A talk given in October 1968 by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, at the Society's center in Seatlle.
Govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami. We are interested in understanding Govinda, or Krsna, the original person. And if one can understand the original person, then one understands everything. This is explained in the Upanisads: Yasmin vijnate sarvam evam vijnatam bhavati. "If you can understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead, or the Absolute Truth, you understand everything."
Similarly, the Bhagavad-gita [6.22] says, yam labdhva caparam labham manyate nadhikam tatah: "One who understands Krsna thinks there is no greater gain." Everyone is trying to gain something according to his own position or his own idea. Not everyone is searching after the same thing. Somebody is searching after intoxication, somebody is searching after sex, somebody is searching after money, somebody is searching after knowledge—people are searching after so many things. But there is one thing that will make us so satisfied that we shall say we do not want anything more. And that is perfect understanding of Krsna.
If you simply understand Krsna, your knowledge is perfect: you understand everything. You understand science, you understand mathematics, you understand chemistry, physics, astronomy, philosophy, literature—everything. It doesn't matter what department of knowledge or what kind of activity you are engaged in; if you can find the Supreme by your activity or pursuit of knowledge, that is your perfection. You are a scientist? All right: by your scientific research find the Supreme. Then your science is perfect. You are a businessman? With your money just search out the Supreme. You are a lover? Just search out the supreme lover, Krsna. You have an aesthetic sense? You are looking for beauty? If you find Krsna, your desire for beauty will be satisfied.
The name Krsna means "the all-attractive one." He's attractive to the lovers, He's attractive to the wise men, He's attractive to the politicians, He's attractive to the scientists. He's even attractive to the rogues. When Krsna entered Kamsa's wrestling arena, various kinds of people saw him differently. Among those who had come from Vrndavana, the young girls saw Krsna as the most beautiful person, and the older ladies saw Him as a loving child. But the demonic wrestlers saw Krsna as a deadly thunderbolt. They saw the same Krsna, but they thought, "Oh, here is a thunderbolt that will kill us!" However strong you may be, if you are struck by a thunderbolt you are finished. And Kamsa's wrestlers saw Krsna in that way—as a deadly thunderbolt.
So you can establish a relationship with Krsna in any of twelve kinds of rasas, or humors. For example, sometimes you may want to see a very ghastly scene in some drama. You may take pleasure in seeing somebody murder somebody else. One of our students in Montreal told me that his father took pleasure in watching bullfights in Spain. One person may see it as horrible, but another person is enjoying: "Oh, it is very nice." So, Krsna can accommodate both persons. If you love horrible things, Krsna will present Himself to you as Nrsimhadeva. [Srila Prabhupada imitates a roar] And if you want to see Krsna as your loving friend. He will show Himself to you as Vamsi-dhari [He Who Carries a Flute] or Vrndavana-vihari [The Enjoyer of Vrndavana]. If you want Krsna as a loving child, he will appear to you as Gopala [The Cowherd Boy].
So, there are twelve kinds of humors, and Krsna can accommodate all of them. Therefore He is known as akhila-rasamrta-sindhu, "the nectarean ocean of all the different humors." If you are trying to find water and you go to the Pacific Ocean—oh, you will find unlimited water. There is no comparison to the amount of water there. Similarly, whatever you want, if you approach Krsna you will find an unlimited supply—just like water in the Pacific Ocean. That is why Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita, yaa labdhva caparam labham manyate nadhikam tatah. If a person can approach or gain the Supreme Absolute, he'll be completely satisfied. He'll say, "I have no more hankering. I have everything to my full satisfaction."
And if one is situated in that transcendental position, then what happens? Yasmin sthito na duhkhena gurunapi vicalyate: "Even if there is very severe distress, one is not disturbed." There are many instances of this in the Vedic scriptures. For example, the Pandavas were placed in so many distressful conditions, but they never faltered. They never asked Krsna, "Dear Krsna, we are Your friends, so why are we undergoing so much severe difficulty?" No, they never said that. They were confident that because Krsna was their friend, in spite of all the difficulties they would come out victorious.
This confidence is called saranagati, full surrender. There are six points of surrender to Krsna, and one of these is to have full faith that Krsna will protect us. It is the kind of faith that a small child has in his mother or father. The child thinks, "My mother is here, so there is no danger." I'll narrate a practical experience of this. In Calcutta, in my younger days, I was once traveling in a tram with my youngest son. He was only two or three years old. So the conductor, as a joke, said to him, "Give me your fare."
The boy said, "I have no money."
"Then get off."
Immediately the boy answered, "Ah, here is my father. You cannot ask me to get off, because my father is here." This is the psychology of saranagati, full faith in the protection of a superior.
In the Bhagavad-gita [9.31] Krsna assures us of full protection. Kaunteya pratijanihi na me bhaktah pranasyati: "My dear Arjuna, son of Kunti, declare to the world that My devotee will never be vanquished." So if you surrender to Krsna, then even the greatest danger will not agitate you. That is a fact. Such a thing is Krsna! Try to achieve this greatest boon: Krsna.
So one who worships Krsna is very intelligent. As Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita [10.8],
aham sarvasya prabhavo
I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise, who know this perfectly, worship Me in full ecstasy." Who worships Krsna? That is described here: budhah, the most intelligent person. Buddha means "wise," and budha means "one who is wise or full of knowledge." Many people are searching after knowledge. Here in Seattle you have Washington University, and many students have come to acquire knowledge. But one who has acquired the perfection of knowledge, or the highest platform of knowledge, is called budha. So one who worships Krsna is very learned and wise, and at the same time he feels spiritual ecstasy (bhava-samanvitah). "Such a person," Krsna says, "worships Me, or loves Me." Why? Because he understands that Krsna is the origin of everything (aham sarvasya prabhavah). In other words, he knows that Krsna is the ultimate source of everything, the Supreme Absolute Truth.
The Vedanta-sutra says that human life is meant for searching out this Absolute Truth, or Brahman (athato brahma-jijnasa). In other lives we have enjoyed sense pleasure to the fullest extent. According to Darwin's theory, human beings evolved from monkeys. In India there are many monkeys, and we have seen that each and every monkey has at least twenty-five girlfriends. So, as human beings what more can we enjoy in the way of sex pleasure? Hogs also have dozens of sex partners. They make no distinction between mother, sister, daughter. They simply enjoy sex indiscriminately. Now, do you mean to say that human life is meant for living like the monkeys and hogs and cats and dogs? Is that the perfection of human life—enjoying sense gratification?
No. We have enjoyed sense gratification in various forms of life. Now, the Vedanta-sutra says, we should inquire into Brahman, the Absolute Truth. What is that Brahman? We are all Brahman, spirit, but Krsna is Parabrahman, the Supreme Spirit (isvarah paramah krsnah). For example, you are all Americans, but President Johnson is the supreme American. Similarly, the Katha Upanisad [2.2.13] says, nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam: "Of all the eternal living entities, there is one who is supreme." That is God, the most perfect eternal person, the most perfect living force.
Then, eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman: "One living force, the Supreme, is supplying all the demands of all other living entities." For example, in a family the father supplies the necessities of the wife, the children, the servants, and so on. Similarly, the government tries to supply the necessities of all the citizens. But whether you are the father of a small family or the head of a big government, your ability to supply is limited. You may feed your family, you may feed your society, you may feed your countrymen—but you cannot feed everyone. There are trillions of living entities. Who is supplying them food? Who is supplying food for the thousands of ants within the hole in your room? When we go to Green Lake, we see hundreds of ducks. Who is taking care of them? And living entities are being fed not only on this planet but on trillions of planets in trillions of universes. Who is feeding them? God. Everyone is dependent on Him, and He is supplying all necessities.
God's arrangement is complete (om purnam adah purnam idam). For example, on this planet, earth, everything is complete. The water in the seas and oceans is taken up by the sunshine and transformed into clouds. Then it is distributed all over the land, and the vegetables and food grains grow. It is a complete arrangement.
Now, an intelligent person will ask, Who has made this complete arrangement? The sun is rising in due time, the moon is rising in due time, the seasons are changing in due time. So how can you say there is no God? There is evidence for God in the Vedas and in every other scripture, and great representatives of God, like Lord Jesus Christ, have given information of God. Although Jesus Christ was crucified, he never changed his opinion about God. So we have evidence about God from nature, from the scriptures, and from great personalities. But if one still says, "God is dead; there is no God,"what kind of man is He? He is a demon. He'll never understand God.
Now, just opposite to the demon is the budha, the wise man. Anyone who is wise, intelligent, knows that Krsna is the cause of all causes (sarva-karana-karanam). By the law of cause and effect, everything has a cause. So if you find the first cause, the cause of all causes, you'll find Krsna. As the Vedanta-sutra says, janmady asya yatah: "The Supreme is that from which everything has emanated."
You cannot say that everything has sprung up automatically. That is foolishness. Modern scientists say, "In the beginning, perhaps there was a chunk and then a big bang and then creation." But this is all "perhaps." This kind of knowledge is useless. If I ask the scientists, "What is the cause of the chunk?" they cannot reply.
So, we must find out the original cause, God, and if we cannot find Him then we have to follow the great souls who have realized God (Mahajano yena gatah sa panthah). We have to follow the authorized personalities. If you are a Christian, just follow Jesus Christ. He says God exists, so you should accept that God exists. He says that God created the universe, so you should accept this.
Similarly, in Bhagavad-gita God says, aham sarvasya prabhavah: "I am the origin of everything." We have to accept this statement. We have to study authorized scriptures, and we have to accept the words of great personalities and follow their example. Then Krsna consciousness, or God realization, is very easy. There will be no stumbling blocks on the path of our understanding God.
There are so many scriptures: the Bhagavad-gita, the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the Bible, the Koran. In every human society there is some conception of God according to the circumstances and the people. So you have to try to understand God through the scripture. Therefore the Vedanta-sutra says, athato brahma-jijnasa: "Try to understand God by inquiry." This inquiry is very important. In our process, Krsna consciousness, it is said, adau gurvasrayam sad-dharma-prccha: "One has to accept a bonafide spiritual master and inquire from him about God."
So we should be intelligent and inquire about Brahman, the Absolute Truth. Human life is meant for this inquiry. And after inquiring, inquiring, inquiring, what is the result? That is stated in the Bhagavad-gita [7.19]. Bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate: "After many, many births of inquiry, when one actually becomes a wise man, a man of knowledge, he surrenders unto Me, Krsna." Why? Vasudevah sarvam iti: he understands that Vasudeva, Krsna, is the cause of all causes.
So, if we want to be intelligent, we can adopt the process of inquiring into the Absolute Truth. On the other hand, if we are actually intelligent we will take to Krsna consciousness immediately. It is being offered to us by the most magnanimous incarnation, Lord Caitanya. He is offering us love of Krsna, the highest goal of life. That is why Srila Rupa Gosvami offers his obeisances to Lord Caitanya in this way: namo maha-vadanyaya krsna-prema-pradaya te. "O my dear Lord Caitanya, You are the most magnanimous of all incarnations because You are directly giving krsna-prema, love of Krsna." Ordinarily, love of Krsna cannot be achieved even after many, many births, but Lord Caitanya delivered it cheaply. "Here, take it!" He said. Rupa Gosvami could understand that Lord Caitanya was Krsna Himself, because Rupa Gosvami knew it would not have been possible for anyone else to offer love of Krsna so cheaply.
And, actually. Lord Caitanya is Krsna. Five thousand years ago Krsna came personally and taught the Bhagavad-gita. He simply said, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: "Just give up everything and surrender to Me." But people misunderstood Him. Therefore, five hundred years ago Krsna came as a devotee, Lord Caitanya, and directly offered krsna-prema to the people in general.
So we request everyone to take up Krsna consciousness. You'll feel, "I don't want anything more. I am satisfied—fully satisfied."
Thank you very much. Are there any questions?
Devotee: How can we render perfect service to Krsna?
Srila Prabhupada: By increasing your anxiety to serve Him. If you are full of anxiety to serve Krsna, that is a real asset. After all, Krsna is unlimited; so what service can we actually offer to Him? He already has unlimited servants, so what service does He require from you and me? He's perfect in Himself; he doesn't require any service. But if you are anxious to serve Him, He will not refuse your service That is His mercy; that is His magnanimity.
So, the more you increase your anxiety to serve Krsna, the more perfect you become in devotional service. Krsna is unlimited, so your anxiety to serve Him will become unlimited. There will be a competition: the more you serve Krsna, the more He will accept your service and the more He will give you the intelligence to serve Him better. The spiritual world is unlimited. There is no end of service, and there is no end of accepting service.
I will give you evidence from Srila Rupa Gosvami, our predecessor spiritual master. He says, krsna-bhakti-rasa-bhavita matih kriyatam yadi kuto 'pi labhyate: "My dear gentlemen, if you can purchase a sense of loving Krsna—an anxiety to love Krsna more and more—then please immediately purchase it."
"All right," you may say, "I shall purchase it. But what is the price?"
Laulyam, says Rupa Gosvami. "Simply your eagerness, that's all."
This eagerness to love Krsna is not available even after many, many lives of pious activity. So if you have a pinch of that anxiety to serve Krsna, you should know that you're most fortunate. Even if you have only a pinch of anxiety to serve Krsna, He will give you the intelligence to serve Him more and more. Krsna can understand everything. He's within me; he's within you. So he says in the Bhagavad-gita [10.10],
"To anyone who is engaged with love and affection in My service, without any hypocrisy, I give the intelligence by which he can come back to Me." And what profit will you get by going back to Krsna? Yad gatva na nivartante: once going back to Krsna's abode, you will never return to this miserable material world. Please read Bhagavad-gita As It Is. You'll get perfect knowledge of the science of God, the only subject necessary for human beings to study.
So, great eagerness to serve Krsna is the perfection of Krsna consciousness. Increase that eagerness, and Krsna will enlighten you. He will help you advance in Krsna consciousness, and your life will be successful .
Yoga Or Hypnotherapy ?
Which process can help you go deep enough within to overcome all your addictions—for good ?
What follows is a conversation between Srila Hamsaduta Swami, one of the spiritual masters in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, and Dr. Leonardo L. Bascara, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of the Philippines and a specialist in hypnosis.
Dr. Bascara: There are many theories concerning hypnosis, but the one I favor most talks about the principle of conditioning, the conditioning of the mind. Suppose you're a fellow who is suffering from bad habits like chainsmoking and heavy drinking. I can recondition your mind and body so you give up the cigarettes and the alcohol. I can cure the body's addictions.
Srila Hamsaduta Swami: Suppose someone is a smoker and a drinker and then through hypnotic suggestion you get him to give up these two habits. Will he form another habit? In other words—
Dr. Bascara: It depends. Yes, this is a very good question.
Srila Hamsaduta Swami: You see, our understanding is this: People take to various types of sense gratification, as we call it . . .
Dr. Bascara: Sense gratification.
Srila Hamsaduta Swami: . . . because they identify with the body. An average person thinks of himself as his body or his mind. These are the two identities common in the conditioned state. Actually, the Bhagavad-gita and other scriptures call the materialistic man a "conditioned soul."
Dr. Bascara: Conditioned soul?
Srila Hamsaduta Swami: Yes. The soul, in his original state, is not under any conditions: he is free—free from the influence of the material body and mind. But when he enters the material world he becomes conditioned by the body and the mind and identifies with them. This is frustrating—because we're not the body, not the mind—and that frustration is then exhibited as addiction to various types of sense gratification. Do you follow?
My question is this: When you give a patient a hypnotic suggestion and he gives up some bad habit, does he then develop another bad habit? This would seem likely, since his frustration must remain unless he gets higher knowledge of his real identity as a spiritual being separate from matter, separate from the body.
Dr. Bascara: That's precisely why we first have to do psychoanalytic evaluation. I have to analyze my client to find out why he chain-smokes and why he drinks a lot of alcoholic beverages. These activities are symptoms of an underlying condition. So I try to find out the root cause of the problem.
Srila Hamsaduta Swami: Right.
Dr. Bascara: My principle is that if I remove the drinking and the smoking by straight hypnotic suggestion, it is just like removing the weeds in your garden. If you don't dig out the roots, after one or two weeks there will be weeds again. So if I don't find out the root cause of your bad habits, they will come back, perhaps in another form. I may remove your smoking, I may remove your excessive drinking, but you will go to gambling.
Srila Hamsaduta Swami: Exactly. Therefore we begin with this premise: The living entity is not a product of gross matter—earth, water, fire, air, ether—nor is he a product of mind or intelligence. The living entity, whose symptom is consciousness, is a substance categorically separate from what we know as the material, phenomenal world, which includes mind and intelligence. According to Bhagavad-gita, mind is also a material substance, but it is very subtle. For example, radio waves—
Dr. Bascara: Yes, they're invisible.
Srila Hamsaduta Swami: We can't see them, but if we have a radio we can manifest them as sound. So the mind also produces forms, which are known as brain waves. The Bhagavad-gita says that all these things are matter. They fall into the category of what is called apara prakrti, the inferior nature. And Bhagavad-gita also says, "Besides this inferior nature there is another nature, which is called para, superior." The difference between the two natures is that one is mutable and the other is not. Para prakrti, the living force that animates all matter, cannot be adulterated or changed, whereas the material force, the inferior energy, can be changed. For instance, wood can burn and change to fire, water can evaporate and change into steam.
Dr. Bascara: Or change to ice.
Srila Hamsaduta Swami: So everything of this phenomenal world has the quality of mutability, but the living force cannot be changed. It can be covered but not changed. The whole of Vedic wisdom begins with this understanding: The living force, which is known as para prakrti or the jivatma or, in English, the soul or spirit, is the essential thing within matter. Matter, in and of itself, has no independent creative power. For example, an air conditioner has no power in and of itself to cool a room; it's the electricity, the superior energy, that produces the cooling effect by working through the air conditioner. Or take a light bulb. The light bulb in and of itself cannot illuminate; it's the electric force that creates the illumination by passing through the bulb.
Similarly, whether in the form of a human being or beast or bird or insect or plant, matter has no life in and of itself. The life is the soul, the superior energy, or consciousness. The body is an expression in time and space of the conditioning that the soul has accepted. So a person in the material concept of life—whether the bodily concept or the 'mental concept—must be frustrated, because he thinks of himself in terms of matter, which in fact he's not.
A person is not the material body, any more than I am my shirt. My shirt is merely a garment for my body, a covering I will eventually discard. Bhagavad-gita says, "As a man gives up old and useless clothes and gets new ones, the soul gives up an old and useless body and gets a new one." Life is evolving, but not exactly as Darwin suggested—by mutation of matter. Rather the soul, the living force, evolves as his original consciousness becomes progressively uncovered. As you know, when a person's consciousness changes so do his external features. His body changes, his speech changes, his habits change, and so on.
The root cause of all man's problems be they sensual, mental, or intellectual, is his misidentification with matter, with his body and mind. Therefore it seems that if you leave this basic misconception intact, even though you may cure a man's drinking habit, smoking habit, or whatever, his frustration will come out in another way. This is the problem.
Dr. Bascara: Yes, if the problem is not completely resolved, then another symptom might come out; But if you are able to resolve most or all of the complex, then you may not expect other problems to come out after you have controlled the drinking and smoking.
Srila Hamsaduta Swami: Then it seems you are involved in a process of deconditioning the patient. And for that, yoga is ideal. You know about yoga?
Dr. Bascara: Oh, yes.
Srila Hamsaduta Swami: Yoga is a process of deconditioning—dissolving those conditions that we have accepted as real but that are in fact unreal.
Dr. Bascara: I see.
Srila Hamsaduta Swami: Of course, there are different types of yoga, but ultimately the basic principle is to purify the mind so we can understand our pure spiritual identity. Yogis want to go beyond the mind, beyond even the intellect, to the very root of life, the soul. They want to awaken the soul rather than deal exclusively with the mind, which has both conscious and subconscious aspects. They want to awaken the soul, the witness of the mind and intelligence.
As long as we are in material consciousness we will act mechanically, according to the dictates of the mind and senses. But through yoga a person can become enlightened to understand that all the actions and reactions of his mind, whether conscious or subconscious, and of his senses, which are reacting to the external environment—all these things are material and therefore separate from the soul. When a person understands this he can pass through life without anxiety, and he becomes free from fear, lamentation—
Dr. Bascara: He has peace of mind and security.
Srila Hamsaduta Swami: Yes, he becomes free from material desire. This is called the brahma-bhuta stage. In this state of consciousness a person doesn't desire anything material, nor does he feel any unhappiness if he loses something, because he knows that nothing material, whether gross or subtle, has anything to do with his essential being, the spirit soul, which is separate from this world.
Dr. Bascara: Actually, in my lectures about hypnosis or hypnotism, I'm really speaking about nothing but conditioning and deconditioning. I hypnotize you, and I dehypnotize you. I think yoga has some of the qualities of hypnosis.
Srila Hamsaduta Swami: This is the difference: A yogi goes beyond the mind to the soul. He aims for the soul.
Dr. Bascara: In yoga there is the spiritual aspect. In my hypnotherapy there is more of a mental aspect.
Srila Hamsaduta Swami: The way I understand it, those who deal with hypnosis, psychiatry, or psychology try to adjust the patient to fit into certain conditions of the material world, but transcendentalists advise: "Never mind. Leave all these conditions; simply rise above them. Try to understand that whatever conditions may have been imposed on you in the past, either with or without your knowledge, are material and therefore extraneous to your real, spiritual nature. So let these conditions come and go." That is the difference between the psychiatrists and the transcendentalists.
We say that ultimately every material condition, even if seemingly good, peaceful, and favorable, is not permanent and therefore cannot bring us the state of permanent satisfaction and happiness we are searching for. What is that state? We want to live permanently, we want to know everything, and we want to be happy without any interruption, perpetually. This is called sac-cid-ananda. Sat means "eternity," cit means "knowledge," and ananda means "bliss." We always want bliss. We don't want any pain, unhappiness, or frustration.
Those who follow the Bhagavad-gita philosophy don't want to make any adjustment to this world: they want to leave it altogether. They know it is impossible to be happy even under the best of circumstances, because there is always birth, old age, disease, and ultimately death. As Bhagavad-gita says, life in this world is temporary and miserable.
Those who have not grasped this essential truth are trying somehow to adjust to the material atmosphere, either by medicine, by politics, by economics, by psychiatry, or by some other method. But you cannot be happy here, because everything material will fade away and vanish. So accepting this temporary existence as reality is the root cause of man's dissatisfaction, in any shape or form. As Bhagavad-gita points out, material life is not our real life but a kind of imitation life. For example, a sleeping man dreams that he's awake, but he's not awake. He can understand that he's sleeping only when he actually wakes up. Then he sees he was dreaming. Similarly, the Vedic wisdom tells us that this sensual and mental and intellectual existence we are now experiencing is a kind of dream; our real existence is beyond that. It is beyond the senses, beyond the mind, and beyond the intelligence. It is in the realm of the spirit. So the sum and substance of all yogic practice is to be liberated from this material existence and to attain to our original spiritual existence.
It's imperative for you to read our Bhagavad-gita, because it will give you insight that can help you unlimitedly in your work.
Dr. Bascara: I think the psychiatrist or psychoanalyst deals quite a bit with the spiritual aspects of life. We are learning a lot about philosophy and the spiritual aspects of being, existential phenomena, by delving into the mind.
Srila Hamsaduta Swami: But after all, we have to ask. What is the cause of the mind? What produces the mind? Where does the mind come from?
Dr. Bascara: The soul?
Srila Hamsaduta Swami: Yes, the soul. If we rise to that platform, we will have a complete picture of our real situation. Then we can deal with everything sensual, mental, and intellectual, because we will be on the true platform of existence, which is spiritual. When we dare to step up to this platform, everything will be clear.
The mind and intelligence also have form. Just as the gross body has form, the mind also has form, and when the gross form is destroyed, the subtle form remains. According to Bhagavad-gita, the perceptions of the gross senses—our experiences of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching—are all impressed on the subtle form, which we call the mind. And at the time of death this subtle form carries us to our next body. The subtle form creates our next gross form.
Dr. Bascara: The next body.
Srila Hamsaduta Swami: The next body. For example, the shirt you are wearing is a product of your desire. You have certain tastes, so you buy a certain style of clothing and put it on your body. Similarly, the mind contains all your desires, and those desires are exhibited in the material world in the form of your gross body. Bhagavad-gita says, "Whatever state of being one fixes his mind upon when he leaves his body, that state he will attain without fail." And in another place: "The living entity carries his conceptions of life from one body to another just as the air carries aromas." When the air passes over a garland, the air smells very sweet, but when it passes over garbage, it smells foul. We know that the air itself doesn't smell sweet or foul but that in contact with certain objects it takes on certain smells. Similarly, when the soul comes in touch with this phenomenal world it takes on certain conceptions and qualities. All these conceptions and qualities taken together comprise the material mind, which then exhibits those conceptions and qualities in gross matter, in the shape of our body.
The purpose of yoga is to purify the mind of all material conceptions and qualities and to rise to the platform of transcendental experience, where there is no influence of time or space and where everything exists permanently. Because ordinary men are generally ignorant about their existential situation, they are always bewildered and frustrated. Then they take shelter of various addictions and habits in hopes of escaping the frustrations and miseries of material existence. Since all this is a result of ignorance, the cure for all the ills of humankind is the enlightenment that comes with complete knowledge—knowledge that is available in the Bhagavad-gita, and in other Vedic literatures.
Your therapy shouldn't stop with hypnotic adjustments. It should go further. If you come to the ultimate root of all existence, the generating source of all phenomena—whether sensual, mental, or intellectual—then you will be able to provide a permanent cure for all diseases, not just temporary relief of some symptoms.
Today medical science provides at best only temporary relief for people's miseries. It cannot provide a permanent cure, because it is ignorant of the root cause of all disease: our misidentification with the material body and mind. The wisdom of the Bhagavad-gita and all other Vedic literatures says that the real solution to our problem lies in learning how to give up attachment for material life altogether. Why? Because if at the end of life (which everyone must come to) we have not learned how to give up attachment for material activities and material enjoyment, then our mind will drag us to another body, and we will have to repeat the same struggle: birth, old age, disease, and death.
Dr. Bascara: Is that the same as reincarnation?
Srila Hamsaduta Swami: Yes. Even if a person is perfectly adjusted in this life, he cannot get away from birth, old age, disease, and death. The Bhagavad-gita advises that somehow or other we learn the art of giving up attachment for material existence, which in any shape or form is miserable. Whether one is a king, a sweeper, a doctor, or a patient, one is subject to four miseries: birth, old age, disease, and death. We want to be deathless, we want to be full of knowledge, and we want to be full of pleasure. But in the material atmosphere we are subject to death, we are full of ignorance, and we are miserable, because we are identifying ourselves with matter, with our material body and mind. Bhagavad-gita explains that we can attain the state of eternal bliss and knowledge only by going back to the spiritual atmosphere, and that is possible only by the deconditioning process known as yoga—the science of God consciousness.
Devoted disciples carry on their spiritual master's work.
By Jayadvaita Swami
He finished more than half the work, but then he passed away. It was his life's work—a full translation of Srimad-Bhagavatam, the ripe fruit of Vedic knowledge, with an elaborate commentary. It was to have been sixty volumes. Twelve cantos, translated from ancient Sanskrit into modern English for the benefit of the modern world.
He finished nine cantos, and then, at the age of 80, his health failing, he embarked on the tenth. He had begun the work in 1960, in India. Now he was reaching its essence—the Tenth Canto, the description of Krsna's pastimes. But in 1977, in Vrndavana, the place most sacred to Lord Krsna, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada passed away from this world. And his great literary achievement, his momentous work of translation and commentary, lay still unfinished. His dictaphone, with which he'd dictated a final chapter even while on his deathbed, would never be used again.
I couldn't believe it. I for one had always felt sure that somehow Srila Prabhupada would never leave before finishing his Bhagavatam. It was almost like a guarantee—as long as the Bhagavatam was unfinished, Srila Prabhupada would never leave us.
But now he was gone. And what would become of his work?
In his final days, Srila Prabhupada told us he wanted the work to go on. A Sanskrit-knowing disciple should finish the book. Not only that, but it should be done richly, in depth—each verse should have a full, satisfying explanation, or purport. He had given his Bhaktivedanta purports in the volumes he had finished. And now the purports should continue. But a year passed or more, and no one seriously took up the work.
Then one of Srila Prabhupada's closest disciples, Srila Hridayananda dasa Goswami, thought of putting himself to the challenge. He had never formally studied Sanskrit—but he knew the Sanskrit basics, he had something of a genius for languages, and he thought he could learn whatever he still needed to know. And most important, he had been studying Prabhupada's books for the past thirteen years and working devotedly in Srila Prabhupada's service. So he felt that by following in Srila Prabhupada's footsteps he could take on the task.
He discussed the idea with Srila Prabhupada's other leading disciples. The work would be difficult—from a material view, almost impossible. To master classical Sanskrit, pore through the commentaries, and render the text into English—it could take decades. But he was enthusiastic, and they were hopeful. So in 1979, at the yearly meeting of Srila Prabhupada's senior devotees, the movement's Governing Body gave Srila Hridayananda Maharaja their blessings : Yes, he should take up the work.
Hridayananda Maharaja threw himself into Sanskrit. For many years, his main service had been as a front-lines organizer and preacher, actively spreading Krsna consiousness. In the early 1970's , when the Krsna consciousness movement had had nothing much going in Latin America, Srila Hridayananda Maharaja had moved in and started twenty-five Latin American centers for Krsna. He had put together two entire publishing companies to translate Srila Prabhupada's books into Spanish and Portuguese and get them printed and into people's hands. And all the while he had traveled and preached, without letting up.
Over the years, as the movement in Latin America had flourished, Hridayananda Maharaja had handed over to other devotees the management of the Hare Krsna centers. Now he was directly managing only the centers in Brazil. But by now there were nearly a dozen, and that in itself was a full-time job.
On top of all this, Srila Hridayananda Maharaja was one of the select group of senior disciples chosen to begin the work of initiating more disciples after Srila Prabhupada's departure. By 1979, he was the spiritual master of over seven hundred disciples, all of them depending on his guidance for their progress in spiritual life.
Yet now Srila Hridayananda Maharaja took the Bhagavatam to be his most important work. He polished his grammar and spent hours and hours carefully studying Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavatam volumes, committing to memory the way Srila Prabhupada translated each word. He gathered devotees who had studied Sanskrit for several years, and together they studied Sanskrit and the Bhagavatam.
Within a year, he was linguistically sure in what he was doing. Now he felt at home with the Bhagavatam in its original Sanskrit, and with the Sanskrit commentaries as well. And, more important, because he was following Srila Prabhupada, he could clearly understand the spiritual ideas that are the essence of what the Bhagavatam is all about. He was ready.
Teaming up with another devotee, Gopi-paranadhana dasa, he began his work of translation. Gopi-paranadhana had been the Sanskrit proofreader for Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavatam volumes. A former linguistics major at Columbia, where he had studied Chinese and Russian, he became a devotee in 1973, soon after his graduation, and began working for Srila Prabhupada's books. "Actually", he says, "that's how I learned Sanskrit—by proof-reading Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavatams. "
Although Srila Prabhupada had left off near the beginning of the Tenth Canto, the new translators began their work with the Eleventh. Srila Prabhupada had foreseen that he might not live to finish the entire Bhagavatam.
So in 1969, while still working on the Third Canto, he had gone directly to the Tenth and written a summary of the entire canto—Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead. ("The Krsna Book," he usually called it.) Here he presented the full account of Krsna's pastimes, following the Bhagavatam verse by verse, all the while melding in his own comments, helping the reader understand the transcendental nature of Krsna's divine and mysterious activities. Unlike the rest of Prabhupada's Bhagavatam, the Krsna Book took the form of a straight narrative, without the elaborate Sanskrit-English format for each verse. Yet the book was complete in itself; by reading this book, one could come to understand Krsna and relish His sublime pastimes.
The Tenth Canto, then, was already available. So Hridayananda Maharaja decided to begin with the Eleventh. Then he would proceed to the Twelfth, the final canto, and finally return to the Tenth Canto for an in-depth verse-by-verse presentation. This would complete Srila Prabhupada's great work.
And now the first volume has appeared, to the applause of devotees and academic scholars alike. This is Dr. Alex Wayman, Professor of Sanskrit at Columbia: "It is indeed gratifying that the monumental work on the Srimad- Bhagavatam by the late lamented Bhaktivedanta Swami is being completed with the same splendid standard by his devoted and trained students."
And Dr. Shaligram Shukla, Professor of Sanskrit and Linguistics at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.: "They have translated each verse with clarity and directness, and with the same authenticity and power as before. The commentary is comprehensive, penetrating, and illuminating."
And devotees have been overwhelming in their appreciation. Some devotees had been frankly skeptical. "The work should be completed," they'd thought, "but personally we won't be so interested in reading it. We'll go on reading Prabhupada's books, and the other books can just roundout the set." But when they read the first volume their hearts changed. Although this was not directly Srila Prabhupada's writing, it was so faithful to Prabhupada's style and spirit, and so rich in insight gained from the commentaries, that devotees felt completely satisfied: Srila Prabhupada, by his mercy, was giving Srila Hridayananda Maharaja the power to continue the Bhagavatam as he himself, Srila Prabhupada, would have desired.
And this in fact was Srila Hridayananda Maharaja's desire. "Our intention," he writes in his Preface, "has been always to serve faithfully the lotus feet of our spiritual master, carefully trying to translate and comment exactly as he would have, thus preserving the unity and spiritual potency of this edition of Srimad-Bhagavatam."
Following in Srila Prabhupada's footsteps, the new translators draw their purports from the commentaries of the great acaryas, or predecessor spiritual masters—the same commentaries Srila Prabhupada consulted for his Bhaktivedanta purports.
It is Srila Hridayananda Maharaja who gives the new purports their ultimate shape. From the wealth of Sanskrit comments, he carefully chooses the most important ideas, to help the readers best understand the rich meaning of the text.
To give the reader further help, he also weaves in relevant comments Srila Prabhupada himself has given in other portions of the Bhagavatam. And occasionally he adds his own practical insights, derived from his wide experience as a Krsna conscious preacher.
The result? A work that is authentic, scholarly, enlightening, eminently lively, and a joy to read. And most important of all, it is a work of pure devotional service, a work meant to please Srila Prabhupada, who dedicated his life to giving Srimad-Bhagavatam to the world. "Our present insignificant attempt," writes Srila Hridayananda Maharaja, "is simply to complete his translation and commentary, and we are constantly praying for his guidance so that this work can be completed exactly as he would have desired."
And completed it soon will be. Srila Hridayananda Maharaja has already finished the Eleventh Canto and gone halfway through the Twelfth. The work is going ahead so rapidly that by the time you read this article he may have already finished the Twelfth Canto and have the Tenth well under way.
Srila Hridayananda Maharaja is certainly receiving Srila Prabhupada's transcendental guidance and blessings. Because of his faithful dedication to fulfilling Srila Prabhupada's desires, we can eagerly look forward to seeing the entire Srimad-Bhagavatam in print and relishing in its fullness this ripest, most nectarean fruit of the tree of Vedic knowledge.
On Improving the Material World.
The following conversation between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his disciples took place in July 1975 on an early-morning walk in Los Angeles.
Devotee: Srila Prabhupada, what is the qualification for going to the spiritual world?
Srila Prabhupada: The first qualification is to always remember that this material world is a place of misery (duhkhalayam). Then you can go to the spiritual world. As long as you think, "Oh, this material world is very nice," you have to remain here.
Devotee: Yesterday in your lecture you gave the example of Queen Kunti, who prayed that calamities would happen to her again and again so that she would realize what a terrible place this material world is and remember Krsna.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, this is intelligence. When one concludes, "This material world is worthless"—that is real knowledge. As long as one thinks, "No, it is not always bad; sometimes it is very good"—that is ignorance.
Devotee: I often meet people who say that without the bad, the good wouldn't be as good.
Srila Prabhupada: That is the logic of the criminal who is dunked into water as a punishment. The authorities catch him and put him down into the water, and when he is nearly suffocated they raise him a little and he says, "Ohhh, this is so nice!" But then he is immediately pushed down into the water again.
So the good and bad of this material world are like that. People are put into the water and suffocated, and when they are taken out a little they say, "Ahhhh, this world is very nice." The rascals do not know that the next moment they are going to nearly drown. So unless we remember how suffocating the material world is, we are not fit for going back to Godhead. We must completely detest this world. If we keep just a little attachment for it—"Oh, sometimes it is very good here"—we have to remain.
Devotee: Is it true that Krsna will take everything away from a devotee who still has some material attachment?
Srila Prabhupada: That is Krsna's special favor. That is not an ordinary favor. When Krsna sees that His devotee is maintaining some material attachment. He says, "This fool wants Me, but at the same time he wants to stay in the material world. So let Me take away all his material possessions so that he will want only Me." This was done to me; I have practical experience. I did not want to take sannyasa [the renounced order of life]; I thought I would do business. But Krsna forced me to take sannyasa, and my business was dismantled.
Devotee: Srila Prabhupada, does Krsna engage the material nature to beat us and kick us so that we will surrender to Him?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Material nature's only business is beating us and kicking us. But we are so foolish that we think, "This kicking is very nice." That is our disease—we accept the kicking as very nice. We are always suffering three kinds of disturbances: adhyatmika, adhibhautika, and adhidaivika. These are disturbances caused by our own body and mind, disturbances caused by other living entities, and disturbances caused by the demigods, like severe weather or famine. We are always suffering from some disturbance, yet still we are thinking this material world is very nice, and we are trying to improve it. That is foolishness. The disturbances will always continue, so what is the meaning of improvement?
For example, now the scientists are trying to make some improvement in agricultural production. But how long will this improvement last? If there is no rainfall how will all their "improvements" help? The rainfall is not in their hands; that is adhidaivika: it depends on the demigods. If the demigods want, they can completely stop the rain. So what is all this nonsensical "improvement"?
Krsna says this material world is a place that is meant for misery. So how will you improve it? "Yes," the scientists say, "we are advancing. In the future people will live eternally; nobody will die." This is folly, illusion. People who are trying to do something that is impossible are fools, mudhas. Their mentality is like that of the ass. The master sits on the back of the ass and hangs a bunch of grass in front of him. The ass thinks, "I'll get it," and walks on and on. "If I just walk a little forward," he thinks, "I shall get the grass." He has no brain to see that he'll never get the grass—that as he is moving the grass is also moving.
So, the scientists are just like the ass. They do not see how foolish their "improvements" are. For example, now we have manufactured so many airplanes. It was thought, "Within two hours we shall be able to go many hundreds of miles. This is very nice." But there are so many dangers in an airplane. Now there is the problem of how to protect us from accidents. So what is the improvement? The improvement is that now two hundred men at a time can die all together. This is the improvement. What a horrible civilization!
Devotee: But someone may say, "You say this is a horrible civilization. So why don't you withdraw from it? Why don't you live by yourselves on a farm somewhere instead of in the cities, using the same cars and airplanes that we use?"
Srila Prabhupada: People are suffering for want of Krsna consciousness, so we are trying to make them Krsna conscious. That is our only interest in the material world. Otherwise, we have no interest in staying here. We are not social workers or political workers: we are Krsna's workers. We advise people: "Become Krsna conscious and all your problems will be solved." That is our duty—to advise them, to convince them, to give them all facilities to become Krsna conscious. But if they still do not take the medicine, what can be done? They will go on suffering. These rascals who have the idea that by "improvements" they will be happy in this material world—they will never understand Krsna consciousness.
A look at the worldwide activities of the
Hare Krsna Movement Expands Spiritual Leadership
Mayapur, India—This rural village ninety miles north of Calcutta has always been of central importance to the Hare Krsna movement. The great saint and divine incarnation Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu took His birth here 496 years ago, and it was here that He later began teaching the congregational chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra as the best way to attain love of God. Today, the Krsna Consciousness Society's Governing Body Commission (GBC), a group of twenty-two senior disciples His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada designated as the Society's "ultimate managing authority," meets here annually to chart the course of the Society for the coming year.
This year the GBC made two decisions that expand the Society's spiritual leadership. First, to three of Srila Prabhupada's closest disciples they gave their blessings to begin accepting disciples. (These three will thus join ten others who have been initiating disciples since Srila Prabhupada passed away in 1977.) Second, the GBC gave the go-ahead for some two dozen seasoned preachers to enter the renounced order, sannyasa. A sannyasi cuts off all worldly attachment to family, wealth, and home and dedicates his life to maintaining the strictest standards of Krsna consciousness and preaching Krsna consciousness throughout the world.
The first of the new spiritual masters is His Divine Grace Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami. Born into a family of Krsna's devotees in Manipur, India, some forty-five years ago, Srila Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami distinguished himself as an accomplished scholar. He received his B.S. in chemistry, with first-class honors, from Gauhati University and his Master of Technology degree, with first-class honors, from Calcutta University. Later he earned his Ph.D. in Physical Organic Chemistry from the University of California at Irvine. (It was while studying there in 1970 that he met Srila Prabhupada and became his disciple.) Today, Srila Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami makes good use of his academic achievements as director of the Bhaktivedanta Institute, the Hare Krsna movement's center for the advanced study of the nature and origin of life. In books, pamphlets, and scientific forums, the members of the BI challenge the predominant mechanistic world view of modern science and present the non-mechanistic science of Krsna consciousness. Fundamental Principles of Reincarnation and The Scientific Basis of Krsna Consciousness are two of the many works he has written under the banner of the BI. In addition to heading up the BI, he oversees the movement's activities in his native Manipur and nearby areas. He has just opened a gurukula school in Manipur—a school that will teach children reading, writing, arithmetic, and the other usual subjects, along with the science of Krsna consciousness.
The second new spiritual master is His Divine Grace Gopala Krsna Goswami. Born in Delhi in 1946, he earned his B.A. at Delhi University, and then went on to the Sorbonne for a postgraduate business degree. A master's from McGill, in Montreal, rounded out his academic laurels. He met Srila Prabhupada in Montreal in 1968 and soon became his disciple. Seeing and later pioneered the large-scale publishing, printing, and distribution of Krsna conscious books in Indian languages. Today, besides overseeing the affairs of the Hare Krsna movement in Canada, Seattle, and northern and western India, he runs the western Indian branch of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, which publishes Krsna conscious books and magazines in Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, and English.
His Divine Grace Pancadravida Swami is the third new spiritual master. In 1966 he graduated with honors from the University of Southern California, earning a degree in English literature, and after a period of spiritual searching began a career in Krsna consciousness that would span the globe. He met Srila Prabhupada in Bombay in 1971 and took spiritual initiation. Then for a year and a half Srila Pancadravida Swami helped the Society's fledgling project at Bombay's Juhu Beach. From there it was on to a preaching tour of southern India until 1974. Bangkok was his next assignment, then Hong Kong, and then Los Angeles in late 1975. From there he went to Argentina for a year and a half, spreading Krsna consciousness in a land torn by political instability and violence. Today Srila Pancadravida Swami oversees the affairs of the Hare Krsna movement in Mexico, Central America, Colombia, and Ecuador.
The Karma Free Diet
More than just vegeterianism: a way of eating that's a form of meditation and worship.
by Visakha-devi dasi
Question: I've heard of diets that are fat-free, salt-free, cholesterol-free—but what's a karma-free diet ?
Answer: The Sanskrit word karma means "action" or, more specifically, any material action that gives us a material reaction and thus binds us to the material world. So a karma-free diet is one that produces no material reaction; it's a sinless diet
Question: You think people can sin just by eating?
Answer: Oh yes, definitely. Sinning means breaking nature's laws (which are the laws of God). The cow eats grass and fodder, the tiger eats flesh, the rosebush gets nourishment from water and the minerals in the earth. These lower forms of life don't sin; they follow nature's laws automatically. But in human life we can transgress, bad karma, give us bad reactions—high blood pressure, high cholesterol in the blood, obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart attacks, psychological troubles, and so on. According to nature's laws, food for humans should be made from milk products, vegetables, grains, and fruits—not meat, fish or eggs.
Question: So vegetarians are sinless in their eating ?
Answer: No, not necessarily. All living things have a soul. So, whether you kill a cow or pick a cauliflower, you're killing. No doubt animals are higher on the evolutionary scale than plants, but killing is still killing, and it's sinful.
Question: I know a lot of people who would argue with you about animals and plants having a soul.
Answer: They may argue, but how do they know? What is the symptom of the soul's presence?
Answer: Yes, symptom. We can't see the soul directly, because it's a spiritual particle and a very small one at that. But we can understand that it's present by its symptom—consciousness. Animals are conscious. They feel fear, pain, affection, and hunger, just as we do. And scientists have shown that plants are also conscious. They respond to sunlight, warmth, music ; they grow around obstacles. So by these symptoms we can understand that the soul is present within animals, people, and plants, but it's covered in varying degrees.
Question: So if vegetarians are killing plants for their food and nonvegetarians are killing animals for their food, they're both sinful, right?
Answer: Right. But vegetarians have a better chance for making spiritual advancement.
Question: Why is that?
Answer: Because eating meat makes one merciless and hardhearted. It's much easier for a vegeterian to understand spiritual concepts and follow spiritual practices.
Question: But I don't exactly understand. You said that both plants and animals have a soul and that killing them is sinful—bad karma. So what's the idea of a karma-free diet? You're also killing the vegetables you eat.
Answer: Yes we are. By nature's laws, one living entity is food for another. Just to exist you must kill. But a devotee collects the fruits, grains, and other foods that Krsna likes, cooks them in a particular way, and offers them to krsna with love and devotion. When Krsna accepts such an offering, He also accepts whatever sinful reactions were incured in preparing the food. Then there's no karmic reaction when we eat it. On the contrary, we become purified by eating prasadam, food that's been offered to Lord Krsna.
Srila Prabhupada explains this karma-free principle with an analogy. He says that when a soldier kills under the command of a superior officer, he's not to be judged a criminal. But if a soldier kills on his own account, then he's certainly a criminal and subject to trial and punishment. Similarly, when we follow Krsna's desire and eat what's intended for us by the laws of nature, there's no reaction. But if we eat for our own sense enjoyment, forgetting Krsna, we're in for a reaction.
Question: That makes it clear, but what did you mean when you said "cooked in a particular way"?
Answer: Cooking in Krsna consciousness is a type of meditation and worship. Srila Prabhupada taught us to maintain a high standard of cleanliness in the kitchen, from the glisten on the bottom of the pans to the floor beneath our feet. Before entering the kitchen we make sure we're clean in body and in mind, and as we cook we think of pleasing Krsna—so there's no frivolous or unnecessary talking. And we never taste the dishes before they're offered: Krsna is the first to enjoy them.
Question: What happens to the soul in a vegetable—a cauliflower, say—that's been offered to Krsna?
Answer: I asked Srila Prabhupada that same question some years ago. He told me, "The soul gets liberation." I was too stunned and shy to pursue the point, but another devotee asked, "What kind of liberation does the soul get?" And Srila Prabhupada said, "It gets a human body, and from that point it can make further advancement in spiritual life."
Question: What if I don't believe anything you've told me?
Answer: That's your prerogative. We don't mind if you're skeptical, because we don't want blind followers. We want you to question and deliberate on the philosophy of Krsna consciousness as far as your reason and intelligence allow. But you shouldn't blindly reject this knowledge because it's foreign to you, because you didn't grow up with it. All we ask is that you simply try to hear with an open mind. I was also skeptical, even more than you. I argued with the devotees for a year before I finally admitted that what thev were saying made perfect sense—much more sense than what I was trying to say to them
(Recipes by Yamuna-devi dasi)
Mixed Vegetables in Seasoned Tomato Broth
This preparation is somewhat akin to vegetable soup. It is a classic favorite, yet it is simple to prepare and easy to digest. The ingredients are mentioned in sacred Vaisnava scriptures more than five hundred years old.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Ingredients for boiled vegetables:
1 ¼ pounds mixed, trimmed, cubed vegetables, such as stringbeans, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, spinach, cabbage, beets, squash, peas, and so on
Ingredients for preparing fried seasonings:
1 tablespoon ghee or vegetable oil
1. Combine all the vegetable ingredients in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a boil over high flame, reduce the flame to medium low, cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender. Remove the pan from the flame.
2. Heat the ghee or vegetable oil in a small saucepan over a medium-high flame, drop in the cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, black cumin seeds, freshly ground black pepper, and cassia leaf, and fry until the mustard seeds sputter and crackle. Pour the seasoning into the boiled vegetable, cover, and allow the seasonings to soak into the broth. In a few minutes, stir in the lemon juice and offer to Krsna
Chickpea, Eggplant, Spinach and Tomato Stew
(Kabli Chana Baigan Palak Tarkari)
Preparation time: 5 minutes
2/3 cup whole chickpeas (garbanzo beans) sorted, washed, soaked overnight in 2 cups water, and boiled until tender
1 pound fresh spinach, washed, drained, stemmed, and chopped (If you're using frozen spinach, thaw at room temperature, press the spinach between your palms to remove all excess water, and chop.)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1. Heat the ghee or vegetable oil in a heavy 4- or 5-quart saucepan (nonstick cookware is ideal) over medium to medium-high flame for 1 minute. Drop in the ginger root. seeded chilies, cumin seeds, and mustard seeds, and fry for about 30 to 45 seconds or until the cumin seeds turn golden brown. Add the curry leaves and asafetida powder, and then immediately add the eggplant cubes. Stir-fry for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the ghee or oil is absorbed into the eggplant and the cubes are brown.
2. Stir in the tomatoes, spinach, turmeric, salt, and half the fresh herbs. Then cook for about 5 minutes. Fold in the drained, cooked chickpeas. Now partially cover, reduce the flame to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes, or until the eggplant is buttersoft. If you want a drier vegetable, remove the lid, raise the flame to high, and quickly cook off the excess liquid. If you wish a pureed eggplant-and-tomato vegetable, cook over medium flame, stirring frequently to avoid scorching, until the spinach, eggplant, and tomatoes have merged into a thick velvety sauce. Before offering to Krsna, mix in the remaining fresh herbs, lemon juice, and sweetener.
"Absolute Is Sentient Thou Hast Proved..."
1935-1937: Bombay. A poem and a speech in praise of his spiritual master win Srila Prabhupada recogonition for his skill at presenting Krsna consciousness in English.
by Srila Satsvarupa dasa Goswami
After receiving spiritual initiation in 1932, Srila Prabhupada (then Abhay Charan De) sought to expand his pharmaceutical business both to support his family and to contribute to his spiritual master's preaching mission. Even more important to him, however, were the rare occasions when he could meet with his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's affectionate dealings with Abhay, his vast erudition in Krsna conscious philosophy, and his uncompromising attacks against casteism and cheating religionists impressed Abhay deeply and provided lasting inspiration for his own preaching work.
In 1933 business reverses prompted Abhay to leave his family at home in Allahabad for some time and try to set up a pharmaceutical business in Bombay. Simultaneously, he helped establish the Bombay branch of the Gaudiya Math, and in early 1935 he joined his Godbrothers there in celebrating Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's birthday
It was the sixty-second birthday of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. At Jagannatha Puri, where he was residing, the devotees observed the day with ceremony. At the small Bombay center, the few disciples planned an evening observance and invited local people. For the occasion, Abhay wrote a poem:
Adore adore ye all
Oh! my Master
Misled we are,
Message of service
Absolute is sentient,
Had you not come,
The line of service
Abhay also composed a speech, which he read before the assembled guests and members of the Gaudiya Math. Although his first language was Bengali, his English was clear and natural.
Gentlemen, the offering of such an homage as has been arranged this evening to the acaryadeva is not a sectarian concern, because when we speak of the fundamental principle of gurudeva or acaryadeva, we speak of something that is of universal application. There does not arise any question of discriminating my guru from yours or anyone else's. There is only one guru, who appears in an infinity of forms to teach you, me. and all others. The guru or acaryadeva, as we learn from the bona fide scriptures, delivers the message of the absolute world, the transcendental abode of the Absolute Personality, where everything nondifferentially serves the Absolute Truth.
Like the poem, the speech was personal, but even more than the poem it was authoritative, philosophical preaching. Abhay's Godbrothers were impressed to hear Abhay presenting the Vaisnava philosophy so expertly. How was it possible? Of course, it should not have come as a surprise; he had heard the Vaisnava philosophy from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, just like his Godbrothers. Why should he not be able to enunciate the teachings of his spiritual master, having heard from him and having read Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam and Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. Was he not a devotee in the parampara (disciplic succession)? But until now, no one knew he could preach in English so expertly.
Therefore, if the Absolute Truth is one, about which we think there is no difference of opinion, the guru also cannot be two. The acaryadeva for whom we have assembled tonight to offer our humble homage is not the guru of a sectarian institution or one out of many different exponents of the truth. On the contrary, he is the jagad-guru, or the guru of all of us. The only difference is that some obey him wholeheartedly, while others do not obey him directly.
The guru of whom Abhay spoke, ofcourse, was Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, the representative of the original compiler of the scriptures, Vyasadeva. Abhay explained how Lord Krsna had delivered transcendental knowledge to Brahma, the creator of this particular universe. From Brahma the knowledge had descended to Narada, from Narada to Vyasa, from Vyasa to Madhva . . . Because Srila Bhaktisiddhanta was presenting the Vedic knowledge as it is, without any interpretation—in parampara—he was the bona fide acarya (spiritual teacher and exemplar) who could enlighten others with the revealed knowledge of the Vedas. Abhay continued:
Gentlemen, our knowledge is so poor, our senses are so imperfect, and our sources are so limited that it is not possible for us to have even the slightest knowledge of the absolute region without surrendering ourselves at the lotus feet of Srila Vyasadeva or his bona fide representative.
This transcendental knowledge, Abhay explained, had been known in India for thousands of years, and this knowledge—although presently obscured—was India's real gift to the world.
We must conclude that the darkness of the present age is not due to lack of material advancement, but that we have lost the clue to our spiritual advancement, which is the prime necessity of human life and the criterion of the highest type of civilization. Throwing of bombs from aeroplanes is no advancement of civilization from the primitive, uncivilized way of dropping big stones on the heads of the enemies from the tops of the hills. Improvement of the art of killing our neighbors by inventing machine guns and by means of poisonous gases is certainly no advancement from primitive barbarism priding itself on its art of killing by bows and arrows, nor does the development of a sense of pampered selfishness prove anything more than intellectual animalism. ...
The speech continued, describing the horrible consequences of a misspent human life, the sufferings of repeated birth and death. Again and again, Abhay Stressed the need to surrender to the spiritual master. He criticized empirical, mundane philosophers, godless politicians, and blind sense gratifiers. He repeatedly pointed to the soul's natural and sublime position as the servant of God and as the servant of the pure devotee of God. Abhay, an initiated disciple of his spiritual master for a little more than two years, referring to himself as a student, continued:
Gentlemen, although we are like ignorant children in the knowledge of the transcendence, still His Divine Grace, my gurudeva, has kindled a small fire within us to dissipate the invincible darkness of the empirical knowledge, and we are so much on the safe side that no amount of philosophical argument of the empiric schools of thought can deviate us an inch from the position of our eternal dependence on the lotus feet of His Divine Grace—and we are prepared to challenge the most erudite scholars of the mayavada [impersonalistic] school on this vital issue: that the Personality of Godhead and His transcendental sports in Goloka [His spiritual abode] alone constitute the sublime information of the Vedas.
He then ended his speech with an eloquent prayer of submission.
Personally I have no hope of any direct service for the coming crores [millions] of births of the sojourn of my life, but lam confident that some day or other I shall be delivered from this fire of delusion in which I am at present so deeply sunk. Therefore, let me with all earnestness pray at the lotus feet of my divine master to let me suffer the lot which I am destined to for all my past misdoings, but let me have this power of recollection: that I am nothing but a tiny servant of the Almighty Absolute Godhead, realized through the unflinching mercy of my divine master. Let me therefore bow down at his lotus feet with all the humility at my command.
He submitted both the poem and the speech to The Harmonist (the English-language edition of Bhaktisiddhanta's magazine). The poem, Abhay's first publication, announced him as a competent writer in English, and Swami Bhaktipradipa Tirtha, editor of The Harmonist, informally dubbed Abhay as kavi, "learned poet." Some of Abhay's Godbrothers also picked up on the name and began calling him kavi. Most of them, even the sannyasis (advanced, renounced disciples), were not so proficient in English. But Abhay was not ordinary. They could appreciate that the poem was personal, written out of Abhay's genuine worship and his joy at having accepted a genuine spiritual master, but it was also written strictly in accord with the conclusions of the scriptures.
For Abhay, however, the glory of his "Sree Vyas Puja Homage" came when the poem reached Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and it gave him pleasure. One stanza specifically made Srila Bhaktisiddhanta so happy that he made a point of showing it to all of his guests.
Absolute is sentient,
Somehow, in this simple stanza Abhay had captured the essence of his spiritual master's preaching against the Mayavadis, and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta took it as an indication of how well Abhay knew the mind of his Gurudeva. Abhay was delighted when he heard that the couplet was pleasing to his spiritual master. One of Abhay's Godbrothers compared this verse by Abhay to a verse in which Rupa Gosvami had expressed the inner thinking of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and had thus moved Him to ecstasy.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati also found the essay pleasing, and he showed it to some of his confidential devotees. He instructed the editor of The Harmonist, "Whatever he writes, publish it."
* * *
Abhay thought it only natural that he should have many business enemies or competitors—it was a sign of success. But his Bombay competition caused him to lose another good chance to become wealthy. The "enemy" was the son of Abhay's supervisor at Smith Institute. Both son and father complained to the Smith Institute executives that Abhay was pushing goods from his own laboratory and not Smith's. By this intrigue, Abhay lost his position with Smith Institute, and his supervisor placed his own son as the new agent. Abhay was again on his own.
While continuing to help his sannyasi Godbrothers in Bombay, he found a two-story building for rent at Gawlia Tank Road. Everyone agreed it would make a suitable center, and Abhay arranged for the rental and for initial repairs and helped the sannyasis move in. It seemed that his endeavors for spiritual things were always more successful, whereas his business efforts were consistently failing. Of course, a few business enemies were no cause for discouragement—intrigues and losses were always part of the game, and he was still well known in the pharmaceutical business throughout India. But it. wasn't so much the give and take of business that disturbed him as his own doubts about whether this was the best way for him to serve his spiritual master. Business was good only if it could go side by side with his spiritual life. Lord Caitanya had said that the chanting of Hare Krsna could be spread to every town and village, and Abhay wanted to assist his spiritual master, in fulfilling that prophecy, especially by contributing money and helping establish centers. His earnings should not go solely, for his family.
Ideally, family life and spiritual life, should progress side by side. But the difficulty was Abhay's wife. She was disturbed over the business losses and apathetic to the spiritual successes. She wanted to stay within the orbit of home and family, and despite Abhay's suggestions she refused to accept initiation from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. It was his own wife who was his most formidable competitor. And she waged her opposition right in the home, where it was least welcome.
When Abhay occasionally visited his family in Allahabad, he tried to satisfy them with his good intentions. Business had not gone so well in Bombay, but he had new plans, and he assured his family that there was no need to worry. He planned to do more preaching in his home—the whole family could become more involved in spiritual activities. He wanted to invite guests, hold discussions on Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, perform kirtana (chanting of Hare Krsna), distribute prasadam (sanctified food). He wanted to preach, just as his spiritual master and Godbrothers were preaching. Such a program wouldn't require that a sannyasi or brahmacari (celibate student) come and preside. Abhay could do it himself. This would be an example of the ideal household life. But Abhay's wife, Radharani, was unsubmissive. Rather than coming to hear him speak, she stayed with the children in another room—taking tea.
While reading Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura's commentary on Bhagavad-gita (Second Chapter, forty-first verse), Abhay read that the disciple should consider the order of the spiritual master to be his life and soul. These words produced a deep effect on Abhay, strengthening his desire to execute Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati's command. And in the Eighty-eighth Chapter of the Srimad-Bhagavatam's Tenth Canto, he came upon a verse in which Lord Krsna said something that startled him:
"When I feel especially mercifully disposed towards someone, I gradually take away all his material possessions. His friends and relatives then reject this poverty-stricken and most wretched fellow." Abhay shuddered as he read the verse. It seemed to speak directly to him. But what did it mean? "Does it mean," he thought, "that Krsna will take away all my money?" Was that what was actually happening? Was that why his business plans were failing?
* * *
In July 1935, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati came to install the Deity of Lord Krsna and to institute Deity worship at the Bombay center. He was pleased with what his disciples had done so far, and Bhaktisaranga Maharaja admitted that much of the work was due to Abhay Babu, who had collected funds and established the new center. "Why is Abhay living separately?" Bhaktisaranga asked. "He should be president of this Bombay center."
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati replied, "It is better that he is living outside your company. He will do.'When the time comes, he will do everything himself. You don't have to recommend him."
Abhay had not been present when this was spoken, but his Godbrothers told him what Srila Bhaktisiddhanta had said. These words of his spiritual master, with their mysteriously prophetic air, were important to Abhay. He treasured the words within himself and meditated upon their meaning.
In November 1935 he was again with his spiritual master in Vrndavana. It was the Karttika season, the ideal time to visit Vrndavana, and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta was staying for a month with his disciples at peaceful Radha-kunda, the sacred lake where Radha and Krsna used to sport.
Having heard of his spiritual master's stay here, Abhay, bringing his son with him, had traveled from Bombay, just to see his spiritual master. To see Srila Bhaktisiddhanta was always an occasion for jubilation, but to see him in Vrndavana was an added perfection. This meeting with his beloved spiritual guide and friend was different from the time in 1932 when Abhay had seen him on the Vrndavana parikrama (circumambulation). Now Abhay was no longer sitting anonymously in the back of a room. Now he was a bonafide disciple, recognized as the "kavi" who had written the praiseworthy poem and essay, the young man who listened well, the devotee who had helped the Allahabad matha (center) and who had established the matha in Bombay. Already on this visit Abhay had had occasion to be alone with his spiritual master, who had remembered Abhay's son and presented him with a small bandhi (jacket). And now, as they walked together on the bank of Radha-kunda, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta turned and spoke confidentially to Abhay.
There had been some quarreling amongst his leading disciples in Calcutta, he said, and this distressed him very much. Even now, in Vrndavana, it weighed heavily on his mind. Some of his disciples had been fighting over who would use various rooms and facilities at the Gaudiya Math headquarters in Calcutta. These devotees were all members of the matha, and the building was for propagating Krsna consciousness under the leadership of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. Yet even in their spiritual master's presence they were quarreling. Brahmanas and Vaisnavas (devotees of Krsna) were supposed to be free from envy of any creature, what to speak of envy of one another. If they were to fight now, what would they do after their spiritual master passed away? Abhay had no part in these matters and did not even know the details or who was involved. But as he listened to his spiritual master, he also became distressed.
Deeply concerned, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta said to Abhay, "Rgun jvalbe": "There will be fire"—one day there would be fire in the Calcutta Gaudiya Math, and that fire of party interests would spread and destroy. Abhay heard but did not know what to make of it. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta had fought so long and boldly to establish that anyone of any birth could be elevated to become a brahmana, a sannyasi, or a Vaisnava. But if his followers became contaminated by a little wealth and the desire for prestige, thereby showing themselves to be still low-class men despite their training and purification, then his mission would be disrupted. If in the name of religion they became attached to ease, position, and prestige, it could only mean that they had failed to grasp the teachings of their spiritual master.
Srila Prabhupada: He was lamenting that these men are simply after the stones and bricks of the building. He condemned. He was very, very sorry.
"When we were living in a rented house," Srila Bhaktisiddhanta said, "if we could collect two hundred or three hundred rupees we were living very nicely at Ultadanga. We were happier then. But since we have been given this marble palace in Baghbazar, there is friction between our men. Who will occupy this room? Who will occupy that room? Who will be the proprietor of this room? Everyone is planning in different ways. It would be better to take the marble from the walls and secure money. If I could do this and print books, that would be better."
Abhay felt his spiritual master speaking to him in urgency, as if asking him to help avert a disaster. But what could he do?
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta then said directly to Abhay, "Amar iccha chila kichu bai karana": "I had a desire to print some books. If you ever get money, print books." Standing by Radha-kunda and beholding his spiritual master, Abhay felt the words deeply enter his own life—"If you ever get money, print books."
* * *
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta was in poor health at Jagannatha Puri. Abhay was in Bombay, and he wanted to write his Guru Maharaja a letter. "He is a little kind upon me," Abhay thought. "He will understand my request." And he began to write:
Dear Guru Maharaja,
Two weeks later, Abhay received a reply.
I am fully confident that you can explain in English our thoughts and arguments to the people who are not conversant with the languages of the other members.
Abhay at once recognized this to be the same instruction he had received at their first meeting, in 1922. He took it as a confirmation. There was now no doubt as to the purpose of his life. What his spiritual master had said in Calcutta in 1922 had not been a chance remark, nor had that been a chance meeting. The instruction was the same: "Turn yourself into a very good English preacher. This will do much good to yourself as well as your audience."
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura passed away from this mortal world on January 1, 1937.
The biography of Srila Prabhupada continues next month with an account of how he began BACK TO GODHEAD magazine singlehandedly.
Clearing up some misconceptions about "the Hindu trinity"
The three interesting-looking persons depicted here are Brahma, the world-creator, Visnu, the world-maintainer, and Siva, the world-destroyer. Perhaps you've heard them characterized in that very misleading cliche of introductory World Religions texts as "the Hindu trinity." And perhaps you're simply inclined to dismiss them as the fanciful projections of a primitive mythologizing imagination run riot. But, if you go to the proper sources, the venerable Vedic texts Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, you'll find Brahma, Visnu, and Siva accurately explained in the context of an exacting and comprehensive account of God and His creation, an account that is unrivaled in completeness and coherence by any other philosophical, scientific, or religious literature, and that is not only intellectually satisfying but also aesthetically captivating and spiritually fulfilling.
In Srimad-Bhagavatam you'll encounter the important distinction between the idea of "god" and the idea of "absolute truth." "God" refers to any powerful controller, while "absolute truth" designates the ultimate source of all energies. There can be many gods, many controlling departmental heads of universal affairs, but only one absolute truth. This absolute truth is ultimately a person—Krsna. From Krsna everything emanates; by Krsna everything is maintained; to Krsna everything returns at the time of dissolution. This is what is meant by "absolute truth." Anything that exists is either Krsna or an energy of Krsna's.
Krsna's main energies are three. His internal energy is manifest as the transcendent spiritual kingdom; His external energy, as the temporary material world. His marginal energy is comprised of all living creatures, the individual animate souls. Souls are "marginal" because they can dwell either in the spiritual kingdom, serving Krsna in bliss and knowledge, or in the material world, forgetting Krsna in darkness and suffering. The Sanskrit word for the soul is jiva ("living entity"), and the marginal energy is also called jiva-tattva, the category of the jiva.
Not only does Krsna expand through His energies, but He also expands Himself personally, directly. Krsna's direct, personal expansions are called visnu-tattva, the category of Godhead. Like the persons of the trinity in Christian doctrine, the visnu-tattva expansions are one, but because Krsna is unlimited, His personal expansions are not merely three but unlimited divine persons, all manifested to perform unlimited divine pastimes.
One of Krsna's pastimes is to emanate, sustain, and reabsorb the material creation in periodic cycles, and this Krsna does in the persons of Brahma, Visnu, and Siva, who are called guna-avataras. Material nature acts in three ways or modes (gunas). When there is creation—construction, generation, procreation, etc.—material nature acts in the mode of passion (rajo-guna). When there is sustenance—maintenance, preservation, endurance, etc.—nature is working in the mode of goodness (sattva-guna). When there is destruction—decay, dissolution, devastation, etc.—nature acts in the mode of ignorance (tamo-guna).
Brahma is the controller of nature in the mode of passion; he is the engineer who creates the universe. Every universe has its Brahma, who appears as the first created being in it. Although Brahma is usually in the category of jiva, he is designated an avatara (incarnation) of Krsna because he is especially empowered with Krsna's own creative potency. Using the ingredients furnished by Krsna and following Krsna's blueprints, Brahma constructs the material universe, and then he begets the offspring, called Prajapatis, whose descendants populate all the planets.
Visnu, who controls nature in the mode of goodness and sustains the creation, is directly the Supreme Lord. In the spiritual kingdom of God, where everything is everlasting, the quality of goodness exists without either passion or ignorance. Therefore it is appropriate that Visnu personally controls this quality even in the material world, where it becomes bracketed by ignorance and passion.
Siva, the lord of the mode of ignorance, devastates the universe at the end by his wild, all-annihilating dance. Siva is a personal expansion of Krsna, not a jiva, yet because he comes into intimate contact with the quality of ignorance and with matter (which is innately ignorant), you cannot receive the same spiritual restoration by worshiping him that you do by worshiping Krsna or Visnu. Siva is therefore given his own category, siva-tattva.
Srimad-Bhagavatam (2.7.39) sums it up like this: "In the beginning of creation there are penance, myself [Brahma], and the Prajapatis, the great sages who generate; then, during the maintenance of the creation, there are Lord Visnu, the demigods with controlling powers, and the kings of different planets. But at the end there is irreligion, and then Lord Siva and the atheists full of anger, etc. All of them are manifestations of the energy of the supreme power, the Lord.
I am familiar with the basic tenets of Krsna consciousness, perhaps the most essential being that the bodies of all living creatures contain a spirit soul, which is their real self and which transmigrates from body to body.
Recently I was reading a biology textbook and came to a section dealing with parthenogenesis, or reproduction by means of unfertilized eggs. I recalled your belief that the spirit soul enters the egg at the time of fertilization, being carried in the sperm cell, and that it is the soul which gives life to the fertilized egg. Quoting from the Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.31.1): "The living entity, the soul, is made to enter into the womb of a woman through the particle of male semen." In the purport, Srila Prabhupada restates this and expresses further: "This process is applicable to all embodied living entities," My understanding of this is that according to the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is not possible for a living being to develop unless an egg unites with a male sperm cell, which contains the soul.
This view, however, seems incompatible with parthenogenetic reproduction. Quoting from Biology, 1st edition, by H. Curtis, page 514:
Fertilization also activates the egg, initiating its development. However, a variety of artificial stimuli, including the prick of a needle—none of which contributes new material or new information to the egg cell—have been shown to activate eggs. In many species, including sea urchins, frogs, turkeys, and even rabbits, normal development can be completed in these fatherless organisms. In other words, as these experiments show, the egg alone contains everything necessary for development. Fertilization is not necessary for individual development but is important to the species.
How do you account for offspring produced parthenogenetically? Apparently they have either obtained a soul in some way contrary to that stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam, or they have no soul, which presents an even more serious discrepancy with Krsna conscious doctrine. I am very interested in knowing your view of this matter.
Our reply: The verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam you cite describes only the typical process of reproduction. It does not say there are no other forms of reproduction in the plant or animal kingdoms. All living organisms do have some form of sexual reproduction, and thus Srila Prabhupada is quite correct in saying that "this process is applicable to all embodied living entities." Even bacteria, which normally reproduce by dividing in half, do have a process of sexual reproduction, known as conjugation. As the example of bacteria indicates, however, there are also many processes of asexual reproduction. For example, everyone knows that many higher plants, such as strawberries, often reproduce asexually. Yet I do not think you can say that this contradicts the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
I do not know of any explicit references to parthenogenesis in the Bhagavatam, but there are references to unusual forms of reproduction that do not involve the combination of sperm and egg in the normal fashion. I will cite two examples.
The first is the case of Gandhari, who gave birth to one hundred sons. Srila Prabhupada, describing how these sons were born, comments on a verse in the Bhagavatam's First Canto (1.13.4): "[At first] she [Gandhari] gave birth to a lump of flesh only, but since she was a devotee of Vyasadeva, by the instruction of Vyasa-deva the lump was divided into a hundred parts, and each part gradually developed to become a male child." This is like producing many trees by planting branches taken from one tree. It goes without saying that the souls of the one hundred sons had to enter the one hundred pieces of flesh at some point. You should also note that since the one hundred embryos developed outside the womb, the Mahabharata (from which Srila Prabhupada draws the information about Gandhari) deserves priority for giving the earliest known report of test-tube babies.
The second example is the production of the dwarf Bahuka from the dead body of King Vena. The Srimad-Bhagavatam (4.14.43) relates, "After making a decision, the saintly persons and sages churned the thighs of the dead body of King Vena with great force and according to a specific method. As a result of this churning, a dwarf-like person was born from King Vena's body."
Here a viable human being was produced from a dead body that had been preserved from decay by a special process. Here again the soul entered its next body without the aid of seminal fertilization. The process seems similar to cloning, or the production of a complete individual from a single somatic cell of the parent organism.
In conclusion, the general principle for the reproduction of living organisms is that the souls are placed in appropriate bodies through the agency of higher authorities (demigods), who act in accordance with the law of karma. Thus, whether or not this process involves the union of a sperm and egg. it does not depend solely on simple physical interactions but involves the intervention of intelligent agents who function under the direction of the Supersoul, an expansion of Lord Krsna. This is indicated in the verse you cite (Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.31.1), where the soul is said to take on its new body "under the supervision of the Supreme Lord and according to the result of its work."
We welcome your letters. Write to BACK TO GODHEAD 51 West Allens Lane Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19119.
The Sanskrit language is rich in words to communicate ideas about spiritual life, yoga, and God realization. This dictionary, appearing by installments in BACK TO GODHEAD, focuses upon the most important of these words (and, occasionally, upon relevant English terms) and explains what they mean.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu—Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the great apostle of love of Godhead whose teachings form the essence of the present-day Hare Krsna movement. He taught that the highest object of worship, the Supreme Lord, is Lord Sri Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who appeared in Vrndavana as the son of Nanda Maharaja. Lord Caitanya recommended the way the damsels of Vrndavana worshiped Krsna as the highest mode of worship of God. The perfect, spotless literature for understanding God is the Srimad-Bhagavatam, or Bhagavata Purana. And the ultimate goal of life. Lord Caitanya taught, is pure love of God.
Lord Caitanya's life, which began in Bengal, India, in 1486, was one of extraordinary devotion to Krsna. At an early age, Lord Caitanya renounced the comforts of home to devote Himself exclusively to Krsna's service. He traveled throughout India, especially southern India, to teach the chanting of Hare Krsna and the science of devotion to Krsna. After these travels, He spent His last years in the holy city of Puri, in the province of Orissa, where He revealed the highest ecstasies of love of Godhead in the company of His most intimate disciples. He left the world at the age of 48.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada has described the life and teachings of Lord Caitanya in detail in his Teachings of Lord Caitanya and Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (an English translation, with commentary, of an early Bengali work).
Although Lord Caitanya presented Himself in the role of a devotee of Krsna, His followers accept Him to be identical with Krsna Himself. To teach the science of devotional service, to distribute love of Godhead, and to taste the sweetness of devotional service Himself, the Supreme Lord appeared on earth in the role of His own devotee. The scholarly followers of Lord Caitanya ascertained His true identity and supported this with evidence from Vedic literatures.
Although Lord Caitanya Himself was renowned as a great scholar, He left in writing only eight Sanskrit verses, which are known as the Siksastaka. These present the essence of His teachings. But Lord Caitanya also instructed His followers in the details of the science of devotion, and He requested them to write books to explain this science further. Lord Caitanya's followers, therefore, have "left the world a rich treasury of literature to help us reestablish our relationship with God, act in that relationship, and ultimately attain pure love of God.
The present Hare Krsna movement strictly follows the teachings of Lord Caitanya. It presents these teachings in books in an ever-growing number of languages and shows how to follow these teachings in the course of one's own life.
Caitanya-bhagavata—a famous book describing the pastimes of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. This biography of Lord Caitanya was written in Bengali by Srila Vrndavana dasa Thakura. It particularly describes Lord Caitanya's early years.
Caitanya-caritamrta—a biography of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu written by Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami. The author of Caitanya-bhagavata summarized Lord Caitanya's life and then proceeded to describe it in detail. But in due course the book became voluminous, so he left much of Lord Caitanya's later activities untouched. It is these activities that Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami therefore takes up in Caitanya-caritamrta. This book also most vividly describes Lord Caitanya's teachings. It is the best source of information about the teachings of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Krsnadasa Kaviraja wrote Sri Caitanya-caritamrta in his extreme old age. Because of some family disagreement, by Krsna's arrangement he had left home and gone to Vrndavana, the place on earth most sacred to Lord Krsna. The devotees there requested him to write down the later pastimes of Lord Caitanya, so at their request he wrote Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, a literary treasure of philosophy and devotion.
Caitanya-caritamrta is available in a seventeen-volume English edition with the original Bengali text, English equivalents for each Bengali word, and a translation and extensive commentary by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Why Teaching Only About Krsna Makes Sense
Observers of the Krsna Consciousness Society's educational system often admire the joyfulness of the Society's children, but they also sometimes criticize the devotees for teaching "only about Krsna." Of course, Krsna conscious students learn reading, writing, math, history, geography, science, and so on, but all in relation to Krsna. And there is an important reason for this—one that applies not only to children but to adults as well, and not only to followers of Krsna but to all living beings.
Everything animate and inanimate is ultimately related to Krsna. When people criticize Krsna conscious education as sectarian or narrow-minded because it excludes anything not connected to Krsna, they reveal their misunderstanding of what is meant by "Krsna." To one who understands Krsna according to the Vedic scriptures, Krsna is indeed all things.
Krsna is a name for God, the Supreme Being. As the Vedic literature describes, everything in the universe—including all living entities and all matter, from the largest planet down to the atom—is but an emanation from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Everything emanates from Him, exists on His energy, and at the time of annihilation merges back into Him. Nothing, therefore, is apart from Krsna, yet Krsna always maintains His primeval personality intact and unchanged.
We can compare Krsna to a mine of gold, and the multifarious forms of creation to golden objects—gold rings, gold necklaces, and so on. Although qualitatively one with the gold in the mine, the gold ring and the gold necklace are quantitatively different. Similarly, although all things are one with Krsna, being emanations of His energy, nothing can be absolutely equal with Him.
We may also compare Krsna to the chief engineer of a complex construction project. Although he doesn't watch his men lay every brick and pour every ton of concrete, he still knows every job being done and every piece of equipment in use, because it's all under his supervision. In the same way Krsna, the Supreme Engineer, knows every nook and corner of the universe, although His agents and energies are the ones who actually perform all the cosmic functions.
Some people who consider themselves religious say, "Teaching only about Krsna is sectarian because Krsna is a Hindu God." But this statement reveals these critics themselves to be sectarian. God is not the domain of a particular religion; He is the Supreme Lord of all beings. Any child receiving Krsna conscious education understands this basic truth, which somehow eludes even highly educated religious leaders. Krsna conscious education, therefore, embraces and can unite all religions.
Other people superficially dismiss Krsna as a mythological character or an ancient philosopher. But actually Krsna is everything. Sometimes people, impatient to see God, demand that He show Himself, even though they are unqualified to perceive His transcendental form. But the devotees of Lord Krsna, understanding that God is all-pervading, are able to think of Him always and see Him everywhere. In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna instructs His devotees to meditate on Him in all things: "I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and moon."
When properly understood, therefore, studying all things in relation to Krsna is not shortsighted, uncultured, or incomplete. For example, philosophy and the arts concern themselves with truth, beauty, and knowledge. But Krsna, being Absolute Truth, Absolute Beauty, and Absolute Knowledge, is the object and culmination of these various disciplines. The author, artist, and philosopher may comprehend through their work a small aspect of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but their achievements remain incomplete. The devotee, however, is in love with the absolute person Himself and comprehends Him in His full feature of complete beauty, knowledge, power, and wealth. The devotee regards the work of the mundane artist or the knowledge of the speculative philosopher as mere shadows of the opulences of the Absolute Personality of Godhead. And the devotee appreciates such achievements for what they are: tiny manifestations of Krsna's opulences. Thus the devotee remains always targeted on the goal and perfection of education, without being diverted by the shadows.
Persons learned in various disciplines can perfect their knowledge by linking it in service to the Supreme Lord. Srila Prabhupada explains how this is possible:
All the sages and devotees of the Lord have recommended that the subject matter of art science, philosophy, physics, chemistry, psychology, and all other branches of knowledge should be wholly and solely applied in the service of the Lord. Art, literature, poetry, painting, and so on may be used in glorifying the Lord. . . . Similarly, science and philosophy should also be applied in the service of the Lord. There is no use in presenting dry speculative theories for sense gratification. Philosophy and science should be engaged to establish the glory of the Lord. Advanced people are eager to understand the Absolute Truth through the medium of science, and therefore a great scientist should endeavor to prove the existence of the Lord on a scientific basis. Similarly, philosophical speculation should be utilized to establish the supreme truth as sentient and all-powerful. Similarly, all other branches of knowledge should always be engaged in the service of the Lord.
Thus a person who does not receive a Krsna conscious education inevitably misses the essence of education. He may hold a Ph.D. from Harvard, but if he fails to use his knowledge in the service of Krsna, he remains ignorant of his own identity and his relationship to God. Considering himself the body and the world a place for his enjoyment, he remains an atheist, ignorant of God, the Absolute Truth.
According to the Vedic literature, the Absolute Truth is the source of everything, and the Bhagavad-gita confirms that Lord Krsna is that Absolute Truth. Thus by understanding Krsna, one can have essential understanding of everything. This is the philosophical basis of a Krsna conscious education.
Practical or applied Krsna conscious education teaches the student to use everything in Krsna's service. From the Krsna conscious standpoint, therefore, modern atheistic education is misguided, in both its theory and its application. Krsna consciousness, as the complete theistic philosophy, brings one personal fulfillment and happiness, and its practical application can unite everyone and everything with God, establishing universal peace and harmony. Mundane education, on the other hand, can never fully yield the desired goals of enlightenment, fulfillment, and happiness. Criticisms of Krsna conscious education, therefore, come from people who have only the most superficial understanding of its breadth and profound purpose. And a little learning is a dangerous thing.—SDG