Kṛṣṇa says, “Arjuna I trust you (Gita 9.1) so I will tell you the most confidential of all my secrets, which will bestow to you a direct realization of the Absolute Truth (2). Without trust, even if others hear this secret, they will not understand what we are talking about. (3).”
Next come texts 4-10. At this point of the book, the dialog between Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna has come to the conclusion that devotion is the ideal means for self-realization. In texts 4-10 Kṛṣṇa gives philosophical background as to why we should have unshakable devotion for the divine.
He says, “Anything you could love in this world comes from me! But I am so much more than anything you could love in this world! (4) Everything that brings you happiness and pleasure is nothing but my own energy, but I – the source of all that energy – have so much more happiness and pleasure to pour upon you than any manifestation of my energy does when divorced from me. (5)”
The idea in these two texts is wondrously explained also by Shukadeva Goswāmī in the Srimad Bhagavata Purana, after he described Lord Brahma’s attempt to kidnap Kṛṣṇa’s friends, 10.14.50-58. I highly recommend you read it later on. Here is a link to it: http://vedabase.net/sb/10/14/50/en
The question is: Why love Krsna? The answer: What else could you love? Anything you love or anything that brings you pleasure is only a fragment of Kṛṣṇa. Why not do yourself a favor and fall in love with the origin of everything you are in love with? That is the basic idea of texts 4 and 5 in the 9th Chapter of Gita.
Then Arjuna expresses a doubt. To put this doubt in words would read something like this: “All the things that I love and bring me pleasure in this world are actually sources of pain in the end. Therefore is it really appropriate for you to stress this line of thinking, Kṛṣṇa? If all these sources of pain come from you, will I also experience pain as a result of loving you?”
Kṛṣṇa replies to this concern of Arjun by giving text 6:
“The painfulness of life results from it being divorced of its direct link to me,” Kṛṣṇa says. “The serration of my energy from me which you experience here in this material world does not stain or contaminate me in any way, even though all the energy belongs to me. It is something like the wind blowing within the sky. The wind is part of the sky – but the blowing of the wind never causes the sky itself to change or move or tremble. In the same way, my divorced energy is part of me, but does not have the power to affect me and change my naturally sweet and loving temperament to one which would prove unpalatable and painful to love at some point.”
Ajuna now has a follow-up question, to the effect: “If you are so sweet and worthy of our full undivided love – why do you allow your energy to be divorced from you and thus go sour and become a source of pain?”
Texts 7-10 record Kṛṣṇa’s reply to this doubt. In essence he explains that the beings who want to get a divorce from Kṛṣṇa (all of us in the world of divorce, the material world) are grownups and he treats us as such. We are responsible for the impact of our own choices. It is our self-centeredness which brings the sour element into Kṛṣṇa’s energy. He allows it to happen because he respects the sanctity of our freewill and our right to divorce him. But he is not to blame for the sourness of the result.
“In my external energy, everything is cyclically created and destroyed. Therefore in the end even your greatest pleasure becomes painful when it is taken away from you. (7) Yes, it is true that I am in control of all this (8),” Kṛṣṇa says, “but you cannot hold me responsible for the sweet or sour results of what brings you pleasure and pain upon having or losing it. (9)”
“Why not?” Arjun must want to know, “If you are in control of it all, why shouldn’t I hold you responsible for what I have to suffer!?”
“Because I am merely an umpire, a referee. You are the one playing the game. I merely enforce the rules. The players, not the umpire, are responsible for winning or losing the game. (10)”
Next, in texts 11 and 12, Kṛṣṇa explains what happens if we do not fully grasp and embrace the reality that we, not God, are responsible for our pains and pleasures.
“If you think that I am not the umpire, but another one of the players in the game; if you think that the umpire is a competitive person rather than a neutral party, (11) then naturally you will hold malice towards me for what appears to be favoritism in saying that some players win and get enjoyment while other players lose and therefore suffer. Without knowing that I am absolutely neutral to the goings on of this petty game you call the material world you will not be able to develop firm devotion for me, and in fact you will come to miserable ruination in a lonely state of perpetual divorce, for which you will blame me in vain. (12)”
Now we come to texts 13 and 14. Here Kṛṣṇa explains what happens if and when we become smart and accept that Kṛṣṇa is not to blame for our divorce from him and the resulting pain we have suffered pitifully in so many variations and permutations of situations:
“Those who accept responsibility for their own mistakes and see that I have merely been neutral and just and respectful to them through it all – naturally they will turn once again towards spontaneous and natural devotion towards me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Seeking “remarriage” with me they lose interest in exploiting the divorced energy and instead strive to enter my own internal divine energy of love, which is in the care of the most exalted and supreme Goddess of Devotion – Her Divine Grace Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. She mercifully takes you under her wing and remarries you to me, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, engaging you fully in my loving service. (13)”
Bhagavad Gita 9.14
Now we come to the 14th text of the 9th chapter which illustrates the behavior of the soul who has been, by Rādhārāṇī’s grace and under her care, “married” to Kṛṣṇa.
satataḿ kīrtayanto māḿ
yatantaś ca dṛḍha-vratāḥ
namasyantaś ca māḿ bhaktyā
It gives me shivers and goosebumps how powerfully direct and clear this is. What is the first and foremost hallmark of a soul who has Rādhārāṇī’s mercy and is “married to Kṛṣṇa”?
satataḿ kīrtayanto māḿ
“They always do Kṛṣṇa-kīrtana”
The first and foremost quality of one who is really a “devotee” is that they always do Kṛṣṇa-Kīrtana.
Let this point hit home in the deepest possible way.
What do you think qualifies a person as an advanced devotee? Is it a danda and saffron? Is it a letter of recognition from the government of a religion? Is it a popularity contest? Is it acting talent, skill as an orator or educator or musician??? Is it renunciation? Lack of sex-desire? Lack of Ego? Etc?
No, no no no! Absolutely not. No!
The only important hallmark of a person who is really in the shelter of the only worthy Goddess of our hearts, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī – the only trait to pay attention to see if you really do or do not merit Śrī Rādhā’s mercy and care and attention is, Do I feel like doing a kirtan right now or not? Or even better, Am I doing kirtan right now or not?
“Kirtan” is of four primary varieties. There is nama- lila- guna- and Rūpa- kirtana. Kirtan means “glorification.” Nama-kirtana is the most important form of Kirtana, but lila- guna- and roop- kirtana are the foundations that hold up the beautiful structure of nama-kirtana.
Nama Kirtana is done with singing and usually with musical instruments, often with dance, and often with other person sharing their voice and hearts. This is actually called complete nama-kirtan – or nama-sankirtana (the san- affixed to kirtan is for the word samyak which means complete). The other varieties of Kirtan – glorification of Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes, qualities and beauty can be done musically or in poetry or in prose.
So the answer to the question Am I doing Kirtan right now? IS YES!
I am doing kirtan by trying to glorify Krsna’s loving qualities as he expressed them in Bhagavad Gita. You are doing kirtan because you are paying attention to the same and taking part in it. Therefore we are doing, right now, guna-kirtana.
Therefore right now, at this lovely moment, we are Mahatmas.
Therefore right now, at this blessed minute, we are being cared for by the most beautiful woman in or beyond the 14 worlds, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī the most beloved Goddess of all the lovers of Kṛṣṇa.
Therefore we should cherish these moments as though they were diamonds and sapphires and pearls and rubies and roses and chocolates. We should not want this moment to end.
To be in Kirtan is to be with Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, the daivi prakriti. When we are in Kirtan, we should not want it to end. When it ends we should weep. If we do not weep we are not in Rādhārāṇī’s care, we have divorced ourselves from her care. When kirtan ends our hearts should feel like they have been thrown into a void of the darkest region of space.
But unfortunately we cannot even imitate this level for more than a paragraph’s length. Instead we end the kirtan voluntarily, and actually look forward to doing something else. This is the most disgusting quality a living being could possess – especially a living being trying to reap some twisted reward for being called a “devotee.”
A true mahatma is one who seeks for Rādhārāṇī to engage her in Kṛṣṇa’s devotional service. What is the main engagement?
satataḿ kīrtayanto māḿ
“They always do Kṛṣṇa-kīrtana”
OK, but you can’t do it right? Me neither. So what now?
yatantaś ca dṛḍha-vratāḥ
Make a firm vow to try with all your might
We cannot even imitate for 24 seconds the qualities of a person truly in the grace of Śrī Rādhā. So what? Give up? No!
A child woke up and said, “I want to be a pop star.” Or, “I want to be a doctor.” Or, “I want to be the president.” 50,000 kids wake up like that every day – but there are only a few doctors, pop stars or presidents in the world, right? Why!? Because those bums are too damned lazy to make it. They don’t have what it takes. Take away the nice-nice talk, that’s the truth.
It simply is not easier to be a popstar, doctor or the president than it is to attain the highest of all possible forms of self-realization and get taken by Śrī Rādhā herself to engage in Kṛṣṇa ’s service. In Gita 7.3 Kṛṣṇa already told you:
Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection,
and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth.
Out of thousands of kids hardly one wants to be something special like a pop star, a doctor, or the president. Out of thousands who want to be something special hardly one really is. Out of thousands who really are special hardly one realizes that the entire material world is nothing special – including all the pop stars, doctors and presidents in it. Therefore hardly one out of thousands of thousands of thousands of people takes an interest in self-realization. Out of thousands of those rare souls, hardly one cares enough about it to attain it. And out of thousands of those who attain self-realization hardly one single person comes to a devotional understanding of the Absolute Truth as the deceptively simple Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
If you have to work hard to be a pop star, by sweet baby Jesus’ right leg you better accept the fact that you are going to have to work thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of times harder to realize the Absolute Truth as the Supreme Personality of Godhead – and to be able to serve him under the wing of the Supreme Goddess Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī.
So you better make a driddha-vrata right now to try your freakin best!
This means you have to really kick yourself and make serious effort at every moment.
What to speak of this – we don’t even do this! We are lazy. We are so complacent about spiritual life. Do you expect Kṛṣṇa to come down from Goloka to your room in nowhereville, Idaho and hand you an ice-cream cone of mercy because you signed some paper or made some promise in front of a fire once upon a time? Don’t be so complacent!!!! WORK HARD!
Go to kirtan when you don’t want to. Listen to the class carefully. Finish reading this long, long diatribe that is getting crazier and crazier as it lumbers on and on endlessly. And then, when you are finished for god’s sake don’t breathe a sigh of relief – ask some questions, try to prolong the kirtan.
It is our utmost eternal spiritual duty to prolong the duration of any kirtan we are in, and to improve and increase its quality.
Very rarely do we even care this much about these subjects. How is it possible for someone like us to even make a driddha vrata (unshakable promise) to engage in more kirtan? It’s not possible.
namasyantaś ca māḿ bhaktyā
“Offer me a sign of your respect for devotion.”
That’s it. Kṛṣṇa is going really easy on us here. He is opening up a doorway into the daivi prakriti. Don’t think that you can be lazy and just look at the door and thereby gain entrance. You have to get up and walk through the door – which will then lead you to drddha-vrata which will then lead you to satattam kirtan – there is just no other practical way to get to Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī’s feet. Please accept this.
“Walking through the door” will eventually take us down the hallway to the room in which Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is singing Kṛṣṇa-Nama-Sankirtana with her eternal confidential girlfriends. What is this doorway? It is to at least show respect for devotional service.
What devotional service?
Kirtan. Kirtan is the beginning and end of the definition of devotional service, and is most certainly the main focal point of this current text under discussion.
We can’t do constant Kirtan, so we should make a vow to do more kirtan. We can’t follow that vow, so we must at least cultivate respect for kirtan and for those who do follow their vow. Conversely, we must not criticize the kirtaniya, ever, for any reason unless we desire our own misery and confusion.
Is there something we can do to help cultivate a respectful attitude towards Kirtan and Kirtaniyas? Yes:
Always engaged in worship
“Upasate” can mean “arcana.” Worship of the diety is hereby indicated to be subordinate to the practice of Kirtan. To speak about and learn about Bhagavad Gita is guna-kirtan when done by persons seeking devotion to Kṛṣṇa. Therefore it is actually a superior spiritual activity to worshiping the deity. Kirtan is superior to upasana, everyone seeking bhakti must accept this fact for their own wellbeing.
Then what is the point of having deities?
By caring for the deity of Śrī Śrī Rādhā Kṛṣṇa our hearts actually becomes imprinted with practical favorable impressions of the divine couple. This inclines us to be more appreciative of the glorification of the divine couple – which is kirtana.
Therefore worship the deity form of Kṛṣṇa and Rādhārāṇī (or Śrī Śrī Niati Gaurasundar) with true, simple, honest, heartfelt care and devotion. Care for them. Touch them reassuringly. Feed them. Love them show them your love. Offer your respects to those who glorify the divine couple, and offer your respects to the glorification itself – this will allow you to desire – honestly and really desire – more and more glorification of the divine couple – this will lead to your being in satatam kirtan – eternal kirtan. At that point you are in the company of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī and in her company you will meet with that lovely, lovely sweetest of all sweethearts – the heart of all hearts, the soul of all souls, the beloved brilliant darkness of the threefold bending form of Śrī Vrajendra Nanada Shyama Sundar.
Jai Jai Śrī Śrī Nitai Gaurahari!
Please now continue this kirtan by visiting http://vedabase.net/bg/9/14/en and enjoying the deep and practical explanation of this verse by our Guru’s Guru A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swāmī Prabhupāda.