A lecture given in September 1968
by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada,
In this material world, everyone is trying to search out happiness and get relief from misery. There are three kinds of miseries caused by our material condition: adhyatmika, adhibhautika, and adhidaivika. Adhyatmika miseries are those caused by the body and mind themselves. For example, when there is some disarrangement of the different functions of metabolism within the body, we get a fever or some pain. Another kind of adhyatmika misery is caused by the mind. Suppose I lose someone who is dear to me. Then my mind will be disturbed. This is also suffering. So diseases of the body or mental disturbances are adhyatmika miseries.
Then there are adhibhautika miseries, sufferings caused by other living entities. For example, human beings are sending millions of poor animals to the slaughterhouse daily. The animals cannot express themselves, but they are undergoing great suffering. And we also suffer miseries caused by other living entities.
Finally, there are adhidaivika miseries, those caused by higher authorities such as the demigods. There may be famine, earthquake, flood, pestilence—so many things. These are adhidaivika sufferings.
So we are always suffering one or more of these miseries. This material nature is constituted in such a way that we have to suffer; it is God's law. And we are trying to relieve the suffering by patchwork remedies. Everyone is trying to get relief from suffering; that is a fact. The whole struggle for existence is aimed at getting out of suffering.
There are various kinds of remedies that we use to try to relieve our suffering. One remedy is offered by the modern scientists, one by the philosophers, another by the atheists, another by the theists, another by the fruitive workers. There are so many ideas. But according to the philosophy of Krsna consciousness, you can get free of all your sufferings if you simply change your consciousness to Krsna consciousness. That's all.
All our sufferings are due to ignorance. We have forgotten that we are eternal servants of Krsna. There is a nice Bengali verse that explains this point:
krsna-bahirmukha haiya bhoga-vancha kare
As soon as our original Krsna consciousness becomes polluted with the consciousness of material enjoyment—the idea that I want to lord it over the resources of matter—our troubles begin. Immediately we fall into maya, illusion. Everyone in the material world is thinking, "I can enjoy this world to my best capacity." From the tiny ant up to the highest living creature, Brahma, everyone is trying to become a lord. In your country many politicians are canvassing to become the president. Why? They want to become some kind of lord. This is illusion.
In the Krsna consciousness movement our mentality is just the opposite. We are trying to become the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant of Krsna (gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah). Instead of wanting to become a lord, we want to become the servant of Krsna.
Now, people may say this is a slave mentality: "Why should I become a slave? I shall become the master." But they do not know that this consciousness—"I shall become the master"—is the cause of all their suffering. This has to be understood. In the name of becoming master of this material world, we have become the servants of our senses.
We cannot avoid serving. Everyone of us sitting in this meeting is a servant. These boys and girls who have taken to Krsna consciousness have agreed to become servants of Krsna. So their problem is solved. But others are thinking, "Why should I become a servant of God? I shall become the master." Actually, no one can become the master. And if someone tries to become the master, he simply becomes the servant of his senses. That's all. He becomes the servant of his lust, the servant of his avarice, the servant of his anger—the servant of so many things.
In a higher stage, one becomes the servant of humanity, the servant of society, the servant of his country. But the actual purpose is to become the master. That is the disease. The candidates for the presidency are presenting their different manifestos: "I shall serve the country very nicely. Please give me your vote." But their real idea is somehow or other to become the master of the country. This is illusion.
So, we should understand this important point of philosophy: constitutionally we are servants. Nobody can say, "I am free; I am the master." If someone thinks like that, he's in illusion. Can anybody in this meeting say that he's not the servant of anybody or anything? No, because our constitutional position is to serve.
We may serve Krsna, or we may serve our senses. But the difficulty is that by serving our senses we simply increase our misery. For the time being you may satisfy yourself by taking some intoxicant. And under the spell of the intoxicant you may think that you are nobody's servant, that you are free. But this idea is artificial. As soon as the hallucination is gone, again you see that you are a servant.
So we are being forced to serve, but we don't wish to serve. What is the adjustment? Krsna consciousness. If you become the servant of Krsna, your aspiration to become the master is immediately achieved. For example, here we see a picture of Krsna and Arjuna. [Srila Prabhupada points to a painting of Krsna and Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra.] Krsna is the Supreme Lord; Arjuna is a human being. But Arjuna loves Krsna as a friend, and in response to Arjuna's friendly love Krsna has become his chariot driver, his servant. Similarly, if we become reinstated in our transcendental loving relationship with Krsna, our aspiration for mastership will be fulfilled. If you agree to serve Krsna, gradually you will see that Krsna is also serving you. This is a question of realization. So, if we want to get free of the service of this material world, the service of our senses, then we must direct our service toward Krsna. This is Krsna consciousness.
Srila Rupa Gosvami quotes a nice verse in his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu concerning the service of the senses: kamadinam kati na katidha palita durnidesa. Here a devotee is saying to Krsna that he has served his senses for a very long time (kamadinam kati na katidha). Kama means "lust." He says, "By the dictation of my lust I have done what I should not have done." When someone is a slave, he's forced to do things he does not wish to do. He's forced. So, here the devotee is admitting that under the dictation of his lust he has done sinful things.
Then someone may say to the devotee: "All right, you have served your senses. But now you are done serving them. Now everything is all right." But the difficulty is this: tesam jata mayi na karuna na trapa nopasantih. The devotee says, "I have served my senses so much, but I find they are not satisfied. That is my difficulty. My senses are not satisfied, nor am I satisfied, nor are my senses kind enough to give me relief, to give me pension from their service. That is my position. I had hoped that by serving my senses for many years they would have been satisfied. But no, they're not. They are still dictating to me."
Here I may disclose something one of my students told me: In old age his mother is going to marry. And somebody else complained that his grandmother has also married. Just see: fifty years old, seventy-five years old, and the senses are still so strong that they're dictating, "Yes, you must marry." Try to understand how strong the senses are. It is not simply young men who are servants of their senses. One may be seventy-five years old, eighty years old, or even at the point of death—still one is the servant of the senses. The senses are never satisfied.
So this is the material situation. We are servants of our senses, but by serving our senses we are not satisfied, nor are our senses satisfied, nor are they merciful to us. There is chaos!
The best thing, therefore, is to become a servant of Krsna. In Bhagavad-gita [18.66] Krsna says,
You have served your senses in so many lives, life after life, in 8,400,000 species. The birds are serving their senses, the beasts are serving their senses, the human beings, the demigods—everyone within this material world is after sense gratification. "So," Krsna says, "just surrender unto Me. Just agree to serve Me, and I will take charge of you. You will be free from the dictation of your senses."
Because of the dictation of the senses, we are committing sinful activities life after life. Therefore we are in different grades of bodies. Don't think that everyone of you is of the same standard. No. According to one's activities, one gets a certain type of body. And these different types of bodies afford one different grades of sense gratification. There is sense gratification in the hog's life also, but it is of a very low grade. The hog is so sensual that it does not hesitate to have sex with its mother, its sister, or its daughter. Even in human society there are people who don't care whether they have sex with their mother or sister. The senses are so strong.
So, we should try to understand that serving the dictations of our senses is the cause of all our misery. The threefold miseries that we are suffering—the miseries we are trying to get free of—are due to this dictation of the senses. But if we become attracted to serving Krsna, we will no longer be forced to follow the dictation of our senses. One name for Krsna is Madana-mohana, "He who conquers Cupid, or lust." If you transfer your love from your senses to Krsna, you will be free from all misery. Immediately.
So this endeavor to be the master—"I am the monarch of all I survey"—should be given up. Everyone of us is constitutionally a servant. Now we are serving our senses, but we should direct this service to Krsna. And when you serve Krsna, gradually Krsna reveals Himself to you as you become sincere. Then the reciprocation of service between Krsna and you will be so nice. You can love Him as a friend or as a master or as a lover—there are so many ways to love Krsna.
So, you should try to love Krsna, and you will see how much you are satisfied. There is no other way to become fully satisfied. Earning great amounts of money will never give you satisfaction. I once knew a gentleman in Calcutta who was earning six thousand dollars a month. He committed suicide. Why? That money could not give him satisfaction. He was trying to have something else.
So my humble request to you all is that you try to understand this sublime benediction of life, Krsna consciousness. Simply by chanting Hare Krsna you will gradually develop a transcendental loving attitude for Krsna, and as soon as you begin to love Krsna, all your troubles will be eradicated and you will feel complete satisfaction.
Thank you very much. Are there any questions?
Question: When we engage the material energy in the service of Krsna, what happens to it? Does it become spiritualized?
Srila Prabhupada: When a copper wire is in touch with electricity, it is no longer copper: it is electricity. Similarly, when you apply your energy to the service of Krsna, it is no longer material energy: it is spiritual energy. So as soon as you engage yourself in the service of Krsna. you become free from the dictates of the material energy. Krsna states that in the Bhagavad-gita [14.26]:
mam ca yo 'vyabhicarena
"Anyone who seriously engages in My service immediately becomes transcendental to the material qualities and comes to the platform of Brahman, or spirit."
So, when you apply your energy in the service of Krsna, do not think that it remains material. Everything used in Krsna's service is spiritual. For example, each day we distribute fruit prasadam [fruit that has been offered to Krsna]. Now, one may ask, "Why is this fruit different from ordinary fruit? It has been purchased at the market like any other fruit. We also eat fruit at home. What is the difference?" No. Because we offer the fruit to Krsna, it immediately becomes spiritual. The result? Just go on eating krsna-prasadam, and you will see how you are making progress in Krsna consciousness.
Here is another example. If you drink a large quantity of milk, there may be some disorder in your bowels. If you go to a physician (at least if you go to an Ayurvedic physician), he'll offer you a medical preparation made with yogurt. And that yogurt with a little medicine in it will cure you. Now, yogurt is nothing but milk transformed. So, your disease was caused by milk, and it is also cured by milk. How is that? Because you are taking the medicine under the direction of a qualified physician. Similarly, if you engage the material energy in the service of Krsna under the direction of a bona fide spiritual master, that same material energy which has been the cause of your bondage will bring you to the transcendental stage beyond all misery.
Question: How can you make everything so simple to understand?
Srila Prabhupada: Because the whole philosophy is so simple. God is great. You are not great. Don't claim that you are God. Don't claim that there is no God. God is infinite, and you are infinitesimal. Then what is your position? You have to serve God, Krsna. This is simple truth. The rebellious attitude against God is, maya, illusion. Anyone who is declaring that he is God, that you are God, that there is no God, that God is dead—he is under the spell of maya.
When a man is haunted by a ghost, he speaks all kinds of nonsense. Similarly, when a person is haunted by maya, he says, "God is dead. I am God. Why are you searching for God? There are so many Gods loitering in the street." People who speak like this are all ghostly haunted, deranged.
So you have to cure them by vibrating the transcendental sound of the Hare Krsna mantra. This is the cure. Simply let them hear, and gradually they will be cured. When a man is sleeping very soundly, you can cry out beside his ear and he'll awaken. So the Hare Krsna mantra can awaken the sleeping human society. The Vedas say, uttisthata jagrata prapya varan nibodhata: "O human being, please get up! Don't sleep any more. You have the opportunity of a human body. Utilize it. Get yourself out of the clutches of maya." This is the declaration of the Vedas. So continue to chant Hare Krsna. Awaken your countrymen from illusion, and help them get relief from their miseries.
Nescience News and Our Retort
American media try to cover the quest for spiritual understanding.
by Srila Hridayananda Dasa Goswami
When ecstatic devotees of Lord Krsna dancing on the sidewalks of New York danced onto the cover of the July 5 U.S. News & World Report, the headline warned, "America's Cults—Gaining Ground Again."
Of course, journalists don't expect people to know much about spiritual science. And any attempt to explain things in depth, they must figure, would leave most people behind. So they just trot out that old pejorative cult and treat readers to a blow-by-blow of how various religious "cults" try to get along peacefully with their neighbors.
In keeping with all this, U.S. News sails right past the philosophy of the Hare Krsna movement and focuses on "a fragile truce" between the members of the movement's New Vrindaban community in West Virginia and Sheriff Robert Lightner, who doesn't like people to shave their heads and wear long robes. "When the founding fathers wrote about freedom of religion," he says, "they didn't have people like these in mind."
By now we've come to expect such trivia when great national news magazines like U.S. News cover spiritual topics. Example: U.S. News tells us that the followers of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon are grossing millions of dollars through their seafood business. And the important thing here is the money. Forget that slaughtering millions of innocent creatures—fish—may not be a very spiritual act, nor a symptom of saintly behavior. Overlook the hypocritical spectacle of a so-called messiah organizing an industry for wholesale killing. What matters to the writers of U.S. News is the profit turned over. Such are the issues of the day.
And superficiality is by no means restricted to journalists. America's leaders—whether in the media, politics, economics, psychology, sociology, education—are virtually all ignorant of God and His laws. Even religious leaders just can't seem to muster a scientific understanding of God: witness the recent attempts of Christian "scientific creationists" to impose their medieval religious views on the Arkansas public school system.
Krsna consciousness, however, does present scientific information about God, information gleaned from a vast Vedic literary tradition covering five thousand years of scriptural revelation. Unfortunately, most people are not interested in this information. They are satisfied with trying to save their own necks through their salvation-obsessed mainstream religions or to fashionably remain members of a spiritually impotent community church or synagogue.
The "American way" has become to enjoy life and forget God. If we do think about God, it is often simply to relegate Him to the post of order supplier. Yet contrary to the megalomaniacal fantasies of the human race. God is not a mystical appendage to human prosperity. God is not a humanist, and we are not the center of the universe. God is the center. He is the supreme enjoyer, the controller of all that be. The human being's natural occupation is to serve Him. And to serve Him means to carry out His will, which is not always identical with sentimental humanism.
Modern men, however, foolishly try to invoke God's mercy upon their material, bodily ambitions. When "religious" people speak of the kingdom of God, they generally describe an earthly kingdom extended into the hereafter. Few people seem interested in recognizing their true existential relation with God as His eternal loving servants. Despite outward protestations of faith in God, most of us live a life of materialism.
As sincere Americans face the all-devouring spiritual vacuum called modern society, it is no wonder they seek relief. Those who join Krsna consciousness are fortunate to find a bonafide spiritual shelter in an authorized science of God.
Broadsides from the opponents of Krsna consciousness and claims to spiritual validity from the imitators of Krsna consciousness do not change the fact that Krsna consciousness is a bona fide science of God realization. Just as nothing else is a Volkswagen, nothing else is Krsna consciousness.
If the journalists for U.S. News had examined the spiritual substance of the Krsna consciousness movement, they might have learned something worth getting across to their millions of readers. Instead, they merely contributed to the spiritual sterility of American life by thin coverage of people's search for spiritual understanding.
Spiritual understanding is life's deepest need. And many religious movements today have come forward to cater to that need. But when leading American magazines merely peer at the outside packaging without trying to understand the spiritual substance inside (or the lack of it), these magazines unwittingly weaken our sense of spiritual discrimination, thus nurturing the problem for which they want to sound the alarm: the growth of so-called religious movements founded on speculation, whim, concoction, and fraud.
Report from New York
Some were there to drink or get high, find a girl or bring their own, and have a good time. Others had some political or social view to push—the Socialist Labor Party or what have you. And still others, the majority I suppose, came to express—well, in a word, fear. Fear that thermonuclear weapons might blow the world, or a big part of it—or at least their part of it—to pieces. Hot pieces.
As one sign had it, a sign a child was holding in her hand, "I don't want to be melted." These people know what a nuclear bomb can do. And if you're not up on the gruesome details, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Ground Zero, and other groups are working to make sure you get the picture: The blast. The heat. The winds. The shock waves. The fallout. Your neighbors sick, bloody, and dead all around you. Your family—
And finally you yourself, annihilated. Or worse than annihilated. (Under what specific circumstances—at what threshold of pain and torture—would you prefer to be put out of your misery?)
So people are concerned—scared—about what might happen. And they want to do something about it.
And the idea of a cause we all can agree on—a whole park full of us, not only Joan Baez or Dr. Spock but even Mayor Koch, even the 4,000 cops keeping order, even The New York Times and CBS—well, it's heartening.
A mellow afternoon of human beings coming together in the park to call for restraint, for sanity, for human brotherhood, for peace. As you see all those people out there with you, as you listen to the songs and speeches, as that lump comes to your throat and that feeling of hope floods your heart, you know, you just know, things can change. Or can they?
We sat a little apart from the demonstration, outside the main center of action. On a lawn by a park drive, near the obelisk behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art, our group sat in the sun, on a bright blue cloth, chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
That Hare Krsna vibration, we knew, was eternal. And for that matter, what was happening at the peace march was also eternal. People would always come together to search for peace, to cry out against war and destruction, to stand up and be counted for the sacredness of human life. And their efforts would always fail. The arrows would always be released, the muskets shot, the missiles launched, the bombs exploded.
The way we saw it, neither the war-makers nor the peacemakers had the answer.
The warmakers: security through strength. You know just what that means—bigger, faster, more horrible weapons. And no way are we going to make them and not use them. They have a life of their own. You can't build those missiles and just keep them in their silos, any more than you can own a dog and keep it from voiding its bladder.
And the peacemakers: Their hearts are in the right place. But the Russians are poised for war, folks. Whatever the rhetoric, whatever the gestures, the nuclear Ivan the Terrible would like nothing better than to blow Manhattan Island to smithereens—Central Park and all.
The trouble is: The Russians have all sorts of people—sweet and nasty, peaceloving and warloving, sensitive and brutish—and so do we. The Russians are tightly bound by their karma, and so are we. The Russians don't know who they are, and neither do we. The Russians have forgotten Krsna, and so have we.
We're not Russians or Americans. We're eternal spiritual beings, all of us. And none of us have any business staying in this material world. This material world is designed by nature to be a miserable place, a place of fear, suffering, and death. Do you really think that marching on the UN or Central Park will change that?
Whether you're obliterated by nuclear weapons, by conventional weapons, or by the weapons in nature's own arsenal, every man, woman, and child on earth is going to die, no matter what we do. The only question is whether we're going to die like human beings or die like dogs.
All right, we're all going to die like dogs—death is death. But at least we shouldn't live like dogs. Dogs live without self-realization. They just eat, sleep, have sex, and fight over which dog gets which bone, which territory, which bitch. And the nuclear arms race is just another sign that men, those most noble of all creatures, are busy barking and clawing to be top dogs, scrambling for their own comfort, their own pleasure, their own human counterparts of bones and bitches. Dogs want peace too. They want to chew their bones and raise their puppies in peace.
But by chanting Hare Krsna, we were moving toward a peace beyond all this, an eternal, unconditional, unassailable peace. And we were giving those who heard us a way to move toward that peace too. It was the peace that comes when we free ourselves from thinking that we are whatever our minds and bodies make us, that whatever we can grab and hold on to is ours, and that the hands that must balance the fate of the earth are ultimately our own.
It was the peace that comes when we look inside ourselves—inside our bodies, inside our minds—and find a still higher self, a self that can't be melted, burned, gassed, bayonetted, or blasted apart, a self that lives forever, come what may.
It was the peace that comes when we see that the stuff we call our own—our homes, our nations, our families, our skins—all arrive on loan from time's prop department and get sent back Federal Express after each scene is over.
It was the peace that comes when we see that the fate of the earth is resting in the transcendental hands of Krsna. The Krsna conscious person sees Krsna's hands everywhere, and holds on to those hands in love. Those who ignore Krsna take their fate into their own hands—and come out empty-handed.
Sometime early in the afternoon, our group had gone chanting into the center of the crowds. While we were there, a press photographer in blue jeans clicked off a shot of us chanting behind a little girl who held a hand-lettered cardboard sign: SURVIVE.
I'm not sure what irony the photographer saw in this, but we saw a meaning of our own. In one sense, no one in the park would survive. Sooner or later, war or no war, nuclear-bombed or not, every one of us would die. And in another sense—spiritually—all of us would survive forever. But those who thought of life a the life of the body—who wanted to live on in this material world, grab what they could, hold on to what they had, and enjoy it—would survive only in a perpetual cycle of birth and death.
And those who lived to love Krsna would survive in freedom.
Report from Bonn
On a warm, clear day last June; Ronald Reagan came to Bonn. So did at least 300,000 peace demonstrators. And so did twenty-five members of the Hare Krsna movement. Each—Reagan, the peace marchers, and the devotees of Krsna—presented a program for demilitarization and for reducing world tensions.
President Reagan told the German federal parliament that his program for a massive buildup of U.S. military strength was a sure sign of American determination to live up to its commitment of protecting its allies. "You are not alone," he reassured the German people. Then, after brandishing the big stick, the President spoke softly, repeating his proposals for eliminating intermediate-range nuclear weapons in Europe and reducing strategic nuclear arms.
Reagan also introduced a new peace plan by suggesting that NATO and the Warsaw Pact nations mutually cut back their conventional forces. Referring to the demonstrators, he said, "To those who march for peace, my heart is with you. I would be at the head of your parade if I believed marching alone could bring about a more secure world. . . . The question is how to proceed." The President's speech was interrupted twenty-one times by applause.
The peace marchers did what peace marchers do everywhere: They paraded with signs and banners, sang songs and chanted slogans, and listened to impassioned speeches by antinuke leaders. Joseph Beuys, Germany's top modern artist and sculptor, entertained the crowd with an ironic song of his own composition: "Sonnenschein Statt Reagan" ("Sunshine Instead of Reagan"—a play upon the German word regen, which means "rain").
But there were problems amid all the idealism. The Bonn demonstration was organized by an uneasy alliance of the German Communist Party (DKP) and the Greens, a coalition of young and politically aware environmentalists who define their ideology as an alternative to both capitalism and communism. At one point during the planning stages the Greens pulled out, accusing the DKP of manipulating the event for Moscow's interests. They grudgingly attended the demonstration anyway, but kept a low profile. Peace groups sponsored by the German Lutheran Church stayed home, fearing that the demonstration would appear too anti-American. Peace groups from Holland also stayed away, fearing that the demonstration was too nationalistic. Gerd Bastian, a former general in the West German army who had retired from his post as the commander of a panzer division to stump for peace, was on hand to represent the peace-loving members of the establishment. But radical hecklers interrupted his speech. And another speaker ruefully noted that too many demonstrators, and the devotees of Krsna.
President Reagan's speech, for all its charm and enthusiasm, was contradictory, in keeping with the Alice-in-Wonderland logic of the arms race itself. It called to mind that favorite cliche of the Vietnam War: "To save the village we must destroy it." To preserve the peace we must build more weapons—and talk about disarmament. The Russians have already promised the world that if America boosts its military might, they will follow suit, missile for missile, bomb for bomb. And as both sides increase their already astronomical capacity for overkill, they talk about reducing it.
As for the peace demonstrators, they clearly showed the flawed premise underlying their materialistic idealism: "We are our bodies, so let's save them." As soon as we define our existence in physical terms, we become entangled in all sorts of dualities: heat and cold, happiness and distress, love and hate, birth and death. The Bonn peace march was beset with a myriad of dualities: Communists versus environmentalists, liberals versus radicals, Germans versus Dutch, young versus old, the serious versus the whimsical—all hoping for peace versus war in an existence of life versus death.
Dualities of pleasure and pain, birth and death, peace and war are insurmountable on the bodily platform. Therefore, if we want real peace we must rise above the bodily platform and understand ourselves to be spiritual beings, unchanging and indestructible.
We are not our bodies; we are eternal spiritual souls living in temporary conglomerations of matter called bodies. This was the message of the Hare Krsna devotees on that fine June day in Bonn. We are seeking peace in this human life only because as spiritual entities we hanker for that half-remembered "peace of God, which passeth all understanding." This is the eternal peace of Lord Krsna's own spiritual kingdom, where everyone centers his love and his energy on God. In God's kingdom there are no dualities, no pain, no death, no war—only perfect harmony.
This harmony and perfect peace are available even in this material world, once we reject the petty distinctions between nations, races, and ideologies (all of which stem from our misidentification with the body) and accept our true oneness as spiritual souls, servants of the Supreme Soul, Krsna.
Now we are experiencing the duality of matter and spirit because we are out of harmony with Krsna's desire. We have forgotten Him by misusing our free will.
In this Age of Quarrel, we can reestablish our relationship with Him by the simple, sublime process of chanting Hare Krsna and accepting the Lord's mercy in the form of prasadam, vegetarian food offered to the Lord in love. By centering our lives on Krsna instead of on the struggle to preserve the ever-dying fleshy covering of the soul, we can experience peace by His grace, even in this material world.
Those who argue that Krsna consciousness is too simple and naive to solve the complex problems of the world are themselves too complex—they're unwilling to let go of the dualities that bind them. The struggle against the death of the body is hopeless. But hope for peace matures into realization as soon as we take a step in the right direction—away from material duality and toward spiritual reality.
The Krsna consciousness movement is itself the testing ground of this principle, and the proof of the principle is available for anyone to experience.
The shattered life of an American poet impels a young man to search for a way to make his own life whole.
By Tattva-Vit Dasa
The poet John Berryman was my teacher at the University of Minnesota the year he jumped from a bridge over the Mississippi and killed himself at the age of fifty-seven. In some respects, his suicide puzzled me. He'd won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for his long poem The Dream Songs, and he appeared to enjoy his fame and money. We admired our intense Professor Berryman, who would sit, always well dressed, at the head of our seminar table in Ford Hall, chain smoking Pall Malls while he lectured with candor and erudition on the American character. But his personal life was a mess. He'd been through adultery, alcoholism, and two divorces, and for all his achievements he considered his life misspent.
I felt shocked by Berryman's suicide, the climax of his abandonment to self-destructive impulses. Along with his various vices, he cultivated a sensibility of insolence toward God, to which he freely admitted in his final poems:
I'm not a good man, I won't ever be, . . .
It surprised me that poetry, scholarship, and literary acclaim hadn't made Berryman feel his life was significant. He rejected his unfortunate life on an overcast January day, and his smashed body was recovered near the. west bank of the icy river.
I wondered if I would end up like him. Both of us were lapsed Catholics, both immersed in academic pursuits. I was planning a scholarly career, and Berryman had generously supported my application to graduate school. Now, with his suicide, I had second thoughts.
I belonged to an anti-establishment generation whose quest for peace and pleasure in a youthful counterculture failed as sex, drugs, and alcohol obliterated our ideals. I came to my senses about the time that billboards appeared in Minnesota informing everyone that venereal disease was at an all-time high. Then Minnesota legalized abortion.
My reaction to Berryman's death, and to the social chaos I saw around me, was to look inward. I decided that if I wanted to become wise and truly human, I needed to take up some form of spiritual life. So I gave up my plans for graduate school and started searching.
I examined The Dream Songs for a sense of direction. Despite the dreary bitterness in which Berryman's life ended, I knew that his conscience had been unappeasable. Some of his poems agonize over the modern American delusion that we've achieved civilization as we try to become happy in a world in which God seems absent. Berryman saw appetites gone wild, people without any sense of higher purpose, and an amoral society unwilling to foresee the results of its own nasty behavior. Berryman saw America headed for a dead end, exemplified by racial conflict and the Vietnam War:
So now we see where we are, which is all-over
Berryman had searched for the meaning of life in art. He wrote, "All the way through my work is a tendency to regard the individual soul under stress. ... I don't know what the issue is, or how it is to be resolved—the issue of our common human life, . . . but I do think that one way to approach it, by the means of art, ... is by investigating the individual human soul."
But his art, "coming out of Homer and Virgil and down through Yeats and Eliot," proved of little use to him. He'd lost faith in the spiritual order of the universe. "My father's suicide when I was twelve blew out my most bright candle faith, and look at me."
My own inherited faith resurfaced, however, and I began to broaden my spiritual search by turning back to Catholicism. I considered entering the priesthood. A matronly librarian named Mrs. Peterson, who'd taught me French in high school, advised that if I were going to become a priest I'd better be a good one. We both knew that some priests married or had drinking problems. I even knew of mini-skirted nuns who were developing the knack for social drinking. Mrs. Peterson's warning struck home. I deeply dreaded being a pseudo-renunciant—one who enters the priesthood and then commits abominations.
Moreover, I had no faith that Catholicism could give me the strength to lead a good life. In Catholicism you go to a priest to confess your sins and you do your penance, but then you go out and commit the same sins again—only to return for another confession. From practical experience I knew that repeated sinning and atonement hadn't purified my heart of sinful desires. The new goodness, after a certain point, had no longer canceled the previous evil, and eventually I'd given up the charade of atonement entirely.
Berryman had had his own peculiar style of atonement. I was in the Newman Center bookstore one evening and purchased a copy of his Sonnets, a book about adultery that raises the question of "whether wickedness was soluble in art." Berryman thought so, and he apparently tried to counteract his immorality with artistic merit. But that didn't make his life more tolerable: "At fifty-five half-famous & effective, I still feel rotten about myself."
Having found both Berryman and Catholicism lacking, I now turned to the philosophies of the East. I'd studied Asian religions ever since leaving the Church, and now I delved into a serious investigation of yoga. I learned that yoga aims at controlling the sensual urges and liberating the spiritual soul from repeated material lives beset by the miseries of birth, old age, disease, and death.
Eventually I found that I had some things in common with the Hare Krsna devotees, who arrived one day on campus distributing free food and literature. They were practicing bhakti-yoga, they said, the yoga of linking with God through devotional service, and they demonstrated an admirable freedom from materialism. They didn't eat meat, fish, or eggs, and they refrained from intoxicants, including even coffee, tea, and cigarettes. They didn't gamble or have free sex. They lived the Vedic principle that the purpose of life is to surrender to God and realize our eternal relationship with Him. Here, it seemed, was a practical form of spiritual life that really could purify the heart. I started discussing the Krsna conscious philosophy with the devotees and reading Bhagavad-gita As It Is, by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Bhagavad-gita means "the Song of God." It's Krsna's song—God's own instructions on the science of self-realization. From reading Bhagavad-gita and talking to the Hare Krsna devotees, I soon learned the basics of bhakti-yoga. I learned that the name Krsna means "all-attractive" and tells us that God possesses in full all the attractive qualities we have in minute degree: beauty, knowledge, strength, wealth, fame, and renunciation. By definition, no one's qualities equal or excel Krsna's, for no one is equal to or greater than God.
I found the personal conception of God taught in Krsna consciousness to be a revelation. Up till then I'd more or less accepted the idea of God taught by Catholics, who understand that He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent but that's about all. Their understanding of God comes down to something abstract. For them. God has no concretely personal qualities: He's a formless being. Therefore, Catholics have no conception of engaging their senses in satisfying the senses of the Supreme Lord. Of course, priests and nuns renounce the satisfaction of their own senses (at least ostensibly) for "the greater glory of God," but Catholic laymen, like everyone else, want to satisfy their senses, and they pray to God to fulfill their desires.
Studying with the Hare Krsna devotees, I found it easy to see that because we are all people with forms, God must also be a person with form. But not a perishable, material form like ours. In other words, God has an eternal, spiritual body with eternal, spiritual senses. Unfortunately, because we are frustrated with our temporary, limited, troublesome bodies, we think that for God to be eternal, unlimited, and free from misery He must be formless. But Krsna proclaims in the Bhagavad-gita that while He has a form, that form is fundamentally different from ours. While our body is painfully mortal and full of ignorance and misery, Krsna's is eternal, full of infinite knowledge and bliss.
Srila Prabhupada states in his commentary on Bhagavad-gita that we shouldn't expect Krsna to satisfy our senses but should try to satisfy His. Then we will automatically feel satisfied. Since Krsna is the root of all existence, the Soul of our souls, satisfying Him through loving devotional service brings a spiritual satisfaction—a true self-satisfaction—far more complete than the flickering satisfaction of the physical senses. Thus a devotee of Krsna neither renounces sense activity nor tries to enjoy sense pleasure. Rather, he uses his senses to serve Krsna and thus achieves transcendental bliss and detachment from matter. In the Bhagavad-gita (5.21) Krsna describes the perfection of devotional yoga: "A liberated person is not attracted to material sense pleasure, but is always in transcendental consciousness, enjoying the pleasure within. In this way the self-realized person enjoys unlimited happiness, for he concentrates on the Supreme."
The Catholic doctrine offered an abstract idea of a formless God and no way to transcend material desires, because a God without form, without a concrete personality, is not an object of the senses. If we can't learn what will please God's senses and engage in His service accordingly, then we'll simply use our senses materially.
But our constitutional need as spiritual souls, part and parcel of God, is to have a personal loving relationship with Him. Although now we don't know it, our deepest desire is to engage in loving pastimes with Krsna, because we're eternally related to Him as devoted servants. So if we are to find spiritual satisfaction in our present materially embodied state, our constitutional need to love Krsna must be expressible through our sense activities here and now, in the material sphere. Learning to love Krsna by engaging our senses in practical devotional service to God is what Krsna consciousness, bhakti-yoga, is all about.
If our constitutional need to love Krsna is misdirected, then no matter how hard we try to enjoy a life centered on family and friends, career and fame. race and nation, or even a stunted conception of God, we're on a self-destructive course. That's a lesson I learned in part from John Berryman and The Dream Songs:
Hunger was constitutional with him, women, cigarettes, liquor, need,
Berryman's artistic efforts and search for truth yielded no ultimate answers. "I have no idea whether we live again. It doesn't seem likely ... If I say Thy name, an thou there? It may be so." Here was a man confessing his ignorance of God.
Srila Prabhupada, however, was a fully self-realized soul. Through his Bhagavad-gita As It Is he convinced me to try to realize my self by practicing bhakti-yoga, beginning with the chanting of the holy names of God: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Chanting these names, the Vedas declare, is the most effective method of self-realization in the present degraded age.
The Dream Songs reveals a desperate man, a poor soul plagued by the ills of lust and mortality. I feel deeply grateful that I met another teacher, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who was unaffected by those ills and who offered me the invaluable cure for them in the form of Krsna's song. Now, at last, I feel I'm waking up from the nightmare that consumed Professor Berryman.
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..
Caittya-guru—the Supreme Lord acting as the spiritual master within one's own heart. As Lord Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita, He is seated within the heart of every living being, and it is by His grace that we can receive transcendental knowledge (or materialistic illusion, if that is what we desire).
When we sincerely search for self-realization, or try to become Krsna conscious, Krsna acts from within our own heart to help us. He does this by guiding us in such a way that we come in touch with His representative, His pure devotee. By the mercy of Krsna and the mercy of the pure devotee, we get the seed of devotional service, which matures into a plant that gives forth the fruit of love of Godhead. The more we sincerely serve Krsna according to the instructions of His pure devotee, the more Krsna gives us transcendental intelligence from within our heart so that we can progress in spiritual life and ultimately go back to Him.
Canakya Pandita—the brahmana who acted as advisor and prime minister to the Indian king Candragupta (c. 321-296 B.C.). Canakya is the author of the well-known Canakya-slokas, a book of moral aphorisms. Examples:
Dressed in fine cloth,
If you want wisdom, give up sense pleasure.
How can a hedonist acquire knowledge?
What good is scripture
Carvaka Muni—"Beg, borrow, or steal, but somehow get ghee [fine clarified butter] so that you can eat well and enjoy. Seek pleasure in this life, and don't worry about any karmic reactions you might suffer in the next. There is no next life. When you die, everything's over. Your body turns to ashes, and then you no longer exist." Such are the doctrines of Carvaka, an ancient Indian teacher. Almost nothing is known of Carvaka himself, but his ideas live on, and materialists everywhere will feel themselves right at home with his philosophy.
Caste—To make a complex topic simple: The teachings of Lord Krsna divide human society into four divisions (or "castes," if you will), according to people's personal qualities and the work people do. These divisions are the brahmanas (the intelligentsia), the ksatriyas (the social administrators and the military), the vaisyas (farmers and tradesmen), and the sudras (ordinary workers).
Lord Krsna says that people work these four ways all over the world, and He tells how to organize society so that these four kinds of people can work together harmoniously for both material and spiritual progress.
Unless organized along these lines, people will find themselves unemployed, struggling with jobs they can't handle, or bored with jobs they can barely put up with. People won't know what they should do and what they shouldn't. The result: social turmoil. So each person, according to his personal qualities, should have his own work to do, and he should do it for the satisfaction of God. But there shouldn't be hereditary barriers to hold people back. That's where Lord Krsna's social system differs from the social system we find in India today. The system of "caste by birth" imposes false, material social structures on Lord Krsna's spiritual social plan.
Caturmasya—The rainy season in India lasts from about July through October, and this four-month period is called Caturmasya. During this time, saintly persons who wander from place to place stay steadily in one place, and all of Krsna's devotees try to strengthen their spiritual determination by giving up some of the pleasures to which their senses are usually accustomed. Basically, the way they do this is by eating more simply and by fasting from certain kinds of food. In the first month they fast from spinach, in the second from yogurt, in the third from milk, and in the fourth from urad dal (a kind of protein-rich bean). If you want to become a devotee of Krsna, following these simple austerities will help you progress more quickly to your goal.
Modern Civilization: A Deluxe Edition of Animal Life
The following conversation between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and a life member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness took place in August 1976 on an early-morning walk in Hyderabad, India.
Member: What is your view on birth control by contraception?
Srila Prabhupada: That is the most sinful activity. Birth control should be done by restraining sex.
Member: That is one way.
Srila Prabhupada: That is the only way approved in the sastra [scriptures]. All other ways are sinful.
Member: But people are committing sinful activities like contraception and abortion. What will happen to them?
Srila Prabhupada: They will suffer. Those who are killing children in the womb will themselves be killed. They will enter into a mother's womb and be killed. They will be punished, tit for tat. But that they do not know. These rascals have no education about the laws of nature. They're acting very independently, but Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita [3.27], ahankara-vimudhatma kartaham iti manyate: Those who think they can act independently of nature are vimudhas, rascals. They will be punished by the laws of nature, just like a thief who defies the laws of the government.
Member: What is the qualification of someone fit to have children?
Srila Prabhupada: The husband and wife should not have a child unless they can take full responsibility for saving him from the repetition of birth and death. This is the sastric injunction—pita na sa syaj janani na sa syat . . . na mocayed yah samupeta-mrtyum. In the material world everyone is rotating in the cycle of birth and death, transmigrating from one body to another (tatha dehantara-praptih). And after many millions of years, one gets the chance to become a human being. Now, in this life, one can stop birth and death. That is Vedic culture—learning how to conquer the process of repeated birth and death (punar-janma-jaya). But that is possible only in human life. So the parents' duty is to train their children in such a way that their present birth is their last. And that training is Krsna consciousness.
Unfortunately, people are ignorant of this science. So both parents and children are staying in the cycle of birth and death and wasting the opportunity of having a human body. This is modern civilization. People do not know this science; they are kept in darkness. Their so-called education is useless, because they do not learn what the destination of life is (na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum).
Practically speaking, there is no education. The modern so-called education teaches you how to eat nicely, how to sleep nicely, how to have sex nicely, and how to defend nicely. And that is the business of the animals. They know how to eat, how to sleep, how to have sex, and how to defend. So the extra intelligence of the human being is making a deluxe edition of eating, sleeping, sex, and defense. The modern civilization is a deluxe edition of animal life. That's all.
Member: But many people would insist that the material progress of present-day society makes life worthwhile.
Srila Prabhupada: What will you do with your material progress at the time of death? Suppose you have a big bank balance, a nice house, good friends. At any moment death can come and kick you out. What can you do? Mrtyuh sarva-haras caham: as death, Krsna will come one day and take everything you have. Finished. And He may make you a dog. Now bark. How can you stop it? You have practiced how to bark in the legislative assembly. Now become a dog and go on barking—yow, yow, yow! This is going on.
No one knows the purpose of life. As Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita, asatyam apratistham te jagad ahur anisvaram. People are claiming this world is false (asatyam), there is no cause (apratistham), there is no God (anisvaram). So the modern civilization denies God, yet it is still trying to mitigate the miseries of life. But Bhagavad-gita proposes that first of all you should try to understand what your real misery is. Do you know what the real misery of your life is? What is the misery of your life?
Member: The misery of life is to live without divine knowledge.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. The real misery of life is that while you are an eternal soul, with no birth or death, you are suffering repeated birth and death of the body. Therefore birth and death are your real miseries (janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi-duhkha-dosanudarsanam). This is knowledge.
But people have no brain to understand these things. Krsna clearly says, na jayate mriyate va: "For the soul there is neither birth nor death." But the rascals never think, "Why am I suffering birth? Why am I dying?" Where is their education? They are struggling to get free of misery, but they don't know what their actual misery is. They foolishly engage in the struggle for existence and hope for the survival of the fittest.
Member: The theory of the survival of the fittest may be applicable in our case because fit means—
Srila Prabhupada: Fit means "not getting another material body." That is being fit, because as soon as you get another material body you must suffer. People are mad, working day and night, but they are acting adversely to their own interest. You already have a body that is causing you suffering, and by your karma, your fruitive work, you are creating another body. And as soon as you get another material body, you'll have to suffer, whether you become a king or a dog.
People have no brain to solve this problem, although there is a solution. Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti: Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita that if you understand Him in truth, you can get out of the cycle of birth and death and go back to Godhead—no more birth and death.
So you have become our life member. Try to broadcast the philosophy of Bhagavad-gita. That is the meaning of membership. Everything is there in Bhagavad-gita. Thoroughly study Bhagavad-gita As It Is. Understand the philosophy of Krsna consciousness, apply it in your own life, and try to spread it among your friends.
A look at the worldwide activities of the
All-Krsna Radio Station Can Reach 2½ Million
Florence, Italy—Any time of the day or night, 2.5 million people here and in surrounding cities can tune in the Krsna conscious news, music, philosophy, and culture broadcast by Radio Krishna Centrale, Italy's first all-Krsna radio station. Owned and operated by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Radio Krishna Centrale was conceived and developed by Krsna Caitanya dasa (formerly Claudio Rocci), a nationally famous singer-songwriter.
One of the most popular shows, Beati Voi, fills the air waves for three hours every afternoon. Krsna Caitanya plays cuts from popular songs, movies, or TV shows and then gives a Krsna conscious commentary. Other regular features include a show for children, a course on Vedic cooking, and classes on the Bhagavad-gita..
Devotees Feed Thousands at Festival in Bengal
Panihati, West Bengal, India—Each year just before spring begins, tens of thousands of pilgrims flock to this village on the Ganges to observe a festival called the Cida-dadhi Mahotsava. This celebration, commemorating a similar one five hundred years ago, features a bath in the sacred Ganges and the partaking of chipped-rice-with-yogurt (cida-dadhi) that has been first offered to Krsna.
This year the ISKCON devotees were at the festival, distributing the chipped-rice-with-yogurt free to thousands. The devotees also erected a huge tent, where Srila Jayapataka Swami, one of the spiritual masters in the Hare Krsna movement, sang Bengali songs glorifying Krsna and spoke on Krsna consciousness by the hour.
More than two thousand people came forward to enroll in the movement's Nama-hatta program, thus joining thousands of other Bengali villagers who have agreed to chant the Hare Krsna mantra on beads every day and follow basic devotional principles.
Washington Monument Is Site of Ratha-yatra Festival
Washington, D.C.—On August 21 the Washington Monument, site of massive peace and civil rights demonstrations in the 60's, became the site of the world's most famous religious celebration—Ratha-yatra, the Festival of the Chariots. Devotees from the Potomac, Maryland, Hare Krsna center organized the event with the help of others from centers throughout the Northeast.
At noon, three colossal chariots bearing the Deity forms of Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balarama, and Srimati Subhadra began rolling down the Washington Mall amid a sea of dancing devotees chanting the Hare Krsna mantra. From the Capitol building the parade went along the 1.2-mile route to the spectacular festival grounds at the Washington Monument.
Featured at the festival were world-renowned Indian classical violinist L. Subramaniam and tabla drum player Alia Rakha, plus a full-course feast of vegetarian food offered to Krsna and a broad array of cultural displays: video shows, fine art and sculptural exhibits, photo and philosophy panels, and a special booth dedicated to the festival's theme—"World Peace Through Krsna Consciousness."
Holiday Inn Promotes Tour Of Prabhupada's Palace
New Vrindaban, West Virginia—The Holiday Inn in nearby Wheeling is now promoting a tour package that includes admission to Prabhupada's Palace of Gold, the memorial the devotees here built for the founder and spiritual guide of the Hare Krsna movement. The package also covers lunch at the newly opened Palace restaurant.
West Virginia's officialdom has also recognized the Palace. The state's Travel Development Department recently announced that last year only four other attractions in West Virginia drew more visitors. And in a meeting with Mahabuddhi dasa, the general manager of the Palace, Governor John D. Rockefeller IV said, "I have no doubt now of the tremendous drawing power the Palace of Gold has for tourism in West Virginia." The governor backed up his praise with a pledge to push for much-needed repairs on New Vrindaban's main road.
The Last Word in Health Food
Far above the fray of contending nutrionists, devotees simply eat food offered to Krsna and enjoy physical and spiritual health.
by Visakha-devi dasi
While researching for this feature, I consistently find that nutritionists clash on all fronts. "Cow's milk is not suitable for human consumption... Milk causes constipation, biliousness, coated tongue, headache... :" "As a daily guide, adults should take two or more glasses of fresh milk ..."
"Saturated fatty acids are not needed in the diet at all." "A rational fat consumption ... balances saturated and unsaturated fats ... ." "The vitamins and minerals contained in natural foods are much more usable than those derived from other sources." "The body cannot distinguish in any way between a vitamin from a plant or animal and the same vitamin from a laboratory."
And on it goes. But for most of us it really doesn't mater that the experts disagree , since we have only a hazy and haphazard interest in the nutritional value of the food we eat, anyway. Generally we eat what we like to eat, we eat what we've always eaten, and we eat what's available without too much trouble. And, provided we're fairly healthy, we don't concern ourselves about it much more than that.
There's a minority, however, that is concerned—about pesticides and chemical additives, about high calorie and cholesterol counts, and about food industries that create their products with high profit margins in mind rather than health and nutrition.
Devotees of Lord Krishna stand worlds apart from both groups: those who choose their food by habit, and the conscientious health and diet fans. Srila Prabhupada asks, " By whom are you being taught what is healthy and what is not healthy? What is you authority? Actually this 'healthy' and 'unhealthy' is a material consideration. We are simply interested in what Krishna wants. So we offer Him whatever He wants to eat. And He asks for food prepared from grains, milk and milk products, vegetables, and fruits." A nondevotee eats what he deems tasty or healthy. But what is tasty for one is unpalatable for another, and what is healthy for one is poison for another.
A devotee doesn't hover in this way, on the sensual and mental platforms. He eats only what's been offered to Krsna, and he offers Krsna only what Krsna likes. And by the Lord's arrangement, the staple foods He likes make a perfectly nourishing and balanced diet. For example, on an average day a devotee might breakfast on fruit, hot milk or yogurt, cereal, a little ginger root, and some chickpeas. For lunch: rice, dal (bean soup), capatis (unleavened bread), and vegetables. And in the evening: fruit, hot milk, and a light snack. Now, if you were to analyze this diet for its nutritional content (which we can't do here for lack of space), you'd find it has all the protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, fiber, fat, and minerals you need for good health. You'd find that it has enough calories to maintain your weight, but not so many as to give you unwanted and unsightly bulges. You'd find it low in cholesterol, as well as sugar and salt. You'd find it economical, tasty, and full of variety. (For example, there are fifty common vegetables you can combine with milk products, grains, spices, and herbs, and then bake, steam, saute or fry. The range of flavor, texture, aroma, and color is astonishing.) To put it simply, you would find the devotee's daily diet ideal by modern standards of nutrition, economics, and eating pleasure. And because it's been formulated by the ideal person, Lord Krsna, and the dishes have been offered to Him, you'd also find that it helps you advance spiritually.
A devotee doesn't offer Krsna food cooked by someone who's materially motivated, who's in it for the money. The proper mood in cooking for Krsna is one of gratitude and love: "My Lord has kindly provided these ingredients, so let me combine them and cook them in such a way that He will be pleased." Thus in one easy step the devotee is saved from all the health hazards and empty calories that accompany processed, precooked junk food.
In the past few months we've presented recipes for rices, dal soups, whole-wheat bread, and vegetables. And in the near future we'll be presenting elegant side dishes—homemade snacks, savories, and desserts—that are ideal for special days and special guests. You'll find Krsna conscious dishes to fit any occasion, any mood, any time, and any person—dishes that can fully satisfy a child or a connoisseur, a nutritionist or a fast-food addict, a dieter or a football fullback. All you need to make these dishes are a few simple ingredients and a little practice. By preparing and offering these wholesome foods, we step beyond the world of mundane wrangling, of charts and percentages and profit motives, and quietly enter another world—a world where Krsna stands supreme, where He enjoys our cooking and offering and appreciates our love and devotion. And in this world, unlike ours, there is no disease, no old age, and no death. What could be healthier?
(Recipes by Yamuna-devi dasi)
In the Vedic tradition, raita is a name given to a wide range of raw or semicooked fruit and vegetable salads. These simple, easy-to-prepare salads provide a light, cooling contrast to the elaborately seasoned, cooked preparations of the luncheon or evening meal. A raita generally features one or two main ingredients that float in lightly seasoned, creamy fresh yogurt. Serve raitas in small bowls, allowing ½ cup per serving.
Chopped Spinach in Yogurt
Chopped spinach is marbled in yogurt to form this colorful, delicious raita.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
¾ pound fresh spinach
1. Wash the spinach; sort out and remove the thick stems. Steam the leaves on a metal rack above boiling water for ten to twelve minutes. Remove, cool slightly, press out the water, and chop very finely.
2. Heat the cumin seeds and Kashmiri cumin seeds (if available) in a dry, heavy iron pan over a low flame, tossing and roasting for approximately 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove and crush to a coarse powder. Add the salt and pepper.
3. Whisk the yogurt in a medium-size bowl until creamy. Add all the ingredients and mix well before offering to Krsna.
Sliced Bananas in Creamy Yogurt
With a hint of heat from fresh green chilis and a hint of sweet from ripe bananas, this raita has an intriguing combination of textures, colors, and flavors.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
1 ¼ cups natural yogurt
1. Whisk the yogurt, salt, and finely chopped mint leaves in a small bowl and then fold in the sliced bananas.
2. Heat the ghee or vegetable oil in a small saucepan over a medium flame until it is hot. (A drop of water flicked into it should sputter instantly.) Add the mustard seeds. When they pop and crackle, remove the pan from the heat. Toss in the strips of green chili, swirl and tilt the pan, and then pour the seasoning into the yogurt. Blend well and then cover.
3. Refrigerate for at least one hour before offering to Krsna.
Carrots, Cashews, and Dates in Yogurt
This colorful, naturally sweet raita is healthful and pleasing when a cool dish is required. Adjust the amount of sweetener according to the tartness of the fresh yogurt.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
2 medium-size sweet carrots, peeled and shredded
1. Remove all excess water from the shredded carrots by pressing handfuls between your palms.
2. Combine all the ingredients in a 1-quart bowl and blend well. Refrigerate for about one hour before offering to Krsna.
Sliced Cucumbers and Tomato Cubes In Yogurt (Kakri Raita)
Preparation time: 10 minutes
1 medium-size cucumber
1. Dry roast the cumin seeds and crush them coarsely. Whisk the yogurt.
2. Peel the cucumbers, quarter them lengthwise, cut out the seeds, and slice thinly crosswise. Sprinkle the slices with 1 teaspoon salt, mix well, and set aside for 6 to 10 minutes. Then gently squeeze the cucumbers between your palms to remove excess liquid.
3. Combine the tomatoes, cucumbers, black pepper, garam masala, and roasted cumin seeds in a bowl. Pour in the yogurt and salt and gently blend. Pour into individual serving dishes or a serving bowl and sprinkle the surface with almonds and currants. Offer to Krsna immediately, or chill if desired.
A Special Temple In The Land Of Krsna
In Vrindavan, India, the Krsna-Balarama project shines with the mood of pure devotion to God.
by Yogesvara dasa
I first learned about Vrndavana from my spiritual master, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who at seventy had come from Vrndavana to the streets of New York to found, in 1966, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. I remember once sitting with him years later in Rome. He had already established many temples in the West, but few of his disciples, myself included, had visited Vrndavana, the town ninety miles south of present-day Delhi where Krsna enacted His childhood pastimes some fifty centuries ago. When I asked him what it was like, he smiled and said, "Oh, it is such a wonderful place that I did not want to leave. But then I thought, 'Why should I be so selfish? Let me bring Vrndavana to the West and share it with you.'"
To that end Srila Prabhupada dedicated his every moment. He spread the glories of Vrndavana not by encouraging tourism to India but by teaching the Vrndavana mood of pure devotion to Lord Krsna. In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna Himself describes that mood as "the most secret of all secrets," the treasure hidden inside India's vast scriptural library, and the full, ultimate blossoming of the human spirit.
Srila Prabhupada knew how difficult it would be for visitors—especially Westerners steeped in their habits of empiric judgment—to understand the esoteric mood of Vrndavana, for the city is decrepit by Western standards and many temple panditas close their doors to foreigners. So in 1971 he initiated construction of the Krsna-Balarama temple. Here, in relative comfort and opulence, visitors can learn the true secret of this ancient city. Here they can enter into the Vrndavana mood.
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Five hundred years ago, according to scriptural references, Krsna appeared in Bengal as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and inaugurated a renaissance in devotion to Himself. Through philosophical discourses and public chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra. Lord Caitanya established bhakti (devotional service to Lord Krsna) as the essence of the Vedic literature and the very goal of human life.
Before Lord Caitanya's advent, faulty scriptural interpretations had brought bhakti into disrepute, and the sacred city of Vrndavana had become unmanifest—it now seemed little more than some open fields in northern India. Eager to revive the city. Lord Caitanya empowered His principal disciples, the six Gosvamis, to begin reconstruction and simultaneously to compile books on the science of bhakti.
Lord Caitanya's purpose was to create in Vrndavana an atmosphere in which one could feel and imbibe the spirit of pure love for God. This purpose the six Gosvamis fulfilled. Unfortunately, in recent years so-called priests known as caste gosvamis, claiming to be direct descendants of Lord Caitanya, have neglected that spirit. They have privately introduced demigod worship (although no genuine devotees of Krsna take part in this) and have allowed their sectarian proprietorship over temples to replace their duty of receiving everyone, regardless of background, and encouraging devotion to Krsna through proper instruction. The Vrndavana mood is one of giving, not possessing, and such small-minded practices have compromised this mood.
Although the caste gosvamis are only a small minority of Vrndavana's temple leaders, their influence has had grave consequences. Since Krsna's temples have been treated as material objects, their sanctity has been ignored. Walls crumble and go unrepaired, sanitation remains hopelessly inadequate. Perhaps most distressing for devotees is that many residents of Vrndavana are now unaware of the greatness of their heritage because of inadequate or inaccurate instruction. As a result, although many people traveling between Agra (the Taj Mahal) and Delhi stop in Vrndavana to sightsee, they miss the real point.
Between 1959 and 1965. Srila Prabhupada resided in Vrndavana, in a small room at the Radha-Damodara temple, translating the Sanskrit texts that would form the foundation of the Hare Krsna movement. At last, at seventy years of age, he set out for the West to broadcast the message of Lord Krsna: All living beings are part and parcel of Krsna, and the goal of human life is to revive our lost relationship with Him and return to His spiritual kingdom, the original Vrndavana, known as Goloka-Vrndavana. Before he passed away in Vrndavana in 1977, Srila Prabhupada urged his disciples (now several thousand strong) to take seriously their duty of preaching the glories of Vrndavana all over the world.
The secret of Vrndavana is that it is not different from Krsna Himself. So a visit to Vrndavana is a direct experience of the eternal spiritual world. The Vedic literature describes that everything connected with the Lord is as worshipable as He, for it partakes of His spiritual nature. A piece of cloth worn by the Deity or a pinch of dust from the land of Vrndavana is often kept in a container on a temple altar and worshiped. Just as Krsna is glorious and worshipable, Krsna's abode—Vrndavana—is glorious and worshipable. The trees, the roads, the rivers, the peacocks—everything is of the same spiritual nature as Krsna Himself.
When Krsna descends to this material world, His spiritual kingdom also descends, just as an entourage accompanies an important head of state. So devotees do not consider Vrndavana part of the material world, and they take shelter there with full faith that they are living in Krsna's own abode.
Another reason Vrndavana is glorious is that Krsna's divine qualities reveal themselves here in full. Love of God in Vrndavana is devoid of the awe and reverence generally equated with devotion in Western religions. The unique mood of Vrndavana is pure attachment to Krsna without reverence or personal motive. There is a particular glory to that part of Vrndavana called Ramana-reti. The name literally means "pleasurable sands," or, as Srila Prabhupada described it. "the shimmering silver sands" where the Lord enjoyed pastimes as a cowherd boy with His brother Balarama and Their friends. It was here that Srila Prabhupada chose to build the Krsna-Balarama project.
The location was ideal, but for the glories of Vrndavana to be properly broadcast, the project would have to be built and expanded by expert devotees who understood the Vrndavana mood. Srila Prabhupada envisioned a team of fully surrendered devotees who would rebuild the city—starting with Ramana-reti—and inspire others to carry that devotional spirit to all corners of the globe.
The devotees of the Krsna-Balarama project have worked hard to fulfill Srila Prabhupada's vision. Their success is visible in the progress of constant construction and expansion, in the vitality of the international gurukula school, in the hundreds of guests from around the world who visit each month after hearing of the project. It is there in the constant chanting of the holy names, in the mass distribution of prasadam (sanctified foods offered to the Deities of Krsna and Balarama), and in the consummate devotional practices. In fact, there is no higher standard of worship anywhere in Vrndavana. Pujaris (temple attendants) from other temples come to study the standard set by Orhkara dasa, head pujari at the Krsna-Balarama temple.
"I try to instill a real sense of personalism in the Deity worship," French-born Omkara says. "After all, Krsna is the Supreme Person. Pujaris must learn to care for Him as such, with love and devotion. That is what pleases Krsna. Otherwise, just reciting mantras and going through the motions—ritual, that's all."
In Vrndavana and surrounding villages, devotees live happily by protecting cows and cultivating simple crops. Krsna Himself showed how an agricultural economy based on cow protection could solve all economic problems. Bulls pull the plow, dried cow dung serves as fuel for heating, cooking, and even electricity, and cow's milk of course is a staple food from which hundreds of other preparations can be made.
Gunarnava dasa, the Welsh-born president of the Vrndavana project, remembers when the temple acquired its first cow. "Srila Prabhupada told me back in 1972 that his disciples in India were getting sick from drinking buffalo milk. It was necessary, he said, that we produce our own cow's milk. So I saved up a few rupees and bought two cows. Now there are nearly seventy in our gosala [dairy complex], and some government officials who recently came to inspect said this was the best gosala in the whole Agra district. That's because the cows know they are loved and protected and in return they give abundant milk, just as when Krsna was present."
The gosala, a mile down the road from the main temple, resounds with the cooing of peacocks and wild parrots. Time seems to stand still here, and that may be a mixed blessing: while invoking Krsna's presence with its tranquility, the country-resort-like atmosphere can lead to lethargy.
"Staying in Vrndavana can be both agony and ecstasy," says Dutch-born Surabhir-abhipalayantam Swami. Architect for many ISKCON projects, including the Krsna-Balarama temple, he has spent the last ten years traveling extensively throughout India. "In one sense, the very deep relationship between the individual and God that is nourished in Vrndavana is just too high for most people to grasp. Without great spiritual insight, you can fall asleep here. So Srila Prabhupada gave us a varied program of worship and practical service. Actually, he wanted gosvamis [advanced, renounced devotees] to run our temple in Vrndavana, people one hundred percent committed to Vrndavana, like the six Gosvamis. Of course, the original gosvamis are still known and accepted by scholars as the founders of the Vaisnava [devotional] renaissance, but the concept of how bhakti can be applied in the world today—that was Srila Prabhupada's specific contribution. He translated Lord Caitanya's vision into a contemporary, international language."
Surabhi Swami envisions great things for the future. His main project now is building on the Krsna-Balarama grounds an elaborate samadhi tomb, a memorial to Srila Prabhupada, whose body is interred near the entrance to the temple. In addition, Surabhi Swami has planned several more guesthouses (the present one can receive up to 250 visitors), a theater for devotional dramas, another building for the gurukula school, expansion of the gosala into a full-fledged dairy farm with the biggest cow protection program in all of India, and more renovation efforts elsewhere in Vrndavana. "It will start here." he says, "from Krsna-Balarama. Then we can extend the Krsna culture around the world."
That expansive ambition seems to pervade the project. Nobody thinks small at Krsna-Balarama. American-born Dhanurdhara Swami, who holds a degree in education from the State University of New York and is headmaster of the Bhaktivedanta Gurukula at Krsna-Balarama, sees the school as Vrndavana's gift to the future. " It may be India's traditional system of education, but it is meant for the whole world," he says. "In this country we receive great encouragement, because people are aware of the importance of spiritual training for young people. During the hot summer months we take the boys traveling all over India, and people constantly shower us with gifts and invitations to their homes. They feel honored to receive gurukula students, whom they see as the spiritual leaders of tomorrow."
In addition to standard academic instruction, gurukula students learn devotional arts. Bhaktisiddhanta dasa, who met devotees while studying art in Italy on a U.S. Government fellowship, directs the crafts workshops in Vrndavana. Trained as a professional painter and sculptor, he finds working in Vrndavana both materially and spiritually advantageous. "The traditional arts evolve from realization," he explains. "In Vrndavana, an artist is surrounded by Krsna's transcendental world, so the inspiration for making art happen is always around us. Not only for its inception, but for its meaning and growth as well. Also, primary materials are in abundance, so production costs are lower than anywhere else I know of. It's an ideal combination."
Bhaktisiddhanta has taken part in the expansion of the Krsna-Balarama complex for more than five years, acting as draftsman in the arduous task of translating concepts into detailed architectural plans. He is Surabhi Swami's chief assistant on the samadhi construction.
Apart from the hundreds of European and American devotees who come to visit Krsna-Balarama twice a year during traditional festivals, tourists constantly fill the guesthouse and vegetarian restaurant, which are considered Vrndavana's finest. The Krsna-Balarama devotees bend over backwards to make their guests feel as comfortable as possible. Indian-born Tapo-maya dasa, manager of the guesthouse, generally has to bend a little more than the others. "A pilgrimage doesn't have to be a great austerity," he says. "Many people just wouldn't come if there were no guesthouse." He proudly pulls out the house's guest book. Comments such as "a memorable visit" and "a very cordial stay" are signed by government officials, university scholars, and a few notable celebrities from the stage and screen.
Cuban-born Krta-karma dasa, Krsna-Balarama's vice-president, reflects on the project's mosaic of nationalities. "Srila Prabhupada broadcast Vrndavana's glories through his books, which have gone out by the millions around the world. That is why we receive so many nationalities here. Sometimes, in our Bhagavad-gita classes. we have to translate into five languages. Among the devotees living here are Americans, Italians, Indians, Swiss, and Canadians. The leader of our chanting party is the son of the British attache to Israel. Our registrar is from Scotland. As for me, well, we get a lot of Russian visitors, and they are often surprised to find a Cuban who has renounced the materialism of the West to take to spiritual life. This is really a United Nations of the spiritual world."
Krta-karma tells about an elderly man from Damascus who had received an Arabic translation of Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita and decided that to find spiritual life and God he would have to see India. "Not just anywhere in India," Krta-karma recalls, "but Vrndavana. He came and spent practically the whole time here at Krsna-Balarama. Of course he visited the many temples and holy places, which is only proper, but like many others he soon realized that at Krsna-Balarama Srila Prabhupada has built an oasis of pure spiritual life. There are no caste distinctions here, no decay from negligence—nothing but devotional service to Krsna. Naturally, Krsna is everywhere in Vrndavana, but here His presence is distinct and clear."
Surabhi Swami adds, "I remember my own initial contact with devotees, when I was first coming around to the temple in Amsterdam. Everyone there spoke so eloquently about this magical place called Vrndavana that I decided I had to go and find out for myself whether everything they were saying was true. I think that's what Srila Prabhupada had in mind for the Krsna-Balarama project: a confirmation that the spiritual world really does exist."
After you speak with the devotees, your vision of Vrndavana changes. The squalor fades and a sense of transcendence emerges. To enhance that sensation, sit in the marble courtyard of the Krsna-Balarama temple and listen to the Sanskrit and Bengali poetry the devotees sing while playing mrdanga drums and small brass cymbals. Watch the constant flow of visitors, or go chanting in the afternoon with the sixty children of the gurukula through the streets and marketplaces of the city. Gradually the Vrndavana mood sets in, and one begins to appreciate some of the glories of this wonderful place, Vrndavana.
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Could you answer some questions of mine? I have been a life member of your movement for six years and have read every book by Srila Prabhupada. I've visited many temples the world over and I've read every BACK TO GODHEAD magazine for the last twelve years. I would like to know why you never seem to write articles on Krsna consciousness in the black community? I've seen so many talented black devotees. I feel you owe it to yourselves to do some articles about them.
I have also met Bhakti-tirtha Swami, who I thought and think to be a great pure soul. I feel you should at least do a full-length article about him, not just a news story. I feel that this would enliven black people by helping them to see that Krsna consciousness is international and not restricted to a particular class of people.
I also wish to request more articles on Latin people. I've visited many temples in South America. Why not do an article on Krsna consciousness in Latin America? You've done some on Australia, New Zealand, Paris, Germany, etc. Why not some articles on the two classes of people I have mentioned?
OUR REPLY: Thank you for your suggestions, especially the one about Bhakti-tirtha Swami. He's on the move so much it's hard to catch up with him. But as soon as we can we'd love to run an article on him. Within the last several years, we have published articles on Latin America—"The Sankirtaneros of Mexico" and "The Krsna Culture Comes to Latin America," to mention just two. And just after you wrote us we published '"A Great Fortune for the People of Trinidad,'" an article about how black devotees in that Caribbean island opened a new temple.
In a higher sense, of course, a devotee of Krsna knows that the color of someone's skin is no more important than the color of his shirt. He sees the inner self, the soul, which is neither black nor white nor Latin. According to the Bhagavad-gita, each of us, regardless of what kind of body we have, is a spiritual soul, a part of Krsna eternally related to Him as a loving servant. Here at BACK TO GODHEAD, this spiritual identity concerns us more than what percentage of black, white, or Latin faces appears on our pages.
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I have received your magazine for many years, and I always look forward each month to receiving such a wonderful magazine in my mail. Without this magazine I have no spiritual life; it's like a life raft in the ocean of materialism.
On April 12, 1982, at about 8 p.m., Akincana Krsnadasa Babaji Maharaja passed away from this world. A pure devotee of Lord Krsna, he was a disciple of Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Maharaja. Thus he was also a Godbrother of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder and spiritual preceptor of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
Srila Prabhupada himself had spoken of Krsnadasa as niskincana, "having no material attachments," and paramahamsa, "a swanlike pure devotee."
In November of 1977, just a few days before Srila Prabhupada himself had passed away, Krsnadasa had come to visit him. Krsnadasa would chant for a while, talk with Srila Prabhupada, and sometimes break into laughter, even while everyone else in the room was somber and silent. Because Krsnadasa Babaji had a transcendental viewpoint, he did not mourn or feel morose; he knew that Srila Prabhupada was always with Krsna in this life and would be with Him in the next.
Krsnadasa Babaji Maharaja was a great well-wisher to Srila Prabhupada's disciples. And when they would ask him questions, his usual answer was "Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare." Although highly educated in the schools of his native Bengal and fluent in English, he spoke English only rarely. Mostly, he just kept chanting Hare Krsna.
Sometimes when a devotee would offer him respect by bowing down before him and say, "Please give me your mercy," Krsnadasa Babaji Maharaja would say, "No. you please give me your mercy. I need it more."
That Krsnadasa was a babaji meant that he did not actively preach Krsna consciousness, but that he always engaged in devotional service to Lord Krsna, especially by hearing and chanting Krsna's holy names. He had no disciples, but he was dear to Srila Prabhupada and his disciples and all the devotees of the Lord.
We would see him in Mayapur or Vrndavana, the, holy abodes, of Lord Krsna. He would be dressed in a simple white cloth that reached barely to his knees, and he seemed to have no other worldly possessions. He was always jolly—wherever he was, whatever was going on, his response would be to say, "Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna," and sometimes laugh, tike a Bengali version of a leprechaun. But when he picked up a drum and began to sing the glories of Krsna, he would play the drum with masterful expertise and sing with intense devotional concentration; his voice expressing his deep inner feelings of love for Krsna. He would go to various places in Vrndavana and sit and chant Krsna's glories, with tears of ecstatic love in his eyes.
In March of 1981, after a serious illness, Krsnadasa Babaji decided to go to Nandagrama to spend his last days. Nandagrama is the part of Vrndavana to which Lord Krsna, in His pastimes on earth, had been brought by His father for protection from the demonic king Kamsa. On the edge of Nandagrama there is a place called Pavana-sarovara, where Sanatana Goswami, the great devotee of Lord Caitanya, had performed devotional service. This is the place where Krsnadasa Babaji chose to stay.
He asked us to arrange to bring him there from Vrndavana City, and we did so. When we asked him if there was any instruction he could give us, he just laughed and said that his only instruction was to chant Hare Krsna. "That's all there is." He didn't keep a diary, but he kept a small songbook in which he would write notes. On the last page of this book, which was located near his bed, he wrote that the chanting of the holy name of Krsna is the true nectar. The holy name is like honey, he wrote. The last entry in the book was "Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare."
(Aboard Dominican Airlines, en route to Santo Domingo)
On this plane almost all talk is in Spanish. Reading matter reflects a Spanish bias: the newspaper report on the war in the South Atlantic calls the islands "Las Malvinas" rather than "the Falklands." I realize how language alone counts for a lot. For example, Spanish-speaking Venezuela is threatening to annex a large part of English-speaking Guyana, and the Guyanese associate the Spanish language itself with the threat. I see a cartoon in a Guyanese newspaper that shows some boys talking among themselves. "What's the Spanish word for welcome?" one of them asks. Then Pat the Patriot comes upon the boys and says, "You shouldn't be interested in the word for welcome. If you want to learn Spanish, you should learn how to say, 'Invasores, Mantenganse Afuera' ('Invaders Keep Out'). "
I reflect that if people were Krsna conscious, they would find a basis for agreement despite differences of race, nationality, or language. Life in the temples of the Hare Krsna movement demonstrates this power of Krsna consciousness for reconciliation. There devotees learn pure God consciousness, love of God beyond all bodily designations. Even from a cultural or humanistic perspective, the Krsna conscious devotees in temples throughout the world show a remarkable ability to mix together different races and languages and still live in peace.
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(At the Hare Krsna temple in Santo Domingo)
The buildings in this quarter are squeezed tightly together, and I hear rock guitars playing now, the music drifting through the jalousied windows of my room above the temple. The buzz of a motorcycle passing on the road soon mingles with auto horns and the sound of the pujari (priest) rintrig his bell in the temple downstairs.
Sesa dasa, my traveling companion, says that in this pleasant tropical clime people don't watch the problems of world politics so closely. They tend to drift mildly in this climate, where you can pick ripe mangoes from the trees.
Is it wrong to live this way? From our point of view, the only thing wrong is that human beings are ignoring the ultimate problem of life—namely, the cycle of repeated birth, old age, disease, and death.
Anything that keeps one from pursuing self?realization is wrong, whether it be the passionate money?making of the northerners or the more ease?loving way of the tropics people. Unless a person comes to understand his eternal, spiritual nature, he wastes his rare human life.
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Some friends tell me that if I want to communicate seriously with those who are not devotees of Krsna, I must immerse myself more in topical events and world politics. They say the "average man" is always thinking of politics, war, and the economy. But is that actually his main concern? Or is he more like the devotee of Krsna: tired of the tragic spectacle of world events?
The experts tell us we are products of our cultural conditioning. And it's a fact: We are taxed, abused, flattered, brainwashed, wooed, titillated, corrupted, misled, and ignored by those who control the government, the media, and educational institutions. The public is also to blame for the current state of things, which finds us with no goal but gratification of the bodily senses, cynical toward higher truth as we work daily in tedious jobs, addicted to harmful substances and activities, morally irresponsible, and not really thinking much about life except for how to survive from one day to the next.
From what I've seen, most people are rather hopeless: they don't think they can solve their problems themselves, and they don't expect anything from the government. Then where is hope? In Krsna consciousness. The real difference between the devotee of Krsna and the nondevotee is that the nondevotee doesn't think that the prospect of self-realization offers him any hope but the devotee does. So from our viewpoint the people of Kali-yuga, the present Age of Quarrel, have boxed themselves in. Although they know they're not happy in the materialistic rat race, they're not interested in the way out: Krsna consciousness.
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(Evening arrival on El Gurabo Mountain, Puerto Rico)
Birds' singing like chimes, whistles; three-note melodies, crickets making sounds like delicate hammers chipping a fine stone; also hoots, twitters, coos, a faraway rooster crowing—a chorus of evening creatures rises to the top of this mountain.
Early next morning I am also about to vibrate, by chanting on my beads Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This countryside mountain is a delightful place, but we don't conclude, as do the pantheists, that the birds' songs are equal to the singing of the name of God. Yes, in one sense everything is God: He is present in all of nature through the expansion of His energies. But He is personally present in full in His holy name, and one must be able to hear the holy name of God and the science of God to understand Him fully.
I know that more wars are coming. Death is taking its toll at every moment, for both the devotees of Krsna and the nondevotees. Each person's death is coming before long. But chanting the Lord's names will save us, whether we're in a cabin atop El Gurabo Mountain amid birds' choruses and predawn-dark trees, or in any other part of the world.
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In Guyana there are shortages of basic commodities, like food. Government signs along the highways urge people to grow their own: "Heed the need, plant a seed."
My disciple Abhay dasa (his name means "one who takes shelter at the feet of Krsna, the fearless one") comes into my room carrying a kerosene lantern. A minute ago the lights went out. Abhay smiles and says, "They give us one week with electricity and one week without."
"Why?" I ask.
"There is no money," he replies, smiling.
His smile reassures me and we laugh. I can see he is transcendental to the deprivation.
And despite the shortages, our temple in Guyana holds a wonderful festival while I am there. Ten new devotees are initiated, a young couple is married, and the Deities of Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda are installed on the altar. Two hundred guests attend the festivities and enjoy a sumptuous feast, just as in other ISKCON centers around the world.
I return to America confident that Krsna is flourishing in the Caribbean.—SDG