Back to Godhead is about Krsna (pronounced "Krishna"), the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Krsna is a Sanskrit word meaning God, the All-Attractive. Our magazine is intended to bring a revival of God consciousness to people of modern civilization, most of whom have forgotten what God is or who think God to be dead, impersonal or void. Because Krsna, the Supreme Person, appeared in India, many people think Krsna to be a Hindu god. But He is not. Krsna is God. He is not Christian, nor Muslim, nor Buddhist nor Jewish. He is universal. As the cause of all existence, Krsna, or God, is the actual substance of life.
Just as there are magazines about sports, business and other topics, this is a magazine about the science of God. Back to Godhead educates humanity of its divine nature and trains the mind. Most magazines offer what the editors think the public might like, such as sex, crime and amusements, but our method is to present the real substance of life. We present 100% Krsna, without ordinary tricks and commercial formulas. We receive the information we print about Krsna from the most authorized sources, the genuine spiritual master and the Vedic scriptures. The Vedic literatures are philosophically so perfect and clear that simply by carefully reading them one will know God perfectly well and will be sufficiently educated to defend himself from the argumentative onslaughts of atheists. Beyond that, the reader will be able to convert others to accepting God as the highest pleasure and the most concrete principle of life.
Our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, understands that more and more people are growing tired of hackneyed mundane topics and are developing a taste instead for transcendental literature. Therefore he has instructed his disciples, the members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, to distribute Back to Godhead as widely as possible, by the hundreds of thousands. Please read the article written by His Divine Grace and the articles by his disciples. We believe that serious and impartial persons will find them sublime.
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
In the upper left-hand side of this page you will see printed the words Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. These are names of God taken from the ancient Vedic scriptures, where they have been arranged scientifically in this form of sixteen syllables called the Hare Krsna mantra. The word mantra indicates that this transcendental delivers the mind of all misery and brings spiritual bliss. If recited aloud or even silently, with feeling and careful attention, the Hare Krsna mantra can clean one's heart of the dirty desires which accumulate there for many lifetimes and which cover our original pure and happy condition. Even if you do not have time to read the essays in this magazine, we humbly request you to experiment and try chanting this Hare Krsna mantra. It is not at all difficult, it requires no sacrifice, and you don't have to change your religion, philosophy or way of life in order to chant Hare Krsna. Why don't you try it right now? You have nothing to lose, and the gain is very great. Whoever you are, wherever you are, please invest at least a few moments and try reciting the Hare Krsna mantra.
Sanskrit words and names in Back to Godhead are spelled according to a system accepted by scholars throughout the world which indicates the exact pronunciation of each word. Vowels in Sanskrit are pronounced almost as in Italian. The sound of the short a is like the u in but, the long a is like the a in far and held twice as long as the short a, and e is like the a in evade. Long i is like the i in pique. The vowel r is pronounced like the re in the English word fibre. The c is pronounced as in the English word chair, and the aspirated consonants (ch, jh, dh, etc.) are pronounced as in staunch-heart, hedge-hog, red-hot, etc. The two spirants s and s are pronounced like the English sh; s is pronounced as in sun. Thus Krsna is pronounced KRISHNA, Caitanya is pronounced CHAITANYA, etc.
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His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Today I shall speak to you about the glorification of the holy name of God. This was discussed between Maharaja Pariksit and Sukadeva Gosvami in connection with a brahmana who was very fallen and addicted to all kinds of sinful activities but was saved simply by chanting the holy name. This is found in the Sixth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam.
The universal planetary systems are very nicely explained in the Fifth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam. Within the universe there are some planets which are hellish. Actually, not only the Bhagavatam but all religious scriptures contain descriptions of hell and heaven. In Srimad-Bhagavatam you can find out where those hellish planets are and how distant they are from this planet, just as you can obtain information from modern astronomy. Astronomers have calculated how far the moon is from here and what the distance is between this planet and the sun; similarly, the Bhagavatam contains descriptions of the hellish planets.
We have experience of different atmospheric conditions even on this planet. In the western countries near the North Pole, the climate is different than in India, which is near the equator. Just as there are differences in atmosphere and living conditions on this planet, similarly there are many planets which have different atmospheres and conditions of life.
After hearing a description of the hellish planets from Sukadeva Gosvami, Pariksit Maharaja said, adhuneha maha-bhaga yathaiva narakannarah / nanograyatananneyattanme vyakhyatumarhasi: "Sir, I have heard from you about the hellish planets. Men who are very sinful are sent to those planets." Pariksit Maharaja is a Vaisnava (devotee), and a Vaisnava always feels compassion for others' distress. He is very afflicted by the miseries of others. When Lord Jesus Christ presented himself, for instance, he was greatly afflicted by the miserable conditions of the people. Regardless of which country or sect they belong to, all Vaisnavas or devotees—any people who are God conscious or Krsna conscious—are thus compassionate. Therefore to blaspheme a Vaisnava, a preacher of God's glories, is a great offense.
Krsna, God, is never tolerant of offenses committed at the lotus feet of a Vaisnava. Krpambudhi: A Vaisnava is an ocean of mercy. Vanca-kalpa-taru: Everyone has desires, but a Vaisnava can fulfill all desires. Kalpa-taru means desire tree. There is a tree in the spiritual world which is called a desire tree. In this material world, you get a particular type of fruit from a particular type of tree, but in Krsnaloka as well as in all the Vaikuntha planets, all the trees are spiritual and will fulfill all your desires. That is described in the Brahma-samhita: cintamani-prakara-sadmasu kalpa-vrksa.
A Vaisnava is addressed as mahabhaga, which means "fortunate." One who becomes a Vaisnava and is God conscious is understood to be greatly fortunate.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu has explained that the living entities are rotating in different species of life, in different planetary systems all over the universe. A living entity can go anywhere—to hell or heaven—as he likes and as he prepares himself. There are many heavenly planets, many hellish planets and many species of life. There are 8,400,000 species of life. The living entity is rotating, wandering through these species and creating bodies according to his mentality in the present life. As you sow, so shall you reap.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu says that out of all these numberless living entities who are traveling in the material world, one is fortunate, not everyone. If everyone were fortunate, they would all have taken to Krsna consciousness. It is being distributed freely everywhere. But why are people not taking it? Because they are unfortunate. Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu says that only those who are fortunate take to this Krsna consciousness, and they get hopeful life, pleasant life, blissful life, a life of knowledge.
It is the duty of a Vaisnava to go door to door to make the unfortunate people fortunate. A Vaisnava thinks, "How can these people be delivered from their hellish life?" That was Pariksit Maharaja's inquiry. "Sir," he said, "you have described that on account of one's sinful activities he is put into a hellish condition of life or in a hellish planetary system. Now, what are the counter methods by which such persons can be saved?" This is the question. When a Vaisnava comes, when God Himself comes, or when God's son or His very confidential devotees come, their only mission is to save the sinful men who are suffering. They have knowledge of how to do this.
When Prahlada Maharaja met Nrsimhadeva, he said:
naivodvije para duratyaya vaitaranyas
"My dear Lord," Prahlada says, "I am not very anxious for my own deliverance." Mayavadi philosophers are very careful that their personal salvation is not interrupted. They think, "If I go to preach in association with others, I may fall down, and my realization will be finished." Therefore they do not come. Only the Vaisnavas come, at the risk of falldown—but they do not fall down. They may even go to hell to deliver the conditioned souls. This is Prahlada Maharaja's mission. He says, naivodvije udvije: "I am not very anxious about living in this material world."
Prahlada Maharaja says further, "I have no anxiety for myself because somehow or other I have been trained to be always Krsna conscious." Because he is Krsna conscious, he is confident that in his next life he is going to Krsna. It is stated in Bhagavad-gita that if one executes the Krsna conscious regulative principles carefully, it is certain that he will reach the supreme destination in his next life.
Prahlada Maharaja continues: "There is only one source of anxiety for me." Just see—although he had no anxiety for himself, he still had anxiety. He says, soce tato vimukha-cetasa: "I am anxious for those persons who are not Krsna conscious. That is my anxiety. For myself I have no anxiety, but I am thinking of those who are not Krsna conscious." Why aren't they Krsna conscious? Maya-sukhaya bharamudvahato vimudhan. These rascals have created a humbug civilization for temporary happiness.
Maya-sukhaya. Actually this is a fact. We have a humbug civilization. So many cars are being manufactured every year, and for that purpose so many roads have to be excavated and prepared. This creates problem after problem. Therefore it is maya-sukhaya, illusory happiness, and yet we are trying to be happy in this way. We are trying to manufacture some way to be happy, but this only creates other problems.
In your country you have the greatest number of cars, but that does not solve any problems. You have manufactured cars to help solve the problems of life, but I have experienced that this also creates more problems. When my disciple Dayananda wanted to take me to a doctor in Los Angeles, I had to take the trouble to travel thirty miles before I could even consult the doctor. Once you create cars, then you must travel thirty or forty miles to meet your friends.
You can go from New York to Boston in one hour, but it takes even longer than that just to get to the airport. This situation is called maya-sukhaya. Maya means false, illusory. We are trying to create some very comfortable situation, but we have created another uncomfortable situation. This is the way of the material world; if we are not satisfied by the natural comforts offered by God and nature and we want to create artificial comforts, then we have to create some discomfort also. Most people do not know that. They think that they are creating a very comfortable situation, but actually they are traveling fifty miles to go to the office to earn a livelihood and fifty miles to come back. In Hawaii, one boy, Gaursundar, was working to maintain our temple. Unfortunately he had to go fifty miles from the temple to work. I was very sorry to see that this boy had to go fifty miles for Krsna's sake, but now Krsna has given us the facility so that we don't have to work. Because of such conditions, Prahlada Maharaja says that these vimudhans—these materialistic persons, these rascals—have created an unnecessary burden on themselves simply for temporary happiness. Vimudhan, maya-sukhaya bharamudvahato. Therefore, in Vedic civilization, it is recommended that one free himself from material life, take sannyasa, the renounced order of life, and prosecute spiritual life with absolutely no anxiety.
If one can execute Krsna consciousness in family life, that is very good. Bhaktivinode Thakur was a family man, a magistrate, and still he executed devotional service so nicely. Dhruva Maharaja and Prahlada Maharaja were grhasthas, householders, but they trained themselves in such a way that even as householders they were faced with no interruption in their service. Therefore, Prahlada Maharaja says, " I have learned the art of always remaining in Krsna consciousness." What is that art? Tvadvirya gayama mahamrta-magna-cittah. Simply glorifying the victorious activities and pastimes of the Lord. Virya means "very heroic."
Krsna's activities are heroic. You can read about them in Krsna Book. Krsna's name, His fame, His activities, His associates and everything else are heroic. Prahlada Maharaja says in this connection, "I am certain that wherever I go, I can glorify Your heroic activities and be safe. There is no question of my falling down. But I am simply anxious for these persons who have created a type of civilization in which they are always busy working hard. I am thinking of them."
Prahlada says further:
prayena deva munyah sva-vimukti-kama
"My dear Lord, there are many saintly persons and sages who are very interested in their own liberation." Munayah means saintly persons or philosophers. Prayena deva munayah sva-vimukti-kama: they are very interested in their own liberation. They try to live in solitary places like the Himalayan mountains. They do not talk to anyone, and they are always afraid of mixing with ordinary people in the city and becoming disturbed or maybe even falling down. They think, "Better let me save myself."
Prahlada Maharaja regrets that these great saintly persons do not come to the city, where people have manufactured a civilization of very hard work all day and night. Such saints are not very compassionate. He says, "I am anxious for these fallen people who are unnecessarily working so hard simply for sense gratification."
Even if there were some point in working that hard, such people do not know what it is. All they know is sex. Either they go to a naked dance or to a naked club or to this or that. Prahlada Maharaja says, naitan vihaye krpanan vimumuksa eko. "My Lord, I do not need salvation alone. Unless I take all these fools with me, I shall not go." He refuses to go to the kingdom of God without taking all these fallen souls with him. This is a Vaisnava. Nanyam tvadasya saranam bramato 'nupasye: "I simply want to teach them how to surrender unto You. That's all. That is my goal."
The Vaisnava knows that as soon as one surrenders, one's path is clear. Naivodvije para duratyayavai taranyas-tvadvirya gayana mahamrta-magna-cittah: "Simply, somehow or other, let them bow down before Krsna." This is a simple method. All you have to do is bow down before Krsna with faith and say, "My Lord Krsna, I was forgetful of You for so long, for so many lives. Now I have come to consciousness; please accept me." That's all. If one simply learns this technique and sincerely surrenders himself to the Lord, his path is immediately open. These are the philosophical thoughts of a Vaisnava. A Vaisnava is always thinking about how the fallen conditioned souls can be delivered. They are always involved in making plans in that way, just like the Gosvamis. What was the business of the six Gosvamis of Vrndavana, Lord Caitanya's direct disciples? That is stated by Srinivasa Acarya:
nana sastra-vicaranaika-nipunau sad-dharma-samsthapakau
"The six Gosvamis, namely, Sri Sanatana Gosvami, Sri Rupa Gosvami, Sri Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami, Sri Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami, Sri Jiva Gosvami and Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, are very expert in scrutinizingly studying the revealed scriptures with the aim of establishing eternal religious principles for the benefit of all human beings. They are always absorbed in the mood of the gopis and are engaged in the transcendental loving service of Radha and Krsna."
With similar Vaisnava compassion, Pariksit Maharaja says to Sukadeva Gosvami, "You have described the different types of hellish conditions of life. Now, tell me how those who are suffering can be delivered. Kindly explain this to me." Adhuneha maha-bhaga yathaiva narakannarah/ nanograyatan-anneyattanme. Nara means human beings, those who are fallen. Narakannarah nanograyatananneyattan me : "How can they be delivered from their fierce miseries and horrible pains?" That is a Vaisnava heart. Maharaja Pariksit says, "Somehow or other they have fallen down to this hellish life. But that does not mean that they should remain in that condition. There must be some means by which they can be delivered, so kindly explain that."
Sukadeva Gosvami replied:
na cedihaivapacitim yathamhasah
"Yes, I've already described the different types of hellish conditions and very severe painful life, but one has to counteract it."
How can this be done? Sinful activities are committed in various ways. We can commit sinful activity and thus make a plan—"I shall kill that man"—that is still sinful. When the mind is thinking, feeling and willing, then there is action.
The other day I was reading in a book that if someone's dog barks at you when you are passing on the road, then that is an offense on the part of the dog-owner, according to law. No one should have to be scared by dogs barking, so one should take care of his dog. I read this. It is a law in your country. The dog is simply barking, but it is sinful. The dog is not responsible because it is an animal, but because the owner of the animal has made the dog his best friend, he is responsible by law. If an outside dog enters your house, it may not be killed, but the owners of the dog may be prosecuted.
Just as the barking of the dog is unlawful, so when you speak something offensive to others, that is also sinful. That is just like barking. Therefore sinful activities are committed in so many ways. Whether we think of sinful activities, or we speak something sinful, or we actually commit a sinful activity, they are all considered sinful activities. Dhruvam sa vai pretya narakanupaiti. One has to suffer punishment for such sinful activities.
People do not believe in a next life because they want to avoid this botheration. But we cannot avoid it. We must act according to the law, or we will be punished. Similarly, I cannot avoid God's law. That is not possible. I can cheat others, commit theft and hide myself, thereby saving myself from the punishment of the state law, but I cannot save myself from the superior law, the law of nature. It is very difficult. There are so many witnesses. The daylight is witness, the moonlight is witness, and Krsna is the supreme witness. You cannot say, "I am committing this sin, but no one can see me."
Krsna is the supreme witness sitting within your heart. He notes down what you are thinking and what you are doing. He also gives facility. If you want to do something to satisfy your senses, Krsna gives the facility for that action. That is stated in Bhagavad-gita. Sarvasya caham hrdi samnivisto: "I am sitting in everyone's heart." Mattah smrtir-jnanam-apohanam ca: "From Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness."
In this way Krsna gives us a chance. If you want Krsna, then He will give you a chance to have Him, and if you don't want Krsna, then He will give you a chance to forget Him. If you want to enjoy life forgetting Krsna, forgetting God, then Krsna will give you all facility so that you can forget, and if you want to enjoy life with Krsna consciousness, then Krsna will give you the chance to make progress in Krsna consciousness. That is up to you.
If you think that you can be happy without Krsna consciousness, Krsna does not object to that. Yathecchasi tatha kuru. After advising Arjuna, He simply said, "Now I have explained everything to you. Whatever you desire you can do." Arjuna replied immediately, karisye vacanam tava: "Now I shall execute Your order." That is Krsna consciousness.
God does not interfere with your little independence. If you want to act according to the order of God, then God will help you. Even if you fall down sometimes, if you become sincere—"From this time on I shall remain Krsna conscious and execute His orders"—then Krsna will help you. In all respects, even if you fall down, He will excuse you and give you more intelligence. This intelligence will say, "Don't do this. Now go on with your duty." But if you want to forget Krsna, if you want to become happy without Krsna, He will give you so many chances that you will forget Krsna life after life.
Pariksit Maharaja says here, "It is not that if I say there is no God then there will be no God or I will not be responsible for what I do." That is the atheistic theory. Atheists do not want God because they are always sinful—if they thought that there were God, then they would be forced to shudder at the thought of punishment. Therefore they deny the existence of God. That is their process. They think that if they do not accept God then there is no punishment and they can do whatever they like.
When rabbits are being attacked by bigger animals, they close their eyes and think, "I am not going to be killed." But they are killed anyway. Similarly, we may deny the existence of God and the law of God, but still God and His law are there. In the high court you may say, "I don't care for the law of the government," but you will be forced to accept the government law. If you deny the state law, then you will be put into prison and be caused to suffer. Similarly, I may foolishly decry the existence of God—"There is no God" or "I am God"—but, nevertheless, you are responsible for all your actions, both good and bad.
There are two kinds of activities—good and bad. If you act nicely and perform pious activities, then you get good fortune, and if you act sinfully, then you have to suffer. Therefore Sukadeva Gosvami says:
There are different kinds of atonement. If you commit some sin and counteract it by something else, that is atonement. There are examples of this in the Christian Bible. Sukadeva Gosvami says, "You should know that you are responsible, and according to the gravity of sinful life, you should accept some type of atonement as described in the sastras, the scriptures."
Actually, just as when one is diseased he must go to a doctor and pay doctor bills as a form of atonement, according to the Vedic way of life there is a class of brahmanas to whom one should go for the prescribed atonement according to the sins one commits.
Sukadeva Gosvami says that one has to execute the prescribed atonement according to the gravity of one's sinful life. He continues the example: dosasya drstva guru-laghavam yatha bhisak cikitseta rujam nidanavit. When you consult a physician, he prescribes an inexpensive medicine or a costly medicine according to the gravity of the disease. If you simply have a headache he may prescribe an aspirin, but if you have something very severe, he immediately prescribes a surgical operation which will cost a thousand dollars. Similarly, sinful life is a diseased condition, so one must follow the prescribed cure to become healthy.
Acceptance of the chain of birth and death is a diseased condition of the soul. The soul has no birth and death and no disease because it is spirit. Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita: na jayate, the soul has no birth, and mriyate, it has no death. Nityah sasvato 'yam purano na hanyate hanyamane sarire. The soul is eternal and everlasting. It is not lost with the dissolution of this body. Na hanyate hanyamane sarire. Na hanyate means that it is not killed or destroyed, even after the destruction of this body.
The missing point of modern civilization is that there is no educational system to instruct people on what happens after death. Thus we have the most defective education because without this knowledge of what happens after death, one dies like an animal. The animal does not know that he is going to have another body; he has no such knowledge.
Human life is not meant for becoming an animal. One should not simply be interested in eating, sleeping, sex life and defense. You may have a very nice arrangement for eating, or many nice buildings for sleeping, or a very good arrangement for sex life, or a very good defense force to protect you, but that does not mean that you are a human being. That type of civilization is animal life. Animals are also interested in eating, sleeping and sex life, and according to their own methods they defend also. Where, then, is the distinction between human life and animal life if you simply engage in these four principles of bodily nature?
The distinction is made when a human being is inquisitive—"Why have I been put into this miserable condition? Is there any remedy for it? Is there any perpetual eternal life? I do not want to die. I want to live very happily and peacefully. Is there a chance of this? What is that method? What is that science?" When these inquiries are there and steps are taken to answer these questions, that is human civilization: otherwise it is doggish civilization, animal civilization.
Animals are satisfied if they can eat, sleep, have some sex life and have some defense. Actually there is no defense because no one can protect himself from the hands of cruel death. Hiranyakasipu, for instance, wanted to live forever, and so he underwent severe austerities. So-called scientists are now saying that we shall stop death by scientific methods. This is also another crazy utterance. That is not possible. You may make great advancement in scientific knowledge, but there is no scientific solution to these four problems of birth, death, old age and disease.
One who is intelligent will be eager to solve these four prime problems. No one wants to die. But there is no remedy. I have to die. Everyone is very anxious to stop the increase of population by employing so many contraceptive methods, but still, birth is going on. So there is no stoppage of birth. You may invent up-to-date medicines by your scientific methods, but you cannot stop disease. It is not possible just to take a tablet to put an end to disease.
In Bhagavad-gita it is said, janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi-duhkha-dosanudarsanam: One might think that he has solved all the problems of his life, but where is the solution to these four problems of birth, death, old age and disease? That solution is Krsna consciousness.
Krsna also says in the same book, janma karma ca me divyam evam yo vetti tattvatah tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so 'rjuna. Every one of us is giving up our body at every moment. The last phase of giving up this body is called death. But Krsna says, "If anyone understands My appearance and disappearance and My activities—not superficially but in truth—after giving up this body he never again accepts a material body."
What happens to such a person? Mam eti—he returns to Krsna. If you are to go to Krsna, then you have to prepare your spiritual body. That is Krsna consciousness, If you keep yourself in Krsna consciousness, then gradually you prepare your next body, a spiritual body, which will carry you immediately to Krsnaloka, and you will become happy. You will live there perpetually and blissfully.
O I am poor of heart;
My evil thoughts and deeds
But though I wander lost
Dear Prabhupada, you bring
Who else can show the way,
Your voice is filled with love
So I am Yours eternally,
Gross Body Defined
The spiritual body, which is our real identity, is covered by the gross body composed of earth, water, fire, air and ether, and by the subtle body composed of mind, intelligence and ego. Bones, flesh and muscle are composed mainly of water. Fire is the energy agent that aids in digestion and motivates the system to action. Air is the breath force supplying oxygen to the grosser elements, and ether is a more subtle form of air principally circulating in the brain to give vivacity to the mind functions. Combined, these comprise the gross body, which is the vehicle for action. The mind itself works the senses and makes them assert themselves in such and such a way. It also receives and retains impressions through the senses. The mind thinks, perceives and feels, and is the conjurer of desires. The intelligence is the controller of the mind and is the intellective force that can distinguish between matter and spirit. By the intelligence one has the ability to learn or understand from experience, reason, and discrimination. As one's intelligence develops, he progresses up the evolutionary scale. In the body, the intelligence is the monarch, and the mind is the viceroy serving as intermediary between the intelligence and the phenomenal world. Intelligence is more subtle than mind (it is more difficult to perceive materially), and more subtle than intelligence is ego. Ego is the self identity by which the individual distinguishes himself from others. It is the subtle substance on which experience is superimposed. In introspection it recognizes a series of acts and mental states which the gross body experiences It is the web of individuality uniting all other components. This ego is not merely an intellectual conception. It can be directly perceived. For example, in large crowds of people we do not lose our sense of self identity and confuse our body with the bodies of others. Also, in dreams, for instance, we often feel ourselves present as an individual distinct from other individuals in the dream. In fact, in some dreams we may inhabit different bodies but still retain that singular sense of "I," and yet in other dreams we may have no bodies at all but may simply be a presence witnessing action.
Transmigration Of The Subtle Body
As long as we do not attain liberation, we are covered by the gross body. At death the subtle body, composed of the mind, intelligence and ego, shuffles off the mortal coil composed of the grosser elements and carries impressions and proclivities into another gross body. "The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life, as the air carries aromas. Thus does he take one kind of body, and again quit it to take another." (Bg. 15.8) Therefore this rebirth is like a change of dress. Consciously the subtle body may forget its previous life in that it may forget particular actions, but nonetheless these actions determine the next body that is being assumed. Actually the impressions are always there, and in some rare cases, by the will and grace of the Divine, one can remember certain actions of his previous life, and the desires experienced in that life are carried over from body to body by the mind, intelligence and ego.
All of us have practical experience of how the subtle body extends and travels beyond the gross body. When we are sleeping, the subtle body can travel to places far distant and to times past or future, and when we are awake we may think of a friend or place and their images appear. How often does the school boy frolic at the seashore while sitting at his desk! Such daydreams are examples of the ability of the subtle body to travel beyond the gross body. In recent years millions of Americans have been enjoying traveling in their subtle bodies through the use of LSD and other psychedelic drugs. These serve as a catalyst to sever the subtle body from the gross body. They are enjoyable for one who takes them because the experiences encountered by the liberated subtle body while traveling are much more vivid and bizarre than daydreams. In such states one can experience the mental bliss of freedom and can soar to great heights of intellectual exhilaration. But these states are temporary. Although they seem to be eternal while one is in them, the subtle body comes down and returns to its original abode of pain.
Preparation Of Future Bodies
We are now utilizing a gross body, and when it becomes useless we will transfer to another body. We are now preparing our next body by our actions. Such preparation is called karma. We also can prepare to transfer our bodies to other planets if we so desire. The Vedas and other scriptures recommend certain pious activities, penances, sacrifices, etc., as means for transferral to higher planets. However, after the results of these pious activities are exhausted, the subtle body must return to a middle planet like the earth and acquire a gross body in order to aggrandize more good karma to become re-elevated. And so this cycle goes on. "Those who study the Vedas and drink the soma juice worship Me indirectly, seeking the heavenly planets. They take birth on the Indraloka where they enjoy godly delights. When they have thus enjoyed heavenly sense pleasure, they return to this mortal planet again. Thus, through the Vedic principles, they achieve only flickering happiness." (Bg. 9.20-21)
From the point of view of spiritual intelligence, such activities are useless. Like Indra, at one moment one may be a demigod, and at the next moment he may be a hog. This change of dress is very painful because in each case one has to endure the pains of birth, old age, disease and death. He has not only to bear the burdens of one body but of countless ones.
Transferral To The Spiritual Body
According to Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita, if one transfers himself to the planet where Krsna resides he does not have to take on another material body. "From the highest planet in the material world, down to the lowest, all are places of misery, where repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again." (Bg. 8.16) It is the duty of the individual to learn how to transfer himself to that spiritual sky where he will not be subject to rebirth. The real identity of the individual is beyond both the gross and subtle bodies. It is beyond the material universe, beyond the mind, intelligence and ego. It exists eternally in the spiritual sky. When all material hankerings are severed, one is able to regain his original pure uncontaminated form of consciousness which is his spiritual body full of sac-cid-ananda, eternal bliss, being and knowledge. It is by cultivating one's Krsna consciousness that the gross and subtle bodies can be transcended. Then one can enter the spiritual sky and there attain his true form.
Awakening From The Bondage Of Bodies
When the subtle body enters a gross body, he enters the abode of darkness. When we fall down a tunnel we can no longer see the light of day. So this gross body and the world perceived by it are considered to be darkness and ignorance by those who have Vedic knowledge, that is to say by those who remember their previous illuminated existence. The taking on of a gross body is also likened to falling asleep and dreaming. When one falls asleep he leaves his actual environment and travels to a land of make-believe which is full of insubstantialities. But when he awakes he is once again in his original environment. If his dream is pleasant he may yearn to dream again, but if it is horrible he may be glad to awake. In either case, the dreaming condition is temporary, and in no case would one want to permanently remain in that situation. Liberation is simply realizing that one is asleep and waking up.
One who wakes up enters the spiritual sky where there is no need for artificial illumination by sun or moon. There all the planets are self-luminous. The inhabitants are established in bliss and knowledge, and life is eternal.
Those who are caught in the dream of the gross body are suffering so many material miseries. Actually they don't want to grow old. They don't want to die. But all this is being forced upon them. They are not aware of their position outside of the dream. They institute universities in which they discuss phenomena within the dream, but in no way are they interested in a curriculum devoted to waking up.
Students study their dream subjects so hard and get very upset when they fail, but they are in no way concerned about a much more important subject which the university doesn't even offer. And so there are dream universities and dream instructors and dream courses and dream students and not a speck of reality on campus. There are science faculties in chemistry, biology, physics, botany, geology, astronomy, zoology and so on, but no department is teaching the science of God. Theology departments may be teaching the science of religion, but they are not teaching anyone how to leave his gross material body and pierce the tenfold coverings of the material universe and enter the self-luminous sky.
If one judges man from the point of view of the gross material body, he is not superior to the animals. In fact most animals are stronger, faster, more self-reliant and more capable of surviving in nature. Man's body may appear more aesthetic, but from the practical point of view it is not as useful as the gorilla's. However, man is superior, and he dominates because he has a more highly developed mind and intelligence that distinguish him from animal life. And it is by his mind and intelligence that he can understand what he is and inquire into the meaning of his existence. It is not that he is superior because he can use these faculties to exploit material nature for the glorification of his gross body. Any animal more or less can do that. He is superior because he can understand the transcendental science by which he can transfer himself out of the gross body into the spiritual sky.
The most systematic presentation of this transcendental science is given concisely in Bhagavad-gita, which is a preliminary study for self-realization. What is self-realization? Self-realization is realizing oneself apart from the body in one's constitutional nonmaterial position. One realizes this position by becoming conscious of the totality of existence and entering into a relationship with it. In the Bhagavad-gita this totality is called Krsna. In the Gita, Krsna is the ultimate person who contains everything and a lot more besides. "I am being and nonbeing and that which is beyond both," Krsna asserts.
In the Bhagavad-gita, Krsna sets forth a curriculum for the encaged soul. Three principal courses are offered: the course of action, the course of meditation and the course of devotion, respectively called karma-yoga, jnana-yoga and bhakti-yoga. These three sciences deal with the constitutional position of the self, and by studying them the student can learn how he is entangled in the material body, how he can become detached from the material body and where he can go after leaving it. These questions are asked by Arjuna, who is thinking in bodily terms, and answered by his professor Sri Krsna. In the very beginning of the course Sri Krsna teaches Arjuna that he is not that body. He informs him that the soul passes into another body at death just as it passes from boyhood to youth to old age while in the body. The man who knows his constitutional position apart from the body is not bewildered by such changes. Krsna then asserts the immutable eternality of the soul apart from the body, then exhorts Arjuna to perform action in a spirit of detachment and devotion. As the course progresses, Sri Krsna elaborates on the relationship between the individual finite soul and the Supersoul and sets forth various methods by which the finite can realize the Infinite. These methods of attainment involve action which is unattached, renunciation of material consciousness, cultivation of the knowledge of the soul and the Supersoul, meditation on the Supersoul through the control of bodily organs, realization of the opulence of the Absolute and of the nature of the Absolute, the function of the three modes of material nature, goodness, passion and ignorance, the qualities of men and their faiths, the perfection of renunciation and the transcendental process of devotional service. At the end of this discourse Arjuna is enlightened as to his position and course of action and decides to surrender to the will of that absolute person who instructed him.
Utopia Of The Materially Detached
If such a curriculum were offered in our universities, we would not have dream schools but real centers of knowledge. And our students would not emerge as automatons, hippies and fanatics, but as men like Arjuna, men who embody the highest qualities. Indeed they would emerge as demigods, for the Divine would be expressed through their thoughts and actions. They would be the bravest of men because they would know that the soul is there even after the destruction of the body, and knowing this, they would be magnanimous, for they would not be living under a bodily conception but a spiritual one. Because they would not identify with their bodies, they would not consider themselves Americans or Chinese or Germans or Russians. They would consider these as designations given to objects perceived in dreams, and they would feel compassionate toward those who are still dreaming and who are caught in the nightmare of duality. They would exist on the earth as the water lily on water. They would not be touched by one drop of material consciousness, and they would see all the men and women, all the towns and cities, all the nations and continents and planets and the vast universe itself as "solitude as egoless, as imageless, as the sky, as sunlight, as darkness, as a phantom, as a dream, as a flash of lightning, as a bubble." (Lord Buddha, Discourse on Prajna-paramita) Seeing everything material in this way, they would factually be situated in Krsna consciousness.
Buddhi means intelligence. It is by intelligence that I can understand that this body is not mine. I may say, "My hand, my head, my arm," but the use of the possessive pronoun indicates that these are my possessions and that I am situated apart from them. In order to understand the difference between the possessions and the individual who possesses them, we have to understand the difference between matter and spirit. This understanding should be the function of education. The etymology of the word "education" is significant here. It stems from the Latin word educere; e means out, and ducere means to lead, draw or bring. So education means to lead, draw or bring out The purpose of education should be to lead one out of the darkness of material consciousness, to draw the very best thing, which is spirit soul, out of its bodily encagement, and to bring it to the light of knowledge which is Krsna consciousness. This is real education, and this is the greatest service that can be rendered to the individual and the society. Education which is concerned with the gross body does not deserve the name education. It is merely a kind of folklore which teaches people how to decorate cadavers, how to nourish cadavers, and how to serve and worship cadavers. No wonder then that the universities are dead.
The whole curriculum of mankind can be enlivened by the propagation of the message of Bhagavad-gita. This great science of the soul can emancipate the entire race if it is introduced on a wide scale. Sri Krsna invites us: "Listen to My supreme word, which I shall impart to you for your benefit and which will give you great joy." Is there anyone who would refuse to listen?
Mr. Susskind: A particularly colorful group, often seen dancing and chanting in the major cities of this country—New York and Chicago and Detroit and Pittsburgh—is called the Hare Krsna movement. Because their names are extremely difficult to pronounce, I'm going to ask my guests to introduce themselves. What is your name?
Rupanuga: My name is Rupanuga. Anuga means follower, and Rupa Gosvami is a great acarya or spiritual teacher in our line. So it means I follow Rupa Gosvami.
Mr. Susskind: Right. And yes ma'am?
Kalindi: My name is Kalindi. It's one of Krsna's favonte rivers.
Mr. Susskind: Right.
Yogesvara: My name is Yogesvara dasa. That means that I'm the servant of Krsna, who is the master of all mystic powers.
Bharadraja: My name is Bharadraja dasa, and it's another name of the Supreme Lord, and I'm His servant.
Rukmini: My name is Rukmini.
Mr. Susskind: Rukmini.
Rukmini: I'm a servant of Krsna's wife, Rukmini.
Mangalamaya: My name is Mangalamaya dasa, and Mangalamaya means full of auspiciousness.
Jayadvaita: My name's Jayadvaita dasa. Jaya means victory, and Advaita is the devotee who requested the Supreme Lord to come to this world and spread this chanting.
Satsvarupa: My name is Satsvarupa dasa. That means God has an eternal form that doesn't die, and I'm His servant.
Yogamaya: My name is Yogamaya dasi. Yogamaya is the internal potency of Krsna. Krsna has different energies. The external potency is the inferior energy, and the internal is the superior energy, and that's yogamaya. And I'm the servant of this potency, of this energy.
Mr. Susskind: You're the servant of this potency?
Yogamaya: Yes. Krsna displays Himself in different energies, and everything on the absolute platform is equal. It's all absolute, and it's all actually spintual. So this is His spintual energy, yogamaya.
Mr. Susskind: Yes, sir.
Bhagavan: My name is Bhagavan dasa. Bhagavan refers to the fact that God is full of opulence, and dasa means servant.
Mr. Susskind: You're a servant of opulence.
Bhagavan: Servant of one who possesses all opulence.
Mr. Susskind: Right. Now, what instrument do you have there and for what purpose?
Bharadraja: This is called a harmonium, and this instrument is used in kirtana. Kirtana means joyous singing to glorify the Lord.
Mr. Susskind: Right. Let's see what that's like.
[Bharadraja leads an ecstatic five-minute kirtana—100 devotees singing and dancing—and ends with the shout "All glories to Srila Prabhupada!" Then the questions resume.]
Mr. Susskind: What is your movement all about? Are you Americans?
Rupanuga: Yes. Born here in the United States. Not all of us were born here in the United States, but most of us.
Mr. Susskind: And you had another religion once? You were Catholic or Protestant?
Mr. Susskind: What made you disillusioned about that religion? What made you come to Krsna?
Rupanuga: Because Krsna gives us a taste that satisfies us. It makes us happy chanting Hare Krsna.
Mr. Susskind: But what does it do in productive terms? I mean you sing and dance in the streets. To what purpose?
Rupanuga: To inform people, to remind people about the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna. In this age everyone is forgetful of God. It's a godless age, and people come into the material world in the first place to forget God.
Mr. Susskind: Couldn't you serve God by functioning, by growing crops, by doing something purposeful?
Kalindi: But we are doing something. The root of all problems—the lack of foodstuffs, the war and the strife and the hypocrisy that exist in the world today—is a lack of God consciousness. So simply if you cure the disease in Biafra, then you have a Pakistan. After you have a Pakistan you have something else. So therefore there's no cure—no material cure—to the problem. The cure is spintual.
Mr. Susskind: What do you stand for? I know you don't eat meat, fish or eggs. You don't gamble. You don't believe in sex, except on a very limited basis. You don't believe in intoxicants. You don't take tea or drugs or coffee. What does that add up to? What purposeful—what thing do you produce?
Bharadraja: It purifies us.
Mr. Susskind: But now you're purified—for what purpose?
Bharadraja: To love Krsna. Because Krsna is the supreme pure.
Mr. Susskind: Couldn't you love God as a Catholic or a Protestant or a Jew?
Bharadraja: Yes, you can.
Mr. Susskind: But why didn't you do it in those terms?
Bharadraja: I don't know. But Krsna has come, and this message of Krsna has come so pure that it is changing the faces of all the youth all over the world.
Mr. Susskind: How did Krsna's message come to you?
Bharadraja (pointing to a picture of Srila Prabhupada): My spiritual master.
Mr. Susskind: What were you doing when Krsna came to you?
Bharadraja: I was playing harmonica in a blues band. [laughter]
Mr. Susskind: And one night you were playing, and where did Krsna appear?
Bharadraja: I was playing at an opening of a temple. Because I wanted to do some good. We were doing everything for nothing. And so by chance I happened to play for an opening of the temple in Montreal.
Mr. Susskind: A Jewish temple?
Bharadraja: No. Radha-Krsna Temple, universal temple, a temple of love of God. They needed some money in order to help get the place going.
Mr. Susskind: At that time you were Protestant?
Mr. Susskind: What were you? Atheist?
Mr. Susskind: Atheist.
Bharadraja: And so I played, and they were chanting. They said, "Let's chant," and so we chanted.
Mr. Susskind: The way they chanted now?
Bharadraja: Just now, just like that.
Mr. Susskind: Something about that chant, and bliss began?
Bharadraja: I didn't know at the time, but it stayed with me—for two years.
Mr. Susskind: Why? I watched it, and it seemed like another form of revivalism or something.
Bharadraja: Well, we are reviving.
Yogesvara: Yes, that's a correct description, but it's not limited in its definition. When we chant Hare Krsna, this is not any kind of an artificial imposition on anyone. By nature we are all spiritual living beings. But because we've come in contact with material nature, therefore this original consciousness is covered, and as a result we're constantly engaged in waging a hard struggle for existence against this material nature. But that original, dormant Krsna or God consciousness can be revived by this chanting of Hare Krsna. This is the recommended means.
Mr. Susskind: Why? How?
Yogamaya: This chanting is spiritual sound, and because we're spiritual beings, it's attractive to our soul as well as to our ear.
Mr. Susskind: Do you feel euphoria?
Yogamaya: Oh, yes. It's called transcendental bliss or transcendental ecstasy.
Mr. Susskind: Were you in bliss? I was watching you.
Yogamaya: Yes. [happy laughter from the audience] This is a much higher ecstasy than any material pleasure that you can experience because it's ever increasing. It gets nicer all the time. As you chant Hare Krsna, the more you chant, the more you want to chant.
Mr. Susskind: Well, why is that ecstasy-producing?
Yogamaya: Because you're being put in direct association with God. God is actually present in His name. God incarnates in many, many different forms—millions of different forms. And this is the sound incarnation of God. God invests all of His energies in His name. He's nondifferent from His name. If we have names ... You're David ... If I call you David, you're different—your body is different from David the person. You're different from your name. But God is not different from His name. And He's not imperson. We don't call Him just "God." We call Him by His name. Just as we don't call you "man"—we call you David Susskind or Mr. Susskind. So we call God Krsna because that's His name. That's one of His names.
Mr. Susskind: Yet people have called Him Jesus, people have called Him Buddha, people have called Him Mohammed ...
Jayadvaita: We're saying that people should call Him.
Mangalamaya: He has millions of names.
Mr. Susskind: But why couldn't you call Him through the religions of your birth?
Jayadvaita: You can.
Mr. Susskind: But you didn't.
Jayadvaita: Right. Because no one's teaching us to do that.
Mr. Susskind: Didn't your father and mother teach you?
Mr. Susskind: Your priest?
Jayadvaita: No. But we're preaching that.
Mr. Susskind: Do any of you work?
Jayadvaita: Some of us, yes. We have people who are accountants, we have people who are electrical engineers.
Mr. Susskind: You go to work with this costume?
Jayadvaita: No, no. Most of us don't go to work. We go out chanting, and we go out preaching to people, "Please don't forget God. Remember God. Remember your relationship with God. Chant the name of God."
Bhagavan: That's an important part of the social body. Just like you have a body, there's also a social body. The head of that body is considered the priestly class of people, who instruct the others about offering everything back to God. That's a basic principle of one who is spiritual. He understands that nothing is his. As soon as you claim something is yours—whether it's your watch or your shoes ...
Mr. Susskind: How about your wife?
Bhagavan: Or your wife or your child ...
Mr. Susskind: Your wife is not yours?
Bhagavan: She is Krsna's. I am Krsna's, and you are Krsna's.
Mr. Susskind: Is your wife your wife?
Bhagavan: My wife is Krsna's.
Mr. Susskind: Is your child yours?
Bhagavan: Everything belongs to God. You can't substantiate your proprietary claim.
Mr. Susskind: Well then what is your relationship to your wife and child?
Bhagavan: We're all serving Krsna.
Mr. Susskind: What does that mean?
Yogesvara: It's one of love. But that love is not ill-founded. Krsna's at the center. Therefore that love endures. I think if you look at the statistics you'll find that most relationships terminate rather quickly, and even if they're prolonged, at most they can last until the end of one lifetime.
Rukmini: Actually, love is based on the spirit soul. When someone's lying dead, his mother's crying over him, "John is gone, John is gone! My boy is gone!"
So that means she's loving the spirit.
Yogesvara: The body's still there, but John is gone.
Mr. Susskind: Well, you marry. You do marry.
Rukmini (pointing to Bharadraja): We're married.
Mr. Susskind: So you did take one to the other.
Rukmini: But in Krsna consciousness.
Mr. Susskind: What does that mean?
Rukmini: That means that we married in order to better facilitate our serving Krsna.
Bhagavan: That is in everyone's interest.
Mr. Susskind: Did somebody ordain the marriage?
Bharadraja: Yes, our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
[The audience cheers, "Jaya! Jaya!" ("Victory! All glories!") in appreciation.
Bharadraja: The founder of this movement.
Mr. Susskind: His Holiness ordained your marriage. He called you and said, "I want you to marry this woman."
Bharadraja: Well ...
Rukmini: He said it would be a perfect marriage.
Mr. Susskind: How did he know? Had you ever met?
Bharadraja: We met just a little while before we were married.
Yogesvara: I think what we're trying to get at is this—that the marriages that are taking place in Krsna consciousness are not based on one's attraction for the other in terms of common interests or sex life or something like that.
Mr. Susskind: Shouldn't they be?
Yogesvara: Well, if you want it to be a short relationship, that's fine.
Rupanuga: Well, we're all eternal as it is, you see. We all are eternal living beings, spirit souls, and it's just a temporary body, so we don't marry for some temporary bodily relationship. We marry to help each other become more Krsna conscious, have more consciousness of God. And then when the body drops, that's just the beginning, actually. Because we can change from these bodies into another material body, or we can take a spiritual body. It's not difficult. It depends on what we want.
Yogesvara: If you really love somebody, you'll help them find out who they are.
Mr. Susskind to Kalindi: You will have a child when he [Rupanuga] "bids you to?
Rukmini: Well, Yogesvara made a very nice point just now—that if you really love someone, then you'll help him become really happy and find out who he is. Just like you asked at the beginning, "What do your parents think of this?" Well, my parents say they love me, so because they see that I'm becoming very happy, they're very pleased. Because they know that previously I wasn't.
Mr. Susskind: But could this be another phase that you're in?
Rukmini: It could be, but Rupanuga Prabhu has been chanting Hare Krsna for over four years. I've been chanting for three and a half years—so many devotees here for such a long time—and we're feeling rather than some decrease, rather than stagnation—we're feeling ever-increasing transcendental bliss. Ever-increasing bliss.
Satsvarupa: Please don't take us as a sect. This applies to everyone, these things we're talking about.
Mr. Susskind: Why do you paint this thing on the front?
Satsvarupa: Because this marks us as devotees of Krsna The whole thing is to remind our brothers and sisters, just as you are our brother: brotherly love is based on the fact that God is our father. We want to remind everyone of their relationship to the one God. So we're preachers. This dress, this marking, is all to remind you: "Oh, there goes a Krsna person." And then he has to think of his own relationship to Krsna or God.
Mr. Susskind: What is the tuft of hair? Each of you has a little ...
Satsvarupa: Yes. This is called a sikha. This is done for the pleasure of our spiritual master. It's the same thing. Spiritual markings to make one understand, "Here's a devotee, and I can ask him about my relationship with God." Because when one dresses like this it means that twenty-four hours he's serving Krsna and trying to spread this very nice consciousness.
Mr. Susskind: Aren't you over-dressing to explain yourselves to God? I mean, with the little thing of hair and the paint on the front ...
Satsvarupa: God? No, He knows very well.
Mr. Susskind: But doesn't the average civilian walking down the street reading the Daily News or the Chicago Tribune ...
Satsvarupa: He doesn't know about Krsna. What does he see in the Chicago Tribune? Birth, death, disease, old age. Then he looks up, and he sees a devotee, and there's Krsna. [Audience: "Jaya!"]
Mr. Susskind: Tell me, what's your day like? When do you get up in the morning?
Rukmini: Very early. I get up at three in the morning.
Mr. Susskind: Why?
Rukmini: Our spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, instructed us that that's the best time for self-realization.
Mr. Susskind: Three o'clock in the morning?
Bharadraja: Actually, happiness is to be awake. If you're asleep you're missing out on so many things.
Mr. Susskind: You get up at three o'clock in the morning. Right. And the whole city is dark. What do you do?
Bharadraja: We chant.
Kalindi: We chant Hare Krsna.
Mr. Susskind: At three o'clock in the morning you chant?
Rukmini: Yes. We have a ceremony called aratrika, which is worshiping the Lord. Aratrika means to receive the Lord. So we all chant at this aratrika ceremony and play nice instruments, like this harmonium and mrdanga (the drum you saw) and nice karatalas. It's very beautiful, very early in the morning.
Rupanuga: And we study. We study. We have very nice books, literatures, the Krsna Book, the Srimad-Bhagavatam. We study the pastimes of God. This is the specific contribution of our movement—that we are explaining to the world what God looks like, what He's doing, who His associates are, His clothes ...
Mr. Susskind: What does He look like? What does God look like?
Rupanuga: Here's Krsna here.
[Rupanuga brings forth a picture of Syamasundara, Krsna in His original form.]
Mr. Susskind: With lakes and ducks and ...
Yogamaya: That's the spiritual world. We have descriptions in our literature of the spiritual world.
Mr. Susskind: Right. And who are His associates? Animals and flowers and ... ?
Jayadvaita: All of His pure devotees.
Rupanuga: All of His pure devotees. He has a family. You see, everything in this material world is a reflection of the spiritual world. The Supreme Personality of Godhead has a mother, a father, He has a brother, friends, servants—everything that we see here is simply a reflection of that. That's why the love here in this material world is temporary. Actual love means without end. Continuous.
Mr. Susskind: Why do you have to get up at three in the morning to do your devotions?
Mangalamaya: Those hours are called the auspicious hours of the day. They're the best hours and the most conducive for spiritual realization.
Mr. Susskind: What time do you go to sleep?
Rupanuga: We don't even like to go to sleep. Some of the greatest spiritual masters in our line used to forget to go to sleep. They were so much in love with Krsna. They'd forget to eat sometimes. We're so busy in the material world trying to sleep—we think sleep is a recreation. But we think sleeping is death. We want to be awake, wide awake and conscious of Krsna all the time.
Yogesvara: Therefore this chanting in the street. People are asleep, and we're trying to wake them up.
Mr. Susskind: Do you have any desires?
Rupanuga: Yes. Our desires are always fulfilled. Because our desires are fulfilled by Krsna directly, not indirectly. We don't want that indirect relationship with God—we want to be fully conscious of God and serve Him.
Mr. Susskind: Did God in any way say don't eat fish, don't eat meat?
Jayadvaita: It's there in the scriptures.
Kalindi: Jesus Christ said, "Thou shalt not kill." That was one of his commandments. We have said,"We shouldn't kill people." But why should we kill animals?
Bhagavan: Just like if you had a nice plate like this and a cow here, what would you do? Would you kill the cow or would you eat that food?
Mr. Susskind: Oh, I'd go right for the cow.
Rupanuga: For the milk, hopefully. You don't have to kill the cow to take the milk. Why cause the animal pain? Do you have to chop a tree down to get the apple? No. You can take the fruit that God has provided. He's providing this light even. He's providing everything.
Mr. Susskind: No. No, that's Consolidated Edison.
Jayadvaita: But where do they get it?
Rupanuga: It's coming from the sun. The sun's coming from Krsna. It's all coming from Krsna. Everything is emanating from Krsna. So all we're doing ... One little trick we've learned to be happy: that we accept, joyfully we accept, because it's Krsna's mercy. But we give back. Because it's His.
Yogesvara: That's a very interesting example that you just gave when you said that this light is coming from Con Edison. That's the point of this movement—to change the vision that people have from one of material consciousness, or consciousness of simply what their senses are dictating to them, to one which is tempered by knowledge coming down through the line of teachers, of spiritual masters.
Mr. Susskind: I did that research about your movement, and it said that after you got permission to marry, you do in fact marry, and there's a kind of lovely ceremony that goes on. Then you don't need permission to have children, but your sexual activities are pre-ordained by this Krsna consciousness.
Rupanuga: It's called family planning. We plan to have children, not to avoid having children. We want to have children so that we can raise them in Krsna's service.
Mr. Susskind: But when you have children you have to precede it by five hours of chanting?
Rupanuga: We're always chanting. Like today, we preceded the show by several hours of chanting before we came here.
Mr. Susskind: But five hours of singing ...
Jayadvaita: Not singing. On beads. You can chant any way. There are no hard and fast rules for chanting. But by chanting for that time, what are you thinking of? Krsna, Krsna, Krsna.
Mr. Susskind: Shouldn't you be thinking of Miriam, Miriam, Miriam?
Bhagavan: It's not that chanting is labor.
Mr. Susskind: Does Miriam or Martha ever take over from Krsna?
Rupanuga: Wait, wait, let's talk about Miriam for a second. Everybody in the world is very much after sex life because sex life is the highest pleasure in the material world.
Mr. Susskind: Well, it's a contender.
Rupanuga: Until we get too old. It's a very nice pleasure. Now, the thing is that everyone has plenty of that. Everyone has plenty of sex life, yet no one's happy.
Mr. Susskind: Wait a minute. You can't make categorical statements like that.
Rupanuga: All right, then what is happiness?
Mr. Susskind: What do you mean no one's happy?
Rupanuga: What is happiness?
Mr. Susskind: Happiness is a condition of fulfillment or self-realization or pleasure, a feeling ...
Satsvarupa: That never ends.
Mr. Susskind: ... of happiness, of ecstasy ...
Rupanuga: But no come down.
Mr. Susskind: Oh, sure you come down from that.
Rupanuga: Oh, no.
Whole panel: No, no.
Jayadvaita: That's not happiness.
Yogesvara: Happiness is eternal.
Rupanuga: That's because it's a different high. We're talking about a spiritual high. You should stay high forever, but you just must chant.
Mr. Susskind: Does your wife never say, "Knock off the chanting and love me?"
Rupanuga: She says, "Chant if you love me."
Mr. Susskind: Chant if you love me. Right. Is there a limit on the family that you can have? Can you have as many children as you want?
Satsvarupa: The limit is that no one should have a child unless he can raise the child to be free from death. We're all heading for death. Maybe in a moment or maybe ten years. But if you can raise your children and yourself to be free of death—this is actually possible by love of God.
Mr. Susskind: All right. Now the people are crossing the streets in Chicago, in Pittsburgh, Detroit, L.A., San Francisco, and they see you. What would you like them to think? Because they think it's a very strange sight. I mean I've passed you in New York and wondered, "What the devil are they doing?"
Rupanuga: Well, we want them to stop speculating on us and ask us what we're doing. That's our whole business.
Mr. Susskind: And then they say, maybe you're cop-outs.
Rupanuga: But we're actually not. We're drop-ins. We're back in! We're really in. This Hare Krsna movement is the in thing [laughter], and we're simply asking that every intelligent person take a look at what we're saying. Not that they say, "Oh, they're chanting Hare Krsna." But what's behind it?
Madhupuri devi dasi
Once the world had great disturbance
Much aggrieved by such confusion,
Weeping to invoke the Lord's compassion,
Brahma hastened to the milk-white ocean
Arriving at the ocean shoreline,
From the Supreme Personality of Godhead
The message imparted by Lord Visnu
Thus spoke the father of all prajapatis
Now the pious King Surasena
Vasudeva, son of King Surasena,
400 elephants adorned with golden garlands,
Thus the dowry of Devaki
Kamsa, descendant of the the Bhoja dynasty,
In the midst of such rejoicing
"You are driving the chariot of Vasudeva
In great rage Kamsa drew his sword
Vasudeva was rightly astonished,
"Dear Kamsa, you are a most famous king.
"Death and birth are born together—
"The living entity is conditioned
"When the mind is speculative
"So the material nature,
"Luminaries are sometimes reflected
"Similarly, because of illusion,
Thus spoke Vasudeva to Kamsa
Vasudeva gave good instruction
A demon never cares for good instruction.
Thus the difference between demigod and demon
Vasudeva thought as follows:
Vasudeva then spoke again to Kamsa
"My dear brother-in-law, please consider
"But the prophecy has spoken only
"But I give my word of honor:
When Devaki gave birth to children,
For a great soul like Vasudeva
Then to the faithless Kamsa
Narada informed Kamsa that everyone
He imprisoned Vasudeva and Devaki,
I graduated from Brooklyn College in 1961, spent two years on an aircraft carrier in the Navy, and subsequently returned to the New York City's Lower East Side and its LSD, marijuana and "free" sex. When I ran out of money I took a job as a social worker. However, such vague descriptions of my life are of little value because they neglect the inner self. My inner self was very much present and used to wonder, "Who am I?" but I had no guidance in finding out. Certainly my parents could not guide me; they were interested only in external matters: television, good grades, and a successful job and family. My teachers and professors were not willing to sit down and talk with me—and even if they were willing to do so, they had no understanding of what life was all about. So I took solace in friends who were bound together by their rejection of life.
The latter experiences are not very outstanding or unusual. What is significant is that somehow I got out of the disillusionment by which they were symptomized. I found someone who knew the path of satisfaction, and he was able to show me real peace and happiness—a hope of eternal life. How I found these treasures of life and how I rid myself of the uncomfortable task of trying to live honestly in a false world is of the greatest value to tell. This resurgence of life will be explained by first telling you about the guide, the spiritual master. When one thinks of the guru, the mind immediately conjures up pictures of bogus teachers who mystify and hypnotize our honesty and fill us with the unreality of pseudo-yoga, who take our money, encourage us to escape into meditation, and who preach renunciation of personal life. "Personal life is unreal; it's alien and unloving." But so are they, these false rascals, and so I rejected them too. But I want to talk of the real guide, the pure devotee of God who showers unlimited love and mercy upon all living entities because he is the dearmost representative of God. The Lord states in the scriptures: "The spiritual master is to be worshiped as My very Self." This is the version of all revealed scriptures. Do you doubt the existence of a person, who can impart the knowledge of the science of God realization pursuant to love of God? I have met him, and hundreds of others have also.
In 1966 I stumbled into twenty-six Second Avenue, New York City, where, at the time, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada held classes in bhakti-yoga and chanted the transcendental sound vibration Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The boys chanted, and Srila Prabhupada sat on a straw mat leading. I was swept up into praise of the Lord by this song, which wipes all the dust from the mind. It is true that the mahamantra is the great chant for deliverance because the mantra reveals one to be the deathless loving servant of God by nature. Doubts still plague the mind. The prejudices and the countless births and deaths that we have gone through are all so painful. If we only realized this and surrendered unto Krsna, the eternal God, then relief would be assured, and even in this lifetime we would always relish nectar by singing His praises.
The first night I heard that song of God, I took it home. Although I was still indulging in the inebrieties of Lower East Side life and was still without hope beyond death, things were different. I did not want to fool myself into believing that everything was now blissful because of my chanting Hare Krsna in that little storefront—but nevertheless the song of Hare Krsna was not an unhappy addition to my consciousness. To remember it during the day, while in the office, was like the coming of spring after the long winter. I looked forward to going back to chant with Srila Prabhupada and the boys who gathered there. I sat at my desk as a social worker, answering phone calls, writing out checks for welfare clients, listening to the advice of my boss and to office jokes, and then I recalled Srila Prabhupada's talking. I recalled him saying, "How can there be any progress as long as the scientists, technologists, reformers and politicians cannot find a solution to these four things—birth, death, disease and old age?" He proposed that there was an actual solution to birth, death, disease, and old age and that until we had it we could not claim to be happy or progressing. How could one be happy amidst such disadvantages? He told the story of a person in a hospital who was visited by a friend. The patient was sick in bed, unable to move. He was being fed intravenously, and his body stank. He had to urinate in a bed pan, and the nurses had to aid him in moving. Yet when a friend came and asked him, "How are you?" he answered, "I'm all right." But what kind of all right is that? He is in an abominable state, unable even to move, and is surrounded by bad smells, yet he says that he is all right! Similarly, under the spell of illusion, a person in material life, although suffering, says that everything is all right and that he is happy, although in fact he is suffering in so many ways.
Srila Prabhupada said that the solution to all suffering is Lord Krsna. Who is Krsna? Krsna is God, the supreme controller, who does everything so expertly that it seems to happen automatically. Every autumn Krsna changes all the leaves to gold within a few days; if a painter were to attempt the same thing, it would take months. Krsna also directs the movements of the planets and galaxies and holds up the sun in a corner of the sky. The atheists foolishly claim that God is dead, yet the whole universe is God's body. So how can He be dead if His body is working and moving so nicely? Srila Prabhupada also said that our real self, each of us, is a spiritual spark of the same quality as the spiritual whole, Krsna, and that to engage in loving service to the spiritual whole is the natural, blissful, constitutional occupation of each living entity.
Srila Prabhupada gave me typing tasks, typing up his manuscripts for publication. I understood this typing to be yoga (linking with God), and so I sat at the typewriter hour after hour, meditating and working. After attending classes, I decided that I could no longer keep my job, which entailed being eight hours a day away from the association of Srila Prabhupada. The other boys, who had no jobs, could see him all day. They would sit around him in his clean, sunny apartment while he talked about Krsna, the most relishable Supreme Personality of Godhead. He asked them to help him spread this love of Krsna, God, and together they made plans. I wanted to join and renounce the material world with its birth, death, disease and old age. I filled out my resignation, and I gave notice that in two weeks I would leave in order to study with my spiritual master. During my lunch hour I ran to see Srila Prabhupada. He was seated on his sleeping mat behind a small desk, and the boys were gathered around him, asking questions and listening. "Actually, this Krsna consciousness," he said, "is the highest service to mankind, but they take it to be some sentimental religion, mere singing and dancing."
"I want to quit my job," I told him.
"Oh? Why is that? You are offering such nice service."
"But I want to come daily and be part of the camp. I want to learn Krsna consciousness."
Seeing my predicament, the boys present said that they would take jobs and let me spend more time listening to the spiritual master. They suggested alternating their employment. But Srila Prabhupada kept my attention and told me a story. He told me that there was once a faithful wife who had an ugly husband with a morose disposition. One day his wife asked, "Why are you morose? I do anything you want, and still you feel morose. Why is that?" "I wish to have sex with a certain prostitute," he admitted, "but she costs thousands of dollars just for a night, and I cannot afford her." The faithful wife said to him, "Don't worry. I shall arrange it." She immediately went to the prostitute's house and began to personally attend her, cleaning her room and performing other such services. When the prostitute came and noticed her activity, the faithful wife explained, "My husband desires to enjoy you, and I hope that you will take my services as payment, so that he might spend a night with you." The prostitute laughed, "Don't you realize that I cost ten thousand dollars a night? How can you ever raise the money?"
So in addition to serving the prostitute, the wife herself turned to prostitution and eventually raised the required amount of money. She returned to her husband and said, "All right You can go to that prostitute now," and he went at once.
Srila Prabhupada said that although people may say that the wife was crazy and immoral, nevertheless she was unquestionably faithful. He asked me to keep my job, even though the association was abominably boring and kept me away from him all day, and said that by contributing the earnings from my job, I was rendering the best service possible. I reported back to my office and told them that I had changed my mind and would keep the job That afternoon, visiting clients on my job, I walked through the streets in the bliss of responsibility. I felt deeply entrusted with a duty from my father, my spiritual master, and to discharge it faithfully was my eternal duty Due to his words I could work at my ordinary civil service job with a firm sense of eternal life because it was God's work, as confirmed by the spiritual master.
Morning classes at the storefront temple were at 6 a.m. The devotees began with the chanting of Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The chanting was followed by a talk about Krsna's pastimes and about Lord Caitanya, the most liberal and munificent incarnation of Krsna. I used to go to work chanting on my beads, with the words of the Absolute Truth in my ears and the vision of the spiritual master's holy form fresh in my mind's eye.
Very easily I took to the four regulative principles. As I engaged more in Krsna consciousness, I no longer hankered after intoxicants or illicit sex. Daily at noon, I would leave the office and hurry to the temple for prasadam. Srila Prabhupada would be in his upstairs room with the boys gathered. The food would be placed in open pots before a small table. This table served as his altar and displayed a picture of Lord Caitanya and His eternal associates. It was decorated with vases of flowers. Srila Prabhupada would suddenly bow all the way down to the floor, onto his hands and knees, and we would all follow suit. We repeated the following prayer after him and thus offered the foodstuffs to Krsna, who accepts the offering made by His pure devotee:
This material body is a lump of ignorance, and the senses are networks of paths unto death. We have fallen into the ocean of material sense enjoyment, and of all the senses the tongue is the most voracious and difficult to control. It is very difficult to conquer over the tongue in this world, but Krsna is very kind to us. He has sent us this nice prasadam to control the tongue. Now let us take this prasadam to our full satisfaction and glorify Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha and Krsna and in love call for Lord Caitanya and Nityananda to help us.
Food offered to Krsna is called prasadam. Eating this food gives spiritual strength. Usually on a weekday we took dahl, rice and chapatis, and it was always very, very delicious. Chapatis looked like pancakes, but they were made simply with whole wheat and water, with a little salt and butter. Dahl is spiced soup, made with split peas. Srila Prabhupada encouraged us to "take more," including rice, always seasoned with turmeric, and vegetables. The foodstuff was always honored as being nondifferent from Krsna Himself.
My existence was becoming rarefied, and yet it was practical. Just by my eating prasadam and working in the office with the knowledge that my paycheck would support the temple, and by my chanting and hearing the lectures, all the filth and wolf-like viciousness in my heart was being cleansed away. I didn't need a certificate to tell me that I was enrolled in Krsna consciousness. Just as a hungry man feels satisfied when eating and doesn't have to be told, so I knew the change taking place. It cleansed me and refreshed my whole being and engaged me in work of consequence. It revived my whole person.
Weeks went by, and as I heard and chanted, my desire for hearing and chanting increased. One of the boys attending the classes painted a picture of Radha and Krsna. Radharani is the girl always seen with Krsna, and She is His greatest eternal devotee, who teaches us how to love Krsna. She can help us to reach Him through pure affection or transcendental loving service. Chanting on beads, fingering each bead while saying the mantra aloud, brought concentration to hearing and touching, while looking at the picture of Radha and Krsna brought concentration to seeing. Having all the senses thus totally engaged brought me into blissful meditation upon Krsna. Srila Prabhupada emphasized that just by adding the Hare Krsna mantra to his life, anyone can feel this purification in mind and spirit, without renouncing his job, family or way of life. This chanting is recommended by the Vedic scriptures and by the incarnation of Krsna, Lord Caitanya, who appeared 500 years ago and from whom Srila Prabhupada descends in a line of successive disciples or spiritual masters. "Just try chanting," he said. "If you are a businessman, remain a businessman; if you are a doctor, remain a doctor; if you are a student, housewife, etc., remain in your station. But try chanting Hare Krsna as a regular daily function and reading Bhagavad-gita As It Is. These will help anyone realize the fulfillment of real pleasure and eventually achieve the purpose of life, which is to love God."
After several months, Srila Prabhupada announced that he would hold initiations, which would make us his disciples in Krsna consciousness and connect us with the disciplic succession. I personally did not feel I was ready for such a commitment, and so on the day that initiations were held I stayed at home and instead dutifully performed the task of typing essays for Srila Prabhupada. The next day I brought two completed essays to his apartment. I knocked on his door. He opened it to let me in: "You didn't come yesterday for initiation?"
"No," I said.
"That's all right," he said kindly, and let me inside. When he sat down at his mat, I then placed before him the two essays, and he thanked me. He then invited me to a wedding of two of his disciples that was to be held the following night. I was very happy that he had personally made sure that I would attend. He gave me more manuscripts for typing, and I began to take my leave. Srila Prabhupada walked me to the door of his apartment and then said, "This is not automatic, not simply taking this work and doing it mechanically." I knew what he meant. Then he said "If you love me, then I'll love you." I cannot remember if I said anything in reply, but I left him and ran down the stairs and onto the street. I was so happy! Why? Just because he had said, "You love me, and I'll love you." I realized that he loved me, just as Krsna loves everyone. We rot and sulk in this material world, maneuvering to become God. But, if we are willing to have personal exchange with Krsna through His representative, the spiritual master, then we will feel released from stoneheartedness, the dried-up joylessness, false ego and hallucinations of grandeur. In short, we get relief by being loved. To be loved is only half of the exchange. Srila Prabhupada is certainly loving us now, still, freely giving us prasadam, giving us Krsna philosophy, chanting and dancing. As persons, we can also give love. When the love is felt, it can overcome the entire material universe in a second. From that moment on, my desire to take to Krsna consciousness greatly increased; I was determined not to let anything hinder me from engaging in transcendental loving service for the pleasure of my spiritual master.
The bona fide spiritual master is coming from God. We must have a little initial faith in this process. Srila Prabhupada has all the credentials of the spiritual master. This can be seen by the example he sets. He is called, in the Sanskrit language, acarya. An acarya is one who teaches by example. So his good example was apparent in those first days and has endured to spread Krsna consciousness throughout the world. This process of bhakti-yoga, devotional service to God, is distributed through his literature, his words and his actions. One will always find him talking about Krsna, and what he says is in complete accordance with scripture. Krsna says, "Surrender to Me," and the pure devotee says the same thing "Surrender to Krsna." The spiritual master is fixed in love of God. Every Sunday in Tompkins Square Park he chanted with us for one and a half hours, and after a break, we chanted for another hour and a half, while he played the drum. He talked to everyone and anyone—cab drivers, priests, newsmen, politicians, children—about Krsna, and he handled their questions with grave concern. One night I bought him mangos, and he accepted one from my hand before a roomful of his students. He said, "Very good boy!" in a humorous way, treating me like a four-year-old boy, which gave those assembled a good laugh. But then he said seriously, "No. This is a token of love. This is Krsna consciousness." And he praised me for my meager efforts at donating money and typing. In this way I entered into the nectar of devotion, the ocean of bliss. My spiritual master assured me from the beginning that Krsna was blessing me in my personal efforts to serve Him through the spiritual master, and I never doubted it. I was undergoing a change in heart, from a self-centered imitation god to an agent of God working under the direction of a master.
At the next opportunity, which was on the appearance day of Radharani in 1966, I was accepted by Srila Prabhupada as his disciple. He chanted on my beads and asked me to always chant Hare Krsna, and I bowed down and repeated, nama om visnu-padaya krsna presthaya bhutale / srimate bhaktivedanta svamin iti namine. "I offer my respectful obeisances to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is very dear to Lord Krsna, having taken shelter at His lotus feet." "Your name," he said, "is Satsvarupa dasa Brahmacari."
Later, in a lecture, he described the significance of initiation. "Lord Caitanya asked His disciple Rupa Gosvami to go to Vrndavana to preach and sustain His mission. This is disciplic succession. Not that one thinks, 'I have understood everything from my spiritual master; let me now sit tight.' That is also nice, but no. Lord Caitanya's mission is to spread the teaching ... It is your duty. When a disciple receives instruction from the spiritual master, he has an obligation to the spiritual master to do the same. After being instructed, the disciple will offer, 'My dear master, what can I do for you?' I am indebted to my spiritual master for the knowledge that was given to me; therefore, I must serve him." When I heard this, I was astounded. In Krsna consciousness the spiritual master is always revealing new knowledge about the nature of devotional service. Just when one thinks himself sufficiently engaged in the Lord's service, the spiritual master reveals how to serve infinitely more in an entirely new capacity. One wonders, "How can I do that much? How can I surrender to Krsna? What will happen to me? How can I expand my personality to meet this task?" But Srila Prabhupada says, "All it takes is sincerity. Simply follow the instructions and be humble."
This science of God can be taken personally and applied to anyone's life. The householder can make a little altar with pictures of Krsna, and without interruption to family life, all can become Krsna conscious. Indeed, without God consciousness one cannot be a qualified family man. In the same way, the student can extend his sincere desire to learn beyond good grades. He can read scriptures and their commentaries by transcendental scholars on the nature of the Absolute Truth, and he can introduce it into his classes. A big businessman can chant to relieve tension and donate his earnings to become a life member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. The offer of reciprocation or exchange can be taken up by anyone who preaches Krsna consciousness at every opportunity, such as with friends and colleagues.
The essence of this philosophy will hold true in any time or place because the Truth revealed is absolute. Questions such as what is the self, what is God and what is the purpose of life, as well as how to become happy, are answered. It is beyond the sectarian religious designations, such as Christian, Hindu, Jew, etc. It is for everyone, regardless of sect. What I have related is not a fleeting encounter. It is the description of my second birth. The first birth occurs when one is born of his mother and father. But a second birth is required for complete happiness and fulfillment. The second birth occurs when one accepts a spiritual master and begins his eternal occupation as a servant of God. Such a renewal of energy, the rebirth of transcendental loving service, awaits every one of us. You can have this highest love just by chanting Hare Krsna.
Srila Prabhupada answers question on the science of Krsna
Asking questions of a bona fide spiritual master is an important part of bhakti-yoga. It is stated in Bhagavad-gita, "Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth." The following questions and answers were recorded during actual class sessions taught by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada at various centers of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
Question: How long does it take to attain Krsna consciousness?
Srila Prabhupada: A second. You simply have to agree.
Question: Do you become conscious of everything?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, because Krsna is everything. For example, if you are in touch with the main powerhouse of electricity in New York City, then you are in touch with all the lights everywhere in the city.
Question: But how can you attain it in one second?
Srila Prabhupada: It is simply a matter of surrender. If you accept the process, it begins immediately. It is like a creeper; as soon as you sow the seed, it begins to grow. The watering of the seed is hearing, and gradually the creeper fructifies. It begins as soon as you accept it.
Question: That is the start, but that's not Krsna consciousness, is it?
Srila Prabhupada: That is Krsna consciousness. It simply has to develop. Immediately after sexual intercourse the child is the size of a pea, but that is actually a child. The beginning is there. Surrender, that's all. It is not a material process—it is spiritual. It involves no impediments of material conditioning. It develops in proportion to one's seriousness; we can attain the whole thing in one second. King Katvanga went to assist the demigods, and he was rewarded. When asked what he wanted, he replied, "I want to know how long I shall live." "Not very long," they said. "A second." He at once transferred his thoughts to Krsna and surrendered. If we sincerely take Krsna consciousness, we have it.
Question: Does one need a spiritual master to become Krsna conscious?
Srila Prabhupada: Unless we go to a spiritual master, how can we understand?
Question: Just by chanting?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Chanting will help us—it is from the source—but if we take guidance it is more helpful. Why should we deny help if we are serious about the goal?
Question: What is the focal point of this religion?
Srila Prabhupada: This is not religion; this is philosophy.
Question: Philosophy? Like metaphysics?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, the first principle of metaphysics is that we are not this body.
Question: Isn't it a little bit like Catholicism?
Srila Prabhupada: Not just Catholicism, but all religions: Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Mohammedan. The first principle of all religions is that we are not this body.
Question: Does Krsna take the spirit and leave the material when you offer Him food?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, He takes the spirit.
Question: And leaves the matter? What is left?
Srila Prabhupada: Everything is spirit. He doesn't take matter, He doesn't leave matter. The devotee prays over the food, and it becomes spiritualized. It is practical. Eat this spiritual food, and you'll get spiritual strength.
Question: What is the duty of a person who does not believe in the scriptures?
Srila Prabhupada: His duty is to go to hell.
Question: How can it be changed for him?
Srila Prabhupada: By coming here and chanting Hare Krsna.
Question: What can you do if they don't come?
Srila Prabhupada: What can you do? One must be willing. If we won't take medicine, we can't be cured. Material disease is thinking, "I am everything. I am perfect. Whatever I think is all right." That is disease. Lord Caitanya said, "My spiritual master taught that I'm a great fool." Think like that, humbly, and study scripture from a bona fide spiritual master.
Question: If we become servants of Krsna, will He provide our physical needs?
Srila Prabhupada: It is not a question of whether we "become" servants of Krsna—we already are. For example, a citizen of the United States is already under obligation to the government; it is his madness to think that he is not. We are already servants of God, but we declare, "I am not a servant of God; I am a servant of dog." All our needs are supplied as servants of dog—do you not think that God will supply the necessities of servants of God? Why do you think like that? If we are sincere, God will supply our every need. We must believe that Krsna is our master. He is supplying everything, but He cannot be our order supplier. Those who go to God for sense enjoyment become frustrated and say there is no God if they do not get everything for their senses. But we are meant for satisfying God's senses. The impersonalist philosophers say He has no senses, and therefore they think, "I don't have to supply anything to God," but that is nonsense. Only in the perfectional stage of Krsna consciousness does Krsna become dependent on His devotee and say, "My dear father, will you give Me something to eat?" That is the platform of pure love of God By such love everything is possible.
Our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and his disciples of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, acknowledge the loss to our movement, within recent months, of two prominent disciples, Ramanjana dasa Adhikari and Jananivasa dasa Brahmacari, and of an uninitiated Krsna conscious devotee, Will Mills.
Of course, the passing away of a devotee engaged in devotional service is not comparable to the passing away of someone engaged in ordinary affairs. We can understand from Bhagavad-gita that even if he has not reached the perfectional stage of Krsna consciousness, a devotee is still in an advantageous position at the time of death. If he is advanced on the spiritual path, he will go to Krsna, and if he is not so advanced, he will take an auspicious birth in a family of wealthy aristocrats or devotees and thus have the opportunity to continue developing his Krsna consciousness in the next lifetime.
Ramanjana dasa, who received his education at Georgia University and later accepted a post as Professor of Anthropology at the Oregon College of Education, met His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada in January of 1971, was initiated in August of that year, and engaged as a devotee in the Hare Krsna movement until his untimely death. He was killed in an automobile accident.
Jananivasa dasa, who was initiated on August 19, 1969, was President of the Columbus, Ohio, center of ISKCON and a contributor to Back to Godhead. He and a devotee companion, Will Mills, an uninitiated disciple, were killed in an automobile accident. Srila Prabhupada commented, "On one side we have to be very sorry if our dear friends are taken from this world, but on the other we should be satisfied, for a pure devotee is never lost."
Ecologists, economists, sociologists, etc., are greatly concerned with the population explosion, for they hypothesize that as the population continues to increase by leaps and bounds, the eventual result will be insufficient natural resources for the minimum needs of society. Some countries of the world appear to have already been overtaken by this problem, and for other more prosperous nations the problem, although still theoretical, is a cause of serious concern.
Although the general sociological and ecological approach is to examine the problem of increasing population and decreasing resources from the quantitative angle, the Vedic analysis—which presents important ideas which should be seriously considered by modern social planners—stresses the qualitative aspect of the problem. Regardless of census figures, it's the quality of the population that is important.
The idea that the earth is unable to provide sufficient resources to keep up with an increasing world population fails to give proper credit to the laws of nature. By nature's laws there is already sufficient food and shelter provided for all creatures. The ant eats merely a few grains in a day, whereas an elephant may consume hundreds of pounds to maintain itself. Who is providing for them? There is no government agency required for the maintenance and sustenance of these creatures—or any others—for their needs are automatically fulfilled by the wonderfully complex and efficient laws of nature.
Similarly, there is sufficient food allotted by nature to feed every human being also. If the population of certain countries is starving, it is not due to any lack of supply on the part of nature, but to gross mismanagement by the leaders of the nations of the world. For the sake of maintaining a particular economic standard, the United States government disposes of tons of foodstuffs daily, which are badly needed by the starving population of other countries. But, the government authorities argue, if these measures were not taken, it would be the Americans who would suffer economic decline and consequent starvation. Thus there is a merry-go-round of economic jugglery and economic entanglement for the sake of insuring the basic necessities which for animals are automatically provided by nature without complicated governmental intervention.
The problem is a matter of lack of knowledge. If one understands the laws of nature and lives in harmony with these laws, he can live simply and peacefully—or opulently and peacefully—without much difficulty. But if one tries to exploit the laws of nature without proper knowledge of how these laws are acting, the result is that he becomes increasingly entangled in nature's complexities, and suffering for himself and his community is the inevitable result.
The first principle of understanding nature is to understand that there is a force behind nature by which she is controlled. The material scientists postulate different evolutionary theories to explain the complex laws of universal harmony. These theories, however, are constantly changing, and therefore they must be considered unreliable. They are merely wonderful concoctions to avoid the obvious conclusion: nature is controlled by a superior intelligence—God.
Reliance on the limited reasoning power of the brains of material science results only in confusion and complication, for one speculator never fully agrees with another. If, however, one accepts the simple explanation which stares us in the face—that nature displays an intelligent order because it is controlled by an intelligent person—then the laws of nature are easy to understand. If everything is created by God, then everything belongs to God, and therefore everything should be used according to His laws.
The Vedic literature confirms this supposition as a basic fact of nature. Among all the living beings, there is one supreme eternal living being who provides the necessities of the others. This can be observed by anyone in his practical daily life. We are living by the grace of the sun, the water, the air, etc., none of which are provided by government agencies or scientific research teams. They are all provided by the Supreme Lord, and therefore they are all the property of the Lord and are to be used according to His injunctions.
The truth of God's existence is accepted by Krsna conscious analysts as axiomatic. For those who wish logical evidence and proof, there is ample explanation in the literature of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, which is both reasonable and convincing, but space does not allow for exposition of this theme here, nor is this our purpose. For the purpose of understanding the Vedic system of social planning, it is expedient to at least theoretically accept the existence of God as an axiomatic fact.
If we accept that there is God, then we are like citizens in a beautiful garden in a public park. Anyone is free to enjoy the natural beauty of a public park, but if one disobeys the laws of the Parks Department, which are very liberal and are meant for the benefit of all the citizens, then his privileges are revoked, and he is punished by the laws of the state. Thus misuse of independence results in misfortune.
Similarly, as human beings we all have independence. We are free to act as we choose. But there are two kinds of citizens—those who are law-abiding and those who are outlaws, who defy the authority of God. The duty of the God conscious person is clear—to live a simple life of plain living and high thinking, taking whatever he needs to live in health and happiness, and devote his essential energy to the development of God realization. This is the purpose of the laws of nature. There is sufficient provision by nature for all human beings to live in this simple and uncomplicated manner and develop God consciousness, but those who are against God consciousness create a disturbance in the laws of nature and thus cause suffering for themselves and others.
The basic problem of the population explosion is not that there are too many people, but that there are too many outlaws. As already pointed out, material nature is sufficiently opulent to provide whatever is needed for the maintenance of all living beings who are placed under her charge. But, on the other hand, she is also capable of withholding her resources from those who break her stringent laws by trying to take more than they need.
If we understand the purpose of nature and the laws of nature, we can easily live in harmony with nature in a world of peace and prosperity. But if we are ignorant of nature's laws and purpose, we will simply create chaos. Modern civilization has created worldwide chaos only because of ignorance of the laws of nature or the laws of God, which are very simple but which have to be understood, with all reasoning and logic, from a properly informed spiritual source. The basic principles of God consciousness—agreed upon by members of all religions and sects—is that God is the Supreme Person, we are all His servants, and the resources of nature are all His property. It is very simple and clear.
We are all boastful of our so-called advancement of material civilization, but unless there is actual peace in the minds of the citizens of the world, there can be no real claim of advancement. And without God consciousness, there can be no peace, but only a hard struggle for existence in a world of selfish competition for supremacy among nations and among men. Therefore, any civilization which is not established on the principles of God consciousness is not civilization at all.
The difficulty is that neither the leadership of the world nor the followers of the world leaders are educated in the science of God consciousness, and therefore they are unable to offer practical suggestions for successful management of their nations or the world. Therefore, there is great need for a worldwide program to educate people in general regarding the science of God consciousness, and this educational attempt should be spearheaded by the intelligentsia of society. It is the duty of all intelligent and responsible men in society to seriously consider the problems of the world in the light of spiritual knowledge, since the citizens of the world are in reality spiritual living entities.
Because world leadership is acting under the misconception of ownership of property and resources which actually belong to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, it is acting in illusion. For example, I may be invited to a friend's house to stay for some days, but if I somehow come to think that the house is mine, this is called illusion, and the result of such illusion is that I must be in anxiety due to the falseness of my claim. Similarly, one who thinks that the natural resources of the world are his to exploit is in illusion, and since this illusion is predominant all over the world, we are living in world wide illusory consciousness and consequent worldwide tension.
Sectarian religious efforts cannot be effective in achieving a solution to this problem because no sectarian religion can offer a universal platform of God consciousness which can be acceptable to the members of other religious sects. In this connection, however, Krsna consciousness is offering a unique program because it is a completely non-sectarian spiritual science which can be easily understood and adopted by all the people of the world, regardless of religious conviction or faith.
The basic principle of the Krsna consciousness philosophy is that the greatest need of world civilization is a systematic program to broadcast the glories of the Supreme Lord by every available means. Because the Supreme Lord is transcendental to the confusion and anxiety of the material world, glorification of the Lord is similarly transcendental. The Supreme Lord is situated within the hearts of all living entities, and since all living entities are parts and parcels of God and therefore originally God conscious living beings, as soon as one hears the transcendental sound vibration of glorification of the Lord, the Lord acts from within to purify his consciousness and revive his original purity of mind and purpose.
The media of the world are overburdened with mundane propaganda glorifying the temporary and flickering tidings of the material world, but such news cannot act for the real benefit of the citizens of the world. The spiritually realized person can see that all living entities are parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord. He sees everyone as a spirit soul and serves him as such. The mundane philanthropist can offer only temporary solutions which pertain to the outer covering of the living being, the material body. This bodily welfare work does not, however, solve the real problem, any more than cleaning the cage of a starving bird acts to satisfy the bird's hunger.
If only a small percentage of the world's leaders understand the importance of acting in Krsna consciousness, the entire face of the world can be changed. The public media—the radio, the press, television—are all in actuality the property of God because they exist by God's energy. The ether through which television and radio waves travel and the trees which provide the paper on which newspapers are printed are not created by man, but by the Supreme Lord. Therefore, the claim of any man, syndicate or nation to have proprietorship of any of the public media must be considered an illusion only. Because these media exist on God's resources, they are therefore the property of God, and they should be used for the glorification of God.
The headlines should announce the glories of God, the radios should broadcast the name of God, television should present the pastimes of God. The mass media is now acting as a worldwide disservice. The newspaper is a chronicle of birth, death, disease and old age which is distributed in the millions and thrown in the streets as rubbish the next day in exchange for that day's news, which is really nothing new, but only the same static mundane tidings. Similarly, radio and television are polluting the world with mundane sound vibrations which are of no benefit to the spiritual advancement of civilization. The newspapermen and television commentators of the world are sleeping, and what can a sleeping man report? We call on the leaders of the mass media to wake up and broadcast the name, fame, qualities and pastimes of the Supreme Lord for the benefit of all living entities. We call upon the scientists of the world to learn the greatest science, the science of the spirit soul, the active principle within everything, which is moving the material world. We call upon the politicians to organize political structures within their jurisdiction for the advancement of spiritual knowledge, instead of mundane sense gratification for their own personal and extended selfish interests. We call upon the theologians of the world to learn the universal science of Krsna consciousness, which is relevant for men of all religions because it is the postgraduate science of religion, the complete practical science of how everyone can actually develop love of God. We call upon writers to write of God, singers to sing of God, workers to work for God, and we call upon every human being to revive his dormant relationship with God by the practical method of hearing about Krsna from His devotees.
The supreme omnipotent Lord has full potency to provide for the prosperity of millions and billions of universes. Therefore, the only real scarcity is a scarcity of genuine God consciousness. It is the mission of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness to counteract this scarcity, for that will automatically adjust all other problems.
Human Life Is Meant For Thoughtfulness
Generally, a philosophical mind is inquisitive about the origin of all emanations. Such inquiry is natural for a human being because of his developed consciousness. To answer the sincere inquirer, the books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada describe the science of the Absolute Truth.
Bhagavad-gita As It Is
Bhagavad-gita has long been appreciated as a scriptural literature of sublime importance by thoughtful men throughout the world, for its eighteen chapters shower upon man the immortal nectar of the wisdom of the Absolute. The aim of this edition of Bhagavad-gita is to present the ancient science of yoga as presented by the speaker Himself, Lord Sri Krsna, without adulteration or interpretation. His Divine Grace A C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has accepted the Gita to be perfect and complete, and he has prepared his Bhagavad-gita As It Is with that understanding. Thus the message of this timeless classic is transmitted in its purity and fullness. By reading this book one can attain the perfection of human life. 318 pp., paperback, $2.95
Never before has this sublime text been available to the English-speaking world. Now ISKCON Press announces the forthcoming publication of Cantos 1 and 2 of Srimad-Bhagavatam in five richly illustrated hardcover volumes.
The science of God is greater than all other sciences, and this spiritual technology is rationally and authoritatively explained in the 18,000 verses of Srimad-Bhagavatam, India's sublime contribution of culture, philosophy, politics, sociology, religion and love. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has undertaken the mighty task of rendering this supremely potent work into the English language along with Sanskrit transliterations, word-for-word synonyms and elaborate English purports. Thus in each verse one will find new enlightenment regarding the Absolute Truth, the origin of all emanations.
Here, in two magnificent volumes, His Divine Grace presents the eternal, blissful pastimes of the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna as they are revealed in the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, the ripened fruit of all Vedic literatures. The KRSNA Books. 750 pages of transcendental stories, richly illustrated with 82 full-color reproductions.
Vol. II, 370 pp., 24 illus., $6.95
Set of both volumes, $12.95
The Nectar of Devotion
Nothing in this material world is so vast and variegated as the ocean of the nectar of devotion. Every feeling, emotion and relationship we find in this world is a limited, perverted reflection of the true, spiritual absolute. How to experience these pure spiritual emotions and relationships in direct conjunction with the Supreme is the subject matter of the most intimate and personal textbook in the world, The Nectar of Devotion, by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Teachings of Lord Caitanya
Lord Caitanya's most confidential teachings have been compiled and translated by His most dedicated follower, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. This is the text for advanced students of the science of love of God.
All the major scriptures of the world indicate that Godhead, or the Absolute Truth, is not impersonal, but is a person. Sri Isopanisad, in its eighteen mantras, describes the form and nature of the Absolute Truth. 137 pp., paperback, $1.95
Easy Journey to Other Planets $.95
This book is an authentic discussion on the techniques and practice of the yoga system by which one can leave this body for travel to anti-material planets where life is blissful, eternal and full of knowledge. 58pp., paperback $.95
This book presents the most authorized process of yoga practice in God realization, without any deviation from the original Vedic scriptural literature. In this present volume, the author forcefully exposes the speculative systems which depart from love of God as the ultimate goal of yoga. 58pp., paperback $.95
Entrance into the realm of Krsna consciousness is gained through hearing transcendental sound vibrations from the pure devotee. This album by His Divine Grace features beautiful chants and prayers with the added benefit of a lecture on the nature of the absolute world. $5.00
Vande 'Ham Album
An authoritative recording of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada singing the Hare Krsna mantra and other transcendental chants. $4 00
Radha-Krsna Temple Album
The editors of Back to Godhead welcome correspondence pertaining to the subject matter of Krsna consciousness. All letters will be personally replied, and correspondence of special interest will be published regularly.
Dear Citsukananda dasa:
I wanted to send this letter to you to express my deep appreciation for your concern during my recent stay in San Francisco. My trip to California was for the purpose of seeing some friends and relaxing a little after the very strenuous meeting of the National Federation of Priests' Councils Executive Board. We have been trying very hard to change the priorities of the Catholic Church and to educate our people to a deeper concern for the things of God. It seems that our efforts are meeting with some success, but God is the provider, and He will give what is necessary when it is time.
When I first saw the devotees on Market Street I was fascinated by the chanting and the youth of those who were dancing and singing. One of the girls gave me a copy of the magazine and invited me to the temple. As you know I spent many hours watching and enjoying this wonderful phenomenon. Having seen many false things in my life as a Catholic and as a priest, I wanted to be sure that what I saw was genuine. I came to the temple not so much for curiosity as for the purpose of learning something of the secret of the joy and peace I saw in the eyes of those devoted to Krsna. My heart was overjoyed to find what I found. The chanting and dancing are so simple and yet so meaningful in their approach to God.
While in San Francisco I thought of nothing more than of Krsna and His devotees. Since I have returned to Pennsylvania I have thought of little else. I have been reading the Gita and cherishing the thoughts contained there. I am in the process of thinking of the connection between Krsna and Christ and Catholic teaching. By no means am I a follower of the false Christ which has been taught for so long in so many churches. I have long known that God has a deep cosmic significance which has been overlooked for so long. Some of the things I have been reading in archaeology, scripture, and human behavior have led me to a consciousness of the overwhelming goodness of God and of His great love for us.
I recall the words of St. Paul in one of the New Testament Epistles: "O how great are the riches and the depths of the knowledge of God; how inscrutable His ways." Here was a man caught up into the seventh heaven of God consciousness who abandoned everything he ever was to bring awareness of God to mankind. I see so many similarities in the two scriptures, and I can only think that perhaps God speaks to men according to their own condition and for too long we have tried to say that one way is God's. Who are we to try to limit God: The all-important thing is God consciousness. All things follow from that. Whether one follows the prayers of the Catholic Mass or the prayers of the African native, one always seeks God.
There are so very many questions that I have wanted to ask you, but did not because I was not willing to interrupt the chanting or any of the work of spreading Krsna consciousness by taking all your time. I was grateful to you for taking time on Friday to speak to me. May I ask you some of these personal questions which to me give an idea of the value that Krsna has for the devotee. First, I am wondering about the place of sex in the life of devotees such as the young men and women of the temple. As a Catholic priest who lives a life of celibacy in dedication to Christ, I am interested to know what the devotee of Krsna thinks about celibacy. Is this any problem for those trying to follow Krsna? Do the devotees accept celibacy for life or for a period of time only? What is the attitude of the devotee towards sex? Is sex a good thing or something evil? Does Krsna demand abstinence from sex as a sacrifice or as a way of being free from material attachments?
Also I would like to ask you about the matter of money. I know that in any society money is necessary to maintain a church or a temple. One of the devotees told me that the spiritual master provides for the students. This is a very real problem for me since I know for us how many millions of dollars must be spent on buildings and how much on personal living expenses: food, clothing, car fuel, etc.
There are so many mundane things to talk about, but I feel that I must know some of these things in order to place all doubts about the personal motivations of the devotees in abeyance. Would you be so kind as to answer these questions sincerely. I would appreciate knowing many, many things about the devotees of Krsna because I believe in the transcendental value of such devotion and must be able to answer the objections of those with whom I speak. Already the people I have told this to have many questions. Quite soon my classes will begin, and I will have an opportunity to talk of Krsna consciousness to this group of people anxious to know about God. Likewise I intend to talk about my wonderful experience with you in my church at Mass. I will do this after I receive the record I ordered from Boston.
May I thank you for the feeling of warmth and friendship and love which I felt while with you. I know that this is the warmth, friendship and love of Krsna which shines through you. Please be assured of my constant prayers for all of you to Lord Jesus that he may grant to you the fullness of Krsna and all good things which come from Him.
Father Ernest P. Kish
Dear Father Kish,
Please accept my greetings. The San Francisco temple has sent us your letter in hopes that we could print it so that all could read and share in your inspiring response to the Hare Krsna movement. They have also requested that, as editors of the magazine, we answer the questions which are in your letter.
Your feelings of spiritual joy on witnessing the devotees chanting Hare Krsna in the streets and in the temple are symptoms of love of God, the pure, original feelings of the human being. Love of God, as demonstrated by the chanting, is not a sectarian concern. It is the essence of religion to call on Him, and who can object? Certainly there is no objection from the spiritual point of view; the only objection is from the viewpoint of material prejudice. God Himself is understood as transcendental to sects; He is not the God of merely the Christian people, or the Hindus, or Muslims, or Jews or any sect. In the scripture Bhagavad-gita, which you are reading, Krsna, who is accepted in all Vedic literature as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, declares, "I am the father of all living entities." There is thus no question of His being the father of only one sect; He is the father even of the lower animals, the trees and all life, regardless of one's particular religious faith. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, another Vedic scripture, the devotee-sage Sukadeva Gosvami was asked what the first-class religion among all religions is. He replied, "That religion is first-class which invokes our natural love of God." He did not say, "The best religion is Hindu," or "Christianity is the best." The test of first-class religion is whether the followers are developing love of God; it does not matter what the religion is. Your letter reflects awareness of this standard, based on pure feelings of love of God, and that is why it is so refreshing and encouraging.
You write that you want to ask many questions "in order to place all doubts about the personal motivations of the devotees in abeyance." I can reply for all those devotees of ISKCON who are fully and sincerely engaged twenty-four hours daily in this practice of devotional service that our only motivation is to please our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who is a pure devotee of the Lord. As for the motive of Srila Prabhupada himself, that is certain: he is engaging all the activities of his mind, words and heart in the worldwide propaganda of pure love of God. All that you saw in San Francisco which so moved you, such as the spontaneous joy of the devotees engaged in Krsna consciousness, is only due to the causeless mercy of our spiritual master. Whatever God consciousness we have developed and we are practicing comes from the instruction of the bona fide spiritual master. He is passing it down to us so kindly, from an unbroken line of disciplic succession going back 5,000 years to the time when Bhagavad-gita was spoken by Lord Krsna. Whatever is in the Gita is confirmed by our spiritual master, without misinterpretation, change or addition. Thus we can answer your questions on the basis of the authority of our spiritual master and upon the words of Krsna spoken in Bhagavad-gita.
You have asked about the place of sex life in Krsna consciousness. What is the Krsna conscious devotee's attitude toward celibacy? According to the Vedic system there are four orders in spiritual life, and in all but one of them complete celibacy is the rule. The first order is called brahmacarya, or student life. The unmarried student spends his entire time in study and service to the spiritual master. In this country, as you have seen, both boys and girls have adopted this life and are strictly following it; they do not indulge in illicit sex in any way whatsoever. And, as you saw in their behavior, they are not suffering any inconvenience from such restriction. When one is able to taste the transcendental bliss of devotional service, bhakti-yoga, there is no question of hankering for material pleasure. Our real eternal self is spiritual, and once this eternal relationship to the Supreme Spirit, or Krsna, is invoked in the heart of the aspiring devotee, he constantly wants to feel that transcendental pleasure of service to God, without stoppage, and he considers sex life to be abominable because of its inferior quality. This is true for the girls as well as the boys. It is no less than miraculous that in this age, when the whole materialistic society is concentrating on sex life as the ultimate goal of life, ISKCON devotees are refraining from such practices so easily.
After receiving training as a brahmacari for some time, the student may, with the sanction of the spiritual master, get married and live peacefully as a householder in Krsna consciousness. In Bhagavad-gita Krsna declares, "I am sex life according to religious principles." What kind of sex life is religious? That which is only for producing children is acceptable; otherwise it is forbidden as much for the householders as for the single students. To raise a child in Krsna consciousness is a great service, and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, the guru (spiritual master) of our spiritual master, who was a strict celibate throughout his entire life, said, "I would be prepared to have sex a hundred times if I could raise Krsna conscious children."
Srila Prabhupada is very fond of his married couples. The principle of marriage in Krsna consciousness is not sense gratification but mutual cooperation, for man and wife help each other to become Krsna conscious. Such pure couples are going all over the world chanting Hare Krsna and opening Krsna conscious centers.
If a single student does not feel the need to be married, he may eventually take sannyasa, which is the renounced order of life, dedicating all his energy to preaching according to the order of the spiritual master. It is said that fifty percent of liberation is achieved if one can become free of mundane sex life. Since spiritual life means to become liberated from this material world of misery, illicit sex life is not good, since it is the single greatest attraction drawing us to material life. If we can rid ourselves of the desire to remain in this temporary world of death, we can become eligible to experience transcendental bliss.
The matter of money is best explained by the founder and spiritual master of ISKCON in a commentary to his translation of Bhagavad-gita: "Every endeavor requires a place to stay, some capital to use, some labor and some organization to make propaganda, so the same is required in the service of Krsna. The only difference is that materialism means to work for sense gratification. The same work, however, can be performed for the satisfaction of Krsna. That is spiritual activity." The fact is that the devotee has actually abolished his own account; for his own maintenance he uses only what is necessary to keep body and soul together, but for the spreading of Krsna consciousness, the topmost welfare work for all humanity, huge sums of money are required. From sales of books and magazines, the money is put entirely, one-hundred percent, into printing more books and future issues of the magazine. The maintenance of the many temples is supported by private income, from householder devotees who work at jobs and contribute their income, as well as from sales of Spiritual Sky incense and private donations.
All of us are living entities completely dependent on Krsna for our maintenance. Man proposes and God disposes. Because Krsna is maintaining the animals and the nondevotees, we are confident that, as we endeavor to manage efficiently whatever is given to us, Krsna will surely provide for those engaged in His pure devotional service.
I hope that this has answered some of the many questions you have asked about Krsna consciousness. Our spiritual master is currently making a world tour and promises soon to be in the New York-Philadelphia area. We will keep in touch with you as to when you could most likely meet him. It would be very wonderful if you could meet with His Divine Grace and speak of some of the feelings which you have expressed in your letter about Krsna consciousness. And, since you are living in Philadelphia, we humbly invite you to visit and associate with the devotees there and attend their classes and Sunday feasts if possible. Thank you again for giving us spiritual encouragement to carry on our work for the Supreme Lord and His pure devotee.
Satsvarupa dasa Adhikari
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, appeared in India 5,000 years ago in the town of Vrndavana. He came down from the spiritual sky with His eternal associates, pastimes and paraphernalia—and He brought His eternal abode with Him. There is no difference between the Vrndavana on this earth and the Vrndavana in the spiritual sky, for when Krsna comes He brings His eternal abode with Him. As recorded in the scripture Srimad-Bhagavatam, for 125 years Lord Sri Krsna displayed His loving pastimes in the natural setting of Vrndavana with His cowherd girl friends, His consort Srimati Radharani, His cowherd boy friends and other associates. These pastimes are described in the Krsna Books by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
The land of Vrndavana is still existing in India, and 500 years ago Lord Caitanya sent His intimate disciples the Gosvamis to identify the places where Krsna performed His pastimes, such as the River Yamuna where He fought the demon Kaliya, the forest where He danced with the gopis, and the famous Goverdhana Hill which He lifted to protect the residents of Vrndavana. Vrndavana, however, remained little known to the people of the rest of the world.
Before coming to the United States in 1965 on the order of his spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada stayed in the Radha-Damodara Temple established in Vrndavana by the Gosvami followers of Lord Caitanya and there worked on his translations of Vedic literature. Now, since 1965, he has been traveling, especially in the western part of the world. In the last two years, devotees of ISKCON, led by Srila Prabhupada, have gone to India to establish centers, and recently Srila Prabhupada went with a group of devotees to visit Vrndavana and show them through the eyes of a pure devotee the place of Krsna's pastimes.
The residents of present-day Vrndavana greeted Srila Prabhupada with great pride. Srila Prabhupada wrote in a letter, "The officials and residents of Vrndavana have greeted us very nicely, and they are simply astounded to see our sankirtana party chanting with great jubilation through the city streets. Before I went to the Western countries, no one there knew about Vrndavana. Now hundreds of visitors from the U.S. come here to see Krsna's place."
In his purports to Caitanya-caritamrta, Srila Prabhupada has written: "In Vrndavana, all the inhabitants are Vaisnavas [devotees of Krsna] . They are all auspicious because somehow or other they always chant the holy name of Krsna. Even though some of them do not strictly follow the rules and regulations of devotional service, on the whole they are devoted to Krsna and chant His name, directly or indirectly. Purposely or without purpose, even when they are passing on the street they are fortunate enough to exchange greetings by saying the name of Radha or Krsna. So directly or indirectly they are auspicious. The inhabitants of Vrndavana do not know anything but the worship of Radha and Krsna."
The addresses of welcome printed on this and the following pages were offered to Srila Prabhupada by the prominent residents of Vrndavana when His Divine Grace visited the city during his tour of November 1971.
handed unto the lotus palm of His Divine Grace 108 Sri Srimad Swami Sri Bhaktivedantaji Maharaja
O preacher of the Sankirtana Movement,
In the Srimad-Bhagavatam it has been declared that chanting of the holy name of the Lord is the essence of all Vedic literature, and there is no alternative method of delivering the fallen souls of this age, known as Kali-yuga.
You are acting in exact accord with this message of Srimad-Bhagavatam in the line of disciplic succession, and it is a glorious attempt that you have undertaken in preaching the magnificent action of the holy name of the Lord. May this determination of yours be blessed with success all over the universe. That is the prayer of all Vaisnavas in Vrndavana. We sincerely hope that your noble attempt in this line of action will be crowned with laurels.
This is an attempt to unify the whole world on the one platform of Krsna consciousness. At present, all political movement is centered around the idealism of the United Nations. Men are talking of internationalism, but by practical experience it is found that no other attempt but this Krsna consciousness movement will be able to unite all nations of the world. None of the political dreamers have become as successful as you.
Seeing the results of your activities, every one of us now believes that in the very near future all the nations of the world will be overwhelmed by the transcendental vibrations of the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra. Through this movement, men forget their artificial and inimical concepts of life. Gradually they will take to this auspicious movement, breaking all artificial barriers and limitations of human understanding. We firmly believe that through this movement everyone will become a lover of the Supreme Lord and thus a lover not only of all society but of all other living entities.
O Great Soul,
Today we, the inhabitants of Vrndavana known as Vrajabhasis, all combinedly offer our humble welcome to Your Holiness in this holy place of Vrndavana, and in doing so we feel very proud. We all pray to the Supreme Queen of Vraja Srimati Radharani, the principal figure in the transcendental rasa dance of Sri Krsna, that She may be pleased with you and bestow upon you at least 100 years of age. Thus may Radharani's most lovable Krsna, who is also known as Syamasundara, bless Your Holiness to go on continually preaching the transcendental glories of the Lord, for in this way the entire universe may constantly chant His holy name, after receiving it from your mouth, and thus surcharge the entire atmosphere with purity and love of God. By this method the polluted atmosphere of the world will be completely changed, and the situation of pure love and ecstasy will prevail without a doubt.
We beg to remain all Yours sincerely,
To the most exalted, unlimitedly decorated Sri Srimad Swami Bhaktivedantaji Maharaja
O most revered Svamiji,
India is well known as the land of religion, and the heart of this transcendental land is Sri Vrndavana. This is the place of the pastimes of Sri Sri Radharani, the central figure of the rasa dance, and of Sri Krsna, the worshipable Lord of Radharani. Thus, this transcendental holy land of Vrndavana is the center for cultivation of religion, culture, austerity and devotional service. It is not that Sri Vrndavana-dhama is so accepted in modern days alone—it has existed as such since time immemorial. In this holy land of Vrndavana, we the inhabitants of Vrndavana, who are known as Vrajabhasis, hereby welcome you and offer you this humble address.
O perfect devotee of Lord Visnu,
According to the Vedic system there are three ways for self-realization. They are known as knowledge, fruitive activities and devotional service. We have an immense treasure house of transcendental knowledge in the form of four Vedas, 108 Upanisads and eighteen Puranas, over and above the Mahabharata and Vedanta-sutras. They are so important that by taking a fractional portion of this treasure of transcendental knowledge, other coutnries all over the world have become proud of their spiritual understanding. We know that you have full authority in the treasure house of spiritual knowledge, yet still you have taken shelter of the most exalted process of devotional service.
O chief of understanding transcendental mellowness,
O great preacher of Vedic culture,
O most revered Svamiji,
We beg to remain Yours most obediently,