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QfE 1 The Quest for Enlightenment

His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Kṛṣṇa's Blessings In the Chanting of His Name

January 1, 1969. The Hare Kṛṣṇa movement has just arrived in Great Britain, and a gathering of Londoners interested in the movement listens to this message recorded for them by Śrīla Prabhupāda.

Ladies and gentlemen: Please accept my greetings for the happy new year of 1969, and please accept the blessings of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for your kindly participating in this happy meeting of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Lord Kṛṣṇa appeared on earth five thousand years ago and gave us the unique philosophy and religious principles of Kṛṣṇa consciousness in the shape of the Bhagavad-gītā. Unfortunately, in the course of time, because things change and deteriorate in the material world, people deteriorated and forgot the art of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Therefore Lord Kṛṣṇa again appeared as Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu* at the end of the fifteenth century to revive the same Kṛṣṇa conscious atmosphere in human society.

Lord Caitanya's special gift to the fallen souls of the present Age of Quarrel and Disagreement is to induce people in general - religionists, philosophers, everyone - to take to the chanting of the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. Lord Caitanya informed us that the Absolute Supreme Personality of Godhead can descend in transcendental sound and that when we chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra offenselessly we immediately contact Kṛṣṇa in His internal energy. Thus we immediately become purified from all the dirty things in our heart.

Our conditioned life of material existence is due to dirty things in our heart. Originally we are all Kṛṣṇa conscious living beings, but because of our long association with matter, we have been transmigrating from one form of body to another, suffering in the cycle of birth and death in various species of life (numbering 8,400,000). Every one of us, although originally a spiritual soul and therefore qualitatively one in constitution with the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa, has identified with our material body. Thus we are being subjected to various material pangs, headed by birth, old age, disease, and death.

The whole material civilization is a hard struggle against birth, old age, disease, and death. Against these perpetual problems human society is struggling fruitlessly in many ways. Some people are making material attempts, and some are making partially spiritual attempts. The materialists are trying to solve the problems through scientific knowledge, education, philosophy, ethics, literature, and so on. The salvationists are trying to solve the problems by putting forth various ways of discerning matter from spirit. And some people are trying to overcome birth and death through mystic yoga.

But all of these people - the materialists, the salvationists. and the yogis - must know it for certain that in this Age of Kali, the Age of Quarrel and Dissension, there is no possibility of success without accepting the process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī, the speaker of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, has therefore recommended that whether you are a fruitive worker, a salvationist, or a mystic yogi, if you actually want to be freed from the pangs of material existence you must take to the process of chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare.

Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the art of purifying our heart of the dust of material desires. As living entities we have desire as a component part of our constitution. Therefore we cannot stop desiring. But we can purify our desire. Killing desire is no solution, but curing desire - the diseased condition of desire - is the right solution. And when the dust of misunderstanding is cleared from our heart, we can see our real position and make steady progress toward the ultimate goal of life.

We have forgotten that the ultimate goal of our life is to revive our lost relationship with God, or Kṛṣṇa. To revive that relationship we should execute all of our activities in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. We do not ask you to cease your present occupational duties; we simply recommend that you execute those duties in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu never recommended that one change his position in life. Rather, He favored the process of staying in one's position and hearing about Kṛṣṇa from a bona fide source. To arrive at the real goal of life, one should give up the artificial process of philosophical speculation and instead submissively hear about the philosophy of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, which is contained in Vedic literatures such as the Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. If one submissively chants the mahā-mantra (Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa) and hears without any misinterpretation the message of Kṛṣṇa as it is given in the Bhagavad-gītā, then one does not have to change his position by some artificial method. Simply by chanting and hearing about Kṛṣṇa you will come to the transcendental position, in which you can know God - His name, His form, His qualities, His pastimes, His paraphernalia, and so on.

We are, however, misled at present by leaders who have very little connection with God, or Kṛṣṇa. Some of them deny the existence of God. Some of them try to put themselves in God's place. Some of them, utterly hopeless and frustrated at being unable to reach any right conclusion, think the ultimate goal of life is void, or zero. But Kṛṣṇa consciousness is solid ground for understanding God directly by the simple method of chanting His holy name.

Misled by spiritually blind leaders, people in general, who themselves are spiritually blind, have failed to achieve their desired success. But here is a method, Kṛṣṇa consciousness, that is directly offered by Kṛṣṇa. He plainly gave us His instructions five thousand years ago in the Bhagavad-gītā, and He confirmed them five hundred years ago in the form of Lord Caitanya.

So the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is a great art of life, very easy and sublime. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement gives you everything you want, without any artificial endeavor. It is transcendentally colorful and full of transcendental pleasure. We prosecute Kṛṣṇa consciousness through singing, dancing, eating, and hearing philosophy received through the authorized disciplic succession of spiritual masters coming down from Kṛṣṇa Himself. Therefore Kṛṣṇa consciousness gives us complete spiritual success, without our undergoing any artificial change of our natural instincts.

Consciousness is already in you, but it is now dirty consciousness. What we have to do now is cleanse our consciousness of all dirty things and make it pure consciousness - Kṛṣṇa consciousness. And we can easily do this by the pleasant method of chanting the glorious holy name of God: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare.

Understanding the Soul

When it comes to perceiving the soul, hearing - not seeing - is the way. As Śrīla Prabhupāda declares in this conversation with disciples that took place in Mumbai, India, in April 1977, "You have to get your perception of the soul by hearing from the bona fide spiritual authorities. That is knowledge. Otherwise, who has seen the soul with these paltry eyes?"

Disciple: Śrīla Prabhupāda, when we try to show people that they're spiritual beings, it's awfully hard for them to see. And when we explain how the soul transmigrates from one lifetime to the next, from one body to the next - sometimes it's next to impossible for people to see.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. Transmigration - how can it be shown? How can it be seen by the naked eye? Even the mind, intelligence, and ego you cannot see; although they are material, they are so subtle that you cannot see them. And what to speak of the soul?

Still there is a way to perceive these things. For instance, though you cannot see my mind directly, you can see its activities. In this way you can see my mind. Therefore you have to accept its existence. And though with these limited material senses you cannot see my soul, or spiritual form, still you can see my soul acting in so many ways. Therefore you have to accept the existence of my soul.

Another example: All around you here, you have the sky, the ethereal element. But you cannot see it. So where is the proof that the ethereal element exists? (Claps.) That you cannot see with your eyes, but you can hear it with your ears. Śabda, sounds - sound is the proof of the existence of the ethereal element. You cannot see the ether, but it is there.

Sound is the proof for the presence of the ethereal element. And to prove the presence of the soul - which is much, much more subtle than the ethereal element - again you must rely on sound. You need to hear from spiritually realized persons and authoritative scriptures.

Disciple: So with these limited material senses we can perceive the soul only indirectly?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: That's all. To perceive the soul - which is far, far beyond your perceptive power - you need the śruti, the authoritative scriptures. Śruti means "what is heard" - from the Lord and from spiritually realized sages who know about the existence beyond matter.

So you have to get your perception of the soul by hearing from the bona fide spiritual authorities. That is knowledge. Otherwise, who has seen the soul with these paltry eyes? These modern rascals - who among them has seen the soul? They are educated so grossly.

But everything can be perceived. Not that everything has to be seen with these eyes. We often give this example: as a new-born infant, you cannot determine who is your father simply by your eyes. You have to hear your mother reassuring you, "Here is your father." That's all. You cannot make some experiment through your seeing power. You simply have to hear from your mother, the bona fide authority, on the subject of who is your father. You have to hear. That's the proof. And the proof of the soul's existence is śruti, what you hear from the spiritually realized authorities.

Disciple: Śrīla Prabhupāda, wouldn't another proof be that everyone can, say, look at his hands and recall years earlier, when he had the hands of a baby or a young child? So everyone can figure out, "Now that my body is so totally different, my feeling of still being the same person has to be coming from my soul." In other words, what stays the same is your soul.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. And here is yet another example. You cannot see scent, but still, you know whether the scent is nice or not very nice. Let us say a rose scent is being carried by a breeze. You cannot see the rose scent or how it is being carried. But you can smell it and know without a doubt, "Ah, this is a rose scent."

Similarly, the soul is being carried along through this material world on the subtle breeze of his materially conditioned mind and intelligence and his false ego, his misidentification with matter. But you cannot see the soul directly. You have to learn to see the soul by hearing from the authorities, such as Lord Kṛṣṇa. Apareyam itas tv anyāṁ prakṛtiṁ viddhi me parām: (BG 7.5) "Beyond this material nature, there is another prakṛti, another nature." That is the spiritual nature, in which na jāyate mriyate vā - "There is no birth or death."

But at present the soul, who is a tiny spark of that undying spiritual nature, is being carried along by his materially covered mind and intelligence, and by his false ego. Now, when our gross material eyes see his body cremated, we may mistakenly think that he is finished, that everything, including the soul, is finished.

The atheists will talk like this. Bhasmī-bhūtasya dehasya kutaḥ punar āgamano bhavet: Once your present body is burnt to ashes, where is the question of your having come from a previous life or of your going to a next life? You are finished.

The atheists will talk like this, but Kṛṣṇa does not talk like this. No. He says, na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre: (BG 2.20) "Even when the material body is destroyed, the soul cannot be destroyed."

So whom will you follow - the atheists? Why not follow Kṛṣṇa? That is our proposal.

The atheists will say, "Just see. The body has been burnt to ashes. There - where is the person? The person is dead?"

Kṛṣṇa says, "No, he is not dead. He has gone on to another body." And dhīras tatra na muhyati: (BG 2.13) "Those who are sober are not disturbed by the outward show of the body's death. They know that the soul who lived within has gone to his next life." The real person is still living. He has simply gone from one dwelling place to another.

But who can understand this fact? Only the sober, Kṛṣṇa says. We have to become sober, cool-headed, and mature.

Take the example of a restless child. Now, how can you convince this restless child about higher philosophy, the science of the soul? It is not possible. But a sober person, a cool-headed person - he can be convinced. So this is a childish civilization. It is not a sober civilization.

We have to become sober, spiritually intelligent, cool-headed - not over-identifying with the outer body and restlessly rushing about, driven by bodily whims. But these so-called modern men - these restless rascals - have built their whole civilization on rushing about and being driven by bodily whims. Now, how will they become sober and cool-headed?

The only hope is for them to take advantage of this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement.

The You That Doesn't Change

Consciousness is the essence of all life. A chief subject for study in our schools, one would think. "Unfortunately," Śrīla Prabhupāda says in this talk given in April, 1968, at Boston University's Marsh Chapel, "the modern educational system has no department for teaching about consciousness or the spirit soul, although this knowledge is the most important."

Kṛṣṇa consciousness, the science of God, is very important because it enables us to understand God and our relationship with Him. Of course, in every religion there is some conception of God: "God is great." But simply understanding that God is great is not sufficient. We must have knowledge about our relationship with God.

Generally, we take it for granted that God is our order-supplier. So those who believe in God usually approach Him in distress or when they're in need of money. Then there are some who approach God out of curiosity, and a few who want to understand the science of God. These are the four classes of men who are interested in God, and they all have a background of pious activities. Without a background of pious activities, a person will not be interested in the science of God. Therefore those who are unfortunate, who are impelled by impious activities, do not believe in God; they never care for God. So it is very difficult for the atheists to understand God.

Still, because Kṛṣṇa consciousness is a science, even an atheist can appreciate it if he is intelligent. Atheist or theist, everyone is conscious. That is a fact. It doesn't matter whether you believe in God or you do not believe in God: you are conscious. As soon as I pinch any part of your body, you at once protest, "Somebody is pinching me! I am feeling pain!" Even in the animals there is consciousness.

Now, what is this consciousness? The Bhagavad-gītā says, avināśi tu tad viddhi yena sarvam idaṁ tatam: "Consciousness is that which is spread all over your body, and it is eternal." How is consciousness eternal? That you can understand by practical experience. In your childhood you were conscious, in your boyhood you were conscious, in your youth you were conscious, and as you progress to old age you will be conscious. So your body is changing, but your consciousness continues unchanged. This you cannot deny. Therefore the Bhagavad-gītā says, na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre: (BG 2.20) "Consciousness is eternal. It is not vanquished with the destruction of the temporary body."

As soon as there is no consciousness in the body, the body is dead. Then what is consciousness? It is the symptom of the presence of the soul. Just as a fire situated in one place distributes heat and light everywhere, the spirit soul present in your body spreads consciousness all over your body. This is a fact.

From your childhood body to your boyhood body to your youthful body, your consciousness continues. Similarly, your consciousness will carry you into another body, and that transmigration from one body to another is called death. When your old body cannot be maintained anymore, the consciousness has to be transferred to a new body. When your garment is too old, it has to be changed. Similarly. when the material body is too old to carry on, your consciousness is transferred to another body and you begin another life. This is the law of nature.

But unfortunately the modern educational system has no department for teaching about consciousness or the spirit soul, although this knowledge is the most important. Without consciousness, without the soul's being present, the body is useless. Unfortunately, we take very good care of the body but have no knowledge of consciousness or the spirit soul. This ignorance is due to māyā, or illusion. We are very serious about the nonpermanent things - the body and its extensions, which will not exist, which will be vanquished after a certain period of years - but we do not care about the eternal consciousness, the spirit soul, which is transmigrating from one body to another. Ignorance of the spirit soul is the main defect of modern civilization.

As long as we are unaware of the presence of the spirit soul in the body, as long as we do not inquire about the spirit soul, all our activities are simply a waste of time. This is stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (5.5.5): parābhavas tāvad abodha-jāto yāvan na jijñāsata ātma-tattvam. Anyone who has accepted a temporary body is understood to be foolish. So every one of us is born foolish, because we identify ourselves with the temporary body. Everyone knows that his body will one day not exist, but everyone still identifies himself with his body. This is ignorance, or illusion.

Nearly everyone in the world is immersed in this ignorance, for they do not know that they are spirit souls transmigrating from one body to another. Although no one wants to die, cruel death is forced upon everyone. But people do not consider this problem very seriously. They think they are very happy following the principles of animal life-eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. At the present moment people are very proud of the advancement of human civilization, but they are almost totally concerned with these four principles. According to the Vedic literature, this way of life is no better than the animals'.

Human life is meant for advanced knowledge. And what is that advanced knowledge? To know oneself, to answer the question, What am I? In every civilized society there is some set of religious principles, whether Islam or Christianity or Judaism or Hinduism or Buddhism. And what is the purpose of the scriptures and religious principles? To understand consciousness, to understand the spirit soul and how it has fallen into material, conditioned life, how it is transmigrating among various species of life, and how it can be released from this cycle of birth and death. There are 8,400,000 species of life, and we are wandering among them. Only when we reach the human form of life do we have the opportunity to ask the question, What am I? If we do not understand what we are, then we miss the opportunity of human life. We simply waste our time in the propensities of animal life-eating, sleeping, mating, and defending.

We must inquire, "I do not wish to die; why is death forced upon me? I do not want to be diseased; why is disease forced upon me?" But even if a person becomes very ill, he will generally not inquire like this. He will simply think, "All right, I am diseased. Let me go to the doctor and get some medicine." But from the innermost part of his heart he doesn't ever want to be diseased, he doesn't want to be dead. Why? Because he is eternal. His real position is eternal life, blissful life, without any death, without any birth, without any disease. So he is missing the opportunity of human life unless he inquires into how he can attain this position.

The human form of life is the opportunity to achieve the highest perfection. If we do not make progress toward that vision, we are simply spoiling this opportunity of civilized human life. I especially mention civilized human life, with developed consciousness, developed education. At this developed stage we should ask, "Why are calamities being forced upon me?" Nobody wants to meet calamities. In every city of your country I see the fire brigade and the ambulance always rushing in the street. Who wants his house to be set on fire? Who wants to meet an accident? These things are being forced on us, but still no one asks, "I do not want these calamities. Why are they being forced upon me?" As soon as we become inquisitive to know why all these miserable conditions of life are being forced upon us, that is the beginning of our self-realization.

Now you are trying to solve these problems through so-called scientific research or so-called philosophical research, but the actual solution is to reform or purify your consciousness. If you purify your consciousness, you will end the process of transmigration from body to body. Of course, now you may be very happy that you have a nice American body. You are enjoying life. But do you know what your next life will be? That you do not know. But you should know that life is a continuity. This present life is only a flash - a moment in our journey through millions of species of life. So the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is the movement for purifying consciousness, ending transmigration, and solving all problems.

Kṛṣṇa consciousness is very simple. Simply chant these sixteen words: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. We are simply requesting you to chant these sixteen words. There is no loss on your part, but there is immense gain. Why don't you make an experiment? It is not very difficult. Throughout the world thousands are chanting. Although the mantra is written in Sanskrit, it is a universal transcendental vibration.

If we take to chanting this mantra, we come directly in touch with the Supreme Lord. That makes us purified. If we go near the fire we become warm. Similarly, if we come directly in touch with the Supreme Spirit, our purification begins. So if you chant this Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, your impure consciousness will be purified and you will know what you are.

Chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa is the process of cleansing the mind of all dirty things. And as soon as you are cleansed of all dirty things, your material anxieties are over. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā (18.54):

brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā na śocati na kāṅkṣati
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām

The word brahma-bhūta (SB 4.30.20) means that as soon as you come to the platform of spiritual understanding, you immediately become joyful and are freed from all material anxieties. You no longer hanker after any profit, nor are you very sorry when there is a great loss (na śocati na kāṅkṣati). Then you can see everyone on an equal level, and your lost relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead is again established. Then your real life begins.

Taking up Kṛṣṇa consciousness means that we begin our real life and get free from the temporary life of changing from one body to another. So the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is a very important movement. Try to understand it. We have our magazine, Back to Godhead, and we have branches in many places in your country.

So we invite you to come. There is no expenditure. We simply request that you come and try to understand this movement. It is very scientific; it is not a bogus bluff. Try to understand with all your argument, reason, logic. We are prepared to answer your questions.

This movement is for your benefit; it is not an institution to make some profit. It is just meant to render service to the whole of humanity so that you may understand the science of God and be benefited. We are simply presenting Kṛṣṇa consciousness before you. Now it is up to you to accept it or not. Thank you very much.

Are there any questions?

Student: How does Kṛṣṇa consciousness relate to advaita philosophy?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: The basic principle of advaita philosophy is that the living being is one with God. That is a fact. We are nondifferent from God. For example, the president of your country is an American, and you are also an American. So there is no difference between you as far as being Americans is concerned. In that sense you are one. But at the same time, you are not the president. That you are an American does not mean you are on an equal level with the president. Is that not a fact?

Similarly, we are all qualitatively one with God. The word qualitatively means that whatever we have as spirit souls, God also has. There is no difference in quality. For example, suppose you take a drop of water from the vast Atlantic Ocean and you chemically analyze the ingredients. The composition of the drop of water is the same as the composition of the vast Atlantic Ocean. So qualitatively the drop of water is equal to the vast mass of water in the Atlantic Ocean. Similarly, you are a spirit soul, a spark of the supreme spirit soul, God. You have all the spiritual qualities that God has. But God is great, you are minute. He is infinite, you are infinitesimal. So you and God are qualitatively one but quantitatively different.

Those who are simply accepting the feature of being qualitatively one with God - they are called advaita-vādīs. They forget that quantitatively they cannot be equal to God. If the living entity is quantitatively equal to God, then why has he fallen into this miserable conditioned life of material existence? Because the living entity's constitutional position is infinitesimal, he is prone to be caught up by the influence of māyā, illusion. How could he be caught by māyā if he is also the Supreme? Then māyā would be greater than God. These things are to be considered.

So our philosophy, the Vedānta philosophy, is acintya-bhedābheda-tattva, inconceivable simultaneous oneness and difference between God and the living entity. We are qualitatively one with God, but quantitatively we are different. That is our philosophy, Vaiṣṇava philosophy. So advaita-vāda (oneness) and dvaita-vāda (difference) are both true. We are nondifferent from God in quality, but different in quantity. That is perfect philosophy.

Is that clear to you?

Student: Well, I heard someone give an analogy that we're just like rivers flowing into the sea. The sea is Brahman, the Absolute, and when we reach enlightenment we merge into Brahman and become one with the pure light and the spirit.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: But although water is always being poured into the sea, water is also being taken out. That is a fact. From the sea, water evaporates and forms a cloud, and from the cloud water again falls down into the sea as rain. Sea water is not in a fixed position.

So do not think that because you have once mixed with the sea water there is no chance of coming out again. You have to come out. But if you enter within the sea water and become one of the aqauatics there, you don't have to come out. So our philosophy is not to mix with the water but to go deep into the water and become one of the aquatics there. Then we won't have to come out again.

The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.2.32) says,

ye 'nye 'ravindākṣa vimukta-māninas
tvayy asta-bhāvād aviśuddha-buddhayaḥ
āruhya kṛcchreṇa paraṁ padaṁ tataḥ
patanty adho 'nādṛta-yuṣmad-aṅghrayaḥ

This is a very nice verse. It says that although some people think they have become liberated by Brahman realization, their hearts are not yet purified, because they reject the service of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore, even after performing severe austerities and entering the Brahman effulgence, they must come back again to the material world. So if you don't want to come back again, then you have to enter deep into the "water" of the spiritual kingdom and remain as one of the servants of the Lord. This is the Vaiṣṇava philosophy.

We want to enter into the spiritual kingdom and live in our spiritual identity. We don't want to superficially mix with water and again evaporate, again come back. Those who believe in the philosophy of advaita-vāda generally give the example you have given, but any sane man can understand that mixing superficially with the water of Brahman is not perfection. Then you must come out again by evaporation. If you want to use that example, you have to also accept this conclusion. How can you say you are not coming back? It is a fact.

So if you don't want to come back again, go deep into the water and become one of the living entities under the shelter of the water. They have no problem; they do not come back. The big aquatics live peacefully within the water. They never come out into the rivers, because in the rivers there is no place to accommodate them. So if you want to live perpetually in the spiritual kingdom, you have to understand your identity as one of the servants of God. Then you'll be perfect.

Thank you very much.

The Human Machine

Like any machine, the human body has a purpose. Śrīla Prabhupāda explains what it is: "If in this life I practice chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, then gradually the core of my heart will be cleansed and everything will become manifest. My position, my duty, what is God - everything will become clear." (July 1975, Philadelphia)

niśamya mriyamāṇasya mukhato hari-kīrtanam
bhartur nāma mahārāja pārṣadāḥ sahasāpatan

"My dear king, the order carriers of Viṣṇu, the Viṣṇudūtas, immediately arrived when they heard the holy name of their master from the mouth of the dying Ajāmila, who had certainly chanted without offense because he had chanted in complete anxiety" (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 6.1.30).

In your city the police are wandering in their car, and if somebody calls for the police, immediately they go to him. Similarly, the attendants of Lord Viṣṇu are wandering throughout the universe, searching out somebody who is chanting the holy name of the Lord. If you chant the holy name of the Lord, they are very much pleased, and they immediately come.

When Ajāmila called out "Nārāyaṇa!" he was simply calling his son, but the attendants of Hari took notice only of the chanting, that's all. They did not care to know whether or not Ajāmila meant Lord Nārāyaṇa. No. Because they heard their master's name, they immediately appeared. This is clear.

So, anyone who chants the holy name of the Lord is immediately taken care of by the attendants of the Supreme Lord. Especially if one chants at the time of death - that is when the account is figured up. If you practice chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa during your lifetime, naturally at the last moment of your life you will be inclined to chant Hare Kṛṣṇa. It is so nice.

If in this life I practice chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, then gradually the core of my heart will be cleansed and everything will become manifest. My position, my duty, what is God - everything will become clear (ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam (CC Antya 20.12)). Now, because our hearts are filled up with so much rubbish, we cannot understand the science of God. But if you practice chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, your heart will become cleansed and you will see things as they are.

And as soon as you are able to see things as they are, your material bondage is over. Now you are researching the bodily senses - finding out how they work - and doing so many things simply on the basis of the body. But as soon as your heart becomes cleansed, you will immediately understand, "I am not this body. So what is the use of studying cells and atoms, this and that? I am simply wasting my time."

Suppose I am driving a very nice car, but I am simply absorbed in the machine only. I have forgotten my destination, where I have to go, and I am busy studying the car. What is the use? You may be driving a good car, but you must know how to reach your destination. That is your main business. Knowing how the car works is secondary. Your main business is knowing how to utilize the car so you can reach your destination. That is intelligence.

So, we have fallen into this material condition, and we are occupying various forms. As long as we are in the bodily concept - thinking "I am this 'car'" - that is ignorance. What is wanted is to think, "I am not this body. I am spirit soul, and I have to utilize this body to go to my destination - the spiritual world - where I can meet the supreme spirit, God, and live in His association." Human life is meant for understanding what the Supreme Lord is, where He lives, what He does, and what our relationship with Him is. To seek to understand these things is called brahma-jijñāsā, "inquiry into the Absolute Truth." That is actual education.

We are given this machine of the body, but what is the use of simply studying the machine? The śāstra (scripture) says that since the machine will work until it is rotten, you shouldn't bother with the machine but should search out the Absolute Truth. But people are simply thinking, "Oh, now we have such a good machine." The dog also has a machine. The ant also has a machine, the elephant has a machine, the human being has a machine - every living entity has a bodily machine. But the śāstra says that this human machine should not be utilized like the animals'.

God has given us a human machine, and now we should utilize it to go to our destination. Nṛ-deham ādyaṁ su-labhaṁ su-durlabhaṁ plavaṁ su-kalpam. This nṛ-deha, this human machine, is very carefully made - not by me but by nature. Nature is the agent of God. I wanted to do something, and so I required a particular type of machine. God ordered nature: "This living entity wants to do such and such, so give him an appropriate machine." And she did that.

So, prakṛti, or nature, gives us different types of machines. Prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ (BG 3.27). I am not the ultimate controller of the machine, nor have I made the machine. Rather, I have been given this machine as a gift to fulfill my desires. This is our position.

Now, the śāstra says, nṛ-deham ādyaṁ su-labhaṁ su-durlabhaṁ plavaṁ su-kalpam. This human body is a very good machine, and it is very rare. With great difficulty we have gotten this machine, because we had to come through so many other machines - the aquatics, the plants, the insects and trees, the serpents and reptiles, and then the birds and beasts. This has taken millions and millions of years. We have seen trees that are standing for more than five thousand years. If you get that kind of machine, you cannot move: you have to stand in one place. We had to go through this. Foolish people do not know.

Therefore this human machine is su-durlabham, "very difficult to attain." And it is also su-kalpam, "very nicely made." Those who are medical men know how nicely it is made - how the nerves are working, how the brain is working, the intestines and heart and everything is working so nicely. It is a grand machine. Therefore it is called su-kalpam, "very well constructed."

And what for? Suppose you have a nice, well-constructed boat. Then you can get into it and cross over a river or ocean. Similarly, in the human "boat" we can cross over this material ocean. Life after life we have been struggling in this material ocean, but now we have a suitable boat to cross it - this human body.

The human boat is especially advantageous because the breeze is very favorable. The breeze is the śāstra, or bona fide scripture. When you ply your boat, if the breeze is favorable for pushing on to your destination, that is another advantage. So, we have a good boat and a good breeze. And, guru-karṇadhāram - the guru is the good captain who can steer the boat. He is giving instructions: "Sail like this, turn quickly this way, now that way."

So, we have a great opportunity: the boat is very nice, the captain is very good, the breeze is very favorable. But if with all these advantageous facilities we do not cross over the sea of ignorance, of material existence, then we are committing suicide (sa ātma-hā). You have such a great opportunity, yet still you are remaining in this material world, repeatedly suffering birth, old age, disease, and death. Is that very good intelligence?

People are being misled. They are studying the human machine, that's all. Instead of taking advantage of the machine to cross over the material ocean, they are busy studying it. And they cannot even study it completely. I may claim, "This is my body," but if somebody asks me, "How many hairs do you have on your body?" I cannot say. How I am eating something, how it is being turned into some secretion, how the secretion is becoming blood and going to the heart, how the blood is being distributed throughout the arteries and veins - I do not know any of these things. I can simply theorize.

The human machine is not under your control. The machine is made by God, or by nature, God's agent. It is a very subtle machine. So if you are intelligent, you will ask, "What is the use of simply studying the machine? I have it, so let me utilize it for going to my destination." That is intelligence.

But no, people neglect to use the human machine for going to their destination, and instead they simply study it. And this is going on in the name of science. What is this nonsensical science? Simply busy in studying the machine?

This is the mistake: Although we should use our developed human consciousness for going back home, back to Godhead, we are not doing so. Why should we waste our human intelligence? Suppose you study the human machine throughout your whole life. What will you get? Can you adjust the machine so it will not be lost, so there will be no death? All you scientists who are studying the machine, have you found any means by which there will be no death? Where is that knowledge? Death will come. You may study the machine or not study the machine, but in due course of time death will come and take you.

You cannot cure even one disease. You are embarrassed by the cancer disease. So, find out how the cells are working and how they can be changed, and then there will be no more cancer. No, that you cannot do. You go on studying and simply waste your time.

The śāstra says, "Don't waste your valuable time in that way. Try to understand God. Use your intelligence for this purpose." It is also said, tapo divyam ... yena sattvaṁ śuddhyet (SB 5.5.1). You have to undergo austerities so that in the future you will not be subjected to this machine. That is your business - not to study the machine, but to become independent of the machine.

As long as you are in this material world, you are desiring in a certain way, nature is supplying you a certain type of machine, then you are busy trying to fulfill your desires, then the machine breaks, and then you accept another machine. This is going on. So your problem is to stop this repetition of birth, old age, disease, and death. Come to your spiritual life. That is your business. That is the instruction of the śāstra.

Everyone knows how to maintain the machine. The dog knows how to maintain his machine. He eats according to the necessity of his doggish body. Similarly, we are maintaining our human body. That is natural. The supplies are already there. You cannot manufacture them. That is the Vedic instruction: nityo nityānāṁ cetanaś cetanānām eko bahūnāṁ yo vidadhāti kāmān (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 2.2.13). "There are millions and trillions of living entities, but there is one living entity - God - who is supplying the necessities of all the others."

We ordinary living entities have many millions of duplicates. Therefore the word nityānām is used, meaning "eternal living beings." The ordinary living beings, or jīvas, are innumerable. You cannot count them. But above these innumerable living entities is one prime living entity, God. He is also a living entity, as we are. In your Bible there is the statement that "Man is made in the image of God." So, God is a living entity, and this human form is made according to the form of the Lord. The human form is an imitation; God's form is real (sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha (Bs. 5.1)).

But you are thinking that God has no form. Why? Wherefrom did you get your form? You are praying daily, "O God, our father, give us our daily bread." So, you accept God as the supreme father. And if you have form, your father must have form. This is reasonable. Therefore how can you say God has no form? This is all foolishness.

Suppose a child is born after the death of his father. So, simply because he has not seen his father, that does not mean he should conclude, "My father had no form." This is not a good conclusion. His mother can tell him, "Yes, my child, your father had form." This is intelligence.

So, God is a living entity, but the difference between Him and all the other living entities is that they are all dependent on Him. That's all. God is great, we are small. He is just like a father who maintains all his children. We are all children, and the supreme father maintains us.

Now, one child may like to play with a motorcar toy, another with a doll, and so on. And the parents are supplying: "All right, you take this toy car, you take this doll." Similarly, we are playing like that - making plans to enjoy - and God is supplying all our necessities. But He doesn't want to do that. He says, "My dear child, you are grown up now; you have this human body. Don't play like this and waste your time. Get an education and know things as they are." That education is called brahma-jijñāsā, "inquiry into the Absolute Truth." As the Vedānta-sūtra says, "Now that you have the human form of life, try to understand God. That is your main business."

Unfortunately, we are misled by blind leaders. We have been engaged in studying the body, that's all. So here it is said, niśamya mriyamāṇasya mukhato hari-kīrtanam. God very much appreciates it when we use our tongue and mouth to chant His holy name. He very much appreciates that. Because the name of God is not different from God Himself, as soon as you chant Hare Kṛṣṇa you are in touch with Him.

In another place the Bhāgavatam says, puṇya-śravaṇa-kīrtanaḥ (SB 1.2.17). Śravaṇa means "hearing," and kīrtanaḥ means "chanting." So, one who is chanting God's name and one who is hearing God's name - both are purified. Simply by chanting the name of God one can be delivered from birth and death. The example is given here - Ajāmila. He was addicted to so many sinful activities, and out of fear or because of good luck he chanted "Nārāyaṇa!" at the time of death. Immediately the attendants of Nārāyaṇa came to deliver him. This is the great benefit of chanting the holy name of the Lord.

Hare Kṛṣṇa. Thank you very much.

The Sense to Know God

Tasting and talking - two things we do many times a day - turn out to be the easiest and quickest means to God realization. We simply need to know what to taste and vibrate. Śrīla Prabhupāda explains in this lecture delivered in Hamburg, Germany, in 1969.

viṣṇu-śaktiḥ parā proktā kṣetra-jñākhyā tathā parā
avidyā-karma-saṁjñānyā tṛtīyā śaktir iṣyate
(CC Madhya 6.154)

"Lord Viṣṇu's potency is summarized in three categories - namely, the spiritual potency, the living entities, and ignorance. The spiritual potency is full of knowledge; the living entities, although belonging to the spiritual potency, are subject to bewilderment; and the third energy, which is full of ignorance, is always visible in fruitive activities."

This verse from the Viṣṇu Purāṇa states that the energy of the Supreme Lord (viṣṇu-śakti) is originally spiritual but that it manifests in three ways. It is like the sunshine, the energy of the sun globe. The sunshine is one energy, but it manifests as illumination and heat. Similarly, God has one energy, which is spiritual and which sustains His spiritual abode. And that same energy is manifested in another spiritual form, the kṣetra-jña, or marginal energy, which comprises us living entities. Then, avidyā-karma-saṁjñānyā tṛtīyā śaktir iṣyate: (CC Madhya 6.154) "Besides these two forms of the Lord's energy there is a third form, known as avidyā, or ignorance, which is based on fruitive activities." One who is influenced by this energy has to experience the good and bad fruit of his labor. This is the material world. The material world is also an energy of Kṛṣṇa, or God, but here ignorance prevails. Therefore one has to work. In our original state we haven't got to work, but when we are in ignorance we have to work.

So, Kṛṣṇa actually has one energy, the spiritual energy. He is the whole spirit, and the energy emanating from Him is also spiritual. Śakti-śaktimator abhedaḥ. From the Vedānta-sūtra we learn that the energetic, Lord Kṛṣṇa, is nondifferent from His energy. Therefore the material energy is also nondifferent from Kṛṣṇa. In another place in the Vedic literatures it is said, sarvaṁ khalv idaṁ brahma: "Everything is Brahman, spirit." And in the Bhagavad-gītā (BG 9.4) Kṛṣṇa says, mayā tatam idaṁ sarvaṁ jagad avyakta-mūrtinā: "I am expanded as this cosmic manifestation, My impersonal feature." Mat-sthāni sarva-bhūtāni na cāhaṁ teṣv avasthitaḥ: "Everything is resting on Me, or everything is an expansion of Myself, but personally I am not there."

This is acintya-bhedābheda, the philosophy of simultaneous oneness and difference of God and His energies. Inaugurated by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, although it is there in the aphorisms of the Vedānta-sūtra, this philosophy can satisfy the two classes of philosophers who study the Absolute Truth. One class says that God and the living entities are different, and the other philosophers, the monists, say God and the living entities are one. This acintya-bhedābheda says that God and the living entities are simultaneously one and different. They are one in quality, but different in quantity.

Again we can give the example of the sunshine and the sun globe - the energy and the energetic. In the sunshine there is heat and illumination, and in the sun globe there is also heat and illumination. But the degrees of light and heat are quite different. You can bear the heat of the sunshine, but if you went to the sun globe you could not bear the heat there; it would immediately burn everything to ashes. Similarly, Kṛṣṇa and the living entities are quantitatively very different.

Kṛṣṇa is infinite, while we are smaller than the atom. Therefore it is not possible for us to know the Supreme Personality of Godhead by our ordinary sense perception. Ataḥ śrī-kṛṣṇa-nāmādi na bhaved grāhyam indriyaiḥ: (CC Madhya 17.136) "Kṛṣṇa isn't perceivable by our blunt material senses." The word nāmādi means "beginning with His name." With our material senses we cannot understand Kṛṣṇa's names or His form or His qualities or His paraphernalia or His activities. It is not possible.

Then how are they to be understood? Sevonmukhe hi jihvādau svayam eva sphuraty adaḥ: "When we render transcendental loving service to the Lord with our senses, beginning with the tongue, the Lord gradually reveals Himself." Our first business is to engage the tongue in the service of the Lord. How? By chanting and glorifying His name, fame, qualities, form, paraphernalia, and pastimes. This is the business of the tongue. When the tongue is engaged in the service of the Lord, all the other senses will gradually become engaged.

The tongue is the most important sense within the body. Therefore it is recommended that if we want to control our senses we should first control the tongue. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura has emphasized this. He describes our present conditioned state as śarīra avidyā-jāl: we are packed up in the network of this material body, and we are just like a fish caught within a net. And not only are we caught in this body; we are also changing this "net" life after life, through 8,400,000 species. In this way we stay caught in the network of ignorance. Then, joḍendriya tāhe kāl: our imprisonment within this network of ignorance is being continued on account of our desire for sense enjoyment. And out of all the senses, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura says, the tongue is the most dangerous. If we cannot control the tongue, then the tongue will oblige us to take different types of bodies, one after another. If a person is very much fond of satisfying his tongue by eating flesh and blood, then material nature will give him the facility to regularly taste fresh flesh and blood: he will get the body of a tiger or some other voracious meat-eating animal. And if one does not discriminate in his eating - if he eats all kinds of nonsense, everything and anything - then material nature will give him a hog's body, in which he will have to accept stool as his food. So much suffering is caused by the uncontrolled tongue.

Therefore, this human body is a great opportunity, because by engaging the tongue in the loving service of the Lord we can advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. We can achieve ultimate realization of God just by engaging the tongue in His service. In other bodies - the cat's body, the dog's body, the tiger's body - we cannot do this. So this human form of life is a great boon to the living entity, who is traveling through the cycle of birth and death, perpetually inhabiting different sorts of bodies. The human body is the opportunity for utilizing the tongue properly and getting out of the clutches of the material nature.

If we can keep our tongue always engaged in chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, we will realize Kṛṣṇa, because the sound of Kṛṣṇa's name is not different from Kṛṣṇa Himself. Why? Because Kṛṣṇa is absolute. In the material world, everything is different from its designation. I myself am different from my name and from my body. But Kṛṣṇa is not like that: Kṛṣṇa and His name are the same, and Kṛṣṇa and His body are the same. The rascals cannot understand this. As Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.11), avajānanti māṁ mūḍhā mānuṣīṁ tanum āśritam: "Rascals and fools deride Me when I appear as a human being. They think I am an ordinary human being." Paraṁ bhāvam ajānanto mama bhūta-maheśvaram: "These rascals do not know what I am. They do not know My transcendental nature and My supreme influence over the entire creation."

Without understanding Kṛṣṇa, the fools consider Him an ordinary human being. The word mūḍhā in this verse from the Bhagavad-gītā means "rascal." Yet in spite of this warning, there are so many rascals passing as big scholars. When Kṛṣṇa orders "Surrender to Me," the rascals comment, "It is not to Kṛṣṇa but to the unborn spirit within Kṛṣṇa that we have to surrender." They do not know that Kṛṣṇa is not different from His body, that Kṛṣṇa is not different from His name, and that Kṛṣṇa is not different from His fame. Anything pertaining to Kṛṣṇa is Kṛṣṇa. These rascals are monists, philosophizing about "oneness," but as soon as they come to Kṛṣṇa they immediately try to separate Him from His body or from His name.

But the fact is that Kṛṣṇa's name and Kṛṣṇa are not different. Therefore, as soon as your tongue touches the holy name of Kṛṣṇa, you are associating with Kṛṣṇa. And if you constantly associate with Kṛṣṇa by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, just imagine how purified you will become simply by this chanting process.

Our tongue also wants very palatable dishes to taste. So Kṛṣṇa, being very kind, has given you hundreds and thousands of palatable dishes - remnants of foods eaten by Him. And if you simply make this determined vow - "I shall not allow my tongue to taste anything not offered to Kṛṣṇa and shall always engage my tongue in chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa" - then all perfection is in your grasp. All perfection. Two simple things: don't eat anything not offered to Kṛṣṇa, and always chant Hare Kṛṣṇa. That's all.

Variety is the mother of enjoyment, and kṛṣṇa-prasādam (food offered to Kṛṣṇa) can be prepared in so many nice varieties. How much enjoyment do you want with your tongue? You can have it simply by eating kṛṣṇa-prasādam. And the more your tongue becomes purified by tasting kṛṣṇa-prasādam, the more you'll be able to relish chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. As Lord Caitanya says, ānandāmbudhi-vardhanam: "Chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa increases the ocean of transcendental bliss." We have no experience within this material world of an ocean increasing. If the oceans would have increased, then all the land would have been swallowed up many long, long years ago. But the ocean of transcendental bliss produced by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa is always increasing.

The great authority Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī says, "What good is chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa with one tongue? If I had millions of tongues, then I could chant to my full satisfaction. And what good are these two ears? If I had millions of ears, I could hear Hare Kṛṣṇa sufficiently." He's aspiring to have millions of ears and trillions of tongues to relish the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa. This is an elevated stage, of course, when the chanting is so sweet and melodious that we want to have more ears and more tongues to relish it.

At present, however, we cannot know how relishable the name of Kṛṣṇa is (ataḥ śrī-kṛṣṇa-nāmādi na bhaved grāhyam indriyaiḥ (CC Madhya 17.136)). With our present senses we can't understand the name, form, and qualities of Kṛṣṇa. Therefore if we try to immediately understand Kṛṣṇa by looking at His picture, we shall think, "Oh, Kṛṣṇa is simply a young boy embracing Rādhārāṇī and the other gopīs." Unless our senses are purified, we shall accept the dealings between Kṛṣṇa and Rādhārāṇī as ordinary dealings between a young boy and a young girl. Actually, this is not the fact. Their dealings are completely pure.

In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī explains that there is a gulf of difference between the loving affairs of the gopīs with Kṛṣṇa and the ordinary, lustful dealings of human beings. He has compared the gopīs' love for Kṛṣṇa to gold, and our so-called love here to iron. As there is a great difference between gold and iron, there is a great difference between the loving affairs of the gopīs with Kṛṣṇa and the mundane, lusty affairs between men and women or boys and girls. Love and lust are never equal.

Therefore, to understand Kṛṣṇa as He is we have to purify our senses. And to do that we should carefully follow the principles of sevonmukhe hi jihvādau: (Brs. 1.2.234) first of all engage in chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. Don't try to understand the loving affairs of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa with your present senses, but simply chant Their holy names: Hare Kṛṣṇa. Then, when the dust on the mirror of your heart is cleansed away, you will understand everything.

Thank you very much.

From Folly to Defeat

Do modern achievements spell success in the eyes of the enlightened? Śrīla Prabhupāda gives his verdict: "The dog is thinking, 'I am this body,' and the cat is also thinking, 'I am this body.' So if a human being thinks like that, then he remains in ignorance. And if you remain in ignorance, whatever you believe to be to your credit is not an achievement: it is defeat. This is to be understood." (September 1973, Stockholm, Sweden)

parābhavas tāvad abodha-jāto
yāvan na jijñāsata ātma-tattvam
yāvat kriyās tāvad idaṁ mano vai
karmātmakaṁ yena śarīra-bandhaḥ

"As long as one does not inquire about the spiritual values of life, one is defeated and subjected to miseries arising from ignorance. Be it sinful or pious, karma (fruitive activity) has its reactions. If a person is engaged in any kind of karma, his mind is called karmātmaka, colored with fruitive activity. As long as the mind is impure, consciousness is unclear, and as long as one is absorbed in fruitive activity, one has to accept a material body" (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 5.5.5).

In the previous verse Ṛṣabhadeva has said that madly striving for sense gratification and doing all kinds of sinful activity are not good. Atheists may say, "Suppose we get a material body and it's a little miserable. What is wrong with that? It will be finished. Then there will be no more pains and pleasures." That is also the Buddhist theory: The body is a combination of matter producing pains and pleasures. So make this body zero; then there will be no more pains and pleasures.

So Ṛṣabhadeva answers this point: "No, although this body will be finished, you'll have to accept another body. And as long as you continue to accept one body after another, your miserable condition of material existence will continue."

In the beginning of his instructions Ṛṣabhadeva said that the human body is not to be misused simply for sense gratification like the dogs and hogs. So now he says, parābhavas tāvad abodha-jāto yāvan na jijñāsata ātma-tattvam: "These rascals do not know that for want of knowledge of the soul (ātma-tattvam), everything they are doing will be defeated." They are thinking, "Now, by scientific advancement we are able to go to the moon. This is our achievement." Of course, I do not know whether they can go - at least they are trying. But Ṛṣabhadeva says, "That is not your achievement. That is your defeat." Why? Because they are simply wasting their time.

Even if they go to the moon, they'll be driven away. What is the use of such an attempt? They cannot stay there. So this endeavor to go there by so-called scientific advancement is simply defeat. What have they achieved by these excursions? Nothing. No tangible achievement. But Russia and America have spent billions of dollars to go to the moon.

Even if they go there, they'll still have to die - they'll have to give up the body - and they do not know where they'll be placed after death. That is in nature's hands. No one can dictate, "After death I shall go to that planet or this planet." No. You are completely under nature's control.

Everyone is ambitious, but simply by becoming ambitious can one become a very rich man or a very respectable man? That is not possible. One must qualify himself. Similarly, to go and live on another planet one must be qualified. You have to act according to the higher laws. But they do not believe that there is higher authority, that there is judgment. They blindly think they can do whatever they like. That is not good. This is defeat (parābhava).

So as long as one is not inquisitive to understand what he is, he will be defeated in life. And this is the condition in today's so-called civilization: Nobody is interested to know his real identity. From Sanātana Gosvāmī we get the perfect example of how to inquire into one's identity. When he first approached Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, he asked the Lord: 'ke āmi', 'kene āmāya jāre tāpa-traya.' This is a very nice question: "Kindly tell me what I am and why I am subjected to the threefold miseries of material existence. I do not want all these miserable conditions of life, but I am forced to accept them. Therefore, what is my position? Why am I forced to accept them?"

This is called ātma-tattva jijñāsa, inquiry into one's real identity: "What am I?" Nobody knows what he is. Everyone thinks, "I'm this body." Therefore he's abodha-jātaḥ: from his very birth he's a fool. He does not know his identity. Someone's thinking, "I'm an American," someone's thinking, "I'm an Indian," someone's thinking, "I'm a Russian." All these identifications are doggish identifications.

The dog is thinking, "I am this body," and the cat is also thinking, "I am this body." So if a human being thinks like that, then he remains in ignorance. And if you remain in ignorance, whatever you believe to be to your credit is not an achievement: it is defeat. This is to be understood.

One should be inquisitive into who he is. Sanātana Gosvāmī has set the example. He went to Caitanya Mahāprabhu and said, "Sir, people say I am very learned, but actually I do not know what I am. Please instruct me on this topic." Ask any so-called scholar, doctor, Ph.D. if he knows what he is. Professor Kotovsky in Moscow said, "After the body is finished, everything is finished." He does not know what he is - an eternal soul. This is the position of everyone. Therefore, the so-called scholars, learned men, whatever they are doing, they're being defeated because they do not know their identity. Unless you know your identity, how can you work toward the goal of your life? If you are mistaken about your identity, then whatever you are doing, you will be defeated.

Then Ṛṣabhadeva says, yāvat kriyās tāvad idaṁ mano vai karmātmakaṁ yena śarīra-bandhaḥ: "As long as your mind is absorbed in fruitive activity, you have to accept one material body after another." Everyone has a different type of mentality. The word karmātmakam refers to the general mentality that "I shall work very nicely, I shall get money, and I shall enjoy life." Those who are followers of Vedic ritualistic ceremonies are trying to enjoy in the next life also - by puṇya kārya, or pious activities. But pious activities are also karmic or fruitive activities. Therefore, according to our philosophy, not only are we uninterested in impious activities, we are not even interested in pious activities. This is our position.

By pious activities you can take birth in a very aristocratic or rich family. You can become a very learned scholar. You can become beautiful. You American or Western people are supposed to be very learned, advanced in material science. You are also good-looking and richer than people in other countries. This is due to your past pious activities.

Suppose you have received these opportunities due to your past pious activities. Now, somebody else has taken birth in Greenland, where there is always snow and there are so many inconveniences. And someone else has taken birth somewhere in Africa where there are no facilities like those you have. From the spiritual point of view, all these situations are equivalent. In any birth, you have to enter within the womb of a mother to stay nine months in a packed-up condition. And nowadays they are killing the child within the womb. You may not even come out. Before you come out of your mother's womb you might be killed by your very mother or father. So whether you are in the womb of a very rich mother or a poor mother, a black mother or white mother, a learned mother or a foolish mother, the pains due to staying within the mother's womb are the same.

And as soon as you accept some material body, you'll have to suffer further bodily pains. Then, at the time of death, the same painful condition is there for everyone. So it doesn't matter whether one is rich or poor, the material condition will cause one to suffer.

So, if you continue to absorb your mind in fruitive activities, nature will continue to give you material bodies life after life to try to fulfill your unfulfilled desires. This is going on. Therefore a life devoid of inquiry into your real identity is parābhava, defeat.

Your real business is to know that you are not this body; you are spirit soul, part and parcel of God, Kṛṣṇa. Your real business is to become Kṛṣṇa conscious, fully, and go back home, back to Godhead, to finish this business of repetition of birth and death. But who will understand this? Therefore it is said: kṛṣṇa ye bhaje se baḍa catura. One who has understood the meaning of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement must be very intelligent. Without being intelligent, nobody can understand the basic principle of this movement.

The basic principle of this movement is to understand Kṛṣṇa. And if you understand Kṛṣṇa, then after giving up this body, you go to Kṛṣṇa. Devotional service - chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, worshiping Kṛṣṇa in the temple, and so on - all these activities will help you understand Kṛṣṇa. Although it is very difficult to understand Kṛṣṇa, if you engage yourself in Kṛṣṇa's service as prescribed in the śāstras or by the spiritual master, then Kṛṣṇa will reveal to you what He is. And that is the perfection of your life. As soon as you understand Kṛṣṇa, you become fit to go back home, back to Godhead, and finish this business of repeated birth and death.

This is confirmed by Lord Ṛṣabhadeva in the next verse:

evaṁ manaḥ karma-vaśaṁ prayuṅkte
avidyayātmany upadhīyamāne
prītir na yāvan mayi vāsudeve
na mucyate deha-yogena tāvat

"When the living entity is covered by the mode of ignorance, he does not understand the individual living being and the supreme living being, and his mind is subjugated to fruitive activity. Therefore, until one has love for Lord Vāsudeva, who is none other than Myself, he is certainly not delivered from having to accept a material body again and again."

So everyone has the wrong conception of life. But one can be saved if he somehow or other becomes a devotee of Vāsudeva, Kṛṣṇa. Ṛṣabhadeva is an incarnation of Vāsudeva. In this entanglement of birth and death, if someone comes in contact with a devotee and gets the seed of devotional service, that is the beginning of his rescue from the repetition of birth and death. We are giving opportunity to the people in general, opening centers in many parts of the world. Why? To give everyone a chance to become a devotee of Vāsudeva, Kṛṣṇa. Then they will be saved.

People are struggling, working hard for sense gratification - and suffering repeated birth and death. In this struggle for existence, if somehow or other one gets the seed of devotional service to Vāsudeva, then he's saved. Unless one becomes Kṛṣṇa conscious, his repetition of birth and death - contacting one body after another - will continue. This understanding is the basic principle of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Do not think that Kṛṣṇa consciousness is a kind of religious faith. It is a science - the science of how to get release from the repetition of birth and death. It is not a system of religion, as people ordinarily accept some type of religion. Somebody's a Hindu, somebody's a Muslim, somebody's a Christian. It is not like that. It is a science. We are teaching, "Somehow or other, enhance your love for God. Then you are saved." And how do we enhance that love of Godhead? By our activities: rising early in the morning, chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, studying the Vedic scriptures, worshiping the Deity in the temple, observing festivals honoring the Lord. These activities in devotional service will save us from the repetition of birth and death. Otherwise, we are doomed. We'll have to continue this repetition of birth and death.

Caitanya Mahāprabhu teaches that we are wandering throughout the universe from one body to another, one planet to another, due to avidyā, ignorance. But if somebody comes in contact with this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement and tries to understand Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he's fortunate, because he'll be saved from the repetition of birth and death.

Therefore Kṛṣṇa personally comes, and He says, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja: (BG 18.66) "Give up everything else and just surrender unto Me." It is not Kṛṣṇa's interest for you to surrender. If you don't surrender, Kṛṣṇa does not lose anything. He's omnipotent. He can create whatever He wants by His desire. He's not canvassing, "You become My devotee, and I shall be very rich." No. It is for your interest. If you become a devotee of Vāsudeva, Kṛṣṇa, then you are saved from the repetition of birth and death.

It is Kṛṣṇa's interest in this way: because we are part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa, we are His sons. The rich father does not like to see his son become a crazy fellow loitering in the street. But if his son does not come home, there is no loss for the father. And if the son comes back to the home of his rich father, it is in the son's interest.

So Kṛṣṇa is canvassing: "Surrender unto Me." Those who are fortunate will accept this offer of Kṛṣṇa's. And when we actually love Kṛṣṇa, that is called priti. We love our beloved - our child or husband or wife - but that is not real love. That is a temporary sentiment. Actual love is possible only with Kṛṣṇa. Once you love Kṛṣṇa, that love cannot be broken at any time. Therefore, somehow or other we have to engage ourselves in loving Kṛṣṇa. That is the success of life.

Thank you very much.