By overcoming our material desires
A lecture given in Vrndavana, India, in 1972
tac chraddadhana munayo
"The Absolute Truth is realized by the seriously inquisitive student or sage who is well equipped with knowledge and who has become detached by rendering devotional service and hearing the Vedanta-sruti." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.12)
First of all we must know that the purpose of life is to realize the Absolute Truth. This human form of life is not meant for being spoiled by our living like the dogs and hogs. The dogs and hogs are busy day and night laboring very hard to find food and sex. Nature has arranged things in such a way that they have no other business. But human life is not meant for that purpose. Rather it is a chance, given by nature, to realize the Absolute Truth.
According to the Vedic scriptures, we have passed through 8,400,000 forms of life, but only in this human form—and especially in the civilized human form—can we realize the Absolute Truth. Try to understand this example: A high government official is given all facilities—good living conditions, a good apartment, nice salary, many servants. What is the purpose? So that with a cool brain, a satisfied mind, he'll be able to render valuable service to the state. Similarly, the human being has been given so much facility: plentiful grains, fruits, flowers, and milk, along with the intelligence to construct nice houses, roads, and cities. Why? So he can live peacefully and try to realize the Absolute Truth—not so he can accumulate bodily comforts and enjoy his senses. No.
In the Western world, for example, the people have been endowed with so many facilities for a comfortable life, but because they do not know how to utilize them, there is so much chaos and confusion. The young boys and girls are turning into hippies because they find the so-called comfortable life of their parents hackneyed. The same wine, the same women, the same motorcar, the same road—it has become disgusting to them.
That is nature's way, because human beings are not meant to live a comfortable life of sense gratification. As stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam [1.2.10], human life is meant for tattva-jijnasa, inquiry into the Absolute Truth. Earn money, live comfortably, but utilize the bulk of your time for realizing the Absolute Truth. That is the aim of our life.
Now, since our only business is realizing the Absolute Truth, we must know what that Absolute Truth is. This is stated in the Vedanta-sutra [1.1.2]: janmady asya yatah. "The Absolute Truth, or Brahman, is the original cause of everything, the cause of all causes." And who is that cause of all causes? The Brahma-samhita states, isvarah paramah krsnah . . . sarva-karana-karanam: "Krsna, the Supreme Controller, is the cause of all causes."
So, our inquiry into the Absolute Truth begins when we ask, "Why have I come into this material world? Why am I suffering the threefold miseries of life? * [*The threefold miseries are those caused by one's own body and mind, those caused by other living beings, and those caused by natural disturbances.] I do not wish to die, but death is forced upon me. I do not want to become old, but old age is forced upon me. Why?" These are the proper inquiries for a human being.
But unfortunately most people aren't interested in these questions. They're simply interested in asking, "Where is money? Where is money? Where is money?" As Sukadeva Gosvami says in the Srimad-Bhagavatam [2.1.3],
nidraya hriyate naktam
"People are spoiling their nights simply by sleeping or sex, and during the day they are working very hard to get some money. And if they get money, then they waste their time spending it for relatives, children, and soon."
We should not spoil our lives in this way. Life's purpose is different. The problem is that the people of the modern civilization do not know that the purpose of life is to realize Krsna, or Visnu (na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum). They are trying to make political adjustments or social adjustments to solve their many problems. The United Nations has been trying to maintain peace in the world for forty years, but still war is going on between many nations, although everyone is busy in politics and diplomacy. This is not the way the problems of life can be solved.
The solution to the problems of life can actually be found in this Krsna consciousness movement. Those who are intelligent should study this movement and try to apply Krsna consciousness in all fields of activity—political, religious, economic, social. This is the real inquiry into the Absolute Truth.
Now, this verse of the Bhagavatam describes how one can become interested in taking advantage of the real value of human life. The value of human life is that we can inquire into the Absolute Truth, but how can one develop the inclination to inquire in this way? Normally, this inclination is there in everyone's heart, but now it has been covered by artificial propensities. Lord Caitanya says, nitya-siddha krsna-prema sadhya kabhu naya: "Love for Krsna is eternally within everyone's heart; it is not an artificial imposition on the mind." Naturally, every sane man has the tendency to ask, "What am I? What is God? What is my relationship with Him? Why am I suffering?" There are so many questions one should ask.
So, here it is suggested that if you are actually serious about tattva-jijnasa, inquiring into the Absolute Truth, you must have some preliminary faith (sraddha). The first thing is faith (adau sraddha). That is the beginning of Krsna conscious life. Srila Rupa Gosvami* [*Srila Rupa Gosvami is an exalted devotee of Krsna who lived in the sixteenth century and wrote many books in Sanskrit delineating the science of Krsna consciousness.] confirms this; he has given a formula for attaining the perfectional stage of life, love of God, and he says it begins with faith.
We should always remember that this Krsna consciousness movement is teaching people how to love God. This is the sum and substance of our movement. Unfortunately, people have no idea of who God is, or of what His form is—what to speak of loving Him. Generally they think God has no form. If anyone has advanced a little in spiritual life, he comes to the point of nirakara, or nirvisesa-brahman, the formless conception of the Absolute Truth. That is the first step in God realization. But beyond that they don't want to proceed; they think the Brahman stage is final. But it is not final. You have to advance further and realize Paramatma, the Supersoul in the heart. And finally you have to advance to the point of realizing Bhagavan, the Supreme Lord.
So, we are teaching people how to love the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That means one who has surpassed the realm of Brahman and Paramatma—he can understand the process for loving God. But if you have no idea of God, how can you love Him? You cannot love the air or the sky. You must love a person, with form. But in the beginning we have no idea of what the form of God is. Therefore the sastra says, isvarah paramah krsnah sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah: "The supreme controller is Krsna, and He has an eternal form of bliss and knowledge." We have to have faith in these descriptions.
Srila Rupa Gosvami therefore says, adau sraddha: "In the beginning one must have a little faith." We must have the firm conviction that if we love Krsna, or God, this is the perfection of our lives. We must be firmly convinced that if we simply surrender unto the lotus feet of Krsna, He will save us from all suffering. He assures us of this in the Bhagavad-gita [18.66]: aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami. "Do not worry. I will deliver you from all sinful reactions."
People suffer on account of sinful activities. The miseries we are suffering now are the reactions of our past sinful activities, and by performing sinful activities in this life we are preparing to enter another body for more suffering. Everyone within this material world has a material body, and it is to be understood that this body is due to our past sinful activities. Therefore, the Bhagavatam [5.5.4] says, we should not commit any more sins: na sadhu manye yata atmano 'yam asann api klesada asa dehah. Because we have these bodies, we are suffering the threefold miseries, so why should we act in such a way that we will have to take another body and continue our term of suffering? And we may not get a human body in our next life. Suppose we get the body of a tree. Then we'll have to stand for hundreds of years, suffering scorching heat, shivering cold, and blasting wind.
The problem is that people have no knowledge that the spirit soul is eternal, that it is transmigrating through different types of bodies and suffering different types of miserable conditions. Out of ignorance people think, "I now have a very nice body. I am eating nicely, sleeping nicely, mating nicely." But this is the business of the hogs and dogs; it is not the business of a human being. A human being must be serious about understanding the value of life and prepare himself for the next life.
In the next life you should go back to Krsna. He says in the Bhagavad-gita [15.6], yad gatva na nivartante tad dhama paramam mama: "Those who return to My supreme abode never have to return to this miserable material world." Krsna comes here to this world. He incarnates here, to canvass, "My dear sons, please come back home. Why are you suffering here? Why have you created so much rascaldom—politics and economics, this and that? So many things are encumbering you. Just please come to Me; you'll be happy." This is the whole instruction of the Bhagavad-gita.
When Krsna comes He shows us His Vrndavana pastimes and invites us: "You can dance with Me also. You can play with Me just like the cowherd boys. And I shall give you protection. There are so many demons coming to attack us, but I'll protect you." Jolly life—anandamayo 'bhyasat. This is Krsna consciousness.
Krsna comes personally to invite us back home, but we are so stubborn that we do not take to this Krsna consciousness. In the Bhagavad-gita [7.15], Krsna says, na mam duskrtino mudhah prapadyante naradhamah. These are the classes of men who do not surrender unto Krsna. Who are they? First, duskrtis, those who are always engaged in sinful activities. Then, mudhas, rascals without any knowledge. Next, naradhamas, the lowest of mankind. This human form of life is meant for understanding Krsna and surrendering unto Him, but they'll not do that. They're busy doing so much rascaldom, but they'll not surrender to Krsna. This is the business of the naradhamas.
Now, you may say, "Oh, there are so many educated persons—B.A.'s, M.A.'s, Ph.D.'s—who do not take to Krsna consciousness. Are they all naradhamas, the lowest of mankind?" Yes. The immediate answer is yes. "After passing such big, big examinations they have become naradhamas?" Yes. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura confirms it: jada-vidya jato mayara vaibhava. "Materialistic education is simply an expansion of maya, illusion." The advancement of materialistic education is making people more and more attached to this material world. Human life should be used to attain jnana-vairagya, knowledge and detachment. We should try to acquire knowledge about the value of life, and when we have actually attained to that platform of knowledge we should be detached from this material world. That is required. But what is happening? There is no knowledge of the value of life, and people are simply becoming more and more attached to this material world. Therefore Krsna says that the advancement of materialistic education means mayayapahrta-jnana: "The illusory energy has plundered the real purpose of knowledge." The conclusion is that the big materialistic scholars are all naradhamas, the lowest of human beings.
Now, why is this happening to so many people? Asuram bhavam asritah: because they have taken shelter of the philosophy of atheism. "There is no God," they say. "Why are you going to the temple? There is no God." Or else they say, "Everyone is God. I am God. You are God. God is everywhere—except in the temple." They actually preach this philosophy: "God is everywhere, so why are you going to the temple?" That means they think that God must be everywhere except in the temple. So, this nonsense is going on, and therefore these big, big atheistic scholars are all naradhamas, the lowest of mankind.
Don't follow these naradhamas. Be faithful. Try to understand God from those who are actually followers of God (evam parampara-praptam). If you try to learn about the Absolute Truth from those in the disciplic succession coming from Krsna, you can understand your relationship with God and how you can get out of the miserable conditions of material life. This is possible.
So, everything begins with faith (sraddha). For example, the people here have come with a little faith. That faith is like a spark. Now you have to fan it so that it becomes a blazing fire. How? Srila Rupa Gosvami has given us the formula. If you have a little faith in the Absolute Truth, Bhagavan, then the next step is association with sadhus (sadhu-sanga). Who is a sadhu? Sadhu means "devotee of Krsna." It is not that a sadhu is one who has a big beard and a moustache and orange clothes but he is without any sense of Krsna. He's not a sadhu. A sadhu is one who is fully engaged in the service of Krsna. He has no other business than to love Krsna. This is the symptom of a sadhu.
Then, the next step is bhajana-kriya, taking up the process of Krsna consciousness a little seriously. For example, first of all these boys and girls came to one of our centers out of inquisitiveness, and they associated with the devotees. Then gradually their faith increased and they began chanting Hare Krsna and trying to understand our philosophy. Then they came forward: "Swamiji, please give me initiation." This is the effect of sadhu-sanga, association with the devotees.
This Krsna consciousness movement is meant for giving everyone the opportunity to associate with devotees of Krsna. By associating with devotees, one will also become a devotee. If you associate with drunkards, you gradually become a drunkard, but if you associate with devotees, you gradually become a devotee. This is a natural sequence.
Now, the next stage is anartha-nivrtti—being cleansed of all sinful activities. Actually, unless you are free from all sinful activities you cannot engage yourself in devotional service. Krsna confirms this in the Bhagavad-gita [7.28]: yesam tv anta-gatam papam . . . bhajante main drdha-vratah. "One can become firmly fixed in devotional service when one is freed from anarthas—unwanted things, or sinful activities."
So, these are the different steps in the process of attaining love of God. First you must have a little preliminary faith, then you must associate with devotees, then take up the process, and then come to the stage of freedom from all unwanted habits. When all your unwanted habits are vanquished, you'll have firm faith, nistha, and be able to continue steadily up to prema, love of God.
Thank you very much.
Inspired by one of Srila Prabhupada's unpublished essays,
by Rupanuga Dasa
Srila Prabhupada originated the annual international gathering of devotees at Mayapur and Vrndavana, India, to celebrate the anniversary of the appearance of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. [Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Krsna Himself in the role of His own devotee. He appeared in India five hundred years ago to teach love of God through the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra.] It was to create inspiration for spreading Krsna consciousness around the world. After the festival, the devotees were to return to their various countries, enthusiastic to take advantage of the opportunities another year would certainly bring.
I arrived early in Vrndavana, the sacred place where Lord Krsna enacted His childhood pastimes, for the second part of the festival. Hoping to be inspired, I chanted extra rounds of the Hare Krsna mantra on my beads, read more in Srila Prabhupada's books, and contemplated my plans for the coming year. Here in Vrndavana, twenty years earlier, Srila Prabhupada had made plans to change the course of history. Now, many of those plans had already manifested, but the rest awaited the cooperative efforts of his faithful followers. Certainly, I reasoned, in this spiritually intensified atmosphere, I might be given inspiration to help fulfill Srila Prabhupada's desires.
Some resident devotees prevailed upon me to present the morning class on the Srimad-Bhagavatam. The next morning in the spacious courtyard of the Krishna-Balaram temple, I respectfully requested the blessings of the devotees for a good year ahead. These devotees were dedicated to serving Lord Krsna in Vrndavana, and their austerities deserved appreciation, because no one could remain there unless his devotion was very pure and strict. Misbehavior could lead to being expelled by Lord Krsna's arrangements; the devotees were convinced that Krsna Himself meted out justice in Vrndavana.
Later that day, I considered what Bhurijana, my first student in Krsna consciousness and now a resident of Vrndavana, had told me: "When you come to Vrndavana, Krsna holds a mirror up to you." He meant that in the light of Krsna consciousness the foibles of false ego and materialistic attachments would be openly revealed as relative, temporary, and illusory, thereby reducing their influence. And I resolved to make the conscious effort, as Lord Krsna directs in the Bhagavad-gita, to reject all desires arising from false ego—such as the desire for honor and prestige.
The benevolent omnipresence of Srila Prabhupada facilitated my soul-searching. Wherever I turned, Prabhupada was there—within his samadhi shrine, on his vyasasana, on the altar, in his quarters, and in his picture hanging in every room of the Krishna-Balaram International Guesthouse. The sign on the cornerstone of his quarters stated: "The Home of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada." Each morning I would go inside, offer my obeisances, and beg for his blessings for my preaching plans.
One morning, as I entered the main room of Srila Prabhupada's quarters, I stopped at the tall, glass-topped display table just inside the entrance. The display included a tiny notebook (with notations Srila Prabhupada had made for a meeting with Indira Gandhi in 1975), Srila Prabhupada's old reading glasses, some of his old business cards, and other items. A handwritten, laminated manuscript in one corner of the display table caught my eye. The faded script was hard to read through the reflections on the glass, but the title was clear: "Perfection at Home: A Unique Contribution to the Fallen Humanity." Perfection at home! Why, I had been meditating on this very idea, considering how to bring Krsna consciousness into the homes of people unable to regularly visit a temple of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).
Filled with the expectation of discovering some secret, I went to find the caretaker, Daivi-sakti-devi dasi, who not only agreed to let me borrow the manuscript but also supplied a typewriter, typing paper, and carbons. For the next few days I typed the apparently unpublished essay, treating each paragraph as a revelation. A few words were illegible, a few were missing due to torn pages, but otherwise the manuscript was intact.
Srila Prabhupada began his essay by praising Lord Caitanya as the supreme benefactor of all humanity. Prabhupada then explained how humanity, remaining under the stringent laws of material nature, resembled a small bird who once became befooled by seeing its reflection in a mirror. The foolish bird was continually trying to struggle with the other "shadow bird" in the mirror. Day after day Srila Prabhupada had observed the futile attempts of the small bird to go through the mirror to the other side. The understanding of human beings ought to be different because they know well the illusory nature of the mirror; yet Srila Prabhupada had noted that civilized men, trying to lord it over material resources, appear just as befooled as the little bird. Such foolish persons would be similarly baffled in their attempts, due to their neglecting to learn about the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, and how His multifarious energies always remain completely under His control.
Srila Prabhupada characterized such persons in three ways: the fruitive workers, who want to enjoy the fruits of their labor; the mental speculators, who cherish a desire to become one with God; and the so-called devotees, who worship God to fulfill their material desires. All such persons are given hope by Lord Caitanya, who does not wish to disturb any of them in their respective positions.
The people of Kali-yuga (the modern age of quarrel, hypocrisy, and strife) were already in enough difficulty, being in a spiritually emaciated condition. Even so, out of His causeless mercy, Lord Caitanya gave them special facility—"a right of perfection" that was unattainable even by great sages of other ages. They must, however, reject the notion of merging with God or becoming equal to Him, calculated to be the main stumbling block on the path of spiritual realization. Then they would become more able to hear and realize spiritual knowledge.
By such submissive, aural reception of the powerful spiritual messages from self-realized sources, one is awakened to his original spiritual consciousness. The original spiritual consciousness, which is the inborn quality of every living being, remains in a dormant condition even in the primitive form of human life. Even the savage and uncivilized men of the jungle, who are not trained in the artificial conventions of civilized nations, bow down to the order of the Supreme Powerful. They worship the emblems of theism in the form of the thunderbolt, a big ocean, big mountain and other gigantic phenomena. The dormant obedience to the Supreme is artificially blocked by the conventions of so-called civilized man.
Lord Caitanya did not want people to come under the influence of rascals posing as learned or religious men. According to Srila Prabhupada, there are as many fools and cheaters among religionists as there are among ordinary men. And according to Lord Caitanya, there are as many great souls in the midst of ordinary men as there are in the renounced order. Therefore, Lord Caitanya was not anxious to gather spiritualists from a particular class, community, society, or nation.
Lord Caitanya is for everyone, even for the birds and beasts of the jungle. Some foolish persons consider that Lord Caitanya appeared to save the Hindu religion from the onslaught of the Mohammedans. But Lord Caitanya did not appear to save the Hindus or to declare anything against the Mohammedans. He appeared for the supreme benefit of all living entities in whatever form. He wanted to teach the real source of spiritual life, real religion, as the inborn quality of the living beings.
Srila Prabhupada explained in his essay that Lord Caitanya's teachings were intended to unify people beyond all social, political, and religious designations. His original followers were from all sections of human society. One of His chief followers who was born in the Mohammedan community later became Haridasa Thakura, the preceptor of the chanting of the holy name of Krsna. Two others were ministers, ostracized from the Hindu community because they worked for the ruling Muslim government; they later became Rupa and Sanatana Gosvamis, the greatest teachers of pure devotional service to God.
Another prominent follower of Lord Caitanya was a provincial king, Prataparudra Maharaja, who remained in his exalted position without attachment and always sought the association of Lord Caitanya and the devotees. And there were two brothers, Jagai and Madhai, fallen priests who had become notorious criminals; yet Lord Caitanya reformed them and elevated them to become spiritual masters. Lord Caitanya Himself accepted Sri Ramananda Raya, a provincial governor and householder, as His teacher in the highest spiritual principles.
In the final paragraph, Srila Prabhupada summarized the practical conclusion of Lord Caitanya's teachings:
It is evident that one has only to learn the art (of devotional service] in the approved manner, and no one has to change his position of worldly life. The process of submissive hearing will help one in every way. That will inject the powerful medicine for curing one's material diseases, and that will make one able to receive the message from the innermost region of one's own self. As a matter of fact, BACK TO GODHEAD is the helping medium to convey the self-realized messages of liberated souls.
In other words, it is better to avoid pseudo-religionists and remain at home, learning the teachings of Lord Caitanya by reading from BACK TO GODHEAD magazine and by associating with devotees.
Now it was becoming clearer to me how the teachings of Lord Caitanya could be accepted in people's homes in every town and village. It was a matter of reaching out, going to people in their homes and showing them how to spiritualize their lives at home. They could, if they desired, visit a temple—perhaps remaining there for a few days—and receive a Krsna conscious education. This would be good news. Srila Prabhupada had said people are not so interested in regularly attending churches, mosques, or temples. ISKCON temples, however, are institutions for all devotees to receive training and inspiration, including those who remain at home.
From ISKCON temples so many "spiritual seeds" have been planted over the years by devotees distributing Srila Prabhupada's books. Those seeds would spiritualize the consciousness of many people. The watering of those seeds—the chanting of Hare Krsna and the association of devotees—would make the seeds grow. A seed, when planted and watered, first grows roots and then pushes into the atmosphere, sprouting green leaves and fresh flowers and fruits, creating a pleasant change in the countryside. Similarly, the development of Krsna consciousness would result in a most welcome spiritual reform within society.
Srila Prabhupada, the spiritual revolutionary, compared the Krsna consciousness movement with the Communist revolution, which spread its materialistic philosophy all over the world through the distribution of Communist literature by relatively few men. The readers were cultivated and organized to bring about social, political, and economic change. But unlike the Communist revolution, which ultimately produced another political oligarchy, unable to solve the citizens' problems of birth, death, old age and disease, the spiritual revolution of Krsna consciousness would never result in artificial social and economic structures or in political machinery that allowed one class or group in society to exploit another. Krsna consciousness would develop among the people in general, regardless of race, social status, education, wealth, or religion—a spiritual democracy! Prabhupada's essay stirred up my inherent idealism. I envisioned every book distributed as a future vote for Krsna conscious leadership and every home a hotbed of spiritual revolution.
But I had to bring my mind back to more immediate concerns, for in two days I would leave Vrndavana and return to my regular assignments in America. There wasn't much time. I took a ricksha down to Loi Bazaar, with its tiny shops often stacked to their ceilings with cloth, utensils, and the paraphernalia of worship necessary to supply Vrndavana's five thousand temples. The narrow, dusty street was choked with rickshas, bullock carts, shoppers, and meandering cows.
"Bas," I said to the ricksha walla, motioning him to stop in front of the shop of Vrndavana's most popular bead-maker. I stepped up onto the ledge of the narrow shop.
"Nice tulasi beads, only thirty rupees," he said. "Yes, what do you want?"
He showed me a list of prominent customers, which read like a Who's Who of ISKCON. Then he proceeded to show me such an array of strung tulasi beads that I momentarily forgot my purpose: buying beads for people who wanted to achieve perfection at home. Then I explained that I wanted two hundred strands of nim wood beads, strung on unbreakable nylon cord, but not too long, in case someone wanted to inobtrusively chant on a strand in his pocket.
Later, at the Krishna-Balaram Guesthouse in the coolness of my second-floor room, I must have looked like some miser surveying his precious treasure as I let the bundles of beads run through my hands. But, I thought, what if some of these just become knickknacks on a shelf in someone's home? These beads were so valuable. They could become direct links to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Chanting on them would gradually give consciousness of the Supreme Lord and of the self as His eternal servitor.
How could people be convinced of this truth? I would have to persuade them by logical argument, evidence, and my own conviction. I couldn't force anyone; even Lord Krsna does not tamper with our free will. As the Supersoul in everyone's heart, He would encourage everyone I might encounter to chant Hare Krsna. Ultimately I would simply depend on Krsna's mercy and on the good will of the people. I was confident that intelligent persons would be attracted by Srila Prabhupada's program for perfection at home and would be willing to learn.
Srila Prabhupada had explained in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, while discussing the story of Prthu Maharaja, that "anyone who cooperates with this movement or accepts its principles will get the same result as the workers who are actively propagating Krsna consciousness." There are four ways to help this spiritual cause: with one's intelligence, one's money, one's words, or one's life. Any one or more of these links with Krsna consciousness would bring success.
Sometimes people who have had some contact with the Krsna consciousness movement mistakenly conclude that they must first follow the rules and regulations—and then become Krsna conscious. But Srila Prabhupada often quoted Rupa Gosvami:
tasmat kenapy upayena
"Somehow or other just become Krsna conscious, and the rules and regulations will follow." Misinformed persons, however, often feel discouraged about ever becoming Krsna conscious because the teachings seem too advanced for them and the requirements too stringent. Namely, they think they must first become vegetarians, give up all intoxication, become celibate, stop gambling, and so on. But these principles will automatically follow in the path of chanting. Without changing one's worldly position one has only to learn the art of spiritualizing one's home and consciousness. Initially there need be no change of activities. Changes take place naturally, with realization, step by step. Spiritual practice is always voluntary, and one will perceive his own spiritual advancement just as a hungry man experiences satisfaction after eating a big meal, without someone having to confirm it for him
The "Perfection at Home" program would be step-by-step, depending on the pace of the individual, with no time limit for any stage but encouragement to progress to higher stages. At any time, one would know his stage of advancement and could progress gradually to the point of accepting a spiritual master. During the program, an experienced devotee would be available upon request to give informal instructions, in the home or by correspondence.
The first step would be appreciation for Srila Prabhupada's unique contribution as the great spiritual teacher of the modern age. Such appreciation could be easily achieved by reading the biography Prabhupada: He Built a House in Which the Whole World Can Live. This would be a giant step into Krsna consciousness, and one could ascertain the authenticity of the program, deciding whether to pursue it. The second step, the meditation phase, would consist primarily of chanting Hare Krsna on beads. This would purify one's consciousness and enhance the philosophical phase—readings in Srila Prabhupada's books, perhaps including a correspondence course. Once the process started, there would be no limit. One could go all the way to the Spiritual world.
Srila Prabhupada always freely distributed the mercy of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and his essay had given me a clear philosophical basis and practical strategy for helping him spread that mercy. Once more, just before packing my bags, I again read the final sentence of his essay: "We shall therefore request the people in general, religionists, modern philosophers, and all other enlightened men and women to take advantage of this opportunity and try to attain perfection at home."
Srila Prabhupada had left his home, Vrndavana, to deliver this message to people far away from the spiritual atmosphere of Krsna's sacred land. He had offered people the opportunity to accept that atmosphere into their very homes. And now I, a most insignificant disciple, would return to my duties with renewed enthusiasm to make that message heard.
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
In Sanskrit, man means "mind" and tra means "freeing." So a mantrais a combination of transcendental, spiritual sounds that frees our minds from the anxieties of life in the material world.
Ancient India's Vedic literatures single out one mantra as the maha (supreme) mantra. The Kali-santarana Upanisad explains, "These sixteen words—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—are especially meant for counteracting the ill effects of the present age of quarrel and anxiety."
The Narada-pancaratra adds, "All mantras and all processes for self-realization are compressed into the Hare Krsna maha-mantra." Five centuries ago, while spreading the maha-mantra throughout the Indian subcontinent, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu prayed, "O Supreme Personality of Godhead, in Your holy name You have invested all Your transcendental energies."
The name Krsna means "the all-attractive one," the name Rama means "the all-pleasing one," and the name Hare is an address to the Lord's devotional energy. So the maha-mantra means, "O all-attractive, all-pleasing Lord, O energy of the Lord, please engage me in Your devotional service." Chant the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, and your life will be sublime.
The Krsna-Centered Life In Los Angeles
The Hare Krsna community in L.A. offers
by Mathuresa Dasa and Sangita-Devi Dasi
Early in the morning, an hour or more before the sun rises, several hours before traffic begins to jam the city freeways. and while most residents of Los Angeles County, California, are soundly sleeping, a small Los Angeles neighborhood is entering upon a new day. At 4:30 am. the ornate, high-ceilinged temple room of the Hare Krsna center at 3764 Watseka Avenue resounds with the playing of drums and cymbals as four hundred men, women, and children, wearing bright, clean cotton dhotis and saris, gather to sing the holy names of God and dance before the Deity forms of Sri Sri Rukmini-Dvarakadhisa. Despite the predawn hours, visitors often show up to join the daily service, staying for mantra meditation, the class on the ancient Vedic science of self-realization, and the sumptuous vegetarian breakfast.
In fact, the Los Angeles center of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is especially geared toward welcoming visitors and introducing them to the simple, joyous life of Krsna consciousness. Visitors to Los Angeles ISKCON observe firsthand the great variety of Krsna conscious activities here, and if they like, they can participate in those activities. The Bhagavad-gita says that whatever we do should be done as an offering to the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krsna; this frees us from the anxiety of material life and reestablishes us in our eternal, loving relationship with the Supreme Lord.
A reception center within the temple complex opens at 9 a.m. and features free refreshments, Krsna conscious literature, and video shows from ISKCON Television (ITV). The reception center is actually the home of Rama Raghava dasa and his wife, Satarupa-devi dasi, who take charge of welcoming guests. "My idea," says Rama Raghava, "is to give every guest a proper greeting and show him the home where my wife and I live. In that way he sees a nice family and home that are centered on Krsna." At five-thirty each evening Rama Raghava and Satarupa serve a seven-course dinner to as many as fifty guests and invite them to attend the evening worship at the temple.
Visitors can tour the temple museum, which houses lifesize dioramas depicting episodes and philosophical concepts from India's ancient Vedic literature. The dioramas, sculpted and painted by ISKCON artists in three Los Angeles studios, are integrated with special lighting effects, 35 mm. slides, a stereophonic soundtrack, and solid-state circuitry. Smaller dioramas have been sent to ISKCON projects around the world for devotees to use in explaining the Krsna consciousness philosophy. Artists in Los Angeles have also produced hundreds of paintings to illustrate the Vedic texts translated by ISKCON's founder and spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
More interested visitors can keep in touch with temple activities through the Friends of Lord Krsna (FOLK) program, which numbers almost four thousand members. FOLK members receive books and a monthly newsletter. The Los Angeles FOLK program recently sponsored a four-day Bhagavad-gita seminar in Hawaii, where guests enjoyed sailing aboard the Jaladuta II, ISKCON Hawaii's teakwood ketch, and touring the ISKCON farm. Programs like this allow FOLK members to see for themselves how ISKCON is operating all over the world. Jagaddhatri-devi dasi, head of the FOLK program, is planning further excursions to ISKCON centers in Detroit; Washington, D.C.; and West Virginia. "This FOLK program enables people to identify themselves as devotees of Krsna," says Jagaddhatri. "Srila Prabhupada said that only a small number of people will actually move into our temple communities. So the FOLK program is organizing a Krsna conscious society outside the temples."
In addition to FOLK, a Life Membership program has enlisted the generous support of three hundred families from the Los Angeles Hindu community. Recognizing ISKCON devotees as authentic representatives of the devotional tradition followed by millions of Indians, these life members regularly attend temple services to worship Sri Sri Rukmini-Dvarakadhisa. On special festival days, as many as four thousand Indians come to offer respects to Rukmini-Dvarakadhisa and to feast on delicious krsna-prasadam, food offered to Lord Krsna. Life members are also enthusiastic participants in the Festival of the Chariots at Venice Beach, where every August as many as two hundred and fifty thousand people gather to watch a parade featuring three forty-five-foot-high silk-canopied carts. Introduced to the West by Srila Prabhupada in 1967, the festival has been celebrated in India for thousands of years.
Krsna-prasadam is the main attraction at Govinda's Natural Foods restaurant, located on Venice Boulevard, across from the temple. The restaurant has received enthusiastic reviews from major local papers and magazines and enjoys capacity crowds every day of the week. Devotees prepare and serve hot and cold sandwiches, fresh pastries and desserts, a variety of natural drinks, and full-course dinners featuring Indian, Mexican, Greek, and French dishes—all vegetarian. Govinda's hosts actors and other employees from nearby MGM studios and, being the vegetarian restaurant closest to the Los Angeles Olympic Stadium, has made arrangements to accommodate many additional customers this summer.
Devotees distribute prasadam and Krsna conscious literature throughout the Los Angeles area. Vatsala dasa, the temple president, coordinates all the community's activities and oversees the distribution of books and prasadam at Los Angeles International airport, Griffith Park Observatory, the zoo, and California highway rest stops. The Los Angeles temple distributes more of Srila Prabhupada's books than any of the fifty other temples in North America.
Vatsala also directs Krsna conscious programs at UCLA and California State University, where Krsna clubs meet once a week to discuss the Bhagavad-gita, chant Hare Krsna, and learn how to cook krsna-prasadam. The cooking classes, attended by between thirty and fifty students, are followed by a multicourse vegetarian feast of prasadam, food first offered to Krsna.
Under the direction of Srila Ramesvara Swami—one of the present spiritual masters in the Hare Krsna movement and the director for ISKCON's activities in the western United States—the Los Angeles devotees distribute Krsna consciousness not only in their immediate area but all over the world. The L.A.-based ISKCON Educational Services, for example, mailed out thirty thousand free books in 1983 to all parts of the world.
A dynamic organizer and speaker (please see article on page 24), Srila Ramesvara Swami is pioneering the use of video and other high-tech equipment to publicize the Krsna conscious way of life. With his enthusiastic support, ISKCON Television, which often films in L.A., has produced over 150 programs in the past five years. Devotees conceive, write, shoot, and edit the programs, which are distributed to a worldwide network of 140 temples and asramas as well as to universities and schools.
To inform the media of the worldwide activities of the Hare Krsna movement, the ISKCON Public Affairs office in Los Angeles sends regular newsletters' to seven thousand media professionals in North America. Mukunda Goswami, director of the public affairs office, is also the initiator of "Hare Krsna Food for Life," a world-wide service to feed the needy.
With so much time and energy dedicated to introducing others to Krsna consciousness, you might think the Los Angeles devotees have no time for themselves. The devotees would answer, however, that every person is part and parcel of Krsna, just as leaves and branches are part and parcel of a tree. In the same way that watering the root of a tree nourishes all the leaves and branches, pleasing Krsna benefits everyone, including yourself. Since nothing we can do for Lord Krsna is more pleasing to Him than when we help others reawaken their love for Him, the devotees experience an ever-increasing reciprocation with the Lord as they introduce Krsna consciousness to others. That reciprocation is the only complete satisfaction for the self.
The devotees, therefore, are simultaneously selfless and self-interested. Even while caring for their families or tending their own basic needs, they keep their lives centered on service to the Supreme Lord. Such a completely God-centered spiritual existence is possible for anyone who learns the sublime and time-tested science of Krsna consciousness; and the Los Angeles Hare Krsna temple is an ideal place to learn.
Do We Have to Believe Darwin?
The following conversation between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his disciples took place in October 1975 during an early-morning walk in Durban, South Africa.
Srila Prabhupada: Man came from the ape. So why is man not coming from the ape now?
Devotee: It only happened once, and that was enough to start the whole thing.
Srila Prabhupada: Only once? Another rascaldom! We see the flowers and fruits are coming every season. Why once? This is dogmatic. Do we have to accept it? Our experience is that, by nature's way, the same flower is coming again in the same field,
Devotee: Well, actually Darwin said that there is a missing link.
Srila Prabhupada: What is that missing link? Simply bluffing, and it is going on in the name of science. Just see the fun. Simply misleading, and people are such rascals—civilized man, so-called—they are accepting it as a great theory: "Darwin's theory is a very big discovery."
Simply childish rascaldom. There is no reasoning. There is no sense. Man came from the monkey, they say. So why is he not coming now?
Devotee: Well, sometimes there's a freak of nature.
Srila Prabhupada: "Sometimes"—it is simply for Darwin. To support his rascaldom, nature has to serve him: "sometimes." Just see. Why should we believe all this? "Sometimes" is not nature's law. Nature's law is the same, symmetrical. Nature is not obliged to serve Mr. Darwin. "Sometimes," he said, and only he knew. The rest of us are simply supposed to believe him. "Sometimes" it was done, and it was revealed to Darwin. How did he come to know? How is it that no one but Darwin could understand?
Devotee: They use the same argument against us: that so few people can understand God.
Srila Prabhupada: No. We don't say that. We say that God first spoke to the sun-god, and the sun-god spoke to his son, Manu, and Manu spoke to Iksvaku, who spoke to his son, and in this way, the knowledge came down. Evam parampara-praptam. That is quite reasonable. We don't say, "God spoke to me."
God spoke to Brahma, and Brahma spoke to Narada. Narada spoke to Vyasadeva. Vyasadeva spoke to others. If my forefather said to my grandfather, and my grandfather said to my father, and the same information is passed down through my family, then what is wrong? Evam parampara-praptam. Krsna spoke to Arjuna, and what Arjuna understood, we are understanding in the same way. How Arjuna understood it, is written in the Bhagavad-gita.
We don't accept knowledge like that: "Darwin simply knew it." No. They are number-one rascals, all these so-called scientists. "There is a missing link. Only once from a monkey, man came." What is this nonsense? Do we have to believe this? Does it make any sense? But because Mr. Darwin is speaking we are expected to accept it.
Devotee: Certain changes take place. Just like if you're in a hot climate all the time, your blood thins. If you take that further, all of these changes can mount up to some big physical change.
Srila Prabhupada: No change is taking place. Nature is working symmetrically, always. The sun is rising in the morning. That has been going on for millions, millions, millions, millions of years.
Devotee: Gradually the change is taking place.
Srila Prabhupada: No. What change is taking place? In the morning the sun rises on the eastern side. That is going on. The seasonal flower changes according to the season—winter, spring, summer. Everything is going on symmetrically; Because it is going on symmetrically, we can say that next February it will be a nice season here. Why? Because you have your own experience of last February. We are certain that the same thing will happen next February. Therefore we can say, "There is no such change." This is nature's way: prakrteh kriyamanani gunaih karmani sarvasah. It is very symmetrical. Everything is going on nicely. Nature's way.
Devotee: One of the strong points of Darwin's theory . . .
Srila Prabhupada: I don't find any. Simply foolishness. [Laughter.] A foolish rascal like you will believe it.
Devotee: They argue that five thousand years ago they had no history. So they think that before that time, there was no civilization. Therefore man was like the monkey.
Srila Prabhupada: We don't speculate. We have got millions of years of history. A child may think something, but an elderly man will not think like that. Because the rascals are thinking in some way, do we have to believe it? Why should I take their word?
We are taking the word of Lord Krsna. We accept Him as Supreme. All the great sages accept Him. Why should I accept this rascal Darwin? We are not so foolish. We cannot accept.
Devotee: The scientists always say, "Last year we made a mistake, and now it's all right."
Srila Prabhupada: Hmm. "Now we are advanced." And what is the guarantee that your present theories are correct? You will advance again. That means you are always incorrect.
You say that by chance man came from nature. But you don't find nature working by chance. Therefore your theory is disproved. If your calculations have even one error, then your whole statement must be accepted as nonsense.
Devotee: People think that life is always getting better.
Srila Prabhupada: Therefore, they are rascals. This is called maya [illusion]. They remain rascals, and still they think they are advanced.
A look at the worldwide activities of the
ISKCON Cultural Festival Tours Northeast U.S.
Manhattan, New York—Many residents here have noticed a large, yellow tractor-trailer cruising about town this summer. The logo/banner on both sides of the trailer, complemented by emerald-green pinstripes, reads "Festival of India." The trailer contains sculptural and photographic exhibits, brightly colored tents, a public address system—in short, a portable festival—which Madhuha dasa and a dedicated crew of ISKCON devotees have set up in the city's parks this summer.
"Festival of India" is a dramatic presentation of ISKCON's cultural and philosophical heritage. Exhibits on vegetarian cooking, reincarnation, spiritual education, and karma—to name a few—attract thousands of New Yorkers to the festival tents. "Srila Prabhupada told us on many occasions," says Srila Ramesvara Swami, one of ISKCON's spiritual masters in charge of its affairs in New York, "that America can be enlightened by cultural presentations." The unique position of the Vedic culture—the culture in which ISKCON has its roots—is that it imparts to its participants and observers the eternal truths of factual spiritual life. The difference between the body and the soul, the relation of the soul to the Supreme Soul, and the perfection of that relation are all subject matters that are readily understood by anyone in contact with the Vedic cultural milieu.
ISKCON has established many cultural exhibits across North America, as well as in Europe, India, and other parts of the world. The recently opened Bhaktivedanta Cultural Center at the former Fisher mansion in Detroit, Prabhupada's Palace of Gold in West Virginia, and the original FATE diorama museum in Los Angeles are major cultural showpieces for ISKCON in the United States.
The "Festival of India" contains all of the same cultural themes in a traveling package. For four years Madhuha and his crew have traveled across the United States and Canada setting up the displays in parks and city squares and at schools and colleges. Last spring they visited Yale, Rutgers, Wesleyan, and SUNY campuses in Albany, Buffalo, and Binghamton. This summer they have appeared at the Albany Empire State Plaza, the Central Park Band-shell, Flushing Meadow Park, and the New York Coliseum.
One of the largest exhibits in the festival, entitled "Who is Prabhupada?" features many beautiful photos and paintings of ISKCON's founder, illustrating his life and accomplishments. Srila Prabhupada first arrived in New York City in the fall of 1965, bringing with him his translations of Srimad-Bhagavatam—the topmost Vedic scripture—and an ardent desire to transplant India's ancient Krsna conscious culture in the West. "Festival of India" continues to fulfill Srila Prabhupada's desire in a unique and dynamic way.
Bala Books Announces Multilingual Series
Brooklyn, New York—The pastimes of Krsna are now available in six languages for young readers. Bala Books, publishers of Krsna conscious books for children, has just announced the publication of Gopal the Invincible. Yogesvara dasa and Jyotir-mayi-devi dasi wrote the text for this handsome, hardbound edition, which contains full-color illustrations by Sunita-devi dasi. The book is available in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Dutch.
The book is the first in a series of multilingual printings under the series title "Classics from India for Children." The inspiration for a library of children's books came from Srila Prabhupada, who requested Yogesvara to make the timeless stories of the Vedas available to young people worldwide.
Five thousand copies of Gopal the Invincible were printed in each of six languages. The book tells of child Krsna and His victory over the many nefarious demons who tried to disturb the peaceful life of Vrndavana, Krsna's cowherd village.
Transcendental Commentary on the Issues of the Day
Playing The Olympic Game
by Dvarakadhisa-devi dasi
Television cameras zoom in as the young athlete thrusts his arms upwards in triumph. Perspiration mixes with tears, and thousands roar with appreciation. The atmosphere is surcharged, and time itself seems to pause in honor of the jubilant occasion. In an exhilarating celebration of outstanding athletic performance, even differences of nationality and political conviction dissolve.
Yet although the applause is tremendous, within minutes it subsides, and the cameras move to the next event. Heads turn aside, smiles fade, and muscles begin to ache. The great moment in history passes on, as all others before, and almost immediately this particular name and face begin to recede into a shuffle of statistics. Such is the fleeting glory of the Olympic gold-medalist, and the honor and virtue of his heroic performance is quickly transformed into dollars and cents by the advertising industry. As the last reporter hastily scribbles down the victor's gasping exclamations, the crowd moves on in search of another sweaty idol to shower with their fickle adoration.
Meanwhile, in the locker room the losers blame the sun or the wind and try to sport a noble attitude toward their inglorious defeat, hiding bitter pain in their hearts. Years of intense training had preceded their arrival at the World Olympic Games, and in a matter of hours it's all over. Fair or unfair, their names will not appear on the roll of victors. Their not-quite-perfect-enough bodies shake with inexpressible anguish.
The moment of triumph may be brief and awarded to only a very few, but, despite its agonies, it attracts the hearts of us all. We feel drawn to the excitement of witnessing a good match, and we also enjoy rising to meet our own challenges. The tangible gain of winning is often negligible, and the pain of defeat is great. Still, we compete. Why?
Our competitive spirit arises from our age-old desire to assert ourselves as supreme. Anyone who accepts this material world as his home and who accepts his material body as his self will feel a pressing need to justify his brief existence by forcefully exercising his material prowess. Whether he seeks this recognition on the sports field, in an executive office, or on the dance floor is immaterial. The motivation is the same. We all sense that, as individuals, we have some special, inherent worth. Now, if we are unaware of our spiritual nature, we will struggle to prove that worth according to some scale of relative material perfection. Thus we feel a tremendous psychological attraction for the competition of sports and other material skills, and the stimulation of such competition offers a distraction from the more serious issues of our material existence—issues such as old age, disease, and death.
For the self-realized soul, however, material competition has no appeal. He feels no need to prove himself materially, nor is he impressed by those who do. He understands his real identity as spiritual, beyond the abilities and limitations of the temporary material body. The soul, he knows, exists eternally, transmigrating from one body to another, birth after birth. A person with knowledge of his own eternality is instinctively aloof from the temporary attraction of sensual stimulation, realizing that such fleeting pleasures inevitably lead to frustration. A self-realized person simply won't allow himself to be cheated by the desire for materialistic achievements, which are uncertain and temporary. Such a person is hardly satisfied simply by winning a tennis match or a bowling trophy.
As the Katha Upanisad declares, nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam. We are all spiritual, part and parcel of the Supreme Lord Krsna, from whom we derive all our own qualities. Because He is eternal, we are eternal. Because He is cognizant, we are cognizant. And when we harmonize our activities with His desire, we realize true satisfaction of the heart. One who engages in devotional service to Him is acting on the platform of complete spiritual understanding, even while in this body.
Thus we can see that spiritual life is not devoid of activity. One may still eat, work, and even compete, but he does all these things in relation to the Lord and His instructions, for His pleasure only. The material world simply being an impure reflection of the real, spiritual world, whatever we find here exists there in perfection. On the transcendental platform, therefore, competition has its place. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains, "There is sometimes competition between servitors of the Lord, but such competition is without malice. In the Vaikuntha [spiritual] world if a devotee excels in the service of the Lord, others do not become envious of his excellent service but aspire to come to the platform of that service" (Bhag. 4.20.27, purport). Thus the competition that is exhibited by the pure devotees of the Supreme Lord is competition in its pure form. When devotees compete in the service of the Lord (simply to increase the pleasure of the Lord), then everyone benefits. Krsna becomes satisfied, and everyone shares in His satisfaction. There is no bitterness or envy.
So, although material competition brings but flickering happiness to the winner and agony to the loser, spiritual competition acts as a catalyst to bring us closer and closer to Krsna, thus creating joy in the hearts of all participants. We have a natural love for competition, and this need not be suppressed nor disguised. "The perfect society does not eliminate competition," Srila Prabhupada has said, "but it eliminates envy."
Evolution: Science Or Skullduggery?
by Kundali dasa
Do you believe man descended from the apes?
Perhaps you've never given the matter much thought one way or another. Or maybe you're convinced of the theory after seeing the way some people behave.
In any case, if you're at all intrigued by the notion of evolution, you will be interested to know about "Ancestors: Four Million Years of Humanity," an exhibit currently on display at the American Museum of Natural History. The exhibit is generating a new wave of interest in the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution. More than forty legendary fossils that supposedly chronicle man's evolution have been flown in from Europe and Africa for "Ancestors," which tells "the wondrous tale of how humans become human," Newsweek said in April. Ian Tattersall, co-curator of the exhibit, called the fossils our "family portraits, . . . the real crown jewels of the human race."
The news media, obviously very pleased to deliver this news, have run stories strewn with photos and facts about the Taung child, "Lucy," Homo habilis, Sivapithecus, and the well-known Neanderthals. They also cite dates that stretch way back in time—thirty-five thousand years, one million years, three million years, and even seventeen million years. Impressive. In fact, a person reading about "Ancestors" or touring the exhibit itself might easily feel a sense of awe and wonder, of reverence even, both for the fossils and the evolutionists.
According to William Fix, author of The Bone Peddlers: Selling Evolution, awe and reverence is exactly what the evolution scientists intend us to feel. Fix claims that while making a careful analysis of the more than one hundred and twenty years of archeological discoveries, he unearthed a "catalogue of fiascos," findings recorded by researchers more interested in publicity, funding, and reputation than in truth. To protect their pet theories and their reputations, says Fix, researchers have deliberately ignored or dismissed contrary evidence. To back his claim he cites examples—one of them the discovery of a "modern-type" skull some seven hundred thousand years old. Fix ultimately concludes, "The origin of man is more mysterious than either the evolutionists or creationists contend."
I agree completely. Many people, however, are so mesmerized by the idea of evolution that they flock to see "Ancestors." These innocent people have been hyped into believing that with nothing but an assortment of relics, a pile of old bones, and some very lively imagination the evolutionists have actually discerned what life was like between thirty-five thousand and seventeen million years ago!
Fortunately, not everyone is bewildered by the clever word jugglery of the evolutionists. A growing number of scientists are voicing dissatisfaction with neo-Darwinism. But this discord is not widely publicized.
The main bone the dissenters have to pick with the evolutionists is that, from a mathematical point of view, evolution is impossible. What the evolutionists, with amazing optimism, claim was achieved by chance is just not possible—not in terms of the time scale they have established for the various stages of the earth's development. This and other flaws were pointed out in 1967 at a conference called "Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Theory of Evolution," chaired by Nobel laureate Peter Medawar. In opening the meeting he said, "The immediate cause of this meeting is a pretty widespread sense of dissatisfaction about what has come to be thought of as the accepted evolutionary theory in the English-speaking world, the so-called neo-Darwinian theory."
An even more severe criticism has been leveled from another quarter. Karl Popper, a philosopher of some distinction, challenges that evolution is not science at all. He argues that the theory can be neither proved nor disproved, because no one can go back in time to see what factually happened. All that can honestly be said from a purely scientific viewpoint is that fossils suggest such an explanation might exist. That's all. In other words, the theory of biological evolution, far from being a scientifically proven fact, is sheer conjecture.
Why then so much fuss over fossils? Why is evolution being taught in schools as though it were fact? And, considering all this, where does Mr. Tattersall get the authority to call his pile of old bones "the real crown jewels of the human race"?
I can easily think of a candidate far more worthy of that distinction—the Vedic literature of India. Common sense tells me I can learn much more about the past from man's literary legacy than from his bones.
The Vedas are the literary legacy of mankind. They are the oldest surviving body of writings in existence, containing knowledge of events going back millions of years. Formerly they were passed down by word of mouth, but about five thousand years ago it was seen that the human memory was getting too short to retain such an enormous wealth of knowledge, so they were put into writing.
But many scientists and scholars discount the Vedic literature as too fantastic to believe. Ironically, however, they boldly make even more fantastic claims based on their collections of fossils. Are their "bone readings" necessarily more credible than the wisdom of the ages stored in the Vedas?
Some say that the Vedas are mythological writings from a more recent time, because five thousand years ago man was too primitive to write such literature. But how do they know this? Today many primitive peoples are coexisting with civilized ones. On what grounds should we assume that the situation was any different previously? Especially if we have such reported anomalies as seven-hundred-thousand-year-old, "modern-type" skulls staring at us.
The main reason for the evolutionists' assumption that the Vedic literature could not have been written five thousand years ago is that Europe at that time was not civilized. But is it science to assume that because Europe was uncivilized so was the rest of the world? That is faulty logic. It's like the man who assumes that because he is deaf and dumb, all men must be deaf and dumb.
A possible motive for the rejection of the Vedas' authority is the simple fact that to accept them would be to accept India as the seat of civilization and culture eons before Europe—a most untenable notion if you happen to be a cultural chauvinist. And a careful analysis of Western history will reveal a chauvinistic attitude toward other cultures and an implicit assumption that the West is the standard of civilized life for the rest of the world. But the Vedic literature challenges that assumption. It describes a civilization centered on the development of human virtues, simplicity, spiritual enlightenment, and saintliness rather than on the acquisition of wealth, fame, power, and technological prowess.
The evolutionists, our so-called arbiters of scientific truth, doubt there is evidence of a Vedic civilization so long ago. But actually the Vedic literatures themselves are the evidence. And why shouldn't they be? What better evidence could there be? Smokestacks? Skyscrapers? Railway boxcars? Bones? The Vedic culture stresses spiritual values, not technology. The very fact that the literature exists is substantial evidence.
How can evolutionists prefer bones over books? Why this peculiar fetish for fossils? Why are the evolutionists so keen to convince us that we descended from the apes?
We in the Krsna consciousness movement are certainly dubious about the integrity of such men. As followers of the Vedic literature, we are seeing practically that these writings are not the result of anyone's fanciful reveries. Their recommendations for a high standard of human life geared towards self-realization yield wonderful results. Elwin Powell, professor of sociology at the State University of New York, has noted this fact: "If truth is what works, as Pierce and the pragmatists insist, there must be a kind of truth in the Bhagavad-gita As It Is [the essential Vedic text], since those who follow its teachings display a joyous serenity usually missing in the bleak and strident lives of contemporary people."
This joyous serenity, along with the enlightening information the Vedic literature bestows—on cosmology, politics, science, psychology, and philosophy—firmly convinces me that should these writings ever be pitted against Mr. Tattersall's "Ancestors" for the title "real crown jewels of the human race," the Vedic literature would win hands down.
Because our leaders don't know the root cause of war,
A lecture given in December 1983
by Srila Ramesvara Swami
Practically all of America has been forced to think about the likelihood of nuclear war. Of course, our materialistic leaders have tried to convince us that there is really nothing to worry about, because they have this wonderful materialistic formula that prevents nuclear war by making it too horrible. If you happen to watch any of these leaders making their presentation, it is somewhat convincing. However, it is fully convincing only to one who has a very limited vision of material existence and the laws of material nature.
Our materialistic leaders don't search for the root cause of quarrel and war. Instead, they try to cure this ever-spreading disease by treating some of the external symptoms, by making some superficial adjustments. But from India's Vedic literature, like the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, we learn the root cause of quarrel and war. Let us examine the Vedic version.
Each of us has a permanent and real self—the atma, or soul—that is within the temporary material body and that uses the body to fulfill its desires. Unfortunately, in this materialistic society our desires focus not on satisfying the real, inner, spiritual self but on exploiting the material world's resources and so gratifying our material body—the outer, illusory self. In other words, right now our desires are based on illusion because they're based on an illusory concept of self, the bodily concept. Now, from this false, bodily concept springs false proprietorship. Simply because my body has some little, temporary sway over some part of the material world, I desire to be the owner of this part of the material world. But the material world existed long before I had this body. And after my material body is finished, the world will continue to exist. Yet in the interim, I desire to be the owner. This desire for false proprietorship—again, based on the false, bodily concept of who we are—causes quarrel and war.
The people in Russia and the people in India and the people in the Middle East and the people in America—more or less, all have this false, bodily concept of self. So all of them are desiring to use the world's resources for their bodily gratification—desiring to lord it over the world and make it their own. In spite of the different political and economic systems, people all over the world are the same. They all have the false, bodily concept of self, and so they all are desiring false proprietorship over the body's "domain."
As we would expect, people who have the bodily concept will do virtually anything to gratify their body—even to the point of inflicting pain and suffering on other creatures. If your body is the most important thing in the world to you, then logically, to gratify your body you'll even do something that may harm someone else. And to extend your bodily gratification, you'll work to gratify the bodies of your "fellow citizens," people who sport the same national bodily designation—even though you may bring harm to "foreigners," those of other bodily designations.
Now, from the sages of India and from the Vedic literature we learn that the creator and director of the material world has established laws that govern the world. And these laws are inviolable. But just for their bodily gratification, people have engaged in tremendously harmful transgressions of these natural laws. And so these transgressions must bring reactions. The laws of physics, we know, are based on this principle of action and reaction. And the same principle governs the interaction of living beings. We call this principle the law of karma.
To sum up what we've touched on thus far, the human beings in today's world have the bodily concept of self, which forces them to try lording it over the earth's resources and use these for their own bodily gratification—which forces them to engage daily in a whole series of very violent and condemned activities that bring severe karmic reactions down on everyone.
More about those karmic reactions in a moment. But first, specifically what are these condemned activities? For example, most Americans are flesh eaters, most Russians are flesh eaters, most Muslims are flesh eaters, and unfortunately many Hindus are becoming flesh eaters. People all over the world are flesh eaters. They don't even give it any thought at all. However, if you do think about it, you will realize that in order for people to be flesh eaters, each year almost ten billion animals have to be murdered. This is one example of how in the pursuit of our sense gratification, we've become callous and indifferent to the pain that we cause to other living beings.
And even if we do not notice our transgression of Nature's and God's laws as we go to the local steakhouse or cook flesh in our homes, Nature notices and God, or Krsna, notices. Nature is noticing that though she has worked so hard to produce these material bodies so that certain souls can live in certain species of life, nonetheless the humans have organized gigantic concentration camps in which thirty million animals and birds are systematically exterminated each day—our "final solution" for these inferior races of creatures. And this is happening on a global scale. Nature is producing these material bodies, and humans are disrupting Nature's work by yearly destroying so many of Nature's creatures.
Still more, human beings have decided, for economic reasons, business reasons, personal reasons, that it has become largely incompatible with their "lifestyle" to bear children. In other words, people want to have unrestricted sex without having to accept the natural consequences. Engaging in sex almost inevitably results in children, no matter how hard modern science tries to find ways to prevent children from being conceived. So scientists have been called upon to alleviate this messy problem. And these learned men have invented the methodology by which the child can be killed while he's living inside the womb of the mother. And this technological breakthrough has been exported to practically every country in the world. Each year, all over this planet, nearly sixty million of these child murders are taking place. And these child murders have been endorsed by nations all over the world, even India.
We could go on to discuss what humans do to plants and trees, and what they do to the soil, the rivers, the oceans, the air. But for now, just consider the animals and the babies. Over a span of ten years, our modern civilization kills more than one trillion animals and six to eight hundred million babies. Today if someone is conceived in America, the chances of his dying in the womb are more than thirty percent. It's getting risky to be in your mother's womb. In Japan the chances that you'll be killed in the womb of your loving mother are about fifty percent. In Russia you're in an especially unfortunate situation, since the chances that you'll be killed in the womb of your mother are more than sixty-five percent. The average Russian mother will have at least eight abortions.
So here we have the root cause of quarrel and war. Due to our false bodily concept and our desire for false proprietorship, the human society resorts to violence, and by the higher laws of Nature, known as the laws of karma, society has to undergo similar violence. There cannot be peace. There has to be scarcity, and epidemics, and war, and tornadoes, and earthquakes. And although modern man would like to regard these things as accidents, he should know better. Human life is meant for understanding that these things have a cause—that the entire universe is based on the principle of cause and effect, or action and reaction. Any educational system, however grand and elaborate it may be, is a failure if it doesn't impart this understanding.
So when we hear our materialistic leaders saying, "There couldn't possibly be a nuclear war because we've made it just too horrible," we know better. "We've made so many weapons that nuclear war would be just too horrible," our leaders say, "so therefore there won't be a nuclear war." This type of reasoning, which sounds so sophisticated when you hear the Kissingers and the rest mouthing it on television, is actually very naive. As we've noted, it comes from a limited vision of life and the universe and the laws that govern the universe. "We don't have to stop our sins; we have this theory that we can stop the reactions of these sins from coming." Anyone with any real knowledge of God's laws knows that if a person is engaging in violently sinful activities, these will create reactions that no material formula can stop.
If you break the law of the State, you will be punished. Now, wouldn't it be foolish to think that the law of God is weaker than the law of the State? "We humans can punish the lawbreaker, but God cannot." That would be very foolish. Of course, in a society where people are systematically taught there is no God, they soon forget about the law of God. After all, in our "secular society" you cannot teach anything about the law of God in any school. It is against the law to teach about the real law.
And to keep it that way, our "modern thinkers" are very busy concocting theories to convince people that there's no God and that man is just the material body—not the inner soul, not the servant of the Supreme Soul. "Everything is happening without any need of a God. . . . Life is caused by matter, not God. . . . The various species have appeared by chance evolution, without a God. . . . The creation of the universes, the stars, the planets is caused without a God." As a result, if you go through the school system in any country of the world, you come out thinking that God is irrelevant and that you are this body. The main thing is to get you thinking that you are this body—the bodily concept. When you're finished watching TV, you think you're this body. When you're finished reading Time magazine, you think you're this body. When you are finished listening to popular tunes and their lyrics, you think you're this body. When you're finished watching a movie, you think you're this body.
At present the whole society is organized around this: how to get you into the bodily concept, how to get you very attached to it. And when you're attached to it, what do you do? Engage in sinful activities. You're going to control the world for your bodily gratification. You're going to murder your baby. You're going to eat flesh. "It's very important to kill those babies, and it's very important to kill those animals. Because that's how we gratify our bodies." This is the way a person in the bodily concept thinks.
So it's not at all reassuring to us in the Krsna consciousness movement when we see the leaders of the world going on television and telling everybody, "You don't have to worry about nuclear war, because we've made it so horrible that there won't be a war." This is not reassuring to us at all. If only they would go on television and say, "We're going to stop killing babies, and we're going to stop killing animals. This is our peace formula. We will not have a nuclear war because we're going to stop killing all these babies and animals." When we finally acknowledge the sacredness of all life, the result will be that God will grant us peace. But if we remain warlike and violent toward all forms of life, how can the karmic reaction be anything but war and violence upon ourselves? How is Nature going to let us get away with murdering six hundred million babies and a hundred billion animals every ten years? How do we suppose we're going to get away with that? How dare we think that we can do this with impunity—and have our leaders come on the TV and soothe us by saying, "We've made war too impossibly horrible—that's the peace formula."
Only a fool will accept this type of propaganda. So there is a type of folly and hypocrisy even, for instance, in the nuclear freeze movement. These people seem very well intentioned. They want peace and they're praying for peace and marching for peace. But they themselves may be murderers of babies and animals. So first they have to make their own hearts peaceful. First they have to get rid of all the violence from their own hearts. Otherwise, what is the use of their marching for peace? God is not going to respond to their prayer for peace, because right afterward these same people are going to McDonald's or Burger King or Planned Parenthood or the abortion clinic.
So it's not just our institutions and leaders that bring about all this murder—it's our very selves, "we the people," who are the willing customers of these institutions and the followers of these leaders. There is a certain myth that these horrible governments are going to create this nuclear war, and that we poor innocent citizens who have nothing to do with it are going to suffer. We call this "the myth of the innocent citizen," because the innocent citizen is not as innocent as people think.
To sum up, there is an actual peace formula, and it begins with an understanding of the difference between the actual self and the temporary body. We have to become liberated from this bodily concept or there's no question of peace. We actually have to learn, "I am not this body. I am not these bodily designations—'American,' 'African,' 'Indian,' 'Russian'; 'black,' 'white,' 'yellow,' 'red'; 'man,' 'woman,' 'child'; 'young,' 'old.' I am something more than this. Therefore I should not act as if I were just this body. I should learn what it means to be a spirit soul. And what it means to act as a spirit soul." Only then can we have real compassion and put an end to the gross violence that exists in this present so-called civilized world.
So this knowledge about the difference between the soul and the body and how to act as a liberated soul rather than as an illusioned soul—this is the fundamental education that is required if there's actually going to be peace on earth. And the Krsna consciousness movement is dedicated to making this spiritual education available to all people—whatever their culture or religion or race or creed or nationality or gender—precisely because we do not see the living being in terms of these bodily designations.
If people adopt these spiritual principles, they can free themselves from the violent reactions of karma that are practically just around the corner. Of course, we do not believe in the doomsday scenario, wherein the human race is exterminated.
The human race serves a purpose in God's plan, and God's plan cannot be demolished by humans. That's not possible. The human race will always exist. But without spiritual knowledge, the human race will have not only a World War III but a World War IV and a World War V, and on and on. These karmic reactions will go on and on and on—until human beings are given a spiritual education rather than this dull material education that most of us have been subjected to for most of our lives.
So to start with, we recommend that you read the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. Anyone who reads this literature will be enriched with spiritual knowledge and will understand how to act in harmony with the laws of God rather than transgress them. And not only that. This literature reveals how you can free yourself from whatever karma you have created before—whether in this life or in past lives. You can learn this ancient spiritual science of Krsna consciousness through accepting prasadam, vegetarian foods offered to Lord Krsna; and through reading the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, knowledge spoken by and about Krsna; and through chanting the holy names of Krsna: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. And we invite you to come as often as you like to these Hare Krsna centers. They are open to everyone, so that everyone can revive his spiritual consciousness and become free from the bodily concept—and from the karma leading to nuclear war.
We welcome your letters.
While I was reading BACK TO GODHEAD , I came across the Krsna's cuisine article on a karma-free diet. There it says that although both plants and animals have souls, there is no sinful reaction for eating plants provided we offer them to Lord Krsna first with love and devotion. But if both plants and animals have souls, then why is it that we cannot offer meat to Krsna? Why is one sinful and the other not?
Our reply: As the Supreme Lord, Krsna can eat anything without any question of sin on His part. But in the Bhagavad-gita (9.26), Krsna says that He accepts offerings of food from the vegetable kingdom when those offerings are made with devotion for Him. "If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it."
In his commentary on this verse, Srila Prabhupada writes, "One who loves Krsna will give Him whatever He wants, and he avoids offering that which is undesirable and unasked for. Thus meat, fish, and eggs should not be offered to Krsna. If He desired such things as offerings, He would have said so. Instead He clearly requests that a leaf, fruit, flower, and water be given to Him, and He says of this offering, 'I will accept it.' Therefore, we should understand that He will not accept meat, fish, and eggs. Vegetables, grains, fruits, milk, and water are the proper foods for human beings and are prescribed by Lord Krsna Himself. Whatever else we eat cannot be offered to Him, since He will not accept it. Thus we cannot be acting on the platform of loving devotion if we offer such foods to Him."
We offer to Krsna whatever He requests and in that way we not only remain free from karma, but become pure devotees of the Lord. Sinlessness means to abide by the requests and orders of Krsna, and sin means to disobey Him.
* * *
Regarding the article "For the Young at Heart" (19/5), I was very delighted to know some good uses of weeds.
The second part of the article was very educational for me and for anyone who wants to know how to explain the truths of Krsna consciousness to children. The article sparkled. I want to congratulate Suresvara and ask him to write more articles related to children that will make it easy for parents to explain Krsna consciousness to their children who do not have the opportunity to join a gurukula [a school for acquiring a Krsna conscious education].
Reviving The Family Meal
Scrambled cheese, anyone?
by Visakha-devi dasi
I've heard that years ago, when folks lived out in the country. Mom and Dad and the kids used to sit down to a hearty breakfast together and enjoy each other's company before Dad went off to harvest the fields and the kids walked over to the one-room schoolhouse. Come lunchtime, the children brought out the sandwiches Mom had packed, while Dad ate a sandwich out in the potato patch. By dinnertime the family was reunited for more of Mom's cooking before the kids went off to bed and Dad relaxed into his easy chair to do some reading.
The family meal, once as integral a part of the day as sunrise, has hardly survived in our jet-age, urban-suburban lives. Since Dad now leaves home early to commute to the office, a communal breakfast is out of the question. As for dinner . . . well, the kids aren't hungry anyway. They've been snacking on pizzas, sodas, and vending-machine fare. It's just as well: Mom's at night school training for a job. And those few evenings when everyone's together, poor Mom's bewildered. What Dad likes to eat, the kids won't touch. And vice versa. Solution? The family heads for the nearest Howard Johnson's restaurant so everyone can choose his own.
But there is a way to revive the family mealtime tradition (and you don't have to move to the country to do it). If you make Krsna the center of your family, your meals will naturally become a time of happy reunion. Srila Prabhupada explains that by the process of Krsna consciousness we can make our home very happy and united. He says that we need only chant God's names—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—eat the remnants of foods offered to Him. have some discussion on books like the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, and engage ourselves in worshiping Him. Srila Prabhupada says that these four will make us happy and that we should train our family members in this way.
To create genuine unity in the family—or for that matter, in the community, the nation or even internationally—what's needed is a common goal. And according to the Vedic scriptures that common goal—in fact, the goal of human life—is understanding God and learning how to love Him.
But reaching that goal is not so easy. We cannot understand God (Krsna) with our material senses because His name, form, qualities, and pastimes are transcendental. The situation is not hopeless, though, because when Krsna is pleased with us for our devotional service to Him, He reveals Himself to us. To give a crude analogy, if we want to see the President of the United States, it will be practically impossible. But if the President learns of our outstanding patriotism and wants to see us, we'll have no difficulty. Similarly, it is useless for us to demand to see God. But we can act in such a way that God will want to see us. So the process for understanding God and learning how to love Him is devotional service, which begins with the tongue.
It may seem odd that we can begin to achieve life's highest goal by properly using our tongue. Srila Prabhupada explains that of all the senses, the tongue is the most important. If the tongue is uncontrolled and hankers for unwholesome food, it implicates us further in material life. But when the tongue is controlled by tasting only krsna-prasadam (food that's been offered to Krsna), then all the other senses will also be controlled. Of course, tasting is only one of the functions of the tongue. Its other function is vibrating. And that's perfected when we chant Hare Krsna.
But how does this lead to family unity? Well, when our senses are controlled, we can think clearly. And with a clear mind we can understand that the goal of life is love for God and the process for attaining that goal is Krsna consciousness. When the others in our family are similarly convinced, life at home becomes congenial.
So, we can begin to approach the goal of human life simply by eating krsna-prasadam, and if we can share prasadam with our family, so much the better. When you and your family sit down together to relish krsna-prasadam, you're not following some whim or sentiment; you're following an eternal, transcendental tradition that's scientific, practical, and a proven success.
But what about the menu problem? Dad and the kids just don't seem to like the same things.
Well, try cooking something delicious that no one's ever tasted before—a dish like the one accompanying this article, for instance. Then, after you've offered it to the Lord, you can call out to everyone in the house, "Scrambled cheese prasadam, anyone?"
By bringing your family together around krsna-prasadam, you're doing them the highest service, because Krsna's prasadam makes those who cat it become Krsna's devotees. And Krsna's devotees are ideal family members.
So if you want to bring your family together, bring them together around Krsna and prasadam. Nothing tastes better—and there's nothing higher.
(Recipes by Yamuna-devi dasi)
Creamy Scrambled Cheese with Braised Tomato Bits
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Ingredients for the cheese:
1 gallon whole fresh milk
3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil
To make the cheese:
1. Bring the milk to a boil, stirring constantly, in a 4- to 6-quart heavy saucepan. When the milk reaches a rolling boil, remove from the flame and immediately add the lemon juice. Within 15 to 45 seconds, the cheese should form into large lumps, leaving a yellowish, clear whey. If the cheese forms slowly, place the pan over the flame for a few seconds until the milk again comes to a boil and separates. Immediately remove from the flame. Pour in 3 cups of hot water and let the cheese sit for 10 minutes.
2. Line a colander with cheesecloth. Ladle the hot, white cheese into the colander. Gather the corners of the cheesecloth and rinse the cheese with warm water for 5 to 10 seconds.
3. Twist the cheesecloth around the hot cheese, then place it in a colander and lay a heavy weight or large bowl of water on the cheese to press out the whey. Drain the cheese for 7 to 10 minutes. Unwrap the cheese and break it into rough, 1 ¼-inch chunks.
To assemble the preparation:
1. Heat the ghee or vegetable oil in a 4- to 5-quart saucepan over a medium-high flame until a drop of water flicked in sputters instantly. Drop in the cumin seeds and fry to a light almond-brown color.
2. Stir in the tomato pieces and saute them until the outer skins soften and glisten with ghee but the tomatoes are still intact.
3. Gently stir in the cheese, sprinkle in the turmeric and salt, and cook for 1 minute.
4. Remove from the flame, pour in the cream, and sprinkle with black pepper. Stir gently and then garnish with the chopped coriander or parsley leaves. Offer to Lord Krsna while piping hot.
Shallow-Fried, Batter-Coated Cabbage
Preparation time: 2 hours
1 young head of green cabbage, about 2 to 2 ½ pounds, trimmed Ingredients for the stuffing:
3 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
Ingredients for the batter and frying:
1 cup water or whey 1 tablespoon peeled, fresh ginger root, minced fine
1. Place the whole cabbage in a basket steamer resting in a large pot filled with 2 or 3 inches boiling water. Cover and steam over a medium-high flame for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the cabbage, cool it in cold water, and drain it in a colander. Carefully remove 10 to 13 large outer leaves, place each one on a cutting board, and cut away the thick mid-ribs from the base of the leaf about 2/3 of the way up the leaf; set aside. Chop fine 2 cups of the remaining parboiled cabbage. Preserve the remainder for further use.
2. To prepare the stuffing, heat the ghee or vegetable oil in a 4- to 5-quart saucepan over a medium-high flame until a haze forms over the surface. Drop in the ginger root, chilies, cumin and mustard seeds, and fry until the mustard seeds sputter and crackle. Stir in the sweet nim leaves and fry for about 5 seconds, then add the chopped bell peppers. Stir-fry the bell peppers until they glisten with ghee and faintly blister; add the cabbage, turmeric, and salt, and fry until the cabbage is tender-crisp, wilted, and browned on the edges. Reduce the flame to medium low, stir in the farina cereal and yogurt or water, and stir until the mixture is fairly dry. Remove the pan from the heat and blend in the minced herbs and lemon juice; set aside to cool.
3. To prepare the batter, combine the water or whey, ginger root, hot chilies, and fresh herbs in an electric blender jar, cover and blend on high speed for about 1 minute. Remove the feeder cap and slowly add 1 cup of the chickpea flour to make a smooth, pour-able batter. Transfer the batter to a 1- to 1 ½-quart mixing bowl; add the spices, baking soda, salt, and remaining flour; and whisk the ingredients into a smooth, cakelike batter. Set the batter aside for 10 to 15 minutes while assembling the cabbage rolls.
4. Open each cabbage leaf, close the cutaway mid-rib slit, place about 2 rounded tablespoons of the stuffing in the center of each leaf, and fold over to make neat stuffed rolls. If necessary, splice on additional pieces of soft cabbage leaves to make the rolls secure; place them seam side down on a plate.
5. To fry the stuffed rolls, heat the ghee or vegetable oil in a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over a medium-high flame until the surface begins to ripple with the heat. Remove the pan from the flame. In one smooth movement, pick up a roll, fully dip it into the batter, and carefully lower it into the hot oil. Fry 5 or 6 pieces at a time for about 5 minutes on each side or until the crust is crisp and reddish golden-brown in color. Transfer the rolls with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper. The rolls may be kept warm on a baking dish lined with paper toweling in a 250°F preheated oven for up to 1 hour before they are offered to Krsna.
Commitment to a Cause—
Members of the Krsna consciousness movement are sometimes criticized as being too committed, even fanatical. Aside from narrow-minded persons who think that anyone outside their own sect is "of the devil," even persons with a curiosity in Krsna consciousness, who admire the movement's vegetarianism or who appreciate the Vedic literature's profound philosophy on subjects like reincarnation and karma—even they may wonder whether a devotee's commitment to regulative principles and his concentration on Krsna might be too extreme. But a thorough examination of the life of a sincere Krsna conscious devotee will reveal a commitment to spiritual wholeness that, far from being destructive, is in fact praiseworthy.
Among the most prominent critics of the phenomenon of total commitment to a cause are writers Robert Lifton and Eric Hoffer. Lifton, for example, in his book Thought Reform, criticizes "totalism" as stifling to human potential. He prefers nontotalism, which he sees as leaving the individual more "open to the world." In The True Believer Hoffer claims that people who are inwardly deficient tend to commit themselves to causes. "Craving, not having," writes Hoffer, "is the mother of a reckless giving of oneself."
Yet despite such negative analyses of total commitment to a cause, we find that in every field of human endeavor those who excel are the intensely committed. Consider sports. "First you've got to love running," says Bill Rogers, champion marathon runner, then you've got to love the competition. It is an obsession." And Pete Rose of the Montreal Expos says, "I want to play all the time. I think the mark of a good player is his consistency. And the only way a guy can be consistent is to play all the time."
The field of business is no exception. Armand Hammer, chairman of the Occidental Petroleum Company, states, "When people tell me I'm lucky, I like to tell them, 'I am lucky because I work seven days a week, fourteen hours a day.' You have to have that level of commitment to do what you do." Similarly, in the cause of patriotism, commitment is praiseworthy, and schoolchildren memorize Nathan Hale's last words, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."
Commitment to Krsna consciousness is commitment to the highest cause—service to the Supreme, the ultimate truth. Throughout the ages, philosophers and poets have praised that human life spent in seeking the truth. As Henrik Ibsen wrote, "Bidding adieu to love's soft promptings, to solve the mystery of truth! That is the test of a real enquirer!"
In Krsna consciousness, "ultimate truth" is far more than a theoretical concept. Vedic knowledge analyzes that most living beings are in ignorance (maya), because they take the body to be the self and temporary existence to be all-in-all. The first goal of human knowledge, however, should be self-realization, awareness of life beyond the designations of the material body. The Vedic scripture Bhagavad-gita teaches that the self is the eternal spirit soul. Failure to understand this forces the living being to take another birth and to again suffer the miseries of disease, old age, and death. But self-realization—knowledge of the individual soul and his relationship with the Supreme Soul—elevates the self from ignorance and suffering to the eternal happiness of love of God.
Criticism that Krsna consciousness requires too much commitment, therefore, belies ignorance of what a devotee is actually committed to. The charge is made without understanding what is meant by Krsna. Krsna is a name for God, the Supreme Being. Krsna, therefore, is everything, and nothing is apart from Krsna. As the Vedic literature describes, everything in the universe is but an emanation from the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Krsna consciousness, therefore, is not a partisan, narrow-minded cause. It is "open to the world" and much more. It is, for example, beyond humanism, in that it respects not only human life, but all forms of life. This universal vision comes not through sentimental fervor but through studying and applying the complete science of God, which logically explains how each living entity is a part of the Supreme. Just as the hand is part of the body, committed to fulfilling the desires of the body, so the soul is constitutionally part and parcel of the Supreme, Krsna, intended for serving in complete, loving commitment to Him.
Full commitment to Krsna consciousness, however, doesn't require irrationality or extreme difficulty or austerity. The compilers of the Vedic scriptures were aware that most people, especially in the present age, lack sufficient interest, stamina, and even the required longevity to undertake strenuous spiritual activities. They have therefore given us simple procedures that we can practice alongside our day-to-day activities. We needn't abandon our family, society, and occupation to meditate, as some sages and yogis did formerly and still do today. Rather, Krsna conscious devotees can live within our urbanized society, keep their occupation, and still, by chanting the Hare Krsna mantra, perform the highest meditation for reaching the Absolute Truth.
By reading Krsna conscious literature and chanting God's holy names, anyone can acquire the knowledge necessary for breaking free from material illusion and can enter into the reality of eternally serving the Supreme Personality of Godhead. For those who want to pursue Krsna consciousness more seriously, the scriptures recommend avoiding impure activities like illicit sex, intoxication, gambling, and meat-eating. But even these austerities are not difficult for one relishing the higher taste of spiritual pleasure.
For example, although a strict Krsna conscious devotee gives up eating meat, this austerity is not really hard to follow, since vegetarian foods are plentiful, palatable, nutritious, and easy to prepare. And in general the Krsna conscious manner of life can be pursued in a happy, healthy way, even while refraining from impure acts. A practitioner of Krsna consciousness is not obliged to shave his head, wear robes, or live within a temple. The main practices for spiritual advancement—chanting the Hare Krsna mantra and refraining from impure acts—can be adopted within almost any social context, without drastic changes. Of course, guidance from advanced devotees is natural and crucial for shaping one's own commitment.
The charge that Krsna consciousness is fanatical and requires too much commitment, therefore, is unfair and unfounded. If a person doesn't want to make such a commitment, that is his own choice, but those who see that real happiness cannot be found in temporary pursuits should not be dissuaded from the path of truth. Certainly there are causes in this world that are unworthy of complete commitment, and there are also unbalanced persons who commit themselves to such causes. But criticism of the counterfeit does not discredit the genuine. It is never wrong to crave higher virtues, to seek freedom from suffering, or to desire eternity, bliss, and knowledge.—SDG