On the cover is Caitanya Mahaprabhu leading a sankirtana chanting party through the streets of Puri in India, 480 years ago. The five-thousand-year-old Vedic scriptures foretell the appearance of Caitanya Mahaprabhu: "In the age of Kali the Supreme Lord comes as one who always chants the holy name of Krsna, whose complexion is golden." (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 11.5.32) Caitanya Mahaprabhu was about twenty years old when He began His sankirtana movement, and yet He led crowds of hundreds of thousands in ecstatic chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra. The key to the success of the sankirtana movement is that it is simply joyful—it is pleasing to the Lord and it is pleasing to the devotee. In the present age blissful, eternal spiritual life is available to anyone who sincerely chants the names of God. Caitanya Mahaprabhu distributed this universal benediction all over India, even encouraging the wild animals in the jungles to dance and swoon in ecstasy at the singing of Hare Krsna. A Vaisnava poet in the disciplic line of Lord Caitanya expresses his desires to fully appreciate this sankirtana movement: "When will the time come when there will be shivering of my body simply by chanting the holy name of Lord Caitanya? And when will tears glide down from my eyes simply by chanting Hare Krsna!" Just as the original sankirtana movement was started by young boys, so it is appealing mainly to young people of today. The disciples of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, a spiritual master in direct descent from Caitanya Mahaprabhu, are spreading the present Hare Krsna movement among the youth of the Western countries, and the devotees are now spreading sankirtana throughout the whole world. This dynamic sankirtana movement has as its goal the awakening of the dormant love of God in all people of all races and religions. The Hare Krsna chanters are practically demonstrating all over the world that the understanding of one's joyful relationship with God is revealed by the chanting process. And this is due to the mercy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is Krsna Himself and who is revealed only through the mercy of His pure devotee, the spiritual master. Lord Caitanya and all the spiritual masters of the disciplic succession kindly request: "Please chant Hare Krsna."
—by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
[This lecture, delivered September 15, 1969 at Town Hall in London, is His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's first public address in England.]
Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you very much for your coming to this meeting. This Sankirtan movement is very authorized, according to the Vedic literature. Most of you are well acquainted with the studies of Bhagavad-gita, and in the Bhagavad-gita you will find that Lord Krsna says, "After many births, the man of wisdom seeks refuge in Me, knowing that Vasudeva is everything." After many, many births. Of course at the present moment they do not believe that there is birth after death, but it is not a question of whether you believe or do not believe. The truth is there. So there is birth after death. You do not die after finishing this body; you simply accept another body. That you can experience daily. In your childhood you can remember that you had a body just like a child's. Now you are grown up, and so where is that body? That body is gone. Now you have a new body, but you know that you once had a childhood body. Actually transmigration of the soul is a very simple subject. Any sensible man can understand it. And in the Bhagavad-gita, in the very beginning of the instruction, Krsna says that those who are sober and intelligent are not bewildered when a living entity changes his body. Change of body is going on at every moment, at every second, imperceptively. Medical science also accepts that at every second our bodies are changing. That is a fact. Our bodies are changing every moment, and the final change is called death. But actually there is no death. You simply accept another body.
Thus Krsna says that after many, many births of struggle or attempts to acquire knowledge, when one comes to the summit point of understanding, he understands that the Origin of everything is Vasudeva, Krsna. And the first aphorism of the Vedanta-sutra says that this human form of life is meant for inquiring about Brahman. And the Vedas say aham Brahmasmi, "I am Brahman. I am not this body. I am spirit soul." And when one understands that he is spirit soul, he at once becomes joyful. That is the sign of Brahma-bhuta. As soon as one realizes that he is Brahman, that he has nothing to do with this material world, then all anxieties immediately leave. Finished. And in the Vedanta-sutra you will also find that the spirit soul and the Supreme Soul are both ananda, blissful. By nature they are blissful, always wanting to enjoy. That is the nature of spirit. But at the present moment, because we have forgotten that we are spirit soul, part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, and have identified ourselves with something else, something which is transitory, we are suffering.
Actually we are not products of this material world, but we are thinking, "I am American, I am Indian. I am Englishman. I am German. I am Chinaman. I'm Russian, or I am a cat or dog." There are so many. These are all designations. But by realizing "I am Brahman," I am part and parcel of the Supreme Brahman, qualitatively I become one with God, just as a particle of gold is also gold. So qualitatively I am one with God or Krsna.
When I speak of Krsna, please understand I mean God, because Krsna means all attractive. Without being all attractive, one cannot be God. God must be all attractive, all opulent, all merciful, all luminous, all renounced, all beautiful. These are the qualifications of God.
Cultivation of knowledge is not easy for everyone. That is also stated in the Bhagavad-gita. Out of many millions of human beings, one may be interested to know what is the aim of life, one may ask, "Why am I suffering?" Everyone is suffering. That is a fact. In this material world nobody can be happy. If one is thinking he is happy materially, he is a fool. Nobody can be happy here, for this is the place for distress. It is certified by the scriptural law: This place is for misery. And we also learn that it is temporary. Even if we accept that although this is just a miserable place, we shall stay here, nonetheless, we shall not be allowed to stay. One day death will come and immediately kick us out. We have seen that the great President of the United States, Mr. Kennedy, who was supposed to be the happiest man in the world, was kicked out within a second. In our country, Mahatma Gandhi was a very popular leader, but in a second he was removed from the field. So we do not know when we shall be removed immediately by the freaks of nature. Therefore, the intelligent man should try to know his constitutional position. "I want to stay, but some super power kicks me out of this place. Why?" This is the question. The Vedanta-sutra instructs that human beings should not remain ignorant. You should question why you are suffering these threefold miseries. "I do not want death. Why does death overcome me?" An intelligent man should always keep before him the four principles of misery: birth, death, old age and disease. These are the instructions of the Bhagavad-gita. One who is making progress in knowledge must keep before him these four problems. You may be very much proud of your scientific advancement of knowledge, but here is the real science. If you overcome birth, death, old age, and disease, then you are advancing.
The Bhagavatam says, that after properly executing your duty as Indian or American or Englishman or scientist or businessman or father or mother, if you do not develop your anxiety to inquire about Brahman, then you have wasted your life This is the beginning of the Vedanta-sutra. People are interested in studying Vedanta, but Vedanta is not a matter of speculation. It is to be studied from the authorities. So if after executing your duties very properly, you do not develop your consciousness to know about yourself or the Supreme Self, then whatever you have done is simply a waste of time.
This message of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, this Hare Krsna movement, is to warn you, "Don't spoil this opportunity, this human form of life. Don't spoil it." Eating, sleeping, mating and defending are common to the animals and the human beings. You eat; the animals eat. You sleep; the animals sleep. You mate; the animals mate. You are afraid of your enemy; animals are also afraid of their enemy. So by discovering very palatable dishes to eat, or fashionable dresses for sex life or atom bombs for defending, by advancing in these principles only, you are no better than the animals. You are only as good as animals.
According to Sanskrit, dharma means constitutional position which you cannot change. For instance, sugar is sweet. If you say, "Oh, this sugar is salty," it is not sugar. So sweetness is the dharma of sugar. That is real dharma. Not that today I accept Hinduism, the next day I accept Christianity, or the next day I accept Mohammedanism. These are not dharma. Real dharma you cannot change. It is not possible to change. And what is that dharma? Krsna says, "You give up all speculative nonsense. Just surrender unto Me." To surrender unto the Supreme Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is real religion. And all sects and faiths are rituals to lead one to that point. Real religion is surrendering unto the Supreme Lord. Therefore Krsna says that after many, many births, when man is actually intelligent, he surrenders unto the Supreme Lord. Then he is mahatma. And what are the symptoms of mahatma? Those who are mahatmas are not under the control of this material nature. They are under the control of the spiritual nature. And what are the symptoms of one under the control of the spiritual nature? That is also explained in the Bhagavad-gita. He is fully surrendered unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead and always engaged in glorifying His activities. The mahatma is also always very careful about executing devotional service. He is always offering obeisances. In this way he enjoys and is satisfied. These are the signs of mahatma. There are so many theories on how to become liberated, how to become a mahatma how to become a religionist, how to become a philosopher, but real success in life is to become broadminded. Mahatma means broad-mind. They do not think "I am this, or I am that, I am Hindu; I am Muslim; I am Christian; I am Indian I am German; I am Englishman." No. The mahatma is freed from all designations. When I think "I am Englishman, or I am Indian," this is only my designation, because as soon as I change this body and accept another body, then all of this is immediately finished. Just like President Kennedy. President Kennedy and his philosophy are all finished. Now you do not know where Mr. Kennedy is and what he is doing. But he has a body; that is a fact. That I have already explained. But now you do not know where he is, nor does he know that he was President, or this or that. This is called illusion, maya.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura says, "My dear friends, my dear brothers, why are you being washed away by the waves of this illusion? You've been thrown into the ocean and are being washed away by the waves." Similarly, by the waves of this material nature we are being washed from one body to another, but actually we do not want this. Actually, every one of us wants a permanent body, a permanent position, a permanent life, a blissful life, a life of knowledge. But you do not know how to get it because you do not care to know. Everything is here. You don't have to study many books; just study Bhagavad-gita As It Is. We have therefore published this Bhagavad-gita As It Is without any nonsensical interpretations. As it is. When you attain this knowledge, you'll know what you are meant for.
This movement is meant to revive your original consciousness. Original consciousness is Krsna consciousness. And the other consciousness which you have now acquired is superficial, temporary. "I am Indian, I am this, I am that." These are all superficial. Real consciousness is aham Brahmasmi. Lord Caitanya, who started this movement 500 years ago in Bengal, India, immediately informs you that your real identity, your real constitutional position, is that of being part and parcel of Krsna or God. From this you can understand what your duty is. This hand is part and parcel of your body. What is the duty of this hand? To serve the body. That's all. The hand cannot enjoy independently. It is not possible. If you cut off this hand from this body and throw it into the street, nobody will care for it. It becomes ugly and useless. But so long as it is attached to this body, it is worth millions and trillions of dollars. If there is any trouble with it, you will spend any amount to save it, but when this hand is detached from this body, you don't care if it is trampled upon by any man. So this is our position. We are part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. If we remain attached to the Supreme, then we have value. Otherwise we have no value. Therefore Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita, "Just be attached to Me. Then your all problems are solved."
This Krsna consciousness is there. You can see that there are now twenty branches in Europe and America and the boys and girls are neither Hindu nor Indian. In the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, I am the only Indian. How is it others are taking it? Because it is there. It is in you. It is in me, in everyone. We simply have to invoke it, that's all. And that invoking process is this Sankirtan Movement. If you chant Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, your heart will become cleared and you will understand that Krsna is everything.
This movement is neither manufactured, nor bogus, nor bluff. It is genuine and authorized. Try to understand this philosophy. We are teaching no new philosophy. Bhagavad-gita as it is, that's all. Bhagavad-gita is read all over the world, but unfortunately there are many rascal interpreters who are poisoning the whole thing. But just try to understand Bhagavad-gita as it is, and the goods will be immediately delivered.
In Srimad-Bhagavatam, in describing the condition of this age of Kali, Sukadeva Gosvami said that at the end of this age the condition will be very horrible. So after explaining the difficulties of this age, Kali-yuga (of which 5,000 years we have already passed and of which 427,000 years are still remaining), Sukadeva Gosvami says, "My dear King, I have explained to you the difficulty and resultive condition of this age, Kali-yuga, but there is a great opportunity in this age. And what is that? Simply by chanting this Hare Krsna mantra, one can become freed from all contamination and be eligible for promotion to the spiritual kingdom which is beyond this dark region." This material world is darkness. For instance, there is no sun now. It is dark, so we have to illuminate by electric light, by moonlight, by so many things. Actually, the nature of this world is darkness. Therefore the basic injunction is, "Don't remain in this darkness. Go to that effulgent region." The Bhagavad-gita says the same thing. Everything is there in the Bhagavad-gita. So our request is that you read The Bhagavad-gita As It Is. That is my request. I am not charging anything; I am not making a profession. This Sankirtan Movement is free. Not that it is a secret thing and if you pay me something then I shall give you some mantra. It is an open secret. If you chant Hare Krsna, there is no loss, but there is great gain. You can try it. We are freely distributing it by chanting. Join with us and try to understand this philosophy. We have a monthly magazine, "Back to Godhead," and many publications, Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Teachings of Lord Chaitanya. If you want to understand this movement through philosophy, science, argument, we are prepared. But if you simply chant, there is no need of education nor philosophizing. Chant Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, and you will gain everything. Thank you.
[The following is a press conference given upon Prabhupada's arrival in England, September 11, 1969. These are the first words he spoke to his English audience.]
PRABHUPADA: I am personally not very much fond of receptions. I want to know how people give reception to this movement. That is my purpose.
REPORTER: How long will you be in England?
PRABHUPADA: I am coming here for the second time. Last time in 1967, when I was going to India, I stayed here for two days and then went away. Practically this is the first time I have come.
REPORTER: And for how long now?
PRABHUPADA: That I do not know. I have so many fathers and mothers to take care of me. So as long as they keep me here I can stay.
REPORTER: Can I ask if this is a very special welcome for you, or is this a performance that you do each day?
PRABHUPADA: No, wherever I go, I have my disciples. In the Western countries, I have about twenty centers, especially in America and Canada. The American boys are very enthusiastic. I got in Los Angeles and San Francisco a very great reception, and at the Ratha-yatra Festival about 10,000 boys and girls followed me for seven miles.
REPORTER: What are you trying to teach, sir?
PRABHUPADA: I am trying to teach what you have forgot. That is God. Some of you are saying there is no God. Some of you are saying God is dead, and some of you are saying God is impersonal or void. These are all nonsense. I want to teach that there is God. That is my mission. Any nonsense can come to me; I can prove that there is God. That is my mission. Krsna consciousness. It is a challenge to the atheistic people. There is God. We are sitting here face to face; similarly you can see God face to face if you are sincere and if you are serious. But unfortunately we are trying to forget God. Therefore we are embracing so many miseries of life. So I am simply preaching that you be Krsna conscious and be happy. Don't be swayed away by this nonsense, by the waves of maya or illusion. That is my mission.
REPORTER: Is this chanting essential to the sustenance of your faith?
PRABHUPADA: This chanting is the process of clearing the dust accumulated on the heart. Our relationship with God is eternal. It cannot be broken. But due to the contact of maya, we are trying to forget Him. But if we chant this Holy Name of God, Hare Krsna, then maya will not act, and we shall very quickly understand our relationship with God. That is the process. In the Bhagavad-gita it is said that those who are miscreants, rascals and the lowest of the mankind and atheistic do not know what is God. But those who are virtuous or those who are inquisitive will try and understand what is God. So my appeal to you is that you try to understand this movement, Krsna consciousness. It is not a bogus movement. It is scientific, authorized. Any scientist, any philosopher, any logician may come, and we shall prove that there is God and that we have an eternal relationship with Him. So if you want happiness, then you must take to this Krsna consciousness movement. Otherwise the human race is doomed. Anyone who has no God consciousness has no qualifications, however academically rich he may be. His only qualification is mental concoction, that's all. So we reject all this nonsense. We simply accept a sincere soul who wants to dedicate his life for God's service. These boys and girls who are following me are very elevated; they are not ordinary boys and girls. They have taken to Krsna consciousness. Their quality is greater than that of any mundane erudite scholar. For one who has developed Krsna consciousness, love of God, all good qualities will automatically develop in him. Bring anyone in this world to test any one of our boys. You will find how much difference there is in their character, in their feeling and consciousness. If you want peaceful society, then you must make people God conscious, Krsna conscious. Then everything will be automatically solved. Otherwise your so-called United Nations will not help.
REPORTER: Mr. Billy Graham makes people God conscious in a different way. Can you tell me what you think of him?
PRABHUPADA: I do not know what is Billy Graham, but I am following the Vedic principles, Bhagavad-gita as it is. Krsna says that you give up all nonsense occupations and simply surrender unto Him, and He will take charge of you and give you protection. This is our philosophy.
REPORTER: Can I ask you several questions about your general attitude about things going on around us? For instance, what do you feel about man going to the moon?
PRABHUPADA: This is simply a waste of time. I already commented on this when I was in San Francisco. The reporters asked me this very question and I gladly replied that it is simply a waste of time and a waste of money. That's all.
REPORTER: What about something very much nearer to ourselves in this country, and that is of war, or civil disturbance going on, between Christians.
PRABHUPADA: We are not Christian nor Hindu nor Muslim. We are God's servants. That's all. With anyone who is God's servant, there is no disagreement. But when one is maya's servant, servant of illusion, then there is disagreement. That system of religion is first-class which teaches how to love God. That's all. It doesn't matter whether it is Christian religion, Mohammedan religion or Hindu religion. We can see if the follower of the religion has learned how to love God, then his religion is perfect. Otherwise it is useless.
REPORTER: So you don't think it's worth going to such places as Ireland and trying to talk to the people out there.
PRABHUPADA: This is our talking: first-class religion is that which teaches how to love God. Try to understand this. This is a simple process.
REPORTER: Yes, but don't you think it's worth going over there to help them?
PRABHUPADA: We can see. Suppose you are Christian. If you have developed your sense of loving God, then you are perfect. But instead of loving God, if you have developed your sense of loving dog, then you have wasted your time.
[Prabhupada is suddenly informed that his car is waiting, and he prepares to leave the terminal.]
REPORTER: I just want to know how old you are.
PRABHUPADA: I am 74 years old. I was born in 1896.
REPORTER: Where abouts?
PRABHUPADA: In India. Calcutta.
REPORTER: Are you married, sir?
PRABHUPADA: Yes, I have my sons, and they have sons. My wife is living. But I have no connection with them. I am a sannyasi ... renounced order.
REPORTER: You say you have no connection with your family.
PRABHUPADA: Because I have taken sannyasa. I have dedicated my life for Krsna.
REPORTER: I see.
PRABHUPADA: That is the Vedic system: a certain portion of your life you should simply dedicate for God. That is called sannyasa.
REPORTER: To do this, did you have to divorce?
PRABHUPADA: No. There is no question of divorce. We do not even know what divorce is. In our country there is no divorce. Wife and husband, once combined, there is no question of separation, in all circumstances, either in distress or in happiness. Our modern politicians have introduced this divorce law, otherwise, according to Hindu Manu-samhita, there is no divorce law.
REPORTER: When did you renounce your family?
PRABHUPADA: In 1959.
REPORTER: How are they managing without you?
PRABHUPADA: They are managing. My sons are grown up and are earning. My wife is also a rich man's daughter; she has some property. So they have no problems.
REPORTER: Do you ever see them at all?
PRABHUPADA: I cannot see, at least, my wife. But if my sons and daughters come to see me, I can see them. But my wife I cannot see. That is the system of sannyasa. A sannyasi cannot see his wife again. Renunciation means renouncing connection with woman, renouncing sex life. That is renunciation.
[Prabhupada is escorted to a car which takes him from the airport to the London temple.]
—by Kirtanananda Swami
Prasadam means food for the body, food for the soul and food for God. More specifically, it is food which has been sanctified by special selection and preparation and then offered to Krsna, God, in love and devotion. Cooking for God? How absurd that sounds to the sophisticates of this modern age! How anthropomorphic! Even most transcendentalists will smile a smile of condescension at the suggestion: cooking for God! But why not? We cook for every conceivable nonsensical purpose. Why not cook instead for the Lord? Why shouldn't this most important and central activity of life be dedicated to the Supreme? Why not cook transcendentally?
We are not so naive as to suggest that God needs our food, but we are suggesting that we need God to bless the energy of our hands, and thus to sustain us by means of daily bread. He does this by accepting and eating the food which we prepare and offer to Him, and then giving it back to us in the form of prasadam.
In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna says: "If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it. O son of Kunti, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me." (Gita, 9.26-27) Of course, He doesn't need food; He is Supreme, Absolute. He is full of all opulences, namely, wealth, fame, beauty, strength, knowledge and renunciation. He is never in need or want of anything. Still, He asks His devotee to offer Him these simple fruits of the earth. The key word is devotion. Twice it is used: "If in full devotion a pure devotee offers a little leaf, a little flower, a little fruit with a little water, because he offers it with great devotion, the Supreme Per venality of Godhead accepts them and eats them." So it is not as if the Lord were in need of something; He is fully satisfied in Himself. Indeed, He is EVERYTHING. So whatever we are offering Him, be it a grain or a fruit, it is already His; it is not, and never was, "ours." But out of His Causeless Mercy, He is so kind to His devotees that any small offering given in devotion He accepts and eats. The Lord is not hungry for our food, but for our hearts; He is not wanting for our substance, but for our consciousness, our love, our union.
This is why prasadam is "mercy." In shopping, in preparation, in eating, we are given a chance to remain conscious of Him, to be engaged in His transcendental loving service. This is why the word bhakti, or devotion, is so stressed—it is this bhakti which makes the Supreme Lord "transcendentally hungry." Even the greatest banquet cooked by the most renowned chef has no appeal to one who is not hungry; so, too, Krsna's acceptance of our gifts is dependent upon His being "hungry"; and only our love and devotion can do that. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami writes: "The devotee is so humble and submissive to the Supreme Lord that whenever he prepares something for the Lord, he takes all care to finish the preparation nicely. And for such offering a devotee asks nothing. It is the exchange of love. That love is accepted by the Supreme Lord, and He eats ... Therefore, devotional service is the only way to offer anything to the Supreme Lord, to understand the Supreme Lord, to be in the confidence of the Supreme Lord, and to go back to the Supreme Abode of the Supreme Lord." Devotional service begins with the chanting of the Lord's Holy Names, as in the Maha Mantra: HARE KRSNA, HARE KRSNA, KRSNA KRSNA, HARE HARE/ HARE RAMA, HARE RAMA, RAMA RAMA, HARE HARE. That is the first great activity of transcendental service, and the next is to prepare and offer food to the Lord. There are a number of reasons for doing so. First of all, Krsna commands it: "The devotees of the Lord are released from all sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin. All living bodies subsist on food grains; food grains are produced from rains, rains come from performance of sacrifice, and sacrifice is born of man's work." (Gita, 3.13-14). Here, then, the Lord asserts that EVERYTHING belongs to and comes from Him alone. It is already His, but He invites us to take it and offer it to Him first, and then eat the remnants for our bodily demands.
Similarly, because everything belongs to Him, we have no right to take anything we please, but only what He allots us; and our allotment, according to the Gita and the Vedas, is what can be offered to Him: a leaf, a fruit, etc. At no point does He ask us to offer meat, or fish, or eggs; but, on the contrary, the prohibition against animal slaughter is so strong that even if one has only an indirect dealing with animal slaughter, such as selling or transporting, he is guilty of murder and must pay a murderer's price. (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 1.7.37) Therefore, we cannot offer Lord Krsna animal flesh, and to do so is an offense.
If I am preparing a dinner for my friend and I know he does not like spinach, I do not fix spinach. I go to all pains to prepare only those things which he likes. That is the meaning of friendship. If one has no regard for Krsna's wishes, how can he claim to be the Lord's friend? If we want to cook nicely for Krsna, we must dovetail our desires with His desires, and that is clearly expressed in the above-quoted verses.
There is another reason why we must offer our food to Krsna if we wish to make spiritual progress. Not only are we thieves if we do not, but we become further implicated in the wheel of samsara by sinful reactions. That every action has a reaction is as true in regard to our personal behavior as in the laboratory test tube. The slaying of life automatically provokes a like result upon the slayer, and if I sustain myself on another's life, at some point my life will be demanded in return. That is nature's law.
This applies equally to those who take animal life and to those who take plant life. Life is life, and the slayer will be slain. Then what is the difference? The difference is that Krsna says we may offer the leaves and flowers to Him, and by accepting them He also accepts all the sinful reactions, leaving the purified remnants, free from all reactions, for our consumption. But those who eat that which is not offered to Krsna, or that which Krsna will not accept, are left with all the reactions on their own heads. That is why the Lord says: "The devotees of the Lord are released from all sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin..." (Gita, 3.13)
Of course, the devotee's primary concern is not for himself, nor even for liberation, but always for Krsna. Therefore suitable foodstuffs—suitable, that is, for Krsna—are the concern of the pure devotee: vegetables should be fresh and appealing to the eye, grains should be wholesome, fruits large and sweet, and milk fresh and pure. Obviously, living under the conditions of the modern metropolis, these are often impossible to procure—at least on our budgets; but we must do the best we can. That is Krsna consciousness.
No canned foods—please!
Having selected the items for preparation, our next concern is cleanliness. Since it is the Supreme for whom we are engaging our energy, we want to be super-hygienic—not for ourselves, but for Him. Wash your hands thoroughly as soon as you come into the kitchen; wash the food as you prepare it; use nothing that touches the floor or other contaminated areas, such as the sink and garbage pail, unless it can be cleansed. In all preparations, use only fresh things; no left-overs should be mixed in (they should not even be in the kitchen, but rather kept in a specific area of the dining room). Remember, we are cooking for the Supreme, and that which has been offered once should not be offered a second time. And, as good Vaisnavas, we refrain from using garlic, onion, mushroom, and from mixing salt with fresh milk (although there is no restriction with any other kind of milk culture).
Finally, and probably hardest for American cooks, don't taste the food during preparation—not even to see if it is seasoned properly. I know that it is difficult, but it is worthwhile; we are cooking for Krsna, and He must be the first to relish it.
When the food is nicely prepared, we offer it back to the Source from which everything emanates. If we remember that His "hunger" is proportional to our love, the offering is sure to be successful. Simply place love, and a generous portion of each item to be offered, on a plate or metal tray, along with a glass of fresh water, and set it before the Deity. Then prostrate yourself and pray:
O Lord, this material body is a place of ignorance, and the senses are a network of paths to death. Somehow, we have fallen into this ocean of material sense enjoyment, and of all the senses the tongue is most voracious and uncontrollable; it is very difficult to conquer the tongue in this world. But You, dear Krsna, are very kind to us, and have given us such nice prasadam, just to control the tongue. So now we take that prasadam to our full satisfaction, and glorify You, Lord—Radha and Krsna—and in love call for the help of Lord Caitanya and Nityananda.
1 cup rice
First wash rice and vegetables thoroughly. Measure water and pour into a pot. Add the rice, split peas, potatoes and cauliflower, then turmeric and salt. Boil lightly on high flame, with the pot covered. After 25 minutes, mixture should reach a thick consistency, with no water remaining in the pot.
Now in a separate pot heat ghee on very high flame. When the ghee begins to smoke, add cumin seeds and red pepper, and add mixture to kittrie. Stir in nicely. Serves four.
Cuddy (Sauce for Kittrie)
1 cup yogurt
Mix yogurt, water and chick pea flour in a pot. When mixed, heat on a medium flame. Add turmeric and salt. Stir frequently. Chaunch (spicing process):
In a separate pot, heat ghee until it smokes. Then add cumin seeds, red pepper and asafetida. Add mixture to cuddy and stir. Serves four.
2 cups whole wheat flour
Mix flour with water and knead until dough reaches a soft consistency. Make into balls about the size of golf balls, and with a rolling pin roll into a circular shape about ½ inch in diameter. Deep-fry in ghee or vegetable oil (preferably ghee) until blown up like balloons. Serves four.
1 gallon whole milk
Wash rice thoroughly and add to milk, while stirring on a medium high flame. Stir constantly, until it reaches the consistency of pudding. Then stir in sugar. Make sure that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot while cooking. Takes approximately 45 minutes. Refrigerate and serve cold. Serves four.
Cut potatoes and cauliflower into small pieces. Heat ghee in frying pan over a very high flame, until it begins to smoke. Now add cumin seeds and red pepper, and let brown. Add potato and cauliflower to ghee and sprinkle on turmeric and salt. When all is mixed, add water. Cook vegetables in covered pot until soft. Serves four.
Pera Or Laddu
1 cup chick pea flour
Melt butter on low flame. When butter is melted, add chick pea flour. When flour starts to tan (which takes about ten minutes), add powdered sugar and continue stirring until sugar has mixed in evenly with flour. Let cool, then roll into little balls. Serves four.
—Recipes contributed by Sridama das Brahmacari
—by Nayana Abhiram das Brahmacari
The Vedic literatures such as Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Brahma-samhita, Padma Purana, etc. all confirm Lord Sri Krsna as the original manifestation of Godhead. This is proclaimed in the opening verse of Srimad-Bhagavatam as follows: "Oh my Lord Sri Krsna, Son of Vasudeva, the all-pervading Personality of Godhead, I meditate upon Thee because Thou art the Absolute Truth, the Primeval Cause of all causes, and the Creator, Maintainer and Destroyer of these manifested universes. It is Thou only who imparted first the Vedic knowledge unto the heart of the original living being, Brahmaji."
Lord Brahma declares: "I worship Govinda, the Primeval Lord, the First Progenitor who is tending the cows, yielding all desire, who is surrounded by millions of purpose-trees and who is always served with great reverence and affection by hundreds of Laksmis or gopis."
According to Vaisnava teachings, there are five fundamental manifestations of God. They are the Lord, His expansion, His internal energy, His perfect devotee and His Avatara. An Avatara, by definition, is one who descends from the Spiritual Sky in order to perform a specific function which cannot be accomplished by any ordinary living being. Whenever Lord Krsna advents Himself on the earth, it is to succor the devotees and annihilate the demons. For example, at the dawn of creation, when the demons threw the Earth planet into the muddiest regions of the nether world, Krsna advented Himself as Varaha, the Boar Incarnation, defeated the demon Hiranyaksa with one slap of His hoof and scooped the earth from the mud with His tusks.
There are innumerable Avataras of Krsna. In the Caitanya-caritamrta they are classified as follows:
1. Three Purusa Avataras: Karanodakasayi Visnu, Garbhodakasayi Visnu and Ksirodakasayi Visnu. The first Purusa incarnation, Karanodakasayi Visnu or Maha-Visnu, is the expanded four-armed Form of Krsna. "Visnu" means He is all-pervading, omnipresent and omniscient, and "Purusa" means that He is the Supreme Enjoyer. The Maha-Visnu is the Lord of all material creation, the Creator of countless millions of individual souls (jivas) and the source of thousands of Avataras. Maha-Visnu reposes in the vast expanse of water known as the spiritual Causal Ocean, in which He remains in a state of divine sleep called Yoga-nidra. Maha-Visnu is so boundless that in one exhalation the pores of His skin secrete bubbles containing seeds of myriad universes. With each inhalation the universes are consumed within His Body and with each exhalation they are sent forth again.
Maha-Visnu enters into each universe as His plenary portion Garbhodakasayi Visnu. Upon entering each universe and finding it empty, Garbhodakasayi Visnu perspires and fills half of it with an ocean of sweat. The Lord then rests on Ananta, an expansion in the form of Infinite Couch bearing seven serpent heads. From the navel pit of the Garbhodakasayi Visnu springs the stem of a lotus, upon which is born four-headed Brahma, the father of all living entities, including the various demigods. Within the lotus stem are located the 14 divisions of planetary systems, with the earth planets in the middle.
Ksirodakasayi Visnu is the next further expansion of Garbhodakasayi Visnu who enters into every atom and every individual soul in each universe. In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna states that He is present in everyone's heart and from Him come memory and forgetfulness. This presence of Krsna is in the Form of the Ksirodakasayi Visnu, who is called the Paramatma or Supersoul. In the Upanisads it is described that He is the size of the thumb and is seated in the human heart. The idea of the Lord's accompanying every living entity as Supersoul is His Causeless Mercy. Everyone in the material world is understood to be here due to forgetting his superior loving relationship with the Supreme Lord. Because every living entity has a minute amount of free will, Krsna allows them to come into this material world of ignorance, for an attempt to enjoy in rebellion against the Supreme Lord. But it is His great kindness that He accompanies His parts and parcels wherever they go. The Katha Upanisad gives the example that two birds are dwelling within the tree of the body. One bird (the individual living entity) is engaged in tasting the different fruits of the tree of the body—sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet. The other bird (the Supersoul, Visnu) is witnessing, aloof, and simply waiting for the time when the other bird will turn to Him as friend. Krsna consciousness means to turn to the Supersoul or God within the heart and receive dictation from Him. This dictation from within, along with the dictation of the spiritual master from without, forms the parallel tracks for sure success in going back to the Kingdom of God. According to the authorized Yoga system as taught in Bhagavad-gita and Patanjali Yoga-sutras, the goal of Yoga practice is to see this Form of Visnu in the heart. He is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam as very beautiful, of transcendental bluish hue, four-armed, bearing conch, wheel, lotus flower and club. The yogi is advised to meditate not on some abstract target or void but—when his vision is purified—he should fix on the smiling face of Visnu. Visnu the all-powerful Lord is seen in the heart of the perfect yogi. It is described that His glance of compassion for his yogi-devotee ends all agony at being in the material world; His smile dries up the ocean of tears which is present in material life; and Lord Visnu is all-attractive just for the good of the sages, so that to see His eyebrows vanquishes the god of sex.
2. Three Guna Avataras. Visnu, Brahma and Siva, incarnations of Garbhodakasayi Visnu, preside respectively over the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance. They are also in charge of the creation, maintenance and destruction of the material universe, by the Will of Krsna. Of the three Guna Avataras, only Lord Visnu is considered the Personality of Godhead, as He contains 96 percent of the attributes of Krsna in full. Lord Siva possesses 78 percent of the divine attributes in full, and Lord Brahma, who is the most powerful of the conditioned living entities, possesses 78 percent of the godly attributes, in partial form. Lord Brahma is called "the unborn" because he is born of the navel of Garbhodakasayi Visnu without the assistance of Visnu's wife, the Goddess of Fortune, Laksmi. Brahma is the first living entity to enter the universe, and after a period of meditation, Lord Krsna instructs him through the heart how to create the various planetary systems and how to begin the business of populating the planets and working the cosmic order. Brahma is actually a post, like President, and can be filled by any qualified living entity. The pure devotees of Godhead do not, however, desire to become Brahma or to go to his planet, because despite his position of fabulous management and administrative responsibility, Brahma's loving service to the Lord is tainted by the desire to be the number one administrator of universal affairs. The pure devotee doesn't desire such opulence; he doesn't even desire liberation. The devotee is actually willing to take the most lowly birth, even as an ant, so long as he is in association with the Lord or His pure devotees who are always chanting the Holy Name, Hare Krsna. As Guna Avatara of the Lord, Lord Brahma is in charge of creation and the modes of passion; people desirous of worldly advancement can pray to him for boons and material facilities, which are ultimately granted by Lord Visnu, through Brahma.
The maintenance of the universe is continued by Lord Visnu (Ksirodakasayi) who is in control of the mode of goodness by which the living entities journey back to Godhead. Despite His all-pervading presence amidst the material world, Visnu is completely transcendental to the laws of material nature, unlike Lord Brahma and Lord Siva who partially are under the influence of material conditioning. Even the impersonalist sage Sankara admits, in his commentary to the Bhagavad-gita, that Lord Narayana or Lord Visnu is completely transcendental to the material nature. This transcendental position is a qualification of the Personality of Godhead, and no one under the jurisdiction of the stringent laws of material nature can measure or estimate the potency of Lord Visnu. Those in knowledge of the transcendental science do not accept the cheap imitators who claim to be God or who offer to transform their disciples into God for a fee. These imitators are bound up under the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance, and are being kicked by the material nature's strict laws in the form of birth, death, old age and disease—and yet they refuse to worship Visnu but try instead to usurp His position.
The unique position of Lord Siva is that he is almost the Personality of Godhead. He has the qualities of Godhead, but due to his contact with matter, as administrator of the modes of ignorance, he has become changed. The example given in the scriptures is that Lord Siva is compared to yogurt and the Personality of Godhead, Krsna, is compared to milk. When milk comes into contact with acid, it becomes yogurt. Its ingredients are still milk, but it can no longer be used as milk. Although yogurt comes from milk and is nothing but milk, it can never become milk again. Lord Siva is actually declared as the greatest Vaisnava (worshiper of Visnu) and he is therefore fully liberated, but it is just his compassion that he accepts contact with the material modes of ignorance in order to elevate the fallen souls who are suffering under the grip of ignorance. Siva's associates are among the most fallen—ghosts, drunkards and drug takers—and he mercifully uplifts them gradually to the platform of Vaisnavas.
3. Four Yuga Avataras. These are incarnations of the millenia. According to Vedic calculations, there are four ages which rotate like calendar months: Satya, Treta, Dvapara and Kali. The present Iron Age of quarrel and chaos, Kali-yuga, is only 5,000 years old and is scheduled to last another 427,000 years. Conditions in the Satya-yuga, the first age in the cycle, are such that people live a long duration of time and 100% of the population is in the mode of goodness, so that God consciousness is very prominent. This happy conditior gradually declines throughout the yugas until the end of the Kali-yuga when the population is almost entirely atheistic, demoniac and intent on wiping out the devotees of Godhead. The Avatara of the Satya-yuga is called Hayagriva, the horse incarnation. Lord Krsna Himself appears at the end of Dvapara-yuga and is described as having the hue of a fresh rain cloud and more beautiful than thousands of cupids. Strictly speaking, Krsna is not an Avatara, since He is the Original Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Srimad-Bhagavatam confirms this as follows: "All the above mentioned incarnations are either a plenary portion or a portion of the plenary portion of the Lord, but Lord Sri Krsna is the Original Personality of Godhead; and all of them advent themselves in all the planets whenever there is disturbance by the atheists; and the Lord incarnates to protect the theists."
The incarnations of each yuga are of different colors, as follows: Satya-yuga, white; Treta-yuga, red; Dvapara-yuga, black; and Kali-yuga, yellow. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu is considered the most magnanimous because he freely bestows love of Godhead. It is said that when Krsna last appeared in His Original Form on this planet, the separation of His beloved Radharani was felt so intensely that He wanted to come back as His own devotee so He could feel the ecstasy of separation. Therefore Lord Caitanya is considered as an Incarnation of Radha and Krsna.
There is a prescribed form of worship for each yuga. In the Satya-yuga the recommended process was meditation. Having peaceful atmosphere of godly civilization and hundreds of thousands of years of life duration, people could practice the meditation system with success. In this way, unbroken meditation for 10,000 years was not uncommon. In the Treta-yuga the recommended process of God realization was to offer costly sacrifices; in the Dvapara-yuga it was temple worship; and in the Kali-yuga the process recommended by the scriptures is the chanting of the Holy Names. Lord Caitanya successfully pushed this easiest, most sublime method, as is being carried on by the Hare Krsna movement of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, a spiritual master in direct disciplic succession from Lord Caitanya. Lord Krsna Himself recommends the chanting in the Bhagavad-gita: "They [the great souls] are always engaged in chanting My glories. Endeavoring with great determination, offering homage unto Me, they worship Me with devotion." (9/14) "... Of sacrifices I am the chanting of the Holy Names." (10.25) And in the Brhad-Naradiya Purana it is stated that no other means of God realization will be effective in the Age of Kali, except the chanting of the Holy Name.
4. Twenty-five Lila-Avataras. These are incarnations in which Krsna displays specific Pastimes. In His 14th incarnation, the Lord appeared in the half-lion, half-human Form, as Nrsimhadeva, in order to save the boy Prahlad Maharaj from his demoniac father, Hiranyakasipu. There is a prayer by Jayadeva Gosvami to Nrsimhadeva: "Oh my Lord, Your hands are very beautiful like the lotus flower, but with Your long nails You have ripped apart the wasp Hiranyakasipu. Unto You, Lord of the Universe, do I offer my humble obeisances." Sometimes nondevotees ask why the Lord appears in such a fierce aspect as Nrsimhadeva. For answer, the Vedanta-sutra states that the Absolute Truth is that from which everything is emanating. Therefore everything we see here in this material world has its natural original source in the Spiritual Sky, in the Supreme Person, but exists here only in the form of a perverted reflection. In the loving affairs of Radha and Krsna we see one aspect of the Absolute Truth and in Nrsimha's ferocious anger we see another aspect. The devotee Prahlad, in offering prayers to the Lord as half-lion and half-man, prayed, "I am not afraid of You, my Lord, but I am afraid of karma, I am afraid of the birth and death cycle." It is understood from the Vedic literatures that even the victim of Nrsimha's attack, the demon Hiranyakasipu, received the utmost benefit and attained eternal liberation upon his destruction in the lap of the impartial Supreme Lord. The demon Hiranyakasipu wanted to exchange with the Lord as enemy, therefore the Lord was there in His most formidable aspect to exchange and personally kill him. Those who are in favorable relationship with the Supreme find His reciprocation of boundless love and happiness. Those who want to hear nothing of God as the Controller find themselves moved further and further away from Him; and in regard to their rescue from the material nature, the Lord is silent in their case. Therefore He is impartial and yet He can favor the devotee by giving him the inner intelligence and facility to advance to the position of an associate of Krsna in the Kingdom of God.
Krsna appeared as Lord Ramacandra in the 18th lila incarnation. The mission of Lord Rama in coming to the earth was the slaying of the demon Ravana for the relief of the faithful demigods. Rama displayed Pastimes as all ideal King, and therefore, although He was the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He subordinated Himself to the moral codes and ethics of perfect human law. A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami advises that we must worship the Supreme Lord in the attitude He has taken. In order to fulfill his vow of truth and honor to his father, Lord Rama allowed Himself to be banished to the forest for fourteen years. Ramacandra's superhuman feats as warrior and His saintly life of moderation are related in the scripture Ramayana, coinpiled by Valmiki.
5. Fourteen Manvantara Avataras. From Lord Brahma, the demigods like Manu became incarnated for generating the living entities within the universe. The Manus are rulers and their loving service to the Lord is to carry out the necessary business of populating the universe.
6. Saktavesa Avataras. There are innumerable indirect empowered incarnations springing from Garbhodaka-sayi Visnu, such as the Kumaras and Narada. Narada Muni is all intimate servitor of Lord Narayana and is an incarnation of devotion; he travels, without the aid of spaceship, throughout the material universes distributing the nectarean message of Love of God, especially through the chanting of the maha-mantra. Narada is the spiritual master of Vyasadeva who compiled all the Vedic scriptures. In his previous life, Narada took birth as the son of a maidservant. His mother was at one time waiting on some traveling devotees of the Lord, and just by taking the remnants of foodstuff from the devotees' plates, the boy Narada gained self realization. He attained to His eternal spiritual body within that very lifetime and began his preaching throughout the limitless creation of his worshipable Lord. The scriptures contain numerous instances of persons, even of the lowest sinful character, who gained enlightenment just by seeing the sage Narada in his travels. Other examples of Saktavesa Avataras often include travelling mendicant spiritual masters like the six Gosvamins of Vrndavana and, in the modern age, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur and Paramhamsa Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaj, of whom His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami is the leading disciple.
Prahlad Maharaj offers a prayer to the Lord: "Oh my Lord, You manifest as many incarnations as there are species of life—namely, the aquatic, the vegetable, the reptile, the birds, beasts, men, demigods, etc.—just for the maintenance of the faithful and the annihilation of the unfaithful. You advent Yourself as such in accordance with the necessity of the different yugas. In the Kali-yuga You have incarnated Yourself garbed as a devotee [Lord Caitanya]." Information concerning the Avataras described here can be found in authoritative scriptures, and is reconfirmed by the guru of disciplic succession and the sadhu or saintly person who follows the prescriptions of this faultless literature. The devotee conversant with the transcendental science never accepts a cheap imposter as God.
The impersonalist speculator makes much repartee about how he is God or one with God. He may even admit to the various Avataras of Krsna but then say that he too is the Personality of Godhead or that we are one with Him. The learned acarya A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami does not make such mistakes in transcendental reasoning. He recently spoke clear conclusive words on this subject: "You may say we are all one. That is all right. Are you not one with President Nixon? He is American; he is a human being. In so many qualities you are one. But you cannot claim that you are President Nixon. Every living entity is Brahman, but Krsna is the Chief Brahman. Just as you are all Americans but your President is the chief American. Similarly, Krsna is the Chief Brahman. You are all Brahman, but He is the Chief Brahman. In so many respects and qualities you are one with God, but that does not mean you are God. God is one. Just as in spite of your becoming an American or a human being you do not identify yourself with President Nixon because you have full knowledge of President Nixon and yourself. And as soon as you say, "I am God," that means you have no full knowledge of God. That very assertion immediately shows that you know nothing about God. God is so great, but you are claiming that greatness. That means you do not know how great He is. A tiny factor claims that he is God without having that greatness. That means insanity, the same as if you claim that you are President Nixon. But how great God is! How much greater than President Nixon! Do you deny to become one with President Nixon and yet accept yourself to be one with God? How insane you are! One is claiming that 'I am God' and his follower accepts that he is God. This is insanity."
—by Acyutananda das Brahmacari
The archetype pattern of all universal harmony, the scheme of the universe, is the beautiful Form of Krsna within the lotus. In Brahma-samhita, one of the oldest known books, it is inscribed, "The whorl of that transcendental lotus is the realm wherein dwells Krsna. Like a diamond, the central supporting Figure of Self-luminous Krsna stands as the transcendental Source of all potencies." It is described in lucid detail: "There is a mysterious quadrangular place named Svetadvipa, surrounding the outskirts of this lotus." And further on: "Let me tell you the mystery. In Navadvipa the identical realm of Goloka Vrndavana on the bank of the Ganges, Gauracandra who is Krsna, the Entity of pure cognition, who has two hands, who is the Soul of all souls, who has the supreme great personality as the great meditative sannyasin and who is beyond the three-fold mundane attributes, makes the process of pure unalloyed devotion manifest in this mundane world. He is the sole Godhead, the Source of all forms, the supreme soul, and is Godhead manifesting Himself in yellow, red, blue and white colors. He is the direct Entity of pure cognition, full of the Spiritual Cit Potency. He is the figure of a devotee, the bestower of devotion, and cognizable by devotion alone. The self-same Lord Caitanya, Gauracandra, who is no other than Krsna Himself, in order to taste the rasa of the Pastimes of Krsna in Vrndavana, is manifest in the eternal Realm of Navadvipa identical with Vrndavana."
The Absolute Person has the power to make Himself known to the non-absolute finite beings without in any way limiting His unbounded powers and dimensions. God cannot be confined to the 3 dimensions of height, breadth and depth, which are limiting this world; but by His own inconceivable power He can come and sport with men as their equal and yet maintain His complete divinity, just as the governor can visit the prison house and speak to the prisoners without at all being obliged to obey the orders of the warden. Fools think that because the governor is in the penitentiary that he is also a prisoner, but he can exercise all of his power as a governor and still be in the prison.
Navadvipa means "Nine Islands." It is the most ideal arrangement of the Supreme Lord to create His Abode in this scheme. In the chart, the nine islands of Navadvipa, the supreme Realm, the Kingdom of God, is shown. Antardvipa (literally, the central island) within which Sri Mayapur is situated, forms the first of the Nine Islands and the starting point of the pilgrims who parade the islands each year on the day of Caitanya's divine Appearance day. Simantadvipa is the next Island that the pilgrims reach. The house of the grandfather of Caitanya is on this island. The third is Godrumadvipa. Brahma, Indra, and other demigods took the shape of hills on this island to witness the supramundane activities of Sri Caitanya. This island contains the Bhajana-kutir, the hut used for spiritual practices and austerities, and the samadhi, the temple of holy trance, of Srimad Saccidananda Bhaktivinode Thakur, one of the discoverers of the "Home of God" and a guru in the line of Caitanya's disciples. The fourth is Madhyadvipa. It contains the hills formed by the seven rsis who also have their abode in the heavens comprising the seven stars of the Big Dipper constellation. "That which is above, so is below," the Upanisads teach. Also adjoining the area is the forest of Naimisaranya, considered to be the hub of the universe. Next to Madhyadvipa is Koladvipa. Many asramas of the present protectors of Vaisnava doctrines are established here. It is said that if one performs devotional austerities here it is assured that he will reach the Ultimate Goal—Love of Godhead. This is the special significance of all the islands that the unbounded and causeless mercy is distributed freely by Caitanya, whereas Sri Krsna merely revealed the Absolute activities leaving the explanations and intrinsic meaning for the future avatara—Caitanya. The sixth island is Atudvipa which today is the site of the famous Gadadhar-Gaur temple. The seventh island is Jahnudvipa, where the learned scholar of Vedanta Vasudeva Sarvabhauma lived. Modadrumadvipa and Rudradvipa comprise the eighth and ninth islands and have special importance only to those sages who are still able to perceive the pastimes of Caitanya in their developed spiritual trance. (see map and chart)
There are many current stories of miraculous occurrences connected with the sites. But the most startling miracle of all is the fact that the persistent local tales are now found to be confirmed in their details by the topographical descriptions of the old writers. For example, we read in the Bhakti-ratnakara that the courtyard of Srivasa, where Sri Caitanya inaugurated the chanting of HARE KRSNA HARE KRSNA KRSNA KRSNA HARE HARE HARE RAMA HARE RAMA RAMA RAMA HARE HARE and where in the early days of the Movement Caitanya used to chant daily the Kirtana all through the nights in the company of His close associates, was situated one hundred dhanus (200 yards) to the north of the "House of God." According to the scripture, Caitanya-bhagavata, the Muslim governor was offended at hearing the chanting and ordered his men to break the drums and instruments of the "hindu heathens." The site is always referred to as Khol bhangar danga, the mound on which the drums were broken. (see picture, Srivas Angen) Today the house of Srivasa is a temple, established by His Divine Grace Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati, and the images of Caitanya and His associates are worshiped three times daily with prasadam and kirtan. (see photo—the great kirtan at Srivas Angen)
The actual site of the Appearance of Lord Caitanya, the Yoga-pitha, was identified by the famous saint Caitanya-dasa Babaji Maharaj, about eighty years ago. It appears that the actual site was known as such to the few Vaisnavas who cared to be informed about it and had also been visited by them for their devotional purposes. The place was noted by the inhabitants of adjoining villages for alleged peculiarities. They maintain that the place used to be always overgrown with the sacred tulasi, a plant which is a dearly beloved devotee of Krsna containing many medicinal and spiritual potencies. For this reason, people instinctively desisted from any act of defilement or occupation for the purpose or erecting a dwelling. This reverence was also observed by the local Mohammedans to give final conclusion to the prophecy that all faiths would one day recognize the Supreme Truth as Caitanya.
The Appearance of Sri Caitanya came about in the following way. In Navadvipa there dwelt a most generous and pure-hearted brahmana devoted to the zealous performance of all spiritual and enlightening duties. The name of the brahmana was Sri Jagannatha Misra. Saci-devi, his most faithful consort, was the embodiment of Devaki, the mother of the Supreme, herself. One night Jagannatha Misra awoke and triumphantly exclaimed to Saci, "I had a dream that a realm of light entered my heart and from my heart it passed into yours. I believe it is a sign that a great personage is about to be born." Other indications of some divine occurrence were to be seen. His body and the dwelling house appeared to be shining, and all people showed him honor and respect at all places. Saci-devi noticed the figures of heavenly beings in the sky who appeared to her in the attitude of prayer, and no one else could see them.
Sri Krsna Caitanya made His auspicious Appearance in this world on the 23rd day of Phalguna, corresponding to the 18th of February of 1486. He was born in the evening just with the rising of the full moon, which was then in eclipse. It is the custom of the Hindu public to bathe in the Ganges and other sacred rivers and chant the Vedic mantras for purification. Thus when Lord Caitanya was born the whole of lndia was roaring with the holy sound of the maha-mantra. Nature joined with man and the gods to pay homage to the Moon of Nadia (Caitanya). The spotted lunar disc hid its face in shame under the excuse of eclipse, on the Appearance of the "Perfect Moon", absolutely free from all spots. On that blessed moment of nativity of the exquisitely beautiful Baby, the most auspicious influences of all the favoring constellations were shed in unstunted profusion. Strange forms of celestial beings appeared to be lying prostrate on the bare earth in the act of adoration or dancing in wild ecstacy chanting Hari Bol Hari Hari Bol!
Beneath the pure fresh breeze of a Nim tree, the Supreme Lord was born. (See photo, Caitanya's Birthsite.) Today the advent grounds are kept sacred by Sri Caitanya's devotees. All may come and meditate on this Divine spot. To step under the spreading bows of the Nim tree, which still stands, is like walking into an air conditioned room. The founder, discoverer, and past spiritual master of the devotees of Caitanya predicted that some day Europeans and Americans would come by the thousands to live near the holy site of the Ultimate universal Teacher Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He stated they would dance in ecstacy side by side with the Indian devotees, and their shouts of JAI SACI-NANDANA! (Glory to the Son of Saci!) would shake the whole universe, drenching all the inhabitants with Divine Love and ecstacy unbounded. His Divine Grace Bhaktivedanta Swami, the founder of our movement in the west, has also said, "When the languages of trees and animals will be learned we will also teach them the chanting of maha-mantra." We in India should make all arrangements for the thousands of devotees who will soon be coming back to Mayapur, Navadvipa.
—by Subal das Adhikari
Maya, the illusory material nature, is duping people into accepting lust in place of love. Lust is what traps the living entities, who are spiritual by nature, in this material world. It makes us accept temporary mixed happiness in place of eternal spiritual bliss. Through the attraction of the senses for the objects of the senses we try to enjoy and find happiness where there is no happiness. Therefore, we are forced to take our births again and again.
In the Vedit literature Caitanya-caritamrta, the author, Krsna-das Kaviraj, defines lust and love as follows: "Lust means to satisfy the senses of this body, and love means to satisfy Krsna's [God's] senses." Real love is selfless and has no other object than pleasing the beloved. The thought of selfish pleasure never enters into this. All thoughts are directed towards the pleasure of the beloved. It will go on growing regardless of whether it is reciprocated or even if our beloved spurns us, or any other factors which cause the ending of love in the material world. Lord Caitanya prays to the Supreme Lord as follows: "I do not know anyone except Krsna as my Lord and He shall remain my Lord even if He handles me roughly by His embrace or makes me brokenhearted by not being present before me. He is completely free to do anything, but He is always my worshipful Lord, unconditionally."
Love exists in the spiritual world in its pure and perfect form. The Bhagavad-gita states that this world is a perverted reflection of the Spiritual World. It is natural for the living entities to love Krsna, but due to maya, the illusory energy, they are accepting something else in place of the greatest. Krsna is offering us unlimited pleasure, but in ignorance we are taking the temporary sense pleasures as the all in all.
The practice of Krsna consciousness revives the dormant love of God that is within each of us; once that love is tasted, all the illusory substitutes fall away. Love in the material world is misdirected, generally having a false idea of oneself as its object. Krsna consciousness redirects that love to Krsna, the real Beloved of everyone. As we are all eternally parts and parcels of the whole Spirit, Krsna, loving Him is our actual self-interest. When Lord Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, was Personally present and walked the earth planet 5,000 years ago, He displayed wonderful Childhood and Youthful Pastimes in Vrndavana, where He attracted all living entities to His blissful nature. The residents of the village He lived in, who saw Him daily, were madly in love with Krsna. Sukadeva Gosvami, the sage who first spoke the Srimad-Bhagavatam (narration of Krsna's Pastimes), was asked by his disciple, "Why was Krsna so dear to everyone in Vrndavana, more so than the natural sons of the mothers and fathers?" Sukadeva answered this question: "Because Krsna is the Soul of all souls." He is therefore factually the most dear, and loving Him is ultimate self-interest. Without Him, all life ceases.
Humans and the lower animals have four common activities that are necessary for maintaining the body—namely, eating, sleeping, mating and defending. But the humans have a higher intelligence and more developed consciousness than the animals. The human form of life is meant for searching out higher truths. Until a person starts asking questions—"What am I?" "What is the purpose of life?" "What is God?"—he is no better than the animals. Most people are simply engaged in satisfying the four animal propensities without any concern for spiritual development. This is a complete waste of a most valuable life.
The Vedic literature describes that there are 8,400,000 species of life, and only 400,000 species are of the human form. Before attaining this human form, we have passed through all other 8,400,000 species. This is known as transmigration of the soul. As we progress higher and higher through the various species of life beginning from the aquatics, to the plants, worms, reptiles, birds and beasts, our consciousness slowly develops just like a flower. The flower starts out as a small bud. Gradually it blossoms forth, until it is finally full-blown. The aquatics have a very limited consciousness, and this consciousness expands as we progress to higher and higher species of life. The human form is compared with the fully developed flower. Only in the human form of life can we escape from the cycle of birth and death known as samsara, and revive our loving relationship with Krsna. This is the perfection of human life—love of God. If we can attain such purified consciousness then we are fit to be transferred beyond all these material universes to enter the kingdom of God on eternal, blissful spiritual planets in the spiritual sky. Unfortunately no one today is serious about ending samsara; they do not think there is a next life or eternal planets, and so they feel they are "free" to beg, borrow or steal and there will be no reaction to sinful activities. But the fact is that by our present actions we are determining our future, next birth. As far as the lover of God or pure devotee is concerned, however, he is not even aspiring after liberation from samsara. In his unalloyed devotion, he finds the highest bliss in selfless loving service, simply carrying out Krsna's wish as expressed through the spiritual master. Again Lord Caitanya prayed: "Oh almighty Lord! I have no desire for accumulating wealth, nor have I any desire to enjoy beautiful women, nor do I want many followers. What I want only is that I may have Your causeless devotional service in my life, birth after birth."
The animals have much easier access to sense enjoyment than we do. This is because the animals are meant for unrestricted sense pleasure. We are not. We are meant for spiritual development. The dogs will have sex right out on the street in front of everyone. Is this what we want our society to develop into?
Krsna consciousness recognizes the necessity of eating, sleeping, mating and defending, but these activities should be restricted and simplified in order to leave time and energy for spiritual pursuits. This body is a vehicle for going back to Godhead, back to home. Therefore, we should treat it as such. For example, if we have an automobile, we have to keep it operating nicely so it will get us where we want to go, but we don't want to spend all our time polishing it. The vehicle is there to serve us, not for us to serve it. The Bhagavad-gita states: "He who is regulated in his habits of eating, sleeping, working and recreation can mitigate all material pains by practicing the Yoga system." (Bhagavad-gita, 6.17)
According to the varnasrama system, a man's life is divided into four parts: student, householder, retired and renounced orders of life. The student's life is the first part. It is meant for creating a spirit of detachment through knowledge, renunciation and devotion. During this period, the student remains celibate, studies under the spiritual master and serves him. For those who fail to develop sufficient detachment during tht first stage, the second stage is householder, or married life. Sex is allowed under certain restrictions, and a sense of detachment is also present. The third stage is the retired life. During this period the householder leaves home to prepare himself for complete detachment. The wife can accompany him as a voluntary servant, but there is no more sex life. The renounced order of life is the final stage. When the man becomes fully detached from sex life, he sends his wife home to be taken care of by the oldest son, and he becomes a mendicant. Also, those students who did not enter married life go directly to this stage. Of course, sex life is forbidden for the mendicant also.
We can see that sex is only allowed under certain restricted conditions. It is advised that this system be practiced by all civilized men for spiritual attainment. It is a gradual process for giving up attachment to the sense pleasures and developing attachment to Krsna.
An example is given wherein the sensualist is compared to the camel. The camel is a desert animal, and it relishes eating thorny twigs. The thorns cut the camel's tongue and there is discharge of blood. The camel thinks he is eating a very tasty twig, but actually it is the taste of his own blood that he is enjoying. We are also tasting our own blood and thinking how nice it is by indulging in sex and various other sense pleasures. This material world is actually a prison house. We should be working towards getting free and entering into the real life that waits for us outside the prison boundaries. In the spiritual world, we can enjoy this life of freedom which is sac-cid-ananda—eternal, blissful, and full of knowledge. As long as we are attached to the temporary pleasures of this world, however, we cannot enter into the spiritual world. The more we indulge in material sense pleasures the longer we prolong our term of imprisonment and deny ourselves eternal bliss.
We all want to enjoy, to be lords of the material nature, but constitutionally we are not enjoyers. We are secondary enjoyers. We enjoy by serving Krsna, the Supreme Enjoyer. Serving Krsna is like pouring water on the roots of a tree. By watering the leaves and branches of a tree, there will be no effect; but when water is given to the root, all the leaves and branches of the tree are satisfied.
Everyone is looking for some happiness, some pleasure and enjoyment. This is true even in the animal society. We all want happiness because it is our nature to be happy and joyful. We are not meant to undergo sufferings, but we are suffering because we are trapped in the material world and identifying with these material bodies. There is real happiness to be found. We simply do not know where to find it. Therefore, we are accepting so many substitutes. Real happiness waits for us in the spiritual world. It is pure unalloyed bliss with no trace of suffering. By accepting the authority of Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, as handed down in disciplic succession by Sri Krsna, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Rupa Gosvami, Bhakti Siddhanta Sarasvati, and A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, one can easily become a liberated person and attain spiritual bliss.
Such a liberated person is not attracted to material sense pleasure, but is always in trance, enjoying the pleasure within. In this way, the self-realized person enjoys unlimited happiness, for he concentrates on the Supreme. An intelligent person does not take part in the sources of misery which are due to contact with the material senses, O son of Kunti, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, and so the wise man does not delight in them. (Bhagavad-gita, 5.21-22)
The Gita describes the goal:
Before giving up the present body, if one is able to tolerate the urges of the material senses and check the force of desire and anger, he is a yogi and is happy in this world. One whose happiness is within, who is active within, is actually the perfect mystic. He is liberated in the Supreme, and ultimately he attains the Supreme. (Bhagavad-gita, 5.23-24)
Transcendentalists who have had a taste of spiritual bliss cast aside the temporary, mixed pleasures of this world. They are no longer attracted by them because they have found the real, superior quality pleasure. Indulging in sex life is like chewing the chewed. The example is given that, in India, the people eat sugar cane. They chew on it and suck out the sweet juice. Then the chewed cane is thrown in the street. Nobody wants it anymore. Similarly, we've been chewing on the material pleasures for millions of lifetimes. But there is really no juice there, just the same thing, over and over again. The intelligent man will see that they are tasteless and cast these "pleasures" aside. Why go on chewing the chewed? Unlimited happiness awaits us in loving service unto the Transcendental Absolute, Sri Krsna.
Within the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, the Los Angeles center is known as the best sankirtana center. That is because the Los Angeles devotees have taken with the utmost seriousness the spiritual master's order: the chanting of Hare Krsna in the parks and streets is to be taken as the life and soul of Krsna consciousness. As a result the devotees are always feeling transcendental bliss from the reservoir of pleasure, Sri Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the morning the L.A. sankirtana party chants and dances on the streets of downtown Los Angeles, and in the evening they go to the area of Hollywood Boulevard. On special occasions and nice sunny days, they are found to be gathered at Griffith Park in the city. All are invited to visit the Los Angeles center and experience spiritual ecstasy.
"Any child who is given an impression of the Lord from his very childhood can certainly become a great devotee of the Lord."—Srila Jiva Gosvami. The fortunate children born of Krsna conscious parents or those children fortunate enough to once see Prabhupada or to pass the fire offering during kirtana or to attend a prasadam feast or enjoy with the devotees on sankirtana in the streets can at once become attracted to transcendental loving service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Children are known to sense the real, genuine impression of a way of life, and so they may, when guided by their parents towards association with devotees, immediately learn the art of spontaneous love of God and thus end the suffering of thousands of births and deaths in the material world.
—by Satsvarupa das Adhikari
Recently I spoke to an acquaintance who is practicing "meditation" and I asked him the goal of his practice. The answer was, "Liberation. To merge with the one." Expressions such as "annihilation of the ego" and "merging with the Supreme" are commonly passed back and forth in this age of the widely attended Yoga and meditation class. Regarding liberation, one significant question is—what is liberation? And also, we want to know—what are the chances of a person actually gaining liberation? For answers, we best go to the source of the very concept of liberation and the place where all its techniques are elaborately and carefully taught; that is, the scriptural literature of India, called the Vedas. Yoga technique and meditation are given in gist in the Bhagavad-gita, spoken by Lord Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, and expounded further in the Srimad-Bhagavatam which is considered the postgraduate study of the Bhagavad-gita.
Liberation generally refers to freedom from the bodily concept of life. But unless there is positive, non-bodily activity or spiritual activity, then liberation is a merely theoretical, lip-service liberation. To sit in a posture of meditation and think, "I am moving the moon, I am moving the sun, I am moving the stars," and then 10 minutes later to be dictated to by the tongue—"I must have a cigarette"—is not liberation; nor at the time of death can such a "yogi" be expected to be liberated to the spiritual sky. Without practical devotional service to Sri Krsna, Giver of Liberation, the idea of liberation is just a negative concept of material life. The Vedic literature describes four material categories of civilized life, and liberation is among them. The first is religiousness. This means to perform sacrifice, churchgoing or pious acts with the aim of being rewarded by promotion to a heavenly material planet. The aim behind such acts is personal gratification; by being religious I will be rewarded. It is noted by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami in the Srimad-Bhagavatam that nowadays the church, mosque or temple is an empty place because the people believe that they can get their desired economic ends without making prayers to God. Therefore, the second material activity of civilized persons is economic development—building, making money, doing business. The third activity is sense gratification culminating in sex life. In fact, sex life is the essential background for the first two material activities. The fourth, mukti or liberation, is a little different, although it is a material activity. After being frustrated by all the material activities and seeing that either failure or success are really failure due to the disadvantages of birth, death, disease and old age, a person desires liberation. He desires to become One with the Supreme. He is too bitter with all his experiences to be happy in material life. But in itself this is only a negative concept. By such liberation he thinks he wants to lose the individuality which has caused him so much pain, and instead, to merge with the Oneness of spiritual existence.
The background for understanding liberation starts with gaining true identity of the self. In the beginning stages it expresses itself in the desire to be One with the Spirit. This is called Brahman realization. If someone is actually realized in Brahman that is a great thing. It is called Brahma-bhuta stage, and it is characterized by joyfulness. The joyfulness is due to understanding that, "I am not this body." This is carefully described by Lord Krsna in the Second Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita. The living entity is there declared to be spirit-soul, or Brahman. In the Third Chapter Lord Krsna reveals that for full realization of Brahman, you have to work in Brahman. Bhagavad-gita (3.5) says, "Nobody can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment." And in his Purport to that verse, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami writes, "This is not a question of embodied life; it is the nature of the soul to be always active. The proof is that without the presence of the spiritual soul there is no movement of the material body. The body is only a dead vehicle to be worked by the spirit soul and therefore it is the nature of the soul itself to be always active, and cannot stop even for a moment. The spirit soul has to be engaged in the good work of Krsna consciousness, otherwise it will be engaged in occupations dictated by the illusory energy." When one realizes "I am Brahman," that means he has no death, just like Krsna, the Supreme Brahman. This is a joyful position, "I am not this perishable body, that is not my self, I am spirit soul." That is all well and good, but then, what do I do? It is not that the liberated state is without activities. This question was asked by Sanatana Gosvami, the learned disciple of Lord Caitanya: "You have said that I am already liberated, now what are my duties in the liberated state?" The impersonalists, however, do not like to take up the devotional service path; they are simply desirous of merging into the One, described as the Brahma-jyoti effulgence. That destination is explained in the Gita. Brahma-jyoti is not material, it is the spiritual effulgence coming from the Body of Sri Krsna; it is eternal spiritual light. This light illumines the spiritual world and the naturally dark material world is lit by its reflection. And to merge in this light is the goal of the impersonal liberation. A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, who is a fully realized devotee of the Personality of Godhead, states the disadvantages of aiming at the Brahma-jyoti as the topmost goal: "In the Brahma-jyoti the spirit souls on account of their impersonal views are devoid of a body, exactly as here in maya there are ghosts who are devoid of any gross bodies. The ghost, being devoid of a body, suffers terribly because he is unable to satisfy his senses. The spirit souls in the Brahma-jyoti, although they have no desire for sense gratification, feel inconvenience like the ghost; and they fall down again in maya's atmosphere and develop a material body. In the Bhagavatam therefore it is said that that intelligence of persons who are impersonalists and do not develop the dormant devotional attitude is not pure; because for want of a spiritual body, they come down again to the material world. In the Bhagavad-gita it is clearly said by the Lord that the only way of not coming back to the material world is to be promoted to the spiritual planets. For the impersonalists there is no such assurance of not falling down in the whole Vedic literature. The conclusion is that without developing the spiritual body and without being situated on one of the spiritual planets, the so-called liberation is also illusion, or it is not complete. A spirit-soul who falls down from the Brahma-jyoti to the Kingdom of maya may have a chance of associating with a pure devotee, and then he may be elevated to the spiritual planets of Vaikuntha or to the Goloka Vrndavana. From the Brahma-jyoti there is no direct promotion to the spiritual planets."
In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, many questions regarding liberation are asked by Devahuti the mother of the incarnation of Godhead Kapiladeva. Lord Kapila spoke the Sankhya philosophy whereby the material entanglement is analyzed and found to be not the true identify of the spirit soul. Lord Kapila describes to His mother that liberation from material entanglement can be considered in three different ways. As expounded by philosophers like Lord Buddha it is annihilation or cessation of material existence altogether; and after the cessation of material existence there is void. Then another concept, according to the Sankarite school, is that the material existence is false, and therefore one has to transfer oneself into the spiritual existence and that is not void but spiritual existence without variegatedness. This is the Brahma-jyoti. Devahuti, however, asks not only for freedom from matter, not only to be situated in the spiritual existence without variegatedness, but to be always associated with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As expounded by Kapiladeva this is actually the goal of the Yoga system. Some target at impersonal Brahman, some aim at the Paramatma realization and some aim directly at the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead, all other features including His different energies and manifestations become understood. As A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami once said, "When you get to the top, everything is included. This Bhakti-Yoga is explained in Bhagavad-gita where it is said that after many, many births of understanding. when one comes to understand that Vasudeva the Supreme Personality of Godhead is everything, he is a Mahatma, a great soul—and that is very rare. It is further explained in Bhagavatam that the Lord is called Hrsikesa, the Master of the senses. The senses and mind are naturally inclined to work, but when they are materially contaminated they work for some material benefit or for the service of the demigods, but actually they are meant for serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead. A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami writes to this point in Bhagavatam: "When the senses, without any reason, without any material profit and without any selfish motive, are engaged in the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, that is devotional service and that service spirit is far, far better than salvation (mukti). Bhakti, then, begins after liberation. Without being liberated nobody can engage the senses in the service of the Lord. When the senses are engaged either in material activities or by Vedic injunction, it is for a motive of personal gratification, but when the same senses are engaged in the service of the Lord, there is no motive, and that is the natural, original inclination of the mind. When the mind is not deviated but fully engaged in Krsna consciousness for devotional service of the Supreme Person, that is beyond the most aspired after liberation from material encagement."
There is a nice example regarding liberation in the case of a man who is confined to bed with a fever. His fever is compared to material activities. To bring down the high temperature of the fever can be accomplished by Brahman realization. Having brought the fever down, the man may be still lying in bed, in convalescence. Of course, full health is not enjoyed until he can get up from the bed and resume his normal activities. Those who are impersonalists or mayavadis, however, do not desire to get up from the bed of convalescence, but are content simply that their fever has gone down. They are described as afraid that because activities in the feverish state were so bitter, painful, if they take up activities again, it will be painful again. In this way the impersonalists fail to take up transcendental loving service of the Personality of Godhead in individual spiritual form. Refusing to take up full healthy activities, one puts himself in the dangerous position of facing a relapse in health: the patient who doesn't resume his normal activities cannot expect to stay fixed in inactive convalescence, rather he will fall ill again. It is commonly experienced that those sannyasis or svamis of the impersonalist path, after declaring "all is false" but failing to take on the activities of real liberation, fall down to the material platform and become engaged sometimes in humanitarianism and material welfare work, opening hospitals, etc. For failing to take on the greatest service, preaching Krsna consciousness to those in the clutclies of illusory matter, the impersonalist svami falls back into feverish material activities. The failure is his neglect of the Lotus Feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, called Mukunda, the Giver of Liberation.
The endeavor to get liberation from the material encagernent is automatically served in devotional service. A devotee doesn't have to try separately for liberation. Sri Bilvamangala explains, "If I have unflinching devotion unto the Lotus Feet of the Supreme Lord, then mukti or liberation serves me as my maid servant." Liberation is no problem at all. The impersonalists are after mukti and they undergo severe penances and austerities to attain it, but the bhakta passes liberation by engaging his senses and especially chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare and accepting the remnants of foodstuff offered to the Personality of Godhead. As soon as the senses are controlled in the tongue, the other senses follow automatically and the perfection of the Yoga principle is there. The devotee Prabhananda says that for a devotee sense control is as easy as anything, the pleasures of gorgeous life and fabulous duration of the upper planets is just phantasmagoria, and the pleasure of merging into the Supreme is seen as hellish. Lord Kapila states before His mother: "A pure devotee who is attached in the activities of devotional service and always engaged in the service of the Lotus Feet of the Lord does not ever desire to become One with Him. Such devotees are unflinchingly engaged and always glorify the Pastimes of the Lord." Liberation becomes of no consequence and is realized as a material desire tainted with selfishness.
There are five kinds of liberation stated in the Vedic scriptures. One is to become otic with the Supreme Personality of Godhead or to forsake one's individuality and to merge into the supreme spirit. A devotee never accepts such kind of liberation. The other four kinds of liberation are: to be promoted into the same planet as the Supreme Lord, to achieve the same opufence as the Lord, to associate personally with the Supreme Lord, and to attain the same bodily feature as the Supreme Lord. The pure devotee does not aspire to any of the five kinds of liberation, and especially he rejects the prospect of merging with the impersonal effulgence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead as being hellish. A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada writes in the Bhagavatam: "Many so-called devotees say that we may worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead in the conditioned state but ultimately there is no personality, the Absolute Truth is impersonal. One can imagine a personal form of the impersonal for the time being and as soon as one becomes liberated, the worship is stopped—that is the theory. Actually, if the impersonalists merge into the Personal luster of the Supreme Person that is no different from His Personal Body, but that sort of oneness is not accepted by a devotee. The devotees are simply wanting to be fully engaged in reciprocatory loving devotional service."
Aside from its desirability, what are the chances of the meditators really attaining liberation? The answer is stated in the Twelfth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita:
He whose mind is fixed on My Personal Form, always engaged in worshiping Me with great and transcendental faith, is considered by Me to be most perfect. But those who fully worship the unmanifested, that which is beyond the perception of the senses, the all-pervading, inconceivable, fixed and immovable—the impersonal conception of the truth ... at last achieve Me. For those whose minds are attached to the nonmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme Lord, advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that unmanifested discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied. (Gita, 12.1-2)
Speaking as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Kapila, the incarnation of Lord Krsna, makes clear that there is no salvation outside of direct reference to Lord Visnu (Krsna): "The terrible fear of death and birth can never be forsaken by anyone or by resorting to any other shelter than Myself, because I am the almighty Lord the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the original Source of all creation, and also the Supreme Soul of all souls."
One may try to understand the Absolute Truth by mental speculation or through the mystic Yoga process, but unless he comes to surrender his attempts cannot give him liberation. That is the conclusion of Bhagavatam. Lord Brahma prayed to the Lord: "They think they are liberated or one with God, but in spite of thinking in such a puffed-up way, their intelligence is not laudable." In spite of austerities, then, if there is no surrender unto the Personality of Godhead, the intelligence is understood to be not clear. The nondevotee transcendentalists can go to the brink of spiritual realization in Brahman realization, and they are suspended in the effulgence; but because they have no transcendental activities they fall down.
As for devotional activities, Lord Caitanya prescribed five items as the sum and substance of performing devotional service. These are: 1. to associate with devotees; 2. to read Srimad-Bhagavatam; 3. to worship the Deities; 4. to chant the Holy Name; 5. to live in a holy place. As the perfect devotee, Lord Caitanya described His own desires, transcendental to the desire for liberation from the chain of birth and death: "O Almighty Lord, I have no desire for accumulating wealth nor have I any desire to enjoy beautiful women; neither do I want numbers of followers. What I want only is that I may have Your causeless devotional service in my life birth after birth."
Liberation does not mean to grow four heads and four arms, but to change the consciousness, to live in understanding. The bodily encagement means sense gratification, and when that is dissipated in favor of pleasing the transcendental senses of Krsna, then liberation is there. Finally, the pure devotee never thinks that he is fit for liberation. He prays, "My dear Lord, I may be born anywhere, that does not matter; but let me be born as an ant in the house of a devotee." A pure devotee does not pray to the Lord for liberation from this material bondage. A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami describes the mind of the devotee: "He thinks he is fit for being sent into the lowest region of all considering his past life, his mischievous and miscreant activities. Anyone in this material world must have committed so many misdeeds. If I am trying to become a devotee it does not mean I was 100% pious in my past life." Therefore the devotee is always conscious of his real position. He knows that only for the purpose of attaining his full surrender unto Krsna, the Lord makes the suffering of the devotee shorter. Ultimately, even his attainment of the topmost spiritual planet, Krsna-loka, is not desired by the devotee; he goes there but he does not desire it. His desire is simply to work in service mood for Krsna and Krsna's devotees. Liberation then is not the goal of spiritual life, but it is an automatic by-product of devotional service. With that understanding we can achieve success.
—by Hayagriva das Adhikari
Lord Krsna's pastimes, His appearance and disappearance, are continuous and eternal throughout the universe. As far as these pastimes are concerned, there is no stoppage. It is hard for the common man to understand how Krsna's lilas (pastimes) can be eternal. To our conception He was present on earth 5,000 years ago, and now He is gone. We compare Him to ourselves. We remain on this planet for 100 years at the most and then, like a bubble, we pop and disappear. Although this is true for ourselves, we should not compare our condition to that of the Absolute Godhead. His Body is eternal, blissful and full of knowledge, whereas ours is mortal and full of misery and ignorance. Consequently we cannot understand how Krsna's lilas are eternal.
When Krsna intends to reveal Himself on the earth or any other material planet, He first sends His parents and devotees. Then He manifests Himself in His different ages: as an infant, a young boy, and a youth. He is never old or middle-aged. Because His Body is acyuta, changeless, He looked like a young boy on the battlefield of Kuruksetra, although He was a grandfather.
The pastimes of Krsna are revealed beginning with the killing of Putana and extending through to His disappearance. There are innumerable universes, and in all of them these lilas are revealed. Lord Caitanya compares the progression of the lila with the progression of the sun across the sky. Just as the sun in 24 hours passes over all the continents of the earth, so Krsna's lilas in the 14 manvantaras pass over the various universes. When the sun passes over a continent, it appears that this great orb has a rising and a setting. It comes and it goes. But in actuality the sun is constantly shining and is fixed. It is only from the perspective of the earth that it appears to rise and set. Similarly, to the human perspective the lilas of Krsna appear to come and go, but in actuality they are always being enacted. The lilas are always taking place somewhere in the universe, just as somewhere on earth the sun is always shining, although it is not always seen in any one place. So the orbit of Krsna's lilas passes through various spheres and is manifest on the earth after certain millions of years.
Although Krsna sports in infinite lilas throughout the universe, He still sports eternally in Goloka Vrndavana in the spiritual sky. Goloka and Gokula are expansive, like the Body of the Lord, and through His will these regions are revealed all over the universe. Goloka is revealed in the eternal abode of His lila. Lord Caitanya says that just as a drama has three stages, the high, the middle, and the low, so Lord Krsna is revealed in three stages. This revelation is full in Dvaraka, fuller in Mathura, and fullest in Vrndavana. When He first descends, He is seen in Vrndavana, and the pastimes there, being the original, are the most important and sacred.
There are fourteen Manus in one day of Brahma, and as the orbit of Krsna's lilas circulates, He is seen on the earth once during a day of Brahma. There are seventy one yugas or ages, and in the twenty-eighth kalpa, in the Dvapara yuga, Krsna appears. Thus He appeared on this earth 5,000 years ago. While He was here He remained 125 years, and while He was on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra He was 100 years old, yet His eternal Body appeared as that of a fresh youth's. During every second of these 125 years, this sequence of pastimes was appearing in all other parts of the infinite universes. Although these lilas are always occuring with clock-like precision, Lord Krsna is always aloof from them. One would stand a better chance counting the dewdrops on the grass or the rays of the moon and stars than counting the virtues, powers and energies of Krsna's lilas as they are revealed throughout the creation. Neither Lord Brahma with all his heads nor Lord Ananta with his thousand mouths can describe them. Lord Caitanya hints that perhaps even Lord Krsna cannot know them all, and therefore He is thirsty to taste them. Infinite orbs whirl incessantly in His bosom like so many particles of dust, all moved by time. And the holy scriptures only cry out, "Not here. Oh, He is not here." And no one sees the end. Srimad-Bhagavatam testifies: "We do not know how the Lord celebrates, nor if we could travel throughout the whole creation could we know this, for He is celebrating as He pleases. His jubilations extend through infinite forms of energy." (Bhagavatam, 10.14.2).
Lord Krsna creates worlds both visible and invisible to the mundane senses. In the spiritual sky, which is invisible to us, there are infinite worlds with Deities, expansions of Krsna, presiding over each. This is doubtlessly very wonderful, but His pastimes in Vrndavana with the cowherd boys and girls are no less wonderful because in Lord Krsna's supreme Abode, Krsna-loka, He similarly sports with an infinite number of gopas and gopis. In that Abode each cowherd boy has millions of cows, each of which yields limitless milk. In the same way Lord Krsna presides over millions and millions of Brahmas, who create under His Divine order infinite worlds.
In one instant Lord Krsna created both the visible and invisible worlds and created lords to preside over each of them. These lords preside over various planets as the cowherd boys preside over cows. All these creations proceed from Lord Krsna, and all of them find their being in Him. When Brahma once witnessed the breadth of the material creation, he was in awe and prayed, "Whoever says he knows the glory of Krsna let him talk; I know nothing of it. Wonderful is the work of Lord Krsna, but of His glory I know nothing. And whoever says he knows all about it actually knows nothing. Oh Lord, I know nothing of Your infinite glory."
Although the ethereal forms of the three Purusas (the Karanodaka-sayi Visnu, the Garbhodaka-sayi Visnu and the Ksirodaka-sayi Visnu) are wonderful, the two-armed form of Krsna that dwells in Vrndavana is the purest and most sublime. In this form He reveals the sublime sweetness of His own Self, and it is in this form that He celebrates Himself in the great Rasa-lila, the dance with the exquisitely beautiful gopis. Below the Ultimate Planet of Vrndavana, floating in the rays emanating from His Body, are infinite spiritual planets where Lord Krsna dwells in four-armed forms known as Narayana. In these planets the six opulences of knowledge, wealth, fame, power, beauty, and renunciation are present. This is the middle holy presence of the Lord, and is comparable to Mathura. Below these heavenly Vaikuntha planets a river called Viraja flows which is a Divine river flowing from the sacred Goddess of the Vedas. This eternal river is full of glories and nectar. On its upper bank extend the Vaikuntha planets and on its lower bank lies the outer palace of the Lord, a region known as the Devi-dhama. Many created beings dwell here. The goddess Laksmi protects this region, and the goddess of illusion serves the Lord here as a maid. This region is visible to the material eye, whereas the region of the Vaikuntha planets, Paravyoman, and the region of Goloka are invisible. Being regions of cit energy, they are far above physical creations.
Although the pastimes of Lord Krsna in these spheres are infinite, the highest pastimes are those in which He jubilates in human form. There are pastimes in which He plays as a lion, a fish, a boar, a horse, a bird, and so on, but the human form is His very Self, and in this form He appears as a youthful cowherd boy, eternally in His kaisora age, an age corresponding to the adolescent age of sixteen. He carries a flute, which He plays from time to time, and dances masterfully. It is the mercy of the Lord that He reveals this form on earth, for this is the very same sublime Self which dwells eternally in Goloka. The Lord's beauty is so overwhelming that He wonders at it Himself and desires to taste it. This beauty is so sublime that it glories in itself, for it contains all the components that we call beauty. Each of His Limbs has a halo of its own. He often stands with one leg bent before the other, and this makes His Body curve gracefully in three bends. His eyes send forth knowing, playful glances that pierce the soul like arrows. The Lord not only completely overpowers the minds of the gopas and gopis with His sacred beauty, but He charms even Cupid, the god of love himself. His love is transcendental and is far superior to all the powers of sexual desire. He jubilates in this transcendental love and so supersedes all mundane cupids.
It is with this very transcendental Self that He plays in the holy Vrndavana with His friends who are cowherd boys like Himself and who also have bodies full of eternality, bliss and knowledge. When describing the beauty of Krsna in these pastimes, Lord Caitanya in ecstasy sang the following verse: "On the ocean of My Lord's eternal youth, the waves of beauty are forever rolling. As the mighty ocean contains whirlpools, so the ocean of Lord Krsna's eternal youth contain whirlpools expressing deep and sudden emotions. There are also sweet whirlwinds on the ocean, and these are the sweet tunes flowing from the flute of the Lord. As the whirlwinds of nature sweep away autumnal leaves, so the whirlwinds of sweetness from the ocean of the Lord's eternal youth sweep away the souls of the gopis of Vrndavana and draw them towards the Lord."
It is said in the Srimad-Bhagavatam that the gopis chastise their creator Lord Brahma for giving them only two eyes, for two cannot satisfy them when the Lord Krsna is before them. They need more in order to better perceive His multiglorious Form. And it is written in the Srimad-Bhagavatam: "The two ears of the Lord are adorned with earrings made in the shape of crocodiles, the two cheeks of the Lord are bright and beautiful, the smile of the Lord is charming, and His dance is wonderfully attractive. Indeed, He is so charming that both men and women desire to gaze on His Form forever. Their eyes are never satisfied, and so they criticize their creator for giving them only two eyes, and they become angry at him for this defect." (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 9/24/15) Similarly, the gopis said, "O, Lord, in the daytime You go away to feed the cows in the holy Vrndavana, and we do not see You then. How can we bear this separation? A moment of this time seems to us to endure for centuries, and when You return in the evening we look at You with wistful eyes and see Your face so bright and beautiful and Your hair so gorgeously adorned. It is painful for us to blink our eyes, and we regret that we have only two eyes. At that time we speak ill of the creator for not giving us more eyes. Indeed, we feel that his power is extremely limited." (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 10.31.15)
The beauty of Lord Krsna in Goloka Vrndavana is ethereal and can only be compared to the most lustrous cosmic phenomena. In Caitanya-caritamrta Lord Caitanya sings of His beauty in this way: "O, the face of Lord Krsna is like the brightest full moon and like a king sitting in glory on his throne. And this throne is the body of Lord Krsna Himself. His face sits like a king of moons among so many moons. All His beautiful limbs are like moons, and the moon of His face seems to coutrol them all. His two cheeks are pretty, brighter than the brightest of jewels. And They also look like two moons. Another moon is the half moon on the forehead of the Lord with a point at its center. This point is so bright that it appears like yet another moon shining among the others. And the white nails of His hands are also like so many moons, and when the Lord blows His flute these little moons dance upon its holes, and it appears that the tune proceeds not from the flute but from these beautiful nails of the Lord. And the nails of His Feet are also like moons which seem to dance as the Lord walks, and the tinkling sounds proceeding from His ankle bracelets seem like so many songs sung by these moonlike nails. The ears of the Lord are adorned with two earrings resembling crocodiles. His two eyes are like two lotuses, and it seems that His regal moonlike face makes His ears and eyes dance in their places. The eyebrows of the Lord are like bows, His nose is like an arrow, and His ears are like the strings of the bow. With these weapons, His face, which is like the moon, pierces the hearts of the beautiful maidens of Vrndavana. Thus the King of Vrndavana jubilates, a King of moons, distributing rays and light from His face. And to some this moon gives sweet, soft smiles. And to others He gives nectar from his lips."
As mentioned before, when Lord Krsna comes to earth, He does not leave this eternal Abode which is Vrndavana. When His lila was enacted on this earth 5,000 years ago, He brought Vrndavana with Him, and today Vrndavana is still present in India and is visited by pilgrims as a holy town. The Lord is not so limited that Vrndavana exists only in a certain part of the spiritual sky and no place else. No, Vrndavana is in the heart of the devotees and is manifested wherever Krsna and His devotees sport. Krsna's fullest manifestation is Vrndavana, and when He is there He is at full freedom. Therefore there is no question of Vrndavana being bound by concepts of time or space. Lord Caitanya's disciples often told Him, "Wherever You are, O Lord, there is Vrndavana." Nor can material scientists understand the nature of such a place. They cannot even understand the material sky nor reach its limits. How then is it possible for them to pierce the outer universal covering and ascend into Para-vyoman, the self-effulgent sky? If they were to enter the Para-vyoman they would be amazed to see countless millions of expansions of Krsna there. Lord Krsna is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead, and as such He is like the original candle which lights so many millions of other candles which are His countless expansions. The candles all have the same quality, yet one candle is the original one. There is no question of void, the question of nothingness, for there are billions of great spiritual planets which are trillions of miles in area, and over each planet preside entities which are sac-cid-ananda in their essence. Everything there is Absolute and spiritual. There spiritual planets float in the effulgence emanating from Krsna's Body which sports in the supreme planet of Vrndavana.
Thus the pastimes of Krsna in Vrndavana are the most sublime. It is from Vrndavana that the songs of His flute issue and spread like lightening in all directions. This song is heard in all the planets of the Vaikunthas where it reacts with a terrific super-atomic force and penetrates into the ears of all inhabitants to enchant them.
The boys who are playing with Krsna and herding cows in Vrndavana are not ordinary living entities. They are highly developed sages who have acquired perfection by the accumulation of pious activities in past lives. For those who are under the spell of materialism, Krsna is an ordinary boy, but these cowherd boys in Vrndavana accept Him as their Master, and their Supreme Lovable Object. It is stated in Brahma-samhita that Krsna is very fond of playing with these boy friends who are unlimited in number. Each of these boys carries a cane for herding cows, some fruit and lotus flowers, and they are beautifully dressed. In Goloka Vrndavana everyone is just like Krsna, just as in the Vaikuntha planets everyone resembles the four-armed Narayana expansion. In these worlds of the Absolute, everyone is the same. Consequently, all the individual boys and girls who sport in Goloka Vrndavana enjoy Krsna's spiritual bliss. Similarly, the gopis are not ordinary cowherd girls, but are great sages who transform themselves in order to enjoy conjugal love with Krsna. Lord Caitanya spoke of them in this way: "Oh what penances did the gopis perform to eternally enjoy the beauty of the Lord Krsna? They drink His beauty with their eyes and they fill their eyes, their limbs and their hearts with celestial visions of His beauty. O, blessed are they, for they enjoy that sublime beauty which is the sweetest in the creation and which has no equal. Even the Lord Narayana, Ruler of the heavenly planets of Para-vyoman, does not possess such beauty. The goddess of glory known as Sri Laksmi illustrates the truth of this, for she is dear to Lord Narayana and is the very flower among women created by the Lord, yet even she hankers after Sri Krsna's beauty. All attributes and all species of sweetness are but shadows of His inner sweetness and inner attributes. The pure love of the gopis is like a glass that reflects this sweetness and these attributes. As the Lord sees these reflections, His sweetness increases and so does the love of the gopis. And both His sweetness and their love grow and grow as though competing with one another. And though both attain new brilliances, neither admits defeat in this wonderful competition."
Lord Caitanya instructs that Lord Krsna primarily exists in three forms known as svayam-rupa, tadekatma-rupa, and avesa-rupa. In the svayam-rupa form, Lord Krsna appears as a cowherd boy in Vrndavana. There are two manifestations of this form: (1) prabhava and (2) vaibhava. The prabhava-prakasa is exhibited when, as in the Rasa-lila dance, He manifests 108 bodies, and when, as at the marriage ceremony at Dvaraka, He manifests Himself in 16,108 identical forms. Sri Sukadeva Gosvami said, "O King, it is a great wonder that Lord Krsna manifested Himself simultaneously in so many identical forms and married 16,108 queens at Dvaraka." The vaibhava-prakasa refers to Lord Krsna's assuming different roles, sentiments and shapes according to situation. Although these manifestations are identical in form, they have different names according to their shape, colors and weapons. For instance Sri Balarama is the vaibhava-prakasa of Sri Krsna manifested as His elder brother. Sri Balarama and Sri Krsna are identical in all respects except complexion. And sometimes Krsna exhibits Himself with two arms and sometimes with four arms (vrabhayavilasa) as the Son of Devaki; and in one form He assumes the sentiment of a cowherd boy and in another, as Vasudeva, He appears as a ksatriya (warrior). However, the greatest ecstasy is experienced in His original Form as a cowherd boy in the forest of Vrndavana. Rasa-lila there is greatest in respect to loveliness, sweetness, and power. And for this reason, Vasudeva hankers after the loveliness of Govinda, the cowherd boy. This original manifestation very much enchanted Vasudeva who expressed His desire to taste it while witnessing the Gandharva dance at Mathura. "Oh Uddhava, this dancer, by dancing in honor of the lovely forms of Gopala at Vrndavana, has so charmed Me that I am eager now to assume the sentiment of one of the gopis to taste the sweetness of My beauty." (Lalita-madhava, 4/10)
These forms of Krsna are manifested in different shapes, sentiments, dresses and abodes. There are two types: (1) vilasa and (2) svamsa. Vilasa can be divided into two forms: (1) prabhava and (2) vaibhava. The chief manifestations of prabhava-vilasa are Sri Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha. Sri Balarama assumes the sentiment of a cowherd boy and that of a ksatriya at Mathura and Dvaraka. This is called vilasa in respect to differences in complexion and dress. Lord Caitanya explains that Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha form the primary quartet of Krsna's expansions. They are four-armed expansions. None are equal to them, and they are the source from which innumerable quartets are manifested. These four dwell eternally at Mathura and Dvaraka and form what is known as the prabhava-vilasa of Lord Krsna. From them 24 other forms have been manifested in the spiritual planets and are called the vaibhava-vilasa. They have different names according to the various weapons they hold. In the second quartet Lord Krsna dwells as Narayana in Para-vyoman. Other quartets are manifested from this one, and they rule their own planets in the vast spiritual sky. These quartets include forms of Vasudeva (Kesava, Narayana, and Madhava), the forms of Sankarsana (Govinda, Visnu, and Sri Madhusudana), the forms of Pradyumna (Trivikrama, Vamana, and Sridhara), and the forms of Aniruddha (Hrsikesa, Padmanabha and Damodara). Each of these twelve manifestations is assigned a month of the year, and each is recited by the devotee while adorning twelve parts of his body with the tilaka marks.
The principle quartet also has eight vilasa forms, the vilasa of Vasudeva (Adhoksaja and Purusottama), of Sankarsana (Upendra and Acyuta), of Pradyumna (Nrsimha and Janardana) and of Aniruddha (Hari and Krsna).
The above 24 forms (the principle quartet, their twelve corresponding forms and eight vilasa forms) are the chief forms of the prabhava-vilasa. They have different names according to the weapons they hold.
Vaibhava-vilasa refers to the different forms and dresses of these 24. All of these 24 dwell in Para-vyoman, the spiritual sky, and live in three forms in separate Vaikuntha planets in eight directions of the Para-vyoman. Although they dwell eternally in the spiritual sky, some of them have their abodes in this universe. Above the Vaikuntha planets of the Para-vyoman is the glory of Krsna Loka.
In this way these four-armed expansions manifest in the spiritual universe. In order to protect religion and grant bliss to the devotees by destroying all impieties, they also manifest in the material universe. Some of them are regarded as incarnations, namely Visnu, Trivikrama, Nrsimha and Vamana.
As for the svamsa shapes, there are those in the Sankarsana category and incarnations. The former include the Purusa Avataras (Karanodaka-sayi Visnu, Garbhodaka-sayi Visnu and Ksirodaka-sayi Visnu) and the latter, the incarnations, include the lila avataras.
The avesa forms are the greatest of the jivas and are the demigods mentioned in the Eleventh Chapter of Bhagavad-gita. Lord Janardana enters them by His jnana-sakti (knowledge potency). These include the four Kumara brothers, Narada Muni, Brahma, the serpent Anantadeva, Prthu, Parasurama, and countless others.
Hearing the pastimes of the Lord is the same as hearing the song from His flute. Even if one has fallen into the whirlpool of material existence, he will become attracted to the Supreme Lord of Vrndavana simply by hearing of His pastimes. By hearing of the activities of Krsna, studying the forms of Krsna, learning of the opulences of Krsna, and reading the words of Krsna in Bhagavad-gita, the soul can be directed to that glorious planet of Vrndavana where he can finally attain eternal transcendental association with Krsna. The first step of awakening is to hear the song of His flute which plays the glories of His pastimes.
—by Rupanuga das Adhikari
The immediate result of chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare has been the phenomenal growth of a unique federation of urban communes in the United States, Canada and Europe based on Vedic philosophy and centered around self-realization as the goal of community life. This transcendental federation, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), is held together by mutual agreement to accept the principles of Bhakti-yoga or devotional service as the goal of life.
The Society is in the greater society but definitely transcendental to it. Its members, ordinary people without qualification of special training or talent, are free of the anxieties of the greater population. This freedom is due to their gradual realization that the actual standard of life is the pleasure of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the natural Object of all daily activities and affection. By mutual endeavor the entire Society is thinking of Sri Krsna from one engagement to another, whether cooking, cleaning, eating, working in an office, or chanting His Holy Names in the city streets. Such a purified mentality gradually springs up, free from the materialist's acute concern for the result of his work and free from competitive struggles carried on between friends, neighbors, communities and countries.
In other words, all activities are directed toward the Absolute Truth who is the Chief Person, Sri Krsna. It is natural to engage in His transcendental service, because He possesses all the attributes of the Perfect Leader: all beauty, all strength, all wealth, all intelligence, all fame and all renunciation. This is confirmed in all essential Vedic literature, including the Brahma-samhita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita, and the Caitanya-caritamrta. This literature also informs us that originally we are parts and parcels of Lord Krsna, and by nature transcendental, eternal persons, full of knowledge and bliss. We come under the conditions of suffering because of our forgetfulness of our relationship with Lord Krsna, God. It is recommended that we return our attention to Him by meditation on His Holy Name, whose association gradually changes the quality of our consciousness from haphazard pleasures and pains to steady variegated bliss, our original uncontaminated perception. For the purpose of realizing such a nice conclusion, the Vedic concept of Isavasya, or God-centered society, has been instituted at ISKCON.
The growth of ISKCON demonstrates the feasibility of self-realization on a mass scale. The secret of successful self-realization is God-centered communal life. ISKCON grows because it practices devotional service or Bhakti-yoga, the principle of developing actual love of Godhead and thus love for all living entities. As the Reservoir of Pleasure, Krsna dispenses all satisfactions according to the individual member's sincerity. As the All-attractive, He fascinates His servants to higher realms of bliss, revealing more and more of Himself to His sincere devotee.
Generally, society's energies are being expended in all directions, attempting to solve so many problems like violence, war, inflation, crime, old age, disease, etc. Consider that the problems remain unsolved and the energy dissipated. In fact, the complexities are increasing (with no shelter on the moon). The energy would be better spent on curing the disease rather than its symptoms. As stated in the Vedic scriptures, the disease behind all material distresses is ignorance of God. There is then one single problem—how to best serve the Supreme Person, Krsna, who is the all-attractive Source of Love and the Object of love.
The test of ISKCON's activity is to observe the participants and see that they are satisfied, friendly, and unusually jolly. A person advancing on the spiritual path naturally loses his affinity for the anxiety-producing stimuli of the material world-glitter, which is endlessly alternating between happiness and misery. Such persons are being freed, astounding as it may seem, from the unchangeable laws of birth, death, old age and disease, which ordinarily block everyone's real desires to be eternal, full of knowledge and blissful. Their satisfaction comes from Krsna Himself, who is equal to every living entity, impartial in His Love. But just as a father feels some special affection for his obedient and affectionate son (though he takes care of the rascal sons as well), Krsna encourages His devotee to go on. The devotee tries to please the Lord's Senses rather than his own. His growing freedom is the result of knowing that he (a spirit soul) is not his body or mind but a transcendental person on the way back home, back to Godhead.
These transcendental communes are unique because the members are practicing the highest Yoga principles in the midst of urban confusion and glut. Yoga is the process of connecting with God. There have been a number of Vedanta societies, self-realization groups, etc., in this country for years, mostly practicing some form of mental or physical exercise only. In the Bhagavad-gita, the basic book of Yoga practice, Sri Krsna indicates that to practice any Yoga other than Bhakti-yoga (devotional service) requires special circumstances. One must take refuge at a sacred place, away from the mass of people, make a special seat, practice difficult breath control and meditation, arrange the body in special positions, practice celibacy, etc. Such endeavor must continue for lifetimes to reach the Supreme Goal, and it is possible only for one in millions. Yoga systems other than the regulated principles of Bhakti-yoga, though bona fide, are not intended for the current city civilization. Five thousand years ago, Arjuna was a superior man in all respects, living in conditions far more conducive to self-realization than today, and yet he insisted, in answer to Krsna's explanation of these Yoga systems, that such practices were beyond his capacity. In numerous places in the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna explains Bhakti as the real principle and process of Yoga. Bhakti-yoga has two irresistable aspects for the urban citizen: it is both easy and sublime. Easy because it can be practiced at all circumstances and sublime becluse it offers immediate results due to association with the Supreme Transcendental Person, "Krsna." It is this easy application to daily city life that is so fortunate; quite naturally, spiritually-minded persons come together and form a transcendental society, when such means are so readily available by Krsna's mercy.
According to Sri Isopanisad and the Bhagavad-gita, the Supreme Person Krsna is the actual Proprietor of the world. Proprietor, owner, means controller as well. With some little meditation, i.e. with a thoughtful consideration of the subject matter, we can see that we do not even own our very bodies. If we did then we would be able to control their getting old and diseased. Our very bodies and minds, what to speak of other entities such as mosquitoes and robbers or natural events like hot weather and hurricanes, inflict pain upon us. No one should take seriously the mad scientists' promise of eventual immortality through our future progeny. Nor should a man think he lives on in his children. When the individual father and individual mother have an individual child, they expand by body not by soul. In the Second Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita it is clearly explained that consciousness is the symptom of the spirit-soul, and it is explained further that the self or spirit-soul is eternal and individual, but that his bodies are always changing. We are not the owners of these changing bodies, or of any material object. We are renting everything we have.
Even without full understanding, a person may engage what is Krsna's in the service of Krsna. Such a reformed thief is free of the anxiety of worrying about how to enjoy the fruits of his work, knowing well for whom he is working. Rather, he enjoys that service as its own reward and leaves the result, successful or not from the mundane viewpoint, to Krsna. Satisfied by such work in devotion, he continues until reaching twenty-four-hour-a-day association with Lord Krsna, while still in the temporary body This, of course; is the highest stage, beyond our present comprehension, but devotional service is also the method by which to reach the highest stage. Devotional service is the end as well as the means. In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna promises that such a faithful soul abides in Him and goes to Him.
Everywhere there is a natural division of labor, but the purpose or goal of labor (work of any kind) is misunderstood. According to Chapter Three of the Bhagavad-gita, Krsna is the sole beneficiary of all work, all sacrifice. Therefore, the community that works in devotional service is free of worry. All efforts are directed to Krsna and the community members are free of the tremendous burden of trying to satisfy their temporary senses. In contrast, the greater society is directing all or most of its energy toward satisfaction of the temporary senses, which occupation has been an historical failure. No one has succeeded in remaining always happy by the path of gratifying the senses, yet everyone is still trying. This is called maya or illusion. The greater society functions in this illusion: everyone is working for maya. In the ISKCON community everyone works for Krsna.
One should be concerned with relieving their neighbors of their material ills. Therefore, it is the greatest welfare work to remind the greater society of its Leader, Krsna. This reminder is the purpose of the missionary work of ISKCON. To this end, radio, T.V., newspapers, magazines, lectures, festivals, door-to-door canvassing, mass kirtanas, and chanting Hare Krsna in the city streets are all utilized and completely open to investigation as an open secret. As such activities increase, more and more of the material atmosphere which is intoxicating the greater society is purifica. The potency of transcendental works and sounds should not be underestimated. The doubtful are spiritualized by association and the atheists will die their usual death. Transcendental vibrations are encircling the planet. When the waves of bliss reach every nation, the entire world will be one nation under God. All intelligent persons should join that eternal nation now. No special birth, no visa is needed to enter that natural state, only serious desire.
The pattern of a transcendental earth is being designed in the Krsna conscious centers. The presiding tendency of the world is to imitate the West, the U.S. specifically, and this is facilitating the spread of Krsna consciousness. In this way, the nationalistic pride of the U.S. and all nations may be dovetailed in Transcendence. Happiness will come when peace comes, and peace will come only after the quality of world-consciousness is changed from material to spiritual, from body-family-state-nation-race-earth consciousness to Krsna—or God—consciousness.
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the greatest example of devotional service, indicates, in opposition to the prevailing cultural prejudices, that divisions of labor and national boundaries are useful for the administration of material needs, but that chanting the Holy Names of God and the practice of devotional service is the natural unfettered business of all human beings regardless of birthplace or occupation. In all scriptures this path of devotional service is verified, and this is proof that it is not some sectarian concept. Lord Jesus Christ taught pure devotional service, love of God, as the highest aim of life. When he was questioned as to the prime duty or first commandment for human beings, he answered, "to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, and mind."
The conception of Isavasya or God-centered society is clearly explained in the first mantra of Sri Isopanisad
Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one must not accept other things, knowing well to Whom they belong.
War and other endless competition is based on the nationalistic premise that land and other energies belong to the human beings who can occupy them successfully. This is a conceited assumption of fragile-bodied men. If I cannot keep my own body from decaying, how then can I be the proprietor of the land in which my body will be buried? Actually, the real knowledge is "nirmama," nothing is mine. Not even this body, what to speak of my so-called possessions.
This illusion of the temporary tenant that he is the proprietor, the landlord, goes against reasonable experience. The so-called Russians, Americans, and Hindus, all leave this temporary residence as they came—naked and empty-handed. True, a man has his possessions that come naturally by honest labor, they are his quota. But he can only use his money, his car, his clothes, friends, etc., he cannot keep them. If a man or a nation tries for more than what comes to them by honest labor, in other words, becomes greedy, then there is nothing but trouble. The problems growing from material hankerings can be avoided, but not by planning commissions and varied governments, as is proved by history and confirmed daily.
In the Bhagavad-gita, the solution is neatly expressed in the following verses:
O son of Kunti [Arjuna], all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me. Thus you will be freed of all reactions to good and evil deeds; and by this principle of renunciation you will be liberated and come to ME. (Chapter Nine)
By following his qualities of work, every man can become perfect. Now please hear from Me how this can be done: By worship of the Lord, who is the Source of all beings, all-pervading, man can become perfect, doing his work. In all activities, and for their results, just depend upon Me, and work always under My protection. In such devotional service, be fully conscious of Me. (Chapter Eighteen)
That is the standard of peace and happiness—Krsna consciousness—using Krsna's energy in His service. Actual freedom. Krsna-karma or Krsna-activities lead the members of this spiritual community to higher and higher states of pure consciousness and liberation from anxiety, an atmosphere unknown in our present condition. The greater population has its ideas of what liberation means, but it does not detect that activities centered about gratifying the temporary senses lead only to further bondage and, inevitably, to nihilism, impersonalism and cynicism. But in contrast, the activities of the liberated person are chosen according to a standard that is transcendental to mere sense gratification, and the results cannot be imagined or pretended. There is an opportunity for spiritual advancement, to work for Lord Krsna and give the results to Him. But if we cannot understand for whom we are actually laboring in this world, then our efforts can never satisfy us, no matter how hard we may work.
The standard of success in life is the satisfaction of the Supreme Sentient Being Sri Krsna, and the result is knowledge and bliss, the eternal heritage of every living entity. One is liberated shortly after going to work for Lord Krsna and after continuing his activities for some time, he lives with Him everywhere in sight; and at the end of the body he goes to Lord Krsna's planet, Krsna-loka.
In 1969, the prevailing standard of life all over the world is material well-being. In this most advanced civilization men are very restless, and there remains a vacuum in everyone's heart. That is because the symptoms of actual material advancement, such as good shelter, enough to eat, cleanliness, adequate clothing, education and a regular job, are actually dependent upon healthy spiritual advancement.
The transcendental citizen knows the actual standard of life. He sees all boundaries, flags, and political consciousness as illusions only, in what is clearly God's country. Therefore he serves God, not illusion (maya). He is the most loyal, because always he wants to relieve his neighbor of his material miseries, and he becomes expert at the office because he worships Lord Krsna by his work. These transcendental citizens have come together to tell others in the anxious cities the news about Krsna. It is a great relief to hear this news of Krsna. Rupa Gosvami, a great leader in the eternal history of this Transcendental Sampradaya (community), has said, "If you hear that Krsna consciousness is to be purchased in the marketplace, then at once go there and purchase it!"
Some people contend that Krsna consciousness consists of hallucination, self-hypnosis, emotional contagion, etc., without a real look at the evidence. Everyone is fond of speculating or guessing about everything, based on previous experience or lack thereof, as if that process guaranteed some final and true conclusion. Little children are famous for disliking some food preparation, especially vegetables, they have never seen or tasted! Likewise, speculations and hypotheses are like the bee licking the outside of the jar of honey; one cannot speculate about the taste of honey. The transcendental flavor of Krsna consciousness—devotional service—is beyond guessing, as is Sri Krsna Himself.
Therefore, the sincere investigator has three opportunities for studying the validity of Krsna consciousness: he can meet and talk to the devotees, he can chant Hare Krsna and experiment for himself, and he can read The Bhagavad-gita As 1t Is and try to understand the philosophy. Also, if so fortunate, he can hear a lecture by the Founder and Acarya (one who teaches by example) of ISKCON, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Prabhupada and the members of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness are forever inviting our friends and guests to join in the vibration of Hare Krsna and know for yourselves. Please accept this invitation, intelligent people! It is scientific, provable, testable, most palatable! Accept our fervent humble plea! There is no harm, no expenditure. No force: in the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna says, "Thus I have explained to you the most confidential of all knowledge. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do."
—by Jadurani devi dasi
Sound has form eternal. According to the Sankhya philosophical system disclosed to the world by Lord Kapiladeva at the dawn of creation, the whole material world is produced by sound. This is also a scientific fact and scientists are now engaged in researching the importance of sound. In the physical sciences, such as electronics, they are studying sound, and discovering that the material sound vibration has great power. As one can perceive the existence of air by the medium of touch, he can understand the existence of ether or space simply by clapping his hands—by sound. Sound means there is space batween the two objects—between the speaker and the person receiving the information. According to the stringent laws of nature, everything is already established; there is nothing new we can create—by sound we develop our intimate relationship with the world. For example, stones and cement are already here; but by hearing we can understand how to utilize them and can construct a house. If material sound has so much power we should try to understand the power of the spiritual sound, because real, original sound is coming from the Spiritual World. This material world can be compared with a record player. The sound is originally coming from a person and the record player is simply reproducing that sound, and is not the original source. Whatever sound there is in the material world, the original sound is produced from the spiritual sky—from God. In the Bible it is said, "Let there be creation," and simply by dint of this sound vibration, the whole creation is flowing out; God's Word is sufficient. During the autumn months the leaves fall to the ground in only a few days. And again, at the beginning of spring, everything immediately becomes green. If we were to decorate even one tree or take all the leaves off that tree it would take months. But God does not require any engineering work. Simply His Words, "Let there be creation," are sufficient.
As sound is the cause of this material world, it is also its destruction. That same sound which destroys this cosmic manifestation elevates one to the spiritual sky, which is conspicuous by the absence of the qualities of the material sky. While the material sky is described as a temporary, miserable existence of ignorance, everyone in the spiritual world is living eternally in full bliss and knowledge. The sound that elevates one to the spiritual world is Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Hare Krsna is not a whimsical invention, manufactured by some individual. It descends from the spiritual sky. It is recommended in Vedic literature such as Brhad-naradiya Purana, Agni Purana, Varaha Purana, Bhagavad-gita, and Srimad-Bhagavatam. It is a transcendental sound vibration, and the fortunate chanter or hearer of these nectar-like words relishes at every moment the goal of his life, association with the Supreme Lord of all the worlds, Sri Krsna. As material sourld vibrations develop our intimate relationship with this world of nescience, the transcendental sound vibration revives our full knowledge of the infinite spiritual space. If someone hears a friend's voice on the telephone after a long period of separation, he immediately remembers everything about the friend—where they ate together, what they did together, etc. If he is so fortunate as to hear the transcendental sound "Krsna" he can at once remember everything about his own blissful spiritual identity. It is unfortunate that in this age people are not interested in hearing God. They want to see God.
Not only is hearing as good as seeing, hearing is actually better. Prabhupada A.C. Bhaktivedanta says that we are seeing so many things around us every day, yet we do not understand them. When Krsna appeared on this earth 5,000 years ago, everyone saw Him but only a handful understood Him as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Five thousand years later we are hearing about Krsna from the Bhagavad-gita and other authoritative literatures; and if we hear submissively we can understand everything about His transcendental nature. If one is fast asleep at night and a burglar enters within his house, he can apprehend the villain only by hearing. The other senses are for the time being not working. A child learns in the beginning of its training by hearing. "This is a watch, this is your father." Prabhupada gives the example of milk. If I smell milk, I can understand that it has a nice aroma; if I taste it I can understand that it tastes sweet; by touching it I know it is wet and cold, and by seeing it I can understand it is white. But simply by hearing, "This is milk," I immediately know everything. I know it is sweet, it is white, wet, cold and aromatic. Also by sound I can know Krsna, the Reservoir of pleasure, the Fountainhead of all knowledge and eternal life.
Within the material and spiritual worlds there is nothing in existence but the Supreme Lord and His energies. Therefore anyone in knowledge of Krsna, the Supreme Lord, is in knowledge of everything. Hare means the power of the Lord, and Krsna is the Supreme Powerful. There is actually nothing within our vision except Hare and Krsna. The Lord being absolute there is no difference between His Name and His actual Form. As it is stated in the Vedic literatures, Krsna's Name is called Vigraha. The Name Itself has form. Even in this material world sound has form, or it would not be possible for it to travel through the air in the form of waves. We can speak to a friend thousands of miles away over the telephone because sound has travelled through the telephone wires. As it is possible for ordinary material sound to have form, then why not spiritual sound? In fact, the Name Krsna is the subtlest form of God, and Krsna Himself is dancing on the tongue of the sincere chanter. Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita, 4.9, "I descend in every millenium to vanquish the demon and to protect the devotee." But in this age the Lord is especially compassionate with the fallen condition of the people and He comes not to vanquish them, but to reclaim them. He comes in the Form of the Holy Names. Therefore, Hare Krsna is an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the Hare Krsna Sankirtan Movement is also considered by the great authorities to be an incarnation, invested with the same potencies as the Lord Himself.
Because Krsna's Name and Krsna Himself are identical His Name is also called rasa. It has taste. In the material world there is difference between the form and the name. The word mango is different from the form of the mango and one cannot taste the sweet mango fruit simply by chanting "mango, mango, mango." But the devotee who knows that there is no difference between Krsna and His Name chants always Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, and by experiencing the sweet mellow of these Names, realizes that he is always in the Lord's Company.
Krsna's Name is also called nitya; It is eternal. In the material world our names are not eternal. They belong to these temporary bodies and therefore are also temporary. When we leave our body and are forced to accept a new one, we are forced to change the name. But millions of years ago, when Krsna delivered the Bhagavad-gita to the Sungod, His Name was Krsna; 5,000 years ago, when He delivered the Gita to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kuruksetra, His Name was Krsna; and today also It is Krsna. If one can contact the Eternal, he also becomes eternal, immortal and therefore fearless.
The mind of the ordinary person is always filled with fear and anxieties, because he has not realized his eternal spiritual nature. But when the mind is fixed on the Absolute Reservoir of pleasure, Lord Krsna, by chanting Hare Krsna, he is immediately elevated to the Absolute platform. When the senses are engaged on a particular object, the mind is automatically engaged and therefore by sincerely chanting and hearing the Maha (great) Mantra, Hare Krsna, the mind is fully absorbed in spiritual thought and is thus freed from the pangs of temporary material life. The example is given of an elephant who has suffered in the forest fire and enters the river to get himself pacified. If persons who are suffering in the forest fire of material existence will only enter into the nectar-like river of Hare Krsna, they will forget all the troubles of material existence.
In this collection, Narottama-dasa Thakur, a great acarya in the line of Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya, has written in his song "Nitai Pada-kamalam" that the whole world is suffering under the blazing fire of material existence; in order to get relief from the fire one should take shelter of the Lotus Feet of Nityananda by chanting Hare Krsna (Nityananda is another Name for Rama), because it is as cooling as millions of moonrays combined together. During the summer months a man works long, hot, tiring hours at his job and in the evening he feels new life by taking shelter of the cooling rays of the moon. The Lotus Feet of Lord Nityananda offer the relief of millions of moons. Under this shelter one immediately finds a peaceful atmosphere. If one has not contacted Nityananda that person should understand that he has simply spoiled his valuable life. The Thakur uses harsh words and says that such a human being who has never uttered the Holy Name of Nityananda (Hare Krsna) has to be considered an uncontrolled animal, because he does not know that all of his education, his family, name or national prestige cannot help him.
There is some pleasure here in this material world but that pleasure is flickering and all our activities are tested at the time of death. When we enter into a new body by force, our family, education, etc., cannot protect us and will have proved useless. The very word Nityananda means eternal pleasure. Nitya means eternal and ananda means pleasure. The man who is mad after false prestige is thinking, "Who is Nityananda! What can He do for me?" He accepts something which is not. He accepts this body as himself. As the conclusion of his song, Narottama dasa prays to Lord Nityananda, "I am very unhappy in this material world. Please make me happy by placing me at the corner of Your Lotus Feet." The Thakur is desiring: "When will the time come that there will be shivering of my body simply by chanting the Holy Name of Lord Caitanya [Krsna]? And when will tears from my eyes glide down simply by chanting, 'Hari, Hari,' and when will I be favored by Lord Nityananda so that all desires for material enjoyment will appear to me very insignificant? When shall I become free from the desires of bodily demands and thus be able to visualize the transcendental land of Vrndavana [the Supreme Spiritual Abode]?"
When Krsna appeared on this earth, He taught the Bhagavad-gita and offered realization by knowledge. The Bhagavad-gita was spoken especially for the less intelligent class of men 5,000 years ago, but in this age everything has degraded so miserably that even the greatest scholars spend their entire lifetime studying Bhagavad-gita and still they cannot understand it.
Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda are also Krsna and Rama but They came here especially to deliver love of God and therefore have offered that simply by chanting Hare Krsna and dancing for Krsna one can achieve the goal of self-realization in a very short time. The process is simply joyful and one should chant Hare Krsna with firm faith that by chanting Hare Krsna his existence will become purified. One devotee prayed that Hare Krsna is so powerful that it melts even stone—it melts the heart of stone-hearted men. When Lord Caitanya chanted in the forests of India the birds would cry and even the tigers would accompany Him in chanting and dancing. In fact, Hare Krsna has so much power because it is descending from the lips of Lord Caitanya. Of course we are not Lord Caitanya and cannot expect to enthuse the animals, but at least we can enthuse the human beings. Practically, the Hare Krsna Mantra is more merciful than Krsna Himself. Prabhupada says that if Radha and Krsna were to come to the temple, he would have to make so many elaborate preparations, dress beautifully, spend vast amounts of money for decoration and food, but Hare Krsna is so merciful that there are no requirements and no conditions. You can chant it anywhere at any time and there are no hard and fast rules. And the result is the same—association with the Absolute Truth, Radha and Krsna. Prabhupada also tells a story that when Krsna was on earth His devotees put Him on one side of a scale because they wanted to see how much gold would be needed on the other side to outweigh Krsna. The more gold they put, the heavier Krsna became. Then one devotee had an idea. He wrote "Krsna" on a tulasi leaf and placed it on the opposite side of the scale and immediately it outweighed Krsna.
Srimad-Bhagavatam, First Canto, mercifully informs its reader that everyone who has accepted this material body is "rotting in the kingdom of material energy," and its stringent laws of birth, old age, disease and death are very difficult to surpass, but anyone chanting Hare Krsna is at once relieved from its clutches. Those who are merged in the nectar of hearing Hare Krsna are liberated. They have no fear of material conditioned life. This world is described as an ocean of miseries. There are dangers at every step, but for one in Krsna consciousness that ocean appears as large as a puddle of water made by the imprint of a calf's hoof in the mud.
Moreover, for the devotee of Krsna, that peaceful condition is simply a by-product. As stated in Nectar of Devotion, the ocean is always calm even though many rivers flow into it. But as soon as there is a rise of the full moon no one can stop the tide from rushing wildly toward the shore. Similarly, the pure devotee of Krsna is calm even with the coming of desire and anxieties in the mind, but when the new moon of Krsna arises by the chanting of the Holy Names, no one can stop him from dancing and shedding tears in ecstasy. Lord Caitanya prayed in His Siksastaka, "Oh my Lord, when shall my eyes be decorated with tears of love flowing constantly by chanting Your Holy Name? And when will all the hairs of my body have eruptions by the recitation of Your Name?"
The highest perfection is to be continuously thinking of Krsna, the Absolute Truth; in Yoga terminology such state of absorption is called samadhi. It is the facility of the sound of the Holy Name that by chanting it with the tongue and hearing it with the ear the mind is fixed on the Absolute Truth. Not that we want to apply the mind to anything and everything. By applying oneself to the vibration of the transcendental sound, Hare Krsna, one enters into realization of his eternal nature as spirit soul, servitor of Krsna. We want to be always thinking of Krsna's Pastimes. Once one of A.C. Bhaktivedanta's disciples wrote to Prabhupada as follows: "I understand that on one hand the highest meditation is thinking of these Pastimes, such as Krsna stealing butter, Krsna upholding the Govardhan Hill, playing with the cowherdsboys, with the gopis, and later speaking Bhagavad-gita at Kuruksetra. On the other hand we have so often been told to simply listen with attention to the pure sound vibration of the words 'Hare' and 'Krsna.'" The student therefore asked, "Should I try, while chanting, with separate endeavor to think of the Pastimes of Krsna as I have heard them from lectures and in the literature?" Prabhupada's answer is printed here for the benefit of all persons: "Hearing the vibration of Hare Krsna automatically reminds one of Krsna's Pastimes. Both of them arise simultaneously in the mind when one is sincerely chanting. You cannot make a distinction between listening to the sound and thinking of the Pastimes. The process is to hear, and then Krsna's Pastimes, Form, Qualities, etc., will automatically come into mind."
Ideally, at the time of death, when whatever we do is tested, we should be uttering this immortal sound vibration, "Hare Krsna." A great devotee, Maharaj Kulasekhara, however, prays as follows: "My dear Lord, just now I am quite healthy, and it is better that I die immediately so that the swan of my mind can seek entrance at the stem of Your Lotus Feet." The image is that of the swan, whose sporting pleasure is to duck his head and neck under the water and entangle himself in the stem of the lotus. Maharaj Kulasekhara is saying to the Lord: "Now I am not disturbed in mind and I am healthy, so if I die immediately chanting and thinking of Your Lotus Feet then I am sure that my performances of Your devotional service has been perfect. But if I have to wait for my natural death then I do not know what will happen; because at that time, the bodily functions will be dislocated and my throat will be choked up with cough and I do not know whether I shall be able to chant Your Name. Better let me die immediately." We personally recall Prabhupada remarking, "These bodies are temporary. They will not exist. But this sound vibration will go on."