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SSR 5: Practicing Yoga in the Modern Age

Superconsciousness

The goals of modern-day Western yoga enthusiasts are dwarfed by the achievements of India's ancient yogīs, who, according to historical accounts, could become smaller than atoms and lighter than air and who could travel, unaided, anywhere in the universe. Yet even these superachievements, says Śrīla Prabhupāda, are "only a step forward." How the true pinnacle of human consciousness, superconsciousness, is obtainable—here and now—is disclosed by Śrīla Prabhupāda in the following talk given in 1967.

Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the highest yoga performance by trained devotional yogīs. The yoga system, as is stated in the standard yoga practice formula given by Lord Kṛṣṇa in the Bhagavad-gītā, and as recommended in the Patañjali yoga discipline, is different from the nowadays practiced haṭha-yoga as is generally understood in the Western countries.

Real yoga practice means to control the senses and, after such control is established, to concentrate the mind on the Nārāyaṇa form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Lord Kṛṣṇa is the original Absolute Personality, the Godhead, and all the other Viṣṇu forms—with four hands, decorated with conch, lotus, club, and wheel—are plenary expansions of Kṛṣṇa.

In the Bhagavad-gītā it is recommended that we should meditate upon the form of the Lord. For practicing concentration of the mind, one has to sit down in a secluded place sanctified by a sacred atmosphere, and the yogī should observe the rules and regulations of brahmacarya—to live a life of strict self-restraint and celibacy. No one can practice yoga in a congested city, living a life of extravagance, including unrestricted sex indulgence and adultery of the tongue.

We have already stated that yoga practice means controlling the senses, and the beginning of controlling the senses is to control the tongue. You cannot allow the tongue to take all kinds of forbidden food and drink, and at the same time improve in the practice of yoga. It is a very regrettable fact that many stray, unauthorized so-called yogīs now come to the West and exploit the leaning of the people toward yoga. Such unauthorized yogīs even dare to say publicly that one can indulge in drinking and at the same time practice meditation.

Five thousand years ago, in the Bhagavad-gītā dialogue, Lord Kṛṣṇa recommended the yoga practice to His disciple Arjuna, but Arjuna flatly expressed his inability to follow the stringent rules and regulations of yoga. One should be practical in every field of activity. One should not waste his valuable time simply in practicing some gymnastic feats in the name of yoga. Real yoga is to search out the four-handed Supersoul within one's heart and to see Him perpetually in meditation. Such continued meditation is called samādhi. If, however, one wants to meditate upon something void or impersonal, it will require a very long time to achieve anything by yoga practice. We cannot concentrate our mind on something void or impersonal. Real yoga practice is to fix the mind on the person of the four-handed Nārāyaṇa who dwells in everyone's heart.

Sometimes it is said that by meditation one will understand that God is seated within one's heart always, even when one does not know it. God is seated within the heart of everyone. Not only is He seated in the heart of the human being, but He is also within the hearts of the cats and dogs. The Bhagavad-gītā certifies this with the declaration that Īśvara, the supreme controller of the world, is seated in the heart of everyone. He is present not only in everyone's heart, but also within the atoms. No place is vacant; no place is without the presence of the Lord.

The feature of the Lord by which He is present everywhere is called the Paramātmā. Ātmā means the individual soul, and Paramātmā means the individual Supersoul. Both ātmā and Paramātmā are individual persons. The difference between them, however, is that the ātmā, or soul, is present only in one particular place, whereas the Paramātmā is present everywhere.

In this connection, the example of the sun is very nice. An individual person may be situated in one place, but the sun, even though a specific individual entity, is present over the head of every individual person. In the Bhagavad-gītā this is very nicely explained. Therefore, even though the qualities of all entities, including the Lord, are equal, the Supersoul is different from the individual soul by quantity of expansion. The Lord, or Supersoul, can expand Himself into millions of different forms, while the individual soul cannot do so.

The Supersoul, being seated in everyone's heart, can witness everyone's activities, past, present, and future. In the Upaniṣads the Supersoul is said to be sitting with the individual soul as a friend and witness. As a friend He is always anxious to get the individual soul back home, back to Godhead. As a witness, He is the endower of all benedictions that result from the individual's actions. The Supersoul gives the individual soul all facility for achieving whatever he may desire. But He instructs His friend, so that he may ultimately give up all other engagements and simply surrender unto God for perpetual bliss and eternal life, full of knowledge. This is the last instruction of the Bhagavad-gītā, the most authorized and widely read book on all forms of yoga.

The last word of the Bhagavad-gītā, as stated above, is the last word in the matter of perfecting the yoga system. It is further stated in the Bhagavad-gītā that a person who is always absorbed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the topmost yogī. What is this Kṛṣṇa consciousness?

Just as the individual soul is present by his consciousness throughout the whole body, so the Supersoul, or Paramātmā, is present throughout the whole creation by His superconsciousness. This superconsciousness cannot be imitated by the individual soul, who has limited awareness: I can understand what is going on within my limited body, but I cannot feel what is going on in another's body. I am present all over my body by my consciousness, but I am not present in any other's body by my consciousness. However, the Supersoul, or Paramātmā, being present within everyone, situated everywhere, is conscious of every existence. The theory that the soul and the Supersoul are one is not acceptable, because the individual soul's consciousness cannot act in superconsciousness. This superconsciousness can only be achieved by dovetailing individual consciousness with the superconsciousness; and this dovetailing process is called surrender, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

From the teachings of the Bhagavad-gītā we learn very clearly that Arjuna in the beginning did not want to fight with his relatives, but after understanding the Bhagavad-gītā, when he dovetailed his consciousness with the superconsciousness of Kṛṣṇa, his consciousness was Kṛṣṇa consciousness. A person in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness acts by the dictation of Kṛṣṇa, and so Arjuna agreed to fight the Battle of Kurukṣetra.

In the beginning of Kṛṣṇa consciousness this dictation of the Lord is received through the transparent medium of the spiritual master. When one is sufficiently trained and acts with submissive faith and love for Kṛṣṇa, under the direction of the bona fide spiritual master, the dovetailing process becomes more firm and accurate. At this stage Kṛṣṇa dictates from within. From without, the devotee is helped by the spiritual master, the bona fide representative of Kṛṣṇa, and from within the Lord helps the devotee as caitya-guru, being seated within the heart of everyone.

Simply to understand that God is seated in everyone's heart is not perfection. One has to be acquainted with God from within and without and thus act in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. This is the highest perfectional stage for the human form of life, and the topmost stage in all yoga systems.

For a perfect yogī there are eight kinds of superachievements:

1. One can become smaller than an atom.

2. One can become bigger than a mountain.

3. One can become lighter than the air.

4. One can become heavier than any metal.

5. One can achieve any material effect he likes (create a planet, for example).

6. One can control others like the Lord can.

7. One can freely travel anywhere within (or beyond) the universe.

8. One can choose his own time and place of death, and take rebirth wherever he may desire.

But when one rises to the perfectional stage of receiving dictation from the Lord, one is above the stage of the material achievements above mentioned.

The breathing exercise of the yoga system that is generally practiced is just the beginning of the system. Meditation on the Supersoul is just a step forward. Achievement of wonderful material success is also only a step forward. But to attain direct contact with the Supersoul and to take dictation from Him is the highest perfectional stage.

The breathing exercises and meditational practices of yoga are very difficult in this age. They were difficult even five thousand years ago, or else Arjuna would not have rejected the proposal of Kṛṣṇa. This age of Kali is called a fallen age. At the present moment, people in general are short-living and very slow in understanding self-realization, or spiritual life. They are mostly unfortunate, and as such, if someone is a little bit interested in self-realization, he is misguided by so many frauds. The only actual way to realization of the perfect stage of yoga is to follow the principles of the Bhagavad-gītā as they were practiced by Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. This is the simplest and highest perfection of yoga practice.

Lord Caitanya practically demonstrated Kṛṣṇa consciousness yoga simply by chanting the holy names of Kṛṣṇa, as they are mentioned in the Vedānta, the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, and many important Purāṇas. The largest number of Indians follow this yoga practice, and in the United States and other countries also it is gradually growing in many cities. It is very easy and practical for this age, especially for those who are serious about success in yoga. No other process can be successful in this age.

The meditational process in right earnest was possible in the Golden Age, Satya-yuga, because the people at that time lived for a hundred thousand years on the average.

In the present age, however, if you want success in practical yoga, take to the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare, and feel for yourself how you are making progress. One should know for himself how much he is progressing in yoga practice.

In the Bhagavad-gītā this practice of Kṛṣṇa consciousness is described as rāja-vidyā, the king of all erudition; rāja-guhyam, the most confidential system of spiritual realization; pavitram, the purest of all that is pure; susukham, very happily performed; and avyayam, inexhaustible.

Those who have taken to this most sublime bhakti-yoga system, this practice of devotional service in transcendental love of Kṛṣṇa, can testify to how they are nicely enjoying its happy and easy execution. Yoga means controlling the senses, and bhakti-yoga means purifying the senses. When the senses are purified, they are also, automatically, controlled. You cannot stop the activities of the senses by artificial means, but if you purify the senses, not only are they kept back from rubbish engagement, but also they become positively engaged in transcendental service to the Lord.

Kṛṣṇa consciousness is not manufactured by us through mental speculation. It is prescribed in the Bhagavad-gītā, which says that when we think in Kṛṣṇa, chant in Kṛṣṇa, live in Kṛṣṇa, eat in Kṛṣṇa, talk in Kṛṣṇa, hope in Kṛṣṇa, and sustain in Kṛṣṇa, we return to Kṛṣṇa, without any doubt. And this is the substance of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

The Appearance of Lord Caitanya

Only five hundred years ago Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu, a great saint and mystic, prophesied that the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra would resound throughout every town and village in the world. At a time when Western man was directing his exploratory spirit toward studying the physical universe and circumnavigating the globe, in India Śrī Caitanya was inaugurating and masterminding a revolution directed inward. His movement swept the subcontinent, gained millions of followers, and profoundly influenced the future of religious and philosophical thinking, both in India and the West. In the following talk, presented in November 1969 at London's Conway Hall, Śrīla Prabhupāda describes the divine appearance of Śrī Caitanya.

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the golden avatāra, appeared in India nearly five hundred years ago. It is the custom in India that when a child is born, an astrologer is called for. When Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, appeared five thousand years ago, Gargamuni was called by His father, and he said, "This child formerly incarnated in three complexions, such as red and golden, and now He has appeared in blackish color." Kṛṣṇa's color is described in the scriptures as blackish, just like the color of a cloud. Lord Caitanya is understood to be Kṛṣṇa appearing in golden complexion.

There is much evidence in Vedic literature that Caitanya Mahāprabhu is an incarnation of Kṛṣṇa, and this is confirmed by scholars and devotees. In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is confirmed that the incarnation of Kṛṣṇa, or God, in this present age, Kali-yuga, will always engage in describing Kṛṣṇa. He is Kṛṣṇa, but as a devotee of Kṛṣṇa He describes Himself. And in this age His bodily complexion will not be blackish. This means that it may be white, it may be red, or it may be yellow, because these four colors—white, red, yellow, and black—are the colors assumed by the incarnations for the different ages. Therefore, since the red, white, and blackish colors were already taken by former incarnations, the remaining color, golden, is assumed by Caitanya Mahāprabhu. His complexion is not blackish, but He is Kṛṣṇa.

Another feature of this avatāra is that He is always accompanied by His associates. In the picture of Caitanya Mahāprabhu one will find that He is always followed by many devotees chanting. Whenever God incarnates He has two missions, as stated in the Bhagavad-gītā. There Kṛṣṇa says, "Whenever I appear, My mission is to deliver the pious devotees and to annihilate the demons." When Kṛṣṇa appeared, He had to kill many demons. If we see a picture of Viṣṇu we will notice that He has a conchshell, lotus flower, club, and disc. These last two items are meant for killing demons. Within this world there are two classes of men—the demons and the devotees. The devotees are called demigods; they are almost like God because they have godly qualities. Those who are devotees are called godly persons, and those who are nondevotees, atheists, are called demons. So Kṛṣṇa, or God, comes with two missions: to give protection to the devotees and to destroy the demons. In this age Caitanya Mahāprabhu's mission is also like that: to deliver the devotees and to annihilate the nondevotees, the demons. But in this age He has a different weapon. That weapon is not a club or disc or lethal weapon—His weapon is the saṅkīrtana movement. He killed the demoniac mentality of the people by introducing the saṅkīrtana movement. That is the specific significance of Lord Caitanya. In this age people are already killing themselves. They have discovered atomic weapons with which to kill themselves, so there is no need for God to kill them. But He appeared to kill their demonic mentality. That is possible by this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement.

Therefore, in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is said that this is the incarnation of God in this age. And who worships Him? The process is very simple. Just keep a picture of Lord Caitanya with His associates. Lord Caitanya is in the middle, accompanied by His principal associates—Nityānanda, Advaita, Gadādhara, and Śrīvāsa. One simply has to keep this picture. One can keep it anywhere. It is not that one has to come to us to see this picture. Anyone can have this picture in his home, chant this Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, and thus worship Lord Caitanya. That is the simple method. But who will capture this simple method? Those who have good brains. Without much bother, if one simply keeps a picture of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu at home and chants Hare Kṛṣṇa, then one will realize God. Anyone can adopt this simple method. There is no expenditure, there is no tax, nor is there any need to build a very big church or temple. Anyone, anywhere, can sit down on the road or beneath a tree and chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra and worship God. Therefore it is a great opportunity. For example, in business or political life one sometimes finds a great opportunity. Those who are intelligent politicians take a good opportunity and make a success of it the first time it comes. Similarly, in this age, those who have sufficient intelligence take to this saṅkīrtana movement, and they advance very quickly.

Lord Caitanya is called "the golden avatāra." Avatāra means "descending, coming down." Just as one may come down from the fifth story or the one-hundredth story of a building, an avatāra comes down from the spiritual planets in the spiritual sky. The sky we see with our naked eyes or with a telescope is only the material sky. But beyond this there is another sky, which is not possible to see with our eyes or instruments. That information is in the Bhagavad-gītā; it is not imagination. Kṛṣṇa says that beyond the material sky is another sky, the spiritual sky.

We have to take Kṛṣṇa's word as it is. For example, we teach small children that beyond England there are other places, called Germany, India, etc., and the child has to learn about these places from the version of the teacher because they are beyond his sphere. Similarly, beyond this material sky there is another sky. One cannot experiment to find it, any more than a small child can experiment to find Germany or India. That is not possible. If we want to get knowledge, then we have to accept authority. Similarly, if we want to know what is beyond the material world then we have to accept the Vedic authority, otherwise there is no possibility of knowing. It is beyond material knowledge. One cannot go to the far planets in this universe, what to speak of going beyond this universe. The estimation is that in order to go to the highest planet of this universe with modern machinery one would have to travel for forty thousand light-years. So we cannot even travel within this material sky. Our lifetime and means are so limited that we cannot have proper knowledge of even this material world.

In the Bhagavad-gītā, when Arjuna asked Kṛṣṇa, "Will you kindly explain the extent to which Your energies are working?" the Supreme Lord gave him so many instances, and at the end He finally said, "My dear Arjuna, what shall I explain about My energies? It is not actually possible for you to understand. But you can just imagine the expansion of My energies: this material world, which consists of millions of universes, is a display of only one fourth of My creation." We cannot estimate the position of even one universe, and there are millions of universes. Then beyond that is the spiritual sky, and there are millions of spiritual planets. All this information is available from the Vedic literature. If one accepts Vedic literature, then he can get this knowledge. If one doesn't accept it, there is no other means. That is our choice. Therefore, according to Vedic civilization, whenever an ācārya speaks he immediately gives references from the Vedic literature. Then others will accept it: "Yes, it is correct." In a law court the lawyer gives references from past judgments of the court, and if his case is tight, the judge accepts. Similarly, if one can give evidence from the Vedas, then it is understood that his position is factual.

The avatāra for this age, Lord Caitanya, is described in Vedic literature. We cannot accept anyone as an avatāra unless he has the symptoms described in the scriptures. We do not whimsically accept Lord Caitanya as an avatāra on the basis of votes. Nowadays it has become a fashion that any man can come and say that he is God or an incarnation of God, and some fools and rascals will accept it: "Oh, he is God." We do not accept an avatāra like that. We take evidence from the Vedas. An avatāra must conform to descriptions in the Vedas. Then we accept him; otherwise no. For each avatāra there is a description in the Vedas: He will appear at such and such a place, in such and such a form, and He will act like this. That is the nature of Vedic evidence.

In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam there is a list of the avatāras, and there is mention of Lord Buddha's name. This Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam was written five thousand years ago, and it mentions different names for future times. It says that in the future the Lord would appear as Lord Buddha, his mother's name would be Añjanā, and he would appear in Gayā. So Buddha appeared twenty-six hundred years ago, and the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which was written five thousand years ago, mentioned that in the future he would appear. Similarly, there is mention of Lord Caitanya, and similarly the last avatāra of this Kali-yuga is also mentioned in the Bhāgavatam. It is mentioned that the last incarnation in this age is Kalki. He will appear as the son of a brāhmaṇa whose name is Viṣṇu-yaśā, in a place called Śambhala. There is a place in India with that name, so perhaps it is there that the Lord will appear.

So an avatāra must conform to the descriptions in the Upaniṣads, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Mahābhārata, and other Vedic literatures. And on the authority of Vedic literature and the commentary of great, stalwart gosvāmīs like Jīva Gosvāmī, who was the greatest scholar and philosopher in the world, we can accept Lord Caitanya as an incarnation of Kṛṣṇa.

Why did Lord Caitanya appear? In the Bhagavad-gītā Lord Kṛṣṇa says, "Give up all other engagements and simply engage in My service. I will give you protection from all results of sinful actions." In this material world, in conditional life, we are simply creating sinful reactions. That's all. And because of sinful reactions, we have received this body. If our sinful reactions stopped we would not have to take a material body; we should get a spiritual body.

What is a spiritual body? A spiritual body is a body which is free from death, birth, disease, and old age. It is an eternal body, full of knowledge and bliss. Different bodies are created by different desires. As long as we have desires for different kinds of enjoyment, we have to accept different kinds of material bodies. Kṛṣṇa, God, is so kind that He awards whatever we want. If we want a tiger's body, with tigerlike strength and teeth with which to capture animals and suck fresh blood, then Kṛṣṇa will give us the opportunity. And if we want the body of a saintly person, a devotee engaged only in the service of the Lord, then He will give us that body. This is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā.

If a person engaged in yoga, the process of self-realization, somehow or other fails to complete the process, he is given another chance; he is given birth in a family of a pure brāhmaṇa or a rich man. If one is fortunate enough to take birth in such a family, he gets all facilities to understand the importance of self-realization. From the very beginning of life our Kṛṣṇa conscious children are getting the opportunity to learn how to chant and dance, so when they are grown up they will not change, but instead will automatically make progress. They are very fortunate. Regardless of whether he is born in America or Europe, a child will advance if his father and mother are devotees. He gets this opportunity. If a child takes birth in a family of devotees, this means that in his last life he had already taken to the yoga process, but somehow or other he could not finish it. Therefore the child is given another opportunity to make progress under the care of a good father and mother so that he will again advance. In this way, as soon as one completes his development of God consciousness, then he no longer has to take birth in this material world, but returns to the spiritual world.

Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā: "My dear Arjuna, if one understands My appearance, disappearance, and activities, simply because of this understanding he is given the opportunity to take birth in the spiritual world after giving up this body." One has to give up this body—today, tomorrow, or maybe the day after that. One has to. But a person who has understood Kṛṣṇa will not have to take another material body. He goes directly to the spiritual world and takes birth in one of the spiritual planets. So Kṛṣṇa says that as soon as one gets this body—it doesn't matter if it is from India or the moon or the sun or Brahmaloka or anywhere within this material world—one should know that it is due to his sinful activities. There are degrees of sinful activities, so according to the degree of sinfulness, one takes a material body. Therefore our real problem is not how to eat, sleep, mate, and defend—our real problem is how to get a body that is not material but spiritual. That is the ultimate solution to all problems. So Kṛṣṇa guarantees that if one surrenders unto Him, if one becomes fully Kṛṣṇa conscious, then He will give one protection from all reactions to sinful life.

This assurance was given by Kṛṣṇa in the Bhagavad-gītā, but there were many fools who could not understand Kṛṣṇa. In the Bhagavad-gītā they are described as mūḍhas. Mūḍha means "rascal," and Kṛṣṇa says in the Gītā, "They do not know what I actually am." So many people misunderstood Kṛṣṇa. Although Kṛṣṇa gave us this message of the Bhagavad-gītā so that we could understand Him, many people missed the opportunity. Therefore Kṛṣṇa, out of His compassion, came again, as a devotee, and showed us how to surrender unto Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa Himself came to teach us how to surrender. His last instruction in the Bhagavad-gītā is to surrender, but people—mūḍhas, rascals—said, "Why should I surrender?" Therefore, although Caitanya Mahāprabhu is Kṛṣṇa Himself, this time He teaches us practically how to execute the mission of the Bhagavad-gītā. That's all. Caitanya Mahāprabhu is teaching nothing extraordinary, nothing beyond the process of surrendering to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, which was already taught in the Bhagavad-gītā. There is no other teaching, but the same teaching is presented in different ways so that different kinds of people may take it and take the opportunity to approach God.

Caitanya Mahāprabhu gives us the opportunity to reach God directly. When Rūpa Gosvāmī, the principal disciple of Lord Caitanya, first saw Caitanya Mahāprabhu, he was a minister in the government of Bengal but wanted to join Caitanya Mahāprabhu's movement. So he gave up his position as a minister, and after joining, when he surrendered, he offered a nice prayer to Lord Caitanya. This prayer says:

namo mahā-vadānyāya
kṛṣṇa-prema-pradāya te
kṛṣṇāya kṛṣṇa-caitanya-
nāmne gaura-tviṣe namaḥ
[Cc. Madhya 19.53]

"My dear Lord, You are the most munificent of all the incarnations." Why? Kṛṣṇa-prema-pradāya te: "You are directly giving love of God. You have no other purpose. Your process is so nice that one can immediately learn to love God. Therefore You are the most munificent of all incarnations. And it is not possible for any personality other than Kṛṣṇa Himself to deliver this benediction; therefore I say that You are Kṛṣṇa." Kṛṣṇāya kṛṣṇa-caitanya-nāmne: "You are Kṛṣṇa, but You have assumed the name Kṛṣṇa Caitanya. I surrender unto You."

So this is the process. Caitanya Mahāprabhu is Kṛṣṇa Himself, and He is teaching how to develop love of God by a very simple method. He says simply to chant Hare Kṛṣṇa.

harer nāma harer nāma
harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva
nāsty eva gatir anyathā
[Cc. Ādi 17.21]

"In this age, simply go on chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. There is no other alternative." People are embarrassed by so many methods of realization. They cannot take to the actual ritualistic processes of meditation or yoga; it is not possible. Therefore Lord Caitanya says that if one takes up this process of chanting, then immediately he can reach the platform of realization.

The chanting process offered by Lord Caitanya for achieving love of God is called saṅkīrtana. Saṅkīrtana is a Sanskrit word. Sam means samyak—"complete." And kīrtana means "glorifying" or "describing." So complete description means complete glorification of the Supreme, or the Supreme Complete Whole. It is not that one can describe anything or glorify anything and that will be kīrtana. From the grammatical point of view that may be kīrtana, but according to the Vedic system, kīrtana means describing the supreme authority, the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is called kīrtana.

This devotional service begins with the method of śravaṇa. Śravaṇa means "hearing," and kīrtana means "describing." One should describe, and another should hear. Or the same man himself can both describe and hear. He does not need anyone else's help. When we chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, we chant and hear. This is complete. This is a complete method. But what is that chanting and hearing? One must chant and hear about Viṣṇu, Kṛṣṇa. Not of anything else. Śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ: [SB 7.5.23] one can understand Viṣṇu, the all-pervading Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by the method of hearing.

We have to hear; if one simply hears, that is the beginning. One does not need any education or development of material knowledge. Just like a child: as soon as he hears, immediately he can respond and dance. So by nature God has given us these nice instruments—ears—so that we can hear. But we must hear from the right source. That is stated in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. One must hear from those who are devoted to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They are called satām. If one hears from the right source, from a realized soul, then it will act. And these words of God, or Kṛṣṇa, are very relishable. If one is intelligent enough, he will listen to what is spoken by the realized soul. Then very soon he will be released from material entanglements.

This human life is meant for advancing on the path of liberation. That is called apavarga, freedom from entanglement. We are all entangled. Our acceptance of this material body means that we are already entangled. But we should not progress in the process of entanglement. That process is called karma. As long as the mind is absorbed in karma, we will have to accept a material body. At the time of death, our mind may be thinking, "Oh, I could not complete this work. Oh, I am dying! I have to do this. I have to do that." This means that Kṛṣṇa will give us another chance to do it, and so we will have to accept another body. He will give us the chance: "All right. You could not do it. Now do it. Take this body." Therefore the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam says, "These rascals have become madly intoxicated; because of intoxication they are doing something they should not have done." What are they doing? Mahārāja Dhṛtarāṣṭra is a very good example. Mahārāja Dhṛtarāṣṭra was cunningly planning to kill the Pāṇḍavas in order to favor his own sons, so Kṛṣṇa sent His uncle, Akrūra, to advise him not to do that. Dhṛtarāṣṭra understood Akrūra's instructions, but he said, "My dear Akrūra, what you are saying is quite right, but it does not stand in my heart, so I cannot change my policy. I have to follow this policy and let whatever happens take place."

So when men want to satisfy their senses, they become mad, and in this madness they'll do anything and everything. For example, there have been many instances in material life where someone has become mad after something and has committed a criminal act such as murder. The person could not check himself. Similarly, we are accustomed to sense gratification. We are mad, and therefore our minds are fully absorbed in karma. This is very unfortunate, because our body, although temporary, is the reservoir of all misfortunes and miseries; it is always giving us trouble. These matters are to be studied. We should not be mad. Human life is not meant for that. The defect of the present civilization is that people are mad after sense gratification. That is all. They do not know the real value of life, and therefore they are neglecting the most valuable form of life, this human form.

When this body is finished there is no guarantee what kind of body one will take next. Suppose in my next life I by chance get the body of a tree. For thousands of years I will have to stand up. But people are not very serious. They even say, "What is that? Even if I have to stand up, I shall forget." The lower species of life are situated in forgetfulness. If a tree were not forgetful it would be impossible for it to live. Suppose we were told, "You stand up for three days here!" Because we are not forgetful, we would become mad. So, by nature's law, all these lower species of life are forgetful. Their consciousness is not developed. A tree has life, but even if someone cuts it, because its consciousness is not developed, it does not respond. So we should be very careful to utilize this human form of life properly. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is meant for achieving perfection in life. It is not a bluff or exploitation, but unfortunately people are accustomed to being bluffed. There is a verse by an Indian poet: "If one speaks nice things, people will quarrel with him: 'Oh, what nonsense you are speaking.' But if he bluffs them and cheats them, they will be very glad." So if a bluffer says, "Just do this, give me my fee, and within six months you will become God," then they will agree: "Yes, take this fee, and I shall become God within six months." No. These cheating processes will not solve our problem. If one actually wants to solve the problems of life in this age, then he has to take to this process of kīrtana. That is the recommended process.

harer nāma harer nāma
harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva
nāsty eva gatir anyathā
[Cc. Ādi 17.21]

In this age, Kali-yuga, one cannot execute any process of self-realization or perfection of life other than kīrtana. Kīrtana is essential in this age.

In all Vedic literatures it is confirmed that one must meditate on the Supreme Absolute Truth, Viṣṇu, not on anything else. But there are different processes of meditation recommended for different ages. The process of mystic yogic meditation was possible in Satya-yuga, when men lived for many thousands of years. Now people will not believe this, but in a previous age there were people who lived for one hundred thousand years. That age was called Satya-yuga, and the meditation of mystic yoga was possible at that time. In that age the great yogī Vālmīki Muni meditated for sixty thousand years. So that is a long-term process, which is not possible to execute in this age. If one wishes to conduct a farce, that is another matter. But if one actually wants to practice such meditation, it takes an extremely long time to perfect. In the next age, Tretā-yuga, the process of realization was to perform the various ritualistic sacrifices recommended in the Vedas. In the next age, Dvāpara-yuga, the process was temple worship. In this present age the same result can be achieved by the process of hari-kīrtana, glorification of Hari, Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

No other kīrtana is recommended. This hari-kīrtana was started five hundred years ago in Bengal by Lord Caitanya. In Bengal there is competition between the Vaiṣṇavas and the śāktas. The śāktas have introduced a certain type of kīrtana called kālī-kīrtana. But in the Vedic scriptures there is no recommendation of kālī-kīrtana. Kīrtana means hari-kīrtana. One cannot say, "Oh, you are Vaiṣṇava. You can perform hari-kīrtana. I shall perform śiva-kīrtana or devī-kīrtana or gaṇeśa-kīrtana." No. The Vedic scriptures do not authorize any kīrtana other than hari-kīrtana. Kīrtana means hari-kīrtana, the glorification of Kṛṣṇa.

So this process of hari-kīrtana is very simple: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. Actually there are only three words: Hare, Kṛṣṇa, and Rāma. But they are very nicely arranged for chanting so that everyone can take the mantra and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare. Since we have started this movement in the Western countries, Europeans, Americans, Africans, Egyptians, and Japanese are all chanting. There is no difficulty. They are chanting very gladly, and they are getting the results. What is the difficulty? We are distributing this chanting free of charge, and it is very simple. Simply by chanting, one can have self-realization, God realization, and when there is God realization, then nature realization is included also. For example, if one learns one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and zero, then he has studied the entirety of mathematics, because mathematics means simply changing the places of these ten figures. That's all. Similarly, if one simply studies Kṛṣṇa, then all his knowledge is perfect. And Kṛṣṇa is easily understood simply by chanting this mantra, Hare Kṛṣṇa. So why not take this opportunity?

Take this opportunity that is being offered to human society. It is very ancient and scientific. It is not that it is a concoction that will last for only three or four years. No. In the Bhagavad-gītā Kṛṣṇa Himself says, "This philosophy is inexhaustible and indestructible. It is never lost or destroyed." It may be covered for the time being, but it is never destroyed. Therefore it is called avyayam. Vyaya means "exhaustion." For example, one may have a hundred dollars, and if they are spent one after another, the next day it will come to zero. That is vyaya, exhaustible. But Kṛṣṇa consciousness is not like that. If you cultivate this knowledge of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then it will increase. That is certified by Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Ānandāmbudhi-vardhanam. Ānanda means "pleasure," "transcendental bliss," and ambudhi means "ocean." In the material world we see that the ocean does not increase. But if one cultivates Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then his transcendental bliss will simply increase. Ānandāmbudhi-vardhanam. And I shall always remind everyone that the process is very simple. Anyone can chant, anywhere, without taxation or loss, but the gain is very great.

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has explained this kīrtana movement in His Śikṣāṣṭaka. Śikṣā means "instruction," and aṣṭaka means "eight." He has given us eight verses to help us understand this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, and I shall explain the first of these instructions. The Lord says, ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam: [Cc. Antya 20.12] one should cleanse the heart. I have explained this several times, but it does not become monotonous. It is just like the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa; it does not become tiresome. Our students can chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra twenty-four hours a day, and they will never get tired. They will continue to dance and chant. And anyone can try it; because it is not material, one will never get tired of chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa. In the material world, if one chants anything, any favorite name, for three, four, or ten times, he will get tired of it. That is a fact. But because Hare Kṛṣṇa is not material, if one chants this mantra, he will never get tired. The more one chants, the more his heart will be cleansed of material dirt and the more the problems of his life within this material world will be solved.

What is the problem of our lives? That we do not know. Modern education never gives enlightenment about the real problem of life. That is indicated in the Bhagavad-gītā. Those who are educated and are advancing in knowledge should know what is the problem of life. This problem is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā: one should always see the inconveniences of birth, death, old age, and disease. Unfortunately no one pays attention to these problems. When a man is diseased he thinks, "All right. Let me go to the doctor. He will give me some medicine, and I will be cured." But he does not consider the problem very seriously. "I did not want this disease. Why is there disease? Is it not possible to become free from disease?" He never thinks that way. This is because his intelligence is very low-grade, just like that of an animal. An animal suffers, but it has no sense. If an animal is brought to a slaughterhouse and sees that the animal before him is being slaughtered, he will still stand there contentedly eating the grass. This is animal life. He does not know that next time it will be his turn and he will be slaughtered. I have seen it. In a Kālī temple I have seen that a goat was standing there ready to be sacrificed and another goat was very happily eating the grass.

Similarly, Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira was asked by Yamarāja, "What is the most wonderful thing in this world? Can you explain?" So Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira answered, "Yes. The most wonderful thing is that at every moment one can see that his friends, his fathers, and his relatives have died, but he is thinking, 'I shall live forever.'" He never thinks that he will die, just as an animal never thinks that at the next moment he may be slaughtered. He is satisfied with the grass, that's all. He is satisfied with the sense gratification. He does not know that he is also going to die.

My father has died, my mother has died, he has died, she has died. So I will also have to die. Then what is after death? I do not know. This is the problem. People do not take this problem seriously, but the Bhagavad-gītā indicates that that is real education. Real education is to inquire why, although we do not want to die, death comes. That is real inquiry. We do not want to become old men. Why does old age come upon us? We have many problems, but this is the sum and substance of all of them.

In order to solve this problem, Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu prescribes the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa. As soon as our heart is cleansed by chanting this Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, the blazing fire of our problematic material existence is extinguished. How is it extinguished? When we cleanse our heart we will realize that we do not belong to this material world. Because people are identifying with this material world, they are thinking, "I am an Indian, I am an Englishman, I am this, I am that." But if one chants the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, he will realize that he is not this material body. "I do not belong to this material body or this material world. I am a spirit soul, part and parcel of the Supreme. I am eternally related with Him, and I have nothing to do with the material world." This is called liberation, knowledge. If I don't have anything to do with this material world, then I am liberated. And that knowledge is called brahma-bhūta [SB 4.30.20].

A person with this realization has no duty to perform. Because we are now identifying our existence with this material world, we have so many duties. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam says that as long as there is no self-realization, we have so many duties and debts. We are indebted to the demigods. The demigods are not merely fictitious. They are real. There are demigods controlling the sun, the moon, and the air. Just as there are directors of government departments, so for the heating department there is the sun-god, for the air department there is Vāyu, and similarly there are other departmental demigods. In the Vedas they are described as controlling deities, so we cannot neglect them. Also, there are great sages and philosophers who have given us knowledge, and we are indebted to them. So as soon as we take birth we are indebted to so many living entities, but it is impossible to liquidate all these debts. Therefore the Vedic literature recommends that one take shelter of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. And Kṛṣṇa says, "If one takes shelter of Me, then he doesn't have to take shelter of anyone else."

Therefore those who are Kṛṣṇa conscious devotees have taken shelter of Kṛṣṇa, and the beginning is hearing and chanting. Śravaṇaṁ kīrtanaṁ viṣṇoḥ [SB 7.5.23]. So our fervent, humble request to everyone is to please accept this chanting. This movement of Kṛṣṇa consciousness was introduced by Lord Caitanya five hundred years ago in Bengal, and now all over India and especially in Bengal there are millions of followers of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Now this movement is starting in the Western countries, so just be very serious in understanding it. We do not criticize any other religion. Don't take it in that way. We have no business criticizing any other process of religion. Kṛṣṇa consciousness is giving people the most sublime religion—love of God. That's all. We are teaching to love God. Everyone is already loving, but that love is misplaced. We love this boy or this girl or this country or that society or even the cats and dogs, but we are not satisfied. So we must place our love in God. If one places one's love in God, he will be happy.

Don't think that this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is a new type of religion. Where is the religion which does not recognize God? One may call God "Allah" or "Kṛṣṇa" or something else, but where is that religion which does not recognize God? We are teaching that one should simply try to love God. We are attracted by so many things, but if our love is reposed in God, then we will be happy. We don't have to learn to love anything else; everything else is automatically included. Just try to love God. Don't try to love just trees or plants or insects. This will never satisfy. Learn to love God. That is Caitanya Mahāprabhu's mission; that is our mission.

Chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa Mantra

Although "Hare Kṛṣṇa" has become a household word, practically nobody knows what it means. Is it merely a repetitious incantation designed to hypnotize its practitioners? Is it a form of escapism? Or is it a genuine meditation that can actually summon higher awareness? In this short essay, recorded on his first LP in late 1966, Śrīla Prabhupāda illuminates the inner meaning of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra.

The transcendental vibration established by the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare is the sublime method for reviving our transcendental consciousness. As living spiritual souls, we are all originally Kṛṣṇa conscious entities, but due to our association with matter from time immemorial, our consciousness is now adulterated by the material atmosphere. The material atmosphere, in which we are now living, is called māyā, or illusion. Māyā means "that which is not." And what is this illusion? The illusion is that we are all trying to be lords of material nature, while actually we are under the grip of her stringent laws. When a servant artificially tries to imitate the all-powerful master, he is said to be in illusion. We are trying to exploit the resources of material nature, but actually we are becoming more and more entangled in her complexities. Therefore, although we are engaged in a hard struggle to conquer nature, we are ever more dependent on her. This illusory struggle against material nature can be stopped at once by revival of our eternal Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare is the transcendental process for reviving this original, pure consciousness. By chanting this transcendental vibration, we can cleanse away all misgivings within our hearts. The basic principle of all such misgivings is the false consciousness that I am the lord of all I survey.

Kṛṣṇa consciousness is not an artificial imposition on the mind. This consciousness is the original, natural energy of the living entity. When we hear this transcendental vibration, this consciousness is revived. This simplest method of meditation is recommended for this age. By practical experience also, one can perceive that by chanting this mahā-mantra, or the Great Chanting for Deliverance, one can at once feel a transcendental ecstasy coming through from the spiritual stratum. In the material concept of life we are busy in the matter of sense gratification, as if we were in the lower, animal stage. A little elevated from this status of sense gratification, one is engaged in mental speculation for the purpose of getting out of the material clutches. A little elevated from this speculative status, when one is intelligent enough, one tries to find out the supreme cause of all causes—within and without. And when one is factually on the plane of spiritual understanding, surpassing the stages of sense, mind, and intelligence, he is then on the transcendental plane. This chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is enacted from the spiritual platform, and thus this sound vibration surpasses all lower strata of consciousness—namely sensual, mental, and intellectual. There is no need, therefore, to understand the language of the mantra, nor is there any need for mental speculation nor any intellectual adjustment for chanting this mahā-mantra. It is automatic, from the spiritual platform, and as such, anyone can take part in the chanting without any previous qualification. In a more advanced stage, of course, one is not expected to commit offenses on the grounds of spiritual understanding.

In the beginning, there may not be the presence of all transcendental ecstasies, which are eight in number. These are: (1) being stopped as though dumb, (2) perspiration, (3) standing up of hairs on the body, (4) dislocation of voice, (5) trembling, (6) fading of the body, (7) crying in ecstasy, and (8) trance. But there is no doubt that chanting for a while takes one immediately to the spiritual platform, and one shows the first symptom of this in the urge to dance along with the chanting of the mantra. We have seen this practically. Even a child can take part in the chanting and dancing. Of course, for one who is too entangled in material life, it takes a little more time to come to the standard point, but even such a materially engrossed man is raised to the spiritual platform very quickly. When the mantra is chanted by a pure devotee of the Lord in love, it has the greatest efficacy on hearers, and as such this chanting should be heard from the lips of a pure devotee of the Lord, so that immediate effects can be achieved. As far as possible, chanting from the lips of nondevotees should be avoided. Milk touched by the lips of a serpent has poisonous effects.

The word Harā is the form of addressing the energy of the Lord, and the words Kṛṣṇa and Rāma are forms of addressing the Lord Himself. Both Kṛṣṇa and Rāma mean "the supreme pleasure," and Harā is the supreme pleasure energy of the Lord, changed to Hare in the vocative. The supreme pleasure energy of the Lord helps us to reach the Lord.

The material energy, called māyā, is also one of the multienergies of the Lord. And we, the living entities, are also the energy, marginal energy, of the Lord. The living entities are described as superior to material energy. When the superior energy is in contact with the inferior energy, an incompatible situation arises; but when the superior marginal energy is in contact with the superior energy, Harā, it is established in its happy, normal condition.

These three words, namely Hare, Kṛṣṇa, and Rāma, are the transcendental seeds of the mahā-mantra. The chanting is a spiritual call for the Lord and His energy, to give protection to the conditioned soul. This chanting is exactly like the genuine cry of a child for its mother's presence. Mother Harā helps the devotee achieve the Lord Father's grace, and the Lord reveals Himself to the devotee who chants this mantra sincerely.

No other means of spiritual realization is as effective in this age of quarrel and hypocrisy as the chanting of the mahā-mantra: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare.

Kṛṣṇa Consciousness—the Yoga for the Modern Age

Nowadays, we find yoga being taught in numerous courses and touted in mass-market books as a means to achieve health, lose weight, develop mental powers over others, achieve success in making money, or increase sexual potency. But real yoga is something entirely different. Here, Śrīla Prabhupāda lets us in on some ancient secrets about the real thing.

ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanaṁ bhava-mahā-dāvāgni-nirvāpaṇaṁ
śreyaḥ-kairava-candrikā-vitaraṇaṁ vidyā-vadhū-jīvanam
ānandāmbudhi-vardhanaṁ prati-padaṁ pūrṇāmṛtāsvādanaṁ
sarvātma-snapanaṁ paraṁ vijayate śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtanam
[Cc. Antya 20.12]

All glories to the saṅkīrtana movement. Paraṁ vijayate śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtanam. Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu, when He was only a sixteen-year-old boy, introduced this saṅkīrtana movement five hundred years ago in Navadvīpa, India. It was not that He manufactured some religious system, just as nowadays so many religious systems are being manufactured. Actually, religion cannot be manufactured. Dharmaṁ tu sākṣād bhagavat-praṇītam [SB 6.3.19]. Religion means the codes of God, the laws of God, that's all. Certainly we cannot live without obeying the state laws, and similarly we cannot live without obeying the laws of God. And in the Bhagavad-gītā (4.7) the Lord says that whenever there are discrepancies in the prosecution of religious activities (yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānir bhavati bhārata) and there is a predominance of irreligious activities (abhyutthānam adharmasya), at that time I (Kṛṣṇa) appear (tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham). And in the material world we can see the same principle demonstrated, for whenever there is disobedience of state laws, there is the advent of some particular state officer or policeman to "set things right."

Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu is worshiped by the Gosvāmīs. There were six Gosvāmīs: Rūpa Gosvāmī, Sanātana Gosvāmī, Raghunātha Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, Jīva Gosvāmī, Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī, and Śrī Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī. There are three meanings of go. Go means "land," go means "cow,"and go means "senses." And svāmī means "master." So gosvāmī means that they were masters of the senses. When one becomes master of the senses, or gosvāmī, he can make progress in spiritual life. That is the real meaning of svāmī. Svāmī means that one is not servant of the senses, but master of them.

One of these six Gosvāmīs, Rūpa Gosvāmī, was the head, and he compiled a nice verse in honor of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He says:

anarpita-carīṁ cirāt karuṇayāvatīrṇaḥ kalau
samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasāṁ sva-bhakti-śriyam
hariḥ puraṭa-sundara-dyuti-kadamba-sandīpitaḥ
sadā hṛdaya-kandare sphuratu vaḥ śacī-nandanaḥ
(Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Ādi 1.4)

Kalau means this age, this age of Kali, the Iron Age, which is very much contaminated, an age of quarrel and disagreement. Rūpa Gosvāmī says that in this age of Kali, when everything is disagreement and quarrel, "You have descended to offer the highest love of God." Samarpayitum unnatojjvala-rasām: and not only the topmost, but a very brilliant rasa, or transcendental humor. Puraṭa-sundara-dyuti: Your complexion is just like gold, like the luster of gold. "You are so kind that I bless everyone [the Gosvāmīs can bless because they are masters of the senses] that this form of the Lord, Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu, may always remain dancing in everyone's heart."

When Rūpa Gosvāmī first met Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu at Prayāga, Lord Caitanya was chanting and dancing in the street, "Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa." At that time also Rūpa Gosvāmī offered one prayer. Namo mahā-vadānyāya kṛṣṇa-prema-pradāya te: [Cc. Madhya 19.53] "Oh, You are the most munificent of all incarnations because You are distributing love of Godhead." Kṛṣṇa-prema-pradāya te/ kṛṣṇāya kṛṣṇa-caitanya-nāmne gaura-tviṣe namaḥ: "You are Kṛṣṇa Himself, because if You were not Kṛṣṇa You could not distribute kṛṣṇa-premā, or love of God, for love of Kṛṣṇa is not so easily acquired. But You are distributing this love freely to everyone."

In this way the saṅkīrtana movement was inaugurated in Bengal, India, in Navadvīpa. In this sense, the Bengalis are very fortunate that in their country this movement was inaugurated by Lord Caitanya, who predicted:

pṛthivīte ache yata nagarādi grāma
sarvatra pracāra haibe mora nāma

"In all the villages and towns all over the world, everywhere, this saṅkīrtana movement will be preached." [CB Antya-khaṇḍa 4.126] That is His prediction.

So by the grace of Lord Caitanya, this movement is already introduced in the Western countries, beginning from New York. Our saṅkīrtana movement was first introduced in New York in 1966. At that time I came and began to chant this Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra in Tompkins Square. I was chanting there for three hours with a small mṛdaṅga (drum), and these American boys assembled and gradually joined, and so it is increasing. First of all it was started in a New York storefront, 26 Second Avenue, then we started our branches in San Francisco, Montreal, Boston, Los Angeles, Buffalo, Columbus. We now [1970] have twenty-four branches, including one in London and one in Hamburg. In London they are all American boys and girls, and they are preaching. They are not sannyāsīs, nor are they Vedāntists, nor Hindus, nor Indians, but they have taken this movement very seriously. Even in the London Times there was an article headlined, "Kṛṣṇa Chant Startles London." So we have many in the movement now. All my disciples, at least in this country, are Americans and Europeans. They are chanting, dancing, and distributing a magazine, Back to Godhead. Now we have published many books—the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Bhagavad-gītā As It Is, Teachings of Lord Caitanya, and Īśopaniṣad. It is not that this movement is simply a sentimental movement. Don't think that these boys are dancing out of some religious sentiment or fanaticism. No. We have the highest philosophical and theosophical background.

As an illustration, let us consider Caitanya Mahāprabhu. While He was preaching, He went to Benares, the seat of Māyāvādī sannyāsīs. The followers of Śaṅkarācārya are mostly seen in Benares. When Caitanya Mahāprabhu was there, He was chanting and dancing. Some of the people very much appreciated this, and so He quickly became famous. One prominent sannyāsī, Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī, leader of many thousands of Māyāvādī sannyāsīs, was informed: "Oh, from Bengal one young sannyāsī has come. He is so nicely chanting and dancing." Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī was a great Vedāntist, and he did not like the idea. He said, "Oh, he is a pseudo sannyāsī. He is chanting and dancing, and this is not the business of a sannyāsī. A sannyāsī should always engage himself in the study of philosophy and the Vedānta."

Then one of the devotees who did not like the remarks of Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī came back and informed Lord Caitanya that He was being criticized. So the devotee arranged a meeting of all the sannyāsīs, and there was a philosophical discussion on the Vedānta between Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī and Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu. These accounts and philosophical discussions are given in our Teachings of Lord Caitanya. It is remarkable that Prakāśānanda himself with all his disciples became Vaiṣṇavas.

Similarly, Caitanya Mahāprabhu had a great discussion with Sārvabhauma Bhaṭṭācārya, the greatest logician of that time, who was also Māyāvādī, impersonalist, and he was also converted. So Caitanya Mahāprabhu's movement is not mere sentimentalism. There is a very rich background if one wants to understand this saṅkīrtana movement through philosophy and logic. There is ample opportunity, for this movement is based on science and on the authority of the Vedas. But it is all simplified. That is the beauty of this movement. Whether one is a great scholar or philosopher or a child, he can take part without any difficulty. Other systems of self-realization, the jñāna process or yoga process, are also recognized, but it is not possible to practice them in this age. That is the verdict of the Vedas:

kṛte yad dhyāyato viṣṇuṁ
tretāyāṁ yajato makhaiḥ
dvāpare paricaryāyāṁ
kalau tad dhari-kīrtanāt
(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 12.3.52)

In the Satya-yuga, the Golden Age, it was possible to execute the meditation process. For instance, Vālmīki Muni meditated for sixty thousand years to get perfection. But where is our old age? Besides that, for the meditation process, as described in the Bhagavad-gītā, one has to select a secluded place, he has to execute it alone, he has to sit down in a rigid posture, he has to lead a life of complete celibacy, and so on. There are many rules and regulations. Thus aṣṭāṅga-yoga meditation is not possible. If one is satisfied by imitating, that is a different thing, but if one wants perfection, then he has to execute all the eight stages of aṣṭāṅga-yoga. If this is not possible, then it is a waste of time.

What is the ultimate goal of the yoga process or meditation? Contact with the Supreme, the Supersoul, the Supreme Lord, is the aim and object of all yoga processes. Similarly, philosophical research, the jñāna process, also aims at understanding the Supreme Brahman. These are recognized processes, undoubtedly, but according to authoritative description, they are not practical in this Iron Age of Kali. Therefore one has to take to this process of hari-kīrtana. Anyone can practice without prequalification. One doesn't have to study philosophy or Vedānta. This was the purport of Lord Caitanya's meeting with Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī.

When the Vedānta philosophy was thoroughly discussed between Lord Caitanya and Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī, Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī first of all asked Caitanya Mahāprabhu, "I understand that You were a very good scholar in Your early life. [Lord Caitanya was actually a very great scholar. His name was Nimāi Paṇḍita, and at the age of sixteen He defeated a great scholar from Kashmir, Keśava Kāśmīrī.] And I understand that You are a great Sanskrit scholar, and that especially in logic You are a very learned scholar. You were also born in a brāhmaṇa family, and now You are a sannyāsī. How is it that You are chanting and dancing and not reading the Vedānta?" This was the first question asked by Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī, and Lord Caitanya replied, "Yes, the reason is that when I was initiated by My spiritual master, he said that I am fool number one [Cc. Adi 7.71]. 'You don't discuss the Vedānta,' he told Me. 'You will simply spoil Your time. Just take to this chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa, and You will be successful.' " That was his reply. Of course, Caitanya Mahāprabhu was not a fool, and certainly the Vedānta is not for fools. One needs sufficient education, and one must attain a certain status before he can understand the Vedānta. In each and every word there are volumes of meanings, and there are many commentaries by Śaṅkarācārya and Rāmānujācārya, huge volumes in Sanskrit. But how can we understand Vedānta? It is not possible. It may be possible for one person or two persons to understand, but for the mass of people it is not possible. Nor is it possible to practice yoga. Therefore, if one takes to Caitanya Mahāprabhu's method, chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, the first installment of gain will be ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam: [Cc. Antya 20.12] all the dirty things will be cleansed from the heart simply by chanting. Chant. There is no expenditure and there is no loss. If one simply chants for one week, he will see how much he will progress in spiritual knowledge.

We are attracting many students simply by chanting, and they are understanding the entire philosophy and becoming purified. This Society's movement started only four years ago, in 1966, and we have so many branches already. The American boys and girls are taking it very seriously, and they are happy. Ask any one of them. Ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanam. They are cleansing the dirty things from the heart, simply by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare.

The next point is bhava-mahā-dāvāgni-nirvāpaṇam: as soon as the heart is cleansed of all dirty things, then all the problems of material existence are immediately solved. This world has been compared to dāvāgni, which means a blazing fire in the forest. In this material existence no one wants unhappiness, but it comes by force. That is the law of material nature. No one wants fire, but wherever we go in a city the fire brigade is always active. There is always fire. Similarly, there are many things that no one wants. No one wants death—there is death. No one wants disease—there is disease. No one wants old age—there is old age. They are there, against our will, against our desire.

Thus we should consider the state of this material existence. This human form of life is meant for understanding, not for wasting valuable life like animals by eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. That is not advancement of civilization. The Bhāgavatam says that this body is not meant for working hard simply for sense gratification.

nāyaṁ deho deha-bhājāṁ nṛ-loke
kaṣṭān kāmān arhate viḍ-bhujāṁ ye
(SB 5.5.1)

To work very hard and satisfy oneself by sense gratification is the business of hogs, not human beings. The human being should learn tapasya. Especially in India, so many great sages, so many great kings, and so many brahmacārīs and sannyāsīs have passed their lives in great tapasya in order not to go further to sleep. Lord Buddha was a prince who gave up everything and engaged himself in tapasya. This is life. When King Bhārata, under whose name India was named Bhārata-varṣa, was twenty-four years old, he gave up his kingdom, his young wife, and young children and went away for tapasya. When Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu was only twenty-four, He gave up His young wife, mother, everything. There are many, many examples. India is the land of tapasya, but we are forgetting that. Now we are making it the land of technology. It is surprising that India is now no longer propagating this tapasya, for India is the land of dharma: dharma-kṣetre kuru-kṣetre [Bg. 1.1].

But it is not only in India; everywhere in this age of iron everything is degraded, degraded in this sense: prāyeṇālpāyuṣaḥ sabhya kalāv asmin yuge janāḥ (SB 1.1.10). In this age of Kali the duration of life is diminished, and men are not moved to understand self-realization, and if they are, they are invariably misled by so many deceitful leaders. The age is very corrupt. Therefore Caitanya Mahāprabhu's process of chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa is the best and the simplest method.

harer nāma harer nāma
harer nāmaiva kevalam
kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva
nāsty eva gatir anyathā
[Cc. Ādi 17.21]

"In this age of Kali there is no other religion than glorifying the Lord by utterance of His holy name, and that is the injunction of all the revealed scriptures. There is no other way, there is no other way, there is no other way." This verse appears in the Bṛhan-nāradīya Purāṇa. Harer nāma harer nāma harer nāmaiva kevalam. Simply chant Hare Kṛṣṇa. There is no other alternative. Kalau nāsty eva nāsty eva nāsty eva gatir anyathā. In this age, Kali, there is no other alternative for self-realization. So we have to accept it.

There is another similar verse in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. In the Twelfth Canto, Third Chapter, Parīkṣit Mahārāja was informed by Śukadeva Gosvāmī of the faults of this age, and now all the symptoms of the age of Kali are apparent. In the conclusive portion, however, Śukadeva Gosvāmī said, kaler doṣa-nidhe rājann asti hy eko mahān guṇaḥ: "My dear king, this age, Kali, is full of faulty things, but there is one good opportunity." What is that? Kīrtanād eva kṛṣṇasya mukta-saṅgaḥ paraṁ vrajet: [SB 12.3.51] "Simply by chanting this Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra one can become liberated and go back to Godhead."

This is practical and authorized, and one can also test himself to see how he is advancing simply by chanting. This Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is not something new, something that we have introduced or manufactured. It is authorized on the Vedic principles, authorized by ācāryas like Caitanya Mahāprabhu and others. And the method is very simple; there is no loss. We are not charging anything, we are not asking for fees and giving the people some secret mantra and promising them that within six months they will become God. No. This is open for everyone—children, women, girls, boys, old people—everyone can chant and see the results.

To further this end we not only are establishing New Vṛndāvana, our farm project in West Virginia, but are establishing other spiritual communities, such as New Navadvīpa and New Jagannātha Purī. We have already started New Jagannātha Purī in San Francisco, and the Ratha-yātrā festival is going on. This year there will be a great ceremony of Ratha-yātrā in London also. There will be three cars, for Jagannātha, Subhadrā, and Balarāma, and they will be taken to the River Thames. And America has imported New England and New York, so why not New Vṛndāvana? We should especially establish this New Vṛndāvana, because Lord Caitanya recommended, ārādhyo bhagavān vrajeśa-tanayas tad-dhāma vṛndāvanam: "Kṛṣṇa, the son of Nanda Mahārāja, in the Vṛndāvana-dhāma of Vrajabhūmi, is the supreme worshipable Deity, and His place Vṛndāvana is also worshipable." The Western boys and girls are taking to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and they should have a place like Vṛndāvana. Swami Kīrtanānanda, who went to Vṛndāvana with me two years ago, knows what Vṛndāvana is like, so I have instructed him to construct at least seven temples. In Vṛndāvana, there are five thousand temples of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, but the most important temples are seven, established by the Gosvāmīs. Our program is to live in New Vṛndāvana, depend on agriculture and cows as an economic solution, and peacefully execute Kṛṣṇa consciousness, chant Hare Kṛṣṇa—that is the Vṛndāvana scheme. Yuktāhāra-vihārasya... yogo bhavati duḥkha-hā (Bhagavad-gītā 6.17). This human form of life isn't meant for increasing artificial needs. We should be satisfied just to maintain the body and soul together, and the rest of the time we should enhance our Kṛṣṇa consciousness, so that after leaving this body we won't have to take another material body, but will be able to go back home, back to Godhead. That should be the motto of human life.

Material life means eating, sleeping, mating, and defending, and spiritual life means something more than this. This is also the difference between animal life and human life. In animal life, the common formula is eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. A dog eats, a man also eats. A man sleeps, and a dog also sleeps. A man has sex life, and the dog also has sex life. The dog defends in his own way, and man also defends in his own way, maybe by atomic bombs. These four principles are common to human beings and animals, and advancement of these four principles is not human civilization but animal civilization. Human civilization means athāto brahma jijñāsā. In the Vedānta-sūtra the first aphorism is athāto brahma jijñāsā: "Now is the time for inquiry about Brahman." That is human life. As long as one is not spiritually inquisitive, jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam, he is an animal, because he lives according to these four principles, that's all. He must be inquisitive to know what he is and why he is put into these miseries of birth, death, old age, and disease. Is there any remedy? These matters should be questioned. That is human life; that is spiritual life.

Spiritual life means human life, and material life means animal life. That's all. We have to make the adjustments that are recommended in the Bhagavad-gītā. Yuktāhāra-vihārasya. For instance, because I am going to be a spiritual man does not mean that I shall give up eating. Rather, my eating should be adjusted. The Bhagavad-gītā describes what class of food is first class, in goodness, and what class of food is in passion, and third class, in ignorance. We have to raise ourselves to the sattvic (goodness) platform of human civilization, then revive our transcendental consciousness, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Everything is there in the śāstras. Unfortunately, we do not consult them.

evaṁ prasanna-manaso
bhagavad-bhakti-yogataḥ
bhagavat-tattva-vijñānaṁ
mukta-saṅgasya jāyate
(SB 1.2.20)

Unless one is liberated from the clutches of these three modes of material nature, he cannot understand God. Prasanna-manasaḥ. One must be a Brahman-realized soul. Brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā na śocati na kāṅkṣati (Bg. 18.54). These injunctions are there, so one should take advantage of these śāstras and preach. That is the responsibility of intelligent men. The mass of people know that God is great, but they do not know how great God actually is. That we will find in the Vedic literature. That is our duty in this iron age. That is hari-kīrtana, paraṁ vijayate śrī-kṛṣṇa-saṅkīrtanam: glorification of the Supreme.

Meditation and the Self Within

Can meditation solve our everyday problems? Is there life after death? Can drugs help us achieve self-realization? During a visit to South Africa in 1976, Śrīla Prabhupāda answered these and other questions for interviewer Bill Faill of the Durban Natal Mercury.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Kṛṣṇa is a name for God that means "all-attractive." Unless one is all-attractive he cannot be God. So Kṛṣṇa consciousness means God consciousness. All of us are small particles of God, equal in quality with Him. Our position as living entities is like that of a small particle of gold in relation to a large quantity of gold.

Mr. Faill: Are we something like sparks in a fire?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. Both the fire and the spark are fire, but one is big, and the other is very small. Unlike the relationship between the spark and the fire, however, our relationship with God is eternal, although at the present moment we have forgotten that relationship due to contact with the material energy. We are facing so many problems only because of this forgetfulness. If we can revive our original God consciousness, then we shall become happy. This is the sum and substance of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It is the best process by which to revive our original God consciousness. There are different processes of self-realization, but in the present age of Kali, people are very fallen, and they require the simple process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Now they are thinking that so-called material advancement is the solution to their problems, but this is not a fact. The real solution is to get out of the material condition entirely by becoming Kṛṣṇa conscious. Because God is eternal, we are also eternal, but in the material condition we are thinking, "I am this body," and therefore we must repeatedly change from body to body. This is due to ignorance. Actually we are not our bodies but spiritual sparks, parts and parcels of God.

Mr. Faill: Then the body is just like a vehicle for the soul?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. It is just like a motorcar. Just as you go from one place to another in a car, so due to mental concoction in the material condition of life, we are going from one position to another, trying to become happy. But nothing will make us happy unless we come to our real position, which is that we are all parts and parcels of God and that our real business is to associate with God and help all living entities by cooperating with Him. Civilized human life is attained only after a long evolution through 8,400,000 species of life. So if we don't take advantage of this civilized human life to understand who God is, who we are, and what our relationship is, but instead simply waste our life like cats and dogs, going here and there looking for sense gratification, then we will have missed a great opportunity. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is meant to teach people how to take full advantage of the human form of life by trying to understand God and our relationship with Him.

Mr. Faill: If we don't make the most of this life, do we get a second chance, in another life?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. According to your desires at the time of death, you get another body. That body is not guaranteed to be a human body, however. As I've already explained, there are 8,400,000 different forms of life. You can enter any of them, according to your mental condition at death. What we think of at the time of death depends on how we act during our life. As long as we are in material consciousness, our actions are under the control of the material nature, which is being conducted in three modes: goodness, passion, and ignorance. These modes are like the three basic colors—yellow, red, and blue. Just as one can mix red, yellow, and blue to produce millions of colors, the modes of nature are being mixed to produce many varieties of life. To stop the repetition of birth and death in different forms of life, we must transcend the covering of material nature and come to the platform of pure consciousness. But if we do not learn the transcendental science of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, then at death we must transfer to another body, either better or worse than our present one. If we cultivate the mode of goodness, then we are promoted to the higher planetary system, where there is a better standard of life. If we cultivate the mode of passion, then we will remain at the present stage. But if out of ignorance we commit sinful activities and violate nature's laws, then we will be degraded to animal or plant life. Then again we must evolve to the human form, a process that may take millions of years. Therefore a human being must be responsible. He must take advantage of the rare opportunity of human life by understanding his relationship with God and acting accordingly. Then he can get out of the cycle of birth and death in different forms of life and go back home, back to Godhead.

Mr. Faill: Do you think transcendental meditation is helping people?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: They do not know what real meditation is. Their meditation is simply a farce—another cheating process by the so-called svāmīs and yogīs. You're asking me if meditation is helping people, but do you know what meditation is?

Mr. Faill: A stilling of the mind—trying to sit in the center without swinging either way.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: And what is the center?

Mr. Faill: I don't know.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: So everyone is talking very much about meditation, but no one knows what meditation actually is. These bluffers use the word "meditation," but they do not know the proper subject for meditation. They're simply talking bogus propaganda.

Mr. Faill: Isn't meditation valuable just to get people thinking right?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: No. Real meditation means to achieve a state in which the mind is saturated with God consciousness. But if you do not know what God is, how can you meditate? Besides, in this age people's minds are so agitated that they cannot concentrate. I have seen this so-called meditation; they are simply sleeping and snoring. Unfortunately, in the name of God consciousness or "self-realization," many bluffers are presenting nonstandard methods of meditation without referring to the authorized books of Vedic knowledge. They are simply practicing another type of exploitation.

Mr. Faill: What about some of the other teachers, like Ouspensky and Gurdjieff? In the past they brought to the West a message similar to yours.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: We would have to study the particulars of their teachings to know whether they meet the Vedic standard. God consciousness is a science, just like medical science or any other science. It cannot be different because it is spoken by different men. Two plus two equals four everywhere, never five, or three. That is science.

Mr. Faill: Do you feel that others may have possibly taught the genuine method of God consciousness?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Unless I study their teachings in detail, it would be very difficult to say. There are so many bluffers.

Mr. Faill: Just doing it for money.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: That's all. They have no standard method. Therefore we are presenting the Bhagavad-gītā as it is, without any personal interpretation. This is standard.

Mr. Faill: Yes, if you begin dressing things up, you inevitably change them.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Kṛṣṇa consciousness is not a new process. It is very, very old—and standard. It cannot be changed. As soon as you try to change it, then the potency is lost. This potency is just like electricity. If you want to generate electricity, you must follow the standard regulations, arranging all the negative and positive poles properly. You cannot construct the generator whimsically and still produce electricity. Similarly, there is a standard method of understanding Kṛṣṇa conscious philosophy from proper authorities. If we follow their instructions, then the process will act. Unfortunately, one of the dangerous diseases of modern man is that everyone wants to do things according to his own whims. No one wants to follow the standard way. Therefore everyone is failing, both spiritually and materially.

Mr. Faill: Is the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement growing?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Oh, yes, very much. You may be surprised to know that we are selling books in the tens of thousands. We have about fifty books, and many librarians and college professors are very appreciative of them, because until their publication there was no such literature in existence. It is a new contribution to the world.

Mr. Faill: Kṛṣṇa consciousness seems to involve shaving the head and wearing saffron robes. How can an ordinary man caught up in family life practice Kṛṣṇa consciousness?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: The saffron robes and the shaven head are not essential, although they create a good mental situation, just as when a military man is dressed properly he gets energy—he feels like a military man. Does that mean that unless he is in uniform he cannot fight? No. In the same way, God consciousness cannot be checked—it can be revived in any circumstances—but certain conditions are helpful. Therefore we prescribe that you live in a certain way, dress in a certain way, eat in a certain way, and so on. These things are helpful for practicing Kṛṣṇa consciousness, but they are not essential.

Mr. Faill: Then one can be a student of Kṛṣṇa consciousness while going about normal daily life?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes.

Mr. Faill: How about drugs? Can they help in the process of God realization?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: If drugs could help God realization, then drugs would be more powerful than God. How can we accept that? Drugs are chemical substances, which are material. How can something material help one realize God, who is all-spiritual? It is impossible. What one experiences from taking drugs is simply a kind of intoxication or hallucination; it is not God realization.

Mr. Faill: Do you think the great mystics down through the ages have actually seen the spiritual spark you mentioned earlier?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: What do you mean by "mystic"?

Mr. Faill: It's just a name given to people who have had an experience of another level of reality.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: We don't use the word mystic. Our reality is God realization, which occurs when we come to the spiritual platform. As long as we have a bodily concept of life, our understanding is sense gratification, because the body is made of senses. When we progress from the bodily platform and we see the mind as the center of sense activity, we take the mind as the final stage of realization. That is the mental platform. From the mental platform we may come to the intellectual platform, and from the intellectual platform we can rise to the transcendental platform. Finally we can rise above even the transcendental platform and come to the mature, spiritual platform. These are the stages of God realization. However, in this age, because people are so fallen, the śāstras [scriptures] give the special recommendation that people come directly to the spiritual platform by chanting the holy names of God: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. If we cultivate this practice on the spiritual platform, then immediately we can realize our spiritual identity. Then the process of God realization becomes successful very quickly.

Mr. Faill: Today a lot of people are saying that we must look inward for the truth rather than outward into the world of the senses.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Looking inward means knowing that you are a spirit soul. Unless you understand that you are not the body but a soul, there is no question of looking inward.

First we have to study, "Am I this body, or am I something within this body?" Unfortunately, this subject is not taught in any school, college, or university. Everyone is thinking, "I am this body." For example, in this country people everywhere are thinking, "I am South African, they are Indian, they are Greek," and so on. Actually, everyone in the whole world is in the bodily conception of life. Kṛṣṇa consciousness starts when one is above this bodily conception.

Mr. Faill: So the recognition of the spiritual spark comes first?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. Recognizing the existence of the spirit soul within the body is the first step. Unless one understands this simple fact, there is no question of spiritual advancement.

Mr. Faill: Is it a question of just understanding it intellectually?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: in the beginning, yes. There are two departments of knowledge: theoretical and practical. First one must learn spiritual science theoretically; then, by working on that spiritual platform, one comes to the point of practical realization.

Unfortunately, today almost everyone is in the darkness of the bodily conception of life. Therefore this movement is very important, because it can lift civilized men out of that darkness. As long as they are in the bodily conception of life, they are no better than animals. "I am a dog," "I am a cat," "I am a cow." Animals think like this. As soon as someone passes, a dog will bark, thinking, "I am a dog. I have been appointed here as watchdog." Similarly, if I adopt the dog's mentality and challenge foreigners—"Why have you come to this country? Why have you come to my jurisdiction?"—then what is the difference between the dog and me?

Mr. Faill: There is none. To change the subject a little, is it necessary to follow certain eating habits to practice spiritual life?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, the whole process is meant to purify us, and eating is part of that purification. I think you have a saying, "You are what you eat," and that's a fact. Our bodily constitution and mental atmosphere are determined according to how and what we eat. Therefore the śāstras recommend that to become Kṛṣṇa conscious, you should eat remnants of food left by Kṛṣṇa. If a tuberculosis patient eats something and you eat the remnants, you will be infected with tuberculosis. Similarly, if you eat kṛṣṇa-prasādam, then you will be infected with Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Thus our process is that we don't eat anything immediately. First we offer the food to Kṛṣṇa, then we eat it. This helps us advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Mr. Faill: You are all vegetarians?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, because Kṛṣṇa is a vegetarian. Kṛṣṇa can eat anything because He is God, but in the Bhagavad-gītā (9.26) He says, "If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it." He never says, "Give Me meat and wine."

Mr. Faill: How about the tobacco question?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Tobacco is also an intoxicant. We are already intoxicated by being in the bodily conception of life, and if we increase the intoxication, then we are lost.

Mr. Faill: You mean things like meat, alcohol, and tobacco just reinforce bodily consciousness?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. Suppose you have a disease and you want to be cured. You have to follow the instructions of a physician. if he says, "Don't eat this; eat only this," you have to follow his prescription. Similarly, we also have a prescription for being cured of the bodily conception of life: chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, hearing about Kṛṣṇa's activities, and eating kṛṣṇa-prasādam. This treatment is the process of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.