HARE KRSNA HARE KRSNA KRSNA KRSNA HARE HARE
Once you've heard it , you'll never forget it. You may not know what the words mean—nevertheless there's something captivation about the Hare Krsna chant. Is it the catchy tune, or the fascinating way in which the words are repeated and reversed ? People who chant Hare Krsna say both contribute to its appeal. But they know that the secret of the chant's attraction is the quality of the sound itself.
Anyone can take three words and make a song out of them, combining them in a clever way. But can that concoction be meditated on all day and night? Would the chanters of those words report, as do the chanters of Hare Krsna, that the practice is freeing them from anxiety, opening up their minds to a liberated view of themselves, and investing them with blissfulness? No, of course not. The invented litany would only drive its creators to distraction
But the sound of Hare Krsna is so enriching that a whole culture has been founded on it. Furthermore, the people who chant Hare Krsna are developing good character, gaining knowledge of both the material and spiritual worlds, and helping other people to be free from pain. There is, then, a special quality to the sound of Hare Krsna. What is it ?
The words Hare, Krsna and Rama have a special quality because they are seeds of pure spiritual consciousness. They are not a product of an earthbound language changing through the centuries. They are names of God, a ceaselessly energetic as God Himself. When you pronounce these sounds, you are propelled into your eternal position as a particle of spiritual energy, a person living in a transcendental nature. Hare Krsna reveals to you the person you really are.
Read more about Krsna consciousness in this issue of BACK TO GODHEAD.
Communism can't work the way Karl Max outlined in his famous Manifesto. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains why Krsna, not the state, must be the center of a truly perfect and classless society.
Three years ago His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada held a series of conversations with his personal secretary, Syamasundara dasa. The subject was Western philosophy, and their talks ranged over the vast array of thought which 2000 years has produced. Srila Prabhupada pointed out the points of value—and the inevitable defects—in the philosophies of Plato, Schopenhauer, Hegel, Kant, Darwin and many others. Part of the forthcoming book, the following excerpt on Karl Marx explains how spiritual communism is the true perfection of society.
Syamasundara: Karl Marx contended that philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point is to change it. His philosophy is often called "dialectical materialism" because it comes from the dialectic of George Hegel—thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. When applied to society, his philosophy is known as communism. His idea is that for many generations, the bourgeoisie (the property owners), have competed with the proletariat (the working class), and this conflict will terminate in the communist society. In other words, the workers will overthrow the capitalistic class and establish a so-called dictatorship of the proletariat, which will finally become a classless society.
Prabhupada: But how is a classless society possible? Men naturally fall into different classes. Your nature is different from mine, so how can we artificially be brought to the same level? .
Syamasundara: His idea is that human nature, or ideas, are molded by the means of production. Therefore everyone can be trained to participate in the classless society.
Prabhupada: Then training is required?
Prabhupada: And what will be the center of training for this classless society? What will be the motto?
Syamasundara: The motto is "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." The idea is that everyone would contribute something, and everyone would get what he needed.
Prabhupada: But everyone's contribution is different. A scientific man contributes something, and a philosopher contributes something else. The cow contributes milk, and the dog contributes service as a watchdog. Even the trees, the birds, the beasts—everyone—is contributing something. So, by nature a reciprocal arrangement is already there among social classes. How can there be a classless society?
Syamasundara: Well, Marx's idea is that the means of production will be owned in common. No one would have an advantage over anyone else, and thus one person could not exploit another. Marx is thinking in terms of profit.
Prabhupada: First we must know what profit actually is. For example, the American hippies already had "profit." They were from the best homes, their fathers were rich—they had everything. Yet they were not satisfied; they rejected it. No, this idea of a classless society based on profit-sharing is imperfect. Besides, the Communists have not created a classless society. We have seen in Moscow how a poor woman will wash the streets while her boss sits comfortably in his car. So where is the classless society? As long as society is maintained, there must be some higher and lower classification. But if the central point of society is one, then whether one works in a lower or a higher position, he doesn't care. For example, our body has different parts—the head, the legs, the hands—but everything works for the stomach.
Syamasundara: Actually, the Russians supposedly have the same idea: they claim the common worker is just as glorious as the top scientist or manager.
Prabhupada: But in Moscow we have seen that not everyone is satisfied. One boy who came to us was very unhappy because in Russia young boys are not allowed to go out at night.
Syamasundara: The Russian authorities would say that he has an improper understanding of Marxist philosophy.
Prabhupada: That "improper understanding" is inevitable. They will never be able to create a classless society because, as I have already explained, everyone's mentality is different.
Syamasundara: Marx says that if everyone is engaged according to his abilities in a certain type of production, and everyone works for the central interest, then everyone's ideas will become uniform.
Prabhupada: Therefore we must find out the real central interest. In our International Society for Krishna Consciousness, everyone has a central interest in Krsna. Therefore one person is speaking, another person is typing, another is going to the press or washing the dishes, and no one is grudging, because they are all convinced they are serving Krsna.
Syamasundara: Marx's idea is that the center is the state.
Prabhupada: But the state cannot be perfect. If the Russian state is perfect, then why was Khrushchev driven from power? He was elected premier. Why was he driven from power?
Syamasundara: Because he was not fulfilling the aims of the people.
Prabhupada: Well, then, what is the guarantee the next premier will do that? There is no guarantee. The same thing will happen again and again. Because the center, Khrushchev, was imperfect, people begrudged their labor. The same thing is going on in non-Communist countries as well. The government is changed, the prime minister is deposed, the president is impeached. So what is the real difference between Russian Communism and other political systems? What is happening in other countries is also happening in Russia, only they call it by a different name. When we talked with Professor Kotofsky of Moscow University, we told him he had to surrender: either he must surrender to Krsna, or to Lenin, but he must surrender. He was taken aback at this.
Syamasundara: From studying history, Marx concluded that the characteristics of culture, the social structure, and even the thoughts of the people are determined by the means of economic production.
Prabhupada: How does he account for all the social disruption in countries like America, which is so advanced in economic production?
Syamasundara: He says that capitalism is a decadent form of economic production because it relies on the exploitation of one class by another.
Prabhupada: But there is exploitation in the Communist countries also. Khrushchev was driven out of power because he was exploiting his position. He was giving big government posts to his son and son-in-law.
Syamasundara: He was deviating from the doctrine.
Prabhupada: But since any leader can deviate, how will perfection come? First the person in the center must be perfect, then his dictations will be correct. Otherwise, if the leaders are all imperfect men, what is the use of changing this or that? The corruption will continue.
Syamasundara: Presumably the perfect leader would be the one who practiced Marx's philosophy without deviation.
Prabhupada: But Marx's philosophy is also imperfect! His proposal for a classless society is unworkable. There must be one class of men to administer the government and one class of men to sweep the streets. How can there be a classless society? Why should a sweeper be satisfied seeing someone else in the administrative post? He will think, "He is forcing me to work as a sweeper in the street while he sits comfortably in a chair." In our International Society, I am also holding the superior post: I am sitting in a chair, and you are offering me garlands and the best food. Why? Because you see a perfect man whom you can follow. That mentality must be there. Everyone in the society must be able to say, "Yes, here is a perfect man. Let him sit in a chair, and let us all bow down and work like menials." Where is that perfect man in the Communist countries?
Syamasundara: The Russians claim that Lenin is a perfect man.
Prabhupada: Lenin? But no one is following Lenin. Lenin's only perfection was that he overthrew the Czar's government. What other perfection has he shown? The people are not happy simply reading Lenin's books. I studied the people in Moscow. They are unhappy. The government cannot force them to be happy artificially. Unless there is a perfect, ideal man in the center, there cannot possibly be a classless society.
Syamasundara: Perhaps they see the workers and the managers in the same way that we do—in the absolute sense. Since everyone is serving the state, the sweeper is as good as the administrator.
Prabhupada: But unless the state gives perfect satisfaction to the people, there will always be distinctions between higher and lower classes. In the Russian state, that sense of perfection in the center is lacking.
Syamasundara: Their goal is the production of material goods for the enhancement of human well-being.
Prabhupada: That is useless! Economic production in America has no comparison in the world, yet still people are dissatisfied. The young men are confused. It is nonsensical to think that simply by increasing production everyone will become satisfied. No one will be satisfied. Man is not meant simply for eating. He has mental necessities, intellectual necessities, spiritual necessities. In India many people sit alone silently in the jungle and practice yoga. They do not require anything. How will increased production satisfy them? If someone were to say to them, "If you give up this yoga practice, I will give you two hundred bags of rice," they would laugh at the proposal. It is animalistic to think that simply by increasing production everyone will become satisfied. Real happiness does not depend on either production or starvation, but upon peace of mind. For example, if a child is crying, but the mother does not know why, the child will not stop simply by giving him some milk. Sometimes this actually happens: the mother cannot understand why her child is crying, and though she is giving him her breast, he continues to cry. Similarly, dissatisfaction in human society is not caused solely by low economic production. That is nonsense. There are many causes of dissatisfaction. The practical example is America, where there is sufficient production of everything, yet the young men are becoming hippies. They are dissatisfied, confused. No, simply by increasing economic production people will not become satisfied. Marx's knowledge is insufficient. Perhaps because he came from a country where people were starving, he had that idea.
Syamasundara: Yes, now we've seen that production of material goods alone will not make people happy.
Prabhupada: Because they do not know that real happiness comes from spiritual understanding. That understanding is given in the Bhagavad-gita:
God is the supreme enjoyer, and He is the proprietor of everything. We are not actually enjoyers; we are all workers. These two things must be there: an enjoyer and a worker. For example, in our body the stomach is the enjoyer, and all other parts of the body are workers. So this system is natural: there must always be someone who is the enjoyer, and someone who is the worker. It is present in the capitalist system also. In Russia there is always conflict between the managers and the workers. The workers say, "If this is a classless society, why is that man sitting comfortably and ordering us to work?" The Russians have not been able to avoid this dilemma, and it cannot be avoided. There must be one class of men who are the directors or enjoyers, and another class of men who are the workers. Therefore the only way to have a truly classless society is to find that method by which both the managers and the workers will feel equal happiness. For example, if the stomach is hungry and the eyes see some food, immediately the brain will say, "O legs, please go there!" and "Hand, pick it up," and "Now, please put it into the mouth." Immediately the food goes into the stomach, and as soon as the stomach is satisfied, the eyes are satisfied, the legs are satisfied, and the hand is satisfied.
Syamasundara: But Marx would use this as a perfect example of communism.
Prabhupada: But he has neglected to find out the real stomach
Syamasundara: His is the material stomach.
Prabhupada: But the material stomach is always hungry again; it can never be satisfied. In the Krsna consciousness movement we have the substance for feeding our brains, our minds, and our souls. Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadah. If the spiritual master is satisfied, then Krsna is satisfied, and if Krsna is satisfied, then everyone is satisfied. Therefore you are all trying to satisfy your spiritual master. Similarly, if the Communist countries can come up with a dictator, who, if satisfied, automatically gives satisfaction to all the people, then we will accept such a classless society. But this is impossible. A classless society is only possible when Krsna is in the center. For the satisfaction of Krsna, the intellectual can work in his own way, the administrator can work in his way, the merchant can work in his way, and the laborer can work in his way. This is truly a classless society.
Syamasundara: How is this different from the Communist country, where all sorts of men contribute for the same central purpose, which is the state?
Prabhupada: The difference is that if the state is not perfect, no one will willingly contribute to it. They may be forced to contribute, but they will not voluntarily contribute unless there is a perfect state in the center. For example, the hands, legs and brain are working in perfect harmony for the satisfaction of the stomach. Why? Because they know without a doubt that by satisfying the stomach they will all share the energy and also be satisfied. Therefore, unless the people have this kind of perfect faith in the leader of the country, there is no possibility of a classless society.
Syamasundara: The Communists theorize that if the worker contributes to the central fund, he will get satisfaction in return.
Prabhupada: Yes, but if he sees imperfection in the center, he will not work enthusiastically because he will have no faith that he will get full satisfaction. That perfection of the state will never be there, and therefore the workers will always remain dissatisfied.
Syamasundara: The propangandists play upon this dissatisfaction and tell the people that foreigners are causing it.
Prabhupada: But if the people were truly satisfied, they could not be influenced by outsiders. If you are satisfied that your spiritual master is perfect—that he is guiding you nicely—will you be influenced by outsiders?
Prabhupada: Because the Communist state will never be perfect, there is no possibility of a classless society.
Syamasundara: Marx examines history and sees that in Greek times, in Roman times, and in the middle ages slaves were always required for production.
Prabhupada: The Russians are also creating slaves—the working class. Joseph Stalin stayed in power simply by killing all his enemies. He killed so many men that he is recorded in history as the greatest criminal. He was certainly imperfect, yet he held the position of dictator, and the people were forced to obey him.
Syamasundara: His followers have denounced him.
Prabhupada: That's all well and good, but his followers should also be denounced. The point is that in any society, there must be a leader, there must be directors, and there must be workers, but everyone should be so satisfied that they forget the difference.
Syamasundara: No envy.
Prabhupada: Ah, no envy. But that perfection is not possible in the material world. Therefore Marx's theories are useless.
Syamasundara: But on the other hand, the capitalists also make slaves of their workers.
Prabhupada: Wherever there is materialistic activity, there must be imperfection. But if they make Krsna the center, then all problems will be resolved.
Syamasundara: Are you saying that any system of organizing the means of production is bound to be full of exploitation?
Prabhupada: Yes, certainly, certainly! The materialistic mentality means exploitation.
Syamasundara: Then what is the solution?
Prabhupada: Krsna consciousness!
Syamasundara: How is that?
Prabhupada: Just make Krsna the center and work for Him. Then everyone will be satisfied. As it is stated in the Fourth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam:
yatha taror mula-nisecanena
If you simply pour water on the root of a tree, all the branches, twigs, leaves, and flowers will be nourished. Similarly, everyone can be satisfied simply by acyutejya. Acutya means Krsna, and ijya means worship. So this is the formula for a classless society: make Krsna (God) the center and do everything for Him. There are no classes in our International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Now you are writing philosophy, but if I want you to wash dishes, you will do so immediately because you know that whatever you do, you are working for Krsna and for your spiritual master. In the material world different kinds of work have different values, but in Krsna consciousness everything is done on the absolute platform. Whether you wash dishes or write books or worship the Deity, the value is the same because you are serving Krsna. That is a classless society. Actually, the perfect classless society is Vrndavana. In Vrndavana, some are cowherd boys, some are cows, some are trees, some are fathers, some are mothers, but the center is Krsna, and everyone is satisfied simply by loving Him. When all people become Krsna conscious and they understand how to love Him, then there will be a classless society. Otherwise it is not possible.
(To be continued)
by Visakha-devi dasi
Who Am I?
Am I my head or my face ? No, it is my face. Am I my chest ? No, it is my chest. Am I my arm or my hand ? Am I my leg ? No, it is my leg. All the parts of my body—indeed, my entire body—is mine. But who am I, the owner of the body ?
IF WE PERFORM THE EXPERIMENT as above, we can immediately come to the very first understanding in spiritual life: we are not our bodies; rather we are conscious of them. Under the influence of illusion, however, we falsely identify ourselves with our bodies and think we belong to a certain family, nation, race, religion, political party, and so on. The goal of human life is to awaken from this illusion and become reinstated in our real identities as fully conscious spiritual beings.
Our daily lives can be compared to acting in a play. We have become so absorbed with our temporary roles in this play that we have completely forgotten our true offstage identities. Someone is taking the part of our parent, another person is acting as our lover, another as our friend or foe, but actually it is all simply a performance; our real identities are something else. Our very bodies are nothing more than costumes, but out of illusion we identify ourselves with them and try to relate to others on the basis of these costumes. The resulting relationships are not false; they are real, but they are temporary and therefore illusory. When the curtain falls on our play—when death comes—all the different relationships we have cultivated during our lives will be finished, and our real self, an individually conscious spirit soul, will be transferred to a new situation.
The Nature of Consciousness.
Modern scientists have touched upon the properties of the spirit soul in their research into anti-material particles. A fundamental assumption of their theory is that there may exist another world, an anti-material world, composed of anti-particles. They conjecture that this anti-material world might consist of atomic and sub-atomic particles spinning in reverse orbits to those of the world we know.
But if we really want to find out about the nature of consciousness and its source, the anti-material spirit soul, we must go beyond the tentative gropings of mundane scientists. We must search out the revealed knowledge contained in the Vedas, the most ancient and widely recognized source of transcendental science in the world. Since the soul is imperceptible by our gross senses, the authoritative Vedic wisdom is the only means for understanding it. We must accept many things solely on the basis of superior authority. For example, if I want to know who my father is, I must accept the authority of my mother. I cannot experimentally find out his identity; I must simply use intelligent discrimination to find the right source of knowledge. Similarly, to understand the science of the soul, we must turn to the Vedic literature, and specifically to the Bhagavad-gita. Bhagavad-gita contains the essence of the Vedas, for it is spoken by Lord Sri Krsna, the Supreme All-knowing Personality of Godhead.
In the Bhagavad-gita (13.34), Lord Krsna says, "As the sun, situated in one place, illuminates the entire universe, so a small particle of spirit [the soul situated within the heart] illuminates the entire body with consciousness." Just as sunshine proves the sun is present in the sky, consciousness proves the soul is present in the body. When the soul leaves the body, consciousness disappears and the body dies. Thus consciousness is the symptom of the soul's presence in the body.
The Anti-material World
The material scientists misconceive the soul, a particle of anti-matter, to be only another variety of material energy. But real anti-matter must be anti-material, or spiritual. If matter is subject to annihilation, then anti-matter must be indestructible. Lord Krsna explains this quality of the soul in the following excerpts from the Bhagavad-gita (2.18, 16, 20):
"An immeasurable particle of anti-material energy is engaged within the material body (which includes the mind and intelligence). The material body is destructible, and as such it is changeable and temporary, as is the material world. But the anti-material force is indestructible and therefore permanent. For the anti-material particle, which is the vital force, there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does it ever cease to be. It is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. When the material body is annihilated, the anti-material particle is never affected." The Lord further explains how the soul transmigrates from one body to another. "The material body progressively changes from childhood to boyhood, from boyhood to youth, and from youth to old age, after which the anti-material particle leaves the old, unworkable body and enters another material body." (Bg. 2.13)
Thus, with some reflection we can understand a few of the characteristics of the material and the anti-material energies. The material energy is unconscious, lifeless, and temporary, being subject to the influence of time. Referred to in the Bhagavad-gita as the inferior or external energy, the material energy has eight divisions: earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and false ego. All mundane knowledge is limited to these eight material principles. On the other hand, the anti-material energy stands in opposition to all the material qualities. The anti-material particle of energy is the living force, described in the Bhagavad-gita as the superior or internal energy. The material body is animated by this living force, and when it is separated from the body, the body becomes useless and dies. The nature of the anti-material particle (the soul) is sat-cid-ananda—eternal, full of knowledge, and blissful—and as such it is undoubtedly superior to the material energy.
Uncovering Our Real Identity
Because we belong to the superior, spiritual energy, we cannot understand our true identity or achieve eternal happiness in full knowledge if we continue to act on the false platform of the inferior, material energy. But if all our relationships in this material world are temporary and illusory, then with whom can we establish a meaningful and lasting relationship? Lord Krsna answers this question in the Bhagavad-gita (9.17-18); "I am the father of this universe, the mother .. .and the most dear friend." Thus we do not have to give up personal relationships, but rather re-establish our real, eternal relationship with our most dear friend, Lord Sri Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The Lord explains elsewhere in the Bhagavad-gita how this material world is actually a perverted reflection of the spiritual world: everything in this material world is there in Lord Krsna's abode, but in its ideal, perfect form, for that is the world of anti-matter or spirit. In the eternal kingdom of God, there are trees, animals, flowers, people and so on, but unlike the material world, they all exist in intimate loving relationships with Krsna.
Each of us has a place in the spiritual world, for that is our eternal home. As spiritual beings, we are not meant for this temporary world of matter. We are like a fish out of water: Just as a fish can never be happy with any number of comforts outside of the water, we can never be truly happy outside of the spiritual atmosphere of Krsna's abode. If we persist in trying to find pleasure in this material world, only repeated frustration and suffering await us. But if we make it our only business to cultivate our eternal relationship with Krsna. we can gain re-entry into that transcendental realm of Vaikuntha, the world without anxiety, and attain a life of complete knowledge and endless bliss.
A brief look at the worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
San Francisco Mayor Proclaims "Ratha-Yatra Day"
Jagannatha Car Festival Huge Success Worldwide
In a proclamation issued June 23, 1975, Mayor Joseph L. Alioto established July 20 as "Ratha-Yatra Day" in San Francisco. Ratha-Yatra is a large festival sponsored in San Francisco and many other cities and countries by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. The proclamation from the mayor's office noted that "this event, held in India annually during the month of July, is known to be one of the oldest in the history of man." The Bay Area event has been observed for the past nine years and is modeled after the original celebration still held annually in the city of Jagannatha Puri, India.
Previewing the attractions, the mayor described "a two-day celebration in Golden Gate Park, highlighted by a parade with forty-five-foot-high Jagannatha carts and a free vegetarian feast." Jagannatha, like Krsna, is a name for God. The parade honors a pleasure ride He took thousands of years ago during His pastimes on earth. The entire festival is energized by continuous chanting of Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
The Ratha-Yatra festivals in San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, London and Melbourne—among other cities—were a big hit with the thousands who attended. In each festival, spectacular chariots forty or fifty feet high rolled along the parade route, pulled by devotees of Krsna and recruits from the crowd, who delighted in the work. The Germantown Courier described the cart in the Philadelphia parade: "Its towering canopy of red and yellow fabric, ornamented with silver swans, swayed gently. Diamond-shaped mirrors on the spokes of its seven-foot wheels splintered the light. A fringe of silk pennants fluttered from its upper deck, where little children leaned over to fling handfuls of flowers to the crowd."
Speaking to the huge gathering outside Philadelphia's Art Museum after the parade, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada described how the soul evolves through millions of species of life. Human life, he explained, should be used for spiritual awakening His Divine Grace also took part in the San Francisco festival one week later. At Lindley Meadow in Golden Gate Park, he carefully explained the meaning of the words of the Hare Krsna chant and requested those present to "cooperate with God." The theme of cooperation played a part in an introductory speech by California State Senator Milton Marks, and Srila Prabhupada expanded on it.
In each city, Ratha-Yatra's finale was a massive feast of vegetarian food which had been offered to Lord Krsna. The largest crowd was in San Francisco, where festival organizers brought over five tons of food for the banquet. That was enough to satisfy even late-comers like a young priest who said, "I've got five hundred kids with me. Can you feed them all?" The answer was yes—and they all had seconds.
District Judge Rules Public Chanting Legal
U.S. District Judge Alfred L. Luongo recently approved a consent decree legalizing the public activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. The Philadelphia Bulletin reported:
"Devotees of the Krishna Consciousness Society can dance and chant on the highways and byways without interference by Philadelphia police. And they can preach from religious literature and distribute sanctified food and flowers to people in public areas, transportation terminals, and Philadelphia International Airport."
The ruling settled a two-month conflict between devotees and local municipal officials. Arrests of many ISKCON members for alleged violations of city ordinances had provoked the normally peaceful devotees to bring a lawsuit against the City of Philadelphia. They also sought an injunction to stop police from harassing them in violation of their First Amendment right to practice their public activities, called sankirtana.
As a result, the police are now restrained from making arrests on the basis of "unconventional appearance, manner, life-style or religious activities," the decree stated. The judge also ordered all pending litigation discontinued and said that all arrest records must be destroyed.
The Bulletin noted that "the decree recognizes the Krishna Society as an authentic religion." Similar decisions reached in dozens of cities in the United States and other countries indicate a growing appreciation of the authenticity of the Krsna consciousness movement.
I have a question about Bhagavad-gita As It Is. Does the immortality of the soul justify the act of killing? Arjuna feels himself unable to kill, but Krsna sanctions Arjuna's fighting by saying that the soul doesn't perish with the body (Bg. 2.17-18). Is this ethical?
Jay Kirsch, Plainview, New York
Killing and war are never advocated by Krsna. Indeed, Bhagavad-gita As It Is advocates nonviolence in a number of places (Bg. 10.4-5, 13.8, 16.1-3). Nonviolence (ahimsa) is one of the most important sub-religious principles and is practiced naturally by all devotees of the Lord. But, according to the Gita, even higher than nonviolence is direct obedience to the will of God.
Krsna did not give His order whimsically, as is done in today's wars, which are brought about by the political desires of the leaders. An ordinary leader cannot kill and claim he has God's sanction. However, in the Gita Lord Sri Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is personally instructing Arjuna to kill. It must be understood that Krsna is God Himself, not an ordinary man.
If we do not accept Krsrsa's supreme position, then we cannot understand anything about Bhagavad-gita. Lord Sri Krsna is completely transcendental and cannot be judged by any conditioned souls within the material world. Nevertheless there are good reasons for His ordering Ayuna to kill.
First, Krsna says that for the organization of human society there must be four divisions, and that one of these is the ksatriya or warrior class. Ksatriya means one who gives protection to the innocent. Krsna doesn't advocate violence, but if a criminal becomes violent, then he has to be punished by violence. That punishing is the business of the ksatriya.
Next, the Vedic scripture Manu-samhita describes five kinds of criminals who can be punished by violence—(1) one who kidnaps your wife, (2) one who attacks you with a lethal weapon, (3) one who sets fire to your home, (4) one who tries to take your land, and (5) one who tries to give you poison. If someone attacks me, shall I be non violent? In the case of personal attack, defensive violence is natural. Violence is necessary to stop the unnecessary attack of an immoral aggressor.
Also, in the specific case of Krsna and Arjuna, those opposed to them were bent on war. They were a political clique who had committed many atrocities against Krsna's devotees—in fact, they had fulfilled all the five qualifications of punishable criminals as listed above. Even after this, Krsna tried to negotiate peace with them, but they were determined to fight. Krsna and Arjuna fought only in defense. They cannot be blamed for fighting back when they were attacked. To refrain from fighting at such a time is artificial nonviolence. It is cowardly, especially for ksatriyas.
In addition, the material world is relative. The very word "nonviolence" presumes the existence of violence. Even though you are nonviolent, others are violent. So you may have to be violent to protect innocent members of society.
Finally, there will always be war in the material world because war is a natural reaction to sinful activity. It cannot be stopped by a material adjustment, any more than a flood or an earthquake can be stopped.
The material world is characterized by sinful activity, which brings about war and other miseries. We can be free from sinful activity only by following the instructions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as Arjuna did. By developing devotion to the Supreme Lord we can be transferred to the spiritual world and not have to come back again to this place of miseries. We are meant to live in the spiritual world. That is the sum and substance of the Cita's teaching that the soul is immortal. On this basis, Krsna rightly expresses the supreme path of peace and morality for all living beings.
Satsvarupa dasa Gosvami Senior Editor—BTG
by His Holiness Satsvarupa dasa Gosvami
CERTAIN PSYCHOLOGISTS and folklorists imagine that the womb was a very nice place—a comfortable, warm home where food .and shelter were provided without our effort. Some even say that throughout our adult lives, we unconsciously desire to return to that protection and security, "floating undisturbed in the warm, dark, quiet world of unparalleled intimacy with the beloved mother." By the scientific method of hearing from Vedic literature, however, we get the actual account of a human being's conception, his pre-natal condition, and his birth. Contrary to what our psychologists and folklorists have imagined, life in the womb is among the most painful and miserable of human experiences.
The Srimad-Bhagavatam, a 5,000-year-old spiritual classic containing the essence of Vedic knowledge, gives the following vivid description of the living entity's experience from the point of conception to the time of birth: "Under the supervision of the Supreme Lord (Sri Krsna) and according to the results of his work, the living entity, the soul, is made to enter the womb of a woman through the particle of a man's semina to assume a particular kind of body. On the first night, the semina and ovum mix, and on the fifth night the mixture ferments into a bubble. On the tenth night it develops into a form like a plum, and after that it gradually turns into a lump of flesh. In the course of a month, a head is formed, and at the end of two months, hands, feet and other limbs take shape. By the end of three months, the nails, fingers, toes, body hair, bones and skin appear, as do the organ of generation and the other apertures in the body, namely, the eyes, nostrils, ears, mouth and anus. Within four months from the date of conception, the seven essential ingredients of the body (lymph, blood, flesh, fat, bone, marrow and semina) come into existence. At the end of five months, hunger and thirst make themselves felt, and at the end of six months the fetus begins to move in the abdomen—on the right side if the child is a male and on the left side if female."
The actual experience of the fetus, however, cannot be known by mere medical observation. For this information we must go to the Vedic scriptures, which give us direct knowledge of events beyond our normal experience. The Bhagavatam continues, "Deriving its nutrition from the food and drink taken by the mother, the fetus grows and remains in that abominable residence of stool and urine, which is a breeding place for all kinds of worms. Bitten again and again all over his body by these hungry worms in the abdomen itself, the child suffers terrible agony because of his tenderness. He thus becomes unconscious moment after moment. When the mother eats bitter, pungent foods or food that is too salty or too sour, the body of the child incessantly suffers pains that are almost intolerable. Placed within the amnion and covered outside by the intestines, the child remains lying on the side of the abdomen, his head turned toward his belly and his back and neck arched like a bow." An adult would be unable to endure such a difficult confinement. The child's pain is beyond our conception, but because his consciousness is yet undeveloped, he is able to tolerate it.
As adults, we have forgotten all this suffering and absorbed ourselves in trying to become happy in material life. Life in the womb may seem remote; no one has ever .told us before about its actual nature, and it has not concerned us. Writing on this topic, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada comments, "It is an unfortunate civilization in which these matters are not plainly discussed to make people understand the precarious condition of material existence."
Astounding Remembrance. At the end of seven months in the womb, the child remains just like a bird in a cage unable to move freely and suffering without relief. At that time, if the soul is fortunate, he gains one astounding facility: he can remember all the troubles of his past one hundred lives. The vision of his wasted attempts to be happy makes him grieve wretchedly. While in the womb, the living being realizes that he has unnecessarily entered the material world. In this frightful condition, he prays with folded hands, appealing to the Lord, who has put him there.
Sometimes a woman in labor promises herself that she will never again become pregnant and suffer such severe pain. Or a man on the operating table may promise himself that he will act in such a way as to never again become diseased and undergo surgery. Similarly, the child, deeply repentant, prays to the Lord that he will never again commit sinful activities and be forced into another womb. He prays as follows: "I take shelter of the lotus feet of Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who appears in His various eternal forms. I, the pure soul, appearing now to be bound by my activities, am lying in the womb of my mother by the arrangement of the Lord's illusory energy. I offer my respectful obeisances unto Him, who is also here with me, but who is unaffected and changeless. He is unlimited, but He is perceived in the repentant heart."
The child in the womb, praying out of bewilderment and repentance, realizes he is not independent or supreme. He seeks shelter from the Supreme Lord, perceiving that the Lord in his heart is the supreme master and that he is subordinate. By the grace of God, the child in the womb can understand his actual relationship with the Supreme Lord, and he realizes that he has been reduced to his abominable condition because of his forgetfulness of God. He wants to get out, but he understands that he can do so only by the mercy of the Supreme Lord, and thus he asks for the Lord's blessings.
After nine months, however, the child in the womb makes an extraordinary request to the Lord: "Although I am living in a terrible condition, still I do not wish to depart from my mother's abdomen to fall again into the blind well of materialistic life." The child foresees that the trauma of birth will destroy his clear knowledge of the miseries of material life and his remembrance of Lord Krsna. If he forgets the ordeal in the womb and again assumes the false position of an enjoyer, it would be better for him never to be born. Although bitten and burned and surrounded by blood and urine, at least in the womb he is able to remember Krsna. The thought of his future miseries makes him reluctant to take birth, but of course he cannot possibly live in the womb much longer. While he thus extols the Lord, the wind that helps parturition propels him forth with his face turned downward. Pushed down suddenly by the wind, the child comes out with great trouble, breathless and deprived of his memory due to severe agony. He cries piteously, having lost his superior knowledge in the ordeal of birth.
We should not take lightly this account of life in the womb. One may say, "I cannot remember such pain in the womb. I am not suffering now, so why worry? Besides, I don't care." According to this way of thinking, ignorance is bliss. But it is only a temporary illusion of bliss. Although we now have no idea of the suffering in the womb, by reading such scriptures as the Srimad-Bhagavatam and the Bhagavad-gita, we can understand the terrible condition there and learn how to act in such a way that we will not suffer again. We learn from the Bhagavad-gita that, as individual souls, we are never created, but are eternal, fragmental parts of the Supreme Lord. By misusing our small independence, we desire to be supreme and are thus cast into the material world. Then we wander, according to our material desires, from body to body in each of the different species, until we finally evolve to the human form of life. All this happens under the supervision of the Supreme Lord. As Sri Krsna states in the Bhagavad-gita (18.61), "I am seated in everyone's heart, and I direct the wanderings of all living beings." If, upon reaching the human form of life, we do not utilize the opportunity for self-realization, we will again be forced to enter a womb and undergo repeated tortures there. We should therefore thoughtfully reflect, "What can we do to avoid such miseries?"
Repeated acceptance of material life is due to forgetting our true identity as eternal loving servants of the Supreme Lord, Krsna. Therefore reviving our relationship with Krsna is crucial because that is the only means for the soul to escape the cycle of repeated birth and death. The primary method for doing this is chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, an incarnation of Krsna who appeared five hundred years ago in Bengal, India, recommended that everyone take up this Great Chant for Deliverance to awaken his dormant Krsna consciousness. We should also follow the instructions given by Lord Krsna in Bhagavad-gita (9.27-28): "All that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me. In this way you will be freed from all reactions to good and evil deeds, and by this principle of renunication, you will be liberated and come to Me." By chanting Hare Krsna and acting in this way, the conditioned soul cleanses his mind of the false notion that he can enjoy this material world separate from Krsna. He gradually becomes completely surrendered to the Supreme Lord, and at the end of life liberation from the miseries of repeated birth and death is assured. Krsna not only speaks the Bhagavad-gita for our guidance. He also manifests Himself internally as the Supersoul within our hearts and externally as the spiritual master to instruct us how to avoid the repeated miseries of material existence. If one is anxious to get out of the material entanglement, Krsna will direct him from within the heart how to approach a genuine spiritual master. By following the instructions of a spiritual master, one can perfect devotional service and be transferred to the spiritual world, which is completely free from birth and death.
We are all eternal spirit souls, but death and rebirth are great dangers for us as long as we remain in conditioned, material existence. We must pray to the Lord, as did the child in the womb, to realize our eternal relationship with Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But we should not wait until it is too late. Preparing for the next life is a proposal for thoughtful human beings, a proposal we are meant to act on by following spiritual authorities while we are still healthy in this lifetime.
Overruling the Supreme Court
According to the 1973 United States Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, only in the last twelve weeks of pregnancy does the growing fetus have a right to live despite the mother's wish to abort him. This decision supports the claim of those who favor abortion that killing a human embryo after a few weeks or months is not murder because , human life has not yet developed. They say that not until a full six months after conception does the fetus become "viable," or able to sustain itself outside the womb. Until that time, the embryo is supposedly nothing but a lump of flesh, and is therefore "abortable."
According to Vedic wisdom however, the right to life is determined by laws that even the Supreme Court cannot overrule. It is the law of karma, working under the direct supervision of the Supreme Lord, that determines when an individual spirit soul will be placed in a human womb. Thus to deny a spirit soul a human birth due him by the laws of karma is to defy the will of God in a most heinous fashion.
The Vedas tell us that anyone who prevents a spirit soul from entering the mother's womb by contraception, or who destroys a developing fetus, is subject to severe punishment after death. In the case of abortion, both the person performing the abortion and those sanctioning it are forced at the time of death to enter wombs where they themselves become victims of the same 'vicious act. Thus those who are anxious to enjoy sexual pleasure, yet wish to avoid the responsibility of having children, should soberly consider the severe consequences of contraception and abortion, which are grave transgressions of the laws of nature. Unlike the edicts of the Supreme Court, there is no escaping their strict enforcement.
By His Holiness Brahmananda Svami
From the beginning of time, man has yearned for the perfect home—a paradise, a Shangri-la, a Walden—where he could live eternally in peace and happiness. Such a place cannot be found anywhere in the material world, however, for the material world is by its very nature temporary and frustrating. To end our weary searching, we must go beyond this world of duality, beyond the boundaries of space and time, into the spiritual realm.
Vrndavana, India, is that sought-after eternal resting place because it is at Vrndavana that Lord Sri Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, descended to this planet five thousand years ago. The Lord's appearance and activities are not mundane; they are completely transcendental. Just as a king may travel with all his retinue, set up camp, and conduct his affairs of state in the same style as if he were in his palace, Lord Krsna brought with Him all His transcendental associates and paraphernalia and created on earth an exact replica of the spiritual world, known as Goloka Vrndavana. Because
Vrndavana is the eternal and entirely spiritual abode of the Lord, it is nondifferent from Him. At Vrndavana, one will find unlimited wealth, strength, fame, wisdom, beauty and renunciation—all the six opulences possessed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan Sri Krsna. Indeed Vrndavana is Krsna, and, to go there is to perceive God Himself.
As you enter the boundary of Vrndavana, you can feel that this place is somehow different. First you explore the forest. The cool, sandy earth feels like lotus dust beneath your feet as you walk amidst the different kinds of trees: the black-barked tamala, the medicinal nim, the great banyan and the adorable tulasi (Vrnda is a name of the tulasi tree, and vana means forest). Here the forests are like parks, their grasses carefully manicured by thousands of white cows. The slow-moving cows, with their wide-eyed children's stares, look like ancient sages silently meditating as they chew. Parrots and other multicolored birds decorate the trees, cascading pleasant songs into your ears, while peacocks in great abundance strut impressively and display their train of regal feathers. Vrndavana is bounded on three sides by the Yamuna River, whose waters are as pure as the primordial waters of creation. It is said that if one bathes in the Yamuna, all the sins of his millions of past lives are washed away. If you have even a little knowledge of Krsna, or even a slight attachment to Him, everything in Vrndavana reminds you of Him, and you find yourself feeling a kind of love for Him known as separation.
As you wander within the village of Vrndavana along the narrow, twisting, medieval streets, you come upon a series of temples made of heavy russet stone, which has been carved and filigreed into decorative lotus designs. As you enter one temple courtyard, you see Him: the Deity of Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in the form of pure black marble, standing on a silver throne within a protective cupola, His feet strewn with tulasi leaves. His body is bent attractively in three places, and He plays the flute, inviting you to take Him into your heart of hearts. Next to Him stands His inseparable consort, Srimati Radharani, immaculate and beautiful. Do not think these Deities to be mere stone. As Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita (7.24), "Unintelligent men, who know Me not, think that I have assumed this form and personality. Due to their small knowledge, they do not know My higher nature, which is changeless and supreme." Anyone can see Krsna in the Deity, but first he must purify his vision by hearing about the Lord from the lips of a pure devotee, and by chanting His glories. Lord Caitanya, an incarnation of Krsna who appeared in Bengal, India, five hundred years ago, especially recommended chanting and hearing the holy names: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This chanting churns up a very special ointment unavailable in any pharmacy. It is known as bhava, devotion. If you apply this ointment of bhava to your eyes, you can see the Deity as He really is—transcendental, alive, and worshipable.
Vrndavana has not always been a city of Deities and temples, however. Five hundred years ago, Vrndavana was simply open fields. At that time, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu personally went there to ascertain the holy sites where Lord Krsna had exhibited His transcendental pastimes. Soon afterward, Lord Caitanya sent to Vrndavana six of His foremost disciples, known as the Six Gosvamis. Their mission was to continue the work of determining the exact locations of Krsna's pastimes, to develop these sites, and to write authoritative books on the science of Krsna consciousness.
Vrndavana is the land of Krsna, and just as Krsna is supremely beautiful, so is His abode. According to mundane vision, however, Vrndavana appears to be an ordinary village. Therefore to really see Vrndavana in its full, glorious beauty, we must purify our vision by becoming Krsna conscious. The Six Gosvamis have shown the way. They not only led perfectly saintly Krsna conscious lives themselves, but they wrote hundreds of spiritual guidebooks based on the revealed Vedic scriptures. By their mercy the sincere seeker can achieve the highest boon of life—love of Krsna.
The teachings of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada are identical with those of the Six Gosvamis, for he follows in direct disciplic succession from them. Therefore by following his teachings, we can see Vrndavana as it really is. The Brahma-samhita, a poem written by Lord Brahma, the most exalted living being in this universe, describes the Vrndavana that the pure souls perceive:
"The transcendental land of Vrndavana is always spiritual. That spiritual land is populated by goddesses of fortune, who are known as gopis. These are all beloved of Krsna, and Krsna is the only lover of all those gopis. The trees of that land are kalpa-vrksa, wish-fulfilling trees, and one can have anything he wants from them. The land is made of touchstone and the water of nectar. In that supreme abode, all speech is song, all walking is dancing, and one's constant companion is the flute. Surabhi cows flood the land with milk, and everything is self-luminous, just like the sun in the material world. Since every moment there is spent in loving service to Krsna, there is no past, present or future." The human form of life is meant for understanding this transcendental land of Vrndavana. One who is intelligent should cultivate knowledge of Vrndavana, Lord Krsna's eternal domain, and reach that supreme abode even in this lifetime.
OVERLOOKING VANDAVANA TOWN, Madana-mohana temple awaits early-morning worshipers. A favorite place of pilgrimage, the temple was built in the sixteenth century by Sanatana Gosvami, a great Vaisnava saint, with the financial help of a wealthy salt merchant. When the merchant's barge ran aground in the nearby Yamuna River, a small cowherd boy directed him to seek help from Sanatana Gosvami. Sanatana advised him to pray to Lord Krsna, and when he did so, his barge loosened and drifted free. In gratitude, the merchant gave the profit from the subsequent sale to Sanatana, who spent it all to build the lovely temple.
An excerpt from Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Accompanied by the cowherd boys and Balarama, Krsna brought forward the cows and played on His flute throughout the forest of Vrndavana, which was full of flowers, vegetables, and pasturing grass. The Vrndavana forest was as sanctified as the clear mind of a devotee and was full of bees, flowers and fruits. There were chirping birds and clear lakes with waters that could relieve one of all fatigue. Sweet-flavored breezes blew always, refreshing the mind and body. Krsna, with His friends and Balarama, entered the forest and, seeing the favorable situation, enjoyed the atmosphere to the fullest extent. Krsna saw all the trees, overloaded with fruits and fresh twigs, coming down to touch the ground, as if welcoming Him by touching His lotus feet. He was very pleased by the behaviour of the trees, fruits and flowers, and He began to smile, realizing their desires.
Krsna then spoke to His elder brother Balarama as follows: " My dear brother, You are superior to all of us, and Your lotus feet are worshiped by the demigods. Just see how these tress, full with fruits, have bent down to worship Your lotus feet ! It appears that they are trying to get out of the darkness of being obliged to accept the form of trees. Actually, the trees born in the land of Vrndavana are not ordinary living entities. Having held the impersonal conception of God in their past lives, they are not put into this stationary condition of life. But now they have the opportunity of seeing You in Vrndavana, and they are praying for further advancement in spiritual life through your personal association. Generally, trees are living entities in the mode of darkness. The impersonalist philosophers are in that darkness, but they eradicate it by taking full advantage of Your presence. I think the drones that are buzzing all around You must have been Your devotees in their past lives. They cannot leave Your company because no one can be a better, more affectionate master than You. You are the supreme and original Personality of Godhead, and the drones are just trying to spread Your glories by chanting every moment. I think some of them must be great sages, devotees of Your Lordship, and they are disguising themselves in the form of drones because they are unable to give up Your company even for a moment. My dear brother, You are the Supreme worshipable Godhead. Just see how the peacocks are dancing before You in great ecstasy. The deer , whose behaviour is just like the gopis [young cowherd girls], are welcoming You with the same affection. And the cuckoos who are residing in this forest are receiving You with great joy because they consider that Your appearance in their home is so auspicious. Even though they are trees and animals, these residents of Vrndavana are glorifying You. They are prepared to welcome You to their best capacity, as is the practice of great souls in receiving another great soul at home. As for the land, it is so pious and fortunate that the footprints of Your lotus feet are marking its body.
"It is quite natural for these Vrndavana inhabitants to thus receive a great personality like You. The herbs, creepers and plants are also so fortunate to touch Your lotus feet. And by Your touching the twigs with Your hands, these small plants are also made glorious. As for the hills and the rivers, they too are now glorious because You are glancing at them. Above all, the damsels of Vraja, the gopis, attracted by Your beauty, are the most glorious, because You embrace them with Your strong arms."
In this way, both Lord Krsna and Balarama began to enjoy the residents of Vrndavana to their full satisfaction, along with the calves and cows on the bank of the Yamuna. In some places both Krsna and Balarama were accompanied by Their friends. The boys were singing, imitating the humming sound of the drones and accompanying Krsna and Balarama, who were garlanded with forest flowers. While walking, the boys sometimes imitated the quacking sound of the swans in the lakes, or when they saw the peacocks dancing, they imitated them before Krsna. Krsna also moved His neck, imitating the dancing and making His friends laugh.
The cows taken care of by Krsna had different names, and Krsna would call them with love. After hearing Krsna calling, the cows would immediately respond by mooing, and the boys would enjoy this exchange to their hearts' content. They would all imitate the sound vibrations made by the different kinds of birds, especially the cakoras, peacocks, cuckoos and bharadvajas. Sometimes, when they would see the weaker animals fleeing out of fear of the sounds of tigers and lions, the boys, along with Krsna and Balarama, would imitate the animals and run away with them. When they felt some fatigue, they would sit down, and Balarama would put His head on the lap of one of the boys just to take rest, and Krsna would immediately come and begin massaging the legs of Balarama. And sometimes He would take a palm fan and fan the body of Balarama, causing a pleasing breeze to relieve Him of His fatigue. Other boys would sometimes dance or sing while Balarama took rest, and sometimes they would wrestle amongst themselves or jump. When the boys were thus engaged, Krsna would immediately join them, and catching their hands, He would enjoy their company and laugh and praise their activities. When Krsna would feel tired, He would sometimes take shelter of the root of a big tree, or the lap of a cowherd boy, and lie down. When He would lie down with a boy or a root as His pillow, some of the boys would come and massage His legs, and some would fan His body with a fan made from leaves. Some of the more talented boys would sing in very sweet voices to please Him. Thus very soon His fatigue would go away. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, whose legs are tended by the goddess of fortune, shared Himself with the cowherd boys as one of them, expanding His internal potency to appear exactly like a village boy. But despite His appearing just like a village boy, there were occasions when He proved Himself to be the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Sometimes men pose themselves as the Supreme Personality of Godhead and cheat innocent people, but they can only cheat; they cannot exhibit the potency of God.
While Krsna was thus engaged in exhibiting His internal potency along with the supermost fortunate friends, there occurred another chance for Him to exhibit the superhuman powers of Godhead. His most intimate friends Sridama, Subala and Stokakrsna began to address Krsna and Balarama with great love and affection thus: "Dear Balarama, You are very powerful; Your arms are very strong. Dear Krsna, You are very expert in killing all kinds of disturbing demons. Will You kindly note that just near this place there is a big forest of the name Talavana. This forest is full of palm trees, and all the trees are filled with fruits. Some fruits are falling down, and some of them are very ripe, even in the trees. It is a very nice place, but because of a great demon, Dhenukasura, it is very difficult to go there. No one can reach the trees to collect the fruits. Dear Krsna and Balarama, this demon is present there in the form of an ass, and he is surrounded by similar demon friends who have assumed the same shape. All of them are very strong, so it is very difficult to approach this place. Dear brothers, You are the only persons who can kill such demons. Other than You, no one can go there for fear of being killed. Not even animals go there, and no birds are sleeping there; they have all left. One can only appreciate the sweet aroma that is coming from that place. It appears that up until now, no one has tasted the sweet fruits there, either on the trees or on the ground. Dear Krsna, to tell You frankly, we are very attracted by this sweet aroma. Dear Balarama, let us all go there and enjoy these fruits. The aroma of the fruits is now spread everywhere. Don't You smell it from here?"
When Balarama and Krsna were thus petitioned by Their smiling, intimate friends, They were inclined to please them, and They began to proceed toward the forest, surrounded by all Their friends.
Immediately upon entering the Talavana, Balarama began to yank the trees with His arms, exhibiting the strength of an elephant. Because of this Jerking, all the ripe fruits fell down on the ground. Upon hearing the sound of the falling fruits, the demon Dhenukasura, who was living there in the form of an ass, approached with great force, shaking the whole field so that all the trees moved as if there were an earthquake. The demon appeared first before Balarama and began to kick His chest with his hind legs. At first, Balarama did not say anything, but then, with great anger, the demon kicked Him again more vehemently. This time Balarama immediately caught hold of the legs of the ass with one hand and, wheeling him around, threw him into the treetops. While he was being wheeled around by Balarama, the demon lost his life. Balarama threw the demon into the biggest palm tree about, and the demon's body was so heavy that the palm tree fell upon other trees, and several fell down. It appeared as if a great hurricane had passed through the forest, and all the trees were falling down, one after another. This exhibition of strength is not astonishing because Balarama is the Personality of Godhead known as Ananta Sesanaga, who is holding all the planets on the hoods of His millions of heads. The whole cosmic manifestation is maintained by Him, exactly as two threads hold the weaving of a cloth.
After the demon was thrown into the trees, all the friends and associates of Dhenukasura immediately assembled and attacked Balarama and Krsna with great force. They were determined to retaliate and avenge the death of their friend. But Krsna and Balarama caught each of the asses by the hind legs and, exactly in the same way as before, wheeled them around. Thus They killed all of them by throwing them into the palm trees. Because of the dead bodies of the asses, there was a panoramic scene. It appeared as if clouds of various colors were assembled in the trees. Hearing of this great incident, the demigods from the higher planets showered flowers on Krsna and Balarama and beat their drums and offered devotional prayers.
A few days after the killing of Dhenukasura, people began to come into the Talavana forest to collect the fruits, and animals began to return without fear to feed on the nice grasses growing there. Just by chanting or hearing these transcendental activities and pastimes of the brothers Krsna and Balarama, one can amass pious activities.
When Krsna, Balarama and Their friends entered the village of Vrndavana, They played Their flutes, and the boys praised Their uncommon activities in the forest. Their faces were decorated with tilaka and smeared with the dust raised by the cows, and Krsna's head was decorated with a peacock feather Both He and Balarama played Their flutes, and the young gopis were joyous to see Krsna returning home. All the gopis in Vrndavana remained very morose on account of Krsna's absence. All day they were thinking of Krsna in the forest or of Him herding cows in the pasture. When they saw Krsna returning, all their anxieties were immediately relieved, and they looked at His face the way drones hover over the honey of the lotus flower. When Krsna entered the village, the young gopis smiled and laughed. Krsna, while playing the flute, enjoyed the beautiful smiling faces of the gopis.
Then Krsna and Balarama were immediately received by Their affectionate mothers, Yasoda and Rohini, and, according to the time's demands, they began to fulfill the desires of their affectionate sons. Simultaneously, the mothers rendered service and bestowed benediction upon their transcendental sons. They very nicely took care of their children by bathing and dressing Them. Krsna was dressed in yellowish garments, and Balarama was dressed in bluish garments, and They were given all sorts of ornaments and flower garlands. Being relieved of the fatigue of Their day's work in the pasturing ground, They looked refreshed and very beautiful.
They were given palatable dishes by Their mothers, and They pleasantly ate everything. After eating, They were seated nicely on clean bedding, and the mothers began to sing various songs of Their activities. As soon as They sat down on the bedding, They very quickly fell fast asleep. In this way, Krsna and Balarama used to enjoy Vrndavana life as cowherd boys.
The International Society for Krsna Consciousness (ISKCON) is a worldwide community of devotees practicing bhakti-yoga, the eternal science of loving service to God. The Society was founded in 1966 by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, a pure devotee of God representing an unbroken chain of spiritual masters originating with Lord Krsna Himself.
The following eight principles are the basis of the Krsna consciousness movement. We invite all our readers to consider them with an open mind and then visit one of the ISKCON centers to see how they are being applied in everyday life.
1. By sincerely cultivating a bona fide spiritual science, we can be free from anxiety and come to a state of pure, unending, blissful consciousness in this lifetime.
2. We are not our bodies but eternal, spirit souls, parts and parcels of God (Krsna). As such, we are all brothers, and Krsna is ultimately our common father.
3. Krsna is eternal, all-knowing, omnipresent, all-powerful, and all-attractive. He is the seed-giving father of all living beings, and He is the sustaining energy of the entire cosmic creation.
4. The Absolute Truth is contained in the Vedas, the oldest scriptures in the world. The essence of the Vedas is found in the Bhagavad-gita, a literal record of Krsna's words.
5. We should learn the Vedic knowledge from a genuine spiritual master-one who has no selfish motives and whose mind is firmly fixed on Krsna.
6. Before we eat, we should offer to the Lord the food that sustains us. ;Then Krsna becomes the offering and purifies us.
7. We should perform all our actions as offerings to Krsna and do nothing for our own sense gratification.
8. The recommended means for achieving the mature stage of love of God in this age of Kali, or quarrel, is to chant the holy names of the Lord. The easiest method for most people is to chant the Hare Krsna mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare