By H.H. Giriraj Swami
Today is the appearance day of Lord Balarama, the Personality of Godhead who is the first expansion of Lord Krsna, the original Personality of Godhead. As Krsna states in the Bhagavad-gita (4.7):
yada yada hi dharmasya
glanir bhavati bharata
tadatmanam srjamy aham
“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself.”
Krsna says, srjamy aham: “I manifest Myself.” He doesn’t take birth like an ordinary human being, but He manifests Himself in His original spiritual form. For what purpose?
vinasaya ca duskrtam
sambhavami yuge yuge
“To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium.” (Bg 4.8)
He manifests Himself to protect the devotees, annihilate the demons, and reestablish the principles of religion.
In every sphere of activity in the material world there is deterioration; everything in the material world declines. A new house, for example, is very nice, but it gradually deteriorates, and eventually, when too old, it has to be rebuilt. In the same way, our performance of spiritual duties deteriorates, whether we are individuals, families, communities, or a society. And so the Lord comes repeatedly to reestablish religious practice. He appears in order to establish religious principles (dharma), but over time religious practice declines, and so He manifests Himself again and again. We all know how prone we are to allow our practice to deteriorate. Thus, on auspicious occasions like today, Lord Balarama’s appearance day, we can pray to the Lord to manifest Himself and help us to become reestablished in our religious principles and practice.
What Lord Krsna said in the two verses quoted from the Bhagavad-gita is explained elaborately in Srimad-Bhagavatam: When the earth was overburdened by demonic rulers, who had amassed large military forces armed with deadly weapons to wage war for personal gain, Lord Brahma, the chief of the demigods in this universe, approached the shore of the ocean of milk. There, accompanied by Lord Shiva and other celestial beings, he worshiped Lord Vishnu, the supreme God of all gods. In response, Lord Vishnu imparted some instructions, which Lord Brahma
By Krsna consciousness, by cooperating to serve the spiritual master and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, different individuals, families, castes, and communities can all be united.
Even Balarama considers Himself to be a servant of Lord Krsna. Balarama is the first expansion of Krsna and is the original spiritual master, and He too has the sentiment that He is a servant of Krsna. In fact, every conscious being is imbued with the sentiment of being a servant of Krsna. Balarama, and all of Krsna’s expansions—Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna, Aniruddha, Karanodakasayi Vishnu, Garbhodakasayi Vishnu, Ksirodakasayi Vishnu—all have the sentiment of being servants of Krsna.
ekale isvara krsna, ara saba bhrtya
yare yaiche nacaya, se taiche kare nrtya
“Lord Krsna alone is the supreme controller, and all others are His servants. They dance as He makes them do so.” (Cc Adi 5.142)
apanake bhrtya kari’ krsne prabhu jane
krsnera kalara kala apanake mane
“[Balarama] considers Himself a servant and knows Krsna to be His master. Thus He regards Himself as a fragment of His plenary portion.” (Cc Adi 5.137)
It was stated in the beginning that Balarama, or Sankarsana, would appear prior to Krsna in order to serve Krsna and please Him in every respect.
agrato bhavita devo
“The foremost manifestation of Krsna is Sankarsana, who is known as Ananta. He is the origin of all incarnations within this material world. Previous to the appearance of Lord Krsna, this original Sankarsana will appear as Baladeva, just to please the Supreme Lord Krsna in His transcendental pastimes.” (SB 10.1.24)
And that is the duty of the spiritual master—to serve and please the Supreme Lord. Once, Srila Prabhupada asked some disciples, “What is the duty of the spiritual master?” And then he gave the answer: “The duty of the spiritual master is to serve Krsna. And the duty of the disciples is to assist the spiritual master.” Balarama is the original spiritual master because, as Krsna’s first expansion, He is the first servant of Krsna, and He is the first instructor about Krsna. The spiritual master is considered to be the representative of Lord Balarama, or Nityananda Prabhu.
So, Srila Prabhupada said, “Your love for me will be shown by how you cooperate.” In other words, love is not just a sentiment but is expressed through practical activity. Further, it is evoked by practical activity; loving sentiment is increased by devotional service. The word “cooperate” consists of “co-,” which means “together,” “jointly”; and “operate,” which means to “perform a function,” to “exert power or influence.” Cooperate means that together we perform some function. And we see the perfect example of cooperation in Vrindavan. Nanda and Yasoda and Rohini cooperated to raise Krsna and Balarama. In a broader sense, they cooperated with Vasudeva and Devaki to raise Them. And there was no envy.
Srila Prabhupada gave the example of the different parts of the body, which cooperate for the sake of the whole, to serve the stomach. If the different parts try to enjoy independent of the stomach, they won’t be able to. They will fail—and suffer. If there is a nice rasagulla and the hand thinks, “Why should I give all the food to the stomach? I will enjoy myself,” and then tries to enjoy directly, it won’t be able to. The food is meant to be given to the stomach, and when it goes to the stomach, all the different parts of the body benefit.
Srila Prabhupada elaborated on this analogy by saying that once, the different parts of the body went on strike, thinking, “We do all the work, and the stomach gets all the food. Why should we work for the sake of the stomach?” So they decided to go on strike. As a result, all the parts of the body suffered. They became weak. Then they had another meeting and decided, “We were better off when we were serving the stomach.” So they went back to serving the stomach.
Krsna is the focus of all devotional service. That is the meaning of bhakti—to serve and please Krsna. And the medium for that service is the spiritual master, who represents Lord Balarama, or Lord Nityananda. So, Srila Prabhupada said, “Your love for me will be shown by how you cooperate.” That means we work together, co-operate. We perform the same function, but together, for the pleasure of guru and Krsna. And in that service there is no envy; there is only appreciation and gratitude. Each devotee thinks, “You’ve helped me so much by doing this.” That consciousness develops naturally from bhakti, but at the same time we have to practice; we are in the stage of sadhana-bhakti, devotional service in practice. When we practice cooperation, serving the other devotees and appreciating their service, bhakti develops, and ultimately Krsna manifests Himself. Krsna and all of His associates are revealed to us in that state of pure devotion.
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