the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra.
- nivṛtta-tarṣair upagīyamānād
- bhavauṣadhāc chrotra-mano-'bhirāmāt
- ka uttamaśloka-guṇānuvādāt
- pumān virajyeta vinā paśu-ghnāt
- (SB 10.1.4)
Parīkṣit Mahārāja said to the great sage Śukadeva Gosvāmī, "The discourses on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that you are giving me are not ordinary. These Bhāgavata discourses are relishable for persons who are nivṛtta-tṛṣṇa, free from hankering." Everyone in this material world is hankering for enjoyment, but one who is free from this hankering can taste how relishable the Bhāgavatam is. The word bhāgavata refers to anything in relationship to Bhagavān, the Supreme Lord, and the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is also bhāgavata. Thus Parīkṣit Mahārāja said that the taste of the Bhāgavata can be relished by one who is free from hankering to satisfy material desires. And why should this Bhāgavata be tasted? Bhavauṣadhi: it is the medicine for our disease of birth and death.
At the present moment, we are in a diseased condition. Materialists do not know what is disease and what is health. They do not know anything, but still they are posing as great scientists and philosophers. They do not inquire, "I do not want to die. Why is death enforced upon me?" Nor do they have any solution to this problem. But still they call themselves scientists. What kind of scientists are they? Advancement in science should bring about knowledge by which misery can be minimized. Otherwise, what is the meaning of science? Scientists may promise that they can help us in the future, but we may ask them, "What are you giving us right now, sir?" A real scientist will not say, "Just go on suffering as you are suffering now, and in the future we shall find some chemicals to help you." No. Ātyantika-duḥkha-nivṛttiḥ. The word ātyantika means "ultimate," and duḥkha means "sufferings." The aim of human life should be to put an end to the ultimate sufferings, but people do not even know what these ultimate sufferings are. These sufferings are pointed out in Bhagavad-gītā as janma-mṛtyu-jarā-vyādhi: (BG 13.9) birth, death, old age, and disease. What have we done to nullify these sufferings? There is no remedy for them in the material world. The ultimate way to relinquish all kinds of suffering is stated in Bhagavad-gītā (8.15), where the Lord says:
- mām upetya punar janma
- duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam
- nāpnuvanti mahātmānaḥ
- saṁsiddhiṁ paramāṁ gatāḥ
"After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogīs in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection."
Thus the Lord says that one should approach Him and go back to Him, back home, back to Godhead. But unfortunately people have no knowledge of what God is, whether one can go back home to Him or not, and whether or not it is practical. Because they have no knowledge, they are simply like animals. They pray, "O God, give us our daily bread." But now suppose we ask them, "What is God?" Can they explain? No. Then whom are they asking? Are they merely praying into the air? If I submit some petition, there must be some person to whom the petition is submitted. But they do not know who that person is or where the petition is to be submitted. They say that God is in the sky. But there are also so many birds in the sky. Are they God? People have imperfect knowledge or no knowledge at all. Nonetheless, they pose as scientists, philosophers, writers, and great thinkers, although their ideas are all rubbish.
The only truly worthwhile books are those like Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and Bhagavad-gītā. In the Bhāgavatam :( 1.5.10-11)it is said:
- na yad vacaś citra-padaṁ harer yaśo
- jagat-pavitraṁ pragṛṇīta karhicit
- tad vāyasaṁ tīrtham uśanti mānasā
- na yatra haṁsā niramanty uśik-kṣayāḥ
"Those words which do not describe the glories of the Lord, who alone can sanctify the atmosphere of the whole universe, are considered by saintly persons to be like unto a place of pilgrimage for crows. Since the all-perfect persons are inhabitants of the transcendental abode, they do not derive any pleasure there."
- tad-vāg-visargo janatāgha-viplavo
- yasmin prati-ślokam abaddhavaty api
- nāmāny anantasya yaśo 'ṅkitāni yat
- śṛṇvanti gāyanti gṛṇanti sādhavaḥ
"On the other hand, that literature which is full of descriptions of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, forms, pastimes, etc., of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a different creation, full of transcendental words directed toward bringing about a revolution in the impious lives of this world's misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literatures, even though imperfectly composed, are heard, sung, and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest."
Any literature that has no connection with God is just like a place where crows take enjoyment. Where do crows enjoy? In a filthy place. But white swans take pleasure in nice clear waters surrounded by gardens. So even among animals there are natural divisions. The crows will not go to the swans, and the swans will not go to the crows. Similarly, in human society there are men who are like crows and men who are like swans. The swanlike men will come to centers of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, where everything is clear, where there is good philosophy, good transcendental food, good education, good intelligence - everything good - whereas crowlike men will go to clubs, parties, naked dance shows, and so many other such things.
So the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is meant for swanlike men, not for men who are like crows. But we can convert the crows into swans. That is our philosophy. Those who were crows are now swimming like swans. That is the benefit of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
The material world is the world where swans have become crows. In the material world the living entity is encaged in a material body, and he tries to gratify his senses in one body after another. But the reestablishment of dharma will gradually turn crows into swans. For example, a man may be illiterate and uncultured, but he can be converted into an educated, cultured man by training.
This training is possible in the human form of life. I cannot train a dog to become a devotee. That is difficult. Of course, that also can be done, although I may not be powerful enough to do it. When Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu was traveling through the jungles of Jhārikhaṇḍa the tigers, the snakes, the deer, and all the other animals became devotees. This was possible for Caitanya Mahāprabhu because He is God Himself and can therefore do anything. But although we cannot do that, we can work in human society. Regardless of how fallen a man is, if he follows the instructions of Kṛṣṇa consciousness he can return to his original position. Of course, there are degrees of understanding, but one's original position is that one is part and parcel of God. Understanding of this position is called Brahman realization, spiritual realization, and it is this realization that Kṛṣṇa Himself comes to this world to reestablish.
Lord Kṛṣṇa came to this world at the request of His devotees Vasudeva and Devakī (vasudevasya devakyāṁ yācito 'bhyagāt (SB 1.8.33)). Although in their former lives Vasudeva and Devakī were married, they did not have any children. They engaged themselves in severe austerities, and when Kṛṣṇa came before them and asked them what they wanted, they said, "We want a son like You. That is our desire." But how is it possible for there to be another God? Kṛṣṇa is God, and God is one; He cannot be two. So how could there be another God to become the son of Vasudeva and Devakī? Kṛṣṇa therefore said, "It is not possible to find another God, so I Myself shall become your son." So some people say that it is because Vasudeva and Devakī wanted Kṛṣṇa as their son that He appeared.
Although Kṛṣṇa actually comes to satisfy His devotees like Vasudeva and Devakī, when He comes He performs other activities also. Vadhāya ca sura-dviṣām. The word vadhāya means "killing," and sura-dviṣām refers to the demons, who are always envious of the devotees. Kṛṣṇa comes to kill these demons.
An example of a demon is Hiraṇyakaśipu. Because Prahlāda Mahārāja was a devotee, his father, Hiraṇyakaśipu, was so envious that he was prepared to kill his own son, although the little boy's only fault was that he was chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa. This is the nature of demons. Jesus Christ also was killed by the sura-dviṣām, those who were envious of him. What was his fault? His only fault was that he was preaching about God. Yet he had so many enemies, who cruelly crucified him. Therefore Kṛṣṇa comes to kill such sura-dviṣām.
This killing of the envious, of course, can be done without the presence of Kṛṣṇa. By setting to work the natural forces of war, pestilence, famine, and so on, Kṛṣṇa can kill millions of people. He does not need to come here to kill these rascals, for they can be killed simply by His direction, or nature's law. Sṛṣṭi-sthiti-pralaya-sādhana-śaktir ekā (Bs. 5.44). Nature has so much power that it can create, maintain, and annihilate everything. Sṛṣṭi means "creation," sthiti means "maintenance," and pralaya means "destruction." Nature can create, maintain, and also destroy. This material cosmic manifestation is being maintained by the mercy of nature, by which we are getting sunlight, air, and rain by which to grow our food so that we can eat and grow nicely. But nature is so powerful that at any time it can destroy everything simply by one strong wind. Nature is working under the direction of Kṛṣṇa (mayādhyakṣeṇa prakṛtiḥ sūyate sa-carācaram (BG 9.10)). Therefore, if Kṛṣṇa wants demons killed, He can kill millions of them with merely one strong blast of nature's wind.
So to kill the demons Kṛṣṇa does not need to come. When He comes, He does so because He is requested by His devotees like Vasudeva and Devakī, as Kuntīdevī indicates by using the word yācitaḥ, meaning "being prayed for." Therefore the real cause of His coming is at the request of His devotees, but when He comes He simultaneously shows that He is prepared to kill anyone who is envious of His devotees. Of course, His killing and maintaining are the same because He is absolute. Those who are killed by Kṛṣṇa immediately attain salvation, which generally takes millions of years to get.
So people may say that Kṛṣṇa has come for this purpose or that purpose, but actually Kṛṣṇa comes for the benefit of His devotees. He always looks after the welfare of the devotees, and so from this instruction of Kuntī we should understand that we should always be concerned with how to become devotees. Then all good qualities will come upon us.
- yasyāsti bhaktir bhagavaty akiñcanā
- sarvair guṇais tatra samāsate surāḥ
- (SB 5.18.12)
If one simply develops one's dormant, natural devotion for Kṛṣṇa, one will develop all good qualities.
Our devotion for Kṛṣṇa is natural. Just as a son has natural devotion to his father and mother, we have natural devotion to Kṛṣṇa. When there is danger, even materialistic scientists pray to God. Of course, when they are not in danger they defy God, and therefore danger is required in order to teach these rascals that there is God. Jīvera svarūpa haya-kṛṣṇera 'nitya-dāsa' (CC Madhya 20.108). Our natural position is to be dependent on God. Artificially we are trying to banish God, saying, "God is dead," "There is no God," or "I am God." But when we give up this rascaldom, Kṛṣṇa will give us all protection.