Back to Godhead Magazine

Volume 01, Number 67, 1974


In a Castle in West Germany, And Around the...
An Awareness of What is Best and Most Beautiful
Hare Krsna Song
Sri Damodarastaka
The Killing of Kamsa
Traveling and Preaching with Radha Damodar
Primal Origins
Religion - Material and Spiritual

© 2005 The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International

In a Castle in West Germany, And Around the World...

Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare

This castle is our Society's headquarters for West Germany. Built in 1890 for a German royal family, it's called Schloss Rettershof, ("the castle of the knights"). Now it's one of the more than eighty worldwide centers of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.

The purpose of the Society is to teach a simple, practical and scientific way that we can reawaken the natural spiritual awareness that's present within us all. Whether one is American, German or English, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu or Jew, black or white or whatever, everyone is really a spiritual living being. On the spiritual platform, bodily labels don't make any difference. Spiritually, everyone is equal because everyone is a tiny part of the same supreme reality. That supreme reality is the Supreme Personality of Godhead—God, or Krsna.

Krsna is a universal name for God because krsna means all attractive." After all, who could be more attractive than God? Rama is also a name for God, and it means '"the highest eternal pleasure." Hare is a call for God's blissful spiritual energy. These three names—Hare, Krsna and Rama—are the seeds of the Hare Krsna mantra, or Chant. By chanting these spiritual names of God, one comes directly to the spiritual platform, which is blissful, eternal and full of knowledge.

Almost 100 Krsna conscious devotees live at Schloss Rettershof, and they travel in 16 new Volkswagen buses to cities, villages and towns throughout Germany, just to spread the chanting of Hare Krsna, tell people about Krsna consciousness and distribute books that explain the Krsna conscious philosophy. This is the philosophy that you'll find in Back to Godhead. Read on, and find out more about it.

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An Awareness of What is Best and Most Beautiful

A discussion between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder and spiritual master of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, and Desmond James Bernard O'Grady, poet.

(Editor's note: Desmond O'Grady is a thirty-nine year old Irish poet who has recently published some nine books of poetry, including Hellas, The Dying Gaul and The Dark Edge of Europe. He is represented in a number of anthologies, including New Modern Poetry. He has studied at Harvard and includes Ezra Pound as one of his most influential teachers. He is well known in Ireland as one of that country's major poets.

As Srila Prabhupada, the founder and spiritual master of the Hare Krsna movement, travels around the world, he often meets leading figures in philosophy, politics, science and literature. He always exhorts such influential men to take to the process of Krsna consciousness and employ its realization in their work. This discussion with Mr. O'Grady took place in Rome during May, 1974.)

MR. O'GRADY: Your edition of Bhagavad-gita is very nice.

SRILA PRABHUPADA: It is the fifth edition in two years.

MR. O'GRADY: In which country has the Hare Krsna movement been the most successful?

SRILA PRABHUPADA: Everywhere. In Africa, America, Canada, Japan, China. But actually it has been most successful in America. Many Americans have taken to Krsna consciousness.

MR. O'GRADY: What about here in Rome? Have you had problems with the police?

SRILA PRABHUPADA: We have problems everywhere. Police sometimes harass us, but usually they become tired and eventually don't do anything. [laughter]

MR. O'GRADY: The system give up? That's marvelous. I feel very tired of the system myself. Something is wrong with the present state of affairs. Maybe you can give me some advice on how to beat the system.

SRILA PRABHUPADA: You Irish people! You are never tired of fighting.

MR. O'GRADY: No. [laughter] It's inside us.

SRILA PRABHUPADA: Actually, the fighting has been going on constantly.

MR. O'GRADY: Well, what do you suggest we do about it? I mean, is it morally correct for me to be sitting here-

SRILA PRABHUPADA: As long as we remain illusioned by the bodily conception of life, thinking we are these bodies, one man thinking "I am Irish," another thinking "I am Italian, American, Indian," and so on—as long as this goes on, the fighting will go on. You cannot stop fighting between dogs and cats. Why do they fight? The dog simply thinks, "I am a big dog." And the cat thinks, "I am a big cat." In the same way, if we think," I am an Irishman" or "I am an Englishman," then we are no better than the cats and dogs. As long as people remain in a bodily conception of life, there will be fighting.

MR. O'GRADY: What was Mahatma Gandhi fighting in the House of Commons?

SRILA PRABHUPADA: That was another dog-ism. There is no difference. A dog thinks, "I am a dog," because he has the body of a dog. If I am thinking that I am Indian because this body was born on Indian soil, then how am I different from the dog? The bodily conception of life is simply animalism. When we understand that we are not these bodies but are spirit souls, there will be peace. There cannot be any peace otherwise. Sa eva go-kharah. The Vedic literatures state that a person in the bodily concept of life is exactly like a cow or an ass. People have to transcend this inferior conception of the self. How is that done?

mam ca yo 'vyabhicarena
bhakti-yogena sevate
sa gunan samatityaitan
brahma-bhuyaya kalpate

"One who engages in full devotional service, who does not fall down in any circumstance, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman." [Bhagavad-gita, 14.26]

In our society, there are many Mexicans, Canadians, Indians, Jews and Muslims, but they no longer consider themselves Muslims, Christians, Jews or whatever. They are all servants of Krsna. That is Brahman realization.

MR. O'GRADY: That's giving it a name also.

SRILA PRABHUPADA: Yes, a name must be there. But although, for example, your name is different from that of another Irishman, you nonetheless all feel that you are Irish. One's name may be different, but that doesn't matter. The quality should be one. That is required. When we acquire Krsna's quality, then, despite different names, there will be peace. That is called so 'ham. The names of different people in a nation may be different, but all the people feel the same nationality. Varieties may exist, but if the quality is the same, that is oneness, brahma-bhuta.

brahma-bhutah prasannatma
na socati na kanksati
samah sarvesu bhutesu
mad-bhaktim labhate param

"One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me." [Bg. 18.54]

This world is miserable for the materially infected person, but for the devotee, the entire world is as good as Vaikuntha. For the impersonalist, achieving the Brahman stage, becoming one with the Absolute, is the last word.

MR. O'GRADY: Is the Absolute external or internal?

SRILA PRABHUPADA: There is no external or internal. The Absolute is without duality.

MR. O'GRADY: OK, but on an individual level—

SRILA PRABHUPADA: We are not absolute. When we are situated on the absolute platform, we are absolute. However, now we are in the relative world. The Absolute Truth is here also, but our senses are not sufficiently elevated to understand that Absolute Truth. As long as we are under the control of time, there is no question of becoming absolute.

MR. O'GRADY: So absolute means life beyond time?

SRILA PRABHUPADA: That is stated in Bhagavad-gita.

janma karma ca me divyam
evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma
naiti mam eti so 'rjuna

"One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna." [Bg. 4.9]

That is absolute—going back home, back to Godhead. As long as one is in the material world and identifies with this body, he transmigrates from one body to another. That is not absolute. This is clearly stated here. When one goes back to the spiritual world, he attains the absolute position.

MR. O'GRADY: All right, but this is my question: Is it sufficient for us to sit here—you sitting there and we as friends sitting with you engaging in the gentle art of conversation, while across the ocean—

SRILA PRABHUPADA: The point you have missed is that although you are sitting in one place and I am sitting in a different place, this difference does not affect our actual existence. We are both human beings. The conceptions of Irishman, Englishman, Protestant, Catholic and so on are but different dresses. One has to become free from these designations. When one is thus free, he becomes purified.

tat-paratvena nirmalam
hrsikena hrsikesa-
sevanam bhaktir ucyate

When you have purified your senses and engaged those purified senses in the service of the master of the senses, Krsna, you have perfected your life. That is nonduality, and that is absolute.

MR. O'GRADY: But the system insists that you think yourself American or Indian or African or whatever.

SRILA PRABHUPADA: Yes. Materialistic society means duality.

MR. O'GRADY: But that's unavoidable. How can you avoid material existence?

SRILA PRABHUPADA: That is possible in Krsna consciousness. The lotus lives in the water but never touches the water.

MR. O'GRADY: I don't think you can explain situations in one area with metaphors from another. How can you argue political problems in terms of vague spiritual concepts? Their nature is completely different.

SRILA PRABHUPADA: Sometimes a variety of examples helps us to understand or appreciate the problem better. In this vase there is a variety of flowers, and that variety helps us better appreciate the idea of flowers. From any point of view, Krsna can resolve all problems. Why just the problems of Irishmen or Englishmen? All problems. That is called unity in diversity. Our students come from different back grounds, but because they are all in Krsna consciousness, they are unified.

MR. O'GRADY: Very good. Yes, I accept that. I would like to know, though, that when you say Krsna consciousness, is there any difference between that and Christ consciousness?

SRILA PRABHUPADA: No, there is no difference. Christ came to preach the message of God. If you actually become Christ conscious, you become Krsna conscious.

MR. O'GRADY: And does becoming Krsna conscious or God conscious mean becoming self-conscious? That is, conscious of who we really are again?

SRILA PRABHUPADA: Yes, God consciousness includes self-consciousness, but self-consciousness is not necessarily God consciousness.

MR. O'GRADY: But it may be?


MR. O'GRADY: One may achieve consciousness of the God that is within him.

SRILA PRABHUPADA: That means he is God conscious. You are now in the sunlight, and consciousness of the sun includes your ability to see yourself. In the darkness you cannot see yourself. At night you can't even see your own hands or legs, but if you come before the sun, you see the sun and yourself also. Without sunlight, without God consciousness, self-consciousness is incomplete. However, God consciousness makes self-consciousness very clear.

MR. O'GRADY: We meet a lot of young people in our teaching profession, and we don't try to teach them any kind of didactic salvation. We do try to direct them toward an awareness of what is best and what is most beautiful and what is most spiritually nourishing in the world about them—that is, insofar as the system allows us. Very frequently the students are not neutral enough to be in a spiritual condition; they are more in an emotional one. What we are faced with often is the basic question of "Who am I?" or, "What is it all about?"


MR. O'GRADY: Or they ask, "Why am I here?"

SRILA PRABHUPADA: Yes, very good.

MR. O'GRADY: We are asked, "Why should I be here? Who are you, teacher, and what gives you the right to tell us what to think or what to be or what not to be? Why should I read Shakespeare? Why should I listen to Mozart? I prefer Bob Dylan." These kinds of question seem to emanate from a very disillusioned state of mind, and insecurity, and uncertainty and a lack of credibility in the total structure of things as they are. Frequently we have to answer these questions in a cataclysmic sort of way. Rather than presenting direct answers, we must answer indirectly, taking account of the conditioning that prompted students to ask these questions in the first place. Do you think that we should try to reach them more directly?

SRILA PRABHUPADA: You are talking about the problem of-

MR. O'GRADY: Modern education.

SRILA PRABHUPADA: Yes. So many questions are there, but they are not answered by modern education. "Why have I come here? What is the purpose?" These questions should be answered perfectly. Therefore the Vedas enjoin:

tad vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet

To find answers to all these questions, one must approach a bona fide spiritual master.

MR. O'GRADY: What if you have none? What if we are told that Mr. Nixon is the bona fide spiritual master? What do we do?

SRILA PRABHUPADA: No. No. [laughter] There is a standard for bona fide spiritual masters. You have only heard one line of the verse. Who is the spiritual master? That is the next line:

srotriyam brahma-nistham. The word srotriyam refers to one who has heard from another bona fide source. A spiritual master is he who has taken the message from another qualified spiritual master. This is just like a medical man who has taken the knowledge of medical science from another medical man. Similarly, the bona fide spiritual ' master must come in a line of successive spiritual masters. The original spiritual master is God.

MR. O'GRADY: Yes. Granted.

SRILA PRABHUPADA: One who has heard from God explains the same message to his disciples. If that disciple doesn't change the message, he is a bona fide spiritual master. That is our process. We take lessons by hearing from Krsna, God, and from Him understand who is perfect. Or we hear from His representative, who does not contradict Krsna and who has realized His message. It is not that we speak one thing and do all nonsense. One who does so is not a spiritual master.

MR. O'GRADY: Now there's my poor old father, living west of Ireland. A simple old man, 78 years now, your generation. He has gotten to the point at his age where he says, "They tell me, the priests, they tell me ultimately that it's God who knows. But I want to know who told God." Then he comes to me and says, "You went to school and you read books. Tell me, who told God?" So I have no answer. That is the difference between 78 and 39 years.

SRILA PRABHUPADA: No, it is not a difference of age. The difference is knowledge. In the Brahma-sutra the question is raised: Who is God? First of all there is this question.

MR. O'GRADY: Who taught God.

SRILA PRABHUPADA: No. First of all there is the question who is God. Then we shall ask who taught God. The Vedanta-sutra says, athato brahma-jijnasa: now we should inquire who is God. Unless you know who God is, how can you raise the question of who instructed God? If you don't know God, the question does not arise who instructed God. Is this not so?


SRILA PRABHUPADA: Who God is is explained in the Brahma-sutra. Janmady asya yatah: God is He from whom everything emanates. That is God-the Supreme Being from whom everything emanates. Now, what is the nature of that Supreme Being? Is He a dead stone or a living entity? That is also explained. Janmady asya yato 'nvayad itaratas carthesv abhijnah svarat: the Supreme Being is fully cognizant of everything, directly and indirectly. Unless He is fully cognizant of everything, He cannot be God. Then the question that you raised comes, Who taught God? And that is also answered. Svarat: He is fully independent. He does not need to take lessons from anyone. That is God. If one needs to take lessons from others, He is not God. Krsna spoke Bhagavad-gita, and He did not have to learn it from anyone. I had to learn it from my spiritual master, but Krsna did not have to learn it from anyone. One who does not need to take lessons from others is God.

MR. O'GRADY: Where does human love come in?

SRILA PRABHUPADA: Everything is coming from God. Being part and parcel of God, we manifest partial love because the original love is there in Him. Nothing can exist if it is not in God; therefore love is there in God.

MR. O'GRADY: And manifestations of love are manifestations of God?

SRILA PRABHUPADA: Unless the loving propensity is there in God, how can we manifest it? A son born of a particular father has the symptoms of the father. Because the loving propensity is in God, we have that same propensity.

MR. O'GRADY: Maybe love is generated in you by the need.

SRILA PRABHUPADA: No, there is no question of "maybe." We are defining God in absolute terms. Janmady asya yatah: God is He from whom everything has emanated. The fighting propensity is also there in God, but His fighting and His loving are absolute. In the material world we experience that fighting is just the opposite of loving, but in God the fighting propensity and the loving propensity are one and the same. That is the meaning of absolute. We learn from the Vedic scriptures that when the so-called enemies of God are killed by God, they attain liberation.

MR. O'GRADY: Is it possible to arrive at this understanding of God alone?

SRILA PRABHUPADA: No. Therefore we have cited this verse: tad vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet. The word abhigacchet means "must." It is not possible alone. In Sanskrit grammar this is called the vidhi-lin form of a verb, and this form is used when there is no choice. The word abhigacchet means that one must approach a guru. That is the Vedic version. Therefore in Bhagavad-gita you will find that Arjuna was talking to Krsna, but when he saw that things were not being resolved, he surrendered himself to Krsna and accepted Him as his guru.

prcchami tvam dharma-sammudha-cetah
yac chreyah syan niscitam bruhi tan me
sisyas te 'ham sadhi mam tvam prapannam

"Now I am confused about my duty and have lost all composure because of weakness. In this condition I am asking You to tell me clearly what is best for me. Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me." (Bg. 2.7) So here we can see that Arjuna is confused about his duty.

MR. O'GRADY: Is this duty to the self, to others, or to the state?

SRILA PRABHUPADA: A soldier's duty is to fight with the enemy. Arjuna was a soldier, and Krsna advised him, "The opposite party is your enemy, and you are a soldier. Why are you trying to be nonviolent? This is not good." Then Arjuna said, "Actually, I am confused. In this confusion I cannot make the right decision. I therefore accept You as my spiritual master. Please give me the proper lesson." In a chaotic condition, in a confused state of life, one should approach another, who is in full knowledge of the matter. You go to a lawyer to solve legal problems, and you go to a physician to solve medical problems. Everyone in the material world is confused about spiritual identity. It is therefore our duty to approach a bona fide spiritual master who can give us real knowledge.

MR. O'GRADY: I am very confused.

SRILA PRABHUPADA: So you must approach a spiritual master.

MR. O'GRADY: And he makes a decision on how to help me stop this confusion?

SRILA PRABHUPADA: Yes, the spiritual master is one who solves all confusion. If the spiritual master cannot save his disciple from confusion, he is not a spiritual master. That is the test.

tranaya karunya-ghanaghanatvam
praptasya kalyana-gunarnavasya
vande guroh sri-caranaravindam

This whole confused world is just like a blazing forest fire. In a forest fire all the animals are confused. They do not know where to go to save their lives. In the blazing fire of the material world, everyone is confused. How can that blazing forest fire be extinguished? It is not possible to utilize your man-made fire brigade, nor is it possible to simply pour buckets of water. The solution comes when rain from the clouds falls on the forest fire. Only then can the fire be extinguished. That ability is not in your hands, but is in the mercy of God. So, human society is in a confused state, and it cannot find a solution. The spiritual master is one who has received the mercy of God, and he can deliver the solution to the confused man. One who has received the mercy of God can become a spiritual master and deliver that mercy to others.

MR. O'GRADY: The problem is to find this spiritual master.

SRILA PRABHUPADA: That is not a problem. The problem is whether you are sincere. You have problems, but God is within your heart. Isvarah sarva-bhutanam. God is not far away. If you are sincere, God sends you a spiritual master. Therefore God is also called caitya-guru, the spiritual master within the heart. God helps from within and from without. Everything is thus described in Bhagavad-gita. This material body is like a machine, but within the heart is the soul, and with the soul is the Supersoul, Krsna, who gives directions. The Lord says, "You wanted to do this; now here is the chance. Go and do it." If you are sincere, you say, "Now, God, I want You." Then He will give you directions. "Yes, now you come and get Me like this." This is His kindness. However, if we want something else, that is all right. We can have it. God is very kind. When I want something, He is in my heart directing me and telling me how to have it. So why should He not give directions on how to have a spiritual master? First of all we must again be eager to revive our God consciousness. Then God will give us a spiritual master.

MR. O'GRADY: Thank you very much.

SRILA PRABHUPADA: Thank you very much. My request to you is this. You are a poet. Just describe God. You are expert in describing, and therefore I ask you to kindly describe God in your occupation. Then your life will be successful. And if one hears you, his life will also be successful. That is the injunction:

idam hi pumsas tapasah srutasya va
svistasya suktasya ca buddhi-dattayoh
avicyuto 'rthah kavibhir nirupito
[Srimad-Bhagavatam, 1.5.22]

There are many leaders in society who are poets, scientists, religionists, philosophers, politicians and so on. Those who are so expert are given this injunction: your duty is to perfect your occupation by describing the glories of the Supreme Being.

MR. O'GRADY: My experience is that for some extraordinary reason, one is chosen to do a particular thing.

SRILA PRABHUPADA: That reason is given here. Avicyutah. The infallible choice is this: "Let them describe the glories of the Lord."

MR. O'GRADY: But you were saying that the spiritual master is chosen. The spiritual master, the poet, the priest is chosen by God. This person is chosen to write poems or paint pictures or make music.

SRILA PRABHUPADA: So when you compose music, compose music about God. That is your perfection.

MR. O'GRADY: When one works for God in his line, then his line becomes his perfection?


MR. O'GRADY: Thank you very much.

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Hare Krsna Song

Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna,
Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna,
All the way is Hare Krsna.

Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna,
Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna,
Let me know Thy love for me.

Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna,
Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna,
I will live my life for Thee.

Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna,
Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna,
Lord and master of my soul.

Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna,
Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna,
Love and praise Thee over all.

Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna,
Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna,
To Thy name I'll sing and dance.

Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna,
Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna,
All the time in Thy presence.

Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna,
Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna,
All the ways be Hare Krsna!

Rome, May 22, 1974

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A brief look at the worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

Nine New Books Make Spiritual Classics Available

The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust has just published nine new Krsna conscious books by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. They are all translations, with purports, of Sanskrit and Bengali scriptures never before available in English. Each book is hardbound, with about 400 pages of text, plus original full-color paintings to illustrate each volume.

Six of the books complete the Third and Fourth Cantos of Srimad-Bhagavatam, the scripture that Srila Prabhupada has made his life's work. To present all twelve cantos, Srila Prabhupada calculates, will take sixty volumes. Seven volumes have previously been published. The Bhagavatam is considered the postgraduate study of all spiritual knowledge.

The other three new books form the first section (Adi-lila) of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta. This book describes the pastimes of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the incarnation of Lord Krsna who appeared as a devotee of Lord Krsna to teach the highest form of love of Godhead. Work is underway on the middle and final sections of this great book-at least another six volumes.

The Book Trust has also issued new editions of two other important books by Srila Prabhupada—Sri-Isopanisad and Teachings of Lord Caitanya. Improvements include new paintings, carefully polished Sanskrit editing, and large new indexes.

Scholars in Love with Bhaktivedanta Books

After a few years of what could be described as only casual flirtation, scholars and librarians are starting to fall in love with Srila Prabhupada's books. The libraries of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Swarthmore and dozens of other major universities have placed standing orders for Srimad-Bhagavatam—for all the volumes published and all those yet to come. "This Srimad-Bhagavatam translation is very good," wrote the librarian at the Cleveland Public Library in placing a standing order for the prestigious John G. White Collection. "Please check and see what books of yours we do not have and send me those that are missing."

Professors are becoming enthusiastic. "This Nectar of Devotion is the greatest book ever published on bhakti!" declared Dr. Carl Waugh, Professor of Indian Religion at Cleveland State University. And Dr.H.B. Kulkarni of Utah State University found Prabhupada's books "of incalculable value to anyone who is curious about India's spiritual and cultural heritage." He added: "The author of these books displays on every page an astounding scholarship, and also an understanding and ease of exposition which are the rarest gifts."

Scholars especially praise Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is. Dr. Samuel D. Atikins of Princeton called it "a beautifully designed script of the stanzas, beautifully presented with accredited transliterations and a practical working vocabulary, followed by an outstanding exegesis ... A beautifully done book." Professor Shaligram Shukla of Georgetown offered this review: "It is a deeply felt, powerfully conceived and beautifully explained work. I don't know whether to praise more the translation of Bhagavad-gita, its daring method of explanation, or the endless fertility of its ideas .... I have never seen any other work on Gita with such an important and authoritative voice and style. It is a work of undoubted integrity. I strongly recommend this book."

Newsweek Impressed by ISKCON School

Newsweek, the popular American news magazine, in a welcome reversal of its attitude toward Krsna consciousness (see "Ten Thousand Wives," BTG 65), has published a very favorable article about ISKCON's Gurukula school in Dallas, Texas. The school, it reported, is a "most convincing sign that Krsna consciousness is here to stay."

Vedic Culture and Agriculture

New Vrndavana, ISKCON's 1,000-acre farm in West Virginia, has proved so successful that Srila Prabhupada has asked his disciples to begin many other such farm communities. The Society, therefore, has purchased farmland in Pennsylvania, upstate New York, Louisiana—and in the holy city of Mayapur, India.

There are many reasons for establishing such Krsna conscious farms. First, many people find an urban setting most uncongenial for spiritual advancement; they prefer to serve Krsna in the simple, peaceful atmosphere of the country. Everyone likes to work in a different way, and the farms give the Society a broader ability to engage everyone in the work most suitable for him.

Second, such Krsna conscious communities give an ideal example of how one can live very simply, depending on the natural gifts Krsna has provided rather than the artificial products of supermarkets and factories. In other words, they provide a model for simple living and high thinking.

Perhaps even more important, however, is that these communities can give ISKCON a kind of independence from the shaky financial structures of America and the other nations of the world. According to the Vedic scriptures, real wealth lies in land, cows and natural resources, not in paper money. After all, land and cows provide food and a place to live, and so they have real value. But paper bills are just promises. Their value changes with inflation, and they may at any time become utterly worthless. According to the Vedic scriptures, therefore, our modern world economy, based on a false standard, is headed for almost certain collapse. But by raising its own food on its own land, ISKCON will be able to independently provide for the basic needs of its members and thus carry on its mission of spreading Krsna consciousness, regardless of the economic ups and downs of a materialistic society. We might add here that modern economists would greatly benefit from studying the scientific financial knowledge presented in the Vedic scripture Srimad-Bhagavatam. Vedic knowledge is many-sided. The Vedic scriptures deal not only with religion but also with politics, economics, sociology, art, psychology and all other subjects necessary for a progressive human culture.

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Sri Damodarastaka

(Eight verses in Praise of Lord Krsna in His form as Damodara)

by Sri Satyavrata Muni
translated by His Holiness Acyutananda Svami

When Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, appears on earth, He performs extraordinary pastimes as a transcendental cowherd boy. As a child, Lord Krsna lived with His pure devotees in the village of Vrndavana, or Gokula. In the spiritual world (Vaikuntha) the Lord, in His form called Narayana, is worshiped with great awe and reverence, but the devotees in Vrndavana have such great love for the Lord that they even forget that He is the Lord. Because of their intense love for Him, they think of Him as their friend, son or lover. And the Lord, to please His devotees, responds in the roles in which the devotees think of Him.

As a transcendental pastime, Lord Krsna used to steal butter from the gopis, the ladies of Vrndavana. Once, however, His mother caught Him, bound His waist with a rope, and tied Him to a grinding mortar to punish Him. The Lord is therefore also known as Damodara (dama means "rope," and udara means "waist").

In Lord Krsna's courtyard were two trees, who were actually sons of the demigod Kuvera but had been cursed to stand as trees. By His mercy, Lord Krsna crawled between these trees, dragging the heavy mortar behind Him, and pulled the trees down, thus liberating Kuvera's two sons. The details of these pastimes are described in Srila Prabhupada's book entitled Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

The eight-verse prayer on the following page is chanted daily by devotees during the Krsna conscious month of Damodara. This year, the month of Damodara begins on Nov. 1 and continues through Nov. 29.

namamisvaram sac-cid-ananda-rupam
lasat-kundalam gokule bhrajamanam
yasoda-bhiyolukhalad dhavamanam
paramrstam atyantato drutya gopya

To the supreme controller who possesses an eternal form of blissful knowledge, whose glistening earrings swing to and fro, who manifested Himself in Gokula, who stole the butter that the gopis kept hanging from the rafters of their storerooms and who then quickly jumped up and ran in retreat in fear of Mother Yasoda but was ultimately caught—to that Supreme Lord, Sri Damodara, I offer my humble obeisances.

rudantam muhur netra-yugmam mrjantam
karambhoja-yugmena satanka-netram
muhuh svasa-kampa-trirekhanka-kantha-
sthita-graiva-damodaram bhakti-baddham

Upon seeing His mother's whipping stick, He cried and rubbed His eyes again and again with His two lotus hands. His eyes were fearful and His breathing quick, and as Mother Yasoda bound His belly with ropes, He shivered in fright and His pearl necklace shook. To this Supreme Lord, Sri Damodara, who is bound with His devotee's love, I offer my humble obeisances.

itidrk sva-lilabhir ananda-kunde
sva-ghosam nimajjantam akhyapayantam
tadiyesita-jnesu bhaktair jitatvam
punah prematas tam satavrtti vande

Those superexcellent pastimes of Lord Krsna's babyhood drowned the inhabitants of Gokula in pools of ecstasy. To the devotees who are attracted only to His majestic aspect of Narayana in Vaikuntha, the Lord herein reveals: "I am conquered and overwhelmed by pure loving devotion." To the Supreme Lord Damodara, my obeisances hundreds and hundreds of times.

varam deva moksam na moksavadhim va
na canyam vrne 'ham varesad apiha
idam te vapur natha gopala-balam
sada me manasy avirastam kim anyaih

O Lord, although You are able to give all kinds of benedictions, I do not pray to You for liberation, nor eternal life in Vaikuntha, nor any other boon. My only prayer is that Your childhood pastimes may constantly appear in my mind. O Lord, I do not even want to know Your feature of Paramatma. I simply wish that Your childhood pastimes may ever be enacted in my heart.

idam te mukhambhojam atyanta-nilair
vrtam kuntalaih snigdha-raktais ca gopya
muhus cumbitam bimba-rakta-dharam me
manasy avirastam alam laksa-labhaih

O Lord, the cheeks of Your blackish lotus face, which is encircled by locks of curling hair, have become reddened like bimba fruit due to Mother Yasoda's kisses. What more can I describe than this? Millions of opulences are of no use to me, but may this vision constantly remain in my mind.

namo deva damodarananta visno
prasida prabho duhkha-jalabdhi-magnam
krpa-drsti-vrstyatidinam batanu-
grhanesa mam ajnam edhy aksi-drsyah

O unlimited Visnu! O master! O Lord! Be pleased upon me! I am drowning in an ocean of sorrow and am almost like a dead man. Please shower the rain of mercy on me; uplift me and protect me with Your nectarean vision.

kuveratmajau baddha-murtyaiva yadvat
tvaya mocitau bhakti-bhajau krtau ca
tatha prema-bhaktim svakam me prayaccha
na mokse graho me 'sti damodareha

O Lord Damodara, in Your form as a baby Mother Yasoda bound You to a grinding stone with a rope for tying cows. You then freed the sons of Kuvera, Manigriva and Nalakuvara, who were cursed to stand as trees, and You gave them the chance to become Your devotees. Please bless me in this same way. I have no desire for liberation into Your effulgence.

namas te 'stu damne sphurad-dipti-dhamne
tvadiyodarayatha visvasya dhamne
namo radhikayai tvadiya-priyayai
namo 'nanta-lilaya devaya tubhyam

O Lord, the entire universe was created by Lord Brahma, who was born from Your abdomen, which was bound with a rope by Mother Yasoda. To this rope I offer my humble obeisances. I offer my obeisances to Your most beloved Srimati Radharani and to Your unlimited pastimes.

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The Killing of Kamsa

by His Holiness Satsvarupa dasa Gosvami

His Holiness Satsvarupa dasa Gosvami has served as President of ISKCON's Boston Temple, as Editor of Back to Godhead and, most recently, as personal secretary to Srila Prabhupada, the founder-acarya of the Hare Krsna movement. He is now traveling in the United States, distributing Krsna conscious literature to libraries and college professors.

BHAGAVAD-GITA states that Lord Krsna descends to this world to vanquish miscreants and rescue His devotees. Once when the world was overburdened with demoniac forces, the demigods prayed for the appearance of the Lord. Lord Krsna accepted the prayer, and He decided to appear as the son of two pure devotees, Vasudeva and his wife, Devaki. Years before Krsna's actual advent, on the day Devaki and Vasudeva were married, Kamsa, the brother of the bride, was driving the couple to Vasudeva's home. In the middle of the joyous procession, a voice suddenly rang out from the sky. "Kamsa," the voice said, "you are such a fool! You are driving the chariot of your sister, but you do not know that the eighth child of your sister will kill you!"

Kamsa then at once took hold of Devaki and drew his sword to kill her. This shows the essence of Kamsa's demoniac mentality: anyone or anything that threatened his bodily enjoyment must be destroyed. Vasudeva at once intervened and pleaded with Kamsa not to kill Devaki. Vasudeva spoke in a very enlightened way. Death, he told Kamsa, is inevitable, so why should we be afraid of it? After the end of this body, we get another body to fulfill our desires. Death is only a change of bodies. The real self is eternal, so we should try to find our real life beyond the body.

Unfortunately, Kamsa, being an atheist, could not listen to good instruction. Although each of us has but little control over the forces of nature, foolish people try to become lords of all they survey. They live only for the pleasure of the body, taking the body to be the self, and disregarding the soul. In ignorance, they say there is no soul.

This philosophy is now very popular, but it has existed since time immemorial. Thousands of years ago, in Vedic times, it was propounded by a philosopher named Carvaka, who taught that one should simply enjoy sensual pleasures, like eating, as much as he can. One should not hesitate to commit any irresponsible act to reach his goal, and one should not worry about the next life because at death everything will be finished. When modern so-called leaders take up this philosophy, people in general follow, and society becomes hellish. Not considering the will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, or His supreme proprietorship, men take to animal slaughter, abortion, intoxication—anything. We are seeing only the beginning of this in current times. When Krsna conscious persons like Vasudeva try to give enlightenment, many so-called educated men take them lightly and say that the existence of God and the eternity of the soul are myths. And when governments also fail to meet their responsibility to further God consciousness, social degradation is assured.

To dissuade Kamsa from murdering Devaki, Vasudeva promised that he and Devaki would bring Kamsa each of their children as they were born so that he could do what he liked with them. Kamsa relented, and when Vasudeva brought Kamsa their first-born child one year later, he became a little compassionate and spared the baby.

Later, however, Kamsa became alarmed when he heard from the sage Narada that Krsna was soon to appear. Narada told Kamsa that in his past life he had been a demon named Kalanemi, who had been killed by Lord Krsna, the Personality of Godhead. On hearing this, Kamsa foolishly became determined to kill the Lord. "Any child might be Krsna," he concluded. He at once ordered the imprisonment of Vasudeva and Devaki and killed their child. Kamsa committed many other atrocities, all so that he might live and rule at any cost. He made alliances with many demoniac kings and imprisoned anyone who opposed him, including his own father, Ugrasena. In this way he expanded his kingdom, just as modern politicians do, until he became the strongest emperor of his time. He broke the solidarity of the Yadu dynasty, which included all of Krsna's relatives, and forced them to hide in caves. Year after year Devaki gave birth to a child, and Kamsa murdered every one—six in all—fearing each to be the child who would kill him.

When Krsna Himself became the eighth child, He cheated Kamsa. He appeared before Vasudeva and Devaki as the Supreme Lord and then transformed Himself into a normal child. Krsna ordered Vasudeva to exchange Him with a female child just bom to mother Yasoda in nearby Gokula. Although Vasudeva was shackled and Kamsa's prison well guarded, by Krsna's mystic potency Vasudeva was able to escape from the prison, make the exchange, and return unnoticed to his cell.

Kamsa heard the cries of the newborn child as his death knell, and he rushed in to kill him. But the baby flew up into the air and assumed the form of the demigoddess Maya. "You rascal," she said to Kamsa. "The child who will kill you has already been born elsewhere. You cannot kill Him."

Threatened in this way, Kamsa and his demoniac associates began an all-out purge, ordering the murder of all male children born within the previous ten days. Kamsa also harassed all saintly persons and brahmanas. He knew that the devotees are the heart and soul of his enemy, Lord Krsna, so he tried to attack Him by persecuting His closest servitors and putting a stop to all religious activities.

Lord Krsna, however, was not at all fearful. He simply enjoyed His childhood pastimes in Vrndavana, giving pleasure to His friends, His mother and father, and the cowherd men and women. Kamsa, however, tried repeatedly to disrupt Krsna's pastimes. First he sent a witch named Putana, who had already killed many babies by her black arts. She tried to kill Krsna when He was only a few months old. She smeared poison on her breast, appeared in Vrndavana as a beautiful young woman, and took permission from mother Yasoda to give Krsna her breast to suck. Baby Krsna, however, not only sucked her breast milk, but sucked out her life as well.

After Putana, Kamsa sent many demons, among them Trnavarta and Aghasura. Trnavarta appeared in the shape of a whirlwind and tried to kidnap Krsna and destroy Him high in the sky. Aghasura, the brother of Putana, came before Krsna and His friends as a giant serpent. But Krsna nonchalantly killed these ferocious demons one after another. Krsna's father, Nanda, and other elders of the village were concerned about the constant attacks upon Krsna, so they moved their entire village community to a more suitable place, where they hoped to be free from attack. But more demons came; a giant horse, an enormous bull, a pack of asses, and many others. Child Krsna killed them all, assisted by His brother, Balarama.

When Krsna was sixteen years old, Kamsa discovered for certain that Krsna in Vrndavana was Devaki's eighth child. Narada told Kamsa of Krsna's true identity and related how He had killed all the demons without difficulty. In desperation, Kamsa formed his final plot: he arranged for a big wrestling match at Mathura and sent Akrura, Krsna's uncle, to Vrndavana to invite Krsna and all His relatives and neighbors to attend the gala affair.

Akrura was actually a great devotee of Krsna. So when he arrived in Vrndavana, he confided to Krsna that the wrestling match was an elaborate plan to kill Him and His brother. Krsna and Balarama mildly laughed at this. They invited all the townsmen to go to Mathura, and They Themselves set out with Akrura.

Krsna's arrival in Mathura was supposed to be His entrance into an ominous trap, but Krsna very blissfully and lightheartedly entered the city. And when the news spread that Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, had come, all the residents of Mathura spontaneously turned out to see Him. The real festival in Mathura became the festival of seeing Krsna. All the young girls were very eager to see Krsna, but out of modesty they went to the roofs of the houses to catch a glimpse of Him. The people had heard about Krsna and His activities, but only now did they have the chance to see Him. They became ecstatic and rushed from whatever they were doing to see Krsna passing through the streets. People talked back and forth about how beautiful Krsna was, and they praised the great fortune of the gopis and other devotees of Vrndavana who were able to see Krsna every day.

There are two kinds of human beings—devotees and demons—and in Mathura Krsna encountered both. While Krsna and Balarama were walking through the streets of Mathura, They met a washerman carrying various garments. Krsna asked the washerman for some clothing and promised to award him all good fortune. This is the basis of Krsna consciousness: the devotee offers whatever he has to the Lord, and the Lord, although not in need, accepts the offering to help awaken the devotee's original relationship of service to Him. Unfortunately, this washerman thought himself a servant not of Krsna but of Kamsa. Not only did he refuse to give Krsna clothing, but he called Him impudent. "Don't ask for things that are the King's property," he said, "or You will be punished." Krsna became very angry with this servant of Kamsa and killed him, using only His hand as a weapon.

A little later Krsna and Balarama met a florist who was exactly the opposite of the washerman. He was very submissive and simply prayed to be eternally engaged in devotional service to Krsna. The florist gave Krsna a very beautiful garland at his home, and thus his desire was fulfilled.

Krsna and Balarama also met a young hunchback woman carrying sandalwood paste. Her duty had been to bring sandalwood to King Kamsa daily, but when she saw the personal beauty of Krsna and Balarama, she voluntarily offered the sandalwood paste to Them. In return, Krsna transformed her from a hunchback into a beautiful young woman by touching her with His hand. One may take these extraordinary encounters to be fictitious or imaginary, but they are the actual historic activities the Personality of Godhead performed while present on earth some 5,000 years ago. The great authorities in Krsna consciousness who are passing down the narrations of Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam do not doubt these facts. Mundane scholars and people in general may doubt them, but they cannot understand the science of God as presented in Vedic literature. One who is not rendering service to the Personality of Godhead through a bona fide spiritual master can only whimsically speculate about what God can or cannot do.

As Krsna and Balarama approached the sacrificial arena in Mathura, They saw a big display where a giant bow was being guarded by state soldiers. Krsna walked right past the guards, picked up the bow and broke it. The sound of the bow's cracking reverberated throughout the land and sky and even reached the palace of Kamsa. The guards rushed Krsna and Balarama, but the two brothers immediately killed them and left the arena.

Thereafter, Krsna continued to visit various places in Mathura, and the citizens turned out to see Him, astonished at His extraordinary beauty and opulence. In Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Srila Prabhupada writes, "The two brothers strolled carefree in the street, not caring for the law and order of Kamsa." In this way They hinted at the severe danger awaiting Kamsa.

When Kamsa heard the bow break and heard how the guards had been killed, he partially realized the power of the Supreme Lord. He understood that the eighth child of Devaki had come to kill him. That night he could not rest at all, for both awake and dreaming he had inauspicious visions. He looked in the mirror but could not see his head. He saw stars in the sky double. He saw holes in his shadow, heard a buzzing sound in his ears, and had ghastly dreams of ghosts, poison and murder. Thus he understood that his death was sure. But when morning finally came, he busily arranged for the wrestling match. In his last hours, with death so near, rather than pray to the Supreme Lord for mercy, Kamsa anxiously planned how to avert what he knew was certain.

All those who share Kamsa's demoniac mentality are like that. They can see that material nature will eventually kill them, just as it has killed everyone else in history. Yet they act as if they will never die. A great devotee once called this the most wonderful phenomenon: people see the hand of death take away all their predecessors, but they think that they themselves will not die. The Kamsas of this world are always busy planning how to enjoy this life, even up till the second they are snatched away by death. So many modern cities have been built all over the world, but no one who lives in them has any guarantee that he won't be kicked out today or tomorrow by death. Ignoring the next life only insures that we will have to take another birth to suffer miseries again and again. Kamsa was like a man trying to raise his temperature when he already has a high fever; when the fever reaches 107 degrees, a man dies. Kamsa could not see that all his plans to survive would be vanquished, nor did he care to hear about the next life. Like a typical politician, on the morning of his death Kamsa busied himself making plans for this temporary world.

After bathing and performing other morning duties, Krsna and Balarama heard drums playing at the wrestling arena, and They prepared to go see the fun. But when They arrived at the gateway of the arena, a big elephant with a rider blocked Their path. This was another of Kamsa's schemes. Krsna told the elephant's caretaker to immediately clear the path, but the man became angry and provoked the elephant to charge Krsna. Krsna moved around the elephant, dragged it by its tail, tripped it and finally killed both the elephant and its rider.

Krsna and Balarama then proceeded into the arena, where everyone at once became attracted to Them. The audience was completely attentive to Krsna and Balarama. The residents of Vrndavana were all reciting Their pastimes, and others, seeing Them for the first time, began to praise Their qualities.

Suddenly, a musical fanfare announced the start of the wrestling match. The famous champion wrestlers Canura and Mustika approached Krsna and Balarama, and Canura said, "We have heard all about You. The King desires to see You display Your wrestling abilities." Krsna replied that although He and Balarama liked to play and sometimes They wrestled with Their cowherd friends, They were not professional wrestlers. Krsna said plainly that a match of" professional wrestlers against young boys would not be equal, and this would disturb the audience. But the wrestlers insisted that Krsna and Balarama were not ordinary boys, and so the match began.

Many members of the audience called out their disapproval, for Krsna and His brother appeared to be delicate boys of tender age, whereas the wrestlers were mountainous strongmen, trained in the art of crushing opponents. In Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Srila Prabhupada specifically describes what the members of the audience said. "But my dear friends," someone spoke out, "just look at the face of Krsna. There are drops of perspiration on His face from chasing His enemy, and His face appears like a lotus flower with drops of water. And do you see how the face of Lord Balarama has turned especially beautiful? There is a reddish hue on His white face because He is engaged in a strong wrestling match with Mustika." Another spectator exclaimed, "Even in front of the King this wrestling match is going on between incompatible sides." Thus the members of the audience were very attracted to Krsna, but at the same time they saw great danger and felt anxiety for Him. Even Krsna's very intimate devotees, such as His mother and father, were also very anxious because they too did not know the unlimited strength of Krsna and Balarama.

Lord Krsna is actually all-powerful, and there is nothing to fear when He is fighting a conditioned living being of the material world. Krsna is declared throughout the Vedas to be the Absolute Truth, the source from whom everything comes and upon whom everything rests. Srimad-Bhagavatam says that He alone existed before creation. He is now the only ultimate reality, and after annihilation only He will remain. But by Krsna's internal spiritual energy, called yoga-maya, He acts in different relationships with His servitors according to how they approach Him.

Krsna is the reservoir of all personal feelings, so we should not be surprised that He reveals Himself differently in various relationships. To the mass of people at the wrestling arena He appeared as the most beautiful personality, but to the wrestlers He appeared like a thunderbolt. The ksatriyas (warriors) saw Him as the strongest ruler, while the females saw Him as the most attractive male. The cowherd men from Vrndavana saw Him as their own kinsman, while the yogis saw Him as the Supersoul in everyone's heart. Kamsa also saw Krsna uniquely—as Death Personified.

Kamsa was always fearful that Krsna would someday kill him. Thus he spent his whole life absorbed in thoughts of how to kill Krsna. Because he was always thinking of Krsna, Kamsa was Krsna conscious. But because he thought of Krsna unfavorably, he is not considered a devotee of the Lord. He was not practicing bhakti (devotional service). To be always thinking, like Kamsa, of how to avoid submitting to the Lord's supreme will is the principal engagement of a whole class of men, including modern educators, scientists, politicians and philosophers. By hearing about Kamsa, we can clearly understand why such a mentality is self-defeating.

Krsna and Balarama engaged the wrestlers in the standard wrestling holds and maneuvers for some time, but when the anxious protests of the audience grew too great, Krsna simply spun one wrestler in the air, Balarama hit the other, and the famous wrestlers were dead. Other wrestlers came forward, but the two brothers killed them immediately, and the remaining wrestlers ran from the arena. Musicians spontaneously beat their drums, and the crowd cheered the victory of Krsna and Balarama.

Kamsa was enraged. He announced that Krsna and Balarama should be driven from the city of Mathura, Their riches plundered, and Krsna's father killed. Krsna could not tolerate such talk. He jumped over the high wall protecting King Kamsa and stood before him face to face. Kamsa tried defending himself with a sword, but Krsna grabbed him and dragged him down from the throne. After throwing him on the ground, Krsna killed Kamsa by punching him with His fist. Krsna then dragged Kamsa around the arena the way a lion drags an elephant after killing it, just to assure His parents, relatives and all pious people that Kamsa was actually dead.

One may wonder why this narration contains so much violence and killing, since the Supreme Personality of Godhead is said to be all-merciful. But there is no question of wrongdoing in Krsna's actions. Because Krsna is absolute, whatever Krsna does is absolutely good. Fighting and killing is required for a ksatriya (warrior) when there is a need to punish miscreants who threaten the peaceful citizens of society. When such criminals need to be rebuffed, nonviolence is cowardice, as Krsna told Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra. Devotees of Krsna are naturally nonviolent toward all living entities, even animals, but if the demoniac make a violent disturbance, the devotees are prepared to counter such violence in the service of the Supreme Lord.

Also, when Krsna personally kills someone, He gives that person the benediction of liberation. Astoundingly, Kamsa was immediately awarded sarupya-mukti upon being killed by Krsna. This means that he went to the spiritual planets, where he was able to live in eternity, bliss and knowledge with a form almost exactly resembling the Supreme Lord's in opulence and beauty. Such liberation is very difficult to achieve, even after hundreds of lifetimes spent searching for the Absolute Truth. Yogis and ascetics achieve release from all material desires only after prolonged, severe austerities. But even they do not reach the Vaikuntha planets; they merge into the impersonal brahmajyoti, the effulgence of the Lord. Kamsa, however, had a personal relationship with Krsna. He thought of Krsna day and night: "When will He come? What is He doing now? When will He kill me?" So Kamsa was given a place more exalted than all the impersonal mystic yogis of the hatha-yoga school or the philosophers who speculate about the impersonal Absolute Truth. This gives a hint of the great power of bhakti. If an avowed enemy of Krsna is given such a high place, we can barely even imagine the sweet favor the Lord awards to those who relate to Him in a positive, loving way, always rendering service to Him and chanting His glories.

Finally, one might ask why Krsna should personally fight with a demon like Kamsa. Krsna, being the source of all emanations and qualities, has His own transcendental desires. Therefore He also has a fighting propensity, which He exhibits in His playful wrestling with the cowherd boys of Vrndavana. Authorities in the science of Krsna consciousness inform us that Krsna's choice to fight with Kamsa indicates that Kamsa is actually a liberated devotee of Krsna's who was sent to the material world to provide the Lord a suitable opponent. Kamsa could not actually threaten Krsna; Krsna arranged the fight for His personal pleasure. This understanding brings us to a level of consciousness beyond violence or nonviolence, morality or immorality.

Krsna displays His eternal pastimes with His devotees just to attract us to return to His loving service. We are all eternal parts and parcels of Krsna, but we are now suffering the miseries of repeated birth and death in the material world, in forgetfulness of Krsna. We should not struggle to rival Krsna; rather, we should understand that the only business of our life is to serve the Lord. We each have a natural aptitude for the service of Krsna, and that should be developed, under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master. The first engagement is to hear the pastimes of Krsna. Our present age is very fallen, full of materialistic and impersonal concepts of reality, but the truth is available in the vast treasurehouse of Vedic literature. The sincere seeker will find that truth very easily, if he begins with a submissive ear.

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Traveling and Preaching with Radha Damodar

by His Holiness Visnujana Svami
His Holiness Tamala Krsna Gosvami

LET US OFFER OUR PROSTRATED OBEISANCES unto the lotus feet of our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, whose words and loving merciful actions have inspired us, and thousands like us, to spread this divine movement, Krsna consciousness, throughout the world, in every town and village.

There are unlimited ways to serve Krsna, but all of them contribute to the chanting of His glories. From the very beginning, after we joined the Krsna consciousness movement in 1968, we were attracted to traveling and preaching, and by Srila Prabhupada's grace we were allowed to assist in opening temples in cities all along the West Coast of the United States. We have both taken the vow of the renounced order of life, called sannyasa, firmly committing ourselves to live as traveling celibate preachers. We have both traveled extensively, preaching chanting and distributing prasada (delicious spiritual food), and have opened Krsna consciousness centers in the United States, Europe and India.

Since June of 1973, we have taken the Supreme Lord Himself (in His Deity form called Radha-Damodara) all over the United States. Along with ten other devotees, we bring the Lord to colleges, fairs and any large festive gathering. There we set up tents and spread Krsna consciousness by chanting Hare Krsna, accompanied by ancient instruments, distributing prasada, preaching individually to interested people, and distributing books by our spiritual master. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is Krsna Himself in the role of a devotee, first expounded this glorious program for self-realization: dancing and chanting Hare Krsna to the accompaniment of mrdanga (drum) and karatalas (cymbals), feasting on delicious food first offered to the Lord, and hearing the philosophy of God realization.

Formerly, in the ancient Vedic culture, a sannyasi! was required to go alone into the forest and perform severe austerities. In this age, however, Lord Caitanya has directed that a sannyasi simply stop mundane social intercourse and devote his life exclusively to the service of the Lord. Lord Caitanya Himself traveled widely throughout India, enlightening even tigers and bears. We cannot inspire animals to chant, but we can give human beings the chance to perfect their lives through this simple yet deep and sublime process of chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

For ten monks, serving the Supreme Lord as He tours the continent is full of unlimited bliss. We perform ceremonies of worship six times a day, even while moving sixty miles an hour over the continental divide. In a compact kitchen that turns out prasada for hundreds, we cook all varieties of delicious vegetarian food for the Lord. We study daily the sacred teachings of bhakti-yoga given to us by Srila Prabhupada, and we are always prepared for the order of our spiritual master, who can send us anywhere to glorify the Supreme Lord and defeat atheistic propaganda.

Everywhere we hold our sacred Krsna conscious festivals, people become convinced of the Krsna conscious way of life. They become inspired to join us in this divine mission of traveling and preaching, and so in only a few months we have started the same program with a second bus. And soon, by Krsna's desire, we hope to see hundreds of buses bringing these blissful festivals to every town and village.

His Holiness Visnujana Svami joined the Krsna consciousness movement in San Francisco in 1968. He accepted the renounced order in 1970, and since then he has been traveling, holding festivals and opening Krsna conscious centers throughout the United States.

His Holiness Tamal Krsna Gosvami, one of ISKCON's Governing Body Commissioners, also joined Krsna consciousness in 1968. He accepted sannyasa in 1972 in Jaipur, India. He served as President of ISKCON's Los Angeles center and was then sent overseas to help initiate ISKCON's preaching programs in Europe. For the last five years he has been Srila Prabhupada's secretary for India. He has recently returned to the United States for increased preaching.

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Primal Origins

by Yogesvara dasa

Yogesvara dasa is a 24-year-old American now living at the ISKCON center in Paris, France. He has studied at the University of Wisconsin and the Sorbonne. He and his wife play important roles in preparing Krsna conscious books and magazines for publication In French and other European languages.

Before accepting the renounced order of life in 1959, our spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, was chief supervisor in the laboratory of Dr. Jagadis Chandra Bose, renowned Indian botanist and chemist, whose most memorable experiments were in the field of consciousness-perception in plants and other nonmoving entities. Dr. Bose was an innovator in the true sense of the term. He attempted successfully to show contemporary men of science the need for a spiritual perspective in their work-an open-mindedness that would allow them to examine more objectively the conclusions of the Vedic scriptures-and simultaneously he resolved the ambivalent attitude toward Western science held by many of his Hindu associates. Dr. Bose summarized his most recurrent experimental theme in these concluding remarks of his lecture-demonstration at the Royal Institute in 1901:

"I have shown you this evening the autographic records of the stress and strain in both the living and the nonliving. How similar are the two sets of writing, so similar indeed that you cannot tell them the one from the other! They show you the waxing and waning pulsations of life—and the climax due to stimulants, the gradual decline in fatigue, the rapid setting in of death rigor from the toxic effect of poison. It was when I came on this mute witness of life and saw an all-pervading unity that binds together all things—it was then that for the first time I understood that message proclaimed on the banks of the Ganges thirty centuries ago: 'Those who behold the One in all the changing manifoldness of the universe, unto them belongs the eternal truth, unto none else, unto none else.' " ** (Quoted in RabindranathTagore, "Acharya Jagadisher Jaivarta," Vasudhara, 2 (1958), pp. 107-9.)

This must have been hard to swallow for some of Bose's Western listeners, steeped in an Aristotelean scientific culture. The intellects of modern science prefer on the whole to see such conclusions relegated to convenient departments of parapsychology and religious studies, thus freeing themselves from the responsibility of conscientiously seeking to resolve the dichotomy between science and religion. This situation has arisen not because all scientists are necessarily anti-religion, but rather because religion for so long has not shown her scientific side—the substantive, researchable quality that would make her more attractive to the rationalist.

A quality of honest men is that they admit ignorance of things beyond their knowledge, and further that they accept an idea when convinced of it by proper reason and argument. The Vedic conception of the forthright man of science is one of an individual bent on extending the perimeters of emperical knowledge to bring about a fusion with transcendental truth. Real science, according to the Vedic conception, is not unspiritual, but, rather, unrestricted, truly experimental—even to the extent of experimenting with the chanting of ancient mantras, for example, or attempting the various yoga systems as means for self-purification. And real religion, say the Vedas, rests not on blind following or mere sentiment, but rather on a scientific analysis of matter, spirit and the control of both.

This is not a new viewpoint. The greatest scientific thinkers in history have all been spiritual men who have tried to unify the apparent divergencies between science and religion. All have pointed to the same ultimate truth in science and religion, but only from different points of vision.

"Subjects of philosophy and theology are like the peaks of large and towering and inaccessible mountains standing in the midst of our planet inviting attention and investigation. Thinkers and men of deep speculation take their observations through the instruments of reason and consciousness. But they take different points when they carry on their work. These points are positions chalked out by the circumstances of their social and philosophical world. Plato looked at the peak of the spiritual question from the West, and Vyasa made the observation from the East: so Confucius did it from further East, and Schlegel, Spinoza, Kant and Goethe from further West. These observations were made at different times and by different means; but the conclusion is all the same inasmuch as the object was one and the same." ** (Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, The Bhagavata: Its Philosophy, Its Ethics and Its Theology. pp. 15-16.)

Krsna consciousness, as a practical program for implementing the conclusions of spiritual science, may offer some valuable insights into primal origins, or the beginnings of the creation, which might not otherwise be available to sincere men of science. This information is drawn from authentic Vedic texts, and, as we shall see, it finds convincing supportive evidence in modern logic and scientific discovery.

Scientific opinions about the origins of creation have been summarized into two very famous theories, called Big Bang and Steady State. The Big Bang theory hypothesizes that originally there existed an enormous manifestation of matter that by its own gravitational force "turned in" on itself, creating a density so great that it ultimately exploded, sending gas, dust and radiation flying millions of miles into space. Little by little, over an unimaginably long time, these substances began synthesizing into solid elements, which in turn became planets and other celestial bodies. The Steady State theory, however, suggests that the process of creation is going on perpetually, from a source in the universe that constantly produces material elements. These elements spread out and form the planets, stars and other celestial manifestations. Thus the process of creation is constantly going on.

The Original Cause

Of the two theories, Vedic references tend toward the Big Bang theory, which suggests that at a certain time well in the future the process will reverse itself, and all the planetary systems, galactic clusters and so on will begin to decompose as the universe again turns in on itself. At that time all forms within the universe will cease to exist, having returned to their original state, and the program will begin anew.

"At the end of the millennium [the Lord says], every material manifestation enters into My nature, and at the beginning of another millennium, by My potency, I again create." (Bhagavad-gita 9.7)

"This material nature is working under My direction, and it is producing all moving and unmoving beings. By its rule this manifestation is created and annihilated again and again." (Bhagavad-gita 9.10)

The major distinction between scientific theories and Vedic statements is that scientific theories are obliged to stop at the point of primal origins (where did the primeval "lump" or source of the steady state come from?), whereas the Vedas continue their explanation back to the adi-purusa, or the primal cause of all causes.

According to Vedic statements, no creation exists without a clearly defined purpose, though that purpose may remain hidden from our eyes for some time. Contrary schools of thought, however, such as the Existential and Absurdist schools, propose that the creation is purposeless, meaningless, and that life is an absurdity, a dreamlike state that ends with death. Followers of these rather depressing ideologies generally lead unhappy lives, for they find no meaning for living yet are unable to explain why they prefer to live rather than die.

Neither the meritorious men of science nor the devoted followers of the Vedas agree with the idea of purposelessness. In fact, neither in the macrocosm of the universe nor in the microcosm of the tiniest atomic particle do we find such aimlessness or disorder. Order pervades every inch of space and time, and the history of man reads like a captain's log book—with page after page of notes, charts and graphs, all attempting to define and order the world around us.

The creation took place, according to the Vedas, by the will of the Supreme Lord. To accommodate the desires of living beings who sought to live outside His jurisdiction, the Lord created the material world, just as a government constructs a prison for citizens who want to live outside the laws of the state. The rebellious souls who prefer the pseudo independence of material life get various bodies in this world according to how lusty they are to enjoy the resources of material nature (animals occupy a position lower than human beings, yet higher than plants and trees). The forgetful living beings, ignorant of their original spiritual nature, try to enjoy to the best of their tiny ability, but in this way they implicate themselves further and further in the entanglements of material life.

"The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself the doer of activities that are in actuality carried out by nature." (Bg. 3.27) "The living entity in material nature follows the ways of life, enjoying the three modes of material nature. Thus he meets with good and evil amongst various species." (Bg. 13.22)

The Vedas describe the human form of life as the loophole through which to escape from the world of birth and death. After a natural evolution through 8,400,000 species, the living being achieves a human form, in which he can revive his dormant self-consciousness and return home, back to Godhead.

The Touch of a Living Being

Now, some people consider themselves too rational to accept unseen laws of reincarnation or the existence of a Supreme Being. They express their objections by posing rhetorical questions like, "If God created everything, then who created God?" But even if we think that someone else created God, this still implies the existence of an ultimate cause So actually no one objects to the idea of some ultimate cause-neither the proponents of the empiric school nor the students of spiritual science. Admitting an ultimate cause, therefore, we must ask this basic question of creation: was that original cause conscious or inert?

When I was small, I remember now, there was a game I would play for fun with friends. I would set up a line of dominoes, so long that it extended into the next room. Then when a friend would come in, I would push the first domino and watch my friend's surprised face as the line of dominoes fell, as if by magic, across the room. Because my friend could not see who moved them, he would be amazed by the feat. Similarly, we wonder at the workings of nature, who bears rich harvests year after year, as if by magic, and turns the color of leaves on the autumn trees with masterful discretion. We gape childlike at the vastness of space and its perfect order, self-sufficient planets and orchestral movements. On a human level, the beauty of a painting reflects the creativity of its painter, the harmonies of a piano concerto that of its author, and the qualities of a son those of his father. Throughout the history of the world, there has never been creation without the touch of a living being. That same principle holds true, according to the Vedas, on a universal scale.

Evidence of the Unseen

As for the objection to unseen movers, a second example will explain this principle to the skeptic: The electron has never actually been seen, though its discovery has launched a whole new field of investigation—subatomic physics—which deals with particles so small that they are virtually invisible and can be tracked only by a tail of bubbles they leave behind them as they travel through some medium, such as liquid oxygen. These electrons are like the jet planes we know have just passed overhead because we can see their white tails of smoke. So, the entire cosmic manifestation displays the creative potency of the Supreme, though He Himself remains invisible to our gross vision. And as the electron makes no extraneous effort to create its tail, so the Supreme exerts very little energy to create this material world. We can hardly imagine, therefore, how great is the total creative power of the Supreme Absolute Truth.

The objection raised by the rationalists is more semantic than sincere: if everything has a cause, then what caused God? The difficulty we have in accepting something or someone without a cause is due to our conditioned life, for nothing within our experience has ever been causeless. "Cause and effect" is a familiar, practical law that allows us to deal with everyday affairs without having to abandon any of our common values. But causelessness implies supremacy, absoluteness, a God to whom we will have to surrender—and because God has a very bad reputation in the material world, that idea repels us, frightens us. We have no knowledge of God, except what the village elders have told us about a wrathful, chastising Deity, and the whole concept of "surrender" appears aboriginal, uncivilized.

"If God does exist," the modern pioneering man tells himself, "then I will have to accept a subordinate position"—something he finds hard to do. So modern educators teach quite the contrary-that our young should learn to think for themselves, to become independent. ("We don't actually know any better than you," the teacher says. "Try to find the solution by yourself.") This they call the spirit of self-sufficiency or "the human potential." But the result of such indoctrination has been that many educated men automatically throw up a wall of self-defense when a discussion veers toward love of God. Marxist theory epitomizes this spirit of self-sufficiency by stressing the "infinite creative power of the people," man's ability to resolve his problems and create for himself a perfect society, a classless society, in which research will be unimpaired by political oppression, in which men in every sphere of activity will feel satisfied and productive—in other words, a kingdom of God without God.

Our purpose here is not to show all the defects in this kind of reasoning. Writers of much greater merit have successfully done so already. Rather, this article is an attempt to present basic scientific information that will help sincere inquirers understand Krsna to be the cause of the universe-and help them understand Krsna's causeless nature.

The Ultimate Goal of Research

According to the Brahma-samhita, Krsna's body is not made of atoms and molecules. And Sri Isopanisad adds that His body contains no veins or other mechanical arrangements for maintaining itself. Krsna the person and Krsna's body are nondifferent. Therefore both Krsna and His body are eternal, without beginning or end, unlike our material bodies, which perish with the passage of time and molecular deterioration.

The spiritual world is nondual. Non-dual does not mean, as some Vedantists say, that we are the same as God. "Non-dual" refers to the fact that in the spiritual world there is no qualitative difference between Krsna and His form, Krsna and His name, Krsna and His pastimes, Krsna and His abode. All are of the same eternal, blissful nature. In that eternal, blissful spiritual world, Krsna is engaged in playing lovingly with His devotees in varieties of relationships and affairs. Renowned scholars and speculative philosophers often interpret Krsna's personal life and loves as mythological, in the same way that the wranglers in the scientific arena interpret God as a creation of the mind of man. Actually Krsna is not man-made, nor are His activities mythological. Love of Krsna constitutes the ultimate goal of research and the perfection of all knowledge. Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita:

"After many births of speculative research, the truly intelligent man surrenders unto Me, Krsna, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare." (Bg. 7.19)

The Spirit of Investigation

Many theories about the origins of creation strongly resemble the explanations of Vedic literature. Space theorists such as Albert Einstein and the German writer Willie Ley have described the universe as expanding in three dimensions. This is corroborated by the Vedic writings. Srimad-Bhagavatam describes that the material universes exit from the immense body of Maha-Visnu, the creative Personality of Godhead, in the form of particles, three times the size of an atom, that gradually expand. Now, according to Vedic scientific calculation, the universe we live in has attained a diameter of 4,500,000 miles, past which the sevenfold coverings of the universe begin. These coverings are earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind and intelligence. The first layer extends 8,000,000 miles, and each successive layer extends for ten times the thickness of the preceding layer. The study of these material elements is called Sankhya. It was first described by the great incarnation Kapiladeva. His advent and instructions on the cosmic manifestation, its spiritual counterpart and the supreme control of both are all described in the Third Canto of the Bhagavatam.

Beyond the sevenfold coverings of the material universe is the spiritual sky, which is unknown to the empiric researcher. Its residents enjoy eternal life, full of bliss and knowledge (sac-cid-ananda), unimpaired by the miseries of life in the material world. This material world is described as a perverted reflection of that spiritual realm. Everything found here exists in its original pure state in the paravyoma, or spiritual sky. Here, for example, a flower lives and then dies. There, it only lives. Death is unknown. As varieties of life exist here, so great varieties of life also exist in the spiritual world. But there the cows, the swans, the trees—all living beings—are of the same eternal, spiritual nature as Krsna Himself. This material universe displays a graduation of planetary systems; and so also in the spiritual sky there are diverse planets, each inhabited by self-realized souls who have no thought other than to serve the Lord of their hearts, Krsna. The Rg Veda describes Vrndavana, the planet of Krsna, as the highest abode of all (Rg Veda, 1.1 54.6). Devotees of Krsna who have purified themselves of all material desire, false pride and envy return to that supreme abode after leaving their present bodies.

A careful study of Vedic scriptures reveals that nowhere has science or research been forbidden or condemned. Rather, the same spirit of investigation has been encouraged everywhere, throughout the Vedas. Bhagavad-gita directs that one should approach a spiritual master with questions (pariprasna). And, again, the Caitanya-caritamrta says "Apply your reason and logic."

It is sad to see how this spirit of true scientific investigation has been stifled, especially in contemporary educational institutions. Spiritual study should not be avoided. ISKCON proposes that all universities develop within the structure of their already existing curricula a department of spiritual sciences to deal directly with the question of God's existence, the nature of universal law, and the practical application of spiritual knowledge. Accredited instructors from among the ranks of Krsna conscious devotees are prepared to assist in organizing such departmental studies, and for this they require no salary. Our purpose is not self-interested. According to the circumstances either traditional or "free university" classes may be given, and courses may deal with any revealed scriptures, not only the Vedas.

The Excellence of the Vedas

The Vedas, however, are outstanding. They contain information on everything from medicine and farming to a detailed explanation of time sequences on upper and lower planets, from techniques of yoga and meditation to household hints and recipes for tasty vegetarian dishes-from detailed explanations of governmental organization to masterful directions on constructing and decorating a temple or residential building. The verses in each of the hundreds of Vedic texts conform to strict rules of poetry and meter. The Vedas contain drama, history and complex philosophy, as well as simple lessons of etiquette. Military protocol, use of musical instruments, biographies of great saints and sages of the past—these are but a few of the subjects covered by the Vedas. By following Vedic directions, all the great spiritual leaders in the history of India have achieved perfection (Bg. 4.2). How, then, could we say that the Vedas, compiled by the incarnation Vyasadeva, are works of a mortal being? Scriptures are not products of the material world, where passion and ignorance predominate. No person under the influence of passion and ignorance could possibly produce an authentic scripture. For over 5,000 years the Vedic teachings have been studied and admired by the world's most profound scholars. No mundane writing can possibly approach the level of an authentic revealed scripture.

The original speaker of the Vedas is Narayana (Krsna), as stated in the Mahabharata (Santi-parva, Moksa-dharma, chapter 349, verse 68). Vyasadeva and those who follow in succession from him are the propagators of the Vedas. So the principal difference between the empiric researcher and the spiritual experimentalist is that the mundane researcher refuses to accept information coming from a realm beyond his sensual perception—despite constant reminders that his senses can fail him—whereas the spiritualist has adopted a submissive attitude. The spiritualist, therefore, by approaching the proper authority, can acquire knowledge that could not otherwise be obtained.

"Cavil as Much as You Like"

The conclusions of the two schools are the same: that there exist living beings and a manifested world; that both of them are controlled; that since nothing within our experience exists without some cause, there must also be a cause for the cosmic manifestation; that man is struggling on account of ignorance; and, finally, that human life is meant for realizing our actual position and resolving the frustration imposed by our ignorance.

Scientists like Bose have served to help dissuade thoughtful men from accepting the idea of man's ability to solve all his problems independently. Although this idea may superficially appear palatable, in fact the same problems confront modern, technologically advanced Everyman that have always confronted him: birth, old age, disease, death. And no progressive planning commission or well-meaning manifesto will ever do away with these ubiquitous companions to life in the material world. Nor should useless arguments taint our spirit of investigation. After all, who can deny the infinitude of even this material creation, which is described as only one-fourth of the entire creation of God? The Bhisma-parva section of the Mahabharata says, acintyah khalu ye bhava na tams tarkena yojayet: "Things of an inconceivable nature certainly cannot be grasped by argument."

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura concludes, "Cavil as much as you like"—ultimately one must surrender to Krsna.

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Religion - Material and Spiritual

In 1971 Srila Prabhupada lectured at a series of Krsna conscious festivals held in a huge pandal, or exhibition tent, in downtown Delhi, India. This is one lecture from that series.

By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

According to our Vedic system, there are two kinds of religion. First we must try to understand what religion is. Religion refers to our constitutional position. Religion is different from faith. A faith can be changed. One may be a Christian or a Mohammedan or Hindu, but according to the Vedic system, religion cannot be changed. Religion is dharma, the constitutional position of the living entity It is to the living entity what sweetness is to sugar or heat is to fire. Everything has some essential characteristic, and the essential characteristic of the living entity is his eternal religion, sanatana-dharma.

As stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sixth Canto, dharmam tu saksad-bhagavat-pranitam: the principles of religion are directly enunciated by the Lord. In the beginning of Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna uses the word dharma in this way:

yada yada hi dharmasya
glanir bhavati bharata
abhyutthanam adharmasya
tadatmanam srjamy aham

"Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion—at that time I descend Myself." (Bg. 4.7)

In the conclusion of Bhagavad-gita Sri Krsna says:

sarva-dharman parityajya
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah

"Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear." (Bg. 18.66)

If the Supreme Personality of Godhead appears on this planet to establish dharma (dharma-samsthapanarthaya), then why does He say abandon all dharma (sarva-dharman parityajya)? This means that but for surrender unto the lotus feet of Krsna, whatever is going under the name of dharma is not actually dharma. Dharma does not mean going to the church for some ulterior motive, for some money or sense gratification. Generally people cultivate dharma, artha, kama, moksa—religion, economic development, sense gratification and liberation. But one should not take to religion simply to make more money. That is not pure devotion. Pure devotion is described in this way:

anukulyena krsnanu-
silanam bhaktir uttama
(Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.1.11)

In this verse Srila Rupa Gosvami clearly states that if one wants to execute unalloyed devotional service, he must be freed from all kinds of material contamination. One should not have any ulterior motive in approaching God but should approach God only out of love. This is the teaching of Caitanya Mahaprabhu:

aslisya va pada-ratam pinastu mam
adarsanan marma-hatam karotu va
yatha tatha va vidadhati lampato
mat-prana-nathas tu sa eva naparah

"I do not know anyone except Krsna as my Lord, and He will always remain as such, even if He handles me roughly by His embrace or makes me brokenhearted by not being present before me. He is completely free to do anything and everything, but He is always my worshipable Lord, unconditionally." (Siksastaka 8)

This is the attitude of a pure devotee. His exchange with God is not like the exchange between one merchant and another. He does not want anything of God except God's pure devotional service. The jnanis are desirous of liberation. They want to merge with the Supreme, and to this end they undergo austerities. They are serious, but they desire to become one with God. The yogis also undergo severe penances in the mystic yoga system, but they desire mystic powers. The karmis are also full of desires for sense gratification. Everyone has some demand, therefore, but the bhakta, the devotee, is different. There is no desire for the bhakta other than serving Krsna. As stated by Caitanya Mahaprabhu:

na dhanam na janam na sundarim
kavitam va jagad-isa kamaye
mama janmani janmanisvare
bhavatad bhaktir ahaituki tvayi

"O almighty Lord! I have no desire to accumulate wealth, nor have I any desire to enjoy beautiful women, nor do I want any number of followers. What I want only is that I may have Your causeless devotional service in my life—birth after birth." (Siksastaka 4)

Thus Caitanya Mahaprabhu rejects even liberation. This is the state called akama. This means devoid of desire for material things. In the Caitanya-caritamrta there is a verse that reads: krsna-bhakta—niskama, ataeva 'santa'/ bhukti-mukti-siddhi-kami—sakali 'asanta'. There are many planets for those who worship the demigods, and in the higher planetary system the program for sensual enjoyment is much better than on other planets. Just as on this planet the American standard of living is far greater than that of other countries, in other planets the standard of living is far greater than on this earth. The inhabitants live many thousands of years. In Bhagavad-gita it is stated that Brahma's duration of life is very long indeed.

ahar yad brahmano viduh
ratrim yuga-sahasrantam
te 'ho-ratra-vido janah

"By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together is the duration of Brahma's one day. And such also is the duration of his night." (Bg. 8.17)

Although this may be the case, Krsna states:

a-brahma-bhuvanal lokah
punar avartino 'rjuna
mam upetya tu kaunteya
punar janma na vidyate

"From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again." (Bg. 8.16)

So even if one goes to the higher planets like Brahmaloka, he will have to come back again. However, Krsna says that if one comes to Him, back to Godhead, then he does not have to return to the material world. The living entities within the material world are always full of anxiety and fear because their position is nonpermanent. A devotee, however, is not afraid of this material world. He simply wants one thing—wherever he is he wants to be able to chant Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. That is the aim of the devotee.

Just as there are two natures—material and spiritual nature—so there are two kinds of dharma, or religion: material dharma and spiritual dharma. This Krsna consciousness movement is meant for development of spiritual dharma. Material dharma consists of religiosity, economic development, sense gratification and liberation, but spiritual dharma is jivasya tattva-jijnasa nartho yas ceha karmabhih. This means that one should try to understand Krsna, the Absolute Truth. This dharma is eternal dharma because Krsna is eternal and we are also eternal. In the Eleventh and Fifteenth Chapters of Bhagavad-gita, Krsna is described as sanatana, eternal, and in the Eighth Chapter His spiritual world is also described as sanatana. Sanatana-dharma refers to the eternal engagement of the living entity in the service of the Supreme Eternal. Nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam: Krsna is the Supreme Eternal, the Supreme Living Being, the Supreme Lord, and the Supreme Dharma. Our troubles in this material world result from our attempt to become one with the Supreme. To gain relief from this suffering, we are instructed in this way:

sarva-dharman parityajya
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah

"Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear."(Bg. 18.66)

We need only understand this last teaching of Lord Krsna. That is called saranagati, surrender. That is the ultimate goal of bhakti. Those who are engaged in mental speculation will take a long time to come to this point. The real mahatmas, great souls, fully engage in devotional service.

mahatmanas tu mam partha
daivim prakrtim asritah
bhajanty ananya-manaso
jnatva bhutadim avyayam

"O son of Prtha, those who are not deluded, the great souls, are under the protection of the divine nature. They are fully engaged in devotional service because they know Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, original and inexhaustible." (Bg. 9.13)

We accept the ultimate dharma as surrender unto Krsna. This surrendering process is meant not for less intelligent people, but for the most intelligent because Krsna says that after many births one who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Him, knowing Him to be the cause of all causes and all that is. (Bg. 7.19). If this is the ultimate goal of life, then why not surrender immediately? Why should we wait any longer? This is the process of this Krsna consciousness movement.

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