Created for the disciples and aspiring disciples of His Holiness Radhanath Swami
Lecture on Learning from the pigeons by Radhanath Swami at ISKCON London, London, UK on 23 March 2017
(Srimad Bhagavatam 11.7.52)
Verse: One should never indulge in excessive affection or concern for anyone or anything; otherwise one will have to experience great suffering, just like the foolish pigeon.
Purport: The Sanskrit prefix ati, or “excessive,” indicates affection or attachment in which there is no Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Lord Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā (5.29), suhṛ daṁ sarva-bhūtānām: the Lord is the eternal well-wisher of every living being. The Lord is so affectionate that He sits in the heart of every conditioned soul and accompanies him throughout his endless wandering in the kingdom of māyā, patiently waiting for the conditioned soul to come back home, back to Godhead. Thus the Lord makes all arrangements for the eternal happiness of every living entity. The best way for anyone to show compassion and affection for all living beings is to become a preacher on behalf of Lord Kṛṣṇa and assist the Lord in reclaiming the fallen souls. If our affection or attachment for others is based on bodily sense gratification, in the name of society, friendship and love, that excessive, unwanted affection ( ati-sneha ) will cause burning pain at the time of the breaking or destruction of the relationship. Now the story of the foolish pigeon will be narrated. A similar story is described in the Seventh Canto, Second Chapter of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, told by Yamarāja to the mourning widows of King Suyajña.
● Krishna descended into this world, as he does one time in a day of Brahma (over 8bn years), to give the highest dharma. He comes again and again to enliven and give protection to the devotees, and annihilate the obstacles to Bhakti.
● There are many different ways the lord descends, but it's only once in a day of Brahma that the Lord comes in his eternal form of Krishna, with Radha. He comes down to reveal the eternally sweet pastimes of Vrindavana and to attract our hearts.
● Uddhava was Krishna's constant associate and Krishna would would ask his advice. Not just as a lila of formality, but because Krishna totally trusted Uddhava's devotion.
● Krishna sent Uddhava to be his messenger because the gopis of Vrindavan were dying in separation! He had to send a messenger who people would trust the most, and he sent Uddhava.
● This was somewhat external, however. Internally, it was due to his true devotion that he sent him.
● When he went to Vrindavan, he realised his love was insignificant. He had no love compared to the Vrajabasis! In this way, he became humbled. This is the real impact of Sat Sanga.
● When we associate with great devotees, the doors to the highest liberation open for us.
● When we hear about Krishna, the great personalities of the Bhagavatam and the Caitanya-Caritamrta, the effect is that of Uddhava; we become humbled.
● We realise that we actually have nothing! When we truly feel that, our hearts become open to praying to these personalities. In that way, Krishna reveals himself.
nāhaṁ vipro na ca nara-patir nāpi vaiśyo na śūdro
nāhaṁ varṇī na ca gṛ ha-patir no vanastho yatir vā
kintu prodyan-nikhila-paramānanda-pūrnāmṛ tābdher
gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ
● “I am not a brāhmaṇa, I am not a kṣatriya, I am not a vaiśya or a śūdra. Nor am I a brahmacārī, a householder, a vānaprastha or a sannyāsī. I identify Myself only as the servant of the servant of the servant of the lotus feet of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the maintainer of the gopīs. He is like an ocean of nectar, and He is the cause of universal transcendental bliss. He is always existing with brilliance.” - CC Madhya 13.80
● The more we understand Krishna, the more our heart is filled with Krishna's love and the more humble we feel.
● Anu is the tiniest particle there is. To become the smallest of all the smallest servants there is of the Gopis.
● Uddhava, when in Vrindavan, wanted to take the dust of their feet! He's a royal prince, Krishna's best friend!
● But he didn't want to embarrass the gopis. So he simply prayed to become a blade of grass on Govardhan, so when the gopis play with Krishna, their dust may be able to go on his head. ● Just before Krishna's final pastimes, where he departs from this world and takes the yadu dynasty with him, he speaks these instructions - the Uddhava Gita. These are the last statements in his Lila in this world!
● What great people do, common men follow. Thus, Srimad Bhagavatam is full of pastimes of great personalities.
● The essence of all Vedic knowledge is to follow in the footsteps of great souls.
● People are very interested with increasing their life, with becoming famous. Everyone wants fame, prestige and material opulences. The whole world is fighting, crying and dying for these things. ● The sun is providing heat, giving light and evaporates water. It is common for people to be described as the sun in Srimad Bhagavatam. Pritha Maharaja is described like the sun, where he evaporates the water without keeping anything for himself. Similarly, the sun evaporates salt water which isn't of use to anyone, and provides water that nourishes through the clouds.
● We should be like the sun:when we receive from Krishna, we are the caretakers, not the receivers. True wealth is not what we get, but how we use it.
● Krishna tells in the Gita: Whatever you do, it must be done in His loving service. Krishna sees the quality of our intent.
● The only success how we please God through our sincere efforts.
● The sun is taking the salt water and providing freshwater to teach us that whatever we have is not ours to keep.
● We can attain peace when we understand 3 things: Krishna is the proprietor of everything, the father and mother of everyone, and thus everything should be used in his service.
● He is the supreme wellwisher of each living entity.
● The greatest way of pleasing Krishna is, through whatever we have, uplifting others towards loving devotion to Krishna - just like the sun.
● Now, Uddhava is giving the lesson from his next Guru, the pigeon.
● He's teaching that everywhere we go, whatever we look at, we can gain life-changing lessons.
● Especially relevant to London is what we can learn from pigeons!
● The story goes:
○ There was a male pigeon and a female pigeon, and they fell in love with each other.
○ The pigeons became so attached to each other.
○ This particular male and female pigeon, they're having their own lifestyles being completely attached to each other.
○ They have a family, make a nice nest and have children.
○ As the babies are growing day by day, they become more and more attached to them.
○ We have our homes, they have their nest!
○ While they were out finding food for their children, a hunter came. He understood that if he could capture the babies, he could capture the parents. He thus put a net around the nest and captured them all. They're trapped, and there's nothing they can do and they can only cry. The hunter then comes and takes them away.
● To the degree his family gave him pleasure, to that degree his is suffering.
● We're all seeking the love of Krishna that's dormant in our heart, but we try to find it in things.
● Bhaktivinoda Thakura sang:
gṛhe thāko, vane thāko, sadā 'hari' bole' ḍāko,
sukhe duḥkhe bhulo nā'ko, vadane hari-nām koro re
○ Whether you are a householder or a sannyasi, constantly chant "Hari! Hari!" Do not forget this chanting, whether you are in a happy condition or a distressful one. Just fill your lips with the hari-nama.
● Truth is to understand that, whatever role I am in, it is an opportunity for seva.
● Family life itself is Grihastha ashram. Ashram means a place for spiritual awakening, a place where Krishna is the centre. In that way, the Grihastha ashram is a place for spiritual advancement.
● Having Krishna in the centre means saṁ siddhir hari-toṣ aṇ am , pleasing Krishna.
● If we regularly hear from Srimad Bhagavatam, we get our vision in the right direction. And when we read Srimad Bhagavatam, we see confirmations everywhere in what we read.
● My hope is that in seeing through the eyes of the Srimad Bhagavatam, when we leave the temple of Sri Sri Radha Londonisvara, we offer our pranams to the pigeons, because they're teaching us what our guru is teaching us!
The culmination of the Srimad Bhagavatam is to always remember Krishna and never forget Krishna. And the best way to do this is through Harinama Sankirtan.