God has an unlimited variety of names. Some of them—like Jehovah, Adonai, Buddha and Allah—are familiar to us, while the names Krsna and Rama may be less so. However, whatever name of God we may accept, we are enjoined by all scriptures to chant it for spiritual purification.
Muhammed counseled, "Glorify the name of your Lord, the most high." (Koran 87.2) Saint Paul said, "Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10.13) Lord Buddha declared, "All who sincerely call upon my name will come to me after death, and I will take them to Paradise." (Vows of Amida Buddha 18) King David preached, "From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised." (Psalms 113.3) And the world's oldest scriptures, the Vedas of India, emphatically state, "Chant the holy name, chant the holy name, chant the holy name of the Lord. In this age of quarrel there is no other way, no other way, no other way to attain spiritual enlightenment." (Brhan-naradiya Purana)
The special design of the Hare Krsna chant makes it easy to repeat and pleasant to hear. Spoken or sung, by yourself or in a group, Hare Krsna invariably produces a joyful state of spiritual awareness—Krsna consciousness.
Find out more about Krsna in this issue of BACK TO GODHEAD.
Can Communism take the greed out of human nature? Karl Marx said "yes," but Srila Prabhupada explains that avarice will continue until people are spiritually satisfied.
The people are not happy simply reading Lenin's books. His Divine Grace said in last month's Back to Godhead. "Real happiness come from spiritual understanding." Concluding his critique of communism, Srila Prabhupada discusses the profit motive, human nature, and the Marxist misunderstanding of religion.
Syamasundara: Marx's definition of communism is "The common or public ownership of the means of production, and the abolition of private property." In our International Society for Krishna Consciousness, don't we have the same idea? We also say, "Nothing is mine." We have also abolished private property.
Prabhupada: While the communist says, "Nothing is mine," he thinks everything belongs to the state. The state, however, is simply an extended "mine." For example, if I am the head of a family, I might say, "I do not want anything for myself, but I want many things for my children." Mahatma Gandhi, who was sacrificing so much to drive the English out of India, was at the same time thinking, "I am a very good man; I am doing national work." Therefore, this so-called nationalism or so-called communism is simply extended selfishness. The quality remains the same. The real change occurs when we say, "Nothing belongs to me, everything belongs to God, Krsna, and therefore I should use everything in His service." That is factual.
Syamasundara: Marx says that the capitalists are parasites living at the cost of the workers.
Prabhupada: But the communists are also living at the cost of the workers: the managers are drawing big salaries, and the common workers are dissatisfied. Indeed, their godless society is becoming more and more troublesome. Unless everyone accepts God as the only enjoyer and himself simply as His servant, there will always be conflict. In the broad sense, there is no difference between the communists and the capitalists because God is not accepted as the supreme enjoyer and proprietor in either system. Actually, no property belongs to either the communists or the capitalists. Everything belongs to God.
Syamasundara: Marx condemns the capitalists for making a profit. He says that profit-making is exploitation and that the capitalists are unnecessary for the production of commodities.
Prabhupada: Profit-making may be wrong, but that exploitative tendency is always there, whether it is a communist or a capitalist system. In Bengal it is said that during the winter season the bugs cannot come out because of the severe cold. So they become dried up, being unable to suck any blood. But as soon as the summer season comes the bugs get the opportunity to come out, so they immediately bite someone and suck his blood to their full satisfaction. Our mentality in this material world is the same: to exploit others and become wealthy. Whether you are a communist in the winter season or a capitalist in the summer season, your tendency is to exploit others. Unless there is a change of heart, this exploitation will go on.
I once knew a mill worker who acquired some money. Then he became the proprietor of the mill and took advantage of his good fortune to become a capitalist. Henry Ford is another example. He was an errand boy, but he got the opportunity to become a capitalist. There are many such instances. So, to a greater or lesser degree, the propensity is always there in human nature to exploit others and become wealthy. Unless this mentality is changed, there is no point in changing from a capitalist to a communist society. Material life means that everyone is seeking some profit, some adoration, and some position. By threats the state can force people to curb this tendency, but for how long? Can they change everyone's mind by force? No, it is impossible. Therefore, Marx's proposition is nonsense.
Syamasundara: Marx thinks the minds of people can be changed by forced conditioning.
Prabhupada: That is not possible. Even a child cannot be convinced by force, what to speak of a mature, educated man. We have the real process for changing people's minds: chanting the Hare Krsna mantra. Ceto-darpana-marjanam: this process cleanses the heart of material desires. We have seen that people in Moscow are not happy. They are simply waiting for another revolution. We talked to one working-class boy who was very unhappy. When a pot of rice is boiling, you can take one grain and press it between your fingers, and if it is hot you can understand all the rice is boiling. Thus we can understand the position of the Russian people from the sample of that boy. We could also get further ideas by talking with Professor Kotofsky from the Indian Department of Moscow University. How foolish he was! He said that after death everything is finished. If this is his knowledge, and if that young boy is a sample of the citizenry, then the situation in Russia is very bleak. They may theorize about so many things, but we could not even purchase sufficient groceries in Moscow. There were no vegetables, fruits, or rice, and the milk was of poor quality. If that Madrasi gentleman had not contributed some dahl and rice, then practically speaking we would have starved. The Russians' diet seemed to consist of only meat and liquor.
Syamasundara: The communists play upon this universal profit motive. The worker who produces the most units at his factory is glorified by the state or receives a small bonus.
Prabhupada: Why should he get a bonus?
Syamasundara: To give him some incentive to work hard.
Prabhupada: Just to satisfy his tendency to lord it over others and make a profit, his superiors bribe him. This Russian communist idea is very good, provided the citizens do not want any profit. But that is impossible because everyone wants profit. The state cannot destroy this tendency either by law or by force.
Syamasundara: The communists try to centralize everything—money, communications, and transport—in the hands of the state.
Prabhupada: But what benefit will there be in that? As soon as all the wealth is centralized, the members of the central government will appropriate it, just as Khrushchev did. These are all useless ideas as long as the tendency for exploitation is not reformed. The Russians have organized their country according to Marx's theories, yet all their leaders have turned out to be cheaters. Where is their program for reforming this cheating propensity?
Syamasundara: Their program is to first change the social condition and then, they believe, the corrupt mentality will change automatically.
Prabhupada: Impossible. Such repression will simply cause a reaction in the form of another revolution.
Syamasundara: Are you implying that the people's mentality must first be changed, and then a change in the social structure will naturally follow?
Prabhupada: Yes. But the leaders will never be able to train all the people to think that everything belongs to the state. This idea is simply utopian nonsense.
Syamasundara: Marx has another slogan: "Human nature has no reality." He says that man's nature changes through history according to material conditions.
Prabhupada: He does not know the real human nature. It is certainly true that everything in this cosmic creation, or jagat, is changing. Your body changes daily. Everything is changing, just like waves in the ocean. This is not a very advanced philosophy. Marx's theory is also being changed; it cannot last. But man does have a fundamental nature that never changes: his spiritual nature. We are teaching people to come to the standard of acting according to their spiritual nature, which will never change. Acting spiritually means serving Krsna. If we try to serve Krsna now, we will continue to serve Krsna when we go to Vaikuntha, the spiritual world. Therefore, loving service to Lord Krsna is called nitya, or eternal. As Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita, nitya-yukta upasate: "My pure devotees perpetually worship Me with devotion."
The communists give up Krsna and replace Him with the state. Then they expect to get the people to think, "Nothing in my favor; everything in favor of the state." But people will never accept this idea. It is impossible; let the rascals try it! All they can do is simply force the people to work, as Stalin did. As soon as he found someone opposed to him, he immediately cut his throat. The same disease is still there today, so how will their program be successful?
Syamasundara: Their idea is that human nature has no reality of its own. It is simply a product of the material environment. Thus, by putting a man in the factory and making him identify with the state and something like scientific achievement, they think they can transform him into a selfless person.
Prabhupada: But because he has the basic disease, envy, he will remain selfish. When he sees that he is working so hard, but the profit is not coming to him, his enthusiasm will immediately slacken. In Bengal there is a proverb: "As a proprietor I can turn sand into gold, but as soon as I am no longer the proprietor, the gold becomes sand." The Russian people are in this position. They are not as rich as the Europeans or the Americans, and because of this they are unhappy.
Syamasundara: One of the methods the authorities in Russia use is to constantly whip the people into believing there may be a war at any moment. Then they think, "To protect our country, we must work hard."
Prabhupada: If the people cannot make any profit on their work, however, they will eventually lose all interest in the country. The average man will think, "Whether I work or not, I get the same result. I cannot adequately feed and clothe my family." Then he will begin to lose his incentive to work. A scientist will see that despite his high position, his wife and children are dressed just like the common laborer.
Syamasundara: Marx says that industrial and scientific work is the highest kind of activity.
Prabhupada: But unless the scientists and the industrialists receive sufficient profit, they will be reluctant to work for the state.
Syamasundara: The Russian goal is the production of material goods for the enhancement of human well-being.
Prabhupada: Their "human well-being" actually means, "If you don't agree with me, I'll cut your throat." This is their "well-being." Stalin had his idea of "human well-being," but anyone who disagreed with his version of it was killed or imprisoned. They may say that a few must suffer for the sake of many, but we have personally seen that Russia has achieved neither general happiness nor prosperity. For example, in Moscow none of the big buildings have been recently built. They are old and ravaged, or poorly renovated. Also, at the stores the people had to stand in long lines to make purchases. These are indications that economic conditions are unsound.
Syamasundara: Marx considered religion an illusion that must be condemned.
Prabhupada: The divisions between different religious faiths may be an illusion, but Marx's philosophy is also an illusion.
Syamasundara: Do you mean that it's not being practiced?
Prabhupada: In the sixty years since the Russian Revolution, his philosophy has become distorted. On the other hand, Lord Brahma began the Vedic religion countless years ago, and though foreigners have been trying to devastate it for the last two thousand years, it is still intact. Vedic religion is not an illusion, at least not for India.
Syamasundara: Here is Marx's famous statement about religion. He says, "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of the heartless world, just as it is the spirit of the spiritless situation. It is the opiate of the people."
Prabhupada: He does not know what religion is. His definition is false. The Vedas state that religion is the course of action given by God. God is a fact, and His law is also a fact. It is not an illusion. Krsna gives the definition of religion in Bhagavad-gita (Bg. 18.66): sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja. To surrender unto God—this is religion.
Syamasundara: Marx believes everything is produced from economic struggle and that religion is a technique invented by the bourgeoisie or the capitalists to dissuade the masses from revolution by promising them a better existence after death.
Prabhupada: He himself has created a philosophy that is presently being enforced by coercion and killing.
Syamasundara: And he promised that in the future things will be better. So he is guilty of the very thing that he condemns religion for.
Prabhupada: As we have often explained, religion is that part of our nature which is permanent, which we cannot give up. No one can give up his religion. And what is that religion? Service. Marx desires to serve humanity by putting forward his philosophy. Therefore that is his religion. Everyone is trying to render some service. The father is trying to serve his family, the statesman is trying to serve his country, and the philanthropist is trying to serve all humanity. Whether you are Karl Marx, or Stalin, or Mahatma Gandhi, a Hindu, a Muslim or a Christian, you must serve. Because we are presently rendering service to so many people and so many things, we are becoming confused. Therefore, Krsna advises us to give up all this service and serve Him alone:
"Abandon all varieties of service and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear." (Bg. 18.66)
Syamasundara: The communists—and even to a certain extent the capitalists—believe that service for the production of goods is the only real service. Therefore they condemn us because we are not producing anything tangible.
Prabhupada: How can they condemn us? We are giving service to humanity by teaching the highest knowledge. A high court judge does not produce any grains in the field. He sits in a chair and gets $25,000 or $30,000. Does that mean he is not rendering any service? Of course he is. The theory that unless one performs manual labor in the factory or the fields he is not doing service would simply give credit to the peasant and the worker. It is a peasant philosophy.
There is a story about a king and his prime minister. Once the king's salaried workers complained, "We are actually working, and this minister is doing nothing, yet you are paying him such a large salary. Why is that?" The king then called his minister in and also had someone bring in an elephant. "Please take this elephant and weigh it," the king said to his workers. The workers took the elephant to all the markets, but they could not find a scale large enough to weigh the animal. When they returned to the palace the king asked, "What happened?" One of the workers answered, "Sir, we could not find a scale large enough to weigh the elephant." Then the king addressed his prime minister, "Will you please weigh this elephant?" "Yes sir," said the prime minister, and he took the elephant away. He returned within a few minutes and said, "It weighs sixteen hundred and fifty pounds." All the workers were astonished. "How did you weigh the elephant so quickly?" one of them asked. "Did you find some very large scale?" The minister replied, "No. It is impossible to weigh an elephant on a scale. I went to the river, took the elephant on a boat, and noted the watermark. After taking the elephant off the boat, I put weights in the boat until the same watermark was reached. Then I had the elephant's weight." The king said to his workers, "Now do you see the difference?" One who has intelligence has strength, not the fools and the rascals. Marx and his followers are simply fools and rascals. We don't take advice from them; we take advice from Krsna or His representative.
Syamasundara: So religion is not simply a police force to keep people in illusion?
Prabhupada: No. Religion means to serve the spirit. That is religion. Everyone is rendering service, but no one knows where his service will be most successful. Therefore Krsna says, "Serve Me, and you will serve the spiritual society." This is real religion. The Marxists want to build a so-called perfect society without religion, yet even up to this day, because India's foundation is religion, people all over the world adore India.
Syamasundara: Marx says that God does not create man; rather, man creates God.
Prabhupada: That is more nonsense. From what he says, I can tell he is a nonsensical rascal and a fool. One cannot understand that someone is a fool unless he talks. A fool may dress very nicely and sit like a gentleman amongst gentlemen, but we can tell the fools from the learned men by their speech.
Syamasundara: Marx's follower was Nikolai Lenin. He reinforced all of Marx's ideas and added a few of his own. He believed that revolution is a fundamental fact of history. He said that history moves in leaps, and that it progresses toward the communist leap. He wanted Russia to leap into the dictatorship of the proletariat, which he called the final stage of historical development.
Prabhupada: No. We can say with confidence—and they may note it carefully—that after the Bolshevik Revolution there will be many other revolutions, because as long as people live on the mental plane there will be only revolution. Our proposition is to give up all these mental concoctions and come to the spiritual platform. If one comes to the spiritual platform, there will be no more revolution. As Dhruva Maharaja said, natah param parama vedmi na yatra nadah: "Now that I am seeing God, I am completely satisfied. Now all kinds of theorizing processes are finished." So God consciousness is the final revolution. There will be repeated revolutions in this material world unless people come to Krsna consciousness.
Syamasundara: The Hare Krsna revolution.
Prabhupada: The Vedic injunction is that people are searching after knowledge, and that when one understands the Absolute Truth, he understands everything. Yasmin vijnate sarvam evam vijnatam bhavati. People are trying to approach an objective, but they do not know the final objective is Krsna. They are simply trying to make adjustments with so many materialistic revolutions. They have no knowledge that they are spiritual beings, and that unless they go back to the spiritual world and associate with the Supreme Spirit, God, there is no question of happiness. We are like fish out of water. Just as a fish cannot be happy unless he is in the water, we cannot be happy apart from the spiritual world. We are part and parcel of the Supreme Spirit, Krsna, but we have left His association and fallen from the spiritual world because of our desire to enjoy this material world. So unless we reawaken the understanding of our spiritual position and go back home to the spiritual world, we can never be happy. We can go on theorizing for many lifetimes, but we will only see one revolution after another. The old order changes, yielding its place to the new. Or in other words, history repeats itself.
Syamasundara: Marx says that there are always two conflicting properties in material nature, and that the inner pulsation of opposite forces causes history to take leaps from one revolution to another. He claims that the communist revolution is the final revolution because it is the perfect answer to all social contradictions.
Prabhupada: If the communist idea is spiritualized, then it will become perfect. As long as the communist idea remains materialistic, it cannot be the final revolution. They believe that the state is the owner of everything. But the state is not the owner; the real owner is God. When they come to this conclusion, then the communist idea will be perfect. We also have a communistic philosophy. They say that everything must be done for the state, but in our International Society for Krishna Consciousness we are actually practicing perfect communism by doing everything for Krsna. We know Krsna is the supreme enjoyer of the result of all work (bhoktaram yajna-tapasam). The communist philosophy as it is now practiced is vague, but it can become perfect if they accept the conclusion of the Bhagavad-gita, that Krsna is the supreme proprietor, the supreme enjoyer, and the supreme friend of everyone. Then people will be happy. Now they mistrust the state, but if the people accept Krsna as their friend, they will have perfect confidence in Him, just as Arjuna was perfectly confident in Krsna on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra. The great victory of Arjuna and his associates on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra showed that his confidence in Krsna was justified:
yatra yogesvarah krsno
"Wherever there is Krsna, the master of all mystics, and wherever there is Arjuna, the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory, extraordinary power, and morality. That is my opinion." (Bg. 18.78) So if Krsna is at the center of society, then the people will be perfectly secure and prosperous. The communist idea is welcome, provided they are prepared to replace the so-called state with God. That is religion.
A brief look at the worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
Literary Landmark Reached By Bbt
LOS ANGELES—The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust is proud to announce the completion of a major new publication: Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, the jewel of medieval Indian literature. This devotional classic presents the life and teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who initiated the Hare Krsna movement some 500 years ago. Originally written in Bengali by Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, who completed it in 1616, it has now been rendered into English by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in seventeen volumes containing about 7500 pages. The massive work features the original Bengali script, phonetic transliterations of each verse, word-for-word definitions, precise translations, purports, a variety of indexes, and 255 full-color illustrations.
The translating and writing of commentary for this work took His Divine Grace only eighteen months, and the last thirteen volumes of the set were prepared for printing by the BBT staff in less than two months—all with no loss of the BBT's standard of high quality printing and illustration.
Delta City Acclaims Srila Prabhupada
NEW ORLEANS—Officials here praised the spiritual master of the Krishna Consciousness Society today for "establishing a workable alternative to the problem of drug addiction and alienation." Representing Mayor Landrieu was welfare chief Morris Jeff, who presented His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada with honorary citizenship, a key to the city, and a fragrant garland of roses. Srila Prabhupada reciprocated by handing Mr. Jeff a volume of his Srimad-Bhagavatam. The brief ceremony took place at a reception held July 31 in the spiritual master's honor. Mr. Jeff later commented that his meeting with Srila Prabhupada was "a beautiful experience."
Transcendental Art Style Recognized
NEW YORK—Krsna conscious art made an impact in a recent competition here. The American Institute of Graphic Arts awarded a Certificate of Excellence to BACK TO GODHEAD magazine for the cover of issue No. 57, which featured a painting by Baradraja dasa of Lord Krsna and Arjuna on a chariot riding into battle. The cover was one of 135 book, record album, promotional and magazine covers selected out of 2400 entries. It is being displayed in AIGA's "Cover '75 / Catch the Eye" exhibition, which is touring the United States and Canada.
Over the past eight years, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness has established fourteen successful farming communities in various parts of the world. As national economies founder and cities go bankrupt, ISKCON's farms flourish and grow, proving that the Krsna consciousness movement is providing not only potent spiritual knowledge, but a viable alternative lifestyle as well. There's full employment for everyone and natural prosperity when everything's done for Lord Krsna. For more information please write ISKCON's Secretary at 3764 Watseka Ave., Los Angeles, Ca. 90034
New Vrndavana (Moundsville, W. Va.)—"While herding the beautiful bulls, the Lord, who was the reservoir of all opulence and fortune, used to blow His flute, and thus He enlivened His faithful followers, the cowherd boys." (Bhag. 3.2.29)
This past summer was definitely bull season here. At Bahulaban, largest of New Vrndavana's six farms, eleven of the seventeen new arrivals were bull calves.
Most of our bulls are used for ox teams because we don't need so many for breeding. Right now our oxen program is in the rough stages, but what we have going is very promising. We're working four teams regularly, and several others are being trained up. Many New Vrndavana residents enjoy watching the oxen as they haul the milk from the barn to the temple's milk separator twice a day. The bulls are working better together all the time.
The medical program is also being improved to properly care for the increased number of calves. We examine each of them twice a day for any abnormality which might indicate sickness, and the sick ones get more complete treatment.
Milk production from the herd is soaring because there are so many "fresh" cows now. All told, the cows at Bahulaban are giving almost a thousand pounds of milk daily, and they're still increasing!
For Lord Krsna's birthday (Janmastami) we put the barn into excellent shape. Everyone who visited us for the holiday celebration was able to relish the purity and simplicity of Lord Krsna's cow protection program. It's easy to appreciate this wonderful service when we see so many milk preparations—sweets, curd, yogurt and cream—offered to the Deity of Krsna in the temple every day. When we satisfy the Supreme Lord, He satisfies us with His mercy.
New Orleans (Picayune, Miss.)—Iskcon's 200-acre farm here is only a year old, yet it's already in full operation. Located in an ideal spot just sixty miles east of New Orleans, the farm enjoys abundant rainfall all year round. The trees and fields are always luxuriantly green, and for this reason we can let the cows wander freely in all seasons. We never have to confine them to barns. One or more kinds of vegetables can always be cultivated, and Lord Krsna has blessed us with a nice orchard and many beehives.
In early August we were given the great benediction of a personal visit from His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada. As his car pulled up to the main house, we all bowed down to offer our respects, humbly grateful for the opportunity to have our farm sanctified by the holy feet of our spiritual master, a pure devotee of Lord Krsna.
Srila Prabhupada toured the farm on foot late in the afternoon. When he saw all the tractors, binders, and other machinery we used for working the farm, Srila Prabhupada was somewhat critical. We had spent thousands of dollars purchasing the most up-to-date farm machinery, yet he favored a simpler approach. "As far as possible," he said, "machines should be avoided because they provide an opportunity for idleness, gossiping and excessive sleep. If every man works according to his innate nature, that is the healthy state, but if one man works a machine and all the others remain idle, then it is a devil's workshop." He suggested we begin training our five bull calves to replace the machines for farm labor.
Srila Prabhupada then spoke to us for some time on how the natural way of life is superior to the artificial, mechanized life in the cities. He described how our farm could be modeled after village life in Vedic India: "The farm should be mainly run by householder couples. They can live in small cottages and take care of the cows and till the fields. In the villages of India, where there are many cows, naturally there is also an abundant supply of milk. The residents don't turn all the milk into ghee [clarified butter] for sale. Rather every day each family puts their supply into one big pot with a fire under it and takes out as much as they need for drinking and cooking that day. At night, whatever milk is left is converted into yogurt, stored and then churned into butter. The buttermilk is fed to the calves, and the butter is turned into ghee. In this way, not a single drop of milk is wasted. So this is the formula for an abundant life: some land, hard work, cow protection, and doing everything for Lord Krsna."
His conclusions rest heavily on a thin surface of guesswork.
by Bali Mardan dasa
Over the past 150 years, the expanding role of science in almost every sphere of life has produced a revolution in ideas—a revolution epitomized by Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Although never proven more than a theory, it is accepted by millions as fact. In discussing the influence and implications of his theory, I shall suggest an alternative explanation of evolution that is both theistic and scientific, and which does not depend upon the imperfect methods of speculation used by Darwin. Because this account of man's origin has until only recently been confined to the Vedic literature originally written in Sanskrit, Western man has heretofore remained ignorant of its profound significance.
Science Versus Religion
Throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Western civilization held to a strong belief in the existence of one Supreme God, and the fabric of life was woven of this faith. With the advent of the Age of Reason, however, the credibility of Christianity was severely tested in the crucible of scientific scrutiny. Although many Christians saw in the discovery of scientific laws new revelations of God's glory, probing scientific criticism of the explanations of the creation given in the Bible undermined the traditional authority of Christian doctrine.
The literal Biblical description of man's origin was given its severest test in 1859, when Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, a treatise which was designed to prove the gradual evolution of man from lower forms of life. Until Darwin's time, Church doctrine was expressed by such authorities as Archbishop Ussher, who specified that the world was created at "9:00 a.m., October 23, 4004 B.C." This date was calculated from the Biblical record by tracing history back to Adam and Eve and then to the cosmic creation. But Church spokesmen found it difficult to refute Darwin's all-encompassing explanations. After some initial resistance, most advocates of the Biblical version of evolution realized the tide of the times and began to praise Darwin for showing how intelligently God had arranged the evolution of species from lower life forms up to the human form. Darwin himself, however, avoided mention of God in his writings. Privately he admitted, "I look upon all human feeling as traceable to some germ in the animal."
By the late 19th century, fundamentalists could no longer hold the scientists at bay with their literal interpretations of the Bible, and Church authorities tried to adjust Christian theology to scientific change. An increasingly materialistic community of scientists saw that the time was ripe to attack man's faith in God and establish science as the new deity with themselves as its priests. For example, in 1893 Ernst Mach said, "The theological conception of things gave way to a more rigid conception; and this was accompanied with a considerable gain in enlightenment...The physical philosophy of theology is a fruitless achievement, a reversion to a lower state of scientific culture."
Today, the ideas of Darwin play an integral role in much scientific research. Modern geneticists and biochemists, for example, have expanded Darwinism by producing a theory of existence in which God has become extraneous. By promising life from the laboratory and immortality within the fleshly body, they have convinced the public that the origin of human life is a molecular accident and that man himself is nothing more than a complex combination of chemicals.
But if we examine Darwin's methods, we will find his conclusions to be less "scientific" than the certainty with which he states them would suggest. In theorizing that all life forms have developed from one remote ancestor, Darwin decided that some unknown force must have combined with the time factor to cause the evolution of the different species we see today. He thought that the final stage of this process was the development of man from the monkey. In the writings of Thomas Malthus (An Essay on Population) Darwin found the mechanism that seemingly gave evolution its conclusive rationale. Malthus said that animals and man reproduce in geometric progression, whereas the supply of food in the world increases only arithmetically. He argued that if even one species of life reproduced without any check, it would soon overrun the world. (Fish and insects lay many thousands of eggs.) Malthus described a constant struggle for existence in which the population of living organisms is trimmed, thus keeping an equilibrium in nature. Darwin suggested that the struggle for existence would favor certain varieties of life, and that the fittest of those would survive, fitness being measured in terms of the capability of an organism to gather food, defend itself, and reproduce. He called this the process of "natural selection," which supposedly was the mechanism nature provided to guide the changing species along the path of evolution. Later, the genetic theories of Gregor Mendel and others provided explanations for the occurrence of mutations.
In his diary, Darwin admits "a constant tendency to fill up the wide gaps of knowledge by inaccurate and superficial hypotheses." This suggests that Darwin's theory, however well it may explain his collected data, rests merely on circumstantial evidence. Neither Darwin nor anyone since has directly observed a transition from one species to another. No one has ever seen a parent from one species give birth to an offspring initiating a new species. The best Darwin could do was claim that such an event must have happened in the past. He felt this was the only way to explain his observations.
Alive and Well
Peking Man, Neanderthal Man and like discoveries have made headlines throughout the world as primitive human forms that have preceded the evolutionary development of modern man. Such claims are closer to propaganda than to scientific truth. As we see around us, primitive forms live side by side with more advanced ones. The Darwinists once declared that a primitive fish, the Coelacanth, had been extinct for the last seventy million years. But quite surprisingly, the Coelacanth has since turned up alive and well in the waters off South Africa, unchanged from fossilized forms hundreds of millions of years old. There are many similar examples, and in each instance the scientists cleverly rearrange their theories to fit the changing evidence.
That primitive men exist, in the past or in the present, does not prove that civilized men are a recent development. The evidence found by Dr. Leakey in Africa within the last few years definitely shows more advanced humans living at a much earlier period than less developed human species found living at a later date. There is no real evidence of higher forms evolving from lower ones. Were future scientists to discover the remains of twentieth century aboriginal tribes in New Guinea, would it be valid for them to conclude that such were the dominant form of human life in the twentieth century? Of course not, because the aborigines of New Guinea represent only a small fraction of the human race at the present time.
Furthermore, in India, the center of the ancient world, the civilized method of disposing of the dead has always been to cremate the bodies, thus leaving no evidence for future paleontologists to speculate about. Excavated bones come from aboriginal tribes living side by side with the advanced Vedic culture. Proof of Darwinism rests on a very thin surface of empirical guesswork. It is actually no proof at all.
The best-known and most obvious evidence against Darwinism is the virtual absence of intermediary forms of species, either alive or fossilized. Without these missing links, there are no connecting links through which evolution could have proceeded. In addition, Darwinists cannot explain the development of fish, birds, whales or dolphins. The duckbilled Platypus also defies their explanation, as do thousands of other wonderful creatures. A few quotes from the scientists themselves will reveal Darwin's theory for what it is—an unscientific claim to satisfy the minds of atheistic men:
"The fossil record does not tell us how fishes came into existence...we can only guess as to the way in which the first fishes originated." (Url Lanham, The Fishes)
"The origin of the birds is largely a matter of deduction. There is no fossil evidence of the changes through which the remarkable change from reptile to bird was achieved." (A.J. Marshal, Biology and Comparative Physiology of Birds)
Not only is there no proof that lower forms of life develop into more complex and advanced ones, but even the theory of change by mutation, which had been so readily accepted, has now been shown to be faulty. Dr. Alan Wilson, professor of biochemistry at the University of California at Berkeley, and Dr. M. King, a research geneticist, presented evidence in Science magazine, April 11, 1975, that mutation cannot possibly account for the changes in life forms necessary for evolutionary development. The pillars of Darwinism are crashing to the ground, for without a valid explanation of variation, Darwin's whole idea becomes absurd.
The actual fact is that there is no solid evidence for Darwinian evolution. Millions accept it blindly, not daring to question the scientific community that has given the theory its stamp of approval.
The Vedic View of Evolution
Darwin's error was to minimize his own human frailty. Overlooking the limitations of his own senses and mind, and ignoring the inevitable human tendency to become illusioned and make mistakes, he cheated the public by claiming as fact that which could only be tentative hypothesis. To find the conclusive explanation of the origin of species, we must approach a source of knowledge which is beyond the imperfections of our tiny brains. This infallible source of knowledge is the Vedic scriptures which, unlike the speculative postulates of empirical scientists, are spoken directly by the Supreme Lord Himself.
In the Vedic literature, we find a well-substantiated explanation of the origin of the many species from a theistic, yet thoroughly scientific, point of view. The theists of Darwin's time had no scientifically viable arguments with which to defend and explain divine creation. For instance, why does life display such a varied gradation of organisms, from the most simple amoeba to the complex human being? What is the relationship between animal and human life? The answers to these questions are given in the Vedas.
According to the Vedic information, the material body is only a temporary covering of the eternal soul—a puppet that dances for some time until the soul passes on to the next life form. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita, a manual for spiritual life spoken by Lord Krsna (God) Himself: "As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death." (Bg. 2.13)
The soul, the vital spiritual spark in each material body, is thus understood to be the active principle in the cycle of birth and death. The nature of the soul is described as follows: "Know that which pervades the entire body to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy the imperishable soul. Only the material body of the indestructible, immeasurable and eternal living entity is subject to destruction." (Bg, 2.17-18) Scientists have no access to knowledge of the soul through their methods of empirical observation and experimentation, because the soul is described as being beyond the purview of the mundane world, immeasurable by the blunt instruments of our senses.
Modern Darwinists postulate a common ancestor for all species—a single-celled organism with minimal life functions. The Vedas also specify one origin for all living entities, but the Vedic conclusion is that the origin of all species is God. As Lord Krsna explains in the Bhagavad-gita: "It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kunti, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father." (Bg. 14.4) "I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me." (Bg. 10.8) Many present-day followers of Darwin maintain that life originated by accident in a primeval chemical soup, but when the Vedic scientist asks to know where the soup came from—or the universe for that matter—Darwinists cannot reply. The theory of accidental creation of the universe is based simply on unproved assumptions and an unwillingness to admit ignorance.
Darwin theorized that the varieties of life forms gradually evolved from one another over a great span of time. The Vedas, however, explicitly describe the process by which all species were created at the beginning of the universe. The Vedas categorize 900,000 species of aquatic life, 2,000,000 species of plant and tree life, 1,100,000 species of insects, 1,000,000 species of birds, 3,000,000 species of beasts and 400,000 species of human beings. The Vedas do not say that all 8,400,000 species of life must exist simultaneously on any one planet. There are countless millions of planets within God's creation, each with life forms suitable for its environment. Simply because a particular species—such as the dinosaur—is no longer visible on earth is no proof that it does not exist somewhere else.
The material world is created for the small minority of souls who rebel against the supremacy of God. The Lord provides a place for them where they may act out their fantasies as tiny gods of the mundane sphere. At the same time, however, God provides the means by which the fallen souls may revive their God consciousness and return to the spiritual world.
The apparent lack of God's mercy in nature caused Darwin to disbelieve in a creator. He lamented, "I can see no evidence of beneficent design." Actually, the miseries that all creatures are heir to in this world are, in one sense, a blessing, for they prompt the living entity, when he reaches the human form of life, to inquire into the means of escape from this painful condition. Suffering exists as long as we try to exploit nature and remain in ignorance of our true spiritual position. Evolution is the means by which the Supreme Lord gradually brings the living entity to full consciousness, and the varieties of life are the various prisons the soul must pass through on his sojourn within matter. The culmination of the soul's evolution is the human form of life, where one may at long last end the cycle of birth and death and re-enter the spiritual realm. If, however, one misuses human life by neglecting spiritual culture, he must again descend into the animal species and once more be subject to the process of evolution. The Brahma-vaivarta Purana states that: "One attains the human form of life after transmigration through 8,400,000 species of life by the process of gradual evolution. The human form of life is spoiled for those conceited fools who do not take shelter of the lotus feet of Govinda [God]."
The fate of those who misuse human life is further described in the Bhagavad-gita: "Those who are envious and mischievous, who are the lowest among men, are cast by Me into the ocean of material existence into various demoniac species of life. Attaining repeated births among the species of demoniac life, such persons can never approach Me. Gradually they sink down to the most abominable type of existence." (Bg. 16.20)
The Vedas emphatically declare that having now achieved the extremely rare human form, we should use the opportunity to inquire about God, the origin of everything. The most complete and authoritative information on God and His creation is to be found in the Vedas themselves, and the essence of the Vedic wisdom is contained in the Srimad-Bhagavatam and the Bhagavad-gita. This literature, presented in English for the first time without adulteration by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, provides the seriously inquisitive seeker with a totally theistic and scientific explanation of the creation of the universe and the origin of species, and explicit instructions on how he can complete the evolutionary process by becoming God conscious in the human form of life.
In five cities and on a transcontinental jet,
Article by Visakha-devi dasi
He's probably logged as much flight time in the past ten years as any other traveling emissary. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has gone around the world twelve times visiting his ISKCON centers, lecturing and insuring a high standard of spiritual life among his disciples. The author traveled with him this past summer as he shuttled from West to East coast and back again, holding informal meetings and having dialogues with those who came to ask questions no one else could answer.
Los Angeles: June 24-28
Shortly After His Arrival At The Los Angeles Temple, disciples arranged for a meeting between Srila Prabhupada and Dr. John B. Orr (Chairman of the Department of Religious Studies, University of Southern California), Dr. Stillson Judah (Chairman of the Department of Phenomenology and History of Religion, and head librarian at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California), Dr. John P. Crossley (University of Southern California), Dr. Mize (Long Beach City College), and other scholars from various universities. After all the guests had assembled and were seated comfortably in a small garden within the Los Angeles temple complex, Srila Prabhupada walked in with a quick step, sat down before them, and began to speak.
"All the revealed scriptures indicate that having achieved the human form of life, we should now find out what God is. That is real science—to inquire about the problems of life. And what are those problems? The real problems are birth, death, old age and disease.
"Our struggle for existence means that we try to avoid distress, and we seek happiness. Our real distress is that we have to die. You may have taken birth in a rich American family, and you may work in a big skyscraper and drive a very nice automobile, but at any moment you can be kicked out by death. We are looking for happiness, but we must find out where there is permanent happiness. That is intelligence; not that I create a circumstance where I am happy for some years and then get kicked out."
Prabhupada finished his brief talk and the guests were introduced to him. A lively conversation ensued that continued late into the evening.
Denver: June 28-July 5
After His Four-Day Visit To Los Angeles, Srila Prabhupada traveled to Denver, where a family of devotees was pleased to give their house, right across the street from the temple, for their spiritual master to live in during his visit. There Prabhupada would have mock debates with his sannyasi (renounced) disciples, showing them how to defeat other philosophies.
Prabhupada: What is the meaning of the Absolute Truth?
Devotee: That from which everything emanates.
Prabhupada: So everything must have come from something. No one can deny that. Now if you know what the Absolute Truth is we challenge you to present it.
Devotee: We agree that there is an Absolute Truth, but we cannot at this time say exactly what it is.
Prabhupada: Then you cannot say that the Vedic explanation is wrong. If you don't know what gold is and a friend gives it to you, saying, "Here is gold" how can you deny it? You have no knowledge, therefore you cannot claim it is not gold. Similarly, if you don't know what the Absolute Truth is, what grounds do you have for denying that Krsna is the Absolute Truth? If you don't accept our philosophy, then you must present your philosophy. But if you don't have a philosophy you must agree to hear from an authority who does.
Devotee: Yes, that argument is logical; we should at least listen to you. But we have heard so many versions of the "truth." Why should we accept your version?
Prabhupada: That is like saying, "I have come across so many counterfeit coins, why should I think there is a real coin?" No. Because there are counterfeit coins, therefore there must also be genuine coins. It is our misfortune that we are unable to distinguish the real coins from the counterfeit ones.
Devotee: You say that you are presenting the Absolute Truth and that the Absolute Truth is God, Krsna. But I think your position is dogmatic. There are many truths, many gods.
Prabhupada: The Absolute Truth is one; God is one. God cannot be many. If God has competition He cannot be God. If you don't admit Krsna is God then you present who God is. But if you don't know who God is or what God is then you cannot say that Krsna is not God. If you speak that way then you are being dogmatic. You do not know what God is, yet dogmatically you are saying that Krsna is not God. Therefore, we say that those who deny the supremacy of Lord Krsna are members of the owl civilization. The owls never open their eyes to see the sun. This is the unfortunate defect of conditioned souls; they demand to see God, but when God comes before them personally, or when He sends His pure representative, they cannot see.
Chicago: July 5-11
On The Plane From Denver To Chicago Srila Prabhupada scanned the lead article in an international news magazine entitled, "Crime: Why and What to Do." He noted that the overwhelming problem was lucidly presented, but that no practical solution was offered. So, in Chicago, when the local mayor, a representative from the police force and a state assemblyman came individually to visit Prabhupada, he spoke to them for three consecutive days about the Krsna conscious solution to the problem of crime.
All three gentlemen were very receptive, especially the state senator, Mr. John Porter, who came with his wife:
Mr. Porter: I understand you were speaking to some police officials about crime.
Prabhupada: Crime means anything you do without Krsna consciousness. It is simply a question of degree. Material life is criminal life. Everyone is busy. So many cars are going this way and that, here and there, but ask anyone what is God, he'll be disturbed; "What is this nonsense?" He thinks it is a waste of time to talk about God. But one in spiritual life is only interested in God. Actually, human life is perfect when one remembers only God.
Mrs. Porter: Can you live a spiritual life outside the temple?
Prabhupada: Yes. It is a simple method: chant Hare Krsna. You can do it anywhere, even while walking on the street. There is no tax, no loss and you can develop your spiritual life. Is it difficult? You have a tongue, you can chant. Do it and see the practical result. The temple is a place where you can come once in a day and get inspiration. But if you have no time, you can chant the Mahamantra anywhere you are and gradually make advancement. If you have more time, you can read our books.
Mr. Porter: Christians have the concept of original sin and salvation. What is your view of that?
Prabhupada: As I mentioned, anyone who is in the material world is criminal. It is like a prison house—everyone there is a criminal except the officers. Everyone in the material world is sinful to some degree. Those who are completely purified understand God, love Him and go back home, back to Godhead. In different countries, at different times and under different circumstances, there are different religious principles and methods of purification. Just like in the Christian religion there are ten commandments how to become pure. But if you do not follow them and still say that you are Christian, that is hypocrisy. If you follow the instruction given by God or God's representative, then you are religious; but if you don't follow, simply to say, "I am Hindu, I am Christian, I am Muslim," has no meaning. The main business is how to understand God.
Philadelphia: July 11-15
In His Quarters At The Philadelphia Temple, Srila Prabhupada explained to a young man from India the process of understanding God:
"Krsna Himself says, 'I can be understood only by devotional service, sincere service.' It is very easy to learn this art; there is no distinction as to caste, creed, color. Now so many people are loving Krsna. One doesn't have to be expert in philosophy or science or be very rich and intelligent. No. Simply love Krsna.
"Even the priests are surprised. They have told me, 'These boys and girls used to be our students, but they never wanted to go to church. Now they spend all their time for God.' And just today at the airport one reporter asked, 'What is it that you are offering that has made your students so affectionate and enthusiastic and loving?' I told him, 'I have simply tried to give them Krsna. I have not bribed them.' "
Professor Thomas J. Hopkins is the Chairman of the Department of Religious Thought at Franklin and Marshall College. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on the Srimad-Bhagavatam and has been closely following the Hare Krsna movement since its beginning in America in 1966. For these reasons Professor Hopkins has long been anxious to meet with Srila Prabhupada, and in Philadelphia he finally had the opportunity.
Dr. Hopkins: Of all the things which you have written, which is the most important?
Prabhupada: The most important thing is how to love God.
Dr. Hopkins: But which book?
Prabhupada: The Vedanta philosophy; first the Bhagavad-gita, then the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
Dr. Hopkins: But is there one of the translations or purports which you would want everybody to read?
Prabhupada: Yes. The Bhagavatam says that the ultimate goal in life is how to become liberated, not how to develop economically. (Bhag. 1.2.9) We should just get money honestly, not for sense gratification but for the necessities of life; to fulfill the bodily demands, not artificially to create them. Why? Because the ultimate goal is to attain liberation. It is not to make a new model car every year. We should not work hard day and night and go to church for material profit, praying to God to get money. People want material gain because they have no spiritual information; therefore they are described as "mudhas," fools and rascals. If I take care of my shirt very nicely but I do not care for the person inside the shirt, then what is my position? Similarly, this whole material world is busy taking care of the body, not the soul inside the body. Therefore, all these so-called educational institutions are blind. It is a society of the blind leading the blind.
Dr. Hopkins: What is the solution?
Prabhupada: First of all understand you are spirit. Find out what is your relationship with God and act accordingly. That is the perfection of life.
The Captain Of The United Airlines Jet that took Prabhupada from Philadelphia to Berkeley, California, took advantage of the long flight to talk with His Divine Grace. Later on, Prabhupada recalled the conversation. The captain asked that if God is all good, then why is there evil in the world? "I explained that for God there is no evil, just good. Just as my chest is as important to me as my back; if there is pain in my back I take care of it. I do not ignore it thinking that the front is more important. Evil is compared to the back of God. It is not different from His front, or goodness.
"Then the question came, 'If everything is good from God's point of view, then how can there be evil?' I gave another example to explain. It is just like the sun. On the body of the sun there is no shadow. We create shadow by turning our back to the sun. Similarly, when we turn away from God there is evil."
The captain inquired further, "How is it possible to attain peace?" Prabhupada replied, "By understanding that God is the supreme proprietor, the supreme enjoyer, and the supreme friend." Prabhupada explained these three aspects of God in detail, and showed the captain a few of the sixty volumes of books that have been published by the Hare Krsna movement on the science of God consciousness.
Berkeley: July 15-21
The Day After Prabhupada Arrived a press conference was held, with all the major newspapers and television stations represented. Sitting under the glare of TV lights in the large Berkeley temple room, Prabhupada was faced with the question, "What will happen to the movement when you die?" His answer came back immediately: "I will never die." All the guests and devotees cheered and Prabhupada continued, "I live in my books."
The President of the Assembly of World Citizens came to visit His Divine Grace. His society is dedicated to bringing peace in the world, and Srila Prabhupada was very stern with him. Prabhupada told him, "The world can never be united if we maintain our [bodily] designations. How can you unite people of different designations? If someone is thinking, 'I am American, I am Russian, I am black, I am white, I am a woman, a man, communist, capitalist, etc., there will always be disunity. But in our movement we never think of ourselves as any material [bodily] designation. We understand all living entities are spirit souls, part and parcel of Krsna. This is the actual platform of unity. If you bring together people who don't understand this simple fact, they will simply talk nonsense. So without spiritual understanding, the idea of a 'world citizen' is foolish. It will never be successful."
A Professor Of Anthropology, Dr. James Freeman of the California State University, and some of his students paid a visit. The discussion turned to the reason for all the different species of life. Srila Prabhupada began, "The basic defect is that scientists do not know that the soul is different from the body. According to my activities I get a different body. The body is like a dress. According to the price you pay [your activities] you get a different dress [body]. For example, when you go to court, you are punished or rewarded according to your activities. The judge is impartial; it is your activities that determine if you are punished or rewarded. The supreme judge is the Supreme Lord.
"Devotees of the Lord, however, are not under karma [the laws of material nature]. Just as a king or president can overrule the decision of a judge, similarly, Krsna promises that those who surrender to Him will be protected by Him; He takes charge of the devotee, and the laws of material nature cannot then act. To reach this perfection we must fulfill Krsna's desire. If we maintain personal desires, then we are still under the law of karma." Dr. Freeman then asked, "How do we know when we are acting according to Krsna's desire and when we are acting according to our own desire?" Srila Prabhupada answered, "When we manufacture our own plan, we are subject to the law of karma. We should act according to Krsna's order; that is His desire. This is called bhakti [devotion]."
At this point an Indian gentleman who was present commented that in his opinion everyone should have the right to worship the way they want. Prabhupada objected: "Then everyone in the state can do what they want?" "No," came the reply. Prabhupada continued, "If you can't make your own law, then how can you make your own religion? It is not possible. Religion means to follow God's law."
The conversation turned to politics. Prabhupada's arguments persuaded everyone present that democracy was not the best form of government. "The common man has no sense whom to elect; he proves this by electing an unqualified leader and later trying to change him or pull him down. Meanwhile, thousands of bureaucrats live off the taxes of the people and spend their time planning how to keep themselves in power.
"The ideal government is that which is administered by a perfect, saintly person. We can see from the Vedic histories, a benevolent king is responsible to see that the citizens in his kingdom are well situated both materially and spiritually."
Swami Chidananda, President of the Divine Life Mission, and some of his young followers sat before Prabhupada one afternoon and expressed their opinion about the merits of hatha-yoga, which is a process of different bodily exercises. Prabhupada explained that the idea of making spiritual advancement by manipulating the body is wrong because, "I am not the body, I am spirit soul." Bhakti-yoga, the process of linking up with God through devotion, begins with the proprietor of the body, the spirit soul. Other yogas, including hatha-yoga, begin on the material platform by prescribing different ways to control the senses artificially. But this is very difficult in this age. Even Visvamitra Muni, a very great yogi of the past, fell down after meditating for many years because he became attracted to a woman. Similarly, nowadays so-called yogis cannot control their sexual urges.
Srila Prabhupada continued, "It is described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam that in this age of quarrel and hypocrisy men have short lives. They are quarrelsome, lazy, misguided, unlucky and above all always disturbed. (Bhag. 1.1.10) Therefore, this yoga practice will never be successful.
"Practically speaking these boys and girls in Krsna consciousness have taken directly to the spiritual platform. How? Harer nama harer nama harer namaiva kevalam/ kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha. (Brhan-naradiya Purana) In this fallen age the only way, the only way, the only way to attain self-realization is by chanting the names of the Lord. If you really want to help people, preach this philosophy, the philosophy from the scriptures."
Swami Chidananda agreed that all the great saints tended to emphasize bhakti and that even his guru brought chanting of the holy names to many parts of India.
Just Five Minutes Away from the Berkeley temple is the sprawling campus of the University of California. In the morning Prabhupada would walk there, past somber gray buildings and carefully manicured lawns. Once he challenged, "For all the 'advancement' of modern civilization, how is the problem of death being solved?" A devotee responded, "People are trying to learn how to meet death cheerfully." Prabhupada laughed, "it is like the man who is sentenced to death by the judge, but the lawyer consoles him, 'That is all right, you can be hanged cheerfully.' "
The devotees informed Srila Prabhupada that the university authorities had to put glass in the clock tower on the campus to prevent suicides. Prabhupada responded, "Education which leads to hopelessness is not education."
A Practicing Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Allan Gerson, had been testing devotees in the Hare Krsna movement to convince his colleagues of the validity of Krsna consciousness. His tests showed that devotees are markedly calmer, milder, more unbiased, and freer from anxieties than non-devotees. When he came to see Prabhupada in San Francisco, however, Prabhupada explained that since the soul is beyond the body, mind and intelligence, psychology does not apply.
Dr. Gerson: "If the soul is at peace, then wouldn't the mind and intelligence be at peace also?"
Prabhupada: "Yes, these tests may show this, but they will not give you any help. A diseased man will have certain symptoms, and a healthy man will have certain symptoms. Our goal is not to study the symptoms; we want to touch the origin of the disease and clear it away.
"You and your colleagues have no information of the spirit soul. So how will you understand the cure? The first business is to understand the soul—but not by mental activities, mental concoction. Kindly explain to your colleagues these simple facts: there is a soul beyond the mind and intelligence, and that soul is eternal and is transmigrating from one body to another. Open their eyes so that they can see how 'drug addicted hippies have become loving servants of Krsna and humanity' [from a letter from Dr. Judah]. We can see practically that these boys and girls have become happy. How have they become happy? They have been following the process of Krsna consciousness. If we take up this simple formula, the whole human society will become happy."
Los Angeles: July 21-25
During His Morning Walks in Los Angeles, Srila Prabhupada took pleasure verbally sparring with his disciples by refuting their various atheistic arguments. As he spoke, the devotees would gather around him, straining to hear his soft voice over the ocean waves.
Prabhupada: Everywhere the spiritual touch is required before matter will work. (A computer needs a person to push the buttons, a watch requires someone to wind it or put the batteries in it, etc.) In the same way, there is a brain behind nature, but because material scientists cannot imagine this brain, they say creation takes place by chance. Is it a very good explanation that by chance certain chemicals came together and there is life? The whole problem is they cannot distinguish between matter and spirit.
Devotee: But scientists can point to so much progress they have made—time and laborsaving machines.
Prabhupada: The real progress they do not know. The real progress is to check death. We are simply trying to serve Krsna. And Krsna says, He promises, "One who understands Me need never return to this material world of birth and death but comes to My eternal abode." (Bg. 4.9)
Devotee: How do we know Krsna's words are true? Is it simply blind faith?
Prabhupada: No, not blind. Just as I know that on the other side of this ocean is Japan. I may never have been there, but I believe the authorities. Everyone without exception must have faith in something. You have faith that when you give your money for an airline ticket, you will get to your destination. Similarly, I am walking, I do not know the way, but someone I trust tells me, "Now go this way..." I have faith that this person will direct me properly. According to our purity we have faith in different authorities. Faith in the scriptural authority will grow with good association. You don't need to have knowledge to have faith in God. Simply by having such faith knowledge will come. Krsna will give you knowledge. And how to begin this whole process? By hearing from a self realized soul, by chanting Hare Krsna, and by taking Krsna prasada [food which has been offered to Krsna with devotion]. It has nothing to do with the mind or intelligence or any other material condition. But if one has no faith, not even enough to hear and chant, then he must remain in this world of birth and death.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu unleashed
THE FIRST TIME devotees of Krsna took their chanting to the street was in India five hundred years ago. Except for religious holidays it had never been done before, but on this occasion in the city of Navadvipa, West Bengal, it had to be done.
Most of the people in Navadvipa joined the Sankirtana movement as soon as Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu began it. He recommended always chanting the names of God, and they readily took up the practice. Especially in the evenings, households rang with the cheerful music of devotion.
However, both Hindu and Muslim partisans came before the district's governor, Chand Kazi, complaining that the devotees' singing was too loud for them. The Kazi reacted to the complaints by bursting into a home, angrily breaking a drum and prohibiting any further chanting.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu boldly retaliated, ordering Sankirtana groups brought into the streets for a mass march through all the neighborhoods of the city. On the appointed night, tens of thousands of devotees streamed through Navadvipa in a torchlight parade. With Lord Caitanya leading they made their way to the governor's mansion, chanting and dancing with great enthusiasm.
Hearing the chanting throng, the Kazi immediately hid himself in the upstairs quarters of his home. When some local notables were sent to get him, however, he came outside to meet the crowd. He and Lord Caitanya exchanged pleasantries, then launched into an extensive philosophical discussion. The Kazi finally confessed an affection for the new devotional style, and was moved to proclaim, "To as many descendants as take birth in my dynasty in the future, I give this grave admonition: no one should check the Sankirtana movement."
Five hundred years after that initial success, Lord Caitanya's Sankirtana movement is flourishing. Public chanting of the holy names of God is now commonplace in the streets of cities throughout the world, and Lord Caitanya's famous prediction, "In every town and village the holy name will be sung," is quickly being fulfilled.
The editors of BACK TO GODHEAD welcome correspondence pertaining to spiritual enlightenment. All letters will receive personal replies, and correspondence of general interest will be published regularly.
The Bhagavad-gita speaks of reincarnation. Why can't we remember our past lives?
San Marino, California
Dear Ms. Capucci,
We forget our past lives in the same way that a person with amnesia forgets his past. Just as amnesia is caused by a traumatic psychological experience or physical injury, the severe trauma of death and rebirth erases the memory of our previous life.
But what is the ultimate importance of my knowing that in my past life I had the body of an American or a Russian, a cow or a dog? The crucial thing is to remember who the eternal "I" is who undergoes all these changes of bodies. The Vedic scriptures, especially Bhagavad-gita As It Is, can reveal to us who we really are behind the facade of bodily identification. By hearing Lord Krsna's instructions in the Bhagavad-gita As It Is and acting on them, we gradually awaken to our real identity as a pure spiritual being, an eternal loving servant of the Supreme Spirit, God. With this understanding all our curiosity about past, present or future lives will be satisfied.
I am confused by the great variety of spiritual reading matter available today. Each author claims that his is "The Way." But I need more than just a book. I need someone I can trust to guide me on the spiritual path. How can I make such a decision?
Kenyon, Rhode Island
Dear Ms. Callahan,
Your confusion is well justified. Anyone interested in spiritual life today is confronted by such an array of gurus, yogis, priests, sages and self-made gods—each claiming his teachings alone to be the "Truth"—that reasoned choice seems impossible. Here are a few time-tested guidelines by which any honest seeker can judge a prospective spiritual master and the path he advocates.
First we must understand the meaning of the word "spiritual." It indicates something in relation to the Supreme Spirit, God. The goal of a spiritual discipline should be realization of God and our relationship with Him. This eliminates the great majority of groups on the market today—from yoga and meditation societies to the so-called human potential movements—because their aim is only improvement of the body or mind. They give no information on how we can discover our spiritual identity.
Your observation that you "need more than just a book" is a good one, and is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita (The Song of God): "Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth." (Bg. 4.34)
The Gita goes on to state the necessary qualifications of a genuine guru: First and foremost, he must be part of a disciplic chain of spiritual masters beginning with the speaker of Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna (God) Himself. Furthermore, he must be humble, self-controlled, peaceful, completely uninterested in personal gain, and always glorifying God with his words and deeds.
Finally, the Gita tells us that "such a great soul is very rare." (Bg. 7.19) Few people make the grade. But, we do know that His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the spiritual master of ISKCON, lives up to the expectations of the Bhagavad-gita. You can find this out for yourself by reading his books. If you choose to become his disciple, you will have made a good decision. He is a person you can trust to guide you safely on the spiritual path.
An excerpt from Krsna,
Krsna was very pleased with the atmosphere of the forest, where flowers bloomed and bees and drones hummed very jubilantly. While the birds, trees and branches were all looking very happy, Krsna, tending the cows and accompanied by Sri Balarama and the cowherd boys, began to vibrate His transcendental flute. After hearing the vibration, the gopis in Vrndavana remembered Him and began to talk amongst themselves about how nicely Krsna was playing His flute. When the gopis were describing the sweet vibration of Krsna's flute'; they also remembered their pastimes with Him; thus their minds became disturbed, and they were unable to fully describe the beautiful vibrations. While discussing the transcendental vibration, they also remembered how Krsna dressed, decorated with a peacock feather on His head, just like a dancing actor, and with blue flowers pushed over His ear. His garment glowed yellow-gold, and He was garlanded with a vaijayanti necklace. Dressed in such an attractive way, Krsna filled up the holes of His flute with the nectar emanating from His lips. So they remembered Him, entering Vrndavana forest, which is always glorified by the footprints of Krsna and His friends.
Krsna was very expert in playing the flute, and the gopis were captivated by the sound vibration, which was not only attractive to them, but to all living creatures who heard it. One of the gopis told her friends, "The highest perfection of the eyes is to see Krsna and Balarama entering the forest and playing Their flutes and tending the cows with Their friends."
Persons who are constantly engaged in the transcendental meditation of seeing Krsna, internally and externally, by thinking of Him playing the flute and entering the Vrndavana forest, have really attained the perfection of samadhi. It is also confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita that anyone who is always absorbed in the thought of Krsna is the topmost of all yogis.
Another gopi expressed her opinion that Krsna and Balarama, while tending the cows, appeared just like actors going to play on a dramatic stage. Krsna was dressed in glowing garments of yellow, Balarama in blue, and They held new twigs of mango tree, peacock feathers, and bunches of flowers in Their hands. Dressed with garlands of lotus flowers, They were sometimes singing very sweetly among Their friends. One gopi told her friends, "how is it Krsna and Balarama are looking so beautiful?" Another gopi said, "My dear friend, we cannot even think of His bamboo flute—what sort of pious activities did it execute so that it is now enjoying the nectar of the lips of Krsna?" Krsna sometimes kisses the gopis; therefore the transcendental nectar of His lips is available only to them, and His lips are considered their property. Therefore the gopis asked: "How is it possible that the flute, which is nothing but a bamboo rod, is always engaged in enjoying the nectar from Krsna's lips? Because the flute is engaged in the service of the Supreme Lord, the mother and the father of the flute must be happy."
The lakes and rivers are considered to be the mothers of the trees because the trees live simply by drinking water. The waters of the lakes and rivers of Vrndavana were full of happy lotus flowers because the waters were thinking, "How is it that our son, the bamboo rod, is enjoying the nectar of Krsna's lips?" The bamboo trees standing by the banks of the rivers and lakes were also happy to see their descendant engaged in the service of the Lord, just as persons advanced in knowledge take pleasure to see their descendants engage in the service of the Lord. The trees were overwhelmed with joy and were incessantly yielding honey, which flowed from the beehives hanging on their branches.
Sometimes the gopis spoke about Krsna to their friends: "Dear friends, our Vrndavana is proclaiming the glories of this entire earth because this planet is glorified by the lotus footprints of the son of Devaki. Besides that, when Govinda plays His flute, the peacocks immediately become mad. When all the animals, trees and plants—either on top of Govardhana Hill or in the valley—see the dancing of the peacock, they all stand still and listen to the transcendental sound of the flute with great attention. We think that this boon is not possible or available on any other planet." Although the gopis were village cowherd women and girls, they had knowledge of Krsna. Similarly, one can learn the highest truths simply by hearing the Vedas from authoritative sources.
Another gopi said, "My dear friends, just see the deer! Although they are dumb animals, they have approached Krsna, the son of Maharaja Nana. Not only are they attracted by the dress of Krsna and Balarama, but as soon as they hear the playing of His flute, the deer, along with their husbands, offer respectful obeisances unto the Lord by looking at Him with great affection." The gopis were envious of the deer because the deer were able to offer their service to Krsna along with their husbands. The gopis thought themselves not so fortunate because whenever they wanted to go to Krsna, their husbands were not very happy.
Another gopi said, "My dear friends, Krsna is so nicely dressed that He appears to be the impetus for various kinds of ceremonies held by the womenfolk. Even the wives of the denizens of heaven become attracted after hearing the transcendental sound of His flute. Although they are traveling in their airplanes, enjoying the company of their husbands, upon hearing the sound of Krsna's flute they immediately become perturbed. Their hair loosens and their tight dresses slacken." This means that the transcendental sound of the flute of Krsna extended to all corners of the universe. It is also significant that the gopis knew about the different kinds of airplanes flying in the sky.
Another gopi said to her friends, "My dear friends, the cows are also charmed as soon as they hear the transcendental sound of the flute of Krsna. It sounds to them like the pouring of nectar, and they immediately spread their long ears just to catch the liquid nectar of the flute. As for the calves, they are seen with the nipples of their mothers pressed within their mouths, but they cannot suck the milk. They remain struck with devotion, and tears glide down their eyes, illustrating vividly how they are embracing Krsna heart to heart." These phenomena indicate that even the cows and calves in Vrndavana knew how to cry for Krsna and embrace Him heart to heart. Actually, Krsna conscious affection is culminated in shedding tears from the eyes.
A younger gopi told her mother, "My dear mother, the birds, who are all looking at Krsna playing on His flute, are sitting very attentively on the branches and twigs of different trees. From their features it appears that they have forgotten everything and are engaged only in hearing Krsna's flute. This proves that they are not ordinary birds; they are great sages and devotees, and just to hear Krsna's flute they have appeared in Vrndavana forest as birds." Great sages and scholars are interested in Vedic knowledge, the essence of which is stated in the Bhagavad-gita: vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah. Through the knowledge of the Vedas, Krsna has to be understood. From the behavior of these birds, it appears that they were formerly great Vedic scholars who took to Krsna's transcendental vibration and rejected all branches of Vedic knowledge. Even the River Yamuna, being desirous to embrace the lotus feet of Krsna after hearing the transcendental vibration of His flute, broke her fierce waves to flow very nicely with lotus flowers in her hands, to present them to Mukunda with deep feeling.
The scorching heat of the autumn sun was sometimes intolerable, and therefore out of sympathy the clouds in the sky appeared above Krsna, Balarama and Their boy friends while They engaged in blowing Their flutes. The clouds served as a soothing umbrella over Their heads just to make friendship with Krsna.
Another gopi began to praise the unique position of Govardhana Hill. "How fortunate is Govardhana Hill, for it is enjoying the association of Lord Krsna and Balarama, who are accustomed to walk on it. Thus Govardhana is always in touch with the lotus feet of the Lord. And because Govardhana Hill is so obliged to Lord Krsna and Balarama, it is supplying different kinds of fruits, roots and herbs, as well as very pleasing crystal water from its lakes, as a presentation to the Lord." The best presentation offered by Govardhana Hill, however, was newly grown grass for the cows and calves. Govardhana Hill knew how to please the Lord by pleasing His most beloved associates, the cows and the cowherd boys. Another gopi said that everything appeared wonderful when Krsna and Balarama traveled in the forest of Vrndavana playing Their flutes and making intimate friendship with all kinds of moving and nonmoving living creatures. When Krsna and Balarama played on Their transcendental flutes, the moving creatures became stunned and stopped their activities, and the nonmoving living creatures, like trees and plants, began to shiver with ecstasy.
Krsna and Balarama carried binding ropes on Their shoulders and in Their hands, just like ordinary cowherd boys. While milking the cows, the boys bound their hind legs with a small rope. This rope almost always hung from the shoulders of the boys, and it was not absent on the shoulders of Krsna and Balarama. In spite of Their being the Supreme Personality of Godhead, They played exactly like cowherd boys, and therefore everything became wonderful and attractive. While Krsna was engaged in tending the cows in the forest of Vrndavana or on Govardhana Hill, the gopis in the village were always absorbed in thinking of Him and discussing His different pastimes. This is the perfect example of Krsna consciousness: somehow or other to remain always engrossed in thoughts of Krsna. The vivid example is always present in the behavior of the gopis. Therefore, Lord Caitanya declared that no one can worship the Supreme Lord better than by the method of the gopis. The gopis were not born in very high brahmana or ksatriya families. They were born in the families of vaisyas—not big mercantile communities, but the families of cowherd men. They were not well educated, although they heard all sorts of knowledge from the brahmanas—authorities of Vedic knowledge. The gopis' only purpose was to remain always absorbed in thoughts of Krsna.
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.
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
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: