Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
The chanting of the maha-mantra—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—is the recommended process of self-realization in this age. Man means mind, and tra means deliverance. Therefore, a mantra is a chant meant to deliver the mind from all unwanted thoughts. Maha means great. The Hare Krsna maha-mantra is the great chanting to deliver the mind from all unwanted thoughts which keep us from realizing our true selves. Our consciousness is originally pure or Krsna conscious, but now, due to association with material nature, our minds are filled with impure thoughts. Like a dirty lens or a dusty mirror, our consciousness is now covered, but the process for cleaning the mind is both simple and universally effective—anyone can chant Hare Krsna, and immediately all dirty thoughts will be removed from his mind. Krsna is a name of the Supreme All-attractive Personality of Godhead. Since God and His name are nondifferent, the sound Krsna, the reservoir of all beauty and pleasure (Rama), attracts our minds. Hare is an address to the energy of the Lord. By associating with Krsna, the Supreme Pure, through His name, we also become purified and regain our original blissful consciousness.
The chanting of Hare Krsna was first brought to the Western world seven years ago by the founder and spiritual master of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada is a pure devotee and a completely self-realized spiritual master authorized to teach this genuine process of spiritual awakening. He has mercifully given the chanting of Hare Krsna to the world so that everyone may regain his original joyful consciousness and live in peace and happiness. By chanting these holy names, we reestablish our lost link with the Supreme and enjoy our real life, which is full of eternity, knowledge and bliss. Srila Prabhupada has asked, "Please chant these holy names of the Lord. Your life will become sublime."
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His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
"Being bound by hundreds and thousands of desires, by lust and anger, they secure money by illegal means for sense gratification." (Bg. 16.12)
Sometimes when we meet gentlemen of so-called fashionable taste and try to interest them in the work of this Krsna consciousness movement, they very frankly say that they have no interest in such a theistic subject and even condemn our attempt to bring people in general back to the path of Godhead. According to these gentlemen, the deplorable economic conditions of the Indian people are caused by their great faith in God, and the sooner they forget everything about God, the better for them. But we cannot agree with the atheistic conclusions of such gentlemen who are so devoid of all sense of spirituality. India and the other nations of the world were never so completely dependent upon occupational service than they are now. With the advancement of godless materialistic education, the number of unemployed is increasing daily, particularly amongst the educated section of the people. Whenever there is some vacancy in some post—important or unimportant—there are thousands of applications to fill it. In India more than eighty percent of the population is not provided the bare necessities of life, and what to speak of other amenities. Some of the well-posted government servants and some of the fortunate businessmen may feel happy themselves, but ninety percent of their brother citizens do not know how to make ends meet. Therefore, the economic condition is deplorable.
This economic deterioration of the masses of people is not only visible in India, but all over the world. The planning commissions in India have of course made various plans to improve the economic conditions of the people, but we can take lessons from other countries where the planning commissions have finished their duties. We must be frank enough to admit that the economic condition of the general masses of people has not improved. Practically a quarter of a centruy ago, when President Truman was in London, he admitted very frankly that independence means comfortable life for everyone, at least that is the expectation of all common men—an expectation which is never to be fulfilled. When World War II was going on, one party inquired whether the Japanese were coming to India. The thought behind the inquiry was that if the Japanese came to India, the country would be independent. The party was met again after 1947, and when he was asked how he had improved his comfortable life, he replied with much regret that he had not improved his lot in the least after independence. On the contrary, his family expenditure had increased so much that he was on the brink of financial ruin. On the whole, the story is that in India no one's life has become more comfortable since independence, as it ought to have according to President Truman. According to him, if a section of a nation lives very comfortably in material terms and senses some false happiness, without caring for its brother have-nots, that nation is not to be considered an independent nation.
What all these mundane wranglers cannot understand is that the economic condition of the people cannot be improved by godless adventuring. There are five elements affecting any particular action in the universe, and the most important cause is called daiva, or the unseen hand of God. However efficient the other causes may be—such as the place, the worker, the attempt and the instrument—without the favorable help of the divine cause, nothing can be effected.
The atheist Ravana did not believe in the Divine cause but firmly believed in his own capacity. He was a declared enemy of Sri Ramacandra, the Personality of Godhead, and on his own strength he planned to construct a staircase leading up to heaven. This staircase was to be used by everyone, and the idea was that by it everyone could reach heaven without undergoing the necessary qualifications.
The present generation of materialists are direct descendants of Ravana because all of them think in terms of building a staircase leading to the kingdom of heaven. They completely ignore the superior strength of the daiva cause. There are many planning commissions around the world attempting to improve conditions that have degenerated due to war, famine, pestilence and similar disasters, but unfortunately the daiva cause is unknown to these commissions. Therefore the commissions meet at a considerable expense to the general populace, and the result is that nothing is ever solved. This is all due to a godless disregard for the unseen hand of the Supreme.
Hope Against Hope
Such do-gooders and planning commissions are surely bound by hundreds and thousands of thoughts produced by insatiable lust. When their lust is not fulfilled to their satisfaction, they become possessed by anger, insanity, violence, loss of intelligence, and finally they threaten to destroy everything with monstrous bombs. These different atheistic groups all have various plans in mind, and these plans are exhibited in different patterns of godlessness. One atheistic nation thinks in a different way from another atheistic nation, and the unseen hand of the daiva causes their circles to overlap and makes them clash. None of these groups function beyond the range of direct perception of the material senses. None of them function according to the guidelines of spiritual knowledge. The mass of people themselves are unable to see things in their true perspective, and under various political arrangements they are made to follow blind leaders who present them with multi-colored ideals which are sure to fail in the long run. In this way the populace is made to hope against hope that some great solution is pending.
There are many hope-against-hope parties, and whenever they fail to gratify the senses of the masses, they are all endangered. When these parties are endangered, they begin to fightone another, and at the end one of the parties is eventually victimized by another for the sake of a false ideology unknown to the common people. Communal flare-ups and revolutions are now ordinary occurrences in this iron age due to the advancement of godless and materialistic learning. The poor followers and innocent masses, however, are the sufferers on such roads to heavenly ideologies. The masses are gradually being driven into a hopeless condition due to lack of information of real spiritual life. They are kept in darkness and in a bewildered state of sense gratification. Consequently they seek happiness in a labyrinth of sense gratification and try to accumulate wealth by unlawful means.
When one is in impure consciousness, ignorant of the Supreme Lord, he accumulates everything unlawfully because he does not acknowledge that everything in the universe belongs to the Supreme Lord. Everyone is thinking, "I am the proprietor of everything," and the whole material world is being conducted under the impression that "I am the monarch of all I survey." This is called illusion. According to Sri Isopanisad:
isavasyam idam sarvam
"Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one must not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong." (Sri Isopanisad, 1)
Our Real Life's Mission
We have spoken and heard of illusion so many times, but what is this illusion? This illusion is the thought that "I am the proprietor and everything is mine," when, in fact, nothing is mine. We are not proprietors at all. This is the real situation; everything belongs to Krsna or God, and this is the proper conception of spiritual communism.
In the Isopanisad verse quoted above, we find that whatever property there is—whatever material resources there are, not only on this earth but on other planets and in outer space as well—whatever exists within the creation is to be considered the possession of the Supreme Lord. Who can deny it? Can we create anything or manufacture anything without utilizing the energy supplied by prakrti or nature? This nature belongs to God, for the original elements were created by Him. In this modern age we have made so many advancements in chemistry, but without the basic elements of sulphur, mercury, etc., there is no question of the art of chemistry. Raw materials must be taken from the earth; man can only transform them from one form to another. We must come to understand that these things cannot be manufactured artificially. God is their source and supplier. If a carpenter is supplied wood, tools and also wages and builds a table, whose table is it? Does it belong to the carpenter? No, it belongs to the person who supplied the wood, tools and wages. Similarly, whatever we can show as a result of our labor, whatever products result from our energy, is the property of the Supreme Lord. When we come to this understanding we can establish ourselves in our pure consciousness, Krsna consciousness.
The material conception of life, which arises from ignorance, is due to our attachment to material enjoyment. The strongest material allurement is sex enjoyment, which illusions us into thinking, "This is mine. I am the proprietor. Everything is mine, etc." Thinking in this way, we spend our time trying to make an economic solution, trying to enhance our financial standing. How does all this begin? The Bhagavad-gita indicates that lust is the beginning; the more we become attracted by sex life, the more illusioned we become. It is not that we are to abandon sex life, but change our conceptions of it. Sex is a necessary part of life and a demand of the body, but it should be regulated, not increased unrestrictedly. It is necessary that we eat in order to maintain our health, and it is necessary to sleep in order to refresh the body. Similarly, sex is also required; that is not denied. What we have to understand is that eating, sleeping and mating are not our real missions in life; they are required for maintaining the body only. Our real life's mission is to understand what and who Krsna is and what our relationship with Him is—in other words, to establish ourselves in Krsna consciousness.
Because we have no information of Krsna consciousness, we try our best to gratify this material body. Now we have to understand that somehow or other we came in contact with this material body, and now our problem is how to make the best use of a bad bargain. Therefore we have to understand how to use this body for getting out of this material entanglement. We have to treat the body in such a way that it will not cause us disturbance. If the body is not properly maintained, we will be disturbed. If we want to go from California to New York in an automobile, that vehicle must be in proper order, otherwise we won't be able to complete the trip. The mission of life should not be that we become too much involved and absorbed in bodily needs, but we should keep the body fit in order to execute our real mission of Krsna consciousness. Consequently if we at all want to be spiritually advanced, our eating, sleeping, defending and mating must be regulated. We should not be absorbed in them, thinking that they are our only goal. Nature's laws will not allow us to abandon ourselves to them without suffering unpleasant reactions. For instance, it we eat more than necessary, we will have indigestion. If we overindulge in sex life, we will become weak and ultimately impotent. If we oversleep, we will become dull and stupid. These are nature's laws. We cannot overindulge in these things and at the same time have spiritual life; therefore the best course is to minimize these bodily demands. That is the point of brahmacari education, and that is the basic principle of ancient Vedic civilization.
In the ancient Vedic civilization we find that only kings or royal families had very nice houses to live in. Common men used to live in huts. They did not require more, and they did not spend their energy unnecessarily. In this regard there is the example of the sage who used to meditate on the banks of the Ganges. He was to live until all the hairs on his body fell off. He was a very hairy sage, and he only lost one hair every time Brahma died. Brahma lives for one hundred years, as calculated on the Brahmaloka planet, where each year is equal to 4,300,000 x 2 x 30 x 12 earth years. At the end of this fantastic period of time, one of the hairs of the sage falls off, so it would be difficult to imagine the duration required for all his hairs to fall off. At any rate, when this sage was standing on the banks of the Ganges and meditating, a person came to him and said, "Why are you just standing here on the beach meditating? You are out in all sorts of weather. Why don't you build a nice cottage?"
The sage replied, "Oh, why should I bother? I am just here temporarily."
The sage was aware that any position in this material world is temporary, whereas he is eternal. We should understand that whatever position we have is temporary, because the body is temporary. Whatever we possess in relation to the body is also temporary. If we move into an apartment and are going to stay there for only three days, do we take pains to decorate the apartment very nicely? No, why should we spoil our energy in decorating that room? We should always remember that this body is temporary and that its needs are temporary, but as spirit souls we are eternal. Our real concern should be to fulfill our eternal mission and to make arrangements in this human form of life to live eternally after leaving this body.
We Belong to Krsna
Spiritual life is not void; it is actual life. The conception of voidness arises from frustration with material existence. Krsna's creation is full of life; there is no question of void anywhere. There is actual life in which we live eternally and enjoy eternally, in which we become peaceful and full of knowledge. That life is our spiritual life, and we have to attain to it. Our mission should be to attain that highest perfectional stage and become detached from this temporary existence. To become attached to temporary things and to give no time to the eternal soul is illusion. The Vedanta-sutra gives information that this life is meant for self-realization, for questioning into the nature of Brahman, spirit. What is Brahman? We are all Brahman, but because we have become entangled in these material elements, we do not realize it. The Vedanta-sutra, Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam and all other Vedic literatures are intended to awaken us to our real identity. They tell us to awake, to get up and not sleep. Sleeping means remaining in ignorance, in darkness. The purpose of the Vedic literatures is to enlighten us, to get us to shake off our sleepiness.
In this regard there is the story of the poor man who consulted an astrologer saying, "Sir, I am very poor, Do you think that by my palm you can tell whether I'll ever get money in the future?" The astrologer looked at the man's palm carefully and finally said, "Prospects are very good. Your father left you a hidden treasure before he died. You just have to find it out." The man went away to look for the treasure, and when he could not find it he returned to the astrologer, who gave him further instructions. "If you look for the treasure on the southern side, you will have many difficulties. If you dig for it on the northern or western sides, there will be similar difficulties. Just look on the eastern side and you will find it." So the man looked and indeed found his treasure. Similarly, we all have a great hidden treasure, and if we consult the oracle of Vedic literature we will find it. God is full of six opulences—all wealth, all knowledge, all beauty, all strength, all fame and all renunciation. We are His sons, and as such we have immense property to enjoy. In Bhagavad-gita Sri Krsna says that all living entities are His sons. If He is our father, and is such a rich father, then why don't we reestablish our relationship with Him? Krsna sends His most intimate and confidential sons like Lord Jesus Christ to inform us of this heritage we have forgotten, to call us back home, back to Godhead. Unfortunately we are too busy consulting some mundane astrologers trying to find out what will happen to this body, trying to heal the body or make it last a few years longer, completely forgetting that this body is temporary and doomed to perish. Our real goal should be to finish this bodily business in this life and to realize ourselves spiritually and know that we are not this matter but Brahman, sons of Krsna. We have to understand that we don't belong to our so-called parents or this so-called country. We belong to Krsna and the spiritual worlds of the Vaikunthas. For us this whole earth, indeed this whole universe, is a foreign country. All living entities in the material universe are in a foreign country. They are simply visiting for a certain duration of years, that's all. When we are illusioned, we think that things in this country belong to us, but in actuality nothing belongs to us at all.
Everything belongs to Krsna. We also belong to Krsna, for we are His sons. When we come to understand that everything belongs to Him, our material attachments gradually slacken, and as we become detached from material life we proportionately increase our spiritual life and advance in knowledge. In the Fifteenth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita, Sri Krsna gives us the example of the banyan tree with its roots upward and its branches down. This tree of material existence must be severed by the weapon of detachment. These knots which bind us very tightly to the material world must be cut by someone who is free. Therefore one who is sufficiently intelligent will associate with saintly persons who are free from the entanglement of material nature and who can sever the knots which bind. There is no benefit in associating with those who are simply engaged in sense gratification. If we want liberation, if we really want to get out of this illusory existence, we must associate with mahatmas, great souls. All we have to do is simply hear, sravanam, and by simply hearing from great souls our knot of nescience will be cut. Just hearing Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare will save us.
By Visnu-jana Svami
The urgent need of modern society is to realize the actual human mission, which is for man to develop his eternal loving relationship with the Supreme Lord Krsna. This is the direct, one-stroke method for solving the complex social, economic and ethical problems which besiege us. Just as by watering the root of a tree one naturally provides water for all its leaves and branches, so by serving Krsna, who is the root of human society and indeed of all existence, one simultaneously renders the most valuable service to all living beings. One who has realized this simple understanding is able to act in perfection for the benefit of all.
The outlines presented below were originally used to accompany visual displays portraying major problems in all levels of society and illustrating their solutions through Krsna consciousness.
Visnu-jana Svami, an initiated disciple of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Prabhupada, accepted the renounced order of life (sannyasa) from His Divine Grace in July of 1970. He has traveled extensively on preaching engagements throughout the southern United States and is now touring with IS KCON's First Transcendental Exposition. The title "svami" denotes one who is able to expertly control his senses by engaging them in the service of Krsna.
Graph 1—the spiritualization of the outcast society
I. The outcast subculture in a competitive society
A. The member of the poverty-stricken subculture, who is often born in a family disoriented from a former culture, receives inadequate instructions regarding education, language, social standards, and personal hygiene; and he is therefore unable to compete with the oriented class.
B. The educational system makes it obvious to the child that he is trapped in an inferior group. Thus, although the outcast desperately seeks a defense, there is nothing available but to obscure himself in his defeat.
C. The adorable standards of the oriented society dangle just beyond his reach, and everyone outside of the depressed community appears happy to him.
D. The youth market is full of useless commodities that are an incentive to competitive desire amongst children. Thus money for the purpose of facilitating the animal propensities of eating, sleeping, mating, and defending becomes an item of envy, and spiritual culture is neglected. The youth market encourages everyone to increase his animal propensities, and thus one's senses are totally agitated and one's mind has no peace. The fever of sense gratification prevents human energy from being engaged to solve the real problems of life, namely how to get free from the entanglement of repeated birth and death in ignorance, lust, and illusion regarding the real nature of the pure spiritual self, which is beyond the purview of the body and mind. The result is complete body consciousness. Girls dress in an overly attractive fashion. Alcohol, drugs, frivolous sports, and many more anomalies than we could possibly list become prominent in an atmosphere of material knowledge devoid of moral and spiritual culture. No amount of money is ever enough to cool this feverish mentality. Thus the bewildered children are sent to the slaughterhouse of this age under the noses of ignorant parents, teachers, and religionists.
E. Due to a sense of inferiority and frustration, the social outcaste accepts his role as a useless member of a useless society and indulges in gross bodily intoxicants and other forms of sense gratification. His mind becomes absorbed in a bodily concept of life that is full of temporary racial designations and superficial family relationships. As he becomes more and more attached to what little he has, he fearfully looks forward towards death, which, after the slow processes of old age and disease, finally takes everything from him.
F. As he grows older his pessimism increases. As he considers his hard struggle for existence, he feels cheated by society and its God. His intelligence remains bewildered until he is carried to a hospital to die, where he then meets the technologically advanced society that all his life has depressed him both spiritually and materially. Even in the face of a lifetime of defeat, he struggles against death until he is overcome by the laws of death and rebirth and is thus taken to his next body, which is better or worse according to his life's activities. His mind remains surcharged with worldly attachments, and according to the degree of his lust for over-lordship of the things of the world and according to the reactions of his pious or impious work, he is awarded a body suitable for pursuit of his mistaken interests. In most cases he returns to the animal kingdom, and his human mission of liberation is defeated.
II. Solutions to poverty in social structure
A. The leaders and intelligent class must, first of all, be trained regarding the real need of poverty-stricken people.
B. Huge exposition tents must be erected in slum areas, where devotees will invite all members of the area to join in day and night group sessions. Speakers in various languages will explain the philosophy of Krsna consciousness and its universal applications as a yoga system for complete purification. There will be chanting of the names of the Lord from every faith with nice musical accompaniment and refreshments of vegetarian food offered to the Lord in a spiritual atmosphere.
C. A devotee will visit the homes of the oppressed. He will give instructions in hygiene, and by his example the devotee will engage the family in reorienting the house as necessary to set up a simple, useful, and spiritual atmosphere with the central interest of the entire family centered on the altar.
D. Hygiene begins with regulation of life, and therefore the devotee will introduce the interested family to the following schedule:
4 am. The entire family will arise, and all its members will bathe and mark their bodies as temples of God.
5 am. After bathing, the family will gather before the altar and then bow and offer prayers to the Lord and His pure devotees to ask for their help to execute life's mission. During the prayer the mother will have made a nice offering of fruit and yogurt with some grain cereal. As it is direct service to the Lord, the family will be taught a beautiful ceremony for offering tokens of devotion. The total diet will consist of beautiful yet inexpensive preparations made with grains, fruits, vegetables, and milk products. The devotee will instruct the family in devotional cookery.
6 am. After chanting individually, the family members will eat together, and the devotee will narrate the wonderful activities of the Lord.
6:30. Philosophy for adults and stories for the children.
7:30. Cleaning the house (spotlessly) as a temple of God (lots of chanting while cleaning). The husband goes to work (see section E).
8:30. Wife and children take more prasadam (spiritual food).
9:30. Children over five are taken to the ashram. (see Graph No. 2) Children under five are taken by the mother and a woman devotee to a large grassy yard, and along with other mothers and children, they chant the glories of the Lord. If sufficient provisions are made by city planners, there can be small calves that will run loose, and milk can be churned into butter. The children will be taught to collect flowers and string them into garlands to decorate the home temple, etc.
12 noon. Mothers and children return home. Children eat and take rest for three hours, while mother and devotee garden, cook for evening prasadam, and decorate the temple.
3 pm. Older children return home and younger children awaken. All shower and mark their bodies as temples of God. Prasadam is then offered with another beautiful ceremony and with ecstatic chanting; and then prasadam is eaten.
4 pm. Devotee teaches how to enact plays and dramas on the glories of the Lord.
5 pm. Father returns and showers. The whole family chants and offers him prasadam and sees to his comfort. Seeing his family increasing its love for God, the father becomes pleased.
6 pm. The whole family, chanting and carrying prasadam to neighboring houses, goes for a walk around the block.
7 pm. Six or seven families gather together for evening festivities, puppet shows, plays depicting the pastimes of the Lord, chanting, dancing, and eating prasadam.
8:30. Younger children take rest, and adults plan upcoming activities for glorification of the Lord.
9:30. All take rest for six or seven hours.
E. Attitudes of work.
1. Work means sacrifice and, in this connection, sacrifice for the Lord. The man will be trained in the principles of Bhagavad-gita, and his work will be karma-yoga of bhakti-yoga. He will understand that he is working for the Lord, for whom he has dedicated his wife, family, and house. Thus he will also consider it his duty to see that his family can nicely serve the Lord, and he will provide for them on behalf of the Lord. Also, because of the morning worship service, he will be fixed in the real goal of life—self-realization—and thus be unaffected by the frequent upheavals of the working world.
2. Even in his occupational dealings, he will not falsely identify himself or others with the business world, but will consider everyone part and parcel of the Lord. He will therefore represent the Lord in all his dealings and work for the highest good of society.
F. Union leaders can institute meditative prayer and devotional songs to satisfy workers rather than superficial music. At noon, all the workers can attend a service in the business temple and eat prasadam together. Men who take part in this program will naturally come to take an interest in city planning for the glorification of the Lord and will thus become responsible citizens.
G. Workers will divide their pay—50% for spiritual activities and the rest for family maintenance.
Graph 2—The so-called affluent society
I. Spiritual poverty in the affluent society
A. The child born into prosperous conditions is high in standards of bodily hygiene, while at the same time his mind is perverted by manifold designations and prejudices. He learns to despise the poorer sections of society, and he develops false pride in physical beauty, nationality, and religious sectarianism.
B. The child is encouraged to compete in school for material goals and is punished if he does not defeat his competitors. Only material knowledge is offered in school, and the ignorant student is allured by false promises of fortune and fame into this trap of anxiety.
C. The frustration of his teen years leads to reckless driving, drinking, and drugs, and if he survives these, he then goes on to college and tries to enjoy all that was promised in his youth in the way of comfortable home and family life. His false pride increases, and he tries to impress others with an accumulation of useless commodities. He becomes bound to his false sense of proprietorship of things of this world, and this increases his fear of death, which ultimately takes away all his wealth. He strongly identifies with his extended body (his wife and children), and he hopes that by insurance plans he can continue himself after death through his extended body, the family.
D. All the plans of the materialist are subject to defeat by the changes of nature and by changes in the plans of those upon whom he depends. Therefore his life is fearful. As he grows older he continues to hope for a happy year, but he sees that his body is getting old. Due to a misdirected life of sense enjoyment, he is fearful of disease and despises old age and dependence. He makes a show of new youthfulness by imitating the dress and style of the younger generation, and he becomes falsely happy through intoxicants.
E. The bodily conception degrades him so much that as an elderly man he remains in ignorance of his spiritual self and simply engages in pampering his old and worn-out body. He takes pride in still being able to walk.
F. He becomes more diseased and feeble-minded and at last dies like a dog or cat in the best hospital money can buy.
G. According to his life's activities, he is awarded his next body, and thus his human mission is uselessly spoiled. Thus a lifetime wasted in affluent life is no better than a lifetime wasted in poverty.
II. Krsna Consciousness and the affluent society
A. As devotees gain use of the media, the mass of affluent people will see the practical result of becoming Krsna conscious. They will have the opportunity to meet devotees in their homes or in temples, and in some instances there may be exposition tents erected.
B. As in Graph No. 1, the family members will be reoriented in the real joyful values of life and will reconstruct their home and their attitudes of eating, sleeping, and working.
C. The details of the home schedule are presented in Graph No. 1.
D. Schools should be made available so that at the age of five, children would be able to attend a devotional school, staffed by intelligent men who are qualified devotees of the Lord. The main subject in the school should not differ from that in the home; that is, the criterion of advancement should be how one develops the qualities of a devotee of the Lord. Of course, education in material science would be as complete as it is presently, but it would be God-centered. The laws of nature should be taught to all students, and knowledge of the non-permanence of the body should be instructed. This would infuse everyone with a desire to fulfill his human mission. The Sanskrit Vedas contain complete knowledge of both matter and spirit, so there would be no need for speculative reasoning or misdirected experimentation on innocent animals. The present educational schedule and curriculum could be adapted as follows:
9 am. Assemble for chanting the mantras for deliverance.
9:30 Philosophy of life class. Students will learn and discuss.
11:30 All gather for offering prasadam and take noon meal.
1) Subjects will remain as they are now, but with new emphasis on the Lord and upon spiritual development.
2) Sanskrit will be taught along with the national language.
3) History would center largely around the appearances of the Lord and His representatives throughout the ages and throughout the universes.
4) Agrarian culture and utilization of the gifts of nature for the service of the Lord would flavor every subject with practical applications.
5) Extra-curricular activities would include the following:
a) Cooking prasadam for the noon offering.
b) Learning musical accompaniment for prayers and chanting.
c) Staging festivals and dramas to teach the public the glories of the Lord.
d) Applying all kinds of arts and crafts, even military, in the service of the Lord.
6) Competitive sporting would vanish as children experience that the Lord is the only one they need to satisfy.
7) Since there are always two paths in life, the path of sense enjoyment and the path of devotional service to the Lord, children must be given all information to make the best use of this short life for their real mission.
One such school is now functioning in Dallas, Texas, and for further details, please inquire from: Gurukula, 5430 Gurley Street, Dallas, Texas 75219
New York: Summer 1966
When I first met my spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, I felt that there was never a time when I did not know him. I never tire of telling of my first meeting with him on the streets of Lower East Side New York. At the time, I was hurrying from my Mott Street apartment, which had become a refuge for psychedeliacs, to a much quieter apartment on Fifth Street where I hoped to get some peace. I was walking down Houston Street and across Bowery, past the rushing traffic and stumbling derelicts, and after crossing Bowery, just before Second Avenue, I saw His Divine Grace jauntily strolling down the sidewalk, his head high in the air, his hand in a beadbag. He struck me like a famous actor in a very familiar movie. He seemed ageless, though later I found out that he was seventy years old. He was wearing the traditional saffron colored robes of a sannyasi, the renounced order, and quaint white shoes with points. Coming down Houston Street, he looked like the genie that popped out of Aladdin's lamp. I was fresh from a trip to India, and His Divine Grace reminded me of the many holy men I had recently seen walking the dirt roads of Hardwar and Rishikesh and bathing in the Ganges. I had gone to India to look for a guru but had returned disappointed. It was on this bright July morning, when I was least expecting it, that Sri Krsna, out of His infinite mercy, sent guru to me. The old Vedic adage—by the grace of Krsna you get guru, and by the grace of guru you get Krsna—was justified. Afterwards, Srila Prabhupada (as we were later to call him) often told me, "If you are sincere, you don't have to search out your guru. Krsna will send him." So amid the hot clang and clamor of Houston and Bowery, guru had found me out.
We stopped simultaneously, and I asked the first question that popped into my mind—"Are you from India?"—and he smiled cordially. "Oh, yes, and you?" I told him no, but that I had just returned from India and that I was very interested in his country and Hindu philosophy. He then told me that he had come from Calcutta and had been in New York almost ten months. His eyes were as fresh and as cordial as a child's, and even standing before the trucks that roared and bumbled their way down Houston Street, he emanated a cool tranquility that was unshakably established in something far beyond the great metropolis that roared around us. He answered all my questions readily, as though speaking a dialogue he was well acquainted with. I told him about my India trip briefly, and he asked me if I had been to Vrndavana. "I didn't get a chance to," I told him. "I got sick on the food and had to leave."
He then informed me that he had a place around the corner where he was planning to hold some classes and that he had been wondering whether or not it was suitable. I walked around the corner with him, and he pointed out a small storefront building between First and Second Streets, next door to a Mobil filling station It had been a curiosity shop, and someone had painted the words "Matchless Gifts" over the outside door. At the time I didn't realize how prophetic the words were. "This is a good area?" he asked me. I told him that I thought it was. I had no idea what he was going to offer in his "classes," but I knew that all my friends would be glad that an Indian swami was moving into the neighborhood. For the past two or three years, like so many downtown New Yorkers in their twenties, we had been reading books on Eastern philosophy and religion, burning lots of candles and incense and taking ganja, peyote and LSD as aids to meditation. Actually it was more intoxication than meditation; meditation was a euphemism that somehow connected our highs with our readings. "I would like to hear your lectures," I told him, after reassuring him that the storefrontwas suitable. I noticed a placard in the window that read: "Lectures on Bhagavad-gita. A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. Mon. Wed. Fri. 7-9."
"You will bring your friends?" he asked.
"Yes," I promised. "Monday evening."
I forget the rest of the conversation, but I do remember afterwards telling everyone I knew about the guru who had inexplicably appeared in our midst.
I attended the first meeting in the little storefront with two of my friends who were later to be initiated as Kirtanananda and Umapati. I was surprised to see half a dozen people there. The storefront was narrow and squalid. There was no rug on the wooden floors and no decorations save one painting in the window of Lord Caitanya dancing with His disciples. Years later I was to find out that this was painted by an artist who had been given a small picture by Srila Prabhupada to use as a model for a larger canvas.
The only additions to the plain storefront were little straw mats for sitting. At the rear were two windows, a bathroom door and an unattractive sink. In the middle of the room a bare lightbulb hung from a cord. Umapati, Kirtanananda and I sat in the middle of the room and looked around at a half dozen other young men who, like us, didn't know what to expect. We sat quietly and waited for about five minutes. Then the door opened and out came His Divine Grace. He deftly slid the white pointed shoes off his feet, sat down on one of the straw mats and looked out at his new audience. When he saw me he smiled. "You have brought your friends?" I said, "Yes." "Very good," he said and took out a pair of cymbals. He started to play them and sing "Vande 'ham" and then Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. He indicated that we were to answer the chanting of Hare Krsna, and slowly, awkwardly at first, we tried to follow. There were no other instruments—only the clanging of three pairs of cymbals. Eventually we started clapping, but no one got up to dance. I noticed that about a dozen people had gathered outside the window to watch, most of them derelicts and Puerto Ricans. Srila Prabhupada finally brought the chanting to a close and recited a prayer. Nobody bowed. Nobody knew what to do. We all simply sat in anticipation.
Then he began his lecture, using Bhagavad-gita. I recall that in those early lectures he spoke mainly in terms of Absolute Truth to better communicate with us. No one had the slightest idea what "Krsna" meant. I had read Gita before, and so had my friends, but to us Krsna, at most, was just a literary personification of the Divine, a characterization of Sankaracarya's Self. At that first meeting I had some difficulty understanding what Srila Prabhupada said, but his words nonetheless moved me, and I was interested to hear more. I noticed that my friends were also listening attentively, and most of the others seemed to show respect. Then, incredibly, midway through the lecture, an old white-haired begrizzled Bowery bum entered the storefront and walked right through the middle of the room, past all of us who sat in shocked silence, and on up towards Srila Prabhupada, who sat beneath the back windows. I didn't know what he was about to do, but I noticed that he was carrying a package of paper handtowels and a couple of rolls of toilet paper. He didn't say a word, but walked right past Srila Prabhupada and carefully placed the hand-towels by the sink and the toilet paper on the floor under the sink. Then, clearing his throat and saying something incoherent, he turned around and walked out. No one knew what to say and no one knew whether or not Srila Prabhupada had been insulted.
"Just see," Srila Prabhupada suddenly said. "He has just begun his devotional service. That is the process. Whatever we have—it doesn't matter what—we must offer it for Krsna's service."
He then concluded his lecture and led another chanting of Hare Krsna. The first chanting lasted forty-five minutes, his lecture lasted at least an hour, and the second chanting lasted around thirty minutes. A couple of people left after the lecture. Americans are simply not accustomed to sitting on the floor for over two hours. After the second kirtana, Srila Prabhupada sliced up an apple and passed it to us on a plate. While this was being distributed, he went out the side door and returned to his apartment in the rear building. I noticed a basket on the front mat in which some people had put a little money. I contributed fifty cents, and then my friends and I left. On our way out one of the boys told us that the next meeting would be Wednesday at seven o'clock but that Srila Prabhupada would also welcome people in his rear apartment during the day.
We attended the next meeting Wednesday night. It followed the same format as the first. After the last kirtana, I went up to Srila Prabhupada and began to question him.
"Have you ever heard of LSD?" I asked.
"No," he said.
"It's a psychedelic drug that comes like a pill, and if you take it you can get religious ecstasies. Do you think that that can help my spiritual life?"
"You don't need to take anything for your spiritual life," he told me. "Your spiritual life is already here."
I agreed with him immediately, though I would have never agreed with anyone else who would have said such a thing. I agreed mainly because he seemed so absolutely positive that there was no question of not agreeing. "Yes, my spiritual life is here," I thought to myself. I knew that he was in a state of exalted consciousness, and I was hoping that somehow he could teach the process to me.
The next morning I went around to his apartment to see him alone. He welcomed me in and told me that he needed help in spreading this philosophy. I noticed that he was typing, and I asked if I could be of any help there. I was a very good typist, and not knowing any other way to help, offered my services. He handed me the first chapter of the Second Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam and asked if I could type it out. I set up a typewriter in his room and began to work.
I typed most of the morning and then told him that if there was any more typing he needed done, to let me know, that I would be glad to take it home. "Oh, I have lots more," he said, opening his closet door and pulling out two huge bundles of paper tied with saffron cloth. There were thousands of pages in the bundles. I was astounded. It looked like a lifetime of typing.
Early Morning Meetings
The next week, which was the first week in a sultry New York August, a time when the air hangs so hot and heavy that it obscures the tops of buildings with a yellow mist, Srila Prabhupada received a box of handbills which had been donated by a friend. There must have been five thousand of them, and they read: "Practice the transcendental sound vibration Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This chanting will cleanse the dust from the mirror of the mind." Then Srila Prabhupada's name was given and the name of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, 26 Second Avenue, and the times of the meetings—7:00 a.m. daily and 7:00 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. At the bottom of the sheet was the invitation: "You are cordially invited to come and bring your friends." "There they are," Srila Prabhupada told us. "Now you simply have to distribute." I took a handful of the bills. "You think they're all right?" he asked me. I told him I thought they were fine. "We will call our society ISKCON," he then told us, smiling.
"What's that?" I asked.
"I-S-K-C-O-N," he spelled the letters out. "ISKCON—International Society for Krishna Consciousness." Then he laughed. He was obviously having fun.
It was also in early August that we began attending the early morning meetings. None of us had ever gotten up before ten or eleven in the morning, but the magnetism of Srila Prabhupada drew us out of our dark Mott Street dens at 6:30 and down from fifth floor apartments into deserted Lower East Side streets. I would walk briskly over to Srila Prabhupada's, chanting Hare Krsna and feeling better than ever before. Miraculously the Lower East Side no longer looked drab. The sidewalks and buildings seemed to sparkle, and in the early morning, before the smog set in, the sky was red and golden. I would sing all the way to his front foyer then ring the buzzer marked A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, and the door would buzz and open, and I would go through the hallway on through the small patio between the back apartment and the storefront and up to his small second floor apartment, tip-toeing quietly in order not to awaken the neighbors.
Those early morning meetings were the most beautiful and most intimate. "Softly," he would say, just lightly touching the cymbals together, and we would barely touch our hands to clap. He would chant "samsara-davanala-lidha-loka" with his eyes closed and sit in the rays of sun that streamed through the windows in the early morning. We would listen, entranced, then join in response to Hare Krsna. Afterwards he would give a copy of Bhagavad-gita to one of us and would have us read the Sanskrit transliterations, correcting our mispronunciations, and then the text. Then he would begin to explain each verse thoroughly. There were only six or eight of us at these meetings, so we had ample opportunity to discuss the philosophy with him. I often felt that I knew very little about what was being said, and because of this I sometimes wondered why I kept returning. But gradually it seemed that I was just becoming addicted to sitting and listening to him. Actually, by Krsna's mercy, I had nothing else to do. I had returned from India with practically no money, and though I hadn't worked for over a year, I wasn't even interested in looking for a job. I did have a feeling, however, that the Bhagavad-gita was a key to a larger consciousness of which I could somehow partake. I desperately wanted a teacher to lead me into a world which I knew existed and which I felt was very near to me, yet somehow could not reach.
Shortly after we distributed the handbills, Srila Prabhupada informed us that he would like to go out into one of the parks to chant. This surprised us all, and after conferring we decided that Washington Square was the best place. It was on a Sunday, when Washington Square is most crowded, that we followed Srila Prabhupada down the sidestreets of the Lower East Side to the park. There must have been about ten of us then, and I remember the stares Srila Prabhupada's saffron robe, beadbag and pointed white shoes received. It was almost like following a Martian down the street. Somehow he floated through it all, seemingly unaware of the stares, comments and general sensation he was creating.
We walked through the Sunday crowds of Washington Square, and finally Srila Prabhupada chose a place to sit down on the grass next to teenagers who were kissing and playing bongo drums. There was a sign that said "Keep Off the Grass," but everyone ignored it. Srila Prabhupada pulled up his robes and sat comfortably and solidly upon the ground, and we followed suit self-consciously. He played a pair of cymbals and led us chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
By that time one of us had acquired a small drum and managed to follow Srila Prabhupada's rhythm. We chanted about three minutes and immediately a crowd gathered around us. I remember one sailor who listened for a few seconds then threw his cigarette to the ground and huffed, "What the hell is this?" Very quickly the police swooped down on us, and one of the policemen asked who was in charge of our group. We could only indicate Srila Prabhupada. The policeman turned to him and said, "Don't you see the sign?" Srila Prabhupada looked again at the "Keep Off the Grass" sign, then smiled charmingly and walked down onto the asphalt. We followed him and asked if he wanted someone to run back to the temple to get a rug, but he said "No," and once more sat down firmly, this time on the hot asphalt, and we sat in a circle around him. We chanted Hare Krsna for about thirty minutes, and the crowd thickened. No one joined in the chant. They were all perplexed. It was the first time that sankirtana had been held before the public in America. After the chanting, Srila Prabhupada told me to read his preface to Srimad-Bhagavatam to the people who had assembled. I remember reading the passage:
"Disparity in the human society is due to the basic principle of a godless civilization. There is God or the Almighty One from whom everything emanates and by whom everything is merged to rest. The material scientist is trying to find out the ultimate source of creation very insufficiently, but it is a fact that there is one ultimate source of everything that be. This ultimate source is explained rationally and authoritatively in the beautiful Bhagavatam or Srimad-Bhagavatam."
When reading this passage, I did not recognize my own voice, for it seemed to me that a larger voice was speaking through me. The kirtana, which was the first that any of us had ever attended in public, had a strangely exhilarating effect on us all. We felt divinely intoxicated, and I marvelled at the unusual power of the mantra when chanted publicly. Actually Lord Caitanya specifically recommended sankirtana, or the public chanting of Hare Krsna amidst many people, for this age of chaos (Kali).
After the kirtana, we asked Srila Prabhupada whether he thought our public performance successful. He was so happy with it that he requested that we go out every afternoon and chant in the streets and parks. Following his request, about six or eight of us would walk around the Village in the afternoon and even up and down the narrow streets of Chinatown, playing a bongo drum and cymbals and chanting the magic mantra. We must have looked pretty ragged, and I'm sure we didn't make much of an impression, but there was lots of spirit. Despite our bumbling selves, Srila Prabhupada had launched Lord Caitanya's sankirtana movement in the Western world.
Tusta Krsna dasa
My dear Lord Sri Krsna,
Beneath this frigid coldness, though,
500 years ago You came
You came as Sri Krsna Caitanya,
My dear Sri Krsna Caitanya,
O merciful expansion,
The most sublime opportunity
Now, as Your lowly servants
With the dawning of each day
And though our hearts be cold and black,
O most merciful incarnation,
Lord Sri Krsna Caitanya
When He descended upon this planet
With Him came Gadadhara,
He came upon this earth
And by His perfect example
Surrender to Krsna means
Further surrender entails
Accepting things which are favorable
By developing these humble processes
For such a serious soul
We should therefore follow in the footsteps
Directly descending from Lord Caitanya,
To Lord Sri Krsna Caitanya
For one who surrenders thusly
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Lord Caitanya says that one should always try to associate with saintly persons because if one establishes a proper association with a saintly person, even for a moment, he attains all perfection. Somehow or other, if one meets a saintly person and achieves his favor, then the whole mission of his human life is fulfilled. In our personal experience we have actual proof of this statement. Once we had the opportunity to meet Visnupada Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja and on first sight he requested this humble self to preach his message in the Western countries. There was no preparation for this, but somehow or other he desired it, and by his grace we are now engaged in executing his order, which has given us a transcendental occupation and has saved and liberated us from the occupation of material activities. Thus it is actually a fact that if one meets a saintly person completely engaged in transcendental duties and achieves his favor, then one's life mission becomes complete. What is not possible to achieve in thousands of lives can be achieved in one moment if there is an opportunity to meet a saintly person. It is therefore enjoined in Vedic literature that one should always try to associate with saintly persons and try to disassociate oneself from the common man because by one word of a saintly person one can be liberated from material entanglement. A saintly person has the power, because of his spiritual advancement, to give immediate liberation to the conditioned soul.
The perfection of transcendental life can be achieved simply by touching the holy dust of the lotus feet of a holy man. In the Bhagavatam it is said that one must be blessed by the holy dust of the lotus feet of a mahat, a great devotee. As stated in Bhagavad-gita, those who are great souls are under the spell of spiritual energy, and their symptom is that they are called mahat. Unless one is fortunate enough to have the dust of the lotus feet of a mahatma on his head, there is no possibility of perfection in spiritual life.
The system of disciplic succession is very important as a means of spiritual success. One becomes a mahat by the grace of his mahat spiritual master. If one takes shelter of the lotus feet of a great soul, there is every possibility of his also becoming a great soul. When Maharaja Dhruva asked Narada about his achievement of spiritual success, he replied to the king that spiritual success is not possible simply by following the rituals of religion or simply by converting oneself into a sannyasi or offering sacrifices as recommended in the scriptures. These methods are undoubtedly helpful for spiritual realization, but the real effect is brought about by the grace of a mahatma. In Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur's eight stanzas of prayer to the spiritual master, it is clearly stated that simply by satisfying the spiritual master one can achieve the supreme success in life, and in spite of executing all ritualistic performances, if one cannot satisfy the spiritual master, he has no access to spiritual perfection.
Because the common man is unable to control the senses and the mind, it is therefore his duty to seek the shelter of a great soul or a great devotee of the Lord and just try to please him. That will make his life perfect. A common man cannot rise to the topmost stage of spiritual perfection simply by following the rituals and religious principles. He has to take shelter of a bona fide spiritual master and work under his direction faithfully and sincerely; then he becomes perfect, without a doubt.
Srila Rupa Gosvami has given directions, in his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, on how to accept a bona fide spiritual master and how to deal with him. First, the desiring candidate must find a bona fide spiritual master, and then he must very eagerly receive instructions from him and execute them. This is reciprocal service. A bona fide spiritual master or saintly person always desires to elevate a common man who comes to him. Because everyone is under the delusion of maya and is forgetful of his prime duty, Krsna consciousness, a saintly person always desires that everyone become a saintly person. It is the function of a saintly person to invoke Krsna consciousness in every forgetful common man.
The bona fide disciple considers himself lucky to receive the message of Krsna consciousness by aural reception. One should be very inquisitive to hear with open ears from the authorized source of the bona fide spiritual master. How is one to receive? One should receive the transcendental message by aural reception. The favor of the spiritual master is not received through any other part of the body but the ears. This does not mean, however, that the spiritual master gives a particular type of mantra in exchange for some dollars and if the man meditates on that then he achieves perfection and becomes God within six months. Such aural reception is bogus. The real fact is that a bona fide spiritual master knows the nature of a particular man and what sort of duties he can perform in Krsna consciousness, and he instructs him in that way. He instructs him through the ear, not privately, but publicly. "You are fit for such and such work in Krsna consciousness. You can act in this way." One person is advised to act in Krsna consciousness by working in the Deity room, another is advised to act in Krsna consciousness by performing editorial work, another is advised to carry out Krsna consciousness in the cooking department. There are different departments of activity in Krsna consciousness, and a spiritual master, knowing the particular ability of a particular man, trains him in such a way that by his tendency to act he becomes perfect. Bhagavad-gita makes it clear that one can attain the highest perfection of spiritual life simply by offering service according to his ability just as Arjuna served Krsna by his ability in the military art. Arjuna offered his service fully as a military man, and he became perfect. Similarly, an artist can attain perfection simply by performing artistic work under the direction of the spiritual master. If one is a literary man, he can write articles and poetry for the service of the Lord under the direction of the spiritual master. One has to receive the message of the spiritual master regarding how to act in one's capacity, for the spiritual master is expert in giving such instructions.
This combination, the instruction of the spiritual master and the faithful execution of the instruction by the disciple, makes the entire process perfect. Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur describes in his explanation of the verse in Bhagavad-gita, vyavasayatmika buddhih, that one who wants to be certain to achieve spiritual success must take the instruction from the spiritual master as to what his particular function is. He should faithfully try to execute that particular instruction and should consider that his life and soul. The faithful execution of the instruction which he receives from the spiritual master is the only duty of a disciple, and that will bring him perfection. One should be very careful to receive the message from the spiritual master through the ears and execute it faithfully. That will make one's life successful.
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.
President, Boston Temple
40 North Beacon Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02134
I hope you won't think me impudent, but I'm sincerely interested to hear from you just what benefit you think my family will derive from Michael's being a devotee that we could not know or have if he lived as a clean, helpful, religious and good person outside of the temple of devotees. You would be very helpful if you would tell me in your own words this answer. I have read much of your literature, but I lack the means to comprehend what you or any of the literature means when you say that my family will benefit.
I was rather shocked by an article I read in a magazine printed in San Diego concerning your organization. It said that a California publishing company was purchasing the rights to publish Back to Godhead magazine. This in effect means that somebody will be commercializing on what started out as an idealistic concept. To add insult to injury, this article told about a combine of marketing people who will be putting out articles of clothing to resemble "The Krsna Look," just as in past years "The Hippie Look" or the "Nehru Look" were commercialized upon.
Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
Dear Mrs. Logan,
Please accept my greetings. Hare Krsna. I have received your letter, and I am glad that you are interested in the potency of Krsna consciousness. Let me tell you that in the authorized Vedic scriptures it is said that if one becomes a staunch devotee of the Lord, he liberates generations of his parents who came before him, as well as those who will come after him in that family. You have asked how your son's becoming a devotee will benefit you and your family. The answer is that each one of us after death will take another life according to the work we've done in this life. As long as we are not in pure love of God, which is very rare, we must come back to take another material body, and if we have committed sinful activities we may be forced to take a body of a lower animal, or, just as described in the Christian religion, we may have to go to a hellish planet. However, on the strength of his offspring's being a pure devotee, a parent caught in a hellish condition will be liberated from suffering. In other words, your son can liberate any of his family members who are in a fallen or difficult position. Thus by the virtue of his being a devotee, the whole family can enter the spiritual world where life is eternal. That is the potency of Krsna consciousness. Aside from these eternal facts, you say that Michael may have become a clean, helpful, religious and good person living outside the temple of devotees. If you value these things—cleanliness, religion and morality—then why object that Michael has entered an institution where these principles are the very way of life and where he is assured of remaining always pure and religious because his activities, all day long, twenty-four hours a day, are in the service of God? It may be possible that outside of the association of devotees one can also be clean and religious, but it is more difficult due to contact with persons who are interested in illicit sex, intoxication and too much sense gratification and who are missing the real point of life—to realize God. In the association of devotees, Michael's position as clean and religious is assured, and you should also feel assured of his safety and know that he will not fall prey to the immoral vices which are widespread in modern civilization. Moreover, he is doing the topmost welfare work in trying to teach others about their relationship with God. Krsna consciousness is not sectarian; it is an authorized science of God. This is understood by persons who know the real essence of religion.
I do not know anything about the article in a San Diego magazine you referred to regarding our organization's selling the rights to publish Back to Godhead But I do know that this is not a fact. I am an editor of Back to Godhead, and there is no such negotiation underway. Back to Godhead is completely controlled by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness just to present our philosophy to the mass of people who are in forgetfulness of Krsna. There is no plan underway to sell any rights. As for businessmen selling clothing resembling the clothing devotees wear, under the name of the "Krsna Look," that may be. I do not know. If there is imitation, it is a sign that this movement is having an effect on the consciousness of the people. Now, if they will only start imitating by chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, then, even if they have impure motives, the face of the whole world will change, and there will be peace and real prosperity. I have no objection to your asking questions about Krsna consciousness, and if you wish to ask further please feel free to write.
Yours in the service of my spiritual master,
"When one is enlightened with the knowledge by which nescience is destroyed, then his knowledge reveals everything, as the sun lights up everything in the daytime." Bhagavad-gita, 5.16
Sometimes just a few carefully chosen words can change our whole outlook. We may have had the experience of hearing or reading even a short passage of poetry or prose that carries such deep import that it touches the heart and moves us to act. A powerful slogan can influence millions of people to rally in support of a political cause, and the mention of a girl's name may trigger a flood of poignant memories.
Transcendental sound acts in a similar way, but in relationship to the spirit soul. We have a very intimate and loving relationship with the Supreme Person, Krsna, but somehow (inexplicably) we've forgotten this relationship in the endless complications of time. When we hear the transcendental sound "Krsna," our memory is gradually revived. Say this sound to yourself: Krsna.
The soul is like a sleeping man. When a man sleeps at night, he forgets his real life to wander in a world of dreams. Similarly, the soul has a real life of eternal bliss and knowledge, but when the soul falls asleep, he wanders in the dreamland which we now call "the real world." As a sleeping man can be called back to consciousness when he hears the sound of his name, so the dormant spirit soul is stirred to transcendental life by the vibration of the name Krsna.
Hare Krsna is a transcendental sound. We do not need to make any mental or intellectual adjustments to understand it. Simply by chanting, one can understand what chanting is. The sweet feeling that devotees of Krsna relish by chanting Hare Krsna is like the taste of honey. The only way to appreciate the taste of honey is to taste it, and similarly the way to appreciate the transcendental sound Krsna is to chant it. We can write doctoral theses about honey or chemically analyze it, but if we want to understand it we have to taste the honey itself. Speculating about Krsna is like licking a bottle of honey—one must open the bottle and taste the honey itself, not just lick the jar.
Devotees of Krsna take great pleasure in chanting the name of Krsna and in describing His transcendental form, qualities and pastimes. This is described in Bhagavad-gita, where Lord Krsna says, "My devotees derive great transcendental satisfaction and bliss from enlightening one another and conversing about Me." Krsna is the reservoir of pleasure, and pure devotees of Krsna are always swimming in this transcendental reservoir.
Only Krsna can fully satisfy the spirit soul because the soul craves an eternal relationship. If we have a sweet relationship with someone, we do not want it to end. We want the love we treasure to go on and on. "A diamond is forever." But in the material world all relationships, no matter how sweet, must come to an end, just as dreams do. Friends, relatives and lovers are brought together for some time and then separated again, like seaweed in the ocean or chessmen on a playing board.
Chanting Hare Krsna can give us real satisfaction because it revives our eternal relationship with Krsna. It is not mechanical or ritualistic. Our love for Krsna is sleeping, but the transcendental vibration of Hare Krsna knocks on the door of the heart and arouses this dormant love. This love, when awakened, is vibrant, alive personal. It is not theoretical or scholastic. The devotee of Krsna if filled with appreciation of the beauty of Krsna, the mercy of Krsna, the greatness of Krsna and all of Krsna's transcendental qualities, and therefore he is absorbed in love of Krsna, and he wants to serve Him forever and glorify Him constantly.
Just as a code word can revive distant memories by reference to a context, so there are different transcendental stimuli which can potently act to revive our dormant Krsna consciousness. The most important of these stimuli are hearing and chanting about Krsna.
If one hears about Krsna from a pure devotee of Krsna, he can become enlightened in Krsna consciousness. A pure devotee always speaks on the basis of authoritative scriptural references, end because he has personally realized the subject matter, when he speaks the audience is infused with transcendental inspiration. Hearing about Krsna from scholars or professional reciters will not produce the same effect. One should hear about Krsna from the right person.
On the transcendental platform, there is no difference between Krsna and His name or His glories. Materially, this is not so. If we say the name "water," the name alone is not enough to quench our thirst. The name water and the substance water are different. But there is no difference between the name Krsna and the person Krsna. Krsna is personally present when we chant His names.
This is a matter of realization. Krsna is present in His name, but we have to realize it. This realization is not cheap, but it will come to one who sincerely chants Hare Krsna. It is gradual. The first symptoms of such realization are a feeling of bliss and an urge to dance along with the chanting. Gradually, by chanting, the devotee feels the personal presence of Krsna more and more. The devotees of the Hare Krsna movement chant Hare Krsna all day long, and there are many devotees who have been in the movement for several years. They always chant the name Krsna over and over, but they do not feel boredom or monotony. They feel ever-increasing transcendental bliss, and this is why they keep chanting. Discussion about Krsna is also not different from Krsna. By hearing talks about Krsna, one will gradually realize the presence of Krsna. By hearing about Krsna one becomes blissful and enlightened in Krsna consciousness.
Topics about Krsna are an ocean of bliss, ano the depth of that ocean is unlimited. Since Krsna is unlimited, His name, form, qualities and pastimes are also unlimited. That is why Krsna consciousness is the profoundest philosophy in the world. Once Lord Caitanya was explaining a verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam, a Vedic literature that describes the pastimes of Krsna, and for one word alone He gave sixty different explanations. "Srimad-Bhagavatam is the representation of the Supreme Lord Krsna," He explained. "Therefore Srimad-Bhagavatam is not different from Krsna. So, as Krsna is unlimited, similarly in each word and each letter of Srimad-Bhagavatam there are unlimited meanings, and one can understand them by association with devotees."
When we hear about Krsna in association with devotees, we begin to realize that we have a relationship with Krsna. This realization comes from Krsna Himself. Krsna is in the heart of everyone, and when He sees that someone is sincerely hearing about Him in association with devotees, from within He purifies the hearer and bestows upon him transcendental knowledge and bliss. If we could travel at the speed of the mind for thousands of years, still we could not reach Krsna by mental speculation. Krsna cannot be conquered by the mind. But Krsna is pleased to reveal Himself to a sincere devotee.
"Krsna freely moves with His friends as a cowherd boy in Vrndavana." This is just one line from Teachings of Lord Caitanya, a book on the science of Krsna by our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. By casually reading these words once, we may not catch anything beyond the ordinary, but if we examine them carefully, we will find a wealth of transcendental knowledge about God that has not previously been available to us.
Krsna means God, but the name means more than that. "God" is a title, like President. God is the supreme controller. Everyone is a controller to some extent—we control our children, our wife, our friends, or a cat or dog—and the supreme controller, who controls everyone else, is called God. But God has a name also, just as the President has a name. If we know the chief executive as "Mr. President," this is certainly a relationship with the President, but his intimate associates know him on a first-name basis. "President" is the post, but ultimately the President is a person.
So although Krsna is God, the conception of Krsna is higher than that of God. The word "God" only refers to a fragment of His opulence. Knowledge of Krsna is higher knowledge because Krsna means "All-attractive."
How is He all-attractive? He is the most beautiful, the most strong, the most famous, the most wealthy, the most renounced and the most intelligent of all persons. He can attract the whole world by His transcendental pastimes.
God is the controller of everything, but His main business is enjoyment. God is the supreme enjoyer. How does He enjoy? Simply by His desire He has expanded an entire spiritual world, where everything is blissful and eternal. This spiritual abode is called Goloka Vrndavana.
Goloka Vrndavana is a planet in the spiritual world, and it is shaped like a gigantic lotus flower. In Vrndavana there are beautiful trees and fields and lakes and rivers. The houses are made of spiritual gems, there are thousands of cows grazing in the fields, and there are beautiful birds like swans, cuckoos and peacocks.
These descriptions are not fanciful or imaginary. They are taken directly from Vedic literatures.* The same Vedic literature which includes the exalted philosophical analyses of the Vedanta-sutra also includes these transcendental descriptions of the spiritual world. The followers of the Vedic principles accept these descriptions as factual on the basis of standard authority.
* cintamani-prakara-sadmasu, etc.
God does not live in a congested metropolis with cars, factories and subways. He lives on an eternal planet shaped like a lotus flower amidst gardens of fruits and flowers. And He is not an old man with a beard, as some people have imagined. Why should God be old? The Vedic literatures inform us, adyam purana-purusam nava-yauvanam ca: "Although He is the oldest person, He has the eternal form of a fresh youth." He is eternally a sixteen-year-old boy.
Krsna, the ocean of the eternal beauty of youth, moves in waves of beauty. His transcendental body never deteriorates, since the Lord is above the jurisdiction of time. His body is of a spiritual dark blue color, and His palms and the soles of His feet are reddish. His feet are so beautiful that they are compared to lotus flowers, and His ankles are decorated by jeweled anklets that jingle as He walks. His dress is bright yellow, like lightning, and He wears a beautiful pearl necklace. A fragrant flower garland decorates His body. In His hands He holds a flute, and by playing on this flute He can attract the minds of all living entities. His face is compared to the moon, and on His head He always wears a peacock feather. His transcendental form is the eternal reservoir of all beauty; from His beauty all other beautiful things emanate.
Krsna plays as a cowherd boy. The Supreme Lord is the supreme controller of the material and spiritual worlds. The sun, the moon and all the planetary systems spin in their orbits under His supervision, as do even the atomic particles. Time, space and activity are all under His control. Everything rests on Him, as pearls are strung on a thread, and not a blade of grass moves without His sanction. But for enjoyment the Lord has invented transcendental informal pastimes as a cowherd boy. He enjoys herding the cows, playing His flute, and playing in the fields with His friends. He gives pleasure to the land, the cows and the senses of all living entities, and therefore He is also called Govinda.
God is not impersonal. He has a form, a name, a home, friends and pastimes, but these are all unlimited. The impersonal idea is arrived at by negative reasoning in the absence of positive knowledge. The impersonalist reasons, "Man has a body, but that body is limited and temporary. So God cannot have a body. Man has a name, but that name is a designation. So God must be nameless." In this way he arrives at the conclusion that God is a formless, nameless, senseless being without qualities and pastimes. In this way the impersonalist, due to a poor fund of knowledge, misses out on the nectar of spiritual life.
The impersonal conception is the beginning of spiritual life, but advanced understanding is personal. In the beginning, by speculation, one can come to understand that God must have no material limitations, such as material form, material name or material qualities. But why should He not have spiritual form, a spiritual name and spiritual qualities? He does.
To say that God is unlimited and then to say that He cannot be a person is contradictory. If God is unlimited, why can't He be a person? He can do whatever He wants. Everyone else is a person—why should God be impersonal? If He is impersonal, how from Him have so many persons come? God must be a person, but He is not a person like us. His name, fame, qualities and pastimes are all blissful, eternal and full of knowledge.
God in His personal form cannot be understood by speculation or hypothesis. Detailed information of the Personality of Godhead can only be understood by hearing it from authorities in disciplic succession. Such knowledge comes down to us by a descending process. Originally God revealed Himself to Brahma, the first created person, and he transmitted this knowledge to his disciple Narada, who transmitted it to his disciple, and in this way the knowledge is passed down intact. It is like the ripe fruit of a tree—if it is handed down carefully from hand to hand from the top of the tree, then it will reach the ground intact, and one can relish the juice. In this way, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is the present representative of an unbroken line of disciplic succession. His teachings do not deviate from those of the previous spiritual masters, and one can verify this claim by consulting the revealed scriptures given by Brahma and others in the line.
Everyone should be captivated by the personal features of Krsna and thus become perfect. It is a simple, gradual process. It begins when one starts hearing about Krsna or chanting Hare Krsna or rendering some small service. Gradually, in this way, one's relationship with Krsna is revived, and it develops more and more, until—in the perfectional stage—one can become a personal associate of Krsna's in the spiritual world.
This is the position of Krsna's friends. They are all perfect in Krsna consciousness because they are totally in love with Krsna. Krsna's friends have no interest other than Krsna. He is their life and soul. And, in reciprocation, Krsna gives Himself fully to His friends. These friends are all great devotees of the Lord who have become eligible to participate in Krsna's pastimes due to their perfectional advancement in Krsna consciousness.
Krsna's dealings with His friends are very confidential. Generally God is thought of with great awe and reverence and is worshiped by His devotees with great veneration and respect This is true even in the spiritual world.
Krsna appreciates this service very much, but for even greater enjoyment He likes some slack in the relationship. Krsna is very pleased when a devotee worships Him with awe and reverence, but He is pleased even more when these are dropped. Krsna's friends in the spiritual world are so in love with Krsna that they do not even care that He is God. To them it doesn't matter. They just know that He's wonderful.
Krsna plays freely with them. They laugh and jump and play together in the fields. They enjoy herding cows, joking together, going on adventures and playing games. Sometimes Krsna and His friends play games, and Krsna loses and has to carry one of His friends on His shoulders.
Krsna and His friends are not ordinary cowherd boys. Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and His friends are all great devotees. Krsna is realized as impersonal transcendental bliss by impersonalists, He is worshiped as the Supreme Lord by His devotees, and by mundane thinkers He is considered an ordinary human being. But the cowherd boys, after a huge accumulation of pious activities, are able to play with Him as His intimate friends.
The temporary friendship we know in the material world is just a dim, perverted reflection of the transcendental relationship between Krsna and His friends. Krsna's transcendental activities are all eternal. Both Krsna and Krsna's devotees in the spiritual world have eternal bodies that are full of bliss and never deteriorate. The eternal activities of Krsna and His friends are free from contamination by matter. There is no possibility of birth, death, disease or old age in the spiritual world.
Since everyone has an eternal relationship with Krsna, everyone can attain to the spiritual world if he is properly trained. If one can properly understand the science of Krsna under the guidance of a pure devotee of Krsna, a bona fide spiritual master, then he also can become a pure devotee, by the grace of the spiritual master, and can attain to the spiritual world and associate with Krsna. This perfection is practically inconceivable to us in our present state of forgetfulness of Krsna. No one can become an associate of Krsna simply by imagination, speculation or wishful thinking. But if one takes to the process sincerely, under the proper guidance, perfection is sure.
Krsna consciousness is perfect in the beginning and at the end. In the neophyte stage one can derive transcendental pleasure from chanting Hare Krsna, hearing about Krsna, eating spiritual food offered to Krsna, and offering service to a pure devotee of Krsna, and by this process, in the perfectional stage, one can come to serve Krsna directly in the spiritual world. The devotees of the Krsna consciousness movement are aiming for this transcendental goal.
The temples of the Krsna consciousness movement do not belong to the devotees who live in them—they belong to Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Lord Sri Krsna and His eternal consort Srimati Radharani, as represented in the temple in Their eternal forms, are considered the supreme proprietors of the temple; all the devotees are Their servants, and all the activities performed are for Their enjoyment. Furthermore, since Krsna is for everyone, everyone is welcome to come to Krsna's temples, learn about Krsna and share in the enjoyment of Krsna consciousness.
Although Krsna consciousness may sometimes seem puzzling, complicated or foreign, it is actually a very simple process in which anyone may easily participate. The universal program recommended by spiritual authorities for this age is simply to chant the Hare Krsna mantra, to dance in ecstasy, to feast on nicely prepared spiritual food offered to Krsna in devotion, and to discuss the philosophy of Krsna consciousness. While disarmingly simple, these joyfully performed activities offer a program of tremendous spiritual potency.
Chanting, dancing, feasting and philosophy—this is a very natural and agreeable method for advancement in spiritual life. The Hare Krsna mantra is very pleasing to chant or hear. By chanting Hare Krsna, one will naturally come to dance in ecstasy, and after chanting and dancing one can rest and relish the taste of the many varieties of spiritual delicacies which are offered to Krsna. Gurthermore, one may satisfy his intellectual appetite by applying his mind to the profound philosophical ideas of Krsna consciousness which are presented in our books and classes.
By the grace of our spiritual master, we are beginning to taste the nectar of love of Krsna, and now we want to spread this sweet taste everywhere. Therefore, in order to glorify Krsna and to spread the bliss of Krsna consciousness, all of the centers of the Krsna consciousness movement sponsor weekly Sunday festivals of chanting, dancing, feasting and philosophy. There are no previous qualifications needed and no limitations. If you are attracted to Krsna (even slightly), please come and bring your friends. Hare Krsna.
Let There Be One Scripture For The Entire World
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Bhagavad-gita, or the Song of the Opulent One, is the most ancient, widely read and authoritative religious scripture known to man and is a book of spiritual knowledge surpassing all others in beauty, depth and lasting truth. This postgraduate study of the science of religion was revealed five thousand years ago in India as a battlefield dialogue between the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, and His friend and devotee Arjuna. In seven humdred perfect and sublime verses, Sri Krsna, the master of all mystics and cause of all causes, imparted to Arjuna the complete science of the Absolute Truth, including the paths of work, yoga and knowledge, and ultimately He revealed the most confidential secrets of spiritual realization.
Now, the pure message of Bhagavad-gita has been translated into English by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada with accurate Sanskrit transliterations, word-for-word Sanskrit-English synonyms, and full purports to illuminate the meaning of each verse. Srila Prabhupada has received Bhagavad-gita through an unbroken chain of disciplic succession and is repeating its message as it is, without change or interpretation. Thus Bhagavad-gita As It Is is a storehous of profound and scientific spiritual knowledge, a universal fountain of truth and beauty which offers a simple, practical and realistic understanding that can unite all men everywhere in a common bond of peaceful cooperation and spiritual harmony. Simply by reading Bhagavad-gita As It is, one may realize the highest perfection of human life.