By His Divine grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
A lecture in NYC on November 23, 1966

To enter a true loving relationship with Krsna, we have to stop seeing Him as our order-supplier.

kabhu svarge uthaya, kabhu narake dubaya
dandya-jane raja yena nadite chubaya

“In the material condition, the living entity is sometimes raised to higher planetary systems and material prosperity and sometimes drowned in a hellish situation. His state is exactly like that of a criminal whom a king punishes by submerging him in water and then raising him again from the water.” – Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya-lila 20.118

Lord Chaitanya is explaining the position of us conditioned souls. We are completely under the grip of material nature. When someone is seated in a car and the driver drives him, if the driver is not under control he drives him anywhere, to any hell. Similarly, we are sitting in the car of this body, supplied by the material nature, and she is driving anywhere, sometimes up, sometimes down. In this way we are suffering life after life, birth after birth. This is our condition. We are not independent; we are completely under the stringent laws of material nature.

Formerly, a culprit would be dunked under water for punishment, and after some time he would be raised up to take a breath. He was suffocating. He was not meant to be killed, but he was given suffering in that way. Similarly, material nature is giving us suffering, miseries.

Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.2.37) gives us direction on this point:

bhayam dvitiyabhiniveshatah syad
ishad apetasya viparyayo ’smritih
tan-mayayato budha abhajet tam
bhaktyaikayesham guru-devatatm

“Fear arises when a living entity misidentifies himself as the material body because of absorption in the external, illusory energy of the Lord. When the living entity thus turns away from the Supreme Lord, he also forgets his own constitutional position as a servant of the Lord. This bewildering, fearful condition is effected by the potency for illusion, called maya. Therefore, an intelligent person should engage unflinchingly in the unalloyed devotional service of the Lord, under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master, whom he should accept as his worshipable deity and as his very life and soul.” When we are forgetful of Krishna consciousness, when we think, “There is no God. Matter is everything. This material manifestation we see is everything, all in all, and there is no Lord, no supreme controller” – when we think like that, our anxiety begins.

Bhayam, fearfulness. We are all fearful because fear is one of the bodily necessities we all have: We want to eat something, we want to sleep, we want to mate, and similarly, we have fear. These are the four principles of animal life shared by human beings. We are always fearful. Why? Because we have taken it that there is no God. We are like the forlorn child who thinks he is lost. “I am helpless. Where is my mother? Where is my father?” Similarly, when we are helpless we are fearful. But those who are Krishna conscious are not helpless. They know, “Above me there is Krishna.”

One of the symptoms of sharanagati, surrender to Krishna, is to have the firm conviction that “Krishna will protect me. I am engaged in Krishna’s service, so Krishna will give me protection.” If I work in some ordinary man’s service, he gives me protection. Don’t you think that if you work for Krishna He’ll give you protection? Because we have no faith, we are seeking protection elsewhere. But Krishna can protect us. He says, aham tvam sarva-papebhyo mokshayishyami: “I shall give you protection from all sinful reactions.” (Gita 18.66)

But we have no faith. We are thinking, “Oh, it is written in the Bhagavad-gita, that’s all right, but I must have my protection in a different way.”

Because someone thinks there is something superior to Krishna, he is fearful. The Bhagavatam explains why a conditioned soul is fearful: bhayam dvitiyabhiniveshatah syat. When we take shelter of maya, illusion, then we are afraid. We must understand, “Illusion, this material energy, is under the control of Krishna, because illusion is also Krishna’s energy, His inferior energy. So within this material energy, when I am forgetful of Krishna this material energy is fearful for me, and when I am fully in Krishna consciousness there is no question of fearfulness from material nature.”

Simply by Devotional Service

Therefore it is our duty to regain our lost consciousness, Krishna consciousness. That is the duty of this human form of life. Abhajet tam bhaktyaika isham. If you want to worship the Supreme Lord, then you have to worship Him simply by service. There is no other process. You cannot worship Krishna by controlling breathing or by mental speculation or by some pious activities or charity. You have to worship Him simply by your devotional love. That is the only way. Bhaktyaika – “only one, bhakti.” There is no other means.

There is no second means to understand God besides devotional service. Rest assured. Foolish people do not understand this. They come to the impersonal or the void – all the nonsensical conclusions. Because they do not take shelter of devotion, they cannot come to any true conclusion. It is not possible. Therefore, they more or less become atheists or go after the void or impersonalism or create so many other ideas.

But Krishna, the Supreme Lord, cannot be understood by any process other than devotional service. It is simply a waste of time. If you want to know Krishna, if you want to know God, then you have to take to this process. Guru-devatatma: “He is the Supreme Lord, He is the Supersoul, and He is the supreme spiritual master.”

He’s the supreme spiritual master within you. As soon as you take to devotional service He’ll give you dictation: “Do this.” Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita (10.10), dadami buddhi-yogam tam: “I give him intelligence.” What for? Yena mam upayanti te: “By which he can come back to Me.” That intelligence. He’ll help you. If you are fully surrendered, then He’ll direct you in such a way that you cannot go elsewhere except to Him – even if sometimes you think, “He is doing something against my will.”

Krishna Takes Charge

I have got my personal experience. I never accepted that I would become a sannyasi. I tried my best to keep myself in the material world. Several times Krishna frustrated me. He brought me by force to this life, and now I am happy. I can understand how much favor Krishna has showed me. Yes. I did not understand in the beginning.

So sometimes, if Krishna takes special care for you, He’ll act in such a way that you will have no other way than to go back to Him. Krishna will take charge if we sincerely want Him. He sees, “Here is a person who wants Me, but he’s foolish. He wants Me; at the same time he wants to enjoy this material world. So I’ll crush this, crush this – his material propensities – and let him simply become devoted.” Yes. Sometimes we see like that.

In the Srimad-Bhagavatam Maharaja Parikshit put a question to Shukadeva Goswami. Maharaja Parikshit understood that his grandfathers were put into so many difficulties even though Krishna was their personal friend. Everyone was astonished: “How is that? Maharaja Yudhishthira is the most pious man. Arjuna is the greatest warrior, and Draupadi, their wife, is directly the goddess of fortune. And above all, Krishna is their personal friend. And still they were put into such difficulties. They lost their kingdom. They lost their wife. For thirteen years they had to undergo so many troubles.” So this was astonishing. Even Bhishma cried. “I cannot understand why these five brothers are put into so many difficulties in spite of all their good qualities.”

So their grandson, Maharaja Parikshit, when he was being taught by Shukadeva Goswami, had some suspicions about devotion to Krishna. Not suspicions, but just to teach us he inquired, “Lord Krishna is Vishnu, the master of the goddess of fortune. Why do people who become Krishna conscious or devotees of Vishnu remain poor, and others, those who worship Shiva and other demigods, become very rich? What is the reason? Krishna is the proprietor of everything, but those who want Him become poorer. Lord Shiva doesn’t even have a house of his own – he’s a pauper – but one who worships him becomes richer.”

You know the history of Lord Shiva. He hasn’t got a house even. He lives under a tree or in some mountain. But those who worship Shiva – oh, they get material opulence very nicely. And they can smoke ganja. So all this captivates people to become devotees of Shiva. Naturally, anyone who wants material prosperity becomes a devotee of Shiva.

So this is contradictory. “Shiva has no house even, not even a dwelling place, a residence. He’s a pauper. And by worshiping him one becomes richer. And Krishna – sahasra-shata-sambhrama-sevyamanam – thousands of goddesses of fortune are always serving Him. He has such opulence. But krishna-bhaktas, devotees of Krishna, appear to be poor. Why?”

Shukadeva Goswami answered, “This very question was also put to Krishna by your grandfather Maharaja Yudhishthira. So instead of answering myself, I’ll refer to that very question and answer between your grandfather and Krishna. Krishna answered like this: yasyaham anugrihnami harishye tad-dhanam shanaih: ‘If I do somebody some special favor, then My first duty is to crush all his material possessions.'” (Bhagavatam 10.88.8) You see? Why? “To make him more surrendered to Me.” When he becomes helpless he has no other way. “Krishna, please take me.”

When he has something, he thinks, “Oh, my material possessions will protect me.” Therefore he does not surrender. Now, Krishna sees “This living entity is very much My devotee, but he wants some nonsense. So I’ll crush him so that he’ll feel helpless and come to Me. I’ll give him all protection.”

Sometimes Krishna tests us to see whether we are sincere devotees. Because we are always after sense gratification, if Krishna is not an order-supplier then we reject Krishna. We want God, or Krishna, to be our order-supplier. So we must order Krishna, “Give me this. Give me that. If You cannot give me what I want, then what are You, Krishna? I don’t want You.” This sort of bhakti, or devotional service, is not accepted by Krishna.

My German godbrother told me that during wartime some German women prayed in the church to get back their husband, son, or brothers, because all went to war. But nobody returned, and these women became atheists: “Oh, there is no God. I prayed so much to God to get my husband back, my brothers back, but they are dead.”

If we go to Krishna with that purpose – that He should be our order-supplier – then there is no question of Krishna bhakti. We must fully surrender: “Let Him do as He likes.”

Sri Chaitanya taught (Sikshashtaka 8),

ashlishya va pada-ratam pinashtu mam
adarshanan marma-hatam karotu va
yatha tatha va vidadhatu lampato
mat-prana-nathas tu sa eva naparah

“I know no one but Krishna as my Lord, and He shall remain so even if He handles me roughly by His embrace or makes me brokenhearted by not being present before me. He is completely free to do anything and everything, for He is always my worshipable Lord, unconditionally.” Lord Chaitanya says, “You may embrace me or trample me with Your feet, You may neglect me, and You may make me brokenhearted by not being present before me all my life.” Marma-hatam means “brokenhearted.” “I love You so much. I want You, but You never care for me. That’s all right. Still You are my worshipable Lord, unconditionally. I don’t want any return from You. Still You are my worshipable deity.” This is pure devotion.

Krishna takes all care. Don’t think otherwise. He says, aham tvam sarva-papebhyo mokshayishyami: “I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions.” ( Gita 18.66) Why should you be so anxious? One who is in love with Krishna wants to see Him, wants to love Him. But even if He does not present Himself before the lover, the lover says, “Oh, still You are my lovable object. You are free to treat me as You like, but You are my worshipable Lord.” This is pure. As soon as we come to this stage, that is perfection. Don’t expect anything in return.

Rupa Goswami’s “Mistake”

There is a nice story about Sanatana Goswami, whom we are now studying. The brothers Sanatana Goswami and Rupa Goswami went to Vrindavan for devotional service. Rupa Goswami, especially, was always engaged in writing books. And when he was hungry, he would go to some householder and ask, “Please give me a piece of bread.” And everyone in Vrindavan would give. The Goswamis were leaders. All the Vrindavan inhabitants took their advice. They even placed their household quarrels before them: “Swamiji, this is our position. Please settle it.” Whatever decision he would give to the villagers, they would accept. Their court was Swamiji, Rupa Goswami. He was so lovable.

One day Rupa Goswami was thinking, “If I could get some ingredients for cooking, then I would invite Sanatana Goswami to take some prasadam.” He thought like that. And after, say, one hour, a young girl came with rice, flour, ghee, and vegetables, so many things.

“Babaji, please accept these ingredients. There is some ceremony at our house, so My mother has sent you all these things.”

Rupa Goswami inquired, “Oh, You are a very nice girl. Where do You live?”

“I live in this village. You do not know?”

“No, I have never seen You. All right. Thank You very much.”

Then She went away, and Rupa Goswami invited Sanatana Goswami, “My dear brother, please come and take your prasadam here. I have got some food.”

“All right.”

Sanatana Goswami came during prasadam time, and Rupa Goswami had prepared many nice dishes. The Goswamis were expert in cooking. All devotees are expert in so many things. That is their qualification.

Sanatana Goswami inquired, “How did you get all these nice things here in this jungle?”

Rupa Goswami narrated the story.

“In the morning I thought, ‘If somebody sends me something . . .’ So by Krishna’s grace a very beautiful girl brought all these things.”


He began to describe the girl’s beauty.

Then Sanatana Goswami said, “Oh, I have never seen this beautiful girl.”

“Yes, I have also never seen Her.”

“Ohhh! Then She must be Radharani. She must be Radha. You have taken service from Radharani? Ohhh! You have murdered me. We don’t want to take any service from Krishna, and He has taken the opportunity. We want to simply give our service, not any exchange. Oh, you have made a great mistake. Radharani has taken this opportunity.” He began to cry. “We have taken service from Krishna. We have given Radharani trouble.” This is the mood of the pure devotee. They were very sorry. “Krishna was troubled to send all these goods.”

Krishna is always looking for the opportunity – “How to serve My pure devotee?” And the pure devotee’s so clever that he won’t accept any service from Krishna. Arjuna never said, “Krishna, You are God. Why are You putting me to war indirectly? You can give me everything.” Arjuna never said that. And Krishna said, “You are a kshatriya. You have to fight.”

We should not take God as our order-supplier. That is not devotion. That is mercantile business. Krishna is not going to be your lover if you approach Him with a mercantile mentality. You must give Him service. Abhajet tam. This is the process of devotion.

Thank you very much.