Monday Morning Greetings 2018 #33 – The Heaviest Book in the World

August 13th, 2018

The Sanskrit word for “heavy” is guru. Guru means “heavy” because the heaviest thing for a conditioned soul to bear is spiritual knowledge. This is because spiritual knowledge weighs heavily on our attachments. It tells us that some things we like we must relinquish and some things we don’t we must accept. That is the hefty price for sincerely hearing and embracing the truth. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the repository for spiritual knowledge, is thus guru, the heaviest book in the world.


Every morning upon rising I try to read the Bhāgavatam for some time. I brace myself for transformation, for if I am not open to hearing the truth, to have my conceptions and attachments challenged, I won’t actually hear the Bhāgavatam. Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī, the tradition’s main theologian, refers to this phenomenon in his Śrī Bhakti-sandarbha.


He quotes the second verse of the Bhāgavatam where Śrī Vyasa claims that by hearing its message just once, Krishna immediately, without delay, appears in one’s heart. Śrī Jīva quotes this verse to raise the question of why this doesn’t happen to us? His answer: One doesn’t hear what one doesn’t like. And because we are antithetical to the book’s theme and ultimate message, which is to fully surrender to guru and Krishna, we don’t actually hear the message of the Bhāgavatam. That’s heavy.


In this way spiritual knowledge acts like a mirror to the false ego. By gazing at our reflection in that message, we see who we actually are, not what we imagine our self to be. How shocking! It’s analogous to the emperor who proudly parades among his subjects in his new clothes, only to realize that he is actually naked. In a similar way, by hearing spiritual knowledge our inflated self-conception is exposed. Is there any wonder, therefore, why we shy away from its weighty message and close our hearts to the full appearance of Śrī Krishna?


Another question naturally arises: if being full of material desires blocks our minds from hearing the Bhāgavatam, then what is the use of hearing the book at all? Śrī Jīva explains that by repeatedly hearing the message of the Bhāgavatam something very wonderful happens. We gradually become purified of our unwanted desires and develop an ardent desire to hear the truth. The message of surrender then progressively becomes our joy and we enter the door of true devotion. Then, instead of weighing on our attachments, each and every word incites rasa, our specific and sweet relationship with Krishna. The heaviest book in the world then becomes the sweetest.


“O expert and thoughtful men, relish Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the mature fruit of the desire tree of Vedic literatures. It emanated from the lips of Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī. Therefore this fruit has become even more tasteful, although its nectarean juice was already relishable for all, including liberated souls.” (Bhāg. 1.1.3)


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