Back to Godhead Magazine

Volume 01, Number 47, 1970-1973


KRSNA Is Nondifferent From His Name
International Society For Krishna Consciousness...
Krsna Is
The Urgent Need for Krsna consciousness
Gopis' Beloved
Removing the Bewildered Condition
From the Reservoir of Knowledge
Sleepers Awake!
Krsna Eternally Invites Us

© 2005 The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International

KRSNA Is Nondifferent From His Name

Krsna consciousness is the perfect process for solving all the problems of life because it can at once end our illusory separation from Krsna [pronounced KRISHNA], the Supreme Lord. Krsna is present everywhere, even within the atom and within the heart of every living creature, but in this material world our eternal consciousness of Krsna is covered by a cloud of forgetfulness. The chanting of Hare Krsna can at once dissipate this cloud because it is identical with Krsna Himself—Krsna the name and Krsna the Supreme Person are the same. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is a genuine spiritual master, a representative of Krsna's who is inviting us to take advantage of this sublime process and be happy. Krsna is the essence of all existence, and because Krsna consciousness revives our relationship with Him, it is an essential spiritual movement for human society. In the pages of Back to Godhead, this divine science of spiritual culture is explained.

Use back button to return.

Return to top

International Society For Krishna Consciousness Centers Around The World


Nairobi Kenya c/o ISKCON, P. O. Box 28946 (E. Africa)


Atlanta Georgia 24 NE 13th St./ (404) 892-9386

Austin Texas 4802 Red River

Berkeley California 1521 San Pablo/ (415) 525-9793

Boston Massachusetts 40 N. Beacon St./ (617) 254-7910

Buffalo New York 130-132 Bidwell Pkwy./ (716) 882-0281

Cleveland Ohio 15720 Euclid Avenue/ (216) 451-0418

Coconut Grove Florida 3037 Center St./ (305) 448-8426

Dallas Texas 5426 Gurley Street/ (214) 827-6330

Denver Colorado 1400 Cherry Street/ (303) 322-6661

Detroit Michigan 8311 E. Jefferson Avenue/ (313) 824-6000

Edmonton Alberta 11935 106th Street, Canada

Honolulu Hawaii 2016 McKinley Street/ (808) 941-0380

Houston Texas 707 Hawthorne St/ (713) 522-0635

Kapaa Hawaii P.O. Box 253 (Kauai) 96746

Laguna Beach California 641 Ramona Avenue/ (714) 497-1305

Los Angeles California 3764 Watseka Ave./ (213) 871-0717

Mexico City Mexico Gobernador Tiburcio No. 45, Col. San Miguel/ (905) 515-9658

Miami Florida 363 N.W. 4th St. Miami 33128

Montreal Quebec 3720 Park Avenue Canada

New Orleans Louisiana 2936 S. Esplanade/ (504) 482-6406

New Vrndavana W. Virginia RD 3, Moundsville/ (304) 845-2007

New York City New York 439 Henry St., Brooklyn/ (212) 596-9658

Philadelphia Pennsylvania 641 E. Chelton Avenue/ (215) 849-1767

Phoenix Arizona 426 N. 48th Street/ (602) 267-9958

Pittsburgh Pennsylvania 5126 Ellsworth Ave./ (412) 683-7700

Portland Oregon 2325 E. Burnside

Sacramento California 1807 W. Street

St. Louis Missouri 4544 Laclede Ave./ (314) 367-1354

San Diego California 3300 3rd Ave./ (714) 291-7778

San Francisco California 455 Valencia St./ (415) 864-0233

Santa Cruz California 805 Lottie St., Monterey

Seattle Washington 5516 Roosevelt Way NE/ (206) 525-8911

Toronto Ontario 187 Gerrard St. East, Canada/ (416) 922-5415

Trinidad W. Indies c/o ISKCON, Plaisance P.O., Pointe-a-pierre

Vancouver British Columbia 3250 Heather St., Canada

Washington D.C. 2015 Q Street NW/ (202) 667-3516


Calcutta India 3 Albert Road/ 44-3757

Delhi India Gita Bhawan, 7-E Kamala Nagar

Hare Krsna Land India ISKCON, Nairwadi, Gandhi Gram Rd., Juhu, Bombay 54

Hong Kong Hong Kong 34 Cameron Road 1/D, Kowloon

Tokyo Japan 3221 Minami Asakawa-cho Hachioji-shi

Vrndavana India ISKCON Temple Radha-DamodaraTemple, Seva Kunj, Vrndavana, Dist. Mathura, U.P.


Auckland New Zealand 155 Landscape Rd., Mount Eden

Melbourne Australia 14 Burnett St., Victoria

Sydney Australia 83 Hereford St., Glebe, N.S.W.


Amsterdam Holland Bethaneinstraat 39, (C) 020-3502607

Berlin Germany 1 Berlin-65, Nord Bahnstr. 3

Birmingham England 25 Hickman Road, Sparbrook

Brussels Belgium Chez-Shanti Alaus 26 Rue General Patton 1050 Bruxelles Belgique

Cardiff Wales 43 Ruby Street, Roath

Dusseldorf Germany 4 Disseldorf, Grafenbergerallee 302

Edinburgh Scotland Flat 6, 11 Greenhill Place

Frankfurt Germany 6 Frankfurt aM. Sachenhausen, Grosser Hasenpfad. 106

Geneva France Beudit La Crotte, 01-Ornex-France

Grenoble France co M. Ala in Remila, 24 Quai Pierre

Hamburg Germany 2000 Hamburg 6, Bartelstrasse 6511

London England 7 Bury Place/ (01) 242-0394

Manchester England 203 Chapel Rd., Salford

Marseilles France c/o Andre Brunet; 18 Rue Lautard

Munich Germany Munchen 19, Nymphenberger Str. 13, Marseille 12 115/0811-19378

Paris France 26 Rue d'Estienne d'Ovres, Fontenay-aux Roses

Stuttgart W. Germany 7 Stuttgart, Neue Weinsteig 12A

Use back button to return.

Return to top

Krsna Is

His Divine Grace Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja Prabhupada

[The author of this article—who is the spiritual master of the founder-acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness—may easily be accepted as the greatest scholar and devotee of the recent age. His numerous scriptural translations and commentaries in Sanskrit, Bengali and English and his establishment of 64 centers of Krsna consciousness throughout India attest to his identity as a powerful devotional force in spreading the personal philosophy of Krsna consciousness, the science of love of God. It is he who has caused a flood of God consciousness in the modern world through His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, his emissary to the West.

His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta listed these transcendental qualities of the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna in an essay which is too lengthy to be presented here in its entirety. However, this authoritative listing, compiled by His Divine Grace in 1932, shines with its own value. All the references are to chapter and verse of the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, a scripture which describes the transcendental pastimes of Lord Sri Krsna.]

Krsna is possessed of an unlimited intellect (SB 10.84.22).

Krsna is inaccessible to sensuous knowledge (SB 10.16.46).

Krsna is Lord of the infinity of worlds (SB 10.69.17).

Krsna wields the power of creating the unlimited (SB 10.87.28).

Krsna carries the impress of limitless power (SB 10.87.14).

Krsna is possessed of inconceivable potency (SB 10.10.29).

Krsna is unborn (SB 10.59.28, 74.21).

Krsna solves all heterogeneous views (SB 10.74.24).

Krsna is vanquished by exclusive devotion (SB 10.14.3).

Krsna is Inner Guide (SB 10.1.17).

Krsna is the Withholder of the energy of the wicked (SB 10.60.19).

Krsna is the Giver of salvation to jivas (living entities) that are free from vanity (SB 10.86.48).

Krsna ordains the worldly course of conceited jivas (SB 10.86.48).

Krsna is the Primal God (deva) (SB 10.40.1).

Krsna is the Primal Person (purusa) (SB 10.63.38).

Krsna is an overwhelming flood of bliss (SB 10.83.4).

Krsna possesses fulfilled desire (SB 10.47.46).

Krsna is self-delighted (SB 10.60.20).

Krsna is the opponent of the sensuous (SB 10.60.35).

Krsna is sung by the best of hymns (SB 10.86.23).

Krsna is the dispeller of the night of pseudo-religion (SB 10.14.40).

Krsna is devoid of increase and decrease (SB 10.48.26).

Krsna is the efficient and material cause (SB 10.10.29).

Krsna is the only Truth (SB 10.14.23).

Krsna is the Awarder of the fruit of work (SB 10.49.29).

Krsna is not subject to the consequences of work (SB 10.84.17).

Krsna is the Seer of cause and effect (SB 10.38.12).

Krsna is the Person who is time (SB 10.1.7).

Krsna is Time's Own Self (SB 10.70.26).

Krsna is even the Time of time (SB 10.56.27).

Krsna is Present in the heart of every animate entity, like fire inside wood (SB 10.46.36).

Krsna is Grateful (SB 10.48.26).

Krsna is the Augmenter (like the Full Moon) of the ocean of earth, gods, twice-born and animals (SB 10.14.40).

Krsna is the Tormentor of cannibalistic persons (SB 10.14.40).

Krsna is the Destroyer of the pride of the arrogant (SB 10.60.19).

Krsna is the Root-Cause of the origin, etc., of the world (SB 10.14.23).

Krsna is the Cause of the world (SB 10.40.1).

Krsna is the Creator of the world (SB 10.70.38).

Krsna, for the good of the world, appears as if possessed of a body like that of mundane entities (SB 10.14.55).

Krsna is the guru (centre of gravity) of the world (SB 10.80.44).

Krsna is the Refuge (asraya) of jivas (individual souls) who see afraid of birth and death (SB 10.49.23).

Krsna is devoid of birth (SB 10.46.38).

Krsna is equally the Internal Guide, Cause and Director of jivas (SB 10.87.30).

Krsna is the Destroyer of the miseries of persons who employ themselves in meditating upon Him (SB 10.58.10).

Krsna is of the fourth dimension and is self-manifest (SB 10.66.38).

Krsna is Worthy of being gifted (SB 10.74.24).

Krsna is the Punisher of the wicked (SB 10.69.17).

Krsna is the God of gods (SB 10.80.44).

Krsna is rarely cognisable by the gods (SB 10.48.27).

Krsna is unconcerned about body, house, etc. (SB 10.60.20).

Krsna is the Supreme Ruler of the greatest gods (SB 10.73.8).

Krsna is the Exponent of Religion (SB 10.69.40).

Krsna is the Eternal Son of Nanda (SB 10.14.1).

Krsna is Visible to man with great difficulty (SB 10.71.23).

Krsna's Presence mocks the world of man (SB 10.70.40).

Krsna is the Object of palatable drink of the human eye (SB 10.71.33).

Krsna is the Internal Guide of all (SB 10.31.4).

Krsna is Worthy of the worship of all the worlds (SB 10.69.15).

Krsna accommodates all the worlds (SB 10.59.30).

Krsna is the Manifestor of all light (SB 10.63.34).

Krsna is unstinted in giving Himself away to one who recollects Him (SB 10.80.11).

Krsna is the efficient Cause (SB 10.87.50).

Krsna, although devoid of all mundane quality, assumes mundane qualities by His Inconceivable Power for the purposes of creation, etc. (SB 10.46.40).

Krsna is not subject to change (SB 10.64.29).

Krsna is not capable of discrimination, by reason of being void of any extraneous covering (SB 10.87.29).

Krsna is the Giver of Himself to those who covet nothing (SB 10.86.33).

Krsna loves those who covet nothing (SB 10.60.14).

Krsna does not work (SB 10.60.20).

Krsna is the Human, Hidden, Primal Person (purusa) (SB 10.44.13). Krsna is Present in the hearts of jivas like the five elements (SB 10.82.45).

Krsna is the Supreme Sorcerer (SB 10.70.37).

Krsna is Supreme Godhead and the Internal Guide of all (SB 10.56.27).

Krsna is the Crest-jewel of those whose praises are sung by the sacred lore (SB 10.71.30).

Krsna is the Primal Person and is Ever-existing (SB 10.14.23).

Krsna is the Highest among the Objects of worship (SB 10.74.19).

Krsna is the Healer of the miseries of the submissive (SB 10.73.16).

Krsna is the Destroyer of the sins of the submissive (SB 10.31.7).

Krsna is the Destroyer of the distress of the submissive (SB 10.73.8).

Krsna is the Residue after the Cataclysm (SB 10.87.15).

Krsna is devoid of touch with mundane senses (SB 10.87.28).

Krsna is the Soul and Friend of all animate entities (SB 10.29.32).

Krsna is devoid of distinction appertaining to an alien (SB 10.63.38).

Krsna is inconceivable by His Nature (SB 10.70.38).

Krsna is the Master of the Universe (SB 10.70.37).

Krsna is the Nourisher of the Universe (SB 10.85.5).

Krsna is the Sun that cheers the lotus of the kindred of the Vrsnis [the members of the family in which He appeared] (SB 10.14.40).

Krsna is the God worshiped by the brahmanas (SB 10.69.15).

Krsna is the Foremost of the brahmanas (SB 10.84.20).

Krsna is the Originator of Brahma (SB 10.40.1).

Krsna is the Worshiped of Brahma (SB 10.31.13).

Krsna loves His devotees (SB 10.48.26).

Krsna wears Forms in accordance with the wishes of His devotee (SB 10.59.25).

Krsna is eternally Present in Mathura (SB 10.1.28).

Krsna is devoid of the sense of kinship and regards all in the same way (SB 10.46.37).

Krsna is beyond all Measuring Potency (maya) (SB 10.63.26).

Krsna is subdued by the love of Yudhisthira [His elder cousin] (SB 10.72.10).

Krsna is concealed by the screen of maya from the sight of the people (SB 10.85.19).

Krsna does not follow the ways of the world (SB 10.60.36).

Krsna is the Destroyer of the fear of the mundane sojourn of the submissive (SB 10.85.19).

Krsna is the Womb of the Scriptures (SB 10.16.44, 80.45, 84.20).

Krsna is sri guru's [the spiritual master's] Own Self (SB 10.80.33).

Krsna is devoid of hankering for wife, offspring, etc. (SB 10.60.20).

Krsna is the Ordainer of the wordly sojourn and of the summum bonum (SB 10.1.7).

Krsna is the Cause of all entities (SB 10.85.4).

Krsna is the Friend of the good (SB 10.69.17).

Krsna is devoid of discrimination as to kinship (SB 10.63.38, 44).

Krsna is Existence (SB 10.56.27).

Krsna possesses true desire (SB 10.80.44).

Krsna is the True Entity (SB 10.87.17).

Krsna is True of speech (SB 10.48.26).

Krsna sees with an equal eye (SB 10.16.33).

Krsna is True of resolve (SB 10.37.12).

Krsna is the Cause of all causes (SB 10.14.56-57, 63.38, 87.16).

Krsna is the Originator of all (SB 10.59.28).

Krsna is the Soul's own self of all jivas (individual souls) (SB 10.14.55).

Krsna is Omniscient (SB 10.16.48).

Krsna is All-seeing (SB 10.38.18).

Krsna is the embodiment of all gods (SB 10.74.19, 86.54).

Krsna is the Seer of all (SB 10.16.48).

Krsna is the Lord of all (SB 10.37.23).

Krsna is the Stay (asraya) of all entities (SB 10.82.46).

Krsna is All-pervasive and Eternal (SB 10.9.13).

Krsna is the Soul of all elements (SB 10.86.31).

Krsna is the Knower of the minds of all elements (SB 10.81.1).

Krsna is the soul's self of all elements (SB 10.74.24).

Krsna is the Inner Soul of all elements (SB 10.37.11).

Krsna is the Cause of the origin of all elements (SB 10.64.29).

Krsna is the Limit of all good (SB 10.84.21).

Krsna is Omnipotent (SB 10.37.12).

Krsna is the Lord of Laksmi, the Presiding Deity of all riches (SB 10.47.46).

Krsna is the Internal Guide of all (SB 10.63.38, 72.6).

Krsna is the Stay (asraya) of all (SB 10.40.15).

Krsna is Witness and Seer of Self (SB 10.86.31).

Krsna is the Refuge of the good (SB 10.80.9)

Krsna is most difficult to serve (SB 10.88.11).

Krsna is the Friend of one's heart (SB 10.48.26).

Krsna is the Withholder, Creator and Preserver (SB 10.63.44).

Krsna is the Master of the functions of creation, etc. (SB 10.16.49, 37.12).

Krsna is devoid of distinction between kin and alien (SB 10.72.6).

Krsna indwells the Universe created by Himself (SB 10.48.19).

Krsna is satisfied by the taste of His Self-Delight (SB 10.72.6).

Krsna is the Destroyer of the worldly sojourn of His devotees (SB 10.60.43).

Krsna is the Wearer of a body according to His Wish (SB 10.1.7).

Use back button to return.

Return to top

The Urgent Need for Krsna consciousness

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

This very important Krsna consciousness movement is meant to save human society from spiritual death. At present human society is being misled by leaders who are blind, for they do not know the aim and objective of human life, which is self-realization and the reestablishment of our lost relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is the missing point. This Krsna consciousness movement is trying to enlighten human society in this important matter.

According to Vedic civilization, the perfection of life is to realize one's relationship with Krsna or God. In Bhagavad-gita, which is accepted by all authorities in transcendental science as the basis of all Vedic knowledge, we understand that not only human beings but all living entities are parts and parcels of God. The parts are meant for serving the whole, just as the legs, hands, fingers and ears are meant for serving the total body. We living entities, being parts and parcels of God, are duty bound to serve Him.

Actually our position is that we are always rendering service to someone, either to our family, country or society. If we have no one to serve, sometimes we keep a pet cat or dog and render service to it. All these factors prove that we are constitutionally meant to render service, yet in spite of serving to our best capacity, we are no more satisfied. Nor is the person to whom we are rendering that service satisfied. On the material platform, everyone is frustrated. The reason for this is that the service which is being rendered is not properly directed. For example, if we want to render service to a tree, we must water the root. If we pour water on the leaves, branches and twigs, there is little benefit. If the Supreme Personality of Godhead is served, all other parts and parcels will be automatically satisfied. Consequently all welfare activities as well as service to society, family and nation are realized by serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

It is the duty of every human being to understand his constitutional position with God and to act accordingly. If this is possible, then our lives become successful. Sometimes, however, we feel challenging and say, "There is no God," or "I am God," or even, "I don't care for God." But in actuality this challenging spirit will not save us. God is there, and we can see Him at every moment. If we deny seeing God in our life, then He will be present before us as cruel death If we do not choose to see Him in one feature, we will see Him in another. There are different features of the Supreme Personality of Godhead because He is the original root of the entire cosmic manifestation. In one sense, it is not possible for us to escape Him.

This Krsna consciousness movement is not blind religious fanaticism, nor is it a revolt by some recent upstart, but it is an authorized scientific approach to the matter of our eternal necessity in relation with the Absolute Person alityof Godhead, the Supreme Enjoyer. Krsna consciousness simply deals with our eternal relation with Him and the process of discharging our relative duties to Him. Thus, Krsna consciousness enables us to achieve the highest perfection of life attainable in the present human form of existence.

We must always remember that this particular form of human life is attained after an evolution of many millions of years in the cycle of transmigration of the spirit soul. In this particular form of life, the economic question is more easily solved than in the lower animal forms. There are swine, dogs, camels, asses and so on whose economic necessities are just as important as ours, but the economic questions of these animals and others are solved under primitive conditions, whereas the human being is given all the facilities of leading a comfortable life by the laws of nature.

Human Duty

Why is a man given a better chance to live than swine or other animals? Why is a highly posted government officer given better facilities for a comfortable life than an ordinary clerk? The answer is very simple: the important officer has to discharge duties of a more responsible nature than those of an ordinary clerk. Similarly, the human being has to discharge higher duties than the animals, who are always busy with filling their hungry stomachs. But by the laws of nature, the modern animalistic standard of civilization has only increased the problems of filling the stomach. When we approach some of these polished animals for spiritual life, they say that they only want to work for the satisfaction of their stomachs and that there is no necessity of inquiring about the Godhead. Yet despite their eagerness to work hard, there is always the question of unemployment and so many other impediments incurred by the laws of nature. Despite this, they still denounce the necessity of acknowledging the Godhead.

We're not given this human form of life just to work hard like the swine or dog, but to attain the highest perfection of life If we do not want that perfection, then we will have to work very hard, for we will be forced to by the laws of nature. In the closing days of Kali-yuga (this present age) men will have to work hard like asses for only a scrap of bread. This process has already begun, and every year the necessity for harder work for lesser wages will increase. Yet human beings are not meant to work hard like animals, and if a man fails to discharge his duties as a human being, he is forced to transmigrate to the lower species of life by the laws of nature. Bhagavad-gita very vividly describes how a spirit soul, by the laws of nature, takes his birth and gets a suitable body and sense organs for enjoying matter in the material world.

In Bhagavad-gita it is also stated that those who attempt but do not complete the path of approaching God, in other words, those who have failed to achieve complete success in Krsna consciousness, are given the chance to appear in the families of the spiritually advanced or in financially well-to-do mercantile families. If the unsuccessful spiritual aspirants are offered such chances of noble parentage, what of those who have actually attained the required success? Therefore an attempt to go back to Godhead, even if half finished, guarantees a good birth in the next life. Both the spiritual and financially well-to-do families are beneficial for spiritual progress because in both families one can get a good chance to make further progress from the point where he stopped in his previous birth. In spiritual realization the atmosphere generated by a good family is favorable for the cultivation of spiritual knowledge. Bhagavad-gita reminds such fortunate well-born persons that their good fortune is due to their past devotional activities. Unfortunately the children of these families do not consult Bhagavad-gita, being misguided by maya (illusion).

Birth in a well-to-do family solves the problem of having to find sufficient food from the beginning of life, and later a comparatively easier and more comfortable way of life can be led. Being so situated, one has a good chance to make progress in spiritual realization, but as ill luck would have it, due to the influence of the present iron age (which is full of machines and mechanical people) the sons of the wealthy are misguided for sense enjoyment, and they forget the good chance they have for spiritual enlightenment. Therefore nature, by her laws, is setting fires in these golden homes. It was the golden city of Lanka, under the regime of the demonic Ravana, that was burned to ashes. That is the law of nature.

The Bhagavad-gita is the preliminary study of the transcendental science of Krsna consciousness, and it is the duty of all responsible heads of state to chalk out their economic and other programs by referring to Bhagavad-gita. We are not meant to solve economic questions of life by balancing on a tottering platform, but we are meant to solve the ultimate problems of life which arise due to the laws of nature. Civilization is static unless there is spiritual movement. The soul moves the body, and the living body moves the world. We are concerned about the body, but we have no knowledge of the spirit that is moving that body. Without the spirit, the body is motionless or dead.

The human body is an excellent vehicle by which we can reach eternal life. It is a rare and very important boat for crossing over the ocean of nescience which is material existence. On this boat there is the service of an expert boatman, the spiritual master. By divine grace, the boat plies the water in a favorable wind. With all these auspicious factors, who would not take the opportunity to cross over the ocean of nescience? If one neglects this good chance, it should be known that he is simply committing suicide.

There is certainly a great deal of comfort in the first-class coach of a train, but if the train does not move toward its destination, what is the benefit of an air-conditioned compartment? Contemporary civilization is much too concerned with making the material body comfortable. No one has information of the real destination of life, which is to go back to Godhead. We must not remain seated in a comfortable compartment, but we should see whether or not our vehicle is moving toward its real destination. There is no ultimate benefit in making the material body comfortable at the expense of forgetting the prime necessity of life, which is to regain our lost spiritual identity. The boat of human life is constructed in such a way that it must move toward a spiritual destination. Unfortunately this body is anchored to mundane consciousness by five strong chains which are: (1) attachment to the material body due to ignorance of spiritual facts, (2) attachment to kinsmen due to bodily relations, (3) attachment to the land of birth and to material possessions such as house, furniture, estates, property, business papers, etc., (4) attachment to material science, which always remains mysterious for want of spiritual light, and (5) attachment to religious forms and holy rituals without knowing the Personality of Godhead or His devotees who make them holy. These attachments, which anchor the boat of the human body, are explained in detail in the Fifteenth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita. There they are compared to a deeply rooted banyan tree which is ever increasing its hold on the earth. It is very difficult to uproot such a strong banyan tree, but the Lord recommends the following process: "The real form of this tree cannot be perceived in this world. No one can understand where it ends, where it begins, or where its foundation is. But with determination one must cut down this tree with the weapon of detachment. So doing, one must seek that place form which, having once gone, one never returns, and there surrender to that Supreme Personality of Godhead from whom everything has begun and in whom everything is abiding since time immemorial." (Bg. 15.3-4)


Neither the scientists nor speculative philosophers have yet arrived at any conclusion concerning the cosmic situation. All they have done is posit different theories about it. Some of them say that the material world is real, others say that it is a dream, and yet others say that it is ever-existing. In this way different views are held by mundane scholars, but the fact is that no mundane scientist or speculative philosopher has ever discovered the beginning of the cosmosor its limitations. No one can say when it began or how it floats in space. They theoretically propose some laws, like the law of gravitation, but actually they cannot put this law to practical use. For want of actual knowledge of the truth, everyone is anxious to promote his own theory to gain certain fame, but the actual fact is that this material world is full of miseries and that no one can overcome them simply by promoting some theories about the subject. The Personality of Godhead, who is fully cognizant of everything in His creation, informs us that it is in our best interest that we desire to get out of this miserable existence. We must detach ourselves from everything material. To make the best use of a bad bargain, our material existence must be 100% spiritualized. Iron is not fire, but it can be turned into fire by constant association with fire. Similarly, detachment from material activities can be effected by spiritual activities, not by material inertia. Material inertia is the negative side of material action, but spiritual activity is not only the negation of material action but the activation of our real life. We must be anxious to search out eternal life or spiritual existence in Brahman. The eternal kingdom of Brahman is described in Bhagavad-gita as that eternal country from which no one returns. That is the kingdom of God.

The beginning of our present material life cannot be traced, nor is it necessary for us to know how we became conditioned in material existence. We have to be satisfied with the understanding that somehow or other this material life has been going on since time immemorial and now our duty is to surrender unto the Supreme Lord, who is the original cause of all causes. The preliminary qualification for going back to Godhead is given in Bhagavad-gita: "One who is free from illusion, false prestige and false association, who understands the eternal, who is done with material lust and is free from the duality of happiness and distress, and who knows how to surrender unto the Supreme Person, attains that eternal kingdom." (Bg. 15.5)

One who is convinced of his spiritual identity and is freed from the material conception of existence, who is free from illusion and is transcendental to the modes of material nature, who constantly engages in understanding spiritual knowledge and who has completely severed himself from sense enjoyment, can go back to Godhead. Such a person is called amudha, as distinguished from mudha or the foolish and ignorant, for he is freed from the duality of happiness and distress.

And what is the nature of the kingdom of God? It is described in the Bhagavad-gita as follows: "That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, or by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to ths material world." (Bg. 15.6)

Although every place in the creation is within the kingdom of God because the Lord is the supreme proprietor of all planets, there is still the Lord's personal abode which is completely different from the universe in which we are now living. And this abode is called paramam, or the supreme abode. Even on this earth there are countries where the standard of living is high and countries where the standard of living is low. Besides this earth, there are innumerable other planets distributed all over the universe, and some are considered superior places and some are considered to be inferior places. In any case all planets within the jurisdiction of the external energy, material nature, require the rays of a sun or the light of fire for their existence because the material universe is a region of darkness. Beyond this region, however, is a spiritual realm which is described as functioning under the superior nature of God. That realm is described in the Upanisads thus: "There is no need of sun, moon, or stars, nor is that abode illumined by electricity or any form of fire. All these material universes are illumined by a reflection of that spiritual light, and because that superior nature is always self-luminous we can therefore experience a glow of light even in the densest darkness of night." In the Hari-vamsa the spiritual nature is explained as follows: "The glaring effulgence of the impersonal Brahman illuminates all existences, both material and spiritual. But, O Bharata, you must understand that this Brahman illumination is the effulgence of My body." In the Brahma-samhita this conclusion is also confirmed. We should not think that we can attain that abode by any material means such as space ships, but we should know for certain that one who can attain that spiritual abode of Krsna can enjoy eternal spiritual bliss without interruption. As fallible living entities, we have two phases of existence. One is called material existence, which is full of the miseries of birth, death, old age and disease, and the other is called spiritual existence, in which there is an incessant spiritual life of eternity, bliss and knowledge. In material existence we are ruled by the material conception of the body and the mind, but in spiritual existence we can always relish the happy transcendental contact of the Personality of Godhead. In spiritual existenoe, the Lord is never lost to us.


This Krsna consciousness movement is trying to bring that spiritual existence to humanity at large. In our present material consciousness, we are attached to the sensual material conception of life, but this conception can be removed at once by devotional service to Krsna or Krsna consciousness. If we adopt the principles of devotional service, we can become transcendental to the material conceptions of life and be liberated from the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance, even in the midst of various material engagements. Everyone who is engaged in material affairs can derive the highest benefit from these pages of Back to Godhead and the other literatures of this Krsna consciousness movement. These literatures help all people sever the roots of the indefatigable banyan tree of material existence. These literatures are authorized to train us to renounce everything related to the material conception of life and to relish spiritual nectar in every object. This stage is obtainable only by devotional service and nothing else. By rendering such service, one can at once get liberation (mukti) even during this present life. Most spiritual endeavors are tinged with the colors of materialism, but pure devotional service is transcendental to all material pollution. Those who desire to go back to Godhead need only adopt the principles of this Krsna consciousness movement and simply aim their consciousness at the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead, Krsna.

Use back button to return.

Return to top

Gopis' Beloved

Dravida dasa Brahmacari

Hare Krsna came into my ear,
And out flew the purple night.
With waves of beauty and the sound of His flute,
He moved within my heart.
His Name on my tongue,
There was no way to ever forget Him,
The only Love of the Maids of Vraja,
The Holder of Govardhana.

When the stillness came and Brahma's night,
His flute sang out, and the gopis ran to Him.
Their husbands could not hold their madness
To chase the sound of the flute.

The water churned white into gurgling milk,
Churned by the codes of the flute,
And the gopis ran to Him,
Seeking His only glance.
As Radha danced, the sound of the flute
Licked Her ears and made Her mad
With love.
The dancing gopis side by side
With the Pride of Vrndavana,
A necklace strung upon hopeful looks at
The wandering Yasodanandana.
He holds the gopis' hearts,
He casts His tender looks
(His dancing eyebrows in the night).

When He touches them
The gopis tremble, stunned.
The flowers fall from their loosened hair
And leave a train of promises
In the dancing dust.

Their hands marked with kumkuma touch,
The moonlight in their faces,
Their eyes roll and yearn.
He casts His glance and moves away,
And where He stood there remains
His Stillness.

Use back button to return.

Return to top

Removing the Bewildered Condition

Daivasakti Devi Dasi
(ISKCON-New York)

By acquiring a comfortable material position in life with a nice family, friends, etc., one strives for permanent sense satisfaction while ignoring the fact that his real satisfaction is not to be found in the material sphere. A man driving his car may feel proud of his attractive auto, he may become worried and feel pain when the car is struck, out of his attachment, yet when he sees a nicer car with more gadgets he will leave his old car for the new one. In the continued changing of vehicles the man forgets that he does not even need the car because he has already been provided by his Creator with all facilities for his transportation wherever he wishes to go.

The individual soul also needlessly accepts material body after body to enjoy in assorted avenues of sense gratification within the material world. Ignorant of his true nature (which is that he is eternally satisfied, in full knowledge, and not in need of external material happiness for satisfaction), he becomes attracted by everchanging material forms and seeks to enjoy them.

Krsna, the Supreme Lord, speaking in Bhagavad-gita, explains the position of the living entity in the material world: "The living entities in this conditional world are My fragmental parts, and they are eternal. But due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind."(Bg. 15.7) He also kindly explains to His disciple Arjuna in this book of instruction to the bewildered souls that the living entities are of His superior energy. Lord Krsna has multi-energies—He is the controller of both the inferior (material) and superior (spiritual) natures. He is called the Energetic, since from Him everything is emanating. "Of all that is material and all that is spiritual in this world, know for certain that I am both the origin and dissolution."(Bg. 7.6) If the living entity accepts the control of the source of all energies, he then becomes rightly situated in his original spiritual nature, and he becomes the same in quality as the Energetic.

Real satisfaction and perfect knowledge are attainable when the individual abides by the will of the Lord. Ignorance of the Lord means forgetfulness of our eternal position as His eternal loving servants. If a teacher tells his student to go to the slum of the city to impart to the ignorant all he has taught his pupil, the student may directly do as the instructor asks, or, while in the slum, he may begin to mix with the degraded population, become attracted to their unclean ways, and neglect his master's instructions. He may try to enjoy the pleasures of the unclean, perverted area, with which by nature he has nothing to do.

Until he remembers his teacher's superior instructions—by which he has come to the contaminated area—he remains under the control of the inferior instructions of the impulses of the senses. When he recalls and agrees to complete the task given him by his master, he then can pick himself up to his original transcendental position and execute his purpose. When he returns to his master to deliver the desired result, then he experiences real satisfaction.

The living entity forgets his real nature while in contact with the Lord's inferior material nature, and until he begins functioning in his factual position, he remains in the cruel clutches of material nature. "The divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it." (Bg. 7.14)

This is the process for becoming free from the bewilderment and illusion inflicted upon us by the Lord's inferior energy, called maya. The foolish and miscreant are covered by this creative potency and do not understand the real nature of the Lord. The beginning of the process is surrender, and the perfection is complete surrender in full knowledge of the Lord's position and the living entities' duty to the Lord. The Lord says, "To those who are constantly devoted and who worship me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me. Out of compassion for them, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance."(Bg. 10.10-11)

For the eternally conditioned souls, such as ourselves, who have been wandering in maya's territory for an indefinite length of time, the surrendering process is difficult. The Lord, though, helps the endeavoring souls to become free from His illusory energy. He comes Himself to deliver the pious and annihilate the miscreants as well as to reestablish the principles of religion. He sends His representatives such as His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada as spiritual masters, and He sends saintly persons to impart knowledge unto the living beings. He incarnates in the form of scriptures such as Bhagavad-gita in which He personally instructs, and in other scriptures such as the Bible and Koran. Also, He is seated in the heart of each living entity, and He lends instruction to the individual who seeks His association.

This process of reclaiming the conditioned soul is perfectly explained by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada in a purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam. The Lord does not desire that living beings should be illusioned, but He also does not interfere with the task of the illusory energy because such performances of the illusory energy are necessary for reformation of the conditioned soul. The affectionate father will offer all facilities to a runaway son who is seeking a way to come home to him, but if the son becomes again disobedient, the father will not hesitate to punish the foolish child. Krsna is always inviting us to return to His supreme abode to enjoy transcendental peace with Him. And if the living entity follows Arjuna's example and surrenders to the Supreme Lord, the originally existing affection and devotion to the Lord is again awakened. The entire process is completed when there is surrender by the living entity to the Supreme Lord.

The Lord says, "Always think of Me. Become My devotee. Worship Me and offer your homage unto Me The result is that you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend." (Bg. 18.65) One should always act in such a way that all his daily activities are in connection with Krsna. He should mold his life in such a way that, throughout twenty-four hours, he cannot but think of Krsna. By cultivating devotional service one can fix his mind on the lotus feet of the Lord and become perfect. Regardless of the type of work performed, if it is executed in Krsna consciousness it becomes a glorious act of love offerable to the Supreme Personality.

The characteristics of pure devotional service are described by a pure devotee, Srila Rupa Gosvami, in his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu:

1) Pure devotional service brings immediate relief from all kinds of material distress.
2) It is the beginning of all auspiciousness.
3) It automatically puts one in transcendental pleasure.
4) It is rarely achieved.
5) Those in pure devotional service deride even the conception of liberation.
6) Pure devotional service is the only means to attract Krsna.

These characteristics give us a hint of the inconceivable potency of transcendental loving service to the Lord, Sri Krsna. The name Krsna means all-attractive, but one who fully engages in Krsna's service can attract even the all-attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krsna.

The distresses we suffer are the results of sinful actions we have committed in the past and those that we are presently committing. Also, in the future we must suffer for the sins which we have committed because of our ignorance. Ignorance is no excuse for sinful activity. So we are caught in a chain of reactions to our past misdeeds that we still have to undergo as long as we remain unsurrendered to the Lord. Krsna instructs in the Bhagavad-gita that He will protect us from sinful reactions as long as we surrender to Him. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam He explains to His devotee Uddhava, "My dear Uddhava, devotional service unto Me is just like a blazing fire which can burn into ashes unlimited fuel supplied to it." (Bhag. 11.14.18) This statement is explained by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada: "As the blazing fire can burn any amount of fuel to ashes, so devotional service to the Lord in Krsna consciousness can burn up all the fuel of sinful activities."

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

Even the seeds of future sins lying in the heart and also the seeds of desire can be removed by simply chanting the mahamantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This chanting process was recommended by the Lord Himself when He appeared as Lord Caitanya 485 years ago to deliver the living beings by exemplifying the path of pure devotional service, which can bring the fallen souls of this age back home. Therefore, it is the duty of everyone to engage in the process of hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord or to execute any or all of the activities recommended in devotional service. Thus one can become free from the distressing knot of false identification and inferior engagement in material activities that keeps us bound up in illusion.

I offer my most humble obeisances unto the lotus feet of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada who has brought us out of the deadly condition of material existence by the chanting of the mahamantra, the Great Chant for Deliverance: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. "By the mercy of the spiritual master, who is a pure devotee, and by the mercy of Krsna, one can achieve the platform of devotional service. There is no other way." (Caitanya-caritamrta) In this age of Kali, simply chant the Hare Krsna mantra.

Use back button to return.

Return to top

From the Reservoir of Knowledge

Personal Letters from Srila Prabhupada

As a genuine spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada takes personal responsibility for the advancement of each of his students in the spiritual life of Krsna consciousness. Although now his transcendental instructions are available in book form, when Srila Prabhupada first began the Krsna consciousness movement, the only way his new disciples could get the answers to their many questions was to ask Srila Prabhupada personally. Therefore, since 1966, Srila Prabhupada has written literally thousands of personal letters to his disciples, answering their questions, giving them encouragement and opening their eyes to newer and newer realizations of Krsna. A bona fide spiritual master is by nature very kind to his disciples, and as their ever well-wisher, he blesses them with genuine spiritual understanding. Some of Srila Prabhupada's instructions are presented here.

"Your appreciation of the movement is very keen and interesting. Actually, I was also attracted by my guru maharaja [spiritual master] when he convinced me that God lives and we can live with Him. I find the same conviction in you, and it has given me such great pleasure. Yes, it is the greatest discovery. In human society under the spell of illusion, men are doing things each on his own responsibility, and they are becoming entangled in material existence. This is the greatest blunder in human society. They have not only forgotten God but they have declared openly that God is dead. This declaration of the foolish human society is thc greatest blunder in life. I therefore appreciate your conviction, and I am still more glad that you are determined to propagate this message to the world at large. I am sure you can do this because all of you who have come to me are sincere souls and you have understood the inner force of Krsna consciousness. Please try to propagate this movement together."

"I know that you are a sincere devotee of Lord Krsna. When you drive your car you always chant 'Hare Krsna,' and when I was by your side I could understand how heartily you have accepted the philosophy of Krsna consciousness. Krsna is very kind to all, but He is especially kind to His sincere devotees. Krsna is always with us, within our hearts, and He is always ready to give us direction, but because everyone is independent, Krsna responds cooperatively. If anyone voluntarily cooperates with Krsna's desire, He responds to his call very eagerly. Krsna descends to teach us Bhagavad-gita, begging our cooperation, and anyone who cooperates with Him becomes blessed. You are sincerely cooperating with Krsna, and therefore all you boys and girls in San Francisco are working together harmoniously. Harmony means Krsna consciousness. Without Krsna consciousness there cannot be harmony in the world. Your acknowledgement, 'Krsna has been very merciful to me,' is remarkable. You are realizing the fruit of chanting."

"The sentiments you have expressed are very nice, and they are just suitable for spiritual advancement. The actual Vaisnava [devotee] always feels himself lowly and unqualified, but this submissiveness and humbleness is his actual qualification for becoming perfect in Krsna consciousness. In material life everyone is thinking, 'I am so wonderful, I am so expert,' but actually the living entity is an insignificant spark of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna. So when we see that we are becoming aware of our infinitesimal nature, then we begin to also understand something of how infinitely great Krsna is. One cannot be falsely puffed up and still expect to make progress in spiritual life. Rather, one must learn to accept his constitutional position as Krsna's tiny servant. Then Krsna is pleased to reveal Himself to such a devotee, and the devotee becomes more and more perfect in rendering transcendental service to the Lord."

"It is a fact that wherever we go, if we simply let people hear our chanting and if we repeat what we have heard from the bona fide spiritual master, then surely many, many sincere souls will become attracted to our movement. This is because Krsna consciousness is lying dormant in every living entity, just as fire is dormant within a match. If we simply strike the match, then the fire within will come out in blazing light. Our method of striking the match is Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare. This vibration is sufficient to awaken the sleeping spirit soul to the fact that Krsna is there, and if we try to remember Him always and spread His message of Bhagavad-gita, then our life becomes perfect, and we are perfectly acting in our position as part and parcel of the Lord. The boys and girls of America are generally good souls; that is why they have taken birth in such a nice country. Now they should perfect all of their opulence by engaging everything in Krsna consciousness."

"The more we struggle for advancing our Krsna consciousness movement, the more we become advanced on the path. Really, devotional service means that we have to employ our energies for the purpose of Krsna consciousness, and it does not matter what the volume of such energy is because different persons have different types of energies. But the best means is to apply one's energy as far as possible. That is the secret of success in Krsna consciousness. It is not that one has to acquire the energy of an elephant or that one has to become a very learned or intelligent man; one simply has to become sincere and employ whatever energy he has in his possession in the service of the Lord. That is the secret of success in Krsna consciousness."

"Just as you are thinking of me so often, you should know that I am often thinking of you also. So if you can remember to always remember Krsna and the instructions of your spiritual master, then surely this will bring the highest benediction to yourself and to those with whom you come into contact. To the extent that we are thinking of Krsna, to that extent maya has no influence. But as much as we are desiring to forget Krsna and trying to enjoy ourselves, to that extent we must suffer the pains of maya. Our remedy for material life is very simple simply to chant for Krsna, to dance for Krsna, to work and prepare nice foods for Krsna. Then we become fully free from all other influences. Please always remember this secret and show all others by example."

"We should learn to depend on Krsna more and more. Actually, Krsna is always guiding us as Supersoul, but due to our forgetfulness, we do not understand that Krsna is our friend everlasting. With advancement in Krsna consciousness one is able to realize that Krsna is always with His devotees—not only with His devotees but also with the nondevotees, but the devotees can recognize His presence and the nondevotees cannot. The more you make advancement in Krsna consciousness, the more you will see Krsna everywhere—not only on the bank of the river but also on streets, in trees, lamp posts and so on. The more you see in that way, the more you know that you are making tangible advancement in Krsna consciousness. Actually, there is nothing but Krsna all around us. This is explained in the Gita. He is the taste of water, the light of the moon, the fragrance of the flower, the light of the sun, the sound in the sky, the power of the strong and so on. One who is actually making progress in Krsna consciousness can see Krsna everywhere. At every stage of life, who can avoid the sunlight, the moonlight, the fragrance of the flower, the taste of the water, the sound in the sky and so on? But one has to learn that Krsna is there in all these vatieties of existence. Without Krsna there is nothing. It is simply by the influence of maya that we forget the relationship of Krsna with everything that be."

"You have accepted me as father, so I have also accepted you as my dear and real son. The relationship of father and son on the spiritual platform is real and eternal; on the material platform such relationships are ephemeral and temporary. Although I cannot give you anything as father, still I can pray to Krsna for your greater and greater advancement in Krsna consciousness. Your sincerity and service mood will always help you in advancing your genuine cause."

"I thank you very much for your nice letter and for your inquisitiveness. You are Krsna's part and parcel. As you love your hands and legs and you feel when your hand is in trouble, similarly Krsna feels for you when you are in trouble. The hand has value when it is attached to the body. Similarly, we have value when we are Krsna conscious. The hand has no value detached from the whole body. Krsna is the whole, and we are His parts and parcels. Try to understand this philosophy.

"The hand and body are created at the same time. It is not that the body is created first and then the hand is created. Our relation with Krsna is like that of the hand and the body. Therefore, Krsna and ourselves are both eternal, and there is no history of eternity: it has no beginning and no end."

"Personally I have no credit for myself, but I am trying to act as a faithful servant of my predecessors and just present without adulteration the message which I have received from my spiritual master. Similarly, if this message is presented by all of you who have accepted me as the spiritual master, then all the people of the world may be benefited by receiving this transcendental message of Krsna consciousness. Try to execute this mission wholeheartedly and faithfully, and all of you try to broadcast the message to your best capacity.

"Your humbleness is very much appreciated by me. This humbleness is the sign of progress in Krsna consciousness. A Krsna conscious person always thinks himself the lowest creature in the world, and the more one thinks like that, the more he becomes elevated. A Krsna conscious person is never falsely puffed-up. He is satisfied with his position as the servant of the servant of the servant of Krsna."

Use back button to return.

Return to top

Sleepers Awake!

New York: Summer 1966

Part Two

Hayagriva dasa (ISKCON-New Vrndavana)

[Note: The following is a reminiscence by one of Srila Prabhupada's first students in the West. This section, from the book The Hare Krsna Explosion, intimately traces the beginning of the Krsna movement in New York City in the summer of 1966].

Our second public appearance was requested by an official at the UN. Srila Prabhupada took a taxi with us up to the UN building where we were to chant. It was some sort of 48-hour peace vigil, and when we arrived we immediately grouped outside the UN building and began to clash cymbals and chant Hare Krsna, but the guards told us that we were causing too much disturbance. It was a hot cloudy day, and there was no breeze off the East River. Srila Prabhupada stood with us for a couple of hours on the sidewalk and softly chanted Hare Krsna on his beads. We stood until we got tired, chanted to ourselves and felt incredibly elated. I thought to myself that people passing by would doubtlessly think us hippies. But who could care? Srila Prabhupada was glowing in his saffron robes. He didn't care what anyone thought. Afterwards he told us, "We have nothing to do with peace vigils. We simply want to spread this chanting of Hare Krsna, that's all. Once people take to this chanting of Hare Krsna, peace will automatically come. They won't have to try artificially for peace then."

It was in August also that we began taking prasadam (food offered to Krsna) at noon in Srila Prabhupada's room in the back apartment. Kirtanananda was beginning to cook at this time under the personal instructions of Srila Prabhupada. He was the first cook, and in the beginning Stradisa assisted him and then Achyutananda (though no one at this time was formally initiated). Later Srila Prabhupada told me that at the time he was wondering whether American boys would like prasadam. He would laugh at this because prasadam turned out to be one of the most successful parts of our program. At first, all of the prasadam was put on one plate, which was Srila Prabhupada's. It consisted of only dahl (split pea), some rice and curry, and chapatis (unleavened bread). About twelve of us, all male, would sit along the wall of his apartment and wait while Srila Prabhupada personally took the food off the plate and distributed it individually, reciting, "sarira avidya-jala jadendriya tahe kala" etc. We would recite each word after him and pass the plates around. He translated this prayer for us in this way: "This material body is a lump of ignorance, and the senses are networks of paths to death. We are fallen into the ocean of material sense enjoyment. Of all the senses, the tongue is the most voracious and uncontrollable. It is very difficult to conquer over the tongue in this world, but Krsna is very kind to us. He has sent us very nice prasadam to conquer the tongue. Now let us take that prasadam to our full satisfaction and glorify His Lordship Radha and Krsna and in love call for Lord Caitanya and Nityananda to help us." At first, each of us would only take one chapati each, and when Srila Prabhupada asked if we would like more, we would say, "Oh no! That is enough. That is sufficient." Later he often laughed at our initial reluctance to take more. It was Stradisa, a very tall thin boy, who started eating more and more chapatis due to Srila Prabhupada's insistence. He finally averaged ten a meal. Then gradually our appetites also picked up, and as more people started coming to eat in Srila Prabhupada's back apartment, we began taking our noon prasadam downstairs in the temple while Srila Prabhupada ate alone upstairs. It was a wonderful sight, though, to see the spiritual master and all his disciples—around a dozen young men, all very young, no one over thirty—sitting on the bare floor at noon eating. We might have been in New York, but it didn't seem like it. Both Kirtanananda and I were reminded of Calcutta. I liked Srila Prabhupada's food much better than the Calcutta fare, however, and though I didn't eat very much, I felt full and satisfied.

In an attempt to get more people to attend lectures, I mailed the poet Allen Ginsberg one of our mantra leaflets and invited him over to the temple. Allen was living nearby on East Tenth Street, and I knew that he would be interested because he had been chanting Hare Krsna since his trip to India in 1963. In mid-August he drove up before the temple in a Volkswagen microbus and got out carrying a harmonium, which he donated to us. I remember that he played it at kirtana and afterwards showed Kirtanananda how to play. After Srila Prabhupada's lecture Allen asked me, "Don't you think Swamiji a little too esoteric for New York?"

"I don't know," I said. I really didn't know; it never crossed my mind.

The next afternoon Allen came over to visit Srila Prabhupada in his back apartment. He brought a little harmonium, which he had picked up in Benares, and chanted Hare Krsna. The tune was different, very, very jolly, and Allen's head bounced back and forth as he pumped the rhythm on the tiny reed instrument. Then Srila Prabhupada began to explain Lord Caitanya's philosophy. I remember Allen asking him if he planned to make his American boys into Vaisnavas, and Srila Prabhupada said, "Yes, and I will make them all brahmanas." "Brahmanas?" Allen said incredulously. He was amazed that Srila Prabhupada was intending to establish the varnasrama-dharma in America. He wished him good luck and gave a contribution.

It was at this time that we started to decorate the temple. Although for any New Yorker it was just a bare, squalid storefront, the kind somebody might open a pawn shop in, it became a temple for us because of Srila Prabhupada's presence and because of the words that were spoken there. When Kirtanananda and I returned from India, we brought back some two dozen paintings, rugs and large silks with which we had decorated the Mott Street apartment, and now we took all of this out of the apartment and over to the temple. Others donated curtains and a large rug, and we spent all day tacking the silks on the wall, putting up the curtains, fixing an elevated dais for Srila Prabhupada, painting the walls and laying the rugs. Someone had painted an oval portrait of Radha and Krsna modeled after the jacket of Srila Prabhupada's Srimad-Bhagavatam. We hung this up over the dais. In front of the dais we placed candlesticks, which we also brought from Mott Street. Then down the walls we placed pictures. Later Srila Prabhupada informed us that one of the pictures of a six-armed Deity was Lord Caitanya.

That night, when Srila Prabhupada walked in to begin kirtana, he looked at the newly decorated temple and showed surprise. "Ah, you are advancing," he said. "This is very nice. This is Krsna consciousness." He then sat up on the new dais, and we all held our breaths hoping it wouldn't collapse. Some of the hypercritical took exception to the dais, to the fact that Srila Prabhupada was elevated, and some others, being reminded of the Catholic or some other organized church, resented the temple decorations, especially the candlesticks and the incense. They longed for the days of the bare walls and bare floor. These fears were dispelled, however, at kirtana when Srila Prabhupada taught us how to dance, raising his arms in the air and placing one foot before the other. We followed him and danced in a circle. At this time, we were also beginning to play more instruments. A boy named Nelson donated a large cymbal, which was hung on a cord beside the dais. Srila Prabhupada played it softly from time to time while leading the kirtana. We were also using brass hooka tops for bells and would ring them when the kirtana became more fiery. Kirtanananda and I finally sold the hookas, which were the last remnants of our India trip.

All those early lectures were based on Bhagavad-gita. First Srila Prabhupada outlined the various yoga systems for us and explained the futility of the Patanjali meditative process, or Sankhya-yoga, in this age of Kali (darkness). He also had to discourage us from inactivity. which we had mistakenly equated with spiritual life. "Nowhere in the Bhagavad-gita does Krsna tell Arjuna to sit idly while He works," he told us in one lecture. "Arjuna was Krsna's friend. We can also be Krsna's friends if we work for Him and keep our minds always fixed on Him. We should cease working for our own benefit and always work for Krsna. We should be thinking of things to do for Krsna twenty-four hours a day. Work requires a purpose. We are always working, either for our own sense gratification or for Krsna. Practicing yoga means working without thought for personal interest but solely for the mission of Krsna. What is this mission? To tell people about Krsna consciousness. Lord Caitanya told His disciples, 'Preach this gospel that I teach—whomever you meet, just try to inform him about the message of Bhagarad-gita.' We should inform the world about the message of the Gita. One who does this is on the platform of real yoga."

And in order to put this into practice, Srila Prabhupada had to engage us in so many ways. I remember one of the members tacking a sign on the bathroom wall: "If you are not always engaged, you will fall into maya. " And by way of engaging us, Srila Prabhupada accompanied us out to Long Island to look at used mimeograph machines, of which we purchased two at $75 each. I then started typing up stencils for two of his essays, "Krsna the Reservoir of Pleasure" and "Who is Crazy?" Srila Prabhupada also had me write a "Prospectus," which someone was financing. I felt I didn't know enough about Krsna consciousness to write a prospectus, but Srila Prabhupada told me, "Do it," so I ran back to Mott Street and quickly jotted down my conceptions of Krsna consciousness. How I managed the first statement is still a mystery to me. "Krsna consciousness has been variously called cosmic or expanded consciousness," I wrote. "In part, it is the moment to moment awareness that man is a segment of the creation which is the eternal Song of God, that this creation emanates from and is sustained by the One without a second, the manifest Godhead, that the creation is not chaos and disunion as this desperate and atheistical age would have us believe, but is union, order, and plan, that as the planets orbit in orderly procession about the sun and the sun moves in perfect motion within its galaxy, which in its turn follows the path down the grand open road of space, so man, by God's grace and willing co-operation, makes his way back to the Godhead." Srila Prabhupada added to this five main purposes of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, which were: (1) to systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large, (2) to propagate Krsna consciousness as revealed in Bhagavad-gita, (3) to bring the members of the Society together and nearer to Krsna, (4) to teach and encourage the sankirtana movement, congregational chanting of the holy name of God as revealed in the teachings of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and (5) to erect for the members and for society at large a holy place of transcendental pastimes dedicated to the Personality Krsna. The first two items were realized with the publications of Srila Prabhupada's books and Back to Godhead, and hundreds of people felt within themselves the actualization of the third item. The fourth item was boosted by the organization of the sankirtana (street chanting) party of the West Coast and eventually in some fifty cities around the world where temples were established. And the last item we were to realize two years later with the establishment of the New Vrndavana community. So 5,000 of the prophetic handbills were printed up, and we went about to distribute them.

I mentioned before that in his early lectures Srila Prabhupada mainly spoke in terms of the Absolute Truth, of the importance of working for the Absolute Truth and of recognizing the three aspects of the Absolute Truth—impersonal, localized and personal. He finally introduced us to Krsna by stressing that the personal realization of the Absolute Truth is the highest. "Renunciation alone is not enough," he kept emphasizing to awaken us from our torpitude. "One must also work for the Absolute Truth, or we can serve illusion. It is the nature of humanity to serve."

I also remember that he spent a lot of time explaining the Second Chapter of Bhagavad-gita. "Aham brahmasmi, I am not this matter, but spirit. We must come to this platform—brahma-bhuta platform. We cannot come to this by way of meditation. Meditation is too difficult. It is easier to be a devotee of Sri Krsna and to always be engaged in His service. One who continues in such bhakti-yoga becomes free from material contamination, and as soon as he is free he knows that 'I am not this matter. I am Brahman.' As soon as he realizes this, he feels the highest pleasure. He is filled with joy. Others may see him as poor and penniless, but he knows that he is the happiest man in the world." This was of comfort to most of us because at the time we were all materially devastated. He quickly told us that this didn't matter. What did matter was that we establish ourselves immediately in spiritual life. "Spiritual life is full of knowledge and bliss, and is above death and ignorance. The spiritual man sees the Supreme Lord everywhere and in every living being. Because he loves Krsna, he sees Him everywhere. Every living being is situated in Krsna, and Krsna is in every living being. The spiritual man does not see cows or men or women or fools; he only sees the Supreme Lord."

There were some of us who were still walking around in a marijuana stupor, but he had a way of snapping us out of this quickly without ever chastising us. Somehow or other he whipped us into shape without our even knowing it. "A man in Krsna consciousness does not walk around in a fog but does his work well and with the touch of an expert," he said. "When one enters Krsna consciousness he becomes a poet and writes hymns to God."

It wasn't that he simply took away our sex and drugs. This would not have been possible. Rather, he engaged us in something sublime. "The perfection of yoga is to see Krsna everywhere. Yet, even though the spiritual man sees Krsna everywhere, he still worships His form in the temple. He does not think that just because Krsna is everywhere it is of no use to go to the temple to worship. If Krsna is everywhere, He is also in the temple." Then he exhorted us to go out and spread the message of Krsna consciousness. "The real yogi also spreads his happiness to others. Because he has become happy through Krsna consciousness he tells others about it so they can become happy. This is the true meaning of spiritual socialism. This gives the maximum benefits to the most people. Krsna Himself says that no man is dearer to Him than one who thus helps others." Then he assured us that once established in our new position we would never want to fall back into our old ways. "When one enters into the kingdom of God, he will know how unhappy he was in the material contamination. He will not want to go back."

One of the most prominent myths he had to explode was a myth provoked by psychedelics, that of anthropomorphism, the belief that man could become God. "Returning to Krsna does not mean becoming Krsna. When a son returns home to his father, he does not become his father. We can even become the father of Krsna, but we can never be equal to Him. We will always be subordinate to Him." I will never forget one lecture in which, as often happened, he was attacking a famous impersonalist commentary to the verse, "On Me fix thy mind; to Me be devoted; worship Me; revere Me; thus having disciplined thyself, with Me as thy goal, to Me shalt thou come." (Bg. 9.34) The impersonalist scholar commented: "It is not the personal Krsna to whom we have to give ourselves up utterly, but the unborn, beginningless, eternal who speaks through Krsna." Whenever Srila Prabhupada had Rayarama read this passage at a lecture, he would explode into a furious diatribe. "Just see what a nonsense rascal. Krsna is standing there and says, 'To Me; worship Me.' And he, a very great scholar, says it is not to the personal Krsna but to some void. Just see what a rascal number one." After listening to this diatribe for about a month, Kirtanananda finally, at the end of a lecture, said, "I don't see where he's actually wrong. Krsna is in all of us. So if we surrender to the unborn within all of us, then we attain the ultimate."

And he went on in this way. Srila Prabhupada didn't say a word. Kirtanananda finally ran down, and Srila Prabhupada asked, "Are you finished now?" When Kirtanananda acknowledged that he was, Srila Prabhupada suddenly began to roar like the lion incarnation. "Krsna is standing right before you and He says, 'You worship Me,' and you mean to say you do not worship Krsna? You mean worship some void, unborn? Krsna is before Arjuna and He says, 'On Me fix thy mind. To Me be devoted. Worship Me!' You do not understand? A nonsense rascal says it is not to Krsna, so you want to worship such a nonsense rascal? 'Not to the personal Krsna,' he says, and Krsna says, 'Worship Me.'" We all sat in shocked silence. Kirtanananda didn't say another word. I remember that I thought this attack very harsh, but Umapati thought it was justified. "He's right," Umapati said afterwards. "None of the commentators mention worshiping Krsna, but Krsna clearly says, 'Worship Me.' You've read Bhagavad-gita before. Have you ever thought of worshiping Krsna?" I had to admit that although I had read Gita three or four times before, worshiping Krsna had never entered my mind. Later I came to understand that most scholars and swamis avoid the clear command of this verse, although they teach from Bhagavad-gita. Indeed, the following year in San Francisco I bluntly asked one celebrated Swami Mayananda, "Do you worship Krsna?" He was sitting in a chair, and I was standing over him when I asked the question, and he jumped to his feet and shouted, "No! Why should I?" His eyes flashed, and he was furious and he chided me that Krsna is nothing but the Self that is within all of us.

Thus Srila Prabhupada's first job was to establish that the supreme aspect of the Absolute Truth is a person and that we are to worship this person. By and large we were mostly impersonalists addicted to inactivity. We were concerned about mukti, nirvana or liberation from all material action, but he deluged us with words and showed us how action for the sake of the Supreme is on the spiritual platform and is superior to inaction. This essentially is the message of Bhagavad-gita, for Lord Krsna tells Arjuna to fight, "but do it for Me." Srila Prabhupada said, "When one works for Krsna and chants His name, he is already liberated and living on the spiritual plane. Just as one feels heat as soon as he touches something hot, one is liberated as soon as he enters into the service of Krsna."

We all felt that we had just touched something very hot. Certainly no one doubted that our long slumber had been disturbed.

Use back button to return.

Return to top

Krsna Eternally Invites Us

A fully Krsna conscious person never sees anything as accident or chance because he sees Krsna's hand in all things. Actually, there is no such thing as chance; when we say that an event happens by chance or by accident, this simply means that we are unfamiliar with the reasons why it happens. There is a cause behind everything. When an apple falls from a tree, it is not by chance that it falls down to the ground rather than up to the sky; there is a natural law which is acting. Similarly, there are laws of nature—both simple and complex which rule all the events of this world.

In Krsna consciousness, also, nothing happens by chance or accident. If someone sees devotees in the streets or hears the chanting of Hare Krsna, it is not by accident. If he is offered a copy of Back to Godhead, or invited to come to a Krsna consciousness temple, it is not merely a coincidence. One should understand that behind all these events is the sweet desire of Krsna, who is personally inviting him to become Krsna conscious.

Lord Sri Krsna, as the Supreme Lord, the father of all living entities, feels natural affection for all His sons, and He feels very sorry if one of His sons separates himself from his eternal family to come to the material world. As a father is always anxious to find a lost son, so Krsna is always anxious to reclaim the illusioned living beings who have forgotten Him and are lost in the complexities of the material world. He therefore tries in different ways to get them back. Sometimes He comes to this world Himself, or sometimes He sends His son or servant, always with the same mission—to ask us to turn our faces toward Him and to kindly rejoin Him in the spiritual world.

The Krsna consciousness movement is Krsna Himself, asking us to come back to Him. The devotees are His servants, the books are His words, and the chanting of Hare Krsna is the sound of His holy name. The Krsna conscious movement is an opportunity for everyone—regardless of temporary designations of race, religion or nationality—to revive his eternal spiritual nature as a servant of the Supreme Lord. It is a supreme call to all living entities to come back home, back to Godhead.

In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, Krsna gives us a way to come back to Him which is very simple and beautiful and which can be adopted by anyone in any part of the world. It is simply to chant His holy name, dance in ecstasy, taste food which has first been offered to Him in love, and relish discussions about His name, fame, qualities and pastimes. This is a universal method authorized in revealed scriptures for this age, and therefore anyone, without having any previous qualifications, can participate in the Krsna consciousness movement and thus attain the perfection of life.

Use back button to return.

Return to top