VedicViews on Western Thinkers
Carl Jung (1875 -1961)
Psychologist Carl Jung felt he had searched for his real self in past lives but had "not fulfilled the task" and never would. (A discussion with His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.)
Hayagriva dasa: Carl Jung once asked himself this question: "Have I lived before in the past as a specific personality, and did I progress so far in that life that I am now able to seek a solution? I could well imagine that I might have lived in former centuries and there encountered questions I was not yet able to answer, that I had to be born again because I had not fulfilled the task that was given to me."
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that is a fact. Krsna explains in Bhagavad-gita [6.43], labhate paurva-dehikam: "On taking rebirth, one revives the consciousness of his previous life and tries to make further progress."
Hayagriva dasa: "When I "'die," Jung wrote, "my deeds will follow along with me—that is how I imagine it."
Srila Prabhupada: That is the law of karma.
Hayagriva dasa: Jung continued, "I will bring with me what I have done. In the meantime it is important to insure that I do not stand at the end with empty hands."
Srila Prabhupada: If you are making regular progress in Krsna consciousness, your hands will not be empty at the end. Completeness means returning home, back to Godhead. This return is not empty. A Vaisnava does not want emptiness-eternal life with Krsna is our aspiration. Materialists are thinking that at the end of life everything will be empty; therefore they conclude that they should enjoy themselves as much as possible in this life. That is why sense enjoyment is at the core of material life; materialists are mad after sense enjoyment.
Hayagriva dasa: Jung believed that one is reborn due to karma, or selfish action. He wrote, "If karma still remains to be disposed of, then the soul relapses again into desires and returns to live once more, perhaps even doing so out of the realization that something remains to be completed. In my case, it must have been primarily a passionate urge toward understanding which brought about my birth, for that was the strongest element in my nature."
Srila Prabhupada: That understanding for which he is longing is understanding of Krsna. This is explained in Bhagavad-gita [7.19]:
bahunam janmanam ante
One's understanding is complete when one comes to the point of understanding that Krsna is everything. Then one's material journey comes to an end: tyaktva deham punar janma naiti [Bg. 4.9]. When one's understanding of Krsna is incomplete, Krsna gives instructions by which one can understand Him completely. In the Seventh Chapter of Bhagavad-gita Krsna says, asamsayam samagram mam yatha jnasyasi tac chrnu: "Now hear from Me how you can understand Me completely and without any doubt." [Bg. 7.1] If we can understand Krsna completely, we will take our next birth in the spiritual world.
Hayagriva dasa: Jung conceived of a persona, which seems identical with what we call the false ego. He wrote, "The persona ... is the individual's system of adaptation to, or the manner he assumes in dealing with, the world. A professor, for example, has his own characteristic persona. But the danger is that people become identical with their personas—the professor with his textbook, the tenor with his voice. One can say, with a little exaggeration, that the persona is that which in reality one is not, but which oneself as well as others think one is."
Srila Prabhupada: One's real persona is that one is the eternal servant of God. This is the spiritual conception of life, and when one realizes this, his persona becomes his salvation and perfection. But as long as one is in the material conception of life, one's persona is that one is the servant of one's family, community, body, nation, ideal, and so on. In either case the persona is there and must continue, but proper understanding is realizing that one is the eternal servant of Krsna. As long as one is in the material conception, one labors under the delusion of the false ego, thinking, "I am an American," "I am a Hindu," and so on. This is the false ego at work. In reality we are all servants of God. When we speak of a "false ego," we predicate a real ego, a purified ego. One whose ego is purified understands that he is the servant of Krsna.
Hayagriva dasa: For Jung, the purpose of psychoanalysis is to come to grips with our subconscious, shadow personality. Then we can know completely who we are.
Srila Prabhupada: That means attaining real knowledge. When Sanatana Gosvami approached Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Sanatana said, "Please reveal to me who and what I am." In order to understand our real identity, we require the assistance of a guru.
Hayagriva dasa: Jung says that in the shadow personality of all males, there is a bit of the female, and in all females there is a bit of the male. Because we repress these aspects of the shadow personality, we do not understand our actions.
Srila Prabhupada: We say that every living entity is by nature a female, prakrti. Prakrti means "female," and purusa means "male." Although we are prakrti, in this material world we are posing ourselves as purusa. Because the jivatma, the individual soul, has the propensity to enjoy as a male, he is sometimes described as purusa. But actually the jivatma is not purusa. He is prakrti. Prakrti means the predominated, and purusa means the predominator. The only predominator is Krsna; therefore, originally we are all female by constitution. But under illusion we attempt to become males, enjoyers. This is called maya. Although a female by constitution, the living entity is trying to imitate the supreme male, Krsna. When one comes to his original consciousness, one understands that he is not the predominator but the predominated.
Hayagriva dasa: Jung wrote of the soul in this way: "If the human soul is anything, it must be of unimaginable complexity and diversity, so that it cannot possibly be approached through a mere psychology of instinct."
Srila Prabhupada: According to Caitanya Mahaprabhu, we can understand the soul through training. We should understand that we are not brahmanas [intellectuals], ksatriyas [administrators], sudras [laborers], sannyasis [renunciants], brahmacaris [celibate students], or whatever. By negation we can understand, "I am not this, I am not that." Then what is our identity? Caitanya Mahaprabhu says, gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah: "I am the servant of the servant of the servant of Krsna, the maintainer of the gopis [Krsna's dearmost servants, the milkmaids of Vrndavana]." That is our real identity. As long as we do not identify ourselves as eternal servants of Krsna, we will be subject to various false identifications. Bhakti, devotional service, is the means by which we can be purified of false identifications.
Hayagriva dasa: Concerning the soul, Jung further wrote, "I can only gaze with wonder and awe at the depths and heights of our psychic nature. Its nonspatial universe conceals an untold abundance of images which have accumulated over millions of years...."
Srila Prabhupada: Since we are constantly changing our bodies, constantly undergoing transmigration, we are accumulating various experiences. However, if we remain fixed in Krsna consciousness, we do not change. There is none of this fluctuation once we understand our real identity, which is, "I am the servant of Krsna; my duty is to serve Him." Arjuna realized this after hearing Bhagavad-gita, and he told Sri Krsna,
nasto mohah smrtir labdha
"My dear Krsna, O infallible one, my illusion is now gone. I have regained my memory by Your mercy, and I am now firm and free from doubt and am prepared to act according to Your instructions." [Bg. 18.73]
So after hearing Bhagavad-gita Arjuna comes to this conclusion, and his illusion is dispelled by Krsna's mercy. Arjuna is then fixed in his original position. And what is this? Karisye vacanam tava: "Whatever You say, I shall do." At the beginning of Bhagavad-gita Krsna told Arjuna to fight, and Arjuna refused. At the conclusion of Bhagavad-gita Arjuna's illusion is dispelled, and he is situated in his original constitutional position. Thus our perfection lies in executing the orders of Krsna.
Hayagriva dasa: Jung noted that the world's religions speak of five different types of rebirth. One is metempsychosis, the transmigration of souls, and, according to this view, "... one's life is prolonged in time by passing through different bodily existences; or, from another point of view, it is a life-sequence interrupted by different reincarnations.... It is by no means certain whether continuity of personality is guaranteed or not: there may be only a continuity of karma."
Srila Prabhupada: A personality is always there, and bodily changes do not affect it. However, one identifies himself according to his body. For instance, when the soul is within the body of a dog, he thinks according to that particular bodily construction. He thinks, "1 am a dog, and I have my particular activities." In human society the same conception is there. For instance, when one is born in America he thinks, "I am an American, and I have my duty." According to the body, the personality is manifest—but in all cases personality is there.
Hayagriva dasa: But is this personality continuous?
Srila Prabhupada: Certainly the personality is continuous. At death the soul passes into another gross body along with its mental and intellectual identifications. The individual acquires different types of bodies, but the person is the same.
Hayagriva dasa: This would correspond to the second type of rebirth, which is reincarnation. Jung wrote, "This concept of rebirth necessarily implies the continuity of personality. Here the human personality is regarded as continuous and accessible to memory, so that when one is incarnated or born, one is able, at least potentially, to remember that one has lived through previous existences and that these existences were one's own—that is, that they had the same ego-form as the present life. As a rule, reincarnation means rebirth into a human body."
Srila Prabhupada: Not necessarily into a human body. From Srimad-Bhagavatam we learn that Bharata Maharaja became a deer in his next life. The soul is changing bodies just as a man changes his dress. The man is the same, although his dress may be different:
vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya
"As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones." [Bg. 2.22] When a dress is old and cannot be used anymore, one has to purchase another. Similarly, you "purchase" a new bodily dress with the "money" (karma) you have accumulated in your life. The man is the same, but his dress is supplied according to the price he can pay. According to your karma, you receive a certain type of body. .
Hayagriva dasa: The third type of rebirth is called resurrection, and Jung notes that there are two types of resurrection. "It may be a carnal body, as in the Christian assumption that this body will be resurrected." According to the Christian doctrine, at the end of the world the gross bodies will reassemble themselves and ascend into heaven or descend into hell.
Srila Prabhupada: This is simply foolishness. The gross material body can never be resurrected. At the time of death the living entity leaves this material body, and the material body disintegrates. How can the material elements reassemble themselves?
Hayagriva dasa: Jung further wrote that on a higher level, resurrection is no longer understood in a gross material sense: "It is assumed that the resurrection of the dead is the raising up of the corpus gloriaficationis, the subtle body, in the state of incorruptibility."
Srila Prabhupada: This type of "resurrection" is applicable only to God and His representatives, not to others. In this case, it is not a material body that is "raised up," but a spiritual one. When God appears, He appears in a spiritual body, and this body does not change. In Bhagavad-gita Krsna says that He spoke to the sun-god millions of years ago, and Arjuna questions how this could be possible. Krsna replies that although Arjuna had been present, he could not remember. It is possible for one to remember only if one does not change bodies—changing bodies means forgetting. But the Lord's body is purely spiritual, and a spiritual body never changes. According to the Mayavadi conception, the Absolute Truth is impersonal, and when He appears as a person He accepts a material body. But those who are advanced in spiritual knowledge, who accept the Bhagavad-gita, understand that this is not the case. Krsna specifically says, avajananti mam mudha manusim tanum asritam: "Because I appear as a human being, the unintelligent think that I am nothing but a human being." [Bg. 9.11] This is not the case. Impersonalists have no knowledge of the spiritual body.
Hayagriva dasa: The fourth form of rebirth is called renovatio, and this applies to "the transformation of a mortal into an immortal being, of a corporeal into a spiritual being, and of a human into a divine being. Well-known prototypes of this change are the transfiguration and ascension of Christ, and the bodily assumption of the mother of God into heaven after her death."
Srila Prabhupada: We say that the spiritual body never dies, and the material body is subject to destruction. Na hanyate hanyamane sarire: the material body is subject to destruction, but after its destruction the spiritual body is still there. The spiritual body is neither generated nor killed.
Hayagriva dasa: But aren't there examples in the Srimad-Bhagavatam of a kind of ascension into heaven? Didn't Arjuna ascend?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, and Yudhisthira. There are many instances—especially Krsna Himself and His associates. But we should never consider their bodies material. They didn't go through death of any sort, although their bodies traveled to the higher universe. But it is also a fact that everyone possesses a spiritual body.
Hayagriva dasa: The fifth type of rebirth is indirect and is called "participation in the process of transformation." Examples of this type may be the initiation ceremony or the twice-born ceremony of the brahmana. "In other words," Jung wrote, "one has to witness, or take part in, some rite of transformation. This rite may be a ceremony.... Through his presence at the rite, the individual participates in divine grace."
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, one's first birth is by one's father and mother, and the next birth is by the spiritual master and Vedic knowledge. When one takes his second birth, he comes to understand that he is not the material body. This is spiritual education. That birth of knowledge, or birth into knowledge, is called bija.
Hayagriva dasa: Thus far we have only discussed Jung's autobiography. In one of Jung's last books. The Undiscovered Self, he discussed the meaning of religion and its utility in the modern world. He wrote, "The meaning and purpose of religion lie in the relationship of the individual to God (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) or to the path of salvation and liberation (Buddhism). From this basic fact all ethics is derived, which without the individual's responsibility before God can be called nothing more than conventional morality."
Srila Prabhupada: First of all, we understand from Bhagavad-gita that no one can approach God without being purified of all sinful reactions. Only one who is standing on the platform of pure goodness can understand God and engage in His service. From Arjuna, we understand that God is param brahma param dhama pavitram paramam bhavan: He is "the Supreme Brahman, the ultimate, the supreme abode and purifier." [Bg. 10.12] Param brahma indicates the Supreme Brahman. Every living being is Brahman, or spirit, but Krsna is the param brahma, the Supreme Brahman. He is also param dhama, the ultimate abode of everything. He is also pavitram paramam, the purest of the pure. In order to approach the purest of the pure, one must become completely pure, and to this end morality and ethics are necessary. Therefore, in our Krsna consciousness movement we prohibit illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication, and gambling—the four pillars of sinful life. If we can avoid these sinful activities, we can remain on the platform of purity. Krsna consciousness is based on this morality, and one who cannot follow these principles falls down from the spiritual platform. Thus, purity is the basic principle of God consciousness and is essential for the re-establishment of our eternal relationship with God.
Hayagriva dasa: Jung saw atheistic communism as the greatest threat in the world today. He wrote, "The communistic revolution has debased man far lower than democratic collective, psychology has done, because it robs him of his freedom not only in the social but in the moral and spiritual sense.... The state has taken the place of God; that is why, seen from this angle, the socialist dictatorships are religious, and state slavery is a form of worship."
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, I agree with him. Atheistic communism has contributed to the degradation of human civilization. The communists supposedly believe in the equal distribution of wealth. According to our understanding. God is the father, material nature is the mother, and the living entities are the sons. The sons have a right to live at the cost of the father. The entire universe is the property of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the living entities are being supported by the supreme father. However, one should be satisfied with the supplies allotted to him. According to Isopanisad, tena tyaktena bhunjithah: we should be satisfied with our allotment and not envy one another or encroach upon one another's property. We should not envy the capitalists or the wealthy, because everyone is given his allotment by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Consequently, everyone should be satisfied with what he receives. On the other hand, one should not exploit others. One may be born in a wealthy family, but one should not interfere with the rights of others. Whether one is rich or poor, one should be God conscious, accept God's arrangement, and serve God to his fullest. This is the philosophy of Srimad-Bhagavatam , and it is confirmed by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. We should be content with our allocations from God and concern ourselves with advancing in Krsna consciousness. If we become envious of the rich, we will be tempted to encroach upon their allotment, and in this way we are diverted from our service to the Lord. The main point is that everyone, rich or poor, should engage in God's service. If everyone does so, there will be real peace in the world.
Hayagriva dasa: Concerning the socialist state, Jung further wrote, "The goals of religion—deliverance from evil, reconciliation with God, rewards in the hereafter, and so on—turn into worldly promises about freedom from care for one's daily bread, the just distribution of material goods, universal prosperity in the future, and shorter working hours." In other words, the communists place emphasis on immediate tactile rewards.
Srila Prabhupada: This is because they have no understanding of spiritual life, nor can they understand that the person within the body is eternal and spiritual. Therefore they recommend immediate sense gratification.
Hayagriva dasa: Jung believed, however, that socialism or Marxism cannot possibly replace religion in the proper, traditional sense. "A natural function which has existed from the beginning—like the religious function—cannot be disposed of with rationalistic and so-called enlightened criticism."
Srila Prabhupada: The communists are concerned with adjusting material things, which can actually never be adjusted. They imagine that they can solve problems, but ultimately their plans will fail. The communists do not understand what religion actually is. It is not possible to avoid religion. Everything has a particular characteristic. Salt is salty, sugar is sweet, and chili is hot or pungent. These are intrinsic characteristics. Similarly, the living entity has an intrinsic quality. His characteristic is to render service—be he a communist, a theist, a capitalist, or whatever. In all countries people are working and rendering service to their respective governments—be they capitalists or communists—and the people are not getting any lasting benefit. Therefore we say that if people follow the footsteps of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu by serving Krsna, they will actually be happy. Both communists and capitalists are saying, "Render service to me," but Krsna says, sarva-dharman parityajya: "Just give up all other service and render service unto Me, and I will free you from all sinful reactions." [Bg. 18.66]
Hayagriva dasa: Jung feels that materialistic Western capitalism cannot possibly defeat a pseudoreligion like Marxism. He believes that the only way the individual can combat atheistic communism is to adopt a nonmaterialistic religion. He wrote, "It has been correctly realized in many quarters that the alexipharmic, the antidote, should in this case be an equally potent faith of a different and nonmaterialistic kind...." So Jung sees modern man in desperate need of a religion that has immediate meaning. He feels that Christianity is no longer effective because it no longer expresses what modern man needs most.
Srila Prabhupada: That nonmaterialistic religion which is above everything—Marxism or capitalism—is this Krsna consciousness movement. Krsna has nothing to do with any materialistic "ism," and this movement is directly connected with Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. God demands complete surrender, and we are teaching, "You are servants, but your service is being wrongly placed. Therefore you are not happy. Just render service to Krsna, and you will find happiness." We neither support communism nor capitalism, nor do we advocate the adoption of pseudoreligions. We are only for Krsna.
Hayagriva dasa: Concerning the social situation, Jung wrote, "It is unfortunately only too clear that if the individual is not truly regenerated in spirit, society cannot be either, for society is the sum total of individuals in need of redemption."
Srila Prabhupada: The basis of change is the individual. Now there are a few individuals initiated into Krsna consciousness, and if a large percentage can thus become invigorated, the face of the world will change. There is no doubt of this.
Hayagriva dasa: For Jung, the salvation of the world consists in the salvation of the individual soul. The only thing that saves man from submersion into the masses is his relationship to God. Jung wrote, "His individual relation to God would be an effective shield against these pernicious influences."
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, those who take Krsna consciousness seriously are never troubled by Marxism, this-ism, or that-ism. A Marxist may take to Krsna consciousness, but a Krsna conscious devotee would never become a Marxist. That is not possible. It is explained in Bhagavad-gita that when one knows the highest perfection of life, one cannot be misled by a third-or fourth-class philosophy.
Hayagriva dasa: Jung also felt that materialistic progress could be a possible enemy to the individual. He wrote, "A favorable environment merely strengthens the dangerous tendency to expect everything to originate from outside-even that metamorphosis which external reality cannot provide, namely, a deep-seated change of the inner man...."
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, everything originates from inside, from the soul. It is confirmed by Bhaktivinoda Thakura and others that material progress is essentially an expansion of the external energy—maya, illusion. We are all living in illusion, and so-called scientists and philosophers can never understand God and their relationship to Him, despite their material advancement. Material advancement and knowledge are actually a hindrance to the progressive march of Krsna consciousness. We therefore minimize our necessities to live a saintly life. We are not after luxurious living. We feel that life is meant for spiritual progress and Krsna consciousness, not for material advancement.
Hayagriva dasa: To inspire this deep-seated change in the inner man, Jung feels that a proper teacher is needed, someone to explain religion to man. .'
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. According to the Vedic injunction, it is essential to seek out a guru—a person who is a representative of God. Saksad-dharitvena samasta-sastraih. The representative of God is worshiped as God, but he never says, "I am God." Although he is worshiped as God, he is the servant of God—God Himself is always the master. Caitanya Mahaprabhu requested everyone to become a guru. "Wherever you are, simply become a guru and deliver all these people who are in ignorance." One may say, "I am not very learned. How can I become a guru? But Caitanya Mahaprabhu said that it is not necessary to be a learned scholar, for there are many so-called learned scholars who are fools. It is only necessary to impart Krsna's instructions, which are already there in Bhagavad-gita. Whoever explains Bhagavad-gita as it is—he is a guru. If one is fortunate enough to approach such a guru, his life becomes successful.
Hayagriva dasa: Jung also laments the fact that "our philosophy is no longer a way of life, as it was in antiquity; it has turned into an exclusively intellectual and academic affair."
Srila Prabhupada: That is also our opinion: mental speculation has no value in itself. One must be directly in touch with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and using all reason, one must assimilate the instructions given by Him. One can then follow these instructions in one's daily life and do good to others by teaching Bhagavad-gita.
Hayagriva dasa: On one hand, Jung sees an exclusively intellectual philosophy; on the other, denominational religions with "archaic rites and conceptions" that "express a view of the world which caused no great difficulties in the Middle Ages, but which has become strange and unintelligible to the man of today...."
Srila Prabhupada: That is because preachers of religion are simply dogmatic. They have no clear idea of God; they only make official proclamations. When one does not understand, he cannot make others understand. But there is no such vanity in Krsna consciousness. Krsna consciousness is clear in every respect. This is the expected movement Mr. Jung wanted. Every sane man should cooperate with this movement and liberate human society from the gross darkness of ignorance.
With oil running out and no substitute in sight, we need more than stopgap solutions.
by Balavanta dasa
Recently thirty-five of the world's leading scientists met at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and predicted that our civilization will definitely run out of oil by the year 2000. Corroborating this warning, the Institute of Human Relations, in New York, said, "It is widely agreed that the world's known oil reserves will not last beyond the present century."
These and many other portents have led President Carter to call the energy crisis the most important problem facing the American people today. He even created a Cabinet-level department to deal with it. After several months of intense effort, the Department of Energy produced a comprehensive energy plan, which is now being bitterly contested in the United States Senate. But even if this plan is approved and works perfectly, it would only succeed in reducing the rate of increase of energy consumption in the United States from about 3.3% per year to 2% per year (in the process costing about 900,000 jobs and wreaking ecological havoc). In other words, at best we'd simply be paying dearly to put the energy crunch off for a few years.
Despite all this, people in general are not willing to cut down their consumption of energy. The Washington Post reported that Americans ignored the President's dire warnings about the exhaustion of petroleum reserves: they used 5% more gasoline in August, 1977, than they had the previous year. The problem seems to be that, as one energy specialist put it, "The [energy] problem will be critical before it even appears serious." At present the heavily industrialized United States, with only 5% of the world's population, is using more than 40% of the world's energy output. But how long can this situation last? To catch up to the United States, the rest of the world is racing to industrialize, but the world's limited energy reserves make the end of the energy bonanza inevitable.
It seems as though we've all been taught from birth that Western civilization is just dawning, that it will go on expanding and improving indefinitely, raising the general welfare through the enlightened use of technology. The present facts, however, compel us to reach a different conclusion: that our industrialized civilization is grinding to a halt. The affluent standard of living we've created in the last few decades is almost completely dependent on the petroleum industry. From transportation to heating, from manufacturing to agriculture, everything is running on oil—which is now running out. The debate as to when it will run out misses the crucial point.
Naturally, in response to the energy crisis, our leaders are rallying around the banners of various hopeful proposals. Typical is the plan to develop nuclear fission as an alternative energy source. According to one congressman, if we build enough nuclear fission reactors by 1990, "we may be able to provide clean, cheap energy forever." He neglects to tell us, however, that the fuel used in these reactors could also be used by terrorist groups to produce nuclear weapons, or that the nuclear waste is so persistently toxic that disposing of it is more of a problem than the oil dilemma itself. In this regard Edward D. David, former President Nixon's science advisor, said, "One has a very queasy feeling about something that has to stay underground and be pretty well sealed off for twenty-five thousand years before it is harmless."
Like the development of nuclear fission reactors, all the other plans for "cheap energy forever"—harnessing nuclear fusion or solar energy, increasing coal production, extracting oil from shale, and so on—carry with them the seeds of harmful reactions and side effects that would eventually outweigh their supposed benefits.
Thousands of years ago the great devotee and saint Prahlada Maharaja described our present situation very succinctly, and his words have been chronicled in India's great spiritual classic Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.7.41):
yad-artha iha karmani
"Materialistic people, thinking themselves very advanced in knowledge, continually promote economic development. But again and again they are frustrated. Indeed, the results they obtain are inevitably the opposite of those they desire."
The proof of Prahlada Maharaja's statement is all around us. Every year we manufacture millions of automobiles to speed us to our destination in comfort—and every year tens of thousands of people meet a horrible death on the highways. Every year we proudly watch our gross national product push closer to the $2 trillion mark—and every year we add even more dangerous pollutants to our water and air. And every year we watch in awe as the latest multimillion-dollar medical technology is unveiled—and every year people are growing old, getting sick, and dying, just as before.
The fact is that we have created a hollow civilization based simply on the pursuit of temporary, flickering sense pleasure. We try to create a very comfortable situation, but we succeed only in creating an even more uncomfortable situation. This is the way of material life, devoid of God consciousness. Our entire artificial way of life is based on the shaky assumption that, through science and technology, we can conquer nature, defy God, and create a world better than the one He has already so kindly provided for us. Unsatisfied with the natural comforts God offers us, we create artificial comforts—but we must also suffer the concomitant discomforts. Now, having created a huge artificial civilization, we are suffering such reactions as the energy crisis. In such a situation, what thoughtful person could possibly propose that we try to solve our staggering problems piecemeal? Is it not obvious that these anomalies are inherent in our hedonistic way of life, as Prahlada Maharaja explained so many years ago? Clearly, what we actually need is a wholesale renovation of the entire human society.
Many people think that Marxist communism is the answer. But right away we can discount that idea, since, like Western capitalism, this communism also assumes—falsely—that material advancement will solve life's problems. The Russians, the Chinese, and their respective allies fail to recognize that technological and economic development will not insure peace and happiness. As is so clear in the West, such development is producing just the opposite. So Marxist communism fails to offer a viable solution to the world's problems for the same reason that capitalism fails. Indeed, they are both from the same materialistic store.
Another popular response to the energy crisis is the plan to convert the economic base from heavy industry to simple agriculture and cottage industries. The idea is that since so much misery has been produced by "bigness" (with its huge factories, burgeoning technology, and competition for natural resources and money) our only recourse is to return to a simple and natural life. "Small is beautiful" is a popular slogan.
While the truth of this is obvious, it is nonetheless a very partial truth because it ignores the essential need for spirituality and purification in human society. Our modern technological culture has been generated by our intense desire to lord it over and enjoy the material nature. How can people give up this desire so easily and return to a simpler and more austere way of life? After all, as the song goes, "How you gonna keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen Paree?" And even if a person can give up some sense gratification for a time, he will soon return to it unless he can replace it with a higher, spiritual pleasure. In India we often see some misguided transcendentalist renounce this world as unreal and go off to the forest or mountains to meditate; but in the end he returns to fulfill his unsatisfied material desires. In the United States many idealistic young people often try to renounce their complicated, materialistic lives and take up a simpler life style, but they find it impossible and return to their old ways. The radicals and hippies of the 60's have become the insurance salesmen of the 70's. And as we have already seen, although the American people have now been amply warned of the impending energy crisis, instead of simplifying their lives and using less energy, the vast majority are consuming more energy than ever. Thus, although it may be possible for some rare few, most people would find it impossible simply to give up their sophisticated sense gratification.
So the solution to the energy crisis does not lie in some new technology or in artificial "smallness." Rather, it lies in transforming our materialistic society into a God conscious one—one fully in harmony with the laws of nature. It is this God consciousness alone that can provide us with both the moral strength and the spiritual pleasure necessary to simplify our lives and reduce energy consumption.
How to achieve the radical transition to a God conscious society—that's the difficulty. Yet fortunately, models of such a society already exist in the farming communities and temples of ISKCON, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. The devotees in ISKCON mold their lives around the teachings of Bhagavad-gita, which contains the essence of Vedic wisdom. The Bhagavad-gita, spoken by the Supreme Lord Krsna five thousand years ago, reveals the knowledge that can enable us to transform our present materialistic society into a God-centered one. The Gita teaches us how to achieve a higher, spiritual pleasure—a pleasure that can keep us very satisfied in a pure, simple life of God consciousness.
As for our economic needs, they are also provided for in Bhagavad-gita. It is not that the Vedic science is impractical or that it leaves out material facilities. On the contrary, Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic literatures detail a most practical culture based on the principles of "simple living and high thinking." Krsna says, annad bhavanti bhutani: the basic necessity is that everyone have an abundant supply of food. That should be the first concern of a well-organized society. And He also explains how to secure it: krsi-goraksya-vanijyam vaisya-karma svabhava-jam. Simply by growing grains, vegetables, and fruits, and by maintaining cows, we can easily obtain whatever we need to eat.
From cows, which thrive on grasses grown virtually everywhere, we get the miracle food, milk. A single cow will often produce from five to ten gallons of milk a day, and from milk we can get cream, butter, yogurt, cheese, and many other foods. From trees we can get fruits like apples, peaches, or mangoes, as well as many varieties of tasty and nutritious nuts. We can. plant vegetable gardens and also raise wheat, rice, and other grains. In this way, by minimal endeavor, a man and his family can easily live on what is grown within a five-mile radius of their home. And if there are places on earth which will not support this program, they should simply be considered uninhabitable and abandoned.
As for housing, we can easily build it from the wood and earth available everywhere, and for fuel we can use either wood or cow dung. We do not need to scar the earth with gigantic machines simply to maintain an artificial standard of living. From the bull and the horse we can get the energy for transportation and plowing, and from sheep, the cotton plant, and the silkworm we can get the raw materials for cloth. By living in this simple and natural way, we easily obtain all necessities and can use the ample remaining time and energy to cultivate Krsna consciousness.
As mentioned earlier, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness has already begun many projects to establish this Vedic culture of simple living and high thinking. And the members of these projects are daily feeling the joyfulness of a natural life in perfect harmony with the universe and its creator. Without the need of modern, artificial amenities, which have caused the energy crisis, these people are very satisfied simply to accept the gifts of nature and worship Krsna by chanting His holy names and doing His work. Rather than an energy shortage, they have found an abundance of energy—the unlimited spiritual energy that Lord Krsna provides to those who follow His instructions with faith and devotion.
"With promiscuity as a norm and even a commodity, no wonder it's hard to draw the line between 'tolerable' and 'criminal.' "
Child prostitution is on the rise in cities all over America. Los Angeles police estimate that in their city alone, more than three thousand boys and girls under fourteen are involved, and for New York City the figure is even higher: as many as twenty thousand juveniles under sixteen are wandering the streets, and a substantial percentage are full- or part-time prostitutes. Most of these children are runaways from broken homes. From all across the country they stream into the big cities (especially New York), where pimps, child molesters, and racketeers enslave them in the name of providing food and lodging.
Of course, most people view all of this as a tragic waste of human lives. What is most appalling is that the victims are the very persons who most need society's protection—our young children. But despite the problem's urgency, Time reported recently, there seem to be "no easy answers or ready remedies."
Apparently, the real problem is that we're trying to play both ends against the middle. On one end, we're outraged at child prostitution, child pornography, rape, and mass sex murders. On the other end, we wink at adultery and fornication ("extramarital sex" and "premarital sex" sound more congenial, and even infanticide isn't quite as unsettling when it becomes "abortion"). It's a bizarre line we want to draw: "On this side promiscuity is a crime—on that side it's all right." But how can we be so sure where to draw the line?
One thing is clear: we've been tolerating more and more promiscuity in what we consider acceptable sexual behavior. Aside from legalizing abortion, pornography, adultery, and fornication, we've practically made promiscuity a part of the gross national product. Already it sells everything from thumbtacks to typewriters. With promiscuity as a behavioral norm and even a commodity, no wonder it's so hard to draw the line between "tolerable" and "criminal." Even when we're faced with an unmistakable evil like child prostitution, we say, "We don't know how to deal with it." Isn't there a link between "criminal" and "tolerable" promiscuity?
If we're going to talk about what makes for promiscuity, then naturally we need some clear-cut ideas on what makes for propriety—we need a sexual standard. Now, it seems obvious that this standard can't be mere vox populi or the latest psychological fad. Of course, the common man and the psychologist may have their opinions. But their opinions have sown the seeds for promiscuity and its bitter harvest, child prostitution. What is the value of their opinions? If we want a sexual standard, let's listen to Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead (whom the world's scriptures variously call God, Allah, Jehovah, and so forth).
Lord Krsna has always said "no promiscuity," so that's the way it has to be. At the same time, in the Bhagavad-gita Krsna says that He looks favorably on sex that accords with religious principles—sex between married people who want to raise children in God consciousness. Sex for procreation within marriage, as devotional service to God, may seem out of tune with today's trends, but that doesn't mean it is undesirable or unhealthy.
In fact, historically it's clear that whenever people have looked upon self-realization and realization of God as life's real goal, sex crimes have been virtually nonexistent. We may note that for nearly all the people of ancient India, prostitution and even more ordinary varieties of illicit sex were unthinkable. But that wasn't because these people were artificially repressing themselves. They simply had no taste for promiscuity. They were experiencing a higher taste—spiritual happiness, the taste of self-realization. Serious social reformers can inquire into this higher taste, which alone can replace the lower taste of promiscuity. In the spirit of "Physician, heal thyself," people who want to do something about sex crimes might do well to find out about self-realization—and get the higher taste for themselves.
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Q. What is the Hare Krsna maha-mantra?
A. A mantra is a transcendental sound vibration that delivers the mind from material anxieties. Of all mantras, the Hare Krsna mantra is the maha-mantra, the great mantra. Composed entirely of God's names, it appears in the ancient Sanskrit scriptures called the Upanisads: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The name Hare addresses the spiritual energy of God. It's like calling out "O energy of God!" The name Krsna means "all-attractive" and thus calls upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Rama, another name of God, means "the highest pleasure."
Q. How does the Hare Krsna maha-mantra work?
A. The greatest teacher of the Hare Krsna mantra is Lord Caitanya, the incarnation of Krsna who appeared five hundred years ago in India. About the maha-mantra He once said, "It cleans the heart of all the dirt accumulated for many lifetimes and puts out the fire of material life, of repeated birth and death." According to the Vedic literature, we experience difficulties in life only because we have lost touch with our original, pure consciousness. In that original, spiritual state we do not suffer birth, death, disease, or old age. This spiritual nature—our real identity—is always present within us, but we have temporarily forgotten it. Chanting Hare Krsna is therefore not an artificial imposition on the mind. Rather, it clears the dust from the mirror of the mind so that we can see our original consciousness—our identity as eternal parts of the Supreme. By chanting the name Krsna, Krsna is present (the names of God are not different from God), and His presence purifies us and brings us transcendental happiness. To chant, one should simply repeat the mantra and hear the sound vibration. One can sing it (alone or in a group) or softly repeat it to oneself.
Q. How do you know the chanting is not some kind of hypnotism?
A. A hypnotic trance is an induced state that resembles deep sleep and makes one susceptible to external suggestions. People who regularly chant Hare Krsna do not show these symptoms. Nor is the chanting part of the hypnotist's repertoire. The Hare Krsna maha-mantra concerns only the spirit soul on the transcendental platform. In India especially, persons in the guru-disciple succession have chanted it for thousands of years, and the scriptures recommend it as a standard form of meditation.
Q. How does chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra differ from other forms of meditation?
A. It is the easiest form of meditation, and the one most recommended by bona fide saints, sages, and scriptures. On the other hand, it is very difficult to correctly perform the kind of meditation in which one sits silently without moving. To do so one has to give up all material desires and practice meditating alone for a long time in a secluded place. The so-called meditation practiced by popular yoga clubs is an imitation of the solitary, mystic meditation. It is a complete farce to practice such "meditation" while living in a big city and maintaining habits like intoxication and illicit sex. Yet anyone anywhere can enjoy immediate results by performing the simple meditation of chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. Therefore the Vedic scriptures have recommended it as the only practical meditation for this age.
Q. Do you have to change your way of life to benefit from the chanting of Hare Krsna?
A. No. Lord Caitanya emphasized that to attain the full benefits one need only chant Hare Krsna in a humble state of mind. In other words, one should humbly call out to God and pray to be engaged in His service. But one doesn't have to live in a special community or shave his head or dress in a certain way. Nor does one have to leave his family or occupation. Of course, those who have received the mantra from a genuine spiritual master, and who agree to follow some basic rules for avoidance of sinful life, will make very rapid advancement. In any case, one is advised to associate with others who are chanting Hare Krsna.
Q. What is the goal of chanting Hare Krsna?
A. Our spiritual master Srila Prabhupada once said that the chanting of Hare Krsna results in more chanting of Hare Krsna. In other words, since chanting develops love of God, it is not merely a means to an end. Chanting God's names in devotion is itself both the means and the end.
Q. How will chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra help the world?
A. The only difficulty with the world is its lack of God consciousness. So the more that people take to the chanting of God's names, the more auspiciousness there will be. Otherwise, the world will continue to move toward the brink of destruction. The chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra is not an exercise for a few. It is meant to bring peace to the whole world.
by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura
(translated from the Bengali by Jayasacinandana dasa).
O Lord, there is nothing that I call "mine." You alone are my father, friend, and brother.
My friends, wife, sons, and daughters are actually Your servants and maidservants. So whatever care I take for them is only to please You.
If I go on maintaining my wealth, family members, home, and wife, I do it simply because they are Yours. As for myself, I am just Your servant.
To serve You I will earn money and bear the expenditures of Your household.
I don't care about what may be good or bad for me. I just care about serving You. I am only a watchman who guards the properties in Your household.
Whenever I use my senses—to hear, to see, to smell or taste—I do it just to please You.
I no longer do anything for my own pleasure. Thakura Bhaktivinoda says, "Your happiness is the essence of everything."
THIS IS A SONG written at the end of the nineteenth century by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, a great spiritual master in the disciplic line of Krsna consciousness. It is an excerpt from a larger work entitled Saranagati (Taking Shelter).
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura was a householder, with a wife and children, and he was a responsible government magistrate. Yet despite his apparent involvement in affairs of this material world, he was perfectly Krsna conscious, with his mind, words, and actions fully dedicated to the service of Lord Sri Krsna. According to the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the original teacher of Krsna consciousness in the modern age, one need not change one's position in this material world, but only one's consciousness. This is confirmed throughout the Vedic literature. There is no need to give up one's home, job, or family; one need only change one's consciousness from material consciousness to Krsna consciousness, and one's life will become sublime. One who knows the science of Krsna and is fully absorbed in Krsna consciousness is a liberated soul, even in this material world, and is fully qualified to be a spiritual master.
In this song, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura expresses the ideal of family life in Krsna consciousness. A Krsna conscious person knows that he is not the body but a spiritual soul within the body, and he knows that he is an eternal servant of Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore, he sees life not in terms of temporary bodily relationships but in the light of the eternal relationship with Krsna. He knows that Krsna alone is the true proprietor and enjoyer of everything and that Krsna is everyone's most intimate relative and well-wishing friend.
Although friendships and family life within this material world are temporary, one's friends and relatives, in their true, eternal identity, are all servants of Krsna, even if now they may not know it. The Krsna conscious person, therefore, is always thinking of how to engage his friends and relatives—and, for that matter, all living beings—in the service of Krsna. The key to this transcendental consciousness is the chanting of the holy names of the Lord—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
A householder is duty-bound to support his family and provide for their material needs, and he is equally obliged to see to their spiritual well-being. It is said that one should not become a mother, a father, a husband, or a teacher unless one can protect those under his care from the clutches of death by engaging them in the devotional service of Krsna. To do this a responsible person will see that everyone under his care takes part in a regular program of chanting Hare Krsna, studying revealed scriptures like Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, and eating only krsna-prasada (vegetarian food offered to Lord Krsna with devotion).
Although attachment to home, wife, children, friends, and money is an impediment to spiritual advancement, a Krsna conscious person knows that the family, friends, and possessions he calls "his" in fact belong to Krsna alone. Therefore, he continues to carry out his worldly duties, but only for the satisfaction of Krsna. Whereas a materialist works in worldly life to please himself or his friends and relatives, a Krsna conscious person works in the same way, but only to please Krsna, the Supreme Lord. Therefore he is a perfect transcendentalist. Although acting in worldly affairs, he is never affected by material entanglements. In this way, he resembles a lotus, which always rests upon the water but never becomes wet. By dedicating one's mind, one's body, one's home-whatever one has—to the service of the Lord, one remains perfectly situated in transcendental life.
by Jayadvaita Svami
Some personal recollections by his disciples.
The first day I saw devotees chanting was October 16, 1966. They were at Tompkins Park in New York City. Initially I was captivated by the dancing. Some minutes later, though, I noticed Srila Prabhupada. He was sitting inconspicuously on the ground at the edge of the circle of dancers, keeping the rhythm on a little tom-tom or bongo drum, allowing the flamboyant hippies of the Lower East Side to take the center stage. His eyes were closed and his brow was knit as he chanted with great intensity and without any concern for people's worldly opinion of him. After an hour or so he got up to speak on the philosophy of Krsna consciousness. His voice was strong and his clarity of thought was impressive—yet he still maintained his humble demeanor. His example of faith and humility moved me. He was praiseworthy, but he wasn't looking for praise. His knowledge of God made him think of himself as very small, and because of this he was very great. It was plain to see, right from the beginnig.
Srila Prabhupada was an expert cook. "I learned just by watching," he used to tell us. I remember once he was staying at his Bombay temple, and I was helping another girl, Palika, cook for him. This was in December of 1976. Every day Srila Prabhupada would take his main meal at one-thirty in the afternoon-small amounts of nicely prepared Indian vegetarian dishes. So to cook all these things—about eleven preparations—Palika and I would have to start at eleven in the morning, and the two of us would have our hands full cooking right up to the last minute. And by any normal standard we were doing it pretty fast.
Then one day Srila Prabhupada came into the kitchen and told us he was going to cook it all in forty-five minutes. His doctor had told him not to see any visitors that day, so he had time to do it. We had a special three-tiered cooker that he'd designed himself, and he put everything for the whole meal in it. He put the dahl (a spicy bean soup) in the bottom.
On the second level he put his rice and several kinds of vegetables. And he put more vegetables on the top. Then he put the whole set-up on the flame. So he had all the ingredients for the meal cooking at the same time. (Palika and I had tried to use the cooker, too, but we could only manage three preparations at once. The rest we had to cook in separate pots on the stove.) So when Srila Prabhupada had everything going, he just turned to us and said, "Now you go take rest for forty-five minutes." We were amazed.
We came back forty-five minutes later and everything was almost ready. Then Srila Prabhupada spiced all the dishes and made some capatis (flat round bread), and that was a whole gourmet meal for four people. On the table was a plate of milk sweets a devotee had brought from America. As a final touch, Srila Prabhupada put some sweets on each plate and said, "This is the success of my mission, don't you think?"
Years ago in Hawaii we had a problem: our huge, seven-foot-tall tulasi plants were overgrowing the temple gateway. [Tulasi is a plant described in the Vedic literatures as being sacred to Lord Krsna.] We asked Srila Prabhupada whether the branches should be pruned, since guests had to duck beneath them to enter. Srila Prabhupada chuckled, thinking it nice that people had to bow to enter Krsna's temple. He said we should tie the branches back a bit, but he warned us not to cut them.
The scriptures teach that the devotees worship the spiritual master on an equal level with God, but that the spiritual master thinks of himself only as the humble servant of God. "Nonsense!" proclaim the skeptics. "No one can receive that worship and remain humble." They didn't know Srila Prabhupada.
Once I was with a large group of devotees who accompanied Srila Prabhupada to Kennedy Airport to see him off. He sat in the airline boarding area while we crowded in around him, sitting at his lotus feet, anxious for a last few minutes of association with our beloved spiritual master. Srila Prabhupada spoke softly; we listened intently; two yak-tail whisks rose and fell behind Srila Prabhupada's head. We could have stayed there forever.
But I could see some angry airline officials at the back of the crowd. Other passengers for the plane could not enter the boarding area. We would have to move, but the officials were failing miserably at persuading us to relinquish our place at the feet of the representative of God. The officials found Rupanuga, one of our leaders. There was some intense discussion. Meanwhile Srila Prabhupada had stopped talking; drums and hand cymbals sounded, and the Hare Krsna mantra filled the air. The airline officials grew frantic.
Suddenly Rupanuga bounded up on a chair, cupped his hands around his mouth, and began to shout with all the authority at his command, which was considerable. Everything stopped. All faces turned up in astonishment. "All devotees get out!" he commanded. "Leave this area at once!"
While everyone sat momentarily stunned by the sudden interruption of these stentorian commands, Srila Prabhupada was immediately on his feet, looking obediently for a way out of the boarding area.
"Not you, Srila Prabhupada!" said Rupanuga. I became jubilant with love for Srila Prabhupada, who had thus so naturally revealed his mind: while we worshiped him like God, he considered himself an ordinary person, and so he humbly and promptly obeyed his servant's command.
On the United Nations
This conversation between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Mr. P. Sharma, a former United Nations worker, took place in Paris.
Srila Prabhupada: Suppose I ask the United Nations, as an organization, to explain the purpose of this cosmic manifestation. I am created a man, another is created an elephant, and another is created an ant. Why is this? The sun is rising on time, the moon is rising on time, seasons are changing. What is the purpose behind all this?
Mr. Sharma: I think the United Nations would be at a loss to tell you.
Srila Prabhupada: So, people have become very dull in spite of their so-called education.
Mr, Sharma: Oh, yes. Education today is merely book knowledge.
Srila Prabhupada: Such so-called knowledge is described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam as simply a waste of time. Although a person may execute his duties perfectly, if he doesn't understand the purpose of creation—if he doesn't awaken his Krsna consciousness—then whatever he has done is simply a waste of time. So our point is that the United Nations is only wasting time.
Even from the practical point of view, they are unable to accomplish anything. The original idea was to stop war. But there have been so many wars, and they cannot stop them. They call themselves the United Nations, but actually they are becoming disunited more and more. According to the Bhagavad-gita, if they actually want peace they must know that Lord Krsna (the Supreme Personality of Godhead) is the supreme enjoyer (bhokta), that He is the supreme proprietor (sarva-loka-mahesvaram), and that He is the friend of everyone (suhrdam sarva-bhutanam). When they know this, Krsna says, then there will be peace. Otherwise, their big conferences in big offices will never be successful.
Mr. Sharma: That means everything belongs to God. That's the one fact they want to avoid.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that is their nonsense. The United Nations is simply an association of the cheaters and the cheated. Someone wants to cheat, and someone is being cheated. That is our opinion. So how can an association of cheaters and cheated do any good for human society? They are cheaters. They do not know how to attain peace, but they are trying for peace in their own way. Therefore they are cheaters.
Mr. Sharma: Well, many people will say that the only things that matter are those that can be rationally explained. Anything that is beyond reason...
Srila Prabhupada: But our argument is quite reasonable. Everything in this room is created, is it not?
Mr. Sharma: Yes.
Srila Prabhupada: The table is created, the light is created—everything is created by someone. So how can you deny the fact that someone has created the whole universe? If you say it has come about automatically, that is rascaldom. Someone has created it. But who is that someone? We are not the creators—not the Americans, not the Englishmen. So we can understand that someone else has created this world. And then we have to ask. Who is the proprietor? Shall I be the proprietor or shall the creator be the proprietor?
Mr. Sharma: The creator, of course.
Srila Prabhupada: So why are they claiming, "This is my country"?
Mr. Sharma: Are you saying that the United States, for instance, doesn't belong to the Americans?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. It doesn't belong to them. Yet these rascals are claiming, "This is mine. This is my flag." Therefore, they are all cheaters. And they are combining and trying to cheat others. The Americans are thinking, "How can I cheat the Russians?" And the Russians are thinking, "How can I cheat the Americans?" Is that civilization—to become cheaters and waste time in so-called conferences? Is that civilization?
Mr. Sharma: No, not at all.
Srila Prabhupada: In America they cheated the Red Indians. They got the land, and now they are claiming, "It is mine." Well, where did you get this land? You cheated the Red Indians, and you claim it is your land. All over the world this is going on. Napoleon thought, "France is mine." So, France is there, but where is Napoleon? Where is he living now? In France or in hell or in heaven? There are so many places and so many forms of life. In this body, in this life, I may be working as a nationalist—as a Napoleon or as a Gandhi or as someone fighting in the United Nations. But as soon as this body is finished, I'll get another body. So the whole duration of my previous life is simply wasted.
Mr. Sharma: I see....
Srila Prabhupada: Simply wasted. They are simply wasting time. They don't have perfect knowledge—simply some Utopian ideas. And they are passing as advanced in civilization. They should know what the purpose of life is—what our relationship is with this cosmic manifestation. There must be a creator. So who is that creator? What is my relationship with Him? But they are neglecting all these things and still passing as world leaders.
Mr. Sharma: That's the worst kind of government. It seems that their standard is just as you've said: every nation for itself.
Srila Prabhupada: But a human being can get out of this illusion. There is sufficient knowledge, especially in the Vedic literature. So why don't they take advantage of this knowledge and make their lives successful? That is my proposal. We are spreading this Krsna consciousness movement only for this purpose. These people are missing the point and unnecessarily wasting their lives in illusion. So we are trying to save them—that is our Krsna consciousness movement.
A look at the worldwide activities of the
66 Million Books Now In Print
Just-released Bhaktivedanta Book Trust figures (for the period October 1966 to March 1978) show that Srila Prabhupada's translations of India's Vedic literatures now appear in some twenty-seven languages and have gone well over the sixty-six-million mark:
LanguageBooks in Print
4. French 2,425,000
ISKCON Food Relief Gets Government Support
Recently Jayapataka Svami, the All-India Coordinator of ISKCON Food Relief, announced that large-scale food distribution is going on steadily at five ISKCON centers—Mayapur and Haridaspur (province of West Bengal), Bhuvanesvara and Bhadrak (province of Orissa), and Hyderabad (province of Andhra Pradesh).
After meeting in New Delhi with two of the Indian government's secretaries of agriculture, Sri A. Das and Sri S. P. Mukherjee, Jayapataka Svami reported that both men were favorably impressed with ISKCON Food Reliefs work in India. Mr. Das and Mr. Mukherjee promised that the Indian government would help ISKCON import grains, butter, oil, and powdered milk from nations with food surpluses. Jayapataka Svami said the secretaries would like to see ISKCON expand its food relief and welfare activities in India.
ISKCON Food Relief has its roots in ancient India's Vedic culture. For thousands of years, devotees have offered large quantities of food to Krsna's Deity form and then distributed the food as prasada, "the Lord's mercy."
Economist Says ISKCON Farms Are "A New Direction"
One of India's leading economists is now asking his government to look to ISKCON's farm communities for "a new direction in rural development."
Mr. Kotiswaran Jayaraman, who served for ten years as a director of the national Rural Community Development Program, made his suggestion in Bombay's Financial Express (the Indian equivalent of the Wall Street Journal). In a series of articles entitled "Rural Development: the ISKCON Way," Mr. Jayaraman said, "Mayapur in West Bengal and New Naimisaranya near Hyderabad are outstanding examples of ISKCON's growing farm communities in India with an immense potential for giving new direction to rural development in the country as a whole."
The former director of rural community development explained that ISKCON's farms offer a positive alternative to the artificial economy of the cities, and that they enable people to live peacefully and happily while pursuing spiritual life. Mr. Jayaraman urged government rural development agencies to cooperate with, or even follow outright, ISKCON's successful program of "simple living and high thinking." Finally, he called on India's educated young men and women to come forward and organize an ISKCON-style program for the whole country.
ISKCON started its farm projects seven years ago in Mayapur, West Bengal. The Mayapur community now includes agricultural and dairy farms, cottage industries, a school, a medical dispensary, and a free food distribution center that feeds two thousand people twice weekly. The New Naimisaranya farm near Hyderabad has 565 acres, an irrigation network, and 250 dairy cows. Community residents spend part of their day cultivating crops and the rest cultivating self-realization and God consciousness.
A report from the birthplace of the Hare Krsna movement.
by Mandalesvara dasa
On a verdant stretch along the bank of the Ganges, in India's province of West Bengal, lies the village of Mayapur. As history shows, Mayapur has long been a center for spiritual understanding and culture. Here, in 1486, Sri Krsna Caitanya appeared. Some four and one-half thousand years earlier, the Vedic literatures had predicted Lord Caitanya's appearance, described Him as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and pointed out that the land of His birth and pastimes is imbued with His own sublime spiritual qualities.
More recently, about a hundred years ago, the great spiritual master Bhaktivinoda Thakura predicted that one day people from all over the world would come to Mayapur and join together, singing jaya sacinandana! jaya sacinandana! "All glories to Lord Caitanya, the son of Saci!" Through the efforts of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, that prediction is fulfilled each year: ISKCON devotees from thirty countries meet in Mayapur to glorify Lord Caitanya on His appearance day.
Fifty years ago, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura (the son of Bhaktivinoda Thakura and spiritual master of Srila Prabhupada) envisioned a great spiritual city at Mayapur with many temples and thousands of devotees, all focused on the Krsna conscious ideal. Thanks again to Srila Prabhupada, the dream of a spiritual city is now coming true.
In 1971 Srila Prabhupada asked two of his senior disciples, Jayapataka Svami and Bhavananda Gosvami, to take charge of developing the Mayapur project. Jayapataka Svami relates how it all began....
"His Divine Grace asked me to come to India in 1970. At that time there weren't many other Godbrothers from the West who were staying in India; I think Acyutananda Svami was there, and maybe five or six others. No sooner did I get to India than Srila Prabhupada said he wanted to purchase land in Mayapur, the birthplace of Lord Caitanya. So a few of us came here and began looking over the open fields and trying to find a farmer who would sell us a plot of land. That was our first business—to get land—and then we had to build a place to Stay. Srila Prabhupada had said, 'If you don't have a place to sit, you won't have the proper perspective, but if you have a place to sit, then you can arrange everything.' So we got our first piece of land, and Acyutananda Svami built a grass hut. By the end of 1971, I started living permanently in Mayapur."
"It was our first piece of land here in Mayapur," Bhavananda Gosvami explains. "It was only about three and one-half acres—just a narrow strip—but Srila Prabhupada had plans to develop every foot of it. He was designing a whole complex. He wanted us to get more land and eventually build a huge temple surrounded by four buildings one thousand feet long."
The first step was to construct a four-story guesthouse. Of course, for a handful of devotees ninety miles from Calcutta, constructing a four-story building in the middle of the rice fields of West Bengal was a difficult task.
Bhavananda Gosvami relates, "I used to travel back and forth between Mayapur and Calcutta, bringing building materials by train and bus about twice a week. Sometimes I'd have to ride on the top of the bus with bales of wire. We had no car. At first there wasn't even any electricity. And none of us knew anything about construction. I'd never even thought of constructing a building. I used to be a textile designer and in the movie business. What did I know about constructing such a big building?
"I remember, one afternoon, walking on the property with Tamala Krsna Gosvami, who at that time was Srila Prabhupada's coordinator for all our projects in India. He said, 'Well, I don't know how to build a building, but I'm determined that somehow we can do it.' Srila Prabhupada had been saying, 'Why are you making this construction into something difficult? It's only a pile of bricks. Employ men for piling up the bricks, and you sit there and supervise—finished.' So we all became very determined, and Tamala Krsna said, 'Let's try it.' We got some men, and we measured out an area. Tamala Krsna was walking around and directing—'You do this, you do that.'
"Finally, we erected a little brick building. Srila Prabhupada was very pleased. It was completely in the wrong place—but at least we had made a start. From then on Srila Prabhupada directed us. But we had to act. As soon as we endeavored, then we could see things more and more clearly. The more we did, the clearer everything became—clear enough so that we could see our mistakes and correct them. Better you make a mistake than do nothing at all."
"We hired a labor contractor and local villagers," Jayapataka Svami explains, "and we had our own engineers supervise. Meanwhile, we purchased all the materials ourselves, which often meant transporting them from Calcutta. So our first year's work here was to constantly purchase materials and supervise the construction."
Prior to the completion of the first building, Srila Prabhupada came to Mayapur. "Since the building was still unfinished," Jayapataka says, "Srila Prabhupada moved into the grass hut. At that time Srila Prabhupada commented, 'For spiritual life, living in a grass hut is very conducive. For our own spiritual advancement we do not require big buildings. This grass hut is in the mode of goodness, but modern technology is in the mode of passion. For our own spiritual life, the mode of goodness is more important.'
"So why were we working so hard to erect such a large, modern building? The reason is, Srila Prabhupada wanted to make it very simple for anyone from any part of the world to visit the holy land of Sri Mayapur, chant Hare Krsna, meditate on his relationship with the Supreme Lord, and taste the nectar of spiritual life. So to offer the world the transcendental mercy of Lord Caitanya, we had to have these buildings."
This is an important idea. A Krsna conscious person should not reject material things that help his spiritual development or the spiritual development of others. It is better to utilize wealth in the service of the Lord. Bhavananda Gosvami explains it in this way....
"When I first came here', no one was visiting Mayapur. Such an important place of pilgrimage—yet no one was coming! Then, Srila Prabhupada gave us instructions to construct this big building costing millions of rupees. And he kept saying how it would accommodate thousands of people. All I saw was rice fields; I was puzzled—where were the thousands of people? But as the project developed, more and more visitors came to see us, to take prasada [spiritual food], and to offer respects to the Deities of Lord Caitanya and Radha-Madhava. And the festivals—at our last festival we fed nearly fifteen thousand people in one day! The more we develop this project, the more the people want to come here. If we had simply stayed in that hut and kept to ourselves, no one would have come and no one would have benefited."
A Charming Culture
The citizens of West Bengal are inspired to see people from all over the world following India's original Krsna conscious culture and coming to taste the nectar of Krsna consciousness for themselves. The Bengali devotees take this as a source of personal pride.
"In a word," says Bhavananda Gosvami, "they're charmed. The people of India are now looking to the highly materialistic, technologically advanced countries like America. But when they see that the Americans and Europeans are coming here to learn India's spiritual culture, they are completely charmed. To these people it is a great compliment—'These Westerners are taking up our culture.' You hear it all the time: 'They're taking up our culture—and we're giving it up to follow the Western countries?' They stop and think. They are completely charmed that we're following this Krsna conscious culture, and they start turning their heads back to their own heritage. In this way, Srila Prabhupada is preserving India's real treasure. Actually, India is the last stronghold of spiritual culture in the world."
It is not that Krsna consciousness is something Indian. Actually, Krsna consciousness transcends the boundaries of East and West.
"In the Vedic literatures," explains Jayapataka Svami, "Lord Krsna is compared to the sun—and the sun is neither Indian nor Western. If the sun appears over my head and I'm in India, I can't claim that the sun is Indian. The sun is in such a superior position that it can't be limited like that. In the same way, Lord Krsna is in everyone's heart, so Krsna consciousness is universal. It's meant to be practiced all over the world, not simply in India. Our consciousness is now impure, and we think 'I'm Indian' or 'I'm American.' But when our consciousness is purified, it is called Krsna consciousness—'I am a servant of Krsna.' So anyone can live or teach this culture anywhere in the world. It's meant for everyone."
In a Krsna conscious cultural setting, society works smoothly with four natural divisions: brahmanas, ksatriyas, vaisyas, and sudras. The brahmanas give direction, education, and spiritual knowledge. The ksatriyas govern and give protection to the other classes. The vaisyas produce food and raise and protect the cows. And the sudras give assistance to the three higher classes. This social division is not a hereditary caste system. The Vedic literatures recommend that each individual's role in society be based on his qualifications, not on the family in which he was born. The Mayapur community holds true to this original Vedic standard, and each individual adopts the occupation for which he is most naturally suited. It is not a matter of heredity, but of propensity. Following this system keeps the social body in proper working order. We know that even in our own bodies the head directs, the arms defend, the belly sustains, and the legs give menial service. And the social body has the same kind of natural divisions: the brahmanas function as the head, the ksatriyas as the arms, the vaisyas as the belly, and the sudras as the legs.
"In our community at present," says Jayapataka Svami, "you'll see the seedlings or beginning stages of the four basic social divisions. We have primary and secondary education for about a hundred full-time resident students. We have a dairy, agricultural fields, and orchards. We have a handloom center that engages about fifty resident workers. Cooks, priests, teachers, students, administrators, farmers—gradually we're developing every occupational division of our society."
Clearly, the Mayapur community differs vastly from most others—especially in the planning and organization behind it. This community engages everyone in his natural occupation, with Krsna as the center. Whatever occupation you perform, you can do it in a spirit of devotion to the Lord and in a Krsna conscious atmosphere. There will be no slaughterhouses and no brothels, nightclubs, or gambling casinos. These things simply destroy the finer sentiments of the human being.
"We have industries," says Jayapataka Svami, "but they're small-scale cottage industries that can be run without big factories, pollution, and hellish working conditions. In our Mayapur-candrodaya community, the residents work under very pleasant conditions, with beautiful natural scenery, trees, parks, lakes, and the chanting of Hare Krsna."
"The atmosphere here is conducive to spiritual life," explains Bhavananda Gosvami, "and everyone can work according to his natural propensity. That's because, despite centuries of foreign rule and today's materialistic trend, the Bengalis still respect Vedic culture. Here the people are pious. This is a place to begin showing the world a perfect Krsna conscious society."
Relief for the Hungry
For thousands of families in the Mayapur area, hunger remains a problem. Over the past twenty-five years, huge numbers have migrated to the area from nearby Bangladesh.
Naturally, one vital and popular function of the Mayapur-candrodaya community has been free distribution of food—not just "food," actually, but prasada—vegetarian food cooked with devotion and offered to Lord Krsna. By accepting prasada, one not only satisfies his hunger but also makes spiritual progress. Of course, hunger is only one kind of suffering to which man is heir. We all encounter many miseries in life, and their root cause is our past sinful acts. But by accepting prasada, food offered to the Lord, we are freed not only from our hunger but also from the suffering that was awaiting us due to our karma. This is the great benefit of distributing or accepting prasada
Jayapataka Svami was in Mayapur at the time Srila Prabhupada decided to institute the ISKCON Food Relief program.
"I remember the day right after we moved into our first building," Jayapataka says. "Srila Prabhupada was in his room on the second floor. We'd had a big feast that day for several hundred guests. After the feast the banana leaf plates were thrown, as usual, into a garbage pit near the main building. After a while we heard some commotion, and Srila Prabhupada looked out the window. Outside he saw a group of village children picking through the garbage pit and eating the morsels of food that were left sticking to the plates. Srila Prabhupada's eyes became filled with tears. He said, 'How very hungry these people are—they are going to such trouble just to get some scraps of food! This is the house of God, the house of Krsna—so everyone who comes here to their Father's house should be provided with a meal.'
"So that's when we started ISKCON Food Relief. ISKCON temples from all over the world came forward with donations to begin the food relief program. That was also when we decided to build our large dining pavilion for feeding fifteen hundred people at a time.
"Our mass prasada distribution program has been going on ever since. We feed about twenty thousand people in an average month, and on special occasions like the appearance day celebration of Lord Caitanya, we feed as many as fifteen thousand people in a day.
"Last year the CARE organization and the West Bengal Council for Child Welfare (of which we're a corporate member) helped us to expand our program. With food provided by CARE, we can feed an additional 1,850 mothers and children."
Books Are the Basis
Srila Prabhupada's disciples are establishing Krsna conscious culture not only within their own community but also throughout West Bengal and all of India. The ISKCON devotees man a fleet of four minibuses and one boat and travel throughout the state to hold public meetings and distribute literature on the science of Krsna consciousness. The Eastern India division of the International Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, with offices at ISKCON's Mayapur center, prints Bengali and Hindi translations of the Vedic literatures and a monthly magazine entitled Bhagavat-darsana. Srila Prabhupada's Bengali version of the Bhagavad-gita is especially popular and is fast becoming a classroom text in the primary schools.
Distribution manager Pancaratna dasa comments on book distribution in West Bengal: "The people here respect Srila Prabhupada's books. Recently I was in Calcutta, and I was surprised to see that everywhere I went, people approached me for books: 'You have books? Where is your temple? Can I get books there?' They know what these books are, and they respect them."
Soon after a van of book distributors travels to a new area, the mail starts coming in to Pancaratna, in Mayapur. "We can trace the town-to-town course of any team of book distributors," he says, "simply by the mail we receive that week. People write to ask for subscriptions to our Bengali magazine. Or they want to write articles or ask for more books. And often they travel here to see us. In the past two weeks seventeen young Bengali men have joined our community. And they all come with Srila Prabhupada's books in their hands."
The natural respect for the ancient Krsna conscious culture reawakens in the hearts of India's people when they read Srila Prabhupada's books. So Bhagavad-gita distribution is as important as developing the city. The two programs complement each other.
The devotees also spread the Krsna conscious message by boat. In West Bengal many thousands of villagers can be reached more easily that way. On Nitai-pada-kamala, a fifty-foot sloop, the devotees travel to these interior villages, distribute prasada and Vedic literature, and chant Hare Krsna.
The devotees are seeing the people of India express their devotion for Lord Krsna more and more. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu predicted that people all over the world would reawaken to their natural Krsna consciousness. And He especially requested that everyone born in India first make his life perfect and then help spread Krsna conscious culture worldwide. The Lord's mission is within the heart of everyone in the Mayapur-candrodaya community.
The Transcendental Pastimes of Lord Krsna
"The whirlwind demon intended to take Krsna up in the sky and kill Him, but Krsna was simply enjoying the ride...."
by Drutakarma dasa
When Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, came to this earth five thousand years ago, He played as a cowherd boy in the north Indian village of Vrndavana. To please the great souls who appeared as His boyfriends and girl friends and His father and mother. He displayed many wonderful pastimes. In India most people are familiar with Krsna's activities, and traditionally they celebrate them through music, dance, drama, and literature. In Bhagavad-gita the Lord assures us that anyone who meditates on these pastimes can rejoin Him as one of His eternal companions in the spiritual world
When Krsna was a mere infant, He killed the witch Putana, who had tried to make Him suck her poison-smeared breast (See BTG 12/3). As we'll see in this issue, soon afterward Krsna foiled Sakatasura (the cart demon), and when He was barely one year old He killed the Trnavartasura (the whirlwind demon).
Just after baby Krsna turned three months old. His mother Yasoda noticed that He was slanting His body in an attempt to rise and turn around. To celebrate this auspicious sign, she arranged to observe the Vedic ceremony called utthana, a bathing ritual performed when a child is due to leave the house for the first time. So mother Yasoda called together the neighborhood women to assist her. Brahmana priests also came, and they chanted Vedic hymns while bands of musicians played instruments and sang.
During the ceremony mother Yasoda saw that baby Krsna was falling asleep, and she placed Him in a cradle underneath a household cart. While the child slept, mother Yasoda became absorbed in receiving guests, garlanding them with flowers, and offering them presents. When Krsna awoke. He began crying for His mother. He wanted to drink the milk from her breast. But mother Yasoda was busy elsewhere and could not hear Him. All of a sudden, Krsna threw His legs upward and struck the cart. Although His legs were tiny and very soft, the cart turned over violently and collapsed. The wheels separated from the axle, the hubs and spokes fell apart, and the pole of the handcart broke. On the cart were many utensils made of various metals, and all of them scattered hither and thither.
When mother Yasoda, her husband Nanda Maharaja, and all their guests saw the situation, they began to wonder aloud: "Is this the work of some demon or evil planet?" Then the small children present said, "As soon as baby Krsna kicked the cart's wheel, the cart collapsed. There is no doubt about it." But the adults could not believe that little Krsna had such inconceivable power.
Mother Yasoda called for the brahmana priests and had them chant mantras to counteract the influence of the bad planet she believed to be the cause of the accident. Meanwhile the stout, strong cowherd men put the pots and other utensils back on the cart and set it up as before. Then Krsna's father Nanda Maharaja took his child on his lap and bathed Him with water mixed with pure herbs.
Actually, the cart had been haunted by the ghostly demon Sakatasura. Since he was without a body of his own, the ghost had taken shelter of the handcart and had been waiting for a chance to do some mischief to Krsna. But when Krsna kicked the haunted cart with His small, delicate legs, Sakatasura was immediately pushed down to the ground and killed. An ordinary infant would not have been able to do such a thing, but Krsna was more than able, because He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Also, when the cart collapsed, an ordinary child would surely have been injured, but Krsna came out unhurt—in fact. He thoroughly enjoyed the whole episode.
Not long afterward, when Krsna was a year old, mother Yasoda was playing with Him on her lap. Sometimes a mother lifts her child, and when the child falls in her hands, the child laughs, and the mother also enjoys pleasure. Yasoda was doing this, but suddenly she felt Krsna to be heavier than a mountain peak, and she could no longer bear His weight. Krsna had exercised His inconceivable potencies and had mystically assumed the weight of the universe. It seems that Krsna was aware that the whirlwind demon Trnavarta was coming to take Him away. Not wanting His mother to suffer any difficulty from the demon. He became so heavy that she had to put Him down.
But mother Yasoda couldn't understand what was really happening. She called the brahmana priests to chant hymns for her son's safety. Then, while Krsna was sitting on the ground, the Trnavarta demon came as a whirlwind and very easily carried Him into the air. This was another demonstration of Krsna's mystic potencies. One moment He had become heavier than the whole universe, so that His mother would have to set Him down, and the next moment He became lighter than a piece of grass, so that Trnavarta could carry Him away. This was all ananda-cinmaya-rasa—Krsna's blissful, transcendental pleasure.
Covering the whole land with clouds of dust, the demon obscured everyone's vision and began vibrating everywhere with a fearful sound. For a moment the whole pasturing ground was overcast with dense darkness from the dust storm. Mother Yasoda could not find her son, nor could she understand why. She fell down on the ground like a cow who has lost her calf, and she began to lament very pitifully. When the force of the dust storm subsided, Yasoda's friends approached her. Not seeing Krsna, they joined mother Yasoda in crying.
Meanwhile, by his mystic power the whirlwind demon was carrying Krsna high into the sky. But then Krsna suddenly became much heavier, and the demon had to stop in midair. Krsna was challenging Trnavarta to a competition in yogic power, and Trnavarta was doomed to lose, because Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Unfortunately, even today many so-called yogis and babas present themselves as greater than God by showing some insignificant mystic wonder before foolish people who have no knowledge of Krsna.
Trnavarta intended to take Krsna up in the sky and kill Him, but Krsna was simply enjoying the ride. Now Trnavarta was falling because of Krsna's heaviness, and he wanted to save himself by throwing Krsna off from his neck. But he was unable to do so, because Krsna was grasping him by the throat. Unable to make a sound or even move his hands and legs, Trnavarta choked and his eyes popped out. The demon lost his life and fell, along with little Krsna, down to the ground.
While the women who had gathered were crying for Krsna, the demon fell from the sky onto a big slab of stone, smashing and dislocating all his limbs. The astonished cowherd women saw that Krsna was uninjured and free from misfortune and was playing on the demon's chest very happily. They immediately picked Him up and brought Him back to mother Yasoda. She and Nanda Maharaja and all the inhabitants of Vrndavana were overjoyed.
For thousands of years, sages have meditated upon these pastimes with great pleasure. It is said that both Krsna and those who enjoy Krsna's pastimes are ananda-cinmaya-rasa—always free from unhappiness and full of transcendental bliss.
"Riding the Whirlwind Demon" was adapted from Srimad-Bhagavatam, translation and commentary by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
God, Karma, and the World
Do you remember 1968—when churches offered "sanctuary" to draft resisters? I was in Boston at that time, and there it was big news for a while, part of the protest against the Vietnam War. Every few days you'd see in the headlines that yet another young man was telling the government "I won't go!" by going into a church. The church officials would refuse to allow federal authorities to enter and arrest him, and for a few days the tension would mount. People would throng to the church to hold mass meetings and voice their Christian antiwar sentiments, and at last federal police would move in and, after a scuffle, take the man away.
As a member of the Boston center of the Hare Krsna movement, I attended one such meeting at Boston University's campus chapel. Despite government threats, the protesters were sheltering a draft resister and holding a twenty-four-hour public prayer meeting. The church was crowded and noisy. Several people in the audience carried large signs with political slogans or verses from the Bible. I had hoped to speak about Krsna consciousness, but I couldn't break through the crowd of politicians, ministers, and monitors surrounding the pulpit. Speaker after speaker denounced the imminent invasion of the church by federal agents. A minister quoted verses and explained Christian duty. A little bewildered by the intense mixture of political rhetoric and Biblical quotes, and unsure what was the proper course of action for me, I returned to our center and wrote a query to our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. His reply (dated October 9, 1968) arrived a few days later. I have always considered Srila Prabhupada's analysis of the "sanctuary" situation a perfect response by a fully God conscious person. It showed me how to react not just to that political struggle but to the many others since then.
Now, ten years later, the "sanctuary" protest is all but forgotten. There are new political struggles, new allies and enemies. But I think Srila Prabhupada's analysis is still the devastating truth. Unfortunately, the world's leaders are not listening to his advice. Most political and military leaders are completely unaware of the laws of karma—action-and-reaction—that Srila Prabhupada and the Vedic literatures describe. But they should know that such laws actually exist—as surely as they know of nature's other unbreakable laws.
Karma is a strict, intricate mechanism, a natural phenomenon by which every human action brings about a fitting reaction. This "As ye sow, so shall ye reap" law is as much a part of the universal design as the law of gravity—"What goes up must come down." Individually, one's previous karma (pious or impious actions) determines one's present physical and mental condition, and at the time of death the accumulated karma of one's present lifetime will determine the condition of one's next lifetime. Karma is also working collectively: young men are going to die for their country because of sinful acts performed by themselves and their countrymen. Each and every person is thus affected by the complex interaction of karma.
When millions of cows or millions of human embryos are slaughtered, the killers and their accomplices have to bear the karmic reaction. All the world's major religions consider not only killing but also intoxication and sex outside marriage to be immoral. This is the code of the Supreme, and disobedience to this code must have its effects. An ordinary man may not know how or when he will suffer the karmic reaction, but that has no bearing on the fact that he will. Why should we think that overwhelmingly powerful material nature will not act on us, when we experience that breaking even the state laws brings us a bad reaction? Although in the present age we're extremely enamored of scientific explanations, even the most educated men have scarcely looked into this science of action and reaction. Individually and collectively, we go on committing the same crimes millions of times. The karmic toll mounts, and we pay it—through natural disaster, war, and death.
Why don't the leaders take the Vedic literature's good advice and learn how they and the rest of us can live our lives free from karma? Despite our adroit international diplomacy, the world's nuclear stockpiles grow larger and more deadly. We're told the superpowers will never use their nuclear weapons, but by the inevitable law of karma we know they must be used. Yet just as karma and suffering are always at hand, so also the solution is always at hand. Now we are condemned for our acts against the codes of the Supreme. But we can change our actions and thus avoid the reactions.
As Srila Prabhupada pointed out in his letter, today's critical situation is not the fault of one sectarian party or another. All are at fault—capitalists, communists, "the establishment," "the people"—whoever breaks the law of God. Everyone is committing sinful acts. Even the sectarian religionists commit them. So the world needs truly saintly leadership—leaders who have genuine knowledge of God's law of karma and can show the rest of us how to perform naiskarma (actions that don't bring about material reactions).
There is no point in wishfully talking of peace and morality until one first agrees to hear the whole course of education. First, we have to learn that the material world is working under the direction of the Supreme Spirit and that disregarding His codes always leads to disaster. All these things come to light in the Bhagavad-gita, the original treatise on God, karma, and the world. As the Gita points out, adherence to morality cannot be attained just by mundane impetus. Morality and peace will come naturally to us only when we become Krsna conscious and awaken to the higher taste of spiritual pleasure.—SDG