The International Society for 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 of our readers to consider them with an open mind and then visit one of the ISKCON center to see how they are being applied inevery day 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 know 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:
Jagannatha dasa, Sanskrit student: "There are thousands of verses in the Sanskrit scriptures that explain the unlimited, eternal benefit we gain by chanting Hare Krsna. According to the Kalisantarana Upanisad, there's no better process of self-realization. That's also the verdict of thousands of great self-realized souls who've reached the topmost spiritual platform (prema—pure love of God). And out of kindness they've written volumes praising the Hare Krsna mantra and urging us to try it. If we follow the process carefully and regularly, as directed by the previous sages, certainly we can also attain perfection."
Hector Salas, artist: "Chanting Hare Krsna gives me peace and comfort that I couldn't find before. Chanting reassures me that there's something higher than just trying to make a living. I can definitely feel spiritual energy when I chant."
Guruttama dasa, book distributor: "I've been chanting Hare Krsna and reading authorized books about Krsna consciousness for four years, and now I'm finding a higher happiness than I've ever experienced before. Chanting and reading give me the conviction to introduce this experience to others. My work takes me to public places where I meet all types of people, working so hard to achieve their goals—fame, money, power, beauty, knowledge. But what they don't know is that Lord Krsna is the source of all these opulences. So, what I've learned can benefit everyone. They can have their goal of life by linking up with Krsna through chanting His name."
Here at ISKCON's farm community in Indre, France, everyone chants the Hare Krsna mantra, including the children. Chanting is simple to understand. It isn't anything artificial to be imposed on the mind—it's something sublime to purify our hearts. We're all originally Krsna-conscious spiritual entities, and chanting Hare Krsna is the easiest method for reviving our dormant, pure state of God consciousness.
Find out more about Krsna consciousness in this issue of BACK TO GODHEAD magazine.
Friedrich Nietzsche thought of the "superman" as someone totally self-controlled, unafraid, simple, aware, self-reliant... and nonexistent. But here His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada tells us about real supermen—who they are and how they get that way.
Hayagriva dasa: Friedrich Nietzsche was a German philosopher and poet of the last century who has become very influential in modern philosophy. Schopenhauer spoke of the "blind will" of the individual as being the basic propelling force that keeps the soul tied to material existence, to transmigration from body to body. Nietzsche, on the other hand, spoke of der Wille zur Macht, the "will to power," which is a different kind of will. This will is not used for subjugating others but for mastering one's lower self. It is characterized by self-control and an interest in art and philosophy. Most people are envious of others, but it is the duty of the noble man, the philosopher, to transcend this envy by sheer willpower. In Nietzsche's own words, the philosopher "shakes off with one shrug much vermin that would have buried itself deep in others." When the philosopher has rid himself of resentment and envy, he can even embrace his enemies with a kind of Christian love.
Srila Prabhupada: This is called spiritual power. Envy is a symptom of conditioned life. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is stated that the neophyte who wants to understand the Vedic literatures should not be envious. In this material world, everyone is envious. People are even envious of God and His instructions. Consequently people do not like to accept Krsna's instructions. Although Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and is accepted as such by all the acaryas [self-realized teachers], there are nonetheless foolish men called mudhas who either reject Krsna's instructions or try to screw out some contrary meaning from them. This envy is symptomatic of conditioned souls. Unless we are liberated from conditioned life, we will remain confused under the influence of the external material energy. Until we come to the spiritual platform, there is no possibility of escaping from envy and pride by so-called willpower. A person in the transcendental (brahma-bhuta) stage is described in Bhagavad-gita [18.54] as samah sarvesu bhutesu: He can look at everyone with the same spiritual understanding.
Hayagriva dasa: Nietzsche calls the man who possesses spiritual power the Ubermensch, a word meaning literally "above-man" and often translated as "superman." The Ubermensch is totally self-controlled, unafraid of death, simple, aware, and self-reliant. He is so powerful that he can change the lives of others simply on contact. Nietzsche never referred to any historical person as the Ubermensch, nor did he consider himself such.
Srila Prabhupada: We accept the guru as the genuine superman because he is worshiped like God. Yasya prasadad bhagavat-prasadah: "By the mercy of the superman one can get in touch with the Supreme Personality of Godhead." Caitanya Mahaprabhu also accepts this: guru-krsna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija: "By the mercy of Krsna and the guru [the superman, or Ubermensch], one receives information about spiritual life so that he can return home, back to Godhead." Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu requested everyone to become gurus, or supermen. The superman distributes transcendental knowledge strictly according to the authorized version he has received from his superior. This is called parampara, the disciplic succession. One superman delivers this supreme knowledge to another superman, and this knowledge was originally delivered by God Himself.
Hayagriva dasa: In Thus Spake Zarathustra, Nietzsche concludes that all men want power. At the top of this hierarchy in the quest for power is the Ubermensch. Thus the Ubermensch would be one who has conquered his passions and attained all good qualifications. His actions are creative, and he does not envy others. He is constantly aware that death is always present, and he is so superior to others that he is almost like God in the world.
Srila Prabhupada: In Sanskrit the real Ubermensch or superman is called a svami or gosvami, who is described by Rupa Gosvami as one who can control his words, mind, anger, tongue, belly, and genitals. These are the six forces that drive men to commit sinful activities. A gosvami can control these forces, especially the genitals, belly, and tongue, which are very hard to control. Bhaktivinoda Thakura says, tara madhye jihva ati-lobhamaya sudurmati: The force of the tongue is very great, and for its gratification we create many artificial edibles. Nonsensical habits like smoking, drinking, and meat eating have entered society simply due to the urges of the tongue. Actually, there is no need for these things. A person does not die simply because he cannot smoke, eat meat, or drink liquor. Rather, without these indulgences he can elevate himself to the highest platform. It is therefore said that one who can control the tongue can control the urges of the other senses also. One who can control all the senses—beginning with the tongue—is called a gosvami, or, as Nietzsche would say, the Ubermensch. But this is impossible for an ordinary man.
Hayagriva dasa: Nietzsche believed that everyone has a "will to power," but that the weak seek power vainly. For instance, in his will to power, Hitler sought to subjugate as much of the world as possible, but he was ultimately unsuccessful, and he brought disaster upon himself and Germany. Instead of trying to conquer himself, he attempted to conquer others, and this is the will to power misdirected or misinterpreted.
Srila Prabhupada: Men like Hitler are not able to control the force of anger. A king or national leader has to use anger properly. Narottama dasa Thakura says that we should control our powers and apply them in the proper cases. We may become angry, but our anger must be controlled. For example, although Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught that we should be very submissive—humbler than the grass and more tolerant than a tree-He became angry upon seeing His dear devotee Nityananda Prabhu hurt by Jagai and Madhai. Everything can be properly utilized in the service of Krsna, but not for personal aggrandizement. In the material world, everyone is certainly after power, but the real superman is not after power for himself. He himself is a mendicant, a sannyasi, but he acquires power for the service of the Lord. For instance, I came to America not to acquire material power but to distribute Krsna consciousness. By the grace of Krsna, all facilities have been afforded, and now, from the material point of view, I have become somewhat powerful. But this is not for my personal sense gratification; it is all for spreading Krsna consciousness. The conclusion is that power for Krsna's service is very valuable, but power for our own sense gratification is condemned.
Hayagriva dasa: Hitler twisted Nietzsche's philosophy, claiming that he was the Ubermensch, although Nietzsche clearly says that the Ubermensch is not intent on subjugating, others but on subjugating his own passions. Such a superman is beyond good and evil and is not subject to mundane dualities.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, because the superman acts on behalf of God, he is transcendental. At the beginning of the Bhagavad-gita, Arjuna was thinking like an ordinary person in his reluctance to fight. From the material point of view, nonviolence is a good qualification. Arjuna was excusing his enemies, although they had insulted him and his wife and usurped his kingdom. He pleaded before Krsna that it would be better to let them enjoy his kingdom—"I am not going to fight." Materially this appeared very laudable, but spiritually it was not, because Krsna wanted him to fight. Finally Arjuna carried out Krsna's order and fought. Clearly, this kind of fighting was not for personal aggrandizement but for the service of Krsna. So by using his power for the service of the Lord, Arjuna became a superman.
Hayagriva dasa: In his writings on religion, Nietzsche expressed a dislike for the nihilism of the Buddhists and the caste system of the Hindus, especially the Hindu treatment of the untouchables.
Srila Prabhupada: That is a later concoction by the caste Hindus. The true Vedic religion does not speak of untouchables. Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself demonstrated His system by accepting so-called untouchables like Haridasa Thakura, who was born in a Mohammedan family. Although Haridasa Thakura was not accepted by Hindu society, Caitanya Mahaprabhu personally indicated that he was most exalted. Haridasa Thakura would not enter the temple of Lord Jagannatha because he did not want to create a commotion, but Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself came to see Haridasa every day. It is a basic principle of the Vedic religion that one should not be envious of anyone. Krsna Himself says in Bhagavad-gita [9.32]:
mam hi partha vyapasritya
"O son of Prtha, those who take shelter of Me, though they be of lower birth—women, vaisyas [merchants], as well as sudras [workers]—can approach the supreme destination." So despite birth in a lower family, if one is a devotee he is eligible to return home, back to Godhead. The sastras [scriptures] do not speak of untouchables. Everyone is eligible to practice Krsna consciousness and return to the Godhead, provided the necessary spiritual qualifications are there.
Hayagriva dasa: Nietzsche believed that by stressing the value of going to the transcendental world, a person would come to resent this world. He therefore personally rejected all formal religions.
Srila Prabhupada: This material world is described as a place of suffering (duhkha-alaya). We do not know whether Nietzsche realized this or not, but if one actually understands the soul, he can realize that this material world is a place of suffering. Being part and parcel of God, the soul has the same qualities possessed by God. God is sac-cid-ananda-vigraha, eternal, full of knowledge and bliss, and the living entities in the spiritual world have the same nature. But in material life their eternality, knowledge, and bliss are absent. It is therefore better that we learn to detest material existence and try to give it up (param drstva nivartate). The Vedas enjoin that we understand the spiritual world and try to return there (tamaso ma jyotir gamaya). The spiritual world is the kingdom of light, and this material world is the kingdom of darkness. The sooner we learn to avoid the world of darkness and return to the kingdom of light, the better it is.
Hayagriva dasa: Nietzsche was greatly influenced by the Greeks, and he was astounded that out of so few men, so many great individuals emerged. He attributed this to their struggling with their evil instincts, and he thought that even today, with the help of favorable measures, great individuals might be reared who would surpass all others. Thus Nietzsche believed that mankind ought to be constantly striving to produce great men—this and nothing else is man's duty.
Srila Prabhupada: Everyone is trying to be a great man, but one's greatness is genuine when he becomes God-realized. The word veda means "knowledge," and a person is great when he is conversant with the lessons of the Vedas. The object of knowledge, as described by Bhagavad-gita, is God or the self. There are different methods for self-realization. However, since every individual is part and parcel of God, if one realizes God, he automatically realizes himself. God is compared to the sun. If the sun is out, we can see everything very clearly. Similarly, in the Vedas it is said, yasmin vijnate sarvam evam vijnatam bhavati: "By understanding God, we understand all other things." Then we automatically become jolly (brahma-bhutah prasannatma). The word prasannatma means "jolly." At that time, we can see that everyone is exactly like ourselves (samah sarvesu bhutesu), for everyone is part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. At this point, service of the Lord begins, and we attain the platform of knowledge, bliss, and eternity.
Hayagriva dasa: Nietzsche was emphatic in stating that there has never yet been a superman. He writes, "All too similar are men to each other. Verily, even the greatest I found all too human." Nor does the superman evolve in the Darwinian sense. Nietzsche thought the Ubermensch a possibility at present if man uses all his spiritual and physical energies. He wrote, "Dead are all the gods; now do we desire the superman to live." But how is the Ubermensch possible without an object for his spiritual energies?
Srila Prabhupada: We become supermen if we engage in the service of the Supreme Person. The Supreme Being is a person, and the superman is also a person. Nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam: "God is the chief amongst all personalities." The superman has no other business than carrying out the orders of the Supreme Being. Krsna, or God, wants to make everyone a superman. He therefore orders: Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: "Give up everything and simply surrender to Me" [Bg. 18.66]. If we can understand and follow this instruction, we are supermen. The ordinary man thinks, "I have my independence and can do something myself. Why should I surrender?" However, as soon as he realizes that his only duty is to surrender to Krsna, that he has no other duty in this material world, he becomes the superman. This consciousness is attained after many, many births (bahunam janmanam ante). After many lifetimes, when one actually attains full knowledge of Krsna, he surrenders unto Him. As soon as he surrenders, he becomes the superman.
Hayagriva dasa: Nietzsche would reject dependence on anything exterior to the superman himself. In other words, he would reject "props." But isn't it impossible for a man to elevate himself to that platform without depending on the Supreme Lord?
Srila Prabhupada: Of course, and therefore Krsna says, "Depend upon Me." You have to be dependent, and if you do not depend on Krsna, you have to depend on the dictations of maya, illusion. There are many philosophers and politicians who depend on others or on their own whimsical ideas, but we should depend on the perfect instructions of God. The fact is that every living being is dependent; he cannot be independent. If he voluntarily depends on the instructions of God, he becomes the genuine superman, or Ubermensch.
Hayagriva dasa: Nietzsche's superman appears to resemble the hatha-yogi, who elevates himself by his own efforts, seemingly independent of God.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, seemingly. As soon as a hatha-yogi gets some extraordinary mystic powers, he thinks that he has become God. This is another mistake, for no one can become God. A yogi may attain some mystical powers by practice or by the favor of the Lord, but these powers are not sufficient to enable him to become God. There are many who think that through meditation or hatha-yoga it is possible to become equal to God, but this is another illusion, another dictation of maya. Maya is always saying, "Why depend on God? You can become God yourself."
Hayagriva dasa: Independence seems to be central to Nietzsche's philosophy. In a sense, his superman is somewhat like Hiranyakasipu, who performed so many penances to gain immortality and who made the demigods tremble to see his austerities.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, and ultimately he was outwitted by the Supreme Himself. Actually, it is not good to struggle for material power and control over others. If one becomes a devout servant of God, he becomes the superman automatically and acquires many sincere followers. One does not have to undergo severe austerities; everything can be mastered in one stroke.
Hayagriva dasa: And what of sense control?
Srila Prabhupada: If one becomes a devotee of the Supreme Lord, he controls his senses automatically, but he never thinks that he has become God, or the supreme controller.
Hayagriva dasa: One last point on Nietzsche. He believed in what is called eternal recurrence-that is, after this universe has been destroyed, it will be repeated again after many eons.
Srila Prabhupada: In Bhagavad-gita it is stated, bhutva bhutva praliyate: "This material world is created at a certain point, maintained for a certain period, and then destroyed" [Bg. 8.19]. This material world is created for the conditioned soul, who is put here in order to learn his position as the eternal servant of God. Lord Brahma, the first created being in the universe, is given the Vedic instructions, and he distributes them through the disciplic succession, which descends from Brahma to Narada, from Narada to Vyasadeva, from Vyasadeva to Sukadeva Gosvami, and so on. These instructions enjoin the conditioned soul to return home, back to Godhead. If the conditioned soul rejects these instructions, he remains in the material world until it is annihilated. At that time he remains in an unconscious state, just like a child within the womb of his mother. In due course of time his consciousness revives, and he again takes birth. The point is that anyone can take advantage of the Vedic instructions, become a superman or Ubermensch, and go back to Godhead. Unfortunately, the conditioned living entities are so attached to the material world that they repeatedly want to take up material bodies. In this way history actually repeats itself, and there is again creation, maintenance, and destruction.
A Festival to Cherish
by Damodara dasa and Nalini-kantha dasa
Every summer in dozens of cities across the earth, Ratha-yatra—the Festival of the Chariots—blossoms like a multicolored lotus flower. Red, yellow, and green silk canopies tower above the chariots and sway serenely. Their silver decorations glitter in the sunlight. Colossal wooden wheels creak on their axles as singing celebrants haul the ancient vehicles along the parade route, tugging on thick hawsers. By their spirited service they invoke the mercy of Jagannatha, the Lord of the Universe. He is Krsna Himself, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He has come along for the ride, sitting on the lead cart in His form as Daru-brahman (God manifested through wood). His big round eyes and blissful smile shower benedictions upon everyone. In the next two chariots sit the Lord's brother and sister, Balarama and Subhadra. The three vehicles are flower-decked boats rocking on an ocean of friends and devotees, thousands strong, waves of lovers of God singing and dancing. At the parade's end (a park or a beach) the crowd enjoys a vegetarian feast and entertainment by musicians and dramatists until sunset, and everyone goes home saturated with transcendental peace and joy.
How' ancient is the Festival of the Chariots? It's hard to say exactly, but Ratha-yatra is one of the world's oldest religious festivals. At the 1976 New York Ratha-yatra, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explained its origins:
"Five thousand years ago Krsna, Balarama, and Subhadra visited Kuruksetra in Their chariot on the occasion of a solar eclipse. One king, Indradyumna, there became very anxious to establish a temple of Krsna, Balarama, and Subhadra. Therefore he got a sculptor to carve the Deities.
"But there was a contract between the sculptor and the king that the sculptor would work behind closed doors and the king could not disturb him. When many days had passed the king thought, 'What is this worker doing?' So he forcibly opened the door, and he saw that the forms were unfinished. But after that the sculptor would not finish carving the Deities. Therefore the king said, 'Never mind; I shall worship this unfinished Deity.'
"So you see Jagannatha in this form because King Indradyumna wanted to worship Him in this form. And the king started the temple of Jagannatha in Orissa, at Puri. It is a very old temple—according to modern calculation not less than two thousand years old. The Jagannatha Deity is there. So Krsna and Balarama and Subhadra went to Kuruksetra for the festival, and at Ratha-yatra we also are observing this festival."
Until very recently, Ratha-yatra was a strictly Indian celebration. It made its way indirectly into Western culture when the British first watched it in Puri and coined the term juggernaut, after the chariots of Jagannatha, to indicate an overwhelming, irresistible force. They felt moved by the immensity of the canopies and wheels, and by the fervor of the devotees' exultant chanting of the holy names of the Lord. However, the name Jagannatha does not directly mean what juggernaut means. Jagannatha indicates "the Lord of the Universe"—the Lord not just of India and Indians but of the whole universe and all living beings. Therefore, a hundred years ago a devotee of Jagannatha known as Bhaktivinoda Thakura started writing books about Krsna consciousness in English and sending the books to libraries in the West. His son, Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami, carried on the international educational program. The fruition came in 1966, when the Goswami's most dedicated disciple, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in New York City.
In the summer of 1967, the city of San Francisco saw the Western world's first Ratha-yatra. Although earlier many other swamis and yogis had journeyed to the West, none of them had brought the purity and devotion of Srila Prabhupada. And none of them had had the vision of Srila Prabhupada: to establish ancient India's Krsna conscious culture around the world on its own terms—not watered down, but as it is. Thus, Srila Prabhupada introduced Lord Jagannatha as He is, in the original format of the ancient and glorious Festival of the Chariots. Before, no one had dared think it possible, but Srila Prabhupada dared and was triumphant.
Jayananda dasa, one of Srila Prabhupada's early disciples, took part in every San Francisco Ratha-yatra since the first one back in 1967-and an unusually active part at that. In fact, his expert engineering of the huge chariots used in the San Francisco festivals earned him the nickname "Mr. Ratha-yatra." For each of the first four Ratha-yatras, Jayananda built the chariots from the ground up. And although in the last few festivals the same vehicles were used each year, still he continued to improve them. To find out the inside story on Ratha-yatra past, present, and future, BACK TO GODHEAD interviewed Jayananda.
Inside Ratha-yatra...With an Old Insider
BTG: Jayananda; how did you first get involved in Krsna consciousness?
Jayananda dasa: I heard Srila Prabhupada speaking in' San Francisco, and somehow I knew he didn't want to cheat me. So I just' wanted to work for him.
BTG: And now for ten years you've worked on the Ratha-yatra carts.
Jayananda dasa: Yes.
BTG: What were the first Ratha-yatras like?
Jayananda dasa: The first year, 1967, we just rented a flatbed truck and started out in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. We decorated the truck with flowers and put the Deities on the back, and the girls passed out fruit. A good crowd walked along with us at the beginning, and when we turned off Haight Street a smaller group of maybe fifty people came with us and we went all the way to the beach.
The second year we made our own cart, with saffron silk canopies, small ones. And we had the parade through Golden Gate Park to the beach. By that time the San Francisco temple had grown a little—we had maybe thirty devotees—and about one hundred people came with us through the park. The chanting was very nice that year.
Then in 1969 we built a much bigger cart, with a tall silk canopy, like the ones they build in Jagannatha Puri in India. But in 1970 we worked for two months straight and built the three big carts, basically the same ones we use now. Also we had all kinds of publicity—TV, billboards, posters. And Srila Prabhupada came to that Ratha-yatra. So a lot of people came, maybe twelve thousand people. It was big—a tremendous success. We had a few mishaps, though. One cart broke down in the middle of the parade. And it was a bitter cold day. But even though it was so cold at the beach, thousands of people stayed there with us and ate a lot of Krsna prasada [spiritual food offered to Krsna]. We brought twenty fifty-gallon barrels of prasada, and they ate it all.
Later that year the auditorium we used at the beach was torn down. So in 1971 we decided to end the parade in the park, at Lindley Meadow. That year, and in 1972 and 1973, the parade was a little smaller than in 1970.
In 1974 Bhakta dasa came to San Francisco to be temple president, and he decided to expand the Ratha-yatra. He spent more money on it than before, and maybe twenty thousand people attended that year. The police remarked that we were the only group that could get such a large gathering together without creating a problem for them. Srila Prabhupada came that year and gave a speech at the Meadow. He was sitting beneath the Jagannatha Deities on Their opulent three-tiered stage. Even without much understanding everyone could appreciate that here was a majestic, awe-inspiring celebration. Another wonderful thing we started that year was the fairground-type booths at the Meadow. You could see the unlimited scope of the Vedic culture. We had a Deity workshop booth, a transcendental art booth, a literature booth, and of course many booths selling food. Now that's become a regular feature of the festival.
In 1975 I tried out making steel wheels, but the chariots were so heavy they flattened the steel and made the ride very bumpy for the Deities. So now we're back to the standard wooden wheels.
BTG: What instructions has Srila Prabhupada given you about Ratha-yatra?
Jayananda dasa: I never got much personal instruction. He just told me to make everything strong. I'm not a real visionary about it—I just built the carts.
BTG: Which Ratha-yatra do you think has been the best so far?
Jayananda dasa: In New York last year-that was the most festive. Not until then had I experienced so many of the transcendental qualities of Ratha-yatra. You know—for a parade there's nothing like Fifth Avenue; it's the most important street in the world. And when we went to Washington Square Park to pull the carts home, hours after the parade had finished, thousands of people were still there chanting. They were everywhere. People were coming out of their apartments and coming out of bars shouting "Hare Krsna!" Only in New York could you get such a response.
BTG: Tell us, from your own experience, what the public gets out of Ratha-yatra.
Jayananda dasa: The impact is so powerful that everyone's affected. In New York there were thousands of people out on the streets, and they were astounded. It's not that I'm claiming it; the people were interviewed on TV and that's what they said. Also I remember one man with his girl friend (she didn't like us at all) who told me some time after the festival that when he saw the carts coming down the street he felt a parade had just come down from heaven, and that he often remembers the carts and the chanting with pleasure. So people are hit by it. It's so far beyond their usual experience. You can't measure the impact. All year long they do more or less the same things. Maybe they catch a few parades, like the Thanksgiving Day parade. They stand and watch some big balloons go by. But it's all the same. Then, when you have a whole troupe of devotees singing and dancing around these lofty, transcendental chariots—then the people are transformed. They used to be mundane creatures, but when they see the Ratha-yatra, they're angels. It brings out the best in people to see Lord Jagannatha smiling at them. I tell you, at first their faces looked like they hadn't changed in twenty-five years, and then all of a sudden it was like glass cracking, and you'd see the whole face transformed just by a few moments' association.
And what to speak of those who take part? Ratha-yatra encourages everybody to take part. "Come on, walk with us, dance, grab a rope and pull." We don't say, "Don't touch." No—"Join in, have fun." By our nature we all want to participate. Nobody wants to be a bystander. And those who take part are purified of all their sinful karmic reactions just by chanting Hare Krsna and seeing Lord Jagannatha.
BTG: Are there people who regard it as idol worship?
Jayananda dasa: Yes—they may feel that before, but the impact of the festival is so strong that after it they feel otherwise. They see Lord Jagannatha, and they see how merciful He is, and they can feel that it's not idol worship. And if they read Srila Prabhupada's books, then they'll understand logically how Lord Jagannatha is not an idol. Of course, at the festival there are always a few faultfinders. Last year in New York one of them had a bullhorn and was shouting, so one of our men poured water down it and that stopped him.
BTG: What is your understanding of the purpose of Ratha-yatra?
Jayananda dasa: To celebrate the pastimes of Krsna. Krsna's so kind; He comes to earth and displays so many wonderful pastimes. Ratha-yatra celebrates His going to Kuruksetra with Balarama and Subhadra, and His meeting there with the residents of Vrndavana, where He was born. The expressions of love shared between the Lord and His devotees make that one of the sweetest pastimes. Ratha-yatra offers a chance for so many people to be engaged in Krsna consciousness. People don't come to our temples much, but millions are out on the streets. Now here's a chance for them to advance in spiritual life—here comes Lord Jagannatha's festival! They're touched—they become part of the transcendental vibration, and they're purified.
Also, for the devotees it's very beneficial—maybe more for me; Ratha-yatra is the service that's given me so many of my realizations, the flowering of whatever Krsna consciousness I have. It's not a long-term occupation. It happens all at once, like a big explosion, in the summer. It brings together so many devotees all working together under the spiritual master with one plan. And all the transcendental paraphernalia is there-the Deities, the prasada, the chanting, the booths, the theater—it's such a surcharged atmosphere. You never forget it. For a devotee to be able to participate in Ratha-yatra is very good for his Krsna consciousness. When you have these festivals, it gives you a big, powerful event to look forward to, and to work towards. It helps your devotion.
BTG: How about the future growth of Ratha-yatra?
Jayananda dasa: One thing that's important is that all the temples should celebrate this wonderful festival. But it isn't practical for each center to construct three carts. So now in Los Angeles we're putting together a traveling party that can go from city to city, with displays and carts that you can assemble and take apart. Then the great expense will be eliminated. Also, we'll have year-round Ratha-yatras—the South in the winter, the North in the summer. It can be expanded so people will be hearing about Ratha-yatra all year round-and that will be the perfection of their lives!
BTG: It sounds wonderful. Thank you very much, Jayananda.
Jayananda dasa: Thank you. Hare Krsna.
A look at the worldwide activities of the
Determined Devotee Foils "Deprogrammers"
On April 20, 1977, The Washington Post reported yet another victory for a Krsna-conscious devotee over "deprogramming" adversaries. Titled "Deprogramming Failure," the Post article recounts twenty-four-year-old Megha-devi dasi's kidnapping, her attempted "deprogramming," and her successful effort to fool her captors and return to the Washington, D. C., Radha-Krsna temple.
The ordeal began last February 26, when Megha and her fiance (Ekesvara dasa) went to Baltimore to attend a bridal shower for them, hosted by her widowed mother and sister.
"They welcomed me and told me how well I looked," Megha told reporters at a press conference after her escape. But there was no shower. Instead, Megha was hustled off to a Baltimore motel, where "several 'deprogrammers' locked me into a room with the windows nailed shut...." Inside the room the "deprogrammers" ("a lot of big men") told her they had legal custody over her. Sadly, they were telling the truth. Two days earlier Megha's mother had obtained a temporary conservatorship order from Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Richard B. Latham. It paved the way for Megha's "legal" kidnapping.
"They yelled and screamed at me," Megha recalled. "They very much blasphemed my spiritual master.... They burned my sacred prayer beads right in my face." They also forced her to change from her traditional sari into ill-fitting blue jeans and repeatedly told her that ISKCON had brainwashed her. They even made her read tracts about "mind control."
"I was treated exactly like a prisoner. It reminded me of what it must feel like in the Iron Curtain Communist countries, where freedom of thought is so limited."
On March 1 she convinced her captors that her loyalty to Krsna had been shaken, and they took her to a private "rehabilitation center" in Bradford, New Hampshire.
"They kept telling me I should adjust to the 'real world,' but their 'real world' was full of meaninglessness and sinful activities like meat-eating."
On March 27, after nearly four weeks, the "deprogrammers" permitted Megha to go to her sister's house in Baltimore. "I kept begging them, 'Let me go home! Let me go home!' when all the time I simply wanted to return to the temple," Megha related.
The next day, Judge Latham dissolved the conservatorship order, and on the 30th Megha made her escape. "I was finally allowed to go shopping with a girl friend. I left her trying on dresses in a dressing room and took a bus to the [Krsna] center in Baltimore. That was the end of it. From there I called my fiance and he came and got me."
On April 16, one day after her 24th birthday, Megha married Ekesvara dasa at ISKCON's 15-acre Potomac, Maryland farm (New Hastinapura).
Since her abduction, Megha has had no contact with her mother or sisters. "I expect them to come to me," she said. "The fault is on their part; the mistakes are theirs.... They didn't understand or respect my devotion to Lord Krsna.... But I don't hate my mother or hold what she's done against her."
Megha, meanwhile, is very happy to be back at New Hastinapura, where she spends her days cooking, distributing books about Krsna, and teaching Sunday school.
French Professor Praises Bhagavad-gita As It Is
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness embodies the essence of what is commonly known as Hinduism—a religion practiced by more than five hundred million people. Dr. Jean Varenne, Professor of Sanskrit Studies at the University of Aix-en-Provence in Marseilles, France, explains ISKCON's authenticity in the following review of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
"It is Indian tradition that all important spiritual masters explain for their disciples the fundamental text of Hinduism, the Bhagavad-gita...The founder of the Krsna consciousness movement (Hare Krsna) has followed this tradition; and now we have the French translation of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
"As for the teachings of Srila Prabhupada, they are obviously faithful to those of Caitanya, the celebrated apostle of a renaissance in bhakti (ardent devotion to Krsna), who appeared in the sixteenth century. From this point of view, this magnificently presented book is of inestimable value, for the West knows little of this major current in Hinduism. For many reasons, until now it has been the Vedanta of Sankara or the yoga of Patanjali which has been the most easily accessible to us. These are, however, far from a complete representation of this multi-facetted, complex religion. The Hindus themselves, however, profess that all these paths converge and ultimately become one. Untiringly, Swami Bhaktivedanta insists on this one path as being bhakti, and that bhakti is the surest path of salvation (a conclusion supported everywhere in the Gita itself). One cannot help but enthusiastically recommend that others read such a work, which, from so many points of view, merits applause."
On "The Hare Krishna Puzzle"
[The following conversation between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Satsvarupa dasa Gosvami took place in Calcutta, India, in January 1977.]
Satsvarupa Gosvami: Srila Prabhupada, a newspaper came today from America—the Boston Globe—with a long article titled "The Hare Krishna Puzzle." A statement by one woman describes the devotees as "parasites."
Srila Prabhupada: We are not parasites. We are publishing the best literature in the world. Does this literature come from illiterate hippies? We are accepted by so many scholars—how are we parasites? An intelligent person is not supposed to work like an ass. If we are parasites, then a high-court judge is also a parasite. A rascal sees a judge sitting—talking a little and getting a high salary—so he calls the judge a parasite.
Satsvarupa Gosvami: A parasite is one who lives off others.
Srila Prabhupada: If I enjoy another's property without his approval, then I'm a parasite. But we aren't doing that; we are enjoying our father's property. Krsna is the proprietor. We are good children of Krsna, and Krsna says to everyone who takes shelter of Him, "Don't worry, I shall give you everything." Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: "You just surrender to Me; I will give you protection." Why do they say we are "parasites"?
Satsvarupa Gosvami: They are referring to the devotees' begging in the streets.
Srila Prabhupada: What we are doing is not begging, it is humbleness. People are puffed up, so we are approaching them in humbleness. Besides, if I sell a book about Krsna, is that begging?
Satsvarupa Gosvami: They see it as begging.
Srila Prabhupada: No, it is humbleness. In India many highly scholarly persons beg. They are titled bhiksu-tridandi-svami. They beg to learn pridelessness and humility. In Vedic culture it is allowed; the brahmacaris, sannyasis, and brahmanas are allowed to beg alms.
Satsvarupa Gosvami: But what if the culture is entirely different, as in the West?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, your culture is different, and therefore the youth are becoming hippies, and the mothers are killing their own children in the womb-all in the name of "freedom." Actually, there is no culture in the West; therefore, the whole atmosphere is abominable. But in a civilized culture a young boy may beg, as a discipline, just to learn humbleness. Even though he may be from a big family, he begs in order to become meek. And Christ said, "To the meek God is available." You are right when you say you have an entirely different culture. You don't know real culture. You have a culture that kills children, so how will you understand the higher Vedic culture? Our disciples are going out and selling books on Krsna consciousness just to give you a chance to understand what real, spiritual culture is—and you are calling them "parasites." What else are they saying?
Satsvarupa Gosvami: The opposition is claiming that joining Krsna consciousness is not an exercise of freedom of religion, but that we are guilty of "mind control."
Srila Prabhupada: Him whose mind is already in Krsna consciousness the "deprogrammers" want to control by force. They are guilty of mind control, not we. They kidnap him and force him to think like them.
Satsvarupa Gosvami: Many times our opposition consists of businessmen and parents of devotees. They are very alarmed.
Srila Prabhupada: They should be alarmed. If the Hare Krsna movement goes on, their culture is finished. Now we are being recognized as the enemy of maya [illusion]. A fight is a fight. They are using their tactics; we are using ours. We will prove that they have no intelligence. As long as they don't know Krsna, they remain fools.
Satsvarupa Gosvami: One man was challenging, "What if everyone became like you devotees?" He was worried. He thought the economy would collapse if everyone took to Krsna consciousness.
Srila Prabhupada: Well, anyway, he will not take to Krsna consciousness, and the materialistic economy will go on. As long as there is a class of men like him, there is no problem—the economy will go on. "If the prisoners become reformed, how will the prison continue?" Is that a very intelligent question? Their thinking is like that. We are giving up meat, and the slaughterhouse proprietors are sorry—"How will the business go on?"—as if that were a very wonderful business. The sooner you close that business, the better. That will be good for you. Liquor shops, breweries, cigarette factories-they are all worried how business will go on. Cow slaughter is the greatest sinful activity. They don't know what they are doing. Therefore, a thorough overhaul is required; otherwise their stool-bound brains can't be cleansed. Yes, we are washing your brain, because you have so much stool in your brain. We are sweepers engaged on behalf of God to wash the stool from your brain. We have to do it. You modern civilized atheists can't even sleep peacefully—which a dog can do—yet you claim education. We are teaching that if you have illicit sex life you'll be implicated in so many ways. So if I say, "No illicit sex," what is the harm? But you are so sinful that you are killing your own children, and you don't even know it is sinful. We have to wash your brain.
Satsvarupa Gosvami: This article from the Boston Globe says it is a great puzzle whether the Hare Krsna movement is good or bad.
Srila Prabhupada: At least they are now considering. Formerly they said it was bad. Now they have come to the marginal point—whether the Hare Krsna movement is good or bad. Finally the day will come when they say, "Yes, it is good. "
On May 1, just four days after his thirty-eighth birthday, Srila Prabhupada's very dear disciple Jayananda dasa passed away in his quarters at the Los Angeles Temple complex (New Dvaraka). For the last few months his body had been ravaged by leukemia, and recently he had abandoned all attempts at recovery and, preparing for the crucial time of death, moved to New Dvaraka to immerse himself in the pure association of Lord Krsna's Deity and His devotees.
Jayananda joined the San Francisco Radha-Krsna Temple early in 1967, just after it opened and less than a year after Srila Prabhupada founded the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in New York City. Though he had both an engineering degree from Ohio State University and a San Francisco State Teachers College degree, Jayananda was then supporting himself by driving a taxicab. He was looking for a way to make life simple. At twenty-eight, he became the senior devotee in San Francisco, and soon the temple president.
Mukunda dasa, who was there at the time, told us about Jayananda's rare qualities: "He proved himself to be the most responsible and selfless person. You could never detect even the most subtle type of wish to satisfy his own personal needs. He had that very unique attribute—whatever needed to be done, he would do. He was driving his taxicab fifteen hours a day or more to get overtime to pay the temple's rent and various other expenses, and he was looking after fifteen or twenty new brahmacaris [celibate students]."
Over the years Jayananda took special interest in the annual Ratha-yatra festival (please see "The Festival of the Chariots," page eight). He would plan the festival, build the carts, cook and distribute the prasada (spiritual food offered in love to Lord Krsna). During his last days he was always planning how to expand Ratha-yatra so that more temples could participate. Incapacitated as he was, he still helped design the special carts now being built in Los Angeles, which can be disassembled for easy transportation from city to city.
Back in 1967 Jayananda gave Srila Prabhupada his life savings of five thousand dollars, and then again, with his last letter to Srila Prabhupada, Jayananda enclosed a second gift of five thousand dollars—money that had been earmarked for medical expenses. Jayananda was so anxious to serve Srila Prabhupada that he even gave up the desire to go back to the spiritual world. "When I leave my body," he said near the end, "I want very much to come back to continue serving Srila Prabhupada in this world." These are the sentiments of Krsna's most exalted devotees (Vaisnavas), of whom Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, our great-great-grand-spiritual master, once wrote:
He reasons ill who says that Vaisnavas die
The following letter, dated May 5, arrived from Srila Prabhupada just before we went to press:
Please accept my blessings.
I am feeling very intensely your separation. In 1967 you joined me in San Francisco. You were driving my car and chanting Hare Krsna. You were the first man to give me some contribution ($5000) for printing my Bhagavad-gita. After that, you have rendered very favorable service to Krsna in different ways. I so hope at the time of your death you were remembering Krsna and as such, you have been promoted to the eternal association of Krsna. If not, if you had any tinge of material desire, you have gone to the celestial kingdom to live with the demigods for many thousands of years and enjoy the most opulent life of material existence. From there you can promote yourself to the spiritual world. But even if one fails to promote himself to the spiritual world, at that time he comes down again on the surface of this globe and takes birth in a big family like a yogis' or a brahmanas' or an aristocratic family, where there is again chance of reviving Krsna Consciousness. But as you were hearing Krsna-kirtana, I am sure that you were directly promoted to Krsna-loka.
janma karma ca me divyam
Krsna has done a great favor to you, not to continue your diseased body, and has given you a suitable place for your service. Thank you very much.
An enlightened father is glad when a bona fide spiritual master takes his son as a disciple. But an ignorant father sees the spiritual master as his enemy ...
by Satsvarupa dasa Goswami
When a young person joins the Krsna consciousness movement, his parents often doubt the wisdom of his decision. Admittedly, to join the Hare Krsna movement is to commit oneself to values completely contrary to the "normal" way of life in today's Western civilization. A Krsna conscious person strictly avoids the four pillars of sinful life—meat eating, illicit sex, intoxication, and gambling—which the average Westerner takes to be life's basic necessities. Yet after observing the fine character their sons and daughters attain through spiritual discipline, most parents of devotees adjust to their acceptance of Krsna consciousness. However, a small group of parents, especially in America, consider the Hare Krsna movement a great evil and are violently opposed to their adult children's choice of living in Krsna consciousness. These parents' attempts to recover their sons and daughters by kidnapping and "deprogramming," as well as their accusations of "brainwashing" directed against Krsna conscious preachers, have ignited a major civil rights issue: whether parental control can take precedence over the individual's right to freely choose his own course in life. ** (In a landmark judicial decision handed down last March 17, New York State Supreme Court Justice John J. Leahy threw out indictments charging two leaders of ISKCON's New York chapter with attempted extortion and illegal imprisonment of members through "brainwashing." Declared the judge, "The entire and basic issue before this court is whether or not [the Hare Krsna devotees] will be allowed to practice the religion of their choice-and this must be answered with a resounding affirmative.")
This bitter conflict is not new. We find a similar case in the five-thousand-year-old Vedic history Srimad-Bhagavatam. There we read of a very powerful father named Daksa, who became outraged when his sons renounced material life to follow the teachings of a Krsna-conscious sage, Narada Muni. ** (`Narada Muni is a direct representative of Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Throughout Vedic history Narada helps the conditioned souls by teaching the topmost science of bhakti-yoga, or love of God. His disciples include many great devotees, like Prahlada Maharaja, Dhruva Maharaja, and Srila Vyasadeva. His mission, the mission of the Supreme Lord, is to deliver humanity from the cycle of birth and death.) In light of the modern controversy, the account of how Narada preached to the young men to convince them to give up family life, how Daksa cursed Narada, and how Narada persisted in his Krsna conscious mission makes a revealing case history.
Our story begins at the dawn of creation. The Supreme Personality of Godhead has instructed Brahma, the first living entity in the universe, to increase human population through his married sons, the Prajapatis (progenitors). One of the chief progenitors was the demigod Daksa. Daksa means "expert," and this particular Daksa was expert in producing offspring through sexual intercourse. In union with his wife Pancajani he fathered ten thousand sons, known as the Haryasvas. Daksa intended that they also marry and increase progeny, following their father. Being devoutly religious, Daksa wanted to train his sons in the disciplines of Vedic culture to make them responsible, productive householders. So he sent them on pilgrimage to a holy place named Narayana-saras, where, in the past, many saints and sages had meditated and performed other religious practices.
In that holy place, the Haryasvas began regularly touching the lake's waters and bathing in them, gradually becoming very purified. They became inclined toward activities of the paramahamsas (the most highly advanced, renounced saints). Nevertheless, because their father had ordered them to increase the population, they performed severe austerities to fulfill his desires.
One day the great sage Narada Muni entered Narayana-saras. Seeing the boys performing such fine austerities, Narada approached them. He saw that although Daksa's ten thousand sons were preparing for materialistic family life, they were simultaneously becoming eligible to hear of the path of liberation due to their austerities. Narada thought, "Why should they become entangled in family life, which is so dark that once one enters it, he cannot leave?" (Generally, when one becomes too involved in his material environment, he does not look within the core of his heart to find the situation of the soul and the Supreme Soul.) One may argue that since increasing progeny is also a necessary function of the material creation, why should Narada disturb these boys in their preparation? Later, Daksa put forth this very argument when he confronted Narada. However, Narada had no doubt that eternal liberation is of far greater value to a person than good progeny. Therefore, he approached the Haryasvas to divert their attention towards spiritual life.
Narada intrigued them by speaking in an allegorical way: "My dear Haryasvas, you have not seen the extremities of the earth. There is a kingdom where only one man lives and where there is a hole from which, having entered, no one emerges. A woman there who is extremely unchaste adorns herself with various attractive dresses, and the man who lives there is her husband. You have not seen all this, and therefore you are inexperienced boys without advanced knowledge. Alas, your father is omniscient, but you do not know his actual order. Without knowing the actual purpose of your father, how will you create progeny?"
The Haryasvas could understand the meaning of Narada's allegory. When he said that they did not know the earth's extremities, they knew he meant the "earth" of the body, or the field of material activities. Every one of us is an eternal spirit soul, encaged in material bodies life after life. But out of ignorance we take each body to be our real self. The Haryasvas immediately understood that Narada wanted them to become enlightened about the self-not to continue in perpetual bondage, taking material bodies birth after birth, but to use this human life for becoming free from this encagement.
Narada mentioned a kingdom where there is only one king, with no competitor. The Haryasvas understood him to mean the kingdom of God, which encompasses the complete spiritual world and all material universes, and where there is only one proprietor and enjoyer, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Although sometimes appearing within the creation by His own sweet will, the Supreme Lord is never forced to take birth like the infinitesimal living entities. He is completely transcendental, and thus He is never destroyed, even with the destruction of the universe. One who misunderstands this transcendental position of Krsna is a fool, and his hopes for knowledge, wealth, and liberation are all baffled. The Haryasvas realized, therefore, that their duty in human life was to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
When the sage Narada spoke of entering a hole from which one does not return, the Haryasvas could understand that he was referring to entering eternal, blissful Vaikuntha (the spiritual planet). Krsna teaches this same subject to Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita, where He says: "One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in the material world, but attains my eternal abode, O Arjuna" (Bg. 4.9). The Haryasvas agreed with Narada's instructions: "Yes, if there is a place from which, having gone, we will not have to return to this miserable material life, what is the use of impermanent fruitive activities?"
Narada had described a woman who was a professional prostitute. The Haryasvas understood this woman to be the living entity's unsteady intelligence. As a prostitute changes dress to attract a man's attention for sense enjoyment, so, when one's intelligence is not turned toward Krsna consciousness, it is a prostituted intelligence and will force the living being to change bodies, one after another. If one becomes the husband of a prostitute he cannot be happy. Similarly, one who follows the dictates of material intelligence and material consciousness will never be at peace.
Narada had said that the Haryasvas did not know the order of their father. They understood that Narada meant their spiritual father, the bona fide spiritual master, who imparts scriptural knowledge to the faithful disciple. Therefore, the spiritual master is the real father. The scriptures instruct that one should end his material way of life. The Haryasvas expressed their enlightenment: "Yes, if one does not know the purpose of the father's orders, the scriptures, he is ignorant. The words of a material father who endeavors to engage his son in material activities are not the real instructions of the father. "
This brings us to the crux of the parent-child issue. In every form of life, one takes birth from a mother and father. (Even cats and dogs have their kittens and puppies.) However, human life is more advanced than other forms, because in the human form one has the chance to escape from the misery of birth and death by accepting a spiritual master and being educated in scriptural knowledge. The material mother and father are important only if they are interested in educating their child to become free from the clutches of death. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the saintly king and father Rsabhadeva advises his one hundred sons that no one should strive to become a parent if he cannot save his dependent from the imminent danger of death.
Therefore, parents who actually wish their children well will not object to their taking shelter of a bona fide spiritual master and getting the opportunity to achieve the perfection of life. Opposition is raised only by those parents who have no idea that the goal of human life is liberation from material bondage, and who, in ignorance—"good intentions" have no value—want to force their children to remain like themselves, trapped in the dark well of material life.
So, defying the orders of their materialistic father, Daksa, the Haryasvas accepted Narada Muni as their spiritual master. Daksa had instructed them to increase the population, but, after hearing the words of Narada Muni, they could no longer heed that instruction. Rather, they followed Narada's advice to give up material life and become devotees of the Lord. (Incidentally, all the world's scriptures advise relief from material life. In the Buddhist scriptures Lord Buddha advises that one achieve nirvana by giving up the materialistic way of life. In the Bible one will find the same advice: cease materialistic life and return to the kingdom of God.)
Needless to say, Prajapati Daksa was not very happy to hear that all his sons had defied his order and taken up Krsna consciousness. When Daksa was lamenting for his lost children, Lord Brahma pacified him, and thereafter Daksa begot one thousand more sons in the womb of his wife Pancajani. This time his sons were known as the Savalasvas. Here we can see that, whereas Narada was very expert in delivering all the conditioned souls back to home, back to Godhead, Prajapati Daksa was expert in begetting children. Unfortunately, the material expert did not agree with the spiritual expert. Be that as it may, nothing could deter Narada from chanting the Hare Krsna mantra and imparting spiritual knowledge to his qualified disciples. In this regard His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has written:
The Krsna consciousness movement is preaching this higher knowledge of retiring from materialistic life to return to Godhead, but unfortunately many parents are not satisfied with this movement.... However, we have no alternative other than to teach our disciples to free themselves from materialistic life. We must instruct them in the opposite of material life to save them from the repetition of birth and death.
Ordered by Daksa to beget children, the Savalasvas went to Narayana-saras, the same holy place where, by the grace of Narada, their brothers had previously attained perfection. One might wonder why Daksa risked sending his second set of sons to the same place where he had lost his first set. The answer is that, despite his materialistic outlook, Daksa was a dutiful father who followed the principles of Vedic culture. Therefore, he did not hesitate to let his sons receive spiritual instructions concerning the perfection of life. He allowed them to choose whether to return home, back to Godhead, or to remain in the material world, transmigrating life after life in various species. In all circumstances, the duty of a responsible father is to give a spiritual education to his children and then allow them to freely decide whether to adopt a spiritual or a material way of life.
The Savalasvas performed the same penances as the Haryasvas had. They bathed in holy water, and its touch cleansed away all the dirty material desires in their hearts. They also chanted sacred mantras and underwent a severe course of austerities. Soon, Narada Muni approached the Savalasvas and spoke enigmatic words to them, just as he had spoken to the Haryasvas. Then, before departing, Narada advised them to follow the same spiritual path as their beloved elder brothers. Deeply affected by the words of Narada, the Savalasvas also gave up the idea of producing children and took up Krsna consciousness.
When Daksa heard that the Savalasvas had also defied him, he became very angry at Narada and almost fainted in despair. Narada then approached Daksa, thinking that since Daksa was lamenting, he would be a suitable candidate to appreciate spiritual instructions. But when Narada came before Daksa, the bereaved Prajapati confronted him and angrily accused him, "Alas, Narada Muni, you wear the dress of a saintly person, but you are not actually a saint. By showing my sons the path of renunciation, you have done me an abominable injustice."
Daksa finds his counterpart in today's angry parents, who accuse Srila Prabhupada of misleading their inexperienced children. Srila Prabhupada replies,
We are instructing all the young boys and girls in the Western countries to follow the path of renunciation. We allow married life, but even a grhastha [a Krsna conscious householder] has to give up so many bad habits that his parents think his life has been practically destroyed. We allow no meat eating, no illicit sex, no gambling, and no intoxication, and consequently the parents wonder how, if there are so many no's, one's life can be positive. In the Western countries especially, these four prohibited activities practically constitute the life and soul of the modern population. Therefore, parents sometimes dislike our movement, just as Prajapati Daksa disliked the activities of Narada and accused him of dishonesty. Nevertheless, although parents may be angry at us, we must perform our duty without hesitation, because we are in the disciplic succession from Narada Muni.
The point is that every human being must prepare himself for his next life. It will not do simply to remain in materialistic household life without regulation or spiritual discipline. One cannot expect to be happy in this life or the next without following the injunctions of the scriptures.
Daksa next accused Narada of obstructing his sons' good fortune by making it impossible for them to repay their debts—especially their debt to Daksa. The Vedic culture recognizes that everyone is born a debtor, being obligated to great saints, to the demigods, and to his father. To liquidate one's debt to his father, one must beget children. Similarly, today's parents sometimes appeal to their children in the Krsna consciousness movement: "Don't you appreciate all we've done for you? Please return to your family." However, scriptures such as the Srimad-Bhagavatam state that although everyone is indebted to his family, if he surrenders to Krsna he is freed from all debts. Unfortunately, Daksa did not understand the great service rendered by Narada Muni, so he called him a sinful person. Narada Muni, however, being in reality a great saint, tolerated the accusations of Daksa, performed his duty, and delivered Daksa's sons back home, back to Godhead.
Along these same lines, Daksa accused Narada of breaking the natural ties of family affection. We have already pointed out that one may maintain an affectionate relationship with his mother and father—provided they help and not hinder him on the path of spiritual enlightenment. But since Daksa's sole motive was to engage his sons in producing progeny, clearly the best course they could have followed for their Krsna consciousness was to break their family ties with him. Today we find that many members of the Krsna consciousness movement have left family situations beset with fighting, divorce, hypocrisy, and sin. Breaking such family connections cannot be considered bad. Sometimes modern parents also say that taking up Krsna consciousness is bad because it destroys a young person's budding career. But, again, if that career is one of materialistic ignorance—if it involves no consideration of spiritual values—it is better to leave such a career and become Krsna conscious. This does not mean that one should stop working at an honest occupation, but if the career is an impediment to spiritual advancement, better to leave it.
One may argue that although Narada was a saint and his advice authoritative, still, this incident took place in a culture entirely different from our own; therefore its lessons cannot be applied to our modern situation. But spiritual culture is not a matter of East or West; it is the eternal, inalienable right of every human being, for it leads to the perfection of life. Certainly our Western culture differs from the Vedic culture. Ours is a culture that permits slaughter of the cow; that neither respects nor protects saintly persons (brahmanas), who are much needed to guide society; that allows the murder of children within the womb; that encourages illicit sexual relations outside sanctified marriage; and that has a government which supports sinful activities like intoxication and gambling. So ours is certainly a different kind of culture from the Vedic one, but must we necessarily follow the culture in which we were born and raised, if it is so entirely opposed to the progressive values of life?
Finally, Daksa cursed Narada: "You made me lose my sons once before, and now you have again done the same inauspicious thing. Therefore, you are a rascal who does not know how to behave toward others. You may travel all over the universe, but I curse you to have no fixed residence anywhere." This curse was considered a great punishment by Daksa, who, as a householder, wanted to remain in one spot and enjoy family life. However, this "punishment" was a boon for a Krsna conscious preacher like Narada, because a preacher always travels for the benefit of human society. Thus, Narada replied, "Yes, what you have said is good. I accept this curse." Then Narada Muni departed, and since that time he has been traveling throughout the spiritual and material worlds, chanting Hare Krsna, playing his vina, and enlightening everyone in Krsna consciousness.
We hope this narration from the Srimad-Bhagavatam may stimulate the few parents who oppose Krsna consciousness to reconsider their condemnation of the Krsna consciousness movement for diverting their offspring from the material path. Unlike Daksa, many parents of devotees, as well as many important citizens, do appreciate the immense value of Krsna consciousness to the younger generation and to people in general. Recently, Governor Jerry Brown of California personally called on the Hare Krsna movement to help him bring spiritual encouragement to hospital patients in his state. Learned scholars in virtually every major university around the world have written warm appreciations of Srila Prabhupada's books on Krsna consciousness. In addition, many devotees' parents have helped form organizations for the protection of their children's right to practice the religion of their choice.
The small minority of modern-day Daksas who cannot or will not try to understand Krsna consciousness may continue their efforts to hinder this movement and its preachers, but we shall not fear them. We shall simply go on humbly performing our duty, trying to follow the orders of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who has said, "Teach everyone to follow the instructions of Lord Sri Krsna as they are given in the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. In this way become a spiritual master and try to liberate everyone in the world."
The following is a statement by Dr. Harvey Cox, theologian at Harvard Divinity School, at a symposium titled "Krishna Consciousness and Religious Freedom," conducted at the Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard University, November 22, 1976.
Whenever a spiritual movement or a spiritual leader has emerged and has set forth a way of life which appears to be deviant or different from the conventional values or conventional religion of the time, a person who adheres to that way of life is almost always viewed with suspicion, generally is thought to be a little crazy, very often has the state authority brought down upon him or her, and generally has problems with his family.
Now, without appearing to be overly pious, I would like to refer you to a section in the Gospel of Mark. It's the third chapter of the Gospel of Mark, recounting some of the early experiences in the life of Jesus.... It begins with the seventh verse of the third chapter of Mark, which we think is probably the oldest and maybe in some ways the most authentic of all the four gospels:
Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee' followed him. And many who had diseases pressed in upon him to touch him. And he went up into the hills and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve to be with him and sent them out to preach.
Now, I don't read that passage to engage in any cheap prooftexting or to justify or to legitimatize anything. It simply is to say that at the heart of the Biblical faith, the Christian faith, I think there is this tragic note: that the need for a personal decision about one's own lifestyle, one's own philosophy, one's own faith, one's own spiritual path, often results in tragic brokenness and pain in the relationships to those with whom one is close. This is the price that is required by any kind of freedom of choice. I think there's no one in this room who would want to deny that each one of us has eventually to make this ultimate choice, which we all have to make for ourselves—not to have it made for us by a family which is pressuring us, by policemen or "programmers" or "deprogrammers" or "unprogrammers" or anybody else who is pressuring us, but somehow or other to be given the possibility and the dignity to make that choice ourselves. And that's not an easy thing to do. But I think all of us here would want to underline the need for that. And we can feel some empathy not only with Jesus, who, as a young man, was beginning to engage in his ministry, but perhaps also with his family and his friends and his brothers and sisters who were baffled and distressed by his activities.
Now, let me make just one other point. I've asked myself in recent weeks, as there has been more and more controversy about the Hare Krsna movement (many devotees of which I've personally known and respected highly), "Why is it that suddenly this movement and other movements have come in for such attention, to the point that one might even begin to speak of harassment? Why is this? And I have to confess now, as a theologian mainly committed to Christianity, that I think it indicates a feeling of guilt and a feeling of failure on the part of those who have tried to preserve something of the critical and creative spiritual possibilities that Christianity itself offers. Could it be that we have allowed Christianity itself and perhaps Judaism to be so identified with the values of accumulation, profit, performance, success, and material gain—which are, after all, the main values of our society—that it takes something as apparently esoteric and exotic as a movement coming from India to remind us that there is, in fact, another way of life, that there is a way of life that is not built on accumulating profit, property, success, and degrees, but has at its core a certain kind of simplicity and plainness of living, if you will? Isn't it strange that that message can now be presented to us by movements coming from so far away, when the prophets of our own tradition—the ones that we officially celebrate but often ignore—have a message so similar? Jesus of Nazareth; St. Francis of Assisi, who certainly worried his parents when he made his strange decision to put on a new kind of clothing, to go out to sing and dance in the streets and to talk to the birds; Baal-Schem-Tov, in the Chassidic Jewish tradition, who was viewed as a little strange, but who brought a kind of gaiety and affirmation to life and a rejection of the values of mere profit and accumulation.
Why is it, I asked myself, that we can't hear the voices of these prophets from our own tradition, and yet somehow people from as far away as India can bring a message which in some ways sounds so similar? Maybe this is a way that we are being called back to something more essential in our own tradition—a way that God has of reminding us of what we've left behind and forgotten and ignored. What is the meaning for us of this movement's coming into our midst in this century? I would put it in a very theological sense: What is God saying to us? What does it mean? Is it merely a legal issue? Is it merely an issue of civil liberties, however important that may be? Or is there something else which is happening here? Are we uncomfortable with some of these movements because at a certain level we're very uncomfortable with ourselves, with the kind of materialistic society we've built? Maybe one of the results of this Hare Krsna movement will be to stimulate us to rediscover some things that we've ignored and suppressed in our own religious heritage. I think it may happen. And if it does, then I'm very grateful for the kind of gift that they bring.
Questions and Answers
Can I take any spiritual path and arrive at the same goal? Is God a person or just energy? Can I become God? ... When it comes to the science of God-realization, most people are pretty much in the dark. In this conversation with Professor Alphonso Verdu of the University of Kansas, Dhrstadyumna Swami uses ancient India's Vedic literature—"the torchlight of knowledge"—to clear things up.
This conversation took place on the program "Public Access," aired over Sunflower Cablevision of Lawrence, Kansas.
Professor Verdu: Maybe we could talk about the basis of your programs, ideals, religion, and philosophy. Earlier you were saying that your main goal is to attain Krsna consciousness. What do you understand by Krsna?
Dhrstadyumna Swami: Krsna is a transcendental name of God which means "all-attractive." We understand that God may have many names, but ultimately He is one.
Professor Verdu: Now, the Bhagavad-gita is one of the main works translated by your spiritual master. The Bhagavad-gita talks about Krsna as being an incarnation of Visnu.
Dhrstadyumna Swami: No. Actually, according to the Vedic literature, Visnu is an expansion of Krsna. The Brahma-samhita [5.48] states, "I adore the primeval Lord, Govinda, of whose subjective personality Maha-Visnu is the portion of a portion." Also, Srila Vyasadeva himself, the author of the Vedic literatures, declares in the Srimad-Bhagavatam [1.3.28]: ete camsa-kalah pumsah krsnas tu bhagavan svayam. After listing the different incarnations of God, Srila Vyasadeva says that Krsna is the original source.
Professor Verdu: Oh.
Dhrstadyumna Swami: When many candles are lit by one original candle, the quality of each candle's light is the same, although they burn separately. Similarly, Krsna is the original personality from whom all other incarnations come.
Professor Verdu: So how do you understand the text of the Bhagavad-gita, where it says that Krsna is the eighth incarnation of Visnu, and that Krsna is just a human, corporeal manifestation of Visnu?
Dhrstadyumna Swami: This is not a statement of the Bhagavad-gita. In the eleventh chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, Krsna reveals His cosmic form to Arjuna, within which are contained all the universes. Then Arjuna sees the four-armed form of Visnu, and finally the original, two-armed form of Krsna. Krsna's body is never to be considered material. As stated in the Brahma-samhita [5.1], isvarah paramah krsnah: "Krsna, who is known as Govinda, is the supreme controller. He has an eternal, blissful body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin, and He is the prime cause of all causes." Also, from an analytical examination of the personalities of Visnu and Krsna we can understand that, whereas Visnu is worshiped with awe and reverence up to the relationship of servitude, only in Krsna can you worship or adore God as your dearmost friend, or even as your child, or ultimately engage with God in a reciprocal relationship of lover and beloved. These are found only in Krsna.
Professor Verdu: Right. Yes.
Dhrstadyumna Swami: Therefore, because these are not displayed in Visnu, Krsna's form and personality are considered, in a sense, superior.
Professor Verdu: Yes. The Bhagavad-gita talks about three different ways towards emancipation, or towards ultimate salvation-that is, karma-yoga, jnana-yoga, and bhakti-yoga. First, what do you understand by karma-yoga? And what of karma itself?
Dhrstadyumna Swami: Karma means "action pertaining to the development of the material body." Just as we study in physics or chemistry that for every action there is a reaction, so the original pure consciousness of the soul is now covered by a material body in terms of his karma, or work. Good actions produce good results—such as physical beauty, good parentage, and less suffering—and bad actions produce bad results. "As a man sows, so shall he reap."
Professor Verdu: Now, this material body—do you include the mind as part of the material body, as the subtle body?
Dhrstadyumna Swami: Yes. In the Bhagavad-gita [7.4], Krsna says:
bhumir apo 'nalo vayuh
This means that God has eight material energies: five gross (earth, water, fire, air, and space) and three subtle (mind, intelligence, and false ego). The material body is a combination of these elements. The specific form and qualities of each body are determined by the desire and activities of the individual soul (jiva), whose essential nature is superior to matter, being sentient and eternally unchanging.
Professor Verdu: The Bhagavad-gita often talks about three qualities of matter—goodness (sattva), passion (rajas), and ignorance (tamas). What role do they play in your conception?
Dhrstadyumna Swami: The mode of passion is characterized by hankering and by great endeavor for the results of one's activities, and by sense enjoyment. Ultimately it is characterized by sex life. Just like this nation—it is very passionate.
Professor Verdu: You would say, then, that Americans are predominantly overpowered by the passionate mode of nature?
Dhrstadyumna Swami: Yes. And we see that the third mode, ignorance, is also present. Those in this mode are characterized by intoxication, too much sleep, uncleanliness, sloth, and lethargy.
Professor Verdu: Right, right.
Dhrstadyumna Swami: Just like I have seen that many of my young brothers and sisters who are taking drugs have become very dirty and lazy. That means they are becoming ...
Professor Verdu: Overpowered by tamas, ignorance—right! Even if they claim they are accumulating sattva—the element of light, the element of understanding and knowledge?
Dhrstadyumna Swami: Yes. What they are perceiving is hallucination or illusion. We can understand a tree by its fruits. They may claim great enlightenment from taking some intoxicants, but then we see that they are performing the most degraded activities. That is not the mode of goodness.
Professor Verdu: Yes. Several of my own students have taken drugs for the sake of "experience" and so on, but they gradually realized that it was not the right way.
Dhrstadyumna Swami: Great saints and mystics have spent their whole lives in penance and austerity, performing sacrifices to realize God. To think that by simply taking some pill one can automatically understand God—this is a cheap understanding.
Professor Verdu: Yes, quite right. Now we've been talking about karma. What about karma-yoga?
Dhrstadyumna Swami: Whether one is in goodness, passion, or ignorance, one is bound by the results of his activities. So if one gives up the results of his activities (although not necessarily the activities themselves) for the higher purpose of serving God, that is called karma-yoga.
Professor Verdu: What about jnana-yoga, which means the yoga of pure intellectual knowledge?
Dhrstadyumna Swami: Yes—jnana means philosophical speculation to ascend to the impersonal understanding of God.
Professor Verdu: Yes. Now, wasn't Sankaracarya an advocate of this state of mind, which is totally impersonal? Didn't he say that the ultimate state to be attained by the soul is the dissolution of personality, and ultimately the disintegration of individuality?
Dhrstadyumna Swami: No, that is not the ultimate state.
Professor Verdu: But Sankara proposed that as the ultimate state.
Dhrstadyumna Swami: But we have to understand the class of men he was teaching. At the time, Buddhism was the predominant mode of thinking in India. Buddha drove the Vedas out of India. Sankara meant to reestablish the Vedic authority, but he couldn't present the personal understanding, because the people were too impersonalistic. They were into the voidistic thought of Buddhism—nirvana, nothing. So he thought to elevate them to accept the Vedic authority by presenting the Vedas in an impersonal way. But at the time of his leaving this material world, he himself told his disciples:
bhaja govindam bhaja govindam
"You fools and rascals, all your grammatical word jugglery and philosophical speculation will not save you at the time of death. Just worship Govinda, worship Govinda, worship Govinda." (Govinda is another name for Krsna.) And Sankara himself has written many poems glorifying Krsna as the Supreme, transcendental to this cosmic manifestation: narayanah paro 'vyaktat. And he has admitted in his commentary on the Bhagavad-gita that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who appeared as the son of Vasudeva and Devaki.
Professor Verdu: Yes. But generally the system of Sankaracarya is understood as a whole, taking into account all the commentaries he wrote on the Upanisads and on the Vedanta-sutra of Badarayana. He does propose a personal aspect of the divinity of Brahman, an aspect which appears as Isvara, but he claims that that aspect is conditioned by the quality of sattva, and only in that sense does Brahman personalize itself. He says that the devotee's union with Isvara, the personal manifestation, is a transitory state. This state, bhakti, is a state of loving union, but it contains a duality, because it implies a distinction between the worshiper and the Supreme Person of God. Sankara said that in the ultimate state you have to transcend this distinction and enter into the total oneness of unity with Brahman. And that's why he called his own system kevaladvaita, which means unqualified, nondualistic, pure monism.
Dhrstadyumna Swami: Yes. But this was Sankaracarya's word jugglery.
Professor Verdu: Oh?
Dhrstadyumna Swami: He was simply cheating the atheists, who want to deny God His individuality. Later, Ramanujacarya and Madhvacarya, and ultimately Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, gave the complete understanding. Lord Caitanya explains that the Absolute Truth and the living entities are acintya-bhedabheda-tattva—inconceivably one and different simultaneously. In other words, the living entity (the atomic soul), and God (the Supreme Soul), are one in quality, but they are different in quantity. We may possess a minute degree of knowledge, beauty, strength, wealth, fame, or renunciation, but God has all these opulences simultaneously, to an infinite degree. Thus we can never be equal to Him in all respects.
Professor Verdu: Are you saying, then, that the distinction between Brahman and the jiva soul is not qualitative, but quantitative?
Dhrstadyumna Swami: Yes, and we are also saying that the impersonal Brahman is coming from, or is an emanation from, the personal Parabrahman, Krsna.
Professor Verdu: This is Caitanya's conception.
Dhrstadyumna Swami: It is the authentic Vedic version, as confirmed in the fourteenth chapter of the Bhagavad-gita: brahmano hi pratisthaham: "I am the basis of the impersonal Brahman" [Bg. 14.27]. And it is also confirmed in the Brahma-samhita [5.40], where Lord Brahma states: "I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, whose effulgence is the source of the nondifferentiated Brahman mentioned in the Upanisads, etc."
Professor Verdu: Now, the third way of self-realization, and the highest according to the Bhagavad-gita, is bhakti-yoga, the way of love.
Dhrstadyumna Swami: Yes. God has three features: first, the impersonal, second, the localized Supersoul within the heart of every living entity; and ultimately, the Supreme Person. So by jnana-yoga (or philosophical discrimination) and austerities, one may understand the impersonal feature. And by the practice of the Pantanjali system of eightfold mysticism, astanga-yoga, one may realize the localized Supersoul within the heart. But it is only by devotion and love and service that one can realize the personal, supreme feature of God. In the Gita, Lord Krsna says:
bhaktya mam abhijanati
"One can understand the Supreme Personality as He is only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God" [Bg. 18.55].
Professor Verdu: The Bhagavad-gita tells us that dhyana-yoga, or jnana-yoga, which is the impersonal way, is cumbersome and difficult, whereas bhakti-yoga is the easy way. In what sense is it the easy way?
Dhrstadyumna Swami: Because in bhakti-yoga the means, service to God, is the same as the ultimate end. And it is completely natural to every living thing; it's natural to be personal and individual and to want to serve God. As Lord Caitanya said, jivera 'svarupa' haya—krsnera 'nitya-dasa': "It is the living entity's constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Krsna." There are even examples of animals attaining love of God through bhakti-yoga.
Professor Verdu: What kinds of methods do you rely on in your practice of yoga ? For instance, in dhyana-yoga there has always been, since Upanishadic times, the stress upon repetition of certain sacred syllables—like om, which is supposed to be the supreme synthesis of all conscious things, and which therefore can be compared to white light, the synthesis of all the different colors. Now, you would not rely on the repetition of the syllable om, would you?
Dhrstadyumna Swami: Krsna says, pranavah sarva-vedesu: "Of all syllables, I am the syllable om in the Vedic mantras." This syllable om is the alphabetic representation of God and is used to address the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It's like "O My Lord."
Professor Verdu: What kind of mantras do you use?
Dhrstadyumna Swami: We chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, which is the same as om, but which is also a more personal way of address: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This means "O My Lord, O energy of the Lord, please engage me in Your service."
Professor Verdu: Do you chant together or alone?
Dhrstadyumna Swami: Both. We have our japa beads for private meditation ...
Professor Verdu: Like a Catholic rosary...
Dhrstadyumna Swami: Yes, for helping the concentration. We also chant together in a group, because in this age of quarrel and dissension the recommended process of God-realization—it doesn't matter what religion you have, or what name of God you use, provided it is authorized—the recommended process is to glorify the holy name of God in the association of saintly persons.
Professor Verdu: For the effectiveness of this mantra in bringing about Krsna consciousness, do you conceive of a need for relying on the grace of Krsna to help you?
Dhrstadyumna Swami: Yes. Because we are finite, we cannot understand the infinite by our own tiny endeavor. But the infinite has the power to descend to our plane of cognition and reveal Himself to us. Indeed, that is the only way of understanding the ultimate truth. The Hare Krsna mantra is a prayer to the Supreme Lord and His energy to engage the tiny soul in His eternal service. Our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, has told us not to be anxious to see God, but to act in such a way that God will want to come and see us. By chanting God's name, the heart becomes cleansed. In the first of his eight verses on the holy name, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has said, "Let there be all victory for the chanting of the holy name of Lord Krsna, which can cleanse the mirror of the heart and stop the miseries of the blazing fire of material existence. This chanting is the waxing moon that spreads the white lotus of good fortune for all living entities. It is the life and soul of all education. The chanting of the holy name of Krsna expands the blissful ocean of transcendental life. It gives a cooling effect to everyone and enables one to taste full nectar at every step."
Professor Verdu: It seems we're out of time. I think this has been a most interesting conversation, and I thank you very much for meeting together with me. I hope to meet you again.
Dhrstadyumna Swami: Hare Krsna!
Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, appears within the material world in every age. Sometimes He appears as Lord Rama or some other incarnation, and sometimes He appears in His original, supreme form of Sri Krsna. But although He appears in different forms and different lands and among different peoples, His mission is always the same: to teach love of God as the prime necessity for humanity. Five hundred years ago He appeared in Bengal, India, as Lord Caitanya and showed the perfect example of devotion to Krsna by adopting the role of Krsna's pure devotee.
An especially touching instance of Lord Caitanya's exemplary behavior was His loving relationship with His mother, Sacidevi. Theirs was the ideal relationship between an enlightened, loving mother and her Krsna-conscious son.
When Lord Caitanya was still a boy, His older brother Visvarupa accepted the renounced order of life (sannyasa) and left home to travel as a missionary. Visvarupa's leaving greatly upset His parents, but Lord Caitanya assured them that by accepting sannyasa Visvarupa was rendering the best service to His family. (The Vedic scriptures confirm that if one becomes Krsna's pure devotee, his parents and many generations of his forefathers are liberated from material bondage and attain the kingdom of God.) To further comfort His parents, Lord Caitanya remained at home. And later, after His father's passing, He married.
However, at the age of twenty-four Lord Caitanya left His mother and young wife and also entered the renounced order. He wanted to expand His sankirtana movement, to propagate more widely the congregational chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra. The Lord immediately departed for Vrndavana, but being overwhelmed with ecstatic love for Krsna, He lost all awareness of the external world and wandered for three days on the banks of the Ganges at Navadvipa. Finally, His chief associates, Sri Advaita and Nityananda Prabhus, induced Him to come to Advaita's home.
When the Lord went to Sri Advaita's home, a meeting with His mother occurred that was surcharged with feelings of both joy and grief. Upon seeing one another, they both became overwhelmed with emotion. When Mother Saci saw the Lord's head without hair (a sign that He had taken sannyasa), she became distressed. She kissed the Lord and tried to observe Him carefully, but because her eyes were filled with tears, she couldn't see. She implored Him, "Do not act like your elder brother Visvarupa, who took sannyasa and never visited me again."
Lord Caitanya replied, "My dear mother, though I have accepted the renounced order, I shall never be indifferent to you."
So the Lord stayed at Sri Advaita's house for many days, conversing with Sri Advaita and other devotees by day, and at night chanting Hare Krsna in divine ecstasy. During this time Mother Saci took charge of cooking for her son. When the Lord danced in the kirtana He would jump high in the air and sometimes fall to the ground, and Mother Saci would pray that Lord Visnu would protect her son from hurting Himself.
After some days the Lord assembled all His devotees and said, "My dear friends, as long as I remain manifest I shall never give you up. Nor shall I be able to give up My mother. But after accepting sannyasa, a sannyasi should not remain at his birthplace encircled by relatives. Please make some arrangement so that I may not leave you and at the same time people may not blame Me for remaining at home after taking sannyasa."
The devotees then approached Mother Saci with the Lord's request. Mother Saci said, "It will be a great happiness for me if Nimai [Lord Caitanya] stays here in Navadvipa. But at the same time, if someone blames Him, it will be my great unhappiness. So here is my proposal: Let Nimai live at Jagannatha Puri. Then he will not leave any of us, and at the same time He can remain aloof as a sannyasi. Since Jagannatha Puri and Navadvipa are so close, I shall be able to get news of Nimai frequently. I do not care for my personal happiness, but only for His happiness. Indeed, I accept His happiness as My happiness."
With these words Mother Saci gave the example for all mothers whose sons turn to genuine spiritual life. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada comments as follows:
"It is a great happiness for a mother if her son does not leave home to search out Krsna but remains with her. At the same time, if a son does not search after Krsna but simply remains at home, he is blamed by experienced saintly persons. Such blame certainly causes great unhappiness for a mother. If a mother wants her son to progress spiritually, she should allow him to go out searching for Krsna. But if she does not allow her son to search for Krsna, she is called ma, which indicates maya (illusion). By allowing her son to become a sannyasi and search for Krsna, Sacimata instructs all mothers of the world. She indicates that all sons should become devotees of Krsna and should not stay at home under the care of an affectionate mother."
Thus, except for six years in which he toured South India, Lord Caitanya stayed at Jagannatha Puri for the remaining twenty-four years of His life. Every year the devotees from Navadvipa would come and visit the Lord, bringing food cooked by His mother. Lord Caitanya would also send prasada (spiritual food) from the Jagannatha temple to His mother in Navadvipa and ask her forgiveness for His entering the renounced order. In this way, despite their physical separation, Lord Caitanya and His mother associated spiritually. And the devotees glorify their eternal relationship of mother and son by chanting, "Jaya, Sacinandana! Jaya, Sacinandana! All glories to Lord Caitanya, the joy of Mother Saci!"