On our part, we must be very serious and read with great attention. The knowledge of Krsna found herein is exactly what we are searching for because Krsna is the reservoir of pleasure. Krsna is all-attractive and is the source of all enjoyment.
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
In trying to understand Krsna, it will help to chant the Hare Krsna mantra found on this page. This chant—Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare—cleans the dust from one's mind. It is a transcendental sound vibration which does not need to be analyzed. Even if one does not know the chemical elements of honey, one can still taste its sweetness very easily.
Please chant Hare Krsna and study Back to Godhead magazine very carefully. If one does these simple things he can gradually advance more and more, day by day, until he comes to the point of complete Krsna consciousness, which is the end of knowledge and the highest stage of blissful liberation.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
When Krsna was on this earth, all the residents of Vrndavana loved Him. Indeed, they knew nothing but Krsna. They did not know whether Krsna is God or not God, nor were they disturbed by such thoughts as, "I shall love Krsna if He is God." Their attitude was one of pure love, and they thought, "He may or may not be God—it doesn't matter. We love Krsna, that's all." This then is the platform of real unalloyed love. When one thinks, "If Krsna is God, I shall love Him," it should be known that this is not the platform of pure love but of conditional love. While on earth, Krsna exhibited extraordinary powers, and the vrajavasis, the residents of Vrndavana, often thought, "Oh, Krsna is such a wonderful child. Maybe He is some demigod." They thought in this way because people were generally under the impression that the demigods were all-powerful. Within the material world the demigods are powerful, but people are not aware that Krsna is above all of them. The highest of the demigods, Brahma, gave his opinion of this matter in the verse isvarah paramah krsnah sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah: "Krsna is the Supreme Controller, and His body is full of knowledge, bliss and eternality." Little did the residents of Vrndavana know of Krsna's power as the ultimate controller and master of all the demigods. What is noteworthy is that their love for Him was not subject to such considerations.
As the residents of Vrndavana loved Krsna unconditionally, similarly Krsna loved them unconditionally. Vraja-jana-vallabha, girivaradhari. When the inhabitants of Vrndavana stopped performing sacrifices to Lord Indra, the chief demigod of the heavens, they placed themselves in a very dangerous position. Indra became very angry and sent powerful clouds which rained over Vrndavana incessantly for seven days. The whole area began to flood, and the inhabitants became very disturbed. Although He was only seven years old, Krsna saved the inhabitants of Vrndavana by lifting Govardhana Hill and holding it up as an umbrella to shield the village. Lord Krsna thus taught the demigod Indra that his disturbances could be stopped simply by His little finger. Seeing this, Lord Indra bowed down before Krsna.
Thus Krsna also became known as Gopi-jana-vallabha which indicates that His only business is to protect the gopijana. This Krsna consciousness movement aims at teaching people how to become gopijanas, or pure lovers of Krsna. When we reach that stage of pure love of God, the Lord will save us from any danger, even if it means His lifting a hill or a mountain. Krsna did not have to practice some yoga system in order to lift Govardhana Hill. As God, He is all-powerful, even as a child. He played like a child and dealt with others like a child, but when there was need, He manifested Himself as God Almighty. That is the nature of Krsna, or God: He does not have to practice meditation or follow some system of yoga in order to become God. He is not a manufactured type of God but is God eternally.
Although He is God, He enjoys loving relationships with His devotees, and in order to satisfy His devotees, He often takes roles that appear to be Subsidiary. Krsna often likes being the child of a devotee, and thus He became the beloved child of Yasoda, Yasodanandana. Because He is God and everyone worships Him, no one chastises Him. However, Krsna enjoys being chastised by His devotee father and mother, and because Krsna takes pleasure in being chastised, the devotees also take up the role, saying, "All right, I shall become Your father and chastise You." Similarly, when Krsna wants to fight, one of His devotees becomes the demon Hiranyakasipu and fights with Him. In this way, all Krsna's activities are carried out in connection with His devotees. If we aspire to become such associates of Krsna, we must develop Krsna consciousness, awareness of Krsna. Yasoda-nandana vraja jana-ranjana. Krsna's only business is satisfying the vrajajanas, and their only business is satisfying Krsna. This is the reciprocation of love. Yamuna-tira-vanacari: Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, wanders on the banks of the Yamuna to please the gopis, the cowherd boys, the birds, the bees and the cows and calves. These are not ordinary birds, bees, cows, calves or men; they have all reached the summit of self-realization and thus, after many, many lives, have attained a position whereby they can play with Krsna. This Krsna consciousness movement can enable everyone to go to Krsnaloka and become Krsna's associate as a friend, servant, father or mother. Krsna is agreeable to take any of these positions in relation to His devotee. How He does so is all described in our book, Teachings of Lord Caitanya. To realize our relationship with Krsna, we have but to follow in the footsteps of Lord Caitanya and His chief associates, the six gosvamis—Sri Rupa, Sanatana, Sri Jiva, Gopala, Raghunatha Dasa and Raghunatha Bhatta. These gosvamis were always engaged in chanting Hare Krsna and dancing in ecstasy. They taught that when one is merged in Krsna-kirtana, or the chanting of the holy names of Krsna, he merges into the ocean of love of Krsna. As soon as the sound of Krsna's name is vibrated, one can immediately merge into the ocean of love. That is the sign of pure devotion. Thus at kirtanas the six gosvamis would merge immediately into the ocean of love of Godhead.
The six gosvamis were not only dear to the other devotees of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu but to the nondevotees as well. A pure devotee's position is that he has no enemy because he is not envious. A pure devotee is always open to everyone, and he does not discriminate that this person can be allowed to chant Hare Krsna and that person should not be allowed. On the material platform, which is a platform of dualism, there are differences between high and low, man and woman, and this or that, but on the spiritual platform there are no such distinctions. The pure devotee, seeing everything with an equal mind, is therefore nonenvious. Because he is nonenvious, he is worshipable. Indeed, it may even be said that a person is worshipable simply if he is nonenvious, for it is only possible to be nonenvious on the spiritual platform. This is also the verdict of Bhagavad-gita:
ihaiva tair jitah sargo
"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). Those whose minds are established in sameness and equanimity have already conquered the conditions of birth and death. They are flawless like Brahman, and thus they are already situated in Brahman." (Bg. 5.18-19)
Such a position can be obtained by one who has acquired the mercy of Lord Caitanya. Upon obtaining His mercy, a person can deliver suffering humanity from material contamination. Because the six gosvamis were such devotees, we offer our respectful obeisances unto them with the mantra: vande rupa-sanatanau raghu-yugau sri-jiva-gopalakau. The six gosvamis were expert in scrutinizingly studying all the scriptures with the aim to establish real religion in the world. They left many books to guide us, the most famous of which is Sri Rupa Gosvami's Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (The Nectar of Devotion), which gives the neophyte devotee initial direction. The gosvamis always worked very hard, day and night, and their business was simply writing books, chanting and dancing. Indeed, they were practically released from the bodily necessities of eating, sleeping, mating and defending themselves out of fear. There was no question of mating at all, nor was there any question of fearing or defending, for they were totally absorbed in Krsna. At most they used to sleep one and a half hours daily, and they ate practically nothing. Whenever they felt hungry, they would simply go to a householder's home and beg one or two pieces of bread.
The mission of such saintly persons is but to make suffering humanity happy by elevating everyone to spiritual consciousness. In the material world, everyone is trying to exploit one another-one nation is trying to exploit another nation, one society is trying to exploit another, one businessman is trying to exploit another, etc. This is called the struggle for existence, and out of it the people who are struggling have invented a law called "might is right," but we can actually see that even the most powerful must struggle, just as in the current world situation. There is a great struggle going on between Russia, America and China. Because of such struggle, everyone is suffering. Indeed, the very struggle for existence means suffering. The pure devotees of Krsna, however, are not interested in exploiting others but in helping people become happy, and therefore they are worshiped on all planets. Canakya Pandit even said that a rich man and a learned man cannot be compared because a rich man may be honored in his own country or on his own planet, but a learned man, a devotee of God, is honored wherever he goes.
Nor for a devotee is there a distinction between heaven and hell, because Krsna is with him in both places. Where there is Krsna, there is no question of hell; every place is Vaikuntha. Haridasa Thakura, for instance, didn't enter Jagannatha Temple at Puri because he was born in a Mohammedan family, and the Hindus opposed the Mohammedans entering the temple. Haridasa Thakura did not let this disturb him, however. He thought, "Oh, why should I go and disturb them? I shall chant here." Consequently Lord Caitanya, who is Lord Jagannatha Himself, came daily to see Haridasa. This is the power of a pure devotee: He doesn't have to go to Jagannatha; Jagannatha comes to him. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu used to go see Haridasa Thakura daily when the Lord was going to bathe in the sea. The Lord would enter Haridasa's cottage and ask, "Haridasa, what are you doing?" and Haridasa would reply, "Please come in, my Lord." This then is the actual position of a devotee. Therefore Krsna says that worship of His devotee is even more valuable than worship of Himself. The devotee is actually able to deliver Krsna, for he knows the science of Krsna consciousness, the science of hearing Krsna's words, eating Krsna prasadam and enjoying Krsna. The impersonalists and voidists may preach dry philosophical treatises on aham brahmasmi—"I am spirit"—but ultimately who will be attracted? What is the difference between someone who thinks, "I am a stone," and someone who thinks, "I am void?" Why should we become stone, wood or void? Our actual position should be in reciprocating loving affairs with Krsna.
The spark for love of Krsna is struck by the spiritual master, the pure devotee. As for myself, my spiritual master, His Divine Grace Om Visnupada Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada, ordered me to take up the responsibility of spreading Krsna consciousness in the Western world. His Divine Grace had a great desire to preach Lord Caitanya's message in the West, and my success is both his grace and pleasure. When I first met my spiritual master, I was a very young man in India, a nationalist, engaged in a very responsible office. But although I did not want to go; one of my friends, who is still living in Calcutta, forcibly took me to His Divine Grace. I was reluctant to see him because in our home our father used to receive many sannyasis, and I was not very satisfied with their dealings. I thought that Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja might be a similar man, and if he were, what business would I have in seeing him? But my friend took me forcibly. "Why not see him?" he asked. I finally relented and went with him, and I profited.
On my first visit, His Divine Grace said that it was necessary for educated boys like me to go to foreign countries and preach the gospel of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. I replied that India was a foreign dominated nation and that no one would hear our message. Actually at the time foreigners considered Indians to be very insignificant because in the face of so many independent nations India was still dependent, being dominated by Britain. At the time there was one Bengali poet who actually lamented that even uncivilized nations like China and Japan were independent, whereas India was dependent on the British. His Divine Grace convinced me that dependence and independence are simply temporary conditions, and he pointed out that because we are concerned with the eternal benefit of humanity, we should take up this challenge of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. This meeting with His Divine Grace, my Guru Maharaja, took place in 1922, half a century ago.
I was officially initiated in 1933, just three years before the passing of Guru Maharaja from this mortal world. At the last moment, just a fortnight before his passing away, he wrote me a letter repeating his instructions. He specifically said that I should try to preach this gospel amongst English speaking people. After receiving this letter, I sometimes dreamed that Guru Maharaja was calling me and that I was leaving home and following him. I was dreaming in this way and thinking, "I have to give up my home. My Guru Maharaja wants me to give up my home and take sannyasa. " At the same time I thought, "This is horrible. How can I leave my home? My wife? My children?" This is called maya. Actually I did not want to give up my home life, but Guru Maharaja made me give it up. Following his orders, I left my home, including a few children, but now Guru Maharaja has given me many nice children all over the world. Thus by serving Krsna no one becomes a loser, and this is an example from my own practical experience.
When I left India alone in 1965, I feared that I would have a great deal of trouble. The Indian government would not allow me to take any money out of the country, so 1 came with only a few books and fourteen rupees. I arrived in New York City in such a condition, but it was all by the grace of Guru Maharaja and Krsna. Everything happens by the combined mercy of Krsna and the spiritual master. In Caitanya-caritamrta it is stated that the mercy of Krsna and guru are combined. This is the secret of the success of this Krsna consciousness movement. Krsna is always within us, and consequently He knows everything about our purposes, and He gives us the opportunity to work as we decide. If we decide to enjoy this material world, Krsna gives us the intelligence to become a very shrewd businessman, or a popular politician, or a cunning man so that we can earn money and enjoy ourselves. According to the standards of material life, many people are becoming great. They begin as very poor men and soon, by good fortune, become millionaires. We should not think, however, that they are attaining such success by their own puny endeavors. Without intelligence, no one can improve, and that intelligence is given by Krsna. In Bhagavad-gita Krsna states that He is seated in everyone's heart as the Supersoul and that by His will a man can remember, and by His will a man can forget. Krsna supplies forgetfulness and remembrance according to the living entity's desire. If we want to forget Krsna and enjoy the material world, He will give us the necessary intelligence so that we can forget Him for good.
Many people are thinking, "I can enjoy this material world very nicely. Everyone is having such a good time.
There is no reason I can't enjoy myself as much as them." This idea is illusion because there is no real enjoyment in the material world. We may rise to a very high position like President Kennedy. We may be very good looking, very famous, very intelligent and well educated, very wealthy and very powerful, and we may have a very beautiful wife and children and hold the highest position in the country but at any moment we are subject to be shot down. This is the nature of the material world: We have to face danger at every step. There is no question of having pleasure without impediments. Even when the pleasures are earned, they are earned after a great deal of struggle and sacrifice, and whatever pleasure may be acquired is temporary, for in the material world there is no pleasure that can give us constant and unending enjoyment. Only Krsna can give us that.
Therefore Krsna instructs in Bhagavad-gita that it is the welfare of every living entity to give up this nonsensical material activity and just surrender unto Him. Unfortunately, in this age people are so attracted by the glitter of material nature, to illusion, or maya, that they are not very interested. Krsna even declares that if one surrenders unto Him, He will give all protection from all sinful reactions, but still people are so attached that they cannot do it. People always fear that by surrendering to Krsna they will lose something, just as I feared losing my family by going to the Western world and preaching. But Krsna is so kind that if He takes anything away, He will reward us a thousand-fold.
The spiritual master is also kind in that he begs from door to door, country to country, town to town: "My dear ladies and gentlemen, my dear boys and girls, please take to Krsna consciousness." In this way he renders very confidential service to Krsna. Krsna is the Supreme Lord who gives the orders, and the spiritual master executes those orders; therefore the spiritual master is very dear to Krsna. Whether Krsna sends him to heaven or to hell makes no difference to him. For the spiritual master, a pure devotee, heaven and hell are both the same if there is no Krsna consciousness. In hell people are suffering in so many ways, and in heaven they are enjoying their senses in so many ways, but a devotee of the Lord can live anyplace where there is Krsna consciousness, and since he brings this consciousness with him, he is always self-satisfied. If he is sent to hell, he will be satisfied simply chanting Hare Krsna. In fact, he does not believe in hell but in Krsna. Similarly, if he were put in heaven, where there are so many opportunities for sense gratification, he would also remain aloof, for his senses are satisfied by Krsna Himself. Thus for the service of the Lord a devotee is prepared to go anywhere, and for this reason he is very dear to Krsna.
Renounced impersonalist philosophers say that this world is false and that the impersonal Brahman is truth. But if they are asked to go out into society where material sense gratification predominates, they will refuse for fear of being affected by those conditions. For a Krsna conscious person, however, there is no such difficulty. Because he is controlled and has taken shelter of Krsna, he is not afraid of going anywhere.
Consequently when devotees meet in a place where there is no Krsna consciousness, there is no harm, for they take the opportunity to chant Hare Krsna and infuse the place with Krsna consciousness. This opportunity should always be taken. It is not that one should close himself up in a room and chant alone. The great sage Narada is a spaceman who travels all over the universe. Although he can dwell in the most elevated planets, he sometimes goes to hell and preaches there. That is the beauty of a servant of God—he is always acting out of love for Krsna and His parts and parcels.
The underlying principle of devotional service is unalloyed love for Krsna. Regardless of the position of a particular devotee—as friend, servant, parent or lover of Krsna—his service is unconditional, for Krsna consciousness is not dependent on any material condition. It is transcendental and has nothing to do with the modes of material nature. A devotee is not afraid to go anywhere, and because of this he sees all material conditions as equal. In the world we may say that this is a good place to be and that is a bad, but, as pointed out before, the devotee is not subject to these mental concoctions. For him the basic principle of material existence is bad, for material existence means forgetfulness of Krsna.
In the neutral stage of devotion one may give more importance to the impersonal bodily effulgence of the Lord and to the Supersoul within the heart, but Krsna consciousness actually develops when one thinks, "Krsna is my very intimate master of intimate relationships." In the beginning, of course, impersonal realization and realization of the Supersoul are part of Krsna consciousness. The partial realization of God in His impersonal aspect or in His aspect as Supersoul enables one to develop veneration of the Lord, but when one has an intimate relationship with Krsna as a friend, master, son or lover, then the veneration disappears.
This platform of personal relationship is certainly higher than the impersonal platform or the platform of Supersoul or Paramatma realization. In the neutral conception, one simply realizes that he and the Absolute Truth are one in quality, or he realizes that he is part and parcel of the Supreme. That is certainly knowledge, for when one develops a personal relationship with Krsna as servant and master, he begins to appreciate the full opulence of the Supreme Lord. One who realizes that God is full in six opulences actually begins rendering service. As soon as one becomes aware of the greatness of Krsna and understands Krsna's superiority, his service begins. The awareness of God's greatness increases when transcendental service is rendered. A person who serves the Lord in order to satisfy the senses of the Lord becomes satisfied because Krsna is the Supersoul, and the individual living entity is His part and parcel. If He is satisfied, then the living entity is satisfied. If the stomach is satisfied, then all the parts of the body are satisfied, for they receive nourishment through the stomach. When one of my Godbrothers began to fan Guru Maharaja on a very hot day, Guru Maharaja asked, "Why are you fanning me all of a sudden?" The boy replied, "Because if you are satisfied, we are all satisfied." This is the formula—we should not try to satisfy our senses separately but should try to satisfy Krsna's senses. Then naturally we will become satisfied.
A Krsna conscious person is always trying to give satisfaction to Krsna, and this is the beginning of Krsna consciousness. Because in the impersonal conception there is no form of God, there is no opportunity to satisfy His senses. However, one who sees Krsna as master can render service. In Bhagavad-gita Krsna is referred to as Hrsikesa, master of the senses. When it is understood that the Absolute Truth is the master of the senses, that our senses are products of His senses and that they should therefore be utilized for the satisfaction of His senses, Krsna consciousness, which is dormant within everyone, begins to awaken. Once Caitanya Mahaprabhu asked, "What is the difference between the neutral position in relation to Krsna and the relationship of master and servant?" In both cases one can understand that Krsna is great, but in the neutral position there is no inclination for service. Therefore the master-servant relationship between Krsna and the living entity is more elevated. Then when one attains friendship with Krsna, another transcendental quality is added. There is the conception that God is great and that service must be rendered unto Him, but there is also an extra feeling: "Krsna is my friend. Therefore I must treat Him in such a way that He will be happy." With a friend we are not simply content with rendering service but in making him actually happy and satisfied. There is also equality in such a relationship, for Krsna and the devotee relate on equal terms. Thus devotees in this position actually forget Krsna's superiority. When Krsna's boy friends used to ride on Krsna's shoulders playing games, they did not think that they were greater than Him. There is no question of sense gratification or self-glorification, for the relationship is based on pure love. The devotee's only desire is to give pleasure to Krsna, and Krsna also takes His friends on His shoulders to derive pleasure from them. Sometimes a person simply accepts the fact that his friend will slap his face but there is no question of inferiority in such an action. When friendship and mutual pleasure are the basis of the relationship, there is no question of insult or inferiority.
The whole basis of Krsna consciousness and a relationship with Krsna is the pleasure potency of Krsna Himself. Srimati Radharani, the damsels of Vraja and Krsna's cowherd boy friends are all expansions of Krsna's pleasure potency. We all have a tendency toward pleasure because the source from which we emanate is fully potent in pleasure. Impersonalists cannot think in these terms, for they deny the pleasure potency; therefore the impersonalist philosophy is incomplete and inferior. Those who are in Krsna consciousness recognize the pleasure potency in Krsna and in all His paraphernalia—His friends, servants, father, mother and consort. All relationships with Krsna which aim at satisfying Krsna's senses are manifestations of Krsna's pleasure potency.
As far as the individual soul is concerned, it is originally a part and parcel of this pleasure potency, of the reservoir of pleasure Himself. However, due to contact with material nature, the soul has forgotten its actual position and has become trapped in the evolutionary process of transmigration from one body to another. Thus one struggles hard for existence. Now we must extricate ourselves from the sufferings of the struggle, from the countless transmigrations that force us to suffer the miseries of birth, old age, disease and death, and come to the point of our eternal life in Krsna consciousness. That eternal life is possible. If one tries his best in this human form of life, in his next life he will get a spiritual body. The spiritual body is already within the gross material body, but it will develop only as soon as one becomes free from the contamination of this material existence. That is the aim of human life and the actual self-interest of all people. Self-interest is actually realizing, "I am part and parcel of God. I have to return to the kingdom of God and join with Him." Just as we have a social life here, God has a social life in the spiritual kingdom, and we can join Him there. It is not that after finishing this body we become void. In Bhagavad-gita Krsna told Arjuna, "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) Our existence is therefore eternal, and the changes of birth and death are simply the changes of the temporary material bodies.
The actual process for achieving eternal life is not at all difficult. This process of Krsna consciousness is based on knowledge received from Krsna, the most perfect being. Knowledge received from others is defective because the conditioned soul is certain to commit mistakes, certain to be illusioned, certain to cheat and certain to have imperfect senses. The knowledge received from Krsna, however, actually enables us to see Krsna. Someone may challenge, "Can you show me God?" and our answer is, "Yes. God can be seen at every moment." Krsna says, raso'ham apsu kaunteya: "I am the taste of water." We drink water every day, and the taste of water is there, so if we think of this taste as Krsna, we will have begun realizing God every day. In Bhagavad-gita Krsna further says, prabhasmi sasi-suryayoh: "I am the light of the sun and the moon." Every day we receive sunlight, and in the evening there is moonshine, so if we think of the source of these emanations, we will ultimately become God conscious. There are so many similar instances given in Bhagavad-gita, for Krsna is the beginning, middle and end of all manifestations. If we want to become God conscious and realize our own essence, it is not very difficult. We only have to understand God in truth—how He appears, how He disappears and what His functions are then we can become eligible to enter into the kingdom of God. After quitting this material body, a person who understands God, Krsna, does not return again to earth to accept another material body. Where does he go? Krsna says, mam eti: "He comes to Me." That should be the aim of any intelligent human being.
Satsvarupa dasa Gosvami
Why There Is a Need for Gurukula
Anyone who visits a few of the hundreds of big universities in the United States and other advanced nations will see an impressive array of opulence. Every big state university has dozens of modern buildings with plush student unions, skyscraper dormitories, vast stadiums, acres of scenic campus grounds, etc. But what is the result of all this external opulence in education? By way of answer, there is a suitable allegory told by our spiritual master.
One time a rumor began that the Himalayan Mountains were going to give birth to offspring. Upon hearing this, many people gathered at the foot of these famous mountains because everyone wanted to see what kind of offspring such huge and formidable mountains would produce. With great anticipation, crowds of people gathered, but they were confused and amazed when they saw many rats come running out from the Himalayas. The greatest mountains in the world had given birth to a pack of rats! Similarly, although we have many big campuses staffed by professional managerial administrators, with many offices and many professors with doctorates, the offspring of these universities are frustrated men and women who do not know the actual purpose of life.
Considering this deficiency, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness has begun a school named Gurukula (which means, in Sanskrit, "the place of the guru or spiritual master"). Gurukula is revolutionary because it is producing devotees of Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One who becomes a self-realized devotee of Krsna automatically develops all good qualities and is a first-class educated and cultured person because it is a fact that human life is meant for self-realization, for finding one's eternal relationship with the Supreme. A human being who neglects self-realization is actually no more than an animal, even if he is very proud of his scientific advancement. Try as he may by attempting to enjoy with the body or mind, a human being cannot be happy unless he develops knowledge of himself as a spirit soul who is an eternal part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna. Yet self-realization is the all-important subject which is not taught in the schools and universities of the advanced nations of the modern world.
The first step in self-realization is to realize one's identity as separate from the body: "I am not this body but spirit soul." This realization is essential for anyone who wants to be actually successful and happy in this world, and furthermore it is the first step toward entrance into the eternal spiritual world. It is not that one can simply say, "I'm not this body," but one must actually realize it. This is not as simple as it may at first seem. We are not these bodies but pure consciousness, yet somehow or other we have become covered by a bodily dress. If one actually wants the happiness and independence to transcend death, one must establish himself in his constitutional position as pure consciousness. Each of us is a minute spirit spark who is hankering for the qualities of the whole—knowledge, bliss and eternity but these hankerings are frustrated due to the material body. The information on how to obtain the goal of the soul's hankering is given in Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic literatures, and the pursuit of this goal is meant to be taken up by the practical lifelong study of Krsna consciousness.
The authority of these teachings rests on the Vedic literatures which were compiled in Sanskrit five thousand years ago in India. These teachings are completely free from the slightest taint of the religious or ethnic sectarianism which leads the less educated dogmatic religionist to argue that God is revealed only to Jews, only to Christians, only to Hindus, etc. Krsna consciousness is the eternal science of God and is therefore universal.
The reason that Krsna consciousness was only recently introduced in the West is that it requires to be taught by one who is a pure devotee of the Supreme Lord, Krsna. It has to be taught by one who understands thoroughly that God, the Supreme Person, is not the property of one small sect but is universal and full of love for all people. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is the first pure devotee to bring the Vedic process of devotional service to the West. Previous to his coming, there was no Krsna consciousness movement, and it is he who within the last six years has given the inspiration and guidance for almost a hundred authorized Krsna consciousness centers. Now the Krsna consciousness movement has begun the Gurukula educational project, a primary school for children from ages five to fifteen. From an early age, children can learn the Absolute Truth along with their reading, writing and arithmetic. Just as a child needs math and English to get along in this world, he also needs selfrealization in order to practically know his own identity, his duty in life, and how to solve the problems of material suffering. If children can learn that each one of us is actually an eternal spirit and is meant to serve the Supreme, they will not waste the great opportunity of human life; such children can grow up to truly help others find the real meaning of life.
Formerly, in classical Vedic society, influential citizens sent their children at five years of age to the home of the spiritual master to be trained in austerity, sense control and God consciousness, for thus in later life, no matter what occupation they would enter, they would not forget the purpose of life as service to Krsna. To train children from the early age of five in these devotional practices is to train real leaders and good citizens. Indeed, one cannot expect a good society without Gurukula. If children are taught an artificial standard of sense gratification, their brains become spoiled, for by the time they are twelve years old they think that life is meant simply for enjoyment of the senses to the fullest extent. We cannot expect sane leaders or responsible citizens from such an education system. However, children who are shown by example that serving Krsna in many ways is the real happiness of life-children who come to understand transcendental knowledge regarding their eternal, blissful servitorship to God—will be happy and useful in society.
One who does not know the real purpose of life cannot help anyone, not even himself. The great leaders of humanity, therefore, are the great devotees. From the Vedic histories of India we learn that in bygone ages the great leaders were all holy sages who were able to give the citizens guidance in the real mission of life.
The qualities of a devotee are mentioned as follows in the Vedic literature: kind to everyone, does not quarrel with anyone, fixed in the Absolute Truth, equal to everyone, faultless, charitable, mild, clean, simple, benevolent, peaceful, completely attached to Krsna, free from material hankering, meek, steady, selfcontrolled, eating no more than required, sane, respectful, humble, grave, compassionate, friendly, poetic, expert, silent. These are the first-class human qualities that are being developed at Gurukula. The leaders of every nation are supposed to protect all the citizens under their jurisdiction, not encourage them to live in the illusion of sense gratification, thinking that increased material standards, more cars and bigger tv's will make them happy. The real leader is one who can simultaneously protect the citizens and give them the opportunity to cultivate self-realization while living in their occupations.
A society in which people of all occupations strive to go back to Godhead by their practical daily work, under the guidance of leaders who have thoroughly realized the principles of God consciousness, is not merely theoretical or utopian. It is stated in Bhagavad-gita that Krsna Himself has created in man all the qualities needed for a socially and spiritually successful society in which everyone can work together in God consciousness. Such a society would offer the highest benefit to all living entities, even to the animals who live within the state. However, in order to be successful, such a state must operate under the strong administration of a God conscious leader, and as long as there are no God conscious leaders, such a state is impossible.
As stated in Bhagavad-gita, whatever a great man does, others will follow. Nowadays the leaders of society are the lowest class of men, for they lead people only toward the illusory goal of happiness obtained by increased material sense gratification. It is this illusory leadership that results in the corruption, war, crime, poverty, pollution and myriad other problems that plague the modern world. Only if men of saintly quality can lead the affairs of the nations of the world can there be peace, prosperity and spiritual advancement for all. This is the version of all the world's scriptures: the real leader is the man who can give spiritual guidance, and the good, sober citizen is one who is trained in Krsna consciousness. Gurukula has been established to fill the need for an institution to train such leaders.
The Philosophy of Gurukula
By studying the lives of great devotees, we learn that they started devotional service from the earliest age. Our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, gives credit to his father for encouraging him from childhood to practice devotional service in his play. The Vedic histories also cite the same training in the life of great devotees such as Maharaja Pariksit, who used to imitate worship of the temple Deity in his own childish play at home. Maharaja Pariksit later became king of the entire world and leader of the most successful God conscious monarchy in history. Prahlada Maharaja is another great devotee of Lord Krsna who lived long ago and was trained in the devotional principles from the earliest age. When he was only five years old he used to tell his fellow classmates, "My dear friends, now is the time to learn what Krsna consciousness is, while we are still very young." Whenever the teacher left the room for recess, he would speak in this way.
At first Prahlada's young friends told him: "Leave us alone. We are only five years old; let us play. When we are older we will take the time to learn about Krsna consciousness." Prahlada, however, spoke with great compassion to the young boys and girls. "My dear friends," he said, "we must take to Krsna consciousness without delay." Prahlada explained that the life span of a human being is at most one hundred years, and it is calculated that the first twenty years are wasted in the games and sports of youth, the last twenty years in rest and retirement in a state of greater or lesser infirmity, and the middle twenty years, in which the sex urge is strong, in raising and maintaining a family. Thus sixty years are spent without self-realization. How much time is left to find the real value of life and begin eternal loving service to Krsna?
With this consideration in mind, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has asked his disciples to reintroduce the original Vedic system of Gurukula. It is described in the Vedic literatures that children living in a God conscious society would go to the home of the spiritual master at five years of age. Even if the children were of a very aristocratic home, they would submit themselves to the spiritual master as menial servants to perform service for him and receive spiritual instruction. It is described that a young student would rise early, spend all day receiving knowledge and training from the spiritual master, and in the evening he would eat a little rice and then go to sleep. He would think such life great fun because he was serving Krsna. Nowadays, children are spoiled at a very early age; they miss the real point of life because they are mistakenly taught that to please the senses is the all in all. Thus they take to a kind of pampered animalism for the rest of their days, working in order to maintain a high standard of eating, sleeping, sex and defense, and they become useless men who are unable to perform real service for humanity.
At Gurukula, however, children are carefully guided to appreciate that serving Krsna is fun. One of the basic requirements of real spiritual life is to learn how to control the senses. Bodily pleasure is flickering and intoxicating, and one cannot actually enjoy it because of its momentary nature. One who can come to understand the philosophy of the self as spirit soul will never leave it in favor of a whimsical life of unrestricted sense gratification. In his book Beyond Birth and Death, Srila Prabhupada has written, "We have to understand that if we want to continue the artificial enjoyment of the body we will not be able to obtain our position of eternal enjoyment." Therefore Gurukula works to give realization that the purpose of life is to serve Krsna and to gain freedom from the shackles of material life.
After being trained in Krsna consciousness a man can marry and enter household life and yet not fall prey to unrestricted sense gratification. Materialistic householders live simply to work hard and spend money for family maintenance, sex and comfortable sleep at night. Thus they ruin their lives in the darkness of ignorance. But if one learns about the real meaning of life by hearing from the spiritual master at Gurukula, he can enter any occupation in the material world and not be materially implicated. In fact, unless one understands the real meaning of life, he cannot be successful as a citizen, as a family man or in any other sphere of life. Therefore the philosophy of Gurukula is a prime necessity for the present day.
Religious principles such as austerity, truthfulness, cleanliness and mercy are essential to any human civilization. Even though a secular state naturally wishes to declare itself impartial to religious sectarianism, it cannot abandon these religious principles, for in their absence we have pilfering, prostitution, corruption and cruelty. However, if one becomes a devotee of Krsna, he automatically develops all good qualities. Therefore, in addition to their academic subjects, Srila Prabhupada has asked us to teach the children at Gurukula four things: to always think of Krsna, to become His devotees, to worship Him and to offer Him obeisances.
It is a well-known fact that one becomes like his associates. For example, if one associates with thieves he will become a thief, or if one associates with scholars he will become a scholar. Similarly, one can become saintly in the association of saintly devotees who are guided by a bona fide spiritual master. By associating with those who are vital in Krsna consciousness, the children at Gurukula also follow and become Krsna conscious themselves.
Children take seriously whatever they learn from their elders. Therefore the teachers at Gurukula teach not simply by precept but also by example. Activities in devotional service begin with chanting and hearing about the pastimes of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the teachers at Gurukula are committed to this hearing and chanting process. The chanting of Hare Krsna is especially recommended in the modern age for a person interested in God realization, and the children al Gurukula take this up with greal enthusiasm by association with older devotees who are themselves enthusiastic over this great chanting for deliverance-Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The children take it up because the older devotees are doing it. They could be singing the latest sensuous rubbish broadcast over the radio, but instead they are singing the glories of the Lord—simply by right association.
Although in mundane schools the academic qualifications of the teachers are carefully considered, their personal character and habits are often most abominable. Indeed, it would be a rare institution that could boast that its teachers are free from smoking, drinking, gambling and loose sexual relationships. According to the Vedic system, however, which is followed by the present-day Gurukula, the teacher must not only be learned but also spotless in character. To be a teacher at Gurukula, one must strictly refrain from gambling, intoxication, meat eating and illicit sex, and, most importantly, one must be an initiated devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore the strength behind Gurukula is the ultimate teacher-the bona fide spiritual master—for it is the spiritual master's association that is the cause of all spiritual progress.
The Vedic literature reveals that Krsna, the Absolute Truth, is certainly the Supreme Person, and He appeared on earth five thousand years ago. To attract everyone back to Godhead, He displayed His transcendental pastimes here just as they are going on eternally in the spiritual world. These pastimes are described in our spiritual master's book, Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the children at Gurukula very much enjoy acting out the Lord's activities. One child will play that he is Krsna, and another will play that he is His brother, Balarama, as They go off to the woods to find the cows. Sometimes They meet demons sent by Kamsa. Krsna kills the demons and dances and plays with His friends, who are one hundred percent absorbed in love of Krsna.
The sublime, exalted activity of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His intimate unalloyed devotees cannot be understood even by the greatest philosophers so long as they attempt to understand them on the basis of mental speculation and concoction. The mundane mind takes Krsna to be an ordinary historical person and His activities to be fiction, but according to all Vedic scriptures and the disciplic succession of spiritual masters, God is the Supreme Person, and He engages in pastimes of love for the pleasure of His devotees. In other words, the dry scholars and professors will have to take lessons from the children of Gurukula regarding the relishable nature of the pastimes of Krsna. Just in their playing about Krsna, they are realizing that God is a person and that although He is a person He is the Supreme Lord who maintains all.
As for classroom academics, Sanskrit, English, primary math, history and geography are taught during six hours of daily study, as described below.
Gurukula in Dallas
The first large Gurukula school of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness has been operating for a year on a large estate near the downtown area of Dallas, Texas. As of this writing, there are twenty boys and twenty girls attending this transcendental boarding school. The classroom atmosphere is very serious, and the teachers maintain strict discipline. The classes are so arranged that one teacher can instruct twenty students at once, even though they are at various levels of age and achievement. All the students work simultaneously on individual assignments given by the teacher, and thus the whole class works silently while the teacher at his desk privately instructs each student one at a time. For example, one student may be learning to write the very first letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. The teacher will go over the work with the student and then give him an assignment to write out. As he returns to his seat to do this, another student, who may already be writing whole verses in Sanskrit, is given further private instruction and an assignment suitable to his or her advancement. Thus all ages can be accommodated side by side in any class, and within a short time the students advance very quickly. They also take to the serious nature of the classroom with great appreciation and are very happy to engage their minds in directed study.
The teachers at Gurukula are all initiated disciples of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Jamadagni dasa Brahmacari teaches in the Sanskrit department. Rupavilasa dasa Adhikari and his wife Candrika devi dasi are English instructors, and Jayajagadisa dasa Brahmacari and Dinatarini devi dasi are math and geography teachers. The teachers associate constantly with the children and live with them. The students' parents visit the school on semi-annual "parents' weekends," but the real instruction comes from the teachers, who have dedicated their full time and energy to this upbringing of children in Krsna consciousness. The children study six hours per day in a six-day week, and on Sunday they are free to play as they like, imitating the pastimes of Krsna and taking part in the Sunday festival that is held at the temple for the many guests who attend.
Gurukula and The Future
There is a Sanskrit saying, "Judge the process by the result." We invite all interested persons to visit Gurukula in Dallas, Texas. Rather than merely tell you that these children are happy, we invite you to come and see for yourself. There is no doubt about it; they are coming out successful. They are already well behaved and happy and are advancing quickly in all academic subjects. Moreover, they are becoming thoroughly realized in what Bhagavad-gita calls the "king of education." We very much look forward to the time when these children will come of age and usher in the new era of worldwide Krsna consciousness. There is nothing so rare, pure and valuable in this world as a devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead; therefore, one should appreciate the serious work of Gurukula.
We ask all readers, regardless of their religious upbringing or philosophy of life, to consider the youth of today and the future of their countries and the world. At the rate things are going, civilization is headed for total barbarianism. Gurukula, therefore, is a practical Godsend, and it is to the credit of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada that it is working right now, even as you read this article! The students are there, the teachers are there, the result is being produced. Gurukula is a practical, tangible, workable and successful project which should be continued and expanded upon. Let us all endeavor to familiarize ourselves with this important educational project and offer encouragement and help in any way we can.
The Guidance of the Spiritual Master
Gurukula is ultimately directed by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, whose correspondence with his disciples in Dallas shows how carefully he guided, advised and encouraged the program from its inception. In October of 1971 he wrote: "The important matter is that the children are taken care of nicely. . . Now you organize our Krsna conscious school on the basis of a kindergarten and primary school for children up to fifteen years old. As you develop our program there, I shall give you more hints." Similarly, in December, Srila Prabhupada wrote: "Encourage them to chant Hare Krsna as much as possible, but there is no question of force or punishment. Try as far as possible to discipline them with love and affection so that they develop a taste for austerity in life and think it great fun to serve Krsna in many ways. Rising early and attending mangala-arati [the first temple worship of the day, which is conducted at 4:30 a.m.] is enough austerity. Besides that, let them learn, chant, dance, and eat much prasadam if they like, and do not mind if they have a playful nature."
Gurukula in Dallas is located in large and excellent facilities. When ISKCON was negotiating for purchase of the school buildings, at one point it became doubtful whether the owner would sell, and Srila Prabhupada wrote: "I have been getting good reports that you are all. serious to develop this program, so I am sure that Krsna will bless you with the desired building. Good things do not come so easily; you know the difficulties that I encountered in my first year in your country. Sometimes I did not even know where I was to live, nor when I came did I have any friends. But I was always determined to do everything possible to fulfill the desire of my spiritual master, and despite all difficulties I always remained enthusiastic. So do not diminish your program in any way now. Continue the school project enthusiastically and expect Krsna's mercy at all times. Everything will come out all right."
By Krsna's grace the purchase went through successfully, but in one letter to Srila Prabhupada, the Gurukula president expressed some concern about taking on such a seemingly worldly enterprise as the purchase and maintenance of big buildings. His Divine Grace replied: "Externally we may behave like ordinary men, but internally we remain fixed in the service of Radha-Krsna. The Mayavadi [philosopher who thinks God impersonal or void] cannot accept this fact, and he takes devotional service to be an ordinary material affair. You should never, however, accept the impersonal philosophy at any time."
His Divine Grace continues to give all guidance regarding Gurukula, as can be seen in a recent letter to one of the Gurukula teachers: "I am very glad to learn that the children at Gurukula are making good progress in their Krsna conscious education. That is very good news. Yes, if we simply train them properly they will come to the highest standard of Vaisnava devotees. And what is that training? They should simply be engaged in such a way that they are somehow or other remembering Krsna at every moment, that's all. It is not some mechanical process: ' If we force them in such a way, they will come out like this. ' No. We are persons and Krsna is a person, and our relationship with Krsna is always open as a voluntary agreement. That voluntary attitude-' Yes, Krsna, I shall gladly cooperate. Whatever You say. '—that ready willingness to obey is only possible if there is love. Forcing will not make me agree. But if there is love, oh, I shall gladly do it. That is bhakti. That is Krsna consciousness. Similarly, if we train children by developing and encouraging their propensity to love Krsna, then we shall be successful in educating them to tho topmost standard "
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.
The following exchange is reprinted from The Rising Nepal, a daily newspaper published in Kathmandu, Nepal.
I am surprised that the International Society for Krishna Consciousness plans to build a temple in Nepal for the dissemination of spiritual knowledge. I feel they are undertaking this enterprise on the wrong end. They should be advised to open more centres in the West rather than waste their time and money establishing temples in this part of the world. It is the West that is at present suffering from an excess of materialism and therefore in urgent need of spiritual teaching. Haven't the members of the Krsna cult, and especially Sri Gargamuni dasa Svami, who is at present in Kathmandu, seen that there are already enough temples here? I am sure visitors from the West will have no problem listening to sermons on Gita or accounts of the Great Epics in our temples. So why do we need their temple?
In regard to the letter of Gautam Shakya, the Hare Krsna Movement is dedicated to fulfilling the following prediction of Lord Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the great exponent of the science of bhakti-yoga or devotion to the all-attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna, which is stated in the Caitanya-caritamrta:
prthivite ache yata nagaradi grama
"In all the villages and towns all over the world, this sankirtana movement will be preached everywhere."
Some 500 years ago in Bengal, Lord Sri Krsna Himself appeared as Caitanya Mahaprabhu and preached this sankirtana movement of the congregational chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra—Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. My Guru Maharaja [spiritual master], His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, being a practical and sincere servant of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, is just trying to fulfill this prediction of the Lord. He has established over seventy training centers all over the world to scientifically instruct interested students in the science of bhakti-yoga. In addition, thousands of missionaries have been sent throughout the world to teach sanatana-dharma [the science of the soul's relationship with Lord Sri Krsna]. Therefore, under the instruction of our Guru Maharaja, we have come to your city of Kathmandu to scientifically train the Nepalese people in the science of bhakti-yoga.
It is stated in the Brhan-naradiya Purana: harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam/ kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha. "Chant the holy name, chant the holy name, chant the holy name! There is no other alternative, there is no other alternative, there is no other alternative for God realization in the age of Kali."
Chanting of the holy names is also recommended in the other scriptures of the world. In the book of Isaiah it is enjoined: "And in that day shall ye say, Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted. Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things: this is known on all the earth." (Isa. 12:4-5)
And in the New Testament it is stated: "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved . . . That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people." (Rom. 10:13, 15:6, 15:11)
Therefore, we are not propagating a sectarian idea, but we are distributing the religion of pure love of God. In our Society we have Jews, Christians, Catholics, Protestants, Parsis, Moslems, Hindus, etc., and all of us are chanting the names of God. The age of Kali (this present age) is what Mr. Shakya so rightly characterizes as one of an "excess of materialism." However, in the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is stated in one very nice verse sung by Sukadeva Gosvami to Maharaja Pariksit, kaler dosa-nidhe rajann asti by eko mahan gunah: "My dear King, this age of Kali is full of faults, but there is one good opportunity." Kirtanad eva krsnasya mukta-sangah param vrajet: "Simply by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra one can be liberated and go back to Godhead."
Unfortunately, I do not find your city of Kathmandu free of an "excess of materialism." I am quite surprised that you have not recognized the degeneration presently existing in your city. I may just cite some examples in this connection. (1) In the same newspaper in which our activities were reported you will find an article calling for an end to existing corruption and injustice. But you will also find a full-page advertisement to attract people to become intoxicated. (2) 1 have counted more liquor shops on New Road than you would ordinarily find on an American city street. (3) Ganja is freely offered in the streets although it is illegal in the U.S. (4) Many of the Nepalese youth are turning away from their religious tradition and taking to the Western culture of "eat, drink and be merry." (5) It seems that more crowds jam the cinema shows daily than attend the aratis [ceremonies] at the temples. (6) In addition, I have seen that the cinema houses seem to be in a better condition than the temples and seem to be better managed. The temples have become sleeping quarters and places to excrete stool and urine, exchange money and sell ganja and other wares to tourists. I have not found transcendental instruction in the science of God in any of the temples.
These are only a few of the diseases which are characteristic of this present age. My advice is that the learned men of Nepal organize and initiate a program to ward off these diseases—not only in Kathmandu but the whole world—and give scientific training and education in the science of love of God.
You will also be pleased to know that all the members of our Society refrain from eating meat, fish, eggs, onions and garlic, and they also refrain from illicit sex life, gambling, and intoxicants such as ganja, pan, cigarettes and even coffee and tea. Surely if the intelligent people of the world take up this movement very seriously and thus restrain their senses from such nasty habits, the whole world atmosphere may be transformed into Vaikuntha (one of freedom from anxiety). All the modern problems pertaining to health, economics, population, politics, ecology, war, etc., may be solved by the practical application of this great science, as outlined in the text of Bhagavad-gita.
We are presently holding classes on Bhagavad-gita every evening at the Nepal Cultural Association in Kathmandu, and everyone is cordially invited to attend these meetings.
Sincerely, Gargamuni Svami
By Hamsaduta dasa
For want of a taste of things spiritual, a grave doubt arises in the minds of those who are enchained by worldly knowledge. On hearing a narration of the pastimes of Krsna, they think that the truth regarding Krsna is a mental concoction created by the imaginative brains of certain learned scholars out of material drawn from mundane principles. With the object of removing this harmful doubt, Lord Brahma, the chief created person in this universe, distinguishes between spirit and matter in a rational manner and then explains the pure pastimes of Krsna according to realization he obtained in a trance of unmixed ecstasy. This is the subject of the Vedic scripture known as the Brahma-samhita. Brahma then concludes that the form of Krsna is all existence, all knowledge, and all bliss, whereas all mundane experiences are full of palpable ignorance.
When people who are not devotees hear about Krsna, see a picture of Krsna, or see the worship of the Deity of Krsna, they sometimes think that Krsna is accepted and worshiped as God by foolish sentimentalists simply on the strength of legendary or mythological scriptures. Because such less intelligent persons are accustomed to understanding things by the direct experience of their limited material senses, they cannot understand the transcendental form and absolute nature of Krsna, who is described as the Supreme Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead, by the Vedic scriptures. Because these fools, employing the blunt tools of sense, mind and intelligence, indulge in endless speculation regarding the nature and existence of the Absolute Truth, they infer that the words of authorized scripture, which are in fact the very words of God, Krsna, of whom they claim to be in search, are also tinged with ignorance.
These so-called pilgrims in search of the Absolute are compared with the owl, who sits all day with his eyes closed and then opens his eyes when night falls. When the owl is informed that there is a sun whose illumination dissipates the darkness of the night, the owl will argue that it is not possible because he has not seen it with his own eyes. This is called owl philosophy. God is a fact and can be seen, but we have to be prepared to cleanse our vision to see God. A sound awakens a sleeping man from the travels of his dreams, and he finds his real self lying in bed. Similarly, all human society is sleeping on the lap of material nature, and the Vedas are calling us through the agency of the authorized spiritual master to awaken from our material dream and enter our real life of Krsna consciousness by hearing authorized philosophy describing the nature of God.
God, Krsna, is a fact. A blind man may not believe in the existence of the sun, but there is a sun nevertheless. Similarly, there is God, and He is the origin of everything. Everything we experience has an original cause. Whether we examine a harmonium, a tape recorder, a house, a city, or whatever, we will find a cause behind everything. If one is asked where he has originally come from, he will answer that he has come from his mother and father. If we ask where his father and mother came from, the answer will be that they came from their fathers and mothers. We can conjecture that if we go on searching in this way, we will come to the ultimate cause of everything, the Supreme Father—God or Krsna. However, to save us the botheration of so much research work, Krsna has kindly given us all information and directions regarding His transcendental existence. From the scriptures we understand that the one duty in human life is to become fully conversant with and obedient to the words and instructions of God, just as a citizen of a country is expected to be fully obedient to that country's law. Ignorance of the law is not excused. Therefore, it is necessary for human society to gain a practical understanding of religion or God consciousness. Now we are unconscious that there is Krsna, but by hearing and chanting from authorized scripture, one becomes aware or conscious of God.
Although Krsna is the cause of everything, He Himself is not caused by anything. In the material world everything has its cause, but when we examine further, we find that each cause has in turn another cause, and this cause and effect goes on and on. That is the difference between God and God's creation. God is the cause of all causes, yet He Himself has no cause beyond Himself. Therefore, it is a qualification of God that He is supremely independent. If we wish to understand God, we must find that person from whom everything has come, by whom everything is maintained, and into whom everything is merged to rest, who is the controller of everything but is not controlled by anyone. That is Krsna. Although it has now become fashionable to claim oneself to be God or to say that everyone is God, these foolish statements only show that one has no knowledge of who God is. Whereas God is the supreme controller, we are controlled at every moment. We are controlled by our senses, which oblige us to eat, sleep, defend ourselves and engage in sex in material life, and we are further controlled by material nature's law of birth, old age, disease and death. No one can deny or challenge this fact. Who can say, "I am never controlled but always free?" No one can say that, for everyone is controlled, whether by his wife, his boss, community, country, or some other agent. And, most certainly, everyone is controlled by nature's law. For example, no one wants to become old or diseased, but old age and disease come upon us. Similarly, although no one wants to die, everyone must. Yet still people foolishly declare, "I am God." What is the use of being God if one is subjected to so many unwanted problems? To claim to be God is simply nonsensical. It is better to become the servant of God than foolishly claim to be God Himself.
In Bhagavad-gita Krsna says, "The material energy is very difficult to overcome, but one who surrenders unto Me can very easily cross beyond it." (Bg. 7.14) Krsna is not a creation of the mundane minds of mundane wranglers who are entangled in the mundane world. The mundane world is a creation of Krsna as a gift to the rebellious souls who want to enjoy mundane things because of their willful disobedience toward the Absolute Truth. The living entities are constitutionally spirit souls, part and parcel of the supreme spirit whole, Krsna, yet they are entrapped in this mundane world when they are enchanted by the desire for sense gratification. This enchantment is called maya.
There are three primary energies of the Lord: (1) the spiritual energy, which manifests the transcendental world known as Vaikuntha, (2) the marginal energy, which is the tiny individual spirit spark known as jivatma and (3) the material energy, which covers the living entity and causes him to forget his supreme master, Krsna, thus affording the illusioned soul the false sense of being the proprietor and enjoyer of everything he sees. When such illusioned living entities are confronted with the bona fide description and philosophy of God which is imported directly from the spiritual world for their enlightenment, they attempt to cover God by the same maya or ignorance which by the grace of God is covering them. These illusioned souls, who say that they are God, that everyone is God, or that God is impersonal and has to accept a form of matter when He comes to this material world, are called Mayavadis.
God, however, is neither formless nor impersonal. On the contrary, He is the supreme amongst all persons. Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita (15.19) that one who knows this fact about Him is to be understood as the knower of everything. This conclusion of Bhagavad-gita is understood as the most confidential knowledge of the Vedic wisdom. Although everything is God's energy, one cannot say that everything is God and that we are therefore also God and there is no need to worship God. This Mayavadi philosophy is imperfect, for the conditioned soul is covered by maya or illusion. If God were also covered by maya, maya would be God. This is contradictory.
In Bhagavad-gita Krsna says, "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) From this statement we can understand that God and the living entity are both individual; in the past they existed, they exist now, and both the living entity and God will exist as individuals in the future. In Bhagavad-gita there is no mention of one's becoming impersonal or becoming God. In the Upanisads it is said that God is the supreme eternal amongst all eternals and that He supplies and fulfills the desires of all others. How then can we conclude that God is impersonal or formless or that everyone is God? If He has created this world with all its varieties of form, how can He be formless? I have form because my father has form, but no one is ever born of a formless father. How then can we imagine that Krsna, the supreme father of all living beings, is formless or impersonal?
God is never impersonal. Indeed, in the Brahma-samhita, Lord Brahma, the most intelligent being in this material universe, describes that it is under Krsna's jurisdiction that he engages in material creation. As the original created being in this universe, Lord Brahma is the original recipient of the Vedic knowledge, and thus he is the first spiritual master in the disciplic succession through which the science and philosophy of Krsna consciousness is disseminated in the material world. Brahma composed the prayers of Brahma-samhita as an offering after his mature realization regarding the transcendental nature of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna. Therefore, following in the footsteps of Lord Brahma, we accept Krsna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Absolute Truth and cause of all causes. This is not a question of speculation, sentiment or blind following. We accept the scientific understanding presented by Vedic authorities like Bhagavad-gita (which was directly spoken by Krsna 5,000 years ago), Srimad-Bhagavatam (spoken about Krsna by the great sage and literary incarnation, Srila Vyasadeva), and Lord Brahma, who expresses his conclusions in the form of Brahma-samhita.
For one has a little attraction and faith and agrees to hear from an [authorized agent of the Lord, or from the Vedic scripture, he will be convinced about the existence of God in reality. The Vedas present the science of God with all logic, reason and arguments in order to clear up our illusion. Therefore we should make a scientific experiment which will not cost us anything and which promises us the greatest gain. That experiment is simply to give aural reception to the message of Krsna consciousness as presented by the bona fide representative of Krsna. Because this message constitutes an absolute sound vibration, it will have its absolute effect, just as medicine has its effect when prescribed by a bona fide physician, regardless of the faith of the patient.
Lord Brahma says, "I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord." The word "primeval" in this context indicates that Krsna is the original cause of everything. As already explained, there is a cause for everything, and the cause of all causes is Krsna, who is also the ultimate effect. Krsna is cause and effect simultaneously. Because everything originally emanates from Him, nothing is different from Him, and thus it is understood that God is simultaneously, inconceivably one with and different from everything. The sun is the cause of the sunshine, and clouds also exist due to the existence of the sun, but one cannot say that a cloud is the sun, although in another sense there is no distinction between the sun, the sunshine, the vegetation, fruits and flowers produced by the energy of the sun, and the clouds that sometimes cover the sun from our view. Similarly, Krsna is understood as inconceivably, simultaneously identical with and different from everything. This philosophy of inconceivable and simultaneous oneness and difference, which was taught by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, is called the acintya-bhedabheda-tattva and is accepted by all authorities of Vedic evidence as the complete view of the Absolute Truth. It may be argued that if God is one with everything, He must be all-pervading and therefore impersonal. This argument is accepted as only partially correct, for it is said that He is also different from everything simultaneously one and different. Therefore impersonal understanding of the Absolute Truth is partial understanding only.
We can try to understand simultaneous oneness and difference in this way: When we speak of a tree, we automatically understand that the leaves, branches, fruits, etc., are included. But if we speak of a leaf, WE refer to only part of the tree. One cannot say that the leaf is the tree, for ii is only part, and the tree is the whole. Krsna, in a like manner, is the supreme whole, and all others are His parts. Yet He is a person, as described by Brahma Krsna's form is full of bliss, truth and substantiality. Substantiality refers to eternal existence. We have no experience of any form that is substantial because everything in this material world is temporary. As living spirit souls, we are also eternal and share the same qualities of existence with Krsna. But, in contact with material energy, we become bewildered. Changing from one body to another, we accept various designations of bodily identification as factual, although they are unreal. The material energy is also eternal, but it is endlessly changeable. The hard struggle of the living entity to adjust to his ever changing condition of life in the material nature is called maya or illusion.
Everyone is subjected to four unavoidable miseries in the struggle for existence-namely, birth, old age, disease and death. Even before taking birth, one has to struggle and suffer in the womb of the mother for nine months, and then one comes out with great pain. After living packed within the womb of the mother, where he is surrounded by blood, stool and urine, the child is born crying. Thus his life begins in an abominable condition, and similarly it ends in due course when the body becomes old and diseased and is no longer workable. I n this way the soul who is under the spell of bodily identification suffers the changes of birth, old age, disease and death, only to accept another body and repeat the same process in his attempt to enjoy a life of illusory sense gratification.
This changing of bodies is also described in Bhagavad-gita "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) Thus we are always changing form. However, the form of Krsna is nothing like the material form of our experience. That is stated by Krsna as follows: "Although I am unborn and My transcendental body never deteriorates, and although I am the Lord of all sentient beings, I still appear in every millennium in My original form." (Bg. 4.6) Therefore we should not think Krsna to be an ordinary person like ourselves. Krsna never comes under the control of material nature. Since Krsna created material nature for the punishment of the conditioned souls, how could it be possible for Krsna to be contaminated by material coverings? The king is the creator of the prison house, and he can come and go freely and not be arrested. But if the king visits the prison and the prisoners think, "The king has become a prisoner like us," that is a mistake. Similarly, when Krsna appears in the material world, His appearance is nothing like ours. Just as a king comes of his own accord to give amnesty, so Krsna appears by His internal energy for the pleasure of His devotees. The living entities who are wandering through this material world are forced by the reactions of their work to take birth in order to suffer and enjoy the reactions of their past activities, and for this purpose they are awarded different types of material bodies under the stringent laws of nature. But Krsna is never subject to these stringent laws, for it is Krsna who is the ultimate controller of material nature. Therefore He says, "There is no truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread." (Bg. 7.7)
Krsna is full of truth or knowledge. He says to Arjuna, "Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember al I of them, but you cannot." (Bg. 4.5) We cannot even remember all that has happened in this one life. Because we are changing our bodies, we forget. A grown man cannot remember what he said or how he acted on the lap of his mother because the body is always changing. We say that we are growing, but actually we are changing bodies. This is explained in Bhagavad-gita: "As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth, to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death." (Bg. 2.13) We are bewildered because we accept different types of bodies. For example, when a man is sleeping, his real body is lying in bed, but in dream he accepts another body a mental body-and he completely forgets his real body. But although he is sleeping, he dreams that he is awake and is acting with the body that his dream has concocted. Material existence is like that. Constitutionally we are pure spirit souls and have nothing to do with material bodies, but under the spell of maya we accept a body for sense gratification, and we act in so many ways in forgetfulness of our real identity. Like a man lying in bed dreaming, we are lying in the lap of material nature and forgetting ourselves.
The difference between God and he minute living entity is that God does not change His body, and therefore He never forgets, whereas our bodies are changing at every moment, and therefore we are full of ignorance. Since Krsna does not change, He is full of knowledge. He therefore says in Bhagavad-gita: "I know everything that has happened in the past, everything that is happening now, and all things that are yet to be. I also know all living entities, but Me no one knows." (Bg. 7.26) Krsna is full of pleasure, for He is sac-cid-ananda-vigraha, the form of eternity, full knowledge and bliss. The form of our material body, however, is temporary, ignorant and full of misery. Anyone who has accepted a material body must be full of misery, because the body is a breeding ground for misery. If we find that we are healthy, that is unusual, for it is the nature of the body to always give us troubles in the form of toothaches, stomachaches and so many other miseries. No one can deny this, but still we think and act as if a doctor could give us an injection and we could enjoy good health perpetually. Krsna does not need any injection, nor is He ever attacked by disease, for He is God, and He is always enjoying. God does not have to suffer, but we suffer because we have forgotten God.
Although a king is free to enjoy, the disobedient citizens in his state have to suffer under the agency of the king's prison department. However, it is not that the king wants the citizens to suffer in prison; rather, he is always anxious for the welfare and happiness of all his subjects. Similarly, Krsna does not want His parts and parcels to suffer the pangs of material misery. Therefore He appears from time to time in this material world just to remind us of our actual position as His eternal parts. In quality we are one with the Lord, for we are also eternal, full of knowledge and bliss. Death exists only for the body. For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. That which pervades the entire body is indestructible. No one is able to destroy the imperishable soul. These are instructions given by the Lord in Bhagavad-gita. We have only to accept Krsna and the instructions of Krsna without unnecessary interpretation, and immediately we can experience our eternal life of knowledge and bliss.
There is no necessity of a candle to help us see the sun, for the sun is the source of all illumination. Similarly, there is no need to interpret the words of God, to change their meaning, or to speculate in our own way on what God is. In Bhagavad-gita God Himself reveals Himself in His own words. Is there someone more qualified than God who can create a new religion by speculation or interpretation? Religion cannot be created by speculation, for religion is the law of God. It cannot be changed, nor is there need for interpretation, for it is clear as it is. God is the supreme proprietor, the supreme enjoyer and the supreme friend of everyone. We are not the proprietors of anything, and therefore we have no right to enjoy anything independently of God, who is the best friend of everyone because He is supplying everyone his necessities of life.
It is the duty of a human being to understand God, for without this understanding one's life is considered to be a failure. The process is very simple. It requires only that we give submissive aural reception to the message of Krsna, and gradually, by our hearing, the cloud which covers our real knowledge will be removed. Bhagavad-gita says, "When one is enlightened with the knowledge by which nescience is destroyed, then his knowledge reveals everything, as the sun lights up everything in the daytime." (Bg. 5.16) When the sun of Krsna consciousness rises in the heart of the conditioned soul, he will be able to understand God, his own position, and the material nature, by direct spiritual perception. This is the way of lasting happiness.
by Gunarnava dasa
The young students living in mutual cooperation in the ISKCON temples around the world are understanding that the goal of life is to render loving devotional service to the Supreme Lord Krsna. During the course of the day you may see some of these devoted souls of Krsna consciousness dancing in the main streets of your city, chanting Vedic mantras and hymns, and playing drums and cymbals. The most important and popularly known mantra or chant to be heard is the Hare Krsna mantra, which consists of sixteen words: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. "Mantra" refers to a transcendental chant that can deliver the mind from the material platform of life to the all-blissful spiritual platform. ('Man" means mind, and "tra" means deliverance.) When sincerely chanted, the Hare, Krsna mantra cleanses one's heart of all the collected sin that has accumulated there for years together.
The devotees of ISKCON who chant this Hare Krsna mantra have now realized the potency of the Vedic scriptures and are sincerely trying to regulate their lives accordingly. All honor and full respect must be given to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada for coming to the West to deliver this method of truth, thus saving these disciples from the sinful activities of intoxication, meat eating, illicit sex and gambling in which they would otherwise surely have been engaged. These four major sinful activities not only bind one to the material conception of life but also send one down to the lower regions of the material creation, As a genuine spiritual master, His Divine Grace is telling his disciples that engaging in the service of the Lord will free them from all reactions of material life. In Bhagavad-gita the Supreme Lord confirms this when He declares, "Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear." (Bg. 18.66)
The primary activities of the materialistic person are to eat, sleep, mate and defend. In the animal kingdom these are the only natural activities because an animal has limited intelligence. However, we must try to understand that the human form of life is not meant for living like animals. Some people think that by creating a policy of free indulgence in sex, intoxication and general wanton living they can bring about an end to suffering in the material world. Of course, this path of unrestricted sense gratification is completely unjustifiable, for in no way will it solve life's problems. To give people a chance to experience happiness, one must become pure in his own activities and be situated in his natural position as spirit soul, part and parcel of the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna. The human form is the highest form of body in the material world. The Vedas say that to attain this form the spirit soul has transmigrated through 8,400,000 different species of life. This human form is likened to a boat which can sail the spirit soul over the ocean of nescience to the eternal abode of the Lord. Our spiritual master therefore says that the activities of eating, sleeping, mating and defending must go on, but they must be regulated so as to advance our cultivation of God consciousness.
Some people believe that to live a spiritual way of life and achieve perfection one must negate activity, for they think that the cause of all suffering is the personality or ego and that reality will be attained when this ego is negated. But, referring to scripture, we find that Krsna instructs His disciple Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, "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) From this verse we can understand that the living being has an eternal personality. Trying to negate this ego through a painstaking mechanical process will not bring about the desired goal of happiness. The Vedic authorities inform us that while the living being is living in the material world he is covered by a material body which is made up of material elements—namely, earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and a false ego which illusions him to believe that this false material body is his real self. It is this false concept that the material body is the true self that we have to negate. When we achieve this result we will experience the full nectar for which everyone in the material world is anxious. Our true, self-illumined, ever-existing spiritual form-which is sac-cid-ananda-vigraha, an eternal form full of knowledge and bliss-will then be uncovered. In this natural constitutional position, the soul becomes eligible to enjoy transcendental pastimes with the reservoir of all bliss, Sri Krsna.
For millions of years Krsna has been calling us back home, back to Godhead, but we are so persistent in trying some way or other to enjoy this material world that to most of us God consciousness seems just a myth. Therefore we must now wake up, listen and try to understand that this material world was not created for us to try to live in eternally and enjoy, for life here is temporary whereas the real life that exists beyond this world is eternal.
Krsna's representatives have appeared on earth time and time again to urge us to come back to Godhead. Five thousand years ago, Krsna came personally to this material world in His original spiritual form specifically to reestablish religious principles and give pleasure to His devotees. In other words, the Supreme Personality of Godhead was here on earth just 5,000 years ago! Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita, "In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, I advent Myself millennium after millennium." (Bg. 4.8)
To many people who read Bhagavad-gita the conception that Krsna is a person is very difficult to understand. In fact, Krsna tells His disciple Arjuna in Bhagavad-gita, "Only by undivided devotional service can I be understood as I am, standing before you, and can thus be seen directly. Only in this way can you enter into the mysteries of My understanding." (Bg. 11.54) Some people actually belittle the idea of devoting oneself to Krsna, who seems to them to be just an ordinary man, and therefore Krsna also says, "Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature and My supreme dominion over all that be." (Bg. 9.11)
Fortunately, Bhagavad-gita has now been translated and explained by a bona fide representative of Krsna, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, simply so that we may understand it as it was spoken to Arjuna. Please inquire into this profound scripture. There must be so many questions we ask ourselves from time to time for which we can't find solutions or answers, but all of our questions can be answered if we take shelter of the knowledge of Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
Regardless of the religious conception we follow whether Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, or any other faith-the study of Bhagavad-gita will in no way hinder us or deter us from our path; it can only increase the depth of our understanding. Factually the Truth is one, not many. Bhagavad-gita is a profound treatise that will bring one who studies it nearer to understanding himself, his life and his eternal relationship with Krsna.
When devotees are performing chanting on the street, people often approach and ask why they don't get jobs and do something for society. "What will this dancing, chanting and clashing of cymbals do to help people?" they ask. "Surely making contributions to rehabilitation programs and social welfare societies would be a greater asset to bringing about peace." However, this is not the case. Yes, these activities are very praiseworthy and would help people, but the Society for Krishna Consciousness prefers to go to the root cause of suffering, which is forgetfulness of Krsna, because it is due to this forgetfulness that one comes to accept a material body, and it is this body which is the breeding ground of all miseries.
Performing pious or charitable activities will only bring temporary relief from suffering. Please understand that our position in the material world is like that of a prisoner who must experience great suffering and unhappiness. A prisoner cannot be made happy in his cell, for it is a man's nature to want freedom. Similarly, as eternal spiritual living beings, we cannot be happy in temporary material bodies in a temporary material world. It is up to each individual person to use his intelligence to ask himself if he is really satisfied with temporary and limited freedom. This is the beginning on the path back to real and unlimited freedom, which one can achieve by going back home, back to Godhead.
Next time you see the smiling, happy devotees of the Hare Krsna Movement, please stop and inquire from them further about this Krsna consciousness philosophy. There is no charge. Just put forward your questions. All that you need is an attentive ear with which to listen. And, most importantly, please try chanting the Hare Krsna mantra. This is all that we ask. Simply by hearing and chanting, one can understand the science of Krsna consciousness.