Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
It is the transcendental ambition of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness to save man from individual and collective victimization by the false values of modern society so that he may again be a free soul and live an inspired life with spiritual vision. The modern trend in human civilization leads to a polished type of animal life, for it stresses advancement of the animal propensities of eating, sleeping, sense gratification and defense as the standard of human progress, neglecting the culture of self-realization and spiritual values. The Krsna consciousness movement does not propose to stop the basic necessities of life, but it seeks to check this one-sided imbalance by introducing a universal method for spiritual reawakening and enlightenment centered around the chanting of the holy names Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The sound of these names of God can at once create an atmosphere of peace and harmony in which the free soul can enjoy his real life of happiness and pure consciousness. It is the purpose of Back to Godhead to assist human society to cross the limited boundaries of mundane progress and enter this joyful transcendental atmosphere of Krsna consciousness.
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His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Bhaktivinode Thakura said, krsnera samsara kara chadi 'anacara: everyone can engage in family or worldly life, but one simply has to abandon his destructive habits. This is not a question of negation; it is positive understanding. Simply negating material existence by impersonal voidist philosophy, in India called Mayavadi philosophy, is not sufficient. There must be a positive platform. Without it, simply giving up something negative will not in itself help us progress in spiritual life. If we have no positive destination, simply abandoning or trying to abandon our present condition is of no value.
Spirit Has Form
There are two kinds of Mayavadi philosophy. One, called voidism, for lack of a more positive name, states that the origin of everything is simply void. Generally, Buddhist philosophy advocates voidism in that the Buddhists maintain that this material existence is a combination of material elements and that when these material elements are dismantled, whatever was formed by the combination again becomes void. We may bring some iron, wood, stone, cement and other ingredients together to make a large house, but when we separate the bricks, iron, wood and so on, the construction becomes void. The voidists maintain that material miseries arise from a combination of matter. The bodies of living entities are certainly combinations of material elements—earth, water, fire, air, ether—and subtle elements such as mind, intelligence, and false ego. These are all considered material, and somehow or other they are combined to make an abode of misery. The voidists say, "Separate them and there will be no more happiness or distress."
The other Mayavadi philosopher, the impersonalist, says, brahma satyam jagan-mithya: this material combination is false, but behind it there is spirit. This is also a fact because matter can only grow when there is spirit within. If a child is born dead, it will not grow even if we somehow keep it chemically preserved. The body will not develop unless the spirit soul is present within. It is a generally accepted fact that matter grows because of spirit, but the impersonalists say that this spirit is impersonal, that it has no form and is formless. The Krsna consciousness philosophy takes exception to both of these theories of the Mayavadi philosophers.
The philosophy of Krsna consciousness maintains that spirit is a fact and that indeed the spirit has form. If one's body is round and bulky, one's suit, his coat and pants, will also be round and bulky. Because the body has arms and legs, one's suit has them also. The external material body is compared to one's clothes in that it covers the spirit soul. If the spiritual body, which the material body clothes, is void, then why does the material body have form? The impersonalists cannot answer this, but Bhagavad-gita explains it clearly:
vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya
"As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones." (Bg. 2.22)
Once we had the bodies of infants and children, but now those bodies are changed. When this body becomes too old, the spirit soul gives it up and accepts another. The spirit soul has form, but it is so small that its length and breadth cannot be estimated by material means. Material scientists can only estimate intermediate manifestations; they cannot estimate the smallest, and they cannot estimate the greatest. In other words, they cannot measure the vastness of outer space, nor can they measure the minuscular particle which is the spirit soul. Indeed, the spirit soul is so infinitesimally small that it is stated in Vedic literatures to be no larger than one ten thousandth the size of the tip of a hair. In other words, it cannot be seen by the most powerful microscope available. Modern science has no suitable instrument to actually measure the soul. Consequently, out of frustration they say that the soul is formless. In actuality, however, the soul is not formless; they simply have no instrument to measure it, that's all.
Similarly, because the impersonalists cannot measure the greatest and the smallest, the infinite and the infinitesimal, they say that God and the spirit soul are formless. The Krsna consciousness philosophy, however, maintains that both God and the individual soul have form. The difference is that God is infinite and the spirit soul is infinitesimal. Otherwise they are qualitatively one, just as a drop of sea water and the great sea itself are qualitatively one. Quantitatively there is no comparing the sea and the drop of water, just as there is no comparing the individual soul with the supreme soul. According to the Krsna consciousness philosophy, one should accept one's position as a drop in comparison to the infinite. As often said, God is great, and we are small; our position is to serve the great. That is natural, for everywhere we find the smaller serving the greater. God is great, greater than anything else, and since nothing is equal to Him, it is the constitutional position of all living entities to serve Him. That rendering of service is called Krsna consciousness.
Negating Material Existence
Instead of artificially attempting to negate material existence, the members of this society for Krsna consciousness are trying to enter into a real existence by chanting the Hare Krsna mahamantra, studying the philosophy of Bhagavad-gita, and rendering service to the society which is devoted to spreading the philosophy of Krsna consciousness throughout the world. In this way material existence is automatically negated by entering into the reality. When we come to the reality, we automatically become healthy in the sense that we become freed from this material disease, which is symptomized by the material body which is always full of disease. It is not that because we are diseased we have form and that when we become free from disease we become formless. This is the Mayavadi contention, and it is nonsense. At what stage in our development do we become formless? The impersonalists say that the formless state is attained at death, but in Bhagavad-gita, Krsna says, "For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain." (Bg. 2.27) It is not possible, therefore, to remain in a formless situation. The point is that we should keep our form but keep it in a healthy condition. This means realizing our spiritual form or spiritual identity, which is svarupa. It is an insanity to think, "Because I have this form, I am feeling pain and pleasure, so now let me become formless." This is strictly a materialistic view of the form of the spirit soul. The real point is to keep the form in a healthy condition; this healthy condition is called mukti, or liberation from material conceptions.
How is this possible? All one has to do is simply dovetail everything to Krsna, to steep one's life in Krsna consciousness. For example, under the spell of maya, people are moved to dance. In any case, dancing will continue, but in one case one person is dancing in the ballroom for his own personal gratification, and another person is dancing in a temple for the satisfaction of Krsna. There is a vast difference between the two. Ballroom dancing is conducted on the platform of the material body, but in Krsna consciousness dancing is on the spiritual platform. Therefore the Society for Krishna Consciousness invites everyone to come dance and sing to relish transcendental pleasure. That is the real program of this Krsna consciousness movement. It is not very difficult; a child can also dance and clap. By real singing and dancing, we can make advancement in spiritual life. The living entity can continue singing, dancing, eating, sleeping, and mating, but he should permeate these things with Krsna consciousness or God consciousness. Everyone is seeking after eternal happiness, and this is the program. There is no question of trying to merge with the void or become formless.
The Dance of Eternity
In the Bhagavad-gita it is stated that our next body is determined by our mental condition at the time of death. How does this happen? Lord Krsna gives the following example:
sariram yad avapnoti
srotram caksuh sparsanam ca
utkramantam sthitam vapi
"The living entity in the material world carries his different conceptions of life, as the air carries aromas. Thus does he take one kind of body and again quit it to take another. The living entity, thus taking another gross body, obtains a particular type of ear, sense of touch, tongue, and nose, centered about the mind. He thus enjoys a particular set of sense objects. The foolish cannot understand how a living entity can quit his body, or what sort of body he enjoys under the spell of the modes of nature. But one whose eyes are trained in knowledge can see." (Bg. 15.8-10)
The air carries the aroma of roses from a rose garden, but if the air happens to pass over a sewer, it will carry the obnoxious odor of waste products. The air is pure, but according to the situation it carries either pleasing or unpleasing odors. The spirit soul is also pure, being part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, but due to its association with material nature it is manifest in different bodies. Different bodies are constantly being acquired. It is a fact that even in our present life we pass through so many different bodies—a baby's body, a child's body, a boy's, a young man's, a mature man's, and finally an old man's. Finally, when in old age the body becomes useless, we accept another body. This is called transmigration of the soul.
Our next body will be created according to the consciousness which we are presently culturing. Therefore this human form of life is especially meant for cultivating Krsna consciousness so that when we leave this body and accept another, we get a body like Krsna's—that is, a sac-cid-ananda body, an eternal body of bliss and knowledge. That is the purpose of this Krsna consciousness movement. We are trying to change the consciousness of all peoples so that they can get a body exactly like Krsna's in their next life. In a spiritual body like Krsna's, it is possible to dance with Krsna in the rasa dance of eternity. That is the highest goal a living entity can attain; personal association with Krsna.
Those who are actually in knowledge know what kind of bodies they will get in the next life. A man knows that he is going to London because he purchases an airplane ticket for that destination. Similarly, anyone can know where he is going after death by knowing the consciousness he has cultivated during this life. It is stated in Bhagavad-gita that one takes his next body in accordance to the particular mode predominating at one's death: those who die in the mode of ignorance attain animal bodies and the bodies of those in the lower species. One who dies in the mode of passion attains a human form on a planet like the earth; and one who dies in the mode of goodness is promoted to the higher planetary systems and attains a body like a demigod. All of these bodies, however, are temporary. If one is fortunate to die in Krsna consciousness, he attains an eternal body like Krsna's and associates with the Supreme Lord in His eternal abode. Once that body is attained, it is not changed. Therefore from the scriptures we can understand that the people in general have to be taught to live in the mode of goodness. At least in this way they'll be guaranteed a life in a higher planetary system, if not liberation.
The Vedic civilization is thus meant to elevate people. At the present moment we are most fallen, having been put in this material world as criminals. Wanting to enjoy material nature, we have been put here to attempt this enjoyment, and consequently wherever we go we see people struggling hard to enjoy themselves. Everyone is thinking, "I shall enjoy myself and become great. I shall become prime minister or president. I shall be a big merchant or a big leader." When the living entity fails at everything, he finally thinks, "Now I shall become God." All of these aspirations, even the desire to become God, are material. Therefore Krsna says that we cannot become happy by practicing a religious system which is based on the idea of increasing sense enjoyment or becoming one with God.
Some religious systems maintain that by practicing certain religious principles one can go to the heavenly planets and enjoy beautiful women and drink soma juice for ten thousand years. This may sound like a great promotion to a mere earthling, but as anyone can see this is simply a more advanced materialistic life. There is nothing spiritual about it. When one finally understands that there can be no actual happiness in this way, he declares the material world to be false, saying, "This universe is false—now let me search out Brahman." Unfortunately this philosophy negates the spark of enjoyment which is within every living entity. The scriptures say that such elevated persons, believing this world to be false and not knowing Krsna, become impersonalists and voidists to detach themselves from false engagements and negate material enjoyments. Many religious systems are manufactured on such a platform—how to enjoy oneself to the fullest extent and how to become zero. Actually we are neither enjoyers nor are we zeros; therefore Krsna rejects any religious system which is based on false renunciation or material enjoyment. We mistakenly take this material world as a fact and consequently try to enjoy it, and when we become frustrated, we try to make it zero. Actually it is not zero, nor is there any cause for frustration. We simply have to receive the right knowledge regarding it.
This right knowledge is given in Bhagavad-gita by Lord Krsna, who says:
samam sarvesu bhutesu
"In this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer, who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who is existing as overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul. One who sees the Supersoul accompanying the individual soul in all bodies, and understands that neither the soul nor the Supersoul is ever destroyed, actually sees." (Bg 13.23, 28)
If we simply understand that Krsna is the only enjoyer, our propensity to become false enjoyers will be vanquished. We must simply admit: "I am not the enjoyer; Krsna is the enjoyer." If we understand this, there is no question of renunciation. Krsna also says, "I am the proprietor of all planetary systems." If this is the case, and it is, then what is there for us to renounce? Since Krsna is the proprietor of everything, there is no question of renunciation, and if He is the only enjoyer, there is no meaning to our separate or independent enjoyment. If we try to enjoy or usurp another's property, we become thieves, and if we renounce the property of another, we become pretenders, for in actuality we have nothing to renounce. This is our position, and one who knows this perfectly well is to be known to be situated in Krsna consciousness.
We should know for certain that Krsna is not poor. Isavasyam idam sarvam: "Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord." (Isopanisad, Mantra 1) If we remain satisfied with whatever is given to us by Krsna, and if we remain in Krsna consciousness, always thinking, "My father is so kind and rich. Let me abide by His orders and live peacefully," then the world and ourselves will actually become peaceful. But as soon as we want to encroach on another's property and enjoy more than is allotted us by the Lord, we automatically become criminals. In order to become free from criminal offenses, we have to abide by the many prescriptions given in the scriptures. These prescriptions are of the nature of tapasya or penance. One is practicing tapasya when he would like to steal another's property but thinks, "No, it would be criminal. My father said that it is criminal, and therefore I shall not take it." We all have the inclination to steal, to usurp other's things, but we must restrain ourselves and act in accordance to the laws of Krsna, who is our Father.
This process may at first seem a little difficult, but if we actually study Krsna consciousness we will not only understand Krsna but will be happy and liberated. In Bhagavad-gita Krsna says that if one simply understands Him, as He is, he will be liberated. Understanding Krsna superficially is not real knowledge. Krsna also states in Bhagavad-gita that it is very difficult to understand Him, but despite this if one is fortunate and sincere, he can readily understand. Krsna says that there is no truth higher than Him, and if one is fortunate enough to understand this and follow the advice of Krsna, he is on the path of liberation. One who has the fortune to discriminate can understand Krsna very easily, but the association of devotees is also required. It is very difficult to know Krsna when one is removed from the association of Krsna's devotees, and therefore this International Society for Krishna Consciousness is formed in order to give everyone an opportunity to associate with devotees of Krsna and also become devotees. This movement is open to everyone because Krsna is everyone's father. We should not think that Krsna is a Hindu God or is for the Indians and not the others. He is for everyone. If He were not, how could He be God? God cannot be God simply for a particular type of man or for a particular section of society. God is God for all human beings, beasts, aquatics, insects, trees, plants—all the varieties of creation. That is God. When we come to understand Him in His universality, and when we come to realize our relationship with Him, we will have arrived at Krsna consciousness.
As foretold in Vedic scriptures, the Supreme Personality of Godhead appeared on earth 500 years ago in the form of Lord Caitanya, who is God Himself playing the role of a devotee of Godhead. The eight verses entitled Sri Sri Siksastakam, which were the only written instructions of Lord Caitanya, reveal the essence of the Krsna consciousness movement.
Sri Sri Siksastakam
translated by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
ayi nandatanuja kinkaram
O son of Maharaja Nanda [Krsna], I am Your eternal servitor, yet somehow or other I have fallen into the ocean of birth and death. Please pick me up from this ocean of death and place me as one of the atoms of Your lotus feet.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Krsna Himself, but in order to teach us the way of devotional service, He is speaking like a conditioned soul. Krsna came at the end of Dvapara-yuga and spoke Bhagavad-gita for the enlightenment of all living beings. However, many people misunderstood His teachings, and therefore He came again in Kali-yuga as Sri Caitanya to show us by His own personal example how to live Bhagavad-gita.
Sri Krsna came in blackish color and manifested Himself as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but Sri Krsna Caitanya came in golden color in the garb of a devotee and never allowed Himself to be called God, although He actually was God. Because Sri Krsna appeared in His original humanlike form and declared Himself to be the Supreme, many people mistook Him to be a man and thought that they were God also. Lord Caitanya wanted to teach us that man should never think himself to be God or allow himself to be addressed as such.
If the teacher shows the student how to practice writing the alphabet by his own example, we should not think that he is doing it to learn himself. Although Sri Caitanya posed Himself as a devotee of the Lord, He is understood by advanced transcendentalists to be the Lord Himself on the basis of scriptural evidence and the performance of feats that no living entity can perform.
In contemporary times, some people are declaring themselves to be incarnations of God without any scriptural evidence or performance of superhuman feats, and the foolish public is accepting them as such simply on sentiment. God is not a cheap thing, and Lord Caitanya was not that kind of incarnation; He displayed the full potency of God. The living entity is originally entangled in the material nature due to his perverted desire for becoming God. If in trying to get free of material bondage he again falsely declares himself God, that is the last snare of maya. Therefore, Lord Caitanya humbly prays for the mercy of the Lord.
The Lord likes to be addressed in connection with His devotee; therefore He is called the son of Maharaja Nanda, Yasoda-nandana, Radha-ramana, etc. The living entity is eternally a servant of God, but when he forgets his constitutional position, he is placed in the material world. When by the good association of a pure devotee of the Lord the conditioned soul becomes aware of his real position, he prays for the mercy of the Almighty to again allow him to engage in the service of the Lord. The Hare Krsna mantra—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—is the ideal prayer in this regard. It can be translated as follows: "O energy of the Lord, Srimati Radharani! O Supreme Lord Krsna! I am very tired of serving the inferior material nature. Please allow me to be engaged in Your loving service once again." Everyone must serve. Either we serve Krsna or we serve maya. If we serve maya she simply kicks us in return, but if we serve Krsna we gain the highest happiness.
O my Lord, when will my eyes be decorated with tears of love flowing constantly when I chant Your holy name? When will my voice choke up, and when will the hairs of my body stand on end at the recitation of Your name?
When Lord Caitanya questioned His spiritual master on the effect of chanting the holy name, the spiritual master said: "It is the transcendental nature of the holy names of Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare to transport a man into spiritual madness. Anyone who sincerely chants the holy name is actually elevated very soon onto the platform of love of God, and therefore he becomes mad after Him. This madness of love of God is the first perfectional stage of the human being."
This is the stage of ecstasy known as bhava, and it is manifested outwardly by certain bodily symptoms such as crying, choking up of the voice, bodily perturbations, laughing, dancing, falling on the ground, etc. This stage is attainable by one who has been initiated into the chanting of the holy name—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—by a bona fide spiritual master coming in the disciplic succession from Lord Caitanya. The mantra must be received from the right source. Milk is a very nutritious food, but when it is touched by the lips of a serpent it has poisonous effect. As far as possible, one should only hear the chanting of the holy name from the lips of a pure devotee. Then it will have the proper effect.
The disciple receives the transcendental sound vibration from the spiritual master through aural reception. If the disciple follows in the footsteps of his spiritual master and chants the holy name with great faith and sincerity under the order and protection of the spiritual master and avoids the ten kinds of offenses in chanting the holy names, he will come to the perfectional stage without a doubt. One should be very eager to make progress to this stage, but it is not to be imitated artificially. It will come of its own accord as one progresses in love of God.
Lord Caitanya was always absorbed in the highest ecstasy of love of God, but He warns against those who make a cheap show of ecstasy in order to fool the innocent public. A real devotee is never fooled by such cheap showbottle displays. One who is in the stage of bhava is free from all material contaminations, and therefore his character is spotless. In fact, the real devotee does not like to display symptoms of ecstasy before the general public because they do not understand such manifestations.
O Govinda! Feeling Your separation, I am considering a moment to be like twelve years or more. Tears are flowing from my eyes like torrents of rain, and I am feeling all vacant in the world in Your absence.
There is an exoteric and esoteric reason for the advent of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The exoteric reason for His advent is the propagation of the holy sankirtana movement which is the yuga-dharma or prescribed spiritual engagement for this age of Kali. The esoteric reason is quite different. The Lord propagated the Sri Krsna Sankirtana for the benefit of all living entities, but He came for a purpose of His own also.
Sri Jiva Gosvami writes in his work Gopala-campu, "The pleasures of enjoyment of the rasa [mellow devotional relationship] could not be had in their entirety in the pastimes of Krsna in Vraja. He [Krsna] accepts the emotion and effulgence of His predominated moiety, Sri Radhika, and makes an eternal pastime for the enjoyment of Krsna-rasa. Sri Krsnacandra, coveting to taste and realize the following pleasures—viz., (1) the nature of the greatness of the love of Sri Radha, (2) the nature of the wonderful sweetness of His love which Sri Radhika tastes, (3) the nature of the exquisite joy that accrues to Sri Radha by Her realization of the sweetness of His love took His birth, like the moon in the ocean, in the womb of Sri Sacidevi."
When Lord Caitanya and Sri Ramananda Raya were discussing transcendental subjects on the bank of the Godavari, Ramananda Raya said, "Sir, I may request that You don't try to hide Yourself. I understand that You have accepted the complexion and mode of thinking of Srimati Radharani. You are trying to understand Yourself from the viewpoint of Radharani, and You have advented Yourself to take this point of view. Your incarnation is chiefly for understanding Your Own Self, but side by side You are distributing love of Krsna to the world."
Lord Caitanya then manifested His real form of Radha and Krsna before Ramananda. Ramananda Raya fainted in ecstasy. The Lord revived him, and he was surprised to see Lord Caitanya again in His dress of a mendicant. Lord Caitanya said to Ramananda, "You have understood the purpose of My incarnation, and therefore you are privileged to see this particular feature of My personality. My dear Ramananda, I am not a different person with a fair complexion. I am the Selfsame Krsna—son of Maharaja Nanda and due to contact with the body of Srimati Radharani I have now assumed this form. Srimati Radharani does not touch anyone else but Krsna, and therefore Srimati Radharani has influenced Me with Her complexion, mind and words, and I am just trying to understand the transcendental flavor of Krsna's relationship with Her."
The fact is that both Krsna and Lord Caitanya are the Original Personality of Godhead. In His form of Sri Krsna He is the Supreme Enjoyer, and in His form of Lord Caitanya He is the Supreme Enjoyed. Persons who are fortunate enough to understand Lord Caitanya as well as the pastimes at Vrndavana of Radha and Krsna can be able, by the mercy of Sri Rupa Gosvami, to know about the real identity of Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
In this verse, Sriman Mahaprabhu, Lord Caitanya, is absorbed in the feeling of Srimati Radharani. When Krsna was absent from the company of the gopis, they keenly felt His separation and considered the world vacant in His absence. The gopis were completely dedicated to the service of Krsna. They had no other purpose in life, and of all the gopis, Srimati Radharani is the foremost, being possessed of the highest love of God, which is known as mahabhava.
To acquire this strong feeling of separation is the teaching of Lord Caitanya and His direct disciplic succession of Gosvamis. When the gopis were not in physical contact with Krsna, they were constantly remembering Him along with His transcendental pastimes, qualities, name, etc. In this way they could always be with Krsna because His transcendental name, form, qualities, pastimes, etc., are all nondifferent from Him. Such devotees cannot live for a moment without remembering Krsna. This is the highest perfectional level of love of God, and by performing devotional service to Krsna with feelings of separation one can attain the level of the gopis.
aslisya va padaratam pinastu mam
I know no one but Krsna as my Lord, and He shall remain so even if He handles me roughly in His embrace or makes me brokenhearted by not being present before me. He is completely free to do anything and everything, for He is always my worshipful Lord unconditionally.
Lord Caitanya is teaching us the highest love of Krsna, and He is teaching us to worship only Krsna. The best mode of worship is that which is practiced by the gopis. The gopis are mad after Krsna and Krsna only. When Krsna played on His flute and called the gopis to Him, they left every thing—husbands, sons, fathers, mothers and ran to Krsna, not caring for any impediments. Even after giving up everything for Krsna, Krsna left them, and they simply became madder after Him. Once Krsna was hiding from the gopis, and as they searched for Him everywhere, they came upon the spot where He was hiding, and Krsna assumed His four-armed form of Narayana in order to escape their detection. The gopis saw the Supreme Personality of Godhead Narayana standing there, offered their obeisances, and asked if He had seen Krsna anywhere. Then they went on searching for Krsna, not caring even for the majestic opulence of Narayana. The pure devotee of Krsna knows that other forms such as Narayana, Rama, Nrsimha and Varaha are also God, but he is only attracted to the form of Krsna, which is the original of all forms.
In his Sri Brahma-samhitaa, Lord Brahma prays: "I worship Govinda, the Primeval Lord, who manifested Himself personally as Krsna and the different avataras [incarnations] in the world in the forms of Rama, Nrsimha, Vamana, etc., as His subjective portions." His subjective portions as the avataras, viz., Rama, etc., appear from Vaikuntha (the majestic extension of the spiritual world), and His own form Krsna manifests Himself in this world with Vraja (His abode) from Goloka (the original spiritual planet). Krsna is not an avatara, but He is the avatari, or source of all avataras.
Lord Brahma further explains this as follows: "The light of one candle, being communicated to other candles, although it burns separately in them, is the same in its quality. I adore the Primeval Lord Govinda who exhibits Himself equally in the same mobile manner in His various manifestations."
Although all the subjective portions of Krsna as described above possess the same transcendental nature as Krsna and are Godhead Himself, Krsna possesses certain superexcellent qualities that are not found in His plenary portions. Lord Caitanya is establishing exclusive devotion to Sri Krsna, who is the fountainhead of all transcendental rasas, or mellow relationships, and is the Lord of the gopis in Vraja.
The gopis love Krsna no matter how He treats them. The gopis dedicated their lives to Krsna, but Krsna left them and went to Mathura, never to return again to Vrndavana. The gopis became brokenhearted and spent the rest of their lives feeling intense separation from Krsna and remembering Him constantly. Their love for Him did not diminish in the least, but it became even more intense. If a person has no money but after some time accumulates some wealth and then loses it, he will think of the lost property twenty-four hours a day. Similarly, in order to increase the love of His devotees, Krsna sometimes appears to be lost to them, and instead of forgetting Him, they feel their loving sentiments for Him increase.
That is the way of real love. In spite of abuse, ill treatment, neglect, etc., the love goes on increasing. There is not the slightest tinge of selfish desire or lust in the love affairs of Krsna and the gopis. The gopis want only to serve Krsna and satisfy His senses, and Krsna wants only to satisfy His devotees and reciprocate their love for Him. One should be prepared to sacrifice everything for the satisfaction of Krsna, and he will not be the loser but will gain a millionfold. Krsna ever remains a debtor to one who sacrifices everything for Him.
While Lord Caitanya was residing at Jagannatha Puri, He was constantly absorbed in these feelings of the gopis in separation from Krsna. He is teaching this worship of Krsna in separation as the highest perfection of Krsna consciousness. This teaching is coming down through the six Gosvamis of Vrndavana and their disciplic succession known as the Madhva-Gaudiya-Sampradaya.
The subject matter of these eight verses is the essence of all knowledge, and the philosophy of Lord Caitanya has been elaborated upon by His disciples in the most voluminous, exacting and consistent manner of any religious culture in the world. The English-reading public will do well to go through the works of our beloved spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, in order to get an increased understanding of the subject briefly presented above.
Thus end the Subaladasa Svami purports to "Sri Sri Siksastakam," entitled "Lord Caitanya's Mission and Precepts."
By His Holiness Satsvarupa Dasa Gosvami
In Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna tells His disciple Arjuna, "I shall give you the most secret wisdom," and our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, declares that Krsna consciousness is the most confidential knowledge. So what is the secret? And how can it be found out? Like any good secret, Krsna consciousness can only be revealed to one who can be trusted.
Srila Prabhupada tells a story from his own life to illustrate what it is to be accepted in confidence. When he was only twenty-two years old, Srila Prabhupada was placed as manager in charge of a department in the chemical concern of a Mr. Bose in India. Srila Prabhupada's father was a very intimate friend of Mr. Bose, and therefore the son was immediately able to take on a responsible post. From the very first day on the job, in fact, he was signing large checks on behalf of the company and was in charge of a number of workers in his department. Some of the older workers, however, were dissatisfied that a young man should suddenly be placed as their superior. Some of them were elderly and had been in the firm for forty years. After expressing their dissatisfaction among themselves, they finally decided to speak to Mr. Bose about the situation. When he was asked why the young man had at once been put in charge, Mr. Bose replied, "Oh, for that position I needed someone I could trust as my own son. I could only entrust the personal handling of my accounts in that department to him. His father and I are very close, and this young man is known to me practically as my son." In short, Srila Prabhupada's qualification was his intimate friendship; he could be trusted confidentially.
Similarly, the secrets of Krsna consciousness are revealed only to the confidential devotees of Lord Krsna. What are these secrets? Often people watch the Hare Krsna dancing and singing parties in the downtown streets of their cities, and they wonder about this mystery: Why is it that these boys and girls of American and European backgrounds have made this chanting of Hare Krsna their whole lives? Also, people who visit any of the many temples of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness sometimes wonder why these young persons have changed from the normal ways of modern civilization and taken to a life centered on transcendental consciousness. They wonder what it is that is attracting so many young men and women to Krsna consciousness, and sometimes they guess at the answers. But for most people it is a mystery.
Then there are those who have read or studied the sacred scripture Bhagavad-gita, which forms the basis of the Krsna consciousness philosophy. Bhagavad-gita—another mystery. Great scholars and professors of religion and philosophy have applied their intelligence to Bhagavad-gita, and they even attempt to teach it—but they cannot penetrate its mystery. They confess that they do not really know what it means. They are mystified. And, actually, Bhagavad-gita deals with a subject that is very mysterious and is therefore generally called "the unknown." What lies beyond death? What is eternity? What is God? Who am I? Why are we suffering? What is the purpose of existence? Where did we come from? The wonderful quality of the Bhagavad-gita is that it clearly answers all these questions. And it reveals even greater mysteries besides—but only to devotees.
This brings up another important characteristic of confidential knowledge. "Confidential means," Srila Prabhupada says, "that not everyone will like it." For example, a young father may want to show us a collection of photographs of his newly born baby, but if we are not friends of his, are we particularly interested in looking at a collection of baby pictures? No. Those pictures are actually confidential, and only those who are interested in the young man and his family want to see them, for they take real pleasure in looking at them. It is the same with knowledge about Krsna consciousness.
Krsna consciousness is the topmost yoga system, and Srila Prabhupada describes why it is that Krsna chose Arjuna as His disciple and told him the "most secret wisdom." "Arjuna is a devotee," Srila Prabhupada writes. "He is submissive, and he is in contact with Krsna as a friend. Therefore Krsna is revealing Himself to him. What is the qualification? Krsna says, 'One who has developed the service spirit with love and devotion can understand Me.' Not otherwise can He be reached. The big scholars and mental speculators cannot understand. But a child can understand Krsna if he has full faith in Him. So faith and devotion qualify one. Simply by such faith and service you will understand that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead."
In other words, certain persons, due to their devotion and service to Krsna, have had the secrets of Krsna consciousness revealed to them. Anyone can also become such a confidential devotee, provided he approaches one who is already a pure devotee and tries to learn from him by inquiry and service. The chief quality of such pure devotees of Krsna is that, more than anything else, they crave this confidential relationship with Krsna. They are mad after performing some service for Krsna. They will give up everything just to enter into this confidential association of Krsna.
It is only fair that we consider many readers who may be asking at this point, "Who is Krsna that just knowing Him solves all these questions, such as what is beyond death and what is God?" Who is Krsna? Srila Prabhupada has described in conversation what the devotees are aspiring for and whom they are thinking of when they say "Krsna."
"The earth spins and turns around the sun, and the sun spins, and the universe turns, and there are millions of such universes. And this is all running to the exact ten-thousandth of a second in the right way. Think of what a brain devised this plan! That is Krsna. And just think: We are trying to associate with such a personality. Think of how great our ambition is. It is no small thing."
Krsna is God, the supreme controller. Krsna is worshiped in churches, temples and mosques all over the world and the universes, and He is prayed to in thousands of different names, like Allah, Jehovah, etc. He is the one God without a second. Since time immemorial He has been coming Himself to the earth and sending His confidential messengers, incarnations and sages. He has sent His son, Lord Jesus Christ, and the prophet Mohammed. They have all proclaimed the same message: "You are all servants of God; kindly give up the senseless life of selfishness and just love God."
But although the Supreme Lord has broadcast through scriptures and through His pure devotees that the way to end suffering and bring about peace and prosperity is to love God, the world remains in misery and ignorance, and very few actually take up the confidential path of loving service to God. Now, in the current scientific age, there is even much propaganda saying, "God is dead," or, "There is no God." Thus people become confused by so many contradictory doctrines.
There is even rampant hypocrisy among so-called representatives of God—cheaters posing as pure, confidential devotees. In this way, since the secret mystery of Krsna consciousness has become covered up by man's madness, people think, "Well, there may or may not be God, but it is too confusing—let me simply enjoy life for now. If there is God, He won't mind." Thus they become content to be other than a friend of Krsna's. In despair, people turn to other activities, and they do not crave their original confidential association with Krsna. They forget that it is even worth their interest or that it is at all pleasurable to associate with God. Actually, it is impossible to even exist without Him, since we are eternally His parts and parcels, and yet we have fallen into forgetfulness of this greatest love, which is the very purpose of life. Rather, people now seek confidential knowledge on how to improve sex desire, how to succeed in business, how to become famous in the world, or how to become God oneself through yoga exercise. These materialistic versions of confidential knowledge are available, but they are just illusions, like mirages on the desert, and therefore they cannot satisfy. Each of us is originally and forever a servant of God. To be a servant of God means to live eternally in bliss and knowledge, but in confusion and in lust for enjoying without Him we have thrown away the secret.
Nonetheless, the situation is very hopeful. The devotees of Krsna are very hopeful because although people in this age are for the most part not interested in spiritual culture, they can still very easily begin Krsna consciousness and enjoy full spiritual bliss. This is the unique contribution and potent mystery of the Krsna consciousness movement. The mercy of this movement is that people in the grip of forgetfulness can very easily feel love of Krsna, which is itself the most intimate secret, by taking to the simple process of chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare.
Because there was no other hope, because people had completely fallen away from God consciousness, Krsna appeared in India 500 years ago as the incarnation called Lord Caitanya with a mission to show how to love Krsna. In other words, God Himself arranged to show us how to be devotees of God. It was for that purpose that Lord Caitanya came. His method, specifically, was chanting of the holy names of God, hearing of the glories of God from the lips of pure devotees, and taking prasadam, or food offered to Krsna. That is the gist of this dynamic movement of spiritual culture which is now sweeping over the present world situation.
The secret is open. The Hare Krsna mantra (chant) is the secret. Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Anyone can chant these holy names constantly, and there is no hard and fast rule to chanting. You can have it at no expense, and there is no tax. The benefit is very great. It is revealed—the name of Krsna is nondifferent from Krsna Himself. The name Krsna has all the qualities of the Supreme Person Krsna. If you chant Hare Krsna, you immediately enter His association. That is the sum and substance of the chanting. There is some initial difficulty only in that people are suspicious, for they are used to being exploited by free offers.
Srila Prabhupada's spiritual master, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, anticipating this reluctance, described that preaching Krsna consciousness is like going door to door with the best fruit, a nice fresh mango, and trying to give it away. People will be suspicious: "Oh, what is this? Why don't you want any money for it? What is the catch?" So they will be reluctant to take it. But even that difficulty is being overcome due to the overall attraction of devotional service.
The chanting, Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, is the special benediction for this age. What was possible in former ages only by many years of meditation or yoga or difficult austerities is now, by the mercy of Lord Caitanya, being distributed freely. That is especially because of the fallen nature of this age. It is frankly stated in the scripture Srimad-Bhagavatam: "Men in this iron age of quarrel are very short-lived. O learned men, they are also very lazy, misguided and unlucky, and, above all, they are always disturbed." (Bhag. 1.1.10)
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is a pure devotee in the disciplic line from Lord Caitanya, whose teaching is identical to that of Lord Krsna. Although Lord Krsna is merciful, in His form of Lord Caitanya He is even more merciful. Lord Krsna promised, "Do not be afraid, for I will grant you all protection. Just surrender to Me." But in His most merciful, liberal and generous form, His appearance as Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Krsna is simply saying, "Be joyful. Chant, dance, sing, take prasadam." It should be noted, however, that this movement is not sentimental. It is authorized by all the Vedic scriptures. Into the Hare Krsna mantra are compressed all the Vedic rituals and all other holy mantras. It is the conclusion of all Vedic study. For persons who, in the midst of this age of atheism, are at all interested in love of God, there is no surer way to success.
By their mercy, those who hold the secret have let it out, and they are energetically distributing it. The purpose of the loud congregational chanting of the names and glories of the Lord is to enable not just a few persons but all humanity to benefit. It is very sublime even to try to understand how infinite is God's mercy in the form of the Hare Krsna mantra. Because no one in this age can perform the difficult procedures of yoga and austerity, everyone can be brought to the topmost perfection and revive his confidential relationship with God just by chanting. The same qualifications still apply, however: one must receive this gift from one who is already a trusted confidential associate of the Lord. Such a person is very rare, but he is present. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is spreading this teaching everywhere—through literature, lectures, and by his deputed agents, his many spiritual sons and daughters—not for any personal motive but because he was ordered to do so by his spiritual master. You can inquire and verify for yourself that he is actually an intimate associate of Krsna.
All that remains is for you, on your part, to take this chanting. It is for this purpose that the Krsna consciousness centers are maintained. You can accept freely this matchless gift. Krsna consciousness temples dot the map, appearing in virtually every major United States city and many European and eastern cities, such as London, Hamburg, Bombay, Sydney and Singapore. They are like oases in the material desert. Every Sunday in each center, a feast is held. It is not an ordinary feast. The offering is sumptuous prasadam, which means spiritual food offered to Krsna, and the menu includes sweet rice, sanghasa (a spiced vegetable pastry), and laddus, a milk sweet which is so delicious that it is sought after by Krsna Himself, as described in the book, Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. These festivities can get you out of hellish existence. Go take part in the chanting and read the literature of Krsna consciousness. This is not a bluffing movement. You will feel spiritual strength. Take advantage of this special mercy being distributed in this age. Enter the confidential secrets of Krsna consciousness and find your happiness.
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is a worldwide institution for the development of the spiritual culture necessary for a progressive human civilization. In the following interview, Dr. Stillson Judah discusses the philosophy and activities of ISKCON with one of the Society's leaders, Karandhara dasa Adhikari, who is a personal secretary to ISKCON's founder and spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Dr. Judah, a well-known theological scholar, author and lecturer, is Dean of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, and is currently writing a book about the Hare Krsna movement.
Dr. Judah. Is it worth it to have the Vedic culture transplanted to America?
Karandhara. Well, of course, it is not possible to reinstitute the Vedic culture in this day and age. That is not what we are attempting. That would be a fanatical endeavor. Rather, we are simply trying to introduce the sankirtana movement. This congregational chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra, like we are doing, was introduced by Lord Caitanya. Lord Caitanya did not place much emphasis on the Vedic varnasrama-dharma or the brahminical caste system or anything like that. No. Regardless of one's position or sectarian designation or color or creed, He simply invited everyone to join in chanting the holy names of God. But as a helpful enhancement to our spiritual culture, we try to apply the principles of Vedic culture. These principles, namely cleanliness, austerity, truthfulness and mercy, are declared in the Srimad-Bhagavatam as universal principles for a spiritual culture. There is no question of sectarian dogma. These are operating principles of religiosity. Cleanliness—taking baths; austerity—limiting the eating, sleeping, and sex life. This is spiritual culture—to apply these principles. According to time and place, there may be different applications called for. The varnasrama-dharma is the scientific Vedic system for social and spiritual development within society. It is very scientific, but it is not possible in this age to reinstitute. So, rather, we try to engage everyone in chanting the holy names of God and then attempt to apply the principles as much as practically possible.
Q. What particular vehicle or activity for you is most important? Is it chanting, sankirtana [chanting] on the streets, going to aratrika [a temple ceremony] or japa [chanting on beads]?
A. The chanting. Either out loud or japa. That is most important. That is the gift of Lord Caitanya. He delivered this chanting process. So of all gifts, this is the most sublime. Therefore Lord Caitanya is called the most magnanimous person. He has given what no one else has given ever—He has given love of Krsna. And the way He has given us love of Krsna is through this chanting. This will deliver love of God.
Q. Is it more important to chant on your own or with devotees?
A. Chanting with devotees becomes super-potent. Just like if you want to learn science, if you want to learn biology, what is more conducive—to gather with biology scholars and study in their association or to study by oneself? Studying by oneself may not exclude you from understanding biology, but it will be far more easy, generally, to join the association of other students. Chanting in association is far more potent. So if it is a helpful thing, why should we reject it? Rupa Gosvami recommends that one should take the association of devotees.
Q. How important is it to witness to others, to witness as a devotee?
A. It is one's duty. That is simple compassion. That is not a question of gauging values or morals; it is one's duty. It should be inspired out of compassion; when you see someone suffering, there should be some compassion. Why should we be heartless and cold? That is not human; that is animal. "Human" means compassionate. The actual self-realized soul sees everyone suffering. In any condition of life, young or old, rich or poor, everyone in the material world is suffering. Therefore one feels compassion. That is natural; that is human.
Q. How would you explain the benefits of living at the temple?
A. Well, of course, Krsna consciousness means just remembering Krsna, so living at the temple affords obvious advantages. There is very nice Deity worship in which Krsna is worshiped with all paraphernalia which is very pleasing to the eyes and to the ears. There are nice devotees—they are cent per cent engaged in Krsna's service—and a nice environment is created, a spiritual atmosphere. So it is very helpful for remembering Krsna. The idea is to remember Krsna.
Living in the temple may or may not be necessary. There is a story of Tagore, the poet. He was illiterate. He did not go to school, but he was a very great poet, so he won, at one time, an honorary degree from Oxford. Oxford is a very famous school, a difficult school to graduate from, and although Tagore never went to school, he won a degree from Oxford. But we should not think, "I shall sit, and I will also win a degree from Oxford." No, we must study very hard and take all the assistance we can. Just like you go to the store to buy books for help in an English course or some other course. You should take advantage of everything you can. Why reject? So coming to live in the temple is simply making the supreme step full-time. If one does not live in the temple, it does not mean exclusion from advancement. This process is open for everyone, everywhere, but if one can accept and take advantage of what is there, then why not? Otherwise, if there is some reason or other that one cannot, then no matter. Let him go on wherever he is, but the main thing is to remember Krsna.
Q. Is this the first time you have lived in a group situation like this? Could you compare it to any commune you have lived in?
A. Well, the communes are there, but they are never successful. What is a commune? Commune is simply a question of degree. I may have lived in a commune in the mountains, but before that I lived in a commune of the United States. Commune this, commune that—it is simply a relative designation. We are communal in the universe, we are communal in the planet, we are communal in the state, we are communal in the city. None of those will be successful without Krsna consciousness. This is explained in Isopanisad: If something is God-centered, then that is its perfection. Any "ism"—this "ism," that "ism," humanitarianism, altruism, communism, capitalism, whatever the "ism"—if it is not God-centered, then it is worthless. If it is God-centered, it is perfect. So communists, capitalists, humanists, altruists, communalists—if their consciousness is God-centered, then they will become perfect, and if it is not God-centered, they are doomed. You can extend that to society, to community, to race or to individual. Even your own individual existence will be doomed unless you can make it actually God-fixed, God-realized.
Q. I would like to know something about what goes on in the temple as far as how you would deal with people who are angry with each other.
A. This is the material world, and after all, the material world is always imperfect. In Krsna consciousness, we are not making some adjustment for the material world. There is no adjustment to make here. It is full of birth, death, pain, misery, discrepancy, faults and abominable things. So Krsna advises Arjuna in the Second Chapter of Bhagavad-gita, verse fourteen, that heat and cold, happiness and distress, appear and again pass, just as the sun comes up and then goes down. This you cannot stop. Therefore Krsna advises, "You must simply learn to tolerate." We have to deal with our faults, our material conditioning, not dwell on them too much. We have to be cognizant of them and do our best to overcome them, but we cannot make a program of fault-finding politics. So everyone works together as much as possible, and we try to overlook faults. There are sometimes, little quarrels, but that is to be expected. We should not mentally hover in foolish utopia. No. Rather, we should set our minds practically and do good work day by day, tolerating these ups and downs and imperfections of the material world.
Q. And by working and chanting together, people can overcome problems?
A. Yes, actually they will be gradually resolved. It is simply a question of becoming pure. As long as there is any impurity, there will be some conflict. So it is simply a question of becoming pure. Yes, that is the essence. When Krsna consciousness is developed, then everything else will be resolved. That is a fact.
Q. I would like to ask about the discipline and whether or not it has been difficult for you to give up mundane things.
A. Yes, there is some struggle. But it is not difficult. Krsna consciousness is very simple, so natural, but the difficulty arises because of our conditioned life. There is nothing difficult about drinking something very nectarean, but if our taste buds are poisoned and diseased, the nectar may taste sour. But by intelligence we should know that it is the disease which causes the bad taste. The nectar is actually very nice. I must become cured so that my diseased taste buds become accurate mediums of sensation. And that will become self-evident when I begin to actually relish the nectar as it is. So, yes, it requires some struggle, but Krsna is there. One has to act with faith in Krsna and be determined to overcome the impulses of the senses, the conditioning of the mind. In Nectar of Devotion it says anything you want you have to pay for. And the price you have to pay for Krsna is your eagerness. If you will give Krsna all your eagerness, then you will purchase Krsna very easily, and your life will become sublime.
Q. How did you come to surrender?
A. Well, I came in contact with one boy who knew of the Krsna temple. Actually, at the time I met this boy, I was looking to find someplace to make God realization my full-time activity. I had resolved that there was nothing else to do. I had been through everything else. I was looking to find some spiritual atmosphere to seek the Absolute Truth. I had heard chanting of Hare Krsna, but I did not know anything of devotees or the philosophy. Simply that it was a mantra and that chanting was meditation. So I met this one boy, and he invited me: "Why don't you come and see this temple?" That was here in Los Angeles. So I came and spoke with the devotees, and I came again another day to attend the Sunday love feast. Then they invited me again, so I stayed a weekend. I became very much attracted by everything, mainly the devotees. I was gravitating toward the consciousness of the devotees—"Birds of a feather flock together." I did not have much of a conception of what God was—not much philosophical background—but I had concluded that finding God was my only business in life. So when all of these people were living so wonderfully there in Krsna consciousness, and so welcoming, I became immediately attracted.
Q. Before you joined, were you committed to any other religious organization?
A. No, I was doing some yoga postures and silent meditation.
Q. That was not very fulfilling?
A. No, it was not very all-involving. You can do some yoga in the morning and some yoga in the evening, but then you have to spend the rest of the day doing nonsense.
Q. What kind of people join Krsna consciousness? Are there certain experiences you have to go through first?
A. Well, Bhagavad-gita says that there are four types of pious individuals who come to Krsna consciousness: the distressed; those in want of money, who want something but are unable to acquire it; the curious, who are intelligent and impartially seeking after truth; and those who actually want to find God, who intuitively understand that God realization is the purpose of life. These four kinds of individuals will come to Krsna consciousness. Other than that, there is no qualification. Anyone and everyone may take to this process. Lord Caitanya set this example: He accepted as His two closest disciples two social outcasts. They were originally Hindus, but they took the service of a Mohammedan Kazi, or magistrate. According to Hindu culture, if one takes the service of a Mohammedan, he is absolutely ostracized from Hindu society. So they were completely ostracized from Hindu society, and yet Lord Caitanya accepted them. They became Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami. Thakura Haridasa was born in the family of a Mohammedan, and Lord Caitanya made him the namacarya, the teacher of the chanting of the holy name. So what it is all meant to say is that anyone of any race, of any creed, or of any background may become Krsna conscious, since in this age of Kali there is no qualification required. Simply if one will take to this chanting process, then his life will become perfect. Everyone is actually pure spirit soul; that is their real nature, their real essence. But they are covered by different degrees of material conditioning. Everyone is pure, everyone is brahman (spirit), but because of being covered by different modes and different combinations of modes of nature, they have lost the correct understanding of their real existence. So actually everyone is the kind of person to take to Krsna consciousness.
Q. How important is it for a person to become initiated?
A. Initiation means planting the seed. Before you plant the seed, you can till the soil very nicely and can make preparations to plant the seed, but if you do not plant the seed, there will be no crop. So we can till the soil for our spiritual development, and then the seed must be implanted. That means to come in contact with the spiritual master and accept him as your guru or teacher. That is planting the seed. Practically, without this there is no question of advancement.
Q. So there is no way a person can do it on his own unless he joins the movement?
A. Well, we should take it like that. Maybe there is an outside chance and maybe there is not, but why should we chance it? The idea is, as Rupa Gosvami says, that if you find Krsna consciousness somewhere, then do not shop—purchase it immediately. You may never get the chance again for many lifetimes.
Q. I would I ike to ask about the future of Krsna consciousness. I think that it is one of the most important questions. What will you be doing, or don't you worry about those things?
A. Yes. Vaikuntha means "freedom from anxiety." Generally in the material world everyone is full of anxiety because he does not know what the future will bring and because his experience tells him that the future means ultimately death and doom. I have to face death, I have to face old age, I have to face disease, I have to face so many enemies, so many trials This is my predicament in the material world. I am forced to live in this way. So spiritual life, spiritual realization, means freedom from that anxiety. Free from anxiety, situated in Vaikuntha, one is not anxious about the future. Whatever the future brings we will accept quite willingly as long as we can remain Krsna conscious. Krsna is transcendental, and Krsna consciousness is transcendental, so when we are on the transcendental platform, fully linked with Krsna, we never mind about the future. The future is very bright because the future means the same as the present, which means absolute transcendental bliss, Krsna consciousness. It does not swerve, it does not change, it is not up and down or inebriating. Material pleasure means inebriation. In material life one is never completely satisfied or completely unsatisfied but rather in continuous teeter-totter duality. But Krsna consciousness means an absolute plane of happiness and bliss. So there is no necessity for being too much concerned with the future.
Q. Would you like to express some kind of goal in Krsna consciousness?
A. Yes, our goal is to spread Krsna consciousness to every town and village through whatever medium is expedient. To spread Krsna consciousness—that is our goal. Therefore, we have formed a society and have established temples. We invite everyone to come and take part in the same activities we are taking part in, the life of culturing Krsna consciousness. This is the missionary spirit of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Because we have only started a short time ago, the ramifications of the society may not be yet evident. We, one thousand devotees, are occupying a few buildings only, so where is the question of society? But we are growing very fast, and the hope is to make the present world society Krsna conscious. We are not trying to become a sub-society or a different society. We are not living somewhere away from everyone else. We are living right in the midst of society. We want to make every society Krsna conscious. Then you will still have marketplaces, you will still have merchant houses, you will still have everything, but they will all become Krsna conscious. So that is our work. Somehow or other, we are attempting to infuse Krsna consciousness into every town and village. In this way, we are scheming and working day and night.
Q. What about affiliating with other organizations? Is it possible?
A. Well, if anyone sincerely wants to take to Krsna consciousness, he automatically affiliates. We are not interested in corporate merge or big political allies. If you want to take part in this chanting process, you are affiliated.
Q. You do not think that making affiliations will aid in spreading the movement?
A. Well, just like if you want to recruit doctors to help cure a disease, if they are not qualified doctors or are themselves contaminated with the disease, what good will they do? So quality is more important than quantity. One actual Krsna conscious pure devotee is better than one million churches, one million rituals, or one million affiliations because without that one perfect example, all the precepts and formularies have absolutely no value. They are worthless. William James pointed this out very explicitly—that without practical example, all precept is worthless. That is a fact. You may say anything, but if there is no example of that, it is meaningless. So one devotee can change the course of the whole world. We have seen this in history. Look at Lord Buddha, Lord Jesus Christ or other great saints and sages. They have changed courses of history. They may have led very humble and very unobtrusive lives, but simply because they were Krsna conscious they have changed the lives of millions, influencing and molding them so much. So one pure devotee, one Krsna conscious individual, can do more for society than all the big institutions, all the big buildings, all the money, all the humanitarian and philanthropic work. So if we do nothing else, if nothing more is produced by our whole work other than simply one person's becoming Krsna conscious, then we are a success. And no matter what else we do, develop or acquire, if we do not become Krsna conscious, then everything is a failure. It will all amount to zero.
Q. What change in political leaders would you make? How would you go about that? Would you expect them to join a temple or anything like that?
A. Yes, why not? Join the temple or not join the temple, the idea is to somehow or other take to Krsna consciousness. Even if you just accept it intellectually, that is very good. Just that intellectual acceptance is almost liberation. This Krsna consciousness is actually the real meaning of life, and unless we are aware of this fact, how will we do any good to ourselves or others as political leaders or whatever? We are prepared to take political seats. We are not vying after power or some tyrannical machine. No. But whatever medium will help us spread Krsna consciousness we can accept. Basically, we simply want the political leaders to be enlightened in Krsna consciousness. They will then be able to render the highest service to the people.
Q. So that would mean that you would use television to propagate Krsna consciousness?
A. Oh, yes. As you see, we have automobiles, tape recorders, television—all the modern inventions. Renunciation does not mean to give up something and refuse to utilize it. This may be a popular conception of renunciation, but it is second class. Krsna explains to Arjuna in Bhagavad-gita what real renunciation means. In the Eighteenth Chapter you will read all about real renunciation. Real renunciation means acting without attachment and surrendering all the fruits of our endeavors to Krsna. Actually, we have nothing to renounce. Just like a teller thinking that he will renounce the ownership of all the money in the bank; if the money does not belong to him in the first place, then where is the question of renouncing it. His proposal to renounce the money is simply foolishness. Similarly, we should know that nothing in this material world belongs to us. We may sit and pretend; we can play a game: "I own Boardwalk, I own Park Place." But we do not own those places; it is all a game. Similarly, we may say, "This is mine, and I am giving this up," but that is simply a game. We do not own it. So real renunciation means renouncing that conception of accepting or rejecting on our own behalf. Whatever we can accept on Krsna's behalf we will accept. Whatever we need to reject on Krsna's behalf we reject. That is our platform. Krsna is the proprietor of everything. God owns everything. We are simply His servants. Every implement we have, every item, every energy, we should use for Krsna's pleasure, and here within the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, you see the attempt of making a practical demonstration of just that. Here you see talents, propensities, money, time—everything that everyone else is using we are also using, but we are attempting to use it in Krsna's service, acknowledging that that is its rightful purpose.
Q. So do you have any idea what structure your society will have in the future?
A. If we do not take to Krsna consciousness, the structure will be hell. The structure will be animal life—more and more animalistic. Animal means always suspicious, animal means always cruel, animal means simply one-mindedness, i.e., "sense enjoyment for me." So that is coming more and more. By the influence of the age of Kali, everything is becoming more and more degraded—less intelligence, less mercy, less sensibility, less rationality, less human qualities. They are all diminishing to a point of gross animal life. Just like a rat—a rat has no altruistic, philanthropic or compassionate nature. When a rat is too hungry, it eats its own child, its own mate. And the only relationship the rat has with other rats is simply sex—ten times, twenty times daily. There is no other social structure. Sex with anyone—its mother, its child, anyone. That is rat life. This is the plight of human society. They will first of all destroy everything to eat, then they will eat each other. This may sound morbid, but it is actually foretold in Srimad-Bhagavatam. And it is developing; it is coming about. You may take note that unless human society takes to Krsna consciousness, there is no hope.
Q. So this is like an alternative?
A. No, not even an alternative. "Alternative" means you have a choice. There is no choice. You are either Krsna conscious or finished.
Q. Anyone who is not in the movement is finished?
A. Yes. "In the movement" means becoming God conscious. We are not so sectarian. "In the movement" means becoming Krsna conscious.
Q. What about someone like Mahatma Gandhi?
A. Mahatma Gandhi? Well, there are various degrees of piety and religiosity. But the very first principle that we must understand in real spiritual science is the difference between the self and body. If someone is not teaching the difference between the self and the body, he is not delivering spiritual science. He may be virtuous in the sense that he may be very pious and moral. But if you do not separate the body from the self, then you are too much confused to have right judgment and right direction. There must be sound philosophy based on actual spiritual realization.
This perfect combination of sentiment and knowledge is available from the great learned sages, devotees and acaryas who are situated in pure Krsna consciousness. These individuals are the true benefactors of society. Materially conceived political or civil rights or any other movement will do us no good. We require to become Krsna conscious, nothing else. So we are not so much interested in mundane historical personalities; rather, we shall devote our time and energy to hearing and serving the mahabhagavatas, the great devotees of the Lord. This Krsna consciousness is now being delivered in pure unalloyed form by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and, hopefully, purely transferred by his disciples. So in that way, it is here now, and anyone can take it. Lord Caitanya actually prophesied that in every town and village, He would appear, His name would be heard, and every individual would have the opportunity to receive His mercy. So now He is here. Everyone may take it very seriously, take the opportunity. Now the opportunity is at hand, so it should be grasped. The time is now. Otherwise we do not hear anything but nonsense leaders, nonsense religious mentors, nonsense politicians, rascals, cheaters, liars and thieves.
We are prepared to challenge anyone. If you cannot make the distinction between the body and soul, then you are simply a cheater. Everyone must understand that this is a transcendental science; it cannot be understood simply with the mind. It has nothing to do with anything material, so unless we reach that transcendental platform, all of our philosophy and all of our activity becomes useless because it remains material. It may be pious, it may be impious, it may be laudable, it may be abominable—it still remains material.
Q. So what about a Jesus Freak who claims he has gotten it from Jesus?
A. One may chant any name of God. The Christians are also singing the glories of Lord Jesus, so that is also sankirtana (broadcasting the glories of the Lord). We do not recall seeing them on the streets until after we were taking to sankirtana, so they have also been inspired by Lord Caitanya's movement, and now they are doing the same thing. Of course, their application is a little less developed. Nonetheless, it still is very good. Just like the mathematical axiom two plus two equals four; that is truth anywhere you take it—master's class or kindergarten class. It remains the same, but it can be applied on higher or lower levels. So also Krsna consciousness can be applied on higher or lower levels. So it is not that the master's degree class should look down on the first grade class: "Oh, they only know two plus two equals four. What nonsense." No. "Oh, very nice, yes." The idea is that if anyone is taking part in sankirtana or Krsna consciousness to any degree and in any proportion, that should always be encouraged. We should always try to perfect our Krsna consciousness and not simply be content with a lesser degree of purity, but we should never discourage whatever part is being cultured by someone else. They are taking to the street; they are also performing sacrifice. They are chanting the glories of Lord Jesus Christ and calling attention to His teaching. So that is something. We will have to see how long it will last. Its real value will be tested in due course.
Q. And as for yourselves?
A. We shall go on chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
by Hayagriva dasa Adhikari
A black-caped figure stares out from the cover of Time, the world's largest news magazine. "The Occult Revival: Satan Returns" announces the latest news, as though Satan has ever left us. In the news story that follows, Satanism and witchcraft are identified as substitute faiths with a large following amongst the bourgeoisie in America and Europe. The cults are found not only to be popular among hippies and easily identifiable eccentrics, but among college educated, split-leveled suburban-homed Americans. A definite wave of fascination with Satanism, witchcraft and other varieties of occultism is reportedly on the rise. It is as though a culture, which has succeeded for so long in suppressing its basic character, has decided to unveil. Paradoxically the veiled Satan on the magazine's cover is probably the first really unveiled figure to appear. He is the very image of ourselves staring out at us, our animal nature telling us, "Well, here we are together, spinning around on this planet and enjoying ourselves one hell of a lot." He is indeed the image of our own fiery world consciousness, which is now busily and systematically destroying the earth. He is not only the image of Kali, the great demonic spirit who rules the universe in this age, but the image of our own pathetic selves striving to be God.
Beneath all of the Satanic cults is a basic purpose: the deification of the human race. Both occultists and critics admit that it is the promise of power that attracts people to Satanism and witchcraft. Converts from traditional religions, primarily Christianity, resent the authority inherent in all orthodox religions. In Christianity, as well as in Hinduism, Mohammedanism and Judaism, submission to God is the basic principle. In this current age, however, no one wants to submit to God because no one is prepared to follow the instruction of the Godhead, which are found in all scriptures. In other words, we want our freedom; we want to be controllers, not controlled. It is this spirit of rebellion that brings all of us into material bodies. Our material bodies themselves, composed of earth, water, fire and air, are expressions of our will to control. Being subject to disease, old age and death, our bodies are mortal reminders of our rebellion against God. Satanism is an expression of our soul's desire to persist in attempting to control as God. It is no wonder that magic is intimately connected with Satanism, for it is through magic that we attempt to become God by mastering the world around us. Magic can manifest itself in a subtle form—as in spiritual healing, prophecy and witchcraft—or in a gross form, as in science. In any case, whether we attempt to master the world through science or witchcraft, we are expressing this same basic desire to be God. This is at the core of Satanism, and it gives rise to all the demonic activities of man.
We do not have to be experts in world history to perceive the Satanic nature of man's activities over the past five thousand years. Despite spiritual renaissances, the mass of men have been primarily involved in great power struggles between peoples and nations. These struggles inevitably erupt in violence, the greatest of which has been wrought in this century by scientists and politicians through the use of nuclear weapons. Indeed, the history of the human race has been described as being no more than the history of weapon development. The human story then seems to be simply the retelling of one sordid situation: The man with the biggest weapon survives on the planet a little longer. What a dismal story this is.
The word satan in Hebrew means "enemy" or "adversary," and its verb form means "to be adverse to," or, "to plot against." In Christian theology, Satan is the great enemy of man and of goodness, and he is usually, as in Milton's Paradise Lost, identified with Lucifer, the chief of the fallen angels. In the Old Testament, Satan appears as a serpent before Adam and Eve, and in the New Testament he tempts Jesus in the desert by offering him all the kingdoms of the world, if Christ will but fall down and worship him, but Christ, as the perfect man and perfect devotee of the Father, replies perfectly: "Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve." (Matt. 4.10)
Although Christ emerges victorious, the temptation certainly gives Satan a certain prominence as the ruler or viceroy of the world. Christ explicitly says, "My kingdom is not of this world," which implies that as far as he is concerned, this material world is Satan's domain. In Paradise Lost, Milton portrays Satan so powerfully that he emerges as the demonic hero, and beside him Christ seems a little pale. In other words, in this story of man, Satan steals the show.
What is known as the Satanic in the Judaic-Christian tradition has its counterpart in the Vedic tradition in the asuras and raksasas. The Sanskrit word asura means "opposed to light" and indicates the dark and demonic. In Srimad-Bhagavatam there are accounts of Krsna, or God, killing many asuras, or demons. When the great asuras in the universe discovered that Krsna was manifesting Himself on earth, they all came to try to kill Him. The first demon was a witch called Putana, who smeared her breasts with poison and got baby Krsna to suck them. Being God, Krsna knew her intent and, quickly taking her nipple, sucked out not only the poison milk but the life air of the demon as well. The witch fell down dead, and baby Krsna fearlessly played on her lap. Similarly, Krsna killed the demons Vatsasura, Bakasura, Aghasura, Dhenukasura, Kesi, and His demonic uncle, Kamsa. Krsna also subdued the great demon Kaliya, who was poisoning the holy Yamuna River. It is no wonder that Krsna killed so many demons, for He states in Bhagavad-gita that He comes to earth mainly to establish religion and annihilate the demonic: "In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium." (Bg. 4.8)
Man vascillates between two forces—the demonic and the divine. In Bhagavad-gita these forces are linked to the three gunas of material nature, which are the qualities of goodness, passion and ignorance. Krsna asserts that there is no being within the material universe who is not subject to these gunas. In other words, a living entity is either acting out of goodness, passion or ignorance. As he acts, so also does he reap, and this is the law of karma. If he acts in goodness, he receives good results, and if he acts in passion and ignorance, he receives suffering. Krsna also states that if a person dies in the mode of goodness, he attains the higher planetary systems and gets the body of a demigod. If he dies in the mode of passion, he takes birth amongst men on an earthlike planet and labors hard for fruitive results. And if he dies in the mode of ignorance, he takes birth in the animal kingdom or amongst lower species of life (Bg. 14.14-15).
A man's faith or religion is also determined by the three gunas If a person is in the mode of goodness, he worships God and those devoted to God (the demigods). In the mode of passion, he worships demons, and in the mode of darkness he worships the dead and ghosts of the dead. Thus the guna or quality ruling the heart of a man can be perceived through his activities and religion. Those practicing Satanism actually evince all symptoms of passion and ignorance, as can be seen in their gospels, which are simply inversions of the sayings of Christ: "Blessed are the strong, for they shall possess the earth. If a man smite you on one cheek, smash him on the other."
It is also reported that the principal Satanic cult now popular in America invokes Satan not as a supernatural being but as a symbol of man's desire for sense gratification, his lust for a materialistic and ungodly life. The practitioners "look down on those who actually believe in the supernatural, evil or otherwise," according to Time. What the Satanists really worship is their own body and the paraphernalia that gives pleasure to that body. Most of the members of the cults are "almost banal in their normality. Under the guise of eschewing hypocrisy, they actively pursue the materialistic values of the affluent society—without any twinge of consciousness to suggest there might be something more." (Time Magazine, June 19, 1972, page 66) Members are often promoted to different ranks on the basis of their material assets, such as bank balance, home, car, etc. Consequently this brand of Satanism is more Satanic than that which takes, the devil seriously as a personality to be reckoned with, for this brand is totally anti-spiritual. It deifies gross materialism. Turning to the luxuries of the world, it says, "Look at this! This is all there is. Worship it and surrender to it, and you will enjoy yourself like God." This demonic mentality is elaborately described by Krsna Himself in the Sixteenth Chapter of Bhagavad-gita:
"Those who are of demoniac quality do not know what is to be done and what is not to be done. They are unclean, neither do they know how to behave, and there is no truth in them. They say that this world is unreal and that there is neither a foundation nor a God in control. It is produced of sex desire and has no other cause than lust. Following such conclusions, the demoniac, lost to themselves and bereft of intelligence, engage in unbeneficial, horrible works meant to destroy the world. Taking shelter of insatiable lust, pride and false prestige, and being thus illusioned, they dedicate themselves to unclean work, attracted by the impermanent. Their belief is that to gratify the senses unto the end of life is the prime necessity of human civilization. Therefore there is no end to their anxiety. Being bound by hundreds and thousands of desires, by lust and anger, they secure money by illegal means for sense gratification. The demoniac person thinks: 'So much wealth have I today, and I will gain more according to my schemes. So much is mine now, and it will increase in the future more and more. He is my enemy, and I have killed him, and my other enemy will also be killed. I am the lord of everything, I am the enjoyer, I am perfect, powerful and happy. I am a rich man and am surrounded by aristocratic relatives. There is none as powerful and happy as I am. I shall perform sacrifices, I shall make some charity, and thus I shall rejoice.' In this way, such persons are deluded by ignorance. Thus perplexed by various anxieties and bound by a network of illusions, they become too strongly attached to sense enjoyment and fall down into a hellish condition." (Bg. 16.7-16)
We could hardly write a more accurate portrait of ourselves. Five thousand years ago Krsna thus tapped the root of today's consciousness. This is not only American consciousness, but Russian, European, Chinese and Indian as well. It is the prevailing universal consciousness in this age of destruction and chaos. It is a consciousness geared to domination, whereby everyone thinks, "I must win. I must control. I must come out of this situation on top." Thus everyone is attempting to become lord of material nature. One of the Sanskrit names of God is Isvara, which means controller. The Satanic impulse, which is man's desire to be God, is the impulse to control.
It is our attempt to control nature in this age that has given rise to the machine and the demonic industrial civilization centered about it. Indeed, Henry Adams' historical theory of the virgin and the dynamo divides Western history into two epochs: that controlled by the virgin, the symbol of religious unity, and that controlled by the dynamo, the symbol of materialistic chaos and diversity. Nor is it coincidental that a Twentieth Century poet, Hart Crane, fuses these two forces in a single symbol of the Godhead: the Brooklyn Bridge. "Science," Crane wrote, "the uncanonized Deity of the times, seems to have automatically displaced the hierarchies of both Academy and Church." Science has become man's systematized attempt to understand the world and its purpose through his own blunt material senses. In its final analysis, science explores the cause or mystery of the universe through the observation of perceivable phenomena, and according to Krsna in Bhagavad-gita, this is not possible. Krsna is the cause of creation, and He cannot be perceived at all by the gross material senses. "I am never manifest to the foolish and unintelligent," Krsna says. "For them I am covered by My eternal creative potency (yoga-maya), and so the deluded world knows Me not, who am unborn and infallible." (Bg. 7.25) In other words, it is impossible to discover Krsna, the primal cause of everything, simply by observing Krsna's energy. "All states of being—be they of goodness, passion, or ignorance—are manifested by My energy," Krsna says. "I am, in one sense, everything—but I am independent. I am not under the modes of this material nature. Deluded by the three modes [goodness, passion and ignorance], the whole world does not know Me, who am above them and inexhaustible." (Bg. 7.12-13)
Man's attempts to become God have given rise to a number of demons, all of whom are easily recognizable. In Bhagavad-gita, Krsna mentions four basic types: the mudhas, the naradhamas, the mayayapahrta-jnanas and the asuram bhavam asritas. The mudhas are like hardworking beasts of burden who try to enjoy the fruits of their labor by themselves and so do not want to part with them for the Supreme. They work hard all day like the ass, trying to satisfy four or five stomachs, a wife, and maintain a home in the suburbs. This is the gross fool who no doubt comprises ninety-nine percent of mankind. The naradhamas, literally "those who are low on the human scale," are characterized as totally ignorant of spiritual or religious life. The mayayapahrta-jnanas are intellectuals like scientists and philosophers whose erudite knowledge has been nullified by the influence of illusory material energy. Because their minds are dazzled by material nature, they lose sight of the truth. The last class (asuram bhavam asritas) are out-and-out demons (asuras) who actually oppose God. It is this fourth class to which the Satanists belong. This category also includes those who say that man is God (the humanists), that God is void (impersonalists), and that there isn't any God at all (atheists), as well as that undefinable class of word jugglers who claim that whether there is a God or not a God is beyond the point. Such people usually feel that they themselves are God and that life is a game which they have personally created. All of these are Satanists in the strictest sense, for they are all adverse to God realization.
No one, however, can accuse the recent crop of Satanists, warlocks and witches of lofty philosophy. They do not attempt to merge with the impersonal brahmajyoti, nor do they attempt to become one with the void, nor do they attempt any serious deification of themselves by undergoing severe austerities in order to overcome material nature. What is so pathetic about them is the smallness of their vision. These are the masses of men, who, as Socrates laments in Crito, are incapable of either doing great good or great evil, for they exist not on a spiritual platform at all but on an ineffectual material one. "Would that they could do me the greatest evil," Socrates said of the people, "for then they could also be able to do the greatest good." Thoreau similarly noted that the masses could not really harm him, for they could relate only to the body. In other words, their doing good to the body by honoring it or evil by killing it does not in any way affect a self-realized man who knows the distinction between the self and the body.
Spiritually, the masses of men are still ineffectual, and these so-called occultists, Satanists and witches of today are as banally materialistic as the average automaton. They do, however, serve one good purpose: They hold up to all of us the image of ourselves as we really exist in material consciousness. They hold up that mirror to ourselves which reveals us as our own worst enemy. "The self is the friend of the self, and the self is the enemy of the self," Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita. Satan is man as his own worst enemy, as an asura, as atma-hanah, killer of the soul. Of course the soul cannot be killed, as Krsna explains in the Second Chapter of Bhagavad-gita, but the soul can be degraded when one turns from the Godhead. "The killer of the soul, whoever he may be, must enter into the planets known as the worlds of the faithless, full of darkness and ignorance." (Isopanisad, 3) The fate of our Satanic nature is given also by Krsna: "Bewildered by false ego, strength, pride, lust and anger, the demonic man becomes envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, situated in his own body and in the bodies of others, and he blasphemes against the real religion. Such persons, who are envious, low and mischievous, I cast back into the ocean of material existence, into various demoniac species of life." (Bg. 16.18-19)
If man today is seen as his own worst enemy, as Satanic, what is the possibility of his changing his image? Is it within his power to do so? In other words, is he created inherently evil? Is he irredeemable? The Vedic literatures place man's fate in his own hands. Although he is controlled by the Godhead, he has the minute independence to choose to be dominated by one of two energies—the internal spiritual energy, or the external material energy. In other words, man has the ability to create his own karma. "Out of the heart comes the issues of life," it is written in Proverbs. In Bhagavad-gita Krsna says, "That upon which one's mind dwells at the time of death—that state one attains, being ever absorbed in the thought thereof." (Bg. 8.6) One's thoughts throughout life influence one's thought at death: in other words, we become like we think. He who is always thinking of Krsna in Krsna consciousness will attain a state like Krsna's. This is promised by Krsna in Bhagavad-gita: "Anyone who quits his body, at the end of life, remembering Me, attains immediately to My nature, and there is no doubt of this." (Bg. 8.5)
Much of the blame for man's Satanic image is now being placed at the altar of traditional Christianity. Men in another age would have turned to the church for relief from their spiritual anxieties and for the much needed mystical element in life. Unfortunately, today the church has become identified with a mundane power. In short, it is as much a part of the establishment as the Bank of America. The youth especially distrust orthodox religions, feeling that the churches have betrayed the messages of their great founders who have always pointed away from world consciousness to the spiritual world beyond. Because man's desire for the spiritual demands satisfaction, he turns from orthodox religion to occultism, Satanism and witchcraft. In a sense, the occult revival is a response to the failure of science and human reason to supply a purpose for living. We cannot live as men, as human beings, without a spiritual goal; we can only live as animals. This Krsna consciousness movement is therefore supplying an alternative—a scientific and proven path to spiritual life. Simply by hearing the pure sound vibrations of Bhagavad-gita, one can understand the nature of Yogesvara, the master of all mystic powers, Sri Krsna. Bhagavad-gita is the song of God sung to man in answer to all of man's questions regarding existence. It sheds light on God Himself and on man's relation to God. It tells man who he is and where he is going, and by it man can emerge as his own best friend. The self is the friend of the self when he listens to that sublime song, which coaxes: "Give up all types of religion and just surrender unto Me. I will protect you from all sins. You have nothing to fear." (Bg. 18.66)
The philosophy of Krsna consciousness does not maintain that the apparent nature of man is evil. Quite the contrary—according to Vedic literatures, man is originally God conscious and divine. In reality, the living entity, which is every soul, belongs to the superior or eternal energy of Krsna, but somehow or other, due to a desire to dominate or to be God, he has fallen into contact with material nature, or the inferior energy. Although due to this association man may appear demonic, in truth his dormant God consciousness need only be awakened for him to return to his original nature. Actually we are not at home in the realm of evil, and consequently these popular Satanic cults tend to use the devil for a type of perverse amusement. In scripture, however, Satan has traditionally used men for his own dark purposes. It may be concluded therefore that the Satan of today is not a scriptural Satan at all but a Satan created by man himself to justify man's own dark purposes. "If we fully believed in demons," one sociologist wrote, "we certainly would not want to call them up."
Since the viceroy of evil is not a Satan who is exterior to man, the burden of evil is placed on the back of man himself, for it is man who is responsible for his own demonic desire to be God. Satan returns indeed, as the attempt of man to deify himself. The efforts of man to conquer the universe instead of learn from it are unfortunately bearing fruit. Now man is doubting his very ability to survive on this planet, and that concern has given rise to today's ecology movement. Ecologists are concerned with the state of the world because they are aware of the principles of karma: The exploiters will in turn be exploited. We sow what we reap, and if we sow destruction, we will also reap it. When the Satanists masquerade as lizards, wolves, pigs and goats, they are simply indicating the type of body they have chosen to take their next time around.
Like children, we stand before the mirror of the universe and make faces. As these faces are substitutes of our real image, Satanism and witchcraft are but substitute faiths, distorted images of the soul's yearnings. Krsna, or God, by definition is all-attractive. When He appears, He appears as the radiance of thousands of suns. How, then, are the powers of darkness to prevail? In the dark, a man may imagine many things, and he may see himself as many things, but the light destroys his hallucinations. The words of Bhagavad-gita emanate a light that is eternal, and it is the wise man who bathes in it. Beside the still and reflective waters of Walden, Henry Thoreau wrote: "In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagavad-gita, since whose composition years of the gods have elapsed, and in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial; and I doubt if that philosophy is not to be referred to a previous state of existence, so remote is its sublimity from our conception."
The Upanishadic scriptures have been likened unto a cow, Krsna a cowherd boy who milks the cow, and Bhagavad-gita as the milk which is the essence of the Upanisads. The wise man is he who drinks that milk. If we but take milk from that smiling Boy, our souls will be both nourished and satisfied. Because we are used to poison, the milk may seem poisonous in the beginning, but as we drink, we will begin to taste its nectar.