Perception of the Supersoul
yoginaṁ sukham uttamam
“The yogi whose mind is fixed on Me verily attains the highest perfection of transcendental happiness. He is beyond the mode of passion, he realizes his qualitative identity with the Supreme, and thus he is freed from all reactions to past deeds.” (Bhagavad-gītā 6.27)
atyantaṁ sukham aśnute
“Thus the self-controlled yogi, constantly engaged in yoga practice, becomes free from all material contamination and achieves the highest stage of perfect happiness in transcendental loving service to the Lord.” (Bhagavad-gītā 6.28)
So here is the perfection: “The yogi whose mind is fixed on Me.” Since Kṛṣṇa is speaking, the “Me” refers to Kṛṣṇa. If I am speaking and saying, “Give me a glass of water,” I do not intend that the water be supplied to someone else. We must therefore clearly understand that, since Bhagavad-gītā is being spoken by Śrī Kṛṣṇa, when He says “unto Me,” He means unto Kṛṣṇa. Unfortunately, there are many commentators who deviate from these clear instructions. I do not know why; their motives are no doubt nefarious.
“A true yogi observes Me in all beings and also sees every being in Me. Indeed, the self-realized man sees Me, the same Supreme Lord, everywhere.” (Bhagavad-gītā 6.29) Sarva-bhūta-stham ātmānam: “A true yogi observes Me in all beings.” How is this possible? Some people say that all beings are Kṛṣṇa and that therefore there is no point in worshiping Kṛṣṇa separately. Consequently, such people take to humanitarian activities, claiming that such work is better. They say, “Why should Kṛṣṇa be worshiped? Kṛṣṇa says that one should see Kṛṣṇa in every being. Therefore let us serve daridra-nārāyaṇa, the man in the street.” Such misinterpreters do not know the proper techniques, which have to be learned under a bona fide spiritual master.
A true yogi, as explained before, is the devotee of Kṛṣṇa, and the most advanced devotee goes forth to preach Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Why? Because he sees Kṛṣṇa in all beings. How is this? Because he sees that all beings are part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa. He also understands that since these beings have forgotten Kṛṣṇa, it is his duty to awaken them to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Sometimes missionaries go forth to educate primitive, uneducated people just because they see that they are human beings and so deserve to be educated in order to understand the value of life. This is due to the missionary’s sympathy. The devotee is similarly motivated. He understands that everyone should know himself to be part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa. The devotee understands that people are suffering due to their forgetfulness of Kṛṣṇa.
Thus the devotee sees Kṛṣṇa in everything. He is not under the illusion that everything has become Kṛṣṇa. Rather, he sees every living being as the son of God. If I say that this boy is the son of Mr. Johnson, do I mean that this boy is Mr. Johnson himself? I may see Mr. Johnson in this boy because this boy is his son, but the distinction remains. If I see every living being as the son of Kṛṣṇa, I see Kṛṣṇa in every being. This should not be difficult to understand. It is neither an association nor a vision but a fact.
When a devotee sees a cat or a dog, he sees Kṛṣṇa in him. He knows that a cat, for instance, is a living being, and that due to his past deeds he has received the body of a cat. This is due to his forgetfulness. The devotee helps the cat by giving it some kṛṣṇa-prasāda so that someday the cat will come to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This is seeing Kṛṣṇa in the cat. The devotee does not think, “Oh, here is Kṛṣṇa. Let me embrace this cat and serve this cat as God.” Such thinking is nonsensical. If one sees a tiger, he does not say, “Oh, here is Kṛṣṇa. Come on, please eat me.” The devotee does not embrace all beings as Kṛṣṇa but rather sympathizes with every living being because he sees all beings as part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa. In this way, “the true yogi observes Me in all beings.” This is real vision.
Whatever is done in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, knowingly or unknowingly, will have its effect. Children who bow down or try to vibrate Kṛṣṇa’s names or clap during kīrtana are actually accumulating so much in their bank account of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Fire will act, whether one is a child or an adult. If a child touches fire, the fire will burn. The fire does not say, “Oh, I will not burn him. He is a child and does not know.” No, the fire will always act as fire. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa is the supreme spirit, and if a child partakes in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he will be affected. Kṛṣṇa will act, whether the child knows or does not know. Every living being should be given a chance to partake of Kṛṣṇa consciousness because Kṛṣṇa is there and will act. Therefore everyone is being invited to come and take prasāda, because this prasāda will someday take effect.
We should be careful not to make the mistake of thinking that everyone is Kṛṣṇa; rather, we should see Kṛṣṇa in everyone. Kṛṣṇa is all-pervading. Why is He to be seen only in human beings? As stated in the Brahma-saṁhitā, He is also present within the atom: aṇḍāntara-stha-paramāṇu-cayāntara-stham. The word paramāṇu means “atom,” and we should understand that Kṛṣṇa is present within every atom. “A true yogi observes Me in all beings and also sees every being in Me.” How does the yogi see every being “in Me”? This is possible because the true yogi knows that everything that we see is Kṛṣṇa. We are sitting on this floor or on this carpet, but in actuality we are sitting on Kṛṣṇa. We should know this to be a fact. How is this carpet Kṛṣṇa? It is Kṛṣṇa because it is made of Kṛṣṇa’s energy. The Supreme Lord has various energies, of which there are three primary divisions – material energy, spiritual energy, and marginal energy. Parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate. We living entities are marginal energy, the material world is material energy, and the spiritual world is spiritual energy. We are marginal energy in the sense that we can be either spiritually or materially situated. There is no third alternative; either we become materialistic or spiritualistic.
As long as we are in the material world, we are seated on the material energy, and therefore we are situated in Kṛṣṇa, because Kṛṣṇa’s energy is not separate from Kṛṣṇa. A flame contains both heat and illumination, two energies. Neither the heat nor the illumination are separate from the flame; therefore in one sense heat is fire, and illumination is fire, but they can be distinguished. Similarly, this material energy is also Kṛṣṇa, and although we are thinking that we are sitting on this floor, we are actually sitting on Kṛṣṇa. Therefore it is stated, “The self-realized man sees Me everywhere.” Seeing Kṛṣṇa everywhere means seeing every living being as well as everything else in relationship to Kṛṣṇa. In the seventh chapter of Bhagavad-gītā (7.8), Lord Kṛṣṇa tells Arjuna how He can be seen in various manifestations.
śabdaḥ khe pauruṣaṁ nṛṣu
“O son of Kuntī [Arjuna], I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable oṁ in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.”
Water is drunk by all living entities, and is needed by birds, beasts, and man. It is not only used for drinking, but for washing and for cultivating plants as well. A soldier on the battlefield can understand how important water is. When fighting, soldiers become thirsty, and if they have no water, they die. Once a person has learned the philosophy of the Bhagavad-gītā, whenever he drinks water, he sees Kṛṣṇa. And when does a day pass when we do not drink water? This is the way of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. “I am the light of the sun and the moon.” So whether in the day or the night, we see either sunshine or moonshine. How, then, can we forget Kṛṣṇa? This, then, is the way of perfect yoga. We have to see Kṛṣṇa everywhere and at all times.
sarvaṁ ca mayi paśyati
tasyāhaṁ na praṇaśyāmi
sa ca me na praṇaśyati
“For one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me.” (Bhagavad-gītā 6.30) This is sadā tad-bhāva-bhāvitaḥ: always remembering Kṛṣṇa. If we practice living in this way, we never lose Kṛṣṇa and are never lost to Kṛṣṇa, and at the time of death we are therefore sure to go to Kṛṣṇa. If we are not lost to Kṛṣṇa, where can we go but to Kṛṣṇa? In the ninth chapter, Kṛṣṇa tells Arjuna, kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati: “O son of Kuntī, declare it boldly that My devotee never perishes.” (Bhagavad-gītā 9.31)
Simply don’t lose sight of Kṛṣṇa. That is the perfection of life. We can forget everything else, but we should never forget Kṛṣṇa. If we can remember Kṛṣṇa, we are the richest of men, even though people may see us as very poor. Although Rūpa Gosvāmī and Sanātana Gosvāmī were learned scholars and very opulent ministers, they adopted the poor life of mendicants. In his Śrī Ṣaḍ-gosvāmy-aṣṭaka (verse 4), Śrīnivāsa Ācārya thus describes the Six Gosvāmīs:
bhūtvā dīna-gaṇeśakau karuṇayā kaupīna-kanthāśritau
vande rūpa-sanātanau raghu-yugau śrī-jīva-gopālakau
“I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Six Gosvāmīs – Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī, Śrī Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, Śrī Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī, and Śrī Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī – who cast off all aristocratic association as insignificant. To deliver poor, conditioned souls, they accepted loincloths and became mendicants, but they were always merged in the ecstatic ocean of the gopīs’ love for Kṛṣṇa, and they were always bathing repeatedly in the waves of that ocean.”
The words kaupīna-kanthāśritau indicate that the Gosvāmīs were simply wearing underwear and a loincloth and nothing else. In other words, they accepted the poorest way of life as mendicants. Generally, if one is habituated to living according to a high standard, he cannot immediately lower his standard. If a rich man accepts such a poor condition, he cannot live, but the Gosvāmīs lived very happily. How was this possible? Gopī-bhāva-rasāmṛtābdhi-laharī-kallola-magnau muhur/ vande rūpa-sanātanau raghu-yugau śrī-jīva-gopālakau. They were actually rich because they were constantly dipping themselves in the ocean of the loving affairs of the gopīs. If one simply thinks of the gopīs’ love for Kṛṣṇa, one is not lost. There are many ways not to lose sight of Kṛṣṇa. If we do not lose sight of Kṛṣṇa, then we will not be lost.
A person in Kṛṣṇa consciousness certainly sees Lord Kṛṣṇa everywhere, and he sees everything in Kṛṣṇa. Such a person may appear to see all separate manifestations of the material nature, but in each and every instance he is conscious of Kṛṣṇa, knowing that everything is the manifestation of Kṛṣṇa’s energy. Nothing can exist without Kṛṣṇa, and Kṛṣṇa is the Lord of everything – this is the basic principle of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. How does the devotee know that everything is the manifestation of Kṛṣṇa’s energy? First of all, a Kṛṣṇa conscious person is a philosopher. If he sees a tree, he thinks, “What is this tree?” He then sees that the tree has a material body – just as he has a material body – and that the tree is also a living entity, but due to the tree’s past misdeeds, he has obtained such an abominable body that he cannot even move. The tree’s body is material, material energy, and the devotee automatically questions, “Whose energy? Kṛṣṇa’s energy. Therefore the tree is connected to Kṛṣṇa. Being a living entity, the tree is part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa.” In this way, the Kṛṣṇa conscious person does not see the tree, but sees Kṛṣṇa present. That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness: you don’t see the tree. You see Kṛṣṇa. That is the perfection of yoga, and that is also samādhi.
Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the development of love of Kṛṣṇa – a position transcendental even to material liberation. Why does the Kṛṣṇa conscious person take such an account of the tree? Because he has love for Kṛṣṇa. If you love your child and your child is away, you think of him when you see his shoe. You think, “Oh, this is my dear child’s shoe.” It is not that you love the shoe, but the child. The shoe, however, evokes that love. Similarly, as soon as we see Kṛṣṇa’s energy manifested in a living entity, we love that entity because we love Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, if we love Kṛṣṇa, universal love is accounted for. Otherwise “universal love” is nonsensical, because it is not possible to love everybody without loving Kṛṣṇa. If we love Kṛṣṇa, universal love is automatically there. Without being Kṛṣṇa conscious, a person may say, “Here is my American brother, and here is my Indian brother. Now let us eat this cow.” Such a person may look on other humans as brothers, but he looks on the cow as food. Is this universal love? A Kṛṣṇa conscious person, however, thinks, “Oh, here is a cow. Here is a dog. They are part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa, but somehow or other they have acquired different bodies. This does not mean that they are not my brothers. How can I kill and eat my brothers?” That is true universal love – rooted in love for Kṛṣṇa. Without such Kṛṣṇa consciousness, there is no question of love at all.
Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the stage beyond self-realization in which the devotee becomes one with Kṛṣṇa in the sense that Kṛṣṇa becomes everything for the devotee, and the devotee becomes full in loving Kṛṣṇa. An intimate relationship between the Lord and the devotee then exists. In that stage, the living entity attains his immortality. Nor is the Personality of Godhead ever out of sight of the devotee. To merge in Kṛṣṇa is spiritual annihilation. A devotee takes no such risk. It is stated in the Brahma-saṁhitā (5.38),
santaḥ sadaiva hṛdayeṣu vilokayanti
yaṁ śyāmasundaram acintya-guṇa-svarūpaṁ
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
“I worship the primeval Lord, Govinda, who is always seen by the devotee whose eyes are anointed with the pulp of love. He is seen in His eternal form of Śyāmasundara, situated within the heart of the devotee.” One who has developed such a love for Kṛṣṇa sees Śyāmasundara, Kartāmeśāna, always within his heart. At this stage, Lord Kṛṣṇa never disappears from the sight of the devotee, nor does the devotee ever lose sight of the Lord. In the case of a yogi who sees the Lord as Paramātmā within the heart, the same applies. Such a yogi turns into a pure devotee and cannot bear to live for a moment without seeing the Lord within himself.
This is the real process by which we can see God. God is not our order supplier. We cannot demand, “Come and show Yourself.” No, we first have to qualify ourselves. Then we can see God at every moment and everywhere.
bhajaty ekatvam āsthitaḥ
sarvathā vartamāno ’pi
sa yogī mayi vartate
“Such a yogi, who engages in the worshipful service of the Supersoul, knowing that I and the Supersoul are one, remains always in Me in all circumstances.” (Bhagavad-gītā 6.31)
A yogi who is practicing meditation on the Supersoul sees within himself the plenary portion of Kṛṣṇa as Viṣṇu – with four hands, holding a conch shell, wheel, club, and lotus flower. This manifestation of Viṣṇu, which is the yogi’s object of concentration, is Kṛṣṇa’s plenary portion. As stated in the Brahma-saṁhitā (5.48),
jīvanti loma-vilajā jagad-aṇḍa-nāthāḥ
viṣṇur mahān sa iha yasya kalā-viśeṣo
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
“The Brahmās and other lords of the mundane worlds appear from the pores of Mahā-viṣṇu and remain alive for the duration of His one exhalation. I adore the primeval Lord, Govinda, for Mahā-viṣṇu is a portion of His plenary portion.” The words govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi (“I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord”) are most important. The word ādi means “original,” and puruṣam means “the Lord as the original male, the original enjoyer.” And who is this Govinda whose plenary portion is Mahā-viṣṇu? And what is the function of Mahā-viṣṇu?
In every universe there is a primary, original living entity known as Brahmā. The life of Brahmā is the life of the universe, and this life exists during only one breathing period (exhalation and inhalation) of Mahā-viṣṇu. Mahā-viṣṇu lies on the Causal Ocean, and when He exhales, millions of universes issue from His body as bubbles and then develop. When Mahā-viṣṇu inhales, these millions of universes return within Him, and this is called the process of annihilation. That, in essence, is the position of these material universes: they come out from the body of Mahā-viṣṇu and then again return. In the ninth chapter of the Bhagavad-gītā (9.7) it is also indicated that these material universes are manifest at a certain period and are then annihilated.
prakṛtiṁ yānti māmikām
kalpa-kṣaye punas tāni
kalpādau visṛjāmy aham
“O son of Kuntī, at the end of the millennium all material manifestations enter into My nature, and at the beginning of another millennium, by My potency, I create them again.” The creation, maintenance, and annihilation of this material cosmic manifestation are completely dependent on the supreme will of the Personality of Godhead. “At the end of the millennium” means at the death of Brahmā. Brahmā lives for one hundred years, and his one day is calculated at 4,300,000,000 of our earthly years. His night is of the same duration. His month consists of thirty such days and nights, and his year of twelve months. After one hundred such years, when Brahmā dies, the devastation or annihilation takes place; this means that the energy manifested by the Supreme Lord is again wound up in Himself. That is, Mahā-viṣṇu inhales. Then again, when there is need to manifest the cosmic world, it is done by His will: “Although I am one, I shall become many.” This is the Vedic aphorism. He expands Himself in this material energy, and the whole cosmic manifestation again takes place.
Since the entire creation and annihilation of the material universes depend on the exhaling and inhaling of Mahā-viṣṇu, we can hardly imagine the magnitude of that Mahā-viṣṇu. And yet it is said here that this Mahā-viṣṇu is but a plenary portion of the plenary portion of Kṛṣṇa, who is the original Govinda. Mahā-viṣṇu enters into each universe as Garbhodaka-śāyī Viṣṇu, and Garbhodaka-śāyī Viṣṇu further expands as Kṣīrodaka-śāyī Viṣṇu, and it is this Viṣṇu form that enters into the heart of every living entity. In this way, Viṣṇu is manifest throughout the creation. Thus the yogis concentrate their minds on the Kṣīrodaka-śāyī Viṣṇu form within the heart. As stated in the last chapter of Bhagavad-gītā (18.61),
hṛd-deśe ’rjuna tiṣṭhati
“The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy.”
Thus, according to the yogic process, the yogi finds out where the Kṣīrodaka-śāyī Viṣṇu is seated within the heart, and when he finds this form there, he concentrates on Him. The yogi should know that this Viṣṇu is not different from Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa in this form of Supersoul is situated in everyone’s heart. Furthermore, there is no difference between the innumerable Supersouls present in the innumerable hearts of living entities. For example, there is only one sun in the sky, but this sun may be reflected in millions of buckets of water. Or, one may ask millions and trillions of people, “Where is the sun?” And each will say, “Over my head.” The sun is one, but it is reflected countless times. According to the Vedas, the living entities are innumerable; there is no possibility of counting them. Just as the sun can be reflected in countless buckets of water, Viṣṇu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, can live in each and everyone’s heart. It is this form that is Kṛṣṇa’s plenary portion, and it is this form on which the yogi concentrates.
One who is engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is already a perfect yogi. In fact, there is no difference between a Kṛṣṇa conscious devotee always engaged in the transcendental loving service of Kṛṣṇa and a perfect yogi engaged in meditation on the Supersoul. There is no difference between a yogi in samādhi (in a trance meditating on the Viṣṇu form) and a Kṛṣṇa conscious person engaged in different activities. The devotee – even though engaged in various activities while in material existence – remains always situated in Kṛṣṇa. This is confirmed in the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī: nikhilāsv apy avasthāsu/ jīvan-muktaḥ sa ucyate. A devotee of the Lord, always acting in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, is automatically liberated. This is also confirmed in the fourteenth chapter of Bhagavad-gītā (14.26):
sa guṇān samatītyaitān
“One who engages in full devotional service, unfailing in all circumstances, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman.”
Thus the devotee engaged in unalloyed devotional service has already transcended the material modes of nature. Being situated on the Brahman platform means being liberated. There are three platforms: the bodily, or sensual; the mental; and the spiritual. The spiritual platform is called the Brahman platform, and liberation means being situated on that platform. Being conditioned souls, we are presently situated on the bodily, or sensual, platform. Those who are a little advanced – speculators, philosophers – are situated on the mental platform. Above this is the platform of liberation, of Brahman realization.
That the devotee, always acting in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, is automatically situated on the liberated platform of Brahman is also confirmed in the Nārada Pañcarātra:
kṛṣṇe ceto vidhāya ca
tan-mayo bhavati kṣipraṁ
jīvo brahmaṇi yojayet
“By concentrating one’s attention on the transcendental form of Kṛṣṇa, who is all-pervading and beyond time and space, one becomes absorbed in thinking of Kṛṣṇa and then attains the happy state of transcendental association with Him.”
Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the highest stage of trance in yoga practice. This very understanding that Kṛṣṇa is present as Paramātmā in everyone’s heart makes the yogi faultless. The Vedas confirm this inconceivable potency of the Lord as follows:
aiśvaryād rūpaṁ ekaṁ ca sūrya vad bahudheyate
“Viṣṇu is one, and yet He is certainly all-pervading. By His inconceivable potency, in spite of His one form, He is present everywhere. As the sun, He appears in many places at once.”
samaṁ paśyati yo ’rjuna
sukhaṁ vā yadi vā duḥkhaṁ
sa yogī paramo mataḥ
“He is a perfect yogi who, by comparison to his own self, sees the true equality of all beings, in both their happiness and distress, O Arjuna!” (Bhagavad-gītā 6.32) This is true universal vision. It is not that God is sitting in my heart and not in the heart of a dog, cat, or cow. Sarva-bhūtānām means that He is sitting in the hearts of all living entities, in the human heart and in the ant’s heart. The only difference is that cats and dogs cannot realize this. A human being, if he tries to follow the sāṅkhya-yoga or bhakti-yoga system, is able to understand, and this is the prerogative of human life. If we miss this opportunity, we suffer a great loss, for we have undergone the evolutionary process and have passed through more than eight million species of life in order to get this human form. We should therefore be conscious of this and careful not to miss this opportunity. We have a good body, the human form, and intelligence and civilization. We should not live like animals and struggle hard for existence but should utilize our time thinking peacefully and understanding our relationship with the Supreme Lord. This is the instruction of Bhagavad-gītā: Don’t lose this opportunity; utilize it properly.