Ch 9 VERSE 26
पत्रं पुष्पं फलं तोयं यो मे भक्त्या प्रयच्छति ।
तदहं भक्त्युपहृतमश्नामि प्रयतात्मनः ॥२६॥
patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ
yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam
patram—a leaf; puṣpam—a flower; phalam—a fruit; toyam—water; yaḥ—whoever; me—unto Me; bhaktyā—with devotion; prayacchati—offers; tat—that; aham—I; bhakti-upahṛtam—offered in devotion; aśnāmi—accept; prayata-ātmanaḥ—of one in pure consciousness.
If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.
patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ
yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam
“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.”
So this is one of the most famous verses in the Bhagavad-gita, and it really has quite significant importance. When Krishna asks us to make such an offering, He is in fact inviting us to reawaken our eternal loving relationship with Him. Of course, the key ingredient in the offering process, is our love and devotion.
What we are dealing with here now, is the means, or sadhana, to achieve the highest form of spiritual, or self-realization, and God realization. I mentioned much earlier, in the early part of this study, that there were three levels of self-realization, and they involve the essence, the position and the natural function of the soul itself, or the atma.
When you want to discover the truth about anything, then, to come to know its essence, its position and natural function, gives you the, practically the full information about that thing. In relation to the atma, we are brahman. We are spirit in essence. But that does not reveal everything about our actual identity.
The second part of that question of, “Who am I?” related to essence, position and function, my position, it is the question of, “Where do I fit?” in relation to all other living beings, and if there is a supreme being amongst all beings. What is the nature of my connection, or relationship, or where do I fit in that picture? And of course, the material energy, the material world, where do I fit in relation to this? So discovering this informs us of our position. And we know that amongst all living beings, one is particularly unique. And this is the Paramatma, the Supreme Soul, or Isvara, of whom I am a part and parcel. But He is superior to me in all respects, but I am His eternal part and parcel.
On the third part of that equation now, my natural function, if we take the soul, the atma, and remove all material covering, in its pure and transcendental state, one will have to consider what is the natural activity of the soul? How does it express itself? What is the natural activity the soul itself undertakes? And that activity is to be absorbed in the most ecstatic and divine experience of love, and to engage in service, in order to please this highest object of my love, Bhagavan.
Different yoga processes offered the opportunity for one or more of these realizations, but it is only through the process of bhakti, that one can come to the highest and most complete, the most perfect form of self-realization, to fully realize my essence, position and function.
So in this instruction of Lord Krishna, we see that He is offering a practical process by which a person can make spiritual progress from, while in the embodied state, from being covered, to awakening this experience of spiritual love or prema. It is not like—nobody should think that Krishna is actually in need of anything. He is not in need of anything. But what He is doing here is giving an instruction for our benefit so that we may come to this highest spiritual position
So I’ll just read something here:
“Bhagavan Sri Krishna is the owner of everything. He is the richest, most powerful person in existence, but He is so kind that He personally comes to accept a simple leaf or flower, a piece of fruit or a little water, if offered to Him with love and devotion.”
Consider how wonderful this really is. I mean imagine if the richest, most famous and most powerful person in the world, was driving down the road in a limousine, and you were in a crowd of thousands of people who had come to see him, and you had a very simple little gift. This person sees you and stops the car and comes over to you and accepts this little flower that you are holding as an offering.
So as I stated, God does not need our gifts. He doesn’t need our flowers or any humble offerings that we have. But He is attracted by our love, and He promises that He will personally come to accept our offering. So this is a great opportunity for us, and we should be deeply appreciative, and of course, very eager to be able to offer something to Krishna. And this is a manifestation, actually, of God’s love for us, to create this opportunity.
We’re not going to go into this in any detail, but there is something associated with this that is extraordinary. They have a word in Sanskrit prasada. Prasada means the mercy, the special mercy of the Lord. When a devoted yogi makes such humble offerings to the Lord having carefully picked the flower or a leaf, or prepared a little water or some fruit, and bringing it before the form of the Lord one bows and makes an offering of this, a heartfelt offering in love and devotion, then Krishna says that He accepts that offering.
When He accepts that offering it is no different than the Lord having actually taken it Himself in His own hand. And having accepted that offering, it now is imbued with a spiritual power or potency. It has taken on a spiritual quality, that’s not visible, of course, to the eyes, but is perceivable to one whose eyes have been bathed in the salve of devotion. When the devotee accepts themself, now the remnants, what is referred to as the remnants of such an offering, one is in fact becoming spiritualized.
This spiritualization has been likened to the effect of putting iron in a fire. If I have a rod of iron, and I place it into an extremely hot fire, that iron gradually becomes red hot and eventually white hot. And although the natural characteristic of iron is that it is heavy, it is cold, it is dull, but now having removed it from the fire, it has taken on all of the characteristics of fire itself. It begins to emit light, and it is emitting heat. And if I touch this hot iron to something that is flammable, then it will burst into flames. These are not the natural characteristics of iron but acquired characteristics.
When I accept the prasadam, the mercy of the Lord, in the form of remnants of what is offered to Him, whether it is the incense that has been offered, or a flower, leaf, fruit, water, and I engage that with my bodily senses, smelling, tasting, looking at, touching, then it actually brings about a spiritualization of the body.
There is a wonderful verse in the Bhagavata Purana that describes the effect. You see, in the yoga process, the yogis endeavoured to become free from the influence of the mind, and of the buddhi, the intelligence, and the false ego, and to directly perceive their actual spiritual existence. But the astanga yoga process was extraordinarily difficult, and for one to come to that perception of the soul itself, was practically impossible. But in the Bhagavata Purana there is a wonderful verse, and it states :
“Bhakti or devotional service, dissolves the subtle body of the living entity without separate effort, just as fire in the stomach digests all that we eat.”
So in this extraordinary verse, we learn that the actual sadhana, the process of bhakti, sadhana bhakti, is so powerful that without making any extra effort to extricate oneself from the effect or influence of the mind, the intelligence, the false ego, that just by undertaking the process, that the subtle body, the stula sarira becomes practically dissolved, and the true nature of the soul itself manifests.
So this is the principle of (which I’ll speak about later) the dovetailing of one’s existence, of their body, their material facilities, with this process of serving the Lord, and in doing that, it awakens our eternal spiritual nature, our function as a loving servant of the Lord.
Sridhara Swami, one of the great commentators on the Bhagavad-gita, has stated the following:
“Now Lord Krishna explains how simple and easy it is to render bhakti, or exclusive loving devotion unto Him. One who has no position in society, who is penniless but clean externally and cleansed internally, if such a person offers a fruit or flower, or some water or even a leaf to the Supreme Lord with devotion in their heart, He [meaning the Lord] will gladly accept and transcendentally enjoy with great pleasure such simple things.”
One of the challenging things that some people may experience, if we have been influenced by what we’ve referred to as the impersonalist, or the mayavadi philosophy, with advaita vedanta philosophy of Sankaracharya, then they have a big struggle with this, how to explain this, because they do not accept that ultimately the highest feature of the absolute truth is in fact personal. And so this idea of making such an offering, they generally advise it from the point of view of helping to bring a person into more focused attention, but as they grow an understanding of their oneness and spirit with brahman, one can give up all these activities. But this is not what has been stated here at all.
Srila Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada, in his commentary, he states:
“The impersonalist philosophers, who wish to maintain that the Absolute Truth is without senses, cannot comprehend this verse of Bhagavad-gita. To them it is either a metaphor or proof of the mundane character of Krishna, the speaker of the Gita. But, in actuality, Krishna, the Supreme Godhead, has senses, and it is stated that his senses are interchangeable; in other words, one sense can perform the function of any other. This is what it means to say that Krishna is absolute. Lacking senses, he could hardly be considered full in all opulences.”
So this deals, at least the last part of it, with some of the things that we’ve mentioned before. The highest feature of Godhead cannot be lacking in anything. We understand that the Lord is equipped with transcendental senses that are omnipotent. They can—He can eat with His eyes. He can hear with His sense of touch. He can—the transcendental senses of the Lord are—they manifest this omnipotence. And simply by gazing upon food stuff that is offered, the Lord can actually eat and relish it. This is His transcendental nature. This is what it means for him to be full in all opulence.
There is—these same impersonalist philosophers propose that our capacity to engage in hearing and smelling and tasting or touching is because of our body, that the sense organs are the senses. This is an incomplete understanding. The sense organ itself, like my eyes, do not actually see. They allow light to enter, and bring with it colour and the concept of form. It is—this is sent by electrical impulse to the brain, but the actual perception takes place within the mind. Material perception takes place within the mind. This is a very deep subject; and the ability to perceive is a characteristic of the soul itself. We’ve mentioned before that the atma, the soul, actually has spiritual form. It is sentient. It has transcendental senses also, as the Lord has transcendental senses. But my senses are limited, whereas the Lord’s senses are completely unlimited.
And so by taking to heart the message of this verse, and practically engaging in this in our life, one will be able to quickly become purified, and advance spiritually, and eventually come to see Krishna face to face, and to experience that transcendent reality of His awesome spiritual personality. And if one is able to advance in this direction, then it awakens one’s natural profound and deep love for Him.
Thank you very much.