His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, came to America in 1965, at age sixty-nine, to fulfill his spiritual master's request that he teach the science of Krsna consciousness throughout the English-speaking world. In a dozen years he published some seventy volumes of translation and commentary on India's Vedic literature, and these are now standard in universities worldwide. Meanwhile, traveling almost nonstop, Srila Prabhupada molded his international society into a worldwide confederation of asramas, schools, temples, and farm communities. He passed away in 1977 in India's Vrndavana, the place most sacred to Lord Krsna. His disciples are carrying forward the movement he started. Advanced disciples throughout the world have been authorized to serve in the position of spiritual master, initiating disciples of their own. And these disciples in turn, become linked with Srila Prabhupada through the transcendental system of disciplic succession.
Back to godhead is the monthly journal of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. When Srila Prabhupada began the Society (in New York City, in 1966), he put into writing the purposes he wanted it to achieve. They are as follows:
1. To systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large and to educate all peoples in the techniques of spiritual life in order to check the imbalance of values in life and to achieve real unity and peace in the world.
2. To propagate a consciousness of Krsna, as it is revealed in Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.
3. To bring the members of the Society together with each other and nearer to Krsna, the prime entity, thus developing the idea within the members, and humanity at large, that each soul is part and parcel of the quality of Godhead (Krsna).
4. To teach and encourage the sankirtana movement, congregational chanting of the holy names of God, as revealed in the teachings of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
5. To erect for the members and for society at large a holy place of transcendental pastimes dedicated to the personality of Krsna.
6. To bring the members closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler, more natural way of life.
7. With a view toward achieving the aforementioned purposes, to publish and distribute periodicals, books, and other writings.
From Analysis to Love
If we use our intelligence to understand God, what will our conclusion be?
A lecture in London in September 1973
esa te 'bhihita sankhye
"Thus far I have described this knowledge to you through analytical study. Now listen as I explain it in terms of working without fruitive results. O son of Prtha, when you act in such knowledge you can free yourself from the bondage of works." (Bhagavad-gita 2.39)
Whether you perform good or bad acts, there will be reactions. If while in this body we act piously, then our future is very good. If we act impiously, then our future is not very good. So we should act piously, not impiously. That is human life. We should know what kind of actions we should do. In the Sixteenth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita you will find this verse [16.7]: pravrttim ca nivrttim ca jana na vidur asurah. "The demons do not know what kind of actions should be done and what kind of actions should not be done."
It is not that one can do anything he likes, at his whim. That is not allowed, at least for human beings. Even in ordinary life, if you act whimsically you will be liable to so many difficulties at the hands of the state law. Similarly, if you break the laws of God, you will be punished by material nature.
Up to this point in the Bhagavad-gita Krsna has described sankhya, the analytical study of the soul and the body. For example, a medical man can make a partial analysis of the body—its anatomy and physiology. He has studied how the brains are working, how the different secretions are transforming into blood, how the heart is working. This is an analytical study.
So as far as the body and the soul are concerned, that subject has been fully analyzed. Now Krsna says, buddhir yoge tv imam srnu: "Hear about another department of knowledge, buddhi-yoga." Buddhi-yoga is spiritual life.
We should take instructions from Krsna on spiritual life because He is the supreme authority. When there are talks between the Supreme Spirit—Krsna—and the individual spirit—the living entity—the living entity is always subordinate. People at the present moment do not know who is the Supreme Being. We have to take instructions from the Vedas: nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman. "The supreme eternal being among all the eternal beings is He who is supplying the necessities of life for all others." There are so many things necessary for birds, beasts, and human beings to live—fruits, flowers, milk—and everything is being supplied by Krsna. Therefore He is the Supreme Being.
How is He supreme? In a family the father is considered to be supreme. Why? Because he takes care of the whole family. Similarly, the Supreme Person, Krsna, takes care of the whole creation—all the innumerable universes, both material and spiritual.
So, when we act according to the direction of the Supreme, that is our constitutional position because we are naturally subordinate to Him. Being in a subordinate position means that one must act according to the directions of one's master. Everyone is acting like that. So, when we recognize Krsna as the supreme master and follow His directions, that is called buddhi-yoga. That is real intelligence.
The word buddhi means "intelligence," and yoga means "linking." In the Tenth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita you will find this verse:
So, what is buddhi-yoga? Here Krsna explains, tesam satata-yuktanam: "Persons who are twenty-four hours a day engaged ..." What kind of engagement? Bhajatam priti-purvakam: "Always trying to render some service to the Lord." How? Priti-purvakam: "with love and faith." Not that I think, "Oh, I have to do it." No. But "Oh. let me do it nicely." That is love.
Unless there is love, you cannot do anything nicely in the material world. Unless you have some attachment for something, you cannot do it very nicely. Take music, for example. Because the musician has strong attachment for music, he tries to perform it perfectly. So, love is the basis.
Similarly, when you serve Krsna, if you have no love for Him you cannot serve Him very nicely. Also, Krsna will not accept your service if it is not done with great love and affection. That is the basic principle of Krsna consciousness. Krsna does not require your service: He is self-sufficient. He has many servants, anywhere and everywhere. No, Krsna does not require our service, but it is in our interest to render service to Krsna. Then we become happy.
In another verse [9.27] Krsna says,
patram puspam phalam toyam
"If someone offers Me with love and faith a little flower, a little water, a little fruit—I will accept it." Yo me bhaktya prayacchati: The real offering is love. Krsna, the Supreme Person, is giving all the necessities of life to all living entities. He is actually the provider and maintainer of everyone. So why is He asking you for a little fruit and water? Is He hungry? No. He is doing it just to induce you to love Him. That is the point.
In the material condition you are subjected to birth, old age, disease, and death, along with many other miseries. You have fallen into this condition because you have forgotten Krsna. For example, last night so many people came to discuss and talk, but they were not interested in talking about Krsna. They were interested in how their sense gratification would be disturbed if they began this process of Krsna consciousness. That was their concern. Here we have come to preach about Krsna, but they did not ask anything about Krsna: Who is He? What is His philosophy? No, they were simply interested in their own sense gratification. That's all.
This is the position of people in the material world. Everyone is simply interested in sense gratification. There is no question of asking, "What is God? What am I? What is this world?" But these should be the questions of one in human life. As the Vedanta-sutra [1.1.1] says, athato brahma-jijnasa: "Now inquire into the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Being." That is our only business. But throughout the whole world people are simply busy trying to satisfy their senses. This is the cause of our falling down from the spiritual world. Because we have forgotten Krsna, we are now under the clutches of maya [illusion].
So, we have forgotten Krsna, and therefore we are suffering. But because we are part and parcel of Krsna. He comes to canvass: "Why are you suffering? Just surrender unto Me. I'll give you all protection." No, the people will not take His offer.
One who is trained in how to surrender to Krsna practices devotional service. Krsna is within everyone's heart, and He can see if you are very sincere to serve Him. He can understand whether you are serving Him sincerely or with some material motive. Even if you serve Krsna with some material motive, however, your service will never go in vain. Krsna is so kind.
Take Putana, for example. Putana wanted to serve Krsna by feeding Him her breast milk. But her purpose was to kill Krsna, so she smeared her breast with poison. So, Krsna sucked out her milk, and she died. She had a demonic motive, but still Krsna thought, "This rascal Putana wanted to kill Me, but she did not know that I cannot be killed. Still, although her motive was to kill Me, she has served Me by allowing Me to suck her breast, and since I have drunk her milk, she is My mother. Never mind that she came with a demonic motive." Krsna is so kind.
This is the benefit of practicing Krsna consciousness. Of course, we should not have a demonic motive in serving Krsna. Kamsa was also absorbed in thinking of Krsna. He was fully Krsna conscious, always thinking of Krsna—but his motive was also to kill Him. Still, Kamsa was liberated because he constantly thought of Krsna.
But this is not bhakti. Bhakti also means thinking of Krsna always—but favorably. That is bhakti. To think of Krsna as an enemy is not recommended. How can a devotee think of Krsna as an enemy? The devotee thinks of Krsna as a friend, a son, a master, a lover, whereas a demon, an enemy of Krsna, always thinks of ways to kill Krsna. That is the difference between a demon and a devotee.
The demons are thinking of how to wipe out Krsna, how to banish Krsna, how to kill Krsna. They don't know that the reason they are always suffering is that they are inimical toward Him. Therefore Krsna says [Bg. 16.7), pravrttim ca nivrttim ca jana na vidur asurah: "The demons do not know what to do and what not to do."
One has to learn how to live, what to know, and what to forget. Every progressive method has do's and do not's. So, the demons do not know what they should do and what they should not do. But the devotee knows. No illicit sex. That is a do not. But there is also a do: If you want sex life, then get yourself married according to religious principles and beget nice children. That is a do. No intoxicants. That is a do not. But you should eat krsna-prasadam [food offered to Krsna] and become intoxicated with Krsna's love. That is a do. Similarly, no gambling. That is a do not. But you should indulge in a kind of gambling. What is that? To dedicate your life to Krsna and see the result. That is also gambling. All of my disciples were engaged in their own business, but I advised them to give up that business and take to this Krsna business. So, they are gambling because they do not know what will happen. But they followed my instruction on faith.
Somehow or other we have to become engaged in Krsna's service twenty-four hours a day, with faith and love. We have to think, "Krsna will actually be merciful to me; He'll deliver me from this miserable condition of material life."
Krsna is within you, so you cannot deceive Him. That is not possible. Krsna is the Supreme. You may be a deceiver, but Krsna is the supreme deceiver. And if you are His lover, then for you Krsna is the supreme lover. Ye yatha mam prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajamy aham: "As you deal with Krsna, He reciprocates." That is Krsna consciousness.
So, now Krsna is describing buddhi-yoga. Buddhi-yoga is bhakti-yoga, or devotional service to Krsna. Buddhi means "intelligence." One who is very intelligent can take to Krsna consciousness. Krsna confirms this later [7.19]:
bahunam janmanam ante
"After many, many births, the wise man surrenders to Me."
Everyone is struggling to become happy. Sometimes we struggle as karmis [fruitive workers], sometimes as jnanis [speculative philosophers], and sometimes as yogis. But when you become a bhakta, a devotee of Krsna, that is supreme. So long as you are not a bhakta, you cannot be happy.
Srila Rupa Gosvami has therefore compared the desires for bhukti [sense gratification] and mukti [liberation] to two witches. So long as these witches are in one's heart, one cannot take up devotional service. Most people want to enjoy this material world by working. Everyone is trying for that, engaging in the struggle for existence, thinking, "I want to enjoy this material world to the fullest extent." That is called bhukti. And another witch is mukti, liberation. Those who are disappointed try for mukti. One must become disappointed, because nobody can be happy here following the karmi plan. That is not possible. So people become disappointed and try to end their individual existence by merging into the Absolute. But that is also disappointing.
So, after many, many births of struggling for existence, one will be disappointed. That is a fact. For many births one may become sometimes a karmi and sometimes a jnani and sometimes a yogi to be happy, but one will continually be defeated. Nature is so strong.
Therefore Krsna says, bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate:
"After many, many births of this struggle, when one comes to be really wise, he surrenders unto Me." How does he surrender? Blindly? No. Vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma sudurlabhah: "At that time one understands that Krsna is everything. Such a mahatma is very rare." It is very difficult to find such a great, intelligent person.
Now, if I understand that my ultimate goal is to surrender to Krsna after many, many births, why not surrender immediately? That is intelligence. If I have to eventually come to this point to perfect my life, why not immediately perfect my life? Why should I wait for many, many births? Why not surrender immediately? That is intelligence. Unless one is exceptionally intelligent one cannot take to Krsna consciousness.
So, earlier in this chapter Krsna has described sankhya to Arjuna: "This is your duty. You are a ksatriya [warrior], so why are you refusing to fight? The body is perishable but the soul is immortal, so your grandfather and other kinsmen will not die." This is an analytical study of the situation from the material point of view. But as soon as Arjuna comes to the point of serving Krsna with love, without any need for analytical understanding, that is his perfection.
For example, you know the effects of fire without studying the fire analytically. If you touch fire, it will burn. You don't require to study the composition of fire. Similarly, the gopis in Vrndavana do not study Krsna. They do not care; they simply love Krsna. That is their only qualification. Otherwise, they are ordinary village girls. Similarly, the cowherd boys had no higher education, no knowledge of Vedanta; they were not very nicely cultured gentlemen, just village cowherd boys. But they loved Krsna as their dear friend.
The cowherd girls did not know any other business than to love Krsna. That is perfection. Without any analytical knowledge, they loved Him. When they saw Narayana—"Oh, here is Nara-yana"—there was no love. They had respect for Him. You can offer respect to anyone, even if you have no love. But love is a different thing. Love is for Krsna. And this love is the ultimate goal of buddhi-yoga, or Krsna consciousness.
Thank you very much. Hare Krsna.
The Truth Is Humbling News
"Thinking myself in the company of a fellow truth-seeker, I decided to impress him with my views of the truth."
by Sankarsana Dasa
I lay on the ground near my home in Newark, Delaware, "just thinking" one autumn day in 1980. In the distance I saw my twin brother running down a cross-country path. I watched as he disappeared from view, and I thought of how time was separating our courses of life and of how it would eventually separate us forever. I felt sad. Does life have a purpose? I wondered. So often it seemed pointless. Cruel. Confusing. I had no answer. But I decided that if I ever came across the answer, I would live for it.
Although I grew up a Catholic and attended mass with my family every Sunday, God was a distant figure, and my Sunday excursions were a ritual I endured. So, by the time I left home for college, I had stopped going to church. I had decided I was no longer going to be a blind follower.
After two years at Black Hills State College in South Dakota, I returned home and enrolled as an art student at the University of Delaware. My grades were all right, but college was mostly another ritual. And I had no firm career plans. Some friends suggested perhaps I was asking too much from life to find "the purpose."
I read a lot of Thoreau and Whitman and took heart. They advocated the reality of individual experience and condemned conformity. I was moved by their spirit to experience life. Thoreau advised, "Live deep, and suck out all of the marrow of life." Sounded good, though he never concluded what that "marrow" was. And although Whitman was idealistic, he admitted, "I have not once had the least idea who or what I am."
One October afternoon my brother brought home some Back to Godhead magazines and a few other Krsna consciousness books. He told me he had met a shaven-headed man in robes who said that this literature contained the Absolute Truth. We both read the books and magazines, and I was immediately impressed by the depth of spiritual knowledge. What impressed me most was the well-reasoned presentation of how ordinary people can learn to live a God-centered life.
I decided to visit the nearby temple, where I met a devotee named Kalakantha dasa. I spoke with him at length and appreciated that although he was religious, he—unlike other "religious" persons in my experience—was not contemptuous. He treated me cordially as a guest, and during our conversation he spoke intelligently and candidly about his religious convictions. He did not stress faith without reason; rather, he backed everything he said with sound philosophical arguments.
One especially convincing point Kalakantha made was that everyone renders service to someone. The wife serves the husband, the employee serves his boss, the president serves the nation, and so on. Since it is our nature to serve, he explained, it is in our best interest to find the most rewarding person to serve. That person is God, Krsna. Serving Krsna fulfills all our desires, just as watering the root of a plant nourishes the entire plant. Krsna is the root of our existence.
Out of curiosity I asked Kalakantha what was required to join the organization. He told me of their restrictions: no gambling, no illicit sex, no intoxication, and no eating of meat, fish, or eggs. And every member must vow to chant the Hare Krsna mantra a prescribed number of times daily. I was surprised to hear of such strict principles, and I thought there must be some merit to the process. I had never heard of people living by such high standards.
When Kalakantha asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I expressed no particular ambition. I said my peers considered me unsociable, but that I couldn't conform just to please them. I found myself in a recurring quandary: whether or not to pursue interacting with others. Kalakantha could understand my predicament, and he explained that helping people to understand their real identity as eternal souls was a worthy reason to pursue relationships. This made sense to me. I was impressed that he didn't look down on me for my unsociable tendencies. Rather, he stated indirectly that without pursuing knowledge of self-realization, social exchanges were inconsequential; they were largely just forums for ego gratification.
Kalakantha introduced me to the Hare Krsna maha-mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Although the philosophy of Krsna consciousness interested me, this aspect of it seemed superfluous. I knew a little about mantras, and I knew that they supposedly made one more energetic, proficient, and enthusiastic about whatever one aspired for. But I was doubtful. Besides, I didn't know for sure what was really worth aspiring for. One mantra meditation group I had already visited wanted $150 for my "personal mantra." But Kalakantha offered me the Hare Krsna mantra free.
He explained that the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra was the primary means for reviving our dormant God consciousness. We already have a relationship with God, he said, but we have forgotten it. By chanting Hare Krsna, we purify our consciousness and reawaken our original knowledge of God. This was a new concept to me, but it seemed a higher ambition than using a mantra to increase one's prowess.
We then entered a room where there were musical instruments. Kalakantha played a harmonium (a hand-pumped organ) and sang the Hare Krsna mantra, while I responded: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. I appreciated my host's ear for music, but it was the sincerity of his chanting that impressed me most: it was not a performance, but glorification of the Supreme Lord.
With reverence I immersed myself in the mood of the chant as Kalakantha had described it to me: "My dear Lord Krsna, please engage me in Your service." Very soon I experienced a change in consciousness. My usual concerns and anxieties became irrelevant, and I felt aloof from the influence of the external world. Following Kalakantha, I carefully enunciated each syllable of the mantra, meditating on its meaning. What else could I be meant for, I thought, than to engage in God's service?
Afterwards, I promised Kalakantha I would return Sunday for their weekly festival. I chanted all the way home.
During the next few days I read the first volume of the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Unlike with Thoreau and Whitman, here I found answers. Everything seemed to relate to my deepest, most persistent questions about the purpose, the "marrow," of life. I came across this verse:
Your questions are worthy because they relate to Lord Krsna and so are of relevance to the world's welfare. Only questions of this sort are capable of completely satisfying the self.—Bhag. 1.2.5
It reminded me of what Kalakantha had said about how only discussions concerning self-realization were of consequence. I became hopeful that life did have a specific purpose. Somehow I had found what just might be the greatest discovery of my life.
I returned to the temple for the Sunday program and noticed that the majority of guests were Indians. It was a slight "culture shock" for me, but I appreciated their mannerly behavior. Seeing so many Indians impressed on me that Krsna consciousness was not just a fad, but it had cultural roots and a substantial following in India.
The devotees interested me, and their books were convincing. But what about their lives? Were these people finding the deep fulfillment I had read about in their books? They certainly seemed dedicated. They were always ready to answer any philosophical inquiry and they made every effort to see to the satisfaction of their guests. They were active, yet not ambitious for ordinary remuneration or recognition. During the feast the devotees waited on me, serving me whatever dishes I might want more of. They even teased me, persuading me to eat until I could barely get up. I had nothing to offer them in return, but still they selflessly served me (and many others) with obvious satisfaction. Clearly, they were happy in Krsna consciousness, and their primary concern was for others. Never had I seen such conviction. The devotees were the most secure persons I had ever met.
Kalakantha showed a film that described the soul (or self) as a spiritual spark of consciousness. The soul was unaffected by material qualities. Designations such as "man," "woman," "black," "white," "young," "old," "American," "Chinese," and so forth had to do with the temporary body, not with the eternal soul. As I watched the film, I was deeply impressed. Never before had such ideas occurred to me. Without the soul, the body was just a lump of dead matter. The soul doesn't die; it transmigrates to a different body. Only when the soul reawakens his original relationship with the Supreme Soul, God, can he be relieved of the inconvenience of accepting another material body. This reasoning was theoretically acceptable to me. I was becoming convinced that Krsna consciousness was the solution to the mystery of life.
The next two mornings I attended classes on the Srimad-Bhagavatam. On the second morning I stayed after class to get a set of japa beads from a devotee named Baladeva, who showed me how to chant on the beads. Thinking myself in the company of a fellow truth-seeker, I decided to impress him with my views on the truth. I said that by confronting surprises and adversities in life one could grow to be able to weather any calamity; and in such a state, one would become indifferent to miseries and thus enjoy life.
Baladeva then explained that there were two ways of acquiring knowledge: by the ascending process and by the descending process. The ascending process was the empirical method, gaining knowledge through the senses. The descending process was the method of acquiring knowledge by hearing from higher authority. Empirical knowledge, Baladeva explained, is never complete or conclusive. Better to hear submissively from a learned transcendentalist in disciplic succession who has realized the Absolute Truth.
But I was stubborn. For the next three hours I argued with Baladeva, insisting on the value of my subjective experience. Not only was he unimpressed by my arguments, but he dismantled them one after another. He pointed out that experiences in this world were short-lived and they never added up to a solution to life's problems. He defined life's problems as disease, old age, repeated birth, and death, and he explained that if I did not use my human energy to develop self-realization, or knowledge of my ultimate relationship with God, then I was essentially no better than an animal. A human distinguishes himself from the animals when he uses his superior intelligence for understanding his eternal relationship with God. If he denies this opportunity, he lives only a "polished animal life."
I knew I was defeated. I had been humbled. Although I was proud of my acquired wisdom, I realized I was merely speculating on things beyond my mind and senses. Feeling embarrassed, I left the temple without saying when I would return. But I knew my life would never be the same.
My reading of the Bhagavatam, my observations of the devotees, and my discussions with Kalakantha and Baladeva had convinced me of two things: I had an eternal relationship with God, and up until now my life had been in ignorance. Now that I had found the truth, how could I go on living in blind defiance? The answer was obvious. That night I moved into the temple, and I've never looked back.
Carl Jung's descriptions of a "collective unconscious" are strikingly similar to ancient Vedic descriptions of the Supersoul.
by Mathuresa Dasa
O God, our help in ages past,
A thousand ages in Thy sight
As a student at the Hawken School in Cleveland, Ohio. from 1956 to 1964, I sang this hymn many times. From fourth grade on we all had to attend morning and afternoon services in the school chapel. Grade by grade, in alphabetical order by name, we twice daily filled the pews, fourth graders up front by the stage and lecturn, eighth graders in back beneath the organ loft. In five years of chapel services I gradually progressed from low-man-on-the-totem-pole status in the front row to a position with far greater prestige and a much better view about thirty feet back, all the while sitting, alphabetically, between classmates Roland Crawford and Skip Fazio. As we rose again and again, opening our worn hymnals to sing verses hinting at peace and permanence. Skip's peach fuzz turned into stubble, Roland's voice dropped an octave, and I grew at least a foot.
I believed in God, the almighty white-haired patriarch in whose honor the chapel services were held, and I didn't want to begrudge Him the daily offerings of hymns and prayers. But over the years the words "A thousand ages in Thy sight are like an evening gone" nourished in me an inkling that there was something higher and more powerful than even God-on-High. If God's evenings lasted a thousand ages, that meant He lived a lot longer than I. But it also meant that His evenings—and therefore His days, years, and life—eventually ended. If He was enjoying Himself, maybe time passed too quickly, like it always does when you're having a good time. And if He wasn't enjoying Himself—if angelic harp music and schoolboy hymns bored Him—then what was the advantage of His longevity? In any case, time, the all-pervasive, impersonal force that was sweeping me through Hawken and through life, was apparently sweeping God too.
* * *
Coincidentally, while I was serving my pew term in Cleveland, Carl Gustav Jung, then in his eighties, was at home in Zurich, Switzerland, composing his autobiography. Writing of his own school days, Jung, the great psychologist who broke with Sigmund Freud to found the school of analytic psychology, revealed that he too had early-on developed an impersonal inkling. Jung recalled picking up a book in his father's library and reading that God was a "personality to be conceived of after the analogy of the human ego: the unique, utterly supramundane ego who embraces the entire cosmos."
God a personality? Jung wouldn't buy it. Ego and personality, he reasoned, were by nature limited and fault-ridden. If God is unlimited, if He is everything and therefore spread out everywhere, then how can He have a personality? And if He is perfect, then how dare we endow Him with an ego? Schoolboy Jung had experienced that his own ego was "vain, self-seeking, defiant, in need of love, covetous, unjust, sensitive, lazy, irresponsible," and subject to "errors, moods, emotions, passions, and sins." Certainly, he thought, the Supreme must be egoless.
Thus two twentieth-century thinkers—one from Cleveland, one from Zurich—came to question the supremacy of God-the-person by way of experiencing the flaws of man-the-person. How could anyone propose, both Jung and I wondered, that personality and supreme perfection are compatible?
* * *
In answering this question, India's time-honored Vedic literature discloses that Jung and I fell into the same impersonal trap.
I fell, I now realize, by mistakenly accepting the old-man conception of God and by consequently overlooking scriptural references to God's immortality. If God ages, I figured. He must die also. To this inkling Vedic authorities reply that although the Supreme Person is the original being and therefore the oldest of all. He never ages. The Brahma-samhita states, adyam purana-purusam nava-yauvanam ca: God lives eternally not as a white-haired patriarch but as a fresh blooming youth. Time can neither age Him nor deteriorate His transcendental abode. He is time, the Bhagavad-gita says. And other Vedic texts corroborate: time is the energy of the Supreme Person that sweeps the entire cosmic manifestation along to ultimate destruction. Meanwhile the Supreme Person Himself remains aloof, enjoying transcendental pastimes with His pure devotees.
But although God is a person—an active enjoyer like us—we shouldn't think that His character and personality are like ours in every respect. This was Jung's mistake—or one of them, anyway. While Jung rightly observed that our personalities are always limited and our characters often unsavory, he wrongly concluded that God's personality would have to be the same. To refute this notion, the Srimad-Bhagavatam, which is the topmost of the Vedic texts, describes at great length the unlimited attributes and activities of God-the-person. asserting that the spiritual character of God is spotlessly free from the negative qualities our own egos presently generate. Our personalities are sometimes repugnant, but God-the-person, or, to use Srila Prabhupada's terminology, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is known as "Krsna," or "the all-attractive one."
Krsna is everything and spread out everywhere in the sense that everything is His energy, as heat and light are energies of the sun. The elements that make up our bodies and the rest of the universe are Krsna's material energy, while we ourselves—the individuals who animate these bodies—are eternally part of Krsna's spiritual energy. Everything—within and beyond our experience—emanates from Krsna.
Despite the pervasiveness of His energies, however, Krsna remains a person. If you ripped this page from the magazine, tore it to pieces, and threw it all over the room, the page would no longer be available for your edification. That's because the page is material. Krsna, however, distributes Himself all over by His "pieces" (His various energies) yet remains personally available, shining like the sun. That's because Krsna is the perfect, omnipotent, completely spiritual Personality of Godhead. He is, as Jung should have gleaned while reading his father's book, "unique" and "utterly supramundane." The Vedic literatures warn us not to rely solely on our experience and logic to understand Him.
Our own personalities are always limited, as Jung correctly observed. But they are vain, self-seeking, and in so many other ways a pain in the neck only when we forget that we are eternal parts of Krsna, and that our natural function is consequently to cooperatively serve and satisfy Him. Satisfying Krsna results in our own satisfaction, just as feeding the stomach nourishes all parts of the body. But in forgetfulness of Krsna's supremacy we vainly think ourselves supreme, falsely identify with our temporary material bodies, and seek only to satisfy our own bodily senses. This self-seeking mentality puts us at odds not only with each other but with Krsna Himself as well. In such an unnatural state of affairs our original Krsna conscious personalities show deformed and ugly faces. We should not, therefore, compare our present personalities to God's personality point for point, since such a comparison will naturally lead us to doubt, as Jung and I doubted, that the Supreme has a personality at all.
* * *
I wouldn't label Jung "impersonal" in the usual sense of that word. He was a jovial, affable man who gave full attention to the personal lives of his patients. In his writings he championed the cause of the individual over what he considered the mass-mindedness of modern societies, which reduce us individuals to a pile of statistics. Nor did Jung fail to acknowledge the important role ego plays in an individual's psychic maturation. He even flatly refused to formulate a fixed theory to explain the human psyche, because he felt that a single theory could never do justice to everyone. Theories had to be chosen and adjusted to fiteach individual. What worked for you might be detrimental to me.
Jung's adjustability makes it difficult not only to label him "impersonal" but to label him anything. Nevertheless, beginning with his childhood aversion to the idea of God-the-person, it is possible to trace an impersonalistic thread through the tapestry of his life's work. That thread is particularly evident in one of Jung's most intriguing and controversial concepts—something he called "the collective unconscious."
It even sounds impersonal. And not so terribly intriguing either. "Collective" suggests the opposite of "private" or "individual." And unconscious? While a person may sometimes fall unconscious, he or she is least interesting or personable that way. "Collective unconscious" could suitably describe the ambiance of an enormous one-room flophouse, or of a mass grave.
However, just as the Vedic literature warns us not to use mundane logic to judge the Personality of Godhead, so Jung cautions that the collective unconscious is beyond our ordinary sensual and intellectual experience. It is a powerful dynamic entity. In fact, although Jung never says that God and the collective unconscious are one and the same, he does closely identify them. Psychologically speaking, man's experience of one is indistinguishable from his experience of the other.
To me that sounds unclear, and Jung is certainly hard to decipher at times. Some of his critics accuse him of obscurity, while Jung's admirers express the same idea euphemistically when they say he is "mystical" or "rich in suggestion." And Jung himself explains, "I have no definite convictions—not about anything, really. . . . [But] in spite of all uncertainties, I feel a solidity underlying all existence. ..."
So the collective unconscious is, for certain, a Godlike "solidity underlying all existence." It is also—a little more tangibly, I'd say—our common heritage. Jung accepted the theory of evolution and felt that as a result of evolutionary development we all have a lot in common not only physically, but psychically as well. Evolution has given you and me a heart, a stomach, a head, a neck, ten fingers, etc. We also have egos, those conscious streams of "I am" that wend their way through our days and years from early childhood to old age. And we both have subconscious minds, whose depths harbor repressed or long-ignored desires and memories, and in whose shallows, just deep enough to keep our conscious shores litter-free, information more pertinent to our daily lives treads water, ready for quick recall.
To have these things in common doesn't mean, of course, that we literally share them, as town dwellers, for instance, used to share the town commons to graze their livestock. Your stomach won't digest what I eat, nor does my mind mull over your inner thoughts. Although our physical and psychic anatomies are identical, we have different stomachs and minds, different hearts, and, most important, different egos. We are distinct individuals.
Jung conceived of the collective unconscious, however, as something we do literally share. It is a town commons of the psyche deep within our beings, a hidden primordial psychic field on which all humanity stands and from which we all receive guidance and inspiration. Conscious egos, Jung said, are relatively recent evolutionary arrivals. They arose from the collective unconscious as plants grow from a rhizome.
Jung gave the collective unconscious credit for the back stage control of almost everything we think and do. He maintained that while our egos, with their personal wills, have an important part to play in life, we have mistakenly crowned them monarchs of our psychic territories, unaware to what degree the ego is carried along by an impersonal force beyond its grasp. That force flows from our psychic commons, from "the one psyche which embraces us all."
Which is not just intriguing, but pretty spooky, if you ask me. I have always thought of myself as an ego, as that little old stream of conscious "I am." I'll concede that my "I am" is carried along by another force—a force that back at Hawken I had identified as time. But time, however mysterious, is something external that acts upon me, whereas the collective unconscious, according to Jung, is me. It's part of my own self, and of your self too. In fact, Jung defines "self " as a union, an integration, of the conscious, personal realm and the unconscious, impersonal realm of the psyche.
That's an awful lot of integration. First of all, we're integrated with each other already in that we're an outgrowth of the same "rhizome." Secondly, since that rhizome is closely identified with God, we're already integrated with Him too. And thirdly, the self itself, said Jung, is also nearly identical with God, or as Jung murkily puts it, with the God-image in the human psyche.
Follow? Let me summarize: our almost-God selves are an integration of the conscious/personal with our almost-God rhizome.
With all due respect, this is just plain mixed up. Take Jung's adjustability, add a generous dollop of uncertainty, blend everything with a gallon or two of obscurity, and you've got an exasperatingly convoluted, richly-suggestive Jungian goo. Here a Jungian might remind me that Jung never claimed to have a clear theoretical framework. He called his work "a circumambulation of unknown factors." A Jungian might also point out that the collective unconscious, being in many respects the opposite of consciousness, is by nature irrational and therefore difficult, even impossible, to define or describe. Upon introduction to our antithetical psychic partner, we chauvinistic egos are bound to feel befuddled and threatened.
I can't swallow these explanations either. There's something insidious about them. I haven't yet accepted the collective unconscious as my psychic partner, and look at what Jung is asking me to do. He's suggesting that I integrate my long-separated psychic neighborhood, making room for this total stranger, this foreigner from the other side—the unconscious side—of the psychic tracks. Jung even has the nerve to suggest that this spooky stranger was here first, that he's God, and that the neighborhood really belongs to him. The newcomer is not only God, he's me and you too. How can you say such things in public and not expect to encounter nasty backlash from upstanding, well-bred conscious egos like myself ? No wonder Jung's idea of a collective unconscious, when understood at all, is controversial.
* * *
But vitriol aside, the idea of a collective unconscious has a unique charm and urgency. It is at least an attempt to provide a meeting ground for a world fractured by divergent social, political, and religious interests. It gives us an inkling of our primeval brotherhood, a brotherhood still much touted by religious leaders but buried for all practical purposes by sectarian feuding. It offers us a clue how to sublimate our selfish, ego-centered ambitions by recognizing a central collective entity, a greater impersonal self. Largely on the basis of the collective unconscious, Jung called for a potent, nonsectarian faith to counteract the pseudo religions and fanatical political ideologies of this age.
The big trouble with Jung's idea of the collective unconscious is that his schoolboy mistrust of personality influences it so heavily. Otherwise, the Vedic literatures confirm that two selves dwell in our bodies. One self is the conscious ego, and the other is known to Vedic authorities as the Superself, or Supersoul. The Supersoul is collective in that "it" is within each and every body. But "it" is far from unconscious or impersonal. On the contrary, the Supersoul is a personal expansion of the eternal, all-cognizant, all-perfect Personality of Godhead, Krsna.
Here again we run into the same question Jung raised as a child: How can God be everywhere—in this case in everyone's body—and still be a person? And again the answer is that Krsna, unlike us, is unlimited and omnipotent. He does as He likes. More specifically, the Vedic literatures explain that Krsna expands Himself into an unlimited number of spiritual personalities identical with Him. The Supersoul is one such expansion. As the sun, shining down at noon, falls upon the heads of millions of people yet remains one, so Lord Krsna in His Supersoul expansion shines into the hearts of all living entities in all species of life yet remains one person. While both you and your body are Krsna's energy, the Supersoul is Krsna's very self.
The Supersoul could be called unconscious only in the sense that we are currently unconscious, or ignorant, of Him, and in the sense that His consciousness is not defective like ours. Forgetting the Supersoul, or Krsna, is in fact our greatest defect, because in so doing we also forget our own eternal, spiritual selves. Our forgetful friend Jung, for example, proposed that our conscious selves are Johnny-come-latelys on the psychic scene, outgrowths of the collective rhizome.
Yes, the Vedic literature says, we are outgrowths of Krsna in that we are His energy, yet we are eternal—that is, without beginning or end. Krsna is eternal, and we are eternally individual fragments of Him. Krsna is the eternal sun, and we are the sunshine. Although the sun and the sunshine exist simultaneously, one is the origin of the other. According to the Bhagavad-gita, there was never a time when Krsna and ourselves did not exist, nor in the future shall any of us cease to be.
In the Gita Krsna also states that He (as Supersoul) is situated in our hearts, supplying us with memory, knowledge, and forgetfulness. In other words, Krsna, not the collective unconscious, directs all our psychic activities. Without memory and knowledge we can't think or do anything, and without forgetfulness of our eternal life with Krsna we can't strut about in this temporary world imagining ourselves supreme and independent. So, according to our particular desires, Krsna equips us with intelligence as He sees fit.
The Supersoul directs not only human beings but animals as well. Whenever even rudimentary intelligence is evident, the source is Krsna, and the receptacle, or secondary source, is one of His eternal, individual parts. For example, the Supersoul gives bees the intelligence to construct a hive, collect nectar from flowers, produce and store the honey, and so on. Bees, ants, whales, human beings—all get their instinctual, mental, or intellectual powers from Krsna, who is seated in our hearts (or, you could say, in the depths of our psyches) as the Supersoul.
Jung's outstanding accomplishment was to understand that a higher authority governs our psychic activities. Phenomena such as the sudden inspiration of an artist or a scientist, the predictive powers of a psychic, as well as Jung's own visions and premonitions, helped to convince him that this higher authority exists. In addition, recurrent themes in myths and ideologies throughout human history led Jung to conclude that unseen psychic molds and channels—which he called "archetypes of the collective unconscious"—have always directed man's consciousness.
Equally outstanding, however, was Jung's inability to grasp that this unseen authority is a person. The collective unconscious, Jung discovered, serves as a witness, a guide, a governor, a regulator, a knower—even as a friend. Are these not personal qualities? And if consciousness, intelligence, and rationality are the accouterments of ego in this world, then couldn't Jung at least suspect that the director of intelligence and consciousness has an ego?
No, he couldn't. Throughout Jung's life his fear of personality and ego robbed him of a fuller understanding of the psyche.
Both psychic selves—the self and the Superself—are persons, Lord Krsna explains, and we can understand their respective positions only through devotional service:
To those who are constantly devoted to serving Me with love, I give the understanding by which they can come to Me. To show them special mercy, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance.
People who fear personality are especially averse to the supreme personality. Krsna obliges such people by supplying them with forgetfulness of Him, or by revealing Himself to them only as "a solidity underlying all existence."
On the other hand, those who have lent an impartial ear to the Vedic accounts of Krsna's wonderful transcendental character have nothing to fear. They fully devote themselves to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, carefully following the direction of the Vedic literatures and of Krsna's representatives. To these devotees Krsna is eager to reveal Himself as the Supersoul in their hearts and to destroy with the brilliance of transcendental knowledge the darkness causing us to falsely identify our eternally perfect egos with our temporary and fault-ridden bodies.
* * *
As for little old vitriolic me, the Supersoul poses no threat. I am happy to recognize that He is in charge of my psychic neighborhood. After all, He is not a stranger but my long-forgotten friend and master from the other side—the supremely conscious side—of the psychic tracks. And yes, the Supersoul is God. He was in the neighborhood first. And the perfection of my self is to integrate with Him by constantly endeavoring to please Him with my service.
But no, Supersoul and I are not the same person. He is God; I am His servant. And there's no threat of my being displaced, or replaced, or blended into some divinely obscure goo. The Supersoul and ourselves exist eternally, and the all-attractive opportunity we now have to awaken our loving relationships with Him is the true basis for the potent, nonsectarian faith Jung was seeking.
The collective unconscious, while intriguing, was not in the least bit lovable.
Transcendental Commentary on the Issues of the Day
Room For Improvement
by Nagaraja dasa
Remember all those well-intentioned New Year's resolutions you made a few months ago? Probably not. Most of us have trouble keeping them. But at least we had hope before science hit us with another of their "latest discoveries." According to new scientific evidence, you might as well not even make resolutions. Scientists now think that what we are has a lot more to do with heredity than with the circumstances we were raised under. We're born the way we are and we're stuck with it. It's in the genes.
Pretty discouraging, isn't it? It means that you were born with some character trait that forced you to start smoking, drinking, and all the other things you'd like to give up. But you can't give them up, because that genetic character trait has you under control. So don't try to improve yourself: learn to live with it.
Fortunately, those who listen to the age-old wisdom of the Vedic literature can keep right on making New Year's resolutions to their heart's content, and, more important, they can maintain hope that someday they might follow them. The Vedic literature affords humanity a much more exalted status than the lowly chemical existence deigned to us by modern science. Each of us is essentially an eternal spiritual being, and within each of us lies the free will not only to kick a few bad habits in the face but also to kick the habit of material life and its inherent suffering once and for all.
No doubt we all have character traits that seem to stick with us. And some of the bad habits we've picked up are deeply ingrained. But the obvious question is, "To whom do these character traits and bad habits belong?" They belong. temporarily, to the real person, whose own eternal personality yearns to express itself, seeking relief from layers of hereditary, cultural, and social conditioning. That eternal spark of divine consciousness, the living soul, is ultimately beyond the body and its genes and conditionings.
We tend to think that traits and habits are temporary, and we sometimes want to change them. We thought we could change, until scientists started telling us differently. But if we can't change our habits, why do we keep trying to?
Well. we can change. In fact, our attempts at self-improvement are an expression of our deep-seated desire to change back to our original, pure condition. The soul's problems are much more serious than a stubborn case of nail-biting or overeating. His real problem is that he has contracted the material disease of falsely identifying himself with the temporary, miserable material body. His original home is the realm of pure goodness, and in his original consciousness he is completely good and acts perfectly, fulfilling his natural function in his relationship with God.
God wants us back in that relationship. So, when we want to improve ourselves, He helps. But it takes more than a cursory shucking of a few layers of bad habits. Our worst habits are sinful activities like meat-eating, illicit sex. intoxication. and gambling. These must be given up.
Living a sinless life, however, is only the beginning of a total self-improvement course. To reenter our fully satisfying relationship with God, we have to be "good" not just morally, although that is certainly important, but also in the highest sense of the word: We have to become completely devoted and surrendered to God.
Our greatest challenge, then, is overcoming our insane unwillingness to accept the Supreme Personality of Godhead as our dearmost friend and well-wisher. We must resolve to defeat this formidable enemy, and we can get inspiration by hearing from the Vedic literature, the spiritual master, and the great God-realized saints of the past. If we listen instead only to the speculative conclusions of the scientists, we'll think we can't change, and we'll miss a great opportunity.
Cooling The Global Greenhouse
by Visnu dasa
The growing use of fossil fuel has so increased the atmospheric level of carbon dioxide and of certain other gases that they now pose a serious threat to life on earth. These gases create a "greenhouse effect," whereby heat from the sun-warmed earth reflects back down to the earth's surface, creating an ecological imbalance of cataclysmic proportions. The increase in the earth's surface temperature resulting from the greenhouse effect will begin to cause the polar ice caps to melt, raising ocean levels. By the year 2100 ocean levels could rise between two and twelve feet, flooding coastal cities, destroying farmlands and beaches, and polluting sources of irrigation and drinking water.
So what's the solution? We have to slow down. The increasing use of fossil fuels, which is causing the greenhouse effect, is due to our insatiable demand for energy. It takes a lot of fossil fuel to send us flying down the highways in fast cars and around the globe in much faster jets. It takes a lot of fossil fuel to keep the home fires burning in a zillion factories all over the planet. It takes a lot of fossil fuel to light up our increasingly dangerous cities so we can pursue the good life from sunset to sunrise. And it takes a lot of fossil fuel to produce an endless barrage of unnecessary consumer products.
Some people think we simply have to replace fossil fuel with another fuel. No need to slow down, they say; we have to progress. Fossil fuels have served us well until now, and better fuels are on the horizon. We need only push ahead. But to replace fossil fuels with other energy sources misses the point. This world has been created with a spiritual purpose, and any solution not in line with that purpose inevitably creates more problems.
The best solution is to be satisfied with less. Of course no one likes to hear this proposal. And no amount of rhetoric from scientists or politicians ever seems enough to convince the members of today's hedonistic society to slow down. When things get tight, we don't slow down. We just scheme all the more so that we don't have to suffer with less.
You can't force people to abruptly change their lifestyles. What's required instead is a change of consciousness, a change in the way we perceive our existence here. Our limited environment can't keep up with all of us trying to enjoy life with gusto. Mother Earth has plenty to give, but we have to learn how to work within her natural order, not against it.
The Vedic literatures explain that we are meant to use this life and the bountiful gifts of Mother Earth not for selfish sensual gratification but for making progress in understanding God and our relationship with Him. When self-realization becomes the goal of life, we naturally live more simply, satisfied with what we actually need for a peaceful, happy life. Once we discover that the pleasures of spiritual life far exceed the flickering sensations of so-called material happiness, we will easily sacrifice the useless commodities that now entice us.
We have to stop believing "the one with the most toys wins." No amount of material commodities can satisfy the innate hankering of the soul. We don't need more cars, stereos, and VCRs. We need a genuine awakening of spiritual consciousness. The Vedic scriptures recommend the chanting of the holy names of God—especially the Hare Krsna mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—as the most effective means in this age for awakening our spiritual consciousness.
When we awaken our spiritual consciousness, our material fever will subside and our lives will come into balance. We will be in harmony with the creator and with the creation, thus relieving the threat of the greenhouse effect once and for all.
Cuisine and Continence [Part II]
When we control our tongues by proper eating, all our senses are controlled—a requisite for spiritual life.
by Visakha-Devi Dasi
Last month we discussed the importance of continence and how the vegetarian and nonvegetarian cuisines influence one's ability to remain continent. This month we'll explore continence in relation to control of the tongue. Srila Prabhupada writes,
The demands of the body can be divided into three categories—the demands of the tongue, the belly, and the genitals. One may observe that these three senses are physically situated in a straight line, as far as the body is concerned, and that the bodily demands begin with the tongue.
Thus, controlling the demands of the tongue in turn controls the demands of the stomach and of the genitals. Since the functions of the tongue are to taste and to vibrate, tongue-control is demonstrated by how much and what one tastes and vibrates.
"There is no possibility of becoming a yogi," Lord Krsna declares, "if one eats too much or eats too little." In other words, one should eat what is necessary to keep the body and soul together and avoid whimsical fasting. The scriptures recommend fasting for spiritual advancement, not for health or any other material purposes.
More important for continence than avoiding overeating is eating only Krsna prasadam. Again Srila Prabhupada explains,
If one can restrain the demands of the tongue by limiting its activities to the eating of prasadam, the urges of the belly and genitals can automatically be controlled. ... There are six kinds of rasas [tastes], and if one is agitated by any one of them, one becomes controlled by the urges of the tongue. Some persons are attracted to the eating of meat, fish, crabs, eggs, and other things produced by semen and blood and eaten in the form of dead bodies. Others are attracted by eating vegetables, creepers, spinach, or milk products, but all for the satisfaction of the tongue's demands. Such eating for sense gratification—including the use of extra quantities of spices like chili and tamarind—is to be given up by Krsna conscious persons.
However, the story doesn't end with eating only prasadam. for if one accepts prasadam only for its palatable taste, he's also trying to satisfy his tongue. Thus this scriptural warning: "That person who runs here and there seeking to gratify his palate and who is always attached to the desires of his stomach ... is unable to attain Krsna." A devotee eats opulent prasadam only on special festival days, for on a daily basis opulent prasadam will endanger his health and his ability to remain continent and to grow spiritually. Nourishing, tasty, simple vegetarian meals, therefore, are the mainstay in a devotee's diet.
As for the vibrating function of the tongue, a devotee talks only of transcendental subjects. His heart is immersed in Krsna, and he takes pleasure in discussing Krsna's qualities, pastimes, and devotional service. In this way, the devotee so endears himself to the Lord that the Lord says, "The pure devotee is always within the core of My heart, and I am always in the heart of the pure devotee. My devotees do not know anything else but Me, and I do not know anyone else but them" (Bhag. 9.4.68).
A nondevotee may try to control the tasting and vibrating demands of the tongue, but his reasons for doing so are different from a devotee's. For health a nondevotee may avoid meat-eating. For social prestige and for keeping trim a nondevotee may observe moderation in eating, and for the sake of his listeners, he'll tailor his talk to interest and please.
A devotee's goal, however, is not to maintain his health, not to preserve his social status, and not to seek approval. A devotee's prime motivation in all matters is to please Lord Krsna. So a devotee's sense control is not a self-created bother that is cast off from time to time, but bliss. Srila Prabhupada writes,
One who has tasted the beauty of the Supreme Lord Krsna in the course of his advancement in Krsna consciousness no longer has a taste for dead, material things.... The result of Krsna consciousness is that one becomes increasingly enlightened, and he enjoys life with a thrill, not only for some time, but at every moment.
As a devotee immerses himself in the beauty and tenderness of devotion, he liberates his spirit, transcends the stress and distress of nondevotional life, and tastes a higher happiness. The devotee relishes Krsna's prasadam and hearing and talking about Krsna naturally, just as a young boy and girl take pleasure in being together. Continence, therefore, is achieved automatically when the tongue and other senses engage in their ultimate engagement of serving Krsna.
(Recipes from The Hare Krishna Book of Vegetarian Cooking, by Adi-raja dasa)
Preparation time: 1 hour 15 minutes
8 tablespoons melted butter
1. In a large mixing bowl, rub half the melted butter into the flour with your finger-tips until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the salt. Gradually add the cold water. (Some cooks make a richer dough by substituting yogurt for the water, or by using cold water and yogurt.) Mix with your hands to form a dough. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead it until it's smooth and firm. Then gather the dough together in a lump, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside for half an hour.
2. Stir-fry the apples and the other half of the butter over a medium flame for 5 minutes. Then add the spices and sugar. Lower the heat and continue to stir until most of the liquid cooks off and the mixture thickens. Then turn it onto a plate to cool.
3. Knead the dough again and form it into 10 balls. Grease the rolling board and roll out the balls like thick puris. Place a tablespoon of filling on half of each round and fold the round in half over the filling. Moisten the dough where the two edges meet; then press the two layers of dough together along the edge of the filling and pare away the excess. Now pick up a samosa in one hand and use the other to pinch and twist the sealed edge in successive folds to form a pleated top. Each samosa should have 10 to 12 pressed-down folds. Make sure there are no holes by which the filling can escape during the deep-frying. Prepare all the samosas in this way and arrange them on a plate.
4. Heat the ghee over a medium flame in a vessel for deep-frying. Put in as many samosas at a time as will fit without touching one another. Fry them for 10 to 12 minutes, turning them gently with a slotted spoon until they are golden brown on both sides. Remove them and put them in a colander to drain. Sprinkle with the powdered sugar, or sugar-coat them by dipping them in thick syrup. Offer to Krsna hot or cold.
For a variation, almost any sweet fruit, such as strawberries, peaches, pineapples, mangoes, or figs, can be used for the filling.
Preparation time: 45 minutes
1 pound fresh okra
1. Wrap a piece of cheesecloth around the panir and gently squeeze out most of the water. Remove the cheesecloth, put the panir into a bowl, and set it aside. Grind the cumin, ginger, chilies. and coriander leaves into a fine paste with a mortar and pestle or electric grinder. Mix the paste, along with the turmeric and salt, into the panir. Knead it into a smooth dough. Cover it with a moist cloth and set it aside.
2. Wash the okra pods and pat them dry with paper towels. Trim off their heads and tips. Slit each pod lengthwise, being careful not to cut all the way to the ends or through to the opposite side. Gently pry back one side of the cut okra with your thumb, then the other side, carefully loosening the pod from the seeds in the center. Stuff each pod with just enough panir mixture to fill it. Take care not to force the edges too wide, otherwise it will break in half.
3. Heat the ghee in a wide saucepan. When it begins to smoke, toss in the asafetida. Add the stuffed okra pods, carefully placing them with the stuffing facing upward. Reduce the flame to very low and cook covered for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and turn the pods stuffing-side down. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes more until they become golden-brown. Lift the pods out gently and offer to Krsna.
Vegetable and Dal Stew
Preparation time: 45 minutes
5 cups water
1. Start by putting the water, with the salt added, over a flame to boil. Sort, wash, and drain the dal. Add the dal to the boiling water. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove any froth and dal skins that collect on the surface; then cover and cook over a medium flame for 15 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. The dal should become soft but not mushy.
2. While the dal is cooking, wash and cut the vegetables into small cubes. Break up the lump of tamarind, boil it in a small amount of water, and extract the juice.
3. Heat the ghee in a saucepan and fry the mustard seeds. After they finish popping, add the powdered spices, fry for a few seconds, and then add the vegetables. Stir-fry for 8 to 10 minutes, until some of the ghee is absorbed into the eggplant and all the vegetables are slightly browned. Add the grated coconut and fry for 2 more minutes.
4. By this time the dal should be ready. Empty the vegetables and the tamarind juice into the dal and mix well. Lower the heat and cook uncovered until the dal is fully cooked and thick and the vegetables are soft. Offer to Krsna.
Saffron-flavored Milk with Pistachios
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 cups
4 cups milk
Bring the milk, saffron, cloves, and cinnamon to boil in a saucepan. Adjust the heat so that the milk maintains a rolling boil for 5 minutes. Then remove from the heat, stir in the honey, and discard the cloves. Sprinkle the ground pistachio nuts over the top. Offer to Krsna steaming hot.
"Restless Rascals Can't Understand the Soul"
This is the continuation of a conversation between His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his disciples on April 17, 1977, in Bombay.
Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, when we try to show people that they're spiritual beings, it's awfully hard for them to see. And when we explain how the soul transmigrates from one lifetime to the next, from one body to the next—sometimes it's next to impossible for people to see.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Transmigration—how can it be shown? How can it be seen by the naked eye? Even the mind, intelligence, and ego you cannot see; although they are material, they are so subtle that you cannot see them. And what to speak of the soul?
But for instance, though you cannot see my mind directly, you can see its activities. In this way you can see my mind. Therefore you have to accept its existence. And though with these limited material senses you cannot see my soul, or spiritual form, still you can see my soul acting in so many ways. Therefore you have to accept the existence of my soul.
Another example. All around you here, you have the sky, the ethereal element. But you cannot see it. So where is the proof that the ethereal element exists? [Claps.] That you cannot see with your eyes. But you can hear it with your ears. Sabda, sounds—sound is the proof of the existence of the ethereal element. You cannot see the ethereal. But it is there.
Sound is the proof for the presence of the ethereal element. And to prove the presence of the soul—which is much, much more subtle than the ethereal element—again you must rely on sound. You need to hear from spiritually realized persons and authoritative scriptures.
Disciple: So with these limited material senses, we can perceive the soul only indirectly?
Srila Prabhupada: That's all. To perceive the soul—which is far, far beyond your perceptive power—you need the sruti, the authoritative scriptures. Sruti means "what is heard"—from the Lord and from spiritually realized sages who know about the existence beyond matter.
So you have to get your perception of the soul by hearing from the bona fide spiritual authorities. That is knowledge. Otherwise, who has seen the soul with these paltry eyes? These modern rascals—who among them has seen the soul? They are educated so grossly.
But everything can be perceived. Not that everything has to be seen with these eyes. We often give this example: as a newborn infant, you cannot determine who is your father simply by your eyes. You have to hear your mother reassuring you, "Here is your father." That's all. You cannot make some experiment through your seeing power. You simply have to hear from your mother, the bona fide authority on the subject of who is your father. You have to hear. That's the proof. And the proof of the soul's existence is sruti, what you hear from the spiritually realized authorities.
Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, wouldn't another proof be that everyone can, say, look at his hands and recall years earlier, when he had the hands of a baby or a young child? So everyone can figure out, "Now that my body is so totally different, my feeling of still being the same person has to be coming from my soul." In other words, what stays the same is your soul.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. And here is yet another example. You cannot see scent, but still, you know whether the scent is nice or not very nice. Let us say a rose scent is being carried by a breeze. You cannot see the rose scent or how it is being carried. But you can smell it and know without a doubt, "Ah, this is a rose scent."
Similarly, the soul is being carried along through this material world on the subtle breeze of his materially conditioned mind and intelligence and his false ego, his misidentification with matter. But you cannot see the soul directly. You have to learn to see the soul by hearing from the authorities, such as Lord Krsna. Apareyam itas tv anyam prakrtim viddhi me param: "Beyond this material nature, there is another prakrti, another nature." That is the spiritual nature, in which na jayate mriyate va—"There is no birth or death."
But at present the soul, who is a tiny spark of that undying spiritual nature, is being carried along by his materially covered mind and intelligence, and by his false ego. Now, when our gross material eyes see his body cremated, we may mistakenly think that he is finished, that everything, including the soul, is finished.
The atheists will talk like this. Bhasmi-bhutasya dehasya kutah punar agamano bhavet: Once your present body is burnt to ashes, where is the question of your having come from a previous life or of your going to a next life? You are finished.
The atheists will talk like this, but Krsna does not talk like this. No. He says, na hanyate hanyamane sarire: "Even when the material body is destroyed, the soul cannot be destroyed."
So whom will you follow—the atheists? Why not follow Krsna? That is our proposal.
The atheists will say, "Just see. The body has been burnt to ashes. There—where is the person? The person is dead."
Krsna says, "No. He is not dead. He has gone on to another body." And dhiras tatra na muhyati: "Those who are sober are not disturbed by the outward show of the body's death. They know the soul who lived within has now gone to his next life." The real person is still living. He has simply gone from one dwelling place to another.
But who can understand this fact? Only the sober, Krsna says. We have to become sober, cool-headed, and mature.
Take the example of a restless child. Now, how can you convince this restless child about higher philosophy, the science of the soul? It is not possible. But a sober person, a cool-headed person—he can be convinced. So this is a childish civilization. It is not a sober civilization.
We have to become sober, spiritually intelligent, cool-headed—not over identifying with the outer body and restlessly rushing about, driven by bodily whims. But these so-called modern men—these restless rascals—have built their whole civilization on rushing about and being driven by bodily whims. Now, how will they become sober and cool-headed? (To be continued.)
Festivals & Calendar
Krsna conscious devotees follow a spiritual calendar that divides the year into twelve months, each named for a different form of Krsna. The devotees at the Hare Krsna center nearest you will gladly tell you more about the meaning of the festivals listed here.
Month of Madhusudana
(April 15-May 13)
May 7—Appearance anniversary of Srimati Sita-devi, the consort of Lord Ramacandra. Appearance anniversary of Srimati Jahnava-devi, the consort of Lord Nityananda. Disappearance anniversary of Srila Madhu Pandita, a great devotee of Lord Caitanya.
May 9—Mohini Ekadasi. Fasting from grains and beans.
May 11—Disappearance anniversary of Srila Jayananda Prabhu.
May 12—Nrsimha Caturdasi, the appearance anniversary of Lord Nrsimhadeva, the half-man, half-lion incarnation. Fasting till dusk, followed by feasting.
May 13—Appearance anniversary of Srila Madhavendra Puri, the spiritual master of Lord Caitanya's spiritual master. Appearance anniversary of Srila Srinivasa Acarya, one of the principal associates of Lord Caitanya. Disappearance anniversary of Srila Paramesvara Puri, an associate of Lord Caitanya.
Month of Trivikrama
(May 14-June 11)
May 17—Disappearance anniversary of Sri Ramananda Raya, an intimate associate of Lord Caitanya.
May 23—Apara Ekadasi. Fasting from grains and beans.
May 24—Appearance anniversary of Srila Vrndavana dasa Thakura, author of Sri Caitanya-Bhagavata, a famous biography on Lord Caitanya.
June 7—Disappearance anniversary of Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana, a famous spiritual master in the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya (disciplic succession) and the author of Govinda Bhasya, an important commentary on Vedanta-sutra. Appearance anniversary of Srimati Gangamata Gosvamini, a famous woman spiritual master in the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya.
June 8—Pandava-nirjala Ekadasi. Fasting from grains and beans.
June 10—Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami's chipped-rice-and-yogurt festival at Panihati.
June 11—Snana-yatra, the bathing festival of Lord Jagannatha. Disappearance anniversary of Srila Mukunda Datta and Srila Sridhara Pandita, two great devotees of Lord Caitanya.
A look at the worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
Demonstrations Spotlight Abuse of Soviet Devotees of Krsna
Recent demonstrations by Hare Krsna devotees in Reykjavik, Vienna, and Stockholm have attracted much media coverage and helped to increase public awareness of the plight of members of the Hare Krsna movement in the Soviet Union. Devotees in the Soviet Union are denied the right to freely practice Krsna consciousness. They are sometimes imprisoned or placed in psychiatric hospitals and administered heavy doses of drugs.
In Reykjavik, Janesvara dasa and Parvata Muni dasa staged a seventy-two-hour hunger strike outside the Saga Hotel, where members of the Soviet delegation and Soviet media stayed during the meetings between Premier Gorbachev and President Reagan. Devotees distributed copies of the Russian language edition of Srila Prabhupada's Bhagavad-gita As It Is to the Soviet delegation.
In Vienna, Austrian devotees of Krsna chanted the Hare Krsna mantra and picketed the conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe while peace talks were going on between U.S. Secretary of State, George Schultz, and USSR Foreign Minister, Eduard Shevardnadze. Kirtiraja dasa, chairman of the Committee to Free the Soviet Hare Krishnas, gave Shevardnadze a Russian Bhagavad-gita. A photo of the devotees' demonstration appeared in the international edition of Newsweek.
In Stockholm, two hundred fifty devotees marched on the Soviet embassy, carrying signs, banners, torches, and flags. At the gates of the embassy, Mr. S. L. Sharma, president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Denmark, addressed reporters, calling the persecution of the Soviet Hare Krsna devotees "an insult to the Indian population."
Devotee Publishes Book on Vegetarianism
New York City—Bala Books recently announced the publication of Food for the Spirit: Vegetarianism and the World Religions, by Steven Rosen (Satyaraja dasa). The book includes a Preface by Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer, an avid proponent of vegetarianism. Mr. Singer writes, "Author Steven Rosen . . . .correctly points out that various philosophers and religious leaders have tried to convince their following that animals are nothing more than machines, put on earth for our pleasure, with no purpose of their own. Mr. Rosen smashes this idea, however, and every reader who is predisposed to the vegetarian ideal will enjoy his logic and reason in doing this."
In Food for the Spirit, Rosen explores the often misunderstood vegetarian teachings of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Rosen argues that although compassion for animals is one of the essential truths of the world's great scriptures, that truth has often been adjusted, maligned, condemned, and erased to suit the whims of political and religious figures.
Food for the Spirit is available at bookstores and health food stores, as well as directly from Bala Books. See "Resources," page 26.
by Visakha-Devi Dasi
Every day millions of people see the various sights of New York City, and every one of them reacts a little differently. A devotee's reaction to New York is unique, because wherever he looks he's reminded of passages he has read in Srila Prabhupada's books. What follows is a sampling of New York sights, accompanied by passages, either quoted directly or paraphrased, from Srila Prabhupada's purports to the Second Canot of the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
We welcome your letters.
I have been privileged to read two issues of your Back to Godhead magazine. You publish wonderful stories of a very high standard. The gospel cuts across the borders of every religion. The ultimate goal of your magazine is perfect life for mankind, and I praise you for it. May God continue to help you in propagating these wonderful tidings of His.
I have read some works on life after death, yet no one has surpassed your teachings about reincarnation. Therefore I would love to have more of your publications in my library, including past copies of Back to Godhead magazine.
Johnson Ose Ajimatanrareje
I've read a few issues of Back to Godhead and I find myself agreeing with you on a lot of points. But there's one thing that always bothers me as far as religion is concerned. That is, is there any way to really know the truth beyond just believing that something is true? I came across the phrase "the science of bhakti-yoga" in your magazine, but if it's a science, how can you prove it?
SADAPUTA DASA* REPLIES: It is often said that religion is based either on subjective experiences that cannot be verified by others or on received doctrines that cannot be verified at all. Therefore, the charge goes, religion is a matter of blind faith. But this charge does not apply to the process of bhakti-yoga, for bhakti-yoga is based on verifiable observations. True, a person using ordinary sense perception cannot verify the realizations attained by someone practicing bhakti-yoga. But these realizations can be verified by other persons who are also able to exercise their higher sensory capacities.
We can establish this point with the analogy of two seeing persons observing a sunset in the presence of a congenitally blind person. The seeing persons are able to discuss what they see, and each feels confident that both he and the other person really are witnessing a sunset. If necessary, they can confirm this conclusion by consulting other seeing persons. In contrast, the congenitally blind person cannot verify the existence of the sunset, and he is probably unable to form a realistic conception of what it would be like to see it. He can either accept the existence of sunsets on blind faith, reject their existence with equal blindness, or declare himself an agnostic.
One might say that it is unfair for a few people to lay claim to knowledge that can be obtained only by methods unavailable to people in general. But this charge is actually more applicable to certain fields of modern science than to bhakti-yoga. For example, physicists use multimillion-dollar particle accelerators and elaborate techniques of mathematical analysis to demonstrate the existence of certain "fundamental" particles. The common man has neither access to such expensive equipment nor the knowledge needed to use it properly. Since these assets are difficult to acquire, the common man has no choice but to accept the physicists' findings on faith. Nonetheless, the physicists are confident that they can verify one another's observations, and they would not accept the charge that their conclusions are invalid because they cannot be checked by laymen.
For a given class of observations to be considered objective, the general rule is that a group of responsible people must be able to verify them. These people must agree on a clear theoretical understanding of what observations are to be expected and how they are to be interpreted. Modern physics is based on such a group of experts, and the same can be said of the process of bhakti-yoga. The system of bhakti-yoga is maintained and propagated by a disciplic succession of teachers, or gurus, who have reached a higher platform of personal realization. These teachers adhere to a standard of knowledge contained in books such as Bhagavad-gita, and their conclusions and conduct can be checked by the larger community of realized persons, or sadhus. Qualified sadhus can discuss and evaluate the higher realizations of bhakti-yoga just as readily as expert physicists can discuss and evaluate the findings of experimental physics.
Since bhakti-yoga is based on verifiable observations, it is dependent neither on blind faith nor on speculative arguments. Yet any difficult undertaking requires faith, and the process of bhakti-yoga is no exception. For example, before studying modern chemistry the prospective student must have faith that the many experiments on which the subject is based actually work. He cannot know in advance that they will work, but without faith that they will he would not be motivated to carry out the arduous labor needed to master the subject. Normally, the student will begin with a certain amount of initial faith, and this faith will grow as he acquires more and more experience. The same gradual development of faith occurs in bhakti-yoga.
[*Sadaputa dasa received a Ph.D. in mathematics from Cornell in 1974, specializing in probability theory and statistical mechanics.]
Notes from the Editor
Facts of Reincarnation
A poem based on an illustration from the Bhagavad-gita As It Is.
From lust this woman
You want to be naked?
Teeth and jaws of a tiger
As you eat up lobster pus,
You get what you are
The painting is to shock them:
Sometimes you can see it—
You get what you are
Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare
Tap into the reservoir of pleasure. By chanting the names of God, you'll immediately be in touch with the source of all pleasure. The name Krsna means the all-attractive person, and Rama means the supreme pleasure. Hare is the form of addressing Hara, God's devotional energy, to whom we pray to be engaged in the Lord's service. Because God is unlimited and absolute, He is fully present in the sound of His names. So, just as darkness cannot stand in the presence of light, by chanting God's names, all miseries go away.
Because we are spiritual and eternal, our natural state is one of unrestricted happiness. But forgetting our original positions as loving servants and devotees of Krsna, we suffer the pains of material life. By chanting God's names, we become purified of all material desires, which separate us from Krsna, and we regain entrance into the eternal, blissful spiritual realm.
The spiritual realm is not restricted by time and space; it's always within reach. And you can experience it. Chant the Hare Krsna mantra—and taste the pleasure.