Krsna Consciousness, The Matchless Gift
Table of Contents
Spiritual Knowledge Through Krsna
The aim of this Krsna consciousness movement is to bring all living entities back to their original consciousness. All living entities within the material world are, to varying degrees, afflicted with a type of madness. This Krsna consciousness movement aims at curing man of his material disease and reestablishing his original consciousness. In a Bengali poem a great Vaisnava poet has written, "When a man is haunted by ghosts, he can only speak nonsense. Similarly, anyone who is under the influence of material nature should be considered haunted, and whatever he speaks should be considered nonsense." One may be considered a great philosopher or great scientist, but if he is haunted by the ghost of maya, illusion, whatever he theorizes and whatever he speaks is more or less nonsensical. Today we are given the example of a psychiatrist who, when requested to examine a murderer, proclaimed that since all the patients with whom he had come in contact were more or less crazy, the court could excuse the murderer on those grounds if it so desired. The point is that in the material world it is very difficult to find a sane living entity. The prevailing atmosphere of insanity in this world is all caused by the infection of material consciousness.
The purpose of this Hare Krsna movement is to bring man back to his original consciousness, which is Krsna consciousness, clear consciousness. When water falls from the clouds, it is uncontaminated like distilled water, but as soon as it touches the ground it becomes muddy and discolored. Similarly, we are originally pure spirit soul, part and parcel of Krsna, and therefore our original constitutional position is as pure as God's. In Bhagavad-gita Sri Krsna says:
"The living entities in this conditional world are My fragmental parts, and they are eternal. But due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind." (Bg. 15.7)
Thus all living entities are part and parcel of Krsna. By Krsna it should always be remembered that we are speaking of God, Krsna denoting the all-attractive Supreme personality of Godhead. As a fragment of gold is qualitatively the same as a gold reservoir, so the minute particles of Krsna's body are therefore qualitatively as good as Krsna. The chemical composition of God's body and the eternal spiritual body of the living entity is the same--spiritual. Thus originally, in our uncontaminated condition, we possessed a form as good as God's, but just as rain falls to the ground, so we come in contact with this material world, which is manipulated by the external material energy of Krsna.
When we speak of external energy or material nature, the question may be raised, "Whose energy? Whose nature?" Material energy or nature is not active independently. Such a concept is foolish. In Bhagavad-gita it is clearly stated that material nature does not work independently. When a foolish man sees a machine he may think that it is working automatically, but actually it is not--there is a driver, someone in control, although we sometimes cannot see the controller behind the machine due to our defective vision. There are many electronic mechanisms which work very wonderfully, but behind these intricate systems there is a scientist who pushes the button. This is very simple to understand: since a machine is matter, it cannot work on its own accord but must work under spiritual direction. A tape recorder works, but it works according to the plans and under the direction of a living entity, a human being. The machine is complete, but unless it is manipulated by a spirit soul, it cannot work. Similarly, we should understand that this cosmic manifestation which we call nature is a great machine and that behind this machine there is God, Krsna. This is also affirmed in Bhagavad-gita where Krsna says:
"This material nature is working under My direction, O son of Kunti, producing all the moving and unmoving beings, and by its rule this manifestation is created and annihilated again and again." (Bg. 9.10)
There are two kinds of entities--the moving (such as human beings, animals and insects) and nonmoving (such as trees and mountains). Krsna says that material nature, which controls both kinds of entities, is acting under His direction. Thus behind everything there is a supreme controller. Modern civilization does not understand this due to lack of knowledge; it is the purpose of this Society for Krsna consciousness therefore to enlighten all people who have been maddened by the influence of the three modes of material nature. In other words, our aim is to awaken mankind to its normal condition.
There are many universities, especially in the United States, and many departments of knowledge, but they are not discussing these points. Where is the department for this knowledge that we find given by Sri Krsna in Bhagavad-gita? When I spoke before students and some faculty members at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the first question raised was: "Where is the technological department which is investigating the difference between a dead man and a living man?" When a man dies, something is lost. Where is the technology to replace it? Why don't scientists try to solve this problem? Because this is a very difficult subject matter, they set it aside and busily engage in the technology of eating, sleeping, mating and defending. However, Vedic literatures inform us that this is animal technology. Animals are also trying their best to eat well, to have an enjoyable sex life, to sleep peacefully, and to defend themselves. What then is the difference between man's knowledge and animal's knowledge? The fact is that man's knowledge should be developed to explore that difference between a living man and a dead man, a living body and a dead body. That spiritual knowledge was imparted by Krsna to Arjuna in the beginning of Bhagavad-gita. Being a friend of Krsna's, Arjuna was a very intelligent man, but his knowledge, as all men's, was limited. Krsna spoke, however, of subject matters which were beyond Arjuna's finite knowledge. These subjects are called adhoksaja because our direct perception by which we acquire material knowledge fails to approach them. For example, we have many powerful microscopes to see what we cannot see with our limited vision, but there is no microscope that can show us the soul within the body. Nevertheless, the soul is there.
Bhagavad-gita informs us that in this body there is a proprietor. I am the proprietor, and others are the proprietors of their bodies. I say, "My hand," but not "I hand." Since it is "my hand," I am different from the hand, being its owner. Similarly, we speak of "My eye," "My leg," "My this," "My that." In the midst of all of these objects which belong to me, where am I? The search for the answer to this question is the process of meditation. In real meditation, we ask, "Where am I? What am I?" We cannot find the answers to these questions by any material effort, and because of this all the universities are setting these questions aside. They say, "It is too difficult a subject." Or they brush it aside: "It is irrelevant." Thus engineers direct their attention to creating and attempting to perfect the horseless carriage and wingless bird. Formerly, horses were drawing carriages and there was no air pollution, but now there are cars and rockets, and the scientists are very proud. "We have invented horseless carriages and wingless birds," they boast. Although they invent imitation wings for the airplane or rocket, they cannot invent a soulless body. When they are able to actually do this, they will deserve credit. But such an attempt would necessarily be frustrated, for we know that there is no machine that can work without a spirit soul behind it. Even the most complicated computers need trained men to handle them. Similarly, we should know that this great machine, which is known as the cosmic manifestation, is manipulated by a supreme spirit. That is Krsna. Scientists are searching for the ultimate cause or the ultimate controller of this material universe and are postulating different theories and proposals, but the real means for knowledge is very easy and perfect: we need only hear from the perfect person, Krsna. By accepting the knowledge imparted in Bhagavad-gita, anyone can immediately know that this great cosmic machine, of which the earth is a part, is working so wonderfully because there is a driver behind it--Krsna.
Our process of knowledge is very easy. Krsna's instruction, Bhagavad-gita, is the principal book of knowledge given by the adi-purusa Himself, the Supreme primeval person, the Supreme personality of Godhead. He is indeed the perfect person. It may be argued that although we have accepted Him as a perfect person, there are many others who do not. Rut one should not think that this acceptance is whimsical; He is accepted as the perfect person on the evidence of many authorities. We do not accept Krsna as perfect simply on the basis of our whims or sentiments. No--Krsna is accepted as God by many Vedic authorities like Vyasadeva, the author of all Vedic literatures. The treasure house of knowledge is contained in the Vedas, and their author, Vyasadeva, accepts Krsna as the Supreme personality of Godhead, and Vyasadeva's spiritual master, Narada, also accepts Krsna as such. Narada's spiritual master, Brahma, accepts Krsna not only as the Supreme person but the supreme controller as well--isvarah paramah krsnah: "The supreme controller is Krsna."
There is no one in the creation who can claim that he is not controlled. Everyone, regardless of how important or powerful, has a controller over his head. Krsna, however, has no controller; therefore He is God. He is the controller of everyone, but there is no one superior to Him, no one to control Him; nor is there anyone equal to Him, no one to share His platform of absolute control. This may sound very strange, for there are many so-called gods nowadays. Indeed, gods have become very cheap, being especially imported from India. people in other countries are fortunate that gods are not manufactured there, but in India gods are manufactured practically every day. We often hear that God is coming to Los Angeles or New York and that people are gathering to receive Him, etc. But Krsna is not the type of God manufactured in a mystic factory. No. He was not made God, but He is God.
We should know then on the basis of authority that behind this gigantic material nature, the cosmic manifestation, there is God--Krsna--and that He is accepted by all Vedic authorities. Acceptance of authority is not new for us; everyone accepts authority in some form or another. For education we go to a teacher or to a school or simply learn from our father and mother. They are all authorities, and our nature is to learn from them. In our childhood we asked, "Father, what is this?" and father would say, "This is a pen," "These are spectacles," or "This is a table." In this way from the very beginnings of life a child learns from his father and mother. He learns the names of things and the basic relations of one thing to another by questioning his parents. A good father and mother never cheat when their son inquires from them; they give exact and correct information. Similarly, if we get spiritual information from an authority and if the authority is not a cheater, then our knowledge is perfect. If we attempt to reach conclusions by dint of our own speculative powers, however, we are subject to fall into error. The process of induction, by which, reasoning from particular facts or individual cases, one can arrive at a general conclusion, is never a perfect process. Because we are limited and our experience is limited, it will always remain imperfect.
If we receive information from the perfect source, Krsna, and if we repeat that information, then what we are speaking can also be accepted as perfect and authoritative. The process of parampara or disciplic succession is this very process of hearing from Krsna or from authorities who have accepted Krsna and repeating exactly what they have said. In Bhagavad-gita Krsna recommends this process of knowledge:
imam rajarsayo viduh
"This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way." (Bg. 4.2)
Formerly knowledge was passed down by great saintly kings who were the authorities. In previous ages, however, these kings were rsis-- great learned scholars and devotees--and because they were not ordinary men the government which they headed worked very nicely. There are many instances in Vedic civilization of kings who attained perfection as devotees of God. For example, Dhruva Maharaja went to the forest to search out God and by practice of severe penance and austerity found God within six months. Although he was only a five-year-old prince with a very delicate body, he was successful because he followed the directions of his spiritual master, Narada. The first month Dhruva Maharaja was in the forest, he simply ate some fruits and vegetables once every three days and drank a little water every six days. He finally restricted his inhalation of air and stood for six months on one leg only. After he executed these severe austerities for half a year, God became manifest before him, eye to eye. It is not necessary for us to practice such severe austerities, but simply by following in the footsteps of Vedic authorities we also can see God eye to eye. This vision of God is the perfection of life.
The Krsna consciousness process is based on austerity, but it is not very difficult. There are restrictions governing eating and sex life (only prasadam, food first offered to Krsna, is taken, and sex is restricted to married life), and there are other regulations which facilitate and foster spiritual realization. It is not possible in these days to imitate Dhruva Maharaja, but by following certain basic Vedic principles, we can make advancement in spiritual consciousness, Krsna consciousness. As we advance, we become perfect in knowledge. What is the use in becoming a scientist or a philosopher if we cannot say what our next life will be? A realized student of Krsna consciousness can very easily say what his next life is, what God is, what the living entity is and what his relationship with God is. His knowledge is perfect because it is coming from perfect books of knowledge such as Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.
This then is the process of Krsna consciousness. It is very easy, and anyone can adopt it and make his life perfect. If someone says, "I'm not educated at all, and I cannot read books," he is still not disqualified. He can still perfect his life by simply chanting the maha-mantra: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare. Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Krsna has given us a tongue and two ears, and we may be surprised to know that Krsna is realized through the ears and tongue, not through the eyes. By hearing His message, we learn to control the tongue, and after the tongue is controlled, the other senses follow. Of all the senses, the tongue is the most voracious and difficult to control, but it can be controlled simply by chanting Hare Krsna and tasting Krsna prasadam, food offered to Krsna.
We cannot understand Krsna by sensual perception or by speculation. It is not possible, for Krsna is so great that He is beyond our sensual range. But He can be understood by surrender. Krsna therefore recommends this process:
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah
"Give up all varieties of religiousness, and just surrender unto Me; and in return I shall protect you from all sinful reactions. Therefore, you have nothing to fear." (Bg. 18.66)
Unfortunately, our disease is that we are rebellious--we automatically resist authority. Yet although we say that we don't want authority, nature is so strong that it forces authority upon us. We are forced to accept the authority of nature. What can be more pathetic than a man who claims to answer to no authority but who follows his senses blindly wherever they lead him? Our false claim to independence is simply foolishness. We are all under authority, yet we say that we don't want authority. This is called maya, illusion. We do, however, have a certain independence--we can choose to be under the authority of our senses or the authority of Krsna. The best and ultimate authority is Krsna, for He is our eternal well-wisher, and He always speaks for our benefit. Since we have to accept some authority, why not accept His? Simply by hearing of His glories from Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam and by chanting His names--Hare Krsna--we can swiftly perfect our lives.
Getting Out the Material Mire
Our subject matter is most sublime: the glorification of the holy name of God. This subject was discussed by Maharaja Pariksit and Sukadeva Gosvami, who noted that a brahmana, who was very fallen and addicted to all kinds of sinful activities, was saved simply by chanting the holy names of Krsna. This is found in the Sixth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, an epic work by Vyasadeva describing the pastimes of Lord Krsna and elaborating on the philosophy of Krsna consciousness.
In the Fifth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, the universal planetary systems are very fully explained. Within the universe there are lower, middle and higher planetary systems. Actually, not only the Bhagavatam but all religious scriptures contain descriptions of hellish or lower planetary systems and heavenly or higher systems. Srimad-Bhagavatam gives evidence of where these planets are and indicates how far they are from this planet, just as astronomers have calculated how far the moon and other heavenly bodies are from earth. Similarly, the Bhagavatam contains descriptions of the various planets.
Even on this planet we experience different climatic conditions. In temperate countries such as the United States, the climate is different from that of a tropical country like India. just as there are environmental differences on this planet, there are other planets which have far different atmospheres and environments. After hearing a description of such planets from Sukadeva Gosvami, Pariksit Maharaja said:
yathaiva narakan narah
tan me vyakhyatum arhasi
"Sir, I have heard from you about the hellish planets. Men who are very sinful are sent to those planets." (Bhag. 6.1.6)
Pariksit Maharaja was a Vaisnava (devotee), and a Vaisnava always feels compassion for others' distress. For instance, when Lord Jesus Christ appeared, he was greatly aggrieved by the miserable conditions of the people. Regardless of the country or sect to which they belong, all Vaisnavas or devotees--any people who are God conscious or Krsna conscious--are thus compassionate. Therefore to blaspheme a Vaisnava, a preacher of God's glories, is a great offense.
Krsna never tolerates offenses committed at the lotus feet of a pure Vaisnava. A Vaisnava, however, is always ready to forgive such offenses. Krpambudhi: A Vaisnava is an ocean of mercy. Vanca-kalpa-taru: Everyone has desires, but a Vaisnava can fulfill all desires. Kalpa-taru refers to a tree in the spiritual world which is called a wish-fulfilling tree. In this material world a particular type of fruit can only be gotten from a particular type of tree, but in Krsnaloka, as well as in all the other planets in the spiritual sky, all the trees are spiritual and will yield whatever one desires. That is described in the Brahma-samhita (cintamani prakara-sadmasu kalpa-vrksa). A pure Vaisnava is compared to such a wish-fulfilling tree, for he can bestow a matchless gift upon a sincere disciple--Krsna consciousness.
A Vaisnava is addressed as maha-bhaga, which means "fortunate." One who becomes a Vaisnava and is God conscious is understood to be greatly fortunate. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the chief exponent of Krsna consciousness in this age, has explained that the living entities in various planetary systems all over the universe are rotating in different species of life. A living entity can go wherever he likes--to heaven or to hell--simply by preparing himself for either place. There are many heavenly planets, many hellish planets, and many species of life. Padma Purana estimates the species of life to be 8,400,000, and the living entity is rotating or wandering through these species and creating bodies according to his mentality in his present life. "As you sow, so shall you reap," is the law that governs here. Caitanya Mahaprabhu says that out of these numberless living entities who are transmigrating in the material world, one may be fortunate enough to take to Krsna consciousness. Krsna consciousness is being distributed freely everywhere, yet not everyone takes to it, especially in this age of Kali. Because of this, Srimad-Bhagavatam characterizes people in the age of Kali as unfortunate. Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu says that only those who are fortunate take to this Krsna consciousness and thus attain a pleasant and blissful life of knowledge.
It is the duty of a Vaisnava to go from door to door to try to get unfortunate people to accept good fortune. A Vaisnava thinks, "How can these people be delivered from their hellish life?" That was also Maharaja Pariksit's inquiry. "Sir," he said, "you have described that because of one's sinful activities he is put into a hellish condition of life or in a hellish planetary system. Now, what are the methods by which such a person can be saved?" This is a very important question. When a Vaisnava comes, when God Himself comes, or when God's sons or His very confidential devotees come, their only mission is to save sinful men who are suffering. They have knowledge of how to do this. When Prahlada Maharaja met Lord Nrsimhadeva, he said:
naivodvije para duratyaya-vaitaranyas
soce tato vimukha-cetasa indriyartha-
maya-sukhaya bharam udvahato vimudhan
"My dear Lord," Prahlada began, "I am not very anxious for my own deliverance." At this point we may contrast this attitude with that of the Mayavadi philosophers who are very careful that their personal salvation is never interrupted. They often think, "If down, and my realization will be finished." Therefore they do not come forward to preach. Only the Vaisnavas come, even at the risk of falldown--but they do not fall down. A Vaisnava is even willing to go to hell to deliver conditioned souls. This is also Prahlada Maharaja's mission. He went on to say: "I am not very anxious about living in this material world. I have no anxiety for myself because somehow or other I have been trained to be Krsna conscious always." Because Prahlada was Krsna conscious, he was confident that in his next life he was going to Krsna. It is stated in Bhagavad-gita that if one executes the regulated principles of Krsna consciousness carefully, it is certain that he will reach the supreme destination in his next life. Prahlada Maharaja continues: "There is only one source of anxiety for me. I am anxious for those who are not Krsna conscious. For myself I have no anxiety, but I am thinking of them." And why aren't people Krsna conscious? Maya-sukhaya bharam udvahato vimudhan. The rascals have created a humbug civilization for temporary happiness.
Maya-sukhaya. Actually this is a fact. We have succeeded in creating a humbug civilization. Every year so many cars are being manufactured, and for that purpose so many roads have to be excavated, prepared and repaired. This creates problems after problems, and therefore it is maya-sukhaya, illusory happiness. We are trying to manufacture some way to be happy, but we only succeed in creating other problems. The United States has the world's largest number of cars, but that does not solve any problems. We have manufactured cars to help solve the problems of life, but we often experience that this also creates other problems. Once we create cars, we must travel thirty or forty miles just to meet our friends or go to a doctor. We can even go from New York to Boston in less than an hour by plane, but it takes even longer than that just to get to the airport. This situation is called maya-sukhaya. Maya means false, illusory. We try to create a very comfortable situation, but we only succeed in creating another uncomfortable situation. This is the way of the material world; if we are not satisfied by the natural comforts offered by God and nature, and we want to create artificial comforts, then we have to create discomfort also. Most people, ignorant of this fact, think that they are creating a very comfortable situation, but in actuality they end up traveling fifty miles to go to the office to earn a livelihood and fifty miles to come back.
Due to such conditions, Prahlada Maharaja says that these vimudhas, materialistic persons, have unnecessarily burdened themselves simply for temporary happiness. Vimudhan, maya-sukhaya bharam udvahato. Therefore in Vedic civilization it is recommended that one free himself from material life, take sannyasa, the renounced order, and execute devotional service with no anxiety.
The taking of the renounced order, however, is not always necessary. If one can execute Krsna consciousness in family life, that is also recommended. Although Bhaktivinoda Thakura was a family man and magistrate, he still executed devotional service most excellently. Dhruva Maharaja and Prahlada Maharaja were also grhasthas, householders, but they trained themselves in such a way that even as householders they were not faced with interruptions in their service. Therefore Prahlada Maharaja said, "I have learned the art of always remaining in Krsna consciousness." What is that art? Tvad-virya-gayana-mahamrta-magna-cittah: simply glorifying the victorious activities and pastimes of the Lord. The word virya means "very heroic." By reading Srimad-Bhagavatam, we can come to understand that Krsna's activities, His fame, His associates and everything else about Him are all heroic. In this connection, Prahlada Maharaja said: "I am certain that wherever I go, I can glorify Your heroic activities and be saved. There is no question of my falling down, but I am simply anxious for those who have created a type of civilization in which they are always busy working hard. I am thinking of them." Prahlada further says:
prayena deva munayah sva-vimukti-kama
maunam caranti vijane na parartha-nisthah
naitan vihaya krpanan vimumuksa eko
nanyam tvad asya saranam bhramato 'nupasye
"My dear Lord, there are many saintly persons and sages who are very interested in their own liberation. They live in solitary places like the Himalayan mountains, they do not talk to anyone, and they are always afraid of mixing with ordinary people in the cities and becoming disturbed or maybe even falling down. They think, "Better let me save myself." I regret that these great saintly persons do not come to the cities where people have manufactured a civilization based on constant hard work. Such saints are not very compassionate, but I am anxious for these fallen people who are unnecessarily working so hard simply for the gratification of the senses." (Bhag. 7.9.44)
Even if there were some point in working that hard, such people do not know what it is. All they know is the sex urge and the brothels that gratify this urge. However, Prahlada Maharaja has compassion for such people: naitan vihaya krpanan vimumuksa eko. "My Lord, I do not need salvation alone. Unless I take all these fools with me, I shall not go." Thus he refused to go into the kingdom of God without taking all the fallen souls with him. This is a Vaisnava. Nanyam tvad asya saranam bhramato 'nupasye: "I simply want to teach them how to surrender unto You. That's all. That is my goal."
Surrender is thus emphasized because a Vaisnava knows that as soon as he surrenders, the path is clear.
naivodvije para duratyaya-vaitaranyas
"Somehow or other, let them all bow down before Krsna." This is a very simple method. All one has to do is bow down before Krsna with faith and say, "My Lord Krsna, I was forgetful of You for so long, for so many lives. Now I have come to consciousness of You. please accept me." That is all. If one simply learns this technique and sincerely surrenders himself to the Lord, his path is immediately opened. This is the aim of a real Vaisnava.
A Vaisnava is always thinking about how the fallen conditioned souls can be delivered and is always involved in making plans to do so. The Gosvamis, the chief disciples of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, were such Vaisnavas, and were thus described by Srinivasa Acarya:
lokanam hita-karinau tribhuvane manyau saranyakarau
vande rupa-sanatanau raghu-yugau sri-jiva-gopalakau
"The six Gosvamis--Sri Sanatana Gosvami, Sri Rupa Gosvami, Sri Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami, Sri Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami, Sri Jiva Gosvami and Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami--are very expert in scrutinizingly studying all the revealed scriptures with the purpose of establishing eternal religious principles for the benefit of all human beings. They are always absorbed in the mood of the gopis and are engaged in the transcendental loving service of Radha and Krsna."
With similar Vaisnava compassion, Pariksit Maharaja told Sukadeva Gosvami: "You have just described the different types of hellish life. Now, tell me how those who are suffering can be delivered. Kindly explain this to me." Adhuneha maha-bhaga yathaiva narakan narah nanogra-yatanan neyat tan me. The word narah refers to human beings, or those who are fallen. Narakan narah nanogra-yatanan neyat tan me: "How can they be delivered from their fierce miseries and horrible pains?" That is typical of a Vaisnava heart. Maharaja Pariksit also said, "Somehow or other they have fallen down to a hellish life, but that does not mean that they should remain in that condition. There must be some means by which they can be delivered, so kindly explain those means."
Sukadeva Gosvami replied:
na ced ihaivapacitim yathamhasah
krtasya kuryan mana-ukta-panibhih
dhruvam sa vai pretya narakan upaiti
ye kirtita me bhavatas tigma-yatanah
"Yes, I have already described various hellish conditions typical of a severe and painful life. The point is that one has to counteract such a life." (Bhag. 6.1.7)
How can this be done? There are various ways in which sinful activities can be committed. One is by the mind. If a person thinks of committing some sinful activity and thus makes a plan--"I shall kill that man"--that is also considered to be sinful. When the mind is thinking, feeling and willing, then there is action. In certain areas of the United States, a dog owner is responsible according to law if his dog barks at someone passing on the road. Although the dog simply barks, the owner is held responsible. The dog is not responsible because it is an animal, but because the owner of the animal has made the dog his best friend, he is responsible by law. Similarly, just as the barking of a dog may be considered unlawful, offensive speech may also be considered sinful, for it is just like barking. The point is that sinful activities can be committed in so many ways--one may think of them, or one may speak sinfully, or one may actually commit a sin. In any case, they are all considered sinful activities. Dhruvam sa vai pretya narakan upaiti: One has to suffer punishment for such activities.
People do not believe in a next life because they want to avoid botheration and punishment, but the next life cannot be avoided. It is a well known fact that we must act according to law, or we will be punished. If one commits criminal activities, the state will punish him. Sometimes, however, a criminal may escape punishment by the state, but this is not the case with God's law. One can cheat others, commit theft and hide, thereby saving himself from the punishment of the state, but one cannot save himself from the superior law, the law of nature. It is very difficult because there are many witnesses: the daylight is witness, the moonlight is witness, and Krsna is the supreme witness. Thus one cannot say, "I am committing this sin, but no one can see me." Krsna is the supreme witness sitting within the heart, and He not only notes what one is thinking and doing, but He also gives the living entity facility. If one wants to do something in order to satisfy his senses, Krsna gives all facility. This is stated in Bhagavad-gita. Sarvasya caham hrdi sannivistah: "I am sitting in everyone's heart." Mattah smrtir jnanam apohanam ca: "From Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness."
In this way Krsna gives us a chance. If we want Krsna, He will give us a chance to have Him, and if we don't want Krsna, He will give us a chance to forget Him. If we want to enjoy life forgetting Krsna, forgetting God, Krsna will give us all facility so that we can forget, but if we want to enjoy life in Krsna consciousness, Krsna will give us the chance to make progress. That is up to us. If we think that we can be happy without Krsna consciousness, Krsna does not object to that. Yathecchasi tatha kuru. After advising Arjuna, He simply said, "Now I have explained everything to you. Whatever you desire, you can do." Arjuna replied immediately, karisye vacanam tava: "Now I shall execute Your order." That is Krsna consciousness.
God does not interfere with our tiny independence. If we want to act according to the order of God, then He will help us. Even if one falls down sometimes, if one becomes sincere, thinking, "From this time I shall remain Krsna conscious and execute His orders," then Krsna will help him. In all respects, even if one falls down, he will be excused and given more intelligence. This intelligence will say, "Don't do this. Now go on with your duty." But if one wants to forget Krsna, if he wants to become happy without Krsna, the Lord will give so many chances to enable him to forget Him life after life.
Pariksit Maharaja said: "It is not that if I say there is no God that there will be no God or that I will not be responsible for what I do." The atheists deny God due to their sinful activities. If they thought that there were a God, they would shudder at the thought of punishment; therefore they deny His existence. When rabbits are attacked by larger animals, they close their eyes and think, "I am not going to be killed," but they are killed anyway. Similarly, we may deny the existence of God and His laws, but still God and His laws are there. In the high court, one may say, "I don't care for the law of the government," but he will be forced to accept the government law. If one denies the state law, he will be put into prison and duly punished. Similarly, one may foolishly decry the existence of God by various means ("There is no God," or "I am God"), but ultimately one is responsible for all his actions, both good and bad.
According to the law of karma, or the law governing activities, if we act properly and perform pious activities, we are awarded by good fortune, and if we act sinfully we have to suffer. Therefore Sukadeva Gosvami says:
tasmat puraivasv iha papa-niskrtau
yate ta mrtyor avipadyatatmana
dosasya drstva guru-laghavam yatha
bhisak cikitseta rujam nidana-vit
"You should know that you are responsible, and, according to the gravity of your sins, you should accept some type of atonement as described in the sastras or scriptures."(Bhag. 6.1.8)
Just as doctors are sought when one is diseased, according to the Vedic way of life there is a class of brahmanas to whom one should go for prescribed atonement for sinful activities. There are different types of atonement. If a person commits a sin and counteracts it by penance, that is atonement. There are examples of this in the Christian Bible. Sukadeva says that one has to execute the prescribed atonement according to the gravity of his sinful activities. A physician may prescribe an expensive medicine or a cheap medicine according to the gravity of the disease. For a headache, he may simply prescribe an aspirin, but if there is some severe illness he may prescribe a surgical operation which will cost thousands of dollars. Similarly, sinful activities are diseases, so one should follow the prescribed cures to become healthy.
By accepting the chain of birth and death, the soul accepts a diseased condition. The soul is not subject to birth, death or disease because it is pure spirit. In Bhagavad-gita Krsna says that a soul has no birth (na jayate) and that it has no death (mriyate).
na jayate mriyate va kadacin
nayam bhutva bhavita va na bhuyah
ajo nityah sasvato 'yam purano
na hanyate hanyamane sarire
"For the soul there is never birth or death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain." (Bg. 2.20)
Modern civilization is in dire need of an educational system to give people instructions on what happens after death. In actuality the present educational system is most defective because unless one knows what happens after death, one dies like an animal. An animal does not know that he is subject to death or that he is going to have to take another body. Human life, however, should be more elevated. One should not simply be interested in the animalistic functions of eating, sleeping, defending and mating. A living entity may have an abundant supply of food for eating, or many nice buildings for sleeping, or good arrangements for sex life, or a good defense to protect him, but this does not mean that he is a human being. A civilization which is based on these activities should be known to be animalistic. Since animals are also interested in these functions, what is the difference between human life and animal life if a human being does not go beyond them?
The distinction can be made when a human being becomes inquisitive and asks, "Why have I been put into this miserable condition? Is there any remedy for it? is there perpetual eternal life? I do not want to die, nor do I want to suffer. I want to live very happily and peacefully. Is there a chance for this? What is the method or science by which this can be achieved?" When these questions are asked, and steps are taken to answer them, our human civilization is the result. If the questions never arise, then that civilization should be known as animalistic. Animals and animalistic human beings are simply interested in continuing the process of eating, sleeping, mating and defending, but in actuality this process is forced to break down. The fact is that there is no real defense because no one can protect himself from the hands of cruel death. For instance, Hiranyakasipu, who wanted to live forever, underwent severe austerities, but he was foiled in the end by the Lord Himself in the form of a lion-man, Nrsimhadeva, who killed Hiranyakasipu with His claws. So-called scientists are now claiming that some time in the future we shall stop death by scientific methods, but this is simply another crazy utterance. Stopping death is not at all possible. We may make great advancements in scientific knowledge, but there is no scientific solution to the fourfold miseries of birth, death, old age and disease.
One who is intelligent should be eager to solve these four principal problems--birth, death, old age and disease. No one wants to die, but there is no remedy. Everyone has to die. Everyone is very anxious to stop the skyrocketing increase of population by employing contraceptive methods, but still birth is going on. There is no stoppage of death, and there is no stoppage of birth. Nor can diseases be stopped, nor can old age, despite all of the latest inventions in medicine.
One might think that he has solved all the problems of his life, but where is the solution to these four problems of birth, death, old age and disease? That solution is Krsna consciousness. Every one of us is giving up his body at every moment, and the last phase of giving up this body is called death. But Krsna also says:
janma karma ca me divyam
evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma
naiti mam eti so 'rjuna
"One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna." (Bg. 4.9)
What happens to such a person? Mam eti--He returns to Krsna. If we are to go to Krsna, we must prepare a spiritual body. That preparation is the process of Krsna consciousness. If one keeps himself in Krsna consciousness, he gradually prepares his next body, a spiritual body, which will carry him immediately to Krsnaloka, Krsna's abode, and he will become happy living there perpetually and blissfully.
Learning to love
Contamination from sinful activity requires proportionate atonement. That is the prescription of the scriptures. Sukadeva Gosvami says that if one accepts atonement before death, in his next life he will not fall down. If he does not atone, he will carry with him the resultant reactions of his sinful activities and will have to suffer. According to law, if a man kills someone he must himself be killed. The idea of a life for a life is not a very new concept but can be found in the Manu-samhita, the Vedic lawbook for mankind, where it is stated that when a king hangs the murderer, the murderer is actually benefited, for if he is not killed, he will carry the reaction for his murder and will have to suffer in so many ways.
The laws of nature are very subtle and are very diligently administered, although people do not know it. In the Manu-samhita the concept of a life for a life is sanctioned, and it is actually observed throughout the world. Similarly, there are other laws which state that one cannot even kill an ant without being responsible. Since we cannot create, we have no right to kill any living entity, and therefore man-made laws that distinguish between killing a man and killing an animal are imperfect. Although there are imperfections in man-made laws, there cannot be defects in the laws of God. According to the laws of God, killing an animal is as punishable as killing a man. Those who draw distinctions between the two are concocting their own laws. Even in the Ten Commandments it is prescribed, "Thou shall not kill." This is a perfect law, but by discriminating and speculating men distort it. "I shall not kill man, but I shall kill animals." In this way people cheat themselves and inflict suffering on themselves and others. In any case, however, God's laws will not excuse such behavior.
Everyone is God's creature, although in different bodies or dresses. God is considered the one supreme father. A father may have many children, and some may be intelligent and others not very intelligent, but if an intelligent son tells his father, "My brother is not very intelligent; let me kill him," will the father agree? Simply because one son is not very intelligent and the other desires to kill him to avoid the burden, the father will never agree. Similarly, if God is the supreme father, why should He sanction the killing of animals who are also His sons? In Bhagavad-gita God declares to Arjuna that all I am their seed giving father," the Lord says. just as in ordinary material procreation the father gives the seed and the mother develops the body by supplying the necessary blood to the embryo, similarly, the living entities, parts and parcels of the supreme father, are impregnated by the Lord in material nature.
The dimension of the spirit soul is very minute and is given in the scriptures as kesagra--one ten thousandth the portion of the tip of a hair. We can hardly imagine a very small point divided into thousands of parts. In other words, it is so minute that it cannot be perceived even by the most powerful microscope. Thus the dimension of the spiritual spark is so minute that it is invisible to mundane vision. All of this information is given in the scriptures, but because we do not have the proper vision, we cannot see. Although our material eyes cannot perceive the dimension of the soul, the soul is nonetheless within the body, and as soon as it departs, it takes another body according to its work.
One should always consider that behind all these activities is superior superintendence. The living entity works in the material world just as the office worker works at his job, and a service record is kept of his performance. The living entity does not know what the opinion of his superior is, but his service record is kept in the office nonetheless, and according to his activities he is awarded promotion or increment of pay, or sometimes he may be demoted or even fired. Similarly, for all our activities there are witnesses; therefore it is said in the scriptures that the living entities are under superior supervision and that they are rewarded and punished according to their work. Now we have human bodies, but in the next life we may not have them; we may have something else, better or lower. The type of body is decided by the living entity's superiors. Generally the living entity does not know the science of how the spirit soul transmigrates from one body to another.
The spirit soul transmigrates even in the duration of one life as the body changes. When the body is first manifest in the womb of the mother, it is very small, just like a pea, and it gradually develops nine holes--two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, one mouth, one genital, and one rectum. In this way the body develops, and as long as it needs to develop within the mother's womb, it remains there. When it is sufficiently developed to go outside, it comes out and grows. Growth entails changing of the body. This change cannot be understood because it is imperceivable to the living entity. In childhood we had small bodies which now no longer exist; therefore it can be said that we have changed our bodies. Similarly, because of the nature of material things, we have to change this body when it ceases to work. Every material thing deteriorates, and like a broken machine or an old piece of cloth the body becomes useless after a certain length of time.
Although this process of growth is always taking place, the educational system in modern universities, though considered advanced, unfortunately does not deal with this. Actually there is no education without spiritual knowledge. One can learn to earn bread, eat, sleep and mate without a formal education. Animals are not educated--they are not technicians, and they have no university degrees--but they are also eating, sleeping, mating and defending. If the educational system simply teaches these processes, it does not deserve the name of education. Real education enables us to understand what we are. As long as man does not develop his consciousness by understanding the truth of the self, all of his actions will be performed in the mode of ignorance. A human life is meant for victory over the laws of material nature. Actually, we are all trying to attain that victory in order to counteract the onslaught of material nature. The ultimate victory is to conquer birth, death, disease and old age, but we have neglected this important point.
If the educational system dealt with the proper utilization of what God is supplying, it would improve. All the fruits and grains we eat are given by God, who supplies food to all living entities. In Srimad-Bhagavatam it is stated, jivo jivasya jivanam: "One living entity is food for another." (Bhag. 1.13.47) Animals without hands are food for animals with hands, such as ourselves. Animals with no legs are food for animals with four legs. Grass is a living entity, but it has no legs with which to move, and thus it is eaten by cows and other animals. Such nonmoving entities are food for moving animals, and in this way the world is in a constant struggle between exploiters and exploited. The weaker is exploited by the stronger; this is nature's law. Traditionally, Vaisnavas, or devotees of Krsna, do not eat meat. This is not just for the sake of vegetarianism, but for the furtherance of God consciousness. In order to become God conscious, one must follow some rules and regulations. Of course one has to eat, but the proposal is that one should eat remnants of foodstuffs that are offered to Krsna. This is also the philosophy of Bhagavad-gita, wherein Krsna says:
patram puspam phalam toyam
yo me bhaktya prayacchati
tad aham bhakty-upahrtam
"If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it." (Bg. 9.26)
It is not that Krsna is hungry and is begging food from us. The purpose of this offering is to create a loving transaction. Krsna wants this transaction: "You love Me, and I'll love you." As God, Krsna's energy creates and sustains everything, so why should he beg a leaf, a fruit and a little water from us? He will be very pleased, however, if we offer him a piece of fruit, a leaf and water with love, saying, "Krsna, I am so poor that I cannot secure anything. I have secured this fruit and a leaf. Kindly accept them." Such an offering would make Krsna very glad. If He eats what we offer, our life will be successful, for we will actually make friends with Krsna. Fruit, flowers and water can be secured practically in any part of the world by any man, poor or rich, and can be offered. We should remember then that it is not vegetarianism which is important, nor is it that God is in need of anything. The important point is that we simply have to try to learn how to love Krsna.
Love begins with this give and take. We give something to our lover, he gives something to us, and in this way love develops. When we create any loving transaction with any boy or girl, man or woman, we give and take. Thus Krsna is teaching us how to give and take. Krsna is begging us: "Try to love Me. Learn how to love Me. Offer something to Me."
"Sir," we may say, "I have nothing to give You."
"Oh, you cannot collect a piece of fruit, a flower, a leaf or a little water?"
"Oh yes, why not? Anyone can collect this."
This then is the method of Krsna consciousness which allows one to make friends with Krsna. We can enter into any number of relationships with Krsna. We can become a direct servant of Krsna, or in the highest stages we can become Krsna's father, mother or lover. Krsna is prepared to establish a loving relationship with all living entities. In actuality this relationship is already there because He is the supreme father and we are His parts and parcels. Because the son is part of the body of the father, the relationship between them cannot be broken; it may be forgotten for some time, but as soon as one recognizes his father or son, immediately affection develops. Similarly, we are eternally related to Krsna, but at the present moment this relationship is simply forgotten or suppressed. Consequently we think that we have no relationship with Krsna, but this is not a fact. Because we are integral with Him, because we are part and parcel of Him, our relationship with Him is eternal. That relationship simply has to be revived, and that revival is this process of Krsna consciousness.
At present we are under the sway of a different consciousness. One person is thinking that he is Indian, another is thinking that he is American, and someone else is thinking, "I am this," or "I am that." In this way we create so many artificial identities, but our actual identity should be, "I am Krsna's." When we think in this way, we are thinking in Krsna consciousness. Only in this way can universal love among all living entities be established. Krsna is related to everyone as eternal father, and consequently when we establish a Krsna conscious relationship, we become related to everyone. When one marries, he automatically establishes a relationship with the spouse's family. Similarly, if we reestablish our original relationship with Krsna, we will establish our true relationship with everyone else. That is the ground for real universal love. Universal love is artificial and cannot endure unless we establish our relationship with the center. One is American if he is born in America, and thus other Americans become members of his family, but if he is born elsewhere, he has no relationship with Americans. On the mundane platform all relationships are relative. Our relationship with Krsna, however, is eternal and not subject to time and circumstance. When we reestablish our relationship with Krsna, the questions of universal brotherhood, justice, peace and prosperity will be answered. There is no possibility of realizing these higher ideals without Krsna. If the central point is missing, how can there be brotherhood and peace?
In Bhagavad-gita the peace formula is clearly given. We have to understand that Krsna is the only enjoyer. The consciousness of this is developed in a Krsna conscious temple where the central point of all activities is Krsna. All cooking is carried on for Krsna, not for one's own purposes. Ultimately we shall eat the prasadam (offered food), but when we cook we should think that we are cooking for Krsna and not for ourselves. When the members of a temple go into the streets, they do not do so for their own sake but to distribute Krsna conscious literatures in order to make people aware of Krsna's presence. All monies acquired are spent for Krsna, in spreading His message in so many ways. Such a style of life, in which everything is done for Krsna, promotes the development of Krsna consciousness within the living entity. Our activities may remain the same; we simply have to understand that we are acting for Krsna and not for our personal satisfaction. In this way we can come to our original consciousness and be happy. Unless one is established in his original consciousness, which is Krsna consciousness, he is certain to be crazy to some degree. Everyone who is not Krsna conscious is to be considered crazy because he exists on a platform which is temporary and transient. Since we as living entities are eternal, temporary activities are not our concern. Our engagements should be eternal because we are eternal, and that eternal engagement is the rendering of service to Krsna in love.
Krsna is the supreme eternal, and we are subordinate eternals. Krsna is the supreme living entity, and we are subordinate living entities. The finger is part and parcel of the total body, and its eternal function is to serve the body. Indeed, that is the very purpose for the finger, and if it cannot serve the whole body, it is diseased or useless. Similarly, as part and parcel we have to serve Krsna and be subordinate to Him because as the supreme father He supplies all our necessities. Such a life of subordination to Krsna is a normal life and is a life of actual liberation. Those who try to deny Krsna and live outside of any relationship to Him are actually leading a sinful life.
Sukadeva Gosvami and Maharaja Pariksit discussed this subject, and Pariksit Maharaja was anxious to know how the conditioned souls could be saved from their hellish lives. It is the natural desire of a Vaisnava to save suffering humanity. Generally others do not care whether people suffer or not, but a Vaisnava, a devotee of the Lord, is always thinking of how to alleviate the fallen condition of the people. Christians believe that through His crucifixion Lord Jesus Christ assimilated all the sinful activities of the world's people. A devotee of the Lord is always thinking of how to assimilate the sufferings of others. A similar devotee was Vasudeva Datta, who was Lord Caitanya's associate. He told the Lord: "Now that You have come, kindly deliver all people on this earth and take them to Vaikuntha, the spiritual world. And if You think that they are so sinful that they cannot be delivered, please transfer all their sins unto me. I shall suffer for them." This is a Vaisnava's mercy. However, it is not that Jesus Christ or Vasudeva Datta should make a contract for our sins and that we should go on committing them, for this is a most heinous proposal. A Vaisnava or devotee may suffer for all humanity, but the human race or a particular devotee's disciples should not take advantage of this facility and continue to commit sins. One should, rather, realize that since Lord Jesus Christ or Vasudeva Datta suffered for him, he should stop committing sins.
Factually everyone is responsible for his own sinful activities. Therefore Sukadeva Gosvami recommends, tasmat puraivasv iha papa-niskrtau: In order to free oneself from all the reactions of sinful activities, as long as one is embodied, he should atone. Yateta mrtyor avipadyatatmana dosasya drstva guru-laghavam yatha bhisak cikitseta rujam nidana-vit. According to one's sinful activities, he should accept a program of atonement. As mentioned before, there are different atonements for different sinful activities. In any case, before death one should perform atonement so that he does not carry sinful activities into his next life and have to suffer then. If some atonement for our sinful activities is not performed, nature will not excuse us. We will have to suffer the effects of our sins in the next life. Such bondage to one's material activities is called karma-bandhanah.
yajnarthat karmano 'nyatra
loko 'yam karma-bandhanah
tad-artham karma kaunteya
"Work done as a sacrifice for Visnu has to be performed, otherwise work binds one to this material world. Therefore, O son of Kunti, perform your prescribed duties for His satisfaction, and in that way you will always remain unattached and free from bondage." (Bg. 3.9)
One may kill an animal to enjoy eating it, but he will be bound by such an action. Thus in one's next life he will become a cow or a goat, and the cow or goat will become a man and eat him. This is the Vedic statement, and as with all Vedic statements, one may believe it or not. Unfortunately, at present people are educated in such a way that they do not believe in the next life. Indeed, it seems that the more "educated" one becomes, the less he believes in God, in God's law, in the next life and in sinful and pious activities. Thus modern education is simply preparing men to become animals. If there is no education to teach a human being what he is and whether or not he is this body, he remains no better than an ass. An ass also thinks, "I am this body," as do other animals. Thus if a man thinks in the same way, how is he different from any other animal? Srimad-Bhagavatam states:
yasyatma-buddhih kunape tri-dhatuke
sva-dhih kalatradisu bhauma ijya-dhih
yat tirtha-buddhih salile na karhicij
janesv abhijnesu sa eva go-kharah
"For one who accepts the body--which is made of three elements--as his self, who has an affinity for intimate bodily relationships with his wife and children, who considers his land worshipable and who accepts the waters of holy places of pilgrimage but does not take advantage of the knowledge of the saintly persons there, is to be considered to be in illusion and no better than an ass or a cow." (Bhag. 10.84.13) According to Ayur Veda, the material body is composed of three elements, kapha-pitta-vataih--mucus, bile and air. Within the body there is complex machinery which transforms food into liquid. There are so many complicated bodily processes going on, but what do we know of them? We say, "This is my body," but what do we know about this body? Some people even claim, "I am God," but they do not even know what is going on within their own bodies.
The body is a bag of stool, urine, blood and bones If one believes that intelligence comes out of stool, urine, blood and bones, he is a fool. Can we create intelligence by mixing stool, urine, bones and blood? Nonetheless people still think, "I am this body." Therefore the scriptures say that whoever accepts this body as the self and accepts the bodily relations of wife, children and family as his own, is illusioned. The word kalatra means wife, and adi means beginning. Because a man feels alone, he accepts a wife, and immediately there are children and then grandchildren. In this way there is expansion. Stri means "that which expands," so kalatradisu means"expansions of the self," beginning from the wife. The word bhauma refers to the land of one's birth, which the ignorant consider worshipable (ijya-dhih). People are willing to give up their lives for the land where they were born, but they do not know that land, body, wife, children, country and society really have nothing to do with them. We are spirit soul (aham brahmasmi). This is realization of knowledge, and when we come to this point of knowledge, we become happy.
na socati na kanksati
samah sarvesu bhutesu
mad-bhaktim labhate param
"He who is transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires anything. He is equally disposed to all the living entities, and in that state he achieves pure devotional service unto Me." (Bg. 18.54) One immediately becomes jolly (prasannatma) when he comes to understand "I am spirit soul. I am Brahman. I am not this matter." The sign of this joy is that one no longer feels hankering and lamentation. Within this world everyone is subject to lamentation for that which is lost and hankering for that which must be gained, but real gain is to understand oneself and to know one's own identity.
As long as we maintain the bodily conception of life, we have to abide by the laws of material nature as well as the laws of the state and all other laws. Thus this body is called conditional, because it is subject to different conditions. There are varieties of conditions, and regardless of the condition to which we are subjected, we are responsible. If we do not atone for sinful activities committed while in this body, we will have to suffer in the next body because we will get another body according to karma (yam yam vapi smaran bhavam tyajaty ante kalevaram). That is nature's law. Sukadeva Gosvami therefore recommends that one undergo atonement according to the gravity of his sinful activities. One must follow the methods of atonement prescribed in the sastras, otherwise there is no rescue.
Pariksit Maharaja, who was very intelligent, said, "By atonement one can become free from sinful activity, but suppose a man has committed murder and then is killed-the sinful reaction of his murder is thus neutralized, but it is not guaranteed that in his next life he'll not kill another man." Thus Pariksit Maharaja noted that after atoning, people commit the same sins again. If a man is diseased, the physician may give him medicine and cure him, but it does not guarantee that he will not be attacked again by the same disease. Venereal diseases are often contacted again and again, despite cures, and a thief may steal again and again, despite being repeatedly being thrown into jail. Why is this? Therefore Pariksit Maharaja noted that although atonement may be good for counteracting sinful activities already committed, it does not prevent those sins from being committed again. Everyone can see that a man who commits murder is punished, but seeing this is not enough to deter one from killing. In every scripture and in every lawbook man is warned not to kill, yet no one is concerned with these laws. What is the remedy for this? Drsta-srutabhyam yat papam. By practical experience and by hearing from authorities, everyone knows what sinful activity is, and no one can say, "I do not know what sin is." What is the value of atonement if one commits the same sin again and again after atoning? Kvacin nivartate 'bhadrat kvacic carati tat punah prayascittam ato 'partham manye kunjara-saucavat (Bhag. 6.1.10). When one is being punished, he thinks, "What a mistake I have made! I shall not commit this sin anymore." But as soon as he is out of danger, he again commits the same sin.
Habit is second nature; it is very difficult to break. Sva yadi kriyate raja. tat kim nasnaty upanaham (Hitopadesa): One may seat a dog on a royal throne, but as soon as he sees a shoe, he will immediately jump down and run after it simply because he is a dog. The canine qualities are there, and they cannot be changed simply by putting the dog on a throne. Similarly, we have acquired material qualities by associating with the three modes of material nature--sattva guna, rajo guna and tamo guna--and our habits are formed by association with these three qualities, which are the qualities of goodness, passion and ignorance. If, however, we disassociate ourselves from the three modes of material nature, our real spiritual nature is invoked. That is the process of Krsna consciousness. If one is Krsna conscious, there is no chance of his associating with the three modes of material nature, and when one is conscious of Krsna, one's spiritual nature is automatically invoked. That is the secret. Those who seriously follow the process of Krsna consciousness, though previously habituated to many undesirable things, are able to stay on a platform where there is no material contamination simply by virtue of practicing Krsna consciousness.
Thus Krsna consciousness is an excellent medicine. Unless one comes to awareness of Krsna, the habits he forms in association with the three modes of material nature will continue, and he will not be able to change them. If one actually wants freedom from the repetition of birth and death, he must come to Krsna consciousness. In Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna says:
mam ca yo vyabhicarena
sa gunan samatityaitan
"One who engages in full devotional service, who does not fall down in any circumstance, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman." (Bg. 14.26)
The Krsna consciousness process does not recommend this atonement or that atonement. One can go on experimenting by atoning, but the diseases of the soul will remain unless one comes to the platform of rendering devotional service in love and purifying his life.
Learning Tapasya, Self-Control
If one does not come to Krsna consciousness, he may be relieved for the time being from the reactions of sinful activities, but he will again commit transgressions. Therefore Pariksit Maharaja said: kvacin nivartate 'bhadrat kvacic carati tat punah prayascittam ato 'partham: "Repetitive sinning and atoning seem to me like nothing but a waste of time." He gave the example of an elephant which cleanses his body thoroughly in a lake or reservoir, but as soon as he comes onto shore he takes dust and throws it all over his body and immediately becomes dirty again. Thus Pariksit Maharaja said that although one may cleanse himself in the process of atonement, if he again commits the same sinful acts, what is the use? Therefore the second question put by Pariksit Maharaja to Sukadeva Gosvami is very important: How can one ultimately become free from all contamination brought about by the material modes of nature? If one cannot achieve liberation, what is the use of atonement?
In answer, Sukadeva Gosvami said that merely counteracting karma, fruitive activities, by other activities cannot bring one's miseries to a final end. For example, the United Nations is attempting to establish peace in the world, but they cannot stop war. War breaks out again and again. After the First World War statesmen and diplomats manufactured the League of Nations. Then the Second World War came, and now they have devised the United Nations, but war is still going on. The actual goal is to stop war, but that cannot be done. By one action war is created, and by another action war is stopped for the time being, but again at the next opportunity there is another war. The cycle of sinful activities and atonement is like that. What we actually want is to be free from suffering and war, but that does not happen.
Sukadeva Gosvami said that one kind of war causes a disturbance, and another kind of war stops it for some time, but that is not the ultimate solution to the problem. Sukadeva states that these troubles happen due to ignorance: avidvad-adhikaritvat. Avidvat means "lack of knowledge." Avidvat-adhikaritvat prayascittam vimarsanam. Real atonement is performed in knowledge. Why is there fighting and why are there miseries? Unless these "why" questions, which in the Vedas are called Kena Upanisad, arise in one's mind, one is not fulfilling the proper function of his human life. These questions must arise: "Why am I suffering? Wherefrom have I come? What is my constitutional position? Where shall I go after death? Why am I put into a miserable form of life? Why are there birth, death, old age and disease?"
How can these questions be solved? Sukadeva Gosvami says: nasnatah pathyam evannam vyadhayo 'bhibhavanti hi. evam niyamakrd rajan sanaih ksemaya kalpate. If one wants to actually stop diseased life, he must follow a regulative principle. If a person does not follow the program given by a physician to cure his disease, he cannot be cured. Similarly, if one does not think or act wisely, as Vedic knowledge prescribes, how can he stop the problems of life? Simply by atonement there may be a temporary suppression of difficulties, but they will arise again.
Sukadeva Gosvami says that in material or sinful life we act in a way in which we are forced to commit sins and suffer as a result. This is so, and if we want to stop this cycle of suffering and victimization, we have to advance in knowledge. Ordinary people, or karmis, are fruitive actors who work all day and night to get some enjoyable results and then again suffer. Thus the problems of such karmis are never solved. It is suggested therefore that one elevate himself to the platform of knowledge as prescribed in Srimad-Bhagavatam. The first necessity is tapasya, or acceptance of austerity. If a doctor advises a diabetic patient not to eat but to starve for some days, although no one likes to starve, the patient must voluntarily accept starvation if he wants to be cured. This is tapasya: voluntary acceptance of a miserable condition. The ability to do this is good, and human life is meant for that purpose. Indeed, Vedic culture prescribes tapasya, and one can see many tapasvis undergoing austerities in India. In the winter they stand in water up to their necks and meditate. Standing in water during severe cold is not very comfortable, but they voluntarily do it. In the summer they also ignite fires all around themselves and sit down in the midst of the blazes and meditate. These are examples of severe tapasya undertaken by many ascetics in India.
Some tapasya is certainly required. Without it, one can not advance in spiritual life or knowledge. If we simply engage in the animal propensities of eating, sleeping, mating and defending, not accepting the tapasya process, human life is a failure. If one wants to become an initiated member of our Krsna consciousness society, we first of all ask him to undergo tapasya. In the Western countries especially it is a great tapasya to give up illicit sex life, intoxication, meat-eating and gambling. Although we require only these austerities, it is very difficult to observe them. In England, a wealthy aristocrat inquired from a Vaisnava Godbrother: "Swamiji, can you make me a brahmana?" The Swamiji replied, "Yes, why not? You just have to observe these four principles--no illicit sex, intoxication, gambling and meat-eating." "Impossible," the Britisher replied. Yes, it is impossible, for in Europe or in America self-indulgence is the way of life from the very beginning. Indian gentlemen often come to the West to learn these indulgences, and they think themselves to be thus advancing. Indians are automatically taught tapasya through their Vedic culture, but they come to America to forget that culture and accept another type of life. The real fact is, however, that if one wants to advance in spiritual understanding and solve all the problems of life, he must accept this life of tapasya--austerity and restriction.
Restriction is for human beings, not for animals. We encounter restrictions daily in our common dealings. We cannot drive a car on the left or run a red light without risking apprehension by the law. If a dog, however, walks on the left side of the street or crosses against a red light, it is not punished because it is an animal. The law therefore makes distinctions between human beings and animals because human beings supposedly have advanced consciousness. If we do not follow rules and regulations, we again lapse into animalism. Apparently propaganda is being made celebrating freedom as opposed to a regulated life, but one who sees things as they are can understand that freedom from all restriction is animal life. Therefore Sukadeva Gosvami recommends tapasya. If we want actual freedom from the problems of life, we have to accept a life of austerity. Bondage to material life is the only other alternative.
What is tapasya? What is austerity? The first principal of austerity is brahmacarya, restricted sex life. The real meaning of brahmacarya is complete celibacy, and according to Vedic culture in the beginning of life one should strictly follow the regulations of brahmacarya. When he is grown up, the brahmacari can marry and become grhastha, and as a grhastha he can have sex, but in the brahmacarya life strict celibacy is the rule. In the present age people have become degraded for want of tapasya because they are not taught how to execute tapasvi life. Criticism for its own sake will not do; one must be effectively trained in the life of tapasya.
In the Vedas it is said that those who execute a regulated life of tapasya are brahmanas. Etad aksaram gargi viditvasmal lokat praiti sa brahmanah. etad aksaram gargy aviditvasmal lokat praiti sa krpanah. Everyone is dying, for no one can live here permanently, but one who dies after executing a life of tapasya is a brahmana, and one who dies like a cat or dog, without executing tapasya, is called a krpana. These two words are used frequently in Vedic literature--brahmana and krpana. Krpana means "miser" and brahmana refers to a liberal, broad-minded person. Brahma janatiti brahmanah: One who knows the supreme, the Absolute Truth, is a brahmana, but one who does not know is an animal. This is the difference between animal and man; man, to deserve the name, must be educated to understand the Absolute Truth. Because human life is meant for knowledge, there are schools and colleges, philosophers and scientists and mathematicians. The processes of eating, sleeping, mating and defending need not be taught, for they are learned instinctively. Human life is obviously meant for more. It is meant for tapasya and knowledge.
There are descriptions in the Vedas of brahmacarya, celibacy, which characterize the beginning of a life dedicated to tapasya: Smaranam kirtanam kelih preksanam guhyabhasanam. sankalpo 'dhyavasayas ca kriya-nirvrttir eva ca (Sridhara 6.1.12). To properly execute celibacy, one should not even think or even talk of sex life. Reading modern literature and newspapers which are filled with sexual material is also against the principles of brahmacarya. Similarly, indulging in sex in any way, looking at and whispering with girls, and determining or endeavoring to engage in sex life are all against the principles of brahmacarya. One executes real brahmacarya when all these activities come to a halt.
By austerity, celibacy, and control of the mind and senses one can advance in pure life. Similarly, advancement can be made through charity properly directed. That is called tyaga, renunciation. If one has a million dollars, he should not keep it, but, as long as it is within his jurisdiction, he should spend it for Krsna. Money or energy is properly utilized when it is directed to Krsna.
As soon as one quits his body, all his monetary resources and everything else that he has collected in connection with his body is finished, for the spirit soul transmigrates to another body, and one does not know where the money which he earned in his previous body is being kept or how it is being spent. A person may leave the world declaring how the money should be spent by his sons or heirs, but even if one leaves millions of dollars, in his next life he has no claim to it. Therefore as long as it is in one's hand, it is better to spend it for a good purpose. If one spends it for bad purposes, he becomes entangled, but if he spends it for good purposes, he gets good in return. This is very clearly stated in Bhagavad-gita.
Bhagavad-gita explains that there are three kinds of charity--charity in the mode of goodness, passion and ignorance. A person in the mode of goodness knows where charity should be given. In Bhagavad-gita Krsna says:
samo 'ham sarva-bhutesu
na me dvesyo 'sti na priyah
ye bhajanti tu mam bhaktya
mayi te tesu capy aham
"I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him." (Bg. 9.29)
Krsna is not in want of money, for He is the original proprietor of everything (Isavasyam idam sarvam). But still He asks us for charity. For example, Krsna, in the guise of Vamana, a dwarf brahmana, went to beg from Bali Maharaja. Even though He is sarva-loka-mahesvaram, the proprietor of all the planets, He nonetheless says, "Please give in charity to Me." Why? It is for our interest, for the sooner we return Krsna's money to Krsna, the better situated we will be. Of course this may not be very pleasant to hear, but actually we are all thieves, for we have stolen God's property. If one who has something is not God conscious, it is to be understood that he has stolen God's property. That is the nature of material life. If this is considered thoughtfully and if one comes to real knowledge, he will realize that if we do not understand God, whose property we are using, whatever we possess is stolen property. It is also stated in Bhagavad-gita that if one does not spend his money for yajna, sacrifice, he is understood to be a thief (yo bhunkte stena eva sah). For instance, if one earns a great deal of money but tries to hide it to avoid paying income tax, the government considers him to be a criminal. He cannot say, "I have earned this money. Why shall I pay tax to the government?" No, he must pay or risk punishment. Similarly, in the higher sense everything we have is Krsna's or God's, and it must be utilized in accordance with His desires. We may wish to construct a building, but where do we get the stone, wood and earth that the construction requires? We cannot artificially produce the wood; it is God's property. We cannot produce the metal; we must take it from the mine, which is also God's property. The earth and the bricks which are made from it are also God's. We simply give our labor, but that labor is also God's property. We work with our hands, but they are not our hands but God's, for when the power to use the hand is withdrawn by God, the hand becomes useless.
We should use this great opportunity, human life, to understand all these points which are mentioned in the authoritative books of Vedic knowledge like Srimad-Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita. In the Bhagavatam Sukadeva Gosvami declares that real atonement necessitates thoughtfulness, sobriety and meditation. One must consider whether he is the body or whether he is transcendental to the body, and one must try to know what God is. These ideas are to be studied in Krsna consciousness. We should not be frivolous or waste time. If one wants this knowledge, he has to practice austerity, tapasya, and the beginning of tapasya, as already explained, is brahmacarya--celibacy or restricted sex life. The pivot of material attraction is sex, not only for human society but for animal society also. Sparrows and pigeons have sex three hundred times daily, although they are strict vegetarians, and the lion, which is not a vegetarian, has sex once a year. Spiritual life is not a question of vegetarianism but of understanding higher knowledge. When one comes to the platform of elevated knowledge, he naturally becomes a vegetarian. Panditah sama-darsinah: one who is very highly learned does not distinguish between a learned scholar, a brahmana, an elephant, a dog and a cow. He is sama-darsi; his vision enables him to see them all equally. How is this? He does not see the body but the soul, the spiritual spark (Brahman). He thinks: "Here is a dog, but it is also a living entity, although by his past karma he has become a dog. And this learned scholar is also a living spark, but he has taken good birth because of his past karma." When one comes to that position, he does not see the body, but the spiritual spark, and he does not distinguish between one living entity and another.
Actually we do not make distinctions between carnivores and vegetarians, for the grass has life just as the cow or the lamb. A guideline, however, should be the Vedic instruction given in Isopanisad:
isavasyam idam sarvam
yat kinca jagatyam jagat
tena tyaktena bhunjitha
ma grdhah kasya svid dhanam
"Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one must not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong." (Isopanisad, Mantra 1)
Since everything is the property of the Supreme Lord, one can only enjoy what is allotted to him by the Lord, and one cannot touch another's property. According to Vedic life and according to all Vedic scriptures, a man should live on fruits and vegetables, for his teeth are made in such a way that these can be very easily eaten and digested. Although it is nature's law that one has to live by eating other living entities (jivo jivasya jivanam), one must use discretion. Fruits, flowers, vegetables, rice, grain and milk are made for human beings. Milk, for example, is an animal product, the blood of an animal transformed, but the cow delivers more milk than is needed by her calf because milk is intended for man. Man should simply take the milk and let the cows live, and thus following nature's law, man will be happy. Tena tyaktena bhunjitha: one should take whatever God allots to him and thus live comfortably.
We have to elevate our consciousness through this science of Krsna. Charity is within everyone's heart, but we do not know how to make the best use of it. Whatever we spend in terms of energy should be for Krsna, for it all belongs to Him. By spending for Krsna, one will not be a loser. Krsna is so kind that when we offer Him food, He accepts and yet leaves everything for us to eat. Simply by offering food to Krsna we can become devotees. We need not spend an extra farthing. In the higher sense, everything belongs to Krsna, but if we offer everything to Krsna, we will be elevated. This is a sublime and proven way for advancement in pure life.
Learning Steadiness in Krsna Consciousness
When one reaches the topmost position of material opulence, the tendency for renunciation is natural. There are two tendencies in this material world--bhoga (sense enjoyment) and tyaga (renunciation of this material world). Without guidance, however, one does not know how to renounce. First of all, one wants to enjoy, and when he is frustrated in enjoyment, he renounces. Again, when he is tired of renunciation, he enjoys, like a clock pendulum which swings from side to side. We are thus all vacillating from the platform of enjoyment to the platform of renunciation and back again.
Karmis, fruitive workers, try to enjoy this world and reap the fruits of it. Consequently, they are constantly traveling on expressways all day and night to engage in material enjoyment. On the other hand, there are others, predominantly the discontented youth, who don't want any part of this. Thus the world contains those engaged in bhoga and those engaged in tyaga. However, we will not be happy by following either of these paths because it is not our proper position to either enjoy or renounce. Since everything belongs to Krsna and nothing belongs to anyone else, whatever we possess is actually Krsna's property (isavasyam idam sarvam). Since we have not produced the trees, plants, waters or the land, we cannot claim them. Since we actually have nothing, we can renounce nothing, or, as it is said, naked we come into this world and naked we go out. In the interim we falsely claim, "This is my country, this is my home, this is my wife, these are my children, this is my property, this is my bank balance, etc." Such claims are false because when we come into the world, we come in empty-handed, and when we go out, we go out empty-handed. What then is the meaning of bhoga and tyaga? In the light of the actual facts, they have no actual meaning. Bhoga is thievery, and tyaga, renunciation of what never belonged to us, is a form of lunacy.
In this regard, Krsna gives us this direction: sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja. (Bg. 18.66) Although we have created different types of religion based on bhoga and tyaga, we are thus advised to give up all of them and to surrender unto Krsna. It is not within our power to enjoy or to renounce. When renunciation is recommended in Bhagavad-gita, it refers to renunciation of everything that we falsely claim to possess. A child may take a hundred dollar bill from his father and try to keep it although he may not know how to use it. The father may beg the child, "Dear boy, kindly give it to me." The child does not know that the money actually belongs to the father, nor does he know that he had best hand it to his father, for he simply does not know how to use it. Similarly, Krsna says, "Renounce your work for Me. Renounce your wealth and property for Me." Krsna is not a beggar, for everything belongs to Him, but He does treat us like small children. Compliance to His request to give everything to Him is called tyaga, renunciation, and is one of the means by which one can attain elevation to Krsna consciousness. Austerity, celibacy, equanimity and charity are all required for realization of the ultimate or Absolute Truth. Krsna consciousness is not concerned with the relative truth but with the Absolute. In Srimad-Bhagavatam Vyasadeva offers his obeisances to the Supreme Absolute Truth (satyam param dhimahi). He offers his respects not to the relative categorical truths, but to the summum bonum, the Absolute Truth. It is the duty of brahmanas to practice those qualities by which the Absolute Truth can be realized.
Brahmanas must be qualified by practicing cleanliness, truthfulness, control of the mind and the senses, simplicity, and by cultivating faith in the Vedas and particularly in Bhagavad-gita. When Krsna says, "I am the Supreme Lord," we have to accept Him with faith, not foolishly, but with full knowledge, and practically apply this acceptance in our daily life. A brahmana is not created by birth, but by education, practice and knowledge. It is not a question of birth, but quality, as pointed out by Krsna in Bhagavad-gita:
catur-varnyam maya srstam
tasya kartaram api mam
viddhy akartaram avyayam
"According to the three modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them, the four divisions of human society were created by Me. And, although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the non-doer, being unchangeable." (Bg. 4.13)
One must not only have the qualities of a brahmana, but one should also work as a brahmana, for one's qualities are tested by his work. If one is a qualified engineer but simply sits down at home and does not work, what is his value? Similarly, unless one works as a brahmana, there is no value to his simply saying, "I am a brahmana." One must therefore work as a brahmana by fully engaging in the service of Param Brahman, Krsna, the Supreme Brahman.
How can service to the Absolute Truth be executed? Yamena niyamena ca: the practice of yoga, or linking with the supreme, is based on the principles of regulation and control. Regulation cannot be executed without control; therefore one must be thoughtful and purify himself. If one wants to pass an examination, he has to go to school, follow the principles of the school, and take some pains in his study, and then gradually he comes to be successful. If he plays all day on the street, how can he expect success? Therefore in the process being explained by Sukadeva Gosvami, the first necessity is tapasya, austerity. Even if austerity and brahmacarya are painful because we want to be unrestricted, as soon as we are regulated, what appeared to be painful is in practice not painful.
There are two classes of men--those who are sober (dhira) and those who are extravagant (adhira). When one, in spite of provocation or in spite of the presence of a source of mental agitation, can remain steady in his position, he is called dhira. An example of a dhira is given by Kalidasa Pandita, a great Sanskrit poet who wrote a book called Kumara-sambhava, wherein he has given an example concerning Lord Siva. It appears that when the demigods were fighting the demons and were being defeated, they decided that they could be saved by a commander-in-chief born from the semina of Lord Siva. Lord Siva, however, was in meditation, and to acquire the needed semina was very difficult. They therefore sent Parvati, a young girl, who appeared before Lord Siva and worshiped his genitals. Although this young girl sat before Lord Siva and touched his genitals, Lord Siva was steady in meditation. Kalidasa says, "Here is an example of a dhira, for despite a young girl's touching his genitals, he was undisturbed."
Similarly, someone sent a young prostitute to disturb Haridasa Thakura, and upon hearing her appeals for intercourse, Haridasa Thakura said, "Yes, your proposal is very nice. please sit down and let me finish my chanting, and then we shall enjoy." Morning came and the prostitute became impatient, but Haridasa Thakura replied, "I'm very sorry. I could not finish my chanting. Come tonight again." The prostitute came for three nights, and on the third night she fell down at his feet, confessed her intentions, and pleaded with him, "I was induced to perform this act by a man who is your enemy. Kindly excuse me." Haridasa Thakura then replied, "I know all about that, but I allowed you to come here for three days so that you could be converted and become a devotee. Now take these chanting beads, and go on chanting. I am leaving this place." Here is another example of a dhira who has control of his body (deha), words (vac), and intelligence (buddhi). One's body, words and intelligence should be controlled by one who is dhira and who actually knows the principles of religion.
We have been continuously committing sinful activities since time immemorial, and we do not know when this began, but this life is meant for rectification of all the mistakes that we have committed. If one sets fire to unwanted grass and creepers in a field, they will all be burned. Similarly, by the process of austerity and penance, one can liquidate all sinful activities and become purified. But Sukadeva Gosvami suggests an alternate process: kecit kevalaya bhaktya vasudeva-parayanah. agham dhunvanti kartsnyena niharam iva bhaskarah. Generally, if one leads an austere and pious life of celibacy, equanimity, charity, etc., people will say that he is a very pious man, but simply by becoming Krsna conscious, one can kill all the resultant actions of his past sinful life. A fog disappears as soon as the sun rises, and Krsna rises with the brilliance of thousands of suns.
This process is accepted only by someone who is very fortunate. Caitanya Mahaprabhu therefore said: brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva. guru-krsna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija: " By the grace of Krsna and the spiritual master, a fortunate person, after wandering throughout the universe in different species of life, receives the seed of pure devotional service." Krsna consciousness is meant for the very fortunate, for simply by accepting this one process a person can surpass all the duties of austerity, renunciation, celibacy, etc. Sukadeva Gosvami declares: kecit kevalaya bhaktya: "One who is extremely fortunate takes to the process of pure devotional service." Kevala bhakti refers to pure unalloyed devotional service in which there is no desire but to please Krsna. One should not render devotional service just to increase his income. We want money to become happy, but if we take to Krsna consciousness, automatically we will become so happy that we will neglect money. Money will automatically come. Happiness will come. There is no need to endeavor for these things separately.
It was Dhruva Maharaja who lamented, "How foolish I was that I took to devotional service with a desire for material profit." Ordinarily for material profit one goes to his boss or some rich man or demigod, but a devotee does not go anywhere but to Krsna, even if he has material desires. If one goes to Krsna even for material advantages, the day will come when he forgets material desires, just like Dhruva Maharaja. He was repentant, and said, "I came to Krsna and asked for something material, just like one who has pleased a very rich man and who asks him for a few grains of rice." If a rich man agrees to give us whatever we want, but we ask him only for a few grains of rice, is that very intelligent? Asking Krsna for material benefit is exactly like this. One need not ask Krsna extraneously for material happiness, for material happiness will automatically roll before his very feet, pleading, "Please take me, please take me."
Those who are practicing Krsna consciousness are not in need of the material opulences--wives, children, happiness, home--for all is acquired automatically by the grace of Krsna. There is no need to ask Krsna for these material things, but one should simply request Him: "Please engage me in Your service." In Bhagavad-gita Krsna also promises that if one engages in His service, He will supply what is needed and preserve whatever is already possessed. One of His final instructions to Arjuna indicates total dependence on Him:
mayi sannyasya mat-parah
mac-cittah satatam bhava
"In all activities, and for their results, just depend upon Me, and work always under My protection. In such devotional service, be fully conscious of Me." (Bg. 18.57)
Transcending Designations and Problems
Krsna consciousness is easily achieved by the mercy of Lord Caitanya, but only some are fortunate enough to have the mercy of Lord Caitanya and His disciplic succession. According to Bhagavad-gita:
kascid yatati siddhaye
yatatam api siddhanam
kascin mam vetti tattvatah
"Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth." (Bg. 7.3)
God realization is not possible for animals or for persons who are almost animals, or for animals in the shape of human beings. Contemporary civilization is by in large an assembly of animals because, as stated before, it operates on the basis of the animal propensities. The birds and beasts arise early in the morning and busy themselves trying to find food and sex and trying to defend themselves; at night they look for shelter, and in the morning they fly to a tree to find nuts and fruits. Similarly, in New York City, great hordes of people travel from one island to another by ferry boat or wait for subways in order to go to the office for the purpose of finding food. How is this an advancement over animal life? Although the ferry and subway are always crowded, and many people have to travel forty or fifty miles for bread, the birds are free to fly from one tree to another.
Real civilization is not concerned simply with man's animal needs but with enabling man to understand his relationship with God, the supreme father. One may learn about his relationship with God by any process-through Christianity, through the Vedic literatures or through the Koran--but in any case it must be learned. The purpose of this Krsna consciousness movement is not to make Christians into Hindus or Hindus into Christians but to inform everyone that the duty of a human being is to understand his relationship with God. One must learn this, otherwise he is simply wasting his time by engaging in animalistic propensities. We must all try to love Krsna or God. If one has a process, he should practice it, or he can come and learn this process. One should not begrudge the selection of one process over another. Visad apy amrtam grahyam amedhyad api kancanam. nicad apy uttamam vidyam stri-ratnam duskulad api (Niti-darpana 1.16). Canakya Pandita says that one must catch what is right from any source. If there is a glass of poison with some nectar in it, he says, one should take out the nectar and leave the poison. In the same way, if one finds gold in a filthy place, he should take it. similarly, although according to the Vedic system of education one must be given instruction by intellectual persons like brahmanas, if someone lower on the social scale has learned the truth, one should accept him as a teacher and learn from him. One should not think that just because one is lowly born he should not be accepted as a teacher.
Similarly, if one is serious about understanding God, he should not think, "I am Christian," "I am Hindu," or "I am Muslim." If one is serious about understanding love of God, he should consider which process is practical. One should not think, "Why should I follow Hindu or Vedic scriptures?" The purpose of following the Vedic scriptures is to develop love of God. When students come to America for a higher education, they do not consider the fact that the teachers may be American, German or of other nationalities. If one wants a higher education, he simply comes and takes it. Similarly, if there is an effective process for understanding and approaching God, like this Krsna consciousness process, one should take it.
Not all, but those who are intelligent and fortunate take to this process of devotional service (kevalaya bhaktya), and their only desire is to serve Krsna. From early morning till late at night the devotees are engaged in Krsna's service. This is called kevalaya, pure; for them there is no other business. This process is recommended for all, and it is the perfection of all religious processes. (Sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhoksaje). In Sanskrit, there are two words, para, and apara, which describe the superior (transcendental) and the inferior (material) approaches to religion. In the execution of material dharma, or religion performed for material gain, people generally go to a church or a temple and pray, "God, give us our daily bread." Actually, this need not be asked for, for bread is already provided for everyone. Even the birds and beasts get their bread without having to go to church to ask God for it. Similarly, our bread is also provided, whether we go to church or not. That is not a problem, for no one is dying in the streets of starvation, nor do we find a bird, beast, or even an ant dying of starvation. Food is there, and one need not bother about it. If the brain should he taxed, it should be taxed for Krsna or God. This is the proper utilization of time. There is no scarcity of bread in the Kingdom of God.
Tasyaiva hetoh prayateta kovido na labhyate yad bhramatam upary adhah. Srimad-Bhagavatam says that one should try to attain that which cannot be attained by traveling all over the universe. What is that? Kevalaya bhaktya--pure devotion. By God's arrangement there is sufficient food, land and prospects for food on this planet, but we have arranged things in such a way that in one part of the world people are suffering and in another part they are throwing grains in the ocean. The Vedas say, eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman--the Supreme Person is supplying food to many living entities. The difficulty in this material world is that we take more than we need and thus create our own problems. problems are created by men, led by the so-called politicians. According to nature's way or God's way, everything is complete. According to Sri Isopanisad:
om purnam adah purnam idam
HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada