Mrs. Sally Rawley, merchandiser: "When I'm nervous I find chanting very calming. I don't get shaken up at little things."
Bruce Kleinberg, executive secretary: "Chanting helps you see things in perspective. My outlook is a lot brighter."
June Lahner, jewelry designer, with son Jason: "Chanting makes me more perceptive, more in harmony with everything and everyone around me."
Dr. Donald R. Tuck, associate professor, Western Kentucky University: "I've noticed that as chanted progress from level to deeper level, they become more realistic, more tolerant."
Paul Bleier, printing executive: "When there's pressure, I chant. It's the one thing that charges my batteries. It clears my mind and brings me back in focus."
Mrs. Grace Acqulstapace, housewife: "I'm more openminded. Chanting has opened my eyes to things I never noticed. It's like beautiful music—a very peaceful feeling, very stisfying."
Stephen Farmer, health food store owner: "If I start my day on a spiritual note by chanting Hare Krishna, I can make it through the day in a pleasant mood."
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Anyone can chant the Hare Krsna (Huh-ray Krish-na) mantra, anytime, anywhere. The main thing is to listen closely to the sound. Whether you sing it or say it, alone or with others, the Hare Krsna chant brings about joyful spiritual awareness.
Chanting can work for everyone, and there's no fee or initiation. If you'd like to meet other people who chant, visit any of the people who chant, visit any of the more than 120 centers worldwide (like the one in Melbourne, Australia, pictured at left). See last page for addresses.
Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
The founder and original editor of Back to Godhead is His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. In September, 1965, Srila Prabhupada arrived in the United States. In July, 1966, in a storefront in New York City, he began the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. And from those beginning days, Back to Godhead has been an integral part of ISKCON.
In fact, since 1944, when he started writing, editing, printing, and istributing Back to Godhead, Srila Prabhupada has often called it "the backbone of the Krishna consciousness movement." Althgouh over the years it has changed in come ways, Back to Godhead remains, in Srila Prabhupada's words, "an instrument for training the mind and educating human nature to rise up to the plane of the soul spirit."
People ask this question every day, about everyday things. But when it comes to things cosmic, should we ask "Who"-or "What"? The Caracas Metaphysical Society interviews His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Srila Prabhupada: Now let us discuss this: What is "limited"—and what is "unlimited" ?
Metaphysical Society: This material world is a combination of many different elements—intelligence, mind, so on and so forth—and in the center of all this is the essence, which is eternal. And this eternal thing cannot have any name or any form, because then it would be limited. And that would be a contradiction.
Srila Prabhupada: No. This material world is temporary, but spirit is eternal—that is clear understanding. The material elements are earth, water, fire, air, sky, mind, intelligence, and ego; and the spiritual element is utilizing these material elements. That is the distinction between matter and spirit.
For example, this microphone is a combination of earth, water, air, and fire, but a living being had to combine the material elements into this microphone—the combination of material elements was done by some living entity. Now, exactly like the microphone, the whole cosmic manifestation is a combination of material elements, and there is one living being—the supreme being—who has combined them. This is how the universe is working. Is that admitted?
Metaphysical Society: Yes.
Srila Prabhupada: So that is the difference between "limited" and "unlimited." You and I are living beings, and we can create something limited, like this microphone or big airplanes. But there is another living being who has created innumerable planets that are floating in the air. Is it not so? We have taken the credit for becoming big scientists and creating the 747 airship, which can carry five hundred passengers. But how many have we created? Maybe several hundred or several thousand. But there are millions and trillions of planets floating in the air, just like the 747s, and those planets contain many big mountains and oceans. So we can create limited things with our limited brains, but the supreme being can create unlimited things because He has an unlimited brain.
Metaphysical Society: Are you suggesting that God has a brain?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. And as soon as we understand that He has a brain, we know that He is a person. Therefore, God is a person, ultimately. Just as the government is impersonal, but the president is a person, similarly the energies working the cosmic manifestation are all impersonal, but the brain behind them is personal. That is the distinction between person and "imperson."
Metaphysical Society: You said that God is a person, ultimately. What do you mean, "ultimately"?
Srila Prabhupada: As I explained, in one sense the government is impersonal, but ultimately the president is a person. The government is going on under the order of the president. Therefore, the impersonal government is not as important as the personal president.
Another example: the sun, the sunshine, and the sun-god. The sunshine is impersonal, the sun globe is localized, and within the sun globe is the sun-god. So in one sense they are all one—they all manifest heat and light. But the sunshine is different from the sun globe and the sun-god. There is sunshine in this room, but that does not mean the sun globe is here. And the sun-god controls the sun globe. Therefore, the sunshine, the sun globe, and the sun-god are simultaneously one and different. Is it clear? Any question about this?
Metaphysical Society: Why do you say that God is more important than His energy?
Srila Prabhupada: It is common sense. The sunshine is universally spread, and the sun globe situated in one place is the source of that sunshine. So which is more important—the sun globe or the sunshine? This lamp is situated in one place, and the illumination is spread throughout the room. What is more important—the illumination or the lamp? The fire is localized in one place, and the fire's light and heat are expanded for many feet. So which is more important—the fire or the heat and light? Similarly, God is a person (though He is not a person like you or me), and He expands His energy just as a fire expands heat and light. Whatever we see is the expansion of God's energy.
The situation is just like that of a big businessman and his factories. The man is a person, but he is conducting hundreds of factories over a large area. Are the factories more important, or is the man more important? If an ordinary person in this material world can become so important, you can just imagine how important a person God is, considering the unlimited expansion of this material world.
So the person is ultimately the most important. The impersonal feature is there—just like the impersonal feature of sunshine—but the sun globe is more important than the sunshine, and within the sun globe is the sun-god, who is the most important. So which do you think is the most important—the sun-god, the sun globe, or the sunshine? What is your idea?
Metaphysical Society: All of them are important.
Srila Prabhupada: All of them. That's all right. But comparatively, since the sun-god is the source of all heat and light, he is the most important. Similarly, God is expanding His energy throughout all the universes. God is the energetic. Comparatively, although in one sense there is no difference between the energy and the energetic, the energetic is more important than the energy. So God and His energy are simultaneously one and different. That is our philosophy.
Metaphysical Society: You said that God expands Himself. But this implies that God modifies or changes Himself.
Srila Prabhupada: No. God can expand Himself unlimitedly, and still He remains as He is. That is the meaning of "unlimited." You may have a hundred dollars in your pocket, and if you spend one dollar, one dollar, one dollar, then ultimately you will have zero. But about God it is said, purnasya purnam adaya purnam evavasisyate: "Because God is the complete whole, even though so many complete units of energy emanate from Him He remains the complete balance" [Isopanisad, Invocation]. For you, that would mean that you could take a hundred dollars and spend it, and still you would have the hundred dollars. God can actually do this. He can expand Himself into millions and millions of separate universes, and still He is the same individual. That is God. We shouldn't think of God according to our own conception—that if I have a hundred dollars and then I spend a hundred dollars, I will have zero. God is not like that. God can expand Himself unlimitedly, and still He remains the same.
There is another nice example. Suppose you take a candle and light up another candle with it, then another candle, and another and another, up to millions of candles. The original candle remains as powerful as ever, and the other candles you lit up now have the same power as the original. But, for our understanding, we take the original candle to be the first candle, the next as the second candle, then the third, fourth, fifth, and so on. But each candle is equally powerful, and the original candle is still there. Similarly, by His expansions God does not diminish. That is the meaning of God, and that is also the meaning of "unlimited."
Metaphysical Society: How can we understand the difference between God's personality and individuality, and our own? If God expands Himself into everything, then He must be inside all of this creation.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. That is the difference between God and us: God is situated everywhere, but you are not situated everywhere. You are situated within your body, and I am situated within my body. You cannot feel the pains and pleasures of my body, nor can I feel your pains and pleasures. But God is everywhere, and therefore He can understand what your pains and pleasures are, and what my pains and pleasures are. That is the difference between the atma, or individual soul, and the super-atma, or Supersoul. You are the atma, and God is the super-atma.
Metaphysical Society: But since God is pure spirit, or atma, and we are also pure spirit, can we not eventually evolve up to the level of God?
Srila Prabhupada: No. We admit that God is spirit and you are spirit, but God's power and your power are not equal. God said, "Let there be creation," and there was creation. But if you say, "Let there be capati [bread]," there will be no capati unless you work. You have to work for it.
Metaphysical Society: God is the whole, and we are the parts, and we are evolving to integrate ourselves with that whole.
Srila Prabhupada: That's all right, but you can never become the whole.
Metaphysical Society: But we are in evolution.
Srila Prabhupada: No. The part is a part eternally, and the whole is the whole eternally.
Metaphysical Society: So one does not integrate himself with the whole when one becomes evolved?
Srila Prabhupada: No. You are already in the whole.
Metaphysical Society: Therefore, we are all one.
Srila Prabhupada: One and different—that is our philosophy. We are just like one small screw in a machine. The screw is part of the machine, so in one sense the small screw and the machine are one. But the small screw is not equal to the whole machine, nor can the screw be called the whole machine.
Metaphysical Society: So we are forever a part of the whole?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. As Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita [15.7], mamaivamso jiva-loke jiva-bhutah sanatanah: "The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal, fragmental parts."
Metaphysical Society: Can Krsna consciousness be compared to the ultimate consciousness of Christ?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. There is no difference between consciousness of Christ and that of Krsna, provided one follows Christ's orders. Christ spoke as the son of God, and Krsna is speaking as God, so there is no difference in their teachings. Whether the father speaks it or the son speaks it, the truth is the same.
Metaphysical Society: If this Krsna consciousness is the highest state of the mind, could you explain to the people how one can achieve Krsna consciousness while living in one's own home? In other words, for those who are outside the temple, who have their jobs and live in their houses, how is it possible to achieve Krsna consciousness?
Srila Prabhupada: It is very easy. You simply chant Hare Krsna.
Metaphysical Society: How do we chant Hare Krsna?
Srila Prabhupada: As you have seen my disciples chant, and as I am chanting: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Metaphysical Society: What is the meaning of this Hare Krsna mantra?
Srila Prabhupada: Hare means "the energy of God," and Krsna and Rama are names of God. So the mantra means, "Oh, God, I have fallen into this material world. Kindly accept me again." That's all.
Metaphysical Society: From my point of view, your repetition of this mantra over and over again is something like hypnotism. For example, some tribes also chant during various rituals.
Srila Prabhupada: That is your opinion; you are not an authority.
Metaphysical Society: Please explain.
Srila Prabhupada: This is the statement in the Bhagavad-gita [9.14]:
satatam kirtayanto mam
"Always chanting my glories, endeavoring with great determination, bowing down before Me, these great souls perpetually worship Me with devotion." So Krsna says directly, satatam kirtayanto mam: "Always chant My name." It is not that we can chant anything and still receive the same benefit.
Metaphysical Society: I always understood from Indian philosophy that you cannot give God a name because that would be limiting God.
Srila Prabhupada: No. We don't give God a name. God has names according to His actions. Take the name Krsna. Krsna means "all-attractive." That is a quality of God-that He is all-attractive. Similarly, Allah means "great." God is great; therefore he is called Allah. So actually God has no name, but according to His actions He has many names.
Metaphysical Society: You mentioned pain. What is the origin of pain, and what is the origin of pleasure?
Srila Prabhupada: As soon as you come to the material world you must experience the duality of pain and pleasure. We can all appreciate this very easily. Take cold water, for example. Cold water is sometimes painful and sometimes pleasing, is it not? The water is the same, but in winter it is painful and in summer it is pleasing. How can the same thing be both pleasing and painful? Because of changing circumstances. The same thing is either pleasing or painful under different circumstances. Similarly, fire is also sometimes pleasing and sometimes painful. The fire is the same, but circumstantially it becomes painful or pleasing. In the winter season the fire is pleasing, and in the summer season the same fire is painful.
Now, these feelings of pain and pleasure are due to this material body. So if you get out of this material body, and if you remain in your spiritual body, then there will be no more duality of pain and pleasure. Try to understand: the origin of pain and pleasure is our attachment to this material body, but if we can somehow or other get out of this material body, then there will be no more duality of pain and pleasure, but simply eternal pleasure. The Vedanta-sutra confirms this: anandamayo 'bhyasat. "By nature the spirit soul is joyful." And in the Bhagavad-gita [18.54] it is said, brahma-bhutah prasannatma na socati na kanksati: as soon as you become spiritually self-realized, then there are no more flickering pains and pleasures.
Pleasure means "the absence of pain." Since in your spiritual identity there is no pain, there is simply pleasure. So our endeavor should be how to again get our original spiritual body. Our spiritual body is already there, but it is covered by the material body, and therefore we are experiencing pain. But somehow or other, if you remove the covering of the material body, then you will simply be in pleasure. Therefore, our only attempt in this human body should be how to revive our spiritual body. That process is Krsna consciousness. If you simply understand Krsna, then you will revive your spiritual body.
Metaphysical Society: You said that we have a material body and also a spiritual body. Are the spirit and matter born simultaneously; or is matter born first, and then the spirit comes?
Srila Prabhupada: From spirit, matter has come. God said, "Let there be creation." God is spirit and creation is matter—so God was there, and material creation came later on.
Metaphysical Society: Why does the spiritual body become covered by the material body?
Srila Prabhupada: When one goes to prison he has to put aside his usual dress and take the prison dress. Similarly, anyone who comes into this material world has to take a material body. This is the law. Unless you have this material body, how can you feel pleasure in material sense enjoyment? It is just like performing on stage: if you are going to play a certain part, you have to dress accordingly. Therefore, this material body is compared to a dress. For example, every lady and gentleman sitting here—every one of us—has a different dress.
But our dress is superficial. As human beings we are one. Similarly, each one of us has a different bodily dress, but spiritually we are one. And this is true of all living entities: they are in different bodily dresses only.
The dresses are calculated to total 8,400,000 different forms. In the water there are 900,000 different dresses, and there are 2,000,000 different types of trees and plants. There are 1,100,000 species of insects, 1,000,000 types of birds, 3,000,000 types of beasts, and 400,000 forms of human beings. In this way, the living entity is passing through different dresses.
And the best dress is this human form, because in this dress you can understand what God is, what you are, and what your relationship with God is. Then you can act in that relationship and go back home, back to Godhead. In this human form of dress you have developed consciousness.
But if you miss this opportunity to understand God, then again you will be put into the cycle of the evolutionary process. We should not, therefore, misuse this human form. We should utilize it properly to understand the unlimited God and our relationship with Him, and to act on this knowledge. That is the perfection of life.
Metaphysical Society: Thank you very much for speaking with us.
Srila Prabhupada: Thank you for coming here. Hare Krsna.
A Heartwarming Way to Get You Going on a Chilly Day (or any day)
When the frost is on the window, getting going may mean going against your grain. That's the time for an Old Indian surprise—halava. Steaming hot and full of fruit, nuts, and buttery, wheaty goodness, halava will fuel you through the morning in good style. So, whether you're going to climb the Himalayas or catch the 8:01, try going with your grain—halava.
Here are the makings:
1 cup farina (or Cream of Wheat)
Before you start cooking the grains, put the sugar and water into a one-quart saucepan and let the mixture simmer.
Next, melt the butter in a skillet, add the farina, and cook the grains on a low flame for twenty minutes, or until they turn golden brown. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon (don't burn!). Just as the grains are starting to turn golden brown, add the strawberries (or whatever you come up with).
Then, as soon as the grains are ready, bring the sugar-water mixture to a rapid boil and slowly add it to the grains. Keep the whole combination on a low flame for two minutes, stirring all the while.
Finally, take the pan off the flame and stir for one more minute. Chant Hare Krsna (to bring out the best in any dish) and serve hot. (Makes four portions.)
Toward a More Natural Way of Living
Ecologists have long urged us to switch from heavy technology back to farming—"back to the land." But, wouldn't you know, certain other people insist farming depends on technology... Where do we go from here?
by Rupanuga dasa
In a resurging interest in farm life, many people are taking to homesteading For the most part, they seem motivated by desires for freedom from high-priced food and public utilities, or perhaps by a desire for peace of mind and God consciousness (both customarily sought in the comparatively peaceful atmosphere of the country). People of all ages, especially young people, are investigating country life as a way around dependence upon oil and machinery and the health hazards of artificial fertilizers and insecticides. These new farmers are inclined toward "do-it-yourself' inventions and organic gardening. And the dozens of publications dedicated to these ideals give us some indication of just how popular they are becoming.
Ironically, though, while people are looking to the country for a simpler, more natural way of living, the owners of "agribusinesses" (sprawling farm complexes) and the manufacturers of farm equipment are convinced and trying to convince the rest of us that farming depends on technology.
One national advertisement by a farm machinery manufacturer depicts the historical development of farming techniques, leading up to the phenomenal modern harvests. The first illustration shows a single man in a corner of a field cutting small amounts of grain by hand with a scythe. He represents the earliest, "primitive" farming methods. The second illustration shows a man driving a horse-drawn machine, indicating how much more could be accomplished using animals. The third illustration pictures an early tractor in operation, and the series ends with a photograph of a giant, modern tractor silhouetted against a blue sky and endless fields of perfectly cut grain. The tractor is replete with a wrap-around windshield, radio, air conditioning, and padded dash.
But if the first illustration were expanded beyond the close-up of the lone man in one corner of the field, we would see a whole field of men working together with scythes, very much as they still gather bundles of grain in parts of India. In America the process of urbanization has brought nearly all the descendants of those people who formerly worked in the fields with scythes, horses, and oxen into an economic dependence upon a comparatively small number of farmers using sophisticated machinery. Unscrupulous business practices by food processing conglomerates, inflated living costs, a scarcity of honest labor, bad weather, an exodus of young people to the cities, and the high cost of machinery and artificial fertilizers have forced many owners of smaller farms to exploit the land for as much yield as possible, as soon as possible, as often as possible. Yet the numbers of farms going out of business indicate that it still costs too much to produce too little.
The latest federal Agriculture Department figures show that between 1954 and 1974 the United States farm population dropped more than 50%—until today only about 10 million people (out of a nation of more than 200 million) live on farms. In addition, although the total farmland remained at about one billion acres, the number of farms dropped almost 42%. In fact, since the 1940s the number of farms has decreased by three million, and it continues to drop by two thousand per week. Clearly, "agribusiness" is gobbling up the small- and medium-size farms.
This "to-the-hilt" exploitation of land resources has brought the ecological movement of the 1970s down on automated, high-yield farming, the kind that depends almost entirely upon chemical fertilizers. One may argue that such chemicals are, after all, also a part of nature, and that scientists are simply using them in a more advantageous way. However, studies indicate that prolonged use of chemical fertilizers designed to increase soil nitrates creates an artificial dependence on the chemical itself: the chemical fertilizers kill the myriad microorganisms and earthworms in the soil that naturally produce such nitrates.
Initially there may be "bumper" crops, if climatic conditions are good; but eventually the soil loses fertility. And the long-range leaching effect can be disastrous. Wes Buchele, Professor of Agricultural Engineering at Iowa State University, describes the situation in no uncertain terms. "We've lost one-half of the country's topsoil since we started farming here." Perhaps the fledgling back-to-the-land movement is more than the desperate attempt of a few oversensitive malcontents to escape city life. Perhaps it's the first indication of an agricultural movement that can avert ecological catastrophe.
Let's look at the historical background of modern agricultural techniques:
Forshadowing the massive introduction of chemical fertilizers were the theories of nineteenth-century German chemist Baron Justus von Liebig, who in 1840 published an essay entitled "Chemistry in Its Application to Agriculture and Physiology." His idea was that when a living plant is incinerated and all its organic matter destroyed, the mineral salts remaining in the ashes will contain all that's required for its growth (basically potash, nitrates, and phosphates.) Other scientists and agriculturalists concluded that simply adding these chemicals to the soil would maintain its fertility.
Although this conclusion apparently oversimplified ages of agricultural practice, the observable results were impressive. Artificial fertilizers composed of the above chemicals and calcium oxide (lime) produced good initial crops—which seemed to verify Liebig's experiments. This apparent breakthrough led to the astronomical fertilizer production now so lucrative for the chemical industry. Typically, whenever a farmer has a soil test made on his fields, if the laboratory report indicates deficiencies of phosphate, lime, and so on, he receives a formula of chemicals. He then adds them to the soil to correct the imbalance. Here we have the basis of the prevalent belief that "you get out of the soil what you put into it."
However, this conclusion came into question a few years ago, when the French agricultural bulletin "Nature et Progres" disclosed a startling experiment. A researcher reported that every month for one year, he had monitored two identical soils—one to which only fermented compost had been added, and one to which an organic mixture rich in phosphorus had been added. At the end of the year, the first sample contained one-third more phosphorus than the second sample, the one to which phosphorus had originally been added.
Thus, soil itself can produce phosphorus without any external supply of this mineral. The researcher called it "a miracle of the living soil!" One wonders where the phosphorus in the first sample came from, since none was added before or during the experiment. After all, chemists have learned that it's impossible to create new elements or transform one element into another (that is, to alter an element's atomic structure) simply by chemical reactions. At the same time, many scientists still believe that all reactions occurring in nature are in fact simply chemical—or, in other words, that life comes from chemicals.
But this conviction came under fire from another chemist, Albrecht von Herzeele, who in 1873 performed some experiments that were subsequently ignored. Von Herzeele demonstrated that seeds sprouted in distilled water, with nothing added but air, increased their content of elements like sulphur, calcium, and magnesium (although the law of conservation of matter holds that this is impossible). This experiment proved that plants can continuously create matter as well as absorb matter from soil, water, and air. Von Herzeele claimed that plants could also transmute or change one element into another (such as phosphorus into sulphur, and so on).
In 1958, after ten years of experiments, Professor Pierre Baranger, director of organic chemistry at the Ecole Polytechnique, in Paris, announced his verification of Herzeele's work to a distinguished gathering of scientists at Switzerland's Institut Genevois. By 1963 he had demonstrated that as leguminous seeds (like those producing common alfalfa and clover hay) grow in a manganese-salt solution, iron replaces the manganese. In time he explained more about such germinations, including the exact lunar phases that affected them. Baranger concluded that plants are constantly producing chemical transmutations of elements—without the enormous energy of modern "atom smashers," which till then had been the only known means for transmuting one chemical into another.
Louis Kervran, another French scientist, also contends that lunar phases are extremely important in the germination of crops, and that by transmutation, microorganisms maintain the balance of elements in the soil. He concludes that transmutation results from enzymes that act as catalysts for the reaction. Kervran points out that enzyme activities are biological in origin, not chemical (although the results may be chemical); thus, the classic laws of chemistry do not apply to these phenomena. In other words, he contradicts the assertion that life comes only from chemical combinations. Kervran notes in his "Biological Transmutations" (1962) "that matter has a property so far unexplained by modern science."
In his book The Nature of Substance (1968), Rudolf Hauschka further hints that this property of matter is its dependence upon life, that chemicals constantly come from life, and that life comes from life (not from chemicals, not from matter). Having duplicated many of Herzeele's experiments, Hauschka concludes that life is not the result of a combination of elements, but that it precedes the elements: "It is logical to assume that life existed long before matter and originates in a preexistent spiritual cosmos."
The first Western scientist to demonstrate the real importance of life activities in agriculture was Sir Albert Howard, who at the turn of the century was the imperial botanist to the Indian government. Beginning in Pusa, Bengal, and continuing for forty years in other parts of the subcontinent, Howard managed several experimental agricultural stations. His famous book An Agricultural Testament (1943) inspired a surgeon named J. I. Rodale to begin the organic farming movement in the United States, during the early 1940s. By following the ancient methods of Indian farmers—who regularly aerated the soil, used no artificial fertilizers or pesticides, and returned accumulated cow manure and compost to the land—Howard virtually eliminated disease from both soil and animals. Also, he managed dairy cows and kept oxen for plowing. He wrote, "With no chemical help from science, and by observation alone, he [the Indian farmer] has in the course of ages adjusted his methods of agriculture to the conservation of soil fertility in a most remarkable manner... For countless ages he has been able to maintain the present standard of fertility."
In typical empiric fashion, Howard attributed the remarkable success of Indian farmers to their powers of observation. He did not study the origins of their technology—the Vedic. literature, which prohibits artificial fertilizers, the growing of tobacco (Howard himself grew that) and other intoxicants, and the killing of cows and bulls. Cows, the basis of a balanced agriculture, provided milk products from the consumption of grasses, and bulls tilled the fields, provided transportation, and so on. And both cows and bulls provided ample organic fertilizer. The Vedas also indicate that the growth of vegetation relates directly to the phases of the moon.
Although he copied the technology of the Bengali farmers, Howard did not actually live among them. Their ancient life-style, called isavasya—God-centered—was still prevalent when Howard conducted his experiments (although it had largely deteriorated into a vestigial "caste system" throughout most of India, on account of the prolonged Muhammadan and British occupations). The survival of the God-centered conception was due primarily to the powerful rejuvenation of Vedic culture by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. His influence was great throughout India, and especially in Bengal, some four hundred years before Howard's time.
This God-centered conception is relevant because it forms the basis for a workable agricultural life-style. Such a life-style includes a strict consideration of the ecological balance between humans, animals, the land, and God. Although sophisticated modern farmers might concede that the success of their endeavors, including their use of innovative machinery, depends in the end on "acts of Providence or God," or at least upon chance, the isavasya (God-centered) farmer considers that long-range production and ecological balance require actual God consciousness. Therefore, even today in the Nadia district of Bengal, farmers make a point of gratefully offering God a portion of the crop in the form of prasada, or vegetarian food preparations. These offerings are often part of community celebrations (called kirtana parties) in which the members of the community or village meet, especially in the morning and evening, to chant God's holy names and dance.
This God-centered mentality shows us something—not about a "primitive" agrarian culture, as the British used to think (Howard had to caution his readers not to think in terms of "ignorant, backward villagers"), nor about some distant Indian sect, but about a life-style that's in real harmony with the ideals of the modern American back-to-the-land movement. In fact, some of the most successful of the modern farm communities are based expressly upon isavasya principles. Still more or less in the early stages, including locations in Missouri, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Tennessee, these communities are nevertheless impressive—especially the fifteen-hundred-acre community in Moundsville, West Virginia. Needless to say, these projects draw their inspiration from the Vedic culture, especially from the teachings of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) say that these farm communities of theirs don't use technological prowess to try to outwit natural laws. Rather, community members try to do their work in a God-conscious way. "Success cannot come by working at your own risk," says Kirtanananda Svami, founder and director of the community in West Virginia (called "New Vrindavan"). "You may get good results for a while, but lasting success depends on how conscious you are of your relationship with the actual proprietor of nature."
Gradually, the community members are becoming aware that God is always present—in every place and at every moment. As they learn this art of being conscious of God's presence, these people naturally develop a devotional, serving attitude toward everyone, including humans, plants, and animals. They see all living beings as spiritually equal, because all living beings are equally related with God. Thus, devotees can attest that returning to the land, to vegetarianism, to nonviolence, to herbal medicine, and to ecological concern—returning to nature—necessitates returning to God (Krsna) consciousness, our natural consciousness. The age-old Vedic literatures describe that consciousness, in clear-cut, scientific terms.
In fact, in most instances the work of scientists like Howard, Kervran, Baranger, and Hauschka echoes these Vedic conclusions. Howard, for example, simply rediscovered ancient, biologically sound, and ecologically balanced agrarian practices based upon Vedic principles. And Hauschka's assertion that life is not a combination of elements, that instead it "precedes" matter and "originates in a preexistent spiritual cosmos," tells us what the Vedic literatures said thousands of years ago. The Bhagavad-gita, the essence of the Vedas, verifies that individual life is never created or destroyed, but that it is moving (transmigrating) among temporary bodies sustained by God (Krsna), the original life.
The other scientists we've mentioned have introduced conceptions in chemistry and biology that forecast a reevaluation and expansion of modern science's standard notions. The conceptions of these men reveal a new respect and appreciation for nature and a budding awareness of the ultimately transcendent quality of life itself. We may interpret these developments as a prologue to the imminent age of antimaterialism and spiritual enlightenment predicted in the fifteenth century by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. As the Srimad-Bhagavatam (the Vedic literature specifically intended for this age) points out, chemistry, biology, psychology, economics, sociology, and other modern disciplines, when pursued objectively, are sure to arrive at the same absolute truth—consciousness of God, or Krsna. And a simpler, more natural way of living will result.
A look at the worldwide activities of the
Parents Proud of Krsna Movement
Recently, a few people, including some elements of the news media, have leveled charges against ISKCON ranging from "brainwashing" to "kidnapping" to "false advertising." Leading the attack are a few parents of devotees. To gauge the broad sentiment of our members' parents, we did a survey and found the overwhelming majority favorable to the Krsna consciousness movement. Here are two typical responses to our question, "How would you evaluate your child's participation in the Hare Krsna movement?"
Mrs. Polly Perlmutter of Bloomfield, Connecticut; said this:
"My son Daniel (Sravanananda dasa) entered the Hare Krsna movement almost five years ago... I would say that the movement has given a discipline and deep meaning to my son's life. I do not forget that this movement is not all things to all people, but to my son it is fulfilling and beautiful. In our minds (my husband's and mine) we compare our son's life to the life of a Catholic, monk or a religious Jew in a Hassidic sect:
"Do I think that my son is brainwashed? I can best answer this by asking the question, 'Is our very society not being brainwashed daily by the advertising media (liquor and cigarette ads) and pornographic movies and literature'." And what about the children who are being 'educated' by the violence and killing on television? I prefer that my son is devoting his life to the love of God and the service of humanity—a rare endeavor in this age. And since I know that my son has voluntarily chosen the Hare Krsna movement to exercise these rights, and that he can leave it whenever he wishes, I cannot see how the term 'brainwashing' can be applicable to this movement. I sincerely believe from my contacts with many devotees that they are happy and have found fulfillment by loving and serving Lord Krsna (God). This may not be my wish for my life, but my son has chosen it for his, and I wholeheartedly respect it."
Mrs. Loretta F. Senesi of Long Island, New York, had this to say:
"I have a son who has been in the Hare Krsna movement for six years, and I can truly say that I have respect and admiration for him. He married in the movement and has a devoted wife and two lovely children. They live clean, spiritual lives and are happy. I have visited the temple many times and participated in their devotional services spoken with many devotees, and seen their enthusiasm. They are all intelligent, honest, and sincere. My son has been free to visit at home with his family, and he has done so many times. I feel that the Krsna movement has given my son a new purpose in life, and also a deep concern for his fellow man.
"The Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of religion. Where is this freedom when parents are allowed to kidnap their children and forcibly try to change their beliefs" These same parents should, I feel, love their children for what they are, and not for what they want them to be. What objection can there he to this movement, when the devotees are working for the Lord and all mankind, trying to spread God Consciousness throughout the world? When you look around and see how some people live, how they are wasting their lives, I say thank God for Krsna consciousness."
Meanwhile, on the West Coast, Mrs. Rose Forkash (left) of Carpenteria, California, has organized devotees' parents to counteract the propaganda against ISKCON and to deepen the communication between devotees and their parents. Mrs. Forkash, the mother of Lilasakti dasi, knows many devotees personally. Her advice to others whose children are "Krishnas": "I hope the parents will look into the hearts of their children and see what they're seeing—and learn to love God, as they are."
Dr. William F. Shipley, professor of. linguistics at the University of California (Santa Cruz), has this to say about the book widely known as "the essence of all Vedic knowledge": "The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust edition of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is [by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada] proves to be an inspiration and a delight... This is a beautiful book, subtly combining excellent scholarship with a reverent sensitivity."
"Meditation," says psychiatrist Wolfgang Kretschmer, "has a good chance of eventually becoming one of the leading therapeutic techniques." More and more psychologists, psychiatrists; and doctors from institutions like Harvard and UCLA are supporting this view, Their articles are appearing in Science, Scientific American, The American Journal of Psychiatry, the Journal of Counseling Psychology; and other publications.
In Psychology Today; Dr. Daniel Goleman says meditators can better handle stress, that they feel more in control of their lives, and that they have "fewer psychological or psychosomatic problems such as colds, headaches, and sleeplessness." In the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Dr. John Heider says spiritual disciplines like meditation, yoga, and mantras [the Hare Krsna mantra, for instance] are "as necessary to a life of growth as regular brushing is to dental hygiene."
Dr. Allan Gerson and Dr. Ronald Huff have conducted studies on the psychological effects of chanting the Hare Krsna mantra. They find chanters "are more keenly aware and have sharper mental cognitions." Also, "chanters have a clear sense of identity. They know who they are in relationship to the universe, where they're going, and how they can improve themselves and the world around them." And Gerson and Huff describe Hare Krsna meditators as "friendly, warm, and outgoing as a group, as well as individually."
Unfortunately, some parents of Hare Krsna meditators have reacted unfavorably to their new life-style. In fact, some parents have even gone so far as to break the law, by hiring professionals to abduct their legal-age children. These abductors are euphemistically called "deprogrammers," and they employ intensive psychological and even physical abuse on Hare Krsna meditators to make them renounce their new life-style.
Even more disturbing are the efforts of perhaps a dozen psychiatrists and psychologists to legitimize such illegal activity. Ignoring the previously mentioned body of scientific data, they label meditation and the chanting of Hare Krsna as "brainwashing" and "mind control." They neglect to say that worldwide there are literally millions of Krsna centers (including those in India), and that there are tens of millions of perfectly normal people who chant the Hare Krsna mantra for self improvement. In other words, with unsubstantiated claims these people are trying to take away fundamental American liberties—freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and the simple freedom to live; your own life as you see fit.
History offers us grim examples of similar abuses. Hitler used psychology and psychiatry as justifications for his extermination campaigns. The Soviet Union also uses these professions to repress critics and minority lifestyles. Clearly, this misuse of the psychological sciences endangers American freedom.
On the legal front, the battle is reaching its peak in New York. On October 14, a grand jury in Queens County indicted the Krsna consciousness movement and two of its members on an unprecedented charge of "illegal imprisonment by mind control." The case grew out of the attempts of two families to have their legal-age offspring removed from the flare Krsna center in New York and "deprogrammed." When the "deprogramming"' failed and the two members—a man, twenty-two, and a woman, twenty-four—returned to the group, the frustrated parents gained the cooperation of a judge, a district attorney, and a grand jury. And they had two Hare Krsna leaders indicted.
The District Attorney's office then had the man and woman sequestered as "material witnesses" and sought to have them committed to mental institutions for "treatment." In fact, the court did commit the young man. After two weeks he was released—a court-appointed team of psychiatrists who had examined him for a week testified that he was perfectly sane and competent. However, an avid supporter of "deprogramming," psychiatrist John G. Clark, Jr., felt that the young man's ability to conceal his symptoms was "proof" of the depth of the brainwashing he had undergone. The doctor and the young man's parents urged that he be put into isolation and subjected to "stress tests" ("deprogramming") to break the alleged mind control. But the hospital psychiatrists said that such tactics would "raise serious questions about the patient's legal rights and about ethical consideration in the practice of medicine."
The hospital psychiatrists gave the young man a clean bill of health. How seriously, then, can anyone take Dr. Clark's diagnosis? Whether tests show a problem or not, whether other professionals see a problem or not, people like Dr. Clark insist that there is a problem. And, what is really frightening, Dr. Clark feels that to deal with the "problem," he should have the right to drastically interfere with another person's freedom. Before individuals like Dr. Clark involve everyone in a senseless witch-hunt, they might first submit themselves for psychological testing.
Happily the judge. sensed that the attempts to commit the woman were what he called "a ploy," and he released her.
What Is Brainwashing?
Originally, the term "brainwashing" referred to a Chinese Communist method of ideological persuasion through extreme psychological and often physical coercion. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines brainwashing as "a colloquial term...applied to any technique designed to manipulate human thought or action against the desire, will, or knowledge of the individual." In popular usage it becomes an imprecise, all-encompassing, and pejorative term for describing any- kind of persuasion or behavior that we disagree with.
The Krsna consciousness movement is a bona fide religious and Cultural organization based upon the ancient spiritual tradition of India. Its, founder and spiritual leader, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, is a distinguished scholar and religious leader of international repute, His authoritative translations and commentaries on India's ancient religious and philosophical classics are studied in universities throughout the world.
The ways in which people join the Krsna consciousness movement are quite informal (talking with members, reading books, using, Krsna consciousness meditation techniques, and so forth). A member of the movement is free to increase or decrease his involvement as he or she sees fit. Also, an intensive psychological study of more than fifty members conducted in 1975 by Dr. Allan Gerson produced not the slightest sign of "brainwashing," In fact, Dr, Gerson was surprised by the members' above-average mental health.
Parents sometimes make up their own minds to hire deprogrammers. More often, however, the deprogrammers actively persuade parents that their sons and daughters have been "brainwashed" by the Krsna consciousness movement or are under its "mind control.'" Some parents have hired vigilantes like Ted Patrick (who is now serving a one-year jail sentence, in Orange County, California, for false imprisonment of a Krsna member). Such "deprogramming" amounts to nothing less than extreme psychological and often physical intimidation aimed at inducing a person to renounce his or her life-style. Usually, the "deprogrammers" isolate and restrain the victim. Then they confiscate and destroy religious apparel and possessions (books, holy pictures, and so forth), and they vilify the person's beliefs through hours of shouting, In one case, the physically beat a pregnant mother. In another case, a Hare Krsna member refused to stop reciting prayers, and they filled his mouth with ice and gagged him. Such "deprogramming" often lasts for several weeks—all this to get the "brainwashed" person back to a "normal" state, in which he can again make "free choices." That these torture sessions have been euphemistically called "stress tests," "intensive therapy" and "reality-inducing therapy" should not, perhaps, strike us as unusual, In our age of Orwellian ''Newspeak," Hitler named his death camps "Charitable Foundations for Institutional Care."
The Threat To You
"Deprogrammers" are a ruthless bunch. William Willoughby, religion editor of the Washington Star, revealed the mercenary side of "deprogramming" when he wrote, "The fees they're charging run $3,000.00 or more for the kidnappings and brainwashing (pardon me deprogramming)... Frighteningly, "deprogramming" groups have gotten police, judges, and district attorneys to bend the law in assisting "deprogrammings." And, because of their mercenary motives "deprogrammers" have abducted not only Hare Krsna members but also Catholics and Protestants, among others. In Human Behavior magazine Wayne Sage reports, "The deprogrammers say, privately, that they would like to use their techniques against Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses." If "deprogrammers" and their academic accomplices succeed in getting legal cover for their crimes, any American who lives a life contrary to their standards will face abduction and torture. Judge Logan Moore said to Ted Patrick on the day of his sentencing, "This country never functioned well under vigilantes. Your efforts are such, and if We ruled in your favor, it wouldn't stop with anyone. We would have condemned religious freedom."
The National Council of Churches and other organizations have looked into the issue. The Council found no evidence of brainwashing among the religions, but plenty of evidence to condemn the deprogrammers, The Council's Governing Board said, "...kidnapping to compel religious deconversion is criminal." The world's lending expert on brainwashing, Dr. William Sargant, said in Britain's Guardian (October 4, 1976) that "deprogramming" "is the sort of thing Charles Manson used, on people and very much the sort of thing that was done to Patty Hearst." Dr. Sargant concluded by saying that he would be "dreadfully horrified" if "deprogramming" came into use in Britain.
In another recent editorial, Church & State magazine said, "For the state through the police and courts to allow and thereby encourage religious kidnapping is for the state itself to blast gaping holes through the constitutional shields of our most husk rights which the police and courts exist to defend... Law enforcement officials must protect the rights of all persons to believe as they please and must restrain the deprogrammers... Let us bury it ["deprogramming"]. before it buries our liberties."
What disturbs us most is the mistrust that "deprogrammers" are planting in the public's mind about meditation, yoga, and chanting Hare Krsna, Science is proving the effectiveness of these techniques in advancing the cause of personal and social health. And, in December, 1976, Governor Edmund Brown, Jr. urged the sending of "priests, nuns, ministers, and Hare Krsna followers" into California's mental hospitals to help improve patient conditions. Hare Krsna mantra meditation is helping thousands of Americans to raise their consciousness to higher and happier levels. It seems tragic that this good work is being maligned.
Please Help Us Correct This Situation
There is a threat to our basic human rights, and the time for action is now. We urge all Americans of conscience to take a stand against criminal "deprogramming—please contact the press and radio and television stations and the police, the courts, and other government agencies in your local area. We especially urge psychiatrists, psychologists, and doctors to speak out against the misuse of their professions, To help in the New York case, write a letter (protesting the absurd and unprecedented charge of "illegal imprisonment by mind control") to:
If you want more information on how you can help. or if you are a professional (doctor, lawyer, psychologist) and can give us advice or assistance, please write to:
Michael A. Grant
A former civil rights worker
by Gurudasa Swami
"Civil War in Northern Ireland." "Bomb Scare in Hotel Europa—Three Die in Terrorist Attack." The headlines screamed across the world from the tiny island.
"Control Zone—Unattended Vehicles Will Be Towed Away," the yellow signs shouted, and they seemed to be everywhere. At first we couldn't figure out the reason for the signs, but we soon learned: terrorists put a bomb in a stolen car, drive the car-bomb up to a target, then run and let the bomb go off. Usually, the target is a pub; more casualties that way. We also saw plenty of oil drums filled with cement and connected by thick iron bars, looking like so many fat folk dancers with their arms on one another's shoulders. These drums keep car-bombs from coming up past the curbs and next to the buildings.
A man with one leg, another with a patch over an eye, a maimed child—all were common sights. At the infamous junction of the Falls and Shankhill roads (the scene of much of Belfast's violence), we met a man from the bomb squad, which is called "Felix" because they need nine lives and then some. Whenever there's a bomb scare or an unattended package or car, they come to investigate and, if necessary, to deactivate. "Our job isn't easy," the man explained, "because these bombs have devices that explode if you move them or even shine a flashlight on them. Quite a few of my friends have been blown up."
One day we saw and heard two great explosions and two buildings blown to the ground. Rubble was everywhere. A blackish cloud hung over the area for hours, and human limbs stuck out from between the wood and stone. Another day we were on the way to a launderette with large bundles of clothes. We asked directions, and when we reached the spot where the launderette was supposed to be, there was nothing left. Most times when we went to use a phone box, we'd find it bomb-gutted.
By asking a few questions, we learned that the terrorists start their training at age five and their vandalism at age six. In fact, a six-year-old's first duty is setting bombs off. As a result, bands of youngsters roam the streets, and bombs may explode at any moment. One day we noticed that except for a few smouldering scraps, a huge gasoline storage tank had disappeared.
On every street we saw the remnants of houses that may once have been the whole world to the people who lived in them. The illusion was gone now, of course. Here was bare-faced evidence of how the material world changes and decays. You just couldn't get around it—something once quite solid now destroyed, someone once quite alive now dead, someone once quite happy now heartbroken. You could say this for Belfast: the old adage "Here today, gone tomorrow" really hit home.
The people's character seemed just about as changeable—a strange mixture of piety and mischief, peace and violence, happiness and sadness, mysticism and cynicism, friendliness and suspicion. Very rarely did anyone walk alone; they were more likely to stay in groups, almost like herds of animals leery of attack. Younger children told me that they didn't go out after dark, for fear of being shot. Anxiety appeared to be the watchword.
One man who visited our mobile bus-temple said it seemed like "a portable oasis." It was a small oasis, to be sure, but anyone could come in off the street and take in the peaceful feeling of the little temple room and its library of age-old Vedic literatures, English renderings by my spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Our advance man, Bhaumadeva dasa, would go ahead of the bus to see professors, community leaders, terrorist leaders, police spokesmen, youth groups, and newspaper and t.v. reporters, and he set up a good number of festival programs for our group. A number of people were so glad we were coming that they gave us an honorarium. In a town called either Derry or Londonderry (depending on your point of view), one man was crying. "We thank you so much!" he said. "No one comes here anymore—they're too afraid. They won't even come for money, what to speak of for an idea or belief, as you people have."
In Belfast we saw hundreds of bombed-out houses, with windows broken and roofs charred—blackish skeletons that used to be brownstone shelters. Soldiers carrying machine guns were a common sight. But life went on, the soldiers mixing with the shoppers, even though at any moment violence could break out. The people stepped over and through rubble as if it didn't exist.
On the day we arrived, television, radio, and newspaper interviewers came to talk with us. One man asked, "What can you suggest that would put an end to the fighting between the Catholics and the Protestants?"
"We can overcome this sectarianism," I said, "if we can understand what's inside our bodies—if we can relate on a loving basis of soul to soul. This fighting because of 'Catholicism' or 'Protestantism' or any 'ism' is artificial. Love of God is for everybody; it's not 'Catholic' or Protestant.' Would we say, 'He's Mr. Green Coat; he's Mr. Orange Shirt'? Then why should we say 'He's Catholic; he's Protestant'? What is the historical or geographical beginning of love of God? It has no beginning or end. So the alternative to this problem of sectarianism is to understand that we are not these material bodies, with all their labels. We're spiritual persons; we all have the same spiritual father."
In a slightly challenging tone, a t.v. announcer asked, "Do you think that Northern Ireland can use another religion? Do you think another religion will help?"
I answered, "This is not exactly a religion; it's a way of life. Northern Ireland and the world could surely use another way of life." The man ended his interview with "Thank you" and a thoughtful "Hmmm."
Many people would approach us as we went around the country. Sometimes they'd say, "If there were more like you, this would be a better place." Apparently they wanted to hear us, because they made room for us right in the middle of their towns. So, surrounded by soldiers, barricades, and barbed wire, we put on festivals. The first day in Lurgen a huge crowd of people came.
Of course, at night we always made it a point to stay outside the cities, because of the possible violence. In Lurgen, for instance, we stayed near a big lake. In Lisburne, we found a little country lane. In Bangor, a port town, the people gave us permission to stay at Pickie Pool Marina, a natural seawater pool.
We put on festivals in Bangor (on the coast) for three days. Each one of our programs included chanting and explaining the maha-mantra (Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare), a short talk with questions and answers, a drama, a film, and vegetarian prasada (spiritual food). The people were really receptive.
One of the highlights, we found, was the drama. We put on two street plays, The Boatman and the Scholar and The Genie in the Bottle. The latter depicted a genie who came out of the bottle warning that if he didn't get something to do, he'd kill the person who'd set him free. The idea was that if you don't engage your mind in something useful, your mind will do away with its master, your intelligence. Bhaumadeva, our advance man, made a delightful genie—with green cheeks, purple lips, wide, bulging eyes, and so on. He'd spring out of the "bottle" (a blanket) right there on the street. In the towns and villages we did this play many times, and the people would get amazingly involved.
At first the king (who had liberated the genie) would say, "I want you to repair and wash all the broken windows in Belfast." That's a lot of broken windows, but the genie would make a noise, run off, and be back practically in no time.
"It's done, master."
Next the king would ask the genie, "Trim all the hedges in my kingdom," and the genie would run off and come back again almost before the king could turn around.
Finally, with sword flashing, the genie would say, "Give me something else to do—or I'll kill you!"
When the king couldn't think of anything else to keep the genie busy, he'd muse to himself, "Ah! The genie should chant Hare Krsna—that's one thing you can do forever!"
At that point, the king encouraged the whole crowd to help the genie in chanting, and the people would join in the chanting to help keep the genie satisfied. A young girl said, "This is the third time I've seen this play; I like the genie."
Many times we'd talk with people on the street—all kinds of people, some from the Ulster Defense Army (the U.D.A.), others from the I.R.A., still others from the peace movement, and occasionally a few from "Felix," the bomb squad.
In Belfast, almost daily we went into the City Centre and through the barricades of the Control Zone, where we put on a street drama, gave an address, and chanted Hare Krsna. The people received us quite well. Once, when a drunken man tried to disrupt the play, the audience shouted him away.
Even the radio and television spread the word when we were getting ready to go into the two big trouble areas, the Shankhill and Falls roads. One was a Protestant stronghold, the other a Catholic stronghold; fighting would break out at the junction. And these people weren't just squabbling or name-calling. They meant business and shot to kill, and, as I say, their children were taking after them. Yet many from both sides would ask us "When are you coming? When you do, our house is the green one on the right" (or whatever). Once the car battery ran out, and I asked a gentleman to help. He did, and he asked me what we were doing in Northern Ireland. When I told him he said, "If there's anything you need—anything—just come to my house and ask me. Day or night-just ask."
On top of the bus we mounted a platform that held six to eight devotees. Then we installed a run-around railing and a public-address system, complete with two microphones and some sturdy speakers. All over Northern Ireland's towns and villages, most people were both friendly and eager to share our festive mood. Sometimes they'd dance in the street or give us "thumbs up" from their windows. Policemen and soldiers grinned. One trooper put his gun down and took a photo as we passed. The children ran out of holes in the battered walls. Old people smiled and hobbled along after us, and many swayed their heads to one side (their silent way of saying, "That's nice"). Some of the kids jumped up and down when we went by, and many of them climbed onto the bus and joined us. Others just waved, and we waved back. Once, through open windows, what looked like a whole schoolhouseful of hands and faces waved and smiled.
People encouraged us in so many ways. They were especially friendly when we rode on the top of the bus like that. In a grand procession we'd go along the Falls Road, chanting and dancing on top of the bus. At the same time I'd announce that we were going to come to a specific park the next day and give out spiritual food. Then Bhaumadeva—the genie—would get out of the bus and pass out leaflets and candy. A million kids would follow him, as though he were handing out gold. They were chanting Hare Krsna and skipping and following the bus down the street.
Also, I'd talk to the people through the public-address system and encourage them to chant. Sometimes, when I saw people standing before their shops, I'd say something like, "Everyone in Nelly's Knitting Store should chant Hare Krsna." They would be all excited because we were speaking about them in their shops, and they'd try to chant. Other times I'd say, "Anyone with his hands in his pockets and his front teeth missing should chant Hare Krsna." When they realized that we were speaking about them, they'd perk up and chant. Or I'd say, "Anyone walking a dog should chant Hare Krsna," or "All patients in the Royal Hospital should chant Hare Krsna," and so on.
One very interesting thing happened in the Falls Road. Just when we were preparing to leave and had stopped chanting, some of the same children who'd been so joyous and peaceful reverted to their old ways. They started picking up stones and throwing them at us on top of the bus, and we had to leave rather hurriedly. It seemed that as soon as the chanting stopped, the genie of the mind wanted to go on a killing spree again and block out the natural good feelings for Krsna and everybody else.
It was becoming clear. When someone is thinking "I'm Irish," "I'm American," "I'm African," that's a lower state of consciousness. A more evolved state of consciousness would be, "I'm a spiritual individual; I have a lasting, loving relationship with the Lord, with everyone." Of course, that basic idea appears in all the scriptures of the world. You'd think it would have sunk in by now, but some of these people weren't too keen on hearing it. Sometimes they'd come up, pretend to be interested, and suddenly start jeering. And sometimes young people would throw stones. Usually, though, the people were beautiful.
Take the Senior Citizens Club of Coleraine, for instance. The festival we put on for them was much like other festivals (including ones at the Overseas Students Club, the Baha'i hall, a girl's school called Fort Hill Intermediate, Ulster College, Queens College, and Londonderry Technical School).
"We're members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness," I began. "This isn't a new movement. It's been going on for thousands and thousands of years. In fact, the Vedic culture is as old as the planet. We're dedicated to simple living, with God as the goal and God as the center of all that we do. This life-style is also known as bhakti-yoga, the yoga of devotion.
"The backbone of this yoga process is chanting or singing the holy name of the Lord. This chanting is called a mantra. The word manas means 'mind,' and tr means 'to deliver'—a cleansing of the mind. When we sing Hare Krsna, we cleanse the mind of all the dust that has accumulated there. This is a yoga process that we can all do very simply. Yoga doesn't really mean that you have to do gymnastics or push your nose; it means that you link up with God, Krsna." Then I said the Hare Krsna mantra, and the people said it after me.
"Now I'd like to introduce these ancient instruments. These little hand cymbals are called karatalas; they're made from old guns—certainly a nice alternative for Northern Ireland. This is the basic rhythm—one-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three-and you can follow it by clapping your hands. Then I'd introduce the mrdanga (an oblong clay drum whose small end makes a bell-like sound and whose big end makes a long, low sound) and the harmonium (a small, hand-pumped Indian "organ"). While everyone was clapping, I explained that chanting is a spiritual conversation. "First you hear the leader sing, and then you sing while he listens. So let's try it." The senior citizens got into the chanting easily and seemed to be really enjoying themselves. You'd have sworn they had done this before.
Then I spoke a little bit about the "old-age problem." "In the Vedic culture," I said, "people who were old and experienced in living were honored rather than neglected. Even if an older person couldn't walk far, people would come to hear him. This is called sannyasa, the renounced stage of life. At that point all the knowledge, all the training, all the experience, all the practice that you've gained you give to others. Not that the very people you once supported now reject you—instead, they respect you all the more. Nowadays, they're only waiting for you to leave them something in your will. In the Vedic culture, the elderly really give something to the whole society—they give God consciousness."
Before the festival ended we put on our "genie" drama—everyone got involved in it—and again we had a question-and-answer session, feasting, and chanting. During the last chant the senior citizens got up and raised their arms "toward Krsna" (I showed them, naturally), and we did "the swami step" (one foot crossing the other, back and forth—Srila Prabhupada showed this to his first American students, back in 1966). So all of us chanted and danced together. When it was time to leave, these kind people said the festival had been "one of the best moments of our lives. Now, what more can we do for Krsna?"
"If you and your children and grandchildren keep chanting Hare Krsna," I said, "you'll see what more Krsna can do for you. For one thing, you'll have peace here in Northern Ireland."
Reportedly someone once asked Gandhi, "What do you think of Western civilization?"
He quipped, "I think it would be a good idea."
Another time he observed, "The real strength of India [of the age-old Vedic civilization] lies in her villages."
It used to be easy for us New Yorkers and Londoners and Chicagoans and Parisians to shrug off remarks like these. ("What do those people know, anyway?")
It used to be easy, until people like Dr. Theodore Roszak and E.F. Schumacher (a British economist, no less) pointed to corruption and pollution and started writing books like Where the Wasteland Ends and Small Is Beautiful—telling us what those people knew all along.
"The cultivation and expansion of needs," says Schumacher, "is the antithesis of wisdom...the antithesis of freedom and peace. Every increase of needs tends to increase one's dependence on outside forces over which one cannot have control, and therefore increases existential fear. Only by a reduction of needs can one promote a genuine reduction in those tensions which are the ultimate cause of strife and war."
The people on these pages make use of simple technology—things that really save time and labor. They just don't care for technology that saves you little and enslaves you a lot. They have enough of everything, but over profit margins and migraine headaches they prefer peace of mind and freedom of soul.
It was the eve of Rajoman's wedding day. In joyful anticipation he put on his finest silk turban, tunic, and robes, and then his most precious jeweled ornaments. As he rushed to join his father and friends, he heard them calling, "Rajoman! Please hurry! It's getting late and we have a long journey before us! We have to reach Gudara, your bride's village, before morning!" Just then the lad emerged from the house, and the group went on their exuberant way.
In Bengal, India, the scene of our story, there are many rivers. The sacred Ganges floods the plain, reaching out to the sea like a hand grasping with outstretched fingers. Approaching one such river at nightfall, Rajoman's party saw some boatmen clustered around a campfire.
"Ho! Boatmen!" Rajoman's father called out. "Take us to the village of Gudara and you'll earn a week's wages in one night!"
The head boatman looked over the well-dressed group and said, "You're going to a wedding?"
"Certainly! Can't you see how my son has become a great lord today? But tomorrow," the father laughed, "he shall become the slave of the beautiful maiden Opal!"
"Ha ha! Well, climb aboard, you happy people! We'll get you to Gudara by morning, for we have a fair wind to help us, and strong backs as well!"
Now the marriage party boarded the simple but sturdy craft. Tired from the evening's walk and lulled by the boatmen's rhythmic rowing, Rajoman and his companions soon fell asleep.
As soon as the new day dawned, the young bridegroom awoke. But his excitement turned to anger when he raised his head and glanced toward the riverbank.
"Look!" he shouted. "We haven't even moved a yard from where we were last night! What do you say, boatman?! Are you playing games with me?! If so, you're in for trouble!"
"Now hold on!" the boatman replied. "Don't forget that we've been working hard all night long—while you slept. I'm as perplexed about this as you are!"
Then, from the stern of the boat, Rajoman's father cried out, "Look here! I've solved the mystery! All this time the anchor's been sunk into the riverbed!"
Our human body is like a boat, and the success of our voyage depends on how we use our mind—as an anchor, or a rudder. If we keep our mind sunk into self-serving, we'll stay moored here in this world, lifetime after lifetime. If we keep our mind engaged in serving the Supreme Lord, then we'll have smooth sailing to spiritual enlightenment.