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Subject: reading as austerity of speech -----------------------------------------------------------SKKP: Bg. 17.

15 "How to Read BG," Warsaw, Poland, July 19, 1998 In Bg. 17.15 it is mentioned, svadhyayabhyasanam: one aspect of the austerity of speech is to practice Vedic study. So, one of the thoughts I had while going through this chapter this morning was that we could discuss a little, maybe give some practical tip for studying Vedic literatures, specifically Bhagavad-gita. Because it is very valuable for all of us, and all of us means all of us here today who have some interest in spiritual life to practice this austerity. Some persons who have been practicing Krsna consciousness for many years find this austerity painful. And because they find it too painful, they tend to neglect it. But perhaps one of the reasons that it becomes painful is because there is little experience of how one can practice it effectively for nourishing one's spiritual life. And so what happens is we join the video culture. "Why read when you can watch a video? Why read when you can hear a tape?" So we tend to neglect or maybe even give up the practice of svadhyayabhyasanam. Perhaps to reflect on how relishable the practice can be, we can recall the devotee that Caitanya Mahaprabhu met in South India. This devotee found it also difficult, in a sense, to practice this svadhyaya. And yet, he had an order from his spiritual master that he should read every day one chapter from Bhagavad-gita. There was a problem and the problem was that he was not very literate. And as a result of his perhaps not so heartful reading of Bhagavad-gita, those who were learned, the local panditas (I believe this was in Sri Rangam), they were amuzed. Well, their amuzement did not deter our hero. Rather, he continued his efforts as he was ordered by his spiritual master and in that practice he was observed by none other than Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Caitanya Mahaprabhu saw this fellow reading Bhagavad-gita and crying. And Caitanya Mahaprabhu approached him and asked him, "Why are you crying?" So he explained, "I am crying simply to think of this wonderful conversation between these two wonderful personalities Arjuna and Krsna. Just see how kind the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krsna is that He has appeared in this humble position as charioteer for Arjuna. Although He is God, He is appearing as a lowly charioteer." Charioteer is not very high position in society. It is something like taxi-driver. We have some taxi-drivers here? Nothing against taxi-drivers, but it is not considered the most glorious profession. Krsna was accepting that position in order to speak the Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna, to speak it to all of us. So what did Lord Caitanya respond? He said, "O my dear sir, you are so fortunate. Whatever others may think, they cannot understand the elevated position of this devotee. Such devotee is actually understanding the purport of Bhagavad-gita." Now, when Lord Caitanya said this, He did not tell him, "OK, now you

don't have to read anymore." So it's not that we can say, "OK, I get it. We just have to appreciate like this devotee did. So I understand: Yes it is very nice, Krsna spoke to Arjuna. So I don't have to read it anymore because I got the purport. Lord Caitanya says this is the purport; I got the purport. Thank you very much." But, rather we should appreciate that this is the starting point for genuine appreciation of the words of Krsna. [to be cont'd] Subject: just like Arjuna today -----------------------------------------------------------SKKP: Bg. 17.15 "How to Read Bhagavad-gita," Warsaw, Poland, July 19, 1998 We can also think of Arjuna, of how he is hearing Bhagavad-gita from Krsna. Arjuna was not sitting comfortably in a temple room or in an apartment, at home. He was in the middle of a battlefield. The situation was serious. They were surrounded by warriors and those warriors were eager for a big fight. Arjuna was in great distress. He was in so much distress that he even drop his bow, the Gandiva bow. Arjun does not drop his bow unless he is very distressed. Not only that, but he was just overcome with anxiety. So, considering Arjuna and his situation, we can then consider our situation. We might not be in such a difficult situation as Arjuna, but we are also in sometimes awkward positions or confusing positions. We might be in fearful condition or depressed condition. So at those times... Sometimes at such times we may think, "Oh, don't tell me about Bhagavad-gita. Don't tell me all these things. My problem is different." But actually, we should appreciate that Arjuna's reception of Bhagavad-gita is a model for our reception of Bhagavad-gita. Now, we may think, "All right, but Arjuna heard Bhagavad-gita all within one hour and it was all over. So I will hear, I will read Bhagavad-gita once through; it might take me a little longer than one hour and then I've got it. Just as Arjuna got it and he said, `OK, I get it,' so I got it and I get it." [laughter] So then we shouldn't think that way because here Krsna says, abhyasanam, there should be practice; literary it means "repetition." [to be cont'd] Subject: bring Krsna into the discussion -----------------------------------------------------------SKKP: Bg. 17.15 "How to Read Bhagavad-gita," Warsaw, Poland, July 19, 1998

OK, some just preliminary thoughts. Now I wanted to consider that there are different ways to read. Maybe two general categories we can consider: one is reading silentily, and another is reading aloud. Of course, originally Bhagavad-gita is spoken, so it is not reading, it is speaking. And Prabhupada explains, actually the best way to read Bhagavad-gita is not to read but to hear. So, hearing can go on in different ways. One is hearing a lecture, like we are having now. Preferably, in your own language so we don't have to always wait for the translation. (Sorry, one of these lifetimes we will learn Polish.) Another way to hear is to hear from one other person and then you can yourself become the source of the hearing for the other person. In other words, you can read Bhagavad-gita back and forth between two persons or three persons or four persons. Now, reading itself, or reading silently, is also a way of reading. But that silent reading is also not completely silent, otherwise what are we registering -- we hear something in our mind. Have you noticed that thinking also involves some kind of speaking? There is some little voice inside the head, right? And there is some discussion going on all the time, right? Sometimes too much discussion going on... Sometimes discussion is going all over the three worlds. But, hearing Bhagavad-gita by reading, what are we doing? We are bringing in to the discussion, which is going on in the head, we are bringing Krsna into the discussion. Sometimes we may be trying to make a decision about something in our lives. Actually, we are always, constantly we are making decisions. Sometimes little decisions like, "OK, today is Ekadasi, so today I am going to avoid eating grains." Sometimes bigger decisions like say, you are a householder and you are making business, maybe you are making some decision which will make or break your business. Or maybe you are preaching (either you are householder or other than householder), you are making decision, "Shall we make this arrangement or that arrangement for preaching..." So, there will be a little discussion going on in the head. One guy inside says, "Shall we do this?" The other guy says, "Yeah!" or "No, forget it." Or, "Well, I don't know. First we should find out about this or that." Gathering more information. And, there might be others involved in the conversation; other devotees as well. So, within that conversation, there should also be some place for Krsna because after all, Krsna is telling us in the Bhagavad-gita that He is the supreme knower, the supreme guide, He is our best friend. So He might be able to help sort out whatever questions we are dealing with and decisions we have to make. He is also known as the supreme guru, supreme spiritual master. Just as we approach guru to help us clearify our position and our direction in life, so also we approach Krsna. [to be cont'd]

Subject: How to read BG -----------------------------------------------------------SKKP: Bg. 17.15 "How to Read BG," Warsaw, Poland, July 19, 1998 OK, now I was thinking also about this point abhyasanam, or practice and repetition, how we can apply that practically. Well, it occured to me that we have in the Bhagavad-gita 18 chapters. Of course, one can read the Bhagavad-gita from beginning to end -- that's one way to read it -- and then you can go back to the beginning and go to the end again. But another way is to consider each of these 18 chapters as sort of idividual revelations from Krsna. The basic theme is, Krsna is speaking about devotional service to His devotee Arjuna and He is getting at the subject from all different angles. So each chapter is like a little capsule of how to think... a different way, a different aspect of how to think about or understand devotional service. They are different portions of a meal. So like Chapter One is the appetizer. And then Chapter Two is the soup. [laughs] Actually, yes, because Bhaktivinoda Thakura says it's a summary of the whole Bhagavad-gita, so we get... yeah, it's like a soup. And so on, the different... Then comes the salad. And eventually we come to the middle of the Gita, the main portions -- we get the cheese subji. Which chapter is the cheese subji? Ah? Ninth Chapter, that's what I was thinking. And which one is the... Anyway, this is a joke. But the point is that all of these are different types of tastes, they are different ways of understanding devotional service. And just like with the meal you don't just take one bite of, say, cheese subji, you take several bites. But one nice thing about this meal called the Bhagavad-gita is, when you've eaten a full meal, then you can go back take some more. So, what I am getting at is, I want to suggest: You can take one chapter and you can go through that chapter more than once. And one way to do this is, you can sit down and you can decide, "OK, I am going to read 17 today." And a nice way to start is to go through the whole chapter just reading the Sanskrit. It's not so difficult. The transliterations are there Srila Prabhupada has given. And Sanskrit is actually an amazingly easy language to pronounce (not like Polish). So you can read through. Of course, some chapters are longer, but most of them are somewhere around 30 or 40 verses. And then, once you have read through all of the verses in Sanskrit, even you are not understanding what they say, then you go back and you read through the translations one after another. That just takes a few minutes. Then, you can go back again to verse number one and you can read the Sanskrit of verse number one and then the translation. And then verse two, verse three like that, you can again go through the whole chapter. One way of thinking of this process is like going swimming. Some people go to the side of the lake and they get their feet wet; or sometimes they get up to their knees wet and they kind of splach around the water a little bit and then they turn around and go back out again. And they say, "I went swimming." Some people, they go in, they get the feet wet, the get the knees wet, they get the hips wet, they get the neck wet up to here. Have you seen? Some people swim like that with the head above the water. And then those who are more expert, they can do... in English they called it a crawl-stroke. So

they swim very nicely along the surface and they can swim long distance like that. And, then there are some people, they go diving. They get snorkel, they get air-tanks and they go deep down inside. So, something like that we can also appreciate... on all these different levels we can appreciate Bhagavad-gita and Vedic literature in general. But, what I am suggesting is, by this repetition -- sort of increasing what we are doing each time -- we can maybe deepen our swimming, we can make our swimming more like swimming. So, after going through the chapter that way, then you can go back to verse number one again and read the Sanskrit verse, then the word-for-word if you like or not, then the translation, and then the purport. Now, I am not going to say: And, then in this way at one sitting, you read through all the verses and purports of the chapter. Because you are going to say, "Hey, I don't have time. You know, there is other things going on in life." And this we acknowledge. But what we can do is read two or three or four or five purports depending on length and how much time we have. And then we can mark the place and next day we can go back again and we can read once again all of the verses in Sanskrit of that chapter and then all the verses in translation and maybe again also the verses and the translation. And then we can go back to where we stopped with the purports and continue from there. In this way it might take a few days to go through a chapter [break] ... So we could propably do it in four days... Then you have a pretty good idea of what Krsna is saying in that chapter! And in that way you may find that indeed, Krsna starts joining in the conversation. And you may find, "Hey, that was a pretty good point You made Krsna! Why didn't I think of that?" Well, because we are not Krsna. So therefore Krsna comes to make His point and He comes in the form of Bhagavad-gita. And He comes for this purpose. Not for some academic purpose just to be able to tell ourselves, "Oh yes, I know Bhagavad-gita." [break] [to be cont'd] Subject: culture of speech is based on austerity -----------------------------------------------------------SKKP: Bg. 17.15 "How to Read BG," Warsaw, Poland, July 19, 1998 [break]... to get through the innumerable decisions that we have to make in the course of our lives. To help us make decisions, which are favorable to His conclusion in Bhagavad-gita, which is that we should take shelter of Him. All of this invloves svadhyayabhyasanam, the practice of study of Bhagavad-gita. And all of this is part of austerity of speech. There are other aspects of austerity of speech, which involve also our behavior in relation to others. And all of this, then, is part of the whole theme of Vedic culture. How we relate to others is mainly through speech. Fortunately that's the case. Fortunately, we do not relate to each other mainly through physical force. Like small children whose power of speech or power of articulating of their feelings and ideas is very limited; they tend to express themselves by pushing each other, beating each other or just

yelling at each other. I am not saying that small children can't also be nice also to each other, they can also be nice. But the ways in which they can relate to each other is very limited because their speech is very limited. But how adults can relate to each other is very multifacited because of our capacity for articulation. And unfortunately, what most people don't realize is that there is a culture of speech and that that is based on austerity, and that austerity is in the mode of goodness. And the practice of this austerity facilitates other kinds of austerity especially the austerity of the body and austerity of the mind. Now, I know this is all getting a little abstract, so I will hold off. But I just wanted to say that this is actually human culture. And this human culture is very nice thing and we can learn how to apply it when we hear from the Supreme Lord how to do it. And, what happens when everything works -- when we kind of get Krsna's message how to perform devotional service -- then what happens is, there will be a natural inclination of everyone involved to glorify Krsna. And then that becomes the perfection of the use of speech. We know from an earliear chapter of Bhagavad-gita that the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra or japa, actually, in general, it is a sacrifice, yajna. But this sacrifice, in fact, loses its characteristic of being a problem or being difficult or being austere when we have imbibed the instructions of Krsna. [to be cont'd] Subject: our aim in life -----------------------------------------------------------SKKP: Bg. 17.15 "How to Read BG," Warsaw, Poland, July 19, 1998 It's just like when you shoot an arrow: when the arrow is released it flies, nothing is holding it back, it flies to its target. This example is given in the Upanisads and also in Srimad-Bhagavatam that pranava (either omkara or Prabhupada says, the Hare Krsna mantra), is compared to an archer's bow. And we ourselves, jiva, are compared to the arrow, and Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is compared to the target the archer is shooting. Now, if we think about this little analogy, then how does it work, how does an archer shoot an arrow? He doesn't just look at the bow it's lying there and look at the arrow. He picks up the bow, he strings the bow, he takes the arrow, he lines up the arrow on the bow; then he aims the arrow, at the same time he is stretching the string. So a real bow is very strong, it's very difficult to stretch that string. Just to put the string on is not easy. We know, Lord Ramacandra was challenged to first of all lift and then to string the bow of Lord Siva. And all of the those who have attempted to do so before Ramacandra, instead of the bow being lifted and bent, they themselves were lifted off the ground and crushed, they were thrown in all directions -- it was not

possible. But Ramacandra picked it up effortlessly. Not only that, He stretched and strung the bow. And in this way He was awarded the hand of Sita-devi. The point is, we have to make some effort with this bow of the Hare Krsna mantra. And I would suggest, part of that effort is that we go on hearing from Krsna. And then we have to aim the arrow. Prabhupada's first question to anyone not knowing about Krsna consciousness was, "What is your aim in life?" "Aim in life? What is that?" But devotees have an aim in life and that is to aim back home, back to Godhead. So to understand that aim, to be reminded of that aim, we have again and again to read, to hear. And then we have to release the arrow. Hare Krsna Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare... So all of this can come about following Krsna's instructions in Gita. [to be cont'd] Subject: -----------------------------------------------------------SKKP: Bg. 17.15 "How to Read Bhagavad-gita," Warsaw, Poland, July 15, 1998 Dharana-mayi dd: I noticed that some chapters I have read several times, but some I've read only once or twice. ... [indistinct -- Dharana-mayi, what was your whole question?] SKKP: There is nothing wrong with having favorite chapters. There is nothing wrong with having favorite verses. There is nothing wrong with having favorite purports. There is this nice book from Satsvarupa dasa Goswami. What is it called? Reading the Scriptures... Something about reading scripture... I forget. He wrote many years ago. Living with the Scriptures, something like this. Anyway, he takes a few select verses that he likes and he talks about them. So I thought that's nice. No hard and fast rules. But, one way you might consider studying other chapters that you read less, is to think of them in relation to some chapter that you do like a lot. So you can... In a sense, what you do then is you are expanding your favorite chapter. Let's say your favorite chapter is Chapter Nine. And then you read in, let say, Chapter Eleven Krsna is saying, "I am time, kalo 'smi loka-ksaya-krt pravrddhah, the destroyer of the world." And you can relate that to how Krsna describes Himself in the Ninth Chapter in similar terms. He talks about how He is the supreme controller of the universe. Or, you can think back to the Eight Chapter where Krsna is talking about the repeated creation and destruction of the universe. Like taking a meal. The cheese subji is nice and you can also take it with a little soup. [to be cont'd] The end of my question is: Is it good to read one or two chapters more often

then others, or is it better to read the whole BG from cover to cover and then again from cover to cover and so on... Subject: more on culture of speech -----------------------------------------------------------SKKP: Bg. 17.15 "How to Read Bhagavad-gita," Warsaw, Poland, July 19, 1998 Divyambara dd: Can we say that studying Vedic literature will help us pracite the other kinds of austerity of speech, such as speaking truthful and pleasing words, which are not agitating to others, etc.? SKKP: Why not? Yes, as Prabhupada explains (I think it's in this purport), he says, "There is a limitless stock of Vedic literature, one should study this." So that stock of Vedic literature, it is elevating to the consciousness and it is giving us culture and perspective how to relate with others nicely. The other aspects of austerity of speech which are mentioned here, one is to be not agitating in one's words. Anudvega-karam vakyam. Vega means "pushing," and udvega means like "arousing, disturbing, agitating." So the oposite of agitating people with one's speech is to speak pleasingly and that is mentioned here -- priya-hitam, for the benefit of others. And that will come when one actually has the desire in the heart to be beneficial to others. And that will come when one remembers, "I am eternal servant of Krsna, this person is eternal servant of Krsna. There is no question of competing for position." So then one can naturally speak beneficially for others. And what one speaks? One can perhaps be remembering some incidents, some pastimes, some instruction from Vedic literature. This is what's happening in the spiritual world -- everyone is remembering Krsna, remembering Krsna's words; and they are repeating those words or sometimes in their own words. And that becomes poetry. It is said that every word in the spiritual world is poetry. In this world, every word is a word or every word is a curse or every word is a dirty word. Some people, they only know how to speak nasty, we say in English "four-letter words." Sometimes, if one is in the wrong place, you will hear people speaking every second or third word is some nasty word. Because they also cannot articulate any refined consciousness, so they have to grunt this disgusting language. But, we can benefit by hearing and then speaking, and this actually becomes the spiritual world and that consciousness is there. Subject: agitation in the mind -----------------------------------------------------------SKKP: Bg. 17.15 "How to Read Bhagavad-gita," Warsaw, Poland, July 19, 1998 Indian guest: When some agitation comes in your mind, unpleasant thoughts are coming, how to immediately check it?

SKKP: [answer missing on the TM tape] Guru Maharaja spoke about gravity of thought; being grave in mind -keeping and not losing touch with the perspective, the aim of life. Does anybody have a recording of this last question? I would be very grateful to get it.