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QfE 2 Matter, Spirit, and the Controller of Both

His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

From Matter to Spirit

Solids and liquids - what we commonly call "matter" - are just two of Lord Kṛṣṇa's eight material energies. Śrīla Prabhupāda explains how to spiritualize them in this lecture given in Vṛndāvana, India, in August 1974.

bhūmir āpo 'nalo vāyuḥ khaṁ mano buddhir eva ca
ahaṅkāra itīyaṁ me bhinnā prakṛtir aṣṭadhā

"Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and false ego - all together these eight constitute My separated material energies" (Bhagavad-gītā 7.4).

Here Lord Kṛṣṇa is explaining that He expands Himself by His material energies. Since these eight are His external energies, they are called aparā, "inferior." In the next verse Kṛṣṇa will explain that besides this inferior energy there is the superior energy, the living entities.

Because Kṛṣṇa is the supreme spirit soul, for Him there are no "superior" or "inferior" energies, but for us there are. For example, electricity can produce heat, and it can cool also. A refrigerator is worked by electricity, and a heater is also worked by electricity. So, we may say, "This is heat-producing electricity, and that is cold-producing electricity." But for the powerhouse there is no such distinction: It is all simply electricity. Similarly, for Kṛṣṇa there is no superior or inferior energy.

Now, Kṛṣṇa says that these eight energies are His energies. The materialistic scientists cannot understand that earth is Kṛṣṇa's energy, water is Kṛṣṇa's energy, and fire is Kṛṣṇa's energy. The scientists accept that these are different energies, but whose energies they are - that they do not know.

We should study Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa's energies very intelligently and analytically. For example, if we want to know how the vast ocean has come into existence, we can understand from the Bhagavad-gītā that this vast body of water has come from Kṛṣṇa's energy.

Now, try to understand how Kṛṣṇa's energy can produce such a large amount of water. First, consider that we produce perspiration from our body. That perspiration may be only one ounce of water, but it is produced from our body. How the water is coming out, I do not know. It is inconceivable. But it is coming out; that's a fact. Since I am a tiny living entity, I am always limited; therefore my energy is also limited. But Kṛṣṇa is unlimited. So He can produce unlimited perspiration from His body. We have to understand the ocean like that. Otherwise, it will not be possible for us to understand how such a vast amount of water has come into being.

All material elements are coming from a living entity, not from matter. For example, when the body is dead, the perspiration is not coming out, but as long as the body is living, the perspiration is there. Similarly, the source of all material elements is originally the supreme life - Kṛṣṇa - not matter.

One may ask why Kṛṣṇa calls the material elements - earth, water, fire, air, and so on - His "separated" energies. That He explains in a different verse (BG 9.4): mayā tatam idaṁ sarvaṁ jagad avyakta-mūrtinā. The material energies are called "separated" because in this material world you cannot directly perceive the presence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead (jagad avyakta-mūrtinā). And then Kṛṣṇa says, na cāhaṁ teṣv avasthitaḥ: "I am not present there. Although the material world is made up of My energy, still I am not present there." This is the philosophy of acintya-bhedābheda, that Kṛṣṇa is simultaneously one with and different from His energies.

Now, each of these eight material elements is finer than the last one. Water is finer than earth. Earth does not move, but water can move. Therefore water is finer. But finer than water is fire, and finer than fire is air, and finer than air is ether, and finer than ether is mind, and finer than mind is intelligence, and finer than intelligence is ahaṅkāra, the ego, or identity. But even finer than the ego is the soul. The soul is of a very small magnitude, one ten-thousandth the tip of a hair (keśāgra-śata-bhāgasya śatāṁśaḥ sādṛśātmakaḥ (CC Madhya 19.140)).

Everything is explained in Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā. If we accept it, we get full knowledge. In the first verse of this chapter (7.1) Kṛṣṇa says, asaṁśayaṁ samagraṁ māṁ yathā jñāsyasi tac chṛṇu: "Just hear Me. Then without any doubt you will understand Me in full."

Now, as we have mentioned, out of the eight material elements, the finest is ahaṅkāra, the ego. Ego cannot be abolished; it will always be there. But the ego has to be cleansed. Therefore the bhakti-mārga, the path of devotional service, is a cleansing process, a clearing process (ceto-darpana-mārjanam (CC Antya 20.12)). The mind, the intelligence, the ego - everything remains, but they have to be cleansed. That is Caitanya Mahāprabhu's mission.

By chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra you'll be able to cleanse your misconception of life. Your misconception of life is to think, "I am matter - this material body." This is false ego. Actually, we are not matter. We are spirit soul. Therefore, pure ego is to know, ahaṁ brahmāsmi: "I am a spirit soul." That is the beginning of understanding. In the Bhagavad-gītā Kṛṣṇa describes this understanding as the brahma-bhūta (SB 4.30.20) platform - when one knows, "I am not this material body; I am a spirit soul."

So, gradually, by studying the teachings of the Bhagavad-gītā and practicing them in life, we shall very easily understand ātma-tattva, the science of the soul. That is the real business of human life. Unfortunately, we are not interested in understanding ātma-tattva. As Śukadeva Gosvāmī says to Mahārāja Parīkṣit in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.1.2), śrotavyādīni rājendra nṛṇāṁ santi sahasraśaḥ: "My dear king, for ordinary men there are many subject matters for hearing." Who is that ordinary man? Apaśyatām ātma-tattvaṁ: one who has no interest in seeing what he is. Everyone is under the illusion that he is the body and that his bodily interests are his prime interests. But nobody is interested in the soul. Therefore people have so many books, so many newspapers, so many magazines they like to hear and read. But they are not interested in hearing the Bhagavad-gītā or Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, where ātma-tattva, the science of the soul, is described.

Why are they not interested? Śukadeva Gosvāmī says, gṛheṣu gṛha-medhinām: They are too absorbed in household affairs and are thinking, "This is life." They are thinking that they are happy within this material world. How? As Vidyāpati, a great Vaiṣṇava poet, has sung, tātala saikate, vāri-bindu-sama suta-mita-ramaṇī-samāje. Suta means "children," mita means "friends," and ramaṇī means "wife." So the happiness of material life is in society, friendship, and love. If we have many friends, and if there are a beautiful wife and nice children at home, then we think, "This is happiness; this is life." But that is not real life. Real life is to understand ātma-tattva, the science of the soul. Without understanding ātma-tattva, life is a failure.

We have created society, friendship, and love in this material world in order to become happy. Everyone wants to be happy because that is our natural inclination. We are part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa, and He is ānandamayo 'bhyāsāt, (Vedānta-sūtra 1.1.12) "by nature full of happiness." Kṛṣṇa is enjoying His life with Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī and the other gopīs and the cowherd boys, and with His father and mother. All of that enjoyment is spiritual (ānanda-cinmaya-rasa).

Here in this material world we create an imitation: the same lovers, friends, parents, sons - but it is all false. In the desert an animal may see a vast mass of water, but it is only a mirage, and when the animal goes to drink the water, he dies. Similarly, in this material world we are trying to become happy by society, friendship, and love, but this is a will-o'-the-wisp, a false thing. Real life is in the society of Kṛṣṇa. Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura therefore says, kṛṣṇera saṁsāra kara chaḍi anācāra: "If you enter into the society, friendship, and love of Kṛṣṇa, that is the perfection of life."

You will not find real happiness in earth, water, fire, air, and so on. They are Kṛṣṇa's separated energies. They are a reflection, a false representation - chāyeva. Chāyeva means "just like a shadow or reflection" For example, when you see your face in the mirror, it is not actually your face you are seeing. It is simply the reflection of your face. Similarly, this material world is just like a reflection of the real, spiritual world. Therefore it is known as Kṛṣṇa's separated energy.

Another example is a tape recording. If I speak into a tape recorder, when you play the tape my voice will come out. But that is not really my voice: it is a recording of my voice, my separated energy. With my energy I have spoken something - I have vibrated some sound - which is recorded on the tape. And when it is played back, it produces exactly the same sound, but still it is separated from me.

We should try to understand that this material world is Kṛṣṇa's separated energy. Real life is in the spiritual world. Therefore the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam says, satyaṁ paraṁ dhīmahi: (SB 1.1.1) "I meditate on the real truth, the Absolute Truth." Kṛṣṇa is the Absolute Truth, and in the Bhagavad-gītā He explains Himself. If we want to understand Kṛṣṇa, then instead of speculating about Him we should accept what He teaches about Himself. Then our knowledge will be perfect.

So, the fact is that this material world belongs to Kṛṣṇa - it is His separated energy - but we do not know how to use this energy for Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa's energy should be used for Kṛṣṇa's purposes. That is the Vaiṣṇava philosophy.

The Vaiṣṇava philosophy never says that this world is false. Why is it false? It is not false. The Māyāvādī (impersonalistic) philosopher says, brahma satyaṁ jagan mithyā: "The absolute is real; this world is false." Why is this world false? Take this temple, for example. If somebody says, "Yes, it is very nicely constructed, but it is all false," would we be happy? No. It is not false. What is this temple? It is Kṛṣṇa energy - a combination of earth, water, fire, air. This temple is made of bricks, but what is a brick? You take earth, mix it with water, and put it into the fire, and it becomes brick. And there is also air in this temple.

So this temple is Kṛṣṇa's energy. And it is not material, because it is being used for Kṛṣṇa. The Vaiṣṇava philosophy is that Kṛṣṇa's energy should be used for Kṛṣṇa's purpose, and when it is, it becomes spiritual. That is our philosophy.

The impersonalists, however, think that everything in this world is false and should be rejected. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī describes this attitude as phalgu-vairāgya, false renunciation. In India there is a river named Phalgu. If you go there you'll see that there is no water on the surface of the river, but if you push your hand within the sand you'll touch water. So, phalgu-vairāgya means that a person renounces everything superficially but within his heart there is a desire to become God. He gives everything up, but he cannot give up this desire. This is the philosophy of the Māyāvādīs - to try to become one with God.

But the devotees do not try to become either one with God or separated from God. They are satisfied in whatever condition God puts them.

So, you have to understand that although this material energy is separated from Kṛṣṇa, it can be used for Kṛṣṇa. And when it is, it becomes spiritual. It is no longer material. It is material only when it is used in forgetfulness of Kṛṣṇa. When the karmīs (fruitive workers) construct a big, big skyscraper building, their purpose is to enjoy it themselves. They are using the same things we are using to build the temple - earth, water, fire, and air. They are mixing them together to make bricks and cement. But since the building is not being used for Kṛṣṇa, it is material. Only if the building is used for the purposes of Kṛṣṇa is it spiritual. This is proper renunciation, yukta-vairāgya.

The philosophy of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is that although the elements of this material world are separated form Kṛṣṇa, we can use them for Kṛṣṇa and thus spiritualize them. Again the same example: A tape recorder is material, but it can be used for Kṛṣṇa's purpose. That is how we are writing books - recording them on a tape recorder. This is yukta-vairāgya, proper renunciation. There is no need to give up this earth, water, fire, and air, as the Māyāvādī philosophers say. You can utilize them in Kṛṣṇa's service. After all, it is all Kṛṣṇa's energy.

Then, although this earth, water, fire, and air are Kṛṣṇa's separated energies, when we reconnect them by engaging them in the service of the Lord, they become spiritual. Another example: if you put an iron rod into a fire, the rod becomes warm, warmer, warmer, warmer. Then, when it is red-hot, it is no longer an iron rod: it is fire. Similarly, although everything in this material world is separated from Kṛṣṇa, if you engage the things of this world in the service of Kṛṣṇa, they are no longer material: they are spiritual. This is the philosophy of the Vaiṣṇavas.

If you always remember that everything, whatever you are using, is Kṛṣṇa's energy, you will be in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. We living entities are also Kṛṣṇa's energy. Kṛṣṇa will explain this in the next verse: apareyaṁ itas tv anyāṁ prakṛtiṁ vidhi me parām (BG 7.5). "There is another, superior energy of Mine." What is that parā-prakṛti, that spiritual energy? Jīva-bhūta, the living entities. As matter is Kṛṣṇa's energy, the spirit soul is also Kṛṣṇa's energy. And there is another world, the spiritual world. That is also Kṛṣṇa's energy. Everything is Kṛṣṇa's energy.

So, when Kṛṣṇa's material energy is engaged in the service of Kṛṣṇa, it is converted into spiritual energy, exactly as the iron rod is converted into fire when held in the fire. We devotees of Kṛṣṇa are attempting to engage all of Kṛṣṇa's energies in His service and in this way change the material world into the spiritual world. That is the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement.

Thank you very much.

The Potencies of the Omnipotent

What would you do if you were omnipotent? Only what you wanted to. And that's the position of Lord Kṛṣṇa. As Śrīla Prabhupāda explains: "Kṛṣṇa doesn't have to do anything. He is simply playing on His flute and enjoying with (His consort) Rādhārāṇī, that's all. He hasn't got to go to the office, to the factory. He is simply enjoying."(December 1973, Los Angeles)

yadā mukundo bhagavān imāṁ mahīṁ
jahau sva-tanvā śravaṇīya-sat-kathaḥ
tadāhar evāpratibuddha-cetasām
abhadra-hetuḥ kalir anvavartata

"When the Personality of Godhead, Lord Kṛṣṇa, left this earthly planet in His self-same form, from that very day Kali, who had already partially appeared, became fully manifest to create inauspicious conditions for those who are endowed with a poor fund of knowledge" (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.15.36).

When Lord Kṛṣṇa leaves this earth planet or appears here, He does so by His own potency. In the Bhagavad-gītā (4.6) Kṛṣṇa says, sambhavāmy ātma-māyayā: "I incarnate by My own potency." God has unlimited potencies (parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate CC Madhya 13.65, purport), and learned scholars and saintly persons have accepted the idea of God's potencies. There are certain philosophers, however, who are of the opinion that God has no potency. But that is not a fact. From the Vedic literature we learn that God has unlimited potencies.

Now, how can we understand the Lord's potencies? One way is by the example of fire, which has two potencies, heat and light. A fire is in one place, but it expands its potencies of heat and light. That is within our experience; it is not very difficult to understand. Similarly, the sun also expands the potencies of heat and light. It is lying in one corner of the sky, but it expands its potencies throughout the universe. The sunshine is distributed all over the sky, all over the planetary system, and so are the sun's light and heat. The sun is 93 million miles away from us, but still we are feeling scorching heat - 120 degrees, 135 degrees.

If even a material thing like the sun has so much potency, how much more potency must the Supreme Personality of Godhead have! His potency is acintya, inconceivable. That is the statement of the Vedas:

na tasya kāryaṁ karaṇaṁ ca vidyate
na tat-samaś cābhyadhikaś ca dṛśyate
parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate
svābhāvikī jñāna-bala-kriyā ca

"The Supreme Lord has no duty to perform, and no one is seen to be greater than or equal to Him. He has unlimited varieties of energy, which act automatically" (Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.8, CC Madhya 13.65, purport).

This is a description of the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Person. What kind of person? A person like you, working the whole day for money? No. Na tasya kāryaṁ karaṇaṁ ca vidyate: Kṛṣṇa doesn't have to do anything. He is simply playing on His flute and enjoying with Rādhārāṇī, that's all. He hasn't got to go to the office, to the factory. He is simply enjoying: ānanda-mayo 'bhyāsāt.

And we try to imitate Kṛṣṇa's enjoyment. Young boys and girls like to mix with each other and dance together. The same activities are there in Kṛṣṇa's pastimes. Kṛṣṇa is dancing with the gopīs (cowherd girls) in the forest, and you are dancing with your girlfriend in the nightclub. But your dancing will not give you satisfaction, because it is imitation. If you want real dancing, come to Kṛṣṇa. That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

We are trying to take the misled people from illusion to reality. The Māyāvādī (impersonalistic) philosophers say that there is no pleasure in dancing: "Make it zero; forget it." But we don't say that. We say that there is dancing in the original conception of the Absolute Truth. That is what the Vedānta-sūtra says: janmādy asya yataḥ (SB 1.1.1). "The Absolute Truth is that from which everything has come." Whatever you are experiencing - wherefrom has it come? It has come from the Absolute. That is the meaning of "Absolute." But because here in the relative world dancing is pervertedly reflected and is not reality, you are confused, baffled.

In Paris there is a club for old men, all about to die. They come to the club and pay a fifty-dollar entrance fee so they can enjoy young girls and wine. They cannot actually enjoy, yet still they come. As it is said, jarāgate kiṁ yuvatī nārī: "When one is an old man, what is the use of mixing with young girls?" Still, the old men like to mix with young girls, although they do not really enjoy. Therefore they are unsatisfied, frustrated. This is the position of those who are trying to imitate Kṛṣṇa, whose powers are far beyond our imagination.

Kṛṣṇa is so great that He is simultaneously and inconceivably present in all places. He explains this in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.4):

mayā tatam idaṁ sarvaṁ jagad avyakta-mūrtinā
mat-sthāni sarva-bhūtāni na cāhaṁ teṣv avasthitaḥ

"By My impersonal feature I am spread everywhere. Everything is resting on Me, but I am not in everything." It is a fact that everything is resting on Kṛṣṇa, just as all the planets are resting on the sunshine. It is a scientific fact that the planets are being maintained by the heat and light of the sun.

Now, what do we mean that "everything is resting on Kṛṣṇa"? Take this earth planet, for example. Everything on this planet - the trees, the rivers, the mountains, the cities, the cars - all of that is one unit, the earth planet. And there are millions and trillions of planets. How are they existing? They are existing on the sunshine. And wherefrom does the sunshine come? The sunshine comes from the sun, which comes from God. Therefore, indirectly everything depends on Kṛṣṇa's potency. As he says, mat-sthāni sarva-bhūtāni: (BG 9.4) "Everything is resting on My potency." Na cāhaṁ teṣv avasthitaḥ: "But personally I am not within everything." This is acintya-bhedābheda-tattva: The Lord is simultaneously one with and different from everything. This is our philosophy.

So, our point is that Kṛṣṇa, although situated in the spiritual world, works through His potencies, just as a rich man sits in his parlor and runs his business through his subordinates. He hasn't got to personally go to the office. We have seen Mr. Birla (a wealthy Indian gentleman) sitting in his home and running his businesses through his "potencies" - his secretaries, clerks, and so on. They are doing all the work; he hasn't got to work.

Similarly, because Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Person, He hasn't got to work personally. He is always engaged in playing His flute and dancing with the gopīs. That's all. Ānanda-mayo 'bhyāsāt: He is simply enjoying.

So, Kṛṣṇa's potencies are working in both the spiritual and material worlds. How? I have already given the example of the sun. The sun is in the sky, and the sunshine is working. By the energy of the sunshine the leaves are coming out on the trees, and when there is no sunshine they are dropping. Everything depends on the energy of the sun. Similarly, everything depends on the energies emanating from Kṛṣṇa. As explained in the Vedic literature:

eka-deśa-sthitasyāgner jyotsnā vistāriṇī yathā
parasya brahmaṇaḥ śaktis tathedam akhilaṁ jagat

"Just as a fire situated in one corner of a room fills the whole room with heat and light, so the Absolute Truth, Kṛṣṇa, though situated in His own abode, pervades this entire universe with His potencies." Whatever you see in this cosmic manifestation is simply a demonstration of the potencies of the Lord.

So, we take our birth and accept our death, but not independently. We are under the control of the Lord's material potency. The Lord has many potencies, which have been divided into three categories. One is called the internal potency, one is called the external potency, and one is called the marginal potency. The external potency is this material world - so many universes, so many planets, stars, and so on. These are all manifestations of Kṛṣṇa's external potency. And then there is the internal potency, the spiritual world. That we cannot see; it is not within our experience. But we get information about the spiritual world from the Bhagavad-gītā (8.20): paras tasmāt tu bhāvo 'nyo 'vyakto 'vyaktāt sanātanaḥ. "Beyond this material nature is another nature, which is eternal." This material nature is not eternal. Take your body, for example. It is not eternal. Similarly, this gigantic "body" of the universe is also not eternal. It has a date of creation and a date of dissolution. But the spiritual nature is eternal - it is never created or annihilated.

Now, we are the Lord's marginal potency. For example, when we walk on the shore of the Pacific Ocean, some days we find that the water is covering part of the beach, and some days we see it is open. There is no water on that part. So, that part which is sometimes covered and sometimes open is called "marginal." Similarly, as Kṛṣṇa's marginal potency, we are sometimes influenced by the material nature and sometimes by the spiritual nature.

Actually, we belong to the spiritual nature, but because we are minute spirit souls we have come in contact with this material nature somehow or other. This is an incompatible position for us, and so we cannot make a permanent adjustment here. Therefore we are getting one type of body and enjoying or suffering, and then another type of body, than another, and so on.

But if we like, since we are of the spiritual nature we can transfer ourselves to the spiritual world and remain there eternally. The eternal nature of the soul is described in the Bhagavad-gītā (2.20): na jāyate mriyate vā kadācit."The soul never takes birth or dies at any time." In other words, the soul is everlasting, eternal. Then what is death? Death is the annihilation of the material body, not of the soul. Therefore it is said here, na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre: (BG 2.20) "The soul is not dead after the annihilation of the body."

So, the conclusion is that because we are marginal-situated between the spiritual nature and the material nature - we have a tendency to come under the control of Kṛṣṇa's external, material energy and identify ourselves with this temporary, material body. Actually we are spiritual; our real nature is eternal. We never take birth and never die. But on account of our contact with the material nature, we are getting material bodies, which are always changing. Thus we have accepted birth and death as natural. But that is not our real nature.

At the present moment we are under the material nature, but if we try we can get out of this covering of material nature and come to the spiritual nature. That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness - to leave that marginal position and come onto the "land" so that there will be no disturbance from the "water." If you remain in the marginal position, sometimes you will be covered by water and sometimes you will be dry. But if you come a little forward to the land side, the ocean has no power to touch you.

Now, Kṛṣṇa is not like us. The present verse of the Bhāgavatam says that Kṛṣṇa left this world, but that does not mean He left this world as we leave it. Our leaving this world means that we leave this material body and accept another material body. Now we may have an American body, and in our next life we may be in a Russian body. An American who is fighting against the Russians in this life may get a Russian body in his next life. (This is the law of nature: sadā tad-bhāva-bhāvitaḥ (BG 8.6). "Whatever one thinks of at the time of death determines his next life.") And then in his Russian body he will fight with the Americans, and in his next life he will again become an American. This is going on: bhutvā bhutvā pralīyate (BG 8.19). Sometimes Russian, sometimes American, go on fighting, that's all. This is called māyā, illusion.

Everyone in this material world is under this illusion. The living entities are loitering in this material nature, sometimes in this body, sometimes in that body, sometimes this way, sometimes that way. Simply loitering. No one knows where to find shelter, where to find permanent life, permanent peace, permanent happiness. They are simply changing forms of government: electing one rascal, rejecting him, electing another rascal, and rejecting him. Because the candidates are all rascals, the people have no alternative but to elect a rascal. They are thinking, "By electing this rascal, we shall be happy." Andhā yathāndhair upanīyamānāḥ: (SB 7.5.31) The people are blind, and they are accepting leaders who are also blind. What will be the profit? If you are blind and you are led by another blind man, what will be the profit? Both of you will fall down into a ditch.

Therefore, if you want real happiness, you must accept the leadership of a man who has eyes to see. And whose eyes are open? The guru's. That is explained in the Vedic literature:

oṁ ajñāna-timirāndhasya jñānāñjana-śalākayā
cakṣur unmīlitaṁ yena tasmai śrī-gurave namaḥ

Everyone is blind, in the darkness of ignorance. So it is the guru's business to open their eyes, to help them see things as they are. That is the guru's business.

How can darkness be removed? By light. At night we cannot see. Everything is dark because the sun is not in the sky. But in the morning, as soon as the sun rises, we can see everything. Now, because we are in the darkness of ignorance, we cannot see things properly. The spirit soul exists and God exists, but now we cannot see them. We have to get the light of transcendental knowledge to see things as they are. That is wanted.

The Vedic literature therefore advises, tamasi mā jyotir gama: "Don't keep yourself in darkness; go to the light." This is possible in human life. In animal life you kept yourself in darkness because there was no possibility of coming to the light. If I invite all the dogs and cats in Los Angeles to come here and hear about the Bhagavad-gītā, they will not come, because they are animals. But if I appeal to the human beings, some may be interested. They should all be interested, but the times are so bad that almost nobody is interested. Still, a few people may be interested, but not the cats and dogs.

In the human form of life there is a necessity of coming to the light and making a solution to the problems of life. Therefore Kṛṣṇa appears in this world. He states in the Bhagavad-gītā (4.6), prakṛtiṁ svām adhiṣṭhāya sambhavāmy ātma-māyayā: "I appear in My transcendental form by My own energy." We are under the control of the material nature, but Kṛṣṇa is not under this control. That is to be understood. Therefore the present verse of the Bhāgavatam says, jahau sva-tanvā. Sva means "own," and tanu means "body." In other words, Kṛṣṇa left this world in His own transcendental body.

So, when Kṛṣṇa appears in this world or leaves it, He does so in His own transcendental body. For us there is a distinction between the soul and the body. I am a spiritual soul, but my body is material. This distinction is there because we are conditioned by the material body. But Kṛṣṇa is not conditioned by a material body. Therefore here it says mahīṁ jahau sva-tanvā: "He left in His own, original, spiritual body."

One so-called scholar who does not know Kṛṣṇa has written a commentary on the Bhagavad-gītā in which he tries to make a distinction between Kṛṣṇa's soul and His body. Kṛṣṇa says (BG 9.34), man-manā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru: "Just think of Me, become My devotee, offer your obeisances unto Me, and worship Me." But this rascal commentator says it is not to the person Kṛṣṇa that we should offer obeisances but to the soul within Kṛṣṇa. Just see how ignorant he is! He does not know that for Kṛṣṇa there is no such division between His self, or soul, and His body. This fool is rascal number one, and yet he has written a commentary on the Bhagavad-gītā and is accepted as a scholar. And this nonsense is going on all over the world.

Therefore Kṛṣṇa says, avajānanti māṁ mūḍhā mānuṣīṁ tanum āśritam: (BG 9.11) "The rascals (mūḍhās) think that because I appear in a human form I am an ordinary human being." And then, paraṁ bhāvam ajānanto: "They do not know My great potency." Still, these rascals go on explaining the Bhagavad-gītā.

So, while for us there is a distinction between the body and the soul, for Kṛṣṇa there is no such distinction. Also, there is no distinction between Kṛṣṇa Himself and His Deity form made of stone. Why? Because the stone is Kṛṣṇa's energy. Earth, water, fire, air - everything is Kṛṣṇa's energy. That we have already explained. Therefore He can appear in any form, from anywhere, from anything. That is Kṛṣṇa's potency. So, you have to understand what Kṛṣṇa is. And as soon as you understand Kṛṣṇa in truth, you become liberated: janma karma ca me divyam evaṁ yo vetti tattvataḥ/ tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti so 'rjuna (BG 4.9).

Here the Bhāgavatam says mahīṁ jahau sva-tanvā: "Kṛṣṇa left this world in His own, original body." Still, Kṛṣṇa seemed to leave His body just to befool the rascals. The rascals think Kṛṣṇa is like us, and therefore, to bewilder them, Kṛṣṇa left an illusory body so that they may go on thinking like that. But actually, here is the secret: mahīṁ jahau sva-tanvā. "Kṛṣṇa left this world in His original body."

Now, here it also says, śravaṇīya-sat-kathaḥ: "Talks about Kṛṣṇa are transcendental." If His body were like ours - if He had a material body - then what would be the use of hearing about His activities? We are interested in the words of Kṛṣṇa in the Bhagavad-gītā, but if Kṛṣṇa were like us, why should we be interested? Actually, by hearing about Kṛṣṇa or from Kṛṣṇa you become liberated. So He cannot possible be an ordinary human being like us. Only the less intelligent class of men (apratibuddha-cetasām) think in this way.

The Bhāgavatam verse ends with the words kalir anvavartata: "Because Kṛṣṇa passed away, Kali (the personification of the present Age of Quarrel) got the opportunity to enter." That is to some extent a fact. But if Kṛṣṇa is everywhere, how can He go away? Kṛṣṇa can remain with you eternally. And if by becoming Kṛṣṇa conscious you keep yourself with Kṛṣṇa, where is the chance of Kali entering? So keep yourself always in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Kali will not be able to touch you.

Hare Kṛṣṇa. Thank you very much.

The Fall of the Soul

Here Śrīla Prabhupāda explains that we belong in the spiritual world with Kṛṣṇa but that we have created our fearful condition in the material world just as a person creates a fearful situation in a dream. Responding to our desire, Kṛṣṇa has given us a chance to forget Him. (April 1972, Tokyo)

śrī-śuka uvāca
ātma-māyām ṛte rājan parasyānubhavātmanaḥ
na ghaṭetārtha-sambandhaḥ svapna-draṣṭur ivāñjasā

"Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: 'O King, unless one is influenced by the bewildering energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there is no meaning to the relationship of the pure soul in pure consciousness with the material body. That relationship is just like a dreamer's seeing his own body working'" (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 2.9.1).

Many people inquire, "How did the living entity, who was with Kṛṣṇa, fall into the material world?" That question is answered here. The fallen living entity's condition is due to the influence of the Lord's material energy. Actually, he has not fallen. An example is given: The moon appears to be moving when clouds pass in front of it. Actually, the moon is not moving. Similarly, the living entity, because he is a spiritual spark of the Supreme, has not fallen. But he is thinking, "I am fallen. I am material. I am this body."

The body has no connection with the soul. We can experience this. The body is changing, dying, but I am the same. The idea that we have a connection with the body is due to the influence of the illusory energy of Kṛṣṇa. That illusory energy develops when we forget Kṛṣṇa.

In other words, our illusory identification with the body is simply due to our forgetfulness of the Lord. We wanted to forget; we wanted to give up Kṛṣṇa and enjoy the material world. Therefore Kṛṣṇa is giving us the chance. For example, when you play a part in a drama, if you feel, "I am the king," then you can act very nicely. But if you feel, "I am Karandhara*," then you cannot play a king so nicely. The feelings must be there. If you are playing the part of a king, you must believe you are the king and have his courage. You have to forget that you are Karandhara. Then you can play the part very nicely, and the audience will appreciate. But if you think "I am Karandhara playing the part of the king," then you cannot play the part convincingly.

So because we wanted to play the part of Kṛṣṇa, the supreme enjoyer, Kṛṣṇa is giving us the chance - "Yes, feel like Me." The feeling that "I am the master, I am the king, I am Kṛṣṇa, I am God" is created by Kṛṣṇa: "All right, since you want to play the part of a king, I shall train you in such a way."

The director of a play tries to create the feelings within you for the part you are playing. In my youth I played the part of Advaita Ācārya in a drama about Lord Caitanya. Our director, Amritlal Bose, repeatedly said to me, "Feel like Advaita Ācārya." So when I performed my part under his direction, all the people in the audience were crying. The play was artificial, but the effect on the audience was so nice.

Similarly, we have nothing to do with the material world, but we have been trained by the illusory energy to think, "I am an Indian," "I am an American," "I am an intellecutal," "I am a laborer" "I am this," "I am that," "I have to do this," "I have so many duties." These are all illusions. We have nothing to do with all this nonsense, but still we are taking it very seriously: "I have to do like that. I am this. I am that."

That is explained here: ātma-māyām ṛte rājan parasyānubhavātmanaḥ. "Unless one is influenced by the bewildering energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there is no meaning to the relationship of the pure soul in pure consciousness with the material body." While dreaming a man may cry out, "Oh, there is a tiger, a tiger! Save me!" An awake man observing may say, "Where is the tiger? Why are you shouting?" But the dreaming man is actually feeling that a tiger has attacked him.

Therefore this verse gives the example of a dream: na ghaṭetārtha-sambandhaḥ svapna-draṣṭur ivāñjasā. There cannot be any meaning of the relationship of the soul and the body except that it is like a dreaming man creating an imaginary situation. He is dreaming that there is a tiger, and he is creating a fearful situation. Actually there is nothing to fear - there is no tiger. The situation is created by a dream.

Similarly, we have created the material world and material activity. People are running around - "Oh, I am the manager. I am the factory owner. I am this, I am that. We know his politics. We have to defeat our competitors." All these things are created just as a man creates a situation in a dream - svapna-draṣṭur ivāñjasā.

So when someone asks, "When did we come into contact with the material nature?" the answer is that we have not come into contact. By the influence of the external energy we think we are in contact. Actually we are not fallen. We cannot be fallen. We have simply created a situation in which we think we are fallen. Actually, Kṛṣṇa has given us that situation. Because we wanted to imitate Him, Kṛṣṇa has given us an opportunity: "All right, you want to imitate Me? You want to be an imitation king on the stage? So, feel like this. Play like this. Do like this. People will applaud - 'Oh, what a very nice king.'"

So everyone in the material world is playing some part. "I want to be prime minister." "I want to be a very big business magnate." "I want to be a leader." "I want to be a philosopher." "I want to be a scientist." They are trying to play all these parts, and Kṛṣṇa is giving the opportunity - "All right."

But these things are all nonsense. Simply dreaming. When you dream, the next moment the dream is gone, and everything in the dream is finished. No more tiger, no more jungle. Similarly, as long as the body continues one may think, "I am a responsible leader; I am this; I am that," but as soon as the body is finished, these ideas are gone.

Kṛṣṇa says, mṛtyuḥ sarva-haraś cāham: (BG 10.34) "As death, I take everything away." Just think of your past life. Suppose you were a king or something like that. From the Bhṛgu-saṁhitā it was ascertained that I was a big physician in my last life, with a spotless character, no sins. I don't know. It may be. But I have no remembrance that I was a physician. So what do we know? I might have been a very big influential physician with a good practice, but where is it all now? All gone.

So our contact with matter is just like a dream. We are not fallen. Therefore, at any moment we can revive our Kṛṣṇa consciousness. We become liberated as soon as we understand, "I have nothing to do with matter. I am simply Kṛṣṇa's eternal servant." Sometimes when a fearful dream becomes intolerable, we break the dream. Similarly, we can break the material connection at any moment as soon as we wake up to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. "Oh, Kṛṣṇa is my eternal master. I am His servant." That's all. That is the way.

Thank you very much.

Purify Your Existence

In this talk given on the anniversary of the appearance of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, a pioneer of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement in the modern era, Śrīla Prabhupāda informs us, "To turn your home into Vaikuṇṭha, the spiritual world, is not difficult. You simply have to adopt the right method. Lord Kṛṣṇa provides everything we need to bring the spiritual world into our lives." (September 1973, Mumbai, India)

Five hundred years ago Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself in the role of His own devotee, started the saṅkīrtana movement, or the movement for spreading the congregational chanting of the holy names of God. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura was the father of the saṅkīrtana movement within the last two hundred years. He was a householder and responsible government officer - a magistrate. And he was a great devotee and a great ācārya, or prominent spiritual master, in the disciplic succession of Caitanya Mahāprabhu.

Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura wrote many devotional songs. In one song he has written, ye-dina gṛhe, bhajana dekhi, gṛhete goloka bhāya: "One day while performing devotional practices, I saw my house transformed into Goloka Vṛndāvana, the spiritual world."

As Kṛṣṇa is not material, so His home, Goloka Vṛndāvana, is not material. And although Kṛṣṇa stays in His abode, Goloka Vṛndāvana, He is also present everywhere. That is Kṛṣṇa's omnipotence. The Brahma-saṁhitā states,

eko 'py asau racayituṁ jagad-aṇḍa-koṭiṁ
yac-chaktir asti jagad-aṇḍa-cayā yad-antaḥ
govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi
(Bs. 5.35)

Kṛṣṇa, Govinda, is everywhere by one of His plenary portions, known as Paramātmā, or Supersoul. He is situated in every universe and within everyone's heart. Not only is He within the heart of everyone, but He is within the atom.

Similarly, Kṛṣṇa's place, Goloka Vṛndāvana, is also spread everywhere. How? By the presence of Kṛṣṇa's devotees. Kṛṣṇa says,

nāhaṁ tiṣṭhāmi vaikuṇṭhe yogināṁ hṛdayeṣu vā
yatra gāyanti mad-bhaktāḥ tatra tiṣṭhāmi nārada

"I do not stay in Vaikuṇṭha-loka, the spiritual world, or within the hearts of the yogis. I stay where My devotees chant My glories" (Padma Purāna).

That is Kṛṣṇa's omnipotence. We pray to God the omnipotent, the omniscient, the omnipresent. God can be present everywhere simultaneously.

There is no difference between God and His place. Therefore Caitanya Mahāprabhu recommends, ārādhyo bhagavān vrajeśa-tanayas tad-dhāma vṛndāvanam. As Kṛṣṇa is worshipable, His place is also worshipable. Similarly, as He is all-pervading, His place is also all-pervading.

How can any place be changed into Vaikuṇṭha, or Goloka Vṛndāvana? By the chanting of the holy name of the Lord. Devotees are so powerful that by chanting the holy name of God they make the all-powerful Supreme Lord descend, along with His personal abode. Therefore Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura sings, "One day while performing devotional practices I saw my house transformed into Goloka Vṛndāvana."

We also can change our homes into Vaikuṇṭha. That is not difficult: we simply have to follow the authorized process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. How to do this is explained by Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura: kṛṣṇera saṁsāra kara chāḍi anācāra. "Giving up all sinful activities, carry on your worldly duties only in relation to Lord Kṛṣṇa." Anācāra means "sinful activities." You cannot associate with God if you are sinful. In the Bhagavad-gītā Kṛṣṇa says, yeṣāṁ tv anta-gataṁ pāpaṁ ... bhajante māṁ dṛḍha-vratāḥ: "Only one who is completely free from sinful life can worship Me with firm determination."

In our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement we do not recommend that you give up your occupation, give up your wife and children, and become a sannyāsī, a renunciant. No, that is not our movement. Among us are not only sannyāsīs but also brahmacārīs (celibate students), gṛhasthas (married people), and vānaprasthas (retired people). Everyone is welcome. Everyone can worship Kṛṣṇa. There is no rule that only a certain class - brāhmaṇas or sannyāsīs or brahmacārīs or Hindus - can take part. No. Kṛṣṇa is open to everyone. Māṁ hi pārtha vyapāśritya ye 'pi syuḥ pāpa-yonayaḥ (BG 9.32). Kṛṣṇa is open even for a person born in a lower-grade family. One simply has to adopt the means to approach Him - namely, giving up sense enjoyment and practicing the purifying process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Many devotional songs give this same instruction. Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura has sung, viṣaya chāḍiyā kabe, śuddha habe mana, kabe hāma heraba, śrī-vṛndāvana: "When I am free from sense enjoyment and my mind is clear, I will be able to understand Vṛndāvana." Viṣaya means "sense enjoyment." One has to give up sense enjoyment to become purified.

To give up sense enjoyment does not mean, for example, that we cannot eat. There is no prohibition against eating, but you cannot eat anything until it is first offered to Kṛṣṇa. Our life in Kṛṣṇa consciousness means to be always the servant of Kṛṣṇa. As the servant eats remnants of food left by the master, we servants of Kṛṣṇa eat remnants of food left by Kṛṣṇa. That food is called prasādam, or the Lord's mercy.

We have to lead our life in such a way that we give up anācāra, forbidden things, sinful things. There are four main sinful activities. These are illicit sex, unnecessary animal-killing, intoxication, and gambling. We have to give up these four principles of sin. Then our life becomes pure.

If we give up these four principles and chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, we become pure. You can see the examples in members of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. Many of those who have wholeheartedly accepted Kṛṣṇa consciousness were accustomed to all these sinful practices. That was their daily affair. But they have given these things up. Now anyone can see how saintly they are. One has to accept the principles of purification. Then one's life becomes perfect.

People do not know what the perfection of life is. They think that material advancement is perfection. No, that is not the perfection of life, because even if you make a nice material arrangement you cannot enjoy it for long. At any time you may be kicked out. So where is your perfection?

Suppose you have a nice apartment, a good bank balance, and a nice wife and children. Everything is all right. But is there any guarantee that you can enjoy them forever? At any moment you may be kicked out. That is not perfection. If you were guaranteed that "Whatever happy life I am preparing for in the material world will be permanent; I will never be kicked out," then your life here would be perfection. But there can never be such a guarantee. Therefore no material circumstances can be the perfection of life. The perfection of life comes when there is the guarantee of no more birth, no more death, no more old age, and no more disease. That is perfection.

And that perfection can be achieved only by Kṛṣṇa consciousness, not any material method. If we want to be eternally blissful and full of knowledge - sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha (Bs. 5.1) - then we have to take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. There is no other way.

As Lord Kṛṣṇa says,

man-manā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru
mām evaiṣyasi yuktvaivam ātmānaṁ mat-parāyaṇaḥ
(BG 18.65)

"Always think of Me, become My devotee, offer obeisances unto Me, and worship Me. Without any doubt you shall come to Me." Simply four things. Is it very difficult to think of Kṛṣṇa, worship Him, become His devotee, and offer obeisances to Him? It is not difficult, as we are showing daily in our temples all over the world. We are thinking of Kṛṣṇa by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. We are offering obeisances to the Deity and at least trying to become His devotees. And we are worshiping the Lord with fruits, flowers, incense, and so on. None of this is difficult. Anyone can collect a flower, a fruit, or a little water and offer it to Kṛṣṇa.

Then where is the difficulty? The difficulty is our obstinacy. If one is obstinate, then becoming Kṛṣṇa conscious is very difficult.

Human life is meant for worshiping Kṛṣṇa. Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura sings, hari hari viphale janama goṅāinu: "My life is spoiled." Why? Manuṣya-janama pāiyā rādhā-kṛṣṇa nā bhajiyā jāniyā śuniyā viṣa khāinu: "Having attained a human birth, I failed to worship Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and so have knowingly drunk poison."

We are trying to stop people from drinking poison. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is for everyone's benefit. It is the topmost humanitarian movement to make everyone happy, to make everyone immortal, to make everyone peaceful, to make everyone wise.

Kṛṣṇa says that one who does not surrender to Him is narādhama, "the lowest of mankind."

"Oh, how is he narādhama? He is an M.A., a Ph.D., a Dh.C., a Th.C. How is he narādhama?"

Māyayāpahṛta-jñāna. His knowledge has no value because he does not know Kṛṣṇa. These M.A.'s and Ph.D.'s will not help you. Kṛṣṇa says, "One who does not worship Me has no knowledge." Why? Because if one remains obstinately averse to surrendering to God, what is the value of his knowledge? He has no knowledge.

Therefore Kṛṣṇa says, bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān māṁ prapadyate: (BG 7.19) After many, many births of struggling to cultivate knowledge, one who is actually wise surrenders to Kṛṣṇa: "My dear Lord Kṛṣṇa, for so long I had forgotten You, not knowing that my only business is to surrender to You. But today I surrender. Please protect me." That is intelligence.

And the moment you surrender, you are protected. Lord Kṛṣṇa says,

sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ
(BG 18.66)

"Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear." The Lord also promises, kaunteya pratijānīhi na me bhaktaḥ praṇaśyati: (BG 9.31) "My devotee never perishes."

The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is trying to make fools and rascals and sinful men wise. And actually it is happening. Pāpī tāpī yata chilo, hari-nāme uddhārilo, tāra sākṣī jagāi mādhāi. You want evidence? Look at Jagāi and Mādhāi. Caitanya Mahāprabhu delivered two sinful brothers named Jagāi and Mādhāi. Now you can see how strong is Caitanya Mahāprabhu's movement. Many thousands of Jagāis and Mādhāis are being delivered.

Caitanya Mahāprabhu's movement is greater than Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Caitanya Mahāprabhu personally delivered Jagāi and Mādhāi, but now, by His movement, thousands of Jagāis and Mādhāis are being delivered. This is the practical evidence.

And Lord Caitanya's process is very easy. It is not very difficult. Anyone can take to it. But if we knowingly take poison, who can protect us?

We appeal to everyone to take to the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement and chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. Even if you cannot give up your bad habits and sinful activities at once, still take to the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, and before long you will become purified and your life will be glorious.

Thank you very much.

Joy Beyond False Boundaries

Chanting the holy names of God in congregation raises us to pure spiritual consciousness - a state of joyful awareness of God that transcends all petty prejudices and material distinctions. Here Śrīla Prabhupāda explains the value of this chanting for the modern world. (November 1968, Los Angeles)

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

"One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman and becomes fully joyful. He never laments or desires to have anything. He is equally disposed toward every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me (Kṛṣṇa)" (Bhagavad-gītā 18.54).

Kṛṣṇa consciousness is simply full of bliss, because it is the stage one reaches after attaining liberation from all material miseries. This is called the brahma-bhūta (SB 4.30.20) stage. One feels just like a person who has been suffering in prison for many years and is suddenly given his freedom. How much delight he feels! Similarly, one who attains the brahma-bhūta stage immediately becomes joyful.

And what is the nature of that joyfulness? Na śocati: even if one suffers great loss, one does not lament. And na kāṅkṣati: one feels no hankering for big profit. Also, in that stage one sees all living entities on the same platform of spiritual identity. In another place the Bhagavad-gītā says, paṇḍitaḥ sama-darśinaḥ: (BG 5.18) "When a person is learned he sees everyone on the same level of spiritual identity." At this stage, Kṛṣṇa consciousness actually begins (mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām (BG 18.54)). So Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the activity of the living entity in the liberated stage.

Everyone is trying to get liberation from material pangs. Those who follow Buddhist philosophy are trying to get liberation from material miseries by reaching nirvāṇa. Nirvāṇa means "the stage when everything is extinguished." The Buddhists want to make everything void; they want to make all material varieties zero. That is the sum and substance of Buddhist philosophy. And Māyāvāda (impersonalistic) philosophy is more or less similar. It is a second edition of Buddhist philosophy. The Buddhists want to make everything zero without life, and the Māyāvādī philosophers say, "Yes, we should make the material varieties zero, but keep life." That is their mistake. Where there is life, there must be variety; life without variety is not possible. This is the defect of Māyāvāda philosophy.

Suppose a patient is very much disturbed and he asks his physician, "Please stop my disturbance! Kill me! Kill me!" Sometimes people who are suffering speak like that. "Give me some poison! Kill me! I cannot tolerate the pain!"'

The physician says, "There is no need to kill you. I shall give you a good, healthy life."

But the diseased man is so impatient: "No, I cannot tolerate. Please kill me!"

So Buddhist and Māyāvādī philosophers are like this. They think, "I want to die; I want to become zero, void." They are feeling so much frustration, so much disturbance from the material miseries, that they want to make their life zero.

Kṛṣṇa consciousness is not like that. Kṛṣṇa consciousness brings you to real life - a life of devotional activity in the liberated stage.

But it is often difficult to understand the philosophy of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Why? That is explained in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (7.5.30): matir na kṛṣṇe parataḥ svato vā mitho 'bhipadyeta gṛha-vratānām. Gṛha means "house," and vrata means "vow." So the Bhāgavatam says, "One who is too interested in maintaining a comfortable family life cannot understand the philosophy of Kṛṣṇa consciousness." Everywhere the common man is interested in attaining bodily comforts, a nice wife, a nice apartment, a nice bank balance. These things are his aspirations, and nothing more.

First of all a person is interested in his body. Gṛha means "house" or "living place." I am a soul, a living being, and my body is my first living place. The body is also a gṛha. But I am not the body. I may live in an apartment, but I am not the apartment. Similarly, I am living in a body, but I am not the body. This understanding is the beginning of spiritual education. Unless a person understands that he is not his body - that he is a spirit soul living in his body - there is no question of spiritual education, because such a person does not know how to distinguish what is spiritual from what is material.

So it is a misunderstanding to think "I am my body. I belong to my apartment. I belong to my society. I belong to my nation. I belong to my world. I belong to my universe." You may expand the idea of gṛha, but it is all a misunderstanding, whether you are a big leader who says, "My life is for my nation," or a common man who says, "My life is for my family," or some childlike person who says, "I am interested only in my body." People very much appreciate it when we expand our conception of self-interest from bodily welfare to family welfare, or from family welfare to community welfare, or from community welfare to national welfare, or from national welfare to the idea of universal brotherhood. But these are all bogus ideas, misconceptions.

However you may expand the gṛha, the defect will remain. For example, the so-called nationalists in America are packed up within the boundary of human beings: they do not expand their affection to other living entities. They believe that the human beings living in America should be given protection but that the animals need no protection. Why? The cows and other animals in America are also nationals; they should also be protected. But the nationalists have no such idea, because nationalism and all such ideas are defective and limited.

So the Bhāgavatam says that as long as a person is interested in keeping himself within the boundary of some limited conception of life he cannot understand Kṛṣṇa consciousness, or God consciousness. Matir na kṛṣṇe parataḥ svato vā. Svataḥ means "by one's personal mental speculation." Many philosophers are thinking they will reach the Absolute Truth by mental speculation. And parataḥ. Parataḥ means "from authorities" - from the spiritual master, the scriptures, or other authoritative sources of knowledge. Our principle is to receive knowledge from the spiritual master. But suppose somebody thinks, "I am American. Why should I hear from a spiritual master who is Hindu?" Such a person will not be able to understand the teachings of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. So those who are gṛha-vratānām, determined to remain within a limited conception of life, cannot understand Kṛṣṇa consciousness - either by their own mental efforts or by taking help from authorities.

Next the Bhāgavatam uses the word mithaḥ, which means "taking part in a great assembly." A good example is the United Nations. The United Nations has been trying to bring world peace for the last twenty, twenty-five years. So why has it not been possible? Because the representatives at the United Nations have a limited conception of life. They think, "I am my body, which was born in such-and-such a nation." The basic principle is wrong, the conception of life is wrong, and therefore the United Nations has failed to bring peace in the world.

Now, why are people limited by a poor conception of life? The Bhāgavatam says, adānta-gobhiḥ. The limited conception of life is caused by unbridled senses. Everyone wants to satisfy his senses, or the senses of his countrymen. So although a man may go to the assembly of the United Nations, he keeps his identity as American or German or Russian or Indian, and he thinks, "My nation shall be happy in such-and-such a way." The Indian is thinking like this, the American is thinking like this, the Russian is thinking like this. But if they keep themselves in that limited conception of life, what benefit will they derive? They will simply talk and waste time. That's all. Only when one goes outside these limited conceptions of life and reaches the brahma-bhūta (SB 4.30.20) stage can one have real peace.

Next the Bhāgavatam describes the position of someone with uncontrolled senses: punaḥ punaś carvita-carvaṇānām (SB 7.5.30). Carvita-carvaṇa means "chewing the chewed." Suppose something is chewed and then thrown away in the street. If somebody comes and again chews that thrown-away article, he cannot get any juice out of it. Similarly, we may try repeatedly to enjoy our senses in this material world, but all our efforts must end in frustration.

We may make so many plans, but because all our plans are on the platform of sense gratification, our whole existence is limited to the four activities of animal life: eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. That's all. Animals and men have these four activities in common. The only extra qualification of man is that he can come to understand Kṛṣṇa, or God. That is his special qualification. But because people keep themselves within the limits of sense gratification, they come again and again to the same platform of eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. Therefore they remain without Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

So, the secret of how to become Kṛṣṇa conscious is that we should not limit ourselves to a narrow conception of life. How is that possible? We must understand, "I am an eternal servant of Kṛṣṇa, or God." That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Now, one may ask, "If understanding Kṛṣṇa is the goal of life, why do people keep themselves within the limit of sense gratification?" That question is answered in the next verse of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (7.5.31): na te viduḥ svārtha-gatiṁ hi viṣṇuṁ durāśayā ye bahir-artha-māninaḥ. This is a very important verse. It says that foolish persons do not know that Viṣṇu, or Kṛṣṇa, is the ultimate goal of their life because they are entrapped by the consciousness of enjoying material nature. Everyone is eager to look after his self-interest, but foolish people do not know what their real self-interest is. They are thinking, "Working hard in the material way of life will give me ultimate pleasure, ultimate satisfaction. That is my ultimate goal." The scientist, the politician - everyone is making his own plan to reach ultimate satisfaction. And how will they fulfill that plan? By manipulating nature, Kṛṣṇa's external energy (bahir-artha-māninaḥ).

We are preaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness, but most people are not interested. Had I been an expert in a new kind of technology, or in teaching an improvement in electronics, thousands of people would be coming to hear me. Because I would have been dealing with the ingredients of the external energy, people would have thought, "This technological knowledge will give me happiness." That is durāśayā, a useless hope. The Bhāgavatam says this kind of material advancement is useless. It will not give you any happiness. But people are foolishly hoping it will.

Now the Bhāgavatam says, andhā yathāndhair upanīyamānāḥ (SB 7.5.31). This means that those people who are hoping for happiness through material advancement are spiritually blind. They do not know the goal of life, and their leaders also do not know the goal of life. People are thinking that with the change of some politician something new will be done and they will be happy. Now there is an advertisement: "America needs Nixon now." People are thinking, "When Nixon will be president instead of Johnson, we shall be happy." (Laughter.) But from which stock are this Johnson and Nixon coming? The source of supply is the same. If the source of supply is the same, what is the use of replacing Johnson with Nixon or Nixon with Johnson?

The leaders are spiritually blind: they do not know the ultimate goal of life. If the people are blind and their leaders are also blind, what will be the result? If a blind man leads one hundred other blind men across the street, certainly there will be some accident. But if the leader can see, he can lead hundreds and thousands of men safely.

Now the Bhāgavatam explains, te 'pīśa-tantryām uru-dāmni baddhāḥ: "Both the blind leaders and their blind followers are very tightly bound by the strong ropes of material nature." The leaders promise, "My dear citizens, my dear countrymen, the country needs me at the present moment. If you give me your vote, I shall give you all comforts, all solutions." But all these leaders are tightly bound up by the laws of God, the laws of nature. You see? If your hands and legs are tightly bound, how can you work? The leaders do not know that they are under the stringent control of the laws of nature. Suppose there is a heavy earthquake, or suppose the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean mix together. Then how can you check the laws of nature? Your hands and legs are tightly bound by nature's laws. You cannot check them. So how can blind leaders, who are so tightly bound up by the laws of nature, lead people to the ultimate goal of life? The ultimate goal of life is God, or Kṛṣṇa, but the leaders are enamored by the glitter of this material nature. So they cannot lead us to Kṛṣṇa.

Then what is the solution to our problem? If it is not possible to attain Kṛṣṇa consciousness by speculation, by assembly meetings, or by deriving knowledge from authoritative sources, then how is it to be attained? How can the goal of life be reached?

The next verse of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (7.5.32) answers this question:

naiṣāṁ matis tāvad urukramāṅghriṁ
spṛśaty anarthāpagamo yad-arthaḥ
mahīyasāṁ pāda-rajo-'bhiṣekaṁ
niṣkiñcanānāṁ na vṛṇīta yāvat

One cannot fix his mind on the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa unless one has the opportunity of touching the dust of the lotus feet of a person who has given up all material hankerings (niṣkiñcanānām) and who has dedicated his life cent percent to Kṛṣṇa (mahīyasām). When one comes in touch with such a person, by his grace one can attain Kṛṣṇa consciousness - not by any other method. One must approach a bona fide spiritual master and by his mercy, by his grace, receive Kṛṣṇa consciousness. And as soon as a person receives initiation into Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he feels spiritual satisfaction, and his liberation from material entanglement begins. Then, as he makes further and further progress, his life becomes sublime.

The first benefit of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is that as soon as a person comes in touch with Kṛṣṇa he immediately gives up all the unwholesome activities of material existence. In fact, we can test if someone is in contact with Kṛṣṇa by seeing how free he is from sinful activity. For example (not a very gigantic example - a very small one), take our students. As soon as they are initiated into Kṛṣṇa consciousness, they immediately give up so many sinful activities. The basic activities of sinful life are illicit sex, intoxication, meat-eating, and gambling. It is very difficult for people to give up all these habits, especially in the Western countries. But my students are giving them up very easily.

In 1935 one of my Godbrothers went to London and met the Marquis of Zetland, a man from Scotland. He was very interested in Indian philosophy. (He had previously been the governor of Bengal, and in my youth I had met him; he had come to my college.) So the marquis inquired from my Godbrother, Goswami Bannerjee: "Bannerjee, can you make me a brāhmaṇa?"

Bannerjee said, "Why not? Yes, we can make you a brāhmaṇa, but you have to follow four rules. You must give up illicit sex, intoxication, meat-eating, and gambling. Then you can become a brāhmaṇa."

"Oh, that is impossible."

You see? The Marquis of Zetland was such a big personality - he was interested in philosophy, he held a high government position, he was a responsible man - yet he flatly denied that he could give up these four sinful habits. But our students, hundreds of boys and girls who are coming to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, are giving up these habits very easily. And they don't feel any inconvenience. This is the first benefit of Kṛṣṇa consciousness: In the very beginning one is finished with all sinful activity.

How can our students give up these things? Because they are feeling spiritual satisfaction in Kṛṣṇa consciousness: Our students can sit down before the Deity and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa for twenty-four hours. Bring any student of any other yoga society and ask him to sit down for five hours. He'll fail; he'll be so restless. These so-called yoga societies simply teach their students some official meditation: fifteen minutes to a half hour of closing the eyes and murmuring something. But our students are engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness twenty-four hours a day. Anyone may come and ask them how they are feeling. Unless they feel some spiritual satisfaction, how can they give up everything and simply serve Kṛṣṇa?

Now, one may ask, "Suppose a person takes up Kṛṣṇa consciousness out of sentiment but he cannot complete the process. What is his position?" This question is also answered in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.5.17):

tyaktvā sva-dharmaṁ caraṇāmbujaṁ harer
bhajann apakvo 'tha patet tato yadi
yatra kva vābhadram abhūd amuṣya kiṁ
ko vārtha āpto 'bhajatāṁ sva-dharmataḥ

The word sva-dharma means "specific duty." Everyone has some specific duty or occupation. So somebody may give up his specific duty and begin practicing Kṛṣṇa consciousness. All of my students were engaged in something else, but all of a sudden they gave it up and joined the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. So, anyone may do this. After hearing some lectures on Kṛṣṇa consciousness, someone may decide, "Now I shall begin Kṛṣṇa consciousness." So he gives up his occupation and begins chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa and following the other devotional principles. But all of a sudden he gives them up. For some reason, because of some unfortunate circumstances, he cannot prosecute Kṛṣṇa consciousness nicely and he gives it up. So the Bhāgavatam says that even if one gives up Kṛṣṇa consciousness because of immaturity, still there is no loss, because he will take it up again in the next life.

But then the Bhāgavatam says, ko vārtha āpto 'bhajatāṁ sva-dharmataḥ: "What profit is there for someone who very steadily engages in his occupational duty but is without any Kṛṣṇa consciousness?" He is simply a loser, because he does not know the aim of his life. But if a person takes to Kṛṣṇa consciousness even for a few days, if he gets the injection of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, in his next life he'll take it up again. So he's not a loser. That one injection will someday make him perfect in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and he's sure to go back to Godhead.

So execute Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and try to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness as far as possible. Rest assured, your efforts will not go in vain. They will not go in vain. Kṛṣṇa will reward you abundantly.

Thank you very much.

The Mercy of Lord Caitanya

More than five hundred years ago, Kṛṣṇa came to this world as Lord Caitanya to freely distribute love of Godhead through the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. In this lecture Śrīla Prabhupāda describes how Lord Caitanya's unlimited mercy can bring true unity among nations. (March of 1975, Atlanta, Georgia)

namo mahā-vadānyāya kṛṣṇa-prema-pradāya te
kṛṣṇāya kṛṣṇa-caitanya-nāmne gaura-tviṣe namaḥ
(CC Madhya 19.53)

"O most munificent incarnation! You are Kṛṣṇa Himself appearing as Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya Mahāprabhu. You have assumed the golden color of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, and You are widely distributing pure love of Kṛṣṇa. We offer our respectful obeisances unto You".

Caitanya Mahāprabhu wanted to preach love of Kṛṣṇa, love of God, not only in India but all over the world. Different religions have many different names of God, and in the Vedic scriptures there are many demigods and incarnations of God. But Kṛṣṇa is the original name of God. As said in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.3.28), ete cāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam. There is a list of incarnations, and at the conclusion of the list the Bhāgavatam says, "In this long list there are many names, but Kṛṣṇa is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead."

God is not like us - He can expand Himself. Even some yogis (not these ordinary, third-class yogis, but those who have attained yogic perfection) can expand their bodies up to at most eight times. There are instances of yogis doing that. So if an ordinary yogi can do that, just imagine how much potency the Supreme Lord has for expanding Himself!

In the Bhagavad-gītā (18.61) Kṛṣṇa says, īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe 'rjuna tiṣṭhati: "My dear Arjuna, the Supreme Lord is situated in every living being's heart." Just imagine how many living entities there are! They cannot be counted. There are many millions of trillions, but even "millions of trillions" is insignificant. There is no counting them. Yet they are all part and parcel of God, and He is living within the heart of each one of them. This is the unlimited potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Consider the sunshine, the sun globe, and the sun-god. The sun-god is within the sun globe, and the inhabitants of the sun globe are all luminous. On account of their bodies' glowing, the whole sun planet is glowing. And on account of the sun planet's glowing, the sunshine reaches us from ninety-three million miles away, and we perceive heat and light. The sun is an ordinary material thing, but it has such great power.

Now, if an ordinary thing like the sun globe is so powerful, how much more powerful must be the Supreme Personality of Godhead! We say, "God is almighty, all-powerful," but we have no idea what is meant by "all-powerful." We think, "I am somewhat powerful, so God may be ten times as powerful as I am." Somebody else may say "twenty times." "All right, let us compromise-fifty times." (Laughter).

This kind of speculation is like the frog's speculation within the well. Once there was a frog within a well, and one of his friends came to him and said, "My dear friend, I have seen a vast mass of water, the Atlantic Ocean."

"What is that Atlantic Ocean?"

"It is vast."

"How vast? Is it ten times bigger than this well? Or twenty times? Come!" (Laughter.)

"No, no, it is very, very vast."

So, the rascal speculation about God is like the speculation of the frog about the Atlantic Ocean. These mundane philosophers and scientists are thinking of God in that way. Dr. Frog's philosophy will not help you understand what God is.

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu's preaching was to distribute love of God. This human life is especially meant for understanding what God is and loving Him. That's all. This is our only business. The cats and dogs and other lower animals - if you preach to them about Kṛṣṇa consciousness, they will not understand. But human beings can understand. For example, this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is being spread all over the world, and as you can see, here in your country people are understanding. That is the special advantage of human life.

One Christian priest in Boston was astonished to see our devotees. He issued a leaflet saying, "These Hare Kṛṣṇa boys are our boys. Before they joined this movement they did not care to see us or come to the church, but now they are mad after God." So this movement is certified by a Christian priest.

And actually, you can see the potency of Lord Caitanya's movement. I am a poor Indian; I came to America with forty rupees. I had no money to bribe these young people. (Laughter.) But now they are mad after God. It is practical. Now if you try to bribe them to leave this movement, they will not go.

So, what is the intoxication? These boys and girls have given up all intoxication, but they are now "intoxicated" with "Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa." This is the mercy of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. A draft-board officer came to see one of our centers. He said, "What is the facility you have given these boys who have joined the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement? It must be much easier than the army." But when he investigated, he saw that these boys and girls are prohibited from engaging in illicit sex, intoxication, meat-eating, and gambling. So he concluded that this movement is actually harder than the army. The army does not make these restrictions, which are very, very difficult to follow. But by the mercy of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, these boys and girls are following them.

Every human being should accept the mercy of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. That is the purport of the verse Rūpa Gosvāmī offered to Lord Caitanya upon seeing Him: namo mahā-vadānyāya. "You are the most munificent incarnation of God." Why? "You are distributing kṛṣṇa-prema, love of God. People do not know what God is, yet You are distributing love of Godhead."

Ordinarily one cannot love anybody unless he knows the other party very well. Only then is there a question of love. If you and I live ten thousand miles apart, there is no question of love. For love there must be intimacy.

So, to understand God is very difficult. In the Bhagavad-gītā (7.3), Kṛṣṇa says,

manuṣyāṇāṁ sahasreṣu kaścid yatati siddhaye
yatatām api siddhānāṁ kaścin māṁ vetti tattvataḥ

"Out of many millions of persons, one is interested in making his life perfect. And out of all those who are actually perfect, hardly one knows Me as I am."

Perfection does not mean that I can eat whatever I like, without any restriction. Or that I have a very nice car, a very nice apartment, and a big bank balance. This is not perfection, because I remain under the grip of the laws of material nature. Prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ (BG 3.27). The material nature is controlling me.

How is the material nature controlling? She has a machine made of the three modes of nature. Kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo 'sya sad-asad-yoni-janmasu (BG 13.22). People are contacting these three modes of nature and thus being "infected." We know that if we contract some disease, knowingly or unknowingly, that disease will develop. This is the law of nature. Even if you do not know when or how you contracted a particular disease, that is no excuse. You must suffer.

Similarly, there are three modes of material nature one can become "infected" by-goodness, passion, and ignorance. Not knowing about this is no excuse. If in the law court you say "Your Honor, I did not know I would be punished for stealing," the magistrate or judge will not excuse you. And if the government law is so strict, you can imagine how strict are the stringent laws of material nature.

Knowingly or unknowingly, in this life we are being infected by a particular combination of the modes of material nature and thus creating our next body. There are 8,400,000 different varieties of life forms. Why? The answer is in the Bhagavad-gītā: kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgaḥ. There are so many different species of life because each living entity is becoming infected with a particular combination of the qualities of material nature. This is going on perpetually. "Perpetually" means we do not know when this process began or when it will end. Therefore we say it is perpetual.

In this human form of life we have the great advantage of being able to study all these things - what is the living entity, how he is being infected by material nature, and how he is taking different bodies. The first thing we must understand is that we are not the body. Therefore in the very beginning of the Bhagavad-gītā Lord Kṛṣṇa tries to impress upon us that we are not this body but rather the owner or occupier of the body. This is His first instruction. If we understand this instruction, we can rise above the bodily platform.

Caitanya Mahāprabhu's movement is not on the bodily platform; it is on the spiritual platform. This He explained when He talked with Sanātana Gosvāmī. Sanātana asked, "What is my identity?" He was a very learned man - a minister and a brāhmaṇa. He knew Sanskrit and Urdu very well. Because the kingdom he lived in was Muslim, Urdu was the state language, just as during the British period the state language was English. So, Sanātana Gosvāmī was quite conversant with Urdu, Farsi, and Sanskrit. Therefore he said to Sri Caitanya Mahāprabhu, "Ordinary people address me as paṇḍitjī, a very learned man, but I know my position. I do not know what I am. This is my position."

Now, if you ask a big, big doctor, scientist, or philosopher, "What are you?" he will say, "I am an Indian," or "I am an American," or "I am this, I am that." Bodily designations, that's all. He is fool number one, and still he is passing as a great scientist, a great philosopher.

If one does not know himself, what is the value of his learning? One must know his own identity. Everyone is identifying with his body: "I am Hindu," "I am Muslim," "I am Christian," "I am Indian," "I am American," "I am German," "I am English." This is why so much fighting is going on. The living entity is part and parcel of God, a spiritual spark covered by a material body. For example, we are all human beings covered by different clothes. That does not mean we are essentially different. We are one as human beings, as inhabitants of this earth. But due to our different bodily dress, I am thinking you are my enemy, and you are thinking I am your enemy.

The Bhāgavatam's conclusion is yasyātma-buddhiḥ kuṇape tri-dhātuke sva-dhiḥ kalatrādiṣu bhauma-ijya-dhiḥ ... sa eva go-kharaḥ: (SB 10.84.13) "Anyone who is identifying himself with his body, and family, and also with the land his body has taken birth in, is no better than an ass or a cow." Everyone is thinking, "This land of my birth is worshipable." And from this mentality comes nationalism or this "ism" or that "ism." But no one thinks, "How long shall I be allowed to occupy this body and this land?" This is ignorance.

So, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu's movement starts from the understanding that we are spirit souls, eternal servants of Kṛṣṇa. This teaching is the same as Kṛṣṇa's in the Bhagavad-gītā. There the Lord says, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja: (BG 18.66) "Give up your so-called man-made duties, or dharmas, and just surrender unto Me." This is real dharma, or religion - to surrender to God.

God is one. He is neither Hindu nor Muslim nor Christian. The Vedic injunction is ekaṁ brahma dvitīyaṁ nāsti: "God is one; He cannot be two." So whether you are Hindu, Muslim, or Christian, God is one. This is to be understood.

Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the science of God. Try to understand scientifically what you are and what God is and what religion is. That is Caitanya Mahāprabhu's teaching. He begins His teachings to Sanātana Gosvāmī by saying jīvera 'svarūpa' haya-kṛṣṇera 'nitya-dāsa': (CC Madhya 20.108) "Every living being is an eternal servant of God." This is religion. Religion does not mean stamping oneself as a Hindu, a Muslim, or a Christian. No. Religion means to know that God is great and that we are subordinate to Him and maintained by Him. This is religion. If anyone simply knows these things - that God is great and we are subordinate, and that our duty is to abide by the orders of God - he is religious.

Unity can be established on the spiritual platform, not on the bodily platform. The United Nations is trying to unite the nations of the world, but every year the number of flags is increasing. This kind of so-called unity will never be successful. The United Nations was established many years ago to bring unity among nations. So, what has it done? It has not done anything, nor can it do anything.

If you want to be united, you have to be united on the spiritual platform. And what is that spiritual platform? The spiritual platform means to understand thoroughly that God is great, that we are subordinate, and that God is maintaining us. All the property everywhere belongs to God, and while we can use our father's property as much as we require, we should not take more than we need and stock it.

The birds are a good example. If you put a bag of rice in the street, the birds will come and eat a few grains and go away. But if you put, say, one thousand bags of wheat in the street and declare that anyone can take them, there will be a fight. Everyone will try to take as much as he can carry. This is human civilization: "Oh, there is so much wheat. Let me take as much as possible and stock it for tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Let me stock it for my son, my grandson, and my great-grandson." (Laughter.)

This foolishness is going on because of a lack of spiritual consciousness. As stated in the Vedas, īśāvāsyam idaṁ sarvam: (ISO 1) "Everything belongs to God." The food belongs to God, the mine belongs to God, the ocean belongs to God, the land belongs to God, the air belongs to God - everything belongs to God. So we should feel obliged to God that he has given us so much for our maintenance. We should take as much as we need and use as much as possible in His service. This is Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Kṛṣṇa consciousness is actually perfect communism. The communists think in terms of the human beings within the state, but a Kṛṣṇa conscious person thinks in terms of all living beings. In the Bhāgavatam it is stated that a householder, before taking his lunch, should call out on the street: "If anyone is hungry, please come to my place and eat!" And he should see that in his household even the lizard does not go hungry. Even a snake should not hungry. This is the Vedic principle, God consciousness. The householder thinks, "Somehow or other some living entity has taken a snake's body. So at my house why should he remain hungry? Let me give him some food." Nobody likes snakes, but in the scripture it is said that one should see to it that even a snake does not go hungry.

Of course, this is a very high ideal, but it is the complete ideal of real communism. It is not that national leaders should be concerned only with human beings. The definition of native is "one who takes birth in a particular nation." So, the cow is also a native. Then why should the cow be slaughtered? The cow is giving milk and the bull is working for you, and then you slaughter them? What is this philosophy? In the Christian religion it is clearly stated, "Thou shalt not kill." Yet most of the slaughterhouses are in the Christian countries.

This is all a misunderstanding of spiritual life. Every animal should be given protection. That is the Vedic idea. Otherwise, by killing, killing, killing, you become entangled in sinful activities. Therefore now the women are killing their own children in the womb. This is going on.

We cannot be happy in this way, because we shall become more and more entangled in sinful actions and their resultant reactions. Then we will have to take various types of bodies, perpetually.

Therefore, we have begun this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. By taking advantage of this movement, people can awaken to God consciousness, stop sinful activities, and become purified. Without becoming purified, one cannot understand God. It is not possible. As Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā (7.28),

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

"One who is completely free from sinful life can take to devotional service with great determination."

That is why we have prescribed four regulative principles: no illicit sex, no meat-eating, no gambling, and no intoxication. Especially in your country, America, you have so many nice vegetables, fruits, grains, and milk products. So why should you kill the cow? You have taken our prasādam feasts. How delicious they are! So why kill the cow?

Sometimes people argue that vegetables also have life. Yes, we admit this. But that is why we eat only prasādam, food offered to Kṛṣṇa before being eaten. Whatever Kṛṣṇa leaves, we take. This is our process. We don't take directly. So, while the vegetables have life, Kṛṣṇa says, patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ yo me bhaktyā prayacchati tad ahaṁ ... aśnāmi: (BG 9.26) "If one lovingly offers Me a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or water, I will accept it." Then there is no sin in eating the vegetables.

We have invited Kṛṣṇa as our guest, and He has consented to come here. So we must offer Him the foods He wants. That is proper etiquette. If some respectable guest comes to your house, you should ask him, "What would you like to eat, sir?" Whatever he asks for, you have to supply. That is the real way of receiving a guest.

So Kṛṣṇa says, "Give Me food among these items: fruits, vegetables, grains, and milk products. And that also with devotion, not neglectfully. Then I will accept it." Therefore we prepare hundreds of items with these ingredients and offer them to Kṛṣṇa, and you can also do that. They are all delicious and full of vitamins. Then why should you unnecessarily kill the poor animals and become vicious and sinful?

This is Kṛṣṇa Caitanya Mahāprabhu's teaching: Live peacefully, be a gentleman, chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, realize God, and make your life happy in this world and the next. He wanted this teaching spread to every town, every city, every village in the world. And the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement is just trying to serve Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. You can see how beneficial this Kṛṣṇa consciousness is. Please don't be blind, but try to consider it a little liberally, without any sophistry or prejudice. Try to understand the philosophy of Caitanya Mahāprabhu and be happy.

Thank you very much.