Back to Godhead Magazine

Volume 11, Number 11, 1976


A short statement of the philosophy of Krsna...
In Any Language
The Transcendental Trend in Science
A Spirited New Theater
The Boar Who Battles for Planet Earth

© 2005 The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International

A short statement of the philosophy of Krsna Consciousness

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
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, 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.

Use back button to return.

Return to top

In Any Language

In any language, isn't communicating what we really care about? And in any spiritual process, isn't God consciousness all that really counts?

Kevin Lahart of Newsday interviews His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

Mr. Lahart: I wonder if you could tell me how you came to found the Krsna consciousness movement here in the United States?

Srila Prabhupada: I was ordered by my spiritual master to do this work, so on his order I came to the U.S. I came alone, with no help or money. Somehow or other I stayed.

Mr. Lahart: How did you attract followers? You landed in New York and—

Srila Prabhupada: My attraction was this chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra. That's all. I had no magic. Others had some sort of magic. I never showed any magic. At Tompkins Square Park I was chanting, and gradually some boys came. First a picture was published by the New York Times. Then we started a branch in San Francisco, later Montreal, Boston, then Los Angeles.

Mr. Lahart: You just chanted at Tompkins Square Park, and people came.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, I chanted under a tree. (I think that a picture was also published in the East Village Other in a very big article.) Naturally, some boys came and joined me and began to dance. That was the beginning.

Mr. Lahart: What did you have to offer them? You were chanting in the park, and they would come up to you and say, "What are you doing? What are you chanting?"

Srila Prabhupada: I would tell them, "Chanting is for spiritual realization. You chant; then gradually you realize your self. You realize that you are a spiritual being and that you are not the body. Then your spiritual life begins." Actually, human life is meant for spiritual realization, but if one does not realize his spiritual identity, then he remains an animal. That is the difference between animals and man. Man is supposed to be spiritually realized.

Mr. Lahart: And how is that spiritual dimension realized?

Srila Prabhupada: First one has to realize that he is not the body; he is spirit soul, and the spirit soul is within the body. The soul means consciousness. It is just like sunshine. The soul is a very small particle, but it is shining as consciousness. And after the annihilation of this body, the spirit soul is transferred to another body. There are 8,400,000 different forms of life, and at the time of death we have to transmigrate to one of these forms. So today I am in an American body or an Indian body,- very comfortably situated, but at the time of death my particular mentality will transfer me to a particular type of body.

The material laws are very subtle. We, the spirit soul, are covered by a gross body and a subtle body. The gross body is made of earth, water, fire, air, and ether, and the subtle body is made of mind, intelligence, and ego. And the spirit soul is within these outward gross and subtle bodies. When the gross body is annihilated, the subtle body—the mind, intelligence, and ego—carries the soul to another body. What kind of body we get depends on what we are thinking at the time of death. An example is given in the scriptures: just as the air carries the aroma of a rose garden or the bad odor of a filthy place, similarly, the mind, intelligence, and ego carry me to a particular type of body according to the thought in which I am absorbed at the time of death.

Mr. Lahart: What are we, ultimately?

Srila Prabhupada: Ultimately you are spirit soul, but, being materially engrossed, you are creating various material situations, and you are being transferred to various material bodies.

Mr. Lahart: For what purpose? What is the final thing?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, unless you become spiritually realized, you cannot know the final thing. The final thing is that we are part and parcel of God. Somehow or other we are entangled in this material atmosphere. So the final stage is to go back home, back to Godhead. Unless we know this and practice how to return back to Godhead, we have to remain within this material world, transmigrating from one body to another. Therefore, human intelligence is meant for understanding your spiritual identity and the goal of life, and acting accordingly. That is the purpose of the Krsna consciousness movement. It is an educational movement to bring people from gross ignorance to the highest enlightenment of spiritual understanding.

Mr. Lahart: Is the educational process internal or external?

Srila Prabhupada: It is internal, but external behavior affects internal inclinations. If you associate with some bad company, then internally also you develop bad propensities, and if you associate with good company, then internally you develop good propensities. So internal and external are interrelated. By external behavior we influence the internal energy, and because of the internal atmosphere we receive our next external body.

Mr. Lahart: You said that your movement brings people "to the highest enlightenment of spiritual understanding." How does that happen?

Srila Prabhupada: Their original, dormant Krsna consciousness is awakened.

Mr. Lahart: So that consciousness is within us, and it needs to be brought out?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes.

Mr. Lahart: And how is that brought out?

Srila Prabhupada: That is brought out by this process of Krsna consciousness-associating with devotees, chanting Hare Krsna, eating prasada [food offered to Lord Krsna], and so forth. You have to undergo some process. A man who is unconscious can again become conscious by some process. If one becomes unconscious, then by another process you can bring him back to consciousness.

Mr. Lahart: Can I ask you a rather long question? Assuming that all human beings have an innate ability to speak, a child will learn Sanskrit, English, French, Chinese, or whatever, depending on the circumstances he finds himself in. Now, if I were Chinese, I would say that Chinese is the best language, while you, as an Indian, might take it differently. So, what is the best way to communicate? Now, in terms of your movement's bringing out God consciousness, which I would compare to the ability to speak, how is your path, your way, better than others?

Srila Prabhupada: There is no question of one process being better or superior. Krsna consciousness means God consciousness. So, whether you are Chinese, or English, or American, you have consciousness, and when that consciousness is purified, you become God conscious.

Mr. Lahart: But is your way the only way? I would think that there are many different ways to get to God consciousness.

Srila Prabhupada: Because God is one, God consciousness is one. Different ways there may be, but only if you actually come to God consciousness are the different ways approved. Otherwise, they are bogus. Whether you come to God consciousness through the Christian process or the Chinese process or the Indian process, it doesn't matter. But if you do not come to God consciousness, then it is all bogus.

Mr. Lahart: And how can you tell that someone has come to God consciousness?

Srila Prabhupada: God consciousness means that you understand, "I am part and parcel of God; therefore I am a servant of God." Then the process is all right.

Mr. Lahart: Your movement has been criticized to some degree.

Srila Prabhupada: How is it criticized?

Mr. Lahart: People have said that it works against the family and against Western society.

Srila Prabhupada: [He gestures to several disciples.] Here is a family man. Here is a family man. How can you say our movement is against the family? There are so many families. And there are children. Have you seen our class in the morning? There are many family members—children, husband, wife. They are present there. How can you say we are against the family?

Mr. Lahart: But are your followers encouraged to visit with—

Srila Prabhupada: Let's take your questions one by one. You say we are against the family, but this is wrong propaganda. There are so many families in our society. It is a complete society. There are family members, there are brahmacaris [celibate students], there are sannyasis [renounced monks], and there are vanaprastha [devotees retired from family life]. Whatever situation is suitable for you, you can accept. And in any situation you can become God conscious.

It is wrong propaganda to say that we are against families. Here is a young man and his wife: they are a family. And there are many other families. Why do you say that we are against the family? It is wrong. You should note that this sort of criticism is especially envious. It is not proper. We invite all families to come and take Krsna consciousness.

Mr. Lahart: I've been approached by devotees at airports, on streets, and in other places, and asked to buy literature. Is that the way to God consciousness, by selling and soliciting? How does that fit in?

Srila Prabhupada: If I sell you a book about Krsna consciousness and you read it, you benefit by giving money to Krsna and by reading about Krsna.

Mr. Lahart: How does it benefit the person who works on the street selling the book?

Srila Prabhupada: He is giving service to Krsna without pay. That is a sign of love. In the material field, also, there are many philosophers, scientists, artists, who work out of love for the subject matter, not for a salary. That is love. But our devotees are also becoming spiritually purified. And the more service they give to God, the more they become spiritually advanced.

Mr. Lahart: What are some other sides to your movement? I see people selling books, but what else do your disciples do?

Srila Prabhupada: If you stay in our temple for one whole day, from four o'clock in the morning to ten o'clock at night, you will see how we are engaged in many different practices: worshiping the Deity, chanting on beads, studying Vedic literatures, cleaning, cooking, and so many other things.

Mr. Lahart: You rise at four?

Ramesvara Svami: In this temple, at three or three-thirty.

Mr. Lahart: And chant?

Ramesvara Svami: Chant and study.

Mr. Lahart: What is the purpose of rising at four in the morning, chanting and studying?

Srila Prabhupada: To become accustomed to spiritual life. In the beginning it is a little like military training: "You must do this at this time, this thing at that time." So any training means regulated life.

Mr. Lahart: What is the most important project?

Srila Prabhupada: The most important project is to become Krsna conscious.

Mr. Lahart: What is the most important practice to come to that stage? Is one technique more important than the others?

Srila Prabhupada: You cannot say that one thing is more important, and another is less important. But if someone can't live in our temple, then we recommend to him, "At least chant Hare Krsna in your home, take Krsna prasada, read my books, and follow the regulative principles, or, in other words, refrain from sinful life." Ramesvara Svami, can you explain what sinful life is?

Ramesvara Svami: Illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication, and gambling. We find that these activities disturb the body and mind. They are not conducive for spiritual practices.

Srila Prabhupada: For example, if a diseased man wants to be cured, he goes to a doctor, who says, "Don't do this. Don't eat this." The sastra [scripture] also cures disease—the disease of the mind—by bringing the mind to the spiritual platform. And for this there is something to do, and something not to do. That's all.

Mr. Lahart: I understand you came here ten or eleven years ago, and that you were almost seventy at the time?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, I came here at the age of seventy years.

Mr. Lahart: What were you doing previously?

Srila Prabhupada: I was a family man. I retired in 1954. Previously, when I was twenty-five years old, my guru maharaja—my spiritual master—asked me to take seriously this task of spreading Krsna consciousness in the West. So I was at that time a family man. I thought, "Let me adjust my family affairs; then I shall do it." So that adjustment took me long years. I finally took it up seriously at the age of fifty-eight. And when I was seventy years old, I came to your country.

Mr. Lahart: Was it difficult for you to give up what you were doing in order to devote your full time to spiritual affairs?

Srila Prabhupada: It is the Vedic system that after a certain age, one should give up family connections and completely devote oneself to God consciousness. In the beginning, until age twenty-five, one should learn about Krsna consciousness from the guru. Then, if he is able to avoid family life, he does not become a family man. But if, due to circumstances, he is unable to remain celibate, he may become a family man. So he can remain a family man and then, at age fifty, give it up. He then retires from family life, but he travels to holy places with his wife. Sometimes he stays with her, and sometimes he stays alone. In this way, when by practice he can completely give up family attachment, the wife goes back home and remains under the care of her elderly children, and the man takes sannyasa and remains alone. Then his only work is to spread Krsna consciousness. This is the Vedic system.

Ramesvara Svami: The Vedic system is a traditional social system from ancient India.

Mr. Lahart: Is it better to do it the way you did it, or to remain single?

Srila Prabhupada: The Vedic system trains a brahmacari not to enter into the entanglement of material life. That is the Vedic system. The basic principle is to avoid entanglement in material affairs. So at the early age, up to twenty-five years, one should be trained to continue as brahmacari [celibate] if he can, and then he can take sannyasa. But if he is unable to remain brahmacari, then let him go step by step. Let him take to household life, then retired life, then sannyasa at the end. But it is compulsory that he finally give up family life. Not that he waits for death to take him away. That is not the Vedic system.

Mr. Lahart: But young men tend not to possess a great deal of wisdom. How can they be fit for renounced life?

Srila Prabhupada: They have to be trained. For example, here we have so many young men who are sannyasis. There is no injunction that a young man cannot become a sannyasi. If he is able, he can take sannyasa in the beginning. But if he is not able, let him enter household life and then remain a householder until the fiftieth year. Then he can retire and take sannyasa. Nothing is forced. It is a gradual process. But the ultimate end is to become free from all material attachment and completely devote one's life to Krsna consciousness. That is the ultimate. Human life is meant for that purpose—self-realization, or spiritual realization. That opportunity must be given to all human beings. Unfortunately, at the present moment civilization has no scope for spiritual realization. Men live like animals—eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. They do not know that there is another life, a spiritual life. Now we are trying to educate them.

Mr. Lahart: How important is it to look after physical life?

Srila Prabhupada: Physical life? You must keep yourself fit to execute Krsna consciousness. It is not our desire to become sick and not be able to chant. Our purpose is to chant, and we require the physical necessities just to keep ourselves fit. Not more than that. Eating is necessary. Without eating I will die. So we take krsna-prasada. We do not eat in the restaurant or hotel. No. We take nice vegetables, rice, grains, sugar, milk (full of vitamins). There is no deficiency of food, so it is unnecessary to kill animals.

Mr. Lahart: You run farms as well, do you not?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes.

Mr. Lahart: Are they working farms, producing farms?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. We have many farms in your country. Just now I am coming from New Vrindavan, in West Virginia. Many devotees are living there. If you go some time, you can see how they are living. And there are other farms—in New Orleans, for instance. Tomorrow we are going to our farm in Pennsylvania. So we get enough milk, enough food grains, enough fruits, and there is no economic problem. Our purpose is to save time from unnecessary labor for the necessities of life, and to utilize the saved time for developing Krsna consciousness. As far as the body is concerned, we should have as much as is required to maintain ourselves, but no more. In general, the motto in all our temples and farms is "plain living and high thinking."

Mr. Lahart: Is your Society open to everyone?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. We give all help to anyone who comes to our Society. We give shelter, we give food, we give instruction, we give dress—everything—without any condition. We invite everyone, "Please come and live with us." We have 102 centers all over the world, and we invite everyone to come live with us very comfortably and practice Krsna consciousness.

Mr. Lahart: How many centers in the U.S.?

Srila Prabhupada: About fifty, including the farms.

Mr. Lahart: How are they supported? Do they support themselves?

Srila Prabhupada: Krsna supports them.

Mr. Lahart: Krsna supports them?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Everything belongs to Krsna, and since Krsna is within you, if Krsna dictates, "Give the Krsna temple three thousand dollars," you give it. Actually, this is a fact. One man came and gave me a check for three thousand dollars. I never asked him for any money, but Krsna sent money through him. We do not worry about what will happen tomorrow, but we are very nicely maintained by Krsna. That is Krsna consciousness. In the Bhagavad-gita [9.22] Krsna says,

ananyas cintayanto mam
ye janah paryupasate
tesam nityabhiyuktanam
yoga-ksemam vahamy aham

"To those who worship Me with devotion, meditating on My transcendental form, I carry what they lack and preserve what they have."

Mr. Lahart: But you still have to go out and ask occasionally, don't you?

Bali Mardana: Well, it is not that we sit back and wait for Krsna to send things to us.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, we don't sit down idly. We are not idle preachers. We are working very hard, harder than ordinary people.

Ramesvara Svami: The books we distribute are for educating people about their spiritual identity, and the people give donations to cover the cost of printing.

Srila Prabhupada: Now I am eighty years old. I am working twenty-one hours a day. I think I work more than my young disciples.

Ramesvara Svami: Oh, yes. It is hard to keep up with Srila Prabhupada. We are publishing his books, and sometimes he is ahead of us by seventeen volumes.

Mr. Lahart: How do you spend your days? You do a lot of traveling, I understand.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. We travel throughout the world. Wherever I go, I translate and write books at night, and in the daytime I meet devotees and manage the affairs of the Society. My disciples ask me about many things, and they take my decisions as final. From all over the world letters are coming. Although I have over twenty secretaries, still they consult me, and I give them advice.

Bali Mardan: In the evening Srila Prabhupada goes to bed at ten o'clock and gets up at eleven-thirty to begin translating.

Mr. Lahart: You sleep just a couple of hours, then.

Srila Prabhupada: No, one and a half hours.

Mr. Lahart: That's it?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Of course, in the daytime I take two hours of rest. So, in this way, altogether three to four hours' rest. Our philosophy is not that you sit idly and wait for God to send things. No. We know that God will send everything, but still we work. Without God's sanction, nothing can come, and we must work to become qualified to receive the favor of God.

Mr. Lahart: Are you surprised at the way the organization has prospered?

Srila Prabhupada: I am not surprised. It is natural. For example, if you do business in a proper way, there will be profit. Similarly, if you act as enjoined in this book of knowledge, the Bhagavad-gita, your endeavor will expand and prosper. Two plus two always equals four. It will never total three or five. So here the Lord says, "For one who is engaged twenty-four hours a day in My service, I provide whatever he requires, and I protect whatever he has." Thus, if you actually serve Krsna, whatever you need will come.

Mr. Lahart: Does God speak to you directly?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. God speaks to you when you are qualified. You cannot expect God to be an order supplier, but when He sees that you are qualified, then He will speak to you.

Ramesvara Svami: It is difficult for people to understand that God can speak to a man.

Srila Prabhupada: People cannot understand many things. When a radio message is received, a foolish man cannot understand how the radio is playing. He thinks, "How is it speaking?" So any common man will be astonished at how God can speak to you. But that is foolishness. God says,

tesam satata-yuktanam
bhajatam priti-purvakam
dadami buddhi-yogam tam
yena mam upayanti te

"To those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me" [Bg. 10.10]. God is situated in everyone's heart. As soon as He sees that a person is qualified, He gives him instruction.

Mr. Lahart: But you still must work to achieve whatever Krsna is giving you.

Srila Prabhupada: Yes, you work for Krsna. You have to work.

Mr. Lahart: I am curious about how Krsna communicates—whether directly or indirectly.

Srila Prabhupada: No, not indirectly. Krsna communicates directly to His pure devotee. A pure devotee always consults Krsna, and Krsna will tell him, "Do like this." Not figuratively. Directly.

Mr. Lahart: Does that apply to all kinds of decisions and activities?

Srila Prabhupada: Everything—because a devotee does not do anything without consulting Krsna.

Mr. Lahart: But that applies only to a very greatly elevated soul?

Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Therefore, the minor devotees consult the spiritual master. That is our process.

Ramesvara Svami: Thank you, Srila Prabhupada.

Srila Prabhupada: Thank you for your coming.

Mr. Lahart: Thank you.

Use back button to return.

Return to top

The Transcendental Trend in Science

For a long time scientists have been asking,
What's going on? And some of them
have tried to find out,
What's behind it all?

by Damodara dasa and Jagajivana dasa

Sir Isaac Newton once made a remarkable model of the solar system. Thanks to a clever hand-cranking mechanism, all of the tiny spinning globes orbited a small "sun."

On entering Newton's study, one of his colleagues, a materialist, couldn't help noticing the model. He was flabbergasted.

"Dr. Newton," the man stared, "who made this wonderful contraption? The planets move with utter precision, you know. Why, it's ingenious. Who made it?"

"No one," Newton replied. "One day last week it simply appeared here."

"Really, Dr. Newton, I think you've kept me in suspense quite long enough. Now kindly tell me: who made this solar system?"

"My dear Doctor," Newton said, "if you'll pardon my saying so, you're a fool. Just one look at this solar system and you demand to know who made it. But every evening you're looking at the real solar system. Why don't you ask who made that?"

While aware of how little he knew, Newton (along with most of his contemporaries) was sure of one thing: "This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being." Of course, that was in the seventeenth century.

Before long, God-conscious science sagged under the weighty mathematical apparatus that Newton himself had done so much to build. By 1874, John Tyndall could make this materialist-science manifesto:

The impregnable position of science may be described in a few words. We claim, and we shall wrest from theology, the entire domain of cosmological theory. All schemes and systems which thus infringe upon the domain of science must, insofar as they do this, submit to its control and relinquish all thought of controlling it. Acting otherwise proved always disastrous in the past, and it is simply fatuous today.

In Tyndall's view, Newton's God had gone into retirement. Perhaps it had been inevitable. In Newton's own view. God had been little more than an old watchmaker who'd wound up the universe a long time ago and was letting it run on by itself. And now, for physicist Tyndall and others, even this idea of God had no appeal. Now man was in control. Or so they thought. The high-stepping march of materialist science got bogged down only fifty years later-right in physics, Tyndall's own field.

By 1900, when Max Planck's quantum theory gave the world an exact unit of atomic energy, physics had become the cutting edge of materialist science's slice into the universe. Chemists, biologists, even astronomers—all sought to reduce their data down to the physicist's atomic or subatomic particles. Acids, muscle fibers, and galaxies weren't necessarily real any more. Only atomic particles were real. If something was real, you could boil it down—"reduce" it—to its atomic particles. So in every field of science, the experts began thinking "reductionism." For a while, as the materialist scientists were reducing matter to its smallest particles, many people wondered whether they were reducing science to absurdity.

As the physicists closed in and boiled things down, matter's inner secret seemed only to get lost in the steam. In fact, by 1927 Werner Heisenberg had formulated his Uncertainty Principle. He showed that at the infinitesimal subatomic levels where "reductionism" takes us, it's impossible to say where a particle is even if you know how it's moving, and it's impossible to say how it's moving even if you know where it is.

Also, Heisenberg pointed out that the very beams of energy used to observe a particle disturb the particle observed, so you can't really say what it is, either. And the final blow: even the consciousness of the observer disturbs the particle. So the scientists ended up asking not just what, where, or how, but who. In other words, "reductionism"—the pillar of materialist precision—began to look a lot like a study in psychology.

Over the last fifty years, Nobel Prize winner Heisenberg and others have turned the scientific tide. As we'd expect, the materialist and reductionist scientists are still with us, but now a whole new wave of antimaterialist and transcendentalist scientists has emerged.

Another member of this wave, Nobel Prize winner Erwin Schrodinger, turned many heads when, in 1925, he wrote on "the profound rightness of the basic conviction" in the Vedic literature (such as Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam):

It is not possible that this unity of knowledge, feeling, and choice which you call your own should have sprung into being from nothingness... [It is] essentially eternal and unchangeable and numerically one in all men, nay in all sensitive beings.

And some thirty-five years later, in his introduction to Srimad-Bhagavatam, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada confirmed that spiritual understanding is "based more or less on the oneness of the entire human society, nay, on the entire energy of living beings." We can observe in these two statements a sameness of world view, and even of words—a remarkable harmony between the transcendentalist and the physicist. More and more, science present is sounding like science past—the God-conscious science of Newton's day and before.

With a special urgency, Schrodinger wanted to show that the human personality couldn't just "have sprung into being from nothingness." He argued for the existence of an eternal transcendental energy—in fact, an energy not only eternal, not only transcendental, but also personal. He disowned the impersonalism of many of his fellow scientists and lamented, "No personal God can form part of a world-model that has only become accessible at the cost of removing everything personal from it."

Again, Schrodinger echoes the five-thousand-year-old Vedic literature, which foresaw the bewilderment of materialist science [Bhagavad-gita 12.5]:

For those whose minds are attached to the unmanifested, impersonal feature of the Supreme, advancement is very troublesome. To make progress in that discipline is always difficult for those who are embodied.

So even thousands of years ago there were people who thought that beyond the universe, everything is impersonal or even void. In fact, the ancient Greek Democritus once called all existence just "atoms and the void." But just as Lord Krsna had refuted the impersonalists of His day, Plato refuted Democritus. In his Timaeus Plato affirmed, "This world came to be, in very truth, through the providence of God—a living being with soul and intelligence." Much later, in 1898, after John Tyndall had spoken up for the voidists, B.P. Bowne wrote, "If, then, the idea of Being must include permanence as well as activity, we must say that only the personal truly is. All else is flow and process."

It's clear that supporters of a God-conscious, personalist science have been with us all along, too. This transcendental tradition in scientific thought wends its way from the Vedic literature and sages to Westerners like Plato, Bowne, and Schrodinger, and, thanks to the translations of Srila Prabhupada, to readers like ourselves.

In Where the Wasteland Ends, Theodore Roszak decries the so-called scientific vision that "disintegrates the landscape, reduces it to bits and pieces, discovers how it works, but not what it means. The action of the parts blocks out the meaning of the whole." He suggests "that the richest symbols in human culture come down to us from an early generation of supremely gifted visionaries," and that progress for humanity is to find "the way back. To the source from which the adventure of human culture takes its beginning. It is this progress which the good society exists to facilitate for all its members."

He calls the ideal the "Old Gnosis," and holds that "we have nothing to add to the splendor of the Old Gnosis and can make no progress 'beyond it.' We can do no more than return to it, borrow from it, reshape it to suit the times."

Recently, Dr. Roszak has confirmed that the Vedic literatures, "especially the Upanisads and a great work like the Bhagavad-gita, are certainly expressions of the insights that are fundamental to culture, or to what I called the 'Old Gnosis.' Swami Bhaktivedanta's version of the Gita, is very good—a very fine work, nicely done with a literal translation." Additionally, the studies of Dr. J. Stillson Judah have traced Srila Prabhupada's lineage back to what Roszak called "an early generation of gifted visionaries."

For his part, Srila Prabhupada has already begun to reshape the Old Gnosis to suit the times. In Easy Journey to Other Planets, Srila Prabhupada explains the Vedic wisdom in the language of the latest discoveries in space science and physics. As he says, "It is enlivening to see the principles of the eternal religion of man from the viewpoint of the modern scientist."

Use back button to return.

Return to top


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

English Professor Eulogizes Bhagavad-gita As It Is

A.G. Medlicott, Jr., professor of English at the University of Connecticut, recently made this appraisal of Bhagavad-gita As It Is:

"Now, through the auspices of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust of Los Angeles, students of the American Transcendentalist Period can benefit from a superbly translated and edited edition of the Bhagavad-gita. Concepts of the self, duty, personal attainment, and self-reliance—all facets of a world germane to Emerson and Thoreau and their contemporaries—now become clear in this rich edition. Chapter Four, entitled 'Transcendental Knowledge,' is particularly useful in drawing parallels between Emerson's essays on transcendental thought and the concepts of Eastern thinkers.

"The publishers of this volume are to be complimented in making such a definitive book available to so many for such a nominal cost. For students of American literature, especially, having the Bhagavad-gita at hand will prove invaluable."

A New ISKCON Center for Hyderabad, India

On August 18th (Lord Krsna's appearance day), an estimated 150,000 people celebrated the grand opening of ISKCON's new center in Hyderabad, South India. Just two years ago, leading Indian confectioner G. Pulla Reddy donated a prime downtown site, and, under the guidance of Mahamsa Svami, work began on the splendid new temple. Generous contributions from many ISKCON life members financed the project. Chief Minister J. Vengal Rao and Endowments Minister Sagi Suryanarayana Raju praised Srila Prabhupada for reminding the Indian people of their cultural heritage.

The center will offer daily seminars on the Vedic literatures, mainly the Bhagavad-gita and the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Also, at nearby colleges, factories, and business centers, the devotees will hold seminars on practical spiritual living.

Ozark Farm Supplies St. Louis Center

Dixon, MO.—ISKCON's new farm in the Ozarks (125 miles southwest of St. Louis) does more than look rustic. True, it includes thirty-five acres of rolling woodlands. At the same time it boasts forty acres of grazing land (for oxen and cows) and one hundred acres of cropland. In fact, the farm has a lot to do with the creamy milk products and luscious vegetable dishes served at the St. Louis center's Sunday love feast.

The farm's combination of hardworking devotees and fertile soil keeps the St. Louis center brimming with cabbages, cucumbers, lettuce, peas, spinach, and squash, as well as cauliflowers, potatoes, and tomatoes (and more). And the soil promises to stay fertile. The Maries River feeds into a creek, four natural springs, and five ponds, so there's water all around. Perhaps that explains the farm's name—New Godruma, after a sacred Indian island.

Plans for the future include bee colonies, an orchard, a temple, more houses (built largely of rocks from the farm's riverbeds), a greenhouse, and, naturally, plenty of milk and vegetables for the St. Louis center.

Use back button to return.

Return to top

A Spirited New Theater

Many filmmakers and playwrights say that lately, fresh material has been awfully hard to find. Enter a young theatrical troupe, their material so ancient it's brand-new.

by Dharmadhyaksa dasa

In New York City the news is getting around: a group of yoga students have formed an acting troupe and are entering the professional theater world.

Early in 1976, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness purchased a twelve-story building on Manhattan's West 55th Street (in the off-Broadway theater district). When the devotees told Srila Prabhupada that the center had a good-sized auditorium, his face brightened. Srila Prabhupada then called for Sudama Svami, the most experienced actor in the movement.

"Why don't you organize a theater in New York?"

Sudama Svami recalled that the subject of theater had come up at his first meeting with Srila Prabhupada, back in 1967. At that time, Srila Prabhupada had asked, "What do you do?"

"I love to sing and dance. I've done it ever since I was a young boy,'' Sudama Svami had replied.

"Very good. You can go all over the world and present Krsna conscious theater."

Srila Prabhupada's spiritual potency had so impressed Sudama Svami that he soon joined the movement. However, as a beginner in spiritual life, he wanted to get a deeper understanding of his new life-style before bringing theater into it. Now, after eight years, there seemed to be another obstacle.

"Now that I'm a sannyasi [renounced monk]," Sudama Svami asked Srila Prabhupada, "will this acting and dancing be considered a proper thing for me to do?"

"That is your sannyasa [renunciation]," said Srila Prabhupada. "Lord Caitanya Himself used to play in drama."* [*Lord Caitanya is an incarnation of Krsna who appeared in India five hundred years ago to popularize the chanting of Hare Krsna.]

This answer encouraged Sudama Svami. He remembered the many times that Srila Prabhupada had spoken vigorously against the idea that spiritual life requires a person to become inactive or to renounce his occupation. To support this point, Srila Prabhupada often quoted the verse in the Bhagavad-gita which says that a person who unselfishly performs his occupation "is in the renounced order of life, and he is the true mystic: not he who lights no fire and performs no work" (Bg. 6.1).

Srila Prabhupada acknowledged people's backgrounds. In the spirit of the Bhagavad-gita he would say, "Let him sing," "Let him paint," "Let him dance," "Let him do business...." "Yes, engineering—construct temples. ..." "These talents are not to be taken lightly. They should not be wasted. They are actually the result of austerities performed in previous lives and should be used in Krsna's service."

Sudama Svami's doubts were dispelled. To please his spiritual master, he would put together a professional theater company in New York.

In every nook and cranny of 340 West 55th Street, Sudama Svami could see the signs of new life. The drab, institutional colors on the walls (the building had been a hospital) had given way to bright reds, yellows, greens, blues, and oranges. The three hundred rooms, formerly filled with the dying, now housed energetic spiritual students who sang the Lord's glories, and the entire building vibrated with happiness and hope.

For Sudama Svami, the new center also meant the rebirth of a promising career that he had set aside ten years earlier. A strong theatrical streak ran in his family. His grandfather and grandmother, Willie and Bo Bo Covain, had choreographed several of Shirley Temple's movies and also had worked closely with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, the master of tap dance. At age eleven, Sudama Svami had played in his first movie, Porgy and Bess. His work in James Baldwin's Amen Corner had nearly won him a part in West Side Story, on Broadway. By his sixteenth year he had earned a reputation as one of the most promising actors in Los Angeles.

"But in spite of my success," Sudama Svami said, "I lost my motivation. I was feeling frustrated. I wasn't frustrated materially—I was well off—but artistically speaking, I didn't have much depth." He dropped his acting to search for meaning. His search took him to San Francisco, where he lived for a year and a half with the Grateful Dead rock band, as a member of their "family." Still dissatisfied, he retreated to Ken Kesey's farm to reflect on his life. There he found and read three volumes of Srila Prabhupada's Srimad-Bhagavatam, which moved him so much that in 1967 he set off for India to learn directly from the author. But his journey ended in San Francisco. There he met some devotees, who asked him where he was going.

"To India," he told them.


"To meet the man who wrote this book."

"That's our teacher. He's staying right here in San Francisco." Srila Prabhupada and some of his early disciples had just opened a temple, and before long, the young actor decided to stay a while.

"When the devotees started doing drama," Sudama Svami recalled, "it was fairly amateurish." But in 1971 Srila Prabhupada wrote to one of the actors, "One day, very soon, your dreams will come true and you will be acting our Krsna conscious dramas on Broadway." If Srila Prabhupada said that the players would make Broadway, then Sudama Svami was convinced that it would happen—through spiritual purity, perfect technique, and tons of practice. He reassembled a workable company in New York before the end of April.

Returning from India with Sudama Svami were a husband-and-wife team, Lohitaksa dasa and Rasajna-devi dasi. Their experience before taking up Krsna consciousness was like that of the other players. They had studied their art intensely; then, after becoming professionally involved, they had found nothing meaningful to express. At this point, they had opened their minds to new possibilities. After coming in touch with the Krsna consciousness movement, they had decided to join.

Lohitaksa dasa's forte is ballet. He studied with Alfredo Corvino, the American Ballet Theater, and Ballet Arts and then danced professionally with the New Jersey Ballet Company. To him the essence of theater always seemed to be spiritual. "But in my work," he said, "the spiritual side never manifested itself to me."

His wife, Rasajna, studied acting with a group called the Player's Workshop and performed with them more than seven years, in both Germany and New York. She was branching out into films and a part with the Metropolitan Opera when she and her husband first visited the Hare Krsna center. By acting she gained some insight into reincarnation. "I didn't know exactly what it was," she said, "but I had some idea that I had been through many, many lifetimes. The tip-off was that I could play certain characters almost at once, without any prior experience of them in this lifetime."

In reminiscing about his first exposure to Krsna conscious theater, Lohitaksa dasa said, "It wasn't much technically, but the material was so fantastic. I thought, 'This is for me.' I wanted to do theater that elevated people and allowed them to transcend time and space and their bodies, and this theater seemed to do just that." His wife agreed, and six reeks later they moved into the center.

By the time rehearsals began, in April, here were ten members: eight actors and actresses (four of whom had done work in dance) and two stagehands. "To get the company on its feet," said Sudama Svami, "I worked everyone from nine in the morning to nine at night. Many of the players balked. They couldn't imagine that it required so much time and energy, but I was firm and soon everyone came around."

The company is developing a wide repertoire that ranges from street theater to straight drama, and from musical comedy to pure dance. On a typical day, not only do the players sharpen their acting and dancing skills, but also they rehearse as many as three pieces.

The main dancers, Lohitaksa dasa and Satarupa-devi dasi, attend professional dance classes daily, mostly at Maggie Black's. "The classes are intense," said Satarupa-devi dasi. "They often last two and a half hours. You start with slow stretching exercises, work your way up to fast footwork, then to small jumps, and finally you're running, leaping, and jumping across the room."

Before and after the classes, many of the top dancing stars ask Satarupa-devi dasi about her experiences in Krsna consciousness. Often she tells them about the similarities between dance and spiritual life. "Dance is such a discipline—forcing your body into the various postures. Your body—and even your mind—tires, but you keep going. Spiritual life demands the same discipline and dedication. Our bodies and minds are lazy. They cling to their selfish ways, so you have to coax them. And when you perfect your discipline—in dance your movements assume a natural beauty and grace, and in Krsna consciousness you attain inner happiness and peace."

Because of the company's small size, the players don't confine themselves to working on stage. Sudama Svami serves as overall producer and coordinator. Rasajna designs and makes the costumes. Lohitaksa doubles as the acting coach. Prajapati dasa (who along with Satarupa forms the company's second husband-wife team) acts, directs, and designs the sets. "There are no stars here," said Prajapati dasa. "Everyone pitches in on whatever needs to be done."

Street Theater

You're walking down crowded Fifth Avenue. The urban tension grips your shoulders and you daydream about getting away from it all for a few days. Suddenly, over the traffic's roar you hear a man screaming. "Help! Help! Help! I'm drowning! Help!"

Drowning on Fifth Avenue?

You turn your head, and your feet, toward whatever's going on.

"Oh, no! Marvin! Someone help! Please! My husband's drowning!" cries a tall blonde, her face distorted by grief.

By now you are part of a sizable crowd, all eyes and ears fixed on the unfolding drama.

An official-looking man in an olive suit struggles out from among the onlookers.

"Don't worry, ma'am," he says. "I'll save that poor guy! I'm a social worker! Saving people is my business! Look. The hungriest come to me. If they need a shirt on their back, they come to me. If the sheriff throws them out on the street, they come to me. If they need a—"

"Please hurry—or it'll be too late!" pleads the blonde.

The social worker tears off his jacket and "dives" into the imaginary lake. He swims to the drowning man, grabs him, then starts pulling him back to the shore. The victim struggles, and, reluctantly, the social worker subdues him with a punch. At this point, the drowning man slips out of his jacket. Then the social worker strokes his way back to land.

He yells, "Everything's OK! I told you I'd take care of him! Here he is, ma'am! I told you! I told you I'd save him!"

"Marvin?,.. AAAAAAAAAHHH!! You fool! You didn't save Marvin! You saved his coat!"

Now another member of the company steps up and says, "The moral of this story is that while a social worker can alleviate a person's material problems (or save his coat), he can't begin to help the real person living inside the body (or the soul). Only by taking up a spiritual process can we do that. And in this age, the easiest and most recommended process is to chant the Hare Krsna mantra:

When the company performs The Drowning Man, people clap and shout "More! More!" "Many people think that street theater started with the antiwar skits during the sixties," Sudama Svami noted. "But actually, if you study the history book of Indian drama, you'll discover that street theater originated five hundred years ago in Bengal, with Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He wanted to show people about spiritual life and help them remember God—Krsna."

The Age of Quarrel

In May the company completed its first stage piece. The Age of Kali, penned by Girish Candra Ghosh, the "Shakespeare of Bengal." "He was a brilliant author," says Sudama Svami. "He'd sit with a secretary on either side and dictate two plays at once." The Age of Kali closely resembles a medieval morality play, and perhaps a little amazingly, it is the company's most popular work.

Prajapati dasa explained, "Kali is the personification of evil. He destroys everyone's good qualities. In the Western world the closest thing to Kali is the devil, but Kali isn't some ghoul with pointed horns. He looks quite respectable—dressed in high style, and so forth. In this day and age, he's the trendsetter."

Sudama Svami plays Kali. He paces onto the stage through an eerie fog, and "Sin" (Rasajna-devi dasi) accompanies him. This is Kali's age to rule, and he and Sin talk over their strategy.

Kali: With perverted desires will I flood their minds. They'll be vultures for pleasure, but only torment find.

Sin: Sexual perversions will be in vogue. Oh, Kali, Kali, you're such a rogue. Sin is Kali's faithful servant.

Sin: What would you like for dinner, dear? Some freshly killed cow, chicken, or deer? Government-inspected turkey, rabbit, or lamb?

Kali: No, tonight I'll eat my fellow man! Kali signals the decline of God-consciousness.

Kali: Worship of God? Ha! There'll hardly be any. But even the pauper will worship his penny.

Kali and Sin conclude the first act by confronting the audience.

Kali and Sin: We're planning all the trouble the world's gonna be put in.

Kali: For I'm Kali.

Sin: And I'm his consort Sin.

Kali and Sin: This is the age that'll do you all in!

The rest of the play takes place in Sin's court, where she is surrounded by her cohorts Lust, Anger, and Greed. A depressed Kali trudges in with sad news: Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu has incarnated and is spreading the chanting of God's holy names in every town and village. Now their corrupt regime is doomed. Sin is outraged and vows to fight right down to her last vice. But from offstage the audience hears the sound of chanting grow louder and louder.

Playwright Diane Richards is so intrigued with Kali she has offered to turn it into a full-length musical. "We haven't reached anywhere near perfection yet," admitted Sudama Svami, "but the reaction from the rest of the theatrical community is very encouraging." He accounts for Kali's popularity in this way: "The Age of Kali has beautiful effects—fog, strobes, colored wheels, flamboyant costumes—and dance and upbeat music. And Kali fits right into this whole 'Exorcist' trend. There's lust. There's anger. There's greed. These are real forces that bewilder everybody. In Kali they come to life, and the audience feels relief to see them subdued."

The troupe performs The Age of Kali in rotation with other works adopted from the classical Vedic literatures of India. From the Srimad-Bhagavatam they enact dramas and dance pieces depicting the pastimes of the Supreme Lord, Krsna. They combine dance and drama in their portrayal of the worldly famous Bhagavad-gita. Most recently, they're working on a full-length production from the epic Ramayana.

These plays provide relief from a modern theater addicted to anti-heroes, alienation, and commercial fluff. They portray great personalities who meet tremendous challenges with spiritual strength. In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna slashes away the doubts of his disciple Arjuna with the weapon of transcendental knowledge. In the series about Krsna's pastimes, the youthful heroes Krsna and Balarama do away with demons such as the kidnapper Pralambasura.

"These plays both entertain and present spiritual life in a pleasing way," said Rasajna dasi. "It's a natural form of enlightenment both for the players and the audience, and for me that's the perfection of theater."

Does Sudama Svami have a timetable for the company's debut on Broadway?

"We're in no hurry," he said. "After all, by uniting Vedic and Western theater the troupe is creating a new art form—and that's not something you do overnight. Besides, I quit my career ten years ago, and then Krsna (through Srila Prabhupada) gave me another chance. So I've learned one thing—it's Krsna's timetable, not mine."

Use back button to return.

Return to top

The Boar Who Battles for Planet Earth

The lady was lusty and wanted sons.
Little did she know that her children
would be demons, and that the Lord Himself
would have to come and kill them.

It was evening. The sun was setting on the forest cottage of the great sage Kasyapa Muni. As the sage sat in ecstatic trance, meditating on Lord Krsna deep within his heart, his beautiful wife Diti approached him in a lusty mood.

"O learned one," she said, "Cupid is forcibly distressing me with his arrows tonight, just as a mad elephant troubles a banana tree. I want to have sons, like your other wives, so please lay with me and pacify my anxiety."

"O afflicted one," said Kasyapa, "I shall certainly satisfy you forthwith, but you must wait just a few moments. This particular time of day is most inauspicious, for at this time Lord Siva, the king of the ghosts, travels throughout the land on the back of his bull, accompanied by his horrible, ghostly companions. Lord Siva's body is reddish and is covered with ashes, and his hair is dusted with the whirlwind dust of the burning crematorium. Of course, his devilish appearance is misleading, for his personal qualities are beyond reproach. Indeed, he controls the material energy. Considering all these things, we should wait until a more auspicious time so as not to offend him."

But Diti felt pressed by Cupid, and she caught hold of Kasyapa's clothing, just like a shameless prostitute. Unable to dissuade his wife, Kasyapa resigned himself to his fate and lay with Diti in a secluded place.

Afterward, Kasyapa bathed himself and meditated on the Supreme Lord's eternal effulgence, silently chanting sacred hymns. When he had finished, Diti approached him, her face lowered in shame.

She said, "My dear brahmana, please see that Lord Siva does not kill my embryo because of the great offense I have committed against him. He is forgiving, but his anger can move him to chastise others. Since he is the husband of my sister Sati, I pray that he will forgive me."

Diti trembled with fear as Kasyapa answered her: "Because your mind was polluted, because you defiled the evening hour, because you neglected my directions, and because you ignored the demigods, everything was inauspicious. O haughty one, you will therefore bear two contemptuous sons from your condemned womb. O unlucky woman, they will bring constant lamentation to all the three worlds! They will kill poor and faultless creatures, torture women, and enrage great souls. At that time the Supreme Lord of the universe, the well-wisher of all, will descend and kill them, just as Indra smashes mountains with his thunderbolts."

Diti was terribly disturbed, but after some time she became pacified. "After all," she said, "it is very good that the all-merciful Lord will kill my sons and in that way liberate them from material bondage."

Since she knew that her sons would cause nothing but grief all over the universe, Diti tried to hold them within her womb. During this time the sun dimmed, and the demigods went to Lord Brahma to ask his help. Brahma explained that the Supreme Lord wanted to exercise His fighting spirit: He had arranged that two demigods take birth as His demoniac opponents. Finally, after a full hundred years' pregnancy, Diti brought forth her twin sons.

Upon the two demons' birth, many fearful things happened throughout the heavenly and earthly planets. Earthquakes shook the land, and many foreboding planets like Saturn appeared in the sky. Comets, meteors, and thunderbolts disturbed the atmosphere. Darkness reigned everywhere, and cows grew so terrified that they yielded not milk but blood. Clouds rained pus, and, without the slightest wind, trees came crashing down. The end of the universe seemed at hand.

Soon Diti's sons began to exhibit uncommon bodily features. Their steellike frames grew as large as two mountains, and the crests of their gold crowns seemed to touch the sky. Wherever they went they blocked the sun, and with their every step the earth shook. Kasyapa saw the demoniac nature of his twin sons and named them accordingly.

After naming the elder son Hiranyakasipu, "one whose only concern is gold and soft bedding," Kasyapa called the younger son Hiranyaksa, "one who hunts for gold everywhere." In fact, Hiranyaksa would excavate so much gold from the earth as to upset the planet's equilibrium and plunge her into the Garbhodaka Ocean, at the universe's bottom. To lift the earth out of the muck beneath the Garbhodaka Ocean, the Supreme Lord would incarnate as Varaha, the giant boar. With its long tusks, a boar can pick things up from filthy places; so the Lord would appear as the giant boar Varaha to rescue the earth.

Meanwhile, Hiranyakasipu was undergoing severe austerities to get a benediction from Brahma. When Brahma granted his desire, Hiranyakasipu thought that he had become immortal. So he became extremely haughty and vicious, and he brought all three planetary systems under his control.

Always eager to fight for his elder brother, Hiranyaksa took a huge club on his shoulder and traveled all over the universe. With golden anklets that clanged on his feet, a gigantic garland that swayed around his neck, and a fierce temper that flared for even the slightest reason, Hiranyaksa traversed the heavenly planets. His enormous mental and bodily strength (he shared Brahma's boon upon Hiranyakasipu) made him very proud. He feared death at the hands of no one, and there was no checking him. Seized with fear at the very sight of him, the demigods fled to their heavenly abodes. When he could not find Indra and the other demigods who had previously been proud of their power, Hiranyaksa roared with cruel laughter.

After returning from the heavenly kingdom, the mighty Hiranyaksa dove deep into the Garbhodaka Ocean, just as a wrathful elephant might dive into a river. He moved about in the ocean for many years and smote the gigantic wind-tossed waves again and again with his iron mace; thus, he terrified all the sea's inhabitants. Finally, he reached the city of Vibhavari, which lies within the watery kingdom. It is the capital of the demigod Varuna, lord of the aquatics.

Hiranyaksa fell at Varuna's feet in false humility. Smiling with contempt, the demon asked, "Give me battle, O supreme lord! You are the guardian of an entire sphere and a ruler of wide fame. Having crushed the might of many arrogant and conceited warriors, O lord, you are fit to be worshiped by the rare and lavish Rajasuya sacrifice!"

Thus mocked by an enemy whose vanity knew no bounds, the lord of the waters grew extremely angry. But by the strength of his reason, Varuna curbed his anger and cooly replied: "O dear one, we have now desisted from warfare, having grown too old for combat. Besides, you are so skilled in the arts of war that I do not see anyone but Lord Visnu who is worthy to meet you in battle. Therefore, you should seek Him out without delay. I am sure that you will then be rid of your pride at once and will lie down on the battlefield, surrounded by dogs, for eternal sleep. Just to exterminate wicked fellows like you and show His grace to the virtuous, the Lord assumes various incarnations, such as Varaha, the divine boar."

Recklessly ignoring Varuna's prediction, Hiranyaksa dove deep into the ocean to search out Lord Varaha. The Lord had just then descended into the depths to rescue the earth, and Hiranyaksa came upon Him as he was bearing the globe upward on the ends of His massive tusks.

The demon laughed. "Oh, an amphibious beast! O fool, O lowest of the demigods in the form of a boar, just listen to me. This earth planet is entrusted to us, the residents of the lower regions, and You cannot take it from my presence without being punished by me. You rascal. You have been nourished by our enemies just to kill us, and You have managed to kill a few demons by remaining invisible. But Your power is only a sham, O fool, so today I shall enliven my kinsmen by smashing Your skull with my mace!"

Although Hiranyaksa's shaftlike words pained Lord Varaha, He tolerated the pain without reacting, for He saw that the earth on the end of His tusks was frightened of falling. Instead of fighting at once, Lord Varaha rose out of the water—just as a bull elephant emerges from the river with his she-elephant when assailed by a crocodile.

As the Lord rose out of the water, the demon chased Him, roaring like thunder. "Are you not ashamed to flee a challenging adversary? But then again, what could shame a shameless wretch like You?!"

Lord Varaha placed the earth within His sight on the surface of the water and transferred His own energy to her so that she could float. While the enraged Hiranyaksa looked on, Brahma sang the Lord's praises, and the other demigods showered flowers upon Him.

With the earth now safe, the Lord turned to Hiranyaksa, laughed mockingly, and began to vent His own terrible anger. "O mischievous one, I am indeed an amphibious beast, and I am seeking to kill hunting dogs like you. I have no fear from your loose talk, for you are bound up by the laws of death. You are said to be the commander of many soldiers, so now you can take prompt steps to conquer Me. Give up all your foolish talk and slay Me. A proud man is but an ass if he fails to fulfill his promised word."

Thus challenged by Lord Varaha, Hiranyaksa trembled in anger. Like a cobra he hissed, all his senses shaken by wrath. Now the demon sprang upon the Lord and struck His chest with his huge mace. But the Lord easily dodged the blow. Again and again the demon rushed the Lord, brandishing his mace and biting his lip in rage. Then with His own mace the Lord struck the enemy's right temple. But, also an expert fighter, the demon used his mace to block the blow.

In this way, the demon Hiranyaksa and Lord Varaha struck each other with their huge maces, each enraged and each intent on winning. Their rivalry was keen, and both sustained many injuries from the maces' sharp points. With each new injury, they became more enraged at the smell of the blood smeared over their bodies. Both were great fighters, and with the earth floating helplessly nearby, they looked like two bulls battling for a cow.

After some time, Brahma and his associates came to see Lord Varaha's fight for the earth. Brahma said, "My dear Lord, this demon Hiranyaksa has harassed and terrorized the demigods, the brahmanas, the cows, and innocent people whose only refuge is Your lotus feet. Since I awarded him a boon, he has simply wandered throughout the universe looking for a worthy opponent. My dear Lord, please do not play with this most wicked and arrogant serpent any longer, for he is very skilled at conjuring up tricks. My dear Lord, You are unconquerable, so please kill him immediately, before the demoniac hour arrives and he presents some new approach favorable to him. The dark evening is fast approaching. Therefore, since You are the Soul of all souls, kindly kill Him quickly by Your divine energy and win victory for the demigods."

When he heard Brahma's anxious words. Lord Varaha laughed heartily and accepted his prayer with a glance laden with love. Hiranyaksa was stalking fearlessly before Him, so the Lord sprang at the demon and aimed His mace at his chin. But the demon knocked the mace from the Lord's hand, sending the splendid weapon whirling into the sea. A cry of alarm arose from the assembled crowd of demigods and sages. But their worst fears proved ill-founded, for although Hiranyaksa had an excellent chance to strike the Lord, the demon respected the law of one-to-one combat and put aside his own mace. This further kindled the fury of the Lord, who then invoked His Sudarsana disk, the supreme weapon.

As the Sudarsana disk whirled in the Lord's hands, and as the Lord confronted Hiranyaksa, the onlookers cried, "May You win the victory! Please finish him!" When the demon saw the Lord standing before him with His Sudarsana disk, his anger exploded. Again he hissed like a serpent and bit his lip hatefully. For some time he stared at the Lord with burning eyes. Then, suddenly, he took up his mace once more and hurled it at the Lord, screaming, "You are slain!" But the Lord playfully knocked the mace down with His left foot, even though it had come upon Him with the force of a tempest.

Then the Lord told the demon, cooly, "Take up your weapon and try again, eager as you are to conquer Me." Hiranyaksa retrieved his mace and with a loud roar hurled it at the Lord. But the Lord stood His ground firmly and caught the mace with the ease of a large hawk snatching a mouse.

His valor frustrated and his pride destroyed, Hiranyaksa was reluctant to take up the mace for a third time. Instead, he came forth with his fearsome trident, flaming like fire, and hurled it at the Lord with all his strength. But the Lord tore it to pieces with the razor-sharp rim of His Sudarsana disk. Now even more enraged and roaring loudly, the demon rushed at the Lord and pounded His broad chest with fists as strong as thunderbolts. The demon's blows could have pulverized mountains, yet they caused not even a tremor in any part of the Lord's body—any more than a wreath of flowers would shake an elephant. Defeated, Hiranyaksa suddenly disappeared.

The demon then used such wizardry against Lord Varaha that the onlookers filled with alarm. In an instant, fierce winds blew from all directions and spread dust and darkness everywhere. Stones came in volleys from every corner, as if thrown by machine guns. Lightning- and thunder-filled clouds covered over the luminaries in the sky, and pus, hair, blood, feces, urine, and bones rained down. Mountains discharged all kinds of weapons. Naked, loose-haired demonesses appeared with raised tridents. But once again the Lord released His Sudarsana disk and dispersed all the demon's magical forces.

When Hiranyaksa saw all his apparitions dispelled, he came once again before Lord Varaha. This time he put his arms around the Lord to crush Him, but to his amazement he found the Lord standing outside his clasp. Finally, the demon struck the Lord with his stonelike fists, and at that time the Lord slapped him at the root of the ear. Though the Lord had struck him indifferently, Hiranyaksa's body wheeled, his eyeballs bulged out of their sockets, his arms and legs shattered, and he fell down dead, like a gigantic tree uprooted by the wind. Having enjoyed himself in the great battle, the Lord ended the terror of Hiranyaksa for the great pleasure of the saints and demigods.

The demigods were overjoyed. "All obeisances unto You! You have assumed the form of a boar to maintain the world, and fortunately for us, You have slain this demon Hiranyaksa, who was a torment to the three worlds. Now, O Lord we have become happy under the shelter of Your lotus feet. We know that You will always protect those who are devoted to You."

Use back button to return.

Return to top