It's time we got to know the other knower in our body.
A lecture in Bombay on September 26, 1973
ksetra-jnam capi mam viddhi
"O scion of Bharata, you should understand that I am also the knower in all bodies, and to understand this body and its knower is called knowledge. That is My opinion." (Bhagavad-gita 13.3)
While discussing the subject matter of the body and the owner of the body, the soul and the Supersoul, we shall find three topics of study: the Lord, the living entity, and matter. In every field of activity, or in every body, there are two souls: the Supersoul and the individual soul. The Mayavadi philosophers say that there is only one soul—the Supersoul. But here Krsna, the authoritative source of knowledge, says there are two souls: the individual soul and the Supersoul, atma and Paramatma.
Because the Supersoul is the plenary expansion of Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Krsna says, "I am also the knower, but I am not the individual owner of the body." The Supersoul, or Krsna, is the knower of the pains and pleasures of every body, whereas the individual soul is the knower of the pains and pleasures of his own body only. Krsna says, avinasi tu tad viddhi yena sarvam idam tatam: "The consciousness of the individual soul is spread all over the body." The soul, by his potency, spreads all over the body. Similarly, because Krsna is the Supersoul. His consciousness is spread not only in my individual body but in all bodies.
There are 8,400.000 species, and Krsna's consciousness pervades them all. He knows everything that is taking place in every body. So Krsna understands when we become conscious of Him. Krsna is within your heart, so He can understand your purpose. We cannot cheat Krsna. Krsna can immediately understand how serious and sincere you are to understand Him, to approach Him, or to go back home, back to Godhead.
As soon as Krsna understands that you are very serious. He takes care of you especially. Being the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna is equal to everyone. Samo 'ham sarva-bhutesu na me dvesyo 'sti na priyah: Krsna is not envious, nor is He especially inclined to anyone. God's position is neutrality. He likes everyone. That is also stated in the Bhagavad-gita: suhrdam sarva-bhutanam jnatva mam santim rcchati. He is the friend of everyone. We are seeking friendship with so many people to satisfy our desires, but if we make Krsna our friend, all our desires will be fulfilled.
In the Upanisads it is said that two birds are sitting as friends in the same tree, the body. So you should understand that Krsna is your best friend. Krsna says He's the friend of everyone. That friendship is equally distributed. But if one becomes a special devotee, engaged in the service of the Lord with love and affection. Krsna is especially inclined to him. That is Krsna's mercy to the devotee. Krsna is equal to everyone, but He is especially inclined to the devotee who is engaged in His service with love and faith. He takes special care of the devotee; He guides him and gives him intelligence. What kind of intelligence? Yena mam upayanti te: He gives the devotee the clue how to go back home, back to Godhead.
Krsna does not give him intelligence for gaining material prosperity. That is entrusted to Maya, or Durgadevi Krsna's illusory energy. Therefore people are not much interested in worshiping Krsna. They are generally interested in worshiping Goddess Durga or Lord Siva, because by worshiping Siva or Durga, they get material opulence. Worship of the demigods is a hundred percent materialism. There is no question of spiritual life. Therefore Krsna says, kamais tais tair hrta-jnanah prapadyante 'nya-devatah: "The intelligence of those who are interested in worshiping demigods is taken away."
Maya is working in two ways: praksepatmika-sakti and avaranatmika-sakti. Avaranatmika-sakti means she is covering the reality, just as when the cloud covers the sunshine and we cannot see. For a few days now it's been cloudy. We cannot see the sun. But that does not mean there is no sun in the sky.
So Maya does not allow us to see Krsna. That is one sakti. or energy: avaranatmika-sakti. And another sakti is praksepatmika-sakti: after covering the consciousness, she throws one away from Krsna. In this way maya-sakti is acting. Krsna therefore says:
daivi hy esa guna-mayi
"Maya is very powerful, but if one is very rigid in devotional service, he can overcome the influence of Maya." Krsna is there in the body. He's always ready to help us, provided we are serious about Him. That is Krsna's mercy.
This is the process of pleasing Krsna. We are sitting here together, and we are talking about Krsna and Caitanya Mahaprabhu's mission. Caitanya Mahaprabhu ordered, yare dekha, tare kaha 'krsna'-upadesa/ amara ajnaya guru hana tara' ei desa: "Instruct everyone to follow the orders of Lord Krsna as they are given in Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. In this way become a spiritual master and try to liberate everyone in this land."
This is our mission. The Krsna consciousness movement is for preaching the teachings of Krsna: Bhagavad-gita As It Is. This is called Krsna-upadesa. Another Krsna-upadesa is instruction about Krsna. Bhagavad-gita is the instruction given by Krsna, and Srimad-Bhagavatam is the instruction given by Vyasadeva and other sages about Krsna. Both of them are Krsna-katha: topics of Krsna.
If we want to improve, if we want to make our life successful, then we must engage ourselves in this program of Krsna consciousness, or hearing about Krsna. Krsna is within your heart, and so as soon as you are very serious and eager to know about Krsna, you become liberated. Simply try to understand Krsna. This is the Vedic instruction: kasmin bhagavo vijnate sarvam idam vijnatam bhavati—if you simply understand Krsna, then all other things become automatically known. You don't have to make a separate endeavor to know. You will know what Paramatma is, what Brahman is, what this material world is. what our relationship with this world is—everything will be revealed.
In the Bhagavad-gita [10.11] Krsna says,
"To show them special mercy, I, dwelling in their hearts, destroy with the shining lamp of knowledge the darkness born of ignorance." If you actually become Krsna conscious, the result will be that you'll get special favor from Krsna. Krsna is especially favorable to the devotees.
Hearing about Krsna is the beginning of becoming Krsna conscious. Caitanya Mahaprabhu also accepted this. We have to be submissive, not like the speculators who think, "Now I have become Brahman." But everyone is Brahman. There is no question of becoming Brahman. We have now forgotten that we are Brahman. We are misidentifying with this body. This is maya. It is not that by some process I become Brahman. I am Brahman, but on account of maya my knowledge is covered. I am thinking I am a product of this material world—that I am American or I am Indian. I am thinking in terms of the soil where I have taken birth. All over the world, instead of worshiping Krsna, everyone is worshiping the land of his birth. That is going on under the name of so many "isms."
Actually, we are part and parcel of Krsna. Krsna is Parabrahman; therefore we, being part and parcel of Krsna, are also Brahman, just as particles of gold are also gold. So there is no question of becoming Brahman. We are already Brahman. We simply have to know. "I am not this body; I am spirit soul, part and parcel of Krsna." That is knowledge: that I am Brahman.
Now, as soon as we are perfectly situated in that spiritual knowledge, there is no lamentation: brahma-bhutah prasannatma na socati na kanksati. Everyone is lamenting because he's a sudra. The sudra's business is to lament. But when one understands Brahman, he does not lament We have seen many brahmanas who are not very materially opulent, but they are happy. They are happy with Krsna. That is the brahmanas business. A brahmana must be a Vaisnava—Krsna conscious.
If a brahmana is not a Vaisnava, then he cannot become a guru. That is the injunction of the sastra [scripture]: sat-karma-nipuno vipro mantra-tantra-visaradah/ avaisnavo gurur na syad vaisnavah sva-paco guruh. A vipra is a learned brahmana. One who has studied all the Vedic literatures and has acquired knowledge is called vipra. Simply studying Vedic literature will not do. One must realize what Brahman is; then he becomes a brahmana.
Brahmana is a qualification. It is not by birth. Just as a high-court judge's son is not a high-court judge unless he has the qualifications of a high-court judge, similarly the son of a brahmana is not a brahmana by birth. When he has the brahminical qualifications, he becomes a brahmana. Those qualifications are described in the Bhagavad-gita (18.42]:
samo damas tapah saucam
"Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom, and religiousness—these are the natural qualities by which the brahmanas work."
So these things are lost Therefore India's position is now chaos and confusion because you have lost this Vedic civilization. You have lost Krsna consciousness. You have lost God consciousness. You are being directed by your whims. This is the very lamentable condition of India. Krsna consciousness is India's original culture. Krsna appeared on this land. Krsna is not for any particular land, but still, Krsna appeared in this holy land of Bharata-varsa, in Mathura.
It is the duty of the Indians to understand Krsna culture—the Krsna consciousness cultural movement—and take part in it seriously. That is the instruction of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He says, bharata-bhumite haila manusya-janma yara janma sarthaka kari' kara para-upakara: "Anyone who has taken birth in the holy land of Bharata-varsa must take advantage of the Vedic knowledge and work for the welfare of others."
In the other part of the world, there is no such advantage as Vedic literature and Vedic knowledge. Unfortunately, the Indians are neglecting this Vedic perfection, whereas Europeans and Americans are taking interest. So we are not of course concerned with any particular nation or country. Our business is to carry out the order of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu: yare dekha, tare kaha 'krsna'-upadesa. Whomever you meet—it doesn't matter whether he is Indian, European, American, or African—he should be instructed about Krsna consciousness. Then his life will be successful, and the life of the preacher of Krsna consciousness will also become successful.
This is the Krsna consciousness movement. The beginning is to hear about Krsna in order to understand Him. We give everyone the chance to hear about Krsna. This is our program. We are trying to construct a temple here, not for making any profit, but to give people a chance to hear about Krsna. We are opening temples all over the world just to give people the chance to hear about Krsna.
As soon as the individual soul is seriously engaged in hearing about Krsna, the dirty things within his heart become cleansed. And as soon as the heart is cleansed, all his problems in this material world are solved. Cleansing the heart means to understand that we are not Krsna but part and parcel of Krsna, and our duty is to serve Krsna.
The Mayavadi philosophers are thinking that they are Krsna: "I am God." That is unclean. Because their intelligence is not yet clear, they are thinking that they are Krsna. No. Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and we are eternal servants of Krsna. Therefore Krsna demands in the Bhagavad-gita [18.66], sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: "Just surrender to Me."
It is the right of the master to tell the servant, "You surrender." Similarly, Krsna comes to teach this. because we are eternal servants of Krsna. The Mayavadi philosophers cannot understand this. The servant wants to become the master. That is not possible. If the servant remains a faithful servant that is the perfection of his life. If the servant wants to artificially become the master, that is only a botheration.
The Krsna consciousness movement is educating everyone to understand this fact: that everyone is the eternal servant of Krsna. Don't try to imitate Krsna. That is a botheration. You cannot be happy that way. If one wants to artificially become something he is not, then it is simply a botheration. There is no happiness. Artificial life is not happiness. Natural life is happiness.
Naturally we are servants of Krsna. If we don't serve Krsna, then we have to serve maya. Those who are not Krsna conscious have given up the service of Krsna. but they have accepted the service of so many other things. Somebody is thinking. "I am the servant of my country"; somebody is thinking. "I am the servant of my family"; somebody is thinking. "I am the servant of my wife"; or someone is thinking. "I am the servant of my office boss." Or somebody is thinking. "I am the servant of my dog." That is also going on.
So one must remain a servant, but if he does not become the servant of Krsna, he has to become the servant of so many things. He cannot give up his position as a servant; that's a fact. Therefore one who is intelligent—one who is actually intelligent—thinks. "If my position is to become a servant, why not become the servant of the Supreme?" This is intelligence.
We are the servant of our senses. Our senses are dictating so many nonsense things, and we are serving them. Therefore one who is not a servant of the senses, one who becomes the servant of Krsna. becomes the master of his senses. Such a person is called svami or gosvami. All over the world, everyone is the servant of the senses: godasa. One has to become gosvami.
So Krsna is advising: "I am in everyone's heart." You can take advice from Krsna. Krsna is ready. One name for Krsna is caitya-guru. "the guru situated within your heart." Krsna comes out as the instructor guru or the initiator guru, and He is sitting within the heart as caitya-guru. Krsna is ready to help us in two ways: as the external guru and the internal guru. The internal guru is Krsna Himself, and the external guru is His manifestation as the spiritual master. So we should take advantage of these two gurus and make our life successful. This is the Krsna consciousness movement.
Thank you very much. Hare Krsna.
Yes, the universe is God, as many people believe,
by Mathuresa Dasa
In contemplating God as "the greatest." people sometimes conceive of Him (Her, It) in terms of expansive natural phenomena like the sky, the wind, or space. Even aborigines are known to wonder at and worship such natural spectacles as a great mountain, a waterfall, lightning, or an earthquake. And the same tendency is present in civilized societies as well. This search for the greatest may finally lead us to the concept of God-as-everything or God-as-the-universe. the complete and all-inclusive ultimate entity.
The Vedic literature describes many forms and conceptions of God, including this God-as-the-universe conception, which Vedic scholars call the Virat-rupa, or the universal form. The universal form is a material conception of God in that it is composed of the material elements, and in that it can therefore be grasped by materialists—by those who believe that nothing but matter exists, and who are prone to deny God in the forms in which He is most conventionally worshiped.
To say that the universe is God, however, is only a half-truth, since the material nature is one of God's energies, not His personal self. God is both identical with and different from His energies, just as the sun is different from the sunshine. Full-truth God, according to Vedic sources, is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Krsna, whose material energy we contemplate in the universal form. The Brahma-samhita states, "The supreme controller is Krsna. He has an eternal, blissful, spiritual body. He is the origin of everything. He has no origin. He is the cause of all causes."
The trouble is, individuals who have in all sincerity undertaken the search for the greatest and who have arrived at the conception of God-as-the-universe have almost inevitably, along the way, left behind all concepts of personality. Persons, in their experience, are imperfect, incomplete, and limited. Therefore God, the unlimited, must be impersonal.
While the universal form is indeed made of an impersonal energy, Vedic authorities seek to correct the notion that God Himself is ultimately impersonal. God is a person, they insist though not a limited person like us. He is complete, perfect and unlimited, and when we limited persons redirect our attention and service to Him, we rise above His impersonal material energy and regain our completeness as parts of His entourage. Krsna declares, "This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it"
To re-accustom the sincere searcher to the idea of personality, the Vedic literature makes a more or less imaginary comparison of the universe with God's personal body. Here, in a prayer from the Tenth Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, is one of many descriptions of the universal form:
My dear Lord, fire is Your mouth, the earth is Your feet the sun is Your eye. the sky is Your navel, and the directions are Your ears. Space is Your head. the demigods are Your arms. the oceans and seas are Your abdomen. and the winds and air are Your strength and vitality. All the plants and herbs are the hair on Your body; the clouds are Your hair. the mountains are Your bones and nails, the days and nights are the twinkling of Your eyelids, and the rains are Your semen.
And again in the Second Canto:
The hairs on His body are the cause of all vegetation. . . . The hairs on His head and face are reservoirs for the clouds, and His nails are the breeding ground of electricity, stones, and iron ores. The back of the Lord is the place for all kinds of frustration, ignorance, and immorality. From His veins flow the great rivers and rivulets, and on His bones are stacked the great mountains.
The Bhagavad-gita contains perhaps the best-known description of the universal form. But in the Gita the universal form appears not merely as a pleasant poetic vision but as a fierce, all-devouring, many-mouthed monster. Trembling before this terrible apparition, Arjuna offers reverent prayers. Here are some excerpts:
O Lord of the universe, O universal form, I see in Your body many, many arms, bellies, mouths, and eyes, expanded everywhere, without limit I see in You no end, no middle, and no beginning.
The Gita's description of the universal form is so vivid, and Arjuna's fear so palpable, that the assertion that the universal form is imaginary seems curious. The apparition not only scared Arjuna. it talked to him. At Kuruksetra, where the Gita was spoken, Krsna was personally present and He directly displayed His universal form. In general, however, we can say that Krsna is not personally present in the universal form, and that its personification is a device to start materialists on the path to the transcendental plane of God realization. The Bhagavatam (1.3.10) confirms:
The conception of the universal form is imaginary. It is to enable the less intelligent to adjust to the idea of the Lord's having a form. But factually the Lord has no material form.
Krsna's original form is His sac-cid-ananda spiritual body, and His supreme personality is identical with that transcendental body.
But at Kuruksetra, with Krsna present the universal form looked real enough, to put it mildly. Bewildered and terrified by all the ferocity, Arjuna inquired:
O Lord of lords, so fierce of form, please tell me who You are. ... I want to know about You, for I do not know what Your mission is.
To this request Lord Krsna in His universal form replies:
Time I am, the destroyer of the worlds, and I have come to destroy all people. With the exception of you [Arjuna and his brothers], all soldiers on both sides will be slain.
So the fearsomeness of the form before Arjuna was a representation of time. Time, another energy of God, pervades, controls, and finally destroys the universe and everything in it. Time is truly an all-devouring monster, smashing us with its horrible teeth.
But why was an exception made for Arjuna and his brothers? Was Lord Krsna showing favoritism toward His friends, or sectarian preference for His devotees?
Not exactly. Yes, Krsna specifically protected Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra, but that protection is available to every devotee of God who transcends the material conception of life. Krsna explains in the Gita that we are not our material bodies, which time controls and destroys, but rather eternal, spiritual individuals within the body. Through the agency of material nature, Krsna has awarded us these bodies to fulfill our desires to enjoy separately from Him. As pure souls, however, we have nothing to do with matter, our eternal constitutional position being to enjoy blissful, deathless life by serving Krsna, the complete Personality of Godhead.
Although Krsna, out of love, has let us leave His service. He also, through His energy of time, reminds us that our desires to enjoy on our own are illusory. We simply can't enjoy apart from Him, just as a finger cannot nourish itself apart from the whole body. Even while wandering life after life through material nature, we are indirectly connected to Him, since matter is His energy. And while wandering, we have a lesson to learn from the fact that time over and over again destroys our material bodies and all the other manifestations of material nature.
Arjuna and his brothers were exempt from time's devastation because they were pure devotees of Krsna. They had no interest in the material world, even while discharging their royal duties. Such devotion as theirs is transcendental and eternal, beyond the jurisdiction of time. Not only Arjuna, but every pure devotee is safe from time's all-devouring mouths. Even when devotees' bodies are destroyed in time, it is superficial to say the devotees have died.
After seeing the universal form, Arjuna prayed for Krsna to reveal again His original, two-armed form. and Krsna consented. As a devotee, Arjuna specifically loved Krsna, the original Personality of Godhead. He had appreciated the universal form; it had awed him and elicited his respectful prayers. But you can't love the universal form's terrifying, all-devouring features, so Arjuna was not in the final account much interested in them.
Following Arjuna's example, we may also desire to serve the original Personality of Godhead, Krsna, rather than contemplate His universal form and confront the devastating faces of time.
Can there ever be close relationships,
By Rohininandana Dasa
In London, some years before I took up the practice of Krsna consciousness, I once met a girl when I was feeling lonely on a crowded street I made some excuse to talk to her, and we quickly became friends. Afraid of the disillusionment and pain that often accompanies relationships, we made a pact to stay together for a short time and view some of London's sights, and then to part company with no plan or foreseeable way to ever meet again.
We had a good time together. We were enlivened by each other's company, and the lonely, drab day turned out a happy one for us. We climbed St Paul's Cathedral and viewed the panorama of the city stretching into the misty distance. I felt tempted to embrace her, but I remembered our agreement and checked my lusty desires.
After a few fleeting hours, it was time to part company. I saw her off on the underground train. We held hands and looked into each others eyes. "You are like my brother," she said with a smile. She turned and boarded the train.
I immediately thought of running down the tracks after the train or jumping on the next one. But I again resisted my surging emotions. I remember wondering if this was the only way to have a spotless exchange with another person. Actually it wasn't spotless, because there was the pain of separation even after so short a time. I wondered why there couldn't be close relationships, with nothing to mar their perfection.
And now, almost twenty years later, my wandering mind sometimes chums up a poignant regret Although such lamentation is certainly unreasonable, it reminds me of the essence of material life. Are we not all hankering for someone to be close to—someone to "possess"—and don't we all lament about losing someone dear to us?
We all want friendship. Nobody likes to be lonely. Sometimes a person may prefer to be alone for a while, but never permanently. We wish to share ourselves with others. This inclination of ours is one of the qualities we have in common with God because we are part of Him. You never see a picture of Krsna alone; He is always with His friends and devotees.
The material world is a perverted reflection of our real home. the spiritual world. As such, every relationship is imperfect only partially mirroring what it could be and what we yearn for. Nevertheless we keep trying. Yet material existence imposes powerful restrictions on developing satisfactory relationships with others. Because we have willfully separated ourselves from Lord Krsna, the reservoir of all loving relationships, we are now suffering from a spiritual psychosis and consequent inability to understand and experience love. Desires push us around the world, and we switch from one partner to the next The small bud of love, however, is unfailingly snapped off before it can unfold, bloom, and produce a fruit.
When we take up Krsna consciousness, we turn once again toward the sweetest loving friend of all, Lord Sri Krsna, and our outlook changes back to what it should be. We cease to be limited by the puny material body in its temporary setting, and our vision expands to eternity. Our life begins to revolve around the Lord, and as soon as we understand Him to be the supreme controller and enjoyer of all that exists, as well as our best friend, we attain relief from the pangs of material miseries. We do not struggle anymore to control every detail of our lives but put ourselves securely under His direction. Our motivation changes from self-centered calculation to a constant desire to please Krsna. Loneliness vanishes as we begin to relish the constant company of the Lord. It is only by developing, in the course of time, such a blissful state of consciousness that one is able to perfectly relate to others without the least trace of friction or flaw.
A self-realized soul can be depended on because he or she is not restricted by selfish desires. In fact a Krsna conscious person. being satisfied, is in a position to perfectly relate with others. A study of Srila Prabhupada's life will reveal this secret of perfection. Srila Prabhupada did not want anything from anyone, and yet he was always requesting people to do things. His disciples knew that he was asking on Krsna's behalf, and therefore they did not feel imposed upon or threatened. They felt it was in their own interest to carry out his desires.
Srila Prabhupada was always deeply absorbed in his meditation on and relationship with his guru and Krsna, and so would never become sentimental about temporary things related to the material body. Yet he displayed all kinds of emotion, from soft tender empathy to hard, blazing anger. In fact he exhibited a much wider range of emotions than anyone I have ever met. But he never entangled his disciples in painful emotional knots. Even if they became depressed because he was displeased, that depression became an impetus for them to render more sincere service, which in turn became the source of spiritual inspiration and bliss.
When a disciple wrote to Srila Prabhupada expressing a sense of loss at being separated from him, Srila Prabhupada replied, "The separation you are feeling on account of my physical absence is a good sign. The more you feel such separation, the more you will be situated in Krsna consciousness. Lord Caitanya felt this separation, and His process of approaching Krsna is the feeling of separation." He also explained that spiritual separation is another feature of meeting. and so his disciples gradually learned to associate with him in more meaningful and lasting ways than just by physical proximity. In short he taught us how to develop perfect spiritual relationships.
Friendship in Krsna consciousness is very different from friendship on the material platform. Srila Prabhupada gave an analogy of airplane pilots. On the ground before take-off, a squadron of pilots may sit closely together for training and briefing sessions. But in the air, each pilot is on his own. Similarly, at the time of death, when we finally lose control of this body, we are externally all alone. But because spiritual relationships are beyond the body, the devotee still has spiritual association. At the time of death, he tries to remember his friend Lord Krsna and chant His holy name.
During his life, a devotee concentrates on internal spiritual growth, while performing external activities conducive to Krsna consciousness. Friendship in Krsna consciousness is a most meaningful opportunity for one's personal development In fact Krsna conscious relationships in this world serve as a preparation for associating with the Lord and His devotees when we return to the spiritual world, which awaits anyone who seriously follows the process of Krsna consciousness.
Srila Prabhupada explained that because we are by nature social beings, if we don't find satisfaction in our Krsna conscious relationships, we will certainly look for friendship elsewhere. If we associate with persons with little interest in spiritual life, our own Krsna consciousness will dim. When Lord Caitanya was asked to define what a devotee is, He replied, "A devotee is one who avoids the association of nondevotees." Attachment to nondevotees and their habits opens the door to material life, whereas attachment to self-realized souls opens the door to spiritual reality. As it is said, "A man is known by the company he keeps."
If you have little opportunity to associate with devotees, you can try to find potential devotees where you live and induce them to become serious about spiritual life. Of course, it is not easy to do this. Srila Prabhupada, a topmost devotee, went alone to the West where there were no devotees of Krsna. Yet he was able to inspire others to become devotees. But be cause we are nowhere near Srila Prabhupada's level of spiritual realization, we need spiritual association. Otherwise, we can neither maintain our own Krsna consciousness nor give it to others.
There is an art of spiritual association, and it has been described in the scriptures. If we meet someone less spiritually advanced than ourselves, we should be compassionate and try to inspire that person in Krsna consciousness. If we associate with someone equally advanced, we should befriend him and share our realizations with him. And if we have the opportunity to meet a much more advanced devotee than ourselves, we should respectfully hear from him and serve him.
If we learn the art of properly associating with others, we will find that every relationship becomes a great impetus for our own development of Krsna consciousness and therefore a source of great joy. Persons avowedly inimical to Krsna should be avoided because they will destroy our faith and devotion.
The basic principle of spiritual relationships is one of sharing and giving rather than taking. Often in this world of exploitation, people's exchanges with one another are just the opposite of ideal spiritual relationships. If a materialist meets someone less materially qualified or fortunate than himself, he feels happy. He thinks, "That's one less competitor." If he meets someone equally qualified, he feels threatened, and he will want to challenge that person. And if he meets someone more qualified, he will criticize and denigrate him to try to bring him down. If a materialist's superior falls from grace, or even dies, a materialist feels glad because of the new opportunity for himself.
In contrast a devotee does not feel pressure from anyone else's existence or actions, because he is convinced that Krsna is unlimited and that everything in relation to the Lord has unlimited potential. He knows that the wealth of his own spiritual knowledge will increase the more he tries to share it with others. If it is not distributed freely, it will dry up. He knows that his guru and Krsna are pleased if he tries to reach out to those less advanced or less fortunate. If Krsna is pleased, what is there left to achieve?
A devotee likes to work as a humble member of a team. and therefore he is relaxed with his peers and happy to serve Krsna with them. Together they can relish hearing and chanting Lord Krsna's glories. To advance in Krsna consciousness, one must learn how to associate with devotees and how to hear from the right persons about Krsna. A devotee is delighted to receive an advanced devotee of the Lord. Instead of trying to pull him down, he wishes to see that devotee become even more elevated. He thinks. "How nicely this person is serving Krsna! Let me try to serve Krsna like him."
In The Nectar of Instruction, Srila Rupa Gosvami discusses six ways in which devotees can relish spiritual relationships. The first two are "giving and receiving charity and gifts." The next two are "revealing one's mind to another devotee and inquiring about the confidential service of the Lord." We should reveal our mind openly to our friends and learn to inquire confidentially about spiritual matters. We should primarily be concerned with each other's spiritual health because the soul is the real person within the body.
A Krsna conscious person can talk about anything, but the basis of the conversation is always Krsna. Once in England Srila Prabhupada was talking with race-car driver Graham Hill, who didn't know much about spiritual life. For half an hour they jovially talked about car racing. Then Mr. Hill mentioned that when driving at high speeds, he sometimes felt he was a hair's breadth away from death. Immediately Srila Prabhupada began speaking about more important matters, related to Mr. Hill's eternal existence beyond the body. expertly elevating him to a higher level of consciousness. This is the real meaning of friendship—to inspire confidence and friendship in a person by genuine concern and then point him in the right direction.
The last two features of exchange mentioned by Rupa Gosvami are "offering and accepting krsna-prasadam [food offered to Krsna]." Giving and accepting gifts of food have always been symptoms of friendship. In the Vedic culture a person is not enthusiastic to eat alone with his family. He likes to have a guest for lunch. Traditionally, in the absence of a guest a householder would go to the street and request any hungry person to come and share the meal.
My father once told me I would be lucky if I made one or two real friends throughout my life. When I joined ISKCON, I thought, "I've got thousands of friends now." In an ideal spiritual society, one no doubt does have millions of friends, but deep, spiritual friendship requires spiritual maturity. For a lasting friendship, friends must have a common goal, a common object of love. If our friendship is founded on pleasing Krsna without material considerations, there is hope of achieving an absolute and perfect friendship. To the degree that selfishness creeps in, the sanctity of the relationship suffers. Because Krsna is the reservoir of all pleasure. His devotee becomes fully satisfied in His blissful association. In such a position, the devotee can always give to others without motivation or interruption. That is the basis of spiritual friendship.
This series systematically explains some of the important philosophical concepts that form the foundation of the Vedic culture and the Krsna consciousness movement
Lesson Six: Vedic Society
by Pavanesana Dasa
PART I: The term Vedic society refers to a state that is organized according to directions given in the ancient Vedic literature. The Vedic social structure is not manmade but divinely inspired. And it is not an idealistic, imaginary system, but it existed in the past for thousands of years. The Hare Krsna movement is trying to revive an ideal society founded on the teachings of the Vedic literature. Although in the modern age it would be impossible to adopt all the aspects of the traditional Vedic society, the principles upon which the society ran are as appropriate today as they ever were.
The original Vedic society was different from India's modern-day caste system. The Vedic society is called varnasrama, which refers to its four material divisions (varnas) and four spiritual divisions (asramas). These divisions are not arbitrary; they are made according to natural differences in individuals. By organizing society into the divisions of atmarama, the state allows people to work according to their propensities and at the same time gradually elevate their consciousness. The ultimate goal of the atmarama system is self-realization, or Krsna consciousness.
The four varnas are:
1. sudra (laborer class)
If we analyze any society, we will find these divisions. Some people are inclined to crafts and manual work, some are inclined to business or agriculture, some to administration, and some to intellectual pursuits.
Modern secular, egalitarian society fails to recognize basic differences in individual propensities but adopts systems that use the individual as a commodity regardless of his nature or inclinations. Ultimately, no one benefits from such systems, because they are not natural. There cannot be equality on the physical platform. People obviously have different abilities and inclinations.
In the Bhagavad-gita (4.13). Lord Krsna says, "According to the three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of human society are created by Me." In other words, the four divisions of varna are determined by guna and karma, by one's qualities and one's work—not by birth.
Therefore, if the son of a sudra (laborer) exhibits the symptoms of a brahmana (intellectual), he must be accepted as a brahmana. And if the son of a brahmana either has the qualities of a sudra or does the work of a sudra, he is considered a sudra. The saint Narada Muni, one of the great authorities of Vedic culture, makes this same point in Srimad-Bhagavatam.
The failing of modern Hinduism is that its followers disregard this scriptural injunction. In Vedic culture there is a natural respect for the "higher" classes, especially the brahmanas. Today, however, the higher classes cling to their status even when they are unqualified. In order to maintain their false status, they have concocted the idea of caste by birthright This allows them to enjoy privileges, and it bars the members of the other castes from ever questioning their qualifications. The practice of recognizing caste by birthright has caused much resentment in modern Indian civilization.
The Vedic literature compares the four divisions of society to the human body. The legs represent the sudras, the belly the vaisyas, the arms the ksatriyas. and the head the brahmanas. All these parts work together for the benefit of the whole body. When one part of the body is sick, the whole body suffers. Similarly, when one part of society is not functioning properly, the whole system suffers. Therefore, each part is important.
Now let us discuss the functions of the four varnas:
The brahmanas are considered the head of society, and their duty is to teach and guide all other varnas. Bhagavad-gita (18.42) lists the qualifications by which they are recognized:
Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom, and religiousness—these are the natural qualities by which the brahmanas work.
Formerly, brahmanas would study the Vedic scriptures and become expert in one or several fields of knowledge. They were teachers, doctors, priests, astrologers, political advisers, and so on. They never charged for teaching, but those who took advantage of their knowledge supplied them with their necessities of life. The brahmanas would not accept more than necessary for a simple, austere life, and if they owned more, they would give it away in charity.
The ksatriyas are the arms of society. They provide all levels of administrative service up to the king, and they are the soldiers and the police. Their qualifications are listed in Bhagavad-gita (18.43):
Heroism, power, determination, resourcefulness. courage in battle, generosity, and leadership are the natural qualities of work for the ksatriyas.
Vedic society was a monarchy. Unlike modern political leaders, the ksatriya kings were extremely powerful and would lead their men in battle. Civilians were never involved in warfare, and on the battlefield, fighting was only between equals.
The power of the king was not unlimited. Every king had an advisory staff of brahmanas, and he followed their advice, recognizing their wisdom. Thus a monarch would treat even a poor brahmana very respectfully as his superior.
A ksatriya king was responsible for the well-being of his citizens. He would never think of exploiting them, and he knew he had to accept karmic reaction for their sinful activities and for his own mismanagement.
The Vedic monarchs had to not only qualify as good administrators and military leaders but also exhibit the saintly qualities of a devotee of Krsna. The goal of their leadership was to enable all people to make progress on the path of spiritual enlightenment. Therefore, all activities detrimental to this goal were severely restricted. Vedic ksatriyas enforced injunctions against meat-eating, illicit sex, intoxication, and gambling. According to Vedic science meat-eating destroys the quality of mercy, gambling destroys honesty, intoxication destroys austerity, and sexual promiscuity destroys physical and mental cleanliness.
There are instances in Vedic history of kings who deviated from their duties of protecting the citizens and encouraging them to follow religious principles. These deviant kings were removed from their post by the spiritual power of the brahmanas. But such cases were rare, since kings were not elected by the politically uneducated masses but were selected by the most enlightened members of society.
Kingdoms would flourish under the rule of saintly and powerful monarchs. There was justice for everyone, even for people without money. Unemployment was unknown, because society was basically agrarian. Vedic society encouraged individual ownership of land so that people could be self-sufficient without artificial dependence on machines, bank loans, and complicated marketing procedures.
Life under saintly monarchs centered on Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and because of regular sacrifices and spiritual practices, nature responded with ideal weather, abundant food, water, and other natural resources. The people were happy and satisfied, and they progressed toward the goal of life, self-realization.
The vaisyas represent the belly of society. Their responsibility in Vedic culture was farming, business, and cow protection. Nowadays wealth consists of paper that can lose its value at any time. People have left the land by the millions, trading a simple and natural life for hellish factories, polluted cities, and stressful jobs. Often their dreams of enjoyment are frustrated by unemployment poverty, crime, and other harsh urban realities.
In Vedic times, however, land, cows, grains, and gold were considered wealth. They represent natural wealth, and their value is much more consistent than that of stocks and bonds.
In Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna states that the vaisyas have the specific duty to protect cows. The cow is the most useful animal. According to Vedic understanding, she is considered our mother because she gives us her milk. From milk a large variety of dairy products can be made: yogurt, cheese, butter, curd, buttermilk, ghee (clarified butter), various sweets, and so on. Ghee is an important ingredient in Vedic sacrifices, and therefore the cow is considered the mother of religion. Even after the cow dies a natural death, she leaves us her hide for many useful purposes. Therefore cow protection is essential for the vaisya community.
Although vaisyas engaged in business, in the Vedic society business and money-making were not regarded as the goal of life. Nor were people indoctrinated to work hard for an endless variety of products no one really needs. They were not constantly bombarded with advertisements designed to agitate their senses. Every morning people would go to the temple, and in the evenings they would assemble and listen to the scriptures.
The sudras are naturally inclined toward manual labor and service to others. They represent the legs of society. The sudras in Vedic society were not considered "untouchables." Their services were seen as a valuable contribution to the smooth functioning of the Vedic society. Imagine a society without a work force to take care of construction, maintenance, cleaning, or general services. It obviously couldn't exist.
The head, arms, belly, and legs all have to perform their part in order to be a complete body. These four varnas can cooperate peacefully for the benefit of society—but this is possible only if this system has a proper spiritual foundation. Without that, people become polluted by material qualities. In the next issue, we will discuss the spiritual divisions of Vedic culture.
Transcendental Commentary on the Issues of the Day
Giving My Life For Noble Bilge
by Jayadvaita Swami (Vrndavana, India)
Lima, Peru: Several feet overhead against a gray-and-white marble wall on the departures side of the Jorge Chavez International Airport, foot-high black letters, all capitals, announce. "TENGO EL ORGULLO DE SER PERUANO." That is, "I have the pride of being Peruvian."
Well, for crying out loud. what is there to be so proud of? I have the pride of belonging to a small Latin American nation whose empire got wiped out four centuries ago. Now really! And why should I be so proud to be Peruvian rather than, say, Argentinean, or Chilean, or Colombian, or for that matter Australian, Bulgarian, or Japanese?
This national pride reminds me of my days at Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood, New Jersey. Whether in basketball, football, or whatever, our Maroon Raiders were supposed to be the best When they trounced Tenafly, Bergenfield. or Cresskill, we were victorious. And when our Raiders lost—damn!
But I for one could never figure it out What did I care for Englewood? After all, tomorrow my family might move a few miles over into Tenafly, and then the victories and damns would be reversed. As far as I could see, it was stupid.
And I grew up feeling the same way about national pride. Why should I feel so proud to be American? Cross the border into Canada, and everything's pretty much the same. So what's the big deal? If I'm born in New York. I'm supposed to get all worked up about the Stars and Stripes? And guys born in Montreal are supposed to get all teary-eyed over a Maple Leaf?
That's one thing I liked about Krsna consciousness. It came right out and said, "This is stupid." And it had even better reasons than I did.
According to the philosophy of Lord Krsna, I'm not my body. I'm the spark of consciousness within the body. My body is a thing, a machine, a vehicle, a temporary physical arrangement of muscles, nerves, blood, guts, skin, hair, eyeballs. That's me? The very idea is absurd.
Yet I stand up for that absurdity with great pride. "I'm an American." I announce. Yet what am I really saying but "I am this body"? My body was born in America, so I am American. What nonsense.
According to Lord Krsna, for the real me, the conscious self within the body, there is no birth or death. So where's the question of being American, Canadian, Peruvian, or any such noble bilge?
I am eternal. But in illusion—in utter ignorance and bewilderment—I identify myself with something I'm not. I get scrambled in a mess of bodily labels, and I get so serious about them that I'm even ready to give my life for them.
"I only regret," said the American patriot Nathan Hale just before the British hanged him, "that I have but one life to lose for my country."
Lord Sri Krsna says that we don't have "but one life"; we've got scads of them—thousands, millions, an inestimably long queue of them, stretching back to since no one remembers when.
But while living within one such body. I the bewildered spark of consciousness, get so wrapped up in my false bodily identity that I devote myself, surrender myself, to that pitifully ridiculous thing. I live for it and die for it. And at the time of death my fixation on it my engrossment in it, my stupid corporeal idealism carries me forward to another round of birth and death in another body of the same crummy, perishable nature. Mens insana in corpore insano.
According to Lord Sri Krsna, the sane person is the one who devotes himself to getting out of illusion, to breaking free from bewilderment and putting an end to birth and death. When we give up our false identity. Lord Krsna says. and realize our real identity as spiritual beings, we regain our spiritual nature. And then birth and death cease to exist, like a bad dream when a person wakes up.
To bring about this awakening is the purpose of chanting the Hare Krsna mantra. When our mind gets off the body and back to the spirit and comes back in touch with Lord Sri Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, we return to our eternal, natural consciousness, or Krsna consciousness.
Meanwhile, as long as we devote ourselves to a messy mechanism of blood, bones, hair, and guts, and the labels that go with it—those proud designations of family, nation, race, and gender—we are no better, Lord Krsna says. than foolish asses. That's why, seen spiritually, "I am proud of being American" or "I am proud of being Peruvian" translates into "I am proud of being an ass."
Back To You
by Krsna Dharma dasa (Manchester, England)
As we are all too well aware, we have lately had our share of disasters, and many people are left still trying to cope with the effects of them.
Whether a tragedy is manmade or natural, its aftermath leaves everyone asking, "Why did it happen?" Public inquiries and disaster committees do little to assuage the grief of those most affected and always fail to answer the question "Why did the tragedy befall us and not others?" People look to their religions for answers and solace, but how well do they provide these? Many people suffer quite a test—and often a loss—of faith in God when subjected to terrible suffering.
Soon after the crash of the airliner in Scotland last December, relatives of victims admitted they had lost much faith in the existence of God. "If God is good and just, then how can innocent children and good men die in such a way?" This is the essence of their doubt and it seems like a good question. And since most major disasters are taken as "acts of God." the question becomes even more pertinent.
Perhaps we should start with a definition of God before considering this question. Dictionaries define God as "the Supreme Being" and "the creator and controller of the universe." These definitions should not provoke any argument. Therefore, being supreme. God must have the ability to prevent the death of seemingly innocent people. Yet He does not do so. Why? We cannot say He is incapable, for we then reduce Him to something less than supreme and therefore not God.
Could it be, then, that God is not always good? Perhaps He enjoys killing, as some persons do. But what kind of people are these? Are they godly? Do saints devoted to the service of the Lord act like that? Obviously not. Then neither does God, the source of godly qualities.
Recently, I attended a church service and heard in the sermon that God suffers along with us. I thought this didn't make any sense. Suffering is unwanted. If God suffers, again He loses His supremacy and thus His position as God.
Some may think that these considerations prove that God cannot exist. If He does exist. He must be all-good and all-powerful. But since innocent people are suffering. He obviously is not there, or else He would have prevented it.
There is, though, another possibility not yet considered: The suffering inflicted on us is not occurring by chance; it is deserved. An all-powerful and all-knowing God is awarding us the results of our own actions. This would surely be a fair system; we are already bound by a similar system in the form of state laws. If we break the law, we become fugitives until caught and punished. This is called justice.
Yet there still seem to be certain problems even with this idea. Perhaps I have been guilty of unpleasant deeds worthy of retribution, but what about the children. who are so often the victims of suffering? How could they deserve it?
The Bhagavad-gita (2.22) offers a plausible solution: "As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones." What we are now seeing is not the complete picture; we have lived before.
Imagine that you go to the cinema and arrive late, just in time to see on the screen a boy being beaten with a stick. You might feel sorry for him and become angry at his aggressor. But perhaps in the previous scene he had been shown stealing from a helpless old lady. Similarly, in real life we are seeing the results of previous activities, of which we are now unaware.
Someone might argue. "Well, all right, that appears to make sense, but I cannot remember any previous lives. Even if I did something wrong, what is the use of getting the reaction now? Will it serve as a punishment if the crime is forgotten?"
But would it be a valid excuse if a criminal on trial claimed amnesia and that he therefore had no recollection of his alleged crime? If eyewitnesses prove his guilt, should he be punished, even if, as he claims, he really has forgotten?
Punishment may not be the best word to use when referring to God's dealings with us. We learn from the Vedic literature that God acts only out of love, just like the father who sees his child acting foolishly and endangering himself. He may scold the child quite severely, but that is out of love. He does not want the child to hurt himself by acting in a dangerous way. It is not that the father derives pleasure from punishing the child.
Sometimes the reaction for a particular act is obvious. If we overeat, well have to endure stomachache. Sometimes the reaction is not so obvious. In any case, all of us have to endure many types of suffering despite our best efforts to avoid them. These are all reactions to past deeds. The Bhagavad-gita (13.21) states. "The living entity is the cause of the various sufferings and enjoyments in this world."
The cycle of action and reaction is called karma. The word and the concept are fairly well known, but how does karma work? What type of action produces what type of reaction? These are important questions indeed when we consider large-scale suffering. Can it be averted?
This raises another question: How can many people share the same fate and die together in big disasters? But consider: How can many innocent animals die together in one slaughterhouse? The Vedic literature suggests there is a connection.
As I read the newspaper account of the airplane tragedy in Scotland, something caught my eye. Lockerbie, where the plane fell is famous for its "lamb fairs," fetes put on for and by the meat industry. In fact, there is an abattoir in the very center of the village. The wording of the report went as follows: "On the slope above the abattoir was a scene of utter devastation." I reflected that within the abattoir there was another scene of devastation.
Implicit in the acceptance of the idea of karma is the need to accept a whole value structure: What is right and what is wrong? The frame of reference is provided by Vedic knowledge: "The right path of action is given by the Supreme Lord Himself."
Some people have difficulty accepting that God makes the rules and that when we break them we suffer. But it is impossible to find an alternative explanation that accounts for events as we witness them, if we include God in the picture—which we must. For is it not the exclusion of God that brings about all of the calamities in the first place?
The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
Ratha-yatra Comes to Durban
Durban, South Africa—More than fifty thousand people flocked to Durban's beachfront on December 29 and 30 for the ancient Indian celebration of Ratha-yatra—the Festival of the Chariots—held by ISKCON devotees for the first time on a large scale in South Africa. Durban temple president Indradyumna Swami coordinated the festival. His efforts and those of devotees and members of the congregation of the Radha-Radhanatha Temple of Understanding in Chatsworth helped make the festival a resounding success.
Hundreds of chanting devotees pulled on the ropes drawing the fifteen-meter-high chariot, which carried the deities of Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balarama, Lady Subhadra, and Srila Prabhupada. As the parade moved along Durban's popular Marine Parade, spectators jostled for positions to get their share of the fifty thousand sweets that were tossed out.
The parade culminated in a two-day festival at the beachfront amphitheater. The festival included open-air exhibits and a stage show of continuous entertainment: devotional chanting, drama, films, discourses, and classical Indian music and dance by local artists. Seventy thousand plates of prasadam (food offered to Krsna) were distributed.
Durban's mayor, Mr. Derek Watterson, delivered the opening address. He gave great credit to ISKCON for having built the spectacular temple in Chatsworth, for putting on the Festival of the Chariots, and for promoting love and peace among all races of people in South Africa.
All the major newspapers in Natal gave the festival extensive coverage. The Natal Mercury ran a large full-color photo of the chariot on the front page with the caption "Beachfront Spectacle." The South African Broadcasting Corporation filmed the festival.
Durban's Publicity Association director, Andrzej Kiepiela, remarked, "In addition to providing both local residents and visitors with free entertainment, the festival will contribute toward harmony between communities, as it provides an insight into the cultural and religious life of India. I believe it will become a traditional part of the Durban summer holiday festivities, as it has in other cities throughout the world."
Gurukula Cake-and-Book Drive
Gainesville, Florida—The girls of the Vaisnava Academy here spent the two weeks before Christmas last year on the school's eighth annual Prabhupada Marathon, distributing Srila Prabhupada's books and Back to Godhead magazines and raising money for the school by selling cakes. The girls baked the cakes themselves and offered them to the Deities of Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai at ISKCON's New Ramana-reti farm here before distributing them to the public. Going door-to-door to stores and homes, the ten girls, ages ten to sixteen, sold almost six hundred cakes and distributed two thousand pieces of literature about Krsna.
The girls' academy, headed by Laksmimani-devi dasi, was originally located in Lake Huntington, New York Before coming to Gainesville, the school spent a couple of years in State College, Pennsylvania, home of Pennsylvania State University. While the girls were selling their cakes in Tampa, Florida, they met former Pennsylvania State University football stars Joe and Larry Hamilton, who now play for the Tampa Buccaneers. "God must have sent you," one of them said. The brothers invited the girls in, took five books and four cakes, and eagerly spent time hearing about Krsna consciousness.
The girls had many similar experiences. People often eagerly took several issues of Back to Godhead.
"It's important to recognize," said Laksmimani dasi, "that although these are normal teen-age girls—with all the distractions that entails—still, they enthusiastically worked eight hours a day for two weeks preaching Krsna consciousness."
The leading distributor, twelveyear-old Caitanya dasi sold 150 cakes.
The Pakistani Bhaktivedanta Book Trust recently published Sindhi editions of Bhagavad-gita As It Is and Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Earlier publications include Krsna; the Reservoir of Pleasure in Sindhi and The Perfection of Yoga, Sri Isopanisad, and Krsna, the Reservoir of Pleasure in Urdu. Pakistani devotees have distributed fifty thousand books in Sindhi and Urdu.
* * *
ISKCON's Mayapur Candrodaya Mandir in West Bengal is a popular attraction for pilgrims to the land of Lord Caitanya's pastimes. Jayapataka Swami, who has been overseeing the project for many years, recently gave India's director general of police a tour of the complex. He explained the plans for a Vedic city that will be built there. The director general accepted a copy of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, and his wife took beads for chanting Hare Krsna.
The education minister of the Indian state of Manipur also visited recently and expressed his appreciation of Lord Caitanya's teachings.
At Christmastime these kids go
by Muralivadaka Dasa
The screeching of the subway car announces our arrival at the next station. "Gentlemen, this is it!" I say, lifting a box of Back to Godhead magazines as I get up. The subway grinds to a halt, and seven young men surge toward the sliding doors. As we step onto the platform, a disembodied voice crackles: "Thirty-fourth Street-Harold Square—Macy's. Have a nice holiday."
"Is this where we distribute?" Nine-year-old Jaya Saci, the youngest member of our intrepid band, is on his first Christmas book-distribution marathon in New York City.
"No, not here. We go upstairs to the next level. It's much better there!" replies fourteen-year-old Kirtana, veteran of four subway campaigns. Kirtana is not only the senior "man" in distribution experience, but his hard work and enthusiasm over the years have established him as one of the best. In fact, he wasn't even scheduled to go this year, but he begged his parents and his teacher, me, to allow him to come.
Moving amid the bustling crowd and incessant noise of the subways, I remember the beginning of last year's marathon. When we first arrived, a New York City policeman began to stare intently at us. He pointed and waved, indicating that someone should come over. As I started toward him, I noticed he was pointing vigorously to someone other than me. He called out, "You! You!" He wanted Kirtana.
Glancing apprehensively at me for permission. Kirtana slowly went over to the officer. Engrossed, we all watched as the policeman and Kirtana had a short, animated conversation. Suddenly the officer grabbed Kirtana by the arm and began shaking his hand. Both of them broke into huge smiles.
Kirtana came running back. "Muralivadaka Prabhu, you know what happened? When I got over there, the policeman said, 'I know you, young man. Isn't your name Kirtana? I remember you from last year.' Then he grabbed my hand and started shaking it, saying, 'Keep up the good work. son!' "
Thirty-fourth Street station is well patrolled by police, who have always looked kindly on our efforts to distribute our Society's literature here every Christmas. That's one reason I keep bringing the boys back here. And because the station is underground, the boys are sheltered from the inclement weather.
Coming to the top of the stairs, we're greeted by the acrid smell of perspiration and urine.
"Look! Look!" says Jaya Saci, pointing to two vagrants sleeping atop sheets of cardboard and covered with an assortment of coats long ago discarded by their original owners. "Do they live here?" His innocence contrasts sharply with the callous, unseeing attitude of the New Yorkers racing past the prostrate figures.
"That's nothing!" replies Govinda dasa, who will turn twelve on Christmas day. This is his third year, and he speaks with confidence. "Coming down here is like going to one of the hellish planets described in the Fifth Canto of the Bhagavatam. You'll see lots of strange things."
A group of Peruvian musicians is performing to a large crowd in a spot designated for such activities. "Who are they?" asks Sita Rama, as I hurry to the pole that for the last four years sheltered our books, coats, and any weary warrior in need of a break. Sita Rama, eleven, has been affectionately nicknamed "Pundit" by the adults who live on the farm in Florida where our school is located. The next eight days will often find him happily engaged in lengthy philosophical discussions with people three, four, and five times his age. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. I count heads silently. "Everyone come here for a second." As they gather round, I think of what last-minute encouragement or inspiration I can offer them.
This activity of trying to give people literature about the Supreme Lord is based on a very profound philosophy. According to the Vedic literature, the self is purely spiritual, an infinitesimal part of the Lord. But when the spiritual sparks come into this material world, they become covered with a material body and forget the Lord and their relationship with Him.
We can awaken our original, eternal consciousness of God through bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. It begins with hearing about God and culminates in pure love for Him. By giving someone a magazine about Krsna, these boys are helping the forgetful souls progress toward life's perfection.
Krsna is very eager for us to return to His kingdom. Therefore He sends His representatives and even comes Himself. Out of His infinite love for His fallen children, the Lord descended five hundred years ago as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu just to show by His example the process of reaching out and giving the forgetful souls an opportunity to reawaken their eternal love for Him and to return back home to Godhead. Thus the activity these boys are about to begin is the highest welfare work, and it follows the tradition set by Krsna Himself.
As I look out at the seven bright faces straining to hear what I'm about to say. I realize that they are as familiar with this philosophy as I am. As students in the gurukula, a school where spiritual values are an integral part of the curriculum, they learn that the act of reaching out to others with knowledge about Krsna is the logical and practical culmination of their studies.
"Approach as many people as possible. You can give the magazine for free if they really want it, but ask everyone for a donation; they'll be more likely to read the magazine and reluctant to throw it away. OK, ready?" They all nod.
"Oh, one more thing." Eight years of experience in training children in book distribution has taught me a little about what difficulties to expect. "The number of books you distribute and how much you collect is up to Krsna. He's the controller of all results. But we can try really hard, no matter what happens. That's a practical demonstration of our love for Him. Remember, it's not going to be easy to get someone to take a book about God. OK, go to it."
Like a well-drilled football team breaking the huddle, the boys whirl and enter the masses of people whizzing by.
"Excuse me, sir here's your gift."
"A holiday gift, Ma'am. Here you go."
"Get your Christmas gift yet?"
The girls and boys of our Vaisnava Academy have been distributing books for eight years now, and yet as I watch I'm struck anew at this amazing experience: children trying to stop frenzied New Yorkers to give them a book about Krsna.
I focus in on Krsna dasa. Although he's only nine and this is his first time in New York City, he goes about the distribution as if he were in the familiar setting of our farm in Florida or his home in Dallas.
"Here's your gift," he says to a fashionably dressed man in his early thirties. The man stops, reaches down, and, taking the magazine in his hand, stares at Krsna dasa. "This is for me? Is it free?" the man says, a bit surprised at the sight of a shaven-headed boy wearing a dhoti and standing just about even with his belly.
"You can have it free." Krsna dasa replies gravely, "if you promise to read it. But it would be nice if you gave a donation." This is too much for the cosmopolitan New Yorker. He bursts out laughing while he reaches into his pocket to give Krsna dasa some change. "Is this all right?"
"Yes, thank you very much. Hare Krsna." Krsna dasa replies very seriously. Carefully putting the money away, he takes out another magazine. "Excuse me, Ma'am; here's your gift!"
The boys quickly settle into a routine. Approaching person after person until one finally stops, they patiently try to persuade people of all sizes, shapes, and philosophies to take a Back to Godhead magazine or a book and give a donation.
"More magazines, please!" Pavan Kumar, at sixteen the oldest of the boys, comes over to where I'm standing. Pavan's father is a seventh-generation Ayur-vedic physician in Lucknow, India. Pavan, who will be the eighth-generation practitioner, joined us a year and a half ago. Last year was his first marathon, and the culture shock of coming from a well-to-do neighborhood in Lucknow to the depths of the New York subways was a bit much for him. This year, it's a different story.
"The last man I approached was a Muslim," Pavan says as I ready more books for him. "He was nice. I explained to him that we all worship the same God; it's just that He has different names. 'Just like you,' "
Pavan continues, smiling, " 'you have several names, so why can't God?' The man liked that He took a magazine and gave me a dollar."
Of course, not everyone's nice. Uddhava is thirteen and from Trinidad. He walks slowly toward me, a look of frustration on his face. "I give up! No one will even stop! Take a book? They won't even look at me or say anything. They act just like I'm not even there. And then, finally, one man stops. That guy!"
Uddhava points out an immaculately groomed man about forty, an overcoat over his dark, well-tailored suit. But he's staring in our direction as if trying to bum us to ashes with his glance.
Uddhava continues: "He took the magazine in his hand and said to me. 'Is this gift for me?' I told him yes. Then with a grotesque smile, he held the magazine right in front of my face and ripped it to pieces!"
We talk about how hard it is to get people to listen to God's message, and not only for Hare Krsna devotees. In all religious traditions, great souls encounter difficulties. Christmas celebrates the birth of one such personality who met a violent reaction to his preaching.
This short discussion rekindles Uddhava's enthusiasm, and he's off. The Vedas say that this material world is a place where people want to forget God, and our young heroes are getting firsthand experience of this.
As the days go by, the boys become more and more absorbed in the marathon. They ask if I can take a group out early, before breakfast, and a group out after everyone else is done at night.
And so the "special forces" are inaugurated. Two and a half hours before the nine o'clock breakfast is served at the Brooklyn temple, three boys and I go out to the subways. This time we don't go to any one station but simply ride the trains. Walking through the cars, the boys ask each of the passengers to take a magazine. Often they sit down next to a person and talk about Krsna consciousness. When the train stops, it's off to the next car.
Our main arena is still Thirty-fourth Street. The boys get a wide range of responses. Govinda tells of a woman interrupting his conversation with someone: "This is horrible, disgusting. Stop immediately!" She raves on while a second woman enters the scene talking even louder—"This is wonderful. I love what you're doing. Please continue." The first woman, stunned by this sudden turn of events, becomes silent and then storms away. Then the second lady turns to the person Govinda first approached and says, "Now take a magazine, and give a donation!" Kirtana meets someone who saw Srila Prabhupada at 26 Second Avenue. Govinda meets a professional boxer. Pavan gives a conductor a magazine through a window and gets a donation.
The boys confront many misconceptions about Hare Krsna children.
"Do your parents know what you're doing?"
"Yes. They're very proud of me. Would you like to call and ask them?"
"Why aren't you in school?"
"We are. There's our teacher. We're learning to help people understand God. Isn't that the essence of Christmas?"
"It's horrible that you're forced to do this!"
"Forced? It's fun! As Christmas approaches we can't wait to begin."
Frequently the money collected is the issue at hand.
"You boys are being exploited. You're working hard to collect money and someone is living off the results!"
Kirtana patiently explains: "The money first goes for our expenses. Whatever is left goes to a school project. For example, the money from last year's marathon helped pay for our four-month school trip around America."
Back at the temple, the boys trade stories while taking their meals.
"One nice old lady told me I was the cutest little girl she'd ever seen. So I took off my hat and showed her my shaved head. Boy, was she surprised!" The boys all laugh.
Often the difficulties come up.
"No one would stop for me. They'd just go by and yell curse words at me."
"One man told me if I were his son, he'd beat me bad if he ever caught me doing this."
"One women told me to get out of there before she called the police! When I offered to take her over and introduce her to one of the policemen, she got all flustered and stormed away."
Occasionally the boys are asked about our girls. They explain that the Vedic system of education is to separate the boys and girls at an early age to insure that each group can concentrate on their studies. But the girls are also out distributing, the boys proudly conclude; they're down south in Florida.
At the Thirty-fourth Street station, a priest comes up to me, shakes my hand, and tells me how intelligent these boys are. "Keep up the good work, and God bless you." A moment later Uddhava comes and explains what happened.
Krsna dasa had stopped the priest and a conversation had ensued. Uddhava soon joined the discussion.
"When he said he follows Christ, I asked him if he eats meat. He said yes, and I asked, 'Why? When Lord Jesus said "Thou shall not kill." why are you killing the cow?' He tried to say that the cow has no soul. I said, 'The Vedas explain that all living entities are spiritually equal, but they inhabit different kinds of bodies. The cows are living entities just like us. I've got personal realization of this because I take care of the cows and milk them every day on our farm.' Then he stopped arguing, took a magazine, and gave a donation."
Sita Rama talks for forty-five minutes with a Christian who finally takes a magazine and gives a dollar. "She couldn't answer the question about a sincere pious person who lives his whole life without any contact with Christians and never hears about Christ. Does he go to hell because he hasn't accepted Jesus? Or is there another way? I told her the Vedas accept any religion as bona fide if it leads to love of God. That's when she took the magazine and gave a dollar."
Here is the essence of this unique program. When the philosophy of Krsna consciousness is challenged and the boys must speak up in its defense, their beliefs and realizations become strengthened. The truth and beauty of the Vedic philosophy become alive and meaningful.
As we head back to the temple on Christmas eve, our marathon finished, we pass a laundromat. "Can we try in there?" Govinda and Uddhava ask. My nod sends them running inside. Soon they return, big smiles on their faces. "The last man I approached." Govinda says." was just sitting and reading a newspaper. 'Here's something much better to read,' I said, giving him a magazine. He looked through it and then took out a ten dollar bill, gave it to me, and said, 'I think what you're doing is great.' " The boys were both laughing. "We think it's great too; a great way to end a great marathon!"
The Vedas reveal that Krsna lives within everyone's heart and He is the witness of all our activities. Thus He can reciprocate according to the desires and activities of each person. These children, by their valiant effort to distribute books about Krsna. are experiencing realization of the reciprocation a person can feel when he tries to serve God. That's the spiritual lesson our students learn by this program of trying to share a gift of love.
We welcome your letters.
You tell of the soul as being pure consciousness and that we have an original role in the kingdom of God that lies dormant while we experience matter. Some gurus, such as the one whose page I'm sending you, teach that we are not the soul, that the soul is only a reflection of the Self, and that in the final realization we understand this. We are absorbed into the effulgence of God when we lose our ego completely. The extinguishing of the individual identity carries with it all karma. To become God in the end answers all questions. God is the silent mystery man.
There are many different conceptions of afterlife. But I know that there can't be any separation in our view. There has to be Oneness. Are we all divine beings just playing roles in matter? Why do we want to enter matter?
We are not the mind or the body. We are the spirit soul. Is this statement correct? Is matter only a playground for the soul? And can we experience intensity only in matter?
Walter Seaman, Jr.
OUR REPLY: You sent a page from a teacher who stated: "You are the Self. The Self never undergoes any change. ... It doesn't need religion. Does the Self need to realize itself? When did God forget Himself?"
This is the Mayavada philosophy—the loose logic that because I am spirit and God is spirit, therefore I am God, you are God, and we don't need religion. According to this philosophy, everything is maya, or illusion: religion is illusion, suffering is illusion, individual identity is illusion, and a personal God is illusion.
The same teacher says. "I've given you some points. Please know that I am not just quoting books or producing some prerecorded ideas. I tell you what I feel." He implies that God-given scripture is untrue or useless, but that his teachings or feelings are useful.
So, either he is God or he is not God. If he is God, why does he reject his own previous religious teachings? And how can an all-powerful God be under the control of material laws? If we are all one God, why has he realized it when I have not? It seems, then, that he is not God. So of what value are his errant ideas? If everything is illusion, his teachings are also illusion. We should definitely look for a more reliable source of knowledge.
The Absolute is beyond our sense perception and intelligence. We can know God, however, because He has communicated with men, and there are records of such communications. Perennial religion teaches that God reveals Himself to qualified devotees and saints. Revelations are contained in many scriptures, the most cogent and complete of which are the Vedic scriptures.
These scriptures explain that just as the emanations of heat and light are different but inseparable from (and therefore one with) the sun, similarly, the Supreme Personality of Godhead's multifarious potencies are simultaneously different and nondifferent from Him. These energies are broadly categorized as three: spiritual, marginal, and material.
The spiritual energy sustains an imperishable transcendental realm. The material energy, or maya, conducts the material realm. And we living entities are called "marginal" because we can enter into either realm.
The living entities, or jivatmas, are individual spiritual parts of the supreme whole. Krsna, and like Him are eternal, cognizant, and blissful. We are tiny unique individuals with free will. Thus we are one with yet different from God—one in quality but different in quantity.
As a part of the body serves the whole body, the jivatma naturally serves and loves Krsna. But because love cannot be forced, we have free will and independence to turn from Krsna at any time.
The material world offers a tempting alternative. an illusory opportunity to become master rather than servant. Maya misinforms us that we can be the controllers of nature.
Still, it is very difficult to understand how we fell into this material world. Srila Prabhupada recommends that if you fall into the ocean, your first priority is to get out; never mind how you fell in. In our illusioned, conditioned state, it is a waste of time to wonder how we got here. Yet if we simply apply ourselves to the process of getting free of illusion and death, everything will automatically become clear.
Our environment and our bodies sicken, age, and die, despite our best efforts to maintain the status quo. But maya is so strong that despite repeated defeat we still imagine that we are, or soon will be, God. Krsna controls maya, but when we try to imitate Krsna, maya controls us.
It is not possible to get out of maya's control by our own strength. But when we turn to Krsna, our perfect friend. He helps us. We may forget Him, but He never forgets us. He remains with us as Supersoul and acts to enlighten us and bring us back to Godhead.
Krsna says, "When you surrender to Me, you can easily cross over illusion and material miseries." If we turn to Him. He causes the illusory energy to subside and enriches us with knowledge. But first we must give up our false ego of denying Him or competing with Him. Our real ego and unity with God are in service and love.
We cannot conquer the Absolute by forceful assault. But if we approach Him with love and service, then He may be pleased to reveal Himself to us. This process of approach is called bhakti-yoga and must be performed under the guidance of a spiritual master who is a pure devotee of the Lord.
You ask if we can experience intensity only in matter. The answer is that experience is possible only for conscious entities. As we become purified of the dulling effects of matter, our consciousness clears and our experience intensifies. In the spiritual realm, pleasure and realization increase without end.
Contending with Crime and Conflict
This is the continuation of a conversation between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of his disciples in New Vrindaban. West Virginia, on June 26, 1976.
Srila Prabhupada: Actually, I've seen in New York that in some quarters, it is so nasty. Disaster. So many storefronts and houses lying vacant. Just after my arrival there. I would sometimes walk to see various parts of the city. Hellish condition. People said it was risky, but [laughing] I did not know that it was risky.
One electrician who was my friend said. "Oh, Swamiji, you are going to that quarter? It is not for you. Don't."
"Oh, I do not care. What have I got that they could take from me?"
So I was going here and there in New York City. So many nasty quarters. London, also. So many houses vacant.
Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, some say there is more chance of being killed in New York City than in the jungle. Violent criminals are roaming the neighborhoods to rob and rape, because they know that very often, modern society isn't going to do much to stop them. These thugs can literally get away with murder.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. People warned me not to go to Central Park in the evening. They said at night nobody goes there.
Disciple: That's quite true, Srila Prabhupada. At night ordinary people are afraid to go there. They have to stay inside, behind locked doors. Nobody can go to the park. Except the muggers and killers. They practically own the place.
Srila Prabhupada: Such an important park in such an important city, and no one can go there.
Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, it seems people are realizing how bad this modern civilization is. But is there anything this civilization has done that's good—even if just by accident? People are hoping against hope. because their civilization is so bad.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. That is why they support this "accident" theory of the universe. Because ordinarily in their civilization, there is no good. There is no possibility of good. But some good may come by accident, that's all. Otherwise, jagato 'hitah: world destruction—in their civilization, there is only fault.
But accidentally, good sometimes comes. Accidentally, this Krsna consciousness movement came here [laughing], although it was already going on in India. Nobody here called for Krsna consciousness—the scientists. the politicians. But as if by accident it came. As if by accident they got this benefit. They cannot explain the workings of God: therefore, they take everything as an accident.
[To disciple:] Go on reading.
Disciple [reading from Bhagavad-gita 16.9]: "The demoniac are engaged in activities that will lead the world to destruction. The Lord states here that they are less intelligent The materialists, who have no concept of God, think that they are advancing. But according to Bhagavad-gita, they are unintelligent and devoid of all sense. They try to enjoy this material world to the utmost limit and therefore always engage in inventing something for sense gratification. Such materialistic inventions are considered to be advancement of human civilization, but the result is that people grow more and more violent and more and more cruel—cruel to animals and cruel to other human beings. They have no idea how to behave toward one another. Animal killing is very prominent amongst demoniac people. Such people are considered the enemies of the world, because ultimately they will invent or create something which will bring destruction to all. Indirectly, this verse anticipates the invention of nuclear weapons, of which the whole world is today very proud. At any moment war may take place, and these atomic weapons may create havoc. Such things are created solely for the destruction of the world, and this is indicated here. Due to godlessness, such weapons are invented in human society; they are not meant for the peace and prosperity of the world."
Srila Prabhupada: Now discuss.
Disciple: If we look back over this century, Srila Prabhupada, we can't find many years of peace. The Russo-Japanese War, the First World War, the Second World War. the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and hundreds of what they call "low-intensity conflicts." But always some kind of war going on. Whether in the Middle East or Latin America or Africa, people are always fighting over land and industrial resources. It seems some kind of war always has to be going on.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, always some war. "Cold war" or "hot war," as they say. When there is the fire of physical combat that is a hot war. And when there are diplomacy and politics, that is a cold war. So war is going on. Sometimes it is hot; sometimes it is cold. There is no peace.
Disciple: And what's more, Srila Prabhupada, we even see that among the so-called God conscious communities, still there are such horrible activities going on. Fighting.
Srila Prabhupada: No. no. we don't say that all fighting has to stop. We are drawing a distinction between fighting by demons and fighting by demigods. If you are a demon and you come to attack me. then I must defend myself. What can I do?
If you start a war, you are a demon. Shall I decline from fighting you? "No, no. I am a demigod—I shall not fight. You can kill me." Is that intelligent? I'll have to fight
But war starts by the instigation of the demoniac. The Kuruksetra war—it was not started by Arjuna. It was started by Duryodhana.
(To be continued.)
Answering the Skeptics
After I lectured recently to a class of philosophy students, an articulate young man raised his doubts. "I can't see the difference between what you said and what the atheists say," he said. "How do you mystics, who maintain the absolute incomprehensibility of the Deity, differ from skeptics and atheists who assert that the first cause is unknown and unintelligible?"
I replied that the Absolute Truth is not absolutely incomprehensible. He is often defined in a negative way, because the nondevotional mentality cannot find Him in the material world, yet He is knowable to some extent through devotional service. Atheists claim that God cannot be known by human beings, and that therefore there is no God. But the theist says that God is so great that He cannot be known by us unless He reveals Himself. And even then we can never know Him in full.
My reply didn't silence the skeptical student. He said, "I don't know if you're aware of what Immanuel Kant had to say about this. He said that all these arguments for the existence of God are illusory. Their defect is that they are attempts to understand or justify the existence of God based on phenomena that we encounter in space and time. But if you give an example within space and time—such as the argument that a creation requires a creator—and then extend it to realities lying beyond these phenomena, then it is contradictory. What do you have to say to that?"
I replied, "The basis of your doubt, or Kant's, is that the Supreme Being is beyond the grasp of our finite minds. We also say that. But that doesn't prove Him nonexistent. You must investigate all methods of knowledge before you say that God can never be understood. We Krsna conscious theists respect the natural theistic explanation of God. Yes, the mysterious and complicated nature of the universe does suggest a superior intelligence or designer. But explanations such as this are only partial. The ultimate knowledge of God comes by revelation, through scripture and from persons who are realized in God consciousness."
Our classroom discussion did not go much beyond this. but later I began to think more about the problems raised by skeptics. It seems that Hume. Kant, and their agnostic successors often reject an idea of God that is really an inadequate one. They seem to think of Him either as a meddler who sometimes makes miracles happen, or as some very, very distant Deity who has no connection with people or the universe. Fortunately, this is not the God we learn of in Krsna consciousness.
As the atheists' concept of God is defective, so is their idea of knowledge of God. The Supreme Being is not an object that can be studied like an ordinary fact or object. Lord Krsna is called Adhoksaja, "beyond material conception." He actively resists all attempts to measure Him. Therefore any valid approach to knowledge of Krsna must involve communion with Him. We can't, for example, understand our next-door neighbor if we treat him only as an object to be studied. So we have to enter into a relationship with Krsna, and then He might allow Himself to be known to us.
One reason the skeptics are so influential is that even the believers are often unclear in their conception of God. For example. God is often presented in a one-sided way. Sometimes a theologian or scripture, while stressing that God is transcendental to the world, doesn't give us much hope that He is also very much within the world. Another one-sided version of the Deity is that He is all-powerful but without a humanlike compassion for suffering. And still another problem: Some think that if God is personal. He must be a fallible person and therefore not worthy of our worship. Such impersonal speculations can never satisfy a sincerely religious quest. Yet despite secularism and confusion in theism, the conception of God in Krsna consciousness is purnam, complete and satisfying.
Lord Caitanya's teachings of acintya-bhedabheda-tattva (God as inconceivably, simultaneously one with and yet different from His creation) is the culmination of centuries of Vaisnava thought. In describing Sri Krsna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Caitanya and His followers draw from the essence of all the Vedic scriptures, especially from Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. Thus we learn of the Supreme Personality of Godhead as "two-sided," or complete. As Maha-Visnu. He is greater than the greatest and as the Supersoul, He is smaller than the smallest. He is transcendental to the material world and the modes of nature, and yet by His energies (which are nondifferent from Him). He exists within every particle of matter. He also comes to this material world—in the forms of His incarnations and His representatives, who teach the compassionate message of liberation and love of God.
Sri Krsna is a person; yet He is not a person in any limited sense. According to Srimad-Bhagavatam. His personality is neither anthropomorphic nor mythical. He possesses very attractive characteristics that make Him approachable and lovable. Lord Krsna s lovable or intimate nature does not, however, detract from His inconceivable greatness as the source of all the material and spiritual worlds.
Lord Brahma, the most learned person in the universe, partly appreciated the completeness of Krsna in His prayers in the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam:
You are very affectionate toward Your devotees. But in spite of Your affection for me, I cannot estimate the potency of Your activities. If I cannot estimate the spiritual potency of Your childlike body, then what can I understand about Your transcendental pastimes?
Lord Brahma goes on to say that the inconceivable Supreme Personality of Godhead cannot be understood by any kind of speculation, but only by hearing about Him from authorized scriptures and realized devotees. Srila Jiva Gosvami has also informed us that unless we accept the inconceivable potency of God, it is not possible for us to understand Him at all. But anyone who can understand a little about the transcendental pastimes, appearance, and disappearance of the Supreme Lord becomes eligible to enter the kingdom of God after quitting the material body.
As we go on hearing and appreciating the complete nature of the science of God, we also understand better why Srila Prabhupada wanted this knowledge distributed. In an age when God has become mostly irrelevant or the vague Deity of ill-informed believers, descriptions of Lord Krsna, the complete Personality of Godhead, achieve victory for pure theism.—SDG