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.
What Do You Mean "As It Is"?
IN THE INTRODUCTION to Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Srila Prabhupada writes: "We must accept Bhagavad-gita without interpretation, without deletion, and without our own whimsical participation in the matter."
A reader has asked what Srila Prabhupada means by "without interpretation." After all, the reader says, "I must seek to learn the knowledge of the Gita only from a guru, and this involves some interpretation of the text by the guru for my benefit." And "direct meanings may not apply since the actual circumstances of the Gita do not (necessarily) match those of my daily life."
The idea of "without interpretation" is that the commentator should stick to the straightforward meaning of the text. Where the meaning is clear, the commentator should not obscure it with his own speculations.
But as it is said, nasav rsir yasya matam na bhinnam: "One can't be a philosopher unless he comes up with a different idea." And so we see literally hundreds of English editions of the Gita, nearly every one of them giving a different set of speculative interpretations.
For example, Bhagavad-gita speaks of Kuruksetra and the Pandavas. So one commentator proposes that Kuruksetra symbolizes the human body and that the Pandavas represent the five physical senses.
That, clearly, is an interpretation, not the direct meaning of the text. And the interpretation is needless, because the meaning of "Pandavas" and "Kuruksetra" is already clear. As we learn from Mahabharata, the Pandavas were the five sons of King Pandu. And Kuruksetra is a specific place in the present Indian state of Haryana (I've seen it with my own eyes).
Our reader is right, of course, in saying that the circumstances of the Gita may differ from our own, and so some adjustment is required. But here again, the adjustment should be made without needless twisting of the text. For example, Lord Krsna tells Arjuna, "Think of Me and fight." Assuming you're not a warrior, a reasonable adjustment is that as Arjuna thought of Krsna and performed his duty of fighting, you should think of Krsna and perform whatever your duty happens to be.
In contrast, there's a commentator who tells us that it's not Krsna we have to think of, but something else that Krsna supposedly represents. That is an example of a needless interpretation. It is such interpretations Srila Prabhupada suggests we avoid.
The Gita attracts us because of its reputation as a source of knowledge, as a doorway to "the perennial wisdom," as supreme reality itself, incarnate in sound.
Speculators and innovators who add their own fallible human ideas are just pouring gunk into the waters of immortality.
Recently I had the wonderful experience of reading all of last year's BTGs in one sitting. It is evident that Srila Prabhupada's mission is alive and well. Thank you for your dedication and hard work. I am sure Srila Prabhupada is pleased with all of you.
Good Reasons to Chant
Thank you very much for the editorial about all the good reasons to chant japa. That page was very helpful to me.
Blessings for Ravi
(To our columnist Ravi Gupta:) I am so highly impressed by your article "Dumping Tea" [BTG July/August] that I am compelled, rather inspired, to write to you and convey my blessings and best wishes. May you be blessed by Krsna to be utmost happy and healthy in your life. May you light the beacon for those who have lost their proper direction and tread an evil path. I am sure you are a brilliant son of your brilliant parents and will achieve Everest heights in your career and life.
[The writer is not a relative of the columnist.]
Thank you for the interview with Anuttama Prabhu [BTG May/June]. I was inspired by his dependence on Krsna and his exemplary lifestyle. He's providing a financially and emotionally healthy environment for his family as well as growing and guiding them in Krsna consciousness. In these days when devotees are rightfully confronting many social and economic issues, I welcome more articles showing success stories of inspiring role models. As always, thanks for your wonderful service of bringing us Back to Godhead.
Vijaya Devi Dasi
The Nectar of the Mahabharata
I wanted to thank you for giving us the nectar of Mahabharata as translated by the great transcendental scholar Hridayananda Dasa Goswami. It is very wonderful that after so many translations of this great work, Srila Prabhupada's disciple, strictly following his spiritual master's footsteps, has revealed the real, devotional mood of this scripture, which has been hidden in more mundane versions. Thank you also for your great service in keeping BTG alive, well, and flourishing.
Sripati Devi Dasi
I write in response to recent letters and replies concerning the prevailing taste for popular music by members of the Hare Krsna movement. By endorsing this music, the movement obtains cheap publicity and, unfortunately, a cheap audience. It is therefore populism of the most reprehensible sort. The sankirtana movement of Caitanya Mahaprabhu is not subject to, and does not need, the endorsement of this class of men. By a look at the popular figures within the contemporary music scene, one can understand the nature and purpose of this music. It is clearly not in the mode of goodness; it is a particularly brutal manifestation of the Age of Kali. It is our mission to reject the evils of Western society and lead the conditioned souls away from them, not to entangle people further in the traps and snares of the material world.
In the article "The Glory of India" (Sept./Oct '94, page 47), the names beneath the photos of Jayananda Dasa and Vedavyasa Dasa were switched. We regret the error.
The author of the Vedic literature urges us to taste the best fruit from the Vedic tree of knowledge.
A lecture given in London, August 19, 1971
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam
O expert and thoughtful men, relish Srimad-Bhagavatam, the mature fruit of the desire tree of Vedic literature. It emanated from the lips of Sri Sukadeva Gosvami. Therefore this fruit has become even more tasteful, although its nectarean juice was already relishable for all, including liberated souls.—Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.1.3
The Brahma-samhita tells us that Krsna's planet is made of touchstone. If you touch iron with a touchstone, the iron becomes gold. In the spiritual world there are also houses, trees, cows—and Krsna is there with His associates. These are all described in the Brahma-samhita.
Do not think that we have imagined something artistic and created a Krsna. No. Krsna and His planet are completely supported by Vedic literature, especially the Brahma-samhita. The Brahma-samhita clearly describes Krsna's original place. The world we live in now is also Krsna's place, but because we have forgotten Krsna we accept this place as material.
Just as a king possesses all the places of his country, Krsna possesses all worlds, material and spiritual. Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita,
If one wants peace and happiness, then one must know these three things about Krsna: that Krsna is the enjoyer of everything, the owner of everything, and the friend of everyone.
You can perform yajna, sacrifices, you can perform austerities and penances, but the result you earn by these should be enjoyed by Krsna. That is Krsna consciousness. Everyone is thinking, "I must enjoy. Why others?" That is the materialistic way of thinking. But in the Krsna consciousness movement we are trying to change that consciousness. The Krsna consciousness movement teaches that you may earn as much as you like but the enjoyer should be Krsna, not you. That way of thinking is Krsna consciousness.
The ultimate aim of the karmis, people who work hard day and night, is to satisfy their senses. That's why they work so hard. The Bhagavatam therefore says, nayam deho deha-bhajam nrloke kastan kaman arhate vid-bhujam ye: "We should not work so hard simply for sense gratification, which is available even to the hogs and dogs."
Krsna consciousness means to work for Krsna, not for sense gratification, because the real proprietor is Krsna. To think "I am the proprietor, I am the enjoyer" is illusion.
In the cintamani-dhama, Krsna's abode, everything is there, and there everyone acts for Krsna's pleasure. Here everyone tries to enjoy for himself, so there is competition—man to man, family to family, society to society, nation to nation. But that competition will stop as soon as there is Krsna consciousness, as soon as we think, "We are not the proprietor; Krsna is the proprietor." To think in that way is the basis of peace.
We must also understand that Krsna is everyone's friend. He is situated in everyone's heart as friend. That is stated in the Upanisads. There the body is compared to a tree, and the soul and the Supersoul, or Krsna, are compared to birds in the tree. One bird is eating the fruit of the tree, and the other, the friend, is simply witnessing.
The Supersoul is our supreme friend. He's always trying to get us back home, back to Godhead. Not only does He sit within our hearts, but He descends as Krsna. He comes and canvasses. Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: "Why are you engaged in so many so-called occupations? Simply surrender unto Me."
But we are so engulfed in matter that we cannot take Krsna's advice. Therefore Krsna comes again, as a devotee—Lord Caitanya. Lord Krsna said, "Surrender unto Me." And later Krsna comes as Lord Caitanya, a devotee of Lord Krsna, to show us how to surrender. He comes Himself as the Supreme Lord, He comes as a devotee, He sends His representative—simply to canvass us to come to the cintamani-dhama, the spiritual world, where there are desire trees and touchstones, where there is eternal happiness.
The Vedic literature gives us knowledge of the spiritual world. Veda means "knowledge." Vetti veda vido jnanam: "Anything from which one gets knowledge is called veda." From the Vedas we have to acquire the supreme knowledge. We have so many types of knowledge, but what is the ultimate knowledge? That is called Vedanta. And that ultimate knowledge is knowledge of the Supreme.
We get knowledge by inquiry. We ask, "What is in the newspaper today? What has happened?" The answers to those inquiries are also knowledge. But they are not the ultimate knowledge. The ultimate knowledge is knowledge of Krsna. Therefore Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita, vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah: "By all the Vedas, I am to be known."
People seek knowledge from so-called Vedantists who do not know Krsna. But one who is actually a Vedantist must know Krsna. Some time ago some Vaisnavas gave me the title "Bhaktivedanta." "Bhaktivedanta" means that the ultimate understanding of Vedanta is bhakti, not impersonalism.
Here it is stated, nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam: Srimad-Bhagavatam is the ripe fruit of Vedic knowledge. All the Vedas are summarized in the Vedanta-sutra, and the Bhagavatam is the explanation of the Vedanta-sutra. Therefore in the very beginning of Srimad-Bhagavatam we find this aphorism of the Vedanta-sutra: janmady asya yatah.
The first statement in the Vedanta-sutra is athatho brahma-jijnasa: "Now we have to inquire about Brahman, the Absolute Truth." That inquiry is the business of a human being. In lives other than the human form we have simply passed our time in the matter of bodily necessities: eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. Animals and human beings both have these bodily necessities. Then what is the extra business of the human form of life? If a human being is simply engaged in these four principles of life, then what is the difference between that human being and a dog? There is no difference. A human being is distinguished from the animals by the ability to inquire into the Absolute Truth—athatho brahma-jijnasa. A human being can come to the temple and inquire about Krsna, or the Absolute Truth. That is the difference. The Krsna consciousness movement gives everyone the chance to come and inquire about Brahman. In other words, the whole activity of the Krsna consciousness movement is Vedanta life.
Now, there are different stages of inquiring about the Absolute Truth. That is explained in the Bhagavatam:
vadanti tat tattva-vidas
The Absolute Truth is one, but some accept the Absolute Truth as impersonal Brahman, some accept the Absolute Truth as the localized Paramatma, or Supersoul, and some accept the Absolute Truth as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna or Visnu.
The Krsna consciousness movement is for understanding the Absolute Truth in the ultimate sense. That means to understand the Absolute Truth as the Supreme Person. The Bhagavatam describes the Absolute Truth in the beginning—om namo bhagavate vasudevaya: "I offer my respectful obeisances unto Vasudeva." Vasudeva means Krsna, the son of Vasudeva. Krsna appeared as the son of Vasudeva. Vasudeva also means suddha-sattva, or "pure goodness." Unless one comes to the position of Vasudeva—pure goodness—one cannot under-stand Vasudeva, Krsna.
In the material world there are three statuses: goodness, passion, and ignorance. Ignorance and passion are simply material. The symptoms of ignorance and passion are greed and lust. Above greed and lust is the Vedanta platform, from which one can understand everything clearly. That platform is called goodness. And pure goodness is transcendental to the material platform of goodness.
The material platform of goodness can be contaminated by the other two qualities, namely passion and ignorance. For example, a pure brahmana is on the platform of goodness. He is truthful, tolerant, and full of knowledge, he controls his mind and senses, and so on. These are brahminical qualifications. But sometimes the brahminical qualifications become contaminated by passion and ignorance. Today we see that many people from brahminical families have been contaminated by passion and ignorance.
So material goodness can be attacked by the other two qualities, and a person on the platform of material goodness may fall down. But when you transcend the material platform of goodness and come to the transcendental platform of goodness, you cannot fall down. Sattvam visuddham vasudeva-sabditam. Sattva, existence of pure goodness, is called Vasudeva. In that pure, transcendental platform of goodness you can understand Vasudeva, Krsna. Vasudeva is already within your heart, but you realize His presence by placing yourself on the platform of pure consciousness.
We can come to the platform of pure goodness simply by discussing Srimad-Bhagavatam. Therefore it is said here, nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam: Srimad-Bhagavatam is the mature fruit of Vedic knowledge. And suka-mukhad amrta-drava-samyutam. The Srimad-Bhagavatam was written by Vyasadeva. And it was spoken for the first time by Sukadeva Gosvami, Vyasadeva's son. Vyasadeva wrote the Srimad-Bhagavatam under the instruction of his spiritual master, Narada Muni. And Vyasadeva told his beloved son, Sukadeva Gosvami, "I have written Srimad-Bhagavatam; now you preach it."
That is the duty of the student: The spiritual master writes, and the disciple must preach. And if the student is as pure as the spiritual master, then the student's preaching will be very nice.
There is another explanation of this verse: A fruit ripened in the tree will be very nice, very sweet. If you take an unripe fruit from the tree and keep it at your home, it will also ripen, but it will not be so tasteful. And if a tree-ripened fruit is cut by the beak of a parrot, or suka, the fruit becomes still more tasteful. Similarly, Srimad-Bhagavatam, the ripe fruit of Vedic knowledge, is already very tasteful, but because it has been touched by the lips of Sukadeva Gosvami, it is drava-samyutam—still more tasteful.
Therefore it is recommended, pibata bhagavatam rasam: "Drink the juice of the ripe fruit of the Bhagavatam." When we eat something, we taste its rasa, its juice. Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita, raso 'ham apsu kaunteya: "My dear Kaunteya, Arjuna, I am the taste of water." When we are thirsty we ask for water because the taste in water will immediately quench our thirst.
That which we enjoy in something is also called rasa. Everything we do is to get rasa. A man may work very hard day and night. Why? To maintain his wife and children. There is some flavor in maintaining the family with hard labor. Unless there is some rasa, some taste, a man cannot work so hard day and night. Sometimes we see, therefore, that a person with no family or no family affection does not work so hard. Therefore in the Vedic civilization family life is recommended, because a person without the taste of family affection may become confused and hopeless. So in everything we do there is some rasa. Without that taste one cannot live.
Now, here it is recommended, pibata bhagavatam rasam alayam: "Here is a taste you can enjoy up to the end of your life or up to the point of liberation." Life is meant for getting liberated from our painful material existence. Everyone is trying to get out of the painful situation we are in. That is the struggle for existence. But people do not know that the ultimate goal of life is to be free from all painful activities. That is called liberation. The whole Vedic civilization is based on this point—how to get liberated and enjoy eternal happiness.
ramante yogino 'nante
The word rama comes from ramana, "enjoyment." And Rama is a name for the Supreme Lord, the source of all enjoyment. In the material world people are engaged in ramana in the form of sex, that's all. But if you take shelter of Lord Rama, you will get real happiness.
Ramante yoginah anante. Those who aspire after spiritual perfection are called yogis, or transcendentalists. Today people practice a preliminary yoga system such as hatha-yoga. But they are not perfecting even the beginning practices, what to speak of making further progress.
Bhakti-yogis are engaged in the bhakti-yoga system. What is that bhakti-yoga system? Hearing about Krsna, chanting about Krsna, remembering Krsna, and so on. And Krsna says,
mam ca yo 'vyabhicarena
"One who takes to the bhakti-yoga system without any deviation and who strictly follows the regulative principles at once becomes transcendental to the three material qualities, namely goodness, passion, and ignorance."
To transcend the material qualities is called mukti, liberation. Mukti does not mean getting many heads or many legs. No. Mukti is defined as sva-rupena vyavasthitih—to be situated in one's original constitutional position, or Krsna consciousness.
This verse recommends, pibata bhagavatam rasam alayam. Laya means "to merge." We are now merged into the material world. Although we are the soul, our bodies are material, and we are merged into the material body. But because we are spirit, merging with the body does not give us happiness.
If you are put into the Atlantic Ocean, you will merge with the ocean, but because you are not a living entity of the water, you cannot be happy there. Similarly, you cannot be happy by merging into the material existence. You have to merge into the spiritual existence, in Krsna consciousness. Then you'll be happy. That is the meaning of bhagavatam rasam alayam.
Thank you very much.
By Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami
DEVOTEES SOMETIMES asked Srila Prabhupada if when we go back to the spiritual world we will remember our former lives in the material world. Prabhupada said we would forget them forever. In a purport to Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.33.27), Prabhupada writes:
A great Vaisnava said that he who has no remembrance of his body is not bound to material existence.... When one forgets his bodily existence, his conditional material life is over. This forgetfulness is actually possible when we engage our senses in the transcendental service of the Lord.... Constant remembrance of the Supreme Lord is called samadhi, or trance.
This does not necessarily imply that a devotee forgets he has a head and feet, although in the most advanced stages that may happen. Forgetting the body means forgetting our selfish uses of the body. We were given a body because of our desire for sense gratification. Forgetting the body means forgetting that purpose and becoming completely absorbed in devotional service.
Forgetting the body creates a change in the subtle body. When our forgetfulness is constant, then at the time of death we will remember Krsna alone and not have to take another material body, but will return to Krsna.
Srila Prabhupada illustrated this point one evening during a Krsna book reading in his Los Angeles backyard garden. We were reading about Lord Brahma stealing the boys and calves. Krsna left the boys in Brahma's cave for an entire year. During that year, Krsna expanded Himself into exact replicas of each of the boys and calves and allowed Himself to be loved by all their parents. At the end of the year, Brahma returned the boys and calves, who all thought that Krsna had been gone only for a few moments. They joked with Him, "Oh, You have come back so quickly. Were You anxious that we would eat without You? Don't worry, we haven't eaten yet." Srila Prabhupada commented, "Yes, this is how it will be when we go back to the spiritual world. All of our past births, all the miseries and so-called happiness, will seem like they never happened. We will simply join Krsna's pastimes."
It sounds simple enough, and attractive enough, but here we are in the practicing stage of Krsna consciousness, not forgetting our bodies and not forgetting a lifetime full of material impressions. We also find that those past impressions create obstacles in our attempts to perform devotional service. They actually prevent us from constantly appreciating Krsna's transcendental nature.
For example, our past association with mundane sex prevents us from understanding the spiritual nature of Radha and Krsna. Prabhupada drew the analogy of the cow caught in a barn fire. Even though she escaped, whenever she sees red she links it with the fire and panics. She has been traumatized by the fire. Similarly, after countless births and deaths in the material world, we have become traumatized by our associations here, and they have become obstacles to our full appreciation of Krsna consciousness.
The psychologists' definition of trauma is a painful emotional experience or shock that produces a lasting psychological effect. Often, it is something experienced in childhood. One may not even remember the incident, though it may still be causing irrational fears or unexplained patterns of behavior.
Freud said that if a patient could be brought to the point of remembering the traumatic incident he could be cured. When this theory was presented to Srila Prabhupada, Prabhupada agreed that trauma was possible to cure, but he added, "How can he prevent more trauma, not only in this life but in future lives? So what is the benefit of that cure?"
The first traumatic event is birth. Although a soul in the womb may pray to become Krsna's devotee, the shock of birth overwhelms him with bodily identification. He becomes forgetful of Krsna. Our work as devotees is to reverse this forgetfulness by engaging ourselves in devotional service.
We can learn to forget the myriad subtle material impressions we have accumulated. Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita that He is the source of all knowledge and forgetfulness. It is by His permission that we forget our constitutional position as His servants, and it will be by His mercy that we can forget our bodies and be fully reinstated in remembrance of Him.
We can also help ourselves. The more we engage in Krsna consciousness, the less likely we will be to continue gathering material impressions. Eventually, our Krsna conscious memories will outweigh our material ones. We shouldn't again take up material life and create new impressions to forget, and we shouldn't do anything that will obstruct our spiritual vision. That is how we can help ourselves.
We may never quite forget that we have hands and feet, but when we begin to engage everything we have in Krsna's service, there will be no more trauma. We will no longer be identifying with the material world.
When Srila Prabhupada was in Vrndavana before coming to America, he wrote a poem called "Vrndavana-bhajana." Here are some lines from that poem:
I am sitting alone in Vrndavana-dhama.
I have my wife, sons, daughters, grandsons, everything,
This is misery, but it gives me a laugh. I sit alone and laugh. ...
When the pure devotee remembers a previous life, he is not gripped like the cow—"Fire!" He laughs at his previous life. This is as good as forgetting it. He doesn't identify with that life.
Of course, a devotee repents his past sinful acts, and that repentance is the beginning of his humility. But he is not traumatized by his previous life. His past no longer has power over him. The Bhagavatam describes the experience of one pure devotee, Devahuti:
Having heard ... from her son, Kapiladeva, ... Devahuti began to meditate constantly upon the Visnu form of the Supreme Lord. She did so with serious engagement in devotional service. ... She became situated in knowledge due to realization of the Absolute Truth, her heart became purified, she became fully absorbed in meditation upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and all misgivings due to the modes of material nature disappeared. ... Situated in eternal trance and freed from illusion impelled by the modes of material nature, she forgot her material body, just as one forgets his different bodies in a dream. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.33.24, 25, 27)
The Temple Kitchens Of Lord Jagannatha
By Yamuna Devi
I HAVE STUDIED hundreds of kitchens in the last three decades, many of them exceptional, but none as grand as the kitchens of the Jagannatha Temple in Puri, Orissa. Awesome and gigantic, the Jagannatha Temple kitchens reflect centuries, if not millennia, of tradition. Without electricity or machines, a legion of skilled chefs work under oil lamps over open wood fires. Every day they prepare more than a hundred different dishes and offer them to the central deities—Lord Jagannatha, Subhadra Devi, and Lord Balarama. Further, given only one day's notice the chefs can prepare a full meal for up to ten thousand guests at a sitting.
The Jagannatha Temple kitchens are exemplary in many ways, but three are of special significance: the preservation of ancient cooking standards, the training program for temple priests, and the highly efficient system for distribution of temple prasadam.
About Jagannatha Puri And the Temple
The city of Puri—also called Puri-on-the-Sea, Jagannatha Puri, Nilacala, and Sri Ksetra—is considered equal to Vrndavana and Navadvipa (the birthplace of Lord Caitanya) as a dhama, or sacred Vaisnava holy place. For thousands of years great sages and other exalted persons have traveled to Puri on pilgrimage. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu chose to reside here for the last eighteen years of His life.
In Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila 5.144, purport) Srila Prabhupada gives some information about the temple: "The present temple of Lord Jagannatha was constructed by King Ananga Bhima. Historians say this temple must have been originally constructed at least two thousand years ago. During the time of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1534), the small buildings that now surround the original temple had not been constructed, nor had the high platform in front of the temple."
The priests engaged in service at the Jagannatha Temple are called pandas or panditas and are brahmanas. The attendants of the temple's external affairs are called palas. Pandas, who begin training at age twelve, are the most reliable sources of information about temple procedures and tradition. Much of the information for this column comes from two interviews with a senior temple panda, Sri Kanu Charan Puja Panda Samanth. Since only trained pandas may enter the kitchen compound, we can glimpse the workings there only by hearing from a panda. Sri Samanth spoke about the kitchens with detailed clarity.
Kitchen Arrangement and Equipment
The kitchen compound, located several feet above and to the left of the temple's main gate, the Simha-dvara, or "Lion Gate," covers roughly one acre. The compound includes nine kitchens. Two of them are more than 2,500 square feet each, and seven are slightly smaller. The cutting, chopping, grinding, and so on, are done just in front of the kitchens, in an open area called the agana. (With binoculars you can get a partial bird's-eye view of the agana from atop the Puri Library, just across the street.) Numerous small storage areas make up the rest of the kitchen compound.
The kitchens house an astounding 752 wood-burning clay stoves, called chulas, each about three feet square and four feet high. To accommodate various sizes of pots, small clay knobs, called jhinkas, are judiciously placed at intervals on the stove's surface for support. A circle of five jug-shaped earthen pots rests directly on the stove's surface, kept in place with jhinkas. Three more pots go in the open spaces above the pots to form a second layer, and one more pot goes in the center on top, forming a nine-pot pyramid. In this way all nine pots receive lickings of heat and smoke from the wood fires below.
The new earthen cooking pots are called kudias. Most are jug-shaped (for the nine-pot pyramid), though some are shallow and wide, resembling Spanish paella pans or French saute pans without handles. As the food cooks in these unglazed pots, their thick walls become very hot. The pots provide amazing heat retention. Food stored in them stays piping hot up to four or five hours.
Kitchen Staff and Training
One thousand men work in the kitchen daily. Five hundred attain the status of executive chefs, called swaras, and are the only persons allowed to cook on the stoves. Three hundred "first-string" assistants are called jogunias. They are allowed to enter the kitchens to assist the swaras, but they mainly light fires, fetch water from temple wells, wash and clean the earthen cooking pots, and finally fill the pots with ingredients. The other two hundred assistants, the "second-string," are called tunias. They are not allowed to enter the kitchens but work in front of them in the agana, engaged in such tasks as washing ingredients, cutting vegetables, grating fresh coconut into a powder, and stone-grinding herbs, chilies, ginger, and spice blends.
A special staff of men, called mahaswaras, have the single task of transporting hot clay pots of food from the kitchen to the offering area, called the bhoga mandapa. To lift a pot, the mahaswara knots the end of a damp jute rope and makes a noose around the neck of the pot. He places the pot in a basket and then deftly builds a stack of four or five pots. One basket is then hung at each end of a flexible five-foot bamboo pole. To carry the lot, the mahaswara gingerly lifts the pole at its center and rests it on his shoulder. Now with a silky gait, hips shifting from side to side, he transports eight to ten pots at a time to the offering area—the pots bobbing rhythmically at either end the pole without a drop of food spilled.
All members of the kitchen staff begin training at age twelve, after they've received brahmana initiation and the sacred thread. They serve for life, or until they become too old to perform their duties.
I asked Sri Samanth to state the most important principles in focusing the mind for service to the temple deities.
He replied, "Number one, before beginning to cook one should eat sufficiently and feel no hunger, to enable mental and physical strength to reach a maximum. And number two, while cooking for Lord Jagannatha one should constantly remember His name, fame, pastimes, and qualities in a mood of devotion."
Offerings in the Temple
In the bhoga mandapa area the temple deities are offered food five times a day: Gopala Vallabha Bhoga at about twelve noon; Raja Bhoga at about 2:00 P.M.; Upadi Bhoga, the largest and most varied offering, at about 4:30 or 5:00 P.M.; Madhyama Bhoga at about 7:00 P.M.; and Sayana Bhoga, before the Lord takes rest, at about 11:00 P.M. The timings of the offerings are not rigid; on any given day, the offering times can vary by half an hour or so. The timings may also shift during festivals and according to season.
Offerings fall into two general categories: pakka food—fifty-four varieties of "boiled" dishes, including dals, soups, stews, rice, kiccharis, and vegetables; and sukka food—fifty-six varieties of "dry" food, such as cookies, biscuits, sweetmeats, pastries, and confections. Five kitchens are devoted to pakka dishes and four to sukka dishes.
Ingredients and Recipes
The standard for ingredients has remained constant for two thousand years: ingredients must be local, organic, and native to the area. Widely available "new-world" ingredients such as cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, papaya, cauliflowers, and hot red chilies are not used. But variety is not a problem; locally available are many types of beans, tubers, squashes, melons, leafy greens. Local spices include mace, cumin, fennel, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, mustard seed, and black cumin.
Mahura—Jagannatha Puri Temple Style
I sampled a version of the following recipe right out of an earthen jug. I was not given measurements, only ingredients and procedures. The measurements I have included are only suggestions. Be creative with your own blend of seasonal produce and spices.
Some variety of this dish is made every day in the temple kitchens. The finished texture varies from that of a chunky stew to a broken down "vegetable butter"—almost smooth except for the coconut texture. Serve with rice or char-flecked whole-wheat capatis.
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Combine the spices and coconut in a mortar or blender and grind to a coarse powder.
In a heavy-bottomed pot, layer the ingredients. Begin with some of the ghee or oil, add some of the coconut spice blend, and then add some vegetables. Repeat the layering until all the ingredients are used. Pour water to cover ½ to ¾ of the ingredients. Cook, partially covered, over moderately low heat until the vegetables are tender and the desired texture results. Season with salt and stir in the fresh herb. Offer to Krsna.
The Real Mother Earth
By Hare Krsna Devi Dasi
From the Srimad-Bhagavatam we learn that the earth is controlled by the goddess Bhumi Devi, who sometimes takes on the form of a cow. The Bhagavatam's ancient Sanskrit texts give the history of her dealings with a king named Prthu Maharaja, an incarnation of the Supreme Lord's power to rule. From the history of Prthu we learn how demigods, the controllers of the universe, help us serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead. We also see how they can retaliate against our misuse of the resources they generously provide. In particular, Mother Earth (Bhumi) can subdue our rebellion against God's laws by responding with famine and environmental disaster.
WHEN THE divinely empowered Prthu Maharaja ascended to the throne with his wife, Queen Arci, an incarnation of the goddess of fortune, they were honored not only by ordinary citizens but also by the demigods. The Fourth Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam describes the wonderful gifts the demigods presented to Prthu Maharaja:
Lord Brahma, whom the Supreme Lord appoints to preside over the universe, gave King Prthu a protective garment made of spiritual knowledge. Lord Brahma's wife, Sarasvati, the goddess of learning, offered Prthu a transcendental necklace. Lord Siva, who is in charge of ultimately destroying the universe, presented Prthu Maharaja a sword within a sheath marked with ten moons. And Siva's wife, Durga, the goddess of the material energy, gave Prthu a shield marked with one hundred moons.
Varuna, the lord of the oceans, presented an umbrella, as brilliant as the moon, that constantly sprayed fine particles of water. Agnideva, the demigod of fire, gave Prthu Maharaja a bow made of the horns of goats and cows, and the sun-god gave him arrows as brilliant as sunshine. Our own Mother Earth, Bhumi Devi, gave Prthu Maharaja mystic slippers that could carry him instantly wherever he desired. Thus all the demigods honored the reign of King Prthu and Queen Arci, and the relationship be-tween Mother Earth and Prthu Maharaja seemed to start out well.
Being an incarnation of the Lord's ruling potency, Prthu Maharaja was an ideal leader. Today we can hardly imagine his qualities. He was pious, equitable, and magnanimous, and his citizens loved him. Prthu was like the ideal well-wishing father, his beautiful face always smiling with affectionate glances, enhancing the peaceful life of the citizens.
But although Prthu Maharaja was kind and equitable, he formidably chastised criminals who tried to intimidate his citizens. His popularity came from his expert management of his kingdom, not from simply smiling and speaking platitudes. He satisfied everyone by his practical deeds, and his citizens were thankful to have a ruler both kind and qualified.
So it seems that life in Prthu's kingdom should have been completely happy. But soon after Prthu was installed on the throne, citizens came before him to complain of a scarcity of grains. The people had become so emaciated they were on the verge of starvation. "Although we are willing to work," the citizens said, "we are unemployed and hungry. You alone can give us work. Please arrange for the proper distribution of food grains and save us from starving to death."
Prthu analyzed the crisis and determined its cause: Mother Earth, Bhumi Devi, was withholding grains.
As an incarnation of the Lord, Prthu was ready to use his immense potencies to save the citizens. He took up his transcendental bow and arrows and threatened to kill the personified Earth. Frightened, she transformed herself into a cow and ran for her life.
As Maharaja Prthu angrily chased her, she ran here and there in outer space and between the heavenly planets and the earth. But wherever she ran, Prthu Maharaja chased her. At last, fearful and exhausted, she fell to the ground, pleading for mercy.
"Please save me. You are the king of the planet and the protector of all living entities. You are supposed to be the maintainer of religious principles. Why are you so angry with me that you are ready to kill me, a woman?"
Bhumi Devi's bewilderment at Prthu's hostility is understandable. Many modern rulers sexually harass women or treat them with disdain, but Prthu's treatment of women was exemplary. He treated his queen as half his body, and he respected other women as if each were his own mother. How then could he now be threatening to kill Mother Earth, especially when she had taken the form of a cow?
Mother Earth continued, "King Prthu, I am just like a strong boat. Everything in the world stands upon me. If you break me to pieces, how can you protect yourself and your subjects from drowning?"
Today's leaders, who sometimes seem willing to sacrifice everything for economic development, should ask the same question: If in their greed they destroy the earth, how can they save themselves and their citizens from destruction?
(Prthu, of course, as a partial incarnation of the Lord, had potencies far beyond those of today's leaders. And he was not acting out of greed, as we shall see.)
Prthu replied, "Goddess Bhumi, you are trying to cheat us by disobeying my orders. In the form of a demigod you accepted your share of the sacrifice we performed, but in return you have not produced enough grain.
"Although you eat green grass every day, you do not fill your udder with milk for us. Since you are treating my citizens so callously, merely having assumed the form of a cow does not exempt you from punishment. In spite of my orders, you withhold the seeds of herbs and grains. Therefore, I shall cut you to pieces with my arrows. I shall feed your flesh to the starving people and satisfy the crying citizens of my kingdom!"
Srila Prabhupada explains Prthu's threat: In the rare circumstance when there is no supply of grain, the government can arrange for the eating of cow flesh, using dried-up cows to feed the hungry masses of people. Krsna consciousness is not a fanatical philosophy. In an emergency, qualified authorities can do what's needed.
But Prabhupada stresses that such an emergency is extremely rare. Most often, supposed emergencies are created by our own mismanagement. For example, recently even when thousands of people in Ethiopia were starving, Ethiopia was still exporting thousands of tons of grain to fatten animals abroad for slaughter. Today we misuse grain to fatten beef cows, and we slaughter dairy cows when they're still giving enough milk to feed at least twenty people a day. We do these things for money, not for emergency. This kind of killing cannot be condoned.
Prabhupada notes that Mother Earth gives so much grain that it's sometimes dumped into the sea. "Consequently, in some places there is scarcity of grain and in others profuse production." Our problems come because of mismanagement, not because the earth is failing to give enough to feed her children.
After threatening Mother Earth, Maharaja Prthu told her, "Any cruel person—man or woman—who is interested only in his or her maintenance and has no compassion for other living entities may be killed by the king. Such killing can never be considered actual killing. Your duty is to provide food for all living entities. And even though you are quite capable of feeding everyone, you heartlessly allow the living entities to starve.
"You have become so insane with pride that you claim you are indispensable to the survival of my citizens. You are mistaken—I shall cut you into small pieces like grain, and I shall uphold the entire population by my mystic powers."
Next issue, we'll see how Mother Earth and Prthu Maharaja became reconciled when she explained why she was withholding grain and what Prthu Maharaja could do about it.
Crack in the Universe
By Urmila Devi Dasi
THE NINETEENTH-CENTURY founder of Sunday school in America, H. Clay Trumbull, remembers calling to his father before falling asleep at night.
"Are you there, Papa?"
"Yes, my child, I am here."
"You'll take care of me tonight, Papa, won't you?"
"Yes, I'll take care of you, my child."
In Hints on Child Training, Trumbull writes,
A little matter that was to the loving father; but it was a great matter to the sensitive son. It helped to shape the son's life ... and it opened up the way for his clearer understanding of his dependence on the loving watchfulness of the All-Father. And to this day when that son, himself a father and a grandfather, lies down to sleep at night, he is accustomed, out of the memories of that lesson of long ago, to look up through the shadows of his earthly sleeping place into the far-off light of his Father's presence and to call out, in the same spirit of childlike trust and helplessness as so long ago, 'Father, you'll take care of me tonight; won't you?'
We doubt that Trumbull, in 1890 when he wrote these words, would have imagined that today up to half of the children in the West have no fathers to call to. Likewise, when Srila Prabhupada taught us to call out to Krsna as a child calls for the mother, did he imagine a society where the mother is not to be found?
Srila Prabhupada knew where society was headed. So he sometimes spoke of today's society of broken homes. He knew that when divorce or illegitimacy cracks apart a child's universe, the child has difficulty coming to civilized life, what to speak of transcendental life.
How can we raise children so that when they grow up they'll stay out of the modern culture of divorce, remarriage, and illegitimacy? Let's look at some of the causes for broken families and then consider how to help our children pull through.
First we note that modern Western culture fails to teach boys responsibility. Young men commonly have casual sex with as many women as possible, get some of them pregnant, and then deny being the fathers. And men who have divorced their wives are more likely to make car payments than payments for child support.
"There are few qualified husbands," Prabhupada explained, "because you [in the West] do not train the boys to be qualified. You are training them to become debauchees. If you train them as brahmacaris [celibate students], then they'll be responsible husbands. Both the girls and the boys should be trained. Then they'll be responsible husband and wife and live peacefully. But if in their young days you give them freedom, they'll be misguided and spoiled." (Paris, August 3, 1976)
The brahmacari training Prabhupada wanted us to give our sons involves physical austerity, obeying the teacher and spiritual master, and in general bringing every thought, word, and action into harmony with the desire of Lord Krsna. Brahmacari life is invaluable between the ages of ten and sixteen, when the boy should study philosophy and live under a regimen strict yet kind.
Besides irresponsibility, another cause of divorce and unwanted children is the notion that sex is meant for having pleasure, not babies. Our children pick up that outlook by association, especially as they enter adolescence. The media are culprits in shaping promiscuous behavior, but no less at fault is the school where in the name of "sex education" children are taught to care for their bodily gratification above all else. Our children may also suffer from bad association with peers who ridicule them for having old-fashioned morals.
Finally, our children get a powerful message from how parents and teachers discuss sex and how we direct sexual energy in our own lives. Our children need to hear that sex is sacred, because it's meant only for the service of Krsna.
Without that spiritual understanding, it's easy to see marriage as a plaything. So our children must learn, as Srila Prabhupada writes in Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.14.20), that "marriage is actually a duty performed in mutual cooperation as directed in the authorized scriptures for spiritual advancement."
People today may cringe at the idea of training children to see marriage as a duty. But duty, Prabhupada writes, brings the ideal of married life—a reciprocation of service and love. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.23.1, purport) Such dutiful nuptial love will increase with time, as shown in the lives of many couples in Vedic literature.
We train our children to love duty by brahmacarya and by our own example. Do we do what is right even when it means a personal sacrifice, or do we bend the rules to suit ways of living that are selfish and temporary?
Bad examples contribute to the breakup of families. Modern leaders openly chat about their adultery. "Heroes" of the West, and increasingly of the East, are well-known for strings of marriages and divorces.
Yet we parents, teachers, and adult friends can be just as influential as any "hero" when shaping our children's behavior. Some communities set a good example. But divorce is spreading even among those who by culture, training, or education should know better.
To be good company for our children, we need to avoid bad company. So when we find that our own example falls short of what we want to teach, we should take a long honest look at whether keeping company with materialists is edging us into acting against Krsna's desires and against our real self-interest.
But there's still more we need to take into account. Srila Prabhupada has pointed out that another cause of divorce is lack of care in choosing partners for marriage. One way to help our children choose a suitable husband or wife is by getting rid of the dating system. Girls shouldn't have to turn themselves into merchandise and sell themselves through free samples. Rather, using astrological comparison and careful scrutiny, parents should introduce their child to a prospective match. Of course, the wishes of the girl and boy must be taken into account; we should not force our choice on our children.
Does a compatible match mean there won't be disagreements? Of course not. So to train children for lifelong marriage we must train them to tolerate the inevitable storms that arise between husband and wife. Our children should learn to tolerate by understanding that whatever happens to them is the Lord's will and that apparent troubles are sent by destiny. That doesn't mean, however, that we should condone abuse. Extreme problems call for involvement by the extended family or community.
But when ordinary difficulties come up in a marriage, our children should naturally think, "Krsna is trying to teach me something through my husband or wife. And if this lesson is painful, then I know that the pain is a reaction to my own previous acts. I can't change that by changing partners. My karma will still come."
Finally, our children need to know the consequences divorce and illegitimacy can have on their own children. Illegitimate children and those from broken homes have higher rates of poverty, school dropout, psychological troubles, and behavioral problems. They're more prone to illicit sexual activity, and use of drugs and alcohol. Is that what our children will want for their own children?
When our children understand the consequences for their own children (and for society), they can become more sober about sticking to the duties of marriage, even at those inevitable times when their own happiness may seem to be in a lull.
Our modern world is full of the cracked, broken homes of divorce and illegitimacy. Let us give our children an inheritance of rectitude, fidelity, and duty.
Bhakti-yoga at Home
Money, Integrity, and Krsna
By Rohininandana Dasa
"Wealth makes wits waver."—proverb
As soon as I'd spoken, my "let's-all-be-nice-to-each-other" side became afraid and hoped the young man would reply, "Of course not!" But, caught off guard, he simply lowered his eyes and kept silent. The atmosphere became tense. His friend moved slightly away from him.
I thought, "Wow, its true—everyone does have his price."
What we'll do for a price may not include killing, but who amongst us has never done anything devious for money? And if we steal or cheat, even in small ways, we're anxious, though we appear to be getting away scot-free. I well remember being trapped by fear when I used to travel on trains without a ticket. The peace, strength, and clarity of a clean conscience is much more precious than gold.
The Srimad-Bhagavatam (5.14.7) says that even if monetary dealings are fair and honest, gold is "the source of all sinful life." Srila Prabhupada writes that wealth is a difficult problem for the devotee making progress on the path back to Godhead. Prabhupada cautions us that many "stalwarts in the devotional line" have fallen victim to the allurement of money and what money can buy and have retreated from the path of liberation.
The main problem with money is that people use it to buy sense gratification, which inflames desire and fools people into believing they are independent enjoyers of all they see. Sense gratification therefore nails us to the wheel of birth and death. If we can pull out from our hearts the nail of selfish desires, we'll become happy and free. Lord Krsna says, "A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires—that enter like rivers into the ocean, which is ever being filled but is always still—can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires." (Bhagavad-gita 2.70)
Besides winding up in trouble when I think myself an enjoyer, I also land in it when I think I'm an owner. I remember my astonishment at hearing Srila Prabhupada say that if I take so much as a glass of water from a flowing river and claim it mine I'm a thief. Everything, he stressed, is God's property.
If I claim anything mine, I naturally worry about protecting it. My worry may even give me insomnia. Real and complete peace, the fore-runner of happiness, is a state I can reach only when I learn to apply to every aspect of my life what Prabhupada coined "the peace formula": Lord Krsna is the real owner and enjoyer of everything, and He is my ever well-wishing maintainer and friend.
When I remember that Lord Krsna owns my money—and owns me too—I feel peaceful, like an honest bank-cashier who handles lots of money but whose wits don't waver. He never entertains the notion that any of it might be his. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura sings, "My mind, my body, my house—whatever little I consider mine—I surrender, O Krsna, at Your lotus feet."
A devotee once told Srila Prabhupada that he found renunciation difficult. Prabhupada replied, "Why? What do you own in the first place? Renunciation means simply to give back to Krsna what was His all along."
Srila Prabhupada says that with the Lord's help the whole business of detachment becomes "as easy as anything." As a doctor helps remove a fever, so Lord Krsna helps reduce the fever of our material attachment. He might take away our wealth, or give us more wealth than we need, or graphically show us the truth of material life, or give us a higher taste, or even give Himself—in any case, an aspiring devotee must learn that in Krsna's hands he is always safe.
I feel peaceful when I remember that as Krsna maintains millions of species of creatures, so He cares for me. Srila Prabhupada once said that just as parents feel great pleasure maintaining their children, Krsna enjoys looking after us and sets aside a quota for each of us. Therefore we should not deprive Krsna of that pleasure by trying to make arrangements independent of Him.
We may wonder what exactly constitutes our quota, especially in a consumer society that ever increases artificial needs. But just as we have a sense of what and how much to eat, so we can ascertain our own standard of living. And just as food should never be wasted, so it is with money. Krsna happily supplies us our quota, but we should not forget that every penny is His.
To help us decide how much to lay aside as our personal quota and how much to use in other ways, we'd be wise to seek the help of pure and advanced devotees well conversant with the great art of using everything in Krsna's service.
Although Krsna conscious householders may strive to use every penny in Krsna's service and not one penny in maya's service, they are not fanatics who deprive their families. A Krsna conscious father and husband understands that his family members belong to Krsna and have been entrusted to his care. So he will diligently look after their needs.
As for saving money, Srila Prabhupada said that for householders to lay aside some money as savings or for emergencies is not wrong, but rather sensible. He recalled how previously a husband would adorn his wife in gold jewelry, which she could pawn or sell if times got hard.
In any case, when I remember Krsna, money is never a problem. Whether it comes or goes, money is my friend because it helps me in my service to Krsna. Lord Krsna is also known as Narayana, and money employed in the service of Krsna is known as Laksmi, because it is a representation of Laksmi Devi, the wife of Lord Narayana. Laksmi is also called Cancala, "unsteady," because she does not stay in one place for long. When she is with her husband, however, she resides happily and eternally upon His chest. Similarly, money used in the service of the Lord is the source of steady fortune and prosperity.
Save the Earth
By Paramananda Dasa
FROM THE SECOND we got there I knew something was wrong. I mean, there were some very dedicated people there, supporting some very righteous and urgent causes. Still, something just wasn't sitting right with me.
As I wandered around the Earth Day fairgrounds, I saw so many special-interest groups with so many tables set up—the vegan all-organic veggie-burger stand, the now almost cliche Save the Whales people, even old ladies from the recycling committee knitting discarded plastic bags into everything from jewelry to knapsacks.
One man had dedicated his life to banning lawn chemicals. "I won't stop until every lawn in the world is free of these perversions," he said straight-faced, locking into me with a determined stare as he handed me a clipboard full of signatures to add to.
I walked away disheartened, shuffling my feet through the dirt. I couldn't help thinking that even if he did succeed, even if all his work paid off, sure, the world might have better lawns than at any time in history, but so what? In fact, if everyone on this whole fairground succeeded in his or her own little cause, would the world suddenly turn into paradise? For all the protesting and all the hype, nothing was really changing.
The Save the Earth movement has been going strong for thirty years now—and life on earth has only gotten worse.
This all rolled through my mind as I left the Earth Day fairgrounds. What were all these "Save the fill-in-the-blank" groups doing? The things they fight against—exploitation of animals, depletion of natural resources, mistreatment of other human beings—are just symptoms of a much deeper cause.
Our enemy isn't Exxon, McDonald's, the CIA, or whatever our target of protest happens to be. Our enemy is this mysterious root cause, and by locating and annihilating him ...
But he's smart. He's elusive. While we squander our energy searching for him in the factories, the rain forests, the slaughterhouses, and the vivisection labs, he stays safe in hiding ...
He's inside each of us, hidden deep in our own hearts. The enemy, the root cause, is our own intrinsic desire to see ourselves as the center. Deep inside each of us is this seed of exploitation: the desire to be Number One. That's what makes us grab what we can for ourselves, even at the expense of others. It's there in all of us. Sometimes it can be as obvious as the hamburger-chain mogul who slaughters innocent animals to turn a profit. But sometimes it's there more subtly, in the most seemingly innocent people, where it's disguised in their altruistic efforts to put things in relation to them first—my nation, my race, even my cause. The focus is all on "me."
"Me first" is the cause of all our "isms" and the problems they bring about. Racism comes from someone thinking, "My race comes first." Sexism: "My sex comes first." Animal slaughter: "The gratification of my appetite comes first." It's this consciousness of "I-me-mine" that keeps us stepping on others and has locked the world into a nosedive.
This consciousness of I-me-mine is a spiritual problem, and no amount of material rearrangement will solve it. Our pickets will fail. Our protests will fail. Until we learn to change the world inside us, we'll never change the world outside.
Only under illusion do we see ourselves as the central, all-important figure in the universe. As individual living beings, we are not independent; we are part of a greater whole and therefore meant to serve and act in harmony with that whole.
The whole is a person—Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is the Absolute Truth, or "that from which everything emanates." When we acknowledge Krsna to be the center, our false vision of ourselves as the center will naturally disappear.
When we stop deluding ourselves into thinking we're independent of any higher power, we'll stop thinking we're free to exploit material nature—and then exploitation will stop. By helping people get back in touch with their spiritual identity, we actually help them uproot their selfish desires, which are the real disease in the material world. Krsna consciousness kills the consciousness of I-me-mine, along with all its symptomatic problems.
Sure, the world needs a revolution, but to make a real change is going to take a revolution in consciousness. It'll take a war, but a war on illusion.
The Start of an Exploration of Meaning
By Hridayananda Dasa Goswami
This paper, originally presented to the Committee on the Study of Religion, at the University of California at Los Angeles, examines five topics in the Bhagavad-gita. The first two of these topics—the strong monotheism of the Gita, and the distinction between Krsna and the individual souls—appeared in Part 1. Now the paper continues.
3. God Is The Controller
BECAUSE GOD, Krsna, is one, and eternally separate from the individual soul, it follows that He is the Lord and controller of all that be. Lord Krsna delineates a bipartite notion of causality in which material nature is the cause of the physical workings of the world whereas the living being is the cause of his own enjoyment and suffering. ** (karya-karana-kartrtve hetuh prakrtir ucyate purusah sukha-duhkhanam bhoktrtve hetur ucyate (Bg. 13.21)) Nature responds to the soul's attempts to exploit the illusory material world by entangling the soul in the web of maya. Perhaps the greatest illusion is the soul's false perception that he is performing those physical events, such as moving of the body, that in fact are done by nature. ** (prakrteh kriyamanani gunaih karmani sarvasah ahankara-vimudhatma kartaham iti manyate (Bg. 3.27)) Nature in turn is directly under the control of the Supreme Lord, and the entire cosmos turns by His command. ** (mayadhyaksena prakrtih ... hetunanena kaunteya jagad viparivartate (Bg. 9.10)) Thus the causal chain originates in Krsna, who states: "I am the Lord of all beings, and I stay in their hearts, causing all beings, who are mounted on the machine (of the body), to wander in this world in illusion." ** (isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese 'rjuna tisthati bhramayan sarva-bhutani yantrarudhani mayaya (Bg. 18.61))
Krsna is a living God who orders, punishes, and reclaims the fallen souls, who are eternally part and parcel of Him. Thus Krsna declares, "Those who always faithfully abide by My injunction, without envy, are freed from all karmic acts. But those who are envious and do not abide by My injunction you should know to be mindless and lost, for they are confused about all that is knowledge." ** (ye me matam idam nityam anutisthanti manavah sraddhavanto 'nasuyanto mucyante te 'pi karmabhih (Bg. 3.31)ye tv etad abhyasuyanto nanutisthanti me matam sarva-jnana-vimudhams tan viddhi nastan acetasah (Bg. 3.32))
This same point is driven home at the end of the Gita: "If then because of false ego you will not hear, then you will perish." ** (atha cet tvam ahankaran na srosyasi vinanksyasi (Bg. 18.58)) We will understand Krsna without doubt and fully, Krsna declares, by hearing from Him. ** (asamsayam samagram mam yatha jnasyasi tac chrnu (Bg. 7.1))
One achieves real peace by recognizing that Lord Krsna is the great Lord of all the worlds. ** (sarva-loka-mahesvaram ... jnatva mam santim rcchati (Bg. 5.29)) Similarly, one who knows that Krsna is the great lord of the worlds, and that He is unborn and beginningless, is himself unbewildered among mortal beings and is freed of all sins. ** (yo mam ajam anadim ca vetti loka-mahesvaram asammudhah sa martyesu sarva-papaih pramucyate (10.3)) Arjuna acknowledges Lord Krsna to be the "controller of all beings" and the "Lord of the universe." ** (bhutesa ... jagat-pate (Bg. 10.15))
Finally, the entire eleventh chapter of the Bhagavad-gita demonstrates in an unforgettable way that the whole universe can be devoured in an instant by Lord Krsna. His control is absolute, for all beings exist within Him: "When you have thus learned the truth you will never again fall into illusion, for by that knowledge you will see that all living beings are in the Soul—that is, they are in Me." ** (yaj jnatva na punar moham evam yasyasi pandava yena bhutany asesani draksyasy atmany atho mayi (Bg. 4.35))
4. Krsna Is Everything
Lord Krsna strongly and repeatedly declares in the Bhagavad-gita that He is the source of all that be. It follows that God is not only distinct from His creative energies but is also one with them, since they are eternally resting on Him. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu thus stated that the philosophy of the Gita is acintya-bhedabheda-tattva, which means that God is inconceivably one with, and simultaneously different from, His creation. We shall survey Krsna's statements that He is the source of everything, and then see how this claim is logically linked to the claim that "all things are Krsna."
Sri Krsna declares in the Bhagavad-gita: "I am the source of everything; from Me everything emanates." ** (aham sarvasya prabhavo mattah sarvam pravartate (Bg. 10.8)) Similarly, He states: "I am the origin and the annihilation of the entire cosmos." ** (aham krtsnasya jagatah prabhavah pralayas tatha (Bg. 7.6)) Krsna goes on to say, "There is nothing else beyond Me, O Dhananjaya. All this world rests on Me like pearls strung on a thread." ** (mattah parataram nanyat kincid asti dhananjaya mayi sarvam idam protam sutre mani-gana iva (Bg. 7.7)) And as previously quoted, "Neither the hosts of gods nor the great sages know My origin, for in all respects I am the origin of the gods and great sages." ** (ne me viduh sura-ganah prabhavam na maharsayah aham adir hi devanam maharsinam ca sarvasah (Bg. 10.2)) Krsna is the source not only of the living beings, but of their qualities as well: "Intelligence, knowledge, freedom from confusion [and ten other qualities], in their various types, are states of being of the living entities, and they all come from Me." ** (buddhir jnanam asammohah ... bhavanti bhava bhutanam (Bg. 10.6)) "The seven primordial sages and the four Manus owe their existence to Me for they are born of My mind."
Let us now examine the tenth chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, wherein Lord Krsna claims (Bg. 10.20-38) to be the superlative exemplar in seventy categories. Here is a sample verse from that section: "Of the Adityas I am Visnu; of lights I am the radiant sun; of the Maruts I am Marici; of stars I am the moon." ** (adityanam aham visnur jyotisam ravir amsuman maricir marutam asmi naksatranam aham sasi (Bg. 10.21)) (18) To read monism into all of this would be a transparent misreading of the text, for a serious look at the entire chapter makes abundantly clear what Krsna is actually saying.
First, we notice that most of Krsna's statements, cited above, to the effect that He is the source of everything come from this same tenth chapter, namely verses Bg. 10.2, Bg. 10.4-5, Bg. 10.6, and Bg. 10.8. Krsna precedes, then, His identification of Himself with the greatest items of this world by emphasizing that He is the source of all these things. Recall that in the seventh chapter Krsna stated that all the things of this world are His energy, or prakrti (Bg. 7.4-6) and that He is therefore the source of all that be.
That Krsna is referring to the same ontological state of affairs becomes clear when we notice the repeated use here of the word vibhuti, which indicates the following: glory, expansion, great power, manifestation of might, etc. Arjuna introduces this term when he says to Krsna: "You should speak about Your own divine glories, those by which You pervade these worlds and abide in them." ** (vaktum arhasy asesena divya hy atma-vibhutayah yabhir vibhutibhir lokan imams tvam vyapya tisthasi (Bg. 10.16)) The word for "glories" here is vibhutayah, the plural form of vibhuti. But that is just the beginning of this word's career in the tenth chapter of the Gita. Arjuna then says,"O Janardana [Krsna], please describe again, and extensively, Your mystic power and might, for as I listen to this ambrosia, I find no satiation." ** (vistarenatmano yogam vibhutim ca janardana bhuyah kathaya trptir hi srnvato nasti me 'mrtam (Bg 10.18)) Again, the word for "might" is vibhutim. Lord Krsna then answers, agreeing to explain His own divine opulences, and again the word used (Bg. 10.19) is vibhutayah, the plural of vibhuti. In the very next sloka, the Lord begins His identification of Himself with the seventy categories mentioned above. At the end of the narration, Krsna says, "O burner of the foe, there is no end to My divine powers, and so I have given some example of the extension of My glory." ** (nanto 'sti mama divyanam vibhutinam parantapa esa tuddesatah prokto vibhuter vistaro maya (Bg 10.40)) Predictably the word vibhuti is used twice in this verse, and it is repeated in the following verse, where-in Lord Krsna says: "Whatever glorious, beautiful, or mighty being there may be, understand that it is born of but a spark of My splendor. ** (yad yad vibhutimat sattvam srimad urjitam eva va tat tad evavagaccha tvam mama tejo-'msa-sambhavam (Bg 10.41)) Here the word vibhutimat means "that which possesses vibhuti—that is: power, glory, etc.
By using the word vibhuti no less than six times, Lord Krsna makes clear that He is talking about His powers, His properties, His opulences, etc. In the seventh chapter, there are three "identification verses" (Bg. 7.9-11) which exactly resemble in meter, language, and content the "identification verses" of the tenth chapter (Bg. 10.20-38). These three verses, as in the tenth chapter, are preceded by an elaborate analysis of how Lord Krsna is the source of all, matter and spirit being His superior and inferior potencies. At the conclusion of Bg. 7.9-11, Krsna declares that all these opulences with which He has identified Himself come in fact from Him, and are resting in Him, but He is not in them. ** (matta eveti tan viddhi na tv aham tesu te mayi (Bg. 7.12))
It also bears mentioning that one who rightly understands the sense in which Krsna is the source of everything does not then consider all beings to be God, but rather worships the real God with wholehearted devotion: "I am the source of all. From Me all proceeds. Knowing this, the wise worship Me with all their being."
The purpose of the identification verses is to nourish the devoted theists, as Krsna explains in the verse that follows the one cited above: "Their minds in Me, their lives dedicated to Me, the devotees enlighten one another, always speaking about Me, and thus they are satisfied and rejoice." (25) Further, Arjuna explicitly states that it is just to help such meditation on the Lord that he is requesting Krsna to describe His glories: "Always thinking of You, O Yogin, how can I know You? In which various forms, my Lord, am I to think about You? Describe to me at length Your glories ... etc." ** (katham vidyam aham yogims tvam sada paricintayan kesu kesu ca bhavesu cintyo 'si bhagavan maya (Bg. 10.17)) There is hardly a doctrine of pantheism in the Bhagavad-gita. The real message is quite clear: surrender to Krsna.
Lord Krsna says that after many births, one in knowledge surrenders to the Lord, realizing that "Vasudeva (Krsna) is everything." ** (bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate vasudevah sarvam iti ... (Bg. 7.19)) Arjuna tells Krsna, "You cover everything and thus You are everything." ** (sarvam samapnosi tato 'si sarvah (Bg. 11.40))These verses offer devastating evidence against the impersonal, monistic interpretation.
In the first instance, Lord Krsna's statement comes in the midst of a discussion of four types of people who do not surrender to God, and four types who do. Krsna's point in the verse we have cited (Bg. 7.19) is that surrender to Krsna is the sign that one is actually in knowledge, after many lifetimes of seeking the truth. In fact, the learned one who realizes that Krsna is everything belongs to one of the four classes of men who surrender to the Lord.
We have already explained at length the many verses in chapter seven, preceding Bg. 7.19, which claim that Krsna is the source of everything, and that He is identical with the opulent features of this world in the sense that such items, composed of the inferior modes of nature (sattva, rajas, tamas), are but expansions of the Lord's power. And the verses following Bg. 7.19 emphasize that it is Krsna alone who is to be worshiped, and not other gods. In other words, the topic under discussion is nothing but surrender to Krsna, and an elaborate ontological explanation in this very chapter has clarified that Krsna is to be identified with the wonderful things of this world only in the sense that such items rest on Him. It was explicitly stated that Krsna is simultaneously aloof, that He is "not in them." ** (na tv aham tesu te mayi (Bg. 7.12))
Similarly, Arjuna declares to Krsna: "You are everything because You entirely possess everything." ** (sarvam samapnosi tato 'si sarvah (Bg. 11.40)) Arjuna's statement is in response to the cosmic vision of God, in which Krsna devours all the universe, and all beings are subdued by the Lord's omnipotent feature of time. That is, it is in the context of God's absolute domination of the subordinate living beings that Arjuna utters His prayer, "You are everything!"
Still, it is worthwhile to take a closer look at the somewhat complex ontology operating here, and Krsna Himself provides us such a focused metaphysical analysis in the ninth chapter (Bg. 4-10), where He intentionally speaks in apparently contradictory language: "By Me in My unmanifested form, this whole universe is pervaded. All beings are situated in Me, but I am not situated in them. The beings are also not situated in Me. Behold My mystic power. I am the maintainer of all beings; I am also not situated in them. My self is the source of the beings. Understand that just as the great wind, which goes everywhere, is situated in the sky, so all beings are situated in Me."
Lord Krsna here makes several ontological distinctions between Himself, God, and the many living beings like us:
1. Krsna states that He individually pervades the entire universe. There is no similar claim for any of the individual living beings. (Bg. 9.4)
2. All beings are situated in Krsna, but He is not in them. (Bg. 9.4)
3. Krsna is the maintainer of all beings, but not they of Him. (Bg. 9.5)
4. Krsna is the source (bhavana) of all beings, but not they of Him. (Bg. 9.5)
5. Lord Krsna compares Himself to the sky, and the living beings to the air, which moves within the sky but does not mix with it. (Bg. 9.6) This metaphor is further developed at Bg. 13.33, wherein Krsna compares the sky to the soul, which does not mix with the body. Krsna states at Bg. 13.33 that although the sky extends everywhere (sarva-gatam), because of its subtlety (sauksmyat) it does not mix with anything, and hence nothing can taint it (nopalipyate).
At Bg. 9.6, then, Krsna means to state that although the great winds blow throughout space or the sky, the sky is never covered by the air. By analogy, then, although God contains all living beings within His existence, because of His being superior He cannot be affected by the inferior qualities of the beings He contains. Indeed, Krsna states that in an unmanifest form (avyakta-murtina) He pervades the universe. Here the term avyakta, "unmanifest," is clearly related to the concept of subtlety in Bg. 13.33. This sense of subtlety as a cause or condition of imperceptibility is explicitly given at Bg. 13.16, where it is said that the Absolute "is incomprehensible because of its subtlety." ** () (32) This very word suksmatvat is given at Bg. 13.33 to mean "because of its subtlety."
Thus the analogy of the sky and the air (Bg. 9.6) is meant to explicate the same message given at Bg. 9.4-5: Although Krsna is all-pervading, and although all beings live and exist within His existence, He is always distinct and superior, and is never affected by the inferior qualities of the living beings He contains. Thus it is very difficult to mount anything like a serious argument for monism from the statements of the Bhagavad-gita.
(continued in the next issue.)
Shattering "The Silence Of The Absolute"
This exchange between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and an official from an impersonalist ("God-is-simply-everyone-and-everything") movement took place in Paris, on August 13, 1973, with Srila Prabhupada's disciples translating the official's remarks from French.
Official: Our movement is very well known in the United States. Have you never come across our society?
Srila Prabhupada: What is the aim of your movement?
Official: The evolution of man.
Srila Prabhupada: "The evolution of man." So man is going to evolve more? What is that ultimate "evolution"? What is your movement about?
Official: A reintegration of man with the cosmos, or cosmic consciousness.
Srila Prabhupada: Cosmic consciousness. We also believe in individual consciousness and cosmic consciousness. We are now studying this subject matter in our class. Ksetra-jna: the individual soul is a knower—conscious—and the Supersoul, God, is also conscious. So we also admit: universal consciousness. That is God's consciousness. But our consciousness is limited.
Official: Our movement is studying the same thing.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. So that is real evolution: when our consciousness is in agreement with the supreme consciousness. That is Krsna consciousness.
Official: Ours is a mystical and philosophical order that allows its students to achieve the perfection of consciousness.
Srila Prabhupada: So what is the ideal of that perfection of consciousness?
Official: It is love.
Srila Prabhupada: "Love." That's nice. Very good. So the supreme consciousness and our individual consciousness—when they are in exchange of love, that is perfection. Is that right?
Official: This ultimate consciousness is one of union with the Absolute. It is one of light, of samadhi, of total love. This is the highest.
Srila Prabhupada: "Love." When we speak of love, there must be two persons. So what is your philosophy?
Official: The love of which I am speaking is a love that binds everything together, that bathes everything in light and love.
Srila Prabhupada: So there is no action?
Official: No, there is action.
Srila Prabhupada: What are those activities?
Srila Prabhupada: Giving—and taking, also.
Official: There is giving. There is also taking. But the person who has achieved this ultimate perfection—whenever he takes, he immediately gives it to someone else.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. The transaction between two lovers: the first gives; the second takes. Sometimes the second gives and the first takes. This is exchange. Similarly, I give my beloved something to eat, and he also gives me something to eat. And again, I disclose my mind unto my beloved; my beloved also discloses her or his mind. These are loving exchanges.
Official: I understand that we are talking of love meaning two persons, but why can't we think of love in terms of an exchange between man and everything? Between man and the cosmos?
Srila Prabhupada: As you say, cosmos means consciousness. And consciousness means persons, the Supreme Person and His subordinates. For instance, I may want to love a whole tree, with all its leaves and twigs. Now, if I pour water on the root of the tree, it goes to the leaves, twigs, branches automatically. So if we love the supreme consciousness, the Supreme Person, who has got universal or cosmic consciousness, then automatically our service goes to everyone, everywhere.
Official: This is also our philosophy.
Srila Prabhupada: But you cannot love everyone and anyone or everything without finding out the original source of everything.
Official: Our order is a school that teaches its students to progress, step by step, toward that ultimate source of all sources.
Srila Prabhupada: What are those steps?
Official: It is a gradual progress. Our students come, they receive initiation, and then they are guided. They are given certain principles, and then gradually, at their own rate, by their own powers, they ultimately arrive at perfection.
Srila Prabhupada: So, what is that ideal of perfection?
Official: That ideal of perfection is nirvana. It is the kingdom of Lord Jesus Christ. It is the ultimate point for which all men are ultimately striving.
Srila Prabhupada: So, what is that? Nirvana means zero. Everyone is striving for zero?
Official: Nirvana means something different for us.
Srila Prabhupada: What is that?
Official: It is an entering into something that is alive and real.
Srila Prabhupada: Nirvana—this is a Sanskrit word. Nirvana means "finish."
Official: For us, the word nirvana means an end, but an end to this material existence and an entrance into the silence of the Absolute: onto a level that is real, whereas this one is false. This one is rejected.
Srila Prabhupada: Why "silence"?
Official: The term "entering into silence" is a mystic term.
Srila Prabhupada: You cannot explain it.
Official: It is indescribable, because it is something that is arrived at inside, through meditation. You can't really describe it in words.
Srila Prabhupada: Why? You are describing so many things in words, and yet the ultimate goal you cannot describe.
(continued in the next issue)
Duryodhana's Evil Plan
Filled with envy of the Pandavas, Duryodhana plots their murder.
Translated from Sanskrit by Hridayananda Dasa Goswami
The sage Vaisampayana is telling the history of the Pandavas to their great-grandson, King Janamejaya. In the last issue, powerful Karna, of unknown caste, interrupted a great military exhibition and challenged Arjuna to fight. Duryodhana quickly befriended Karna and crowned him king of Anga. As the Mahabharata continues, the arrival of Karna's father on the scene reveals Karna's disqualifying parentage.
ADHIRATHA, Karna's father, came trembling and sweating into the arena, his upper cloth scattered about him. He was out of breath and was supporting himself with a rod. When Karna saw his father, bound by reverence he put aside his bow and worshipfully bowed his head, still wet from the royal consecration. Adhiratha was embarrassed, and he covered his feet with his cloth. Then to Karna, whose goals had been richly fulfilled, Adhiratha the chariot driver said, "My son!" Adhiratha embraced Karna and with his tears again wetted his son's head.
Seeing all this, Bhimasena, son of Pandu, concluded, "He's the son of a chariot driver." [Bhima had witnessed the unwarranted attempt by Karna and Duryodhana to humiliate and destroy his younger brother Arjuna.] Now it was Bhima who laughed. He declared, "You do not deserve death in battle from Arjuna, O son of a driver. Quickly, take up the driving whip, which fits your family. You lowest of men, you are not worthy to enjoy the kingdom of Anga, for you are like a dog that comes near the sacred fire to eat the offering."
When Karna heard Bhima's words his lower lip trembled, and breathing heavily he looked up at the day-making sun.
Then mighty Duryodhana leaped up in rage from the midst of his brothers, like a maddened elephant charging out of a lotus forest. He spoke out to the terribly powerful Bhimasena, who stood before him. "Vrkodara," he said, "it is not right for you to speak such words! Among warriors, strength comes first. Even a fallen "friend of a warrior' deserves a fight. To understand the original source of heroes and rivers is difficult. Why, from water arose fire, the fire that pervades all creatures. From the bones of Dadhici, the gods fashioned a thunderbolt to kill the Danavas. We hear from sages that Karttikeya is the son of Agni, and of Krttika, and of Rudra, and of Ganga Devi. The origin of such an exalted god is shrouded in mystery. Hence he is called Guha.
"Famous brahmanas have taken birth from ksatriya mothers, and Dronacarya himself was born from a pot. Guru Krpa was born from a clump of reeds. Why, it is known to the kings of this world that even the birth of you five brothers is most unusual.
"How could an ordinary doe give birth to a tiger? This man was born with earrings and armor built into his body; these are the marks of divine birth. Don't you see that he's as brilliant as the sun?
"This man is a lord of men. He deserves the whole earth as his kingdom, not merely the state of Anga! He deserves it by his ample prowess, and by his relation to me, for I follow his command. Or if there is anyone born of man who will not tolerate what I have done, then either mounting his chariot or with his feet on the earth, let him bend the bow against me!"
A great uproar swept through the stadium, and many spectators [failing to recognize Duryodhana's evil motives] praised and cheered his words. But then the sun journeyed below the horizon, and the day was done. Duryodhana took Karna firmly by the hand, O king, and with the way lit up by the fire of lamps went out of the stadium. Then the Pandavas, with Drona, Krpa, and Bhisma, went back to their own homes.
As the people departed, O Bharata, they spoke in animated tones. Some were saying "Arjuna!" Others were saying "Karna!" and others "Duryodhana!"
The divine marks on Karna s body had proven to Kunti that the new king of Anga was her own son, and her secret love for him only increased, for such is the affection of a mother.
Having made friendship with Karna, O king, Duryodhana felt his terrible fear of Arjuna suddenly vanish. Karna himself, who had labored hard to master his weapons, then saluted Duryodhana with exquisite words of praise. And even Yudhisthira began to think that there was no archer equal to Karna on the face of the earth.
Then Drona, having summoned his students, insisted that all of them, without exception, offer him payment in return for the education he had given them. The daksina, or payment, that he demanded was this:
"My dear students, you must capture Drupada, king of Pancala, in face-to-face combat, and bring him to me. May you be blessed in your endeavor, for this shall be the highest daksina."
"So be it!" said the young warriors, and accompanied by Drona they went quickly on their chariots to secure that valuable gift for their guru. Those powerful men went straight to the land of the Pancalas and attacked and leveled the city of mighty Drupada. Arresting Drupada, known as Yajnasena, those powerful men brought him with his ministers before Drona.
Drupada's pride was broken, and his wealth lost, for he was now a helpless prisoner. Drona, remembering the enmity between himself and Drupada, the said to the fallen king, "I have quickly smashed your kingdom and city, and you have been taken alive by your enemy. [As you once said,] What need is there for a friend of the past?"
Having spoken thus, and laughing loudly at the fallen king, Drona came to a decision and said, "Do not fear for your life, O king, for we brahmanas are forgiving. In our childhood I played with you in the hermitage, O mighty ksatriya, and I developed a strong affection for you. Indeed, I would pray to have friendship with you again, O leader of men, and therefore I award you a boon. Take back half of your kingdom.
"One who is not a king is not worthy to be a friend of kings, and therefore, O Yajnasena, I endeavored to gain your kingdom so that we might be friends. You are now king of the land on the southern bank of the Bhagirathi, and I am king on the northern bank. If you agree, then know for certain, Pancala, that I am your friend."
King Drupada said, "Your victory and your generosity are not surprising, O brahmana, for that is the way of the great and mighty. I do feel love for you, and I desire your everlasting love toward me."
When thus addressed by the king, Drona at once released him, and with joy in his heart he honored his old friend and delivered to him half the kingdom. Drupada then ruled Makandi, on the bank of the Ganges, with its broad countryside, and dwelled in the fine capital city of Kampilya, controlling the southern Pancalas as far south as the Carmanvati River. But Drupada was terribly depressed, for he constantly remembered his feud with Drona and could find no peace. He saw no way to achieve victory with his warrior strength.
Feeling helpless against the power of a brahmana, the king began to yearn for a son [who would regain his honor]. As Drupada fixed this thought in his mind, Drona settled into his new kingdom of Ahicchatra.
Thus, O king, Drona's students, led by Arjuna, conquered in battle the capital of Ahicchatra and the surrounding country and delivered it as a gift to Drona.
Duryodhana Petitions His Father
Recognizing the superior strength of Bhimasena and the masterful skill of Arjuna, evil-minded Duryodhana was consumed with envy. And so Karna, born of the sun, and Sakuni, son of Subala, schemed in many ways with Duryodhana to assassinate the Pandavas. The Pandavas learned everything of these plots, but on the advice of Vidura those tamers of enemies did not make an uprising or even reveal their knowledge.
Seeing that the Pandavas were blessed with so many good qualities, the residents of the capital city, wherever they met, in the town squares and in public assemblies, spoke of the Pandavas. "Dhrtarastra has the eye of wisdom," they said, "but he is physically blind, and thus that lord of the people did not inherit the royal throne. How then has he now become the king? And Bhisma, son of Santanu, is a most honest man, of great vows, but he declined the kingdom, and he will not accept the throne, now or ever.
"Well and good! We ourselves should at once install on the royal throne the eldest Pandava, Yudhisthira, for though he is young he shows the behavior of a wise elder. He is always truthful, and he is a truly compassionate man. Once he is king, he will be most kind to Bhisma, son of Santanu, and to Dhrtarastra and his sons. He will honor them and bestow upon them all gifts and facilities."
When Duryodhana heard the people speak these words, that evil man was consumed with envy. Afire with jealousy, he could not stand those words, and in sheer torment he went to his father, Dhrtarastra. Meeting alone with Dhrtarastra and duly honoring him, he spoke in anguish about the people's love for the Pandavas:
"Dear father, I have heard the people gossiping. They are speaking inauspicious words. Disrespecting you and Bhisma, they want Yudhisthira as their lord. Bhisma gives the same report, and [clearly he has no motive, since] he does not desire the kingdom. The people of this city want to inflict on us the greatest pain. Formerly Pandu got the kingdom from his father by his own qualifications. [Although you were the eldest son of the king] you did not meet the requirements, so you did not attain the royal throne. Now if that man Yudhisthira is able to inherit Pandu's throne and all that goes with it, then certainly his son will also get the throne, and his son, and so on.
"And what shall we do? Deprived of royal lineage, we and our children shall be despised by the world. O lord of the world, hell shall ever be our lot, as we feed off the charity of our rivals! O king, we must at once arrange to stop Yudhisthira from becoming king. If you had been firm in your kingdom, then surely we would have inherited it, and the people would have been powerless."
Hearing his son Duryodhana, Dhrtarastra reflected for a moment and then replied, "Pandu always followed religious principles, and he always acted for my happiness and well-being. He was kind to all our relatives, but he was especially good to me. There is nothing at all I did not know about that man, even what foods he liked to eat and the things he liked to do. Firm in his vows, he always offered me all that he had in his kingdom. And Pandu's son is every bit as good and religious as his father. Why, the whole world knows how qualified the boy is, and he has the full backing of the citizens. How can we possibly drag him down by force from the kingdom of his father and forefathers, especially when he stands with so many faithful friends and allies?
"Pandu always took personal care of the government ministers and the army, and gave special attention to their sons and grandsons. When they and all the citizens were so loved and honored by Pandu, how would they not kill us and all our men for Yudhisthira's sake?"
Duryodhana said, "I have already meditated on that very problem, dear father. I have seen that the citizens are moved by money and position. Surely most of them will become our faithful friends and supporters. And I might add that the royal treasury and its ministers are now firmly on my side, O king.
"You, sir, must quickly banish the Pandavas and send them to live in the city of Varanavata. Tell them you are sending them there for some other purpose, something that appears kind and reasonable. Then, O Bharata, as soon as the kingdom is securely in my hands, Kunti and her children may return."
King Dhrtarastra said, "Duryodhana, this very idea has been turning around in my own heart, but it is such a sinful thought I did not reveal it to anyone. Neither Bhisma nor Drona nor Vidura nor Krpa will ever approve a plan to banish the Pandavas. My son, the Kuru leaders are all intelligent, religious men. They regard us on an equal level with the Pandavas, and they will not tolerate discrimination. If we enact such a plan, then these senior men of the Kuru dynasty, and indeed the whole world, will certainly consider us guilty of capital crimes, and fit to be executed."
Duryodhana said, "Bhisma is always neutral. The son of Drona stands with me. Wherever stands the son of Drona, there stands Drona himself; of this there is no doubt. Krpa, son of Saradvan, will always remain united with Bhisma and Drona, for he will never renounce Drona or Drona's son, who is his own nephew. Though Vidura secretly sides with the Pandavas, his fortunes are bound to ours. And for their sake he alone has no power to harm us. Be confident and banish Pandu's sons and their mother to Varanavata this very day. There will be no difficulty in this plan. Thus, O father, destroy the horrible dart that has sunk into my heart and set such a fire of grief that at night I cannot sleep."
The Pandavas Depart For Varanavata
Then Duryodhana and his younger brothers steadily captured all the government ministers with gifts of wealth and position. And expert counselors, engaged by Dhrtarastra, began to speak about a charming city called Varanavata: "In the town of Varanavata," they said, "there is going to be a very big convention, the most enjoyable in the world, in honor of Lord Siva. That region is full of all kinds of jewels. It is a most charming area!" Thus by the order of Dhrtarastra, they continued to praise the region of Varanavata.
As the Pandavas heard more and more about the charming city of Varanavata, their desire to go there arose. And when Dhrtarastra, son of Ambika, felt that a strong curiosity had been aroused in them, he said to the Pandavas, "These men of mine are always talking, again and again, about Varanavata. They say it is the most charming city in the world. My dear Yudhisthira, if you boys would like to see the festivities in Varanavata, then go there with your friends and followers and enjoy yourselves like the immortal gods. You may offer as many jewels as you like to the brahmanas and to all who sing the sacred songs, and thus you will shine in that city like the gods in heaven. After enjoying for some time there and experiencing the highest pleasure, you happy boys will come again to Hastinapura."
Agreeing to the desire of his uncle Dhrtarastra's and realizing that Duryodhana had successfully won over the important men in the government, Yudhisthira replied, "So be it."
Then Yudhisthira quietly spoke these pathetic words to Drona, Krpa, Bahlika, Asvatthama, the Kuru Somadatta, the very wise Bhisma, the great-minded Vidura, and the highly revered Gandhari: "Dear relatives, by the order of Dhrtarastra we shall dwell for some time with our people in the beautiful and bustling city of Varanavata. May all of you be pleased with this plan and bless us with auspicious words, so that fortified with your blessings we shall never be overcome by evil."
When all the Kauravas heard Yudhisthira's words, their faces became peaceful, and they came forward and blessed the Pandavas, saying, "May you always be healthy on your journey and happy with whomever you meet! O beloved sons of Pandu, may you not have even a trace of misfortune!"
Thus the Pandavas were blessed to obtain good fortune in their new kingdom, and having performed all the required duties, they departed for Varanavata.
Duryodhana, whose soul was corrupted by evil, felt the greatest pleasure. He took his adviser Purocana aside, O noble Bharata. Clasping Purocana's right hand, Duryodhana said to him, "Purocana, this abundant earth, full of riches, is now mine! And because it is mine, it is also yours, and you must help me protect it. There is no one I trust more than you, no other associate with whom I can consult and ally myself as I can with you. Keep our meeting completely confidential, dear friend, for you must destroy my enemies and save me from their wiles by a most clever means. I shall explain it to you, and you must carry it out precisely as I say.
"Dhrtarastra has ordered the Pandavas to Varanavata, and by Dhrtarastra's order they will stay there for some time and enjoy the local festivities. You must go in a swiftly moving chariot drawn by strong mules. Do what you must so that you reach Varanavata this very day. There you must see to the construction of a luxurious house with four stately halls. The house should be extremely well guarded and must have an armory adjoining it. You must find hemp, tree resin, and whatever other inflammable materials are locally available and provide all of them to the builders. The walls should be built of clay mixed with oil, clarified butter, and large quantities of lac. See that the walls are covered with plaster.
"Place hemp, bamboo, butter, and all types of wooden implements throughout the house. Do everything in such a way that the Pandavas, even if they investigate, will not suspect you, and so that neither they nor other men will notice that this house has been built to go up in flames.
"When the mansion has been built in this way, you should show the Pandavas the greatest of honor and see that they live there with Kunti and her affectionate maidservants. Exquisite seats, beds, and vehicles must be arranged for the Pandavas so that my father may be pleased. With as much time as we have, everything should be arranged so that the Pandavas live happily, with full confidence, in the city of Varanavata.
"But when you know that they are sleeping soundly, without fear or suspicion, you are to set fire by the door of the house. When the Pandavas have burned to death, all that the citizens and our relatives will ever say about the Pandavas is 'They burned to death in their own house.' "
"And so it shall be!" promised Purocana to the wicked Kaurava, and departed in a mule-drawn chariot for the city of Varanavata. He left swiftly, O king, resolved to carry out the will of Duryodhana, and he arranged everything exactly as Duryodhana had ordered.
A graduate of Krsna conscious schools tells why she chooses to wear the traditional Vedic dress.
By Madireksana Devi Dasi
WHY DO THEY cover their heads?" the small Catholic girl asked of the nun holding her hand.
The girl was unabashedly pointing at me across the room of the glass blower's cabin at colonial Greenfield Village in Michigan. She was with her Catholic school, and I was with my Hare Krsna school. My girlfriends and I were all wearing colorful saris, our heads covered.
The nun looked at me, probably because I was the oldest girl there, and smiled. I returned the smile and heard her tell the girl, "For the same reason I do."
I was flattered and amazed that she had instantly understood that I was a religious woman just as she was, trying my best to follow God's laws even in matters of dress. Although our religions are different, there was an immediate bond between us because we recognized each other as people of God.
Hare Krsna women don't have to wear a sari, but I choose to wear one because it forces me to constantly prove myself as a religious person—to other people, to other Hare Krsnas, and to myself.
My sari makes people want to know why I don't conform. People ask me what my purpose is in life and why I have to wear a sari to fulfill that purpose. This is what I tell them:
The thrust of the Hare Krsna movement is to dedicate one's life to God (Krsna) by acting piously and by thinking about Him as much as possible. Acting piously starts with giving up gambling, intoxicants, meat-eating, and illicit sex. We think about Krsna by, among other things, reading scriptures and singing Krsna's name. That's why the favorite pastime of Hare Krsna devotees is singing Hare Krsna.
Wearing a sari helps me stay pious and remember Krsna because it helps keep me away from sinful activities. It helps remind me and others that I'm a devotee of Krsna, in the same way a policeman's uniform helps him remember his service and reminds citizens he's an agent of the law. While in uniform, he must be especially careful to follow the codes of conduct for a policeman.
Being constantly aware of my purpose in life makes me always try to act carefully so as not to make my religion look bad. When I'm in a sari I have to remember that I represent the Hare Krsna movement. Everything I do or say will reflect on my religion. If one police officer gets out of line, the entire police force becomes embarrassed and is often held to blame. Occasionally, I've done something foolish in public while wearing a sari and have felt embarrassed not only for myself but for all Hare Krsnas.
My sari tells other Krsna devotees I'm a serious practitioner. Many devotees wear their religious dress only for ceremonies at the temple. By wearing my sari everywhere, I show other devotees I'm serious about my religion and won't stray.
It's easy to be a Hare Krsna around other Hare Krsnas, but to be one around people who may be doubtful, intolerant, unconcerned, or even antagonistic will make me a stronger devotee. The test of a true religious person is the internal determination, not the external dress. I'm not the Hare Krsna I want to be unless I'm one in all circumstances, good or bad—in sickness or health, in wealth or poverty.
By staying Krsna conscious in all circumstances, I can prove to myself that I'm a serious devotee of Krsna. So, except for the occasional fear that I might trip on my sari and fall down the administration building stairs, I proudly and cheerfully wear saris to college. After all, I'm a Hare Krsna whether I'm wearing a sari or not. Might as well warn people!
South Africa's "king of the highways" becomes the servant of the Lord of the heart.
By Kapiladeva Dasa
THE MAIN DEPOT of Sentinel Transport in Durban is abuzz with activity. A convoy of spotlessly clean trucks—each bearing the distinctive silver-and-aquamarine Sentinel markings—is preparing to leave. Workers at the loading docks are scrambling to get other trucks ready to go. In fact, it's hard to find anything that doesn't move at high speed at Sentinel Transport, one of the largest and most successful trucking companies in South Africa.
Inside the office, Mr. Ranjit Ramnarain is surrounded by his administrative staff. There are contracts and requisitions to be signed, heavy decisions to be made, and phones ringing constantly. Mr. Ram, as he is affectionately known by his staff, sorts out the problems, and his staff go running off in different directions. Then he tells his secretary he won't take any calls for the next fifteen minutes. He sits down behind the big oak desk, pulls out his bead bag, and begins chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare ...
"If I don't chant my rounds even one day, I feel like a big thief, like I am stealing Krsna's time," says Ranjit. "I chant as much as possible during the early morning, before I leave home, because once I step into the office I'm fighting for time."
Running a company the size and sophistication of Sentinel, that's no wonder. With a staff of more than 700, a fleet of over 150 Mercedes "horses" (the front ends of tractor trailers), and 300 trailers, all running at full capacity, Sentinel Transport is a well-tuned machine. But the man calling the shots at Sentinel is more than a successful businessman and community leader. He is a devotee of Lord Krsna.
How did "the king of the highways," as Ranjit is known in South Africa, become a servant of the Lord of the heart?
Ranjit Ramnarain came from an extremely poor family, the fifth of ten children. "My mother would collect empty flour bags, bleach them, and sew them into shirts for the children. Most of us didn't have shoes. I got my first pair of shoes when I was fifteen years old. I had only one pair of trousers. When I washed them, I had to wait for them to dry and then put them on again."
A decisive moment came in his life when he was accepted at Sastri College, South Africa's first high school for Indian boys. Although money was tight, his mother bought him a school uniform. But he didn't have any books. So when he came across another boy who had books but no uniform, Ranjit gave the boy his own uniform and two shillings, in exchange for the books. Then he walked to the Rank Cafe to celebrate. He ordered beans and bread and enjoyed it, but when the waiter brought the bill, Ranjit realized he didn't have any money. He was unceremoniously thrown out of the cafe.
"It was then that I told myself that as it appeared that money was the root of all success, I would be determined to make as much money as possible."
He left school and from that point dedicated himself single-mindedly to making money. In 1968 he bought a run-down truck, fixed it up, and began a small trucking business. Twenty-five years later, he found himself at the helm of the largest privately owned transport company in South Africa.
But although he had achieved so much, still he felt that something was missing. With the death of his wife in 1990, this feeling of emptiness came to the forefront. Ranjit became more and more involved in community service and religious life. After he met the devotees from the Durban Hare Krsna temple, he began chanting and getting involved in the temple's projects. When he heard about the Food for Life program, he decided to get behind it. The result: Hundreds of thousands of people have benefited, both materially and spiritually.
"The delicious prasadam we are serving out is really Food for Life," says Ranjit proudly. "It is lifting people out of darkness by feeding them and giving them a chance for spiritual progress. Our country has many problems—malnutrition amongst the children, deep ethnic and racial divisions that threaten to tear our society apart. I sincerely believe that massive distribution of prasadam can heal all these wounds.
"It has been a great source of satisfaction to me that I have been able to play a part in the growth of Food for Life. My sincere prayer is that Krsna will bless this prasadam distribution so that it will grow unlimitedly."
When you leave for work, don't leave without your Krsna Consciousness.
By Pranada Devi Dasi
EIGHT YEARS AGO I ventured from the protective environment of a life guided by full-time devotional service in ISKCON temples to the American work force. I did so with some trepidation. I had seen many devotees take jobs outside the Hare Krsna movement and then set aside, temporarily or long term, their Krsna conscious goals and practices. I knew of few devotees who had been able to keep their Krsna consciousness while working outside.
I wondered, Is it possible to stay untouched by the power of the material energy while exposing yourself to it so openly?
We see that devotees who regularly go out dressed in conventional Western attire to spread Krsna consciousness mix with the material energy but stay aloof by staying fixed on Krsna's mission. But what about those of us whose jobs take us into the mainstream work force without a single external sign of spiritual life? We leave behind devotional dress, devotional food, devotional sounds, and devotional association to be surrounded by mundane talk and enticements to sex. Our mixing with the material energy is certainly different from that of a preacher or a devotee in the temple.
I work as a print broker, linking publishers with printers around the world. After working full time in the mainstream and having a fair amount of success, I'm able to answer my initial question with an unequivocal yes. We can maintain our Krsna consciousness while working in the material world—as long as we keep Krsna consciousness the priority in our life.
In fact I'm convinced that whatever success I've had in business is due to my staying focused on my Krsna conscious goals. To work in the world without getting entangled, the foundation of success is to purify our life by chanting Hare Krsna and giving up gambling, intoxicants, meat-eating, and illicit sex. In other words, to succeed in working outside the temple, we have to apply the same formula Prabhupada gave for spiritual life in the temple.
So my guiding motto has been: My business can't be "business as usual."
"Business as usual" means degradation to lower births, because people usually conduct business only to make money. The desire for money can turn into a fever, making us forget life's real purpose, especially when we get a little success. When have our endeavors become delirious? As soon as our family and business become more important than our spiritual practices. If we're losing enthusiasm for our spiritual commitments, we're too absorbed in material affairs.
Avoiding The Money Trap
The desire for money is one of the illusory energy's best traps. The Vedic scriptures caution us that money and sex are the two greatest pitfalls in life. Material opulence can make us proud. After all, money can buy respect, status, sex enjoyment, and a full range of material comforts and gadgets. The sad fallacy is to think that financial security is real security. It isn't. So we don't need to prostitute our lives to meet the needs of our family. We can become satisfied with whatever Krsna gives us. He generally gives plenty, and we'll appreciate that if we stay simple and humble.
So how to protect ourselves from becoming like so many thousands absorbed in hard work for flickering rewards? The only guarantee that our life in the work force won't ever be-come business as usual is a steady, daily spiritual health regime.
Just as for physical fitness one might jog, visit a health club, or take vitamins every day, a devotee knows that to stay spiritually fit one must chant a quota of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra daily, worship the Deity in the home or the temple daily, and daily read Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.
I'm able to spend four to five hours a day on my spiritual program and still put in a fifty-plus-hour workweek, cook my family's meals, and perform other household duties. I don't have any toddlers running around, so that helps. But whether or not you have that much time to devote to spiritual practices, the secret is to set aside a specific amount of time for them each day (don't skimp). Try to choose the best time of the day, and follow your program without fail. For me, that's the only way to ensure I can remember Krsna throughout the day, or at least have Him periodically enter my thoughts. The Narada-bhakti-sutra (37) tells us, "One achieves bhakti by hearing and chanting about the Supreme Lord's special qualities, even while engaged in the ordinary activities of this world."
Our good habits will keep us fixed in Krsna consciousness even when we're faced with material allurements—and we will be faced with them.
Purity On The Job
Perhaps the first thing to examine is the line of work you're in. Is it opposed to Krsna consciousness? Obviously, a devotee wouldn't want to become a butcher, a bartender, or a prostitute, but many other professions may implicate us in impure activities. We should examine what we're doing and decide whether we need to make changes.
Most jobs today have us working with the opposite sex in a social environment that promotes promiscuity. But we don't have to promote it in our own consciousness. We can protect ourselves by, for one thing, dressing conservatively. Pay attention to this seemingly insignificant detail. It can make a big difference in the way you think of yourself and the way others see you. Conservative dressing can help keep interactions sober and to the point.
We must check the mood of enjoyment when dealing with the opposite sex. You don't have to be mean, but there's no need to be frivolous either. Be careful how you deal with flirtatious comments or gestures. Always make it clear that you are not, and never will be, attracted by that sort of behavior.
Another way for maya to catch you is through the mundane media. TV, radio, movies, magazines, newspapers—these can sap your spiritual vitality. Watching TV or reading newspapers and magazines is habit-forming, and to break free isn't always easy. If we're caught up, we may not even notice just how polluting those things are. But try giving up all media for a month or two and see how your mind becomes clearer to think of Krsna.
We may need to check in on the news now and then or read trade magazines for business. But we should be honest and give up everything we don't need. We can seek entertainment in simpler, purer acts like a walk in nature or a family picnic, and we must give our-selves time to read Srimad-Bhagavatam instead of mundane news.
Another point: Eating only food offered to Krsna is very important for keeping our consciousness clear and pure. Without mental cleanliness there's no question of remembering Krsna or gaining practical realization of spiritual truths.
We may like to eat out, it may be the easiest thing to do, or our work may force us to do it. Whatever the case, we shouldn't foolishly underestimate the effects of eating food prepared by those without devotion to God, what to speak of eating food—even "vegetarian" food—made in kitchens filled with dead animals.
In Bhagavad-gita Krsna describes eating unoffered food as tantamount to eating mouthfuls of sin. And in Caitanya-caritamrta Srila Prabhupada explains that especially contaminating to the consciousness are grains cooked by nondevotees. In fact, he says, you take on the sinful karma of the person who cooked the food. That's an extra burden we'd do well to avoid.
By all means, if our work doesn't force us to eat out, we shouldn't. There are lots of healthful, delicious options for packed lunches. (Those interested can inquire, and I'll share some ideas—or you can try getting a job next to a Govinda's restaurant. ...)
On occasion I have to entertain clients, and my travels sometimes make it impossible to cook or be near ISKCON restaurants or temples. So then I try to stick to fruits, nuts, cheeses, and occasionally potato chips, or I carry travel prasadam like samosas, chidwa, granola, or date-nut breads. When I have to take a client out, I order a salad, but I avoid the dressings—they all have garlic and onions in them, and sometimes eggs. So I just ask for olive oil and lemon juice on the side. When I've simply had to have more than a salad, I've stretched things and gone for a baked potato. But I've always been able to get away with a silent prayer to offer my food, even at the most important formal gatherings.
When making large business deals, we don't have to eat full dinners, drink wine, or compromise in other ways to successfully "wine and dine" our clients. My nonconformity has never lost me a contract. In fact, I've found that my clients respect me more for being a strict vegetarian and not smoking or drinking alcohol, or even coffee or tea. It's a bit harder to explain why I don't eat onions, garlic, or mushrooms, so I just skip the topic. When people see you're a principled person, conversations can sometimes go a little deeper, into philosophy. If you're lucky, you'll be able to share some Krsna consciousness—but not if you're in any way hypocritical.
Spreading Krsna's Mercy Around
When you're excited about Krsna consciousness you'll want to share it with others. But though my employees have always known I'm a devotee of Krsna, I've never been able to share this fact with a client. So I take great satisfaction in seeing to it that my clients receive prasadam. Prasadam is a wonderful way to share Krsna. Don't overlook your chances. Every time I visit a client I take some prasadam along, and every year I send prasadam packages during the holiday season. People love prasadam. Although prasadam does not necessarily get business for me, it helps make my relationships with clients more personal, and it makes me feel I'm fulfilling, at least to some degree, my obligation to spiritually help the people I meet.
And since you have to spend many hours a day with your co-workers, think about how you can inject Krsna consciousness into your workplace. Many sincere souls are just waiting to hear about Krsna, and you have knowledge other people don't. So at least with your co-workers, don't be shy. If someone asks what you're reading or chanting or doing with your life, tell them. You can be proud and confident, because you have something of true, lasting value to offer them.
Give Some Of Those Fruits
Switching from full-time service at the temple to working a job was hard for me. I'd become accustomed to offering for Krsna's pleasure everything I did. It made me feel free from the bondage of actions and reactions. I thought that working to pay rent was going to generate karma for me. Though I took consolation in remembering that I was working to support a family of devotees, was trying to be a devotee myself, and was still doing some service for the temple, somehow I wasn't fully satisfied with that. I felt uneasy about spending so many hours of my life in work not directly related to Krsna.
Now I've become more settled about the loss of so many hours, because I regularly give Krsna some of the fruits of my labor—money. That offering makes my ordinary work devotional service. If possible, we should give some time to help spread Krsna consciousness—there's always plenty to do. But if we have no time, we should at least spare some of that precious commodity we earn and engage it directly for Krsna. We don't have to look far to find wonderful projects to support, with project directors we can trust to spend the money properly and do valuable service.
I make monthly contributions to three ISKCON projects and yearly contributions to another four or five. And there are dozens more. Choose a project that inspires you, decide on a monthly amount you can give, even if it's only a little, and pay it every month with the rest of your bills. By serving Krsna in this way, you and your family will derive great satisfaction and spiritual benefit. Helping those directly engaged in spreading Krsna consciousness will make you dear to Krsna's devotees and dear to Krsna.
Keep Krsna In The Center
If you live anywhere near a temple, visit often, daily if possible. Ask what you can do to help. Association with like-minded devotees will help you advance in Krsna consciousness. In fact, you may find, as I have, that the only way to stay firm in your vows is to associate with devotees who share your convictions.
When you're with devotees, stick to talking about Krsna. They're the only ones you can talk with confidentially, so don't get sidetracked into mundane talk. By Krsna's grace I live only a few miles from a temple, so I go every day. And I have the special benefit of being married to a serious devotee. Seek association wherever you can find it, even if only through the mail or by reading Srila Prabhupada's books.
The stricter we are in the matters I've mentioned, the more we'll be protected from material influences. Even the slightest inattention can create havoc and spiritually set us back. Some-times we may not even notice for years that we've strayed. We can't afford to take that kind of risk. No amount of material pleasure or financial security can match the pleasure of reconnecting with Krsna. So seek that relationship with Krsna by being pure in your activities, if necessary by recommitting yourself to a stricter devotional life. Don't get diverted to pursuing pleasure and security, only to find out later that even if you achieve them your happiness isn't there. You may lose your chance to fully develop, in this lifetime, your relationship with Krsna. As Prabhupada has said, spiritual life is like a razor's edge—a little carelessness can mean bloodshed.
Making the commitment to a pure life may not be easy. It requires focus, determination, and clarity about your goals. But making that commitment is possible and desirable. So do whatever is needed—make whatever sacrifice or change, however big—to ensure that you keep Krsna in the center of your life. The results will be glorious and fulfilling.
The choice is yours. Will it be business as usual for who knows how many births? Or will you cut the tie with the material energy even while working within it? Make a stand: "It's not business as usual"—at least it doesn't have to be.
The worldwide activities of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
Devotees in New York City held their first annual Srila Prabhupada Family Reunion on July 10, twenty-eight years from Srila Prabhupada's founding of ISKCON. The reunion took place at 26 Second Avenue, in the storefront where ISKCON started.
The Bhaktivedanta Archives has published a new set of books, titled Collected Teachings of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The seven-volume set contains all of Srila Prabhupada's lectures not found in two previously published sets: Collected Lectures on Srimad-Bhagavatam (eleven volumes) and Collected Lectures on Bhagavad-gita (seven volumes). To order, see page 54.
Devotees have consecrated the ground for a temple they will build this year in Alachua, Florida. The temple is meant to meet the needs of the Alachua devotee community, which in the last few years has grown from less than two dozen devotees to more than 250. Alachua is also home for the offices of BTG.
Children from ISKCON's school in Dallas performed a Krsna conscious play for 150 religious leaders at a recent Dallas interfaith gathering.
Devotees in Zagreb, Croatia, now worship Deities of Gaura-Nitai (Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu). About a hundred guests attended the installation ceremony in May.
Devotees in Armenia report being subjected to ongoing religious repression and harassment. The reports attribute the problems to the Armenian government and the Armenian Church. Scriptural books meant for distribution have been seized, the reports say, and religious organizations outside the official Armenian Church have been subjected to repressive bureaucratic restrictions.
The Union Minister for Urban Development has presented the Great Master's Award to Mr. A. P. Kanvinde, the main architect for the ISKCON-Hinduja Glory of India project. Mr. Kanvinde received the award for his distinguished contributions to Indian architecture.
Devotees in Secunderabad recently organized a three-day youth seminar on "Vedic Science and Its Benefits to Modern Students." Eighty students and several faculty members attended from local colleges.
A noted South African artist who had become a devotee of Krsna passed away in Vrndavana during the spring. Three years earlier, Arca Vigraha Devi Dasi, a disciple of Giriraja Swami, had traveled to Vrndavana after becoming terminally ill. While there she inspired visiting devotees to begin the work of setting up a clinic to treat terminally ill devotees in Vrndavana. During her last months, she was fully absorbed in hearing Srila Prabhupada's books and the Hare Krsna maha-mantra.
More than six thousand people enjoyed prasadam and celebrations at the annual Festival of the Chariots. The focal point of the festival: the Jagannatha deities discovered in a dingy temple on the northern end of the island ten years ago.
Businessmen in South Africa sponsored the distribution of about 100,000 copies of Bhagavad-gita As It Is for Gita Week, the week of August 21. This ISKCON-organized "Gitathon" made books available to high school and university students unable to afford them, especially students in black areas. The devotees in South Africa plan to make the Gitathon an annual event.
More than sixty-thousand people attended a three-day festival at ISKCON Durban for Janmastami (Lord Krsna's appearance day) and the appearance day of Srila Prabhupada.
Durban will celebrate the Festival of the Chariots December 15-19.
Devotees in West Africa try to grow whatever they eat and make whatever they use. They grow food for themselves and for prasadam distribution. Their cottage industries make many things devotees usually have to get from India—drums, hand cymbals, shawls, bead bags, and Deities.
News From Vrndavana
The main gate to ISKCON's Krsna-Balarama temple is now open again, for the first time since 1979. The gate was closed for the construction of Srila Prabhupada's samadhi, the monument that marks the place where his body is buried. The samadhi construction, inside and out, has been completed. But work on the museum, opposite the samadhi, has halted due to a shortage of funds. Still needed to get the job done: about $30,000. Anyone interested in helping should get in touch with Kadamba Kanana Dasa, the president of ISKCON Vrndavana.
ISKCON Vrndavana has acquired an acre of land adjacent to the Gurukula and the temple. The land has a house on it, and several rooms on a boundary wall. Temple offices and residences for celibate men will shift from the Gurukula to the new land, freeing for the Gurukula 35% more space than it now has.
The temple has also purchased three acres of land on Bhaktivedanta Swami Road, across from the Sharaf Hospital. The land will be used for temple guesthouses.
Also acquired: an old Rajasthani summer palace in the area known as Dan Gati, at the foot of Govardhana Hill. It will serve as an asrama for visiting ISKCON devotees.
The Mayapur-Vrindavan Trust has completed the first group of apartments on its land, near the ISKCON temple. The apartments are being leased to devotees who wish to reside in Vrndavana. More apartments are still available. For information, contact Kirtiraja Dasa, P.O. Box 1445, Alachua, Florida, 32615.
ISKCON is planning to build a large hall for cultural programs and distribution of prasadam. The site: ISKCON's land next to the Gurukula on Bhaktivedanta Swami Road. The work at hand: raising funds for the project. The goal: to finish the building in 1996.
The Vrndavana Institute for Higher Education will hold its next round of courses in January.
Let Hindus Share All Our Freedoms
A protest over one of Britain's important shrines deserves the support of those who believe in liberty.
By Lord William Rees-Mogg
LAST THURSDAY evening I was walking past the Liberal Democrat headoffice in Cowley Street, a quiet Queen Anne street just behind Westminster Abbey. There were two Hindu monks standing outside the office, and some yellow posters placed against the railings. I stopped to talk to them, to find out why they were conducting a hunger strike outside the Liberal Democrats building. The protest was held not with any hostile intent but in the hopes that the Liberal Democrats on Hertsmere District Council would support Bhaktivedanta Manor's planning problems. There was a larger demonstration of Hindus outside Parliament earlier in the week.
As we talked, one of the monks continued to pray, while the other acted as spokesman. The scene was a peaceful one; the spokesman argued his case with gentleness and moderation, showing understanding for those who are opposed to the Hindus. The planning question now has a 20-year history. In 1973 the Bhaktivedanta Manor was bought for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness by George Harrison, who had been one of the four Beatles. The house is a large mock-Tudor building, built about 100 years ago. It is now a Hindu temple and a theological college for 50 student priests. The Hare Krishnas claim that it is now "the most important Hindu shrine in Britain", and on certain festivals it attracts congregations of 20,000 people or more.
The founder of this shrine of Radha and Krishna was Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who had been instructed by his spiritual master in 1922 to take the message of Krishna to the West. Although he died in India in 1977, his rooms at the Manor are themselves regarded as a separate shrine, and it attracts many visitors. The work of the manor as a theological college is important to Hindus throughout Britain. Most British temples have to bring in priests from India, but these priests do not always find it easy to communicate with young Hindus who have been born in this country. The primary function of the manor is similar to that of an Anglican theological college or a Roman Catholic seminary.
The success of the manor has, however, created the planning difficulties; the shrines have become a magnet for Hindu worshippers. In 1973 Watford Rural District Council decided there was no need for a change of planning consent, as the manor had previously been used as a training lodge for nurses. In the late 1970s the growth of the outside congregations, particularly on festival days, led to discussions with the new Hertsmere council, and a large car park was built inside the 17- acre grounds in 1983. At the same time a Section 52 planning agreement was signed, "allowing the use of the manor for public worship and festivals" under certain conditions. On six festival days unlimited congregations were allowed, while the Society for Krishna Consciousness agreed not to arrange ceremonies likely to attract more than 1,000 people on any other day.
This Section 52 agreement became the cause of the dispute. One might think that the Section 52 agreement was itself oppressive. No Christian shrine, established before the planning laws came into effect, is subject to such an agreement. In 1986, Hertsmere district went to the High Court for an injunction, alleging breaches of the agreement. It had employed private detectives to stand outside the manor to count how many people entered, in one case dividing them into "coloured persons" and "white persons". There was of course nothing in the Section 52 agreement which referred to the ethnic origin of the congregation. The council lost its case; the court found that there had been no breach because the authorities at the manor had in fact scheduled no special event on that particular day. Thereupon Hertsmere council unilaterally revoked the Section 52 agreement and issued an enforcement order prohibiting all festivals and public worship. That, on the face of it, was a thoroughly undesirable use of the planning powers to restrict the freedom of public worship at an established religious centre.
Worse was to come. In 1987, the society appealed to the Department of Environment, and the appeal was rejected. Attempts were made to find an alternative site for a temple in the same area, but they failed on planning grounds. The society then proposed to draw all the traffic away from the local village of Letchmore Heath, where there has been considerable congestion, particularly on festival days, by developing a new access route at the rear of the property.
Tomorrow Hertsmere district, which is now a hung council, will be considering this application for a new route, which would solve the worst part of the congestion problems. If it does not accept this route, the enforcement order will come into effect. Public Hindu worship at the manor is already technically illegal, and it would then become so in fact.*
One can understand the resentment in the village at the manor attracting more than 20,000 Hindus on six festival days in the year, and large numbers on other days. There are similar inconveniences caused by such events as the Glastonbury Festival or the Epsom Derby, both of which attract large crowds. The local authority would certainly have been justified if it had insisted at an earlier stage that a route to the manor should be developed which bypassed the village. Yet the balance of public sympathy should lie with the manor and the Hindu community. The original Section 52 agreement was an interference with worship. It was abrogated after the council had lost an application to the courts. The society has offered an alternative route which would greatly improve the traffic situation. The manor is an important training college for Hindu priests. If it attracts very large congregations on festivals, that demonstrates its importance to Hindu life in Britain. It is a centre of worship and deserves to be respected as such.
Apart from quite legitimate concern about traffic and numbers, there has been colour prejudice, which may have influenced the council. It is regrettable that the Department of the Environment, which should take a more detached view, has contributed so little to resolving the problem.
The council should now make every effort to overcome any difficulties about the new access. During the period when the council's conduct was most open to criticism, it was under Conservative control. The Conservatives ought to take the lead now in trying to remedy past failures. Before the 1994 council elections, the council had negotiated approval of the new entrance at the rear of the grounds. The elections deferred that, but the Liberal Democrats should support the new plan, even though local opinion is divided.
There are always practical problems to be worked out, although British planning rules tend to be stifling and obstructive. The principle, however, is clear. Freedom of worship is part of the tolerance which is a core belief of British life. The Hindus are one of the largest non-Christian communities in Britain. Their freedom to worship demands not only our tolerance, but our active support. It would be an outrage if Canterbury Cathedral were to be closed to worship because it caused congestion in the narrow medieval streets of that city. It will not be less of an outrage if Bhaktivedanta Manor is closed to worship and it will incidentally do particular damage to Britain's reputation in India.
The Vedic statements are self-evident. Whatever is stated there must be accepted. If we interpret according to our own imagination, the authority of the Vedas is lost.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu
To prepare oneself for the next life is common sense, and it is a principle of the Vedic civilization, but presently people throughout the world do not believe in a next life. Even influential professors and other educators say that as soon as the body is finished, everything is finished. This atheistic philosophy is killing human civilization.
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Just as a deer, because of ignorance, cannot see the water within a well covered by grass, but runs after water elsewhere, the living entity covered by the material body does not see the happiness within himself, but runs after happiness in the material world.
An unnamed brahmana
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.
Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami
What relish can there be for material enjoyment when we are exposed to hunger, thirst, disease, decrepitude, emaciation, growth, decline, and death. The universe is tending to decay—grass, trees, animals spring up and die. Mighty men are gone, leaving their joys and glories. Beings still greater than these have passed away. Vast oceans have dried, mountains have been thrown down, the polar star displaced, the cords that bind planets rent asunder, the whole earth deluged with flood. In such a world, what relish can there be in fleeting enjoyments? Living in such a world, are we not like frogs jumping in a dried-up well?
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura
The great personality Brahma, with great attention and concentration of mind, studied the Vedas three times, and after scrutinizingly examining them, he ascertained that attraction for the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna is the highest perfection of religion.
For a person who has suitable shoes on his feet, there is no danger even when he walks on pebbles and thorns. For him, everything is auspicious. Similarly, for one who is always self-satisfied there is no distress; indeed, he feels happiness everywhere.