Back to Godhead magazine is a cultural presentation to respiritualize human society. It aims at achieving the following purposes:
1. To help all people distinguish more clearly between reality and illusion, spirit and matter, the eternal and the temporary.
2. To present Krsna consciousness as taught in Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.
3. To help every living being remember and serve Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead.
4. To offer guidance in the techniques of spiritual life.
5. To expose the faults of materialism.
6. To promote a balanced, natural way of life, informed by spiritual values.
7. To increase spiritual fellowship among all living beings, in relationship with Lord Sri Krsna.
8. To perpetuate and spread the Vedic culture.
9. To celebrate the chanting of the holy names of God through the sankirtana movement of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
The Conflict Over Ayodhya
A MOB OF FANATICAL Hindu extremists demolished an ancient mosque in the north Indian town of Ayodhya. Or so we read in the newspapers.
Well, it's not so simple. To begin with, the mosque was only a few hundred years old, hardly meriting the term "ancient." It had gone unused for the past fifty or so years. And Ayodhya holds no special significance for Islam. The Moghul emperor Babar built his mosque in Ayodhya precisely because Ayodhya was revered by Hindus as the birthplace of Visnu's incarnation as Lord Sri Rama.
More than a religious edifice, the mosque was erected as a monument of conquest, a brick reminder to the Hindu natives that they, their land, and their culture were now subjugated. And the fanatical extremists we read about in some newspapers turn up as devout religious workers in others.
Yet the dismantling of the mosque was not a purely religious act. Mixing in with the devotion, strong political forces were at work, parties scheming and struggling, personal fortunes to be made or lost, governments to be kept or toppled. When political and social forces are on the move, it's easy for spirituality to slide into sectarianism. So the noble urge to restore the birthplace of Rama was mingled with ugly rhetoric casting Muslims in the role of ruthless and wicked demons.
Here at Back to Godhead, our intention is not to stand for or against any sectarian side but to stand for Lord Krsna and Lord Rama. Again despite the newspapers, neither Krsna nor Rama is "a Hindu deity." In Bhagavad-gita we find that Krsna is the father of all living beings, in all species, so He is certainly the father of all human beings, whether Hindu, Muslim, Christian, or whatever. And Krsna is the same as Rama.
Or for that matter the same as Allah.
People raised in different families and different cultures have different names for God. But God is one. So when genuine God consciousness prevails, so too does a spirit of universal harmony and friendship.
When material consciousness adulterates the spiritual, then friendship gives way to sectarianism, and people hurl rocks at one another and fight over temples, churches, and mosques.
The solution to such disputes is not to descend to a sterile secularism but to rise to a higher spiritual understanding.
In material consciousness, we think of ourselves in terms of our bodily designations—Indian or American, white or black, Hindu or Muslim. But the first lesson of the Gita is that we are not our bodies—we are all eternal spiritual living beings.
On the purely spiritual platform there are no Christians, Hindus, or Muslims. Everyone is an eternal spark of consciousness and an eternal servant of God.
To bring forth this spiritual understanding, the Vedic scriptures call for us to chant the holy name of God. God's name is as good as God Himself. So by chanting God's name the Hindu, the Christian, the Muslim can purify the heart, wiping away all the dust of material consciousness.
We find names of God in the scriptures of all civilized cultures. So one may chant any of these names. One can rise above sectarian spirit by purely chanting names of God found in the Bible or the Koran or by purely chanting the Vedic maha-mantra—Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
The age we live in is the Age of Quarrel, say the Vedic scriptures. And the only way to peace and amity is the chanting of God's holy name. There is no other way.
The latest BTG issue [Nov/Dec] is for me the most impressive and beautiful one I ever held in my hand.
The stories related to Sri Nathaji and Nathdwara and all the pilgrims were enlivening [Nov/Dec]. Your editorial on how the story unfolded was well presented. My congratulations.
It is always so nice to have BTG appear in the mailbox. Here in Africa, BTG connects us with the mainstream ISKCON. We are inspired with the variety in the articles and columns. One may or may not agree with all the regular contributors. But the fact that you have such a balanced blend of writers, contributing on such divergent topics, shows that the Hare Krishnas are intelligent people with good minds of their own.
The articles on Srinathaji were particularly good. But I was a bit disheartened that you gave more of a Vallabha perspective on the issue than that of the Gaudiyas—and ISKCON is a Gaudiya institution.
For example, how can you talk about Vallabha without mentioning that he was Caitanya Mahaprabhu's dear friend, with whom the Lord ate lunch on several occasions? How can you not mention that he was initiated by Sri Gadadhara Pandita? Or that he was an incarnation of Sukadeva Gosvami? (See Kavikarnapura's Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika, Text 10). Sure the followers of Vallabha may not accept this stuff. But if we present it tastefully, as representatives of our tradition, I see no need to sweep it under the rug.
We believe that our articles on Srinathaji and Sri Vallabhacarya were in line with the Gaudiya teachings (the teachings of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and his followers). We welcomed the opportunity to tell of a devotional tradition so congenial to our own and to put aside needless sectarian concerns. The friendship between Lord Caitanya and Sri Vallabhacarya is accepted by the followers of both, and such friendship should continue between their followers. We see no need to pick quarrels with friends.
Vic Gives Shelter
It is so much fun to read the column by Bhakta Vic. When I saw in Letters that not everyone is as impressed, I felt the urge to express my appreciation for his work.
Young people have a natural tendency to explore life's opportunities by getting involved with different institutions. They often enter the military, become Deadheads, join fraternities and student associations, get a job, and the like. Krishna consciousness is dynamic and exciting when it is being practiced and preached. Traveling festival programs like the KrishnaFest, Padayatra, Boy George concerts, and Bhakta Vic's 108 are some nice examples of hope for the future of the Hare Krishna movement. Bhakta Vic presents Gaudiya Vaisnava philosophy with heartfelt enthusiasm and puts it in the language of his generation. My sincere gratitude to people like him for giving hope to today's searching souls the way Srila Prabhupada gave shelter to us.
Misra Bhagavan Dasa
Grateful for BTG
I would like to give my heartfelt gratitude to all of you behind the superb BTG. Every time I receive an issue I look forward to the next. I get spiritual upliftment from every issue.
Five hundred years ago, the Supreme Lord, Sri Krsna, descended as Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and spread the same message He had spoken fifty centuries before.
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
A lecture given in Mayapur, West Bengal, March 27, 1975
yad advaitam brahmopanisadi tad apy asya tanu-bha
"What the Upanisads describe as the impersonal Brahman is but the effulgence of His body, and the Lord known as the Supersoul is but His localized plenary portion. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna Himself, full with six opulences. He is the Absolute Truth, and no other truth is greater than or equal to Him."
—Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 1.3
THE AUTHOR OF THE Caitanya-caritamrta, Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, is establishing with great stress that there is no greater truth than Krsna Caitanya. We are after truth. The author of the Caitanya-caritamrta is asserting, "Here is the Supreme Truth: Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu."
Krsna has appeared as Krsna Caitanya. We explained this truth yesterday, according to Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya's declaration:
"Let me take shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, who has descended in the form of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu to teach us real knowledge, devotional service to Him, and detachment from whatever does not foster Krsna consciousness. He has descended because He is an ocean of transcendental mercy. Let me surrender unto His lotus feet."
The purusah puranah, the oldest person, is Krsna. Govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami: "I worship Govinda [Krsna], the primeval Lord." In many Vedic scriptures Krsna is described as the puranah purusah, the oldest person. Puranah purusam nava-yauvanam ca: "Although He is the oldest of all, still He is always a fresh youth."
How it this possible? People are trying to understand God. Sometimes they paint a picture of God as a very old man. "Because He is the original person, by this time He must have become very old." That is imagination. That old man is not actually the form of the Lord. The form of the Lord is described in the Brahma-samhita and other Vedic scriptures. Even Sankaracarya, an impersonalist, has accepted Lord Krsna as the supreme Narayana, the Personality of Godhead. Commenting on the Bhagavad-gita, Sankaracarya says, narayanah parah avyaktat: "Narayana is beyond the material creation." And while describing Narayana, he has affirmed, sa bhagavan svayam krsnah: "Narayana is Krsna." To confirm this he has clearly mentioned, "Now He has appeared as the son of Devaki and Vasudeva," because a person's identity is confirmed when his father's name is given.
Krsna is accepted as para-tattva, the Supreme Truth, by all the acaryas, the great spiritual teachers in the Vedic tradition. We are not talking of the fools and rascals who theorize without any knowledge. We are concerned with the authorities. In India, people follow the Vedic system under the authority of the acaryas. Acaryavan puruso veda: "One who follows the path of the acaryas has real knowledge." We cannot accept anyone as an authority if he does not follow the parampara, the disciplic succession of acaryas. That is the Vedic system.
Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami is emphatically asserting, na caitanyat krsnaj jagati para-tattvam param iha: "There is no greater truth than Krsna and Krsna Caitanya." According to the Vedic system, if you say something emphatically you must prove it by Vedic evidence. Otherwise, you can go on talking, but nobody will listen. Sometimes people ask us about Krsna and Caitanya Mahaprabhu—"What are the Vedic evidences?" The Vedic evidences are given in later chapters of Caitanya-caritamrta. Kaviraja Gosvami is not falsely asserting. He is a very, very advanced devotee and scholar, not an ordinary human being. To write Caitanya-caritamrta he was empowered by Madana-mohana, a Deity of Krsna in Vrndavana.
No ordinary person should try to write Vedic literature. Vedic literature means the sruti, the smrti, the Puranas, and so on. Srila Rupa Gosvami has confirmed this:
"Devotional service to the Lord that ignores the authorized Vedic literature like the Upanisads, Puranas, and Narada-pancaratra is simply a needless disturbance in society." Utpata means "simply a disturbance." People claim, "I can manufacture my own way." But this rascaldom has been condemned by Srila Rupa Gosvami. You will find many so-called bhaktas, devotees, imitating the ecstasy of advanced devotees by crying, falling on the ground, and so on. But immediately after their exhibition you will see them smoking. Why? Because they do not follow the injunction of Srila Rupa Gosvami. They chant very loudly, dance, and after the performance is finished—I have seen it—"Can you give me a bidi [a cigarette]?" You see? "My throat is now dried up." This is utpata. Srila Rupa Gosvami has described this kind of so-called devotional attitude as simply a disturbance.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has condemned these imitators. There are so many apa-sampradayas, deviant sects, pretending to be Caitanya Mahaprabhu's devotees. Who are they? Aula, baula, kartabhaja, neda, daravesa, sani, sahajiya, sakhibheki, smarta, jata-gosani, ativadi, cudadhari, and gauranga-nagari. Bhaktivinoda says, "I do not associate with these classes of men." After the disappearance of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, many apa-sampradayas sprang up. So we should be very careful not to be fooled by them.
Sampradaya means those who carefully follow the Vedic principles. Therefore Kaviraja Gosvami, although asserting the truth, is prepared to give Vedic evidences. Now with today's verse he has begun, by citing the Upanisads. The Vedic literature includes the four Vedas, the Upanisads, the Puranas, the Ramayana, the Vedanta-sutra, then the Srimad-Bhagavatam. The Srimad-Bhagavatam is the explanation of the Vedanta-sutra. Therefore at the end of each chapter of the Srimad-Bhagavatam Vyasadeva states, brahma-sutrasya bhasya: "The Srimad-Bhagavatam is the commentary on the Brahma-sutra." Brahma-sutra, or Vedanta-sutra, gives the gist of the Vedic literature in codes. And the Srimad-Bhagavatam explains these codes. The Vedanta-sutra begins, athato brahma-jijnasa: "Now is the time to inquire into the Absolute Truth." And the Srimad-Bhagavatam states, jivasya tattva-jijnasa: "The only business for living beings is to inquire about the Absolute Truth."
That is the only business. People are in trouble because they have given up their real business. Human life is meant for this business—brahma-jijnasa, to inquire about the Absolute Truth. We human beings have been given so many facilities by nature. There are so many living entities who must stand rooted to the ground for many years—the trees, the plants. The aquatics are in the water for many, many years. The flies and insects remain in their condition for many, many years. And gradually, by the soul's evolution, we come to this form of human life.
The Aryans, especially—the advanced, civilized human beings—have all the necessary facilities for inquiry about the Absolute Truth. Uncivilized men, such as those living in the jungle, cannot utilize such resources. Therefore Narottama Dasa Thakura, in a simple Bengali song, says, hari hari biphale janama gonainu: "O Lord Hari, Krsna, I've wasted my life." This is our position. We have the human form of life, but we are simply spoiling it. In the Krsna consciousness movement we are traveling all over the world, and we see that people are spoiling their valuable human life in the false identification that "I am this body"! Under big, big names—"I am American," "I am Indian," "I am German"—they are spoiling their life by this bodily conception.
According to sastra, scripture, anyone who identifies himself with his body is a fool. That is the first instruction of the Bhagavad-gita. Krsna brought Arjuna to fight with the Kurus, and because Arjuna identified himself as the body, Arjuna thought, "Killing my cousin-brothers will not be good, because I have a bodily relation with them." So to dissipate that conception of life, Krsna rebuked him, asocyan anvasocas tvam prajna-vadams ca bhasase: "While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief."
We are talking very big talks and plans, but actually we are nothing better than cats and dogs. This is our position, because we identify with the body. "My country, my community, my society, my family." This is the basic ignorance. Aham mameti: "I and my." People do not know the truth. They are thinking, "I am this body, and anything in relationship with the body is mine." This is ignorance. But this ignorance is going on all over the world.
Therefore in the beginning of the Caitanya-caritamrta the author says:
"I offer my respectful obeisances unto Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Nityananda, who are like the sun and moon. They have arisen simultaneously on the horizon of Gauda to dissipate the darkness of ignorance and thus wonderfully bestow benediction upon all." Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu have come to deliver the fallen souls of the material world who are in the darkness of false conceptions. Somebody just told me that the king of Saudi Arabia has been killed by his own nephew. This is going on. Even in family affairs it is going on. Why? Because of this darkness: aham mameti, "I and mine."
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu along with His associates—Nityananda Prabhu, Advaita Prabhu, Gadadhara Prabhu, Srivasa, and other devotees—are trying to dissipate the darkness of this false identification. Krsna instructed Arjuna about Arjuna's darkness as to his identity. Krsna chided him, "You are talking very big, big words, but you are lamenting on a subject matter for which no learned person laments." Then Krsna said, gatasun agatasums ca nanusocanti panditah: "You are fool number one. No learned person talks like that. Now try to understand the real position."
Krsna then said:
dehino 'smin yatha dehe
"As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change." Or in other words, "First of all try to understand what you are."
That is the beginning of Bhagavad-gita. Bhagavad-gita is not politics. It is knowledge, pure knowledge. The politicians take advantage of it, and the sociologists and so-called swamis and yogis take advantage of it to try to prove their nonsensical theories. But what they present is not at all Bhagavad-gita. Bhagavad-gita "as it is" is pure knowledge, beginning with the first knowledge one has to understand: that we are not the body. Because the basic principle of ignorance is: "I am this body," "I am American," "I am Indian," "I am a brahmana," "I am this," "I am that."
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu points out the same ignorance in a different way. He says, "I am not a brahmana. I am not a ksatriya [warrior]. I am not a vaisya [merchant]. I am not a sudra [laborer]. I am not a brahmacari [celibate student]. I am not a grhastha [householder]. I am not a vanaprastha [retired person]. I am not a sannyasi [renunciant]." These are negations. Then what is the positive? He says, gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah: "I am the servant of the servant of the servant of the gopi-bhartuh, Krsna, who maintains the gopis, His cowherd girlfriends."
So this is also our identity, but we have forgotten. We have forgotten our real relationship with Krsna, and we are trying to be happy by material adjustments. This is modern civilization. One is thinking, "If I get a nice house, a nice motorcar, a nice business, a nice bank balance, a nice wife, nice children ..." This is material civilization. But people do not know that this way they will never be happy. Now, you Europeans and Americans have a good qualification: As I have described many times, you are no longer very much interested in all these "nice" things. The real nice thing is spiritual understanding. That nice thing begins, aham brahmasmi: "I am not this body." That is the beginning of the Bhagavad-gita. Krsna is instructing Arjuna, "You are not this body. You are spirit soul. Try to understand."
We should learn from Krsna. We should learn from Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is Krsna Himself. Therefore the author of Caitanya-caritamrta says, "Accept this authority."
When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu appeared five hundred years ago, people had already become fools and rascals. They did not care for the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita. Therefore He came as a devotee of Krsna to teach us how to serve Krsna, how to love Krsna. This is Caitanya Mahaprabhu's cult. When Krsna appeared He said, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: "Give up everything, all your rascaldom. Just surrender to Me." And Caitanya Mahaprabhu, as a devotee, said the same thing. Yare dekha, tare kaha krsna-upadesa: "Whomever you meet, tell him about Krsna's instructions." Lord Caitanya said nothing new. That is the sign of authenticity. Those who say "I have manufactured some way" are all rascals. In your country it is said, "Old wine in a new bottle." Similarly, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is teaching the same thing as Krsna. Krsna says, mattah parataram nanyat kincid asti dhananjaya: "There is no truth superior to Me." Caitanya Mahaprabhu says the same thing: yare dekha, tare kaha krsna-upadesa. And we are saying the same thing, na caitanyat krsnaj jagati para-tattvam: "There is no truth superior to Krsna Caitanya." Why? Because He is the same truth as Krsna. This is called the parampara system: We are repeating what Krsna said and what Caitanya Mahaprabhu said.
So it is not difficult to understand the Absolute Truth. Krsna says directly, "Surrender to Me." And Caitanya Mahaprabhu says, "Preach Krsna's message." We are not going to teach anything but what is spoken by Krsna and supported by Krsna Caitanyadeva. This is our principle. This is the principle of the Krsna consciousness movement. Krsna preached about Himself, Caitanya Mahaprabhu preached the same principle, and we are preaching the same thing. We do not preach anything else. We do not manufacture anything. That is not our business.
By the grace of Krsna, by the mercy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, you European boys and girls joined this movement at my soliciting. I went to your country with this word only. I did not show you any magic, nor do I have any knowledge of how to play magic. I simply repeat the same message: "Here is Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Here is Krsna Caitanyadeva, the devotional form of Krsna. Accept Them, and your life will be successful."
Thank you very much.
By Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami
May 11, Vicenza
THE PADUA TEMPLE MOVED since I was here last year. The devotees purchased a three-hundred-year-old villa. They call it Prabhupada-desa, "Srila Prabhupada's estate." They have already done lots of work to make the place habitable and modern, but lots of work remains to be done. There isn't much money. Twenty-four devotees live here, including an eight-man traveling party who supply the only income by distributing books.
The project here is worth working for—eighteen acres of farmland and a beautiful old building (a former monastery). The unmarried men have their rooms where the monks used to live. The temporary temple is located in the old chapel. The room still looks ready for a Catholic Mass, but now Gaura-Nitai Deities stand on the high altar, and Srila Prabhupada's seat is located where the pulpit used to be.
Spring is beginning to take hold. The trellises for grape vines are covered in new green. The Roman land is lush. For centuries, people have been stuck in maya because of their attraction to these beautiful gardens, with their fountains and statues and beautiful men and women and the banter of Italian conversation—la dolce vita. There is beauty here, but I find myself turning away from it and instead thinking of another beautiful land, the land of Vraja, Krsna's abode, where Krsna tends His cows beside the meandering Yamuna. I pray to fill my ears and mind and heart with that sight and be transported from Italia to Vraja.
The church bells are ringing seven o'clock. Time to pray.
The Bhagavatam verse this morning told of King Nabhi. When the king performed a sacrificial rite, Lord Visnu appeared in His beautiful transcendental form. Although the king had performed the proper rituals, only because his heart was filled with devotion and faith did Lord Visnu appear. Love was the ingredient that attracted the Lord.
We want to engage ourselves in chanting and hearing such narrations and in this way develop our own devotion to Krsna. But here we are at Prabhupada-desa, trying to renovate buildings and develop a spiritual community. We have little time to simply sit and practice our quiet devotions. Prabhupada wanted to see us work also. In all our work, how can we cultivate faith and devotion? We have to start with our present distracted condition and pray to Krsna that He help us connect our work with Him. And we have to associate with devotees who are successfully doing this and who can inspire us.
We chanted in the early morning in the temple room at Matsya Avatara's home in Perignano. Now we are back on the road. Tonight, an overnight ferry to Sardinia.
Traveling means keeping simple, not just in our physical comforts but in our minds. Whatever material assets we have will be taken away at the end. So in any condition, we have to depend on Krsna. The essence of life is the chanting of the holy name.
Mastya Avatara Prabhu said that there is no injustice in this world. Everything happens by karma. Devotees should be ready to help anyone. No one should be neglected by Krsna's devotee.
Simplicity also means detachment from comforts. Whatever our standard of living, we have to recognize that everything will at the end be taken away. What is the loss? Chanting and hearing don't depend on carpets and sofas.
Sailing time is less than half an hour away, and a gusty wind has started up. The trees and bushes sway in the rain. The sailing will probably be rough. The image comes that my mind is like a rainy, windy sea. I want to chant regardless of the storm, like an experienced mariner in the sea of the mind.
As our van rolls onto the ferry, I can see a young soldier wearing a black beret and carrying heavy bags. There are countless human scenes like this throughout the fourteen worlds: people in line, acting according to the modes of nature—children, young people, middle-agers, old people, men and women, all riding out their karma against the backdrop of water, land, and sky. Can I philosophize about them from the passenger seat of our van? This is not Vrndavana, where the modes of nature hold no sway. This is Italy. I am here to preach. But I am also meant to see these scenes. They should awaken feelings of separation from Vrndavana. Yes, I am supposed to feel separation from Vrndavana, even in the midst of this Italian branch of our human family.
Our host, Gaudacandra Dasa, told us that Sardinia has always been isolated and has retained a pious culture. But European tourists have staked their claim, and things are changing. People are interested in yoga and the New Age. From the ferry, we drove by beaches filled with bathers under umbrellas and went straight downtown to the ISKCON center. It's a private house converted into a temple.
In addition to half a dozen full-time devotees, twenty people more were present for the Wednesday evening lecture and feast. I spoke on Bhagavad-gita As It Is. Afterwards a schoolteacher asked me, "If someone was a Christian and became interested in Krsna consciousness, what would it do for him?"
I replied, "He'd be a better Christian."
The devotees in Sardinia are about to open a beautiful restaurant. Although it is located down a narrow street, the decor is high class. We went with Gaudacandra to visit the not-yet-opened place. Merchants on the block observed us as we went in, and Gaudacandra waved back to each of them. He wants to live with them in peace.
Tonight we will be back in line, waiting to go to Sicily.
When I arrived in Palermo, I told the devotees about Prabhupada's first visit to Rome, in 1974. At that time the temple president apologized to Prabhupada for the noisy street out-side the temple. Prabhupada said, "The noise means you have a good location." By that standard the Palermo center is also in a good location. It is surrounded by newsstands, high-rise apartments, and heavy traffic. Only five or six devotees live here, but the party of traveling book-distributors from Florence were also visiting, and the temple was full.
We spoke of Prabhupada's instruction that we should sacrifice to help others, but we also recognized that we have to protect ourselves against maya. By following our spiritual practices and by fully engaging in devotional service, we can be saved. Then from that safe position we can work to save others.
One devotee asked me how we can develop compassion. Krsna will give us whatever we want in Krsna consciousness. If we pray for compassion and try to practice it, Krsna will award it. He gives us the intelligence by which we can come to Him and serve Him.
Another question: "How can you desire something from Krsna before you have deserved it?" I translated that to myself into How can I desire to feel separation from Vrndavana or taste the bliss of chanting Hare Krsna when I am still full of impurities? I gave a long reply, but then added, "I may not deserve the nectar of the holy name, but I must have it. We have to be hungry for Krsna's mercy."
The tour through Italy encourages me to go deeper, to become hungrier for the holy name and for Krsna's association, wherever I may be.
Cooking Class: Lesson 6
By Yamuna Devi
OLD DELHI AND NEW DELHI ARE two different worlds. The labyrinth of Old Delhi's streets and narrow lanes, often open only to foot traffic, contrasts vividly with New Delhi's spacious, tree-lined boulevards with their stately homes and gardens tucked neatly behind compound walls. It was in Chippiwada, in the Chandni Chowk section of teeming Old Delhi, that Srila Prabhupada resided, printed books, and spoke about Krsna in the late fifties and early sixties.
In 1970, I visited Delhi for the first time and met some of the people Srila Prabhupada had lived and worked among many years before. One of the most fascinating and helpful was a Mrs. Joshi, a devotee with connections to Vrndavana's famous Sri Radha-Ramana Temple. This kind and intelligent woman not only became a good friend and nursed me back to health after my first serious bout with dysentery, but more important she was a veritable treasure house of stories about Srila Prabhupada and his many trips to her home.
Mrs. Joshi was an inspired example of spiritual standards in the kitchen. She had deep devotion to Lord Krsna, and her intuition, skill, and experience merged with the subtle compositions of her dishes. In Mrs. Joshi's capable hands, her kitchen brought forth excellence.
Which brings me to her griddle-fried breads called parathas, the subject of this cooking class. While not as common as griddle-baked capati flat-breads, they are popular treats for everything from a lunch box to a late-evening meal. Made from a dough of ghee-enriched flour and water, the breads, in their simplest form, are rolled, layered, brushed with ghee, folded, turned, and rolled out again. When they're slipped onto a hot oiled griddle, the layers of dough separate, fill with steam, and puff into flaky leaves of pastrylike bread. Parathas can also be stuffed, usually with mashed potatoes, minted peas, mixed vegetables, or shredded radish.
While in Chippiwada, I sampled radish parathas made by various cooks, but Mrs. Joshi's were the best. They were similar to those mentioned in the class textbook, Lord Krishna's Cuisine. She sometimes served these to Srila Prabhupada, and he liked them very much.
On one of my first outings through Chandni Chowk's famous food bazaar, to my amazement Mrs. Joshi brought me to a street called Paratha Gully. Behind scores of coal fires, cooks enticed passersby to sample an endless variety of the flatbreads, their fragrance wafting through the air. No doubt Paratha Gully has been there for decades and, barring a catastrophe, will likely be there for decades to come.
If you are following the classes in this column, it's time to dig in and learn about making paratha dough and then cooking the parathas. (See pages 119-136 of Lord Krishna's Cuisine.) If you don't have access to an Indian store where capati flour is sold, buy whole-wheat pastry flour from a natural-food store and combine it with unbleached pastry flour. Then try doughs with pastry flour alone, or pastry flour mixed with rye or triticale flour. Prepare simple layered parathas, and then you can try two or three stuffed varieties.
If you want to sample a quick paratha, redolent of Mrs. Joshi's original, give the following recipe a try.
Quick Radish Parathas
(Makes 6 parathas)
This is a simple nontraditional way to make a paratha that will give you a good idea what traditional parathas are like. I hope they'll inspire you to try some of the paratha recipes in Lord Krishna's Cuisine.
1 cup finely shredded radish, pressed dry
2 ½ cups organic whole-wheat flour, or 1 ½ cups sieved organic whole-wheat flour mixed with ¾ cup unbleached white flour
Place the dry ingredients for the capatis in a large bowl and mix well. Add 2/3 cup of water, pouring fast at first, then in dribbles, until a rough mass of dough forms. Knead until silky smooth, about five minutes. Add flour or water as necessary. Roll the dough into a smooth ball, cover well, and set aside for half an hour, or up to two hours, at room temperature.
Knead the dough briefly, divide it into twelve smooth balls, and cover them with a damp cloth. Warm a heavy griddle over moderately low heat for several minutes. Press a ball of dough into a patty, dip both sides in flour, and roll it into a thin round, just over six inches in diameter. When rolling, use just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the counter.
Half slap, half slip the disk onto the griddle. If there are wrinkles, wait until the bottom of the capati is firm before trying to press them out. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until the top of the capati lightens in color and small bubbles begin to appear. Turn the capati over and cook for ½ to 1 minute. Set aside. Repeat for the rest of the capatis. (Normally the capatis would be cooked over a flame when they come off the griddle, but we're skipping that step for these capatis. We'll cook them more in the paratha recipe below.)
Combine in a bowl the radish, chili flakes, coriander, cilantro, and cheese. Season with a little salt and pepper and toss to mix.
Place the capatis on a work surface and liberally brush the edges with water. Spread the radish mixture evenly over six of the capatis. Place a capati over each of the filling-topped capatis, and then press to seal the edges.
Preheat a griddle over moderate heat and brush on a film of butter or oil. Gently lift a stuffed capati and slip it onto the griddle. Cook it for about 1 ½ minutes on each side, until it's golden brown. (The cheese helps bind the filling and prevent it from slipping out of the paratha. If you're not using cheese, handle with care.)
Offer to Krsna hot off the griddle.
Is Milk for Everyone?
By Hare Krsna Devi Dasi
IF MILK IS SO BENEFICIAL, WHY IS there so much controversy about it? The controversy on milk dates back to the 1950s through the 1970s. During that time, international relief agencies gave out millions of tons of surplus milk at home and abroad. They received many complaints that people who drank the milk suffered severe gas pains, cramps, and diarrhea. Was the powdered milk poisoned? Was it mixed with polluted water? No, that wasn't the problem.
In 1965 a team of research physicians from the Johns Hopkins Medical School discovered that many of the people who suffered from drinking milk were unable to digest lactose, a complex sugar found in milk. Large, complex sugar molecules in milk can't pass through the wall of the small intestines until broken into simple sugars. The enzyme lactase performs this transformation. Lactase is generally found in all young mammals (except seals and walruses), but as mammals get older, many lose the ability to produce lactase: they become lactose intolerant.
Researchers eventually found that an adult human being able to digest a cold glass of milk was exceptional. The population with the highest concentration of lactose-tolerant adults was the Northern Europeans. Some anthropologists speculated that with-out the peculiar quality of lactose tolerance, Europeans would have died of calcium deficiency. Lactose tolerance and light skin (to help absorb Vitamin D from the sun) were physical adaptations that helped Northern Europeans survive.
People who latched on to these ideas came to the conclusion that light skin and milk-drinking go together. It's unreasonable to expect people from genetic backgrounds other than Northern European to drink milk, they said.
Milk in Other Cultures
But what about the dark-skinned African cow-herding people such as the Fulani pastoralists or the Masai? Or the ancient Hebrews who so eagerly sought the land of milk and honey? And what about the people of India? If it's unnatural for non-Europeans to take milk, how can we explain some of the dietary practices of Africans, Middle Easterners, and South Asians?
Information from the U.S. National Dairy Council gives us several clues. The Dairy Council explains that cheeses, especially aged ones, usually don't cause adverse reactions, because they are low in lactose. Also, many lactose-intolerant people can eat sweetened milk preparations such as milk shakes and ice cream. These pass more slowly through the digestive system, giving it more time to break down the sugars. Finally, yogurt is well tolerated because the active cultures in most yogurts contain their own enzyme to digest lactose and break it down into simple sugars.
So part of the explanation for use of milk outside Northern Europe lies in the techniques employed to pre-serve the milk. If you leave a cup of milk out in the open for a day or two, bacteria will get at it, and it will spoil. So different peoples around the world have developed different methods to preserve milk from unwanted bacteria. There are basically four techniques: You can heat the milk, you can change its structure (as in making butter and curd), you can add a culture to it (to produce yogurt, for example), or you can cool it to about 40 degrees F (as in the modern dairy).
Even in ancient times, Northern Europeans could preserve milk by cooling it (they also made cheese and yogurt). And as recently as a hundred years ago, the typical American farmhouse often had a springhouse or milk cellar to keep milk products cool. But these weren't practical options for people from warm climates. Instead, the Africans and Mediterranean people relied on cultured milk products, and Indians used curd, cultured yogurt, and sweetened hot milk. These are all products that fit the Dairy Council's list of foods least likely to cause problems of lactose intolerance.
Modern Medicine Copies Tradition
According to the late October issue of Hoard's Dairyman, more than fifty million Americans are lactose intolerant, but many products help people take advantage of the benefits of milk. In a way, modern pharmaceutical products like Lactaid and Lac-trace do the same thing as yogurt. They provide the enzymes to break down milk sugars into digestible components so anyone can consume milk products. Products such as Nu Trish (milk fortified with acidophilus bacteria) and Easy 2% (a lactase-fortified milk) also aid the digestion of lactose sugar the way yogurt does.
Who Needs Milk?
Milk is an excellent source of three important nutrients: protein, calcium, and several B vitamins. Though the body can get protein and calcium from other sources, for certain B vitamins the body depends on milk.
In the vegetarian diet, milk plays an essential role by providing vitamin B12 (cobalamin). Most animals have micro-organisms in their stomachs that produce B12, but human beings do not. Their only natural sources of B12 are meat and milk. The body needs vitamin B12 to properly develop red blood cells. A deficiency can cause pernicious and megaloblastic anemia.
For anyone trying to understand the subtleties of spiritual science, possibly the most important role of vitamin B12 is that it helps maintain proper functioning of the nervous system, including brain cells. A deficiency of B12 may take as long as five to ten years to show, but gradually it leads to "unsteadiness, poor memory, confusion, moodiness, delusions, overt psychosis, and eventually death."
Srila Prabhupada emphasizes the value of milk in developing brain tissue for spiritual understanding:
The cow is the most important animal for developing the human body to perfection. The body can be maintained by any kind of foodstuff, but cow's milk is particularly essential for developing the finer tissues of the human brain so that one can understand the intricacies of transcendental knowledge.
—Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.5.7, purport
The B12 content of milk is greatest in whole milk, fresh from the cow. But the body needs only a small amount of B12, and it can get what it needs even when the milk is heated. Ninety percent of the B12 remains after pasteurization, and seventy percent remains after boiling from two to five minutes.
Milk and the Vedic Tradition
In preparing this article, I consulted Syamasundara Mahajana (Samika Rsi Dasa), a Pennsylvania physician and long-time supporter of ISKCON's cow protection programs.
Dr. Mahajana told me, "I was in India for twenty-four years before coming to the U.S. to practice medicine. In all that time, I never heard of one case of lactose intolerance. It's hard to say why Americans have so much difficulty with lactose intolerance.
"Partly it may be related to genetic reasons, but it could also be due to the way milk products are consumed here. In India, milk is usually boiled to kill the bacteria, and people drink the milk hot, sweetened with sugar. Boiling the milk breaks down the protein so it is easier to digest. In America the milk is pasteurized but not boiled. It's also homogenized, and people drink it cold. This may be contributing to the problem."
Prabhupada taught devotees to drink milk "sipping hot"—so hot you have to sip it. He said that cold milk loses its nutritional value.
Another devotee I consulted was Bhagavata Dasa, a holistic medical adviser who knows a lot about Ayurveda. (Ayurveda is India's ancient traditional medicine, which comes from the Vedic scriptures.)
He gave me some interesting information from the Ayur Veda Saukhyam of Raja Todaramalla, the minister of health for the Moghul emperor Akbar in the sixteenth century. According to the Ayur Veda, I learned, warm milk straight from the cow promotes strength and stimulates the digestion, but cold milk causes rheumatism and arthritis, and (as detected by the researchers at Johns Hopkins) toxic gases.
Hot boiled milk alleviates mucus and won't put fat on the body. It also helps calm the nerves. This helps explain why hot milk is so widespread in many cultures as a bedtime relaxer. Saffron or cardamom added to milk also reduces mucus. Finally, according to the Ayur Veda, the thick skin of cream on milk promotes strength and virility and alleviates bile and gas. (This made me think of Dr. Mahajana's criticism of homogenized milk, which does not contain that thick layer of cream.)
Countless benefits—physical and spiritual—are to be had by drinking properly prepared milk products. So people of all cultures should take advantage of the miracle in milk. As Srila Prabhupada wrote in his commentary on Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.16.4): "There is a miracle in milk, for it contains all the necessary vitamins to sustain human physiological conditions for higher achievements. Brahminical culture can advance only when man is educated to develop the quality of goodness, and for this there is a prime necessity of food prepared with milk...."
Bhakti-yoga at Home
"Help! My Husband Is Not a Devotee!"
By Rohininandana Dasa
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOUR spouse isn't a devotee of Krsna? Or how would you counsel someone in that situation? How would you decide what is the "right" thing to do?
I recently received a letter from an aspiring devotee named Susan, who wrote that she felt trapped, not knowing which way to turn. Susan came to Krsna consciousness five years ago when she read The Perfection of Yoga. Her husband, James, had given her the book, thinking it was about exercises. Susan read it excitedly and sent away for the Bhagavad-gita As It Is, which she said "felt like a delicious wave of warm water flowing over me. It was as if everything I had thought all my life had been written down on paper."
At first James showed some interest in Krsna consciousness, and both he and Susan went to a few Hare Krsna functions. They were looking for alternative ways of thinking and living. Susan began to get what she called "a higher taste." But James didn't like the pushy zealousness of some of the devotees, and his interest waned. Now he criticizes her efforts to practice Krsna consciousness, so Susan finds it hard to do all she would like for Krsna, although she manages to chant fourteen rounds a day and read Srila Prabhupada's books. She wonders if it is possible to serve Krsna by looking after a family uninterested in Krsna consciousness, and sometimes even belligerently against it.
Susan also mentioned that some devotees have advised her to tolerate her situation and others say she should leave home. She loves her husband and family, and now that she is beginning to love Krsna she finds herself confused. Does being Krsna conscious mean she must choose between her family and Krsna? And even if such a choice is ultimately required, when is the right time to make it?
As I began to reply, my first thought was, "Is she making any assumptions? How does she know that James is not a devotee and she is?"
So I wrote:
"By broad definition, only two kinds of living beings exist: those who are Krsna conscious and those who aren't. Although every soul is Krsna conscious by nature, some have willfully turned away from the Lord. Of these errant wanderers, some are trying to approach Him again. When these sincere souls become free from material taints and forgetfulness of Krsna, they are reinstated as His eternal associates, His devotees.
"The word devotee, therefore, means pure devotee. We're not devotees yet. We're aspiring devotees.
"When we look at things in this way, could it not be that your husband, like you, is also an aspiring devotee? Broadly speaking, anyone who accepts God as his worshipable Lord is a devotee.
"It may be that your husband resents the very idea that he must submit to someone or something greater than himself. If this is the case, he will naturally resent your efforts to approach the Lord. He may be afraid that Lord Krsna has come between you and him and is planning to take you away from him. You may find that the only way you can practice your Krsna consciousness is to be more secretive, as if you have a secret lover.
"But if your husband is not fundamentally envious of Lord Krsna's existence, it may be that internally he yearns for spirituality. After all, Krsna consciousness lies dormant within everyone, as fire lies dormant within wood. And just as fire can be awakened within wood, a person's divine consciousness can be awakened by the right association. How can we help to draw out James's love for Krsna?
"In your letter you mention that he feels pressured by your evangelistic efforts (like trying to get him to be a vegetarian and read Prabhupada's books). His perception may have more to do with the dynamics of your relationship than with Krsna consciousness. If so, you might want to give him room to express his feelings.
"Suppose I am the owner of a scruffy, uncared-for garden, and my neighbor spends his time fussing about it and criticizing me. How will I feel? To keep the peace I may begrudgingly do some-thing, but I'm not likely to feel much love for my neighbor or my garden.
"But suppose my neighbor is a blissfully keen gardener who sometimes leaves luscious fruits and vegetables on my doorstep? I'll probably look at his beautiful garden and think, 'Let me do something about mine!'
"A devotee is like a gardener busily tending her creeper of devotion. With her mind absorbed in thought of her beautiful Lord Krsna, her face mirrors His beauty and good qualities. As Krsna is attractive, so is she.
"Krsna conscious people are so overwhelmed with their research of the Absolute Truth that their enthusiasm bubbles over and they want to share their newfound treasures of transcendental knowledge. Gradually they learn discretion and tact.
"Krsna consciousness is an educational movement, not a proselytizing one. Changing from one faith to another is superficial compared to the universal education that Krsna consciousness offers.
"A couple I know who were undergoing friction and frustration in their relationship have now agreed to meet halfway. She goes with him to the Hare Krsna temple, and he goes with her to Mass. They have also agreed to accept any religious principles favorable to their spiritual lives. So they offer their food to God.
"Krsna consciousness is meant to enhance things, not tear everything down.
"If you can arrange for James to meet someone experienced and skilled at explaining the science of Krsna consciousness, he may find that his doubts and aversion taper off.
"A person I know whose husband has been practicing Krsna consciousness for eighteen years has only recently visited a Hare Krsna temple for the first time. Are you prepared to wait for James? Perhaps you can gradually acclimatize him by taking him out to a Govinda's Restaurant or to the home of a devotee who is in a social situation similar to yours. Perhaps he felt he was thrown in at the deep end.
"Now what about you? What about the health of your devotional creeper in a difficult, restrictive atmosphere? As your husband feels intimidated by you, so you feel stifled by him. He is correct when he says that everyone is an individual and must decide whether or not to be Krsna conscious. By the same token, he can respect your right to choose for yourself. When discussing the position of a woman married to a man who was not following the principles of Krsna consciousness, Srila Prabhupada said, 'If she, or anyone, wants to keep herself pure, she can keep herself pure in any circumstances.'
"Be assured that because you are an authentic student of an authentic process your success is guaranteed. A dedicated gardener who has good seed, fertile soil, plentiful rain and sun, and the all-important mercy of God is guaranteed a bumper crop. So too, your success is assured by the gifts of Srila Prabhupada and Lord Caitanya. And as the gardener's family gets to share the produce, so your family will share the fruits of your spiritual progress.
"You ask if it's possible to serve Krsna by looking after your family. In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna says that whatever we do can be done as an offering to Him. Mother Theresa once said that she is not actually a servant of the poor but a servant of God. So you are not a servant of your family, but a servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krsna, the root of all spiritual and material worlds. The water you pour to nourish your devotional service gives spiritual benefit to all living beings in the universal tree, from the demigods to the insects—what to speak of your husband and children.
"So all in all you are not as trapped as you may think, and you are well on the road to full freedom."
By Urmila Devi Dasi
Srila Prabhupada Wanted Iskcon's educational system to produce high-class people, high not in wealth or status but in character. We often describe the ideal character of a brahmana (intellectual) as tolerant and austere, of a ksatriya (civic leader) as heroic, and so on. Yet for the training of our children, Srila Prabhupada also emphasized another quality: independence.
Brahmanas, ksatriyas, and vaisyas (farmers and merchants) can create their own vocations. Whether working directly in the service of Krsna or working to maintain their families, they don't need to beg from others, and they don't need much supervision. Such higher-class persons, willingly obedient to the spiritual master, are self-disciplined and therefore self-reliant. When we understand this kind of independence, we remove the problem of finding a vocational "place" for our children. They don't need to beg work from anyone, in or out of ISKCON. For the self-disciplined, independent person, is there not unlimited work, unlimited service?
Make a list with your child of ways to spread Krsna consciousness. Surely he or she will have the ability and the inclination to perform some of them. Many will also provide income. Your child can choose a service and begin to prepare for it.
Here are some ideas:
1. Open a prasadam restaurant.
Here are some suggestions for fostering a higher-class mentality in your children, a mentality in which they'll find positive ways to function independently.
Don't think in terms of getting your son or daughter a good job and tying them to mundane schooling for that purpose. Let your child know that striving for "job security" by waiting upon others is less important than becoming Krsna conscious and teaching Krsna consciousness.
Put emphasis on practical education. From age eleven to age fourteen, let your children spend lots of time with adults who can train them in practical work. Most adolescents benefit from friendships with their peers. But learning practical service from adults and making spiritual friendship with them may provide a deeper relationship that is more valuable for bringing out good character.
Give the child some social, economic, and familial responsibility, at least by age twelve. For example, a fifteen-year-old can regularly volunteer some time at the local temple for a Krsna conscious project such as Food for Life. Even a twelve-year-old can do valuable service or earn money that will mean something for a family or a project. And as children mature, they can take on chores that demand more competence.
Give your children as much responsibility as they can handle. But for children under sixteen, be strict in giving strong direction in moral and spiritual decisions. Srila Prabhupada taught that children under sixteen should be dealt with so firmly that they won't even consider disobeying. Especially, it's up to you to set guide-lines on such matters as what they read, what they watch on TV, how they treat intoxicants, and how they behave toward members of the opposite sex. We don't tell a fourteen-year-old, "Now I've informed you about marijuana, but it's your choice." We simply forbid it.
If a child of sixteen or older still depends on you for money, treat him the same way you would a friend in that circumstance—and expect the same compliance with rules.
See adolescents as useful members of society and give them opportunities to feel useful.
Train children from as young as possible to use intelligence in Krsna's service.
Reward them for doing things voluntarily. Encourage vision and plans, even if undeveloped and immature.
Consciousness and The "New Physics"
By Sadaputa Dasa
ALTHOUGH QUANTUM mechanics has been around since before World War II, many scientists refer to it as the new physics. They suggest that it conveys deep insights into the nature of consciousness, insights that confirm the mystical teachings of yogis and herald a new age of enhanced awareness.
But does quantum mechanics (or QM) truly reveal anything about consciousness and its role in nature? A close look at the theory shows that it doesn't. Attempts to analyze the role of "the observer" in QM show that the theory is plagued with persistent conceptual problems. And when we try to bring consciousness into the picture, those problems simply get worse.
To see why this is so, let's consider an idealized experiment, the simple "delayed-choice split-beam experiment" proposed by physicist John Wheeler. As shown in the figure, this experiment involves a light source, S, that fires single photons of light at a half-silvered mirror, A. This mirror divides the light equally into two beams, which then reflect from two fully reflective mirrors, B and C. The two beams mix at a second half-silvered mirror, D.
Two photodetectors, E and F, are mounted on a sliding base so they can be placed in position (1) or (2). In position (1) the two detectors respond to the light after the beams mix at D. With strong monochromatic light, the detectors seem to register the effects of light-wave interference between the two beams. The same thing happens when the light is so weak that photons emerge from the source only one at a time: let many successive photons go through, and one photodetector will count significantly more photon hits than the other. We account for the difference in hitting rates by assuming that each photon splits into two waves, which interfere with one another at D.
When placed in position (2), the two photodetectors reveal a curious phenomenon. After a photon emerges from the source, either E registers a hit or F registers a hit, but not both. So in this arrangement it appears that the photons do not split. Either a photon follows the right-hand path (SABE) and hits photodetector E, or it follows the left-hand path (SACF) and hits detector F. We never see both E and F responding to the same photon.
If this is true, it means the photons are arriving one at a time. How then could they build up an interference pattern at D? Interference requires two waves to interfere, and surely this is not possible if the photons must approach D one by one, by one path or the other. It seems, then, that QM is saying contradictory things about how the photons behave.
Niels Bohr, a pioneer quantum physicist, resolved that problem by saying this: If the detectors are in position (1) they respond only to light coming through D, the two beams interfering with one another. The detectors don't tell us that each photon must follow only one of the two paths. And if the detectors are in position (2) they block the photons from reaching D, and therefore we see no split photons interfering. So we can suppose that in arrangement (1) the photon seems to split but in arrangement (2) it doesn't. Bohr concluded that whether or not the photon seems to split depends on how we set up the observational apparatus. What we are prepared to observe affects what seems to happen.
Wheeler made Bohr's interpretation more striking by noting that one may position the photodetectors after the photon has left mirror A, which splits the beam. We might think that at this point either the photon has split or it has followed one of the two paths, through B or C.
According to Wheeler's analysis, whether we see interference or see photons coming on separate paths still depends on the position chosen for the photodetectors.
Does this mean that the photon has split or stayed single as a consequence of a choice made later? Wheeler says no. He concludes, "No phenomenon is a phenomenon until it is an observed phenomenon." In other words, one can't say anything about the photon before the observation, which, so to speak, brings the observed phenomenon into existence. Wheeler generalizes on this by saying, "The universe does not 'exist, out there.' ... It is in some strange sense a participatory universe."
Now, this might seem to tell us something profound about consciousness. It might seem to suggest that consciousness somehow plays a crucial role in the phenomena of nature.
But this is not the case. First of all, what is an "observer" in QM? In every case the observer is a physical device. Here the observer is a photo detector, which might consist of a photographic plate, an electronic photocell, or even the retina of someone's eye. Wheeler's analysis doesn't mention whether or not a conscious human being ever becomes aware of what the photodetectors are doing. We don't think of a photodetector itself as conscious (even when it is a retina), and in analyzing the experiment the idea of consciousness plays no role. The strange phenomena predicted by Wheeler's theory tell us nothing about consciousness.
Still, some physicists have tried to introduce consciousness into their analysis of quantum mechanical experiments. For example, John von Neumann suggested that the time when a phenomenon becomes an observed phenomenon can be delayed until the experimental data is perceived by the "abstract ego" of the human observer. It almost seems as though von Neumann's analysis of quantum phenomena has led him to posit a nonphysical soul.
But von Neumann's line of thought requires him to postulate that detectors E and F in position (2) go into a kind of schizoid state in which E fires but not F, and F fires but not E. Furthermore, the brain of the human observer must go into a state in which it registers E firing but not F, and F firing but not E.
This is the unsatisfactory state of affairs that Erwin Schrodinger discussed in his "cat paradox," in which quantum phenomena give rise to a cat that is simultaneously dead and alive. Wheeler avoids this problem by cutting short his analysis at the photodetectors and not bringing consciousness into the picture.
What happens if we try to introduce a universal observer—the Supersoul as described in Bhagavad-gita? One might think that since the Supersoul is all-seeing, He must know whether the photon splits at mirror A or follows the path to B or C without splitting. But if quantum mechanics is correct, what the Supersoul sees must conform to the observations allowed by the arrangement of the physical detectors. According to QM, a phenomenon is not a phenomenon until physical devices "observe" it. If we posit a nonphysical observer who can see things independently of the physical apparatus, we get into trouble with the quantum theory.
A Deeper Theory of Nature
So what can we say about quantum mechanics and consciousness? Even though QM has an excellent record of accurately predicting certain physical phenomena, it is a physical theory afflicted by serious conceptual difficulties. I would propose that QM is not a fully correct description of physical reality, and a better theory may eventually replace it. Wheeler declares that he is sticking with the standard quantum theory because it is "battle-tested." But classical mechanics is also battle-tested, and in the late nineteenth century many expert physicists thought it was approaching perfection. Then, in the twentieth century, physics was revolutionized, first by relativity theory and then by quantum mechanics.
A great deal of evidence points to the existence of phenomena contrary to what quantum mechanics predicts. For example, many experiments show that the will of a human observer can influence physical events without the aid of physical actions initiated by the human body. A group of researchers headed by Robert Jahn of Princeton University has performed many experiments of this kind. The findings of this group contradict the predictions of the standard quantum theory, and I can attest from my own analysis that they deserve to be taken seriously.
The Jahn experiments involve small effects observable only by careful statistical analysis. Other reported phenomena, however, strongly violate the known laws of physics. For example, Ian Stevenson has accumulated and carefully analyzed a large body of data suggesting that a child will sometimes accurately remember events that took place in the life of a particular deceased person. These data are consistent with the idea of reincarnation, and by the known laws of physics they are unexplainable. Like the Princeton results, they also directly involve human consciousness.
I suggest we look forward to the unfolding of a deeper theory of nature, one that goes beyond QM, just as QM goes beyond classical physics. Consciousness and phenomena directly involving consciousness should play an integral role in this genuinely new physics. Only with such a theory shall we truly be able to understand in what sense we live in a "participatory universe."
"Don't Need Your Crazy Book!"
by Bhakta Vic of 108
He Wasn't Going To Believe some book. (He said it like it was a dirty word.) He was going to follow his own ideas.
What he was saying, indirectly, was that your own ideas are good but ideas written in books are bad. So I asked him: What if I take my good ideas, write them down, and publish them as a book. Do they suddenly become bad?
He said my ideas were good for me, but if I write them into a book and try to get everyone else to believe them, that's bad, because everyone should follow his own ideas.
What if I publish a book that says "Follow your own ideas"? And what if lots of people read it and start following it? (Maybe that's what happened to him.)
How can I be sure my ideas are really mine, not just things I picked up subliminally from the TV set—or learned from books in school?
Ok, he conceded, that's true, but ... Anyway, he wasn't going to believe that the Bhagavad-gita had a better claim to truth than any other book, like, say, Catcher in the Rye. No book could be perfectly true, because books are all written by imperfect ordinary people.
And he wasn't about to buy the "words of God" line either. Even if the Gita originally came from God, it's been handed down by human beings, who are imperfect, limited, and sure to make mistakes.
But I'm a human being, too. How can I be sure I'm right when I say, "No book is better than another, because all books are written by imperfect human beings who can't possibly know what's true"?
He wants to say that absolute truth can't be conveyed through an ordinary person. Yet there he is—an ordinary person making an absolute statement.
We reject his self-contradictory nonsense.
If he's honest, he'll at least admit the possibility that absolute truth can be conveyed through what seems to be an ordinary person, in an ordinary book, with ordinary language.
How can that be? Because by definition the Absolute Truth is all-powerful. Nothing is impossible for the all-powerful. If you say that the Absolute Truth can't appear through an ordinary person in ordinary language, you're limiting the Absolute.
"Following your own ideas" is a daydream in this world, where conditioning is a nonstop reality. We have to use our human brains to find the best ideas, to separate the true from the false and finally approach the Absolute. And it's not impossible. So check out these books.
By Satya Narayana Dasa and Kundali Dasa
Part 3: Bhagavat Sandarbha
vadanti tat tattva-vidas
"Learned transcendentalists who know the Absolute Truth call this non-dual substance Brahman, Paramatma, or Bhagavan" (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.11).
The word advaya, or "nondual," means that no substantive difference exists between the three. They are of the same substance, yet they are different in how each is manifest and how they function.
Differences are generally of three types. One type is that which exists between the self and the body. This difference does not exist in Krsna; there is no difference between His body and His self.
A second type is the difference between categories, as between the self and the rest of existence. This difference also does not apply to Krsna, because everything that exists is manifest from His being and rests on Him. Nothing can exist apart from Him. Without Krsna there would be no "rest of existence" to speak of, just as without the sun there would be no sunlight.
The third type of difference is what we may call difference within the same category. For example, as human beings we are all one, but within that general category we are of different classes—high class, low class, and many other strata between. This difference does not apply to the transcendental manifestations of the Personality of Godhead. Even though He has unlimited expansions who may act independently of Him, by His inconceivable potency He remains the support for them all. None of them is truly independent of Him. Therefore they are all advaya jnana—nondual or one.
The final meaning of advaya jnana, therefore, is simply that although these three—Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan—may be described and discussed separately, in the final analysis there is no difference between them. They are aspects of one common nondual entity, Bhagavan, who is ultimately Krsna.
Beyond the Featureless Energy
To develop this point further, Jiva Gosvami analyzes the Bhagavat tattva, or the truth of Bhagavan, the Personality of Godhead. Srila Jiva makes this choice of subject through the logic which states that the order of reading shows the order of meaning. Since the Bhagavatam speaks of the advaya jnana as Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan, the order of meaning is that the last one named is the support for the previous two. Thus Jiva Gosvami writes his analysis of Bhagavan first, then the Paramatma Sandarbha, his analysis of Paramatma.
Significantly, he chooses not to write a Brahman Sandarbha. He says that the impersonal Brahman feature, unlike the Paramatma, displays no separate qualities and no separate existence at all. So he sees no need to write a treatise on Brahman.
When we have an object, we also have its qualities, and we have no need to discuss the two separately. If we study the sun, our analysis must automatically include the sunlight; we need not analyze the sunlight separately.
Similarly, Brahman, being by definition the effulgent light from the body of Bhagavan, depends completely on Him for existence. So there is no need for any separate analysis of the featureless Brahman energy.
Thus although the impersonal Brahman is the subject of so many volumes of books and is often venerated as the object of a high realization—indeed the highest realization—Jiva Gosvami does not bother at all to give it a separate analysis.
For his next topic, he shows that the Lord's abodes, the Vaikuntha planets, are all made of spiritual energy and are therefore transcendental. He also speaks of the multifarious potencies of the Lord and proves that these potencies are not superimpositions on the Absolute.
Impersonalists believe that variegated potencies appear only when Brahman becomes adulterated by maya. They say that maya has two potencies—knowledge (vidya) and ignorance (avidya). According to the impersonalists, when Brahman is influenced by the vidya potency, it manifests itself as isvara, or God in a personal feature; and when Brahman is covered by the avidya potency, it appears as the living entity. That is their theory of how God and the conditioned soul both appear from one Brahman.
Jiva Gosvami refutes this. He says that God's potencies are a natural part of His personality and are not derived or borrowed from elsewhere. Indeed, he says, maya is but one of those potencies. Just as heat and light are natural endowments of the sun, Krsna's potencies are natural and eternal parts of Him.
As a natural part of His inconceivable nature, the Lord reconciles all opposing qualities and contradictions. For example, consider this question: If God is transcendental, eternal, and unlimited, how can He have a personal form and thus become limited to one place? Srila Jiva Gosvami says we must first understand that God has acintya sakti, inconceivable potencies. The Lord can therefore have opposing qualities and still be unlimited.
For example, in one pastime mother Yasoda tried to bind Krsna by connecting so many bits of rope—but each time the rope was too short. Yet it's not that the Lord became fatter and fatter each time she tried; He kept His normal size as a baby. In fact, the black thread tied around His waist stayed intact the whole time. This means that although He was limited, He was inconceivably and simultaneously unlimited, and therefore Yasoda could not bind Him.
To insist that God couldn't function in this inconceivable way would be to limit Him.
All contradictory and opposing qualities, therefore, reside in the Lord at the same time. That's why the scriptures make statements like "The Supreme Lord walks, but He does not walk. He is near, but He is very far as well." Such things are naturally possible for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But because we try to understand Him merely in terms of our material experience and our puny logic, we fail. We truly begin to understand God only when we accept that He has acintya sakti, inconceivable potencies.
But Srila Jiva Gosvami points out that "inconceivable" does not mean we cannot understand Him at all. Rather, it means we cannot understand Him merely by logic. But we can understand Him from the revealed scriptures, in which the Lord, for our benefit, gives knowledge of Himself. The moment we accept acintya sakti, we can at once understand so many facets of the Personality of Godhead.
How Can Something Changing Be Eternal?
Now Jiva Gosvami takes on the impersonalists again. They speculate that the Lord and the things related to Him are in the material mode of goodness. They say that understanding this is conducive to concentrating the mind and becoming fixed in the mode of goodness. But still they hold that we must ultimately abandon the Lord to progress further to the impersonal sphere.
To refute such misconceptions, Jiva Gosvami takes great care to show that the Lord's form, abode, qualities, potencies, and associates are all transcendental, above the mode of goodness. They all exist in the Lord's internal energy, and none of them have any source other than the Lord. The Lord borrows nothing from elsewhere.
In making these points, Srila Jiva Gosvami quotes numerous scriptural sources. Although the subject he is analyzing is Srimad-Bhagavatam, his general method is to give evidence from three additional sources. He does this to show that the conclusions culled from the Bhagavatam do not stand alone but are supported by these other sources. On all major points, therefore, he gives evidence from the Vedas, the Upanisads, and other Puranas as well. He also quotes extensively from the works of other acaryas (spiritual masters) and of course from the Bhagavatam itself.
In the Bhagavat Sandarbha, Jiva Gosvami establishes that the Lord's transcendental form, qualities, and activities do not undergo any transformations. This topic comes up because we see that Krsna seems to take birth, play as a baby, and grow to boyhood and then to youth. So He appears to undergo changes just like one of us.
And how can an activity be eternal? Eternal means without beginning and without end. When we perform an activity, it begins and ends. And so too it seems with Krsna. When He eats, for example, He begins to eat, then He is eating, and then His eating is over. How can this or any other activity be eternal?
In reply Srila Jiva Gosvami explains that none of Krsna's activities come to an end. Just as the sun perpetually rises somewhere and perpetually sets somewhere else, Krsna's activities go on and on without cessation, simultaneously appearing and disappearing throughout the creation in the untold millions and billions of universes.
His pastime of birth on this planet, for instance, is simply that perpetual pastime becoming manifest. And the moment it is finished here, the same pastime at once begins somewhere else. All His pastimes go on like this in universe after universe.
This gives rise to the next question. Why are His pastimes, although performed in separate places, accepted as one activity and not two different activities or even more than two? Jiva Gosvami explains that from Krsna's point of view it is all one action. If I call out "Krsna, Krsna," I utter the name twice, but logically I perform only one act—I call Krsna. This is never counted as two actions.
Similarly, when Krsna appears in one universe and then another, He performs not two activities but only one. And since He does this from universe to universe, the pastime is eternal. It only appears to stop and start from the viewpoint of human observers; for Him it is one activity.
If this were not the case, Jiva says, devotees could not worship the Lord in any of His pastimes, because if a pastime were not in fact going on eternally it could not be an object of worship. When the devotees worship the Lord as the lifter of Govardhana Hill, for instance, they do so with the aim of joining in that pastime. The same is true for all the other pastimes of the Lord. The pastimes, therefore, have to be eternal, or the scriptures would not have prescribed them as objects for meditation. Sri Jiva Gosvami discusses this topic in greater detail in Sri Krsna Sandarbha.
Beyond Time and Karma
His next topic in the Bhagavat Sandarbha is the Lord's holy names. Jiva Gosvami says that the Lord's names are all transcendental and nondifferent from Him. But when we say Krsna's name we use our material tongue to vibrate it and our material ear to hear it. How can this material tongue say the transcendental name? How can the material ear hear the transcendental sound? Again, how can the Vedic scriptures deliver a transcendental message when they too are borne by material means, such as paper and ink?
Srila Jiva Gosvami responds that this is all possible by the inconceivable potency of the Lord. By His mercy upon the conditioned souls, He gives us such ways to be purified of material desires. Thus even while captive in a material body, we can still perform nonmaterial, transcendental service to the Lord and gradually progress towards His abode.
To achieve the Lord's abode is to go beyond salvation or liberation, and the pleasure in the Lord's abode far surpasses the bliss of merging into the Brahman effulgence. The spiritual sky is beyond time and karma. Jiva asks, "What does it mean that the spiritual world is beyond time?"
It is beyond time in the sense that one cannot say that one will reach it by performing a certain spiritual discipline (sadhana) for a certain period of time. We may calculate that to drive from Calcutta to New Delhi at fifty miles an hour would take us thirty hours. The destination is not beyond time, and so we can refer to a time for completing the journey. But when we speak of attaining the Lord's abode, no one can make such a calculation. Therefore the Lord's abode is said to be beyond time.
Beyond karma means that no material activity—not even piety—will take us there. The only means for going to Lord Krsna's abode is pure devotional service, which one gets only by the mercy of the Lord, through the agency of His pure devotees.
Kundali Dasa joined ISKCON in 1973 in New York City. He has taught Krsna consciousness in the United States, India, the Middle East, and eastern and western Europe. He has written many articles for Back to Godhead and is now editing Satya Narayana Dasa's translation of the Sad Sandarbhas.
Vedic histories tell us that sacrifices performed at this holy place can counteract the evil influences of the present age.
By Bhakti Vikasa Swami
AT THE JUNCTURE OF THE previous age, Dvapara-yuga, and the present one, Kali, eighty thousand sages, headed by Saunaka Rsi, wanted to perform a sacrifice to hold off the effects of the oncoming evil age. They went to Lord Brahma, who lives on the highest planet in the universe.
"Where can we perform a sacrifice that will counteract the influence of Kali?" they asked. "Where will our sacrifice have the greatest effect?"
Brahma told them, "I'll send a disc. Follow it and perform your sacrifice where it hits the earth."
The disc (cakra) went spinning down and down and struck the earth at Cakratirtha, in the forest known as Naimisaranya. According to tradition, the disc passed through the earth and sped toward the Garbhodaka Ocean, at the bottom of the universe. When the disc had passed six of the seven planetary systems between the earth and the Garbhodaka Ocean, the sages became worried that if it were to strike the water, the splash would drown the earth. So they prayed to goddess Durga, the controller of the material energy, and she stopped the disc from going any farther.
This history explains why the lake at Cakratirtha is said to be bottomless. In the nineteenth century, to try to discredit this claim, the British sent a chain down into the lake to find the bottom. After reaching one and a half miles, we're told, they gave up.
Srila Prabhupada writes about Naimisaranya in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.1.4, purport):
In the Vayaviya Tantra it is said that Brahma, the engineer of this particular universe, contemplated a great wheel which could enclose the universe. The hub of this great circle was fixed at a particular place known as Naimisaranya. Similarly, there is another reference to the forest of Naimisaranya in the Varaha Purana, where it is stated that by performance of sacrifice at this place, the strength of demoniac people is curtailed. Thus brahmanas prefer Naimisaranya for such sacrificial performances.
The Supreme Lord Ramacandra performed a sacrifice here after returning to Ayodhya from exile. The sages had told Him, "You should perform a sacrifice for having killed Ravana, who by birth was a brahmana. You committed a sin, so please perform a sacrifice." Lord Rama, of course, is always untouched by sin. But to satisfy the sages He performed a great sacrifice here at Naimisaranya.
In another history about Naimisaranya, the Ramayana relates that Ravana captured Rama and Laksmana and kept Them in Patalaloka, at the bottom of the universe. But Their servant Hanuman rescued Them. He took Them on his shoulders, sped up through the lower planetary systems, and came back up to the earth at Naimisaranya. So in Naimisaranya at a place called Hanuman Gadi there's a big deity of Hanuman with Rama on one shoulder and Laksmana on the other. Pilgrims buy laddus (round sweets) and put them into Hanuman's mouth.
Jaya Vijaya Dasa of the Padayatra, ISKCON's walking pilgrimage through India, told me about Naimisaranya. He said that when you go there you pass through the vast, open Gangetic plain of Uttar Pradesh. But as you approach Naimisaranya, the land becomes wooded (aranya means forest) and begins to slope a little, and you get the feeling you're entering a very special place.
Unfortunately, Maha-Visnu Dasa and I don't get that effect, because we come in at night by train—one of those slowest of the slow trains. Throughout the night we stop at many stations. They're all dark, and no one is there.
When we reach Naimisaranya, we get a shock—so many people we can't even get down onto the platform. We have to walk along the tracks. Obviously there's some kind of festival going on. We find out that because the new-moon day has come on a Monday, it's a very auspicious time to come to Naimisaranya. Even though the place is in the remote Sitapura district of Uttar Pradesh, many pilgrims come here because it's a well-known holy place.
We struggle through the crowds to the Gaudiya Math temple, where we'll stay. The temple was founded personally by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Srila Prabhupada's spiritual master. He generally opened temples in cities, where the people are, but he also opened several temples in places of spiritual importance, even though not very much populated.
The next morning we take photographs, and by evening pretty much everyone has gone. We came just at the end of the main festival.
Waking up in Naimisaranya the following day, I look at my watch with a flashlight. It's four A.M. A conch shell sounds in the distance, announcing an early-morning service in a temple. We hear different things going on over loudspeakers. Someone is reciting the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Someone is having a kirtana.
It's just after the new moon, so it's very dark outside. We're far away from the neon-light cities, and the stars are dazzlingly clear.
Getting water here means throwing a bucket down an open well and pulling it up. So I just get a little water, rinse my hands and mouth, and start chanting on my beads. When the sky turns red and there's a little light, I take my bath.
We visit Suta Gadi, where Suta Gosvami spoke the Srimad-Bhagavatam five thousand years ago. Suta had heard it from Sukadeva Gosvami, who had spoken it to King Pariksit when the king was about to die. And Sukadeva had heard it from his father, the sage Vyasadeva. Vyasa later put the Bhagavatam into writing. It represents his most fully mature realization, and therefore it is known as the ripe fruit of the tree of Vedic wisdom. The essence of the Bhagavatam is the pastimes of Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Suta Gadi, where Suta spoke the Bhagavatam, sits on a small hill, beautiful even now. There are many trees all around. We try to imagine what it was like here with thousands and thousands of sages present, all respectful, eager to hear, and pure in their habits, in their mode of life, in their consciousness. No contamination of the present age. No loudspeakers. No cigarettes. What a wonderful spiritual atmosphere must have been present when Suta Gosvami spoke! Even now we can sense it. We can marvel that such a wonderful event took place here.
I also ponder another marvel: Because Srila Prabhupada was a great spiritual master in the line of Suta Gosvami, wherever Prabhupada spoke the Srimad-Bhagavatam, that place became as sacred as Naimisaranya.
Naimisaranya didn't become a holy place only by Suta's speaking here. He spoke here because it was well known as a place of pilgrimage—a very special holy place where people come to perform austerities and penances. Many celebrated sages and incarnations of the Lord have come to Naimisaranya, including Lord Balarama, Dadhici Muni, the Pandavas, Lord Nityananda, and Ramanujacarya.
It's said of Naimisaranya, as it's said of other places too, that having come here you don't need to go to any other holy place, because everything is complete here.
There are many fantastic-looking old trees in Naimisaranya—big old nim trees with twisted roots coming out of the ground. At the place called Vyasa Gadi, there's a big banyan tree that is supposed to have been here since the time of Vyasadeva, fifty centuries ago. We can't help but think that some of these trees are not ordinary trees but great sages who have come to stand here and meditate on the transcendental pastimes of Lord Krsna.
A lecture by Gour Govinda Swami
Bhubaneswar, India, March 17, 1992—The Appearance Day of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu
WE SHOULD KNOW the cause for the appearance of Gauranga Mahaprabhu, Lord Caitanya. There are two causes: external and internal. The external cause is to teach Kali-yuga dharma, the religion for Kali-yuga, the Age of Quarrel. That religion is hari-sankirtana, the chanting of the holy name.
kali-yuga dharma haya hari-sankirtana
Sacinandana, Lord Caitanya, the father of hari-sankirtana, appears for this purpose—to teach the chanting of the holy name.
ei kaye bhagavate sarva-tattva-sara
This is a quotation from Caitanya-Bhagavata. Lord Caitanya comes in Kali-yuga, especially the present Kali-yuga, with His abode and all His associates and paraphernalia. He offers and distributes the chief result of hari-nama-sankirtana—Krsna-prema, love of God—freely, indiscriminately.
brahmar durlabha prema saba kare yache
Even Brahma cannot easily get such prema, such love for God, but Lord Caitanya gives it to the most degraded, most sinful persons, such as Jagai and Madhai. Therefore He is known as Prema Purusottama, the Personality of Godhead who gives love of Godhead.
Five thousand years ago Krsna came in His own personal form. In His pastimes at Kuruksetra He taught the Bhagavad-gita through Arjuna to all mankind, giving confidential, more confidential, and most confidential instructions. His most confidential instruction is man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru: "Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, become My devotee, worship Me, and offer your homage unto Me." The concluding instruction is sarva dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: "Give up all varieties of dharma and just surrender unto Me."
Lord Krsna only said this theoretically; He never taught how to surrender practically. But Krsna is suhrdam sarva-bhutanam, the only well-wishing friend of all living entities. Therefore after winding up His pastimes at the end of Dvapara-yuga, the previous age, He thought: "I've given confidential, more confidential, and most confidential instruction to Arjuna for all mankind, but after Dvapara-yuga comes Kali-yuga, the most sinful age. In Kali-yuga, as sinful activities increase, the consciousness of the people becomes most polluted. They cannot understand saranagati tattva, complete surrender, because I haven't demonstrated it practically. Therefore I shall have to come down to earth again." So He came again as Gauranga Mahaprabhu, Lord Caitanya. This was His mission:
yuga-dharma pravartaimu nama-sankirtana
"I shall go spread the holy name and give the four forms of bhakti, devotional service: dasya [servitorship], sakhya [friendship], vatsalya [parenthood], and madhurya [conjugal love]." (Santa, neutrality, is discarded in Mahaprabhu's line.) The Lord decided: "I shall make the whole world dance with bhava-bhakti, ecstatic love of God."
apani karimu bhakta-bhava angikare
"I shall accept bhakta-bhava, the mood of a devotee, and I shall teach bhakti, devotion to God. Unless I practice it Myself I cannot teach it."
apane na kaile dharma sikhana na yaya
This is the external cause (bahiranga karanam) for Lord Caitanya's advent. He comes for others, for the people of Kali-yuga.
The internal cause (antaranga karanam) is for His own sake. The internal cause is to fulfill three desires:
sri-radhayah pranaya-mahima kidrso va anayaiva-
Svarupa Damodara Gosvami spoke this verse, and it is quoted by Rupa Gosvami in Lalita-madhava. When Krsna performed His pastimes He still had three desires that remained unfulfilled. First, Krsna wanted to know: What is Radharani's love? Next He desired to know: What is My rupa-madhuri, My excellent beauty, that Radharani relishes? How can I relish it? Then the third desire: What type of pleasure or happiness does Radharani derive by relishing My beauty, and how can I relish it? These three desires, these three types of greed, developed in the Supreme Lord, Krsna. Therefore, saci-garbha-sindhau harinduh: From the womb of Sacimata He appeared as Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu to fulfill these desires.
Here the word lobha—"greed"—is significant. The Lord has greed. It is quite natural that we have greed. We are greedy persons, materially greedy. But the greed of the material world is condemned; it is considered one of our enemies. In the Sixteenth Chapter, twenty-first verse, of the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna says:
"Give up these three—kama, krodha, lobha: lust, anger, and greed. If you be-come influenced or affected by them, then you will open your door to hell. So give them up."
Greed is bad because those who are materially greedy have to suffer. There is a little story to illustrate this point.
A greedy boy saw his mother put some berries into an earthen pot that had a narrow opening. Greedy to get some of those berries, he put his hand into the pot and grasped a handful, but when he tried to get his hand out of the pot, his hand got caught because the opening was too narrow. This caused some pain as he pulled, so he was crying. But though he was suffering, he wouldn't let go of the berries. This is a simple story showing that the consequence of greed is suffering. Therefore Bhagavan Krsna says in the Gita, "Give up greed."
But greed can be engaged in Krsna's service. The word lobha (greed) is an ancient word, not a modern word. The seed of greed exists in both Bhagavan (the Lord) and bhakta (the devotee). So in respect to bhagavat-bhakta, the devotee of the Lord, we say, lobha sadhu-sange hari-katha. How can you use greed? Develop greed to have more and more sadhu-sanga, association with sadhus, devotees, and hear more and more krsna-katha, talks about the Lord. Develop this greed. Such greed is spiritual and beyond the modes of material nature. You should not give it up; you should develop it more and more. The more you develop this greed, the more you get spiritual relish and make spiritual advancement. One who is not greedy in this way cannot spiritually advance. So material greed should be given up, but spiritual greed should be developed.
Again it is said:
The word laulya means lobha (greed). The purport of this verse is that if you have such spiritual greed you can achieve krsna-bhakti-rasa, the mellow of love for Krsna. Otherwise you can't have it; you can't achieve it. Therefore, one should develop the greed to have more and more association with devotees and hear more and more about the Lord. Then you will make advancement in bhajana-sadhana, devotional service. Materialistic people don't know how to use greed; they abuse it—directing it toward material enjoyment, material possessions—and suffer. So when we speak about the advent of Lord Caitanya, we're not speaking of this greed.
In the beginning I explained that Krsna developed three types of greed that could not be fulfilled in His pastimes. Therefore He descended as Lord Caitanya. In Lord Caitanya's pastimes those three types of greed are fulfilled.
Using the word greed is wonderful. Has anyone used the word this way before? No one. But Svarupa Damodara Gosvami did. He said that because of this greed, Nandanandana (Krsna) became Sacinandana (Lord Caitanya). Purna Brahma, the Complete Whole, who has no deficiency, who wants nothing, still develops greed. Wonderful! He is self-satisfied. He lacks nothing. Then why such greed? You should understand its mystery, the truth behind it. He who is self-satisfied, who is full of eternity, knowledge, and bliss—He develops greed. What type of greed and to get what?
In the Supreme Lord the seed of desire gradually develops, and it fructifies in Gauranga-svarupa, the form of Gauranga, Lord Caitanya. Let me explain to you how.
Visnu, the Lord of Vaikuntha, the spiritual world, develops some greed: He wants to fight. Because He is Bhagavan, the Supreme Lord, the six types of opulence are completely manifested in Him. And one of His opulences is bala, or strength. Since He has incomparable strength, it is quite natural that He should desire to fight and fulfill this greed. Whenever Bhagavan wants to fulfill some desire, His internal energy, Yogamaya, creates the proper atmosphere. So when Visnu desired to fight, Yogamaya created the circumstances to fulfill that desire.
In such a fight, the opponent should be equally strong; otherwise one can't get pleasure in fighting. So with whom will the Lord fight? By the will of the Lord and the arrangement of Yoga-maya, the two strong doorkeepers of the spiritual world, Jaya and Vijaya, were cursed to become demons for three lives. First they became Hiranyaksa and Hiranyakasipu, then Ravana and Kumbha-karna, and finally Sisupala and Dantavakra. In three incarnations Lord Visnu enjoyed fighting with them. This is the greed of Lord Visnu, as described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
Then came the greed of Nrsimhadeva. Nrsimhadeva has two types of form—ugra (fearsome) and anugra (peaceful). After killing Hiranyakasipu, Nrsimhadeva's form was fearsome, and He danced like Lord Siva at the time of annihilation. The whole world was trembling to see that angry dancing. All the demigods were offering prayers to pacify Him, but they couldn't. Then the demigods requested Bhakta Prahlada, "Please go and calm the anger of Lord Nrsimhadeva." Prahlada Maharaja is a dear devotee of the Lord, so Prahlada went to offer Him prayers, and Lord Nrsimhadeva be-came calm and manifested His peaceful form. Then Nrsimhadeva took His dear devotee Prahlada, like a son, on His lap, and vatsalya-prema, parental love and affection, developed in Nrsimhadeva.
Both father and son relish this rasa, mellow. As the son sits on the father's lap, the father relishes, and the son also relishes. The relishing is reciprocal. But the son relishes more than the father. So Nrsimhadeva developed a type of greed: "How can I sit on the lap of My father and relish that rasa?" From then on, after Nrsimhadeva, all the incarnations of the Lord accept a father and mother to fulfill that greed.
Lord Rama also developed greed. Vibhisana and Sugriva are Lord Rama's friends. This means there is sakhya-rasa, friendly affection, in the pastimes of Lord Rama. But there are two types of sakhya-rasa—sambhrama (friendship with awe and reverence) and visrambha (friendship as equals, without awe and reverence). In the pastimes of Lord Rama there is no question of equality. His friends Sugriva and Vibhisana cannot climb onto His shoulders or snatch food from His mouth. They are even afraid their leg may touch Lord Rama's body, because they think that this would be offensive. Their friendship is sambhrama sakhya, friendship with awe and reverence.
But visrambha sakhya is different. In visrambha sakhya there is such love and affection that the friends think themselves equal with the Lord. There is no question of awe and reverence. In the pastimes of Krsna you will find this visrambha sakhya. The cowherd boys climb onto Krsna's shoulders and snatch the food from His mouth, and Krsna snatches the food from their mouths. The legs of the cowherd boys touch Krsna's body, and Krsna is not disturbed, because it is as if those were His own legs. If your own leg touches your own body, does that disturb you? There is no problem at all, because it's your own leg and not someone else's. So these cowherd boys are very dear to Krsna. Therefore there is equality and abhinnam (nondifference).
But in the pastimes of Lord Rama this type of sakhya-rasa is not relished. Therefore Lord Rama developed greed for it: "How can I relish it?" That de-sire was fulfilled in His avatara as Krsna.
There is also another relationship—the conjugal mellow, madhurya rasa. In Rama-avatara, Lord Rama is maryada-purusottama; that is, He strictly follows Vedic rules and regulations and never transgresses them. Eka-patni-dhara: He accepts only one wife. Therefore, although His pastimes include madhurya-rasa, the conjugal mellow, it is not relished fully. The essence of the mellow is not relished. That conjugal rasa is relished to the highest degree when there is union (milana) and separation (viraha) between lover and beloved. In Rama-lila, Ravana kidnapped Sita, and Lord Rama banished Sita to give pleasure to His citizens. So Rama and Sita are united and separated. But there is no variegatedness in this type of separation. It is not natural; it is forced. So there is no question of relishing the essence of the conjugal mellow.
Rupa Gosvami has mentioned different types of viraha (separation) in his book Ujjvala-nilamani—purva raga viraha, mana viraha, prema vaicitya viraha. In the pastimes of Lord Rama there are no such varieties, but in Krsna's pastimes there are. Therefore Lord Rama developed the greed to relish them. In Krsna avatara this greed is fulfilled.
The viraha, separation, between lover and beloved is the highest platform of prema. On that platform both the nayaka and nayika, lover and beloved, relish that mellow in their own heart. Therefore in the pastimes of Krsna, Krsna is Radha-kanta (the husband of Radharani) and Gopi-kanta (the husband of the gopis). But although Radha and the gopis are His own wives, He made them the wives of others to relish parakiya-rasa, paramour love.
In Rama-lila only svakiya rasa is relished—love with one's own wife—not parakiya rasa. Lord Rama, therefore, developed greed for the parakiya rasa. So to relish parakiya-rasa, Krsna made His own wives the wives of others. Therefore that greed which remained unfulfilled in the pastimes of Rama is fulfilled in the pastimes of Krsna.
In this way, greed caused one incarnation of the Lord after another to descend.
Still, in Krsna-lila there are those three types of greed that I mentioned previously:
sri radhayah pranaya-mahima kidrso vanayaiva-
The first greed is this: What is the love of Radharani and how can I relish it? The second greed: What is My excellent all-attractive beauty? I can't relish Myself. So how can I have it? And the third greed: What happiness does Radharani get by relishing My all-attractive excellent beauty? How can I have it? The desire to fulfill these three types of greeds remains unfulfilled in the pastimes of Krsna. Therefore the Lord appeared again as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The fulfillment of these types of desires is antaranga karanam, the internal cause, for Lord Caitanya's descent.
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
TO EDUCATE THOSE PERSONS who are enamored by empirical arguments and who do not receive transcendental knowledge through any bona fide disciplic succession—and who are thus going astray—we have compiled the essential knowledge of the Bhagavad-gita in a nutshell:
1) Lord Sri Krsna is the Supreme Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the cause of all causes. The definition of God is given in this aphorism from the Vedas: "By Him and from Him is manifest this universe, and He controls its creation, sustenance, and annihilation." He is the mainstay of both this unlimited variegated cosmic manifestation and the immeasurable spiritual sky, the Vaikunthas. He is the eternally existing, transcendental Supreme Being with a spiritual form. The impersonal Brahman is but His bodily effulgence; He is the nondual Truth. The Supersoul (Paramatma) is His plenary expansion who resides in everyone's heart and pervades the entire creation as well.
2) The jivas, the living entities, are Lord Krsna's minute parts. Although the jiva is qualitatively nondifferent from the Lord, he is quantitatively different from Him, since the Lord is infinite and the jiva infinitesimal. The jiva is situated in the Lord's marginal potency, which, inconceivably, is simultaneously one with and different from the Lord.
3) The jivas—the marginal energy of the Lord—have the ability to reside eternally either in Vaikuntha or in this material world. A jiva falls down to material nescience because of countless sinful activities, and in these alien surroundings he goes up and down, traveling through all the planetary systems, from Lord Brahma's planet down to Patalaloka. In the material world the jiva experiences birth, disease, old age, and death and is forced to accept three types of suffering, namely, those miseries stemming from his own mind and body, those inflicted by other living entities, and those hurled at him by the demigods.
4) The conditioned living entities are encaged in this many-faceted prison-house called the material world. The nature of this world is creation, sustenance, and destruction. During creation and sustenance this material nature is in a manifest state, and with destruction it again becomes unmanifest. Thus this mundane, illusory realm is the Lord's inferior energy because it is sometimes manifest and at other times unmanifest.
5) Beyond this manifest and unmanifest external energy of the Lord exists another realm, which is transcendental and spiritually variegated. This is the unlimited spiritual sky, known as Vaikuntha, which is everlasting. This realm is always manifest; it is never unmanifest. Thus it is not subject to creation and annihilation.
6) Those conditioned souls who identify with this illusory material nature and are proud of it, and who do not care to know about the Supreme Lord, are subjugated by the Lord's illusory potency, who is known variously as Maha Kali, Candi, and Durga, and who pierces them with her trident of the threefold miseries. These demoniac jivas are forced into slavery by the illusory potency—Kali, or Mahamaya. The Bhagavad-gita, the essence of all the Vedic scriptures, was compiled for the deliverance of the conditioned souls. By studying the Gita carefully, a jiva takes shelter of the Supreme Lord's lotus feet and attains liberation from the merry-go-round of repeated suffering in the material world.
7) The conditioned jiva suffers from the material disease—the miseries of birth, death, old age, and disease. When this suffering becomes unbearable, he looks for help. Those who are less intelligent embrace the path of impersonal liberation and undertake severe austerities to achieve their goal. More elevated than these salvationists are the devotees of the Lord, who realize that their eternal nature is to be His servants. They do not try to extinguish this nature but rather practice and preach the eternal process of devotion so they can enter the Lord's eternal spiritual abode. All living entities have a right to practice this eternal process of devotional service.
8) The mahat-tattva, the material nature, manifests itself in twenty-four ingredients: 1) the unmanifest principle, 2) false ego, 3) intelligence, 4) mind, 5) ether, 6) air, 7) fire, 8) water, 9) earth, 10) sound, 11) touch, 12) form, 13) taste, 14) smell; 15) ears, 16) skin, 17) eyes, 18) tongue, 19) nose, 20) mouth, 21) hands, 22) feet, 23) anus, 24) genitals.
9) The undifferentiated Absolute Truth, the original Supreme Personality, Lord Sri Krsna, incarnates in this material world once in every day of Lord Brahma—that is, once every 8,640,000,000 solar years—to shower His mercy upon both His surrendered devotees and the atheistic nondevotees. He protects His devotees and slays the atheistic demons, thus giving the latter troublesome release, so to speak, in impersonal liberation. The Bhagavad-gita, on the other hand, teaches liberation through devotional service to the Supreme Lord. The only way to obtain this devotional service is to take full shelter of the spiritual authority, the guru, who is coming in the line of a proper disciplic succession. Those who toil without worshiping the spiritual master will find that all their endeavors are futile.
10) Those foolish souls who refuse to take shelter of a bona fide guru are truly shelterless. Without the guidance of a guru, these rascals consider themselves knowledgeable, and on the basis of this misconception they make the mistake of worshiping God as a man and a mere mortal as God.
11) The Supreme Personality of Godhead is full in six opulences and is not the property of any particular sect, group, or country. He is available to everyone. He is the deliverer of all and the supreme father of all. He appears in this material world to liberate every living entity, and His message, the Bhagavad-gita, is therefore applicable to every land and to all people. It is meant to be preached everywhere. Therefore those fortunate souls who are spreading the message of the Lord are most dear to Him.
12) Foolish, demoniac rascals in the grip of the Lord's illusory energy loudly brag about their materialistic plans. The Bhagavad-gita alone can penetrate their hard shell of ignorance and awaken them to the truth.
13) With concerted, strong preaching, the devotees of Krsna must inform such foolish men that their so-called plans will surely be undermined because the platform they have chosen to build their dream houses on is factually a mirage—a movie only. Reality is elsewhere. The information needed to transport one to that realm of reality and truth is available in the magazine called Back to Godhead.
14) Therefore, the real symptom of a good civilization is that its citizens are inspired by Back to Godhead to take up the process of devotion and go back to Godhead, where they will eternally reside in their actual home. Only in this way can they end all futile labor.
15) Just as the most sinful wretch lives in a ghostly body after death and moves about in the ether, having been denied a gross body, so the impersonalist, although rising to the point of liberation in the transcendental position, falls back down to the material world because of not having developed the mood of loving service to the Supreme Lord. Therefore the severe austerities and penances the impersonalist performs are not equivalent to the eternal religion of devotional service.
16) When monists are so attached to the formless, impersonal aspect of the Lord that they distinguish between Him and His transcendental body, their consciousness becomes contaminated by this blasphemy, and thus they are deprived of a place in the Lord's eternal abode. But if by some good fortune they come in touch with a pure devotee and hear from him with faith about the Lord's transcendental name, qualities, pastimes, and so on, then they will certainly be cleansed of their contamination and become inspired and attracted by the Lord's glorious character, and finally they will surrender to Him fully. Thus the Bhagavad-gita is such an instructive text that for those who want to enter into the eternal pastimes of the Supreme Lord, its unequivocal message teaches the first stages of surrender, and this surrender is absolutely essential for reaching the ultimate destination. It is to be understood that the pure devotees have successfully passed this test of surrender according to the tenets of the Bhagavad-gita.
Blessed to Speak About Krsna
After observing a vow of silence for ten years in the forest, Krsna Nama Dasa learned from Srila Prabhupada the real value of speech.
In the spring of 1992, I and another devotee, Sadananda Dasa, went to India for the Hare Krsna's movement's annual convention, held each spring at Sridham Mayapur, West Bengal. The weather was just beginning to get hot when we arrived, but by the time we went to Bombay a month later, it was getting unbearable, so we booked a train to Pune, on a Maharashtrian plateau where the climate is much cooler. Not far from the train station in Pune, on one of the main roads, is the Hare Krsna temple, managed by Krsna Nama Dasa. Besides running the temple, Krsna Nama uses his knowledge of the Ayurveda, the Vedic scripture on health and medicine, to treat ailing devotees. We were exhausted from traveling in peak heat and humidity, and we were trying to recuperate from several bouts of dysentery. So we were anxious to avail ourselves of his expertise. During our healing sessions, we sat on the floor in his little room to the side of the temple discussing Krsna consciousness.—Upananda Dasa
Upananda Dasa: Krsna Nama Prabhu, can you give us some history of how you started your career in Krsna consciousness?
Krsna Nama Dasa: I was staying with my maternal uncle in Nasik, Maharashtra. I was born and brought up there. I first heard about Krsna from my grandfather, who liked to sponsor kathas, gatherings where holy men recite scriptures like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. From childhood I would hear from him stories of great saints such as Prahlada and Dhruva. He explained how Prahlada, Dhruva, and Tukarama, the Maharashtrian saint, did so much service for the Lord. One day I asked him what he himself had done for the Lord.
He became upset and said, "Who are you to ask such a question? I have not done anything for the Lord. But if you think you can, then you do something great for the Lord."
So I said, "All right. I will do something."
But at that time I was young and foolish. So I just left home and began to wander from one relative's house to the next until I was fifteen years old. Then I decided I should leave everything and become totally renounced. So I told my family I was going away and would definitely not come back.
I took up residence in a forest on the Maharashtra border between Nasik and Surat, Gujarat. It was a peaceful area, and there was a large banyan tree I would rest under. I bathed in a small stream and collected roots and fruit to eat.
UD: What kind of roots did you eat?
KND: I learned from the Adivasis, the forest tribal people, which ones to eat and which to avoid. In that way I survived.
UD: Would you ever go into the town?
KND: During my ten years in the forest, every year and a half I would visit Dvaraka and Vrndavana. I would stay in Dvaraka for a week and then go to Vrndavana for a week.
UD: And where did you stay when you were there?
KND: In Dvaraka I would stay on the bank of the River Gomati. There's a small temple there with a Krsna Deity. I stayed with a sadhu who had taken mauna, the vow of silence.
UD: Where did you stay in Vrndavana?
KND: Generally in the street.
UD: You traveled by train?
KND: Yes. I would go to Nasik and from there catch a train in whichever direction I was going.
UD: When you were in the forest, was there ever any disturbance?
KND: There were tigers and other wild animals, but during the night I was always chanting, so I wasn't ever disturbed. And I was determined to face any danger. From my childhood I had the feeling that God will definitely protect me.
Of course, sometimes it was difficult because I kept silent. I would not talk or beg from anybody. I would never ask anybody to give me food. Whatever would come I would take. But one time when I was visiting Dvaraka, after many days on a train I became weak and could not walk properly. So I had a bad fall, and I just started crying, "Oh! What is this life? I have given up everything for God, and still I'm suffering like this!"
I went to a pipal tree and lay down. Then from out of nowhere an elderly Gujarati lady came over to me with a plate of wonderful food and said to me, "O Mahatmaji, this plate is for you."
Before she came, I had begun thinking ill against my Lord. Despite all my chanting, I was suffering, so I had begun blaming the Lord. Now I became sorry that I had broken my faith and hadn't been able to pass Krsna's test. So I went into a temple and asked forgiveness from the Lord.
UD: Then you came in contact with ISKCON? After ten years in the forest?
KND: Yes, in 1976, September. I was visiting Vrndavana. Just behind the present temple there was a grove full of guavas. So I would rest there, because my habit was to stay in the forest. Since the garden belonged to somebody, I took only whatever fruits fell on the ground. In that way I had something palatable to eat.
I first entered the ISKCON temple one night when I was on my way to Varsana via Chatikara Road, where the temple is located. I heard conch shells blowing so I ventured in and saw a wonderful picture of Srila Prabhupada. I then saw devotees from all over the world dancing and chanting. It was so pleasurable that I soon found myself dancing and chanting with them. They would jump high, and I would try to jump higher.
Then some of the Indian devotees started laughing and shouted, "Hey! Mayavadi [impersonalist] dancing! Mayavadi dancing! Ha! Ha!"
So I said, "What do you mean 'Mayavadi?' " but nobody replied.
So I said I would like to join, but again using the same unfamiliar term they said, "Oh, no. You are a Mayavadi. Come back tomorrow."
So the next day, at three o'clock in the morning, I came to the temple, took bath at the temple well, and attended the morning program beginning at 4:30. After I spoke to the president in Hindi, he gave me a place to stay, a dhoti, and a huge, oversized kurta, which I wore anyway because I was feeling very happy.
That day the devotees told me to clean the temple as my service to Krsna. I cleaned the entire temple in eight hours. After that they asked if I would clean the arati paraphernalia, used in the Deity worship. So in about two and a half hours I cleaned all the arati lamps and plates till they looked like new.
Then the devotees said, "Very nice. Now go and take some prasadam." I took my prasadam, and when I finished they asked if I could do one more service, which was to clean the toilets. I was not used to cleaning toilets, having come from the forest, so I just put my own hand inside and cleansed every toilet that way.
Then they came and said, "Here, we have brought the acid for cleaning the toilets."
But when they saw all the toilets sparkling clean, they were astonished and asked how I did it. I told them, "With my hands," and they replied that this was not the way to clean the toilets.
I said, "I am from the forest. How can I know?"
The next week Srila Prabhupada came to Vrndavana for a few days and gave a class in Hindi. Afterwards he told Lokanatha Swami he would like to send me with the devotees who were going to Mayapur by bullock cart.
During our discussion Srila Prabhupada said to me, "Hey, what were you doing in the forest?"
So I thought if I said I was there on behalf of the Lord, he might ask what I did for the Lord. And if I said I went for myself, he would have said, "That is useless without any central point in life." So I just couldn't reply properly.
Then he said, "Why don't you answer?"
But I couldn't, so he started to laugh. He understood my mind, and I could see that. So we laughed together.
Srila Prabhupada said, "Why do you want me as your guru?"
In reply, I composed a Hindi poem in glorification of Srila Prabhupada. He appreciated it very much. I said that there were thousands and thousands of gurus in the material world, but mostly they are money-minded, of no use. They only want some name and fame. In a poetic way I explained to Srila Prabhupada that the real guru is one who doesn't want anything and gives the real truth.
So he said, "Very nice. You will be a nice preacher."
I left Vrndavana to go to the next village on the bullock-cart program. Most of the devotees were tired from the long walk the first day and couldn't wake up early the next morning. So I got up by 3:00 and began leading the morning program of worship. When everyone saw that after three days I had learned all the prayers, they were quite amazed. They let me give the lecture, and the local people were appreciative. So Srila Prabhupada's blessings were showing after just three days.
The moment I began to preach, I never stopped. I started doing kathas—Srimad-Bhagavatam or Bhagavad-gita, whichever the people wanted to hear.
So now I am feeling quite nice. Before coming to Pune I was very renounced. I would carry only one bag—actually just a cloth with my dhoti and kurta inside. I stayed for eight years in Surat, and when I was asked to go to Bombay I wrapped one dhoti and one kurta and a few other things in the cloth and went to Bombay. The devotees laughed when they saw me. They said, "Oh, you don't have any luggage with you." But I like it like that.
Now my health is not so good, but I can speak about Krsna twelve or thirteen hours continuously. Even twenty hours nonstop I can speak about Krsna. Many times I have done that. When I first came to Pune, I went village to village doing programs, and in each one I would talk about Krsna and get great pleasure from it.
UD: How long have you been in Pune?
KND: I came here two years ago. When I arrived the temple was in big debt. Now everything is paid off, and the progress of the temple is good. The thing is, I never even went out to make members. And I haven't asked for money. People willingly give. I'm living in this small room, and whenever people come to visit the temple I speak to them, and they are attracted to the philosophy as taught by Prabhupada.
The End Of Kali-Yuga: No More Hare Krsna
This conversation between Srila Prabhupada and the poet Allen Ginsberg took place on May 13, 1969, in Columbus, Ohio.
Srila Prabhupada: Lord Buddha is accepted as an incarnation of Krsna. This is stated in the Bhagavatam. He is accepted as the ninth incarnation. Baladeva is the eighth. And the tenth is awaiting.
Allen Ginsberg: Kalki.
Srila Prabhupada: Kalki.
Allen Ginsberg: Now, what is Kalki's nature?
Srila Prabhupada: That is described in the Bhagavatam. He will come just like a prince, with royal dress and sword, on horseback—simply killing, no preaching. There will be no brain to understand God.
Allen Ginsberg: There will be no brain to understand God?
Srila Prabhupada: People will be so dull. It requires a brain to understand...
Allen Ginsberg: So Kalki comes at the end of the Kali-yuga?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. Then Satya-yuga will begin.
Allen Ginsberg: Which is?
Srila Prabhupada: Satya-yuga is the pious age. People will be pious, truthful, long-living.
Allen Ginsberg: Are those the people that will remain, or are they from whatever new creation comes out of the destruction?
Srila Prabhupada: All the miscreants will be killed. And there must be some pious. They remain.
Allen Ginsberg: Do you think of this in terms of a historical event that will occur in the lifetime of your disciples?
Srila Prabhupada: No. This will happen at least 400,000 years from now. So at that time my disciples will be with Krsna. [Laughter.]
Srila Prabhupada: And those who will not follow them, they will see the fun—how they are being killed. [Laughter.]
Allen Ginsberg: Will people still be chanting Hare Krsna in 400,000 years?
Srila Prabhupada: No. Hare Krsna will be finished within ten thousand years. There will be no more Hare Krsna.
Allen Ginsberg: Ah. So what will be left?
Srila Prabhupada: Nothing. I'll kill you and eat you, and you shall kill me. You shall eat me. That will be left.
Allen Ginsberg: After ten thousand years?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, there will be no grain, no milk, no sugar, no fruit. So I will have to eat you, and you will have to eat me. Full facility for meat-eating. [Laughter.] Full facility. Krsna is very kind. He'll give you facility: "All right. Why cows and calves? You take your own son. Yes. Eat nicely." Just like serpents, snakes—they eat their own offspring. Also tigers. So this will happen. And there will be no brain to understand [God], no preachers, nothing. And then Krsna will come: "All right, let Me kill you so that you will be saved."
Allen Ginsberg: But you see it as actually a historical thing of ten thousand years for the chanting?
Srila Prabhupada: Now it will increase.
Allen Ginsberg: Until?
Srila Prabhupada: Up to ten thousand years.
Allen Ginsberg: And then?
Srila Prabhupada: Then diminish.
Allen Ginsberg: So what is the purpose right now?
Srila Prabhupada: People will take advantage of this up to ten thousand years. Then they will...
Allen Ginsberg: So this is like the last rope, the last gasp.
Srila Prabhupada: [Laughs.]Yes. So the sooner we take shelter—shelter of Krsna consciousness—the better.
Allen Ginsberg: When did this yuga begin?
Srila Prabhupada: Kali-yuga began five thousand years ago.
Allen Ginsberg: Where is all this information?
Srila Prabhupada: In the Vedic literature, the Bhagavatam.
Allen Ginsberg: It has the detailed analysis of what goes on in the Kali-yuga?
Srila Prabhupada: Oh, yes. I will read it to you sometime. In the Twelfth Canto, the Kali-yuga descriptions are there. And you will find that all the descriptions are coming true. Just like there is one statement, svikara eva udvahe: "Marriage will be performed simply by agreement." Now that is being done. And lavanyam kesa-dharanam: "People will think that they have become very beautiful by keeping long hair." That is coming true.
Allen Ginsberg: In the Bhagavata Purana is there also provision for the Caitanya cult?
Srila Prabhupada: Oh, yes. We have given that in our book Teachings of Lord Caitanya.
Allen Ginsberg: Within this period of ten thousand years, only those who hear Krsna's name and worship Krsna by chanting...
Srila Prabhupada: They become liberated and go back home, back to Godhead.
Allen Ginsberg: And everybody else gets involved deeper and deeper in the yuga.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, yes. So if anyone believes in the sastras [scriptures], he should take to this Krsna consciousness. That is intelligence—to take advantage of the authorized scriptures.
Life in this war-torn city intensifies a devotee's yearning for the only permanent shelter.
By Purujit Dasa
ONE MORE DEADLY NIGHT is falling upon Sarajevo. Although the shooting goes on the whole day, everyone knows that night will bring new hours of terror. Savages from the surrounding hills are most happy destroying and killing under cover of night.
I am looking out from the veranda of our temple, which lies on a slope in a densely populated Muslim area. Darkness covers whatever is left of a once beautiful panorama of homes, minarets, Catholic and Orthodox churches, and the domes of synagogues.
Heavy projectiles, usually meant for annihilating tanks and fortifications, are now used against people. No one is safe from the fire spewing out from the night. Captives of dark, moist basements offer fervent prayers to the Almighty as death hangs over their heads.
* * *
"Even God does not want to look upon us," wrote one disappointed journalist. "And for at least the last fifty years no one has wanted to sincerely look upon Him."
The war may be a reaction to the cow slaughter and atheistic propaganda that go on here. But are there no other places where these nasty activities go on? Why the reaction here? A proverb from India explains that when one eats too many mangos, blisters pop up here and there on the body. They can pop up anywhere—today here, tomorrow there. Which place will be next?
* * *
In the early-morning freshness typical of Sarajevo, we sneak out of the temple and start with quick steps toward today's destination for delivering Krsna consciousness. Afraid of snipers and stray bombs, we try to choose the least dangerous way. Two young women, Jadranka and Hasija, and a boy, Shevko, carry our paraphernalia: drum, harmonium, and baskets filled with cookies and bread rolls. Our portable puppet theater is strapped to my back.
Today we are guests in a home for mentally retarded children. We are led to an underground bomb shelter, where neighbors have also come for safety. We put on a puppet show about Krsna's delivering the cowherd boys from danger. The children and the neighbors like the cookies and rolls we pass out, and they especially like the chanting and dancing. The wonderful potency of the Hare Krsna mantra shows on the faces of the handicapped children jumping and shouting in joy.
As we leave the building, we're met with the tumultuous thundering of cannons.
* * *
The Bhagavad-gita is my best friend now. Not to realize the nature of the material world seems impossible. Srila Prabhupada has explained it so clearly. I look out the window and see that the world really is a temporary, miserable place. Houses stand without roofs, dogs wander without masters, furious and hungry people loiter here and there, a mother cries for her lost son.
* * *
On this spot on the main street, 150 people were killed or wounded by shells while waiting in a bread line. To commemorate the tragedy, a black book bearing the victims' names sits on a desk, covered with dying flowers. We are here to pass out croissants for free. People are amazed to see anyone passing out free food. Most say something nice about Hare Krsna devotees.
One woman approaches with tears in her eyes.
"Oh! You are here! Oh! You haven't gone away! Thank you! Thank you very much!"
I feel a special pride in being a servant of Krsna.
* * *
Today we hold a program in the doorway of a skyscraper. A woman devotee named Dubravka, who sings in a pop group, fills the air with the sound of her guitar and the Hare Krsna mantra. Passersby join in, and soon fifty children and adults are loudly chanting Krsna's names. In the chaos of Sarajevo, a moment of harmony is created. After we leave, I think back to that moment, when we felt a separate, higher reality, a world without anxiety.
* * *
I walk up and down an empty room, chanting on my beads. The room was once full of devotees. They have escaped the jaws of war and found service in temples elsewhere. I long for the association of devotees, so my prayer for Krsna's mercy is stronger than ever. Life without the association of devotees is like life in a cage engulfed in flames. The Hare Krsna mantra is my only solace. Maybe I can now realize what Srila Prabhupada means when he says that our chanting should be like a child's crying for his mother.
Last night, rockets exploded close to the temple. A few of us sat in the basement. Our soft chanting mixed with the sighs and depressing conversations of other people who find shelter in our solid house. I looked at the faces of the devotees, who seem calm and steady even in such difficult moments. They always have Krsna, the real shelter.
* * *
A friend of the temple phones us and tells of her adventures.
"There were just a few sellers, with wild herbs and nettles. I was deciding whether or not to buy, and suddenly a sniper's bullet whizzed near my head. Everyone ran in one direction, and I in the other. I heard a bullet hit near me. I was running frantically. The only thing I remember was that I was screaming in my mind, 'Krsna, save me! Krsna, save me!'
"The very next day, shells started dropping while I was napping in an armchair. I decided to leave, taking the Srimad-Bhagavatam with me. In the basement, we felt our building being hit. When I returned to my flat, I saw a pile of broken glass on the floor and a bullet hole in the armchair. In a short time, Krsna saved me twice."
* * *
The morning has broken over this unhappy city of Sarajevo. Through the windows I watch twin skyscrapers slowly burning down. The stench of smoke permeates the valley. The skyscrapers were named Moma, a Serbian name, and Uzeir, a Muslim one. They were meant to symbolize unity. But the people have no basis for unity. In a society without God consciousness, there can be no peace.
The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
Bill Clinton received a Back to Godhead, an ISKCON World Review, and Bhagavad-gita As It Is from ISKCON devotee Kirtiraja Dasa while campaigning in Florida last fall. Kirtiraja also gave the same package to Mr. Clinton's running mate, Al Gore.
Coretta King, wife of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., received a copy of the Gita from Kirtiraja while attending a celebration in Atlanta for Mahatma Gandhi's birthday. Other Gitas from Kirtiraja went to Ted Turner of Turner Broadcasting, Indian ambassador Kanwal Sybil, and former U.N. ambassador Andrew Young.
Former Beatle George Harrison asked devotees to cater for the celebrities at their tribute last October to Bob Dylan. So at Madison Square Garden in New York City, while some musicians performed onstage, those backstage spoke with devotees and enjoyed delicious Krsna-prasadam.
Singer Chrissie Hynde introduced George Harrison to the audience by saying, "Here's someone you all know—the guy who's into Hare Krsna."
Besides the twenty thousand people in the auditorium, twenty million more saw the concert on television—and heard Krsna's holy name.
The University of Maryland has appointed a Hare Krsna chaplain: Mrs. Kiran L. Sankhla. More than 1,600 students petitioned the campus ministry to ask that Mrs. Sankhla be made a chaplain, representing Krsna consciousness. The Reverend Sankhla, as she is known on campus, was welcomed by Dr. William L. Thomas, vice president for student affairs. He wrote, "I wish you tremendous success."
An event still three years off calls for planning to start now, say the leaders of ISKCON in North America. The event: the centennial of Srila Prabhupada's appearance. Srila Prabhupada appeared in 1896.
A three-day workshop in mediation trained devotees at the fall semester of ISKCON's Vaisnava Institute. The Institute programs took place at the Gita Nagari Farm, in eastern Pennsylvania. Psychologist Christina Cassanova led the workshop, assisted by Hemalata Dasi, a New York City clinical social worker. They showed how mediation can help solve problems that arise in human interactions.
The Radha-Damodara Deities attracted more than a hundred devotees to a "family reunion" last fall. Radha-Damodara were the Deities of a party that traveled America by bus in the mid-seventies, putting on Krsna conscious festivals and passing out Srila Prabhupada's books. The reunion, held at Gita Nagari, brought together former members of the party, and other devotees who had been inspired to serve the Deities.
Sunday School starts with a pizza party at the Hare Krsna temple in Brooklyn, New York, and it ends with a choice of four activities: drama club, Deity worship, mrdanga (drum) lessons, or classical Indian dance. Organizers of the Sri Sri Radha-Govinda Super Sunday School give kids three and a half hours of Krsna conscious fun while their parents attend the Sunday feast program in the temple. The kids also get classes on art, devotional chanting, and Bhagavad-gita.
The Jewish "Oy, Philadelphia" festival mixed with ISKCON's Jagannatha Rathayatra festival last summer on South Street. The city had mistakenly issued permits for both festivals. No problem, said Arie Upfalow, an organizer for the Jewish event. "It was great. I've never seen anything like it."
BTG columnist Yamuna Devi toured the United States last October and November to talk about her new cookbook, Yamuna's Table. Her tour included cooking demonstrations, book signings, and more than twenty interviews for radio, television, and newspapers.
An audience of about twenty thousand heard BTG columnist Hare Krsna Devi Dasi on early-morning radio. In November a live show in California called her at her home in Maine for forty minutes of talk about the land, the cows, and Krsna. Wallace Dorian, the host of the show, has been practicing Krsna consciousness for thirteen years.
Commonwealth of Independent States
Georgian terrorists captured Armenian devotee Brutian Samvel as he traveled through Georgia in October. They sold him to Azerbaijani terrorists, who threatened to kill him. (Azerbaijan and Armenia are involved in an ethnic conflict over disputed territory.) Then, surprisingly, the Azerbaijanis called ISKCON's Moscow temple to tell the devotees they had Brutian.
ISKCON leader Niranjana Swami faxed a letter direct to the president of Azerbaijan, asking for Brutian's release. Niranjana Swami explained some basic points of Krsna consciousness. Brutian's presence in Georgia had nothing to do with politics, he said. Brutian was released that same day. He is now back in Moscow.
A local military commander helped devotees set up a Hare Krsna Food for Life program in Sukhumi, Georgia. He got them a government kitchen—the only one left intact after shooting and disorder in Sukhumi, which has suffered violence and economic woes since the breakup of the Soviet Union. The Food for Life program every day feeds 300 to 400 people, many nearly starving.
Private companies have sent donations, and the state ministry of internal affairs sends money directly into ISKCON's bank account, to feed officers, soldiers, and prisoners. Because of a fuel shortage, the military gives free petrol for the devotees' vehicles.
The government of Belarus has given ISKCON 304 acres of farmland outside Minsk. The devotees have moved their cows from Minsk to the farm. They plan to start building a temple and planting a seventy-acre garden in the spring.
Oslo temple president Tilakanatha Dasa visits about four schools a week, presenting Krsna consciousness to students in their mandatory religion class. So far he has visited more than 250 schools. That's half the schools in Norway.
Radio Krsna has been broadcasting from the Oslo temple since 1984. It reaches about sixty miles, with a potential audience of one million listeners—one fourth of Norway's population.
Devotees give out prasadam, food offered to Krsna, at the front gate of Jaipur's Radha-Govinda Temple, one of India's most famous temples. Once a week, about eight hundred people receive a plate of kicchri (a hearty split-pea-and-rice preparation) and sweet-rice pudding. ISKCON life members sponsor the program.
Devotees in Mayapur, West Bengal, travel to towns and villages to put on Krsna conscious programs, at least one a week. Often, more than five thousand people attend. The biggest program last year was in Bashirhat—25,000 people.
The devotees have a transportable festival chariot (ratha) with which to hold programs all over eastern India.
Devotees have opened the "Hare Krishna Gift Shop" in the heart of Hubli, Karnataka, a city of about a hundred thousand. The store, run by Muralidhara Dasa, sells devotional items and Srila Prabhupada's books.
You can reach the secretary for ISKCON's governing body at a new address: GBC Communications, P.O. Box 10279 (Ballyganj), Calcutta 700 019, India.
Krsna consciousness has come to Taveuni, the third largest of Fiji's 320 islands. ISKCON has had a center on the main island, Viti Levu, since 1974. Devotees began traveling to Taveuni occasionally in 1990 to hold Krsna conscious programs, and now a solid group of about twenty people hold weekly programs. At a recent ceremony at the Lambhasa temple, on Vanua Leva, the second largest island, five Taveuni devotees received spiritual initiation from ISKCON leader Tamal Krishna Goswami.
ISKCON's first fully accredited high school has emerged at the New Govardhana Farm in Murwillumbah, New South Wales.
The Hare Krsna Hour airs on the radio every Monday in Sydney. A recent nine-program series: the complete Bhagavad-gita in English.
Sir Edmund Hillary welcomed two devotees to his home last fall. Sir Edmund, the first man to climb Mt. Everest, has served as New Zealand's High Commissioner to India, and he is deeply interested in Indian culture. He is also an advocate for protecting the environment. So he signed a letter encouraging New Zealanders to support the Padayatra, a walk organized by devotees to promote, among other things, a land-based economy and living in harmony with nature.
A scientist from ISKCON's Bhaktivedanta Institute has completed a five-week lecture tour of schools, colleges, and universities in the three provinces of South Africa. The scientist, Rasaraja Dasa, visited fifteen campuses and gave more than thirty lectures. One professor called Rasaraja's talks "a breath of fresh air through the dusty cobweb of traditionalism."
HERE'S A Krsna conscious project you might like to support or get involved in.
The Bhaktivedanta Youth Services (BYS).
ISKCON Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India.
Bhakti Raghava Swami oversees the project, assisted by Madhava Dasa (corresponding secretary), Sahadeva Dasa (newsletter co-editor), and Raja Rama Dasa (state director in Andhra Pradesh).
To inspire, educate, and train young people, especially educated young people, in the basic principles of Krsna consciousness. In this way, BYS aims at increasing the number of devotees in ISKCON's communities and congregations and improving the spiritual standards of young people who come to Krsna consciousness.
Because Srila Prabhupada stressed the importance of teaching Krsna consciousness to youth, on his appearance day in 1987 devotees launched the Bhaktivedanta Youth Services at ISKCON's temple in Calcutta. The organizers of BYS saw a need for a systematic way to involve young people in the Krsna consciousness movement. They felt that the project should not only train young people to be full-time devotees living in temples, but also provide ways for young people living outside to support and interact with ISKCON.
The Bhaktivedanta Youth Services reaches out to boys and girls, students and nonstudents, the educated and the uneducated, the rich and the poor.
For the past few years, the BYS in Secunderabad has published a monthly newsletter and sent it free to BYS members and ISKCON temples in India.
Temples in India and abroad now have youth programs, with weekly meetings, debates, seminars, excursions, Sunday schools, book distribution, prasadam distribution, and other activities.
ISKCON leaders in India are working toward setting up a continental youth ministry to further promote and coordinate the efforts to teach Krsna consciousness to youth.
BYS is compiling an international pen pal directory with names and addresses of Western devotees and Indian youth abroad.
BYS is setting up a ministry for Krsna conscious videos and audiocassettes and is building a computer network to help expand ISKCON's activities for young people in India.
BYS hopes that Krsna conscious services for young people will one day be widely available in schools and colleges in India and abroad.
The project has no specific source of funding, so lack of money has impeded its growth.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Any devotee who would like to spend a few months in India working with the BYS is welcome.
Apart from that, the BYS welcomes donations for things that will help in its work. For example: a vehicle—a bus or an Ambassador car—with which to visit Indian colleges and universities. And a desktop computer (386 DX), with a good dot-matrix printer. For the video and audio ministries, a copy of the Folio scriptural database. And for Bhakti Raghava Swami on the road, a notebook computer.
c/o Sriman Sahadeva Dasa
27 St. John's Rd.
Andhra Pradesh, India
Bhakti Raghava Swami
212 Somerset St. E.
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6V4
Phone: (613) 565-6544
Fax: (613) 565-7121
The World Seen Through the Eyes of Vedic Knowledge
One Billion Consumer Units Yearning To Be Free
By Badrinarayana Dasa
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL headline jumped out at me: "China Market Opening Up—One Billion New Consumer Units." The article was almost giddy with the thought of this huge field of untapped senses waiting to be titillated. Here were living, breathing consumer units, with desires and needs they never knew they had. The article mentioned Russia, the big news in Moscow being the opening of the world's largest McDonald's. (What for? So Russians too can drop dead of cancer from red meat, or heart attacks from too much cholesterol? Or is it so they can help us bury the world under fast-food wrappers?)
The basic axiom of salesmanship says, "Create a need, then fill it." Consider this snow job: Before we feel we can even face one another in the morning, the average man uses eight different personal-hygiene items, and the average woman twelve.
Stimulus, response, stimulus, response, like donkeys we are induced onto a treadmill for our sensual carrots.
The Bhagavad-gita says it succinctly:
An intelligent person does not take part in the sources of misery, which are due to contact with the material senses. Sensory pleasures have a beginning and an end, and so the wise man does not delight in them.
During the democracy demonstrations in Tiananmin Square, some students carried a replica of the Statue of Liberty. Many an immigrant has sailed into New York's harbor past that statue, as she holds high her torch and proclaims, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."
But the real guiding torchlight is the wisdom found in the Bhagavad-gita, and the real fresh air of freedom is the pure life of devotional service to the Supreme Lord.
The students and other seekers of freedom in China may in time succeed in throwing off their old masters. But if in exchange they accept the yoke and whip of consumerism, theirs will be a sad and hollow victory.