H.H. Gopal Krishna Goswami

Disciple of HDG A. C. Bhaktivedanta
Swami Prabhupada

HDG A. C. Bhaktivedanta
Swami Prabhupada

Founder-Acarya of the International Society
for Krishna Consciousness

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The Bhagavad-Gita is the eternal message of spiritual wisdom from ancient India. The word Gita means song and the word Bhagavad means God, often the Bhagavad-Gita is called the Song of God.

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Historically many very extraordinary people such as Albert Einsten, Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Albert Schweitzer, Herman Hesse, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Aldous Huxley, Rudolph Steiner and Nikola Tesla to name but a few have read Srimad Bhagavad-Gita and were inspired by its timeless wisdom.

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Caitanya Mahaprabhu advises us that we should have regular spiritual association — this is known as sadhu-sanga. If we don’t have spiritual association then it is hard for devotional creeper to grow. By Prabhupada’s mercy we virtually have ISKCON temples in every corner of the globe. You go to the West, go to the America or South America or East Africa or any part of the world, I think in almost every corner of the globe there is some ISKCON temple or the other. Spiritual association is very necessary and that is why when Prabhupada established ISKCON, he also established Sunday love-feast program. Prabhupada devised the Sunday program so that people who have jobs, businesses, etc can come once a week and have spiritual association and be reminded about the importance of spiritual life.

Lord Caitanya says that we should build a strong fencing around us which means that we should keep ourselves in the midst of devotee association. One big advantage of that is that one will be reminded about our prime duty. Sometimes we have a tendency to get distracted because illusionary forces are always trying to bewilder us. But if one is constantly in the devotee association then that can be corrected; that can be checked.

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In the scriptures it is explained that we can have devotee association at three levels — one is associating with those who are more advanced, second is associating with those who are equally advanced and the third is to associate with those who are less advanced. Narada Muni advises in Srimad- Bhagavatam regarding how we should behave in each of these situations. Narada Muni advises that if we have the association; if we have the opportunity to associate with somebody who is more advanced then we should become joyful, when we have the opportunity to associate with somebody who is equally advanced we should make friendship, and if we have the opportunity to associate with somebody who is less advanced we should display compassion.

Narada Muni said that if one meets somebody who is more advanced, one should become joyful because when we meet somebody more advanced we are going to get some knowledge that is going to inspire us to take the process of devotional service more seriously. Sometimes there are individuals who want to avoid the association of those who are more advanced and there are others who are anxious to get the association of those who are more advanced. Why? The ones who are anxious to have association of those who are more advanced are those who are serious about spiritual advancement. And the ones who avoid or make plans to avoid the association of those who are more advanced are those who don’t want to make spiritual advancement. So they are worried that if I associate with advanced devotees, they will tell me to chant, chant and chant and I don’t want to chant. So the best way is that I should avoid their association. In Srimad-Bhagavatam an example of a peacock is given—a peacock gets ecstatic when he sees clouds for the first time. Similarly a real devotee is happy when he meets somebody who is more advanced.

When we meet somebody who is equally advanced, we make friendship with them. In the material world friendship means — I scratch your back and you scratch mine — we have each other to enjoy and forget the Lord. What does spiritual friendship mean? Spiritual friendship means that we engage in spiritual discussion; we are engaged in discussion of topics like how can we make spiritual advancement; talking about spiritual subject matters etc. Spiritual subject matter is so vast that even if one talks for all day one can’t get tired or run out of matter.

When we meet somebody who is less advanced, we display compassion. If one meets somebody who is addicted to drinking and meat eating then one should feel compassionate that he is wasting his life. If one is sincere, one will try to preach to such a person. Prabhupada says in his commentary that in the material world when somebody meets somebody inferior, he tries to exploit him. It is the world of cheaters and the cheated. In the material world when we meet somebody equally advanced, we show off. If one guy buys a Nissan, the other buys a Toyota; if he buys a BMW, the other will buy a Mercedes. There is always a competition to stay a step ahead of the other person.