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.
When Science and the Vedas Don't Match
IN THIS ISSUE WE DEVOTE a large chunk of space to an article on archeology—old bones, stone tools, broken pottery, and the like. The article says nothing about Krsna and nothing about spiritual life. Why then should we run it?
Much of the modern world operates under the notion that science gives us facts and spirituality gives us beliefs. But sometimes that notion deserves to be stood on its head. When we come to the most important questions—the origin of the universe, the descent of man, the nature of mind and matter—the world of science is poor in facts, rich in dogmas, taboos, superstitions, and orthodoxies. It's a world of sanctified speculations. Heretics beware—you risk being professionally burned or driven out into the desert.
Well, the Vedic viewpoint is heretical. If you accept the Vedic wisdom as it is, you can take a lot of what passes for science and just chuck it out the window.
This is not to say that science is always wrong. But it's wrong often enough.
Starting on page 25, you'll find a case in point. Science has a picture of human evolution that the Vedas say is wrong. And when you look impartially at the evidence gathered—but later buried by scientists themselves, even science says that science has it wrong. As it turns out, either the facts don't stand at all, or else they stand with the Vedas.
So followers of the Vedic philosophy should be confident. They need not be intimidated by charges that the Vedic view is out of line with modern scientific thought. When what science says and what the Vedas say don't match, suspect that science has it wrong. The Vedic view can withstand scientific scrutiny. And under Vedic scrutiny, ideas that are supposedly scientific may sometimes have to be sent marching off to join the tooth fairy.
We don't need to compromise, accepting Vedic knowledge only when it seems to conform with what we already know." Our material means of gathering knowledge are limited and imperfect. We cheat, we make mistakes, we fall into illusion, and our senses are imperfect. We may know a lot less than we think.
Science has its way of gathering knowledge, and the Vedic culture has a different way. The Vedic sages have access to sources of knowledge beyond those available to scientific research. Reject the Vedic version if you will—but understand that by doing so, you cut yourself off from what the Vedic wisdom has to offer.
On the other hand, take the Vedas seriously, and you open yourself up to a rich source of new ideas and understandings.
Send correspondence to The Editors, Back to Godhead, P.O. Box 430, Alachua, FL 32615, USA. Phone: (904) 462-7794. (Continue to send subscription inquiries to: Back to Godhead, P. O. Box 16027, N. Hollywood, CA 91615
Thank you very much for your regular delivery of Krsna conscious culture and color. Three things of inspirational note:
1. The article on Tulasi Devi by Govinda Dasi. This was especially helpful since we have several Tulasi plants at home. Very valuable information. We need a handbook on growing and caring for Tulasi. Do you know where we can get one?
2. The articles on the sacred places of India.
3. Those on past sadhus and acaryas in our disciplic line are very relish-able by me—bringing the history and background of Krsna consciousness into the light and giving me roots, so to speak. I've never been to India, so this news and the pictures are needed to help me feel more connected.
Saranga Thakura Dasa
The Tulasi Handbook is available from Krishna Culture. (See page 62.)
A Call for Support
Your article entitled "ISKCON Celebrates 25 Years of Growth" (Nov/Dec 1992) included a testimony by a Mr. C. Patel, who was so grateful to the devotees of the Chicago Hare Krsna temple for their kindness and inspiration that he "repaid" them by writing a check for the balance of their mortgage. Thank you, Mr. Patel. I can't help but wish there were more people like you who, realizing the importance of the Krsna consciousness movement and meditating on what their own lives would be like without it, would take the responsibility of financially supporting their local Krsna temple.
I'm writing to encourage readers to donate regularly to the Hare Krsna temple or project of your choice. While not everyone can afford to pay the balance of a temple mortgage, everyone can sacrifice a little as an offering to the Supreme Lord, Sri Krsna, who is the source of all prosperity. There is no investment wiser, as its return is eternal.
Rupa Manjari Devi Dasi
Bhakti Yoga Club Pleasing to Prabhupada
I greatly appreciate your efforts with BTG and think it has started to improve by leaps and bounds. Your service in this regard is commendable, and I hope for your continued progress and success with this most important publication. Surely Prabhupada would be pleased.
I would like to respond to Sangeeta Kumar of Toronto, Canada, whose letter appeared in the January/February issue:
Your desire to start a club to spread Krsna consciousness in your high school would be very much appreciated by Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada wrote to my brother around 1971, when he was in high school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My brother Richard had written to Prabhupada that his elder brother was an initiated disciple of Prabhupada and that he was now reading Bhagavad-gita and wanted to serve Prabhupada in some way. Prabhupada wrote back and told my brother that it would please him if he would start a Krsna club at school and teach the philosophy of Krsna consciousness. Richard went through the necessary steps to begin the club, and he was met with great derision and ridicule from his classmates, who taunted him to such a degree that at times he was near tears. Although the club gained very few members, my brother's sincerity and service were of the greatest benefit to himself and anyone he came in contact with. He left this world at the age of 21, and I'll never forget his love and devotion for Srila Prabhupada, although he never officially joined ISKCON. So you see, your service in this endeavor is directly sanctioned and appreciated by Srila Prabhupada. The benefits to you and to all you meet are incalculable.
The BTG is very wonderful. My wife and I eagerly look forward to each issue and relish it from cover to cover. Thank you.
Thanks to the Authors
I've been reading BTG since 1969, and the Jan/Feb issue really made an impression on me. I wanted to write to each author to express my thanks for writing such nice articles, but it's easier if you could just print this letter next issue. I'm certain others agree with me that this is the quality of BTG Prabhupada would be pleased with.
Visva Mohana Dasa
If we'll just do as Krsna asks, He'll remove the covering from our eyes.
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
A lecture given in Hyderabad, India, November 29, 1972
avyakto 'yam acintyo 'yam
"It is said that the soul is invisible, inconceivable, and immutable. Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body."—Bhagavad-gita 2.25
When Krsna was playing as a child, He ate earth, and His playmates complained to mother Yasoda, "Mother, your son Krsna is eating earth."
Mother Yasoda asked for an explanation: "Krsna, why are You eating earth? I have given You sandesa [a sweet]."
Krsna said, "No, Mother, I have not eaten earth."
"No, Your friends are complaining."
"No, they have become My enemies this morning. We had some quarrel. Therefore they have combined so that you will chastise Me."
Mother Yasoda wanted to solve the problem. "All right, show me Your mouth. Open Your mouth. I want to see."
When Krsna opened His mouth, His mother saw innumerable universes inside.
This is Krsna. Anor aniyan mahato mahiyan. Krsna enters within the universe, but at the same time millions of universes are within His mouth. This is the explanation of "greater than the greatest and smaller than the smallest."
Of course, although mother Yasoda saw Krsna's display, she could not believe it, because she never thought that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. She always thought, "He is my tiny child." That's all. "I have to take care of Him." These are called paternal feelings—vatsalya-rasa.
Krsna is served by the devotees in many rasas—transcendental mellows or humors. Someone is serving as His servant. Someone is serving as His friend. Someone is serving as His father and mother. Someone is serving as His conjugal lover. These are the five primary mellows in which a devotee is connected with Krsna.
There are seven other rasas. They are secondary. For example, somebody is serving Krsna as an enemy, like the asuras, the demons. They also serve Krsna, but as His enemy. Somebody serves by giving pleasure to Krsna, another by fighting with Him.
So there are twelve rasas. Akhila-rasamrta-sindhu—all the rasas we experience within this world come from Krsna. Janmadyasya yatah. The Vedanta-sutra says that everything within our experience is in Krsna. That is Krsna. He was stealing, which we generally consider not very good business. But stealing is also in Krsna. He's famous as Makhana-cora, the stealer of butter.
All our dealings in the material world are only a perverted reflection of our dealings with Krsna in the spiritual world. But the impersonalists, who are unaware of the spiritual world, have no information that Krsna is always busy. Because He's a person, He's always busy. He wants to please the gopijanas—the cowherd boys and the gopis, His constant companions.
Krsna is sanatana, eternal, and His dealings with His devotees are also sanatana. And these dealings are possible not here but in the sanatana-dhama, the eternal world. We cannot have sanatana dealings with Krsna in the material world. Therefore Krsna comes to canvass the conditioned souls: "For eternal happiness, for eternal dealings, come to Me in My eternal place." Yad gatva na nivartante tad dhama paramam mama.
Why not in the material world? By nature the material world is not permanent; it is temporary. Janmadi. Everything in the material world has a date of birth, and anything which has a date of birth must have a date of death also. That is the nature of the material world.
Here we can practice sanatana-dharma, the eternal occupation, but sanatana-dharma is actually performed in the spiritual world. In business one is trained to become an apprentice and then he's given a post. Similarly, Sanatana Gosvami explains, devotees who are perfectly trained in devotional service are first of all given birth in the universe where Krsna is present.
Of course, Krsna is always present everywhere, just as the sun is always present in the sky. When the sun sets, it is not within my vision, but the sun is still in the sky. Similarly, Krsna is always present. We have to make our eyes fit to see Him. How? Lord Brahma explains:
Only the devotees who have loving affection for Krsna can see Him. The propensity to love Krsna is there already. But we have transferred that loving propensity to maya, illusion. The whole process of Krsna consciousness is to transfer the loving propensity from maya back to Krsna. This is the simple definition of Krsna consciousness. We have love for Krsna, but being illusioned, being falsely positioned, we are trying to love something which is not Krsna—maya, Krsna's maya, or illusion.
Krsna says, mama maya: "Maya is also Mine." For example, the cloud is made by the sun. The sun evaporates water from the ocean, and the water becomes a cloud. The business of the cloud is to cover our eyes from seeing the sun, but actually the cloud has no separate existence, and as soon as the sun is bright, the cloud disappears. Bhutva bhutva praliyate: The cloud comes into existence, and again it disappears. Similarly, maya, illusion, is only sometimes generated. The material world is impermanent. It comes and goes. Maya simply covers our eyes.
But although the cloud can cover my eyesight, it cannot cover the sun. Similarly maya cannot touch Krsna. The Mayavada philosophy says that when Krsna comes here He comes covered by maya. No. This is not correct. Maya cannot touch Krsna. When Vyasadeva realized Krsna before writing the Srimad-Bhagavatam, he saw Krsna and maya. Maya was in the background. Maya cannot come in front of Krsna. So Krsna is never covered by maya. It is our eyes which are covered by maya.
So we, the fragments of Krsna, are covered by maya, but Krsna is not. The theory that Krsna becomes covered is nonsense. Krsna is the controller of maya. And we are controlled by maya. That is the difference. Krsna is mayadhisa, the controller of maya, and we are mayadhina, controlled by maya.
Yet we can become free. When an airplane goes above the clouds, you have immense sunlight. The clouds are below. Similarly, you can go above maya. You can transcend maya and see Krsna always. That is possible. How? Mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te: You simply surrender to Krsna, and Krsna will arrange that you are no longer under maya. Simple process. Just do as Krsna demands—sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: "Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me." This is sanatana-dharma.
We are, after all, servants of Krsna, but artificially we are trying to become masters of the material world. We are therefore sent here. Just as those who are revolutionary, who do not care for state laws, are sometimes killed or put into the prisonhouse, those who are not voluntarily surrendering to Krsna are put into the prisonhouse of the material world. They are forced to surrender.
And when you falsely think you have become free—"I have now become liberated. I have become God"—you fall into the last snare of maya. How can you become God? What capacity do you have? God has created so many things. What have you created? God has shown so many things. What have you done?
Still, people falsely think, "I am God." This is the last snare of maya. Everyone is trying to lord it over material nature. We think, "I want to become a cabinet minister." "I want to become president." "I want to become a business magnate." And when everything fails, we want to become God. That is also maya. It is not possible to become God.
Our relationship with God, Krsna, is that we are meant to serve Him. But we have forgotten our real position, our sanatana-dharma. Sanatana-dharma means that the living entity is a part of the whole and is therefore meant to serve the whole. Because my finger is part of my body, its business is to carry out my order, to serve the whole body. If I want my finger to come to my head, it comes at once. Similarly, our business is to serve Krsna. But when we want to become lord, independent of Krsna, we place ourselves in maya. The Prema Vivarta states, krsna-bahirmukha hana bhoga-vancha kare/ nikata-stha maya tare japatiya dhare: "When the living entity wants to enjoy material nature, he is immediately victimized by the material nature." As soon as we desire to imitate Krsna, that is maya. We create the situation of maya. "I want to become Krsna. I want to become God. I want to become the Lord." This is maya.
Krsna is sanatana, eternal. We are also sanatana. But when we forget to serve Krsna, we serve temporary things. And when we engage again in the service of Krsna, we return to our sanatana-dharma, eternally serving Krsna.
Dharma means "characteristic." You cannot change dharma. The characteristic of sugar is sweetness, and the characteristic of chili is pungency. Everything has its characteristic. That is called its dharma. You purchase chili, and if it is not very pungent you throw it away—"Oh, it is not good"—because the dharma of the chili is lacking. Similarly, if you take sugar and find it salty, then you say, "Oh, what is this?"
So everything has some characteristic, and we as living entities have our characteristic. We are sanatana, eternal. Our characteristic is to serve God. If I don't serve God, then the characteristic will remain and I'll have to serve maya, thinking in illusion that I have become master. For example, a man has a motorcar. To purchase a motorcar and maintain it requires lots of money, and to get this money he has to work very hard. But then he thinks, "Now I have a motorcar. Very nice." Still, he is serving the motorcar, that's all.
This is the position. One is actually servant, not master, but he thinks that he's master. This is maya. When we give up the falsely prestigious claim that we are master, then we are liberated.
Now we are struggling hard within the material world under the influence of maya, changing between different bodies. Sometimes I go to the heavenly planets, sometimes to the hellish planets. Sometimes I am a rich man, sometimes a poor man, a brahmana, a sudra, a tiger, a tree. In this way, everywhere within the universe the living entities are struggling for existence. Krsna says:
"All living entities are My parts and parcels, but foolishly, carried by mental concoction within the material world, they are struggling to become master."
This is the disease. The rascals are pulled by the ear by prakrti, material nature. Material nature dictates, "Do this," and I have to do it. To one who has associated with the mode of ignorance, prakrti gives the body of a hog. Then prakrti tells him, "Come here. Eat the stool." And he eats. "Oh, so nice." This is maya. Is stool a very nice thing? But prakrti has given the hog a certain type of body, and he is relishing, "Oh, stool is so nice." In the human form of body also, people are eating so many nonsense things in the restaurants, in the hotels. And they're relishing, "Oh, it is so nice." This is maya.
Our business is to serve, but because we take the attitude "I don't like to serve Krsna" or "I am Krsna," we are placed under the clutches of maya—immediately. And under the illusion of maya, we associate with the different modes of material nature, and so we have to take birth. Sad-asad-yoni-janmasu. One becomes a hog, one becomes a dog, one becomes a human being, a demigod, a tree, a plant—8,400,000 species and forms of life. Krsna says, sarva-yonisu kaunteya ... aham bija-pradah pita: "Of all these forms—whatever they may be—I am the father."
So if Krsna is the original father of every living entity, how has one become a brahmana, one a sudra, one a tree, one a tiger, a hog, an Indra, a Brahma? How is that?
We get our births in different types of body because we associate with different modes of nature. My mind carries me to the next body. It is foolish to say, "This man is now dead. Everything is finished." That is rascaldom. He is not finished. His life is going on.
Foolish rascals say, "Now this man is dead, finished." Big, big professors say, "Swamiji, after death everything is finished." And they're professors. Just see. Rascals and fools are becoming leaders, professors, politicians. How will the people be happy when they are always led into ignorance and enamored by the external feature of Krsna's energy?
The material world is also Krsna's energy. But we are attracted by the material energy when we should be attracted by the spiritual. As explained in the Bhagavad-gita, both energies are Krsna's: apara (inferior) energy and para (superior) energy. But we are now attracted by the material elements of the apara energy: bhumir apo analo vayuh—earth, water, fire, air. And because we are attracted by the material energy, when we construct a very nice stone house we think, "Now, yes, my life is successful. I have a very nice house of stone." Am I stone? No. Still, my attraction is for the stone. Therefore Krsna gives me facility: "All right, take the stone and try to be happy. But you'll never be happy. You'll be happy when you surrender to Me."
For example, a father gives his child all facilities to play, but at the same time the father says, "My dear child, don't play like this. It is not good." But because the child persists, the father sometimes says, "All right, you play like that." Similarly, Krsna does not want us to come to the material world and be attracted by earth, water, air, fire, and sky and become great scientists and make combinations of these five elements. What is this world? Tejo-vari-mrdam yatha vinimayo yatra tri-sargo 'mrsa: This world is a mixture of fire, earth, water, air, and sky. It is a false thing.
As this world is a combination of these five elements, our body is also a combination of these same five elements, and we are attracted to it. "Oh, I have such a nice, strong, beautiful body—American body, Indian body, brahmana body, this body, that body." All maya. You'll never be happy by this bodily concept of life.
Krsna indirectly explains this point when He says, acchedyo 'yam adahyo 'yam akledyo 'sosya eva ca: "The individual soul is unbreakable and insoluble, and can be neither burned nor dried." Since the body is burned to ashes, how can we be the body? When a man is dead, the body is put into the fire and burned. Then how are we the body?
The body is made of three elements: bile, mucus, and air. It is a bag of bones and flesh and blood. If one thinks, "I am this body," then he is go-kharah—a cow or an ass. Anyone in the bodily concept of life is an animal. And how can you receive knowledge from a person who is an animal? You cannot get any knowledge from the cows or the asses.
To speak frankly, practically everyone is in the bodily concept of life. Therefore the modern civilization is an animal civilization, not a human civilization. Human civilization begins when one understands, "I am not this body. I am spirit soul (aham brahmasmi)." As long as people are under the bodily concept of life, theirs is a civilization of cats and dogs, that's all.
Thank you very much.
In Happiness and Distress
By Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami
MISERY AND HAPPINESS come and go in this world, just like winter and summer. The Bhagavad-gita advises us to tolerate both happiness and distress. We are meant to tolerate while we keep performing our duties, and we are meant to keep worshiping Krsna despite everything. The Bhagavatam (10.14.8) states, tat te 'nukampam su-samiksamano... "My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words, and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim." This verse defines the mood of a devotee facing adversity.
Suffering is caused by our past acts. Therefore, a devotee should not expect immediate relief from his or her past karma. Prabhupada has assured us that Krsna minimizes our karmic reactions when we take up devotional service. But a devotee also looks at the suffering in the material world as a reminder of the harshness of illusion. Suffering is a teacher. Our hands are being rapped: "Pay attention! Work to get out of this material world! Remember Krsna!"
There can be no peace in the material world, where no one is free from karmic reactions. As long as we stay in material existence we must continuously suffer or enjoy the results of our past acts. The Nectar of Devotion describes these acts and their reactions as an almost unbreakable chain. Not only are we getting reactions to sins we have committed in the past, but present sinful activity is creating new reactions, reactions we will suffer in the future. And we have material desires within us that we have not yet acted upon. These also will have their reactions.
Devotees sometimes think they should be exempt from suffering because they are surrendered to Krsna. At initiation (the beginning of devotional life), the chain of karmic reactions is broken. Krsna tells us in Bhagavad-gita, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja, aham tvam sarva-papebhyo: all papa (sin) will be removed by surrender to Him. But Prabhupada tells us that Krsna will still give us a token reaction as a reminder of the dangers of the material world and as an impetus to greater surrender. He gives us enough suffering to break our attachments. He wants to wean us from sense gratification and free us from further entanglement. And He wants us to love Him completely.
A devotee doesn't want to be detained in the material world. So he always looks for ways to increase his remembrance of Krsna. Happiness and distress are the same for a devotee because they push the mind toward Krsna. Our real solace as devotees is to spend our days in that spirit.
The Bhagavatam states that liberation becomes the rightful claim for one who thinks like this. The exact word used to describe him is daya-bhak, "a rightful heir." A pure devotee who is prepared to undergo any tribulation for Krsna consciousness becomes fit to enter the transcendental abode. Sridhara Swami comments, "What does a son have to do to get his father's property? He simply has to stay alive." To inherit a place in the spiritual world, we have to stay spiritually alive in all situations.
An example was set by Maharaja Yudhisthira. He was a great devotee of Krsna, but he suffered heavily, both in exile with his brothers and after the Kuruksetra War. Maharaja Yudhisthira was an honest and pious king. So when he thought of all the deaths caused by the war—a war fought simply to enthrone him—he felt weighed down by guilt and sorrow. No one could relieve him. Krsna then advised him to go for instruction to Bhisma.
At that time, Bhisma was lying on a bed formed by the arrows shot through his body. He was in great pain. Yet instead of going to him to ease his last days, Yudhisthira and his four brothers approached Bhisma to ask for help. Bhismadeva said,
sarvam kala-krtam manye
"In my opinion, your suffering is all due to inevitable time, under whose control everyone in every planet is carried, just as the clouds are carried by the wind" (Bhagavatam 1.9.14). God's ways are unknown. Everything happens under the control of time, according to the will of the Lord.
We are so tiny. Who are we to question the vast intelligence of the universe? Who are we to demand to fathom or change that which Krsna has set up? As Prabhupada says about Yudhisthira, we should not be sorry for the inconceivable action of time.
Hrd-vag-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te... All we can do is continue to offer obeisances to Krsna from the core of our hearts. Yudhisthira's sufferings were not reactions for sins committed in his past, but "everyone has to bear the actions and reactions of time as long as one is within the conditions of the material world." Even the most pious person has to suffer because of material nature. If this were not so, the material world would be nondifferent from the spiritual world, Vaikuntha—the place of no anxiety.
Bhisma added, "Oh, how wonderful is the influence of inevitable time. It is irreversible—otherwise, how can there be reverses in the presence of King Yudhisthira, the son of the demigod controlling religion; Bhima, the great fighter with a club; the great bowman Arjuna with his mighty weapon Gandiva; and above all, the Lord, the direct well-wisher of the Pandavas?" In the face of that which is inevitable, only a fool holds a grudge. As Bhismadeva states, there is no need to lament when something is beyond the control of any human being.
A devotee, though, goes beyond the inevitabilities of material nature and sees the hand of Krsna present in everything. Still, precisely what Krsna intends is beyond our knowing. "O king," said Bhismadeva, "no one can know the plan of Lord Sri Krsna. Even though great philosophers inquire exhaustively, they are bewildered." And Prabhupada adds in his purport:
The bewilderment of Maharaja Yudhisthira over his past sinful acts and the resultant sufferings is completely negated by the great authority Bhisma. Bhisma wanted to impress upon Maharaja Yudhisthira that since time immemorial, no one, including such demigods as Siva and Brahma, could ascertain the real plan of the Lord. So what can we understand about it?
Why did this happen to me? Bhisma considers this a useless question. Even the exhaustive philosophical inquiries of the sages cannot ascertain the reason. A devotee can simply have faith in Krsna's ultimate kindness, continue to worship Him with heart, mind, and words, and continue to patiently accept Krsna's mercy in whatever form it appears, whether in happiness or distress. In this way, a devotee earns the right to return to the spiritual world.
Cooking Class: Lesson 7
Puris: India's Festive Breads
By Yamuna Devi
OF INDIA'S FLATBREADS, deep-fried puris are the most festive. You'll find them on the menu at most celebrations—from weddings to festivals to the Sunday feasts at ISKCON temples. Prepared in temple kitchens for millennia, even today puris are distributed in the thousands as maha-prasadam to temple visitors.
Along with being India's most elegant and dramatic flatbread, puris are the quickest and easiest to make. You simply roll a ball of enriched-wheat dough into a medium-thin round and slip it into hot oil. It cooks within a minute and balloons into a crisp, golden thin-shelled orb. A puri is best served at once—when it's still filled with hot steam—because it holds its shape for only one or two minutes. Of course, warm deflated puris are still delicious. At room temperature they are called basi puris, and they're popular in everything from lunch boxes to traveling meals.
Of the many ethnic breads I've studied, the most memorable are those that remain simple, with strong ties to their ancient past. Unleavened puris declare their character through the quality and purity of only three elements—flour, water, and ghee (clarified butter).
Puri's Basic Ingredients
Soft, freshly milled wheat flour is preferred, both for its flavor and for its elasticity. In many Indian kitchens, wheat is ground daily, the flour considered stale after sitting around even three days. Although I sporadically possess a grain mill, at present I don't and use the next best thing: organic whole-wheat pastry flour, available at natural-food stores. A final option might be a mixture of unbleached white flour and whole-wheat flour. Grains and flours free from chemicals and pesticides are wholesome and nutritious and when stored in the freezer retain much of their goodness.
Good water is important in bread-making. In India people collect fresh water daily, usually from wells, and store it in jugs of clay or copper. They often label their water sweet or salty, the former redolent of spring water, the latter bearing traces of salt or mineral deposits. Indian city dwellers who use municipal water boil it and use it after it has cooled. In the West I recommend mountain spring water.
Just as a true French croissant requires butter and Italian foccacia requires extra-virgin olive oil, classic puris require clarified butter, called ghee. Butter—roughly eighty percent butterfat, eighteen percent water, and two percent protein solids—cannot be heated to the temperatures needed for deep-frying. When butter is clarified, its water is driven off and the protein solids divided from the pure butterfat. The subtle, refined flavor of clarified butter, often described as nutty and sweet, comes largely from a delicate caramelization of lactose sugars in the butter.
Ghee is easy to make. You'll find two methods in the class textbook, Lord Krishna's Cuisine. There you'll also find instructions for making flavor-infused ghee such as aromatic ginger ghee, spice-seed ghee, and peppercorn ghee. My current favorite ghee infusion is made with cloves, a peppercorn blend, and fresh sweet-neem leaves. In America, both ghee and organic butter are available in larger natural-food stores. If you want to sample puris without butterfat, try them fried in cold-pressed corn oil or one of the many flavor-infused oils mentioned in my book Yamuna's Table.
Shaping and Frying Puris
Although it takes a little practice to master rolling round, even puris, your first attempts will still taste delicious. For newcomers, I recommend rolling all the breads out beforehand and keeping them covered on cookie sheets. This will let you fry them quickly and serve them hot off the flame.
What most sets the flavor in plain puris is the frying medium. In India, many temple chefs and home cooks won't use the same ghee twice to fry puris; they cook each batch in a small amount of ghee and then throw that ghee out. An educated palate can easily detect puris fried in used ghee or oil. It's easy to see why ghee is sometimes called "liquid gold." It's a pricy frying medium, but there's nothing quite like it.
You can save ghee by using the right size pan. For the recipe below, use 2 ½ cups of ghee in a 1- or 2-quart saucepan or a 9-inch bowl-shaped Indian karai. The rule of thumb is to use at least 1 ½ inches of oil for small batches of puris, and about 2 ½ inches for larger pans and quantity cooking.
A Few More Notes
If you make puris only once or twice a year, this simple recipe should suffice. But if you're following this series of cooking classes, try several selections from the class textbook, experimenting with different flours, types of water, dairy products, and flavor-infused ghee or oil.
Srila Prabhupada had a great fondness for puris and once noted that until he was in his twenties he preferred them over capatis. I never tired of preparing new varieties for him, ferreting out the best ingredients available as he traveled here and there. Occasionally he requested them for special lunches, a late-evening meal, or breakfast in cold weather.
Puris go well with almost any stew, vegetable dish, or legume dish, and with many regional cuisines. For a simple North Indian village-style feast, serve puris with kicchari and yogurt. For a special lunch or dinner, serve them with one or two vegetables and a salad. For an afternoon snack, try them with sliced mangoes and chilled sweet-rice pudding.
2 cups sieved whole-wheat pastry flour. Or 1 cup whole-wheat flour mixed with 1 cup unbleached white flour or cake flour
Place the flour in a large bowl. If you're using more than one type of flour, mix them together thoroughly. Drizzle the flour with ghee or oil and blend it in well with your fingertips. Add ½ cup of water and work the dough into a rough mass. In dribbles, add more water as needed, until you make a medium-consistency dough. Clean your hands thoroughly and coat them with oil. Knead the dough for about 8 minutes, until it's smooth and pliable. Coat the dough with a film of oil, cover it, and let it rest for 30 minutes. (You can make the dough a day ahead of time and chill it. Bring it to room temperature before continuing.)
Divide the dough into 16 smooth patties. Cover them with plastic to prevent drying. Take one ball of dough, keeping the others covered, and flatten it into a patty ½ inch thick. Dip a corner of the patty into melted ghee or oil and roll it out into a 5-inch round, using firm but even pressure. Place it on a cookie sheet. Roll all the puris in this way. Cover them loosely. Do not let rounds touch one another.
To cook the puris, heat at least 1 ½ inches of ghee or oil over moderately high heat (365 degrees F). Add one dough round. When it rises to the surface, tap it gently with the back of a slotted spoon for about one minute, until it's puffed and beginning to turn golden. Turn the puri and cook it on the other side for about a half a minute, until it's near golden brown. Transfer it to a tray lined with paper towels. Continue with the other dough rounds. Offer the puris to Krsna hot, warm, or at room temperature.
Bhakti-yoga at Home
By Rohininandana Dasa
KRSNA CONSCIOUSNESS has to be lived to be understood, and when it is lived, one's world becomes bright with an ever-increasing festiveness of spiritual emotion. The Sanskrit word for festival is utsava, which means "pleasure," or more fully, "the expression of complete happiness." Srila Prabhupada used to say that the entire Vedic mission is summarized in the words sarve sukhino bhavantu: "Let everyone be happy."
Krsna's devotees wish to impart transcendental pleasure to their children, yet exactly how to do so can be a puzzle. Srila Prabhupada gives us a four-point formula for a happy family life. He writes, "One need only chant Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, accept the remnants of foodstuffs offered to Krsna, have some discussion on books like Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, and engage oneself in Deity worship" (Bhagavad-gita 13.12, purport).
Simple enough? Chant Hare Krsna, eat prasadam, talk about Krsna, and offer arati. Anyone can do these things, and in the spiritual world—where everyone is moved by intense feelings of love for Krsna—everyone does them, with a never-ending relish.
So what about us? How can we make the regular practices of Krsna consciousness alive enough to compete with the sparkling promises of Maya's salesmen such as Mr. Nintendo? Our own spiritual practice may be inspired by an adult sense of obligation. But if we try to impose our practices on our children, they may feel frustrated and repressed. Still, a little sugar helps the medicine go down, and for a child the sugar is the parents' love, approval, nurturing, and understanding.
So here lies the background for successfully applying Srila Prabhupada's four-point formula: that we parents genuinely enjoy practicing Krsna consciousness ourselves, and that we love our children enough to want to be with them and share ourselves with them. Because children notice inconsistency, we must be steady in both these items, or our children will use our unsteadiness as an excuse to ignore restrictions we place on them.
We need to apply Srila Prabhupada's formula intelligently, sensitively, and sometimes innovatively so that both our children and we ourselves become increasingly enthusiastic about it. Prabhupada's idea was that Krsna consciousness be fun for children, a welcome part of their play. We may not yet share the same sense of constant festivity felt by the residents of the spiritual world. Still, our devotional calendar is liberally sprinkled with festival days. And what can be more fun for a child, or an adult, than a festival?
A child jumps for joy to hear that a special day is coming soon. A Krsna conscious festival means creativity and plans and preparations and color and smells and surprises. It means friends and giving and receiving and sharing. It means singing and dancing and playing and merrymaking.
We can get a sense of how to put on our festivals by hearing about the childhoods of the Lord and His devotees. When Lord Nityananda was a child, He and His friends, as part of their regular play, used to re-enact Krsna's pastimes. Once they were playing the battle of Lanka. When Nityananda as Laksmana was struck by Ravana's terrible sakti weapon, He fell unconscious. His friends stopped the play and fearfully gathered around Him. Some grownups arrived and suggested that to save Laksmana, Hanuman needed to fetch some special medicinal herbs. The child who was playing the part of Hanuman set off to look for the herbs. After a few adventures he returned with them, and when they were administered by the "physician," Nityananda was revived.
When Srila Prabhupada was a child he and his friends spent a long time rehearsing a drama about Lord Caitanya. When they finally staged their play, the large audience was moved to tears.
Srila Prabhupada also used to organize his own Rathayatra festivals, and the neighbors would join in.
When Lord Krsna was a child, He and the other village children helped the grown-ups care for the cows and calves. Always in a festive mood, the children of Vrndavana and their parents would regularly dress up and decorate themselves for celebrations.
When an Indian friend of mine was a child in East Africa, every year during the Diwali celebrations all the houses on her street were scrubbed clean, freshly painted, and garlanded with festoons. Running from house to house, she and her friends acted out the pastimes of Lord Rama and received gifts of varied homemade delicacies. At night each house was lit up with what seemed like hundreds of beautiful lamps. And the houses were alive with plays and music and singing.
Radha Priya, my wife, notes that in the Vedic tradition a festival is a family affair for everyone in the village. To a child, the concept of a "children's festival," arranged by the adults especially for him and his friends, subtly implies that adults must have a separate, and probably better, life than his. In a family festival everyone takes part equally, no matter what one's age, status, or sex. Here's how Radha Priya described our festival for Lord Balarama:
"Our family festival to celebrate the appearance of Lord Balarama was memorable because each of us, from age one to fifty, played a meaningful part in creating it. Several days before Balarama's appearance, which occurs on a full-moon day, we made a list of things to do for Him and posted it on the wall. When someone completed a task, he crossed it off the list. The children made invitations, blew up balloons, painted murals of Lord Balarama, rolled 'Balarama balls' (sweets made mostly of honey), and pinned up 'Welcome' banners. Adults sent the invitations, cleaned the cottage, and sewed a new outfit for our Deities: Jagannatha, Balarama, and Subhadra.
"Friends began arriving the evening before the festival, bearing gifts for Lord Balarama. They erected tents and excitedly settled in, ready for the next day.
"Before worshiping the Deities in the morning, my husband was out picking wild flowers to decorate the altar, and Jnana Dasa and his children were making decorations with colored paper. Nine-year-old Radhanatha Dasa worshiped the Deities, accompanied by singing, dancing, and music from a host of instruments. For class, we took turns telling and acting out stories about Lord Balarama.
"A little later we set out for the woods to play the parts of Balarama and His friends and even some not-so-friendly characters like Pralambha and Dhenuka.
"Throughout the day—whether we were cooking, or playing musical games, or carrying offerings to the altar, or hunting around the garden for hidden cardboard letters to spell Balarama's many names, or wondering how Lord Balarama felt after drinking so much Varuni beverage, or opening and showing the Deities our own small gifts to them, or enjoying the feast of Lord Balarama's prasadam—all of us felt directly involved in creating something special for the Lord and His devotees.
"Probably the highlight was the drama. We split up into four groups of five and gave ourselves twenty minutes so each group could prepare a play of their choice about Lord Balarama. Then, using the simplest of props and costumes, each group performed in turn. Old and new friends, teenagers, and preschoolers all showed levels of humor, imagination, and spontaneity I have rarely seen, and because we shared so much, we felt a growing affection for one another.
"To round off the day we drove to the beach, lit a fire, and sang devotional songs by the light of Lord Balarama's full moon, glistening on the rippling sea."
By Sadaputa Dasa
THE DISTINGUISHED British scientist Michael Polanyi speaks of something he finds "unbelievable." What is that? For three hundred years, he says, writers who contested the idea that life can be explained by physics and chemistry "argued by affirming that living things are not, or not wholly, machinelike." What's wrong with that? Instead, Polanyi says, those writers should have been "pointing out that the mere existence of machinelike functions in living beings proves that life cannot be explained in terms of physics and chemistry." (1)
What does Polanyi mean?
According to the old, traditional belief, living beings are animated by some kind of vital principle we can't fully understand in physical terms. Modern biology textbooks firmly reject that belief, called vitalism. Most modern biologists would say we can fully understand life through physics and chemistry. Today a scientist who goes in for vitalism puts his credibility on the line.
Yet Polanyi says life can't be explained through physics and chemistry. Is he breaking ranks with mainstream science and going heretic? No. It turns out that Polanyi's position fits snugly with the established principles of the physical and biological sciences. What he is doing is showing how to redefine vitalism so it agrees with those principles.
The key to Polanyi's argument is the idea of boundary conditions. Physicists can predict what a piece of matter will do by taking account of two things: boundary conditions and the laws of physics.
For example, suppose we want to predict the trajectory of a cannonball. To do this we need to know the speed of the cannonball as it leaves the gun and the angle at which the barrel is tilting. Then, using Newton's laws of motion, we can calculate the cannonball's path. The important point is this: Unless we know the boundary conditions—the initial speed and the gun-barrel tilt—the laws of physics tell us nothing about what the cannonball will do.
Here's a more complex example. In a computer, what are the boundary conditions? First we have the engineered structure of the computer, including such things as the design of its circuits. Then we have the operating conditions, like how hot the room is and how many volts come from the power supply. Next comes the software. And last there's the information fed into the computer while it's running. And the laws of physics? In this case the relevant ones are the laws of electromagnetism.
The boundary conditions here are highly complex, but when we think of a computer, these boundary conditions are mainly what we think of. For example, a programmer thinks of software, and a computer designer thinks of circuit diagrams. We skip the details of what the laws of physics say the computer is doing.
Even though the computer does obey the laws of physics, its design and software let us think about the computer and yet forget those laws. So on a practical level, we could say that the computer's boundary conditions go beyond—"transcend"—the laws of physics.
Polanyi extends these observations to the bodies of living organisms, which in some ways resemble computers. Living organisms are extremely complex in structure, and their molecules of DNA hold vast information. That structure and that information, we can think, define the living organism's boundary conditions. So Polanyi reasons that, as with the computer, a living system "transcends" the chemical and physical laws that govern the atomic stuff of which it's made. (2)
For Polanyi, to "explain a phenomenon fully in terms of physics and chemistry" means to nail it down with physical and chemical laws plus simple boundary conditions, like those in the example of the cannonball. If the needed boundary conditions get complex, Polanyi says, then what we're studying by definition transcends the laws of physics.
A Compromise that Fails
It may seem at first glance that Polanyi is attributing to life some unique property of transcendence. But in physics and chemistry, solving the vast majority of problems calls for knowledge of complex boundary conditions. So it follows that such problems all transcend chemistry and physics. Indeed, Polanyi says, any chemical compound that has a complex structure and so transmits a lot of information to its neighborhood must in this regard "be irreducible to physics and chemistry." (3)
What it boils down to is this: Most scientists see boundary conditions as part of physics and chemistry, and they see life as fully physical. Polanyi accepts that the physical laws fully govern an organism's material body. But by juggling words and separating complex boundary conditions from physical laws, he has found a way to declare that life is transcendental.
Polanyi has created a compromise between vitalism and physical science by redefining vitalism as a subdivision of the existing physical theories. But this won't work. The old ideas of vitalism posited laws and energies of life that simply have no part in contemporary physics and chemistry. For example, the Bhagavad-gita says that energies called mind, intelligence, and false ego control how living organisms behave. Since these energies have no place in the existing theories of chemistry and physics, it follows that if the Bhagavad-gita is right, Polanyi's understanding of life is wrong.
Exploring the Link at the Boundary
But we can salvage something from Polanyi's ideas. Bhagavad-gita 3.27 indicates that Krsna, the supreme controller, acts in the material world through the agency of material nature. But material nature operates according to His will. This means that in the actual laws of nature there must be boundary conditions that represent the moment-by-moment link between matter and the supreme will. These actual natural laws will conform with the known laws of physics under special conditions. But in general they will extend further to allow for subtle energies (such as mind, intelligence, and false ego). And they will allow for Krsna's personal direction of material affairs. So here's a true challenge to physical science: Can it progress towards learning the details of these higher-order natural laws?
1. Polanyi, Michael, "Life Transcending Physics and Chemistry," Chemical and Engineering News, Aug. 21, 1967, p. 65.
By Urmila Devi Dasi
TWO YEARS OLD, Lalita Madhava sits with all her concentration focused on the book our 14-year-old daughter is showing her. Lalita Madhava's older sister has just graduated from our gurukula school, her mother is at our house to print a letter, and Lalita Madhava is thinking of Krsna's pastimes. "Krsna," she says and points to the picture. She carefully turns the page.
Having spent more than three years teaching a Krsna conscious nursery school, I am privy to a great secret: there is an ocean of sweet spiritual pleasure in the company of very young devotees of Krsna. They know nothing of local, national, or global politics. They hardly know if they are boys or girls. But they do know they love Krsna. In their company one can simply tell stories about the Lord, sing songs to glorify Him, and play games that absorb the mind in His service. A well-run nursery fully engages the mind of the teacher, challenging her intelligence and creativity.
The parents also will be pleased. At home, most mothers have to divide their minds between their children and their household work. So a mother is pleased to see her child in a happy spiritual place with a devotee whose sole duty is to teach the child.
Children who have taken part in a materially and spiritually lively nursery school can look back upon their early childhood with pleasure. Even as teenagers, they can still enjoy singing the simple English, Sanskrit, or Bengali songs about Krsna they learned in nursery. The joy of decorating Krsna's picture with colored beads can broaden into a desire to dress the Deity. A child can grow up feeling that constant engagement in the Lord's service is natural.
So what should children do at a nursery school? Here are some activities for children aged 2 to 5. Although these activities are best suited for a teacher and a group of children, any mother at home could use most of these ideas.
The key to successful activities is keep changing them before the children grow restless and wild. Vary what you do and how long you do it, according to the mood and needs of the children. For example, if many children are restless, spend more time on physically active programs. If most of the children are older, spend more time on things that call for patience. As much as possible, all the children should do the same activity together. When an activity is over, the children should put everything away, and clean the floor and tables if need be. If you don't want to lose everything in your nursery, best to keep the things for separate activities separate.
You can engage the children three ways: in free, loosely supervised play, in all working at once on their own projects, and in all doing the same thing together.
A. Loosely supervised play:
This includes things like playing outdoors on swings and slides, looking at nature books, and playing with blocks and toys. With blocks, children can build temples, altars, and items for spreading Krsna consciousness, such as cars in which they can go to distribute books. With toys the children can play their way into Krsna's pastimes—by cooking for Krsna, taking care of baby Krsna, or acting as cowherd boys frolicking with the cows, frogs, and birds of Vrndavana.
B. All working at once on their own projects:
All together but each on his own, children can work with clay, or play with puzzles, or make garlands, or decorate pictures of Krsna and His devotees.
With clay the children can play at cooking food for Krsna or building things for Krsna. With jigsaw puzzles children can put together Krsna's pastimes.
As for garlands, children can make them from wooden or plastic beads you can get at a hobby or craft store. The children can sit before a picture or Deity of Krsna, and each child can make a nice garland for Him. The children can offer their garlands with the teacher's help, and all the children can see and admire the garlands of the others. Through garlands, also, the children can learn about colors, patterns, and counting.
Children can enjoy decorating pictures of Krsna and His devotees. The pictures can come from old calendars or extra copies of Back to Godhead, or the children can use pictures they have painted or colored themselves. With the teacher's help, the children can adorn the pictures with stars, jewels, glitter, and paper flowers.
C. All doing the same thing:
Together, children can learn simple songs, and they can chant Hare Krsna and dance. The children who are able can take turns leading.
The children can also take turns fanning Krsna and offering Him incense and flowers, as adults do in the ceremony of arati.
Children can also do something else together that is very important in devotional life: take prasadam, food first offered to Krsna. They can learn how to say their prayers, respect prasadam, think of Krsna, and enjoy. And they can learn how to be clean.
Children can also put on plays about Krsna. The teacher gives a child one line to say and one thing to do at a time. Keep things simple and active and the children can do three plays or more without boredom.
You can delight your children with Krsna conscious storytelling. More than just reading a story, you can sing a song about the story, show pictures, and act out the story. There are many tapes of Krsna conscious story songs.
Children enjoy movies showing plays and stories and festivals. But go easy on video during the child's early years. It can hamper a child's natural development. A total of one hour a week is a good limit.
An entire community benefits from the nursery school. It gives mothers more time to help in a local temple or project. And even when there isn't a school, a mother at home will find that an hour or two spent creating a nursery-school atmosphere will make her children so happy she can devote more time to other service.
If we treat our children with care from the very beginning, they'll feel encouraged as souls. They'll give spiritual pleasure to everyone and give hope for the future. And by their behavior and enthusiasm they may sometimes melt the heart of even the most hardened atheist.
Enter the Laboratory
By Vraja Kisora Dasa
Soul is reality,
She said: Two hydrogen and one oxygen atom make water.
He said: Atoms! Give me a break! These little things you can't even see. You put a few together, and out comes water ... You expect me to believe that?
She said: It's a fact. Two hydrogens and one oxygen make water.
He said: I'll believe it when I see it. Prove it to me!
She said: All right.
He said: You're crazy. You can't prove it!
She said: I can prove it to you. Just come into my laboratory and do the experiment. The first step is to look in this ...
He said: Oh yeah. Right. Good one. The laboratory. You want me to go into your laboratory and do your experiment your way—that's brainwashing.
She said: No ... If you'll just take a look in this microscope ...
He said: I'm not gonna do any of your crazy rituals! What are you trying to do, convert me!? You people are nuts. You believe all these crazy things. Two hydrogens and one oxygen make water! Gimme a break!
She said: I can show you if you'll look in this microscope ...
He said: I'll never follow your rules! You can't prove anything to me!
* * *
She said: God exists. If we focus our efforts and devotion on God, our lives will become complete.
He said: God! Gimme a break! This mythological character you can't even see. Worship Him and you'll feel dandy ... You expect me to believe that?
She said: It's a fact. God exists. We become complete through devotion to Him.
He said: Yeah right. I'll believe it when I see it. Prove it to me!
She said: All right.
He said: You're crazy. You can't prove it!
She said: I can prove it to you, just come into the laboratory and do the experiment. The first step is to remove the blindfold of attachment to material ...
He said: Oh yeah. Right. Good one. The laboratory. You want me to come into your laboratory and do your experiment your way—that's brainwashing.
She said: No ... If you'll just begin chanting Hare Krsna ...
He said: I'm not gonna do any of your crazy rituals! What are you trying to do, convert me!? You people are nuts. You believe all these crazy things: God and spiritual worlds and ... Gimme a break! You can't show me God.
She said: I'll show you. Let me just explain ...
He said: Just show me God!
She said: I'm trying to tell you where to look.
He said: I'll never follow your rules! You can't prove anything to me!
Soul is reality,
Vraja Kisora Dasa (formerly Bhakta Vic of 108) joined the Hare Krsna movement about three years ago. He recently received spiritual initiation from Dhanurdhara Swami in Vrndavana, India. He and his band (called 108) are based at ISKCON's temple in Washington, D.C.
How Green Is Your Tractor?
By Hare Krsna Devi Dasi
MANY OF THE IDEAS of the Green movement seem to fit well with Krsna consciousness. The so-called Green Movement (not to be confused with the Green Revolution, which aims to industrialize farms around the world) officially began in Germany in 1983. It quickly spread through Europe and to America. Greens stand for nonviolence, democracy, social responsibility, and ecology (in particular, they want to point you toward a way of life sustainable within your local bioregion). Greens also stress decentralizing—that is, making your politics and economy local. Finally, Greens seek a spiritual orientation to bring human culture into harmony with the earth.
In The Green Alternative: Creating an Ecological Future, Brian Tokar describes "the problem of how we feed ourselves" as "arguably the most vital component of a Green ecological strategy." In a section called "Greening Agriculture—A Place to Begin," I found this:
A huge proportion of our food is now produced at huge, heavily mechanized industrial "farms" under the control of a handful of giant agribusiness firms. Their produce is cheap to grow and cheap to buy, but it is increasingly deficient in basic nutrients. It is often trucked thousands of miles to consumers, both urban and rural. Meanwhile the increasing use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides sacrifices the basic fertility of our soils and spreads poison through our lands and through the food chain.
But I was surprised that Tokar, in his critique of centralized farming, was silent about its basic tool of destruction: the petroleum-powered tractor.
The tractor's role in modern society was foreshadowed in the late Middle Ages, when farmers started replacing draft oxen with European war horses. The horse let farmers work much larger plots of land. Bigger farms, held in fewer hands, could make more money and grow cheaper food. Displaced peasants provided cheap labor for factories. Cheap labor fed with cheap food set the stage for the industrial revolution. And the tractor has pushed things much further.
Srila Prabhupada told us that the tractor helped tear apart the Indian village system. Similarly, agricultural inventor Jean Nolle warns third-world villagers that most of them will lose their land to agribusiness if they let their communities get hooked on the tractor.
The tractor, it seems to me, could serve as an emblem of nearly everything the Greens stand against. I thought, If only Brian Tokar could talk to my friends in North Carolina Balabhadra Dasa and his wife, Chaya Devi Dasi. (They're Krsna conscious ox-power farmers.) He'd learn a lot about what the tractor does to ruin the environment and spoil human life. So, Brian Tokar, please meet Balabhadra and Chaya and let them give you some insights into the role of the modern tractor.
The Petrol-Powered Tractor
by Balabhadra Dasa and Chaya Devi Dasi
IN OUR TRAVELS we meet a lot of ecologically conscious people who seem to take tractor-powered farming for granted. So the first question we ask these folks is, How many mining operations do you need to make a tractor? You need mines for iron, coal, limestone, manganese, nickel, copper, bauxite, tin, zinc, just to name a few. For these minerals you have to rape Mother Earth and create hellish conditions for thousands of workers. And that's just step one.
Next come the smelting plants, where the ores are broken loose and cooked down. Now we're talking big industry—huge factories, more hellish work. And we're getting into large-scale pollution.
From the smelting plants we go to the factory where the parts of the tractor are stamped out. Then another factory, where the tractor is put together. Still more hellish working conditions, still more pollution.
Now the tractor is finally assembled and sitting in the parking lot—without tires. Where do we get the materials for the tires? People used to go to tropical countries and pay workers a few cents to cut rubber trees and bleed them for latex. These days we have steel-belted radials, made from synthetics derived from petroleum.
Speaking of petroleum, now that we have our tractor sitting on its tires in the parking lot, what does it run on? You can't put grass and oats in that tank. You need petroleum, which you might have to fight for. To prove it's yours, you may have to send troops to the Middle East to kill men, women, and children. You might have to sacrifice your son or even your daughter. And if you win, when the man with the Exxon Valdez comes to ship your oil across the ocean he may spill half of it into the sea.
The oil that's left goes to the refinery. If you've ever driven through a refinery town, you know the air smells like a skunk, and the water is so bad that even a skunk would think twice before drinking it.
But now our farmer has his tractor, his steel-belted radials, and his petrol. He fires up the engine and thinks, "With this tractor I can do the work of fifty oxen." He looks at his oxen and says, "I don't need you anymore. I've got my tractor. I've got my petroleum. You can go to the slaughterhouse." When you start killing bulls, you're destined to receive very negative karmic reactions.
Some of the karmic reaction begins right away. For a start, now you've got hapless people working in slaughterhouses, in jobs the U.S. government calls more dangerous and demoralizing than those in factories and mines.
But Mr. Agribusiness doesn't think about that. He thinks, "I don't have to feed those oxen anymore. That profit goes into my pocket." At the cost of their lives.
Then he looks at his teamsters, who used to work those oxen—people who worked in the mode of goodness in the fields, growing grains and vegetables. He says, "I've already killed my oxen. I've got my tractor—I've got no work for you. You're unemployed. Why don't you go work in the factory and make more machines? Or go on welfare."
Then he takes the tractor out to plow his field. Its heavy tires compact the earth, so the roots of his hybrid plants have trouble growing. He no longer has manure to nourish the soil, so he pours on commercial fertilizer, made with huge inputs of natural gas. Because the crops eventually deplete the organic things in the soil that hold moisture, his soil easily washes away into the stream. The weak soil that's left grows weak plants—easy prey for weeds, bugs, and disease. So the farmer brings out his arsenal of pesticides and herbicides. These also wash downstream.
So that's the modern tractor. Does it fit with the values that groups like the Greens want to promote? Not at all. Instead, the tractor plows up the environment, spreads centralization and exploitation, and crushes spiritual life.
What's the alternative? When a cow gives birth, about half the time the calf is a bull. These bulls are Krsna's tractors, produced in the "factory" of the mother's womb. This factory doesn't pollute or create hellish working conditions. And it operates by the laws of nature, which Krsna has arranged.
Krsna's tractor can grow its own fuel—oats and grasses. And with this tractor, even the wastes are useful. Cow manure can be processed to yield methane, a clean-burning fuel. The residue can go into the ground as a first-class fertilizer and soil-builder. No need for by-products from the slaughterhouse to build organic content.
What about working conditions? The relationship between the farmer and the oxen is based on love and trust. When the oxen see the farmer, they expect to be patted and stroked under the neck. In return they like to work, and they work well with an experienced farmer. It's the most satisfying kind of labor anyone could ask for.
When we use Krsna's tractor there's no pollution. And no violence. The farmer works side by side with the bull to grow the best natural foods. This kind of work—inspired by Krsna consciousness—gives the right ground to stand on for any group that wants a greener world.
Balabhadra Dasa and Chaya Devi Dasi are initiated disciples of Srila Prabhupada, whose teachings inspired them to start the International Society for Cow Protection, a nonprofit educational organization with more than five hundred members. They're developing their farm in North Carolina into a self-sufficient farm that runs on ox power. For more information, you can call them at (919) 563-3643.
With Shelter in Reading:
By Ravindra Svarupa Dasa
BY 9.00 P.M. THE CLUB is packed, maybe 500 kids crowding this industrial loft of 150 feet by 40 above an auto parts warehouse. On a stage at the far right four shirtless men, the skin of their elaborately tattooed torsos shining blue and red under the spots, push through towering twin stacks of speakers a driving punk cacophony well into the range of permanent inner-ear destruction. As I pause at the entrance to put in ear plugs, Ekendra Dasa, Shelter's drummer, sees me and offers obeisances. He's dressed for the show in a worn white T-shirt bearing the crudely hand-lettered message "5 DOLLARS: ONE DOZEN ROSES." I recognize it as an off-cast from Muktavandya, who for years sold flowers in Harrisburg to maintain the Gita Nagari farm.
"It's an honest T-shirt," Ekendra says.
"Painfully," I joke (and realize a moment later: saturated with Mukta's devotion and sacrifice). My appreciation for Ekendra's taste in T-shirts increases. One at an earlier show vowed: "WAR ON MAYA."
In the area before the stage—the pit, it's called—a tight crush of kids carry on what looks like a contained riot, complete with occasional flying bodies. Here where I stand in calmer mid-club, boys and girls crowd at round tables, most of them scarfing down huge helpings of Krsna prasadam on paper plates. The boys favor T-shirts (over-sized), baseball caps (usually worn backwards), and full, wide pants, as loose and baggy as, well, dhotis. Everywhere I see the new Shelter T-shirt. On the front Ananta Sesa in full color torches the universe, while the back enjoins: "SELF-REALIZATION—NOT SENSE GRATIFICATION." I envision these shirts filling the halls of American high schools.
Behind the bar to my left I spot Kaulini Devi Dasi from Gita Nagari serving out to ever-famished youth a feast from stainless steel pans: creamed potatoes, carrot halava, apple juice, fried potato crisps, powdered-milk cookies, curd in tomato sauce—all kosher for this grainless Ekadasi-fast day. Next to her stands Bhakta Steve amid a display of books (final score: 3 soft Gitas distributed, 20 Civilization and Transcendences), bead bags (8), japa beads (12), neck beads (40), as well as assorted Shelter T-shirts, records, and tapes. Next to him, Kate sells the new Equal Vision Fanzine & Journal (150 go out); it contains her article, "I was a Teenage Frankenstein or How I was Saved from Political Correctness" and Bhakta Steve's "Animal Life 101: Eating, Sleeping, Mating, and Defending."
As I wait for a plate of prasadam, a kid named Sammy hands me his new red-covered fanzine Trial, with Radha and Krsna on the cover and an interview inside with Vraja Kisora Dasa (formerly Bhakta Vic of 108) and a page explaining "Who is Krishna?" and "What are they [the devotees] trying to do?" The inside back cover displays an ad for Gita Nagari's Adopt-A-Cow program. Sammy has been coming to the Philadelphia temple for about three months. In the mid-club crowd I see devotees from Philadelphia, Baltimore, Potomac, and Gita Nagari. Incredibly, a great deal of preaching is going on, everyone signaling and shouting over the band's din. I see Pete—a senior in a school for problem kids, whose own problems disappeared when he began chanting 16 rounds a day—distributing assorted small books (total: 14). There's Kevin selling his new literary magazine Better Than A 1000: A Collection of Krishna Conscious Writings, and Glenn and Stain (the graffiti artist), who both have poems in it. Mikey Concern flashes me his heavy-metal grin; he's got a Christmas marathon going at Pennsbury High School (final score: 1 hard Gita, 3 soft Gitas; 10 Perfection of Yogas, 5 Renunciation Through Wisdoms).
I find a chair at the end of the bar near the back of the club, which is dominated by a huge "half-pipe"—a skateboard ramp, about eight feet high and twenty wide, shaped like a flattened U. Here virtuosos of the board perpetually rise and fall and rise again, at the apex hanging far out over the lip of the law of gravity. Here they pause impossibly long, pitched up on one axle, before falling back into the pipe, or sweep laterally across the ramp edge, or spin around with the board in the air as if glued to their feet—spinning sometimes forward and sometimes backward, now and then grinding the axle of their board on the edge.
Vraja Kisora joins me, and we try to talk about his study of Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura's Madhurya-kadambini. But the rumbling of the skateboards and the crashing of the band tries conversation. Vraja Kisora goes off to preach. I reinsert my ear plugs and chant on my beads. Once in a while a kid comes up to say hello and ask a question. The perennial favorite: "How do I explain Krsna consciousness to my parents?"
When I first confronted that question twenty some years ago, parents all seemed mysterious and formidable beings, but now the parents are my age or younger, and considerably demystified. We are often familiar to them, too. Brian tells me that the first time his father came into his room and saw Brian's posters and altar, he said: "Oh, you're into Krsna, huh? Well, I was into that once. You'll get over it!" I hope not, Brian says. He feels sorry for his father and mother.
Twenty-five years ago Krsna consciousness first spread in America through a network of youth who were particularly open to its message—"hippies" to the outsiders, "freaks" to the in. Now history's repeating itself, with variations. Here is another youthful social protest movement, originally called "straightedge," that was itself part of the broader movement called "punk" by outsiders, "hardcore" by the in. While the 60s counterculture was ideologically fairly united, the punk counterculture was unified only by rage at established society, and allegiance to a certain style of music. Otherwise, hardcore has ranged from neo-Nazi skinheads on the right to gay-liberation groups on the left. The various parties are given to viciously assailing one another in print through the huge numbers of periodicals called "fanzines" (the heavy, blunt language being part of the hardcore style) and sometimes physically in clubs.
As near as I can find out, the straightedge scene was born in the Washington, D.C., area in the early 80s. Somehow or another, a group of kids formed an allegiance to a credo that vehemently rejected all intoxicants as well as indiscriminate and casual sex. I don't know the immediate impetus for this commitment. They were not driven by any religion. Were they simply rebelling against the practices of their parents—members, after all, of the 60s generation? In any case, a band named Minor Threat announced their credo in a song called "Straightedge," giving the scene its now somewhat dated name. The straightedge kids adopted as their symbol a large black X, frequently drawn on the back of the hand. This was taken from the sign stamped there at club entrances if you're underage and can't be served liquor.
Straightedge died down in D.C., but a tiny following of eight or ten kids sprang up in the New York area. Among them was Ray Cappo, whose band Youth of Today, formed in 1985, revived straightedge (its first song sold 50,000 copies) and added vegetarianism to the creed. Members of two New York hardcore bands, Cro Mags and Antidote, had already become interested in Krsna consciousness, and they got Ray and some friends involved. Now, as Raghunatha Dasa, he heads Shelter
As the headline band, Shelter comes up last, a little after 11:00 P.M.
I go up to the stage—the safest place to watch the show—and take up station on the left, just behind the bass guitarist, Bhakta Chris, and the four-and-a-half-foot-tall speaker he will blast through. The players set up their instruments and start tuning, already rattling the boards. Jake Hain, the club's owner, springs up onto the stage and starts darting about, hooking up and testing mikes. Even Ekendra's drums, just to my right, get miked.
I give Jake a tap on the shoulder. He turns around and grins and puts out his hand. "Haribol! Haribol! Good to see you here! This is going to be a great show!" Jake is a big Shelter fan. He likes their message. "There's a lot who say but don't live it," he tells me after the show. "Shelter's different. They practice what they preach." A 43-year-old sound engineer, Jake has worked a lot with young people. "I saw all the kids after fourteen go another route: we'd lose 'em to drugs." Wanting to help them, he opened the Unisound club four years ago. The club rules: "no drugs, no alcohol, no prejudice." Jake also knocked on 4,000 doors and got elected to the Reading Board of Education, about which he now has many horror stories to tell. When his term expires he's planning to run for city council. But right now he's running around setting up the mikes for Shelter and is clearly up for the occasion. Earlier in the day, Bhakta Jason had answered the Equal Vision phone at the temple. Jake was asking him to bring up some vegetarian cookbooks. He had made up his mind, he said.
Chris says to me, "We're going to have a kirtana before we play—you wanna lead?"
"We better check with Raghunatha." A bunch of us head back stage, where Raghunatha is standing by himself, concentrating, gathering psychic energy for the show. He radiates intensity. After some discussion we decide the kirtana will be in the pit—"just like we did in Europe"—and Ekendra and I will lead together, for volume. "Let's start heavy and stay that way," I say. "Great," says Ekendra. Jake keeps running in and out. Tony is frantically making copies of the set list for the band members, who are disagreeing about whether they're ready to play one of the songs. Jake runs in and pops a cassette into a machine: Prabhupada singing Guruvastakam booms out in the club.
I take the drum; cymbals are distributed; we're ready. Suddenly Jake jumps on stage and grabs a mike. "Before we start," he announces to the crowded pit, "I just want to tell everybody—I want all of you here to know—that Kathy and I have decided we're not gonna eat meat anymore." Wild cheers and applause. "We've been thinking about it, but finally something happened. I was driving behind a truck that was hauling baby pigs to the slaughterhouse in Lancaster. And the pigs were happy! I mean, their pink noses were all sticking out in a row through the slats, and they were just enjoying the air, and they were happy! They didn't know they were going to be slaughtered. They just thought they were going for a nice ride. And that was it! I made up my mind! No more meat!" Cheers again.
Then we're running across the stage and down into the crowded pit—Chris, Porcell, Raghunatha, Norm, Ekendra—all the band members and a host of other devotees—and we rip into the kirtana, Ekendra and I in the middle, everyone else tearing around in a circle. It starts intense and gets more intense. Ten minutes later when it's over, I'm hoarse, my arms ache, and my hands feel like fielder's mitts. I'm too decrepit for this scene, for sure.
We're on stage again, and the pit's packed tight. The rest of the club—the tables, even the half-pipe—looks abandoned. Porcell on lead guitar lays down a gradually building pulse, and then Raghunatha rushes on stage, crouches with his back to the pit, and then spinning around and jumping up, launches into "Quest for Certainty" and launches himself straight out over the heads of the crowd. Raghunatha, the crowd, the band have all erupted simultaneously in an awesome crash of sound and motion. Curled in fetal position and screaming into the mike, Raghunatha is passed along over the heads of the audience and dumped back on stage. He springs back up, leaps into the air, spins around, leaps, spins, and his foot topples Ekendra's drum set. As Jason and Vic scramble to set the drums back up, Ekendra doesn't miss a beat.
The crowd is flooding onto the stage, and one after another fans dive from the stage into the writhing pit and are passed along overhead by many hands. Everyone is leaping, jumping, diving, slamming into one another, and all the while screaming at the top of their lungs. What they are screaming is the lyrics to "Quest for Certainty," right along with Raghunatha. "So many people teach! So many people preach!" everyone is screaming together, "And make a claim to authority! But I've seen their lives! They compromise! So why should they be teaching me!"
Under the raging storm of guitars and drums the words are nearly inaudible, but the words are the point, and everybody has studied them, thought about them, memorized them. What we're seeing here is not an audience being entertained but something more vital and profound—the enactment of a living rite that gathers everyone in, the forging of a bond centered on the ritual affirmation of a message. Everyone's chanting together: "College! Money! Family! Will these things set us free? Make up your mind! Soon you'll be dead! The world's like a dream! It's not what it seems! You think it's solid! But it fades instead!"
The whole thing looks wild and dangerous. The crush, the squeeze, in the pit looks life-threatening. So do the bodies hurtling about, limbs flailing the air. But the beat of the music infuses a kind of order into the melee, making it look like a choreographed riot. The slamming of body into body, the physical roughness of it, itself creates solidarity, the roughhousing typical of activities of male bonding. And indeed the scene is intensely masculine; there are no girls to be seen in the rough and tumble of the pit. It makes me think about what Camille Paglia says about transcendence being normally a male project. The chant builds up: "If there was a place where you didn't lie! Cry! Die! Would you come with me? It's my quest! My quest for certainty!"
The song crashes to a stop. Raghunatha is covered in sweat, and strips off his top layer of shirt. The whole band in fact is soaked. Jake rushes back on stage and starts repairing the damage to mikes and cords. "Hey," Raghunatha says to the cooling-down crowd, "how many people think it's great that Jake's becoming a vegetarian?" Cheers and whistles. Someone shouts from the pit: "How many people believe it?" Jake grabs a mike: "Hey, you know I always keep my word! I've never let anyone down!" More cheers. Raghunatha: "That's true! That's true!"
And then the band and crowd explode into "The News," another anthem for the youth of America: "Been caught up so long! In all of life's hype! I haven't had time to see! That beneath the disguise! The real self lies! Which needs a soul-satisfying activity!" Veins bulge in his neck and forehead as Raghunatha leads the kids through the song. He leans out over the pit, puts the mike before one chanter and then another, as all the young faces, smooth and unmarked, scream out together: "Beneath the smiles, profiles and styles! Lies individuality! No more immense pretense! I'll take down my fence! I want to know the real me! No more acts! I just want some facts! On the soul's real personality!"
Eight more numbers, explosions of intense energy, and the show ends, Raghunatha down to his last shirt, the rhythm-guitar amp out. Two numbers in the set are brand new, from an album still in production—one a version of Sri Caitanya's verse na dhanam na janam na sundarim, the other based on a poem by Bhaktivinoda Thakura. For these, Raghunatha recites the words first, and the crowd in performance is fractionally more subdued, listening. When the album is out, they will study and memorize the words like holy writ, and chant them later in concert.
Jake has videotaped the whole show, and as the exhausted band packs up, and the happy crowd filters out, an instant replay begins on monitors and powerful speakers, opening with the kirtana, as loud as the original. Some people seem settled in to watch the whole thing again.
It's 1:00 A.M. as we drive through the dark Pennsylvania countryside, locked in winter. I find it amazing that such a group of young Americans should be so spontaneously attracted to the regulative principles of Krsna consciousness. The scene born as straightedge is certainly more supportive of the principles than the earlier 60s counterculture, with its glorification of drugs and sex. This group is starting out from a higher platform. How did that happen? Where did they come from?
I've thought about this before, and have always concluded that social or psychological causes remains insufficient. The following explanation has occurred to me: Enough time has now passed since the beginning of our movement for people, probably older people, to have had some exposure to Srila Prabhupada and to Krsna consciousness—to have honored prasadam, chanted in kirtana, rendered some service—and then to have died and again taken birth. And here they are.
Earlier this year Maha-Visnu Swami from England was visiting our Philadelphia temple. Sitting in my office, he was relishing the enthusiasm of these young people. Although he is elderly and Gujarati by birth, the Maharaja was able to appreciate this young American generation fully. Hesitantly, I put forward my hypothesis to him, calling it a "speculation."
He listened and smiled broadly. "Oh, no," he said, "it's not a speculation, not at all. It is the truth! Devotional service is carried over from a previous birth. How else could it have happened? So many attracted from such a young age? It is the only explanation! Srila Prabhupada, you all, have sewn the seeds, and now the harvest is coming up! It is the only explanation!" He had no doubt about it.
Ravindra Svarupa Dasa is ISKCON's Governing Body Commissioner for the United States mid-Atlantic region. He lives at the Philadelphia temple, where he joined ISKCON in 1971. He holds a Ph.D. in religion from Temple University.
ISKCON researchers have compiled evidence supporting
By Michael Cremo (Drutakarma Dasa)
Modern science tells us that anatomically modern man has been around for only about 100,000 years. The Vedic writings say he has been here a lot longer. Now a book from the Bhaktivedanta Institute takes a new look at the scientific evidence. That evidence, says the book, has been fudged.
The authors are Michael Cremo (Drutakarma Dasa) and Richard Thompson (Sadaputa Dasa), both regular contributors to BTG, and Stephen Bernath (Madhavendra Puri Dasa). Their book uncovers a startling picture not only of what the evidence is and what it means but also of how science reached its story.
We present here, in condensed form, the Introduction.
IN 1979, RESEARCHERS at Laetoli, Tanzania, in East Africa discovered footprints in deposits of volcanic ash more than 3.6 million years old. The prints were indistinguishable from those of modern human beings, said Mary Leakey and other scientists. To them this meant only that 3.6 million years ago our human ancestors had remarkably modern feet.
But other scientists disagreed. One such scientist was R. H. Tuttle, a physical anthropologist at the University of Chicago. Fossil bones show, he said, that the known human beings back then—the australopithecines—had feet that were distinctly apelike. So the Laetoli prints don't fit. In the March 1990 issue of Natural History Tuttle confessed, "We are left with somewhat of a mystery."
It seems permissible, therefore, to consider a possibility neither Tuttle nor Leakey mentioned—that creatures with modern human bodies to match their modern human feet lived in East Africa some 3.6 million years ago. Perhaps, as suggested in the illustration on the opposite page, they coexisted with more ape-like creatures.
As intriguing as this possibility may be, current ideas about human evolution forbid it. Knowledgeable persons will warn against suggesting that anatomically modern human beings existed millions of years ago. The evidence of the Laetoli footprints is too slim.
But there is further evidence. Over the past few decades, scientists in Africa have uncovered fossil bones—apparently millions of years old—that look remarkably human.
At Kanapoi, Kenya, in 1965, Bryan Patterson and W. W. Howells found a surprisingly modern humerus (upper arm bone). Scientists judged it more than 4 million years old. Henry M. McHenry and Robert S. Corruccini of the University of California said the Kanapoi humerus was "barely distinguishable" from that of modern man.
Then there is the ER 1481 femur—a thigh-bone found in 1972 in Lake Turkana, Kenya. Scientists normally assign it an age of about 2 million years and say it belonged to the pre-human Homo habilis. But Richard Leakey said the femur matches those of modern humans. And since the femur was found by itself, one cannot rule out the possibility that the rest of the skeleton was also anatomically modern.
In 1913 at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, the German scientist Hans Reck found a complete human skeleton—anatomically modern—in strata more than 1 million years old. The find has inspired decades of controversy.
Here again, some will caution us not to set a few isolated and controversial examples against the overwhelming amount of clear evidence. That evidence shows how modern humans came on the scene: In Africa (and, some say, in other parts of the world) they evolved from more apelike creatures fairly recently—about 100,000 years ago.
But it turns out that the Laetoli footprints, the Kanapoi humerus, and the ER 1481 femur do not exhaust our stock of unusual finds. Over the past eight years, Richard Thompson and I, aided by our researcher Stephen Bernath, have uncovered extensive evidence that calls current theories of how humans got the way they are into question. Some of this evidence, like the Laetoli footprints, is fairly recent. But much of it was reported by scientists in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Without even looking at this older body of evidence, some will assume there must be something wrong with it. Scientists must have properly disposed of it long ago, and for very good reasons. But Richard and I have looked deeply into that possibility. We have found that the quality of the controversial evidence is no better or worse than the supposedly noncontroversial.
Drastic Revision Needed
Before us, one of the last authors to discuss the kind of reports found in Forbidden Archeology was Marcellin Boule. In his book Fossil Men (1957), Boule gave the reports a decidedly negative review. But when we looked into the original reports, we found poor grounds for Boule's extreme skepticism. In Forbidden Archeology, we give primary source material that will let you form your own opinion about the evidence Boule dismissed. We also introduce a great many cases that Boule neglected to mention.
From the evidence we have gathered we conclude, sometimes in language devoid of ritual tentativeness, that the now dominant assumptions about human origins need drastic revision. We also find that a process of "knowledge filtration" has left current scientific workers with a radically thinned-out collection of facts.
We expect that many such workers will take Forbidden Archeology as an invitation to productive discourse on (1) the nature and treatment of evidence about human origins and (2) the conclusions to which that evidence most reasonably leads.
The Knowledge Filter
As we begin Part I of Forbidden Archeology, we survey the history and current state of scientific ideas about human evolution. Mainly we are concerned with a double standard in how evidence is treated.
We identify two main bodies of evidence. The first (A) is controversial evidence that points to the existence of anatomically modern humans in the uncomfortably distant past. The second (B) is evidence that can be taken to support the now dominant view that modern humans evolved, in Africa and perhaps elsewhere, fairly recently, about 100,000 years ago.
After detailed study, we find that if the same standards for judging evidence are applied equally to A and B, we must either accept both A and B or reject them both. If we accept them both, we have evidence placing anatomically modern human beings millions of years in the past, coexisting with more apelike hominids. If we reject them both, we deprive ourselves of the evidential grounds for saying anything at all about human origins and antiquity.
Historically, many scientists once accepted the evidence in category A. But a more influential group of scientists applied standards of evidence more strictly to A than to B. So A was rejected and B preserved. This differing application of standards set up a "knowledge filter" that obscures the real picture of human origins and antiquity.
In the main body of Part I (Chapters 2-6), we look closely at the vast amount of evidence that runs against current ideas on human evolution. We tell in detail how this evidence has been suppressed, ignored, or forgotten, even though it is as good in quality (and quantity) as the evidence for currently accepted views. When we speak of suppression of evidence, we are not referring to a satanic plot by scientific conspirators bent on deceiving the public. Instead, we are talking about an ongoing social process of knowledge filtration. Certain categories of evidence simply disappear.
Crude Human Artifacts
Chapter 2 deals with anomalously old bones and shells showing cut marks and signs of intentional breakage. To this day, scientists regard bones and shells as an important category of evidence, and many archeological sites are valued for this kind of evidence alone.
In the decades after Darwin introduced his theory, many scientists discovered incised and broken animal bones and shells suggesting that tool-using humans or near-humans lived in the Pliocene Era (2 to 5 million years ago), the Miocene (5 to 25 million years ago), and even earlier. In analyzing these cut and broken bones and shells, the discoverers carefully weighed and ruled out alternative explanations—such as geological pressure or the work of animals—before concluding that humans were responsible.
A striking example is a shell with a crude yet recognizably human face carved on its outer surface. The shell was reported by geologist H. Stopes to the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1881. According to standard views, humans capable of the artistry the shell displays did not arrive in Europe until 30,000 or 40,000 years ago. And even in their African homeland they are not supposed to have shown up until some 100,000 years ago. Yet the shell came from the Pliocene Red Crag formation in England, a formation considered more than 2 million years old.
Concerning evidence of the kind reported by Stopes, anthropologist Armand de Quatrefages wrote in his book Hommes Fossiles et Hommes Sauvages (1884): "The objections made to the existence of man in the Pliocene and Miocene seem habitually more related to theoretical considerations than to direct observation."
The most rudimentary stone tools, the eoliths ("dawn stones"), are the subject of Chapter 3. These implements, found in unexpectedly old geological contexts, inspired protracted debate in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. For some, eoliths were not always easily recognizable as tools. Eoliths are not symmetrical implements. Rather, they are natural stone flakes with an edge chipped to make them suitable for a particular task, such as scraping, cutting, or chopping. Often, the working edge bears signs of use.
Critics said eoliths resulted from natural forces, like tumbling in stream beds. But defenders of eoliths countered that natural forces could not have made one-way chipping on just one side of a working edge.
In the late nineteenth century, Benjamin Harrison, an amateur archeologist, found eoliths on the Kent Plateau in southeastern England. Geological evidence suggests that these eoliths were made in the Middle or Late Pliocene, about 2 to 4 million ago. Among the supporters of Harrison's eoliths were Sir John Prestwich, one of England's most eminent geologists; Ray E. Lankester, a director of the British Museum (Natural History); and Alfred Russell Wallace, co-founder with Darwin of the natural-selection theory of evolution.
Although Harrison found most of his eoliths in surface deposits of Pliocene gravel, he also found many below ground level. He also found more advanced stone tools (paleoliths). Again, geological evidence suggests that these were of similar Pliocene antiquity.
In the early part of the twentieth century, J. Reid Moir found eoliths (and more advanced stone tools) in England's Red Crag formation. Moir was a fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute and president of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia. The strata in which he found the tools are dated at 2 to 2.5 million years old. Moir found some of the tools in the detritus beds beneath the Red Crag. This indicates that they could have been made from 2.5 to 55 million years ago.
Moir's finds won support from a most vocal critic of eoliths, Henri Breuil, then regarded as a preeminent authority on stone tools. Another supporter was paleontologist Henry Fairfield Osborn, of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. In 1923, an international commission of scientists journeyed to England to investigate Moir's main discoveries. The commission pronounced them genuine.
But in 1939, A. S. Barnes published an influential paper in which he analyzed the angle of flaking on Moir's eoliths. Barnes claimed his method could tell between human handiwork and flaking from natural causes. On this basis, he dismissed all the eoliths he studied, including Moir's, as products of natural forces. Since then, scientists have used Barnes's method to deny the human manufacture of many other stone tools. But in recent years, stone-tool authorities have disputed Barnes's method and its blanket use. This suggests that the European eoliths need to be looked at again.
Significantly, early stone tools from Africa, such as those from the lower levels of Olduvai Gorge, appear identical to the rejected European eoliths. Yet the scientific community accepts the Olduvai tools without question. Those tools, of course, fall within, and help support, the conventional places and times for human evolution.
But other eoliths of unexpected antiquity run into strong opposition. Here is another example. In the 1950s, at Calico in southern California, Louis Leakey found stone tools in strata dated more than 200,000 years old. According to standard views, humans did not enter such sub-Arctic regions of the New World until about 12,000 years ago. So mainstream scientists responded to Calico predictably: the objects found there were natural products or not really 200,000 years old, they said. But there the strata are, still dated at 200,000 years. And though most of the Calico implements are crude, some, including a beaked graver, are more advanced. They look for all the world like genuine human artifacts.
More Recognizable Tools
In Chapter 4 we look at a category of implements we call "crude paleoliths." In eoliths, chipping is confined to the working edge of a naturally broken stone. But the makers of crude paleoliths deliberately struck flakes from stone cores and then shaped the flakes (and sometimes the cores) into more recognizable tools.
Among the crude paleoliths we look at are the tools found in the late nineteenth century by Carlos Ribeiro, head of the Geological Survey of Portugal. Ribeiro found these tools in Miocene strata, 5 to 25 million years old. At an international conference of archeologists and anthropologists held in Lisbon, a committee of scientists investigated one of the sites where Ribeiro had found these implements. One scientist from the conference then found a stone tool even more advanced than the better of Ribeiro's specimens. It matched accepted Late Pleistocene tools, yet it was firmly embedded in a Miocene conglomerate, in circumstances confirming its Miocene antiquity.
Crude paleoliths were also found in Miocene formations at Thenay, France. S. Laing, an English science writer, noted: "On the whole, the evidence for these Miocene implements seems to be very conclusive, and the objections to them have hardly any other ground than the reluctance to admit the great antiquity of man."
At Aurillac, France, scientists also found crude paleoliths, apparently of Miocene age. And at Boncelles, Belgium, A. Rutot uncovered a large collection of paleoliths in Oligocene strata (25 to 38 million years old).
Implements of Modern Man
In Chapter 5 we examine advanced stone implements found in unexpectedly old geological contexts. Given current estimates of what Homo erectus or Homo habilis could do, the tools discussed in Chapters 3 and 4 could conceivably be their work. But the implements of Chapter 5 are certainly the work of anatomically modern humans.
Florentino Ameghino, a respected Argentine paleontologist, found stone tools, broken mammal bones, a human vertebra, and signs of fire in a Pliocene formation at Monte Hermoso, Argentina, in 1887. He made numerous similar discoveries, attracting the eyes of scientists around the world.
In 1912, Ales Hrdlicka, of the Smithsonian Institution, published a lengthy but not very reasonable attack on Ameghino's work. Hrdlicka asserted that all of Ameghino's finds were from recent Indian settlements.
In response, Carlos Ameghino, Florentino's brother, carried out new investigations at Miramar, south of Buenos Aires. There he found a series of stone implements, including bolas, and signs of fire. A commission of geologists confirmed the position of the implements in the Chapadmalalan formation, which modern geologists say is 3 to 5 million years old. Carlos also found at Miramar a stone arrowhead firmly lodged in the femur of a Pliocene species of Toxodon, an extinct South American mammal.
Ethnographer Eric Boman disputed Carlos Ameghino's finds but also unintentionally helped confirm them. In 1920, Carlos Ameghino's collector, Lorenzo Parodi, found a stone implement in the Pliocene seaside barranca (cliff) at Miramar and left it in place. Boman was one of several scientists Ameghino invited to witness the implement's extraction. After the implement (a bola stone) was photographed and removed, another discovery was made.
"At my direction," wrote Boman, "Parodi continued to attack the barranca with a pick at the same point where the bola stone was discovered, when suddenly and unexpectedly, there appeared a second stone ball.... It is more like a grinding stone than a bola." Boman found yet another implement 200 yards away. Confounded, Boman could only hint in his written report that the implements had been planted by Parodi. While this might conceivably have been true of the first implement, it is hard to explain the other two in this way. In any case, Boman produced no evidence at all that Parodi, a long-time employee of the Buenos Aires Museum of Natural History, had ever behaved fraudulently.
Arrowheads and bolas, the kinds of implements found by Carlos Ameghino at Miramar, are usually considered the work of modern man, Homo sapiens sapiens. The Miramar finds, therefore, taken at face value, show the presence of anatomically modern man in South America over 3 million years ago. Interesting? In 1921 M. A. Vignati discovered in the same Late Pliocene formation the fossil of a jaw fragment, fully human.
If You Can't Bear the Evidence, Kill It
In the early 1950s, Thomas E. Lee of the National Museum of Canada found advanced stone tools in glacial deposits at Sheguiandah, on Manitoulin Island in northern Lake Huron. Geologist John Sanford of Wayne State University proposed that the oldest of these Sheguiandah tools were at least 65,000 years old and might be as much as 125,000. For those adhering to standard views on North American prehistory, such ages were unacceptable.
Thomas E. Lee tells what happened next: "The site's discoverer [Lee] was hounded from his Civil Service position into prolonged unemployment; publication outlets were cut off; the evidence was misrepresented by several prominent authors...; the tons of artifacts vanished into storage bins of the National Museum of Canada; for refusing to fire the discoverer, the Director of the National Museum, who had proposed having a monograph on the site published, was himself fired and driven into exile; official positions of prestige and power were exercised in an effort to gain control over just six Sheguiandah specimens that had not gone under cover; and the site has been turned into a tourist resort.... Sheguiandah would have forced embarrassing admissions that the Brahmins did not know everything. It would have forced the rewriting of almost every book in the business. It had to be killed. It was killed."
In the 1960s, anthropologists uncovered advanced stone tools at Hueyatlaco, Mexico. Geologist Virginia Steen-McIntyre and other members of a team from the U.S. Geological Survey obtained for the site's implement-bearing layers an age of about 250,000 years. This challenges the whole standard picture of human origins. Men capable of making the kind of tools found at Hueyatlaco are not thought to have come into existence until some 100,000 years ago, in Africa.
Virginia Steen-McIntyre had a hard time getting her dating study on Hueyatlaco published. "The problem as I see it is much bigger than Hueyatlaco," she wrote to Estella Leopold, associate editor of Quaternary Research. "It concerns the manipulation of scientific thought through the suppression of 'Enigmatic Data,' data that challenges the prevailing mode of thinking. Hueyatlaco certainly does that! Not being an anthropologist, I didn't realize the full significance of our dates back in 1973, nor how deeply woven into our thought the current theory of human evolution has become. Our work at Hueyatlaco has been rejected by most archaeologists because it contradicts that theory, period."
Such patterns of data suppression have a long history. In 1880, J. D. Whitney, the state geologist of California, published a lengthy review of advanced stone tools found in California gold mines. The implements included spear points and stone mortars and pestles. They were found deep in mine shafts, beneath thick undisturbed layers of lava, in formations that geologists now say are from 9 million to more than 55 million years old. The finds, Whitney wrote, pointed to the existence of human beings in North America in very ancient times.
W. H. Holmes of the Smithsonian Institution, one of the most vocal nineteenth-century critics of the California finds, responded: "Perhaps if Professor Whitney had fully appreciated the story of human evolution as it is understood today, he would have hesitated to announce the conclusions formulated, notwithstanding the imposing array of [supporting] testimony with which he was confronted." In other words, if facts disagree with the favored theory, then those facts, even an imposing array of them, must be discarded.
Skeletons that Cause Problems
In Chapter 6 we review discoveries of anomalously old skeletal remains, anatomically modern human. Perhaps the most interesting case comes from Castenedolo, Italy. There in the 1880s, G. Ragazzoni, a geologist, found fossil bones of several Homo sapiens sapiens in layers of Pliocene sediment 3 to 4 million years old. Critics typically respond that the bones must have been placed into those Pliocene layers by fairly recent human burial. But Ragazzoni, alert to this possibility, had carefully inspected the overlying layers. He had found them undisturbed, with absolutely no sign of burial.
Modern scientists have used radiometric and chemical tests to attach recent ages to the Castenedolo bones and other anomalously old human skeletal remains. But these tests can be quite unreliable. The carbon 14 test is especially shaky when applied to bones (such as those from Castenedolo) that have lain in museums for decades. Such bones are exposed to contamination that could make the test yield abnormally young dates. To remove such contamination requires rigorous purification techniques. Scientists failed to use those techniques when, in 1969, they tested some Castenedolo bones and found an age of less than a thousand years.
Although the carbon 14 date for the Castenedolo material is suspect, it must still be considered relevant evidence. But it should be weighed with the other evidence, including the original stratigraphic observations of Ragazzoni, a professional geologist. In this case, the stratigraphic evidence appears more persuasive.
Opposition on theoretical grounds to a human presence in the Pliocene is not new. Speaking of the Castenedolo finds and others of similar antiquity, the Italian scientist G. Sergi wrote in 1884: "By means of a despotic scientific prejudice, call it what you will, every discovery of human remains in the Pliocene has been discredited."
A good example of such prejudice is provided by R. A. S. Macalister. In 1921, in a textbook on archeology, he wrote: "The acceptance of a Pliocene date for the Castenedolo skeletons would create so many insoluble problems that we can hardly hesitate in choosing between the alternatives of adopting or rejecting their authenticity."
This supports the main point we are making in Forbidden Archeology: the scientific community has a knowledge filter that screens out unwelcome evidence. This process of knowledge filtration has been going on for well over a century, and it continues right up to the present day.
In Part II of Forbidden Archeology, we survey the body of accepted evidence generally used to support the now-dominant ideas about human evolution.
Chapter 7 focuses on the discovery of Pithecanthropus erectus by Eugene Dubois in Java during the last decade of the nineteenth century. Historically, the Java man discovery marks a turning point. Until then, there was no clear picture of human evolution to be upheld and defended. So a good number of scientists, most of them evolutionists, were actively considering the evidence that anatomically modern humans lived in the Pliocene and earlier. But with the discovery of Java man, now classified as Homo erectus, the long-awaited missing link turned up in the Middle Pleistocene, only 800,000 years ago. As Java man won acceptance, the evidence for a human presence in more ancient times slid into disrepute.
This evidence was not conclusively tossed out. Instead, scientists stopped talking and writing about it. It didn't fit with the idea that apelike Java man was a genuine human ancestor.
Interestingly enough, modern researchers have reinterpreted the original Java man fossils. The famous bones reported by Dubois were a skullcap and femur. Though they were found more than 45 feet apart, in a deposit filled with bones of many other species, Dubois said they belonged to the same individual. But in 1973, M. H. Day and T. I. Molleson determined that the femur found by Dubois is different from other Homo erectus femurs and in fact matches anatomically modern human femurs. This led Day and Molleson to propose that the femur was not connected with the Java man skull.
As far as we can see, this means we now have an anatomically modern human femur and a Homo erectus skull in a Middle Pleistocene layer considered 800,000 years old. This gives further evidence that anatomically modern humans coexisted with more apelike creatures in unexpectedly remote times. According to standard views, anatomically modern man arose just 100,000 years ago in Africa. Of course, one can always propose that the modern human femur somehow got buried recently into the Middle Pleistocene beds. But the same could also be said of the skull.
In Chapter 7 we consider the many discoveries of Java Homo erectus reported by G. H. R. von Koenigswald and other researchers. Almost all these bones were surface finds, their true age doubtful. Nevertheless, scientists have assigned them Middle and Early Pleistocene dates obtained by the potassium-argon method. The potassium-argon method is used to date layers of volcanic rock, not bones. Because the Java Homo erectus fossils were found on the surface and not below intact volcanic layers, assigning them potassium-argon dates is misleading.
The Piltdown Hoax
The subject of Chapter 8 is the infamous Piltdown hoax. Early in this century, Charles Dawson, an amateur collector, found pieces of a human skull near Piltdown, England. Scientists such as Sir Arthur Smith Woodward of the British Museum and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin later took part with Dawson in excavations that uncovered an apelike jaw, along with several mammalian fossils of appropriate antiquity. Dawson and Woodward, believing that the humanlike skull and apelike jaw came from a human ancestor in the Early Pleistocene or Late Pliocene, announced their discovery to the scientific world. For the next four decades, Piltdown man was accepted as genuine and was integrated into the human evolutionary lineage.
In the 1950s, J. S. Weiner, K. P. Oakley, and other British scientists exposed Piltdown man as an exceedingly clever hoax, carried out by someone with great scientific expertise. Some blamed Dawson, Teilhard de Chardin, or Sir Arthur Smith Woodward. Others have accused Sir Grafton Eliot Smith, a famous anatomist; William Sollas of the geology department at Cambridge; and Sir Arthur Keith of the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons.
J. S. Weiner himself noted: "Behind it all we sense, therefore, a strong and impelling motive.... There could have been a mad desire to assist the doctrine of human evolution by furnishing the 'requisite' 'missing link.' "
Piltdown shows that in addition to the general process of knowledge filtration in paleoanthropology, there are instances of deliberate fraud.
Finally, there is substantial, though not incontrovertible, evidence that the Piltdown skull, at least, was a genuine fossil. The Piltdown gravels in which it was found are now thought to be 75,000 to 125,000 years old. An anatomically modern human skull of this age in England would be considered anomalous.
Evidence from China
Chapter 9 takes us to China. There in 1929 Davidson Black reported the discovery at Zhoukoudian (formerly Choukoutien) of the Peking man fossils. These specimens of Peking man, now classified as Homo erectus, were lost to science during the Second World War.
In addition to Peking man, many more hominid finds have been made in China. The dating of these hominids is problematic. They occur at sites along with fossils of mammals broadly typical of the Pleistocene. In reading various reports, we noticed that to date these sites more precisely, scientists routinely used the morphology of the human remains.
For example, at Tongzi, South China, Homo sapiens fossils were found with fossils of mammals. Paleontologist Qiu Zhonglang said: "The fauna suggests a Middle-Upper Pleistocene range, but the archeological [i.e., human] evidence is consistent with an Upper Pleistocene age." Therefore, using what we call morphological dating, Qiu assigned the site to the Upper Pleistocene—and the human fossils with it. But our review of the Tongzi faunal evidence shows species of mammals that became extinct thousands of years earlier, at the end of the Middle Pleistocene. This indicates that the Tongzi site, and the human fossils, are at least 100,000 years old. Additional faunal evidence suggests a maximum age of about 600,000 years.
The practice of morphological dating distorts the fossil record. In effect, scientists simply arrange human fossils to fit a favored evolutionary sequence, setting the evidence of other species aside. If one goes by the true probable date ranges for the Chinese hominids, one finds that various grades of Homo erectus and early Homo sapiens may have coexisted with anatomically modern man in the middle Middle Pleistocene, during the time of Peking man.
Extinct Men Still Alive?
In Chapter 10 we consider the possible coexistence of primitive hominids and anatomically modern humans not only in the distant past but in the present. Over the past century, scientists have gathered evidence suggesting that humanlike creatures resembling supposedly extinct ancestral species of man are living in various wilderness areas of the world. In North America these creatures are known as Sasquatch. In Central Asia they are called Almas. In Africa, China, Southeast Asia, Central America, and South America, they are known by other names. Some researchers use the general term "wildmen" to include them all. Scientists and physicians have reported seeing live wildmen, dead wildmen, and footprints. They have also catalogued thousands of reports from historical records and from ordinary people who say they have seen wildmen.
Myra Shackley, a British anthropologist, wrote to us: "Opinions vary, but I guess the commonest would be that there is indeed sufficient evidence to suggest at least the possibility of the existence of various unclassified manlike creatures, but that in the present state of our knowledge it is impossible to comment on their significance in any more detail. The position is further complicated by misquotes, hoaxing, and lunatic fringe activities, but a surprising number of hard-core anthropologists seem to be of the opinion that the matter is very worthwhile investigating."
Chapter 11 takes us to Africa. We describe in detail the cases mentioned in the first part of this introduction (Reck's skeleton, the Laetoli footprints, and so on). These provide evidence for anatomically modern humans in the Early Pleistocene and Late Pliocene.
We also examine the status of Australopithecus. Most anthropologists say Australopithecus was a human ancestor with an apelike head, a humanlike body, and a humanlike bipedal stance and gait. But other researchers make a convincing case for a radically different view of Australopithecus. Physical anthropologist C. E. Oxnard wrote in his book Uniqueness and Diversity in Human Evolution (1975): "Pending further evidence we are left with the vision of intermediately sized animals, at home in the trees, capable of climbing, performing degrees of acrobatics, and perhaps of arm suspension." In a 1975 article in Nature, Oxnard found the australopithecines to be anatomically similar to orangutans and said, "It is rather unlikely that any of the Australopithecines ... can have any direct phylogenetic link with the genus Homo."
Inspired by the Vedic Writings
Some might question why we would put together a book like Forbidden Archeology unless we had some underlying purpose. Indeed, there is one.
Richard Thompson and I are members of the Bhaktivedanta Institute, a branch of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness that studies the relationship between modern science and the world view expressed in the Vedic literature. The institute was founded by our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. He encouraged us to critically examine the prevailing account of human origins and the methods by which it was established.
From the Vedas we derive the idea that the human race is of great antiquity. To conduct research into scientific literature on human antiquity, we put the Vedic idea into the form of a theory that various humanlike and apelike beings have coexisted for a long time.
That our theoretical outlook is derived from the Vedic literature should not disqualify it. Theories can come from many sources—a private inspiration, previous theories, a movie, a suggestion from a friend, and so on. What matters is not a theory's source but its ability to account for observations.
On learning that the material world is not our real home,
By Jayadvaita Swami
WHEN WE HEAR that we live in this material world because we are "fallen souls," it's natural for us to ask, "Where have we fallen from?"
Srila Prabhupada says that as living souls we are all originally Krsna conscious. But what does that mean? Were we all originally with Krsna in the spiritual world? And if so, how could we ever have fallen? In Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna says, "Once you attain to that spiritual world, you never fall." So how then could we have fallen from there to begin with?
Some have tried to work around this problem by suggesting a different idea: We fell not from Krsna's personal abode but from the brahmajyoti, the effulgent light that surrounds it. As stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam, yogis who seek the impersonal aspect of the Supreme may merge into that effulgent light—only to fall back later to the material world. Perhaps, then, we originally fell from the brahmajyoti.
Srila Prabhupada rejected this idea. Those in the brahmajyoti, he wrote, are not Krsna conscious, so they too are fallen. "So there is no question of falling down from a fallen condition. When fall takes place, it means falling down from the non-fallen condition."
Well, then, since we're called "eternally conditioned," eternally illusioned, perhaps we've never really fallen at all—we've just always been down.
That idea, too, Srila Prabhupada rejected. "Eternally conditioned," he explained, simply means that we've been down so long that when we fell is no longer possible to know.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, three generations before Srila Prabhupada in the line of spiritual teachers, put it this way: "Please avoid the misleading question 'When were these jivas [living beings] created and enthralled?' The Mayik time has no existence in spiritual history, because it has its commencement after the enthrallment of jivas, and you cannot, therefore, employ Mayik chronology in matters like these."
"The Relationship is Eternal"
Here, then, is how Srila Prabhupada described our original state and the way we fall and leave it.
"Constitutionally," he said in one letter, "every living entity, even if he is in the Vaikunthaloka [the personal spiritual abode of the Lord], has a chance of falling down. Therefore the living entity is called marginal energy."
"Usually," he explained, "anyone who has developed his relationship with Krsna does not fall down in any circumstance, but because the independence is always there, the soul may fall down from any position or any relationship by misuse of his independence."
In another letter, Srila Prabhupada gave further insights. "We are always with Krsna. Where is Krsna not present?" But "when we forget this fact we are far, far away from Him. In the Isopanisad it is clearly stated, tad dure tad v antike: 'He is very far away, but He is very near as well.' (Isopanisad, Mantra Five). So this forgetfulness is our falldown. It can take place at any moment, and we can counteract this forgetfulness immediately by rising to the platform of Krsna consciousness."
Our relationship with Krsna is never lost, Srila Prabhupada said. "Simply it is forgotten by the influence of maya. So it may be regained or revived by the process of hearing the holy name of Krsna, and then the devotee engages himself in the service of the Lord which is his original or constitutional position. The relationship of the living entity with Krsna is eternal, as both Krsna and the living entity are eternal; the process is one of revival only, nothing new."
In still another letter, Srila Prabhupada restated this in yet another way: "We are all originally situated on the platform of Krsna consciousness in our eternal personal relationship of love of Krsna. But due to forgetfulness we become familiar with the material world, or maya." But when we chant the Hare Krsna mantra sincerely and without offense, our original Krsna consciousness is at once revived. "So naturally everything about Krsna is originally known to us all, and as soon as we begin to associate with the devotees of the Lord and chant His holy name, this memory gradually becomes stronger as we remember our constitutional position of always serving Krsna in different ways."
Our separation from Krsna, Srila Prabhupada taught, is like a dream. We dream, "I am this body," and we dream of happiness in material relationships. This dreaming condition is our non-liberated state. But although this state of dreaming may seem to last for lifetimes, as soon as we become Krsna conscious we awaken, and the dream at once disappears. "After millions and millions of years of keeping oneself away from the lila [pastimes] of the Lord, when one comes to Krsna consciousness this period becomes insignificant, like dreaming."
Don't Figure It Out—Get Out
Ultimately, Srila Prabhupada would stress, puzzling over when we fell or where we fell from won't solve our problem. "The conclusion is that whatever may be our past, let us come to Krsna consciousness and immediately join Krsna."
Again: "One should know he is in conditioned life and try to cure it.... Forgetfulness of Krsna is the disease, so let us keep ourselves always in Krsna consciousness and get out of the disease. That is healthy life."
Still again: "Rather than taking account of how things happened that [we] came here, our best occupation is to get out of the scene by constantly chanting Hare Krsna and being engaged in the transcendental service of Lord Krsna."
The advice is clear enough. But still the intellect hangs on, trying to figure out what can't be figured out. So we delve into books to find out what was taught by other great acaryas (spiritual teachers) of the past. And what do we find? Different teachers—all Krsna conscious—seem to express different views. So then what? We take sides with one view or another, or simply become confused. Our mental circuits start to burn out.
Srila Prabhupada's spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, therefore gave this advice. We should avoid, he said, "vain empirical wranglings," which he called "false and full of specious verbosity." He reminds us, "What the unalloyed devotee of the Supreme Lord says is all true and is independent of any consideration of unwholesome pros and cons."
When such pure devotees disagree, he says, there is "the element of mystery in their verbal controversies." And "those whose judgment is made of mundane stuff" can't "enter into the spirit of the all-loving controversies among pure devotees." Lacking pure devotion, such people "are apt to impute to the devotees their own defects of partisanship and opposing views." Therefore, he counsels, whenever such disputes arise about the pastimes of the Lord, we should remember what was taught by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His associates the Gosvamis, "that the Truth Absolute is ever characterized by spiritual variegatedness that transcends the variegatedness of mundane phenomena; but He is never featureless."
Endless Arguments: Maya's Trick
The Mahabharata tells us that we can't know the truth simply by logic and arguments (tarko 'pratistah). Acintyah khalu ye bhava na tams tarkena yojayet: "There's no use arguing over that which is inconceivable." After all, it's inconceivable.
Sripada B.R. Sridhara Maharaja, one of Srila Prabhupada's Godbrothers, respected for his deep philosophical realization, used to stress the same point, one of his followers told us. Repeatedly asked about where the living beings fell from, Sripada Sridhara Maharaja grew weary of the question. "Why do you always ask about the most difficult thing to understand?" he once responded. "Why not try to understand the most easy thing?" That is: how to become Krsna conscious and go back to Godhead.
Pure devotees of Krsna avoid endless arguments. Such devotees know that such arguments are merely another distraction offered by maya. As stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (6.4.31):
yac-chaktayo vadatam vadinam vai
"Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto the all-pervading Supreme Personality of Godhead, who has unlimited transcendental qualities. Acting from within the cores of the hearts of all philosophers, who propagate various views, He makes them forget their own souls while sometimes agreeing and sometimes disagreeing among themselves. Thus He creates within this material world a situation in which they are unable to come to a conclusion. I offer my obeisances unto Him."
Therefore, the student in transcendental science is best advised to simply accept what has been accepted by his own bona fide Krsna conscious acarya, or spiritual master. As Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says, "It is a great offense to disrespect the acarya and to seek to establish a different doctrine in opposition to him."
The Crow-and-Fruit Philosophy
To illustrate the uselessness of arguing about where the soul fell from, Srila Prabhupada once gave the example of the crow and the fruit of an Indian palm, the tal fruit. On the top of a tree was a nice tal fruit. A crow went there and the fruit fell down. Some learned scholars saw this and began discussing. The fruit fell because the crow shook the limb, one said. No, said another, as the crow was landing the fruit happened to fall. This frightened the crow, so the crow flew away. No, said a third, the fruit was ripe, and the weight of the crow's landing broke the fruit from the branch....
"What is the use of such discussion?" Srila Prabhupada said.
Whether we came from Krsna's pastimes or from some other spiritual source, Srila Prabhupada said, "at the present you are in neither. So the best policy is to develop your Krsna consciousness and go there [to Krsna], never mind what is your origin."
"At the present moment you are in maya's clutches," he wrote, "so our only hope is to become Krsna conscious and go back to home, back to Godhead."
Don't waste time with the crow-and-tal-fruit logic, Srila Prabhupada advised. "Now the fruit is there. Take it and enjoy."
NOTE: The letters from Srila Prabhupada quoted in this article appear at greater length in Srila Prabhupada Siksamrta, Volume Two, pages 1157-1176. The quotations from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura come from his commentary on Sri Brahma-samhita. The quotation from Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura comes from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu—His Life and Precepts.
Jayadvaita Swami is the Editor of Back to Godhead.
HERE'S A Krsna conscious project you might like to support or get involved in.
Vaisnava Institute for Higher Education (VIHE)
Krishna-Balaram Mandir, Vrndavana, India
Bhurijana Dasa, Dhanurdhara Swami, Braja Bihari Dasa
To help devotees fulfill the purpose for which Srila Prabhupada wanted them to visit Sri Vrndavana Dhama: to study his books in the association of senior devotees. Srila Prabhupada once wrote that his dream was for students to stay in Vrndavana, be trained nicely, and be sent to spread Krsna consciousness all over the world.
To give senior devotees a chance to share their expertise.
To give senior devotees a forum in which to develop their teaching skills and scriptural knowledge.
To provide a setting in which spiritual masters can instruct their disciples in Vaisnava literature and practical devotional service.
To establish the VIHE as a university where devotees, while living in Sri Vrndavana Dhama, can get deep and thorough knowledge of Srila Prabhupada's books and develop skills for serving Lord Krsna in arts such as cooking, writing, and playing musical instruments.
The VIHE started in the month of Kartika (October-November) in 1987. Twenty-four students attended the first one-month semester. Since then, at least 750 students have taken part in more than 80 courses. The Institute now offers one-month courses twice a year, during Kartika and in February, before Gaura Purnima, the appearance day of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Each semester combines detailed courses on Srila Prabhupada's books with courses on such topics as teaching, cooking, music, and counseling.
The VIHE also offers the Preacher Training/Bhakti Sastri course, which this year will run from July 15 to December 1. The Preacher Training course prepares students for the Bhakti Sastri degree through courses in Sri isopanisad, Bhagavad-gita As It Is, The Nectar of Instruction, and The Nectar of Devotion. Candidates must favor renunciation, possess brahminical tendencies, and be strict in their spiritual practices.
The VIHE also offers a course in classical Gaudiya Vaisnava music. The two-month course teaches traditional ragas used by spiritual masters in the line of Lord Caitanya. The course instructor, Nand Lal, one of the fore-most authorities in this field, taught for two years at Harvard University.
Finally, the VIHE offers a three-month course to train gurukula teachers.
Shortage of classrooms and living quarters: Students attending VIHE courses often have to stay in asramas outside the Krishna-Balaram temple complex. Because ISKCON's governing body has asked ISKCON Vrndavana to develop educational programs, the VIHE hopes to set up a campus near the Krishna-Balaram temple.
How You Can Help
Come to Vrndavana and attend the VIHE.
Help set up similar seminars around the world.
Once the VIHE's goals for expansion are precisely defined, contribute to building a university in Vrndavana.
The all-attractive beauty of Sri Madana Mohana has won the hearts of the people in this remote desert town.
By Bhakti Vikasa Swami
KAROLI, A SMALL TOWN in the harsh, hilly desert of eastern Rajasthan, is the home of Sri Madana Mohana, the Deity of Krsna worshiped by Srila Sanatana Gosvami, one of the chief disciples of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu (Krsna appearing as His own devotee five hundred years ago). Lord Caitanya sent Sanatana to Vrndavana to find the places of Krsna's pastimes, which had been lost in the nearly fifty centuries since Krsna had appeared and sported there. About 150 years after Sanatana discovered and worshiped Madana Mohana in Vrndavana, the Deity was brought to Karoli. [See "How Madana Mohana Came to Karoli," page 44]
Like the original Madana Mohana temple in Vrndavana, the temple in Karoli is high on a hill and is built of red sandstone. During our visit I could see that much devotion goes into maintaining the temple, which has a big courtyard and three silver doors for the three altars. On the central altar is Madana Mohana, with His chief consort, Radharani, to His left and Lalita Devi, one of Radharani's chief associates, to His right. On the altar to Madana Mohana's right stands Gopalaji (Krsna) with Radha and Lalita. The kings of Karoli worshiped these Deities about a hundred years before Madana Mohana came here.
Many of the residents of Karoli come daily to see their beloved Madana Mohana. The Deities are dressed with special beauty in the evening, when the Lord wears magnificent turbans typical of the Rajasthani people.
The atmosphere of the town is devotional and happy. The people here don't seem to have big material ambitions. They live simply and come to the temple morning and evening to have the blessed audience of Madana Mohana, whose name means "one whose beauty attracts even Cupid"—who attracts everyone else.
As the curtains open to reveal the Deities, Their devotees glorify Them by calling out Their names. The ceremonies of worship take place, and then the water offered to the Deities is thrown toward the audience. An old woman in front of me calls out "Jaya!" ("All glories!") as she captures some of the water in her upraised hand and puts it on her head. After the arati, tulasi leaves from the Lord's garland are distributed. Because more than a hundred people are crowding about, the leaves are given to a few, who then pass them out to everyone else. Most of the regular visitors to the temple are from Karoli, so they know one another, and the mood is like that of a family gathering.
Each day the Deities receive eight food offerings and eight aratis. The priests worship the Deities by following the rituals set by Sanatana Gosvami in his Hari Bhakti Vilasa. At midday the priests offer the Lord fifty-four dishes.
At stalls, pilgrims can buy maha-prasadam, food that has been offered to the Deities. You'll find varieties of sweets, including malpura, kaja, and delicious sweet samosas. Most of the items offered to the Deities are sweet. In the town also, as in Vrndavana, you'll find many sweet shops. It seems the people here like sweets a lot. (I guess this could be due to the scarcity of vegetables—so hard to grow in this rugged terrain.)
You can see in Karoli that the touch of Caitanya Mahaprabhu's movement makes everything joyful and happy. The devotion of the people is quite spontaneous, open-hearted, and hearty. About three hundred people attend the mangala-arati, at 4:30 A.M. During the arati, two priests play gongs while visitors sing or recite prayers. After the mangala-arati, the curtains in front of the Deities remain open for some time while two large groups stand and sing devotional songs—the men in front of Madana Mohana, the women in front of Gopala. After mangala-arati some delicious malpura is handed to a few people, and everyone else mobs them to get a little.
Unlike Vrndavana, Karoli has only one main temple of Krsna. (There's another, much less prominent temple of Gopala.) This seems to unite the people. Even a visitor feels he has become part of a big family.
Karoli is within the greater Vraja-mandala, or the greater Vrndavana area described in scripture. Observing the people of Karoli, I'm reminded of a statement in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta: "The ideal place to execute Krsna consciousness is Vrajabhumi, or Vrndavana, where the people are naturally inclined to love Krsna and Krsna is naturally inclined to love them."
Bhakti Vikasa Swami comes from England but has lived in India for many years. He now teaches Krsna consciousness at the ISKCON center in Vallabh Vidyanagar, Gujarat.
KAROLI IS NOT ON the regular tourist circuit. Usually only people from the town and surrounding areas go there. So getting to Karoli and staying in Karoli are both a little difficult. If you plan to visit, be prepared for plenty of basic living.
A convenient way to get to Karoli is to catch a train that runs from Bombay to Mathura or Delhi. If you get a train that stops at Gangapur City early in the morning, you can visit Karoli and in the afternoon go on to Mathura from Hindal, the next major station north. From the east, you can get to Karoli by taking a train from Mathura to Hindal, about a three-hour journey.
Catch a bus from the train station in Hindal or Gangapur to the Karoli bus stand, at the edge of the city, about two kilometers from the temple. There are no rikshas in Karoli, so you'll have to walk to the temple.
Next to the temple are two dharmashalas, hostels for pilgrims. One has no water; the other has water—and that's about it. I don't recommended them for families or for people who can't tolerate no-frills living. There are other dharmashalas a little farther from the temple, but their facilities are only a little better.
There are no hotels in Karoli, and the only guest house is on the grounds of the king's palace, a two-kilometer walk from the temple.
How Madana Mohana Came to Karoli
SANATANA GOSVAMI knew that Lord Krsna's great-grandson, King Vajranabha, had installed many Deities of Krsna in Vrndavana, including one named Madana Mohana ("the enchanter of Cupid"). Sanatana was eager to find this Deity, and after he had looked for the Deity for a long time without success, his mind was disturbed.
Being a highly advanced devotee of Krsna, Sanatana did not like to sleep. He would chant Hare Krsna day and night. Sometimes he would doze a little while chanting. Once, in a dream, he saw sitting next to him a beautiful effulgent child with a peacock feather on His head and a flute in His hand. The child said, "O Baba, I am staying in the house of Damodara Chobe in Mathura. He calls Me Madanya. Come to his house and meet Me there."
The next day, Sanatana went to the house of Damodara Chobe and asked for alms. When Damodara's wife went away from the door, Sanatana sneaked into the courtyard, and there he saw the Deity. He called out, "I've gotten the Lord of my life," and he wept with great happiness. After receiving alms, he left, intent on getting Madana Mohana from the house.
Krsna appeared to Sanatana and advised him to return to the house of Damodara Chobe and his wife to give medical treatment to their sixth child. "And when they offer you a gift in exchange for your services," the Lord said, "you should accept nothing but Me, Damodara's Deity."
That night, while Damodara was away, his sixth son fell seriously ill. Damodara's wife was anxious for her child, and—for some reason unknown to her—she was also anxious for the Deity. She passed the night without sleep.
In the morning she found Sanatana Gosvami chanting outside her door. Since it was common in those days for saintly persons to know about curing diseases, she happily brought him inside and asked him to help her son. Sanatana agreed, and after a few days of treatment, the boy recovered.
Damodara's wife offered Sanatana a gift. "I only want your Deity," he said.
She was surprised at his request and didn't want to give the Krsna Deity, especially when her husband was away from home. Looking at the old, thin body of Sanatana Gosvami, she thought, "Anyway, he could never lift the Deity."
She said, "All right, if you can carry away the Deity, you can take Him."
Sanatana joyfully lifted the Deity as if He were a small child. Sanatana felt the heavy stone Deity to be almost weightless.
The surprised woman thought, "Oh, now Krsna is going away with the right person to worship Him with full love and devotion."
Sanatana Gosvami brought Madana Mohana to Vrndavana. Sanatana had no temple, however, so he was a little worried about where to keep the Deity. He would ask Madana Mohana, "Where would You like live?" He decided to place Madana Mohana on the bank of the Yamuna River at Praskandana Ghata, on a hill known as Dvadasaditya-tila, near the place where Krsna had subdued the serpent Kaliya.
Sanatana built a small hut on the hill, and after making a throne out of earth, he established Madana Mohana there.
When Damodara Chobe returned home, he was furious at his wife. He rushed to Vrndavana in search of Sanatana. Damodara found Sanatana and demanded, "Give me my Madanya."
Sanatana agreed to give back the Deity on the same condition that he'd been allowed to take Him: "If you can lift Him, you can take Him."
Damodara Chobe tried with all his might, but couldn't lift the Deity even slightly. Then, although he had to leave the Deity, he felt happy knowing that Sanatana must be very dear to the Lord.
Sanatana told him, "Your family can be the priests from generation to generation in the service of Madana Mohana."
Because Sanatana was a mendicant, he couldn't offer opulent food to the Deity. He would get wheat flour by begging and prepare bati—balls of wheat flour and water cooked by setting them next to an open fire. Sanatana was offering them to the Lord without salt.
Madana Mohana suggested to Sanatana in a dream, "I'm a little tired of just taking this bati. Can't you at least give Me some salt?"
"You have already given me my service." Sanatana replied. "Now You want me to get salt. Next You'll want many more things. How can I prepare all these dishes for You? I'm just an old man."
(In explaining this elevated loving exchange between the Lord and His devotee, Srila Prabhupada says that Sanatana was reminding Madana Mohana that as Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu He had ordered Sanatana to write many books and recover the holy places in Vrndavana.)
The next day a ship full of salt ran aground in the Yamuna River near the place where Sanatana was worshiping Madana Mohana. Sanatana advised the owner of the salt to pray to Madana Mohana for help. After the merchant did so, a voice from the sky declared, "Go and see that your ship is again floating."
The merchant made a good profit selling the salt, and in 1580-81 he built a beautiful temple for Madana Mohana.
For more than 150 years Madana Mohana was worshiped in Vrndavana—until Aurangzeb began destroying temples there. In 1748, on the request of King Jai Singh of Jaipur, the Deities of Madana Mohana, Govindadeva, and Gopinatha were brought from Vrndavana to Jaipur for Their safety.
Later, Madana Mohana wanted to return to Vraja (the greater Vrndavana area). So He appeared in a dream to the king of Karoli, Maharaja Gopal Singh (Jai Singh's brother-in-law). "Take Me to Karoli," Madana Mohana ordered. The king had already been desiring to worship Madana Mohana, and after getting the order from the Lord, he became determined to do so. But to take Madana Mohana from Jai Singh wouldn't be easy; Jai Singh was also very much attached to the Deity.
Maharaja Gopal Singh traveled from Karoli to Jaipur and asked Jai Singh to part with Madana Mohana. But Jai Singh was doubtful about Gopal Singh's story. So Jai Singh gave a condition, "You can take Madana Mohana if you can choose Him: I'll put you in a room with the three Deities Govinda, Gopinatha, and Madana Mohana, and you will be blindfolded. If you can tell which Deity is Madana Mohana, you can take Him."
At night, his eyes covered, Gopal Singh was brought to the room where the Deities were kept. He walked straight to Madana Mohana and grasped His lotus feet.
With all honor and affection, King Jai Singh then offered Madana Mohana to Gopala Singh, who brought the Deity to Karoli on an ornate palanquin and installed Him in a temple on a prominent hill in the center of town.
The Result of Worshiping Madana Mohana
GAUDIYA VAISNAVAS, the followers of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, divide the path of progress in spiritual life into three broad categories: sambandha, abhidheya, and prayojana. Sambandha means to reestablish one's relationship with Krsna, abhidheya means to act in that relationship, and prayojana means to attain full realization of that relationship and taste the fruits of love of Godhead.
In the stage of sambandha, Gaudiya Vaisnavas worship Madana Mohana. He helps us reestablish our long-lost and dearly desired relationship with Krsna by drawing our attraction to Him and away from the allurements of this material world. The name "Madana Mohana" means "one who enchants even Cupid." Cupid is the demigod of lust, or material desire, especially sexual desire, which enchants everyone in the material world. To fix up our relationship with Krsna, we must rid ourselves of lust. Madana Mohana helps us overcome our hankering for temporary bodily relationships by enticing us to His own beauty and charm.
Pastimes of Madana Mohana
AS WITH MOST MAJOR temples in India, the temple of Madana Mohana in Karoli has a tradition of stories connected with the Deity. You'll find Madana Mohana's lilas (pastimes) in local guidebooks, and the residents of Karoli know them well. Though the stories are not mentioned in scripture, they form an important part of the culture that surrounds the temple, and are often the basis for practices in the worship of the Deity.
Here are a few of Madana Mohana's lilas:
The Dry Well
When Madana Mohana was being carried from Jaipur to Karoli, He came to a village where the well had been dried up for a year. The villagers prayed to Madana Mohana, and the well started giving water. All the villagers became greatly devoted to Madana Mohana.
The village was in the territory of Rajasthan under Jai Singh. As news of this wonderful event spread, Jai Singh came to know of it, and he offered the area of the village to the service of Madana Mohana.
The Missing Dish
A Moslem devotee named Tazkan regularly came to the Madana Mohana temple to see the Deity, offer Him food, and take prasadam. When some Hindus came to know that a Moslem was going into their temple, they objected, and Tazkan was prohibited from entering. Feeling greatly disappointed, Tazkan stayed at home and stopped eating and drinking. Madana Mohana wasn't very happy with this. So, disguised as a guard, He went to Tazkan's house with a silver dish full of prasadam.
Seeing the "guard," Tazkan told Him "How can I take Madana Mohana's prasadam without first having taken His darsana (audience)?"
Madana Mohana replied, "Please get up, have darsana, and then take the prasadam."
When Tazkan realized that Madana Mohana Himself was standing before him, he asked for pardon. "My Lord, why are You taking so much trouble for me?"
The Lord disappeared, and Tazkan took prasadam.
That night, the chief priest of the temple had a dream in which Madana Mohana told him that Tazkan should be allowed into the temple to have darsana. The chief priest related the dream to other priests.
In the meantime the priest serving the Deity noticed that one of the Deity's silver dishes was missing. After much turmoil over the missing dish, Tazkan came with the dish and said that a guard from the temple had left it at his house. This convinced everyone that Madana Mohana had indeed spoken to the head priest in a dream, and from then on Tazkan was allowed to have darsana of his beloved Madana Mohana.
The Revived Son
A Moslem named Kalakund, a resident of Karoli, would come regularly to see Madana Mohana. In his old age he was blessed with a son, but one day the boy was bitten by a snake. Because no one knew how to treat him, the boy died. The grieving Kalakund brought his son to the door of Madana Mohana's temple and started singing songs in praise of the Lord.
In the meantime, Shri Hari Kishor Goswami, one of the servants of the Deity, felt from within his heart that Madana Mohana was telling him to give caranamrta (water from the Deity's bath) to Kalakund's son. So the Goswami came out of the temple and put caranamrta in the boy's mouth. The boy at once became alive and well.
The Milk Woman
This incident took place about 125 years ago. In the village of Bhugda, in the Karoli district, lived a family of gurjas (cowherds) who supplied milk for the service of Madana Mohana. One of the women of this family used to come to see Madana Mohana and honor His prasadam. Madana Mohana was pleased with her devotional attitude.
One day Madana Mohana went to the village of Bhugda. The gurjari woman was lying on her bed chanting Madana Mohana's name when suddenly she saw Madana Mohana Himself standing before her.
Surprised, she got up and touched His feet. She then spread a simple blue bedsheet on her cot and asked Madana Mohana to sit there. Madana Mohana took off His yellow outer dress, lay down on the cot, and went to sleep while the woman massaged His feet. Then she began fanning Him. But after some time she felt tired, and she also went to sleep.
When Madana Mohana awoke, He thought, "Oh, it's almost time for My mangala-arati. I'd better get back to the temple quickly." Because He was rushing, He took the blue cloth of the gurjari woman and left behind his yellow garment.
When the priests woke Madana Mohana for mangala-arati, they were surprised. "Where is His yellow cloth? Where has He gotten this simple blue cloth? We didn't put Him to sleep like that."
When the gurjari woman came for darsana that morning, she returned the Deity's yellow garment. She told the priests that Madana Mohana had gone to her house and left it there and had taken her blue cloth.
This pastime took place on the Amavasya, the new-moon day. Now on every Amavasya, Madana Mohana wears blue cloth in memory of this event.
Part Four of an overview of the Six Sandarbhas of Srila Jiva Gosvami
By Satya Narayana Dasa and Kundali Dasa
IN THIS BOOK Srila Jiva Gosvami describes the three Paramatma manifestations of the Supreme Lord. Paramatma literally means "the Supersoul," or the supreme controller. The first form of the Paramatma is Maha-Visnu, the Supersoul for the entire material creation. The second is Garbodakasayi Visnu, the Supersoul for each universe. Finally, there is Ksirodakasayi Visnu, who expands into the hearts of all living beings, into every atom, and even between the atoms.
In Bhagavad-gita Krsna says that everything is in Him but He is not in everything. He is not present everywhere in His personal form, or Bhagavan feature, but He is present in His Paramatma feature, and thus He controls everything.
The first Paramatma feature, Maha-Visnu, is the source of the second feature, Garbodakasayi Visnu. Garbodakasayi Visnu is the source of all the other incarnations of God who appear within the material universe.
The third Paramatma feature, Ksirodakasayi Visnu, is the form of the Supreme Lord who accompanies the spirit soul within the heart. This form is mentioned in the Bhagavad-gita, where Lord Krsna says that as the supreme controller (isvara) He resides in the heart of every living being.
These Paramatma forms, or Visnu forms, are superior to Lord Brahma and Lord Siva. As proof, Srila Jiva Gosvami relates the story of Bhrgu Muni, who conducted an experiment to see who was superior—Lord Visnu, Lord Brahma, or Lord Siva. In the end Bhrgu Muni realized that Visnu is superior. Jiva Gosvami says that if Visnu is superior, worship of Visnu is the superior form of worship.
Srila Jiva Gosvami points out that no other deities are eternal nor are their worshipers, for in time both the worshipers and their deities will be destroyed. Lord Visnu, on the other hand, is eternal, and His worshipers attain eternal life. Jiva Gosvami therefore implores that everyone who desires to worship offer worship to Lord Visnu.
Next, Srila Jiva Gosvami examines some scriptural statements that appear to treat the demigods as being equal to Lord Visnu. In one section of Srimad-Bhagavatam, for instance, Lord Brahma prays as if Lord Siva is the Supreme.
Such adoration of the demigods occurs because the demigods, as stated in the Vedas, are part of Lord Visnu, like limbs of His body. As we treat the limbs of our body as one with the whole, some scriptural verses equate the demigods with the Personality of Godhead, Lord Visnu. But we should not make the mistake of thinking the Lord and the demigods one in every respect. The demigods are nondifferent from Lord Visnu only as parts are nondifferent from the whole.
The Conscious Self
After considering the relationship between the demigods and the Supreme Lord, Srila Jiva Gosvami undertakes a long discussion on the living entity (jiva). Virtually anything we want to know about the jivas is explained in this section. Let us touch on a few of the highlights of this discussion.
Although the jiva is atomic in size, it is transcendental, eternal, and conscious. Although never transformed itself, it may move from one body to another.
Impersonalists, says Srila Jiva Gosvami, think that the jiva itself is pure consciousness. Jiva Gosvami differs. He says the jiva is not consciousness but conscious; it possesses consciousness. Therefore, just as one may speak of the sun orb and the sun's light, Srila Jiva Gosvami speaks of two things—the jiva and its quality, consciousness.
To argue that everything is ultimately one, impersonalists need to describe the jiva as pure consciousness—one entity, devoid of qualities. They also define Brahman, the Supreme, the same way—as pure consciousness devoid of qualities. Thus the impersonalists hope to merge the jiva into the Absolute.
But since the scriptures describe the jiva as a spiritual entity that has the quality of consciousness, we have not one entity but two—the jiva and its quality. And so the monism of the impersonalist fails.
Throughout the Sandarbhas, Jiva Gosvami repeatedly refutes various theories of the impersonalists. He understands that impersonalism is most insidious and that any trace of it within the heart of a devotee will cause ruin. This misfortune, he says, can happen even at high levels of devotional service. We are unaware of all the taints of impersonalism we harbor. Therefore, to remove all doubts, he exposes many aspects of impersonalism, from many angles of vision. So we owe a great debt to Srila Jiva Gosvami for protecting us through the Sandarbhas.
In Devotion or in Illusion
Continuing his analysis, Srila Jiva Gosvami says that there are unlimited living entities and they belong to the marginal potency of the Lord (tatastha sakti). These numberless entities are grouped into two classes. Since time immemorial, one class has turned away from the Lord and been situated in ignorance. The other class has eternally been devoted to the Lord and is always situated in knowledge.
The living entities devoted to the Lord are blessed by His internal potency. They are not of the internal potency themselves. Still, they get to serve the Lord and associate with Him directly.
The jivas situated in ignorance (maya) wander in the material world. By illusion they mistake the material body for their self, and its destruction for their death. Thus they repeatedly accept material bodies and repeatedly experience death.
In some places the scriptures say that the jivas come into existence. Though this may seem to imply that the jivas are not eternal, that is not the intent. When the cosmos is annihilated, the illusioned jivas rest unconscious inside Maha-Visnu. When creation begins anew, Lord Maha-Visnu, by His glance, impregnates the material energy with the jivas again. At that time, in a manner of speaking they "come into existence," but they factually existed before.
In Bhagavad-gita (14.3) Krsna says He impregnates material nature with the jivas. He doesn't say He creates the jivas. Indeed, in the second chapter He says the jivas are all eternal; they are never born or created.
Countless jivas, therefore, emanate from the Lord's marginal potency (tatastha sakti). Some of them, averse to surrendering to the Lord, remain in this material world. Others, desiring to serve the Lord's lotus feet, exist in greater glory in the spiritual sky.
The One and the Many
Next, Jiva Gosvami speaks of the Lord's external energy, or maya sakti, the energy that subjects us to illusion. By knowledge in the mode of goodness one gets rid of ignorance, but this knowledge is itself one of maya's potencies. It is still within the sphere of the material world and still a cause of bondage.
One cannot get free from maya without bhakti, devotional service to the Lord. Other methods—yoga, jnana, and so on—can elevate one to the mode of goodness and place one in knowledge, but one cannot cross beyond knowledge to reach transcendence by any means but bhakti.
Turning to the opening and concluding verses of the Bhagavatam, Jiva Gosvami finds in both places the phrase satyam param dhimahi, "We meditate on that Absolute Truth." He says that this phrase signifies that the Absolute Truth is Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, because there can be no meditation on impersonal Brahman. This is confirmed by Krsna Himself in the twelfth chapter of the Gita (kleso 'dhikataras tesam).
Meditation implies a distinction between the meditator and the object of meditation: the object is superior to the meditator. This duality rules out the monistic theory of absolute oneness between God and the living entity.
Again, the word dhimahi is plural, signifying that meditators are many. But the Supreme Absolute is one, so this rules out monism again. And Bhagavan, the object of meditation, cannot be illusory, because the Bhagavatam states that Bhagavan, who is to be known through the Bhagavatam, is the reality (vedyam vastavam atra vastu).
In the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Lord Brahma decries impersonal meditation. Such meditation, he says, is like beating the chaff after the rice has been husked. The only reward one gets for beating empty husks is one's labor. In other words, impersonal meditation is a futile waste of time.
There can be no doubt, therefore, that the Srimad-Bhagavatam propounds as supreme the personal conception of God, not the impersonal one. The impersonal Absolute is only a feature of Bhagavan and is totally dependent on Him.
Why, then, are there statements in scripture that seem to promote the idea of oneness between the Absolute and the living entities? Jiva Gosvami replies that there are two types of transcendentalist—the devotee and the monist—and statements promoting oneness or impersonalism are only to attract those who are attached to the monistic idea.
Jiva Gosvami ends the Paramatma Sandarbha by explaining the purpose of the sacred Gayatri mantra. Next comes Sri Krsna Sandarbha, in which Srila Jiva Gosvami gives many excellent arguments to establish that Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is Krsna.
Are You God?
This conversation between Srila Prabhupada and some guests took place in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 23, 1969.
Srila Prabhupada: By following any guru or any principle, if you actually develop your love of God, then it is nice. Otherwise it is a useless waste of time. That is the test. But as far as I know these yogis say they are themselves God. They say that everyone is God. And then who is dog? So I think their idea is not very congenial. How can everyone be God? Then what is the meaning of God?
Guest 1: I want to love everyone.
Srila Prabhupada: That is bogus. You cannot love everybody. If you love God, then you can love everybody. Because God is everything.
Guest 1: If God is everything, then why don't you love all beings one by one?
Srila Prabhupada: If you love a tree, then you have to pour water on the root—not every leaf. If you want to maintain your body, then you have to supply foodstuff to the stomach. Not to your eyes. Not to your ears. When you get a nice cake, you don't put it here [indicates the ears]. You put it here [indicates the mouth]. Why? That is the process. There are nine holes in your body. Why do you put it in this hole?
Guest 1: Yes, but...
Srila Prabhupada: First of all answer this.
Guest 1: Well, I agree with you, but...
Srila Prabhupada: You have to follow the real process; then you'll get it. That is love.
Guest 1: You have to go to the root, but in the meantime you don't ignore everything else. I mean...
Srila Prabhupada: If you ignore the root and you take the leaf, you simply spoil your time.
Guest 1: No, but what I wanted to say is, Why can't love of God and love of matter go and rise up to...?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, if you love God, you love matter and God. Because matter is the energy of God.
Guest 1: But you said that you will know that a technique is succeeding when your love for God will increase and your love for matter will decrease.
Srila Prabhupada: What is matter? Matter is another manifestation of God's energy. If you love your body, then naturally you love your finger, the part of the body. So God is the supreme whole. Therefore if you love God, then you can understand that you have to love everybody.
Guest 2: What is God?
Srila Prabhupada: What is God? Can you define God?
Guest 2: No. Is God supposed to be the energy or is God supposed to be...
Srila Prabhupada: Energy is God's energy, just as sunshine is the energy of the sun. Just try to understand. The energy—sunshine—and the sun are not different. But if you are satisfied with just the sunshine, it is not the sun.
Guest 2: Are you saying that energy is God? God is energy?
Srila Prabhupada: Energy, being nondifferent from God, is in one sense God. But at the same time energy is not God. Sunshine is the energy of the sun. But if when the sunshine enters your room you think, "The sun has entered my room," that is wrong. But sunshine is not different from the sun.
Guest 2: It would appear that to claim that you can reach eternal bliss just by chanting is too easy.
Srila Prabhupada: That is one process of self-realization. There are different processes of self-realization. For this age, when people are less intelligent, this process is right.
Guest 1: What you are doing by chanting is kind of...
Srila Prabhupada: You chant and you will understand. If you have no child, then how can you understand the labor of producing a child?
Guest 2: But that is like saying that if you haven't ever leaped into a well, you don't know what will happen to you if you leap into a well.
Srila Prabhupada: First of all, you do not know your self. The first sign of ignorance is that you are identifying your self with this body, which you are not. First of all try to understand your self, then you will understand what is God. You do not know your self.
Guest 2: But I am God, right? I am God. You are God too.
Srila Prabhupada: You are dog.
Guest 2: But you are me and I am you. We are both God. Right?
Srila Prabhupada: No, no.
Guest 2: Why not?
Srila Prabhupada: You do not know what is the meaning of God. What do you mean by God? First of all define.
Guest 2: Everything is God.
Srila Prabhupada: If you apply that definition, then you are God. First of all define what is God.
Guest 2: God is everything. God is it.
Srila Prabhupada: That is not the definition. God is not everything.
Guest 2: And it is God. It is all it.
Srila Prabhupada: I say everything is God's energy. Not everything is God.
Guest 2: Not everything is God?
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. The sunshine and the sun are one but at the same time different, simultaneously. You cannot accept the sunshine as the sun. Suppose you are in the sunshine, you cannot say that you are on the sun planet.
The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
Temples across the U.S. and Canada will hold dinners this spring to bring together their congregations, celebrate the successes of ISKCON's first twenty-five years, and kick off Srila Prabhupada's Centennial Celebration in America. The well-known bhajana artist Minu Purushottam will sing at the programs.
The chariots will roll in cities across North America this summer. The Jagannatha Rathayatra—The Festival of the Chariots—will be celebrated in New York, Boston, Toronto, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and other major cities.
The Bhaktivedanta Archives is working to publish a collection of Srila Prabhupada's letters, papers, manuscripts, and other personal documents. The collection will span the years from his householder life until shortly after he started ISKCON, in 1966. Do you have anything suitable to include? Contact Brahmananda Dasa at The Bhaktivedanta Archives, 9701 Venice Blvd. #5, Los Angeles, CA 90034, USA; phone: 310-280-0609; fax: 310-559-0935.
A new series of videotapes presents lectures by Srila Prabhupada, subtitled and blended with photographic portraits. A new video will come out each month. For information on ordering, see page 60.
Mental-health clients in Portland learn how to make their own prasadam meals, with the help of ISKCON devotee Dhira Devi Dasi. Every week, Dhira Dasi comes to a city-run home, called Bridgeview, to teach these people. The government sponsors the program. Dhira Dasi believes that people have a better chance of recovering from drug addiction, abuse, and other problems when Krsna conscious methods are used with other treatment. For more information, contact Dhira Dasi, 2368 N.W. Thurman St., Portland, OR 97210, USA; phone: 503-223-7618.
The City of Detroit recommends that tourists visit the Bhaktivedanta Cultural Center, home of Detroit's Hare Krsna community. A glossy new brochure from the Visitors and Convention Bureau shows the center as one of the area's eight best attractions. The center was once the home of auto baron Lawrence Fisher. Devotees, notes the brochure, "have restored it to its original beauty."
Bhaktivedanta Manor observes its twentieth anniversary this year. The Manor is the Hare Krsna center in the London countryside. George Harrison donated the Manor, and Srila Prabhupada installed the Radha-Krsna Deities, in 1973. ISKCON is still fighting a ban from the local council that would close the Manor to the public from March 1994.
London will celebrate its twenty-fifth annual Jagannatha Chariot Festival this summer. The chariot festival will also be held in several other European cities.
A Hare Krsna restaurant in Manchester has opened its doors in the city center. The restaurant, Govinda's, is run by Keith Jacobs, a member of the local ISKCON congregation. Devotees do the cooking.
Devotees in Paris have established a Hare Krsna cultural center in the middle of the university area. The center is a ten-minute walk from the Sorbonne.
The Athens Hare Krsna center has moved to a new location, near the center of the city.
Devotees in Copenhagen have started a Hare Krsna restaurant. It already attracts about a hundred customers a day.
The Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka inaugurated ISKCON's eighth annual Chariot Festival in January at Bangalore, the capital of the state. The Deputy Chief Minister, Sri S.M. Krishna, praised ISKCON for its contributions to the culture and welfare of Karnataka. During these political times in India, he said, it was reassuring that ISKCON was having a chariot festival that had no political undertones and was truly to glorify the Lord and uplift the people. He then swept the road before the chariot, broke the ceremonial coconut, and offered worship to the Deities. Devotees from four continents attended the festival. Hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets to witness the five-kilometer procession.
Angry Moslems came to attack ISKCON's temple in Dacca during the communal violence in December. But Moslems from the neighborhood came to the devotees' defense. "These people aren't like the others," the local Moslems told the mob. "They give out free food. We respect them, and they respect us. Leave them alone." The mob left to vent their anger elsewhere.
ISKCON Ecuador has acquired a new ten-acre rural parcel about fifty miles from Cuenca. Four families live on the property, where they grow much of their own food and aim for eventual self-sufficiency.
Devotees from Lima bring nutritious prasadam to Juaicam, a poverty-stricken region on the outskirts of the city. Four days a week, about two hundred residents pour out of their makeshift dwellings when they see the devotees' truck arrive. Most of these residents come to the city from villages, seeking work. Some are refugees from countryside areas haunted by terrorists. Devotees have been giving out prasadam in Peru for twelve years.
Padayatra Northern California plans to start another tour in the spring. For more information, contact ISKCON Berkeley.
Padayatra in England will begin again on May 1 and travel for one month around London. In Sweden, Padayatra begins in May, with two bulls from ISKCON's Swedish farm. A Padayatra will take place in the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic in August. One of the world's smallest countries is not to be left out. Luxembourg will host Padayatra for a week in September.
Starting on Srila Prabhupada's disappearance day, October 29, ISKCON's temple in Bhubaneswar held an eighteen-day Padayatra to promote Srila Prabhupada's Centennial—the one-hundredth anniversary of his appearance. The Director General of Police for Orissa, Sri Shyam Sundar Padhi, inaugurated the festival. He spoke of how ISKCON is spreading the holy names of Lord Krsna all over the world. The walking festival was the first of a series aimed at promoting and celebrating the Centennial. In February, hundreds of devotees again took part in ISKCON's annual walking pilgrimage encircling Navadvipa, the birthplace of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Padayatra Japan begins this April, most likely on the island of Shikoku, off the coast. Plans call for the walk to begin along an ancient Buddhist path through eighty-eight pilgrimage sites and temples. Then devotees will walk on a roadway in May through June.
For more information about Padayatra, write to:
62, Sant Nagar (near Nehru Place), New Delhi 110 065 India. Phone: +91 (11) 642-1736. Fax: +91 (11) 647-0742
1111 Grand Avenue, San Diego, CA 92109. Phone: (619) 273-7262
Ekanatha Dasa, c/o Villa Vrndavana, Via Communale degli, Scopeti 108, S. Andrea in Percussina, San Casciano, Val di Pesa (Fl) 5002, Italy
By Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura
Alas, for those who spend their days
The shining bottles charm their eyes
Was man intended to be
Man's glory is in common sense
The flesh is not our own, alas,
Why then this childish play in that
Our life is but a rosy hue
How deep the thought of times to be!
Man's life to him a problem dark,
But then a voice, how deep and soft,
For thee thy Sire on High has kept
O Love! Thy power and spell benign
Enjoyment, sorrow—what but lots
And then, my friends, no more enjoy
But thine to love thy brother man
Forget the past that sleeps and ne'er
But tell me not in reasoning cold
My God who gave us life and all
So push thy onward march, O soul,
Maintain thy post in spirit world
O Saragrahi Vaisnava soul,
There rest my soul from matter free
June 20 marks the anniversary of the passing of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, a great spiritual teacher and the father of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, the spiritual master of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.