Pathos and Krsna Consciousness

Manidhara Das
23 Jan 2024

Having forgotten the Supreme Personality of Godhead for millions of lifetimes, our return to Krsna Consciousness must carry a certain amount of pathos.
To dress like a devotee, to act like a devotee, and to speak like a devotee means such a change in contrast to our previous ways of expressing ourselves that many may consider us to be entirely "brainwashed," captured by some mysterious sect.

Srila Prabhupada enjoyed our change and the commentaries of amazed co-citizens who couldn't identify us anymore according to the designations we carried before. Indeed, to become Krishna Consciousness in its true sense, there could be a more radical change in relation to our previous materialistic ways of life. There are some who may try to deny it today and, in an almost appologetic way, try to be as much as possible “main stream” looking while still claiming to be devotees, but their appearance is more similar to that of an actor who tries to be also handicapped while walking through a lepra colony.

Still used to thinking and feeling in many ways in material patterns, we try now to assume our original spiritual identity, often unsure about our external appearance.
Spiritual life for a beginner is like sitting on two chairs simultaneously, fearing to fall into the empty space in between. After all, we are the marginal energy of the Lord.
But if we practice rightly and follow the process of purification in Krsna Consciousness, we get gradually firmly established on the spiritual side and become under the guidance of our spiritual master, firmly situated in our real constitutional position as eternal servants of the Lord.

Do we? Are we? That has to be seen. Those who are truly situated do not see any need to impress upon the public their institutional status, their titles, or even the asrama symbolising their state of renunciation. They are NATURALLY Krsna Conscious. This can be recognised by their natural distaste for anything material and their tolerance towards their own conditioning in the form of their still-present body. After all, the realisation of one not being the body is not based on its denial but on its proper use. Such sincere seekers of the Absolute Truth naturally assume a position where they are rightly situated and can opose mayas dictate in the best way.

Srila Prabhupada stressed that grhasta asramam is the most safe position while simultaneously pointing out that deadly accidents can happen even on royal roads.
Such is the risky life in this material world.

In his letter from January 7, 1977, he issues a stern warning to those who try to assume an artificial spiritual status without being qualified for it:

“And this kind of hypocrisy—they have taken sannyāsa and mixed with women. This is not to be allowed. If you want a woman, you get yourself married. Live respectfully. We have no objection. But this hypocrisy should be stopped. There have been so many who have fallen down. First of all, there will be no sannyāsī anymore. I have had a very bad experience. And at least, we are not going to create new sannyāsīs. And those who have fallen down, let them marry and live like respectable gentlemen. I have no objection. After all, young man, you've fallen down—that's all right. It is by nature's way. But marry that girl. That I am insisting from the very beginning that no friendly liaison. If you want, get one nice... They are all of them qualified. Get one wife and live like a gentleman. Similarly woman. Live with one husband fastidiously, with children. What is wrong there? We have so many gṛhastha devotees. You have got children. Pradyumna has got child. Gopāla has... Live with a husband and wife. There is no restriction for husband and wife. But what is this nonsense that you take sannyāsa and make relation with...? This should be completely stopped.”

This stern warning from Srila Prabhupada, here issued towards the sannyas order, may actually be applied to any asrama. An asocial, autistic man is not necessarily qualified to be brahmacary or renunciate. There are quite a few entirely materialistic men out there who cannot have a sexual life either. After all, such a man cannot renounce what he doesn't have to start with. A feministically frustrated woman cannot be qualified as “brahmacarini” just because she got mistreated by some lusty man.
A wourn out and torn apart grhasta cannot be qualified as vanaprastha just because he is not capable of acting responsibly towards his family. It is the level of purified or unpurified material desires that will ultimately define our spiritual status, not the externally asumed designation.

All these negations of given conditioning lead only to artificial pathos, a display of pseudo-spirituality, which ultimately makes us a cheater of an ignorant public that cannot distinguish between external pathos leading to personal cult worship and true Krsna Consciousness.

The real nature of Krsna Consciousness is exactly defined by Krsna Himself in the Bhagavad Gita as being joyful, entirely intellectual, and even sensually satisfactory. Once our mind, intelligence, and senses are engaged in Krsna Consciousness, the world around us becomes, despite all the adversities, a joyful place where we can see Krsna lotos fingerprints everywhere.

Water becomes more tasteful; after all, He is the original taste; earth becomes more sweet-smelling; after He is the original smell; the sun and moon are His eyes; the river His veins; and the mountains his bones, showered by streams of rain, which is his fertilising semina.

Everything can be seen in connection to Krsna, even the ugliness, cruelty, and ghastliness we get confronted with while living in this material world.
NOTHING can happen without Krsna's sanction. A real devotee, free of any pathos, doesn't dwell on any particular aspect of God; he sees God everywhere and in everything. Such is the “optical perception” Srila Prabhupada demonstrated to us, making us aware of how blind and dull we were prior to meeting him.

With his eyes, the world became exciting to behold, and even as temporary as it was and is, it is an amazing exhibit of Krsna's energy. And so the artificial pathos seen in the tortured faces of “saints” depicted in various religious institutions have no place in Krsna Consciousness. Still conditioned and immature, devotees may be afraid of becoming happy, falsely identifying happiness with sense gratification. The tormented immages of some so-called spiritual leaders indicate rather the amount of their stoll-frustrated and suppressed material desires. Real spiritual satisfaction simultaneously evokes satisfaction and happiness.

True, the devotee is serious in terms of his awareness of the allure of maya and the dangers he constantly encounters in this material world. He is not just a constantly grinning “happy” fool, as some mayavadi gurus would like to display for us. But his seriousness is still based on his satisfaction to be constantly under Krsnas supervision, the One who never lets his devotees go unprotected and exposed to injustice and violence. That doesn't exclude the function of our brain and intelligence; after all, “God helps those who help themselves." Rather, Krsna is the One who gives the brain at the right time, supplies the necessary intelligence, and issues warnings at the right time and right place.

Considering how many dangerous situations Srila Prabhupada encountered during his extensive travels and how “dangerous” his message was and is for the demoniac class of men, it was truly amazing how unharmed he travelled around the globe, preaching what many didn't want to hear and establishing what many didn't want to see.

Fearlessness is a sign of spiritual progress, and it is a testimony of one's firm faith in the protection of the Lord. The result is instant satisfaction and happiness. Even tormented Prahlad Maharaja never expressed any anxiety for himself or fear of danger, even being threatened by the biggest demon of that time, his own father.

Following in his footsteps, Srila Prabhupada attracted us with his joy, his firm faith in the Lord's protection, and his logical explanation of the presence of the Supreme Lord in every aspect of our lives. Even though every preacher carries a certain charisma, Srila Prabhupadas was entirely free of any artistic pathos or falsity. He was REALLY Krsna conscious all the time. The consciousness of never being disconnected from Krsna should automatically result in a joyful display of our Krsna Consciousness.
No external, pathetic theatrical showmanship is necessary. Such falsity can only be appreciated by ignorant fools who do not understand the real nature of Krsna Consciousness.

Yes, God can make jokes, and God can have humor. Otherwise, we would not be able to copy him in this regard. This aspect of His nature is entirely missed in all established religions in the world, and it can be discovered by dint of Krsna Consciousness only.

Joining the Srila Prabhupadas movement, we used to be so happy and so ecstatic that we couldn't take a rest. Such were the days where everybody was engulfed in a preaching spirit with "no retreat." There was no need for retreat-organised "happiness," as we were happy all the time... except the time we were not in Krsna Consciousness. For me personally, such days never passed; they are not just some memories; they are here and now available to anybody who joins the Srila Prabhupadas mission unconditionally.

There is a way to be truly happy without the need for any external pathos. One just has to become part of the Srila Prabhupadas mission and distribute Krsna Consciousness wherever one goes in the form of book distribution, prasadam distribution, harinama distribution of the Holy Name, and distribution of Krsna Consciousness life style in the frame of varnasrama-based communities. EVERYBODY can become part of such a mission and watch himself or herself become consequently happy, provided he or she wants to. The self-imposed missery and pathetic display of a tormented type of existence in the name of "internal unmanifested ecstacy" :-(  is only the result of our still-prevailing expectations to become happy in name and fame in this world.

We don't have to deceive ourselves like this; to be recognised by Krsna and Srila Prabhupada is entirely sufficient to make us happy and satisfied devotees, regardless of the material circumstances we may be exposed to.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada, who taught us how to become naturally happy in Krsna Consciousness, free of any pathos and artificial theatrical display of our false ego-generated false pseudo-spirituality.