From The Life Of Queen Kunti
The Vedic literatures give us knowledge that
by His Divine Grace Ac. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
During a strife-filled era in ancient India Queen Kunti and her sons had to undergo many hardships. Their enemies drove them out of their kingdom, tried to poison them and trapped them in a burning house Yet Lord Krsna always saved them, and Queen Kunti's devotion to Him grew stronger and stronger.
vipadah santu tah sasvat
Queen Kunti said: "I wish that all those calamities would happen again and again so that we could see You again and again, for seeing You means that we will no longer see repeated births and deaths." [Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.25]
This material world is certified by the Lord in the Bhagavad-gita as a dangerous place full of calamities. Less intelligent persons prepare plans to adjust to those calamities not knowing that the nature of this place is to be full of calamities. They have no information of the abode of the Lord, which is full of bliss and without trace of calamity.
The duty of the sane person, therefore, is to be undisturbed by worldly calamities, which are sure to happen in all circumstances. Suffering all sorts of unavoidable misfortunes, one should make progress in spiritual realization, because that is the mission of human life.
Sea of Danger
The spirit soul is transcendental to all material calamities; therefore, the so-called calamities are called false. A man may see a tiger swallowing him in a dream, and he may cry for this calamity.
Actually there is no tiger and there is no suffering; it is simply a case of dreams. In the same way, all calamities of life are said to be dreams. If someone is lucky enough to get in contact with the Lord by devotional service, it is all gain. Contact with the Lord by any one of the nine devotional services is always a forward step on the path going back to Godhead.
In this very interesting verse, it is described that vipadah—calamities or dangers-are very good if such dangers and calamities remind us of Krsna. There must be dangers, because this material world is full of dangers. But foolish people who do not know this try to avoid the dangers. Thus they struggle for existence. Everyone is trying to become happy and avoid danger. This is our material business. Everyone is trying for atyantika-sukha, ultimate happiness. A working man thinks, "Let me work very hard now and put money in the bank, so that when I get old I shall enjoy life without working." This is the inner intention of everyone. No one wants to work; as soon as one gets some money, he wants to retire from work and become happy. But that is not possible. One cannot become happy in that way.
Here Kuntidevi speaks of apunar bhava-darsanam. The prefix a means "not," and punar bhava means "repetition of birth and death." The real danger is the repetition of birth and death. That must be stopped.
The material world is full of dangers (padam padam yad vipadam). For example, if one is on the ocean one may have a very strong ship, but that ship can never be safe; because one is at sea, at any time there may be dangers. The Titanic was safe, but on its first voyage it sank, and many important men lost their lives. So danger there must be, because we are in a dangerous position. This material world itself is dangerous.
Therefore, our business now should be to cross over this sea of danger as soon as possible. As long as we are at sea, we are in a dangerous position, however strong our ship may be. That's a fact. But we should not be disturbed by the sea waves; instead, we should just try to cross over the sea and get to the other side. That should be our business.
As long as we are in this material world there must be calamities, because this is the place of calamity. But even with calamities our business should be to develop our Krsna consciousness, so that after giving up this body we may go back home, back to Krsna.
A Pleasant Prescription
On the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, Arjuna said to Krsna, "Whatever You are saying is all right. I am not this body. I am a soul, and this is also true of everyone else. So when the body is annihilated, the soul will continue to exist. But when I see that my son is dying or my grandfather is dying and that I am killing, how can I be solaced simply by knowing that they are not dying, but that only their bodies are changing? I am accustomed to thinking of them with affection in terms of the body, and so there must be grief and suffering."
Krsna did not deny what Arjuna said. "Yes," He replied. "That's a fact. Because you are in the bodily concept of life, there must be suffering. So you must tolerate it, that's all. There is no other remedy." As mentioned in Bhagavad-gita [2.14], Lord Krsna told Arjuna:
matra-sparsas tu kaunteya
"O son of Kunti, the nonpermanent appearance of heat and cold, happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, O scion of Bharata, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed."
In America it may sometimes be very chilly in the morning, and that may make taking one's morning bath a little difficult. But does that mean that those who are devotees will stop taking their prescribed morning bath? No. Even if it is chilly, they must take this regular bath. The duty must be done, even if there is a little suffering involved. That is called tapasya, or austerity. Tapasya means that we must proceed with our business of Krsna consciousness despite all the dangers and calamities of this world. This is called tapasya, or voluntary acceptance of the difficulties of life.
Sometimes those who have undertaken strict vows of tapasya will ignite a ring of fire all around themselves, and in the scorching heat of the sun in the hot summer they will sit down in the midst of that fire and meditate. Similarly, in the chilly cold of winter they will immerse themselves in water up to the neck and meditate. Such vows are prescribed in strict systems of tapasya.
But Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu does not give us such a prescription. Instead, He gives us a very nice program: chant, dance, and take prasada, food offered to Lord Krsna. But still we are unwilling. We are so fallen that we cannot accept even this tapasya. Although this kind of tapasya is very easy to perform and very pleasant (susukham kartum avyayam), still we are not agreeable. We may even prefer to rot in the street. Some people prefer to drink and have sex and live in the street. So what can be done?
The Farthest and the Nearest
The Krsna consciousness movement is giving all facilities so that people may come here, chant, dance, live very peacefully, take krsna-prasada, and be happy—but people will not accept it. That is called misfortune. Caitanya Mahaprabhu, portraying the people of this age, therefore said, "I am so unfortunate that I have no attachment for chanting Hare Krsna." He also prayed:
namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-saktis
Krsna, the transcendental holy name of God, has all potencies, Lord Caitanya said. Krsna has unlimited potencies, and similarly in the holy name of Krsna there are unlimited potencies. Krsna has thousands and thousands of names, of which the name Krsna is the chief, and there are no hard and fast rules for chanting. It is not that one must chant at a certain time. No. At any time one may chant. Furthermore, Krsna's name is identical with Krsna Himself. Therefore the holy name of Krsna is Krsna.
We should not think that Krsna is living in His abode, Goloka Vrndavana, and that His name is different from Him. Of course, in the material world, in the material conception, a name is different from the fact it represents. But in the absolute world there are no such differences. The name is as potent as Krsna is. We have a tongue, and if we use this tongue to chant Hare Krsna, we will immediately come directly in touch with Krsna, because the name Krsna and the person Krsna are not different. We may think that Krsna is far, far away, but in fact Krsna is within us. He is far away, but at the same time He is the nearest. But even if we think that Krsna is far, far away, His name is present. We can chant Hare Krsna, and Krsna will immediately become available. Krsna is available in this easy way, for which there are no hard and fast rules. We can chant at any time and immediately get Krsna. Just see the mercy of Krsna!
Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu says, etadrsi tava krpa bhagavan mamapi durdaivam idrsam ihajani nanuragah: "My dear Lord, You have given me such generous facilities by which to contact You, but I am so unfortunate that I have no attachment for these things. I have attachment for so many other things, but I have no attachment for chanting Hare Krsna. This is my misfortune." Krsna is so magnanimous that He is present before us by the transcendental vibration of His name, which has all the potencies of Krsna Himself, and if we remain in contact with that name, we will get all the benefits of Krsna's benedictions. But still we are not inclined to chant the Hare Krsna mantra. This is our misfortune.
A devotee, however, is never disturbed by dangers, reverses, or calamities. Rather, he welcomes them. Because he is a surrendered soul, he knows that both dangers and festivals are but different demonstrations of Krsna, who is absolute. In the sastra, the Vedic literature, it is said that religion and irreligion, which are complete opposites, are merely the front portion and the bad portion of God. But is there any difference between God's front and God back? God is absolute, and therefore devotee, either in opulence or in danger is undisturbed, knowing that both of these are Krsna.
When a devotee is in danger, he thinks, "Now Krsna has appeared before me as danger.'' In His form a Nrsimhadeva, the Lord was dangerous. to the demon Hiranyakasipu, but the same Nrsimhadeva was the supreme friend to the devoted Prahlada Maharaja. God is never dangerous to the devotee, and the devotee is never afraid of dangers, because he is confident that the danger is but another feature of God "Why should I be afraid?" the devotee thinks. "I am surrendered to Him."
So Kuntidevi says, vipadah santu: "Let there be calamities." Vipadah santu tah sasvat "Let all those calamities happen again and again." Because she know' how to remember Krsna at times of danger, she is welcoming danger. "My dear Lord," she says, "I welcome dangers, because when dangers come I can remember You." When Prahlada Maharaja's father was putting him into dangerous predicaments, Prahlada was always thinking of Krsna.
So if we are put into a dangerous position and that danger gives us an impetus. to remember Krsna, that is welcome: "Oh, I am getting this opportunity to remember Krsna.'' Why is this welcome? It is welcome because seeing Krsna or remembering Krsna means advancing in spiritual life, so that we will not have to suffer any more of the dangers. Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so 'rjuna. If one become advanced in Krsna consciousness, the result will be that after giving up the body (tyaktva deham) one will not have to take birth again in this material world (punar janma naiti). This is to be desired.
Suppose I am very comfortable at the present moment. My body may be comfortable, but there will be death, and then another birth. After giving up my present body, if I get the body of a cat or a dog, what is the meaning of my comfortable position? Death is sure, and after death one must surely accept another body. We may not know what kind of body we will get, but we can know from the sastra, the Vedic literature. The sastra says that according to our particular mentality, we will get a particular kind of body. Although I may le in a comfortable position, if I keep myself in the mentality of a dog, I shall get my next life as a dog.
Philosophy of Hedonism
Therefore, what is the value of this comfortable position? I may be in a comfortable position for twenty years, thirty years, fifty years, or at the utmost one hundred years. Yet if, when I give up this body, my mentality causes me to become a cat, a dog, or a mouse, what is the benefit of this comfortable position? But people do not consider this. They think, especially in the present age, "I am now in a comfortable position. I have enough money and a good estate. I have ample comforts and enough food. When this body is finished, I am not going to take birth again, so as long as I am living, let me enjoy life." This is the modern philosophy of hedonism, but it does not correspond to the facts.
Kunti, however, is aware of birth and death, and she is anxious not to repeat this process. This is indicated by the words apunar bhava-darsanam. If one always sees Krsna, one is in Krsna consciousness, for Krsna consciousness means always thinking of Krsna. One's consciousness should be absorbed in Krsna thought.
Therefore, the spiritual master gives different varieties of engagements to devotees in Krsna consciousness. For example, under the direction of the spiritual master the devotees may sell books in Krsna consciousness. But if the devotees think that the energy invested in selling books should be diverted into selling jewelry, that is not a very good idea. Then they would become nothing more than jewelers. We should be very careful not to be diverted from Krsna consciousness.
A Cut on the Finger
Even if there is danger or suffering in Krsna consciousness, we should tolerate it. We should even welcome such danger, and we should pray in appreciation to Krsna.
How should we pray? Tat te 'nukampam susamiksamanah: "My dear Lord, it is Your great mercy that I have been put into this dangerous position." That is the viewpoint of a devotee. He doesn't regard danger as danger. Rather, he thinks, "It is Krsna's mercy." What kind of mercy? Bhunjana evatma-krtam vipakam: "Because of my past activities, I was meant to suffer very much. But You are mitigating that suffering and giving me only a little." In other words, by the grace of Krsna a devotee may receive only token punishment.
In court, an important man is sometimes found to be a culprit, and the judge may be able to fine him a hundred thousand dollars and know that the man can pay it. But he may tell the man, "You just give one cent." That is also punishment, but it is greatly minimized. Similarly, we have to suffer for our past deeds. That is a fact, and we cannot avoid it. But karmani nirdahati kintu ca bhakti-bhajam: the sufferings of those who engage in devotional service in Krsna consciousness are minimized.
For example, one may have been destined to be killed with a knife, but instead of being killed, he may instead get some little cut on his finger. In this way, for those who engage in devotional service, the reactions of past activities are minimized. Lord Krsna assures His devotees, aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami: "I shall give you protection from the reactions of sinful life." So even if a devotee has a history of very grievous criminal activities behind him, instead of being killed he may only get a little cut on his finger. Why, then, should a devotee fear danger?
We should simply depend on Krsna consciousness, because if we live Krsna consciously under all circumstances, we shall not return to this material world (apunar bhava-darsanam). If we repeatedly think of Krsna, see Krsna, read of Krsna, work for Krsna, and somehow or other remain in Krsna consciousness, we benefit in such a way that we shall be saved from taking birth again in the material world. That is true benefit.
But if we become a little comfortable because of other, materialistic engagements and we forget Krsna and have to take birth again, then what is our benefit? We should be very careful about this. We should act in such a way that our Krsna consciousness can under no circumstances be disturbed, even if there is heavy suffering. That is the instruction of Kuntidevi.
Before winning the Battle of Kuruksetra, the Pandavas were put into many dangers, as described in the previous verses. They were given poison, they were put into a house of lac that was later set afire, and they were even confronted with great man-eating demons. They lost their kingdom, they lost their wife, they lost their prestige, and they were exiled to the forest.
We Must Have Firm Faith
Therefore, when the Pandavas went to see their grandfather Bhismadeva on his deathbed, Bhismadeva began to cry. "These boys, my grandsons, are all very pious," he said. "Maharaja Yudhisthira, the oldest of the brothers, is the most pious person. He is even called Dharmaraja, the king of religion. Bhima and Arjuna are both devotees, and they are such powerful heroes that they can kill thousands of men. Their wife, Draupadi, is directly the goddess of fortune, and it has been enjoined that wherever she is, there will be no scarcity of food. Thus they all form a wonderful combination, and moreover, Lord Krsna is always with them. But still they are suffering." Thus he began to cry, saying, "I do not know what Krsna's arrangement is, because such pious devotees are also suffering."
Therefore, we shouldn't think, "Because I have become a devotee, there will be no danger or suffering." Prahlada Maharaja suffered greatly, and so did other devotees, like the Pandavas and Haridasa Thakura. But we should not be disturbed by such sufferings. We must have firm faith, firm conviction, and we must know, "Krsna is present, and He will give me protection." Don't try to take the benefit of any shelter other than Krsna. Always take to Krsna.
How Much Are You Worth?
"What we are caught in is more than just the inflation spiral."
by Jayadvaita Svami
"Thanks to inflation," says a recent release from the Associated Press, "you are now worth 5 ½ times more than you were just a few years ago.
"The calcium, magnesium, iron and other chemicals in an adult's body were worth 98 cents in the early part of this decade; now they're worth $5.60, according to Dr. Harry Monsen, a professor of anatomy at Illinois College of Medicine. 'And the price will keep going up, just like it's doing with cadavers and skeletons,' he said. 'We are caught in the inflation spiral.' "
What we are caught in is more than just the inflation spiral. We are caught in what the Vedic literature points to as the very essence of illusion-the failure to understand clearly who we are.
"Most of the human body," the article continues, "is water. In a 60-pound person, Dr. Monsen said, there are about five pounds of calcium, 1 ½ pounds of phosphate, about nine ounces of potassium, a little more than six ounces each of sulfur and sodium, a little more than an ounce of magnesium, and less than an ounce each of iron, copper, and iodine.
Now, does that sound like you?
Meditate on this for a moment. The body is mostly water, Dr. Monsen says. But when you think about who you are—when you think about your self, your identity—do you think of yourself as watery? In the course of your life you've drunk so much water in and passed so much of it out. The water has come and gone—but you are still here. Who is that you?
Calcium, phosphate, potassium, sulfur—is this the essential stuff of our identity? Sodium, magnesium, iron, copper..?
The point is simple. If we analyze our bodies we'll find nothing more than a barrelful of water and five or six dollars' worth of chemicals. Yet if we meditate on our selves—who we really are—we intuitively know that each of us is something more. Conclusion? We are not these material bodies.
By intelligent discrimination, we should try to understand the difference between the body and the self. The body is made of chemicals—sulfur, iodine, and so on—but the self, the real identity of the living being, is consciousness. The body with consciousness is a person; the body without it, a cadaver.
Cadavers, notes AP, are "more expensive than ever." Dr. Monsen predicts that the price will soon reach $200.
Consciousness, however, is priceless. Intellect, ambition, kindness, love—these are all symptoms of consciousness. So, in one word, it is consciousness that is the essential, invaluable element in the body.
AP has sent out an interesting release about the value of the but how much more interest should be in understanding the self within the body. What is it makes us attach so much value to our bodies while we're in the we inquire in this way, we ultimately come to see the importance of consciousness. It is consciousness that gives life to the body and makes it temporarily so precious.
This consciousness is also known as atma, the soul, or the spirit. The Vedic literature therefore tells if we want to understand the value of life, we should inquire our spiritual identity, beyond our material bodies.
The body is what most of us think ourselves to be. When we think of ourselves as American, Indian, Japanese, or German, white or black, man or woman, what are these but more detailed descriptions of our bodies? We give so much attention to the body—which is worth practically nothing—and we ignore invaluable soul, or consciousness within the body.
"When people were told they were worth only 98 cents they were shocked," Dr. Monsen said. "They feel better knowing they are $5.60." But if we can free ourselves from bodily designations, understand that we're not these bodies at all, and recognize who we really are there's no limit to how much better we shall feel.
by Satsvarupa dasa Goswami
We are trying to relish more and more the life of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, our beloved spiritual master, the Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami writes in his Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 9.363-364): "The activities of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are just like an unfathomable ocean. It is not possible for me to enter into them. Simply standing on the shore, I am but touching the water. Whoever hears the pastimes of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu with faith, analytically studying them, attains the ecstatic riches of love of Godhead."
We believe that this description of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's pastimes also holds true for the activities of Srila Prabhupada, the great acarya (spiritual teacher) in disciplic succession from Lord Caitanya who created the world movement of Krsna consciousness, beginning in America in the 1960s. We know that just as one worships the Ganges River by an offering of Ganges water, we can glorify Srila Prabhupada only by his own mercy. Since we are his disciples, his mercy is all we are made of. We proceed, then, in this attempt, desiring to describe him for the benefit of all who can hear.
We have begun our research and writing with the last twelve years of his life in this world—from 1965, when he began preaching in the West, through 1977. Since his personal letters from this period are the most abundant and his associates the most numerous and available, we have chosen to begin our work with these most important years.
When the biography is complete, of course, it will start with his birth in Calcutta in 1896, and describe his early training under his Vaisnava (Krsna conscious) father, from whom he learned to worship the Deity of Radha-Krsna and hold the Ratha -yatra festival. We shall then recount in detail his meeting in 1922 with his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami, who instructed him to go preach in the West, After his spiritual master's departure from this world in 1936, Srila Prabhupada started BACK TO GODHEAD magazine in 1944 and left home in 1950 to dedicate himself fully to his spiritual master's mission. Then he went to live in Vrndavana and took sannyasa initiation in 1959. From 1960 to 1965 Srila Prabhupada stayed at the historic Radha-Damodara temple in Vrndavana, where he lived in two small rooms. There he wrote and published three volumes of his translation and commentary on Srimad-Bhagavatam. By correspondence he also tried to create interest in a world movement of Krsna consciousness, although he received little response from the various gentlemen he approached.
Then in 1965, just before he turned seventy, an age when most devotees of Krsna are confined to Vrndavana and preparing to pass away, Srila Prabhupada took the risk of going to the West. A Mr. Agarwal in nearby Mathura had a son who agreed to sponsor Srila Prabhupada at his home in Butler, Pennsylvania, for one month. And Sumati Morarjee, the head of the Scindia Steamship Company, agreed to give him free round-trip passage to America on one of her cargo ships. But he had to travel without money, since governmental restrictions prevented him from taking money out of the country. His prospects, therefore, were full of uncertainty: he had only a month's residence in the United States, he would be living with strangers, and he had no money and no formulated plan for what to do in America. But he was thoroughly convinced of the potency of his spiritual master's instructions.
Much as reigning queens in past ages financed explorers' voyages to the New World, so in 1965 Sumati Morarjee, a pious Hindu lady and wealthy business magnate, financed a voyage from India to America by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, "a preacher of the bhagavata cult."
The Jaladuta is a regular cargo carrier of the Scindia Steam Navigation Company, but there is a single passenger cabin aboard. For the voyage from Calcutta to New York in August and September of 1965, the cabin was occupied by "Sri Abhoy Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami," whose age was listed as sixty-nine and who was taken on board bearing "a complimentary ticket with food."
The Jaladuta, under the command of Captain Arun Pandia, whose wife was also aboard, left at 9 A.M. on Friday, August 13. Srila Prabhupada, in the diary he kept for the ocean crossing, noted on the thirteenth: "The cabin is quite comfortable and thanks to Lord Sri Krsna for enlightening Sumati Moranee for all these arrangements. I am quite comfortable." But on the fourteenth he reported in his diary: "Seasickness, dizziness, vomiting—Bay of Bengal. Heavy rains. More sickness."
On the nineteenth, when the ship arrived at Colombo, Ceylon, Srila Prabhupada was able to get relief from his seasickness. The captain took him ashore, and he traveled around Colombo by car. Then the ship went on toward Cochin, a city on the west coast of India.
The observance of Janmastami, the appearance day of Lord Krsna, occurred that year on the twentieth of August, Srila Prabhupada noted that he took the opportunity to speak to the crew about the philosophy of Lord Krsna and distributed prasada he had cooked himself August 21 was his seventieth birthday observed (without ceremony) at sea. On August 21 the ship arrived at Cochin and Srila Prabhupada's trunks of Srimad-Bhagavatam volumes, which had been shipped from Bombay, were loaded on board.
By the twenty-third the ship had put out to the Red Sea, where Srila Prabhupada encountered great difficulty. He noted in his diary: "Rain, seasickness, dizziness, headache, no appetite, vomiting." Although his diary gives no further description, Srila Prabhupada told us several times of the two strokes he experienced on this ocean crossing. Two years later, in 1967, when he was hospitalized for a heart attack, he realized that what he had gone through on the Jaladuta on two consecutive days was a pair of heart attacks. The severe pains in his chest, he said, made him think he would die at any moment.
On board the Jaladuta, Srila Prabhupada attributed the symptoms to seasickness and tolerated the difficulty, meditating on the purpose of his mission. But after two days of such violent attacks, he thought that if another came on the third day, he would certainly not survive it.
But on the night of the second day, Srila Prabhupada had a dream. Lord Krsna was rowing a boat, and He told Srila Prabhupada that he should not fear, but should come along. Srila Prabhupada felt assured of Lord Krsna's protection, and the violent attacks did not recur.
The Jaladuta entered the Suez Canal on September 1 and stopped in Port Said on the second. Srila Prabhupada visited the city along with the captain and reported that he liked it. By the sixth he had recovered a little from his illness and was eating for the first time, having cooked his own kichri and puris. He reported in his diary that his strength renewed little by little.
Thursday, September 9.
Friday, September 10:
During the voyage, Srila Prabhupada must have sometimes stood on the deck at the ship's rail, watching the ocean or the sky and thinking of Caitanya-caritamrta, Vrndavana-dhama, and the order of his spiritual master to go preach in the West. Mrs. Pandia, the captain's wife, whom Srila Prabhupada described as "an intelligent and learned lady," foretold Srila Prabhupada's future. If he were to pass beyond this crisis in health, she said, this would indicate the good will of Lord Krsna.
The ocean voyage of 1965 was a calm one for the Jaladuta. The captain said that in his entire career he had never seen such a calm crossing of the Atlantic. Srila Prabhupada replied that this calmness was Lord Krsna's mercy. Mrs. Pandia then asked Srila Prabhupada to come back with them so that they might have such a calm crossing again. Srila Prabhupada wrote in his diary, "If the Atlantic would have shown its usual face, perhaps I would have died. But Lord Krsna has taken charge of the ship." We also know that at one point Prabhupada sold the captain three volumes of Srimad-Bhagavatam.
On August 13 Srila Prabhupada wrote a Bengali poem, a prayer composed in pure devotion. He noted in his diary: "32nd day of journey. Cooked bati kacauri. It appeared to be delicious, so I was able to take some food. Today I have disclosed my mind to my companion, Lord Sri Krsna. There is a Bengali poem made by me in this connection."
This prayer to the lotus feet of Krsna is filled with devotional confidence in the mission Srila Prabhupada was inspired to undertake on behalf of his spiritual master. An English translation of the verses follows:
''I emphatically say to you, O brothers, you will obtain your good fortune from the Supreme Lord Krsna only when Srimati Radharani becomes pleased with you.
"Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, who is very dear to Lord Gauranga [Lord Caitanya], the son of mother Saci, is unparalleled in his service to the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna. He is that great saintly spiritual master who bestows intense devotion to Krsna at different places throughout the world.
"By his strong desire, the holy name of Lord Gauranga will spread throughout all the countries of the Western world. In all the cities, towns, and villages on the earth, from all the oceans, seas, rivers, and streams, everyone will chant the holy name of Krsna.
"As the vast mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu conquers all directions, a flood of transcendental ecstasy will certainly cover the land. When all the sinful, miserable living entities become happy, the desire of the Vaisnavas is fulfilled.
"Although my Guru Maharaja ordered me to accomplish this mission, I am not worthy or fit to do it. I am very fallen and insignificant. Therefore, O Lord, now I am begging for Your mercy so that I may become worthy, for You are the wisest and most experienced of all.
"If You bestow Your power, by serving the spiritual master one attains the Absolute Truth—one's life becomes successful. If that service is obtained, then one becomes happy and gets Your association due to good fortune.
'My dear Lord, O Supreme Personality of Godhead, because of my association with material desires, one after another, I was gradually falling into a blind well full of snakes, following the general populace. But Your servant Narada Muni kindly accepted me as his disciple and instructed me how to achieve this transcendental position. Therefore, my first duty is to serve him. How could I leave his service?' [Srimad-Bhagavatam]
"O Lord Krsna, You are my eternal companion. Forgetting You, I have suffered the kicks of maya birth after birth. If today the chance to meet You occurs again, then I will surely be able to rejoin You.
"O dear friend, in Your company I will experience great joy once again. In the early morning I will wander about the cow pastures and fields. Running and frolicking in the many forests of Vraja, I will roll on the ground in spiritual ecstasy. Oh, when will that day be mine?
"Today that remembrance of You came to me in a very nice way. Because I have a great longing I called to You. I am Your eternal servant, and therefore I desire Your association so much. O Lord Krsna, other than You there is no means of success."
The confidential themes of these prayers are obvious, and it is not necessary to make extended commentary on them. But since we are attempting to be with Srila Prabhupada as he lived his life, we must at least pause to appreciate such an intense, concentrated view of himself, in which he completely reveals his mind and soul in his confidential relationship with God.
In the first verse he declares that the only way one can get the mercy of Krsna is to get the mercy of Srimati Radharani, who is the mercy representative of the Lord. The spiritual master is considered the representative of Radharani, and verses two through seven describe the relationship between the disciple and the spiritual master. Srila Prabhupada gives credit to his Guru Maharaja, his spiritual master—Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati—and foresees the day when, through Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati's strong desire, the holy name of Krsna will spread through all the countries of the Western world. He plainly states that he has been ordered to accomplish this mission of worldwide Krsna consciousness. Feeling unworthy, he prays to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, asking to be empowered to engage as the servant of his spiritual master to fulfill the desires of the Lord and the Vaisnavas, the devotees of the Lord.
Certain literary critics state that a biographer should never step ahead in time to remind the reader of the great success his subject will gain, since that disturbs the reality of the time sequence. A man does not know what he will achieve until he achieves it, and the biography should capture as far as possible the experience of the man's life as he lived it, which was without knowledge of the future. But the anticipation in this prayer written aboard the Jaladuta was so great that we cannot help studying it, not only to appreciate what Srila Prabhupada would do, but to appreciate what he was doing already. We trust that the reader will not be disturbed as we examine these Prabhupada gems.
Srila Prabhupada rarely made entries in his diary, yet from this ocean crossing we have a number of intimate revelations of his mind. With the same straightforward, factual tone in which he has noted the date, the weather, and the state of his health, he has described his helpless dependence on his "companion" Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and his absorption in the ecstasy of separation from Krsna. Srila Prabhupada rarely wrote poems; we have found a life's total of no more than about half a dozen. They were not the products of idle literary hours, nor were they written for publication or fame.
(The poems and diary entries were found years later by curious disciples who uncovered them among their spiritual master's miscellaneous papers.)
The last two verses of this poem give an unexpected confidential glimpse into Srila Prabhupada's direct relationship with Lord Krsna. In verse 9 he calls on Krsna as his "dear friend" and speaks of again experiencing the joy of wandering in the cow pastures and fields of Vraja. In verse 10 he relishes how this memory of Krsna has come to him in such a nice way, because of his great desire for serving Krsna. Surely the experiences related in this poem are above the mundane level.
Externally Srila Prabhupada was experiencing great inconvenience; he had been aboard ship for a full month and had suffered heart attacks and repeated seasickness. Moreover, even if he were to recover from these difficulties, his arrival in America would undoubtedly bring many more difficulties. But through this poem and through remarks in his diary, we can understand that Srila
Prabhupada's consciousness was beyond all the difficulties of material duality. Nor can we say that these writings are merely idealistic discussions. With all deference to the literary critics, we will foretell here that this seventy-year-old mendicant was actually to ignite the worldwide Hare Krsna explosion he predicted in this poem.
And what are we to make of his remembrance of his friend Krsna wandering about in the forest of Vraja? I will not be so foolish as to attempt to understand these things. As Srila Prabhupada had already written in 1961 in his Srimad-Bhagavatam commentary, "Spiritual feelings of happiness and intense ecstasies have no mundane comparison. Therefore it is very difficult to give expression to such feelings. We can just have a glimpse of such ecstasy in the words of Sri Narada Muni." I can at least understand that Srila Prabhupada was thinking of Krsna and speaking intimately to Krsna, and that Krsna was reciprocating with him out of His own interest.
Srila Prabhupada used to tell us that although God can certainly speak to anyone, He is selective, just like an important man in the material world who speaks only with his own associates or those with whom he has some important business. To enter the association of God will be our fortune too, if we can submissively appreciate the glimpses of pure devotional service given to us by Srila Prabhupada's dream of Krsna and by his prayers and diary remarks as he sailed the Atlantic to bring Krsna consciousness to America.
After a thirty-six-day journey from Calcutta, the Jaladuta reached Boston's Commonwealth Pier at 5:30 A.M. on September 17, 1965. Srila Prabhupada recalled that among the first things he saw were the letters "A & P" painted on a pierfront warehouse. (The warehouse is still there today.) The ship was to stop in Boston briefly before proceeding to New York City, which was Srila Prabhupada's port of entry. Many skyscrapers have been added to the Boston skyline since 1965, but probably the same gray waterfront dawn that occurs now at that time of year was awaiting him then, and there must have been an earlier version of today's conglomeration of lobster stands. In 1965, after a short walk across a footbridge and down a few streets, you would be in a downtown section of Boston, with old churches, warehouses, office buildings, bars, tawdry bookshops, nightclubs, and restaurants. We know that Srila Prabhupada went walking into the city with the captain, who did some shopping. But what is perhaps most significant about Srila Prabhupada's short stay in Boston—aside from the fact that he had now set foot in America—was that Commonwealth Pier was the place where he wrote another Bengali poem, titled Markine bhagavata-dharma ("Teaching Krsna Consciousness in America"). The translation of this prayer is printed here:
"My dear Lord Krsna, You are so kind upon this useless soul, but I do not know why You have brought me here. Now You can do whatever You like with me.
"But I guess You have some business here, otherwise why would You bring me to this terrible place?
"Most of the population here is covered by the material modes of ignorance and passion. Absorbed in material life, they think themselves very happy and satisfied, and therefore they have no taste for the transcendental message of Vasudeva [Krsna]. I do not know how they will be able to understand it.
"But I know that Your causeless mercy can make everything possible, because You are the most expert mystic.
"How will they understand the mellows of devotional service? O Lord, I am simply praying for Your mercy so that I will be able to convince them about Your message.
"All living entities have come under the control of the illusory energy by Your will, and therefore, if You like, by Your will they can also be released from the clutches of illusion.
"I wish that You may deliver them. Only if You desire their deliverance will they be able to understand Your message.
"The words of Srimad-Bhagavatam are Your incarnation, and if a sober person repeatedly receives it with submissive aural reception, then he will be able to understand Your message.
"He will become liberated from the influence of the modes of ignorance and passion, and thus all inauspicious things accumulated in the core of the heart will disappear.
"It is said in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.17-21): Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramatma [Supersoul] in everyone's heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who has developed the urge to hear His messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted.
" 'By regular attendance in classes on the Bhagavatam and by rendering of service to the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is almost completely destroyed, and loving service unto the Personality of Godhead, who is praised with transcendental songs, is established as an irrevocable fact.
" 'As soon as irrevocable loving service is established in the heart, the effects of nature's modes of passion and ignorance, such as lust, desire, and hankering, disappear from the heart. Then the devotee is established in goodness, and he becomes completely happy.
" 'Thus established in the mode of unalloyed goodness, the man whose mind has been enlivened by contact with devotional service to the Lord gains positive scientific knowledge of the Personality of Godhead in the stage of liberation from all material association.
" 'Thus the knot in the heart is pierced, and all misgivings are cut to pieces. The chain of fruitive actions is terminated when one sees the self as master.
"How will I make them understand this message of Krsna consciousness? I am very unfortunate and unqualified and am the most fallen. Therefore I am seeking Your benediction so that I can convince them, for I am powerless to do so on my own.
"Somehow or other, O Lord, You have brought me here to speak about You. Now, my Lord, it is up to You to make me a success or failure, as You like.
"O spiritual master of all the worlds! I can simply repeat Your message. So if You like You can make my power of speaking suitable for their understanding.
"Only by Your causeless mercy will my words become pure. I am sure that when this transcendental message penetrates their hearts, they will certainly feel gladdened and thus become liberated from all unhappy conditions of life.
"O Lord, I am just like a puppet in Your hands. So if You have brought me here to dance, then make me dance, make me dance, O Lord, make me dance as You like.
"I have no devotion, nor do I have any knowledge, but I have strong faith in the holy name of Krsna. I have been designated as Bhaktivedanta, and now, if You like, You can fulfill the real purport of Bhaktivedanta.
"Signed—the most unfortunate, insignificant beggar,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, On board the ship Jaladuta, Commonwealth Pier, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. Dated 18th of September, 1965"
These are the thoughts of one who was coming, physically and spiritually, from the holiest abode of Krsna consciousness into the hellishness of twentieth-century materialism—from Vrndavana to Boston. He could immediately see the death, suffering, illusion, the human beings reduced to animal life—as materialists could never see them. Yet he did not turn away in loathing. He had come to save these people, but now he felt very weak and lowly, unable to do anything on his own. He stood in the American city, a city rich with billions, populated with millions, and determined to stay the way it was. He was but an "insignificant beggar" with no money, an old man who had barely survived two heart attacks at sea, who spoke a different language, and who was dressed strangely—yet he had come to tell people to give up meat-eating, illicit sex, intoxication, and gambling, and to worship Krsna, who to them was an unknown Hindu god. What would he be able to accomplish?
But while feeling his own weakness, he directly spoke his heart to God. He was alone, with no friend, but God was his friend. And what did he wish of his friend? "I wish that You may deliver them. I am seeking Your benediction so that I can convince them." And in this intimate poem he also revealed the method he would use. He would trust in the power of the transcendental vibration of God's holy name. As expressed in the verses he quoted from Srimad-Bhagavatam, the message of Godhead itself would clean away desire for material enjoyment and create loving service unto Krsna as an irrevocable fact. It was complete faith in this process that he expressed, even while forced to feel the powerful influence of ignorance and passion that dominated everything around him in the American city. He was tiny, but God was the greatest, and God was Krsna, his dearmost friend.
Therefore, although no one in Boston or New York had the slightest suspicion of it, and although he himself did not assume it, he had entered as a powerful enemy of illusion. Krsna's empowered emissary had entered the shore of America in the form of a poor mendicant from India, and no one yet knew what it all meant. As for Srila Prabhupada's understanding of the event, he expressed it in his poem: "Somehow or other, O Lord, You have brought me here to speak about You. Now, my Lord, it is up to You to make me a success or failure, as You like."
On the nineteenth of September the Jaladuta sailed into New York Harbor and docked at a Manhattan pier, and Srila Prabhupada ended his stay on the ship. Now he was on his own. He later, said that he had so little idea of what to do that even as he walked off the ship onto the pier he did not know whether to turn left or right. He carried only forty rupees cash, which he himself called "a few hours' spending in New York."
Srila Prabhupada was dressed appropriately for a resident of Vrndavana. His complexion was golden, his forehead decorated carefully with whitish Vaisnava tilaka. He wore a simple cotton dhoti and carried an old chada, or shawl, Srila Prabhupada's only immediate hope for financial maintenance was that he might sell some English copies of his Bhagavatams, which were to be shipped on to Butler in several trunks. He wore pointed white-rubber slippers, not uncommon for sadhus in India. But almost no one in New York had ever seen or dreamed of anyone appearing like this Vaisnava.
He may have been the first full-fledged Vaisnava to arrive in New York and not hide himself with compromised appearance. He fully manifested all the outward and inward characteristics of a Vaisnava, including shaven head and sikha (the tuft of hair on the back of the head), kunthi-mala (neck beads), Vaisnava tilaka, japa-mala (chanting beads), and total dedication of mind, body, and words to the service of Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. His presence was extraordinary, but of course the people of New York City have an expertise in not giving much attention one way or another to any new kind of strange arrival. Later, in his 1966 lectures, Srila Prabhupada would speak of his first hours in the city, citing himself as an example of anxiety. He would particularly mention how he went to the bus station and looked at the signs on all the different buses, not knowing which one to take, until a man sent by Mr. Agarwal met him and helped him get the right bus to Butler.
So Srila Prabhupada's first encounter with New York City was brief, but he would never forget even his first sight of the massive skyscrapers, which were for him always a symbol of a proud but futile materialistic civilization. He would note that the same men who had built these Manhattan skyscrapers by first pile-driving solid foundations were in ignorance that their own foundation, their own existence in this material world, was extremely fragile, for they did not know where they would go in the next life. Very soon Srila Prabhupada's preaching was filled with images of American society.
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Q. How can I find more time for chanting? I like it, but I'm usually too busy.
A. We're all busy, but eventually we have to die. And then what? By the law of karma, anyone who is not God-realized will have to stay in the cycle of rebirth and death. So our real business should be to become God-realized and get out of the karmic cycle. And chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra is the surest way to do that.
Q. If I want to take up chanting, do I need a teacher?
A. Not to start. But if you want your chanting to give you lasting results, then you'll take instruction from a bona fide spiritual master. As the Vedic literatures point out, "Unless one receives instruction from a bona fide spiritual master in the authorized disciplic succession, then his mantra will have no effect."
Q. If I chant Hare Krsna, will I be able to levitate?
A. Even if you could overcome the law of gravity, you'd still be under the law of karma. You'd still have to undergo old age, disease, death, and rebirth. But if you want to overcome the law of karma and, when you pass on, levitate all the way to the spiritual world, then chant the mahamantra.
Q. Why not keep the Hare Krsna mantra secret, like other mantras?
A. If something can actually do some good for others, then who but a rascal would keep it secret and sell it for a fee? The flare Krsna maha-mantra can deliver everyone from the karmic cycle of rebirth and death. So Sri Krsna Caitanya, the incarnation of God for this age, ordered His followers to spread the maha-mantra "to every town and village."
Q. If you chant a mantra in public, won't it lose its power?
A.A mantra can never lose its power. (Here we're not talking about the nonsense syllables that phony gurus are marketing nowadays. These "mantras" never had any power to begin with.) At any rate; a mantra is a combination of sacred sounds—names of God and His energies. So just as God is inexhaustible, a mantra is inexhaustible. Unlimited numbers of people can chant it unlimitedly, and it will always have its power. And the Hare Krsna mantra is known as the maha-mantra. Maha means "great," or "the most powerful."
Q. I don't see that everybody has to chant Hare Krsna. Don't all paths lead to the same place?
A.If you take a flight to Paris and your friend takes a flight to London, you'll go to Paris and he'll end up in London. It's not that you'll both arrive in Paris. Now, the Vedic literatures explain that life's highest destination is to revive our relationship with Lord Krsna in the spiritual world, and that the path is the chanting of the Lord's names. So if you're doing something else, you'll end up in a different place.
Q. God is everywhere. So why chant Hare Krsna? I'm already "back to Godhead," right here and now.
A. That may be, but there's a difference. For instance, the state government is running both the university system and the prison system. So it's all the same, in a way, but where would you rather be—UCLA or San Quentin?
Similarly, God controls both the spiritual and material worlds. But the material world is a place where people who've forgotten Him go through all kinds of trouble—until, finally, they come to their senses and revive the relationship. And the best way to do that, is to chant God's names. Then, as you say, you'll be "already back to Godhead, right here and now," and when you pass away you'll live with Krsna eternally in the spiritual world.
The God-blind Scientists
The following conversation between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his disciples took place in December of 1973, during a morning walk at Venice Beach, Los Angeles.
Devotee: The scientists say their power of reason tells them there's no God. They say if you believe in God it's strictly a matter of faith.
Srila Prabhupada: It is not a matter of faith—it is fact.
Devotee: When scientists say "fact," they mean something they can perceive through their senses.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, and in Krsna consciousness we can perceive God through our senses. The more we engage our senses in devotional service—service to God—the more we are able to perceive Him. Hrsikena hrsikesa-sevanam bhaktir ucyate: "When one engages his senses in service to the Supreme, that relationship is called bhakti [devotion]." For example, we use our legs to walk to the temple, and our tongue to glorify God and eat prasada ["the Lord's mercy," vegetarian food offered to Krsna].
Devotee: But the scientists say these are acts of faith. They say that when we offer food to God, it's only our faith that makes us think God accepts it. They say they can't see Him eating.
Srila Prabhupada: They cannot see, but I can see. I am not a fool like them. They are spiritually blind—suffering from cataracts—ignorance. If they come to me, I shall operate, and then they'll see God also.
Devotee: Well, the scientists want to see God now.
Srila Prabhupada: But Krsna will not reveal Himself to them now, because they're rascals—big animals. sva-vid-varaha ustra-kharaih samstutah purusah pasuh: "Anyone who's not a devotee of God is just a big animal—a big camel or a big dog or a big swine—and the people who praise him are the same."
Devotee: They say we're just dreamers—that we make up fantasies about God and the spiritual world.
Srila Prabhupada: Why do they say "fantasies"? They have no brain to understand—so they say "fantasies."
Devotee: Well, their standard of objectivity is what they can perceive through their senses.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, they can perceive God through their senses. When they perceive sand through their senses, who do they think made the sand? They didn't. When they perceive the ocean through. their senses, who do they think made that? Why are they such fools that they don't understand this?
Devotee: They say that if God made these things, they'd be able to see Him, just as they can see the ocean.
Srila Prabhupada: And I say to them, "Yes, you can see God—but first you have to have the eyes. You are blind; you have cataracts. Come to me and I will operate. Then you'll see God." This is why the Vedic scriptures say, tad-vijnanartham gurum eva abhigacchet:
"To see God, you must approach a bona fide spiritual master." Otherwise, how can they see God with their blind eyes?
Devotee: But the scientists don't have any faith in the kind of seeing you're talking about. The only kind of seeing they put any faith in is what they can gather through their eyes and their microscopes and telescopes.
Srila Prabhupada: Why? If you look up in the sky now, you will think it is vacant. But it is not vacant—your eyes are deficient. There are innumerable planet and stars in the sky, but you cannot see them—you are blind to them. So just because you cannot see the stars and planets, does this mean they do not exist?
Devotee: The scientists admit they're ignorant about some things. But still they won't accept your explanation of things they can't see with their own eyes.
Srila Prabhupada: Why not?
Devotee: Because they think that what you tell them may be wrong.
Srila Prabhupada: That is their misfortune. Our gross senses cannot approach God. To know Him we have to hear from an authority—that is the process for gaining higher knowledge.
Devotee: But that step requires faith. Faith in the guru.
Srila Prabhupada: Not faith—common sense! If you want to learn medicine, you have to go to an expert physician. You cannot learn it by yourself.
Devotee: Srila Prabhupada, from all you've said, it's obvious we can support our ideas as well as the atheistic scientists can support theirs. But they're in control of society. They're dominant.
Srila Prabhupada: Dominant? [Laughs.] One kick from maya [Krsna's material energy] and all their "dominance" is finished in one second. They are controlled by maya,, but they are thinking that they are free. This is foolishness.
Devotee: They don't want to come to their senses.
Srila Prabhupada: Therefore they are rascals. A rascal is someone who will insist he's right even after you have proved he's wrong. He will never take a good lesson. And why do they remain rascals? na mam duskrtino mudhah: because they are duskrtina—very, very sinful. Don't you see how they are making a world of slaughterhouses and brothels; how they are ruining everyone's life by promoting sensual enjoyment? These are all sinful activities. And because the scientists are so sinful, they will have to suffer in the darkest regions of hell. In their next life they'll become worms in stool. Yet out of ignorance they are thinking they are safe.
A look at the worldwide activities of the
Krsna Celebrations Draw Thousands
Recently, Western and Indian devotees came together at ISKCON centers worldwide to celebrate the day, some fifty centuries ago, when Lord Krsna made His appearance on earth.
Washington, D.C.—At Bhaktivedanta Gardens, ISKCON's fifteen-acre estate near Potomac, Maryland, five thousand guests, including India's noted photo-journalist Dhiraj Chawdra, attended celebrations of the day Krsna appeared. Shri D.S.Shastri (President of the Indian Cultural Coordination Committee of Greater Washington and Baltimore) remarked, "By this festival you have captivated the hearts of the Indian community."
Earlier, ISKCON members joined with the Indian Cultural Coordination Committee to welcome Prime Minister Morarji Desai at a reception at the University of Maryland. The next day Rupanuga dasa, a member of ISKCON's central governing board, visited the Prime Minister at Blair Mansion, near the White House. Mr. Desai spoke to Rupanuga dasa about India's traditional world role of spiritual leadership, based on Lord Krsna's teachings in Bhagavad-gita. Mr. Desai added that he appreciated ISKCON's programs.
Bombay—At ISKCON's new cultural center, Dr. Premila Tople, Maharashtra State Minister for Health and Family Welfare, said this: "One day the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita—and this Krsna consciousness movement will spread to every corner of the world. There may be many countries which are more advanced materially, but India can show the proper spiritual way of life to the whole world. The Krsna consciousness movement is an exact manifestation of our ancient culture, and I am confident it will progress more and more."
Bhubaneswara—In the capital of the eastern state of Orissa, Sri Satyapariya Mohanty, the speaker of the legislative assembly, said this to guests: "Once I held the opinion that ISKCON was an organization of opulent persons who get some mental enjoyment out of it, but during my recent tour of America I saw I was mistaken. The people in general are joining this genuine spiritual movement."
UPI and Gallup Poll Mark Growth of Krsna Movement
A recent UPI report says that Bhagavad-gita As It Is, with translation and commentary by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, is part of the personal library of California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. The Gita contains Lord Krsna's instructions on self-realization, God consciousness, and social, political, and economic organization.
Also, the latest Gallup Youth Survey shows that half a million American teenagers now identify themselves with the Krsna consciousness movement. The movement, which began in 1966 in a New York storefront, now has more than one hundred asramas, schools, temples, institutes, and farm communities worldwide.
A visit to a tropical paradise.
by Mandalesvara dasa
Jennifer is the manager of a tropical plant nursery in Key West. A thoughtful young woman, she sees herself as "a person who has always been searching for something more to life."
"A few days ago," says Jennifer, "a woman stopped by the nursery and mentioned she'd just been to an interesting spiritual asrama in Miami. She said I ought to drive up and see for myself.
"On the way there, I was picturing some kind of tall building. But when I finally arrived, I saw fruit trees and flowers and peacocks and cows and a lake with swans."
Jennifer walked in through the Malaysian coconut palms and passed under a sign that said "New Naimisaranya Forest" (after a pilgrimage site in India). A woman in a sari said hello and invited her to sit in the cool shade of a chickee, a Seminole-style pavilion made of cypress logs and thatched palm fronds.
"It's time for lunch," the woman said. "I'll bring you a plate of prasada—it's vegetarian food we grow right here in our garden and offer to Krsna. It's spiritual."
Though she had been a vegetarian for ten years, Jennifer found the prasada "a real surprise." After lunch she joined some other guests for a walk around the grounds.
The guide was the community's Coordinator, Narahari dasa. Before starting his work with the Krsna consciousness movement in 1972, he graduated in premed from the University of Maryland and played drums with a number of prominent jazz musicians.
"Now I'm playing the khola [an oblong Indian drum] for Krsna—and wondering what it will be like to hear Him playing His flute.
"Before," he says, "I was just living the 'good life' and trying to harmonize with nature. But one day a friend gave me a copy of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, and I was struck by the idea of karma
"I saw that although I was getting everything I wanted at the time, it was just coming from my past good karma, and sooner or later that good karma would run out and I'd have to get old and diseased and die. And then there'd be my next life. You know-it was like a credit card. 'Enjoy now. Pay later.'
"So," he says, "I decided to go by the Krsna center-before 'later' came around-and check things out. I used to study Bhagavad-gita, which I found out means 'The Song of God,' and then I'd go to the Sunday festivals with lists of questions about karma and reincarnation and how to get beyond it all: I liked the answers the devotees gave me, so to learn more I eventually moved in."
Narahari showed Jennifer and half a dozen other guests the two acres of marigolds, Lake Bindusarovara, the cowpens, the sugarcane field, and the fifty beehives that produce over five tons of honey a year.
They also saw the fruit trees, including eight varieties of mango from all over the world, ten varieties of avocado, five of banana (including Mysores and Rajpuris from India), four of plantain (including dwarf Puerto Rican), two of papaya, six of orange, three of lime, two of kumquat, and ten of star fruit (yes, the fruit is star-shaped). And they saw other fruit trees: lemon, grapefruit, litchi, loquat, custard apple, sugar apple, tropical apple, star apple (which tastes like a blueberry sundae), sea grape, fig, pomegranate, governor's plum, strawberry, Spanish lime, jackfruit (whose fruits can weigh up to forty pounds each), Barbados cherry, Mamey sapote, black sapote (which tastes like chocolate pudding), tamarind, white sapote, bael fruit, drumstick (named for the shape of its pods), monstera deliciosa, golden coconut, miracle fruit, sapodilla, and Jobaticaba (which produces grapes directly from its bark).
And the guests saw the cashew, wild almond, and macadamia trees and the ornamentals: pine, silver oak, eucalyptus, bamboo, bougainvillea, bottle brush, and banyan.
In addition, they saw—and smelled—the allspice, turmeric, and cardamom plants and the flowering plants: four varieties of gardenia, five of hibiscus, and two of ginger, along with night-blooming jasmine, day-blooming jasmine, orange jasmine, Japanese jasmine, Montezuma, sanchesia, cordia, heleconia, and rose—three hundred rose bushes.
"Especially in the morning," says Narahari, "when our guests walk near the flowering jasmine trees and all the rest, they say they feel intoxicated. And they say the fruit here tastes much sweeter than what they find in the market or the commercial groves or farms. An international group called the Rare Fruit Council has tasted our fruit, too, and they say the same thing.
"We know the reason. Srila Prabhupada once told us the flowers would smell more fragrant and the fruit would taste sweeter because this is Krsna's land. Krsna makes everything nicer, because we're offering all the produce to Him. For instance, we use the marigolds for decorating Krsna's Deity forms in the temple. And everything we eat we grow right here on this land and offer to Krsna first on the altar."
If guests are surprised at what's growing here, they're even more surprised at what's cooking.
Says Narahari, "People come to the Sunday feast and tell me, 'Hey—I thought you said you didn't eat meat!'
And I tell them that what they're eating is kofta, breaded cauliflower-potato balls in tomato-spice sauce. And pakora cauliflower chunks dipped in batter at deep-fried in pure butter. And also badas, ground split peas or garbanzos mixed with flour and spices and deep fried in pure butter.
"Actually," he says, "these are the original tastes—the original recipes people knew about millions of years ago (and you can still find them in the Vedic literatures). These tastes come from Krsna. And so do all of us—so naturally we all like to eat these things. But now, because we've become contaminated the material world and twisted around so many ways, we've forgotten this Vedic knowledge and we've found other ways to try to satisfy these original tastes. One of those ways, of course, is eating flesh. But the tastes of kofta, pakora, badas—these are the original tastes."
It was Srila Prabhupada who first had the idea of giving Miami a tropical-spiritual paradise. In an early letter to the devotees he said, "You have excellent land there, and you should develop it very nicely. Miami has a nice tropical climate, so our center there should be made lush with fruit and flower trees. Just work sincerely, and Krsna will supply you with everything." But New Naimisaranya Forest wasn't always a paradise.
"A jungle," says Narahari, "—that's what this place was when we got here. The property had been abandoned for fifteen years. The main house, which no one had ever lived in, was infested with snakes and scorpions. And the underbrush was so thick we had to cut through with machetes. Fifteen years of neglect had made the pond an overgrown sinkhole and the mango and avocado groves a wild mess, and it was going to take a lot of hard work, but we could see tremendous potential here.
"Now," he says, "we've completely renovated the main house, and we've put in a marble temple room, with a handcrafted altar for the Deities. And we've made the old pond into Lake Bindusarovara, with a full contingent of ducks, swans, and rare multicolored tropical fish that swim and play near the surface.
Assistant coordinator Raghava dasa explains, "Actually, this is the way Krsna consciousness works. Think of Srila Prabhupada coming here to the West. For him, America must have been more or less a jungle. The natives—ourselves—were totally in the dark about spiritual life. Really. What did we know about self-realization or God consciousness? But Srila Prabhupada saw the potential—and cultivated it."
Just three years ago, before it became New Naimisaranya Forest, nobody paid much attention to this place. But now people come to visit almost every day of the year. Some, like Jennifer, are spiritual seekers. Others are just friends, stopping by to see how Krsna's garden grows.
Scientific Views / The Bhaktivedanta Institute
by D.J. Webb, M.A.
D.J Webb earned his MA. in chemistry at Wadham College, Oxford, and his Postgraduate Certificate of Education at London University. He taught science at the secondary school level for four years. (He also spent two years as a novice and monk in Japanese Buddhist monasteries.) He has been a member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness since 1974 and has worked with the Institute since 1977.
A scientist must be able to explain the origin of natural phenomena. As soon as he denies the existence of God, he must answer the question "Then where has life come from?"
Since the Middle Ages, some of the greatest scientists have had firm faith in the existence of God. Sir Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell, Louis Pasteur, and Max Planck come to mind. However, the majority of scientists today are explaining the phenomenon of life without reference to any supernatural power. Their chief weapon is the famous theory of evolution, put forward jointly by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace in their paper On the Tendency of Species to Form Varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection (1858).
Although the theory of evolution gives strong support to atheism, neither Darwin nor Wallace could completely dismiss the need for a guiding intelligence in the evolutionary process. In his Origin of Species, Darwin suggests that in the formation of the eye, a "power" is at work, "intently watching each slight alteration" and "carefully preserving" those which improve the image produced. ** (C. Darwin, The Origin of Species (Harvard University Press, 1964), p. 135.) (Modern cynics would say that Darwin never escaped the conditioning of his religious upbringing, and needed more careful "deprogramming.")
Wallace, for his part, later wrote The World of Life: a Manifestation of Creative Power, Directive Mind, and Ultimate Purpose. In this work he concluded that events we witness in nature are directed and guided by "a Mind not only adequate to direct and regulate all the forces at work in living organisms, but which is itself the source of all those forces and energies, as well as of the more fundamental forces of the whole material universe." ** (A. R. Wallace. The World of Life: a Manifestation of Creative Power, Directive Mind, and Ultimate Purpose (Moffat. Yard & Co., 1911), p.431.)
With the advancement of materialism, later thinkers have become more militantly opposed to any belief in such a creative power and guiding intelligence. They use the theory of evolution as a powerful device for containing and reducing the effect of religious belief. If they show that life has evolved from chemicals, then people need no longer believe in the existence of a personal God. If they show that talk of "the wonders of nature" is simply naive—that nature is no more than a conjuring trick played by chance and simple physical laws over an immense span of time-then people need no longer marvel at the wonderful potencies of God. And consequently they need no longer consider it necessary to obey His laws.
Thus, in the last hundred years, the spokesmen of materialism have been making a great effort to convince the public that life is the result of evolution, and that material experimental science is the torch of knowledge that is dispelling the darkness of ignorance caused by religious superstitions. "No matter how aesthetically moving, the pathetic efforts of all the religions and most of the philosophies in blindly denying the reality of the human condition produce only chaos and heroic yet absurd somersaults. Obscurantism has had its day. Let there be light!" ** (E. Schoffeniels, Anti-chance (Pergamom Press, 1964), p.108.)
Although the theory of evolution has proved a challenge to religious convictions, the validity of the theory is being challenged in turn. In "Chemistry and Consciousness" (BACK TO GODHEAD, Vol.13, no.9) Dr. Richard L. Thompson pointed out that consciousness cannot be
described in terms of chemical process or physical measurements. ** (See also: R.L. Thompson. Consciousness and the Laws of Nature, Bhaktivedanta Institute Monograph Series. No.3 (Boston; Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1977).) Yet the theory of evolution describes living organisms only in terms of increasing complex systems of interacting chemicals. While the theory attempts to account for the origin of the species, leaves aside the question of the origin consciousness—and consciousness is the most important common quality in living creatures.
This is not the only difficulty encountered by the theory of evolution, as Darwin himself was the first to admit. "Long before having arrived at this part of work, a crowd of difficulties will have occurred to the reader. Some of them so grave that to this day I can never reflect on them without being staggered." ** (C. Darwin, op. cit. p. 171.) Many of these issues are still unresolved. Much of the evidence for evolution has been exaggerated, a much of the evidence against it has be suppressed. We think that an impart person today will still be "staggered" that in the face of such difficulties, and on such a poor foundation of evidence and theoretical justification, eminent scientists can still claim, "Today theory of evolution is an accepted fact everyone but a fundamentalist minority, whose objections are based not reasoning but on doctrinaire adherence to religious principles." ** (J. Watson. Molecular Biology of the Gene, 3rd ed. (1977), p.2.)
The theory of evolution cannot plain the nature or development of consciousness. And since consciousness the prime symptom of a living being also seems the theory will not be able explain the origin and development life. Still, let us examine the theory evolution on its own terms and see w truth, if any, it offers.
If one denies the existence of a guiding power and intelligence, one is left with two alternatives. The first is that evolution has taken place purely by chance, and the second is that the evolution life and consciousness is the natural inevitable result of the laws of nature acting throughout the history of the earth.
"Chance" theorists admit that the probability of life appearing by accident is very small, but they claim that it happened anyway. In recent years the theory of chance formation of life has met with great opposition in the scientific community. Anti-chance theorists such as Schoffeniels protest, "It is one thing to ignore or reject the sentiment of a mystical destiny, inscribed in the impenetrable designs of a supernatural being. It is another matter to accept the idea that the origin of life and evolution were necessary because of the conditions on earth and the existing properties of the elements." ** (Schoffeniels, op. cit, p.18.)
G.G. Simpson, a noted and prolific writer in the field, states the case more concretely: "If atoms of hydrogen and oxygen come together under certain simple and common conditions of energy, they always deterministically combine to form water. Formation of more complex molecules requires correspondingly more complex concatenations of circumstances, but is still deterministic in what seems to be a comparatively simple way." ** (G.G. Simpson, Science (1964).) In other words, Simpson claims that just as hydrogen and oxygen inevitably form water under the right conditions, so complex molecules-and ultimately living structures-are also inevitably formed from simple chemicals, given the right conditions (which are presumed to have been present on "primitive earth'').
Such claims would be reasonable if anyone had ever observed that "under certain simple and common conditions of energy," simple chemicals "deterministically combined" to give some life form, such as a bacterium or a living cell. Of course, no such observation has been made. The nearest approach to the laboratory synthesis of living structures is the construction of genes and viruses. Admittedly, these are very complex molecules, but they are not of themselves alive. Their synthesis was made possible by the help of complex enzymes which, though lifeless themselves, were obtainable only from living cells. In other words, scientists cannot synthesize even lifeless genes starting from simple molecules alone. How, then, can statements that the origin and development of life are chemically inevitable be anything more than wishful thinking?
The evolutionists may have faith that the synthesis of life will be possible as the techniques of biochemistry improve, but even if it were possible, that still would not show that evolution could produce living organisms from nonliving matter. Laboratory synthesis takes place under the intelligent guidance of the scientist, but the evolutionist claims that evolution has taken place naturally, without such guidance. Mathematical analysis also shows that the faith of the evolutionist is ill-founded. The complex structures of living matter contain a vast amount of specific information. The theoretical treatment of the generation and properties of information is called "information theory," and it has been an accepted branch of mathematics for more than twenty years. Information theory shows that the probability of a specific, high information content arising by chance is negligibly small. One cannot get more specific information out of a system than has been put in.
For example, if one programs a computer with "Mary had a little lamb," or with a complete telephone directory of the United States, one could not expect the computer to then produce Shakespeare's Macbeth. Specific information must be available. Similarly, one may have a lot of information about the arrangement of bricks and pipes on a building site, but even more specific information is required to build a complete house.
In the case of complex living structures, with their high information content, either that specific information must already have been present in the starting materials, or else the laws of nature governing the development of the living forms must have been extremely complex. According to the theory of evolution, neither is the case. The starting materials are extremely simple molecules, and the laws of nature which are studied and accepted by the material scientists are also comparatively simple. Dr. Thompson ** (R.L. Thompson, Demonstration by Information Theory That Life Cannot Arise From Matter, Bhaktivedanta Institute Monograph Series. No.2 (Boston; Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, 1977).) shows that the probability of a living cell being formed by chance and simple physical laws, as the evolutionists claim, is not greater than 10-130,000. In other words, if the whole universe appeared out of nothing 10to130,000 times (10to130,000 may be written as 1 followed by 130,000 zeroes), one could not expect a living cell to be formed more than once or twice! Thus it is not possible that evolution could have taken place by chance, nor is it true that "we are here because about three million years ago conditions on earth and the properties of the elements were such as to ensure it." ** (Schoffeniels, op. Cit. p.108.)
The development of life seems to have two important aspects which must be explained: first, the inner development of consciousness, and second the outer development of the living form or structure. ** (See also:T.D. Singh and R.L. Thompson. What Is Matter and What Is Life?, Bhaktivedanta Institute Monograph Series, No. 1 (Boston: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. 1977).) As we have pointed out, the theory of evolution cannot explain either of these essential features. The evolutionist is scientifically bankrupt.
These difficulties of the doctrine of evolution are theoretical ones. What about the volumes of alleged factual evidence for evolution? Many interpretations of the fossil record have been made on the assumption that evolution has taken place. But a detailed examination of the evidence advanced by the evolutionists does not support their claims. The physical evidence is actually quite slender, and the popular impression that evolution is a "scientific fact" is due to misrepresentation.
Who would suspect from visits to museums, and from reading school textbooks, that the famous series showing the evolution of the horse was discredited long ago? ** (G. Hardin, Nature and Man's Fate (Mentor, 1961), p. 76.) Who would have deduced from the "Evolution" issue of Scientific American (September 1978) that the existence of the primitive soup, in which the first living cells are supposed to have formed by collisions of smaller molecules, is a proven impossibility? ** (D.E. Hull, Nature 186 (1960).) Who would have thought that the evolution of man from a "still undiscovered hominid" through A ustralopithecus and Homo erectus is specifically disproved by the fossil evidence? ** (Time, Nov. 7,1977, p.44 and H.S. Shelton and D. Dewar Is Evolution Proved? (Long; Hollis and Carter, 1947).) Who would suspect that, in contrast to the' sweeping claims of the popularizers, research workers are reduced to measuring insignificant features on fossils of molluscs, Forminafera, and other lowly forms of life, in an effort to prove that gradual evolution has taken place at all? ** (S.J. Gould and N. Eldrige, Paleobiology 3(1977), pp. 115-151.) When asked what evidence there is that one species an change into another, the famous anthropologist Richard Leakey replied that as far as he knew, there was no fossil evidence at all.
Of course, some of the opposition to evolution has been sentimental, unreasonable, and fanatical. But we are challenging evolution on the basis of reason, logic, and the ancient Vedic knowledge, which scientifically describes matter, spirit, and the controller of both. As Srila Prabhupada instructed some of his students, "It is not our business to condemn the advancement of knowledge. But to deny the existence of God by the 'advancement of knowledge' is a waste of time. Don't forget the real origin. Saying that life is coming from chemicals is nonsense. Life is coming from life-from Krsna." ** (From a talk given at Bhaktivedanta Manor, Watford, U.K., in August 1977.)
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The textbooks are missing a chapter.
by Visakha-devi dasi
Visible Man—I remember my friends and I played for hours, taking him apart and piecing him back together. In the process we were learning about our own bodies—the heart, lungs, brain, muscles, veins, arteries, and the rest. But we never asked ourselves, "Which part is it that makes the body alive?"
In biology and chemistry classes our teachers told us that a complex arrangement of atoms is all it takes to make a living human being—complete with a unique personality, emotions, opinions, and intelligence. But the atoms in our bodies are the same as the atoms in automobiles, TV sets, cameras, and other nonliving objects. So what makes one complex arrangement of atoms living and another nonliving?
I never got a straight answer to that question until I read ancient India's classic Bhagavad-gita. "Besides the material elements there is a superior element, which is the life force, or soul, in all beings." (Bhagavad-gita 7.5)
The soul is infinitesimal-smaller than an atom. So the soul eludes, electron microscopes, what to speak of probing scalpels. But that doesn't make the soul's existence any less real. The mind is invisible, too, but we know it's there by its symptoms. In the same way, we can know that the soul is present in the body by the' symptom of consciousness.
"As the sun alone illuminates all the universe," says Bhagavad-gita, "so does the soul, one within the body, illuminate the entire body by consciousness," (Bg. 13.34)
As sunlight points to the presence of the sun, consciousness points to the presence of the soul. Bhagavad-gita tells us that the soul sits in the heart of every being. And even modern medical science admits that the heart is the seat of all the body's energies.
Actually, red corpuscles in the circulatory system carry consciousness from the soul all over the body. If the circulation to any part of the body is blocked, we experience a localized loss of consciousness—for instance, our leg "falls asleep." And where the blood doesn't flow at all, as in our hair and nails, there's no consciousness.
If it actually is the soul in the heart that gives life and consciousness to the body, then what happens to the soul if the heart is transplanted? Srila Prabhupada, my spiritual master, gave this analogy: "If I'm sitting in your home in an old chair, you may bring a nicer one to make me more comfortable. While you replace the old chair with the new one, I'll get up and stand aside, and then I'll sit down again in the new chair. Similarly, before a surgeon removes a patient's heart, the soul moves to a different part of the body. Then, after another heart has been inserted, the soul returns and takes his seat in the new heart. But in any case, with this heart or that one, as soon as the soul leaves the body, all that's left is a corpse.
In other words, the body is dead matter that appears alive, as long as the soul is in it. Without the soul there's no life, just as without the sun there's no sunlight.
We won't find the soul listed in the Periodic Table of Elements. Nor can we perceive him with our blunt material senses. But we can learn of his qualities from Bhagavad-gita:
"That which pervades the entire body is indestructible. No one is able to destroy the imperishable soul. The soul can neither be cut into pieces by any weapon, nor can he be burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind. This individual soul is unbreakable and insoluble and can be neither burned nor dried. Know that he who dwells in the body is eternal and can never be slain." (Bg. 2.17, 23-25, 30)
Today many children are playing with Visible Man kits. Many students are studying biology and anatomy. But the kit has a missing piece, the textbooks a missing chapter. No one knows the soul. Some think the soul is just religious sentimentalism. Others are too busy to take interest. Still others may have some interest, but don't have a clear, scientific conception of the soul and the soul's relationship to the body. Yet although ignored, scorned, and misunderstood, the invisible living force-the soul-is the most important part of the body. Understanding the soul and his spiritual activities is the beginning of self-realization, the beginning of real life.
[Excerpts from the Seventh Chapter-'Knowledge of the Absolute"]
The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Now hear, O son of Prtha [Arjuna], how by practicing yoga in full consciousness of Me, with mind attached to Me, you can know Me in full, free from doubt.
I shall now declare unto you in full this knowledge both phenomenal and noumenal, by knowing which there shall remain nothing further to be known.
Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection hardly one knows Me in truth.
Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and false ego—all together these eight comprise My separated material energies.
Besides this inferior nature, O mighty Arjuna, there is a superior energy of Mine, which consists of all living entities who are struggling with material nature and who are sustaining the universe,
Of all that is material and all that is spiritual in this world, know for certain that I am both the origin and dissolution.
O conqueror of wealth [Arjuna], there is no truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread.
O son of Kunti [Arjuna], I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.
I am the original fragrance of the earth, and I am the light in fire. I am the life of all that lives, and I am the penances of all ascetics.
O son of Prtha, know that I am the original seed of all existences, the intelligence of the intelligent, and the prowess of all powerful men.
I am the strength of the strong, devoid of passion and desire. I am sex life which is not contrary to religious principles, O lord of the Bharatas [Arjuna].
All states of being-goodness, passion, or ignorance-are manifested by My energy. I am, in one sense, everything-but I am independent. I am not under the modes of this material nature.
Deluded by the three modes [goodness, passion, and ignorance], the whole world does not know Me, who am above them and inexhaustible.
This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome, but those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.
Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who are of the atheistic nature of demons, do not surrender unto Me.
O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me-the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and. he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.
Of these, the wise one who is in full knowledge, in union with Me through pure devotional service, is the best. For I am very dear to him, and he is dear to Me.
Man: Just an Old Animal?
According to some anthropologists, the human being is essentially an animal. "It is clear that we are an extremely old animal, perhaps three million years old, and we were evolved to live as hunter-gatherers," says a Rutgers University anthropologist with the ironically bestial name Lionel Tiger. In a recent essay in Newsweek, Professor Tiger claims that many social and psychological problems arise when we imagine that man is something more than a biological creature. "Oddly enough," he says, "seeing ourselves as animals may make the future more humane." But we cannot see how Tiger's view of man can actually benefit humanity.
Tiger takes Darwin's theory as axiomatic truth. But at the risk of being heretical, we must point out that Darwin's theory, one of the foundational beliefs of the modern age, has always been only that—a theory. What's more, it is a theory fraught with difficulties (see "Evolution—a Theory in Danger of Extinction," page 30). In the same issue of Newsweek that features Tiger's essay, we find a review of a new book by paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey. Dr. Leakey has developed his own theory of human evolution, based on a few skull findings in Africa. "Still, the evidence is sparse," says the reviewer. "All known remnants of our ancestors from one million to five million years ago could be spread out on two large trestle tables." Allegedly, fossils provide evolutionary theorists with their proof positive, but no one has any fossil record for the evolution of fish, or anything substantial for the evolution of birds. Even Darwin admitted that his theory had its holes, and that he had filled them in with guesswork. The data he had gathered on the voyage of the Beagle only "seemed to throw some light on the origin of the species." So, he says, "After five years' work I allowed myself to speculate on the subject and drew up some short notes; these I enlarged in 1844 into a sketch of the conclusions, which seemed to me probable."
Nor has the theory of mutation (which states that species can suddenly produce better-adapted offspring) ever proved itself in life. And, of course, there are many other counterarguments that destroy the credibility of Darwin's theory. Yet although these counterarguments are well known and based strictly on empirical data, they are never discussed seriously in scientific journals. Apparently, the scientific community views as anathema any idea that puts the origin of life into a theistic light.
Even if we suspend the debate as to how and when man got his superior brain and consciousness, still we have to admit he is highly developed beyond all other forms of life. And it's clear he has to use his higher intellectual development for something more than just polishing the animal techniques of hunting, gathering, and mating. Actually, human consciousness enables us to gain spiritual enlightenment and free ourselves from karma (the natural cycle that forces unGodconscious people to devolve back into animal species).
We can grant Dr. Tiger that modern industrial society has developed an artificial way of life, but does Dr. Tiger know what the natural way of human life actually is? As Srimad-Bhagavatam (2.3.19-20) describes, the human body is meant for self-realization-and if this use of the body is neglected, then indeed the human is to be considered an animal.
Men who are like dogs, hogs, camels, and asses praise those men who never listen to the transcendental pastimes of Lord Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, the deliverer from evils. One who has not listened to the messages about the prowess and marvelous acts of the Personality of Godhead and has not sung or chanted loudly the worthy songs about the Lord is to be considered to possess earholes like the holes of snakes and a tongue like the tongue of a frog.
The Bhagavatam also describes a saintly king who used his human faculties for cultivating God consciousness:
Maharaja Ambarisa always engaged his mind in meditating upon the lotus feet of Krsna, his words in describing the glories of the Lord, his hands in cleansing the Lord's temple, and his ears in hearing the words spoken by Krsna or about Krsna. Re engaged his eyes in seeing the Deity of Krsna, Krsna's temples, and Krsna's places. He engaged his sense of touch in touching the bodies of the Lord's devotees. He engaged his sense of smell in smelling the fragrance of the tulasi leaves offered the Lord, and he engaged his tongue tasting foods offered to the Lord. engaged his legs in walking to the the places and temples of the Lord, his head bowing down before the Lord, and all I desires in serving the Lord twenty-four hours a day.
For this age the Vedic literatures recommend one process of self-realization—sankirtana, glorifying God through chanting His names and dancing. Engaged in the yoga of sankirtana, all of us can dance and vibrate hymns, eat foods offered to Krsna, and thus become liberated from transmigration down to the animal species. It is not a fact that if the human being neglects cultivation of transcendental consciousness and tries to live like an animal he'll be happy. Whether predator or prey, an animal suffers constant anxiety. Only by reviving our original, spiritual consciousness—and not by trying to live in savage industrial society or savage animal society—can we be happy.
If the atheistic theory of man and his purpose remains the foundation for civilized society, then how can we expect relief from war or crime or sexual in. morality? Aren't all these bestialities simply outpourings of the survival-of-the-fittest mentality that Tiger would have us embrace as part of man's inner nature? But the Vedic literatures describe ancient societies and enlightened governments that promoted peaceful living through realization of self and God.
This is the responsibility of man: to cultivate self-realization, to raise himself above junglelike terrorism and "Might-Makes-Right" exploitation, big animal-nations over small animal-nations. If we reject our identity as spiritual souls, emanations from God, if we reject God's plan for us on this planet and in the eternal, spiritual world-if we reject self-realization and God consciousness as the essential human commitments-then Professor Lion Tiger is right: we are no more than lions and tigers. And by nature's law of transmigration, a man who neglects his higher purpose in this life will get all facility in later lives to enjoy himself as a lion, and then as a tiger, and then a mouse, a lizard, a bug, a tree . . . life after life after life.