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751009 - Lecture BG 07.01 - Durban

His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

751009BG-DURBAN - October 09, 1975 - 60:37 Minutes

Prabhupāda: (aside) Fan. You have no fan? Bhagavad-gītā, Chapter Seven, "Knowledge of the Absolute." There are two things: absolute and the relative. This is relative world. Here we cannot understand one thing without the other. As soon as we speak that "Here is son," there must be father. As soon as we say, "Here is husband," there must be wife. As soon as we say: "Here is servant," there must be master. As soon as we say: "Here is light," there must be darkness. This is called relative world. One has to be understood by other, relative terms. But there is another world, which is called absolute world. There the master and the servant, the same. There is no distinction. Although one is master and other is servant, but the position is the same.

So the Seventh Chapter of Bhagavad-gītā is giving us some hint about the absolute world, absolute knowledge. How that knowledge can be attained, that is being spoken by the Absolute, Supreme Person, Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is the Absolute Supreme Person.

īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ
anādir ādir govindaḥ
(Bs. 5.1)

This is the definition of Kṛṣṇa given by Lord Brahmā in his book known as Brahma-saṁhitā, very authorized book. This book was collected by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu from southern India, and He presented it to His devotees when He came back from southern India tour. Therefore we accept this book, Brahma-saṁhitā, as very authoritative. This is our process of knowledge. We receive knowledge from the authority. Everyone receives knowledge from the authority, but general authority and our process of accepting authority is little different. Our process of accepting one authority means he is also accepting his previous authority.

One cannot be authority self-made. That is not possible. Then it is imperfect. I have given this example many times, that a child learns from his father. The child asks the father, "Father, what is this machine?" and the father says: "My dear child, it is called microphone." So the child receives the knowledge from the father, "This is microphone." So when the child says to somebody else, "This is microphone," it is correct. Although he is child, still, because he has received the knowledge from the authority, his expression is correct. Similarly, if we receive knowledge from the authority, then I may be child, but my expression is correct. This is our process of knowledge. We do not manufacture knowledge. That is the process given in the Bhagavad-gītā in the Fourth Chapter, evaṁ paramparā-prāptam imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ (BG 4.2). This paramparā system . . .

imaṁ vivasvate yogaṁ
proktavān aham avyayam
vivasvān manave prāhur
manur ikṣvākave 'bravīt
(BG 4.1)

Evaṁ paramparā. So absolute knowledge can be achieved when we hear from the Absolute. No person in the relative world can inform us about the absolute knowledge. That is not possible. So here we are understanding about the absolute world, absolute knowledge, from the Supreme Person, the Absolute Person. Absolute Person means anādir ādir govindaḥ (Bs. 5.1). He is the original person, but He has no original; therefore absolute. He is not to be understood being caused by somebody else. That is God. So here in this chapter, therefore, it is said, śrī bhagavān uvāca, means Absolute Person . . . Bhagavān means the Absolute Person who does not depend on anyone else.

So Kṛṣṇa says:

mayy āsakta-manāḥ pārtha
yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ
asaṁśayaṁ samagraṁ māṁ
yathā jñāsyasi tac chṛṇu
(BG 7.1)

Throughout the whole world . . . of course, in the human society, advanced human society, Āryan society, there is search after God, the Absolute. And the human life is meant for that purpose. Human life is not meant for wasting like dogs and hogs. The dogs and hogs, they are busy whole day and night to find out, "Where is food? Where is food?" But the human life is not meant for that purpose. The dogs and hogs, they do not know that food is supplied by God, everyone's. That is the Vedic information. Eko yo bahūnāṁ vidadhāti kāmān (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 2.2.13). God is supplying food to everyone. Therefore in the Christian method it is prayed, "O God, give us our . . . Oh Father, give us our daily bread." That is very good idea. But even if you do not ask, the food is there, we should understand. Because the animals, lower than human being, they do not go to church or to temple to ask for daily bread, but they get their bread. The elephants, they eat at a time 40 kg in this African forest, but they are getting their daily food twice. And the ant, it is satisfied with one grain. It is also supplied food. There are 8,400,000 forms of living entities. They are all getting their food without going to the church or to the mosque or praying to the Lord.

So actually, to approach God does not mean that we shall ask Him for our bread. Bread He is supplying. You ask or do not ask, the arrangement is there. Therefore the Bhāgavata says, tasyaiva hetoḥ prayateta kovidaḥ: "Anyone who is expert, he should try to achieve that thing . . ." Tasyaiva hetoḥ prayateta kovido na labhyate yad bhramatām upary adhaḥ (SB 1.5.18). We have, or we are wandering, upary adhaḥ. Upary means up, and adhaḥ means down. There are higher planetary system, there are lower planetary system, there are middle planetary system. Therefore it is called tri-loka, three worlds. So we living entities, according to our different desires and different activities, we are being promoted to the higher, to the lower, or keeping ourself in the middle. This is going on perpetually. But we are not getting information what is the aim of life. Therefore śāstra says that we have traveled so many times—not only once; life after life—in so many forms of life, in so many different planets. but still, we haven't got the information what is the aim of life. We are simply changing one body to another and searching after something, happiness. But we have not received it. Simply we are wandering. So in this human form of life we should try to achieve that thing which we did not get, wandering so many times throughout the whole universe. Tasyaiva hetoḥ prayateta kovido na labhyate yad bhramatām upary adhaḥ.

"Then," one may question, "if I simply try to achieve Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then how my belly problem will be solved?" The answer is, tal labhyate duḥkhavad anyataḥ sukham. It is . . . according to Vedic injunction, you are destined to achieve a certain amount of happiness and certain amount of distress also, because you cannot achieve here in this material world any happiness which is not disturbed. There must be distress. So there are two things: happiness and distress. So as you are getting distress without inviting it . . . nobody invites distress, "Let distress come upon me." Nobody invites, but it comes. Similarly, even if you do not pray for happiness, whatever is destined to you, it will come. So don't bother yourself about the material distress and happiness. Try to achieve Kṛṣṇa consciousness, which you could not achieve in so many lives after life. That is the injunction. That is called absolute knowledge.

So that Kṛṣṇa consciousness achievement, how it can be obtained is being explained by Kṛṣṇa Himself. Therefore it is said, śrī bhagavān uvāca: "The Supreme Personality . . ." Bhagavān means He does not cheat you. Others, they will give you instruction and cheat you, because anyone who is not liberated, he has got four defects of his life: he commits mistake, he is illusioned, he cheats and his senses are imperfect. This is called conditioned soul, everyone. Even big, big men, big, big leaders, they commit so many mistakes. And so far illusion is concerned, everyone is illusioned, because I am not this body, but everyone is thinking, "I am this body." This is called illusion. Dehātma-buddhi. "I am not this body, I am spirit soul." Ahaṁ brahmāsmi. But I am thinking, "I am Indian," "I am American," "I am South African," "I am black," "I am white," "I am fat," "I am thin." This is bodily. This is called illusion. And we invent our ideologies by mental speculation, without having perfect knowledge. We are accustomed to say, "I think," "I think." But "I think"? What I am? All my senses are imperfect, I commit mistake, I am illusioned, and when I say, "I think," what is the use of my thinking? This is cheating. This is cheating.

So any conditioned soul . . . there are two kinds of living entities: the liberated and the conditioned soul. So we should not receive any knowledge from conditioned person. We must receive knowledge from the liberated. So Kṛṣṇa, Bhagavān, the Personality of Godhead—who can be more liberated than Himself? Therefore He says, we should accept it. If you are fortunate enough, then whatever He says, you should accept it. He says that mayy āsakta-manāḥ pārtha yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ (BG 7.1). Everyone, at least human being, advanced human . . . the advanced human being is called Āryan, means advanced. Anyone who is advanced in spiritual knowledge, he is to be called Āryan. So the Āryan civilization, Vedic civilization . . . when Arjuna, I mean to say, denied to fight, Kṛṣṇa accused him that "You are talking like non-Āryans. You are not Āryan." Anārya-juṣṭam, akīrti-karam arjuna (BG 2.2): "You are talking like a non-Āryan, and which will defame your reputation. Don't say like that." So Āryan means one who is advanced in spiritual knowledge. So Kṛṣṇa says that "If you increase your attachment for Me . . ." Mayy āsakta. Mayi āsakta. Āsakta means "attachment." "Simply if you increase your attachment for Me," mayy āsakta-manāḥ, "in such mind . . ." That is called, actually, meditation—the mind is always absorbed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That is meditation.

Dhyānāvasthita-tad-gatena manasā paśyanti yaṁ yoginaḥ (SB 12.13.1). The yogīs, the real yogīs—not these gymnastic yogīs; the real yogīs—they, dhyānāvasthita, they always meditate upon Kṛṣṇa, dhyānāvasthita-tad-gatena manasā, by the mind. Yam . . . dhyānāvasthita-tad-gatena manasā yaṁ paśyanti yoginaḥ. Paśyanti means he sees, actually sees Kṛṣṇa. So this kind of yoga can be attained if we increase our attachment for Kṛṣṇa. Mayy āsakta-manāḥ pārtha yogam. This is yoga, real yoga. Mayy āsakta-manāḥ pārtha yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ. The . . . one should take shelter of Kṛṣṇa or shelter of a person who has taken shelter of Kṛṣṇa. Mad-āśrayaḥ: "One who has taken shelter of Me," or directly. So directly it is not possible. Because Arjuna was fortunate enough that he contacted Kṛṣṇa directly, Kṛṣṇa instructed him directly . . . so it is not possible for everyone. But if we take the shelter of a person who has taken shelter of Kṛṣṇa, that is also perfect. That is called mayy āsakta-manāḥ pārtha yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ. This is perfect yoga. In the Sixth Chapter it is also said that . . . Kṛṣṇa says, yoginām api sarveṣām: "There are different kinds of yogīs, but of all the yogīs," yoginām api sarveṣāṁ mad-gatenāntar-ātmanā, "one who is thinking of Me, Kṛṣṇa," mad-gatena antar-ātmanā . . . antar-ātmanā: within the core of heart he is thinking of Kṛṣṇa. So yoginām api sarveṣāṁ mad-gata antar-ātmanā śraddhāvān (BG 6.47). Śraddhāvān means "with faith"; bhajate, "worships Me"; sa me yuktatamaḥ, "he is first-class yogī. He is yogī."

So this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is teaching people how to become first-class yogī. Sa me yuktatamo mataḥ. Yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ. This is real yogī. To practice yoga . . . yoga means connection. Yoga . . . in India, yoga means "addition," and viyoga means "subtraction," viyoga, viyoga. So we are now viyoga, without any contact with the Supreme Lord, Personality of Godhead, material conditioned life; therefore we have to make connection with Him. That is called yoga. Yoga system means to connect ourself again with God, or Kṛṣṇa. So this practice of yoga, mayy āsakta-manāḥ pārtha, always thinking of Kṛṣṇa, so this process is very easily accomplished by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, if you chant:

Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare
Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare

twenty-four hours. It can be practiced. There is no expenditure, there is no loss, but the gain is very great. We are teaching that. We are known as Hare Kṛṣṇa people all over the world. It is inexpensive, without any loss. If there is a very great gain, why don't you take it? It is . . . you are not paying any price. We are soliciting everyone, "Please chant Hare Kṛṣṇa." So it is open. There is no secrecy. You can take it and see by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa what gain you are gaining. It is practical. It is not to be asked, anyone, "What I am gaining?" It is said, bhaktiḥ pareśānubhavo viraktir anyatra syāt (SB 11.2.42). Bhakti, this is devotional service. Chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra means the beginning of devotional life, the beginning of liberation, simply by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa.

So this is bhakti. There are nine different processes for executing devotional service. The first thing is śravaṇam.

śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ
smaraṇaṁ pāda-sevanam
arcanaṁ vandanaṁ dāsyaṁ
sakhyam ātma-nivedanam
(SB 7.5.23)

So you can execute the nine different processes if possible. If not, you execute eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two—at least one. Then you will be perfect. So this one, simply chanting and hearing . . . if you chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, you will hear also. This process of yoga is recommended in this age.

harer nāma harer nāma harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva nāsty . . .
(CC Adi 17.21)

In the Kali-yuga it is not possible to practice any other system of yoga. Mind is so agitated, you cannot concentrate. But if you chant loudly, "Hare Kṛṣṇa!" your mind will be forced to be drawn and hear Kṛṣṇa. Then mayy āsakta-manāḥ pārtha yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ. If you practice this, then asaṁśayaṁ samagraṁ māṁ yathā jñāsyasi tac chṛṇu (BG 7.1): "If you try to hear Me attentively . . ." Bhagavān uvāca. Who is speaking? Bhagavān, the Supreme Person, the Absolute Person. There is no mistake, there is no cheating, there is no imperfection and there is no illusion. It is perfect.

So if we follow . . . "We follow" means to increase your attachment for Kṛṣṇa. We have got attachment. What is attachment? That is not to be learned. Everyone has got attachment, either he has got attachment for family or for society or for community or for the country, for the nation, and so on, so on, his business, at least for his dog. So attachment there is. One, everyone, can understand what is attachment. But this attachment should be turned over for Kṛṣṇa. Then your life is successful. This is explained here. Mayy āsakta-manāḥ pārtha yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ. (BG 7.1) And if you simply turn your attachment to Kṛṣṇa . . . you know what is attachment. "So then I shall have to give up attachment for my family, for my business?" No. Keep the center attachment in Kṛṣṇa and do whatever you are doing. That's all right.

Just like family. So it does not mean because you have turned your attachment, therefore your family attachment should be withdrawn. No. It will be polished. The family attachment will be polished. If you train your family in Kṛṣṇa consciousness . . . just early in the morning rise up. You can control your family in that way, "Now get up. Take your bath. Have maṅgala-ārati. Then chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, read Bhagavad-gītā. Then take prasādam. Then go to office or work." So in this way, if your mind is in Kṛṣṇa and if you act accordingly, then that is perfection. Sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāṁ tanu-vāṅ-manobhiḥ (SB 10.14.3). Caitanya Mahāprabhu recommended this process, that you stay in your position. There is no question of changing your position. But from that position you become Kṛṣṇa conscious. And the easiest process is: chant Hare Kṛṣṇa. That is not at all difficult, provided we agree to accept it. Then we can gradually understand, "What is God, what I am, what is my relationship with God," and so on, so on. Everything will be clear.

"Everything will be clear" means for the time being our heart is very dirty. We are always full of so many dirty consciousness. It has to be cleansed. This cleansing process is this chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra. Caitanya Mahāprabhu therefore says, ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam (CC Antya 20.12). This Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra means the first business is to cleanse the dirty heart. The dirty heart means rajas-tamas. There are three qualities, three modes of material nature: tamo-guṇa, rajo-guṇa, sattva-guṇa. So generally we are in rajas-tamo-guṇa, ignorance and passion. The ignorance and passion, the symptom is greediness and lusty desires. So this is the dirty things. We have to just cleanse these dirty things, greediness and lusty desires. Then we come to the platform of goodness. And in goodness we can see things as they are. Therefore the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement means trying, the devotees, the followers, to bring him to the platform of goodness, not to stay in the platform of ignorance and passion. That will not help us. Therefore we recommend, who is joining Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement that, "You should give up this habit: illicit sex, intoxication, gambling and meat-eating." These four things will keep me in the lower status of life, and it will not allow me to advance in spiritual understanding. Therefore these things should be given up. And chant Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, minimum sixteen rounds.

In this way you see practically, these European, American boys and girls, they are improving. They are not material attached. They do not go anywhere. They always keep in the temple and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, busy in Kṛṣṇa's service from morning three o'clock, early in the morning, up to ten o'clock. And they are also young men. They must have desires. But bhaktiḥ pareśānubhavo viraktir anyatra syāt (SB 11.2.42). Bhakti is so nice that now they hate any other engagement. This illicit sex, meat-eating and intoxication and gambling, they hate. You bribe them lakhs of rupees, they will not agree. Viraktir anyatra. This is the test of bhakti: virakti, detachment from all these nonsense things. And unless you are purified, you cannot understand God.

So if you . . . that is our only business only business in the human life, to understand God. We have no other business. And if you want to understand God, then you have to become purified. Without being purified . . .

yeṣāṁ tv anta-gataṁ pāpaṁ
janānāṁ puṇya-karmaṇām
te dvandva-moha-nirmuktā
bhajante māṁ dṛḍha-vratāḥ
(BG 7.28)

So it is very easy thing. Simply we have to take to this yoga system, yogaṁ yuñjan mad-āśrayaḥ, under the shelter of Kṛṣṇa or His devotee. Then we shall understand what is God in full, samagram. Samagram means "Full, without any doubt." Other, mental speculators, they are in doubt. They do not know whether there is God or what kind of God He is, what does He do or what is His business, so many things. But these Kṛṣṇa conscious people, they know exactly what is God and where is His address, where is His family. Everything they know, samagram. Samagram and asaṁśaya, without any doubt. Not that, "Yes, I have now come to know God, where He lives, His address and His activity, but it may not be," saṁśaya. No. Asaṁśayaṁ samagram. Asaṁśayaṁ samagraṁ māṁ yathā jñāsyasi tac chṛṇu (BG 7.1). So it is not difficult. If we are actually serious to understand what is God, God is explaining here Himself. You cannot speculate upon God. God is explaining Himself, "This is . . . I am like this." Just like a very big man, if you speculate upon him, "He may be possessing so much wealth, he may be like this, he may be . . ." No. That "may be," may be or may not be. But if that person explains himself, "My dear Mr. Such-and-such, my position is like this. I am like this," then it is very easy.

So take instruction from God to understand God. Then your life will be perfect. And if you understand God, then your all problems solved. Our real problem is repetition of birth and death. That is real problem. That we do not know. We are callous. We do not know what is the position of my real self. That we do not know. This is called ignorance. That instruction is given in the Bhagavad-gītā in the beginning: na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre. This living spirit . . . na jāyate na mriyate vā kadācin na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre (BG 2.20). This, I mean to say, spirit soul is never born. Then what is this birth? The birth is of this body. Dehino 'smin yathā dehe kaumāram (BG 2.13). This change of body . . . we are changing body. But I am the eternal. I know that I had a body of a child. The body is gone. The childhood body is no more existing. But I know that I had a body. This is the proof that I am eternal, the body is changing. This is the way. I was a young man, now I am old man. But I know, "I was young man. My body was like this. I was doing that. But now that is not possible because that body has gone." So similarly, the conclusion is that when this body will be vanquished, I shall accept another body. Tathā dehāntara-prāptiḥ (BG 2.13). This is simple method of understanding the transmigration of the soul. So real problem is that I am eternal, but I am put into such condition that I have to take birth and die, I have to become old and I have to disease. This is the real problem. The modern civilization, they are supposed to be very much advanced. What is the advancement? The real problem is there: you have to accept death. Nobody wants to die, but why death is there? But they are callous. They think, "We have to accept this death" or "This is finished," all vague idea, no real idea.

So if we want to be really learned, if we want to know what is our constitutional position, what is the aim of life, what is God, how we can reestablish our relationship with God, these things are explained in the Bhagavad-gītā very clearly. And if we are intelligent enough, we should take this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement very seriously. And if you want to understand this movement scientifically, philosophically, we have got hundreds of books, all being accepted by educated circle, very logically and very philosophically written. You read them, chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, take advantage of this movement and be successful in your life.

Thank you very much. Hare Kṛṣṇa. (loud applause) Thank you. Any question?

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: Persons who have questions may come up to the front and speak through the microphone. (break)

Indian man (1): . . . and then, as a child is born, he grows up . . . (indistinct) . . . of the right from wrong . . . (indistinct) . . . As he grows up, as he gains knowledge, he knows the rights from the wrongs. Along with this that we do . . . (indistinct) . . . that civilizes . . . (indistinct) . . . now, the question is, in connection with karma, if man has the intelligence . . . if man has the intelligence, and he follows the way of karma apart from the Hindu philosophies and the way for me to live, does one have to, in view of his consciousness and his intelligence, does He give way for the children to come out of darkness, out of . . . (indistinct) . . .? Must I accept death?

Prabhupāda: What is that? What does he say?

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: The question is . . . what is the question?

Indian man (1): My question is, man . . . the question is, what I want to find out . . . (indistinct)

Prabhupāda: What is that question?

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: What is your question?

Indian man (1): Oh, in punishing the intelligence of man, does he know the right from the wrong according to the karma? Does man have to pay one way to others in different forms of life?

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: The question is that does man knows right from wrong because of his karma, or . . .

Prabhupāda: No. Karma may be. Just like you are sent to school, college, to understand the right and wrong. Therefore you must be educated to know what is right and wrong, not that you do like animals, whatever you like. There is education required, and because we have no education, therefore there are so many books of knowledge, Vedic knowledge. You have to take advantage of it, and then you'll understand what is right and wrong. Otherwise not.

Indian man (1): According to the present situation here in South Africa . . .

Prabhupāda: So you can take advantage.

Indian man (1): Man has a very high intelligence . . . (indistinct) . . . but the question is, most of the African people here are not educated in spite of their education. They look upon a man of intelligence for guidance . . .

Prabhupāda: The real education . . . real education is, first of all, you must know what you are. You are this body or something else than the body? Just like when a man dies, his son or relative laments, "Oh, my father has gone away." Now, father is lying there on the bed. Why do you say: "My father has gone away"? The father is lying on the bed. Therefore you did not see who is your father. After death you are realizing that your father is gone away. (loud applause) Then where is your education? You cannot see even your father; then where is your education? This is no education. Therefore you must know, "What I am, what is my father, what is my mother." That is real education.

Indian man (1): You see, the question regarding the . . .

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: Just one question per person . . . (indistinct) . . . anyone else who as a question can come forward.

Indian man (2): Since the Bhagavad-gītā is the confidential message of from Lord Kṛṣṇa to Arjuna, can Swāmījī please explain how is it that Sañjaya is narrating to Dhṛtarāṣṭra, and how it came to pass that Vyāsadeva wrote the Bhagavad-gītā?

Prabhupāda: It is just like television nowadays. You can see things happening thousands of miles away in television, and you can explain to your friends. This is like that. It is a question of seeing power. So now we have got the instrument, television machine. It is not difficult to understand. In the football ground the matches is going on, and it is being relayed in your room. It is like that.

Indian man (3): Swāmījī, of all holy scriptures we have two books available to follow, and one is the Rāmāyaṇa and one is the Śrī Bhagavad-gītā. Can you give us or tell us who . . . (indistinct) . . .? 'Cause some people offer the reason that according to the Rāmāyaṇa we follow Rāma and Sītā as God. Can you just inform us the real or tell us who is our, the most of our . . . (indistinct) . . .?

Prabhupāda: So, we are . . . our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is to educate people on the principles of the teachings of Bhagavad-gītā. So if you understand Bhagavad-gītā thoroughly, then you will understand Lord Rāma also and other incarnations, because Kṛṣṇa is present with all the incarnations.

rāmādi-mūrtiṣu kalā-niyamena tiṣṭhan
nānāvatāram akarod bhuvaneṣu kintu
kṛṣṇaḥ svayaṁ samabhavat paramaḥ pumān yo
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
(Bs. 5.39)

In the Vedic literature it is said, yasmin vijñāte sarvam idaṁ vijñātaṁ bhavati (Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 1.3): "If you understand that one Supreme, then you will understand everything." So Rāmāyaṇa, Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, not other Rāmāyaṇa, the so-called Rāmāyaṇa . . . authority, Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa. If you read Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, that is also as good as reading Bhagavad-gītā. But if you read Bhagavad-gītā, you understand the transcendental science very easily. There is no difficulty. So we shall advise to read Bhagavad-gītā. It is very widely read all over the world, not only by the Hindus but others also—by all scholars, all philosophers. They read Bhagavad-gītā. So we recommend you all to read Bhagavad-gītā as it is. Do not distort the meaning. Try to understand as it is. Just like in the beginning the Bhagavad-gītā is mentioned:

dharma-kṣetre kuru-kṣetre
samavetā yuyutsavaḥ
māmakāḥ pāṇḍavāś caiva
kim akurvata sañjaya
(BG 1.1)

The dharma-kṣetre, kuru-kṣetre. This is a fact. The kuru-kṣetra is a pilgrimage, dharma-kṣetra. Still it is. There is a railway station of the name Kurukṣetra, and that Kurukṣetra place is very big field. So why should we misinterpret, "Kuru-kṣetra means this body, and Pāṇḍava means the senses"? Why? This business distorted the meaning, so we should give up. We should understand as it is. Kurukṣetra is there, it is a pilgrimage, and in the past history, five thousand years ago, two sections of the same family, Kuru family . . . one section was known as Pāṇḍava and the other section as Kurus. They had to fight on political reason. This is historical. So there is no question of misinterpreting it. The difficulty is, as soon as we misinterpret to our whims, to show our scholarship, it is spoiled. Don't do that. Read it as it is and you will get the benefit. Yes?

Indian man (4): Swāmījī, we are living in a world where new thoughts, new ideas are being disseminated with a . . . by saintly people. But as we have read, that the Vedas were the first book of knowledge handed to mankind. Now what I would like to know is . . . the Christians have Bible as their book, the Muslims have the Koran as their book, and the Hindus have the Vedas as their book. Why should we not go back to the Vedas rather than accepting, notarizing the interest in many other scriptures, the Bhagavad-gītā or the Rāmāyaṇa for instance? But the sages, four ṛṣis, who first gave them, and Vedas were given to us at the beginning of God's creation. Why don't we go back to Vedas, and then we will know the Bhagavad-gītā also?

Prabhupāda: So, what is the purpose of reading Vedas? Can you say me? Who can say what is the purpose of reading Vedas? That is mentioned in the Bhagavad-gītā: vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyaḥ (BG 15.15). By reading Vedas, any Vedas, you have to understand God. Then it is perfect reading of Vedas. If you do not understand what is God, then what is the use of reading Vedas? Śrama eva hi kevalam (SB 1.2.8). Simply waste of time. If you have read Vedas, then give me full information of God. Then I can understand that you have read Vedas. If you have no idea of God, then it is useless advertisement that "I have read Vedas."

Indian man (5): Swāmījī, most of our Hindus accept Lord Kṛṣṇa as our Supreme Being, as God. Yet in the Bhagavad-gītā, Arjuna won't fight his brothers, but Lord Kṛṣṇa encouraged this, to fight his own brothers, to kill his own brothers, to shed blood. Isn't this condoning violence? Yet Hinduism doesn't condone violence. Can you explain why Lord Kṛṣṇa encourages Arjuna to fight his own blood?

Prabhupāda: If you can question the high-court judge why he is ordering somebody to be hanged, then what will be the answer? The high-court judge orders somebody to be hanged and somebody to take decree for one lakh of rupees. Is there injustice? It is the law. The Supreme Lord has to execute the law. So there is no mistake. As there is no mistake in the judgment of the high court, similarly, what to speak of Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Lord. There is necessity. The government, in order to keep law and order, there is violence also. The police sometimes commit violence, the military force. So in order to keep whole thing in balance, sometimes violence is required, and that is not to our whims but at the decision of the Supreme Lord.

Indian man (6): Swāmījī, there is a school of thought amongst Hindus that condemns idol worship and the concept of avatāra. Would you kindly elaborate on these concepts?

Prabhupāda: Idol worship . . . that is not idol. Just like if you worship your leader in some picture or some statue, that is not idol worship. That is actually fact. You show your respect to your leader. Similarly, when we worship the Deity of the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa, it is not idol worship, it is worshiping Kṛṣṇa. The difference is, as we have already discussed, Kṛṣṇa is absolute. In the ordinary case the picture of your father and the father is different, because it is material body. But Kṛṣṇa, being absolute, His form, Deity form, and He, there is no difference. It is Kṛṣṇa's mercy that He comes before you in the Deity form made of so-called wood or stone, because we cannot see at the present moment except wood and stone. We cannot see. Just like I was explaining we cannot see even our father, the spirit soul. And how we can see the Supreme Spirit? So when we worship Deity, it is not idol worship—it is worshiping Lord Kṛṣṇa. And the Deity is not different from the person. This is the idea. We have to understand. It is a science. Just like the holy name of the Lord, it is as good as the Lord Himself. Nāma cintāmaṇiḥ kṛṣṇaś caitanya-rasa-vigrahaḥ pūrṇaḥ śuddho nitya-mukto 'bhinnatvān nāma-nāminoḥ (CC Madhya 17.133). When we chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, this means Kṛṣṇa is dancing on my tongue. Otherwise why these people are chanting twenty-four hours, "Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa"? If you ask them to chant some other name, "Mr. John, Mr. John, Mr. John," it will be not possible. He will be tired: "No more." But you go on chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa twenty-four hours, you'll never feel tired. That is the proof that the holy name of God and God is nondifferent.

Indian man (7): Idea of avatāra? . . . (indistinct)

Prabhupāda: We have already explained. The idol, it is not idol. It is Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is all-powerful. He can present Himself in a manner which you can see, because Kṛṣṇa is everything. Bhūmir āpo 'nalo vāyuḥ khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca (BG 7.4). He is everything. God is everything. So you cannot see at your present status the God. But you can see His form, and the business will be done. If you offer everything, Kṛṣṇa will eat, business will go on. There is no difference. It is His mercy that He presents Himself in a form which we can see.

Indian man (8): Gurudeva, if for some reason . . . (indistinct) . . . the question I wish to ask is: whence did we come, why are we here, and what is the true reason for our existence, and where are we going?

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: The question is, from where did we come, why are we here, and where are we going?

Prabhupāda: Wherefrom just now you are coming? (laughter) Hmm? Tell me wherefrom you are coming. You cannot say? Who can say wherefrom he is coming. Huh? Wherefrom you are coming? You cannot say? Hmm? You cannot say wherefrom you are coming just now?

Indian man (8): That is what I would like to know, Gurudeva.

Prabhupāda: First of all say.

Indian man (8): What is true reason for our existence and where are we going?

Prabhupāda: You are coming from home. (laughter) So this is our temporary home. We have got real home. That is the kingdom of God. We are coming from there. Just like you have come from India, or your forefathers have come from India. Now you have made this country as your home. Similarly, we have come from the spiritual world. Now we have made this material world as our home. So here, struggling for existence . . . it is said in the Bhagavad-gītā:

mamaivāṁśo jīva-bhūtaḥ
jīva-lokaḥ sanātanaḥ
manaḥ ṣaṣṭhānīndriyāṇi
prakṛti-sthāni karṣati
(BG 15.7)

"These living entities, they are My part and parcel, or they are as good as I am, part and parcel." A small particle of gold is gold. It is no other thing. Similarly, we, being part and parcel of God, we are also the same quality. Not the same quantity but same quality. So we have come here, and we are struggling for existence with our mind and senses. This is our position. Therefore our business is how to go back to home, back to Godhead. That is our main business. We are teaching that.

Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa: Are there any further questions?

Prabhupāda: All right. Chant Hare Kṛṣṇa. Please join, chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa. (end)