"The recommended process for God realization in this Age is chanting of the Hare Krishna Mantra: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare." A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
Attend Bhakti Yoga and mantra meditation classes, lectures on The Bhagavad Gita and related Vedic literature, chanting the Hare Krishna Mantra—every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (or write for details) at any one of the following Krishna Consciousness Temples:
Boston—95 Glenville Avenue, Allston
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Vancouver—271 East Georgia Street
THE BHAGAVAD GITA AS IT IS, translated, with commentary,
This book makes available for the first time in the English language an authoritative translation and commentary on the world's most popular book of spiritual science. It contains complete information for lifting one from a life of gross materialism to the highest plane of transcendence. THE BHAGAVAD GITA AS IT IS is valuable reading for the novice as well as for those who are more advanced on the spiritual path.
The Bhagavad Gita, also known as the Geetopanishad, was first spoken by Lord Sri Krishna to His disciple Arjuna some five thousand years ago, just prior to the great Battle of Kurukshetra. This teaching, then, is in the form of a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna. It is complete in seven hundred verses, and Vyasadeva, the compiler of the Vedic literature, included it in his great epic, the "Mahabharata."
The Bhagavad Gita is handed down to "Parampara," or disciplic succession. Krishna taught the Gita to Arjuna because the previous succession had been broken through the course of time.
In the Fourth Chapter, Krishna says to Arjuna, "That very ancient science of the relationship with the Supreme is today told by Me to you because you are My devotee as well as My friend; therefore, you can understand the transcendental mystery of this science." Arjuna was not a great scholar or yogi. He was a warrior, having many worldly responsibilities, and he was being taught while sitting in his chariot on the battlefield, just as the battle was to begin.
There were many great sages, saints and yogis living at that time—some present at the field of war itself—but Arjuna was chosen to receive this knowledge because he had the special qualification of being Krishna's devotee and friend. Therefore, he could understand this transcendental science.
There are a number of editions of The Bhagavad Gita on the market. Some are commented upon by the devotees and some by nondevotees. Only the commentaries by the devotees can be considered real. Those of the demon nondevotees are worthless. Most editions of the Gita are, therefore, worthless, because they have not been received through submissive hearing from a bona fide spiritual master, one who is a devotee in the line of disciplic succession originating from Krishna. Therefore, the authors of such commentaries are unable to unfold this sublime science to the public. The American market especially is glutted with worthless commentaries on the Gita, and all the readers of those editions are being misled. THE BHAGAVAD GITA AS IT IS was written primarily to adjust this anomaly.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami is a bona fide spiritual master in the line of disciplic succession, and he possesses the same two qualifications that Arjuna did. He is Krishna's devotee and His friend. Swami Bhaktivedanta is widely recognized as one of the great spiritual leaders and authorities of our time, and in this work he presents the Gita in a manner which is comprehensible to the modern reader, without deviating from Krishna's original teaching, which makes THE BHAGAVAD GITA AS IT IS unique.
In the Gita, Krishna speaks as the supreme authority because He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Origin of all knowledge. He speaks directly about Himself and therefore The Bhagavad Gita hits right on the Absolute Truth. It is not a parable, as some commentators would have us think.
One commentator, for example, writes that, "Strictly speaking we cannot give any description of Brahman." But Krishna is the Supreme Brahman, the Supreme Spirit, and in the Gita He describes Himself very nicely, as well as describing everything within His Creation, both spiritual and material. Scholars have many different viewpoints regarding the Absolute Truth, but they generally come to no factual conclusions because they do not accept Krishna as the Supreme Person. The Bhagavad Gita, as it is presented by Krishna, is authoritative because He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. If this were not so, His book would be as useless as the writings of the so-called learned scholars, because anything done by a conditioned living entity is bound to be imperfect.
The Bhagavad Gita is, however, recognized as an authority on transcendental science. It is for this reason that scholars and philosophers comment on it in the first place. But in order to put forth their own ideas, they twist Krishna's words to suit their own purposes, and The Bhagavad Gita, which is one of the most beneficial teachings for spiritual realization, becomes as poisonous as milk touched by the lips of a serpent.
One must accept Krishna and His teachings as Arjuna accepts them if one wants the vision of reality which the Gita offers. Arjuna accepts Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead and accepts His teachings as they are spoken, without inventing any interpretation of his own.
Generally speaking, there are two groups of commentators on The Bhagavad Gita. One group is known as the impersonalists and the other group is the personalists. The personalists accept Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and they are His devotees. They present His teachings without any distortion and direct the reader to a clear understanding of Krishna. The impersonalists, on the other hand, do not accept Krishna as the Supreme Person, and they try diverting the mind of the reader away from Krishna.
An example of this unscrupulous type of commentary is to be found in the thirty-fourth verse of the Ninth Chapter. Krishna says there: "Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, engage your body in My service; and surrender unto Me. Completely absorbed in Me, surely will you come to Me." And, a well-known commentator writes: "It is not the personal Krsna to whom we have to give ourselves up utterly but the Unborn, Beginningless, Eternal who speaks through Krsna." This shows how little intelligence he has. Krishna is Himself the Unborn, Beginningless Eternal. This is the very message of the Gita. Why invent something else?
There is no difference between Krishna's inside and His outside, as He is all spiritual, and therefore one without a second. If such foolish writers do not agree with Krishna's philosophy, it is to be wondered why they don't simply write their own books, instead of commenting on The Bhagavad Gita. The reason, of course, is that no one would listen to them. And so they use the Gita because it is a very highly respected spiritual authority, and then try to draw some new and invalid meaning out of it.
Most of these less intelligent commentators also say that to know God is to be God. They are claiming to be as good as Krishna, and people in general have shown themselves very willing to accept this because they are told that they are God also. Krishna must be very great if everyone wants to be like Him. However, not one of these "Gods" can speak anything remotely resembling The Bhagavad Gita, nor can they display the Universal Form which Krishna showed to Arjuna in the Eleventh Chapter.
Krishna not only said that He was God, but He also practically demonstrated it, so that the nonbelievers would accept Him, and because He knew that in the future there would be many imposters claiming to be God. Before accepting such a misrepresentation of God, then, one should ask to see His Universal Form. In this way people will not be so easily misled.
The conclusion of Swami A.C. Bhaktivedanta regarding this matter is that one who understands that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead is liberated, and "one who does not understand the real nature of the Lord as the eternal, blissful, all-knowing Personality of Godhead is certainly Fool Number One." Swami Bhaktivedanta accepts The Bhagavad Gita in the same way that Arjuna does: Krishna is the Supreme Lord and all living entities are His parts and parcels in an eternal relationship of servant and master.
All the great commentators on the Gita, such as Ramanujacharya, Madhyacharya, Lord Chaitanya, Siddhanta Saraswati, and now A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami in the present age, hold Bhakti Yoga—devotional service to Krishna—to be the highest goal of spiritual realization as well as the most direct means for reaching this goal. The entire Bhagavad Gita is directed toward establishing the living entity in a direct relationship with Krishna, and toward teaching him to act in Krishna Consciousness. And, as this is the original goal of the Gita, it is also the unquestionable purpose of this new and important presentation.
There are many Yoga systems discussed in The Bhagavad Gita—Karma Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Dhyana Yoga, Raja Yoga, Jnana Yoga, etc.—but they are all stepping stones to Krishna Consciousness. Bhakti Yoga is different, in that it is both the means and the goal itself. At the end of the Sixth Chapter, Krishna says, "of all yogis, he who always abides in Me with great faith, worshiping Me in transcendental loving service, is most intimately united with Me in Yoga, and is the highest of all." Devotional service to Krishna can therefore be seen as the most confidential part of knowledge and the essence of The Bhagavad Gita.
It is declared that one who does not understand the instructions of The Bhagavad Gita is faithless and misusing his intelligence. On the other hand, anyone who reads THE BHAGAVAD GITA AS IT IS and follows the simple process prescribed therein is sure to attain the highest perfection in a short time. Krishna says that anyone who knows Him knows everything, and so His final advice is to surrender unto Him. By utilizing this great science presented to us by Swami Bhaktivedanta, the whole human mission can be fulfilled, and it is therefore to be hoped that intelligent men will take full advantage of this book.
In January 1969 the sound of HARE KRISHNA vibrated across Britain's "Today" program on Thames television as millions of viewers throughout the country began to fall in love with the holy sound of HARE KRISHNA, HARE KRISHNA, KRISHNA KRISHNA, HARE HARE/ HARE RAMA, HARE RAMA, RAMA RAMA, HARE HARE.
The small temple temporarily located in West Central London at 22 Betterton Street, Covent Garden, has barely been able to contain the ever-increasing crowds at morning and evening Kirtans. Wherever and whenever Prabhupad A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami's servants chant the Holy Names in the streets of London, they are cordially received. Perhaps the people had heard us in December at the Royal Albert Hall, where over 2,000 chanted, and not less than 100 people leapt into the space between the front row and the stage to dance in ecstasy. Or maybe they had attended one of our Kirtans at the Middle Earth Round House in Chalk Farm, or at the Arts Lab in Drury Lane; or heard us on John Peel's "Night Ride"on Radio One; or read about us in Phil Oakes' "Atticus" column in the Sunday Times, which began with the aphorism, "Hare Krishna is good for you."
Visitors from all over England, from the U.S., from Holland, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Africa, Japan, India, Canada, Italy, Scotland and Australia frequent our present headquarters on Betterton Street. The temple is easily accessible via Holborn, Covent Garden, Leicester Square, and Tottenham Court underground stations, and on a number of central buses.
Very soon the British Isles will be transcendentally pervaded by the sound of HARE KRISHNA, HARE KRISHNA, KRISHNA KRISHNA, HARE HARE/ HARE RAMA, HARE RAMA, RAMA RAMA, HARE HARE.
by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
An explanation of the mystic techniques offered by the great
Yoga means the connecting link between the soul and the Supersoul, or the Supreme and the minute living creatures. Lord Sri Krishna is that Supreme, the Personality of Godhead. Being, therefore, the ultimate object of Yoga, Krishna's Name is "Yoga Iswara," the Master of Yoga.
At the conclusion of The Bhagavad Gita it is said: "Where there is Krishna and where there is Arjuna, the greatest of bowmen, there, undoubtedly, is victory."
The Bhagavad Gita is a narrative spoken by Samjaya, the secretary of Maharaj Dhritarashtra. This is just like airwaves from the radio: the play is going on in the auditorium, but you can hear from your room. So, just as we now have such a mechanical arrangement, at that time there were also certain arrangements, although there was no machine. Anyway, the secretary of Dhritarashtra could see what was going on at the battlefield, and he was in the palace telling this to Maharaj Dhritarashtra, who was blind. Now, the ultimate conclusion made by Samjaya was that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
When the Yoga performance is described, it is said that Krishna's Name is Yoga Iswara. No one can be a better yogi than the Master of Yoga, and Krishna is the Master. There are many different types of Yoga. Yoga means the system, and yogi means the person who practices that system. The object of Yoga, the ultimate goal, is to understand Krishna. Therefore, Krishna Consciousness means to practice the topmost type of Yoga.
This topmost Yoga system was described by Krishna in The Gita to His most intimate friend, Arjuna. In the beginning, the Lord said that this system can be practiced only by a person who has developed attachment for it. This Krishna conscious Yoga system cannot be practiced by an ordinary man who has no attachment for Krishna, for it is a different system, and the topmost—Bhakti Yoga.
There are five types of direct attachment to God, and there are seven types of indirect attachment. Indirect attachment is not Bhakti. Direct attachment is called Bhakti. If you are attached to Krishna by the direct method, it is called devotional service, and if you are attached to Krishna by an indirect method, it is not devotional service. But that is also attachment. King Kansa, for example, was the maternal uncle of Krishna; and there was a warning that Kansa would be killed by one of his sisters' sons. So he became very anxious about the sons of his sisters, and he decided to kill his sisters. Devaki, Krishna's mother, was saved by her husband, Vasudeva, by a compromise. The Lord's compromise was that He had Vasudeva propose to the brother-in-law: "You are afraid of the son of your sister. So your sister herself is not going to kill you." He requested, "Don't kill your sister. Save her, and I promise that all the sons born of her will be brought to you, and if you like you can kill."
Vasudeva did this in order that his poor wife might be saved. And Vasudeva thought, "When Devaki's son is born, Kansa may have a change of heart." But Kansa was such a great demon that he killed all the sons of Devaki. It was told that the eighth son of the sister would kill him. So, when Krishna was in the womb of His mother, Kansa was always thinking of Krishna. You may say that he was not Krishna conscious, but actually he was. Not directIy, not for love's sake, but as an enemy. So, that is not devotional service. One in devotional service is Krishna conscious as Krishna's friend, Krishna's servant, or Krishna's lover.
You may want Krishna as your lover, you may want Krishna as your Son, you may want Krishna as your Friend, you may want Krishna as your Master, you may want Krishna as the Supreme Sublime. These five different kinds of direct relationship with Krishna are called devotion, or Bhakti. They entail no material profit.
The concept of accepting God as a Son is superior to the concept of accepting God as a Father. There is a distinction. The relationship between father and son is that the son wants to take something from the father. The father's relationship with the son is that the father always wants to give something to the son. Therefore, the relationship with God or Krishna as Son is better then the relationship with Krishna by one who thinks, "If I accept God as my Father, then my business will be to ask for my necessities from the Father." But, if I become the father of Krishna, then from the beginning of His Childhood, my business will be to serve Him. The father is the parent of the child from the very beginning of his birth: therefore the concept of Vasudeva and Devaki is so sublime.
Krishna's foster mother Yasoda is thinking, 'If I do not feed Krishna sumptuously, He will die." She forgets that Krishna is the Supreme Lord, that He is sustaining the three worlds. She forgets that only one Lord is supplying the necessities of all the living entities. This same Personality of Godhead has become the Son of Yasoda, and she is thinking, "If I do not feed Him nicely, He will die." This is love. She has forgotten that it is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Who has appeared before her as a little Child.
This relationship of attachment is very sublime. It requires time to understand, but there is a position where, instead of asking, "Oh God, please give us our daily bread," you can instead think that God will die if you do not supply bread to Him. This is the ecstasy of extreme love. There is such a relationship between Krishna and His devotee Radharani, the greatest devotee, the greatest lover of Krishna. Mother Yasoda is His lover as a parent; Sudama is His lover as a friend; Arjuna also as a friend—there are millions and billions of different kinds of direct devotees of Krishna.
So the various Yoga systems lead to Bhakti Yoga, and Bhakti Yoga can be practiced by persons who have developed attachment to Krishna. Others cannot practice it. And, if anyone is able to develop that attachment, the relationship will be that he will understand God, Krishna, perfectly. However we may try to understand God by our different theories or speculations, it is still a difficult job. We may say that we have understood God, but it is not possible to understand Him as He is, because we have limited senses, and He is unlimited.
It is said in the Srimad Bhagwatam that our senses are imperfect, all of them. We cannot understand even the material world perfectly. You have seen so many planets and stars in the sky at night, but you do not know what they are. You do not even know what the moon planet is, though men have been trying for so many years to go there in sputniks. Even this one planet, Earth! We do not know what varieties there are even on this planet! If you go to the sea, to the sky, your perception is limited. Our knowledge is, therefore, always imperfect. On that we must agree. If we foolishly think that we have acquired all forms of knowledge, and we have advanced in science, this is another foolishness. It is not possible.
And, when it is not possible to understand even the material things which we daily see with our eyes, what can we say of the spiritual world and Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead? He is the Supreme Spiritual Form, and it is not possible to understand Him by our limited senses. Then why are we bothering so much for Krishna Consciousness, if it is not possible? If these imperfect senses cannot realize Krishna as He is? The answer is that, if you become submissive, if you develop the spiritual attitude of following Krishna, and you are as a servant or a friend, as a parent or as a lover—if you begin to give service to the Supreme Lord—then you can begin to know Him.
Your service begins with the tongue. How? By the tongue you can chant Hare Krishna, and by the tongue you can taste Krishna "Prasadam," spiritual food. So, the beginning of the process is very nice. You chant Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—and whenever Prasadam is offered to you by Krishna, by His kindness, you accept it. The result will be that—if you become submissive, and if you begin this service, chanting and eating Prasadam—Krishna will reveal Himself before you.
You can't understand Krishna by speculation; that is not possible, because your senses are imperfect. But if you begin this process of service, then it will be possible—one day Krishna will reveal to you: "I am like this," just as Krishna is revealing to Arjuna. Arjuna is a devotee, and he is submissive, and he is in contact with Krishna as a friend. Therefore Krishna is revealing to him.
The Bhagavad Gita was spoken to Arjuna—not to any Vedantist philosophical speculator. In the beginning of the Fourth Chapter, you will note that Krishna says, "I am speaking to you that ancient system of Yoga." It is atated, "Unto you." Arjuna was a Kshatriya, a fighter. He was a householder, not even a Sannyasi, not a renouncer—but these are no qualifications to understand Krishna. Then what is the qualification? This: "One who has developed the service spirit, with love and devotion, can understand Me." No other. Not Dr. Radhakrishnan or similar great learned persons; but a child can understand Krishna, if he has full faith in Him. So faith and devotion qualify one.
Simply by such faith and service you will understand that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Just as the writer is preaching Krishna Consciousness: he is not wasting your time or his own, because he is in full faith that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Theoretically or practically, you should accept Krishna, that He is the Supreme Person. Theoretically, there is the revealed scripture. You will understand from the Vedic literature, from the great devotees in the past and in the present.
For the present, there is Lord Chaitanya. Lord Chaitanya is the great authority. None is greater. He was mad after Krishna. And then, after Him, His six disciples, the Goswamis, have left us an immensely valuable literature—especially Jiva Goswami. They have written volumes on Krishna. So, under disciplic succession, we have come to this point; and if you like past history, then go back a long, long time to Vyasadeva. He is known to have written the Srimad Bhagwatam and other literature on Krishna. Srimad Bhagwatam is nothing but a description of Krishna. Vyasa is also the writer of The Bhagavad Gita. The Gita was spoken by Krishna, and noted down by Vyasa who put this Gita into the Mahabharata, his chronicle of events in the previous age of world history.
So Vyasadeva accepts Krishna as the Supreme Person. In the Srimad Bhagwatam he has given the description of the different incarnations—there are twenty-five of Them. And, in the conclusion, he says that the descriptions that are given of different incarnations are all parts of the representations of God. But Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. He is not part, but 100%—100% God. So, there is the evidence of authority.
And, practically, if we believe the "Shastras," the scriptures, then we can see: Who can be more powerful than Krishna? Who can be more beautiful than Krishna? Who can be more famous than Krishna? Krishna appeared five thousand years ago, but His knowledge, which He gave in the form of The Bhagavad Gita, is still worshiped. It is worshiped not only by the Hindus or the Indians, but is read all over the world. In your country there are at least 50 different editions of The Bhagavad Gita, written by different men. Similarly, in England, in Germany, in France and in all other countries, you will find hundreds of editions of The Gita. So, who can be more famous?
There are many other evidences, if you believe in Shastra: that Krishna married 16,108 wives, and He provided each one of them with a big palace, and each one of them had 10 children, and from the 10 children there were many other children born. So we have the evidence of revealed scriptures; and in the Brahma Samhita also, Krishna is accepted as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is a very old book, supposed to have been written by Brahma, the first living being in the universe.
In that Brahma Samhita it is said, "Iswara Parama Krishna." Iswara means God. There are many gods. It is said that there are many demigods, and there is the Supreme God. So Brahma Samhita says "Iswara Parama Krishna"—He is the God of gods. "Iswara Parama Krishna," and then: "Sat-Chit-Ananda Vigraha"—and His body is eternal, and full of bliss and knowledge. And next: "Anadi": He has no beginning, but He is the beginning of everyone. "Anadi gadi Govinda." Go means senses, Go means cow, and Go means land. So He is the Proprietor of all land, He is the Proprietor of all cows, and He is the Creator of all senses.
We are after sense pleasure, but our perfection of sense pleasure can be achieved only when we reciprocate our pleasure with Krishna. Therefore, His Name is Govinda, the Supreme Original Personality of Godhead.
The same Personality of Godhead spoke to Arjuna in The Gita. Personally, about Himself. How can you say that somebody, by his thinking, by speculation, can say something about God that is more important than what is being said by Krishna Himself? It is not possible. No one can speak better than Krishna about God, because God Himself is speaking. If you speak about yourself personally, who can say more than you? So, if you have faith, if you believe theoretically or practically in Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then, by the speeches that are delivered by Krishna in The Bhagavad Gita, you can understand God. There is no difficulty.
And, if you believe Krishna, then the result will be that you can understand God—how He is working, how His energies are acting, how He is manifesting, what is this material world, what is the spiritual world, what are the living creatures, what is their relationship—so many things are to be found in God's literature.
The whole Vedic literature deals with three things: the first is your relationship with God; then, next, after you understand your relationship with God, how to act in the spiritual way. Just as a man or woman may not be related, but as soon as the relationship is established that one is husband and the other is wife, then the dealings begin.
Once they understand their relationship with God, people generally believe that God is the Father, and the son's business is to ask father for whatever he needs. But that is really a lesser relationship. If you understand God perfectly, then there are intimate relationships also. Your intimate relationship will be revealed when you are perfectly liberated. Each and every living creature has a particular relationship with God, but we have, for now, forgotten. When that relationship is revealed in the process of devotional activities, or Krishna Consciousness, you will know that that is the perfection of your life. Krishna Consciousness is a great science, it is not a sentimental speculation regarding love. It is based on scientific propositions described in The Bhagavad Gita, in the Vedas and in the Brahma Samhita; and it is accepted by authorities like Lord Chaitanya, Ramanuja Acharya, Madhya Acharya, Narada, Asita, Vyasa—there are so many authorities. Krishna Consciousness is not an ordinary love-making or money-making business; it is reality, and if you stick to it seriously, your life will be perfect.
The Goal of Transcendental Meditation
In The Bhagavad Gita, the Sanskrit word "Mam" is frequently used. This word means "unto me." Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead says, "unto Me"—Krishna. We cannot interpret this in a different way. When I say, "Bring me a glass of water," it means that I am the person in want of the glass of water, and if you supply to me and not to others, then it is right. When Krishna says, "unto Me," that means Krishna. But philosophers are still interpreting—they say "unto something else." Even grammatically this is wrong.
One who has developed attachment to Krishna is Krishna conscious. They say if you have attachment for your lover you always think of her. That is lover consciousness. It is natural. It is stated that a woman who has another lover besides her husband shows herself very attentive to her household duties, but is always thinking, "When shall my lover and I meet in the night?" This is an example: It is possible, in spite of our false engagement, if we love somebody, to think of him always. If materially it is possible, why not spiritually? That is the whole teaching of The Bhagavad Gita.
In The Gita Krishna says to Arjuna, "As a fighter you have to fight. You cannot step away from the fighting. It is your duty." Nowadays I have practical experience that the draft board of your country is calling for boys to join the army, but they are not willing. They are not willing because they are not trained as "Kshatriyas," warriors. They are trained as "Sudras" laborers, or else as "Vaishyas," businessmen. Therefore, the caste system is very scientific. A section of people should be trained as "Brahmins," men of knowledge. Those who are intelligent enough in the society should be picked and trained in higher philosophical science. And those who are less intelligent than the Brahmins should be given military training. We require everything in society—not only military men. How can everyone be a military man? Because they are sending Sudras, ordinary workers, to Vietnam, these are unnecessarily being killed. Any country which is very proud of scientific advancement, and yet does not know how to organize its society, is a fool's society.
Organization of Society
In The Bhagavad Gita Krishna says that there are four divisions of society: Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Sudra. That is natural. Some are inclined toward spiritual advancement, and these are the Brahmins. Now we are training boys who are spiritually inclined, and they are unnecessarily being forced into military service. The foolish have no knowledge that some boy is being trained up in higher science. Why should he be destroyed when he is being perfected? The intellectual persons, those boys who have brahminical qualifications, are restrained in Brahmacharya student life: they don't take to meat-eating, they don't take part in intoxication, they don't take part in gambling, they don't take part in illicit sex. They are being trained as complete Brahmins, the highest intellectuals, the most purified persons in society. If there is one Brahmin in a whole family, then the whole family—the whole society—becomes sanctified. But today they have no knowledge of how to train a Brahmin, or how to train a Kshatriya.
In the other fields of action, in the work of Sudras and Vaishyas, there is nice training. If anyone wants to be a businessman, there are colleges or technological schools. That's very nice. But why should everyone be dragged into technology? Just as in your body: for proper maintenance we require the head, the arms, the belly and the legs. All these parts of the body are required. You cannot say, "We do not require the head." That is nonsense—we require everything. Suppose there is a body without a head—it is a dead body. If the body is now intact but there is no head, it is called a dead body. The head is to be considered the intellectual part of the body. Similarly, if there is no Brahmin in the society, it is a dead body. If there is no spiritual man in the society, it is a dead society.
Therefore Krishna says, "I have created the four divisions of society, according to quality and work." If someone is working as a Brahmachary (celibate) Brahmin, and has acquired the quality of understanding Krishna, the Supreme Lord, then why should he be called for army action? The arm of the body is the Kshatriya. Of course that is required: to protect the country, to protect the society, a military arrangement should be there. No one will disapprove. But not the Brahmins. It is putting a race horse before the work cart. A race horse is required for different purposes. The other beasts of burden—asses, mules and oxen—are required for pulling carts.
I say this frankly—everybody may read it—that any society where there are no spiritual persons or Krishna Consciousness is a rascal society, because it has no head. Where there is a headless man, there is a dead body. And if there is no brain, there is no head; if the brain is not working properly then he is a madman; if he has no head at all, then he is a dead man.
Do you think in a dead society or a mad society that there can be any peace ? No. If the society is full of madmen, then where is the question of peace? Therefore Krishna Consciousness is the most important study in present-day society. The men who are leading the society, the President and the Secretary of Defense should have the intelligence to understand this science of the soul.
The other day when I was coming to your country I met a secretary of the Japanese Government in Tokyo. I wanted to explain to him that he should cooperate with this movement, but he said, "Oh, we cannot co-operate with any religious movement." He is one of the chief secretaries of that Government, and he is such a fool. He is taking this movement as a religious movement, just like we have so many sentimental religions. But this is not sentimental. This is the necessity of society: that a class of men should be Krishna conscious. Otherwise the society is doomed, it is going to hell.
And, when such rascals are at the head of the government, how can there be peace? How can you expect peace in a dog's society? The dogs are by nature howling—"Woof! Woof! Woof!" as soon as they see other dogs. So do you mean to say there will be peace if you turn human society into dog society, into cat society, into tiger society? The tiger is very powerful; he can kill many other animals. But does that mean he is a very important animal? No, he has no use in society. And now we are very powerful, and we have good weapons to fight with, and we can kill many people. But these are no qualifications for good men or good society.
We are not meant to manufacture a society of monkeys or tigers or asses—or rascals who work very hard. Do you mean to say a society of asses will derive any benefit from life? No.
Justice and Peace
For those who have developed an attraction to Krishna, attachment can be developed. Before my coming to the West, there was no movement like this Krishna Consciousness, but now it is developing. Krishna was not born in your country, you do not accept Krishna as your religious God. But Krishna is so attractive that, although you are a foreigner, you are not foreign. To Krishna you are not a foreigner. He claims everybody. We make Him foreign, but this is our foolishness.
In The Gita Krishna says, "My dear Arjuna, there are many different forms and different species of life undoubtedly. But I am their Father." Just see how Krishna is universal. He is claiming not only human society, but animal society, bird society, beast society—everyone. He says, "I am the Father." So how can Krishna be foreign? It is a mental concoction. They say Krishna is Indian or Krishna is worshiped by the Hindus, and therefore He is one of the Hindu gods; and they think that Krishna is saying, "Yes I am the Hindu God, yes, I am Indian." But He is like the Sun: if you say it is an American Sun, that's wrong. The Sun is the Sun. Why American Sun or Indian? Nothing is American or Indian; that is all artificial.
"This planet belongs to the humans, that's all." This is your Communism. This present Communism is defective because the Russians say that Russia is for the Russians or China is for the Chinese. Why not for others? Just think in terms of human communism! Why human communism? Living being communism! If you take this world as belonging to human society, that is defective. It belongs to everyone ! It belongs to the tree community, it belongs to the beast community. They also have a right to live. Why should you cut the trees? Why should you send the bulls to the slaughterhouse? This is injustice. How can you gain justice by yourself doing injustice?
We have no Krishna Consciousness. We do not know that Krishna is the original Father, and that we are all His sons. The tree is my brother, the ant is my brother, the bull is my brother. The American is my brother, the Indian is my brother, the Chinese is my brother. Therefore we have to develop Krishna Consciousness. We talk all this nonsense of universal brotherhood and the United Nations—all nonsense. Either you acknowledge the Father, or else you have no idea of how to realize brotherhood or humanity. Therefore, they are talking for years and years. They are the same fools. Can't you see the U. N.? They have headquarters in New York. They are simply talking nonsense, that's all. That is their business. So unless there is full Krishna Consciousness, there cannot be any improvement of the world condition.
Krishna says that you have to develop your attachment for Him. Begin at the beginning, but you can do it; it is not artificial. I have a few sincere students here, just developing; they are not complete, but they are developing Krishna attachment. Otherwise, why should they waste their time chanting Hare Krishna? They are doing it, and it can be done. You can develop love for anything if you try for it. But Krishna development is very natural. Because Krishna is not a thing belonging to a particular type of religion or sect. Krishna claims, "I belong to everyone." Therefore, originally, we were all connected with Krishna, but we have simply forgotten. This process of chanting is to evoke your remembrance of Krishna. It is not that we are inducting something artificial into you. No, Krishna is already connected with you, but you have forgotten. And we are trying to give you the process—how you can revive your original consciousness. So you can come to our temple; that is the beginning. You can see Krishna or Krishna's devotees, you can chant Hare Krishna.
Krishna is not different from His Name because He is Absolute. He is non-different from His words. The Name Krishna and the Person Krishna are not different. Because everything is Krishna.
Oneness, the philosophy of monism or pantheism, is imperfect. When that Oneness comes in understanding Krishna, that is perfection. If Krishna is the Supreme Absolute Truth from Whom everything is emanating, then everything is Krishna. Just as you have a gold mine and you are preparing so many golden utensils and ornaments and many other things. But they are all gold because the original is gold. So you may name it "earring," but you have to add "gold"—golden earring. You may name it "necklace," but it is gold, because originally it came from the gold mine. Similarly, originally, everything is coming from Krishna.
If He is Supreme, the Absolute Truth, then nothing is different from Him. Just as, whether you say earring or necklace or bangle or wristwatch, these are all made of gold, and so they are gold. But, at the same time, you cannot say that this is all gold—you must say, "this is a gold necklace, this is a gold earring." The "Mayavadi," or impersonalist, will say that everything is Brahman. But "everything is Brahman" is not right.
This is very nicely explained in The Gita, in the Thirteenth Chapter: "I am expanded all over. That is My impersonal feature." Krishna is everywhere in His impersonal feature, but still He is a Person. The Mayavadi philosopher thinks that if Krishna has become everything, then where is the possibility of Krishna here, apart? This is complete rascaldom, because it is thinking in a material way, and there is no spiritual knowledge.
In the material way, suppose you take a piece of paper and tear it into particles and throw it all over. The original paper has no existence. This is material. But we get information from the Vedas that the Absolute Truth is so perfect that if you take away the whole, still the whole remains. One minus one equals one. The material way of thinking is one minus one equals zero; but spiritually it is not like that. Spiritually, one minus one equals one, and one plus one equals one also.
Krishna is everything. The Mayavadis, the impersonalists, see our deities here and say, "Oh, they have installed some wooden forms and they are worshiping them as God." But one who knows Krishna science understands that Krishna is everything; and therefore He can appear in everything. With electricity, the current is everywhere along the line, so wherever you touch you will feel it. Similarly, the Krishna current in His impersonal Form is everywhere, and it is the technician who knows how to use the force. Before we have a phone installed, we have a telephone conversation, and we simply inform the person, before we even talk money, that he should come immediately to find out where the connection can be made. And he comes out and does his work; and we do not notice, because he knows the technique. So, one must know how to connect with Krishna. Krishna is everywhere—this is Krishna Consciousness. But one must know how he can derive Krishna from the features of Krishna's form in wood or iron or metal.
Everywhere you have to learn how to contact Krishna, in everything. That is explained in the system of Yoga. Krishna Cosciousness is also Yoga, the perfect Yoga, the highest of all yogic aystems. A yogi may come and we can challenge him, saying that this is the top Yoga system, though at the same time it is very simple. You don't have to exercise your body over a period of weeks before you feel some power. But in Krishna Consciousness you won't feel tired. All of our students are simply anxious to be overloaded with work in Krishna Consciousness. "Swamiji, what can I do?" And they are actually doing it. In the material world, if you work for some time you'll feel weak.
Of course, I am not exercising myself. I am an old man of 72 years. I was ill, I went back to India, but I want to work. Actually, I could retire from all these activities, but so far as I can, I want to work, I want to learn day and night. At night I will work with the dictaphone, and I am sorry if I cannot work. It is not an idle society. No, we have sufficient engagements: editing papers, selling papers.
Simply find out how Krishna conscious you can be. If you want to be really at peace, if you want to be happy, then develop Krishna Cosciousness. And the beginning is to develop attachment for Krishna. The process which we have prescribed is chanting and dancing before the deities, and offering "Prasadam," spiritual food. This will make you more Krishna conscious.
The Yoga system as it is described in The Bhagavad Gita is different from the bogus Yoga system which is going on in the West these days. The Yoga systems which have been introduced into the West by so-called yogis are not bona fide. Yoga is difficult: the first thing is to control the senses. That is the position of the yogi: he is not allowed to indulge in sex life. If you indulge in intoxication, if you indulge in meat eating, and if you indulge in gambling and sporting—all nonsense—you cannot at the same time become a yogi. I was astonished when a yogi came here, having advertised in India that you can be a yogi even though you may be addicted to drinking. This is not the Yoga system. This is not standard. You can call it Yoga, but it is not the standard Yoga system.
The Yoga system is especially difficult for this age. In the Srimad Bhagwatam we understand that yogic transcendental meditation means to concentrate one's attention on the Superself, Vishnu. He is situated in your heart. And, in order to concentrate your attention, you have to control the senses. The senses are working just like enfuriated horses. If you cannot control the horses of your carriage, it will be dangerous. Just imagine that you are seated in a carriage and your horses are so furious that they are dragging you to hell. Then what is your position?
The Yoga system means to control these senses. The senses are also compared to serpents: The serpent does not know who is its friend and who is its enemy. It bites anyone. And, as soon as the serpent bites, the result is death. Similarly, if the uncontrolled senses work in their own way, then you should know that you are in a dangerous position.
It has been said that, when one becomes too sensuous, he loses his temper, he loses his identity, he forgets himself. Enfuriated by the senses, a man will attack even his children, even his daughter. Therefore, for those who are advancing in spiritual life—not only for them but for everyone—the Shastra, the scripture, says that you should not sit in a secluded place even with your mother, even with your daughter or your sister. Why? Because the senses are so strong that if they become enfuriated, you will forget whether she's mother, sister or daughter.
You may say that this may be true only for some foolish persons, but Shastra says no—you should not sit in a secluded place even with your mother, sister or daughter, because the senses are so strong that, even though you may be very moral, you may still be attracted by sex.
Our position in this world, our suffering in this world, is due to the body. This body is the cause of all miseries, and the ultimate goal of life should be to get out of this material body, and be situated in the spiritual body. This is a foreign atmosphere. The soul is free spiritually, but it has been conditioned by this material atmosphere. And the body is of this matter.
A human being is fit to enquire as to whether I am this body or something else. This can be understood very easily. I am not this body, because at the time of death the body remains—although everyone cries, "Oh, the poor man is gone !" The man is lying there. Why do you say he is gone? He is lying there. At that time, we can come to our senses, that the body is not the man. The real man is gone. The childhood body is changed to the youthful body, and the childhood body is gone. Similarly, the boyhood body is gone, and you'll have to accept a body like mine an old man's body.
The body is changing. Not only year after year, but at every second the body is changing. Still, you are situated there. This is very simple to understand. And because the body is there, we are suffering. Everyone is trying to get out of suffering, in any field of action: in the economic field, in the political field, or any field of activity, social or national, everyone is trying to get out of misery. There is no other activity. Either nationally or socially, individually or collectively—we are all suffering, and this suffering is due to the body.
Yoga means to enquire, What am I? If I am not this body, then what am I? I am pure soul. Now, if my bodily activities or sensual activities are incorrect, I will not be able to understand myself. Therefore, the purpose of Yoga is to understand oneself—what I am—and The Bhagavad Gita says that we are all grand fools. Why fools? Since we have this body, we are fools. If somebody invites you to come to his apartment, but you know it is full of danger, do you think you would like to go there? "Oh no," you will say. "I am not going there. If it is full of danger, why shall I go?" Similarly, don't you think that the body is full of danger? Then, why are you going there, taking repeated birth? When you are flying in a plane, you are always fearful that there may be a crash. And what is this crashing? It is due to the body. The soul cannot be affected by crashes. But you are always afraid.
The soul is ever-existing, and the body will not exist. And because you are existing and the soul has accepted the non-existing body, therefore you suffer.
The problem, then, is how to get out, just as you try to get out of a fever. The fevered condition is not your permanent life. Permanent life is enjoyment, but due to the fever you cannot enjoy life. When you are sick you cannot go out, you have to rest and take so many medicines and formulas. But we don't want that—"Why should I be a sick person?" But you are diseased. Similarly, we should always know that this bodily conditional stage of the pure soul is a diseased condition. And anyone who does not understand this truth, that "I am pure soul," is defeated in all his activities.
Lord Jesus Christ taught like that: If you lose your soul and gain the whole world, what do you gain? People do not know what they are, and yet they work just like madmen. Just see, all these people are working, and they are madmen. They are not Americans or Indians, Germans or Japanese. They are nothing of the kind. They have been given a chance to come to this naughty place, this Earth; and so, being born in a particular place they have a particular kind of body—and they are mad after that.
The Bhagavad Gita says that, just as we change our outer garments, so this body is changed. Transcendental meditation means the yogic process of getting out of this material embodiment. Just as you are repeating changes of dress, so you are repeating birth and death, and this is the cause of your miseries. If you do not understand this, then all your activities end in defeat.
Yoga means to get out of this embodiment, and it means to know oneself. This body is born of the parents. Similarly, as pure soul, you are also the source of its birth. We do not mean birth beginning historically from a certain day, and ending on a certain day. No; the soul is not like that—it has no beginning, and it has no end. But in The Bhagavad Gita it is said that the soul is part and parcel of God: God is eternal, God is full of joy and bliss. The position of the Absolute Person, the Godhead, is Sat-Chit-Ananda Vigraha: full of bliss, eternal, and full of knowledge. And, because we are also part and parcel of the Supreme, we have partial blissfulness, eternity, and we are full of knowledge—according to our infinitesimal size.
The human beings are understood to be the most intelligent of all living creatures, but they are misusing their intelligence. How? They are misusing their intelligence by devoting it to the animal propensities. These animal propensities are: eating, sleeping, mating and fearing. You can analyze the trend of modern civilization: everyone is busy with these four principles of animal life. They are sleeping and creating some cushions for comfortable sleep. They are creating palatable dishes for the eating propensity. They are exciting sex very nicely, for the mating necessity. And they are defending their country with so many atom bombs—that is the fear propensity.
But these symptoms you will find among the animals. They are also sleeping according to their own ways, and they are defending. You can kill your enemy, or he can kill you, but there is actually no defense. You cannot defend yourself; wherever you drop the bomb, it will hurt you, due to nuclear radiation. So this is not the solution of your problems. The solution of your problems is to get out of the conditioned state of life. That is called Yoga—to link yourself to the Supreme.
There is a Supreme. This material Creation is so nice—don't you think there is a Friend behind it? The sky is so beautiful, the foodstuff is being produced, the Sun is rising in due course, the Moon is rising in due course, supplying heat for your health, supplying heat to the planetary systems. Everything is arranged very nicely, and yet the fools say there is no brain behind it; it is all happening automatically.
The fact is that there is God, Krishna, and we are all parts and parcels of Krishna. We have been conditioned in some way or other in this material atmosphere. But now we have this human form of life, and so we have to get out of the entanglement. But getting out is not possible. You cannot get out of the entanglement of the material body unless you develop your Krishna Consciousness. Krishna Consciousness is not artificial—don't think that. This International Society of ours is not another political tool. This is the greatest necessity of the human being. Krishna Consciousness, God consciousness, is there within you. Don't you find, when there is a Kirtan performance, that the more innocent a person is, the sooner he begins to chant and dance? Immediately, the child begins to clap, begins to dance. This is within them; and it is very simple, this Krishna Consciousness.
So, unless you develop Krishna Consciousness, there is no rescue from the entanglement of conditioned life. This you have to understand. This is not some sentiment. No, it is a great science. You have to understand it nicely. Then the human form of life will be successful, and otherwise it is defeated. You may become a very great nation, but that is not the solution to the problem of life.
By the grace of Krishna, I am able to serve you with my life's energy. I left the United States in 1967 in poor health; but life and death—everything—depends on Krishna. I thought, Let me go back to Vrindaban, because Vrindaban is a sanctified place where Krishna Consciousness is very strong. I thought that I might go there and die in Krishna Consciousness. Of course, if you are always in the atmosphere of Krishna Consciousness, then here also you can have Vrindaban. Vrindaban is not a particular place that is called Vrindaban. Krishna says, "It is not that I live in the Kingdom of God, Vaikuntha; nor is it that I live in the heart of the yogi." The yogi wants to find out where Krishna is within the heart. But Krishna says, "I am not in the abode in the spiritual sky, nor am I in the heart of the yogi." Then where are You? Krishna says, "I stay where My pure devotees are chanting My glories." That is Vrindaban.
So, if that is Vrindaban, then I am there. There is no difference. Wherever there is electric light, there is electricity. It is naturally understood. Similarly, wherever there is Krishna Consciousness, it is Vrindaban. We can create Vrindaban by the mercy of Krishna, if we chant Hare Krishna. Perfect this Krishna Cosciousness, try to understand the philosophy behind it. It is a science, not a bluff. We can speak from any angle of vision.
Krishna Consciousness is the great necessity of human society. Learn it and appreciate it, comprehend and assimilate it—and teach it. It is very simple. If you offenselessly chant Hare Krishna, everything will be revealed from within. Because Krishna is sitting within you. If you are strong and have faith and conviction in Krishna, as well as the spiritual master—the transparent medium to Krishna—then Krishna is there. The Vedas say that if you have implicit faith in God and implicit faith in your bona fide Guru who teaches you Krishna Consciousness, then the result will be that all the Vedic scriptures will be revealed authoritatively.
The process is spiritual; it does not require any material qualifications. The speculators who are not realized souls are covered in delusion, and are simply wasting their time. Whatever they may do in their official class, they remain the same foolish rascals. But our Krishna conscious students will feel a change in their lives, a change in happiness—and a change in youth, also This is reality.
I shall request you, my dear young girls and boys, to take to Krishna Consciousness very seriously, and you will be happy, your life will be perfected It will be the sublime addition to your life. It is not a bluff. I have not come here to collect some money. Money is supplied by Krishna. I am going back and forth to India—not only I but my students as well—and for a rich man there would be many expenditures. It would cost $10,000 for such trips. But our business is Krishna, and He will supply. I do not know where the money comes from, but Krishna supplies. In Krishna Consciousness, you will be happy. You are the young generation, you are the flower of your country and society. Practice Krishna Cosciousness, this most sublime system of transcendental meditation. Be happy and make others happy. This is the real mission of life.
Identity and Meditation
The Bhagavad Gita says that out of many thousands of human beings, one may try to make perfection of his life. Man is an animal, but he has one special prerogative, rational thought. What is that rational thought? Reasoning power, argument. Now, reasoning power is there in dogs and cats as well. Suppose a dog comes up to you; if you say, "Hut!"—he'll understand. The dog will understand that you don't want him. So, he has some reasoning power. But what is the special reasoning power of the human being?
So far as the bodily necessities are concerned, the reasoning power is there even in the animal. If a cat wants to steal some milk from your kitchen, she has very nice reasoning power: she is always looking to see when the master is out and she can take. So, for the four propensities of animal life eating, sleeping, mating and defending—there is reasoning power even in the beasts. Then, what is the special reasoning power of the human being, by which he is called THE rational animal?
The special reasoning power is to inquire, "Why am I suffering?" This is special reasoning. The animals are suffering. But human beings are making scientific advancement and philosophical advancement, cultural advancement, religious advancement—progress in so many lines—because they want to be happy. "Where is the point of happiness?" This reasoning power is especially given to the human being. Therefore, in The Gita, Krishna says, "Out of many men, one may know Me."
Generally, the people are just like animals. They simply do not know anything beyond the necessities of the body: how to eat, how to sleep, how to mate and how to defend. And The Bhagavad Gita says, out of many thousands, somebody may develop this reasoning power: "Why am I suffering?" He asks this question: "Why am I suffering?" I do not want to suffer, but suffering is forced upon me. Suppose I do not want too much cold—but too much cold and too much heat are forced upon us.
When there is some impetus to awaken this reasoning power, it is called "Brahma Jijnasa." This is found in the Vedanta Sutra. The first verse says that now, this human form of life, is meant for asking the question of how to solve the problem of suffering.
So Krishna says that this special prerogative of the human being awakens not very easily, except by some association. Just as we have this Krishna conscious association. If we attain such association, where nice things are discussed, then that awakening of reason—that special prerogative of the human being—will come. So long as this question does not arise in one's mind, he should understand that whatever activities he is doing will all lead to his defeat. He is simply leading an animal life. But, not when these questions arise: Why am I suffering? What am I? Am I meant for suffering? Am I meant for troubles?
I am undergoing troubles by Nature's laws and by the state's laws. So the question of freedom is how to become free from all these troubles. The Vedanta Sutra also says that the soul—my actual self—is by nature joyful. Yet, I am suffering. Lord Krishna further says that when these questions arise, gradually one comes to God. Those who have awakened to these questions are said to be on the path of perfection. And, when the question of God and our relationship with God comes, that is our final perfection of life.
Now, Krishna says that out of many thousands of people one may try to make perfection of this life; and out of many millions of such persons on the path of perfection, only one may understand Krishna. So understanding Krishna is not very easy. But it is also the easiest. It is not easy, but at the same time it is the easiest. It is the easiest if you follow the prescribed forms.
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has introduced this chanting of Hare Krishna. He has not exactly introduced it; it is in the scriptures. But He has especially propagated this formula. In this age this is the easiest method of self realization. Simply chant Hare Krishna. It can be done by everyone. In my classroom, I am perhaps the only Indian. So, it is imported from India, but that does not mean it is Indian. My students are all Americans, they are taking part in the chanting very nicely, chanting and dancing. That means that, in any country, in any place, this thing can be performed. Therefore it is the easiest. You may not understand the philosophy of The Bhagavad Gita. That is also not very difficult; but still, if you think that you cannot understand, you can still chant very easily: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna.
If we want to understand God, Krishna, this is the beginning. The easiest beginning—simply chanting. Now, there are many students of my ISKCON institution. This institution is open a little over a year, but some of the students, by simply chanting, by the Grace of Krishna, have advanced in such a way that they can talk about the science of God, and they will very easily answer those human questions. So, this is the easiest method of transcendental meditation.
Krishna says that out of many millions of people, one may understand Him. But, by the chanting of this Hare Krishna as introduced by Lord Chaitanya—chanting and dancing—you can understand Krishna within a very short time. Knowledge begins not from Krishna, but from things which we are accustomed to see every day.
Advancement in Knowledge
Land is gross. If you touch it, you can feel its hardness. But, as soon as the land becomes still finer, it is water, and the touch is soft. And then again, from water to fire, still finer. After fire or electricity the air is still finer; and after air, the sky, ether, is finer still. Beyond ether, the mind is still finer; and beyond the mind, intelligence is still finer. And, if you go beyond intelligence to understand the soul, it is finer still.
From these elements people have discovered so many sciences. There are many scientists, for example, who are soil experts; they can say, by analyzing a particular type of earth, what kind of minerals are there. Somebody seeks out oil, somebody seeks out gold, somebody seeks out mica—so many things. This is knowledge of gross things—the earth. If you go to finer substances, then you study water, or liquid things, such as petrol and alcohol. Go still finer, and from water you will go to fire and electricity. If you study electricity, you have to study all sorts of books. And, from this finer fire, you will come to air. We have so much advancement in our airplanes; we are studying how they move, how they are made—now sputniks and jets—so many things are being discovered.
Next comes the study of the ethereal: electronics, ethereal transformations from one thing to another. Then, finer still, is the mind—psychology and psychiatry. But for intelligence, rationalism, there is only a little philosophical speculation. And what about the soul? Is there any science of the soul? The materialists have none. Material science has advanced to the study of ether, or the mind and intelligence, but there is no advancement beyond that. Beyond intelligence, they do not know what exists. But in The Bhagavad Gita you can find this.
The Bhagavad Gita begins at the point after intelligence. When Arjuna was perplexed at the outset, his intelligence was perplexed—whether to fight or not to fight. Krishna begins The Gita from the point where intelligence fails. How does knowledge of the soul begin? It is just like a child playing. You can understand this child's body is now so small, but one day this child will be grown up, like you or me. But the same soul will continue. So, by intelligence, you can understand that though the body is changed, the soul is there. The same soul which was existing in the body of the child is still continuing in the body of the old man. Therefore the soul is permanent, and only the body has changed. This is a very easy thing to understand. And the last change of this body is death.
As at every moment, every second, every day, every hour, the body is changing, so the last change is when one cannot act with the body, and so he has to take another one. Just as, when my cloth is too worn out or old, I cannot put it on; I have to take a new cloth. It is similar with the soul. When the body is too old or unworkable, I have to change to another body. This is called death.
This is the beginning of The Gita, when the preliminary knowledge of the soul is there. And you wil find that there are only a few who can understand the existence of the soul as permanent, and of the body as changeable. Therefore Bhagavan, Lord Krishna, says that, out of many, many millions of people, one may understand it. But still, the knowledge is there. If you want to understand it, it is not difficult. You can understand it.
Now, we should inquire into the existence of the ego, the finest material substance. What is ego? I am pure soul, but with my intelligence and mind I am in contact with matter, and I have identified myself with matter—and this is false ego. I am pure soul, but I am identifying falsely. For example, I am identifying with the land, thinking that I am Indian, or that I am American. This is called "Ahamkar." Ahamkar means the point where the pure soul touches matter. That junction is called Ahamkar. Ahamkar is still finer than intelligence.
Krishna says that these are the eight material elements: earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego. False ego meas false identification. Our nescient life has begun from this false identification—thinking that I am this matter, although I am seeing every day, at every moment, that I am not this matter. Study your own child, and you will see that the soul is not matter. Soul is permanently existing, while matter is changing. This misconception, this illusion, is called Ahamkar, false ego. And your liberation means when you are out of this false ego. What is that status? "Aham Brahmasmi." I am Brahman, I am spirit. That is the beginning of liberation.
Of course, one may be suffering from disease, from fever, and the temperature may come down to normal, 98.6 degrees. So he is now normal, but that is not the cure. Suppose for two days he has a 98.6 degree temperature, but with a slight change of diet, a slight change of behavior, the temperature rises immediately to 100. Relapse. Similarly, simply understanding, simply purifying the mind, rejecting this false Ahamkar identification—I am not this body, I am not this matter; I am soul—this is not liberation. It is only the beginning of liberation. If you stick to this point, and continue—just as you might continue your activities and keep your temperature at 98.6 degrees—then you are a healthy man.
For example, in the West now there is some propaganda for taking intoxication. The people want to forget the bodily existence. But how long will you forget? There will be a relapse. You can forget for one hour or two, by intoxication, and think that I am not this body. But unless you are actually on the platform of understanding yourself by knowledge, it is not possible to continue. Still, everyone is trying to think, "I am not this body." Because they have experience that, by bodily identification, they are suffering so much, and so, "If only I could forget my bodily identification!"
This is only a negative conception. When you actually realize yourself, that "I am Brahman," simply understanding Brahman will not do. You have to engage yourself in the activities of Brahman. Otherwise you will fall down. Simply flying very high is no solution to the problem of going to the Moon. Even if you go 25 million miles, still you are limited. So this will not do. If you at all want to go high, you must have shelter. If you can take rest there, then you cannot fall down. But if you have no rest, then you will have to fall down. The airplane goes so high, seven miles, eight miles up from the Earth, but it comes down immediately.
So, simply understanding Ahamkar meas no more than understanding the false identification. Simply understanding that I am not matter, I am soul, is not perfection. The impersonalist, the Void philosopher, simply thinks of the negative, that I am not this matter, I am not this body. This will not stay. You have to not only realize that you are not matter, but you have to engage yourself in the spiritual world. And that spiritual world means to be working in Krishna Consciousness. That spiritual world, that functioning of our real life, is Krishna Cosciousness.
False ego I have already explained. It is neither matter nor spirit, but the junction—where the spirit soul comes into contact with matter, and forgets himself. It is just as, in delirium, a man is diseased and his brain becomes puzzled, and gradually he forgets himself and becomes a madman. He is gradually forgetting. So there is the beginning of loss, and there is one point where he forgets. That beginning point is called Ahamkar, or false ego.
Transcendental meditation, chanting the Maha Mantra—Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—is the process not merely of putting an end to this false conception of the self, but goes beyond that, to the point where the pure spirit soul engages in his eternal, blissful, all-knowing activities in the loving service of God. This is the height of conscious development, the ultimate goal of all living entities now evolving through the cycles and species of material Nature.
A Poem on the Passing of Thakur Haridas
He reasons ill who says that Vaishnavas die
Invoking the Name of Krishna
O when will that day be mine,
Deeming myself more lowly than the blade of grass,
Wealth, following, the beautiful maid of poesy,
In articulating the Name of Sri Krishna,
O when at Nabadwip by the bank of the celestial stream,
O when will Nityananda out of pity
When shall I secure and gather the Rasa
O when will my compassion for all fallen souls manifest itself?
By Hanumanprasad Poddar
Mr. Poddar is widely known for his beneficial work as Controlling Editor of India's leading religious magazine, KALYANA KALPATARU, and is the motivating force behind the renowned Gita Press.
Gross rationalism is the order of the day, and to raise one's voice against the same may be regarded as a betrayal of thickheadedness. To those of my readers, however, who have a devotional temperament, I venture to submit with great humility my views on the subject, which are directly concerned with the path of Devotion. By opposing rationalism I should not be misunderstood as totally denouncing reason. Wisdom consists in making use of reason, which is essential for devotion; but, in the event of our reasoning faculty developing to such an extent that it may give rise to wrong notions in our mind and sap the vital fluid of reverence for sacred things, a wise devotee would do well to bid adieu to such reason, and fall back upon faith.
By "gross" rationalism I mean sophistical or perverse reasoning, which is a great hindrance on the path of Devotion. An excess of reasoning in spiritual culture involves greater risk of fall than blind faith. Those who are given to reasoning, squander away the most valuable time of their lives in hairsplitting. They cannot remain steadfast in any spiritual discipline whatsoever. Those, however, who are equipped with faith utilize their time in traversing a considerable distance of their journey towards their destination.
Ramakrishna Paramhansa used to repeat a parable in this connection: Two friends visited a mango grove. One of them busied himself in taking measurements, counting the number of trees comprised therein and assessing its value, while the other sat down and began to enjoy the very best mangoes, with the permission of the keeper of the grove. Now let us decide who is the wiser of the two—the man who kept himself busy in counting the trees or he who ate the mangoes. Reason tells us that the latter is undoubtedly the wiser, inasmuch as be chooses the substance and derives satisfaction. Similarly, it is by betaking oneself to God with a devout heart that one secures genuine bliss.
Truth cannot be realized by unremitting study of the Scriptures, by passing examinations, testing scholarly knowledge, by dint of intellectual power, or by outwitting unsophisticated folk in verbal jugglery by enmeshing them in the cobweb of sophistry. The subtle reason which is necessary for investigating truth cannot be had by reasoning: it can be had only with the help of pure faith flowing from a guileless heart and by surrendering oneself to the Lord; for the divine faculty can be attained by Divine Grace only. To quote the words of the Lord Himself, the following are eligible for obtaining such faculty from the Lord:
Those who have their mind fixed on Me alone, who have dedicated their very lives to Me, who talk of Me at every moment, trying to edify one another, who are ever contented and pleased,
On those ever united (with Me) and remembering Me with love I am pleased to confer that intellectual equipment by means of which they are enabled to reach Me. (Gita 10.9-10)
It is this intellectual equipment that we should verily acquire. That is the supreme art and the highest science. For without it we can never grasp the real truth, and without comprehending the real truth we cannot secure supreme happiness. We may feel gratified to think that the promotion of arts and crafts and the progress of scientific discoveries and inventions have advanced our material welfare; but what is the value of this welfare in our mortal existence? Death is bound to come and with it the extinction of all earthly happiness and prosperity as something belonging to dream-life. No amount of technical and scientific knowledge can arm us against the horrible pangs of death. A holy man was once pleased to narrate a parable in this connection, which is reproduced below:
Once upon a time a young man who had just finished his education and had acquired proficiency in several arts and sciences was crossing a stream by means of a boat. He looked at the azure sky and asked the boatman whether he knew astronomy. "No," said the boatman, "I have never heard this name." The youth observed that the boatman had wasted a quarter of his life, and pitied his lot. Not long afterwards the youth came in sight of beautiful green fields and trees rich with foliage on the banks of the river, and enquired of the boatman if he had a knowledge of Botany. The boatman again replied in the negative, on which the young man remarked that he had recklessly wasted half of his life if he had not learnt Botany. The young man then gazed on the swift-running stream and asked the boatman if he knew Mathematics. To this the boatman again gave a negative reply, adding that he did not know even the rudiments of a science, and that he made his living on rowing. The youth took him to be a damned idiot and spoke to him scornfully thus:
"What do you know about these sciences, a fool as you are? You have wasted three-quarters of your life."
While the conversation was thus going on, a furious storm came up all of a sudden. The waters of the river rose high, the boat began to toss about and was in no time filled with water. Seeing danger ahead, the boatman jumped into the water and began to swim. The young man, who could not swim in spite of all his scientific knowledge, now realized the seriousness of the situation, his own helplessness, and the futility of his versatile knowledge, and the words "God! save me!" escaped from his lips even against his will. The boatman, while swimming, asked him whether he did not know swimming. The young man piteously replied that he did not.
The boatman felt great sympathy for the young man and said, "Indeed, I am very sorry for you. Your whole life has been wasted. Please remember the Lord now."
Just as one who does not know swimming cannot but be drowned when left to himself in water, however proficient he may be in the various arts and sciences, so no amount of secular education or learning can enable us to cross the ocean of worldly existence, which is full of misery. It is therefore futile and foolish to pride on these. The goal of human life is to learn that art and acquire that proficiency which can enable us to cross the unfortunate ocean of metempsychosis, and to secure everlasting freedom from the pinching bonds of sins and afflictions, grief and doubt, disease and death; and this cannot be acquired by reasoning. Subtle reason or the higher form of devotion is that art. By this alone can one fully realize the essence of truth of the Divine Principle and secure immunity from afflictions.
Reasoning or intellectual power alone cannot enable one to apply one's mind to devotion. In fact, devotion is not capable of being put to the test of reason. Mahatma Gandhi, while writing on the glories of the Divine Name in one of the old numbers of the KALYANA observed that the greatness of the Divine Name cannot be proved by reason; it can only be realized by means of faith. He is perfectly right in saying so. When even the greatness of the Divine Name cannot be conceived by reason, how ridiculous it is to seek to know God, whose Maya (enrapturing power) makes the world appear totally different from what it really is, by means of intellect or reasoning. The fact that a particular individual cannot prove the existence of God by means of reasoning does not negate His existence. However much man may take pride in disproving God, engrossed as man is in sensuous pleasures, his intellect clouded by infatuation; however much he may prattle and pride on his intellectual capacity, his doing so cannot make any difference in the existence and perpetuity of God. Of course, one who is proud of his intellectual powers and is infatuated by the charms of Maya is carried away far from the possibility of realizing the truth. It is futile to endeavour to bring round those who regard God as disproved, even though His existence is patent at every step. They will not be persuaded to believe in Him even if He were to appear in Person before them. When Lord Sri Krishna manifested His wonderful Universal Form in the Court of King Dhritarashtra and kept the whole assemblage spell-bound, Duryodhana, due to his captious nature, refused to believe in His divinity. Besides this, God does not feel the necessity of convincing the dialecticians of His existence by appearing before them in Person. They alone are able to realize Him through His Grace who betake themselves to the Lord with reverence and naive faith. It has been well said by Goswami Tulasidas:
He alone is able to know You to whom You make Yourself known.
The incredulous who give undue importance to their reasoning faculty, dismiss the revelations of devotees from Prahlada and Dhruva down to Tulasidas, Suradas, Mira, Narasi, Chaitanya and others of the mediaeval times as fictitious. To these people they are the outcome of the wild imagination of dreaming poets or stories concocted by the blind followers and admirers of the devotees themselves. For them it is just like that. The existence of God is a fact realized and substantiated by eminent saints and seers through a prolonged course of austere penance. God, however, would not care to get Himself substantiated. Hence it is impossible for those who do not recognize Him to attain Him. But no one should be misled to think that unbelievers are exempt from the operation of the Divine Laws. Under the Divine Dispensation, Nature (Prakriti) invariably causes the good and evil cosequences of their actions to accrue to them, and they are bound to reap the fruits of their actions even though unwilling to do so. Of course, those who do not recognize His existence are no longer afraid of Him, and absence of the fear of God is the principal factor in encouraging an individual to indulge in sinful deeds. Those who do not entertain any fear of divine retribution do not scruple in perpetrating the most heinous crimes.
Man is saved from falling into sin mainly by five kinds of fears: (1) fear of God, (2) fear of morality, (3) fear of society, (4) fear of state laws and (5) fear of bodily harm. Man abstains from committing adultery, for instance, for fear of displeasing God, destroying merit, incurring opprobium in society or being ostracized, being convicted by a court of law and spoiling bodily health. Out of these five considerations the first two are the most important; for it is these considerations which deter a man from committing mental sins of horrible nature. A man will surely forbear from a sinful act as soon as he comes to realize that God, Who is omnipresent and the inner Controller of all, is witnessing it, or that it will destroy his merit. But where both these considerations are absent there is no scruple left to deter him from committing mental sins at least. The absence of these two considerations is also helpful in inciting one to commit even bodily sins or those pertaining to speech. One who is Godfearing and scrupulous continues to regard himself as guilty even though he may be acquitted by a court of law or exonerated by society.
There are quite a number of cases in which the true facts never come to the notice of the Government or society. Even if the Government or society suspects a particular individual, he is held not-guilty in the absence of sufficient ocular proof. That is why habitual offenders who do not entertain fear of God or morality persist in their sinful activities by evading the law or destroying tangible proof incriminating them. Fear of Government or society does not prove effective in putting a stop to their crimes. That is why the tendency to perpetrate crimes by evading the law, as well as the number of crimes, is increasing with great rapidity, notwithstanding the fact that fresh enactments are being added to the Statute Books every day with a view to check crimes. The main cause of this deplorable state of affairs is that fear of God and the Divine Law has more or less disappeared, with the consequence that our life has become unbridled, licentious and sinful.
The ever-new accretions to the body of laws, while they enable accomplished offenders to escape scot-free through their resourcefulness, are proving a source of great hardship to unsophisticated innocent folk who are unable to defend themselves and prove their innocence and are ignorant of legal chicanery. The result is that in course of time they find themselves compelled by force of circumstances to acquire a criminal tendency. It is regretable that the world is fast drifting towards such a deplorable state of affairs. It is absence of fear of God and the Divine Law that makes even those who proclaim themselves theists and believers to cast amorous glances at ladies even in places of worship, and thus aggravate their sins. Imposters in the garb of Acharyas, missionaries and religious heads, are engaged in exploiting the masses in the name of God, and sacrifice the interests of their country and community at the altar of personal gain in a clandestine way by posing as patriots and servants of their community. Things are going from bad to worse day by day even as fear of God and the Divine Law is gradually diminishing.
Fear of injuring one's health is the only consideration that is effective in deterring men from committing sins. But, in the first instance, all sins do not involve the risk of injuring one's health; and, secondly, one can succeed to a certain extent in arming oneself against this risk. Although it is true that hypocrisy is fast gaining ground under the names of God and Religion, and true lovers of God and truly religious men can be counted on fingers, and although it is equally true that the existence and growth of an empty Godless rationalism is largely traceable to the above-mentioned facts, it must be admitted that such a type of rationalism can never enable the world to grasp the real truth. It will gradually tend to extinguish the faint light of faith that still lingers in the minds of sincere people, and the result will be a reign of unbridled license all around. It is equally true, on the other hand, that a religion which rests on blind faith cannot exist eternally. But this is not the case with our religion. This eternal God-inspired religion, founded by Indian sages and seers-which can easily stand as a universal religion embracing as it does the truths of all other religions of the world-is not so hollow and does not stand on flimsy grounds. The fundamental truths of this religion can be grasped only with the help of a highly refined intellect or mental faculty, and such a faculty cannot be acquired by mere reasoning. It can be had only by long practice of devotion.
Real worship of God is not possible without faith. One may not have studied the sacred books, one may be lacking in scriptural knowledge, yet he can approach God by mere faith. Hence it is that even those who are inferior in birth, social status, learning, riches, physical strength, appearance, reputation, merit and so on, but who are exclusively and faithfully devoted to the Lord and regard Him as the sole Object of their love, have been recognized as eligible for betaking themselves to the Lord, to whatever sex they may belong. This is what Prahlada says:
I hold the pariah who has dedicated his mind, speech, activity, money, nay, his very life to God Vishnu, the Supreme Lord, far superior to a Brahmin endowed with twelvefold virtues; for whereas the former can purify his whole ancestry, the Brahmin who is puffed up with pride cannot. (Srimad Bhagwatam 7.9.7)
God can be attained by those alone who betake themselves to the Lord with supreme faith, as is corroborated by the Lord Himself:
They who with their mind fixed on Me and constantly engaged in remembering Me worship Me, with faith supreme endowed; these, in My opinion, are the best of yogis. (Gita XII, 2)
The concluding verse of the same chapter, which has been designated as Bhakti Yoga, runs:
The devotees who endowed with faith and sole devotion to Me, partake of this life-giving wisdom as stated above, (in other words, who worship Me in accordance with the precepts laid down in the previous verses), are surpassingly dear to Me. (Gita 17.20)
The above exposition establishes it beyond doubt that worship is impossible without faith, that without worship one cannot feel the Divine Grace, that no one can attain God or the real truth without His Grace, and that without realizing God one cannot be rid of afflictions for all time to come.
It therefore behooves us all to guard against falling into the meshes of sophistical reasoning, and to acquire faith by moulding our conduct in accordance with the principles inculcated in the Scriptures dealing with Devotion; and, developing the faith thus generated into supreme devotion, to engage in genuine worship of God in order that we may be able to attain Him Who is the Supreme Goal of human existence as early as possible. The span of our life is very short, and time once gone never comes back. Let us then be up and doing, losing no time in vain and frivolous pursuits.
By Satsvarupa das
From the most ripened vedic wisdom, Srimad Bhagavatam comes this story of sublime devotion
Prahlad Maharaj was a boy who, at 5 years of age, preached to his school-fellows of their urgent need for taking to Krishna Consciousness without delay. Prahlad was the son of a very powerful atheist king, Hiranya Kashipu, and so from the moment of his birth he was in the hands of "Daityas," or enemies of God. The nurses who picked him up, the court attendants, his mother, the court children-all were obsessed with the illusion that the body is the self, and there was no talk of Krishna, the Supreme Spirit. Like most boys born into our contemporary civilization, Prahlad's chances for hearing any truth about the Supreme Personality of Godhead were almost nil.
And yet, every day, when the teacher would take a recess and leave the palace schoolroom, this 5-year-old boy would address his fellows in this way: "My dear atheist friends, now is the time to prosecute Krishna Consciousness, while we are still young. Listen, my fellow demons-we have to start now! I know you want sense gratification, but we have to start Krishna Consciousness immediately or we'll never get out of the material entanglement. This material life will soon become too complicated and we won't be able to get out-we'll be like silkworms trapped in our own cocoons!"
Understandably, when Prahlad spoke the boys would only say, "Let us play, Prahlad! We're only children. We're only 5 years old! We can do Krishna Consciousness when we get older."
"Yes," Prahlad would respond, "I know you want to play. But just listen a moment. There's no need to try so hard for sense happiness. That happiness will come without any endeavor, according to whatever body you have. That arrangement is already made by Nature and will come of itself, just as misery will come. But there's a need to develop an understanding of what the dearmost thing in life is.
"Each of us is looking for his dearmost friend. That dearmost friend is the Supreme Lord, Krishna. He's in everyone's heart and He'll make us satisfied forever. We can just chant His Name, 'Hare Krishna,' and we'll be linked with Him and He'll dictate to us how to come to Him."
Gradually the boys began to listen. "Where did you get this excellent knowledge from?" they asked. "You're like us, only 5 years old and like us you never leave the palace grounds. It's not possible for you to go and take some instructions outside. And our teachers never have taught us this. Where did you learn it?"
The answer was that Prahlad had learned Krishna Consciousness from the foremost sage of Vedic times, Narada Muni, and he had learned it while still in the womb of his mother. It had come about that Prahlad's mother was pregnant at the time of a great war between the demigods and the demons. The demigods were led by Indra and the demons by the party of Hiranya Kashipu. The victorious demigods eventually swept over the cities of the demon king and ransacked his deserted buildings. King Indra himself had entered the palace of Hiranya Kashipu, and was leading off Prahlad's mother, the Queen, when Narada appeared and interposed.
"Do not take her! It is not right, for she is chaste," he said.
Indra answered, "I'm not doing anything wrong, good Narada. But she is carrying a child within her womb who is Hiranya Kashipu's son. She is therefore carrying a snake, and I just want to keep her in custody until the child is born and we can take him away. I had no other purpose."
"No," Narada protested. "She is carrying a great soul within her womb. Don't try to kill him, Indra. Nor in fact could you kill him, since he is a great devotee."
Solely on the word of the pure saint Narada, Indra relinquished his design and the Queen was allowed to go with the saint to his hermitage. Narada gave her shelter at his ashram, and as he was a very great devotee he spoke the spiritual science of Krishna Consciousness to her daily. Prahlad, who had developed within her womb to the point of consciousness, heard all these discussions, and he did not forget.
Actually, every human child attains a confrontation with God just before the time of birth. It is stated in the Srimad Bhagwatam that the process of development within the womb is extremely painful for the child, as he has to live in a cramped position, near gastric fire and stool and urine. Just at the time of birth, conditions become unbearable and he then prays to the Supreme Lord, who is seated within his heart as the Supersoul. The child promises that if the Lord will just get him out of this predicament, he will become a sincere devotee of Godhead and so will never again have to take mortal birth.
Once he is out, however, with the shock of entering into the material world the living entity loses all memory of his promise to God. And, in addition, from the first moment after birth he is in the hands of nurses, friends and relatives who are themselves under the illusion that the goal of life is sense gratification, and who mistake the body as the self. So the child forgets.
But Prahlad did not forget Krishna. He told his "Daitya" fellows just how life is wasted: "Non-believers, just look! How long can you live? Say, at most, 100 years. And the first 20 years are all spent in playing ball and sporting. That's 20 years wasted with no spiritual development. Then during the middle 40 years sex is very prominent, and those years are all spent in the pursuit of sex pleasure.
"Sex life begins when you meet a girl and you think, 'She's nice.' And then when there is sex, the root of attachment is made. Then you get married and you have children. You must earn to support your family and for all the work you are doing you need some recognition, some prestige. So you must labor for that, and at the same time serve your family so that they can expand in wealth and material happiness. Under such conditions there is no chance of getting out of material, deathbound existence. There is no time for finding out Vishnu, God, the dearmost thing in life.
"So calculate: 20 years in sporting, 40 years in sex life and married life. Then at the end of life, the last 20 years are feeble and invalid. Or, even if a man has good health he remains enamored up to the last moment, playing with his fond grandchildren and making no preparation for spiritual life. So where is the time for Krishna? If a man spends his life in this way, always attracted to the nonpermanent and forgetful of his real self-interest, the eternal Vishnu within the heart-then at the time of death he will fall back among the struggling, lower species of life and have to take another body as an animal.
"This is why, demon brothers, we have to take action in this youthful age, while we are still unattached to such things. Only by cutting free of the material consciousness of life can we realize who we are: I am not this body! I am eternal spirit soul! Come, put your faith in the authority of Narada, and you can derive the same benefit as I have!"
The news of Prahlad's preaching ultimately reached back to Hiranya Kashipu, and he called his son's teachers before him. "What is this Hare Krishna?" he demanded to know. "I understand all the boys are chanting some nonsense about God. Tell me now-what are you teaching my Prahlad?"
The Srimad Bhagwatam states that at this time Hiranya Kashipu had come to dominate all the planetary systems by ruthless force. He had gained such great power by performing an excruciating austerity: he had stood on his toes with his arms upraised, and remained in that position uninterrupted for 125 years. Hiranya Kashipu had so frightened the demigods by this that they had run to their supreme leader, Lord Brahma, the prime living entity and creator of the material universe.
"What can this man want?" they asked Lord Brahma. "Please go and grant him some boon so that he may be satisfied-before he becomes too powerful and causes great disturbances!"
Lord Brahma at once approached Hiranya Kashipu and asked him what his wish was. The demon king asked to be made immortal.
"You must ask for something else," Lord Brahma replied. "I myself am bound sometime to die."
Thereupon Brahma conferred a boon upon Hiranya Kashipu which made him invincible in all the material worlds: he would never be killed by man or beast, nor at night, nor in the daytime. He would never be killed on earth, nor on the sea, nor in the air, nor by any weapon.
With this power conferred upon him-assuming himself unconquerable-Hiranya Kashipu took up the business of dominating all the universe for his personal pleasure. So great was his might that it is said the demigods would tremble at the mere upraising of his eyebrows.
Prahlad's teachers, however, had committed no offense before Hiranya Kashipu. "Sir," they explained, "we do not know where your son has learned this Hare Krishna from, but he is ruining our whole school! We have only taught mathematics, economics, history and the other subjects-so we don't know where he has got it from. But he's preaching to the other children every day, whenever he can."
Hiranya Kashipu then called his son before him. The father was a materialist and he wanted his son to get a good education so that the boy would be advanced in the attainment of money and beautiful women. The very name of the demon king indicates this. "Hiranya" means soft bed, and "Kashipu" means gold. These were the basic principles of his life.
The father now sat Prahlad on his knee and with affection asked his boy, "What is the best thing you have learned from your teachers?"
Prahlad replied honestly to his father. "O foremost of atheists," he said openly, "I haven't learned anything good at all from my teachers. But I do know the best thing."
"Oh? And what is that best thing?"
"I have heard that the best thing is to leave this dark well of material life and to take shelter of Krishna, the Lord."
This answer caused the break that could not be repaired, for the father was a determined atheist, and the son a firm devotee of Krishna.
"Tell me," Hiranya Kashipu continued. "What is this teaching that you could not learn from our Brahmins? What is this teaching of Krishna?" he demanded.
The boy replied, "My dear atheist father, if I told you you could not know, and so I cannot even bother. If you took courses in it, still you would not understand, because you are too attached to sense gratification."
Hiranya Kashipu grew enraged at this and threatened his son, but Prahlad was unflinching. He simply remembered the teaching of Narada, and took shelter in thinking of the form of Krishna. To every question and demand of his father Prahlad answered in terms of love of Krishna, his Protector. The father, who was unaccustomed to the slightest hint of insubordination, finally took hold of the boy and personally dragged him outdoors to a nearby cliff. With uncontrollable fury he threw Prahlad into the abyss. However, all-pervading Krishna caught hold of his devotee and saved him from the intended destruction.
Hiranya Kashipu now became all the more livid with angry determination, and he set to work to destroy the life of Prahlad by one means or another. He set a great pot of water boiling and thrust the boy into it, but Prahlad was not hurt. He tried to freeze the boy in a snowstorm and he tried to have him torn apart by the winds of a hurricane-but Prahlad was in direct spiritual communion with Krishna, and so he was at all times protected by the intervention of his worshipable Lord.
Hiranya Kashipu, obsessed, threw his son into a pit of snakes, but they did not harm him. He placed Prahlad under the foot of an elephant, but with his trunk the pachyderm picked the child up and placed him on his back for a triumphant ride. The fierce king forced Prahlad's mother to administer poison to the boy in his food, but it would not take effect. In a seething fury of frustration, Hiranya Kashipu finally picked the boy up in his own hands and hurled him to the floor, as though to smash him like a rock. Prahlad, in meditation upon Krishna, the Soul of souls, remained unhurt even by this attack.
"Where do you get your supernatural powers from?" Hiranya Kashipu screamed, standing over his son.
"From the same place you do," Prahlad replied mildly. "From God."
Hiranya Kashipu began to foam. "God!? What is God? Where is your God?"
"My God is everywhere," Prahlad said.
"Everywhere?" Hiranya Kashipu drew his sword.
"Is He in this pillar?" Hiranya Kashipu cried, pointing with his weapon to a nearby column of marble.
"Yes," said Prahlad evenly.
At this the mighty demon drew back his sword and struck a single unimaginable blow at the mute column. Then, just as his sword fell upon it, the pillar burst into a thousand pieces and, with a roar that deafened half the cosmos, a most wonderful being leapt out from within. This was Lord Nrishingha, a form of God manifesting Ferocity Personified. As God is perfect in all things, He was not unable to answer the dread challenge of Prahlad's father, and there now ensued a brief but terrible struggle.
Half-lion and half-man in appearance, Nrishingha fell upon Hiranya Kashipu, who struck back with all the fury of his being. But he was as nothing against the boundless might of God. Lord Nrishingha quickly caught him up with His nails and stretched the angry, incredulous demon across his lap, and then tore him apart.
Hiranya Kashipu died instantly upon that blood-drenched lap. In this way, as Nrishingha was not a man, and as the time was twilight-neither night nor day-and as the king was killed on the lap of the Lord, which was neither sea nor air nor land-and as he was torn apart by no weapons but the claws of Nrishingha-so none of Brahma's promises to Hiranya Kashipu were broken. And yet he was vanquished.
Prahlad, unafraid, bowed down and offered his profound obeisances before this form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. "O my Lord," he prayed, "I know that You have thousands of forms, and that there are as many forms of the Supreme Person as there are species of life in the world."
In this way Prahlad worshiped at the Lotus Feet of the fierce half-man half-lion appearance of Sri Krishna, from whom all things emanate. As Nrishingha, He appears as the Source of all ferocity, just as in the Original Form of Radha Krishna He is the Source of all Love. To Prahlad, the long hard nails of Lord Nrishingha and His fierce aspect carried no terror.
"The rays from Your Lotus Feet," he prayed, "are more soothing than 10,000 autumnal moons. What I truly fear is the reaction of birth and death in this world, which is whirlpool of bad things. I do not fear Your nails, O Lord and Protector! But I fear this world of Karma, where the remedies we seek for our ills are worse than the ills themselves. And only by taking shelter of You can we become fearless and satisfied."
The Lord then was very pleased, and He requested that His devotee ask for his heart's desire.
Prahlad replied, "Don't ask me to take anything, my Lord. Worship is my duty. If I should take something in return, then I have become a merchant."
But the Lord again asked Prahlad to name something that he wished for. Prahlad, as a devotee, had no personal desire, but the thing he thought of now was his father. So he prayed in Nrishingha's presence that his father might be pardoned for his offenses and granted liberation. The Lord assured the child Prahlad that not only would his father be liberated from the hellish conditions of life in the material world, but that many generations of his family, both in the past and into the future, would be granted liberation. Such is the purifying influence of a pure devotee in a family.
For ourselves, just to hear the narration of Prahlad's activities is auspicious, because just as he fixed himself onto the Lord in remembrance, so can we and thus derive that full, eternal, blissful freedom from evil which the Lord promises mankind in The Bhagavad Gita:
"Give up all varieties of religiousness, and just surrender unto Me; and in return I shall protect you from all sinful reactions. Therefore, you have nothing to fear." (BG 18.66)
Cinnamon Apple Pastries are a great treat either served by themselves or as a dessert. The dishes they complement best are vegetable preparations such as Sweet Pepper. And to finish the meal off I'm passing down a preparation given to the Krishna conscious students once in a lecture by our Spiritual Master. The original recipe had an ingredient called "Misri," but misri is extremely hard to find in the United States, so we are substituting white sugar for it. "Kiba" is a Sanskrit word meaning come and see, so Kiba Taste means come and experience the nice taste of this preparation.
Over a high flame heat butter or ghee in a large skillet. When it smokes add fresh ginger. Cook for two minutes. Stir in chopped celery. Cover and cook till celery starts to become soft. Add peppers, cover and cook until tender. Add spinach, cover and steam for ten minutes. Remove cover. Stir in sugar, then salt. Cook until most of water is gone. Turn off heat. Add black pepper. Serves 5-6.
½ cup butter or ghee
1 cup plain yogurt
Mix all ingredients well and see the taste. Serves 2-8.
Cinnamon Apple Pastry
4 cups white flour
Sift flour and baking soda together. Add butter and rub together till well mixed. With water make a stiff dough. Take a small amount of dough and roll into a rectangular shape twice as long as it is wide (a nice size is 3" x 6") and paper thin. Rub entire surface with your stick of butter, except for a half-inch border on all sides. Spread a thin layer of apples and raisins on buttered area. Mix together the portions of sugar, salt, cinnamon and coriander in a bowl. Spread a generous amount of this mixture over apples, keeping some aside for later. Roll up rectangle of dough with apples, etc. inside. Rub entire pastry with butter. Sprinkle with sugar-spice mixture. Perforate 5 times with a fork and bake at 375 degrees for 35-45 minutes. Makes about 1 dozen.