Attend Bhakti Yoga classes and congregational chanting of the HARE KRISHNA Mantra, and hear lectures on The Bhagavad Gita As It Is- every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7 P. M. at any one of the following ISKCON Temples:
Berkeley—2728 Garber Street
Boston—95 Glenville Avenue, Allston
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Vancouver—1250 Grandville Street
As of press time, a new Krishna Consciousness center is being opened at Laguna Beach, California. Check local phone directory in this area.
The mission of ISKCON is to spread unalloyed love of Godhead as taught by the bona fide disciplic succession and the authorized Vedic literature.
To join ISKCON write N.Y. Center (Aft: Membership Chairman) for details.
COVER: Srimati Radharani and Lord Krishna in the Pushpa Yatra Festival Puppet Show at ISKCON Los Angeles.
BACK TO GODHEAD
is published by ISKCON Books, an organ of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Executive and editorial offices: 61 Second Avenue, New York, New York 10003. All materials copyright 1969, ISKCON Books. Printed in Japan.
Founder: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
For those who have developed the urge for hearing the spiritual message, the message becomes purified without any doubt. The idea is that Krishna or God, in His Supersoul form, is situated in everyone's heart. And He is sitting like a friend, not as an enemy. Because God is the Father of everyone, so He is always friendly, merciful. Just like when an invalid son is there: the father is always looking for when the son will be cured, will come back home. That is the father's desire; and, similarly, we are not so much anxious to approach God, but God is very anxious to recall us from this dungeon house of material existence. Therefore He sends Lord Jesus Christ, or He comes Himself, or He sends His confidential devotees. This is going on—not only in the human society, but in other societies also. In animal society, in bird society there are incarnations of God and messengers of God. That information we have.
So God is always anxious to accept us. In the Upanishads it is said that God and the living entity are sitting in one tree, just like two birds. One bird is eating the fruit of the tree, and the other bird is only the witness. There are these descriptions in the Upanishads, of how God is always looking to see when I shall turn my face towards Him. He is always sitting, waiting, in my heart. And when we hear about Krishna from The Bhagavad Gita or the Srimad Bhagwatam, at that time God becomes very pleased.
This applies not only to The Bhagavad Gita or Srimad Bhagwatam, but to any literature that is giving information of God, any scripture—say the Bible—from which one hears about God. God becomes pleased that now this living entity is coming towards Him, now this son is coming home. He becomes very glad.
This is nicely explained in the Gita: when Krishna sees that a man is trying to learn about Him, by hearing and chanting about God, He is pleased, and He offers help. Even if you do not understand the purport, still it is pious activity. Just if you have the conviction. It is not that everyone who goes to church follows all the rules and regulations, and understands the Bible, or that everyone who goes to the temple understands everything. But going there and giving aural reception to the transcendental message from different scriptures about God, that will make one pious.
So in reading The Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagwatam, sometimes you may not understand, because it is originally in Sanskrit. But we devotees try to explain the message as far as possible, and if you will kindly come here and simply try to hear, then gradually you will become pious. You'll be pious, even if you do not achieve anything else. "Pious" means you become freed from sinful reactions. This Hare Krishna chanting, even though you do not understand it, if you simply come and chant and dance with us, it will make you pious. You will achieve piety or sinlessness; it is so nice.
And what is the benefit of becoming pious, or achieving piety? That is explained in the Gita: By repeated transmigration from one body to another in this material world, we are simply accumulating reactions to sinful activities. That's all. So long as we have no information of God, no information of Krishna, we are simply living like animals and accumulating sinful reactions. And our hearts are polluted, contaminated. There is so much misunderstanding between human nations, human bodies, this man and that man; it is due to our accumulated contamination in the heart. You are my enemy or you are my friend—for what? Because you have got a body and its relationship to mine is contaminated.
Generally, everyone is envious of everyone else. Everyone thinks of others as his enemies. I see in your country so many signboards—No Tresspassers, No Peddlars—that means everyone is an enemy. Otherwise, why should I restrict? No admission. That is the way of nation to nation also. America is my enemy, Russia is my enemy—so China is thinking. So this world is full of enviousness and hate, because every one of us has accumulated past sinful activities, which are stocked up now in our hearts.
The result, if you try to hear about Krishna, is that Krishna will help to cleanse away these contaminated things, accumulated during years and years of darkness. Because the very hearing is piety, therefore it will act on your heart. And how will it act? All the contaminated things within my heart will be cleansed away. Just like, when you have accumulated so many unclean things, if you set fire to them, all these unclean things will be turned to ashes, and everything will be disinfected. Simply one fire, one match. You gather all the garbage together, all varieties of contaminated garbage, and if you set fire to that garbage all will be cleansed. It is just like our contaminating so many things daily, and then the sunshine purifies it. This is also a medical process: sterilization. So, as there is in the material world a sterilizing process, this is a spiritual sterilizing process: simply hear of Krishna, then all nonsense things within the heart will be pure, cleansed.
And who cleanses? The Lord Himself is sitting within you. He'll cleanse your heart. He'll cleanse your heart; you cannot. You have no power, you see. You have been so much contaminated that you have no power. But He'll take charge. In The Bhagavad Gita it is also said that, "you just surrender unto Me. I shall give you protection from all sinful activities." So if God, Krishna, gives you protection, then you are safe.
Our sufferings are due to our sinful activities. And what do we mean by sinful activities? Sinful activities means acting in ignorance. When a living entity is in ignorance, he commits sinful activities. Therefore knowledge is so valuable. This crude example I can give you: I have come from India. In India, the motor cars are driven on the left side, and in your country I see it is on the right. Now, if I drive my car here in the Indian way, to the left side, then I become a criminal, I become subject to arrest. And if I say in the court, "I did not know that in your country the law is different," that is no excuse. That means I became a criminal because I was in ignorance.
Similarly, all sinful activities are due to ignorance. Therefore we should know things as they are. And how can you know things as they are? You have to approach a superior person who himself knows things as they are. That will make you free from all sinful reactions. And this hearing process is very important. If you have a chance to hear from a person who can present things very nicely, or rightly, then you get knowledge, and you become free from all sinful reactions. It is a logical conclusion.
Krishna Himself takes charge of cleaning the heart, and when He Himself takes charge, everything is purified. In The Bhagavad Gita it is said that Krishna is sitting within your heart, but that He talks to you when you become a devotee. Otherwise He is simply Witness; that's all.
You cannot do anything without the sanction of the Lord sitting within, but He gives sanction. Just like a persistent child: he wants to do something wrong, and his parents say, "All right, you do whatever you like." Similarly, God is always ready to give us good advice, but we do not follow Him. Because we have a little freedom, we misuse it; and at that time He gives sanction: "All right—you do it. That is your wish." But God is not responsible for the action or reaction. The sinful action and its reaction or the pious action and reaction-these are not the creations of God. They are created by you. You are independent. You can act as you like. God only gives you His sanction.
God is always situated in your heart, and He is helping you as you like, as you are asking. But if you are surrendered, if you say, "Now, from this day, my dear Lord, I shall act according to Your instruction," then He takes charge. Otherwise you are free. You can do whatever you like, and the action and reaction will have to be suffered. I do not know—I was a student in Scottish Churches College in Calcutta. That was a missionary college. So I attended Bible class half an hour, and I remember one very great scholar and missionary priest, Dr. Altman. He was my professor, professor of psychology, and he was also taking class in the Bible. I remember once in that class—I do not know whether in your Bible the law of karma is admitted or not—but he protested that, "In your Hindu system the law of karma is there, and if one has done something sinful, therefore he is punished." So he inquired, "What is the evidence that you have done something?" At that time I was a student, I could not reply. But after studying The Bhagavad Gita and other Vedic literature, I was prepared to answer him. Here it is. Here is the Witness. You may forget what you have done, but Krishna is not forgetful—He is always sitting within you. So, when you have done as you wanted to do, He reminds you, "All right, you did this."
In The Bhagavad Gita and in all Vedic literature it is affirmed that the Lord is sitting in the heart. As soon as we surrender unto Him He takes charge, and He says, "I have taken charge of one who has pursued this Krishna Consciousness, or devotional service, seriously and sincerely." And He's within. He says, "I give that devotee the needed intelligence." What kind of intelligence? That by which he can come quickly back to home, back to Godhead. That is Krishna's taking charge.
A child does not know his way in life. He is a soul surrendered to his parents. The parents take charge of him, and the parents know how this boy should be raised, how his life will be fruitful—so many things. The boy is free, though he is completely in the hands of his parents. Similarly, if we surrender unto Krishna, who is sitting within our hearts, then He takes charge of us. And He says, "Just to favor them [such devotees] specifically." God is good, but He is especially kind and merciful to the devotees. That is not unnatural. You may ask, "Why is God specifically merciful and kind to the devotee?" But it is not unnatural. Suppose in the street so many children are playing: If there is some danger, and if someone goes and picks up his own child, you cannot say that that is not good. "There are other children, why do you not take care of them?" It is natural, and no one can blame him: "Oh, you did not take up the other child. Why?" Nobody blames him; it is natural. It is good that his child is given first care. Similarly, everyone is the child or son of God—that's all right; but one who has taken to the service of the Lord, he gains the special interest of God. Just like in your Bible it is said that Lord Jesus is the only son. Because he has given his life for God's service, therefore he's taken such special care of. So this is the process of Krishna Consciousness.
Krishna says, "Because a devotee has surrendered unto Me, and I am sitting within him, I take charge of him." And even though one is ignorant or does not know any of the Vedic literature, if he is not learned—still, he will be made learned. That is stated in The Bhagavad Gita, that in order to show them special favor, He eradicates the darkness of ignorance. How? "I am sitting within, and I enlighten him with the torch of knowledge, which is very awesome, just like sunlight." Sunlight is very bright; you don't require to see the sun with the help of a lamp. Similarly, Krishna within, the Supreme Lord, enlightens the devotee. This is the secret of knowledge.
You cannot acquire knowledge through your deficient senses. But, if you surrender unto God, the knowledge will be revealed. Even if you cannot understand what God is. After all, it is very difficult. You cannot know, even in this material world, what things are going on. So how can you know or understand God? God is so great, unlimited. But if He reveals Himself unto you, then you can understand. That is the process. This revelation is possible when you are surrendered. If you are surrendered, if you have given up everything for God, then He is in your heart and will give you all knowledge, all help, everything. It becomes simple.
So it is explained in the Gita that He cleanses and He directs. Just like the father says, "Oh my dear son, do this, do this." And the child becomes expert, although he is not expert. The guidance is expert. And who can give better guidance than God? So if God gives you knowledge, who can give you better knowledge than Him? He is better than anyone. So surrender unto Him. He is within you, and He will give you intelligence and knowledge
Then, what is the effect of such knowledge? The cleansing process means cleansing off the influence of material nature. The material world is working under three modes—the mode of goodness, the mode of ignorance and the mode of passion. There are certain entities who are in goodness, there are certain entities who are in passion and certain entities who are in ignorance. When God takes charge of you, then it is automatically understood that you are transcendental even to goodness. Spiritual quality is transcendental to goodness. That transcendental platform is not very easily attained, but at least the qualify of goodness is immediately achieved. Material goodness is immediately achieved. That is explained in the Gita.
The hearing process in spiritual life means hearing about God. Not hearing the newspaper or any political news. No. You must hear the words of God, the words of Krishna. In this way the cleansing process progresses daily by such hearing about God. And the result will be that you'll enhance your devotion.
"Uttama Sloka" means God. "Uttama" means very nice and transcendental. "Sloka" means verses. Just like when you offer prayers to the Lord, they are selected words and very nice verses. Therefore another name for God is Uttama Sloka. So, to that Supreme Personality who is offered nice verses, unto Him a devotional attitude becomes fixed. That is the second stage of spiritual life, and the third stage comes when one is fixed in devotional service unto the Supreme Lord. At that time the modes of passion and ignorance—the whole world is moving under passion and ignorance-these modes become cleansed away.
We are hankering to possess so many things. This is called passion. And when we are in loss of something we cry for it. This is ignorance. And the material disease is that everyone is hankering for something which he does not possess, and lamenting when he has lost his possessions. This is the material disease. The materialists have only these two businesses; no third business. Simply hankering after something which one does not possess, and when that possession is lost, lamenting, "Oh, I have lost it!" So this is ignorance. What you have lost? What have you brought that you have lost? You came empty-handed. What did you possess in the beginning? Then why are you crying? This is called "sudra," unnecessarily lamenting. Unnecessarily lamenting. Suppose you had millions of dollars, and if you have lost that, then there is reason. But if you did not possess anything, where is the cause for lamenting? That is ignorance. What did you possess? What is your proprietorship? Nothing! This is ignorance. But still I am proclaiming myself the proprietor, the master of this body—but I cannot keep it.
Therefore I must know that I possess nothing. Everything is given to me for my use; that's all. This is knowledge. And as soon as we come down to this idea that we can possess, it is ignorance. Because I try to possess falsely I am wasting my life.
These modes of material nature—passion and ignorance—are pushing me to acquire and possess. You can possess something because you have a body. You must possess something, but then there is greediness. Say I have one thousand dollars income, and I live very nicely. Then I want two thousand dollars. And if I get that, again I am hankering, "No, four thousand dollars! No, eight thousand dollars. No, ten thousand dollars! No, a million dollars!" There is no limit to the impetus of the modes of passion. But when a person becomes a devotee, a surrendered soul, he is freed from these two material modes of nature, passion and ignorance. Then the mode of goodness is there. He becomes situated on the platform of goodness.
When one is not disturbed by the modes of passion and ignorance, then it is understood that he is on the platform of goodness. The heart is no longer influenced by passion and ignorance. Then he remains in goodness. And as soon as he comes to the platform of goodness, he remains happy. If you want to become happy, then you have to elevate yourself to this platform of goodness. Then you will feel happiness. When one is on the platform of goodness, or when one is transcendental, he has no more hankering or lamenting.
The next stage, when there is no more lamentation or hankering and you are situated in goodness, is transcendental. Now, how we have come to the platform of goodness? It is due to devotional service. We are reading and hearing Srimad Bhagwatam and the Gita, and, by dint of engaging ourselves in devotional service, we can be elevated to the platform of goodness, and become jolly. Then one can understand the transcendental science of God; not before. Then one can understand. So you have to elevate yourself to this platform of goodness by starting devotional service. Then, when your heart is free from all material anxieties, just as in the clear sky you can see the sunlight very nicely, so when you are posted in that position, you'll understand the science of God. It is a science. It is not a hobby or a sentiment. It is not a religious sentiment. Religious sentiment without philosophy is ignorance, and philosophy without religious sentiment has no value. Philosophy without religious sentiment is dry speculation; simply wasting time. And religion without philosophy is fanaticism. So both should be combined. Then it is the science of Godhead.
We are trying to open so many centers to teach this science. And, if you take the time to simply hear of this, you will be benefitted. We are not charging anything, there is no fee. So why not come? The world is suffering for want of this knowledge, Krishna Consciousness. Men are becoming less than animals. So this is not progressive civilization. If you want to save human society, then you must take to Krishna Consciousness. Otherwise you are doomed. Hare Krishna.
It is said that one's body is an inheritance from one's father, that the sins of the father are visited on the son, that in terms of progress we stand upon our fathers' shoulders. So many "truths" have defined the relationship of father to son; but at the ultimate issue, all these affairs of father-and-son are unreal, because they are material. This relationship, which seems so firm and certain, is actually just an illusion, because it is temporary. This is the conclusion of the great sages who have developed and passed down to us our knowledge of spiritual life. The real father is the spiritual master. One who is liberated from identification with temporary existence factually experiences that his "guru" is his spiritual father forever.
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami once explained the transcendental situation of father-and-son in a letter to one of his disciples: "You have accepted me as father, so I have also accepted you as my dear and real son. This relationship of father and son on the spiritual platform is real and eternal, while on the material platform such a relationship is ephemeral."
In the relationship of the bodily father, the son asks for something and the father gives. That is, something material is exchanged. If one is so fortunate, however, as to receive "second birth" by initiation under a bona fide spiritual master, then he receives the spiritual gift of eternal life through chanting the Holy Name of God. By chanting the Holy Name of God and hearing the scriptural teachings, the student can have his eyes opened from the blindness of material life. From the blessings of the guru-father, the disciple-son derives all knowledge of reality.
The most crucial thing to be learned, the first important gift of the spiritual master, is that we are eternal spirit soul, part and parcel of God, the Supreme Person. The true situation is not, as the bodily father may tell us, that we were created by him, according to his plans, and that we are thus his private investment or possession.
Actually, all beings live under the plan of Krishna, the Supreme Father. Individually—fathers and sons alike—we are coming here on our own, by a choice of free will we wander down the ages, taking various births among the 8,400,000 species of creatures, taking different bodies in life after life, living in different countries, on different planets, being born of countless different fathers—all according to the works we perform. The Vedic scriptures say that if we lead pious lives we will be born into aristocratic, rich or beautiful families. The Bhagavad Gita specifically states that if we take up Krishna Consciousness or Yoga practice, but fail to execute it perfectly, then at the time of death we will be transferred to the higher or heavenly planets; and when the results of our piety are used up, we are again born on some earthly planet—in the families of yogis, so that we can continue our spiritual progress.
To be born into the family of a brahmin or yogi should be very advantageous to spiritual life, but of course we can always spoil such an opportunity, just as a rich man's son can turn to idling and intoxication. This is why the term "born brahmin," and the whole latterday caste-by-birth system, is a misconception of the spiritual path. The qualities of a brahmin (intellectual or priest) or of a Kshatriya (soldier or statesman), etc., do not depend on material birth, and even the most lowly-born person can advance unimpeded to perfection simply by chanting in the association of a pure devotee.
In his letter to a disciple, my own spiritual master explains what the guru, the transcendental father, can do for his spiritual son: "Although I cannot give you anything as a father, still I pray to Krishna for your more and more advancement in Krishna Consciousness."
Through the spiritual master we learn the actual relationship that exists between God and the individual living entity. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is Father, Mother and Friend of all life, is usually approached by Christians as the Father, and is prayed to more or less as a Supreme Order Supplier. God is the Great Supplier of bread. This is, however, an elementary conception of the Personality of Godhead. Only through the grace of the spiritual master, who has very scientific, realized information about the Absolute, can we advance beyond the idea of God as no more than a material father, a supplier from whom we demand. To learn to love God as a friend and playmate-or even as a lover—comes only through the process of devotional service to the spiritual master. To please the guru-father is the perfect way to liberation, happiness and still greater freedom in the service of Krishna.
It is also possible, of course, that the man who brought you into this world through the shelter of your mother's body could also impart to you the same spiritual instruction that is coming from the spiritual master. In such a case, he is not exactly a "material" father. When a devotee of Godhead marries, under the guidance of his spiritual master, his marriage is not material but spiritual. Such a marriage is not undertaken for sense gratification, but in the service of Krishna. The issue of such a union is not, therefore, comparable to the offspring of cats and dogs—that is to say, productions of accident and lust.
It is said in the scriptures that no one should become a spiritual master, father or husband unless he can deliver his charge from the clutches of death. This means that unless he can free his disciples, his son or his wife from material consciousness he should not take on the responsibility of master or parent. The mission of the real father is to impart spiritual wisdom. We can say, then, that the father who brings a child into the world for Krishna conscious purposes is not material, as he is not operating in temporary, illusory consciousness, which is held to be the standard of material life.
An important example of such a transcendental father is the great saint Thakur Bhaktivinode, who appeared in India during the nineteenth century. A perfect example of productive, spiritual household life, Srila Bhaktivinode fathered 12 Krishna conscious babies, the most notable among them being Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, founder of the Gaudiya missionary movement. Bhaktisiddhanta was the guru of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, the spiritual master of the present Krishna Consciousness Movement. Just as anything-an airplane, money, talent, etc.—can be used in the service of Krishna and thus made spiritual, so sex and fatherhood can work this way.
There is a question one may ask at this point. Since Lord Chaitanya, the incarnation of God who played the role of the perfect devotee, gave up his wife and only then took spiritual sons—disciples—what is the purpose of procuring only one, or even a dozen souls for the service of Krishna via the complicated and laborious method of material childbirth? If the only true sons are spiritual, why not adopt sannyas, the renounced order, at once and make many disciples? A.C. Bhaktivedanta
Swami has generally encouraged his students, both boys and girls, to marry and raise Krishna conscious children. He has said that, although we are canvassing for Krishna, we are after quality and not quantity. It is not by votes that one goes Back to Godhead. If a spiritual master can find one precious soul and carefully train him in Krishna Consciousness from the very start of life, then there is a very good chance for him to become a devotee or future spiritual master. In this way, to raise one individual in pure consciousness can benefit many people.
It should also be noted that one does not stop his personal service to Krishna by becoming a father or mother. Everyone serves Krishna, and every devotee, regardless of whether he is married or unmarried, can be a true guru in the style of Lord Chaitanya by simply persuading whoever he meets, anywhere in the world, to chant Hare Krishna.
It is stated in the Srimad Bhagwatam that in previous, more congenial ages, yogis or devotees would first attain spiritual perfection, and only then find a wife and produce some children. Their purposes for having children were: 1) to bring a fallen, conditioned entity into the world, and then to enlighten him so that he could develop love for God and transfer to the spiritual world at the time of death; or 2) to bring into the world a ray of Vishnu Himself—to have a liberated, saintly child, as did Srila Bhaktivinode.
The ultimate perfection of such spiritual fatherhood is to be the instrument for the appearance of an incarnation of God. Such was the case of the yogis Kardama Muni and Devahuti, through whom Kapiladev, the Teacher of the sublime Samkhya Philosophy, entered this world. The mother and father of Krishna Himself achieved the ultimate in this perfection of parenthood. One devotee sings in this way to Nanda Maharaj, the worshipable foster father of the Supreme Lord: "People have taken shelter of the Vedic literature from fear of material life. Let them worship Sruti or Mahabharata. I am not going to do that. I shall worship Nanda Maharaj, because he has captivated the Supreme Lord into crawling as a child in his courtyard."
Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhyalila XVIII
And the Lord Gouranga [Chaitanya], while going to Vrindaban, made tigers, deer and birds on the way through the forest utter the name of Krishna, and intoxicated them with the ecstasy of Divine Love and they danced with Him.
"So the Lord went through the solitary forests and He sang the Holy Name "Krishna" all along. And the denizens of the forest-tigers and elephants-saw Him and they allowed Him to pass without any harm. And the Lord marched on in His deep ecstasy of love through them all.
"And on another day a more wonderful occurrence took place and lo! it was this: the Lord went to take His bath in a stream of the forest, and a whole herd of elephants came to drink water in the very same stream. The Lord was saying His prayers just then and the elephants stood before Him. The Lord saw them all and they, too, saw Him. And as the Lord saw them, He threw water at them, saying 'Chant the Holy Name Krishna! Krishna! O elephants!' And at that very same moment all those elephants whom the water touched jumped up and began to run about in ecstatic love, and chanted the Holy Name of Krishna all about. And some of the elephants acted more wondrously still, for they fell down on the ground and shrieked in sheer ecstatic love.
"And now some peacocks saw the Lord passing through the forest and they followed Him, uttering with His Holy Self the Name of Krishna, and danced in holy joy. And the Lord saw this and He uttered the Holy Name (Hari) more loudly still. And as the trees and creepers of the Jharikhanda forest heard His voice they were deeply pleased.
"And on another occasion as the Lord was passing through the forests singing loudly the song of the Holy Name, some does came near to His sacred Self. And they followed the Lord as He walked to His left and right, and the Lord saw this and was pleased. He rubbed their bodies out of love, and read out the following verse from the Holy Bhagwatam: 'Blessed are the does, for they marched along with the deer following our Holy Lord all along.' And the Lord said to them, 'Sing ye, O animals, the Holy Name of Krishna!' And as the Lord spoke thus, so the tigers and elephants and deer chanted the Holy Name and danced in ecstasy and wept in holy love."
Notes on the teachings of a pure Devotee ... taken by Satsvarupa
Swamiji has said that what is important is sincerity. Not the rules and regulations, but sincerity. To the sincere devotee, Krishna from within the heart reveals, and everything is taken care of.
People are in ignorance, darkness. The Vedic literature is light. They take this spot life as everything. They do not know where they were before they were born, they do not know what body they will have to take after death. But they are absorbed in this spot life. They do not know that the soul does not die."
"When Krishna was at Dwarka He had a headache one day, and He told His servant that He could be cured only by the dust from a devotee's feet. The servant went out to the devotees, but they were shocked and said, 'No, Krishna is God,' and they dared not put the dust of their feet on His head, because they would be sent to hell. No devotees gave the dust of their feet. But the servant went to Vrindaban to the Gopis, Krishna's purest lovers, who quickly gathered: 'How is Krishna?' The servant told them, and they at once scraped the dust from their feet and collected it for Him. 'You gave the dust of your feet?' said the servant. 'Aren't you afraid you'll go to hell?' 'We are prepared to go to hell!' they said. 'We don't care! But Krishna must be cured!' That's love. The less you care for yourself and care only for Krishna, that's a good sign."
"They see someone innocent and right away they exploit. I trust you, I lay my head on your lap, and you cut my head off-that is civilization. If they exploited for good purpose-but they exploit only for sex and liquor, the most abominable things. They have no other information or pleasure. But just because they have nicely washed pants and shirt they are respected."
"Man thinks he is free, but he is like the cow tied up with a long rope that is fastened at one end; however we may fly we have to come back. We are all under conditional Nature, you cannot surpass it. But anyone who takes to Krishna Consciousness is freed from material Nature. If we believe Bhagavad Gita, Krishna Consciousness is so sublime that it is transcendental to goodness also—it has nothing to do with matter. It is simply on the spiritual platform."
[Someone had asked Swamiji what about people who said that Form limits God. He replied that that was another nonsense.]
"The Lord is conscious. He may appear to be limited because He has a Form, but His potency is unlimited. He is the Absolute Truth. The sun is like this. It appears limited in the form of the sun planet, but the effects of the sunshine are unlimited. By their material calculation the impersonalists say if God is all-pervading, how can He be localized? He, however, has spiritually unlimited potency. The localized sun has energy all over the Universe. The Lord and His energy are inseparable, but the Lord is Personal and localized."
He said his Guru Maharaj, Sri Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami, liked daring devotees who did not compromise. Those who compromise he called good-for-nothings .
"All is one does not account for variety. Red flowers, blue flowers, white flowers, all are one, all are Krishna, but there is union in variety, many in one. Krishna is everything and everything is Krishna. You can believe. You don't have to have philosophical understanding. It's the source of wood that determines the by-product. Men go to work with a saw and hammer and some talent to make a piece of furniture, and they say they created it. God supplied it. We supply nothing."
Swamiji said these people who think "I am God" really just sit around smoking, and they need to have some spiritual recreation, so they say, "All is void." And they smoke and sit and talk in this way, and then do all nonsense. They are of the society of the cheaters and the cheated. They go to some yogi, take postures, get told something nice, pay 5 dollars, and leave.
"All is spirit from Krishna. Just as a fingernail is skin, but cut it and it doesn't hurt. Matter is a form of spiritual energy in which we forget Him."
"They try to kill devotees. They tried to kill Lord Jesus Christ and His religion is now dominant over most of the world. They tried to kill Krishna, and now He is still growing from 5000 years ago. They put Prahlad under the elephant's foot, and the elephant lifted him up and carried him in triumph."
"The whole world is a butchershop. Whoever isn't giving Krishna Consciousness to another is butchering him. The mother is butchering, the father is butchering, the friend is butchering."
"Mahatma is he whose heart and soul have become great for serving the Great."
Beatle John Lennon With Montreal Devotees
by Bibhavati Dasi
As devotees of Lord Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, we are not supporters of the cult of Beatle worship. So when John Lennon and his wife Yoko and their small daughter Kyoto came to Montreal, we were in the position of being able to relate to him with all the real respects due another human being rather than a demigod. It was a very auspicious occasion for me, because it confirmed that the living entity can never be satisfied by material wealth, fame and power. If he is sufficiently intelligent he will always be searching for something more. I rejoiced to think that the object of our attention is Krishna the All-famous, and not some other human being exhibiting some partial qualities of fame, wealth and power.
It is one of the manifestations of this upside down, twisted state of affairs in Kali Yuga, the Age of Quarrel, that corporate beings are made into gods by the unscrupulous priests of the mass media. Few people, if offered a ticket on the roller-coaster ride to fame, riches and power are able to refuse. Neither could John Lennon, at first. But so temporary are the satisfactions obtained by material pleasures that the living entity quickly becomes disillusioned—if he is intelligent. The happiness to be obtained by "making it" and finding all worldly success has been seen by John Lennon for exactly what it is, transitory and unreal. By Krishna's mercy he has been showered profusely with all the better fruits of karmic action, and thus has come quickly to realize this. For most people it takes a little longer.
This is how he talked about it last week from his hotel room in Montreal, in conversation with the writer and her husband Ishan: "...and I found out what being famous was like. It's a drag responsibility. So then I spent a long time looking; meditation in India and all that. It was all okay, you know, but it wasn't the answer. And then I met Yoko, and we worked our sort of thing out between us, fell in love and that. And then we asked, 'What do we went out of life?' And we want Krishna Consciousness. We want peace. The same peace formula that your spiritual master tells about, and the other kind too, that the housewives understand."
I wished that all the millions of struggling karmis, working so hard to clutch success, could be with us at that moment to hear how it feels to be a demigod: 'We're very narrow, very shy and very straight and ordinary, but we're in an abnormal situation and we use it to the best of our ability."
John was very interested in New Vrindaban, especially the school system planned for it. He asked us when such a community would be set up in England. "I mean I don't want to leave any of me kids or me friends' kids in the hands of the devil. I'm not sure about sending them away at the age of five, but if I do send them away I want it to be to a place where they'll be turned on. We have a nice cottage at the back of our property that would be perfect for a school if you'd like to use it."
The hotel room filled up with crude vibrations as the reporters and guests circled the large bed on which John and his wife were reclining. As cigarette smoke and liquor fumes became thicker, sometimes feelings became dark. But John and Yoko did not seem to mind the surroundings. Perhaps they viewed it as a kind of austerity necessary to get full coverage from the news media, which they are attempting to exploit for their goal of spreading peace.
The devotees, however, found the atmosphere less tolerable and chanted constantly when not having Kirtan. On the last day of our visit the hotel threatened to have John Lennon thrown out if the mridungas (our drums) did not stop playing.
Hansadutta spoke to John Lennon on several occasions, praising the sublime Lord Chaitanya, telling of Prabhupad, always stressing the purity of the Vedic injunctions and the necessity of adhering to the instructions of a spiritual master in the line of disciplic succession. But John was not always able to accept everything, and arguments broke out over small things—like shaved heads. Nevertheless, I feel certain that John Lennon truly respects the basic principles of ISKCON. Here is a part of my conversation with him:
Writer: Don't you find yourself picking up the vibrations from the uptight people who come in here?
All glories to Sri Krishna, the All-Famous!
This is an article printed in Hamburg's "Welt am Sontag" on May 11, 1969, about our center there:
He calls himself "Jaya Govinda," he looks like a tibetan monk, speaks the American idiom of the West Coast and works as a gardener in the Botanical Gardens of Hamburg. He is the president of the first Krishna Society on the European Continent, which will hold this Sunday at 5:00 a feast of Indian food and lectures in its temple, on Eppendorfer WEG 11.
Three Americans and one German from Augsburg, who lived in America for 15 years, have come to Europe to spread the teachings of Krishna. This is said to be the oldest Indian method for spiritual realization. In America there are more than a thousand adherents, Allen Ginsberg and Beatles George Harrison and John Lennon have interest in Krishna Consciousness.
Victory for Krishna (which is what Jaya Govinda means), Servant of Krishna (Krishna Das) and Best Prayers for Krishna (Uttama Sloka) are the names of these young people, with ages ranging from 19 to 25 years, who, on Mockeberg Street, held an open meditation hour and distributed leaflets. In the leaflet it was announced that one may visit the temple Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings. It said, "We serve a specially cooked Indian feast."
What will await the visitor? From the outside the temple gives the effect of a hippie locale. The big window pane is painted deep blue. Just after you enter, a bearded young man requests you to take off your shoes. I sat next to a young couple who were likewise barefooted, sitting against the wall. The room is painted white, with wall-tapestries, and there is an altar. The meditators, close to half a dozen, are sitting on the floor, with crossed legs, singing: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
This verse—an Indian mantra, as a young man later clarified—is always practiced in the temple: it is painted on the walls, spoken and sung. A drum played by a young man with a shaved head gives the rhythm, a continuous monotone is coming from a harmonium, and two cymbals clang. After half an hour, refreshments are served—pieces of apples. And now, one may ask questions.
They call themselves "devotees." Their regulations: no cigarettes and no alcohol. The four did not give their names of birth. A venerable Guru in the U.S., A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, is their teacher. In the U.S. there are quite a number of temples established, and in furthering this work, these young men have come to Europe. Is Hamburg a good missionary area? May I know? Uttama Sloka, the 22-year-old German, answered: "We are interested in the young people. Even rockers." [Rockers are the Hells Angels of Europe.]
And how do the four missionaries live? "We do not need much," answered Krishna Das, a thin 19-year-old from San Francisco, and apart from Uttama Sloka the only devotee who can speak German. "The gardener is working mostly for the rent and maintenance. I myself am an apprentice to a Hamburg goldsmith. Yet he does not know that he has a devotee as an apprentice."
Columbus, Ohio, ISKCON, 318 E. 20th Ave: Prabhupad A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami arrived Friday, and our Kirtan at the Columbus airport attracted attention in local papers ("Undoubtedly the most exotic procession ever to grace the airport portals"—Citizen Journal). Guests crowded the new Hare Krishna center to hear a talk delivered as soon as Prabhupad arrived. Kirtans have been lively. Poet Allen Ginsberg arrived and spent the night and next day at the temple conversing with Prabhupad and chanting. He was especially impressed with the Aratrik ceremony, especially the music, which was "the most beautiful I've heard in years."
Several days later Prabhupad and Ginsberg filled a campus auditorium (which seated 750) to twice the capacity. Students flooded the stage and aisles, and when we started chanting they immediately responded. Within five minutes the chant was out of our control. Over 1500 students were roaring Hare Krishna, standing in their seats, waving their arms, dancing in the aisles and on stage. Ginsberg, sweat pouring down his face, chanted and danced ecstatically. When his garland broke in the melee, we seized the flowers and started throwing them to the students who clambered for them. Then Prabhupad stood on his dais and all the students rose to their feet. He gave his garland to Kirtanananda and indicated that we were to throw the flowers to the audience. The students grabbed them, then joined arms to dance. Prabhupad began jumping up and down and the dais bounced.
All this went on for thirty minutes. Then Ginaberg gave a talk to introduce Prabhupad, and then Prabhupad talked. The students were attentive, though hot and exhausted from the chanting and dancing. Then, remarkably enough, we had a second Hare Krishna Kirtan which was as wild as the first. The sound rose to a grand cataclysmic roar and the stage thundered with dancing. NBC-TV shot film during the whole Kirtan. Some students wept with joy. Afterwards Ginsberg said that he had never before seen so many students "burst out their skins" and chant and dance so vigorously and responsively. Hayagriva was reminded of a Kirtan at Stanford U. in Palo Alto in '67, at which the students similarly flipped out to the mantra, though the crowd was much smaller. Our only regret was that we did not get a larger hall to accommodate the crowds that were standing outside. We approximated over 1500 managed to cram into the auditorium. The following day all the students were talking about it. It seems that Ohio State had never before so completely broken out of its robotic regimen.
A Letter From A New Vrindaban Devotee:
We had great agricultural dreams up until Prabhupad arrived, but he is not very much interested in agriculture now. We had cleared four acres for plowing, but now we will have only a small garden. Prabhupad said we should devote our time to two things, the cows and the building of living quarters. We have one cow at present but there are three more coming this month. There is constant work going on to clear pastureland.
Prabhupad said, "When you get married you say 'This is my wife.' What is the philosophy behind this? It is that in exchange for her service I must give her protection. In the same way a cow gives milk so you give her protection. This is cow protection. This is my cow, I must give her protection." So Prabhupad wants us to keep four or five cows and chant Hare Krishna. He says if you have one or two bowls of milk and some grains daily, you can never starve.
So once we can keep some cows nicely, when and if we get more help we can have agriculture on a larger scale and build a new temple. Right now there is a big house which contains a temple and living quarters for Prabhupad. I have fixed up the chicken-coop nicely for Satyabhama and myself, the pig pen has been remodeled for four or five brahmacharis. The top of the barn has been partially remodeled for brahmacharis and will be further remodeled. The frame of what used to be a corn-crib is still standing, and will be made into a two-story brahmachary dwelling. The lumber for the barn and corn-crib projects has been obtained from a house we tore down in Wheeling. We rented a truck yesterday, and brought the wood as close as we could, now we must build a two-wheel horsecart to carry it the final two miles up our road. Kirtanananda Maharaj purchased the wheels and frame at an auction last week, and Nara Narayan Prabhu began building the cart today. Prabhupad requested that we fix up the road also.
I don't think we appear to be as busy as we actually are. You probably think we go slam, bang, boom and have a house put up. Well it's not like that at all. New Vrindaban is indeed developing into a community, but slowly by city standards. Prabhupad wants us to be independent—that is, not dependent on the outside. He wants us to cut our own lumber and make our own bricks, etc.
I must go and work on the barnyard fence now. Don't forget that with Prabhupad here new and unexpected projects may begin anytime. The situation is always changing.
Taking into account the many descriptions of Godhead found in ancient books, scriptures and the eternal wisdom heard by disciples from their venerable masters, the Absolute Truth may be defined as follows: He is by Himself and for Himself; He has all knowledge, strength, opulence, fame, beauty and renunciation; He is the Fountainhead of limitless energies and the Fountainhead of infinite qualities all of which are identical with Himself. He has infinite forms, all of which have equal powers and qualities; and He has infinite Names with which He is identical. And, He is beyond the scope of the organic senses. We cannot see Him, hear Him, touch Him, smell or taste Him with our eyes, ears, hands, noses or tongues. The Name of God can only be spoken through spiritual lips; in which case, in our Krishna Consciousness society, which preaches the group chanting of the Name of God, exactly what are we all doing? Why chant the 16-word mantra of Hare Krishna if God's Name is beyond our power to utter? This sensible question deserves a sensible answer, and to do justice to this common inquiry we can only go to the writings of those souls who actually have had spiritual bodies, senses and faculties—and who had regular intimate communion with Krishna.
Bhaktivinode Thakur is one such spiritual entity whose poems, writings and powerful, inspiring personality is moving mountains of darkness from the hearts of the devotees. He has written, "O Harer Nama [the Name of God], You enter my ear, my tongue and penetrate my heart and tears spring from my eyes, turning the dust at my feet to clay. Thus the impressions of my steps are left so that others will follow my way." So it is not by his own initiative that anyone may chant the Name, but it is the Name which takes the initiative and out of His own prerogative descends to the soul of the aspirant.
When the Name pierces all the physical, mental and intellectual boundaries up to the soul, then the full Personality of Krishna—with all His qualities, forms, etc.—is realized. It is just like this: on a cloudy day we cannot see the sun, but it is due to the sunlight itself that we see the clouds. When by the heat of the sun the clouds break, the clear light is seen and then the full sphere of the sun is seen at last, revealing the world, myself and of course the full sun itself. Krishna descends to our consciousness in the same manner. First as a principle—that is to say, by our reason we come to the knowledge that we and this world must have a creator who is different but not apart from us. Then if the seeker is more fortunate, a firm belief can become lodged in his mind.
As the Divinity comes down through the chanting of the Name, real spiritual experience enters one's senses, and sometimes he feels or sees God everywhere. Where the devotee is determined to seek after God above and beyond anything else, it is a sign that Krishna is piercing his finer sentiments until, face to face, the devotee sees Krishna, having totally surrendered to Him. Those learned in the science of Krishna declare this stage to be "Samadhi," or trance.
Such a state is very rarely to be found in any person, and yet nowadays we frequently read about states which resemble samadhi achieved by quite a number of mystical people. How can we be sure of authenticity?
There are eight symptoms which precede samadhi, which are as follows: 1) stunned sensation, 2) chills, 3) what we know as goose bumps or horripilations, 4) trembling, 5) perspiration, 6) tears, 7) choking and 8) trance. But just by seeing these outer signs, can we conclude that a person is really in samadhi? No. And many cases of such tricks or accidents of nature occur. Once a scholar was reading this description to some elderly religious women. He noticed that all through his discourse one women was weeping constantly. He thought that she might be approaching that rare state, and afterwards bowed to her and praised her devotion. But the old grandmother said, "No, I am not a devotee. I had a son—he died last year. You look just like my boy!" With that she departed the temple, leaving the foolish scholar baffled.
We must never judge the true contact with God by material or outward symptoms, though they may resemble the eight sattvik, or pure, symptoms of samadhi. Once a yogi came to a village and displayed his power of walking across the surface of a river. All the people showered coins and praises on him, but one wise old man approached him and said, "Swamiji, you have two cents worth of power!"
"How is that?" the yogi retorted, amazed by such denseness and arrogance.
"Because for two cents I can take you across the river on my boat!"
No matter how wonderful the feats of magic or of nature may look, we must always weigh them on the scales of eternal, blissful knowledge. At this moment huge waves are crashing together in the ocean. Niagara Falls is discharging billions of kilowatts of energy, even galaxies are colliding somewhere, causing inconceivably blinding light and explosions terrible enough to dwarf 1000 megaton hydrogen bombs—but sitting aloof from any of this temporary if grand phenomena, the soul of man remains untouched. No matter how great the impressions of phenomena are, they are only elements changing energy into other elements, and cannot pierce to the true depths of the soul. But if one man makes 1 per cent of spiritual progress, he has made eternal progress which benefits all beings. For when Krishna actually does descend to any soul, He can project His energy to all things near and far.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's inconceivable spiritual potency is such. When His chanting was vibrated, even trees and wild animals forgot their conditional natures and danced in ecstasy. Any of the supremely fortunate people who witnessed His pastimes became powerhouses of divine energy, each and every one capable of continuing the smooth flow of Krishna Consciousness to all, as that consciousness itself descended from Krishna's realm.
No personality, incarnation, saint or great emperor has revealed such vibrant outbursts of direct contact of God as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Sometimes He would, in the transcendental feeling of separation, be endowed with all the eight above-mentioned symptoms. Raising Himself to full height, He would crash to the ground wailing for Krishna. The devotees often feared all His bones broken to splinters. After chanting the Hare Krishna Mantra, Chaitanya sometimes began to roll to and fro. Rivers of tears flowed from His eyes. And then He gave an extremely confidential teaching: "I have no trace, not a tinge of love for Krishna in Me—for if I did, how is it that I could remain alive within this body?"
Not to speak of the trances and "experiences" recorded by many curious seekers of "bliss consciousness," cosmic and "expanded" consciousness, Lord Chaitanya, in the ecstasy of love of God, felt His own love hopelessly inadequate. He made light of the many symptoms He exhibited, and when He spoke at all it was not of Himself, but of the pure love of God which was His life and mission.
Now, if it is possible to connect oneself with the current of blissful consciousness, what is the method? There are many doors—but which one leads to the goal? We are not yet possessed of pure intelligence, so how can we know which way is right? Again the answer descends from Krishna, enriched by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and revived by Bhaktivinode Thakur, whose potency was infused into Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati, who in turn bestowed his great love and mercy and sublime wisdom upon Prabhupad Bhaktivedanta Swami, the writer's own divine master. Now available for all, regardless of rank or status and free of charge, the same primeval Krishna Consciousness is being distributed by Prabhupad's Society. Carried along spiritual currents, the Name divine, the Maha Mantra comes, as we spread the glorious chanting of Hare Krishna.
"That which pervades the entire body is indestructible. No one is able to destroy the imperishable soul."—Bhagavad Gita, 2.17
Anyone can understand what is spread all over the body: it is consciousness, the energy of the soul. When souls depart from bodies, bodies become dead. Half a millennium ago in the circle of Gauda in India, Sri Krishna Chaitanya appeared and taught Krishna Consciousness or spiritual happiness to all comers. And now Krishna Consciousness has come West.
Everyone wants to be happy. Different people expect to be happy by submitting to different circumstances in life. But sometimes the suspicion flashes across our minds that things just aren't what they appear to be. We also want knowledge. We read books, newspapers and magazines. We listen to speeches and we philosophize. If we can get more knowledge we can probably get more satisfaction. Due to ignorance we often make mistakes for which we must suffer. But if we want really complete knowledge, we have to search for the primary causes or origins of existence. If we are too frenzied to spend time asking such questions, we should expect to have to play the parts of mindless fools in the continuing pageant of history
The modern world is sometimes supposed to offer evidence that man is progressing towards greater material happiness. Materialism is often opposed to theism, which is generally agreed to have declined. People widely believe that the advancement of material science is more rewarding than the enlargement of spiritual science, and that they are actually en route to unlimited luxury via materialism. But men with no understanding of the real significance of life are no better than animals. Their society will always be brutish, even if it be decorated with tons of trinkets and perfumes.
In physics there is the concept of a space-time continuum through which bodies move. By careful study we see that the bodies of living entities change within these space-time continuums. What is commonly called growth or aging is actually a progressive charging of the body. But although the body is changing, the individual soul remains intact. We had our infant bodies, but now our bodies are changed. We can remember the activities of our childhood bodies, but those bodies have vanished. The bodies are passing away, but we are remaining. Therefore we must be different from these bodies. We do sometimes wonder what the images in mirrors really have to do with us.
The soul is different from the body; the soul is eternal. And the truly natural existence is spiritual—eternal. Yogis are trying to come from materialism to this eternal point by meditation: "I am not this body." By concentrating the mind in meditation, one should seek answers to such questions as, "What am I? How am I here? Where am I going? How can I achieve lasting happiness, uncut by the various miseries such as birth, disease, old. age and death?"
These are questions to be considered by one seriously seeking complete philosophy. At the point of asking such questions, spiritual life can begin. These questions are thoroughly discussed in The Bhagavad Gita As It Is and associated Vedic texts. This process of understanding is known as self-realization.
In this present span of time, known as Kali Yuga (the Age of Quarrel, Chaos and Hypocrisy) the chanting of mantras is described as being the secret of liberation from this mundane world. In the Vedic texts the chanting of the Maha Mantra, or Great Hymn—Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—is especially recommended for self realization in this age.
The Vedic texts, written in the ancient Sanskrit characters, are accepted by most authorities as the oldest writing known to man. And this Krishna science has been elaborated by great spiritual personalities throughout the untold ages.
Krishna Consciousness has been established in the West by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, who came alone to the United States to fulfill the order of his spiritual master to teach through the medium of the English language.
Krishna Consciousness in Hawaii is currently established at 51-576 Kam Highway in Kaaawa (just before the Crouching Lion Inn), phone no. 237-8544. Classes are held at 7 a. m. daily and at 7 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A Love Feast, consisting of very fine vegetarian foodstuffs, prepared according to old East Indian recipes, is held every Sunday at noon, along with chanting and dancing. Everyone is invited to come.
The most important celebration in the study of God realization is the initiation ceremony, when the student agrees to live by the orders of the spiritual master who has understood the necessity for a program whereby one can gain control over his sensuous activities. In Krishna Consciousness we use the word control because we do not teach that one should cease his sensuous activity, but that he should perform that activity in the pursuit of higher spiritual life. Then that same activity, when performed under the regulative principles of the spiritual master, becomes devotional service or Bhakti Yoga. This devotional service when performed with a pure heart has not only the power to simply release one from the sufferings of this material world, but also to raise one to the platform of love of God.
After a boy is initiated into Krishna Consciousness he is called a "brahmachari," a renounced student. A brahmachari is by Vedic custom supposed to be very austere. He should simply lie down on the floor to take rest, he should strictly regulate his eating and sleeping, and he should have no association with the opposite sex. After some time as a brahmachari, a boy may decide whether he wants to remain in this renounced order of life or if he wants to become a married man. Present-day society is not designed for developing spiritual life—there is too much intermingling of men and women—and so our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, recommends that most of the brahmacharis become responsible married men and raise Krishna conscious families.
Accepting a wife is also considered renunciation, because the student is voluntarily sacrificing his tendency toward unrestricted sex life for a program of regulated restraint to develop his spiritual consciousness. When a brahmachari decides to marry, the system is that he should consult his godbrothers and ask their advice. If they agree that marriage is the best thing for his spiritual advancement, then he should submit his plan to the spiritual master for approval. Upon approval of the spiritual master an eligible girl is chosen, either by the spiritual master himself or by the brahmachari's godbrothers. It is best if neither the boy nor the girl has choice in selecting this lifelong companion. Marriage is not for sense gratification, and therefore the partner should not be selected on the basis of sexual attraction, but on the couple's desire to work hard together for the spiritual master.
On May 8th of 1969, the Krishna conscious society had a wedding of three couples at the Boston Radha Krishna temple, as depicted on these pages. The couples learned of the marriage one day prior to the actual ceremony. Krishna Consciousness means simple living, and so there was no problem preparing for the event in such a short space of time. The boys gathered together enough money to purchase new saris for their prospective brides, and the women on the day of the ceremony made garlands of flowers for themselves and their prospective husbands. Someone was put in charge of collecting the necessary items for the ceremonial fire—rice flour colored with dye, small pieces of wood for fuel, sesame seeds, barley and bananas to sacrifice in the fire, and clarified butter to make the fire burn brightly.
The spiritual master and the couples to be married sat down on opposite sides of the fire pit, each bride sitting to the right of her groom. A flower garland was first offered to the spiritual master and then the couple was offered flower garlands. Much sweet smelling incense was lit and the spiritual master began by reciting auspicious mantras and sipping three small spoonfuls of water from his hand. All the couples followed the sipping of the water. When the mantras were said the spiritual master delivered a lecture stressing the importance of married life:
"Married life for Krishna Consciousness is all right. My spiritual master was a strict celibate all of his life, but he used to say that if he could raise children in Krishna Consciousness then he was prepared to indulge in sex life one hundred times. In The Bhagavad Gita Krishna declares that sex life based on religious principles is a representation of Himself. The regulative principle that married couples should follow regarding sex life is that it should be avoided except for the propagation of children, and then only indulged in once a month until pregnancy. If the couple does not desire children then sex life should be avoided completely. This is known as natural birth control. In our Krishna Consciousness society we are not teaching the cessation of activity, but the regulation of activity. It is natural for young boys and girls to be attracted to each other and to desire enjoyment, but they should not act unrestrictedly on the platform of dog or cat consciousness. Let them be married and live peacefully. In all forms of life there is eating, sleeping, defending and mating. The human form also indulges in these activities, but in the human form there is a fifth activity which distinguishes it from the society of the animals. This we call religiousness.
"True religiousness begins when one asks himself, 'Why am I suffering? Who am I? What is my true position?' If someone, no matter who or what he is, sincerely looks for the answers to these important questions and if he has accepted a bona fide spiritual master, then he is said to be on the path of religiousness. Our Krishna conscious society is meant for supplying the answers to these questions as they are answered by the Supreme Lord Himself in various scriptures such as The Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagwatam, Chaitanya Charitamrita, etc.
"Parents, please give your blessings to your children. Let them be happy for the benefit of society, country and humanity."
Prabhupada then asked the parents to repeat these words in giving away their daughters: "She has been in my charge for so many years, now I hand her over to you." The man accepts this offer by answering, "I accept her as my wife for my entire life. I agree to protect her and provide for her needs." Next the woman confirms the marriage by agreeing to serve her husband and provide for his comforts in this life. The smiling couples then trade flower garlands and change their sitting arrangement: the wife sits to the left of the husband and the husband covers his wife's head with the loose part of her sari. The distinguishing mark of a married woman is the red streak of pigment found in the part of her hair at the center of her head. This is now placed there for the first time by her new husband.
When all the couples have been married in this manner, it is time to light the sacrificial fire. The colored rice flour is sprinkled across the earthen bed where the fire will burn so that a colorful arrangement of lines is produced. In the center of this is placed a burning splinter which has been dipped in ghee (clarified butter) and lit by a candle. This is followed by more splinters dipped in ghee, the pieces becoming larger and larger until the flames are rising two feet into the air. All of the happy newlyweds are crowded around the hot fire. Sweat appears on their brows but they can barely move back because of the crowds of friends and relatives behind them pushing forward to reach the sesame seeds and barley, which has just been mixed with ghee, and which is being offered for everyone to throw in the sacrificial fire. The spiritual master is chanting sets of mantras to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna, and everyone is loudly repeating these. Each set of mantras is ended with "Shaha!" This is the signal, everyone answers with an ecstatic "Shaha!" and for a moment the temple appears to be raining sesame seeds and barley as everyone throws their small handful into the fire.
After the mantras are chanted, the spiritual master motions for the couples to stand. They are handed bananas which they place between their folded hands. With heads bowed in submission they repeat the beautiful mantra being chanted by the spiritual master, and at the end place their bananas in the fire. Ghee is poured over the bananas and the names reach higher into the air. By this time the temple is filled with smoke and no one can tell if the tears in the eyes of the devotees are caused by smoke or by the bliss of the joyous occasion. All the couples now bow down, their heads to the sesame-seed-covered floor, and by a mantra offer their obeisances, their minds, their hearts, their lives to the spiritual master, who simply says, "Thank you very much. Chant Hare Krishna." Hearing this the devotees leap into the air, grab at cymbals and drums and begin loud chantings of the Hare Krishna Mantra. By now everyone's eyes are full of tears and sweat is pouring from their brows as the flames of the fire shoot three and four feet into the air. But nothing will stop these merry madmen from having their Kirtan in praise of Lord Krishna.
The crackling of the bananas, the heat and smoke from the fire just add bliss to the already ecstatic chanting and dancing scene. Many are jumping into the air yelling, "Hari Vol!" Others are beating furiously on drums, crashing together small hand cymbals, or simply clapping their hands together loudly. Hare Krishna chanting continues for half an hour or so and is ended by a nod of the head from His Divine Grace. Everyone falls to the barley-covered floor and prostrates himself before His Divine Grace, who is chanting respects to all of the greater teachers and holy places where Lord Krishna had His pastimes. All then assume the sitting position and the temple quiets down, except for a few devotees who can't quite check their crying or laughing in ecstasy. They sit slowly shaking their heads from side to side in disbelief that there could be such bliss in praising the sweet Lord, Sri Krishna. With a broad smile on His face Prabhupada asks the married couples if they are happy. They simply nod, "Of course!" is in their eyes. In their minds they are thinking: if only I had something more than my whole life to offer my spiritual master.
His Divine Grace is now offered a plate of Prasadam (food offered to Lord Krishna) and His eyes sparkle as he sees the sweetballs, samossa, Kachori, Radha Ballabhi, Rasgolla and fifteen other preparations. He takes a few small bites and asks that everyone be fed. Seconds, thirds and even fourths are being demanded by even guests who have never before seen a Prasadam feast. At some time during the feast His Divine Grace rises to leave. All immediately fall to the floor offering obeisances, and then jump up to accompany him to the door yelling "Hare Krishna! Hari Bol!" On his way out he turns, throws his hand in the air, and says again in a majestic voice, "Chant Hare Krishna!" The devotees, feeling his love, return to the feast, some still shaking their heads in bliss, others saying softly, "Hare Bol," or "All glories to Prabhupada." After some time the guests slowly begin to leave and the newly married couples prepare to leave for their respective new homes to join together in long and happy lives in praise of the sweet Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna.
This "Sree Vyas Puja Homage" was read by Abhay Charan Das (His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami) before the members of the Sri Gaudlya Math in Bombay in February, 1936 on the occasion of the birthday anniversary of His Divine Grace Prabhupada Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakur. His Divine Grace Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati was very fond of the poem by Abhay Charan and was especially pleased by the lines: "Absolute is sentient Thou hast proved, /Impersonal calamity/Thou hast moved." The speech was published later in 1936 in The Harmonist, the publication of the Gaudiya Math. It is noteworthy that the same spirit of preaching has been maintained by His Divine Grace over the past 33 years. This is testimony to the eternality of the message of Krishna Consciousness.
Sree Vyas Puja Offering
Adore adore ye all
Oh! my Master
Misled we are
Message of service
Absolute is sentient
Had you not come
The line of service
—Abhay Charan Das
Sri Vyas Puja Homage
Saksad haritvena samasta sastrai
"In the revealed scriptures it is declared that the Spiritual Master should be worshipped like the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and this injunction is obeyed by pure devotees of the Lord. The Spiritual Master is the most confidential servant of the Lord. Thus let us offer our respectful obeisances unto the Lotus Feet of our Spiritual Master."
On behalf of the members of the Bombay branch of The Gaudiya Math, let me welcome you all, because you have so kindly joined us tonight in our congregational offerings of Homage to the Lotus Feet of the world-teacher Acharyadeva, who is the founder of this Gaudiya Mission and is the President Acharya of Sree Sree Viswa Vaishnab Raj-Shabha,—I mean my eternal Divine Master Paramhansa Paribrajakacharya Sree Sreemad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj.
Sixty-two years ago, on this auspicious day—the Acharyadeva made his appearance by the call of Thakore Bhakti-Vinode at Sree Kshetra Jaggannathdham at Puri.
Gentlemen, the offerings of such a homage as has been arranged this evening to the Acharyadeva is not a sectarian concern, because when we speak of the fundamental principle of Gurudeva or Acharyadeva, we speak of something that is of universal application. There does not arise any question of discriminating my Guru from that of yours or of any one else's. There is only one Guru who appears in an infinity of forms to teach you, me and all others. The Guru or Acharyadeva, as we learn from the bonafide scriptures, delivers the message of the absolute world, I mean the transcendental abode of the Absolute Personality where everything non-differentially serves the Absolute Truth. We have heard so many times that mahajana yena gatah sa pantha (Traverse the trail which your previous acharya has passed.), but we have hardly tried to understand the real purport of this sloka, and if we scrutiniously study this proposition we understand that mahajana is one, and the royal road to the transcendental world is also one. In the Katha Upanishada it is said,
Tad vijnartham sa gurumevabhigachhet.
"In order to learn that transcendental science, one must approach the bonafide Spiritual Master in disciplic succession, fixed in the Absolute Truth."
Thus it has been enjoined herewith that in order to receive that transcendental knowledge one must approach the Guru. Therefore, if the Absolute Truth is one, about which we think there is no difference of opinion, the Guru also cannot be two. The Acharyadeva to whom we have assembled tonight to offer our humble homage, is not the Guru of a sectarian institution or one out of many differing exponents of the truth. On the contrary He is the Jagatguru or the Guru of all of us; the only difference is that some obey Him wholeheartedly, while others do not obey Him directly.
In the Bhagavatam it is said—
Acharyam mam vijaniyat navamanyeta karhichit.
"One should understand the Spiritual Master to be as good as I am," said the Blessed Lord. "Nobody should be jealous of the Spiritual Master or think of Him as an ordinary man because the Spiritual Master is the sum total of all demigods."
That is, the Acharya has been identified with Godhead Himself. He has nothing to do with the affairs of this mundane world. He does not descend here to meddle with the affairs of temporary necessities but to deliver the fallen and conditioned souls—the souls or entities who have come here in the material world with a motive of enjoyment by the mind and the five organs of sense perception. He appears before us to reveal the light of the Vedas and to bestow upon us the blessings of full-fledged freedom after which we should hanker at every step of our life's journey.
The transcendental knowledge of the Vedas were first uttered by Godhead to Brahma the Creator of this particular universe. From Brahma the Knowledge descended to Narada, from Narada to Vyasadeva, from Vyasadeva to Madhwa and in this process of disciplic succession the transcendental knowledge was being transmitted by one disciple to another till it reached Lord Gauranga or Sree Krishna Chaitanya Who posed as the Disciple and Successor of Sree Ishvara Puri. The present Acharyadeva is the tenth disciplic representative from Sree Rupa Goswami, the original representative of this transcendental tradition in its fullness from Lord Chaitanya. The knowledge that we receive from Him is not different from that imparted by Godhead Himself and the succession of the Acharyas in the preceptorial line of Brahma. We adore this auspicious day as Sree Vyas-Puja Tithi because the Acharya is the living representative of Vyasdeva, the Divine compiler of the Vedas, the Puranas, Gita, Mahabharata and the Bhagavatam. One who interprets the Divine Sound or Sabdabrahman by his imperfect sense perception cannot be a real spiritual Guru because in the absence of the empiricist's proper disciplinary training under the bonafide Acharya, the interpreter is sure to differ from Vyasdeva (as the Mayabadins do), the prime authority of the Vedic Revelation, and therefore, such irrelevant interpreter cannot be accepted as the Guru or Acharya howsoever he may be equipped with all the acquirements of material knowledge. As it is said—
Sampradaya vihina ye mantraste biphalamatah.
"Unless you are initiated by a bonafide spiritual Master in the disciplic succession, the mantra that you might have received is without any effect."
On the other hand one who has received the transcendental knowledge through the bonafide preceptor in the disciplic chain by aural reception and has sincere regard for the real Acharya must needs be enlightened with the revealed knowledge of Vedas which is permanently sealed to the cognitive approach of the empiricists. As it is said in Shetaswatara Upanishada,
Yasyadeve parabhakti yatha deve tatha gurou.
"Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the Spiritual Master, simultaneously, are all the imports of Vedic Knowledge automatically revealed."
Gentlemen, our knowledge is so poor, our senses are so imperfect and our sources are so limited that it is not possible for us to have even the slightest knowledge of the absolute region without surrendering ourselves at the Lotus Feet of Sree Vyasdeva or His bonafide representative. Every moment we are being deceived by the knowledge of our direct perception—they are all the creation or concoction of the mind which is always deceiving, changing and flickering. We cannot know anything of the transcendental region by our limited perverted method of observation and experiment. But all of us can lend our eager ears for the aural reception of the transcendental sound transmitted from that region to this through the unadulterated medium of Sree Gurudeva or Sree Vyasdeva. Therefore gentlemen, we should surrender ourselves today to the Feet of the representative of Sree Vyasdeva for the elimination of all our differences bred by our unsubmissive attitude. It is accordingly said in Sree Gita,
Tad biddhi prani patena pari prasnena sebaya
"Just approach the wise and bonafide Spiritual Master. Surrender unto him first and try to understand him by enquiries and service. Such a wise Spiritual Master will enlighten you with transcendental knowledge because he has already known the Absolute Truth."
To receive the transcendental knowledge we must completely surrender ourselves to the real Acharya in a spirit of ardent enquiry and service. The actual performance of the service of the Absolute under the guidance of the Acharya is the only vehicle by which we can assimilate the transcendental knowledge. Today's meeting for offering our humble services and homage to the Feet of the Acharyadeva will enable us to be favoured with the capacity of assimilating the transcendental knowledge so kindly transmitted by Him to all persons without distinction.
Gentlemen, we are more or less all proud of our past Indian civilization, but we actually do not know the real nature of that civilization. We cannot be proud of our past material civilization which is now thousand times greater than in the days gone by. It is said that we are passing through the age of darkness or the Kaliyuga. What is this darkness? The darkness cannot be due to backwardness in material knowledge, because we have now more of it than formerly. If not we ourselves, our neighbours at any rate have plenty of it, and therefore, we must conclude that the darkness of the present Age is not due to lack of material advancement, but that we have lost the clue to our spiritual advancement which is the prime necessity of human life and the criterion of the highest type of human civilization. Throwing of bombs from aeroplanes is no advancement of civilization from the primitive uncivilized way of dropping big stones on the heads of the enemies from the tops of the hills. Improvement of the art of killing our neighbours by inventing machine guns and by means of poisonous gases is certainly no advancement from primitive barbarism priding itself on its art of killing by bows and arrows, nor does the development of a sense of pampered selfishness prove anything more than intellectual animalism. True human civilization is very different from all these states, and therefore, in the Katha Upanisada there is the emphatic call—
uttisthata jagrata prapya varan nibodhata
"Please get up, awake and try to understand that boon of life which you now have in this human form of life. The path of spiritual realization is very difficult and is sharp like the razor's edge. That is the opinion of learned transcendental scholars."
Thus while others were yet in the womb of historical oblivion, the sages of India had developed a different kind of civilization which enables us to know ourselves. They had discovered that we are not at all material entities, but that we are all spiritual, permanent and nondestructible servants of the Absolute. But because we have against our better judgment chosen to completely identify ourselves with this present materialised existence, our sufferings have multiplied by subjection to the inexorable law of births and deaths and consequent diseases and anxieties. These sufferings cannot be really mitigated by any provision of material happiness because matter and spirit are completely different elements. It is just as if you take an aquatic animal out of water and put it on the land, supplying all manner of happiness possible on land. The deadly sufferings of the animal are not capable of being relieved at all till it is taken out of its foreign environment. Spirit and matter are completely contradictory things. All of us are spiritual entities. We cannot have perfect happiness which is our birthright, however much we may meddle with the affairs of the mundane things, unless and until we are restored to our natural state of spiritual existence. This is the distinctive message of our ancient Indian civilization, this is the message of the Gita, this is the message of the Vedas and the Puranas and this is the message of all the real Acharyas and of our present Acharyadeva in the line of Lord Chaitanya.
Gentlemen, although it is imperfectly that we have been enabled by His Grace to understand the sublime messages of our Acharyadeva Om Vishnupada Paramahansa Paribrajakacharya Sree Sreemad Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj, yet we must admit that we have realized definitely that the Divine message from his holy lips is the congenial thing for the suffering humanity. All of us should hear him patiently. If we listen to the Transcendental Sound without unnecessary opposition, he will surely have mercy upon us. The Acharya's message is to take us back to our original home and back to God. Let me repeat, therefore, that we should hear Him patiently, follow Him in the measure of our conviction and bow down at His Lotus Feet for releasing us of our present causeless unwillingness for serving the Absolute and all souls.
About this spiritual existence we learn from the Gita that even after the destruction of the body, the Atma or the soul is not destroyed; he is always the same, always new and fresh; that fire cannot burn, water cannot dissolve, the air cannot dry up or the sword cannot kill him; that he is everlasting and eternal and this is also confirmed in the Bhagavatam by the sloka,
Yasya atmabuddhi kunape tridhatuke
"Anyone who accepts this bodily bag of three elements (bile, mucous, and air) as his self and who has an affinity for an intimate relationship with his wife and children, and who considers his land as worshipable, and who accepts the waters of the holy places of pilgrimage but never takes advantage of those persons who are in actual knowledge, is no better than an ass or cow."
But unfortunately in these days we have all been turned foolish by neglecting our real comfort and have identified the material cage with ourselves. We have concentrated thereby all our energies for the meaningless upkeep of the material cage for its own sake, completely neglecting the captive soul within. The cage is for the undoing of the bird, and not the bird is for the cage. The poisoned shirt is for the death of the wearer who is never meant for wearing the coat. Let us, therefore, deeply ponder over the thing. All our activities are now turned towards the upkeep of the cage and the most we do is try to give some food to the mind by arts and literature. But we do not know that this mind is also material in a more subtle form. This is stated in the Gita—
Bhumi rapoanalobayuh kham buddhi manoreva cha
"Earth, fire, water, air, sky, intelligence, mind and ego are all My separated energies.
We have scarcely tried to give any food to the soul as distinct from the body and mind, and therefore we are all committing suicide in the proper sense of the term. The message of the Acharyadeva is to give us a warning halt to the procedure of such wrong activities. Let us, therefore bow down at His Lotus Feet for the unalloyed mercy and kindness He has bestowed upon us.
Gentlemen, do not for a moment think that my Gurudeva wants to put a complete brake to the modern civilization, which is an impossible feat. But let us learn from Him the art of how to make the best use of a bad bargain and let us understand the importance of this human life which is fit for the highest development of true consciousness, and let us not neglect it. The best use of this rare human life should not be avoided. Says Srimad Bhagwatam—
Labdhu sudur labhamidam bahu sambhavante
"This human form of life is obtained after very many births, and although it is not permanent it can offer the highest benefits. Therefore, a sober and intelligent man should immediately try to furfill his mission to attain the highest profit in life before another death occurs. He should avoid sense gratification which is available in all circumstances."
Let us not misuse it in the vain pursuit of material enjoyment, or, in other words, for the sake of only eating, sleeping, fearing and sensuous activities. The Acharyadeva's message is conveyed by the words of Sree Rupa Goswami—
"One is supposed to be situated in the full renounced order of life if he lives in accordance with Krishna Consciousness. He should be without attachment for sense gratification and should accept only what is necessary for the upkeep of the body. On the other hand one who renounces things which could be used in the service of Krishna Consciousness, under the pretext that such things are material, does not practice complete renunciation." ( Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.2.255-256)
And the purport of these slokas can only be realized by fully developing the rational portion of our life and not the animal portion. Let us try to understand from this transcendental source of knowledge as to what we are, what is this universe and what is God and what is our interrelation, at the Feet of the Acharyadeva.
The message of Lord Chaitanya is the message for the living entities and the message of the living world. Lord Chaitanya did not bother Himself for the upliftment of this dead-world which is suitably named as the Martyaloka or the world where everything is destined to be dead,—but He appeared before us 450 years before to tell us something of the transcendental universe where everything is permanent and everything is for the service of the Absolute. But recently Lord Chaitanya has been misrepresented by some designing persons, and the highest philosophy of the Lord has been misinterpreted to be the cult of the lowest type of society, and we are glad to announce tonight that our Acharyadeva with His usual kindness saved us from this horrible type of degradation, and therefore, let us bow down at His Lotus Feet with all humility.
Gentlemen, it has been like a mania for the cultured or the uncultured society of the present day to accredit the Personality of Godhead in His mere impersonal feature and to stultify the Personality of Godhead as having no sense, no form, no activity, no head, no leg, and no enjoyment. This has also been the pleasure of the modern scholars due to their sheer lack of proper guidance and true introspection in the spiritual realm. All these empiricists think alike, as if all the enjoyable things should be monopolised by the human society, or by a particular class only, the Impersonal Godhead being a mere order-supplier for their whimsical feats. We are happy that we have been relieved of this horrible type of malady by the mercy of His Divine Grace Paramahansa Paribrajakacharya Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj, our eye-opener, our eternal father, our eternal preceptor and our eternal guide. Let us, therefore, bow down at His Lotus Feet on this auspicious day.
Gentlemen, although we are like ignorant children in the knowledge of the transcendence, still His Divine Grace my Gurudeva has kindled a small fire within us to dissipate the invincible darkness of the empirical knowledge, and we are so much so on the safe side that no amount of philosophical argument of the empiric schools of thought can deviate us an inch from the position of our eternal dependence on the Lotus Feet of His Divine Grace—and we are prepared to challenge the most erudite scholars of the Mayavada school on this vital issue that the Personality of Godhead and His transcendental Sports in Goloka alone constitute the sublime information of the Vedas. There are explicit indications of this in the Chhandyogya Upanishada especially in the text—
Syamatsavalam prapadye sabalatsyamam prapadye.
"For receiving the mercy of Krishna I surrender unto His energy (Radha), and for receiving the mercy of His energy I surrender unto Krishna."
and in the Rigveda Samhita—
Tadvisnoh paramampadam sadapasyanti surayah
"The Lotus Feet of the Lord Vishnu are the Supreme Objective of all the demigods. These Lotus Feet of the Lord are enlightening as the sun in the sky."
This plain thing so vividly explained in the Gita, which is the central lesson of the Vedas, is not understood, nay even suspected, by the most powerful scholars of the empiric schools. Herein lies the secret of Sree Vyasa Puja. We are glad to meditate on the transcendental Pastimes of the Absolute Godhead; we are proud to feel that we are His eternal servitors which make us jubilant and dance with joy. All Glory to my Divine Master for it is He Who has, out of His unceasing flow of mercy, stirred up within us such a movement of eternal existence. Let us bow down at His Lotus Feet.
Gentlemen, had he not appeared before us to deliver us from the thraldom of this gross worldly delusion—surely we should have remained for lives and ages in the darkness of helpless captivity. Had he not appeared before us, we would not have been able to understand the eternal truth of the sublime teaching of Lord Chaitanya, had He not appeared before us, we could not have been able to know the significance of the first sloka of Brahmasamhita,
lsvara parama Krishna sachchidananda vigrahah
"Krishna who is known as Govinda is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal blissful spiritual body. He is the Origin of all. He has no other origin and He is the Prime Cause of all causes."
Personally I have no hope to have any direct service for the coming crores of births of the sojourn of my life, but I am confident that some day or other I shall be delivered from this mire of delusion in which I am at present so deeply sunk. Therefore, let me with all my earnestness pray at the Lotus Feet of my Divine Master to let me suffer the lot which I am destined to do for all my past misdoings, but to let me have this power of recollection, that I am nothing but a tiny servant of the Almighty Absolute Godhead, realised through the unflinching mercy of my Divine Master. Let me, therefore, bow down at His Lotus Feet with all the humility at my command.
ABHAY CHARAN DAS
For Members, Sree Gaudlya Math, Bombay.
Teachings Of Lord Chaitanya
by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami; 292 pp., ISKCON Books, $5.95.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, foremost teacher of the Vedic science of spiritual realization in the world today, was born Abhay Charan De on Sept. 1, 1896 in Calcutta. He attended the University of Calcutta, majoring in philosophy, English and economics, and after finishing his education took up the management of a large chemical firm. It was in 1922 that he met his spiritual master, His Divine Grace Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj. From the beginning Srila Bhaktisiddhanta instructed him to bring the message of Lord Chaitanya to the Western World. In 1933, Abhay Charan De was initiated by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, and in 1944 he began Back To Godhead, a semi-monthly magazine in the English language, as a first step toward fulfilling his spiritual master's order. He was recognized as Bhaktivedanta in 1947, and in 1954 he became Vanaprastha, retired from family life. In 1959 he entered the renounced order of spiritual life, sannyasa, and now he is known as A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami.
It was in September of 1965 that His Divine Grace arrived in the United States, seeking further to fulfill the mission given him by his Guru Maharaj. By July of 1966 he had gathered some disciples to him, and he began the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Now this society has branches in the major cities of the U.S., Canada, Britain and Germany. His Divine Grace is the author of a number of other books, including "Srimad Bhagwatam" (complete in 60 volumes), "Nectar of Devotion," and the recently published "Bhagavad Gita As It Is." He has also made two LP record albums—"Krishna Consciousness" and "Govinda."
The Swami writes out of his daily experiences with the authority of a master, so that his books are both learned and practical, instructive as well as deeply moving. The present volume is a study of the sublime philosophy of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Chaitanya advented Himself in Mayapur in the town of Nadia on February 18, 1486, and from the time of His appearance He made everyone chant Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Lord Chaitanya is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna Himself, advented in the present age of Kali Yuga in the garb of a devotee in order to experience the bliss of devotional service and to spread love of Godhead to everyone. TEACHINGS OF LORD CHAITANYA is based on the "Chaitanya Charitamrita" by Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami. Chaitanya Charitamrita, the topmost book in the field of spiritual science, deals with the life and precepts of Lord Chaitanya.
TEACHINGS OF LORD CHAITANYA begins with the Lord's instructions to Rupa Goswami on the bank of the Ganges at Prayag. He began His teaching as follows: "My dear Rupa, the science of devotional service is just like a great ocean, and it is not possible to show you all the length and breadth of the great ocean. But I shall simply try to explain about the nature of the ocean by just taking a drop of it; and you can thus taste it and understand what is that ocean of devotional service."
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu went on to teach that the human form of life is a very rare thing, and that it should not be wasted in the animal propensities of eating, sleeping, mating and defending. It should rather be utilized for spiritual realization. In order to do this one must receive the mercy of a bona fide spiritual master who imparts the science of devotional service to the student. The student receives this knowledge through submissive aural reception, and then it is his duty to faithfully carry out his master's instructions. In doing this one must be careful to avoid all offenses and obstacles on the path to pure devotion.
Sriman Mahaprabhu has explained the symptoms of pure devotion, the stages of devotional service and the development of the various "rasas," or mellows (flavors) existing between the devotee and Krishna.
Lord Chaitanya gave all this information to Rupa so that he could write books on the subject, and one of his principal works is "Bhakti-Rasamrita Sindbu" (literally, "The Ocean of the Pure Nectar of Devotional Service"), which A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami is very kindly preparing for us now under the title "Nectar of Devotion," soon to be published.
Both Rupa and his elder brother Sanatan were important government ministers, but after meeting Lord Chaitanya they both retired from government service and became His followers. Sanatan had great difficulty in doing so, because his service was very valuable to his Moslem ruler. He was thrown in jail, but while the governor was off fighting in a neighboring province Sanatan escaped and made his way through the jungles to Benares, where he joined the Lord.
The Lord instructed Sanatan in the process of devotional service, explaining that the living entity is of superior spiritual energy, but is in a marginal position. That is, sometimes he is controlled by spiritual nature and sometimes by material. If the living entity maintains his natural relationship of eternal part and parcel servitor to the Lord, he remains under the control of the spiritual potency of the Lord. And if he forgets his relationship and tries to be independent of the Lord, he is put under the control of the inferior material potency. The only way for the materially conditioned souls to achieve perfection, therefore, is through devotional service or Krishna Consciousness.
There are three features of the Absolute—the impersonal Brahman effulgence, the localized Paramatman (Supersoul) manifestation and the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Krishna is the origin of all these forms, and He has an infinite number of personal forms, such as Vishnu, which are eternally existent in the spiritual sky. These forms are also found on this planet and within this universe. Lord Chaitanya described His various types of "avataras," or incarnations, to Sanatan Goswami, and the account of this teaching in A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami's book will come as a distinct contribution to man's understanding of the varieties exhibited by the Absolute Truth in relation to the material world.
Krishna is the greatest of the great. No one can surpass His opulence. He possesses all fame, all beauty, all strength, all knowledge, all wealth and all renunciation. He is manifesting the material and spiritual universes simply through His energy. Lord Brahma, the topmost demigod in the universe, admits that he cannot conceive how great Krishna is. And it is the verdict of all Vedic literature that devotional service to this Supreme Personality of Godhead is the only thing worthwhile. In order to achieve such a state of perfection, one must be favored by a great soul, a pure devotee of the Lord.
Lord Chaitanya described to Sanatan some of the godly qualities of a devotee, as well as his behavior. The Lord also enunciated the devotional practices by which one reaches perfection. There are sixty-four items of devotional practice, and by their adoption one's devotional service gradually becomes pure. Lord Chaitanya explained devotional service according to the regulative principles, and He also described devotional service in attachment, which is a higher stage. The ecstasy of the Lord and His devotees, which is enjoyed according to their particular relationships on the transcendental plane. is described by the Lord to Sanatan, as well as the transcendental qualities of Radha and Krishna. All this and more is to be found in TEACHINGS OF LORD CHAITANYA, and the book therefore offers us a most unique insight into the very highest principles and concepts of transcendental existence. It is unlikely that any other work in the English language can approach this sublime achievement.
When the Lord finished His instructions, Sanatan offered his most humble prayers and asked for the Lord's benediction so that His teachings might fully evolve within his heart.
Lord Chaitanya next explained the famous "Atmarama" verse from Srimad Bhagwatam. He had previously explained it to Sarbabhouma Bhattacharya, but at Sanatan's request He explained it again, and the Lord gave 61 different explanations of the verse. The Lord has complete knowledge which far surpasses that of any mundane scholar, no matter how great he may be. Sanatan could understand that Lord Chaitanya was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna Himself, and he fell down at His feet and offered Him praise.
"The Lord then replied to Sanatan Goswami, 'Do not try to eulogize Me in that way. Just try to understand the real nature of Srimad Bhagwatam.'" In this way, Lord Chaitanya did not like to be called God. His role was to act as a devotee of the Lord and to set the example of pure devotional service. He empowered Sanatan Goswami to write many books on the subject of devotional service, and Sanatan kindly carried out His order. We who are the benefactors of such sublime gifts must offer all glory to Sanatan Goswami and Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu !
While the Lord was staying at Benares He was strongly criticized by the mayavadi (impersonalist) sannyasis who resided there. According to their principles, "Singing, dancing, and playing on musical instruments are strictly prohibited; they are called three kinds of sinful activities. The mayavadi sannyasi is supposed to engage his valuable time in the matter of Vedanta study. When the mayavadi sannyasis in Benares saw that Lord Chaitanya was indulging in singing, dancing and playing musical instruments, and was always chanting Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, they concluded that this sannyasi was not educated and, out of sentiment, He was misleading some of the followers. Shankaracharya has said that a sannyasi should always be engaged in studying Vedanta, and should be satisfied simply having one cloth and nothing more. Lord Chaitanya was neither studying Vedanta in formality, nor did He cease from singing and dancing, and so He was criticized by all the sannyasis at Benares, as well as by their householder followers."
While two of the Lord's followers were discussing the mayavadis' criticism of Him, a brahmin came and invited Lord Chaitanya to his place, where he had also invited all the other sannyasis. The Lord accepted the invitation, taking the opportunity to meet the mayavadi sannyasis, and the next day went to the house of the brahmin. He offered His respects to all the sannyasis assembled there and they returned His respects, as was usual. The Lord then had a conversation with Prakasananda Saraswati who was the chief amongst the impersonalist sannyasis.
Lord Chaitanya humbly explained His chanting of the Holy Name—Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—which had been instructed to Him by His spiritual master. The Lord also gave the true explanation of the Vedanta Sutra, and refuted the impersonalist philosophy which tries to draw some concocted meaning of its own from Vedanta Sutra. Lord Chaitanya said that Srimad Bhagwatam by Srila Vyasadeva, who also authored Vedanta Sutra, is the real commentary on the Vedanta. And Bhagwatam is the all-glorious description of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Lord Chaitanya refused to attempt any indirect interpretation of the Vedanta Sutra, and then put forth the direct interpretation of each of the verses. Prakasananda and his students admitted the defect of Shankaracharya's indirect interpretation, and accepted the teaching of Lord Chaitanya to be correct.
One day after this incident, as He was on His way to visit the temple of Viswonath and Bindumadhav, Lord Chaitanya began charting and dancing in the streets. "Thousands of people were gathered around Him, and there was a roaring following the vibration of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. This vibration was so tumultuous that Prakasananda Saraswati, who was sitting nearby, came immediately along with his disciples, and as soon as he saw the beautiful body of Lord Chaitanya and His nice dancing, along with His associates, he also joined and began to sing with Him: Hari! Hari! All the inhabitants of Benares were struck with wonder by seeing the dancing of Lord Chaitanya in ecstasy." When Lord Chaitanya stopped His chanting and dancing, Prakasananda Saraswati immediately fell at His feet and offered humble prayers to the Lord, begging His mercy and forgiveness. In this way all of Benares took up the chanting of the Holy Name.
After taking sannyasa, Lord Chaitanya went to Jagannath Puri on the east coast of India. There He met with Sarbabhouma Bhattacharya, the greatest logician of that time. Sarbabhouma took compassion on the young sannyasi, and he wanted to teach the Lord Vedanta Sutra, feeling that, without such instruction, it would be difficult for the handsome young man to continue in sannyasa. The Lord agreed, and Sarbabhouma spoke to Him about Vedanta Sutra continually for seven days. Lord Chaitanya did not say anything during all this time, and on the eighth day the Bhattacharya enquired as to why He was so silent.
Lord Chaitanya then criticized the mayavadi sannyasis who hear Vedanta Sutra simply as a formality and without any understanding. He went on to say that He understood the codes of Vedanta Sutra, which are not very difficult, but that Bhattacharya's explanations obscured the real meaning. This was because Bhattacharya was trying to expound some particular doctrine of his own through the codes. Therefore he was giving indirect meanings and hiding the true meanings of the Sutras.
All Vedic evidence affirms the Supreme Personality of Godhead to be the final concept of the Absolute Truth. Realization of the Supreme Person is higher than impersonal Brahman realization or localized Supersoul realization. Vedic literature, according to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, is meant for three things—telling us of our relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, showing us how to act according to that relationship and, finally, to achieve love of Godhead as the highest perfection of life. Lord Chaitanya showed many defects in the mayavadi philosophy. By the force of His arguments and His explanation of the Atmarama Sloka in 61 different ways, the Lord converted Sarbabhouma into a staunch and pure devotee. Lord Chaitanya showed His mercy to the Bhattacharya, and the Bhattacharya was melted by it.
While Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was on His tour of southern India, at the bank of the river Dudabundee, He met with Sri Ramananda Roy, who was the governor of that province. The Lord had been requested to see this great devotee by Sarbabhouma Bhattacharya, who had previously thought Roy rather mad.
Lord Chaitanya inquired of Ramananda Roy, "Please quote some verses from scripture about the ultimate goal of life for the human being." Thus begins the most moving and ecstatic section of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami's book, taking the reader step by step on a sublime journey to indescribable heights of transcendental consciousness. Ramananda Roy quoted several verses, which the Lord rejected. Then, "Ramananda Roy said that devotional service without any attempt at cultivation of knowledge or mental speculation is the highest stage of perfection," and to confirm this, he gave evidence from the Srimad Bhagwatam, Tenth Canto, 14th Chapter.
Lord Chaitanya immediately accepted this prescription presented by Ramananda Roy, and asked him to go further in advanced devotional service. Ramananda Roy mentioned several stages of devotion, and finally concluded that love of Radha and Krishna is the highest attainment. Ramananda Roy described the Holy Rasa Dance and Radharani's special attractiveness for Krishna. He also discussed the most confidential dealings of Radha and Krishna, and how to gain Their service and association.
These talks between Lord Chaitanya and Ramananda Roy are on the highest spiritual level, and in order to reach this level one must approach a bona fide spiritual master. A spiritual master is "a qualified person conversant with the science of Krishna." One should approach such a spiritual master with an attitude of submissive hearing and service. Then one will be eligible to achieve perfection. One can only approach Krishna through His representative, the spiritual master. This is also the verdict of Lord Chaitanya.
After ten days of high level discussions with Ramananda Roy, Lord Chaitanya left that place, inviting Ramananda Roy to join Him at Jagannath Puri, where they could spend the rest of Their lives together discussing Krishna. "After the departure of Lord Chaitanya, Ramananda Roy became overwhelmed by separation from the Lord; and he decided to retire from service just to meet the Lord again at Jagannath Puri."
Lord Chaitanya is the most magnanimous appearance of Godhead, and everyone should take advantage of His sublime instructions which are so nicely presented to us by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami in TEACHINGS OF LORD CHAITANYA. If one is fortunate enough, he can place his faith in this book, and can enter into the transcendental association of Radha and Krishna.
by Srinivas Acharya
I offer my respectful obeisances unto the six Goswamis, named Sri Sanatan Goswami, Sri Rupa Goswami, Sri Raghunath Bhatta Goswami, Sri Raghunath Das Goswami, Sri Jiva Goswami and Sri Gopal Bhatta Goswami, who are always engaged in chanting the Holy Name of Krishna and dancing. They are just like the Ocean of Love for God, and as such they are popular both with the gentle and with the ruffians, because they are not envious of anyone; and whatever they do, they are all-pleasing to everyone. As such, they are respectful to all, because they are fully blest by Lord Chaitanya. Thus they are engaged in missionary activities meant to deliver all the conditioned souls in the material universe.
I offer my respectful obeisances unto the six Goswamis, named Sri Sanatan Goswami, Sri Rupa Goswami, Sri Raghunath Bhatta Goswami, Sri Raghunath Das Goswami, Sri Jiva Goswami and Sri Gopal Bhatta Goswami, who are very expert in studying all the revealed scriptures scrutinizingly, with the aim of establishing eternal religious principles for the benefit of all human beings. On account of this they are honored all over the three worlds, and they are worth taking shelter of because they are in the mood of the Gopis [Krishna's most perfect devotees], and are engaged in the transcendental loving service of Radha and Krishna.
I offer my respectful obeisances unto the six Goswamis, named Sri Sanatan Goswami, Sri Rupa Goswami, Sri Raghunath Bhatta Goswami, Sri Raghunath Das Goswami, Sri Jiva Goswami and Sri Gopal Bhatta Goswami, who are very much enriched in the matter of understanding Lord Chaitanya, and who are thus expert in narrating His transcendental qualities. They can puirfy all conditioned souls from the reactions of their sinful activities by pouring upon them the transcendental songs about Govinda [Krishna]. As such, they are very expert in increasing the limits of the Ocean of Transcendental Bliss, and they are the saviors of the living entities from the devouring mouth of liberation.
I offer my respectful obeisances unto the six Goswamis, named Sri Sanatan Goswami, Sri Rupa Goswami, Sri Raghunath Bhatta Goswami, Sri Raghunath Das Goswami, Sri Jiva Goswami and Sri Gopal Bhatta Goswami, who kicked off all associations of aristocracy as insignificant. In order to deliver the poor conditioned souls, they accepted loin cloths, treating themselves as mendicants, but they are always merged in the ecstatic Ocean of the Gopis' love for Krishna, and bathe always and repeatedly in the waves of that Ocean.
I offer my respectful obeisances unto the six Goswamis, named Sri Sanatan Goswami, Sri Rupa Goswami, Sri Raghunath Bhatta Goswami, Sri Raghunath Das Goswami, Sri Jiva Goswami and Sri Gopal Bhatta Goswami, who were always engaged in worshiping Radha Krishna in the transcendental land of Vrindaban, where there are beautiful trees full of fruits and flowers, having under their roots all valuable jewels. The Goswamis are perfectly competent to bestow upon the living entities the greatest book of the goal of life.
I offer my respectful obeisances unto the six Goswamis, named Sri Sanatan Goswami, Sri Rupa Goswami, Sri Raghunath Bhatta Goswami, Sri Raghunath Das Goswami, Sri Jiva Goswami and Sri Gopal Bhatta Goswami, who were engaged in charting the Holy Name of the Lord and bowing down in a scheduled measurement. In this way, they were utilizing their valuable lives, and in executing these devotional activities they conquered over eating and sleeping, and were always meek and humble, enchanted by remembering the transcendental qualities of the Lord.
I offer my respectful obeisances unto the six Goswamis, named Sri Sanatan Goswami, Sri Rupa Goswami, Sri Raghunath Bhatta Goswami, Sri Raghunath Das Goswami, Sri Jiva Goswami and Sri Gopal Bhatta Goswami, who were sometimes on the bank of the Radha Kunda lake on the shores of the Yamuna, and sometimes in Bansibhat. There they appeared just like madmen in the full ecstasy of love for Krishna, exhibiting different transcendental symptoms on their bodies, and sometimes being merged in the ecstasy of Krishna Consciousness.
I offer my respectful obeisances unto the six Goswamis, named Sri Sanatan Goswami, Sri Rupa Goswami, Sri Raghunath Bhatta Goswami, Sri Raghunath Das Goswami, Sri Jiva Goswami and Sri Gopal Bhatta Goswami, who were chanting very loudly everywhere in Vrindaban, shouting as follows: "O Queen of Vrindaban—Radharani! O Lalita [Her associate]! O Son of Nanda Maharaj [Krishna]! Where are You all now? Are You just on the Hill of Goverdhan? Or are You under the trees on the bank of the Yamuna? Where are You?" These were their moods in executing Krishna Consciousness.