Unless we understand the father,
A conversation with
This conversation with a journalist took place at the Hare Krsna center in London in 1971.
Srila Prabhupada: I have experienced that in my childhood there were not so many problems in India. But now India is faced with so many problems on account of imitating Western civilization.
Reporter: Not simply because of the increased population?
Srila Prabhupada: No, that is foolishness. God can provide food for any number of people. If you dig a hole in your room, millions of ants will come out. So, who is giving them food? There are thousands of elephants in the forest. Who is giving them food? No, it is not a question of increased population.
There are 8,400,000 species of life. Out of those, only 400,000 are human beings. Even among those, civilized persons are very few. And all the problems are in the so-called civilized population.
Reporter: Then what is the reason for so many problems?
Srila Prabhupada: The demoniac civilization is creating the problems, not an increase of population. As far as I have studied—in America, in Africa, in Australia—there is so much vacant land that ten times the present population of the world could live comfortably.
Reporter: And there would be enough food?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. But there is scarcity at the present moment because we have made artificial divisions. Several hundred years ago some people left Europe and occupied America. Now the Americans restrict who can go there. Similarly, in Australia they restrict, and also in New Zealand and Africa. Why?
Our philosophy is that since everything belongs to God and we are all sons of God, everyone has the right to live at the cost of God. This is our philosophy.
Reporter: But the values of Western civilization make living as children of God impossible.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, because one son of God is not letting another son enjoy the father's property equally. Suppose your father has ten sons. So, all ten sons have the right to use the father's property. That is the law. Similarly, all living entities—not only human beings but also birds, animals, fish—have the right to take as much of God's property as they need to live. This is called spiritual communism.
According to the Vedic civilization, a householder has to see that even a lizard in his house is not starving. Even a snake in the house has to be fed. Each householder stands on the street and, before taking his food, loudly calls, "If anyone is hungry, please come. I have plenty of food." Only when there is no response does he take his meal.
Reporter: That's a very difficult doctrine for many people in the modern civilization to follow.
Srila Prabhupada: But that is human civilization. Animal civilization is that as soon as one dog sees another dog coming, the first dog barks, "Yow! Yow! Why have you come? Why have you come?" Similarly, the immigration department barks, "Oh, how long will you stay? What is your business?" In the Vedic civilization, even if an enemy comes to your home, you receive him in such a friendly way that he forgets that he is your enemy.
Reporter: But it must be very difficult to put such principles into practice.
Srila Prabhupada: No. It is difficult only because this is a civilization of demons. Consider what happened in India. India welcomed everyone, but the result was that India was occupied by the English. Lord Clive was welcome, but he intrigued to occupy India, and his statue is honored in London. What is his credit? He made an intrigue, illegally entered India, and established an occupation force. And he is honored. That is Western civilization.
Guest: How can we strengthen brotherhood in the modern world?
Srila Prabhupada: Brotherhood is natural. In a family, a father may have many sons, and they all naturally feel affection for one another. But if one son intrigues how to take the whole of the father's property, then there is enmity. The father's property should be equally distributed, but one cunning son is simply intriguing how to occupy the whole estate for himself. This is what is going on all over the world, and it is demoniac.
Reporter: How can you stop that?
Srila Prabhupada: By Krsna consciousness. As soon as people understand that God, the supreme father, is one, and that we are all His sons, then the whole problem is solved.
Reporter: I can see how if everyone were saintly, there would be no reason for any one person to take more than he needs. But the difficulty is, that's a very optimistic view of human nature.
Srila Prabhupada: It is not optimistic; it is proper civilization.
Reporter: Some people might say—
Srila Prabhupada: "Some people" are demons. Now the youngsters are frustrated, so they are becoming hippies. That is the situation. Everyone wants to enjoy, and as soon as they cannot enjoy, there is some reaction. You see?
Reporter: The hippies are rejecting the modern civilization.
Srila Prabhupada: Rejection, reaction, protest. If the leaders of society would become cool-headed and understand that God is actually the proprietor of everything, there wouldn't be this rejection, reaction, and protest. Everyone is a son of God, so all of God's property must be available to everyone. If the leaders only understand this, then everything will be all right.
It is pot a question of increased population. There is enough food. America has so much food that they throw it away. And they forbid the farmers, "Don't produce more." Why? Produce more and distribute more. That is civilization.
Reporter: I know you define that as civilization, but I was trying to suggest that some societies, some individual personalities, are avaricious seemingly by nature. How do you explain that?
Srila Prabhupada: Lust and greed are a disease. There are three qualities in the material world: sattva-guna, the quality of goodness; rajo-guna, the quality of passion; and tamo-guna, the quality of darkness. At the present moment the qualities of darkness and passion are prevalent. Goodness is gone. And the symptoms of darkness and passion are greed and lust. People are being educated to become greedy and lusty. That's all. Nobody is being educated to become good. So, what is the use of the rascal universities? If you are producing greedy and lusty people, then what is the use of your so-called education? Education means to train people to become gentlemen. That is human education. If you produce lusty and greedy people, it is an animal civilization. The animals are all lusty and greedy.
Reporter: What is your view of why the Western civilization is predominant?
Srila Prabhupada: That predominance is dwindling. Where has your British Empire gone?
Reporter: Yes, quite.
Srila Prabhupada: So, it was artificial. There was the Roman Empire, the Mogul Empire, the British Empire—empires come and go. They stay for one or two hundred years and then disappear.
Reporter: But they don't seem to improve society.
Srila Prabhupada: If you remain demons, there is no question of improvement. There are two classes of men: the godly and the demoniac. If you continue your demoniac civilization, there is no question of happiness. You cannot be happy in a demoniac civilization.
Reporter: What about Christianity? It's been with us now for two thousand years, but it doesn't seem to have helped people become particularly civilized.
Srila Prabhupada: First try to understand what religion is. Then you can talk of different types of religion. Religion means to understand God. So, if Christianity is teaching people to understand God and to become obedient to God, then it is all right. But if it is not teaching that, then it is useless. Simply by rubber-stamping—"I am Christian"—what will you accomplish?
Reporter: Well, nothing.
Srila Prabhupada: The Christian religion is good, provided that followers of Christianity actually follow Lord Jesus Christ's teachings. But they are not following.
Jesus Christ's first order is "Thou shalt not kill," but the Christians are very expert in killing. So, who is a Christian?
If you don't follow your scripture but simply stamp yourself, "I am Christian," "I am Hindu," "I am Muslim," what will be the benefit? Nobody is Christian, nobody is Hindu, nobody is Muslim: everyone is a demon. That is our conclusion.
Reporter: You mean, except those in Krsna consciousness.
Srila Prabhupada: Krsna consciousness is not so easy. You were talking about the Christian religion, but do you know the aim of religion? That we must understand—that the aim of religion is to know God. If you profess some religion—whether Christianity, Hinduism, or Mohammedanism—but you cannot explain what God is, then what is the use of your becoming religious?
Reporter: Probably none. But people seem to like to have a religion.
Srila Prabhupada: But they don't like God. As soon as somebody speaks about surrendering to God, they say he's crazy.
If you are really a Christian, that is all right. But you are not a Christian, because you are violating the orders of Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ sacrificed his life and said that he atoned for your sins. But you are not stopping your sinful life, yet you are still claiming to be Christian. So, the conclusion is that actually there are no Christians, although the Christian religion itself is a very nice religion.
Reporter: Do you think that you can help large numbers of people in this country understand God?
Srila Prabhupada: I can help anyone, provided he takes my help. If you refuse my help, how can I help you?
Reporter: I'm merely suggesting that—
Srila Prabhupada: I am asking people to become God conscious. But if you refuse to become God conscious, how can I help you?
Reporter: But to become God conscious, do you think one has to become a devotee of Krsna?
Srila Prabhupada: You have to become a devotee of God. If you don't accept Krsna as God, then you should present some other idea of God. We are presenting Krsna as God, and we are giving God's name, address, occupation—everything. So, if you refuse to accept Krsna as God, then present your God. Give His address, name, and occupation. Can you give them to me?
Srila Prabhupada: Then accept Krsna as God. Why are you refusing? If you do not know who God is, then take this understanding from me. And if you know God better than I do, then give your understanding to me. But if you do not know, and still you will not accept Krsna, then what is your position? You do not actually want to know God.
Reporter: To know God, do you need to have His name, address, and occupation?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. For example, when you came in, I asked you what your name, address, and occupation were. If I did not know your name, address, and occupation, what would be the use of talking?
Reporter: This is very interesting, because in Western civilization God is defined more as an idea than a person.
Srila Prabhupada: That is nonsense. God is a person like you and me. You can talk with Him. You can see Him. We are talking with Krsna; we are directly taking His instruction and abiding by His order. God is not an idea. He is the Supreme Person.
Reporter: That's a very difficult thing to conceptualize.
Srila Prabhupada: It is not difficult. If you accept the authority of the scriptures and the bona fide spiritual master, there is no difficulty. These boys and girls are accepting, and they have no difficulty. They also come from a Western country. They are happy.
Reporter: Yes. I'm not suggesting that they are not happy or that
Srila Prabhupada: So, you can also become happy, you can also they are not convinced that you're right.know God, provided you accept the words of the scripture and the spiritual master. But if you don't, how can I help?
Reporter: What I'm suggesting is . . . what I'm trying to stress is that for a large number of people—
Srila Prabhupada: When you are presenting the most valuable thing, you cannot expect many people to purchase it. For example, if you are selling diamonds, you cannot expect the whole population of England to purchase them. When there is a question of diamonds, the customer must be rich. Similarly, to be qualified to understand God is also rare. Only the fortunate and pious can understand God. Still, we are giving facilities for everyone to understand God. That is our mission.
Reporter: But there is a certain price that one must pay.
Srila Prabhupada: No price: one must simply be sincere.
Reporter: To sincerely try.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. If you are sincerely eager to know God, there is no difficulty. Tatra laulyam api mulyam ekalam: "The price for knowing God is great eagerness." There is no question of paying money. Our transaction in this Krsna consciousness movement is not a monetary transaction. I do not pay anything to my disciples, nor are they paying me. It is a question of understanding and love.
Reporter: Yes. I'm only suggesting that, as you were saying, people who are kind and gentle would perhaps find it easier to start. There are obviously lots of people who are not so kind and gentle and who would presumably find it more difficult.
Srila Prabhupada: No. They may not be gentle, but we are gentle. We simply request, "Please come to us and learn about God." We can teach a person how to be gentle, provided he follows the process of Krsna consciousness.
Reporter: One last question: Is there a single motto you could give to people who don't know anything about Krsna consciousness, to help them understand it?
Srila Prabhupada: Very simple: "God is the supreme proprietor, God is the supreme enjoyer, and God is the supreme friend."
Reporter: The supreme proprietor—
Srila Prabhupada: God is the supreme enjoyer.
Reporter: The supreme enjoyer—
Srila Prabhupada: And God is the supreme friend. Now, if you think about it, you cannot say that you are the proprietor of this land. The land was here before your birth, and it will remain after your death. So, during your span of life you are simply a caretaker of this land. It actually belongs to somebody else—the supreme proprietor, God. And because He is the supreme proprietor, He is also the supreme enjoyer. And He is the supreme friend because He is giving all the necessities of life to everyone. Nobody can be a better friend than God. So, if one actually understands these three facts—that God is the supreme proprietor, the supreme enjoyer, and the supreme friend—he can very easily understand the science of Krsna consciousness.
Reporter: Thank you very much.
Freud's astute analysis of material suffering
by Mathuresa Dasa
The conditioned soul . . . is always covered by ignorance and embarrassed by the threefold miseries of life. Thus he is a treasure house of all kinds of tribulations.
The radium has once again begun to eat away at something, causing pain and toxic manifestations, and my world is what it was previously, a small island of pain floating on an ocean of indifference.
Miseries and tribulations are things we try to avoid. Nobody treasures them. Nobody cherishes deprivation or hoards disease. Yet miseries sometimes besiege a person in enough quantity and variety to constitute a perverse kind of wealth. Some people are richly constipated, some richly arthritic, some richly hungry or lonely, and some are all of these and more.
For the final sixteen years of his life, from 1923 to 1939, Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, was richly cancerous. In October of 1923, to arrest the spread of a malignant tumor, surgeons cut away large portions of the upper and lower jaw on the right side of Freud's mouth. The prosthesis they inserted so that Freud could eat and talk caused him constant discomfort up to his death. The dozens of additional operations and radiation treatments he underwent over the years to remove and inhibit further growths were also a source of continual torment. Doctors and friends close to Freud during his long illness marveled at his stoicism. Never openly cursing his fate, he treated those around him with kindness and continued to see patients and to write until almost the very end.
Although Freud was a staunch atheist, his philosophic views on suffering closely resemble those of the Vedic literature, the world's oldest and most comprehensive religious texts. In Civilization and Its Discontents, published in 1929, Freud argues that belief in God, in a supreme father, is "patently infantile" and "foreign to reality." Yet his analysis of the design of the universe reveals a nearly perfect understanding of the Supreme Lord's intentions. "One feels inclined to say," Freud writes, "that the intention that man should be 'happy' is not included in the plan of 'Creation.'" Well said. In Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, certifies His material creation as a place of misery, a place devoid of lasting happiness. While denying the supreme father, Freud seems to have somehow understood His mind.
Confirming (unintentionally, of course) an aphorism in the Vedanta-sutra, Freud also states that our purpose in life is, simply enough, to be happy, to follow what he called "the pleasure principle." But we can't be happy. Freud continues, because, "We are threatened with suffering from three directions: from our own body, which is doomed to decay and dissolution and which cannot even do without pain and anxiety as warning signals; from the external world, which may rage against us with overwhelming and merciless forces of destruction: and finally from our relations to other men" (Civ., p. 24).
Again Freud's statements resemble those of Vedic authorities, who elaborate somewhat on two of Freud's categories: mental disturbances and diseases are included in the category of bodily suffering, since the mind is a subtle body, and suffering from our relations with other humans is grouped with suffering that comes from nonhuman creatures, like insects and rodents. But aside from these slight differences, the Vedic literature agrees with Freud that we suffer continuously from either bodily ailments, natural disasters, or the assaults of other living creatures, and that in the face of these three kinds of miseries, fulfillment of our desire for pleasure is more or less impossible.
So not only do miseries sometimes besiege some of us with a wealth of tribulation, in varying degrees they constantly besiege everyone. This is a question not of pessimism but of stark realism. What people call happiness or pleasure consists in fact of nothing more than momentary relief from unpleasant physiological and psychic tensions. Money, good health, and sexual companionship, for example, are enjoyable only because they temporarily repel poverty, sickness. and sexual craving. In our present state of existence, happiness is the flip side of misery, could not exist without misery, and is so closely related to misery that it's hard for us to distinguish between the two. The Vedic literature therefore classifies us as "conditioned souls"—we are conditioned to equate happiness with escape from unhappiness and to look upon our physical bodies, which are in fact "small islands of pain," as oases of pleasure.
* * *
Despite acknowledging the hopelessness of finding happiness anywhere within the creation, Freud nevertheless outlines a number of ways by which we can at least attempt to overcome or elude the threefold miseries. To avoid suffering in human relationships, for example, we might choose to isolate ourselves from society. This won't produce much positive pleasure, but it will afford us some relief. Better than isolation, however, is to join the human community and, with the help of science, try to forcibly overcome misery. Civilized man has indeed managed to eliminate some diseases and foresee some natural disasters. So if we join the ranks of civilized men, there's a chance we can gang up on the sources of our torment.
But scientific progress, Freud points out, also does little to increase human happiness. We may extend our lives by curing a disease, but that only prolongs our suffering from other sources, including other diseases. The wonders of modern transportation enable us to conquer distances, but that "victory" in turn practically forces us to live and work far from our loved ones. In otherwords, the happiness derived from technical achievements seems to carry with it some corresponding distress, or, as a Vedic spokesman would put it, again concurring with Freud, the advantages of material progress never outweigh the disadvantages.
What next? Freud outlines many other alternatives, including the creation and appreciation of works of art, the pursuit of scientific truth, and the use of intoxicants. Yes, intoxicants. Suffering, after all, is only a sensation, and there are many substances we can deposit in our bloodstreams to deaden unpleasant sensations. While acknowledging some drawbacks to this "drown your cares" method, Freud gives it a fairly high mark. Here he gets no support from Vedic followers. Drowned cares always surface again, often accompanied by hangovers and other physical and emotional creatures of the deep. (Freud's own addiction to tobacco, a relatively mild intoxicant, was the direct cause of his suffering. Although doctors repeatedly warned him of the "nicotine etiology" of his cancer, he never gave up smoking cigars.)
Yoga, which according to Freud involves "killing off the instincts," is another somewhat viable alternative, at least in theory. If indulging our instinctual appetites spells but momentary happiness, and the inability to indulge them spells severe pain, then why not do away with our appetites altogether'? On this path we eliminate the sources of misery but sacrifice all opportunities for positive enjoyment as well, again achieving only relief. As the isolationist avoids social suffering by avoiding his fellow man, so the yoga practitioner obviates privation by isolating himself from instinctual desires.
The Vedic literature has much to say about yoga and control of our instincts. But before discussing these topics more fully, let us consider one more path sometimes followed to circumvent misery: the path of adjusting reality. On this path. Freud warns, one becomes a madman and tries to re-create this miserable world, to replace it with a dreamland, a "delusional remolding of reality," where misery is nonexistent and all one's wishes are fulfilled. To a certain extent, each of us tries to "correct" reality in this way, but there are also cases where large numbers of people cooperate to create a common delusion. "The religions of mankind must be classed among the mass delusions of this kind," says Freud, once again attacking belief in a supreme father.
No matter which path we take. Freud concludes, we cannot obtain lasting happiness. We are doomed to suffer the threefold miseries. The best course of action, he suggests, is to invest our energies in each path according to our inclinations, spreading out our "investments" as a businessman would, so that our failures on one or two paths do not leave us bankrupt of all pleasure. In this way we may eke out some little satisfaction here in this world of misery. Religion, says Freud, by restricting our choice of investments and intimidating us to remain on one path. prevents us from savoring even the tiny bits of happiness available amidst the treasure of our tribulations.
* * *
Now, that's pessimism! The Vedic literature certainly says that this world is a miserable place, but rather than leave us in the lurch, it elaborately describes the systems of yoga by which we can transcend this world and enjoy unadulterate transcendental pleasure. Freud was correct to a degree in saying that by controlling our instinctual desires through yog we can remain aloof from the sources o misery, but he didn't go far enough.
According to Bhagavad-gita, the desire laden soul is an eternal, indestructible individual who lives within the fragile physical body. Nursing a penchant for gratifying the bodily senses, the conditioned soul ignorantly identifies with his body and thus experiences the mixed pleasure and pain of sensual life, just as a person eating a mixture of ice cream and sand feels a painful grating on his teeth even as he relishes the ice cream's sweetness.
Understanding as Freud did, the ultimate futility of striving for pleasure on the sensual plane, an intelligent soul may take advantage of the yoga disciplines to detach himself from desires for bodily pleasure. Thus he renounces sandy ice cream—renounces all paths to bodily happiness—and attains relief by eating nothing. As Freud correctly indicated, yoga cannot be practiced alongside paths that recommend enjoyment of the material elements.
But on the path of yoga, renunciation is only half the picture. As the soul is eternal and indestructible, so also are his desires for enjoyment. There is no way to "kill" desire altogether. We are forever sentient and pleasure-seeking, even after giving up bodily attachments. The bodily senses are merely coverings over the eternal, spiritual senses of the soul. Therefore even after detaching ourselves from the body, we have senses and sensual needs.
So what's a yogi to do? In the third chapter of the Gita, Lord Krsna Himself states that the soul cannot be inactive even for a moment. Even if the yogi manages to restrain his senses, his mind will be active, dwelling longingly on all that rejected ice cream. Sure the sand grates on your teeth, but isn't that better than nothing at all?
Little did Freud suspect that the other half of the yoga picture is active service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the supreme father, Lord Krsna. Employing one's senses in Krsna's service is known as bhakti-yoga, the yoga of devotion. Yoga literally means "union," or "yoke," so to complete the process of yoga we must not only detach ourselves from matter but also yoke ourselves to the Supreme through active service. Since Krsna is transcendental to His material creation, and since He possesses an eternal, blissful, spiritual body, attachment to Him and detachment from matter are one and the same thing.
The bhakti-yogi has no affinity for sandy ice cream. He directs his mind toward the all-attractive form of Krsna by hearing about His pastimes, chanting His many names, offering Him prayers, cooking for Him, cleaning His temple—in short, by dedicating his mind, body, and words to Krsna's service. The bhakti-yogi gives only perfunctory attention to the care of his physical body, maintaining his health and strength not for the futile pursuit of material pleasure, but for the performance of spiritual activities—activities that please the senses of the Supreme Person. The pure, transcendental happiness that a bhaktiyogi experiences through serving Krsna erases from his mind any lingering illusion that the so-called pleasures of material life are worth the trouble.
Yoga as it is most commonly known—involving sitting postures and breathing exercises—is called astanga-yoga, and it is true that the astanga-yoga system emphasizes physical inactivity and silent meditation. But meditation on what? Modern, commercial yoga schools may recommend meditation on "the void," on a "white light," on a candle, a flower, or what have you. But in the Vedic source books of yoga—in the Gita as well as in Patanjali's Yoga-sutra—stress is given to the ultimate achievement of uninterrupted meditation on the form of the Supreme Person.
Since the bhakti-yogi can achieve uninterrupted meditation on Krsna's form from the very start, he is beyond the practice of sitting postures and breathing exercises, which are preliminary disciplines designed to withdraw the mind from matter and the senses from material activities. The devotee is already meditating, already free from material desires and activities, whereas the astanga-yogi has yet to rise from the platform of detached inactivity to the platform of devotional attachment to Krsna, which is the perfection of yoga.
* * *
By giving a tentative thumbs up to yoga and an unequivocal thumbs down to religion, Sigmund Freud betrayed his incomplete knowledge of both, since the major religious traditions of mankind are based on the principles of bhakti-yoga. The followers of the world's various faiths go to churches, mosques, or temples, offer prayers to the Supreme, bow down before Him, hear His instructions and activities, and render service to His cause. In each faith, the more devout followers give up their worldly connections to join monastic communities and fully devote themselves to God. Though the world's faithful, both laymen and clergy, may address the Lord by names other than "Krsna," may know of the Lord's personality in varying degrees, and may be unaware of the full meaning of the word yoga, they are nonetheless practicing bhakti-yoga in its most fundamental sense: communion with the Supreme through devotion. Bhakti-yoga is not a sectarian dogma—the property of a particular religious tradition—nor is it a mass delusion. It is the scientific process of pleasing Supreme Personality of Godhead with our service and thus activating the transcendental chemistry of a loving exchange with Him.
Perhaps Freud's failure to recognize the intimate connection between yoga and religion was due in part to the inability of many religionists to show they possess two essential symptoms of the yoga practitioner: knowledge and renunciation. The yogi, according to both Freud and the Vedic literature, renounces material enjoyment because he knows it brings unavoidable material miseries. Above and beyond these preliminary qualifications, the devotional yoga should have transcendental knowledge of the all-blissful Supreme and a strong desire to renounce everything for His satisfaction. "Unless one renounces the desire for sense gratification," Lord Krsna warns in the Gita, "one can never become a yogi." Bhakti-yogi included.
If a religionist is eager for material enjoyment and ignorant of the concomitant material miseries—miseries that even a great atheist like Freud could perceive—then where is the question of yoga practice, what to speak of devotion? Religious leaders who encourage their congregation to petition God for political, economic, or even philanthropic objectives have missed the point. Yes, the almighty supreme father can grant material benedictions, but why ask Him for more sandy ice cream, even if by His grace the sand is minimized to some degree? The Srimad-Bhagavatam, the topmost Vedic literature, states that bhakti-yoga has the power to completely uproot the threefold miseries and instate the devotee in a heart-to-heart relationship with Krsna. Bhakti is not meant for strengthening our old material roots, or for establishing new ones.
In addition to missing the purpose of devotion, religionists often exhibit their disqualifications as bhakti-yogis in more cardinal ways. In both Discontents and The Future of an Illusion, published in 1927, Freud notes religion's failure to inspire obedience to basic religious and moral (and, we can now add, yogic) codes, such as those aimed at curbing man's sexual and aggressive drives. For one thing, Freud asserts, if we take into account the nature man has inherited from his ape ancestors, commandments like "'Love thy neighbor as thyself' are just about impossible to follow, anyway" (Civ., p. 56). Furthermore, Freud says, some religious authorities in effect encourage immorality by teaching that man is by nature weak and unable to control his instinctual drives, while God is by nature strong and merciful. If we repent our transgressions of God's laws, He will bless us with His mercy. Some say that transgressing and repenting is in fact the best way to get His blessings. "In every age," Freud concludes, "immorality has found no less support in religion than morality has" (Future, p. 38).
Freud was specifically referring to some European Christian traditions, but the debased transgress-repent mentality also manifests in traditions outside Christianity—wherever the principles of devotion and yoga are poorly understood. It is true that Krsna is merciful and forgiving toward His devotees, whatever their professed faith. And it is also true that man is weak and more or less helpless in the face of, material, instinctual desire. But the genuine bhakti-yogi, even the neophyte, is no longer faced with material desires or captivated by material pleasures. He has experienced God's mercy in the form of the superior pleasure of devotional service, and he for the most part faces only his own growing enthusiasm for serving God. Past bad habits may lead the bhakti-yogi to accidentally transgress moral or religious guidelines, but material instincts can never drive him to incorporate transgression into his doctrine of faith.
Would these vindications of religion's apparent shortcomings have placated Sigmund Freud? Would he have acknowledged that religion and yoga renunciation go hand in hand, and that religious devotion is therefore at least as valid as inactive yoga for escaping the threefold miseries?
Maybe not. In Discontents Freud, with typical caustic wit, scoffs at those who try, using "pitiful rear-guard actions," to defend religion. Perhaps Freud would have mistaken scientific Vedic explanations for such rear-guard actions—for shallow attempts to perpetuate mass delusion.
On the one hand, there's no need to give much attention to Freud's allegations. The atheist can always dig up new ways to muddy the waters of faith and knowledge. In general the better part of valor is to avoid such mudslingers and calmly proceed with devotional service in the company of fellow believers. Freud's allegations merit reply only because of the widespread longterm effects of his slinging.
On the other hand, we can profit by giving our attention both to Freud's keen insights into the inherent misery of material life and to his partial understanding of the value of yoga. Canakya Pandita, a Vedic sage, advised that an intelligent man should not hesitate to pick up gold from a filthy place or to take good advice from someone who is otherwise a fool. Freud's golden insights into misery can serve to inspire the devotional yogi with the determination to pull up his material roots by wholeheartedly serving the transcendental Personality of Godhead.
That wasn't Freud's intention, of course. He said there was no escape from the threefold miseries. For his own part, that meant he was convinced there was no escape from his aging, cancer-ridden body—from his treasure house of tribulation. But what did that conviction get him? Hardly anything: he spent his very last days quiet, wistful, and withdrawn—"a small island of pain floating on an ocean of indifference."
How can we find happiness that is not purchased with our pain?
by His Divine Grace Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada
Have you ever wished upon a shooting star or thrown a penny in a magic fountain? In the spiritual world there are trees called "desire trees," which can fulfill any desire. If you could have just one wish granted, what would it be? To be a Rockefeller? An Einstein? Miss America? The President? Wealth, fame, beauty, knowledge, and power are indeed very desirable under certain circumstances, but they are not ends in themselves. There is, however, one thing that we all want-to be happy. Every living being—from Lord Brahma, the creator of this material world, down to the insignificant ant—seeks his own pleasure.
But what is pleasure? One man's food is another man's poison, so the saying goes. Some people appear to have everything, yet they are miserable. We can all think of many cases of famous people, the Marilyn Monroes and Elvis Presleys, who have met tragic ends despite the best that this world has to offer. And on the other hand, there are the great souls who have found peace and happiness even in great distress and tribulation. This is explained by Lord Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita: "One who is taking pleasure in the self, who is illumined in the self, who rejoices in and is satisfied with the self only, fully satisfied—for him nothing more remains to be gained." Life's ultimate goal, therefore, is to know the self, and that is called self-realization.
As long as we identify with the temporary material body, we are forced to suffer or enjoy the various conditions of material life, including birth, old age, disease, and death. There is, of course, a certain amount of sense pleasure mixed in. Otherwise, how could we tolerate these miseries? No one asks to be born, we don't like to grow old, we try our best to avoid disease, and everyone fears death, or at least tries to ignore it. We overlook these things under the impression that we are enjoying. In fact, it is this desire for enjoyment that drives us on through the hard struggle for existence.
You want pleasure, I want pleasure, even Krsna seeks pleasure. Actually, it is because that tendency is in Him that it is also in us. The qualities of the father are found in the son. The only difference between the Lord and ourselves is that He is self-fulfilling—whatever He desires is; whereas we can only desire, but we cannot fulfill our desire. "Man proposes, God disposes." Lord Krsna, being perfect, desires perfectly; but because we are presently imperfect, we are also desiring imperfectly.
The whole world is mad after more and more sense gratification, with no understanding that the spirit soul can never be satisfied in this way. Suppose a fish is out of water. He will certainly feel discomfort; but he cannot be made comfortable by any kind of adjustment on the land—even if you give him a king's palace. But just put him back in the water and there he will find pleasure.
Trying to become happy by material arrangement is simply useless for the soul. Modern civilization, despite its so-called economic advancement and glorious technology, is more frustrated than ever before. We are working very hard for an illusion, this material body. This was realized thousands of years ago by the great sages and saints of India. The great saintly king Lord Rsabhadeva wanted to impress upon his sons the importance of human life, and therefore He advised them as follows: "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 dogs and 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." This blissful, eternal life is called Krsna, or God, consciousness and is life's ultimate goal.
ISKCON (the International Society for Krishna Consciousness) is twenty years old. On the evening of July 11, 1966, at a storefront on Second Avenue in New York City (then the one and only ISKCON center), Srila Prabhupada requested a handful of his friends and followers to become trustees of his fledgling religious movement. Happy to help Srila Prabhupada, who was then known as "Swamiji" several of the young men and women who had been regularly attending Prabhupada's evening Bhagavad-gita lectures stepped forward, leafed through the incorporation document, and signed their names.
The signers understood that Swamiji was forming a society, a society to "systematically propagate spiritual knowledge" and to "teach . . . congregational chanting of the holy name of God." But an international society? What was international about a Second Avenue storefront? And who even knew of ISKCON and Swamiji beyond New York's Lower East Side?
Srila Prabhupada, however, envisioned a worldwide organization with centers in every country, in every city, town, and village. He had tried to start such an organization in India ten years earlier, but his countrymen had shown little interest. Now he was incorporating ISKCON in New York, and his plans remained the same: to spread Krsna consciousness to every country, including India—this time with the support of newly-made Western devotees of Krsna.
In the ISKCON articles of incorporation Srila Prabhupada stated seven purposes for his society. And over the past twenty years (at first with Prabhupada directly at the helm, and now with his disciples and granddisciples following the directions he left), his desires have been increasingly fulfilled, as the accompanying photos illustrate. Even today Srila Prabhupada's purposes for ISKCON are a tall order: "to develop the idea within humanity at large that each soul is part and parcel of the quality of Godhead (Krishna)."
In other words, there is still sometimes a sense of wonder at the scope of Srila Prabhupada's vision for ISKCON. It is as if we were all still living in a Second Avenue storefront able only to imagine Srila Prabhupada's vision of a worldwide, world-changing spiritual movement. Perhaps these photographs will serve to remind us just how far ISKCON has come in twenty years, thus making the rest of the journey a little more conceivable.
On Becoming Total
Devotees of Krsna add the spiritual ingredient to integrate the parts of the "total person."
by Visakha-devi dasi
In America during the 1950s, white flour and sugar were considered "good foods," pesticides and chemical additives were considered scientific improvements, and "good health" meant not being sick. The family food budget tallied to a reasonable amount, and Mom had a fourcourse meal hot on the table by 6:00.
The 1960s found Americans looking askance at traditional medicine, pesticides, and processed, chemically preserved foods, and looking for ways to avoid disease and to be their own doctors. The granola generation was born and, along with it, aerobic exercises.
As health-care costs escalated tremendously in the 70s, interest in diet and exercise escalated with it. And with positive results. Between 1972 and 1982, cardiovascular disease mortality in Americans declined twenty-eight percent. Life expectancy increased from 71.2 years to 74.6. Americans were becoming more fit.
The mood of the 80s continues along the same track, as portrayed in this introduction to the Better Homes New Cookbook (1984): "Proper nutrition, a balanced diet, and good health are concerns all of us share. . . . Since busy schedules have become a way of life, we placed an emphasis on ease of cooking. . . . Because food costs are on the rise, most of our recipes are prepared 'from scratch' to help you stretch your food dollar. . . . "
Many believe that the next development—after becoming healthy and saving time and money—will be to cultivate wholeness, to become a "Total Person," a spiritual being with fully developed social, emotional, occupational, intellectual, and physical awareness.
A special twelve-page advertising section in the center of a recent Time magazine described the likable, well-adjusted "Tom the Total Person." This theoretical idol, Tom, "knows and lives by the principles of a healthy physical life." He eats a variety of foods (both vegetarian and nonvegetarian), avoids too much saturated fat, cholesterol, and sugar, and eats foods with adequate starch and fiber.
Among these various ideas, diets, and modes of living, one factor is consistently absent: God's role in one's quest for happiness. Although in the quest the public is carried by the winds of updated scientific research and theories, Krsna's devotees are not. Krsna's devotees remain on Krsna's route to happiness, unaffected by the speculative routes of others.
In a time beyond memory, Lord Krsna offered humankind a healthy diet with a practical means to grow spiritually. Krsna's diet and culture, as valid and perfect today as it always was, enable us to spiritualize our lives and to become transcendentally happy. A devotee recognizes that Krsna is I ultimately the proprietor and enjoyer of everything. As Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita, He is the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities. In accordance with Krsna's desire, the ingredients for a devotee's cooking are always vegetarian and pure ("Offer Me with love and devotion a leaf, a fruit, a flower." Bg. 9.26). So automatically devotees have a lower food bill than meat-eaters and are blessed with a , healthy, low-cholesterol, low-calorie, all- natural diet.
Although a devotee has an arsenal of time-saving recipes, he doesn't consider cooking a meal something to get out of the way. He sees it as an act of love and devotion: he is cooking for Krsna's pleasure. Above all, the devotee knows that his purpose is to transcend this mundane world and enter Krsna's infinitely higher spiritual world. Krsna Himself asserts that the devotee will achieve that sublime end by practicing Krsna consciousness: "With your activities dedicated to Me and your' mind and intelligence fixed on Me, you; will attain Me without doubt" (Bg. 8.7)., The devotee is aware that for one who serves Krsna, the supreme Total Person,; by hearing about Him, remembering Him, and cooking for Him, the path to becoming total opens wide.
(Recipes from The Hare Krishna Book of Vegetarian Cooking, by Adiraja dasa)
Deep-fried Vegetable Balls in Tomato Sauce
Preparation and cooking time: 45 minutes
15 medium-size tomatoes
1. Place the tomatoes into a pot of rapidly boiling water for 15 to 20 seconds. Drain them, rinse them under cold water, and then peel and mash them.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee in a saucepan over a medium flame and fry 1 teaspoon of grated ginger; add the dried chilies. Follow with ground cumin and ½ teaspoon of the turmeric. Stir-fry for a few seconds.
3. Now put the tomatoes into the pan, add half the salt, cover and lower the flame. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
4. While the sauce simmers, peel the potatoes; then trim the cauliflower and break it into large flowerets. Wash both vegetables thoroughly; then grate them through the large holes of a metal grater. In a mixing bowl combine the grated vegetables, the chickpea flour, 2 tablespoons of the chopped coriander leaves, and all the remaining spices. Mix thoroughly. The grated potatoes should give enough moisture to bind the ingredients together. Knead the mixture fort minutes; then form it into 20 to 30 small balls.
5. Heat the ghee until it almost smokes, and drop in the vegetable balls. Deep-fry them for 4 to 5 minutes, until they are uniformly golden-brown and crisp. Then drain.
If you use yogurt, stir it into the tomato sauce and allow the sauce to heat for 2 minutes. Put the kofta balls in a serving bowl and cover them with the hot sauce. Garnish with the remaining chopped fresh coriander or parsley leaves, and offer to Krsna.
Deep-fried Spinach-and-Cheese Balls
Preparation and cooking time: 40 minutes
1 pound fresh spinach
1. Wash the spinach thoroughly, remove the large stalks, and then wilt the leaves by plunging them into boiling water for a few minutes. Let them drain well, and then press out any remaining water. Chop the leaves into small pieces on a cutting board.
2. Use a medium-size saucepan to heat the ghee and fry the ginger and the chilies, followed by the ground spices. Add the chopped panir and stir-fry for 1 minute. Then add the spinach. Toss in the salt and mix the ingredients well with a spoon. Transfer the mixture onto a smooth working surface, add the chickpea flour, and knead well.
3. Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls and deep-fry them in ghee until lightly browned; then drain. Offer to Krsna.
Stuffed Cabbage Leaves
Preparation and cooking time: 1 ½ hours
4 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
1. In a small saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of ghee and stir-fry the cinnamon, cloves, ground cumin, and asafetida for 30 to 40 seconds. Put in the pureed tomatoes and cook gently for 30 minutes to obtain a smooth sauce. Then fold in the raisins and add the lemon juice and 2 teaspoons of salt. Discard the whole spices and remove the saucepan from the flame.
2. Put the chickpea flour into a bowl with a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Mix with just enough water to make a thick batter. Cover the bowl with a cloth and set aside.
3. Cutoff the hard stem of the cabbage and place the cabbage into boiling water with 1 teaspoon of salt. After at least 5 minutes, carefully remove the cabbage and rinse it under cold water. Cut it at the base and peel off 6 to 8 leaves without breaking them. Use a small paring knife to pare down the thick section that runs down the middle of each leaf (without cutting through the leaf). Pat the leaves dry and set them aside.
4. Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee in a small saucepan and brown the crushed nuts, grated ginger, and chilies. Drop in the panir with the coriander leaves, paprika, and remaining salt. Cook over a medium flame, stirring constantly until all the ingredients are well mixed. Now spread out the cabbage leaves and place a tablespoon of the filling in the center of each one. Fold over the edges of each leaf and roll it into a tight roll.
5. Dip the rolls into the thick batter and deep-fry them for 4 to 5 minutes in hot ghee until golden brown. Put the stuffed cabbage rolls on a serving plate and cover them with the preheated tomato sauce. Offer to Krsna.
Preparation and cooking time: 1 hour
7 ounces white rice
1. Steam the rice in twice its volume of water for about 18 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed. Drain and set aside. Boil the potatoes until they are tender; then peel them. Mix ½ teaspoon of salt into the panir and knead it into a soft dough. Cover the panir with a moist cloth and set aside. Combine the chickpea flour and black cumin seeds in a bowl. Mix with enough water to make a smooth batter. Let stand.
2. Steep the saffron in the warm milk; then mix it well with the cooked rice. Wilt the spinach by plunging it into boiling water for a minute; let it drain. Mix the spinach with the black pepper and ¼ teaspoon of salt and set it aside. To the potatoes add the garam masala, turmeric, 1 teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of asafetida. Mash into a smooth paste.
3. Divide the rice, the panir, the spinach, and the potato mixture into six parts each. Take one part of the rice in your hands and roll it into a compact ball. Flatten one part of the panir dough into a round shape in the palm of your hand and put the ball of rice in the center of it. Bring up the edges to completely cover the ball; then roll it between your palms to make it smooth. Cover the ball with a layer or two of unraveled spinach leaves and a layer of the potato mixture. Make the ball compact and smooth by tossing it gently from one hand to the other.
4. When several balls are ready, beat the batter and pour some over each one. Then put them in smoking hot ghee. Turn often to keep from burning. Fry until browned all over. Remove and offer to Krsna.
Big Animals, Small Animals
This is a continuation of a conversation between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and a guest, Dr. Christian Hauser, a psychiatrist, that took place in Stockholm in September 1975.
Dr. Hauser: Yes, I can see what you mean about Darwin.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Such a rascal. A mudha, big ass. He did not know anything about the difference between dead matter and living spirit-he could not distinguish between the bodily covering and the soul within. Nor can the big modern asses that follow him. No perfect knowledge. Simply pretense. Cheating.
Certainly the soul—the soul—can go from one species of body to another, say from a monkey body to a human body, or vice versa. This understanding is nice. Not that the monkey body can change into a human body. That "understanding" is nonsense. Cheating.
Dr. Hauser: But some of this cheating, as you call it, must still have been of great use to mankind, because for all these centuries, not much has been known at all. So these scientists have been working according to whatever level of knowledge they have reached, and—
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that is explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam: In the jungle, the small animals look up to a bigger animal as their leader. But he's still an animal. is he not?
Dr. Hauser: I don't really understand.
Srila Prabhupada: In the jungle or in the forest . . .
Dr. Hauser: Yes.
Srila Prabhupada: . . . a lion, for instance, is considered to be the king of the animals. So the lion may be a big animal. But after all, he's still an animal.
Dr. Hauser: So you mean the modern scientist is a big lion.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. A big rascal. That's it, A big rascal. A big rascal is lionized by small rascals. That's all.
Dr. Hauser: A big rascal seducing the small rascals.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that is the situation. Today everything is going on like that. Not only in science, but also in philosophy, religion, sociology, and politics. The big rascal and the small rascals. That's all.
Dr. Hauser: But you must evoke a lot of feelings when you say, for example, that Einstein was a very big rascal.
Srila Prabhupada: No. Einstein believed in God. Yes, he believed in God. So he was not a rascal. He was a sane man. He believed in God. He tried to find out about the brain of God, the unlimited intelligence of God. Many scientists believe in God, but unfortunately, the rascals have captured a prominent position.
The people who are defying God—they're rascals, animals. Harav abhaktasya kuta mahad gunah. Unless one is God conscious, he's a rascal.
Maybe one's understanding of God is not perfect. But if he thinks God exists, that is intelligence. But the rascals, the two-legged animals, will never accept God or their own soul. Just as in Russia. A set of rascals. They do not believe in God.
Dr. Hauser: But the religious interest in Russia is there, is greater than in any other country in Europe. But not the leaders. The leaders are n—
Srila Prabhupada: I speak of the leaders. Not only in Russia—everywhere. The leaders are big animals, and they are happy only if they can make the ordinary people into small animals. The leaders—the rascal leaders are spoiling the whole world situation. In India, also. In India, by nature eighty percent of the people are aloof from the four main sinful activities. But at the present moment the government, the leaders, are inducing the people to eat flesh, to take intoxicants, to gamble, and to have illicit sex.
Oh, yes—because nowadays government means rascal. Take this Nixon. Once in power, he proved himself a rascal. And virtually all the government leaders—government leader has come to mean rascal.
Dr. Hauser: Although Nixon says, in every television speech, that he is a believer of God.
Srila Prabhupada: That is simply politics.
Dr. Hauser: Yes.
Srila Prabhupada: He may be a God believer, but he has little use for God in his practical life. If a man doesn't use his practical life to awaken his dormant God consciousness, or Krsna consciousness, then he has simply wasted time.
Dr. Hauser: But in this country, for instance, if somebody's a Protestant, or, I mean, a Christian who goes to church, this is also of value, is it not? You don't try to convert them away from that?
Srila Prabhupada: No, no. We have no such process.
Dr. Hauser: Because your movement is extremely distinctive.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. But we don't try to convert anyone. For instance, a gentleman was asking, "Why are these young ladies dressing in Indian saris?" Now, I never instructed them, "You do that." But they are doing it of their own accord. I never canvassed people to become Hindus or some such thing. No. Our request is, "Just become God conscious." Any outward form of religion is all right. It doesn't matter—provided the follower awakens his dormant God consciousness. Then that is first-class religion.
But suppose somebody is not awakened to the standard of God consciousness. Then he may follow some form of religion, but it is a waste of time. That is our only concern. We don't want official religiosity. In Sanskrit that is called dharma-dhvaji. Dhvaja means "flag." So, usually a man simply wants to have a flag: "I belong to this religion." That's all.
But if I ask him, "What do you actually know about religion?" he cannot explain. 'What is the nature of God?" He cannot explain. "Who are you—beyond your body?" He cannot explain.
Simply he has a flag: "I am Hindu." "I am Muslim." " I am Christian." And he will fight those who have some other kind of flag. He may be thinking, " I am a big man, a great soul." But in truth he is a small animal.
(To be continued.)
A look at the worldwide activities of the
Lord Nrsimhadeva Deity Installed in New Vrindaban
New Vrindaban, West Virginia—At a recent festival here, devotees installed the Deity of Lord Nrsimhadeva and His eternal associate, Prahlada Maharaja. The seven-foot black Deity of Lord Krsna's half-man, half-lion incarnation is the first full-size Deity of Nrsimhadeva installed in the U.S. At the Hare Krsna farm in the Bavarian Forest, West Germany, devotees worship the Society's only other full-size Nrsimhadeva Deity.
The Srimad-Bhagavatam and other Vedic literatures elaborately describe the activities of Lord Nrsimhadeva. When the demoniac Hiranyakasipu continually harassed his five-year-old son, Prahlada, a pure devotee of the Lord, Nrsimhadeva burst from a stone pillar and effortlessly killed the powerful demon. Lord Nrsimhadeva represents death personified for the demons, but the devotees worship Him with love and devotion as their dearmost protector.
Soma dasa, whose many' sculptures adorn the New Vrindaban community, carved the Nrsimha Deity. Working under the guidance of Srila Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada. New Vrindaban's spiritual leader. Soma dasa—consulting regularly with Sampat Kumar Bhattacarya, head of the famous Vyenkatesvara temple in Tirupati, India—completed the Deity in only three months. The Deity is modeled according to descriptions of Nrsimhadeva given in the Vedic literature.
The installation ceremony lasted three days. with devotees from throughout the U.S. and Canada participating. Australian-born Gaura-kesava dasa, a brahmana priest fully trained in South India, performed the installation.
Pope Receives Gita in India
Ernakulam, Kerala, India—During a recent visit to Kerala, India's southern-most state, His Holiness Pope John Paul II received a copy of Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is. Sarvaisvarya dasa, president of the Trivandrum ISKCON temple, presented the Gita to the Pope at a reception attended by many important religious leaders. On receiving the Gita, His Holiness beamed with delight as he read aloud the title. Pleased to see the young, devotees of the Hare Krsna movement among the elder representatives of various religious institutions, the Pope remarked, "These people are young and calm."
The devotees explained the movement's local and worldwide activities, and the Pope expressed his appreciation.
Addressing a large gathering later on his tour, the Pope mentioned that he had received a copy of Bhagavad-gita from the devotees. His expression of appreciation for the Gita received much press coverage in southern India and thus helped to increase mutual respect among local Christians and Hindus.
ISKCON Expands Leadership
Mayapur, West Bengal—At the annual meetings of ISKCON's Governing Body Commission (GBC), held here during Lord Caitanya's Quincentennial celebrations, twenty disciples of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada were blessed to accept disciples on behalf of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Before his passing away in 1977, Srila Prabhupada entrusted the responsibility for governing the Hare Krsna movement to the GBC comprising two dozen of his senior disciples. The GBC oversees all aspects of the movement's activities in spreading Krsna consciousness around the world, including overseeing the responsibility of initiating new members into the Society. The devotees who have been authorized to make disciples have faithfully served Srila Prabhupada for many years in different parts of the world. The introduction of the new gurus into the Society this year is an indication that the movement Srila Prabhupada began twenty years ago is a vital force in the world today and it is continuing to grow according to his desire.
by Dvarakadhisa Devi Dasi
Don't know if the results have reached St. Peter at his heavenly post yet, but People magazine has conducted a poll to find out what their readers consider a sin. Respondents rated a number of sins according to how guilty each made them feel, and People then compiled a list ranking the most sinful (murder) to the least sinful (taping off TV and radio). And the results indicate that Americans have a most peculiar conception of sin.
The persons participating in this poll felt more guilty about misrepresenting what they're selling, for example, than they did about having an abortion. Laziness bothered them more than premarital sex. Cutting into lines ranked more sinful than either mercy killing or unwed parenthood. Reading or viewing pornography was more acceptable than overeating.
We may be amused by the novelty of such a poll (conducted at a time when people consider "sin" as outdated as petticoats), but we may also detect sobering evidence of America's ignorance of the basic laws of God. Even if everyone agrees that drinking alcohol is less sinful than neglecting the right to vote, how significant is our opinion? It's like going to the state penitentiary and polling the inmates to discern what constitutes a crime. You would probably get some interesting answers, but they would have no effect on the laws of the state. The courts would continue to sentence lawbreakers, regardless of the approval or disapproval of the criminal sector. Similarly, what does it matter what you or I think is sinful? The important consideration is what God thinks.
Logically, we should turn to the scriptures to understand what God considers sin. Nowadays, however, even the teachings of the Bible are twisted to conform to the permissiveness of the times. In another section of the poll, People's readers ranked the Ten Commandments (remember those?) according to degree of difficulty. They found that the hardest commandment to keep is "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain." Apparently, even on the request of the Lord it is exceedingly difficult to honor His holy name. Most people don't even conceive of God as having a name—they simply say "God," and even that is abused. The next most difficult commandment was observing Sabbath, followed by keeping one's eyes off one's neighbor's wife. It's not that people don't know that these things are wrong, but they feel it's too difficult for them to comply.
At the other end of the list were commandments that were the "easiest" to follow. Interestingly, the same group who rated "industrial spying" as more sinful than "atheism" cited "Thou shalt have no other Gods before Me" as the second easiest commandment to obey. Routinely, people worship material opulence with more reverence than they worship the Supreme Lord, finding it difficult to set aside one day a week, as they indicated in the poll, to observe the Sabbath. Do Americans honestly find having "no other Gods" an easy commandment to obey?
The commandment that received the honor of being the simplest to follow is "Thou shalt not kill." And on the surface that seems reasonable enough. Nearly everyone seems to abhor killing. Yet every week in America, millions of animals are slaughtered and their flesh roasted, garnished, and consumed by millions of Americans who feel that to kill is wrong. The profundity of God's instructions has been lost in superficial interpretations. God, however, sees all creatures as His own, and He is adamant that they all be protected.
Bewildered by the glitter of sensual attractions, cheated by ignorant political and religious leaders, and unable to perceive the higher purpose of life, today's blithe sinners have no understanding of the implications of their sins. The unpleasant results of sinful life come, however, regardless of one's opinions, just as fire burns a small child despite his ignorance of the danger. We are happier when we obey the laws of the Lord, peacefully submitting to His desires and relying on His protection. Lord Krsna promises that He cares for those souls surrendered to Him. The devotee's life is much more pleasant than a life of rebellious disregard for God's will; it is fueled by loving reciprocation with the Lord, who can bestow far greater happiness than we can even imagine.
by Kundali dasa
I had occasion recently to visit the home of a friend who is taking to Krsna consciousness. He wanted me to meet his mother and sister. My friend's sister was very favorably disposed toward his becoming Krsna conscious, but his mother was skeptical. She wanted me to know that she, being a Christian, could not encourage her son's commitment to Krsna consciousness.
When I explained to her that Krsna consciousness is like Christ consciousness because both Christ and Krsna taught devotion, service, and surrender to God above all other considerations, she agreed. She admitted seeing no contradiction between Christ's instruction "I am the son of God the Father; worship my Father" and Krsna's instruction "I am the Father, worship Me."
We talked for a while about the universality of Krsna consciousness. She voiced various doubts, and I responded to them with reason and scriptural evidence. More and more she was agreeing with the Krsna conscious outlook and was becoming pleased with the discussion. At one point she turned to her son and said, "He is someone I can really talk to," implying that their discussions had not gone as nicely as the one we were having.
After about an hour, she brought out her deepest doubt about Krsna consciousness. "One thing I can't accept," she said pointedly, "is your rule against meat-eating. I don't see what's so bad about eating meat. The Bible permits it. I don't eat a lot of meat myself, but I do believe we need to eat a little meat for health."
"Even if the Bible permits meat-eating," I said, "your scripture by no means considers it the ideal standard. The ideal is given in the Ten Commandments: 'Thou shalt not kill.' A faithful follower of Jesus Christ should try to abide by this. After all, Jesus did say, 'If you love me, then follow my commandments."'
"They say it means murder," she said.
"In Krsna consciousness, we are not whimsical about the scriptural statements. If God said 'kill' we take it that He meant 'kill,' not 'murder.'"
"What does Krsna say in your book?"
"In Bhagavad-gita, Krsna says, 'All living entities subsist on food grains.' He doesn't mention any meat or flesh foods, because even the flesh-eating animals must rely on grains that sustain their prey. Krsna further instructs us, 'All that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, should be done as an offering unto Me.' Since we are to eat only what's been offered to Krsna, and since He will not accept any offerings of flesh, we never touch meat, which is actually decaying, toxin-loaded carcasses."
"I don't know," she sighed. "It's hard for me to believe that for all these years they've been saying we need meat for nutrition and it's not true."
"Not only do we not need it," I said, "but meat is positively bad for your health. Colon cancer, the second most prevalent type of cancer, is fostered by the high fat and low fiber of the meat-eater's diet. And don't forget heart disease. Here, too, meat in the diet is a major culprit.
"With what we know about diet and so forth today, even if a person has no spiritual inclination whatsoever, meat-eating is still not justifiable; it's bad for our physical as well as our spiritual well-being."
"If meat is so bad for us, why do they allow it?"
"Because 'they' are the same materialistic people who tell us that the real men drink alcohol and that you've come a long way if you smoke cigarettes. People fall for it. Why should 'they' make an exception of meat? The point is that regardless of what 'they' may do, you have to decide: Are you determined to live at the cost of another's life? Personally, I don't find that a hard decision to make. Could you imagine Jesus, whom you consider the personification of compassion and mercy, at the corner grocery store trying to decide if he wants beef or veal for the weekend?"
"Well, there's your answer."
We talked for a while longer, and I had to leave. My friend's mother thanked me for the nice discussion, but as I went out the front door, her parting words to me were, "I still have doubts about the meat, though."
On the drive home my friend wanted to know more about the effect of meat eating on spiritual life. "It's very difficult for a person who eats meat to make spiritual advancement," I told him. "Srila Prabhupada used to say that meat-eating is a sign of envy. One lives at the cost of another's well-being, takes another's life unnecessarily. That is envy, when we covet what another has."
"Isn't envy the very reason we fell from the spiritual world in the first place?"
"Yes. And meat-eating is a symptom that our envy is still there. On one level, a meat-eater simply wants to gratify his palate. On a deeper level, a meat-eater fancies that his power of life increases with the more life he consumes, that it makes him a more heroic man. Such a person has a difficult time making spiritual advancement. The Srimad-Bhagavatam says that such a hard-hearted killer of animals cannot appreciate Krsna consciousness."
We drove along in silence. Later that day, another friend came by to see me and brought a copy of The Journal of Health and Healing. He wanted me to see an article he had just read on the chemistry and electronics of the human brain.
The article explained how scientists at Loma Linda University discovered that guanine, found in pork, and xanthine, found in all flesh foods, can significantly impair the electronic functions of the brain because they depress the cortex, the upper brain. At the same time, meat increases the level of steroid hormones in the blood, thus chemically stimulating the hypothalamus, the lower brain. This upsets the delicate balance between these two sections of the brain. The result of this imbalance is an inefficient brain:
... mediocrity in discrimination, in problem definition, in poise, in judgement, in penetration, in intelligence....
The article also mentioned that whole grains increase the ability of the cells to produce acetylcholine, a chemical transmitter that opens up the brain cells so that electronic waves can go through, thus facilitating the brain's work.
As I read this information, I remembered quoting Krsna's words that morning, "All living entities subsist on food grains." I also recalled that the Vedas state that by eating pure foodstuffs, our existence becomes purified; by purification of our existence, finer tissues in our memory become purified; when memory is purified, we can understand the meaning of the scriptures and make progress on the path of liberation.
Celebrations on the day of the Lord's appearance anniversary present an encouraging promise of things to come.
by Dvarakadhisa-Devi Dasi
"May that Lord who is known as the son of Srimati Sacidevi be transcendentally situated in the innermost chambers of your heart. Resplendent with the radiance of molten gold, He has appeared in the age of Kali by His causeless mercy to bestow what no incarnation ever offered before: the most sublime and radiant spiritual knowledge of the mellow taste of His service. "—Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila Chapter 1, Verse 4
How wonderful it is that the Supreme Lord, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, would personally come to this planet! Although His form is transcendental and divine, He appeared as the son of Jagannatha Misra and his wife, Saci. He was the perfect devotee of Krsna, and thus He taught the world how God is to be worshiped. Foreseeing that the people of this age would tend toward materialistic pursuits, with little inclination for austerities and renunciation, Lord Caitanya introduced sankirtana, an easy and joyous process of God realization.
Sankirtana is the congregational chanting of the Lord's names: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Although this maha-mantra can be chanted by oneself at any time with profound spiritual results, there is a special ecstasy in the gathering of many devotees chanting and dancing in glorification of the Lord. Lord Caitanya wanted everyone to experience the happiness of God consciousness by chanting Hare Krsna.
This year marks the five-hundredth anniversary (Quincentennial) of Lord Caitanya's appearance. Last March, devotees from every continent gathered together at the ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) center in Mayapur, India, the birthplace of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, to share in the celebration. And how did they celebrate? See that for yourself. Chanting, dancing, hearing about the Lord's pastimes, and preaching were among the prominent activities.
On September 2, 1984, a group of devotees left the holy city of Dvaraka, on the northwest coast of India, to embark on a walking tour, pada-yatra. More than a unique way of sightseeing, pada yatra is a spiritual pilgrimage. The devotees who participated in this, the longest pada-yatra in history, visited many of the temples, towns, and villages that Lord Caitanya Himself visited. Led by His Holiness Lokanatha Swami, the devotees traveled down the west coast of India, across the southern tip to the Bay of Bengal, and up the east coast to Puri (where Lord Caitanya spent eighteen years), and finally inland ninety miles up the Ganges to Mayapur, where Lord Caitanya appeared and enacted His early pastimes. The pada-yatra party, having touched the hearts of millions of people, entered Mayapur just in time for the five-hundredth anniversary celebration. Now, after the Mayapur festival, the pada-yatra's off again, this time for that most sacred place, Vrndavana.
When Lord Caitanya would lead His sankirtana parties, chanting Hare Krsna and dancing with great pleasure, the crowds that met them would be attracted by the ecstasy and would also begin to chant. Thousands of people would become devotees simply by the sankirtana party. Yet there was criticism among certain intellectuals of the time that Lord Caitanya's movement was for less intelligent, sentimental people who could not appreciate philosophy. Thus Lord Caitanya would sometimes meet with these scholars and challenge them in philosophical debate. Since the Lord is the possessor of all knowledge, He easily defeated the greatest impersonalistic philosophers. That absolute knowledge from Lord Caitanya, passed down over the centuries in unbroken disciplic succession, continues to astound and convince intelligent persons all over the world.
The World Congress for the Synthesis of Science and Religion, which met in Bombay in January of this year, was a unique way of emphasizing the spiritual science taught by Lord Caitanya. Organized by His Divine Grace Bhaktisvarupa Damodara Swami, head of the Bhaktivedanta Institute, the conference lasted four days and featured presentations by leading scientists, theologians, and historians. Thoughtful persons have long sought to unite the objective logic of modern science and the revealed understandings of the scripture, and to that end, this conference was a satisfying exchange of realizations on the relationship between religion and science.
In New Delhi, on the eve of Gaura-purnima, the day of Lord Caitanya's appearance, His Divine Grace Gopala Krsna Goswami attended a program with Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Before millions of television viewers, Srila Gopala Krsna Goswami explained the divinity of Lord Caitanya, emphasizing the monumental work of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in spreading Lord Caitanya's teachings worldwide. Prime Minister Gandhi spoke on the uncertainty and unrest throughout the world, pointing out that we stand to benefit greatly by Lord Caitanya's teachings of spiritual harmony.
Gaura-purnima day inspired an astounding display of devotional presentations at ISKCON's world headquarters in Mayapur. Thousands of devotees from seventy countries gathered to celebrate the Lord's appearance. Kirtanas and bhajanas filled the air—devotees glorifying God in intense devotional meditation. ISKCON devotees and more than two million visitors watched Manipuri dance recitals, an original drama, a new film, and an elaborate exhibition of ISKCON's worldwide projects. The World Expo featured highlights from ISKCON's activities throughout the world, such as the famous Palace of Gold at the New Vrindaban spiritual community in West Virginia. Especially popular was an exhibition on the campaign to free imprisoned, severely persecuted devotees within the Soviet Union. A steady flood of pilgrims also enjoyed a special exhibit featuring fifty dioramas and sculpted terracotta panels depicting the pastimes of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
When Lord Caitanya was present on this planet He demonstrated how to properly worship Lord Krsna in His Deity form in the temple. This He did through His spontaneous and ecstatic loving service to the Jagannatha Deity in Orissa. The exchange between Lord Jagannatha and Lord Caitanya—although They are actually the same person—was exquisitely sweet. It was only fitting, then, that a new play on the appearance of Lord Jagannatha, written by His Divine Grace Tamal Krishna Goswami, had its premier at the Quincentennial celebration. The drama, Jagannatha-priya Natakam, stimulates devotional sentiments. Srila Tamal Krishna Goswami used the same exacting techniques of dramatic presentation prescribed in the ancient Sanskrit texts that were employed by the close associates of Lord Caitanya. Jagannatha-priya Natakam is unique. It is in English, yet the author has preserved the purity and inspirational mood of a centuries-old tradition in Vaisnava theater.
Also making its debut in Mayapur was a new film from ISKCON Cinema, entitled Lord Caitanya, the Golden Avatara. Yadubara dasa and his wife, Visakha-devi dasi, filmed, directed, edited, and produced the thirty-minute portrayal of Lord Caitanya's life. The film is based on the Caitanya-caritamrta, a sixteenth-century biography of Lord Caitanya by Krsna dasa Kaviraja Gosvami. It shows many of the places of Lord Caitanya's pastimes, artwork depicting His life, and reenactments of his pastimes by His modern followers. The film was shown for the first time on Gaurapurnima in ISKCON centers all over the world.
Throughout ISKCON, just as Lord Caitanya and His associates had done five centuries before, devotees united to go out into the streets singing the allpowerful holy names of God, and to host wonderful festivities in Lord Caitanya's honor.
The colorful sankirtana party, with devotees in flowing robes playing traditional drums and cymbals, has become a familiar sight on the streets of cities all over the world. The sound of the holy name echoes against buildings in London, New York, Sydney, Rio de Janeiro. Lord Caitanya's compassionate mood embraces every social class, nationality, and religious denomination, and the sankirtana spirit is not hampered by geographical location. Chanting Hare Krsna is equally liberating, whether in South America, Europe, or India.
How deeply the transcendental philosophy of Lord Caitanya has been accepted on every continent! Half-way around the world from Lord Caitanya's birthplace, the New Vrindaban community held a magnificent Gaura-purnima celebration. Two beautiful forty-two-foothigh sculptures of Lord Caitanya and His eternal associate Lord Nityananda were unveiled. The statues, or murtis, were draped with forty-foot garlands of painted handmade roses, lilies, and wild flowers, each flower at least one foot in diameter. Hundreds of devotees and guests gathered at moonrise by the temple lake to worship the Lord. Carrying lighted torches, they created a scene of breathtaking beauty.
These are only a small part of ISKCON's global campaign to glorify Lord Caitanya on this momentous anniversary. The brilliant festivals attract millions of people, and the devotees are invigorated by the intense devotional atmosphere. But the celebrating doesn't stop there. Every day there is the celebration within the heart of the devotee who lives to preach on behalf of Lord Caitanya. This spirit of offering others the chanting of Hare Krsna as the best method of awakening love for God is central to Lord Caitanya's philosophy. It is also central to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, as envisioned by Srila Prabhupada. By Lord Caitanya's mercy, "the most sublime and radiant spiritual knowledge" is within the reach of everyone, simply by chanting Hare Krsna and dancing with devotees. As Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, a prominent preacher in disciplic line from Lord Caitanya, predicted a century ago, the day has come when devotees from all over the world can gather together and chant, "Jaya Sacinandana, Jaya Sacinandana!"
Not Just Another Saint
While traveling in India in the weeks leading up to the five-hundredth anniversary of Lord Caitanya's appearance, I noticed many newspaper articles and special programs in honor of Lord Caitanya. I was very inspired to see these notices (although their praise was sometimes inaccurate).
An Air India billboard proclaimed, "500 Years of Him" and praised Lord Caitanya as one of India's greatest saints. In a Trivandrum newspaper, The Hindu, I read a listing for a late TV broadcast from New Delhi, Caitanya Mahaprabhu. On the next page of the same newspaper were two different articles written in the spirit of "all saints are the same."
The headline for the first article read "Saints Belong to All Regions: President." The article described the inauguration of the Guru Nanak Deva Chair of Comparative Religion and Philosophy at Gauhati University. Said the president of India, Dr. Zail Singh, "The great saints, gurus, and acaryas, including Guru Nanak and Saint Sankaradeva, have left us the message of universal brotherhood in their teachings." President Singh, of course, was seeking unity among Sikhs and Hindus, as is his duty.
In the second article, "Spiritual Teachings are Immortal," a Madrasi pandita was praising a collection of biographical poems by Saivite saints.
I was pleased to see these and other articles about saints and spiritual culture appearing regularly in the Indian newspapers. But I sensed a typical mentality: "All paths are the same." For people of this mentality, Lord Caitanya is simply another saint.
But what is a real saint? In India a man traditionally renounced his family life at a certain point and became a monk, either in seclusion or in preaching. Such a person was called a sannyasi, and he wore saffron-colored clothes. But in the corrupt society of today, people sometimes assume the dress of a sannyasi to receive alms or other favors. Although the public should be receptive to genuine saints, they should distinguish the saints from cheaters.
According to the Bhagavad-gita, a true saint is equipoised in all circumstances. He is completely free from desires for sense gratification, and he is always pure and irreproachable for his behavior. The true saint is full of knowledge of Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By all bona fide criteria, Lord Caitanya is a true saint. Moreover, Vedic literature reveals that He is Himself the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
The Srimad-Bhagavatam explains how, in this age of Kali, Krsna will appear as Lord Caitanya to propagate the chanting of the holy name of Krsna. This chanting of God's holy names is the yoga-dharma, the most recommended form of worship in this age. And because Lord Caitanya inaugurated this practice, He is the most prominent of all saintly personalities in this age. Those who teach other ways of worshiping God or other methods of yoga, or who engage in philosophical speculation, are not teaching what is actually prescribed in the scriptures for the present age of Kali. Serious students of sainthood should understand the special position of Lord Caitanya.
As I traveled from South India to Bengal prior to Gaura-purnima, the notices of Caitanya Mahaprabhu's appearance day celebration increased. A particularly notable article appeared in a Calcutta newspaper, Amrita Bazaar. The article was entitled "The Person I Miss Most" and was written by a minister of Parliament, Tarun Kanti Ghosh. The article included a photo of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and stated:
When we are all engaged in the stupendous task of making the five-hundredth anniversary of Lord Gauranga a grand success, the person whom I miss every moment is none other than Prabhupada, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. His presence amidst us today could have helped us fulfill our task a hundred times better by virtue of his deep devotion, sincerity and tremendous organizing capability. He was a host in himself.
Tarun Kanti Ghosh went on to give a little history of Prabhupada's wonderful achievements, starting with Prabhupada's journey to America in 1965.
A poor man going to the U.S.A. at the age of seventy could create all these in only twelve years by sheer virtue of his love and devotion and dedication to His principles.... Such an example of a new wave of religious consciousness growing entirely on the basis of devotion for Lord Krishna and Lord Gauranga can rarely be seen in the history of civilization.... I repeat that the void created by his demise is being greatly felt when we are celebrating the fivehundreth anniversary of the advent of Sri Caitanya. Were Prabhupada among us today, the celebration could have gained in spiritual magnitude and the dream of legions of devotees of Gauranga will come true.
Although he is an important minister in the central government of India, Tarun Kanti Ghosh was fortunate to be with Prabhupada during his years of preaching in India. He has great affection for Prabhupada, and he has rightly noted that of all of the followers of Lord Caitanya, Prabhupada is outstanding because he brought the message of Lord Caitanya out of India and spread it worldwide. Mr. Ghosh struck on the feelings of all the followers of Prabhupada, because Prabhupada is so intimately connected with Lord Caitanya, he was especially missed at the five-hundredth anniversary.
I appreciate Mr. Ghosh's sentiments. I don't, however, agree that Prabhupada was not present. He was present at our Quincentennial celebration, and the best testimony of this is that all over the world hundreds of ISKCON centers celebrated Gaura-purnima.
As described in the sastras, the guru is present in two ways, by vapuh and by vani. Vapuh means the guru's physical presence, and vast means his teachings. Although the guru may be physically present for only a limited amount of time, he remains with those followers who faithfully obey his instructions. As Srila Prabhupada wrote in dedicating his first book to his own spiritual master. "He lives forever in his instructions, and the follower lives with him."
Srila Prabhupada is present among the members of his ISKCON. It is only by Srila Prabhupada's mercy that devotees around the world today are following in the footsteps of Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Lord Caitanya's mission is being carried on every day in ISKCON centers worldwide, and devotees distribute the books of Lord Caitanya's teachings (which are the same as Lord Krsna's teachings). Following Lord Caitanya, devotees of every nation go into the streets to chant the holy names of God.
Prabhupada was certainly present at the five-hundredth anniversary celebration in Mayapur, where thousands of his followers from around the world gathered to chant and hear the glories of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Both Lord Caitanya and Srila Prabhupada continue to be present in the hearts of followers who remain faithful to their teachings. Thus their important welfare work continues.—SDG