Description of Autumn
The killing of Pralambāsura and the devouring of the devastating forest fire by Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma became household topics in Vṛndāvana. The cowherd men described these wonderful activities to their wives and to everyone else, and all were struck with wonder. They concluded that Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma were demigods who had kindly come to Vṛndāvana to become their children. In this way, the rainy season ensued. In India, after the scorching heat of the summer, the rainy season is very welcome. The clouds accumulating in the sky, covering the sun and the moon, become very pleasing to the people, and they expect rainfall at every moment. After summer, the advent of the rainy season is considered to be a life-giving source for everyone. The thunder and occasional lightning are also pleasurable to the people.
The symptoms of the rainy season may be compared to the symptoms of the living entities who are covered by the three modes of material nature. The unlimited sky is like the Supreme Brahman, and the tiny living entities are like the covered sky, or Brahman covered by the three modes of material nature. Originally, everyone is part and parcel of Brahman. The Supreme Brahman, or the unlimited sky, can never be covered by a cloud, but a portion of it can be covered. As stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, the living entities are part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But they are only an insignificant portion of the Supreme Lord. This portion is covered by the modes of material nature, and therefore the living entities are residing within this material world. The brahma-jyotir – spiritual effulgence – is just like the sunshine; as the sunshine is full of molecular shining particles, so the brahma-jyotir is full of minute portions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Out of that unlimited expansion of minute portions of the Supreme Lord, some are covered by the influence of material nature, whereas others are free.
Clouds are accumulated water drawn from the land by the sunshine. Continually for eight months the sun evaporates all kinds of water from the surface of the globe, and this water is accumulated in the shape of clouds, which are distributed as water when there is need. Similarly, a government exacts various taxes from the citizens, such as income tax and sales tax, which the citizens are able to pay by their different material activities: agriculture, trade, industry and so on. This taxation is compared to the sun’s drawing water from the earth. When there is again need of water on the surface of the globe, the same sunshine converts the water into clouds and distributes it all over the globe. Similarly, the taxes collected by the government must be distributed to the people again, as educational work, public work, sanitation work, etc. This is very essential for a good government. The government should not simply exact taxes for useless squandering; the tax collection should be utilized for the public welfare of the state.
During the rainy season, there are strong winds blustering all over the country and carrying clouds from one place to another to distribute life-giving water to the needy living entities. Water is urgently needed after the summer season, and thus the clouds are just like a rich man who, in times of need, distributes his money even to the point of exhausting his whole treasury. So the clouds exhaust themselves by distributing water all over the surface of the globe.
When Mahārāja Daśaratha, the father of Lord Rāmacandra, used to fight with his enemies, it was said that he approached them just like a farmer uprooting unnecessary plants and trees. And when there was need of giving charity, he used to distribute money exactly as the cloud distributes rain. The distribution of rain by clouds is so sumptuous that it is compared to the distribution of wealth by a great, munificent person. The clouds’ downpour is so profuse that the rains even fall on rocks and hills and on the oceans and seas, where there is no need for water. The clouds resemble a charitable person who opens his treasury for distribution and who does not discriminate whether the charity is needed or not. He gives in charity openhandedly.
Before the rainfall, the whole surface of the globe becomes almost depleted of all kinds of energies and appears very lean. After the rainfall, the whole surface of the earth becomes green with vegetation and appears to be very healthy and strong. Here, a comparison is made to the person undergoing austerities for fulfillment of a material desire. The flourishing condition of the earth after the rainy season is compared to the fulfillment of material desires. Sometimes, when a country is subjugated by an undesirable government, persons and parties undergo severe penances and austerities to get control of the government, and when they attain control, they flourish by giving themselves generous salaries. This temporary profit is like the flourishing of the earth in the rainy season. Actually, one should undergo severe austerities and penances only to achieve spiritual happiness. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is recommended that tapasya, or austerity, should be accepted for realizing the Supreme Lord. By accepting austerity in devotional service, one regains his spiritual life, and as soon as one regains his spiritual life, he enjoys unlimited spiritual bliss. But if someone undertakes austerities and penances for some material gain, it is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā that the results are temporary and that they are desired by persons of less intelligence.
During the rainy season, in the evening, there are many glowworms visible about the tops of trees, hither and thither, and they glitter just like lights. But the luminaries of the sky – the stars and the moon – are not visible. Similarly, in the Age of Kali, persons who are atheists or miscreants become very prominently visible, whereas persons who are actually following the Vedic principles for spiritual emancipation are practically obscured. This age, Kali-yuga, is compared to the cloudy season of the living entities. In this age, real knowledge is covered by the influence of the material advancement of civilization. The cheap mental speculators, atheists and manufacturers of so-called religious principles become prominent like the glowworms, whereas persons strictly following the Vedic principles or scriptural injunctions become covered by the clouds of this age. People should learn to take advantage of the actual luminaries of the sky – the sun, moon and stars – instead of the glowworms’ light. Actually, the glowworms cannot give any light in the darkness of night. As clouds sometimes clear, even in the rainy season, and sometimes the moon, stars and sun become visible, so even in this Kali-yuga there are sometimes advantages. For example, sometimes Lord Caitanya’s Vedic movement of distributing the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is heard. People seriously eager to find real light should take advantage of this movement instead of looking toward the light of mental speculators and atheists.
After the first rainfall, when there is a thundering sound in the clouds, all the frogs begin to croak, like students suddenly engaged in reading their studies. Students are generally supposed to rise early in the morning. They do not usually arise of their own accord, however, but only when there is a bell sounded in the temple or other spiritual institution. By the order of the spiritual master they immediately rise, and after finishing their morning duties they sit down to study the Vedas or chant Vedic mantras. Everyone is sleeping in the darkness of Kali-yuga, but when there is a great ācārya, by his calling only, everyone takes to the study of the Vedas to acquire actual knowledge.
During the rainy season, many small ponds, lakes and rivulets become filled with water; otherwise, the rest of the year they remain dry. Similarly, materialistic persons are dry, but sometimes, when they are in a so-called opulent position, with a home or children or a little bank balance, they appear to be flourishing, but immediately afterwards they become dry again, like the small rivulets and ponds. The poet Vidyāpati said that in the society of friends, family, children, wife, etc., there is certainly some pleasure, but that pleasure is compared to a drop of water in the desert. Everyone is hankering after happiness, just as in the desert everyone is hankering after water. If in the desert there is a drop of water, it may of course be said that water is there, but the benefit from that drop of water is very insignificant. In our materialistic way of life, which is just like a desert, we are hankering after an ocean of happiness, but in the form of society, friends and mundane love we are getting no more than a drop of water. Our satisfaction is never achieved, as the small rivulets, lakes and ponds are never filled with water in the dry season.
Due to rainfall, the grass, trees and other vegetation look very green. Sometimes the grass is covered by a certain kind of red insect, and when the green and red combine with the umbrellalike mushrooms, the entire scene changes, just like a person who has suddenly become rich. The farmer then becomes very happy to see his field full of grain, but the capitalists – who are always unaware of the activities of a supernatural power – become unhappy because they are afraid of a competitive price due to abundant production. In some places certain capitalists in government restrict the farmers’ production of grain, not knowing the actual fact that all food grains are supplied by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. According to the Vedic injunction, eko bahūnāṁ yo vidadhāti kāmān: the Supreme Personality of Godhead maintains this creation; therefore, He arranges for a supply of whatever is required for all living entities. When there is a population increase, it is the business of the Supreme Lord to feed the people. But atheists or miscreants do not like abundant production of food grains, especially if their business might be hampered.
During the rainy season, all living entities in the land, sky and water become very much refreshed, exactly like one who engages in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. We have practical experience of this with our students in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Before becoming students, they were dirty-looking, although they had naturally beautiful personal features; due to having no information of Kṛṣṇa consciousness they appeared very dirty and wretched. Since they have taken to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, their health has improved, and by their following the rules and regulations, their bodily luster has increased. When they are dressed with saffron-colored cloth, with tilaka on their foreheads and beads in their hands and on their necks, they look exactly as if they have come directly from Vaikuṇṭha.
In the rainy season, when the rivers swell and rush to the oceans and seas, they appear to agitate the ocean. Similarly, if a person who is engaged in the mystic yoga process is not very much advanced in spiritual life, he can become agitated by the sex impulse. Although during the rainy season the high mountains are splashed by torrents of rain, they do not change; similarly, a person who is advanced in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, even if put into difficulties, is not embarrassed. A person who is spiritually advanced accepts any adverse condition of life as the mercy of the Lord, and thus he is completely eligible to enter into the spiritual kingdom.
In the rainy season some of the roads are not frequently used, and they become covered with long grasses. These roads are exactly like a brāhmaṇa who is not accustomed to studying and practicing the reformatory methods of the Vedic injunctions – he becomes covered with the long grasses of māyā. In that condition, forgetful of his constitutional nature, he forgets his position of eternal servitorship to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By being deviated by the seasonal overgrowth of long grasses created by māyā, a person identifies himself with the māyic production and succumbs to illusion, forgetting his spiritual life.
During the rainy season, lightning appears in one group of clouds and then immediately in another group of clouds. This phenomenon is compared to a lusty woman who does not fix her mind on one man. A cloud is compared to a qualified person because it pours rain and gives sustenance to many people; a man who is qualified similarly gives sustenance to many living creatures, such as family members or many workers in a business. Unfortunately, his whole life can be disturbed by a wife who divorces him; when the husband is disturbed, the whole family is ruined, the children are dispersed or the business is closed, and everything is affected. It is therefore recommended that a woman desiring to advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness live peacefully with a husband and that the couple not separate under any condition. The husband and wife should control sex indulgence and concentrate their minds on Kṛṣṇa consciousness so their life may be successful. After all, in the material world a man requires a woman and a woman requires a man. When they are combined, they should live peacefully in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and should not be restless like the lightning, flashing from one group of clouds to another.
Sometimes, in addition to the roaring thunder of the clouds, there is an appearance of a rainbow, which stands as a bow without a string. Actually, a bow is in the curved position because it is tied at its two ends by the bowstring; but in the rainbow there is no such string, and yet it rests in the sky so beautifully. Similarly, when the Supreme Personality of Godhead descends to this material world, He appears just like an ordinary human being, but He is not resting on any material condition. In the Bhagavad-gītā, the Lord says that He appears by His internal potency, which is free from the bondage of the external potency. What is bondage for the ordinary creature is freedom for the Personality of Godhead. In the rainy season, the moonlight is covered by clouds but is visible at intervals. It sometimes appears that the moon is moving with the movement of the clouds, but actually the moon is still; due to the clouds it also appears to move. Similarly, for one who has identified himself with the moving material world, his actual spiritual luster is covered by illusion, and with the movement of material activities he thinks that he is moving through different spheres of life. This is due to false ego, which is the demarcation between spiritual and material existence, just as the moving cloud is the demarcation between moonlight and darkness. In the rainy season, when the clouds appear for the first time, the peacocks dance with joy upon seeing them. The peacocks can be compared to persons who are very much harassed in the materialistic way of life. If they can find the association of a person engaged in the loving devotional service of the Lord, they become enlightened and dance just like peacocks. We have practical experience of this: many of our students were dry and morose previous to their coming to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, but having come into contact with devotees, they are now dancing like jubilant peacocks.
Plants and creepers grow by drinking water from the ground. Similarly, a person practicing austerities becomes dry, but after the austere performances are completed and he gets the result, he begins to enjoy life in sense gratification with family, society, love, home and other paraphernalia. He becomes jolly, like newly grown plants and grass. Sometimes it is seen that cranes and ducks meander continually on the banks of the lakes and rivers, although the banks are filled with muddy garbage and thorny creepers. Similarly, persons who are householders without Kṛṣṇa consciousness are constantly tarrying in material life, in spite of all kinds of inconveniences. In family life, or any life, one cannot be perfectly happy without being Kṛṣṇa conscious. Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura prays that he will have the association of a person – either a householder or a man in the renounced order of life – who is engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord and is always crying the holy name of Lord Caitanya. For the materialistic person, worldly affairs become too aggressive, whereas to a person who is in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, everything appears to be happily situated.
The barriers around an agricultural field sometimes break due to heavy torrents of rain. Similarly, the unauthorized atheistic propaganda in the Age of Kali breaks the boundary of the Vedic injunctions. Thus people gradually degenerate to godlessness. In the rainy season, the clouds, tossed by the wind, deliver water which is welcomed like nectar. When the Vedic followers, the brāhmaṇas, inspire rich men like kings and members of the wealthy mercantile community to give charity in the performance of great sacrifices, the distribution of such wealth is also nectarean. The four sections of human society, namely the brāhmaṇas, the kṣatriyas, the vaiśyas and the śūdras, are meant to live peacefully in a cooperative mood; this is possible when they are guided by expert Vedic brāhmaṇas who perform sacrifices and distribute wealth equally.
Vṛndāvana forest improved from the rains and was replete with ripened dates, mangoes, blackberries and other fruits. Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, along with His boyfriends and Lord Balarāma, entered the forest to enjoy the new seasonal atmosphere. The cows, being fed by new grasses, became very healthy, and their milk bags were all very full. When Lord Kṛṣṇa called them by name, they immediately came to Him out of affection, and in their joyful condition the milk flowed from their bags. Lord Kṛṣṇa was very pleased when passing through the Vṛndāvana forest by the site of Govardhana Hill. On the bank of the Yamunā He saw all the trees decorated with beehives pouring honey. There were many waterfalls on Govardhana Hill, and their flowing made a nice sound. Kṛṣṇa heard them as He looked into the caves of the hill. When the rainy season was not ended completely but was gradually turning to autumn, sometimes, especially when there was rainfall within the forest, Kṛṣṇa and His companions would sit under a tree or within the caves of Govardhana Hill and enjoy eating the ripened fruits and talking with great pleasure. When Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma were in the forest, Mother Yaśodā used to send Them some fruits, sweetmeats and rice mixed with yogurt. Kṛṣṇa would take them, sit down on a slab of stone on the bank of the Yamunā, and call His friends to join Him. While Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma and Their friends were eating, they watched the cows, calves and bulls. The cows appeared to be a little tired from standing with their heavy milk bags. By sitting and chewing grass, they became happy, and Kṛṣṇa was pleased to see them. He was proud to see the beauty of the forest due to the rainy season, which was nothing but the manifestation of His own energy. At such times Kṛṣṇa would praise nature’s special activities during the rainy season. It is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā that the material energy, or nature, is not independent in its actions. Nature is acting under the superintendence of Kṛṣṇa. This is confirmed in the Brahma-saṁhitā, which states that material nature, known as Durgā, is acting as the shadow of Kṛṣṇa. Whatever order is sent from Kṛṣṇa, material nature obeys. Therefore the natural beauty created by the rainy season was acted out according to the indications of Kṛṣṇa, who thus felt very proud of material nature’s beautiful activities.
While Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma were enjoying the gifts of the rainy season in this way, the autumn season gradually arrived, when all the water reservoirs become very clean, and when pleasing and refreshing air blows everywhere. With the appearance of autumn, the sky was completely cleared of all clouds, and it recovered its natural blue color. The blooming lotus flowers in the clear water in the forest appeared like persons who have fallen down from yoga practice but have again become beautiful by resuming their spiritual life. Everything becomes naturally beautiful with the appearance of the autumn season. Similarly, when a materialistic person takes to Kṛṣṇa consciousness and spiritual life, he also becomes as clear as the sky and water in autumn.
The autumn season takes away the rolling of dark clouds in the sky as well as the polluted water. Filthy conditions on the ground also become cleansed. Similarly, a person who takes to Kṛṣṇa consciousness immediately becomes cleansed of all dirty things within and without. Kṛṣṇa is therefore known as Hari. Hari means “he who takes away.” Kṛṣṇa immediately takes away all unclean habits from anyone who takes to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The clouds of autumn are white, for they do not carry any water. Similarly, a retired man, being freed from all responsibility of family affairs (namely, maintaining the home, wife and children) and taking completely to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, becomes freed from all anxieties and looks as white as clouds in autumn. Sometimes in autumn the falls come down from the top of the hill to supply clean water, and sometimes they stop. Similarly, sometimes great saintly persons distribute clear knowledge, and sometimes they are silent. The small ponds, which were filled with water because of the rainy season, gradually dry up in autumn. As for the small aquatics living in the reservoirs, they cannot understand that their ponds are diminishing day by day, just as the materially engrossed persons cannot understand that their duration of life is being reduced day by day. Such persons are engaged in maintaining cows, property, children, wife, society and friendship. Due to the reduced water and scorching heat from the sun in the autumn season, the small creatures living in small reservoirs of water are very much disturbed; they are exactly like uncontrolled persons who are always unhappy from being unable to enjoy life or maintain their family members. The muddy earth gradually dries up, and newly grown fresh vegetation begins to wither. Similarly, for one who has taken to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, desire for family enjoyment gradually dries up.
Because of the appearance of the autumn season, the water of the ocean becomes calm and quiet, just as a person developed in self-realization becomes free from disturbance by the three modes of material nature. In autumn, farmers save the water within the fields by building strong walls so that the water contained within the field cannot run out. There is hardly any hope for new rainfall; therefore they want to save whatever is in the field. Similarly, a person who is actually advanced in self-realization protects his energy by controlling the senses. It is advised that after the age of fifty one should retire from family life and conserve the energy of the body for utilization in the advancement of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Unless one is able to control the senses and engage them in the transcendental loving service of Mukunda, there is no possibility of salvation.
During the daytime in autumn, the sun is very scorching, but at night, due to the clear moonshine, people get relief from the day’s fatigue. Similarly, a person who takes shelter of Mukunda, or Kṛṣṇa, can be saved from the fatigue of misidentifying the body with the self. Mukunda, or Kṛṣṇa, is also the source of solace for the damsels of Vṛndāvana. The damsels of Vrajabhūmi are always suffering because of separation from Kṛṣṇa, but when they meet Him during the moonlit autumn night, their fatigue of separation is relieved. When the sky is clear of all clouds, the stars at night shine very beautifully; similarly, when a person is actually situated in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he is cleared of all dirty things, and he becomes as beautiful as the stars in the autumn sky. Although the Vedas contain instructions for pursuing knowledge (jñāna), for practicing mystic yoga and for engaging in karmic activities in the form of sacrifices, the ultimate purpose of the Vedas is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā: one has to accept Kṛṣṇa consciousness after thoroughly studying the Vedas. Therefore the clean heart of a devotee in Kṛṣṇa consciousness can be compared to the clean sky of the autumn season. During autumn, the moon looks very bright along with the stars in the clear sky. Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself appeared in the sky of the Yadu dynasty, and He was exactly like the moon surrounded by the stars, or the members of the Yadu dynasty. When there are ample blooming flowers in the gardens in the forest, the fresh, aromatic breeze gives great relief to the persons who have suffered during the summer and rainy seasons. Unfortunately, such breezes could not give any relief to the gopīs because of their hearts’ dedication to Kṛṣṇa. People in general might have taken pleasure in that nice autumn breeze, but the gopīs, not being embraced by Kṛṣṇa, were not very much satisfied.
On the arrival of the autumn season, all the cows, deer, birds and females in general become pregnant, because in that season all the husbands generally become impelled by sex desire. Such pregnant females are exactly like the transcendentalists who, by the grace of the Supreme Lord, are bestowed with the benediction of their destinations in life. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has instructed in his Upadeśāmṛta that one should execute devotional service with great enthusiasm, patience and conviction and should follow the rules and regulations, keep oneself clean from material contamination and stay in the association of devotees. By following these six principles, one is sure to achieve the desired result of devotional service. For one who patiently follows the regulative principles of devotional service, the time will undoubtedly come when he will achieve the desired result, just as the females reap results by becoming pregnant.
During the autumn, the lotus flowers in the lakes grow in large numbers because of the absence of lilies; both the lilies and the lotus flowers grow by sunshine, but during the autumn season the scorching sunshine helps only the lotus. This example is compared to a country where the king or the government is strong: the unwanted elements like thieves and robbers cannot prosper. When the citizens become confident that they will not be attacked by robbers, they develop with great satisfaction. A strong government is compared to the scorching sunshine in the autumn season, the lilies are compared to unwanted persons like robbers, and the lotus flowers are compared to the satisfied citizens. During autumn, the fields become filled with ripened grain. At that time, the people become happy over the harvest and observe various ceremonies, such as Navānna, the offering of new grain to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The new grain is first offered to the Deities in various temples, and all are invited to take sweet rice made with this new grain. There are other religious ceremonies and methods of worship, particularly in Bengal, where the greatest of all such ceremonies is held, called Durgā-pūjā.
In Vṛndāvana the autumn season was very beautiful then because of the presence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma. The mercantile community, the royal order and great sages were free to move about in order to achieve their desired benedictions. Similarly, the transcendentalists, when freed from the encagement of the material body, also achieve their desired goal. During the rainy season, the mercantile community cannot move from one place to another and so do not get their desired profit. Nor can the royal order go from one place to another to collect taxes from the people. As for saintly persons, who must travel to preach transcendental knowledge, they also are restrained by the rainy season. But during the autumn, all of them leave their confines. In the case of the transcendentalist, be he a jñānī, a yogī or a devotee, because of the material body he cannot actually enjoy spiritual achievement. But as soon as he gives up the body, or after death, the jñānī merges into the spiritual effulgence of the Supreme Lord, the yogī transfers himself to the various higher planets, and the devotee goes to the planet of the Supreme Lord, Goloka Vṛndāvana or one of the Vaikuṇṭhas, and thus enjoys his eternal spiritual life.
Thus ends the Bhaktivedanta purport of the twentieth chapter of Kṛṣṇa, “Description of Autumn.”