“After the demon dropped dead, Krishna, with His transcendental glance alone, brought all the boys and calves back to consciousness and came with them out of the mouth of the demon. While Krishna was within the mouth of Aghasura, the demon's spirit soul came out like a dazzling light, illuminating all directions, and waited in the sky. As soon as Krishna with His calves and friends came out of the mouth of the demon, that glittering effulgent light immediately merged into the body of Krishna within the vision of all the demigods.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 12)Download this episode (right click and save)
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada described the goal of bhakti-yoga in just three words: back to Godhead. This pithy phrase explains so much. The first word indicates that the destination relates to something from the past. You can only go back to something if you have been there before. The last word indicates that the Supreme Lord is one who can expand into many. This is but one aspect of His inconceivable potency. The word “to” speaks of a journey of some sort, travelling from one place to another. That word also applies to consciousness; a truth exhibited both literally and symbolically in the pastime of Krishna and Aghasura.
The word “agha” in Sanskrit means sin. We think of sin in terms of acts that are obviously bad. We shouldn’t steal. We shouldn’t commit adultery. We shouldn’t kill people, especially outside of the six areas where aggression is sanctioned.
“According to Vedic injunctions there are six kinds of aggressors: 1) a poison giver, 2) one who sets fire to the house, 3) one who attacks with deadly weapons, 4) one who plunders riches, 5) one who occupies another's land, and 6) one who kidnaps a wife. Such aggressors are at once to be killed, and no sin is incurred by killing such aggressors.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 1.36 Purport)
No one wants to be called a sinner, and no one wants to be told that what they are doing will lead them to an undesired destination in the afterlife. But sin is actually much simpler to understand. It is the wrong way of doing things. Such as in driving, there are right and wrong sides of the road. To drive on the wrong side of the road is to sin. It brings a negative outcome.
At the granular level, sin is anything that keeps the living being further away from God. We revisit the phrase “back to Godhead.” Those who are not currently with the Supreme Lord are sinful to some degree. Rebirth can only take place when there is sin within the individual, whether a trace or large amount. That wrong way of doing something relates to consciousness, and namely forgetfulness of the Supreme Lord.
Synonymous with “back to Godhead” is the phrase “back to consciousness.” This seems odd at first, since pretty much everyone we know is conscious right now. The consciousness here relates to Krishna consciousness, awareness of the Supreme Lord. Krishna consciousness is the original consciousness and sinful life is a sort of unconsciousness.
“The state of conditioned life in the material world is just like a man lying unconscious, having been bitten by a snake. This is because both such unconscious states can be ended by the sound of a mantra.” (Garuda Purana quoted in The Nectar of Devotion, 10)
The incident with the Aghasura demon in Vrindavana nicely illustrates this. The Supreme Lord Krishna had descended to earth to exhibit His transcendental form and take part in instructional and heartwarming pastimes. During the period of youth, He remained in the farm community of Vrindavana. He would daily go out to the fields and play with His friends.
One day the friends of Krishna saw a large cave that looked strange. They thought it might be a demon in disguise, so they decided to enter the cave and see what they could do about the situation. That cave was indeed the demon Aghasura. He used the mahima siddhi of yoga to expand his body to a very large size. The opening to the cave was actually the mouth of Aghasura, who was in the shape of a serpent.
This is a historical incident that occurred on this planet, but there is symbolic meaning at the same time; such is the beauty of the Supreme Lord. His creativeness is such that He makes scenes in real life that are better than anything a storyteller could imagine. Aghasura’s name is a compound Sanskrit word. The first part is “agha,” which means sin. The second is “asura,” which means one who is against God. The second part seems redundant, but the asura can also be a particular species. This species is born with sinful tendencies; hence they have no problem doing such things as swallowing young children.
Krishna’s friends became unconscious within the mouth of Aghasura. This symbolically represents the effect of sinful life. As soon as there is contact with agha, the original consciousness vanishes. What’s left is the mentality to hoard, to exploit, to enjoy separate from God. That is the definition of sinful life, and since the power is so strong there is hardly a trace of remembrance of the Supreme Lord and all His glory.
Seeing the trouble, Krishna also decided to enter Aghasura’s mouth. By expanding His body, Krishna eventually choked the demon to death. The boys were thus brought back to consciousness, showing that God the person is the one who can remove the odor of agha and bring the individual back to their original state.
The devotees are often described as anagha, or sinless. The famous Arjuna was addressed this way in the Bhagavad-gita. They are steady in consciousness of Krishna. Their journey back to Godhead has already taken place, as they are always conscious of the slayer of the Aghasura demon. In this age, where agha has set up shop in the dangerous activities of meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex, the only rescue is the sound representation of Krishna. This sound is identical to the Supreme Lord and it carries the potency to bring one back to their original consciousness. The wise souls always chant the holy names to create this sound: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
When Krishna consciousness earning,
To the original state then returning.
Trace of agha causing the fall,
Material world home then to call.
Representing unconscious state,
But by Lord’s sound can instantly awake.
Like with Aghasura demon shown,
Krishna bringing to life friends His own.