Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
The Supreme Lord, the Absolute Truth, is all-spiritual, and therefore His name, fame, qualities and pastimes are all nondifferent from Him. The holy name of the Lord is the Lord Himself, and this can be understood by spiritual realization. By chanting the holy names of the Lord, which are innumerable, one can actually personally associate with the Lord, and by such constant spiritual association with the all-spiritual Lord, one can become spiritually self-realized. The chanting of the holy names Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare is especially suitable for the souls of this fallen age, when life is short and people are slow to understand the importance of spiritual realization, prone to be misguided by false leadership, unfortunate in every respect, and continuously afflicted by material problems and anxieties. One can be freed from all such troubles simply by chanting and glorifying the holy name, fame, qualities and pastimes of the Lord.
The Krsna consciousness movement has been started by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada to introduce this universal process. The holy names of the Lord are as powerful as the Lord Himself, and there are no hard and fast rules for chanting these holy names. At any time, at any stage of life and in any part of the world, anyone can freely chant the holy name of the Lord and thus make progress on the path back home, back to Godhead.
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Food, Shelter, Sex, and Snoring
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
dharmasya hy apavargyasya
"All occupational engagements (dharma) are certainly meant for ultimate liberation. They should never be performed for material gain. Furthermore, one who is engaged in the ultimate occupational service (dharma) should never use material gain to cultivate sense gratification. (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 1.2.9)
In spite of working so hard, there is frustration. No one is satisfied, I am not satisfied, nor is the person for whom I work so hard satisfied. Pa, pha, ba, bha, ma. Bha means always fearful. We are always wondering what danger is coming next. Ma means death, mrtyu. This is material life: You work very hard, so hard that foam will come from your mouth, and still you feel frustration and are always fearful. In this way you live, and then one day comes and you die.
This is called pa-varga. Dharmasya hy apavargyasya. Pavarga: a means "just the opposite." By taking to dharma, or religious principles, one can nullify the principles of material life. No one wants to work very hard, but everyone has to because in the material world a person cannot even get food without working hard. A small ant only needs one grain of food a day, yet he still has to work, going hither and thither trying to find his food. Similarly, the elephant needs a hundred kilos of food at a time, and he also has to work. Material life is like that; no one can live idly. Nahi suptasya simhasya pravisyanti mukhe mrgah. (Hitopadesa) The lion is a very powerful animal, and he is called the king of the forest, or the king of the animals. When he sleeps, no animal will come near him. Although a king, no animal says, "Please, Mr. Lion, please open your mouth and I shall enter." Mr. Lion has to work very hard, and although he is very powerful, he doesn't always get food. Similarly, when a tiger is in the jungle, every animal knows it and avoids the tiger, so they don't always get food either.
Mohammedans are especially proud to become like a sher. Sher means lion or tiger, and it is said that if one can become like a sher, he will be considered very powerful. Even in England the British lion symbolizes power, but at the end of the Second World War, the British lion was badly bandaged. Now in Trafalgar Square there are only large stone lions. In this world these symbols of power are all false. There was Napoleon, the French lion, and there was the British lion, and there was the Roman lion. In this way and that the people are simply wasting their time. Srama eva hi kevalam. (Bhag. 1.2.8) They are all rascals because they do not know the value of life. Nor do they know what is to be done. Even religion is taken for some material gain. However, in Srimad-Bhagavatam it is said that religion is not for material gain, for religion is meant for apavargyasya. One has to get liberated from these four principles of material life: hard labor, which causes one to foam at the mouth, frustration, fear and death.
Such is material life, but people are so foolish that they think that these principles represent advancement. Is this advancement? By working very hard a person may get a very nice large house and a car, and in this way one may think that his life is successful, but after fifty years, the house is only good for demolition. One matchbox goes up, and another comes down. This is constantly going on. Punah punas carvita-carvananam. "All right, you require a house, and now you have a nice one. Why are you demolishing it again?" "It's a new fashion," is the reply. This, then, is contemporary civilization. Houses are constructed with hard labor, and again they are demolished with hard labor, and once again they are constructed with more hard labor. And people have become such rascals that they do not think, "What am I gaining by this hard labor?" Real religion shows one how to get out of this cycle of hard labor.
In Srimad-Bhagavatam it is said: nayam deho deha-bhajam nrloke kastan kaman arhate vid-bhujam ye. The word kaman indicates the fact that we require some necessities of life, for in this material body we require to eat, sleep, have sex and defend ourselves. So we do this, for there is no prohibition; we eat, sleep, have sex and defend, and do them all as easily as possible. But we do not have to labor very hard for these and make it difficult. We have to eat, and that's all right; we can eat. The birds and bees are also eating without hard labor, and why have we manufactured such a nonsensical civilization that we have to work so hard simply for a piece of bread? And why must we work in order to be able to sleep peacefully? There is so much hard labor for these things that now people have become disgusted and have given them up. Thus the hippies say, "We don't want to work." But after a while, when they find it very difficult to live without work, they again come to work. Punah punas carvita-carvananam. People work, then they leave work, saying, "We shall not work," and again they take up work and work very hard, then again they give it up. This is called punah punas carvita-carvananam: chewing the chewed. We give up work, but we return to work because there is no other way to live. This is the problem. Na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum. Foolish people do not know what the aim of life is. Everyone says that he is interested in his own welfare, or self-interest, but no one knows what real self-interest is. Therefore people are mistaken and are simply frustrated by working hard. They work so hard that foam comes from their mouths. All this is going on.
Dharma indicates the end of such a civilization of rascals. That is real dharma. Therefore Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita:
"Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear." (Bg. 18.66)
"Just come to this side," Krsna says. "Simply surrender, you rascal, and just give up all these so-called religions. They are not giving you any relief, and you are simply wasting your time." Srama eva hi kevalam. By so-called religions, no one really develops an understanding of what God actually is. People are going to temples and churches and mosques, but they do not know what God really is. If we ask anyone, any religious man, "so you know what God is?" he will say, "Oh, He is sublime ... He is this, and He is that ..." All we get is a vague idea. However, one who is devoted to Krsna knows definitely that here is God—Krsna. Here is His eternal consort—Radharani. Here He is, enjoying in this way. Thus the Vedas give definite information about God and His activities.
"I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, the first progenitor, who is tending the cows and fulfilling all desires in abodes built with spiritual gems, surrounded by millions of wish-fulfilling trees, always served with great reverence and affection by hundreds and thousands of Laksmis, goddesses of fortune." (Bs. 5.29)
In this way we know that God has His own abode, which is made of touchstone, and we learn of the houses there and the wish-fulfilling trees (kalpa-vrksa). Not only is there one, but there are millions of such wish-fulfilling trees. Surabhir abhipalayantam: Krsna is engaged in tending surabhi cows. One can take as much milk as many times as he likes from a surabhi cow. Laksmi-sahasra-sata-sambhrama-sevyamanam. Laksmi is the goddess of fortune. We all want the favor of the goddess of fortune, but in the spiritual sky the Lord is served by millions of goddesses of fortune. Nor is it that God is asking their favor. We may ask a favor of the goddess of fortune, "Dear Mother, goddess of fortune, please give me some money." Even though Krsna does not care, the goddesses are rendering service to Him with great veneration (sambhrama).
In this way the Vedas give information: "Here is God." Govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami. "I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord." This is real religion. Real religion means knowing God, knowing where God is and what He is doing. Thus we must receive all information from Vedic literature.
venum kvanantam aravinda-dalayataksam
"I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who is adept at playing on His flute, who has blossoming eyes like lotus petals, whose head is decked with peacock feathers, whose body is the figure of beauty tinged with the hue of blue clouds, and whose unique loveliness charms millions of Cupids." (Bs. 5.30)
In this way we learn that God is engaged in playing His flute, and that His eyes look just like the petals of a lotus flower, and that He is so beautiful that He can defeat millions upon millions of Cupids. Thus He is called Madana-mohana. He is so attractive that even Madana (Cupid) is attracted to Him. Cupid attracts everyone, but He attracts Cupid. That is the meaning of Madana-mohana. And Radharani is Madana-mohana-mohini, for She attracts Madana-mohana. Here, then, is God—what do people know of Him?
Day And Night
Dharmasya hy apavargyasya nartho 'rthaya. Generally people go to church, mosque and temple just to beg bread. "Oh, God, give us our daily bread." Thus everyone goes, Hindus, Moslems, Christians, etc.—they all go to church or mosque or temple just to beg some material profit. Srimad-Bhagavatam says: dharmasya hy apavargyasya nartho 'rthayopakalpate. That which is not meant for any material gain is real religion. Na arthaya. Artha means material gains, and paramartha means spiritual gains. Narthaya. "If I don't get money," everyone says, "how shall I live?" Of course we should get money, but that money should not be our whole aim and objective of life. Yavad artha-prayojanam. We can receive as much money as we require to maintain the body; that is not forbidden. But why do we labor so hard all day and night? In New York, London or any other modern city we find so many buses running at all hours. It is a nice arrangement, but often there are no passengers. Nonetheless these buses are made to work hard, to come here and go there quickly. Diva carthehaya rajan kutumbabharena va. This materialistic way of life means sleeping at night and snoring (zzzzz), and getting a woman and having sex. And that is all. Nidraya hriyate naktam vyavayena ca va vayah. There is either sex or snoring. And diva carthehaya rajan: in the daytime one simply has to wonder, "Where is money? Where is money? Where is money?" Then we get money and run to the store. Kutumbabharena va. Then we purchase something, and when we purchase something, our money goes. Then night comes, and again it is time for sex. If we ask a person who is thus engaged where his time is for Krsna consciousness, he says, "No time, sir." This is civilization, a civilization of rascals. It is simply a waste of time: srama eva hi kevalam.
Although the human life is so valuable that one can get out of the pavarga of hard labor, foaming at the mouth, fear and death, no one cares about it. This is because extrication from such life is so difficult for most people. They think, "Oh, let us die. What is that? After death there is nothing." So-called great philosophers and professors adhere to such a view, and all this is going on in the name of civilization and advancement of education. The politicians and religious leaders have no knowledge, and yet they are leading the public. They are all rascals and fools. A rascal is one who has no knowledge. One who is in Krsna consciousness can challenge all such rascals, be they so-called great philosophers, professors or whatever. What knowledge do they have: Their knowledge is simply animal knowledge, for animals work very hard simply to gratify their senses. Real civilization, however, means stopping such animalistic life
Of course, everyone wants to stop working hard. We all have the tendency to went to get away. As soon as materialists get a free moment, they immediately want to leave the city and go to some nice peaceful bungalow in the country. Everyone wants this, but to get such so-called peace one has to work very hard. Why don't we therefore make life simple: We can live anywhere and live by nature's way. There are trees and meadows, and we can live there, keep some cows and get milk, produce some grains and fruits and be happy. In this way our whole economic question can be solved. Why do we have to bother so much with factories and great workshops and large ships and vans going here and there. These are all simply complications. Everything is trying to move so fast. Karma-bandha: that is the entanglement of karma. Sat-sanga chadi' kainu asate vilasa. The word sat-sanga indicates that one has given up the association of the Supreme and has taken to the association of material life, thereby becoming entangled in karma. Thus the process of destruction and construction begins again. But we no sooner get something constructed than it is damaged or destroyed, and we get the opportunity to reconstruct again, and again it will be finished. The real business of human life is earning how to end this hard struggle for existence
Our real business is to listen to Krsna, and Krsna says: sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja. Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me." In this way all our problems will be solved. Dharmasya hy apavargyasya nartho 'rthaya. Dharmasya does not mean material gain, but if there is need of material gain, there is accommodation. Narthasya dharmaikantasya. Dharma-eka: those who are actually religious do not look on money as sense gratification. The more money materialists get, the more they spend for sense gratification. One may live humbly with a small income of $500, but if that is not sufficient, he struggles harder to get $1,000, and he immediately takes another apartment which is larger. Then he is not satisfied with that apartment, and eventually he has to work harder to make $2,000, and with that he gets another apartment which is even better, but soon that is not sufficient either. A car is needed, and as soon as one car is bought, another is needed. In this way the more money we get, the more we increase our program for sense gratification. Of course money is required, but we should not increase our artificial wants. We should always keep in aim our view that the purpose in life is to get out of the clutches of material nature. The modern theory of economics increases artificial desires. The bank will say, "Take money from me and purchase a car." And the car manufacturer will show us a new car every year. In this way we become entangled, and the more we earn, the more debts we pay. All this is going on.
We increase our wants, and we become embarrassed when we have to get the money. We struggle hard to get the money and thus increase our sense gratification. Narthasya dharmaikantasya. But for those who are actually religious, more money or income (artha) does not increase sense gratification. The religious man thinks, "Oh, I have more money. Now let me spend it for Krsna." That is dharma. Here is a movement to promote Krsna consciousness, and those who have money can help push this movement forward. Unfortunately, the wealthy spend their money just to purchase a dozen motor cars. Narthasya dharmaikantasya kamo labhaya hi smrtah. Kama means sense gratification. That is how most people waste their money and their lives—increasing sense gratification.
We have already discussed that pure devotional service of the Lord is automatically followed by perfect knowledge and detachment from material existence. Yet there are those who consider that all occupational engagements, including those of religion, are meant for material gain. Such people come to the temple or church and give some contribution, but their aim is that by contributing one dollar they will get a hundred dollars in return. In other words, church is an easy way of earning money. The majority of people do not come to understand what Krsna, God, actually is. Whenever they put money in the collection box, they think, "This will increase." Of course it will increase because Krsna supplies all things, but that should not be the motive of one's worship. We should not make business with Krsna. We should try to serve Krsna and sacrifice everything. Then our life will be successful.
If we want to make business, Krsna will also give us business. Ye yatha mam. If we want money from Krsna, Krsna will give us money. But what will we do with that money? Because we do not know how to spend it, we will simply engage it for sense gratification. In this way we become implicated again. Therefore Krsna renders His devotee a special favor. When one is trying to become Krsna conscious but at the same time wants to have some material enjoyment, Krsna takes away whatever material enjoyment is there. Krsna knows that this is the best course to take with a man who is sincere but who, due to his bad habits, wants some material enjoyment. Krsna takes all material enjoyment away and makes the man completely free. When one is thus freed and helpless, he takes shelter of Krsna. That is Krsna's special favor.
Nectar For The Swanlike Men
The swan is a beautiful creature, gliding gracefully with poised and delicate motions across the clear waters of a lotus-filled pond. As if to enhance the swan's beauty, nature has given her a wonderful ability, for from a mixture of milk and water, the swan can skillfully drink only the milk, without taking any water. Similarly, the most elevated transcendentalists are called paramahamsas, or swanlike men, because of their ability to imbibe only the most sweet and essential nectar of spiritual knowledge from the midst of the water of the material world. Now, for swanlike men, there is an unlimited reservoir of spiritual pleasure in the Vedic translations, commentaries and summary studies of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Clear, fresh and nectarean, these books of spiritual knowledge contain the true essence of life for which all swanlike men are searching.
from the book The Hare Krsna Explosion,
by Hayagriva dasa Adhikari
On September 8, 1966, we celebrated Lord Krsna's birthday (Janmastami) on New York's Lower East Side by fasting all day and chanting until midnight. About twelve of us bought beads for chanting, a hundred and eight red, round beads the size of marbles. Srila Prabhupada told us that they represented the hundred and eight gopis (cowherd girls) who sported with Lord Krsna. I distinctly remember on a beautifully clear September day standing in the patio behind the 26 Second Avenue storefront temple stringing beads and chanting. "Wait till you string them," my old friend Walley had told me. Then he added: "You'll get high." And I did. I tied one end of the string to the windowbars and slid each shining bead up the string and then knotted it. Everyone was talking then about initiation.
"Exactly what is it?" I asked Walley, who seemed to know more about what was going on than I did.
"It's just a formality," he said matter-of-factly. "You accept Svamiji as your spiritual master." (His Divine Grace, Srila Prabhupada, was then only known to us as "the Svami" or "Svamiji.")
"What does that entail?" I asked.
"Nobody's very sure," he said. "But everybody's taking it. In India it's standard practice. Don't you think you want to take him as a spiritual master?"
I stopped stringing my beads and wondered. We had only been attending Srila Prabhupada's lectures on Gita for a little more than a month, and although I was still too immersed in the hip New York zeitgeist to know why, just on the basis of hearing Srila Prabhupada's lectures and chanting Hare Krsna, I felt that I wanted Krsna or Krsna consciousness. The all-inclusive, unifying philosophy of the Gita attracted me, and certainly Krsna was a very seductive personality who brought out the gopi in everybody. I wanted to participate in the bliss that Srila Prabhupada emanated every moment that I saw him, but I was confused by the idea of an "initiation."
"I don't know," I said at length. "He would seem to be a good spiritual master—whatever that is. I mean—I like him and his teachings a lot, so I guess in a way he's already my spiritual master. I just don't understand how it would change the situation."
"Neither do I," Walley said. " I guess it doesn't. It's just a formality."
Thus, completely unaware of the significance of the ceremony, we made preparations to take the vows that would, as time passed, come to mean so much to us and which indeed were to become the most important single factor in our lives. We bought long cotton cloth which we dyed saffron for robes. A couple of people shaved their heads, but most of us didn't, as it wasn't required. We felt that that was really going overboard.
That Janmastami night, Srila Prabhupada told us stories about Lord Krsna's advent and then spoke of the necessity of purification for spiritual advancement.
"It is not enough merely to chant holy words," he said. "One must be pure inside and out. Chanting in purity brings spiritual advancement. Man becomes impure because he wants to enjoy material pleasure, but the impure can become pure by following Krsna, for all works are transcendental when they are done for Krsna. Beginners in Krsna consciousness have a tendency to relax their efforts in a short time, but to advance spiritually we must resist this temptation and continually increase our efforts and devotion. We should continue to purify ourselves both in action and thought. For this reason it is beneficial to associate with others who are also working in Krsna consciousness. And therefore we are forming this Society. It is difficult for a beginner to keep his mind on Krsna if he associates with skeptics. To improve spiritually you must rise above even the mode of goodness. Pure goodness is not possible in this material world, but one who lives in the world of Krsna consciousness is not affected by any material contamination."
Considering our associates at the time, "skeptics" was a very bland euphemism. Srila Prabhupada could have more precisely used the word "demons," but he was far too kind to offend us. He then informed us that there were certain rules and conditions to be followed in the chanting of the mantras and that in the discipline there were four basic restrictions: no meat-eating, intoxication, illicit sex and gambling. Gambling and meat-eating seemed simple enough to shuck, but I feared that the other two would require some work. I finally resolved not to worry about it, concluding that chanting and hearing Srila Prabhupada talk about Bhagavad-gita were most important. If I kept chanting, I thought, my sins would decay in time.
Your karma, sinful activities, are like a revolving fan," Srila Prabhupada explained. "By chanting Hare Krsna you pull out the plug. The fan may still revolve for a while after the plug is pulled, but since it is getting no more juice, it will soon stop." hope after all. Then Srila Prabhupada dropped a bomb no one was expecting. At the morning lecture, someone asked him about the significance of initiation, and he answered, "Initiation means you accept a spiritual master and agree to worship him as God."
There was a stunned, thoughtful silence. Srila Prabhupada sat very still, his head high in the air, awaiting further questions. When there were none, he got up and walked out. After he was gone, I turned to Walley. Everyone suddenly started talking at once. Walley shook his head.
"My mind's just been blown," he said.
"Everybody's mind," I said. For over six weeks we had been listening to Srila Prabhupada stress that whenever anyone claimed to be God he was to be considered to be "dog." After much confused debate, Walley and I went upstairs to Srila Prabhupada's apartment and asked what he meant.
"Does that mean you're supposed to recognize the spiritual master as God?" I asked.
"That means he is due all the respect of God, being God's representative," he said calmly and simply.
"Then he's not God."
"No," he said. "God is God. The spiritual master is His representative. As such, he is as good as God because he can deliver God to the sincere disciple. Is that clear?"
It was clear, and we hurriedly went to tell the others. Thus from the beginning Srila Prabhupada made a special point to distinguish himself from the mayavadis, or impersonalists, who identify themselves with God by merging and denying personality. For Srila Prabhupada, individuality was eternal; God, the spiritual master and the disciple were all individual persons, and this individuality was retained even after the highest liberation. "Otherwise," Srila Prabhupada smiled, "there is no question of relationship, of reciprocation in love."
None of us had ever before chanted as many rounds of Hare Krsna as we did on Krsna's birthday, nor had any of us fasted so long (a whole day!). Understandably we all felt like the sages of Naimisaranya. Just a few minutes before midnight, Charles and Stanley, who had been helping Srila Prabhupada in the kitchen, brought down the prasadam (food offered to Krsna), and we all ate heartily. No one worried about not understanding the philosophy or committing countless offenses. All we knew was that when we went to see Srila Prabhupada we had fun. He was a sage, grandfather, spiritual master and favorite uncle all rolled into one, and although by solar calculations he was over seventy, he was younger than any of us. As he sat and ate with us, chatted and laughed, we little knew how much we or thousands of others would come to love him as the only truly loveable person in our lives, as our only link to Krsna in a dark and guideless universe.
The next afternoon, following Srila Prabhupada's directions, we prepared for our initiation by getting soil, sticks, flowers, clarified butter, sesame seeds and barley, varied dyes and bananas—all, we were told, for the ceremony. There were, auspiciously enough, twelve of us to receive initiation as Srila Prabhupada's first disciples in the West.
Some of us wore robes that night for the first time. Srila Prabhupada showed us how to wrap them around and tie them. My material was unusually long, and I had some difficulty keeping the dhoti from falling down. Srila Prabhupada pulled the knot incredibly tight, and I sucked in air. He was like the captain of a ship making sure all lifelines were secure, determined not to lose a man in the ocean of maya. He expressed approval of the saffron turtleneck sweatshirts we bought on Orchard Street to match the robes, and after we were all dressed he led us into his altar room and showed us how to put on tilaka. We took great care in trying to mix the fuller's earth in our palm with water, just as he showed us, and then putting it on our foreheads with a little mirror. It was difficult to make the perfect V as Srila Prabhupada did, and we wound up with smeared variations. Seeing my difficulty, Srila Prabhupada swiftly ran his finger down my forehead. I looked in the mirror and saw a perfectly formed tilaka. "My Guru Maharaja would never use a mirror," Srila Prabhupada said. "And his tilaka was always perfect. He would never see a disciple unless the disciple was wearing tilaka." We looked at one another and nodded reverently. It all seemed mysterious to us and incredibly involved, but somehow Srila Prabhupada made it seem perfectly natural and proper.
No one knew anything about the ritual except that there was to be a fire sacrifice. An ancient Vedic fire sacrifice on Second Avenue! This in itself was enough to captivate us. A small mound of earth was arranged in the center of the room and beside it were placed sticks for the fire, bananas, ghee, sesame seeds, barley grain and colored dyes. Srila Prabhupada sat on the floor in front of the mound and indicated that we should sit on the other side. His apartment was small—only two rooms—and the twelve of us filled all the space, sitting crosslegged, knee to knee, on the floor. Some guests, whom we had asked, were in the other room looking curiously through the opened door and partition. We chanted Hare Krsna softly so as not to disturb the neighbors—it was around eight in the evening—and then Srila Prabhupada lit incense and began to recite the Sanskrit mantras prescribed for the initiation ceremony. He then indicated that we were all to chant japa, Hare Krsna mantra, on our beads, and we began at once, making the small room buzz like a beehive while Srila Prabhupada took a spoon in his left hand and put water thrice in his right hand from a silver goblet. He then sipped the water, placed one more spoonful in his right hand and flicked it on the floor and then passed the goblet and spoon around for us to follow suit. We tried to follow carefully, but some of us placed the water in the wrong hand or sipped it at the wrong time, and he patiently corrected us. After we got the knack of it, he began chanting: om apavitrah pavitro va sarvavastham gato 'pi va/ yah smaret pundarikaksam savahyabhyantarah sucih/sri visnu sri visnu sri visnu. We tried our best to pronounce the words after him, not knowing what they meant. Later we learned the translation: "Unpurified or purified, or even having passed through all situations, one who remembers the lotus-eyed Supreme Personality of Godhead is cleansed without and within." After the Sanskrit was repeated thrice, Srila Prabhupada raised his hand to indicate silence. Then he began to speak, telling us that we should never worry amidst adversities, for we should always be mindful of the fact that Lord Krsna is always driving our chariot.
Krsna and Ariuna sat in the same chariot," he said. "But Arjuna knew that Krsna was the Supreme. We are also in the same chariot with Krsna, and we too should know that He is the Supreme. Even in the midst of the material world Krsna is not attached. He does not act out of need because He has no desires. He is the Paramatma, the Supersoul, and we are jivatma, the individual fragmental souls. In the Upanisads these are compared to two birds sitting in the same tree, which is the tree of the body. One bird, jivatma, is enjoying the fruits of the tree while the other bird, Paramatma, just sits and watches. These two birds have a transcendental loving relationship which is eternal, but the one bird has become so absorbed in enjoying the fruits of this tree that he has forgotten this relationship. Thus we should give up all material desires and return to Krsna, and we should also be mindful that whatever we do, we do with His permission. If we want to turn away from Him, He allows us; and if we want to suffer, He lets us. Now we must realize that we are suffering, and we must ask why. When we begin to question our suffering, then it is time to approach a spiritual master who is conversant with the transcendental nature and is fully engaged in spiritual matters twenty-four hours a day. This spiritual master will teach you that you are actually qualitatively one with Krsna. When jivatma knows that he is not this body, he becomes like Paramatma. Jivatma is wonderful, but not quite equal to God. The quality is the same, but the quantity is different. As the body is maintained by the individual soul, the entire universe is maintained by God or the Supersoul. I am not the Supreme; I merely illumine this body. But the Supreme illumines the entire universe."
His talk continued for about thirty minutes. Our legs ached, and we soon found ourselves trying to modify our cross-legged positions, but at no time could we take our eyes off him. We tried to catch every word, as though they were jewels coming from his lotus lips. Finally he emphasized the importance of our following the four regulative principles: refraining from illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication and gambling, the four trademarks of this age of Kali, an age of quarrel and ignorance. Then, one by one, we handed him our beads, and he began to count on them. Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The drone of the twelve voices, led by the spiritual master, filled the tiny room. There were twelve sets of beads, and the chanting alone lasted over an hour. I forget who was the first to receive his beads after they had been chanted on by Srila Prabhupada. I remember that Walley went before me. Srila Prabhupada told him that his name was to be Umapati. He returned to his seat, looked at me and smiled broadly. "It was wonderful," Umapati told me afterwards. "Receiving the beads was so wonderful." Then Srila Prabhupada gestured to me, and I went forward and handed him the large red beads. While he was chanting on them, someone tied two strands of small wooden kunti beads around my neck. These were considered "dog collars," indicating us to be Krsna's property. After chanting the hundred and eight Hare Krsna mantras, Srila Prabhupada again motioned me to come forward. He then extended the beautiful red beads toward me. "You start here," he said, "and around like this to here. Don't cross over. Then back around like this, sixteen times daily, and your name is Hayagriva." I took the beads, held them to my heart and bowed to the floor before him. "Nama om visnu-padaya krsna-presthaya bhutale srimate bhaktivedanta-svamin iti namine," I recited. "I offer my obeisances unto His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, who is very dear to Lord Krsna, having taken shelter at His lotus feet." While I was bowed, it seemed as though everything was getting lighter and brighter. Years later I learned that the guru, the spiritual master, takes on the karma or sinful reactions of his disciples with the initiation. In actuality I was much lighter; my soul was lifted of its heavy burden of lifetimes of abominable activity. "The word guru means heavy," Srila Prabhupada once told me, giving no further explanation, leaving it to me to understand why. And of course everything seemed to go white; our universe was brightened by the torchlight of knowledge which opened our eyes which had for so long been blinded by the darkness of ignorance. As the prisoners emerged from Socrates' allegorical cave, they were temporarily blinded by the brightness of the real world, which they had never seen or imagined. We too were cave-dwellers in the earth's darkness, and Srila Prabhupada came down and led us out.
After all twelve sets of beads were chanted, Srila Prabhupada began sprinkling the different colored dyes up and down and sideways on the mound of earth before him, and we all strained to watch every mysterious move he made. He picked up the twigs and wood splinters, dipped them in clarified butter, then lit them with a candle, and so proceeded to build a small fire on the mound. The sesame seeds, barley and clarified butter were then mixed in a bowl, and the bowl was passed around for the new disciples to take handfuls. Srila Prabhupada then began to recite Sanskrit prayers, and we tried to repeat the words after him. "Vande 'ham sri-guroh sri-yuta-pada-kamalam sri-gurun vaisnavams ca." "I offer my obeisances unto the lotus feet of my spiritual master and unto the feet of all Vaisnavas." The prayers continued as the major teachers in the disciplic line were named. Each prayer was ended by three svaha's, and as we chanted svaha, we threw the sesame seeds and barley onto the fire. Srila Prabhupada kept pouring butter, sesame seed and barley on the fire and piling up wood until the mound was blazing. It seemed the prayers would never end. As the fire got larger, the room got hotter. Finally the prayers stopped. Bananas were distributed amongst us, and Srila Prabhupada indicated that we were to place these on the fire. We did this, and the bananas began to smoulder, and the smoke thickened. Some of us ran coughing into the other room. The guests were retreating to the hallway. Srila Prabhupada simply poured the remaining butter and seeds onto the fire. I began to worry that someone in the apartment building would call the fire engines or the police, and I imagined the police and firemen walking in and seeing us in strange robes with tilaka and beads and smiling Srila Prabhupada, unaffected amidst all the smoke, sitting beside the fire, beaming with pleasure at his new devotees. "This kind of smoke does not disturb," Srila Prabhupada said as Janaki and Mukunda started opening windows. "Other smoke disturbs, but this kind of smoke does not." That was understandable; he was burning up all our sins.
Srila Prabhupada smiled broadly and stood up. He began clapping his hands and chanting Hare Krsna loudly. Then he placed one foot before the other and began to dance beside the fire. We also danced and chanted, and the smoke abated. Srila Prabhupada finally stopped chanting, mixed some ashes with the remnants of butter and placed a little on our foreheads. I asked him the meaning of the spiritual names.
"'Hayagriva' is an incarnation of Krsna who comes in the Satya-yuga, the Golden Age," he said. "Haya means horse, and griva means head. In this incarnation Krsna has the head of a horse and the body like a bird with wings." It seemed that Hayagriva, like the Greek Pegasus, was the incarnation of poetic inspiration; later I learned that when He breathed, the Vedic hymns issued from His nostrils. "Not that you are Hayagriva," Srila Prabhupada quickly warned. "But Hayagriva dasa. Dasa means servant, servant of Hayagriva. We are all servants of God. And brahmacari means student living in celibacy." In this way Srila Prabhupada explained all the names—Stradisa, Rayarama, Ravindrasvarupa, Satyavrata, Mukunda, Janaki, Umapati, Acyutananda and a couple of others lost to my memory.
In retrospect, recalling that evening of only six Septembers ago, I can picture few details as clearly as taking my beads and bowing down before Srila Prabhupada. All but that one act seems cloudy. According to Srimad-Bhagavatam, in Kali-yuga men have short memories. But even the shortest memory could never forget experiencing such contact with one on this earth so beloved of Krsna. As I now consider that evening, I am left with the indelible impression of a vastly superior being presiding over a kind of kindergarten. Like a sly old master, he had, in a sense, tricked us into the classroom by convincing us that we naturally wanted to love Krsna and that only he could show us how. That evening he was truly a master, the greatest of spiritual masters, opening hitherto hidden and sealed doors and ushering us into realms filled with light.
By Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura
translated from Bengali by Acyutananda Svami
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura is one of the most important spiritual masters in the Krsna consciousness line of disciplic succession. His devotional songs and poems express the perfectional emotions of a pure devotee of Lord Krsna (Gopinatha).
The editors of Back to Godhead welcome correspondence pertaining to the subject matter of Krsna consciousness. All letters will be personally replied, and correspondence of special interest will be published regularly.
My dear Srila Prabhupada,
Please accept the most humble obeisances of this very fallen soul who is seeking shelter at your lotus feet. If you can recall, I met you with Sriman Bhagavan dasa Adhikari in New York recently when you left for London. Every moment of those precious few moments that I had with you is inscribed in my mind, and that will be my life breath throughout the rest of my life. Undoubtedly it was thc most important event in my life so far because you have given me new vision, new concepts of life which are all on the absolute platform. As a matter of fact, you have given me a new birth, and I have now become a true dvija [twice-born person]. Yes, when I saw you with these eyes and talked to you with this tongue, that was the perfection of these eyes and this tongue. At that time, I was overtaken by the most auspicious moment: I was in a different world and could not tell you everything that was in my heart. I felt so small against you—like a three-month-old baby extending her hand to a smiling, all-loving grandmother. This was one of the rare moments when one feels small but happier, more secure and more blissful—like Arjuna when he sees Krsna's universal form and says:
namo namas te 'stu sahasra-krtvah
"I offer my respectful obeisances unto You a thousand times, and again and yet again! Obeisances from the front, from behind and from all sides." (Bg. 11.39-40) I felt exactly the same.
I started for Detroit immediately after I saw you, and all the time I was thinking that Krsna was so unjustly kind to me that even though I was so wretched and fallen He directed me towards your disciples first, then to you through your books, and finally to you personally. Now, since I know what it means to have a human form of life and I know the real purpose of this rare human form, I feel like I was a beggar on the street and all of a sudden the all-merciful Lord made me a billionaire overnight. When I told you about my desire to start a center in my home town, Surat, some time in the future, you were so kind that you asked me to do something more than that—to try to build a temple. I have now only one ambition in my life, and I pray to Krsna to stick to it. I wrote to my parents about my meeting with you in New York, and they are extremely happy. I have also asked them to chant and read Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam regularly. It won't take them long to get used to it.
I was born in Surat to a very devotionally inclined mother. As a child, I was exceptionally faithful, offering aratrikas every morning just after taking bath and singing nice Sanskrit verses and offering nice prayers to the Lord. Since I was born in a brahmana family, everything was auspicious around the house. There was a big parijata tree and a big tulasi plant. The whole street used to gather at our house to collect the fragrant parijata flowers which were scattered all over the ground. My mother, though very intelligent, never went to school to learn the whole philosophy in detail. Still, she knew what she was doing, and I was following her. I remember that whenever I did something nonsensical as a child she used to tell me that this human birth, and that too as a brahmana, is so rare that if I didn't behave well I would glide down to degraded conditions. At that time I was too young to understand it properly, and her knowledge was also limited. As I grew older, I was given the sacred thread in a very pompous ceremony. My lower middle class father spent two thousand rupees for that.
When all these things come to my eyes, they make me feel good today, but at the same time I feel shameful because very shortly after that I got trapped into the clutches of maya. I was given the brahmana thread, but I did not realize its potency and the potency of the Gayatri mantra because they were not given by a bona fide acarya [spiritual master]. When I went to college away from home, I forgot all that I was doing at home. Everyone in the college was a lot worse than me, and I started thinking that real advancement was to wear nice clothes, to go to movies every weekend, read nonsensical literature and talk about politics and movie stars. I wanted that, and Krsna gave it to me. I always thought I was very intelligent because I could speak nicely on these matters. I aspired for physical luxuries like a car, money, a nice house, etc. In short, I was exposed to all the evils of Western civilization, and I adopted thern wholeheartedly. All this time, even though grossly immersed in a materialistic way of thinking, I was missing something (which I 1ater realized when I got that "something"). A lot of times I did ask, "Who am I?" and "What am I doing all these things for?" But there was no Prabhupada to answer at that time, and again I would get lost in the same pattern. Then, with the same crazy ideas, I came to this country and got a master's degree in civil engineering and got a job, and I had the things I wanted to have. But I was not a bit happier, and before seven months, before I could get entangled in the American way of life, I met the devotees at the temple. My first visit to the temple and reading the preface of Bhagavad-gita As It Is were enough to bring me on the right track. I started chanting, and my life started changing. Ever since then, I have been advancing. I am still a long way from deserving your mercy or Krsna's mercy, but I am getting it anyway. For me, this is so incredible that I just can't express my gratitude to you. I wrote this long story to give you a realistic picture of what is happening in the present India. The land where the Supreme Personality of Godhead appeared and displayed His pastimes is being completely ruined. The people are still innocent, but they are being misled, as you say. I am sure that when they recognize you and ISKCON, it won't take them long to tell the difference between the milk and the water.
It is so unfortunate that in most parts of India we know very little about Lord Caitanya. All I knew was that He was a very great devotee; I knew very little about His pastimes and sankirtana movement. Now, when I realize the truth, I understand that in this " Kali-yuga" [Age of Quarrel], when all other yogic processes but bhakti-yoga are simply invalid, no one can put a step forward on the path of self-realization without understanding Lord Caitanya. Krsna is so merciful that He personally appeared to teach us how to love Him and how to go back to Him to live an eternal and blissful life. Certainly, Caitanya is Krsna's mercy incarnation. O Prabhupada, who says that Caitanya is not present now? He is living within you. I had read about great devotees and Vaisnavas before, but you are the most merciful of all Vaisnavas. No one in history has elevated such fallen and wretched people as you have. You have not just made "brahmanas" out of "sudras," because in India sudras did not eat cows but were just born in low families. But you have practically made Vaisnavas out of "dogs." I say this because I was one of them. There is a lot of talk about mystic yogis, but no one ever has been a more powerful mystic than you because you have penetrated through the hearts of people and changed their consciousness entirely. I was listening to one of your tapes the other day and heard you say that a great Vaisnava poet wrote, "O Vaisnava, let me be a dog at your doorstep." You are not just a Vaisnava, nor am I that poet. I don't know what I deserve to be at your lotus feet—a fragrant flower or probably a dust atom. Whatever, now I am a surrendered soul unto you because I am convinced that through you and only through you can I understand a little about Krsna and develop a little love for my Lord. O Prabhupada, please come to my dreams some time with Lord Caitanya and His sankirtana party. Please glance at this fallen soul through your transcendental mercy.
I do not deserve any reply from you. However, if somehow or other, I can know that you read my feelings. I will be most gratified and encouraged. You are the deliverer of Krsna. You can give me the vision to have a quick single glance of my Lord. That will be enough for this lifetime.
Eternally at your lotus feet,
Janakkumar R. Joshi
ISKCON Los Angeles
Editor's note: In reply to this letter, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada agreed to accept Janakkumar Joshi as a disciple, and he was later initiated into Krsna consciousness during a week-long festival in New Vrndavana, ISKCON's transcendental village community.
—HIS DIVINE GRACE A.C. BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI PRABHUPADA
The most potent method for self-realization in this age is to hear the transcendental sound vibration of Krsna's name and glories from the lips of a pure devotee. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness is now making this sound available in a wonderful new series of Krsna conscious cassette recordings.
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Songs of the Vaisnava Acaryas. Chanted by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada to the accompaniment of tambura, mrdanga drum and harmonium, these songs by the great spiritual masters in the disciplic chain reveal the essence of pure devotional service. Includes spoken translations and elaborate purports. 5 C-60 stereo cassettes (SP8-12) each: $3.00/ complete set: $14.50
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Kul Bhushan—Daily Nation, Nairobi, Kenya
The Sankirtana Safari is on. Chanting and dancing to the hypnotic beats of "Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare,'' a few American sadhus are daily seen on the main streets of Nairobi and other towns in Kenya, East Africa. Playing drums and cymbals, these "white sadhus" with clean shaven heads and saffron robes distribute leaflets printed in English and the local lingua franca, Swahili.
Their worldwide organization, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, has already established its first centre for Africa at Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. Within six months of their arrival, the Hare Krsna people have bought their own gaily decorated truck which is a traffic stopper wherever it goes, purchased their own temple to accommodate the devotees, organized a five-day festival in the biggest sports stadium of Nairobi and now are promoting their ideas from a pavilion at the First All-Africa Trade Fair.
And what's far more significant, ISKCON has already won its first African devotee, who was recently initiated as a brahmacari by the founder-acarya of the movement, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. About a dozen other Africans have also joined the movement.
Last August, two ISKCON devotees arrived in Kenya for the first time. After a few days in the port of Mombasa, they were invited at the Krsna temple in Nairobi to participate in the Janmastami function. They pulled in huge crowds when the word spread the Americans had become svamis and were promoting the awareness of Lord Krsna.
The local Hindus turned up in hundreds every day to listen to them and went away impressed with the grasp on Gita of Svami Brahmananda, an American teacher from New York who was formerly called Bruce Scharf.
He made it clear that he had not only come for the local Hindus but for the Africans. He turned a lot of heads when he walked down the main streets in his saffron garb.
Soon two "black sadhus" from U.S.A. joined him to spread the word of Lord Krsna. The Africans were at first merely intrigued but slowly began to take interest in what the sadhus sang and danced about. The words were easy, the tune was basic, and they began to hum "Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna."
Soon the chanting was heard for the first time in African residential areas of Nairobi where the sadhus paraded every week, singing and teaching the great "mantra" for salvation.
Then their guru, Srila Prabhupada, arrived in Nairobi. At the airport, almost everybody stopped work when they saw white sadhus lying at the feet of their guru to greet him. It was a unique "happening" for Kenya.
A Hare Krsna presentation at the University of Nairobi was the highlight of Srila Prabhupada's visit. The unimpeachable philosophy of the Vedas was matched with impeccable showmanship in sankirtana. A movie projected in the background took over where the talk ended, and it went on during a kirtana in which more than 2,000 listeners of all races in the crowded hall joined in.
For this January, the Hare Krsna people announced their most ambitious project: a five-day festival. The guru returned to Nairobi to similar scenes of adulation, and the festival interested many more Africans. A 108-page magazine, "Back to Godhead," was published in English and Swahili.
The Kenya Minister for Education, Mr. Taita Towett, in a speech read for him, said, "Many people today, as always throughout the ages, are asking the question. 'What is the ultimate end of life?' Your movement offers one answer to this question, based on the ancient Vedic scriptures.
"Your moveinent, like all the great religions of mankind, teaches that all men are brothers, because we have one Father, who is God. If this basic teaching is followed, then religion can be a strong unifying influence. As Minister for Education, I can say that this is the attitude which we wish to teach our young people. They should all regard each other as brothers. In this way we are building a strong and united Kenya."
About 80 1ocal Indians have become life members by contributing Shs. 1,111/-, and many more support the movement. They feel that this is a sorely needed ideology to be publicized amongst the Africans to tell them about their religion and way of life and to break down barriers of religion and race.
Roll on, the Sankirtana Safari.
An Address Given At The University Of Nairobi
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for kindly coming here to participate in this meeting for spreading Krsna consciousness. The Krsna consciousness movement is trying to bring human society to the point where everyone's life can become successful. The subject today is the real meaning of human life. We are trying to instruct the entire world about this meaning.
Human life is attained after many, many millions of years of evolution. We should remember that there are 8,400,000 species of life according to Padma Purana. Life began with the aquatics, for we can understand from Vedic literature that at the beginning of creation the entire planet was merged in water. This material world is composed of five gross elements—earth, water, fire, air and ether. Besides these there are three subtle elements—mind, intelligence and ego. Behind these curtains is the spirit soul, which is covered by these eight elements. This information is given in Bhagavad-gita.
Human beings are not the only living entities to have a spirit soul. We are all spirit souls—beasts, birds, reptiles, insects, trees, plants, aquatics and so on. The spirit soul is simply covered by different dresses, just as some of you are dressed in white clothes, some in green, some in red, etc. But we are not concerned with the dress; we are concerned with you as spirit soul. Thus it is said in Bhagavad-gita:
"The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater (outcaste)." (Bg. 5.18)
The sage does not make any distinction on the basis of color, intelligence or species. He sees every living entity as a small particle of spirit soul. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is stated:
"There are innumerable particles of spiritual atoms, which are measured as one ten-thousandth of the upper portion of a hair." Because we have no instrument to measure the dimensions of the spirit soul, the small particle of spirit soul is measured in this way. In other words, the soul is so small that it is smaller than an atom. That small particle is within you, within me, within the elephant, within gigantic animals, in all men, in the ant, the tree, everywhere. However, scientific knowledge cannot estimate the dimensions of the soul, nor can a doctor locate the soul within the body. Consequently material scientists conclude that there is no soul, but that is not a fact. There is a soul. The presence of the soul makes a difference between a living body and a dead body. As soon as the soul departs from the body, the body dies. It has no value. However great a scientist or a philosopher one may be, he must admit that as soon as the soul departs from the body, the body dies. It then has no value and has to be thrown away. We should try to understand this; the soul is valuable, not the body.
The fact that the soul is transmigrating is explained in Bhagavad-gita:
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)
When a suit becomes old, we give it up and accept another suit; similarly the soul is changing dresses according to desire. Because the soul is part and parcel of God, it has godly qualities. God is the supreme will, the supreme power, the supreme independent one, and we, being part and parcel of Him, have all these qualities in minute quantity. We have willing, thinking, feeling and desiring. In the Vedas it is stated that God is the supreme living force amongst all living forces (cetanas cetananam). He is also supplying the necessities of all living entities.
We living entities are innumerable; there is no limit to our number. God, however, is one. He is also living as we are, but we are minute particles of that living force. For example, a particle of gold is the same in quality as a gold mine. If we chemically analyze the ingredients in a small drop of water, we will find all of the ingredients that are to be found in the vast ocean. In a similar way, we are one with God, being His part and parcel. This godly particle, the soul or the living force, is transmigrating from aquatics to trees and plants and then from trees and plants to insect life, then to reptile life, then to the bodies of birds and beasts. Darwin's theory of evolution is but a partial explanation of the transmigration of the soul. Darwin has simply taken information from Vedic literature, but he has no conception of the soul. The difference is that the soul is transmigrating from aquatic life to plants and trees, then to insect life, then to bird life, then animal life, then human life, and within human life he moves from uncivilized life to civilized life, etc. The civilized life of a human being represents the culmination of evolution. Here is a junction: from this point we can again slide down into the cyclic process of evolution, or we can elevate ourselves to a godly life. The choice is up to us. This is indicated in Bhagavad-gita.
This human form of life actually means developed consciousness; therefore we should not waste our lives like cats, dogs and hogs. That is the injunction. Although this body is perishable like a dog's or cat's body, it is different in that one can attain the highest perfection in this life. We are part and parcel of God, but somehow or other we have fallen into this material existence; now we have to evolve in such a way that we can go back home, back to Godhead. That is the highest perfection.
There is actually another world, a spiritual world. As stated in Bhagavad-gita:
paras tasmat tu bhavo 'nyo
"Yet there is another nature, which is eternal and is transcendental to this manifested and unmanifested matter. It is supreme and is never annihilated. When all in this world is annihilated, that part remains as it is." (Bg. 8.20)
In this material nature, everything is created, it stays for some time, produces some by-products, dwindles and finally vanishes. Our bodies are created at a certain moment by sexual intercourse. The semina of the father emulsifies and takes a pea form, and the living entity, or soul, takes shelter in that form, and because it takes shelter, it develops hands, legs, eyes, etc. This development is complete in the seventh month, and in the ninth month the human being comes out of the womb. It is because the soul is present that the child develops. If the soul is not present, there is no development, and the child is born dead. We can take this dead body and preserve it in chemicals, but it will not develop. Development means change of body. All of us have had baby bodies, but those bodies are no longer existing. The body of a baby develops into the body of a child, and that body develops into the body of a boy, and that body develops into a youth's body, which eventually turns into an old man's body. Finally the body completely vanishes. The whole cosmic manifestation, the gigantic form of this material world, is also working according to this same process. It is created at a certain point, it develops, it is maintained, and at a certain stage it is dissolved. That is the nature of the material world. It is manifest at a certain interval, and again it vanishes (bhutva bhutva praliyate).
The word bhava means nature. There is another nature which never dissolves, which is eternal. As jivas, spirit souls, we are also eternal. This is verified in Bhagavad-gita:
na jayate mriyate va kadacin
"For the soul there is neither birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain." (Bg 2.20)
Just as God has no birth or death, we spirit souls can have neither birth nor death, but because we think, "I am this body," we consider that we are born and that we die. Such thinking is called maya, or illusion, and as soon as we get out of this illusion of identifying the soul with the body, we attain the stage called brahma-bhuta. When one realizes aham brahmasmi, "I am not this body; I am spirit soul, part and parcel of the Supreme Brahman," he attains what is called Brahman realization. As soon as Brahman realization is attained, one becomes happy.
Is this not a fact? If you understand clearly that you have no birth and death, that you are eternal, will you not become happy? Yes, certainly. Thus when one is Brahman realized, spiritually realized, he has no more to do with hankering or lamentation. The whole world is simply hankering and lamenting. You African people are now hankering to be like Europeans and Americans, but the Europeans have lost their empire, and now they are lamenting. So in this way one party is hankering and another is lamenting.
Similarly, this material life is simply a combination of hankering and lamenting. We are hankering for those things which we do not possess, and we are lamenting for those things which we have lost. That is our material business. If we realize, however, that we are part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead (Param Brahman) and that we are Brahman, then we will transcend this hankering and lamenting.
The so-called universal brotherhood or unity that the United Nations is trying to achieve is only possible when you come to the spiritual platform, or Brahman realization. Brahman realization is the aim of human life. One should not work like cats, dogs and hogs. The hog is always very busy day and night trying to find stool, and when he finds it, he eats it and becomes sexually agitated and has sex without discrimination. A hog will have sex with his mother or sister or anyone else, and this is a hog's life. However, the scriptures indicate that the human form of life is not meant for working hard for sense gratification like cats, dogs and hogs. It is meant for realizing, "I do not belong to this material world. I am spirit soul and am eternal, but somehow or other I have fallen into this conditional life of birth, old age, disease and death." This human form of life is meant for making a solutton to these four material miseries—birth, old age, disease and death. That is the aim of human life. Just try to understand that human life is not meant for working very hard like hogs and then having some sense gratification and then all of a sudden dying.
People who do not believe in the soul are in a most unfortunate condition. They do not know where they came from nor where they are going. Knowledge of the soul is the most important knowledge, but it is not discussed in any university. But what is the constitution of this body? What is the distinction between a dead body and a living body? Why is the body living? What is the condition of the body, and what is its value? No one is presently studying these questions, but by this Krsna consciousness movement we are trying to educate people so that they can understand that they are not these bodies but are spirit souls. The business of human life is different from the business of cats and dogs. That is our message.
As far as the soul is concerned, the evolutionary process is going on, and we are struggling for existence, struggling to come to the point of eternal life. That eternal life is possible. If you try your best in this human form of life, in your next life you can get a spiritual body. Your spiritual body is already within you, and it will develop as soon as you become free from the contamination of this material existence. That is the aim of human life. People do not know what actual self-interest is; it is to realize oneself, to realize, "I am part and parcel of God, and I have to return to the kingdom of God to join with God."
Just as we have a social life here, God has a social life in the spiritual kingdom. You can join Him there. It is not that after finishing this body you become void. No. That is a wrong conception. In Bhagavad-gita, Krsna told Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra:
na tv evaham jatu nasam
"Never was there a time when I did not exist, nor you, nor all these kings; nor in the future shall any of us cease to be." (Bg. 2.12)
The process for attaining eternal life is very easy, and yet at the same time very difficult. It is difficult because people in the beginning do not believe in the existence of transmigration of the soul. However, if we simply take knowledge from the authorities, the process becomes very simple. Our process of Krsna consciousness is to take knowledge from Krsna, the most perfect being, and not from an ordinary being conditioned by the laws of material nature. Knowledge taken from a conditioned being is sure to be defective.
What are the defects of the conditioned soul? He is sure to commit mistakes, sure to be illusioned, sure to cheat others, and sure to have imperfect senses. We cannot attain knowledge perfectly because we want to cheat others and our senses are imperfect. Although our senses are imperfect, we are very proud of our eyes and we want to see everything. Therefore someone says, "Can you show me God ?" Actually the answer is yes. Why can't you see God at every moment? Krsna says, raso 'ham apsu kaunteya: "I am the taste of water." Everyone drinks water, and the taste is there—so if we think of this taste as God, we begin the process of God realization. Krsna also says, prabhasmi sasi-suryayoh: "I am the sunshine, and I am the moonshine." We all see the sunshine and moonshine every day, and if we think of how it is the sun and moon are emanating light, we will ultimately reach God. There are so many similar instances. If you want to be God conscious and realize God yourself, it is not very difficult. You have simply to follow the prescribed methods. As stated in Bhagavad-gita: tato mam tattvato jnatva (Bg. 18.55). We must simply try to understand God in truth and try to understand His appearance, disappearance and functions. When we understand Him in truth, we immediately enter the kingdom of God. After quitting this body, the person who understands God, or Krsna, does not come back again to accept another material body. Krsna says, mam eti: "He comes to Me." That is our aim.
Therefore we should not waste our time living like cats and dogs. We should live comfortably, but at the same time we should be Krsna conscious, or God conscious. That will help us become happy. Without understanding God and without becoming God conscious, there is no possibility of peace and happiness. The way of peace and happiness is outlined in Bhagavad-gita.
If you really want to understand God, He is very easy to understand. God is the proprietor of everything. Isavasyam idam sarvam. Unfortunately we are thinking, "I am the proprietor." In your country, for instance, the British have sometimes claimed to be proprietors, and now you are claiming to be the proprietors—so who knows what will happen in the future? Actually no one knows who the real proprietor is. The land is there, and it is the property of God, but we are simply thinking, "I am this proprietor. I own this, and I own that." Actually America existed before the Europeans came, but now the Americans are thinking, "We are the proprietors." Similarly, before them the red Indians were thinking, "We are the proprietors." The fact is that no man is an actual proprietor; the proprietor is God.
isavasyam idam sarvam
"Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong." (Iso. 1)
This realization is wanting. Krsna claims proprietorship over all forms—including American forms, African forms, cat forms, dog forms, tree forms, etc.—for in actuality He is the proprietor and the Supreme Father. If we simply realize this, we attain God realization. Actually if we realize God as prescribed in the authorized books and Vedic literatures, we will find that there will no longer be quarrels between this party and that party Everything will be peaceful.
Everyone has the right to use God's property, just as a son has the right to live at the cost of his father. It is even stated in the scriptures that even a small animal in the home must be given some food. That is spiritual communism. No one should remain hungry, not even a serpent. We are always afraid of serpents, but if we find a serpent to be living in our house, it is our duty to see that the serpent is also fed. This is the conception of God consciousness, or Krsna consciousness: samah sarvesu bhutesu (Bg. 18.54). One who is transcendentally realized is equally disposed to every living entity. Thus Bhagavad-gita points out that when one sees everyone equally, as part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, one actually begins his devotional life. This Krsna consciousness movement is trying in an authoritative way to make everyone understand what he is and what the aim of life is. This process of purification of the heart is very easily accomplished. One simply has to chant this mahamantra—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. It can actually be seen that in this movement there are boys and girls from different countries and different religions, but no one is concerned with any particular section, country or religious body. We are simply concerned about knowing our selves and our relationship with God.
God is the supreme proprietor, and we are all His sons or servitors. Therefore let us engage ourselves in the service of the Lord, as recommended in Bhagavad-gita. As soon as we understand that God is the proprietor of everything, then all the troubles of the world will immediately be solved. This may take some time. It is not expected that everyone will understand this high philosophy, but if the intelligent people in every country try to understand it, that will be sufficient. In Bhagavad-gita it is stated:
yad yad acarati sresthas
"Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues." (Bg. 3.21)
We therefore invite the most intelligent men in the world to understand this Krsna conscious philosophy and try to distribute it all over the world. We have now come to these African countries, and I invite all intelligent Africans to come and understand this philosophy and distribute it. You are trying to develop yourselves, so please develop spiritually, for spiritual development is sound development. Don't imitate the Americans and Europeans who are living like cats and dogs. Such civilizations built on the consciousness of sense gratification cannot stand. The atomic bomb is already there, and as soon as the next war breaks out, all their skyscrapers and everything else will be finished. Try to understand this from the real viewpoint of human life, the spiritual viewpoint. This is what this Krsna consciousness movement is about. We therefore request you to try to understand this philosophy. Thank you very much.
In January ISKCON staged the World Hare Krsna Movement Festival at Nairobi City Stadium. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder-acarya of ISKCON, presided over five days of kirtanas, lectures, cinema shows, prasadam feasting and initiation ceremonies. The festival was highlighted one evening by a speech read by Mr. Y. Komora, Kenya's Director of Education, for Hon. Taita Arap Towett, the Minister of Education. This is the text of that speech.
Honorable President, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to be with you today as you celebrate the World Hare Krsna Movement Festival here at the City Stadium, and I wish to thank the President of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Kenya Branch, Mr. Brahmananda Svami, for inviting me to be with you here today.
Kenya, as you know, is a country which welcomes visitors. Our Constitution guarantees to every religion complete freedom of worship and preaching insofar as this is compatible with public order.
The people of Kenya enjoy complete freedom to practice the faith of their choice and are willing to listen intelligently to anyone who has something to say on this subject. In the traditional African way of life, religion played an essential part. In modern Kenya too religion still plays a big part in the lives of our people.
I am informed that the International Society for Krishna Consciousness was formed in 1966. The founder was His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami who is still your respected leader and teacher. I understand that although the movement for Krsna consciousness is relatively young, it is based on a philosophy which goes back very far—5,000 years, in fact. I am referring to the ancient text known as the Bhagavad-gita. This famous text, it seems, is the "Bible" of your movement. Your learned founder has made this great book available to readers in an English translation with an erudite commentary.
Your revered founder, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, has written, "Bhagavad-gita is the philosophy of Krsna consciousness. It teaches what is your relationship with God, what is your eternal duty to God, and what is the ultimate end of life." Many people today, as always throughout the ages, are asking the question, "What is the ultimate end of life?" Your movement offers one answer to this question, based on the ancient Vedic scriptures. In the modern world the same answer does not satisfy everybody. People are searching, and they go on searching until they find an answer which satisfies them.
There are many religions and philosophies to choose from. Here in Kenya, our people are free to choose the religion or the philosophy which they find most satisfying.
Whatever religion our "wananchi" [citizens] adopt, our Government insists that they show tolerance and respect for others. No matter how strongly a person believes and no matter how convinced he may be that he has found the right answer, he must remember that others believe just as strongly and are just as convinced that they also have the right answer, which is not the same as his. Everyone must learn not to despise someone who believes differently from himself. Indeed he must always respect the belief of other people.
Your movement, like all the great religions of mankind, teaches that all men are brothers because we have one Father, who is God. If this basic teaching is followed, then religion can be a strong unifying influence. As Minister for Education, I can say that this is the attitude which we wish to teach our young people. They should all regard each other as brothers. In this way we are building a strong and united Kenya. On the other hand, we are opposed to anyone who tries to sow discord and division among our people. The motto of our country, given to us by our beloved President, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, is "Harambee," which means "Let us all work together for the good of all." Hence, we welcome anyone who is willing to work with us in the spirit of Harambee.
I shall conclude by wishing you all a happy Festival and realization of all your ideals.
The success of the Krsna consciousness movement in gaining acceptance by the people of the newly emerging African nations is significant from many viewpoints. First, it offers positive evidence of the true universality of Lord Sri Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Lord Krsna, states in Bhagavad-gita (14.4) that He is the seed-giving father of all living entities. It is not that Krsna is only the Hindu God. Krsna cannot be limited by geographical or sectarian boundaries. Krsna consciousness is dormant within the hearts of all living entities, and when one hears the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra this consciousness is revived Therefore whether one is African, Indian or European, Christian, Hindu or Jewish, white, black or yellow—regardless of any and all temporary bodily designations—anyone can take advantage of the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra and make positive progress toward spiritual perfection.
The activities of ISKCON Nairobi have also demonstrated the effective part that Indian people can play in facilitating the worldwide spread of scientific knowledge of God. Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu declared that anyone who is so fortunate as to take birth in India, the land of religion in which both Lord Krsna and Lord Ramacandra previously appeared, is dutybound to spread knowledge of Krsna for the benefit of others. Unfortunately, Indian people have neglected this important responsibility, and therefore the entire world is suffering from violence and tension due to lack of proper spiritual understanding. In Nairobi, however, cooperation of the Indian community with members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness has made it possible for the science of Krsna consciousness to win widespread acceptance in Nairobi and other parts of Africa within only a short period of time.
It is also important to note that the Krsna consciousness movement can help Africa develop in an atmosphere of peaceful cooperation and harmony, beyond racial or territorial conflicts caused by lack of true spiritual understanding. Only if Krsna is recognized as the father of all living entities can there exist a society of peace and brotherhood. As stated in Bhagavad-gita, panditah sama-darsinah: A Krsna conscious person sees all living entities as equals by virtue of his spiritual education. He can understand that the body is but a temporary external covering for the spirit soul. Therefore a spiritually enlightened person is transcendental to enmity and conflict based on temporary racial, national, tribal or other bodily designations. One who cannot see beyond the body must necessarily think in bodily terms and be influenced by bodily prejudices. However, one who is trained to recognize Krsna as the father of all living entities automatically acknowledges the true spiritual brotherhood of everyone. Without such Krsna consciousness, all talk of brotherhood is simply conditional and theoretical, or, in other words, utopian. But simply by acknowledging Krsna as the supreme Father, brotherhood is automatically achieved. It is this simple and natural method of universal brotherhood which is being offered to the African people by the Krsna consciousness movement. This is expressed very aptly by Harikrpa dasa brahmacari in the African edition of Back to Godhead:
"I am Negro by birth. My forefathers came from this Africa continent. They were taken away as slaves, abused, degraded and forced to work like animals. As their descendant, I am returning to this African continent with a message that can bring unity and prosperity to all people. We have come to offer a true, bona fide way to experience perfection in life both spiritually and materially, and there is no charge to learn this. We simply want to offer a way to become free from all fear, anxiety and strife which exists between the people of the world. We want to show a way to become free from hate, anger and greed. A Krsna conscious society surpasses all societies because it is a God-centered society."
Krsna consciousness is offering the newly developing African nations an alternative to the bleak industrial civilization which has arisen in the technologically more advanced American and European countries. As stated by Brahmananda Swami, President of ISKCON Nairobi, who is now traveling extensively to preach Krsna consciousness throughout Kenya, Tanzania, and other African countries, "The Africans have not yet been fatally poisoned by the materialism of modern civilization. Their culture is based on agricultural village life and retains the values of simple living. But the mad desire for material advancement is rapidly infecting African cities with factories, workshops, office buildings, traffic jams, nightclubs and brothels. The African countries are still in the developing stage, but in what direction will they develop? If they imitate the materialism of America and Europe, their young people will also turn out as confused and frustrated hippies." Progress based on technological advancement alone is superficial. Such technological progress must be accompanied by a deeper knowledge of the principles of spiritual culture. By spreading the Hare Krsna mantra and the knowledge of the Vedic literature in Africa, the Krsna consciousness movement is offering Africa an opportunity to create a society based on simultaneous economic, technological and spiritual advancement. Only on the basis of such a balanced program of material and spiritual progress can the African people—and the people of all the world—develop a successful society for life in peace and prosperity.