The International Society/or Krishna 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 the eternal, all-knowing, omnipresent, all-powerful, and all-attractive Personality of Godhead. 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 all the great scriptures of the world. However, the oldest known revealed scriptures in existence are the Vedic literatures, most notably the Bhagavad-gita, which is the literal record of God's actual 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
God has an unlimited variety of names. Some of them—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, all scriptures enjoin us to chant it for spiritual purification.
Muhammad 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 consciousness in this issue of BACK TO GODHEAD magazine.
How can we find pleasure that lasts?
A talk by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Krsna—this sound is transcendental. Krsna means the highest pleasure. Each of us, every living being, seeks pleasure. But we do not know how to seek pleasure perfectly. With a materialistic concept of life, we are frustrated at every step in satisfying our desire for pleasure, because we have no information regarding the real level on which to have real pleasure. For the last few weeks we have been learning that we are not this body; we are consciousness. Not exactly consciousness, for consciousness is actually the symptom of our real identity: we are pure soul, now merged within this material body. Modern material science lays no stress on this; therefore, the scientists are sometimes misled in their understanding of spirit soul. But spirit soul is a fact, which anyone can understand by the presence of consciousness. Any child can understand that consciousness is the symptom of the spirit soul.
Even after the destruction of this body, our consciousness is not destroyed. Rather, our consciousness is transferred to another type of body and again makes us aware of the material conception of life. That is also described in the Bhagavad-gita. At the time of death, if our consciousness is pure, we can be sure that our next life will not be material—our next life will be spiritual. If our consciousness is not pure at the point of death, then, after leaving this body, we shall have to take another material body. That is the process which is going on. That is nature's law.
The material body has two divisions: the subtle body and the gross body. Just as we may cover ourselves with a shirt and coat, so the pure soul is covered by the "shirt and coat" of the subtle and gross bodies. Our bones, blood, flesh, and our different senses (like our eyes, ears, and skin) make up our gross body; and our mind, intelligence, and false ego make up our subtle body. False ego means the misconception that I am matter, that I am a product of this material world. This misconception makes me localized. For example, because I have taken my birth in India, I think myself Indian. Because I have taken my birth in America, I think myself American. But, as pure soul, I am neither Indian nor American. I am pure soul. These others are designations. American, or Indian, or German, or Englishman; cat or dog, or bee or bat, man or wife: all these are designations. In spiritual consciousness we become free from all such designations. That freedom is achieved when we are constantly in touch with the supreme spirit, Krsna.
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness is simply intended to keep us in constant touch with Krsna. Krsna can be in constant companionship with us because He is omnipotent. Therefore, He can be fully in touch with us by His words. His words and He are not different. That is omnipotence. Omnipotence means that everything relating to Him has the same potency. For example, here in this material world, if we are thirsty and we want water, simply repeating "water, water, water, water," will not satisfy our thirst, because this word does not have the same potency as water itself. We require the water in substance. Then our thirst will be satisfied. But in the transcendental, absolute world, there is no such difference. Krsna's name, Krsna's quality, Krsna's word—everything is Krsna and provides the same satisfaction.
Some people argue that Arjuna was talking with Krsna because Krsna was present before him—whereas in my case Krsna is not present, so how can I get directions? But that is not a fact. Krsna is present by His words—the Bhagavad-gita. In India, when we speak on the Bhagavad-gita or Srimad-Bhagavatam, we regularly perform worship with flowers, or with other paraphernalia, as is required for worshiping. In the Sikh religion also, although they have no form of the Deity, they worship the book Grantha Sahab. Perhaps some of you are acquainted with this Sikh community. They worship this Grantha. Similarly, the Muslims worship the Koran. Similarly, in the Christian world, the Bible is worshiped. It is a fact that Lord Jesus Christ is present by his words. Krsna is also present by His words.
These personalities, either God or the Son of God, who come from the transcendental world, keep their transcendental identities without being contaminated by the material world. That is their omnipotence. We are in the habit of saying that God is omnipotent. Omnipotence means that He is not different from His name, from His quality, from His pastimes, from His instruction. Therefore, the discussion of Bhagavad-gita is as good as discussion with Krsna Himself.
Krsna is seated in your heart, and in my heart too. Isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese 'rjuna tisthati (Bg. 18.61). God is situated in everyone's heart. God is not away from us. He is present. He is so friendly that He remains with us in our repeated change of births. He is waiting to see when we shall turn to Him. He is so kind that though we may forget Him, He never forgets us. Although a son may forget his father, a father never forgets his son. Similarly, God, the original father of everything, everybody, all living entities, will never forsake us. We may have different bodies, but they are our shirt-coats. That has nothing to do with our real identity. Our real identity is pure soul, and that pure soul is part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. There are 8,400,000 species of life. Even the biologist and the anthropologist cannot calculate this accurately, but from authoritative, revealed scripture we get this information. Human beings represent 400,000 species, and there are 8,000,000 other species. But Krsna, the Supreme Lord, claims that all of them, whether beast, man, snake, god, semi-god, demigod—anything whatever—all of them are, in reality. His sons.
The father gives the seed, and the mother receives the seed. The body is then formed, according to the mother's body. And when the body is completely formed, it comes out—either from cats, from dogs, or from man. That is the process of generation. The father gives the seed, and it is emulsified with two kinds of secretion in the womb of the mother, and on the first night the body is formed just like a pea. Then, gradually, it develops. There are nine holes that develop: two ears, two eyes, nostrils, a mouth, a navel, a penis, and an anus.
According to his last karma, or action, one gets this body to enjoy, or to suffer. That is the process of birth and death. And after finishing this life, again one dies, and again one enters into the womb of some mother. Another type of body then comes out. This is the process of reincarnation.
We should be very diligent as to how we can discontinue this process of repeated birth and death and change of body. That is the prerogative of the human form of life. We can stop this process of repeated birth and death. We can get our actual spiritual form again and be blissful and full of knowledge and have eternal life. That is the purpose of evolution. We should not miss this. The entire process of liberation begins just as we have now begun this chanting and hearing. I wish to point out that this chanting of the holy name of God (Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare) and hearing the truths of the Gita is as good as bodily association with Krsna. That is stated in the Gita. This process is called kirtana. Even if one does not understand the language, still, just by hearing, he acquires some piety. His assets lead him to a pious life, even if he does not understand—it has such power.
There are two topics concerning Krsna. Two kinds of topics, actually. One topic is this Bhagavad-gita. It is spoken by Krsna. And the other topic concerning Krsna is Srimad-Bhagavatam. That is spoken about Krsna. So there are two types of Krsna-katha (topics), and both of them are equally potent because they are connected with Krsna.
Because the Bhagavad-gita is spoken on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, some people have asked what we have to do with the battlefield. We have nothing to do with any battlefield. We are after knowledge of the spiritual sphere. Then, why should we bother about this battlefield? Because Krsna is on the battlefield, and therefore the whole battlefield has become Krsna-ized. Just as when an electric current is passed into some metal, the whole metal becomes surcharged with electricity, so too, when Krsna is interested in some matter, that matter becomes Krsna-ized. Otherwise, there wouldn't be any need at all of talking about the Battlefield of Kuruksetra. That is His omnipotence.
We have accumulated many inauspicious things within our hearts due to our material contamination during the course of many, many births. Many, many births—not only this birth, but past births as well. So, when we search into our hearts with the Krsna-katha, then the contamination we have accumulated will be washed off. Our hearts will be cleansed of all rubbish. And, as soon as all the rubbish is cleared off, then we are situated in pure consciousness.
It is very difficult to eradicate all the false designations from oneself. For example, I am Indian. It is not very easy to immediately think that I am not Indian, but pure soul. Similarly, it is not a very easy task for anyone to end his identification with these bodily designations. But still, if we continue hearing the Krsna-katha, it will be very easy. Make an experiment. Make an experiment to see how easily you'll be able to free yourself from all these designations. Of course, it is not possible to clear out the rubbish from the mind all of a sudden, but by hearing Krsna-katha we are immediately aware that the influence of the material nature becomes slackened.
The material nature is working in three modes—goodness, passion, and ignorance. Ignorance is hopeless life. Passion is materialistic. One who is influenced by the mode of passion wants this false enjoyment of material existence. Because he does not know the truth, he wants to squeeze out the energy of the body just to enjoy this matter. That is called the mode of passion. As for those in the mode of ignorance, they have neither passion nor goodness. They are in the deepest darkness of life. Situated in the mode of goodness, we can understand, at least theoretically, what I am, what this world is, what God is, and what our interrelationship is. This is the mode of goodness.
By hearing Krsna-katha, we will be freed from the stages of ignorance and passion. We will be situated in the mode of goodness. At least we'll have the real knowledge—knowledge of what we are. Ignorance is like the animal existence. The animal's life is full of suffering, but the animal does not know that he is suffering. Take the case of a hog. Oh, how miserable his life is: living in a filthy place, eating stools, and always unclean. Yet the hog is very happy by eating stools, and having constant sexual intercourse with the she-hog and just getting fat. The hog gets very fat, because of the spirit of enjoyment which is there—although, for him, it is sensual enjoyment.
We should not be like the hog, falsely thinking that we are very happy. Working hard all day and night, then having some sex life—we think that in this way we are very happy. But this is not happiness. This has been described in the Bhagavatam as a hog's happiness. Man's happiness is when he is situated in the mode of goodness. Then he can understand what true happiness is.
In our daily routine, if we hear this Krsna-katha, the result will be that all the dirty things in the heart, accumulated life after life, will be cleared out. As a matter of fact, we will see that we are no longer in ignorance or in passion, but are situated in the mode of goodness. What is that position?
We will find ourselves joyful in every circumstance of life. We will never feel morose. In the Bhagavad-gita we find that this is our brahma-bhuta (highest stage of goodness) situation. The Vedas teach us that we are not this matter. We are Brahman. Aham brahmasmi. Lord Sankaracarya preached this gospel to the world. We are not this matter; we are Brahman, spirit. When spiritual realization is actually accomplished, then our symptoms will change. What are those symptoms? When one is situated in his own spiritual consciousness, then he will have no hankering and no lamentation. Lamentation is for loss, and hankering is for gain. Two diseases characterize this material world. What we do not possess, we hanker after: "If I get these things I'll be happy. I have no money, but if I get a million dollars, then I'll be happy." When we actually have a million dollars, somehow it will be lost, and we'll cry, "Oh, I have lost it!" So the second disease is lamentation. When we hanker for earning, that is a kind of distress. And when we suffer loss, that is also distress. But if we are situated in brahma-bhuta, we will neither lament nor will we hanker. We will view equally everyone and everything. Even if we are situated in the midst of fiery turbulence, we will not be disturbed. That is the mode of goodness.
Bhagavatam means "the science of God." If we persevere in the science of God, we will be situated in the brahma-bhuta status. From that brahma-bhuta status, we have to work, for work is recommended here. So long as we have this material body, we have to work. We cannot stop working; it is not possible. But we have to adopt the tactics of yoga, and in this way, even by doing some ordinary work which by destiny or circumstances we are put into, there is no harm. Suppose that, in one's own occupation, one must speak a lie or his business can't go on. Lying is not a very good thing, so one concludes that the business is not based on very moral principles and one should therefore give it up. In the Bhagavad-gita, however, we find instruction not to give it up. Even if we are put in such circumstances that our livelihood cannot go on without some unfair practice, we should not give it up. But we should try to make it purified. How is it purified? We should not take the fruitive result of our work. That is meant for God.
Sukrta means pious activities. And duskrta means impious activities. On the material level we can be pious or impious. Either we are performing some pious activities, or we are performing some impious activities—or we have a mixture, pious and impious. Lord Krsna advises that we should act with knowledge of, or devotion to, the Supreme. What does that knowledge mean? It means that I am the part and parcel of the supreme consciousness, or that I am not this body. If I identify myself as an American, as an Indian, or this or that, then I am on the material plane. We should identify ourselves as neither Americans nor Indians, but as pure consciousness. I am a subordinate consciousness of the supreme consciousness; in other words, I am the servant of God. God is the supreme consciousness, and I am His servant. So, for our present understanding, subordinate means servant.
We don't ordinarily carry out the work of a servant in relationship to God. Nobody wants to be a servant, but everyone wants to be the master, because to become a servant is not a very palatable thing. But to become the servant of God is not exactly like this. Sometimes the servant of God becomes the master of God. The real position of the living entity is to be the servant of God, but in the Bhagavad-gita we can see that the master, Krsna, became the servant of Arjuna. Arjuna is sitting in the chariot, and Krsna is his driver. Arjuna is not the owner of the chariot, but in the spiritual relationship we should not cling to the concept of the material relationship. Although the whole relationship, just as we have experience of it in this world, is there in the spiritual world, that relationship is not contaminated by matter. Therefore, it is pure and transcendental. It is of a different nature. As we become advanced in the spiritual conception of life, we can understand what the actual position in the spiritual, transcendental world is.
Here the Lord instructs us in buddhi-yoga. Buddhi-yoga means that we have full consciousness of not being this body; if I act with this understanding, then I'm not body—I am consciousness. That is a fact. Now, if we act on the level of consciousness, then we can overcome the fruitive result of good work or bad work. It is a transcendental stage.
It means that we are acting on another's account—on the Supreme's account. We are not liable to loss or gain. When there is gain, we should not be puffed up. We should think, "This gain is for the Lord." And when there is loss, we should know that this is not our responsibility. It is God's work—His. Then we will be happy. This we have to practice: everything on account of the Supreme. This transcendental nature we have to develop. This is the trick of doing work under these present circumstances. As soon as we work on the level of bodily consciousness, we become bound by the reaction of our work. But when we work through spiritual consciousness, we are not bound either by pious activities or by vicious activities. That is the technique.
Manisinah—this word is very significant. Manisi means "thoughtful." Unless one is thoughtful, he cannot understand that he is not this body. But if one is a little thoughtful he can understand, "Oh, I am not this body. I am consciousness." Sometimes, in our leisure time, we can see, "Oh, this is my finger, and this is my hand. This is my ear, and this is my nose. Everything is mine, but what am I, what am I?" I am feeling that this is mine, and that I am. Simply a little thought is required. Everything is mine—my eyes, my finger, my hand. My, my, my, and what is the I? The I is that consciousness, in which I am thinking, "This is mine."
Now, if I am not this body, then why should I act for this body? I should act for myself. Then, how can I work for myself? What is my position? I am consciousness. But what kind of consciousness? Subordinate consciousness—I am part of the supreme consciousness. Then, what will my activities be? My activities will be under the guidance of the supreme consciousness, just as in the office, the managing director is the supreme consciousness. For example, in the office everyone is working under the direction of the manager; therefore, they have no responsibility. They have only to discharge their duties. Either pious or impious duties—never mind. In the military line, too, the order of the captain or the commander is there. The soldier has to execute it. He does not consider whether it is pious or impious. That does not matter. He simply has to act; then he is a real soldier. He acts in that way and he gets his reward. He gets title and honor. He doesn't care. The commander says, "Just go and kill the enemy," and he is rewarded. Do you think that by killing one gets reward? No—it is for the duty discharged.
Similarly, here the situation is that Krsna is instructing Arjuna. Krsna is the supreme consciousness. I am consciousness, the part and parcel of the supreme consciousness. So my duty is to act according to that supreme consciousness. For example, I consider my hand as a part of my body. Now, it is moving in its own way. "As I want, let my hand be moved. Let my legs be moved. Let my eyes be opened and see." So, I am dictating, and these parts are working. Similarly, we are parts and parcels of the Supreme. When we train ourselves to act in accordance with supreme consciousness, then we become transcendental to all these pious or impious activities. That is the technique. What will the result of this technique be? We become free from the bondage of birth and death. No more birth and death.
Modern scientists and philosophers do not think about these four things: birth, death, disease, and old age. They set them aside. "Oh, let us be happy. Let us enjoy this life." But human life is meant for finding a solution to this bondage of birth, death, disease, and old age. If any civilization has not found a solution to these four problems, then that is not a human civilization. Human civilization is meant for finding a solution to these things.
So here in the Bhagavad-gita, the Lord says, karma-jam buddhi-yukta hi. Karma-jam means whenever there is action there will be some reaction. If one acts in badness, there will be a bad reaction. But reaction, either good or bad, is, in the higher sense, all suffering. Suppose that by good action I get a good birth, fine bodily features, and a good education. All these good things I may have, but that does not mean that I am free from material pains. The material pains are birth, death, old age, and disease. Even if I am a rich man, a beautiful man, an educated man, born in an aristocratic family, and so on, I still cannot avoid death, old age, and disease.
So, we must not be concerned with pious activities or impious activities. We must be concerned with transcendental activities only. That will save us from this bondage of birth, death, old age, and disease. That should be our aim in life. We should not be hankering after good or bad things. For example, suppose one is suffering from some disease. He is lying in bed, eating, passing nature's call uncomfortably, and taking bitter medicines. He always has to be kept clean by the nurses; otherwise there is an obnoxious smell. While he is lying in this condition some friends come to him and ask how he is feeling. "Yes, I am feeling well." What is this "well"? Lying in bed uncomfortably, taking bitter medicine, and unable to move! Yet despite all these inconveniences he says, "I am well." Similarly, in our material conception of life, if we think, "I am happy," that is foolishness. There is no happiness in material life. It is impossible to have happiness here. In this condition, we do not know the meaning of happiness. That's why this very word is used, manisinah—"thoughtful."
We seek happiness by some extraneous, artificial means, but how long does it last? It will not endure. We again come back to sorrow. Suppose, by intoxication, we feel happy. That is not our actual happiness. Suppose I am made unconscious by chloroform, and I don't feel the pain of an operation. That does not mean that I am not having an operation. This is artificial. Real pleasure, real life, exists.
As Sri Krsna commands in the Bhagavad-gita, the thoughtful give up the reaction of work, being situated on the level of pure consciousness. The result is that this bondage of birth and death, disease, and old age comes to an end. This end is in union with the true identity, Krsna, the reservoir of pleasure and eternal bliss. There, indeed, is the true happiness for which we are intended.
What he said cleared things up for me. "If I throw a handful of stones into the water, the circles they make will overlap and clash. But if I could throw the stones all at one center point, the circles would never clash. In the same way, if I have my center of interest and you have your center of interest, our interests will clash. But if we find the perfect center, we'll have perfect harmony."
An account by Giriraja dasa
"Ever since the Stone Age, people have come up with so many nonsensical ideas to explain the forces of nature." That's what my father, a Chicago lawyer, would tell me when I was growing up. "The idea of a God may give peace and inspire morality, but scientifically-minded people are beyond all that."
My seventh grade teacher showed me a different angle. He reasoned, "There are so many things we can't see. We can't see atoms or air or our own minds. Does that mean they don't exist? Just because we can't see God, does that mean He doesn't exist?"
That made sense to me, and I had a change of heart. I didn't exactly know who God was, but somehow I knew He was at the center of things.
Then, four years later (in my junior year of high school), a close friend laughed at my ideas. "The wonders of nature are just coincidences. You're just imagining that a God is doing these things." His strong personality and arguments persuaded me to set aside my belief for the time being.
Still, I wanted some kind of perfection in my life, and I thought I could find it by studying psychology. I read books like Eric Fromm's The Art of Loving, and finally I enrolled in Brandeis University's psychology department so that I could learn how to help people get along better. But soon it became clear that most psychiatrists were themselves disturbed, and that their rate of suicide was surprisingly high. Besides, all the "experts" had different theories and rarely agreed on anything.
Dismayed at not being able to find any peace of mind, I turned to the East for spiritual wisdom and looked for a spiritual teacher. For a start, I read about Zen Buddhism and also attended a weekend meditation led by a well-known American Zen master. What an experience that was. All of us had to sit straight and stiff and play all kinds of mental games to empty our minds. We had to meditate on riddles like, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" At times, when I fell asleep, a monitor would swat me on the shoulder with a stick. Needless to say, I felt uncomfortable. After the meditation, someone asked the master about Vedanta philosophy. He replied, "I have enough trouble keeping up with Zen. How can I think about Vedanta?" It seemed to me that a real spiritual teacher should know everything about spiritual life. So right then I knew that this man wasn't the teacher I was looking for.
Later, I studied the writings of a famous Indian whom many people had called an incarnation of God. I asked one of my friends how I could study under him, but my friend told me that he didn't accept any students. I thought, "What kind of master is this? Without accepting students, how can he benefit anyone? So that he can be detached he's denying others the opportunity to be enlightened?" This didn't make much sense to me, so I gave up on him.
Next, I became interested in a group that offered a popular version of meditation. Their leading American representative had rented a big hall in Cambridge to demonstrate the technique. But when I went there I found out that I'd have to pay an initiation fee of thirty-five dollars and give up some kind of sense pleasure for one week. I wondered, "Thirty-five dollars—this is spiritual life? And if sense pleasure is bad, then why give it up for only one week?" It all sounded a little strange.
So it went. Whenever I found that a "swami" or "yogi" or "perfect master" or "realized soul" was anywhere within a thousand miles, I would rush to meet him. "This-ananda," "That-ananda"—so many anandas I met, but I always came away disgusted.
Then, on April 18, 1969, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada came to the Brandeis campus to speak on the Bhagavad-gita. My girl friend tried to persuade me not to go. "Why can't we be like other couples?" she asked tearfully. "Why do you always have to run to these swamis and yogis? Why can't we be like everyone else?" I didn't want to disappoint her, and I actually tried to forget about the lecture, but from within I felt I had to go. Not wanting to hurt my girl friend's feelings, I reassured her, "Let me go to this one lecture, and this will be the last swami I visit."
When one of my classmates and I entered the hall, the lecture had just ended. We saw Srila Prabhupada sitting on a magnificent chair in the middle of the stage. He was surrounded by chanting and dancing devotees. Satsvarupa dasa, (now Satsvarupa Gosvami) the president of Boston's Krsna temple, led the enthusiastic chanting. As the sound system boomed the transcendental vibrations off the bare brick walls, I felt like jumping up and joining in. When the chanting ended, the devotees bowed to offer their respects to Srila Prabhupada. Then he left the stage, and a few disciples followed him.
Some of the devotees needed a ride to Harvard Square, so I gave them a lift in my station wagon. As we rode along, I mentioned that I'd been looking into Zen. "According to the Buddhists," I said, "this world is just an image; it's like a movie. And behind it all is nothing."
A devotee commented, "Sure, this world is like a movie. But when you're watching a movie, you know that there's someone behind the whole show: a projectionist. So there's also someone behind this world—Krsna." The more I listened to the devotees, the more I wanted to hear their guru. When I dropped them off in Harvard Square I asked a devotee named Patita-pavana where the temple was. He told me how to find it and said that Srila Prabhupada would be speaking there the next evening. I decided to go.
I spent the next day anticipating my visit to the Krsna temple. Finally, about 6 p.m., I set out. The temple was in an out-of-the-way but pleasant part of Boston called Allston. At the given address, 95 Glenville Avenue, I found a small storefront. With anxiety and eagerness I rang the doorbell, and a pleasant young man opened the door and welcomed me in. The room was thick with the smoke and fragrance of incense. It was a smallish room, crowded and warm. I saw Srila Prabhupada seated on the same chair as at the auditorium on campus. He was speaking, but I could hardly hear him. Yet I did catch one thing he said. He quoted a verse from the Bhagavad-gita: "Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth" (Bg. 7.3).
That struck me. I thought, "Spiritual life isn't cheap. That's one thing I've learned already."
After he finished speaking, Srila Prabhupada asked for questions. A nicely dressed young man in the back of the room raised his hand. "Swamiji," he said, "How has Krsna created maya [illusion, or forgetfulness of Krsna]?"
Srila Prabhupada gave a beautiful answer. He began, "Maya is just like a cloud. Isn't the cloud produced by the sun?"
"And doesn't the cloud also cover the sun?"
"In this way Krsna is also creating maya, and due to maya, Krsna becomes covered. Actually Krsna is not covered, but our vision is covered, so we are not able to see Krsna."
Then I asked my question: "There are so many different processes of self-realization, like Zen Buddhism, kriya-yoga, and others, and so many different teachers, with each one advocating his process as the best. How can we actually know what is the proper way?"
Srila Prabhupada then questioned me. "First of all, what is your goal? Do you want to serve God, or do you want to become God?"
I didn't know what to say.
"If you want to become God, that means that you are not God now. But how can somebody who is not God become God? God is God. He never has to become God by any mystic yoga process. He already is God. Krsna is God when He is on the lap of His mother, Yasoda;
He is God when he is tending the cows with His friends; He is God when He is speaking the Bhagavad-gita on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra. God is always God. Not that by some mystic yoga process He becomes God. You are not God, nor can you become God. God is in your heart, and if you surrender to Him you can become godly. He is ready to help you, but if you try to become God you are only cheating yourself. If you want to become God then why should God help the competition? But if you want to serve God then God will give you all facility. So what do you think—do you want to become God or do you want to serve God?"
As Srila Prabhupada was speaking, I realized that actually I had wanted to become God. In fact, in my apartment I had painted a sign in bright, fancy letters; it said, "You Are God." Another thing I realized as he was speaking was that Srila Prabhupada was the spiritual teacher I'd been looking for, and that he could see right into my heart. I became ashamed, because I knew that Srila Prabhupada was seeing all of my foolishness. Then he repeated, "What do you think—do you want to serve God, or do you want to become God?"
I hesitated. I had some inclination to serve God, but I admitted, "Actually, I see that I wanted to become God."
Srila Prabhupada said emphatically, "Yes, that is right! But how can you become God? You cannot. God is in your heart, and if you water the seed of devotion by chanting Hare Krsna, He will give you all the sunshine to make it grow."
Every vibration in Srila Prabhupada's voice struck my ear and entered my heart. Meanwhile, Srila Prabhupada asked the devotees to distribute prasada (spiritual food, offered to Krsna) to everyone. Earlier in the evening Srila Prabhupada had initiated several new devotees, and now a feast would complete the occasion. One devotee brought a large platter with many varieties of prasada and offered it to Srila Prabhupada, who quipped, "I am not God; I cannot eat all this. Distribute it." Then one joyful devotee approached me. "If you like," she said, "you can help distribute the prasada." I was thankful for the chance to do some service.
After everyone else had begun eating, I sat down and looked at my plate. There were so many preparations that I'd never seen before; I didn't know which one to try first. I bit into a pakora (a breaded cauliflower chunk, zestfully spiced and deep-fried in pure butter). In all my life I had never tasted food so delicious. I looked at the devotees around me relishing their prasada, and then I tried a puri (a light pastry, puffed in pure butter) and some eggplant and tomato with curd. Again the taste was extraordinary. One by one I tasted all the preparations, and each one was more wonderful than the last. I'd never experienced such pleasure in eating. I reflected that everything in Krsna consciousness was that way. The philosophy, the prasada, the chanting, the temple, the devotees, and their spiritual master—all were on a superior level.
The next evening I visited again. On alternate nights, instead of speaking at the temple, Srila Prabhupada would speak at one of the nearby universities, and that night he was going to speak at Boston University. I came early so that I could drive the devotees to the program in my station wagon. Srila Prabhupada spoke clearly and simply and then opened the floor to questions. One person asked, "What can this movement do for the hungry people of the world?"
Srila Prabhupada replied, "If you give a bag of rice to the pigeons, one pigeon will take some grains and go away, another pigeon will take some grains and go away, and in this way all the pigeons will have enough. But if you put a bag of rice in a busy marketplace, the first man who sees it will take the whole bag and hoard it. So the real solution to the food problem is to change the greedy mentality in human society. Actually, there is no scarcity of anything; there is only a scarcity of Krsna consciousness. God has provided for everybody. We simply have to accept what He has given and distribute it equally. That is Krsna consciousness."
After the questions and answers, with Srila Prabhupada looking on, the devotees danced in a circle and chanted Hare Krsna. When I joined them I began to sense that Lord Krsna actually is present, as He says in Bhagavad-gita, "within the hearts of all living beings." It was a bright moment in my spiritual life.
The next night, after Srila Prabhupada's lecture at the temple, I asked a question (each time Prabhupada spoke I would limit myself to just one carefully thought-out question): "What is the relationship between service to man and service to God?"
Srila Prabhupada replied, "If a hungry man comes to you and you feed him, in a few hours his hunger will return and he will have the same problem all over again. But if you give him Krsna consciousness, all his problems will be solved permanently. If you give a man a million dollars, all of his ten-dollar problems will be solved. Similarly, if you give a man Krsna consciousness, all of his little problems will be solved, including eating. And his problems will be solved permanently. He'll become completely satisfied."
A few nights later, after a lecture at Harvard, the students asked Srila Prabhupada many challenging questions, but he easily answered all of them. One student said, "You're chanting Hare Krsna, but couldn't you just as well count from one to ten over and over again, and wouldn't that have the same results?" Srila Prabhupada replied, "Yes, you can try counting, and when you finish counting, you can try chanting." Everyone laughed.
Another boy rambled on about how we need revolution. "This chanting has been going on for many years," he said. "But now we have to take action, just like the Russian Revolution."
Srila Prabhupada inquired, "Now you've had your Russian Revolution, but are the people in Russia happy?"
The boy replied, "Well, no."
Then Srila Prabhupada said, "Then what is the value of this revolution? And even if the situation has improved, again it will get worse. Better to chant Hare Krsna and get the permanent solution."
After the question-and-answer period, the devotees chanted Hare Krsna. Later, I lingered among the audience, noting how they'd appreciated Srila Prabhupada and the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra. A disciple told me what I'd already gathered: Krsna's pure devotee can never be defeated.
I kept coming to hear Srila Prabhupada speak, either at the temple or at a university. One night he said something that I found especially illuminating: "Our whole life is simply wasted in these two activities—hankering and lamenting. Either we are hankering after what we don't have, or we are lamenting over what we've lost." That pretty much summed up my life. Prabhupada added, "The peace we are hankering for, life after life, moment after moment—we'll get it when our desires are purified and dovetailed with the Lord's desires."
The next day Srila Prabhupada gave a moving lecture at the Harvard University International Students Association. He said, "Our radius of love is always expanding. If you give a baby some food, he'll simply put it in his mouth; he thinks only of himself. But when he gets a little older, he may think of sharing the food with his mother, then with his father, and then with his brothers and sisters. If you give him food when he is still older, he might share it with his friends. When he is a young man, he may think of his community's welfare, and when still more mature he may think in terms of serving the society or the country, until finally he might come to the point of serving all humanity. But still his love is not all-encompassing. What about the cows? Are they not also sensitive living beings? Then why should we kill them? And what about the plants? We are cutting down so many trees and killing so many cows and other animals. Why should we not love all living entities?"
Srila Prabhupada then gave a nice example. What he said cleared things up for me. "This is our defect: our love is not perfect. I have my area of interest, and you have your area of interest, but mine overlaps and conflicts with yours. If I throw a handful of stones into the water, the circles they make will overlap and clash. But if I could throw the stones all at one center point, the circles would never clash. In the same way, if I have my center of interest and you have your center of interest, our interests will clash. But if we find the perfect center, we'll have perfect harmony. And what is that perfect center? That perfect center is God—Krsna."
Although I was still living at my apartment, I liked the idea of working with Prabhupada's disciples. But I was in doubt about whether I should move into the temple or stay where I was. One night, I got the opportunity to drive Srila Prabhupada back to the temple after his lecture. Here was the chance to ask him something that had been on my mind for some time. "Srila Prabhupada, what should I do with the rest of my life?" I was anxious, because I expected that he would ask me to move into the temple right away. But he replied, "Just study our books very thoroughly and chant Hare Krsna." I was relieved that Srila Prabhupada was so understanding. He'd already helped me to see that Krsna is the center of things, and I could see that the rest would come naturally.
At the end of 1970, not long after he had come to the Krsna consciousness movement, Giriraja dasa went along on Srila Prabhupada's well-received return tour of India. Since that time, Giriraja has journeyed all over the subcontinent, encouraging the people to revive their Krsna conscious culture.
In addition, since 1972 Giriraja has acted as president of ISKCON's Bombay branch, so he has centered most of his work on that city. Among his other responsibilities, Giriraja helps coordinate the Indian affairs of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust and ISKCON's life membership program.
Despite many hardships, from the very beginning Giriraja has guided the construction of ISKCON's new guest house-restaurant-temple complex in Bombay. Set to open in April of 1977 the new structure is both well-styled and well-located (just off Juhu, one of the world's most enchanting beaches). And with its diorama display (highlighting great Vedic personalities and events) and its theater for transcendental cinema and drama, ISKCON's new Bombay complex promises to become a world cultural center.
A brief look at the worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
Birthday Celebration: Krsna Takes the Cake
On August 18, thousands of Los Angeles residents saw Lord Krsna's birthday celebration, both in person (at ISKCON's Los Angeles center) and on television. Three stations and the Los Angeles Times covered this commemoration of Krsna's appearance on earth.
The event climaxed with a special gift to Lord Krsna: a half-ton cake shaped like an ancient Indian palace, complete with domes and balconies, colored lights, nectar-showering fountains, and gingerbread elephants. (The edible edifice took five days to make and ten days to eat.) Aside from the cake, the devotees offered the Lord 745 dishes; so there was plenty for everyone.
Inside and outside the temple, transcendental bands played and sang the Lord's glories. Also, the festival featured a butter-churning contest (right) and exhibits of transcendental sculpture, paintings, and books. Similar celebrations took place at other ISKCON centers worldwide.
Spiritual Classic Now Available in Chinese
For the first time ever, the nearly one billion residents of China can read an authorized translation of the Bhagavad-gita. Srila Prabhupada commented that the publication, on June 1, of the first six chapters of the Chinese Bhagavad-gita As It Is (translation from the English by Yasomati-suta dasa) was "a great triumph in the effort to spread Krsna consciousness all over the world." Distribution of the new book in Hong Kong and Taiwan has begun.
New ISKCON Center at Himalayan Foothills
ISKCON devotees have opened a new center in Candigarh, the capital city of the northwest Indian states of Punjab and Harayana, at the base of the Himalayan mountains. At present, the fledgling center boasts only five members (including president Caityaguru dasa), all from India, England, and America. Despite this shortage of manpower, the residents have responded to Krsna consciousness enthusiastically. Both the Governor of Punjab and the Chief Minister of Harayana have declared publicly that they will assist the Krsna conscious movement in every way possible.
Transcendental Safari Through African Northeast
Recently, Jagatguru Svami and several other devotees journeyed through the African states of Kenya, Ethiopia, Somaliland, French Afar, and Sudan to chant Hare Krsna and give classes on the Bhagavad-gita As It Is. The people of northern Sudan found Krsna consciousness particularly attractive, and the devotees plan to return to that area soon.
Sociologists Speak Highly of Bhaktivedanta Book Trust Publications
Dr. Elwin H. Powell, Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York (Buffalo), recently made this evaluation of Bhagavad-gita As It Is: "While I would not presume to assess the metaphysical validity of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, I would urge my fellow sociologists to examine the work as a possible key to understanding what Sorokin called 'ideational cultures.' This transcendental mysticism from the East is now taking root in the 'counter-cultures' of the West and providing, for many, a way out of the anomie—the wilderness—of a disintegrating civilization."
And Dr. C. L. Spreadbury, Professor of Sociology at Stephen F. Austin University, remarked, "The Srimad-Bhagavatam and Sri Isopanisad provide insight into the culture of India in a way which ordinary textbooks cannot do for sociologists. These books provide insight into sociology of religion, stratification, and control without ever needing to use those particular words. The books are not only beautiful, but also relevant to our times as we as a nation search for new cultural patterns for our way of life."
In the last eleven years, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has circled the globe thirteen times to talk on Krsna consciousness with disciples, reporters, professors, and public officials. What follows is a sampling of highlights from Srila Prabhupada's tour of America this summer.
On June 1 Srila Prabhupada arrived in Los Angeles, and he spent ten days at ISKCON's world headquarters there before flying to Detroit. At Detroit's ISKCON center he met with Mr. George Gullen, president of Wayne State University.
Mr. Gullen: I think we are terribly caught up in things not of the spirit.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Material things, like your body or my body, are temporary. They will not last. The body has taken birth at a certain date, it will endure for a certain number of years, and then it will be finished. But the spirit—that will continue. It will accept another body. Just as I gave up my childhood body and accepted the body of a boy, then gave up my boyhood body and accepted the body of a young man, similarly, my present body (I am now an old man) will soon be finished, and I will accept another body. So the spirit soul is eternal and the body is temporary. We are taking care of the body very much, and that is required, but what about the spirit soul? This education is lacking.
Mr. Gullen: Yes, this is true.
Srila Prabhupada: The human body is especially important because, unlike the cats and dogs, it has complete consciousness by which we can understand God. Therefore, if we do not use this developed consciousness for understanding God and our relationship with Him, then we are no better than cats and dogs. The distinction between animals and man is that we can be educated about God. But modern education is keeping people in ignorance about God. It is keeping them on the level of cats and dogs. And how can you have peace among cats and dogs? If you bring all the dogs of your city together, will they sit down peacefully? No, it is not possible. So, if we keep our citizens on the level of cats and dogs, how can we expect peace? The leaders of society must take to Krsna consciousness, or God consciousness, if they are serious about the advancement of civilization.
Mr. Gullen: We do not teach these things in public schools because we do not know about them.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Now you must decide whether to remain in ignorance or learn this science and teach it. This Krsna consciousness is not sectarian; it is a science for the whole human society.
Mr. Gullen: Personally, I would like to learn more. I think this is good for the whole world. It is needed.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, the opportunity of the human form of life must be utilized for self-realization. There is no alternative; otherwise, human life will be spoiled. Suppose a person is due to receive his father's money. If someone checks him so that he does not get it, that's a heinous act. The actual inheritor must get it; that is justice. Similarly, in this human form of life one can receive education about God. If it is lacking, then one misses the opportunity to fulfill the mission of human life. Then, after death, there is a chance of falling down into the lower species of life. Although anyone can see that the body is changing at every moment, even highly educated men don't believe the soul continues after death. If one does not understand this simple truth, he is not even a gentleman, what to speak of a learned scholar.
Mr. Gullen: Thank you.
June 12. Michigan state congressman Jackie Vaughn works in Detroit's inner city to improve relationships between blacks and whites. He talked with Srila Prabhupada about some of the city's social problems.
Congressman Vaughn: I have been trying to do good to people, especially poor people.
Srila Prabhupada: Everyone tries to help others. The cat is anxious to give protection to her kittens. The birds bring food to their offspring, and the little ones are so engladdened when the mother comes: "Here is food! Here is food!" So this sentiment of doing good is also there in the animals, but these are not actual welfare activities. Animals are interested only in their body, while humans are interested in the extensions of their body—wife, children, society, community, or the whole nation. When there is some national crisis, the separate communities forget their small interests and lay down their lives for the nation. In this way there is progress, but this progress is not perfection. If you water the branches of a tree, someone else waters the leaves, someone the fruits, someone the twigs—it is all imperfect. One who waters the root is perfect. And the root is God. Otherwise, all partial endeavors are a failure. The history of the world shows different nations trying for their separate interests, and all unsuccessful in the end.
Congressman Vaughn: It appears that progress is slow in improving black-and-white relationships. I guess it's because we're not taking first things first.
Srila Prabhupada: That means we're acting in ignorance. We do not know what is the first thing. But if we pour water on the root, that is, if we make God the center of our activities, then everything is all right. Otherwise, it is a failure.
In America a common slogan is "In God we trust." But unless we know scientifically how God is the only trustworthy person, how can we trust in Him? If I do not know what God is, how can I trust in Him? So everything should be understood scientifically. We should study what God is and how we should put our faith and trust in Him. Krsna consciousness teaches this science of God. The government should cooperate with us in teaching the people the science of God.
June 15. Today, Srila Prabhupada received a visit from Monsignor Clement Kern and Rev. Edward L. Scheuerman. The priests expressed their concern about the worldwide lack of God consciousness.
Srila Prabhupada: People in general are out of God consciousness. Is this not so?
Msgr. Kern: Yes, I would agree. Consciousness of God is definitely on the wane. It is difficult even to speak about God. There is no willingness to listen.
Srila Prabhupada: Why have people come to this condition? They are not prepared even to hear about God. A priest in Boston said to me, "Your disciples come from Christian and Jewish families. Yet they were not coming to our church. They never inquired about God. But now the same boys and girls are mad after God." In Los Angeles we purchased a big church. It was vacant; no one was coming. But now, although the church is the same and the people are the same (residents of Los Angeles), it is always packed.
Msgr. Kern: Hopefully, that is a sign that young people are seeking to change their lives for the better.
Devotee: The reason why Krsna consciousness attracts us, whereas Western religion did not, is that Srila Prabhupada is giving specific information about the Supreme Person—not just that God is great, but how God is great, what His name is, what His form is. Generally, this information is lacking. But the Vedic books give specific information about God.
Msgr. Kern: God reveals Himself to us in many ways, but many people do not wish to see Him.
Srila Prabhupada: There is one verse in the Bhagavad-gita [7.28] which says that those who are addicted to sinful life cannot understand God. Therefore, sinful activities must be stopped. If you allow people to continue their sinful activities, how can you expect them to understand God? How can you expect that God will be revealed to them? It is not possible.
Father Scheuerman: Yes, I agree. We, too, see sin as that which separates us from God.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, because people are entangled in sinful activities, they are unable to understand God. And one of the worst sins in human society is animal killing. There is a verse in the Srimad-Bhagavatam [10.1.4] that states, "The glorification of the Lord is done by the liberated person. Such glorification is so sublime. Therefore, who except the animal killer can refrain from glorification of the Lord?"
So human beings should stop killing animals and learn to cooperate with each other. In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna orders that human society must be divided into four divisions, and that they should cooperate to understand God. Just as in our body we have the head, the arms, the belly, and the legs, and all the parts cooperate for maintaining the body, so society should also have a "head," "arms," and so forth.
Father Scheuerman: So, you are seeking to train the intelligent men to be first-class so that they can teach others?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Here are the qualities of a first-class man: peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, wisdom, knowledge, and religiousness [Bg. 18.42].
Father Scheuerman: Yes, these are worthy goals.
Srila Prabhupada: So where is the institution that is teaching this? Most institutions teach technology. But if there are no first-class men—no brain in society—who will guide the others, the hands and legs?
Father Scheuerman: Yes. Jesus said, "Seek first the kingdom of heaven, and all other things will be added."
Srila Prabhupada: If the first-class man is at the head of society, everything will be done properly.
Father Scheuerman: What about the downtrodden, the poor?
Srila Prabhupada: A man is really poor when he is in ignorance. The food problem can be solved. In America, Australia, Africa there is so much land lying vacant. Men are not engaged in growing food grains, but are instead brought to Detroit to manufacture automobiles.
Father Scheuerman: You want to correct the problems of the world by the indirect approach—by training men who will be qualified to execute a solution. We believe in direct, person-to-person help—feeding the hungry.
Srila Prabhupada: In Bengal we are daily supplying at least one thousand people with food. Here in Detroit, and at all our other centers, we feed everyone who comes.
Father Scheuerman: So you utilize the direct approach as well.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Anyone who comes is getting not only food and shelter but also spiritual education. We are teaching people to be first-class, how to avoid being implicated in sinful activity. I have not imported these boys and girls from India. They are all recruited here.
Father Scheuerman: Your Eastern program seems to have great appeal for young people.
Srila Prabhupada: It is not Eastern or Western. To become peaceful—is that Eastern or Western? Peaceful is peaceful. Krsna consciousness is meant for everyone.
June 16. Srila Prabhupada flew to Toronto, where his disciples gave him a warm reception at the airport. The following day, Kathy Kerr of the Toronto Star asked Srila Prabhupada to explain what the Krsna consciousness movement is.
Kathy Kerr: I understand that your movement is an extension of the Hindu religion.
Srila Prabhupada: No, that is not correct. You will not even find the word Hindu in the Vedic scriptures. Real religion, or dharma, is not a kind of faith. It is the eternal characteristic of all living entities. It is compared to a chemical composition. For example, the chemical composition of sugar makes it sweet. If something is pungent, you can know for sure that it is not sugar. Similarly, the eternal characteristic of all living entities is the same—to serve the Supreme Lord—and the Vedic system is meant to train human beings to come to this ultimate goal of life. That system is called the varnasrama-dharma, which gradually trains one how to be a perfect human being and understand the goal of life. It is not for a particular sect or nation, but for the whole human society.
Kathy Kerr: How do you teach people to become perfect?
Srila Prabhupada: The first thing is to understand our spiritual identification—we are not this body. But at present everyone all over the world is under the bodily concept of life. This misconception is the defect of modern civilization. They are taking care of the body but have no information of the soul, the living force within the body. The whole human society is going on in ignorance, so we are trying to give knowledge. Our books are being well received; we are printing and distributing millions. This is our service, and it is meant for all human beings, not just Hindus or Christians or Muslims. Krsna consciousness is a science meant for everyone. I have not come to preach Hinduism. What is the use of changing Christians to Hindus? We want to make all human beings perfect in knowledge.
Kathy Kerr: Is there more than one way to do this?
Srila Prabhupada: There is only one way: to realize our spiritual identity. A spirit soul is within you and within me. Your skin may be white and mine may be colored, but within, the soul is the same. And there is a process to understand the soul. It is very simple: you were once a child, but now that body is gone. So where is that child's body? You have changed bodies, but you are the same. Why can't people understand this simple truth? Suppose I see you in this dress, and the next day I see you in another dress. If I know you, I will not be confused; I will know that you have simply changed your dress. Similarly, we are changing our bodily "dress" from child to youth to adult. Medical science confirms that our body is changing at every moment.
Kathy Kerr: Does that mean you deny your body?
Srila Prabhupada: No. Your dress is not unimportant, but you are more important than your dress.
Kathy Kerr: Would you say that your movement is more educational than religious?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, it is educational. It is also a religion, but not a man-made religion. As I have explained, the soul is the same everywhere, just as sugar is the same whether you are in Europe or America. The soul is suffering because of the material body. We are teaching everyone how to get out of the material body and stay in the original, spiritual body.
Kathy Kerr: Why is there so much attraction to this movement?
Srila Prabhupada: Because we are giving the real spiritual facts. We do not bluff by saying "Meditate and become God." Krsna consciousness is the science of how to understand God, how to understand yourself, and how to reestablish your relationship with God.
June 18. Professor Sivaraman of McMaster University asked Srila Prabhupada, "Do you think that bhakti [devotion to God] is the solution to the problems of the world? "Here is Prabhupada's answer:
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Bhakti is your natural position. You are protected, and God is the protector. That is a fact. You cannot live a moment without His protection. Therefore, your real identification is that you are the eternal servant of Krsna.
The relationship between God and us is like the relationship between a father and his children. The father's duty is to maintain the children, and the children's duty is to remain obedient to the father. That is bhakti. Then the family is peaceful. Modern civilization is missing the father. They see only the children and the mother, the material nature. The root cause of all problems is that we are missing the father. Our research work cannot help us understand the father. One must take knowledge through the Vedas to understand. Here in the Bhagavad-gita the Supreme Father personally comes to teach. Krsna says, "I am the Supreme Father."
June 21. Srila Prabhupada arrived in New Vrindavan, ISKCON's thousand-acre farm in Moundsville, West Virginia. Here are some of his opening words to the devotees there:
Srila Prabhupada: The prominent trend in modern civilization is to improve the economic condition—in other words, to improve the standard of sense gratification. Lower grades of life, like aquatics, insects, birds, and beasts, are only interested in sense enjoyment—eating, sleeping, sex, and defense. And we mistakenly think that our standard of happiness is higher than that of these other living entities. But in any kind of sex life, whether between dogs or between human beings, the pleasure is the same. Don't think that when the dogs enjoy sex life on the public street, their pleasure is any less than ours when we have sex life in a luxurious apartment. No. The pleasure is the same. We think that our pleasure in eating nice food is greater then the pig's pleasure in eating stool. But no, the pig is also getting the same pleasure. So economic development cannot improve the quality of pleasure. That is not possible.
Therefore, economic development is unnecessary. By God's arrangement everything is provided for. As anyone can see, He is providing for all the animals, from the ant to the elephant; and they are not endeavoring for economic development. So does that mean we don't have to work? No. We must work, but not for eating, sleeping, sex life, and defense. Rather, we must work for Krsna and try to understand Krsna. The human being's business is to understand Krsna. If you don't try to understand Krsna but simply try to improve your eating, this is not civilization. The Krsna consciousness movement is presenting a new life for civilization: how to become a servant of Krsna. After that, everything else will come automatically.
June 30. Mike Darby of the Wheeling Intelligencer talked with Srila Prabhupada about religionists who don't believe in God, and about scientists who believe that life comes from chemicals.
Mike Darby: I understand that your movement is trying to educate people.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. We are just coming from Detroit. They have so many factories there for automobiles, but nothing to educate people to the right path.
Mike Darby: Aren't the Christians also trying to guide people along the spiritual path?
Srila Prabhupada: The Christians are passing resolutions according to time and circumstances, and they are changing the instructions of the Bible. How can they be called followers of Christ? For example, the Bible states, "Thou shall not kill." But the Christians are killing; they are maintaining slaughterhouses. Why? It is clearly stated in the Commandments, "Thou shall not kill." So what is their qualification? If they are violating the law themselves, how can they guide anyone?
Mike Darby: I have met people who call themselves Christians, but who deny the existence of God.
Srila Prabhupada: Not only Christians, but the whole world is now denying God. Religion has become a subject for laughter, and if someone is God conscious, he is considered fool number one—not very advanced. The rascal scientists think in this way, and they bluff you into believing that life is produced from chemicals. But when we challenge them, "Can you make an egg with chemicals and put it in the incubator until a chicken hatches?" they will not answer. Anyone can see the composition of an egg—a little white and yellow substance. There are many chemicals that are white, and many that are yellow. We challenge the scientists to combine the right ones into an egg, put a shell around it, and produce a chicken. They cannot do this, and they will never be able to do it. But still they assert that life is coming from chemicals, and people accept this bluff.
Mike Darby: The scientists say life comes from chemicals, but they haven't begun to prove it.
Srila Prabhupada: Actually, any sane man can understand that life is not produced from chemicals. He simply has to analyze his body to try to find out the source of life. The first analysis is the breathing. Suppose a man has just died. Someone may say, "Because his breathing has stopped, he is dead." But what is this breathing? Simply air. With a machine you can make air pass through his lungs, but will that bring him back to life? Similarly, you can analyze anything—the blood, the skin, the muscles, the bone, the stool, the urine—but you will fail to find the source of life. Then why do the scientists say life is a combination of chemicals? Can they take all the elements of the body and produce another body? They are talking nonsense, and foolish people are accepting. And they are being paid a high salary for this at the cost of the taxpayer.
Now they claim to have gone to the moon. Whether they have actually gone is doubtful, but in any case, why are they coming back again? That is our challenge. If they have gone to the moon, they should colonize there. Why come back to the earth? Why not live there? Then the overpopulation problem will be solved, and they can start their industry, drill for oil, and so on. Why do they not do that? They simply spend billions of dollars and bluff people into thinking that they have gone to the moon. And the people are so satisfied that now they are paying for another excursion to Mars.
Mike Darby: Scientists say the moon's atmosphere is unsuitable for life.
Srila Prabhupada: Then why do the rascals spend so much money to go there?
Mike Darby: To impress the people.
Srila Prabhupada: That means they are bluffers, and people are so foolish that they do not challenge them. Now they are going to Mars to bring back some more dust and rock at the taxpayers' expense. They are spending so much money for nothing! If one tenth of the money was given to us to spread Krsna consciousness, not a single penny would be wasted. But no, they would rather spend millions of dollars to bring back some dust. Is that a very sane government? Why don't the people challenge the government? They have this power. When they found that they had been cheated by Nixon—that he had captured the presidential post for his own satisfaction—they agitated and got him down. The people are blind, and they are being led by blind leaders. The result is catastrophe.
July 3. After a short flight, Srila Prabhupada arrived at the ISKCON center in Washington, D.C. In his quarters there he talked again about scientists, this time with Sadaputa dasa, one of his Ph.D. -holding disciples.
Sadaputa dasa: Many scientists claim that life comes from the molecules of a primordial chemical soup made of water, ammonia, and hydrocarbons, and influenced by ultraviolet radiation. After the radiation has bombarded the chemicals for a long time, amino acids, then proteins, form by chance. In other words, the scientists say life is the result of chance molecular forces acting over a long time span.
Srila Prabhupada: They would have us wait millions of years before life comes. But I can see practically that after a bird lays an egg, life comes within a week. A bird can create life within a week, but a scientist will say, "Oh, no, it takes millions of years."
Sadaputa dasa: Yes. This theory—that life comes from molecules—makes life appear meaningless, and therefore we feel it is the root cause of the moral breakdown we are experiencing in society today.
Srila Prabhupada: We don't condemn the scientists. We say, "Take credit for as much as you like, but do not deny the existence of God. You have created the 747 jet. All right, take the credit. But you can't create a mosquito. A mosquito is nothing but a small airplane, with a pilot. So just admit that there is a supreme creator. You cannot see Him, but He exists nonetheless."
July 5. Mr. David Loomis, Presbyterian minister and chaplain at the University of Maryland, came to see Srila Prabhupada.
Srila Prabhupada: Our philosophy is that endeavors for material happiness result in loss of time and energy, with no actual profit. But endeavor for Krsna consciousness results in self-realization, the highest goal of life. In Indian civilization there are so many books of knowledge, vast libraries—but there is no instruction for starting factories and industries. This drinking, gambling, meat-eating, and prostitution only help us to forget the real business of life.
Mr. Loomis: I see that this room is pleasing. It is tastefully decorated. So, when is sense gratification helpful?
Srila Prabhupada: Only when it is absolutely necessary. Take sleeping, for instance. Sleeping is required because the material body must rest. But sleeping is a waste of time: as long as you sleep, you cannot do any work. Therefore, sleep should be minimized. That is austerity: to voluntarily accept some hardship for the advancement of spiritual life. Eating, sleeping, sex, and defense should all be minimized by practice. And the more we minimize these, the more we can advance in spiritual life.
Mr. Loomis: Why is it better to have a human body than a dog's body?
Srila Prabhupada: Because you can utilize the human body for a higher purpose. Since you have a human body, you are sitting here and listening to me. A dog cannot hear about spiritual life. Therefore, the human body should be engaged in inquiring about the Absolute Truth. Unfortunately, in the modern civilization people are only interested in the comforts of the body.
July 7. Author Bill Sauber and Dr. Dinesh Sharma, of the National Institute of Art, talked with Srila Prabhupada about travel to other planets.
Bill Sauber: I met your disciples in the airport, and I found the things they said interesting. I agree with you that human society has to adopt a life-style that is a little simpler. We cannot use our material resources unnecessarily. Also, I spoke to the devotees about going to other planets. This, I think, is very important.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, it is possible to go to other planets. You can go to the higher planets, where the duration of life is very long. Our six months is equal to one day there. And everyone there lives ten thousand years composed of such days. But they also die; life is not permanent there, either. Although the standard of life is very high, there is still birth, death, old age, and disease. But if you transfer yourself to the spiritual world, then you do not get another material body. You do not die.
Bill Sauber: Don't you have to carry your material body to other planets?
Srila Prabhupada: That is in the material world. But we each have a spiritual body, without any material covering. With it you can transfer to the spiritual world. Everything in the material world will be destroyed, but there is another nature, a spiritual world, where you don't require this material body. There you remain in your spiritual body.
[At this point Drs. Sharma and Sauber began a short discussion of their ideas and philosophies.]
Do not try to understand the inconceivable by argument. In whatever way we go on arguing, we cannot come to a conclusion. In Krsna consciousness our process is to take knowledge from the authority. The modern scientists and philosophers argue, but they come to no conclusion. They are just like two lawyers arguing in court: no conclusion is reached until the decision is given by the authority, the judge. And his decision they have to accept. It is final. So we accept the authority of Krsna, who is accepted as the authority by all the acaryas [spiritual teachers] and the sastras [scriptures]. His authority is confirmed, and if we take His conclusions then we benefit. Otherwise, if we go on arguing with our limited knowledge, we cannot understand the conclusion. If you are perplexed, you should accept the proper authority. And that is Krsna.
Before leaving the United States for ISKCON's European headquarters, near London, Srila Prabhupada stopped to visit the Hare Krishna Building, in New York. On July 16. George Orwell of Associated Press came to do an interview.
Mr. Orwell: Are you saying that this material life is like an evil prison, and that the real goal is another life?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Now you have understood. This material life, with its repeated birth, disease, old age, and death, is not a desirable life. To live in this jail is not desirable.
Mr. Orwell: In other words, in a sense, one should repudiate this life, this world.
Srila Prabhupada: Not repudiate—understand.
Mr. Orwell: That it is not a good life?
Srila Prabhupada: That it is not a good life. The material world means false identification of the body with the self.
Mr. Orwell: Well, isn't it important to try to improve this life so it won't be a prison?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, and to improve it means to understand that I am not a person of the jail; I am a person of freedom. The trouble is that, after living in the jail for a long time, one tends to think, "Outside the jail I cannot live."
Mr. Orwell: Well, I hope we all get out of it somehow, some way.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, and that is why we are trying to educate the prisoners: "Your life is not perfect within the jail. Your perfect life is outside the jail." This is our education.
Mr. Orwell: Life cannot be perfect in the jail?
Srila Prabhupada: No, but when we try to instruct them, the persons in the jail are thinking, "What is this? He is not working to improve the jail life?" They are such fools and rascals that they cannot understand that one can live outside the jail.
Mr. Orwell: If you are not working for the jail life, why are you here?
Srila Prabhupada: Suppose a man has gone to jail and he becomes reformed. He may take up the task of giving education to the prisoners: "My dear brothers, this life is not good. Become honest. Then you will be released from jail and not have to return." So the other prisoners are working hard. They are hammering bricks. But instead of taking his advice, they resent him: "This man is not hammering bricks. He is only talking."
Mr. Orwell: In other words, you think people should get away from what they are doing in the world?
Srila Prabhupada: No, don't misunderstand. As long as you are in the jail, you have to work according to the principles of the jail. But you must know that jail life is not good, that it is not all in all.
Mr. Orwell: Well, when you get through instructing the men hammering the bricks, are they going to lay down their hammers, too?
Srila Prabhupada: No, they don't need to. Try to understand. They may continue hammering, but their knowledge will be complete. At least they must know, "This hammering is not our real business; it is our punishment." That is knowledge.
Mr. Orwell: Isn't that a rather negative way to look at it?
Srila Prabhupada: Why negative? That is a positive understanding. If you are suffering, and I say, "Don't suffer," is that negative, or is that positive?
Mr. Orwell: Why is work in the world necessarily suffering? It is a mixture of pain and joy. It seems negative to look upon it as all punishment.
Srila Prabhupada: That is why people are envious of Krsna conscious men. People say, "These men are not hammering like us. They must think there is no value in our hammering." In this way, most people think hammering is the real business of life. So, our business is to educate them: "Your hammering is not your real business. Freedom is your real business."
Turned away by his father King Uttanapada, five-year-old Dhruva craved an even greater kingdom: "My only desire is to occupy a post within this universe more exalted than that yet achieved by anyone else."
It was millions of years ago, just after the creation of the universe. Uttanapada, the king of the earth, was relaxing in the royal chambers with Suruci, his favorite of two queens. Suddenly Suruci's little son Uttama climbed onto the king's lap, and the king patted him with fatherly affection. Just then another young boy tried to climb onto the king's lap. He was Dhruva, the son of Suniti, the other queen. Although the king loved his sons equally, just to please Queen Suruci he refused to welcome Dhruva. Then, with great pride and malice. Queen Suruci rebuked Dhruva in the very presence of the king.
"My dear child," she said to Dhruva, "although surely you are also the king's son, because you are not born of my womb you do not deserve to sit on the king's lap, nor on the royal throne. If you desire the throne, you must first satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead Vasudeva [another name for Krsna, meaning "the owner of everything"] by undergoing severe austerities. Then, when He favors you, you shall still have to die and take birth in my womb before r being crowned emperor of the world."
Just as a snake breathes heavily when hit by a stick, so Dhruva, stricken by the strong words of his stepmother, was breathing heavily out of great anger. When he saw that his father was silent and did not protest, Dhruva immediately left the palace and went to his real mother, Queen Suniti.
When Dhruva reached his mother, his lips were trembling in anger, and he was crying grievously. Queen Suniti lifted her son onto her lap and listened attentively as the palace residents, who had heard Suruci's harsh words, related everything to her. Suniti quickly lost her composure and became like a leaf burning in the forest fire of grief.
Lamenting and breathing heavily, Suniti addressed Dhruva. "My dear son, don't become vengeful, for if you inflict pain on others, you yourself will suffer from that pain. What Suruci said is true. Your father is ashamed of me. He doesn't consider me his wife, or even his maidservant. It's a fact—you took birth in the womb of an unfortunate woman. Suruci told you to worship the lotus feet of Lord Vasudeva. So, if you want to sit on the same throne as your stepbrother Uttama, you must immediately execute Queen Suruci's instructions. Take shelter of Lord Vasudeva, who is very kind to His devotees, and worship Him. Lord Vasudeva is so kind to His devotees that if you go to Him, then the combined kindness of millions of mothers like me would be surpassed by His affectionate and tender dealings. When everything else fails, Vasudeva is able to help His devotee. I can see that only He can mitigate your distress."
Considering his mother's instructions carefully, Dhruva immediately fixed his determination and left the palace to seek out God.
Soon the news of Dhruva's quest reached the wandering sage Narada, a pure devotee of the Lord. He was struck with wonder at the young lad's fierce determination, but he wanted to test Dhruva's strength of purpose for himself. So Narada went to Dhruva, touched the boy's head with his all-virtuous hand, and spoke to him.
"My dear boy," Narada said, "you are only a child, attached to sports and other frivolities. Why are you so affected by words insulting your honor? Don't be dissatisfied. The ways of Lord Krsna are very wonderful. Therefore, an intelligent person accepts his destiny and is satisfied with whatever comes, be it favorable or unfavorable. Besides, the process of yoga you have chosen to perform is very difficult, even for experienced mystics. It is better that you go home."
But Dhruva could not accept the words of the saint. "My dear lordship," he said, "you have kindly explained how to attain peace of mind. It is a good instruction. But I am covered by ignorance, and that kind of philosophy does not touch my heart. I know I am very impudent to reject your advice, but it isn't my fault. It is because I was born in a family of warriors. With the arrows of her harsh words my stepmother has pierced my heart, so your valuable instructions cannot stay there. My only desire is to occupy a post within this universe more exalted than that yet achieved by anyone else. Therefore, O learned sage, please tell me of an honest path I may follow to achieve the goal of my life."
Dhruva's words pleased Narada and evoked his compassion. The saint said, "Your mother's instruction to serve Lord Vasudeva with devotion is actually just suitable for you. You should completely absorb yourself in His service in the following way. First, go to the bank of the Yamuna River, in the forest of Madhuvana, for there it will be very easy for you to become purified. Bathe thrice daily, and after each bath sit calmly and practice the three kinds of breathing exercises. Then meditate patiently on the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Vasudeva.
"The Lord's face is very beautiful and pleasing in its attitude. He never looks displeased, and He always awards benedictions to His devotees. His eyes, nicely decorated eyebrows, raised nose, and broad forehead are all very beautiful. His entire body is decorated, and He wears a valuable jeweled helmet and yellow silk garments. Indeed, in every way the Lord is very pleasing to the eyes and mind of the beholder."
When Narada finished speaking, Dhruva accepted the sage as his spiritual master and bowed down at his feet. Then he went to Madhuvana forest by the bank of the Yamuna to execute devotional service. Meanwhile, Narada went to the palace of King Uttanapada and assured Dhruva's father, who was distraught at the disappearance of his son, that the boy was under the protection of Lord Krsna. Hearing this, the king gave up all his duties and simply thought of his son Dhruva.
In the forest, Dhruva began to worship the Lord just as Narada had instructed. During the first month, Dhruva ate only fruits and berries every third day—just enough to keep his body and soul together. In the second month, he ate only dry grass and leaves every sixth day, and he continued his worship of Lord Krsna. During the third month, he remained completely in trance, meditating on the form of Lord Vasudeva and chanting the prescribed mantra. In this month his only food was water—and that only every ninth day. In the fourth month, having become a complete master of the yogic breathing exercises, Dhruva lived only on air. Every twelfth day he would inhale and exhale, and this was how he sustained himself. Finally, by the fifth month, Dhruva had controlled his breathing so perfectly that he was able to stand motionless on one leg and concentrate his mind fully on the Supreme.
When Dhruva thus captured in his heart the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is the refuge of the total material creation and the master of all living entities, the universe began to tremble. Just as when hundreds of people are sitting in a flying airplane, they each share in the total force of the airplane, so when Dhruva's minute energy was perfectly identified with the Lord's through pure devotional service, his energy became as powerful as the total cosmic energy. Thus, the pressure of Dhruva's big toe pushed down half the earth, just as an elephant being carried on a boat rocks the boat left and right with his every step. Also, Dhruva's severely restricted breathing choked the cosmic breathing process. At this time all the demigods became greatly dismayed and prayed to Lord Krsna for help.
After reassuring the demigods, the Lord traveled to the Madhuvana forest on the back of His great winged carrier, Garuda. When the Lord arrived, Dhruva was standing there in meditation. He could not at first perceive the Lord externally, for he was deeply absorbed in contemplating the Lord's form within his mind. Suddenly, Dhruva could no longer see the Lord in his heart. The lad became perturbed, and his meditation broke. But as soon as he opened his eyes he saw the Supreme Personality of Godhead before him, just as he had been seeing Him in his heart. Overwhelmed with divine ecstasy, Dhruva fell prostrate at the Lord's feet. Dhruva wanted to glorify the Lord with suitable prayers, although, being a small boy, he did not know how. Knowing Dhruva's desire, the Lord touched His conchshell to the boy's forehead and imparted to him the transcendental inspiration known as brahma-maya. Thereupon, Dhruva understood the Absolute Truth and His relationship with all living beings, and he offered Lord Krsna his deliberate and conclusive prayers.
"My Lord, by Your unbroken transcendental glance You are the Supreme witness of all intellectual activities. You are eternally liberated, You exist in the state of pure goodness as the changeless Supersoul, You are the original Personality of Godhead (full with six opulences), and You are eternally the master of the three modes of material nature. Thus, You are always different from the ordinary living entities. As Lord Visnu, You maintain all the affairs of the entire universe, yet You stand aloof and enjoy the results of all sacrifices."
Hearing the sincere praise of Dhruva, Lord Krsna said to him, "My dear Dhruva, son of King Uttanapada, you have piously executed your vows. I know the desire within your heart. It is an ambitious desire, very difficult to achieve, yet I shall favor you with its fulfillment. After you depart from your present body, I shall award you the glowing planet known as the Pole Star, which outlasts even the universal dissolution at the end of each millenium. Until then, you will rule this earthly planet for thirty-six thousand years after your father goes to the forest in his old age. During all that time, your senses will stay as strong as they are now; you will never grow old. You will enjoy the blessings of material happiness in this life, and at the time of your death you will remember Me and come to Me, never to return to this material world."
Having bestowed these benedictions upon Dhruva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead left the Madhuvana forest on the back of Garuda and returned to His own abode.
However, Dhruva was not very happy. He was ashamed of the material demands he had held in his mind when the Lord appeared before him. "Alas!" he thought. "Just see how unfortunate I am! I approached the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, who can cut the chain of repetition of birth and death—but still, out of foolishness, I prayed for perishable things. With my materialistic vision of duality, I saw my brother as my enemy, and I lamented within my heart. I am like the ignorant pauper who begged the emperor for a few broken grains of husked rice, even after the emperor had offered him anything he wanted." Thinking in this way, Dhruva made his way back to his father's palace.
King Uttanapada, who had feared that Dhruva was dead, considered himself the most wretched person for having rebuffed his son. So, when a messenger came from Narada to inform him of Dhruva's imminent return, the king could hardly believe the news. Very eager to see the face of his lost son, he mounted a chariot, gathered a procession of his family and attendants, and left the city to greet Dhruva. On seeing the boy approaching from a distance, the king got down from his chariot in great haste and went to meet him. Breathing heavily, King Uttanapada at last embraced Dhruva. But Dhruva had changed; now he was completely sanctified by the spiritual touch of Lord Krsna's lotus feet.
Then Dhruva's mother and brother welcomed him back with tears of ecstasy. Even his stepmother Suruci appreciated his innocence. With tears of sincere feeling, she blessed him. "My dear boy, long may you live!"
As Dhruva entered the capital city, the residents praised him jubilantly. They had decorated the entire city with columns of banana and betel nut trees, as well as bunches of fruits and flowers. At every gate there were burning lamps and large water pots adorned with multicolored cloths, strings of pearls, flower garlands, and hanging mango leaves. The domes of the city's palaces glittered, as did the domes of the beautiful airplanes hovering over the capital.
In time, King Uttanapada enthroned Dhruva as emperor of the world. Then the old king detached himself from worldly affairs and entered the forest. Soon Dhruva Maharaja and his two queens, Bhrami and Ila, raised a very beautiful family. But tragedy struck when Dhruva Maharaja's brother Uttama met his death in the Himalayan mountains, at the hands of a Yaksa tribesman. Soon afterward, Suruci went to search out her missing son, but she died in a forest fire.
When he heard of his brother's death, Dhruva Maharaja was overwhelmed with grief and anger. Desiring revenge, he mounted his invincible chariot and set out single-handed for the Yaksas' city Alakapuri, in the Himalayas. As soon as he reached Alakapuri he blew his conchshell. The sound reverberated in all directions, and the wives of the Yaksas became terribly frightened.
Unable to stand the resounding vibration of Dhruva's conchshell, the ferocious Yaksa warriors came forth from their city and attacked Dhruva. When Dhruva began to kill them by shooting three arrows at a time, the Yaksas—130,000 strong—countered by shooting six arrows at a time. Then they began to shower Dhruva, his chariot, and his chariot driver with feathered arrows, iron bludgeons, swords, tridents, lances, pikes, spears, and other weapons. Just as incessant rain covers a mountain, so an incessant shower of weapons covered Dhruva Maharaja.
The sun of King Dhruva seemed to have set within the ocean of Yaksas. But just as the sun suddenly breaks through the fog, so Dhruva's chariot suddenly appeared from within the armies of the Yaksas. When Dhruva's wonderful bow twanged and his arrows hissed, the hearts of his enemies filled with grief. His arrows first scattered their countless weapons, just as a blast of wind scatters clouds; then his arrows pierced the shields and bodies of the enemy, just as thunderbolts pierce mountains. Those Yaksas who somehow survived began fleeing. None of the enemy soldiers stayed in martial formation.
Dhruva Maharaja then desired to see the city of Alakapuri, but he thought to himself, "No one knows the plans of the mystic Yaksas." He waited and talked with his charioteer.
Soon they heard a tremendous sound, as if the entire ocean were rushing upon them, and they saw a great dust storm coming at them from all sides. Within a moment the entire sky became overcast with dense clouds. They heard thunder and saw dazzling lightning, and then a severe rainfall started. But it was not an ordinary rain: falling through the sky were blood, mucus, pus, feces, urine, marrow, and trunks of bodies,
Next, a huge mountain fell from the sky, and from all sides rained hailstones, lances, clubs, swords, and enormous chunks of stone. Dhruva Maharaja also saw groups of mad elephants, lions, and tigers, along with many large, angry-eyed serpents vomiting fire—all coming to devour him.
Finally, as if the end of the universe were at hand, a fierce ocean with foaming waves and great roaring sounds came rushing toward him. Just at that moment, when he was completely overpowered by the illusions that the demoniac Yaksas had conjured up, a company of great sages appeared before Dhruva to encourage him.
"Our dear Dhruva," they said, "may the all-powerful Lord slay all your formidable enemies. You have nothing to fear, for you are a soul surrendered to Him, and you have chanted His holy name: om namo bhagavate vasudevaya. Simply by chanting and hearing the Lord's holy name, anyone can be fully protected from fierce death. Therefore, the all-merciful Lord has already saved you, His dearmost devotee."
Encouraged by the sages' words, Dhruva Maharaja sanctified himself by touching water and then took up a special arrow made by Lord Krsna Himself. As soon as Dhruva joined this arrow to his bow, the apparitions created by the Yaksas disappeared, and golden-shafted arrows with feathers like a swan's wings flew out from his bow. The arrows entered the bodies of the Yaksas with a great hissing sound, just as peacocks enter a forest with tumultuous crowing.
Those sharp arrows dismayed the enemy soldiers; they became almost unconscious. But a few Yaksas managed to collect their forces, and in a great rage they again attacked Dhruva with upraised weapons. But Dhruva Maharaja saw the Yaksas coming and cut them to pieces with his arrows.
At this time, Dhruva's grandfather, the wise and powerful Manu, saw that his grandson was killing many innocent Yaksas who had had nothing to do with his brother Uttama's death. Out of compassion, Manu approached Dhruva to give him good instruction.
"My dear son," Manu said, "please stop. To become unnecessarily angry is not good, for this is the path to hellish life. Now you have gone beyond the limit by killing many offenseless Yaksas. Furthermore, you have angered the demigod Kuvera, who is related with the Yaksas. For these reasons, please stop this killing."
Dhruva Maharaja took his grandfather's kind words to heart and returned to his capital city.
During the rest of his 36,000-year reign, Dhruva rendered devotional service unto Lord Krsna with unrelenting energy. He possessed all godly qualities—he was respectful to the Lord's devotees, very kind to the poor and the innocent, vigilant to uphold religious principles—and thus all the citizens regarded him as their father. In this way, over many, many years, Dhruva favorably executed the duties of a king.
Finally, he handed over the charge of the royal throne to his son. Dhruva realized that the Supreme Lord has created this cosmic manifestation just to bewilder the living entities as a dream or a phantasmagoria would bewilder them. So he left his kingdom, considering his body, his treasury, palaces, and pleasure grounds, his army, friends, wives, and children to be creations of the Lord's illusory energy. Thus, in due course of time he retired to the forest known as Badarikasrama in the Himalayas.
In Badarikasrama King Dhruva fully purified his senses by bathing regularly in the crystal-clear water. Fixing himself in a sitting position, he controlled his breathing and completely withdrew his senses from all external stimuli. Then he concentrated his mind on the form of the Lord and entered into trance.
Because of Dhruva's transcendental bliss, tears flowed incessantly from his eyes, his heart melted, his limbs shivered, and the hairs all over his body stood on end. Transformed by this state of divine ecstasy, Dhruva Maharaja completely forgot about his bodily existence and became liberated from material bondage.
Just then Dhruva saw an exquisite airplane, as big as a house, descending from the sky. It looked as if the full moon were approaching him, illuminating all ten directions. Two beautiful associates of Lord Krsna were in the plane, and seeing that they were personal servants of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Dhruva Maharaja immediately stood up, offered them his respects with folded hands, and chanted the holy names of God.
The two servants of Krsna (named Nanda and Sunanda) addressed Dhruva Maharaja in unison: "Our Lord has deputed us to take you to the spiritual world, where even great sages and demigods cannot go. Please come with us and live there eternally."
To Dhruva these words were as sweet as pouring honey, and he immediately offered his obeisances to the servants of Krsna. Then Dhruva worshiped the airplane, and while he did so he became as brilliant and illuminating as molten gold. Just as Dhruva was boarding the wonderful airplane, death personified approached him. Completely unafraid, however, Dhruva put his feet on the head of death and then boarded the plane.
From the sky, drums sounded and voices sang, and the demigods showered Dhruva with flowers. However, just as the transcendental airplane was about to leave the earth, Dhruva remembered his mother Suniti. He thought, "How can I go to the spiritual world and leave my poor mother behind?" But Nanda and Sunanda understood his mind, and they showed him that Suniti was going forward in another plane.
While Dhruva was passing through space, he saw all the planets of the solar system. Then he passed beyond the seven planetary systems of the great sages, and finally he reached the self-effulgent planets of the spiritual world. Thus, as he had desired, Dhruva had obtained the most exalted post within this universe, the Pole Star. And at last, because of his unflinching service to Lord Krsna, he went back home, back to Godhead.