Even the animals enjoy sense pleasure.
A lecture in Tittenhurst, England, in September 1969
nayam deho deha-bhajam nr-loke
"My dear boys, of all the living entities who have accepted material bodies in this world, one who has been awarded this human form should not work hard day and night simply for sense gratification, which is available even for hogs that eat stool. One should engage in penance and austerity to attain the divine position of devotional service. By such activity, one's heart is purified, and when one attains this position, he attains eternal, blissful life, which is transcendental to material happiness and which continues forever." -Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.1
This is a verse spoken by King Rsabhadeva to His sons. King Rsabhadeva was an incarnation of Krsna who lived long, long ago. He was the emperor of the whole world. So, here He instructs His one hundred sons. All of His sons had assembled together, and the King, before His retirement, was instructing them.
Now, why was the King retiring? That is the Vedic system. Whether one is a king or an ordinary human being, at a certain age he must retire and search out Krsna. It is not that if you are a king and have ample, opportunities for sense enjoyment you sould indulge in sense enjoyment up to the point of death, without retiring from family life. No.
The aim of the Vedic system is to elevate oneself to the perfection of Krsna consciousness. In Bhagavad-gita [15.15], Krsna says, vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah: "The whole Vedic system is designed to enable one to know Me." So, if you follow the Vedic system, the ultimate objective of your life should be to know Krsna. That is corroborated by Lord Krsna Himself, the original compiler of the Vedas.
Unfortunately, in the modern so-called civilization, neither the leaders nor family men retire and search out Krsna. Even a poor man living with his family in great difficulty will not retire if you ask him to. He'll not be agreeable. He's suffering, he's not happy living with his family members, but if I ask, "Why are you taking so much trouble with the family? Why not come and live with us in the Krsna consciousness society?" he'll not agree because he has no Vedic training. Up to the end of his life, he'll stick to his family.
In our country we have seen many old politicians—seventy-five years old, eighty years old—refuse to retire. And in your country, England, Mr. Churchill would not give up politics until he was forced to by death. Our Gandhi was killed by a rival political group; then he was forced to retire. When India attained independence, I wrote Gandhi a letter: "Mahatma Gandhi, you started your struggle with the Britishers, demanding that they should go and that the Indians should have their independence. Now you have attained independence, and the Britishers are gone. So now preach the Bhagavad-gita. You have some influence. You are known throughout the whole world as a very saintly person, and you also present yourself as a great scholar of Bhagavad-gita. Why don't you take up the Bhagavad-gita and preach?"
There was no reply. He was still busy with politics, so much so that his own assistants became disgusted. Just see the intoxication of the materialistic way of life! He was considered a mahatma, a great personality, and he got his svaraj [independence]. Still, he would not give up politics until he was forced to. Similarly, Jawaharlal Nehru refused to retire.
So, nobody will retire until he is killed by somebody or killed by the laws of nature. This is the disease: no one can give up his position, family members, and opulence. daivi hy esa guna-mayi mama maya duratyaya: "The material energy is very powerful, and no one can overcome it." Maya [illusion] is so strong that even an old man advertising himself as very pious cannot give up politics. He thinks, "If I leave the political field, my countrymen will suffer and so many disasters will happen." But actually, things will go on very nicely without him. In your country many great politicians have come and gone, but the people are still living, and things are going on. Similarly, in India, many Gandhis have come and gone, but things are going on.
How things are going on is explained in the Bhagavad-gita [3.27]:
Everything is being done by the laws of nature, under God's supervision, and you cannot change anything. There is a plan—God's plan—and it will be carried out. You don't have to bother yourself, thinking that without you everything will be topsy-turvied. No. You cannot do anything. You are falsely thinking that your leadership is very much needed. No.
I was also thinking in that way. When I was a householder, several times my Guru Maharaja gave me an indication that I should give up my family life and become a sannyasi [renunciant] and spread this Krsna consciousness movement. But I was thinking, "If I go away, my wife and my children—they will suffer." But actually, although I left my family in 1954, fifteen years ago, they are still living and I am still living. They are not dying in my absence, and I am not suffering without being with my family. On the other hand, by Krsna's grace, I now have better family members. I have got many children in a foreign country, and they are taking such nice care of me. I could not expect such care from my own children.
This is God's grace. We should depend on Krsna. If Krsna is pleased with us, wherever we go everyone will be pleased, everyone will be kind. And if Krsna is displeased with us, even in our family life we'll not be comfortable.
So, King Rsabhadeva was retiring. He had one hundred obedient sons, He was the emperor of the whole world, He was an incarnation of God, everything was at His command—still He was retiring. That is the Vedic system. There are many similar instances. King Rsabhadeva's son Bharata Maharaja also retired. So did Pariksit Maharaja and his grandfather, Yudhisthira. They all voluntarily retired.
In the Vedic social system, at a very young age, whether you are the son of a king or the son of an ordinary man, you must go to the asrama of a spiritual master and live there as his servant. That is called brahmacarya. A brahmacari's life is to serve the spiritual master as a menial servant. Whatever the spiritual master asks, the brahmacari will do. It is very strict. Whatever the brahmacari collects, he gives to the spiritual master; it is the spiritual master's property, not his own. And if the spiritual master forgets to call a disciple for lunch—"My dear son, come and take your prasadam"—then the disciple should not take prasadam. He should fast. Of course, the spiritual master does not forget, but these are some of the many injunctions. Brahmacarya is the beginning of life, and these injunctions must be followed even if one is the son of a king, or even if one is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. Krsna also underwent this discipline for some time when He was a brahmacari.
Then, after brahmacari life, one may marry and live with his wife and children, but for at most twenty-five years. Then one should retire. The husband and wife travel from one place of pilgrimage to another. Their minds are peaceful because their children are grown up and can take care of themselves. And when the husband is completely free from all family attachment, he takes sannyasa, complete renunciation. This is the process: brahmacarya, grhastha, vanaprastha and sannyasa.
Now, before retirement, it is the duty of the father to instruct his sons how to look after the family affairs, their personal affairs, their spiritual advancement—everything. So here Rsabhadeva is instructing, "My dear sons, do not think that this human body is equal to the body of the cats and dogs and hogs." He particularly mentions vid-bhujam, "the stool-eaters," or hogs. As in the human society the dogeater is considered the lowest, so in the animal society the stool-eating hog is considered the lowest. Like human beings, animals are of different gradations according to their eating process. As it is said, "You are what you eat."
So, eating is very important. If you eat like cats and dogs, you'll become cats and dogs, even in the human form of life. If you behave like cats and dogs, you become cats and dogs, even in the human form of life. Similarly, if you work very hard like cats and dogs or hogs, then what is the value of your human life? Human life should be very sober, peaceful, full of knowledge, full of bliss, devoted to Krsna. These are the signs of purity. Simply working hard like an animal and eating like an animal—no.
Rsabhadeva instructed His sons, "My dear sons, this human form of life is not meant for living like the hogs." Everyone has a body, but the human body is special. A human being should not live like the hogs. The whole day and night the hogs are searching after stool and sex. If a human being spends his whole day and night searching after food and sex, then he's missing the opportunity of human life.
Human life should be regulated. You should eat in a certain way, you should have sex in a certain way, you should sleep in a certain way, you should act in a certain way, you should think in a certain way. You cannot act unrestrictedly. The lawbooks are meant for human society, not for animal society. If the human society does not abide by any laws, then it is not human society; it is animal society.
So, if we should not spoil this human form of life by acting like the hogs, then what is human life meant for? King Rsabhadeva says, tapo divyam: austerity and penance. You should voluntarily accept some regulative principles, even if they are not very much to your liking. For example, from the very beginning of their lives, our students have been accustomed to certain habits, but we say, "You cannot do this," and they are following our instruction. This is tapasya, austerity. Suppose one is habituated to smoking and the spiritual master says, "You cannot smoke." So, if the student gives up smoking he may feel some inconvenience, some discomfort, but because the spiritual master has ordered him, he gives it up. This is tapasya.
To accept a spiritual master means to voluntarily agree to abide by the rules and regulations given by a great personality. This is what being a disciple means—to voluntarily agree, "Yes, sir. Whatever you say, I accept." The Sanskrit word sisya means "one who abides by the rules," and in English there is the word disciple, which is related to the word discipline. So a disciple becomes disciplined by the spiritual master. "Even at the inconvenience of my personal comfort, I must abide by the orders of my spiritual master." This is how a disciple thinks.
And how does the spiritual master know which orders to give? He does not concoct any rules and regulations. He refers to the sastra [scriptures]. Therefore Narottama dasa Thakura says, sadhu-sastra-guru-vakya, hrdaya kariya aikya: "Make the words of the saintly persons, the sastra, and the spiritual master one with your heart." If you want to know if someone is a spiritual master, then you should check his words against those of the scriptures and the saintly persons. These three—guru, sastra, and sadhu—should corroborate one another. If the spiritual master says something that is not in the sastra, that is not good. Similarly, a saintly person, a sadhu, also does not disregard the regulative principles of sastra. In the Bhagavad-gita [16.23] Krsna says, yah sastra-vidhim utsrjya, "A person who gives up obedience to the rules of the scriptures," vartate kama-karatah, "and acts in his own way, according to his whims," na sa siddhim avapnoti, "he cannot attain perfection," na sukham na param gatim, "nor can he be happy, what to speak of attaining liberation."
So tapasya means to voluntarily obey the rules of the scriptures, the spiritual master, and saintly persons and to mold your life in that way. Rsabhadeva is thus instructing His sons: "My dear sons, don't spoil your valuable human life by living like cats and dogs and hogs. Utilize your life by voluntarily accepting the rules of the sastra, the spiritual master, and saintly persons."
Then the question may be raised, "Why this injunction? Why shall I not live like an animal? Why do I have to live under the regulative principles of the scriptures and saintly persons and the spiritual master?"
Rsabhadeva answers, yena sattvam suddhyed: "If you accept these principles of life, then your existential condition will become purified." At the present moment, we are contaminated by the modes of material nature, mostly ignorance and passion. So Rsabhadeva is advising His sons that if they abide by the rules of the sastra, guru, and sadhu, they will be purified of these modes.
Then the question may be raised, "What is the need of purification?" The answer: yasmad brahma-saukhyam tv anantam. "When your existential condition becomes purified, you will be situated on the transcendental platform of blissful life." You are hankering after happiness, pleasure. So, when your existence becomes purified and you are placed on the transcendental platform, you will enjoy eternal happiness.
Everyone is searching after happiness. Why are you struggling so hard in this material existence? For happiness. Why are you after sense gratification? For happiness. Why do you want to possess so many things? For happiness. Why do you want to become beautiful? For happiness. Why do you want to eat so many things? For happiness. In everything, happiness is your ultimate goal.
But the happiness you are now deriving—that is temporary. You may become happy by intoxication, but for how long? That happiness is temporary. You may become happy by sex indulgence, but for how long? That happiness lasts for a few seconds or a few minutes only. But if you want eternal, continuous happiness, you have to purify your existential condition and place yourself in the transcendental position. Then you will feel eternal happiness.
The Vedic literature says, ramante yogino 'nante. The yogis enjoy sense gratification. But where? Anante—with the Supreme. The word ramante means "to enjoy sense gratification." For example, one of Lord Krsna's name is Radharamana. This means He enjoys sense gratification with Srimati Radharani. But His sense gratification is not the same as ours. We should not think it is. Material sense gratification is a perverted reflection of spiritual sense gratification.
The whole process of devotional service is aimed at gratifying Lord Krsna's senses (hrsikena hrsikesa-sevanam). Hrsikena means "with the senses," and hrsikesa-sevanam means "serving the master of the senses." The master of the senses is Krsna. So, when you apply your senses in the service of Krsna's sense gratification, that is transcendental. And when you employ your senses for your own sense gratification, that is material. That is the difference.
When you are situated on the transcendental platform, when your existential condition is purified by tapasya, by voluntarily accepting austerity and penance under the guidance of the spiritual master, the scriptures, and saintly persons—at that time it will be possible for you to satisfy the senses of Krsna, and then you will be fully satisfied. How? Here is an example: the different parts of your body cannot enjoy independently of the whole body. Your fingers can pick up a nice piece of cake, but they cannot enjoy it. But if the fingers pick up the piece of cake and put it into the mouth, it goes to the stomach; then there is some secretion from the stomach and it turns into blood; then the blood is spread to different parts of the body, and your finger is nourished. This is the process for satisfying the various parts of the body.
Similarly, we can enjoy sense gratification—but through Krsna. If you satisfy Krsna's senses, you feel complete sense gratification. The gopis [the cowherd girls in Krsna's spiritual abode] are the perfect example. Of all the devotees, the gopis are the supreme.
So, this is the process of human life: We have to purify our present existential condition by voluntarily accepting the regulative principles given by the spiritual master, the scriptures, and saintly persons. Then we become purified. At that time we engage our senses in the service of Lord Krsna, and then we actually enjoy transcendental sense gratification.
Thank you very much. Hare Krsna.
Puris—Pure and Simple
These deep-fried puffed breads
by Visakha-devi dasi
"Up until near my twentieth year I always ate puris," Srila Prabhupada once related when he was traveling with one of his disciples. He had just finished his packed lunch and was relaxing as he spoke. "I had no taste for capatis [flat breads] and on principle would not even eat them. It was awkward to go to a friend's home and not eat if they were served. But somehow I never would have to eat them." He laughed remembering this story.
"When I was a little boy," Srila Prabhupada continued, "my father condoned my favorite tastes. He would return home from work long after I had been sent to bed, but regularly he would allow me to get up, and we would sit together and eat fresh hot puris with hot milk. For me it is hard to see how Westerners enjoy dry bread when there is something as wonderful as puris."
Fresh puris—deep-fried puffed breads with thin, crispy, light-brown crusts-are among the finest breads in the world. Their wholesome taste and high nutrition value derive largely from the purity of the ingredients and the simplicity with which they're made. They are best when served still warm from cooking.
Puris are appropriate for all sorts of meals. Because they're deep-fried, they keep well, which makes them ideal on picnics or when you're traveling. Their delicious flavor makes them ideal for festive occasions like parties, special dinners, and weddings. You can have them in the morning with jam or halava, in the afternoon with soup and vegetables, or in the evening with milk, as Srila Prabhupada and his father did.
Traditionally, puris are made from golden wheat that has been stone ground into a fine, beige-colored flour called atta. Since atta is whole wheat, it's a good source of natural fiber. Also present in atta is the nut-flavored wheat germ, high in protein, iron, and vitamins B and E. And, of course, atta contains the endosperm, which constitutes the bulk of the wheat grain and is rich in complex proteins. (When these proteins are moistened they form the elasticlike gluten that allows puff dough to be kneaded and shaped.) Almost all Indian grocery stores carry atta, but if it's difficult for you to get, try using the whole-wheat flour, bread flour, or whole-wheat pastry flour that's available in supermarkets and healthfood or gourmet stores. For best results, coarsely ground flours should be sieved to remove large flakes of bran. (These can be saved for other dishes.) You'll find that the fine flour that results from sieving yields a smooth dough that responds readily to kneading and rolling out.
If the puris you make aren't perfect the first time, don't be disheartened. They'll be delicious anyway, and your ability to make them will improve with patient practice. Keep in mind that the consistency of the dough, your technique for rolling the dough, and the temperature of the frying ghee or oil must all be correct.
There is another factor for successfully cooking puris, one that is on a higher platform and is really the point of Lord Krsna's cuisine: to spiritualize our consciousness.
We can do this by cooking puris (or any other vegetarian dish) with Krsna in mind and by offering the food to Krsna with love and devotion. Since that which is connected to Krsna becomes of the same spiritual nature as Krsna Himself, not only do the cook and the food become spiritualized, but those who eat that Krsna prasadam, or spiritual food, also become spiritualized, Krsna-ized.
This is why the Lord advises in Bhagavad-gita (9.27-28), "Whatever you do, what ever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform-do that as an offering to Me." And what is the result of such consciousness? The Lord explains: "In this way you will be freed from bondage to work and its auspicious and inauspicious results. With your mind fixed on Me in this principle of renunciation, you will be liberated and come to Me."
(Recipes from The Hare Krishna Book of Vegetarian Cooking, by Adi-raja dasa)
Deep-fried puffed bread
Preparation time: 15 min
1 2/3 cups whole-wheat flour
1. Sift the two flours and the salt into a mixing bowl and rub in the tablespoon of butter (or ghee) with your fingertips. Slowly add the water, and mix until all the flour sticks together and you can knead it. Put a little ghee on your hands and knead the dough for 5 to 8 minutes until it is smooth and firm.
2. In a wok, or saucepan, heat the ghee or oil over a medium-high flame. Meanwhile, smear a few drops of ghee on the rolling surface. Don't use flour—it burns and discolors the ghee. Shape the dough into 16 patties, and roll them out thin and even.
3. When the ghee begins to smoke, lower the flame to medium. Lay a puri on the surface of the ghee, being careful not to burn your fingers. The puri will sink for a second, then rise to the surface and sputter. Immediately submerge it with soft swift pushes, using the back of a slotted spoon, until it inflates like a balloon. Fry the other side for a few seconds; then remove the puri from the ghee and stand it on edge in a colander to drain. (When your skill increases, try frying several puris at a time). Cook all the puris the same way.
4. Offer the hot puris to Krsna with any meal or as a snack with applesauce, honey, jam, or fresh cheese.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
1 ¾ cups whole-wheat flour
1. Sift the two flours into a large mixing bowl and add the spices and salt. Dribble the melted ghee or butter over the top, and rub into the flour until the flour resembles coarse bread crumbs.
2. In another bowl, mash the bananas into a smooth paste. Stir the sugar into the mashed bananas, then pour the mixture into the other ingredients, mixing thoroughly so that all the flour sticks together. If more moisture is needed to bind the flour, add more mashed banana or a tablespoon or two of warm water. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour. Knead the dough for several minutes, until it is smooth and fairly firm. Then set it aside.
3. Let the dough stand for 15 to 30 minutes. Then roll and deep-fry the kela puris as in the recipe for puris. Offer to Krsna hot.
Thick, Leavened Puris
Preparation time: 20 min
Commercial yeast is seldom used in Vedic breads. Batter is left in a warm place to ferment. In hot climates, batter will ferment in two hours; in colder climates baking powder is used to speed up the process.
2 cups plain yogurt
1. Start the night before by mixing together the yogurt, sugar, baking powder, and white flour in a large bowl. Cover the bowl with a cloth, and set it aside in a warm place overnight to allow natural fermentation to take place. The mixture is ready for the next step when bubbles appear on the surface.
2. In another bowl, mix together the atta or sifted whole-wheat flour with the salt, and rub the ghee or butter into it with your fingertips. Into this bowl, add the fermented mixture and the warm water. Work it with your hands until it holds together and forms a dough. Knead the dough for 5 to 10 minutes or until it is silky smooth. Add a little flour if it is too wet. Now gather it into a compact ball, cover it with a damp cloth, and set it aside in a warm place.
3. After 2 hours, knead the dough again. Form it into 15 balls and roll them into 5-inch discs. Heat the ghee and deep-fry the bhaturas exactly as you would puris.
* * *
(Recipe by Yamuna-devi dasi)
Spiced Wheat Flat Puris
Preparation time: 40 minutes
1 ½ cups well-sieved whole-wheat flour
1. Combine the sieved wheat flour, white flour, powdered spices, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the ghee and, using your fingertips, rub the ghee into the flour mixture until it reaches the consistency of dry oatmeal.
2. Pour in just under ½ cup of water and mix vigorously, adding enough water to prepare a slightly stiff but pliable dough. Knead with the knuckles or palms, using a little melted ghee, for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Gather the dough into a ball, spread a film of ghee over the surface, place it in a bowl, and drape the surface with a damp cloth. Then allow the dough to rest for ½ to several hours at room temperature.
3. Roll, shape, and fry the puris as directed in the basic Puri recipe on this page. Offer to Krsna hot.
A New Wrinkle On
by Dvarakadhisa-devi dasi
Three generations of women were waiting at the bus stop. The eldest woman, wearing a loose floral print over her ample form, appeared to be somewhere in her fifties. She was leaning back against the bench, listening wearily to her daughter's spirited attacks on the welfare office. The middle woman (the daughter) seemed the most animated of the group, fanning herself with a newspaper and expressing herself with vigor. The youngest, a twelve-yearold girl, gazed absently at the passers-by, singing under her breath and holding a large shopping bag between her bony knees. All three faces bore the family markings: wide brown eyes, prominent cheekbones, receding jaw. Yet a certain difference caught my eye. One face was fresh and pleasing, one was full with flesh and assurance, and the third was gaunt and weathered. I wondered if they could see the pattern of destiny as it was so profoundly exposed under the hot summer sun.
Every physical body ages. It's a fact of life. The rich, the beautiful, the intellectual-everyone witnesses the deterioration of his or her body due to age. And we are puzzled: Why does time ravage our bodies, while within we are still full of youthful desire?
Instinctively we loathe this gradual deterioration of our physical and mental faculties. Every grey hair, every wrinkle, suddenly becomes a threat. Soon we will lose our energy, our eyesight, our memories, our physical beauty. And we feel that universal dread that underlies all human existence: we must die.
We long for permanence. Although aging is foretold by our very birth, we nevertheless fight to stave off its insidious encroach. Faced with mounting evidence that we will grow old and die, we may resort to various psychological schemes for relief. Some people enter their senior years with wild abandon, acting more like teenagers than adults. They smear color into pallid cheeks and force weakening bodies to endure strenuous exercises. Thinking young and struggling to play hard, many older people desperately cling to a youth that will never return. Unfortunately, this only increases their attachment to that which they are destined to lose. Thinking young may be better than thinking old, but it can't make us young. And it certainly can't save us from death. Consequently, our most ardent desires for youth and immortality are frustrated. What we need is reassurance that indications of advancing age do not signal the end of all hopes for happiness.
This reassurance can be found by studying the Vedic scriptures under the guidance of a spiritual master. This will help us to understand that the physical body has no relation to the eternal soul (the self) within. The hapless soul is illusioned, thinking himself to be the physical body. And this mistaken identity is the source of his greatest fear and pain. He sees his body deteriorating, yet he has no knowledge of his destiny after death. Although old age and death are both foreign elements for the pure spirit soul, his attachment to the physical body and identification with it force him to think that he is aging unto death. This is maya, or illusion.
Independent of this illusion of bodily identification, the eternal soul possesses a consciousness rich with unlimited fulfillment and happiness, free from the annoyances of old age and death. The real self, the pure spiritual entity, is eternally linked with the Supreme Lord, the source of all pleasure. When this consciousness is awakened, fear of death and old age are banished. This point is explained by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada:
Apparently a devotee may grow old, but he is not subjected to the symptoms of defeat experienced by a common man in old age. Consequently, old age does not make a devotee fearful of death, as a common man is fearful of death. A devotee knows that after death he is going back home, back to Godhead; therefore he has no fear of death. Thus instead of depressing a devotee, advanced age helps him become fearless and thus happy. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.27.24, purport)
by Acarya-devi dasi
On a recent trip to New York I visited the Bronx Zoo. My husband and my brother-in-law taking turns behind my two year-old son in his stroller, we toured the bird sanctuary and the reptile house, at last coming to a particularly large and prominent sign: "The Most Dangerous Animal in the World."
Curiously I read of the beast that could quickly and easily annihilate all other species. Instinctively I drew back within the darkened chamber, raising my eyes to peer through the bars. And then I saw it—a mirror!
While I appreciated the conservationists down at the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation—that's one more voice against man's cruelty toward other species—I also detected hypocrisy. After all, only an hour earlier my brother-in law, a vegetarian, had gone to a zoo concession stand to buy lunch. "It's disgusting," he had said on returning empty-handed. "They don't serve anything here but meat!"
That's hypocrisy. You have a group of people who, on the one hand, work diligently to protect panthers, whales, and seals, yet who, on the other hand, blatantly support the slaughter of cows.
Eating meat, say India's ancient Vedic scriptures, is violent, irresponsible, and risky. They especially warn us that a heavy curse of karmic punishment befalls all who associate with the heinous crime of cow slaughter. Of course, we may not accept the Vedic scriptures—that's voluntary. But karma, you'll find, is mandatory. No one is exempt from karma's stringent control. And, as the law of karma says, you reap what you sow. The animal killer, the flesh eater, is risking repeated births among the animal species, forfeiting for perhaps eons his chances for higher consciousness. With conservationists backing such humanitarian campaigns as "Save the Seals" and "Save the Whales," it's ironic that they shun the most important campaign—to save the human beings from becoming animals. In the transcendental sense, human beings are the real endangered species, since so many people seem bent on risking everything for the dubious benefits of indiscriminate eating. It would appear that man is his own worst enemy, his own natural predator.
I still consider the officials of the Bronx Zoo hypocrites for advertising themselves as the kindly custodians of the animal kingdom. But I have to admit that in citing man as the most dangerous animal in the world, they are far more accurate than they imagine.
A High Price For Tomatoes
by Rasaprada dasa
Newly arisen amid the rice paddies and cabbage fields just forty miles outside Tokyo is the city of Tsukuba, Japan's "City for Science," recently illustrated in Smithsonian magazine. Tsukuba Science City, as it's now known, was conceived twenty years ago for bringing together the most advanced technological minds in Japan. Today it has become a scientific metropolis. Thus, among many of its thirty thousand residents, Tsukuba is referred to somewhat wryly as "brain city."
A recent science expo at Tsukuba introduced several million visitors to the city's innovative developments in laser technology, robotics, and computer science. Visitors also encountered a dazzling array of futuristic architectural mock-ups.
For the more down-to-earth, Tsukuba's expo boasted the latest in high-tech tomatoes. A massive overhead rotating lens system selects and focuses the sun's most beneficial rays, causing a single plant to produce up to ten thousand tomatoes.
In spite of all the tomatoes, however, as well as the many other fascinations at Tsukuba's twenty-first-century technological wonderland, something, many residents say, is missing. Tsukuba may be a city of brains, they say, but it has no soul.
"I just don't feel at home here the way I did in Tokyo" says Dr. Srigeru Yamane, an electrotechnical research scientist. Although Tsukuba was also intended to serve as an alternative living area for Tokyo's burgeoning population, many Tsukubaites now long for the shoulder-to-shoulder togetherness they once had back in the swarming megalopolis. "It's hard to explain to a foreigner," says Dr. Yamane, "but any Japanese understands it—we Japanese like being close together. Despite the space, the green lawns, the clean air or maybe because of them—I feel spiritually disjointed here."
Spiritually disjointed? Most of us are probably familiar with how occupational circumstances can separate an individual from comfortable social surroundings and family relationships. We all feel a little "disjointed" at times. But we may not be so aware of how our entanglement in technological endeavors may bar us from the most important necessity of human life, spiritual realization.
From the time-honored Vedic literature, we can understand that human intelligence is meant for cultivating knowledge of our original nature as eternal, spiritual beings, part and parcel of God. A society that squanders its resources in technological competition, therefore, is misusing those resources, especially the resource of higher intelligence.
Ultimately, any truly progressive society must provide for the spiritual benefit of everyone while also providing prosperity, harmony, and unity. This is only possible spiritually, by centering all activities (from agriculture to computer science) on the satisfaction of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The attempt to develop society around any conception other than pleasing the Supreme Personality of Godhead will always fall short of providing the spiritual nourishment we require.
"But what about all those tomatoes?" one may ask. "Isn't that a wonderful accomplishment, even without God in the center?" But as Krsna explains in the Bhagavad-gita, "Know that all beautiful, glorious, and mighty creations spring from but a spark of My splendor." Since the tomato plant originally came from Krsna, the sun originates from Krsna, the elements used in the elaborate lens system came from Krsna, and even the intelligence required to put it all together is also coming from Krsna, the credit, as well as the tomatoes, should be offered to Krsna. A society ignorant of the principles of God consciousness—even a "brain city"—is doomed to remain a society with no soul.
In Vedic society "love" of dogs, cats, country, relatives, and humanity goes by a different name.
by Mathuresa Dasa
There's a long history to bumper stickers. It began with Stone Age cavedwellers, who sometimes painted pictures on the walls of their homes. Later on, the Egyptians invented pyramids and decorated them with hieroglyphics. After that, Rome was built, and people were busy inscribing mottos and decrees on columns, architraves, Rosetta stones—wherever an inscription might catch the eye.
With civilization ploughing on through the twentieth century, man's penchant for publication has led him to put his mark on, among other things, the bumper of his car. Future hieroglyphists will attempt to decipher the messages and slogans adorning bumper stickers dating from this, the Age of the Auto.
In particular, archeologists might have fun with stickers from the "I love" series. "I love" stickers feature, in place of the word "love," a valentine heart and, after the heart, you name it, whatever turns you on. I love my baby, my car, my motorcycle, my country. I love dogs, cats, horses, parakeets. I love mother, father, boys, girls. The object of love may be represented in words or pictures, so that "I love my Doberman pinscher," for instance, might have "I," the valentine heart, and a dashing Doberman profile.
Adding a solemn note to the often frivolous "I love" series, "I love God" stickers (or equally rapturous, "God loves me") are making their bumper debut. "I love God" stickers raise an intriguing question for anthropologists and linguists: Why do residents of the Auto Age use only one word, "love," or one pictograph, the red heart, to denote affection, be it affection for dog, for God, or for anything in between? Language reflects culture, revealing the important elements in the day-to-day lives of a people. Eskimos have many words for snow, Arabs many words for sand and camel. Does Auto Man's use of the word "love" for both God and dog indicate that spiritual knowledge—knowledge of the Supreme Lord and of our relationship with Him—is a negligible element in Auto Age culture?
These questions would not occur to your run-of-the-mill anthropologist, but they might to one a little familiar with the Sanskrit language, with Vedic culture, or with the translations of the ancient Vedic literature published by the Hare Krsna movement. In the detailed Vedic descriptions of the science of God realization, there are hundreds of words denoting love of God in its many stages and varieties, words that do not apply to our affection for anyone or anything but the Supreme. In Vedic culture, "love" of dogs, cats, country, relatives, family members, humanity, and so on, goes by a different name.
The Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi-lila 4.165) asserts:
atmendriya-priti-vancha—tare bali 'kama'
In Sanskrit the generic term for love of God is prema, whereas the term for love of other things is kama. Prema denotes the desire to satisfy the senses of Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, which might appear to be an awfully mundane definition of love of God, since what we call love in the mundane world also centers on sense satisfaction. To show affection for a friend, relative, or any fellow human being, we exchange food pleasing to our senses of taste and smell, clothing pleasing to the eye and touch, words pleasing to the ears, thoughts pleasing to the mind and intelligence. Our ideas of love are probably most closely associated with sexual pleasure, which is the grand finale of all sense enjoyment, involving an intense combination of seeing, touching, smelling, tasting, and pleasing words.
Love of God also revolves around sense satisfaction, but it is not ordinary love because Krsna does not have ordinary senses. His senses are so extraordinary that the Vedic literature, to prevent us from confusing Krsna with lesser persons, sometimes says that He is sense-less, or, in other words, impersonal. The Svetasvatara Upanisad states that the Supreme Lord has no eyes yet sees everything, no ears yet hears everything, no hands yet accepts all that is offered to Him in love. "No eyes," "no ears," and "no hands" means that His eyes, ears, and hands are not like ours. With His eyes Krsna can see past, present, and future, in every corner of the universe and beyond the universe. He can hear the prayers of all His devotees. He can reach out to accept any offering, however great or small. Krsna's senses are unlimited and all-pervading.
If we don't understand that God is a sentient being, a person, it is useless to talk of loving Him. And until we understand the transcendental nature of His senses, we won't know how to love Him. Krsna can not only hear our prayers and reach out to accept our offerings wherever we might be, but through that hearing and reaching out He can also taste, smell, and speak. The Brahma-samhita explains that all of Krsna's senses are fully interchangeable: He can see with His ears, taste with His eyes, hear with His tongue. When devotees offer delicious food to the Lord, praying that He kindly accept what they have lovingly cooked, Krsna tastes the offering simply by hearing the prayers. With such knowledge of Krsna's transcendental personality, devotees are eager to love Him, offering Him not only food but fragrant flowers, luxurious clothing, and whatever else the Vedic literature recommends for His satisfaction.
Although prema (love of God) and kama (love of anything else) both involve sense satisfaction, the difference between the two, according to the Caitanya-caritamrta, is as great as the difference between gold and iron. Kama, which means lust, the selfish desire for our own sense pleasure, is like iron compared to prema's gold.
Lust?! Is an altruist or a responsible parent lusty? Was the Live Aid concert, which raised more than $50 million to feed the starving in Ethiopia, a gross act of selfishness? Of course not. Not according to common definitions of lust, anyway.
The Vedic definition, however, is uncommon, for to comprehend it we first need to acquaint ourselves with our eternal, spiritual identity. The Bhagavad-gita explains that we are not our physical bodies, but individual spirit souls residing within the body, and eternal parts of the Supreme Soul, Lord Krsna. As parts of Krsna, our eternal function is to serve Him, just as a finger's function, as part of the body, is to serve the entire body. The finger picks up food and gives it to the stomach. In that way the finger is fully nourished, although it does not eat directly. Similarly, serving Krsna nourishes and satisfies our spiritual selves.
Krsna does not force us to serve Him, however. We have the freedom to serve Him or not. And when we desire not to serve, Krsna obliges us with a material body to veil our true spiritual identity, and with a material world to facilitate our desires.
The Katha Upanisad declares:
nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam
Both Krsna and those who inhabit material bodies are eternal persons, but Krsna, the Supreme Eternal, provides for everyone else. He gives us sunlight, rain, food, and shelter, continuously fulfilling our desires to enjoy apart from Him. Everything you could possibly put on a bumper sticker after the words "I love" is a gift of the Supreme Lord. Yet we accept these gifts without gratitude, using them to gratify our temporary bodies (another gift), forgetting our eternal, reciprocal obligation to satisfy Krsna. This is selfishness. This is lust.
There is no qualitative difference between an excessive, indiscriminate desire for sexual pleasure (which is how we might ordinarily define lust) and the relatively selfless desire to feed the starving or to minister to the diseased and homeless. Both desires cater to the physical senses our own or those of others—not to Krsna's senses.
Lust also invades the realm of religion when we, recognizing that God is almighty, beg Him to use His might to satisfy our bodily cravings—the very cravings that beleaguer us only because we have forgotten our loving relationship with Him. "I love God" on my bumper may impress you as more pious than "I love my Chrysler," but if my affection for God depends on His willingness to please me, then "love" is the wrong word.
It's not just that lusty activities fail to satisfy Krsna. One may argue, after all, that Krsna is not so important. Feeding Africa's starving millions is a more pressing matter than worrying about God or haggling over definitions of love and lust. But the trouble is that activities which cater to the physical body fail to satisfy anyone, because as Krsna's eternal parts and parcels, we derive our satisfaction from His.
The tragedy of Live Aid and other extremely well-intentioned, well-organized altruistic efforts, the tragedy of all body-centered endeavors, is a tragedy of mistaken identity. Ignorant of the spiritual position of all living entities in their relationship with Krsna, we are attempting to nourish the body without feeding the stomach.
Thus in Africa ten years ago millions were starving, millions more starve today, and unless we learn how to send Krsna consciousness in addition to our shipments of rice and wheat, millions will starve in the future.
So if a Krsna conscious archeologist were to excavate an auto junkyard in the year 5000 and take a gander at a few "I love" bumper stickers, he might be able to tell you a thing or two about what went wrong with Auto Man. Then again, if Auto Man himself were to dig deeply into the Vedic science of love of God, future generations might have a happier tale to tell.
Give God the Nobel Prize
The following conversation took place between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his disciples on an early-morning walk in Geneva, on June 6, 1974.
Srila Prabhupada: Just look at this fig. In this one fig, you find thousands of seeds—and each tiny seed can produce another tree as big as the original fig tree. Inside each little seed is a whole new fig tree.
Now, where is that chemist who can do such a thing: first, make a tree, and then, make the tree bear fruit, and next. make the fruit produce seeds—and finally, make the seeds produce still more trees? Just tell me. Where is that chemist?
Disciple: They talk very proudly, Srila Prabhupada, but none of these chemists and such can do any of these things.
Srila Prabhupada: Once a big chemist came to me and admitted, "Our chemical advancement, our scientific advancement, is like a man who has learned to bark. So many natural dogs are already barking, but no one pays any attention. But if a man artificially learns the art of barking, oh, so many people will go to see—and even purchase tickets for ten dollars, twenty dollars. Just to see an artificial dog. Our scientific advancement is like this."
If a man makes an artificial imitation of nature, say by barking, people go to see and even pay money. When it comes to the natural barking, no one cares. And when these big so-called scientific rascals claim they can manufacture life, people give all sorts of praise and awards. As for God's perfect, natural process—millions and millions of beings born at each moment—no one cares. People don't give God's process very much credit.
The fool who concocts some utopian scheme for creating living beings from dead material chemicals—he is given all credit, you see: the Nobel Prize. "Oh, here is a creative genius." And nature is injecting millions and millions of souls into material bodies at every moment—the arrangement of God—and no one cares. This is rascaldom.
Even if we suppose you could manufacture a man or animal in your laboratory, what would be your credit? After all, a single man or animal created by you, and millions and millions created by the Lord. So we want to give credit to Krsna, who is really creating all these living beings we see every day.
Disciple: Prabhupada, you remember Aldous Huxley, who predicted in Brave New World a process of genetically screening babies, of breeding men for certain traits. The idea would be to take one strain of traits and breed a class of working men, take another strain of traits and breed a class of administrators, and take still another strain of traits and breed a class of cultured advisors and scholars.
Srila Prabhupada: Once again, that is already present in God's natural arrangement. Guna-karma-vibhagasah: according to one's qualities and activities in his past life, in this present life he gets a fitting body. If one has cultivated the qualities and activities of ignorance, he gets an ignorant body and must live by manual labor. If one has cultivated the qualities and activities of striving passion, he gets a passionate body and must live by taking charge of others—administration.
If one has cultivated the qualities and activities of enlightenment, he gets an enlightened body and must live by enlightening and advising others.
So you see; God has already trade such a perfect arrangement. Every soul receives the body he desires and deserves, and the social order receives citizens with required traits. Not that you have to "breed" these traits. By His natural arrangement, the Lord equips particular souls with particular kinds of bodies. Why even try imitating what God and nature already do perfectly?
I told that scientist who visited me, "You scientists—you are simply wasting time." Childish. They are just imitating the dog's barking. The scientist pays no attention, gives no credit to the real dog doing the real barking. Actually, that is today's situation. When the natural dog barks, that is not science. When the artificial, imitation dog barks, that is science. Isn't it so? To whatever degree the scientist succeeds in artificially imitating what the Lord's natural arrangement is already doing—that is science.
Disciple: When you heard, Prabhupada, about the scientists claiming they can now produce babies in a test tube, you said, "But that is already being done in the mother's womb. The womb is the perfect test tube."
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Nature is already doing everything with utter perfection. But some puffed-up scientist will make a shabby imitation—using the ingredients nature supplies—and get the Nobel Prize.
And what to speak of actually creating a baby—let us see the scientists produce even one blade of grass in their proud laboratories.
Disciple: They should give the Lord and Mother Nature the Nobel Prize.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, yes.
Disciple: Really, I think they should give you the Nobel Prize. You've taken so many foolish atheists and created devotees of God.
Srila Prabhupada: Oh, I—I am a "natural dog," so they'll not give me any prize. [Laughs.] They will award the prize to the artificial dogs.
A look at the worldwide activities of the
Float Parade Is Part of ISKCON Festival in Calcutta
Calcutta—Three chariots carrying Jagannatha, Balarama, and Subhadra, along with five decorated dioramas depicting the Vedic heritage of Bengal, recently journeyed through this city as part of ISKCON's annual Ratha-yatra festival. Instead of one chariot, as in previous years, the devotees prepared three (with heights of fifty feet, forty feet, and twenty feet). In addition, a special float parade, sponsored by local companies, was a new feature. This being the five-hundredth anniversary of the appearance of Lord Caitanya, the devotees made elaborate arrangements to make the celebration special.
The traditionally mammoth procession drew two million people this year and was telecast nationally.
Following the celebration, Justice Bhagwati P. Bannerjee and Justice M. M. Dutt inaugurated a seven-day Hare Krsna festival at the Maidan park. There the devotees displayed the floats, erected a fifty-foothigh tent to serve as Lord Jagannatha's temple, held early-morning and evening programs that drew twenty-five thousand people daily and forty thousand on the weekend, and nightly fed ten thousand. The programs included lectures, videos, and colorful Vedic fire sacrifices.
Dedication of Krishnaland in Vancouver
Vancouver—Lord Caitanya's outstretched arms beckon commuters, the curious, and devotees to visit a new attraction here called Krishnaland, the eight-acre Vedic community at the ISKCON center. The recently unveiled statue of Lord Caitanya in a dancing pose (sculpted by Subrata Lahiri) stands in a garden with a fountain and at thirty feet, is the tallest freestanding statue in Canada.
At the dedication ceremony, Elwood N. Veitch, member of the legislative assembly. commended the devotees and requested that they continue to foster "the spiritual growth of all our people." Jagadish C. Sharma, India's consul general, requested everyone present to make next year's five-hundredth-anniversary celebration of Lord Caitanya's appearance an internationally recognized occasion.
ISKCON has been invited to participate in the 1986 world Exposition in British Columbia. Some thirty countries will take part, and visitors are expected from all over the world. The ISKCON devotees plan to sponsor the Ratha-yatra parade and a Festival of India as part of the-exposition. These exciting developments ensure that Lord Caitanya's appearance anniversary will be widely recognized and celebrated in western Canada next year.
Vancouver's ISKCON temple has become a major spiritual center in western Canada. The heart of the community is the lavish Vedic-style temple (completed in 1983), which has become a center of worship for thousands of Indians. The temple, with its stained-glass windows, marble floors, carved pillars and arches, and exotic murals, has attracted widespread media coverage. Forty members of Vancouver's school board visited ISKCON's elementary school last year, and since then, many schools have sent their classes for a guided tour of the community.
Future developments for Krishnaland will include a restaurant, a museum, and a cultural center featuring a garden of statues and dioramas.
A Walking Tour of Holy India
In India, going on pilgrimage to places where the Supreme Lord performed His pastimes is as popular, or more so, than sightseeing is in the West. Every year hundreds of millions of Indians journey by plane, train, bus, auto, ox cart, and on foot to ancient temples and to holy cities. The word pada-yatra (literally "walking festival") refers to any extended walking tour of sacred places. Thus pada-yatra is an integral part of India's honored pilgrimage tradition. Five hundred years ago, when the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, descended as Lord Caitanya to play the part of His own devotee, He performed pada-yatra, traveling on foot all over South India and Inspiring everyone to chant Krsna's holy name. To commemorate the appearance and travels of Lord Caitanya, a pada-yatra organized by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness has been touring around the entire Indian subcontinent, visiting many of the same pilgrimage sites Lord Caitanya visited.
This special section features an article by His Holiness Lokanatha Swami, the pada-yatra's chief organizer. His Holiness Jayadvaita Swami, another pada-yatra leader, delivers a provoking commentary on the influence of Western culture on India's village life. His Holiness Jagatguru Swami tells us about the South Indian city of Sri Rangam and of Lord Caitanya's historic visit there five centuries ago.
Pada-yatra's chief organizer tells how this roundabout tour of India is a direct route to Lord Caitanya's mercy.
by Lokanatha Swami
In 1976, Srila Prabhupada asked me to start a party that would travel in India by bullock cart to the towns and villages in India and perform kirtana [congregational chanting of Hare Krsna]. That program was successful, and Srila Prabhupada was very pleased. Then in '77 he expressed a transcendental desire to go himself on a cart pulled by bullocks- and circurnambulate Vrndavana. From there he would continue all over India. Srila Prabhupada was very ill at the time, and the devotees serving him felt his fragile body would be unable to survive the rough treatment of the roads. Ultimately, this desire of His Divine Grace remained unfulfilled.
Then, as the five-hundredth anniversary of Lord Caitanya's appearance approached, Srila Jayapataka Swami Acaryapada was considering traversing the same route as the one Lord Caitanya traveled. Srila Acaryapada knew I was experienced in traveling from village to village, so he wrote me about his proposal. Later on, the leading devotees approved the plan for a pada-yatra to visit the same places that Lord Caitanya had visited some five hundred years ago. I find this a matchless way to commemorate the five-hundredth birthday of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Aims and Objectives
The main objective is to please Lord Caitanya by glorifying Him. Lord Caitanya is Krsna Himself in the role of His own devotee. There is much evidence in the scriptures that proves this fact, but even in India many people still do not know this; they take Lord Caitanya for one of the great saints. The pada-yatra is rectifying this misunderstanding by establishing that Lord Caitanya is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
We also want to introduce Srila Prabhupada as the specially empowered representative of Lord Caitanya who fulfilled His prediction that the holy name of Krsna will be preached in every town and village in the world.
The pada-yatra is made up of devotees from all over the world. As the party travels the countryside, people see devotees from many countries and understand they represent even more devotees in their native lands. Thus the people can at once appreciate Srila Prabhupada's glorious position. Also, Indian people who see foreigners practicing Krsna consciousness strictly and sincerely are shocked into reviving their faith and interest in their own religion and culture. Indian culture is the richest and most ancient surviving culture in the world', but present-day Indians are misled by the allure of the Western culture, which is based on the ignorant misconception that the body is the self. Pada-yatra inspires them to take a second look at their cultural heritage.
Indian people who see so many Western devotees of Krsna joyfully engaged in Krsna consciousness are deeply impressed, because they know that these Western men and women have left the very society and value system that India is trying to imitate. In addition, we distribute thousands of books explaining the authentic understanding of the Indian spiritual traditions The people read these books and appreciate, many for the first time, the true purport of the scriptures: unalloyed devotion to Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Then the people are inspired to change their lives by chanting Hare Krsna.
Another effect we are having is to further the integration of the Indian nation. A God-centered conception of life can keep this nation united. Without it, materialism and self-centeredness prevail, and materialistic people can never remain united for long. Krsna consciousness, on the other hand, teaches one to be selfless, to sacrifice one's selfish interest for the sake of the greater whole. This sense of putting oneself last comes only from putting Krsna in the center. Our pada-yatra party, made up of people from all over the world, is a miniature example of this principle.
Is the Attempt Worthwhile?
Since we started on September 2 last year, we've gone almost three thousand kilometers, and the response throughout the journey has been overwhelmingly favorable, way beyond our expectations. We've reached millions. Every day thousands of people get the opportunity to realize the divinity of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In the association of His devotees they feel inspired to regularly chant the Hare Krsna mantra, the greatest prayer for deliverance in this quarrelsome age.
One man who attended our program in the evening approached me the next day, as we were leaving his village. He had been so inspired by our program that he had begun reading Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is immediately and then finished five rounds of Hare Krsna chanting before he went to bed. This man said he had taken a vow to do this daily, and he had wanted to start the very same day. We consider this kind of response the perfection of the pada-yatra.
Another thing the pada-yatra is doing is clearing up any misconceptions rural people may have about the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) by giving them firsthand information. For example, some people accuse ISKCON of being an organization for rich city people. But when they see the devotees walking through the countryside, satisfied with the accommodations and food offered by the villagers and working hard to spread Krsna consciousness, they realize the devotees are genuinely interested in the welfare of all the people.
Another example: Some people think ISKCON devotees are idle hippie types. But when the people see that the devotees are happily following our four regulative principles—giving up meat-eating, intoxication, illicit sex, and gambling—and that they're always chanting the holy name of Krsna as they walk along the road, the people can understand that this is a serious movement. Pada-yatra is gaining a good name for ISKCON.
Many cabinet ministers, chief ministers, members of parliament, mayors, municipal commissioners, religionists, and scholars have received and appreciated the pada-yatra devotees. So this program is a success on many levels. Srila Prabhupada would have been very pleased with it, and his pleasure is something that really matters to us.
For the devotees of Indian origin it's easier than for the foreign devotees. The weather sometimes gets very hot, and people aren't used to the heat. Out in the countryside we don't have the kind of facilities we're accustomed to in the cities. We often have to answer nature's call in the fields and stay in places with no real privacy. In the villages we sometimes get first-class facilities, but usually we get a big hall, and the whole party has to spend the night there with no partitions, no privacy. This is actually a very good thing, because it teaches detachment, tolerance, and humility. Krsna consciousness is meant for austerity, not soft living. Devotees are grateful for the purification and for the advancement in Krsna consciousness they're making on this pada-yatra.
A Big Job
Obviously, maintaining a party of one hundred devotees, five bullocks, a camel, and an elephant is not going to be easy. But the hospitality in the villages is really wonderful. That is what keeps us going. In the Indian cultural tradition one is trained to receive guests—especially sadhus, or saintly persons—as if God Himself had come to your home. This is changing with the times, but it is still dominant here in the Indian villages. Our advance party goes ahead and tells the people that the pada-yatra is coming and what accommodations we'll need. The news spreads quickly by word of mouth, and things begin to happen. The people arrange some accommodations, either in a school or a big temple, and they always feed us and usually our animals. Then there is always a nearby river or well to wash clothes and take our bath in. Sometimes we stay in dharmasalas, dormitories meant exclusively for mendicant sadhus and pilgrims.
The villagers give us other things as well. In Rajkot, Gujarat, a man donated 150 pairs of shoes. Last winter, some patron members of ISKCON sent us blankets and sweaters. One of them personally came out to meet the party and deliver his gifts of warm clothes. And from some of the ISKCON temples in India we also get regular monthly cash contributions and sometimes free books for distribution. By the mercy of the devotees, villagers, and others, help keeps trickling in in one form or another.
Longest Pada-yatra In History
This is the first pada-yatra ISKCON has organized. The Times of India, the leading daily paper, has described it as "a maha-pada-yatra," the longest pada-yatra in history, and with international participation. It is unique in many ways, but pada-yatras are not uncommon in India Whether for economic or spiritual reasons. individually or collectively, people prefer, walking to holy places. It sometimes take them weeks, but it is a common practice. Of course, though the real purpose of a pada-yatra is to give one a chance to make spiritual advancement, politicians some times use it for political purposes. Gandhi's 241-mile trek in 1930 in defiance of the Salt Act imposed by the British is the now famous pada-yatra in this century. A more recent attempt by another politician—a walk from Kanya-kumari, the southern most tip of India, to New Delhi—failed to give him the popularity he hoped for.
Now, ISKCON has already started two processions outside of India, in Mauritius and in Brazil, because of the success of this one in India. One of our devotees from Gainesville, Florida, spoke to me earlier this year and said he wants to start one in the United States. When I was in America two years ago, the devotees in Washington, D.C., had a chanting party on a bullock cart; it got a lot of attention from the press. Also, the devotees on the Gita-nagari farm in Pennsylvania sometimes distribute prasadam [food offered to Krsna] in the villages and towns from bullock carts. So I think there is scope for this type of program in other parts of the world.
Pada-yatra until 1996
Srila Tamal Krishna Goswami suggested to me that the pada-yatra should not stop after the festival in 1986. I completely agree. This is the best program for establishing Krsna consciousness at the grassroots level in India. My plan is to continue northwest after our annual festival in Mayapur in March 1986, all the way to Vrndavana. En route we will pass through Gaya, Benares, Ayodhya, Allahabad, the Naimisaranya forest, Old Delhi, New Delhi, and then on to Vrndavana. The idea is to reach Vrndavana by November of '86, in time for Srila Prabhupada's disappearance-day memorial.
Then from there we will begin a ten-year pada-yatra, returning in 1996 for Srila Prabhupada's centennial appearance anniversary festival. This way, those devotees who could not join the present pada-yatra will still have the oppportunity to go on pada-yatra. If my Godbrothers approve and support this plan, it will not be too difficult to achieve. It would largely depend on the leaders' realizing the enormous potential of this program for spreading Krsna consciousness. The best way to get that realization—the only way, in fact—is to participate in it for a while and experience firsthand the preaching and purifying potency of the pada-yatra program.
Join us on pilgrimage in India by joining the pada-yatra now underway. (See RESOURCES on page 22). Or attend ISKCON's annual festival in Mayapur, West Bengal, the site of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's appearance and youthful pastimes. Every year, devotees of Krsna from around the world join together for three weeks of spiritual association at this holy place of pilgrimage. We have special group airfares, and meals and accommodations at our own ISKCON center. This year, the pilgrimage festival takes place in March. It's a once-in-a-lifetime event, celebrating 500 years since the advent of Lord Caitanya. And you are invited to join us.
People of Pada-yatra
Lokanatha Swami was born in Aravade, a small village in the Indian state of Maharastra. In 1971, while he was pursuing a degree in chemistry at a Bombay university, he met the Hare Krsna devotees for the first time. Srila Prabhupada and a group of his American and European disciples were holding a spiritual festival at Bombay's Cross Maidan park, and Lokanatha attended every evening, relishing Prabhupada's lectures and watching the Western devotees with great interest.
In 1972 Lokanatha decided to join the Hare Krsna temple in Bombay. He also decided to quit school, even though his family and friends back in Aravade were at first strongly opposed. He soon received initiation from Srila Prabhupada and a few years later entered the renounced order, sannyasa. He has served as president of the Delhi temple and has traveled and lectured extensively in India and abroad. In 1976, at Srila Prabhupada's request, he led a group of devotees from Vrndavana, just south of Delhi, to Mayapur, West Bengal, traveling by ox cart.
Lokanatha Swami is the pada-yatra's chief organizer and has been leading the festival since its beginning in September 1983. He is well known in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) for his humility and innate appreciation of Krsna consciousness. Renowned as a leader of kirtanas (congregational chanting of God's holy names to the accompaniment of Indian drums and cymbals), he has preached effectively all over India, inspiring large crowds to join in the chanting. His presence has helped maintain the momentum of the pada-yatra.
Srila Prabhupada, shortly before passing away in 1977, expressed a strong desire to go on pilgrimage, riding in a ox cart, to all the holy places in India. That petition served as the inspiration for Lokanatha Swami, who sees the pada-yatra as his chance to fulfill one of Srila Prabhupada's last requests.
Jayadvaita Swami was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. He met Srila Prabhupada in 1968 at the age of eighteen. When he joined the New York temple, his first engagements were stapling pamphlets and typing. Now he is known in ISKCON for his scholarship and understanding of the Krsna consciousness philosophy. He served for many years as a senior member of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, editing the Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam and Sri Caitanya-caritamrta. As editor of Srila Prabhupada's voluminous writings, he deeply imbibed the formidable Krsna consciousness philosophy, as his numerous articles for BACK TO GODHEAD and his thousands of public lectures attest. He has been closely associated with BACK TO GODHEAD since its early years, most recently serving for six years as senior editor. Since the early years of the Krsna consciousness movement, Jayadvaita Swami has been known for his serious determination, sharp wit, and speaking ability. From the beginning he was a simple and renounced disciple of Srila Prabhupada. So it was natural that he eventually took formal initiation into the sannyasa order of renunciation. It was thus that he received the title "Swami" (one who is master of his senses).
Just prior to his going to India to travel with the pada-yatra, Jayadvaita Swami served in Europe, where he directed the publication of BACK To GODHEAD in several languages. Now that he is walking with the pada-yatra, getting a rare, intimate look at the people and culture of India, he is informing-and provoking the readers of BACK To GODHEAD with frontline reporting and incisive commentary from such places as, Udipi, Ramesvaram vam, Tirupati and Madras. And there's more to come. With India's population being predominantly rural, the pada-yatra is affecting the lives of hundreds of millions who live in the villages. And Jayadvaita Swami, as a vital member of the pada-yatra, works to revive their God consciousness.
Havirdhana dasa is one of the leaders assisting Lokanatha Swami on the pada-yatra program. Prior to joining the Krsna consciousness movement, Havirdhana made two trips to India "looking for something positive to do with myself." In 1979, on his third such trip from England, his homeland, he realized Krsna consciousness was the positive alternative to the diverse occupations he had previously tried but had found unfulfilling. "I was traveling around India," he relates, "and I had remained for some time in Rishikesh. A devotee met me there and said, 'Come down to Vrndavana. The biggest festival of the year, Krsna's birth day, is coming soon.' I asked around about Vrndavana, and everyone told me it's very nice there. So I went."
In Vrndavana, the sacred place of Lord Krsna's childhood pastimes, Havirdhana stayed at the ISKCON center, the Krishna-Balaram temple, and helped out with the festival preparations. He chanted Hare Krsna with the devotees and attended classes on the devotional science of Krsna consciousness. After the festival, he stayed on; he was becoming more and more convinced that Krsna consciousness would lead him to the Absolute Truth. Six months later he asked for initiation, thus formalizing his commitment to the spiritual path of devotion to Lord Krsna.
Although in his six years of active membership in the Krsna consciousness movement Havirdhana has held a number of posts, none of them has been as inspiring to him as pada-yatra. He has been involved with the pada-yatra since it began in September of 1984.
Says Havirdhana: "I cannot see anything else for me but pada-yatra. After we reach Mayapur, I would like to go on to Vrndavana and come around again, through Bombay and South India. The preaching impact of this program is just incredible. Every day we are reaching hundreds of people."
Filtering the Waters
Reflecting on the transmogrified face of Indian Culture
By Jayadvaita Swami
It 's the middle of the evening in Ramesvaram, one of the holiest cities in the Hindu world. The majestic temple of Siva turns quiet. Its towers disappear into the night. The god inside is said to be sleeping now. The temple elephant closes its eyes and rests on its side for sleep.
Midway along the temple's southern wall, a street lamp casts light and shadow on what remains of an old gate, pale yellow, partly reconstructed in cement. Old granite slabs, grey and heavy, lie scattered between the wall and the road.
Across the road, from among the little shops, food stalls, and pilgrims' hotels, a loudspeaker plays toward the gate. This might be the sound of Vedic hymns. Or special songs composed in honor of the temple? No way.
It's cinema music—Indian cinema music. Blasting away into the night. Love songs blended in the studios of Madras and poured onto celluloid to give Tamil boxoffice films their special taste.
Does the Indian heart thirst for the ancient elixir of immortality? Come on now give us cinema, Cinema, CI-NE-MA! And not that artsy Satyajit Raj stuff either. Give us heavy punches, hot kisses, broken hearts, and murder. Heroes, superstars—magazines with scandals and gossip. And give us songs, lots of songs. We really, really go for those songs.
This is not to say that India has ceased to be a land of spirituality. Deep, strong spiritual currents still nourish the Indian life, as India's rivers nourish her soil. But those divine cultural waters float pretty thick with junk nowadays. From Madras, Calcutta, Delhi, Bombay, tributaries swirl it downstream to the towns and villages.
So in the little village of Silaiman, seven kilometers out of Madurai, we find crowds of chattering farm people migrating down the roads at 10 P.M. to their mud-and-grass homes from the village cinema, a spacious hall of bamboo and palm thatch with a clunky old British projector and grey metal cone loudspeakers that stamp all directions with tinny soundtracks. If you're walking around at one in the morning, you'll find dogs, cows, hogs, chickens, donkeys, buffalo, and people, asleep in a village fog of song and dialogue.
In Vembar, another village, nearby homeson two sides of us send out waves of cinema songs top volume all day and night till three in the morning. It's a local custom: the day before your family celebrates a marriage, you play cinema songs to invite all the neighbors to the holy event. ("May this union be sanctified, O Lord, by the blessed cultural waters from Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay.")
This has all happened pretty fast. "Even fifty years ago," Srila Prabhupada writes (he was writing back in 1965), "the social structure of all Indians was so arranged that they would not read any literature that was not connected with the activities of the Lord. They would not play any drama not connected with the Lord. Nor would they visit a place that was not holy and sanctified by the pastimes of the Lord. Therefore, even the common man in the village would talk about Ramayana and Mahabharata, Gita and Bhagavatam, even from his very childhood."
That's the way the villages used to be. "But by the influence of the Age of Kali," Srila Prabhupada continues, "they have been dragged to the civilization of the dogs and hogs, laboring for bread without any sense of transcendental knowledge."
This "sense of transcendental knowledge" is the essence of human life. The living being is essentially a transcendental entity, eternal, blissful, and full of knowledge, but when he forgets he is a tiny soul dependent on the Supreme Lord, he leaves hold of his transcendental sense of who he is, flounders in false ego, and makes a fool of himself in the muck of the material world.
According to how he grasps, material nature sticks him with a body to suit his fantasies, and then makes him act out the role the body requires. The body keeps him busy working hard to eat, sleep, mate, and defend. And when his time's up in one body, material nature kicks him to the next—in one of 8,400,000 species—and the same routine starts all over again. Human life offers the living being the chance to free himself gracefully from this embarrassing series of illusions and get back to the transcendental life to which he rightly belongs. One does this simply by living in relationship with the Supreme Transcendence, the Supreme Lord, the Personality of Godhead.
The Personality of Godhead, Krishna is like the sun, and illusion is like darkness. Wherever there is Krsna there can be no illusion. The holy name and glories of Krsna are identical with Krsna Himself. The Vedic teachings, therefore, call upon us to be happy in this life and achieve spiritual liberation through regular chanting and hearing of the glories of Krsna, the Supreme Lord.
The Vedic sages tell us that the best way to fend off the cultural pollution brought on by the degrading Age of Kali is the chanting of the maha-mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. If we spread this chanting, at least we have a fighting chance that the influence of Kali will weaken and spiritual culture will gain strength and prevail.
Lord Caitanya's sankirtana pada-yatra is therefore touring India to persuade people of the importance of their spiritual heritage and the chanting of the holy name of the Lord. In the pada-yatra, Indian devotees who've gotten back their natural taste for spiritual life walk together with Western devotees who grew up on the sweet goo of sense enjoyment and spit it out for the taste of Krsna consciousness. If the Indian people take the pada-yatra's message seriously, they can save their culture and spiritualize their lives. And they can spread the culture of Krsna consciousness for the benefit of the entire world.
Human life is meant for spiritual realization. Village life in India used to be arranged in such a way that this realization would come about naturally. Children would gather around their parents and grandparents to hear rama-lila and krsna-lila, the pastimes of the Supreme Lord.
But now I'm having trouble even telling you this. I'm in a peaceful little village, seventy kilometers north of Pondicherry. But while I write, trying my best to concentrate, the villagers we're staying with have gathered in the next room—to watch the cinema, on television.
So what to do now? You can't pass a law, "No Cinema." People wouldn't stand for it. All you can do is be exasperated and sad. And fight the Age of Kali by chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Visit to Sri Rangam
While touring the holy places of pilgrimage, Lord Caitanya spent four months in this culturally prominent South Indian city—and left His indelible transcendental mark
by Jagatguru Swami and Bhavananda Raya dasa
Shortly after entering the renounced order, Lord Caitanya set out on foot to tour the holy places of South India. Chanting God's holy names (Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare) and absorbed in ecstatic love of God, He turned everyone into a devotee of Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. After having traveled to many holy places in South India, He came to the city of Sri Rangam. A number of significant events occurred during the Lord's stay here. And as we shall see, the residents of Sri Rangam have not forgotten those events, even though almost five centuries have passed.
On an island in the Kaveri River the Lord saw the city of Sri Rangam. He also saw the beautiful temple of Ranganatha, the largest Visnu (Krsna) temple in all of India, with its seven surrounding concentric walls and its towering gopuras (gateways). And when He entered the temple, He began dancing in ecstatic love of God and chanting the holy names. His tall and graceful form was effulgent and golden. His arms reached down to His knees. Lord Caitanya was dressed in the traditional saffron cloth of a sannyasi, a member of the renounced order. And when lie began to dance before the Deity, everyone was struck with wonder. The news of Lord Caitanya's arrival quickly spread throughout the city, and many people began to assemble just to see Him.
Having heard about this uncommon personality who had come to Sri Rangam, Vyenkata Bhatta, the head priest of the temple, came forward with great respect and invited Lord Caitanya to dine at his house. Lord Caitanya accepted the invitation, and Vyenkata Bhatta requested Him to remain a guest in his house until the four months of the rainy season Caturmasya) had ended. "Please be merciful to me," Vyenkata Bhatta said, "and stay at my house during Caturmasya. Speak about Lord Krsna's pastimes and kindly deliver me by Your mercy."
Lord Caitanya agreed, and lie passed His days in great happiness, discussing Lord Krsna's transcendental pastimes. Sometimes He would perform sankirtana through the streets of the city. On seeing the beautiful form of Lord Caitanya and the ecstatic way in which He chanted and danced, the people were astonished. Man thousands of people from various parts of the country came to see the Lord, and after seeing Him they too began chanting Hare Krsna in ecstasy. Indeed, after seeing Lord Caitanya, all these people became devotees of Lord Krsna, and all their unhappiness and distress vanished. Lord Caitanya was very pleased by all these happenings, and He requested everyone to go out and spread the sankirtana movement. The influence of Lord Caitanya was felt in every home in Sri Rangam.
On one occasion Lord Caitanya came upon a devotee reading the Bhagavad-gita. The Lord observed in the body of that devotee symptoms of ecstatic love of God—hair standing on end, tears welling in the eyes, trembling, and perspiration. The Lord was very pleased to meet this pure devotee. Some people standing nearby, however, were laughing and joking about the way the devotee was reading. Actually he was illiterate. That's why people were laughing at him.
Lord Caitanya asked the devotee, "My dear sir, why are you in such ecstatic love? Which portion of the Bhagavad-gita gives you such transcendental pleasure?"
"I am illiterate," the devotee replied, and therefore do not know the meaning of the words. Sometimes I read Bhagavad-gita correctly and sometimes incorrectly, but in any case I am doing this in compliance with the orders of my spiritual master. Actually I am looking at this picture of Lord Krsna sitting as Arjuna's charioteer. Taking the reins in His hands, He appears very beautiful and blackish. When I see this picture, I am filled with ecstasy. As long as I read the Bhagavad-gita I simply see the Lord's beautiful features. It is for this reason that I am reading Bhagavad-gita, and my mind cannot be distracted from this."
Then, much to everyone's surprise, Lord Caitanya embraced the devotee and proclaimed that he was actually the greatest scholar of the Bhagavad-gita because he had realized the real purport: love for God Krsna. Being touched by Lord Caitanya that devotee felt great spiritual ecstasy, and he realized that Lord Caitanya was none other than Lord Krsna Himself.
When the four months of the rainy season ended, Lord Caitanya prepared to Leave Sri Rangani and continue His pilgramage Vyenkata Bhatta, who had developed great affection for Lord Caitanya, became overwhelmed with lamentation and fainted. All the residents of Sri Rangam felt their hearts ache with love for the great transcendental personality who was leaving thetas.
Even though almost five centuries have elapsed since the Lord's South India tour, the residents of Sri Rangam have not forgotten the great fortune Lord Caitanya brought to their city. A shrine at the main entrance to the city displays the Lord's footprints and commemorates the Lord's arrival. In another area of the city, what was once the home of Vyenkata Bhatta is now a beautiful little temple. The temple has many paintings depicting Lord Caitanya's pastimes at Sri Rangam. In the central hall of the temple, there is a diorama of Lord Caitanya and a Deity of Lord Krsna (Jagannatha).
Amazingly, the family descendants of Vyenkata Bhatta still live at Sri Rangam. The head of the household, Rangaraja Bhatta, continues to carry on the tradition and heritage of his forefathers by serving on the Ranganatha temple advisory committee. Whenever visited by devotees of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), Rangaraja Bhatta and his family are always glad to receive them. Rangaraja Bhatta says, "The members of ISKCON, headed by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, are fulfilling the mission of Lord Caitanya and preaching the sankirtana movement all over the world. This is very wonderful, because it was predicted by the Lord Himself."
Of Men and Machines
Do you like computers?
If you are at heart a humanist, then you would probably answer no. Or you would give a qualified yes. Because you're uneasy around computers. They do a lot of good, you admit, but they also represent a dehumanizing force.
Not that everyone who gets edgy around an IBM PC subscribes to some specific brand of humanism (that plethora of doctrines, all of which essentially hold man to be the measure of all things and human nature to be sovereign). There are lots of people who don't like computers for all kinds of nonhumanistic reasons: economic, aesthetic, theistic. But humanistic thinkers today are definitely wary of computers, even while the electronic age grows in accomplishments and even as computer advocates praise the computer and make great claims for artificial intelligence.
The basic restraint that humanists show in this regard is expressed well by Lewis Mumford in his book The Myth of the Machine: "No automatic system can be intelligently run by automatons—or by people who dare not assert human intuition, human autonomy, human purpose."
Pretty humanistic. Nevertheless, the number of people using computers is still growing, and many devout "users" find such antitechnology statements to be excessive. A recent poll revealed that no fewer than sixty-seven percent of working Americans feel that the computer revolution will raise production levels, improve children's education, and increase the standard of living.
Many computer enthusiasts argue that the computer revolution is actually ushering society into a new heyday for humanism. All you need, they say, is a little imaginative vision to see that one day soon the proliferation of home computers will make commuting to the office a thing of the past. Instead, professionals will more and more do their business at home. And the more time people spend at home, the more inclined they become to increase their friendships with their neighbors and generally behave more sociably. Thus some computer advocates say the computer will make for better neighbors and a stronger sense of community. States author and editor Jean Jacques Servan Schreiber, "It is a source of new life that has been given to us."
But is the "life" and intelligence of a computer really like our own? The humanists say no. "Any intelligence that may be attributed to [the computer] can have only the faintest relation to human understanding and human intelligence," states Joseph Weinbaum, author of Computer Power and Human Reason. "However much intelligence computers attain, now or in the future, theirs must always be an intelligence alien to genuine human problems and concerns."
Indeed, the more human beings rely on artificial intelligence to solve their problems, the more the humanists sense danger. "What is important to realize," states Mumford, "is that automation, in this form [of computers], is an attempt to exercise control, not only of the mechanical process itself, but of the human being who directed it, turning him from an active to a passive agent, and finally eliminating him altogether."
The arguments both for and against computers hinge on a question of values. Computer advocates say the computer contributes to the quality of life in the modern world and is to be valued for that reason. Humanists counter by saying that computers distract us from the thoughts and feelings that human beings should value the most.
Krsna conscious devotees, like the humanists, are cautious to avoid overestimating computer technology's attainments and accomplishments. But our reason for feeling this way differs from what most humanists would say.
The human form of life is indeed a glorious thing, and that glory should not be diminished by computer technology—or anything else. But what is the actual value and purpose of this human form of life? Does it reside in "intuition, autonomy, and purpose," as Lewis Mumford has indicated? Or in our concerns and social sympathies, as many other humanists feel?
Even animals exhibit behavior that shows elementary levels of reason, purpose, and emotion. From schools of fish in the ocean to wolf packs in the woods, from colonies of ants to migrating flocks of birds, many species cooperate closely to achieve community goals. And members of the same species often show signs of affection for each other. (Mothers within the animal kingdom often show a courage in defending their offspring that is unmatched in contemporary Western culture.)
To know the ultimate value and purpose of human life, we must hear from bona fide Vedic literature such as the Bhagavad-gita As It Is and Srimad-Bhagavatam. This literature reveals how all material bodies are but temporary coverings of the eternal soul, a spark of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna. Whereas the material body is temporary and subject to ignorance and suffering, the spirit soul is eternal and full of bliss and knowledge. The human body, however, affords that particular soul living within it the proper intelligence and developed consciousness for comprehending his true identity.
As the Srimad-Bhagavatam explains, "The human form of life is of such importance that even demigods desire to have such life, for in the human form one can attain perfect religious truth and knowledge. If one in this human form of life does not understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His abode, it is to be understood that he is very much affected by the influence of external nature" (Bhag. 3.15.24). Therefore, regardless of how advanced our technology may become, if we have no knowledge of our eternal identity, then our education is incomplete.
Sometimes people question the devotees of Krsna, asking, "If you condemn material life, why do you use modern conveniences such as automobiles and printing presses and computers?" But it is not the machines and technology of the material world per se that we reject. Rather, we reject the use of material things for any purpose other than the service and glorification of Krsna. And whatever is used in this way becomes glorious. Thus the devotees of Krsna neither condemn nor glorify computers and other such modern technological amenities. We do understand that the purpose of human life is to know and love and serve Krsna, the Supreme Person. To devote one's life to this purpose is the ultimate goal and purpose of human life.—SDG