This morning Prabhupada began the sixth chapter of Canto Five, "The Activities of Lord Rishabhadeva." In one way it is a bit of an event; he travels so frequently, and because each temple is usually reading from a different part of the Srimad Bhagavatam, he rarely speaks on more than a few verses contiguously. To complete one full chapter and move into the next is unusual.
Pradyumna read out the Sanskrit and then the translation: "King Parikshit asked Sukadeva Gosvami: My dear Lord, for those who are completely pure in heart, knowledge is attained by the practice of bhakti yoga, and attachment for fruitive activity is completely burned to ashes. For such people, the powers of mystic yoga automatically arise. They do not cause distress. Why, then, did Rishabhadeva neglect them?"
Prabhupada started by identifying two classes of men: the atmarama and the apasyatam atma tattvam [SB 2.1.2]?those who are self-satisfied and those who know neither the soul nor the business of the soul. To know simply that one is not the body is knowledge beyond that of the ordinary karmis, who, Prabhupada said, have been described by Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura as mudhas, or asses. They simply work like animals for nothing more than sense satisfaction. But the transcendentalist is different. "One who knows atma tattva and the business of atma tattva, they are called atmarama, enjoying. Unless we become atmarama, there is no possibility of happiness."
While staying here in the dhama Prabhupada has frequently referenced the founders of modern day Vrindavana, and again he turned to the Six Gosvamis as the exemplars of our spiritual lives. "They were very opulent ministers, but they were not happy. They resigned from the post. Tyaktva turnam asesha mandala pati srenim sada tuccha vat [Sri Sad gosvamy ashtaka 4]. Because there was no happiness. And what they adopted? They adopted the life of a mendicant. Bhutva dina ganesakau karunaya kaupina kanthasritau. For doing good to the others, they accepted kaupina kanthasritau [loin clothes and torn quilts]."
In citing the Six Gosvamis as the ideal, he also cautioned us not to imitate them and made us laugh with his penetrating humor. "That is not so easy to become a Rupa Gosvami, atmarama. They were busy, very busy in transcendental activities. Simply to give up the family life or big post and come to Vrindavana and live cheaply by begging some chapati and become Rupa Gosvami, that is not ideal. You should follow Rupa Gosvami, their footprints. Tyaktva turnam asesha mandala. First of all, Rupa Gosvami, their giving up family life was meaningful. But if somebody, out of poverty, he comes to Vrindavana to solve the 'chapati problem,' that is not Rupa Gosvami." The devotees laughed at Prabhupada's description of the beggars who pose as sadhus, and he chuckled as he proceeded to relate to us how, in contrast, the Gosvamis thought only of how to benefit others. This mood can also be found in Prahlada Maharaja and Dhruva Maharaja. "They have no business for personal satisfaction. They are completely satisfied, atmarama. But they have got another dissatisfaction, that seeing men like us engaged in sense gratification and working whole day and night like dogs and pigs, so they are very much anxious, 'How to stop this foolish person from this unnecessary trouble?' Rishabhadeva has instructed us in the beginning, 'Don't spoil your life working so hard like hogs and dogs. No, this is not good.' Na sadhu manye. 'This is not good.' "
Again he observed the unfortunate state of modern society: how citizens are exhorted by billboards and advertisements to " 'Work hard. Work hard.' And the people have come to the stage of pulling thela [handcarts] and rickshaw, and still, they have to work hard! This is the position. Because they do not know how to become atmarama. That is the difficulty.
"So this Krishna consciousness movement is to teach people how to become atmarama."
By engagement in bhakti-yoga one automatically gains atma tattva jnana, and that means surrendering to Krishna. As Vasudeva, Prabhupada said, He is everywhere, inviting us 'mad asrayah,' to take shelter of Him. But, he continued, "It is not possible to take shelter of the lotus feet of Krishna directly. That is not possible. You have to take shelter of a person who has already taken shelter of the lotus feet . . . That is mad asrayah."
When one becomes atmarama, Prabhupada told us, then one's karma phala is finished; there is no more material reaction as there is with the materialist. "The devotee may be observed that he's also engaged in ordinary work. He's also printing books and selling them and maintaining mathas and temples. 'so he is also doing business.' [But] that is not business; that is bhakti. Sometimes bhakti appears to be like ordinary karma, but it is not karma. It is karma in this way, that the same pea, it looks like a pea, but if you sow it, it will not produce anymore."
Quoting Brahma samhita, Prabhupada declared that everyone, from the lowest to the highest, is bound up by the laws of karma. "But a bhakta is not bound up. How he can be bound up? Because as soon as he surrenders to Krishna, Krishna gives him assurance, aham tvam sarvapapebhyo mokshayishyami; immediately finish . . . So we can become immediately liberated. Liberated means he who has no karma bandhana, no resultant action. That is liberation."
By appearance, Prabhupada told us, it may seem that the non-devotee and the devotee are getting the same result. "People may say, 'A karmi is dying, and bhakta is dying. What is benefit?' No. He's not dying, but he is dying or giving up this body for living forever. And the non-devotee, he is dying to accept another body. That is the difference."
The key to liberation is to give up the dictation of the mind and the senses. "The senses are not yours, because this body is given by Krishna through the agency of maya. You wanted this thing. Isvarah sarva bhutanam hrid dese 'rjuna tishthati [Bg. 18.61]. He knows what you are wanting because He is constantly seeing you. He is sitting within your heart. He knows what I am desiring, and He is asking maya, 'Give him this body.' So in this way, if we remain entrapped in the laws of material nature, then it is not good. Na sadhu manye yata atmano yam asann api klesada asa dehah [SB 5.5.4]. This practice we should give up. Mano dharma. Mental concoction. We should immediately accept Krishna's instruction and be situated in atma dharma. That is atmarama."