Skip to main content
Attention Becomes Attraction

Pay Attention to His Message 

yad-anudhyāsinā yuktāḥ
chindanti kovidās tasya
ko na kuryāt kathā-ratim 

With sword in hand, intelligent men cut through the binding knots of reactionary work [karma] by remembering the Personality of Godhead. Therefore, who will not pay atten-tion to His message? (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.2.15)

This verse is an example where śāstra refers to highly qualified individuals to encourage us (who are less qualified) to do what is being advised. Śukadeva Gosvāmī said, “The wise who are ‘anudhyāsinā yuktāḥ are equipped with the sword of remembrance of the Lord.” Anudhyāsinā comes from dhyāna, which means ‘meditation.’ In meditation, there is intense, constant remembrance of the Lord. 

Rāmānuja says, “Dhyāna is like pouring oil in a nice steady stream. This constancy is the condition of one who is successful in meditation.” That is what remembrance means. Yat refers to activities described in the previous verse. Śruta means ‘hearing’; kīrtana means ‘chanting’; dhyāna means ‘remembering’; and pūjā means ‘worshiping.’ Who has the ability to do all these things? Nibandhanam chindanti - those who are engaged in ‘cutting the knots of karma.’ In verse 1.2.15 the image of a sword is used. What are swords for? Swords are weapons used by heroes.

Earlier we were discussing Arjuna’s role as a hero - in the verse quoted above there is an allusion to this notion of being a hero in devotional service. Swords are tools used in fighting and cause destruction. Whenever there is sacrifice there is destruction. In a fire sacrifice offerings are put into the fire and are destroyed, or consumed, by the fire. Out of the process of yajña, if it is performed properly, comes creation, renewal and new generation. This is the fundamental idea of yajña within which a certain kind of destruction is involved. 

The Battle at Kurukṣetra is compared to a massive yajña. On one side, there is mass destruction where millions of people were killed. On the other side, there was rejuvenation - the establishing of something new. 

The other image in the verse quoted above is that of a knot. But the karma-granthi is not a simple knot we see in normal life. The karma-granthi is a gigantic complicated knot. In any attempt to unravel it by any means other than spiritual practice something will be loosened for a while, but then another part of the string immediately tightens the knot again. In other words, by using ordinary means every effort is ultimately a failure. In fact, mundane efforts to undo the knot create a further karmic reaction, so one can end up with not just one knot, but a whole cluster of knots. Therefore, the material world is compared in the fifteenth chapter of the Bhagavad-gītā to a banyan tree. No one can know where such a tree starts and where it ends - it is all-pervading, all-binding, and all-frustrating. The frustration of the conditioned soul is the feeling of being bound, of not being free. 

This verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.2.15) ends with a rhetorical question: “Therefore, who will not pay attention to His message?” This question is intended to make a statement that everyone should be attentive to Kṛṣṇa’s message. 

     - From the book Paravidya-mala: Higher Knowledge Series by Krishna Kshetra Swami


Attention Becomes Attraction  

In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.2.15) Sūta Gosvāmī mentions kathā-ratim. Rati means ‘attraction,’ but Śrīla Prabhupāda translates it as ‘attention.’ If there is going to be attraction there also has to be attention. This attention Prabhupāda describes in a wonderful way in the purports near the end of the third chapter of the First Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Essentially he says, “If you want to be perfect in attention you have to be perfect and pure in spiritual activities and habits such as eating, sleeping, etc. Then you can be attentive.” When we are attentive we can become attracted to Kṛṣṇa. That is the culture of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam that we are trying to study. By the grace of the Lord, we may be successful in this attempt. 

     - From the book Paravidya-mala: Higher Knowledge Series by Krishna Kshetra Swami