We are all expendable

I wake the Deities 5 days a week in "the Village" as we sometimes call Prabhupada village . I have been doing this for a year and half. On occasion, like this morning, I don't make it for some reason. Usually (this makes 3 times I have missed my service) I forget to pull the plug for the alarm, and sleep in blissful ignorance that I have missed my service.

I like doing this service, yet it is an austerity. I have to be very conscious of getting to bed by 8:30 PM, so I can get enough sleep to properly function in the morning. I often say that "tomorrow begins tonight", because if you want to get up early, you have to go to bed early (or as devotees say, "take rest". My brother in-law used joke with me, "Take it where?)

When we lived in the ashrama most of thought 6 hours of sleep was the magic number for everyone, forever (since Prabhupada recommended it for those in the mode of goodness). However, many of us have had to make adjustments through our experience. I need 7+, my wife 9.

So when I woke up this morning, and lay in the sack sighing, I reflected that no matter how important our service, or how important we think our service is, we are expendable. We can be replaced, and in fact our life may end at any moment. I know personally 27 devotees who have passed on, or as we say, "left their bodies." (since only the bodies dies) And now my good friend Nirguna is in Mayapura getting ready to leave his body. It is very likely that I may follow these other devotees. :-)) Many of us know that Maharaja Yudhisthira, when asked by Shri Yamaraja what the most wonderful thing was, replied that "The most wonderful thing is that although everyone is dying around us, we live like we won't die."

So death is certain, and it is certain that the longer we live the more likely we will die soon. This is not meant to be a morbid preoccupation, but a sobering reminder of one of the truths of the material world. Rather than think that we better get in as much material enjoyment as possible, devotees take the notice of death as an impetus for their spiritual practice.

How we live our present life will determine our future life. Birth and death though a fact of material existence, are a problem to be solved. It is an unnatural state for us, the eternal soul. We have to become convinced of this truth by hearing from and associating with saintly devotees (sadhus), reading scripture, and from realizing it through the purification of our spiritual practices. And in this mix must be a liberal sprinkling of mercy from Guru, Sadhus, and Shri Krishna Chaitanya (the form of God for this age).

Although we must do our part, we won't be successful just by effort alone, without the mercy from above.

In Krishna's pastimes or Lila, when his mother Yasoda tried to bind him she kept finding after the final knot, her rope was 2 inches too short. Those 2 inches represent, effort and mercy, which are both required for success in any undertaking.

However, of the two, mercy is the more important.

At the same time we can't live our life thinking we will get the mercy without doing anything. Though we don't encourage it, even people who win the lottery have to buy a ticket. And people who don't do any thing with their lives thinking they will win the lottery some day, don't really live. They have a "near life experience"!!!

So death is sure, while life in our current body is temporary. While we are here we have to understand the urgency of Krishna consciousness in the face of the predicament of material life. We have to do what Prabhupada recommended:
"Give this one life to Krishna."

combined comments from old site

Wonderful article!

Please accept my humble obesiances.

Thanks for the fantastic post. You touched on some really valid points and summed it up nicely with Srila Prabhupada's words.
We must all strive towards that and pray that Krishna and guru are most merciful towards us.

Many thanks.

Tue, 10/23/2007 - 17:50 — Jai Srila Prabhupada
Very Nicely Written!!

You have really inspired me with this article prabhuji. I am that kind of person who needs to be reminded that death is certain as my mind always controls me and leads me to the material enjoyments of life. :)


Tue, 10/23/2007 - 18:01 — Jai Srila Prabhupada
Regarding Sleep!!

You said you sleep for 7 hrs and I guess that is the normal time required to get a good sleep. Even I sleep 7+ hrs. However I am very confused about a lot of devotees who just sleep for 2 hrs or even less. The best examples can be given about Srila Prabhupada, Rupa Gosvami, Haridas Thakur etc. Even currently I know so many devotees who sleep less than 2 hrs as they are always curious to serve Krishna.

Can you please guide me, whether it chanting that has given them the power to sleep less or do they force themselves to sleep less as they are very keen to serve Krishna? In the Gita it is said, one should not sleep more or less then why do most of the devotees, even today, sleep less than 2 hrs ?


Wed, 10/24/2007 - 17:49 — rasa108
RE: Sleep

This process is so perfect that even in our dreams we can be thinking of Krsna...I am sure a few of us have had spiritual dreams.


Wed, 10/24/2007 - 23:22 — Jai Srila Prabhupada


Hare Krishna Prabhuji. What you have said is so true. Even though I am new to Krishna Consciousness I have dreamt so many times of Krishna in my dreams, where I have enjoyed doing so many different activities with Him. Once I remember I had a very scary dream of ghosts and then suddenly Krishna appeared there and all my fear was gone. :) I can just imagine, being new to Krishna Consciousness if I dream so much about Him, then devotees might just be enjoying dreaming about Him all the time. :)


Wed, 10/24/2007 - 00:02 — Karnamrita.das
Sleeping zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

The ideal advanced devotees you mentioned are being mainly sustained by the spiritual energy. The 6 Goswamis are "players" in Shri Krishna's and Shri Chaitanya's eternal lila. While they are fully present in the material realm so they can function here, they are under the direct shelter of the Divine energy, svarupa sakti, or daivim prakritim (BG 9/13).

They may appear to even temporarily forget their true position for the sake of the Lila, yet we see that at a certain time, they were fully conscious of both planes. For instance, although they have full knowledge as awakened souls they still studied all the Vedas, and gave many quotations from them. They also felt the pulse of the time and made commentaries which took into account the philosophical/religious/spiritual climate of the time. They spoke to issues of the day, but from the transcendental platform. That is required.

In our experience, we have our guru Shrila Prabhupada, who was fully present in on the earth, yet had transcendental consciousness. He would notice if a light bulb was burnt out, or there was a bird nest which indicated neglect on the part of Mayapur managers etc. People appreciated how practical and "down to earth" he was. At the same time he was always remembering Krishna, and seeing everything that happened in relationship to him. He saw his disciples as representatives of his guru and Krishna, and responded to what came from our mouths as guidance.

So we are on different levels of spiritual absorption. For most of us, how much we sleep is very practical. We sleep as little or as much as we require. I have had a long time to experiment, and I have needed different amounts of sleep at different times in my life. In addition, if I do very strenuous work, I need more. Look to BG 6/16-17. We shouldn't eat or sleep too much or too little, and whatever we require should be regulated. In many ways Krishna consciousness is common sense, although it is true that sometimes such common sense is uncommon. So we have to develop it and pray for it. Krishna consciousness comes from bhakti, not from jnana, yoga, or tapas. There are aspects of those built in to KC, but they are always to facilitate the limbs of bhakti or devotional service.

I used to try to minimize my sleep, and I was always "nodding out" and was famous for practically sleeping on my feet (the only time I didn't fall asleep when was went I was honoring Prasad). In principle no devotee likes sleep, as it can be compared to ignorance or death, yet we have to do it, and as much as required. And if we are tired we look forward to it's relief. The body requires it, and lets us know.

We endeavor to do everything as service. We take care of our body as service to Krishna and our guru, and also our family. If we fall sick from not taking care of our body everyone suffers.

So be Krishna conscious, and as your advance, you may be able to sleep less. I haven't been able to do it yet, but if I am that so anxious for service that I can't bear to sleep, I am sure that by Krishna' mercy he will let me sleep less. Everything in good time. Be patient, practical, and have common sense, and find devotees who are. I bow down to those devotees who only sleep a few hours. In my experience that is very, very rare.

Your friend in service,



Wed, 10/24/2007 - 02:49 — Jai Srila Prabhupada
Jai Srila Prabhupada's picture
Thank you for your wonderful answer!!

Your Servant,


Tue, 10/23/2007 - 20:03 — rasa108

RE: Sleep
I didn't realise most devotees slept for less than two hours!

It is true that we shouldn't sleep too much or too little but there are some expections to this....some devotees are able to maintain this small amount of sleep because they are filled with spiritual energy from service.

If it is articificial or imitation then that is another thing and won't last long.


Wed, 10/24/2007 - 02:50 — Jai Srila Prabhupada

Thank you for your wonderful answer!!

Your Servant,