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KC Nectar - Feb 11

Failure and Success in Yoga
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
From the book 'The path of Yoga'
Submitted by Manoj

Suppose I give up my business, my ordinary occupation, and begin to practice yoga, real yoga, as explained herein by Lord Sri Krishna. Suppose I practice, and somehow or other I fail; I cannot properly complete the process. What, then, is the result? This is Arjuna's very next question.

arjuna uvaca
ayatih sraddhayopeto
yogac calita-manasah
aprapya yoga-samsiddhim
kam gatim krsna gacchati

"Arjuna said: What is the destination of the man of faith who does not persevere, who in the beginning takes to the process of self-realization but who later desists due to worldly-mindedness and thus does not attain perfection in mysticism?" (Bg. 6.37)

The path of self-realization, of mysticism, is described in the Bhagavad-gita. The basic principle of self-realization is knowing that "I am not this material body but am different from it, and my happiness is in eternal life, bliss, and knowledge." Before arriving at the point of self-realization, one must take it for granted that he is not this body. That lesson is taught in the very beginning of Bhagavad-gita: the living entity is not this material body but something different, and his happiness is in eternal life.

Clearly, this life is not eternal. The perfection of yoga means attaining a blissful, eternal life full of knowledge. All yoga systems should be executed with that goal in mind. It is not that one attends yoga classes to reduce fat or to keep the body fit for sense gratification. This is not the goal of yoga, but people are taught this way because they want to be cheated. Actually, if you undergo any exercise program, your body will be kept fit. There are many systems of bodily exercise-weight lifting and other sports-and they help keep the body fit, reduce fat, and help the digestive system. Therefore there is no need to practice yoga for these purposes. The real purpose for practicing yoga is to realize that I am not this body. I want eternal happiness, complete knowledge, and eternal life-that is the ultimate end of the true yoga system.

The goal of yoga is transcendental, beyond both body and mind. Self-realization is sought by three methods: (1) the path of knowledge (jnana); (2) the path of the eightfold system; or (3) the path of bhakti-yoga. In each of these processes, one has to realize the constitutional position of the living entity, his relationship with God, and the activities whereby he can reestablish the lost link and achieve the highest perfectional stage of Krishna consciousness. Following any of the above-mentioned three methods, one is sure to reach the supreme goal sooner or later. This was asserted by the Lord in the Second Chapter: even a little endeavor on the transcendental path offers a great hope for deliverance.

Of these three methods, the path of bhakti-yoga is especially suitable for this age, because it is the most direct method of God realization. To be doubly assured, Arjuna is asking Lord Krishna to confirm His former statement. One may sincerely accept the path of self-realization, but the process of cultivation of knowledge (jnana) and the practice of the eightfold yoga system are generally very difficult for this age. Therefore, despite constant endeavor, one may fail for many reasons. First of all, one may not be actually following the process, the rules and regulations. To pursue the transcendental path is more or less to declare war on the illusory energy. When we accept any process of self-realization, we are actually declaring war against maya, illusion, and maya is certain to place many difficulties before us. Therefore, there is a chance of failure, but one has to become very steady. Whenever a person tries to escape the clutches of the illusory energy, she tries to defeat the practitioner by various allurements. A conditioned soul is already allured by the modes of material energy, and there is every chance of being allured again, even while performing transcendental disciplines. This is called yogac calita-manasah: deviation from the transcendental path. Arjuna is inquisitive to know the results of deviation from the path of self-realization.

As stated in Bhagavad-gita (6.37), quoted above, yogat means "from the practice of yoga," calita means "diversion," and manasah means "mind." So there is every chance for the mind to be diverted from yoga practice. We all have some experience of trying to concentrate by reading a book, and our mind is so disturbed that it does not allow us to concentrate on the book.
Actually, Arjuna is asking a very important question, for one is subject to failure in all types of yoga-be it the eightfold yoga system, the jnana-yoga system of speculative philosophy, or the bhakti-yoga system of devotional service. Failure is possible on any of these paths, and the results of failure are clearly explained by Sri Krishna Himself in the following dialogue with Arjuna (Bg. 6.38-44). Arjuna, continuing his inquiry, asks,

"O mighty-armed Krishna, does not such a man, being deviated from the path of Transcendence, perish like a riven cloud, with no position in any sphere?"

"This is my doubt, O Krishna, and I ask You to dispel it completely. But for Yourself, no one is to be found who can destroy this doubt."

"The Blessed Lord said: Son of Prtha, a transcendentalist engaged in auspicious activities does not meet with destruction either in this world or in the spiritual world; one who does good, My friend, is never overcome by evil."

"The unsuccessful yogi, after many, many years of enjoyment on the planets of the pious living entities, is born into a family of righteous people, or into a family of rich aristocracy."

"Or he takes his birth in a family of transcendentalists who are surely great in wisdom. Verily, such a birth is rare in this world."

"On taking such a birth, he again revives the divine consciousness of his previous life, and he tries to make further progress in order to achieve complete success, O son of Kuru."

"By virtue of the divine consciousness of his previous life, he automatically becomes attracted to the yogic principles-even without seeking them. Such an inquisitive transcendentalist, striving for yoga, stands always above the ritualistic principles of the scriptures."

Purification of consciousness is the purpose of this Krishna consciousness movement. Presently we are preparing this divine consciousness, for our consciousness goes with us at the time of death. Consciousness is carried from the body just as the aroma of a flower is carried by the air. When we die, this material body composed of five elements-earth, water, air, fire, and ether-decomposes, and the gross materials return to the elements. Or, as the Christian Bible says, "Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return." In some societies the body is burned, in others it is buried, and in others it is thrown to animals. In India, the Hindus burn the body, and thus the body is transformed into ashes. Ash is simply another form of earth. Christians bury the body, and after some time in the grave, the body eventually turns to dust, which again, like ash, is another form of earth. There are other societies-like the Parsee community in India-that neither burn nor bury the body but throw it to the vultures, and the vultures immediately come to eat the body, and then the body is eventually transformed into stool. So in any case, this beautiful body, which we are soaping and caring for so nicely, will eventually turn into either stool, ashes, or dust.

At death, the finer elements (mind, intelligence, and ego), which, combined, are called consciousness, carry the small particle of spirit soul to another body to suffer or enjoy, according to one's work. Our consciousness is molded by our work. If we associate with stool, our consciousness, which is like the air, will carry the aroma of stool, and thus at the time of death will transport us to an undesirable body. Or, if the consciousness passes over roses, it carries the aroma of roses, and thus we are transported to a body wherein we can enjoy the results of our previous work. If we train ourselves to work in Krishna consciousness, our consciousness will carry us to Krishna. Different types of body are developed according to consciousness; therefore, if we train our consciousness according to the yogic principles, we will attain a body wherein we can practice yoga. We will get good parents and a chance to practice the yoga system, and automatically we will be able to revive the Krishna consciousness practiced in our previous body. Therefore it is stated in this last verse, "By virtue of the divine consciousness of his previous life, he automatically becomes attracted to the yogic principles-even without seeking them." Therefore, our present duty is to cultivate divine consciousness. If we want divine life, spiritual elevation, and eternal, blissful life, full of knowledge-in other words, if we want to go back home, back to Godhead-we have to train ourselves in divine consciousness, or Krishna consciousness.

This can be easily done through association (sangat sanjayate kamah). Through divine association, our consciousness is made divine, and through demoniac association, our consciousness is made demoniac. Therefore, our consciousness must be trained to be divine through the proper association of those in Krishna consciousness. That is the duty of one in this human form, a form that gives us a chance to make our next life completely divine. To attain this end, we should try to contact those who are developing divine consciousness.

"But when the yogi engages himself with sincere endeavor in making further progress, being washed of all contaminations, then ultimately, after many, many births of practice, he attains the supreme goal." (Bg. 6.45) As indicated in this verse, making progress is a question of practice. When a child is born, he neither knows how to smoke nor how to drink, but through association he becomes a drunkard or a smoker. Association is the most important factor. Sangat sanjayate kamah. For instance, there are many business associations, and by becoming a member of certain associations, one's business flourishes. In any endeavor, association is very important. For the development of divine consciousness, we have established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, in which the methods of attaining divine consciousness are taught. In this society we invite everyone to come and chant Hare Krishna. This process is not difficult, and even children can participate. No previous qualifications are necessary; one doesn't need a master's degree or doctorate. Our invitation to everyone is to join this association and become Krishna conscious.

The Supreme Lord, God, is pure, and His kingdom is also pure. If one wants to enter His kingdom, he must also be pure. This is very natural; if we want to enter a particular society, we must meet certain qualifications. If we want to return home, back to Godhead, there is a qualification we must meet-we must not be materially contaminated. And what is this contamination? Unrestricted sense gratification. If we can free ourselves from the material contamination of sense gratification, we can become eligible to enter the kingdom of God. That process of freeing ourselves, of washing ourselves of this contamination, is called the yoga system. As stated before, yoga does not mean sitting down for fifteen minutes, meditating, and then continuing with sense gratification. To be cured of a certain disease, we must follow the prescriptions of a physician. In this Sixth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita, the process of yoga is recommended, and we have to follow the prescribed methods in order to be freed from material contamination. If we succeed in doing so, we can link up, or connect, with the Supreme.

Krishna consciousness is a method for connecting directly with the Supreme. This is the special gift of Lord Caitanya Mahäprabhu. Not only is this method direct and immediate, but it is also practical. Although many people entering this Society have no qualifications, they have become highly advanced in Krishna consciousness simply by coming in contact with the Society. In this age, life is very short, and a yoga process that takes a long time will not help the general populace. In Kali-yuga, people are all so unfortunate, and association is very bad. Therefore, this process of directly contacting the Supreme is recommended-hari-nama. Krishna is present in the form of His transcendental name, and we can contact Him immediately by hearing His name. Simply by hearing the name Krishna we immediately become freed from material contamination.

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