Material Problems, Spiritual Solutions
Focus for Global Unity
December 1969: Speaking in Boston before the International Student Society, Śrīla Prabhupāda provides a practical, simple, yet profound solution for world peace and harmony. Noting the increasing number of flags at the United Nations building in New York, he states that internationalism is failing because “your international feeling and my international feeling are overlapping and conflicting. We have to find the proper center for our loving feelings. … That center is Kṛṣṇa.”
Thank you very much for participating with us in this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. I understand that this society is known as the International Student Society. There are many other international societies, such as the United Nations. So the idea of an international society is very nice, but we must try to understand what the central idea of an international society should be.
If you throw a stone into the middle of a pool of water, a circle will expand to the limit of the bank. Similarly, radio waves expand in a circle, and when you capture the waves with your radio you can hear the message. In the same way, our loving feeling can also expand.
At the beginning of our life, we simply want to eat. Whatever a small child grabs, he wants to eat. He has only personal interest. Then, when the child grows a little, he tries to participate with his brothers and sisters: “All right. You also take a little.” This is an increase in the feeling of fellowship. Then, as he grows up, he begins to feel some love for his parents, then for his community, then for his country, and at last for all nations. But unless the center is right, that expansion of feeling – even if it is national or international – is not perfect.
For example, the meaning of the word national is “one who has taken birth in a particular country.” You feel for other Americans because they are born in this country. You may even sacrifice your life for your countrymen. But there is a defect: If the definition of national is “one who is born in a particular country,” then why are the animals born in America not considered Americans? The problem is that we are not expanding our feelings beyond the human society. Because we don’t think animals are our countrymen, we send them to the slaughterhouse.
So the center of our national feeling or our international feeling is not fixed on the proper object. If the center is right, then you can draw any number of circles around that center and they’ll never overlap. They’ll simply keep growing, growing, growing. They’ll not intersect with one another if the center is all right. Unfortunately, although everyone is feeling nationally or internationally, the center is missing. Therefore your international feeling and my international feeling, your national feeling and my national feeling, are overlapping and conflicting. So we have to find the proper center for our loving feelings. Then you can expand your circle of feelings and it will not overlap or conflict with others’.
That center is Kṛṣṇa.
Our society, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, is teaching the people of all countries that the center of their affection should be Kṛṣṇa. In other words, we are teaching people to be mahātmās. You may have heard this word mahātmā before. It is a Sanskrit word that is applied to a person whose mind is expanded, whose circle of feelings is very much expanded. This is a mahātmā. Mahā means “big” or “great,” and ātmā means “soul.” So he who has expanded his soul very wide is called a mahātmā.
The Bhagavad-gītā [7.19] gives a description of the person who has expanded his feelings very wide:
jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ
The first idea in this verse is that one can become a mahātmā only after many, many births (bahūnāṁ janmanām ante). The soul is transmigrating through many bodies, one after another. There are 8,400,000 different species of life, and we evolve through them until at last we come to the human form of life. Only then can we become a mahātmā. This is why Kṛṣṇa says bahūnāṁ janmanām ante: “After many, many births one may become a mahātmā.”
In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam there is a similar verse. Labdhvā su-durlabham idaṁ bahu-sambhavānte: “After many, many births you have achieved a human body, which is very difficult to get.” This human form of life is not cheap. The bodies of cats and dogs and other animals are cheap, but this human form is not. After being born in at least 8,000,000 different species, we get this human form. So the Bhāgavatam and the Bhagavad-gītā say the same thing. All Vedic literatures corroborate one another, and the person who can understand them doesn’t find any contradiction.
So the human form of life is obtained after many, many births in other-than-human forms of life. But even in this human form of life, many, many births are required for one who is cultivating knowledge of the central point of existence. If one is actually cultivating spiritual knowledge – not in one life but in many, many lives – one eventually comes to the highest platform of knowledge and is called jñānavān, “the possessor of true knowledge.” Then, Kṛṣṇa says, māṁ prapadyate: “He surrenders unto Me, Kṛṣṇa, or God.” (When I say “Kṛṣṇa” I mean the Supreme Lord, the all-attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead.)
Now, why does a man in knowledge surrender to Kṛṣṇa? Vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti: Because he knows that Vāsudeva, Kṛṣṇa, is everything – that He is the central point of all loving feelings. Then, sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ. Here the word mahātmā is used. After cultivating knowledge for many, many births, a person who expands his consciousness up to the point of loving God – he is a mahātmā, a great soul. God is great, and His devotee is also great. But, Kṛṣṇa says, sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ: That sort of great soul is very rarely to be seen. This is the description of a mahātmā we get from the Bhagavad-gītā.
Now we have expanded our feelings of love to various objects. We may love our country, we may love our community, we may love our family, we may love our cats and dogs. In any case, we have love, and we expand it according to our knowledge. And when our knowledge is perfect, we come to the point of loving Kṛṣṇa. That is perfection. Love of Kṛṣṇa is the aim of all activities, the aim of life.
The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam [1.2.8] confirms that the goal of life is Kṛṣṇa:
notpādayed yadi ratiṁ
śrama eva hi kevalam
The first words in this verse are dharmaḥ svanuṣṭhitaḥ puṁsām. This means that everyone is doing his duty according to his position. A householder has some duty, a sannyāsī [renunciant] has some duty, a brahmacārī [celibate student] has some duty. There are different types of duties according to different occupations or professions. But, the Bhāgavatam says, if by performing your duties very nicely you still do not come to the understanding of Kṛṣṇa, then whatever you have done is simply useless labor (śrama eva hi kevalam). So if you want to come to the point of perfection, you should try to understand and love Kṛṣṇa. Then your national or international feelings of love will actually expand to their limit.
Now, suppose a man says, “Yes, I have expanded my feelings of love very widely.” That is all right, but he must show the symptoms of how his feelings of love are expanded. As Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā [5.18]:
brāhmaṇe gavi hastini
śuni caiva śva-pāke ca
If one is actually a paṇḍita, someone who is elevated to the stage of perfect wisdom, then he must see everyone on an equal platform (sama-darśinaḥ). Because the vision of a paṇḍita is no longer absorbed simply with the body, he sees a learned brāhmaṇa as a spirit soul, he sees a dog as a spirit soul, he sees an elephant as a spirit soul, and he also sees a lowborn man as a spirit soul. From the highborn brāhmaṇa down to the caṇḍāla [outcaste], there are many social classes in human society, but if a man is really learned he sees everyone, every living entity, on the same level. That is the stage of true learning.
We are trying to expand our feeling socially, communally, nationally, internationally, or universally. That is our natural function – to expand our consciousness. But my point is that if we actually want to expand our consciousness to the utmost, we must find out the real center of existence. That center is Kṛṣṇa, or God. How do we know Kṛṣṇa is God? Kṛṣṇa declares Himself to be God in the Bhagavad-gītā. Please always remember that the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is based on understanding Bhagavad-gītā as it is. Whatever I am speaking is in the Bhagavad-gītā. Unfortunately, the Bhagavad-gītā has been misinterpreted by so many commentators that people have misunderstood it. Actually, the purport of the Bhagavad-gītā is to develop Kṛṣṇa consciousness, love of Kṛṣṇa, and we are trying to teach that.
In the Bhagavad-gītā Kṛṣṇa has given several descriptions of a mahātmā. He says, mahātmānas tu māṁ pārtha daivīṁ prakṛtim āśritāḥ: “A mahātmā, one who is actually wise and broad-minded, is under the shelter of My spiritual energy.” He is no longer under the spell of the material energy.
Whatever we see is made up of various energies of God. In the Upaniṣads it is said, parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate: “The Supreme Absolute Truth has many varieties of energies.” And these energies are acting so nicely that it appears they are working automatically (svābhāvikī jñāna-bala-kriyā ca). For example, we have all seen a blooming flower. We may think that it has automatically blossomed and become so beautiful. But no, the material energy of God is acting.
Similarly, Kṛṣṇa has a spiritual energy. And a mahātmā, one who is broad-minded, is under the protection of that spiritual energy; he is not under the spell of the material energy. These things are all explained in the Bhagavad-gītā. There are many verses in the Bhagavad-gītā that describe how Kṛṣṇa’s energies are working, and our mission is to present Bhagavad-gītā as it is, without any nonsensical commentary. There is no need of nonsensical commentary. Bhagavad-gītā is as clear as the sunlight. Just as you don’t require a lamp to see the sun, you don’t require the commentary of an ignorant, common man to study the Bhagavad-gītā. You should study the Bhagavad-gītā as it is. Then you will get all spiritual knowledge. You will become wise and will understand Kṛṣṇa. Then you will surrender to Him and become a mahātmā.
Now, what are the activities of a mahātmā? A mahātmā is under the protection of Kṛṣṇa’s spiritual energy, but what is the symptom of that protection? Kṛṣṇa says, mām … bhajanty ananya-manasaḥ: “A mahātmā is always engaged in devotional service to Me.” That is the main symptom of a mahātmā: he is always serving Kṛṣṇa. Does he engage in this devotional service blindly? No. Kṛṣṇa says, jñātvā bhūtādim avyayam: “He knows perfectly that I am the source of everything.”
So Kṛṣṇa explains everything in the Bhagavad-gītā. And our purpose in the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is to spread the knowledge contained in the Bhagavad-gītā without adding any nonsensical commentary. Then the human society will profit from this knowledge. Now society is not in a sound condition, but if people understand the Bhagavad-gītā, and if they actually broaden their outlook, all social, national, and international problems will be solved automatically. There will be no difficulty. But if we don’t find out what the center of existence is, if we manufacture our own ways to expand our loving feelings, there will be only conflict – not only between individual persons but between the different nations of the world. The nations are trying to be united; in your country there is the United Nations. Unfortunately, instead of the nations becoming united, the flags are increasing. Similarly, India was once one country, Hindustan. Now there is also Pakistan. And some time in the future there will be Sikhistan and then some other “stan.”
Instead of becoming united we are becoming disunited, because we are missing the center. Therefore, my request, since you are all international students, is that you please try to find out the real center of your international movement. Real international feeling will be possible when you understand that the center is Kṛṣṇa. Then your international movement will be perfect.
In the fourteenth chapter of Bhagavad-gītā [14.4], Lord Kṛṣṇa says,
mūrtayaḥ sambhavanti yāḥ
tāsāṁ brahma mahad yonir
ahaṁ bīja-pradaḥ pitā
Here Kṛṣṇa says, “I am the father of all forms of life. The material nature is the mother, and I am the seed-giving father.” Without a father and mother, nobody can be born. The father gives the seed, and the mother supplies the body. In this material world the mother of every one of us – from Lord Brahmā down to the ant – is the material nature. Our body is matter; therefore it is a gift of the material nature, our mother. But I, the spirit soul, am part and parcel of the supreme father, Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa says, mamaivāṁśo … jīva-bhūtaḥ: “All these living entities are part and parcel of Me.”
So if you want to broaden your feelings of fellowship to the utmost limit, please try to understand the Bhagavad-gītā. You’ll get enlightenment; you’ll become a real mahātmā. You will feel affection even for the cats and dogs and reptiles. In the Seventh Canto of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam you’ll find a statement by Nārada Muni that if there is a snake in your house, you should give it something to eat. Just see how your feelings can expand! You’ll care even for a snake, what to speak of other animals and human beings.
So we cannot become enlightened unless we come to the point of understanding God, or Kṛṣṇa. Therefore we are preaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness all over the world. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is not new. As I told you, it is based on the principles of the Bhagavad-gītā, and the Bhagavad-gītā is an ancient scripture. From the historical point of view it is five thousand years old. And from a prehistorical point of view it is millions of years old. Kṛṣṇa says in the fourth chapter, imaṁ vivasvate yogaṁ proktavān aham avyayam: “I first spoke this ancient science of yoga to the sun-god.” That means Kṛṣṇa first spoke the Bhagavad-gītā some millions of years ago. But simply from a historical point of view, Bhagavad-gītā has existed since the days of the Battle of Kurukṣetra, which was fought five thousand years ago. So it is older than any other scripture in the world.
Try to understand Bhagavad-gītā as it is, without any unnecessary commentary. The words of the Bhagavad-gītā are sufficient to give you enlightenment, but unfortunately people have taken advantage of the popularity of the Bhagavad-gītā and have tried to express their own philosophy under the shelter of the Bhagavad-gītā. That is useless. Try to understand the Bhagavad-gītā as it is. Then you will get enlightenment; you will understand that Kṛṣṇa is the center of all activities. And if you become Kṛṣṇa conscious, everything will be perfect and all problems will be solved.
Thank you very much. Are there any questions?
Indian student: I don’t know the exact Sanskrit from the Gītā, but somewhere Kṛṣṇa says, “All roads lead to Me. No matter what one does, no matter what one thinks, no matter what one is involved with, eventually he will evolve toward Me.” So is enlightenment a natural evolution?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, Kṛṣṇa never says that whatever you do, whatever you think, you will naturally evolve toward Him. To become enlightened in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is not natural for the conditioned soul. You require instruction from a spiritual master. Otherwise, why did Kṛṣṇa instruct Arjuna? You have to get knowledge from a superior person and follow his instructions.
Arjuna was perplexed. He could not understand whether he should fight or not. Similarly, everyone in the material world is perplexed. So we require guidance from Kṛṣṇa or his bona fide representative. Then we can become enlightened.
Evolution is natural up through the animal species. But when we come to the human form of life, we can use our own discretion. As you like, you make your choice of which path to follow. If you like Kṛṣṇa, you can go to Kṛṣṇa; if you like something else, you can go there. That depends on your discretion.
Everyone has a little bit of independence. At the end of the Bhagavad-gītā [18.66] Kṛṣṇa says, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja: “Just give up everything and surrender unto Me.” If this surrender is natural, why would Kṛṣṇa say, “You should do this”? No. Surrendering to Kṛṣṇa is not natural in our materially conditioned state. We have to learn it. Therefore we must hear from a bona fide spiritual master – Kṛṣṇa or His authorized representative – and follow his instructions. This will bring us to the stage of full enlightenment in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
The Myth of Scarcity
Contrary to popular belief, current statistics show that the earth produces enough food to easily support its entire population. Yet greed and exploitation force over 25 percent of the world’s people to be underfed and undernourished. Śrīla Prabhupāda condemns unnecessary industrialization for contributing to the problem of hunger and for creating unemployment, pollution, and a host of other problems. In the following speech, recorded on May 2, 1973, in Los Angeles, he advocates a simpler, more natural, God-centered lifestyle.
hy edhante tava vīkṣitaiḥ
[Queen Kuntī said:] “All these cities and villages are flourishing in all respects because the herbs and grains are in abundance, the trees are full of fruits, the rivers are flowing, the hills are full of minerals, and the oceans are full of wealth. And this is all due to Your glancing over them.” [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 1.8.40]
Human prosperity flourishes by natural gifts and not by gigantic industrial enterprises. The gigantic industrial enterprises are products of a godless civilization, and they cause the destruction of the noble aims of human life. The more we increase such troublesome industries to squeeze out the vital energy of the human being, the more there will be dissatisfaction of the people in general, although a select few can live lavishly by exploitation.
The natural gifts such as grains and vegetables, fruits, rivers, the hills of jewels and minerals, and the seas full of pearls are supplied by the order of the Supreme, and as He desires, material nature produces them in abundance or restricts them at times. The natural law is that the human being may take advantage of these godly gifts of nature and thus satisfactorily flourish without being captivated by the exploitative motive of lording it over material nature.
The more we attempt to exploit material nature according to our whims, the more we shall become entrapped by the reaction of such exploitative attempts. If we have sufficient grains, fruits, vegetables, and herbs, then what is the necessity of running a slaughterhouse and killing poor animals?
A man need not kill an animal if he has sufficient grains and vegetables to eat. The flow of river waters fertilizes the fields, and there is more than what we need. Minerals are produced in the hills, and the jewels in the ocean. If the human civilization has sufficient grains, minerals, jewels, water, milk, etc., then why should we hanker after terrible industrial enterprises at the cost of the labor of some unfortunate men?
But all these natural gifts are dependent on the mercy of the Lord. What we need, therefore, is to be obedient to the laws of the Lord and achieve the perfection of human life by devotional service. The indications by Kuntī-devī are just to the point. She desires that God’s mercy be bestowed upon her and her sons so that natural prosperity will be maintained by His grace.
Kuntī-devī mentions that the grains are abundant, the trees full of fruits, the rivers flowing nicely, the hills full of minerals, and the oceans full of wealth, but she never mentions that industry and slaughterhouses are flourishing, for such things are nonsense that men have developed to create problems.
If we depend on God’s creation, there will be no scarcity, but simply ānanda, bliss. God’s creation provides sufficient grains and grass, and while we eat the grains and fruits, the animals like the cows will eat the grass. The bulls will help us produce grains, and they will take only a little, being satisfied with what we throw away. If we take fruit and throw away the skin, the animal will be satisfied with the skin. In this way, with Kṛṣṇa in the center, there can be full cooperation between the trees, animals, human beings, and all living entities. This is Vedic civilization, a civilization of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
Kuntī-devī prays to the Lord, “This prosperity is due to Your glance.” When we sit in the temple of Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa glances over us, and everything is nice. When sincere souls try to become Kṛṣṇa’s devotees, Kṛṣṇa very kindly comes before them in His full opulence and glances upon them, and they become happy and beautiful.
Similarly, the whole material creation is due to Kṛṣṇa’s glance (sa aikṣata). In the Vedas it is said that He glanced over matter, thus agitating it. A woman in touch with a man becomes agitated and becomes pregnant and then gives birth to children. The whole creation follows a similar process. Simply by Kṛṣṇa’s glance, matter becomes agitated and then becomes pregnant and gives birth to the living entities. It is simply by His glance that plants, trees, animals, and all other living beings come forth. How is this possible? None of us can say, “Simply by glancing over my wife, I can make her pregnant.” But although this is impossible for us, it is not impossible for Kṛṣṇa. The Brahma-saṁhitā [5.32] says, aṅgāni yasya sakalendriya-vṛttimanti: Every part of Kṛṣṇa’s body has all the capabilities of the other parts. With our eyes we can only see, but Kṛṣṇa can make others pregnant merely by looking at them. There is no need of sex, for simply by glancing Kṛṣṇa can create pregnancy.
In Bhagavad-gītā [9.10] Lord Kṛṣṇa says, mayādhyakṣeṇa prakṛtiḥ sūyate sa-carācaram: “By My supervision, material nature gives birth to all moving and nonmoving beings.” The word akṣa means “eyes,” so akṣeṇa indicates that all living entities take birth because of the Lord’s glance. There are two kinds of living entities – the moving beings, like insects, animals, and human beings, and the nonmoving beings, like trees and plants. In Sanskrit these two kinds of living entities are called sthāvara-jaṅgama, and they both come forth from material nature.
Of course, what comes from material nature is not the life, but the body. The living entities accept particular types of bodies from material nature, just as a child takes its body from its mother. For ten months the child’s body develops from the blood and nutrients of the mother’s body, but the child is a living entity, not matter. It is the living entity that has taken shelter in the womb of the mother, who then supplies the ingredients for that living entity’s body. This is nature’s way. The mother may not know how from her body another body has been created, but when the body of the child is fit, the child takes birth.
It is not that the living entity takes birth. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā [2.20], na jāyate mriyate vā: The living entity neither takes birth nor dies. That which does not take birth does not die; death is meant for that which has been created, and that which is not created has no death. The Gītā says, na jāyate mriyate vā kadācit. The word kadācit means “at any time.” At no time does the living entity actually take birth. Although we may see that a child is born, actually it is not born. Nityaḥ śāśvato ’yaṁ purāṇaḥ. The living entity is eternal (śāśvata), always existing, and very, very old (purāṇa). Na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre: Don’t think that when the body is destroyed the living entity will be destroyed; no, the living entity will continue to exist.
A scientist friend once asked me, “What is the proof of the soul’s eternality?” Kṛṣṇa says, na hanyate hanyamāne śārīre: “The soul is not killed when the body is killed.” This statement in itself is proof. This type of proof is called śruti, the proof established by that which is heard through the disciplic succession from the Supreme. One form of proof is proof by logic (nyāya-prasthāna). One can get knowledge by logic, arguments, and philosophical research. But another form of proof is śruti, proof established by hearing from authorities. A third form of proof is smṛti, proof established by statements derived from the śruti. The Purāṇas are smṛti, the Upaniṣads are śruti, and the Vedānta is nyāya. Of these three the śruti-prasthāna, or the evidence from the śruti, is especially important.
Pratyakṣa, the process of receiving knowledge through direct perception, has no value, because our senses are all imperfect. For example, to us the sun looks like a small disk, but in fact it is many times larger than the earth. So what is the value of our direct perception through our eyes? We have so many senses through which we can experience knowledge – the eyes, the ears, the nose, and so on – but because these senses are imperfect, whatever knowledge we get by exercising these senses is also imperfect. Because scientists try to understand things by exercising their imperfect senses, their conclusions are always imperfect. Svarūpa Dāmodara, a scientist among our disciples, inquired from a fellow scientist who says that life comes from matter, “If I give you the chemicals with which to produce life, will you be able to produce it?” The scientist replied, “That I do not know.” This is imperfect knowledge. If you do not know, then your knowledge is imperfect. Why then have you become a teacher? That is cheating. Our contention is that to become perfect one must take lessons from the perfect teacher.
Kṛṣṇa is perfect, so we take knowledge from Him. Kṛṣṇa says, na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre: “The soul does not die when the body dies.” Therefore this understanding that the soul is eternal and the body is temporary is perfect.
Kuntī-devī says, ime jana-padāḥ sv-ṛddhāḥ supakvauṣadhi-vīrudhaḥ: “The grains are abundant, the trees are full of fruits, the rivers are flowing, the hills are full of minerals, and the oceans are full of wealth.” What more could one want? The oyster produces pearls, and formerly people decorated their bodies with pearls, valuable stones, silk, gold, and silver. But where are those things now? Now, with the advancement of civilization, there are so many beautiful girls who have no ornaments of gold, pearls, or jewels, but only plastic bangles. So what is the use of industry and slaughterhouses?
By God’s arrangement one can have enough food grains, enough milk, enough fruits and vegetables, and nice clear river water. But now I have seen, while traveling in Europe, that all the rivers there have become nasty. In Germany, in France, and also in Russia and America I have seen that the rivers are nasty. By nature’s way the water in the ocean is kept clear like crystal, and the same water is transferred to the rivers, but without salt, so that one may take nice water from the river. This is nature’s way, and nature’s way means Kṛṣṇa’s way. So what is the use of constructing huge waterworks to supply water?
Nature has already given us everything. If we want wealth we may collect pearls and become rich; there is no need to become rich by starting some huge factory to produce auto bodies. By such industrial enterprises we have simply created troubles. Otherwise, we need only depend on Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa’s mercy, because by Kṛṣṇa’s glance (tava vīkṣitaiḥ), everything is set right. So if we simply plead for Kṛṣṇa’s glance, there will be no question of scarcity or need. Everything will be complete. The idea of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, therefore, is to depend on nature’s gifts and the grace of Kṛṣṇa.
People say that the population is increasing, and therefore they are checking this by artificial means. Why? The birds and beasts are increasing their populations and have no contraceptives, but are they in need of food? Do we ever see birds or animals dying for want of food? Perhaps in the city, although not very often. But if we go to the jungle we shall see that all the elephants, lions, tigers, and other animals are very stout and strong. Who is supplying them with food? Some of them are vegetarians and some of them are nonvegetarians, but none of them are in want of food.
Of course, by nature’s way the tiger, being a nonvegetarian, does not get food every day. After all, who will face a tiger to become its food? Who will say to the tiger, “Sir, I am an altruist and have come to you to give you food, so take my body”? No one. Therefore the tiger has difficulty finding food. And as soon as the tiger is out, there is an animal that follows it and makes a sound like “fayo, fayo,” so that the other animals will know, “Now the tiger is out.” So by nature’s way the tiger has difficulty. But still Kṛṣṇa supplies it food. After about a week, the tiger will get the chance to catch an animal, and because it does not get fresh food daily, it will keep the carcass in some bush and eat a little at a time. Since the tiger is very powerful, people want to become like a lion or a tiger. But that is not a very good proposition, because if one actually becomes like a tiger one won’t get food daily, but will have to search for food with great labor. If one becomes a vegetarian, however, one will get food every day. The food for a vegetarian is available everywhere.
Now in every city there are slaughterhouses, but does this mean that the slaughterhouses can supply enough so that one can live by eating only meat? No, there will not be an adequate supply. Even meat-eaters have to eat grains, fruits, and vegetables along with their slice of meat. Still, for that daily slice of meat they kill so many poor animals. How sinful this is! If people commit such sinful activities, how can they be happy? This killing should not be done, but because it is being done people are unhappy. However, if one becomes Kṛṣṇa conscious and simply depends on Kṛṣṇa’s glance (tava vīkṣitaiḥ), Kṛṣṇa will supply everything and there will be no question of scarcity.
Sometimes there appears to be scarcity, and sometimes we find that grains and fruits are produced in such a huge quantity that people cannot finish eating them. So this is a question of Kṛṣṇa’s glance. If Kṛṣṇa likes, He can produce a huge quantity of grains, fruits, and vegetables, but if Kṛṣṇa desires to restrict the supply, what good will meat do? You may eat me, or I may eat you, but that will not solve the problem.
For real peace and tranquillity and a sufficient supply of milk, water, and everything else we need, we simply have to depend on Kṛṣṇa. This is what Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura teaches us when he says, mārabi rākhabi – yo icchā tohārā: “My dear Lord, I simply surrender unto You and depend on You. Now if You like You may kill me, or else You may give me protection.” And Kṛṣṇa says in reply, “Yes. Sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja: Simply surrender exclusively unto Me.” He does not say, “Yes, depend on Me, and also depend on your slaughterhouses and factories.” No. He says, “Depend only on Me. Ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi: I will rescue you from the results of your sinful activities.”
Because we have lived so many years without being Kṛṣṇa conscious, we have lived only a sinful life, but Kṛṣṇa assures us that as soon as one surrenders to Him, He immediately squares all accounts and puts an end to all one’s sinful activities so that one may begin a new life. When we initiate disciples we therefore tell them, “Now the account is squared. Now don’t commit sinful activities any more.”
One should not think that because the holy name of Kṛṣṇa can nullify sinful activities, one may commit a little sinful activity and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa to nullify it. That is the greatest offense (nāmno balād yasya hi pāpa-buddhiḥ). The members of some religious orders go to church and confess their sins, but then they again commit the same sinful activities. What, then, is the value of their confession? One may confess, “My Lord, out of my ignorance I committed this sin.” But one should not plan, “I shall commit sinful activities and then go to church and confess them, and then the sins will be nullified and I can begin a new chapter of sinful life.” Similarly, one should not knowingly take advantage of the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra to nullify sinful activities so that one may then begin sinful acts again. We should be very careful. Before taking initiation, one promises to have no illicit sex, no intoxicants, no gambling, and no meat-eating, and this vow one should strictly follow. Then one will be clean. If one keeps oneself clean in this way and always engages in devotional service, his life will be a success, and there will be no scarcity of anything he wants.
Spiritual Advice to Businessmen
On January 30, 1973, in Calcutta, Śrīla Prabhupāda speaks to the Bharata Chamber of Commerce, a group of the region’s leading businessmen. “We should not be satisfied with becoming a big businessman. We must know what our next life is. … If you cultivate this knowledge and at the same time go on doing your business, your life will be successful.”
Mr. President, ladies, and gentlemen, I thank you very much for kindly inviting me. I’ll serve you to the best of my ability.
Today’s subject is “Culture and Business.” We understand business to mean “occupational duty.” According to our Vedic culture, there are different types of business. As described in Bhagavad-gītā [4.13], cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ. The four divisions of the social system, based on people’s qualities and types of work, are the brāhmaṇas [intellectuals and teachers], the kṣatriyas [military men and state leaders], the vaiśyas [farmers and merchants], and the śūdras [laborers]. Before doing business, one must know what kinds of work there are and who can do what kind of work. People have different capabilities, and there are different types of work, but now we have created a society where everyone takes up everyone else’s business. That is not very scientific.
Society has natural cultural divisions, just as there are natural divisions in the human body. The whole body is one unit, but it has different departments, also – for example, the head department, the arm department, the belly department, and the leg department. This is scientific. So in society the head department is represented by the brāhmaṇa, the arm department by the kṣatriya, the belly department by the vaiśya, and the leg department by the śūdra. Business should be divided scientifically in this way.
The head department is the most important department, because without the head the other departments – the arm, the belly, and the leg – cannot function. If the arm department is lacking, business can still go on. If the leg department is lacking, business can go on. But if the head department is not there – if your head is cut off from your body – then even though you have arms, legs, and a belly, they are all useless.
The head is meant for culture. Without culture, every type of business creates confusion and chaos. And that is what we have at the present moment, because of jumbling of different types of business. So there must be one section of people, the head department, who give advice to the other departments. These advisors are the intelligent and qualified brāhmaṇas.
kṣāntir ārjavam eva ca
jñānaṁ vijñānam āstikyaṁ
“Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom, and religiousness – these are the natural qualities by which the brāhmaṇas work.” [Bhagavad-gītā 18.42]
The brāhmaṇas, the head of the social body, are meant to guide society in culture. Culture means knowing the aim of life. Without understanding the aim of life, a man is a ship without a rudder. But at the present moment we are missing the goal of life because there is no head department in society. The whole human society is now lacking real brāhmaṇas to give advice to the other departments.
Arjuna is a good example of how a member of the kṣatriya department should take advice. He was a military man; his business was to fight. In the Battle of Kurukṣetra he engaged in his business, but at the same time he took the advice of the brahmaṇya-deva, Lord Kṛṣṇa. As it is said,
govindāya namo namaḥ
“Let me offer my respectful obeisances unto Lord Kṛṣṇa, who is the worshipable Deity for all brahminical men, who is the well-wisher of cows and brāhmaṇas, and who is always benefiting the whole world. I offer my repeated obeisances to the Personality of Godhead, known as Kṛṣṇa and Govinda.” [Viṣṇu Purāṇa 1.19.65]
In this verse the first things taken into consideration are the cows and the brāhmaṇas (go-brāhmaṇa). Why are they stressed? Because a society with no brahminical culture and no cow protection is not a human society but a chaotic, animalistic society. And any business you do in a chaotic condition will never be perfect. Business can be done nicely only in a society following a proper cultural system.
Instructions for a perfect cultural system are given in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. At a meeting in the forest of Naimiṣāraṇya, where many learned scholars and brāhmaṇas had assembled and Śrīla Sūta Gosvāmī was giving instructions, he stressed the varṇāśrama social system (ataḥ pumbhir dvija-śreṣṭhā varṇāśrama-vibhāgaśaḥ). The Vedic culture organizes society into four varṇas [occupational divisions] and four āśramas [spiritual stages of life]. As mentioned before, the varṇas are the brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, and śūdra. The āśramas are the brahmacārī-āśrama [celibate student life], gṛhastha-āśrama [family life], vānaprastha-āśrama [retired life], and sannyāsa-āśrama [renounced life]. Unless we take to this institution of varṇāśrama-dharma, the whole society will be chaotic.
And the purpose of varṇāśrama-dharma is to satisfy the Supreme Lord. As stated in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa [3.8.9],
puruṣeṇa paraḥ pumān
viṣṇur ārādhyate panthā
According to this verse, one has to satisfy the Supreme Lord by properly performing one’s prescribed duties according to the system of varṇa and āśrama. In a state, you have to satisfy your government. If you don’t, you are a bad citizen and cause chaos in society. Similarly, in the cosmic state – that is, in this material creation as a whole – if you do not satisfy the Supreme Lord, the proprietor of everything, then there will be a chaotic condition. Our Vedic culture teaches that whatever you do, you must satisfy the Supreme Lord. That is real culture.
Sva-karmaṇā tam abhyarcya siddhiṁ vindati mānavaḥ. You may do any business – the brāhmaṇa’s business, the kṣatriya’s business, the vaiśya’s business, or the śūdra’s business – but by your business you should satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. You may be a merchant, a professional man, a legal advisor, a medical man – it doesn’t matter. But if you want perfection in your business, then you must try to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Otherwise you are simply wasting your time.
In Bhagavad-gītā [3.9], Lord Kṛṣṇa says, yajñārthāt karmaṇaḥ. The word yajña refers to Viṣṇu, or Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Lord. You have to work for Him. Otherwise you become bound by the reactions of your activities (anyatra loko ’yaṁ karma-bandhanaḥ). And as long as you are in the bondage of karma, you have to transmigrate from one body to another.
Unfortunately, at the present moment people do not know that there is a soul and that the soul transmigrates from one body to another. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā [2.13], tathā dehāntara-prāptiḥ: “When the body dies, the soul transmigrates to another body.” I’ve talked with big, big scientists and professors who do not know that there is life after death. They do not know. But according to our Vedic information, there is life after death. And we can experience transmigration of the soul in this present life. It is a very common thing: A baby soon gets the body of a boy, the boy then gets the body of a young man, and the young man gets the body of an old man. Similarly, the old man, after the annihilation of his body, will get another body. It is quite natural and logical.
Actually, we have two bodies, the gross body and the subtle body. The gross body is made up of our senses and the bodily elements – bones, blood, and so on. When we change our body at death, the present gross body is destroyed, but the subtle body, made of mind, intelligence, and ego, is not. The subtle body carries us to our next gross body.
It is just like what happens when we sleep. At night we forget about the gross body, and the subtle body alone works. As we dream we are taken away from our home, from our bed, to some other place, and we completely forget the gross body. When our sleep is over we forget about the dream and become attached again to the gross body. This is going on in our daily experience.
So we are the observer, sometimes of the gross body and sometimes of the subtle body. Both bodies are changing, but we are the unchanging observer, the soul within the bodies. Therefore, our inquiry should be, “What is my position? At night I forget my gross body, and during the daytime I forget my subtle body. Then what is my real body?” These are the questions we should ask.
So you may do your business, as Arjuna did his business. He was a fighter, a kṣatriya, but he did not forget his culture, hearing Gītā from the master. But if you simply do business and do not cultivate your spiritual life, then your business is a useless waste of time (śrama eva hi kevalam).
Our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is being spread so that you do not forget your cultural life. We do not say that you stop your business and become a sannyāsī like me and give up everything. We do not say that. Nor did Kṛṣṇa say that. Kṛṣṇa never said, “Arjuna, give up your fighting business.” No, He said, “Arjuna, you are a kṣatriya. You are declining to fight, saying, `Oh, it is very abominable.’ You should not say that. You must fight.” That was Kṛṣṇa’s instruction.
Similarly, we Kṛṣṇa conscious people are also advising everyone, “Don’t give up your business. Go on with your business, but simply hear about Kṛṣṇa.” Caitanya Mahāprabhu also said this, quoting from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam: sthāne sthitāḥ śruti-gatāṁ tanu-vāṅ-manobhiḥ. Caitanya Mahāprabhu never said, “Give up your position.” Giving up one’s position is not very difficult. But to cultivate spiritual knowledge while one stays in his position – that is required. Among the animals there is no cultivation of spiritual life. That is not possible; the animals cannot cultivate this knowledge. Therefore, if human beings do not cultivate spiritual knowledge, they’re exactly like animals (dharmeṇa hīnāḥ paśubhiḥ samānāḥ).
So we should be very conscious about our eternal existence. We, the spirit soul within the body, are eternal (na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre). We are not going to die after the annihilation of our body. This is the cultivation of knowledge, or brahma-jijñāsā, which means inquiry about one’s self. Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s first disciple, Sanātana Gosvāmī, was formerly finance minister in the government of Nawab Hussein Shah. Then he retired and approached Caitanya Mahāprabhu and humbly said, “My dear Lord, people call me paṇḍita.” (Because he was a brāhmaṇa by caste, naturally he was called paṇḍita, meaning “a learned person.”) “But I am such a paṇḍita,” he said, “that I do not even know who or what I am.”
This is the position of everyone. You may be a businessman or you may be in another profession, but if you do not know what you are, wherefrom you have come, why you are under the tribulations of the laws of material nature, and where you are going in your next life – if you do not know these things, then whatever you are doing is useless. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam [1.2.8],
notpādayed yadi ratiṁ
śrama eva hi kevalam
“The occupational activities a man performs according to his own position are only so much useless labor if they do not provoke attraction for the message of the Personality of Godhead.” Therefore our request to everyone is that while you engage in your business, in whatever position Kṛṣṇa has posted you, do your duty nicely, but do not forget to cultivate Kṛṣṇa knowledge.
Kṛṣṇa knowledge means God consciousness. We must know that we are part and parcel of God (mamaivāṁśo jīva-loke jīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ). We are eternally part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa, or God, but we are now struggling with the mind and senses (manaḥ ṣaṣṭhānīndriyāṇi prakṛti-sthāni karṣati). Why this struggle for existence? We must inquire about our eternal life beyond this temporary life. Suppose in this temporary life I become a big businessman for, say, twenty years or fifty years or at the utmost one hundred years. There is no guarantee that in my next life I’m going to be a big businessman. No. There is no such guarantee. But this we do not care about. We are taking care of our present small span of life, but we are not taking care of our eternal life. That is our mistake.
In this life I may be a very great businessman, but in my next life, by my karma, I may become something else. There are 8,400,000 forms of life. Jalajā nava-lakṣāṇi sthāvarā lakṣa-viṁśatiḥ: There are 900,000 forms of life in the water, and 2,000,000 forms of trees and other plants. Then, kṛmayo rudra-saṅkhyakāḥ pakṣināṁ daśa-lakṣaṇam: There are 1,100,000 species of insects and reptiles, and 1,000,000 species of birds. Finally, triṁsāl-lakṣāni paśavaḥ catur-lakṣāni mānuṣaḥ: There are 3,000,000 varieties of beasts and 400,000 human species. So we must pass through 8,000,000 different forms of life before we come to the human form of life.
Therefore Prahlāda Mahārāja says,
dharmān bhāgavatān iha
durlabhaṁ mānuṣaṁ janma
tad apy adhruvam arthadam
“One who is sufficiently intelligent should use the human form of body from the very beginning of life – in other words, from the tender age of childhood – to practice the activities of devotional service, giving up all other engagements. The human body is most rarely achieved, and although temporary like other bodies, it is meaningful because in human life one can perform devotional service. Even a slight amount of sincere devotional service can give one complete perfection.” [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 7.6.1] This human birth is very rare. We should not be satisfied simply with becoming a big businessman. We must know what our next life is, what we are going to be.
There are different kinds of men. Some are called karmīs, some are called jñānīs, some are called yogīs, and some are called bhaktas. The karmīs are after material happiness. They want the best material comforts in this life, and they want to be elevated to the heavenly planets after death. The jñānīs also want happiness, but being fed up with the materialistic way of life, they want to merge into the existence of Brahman, the Absolute. The yogīs want mystic power. And the bhaktas, the devotees, simply want the service of the Lord. But unless one understands who the Lord is, how can one render service to Him? So cultivating knowledge of God is the highest culture.
There are different kinds of culture: the culture of the karmīs, the culture of the jñānīs, the culture of the yogīs, and the culture of the bhaktas. Actually, all of these people are called yogīs if they are doing their duty sincerely. Then they are known as karma-yogīs, jñāna-yogīs, dhyāna-yogīs, and bhakti-yogīs. But in Bhagavad-gītā [6.47] Kṛṣṇa says,
śraddhāvān bhajate yo māṁ
sa me yuktatamo mataḥ
Who is the first-class yogī ? Kṛṣṇa answers, “He who is always thinking of Me.” This means the Kṛṣṇa conscious person is the best yogī. As already mentioned, there are different kinds of yogīs (the karma-yogī, the jñāna-yogī, the dhyāna-yogī, and the bhakti-yogī), but the best yogī is he who always thinks of Kṛṣṇa within himself with faith and love. One who is rendering service to the Lord – he is the first-class yogī.
So we request everyone to try to know what he is, what Kṛṣṇa is, what his relationship with Kṛṣṇa is, what his real life is, and what the goal of his life is. Unless we cultivate all this knowledge, we are simply wasting our time, wasting our valuable human form of life. Although everyone will die – that’s a fact – one who dies after knowing these things is benefited. His life is successful.
The cat will die, the dog will die – everyone will die. But one who dies knowing Kṛṣṇa – oh, that is a successful death. As Kṛṣṇa says in Bhagavad-gītā [4.9],
evaṁ yo vetti tattvataḥ
tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma
naiti mām eti so ’rjuna
“One who knows in truth the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.”
So wherever we go all over the world, our only request is, “Please try to understand Kṛṣṇa. Then your life is successful.” It doesn’t matter what your business is. You have to do something to live. Kṛṣṇa says, śarīra-yātrāpi ca te na prasiddhyed akarmaṇaḥ: If you stop working, your life will be hampered. One has to do something for his livelihood, but at the same time he has to cultivate knowledge for the perfection of his life. The perfection of life is simple: try to understand Kṛṣṇa. This is what we are prescribing all over the world. It is not very difficult. If you read Bhagavad-gītā As It Is, you will come to understand Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa explains everything.
For the neophytes, Kṛṣṇa says, raso ’ham apsu kaunteya prabhāsmi śaśi-sūryayoḥ: “My dear Kaunteya, I am the taste of water, and I am the light of the sun and the moon.” There is no need to say, “I cannot see God.” Here is God: the taste of water is God. Everyone drinks water, and when one tastes it he is perceiving God. Then why do you say, “I cannot see God”? Think as God directs, and then gradually you’ll see Him. Simply remember this one instruction from Bhagavad-gītā – raso ’ham apsu kaunteya prabhāsmi śaśi-sūryayoḥ: “I am the taste of water; I am the shining illumination of the sun and moon.” Who has not seen the sunlight? Who has not seen the moonlight? Who has not tasted water? Then why do you say, “I have not seen God”? If you simply practice this bhakti-yoga, as soon as you taste water and feel satisfied you will think, “Oh, here is Kṛṣṇa.” Immediately you will remember Kṛṣṇa. As soon as you see the sunshine, you will remember, “Oh, here is Kṛṣṇa.” As soon as you see the moonshine, you will remember, “Oh, here is Kṛṣṇa.” And śabdaḥ khe: As soon as you hear some sound in the sky, you will remember, “Here is Kṛṣṇa.”
In this way, you will remember Kṛṣṇa at every step of your life. And if you remember Kṛṣṇa at every step of life, you become the topmost yogī. And above all, if you practice the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare, you will easily remember Kṛṣṇa. There is no tax. There is no loss to your business. If you chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, if you remember Kṛṣṇa while drinking water, what is your loss? Why don’t you try it? This is the real culture of knowledge. If you cultivate this knowledge and at the same time go on doing your business, your life will be successful. Thank you very much.
Ancient Prophecies Fulfilled
A little-known fact is that a book written over five thousand years ago – Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam – predicted many current trends and events with amazing accuracy. Śrīla Prabhupāda quotes profusely from this Sanskrit text in a lecture given at the Los Angeles Hare Kṛṣṇa temple during the summer of 1974. About present day society, the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam’s Twelfth Canto prophesies: “Religious principles will be determined by a show of strength [and] measured by a person’s reputation for material accomplishments.” And: “Those without money will be unable to get justice, and anyone who can cleverly juggle words will be considered a scholar.”
satyaṁ śaucam kṣamā dayā
kālena balinā rājan
naṅkṣyaty āyur balaṁ smṛtiḥ
“My dear King, with each day religion, truthfulness, cleanliness, forgiveness, mercy, duration of life, bodily strength, and memory will all decrease more and more by the mighty force of time.” [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 12.2.1]
This description of the Kali-yuga [the present age of quarrel and hypocrisy] is given in the Twelfth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam was written five thousand years ago, when the Kali-yuga was about to begin, and many things that would happen in the future are spoken of there. Therefore we accept Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam as śāstra [revealed scripture]. The compiler of śāstra (the śāstra-kāra) must be a liberated person so that he can describe past, present, and future.
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam you will find many things which are foretold. There is mention of Lord Buddha’s appearance and Lord Kalki’s appearance. (Lord Kalki will appear at the end of the Kali-yuga.) There is also mention of Lord Caitanya’s appearance. Although the Bhāgavatam was written five thousand years ago, the writer knew past, present, and future (tri-kāla-jña), and thus he could predict all these events with perfect accuracy.
So here Śukadeva Gosvāmī is describing the chief symptoms of this age. He says, tataś cānu-dinam: With the progress of this age [Kali-yuga], dharma, religious principles; satyam, truthfulness; śaucam, cleanliness; kṣamā, forgiveness; dayā, mercifulness; āyuḥ, duration of life; balam, bodily strength; smṛti, memory – these eight things will gradually decrease to nil or almost nil.
Of course, there are other yugas besides Kali-yuga. During the Satya-yuga, which lasted eighteen hundred thousand years, human beings lived for one hundred thousand years. The duration of the next age, the Tretā-yuga, was twelve hundred thousand years, and the people of that age used to live for ten thousand years. In other words, the duration of life was ten times reduced. In the next age, Dvāpara-yuga, the life span was again ten times reduced – people used to live for one thousand years – and the duration of the Dvāpara Age was eight hundred thousand years. Then, in the next age, this Kali-yuga, we can live up to one hundred years at the utmost. We are not living one hundred years, but still, the limit is one hundred years. So just see: from one hundred years the average duration of life has decreased to about seventy years. And it will eventually decrease to the point where if a man lives for twenty to thirty years, he will be considered a very old man.
Another symptom of the Kali-yuga predicted in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is the decrease in memory (smṛti). We see nowadays that people do not have very sharp memories – they forget easily. They may hear something daily, yet still they forget it. Similarly, bodily strength (balam) is decreasing. You can all understand this, because you know that your father or grandfather was physically stronger than you are. So, bodily strength is decreasing, memory is decreasing, and the duration of life is decreasing – and all of this is predicted in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
Another symptom of Kali-yuga is the decrease in religion. There is practically no question of religion in this age – it has almost decreased to nil. No one is interested in religion. The churches and temples are being closed, locked up. The building we are sitting in was once a church, but it was sold because no one was coming. Similarly, we are purchasing a very big church in Australia, and in London I have seen many hundreds of vacant churches – no one is going there. And not only churches: in India also, except for a few important temples, the ordinary, small temples are being closed. They have become the habitation of the dogs. So dharma, religion, is decreasing.
Truthfulness, cleanliness, and forgiveness are also decreasing. Formerly, if someone did something wrong, the other party would forgive him. For example, Arjuna was tortured by his enemies, yet still, on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra he said, “Kṛṣṇa, let me leave. I don’t want to kill them.” This is forgiveness. But now, even for a small insult people will kill. This is going on. Also, there is now no mercifulness (dayā). Even if you see someone being killed in front of you, you will not take interest. These things are happening already. So, religion, truthfulness, cleanliness, forgiveness, mercifulness, duration of life, bodily strength, and memory – these eight things will decrease, decrease, decrease, decrease. When you see these symptoms, you should know the age of Kali is making progress.
Another symptom is vittam eva kalau nṝṇāṁ janmācāra-guṇodayaḥ: “In Kali-yuga, a man’s qualities and social position will be calculated according to the extent of his wealth.” [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 12.2.2] Formerly a man’s position was calculated according to his spiritual understanding. For example, a brāhmaṇa was honored because he knew brahma – he was aware of the Supreme Spirit. But now in Kali-yuga there are actually no brāhmaṇas, because people are taking the title of brāhmaṇa simply by janma, or birthright. Previously there was also birthright, but one was actually known according to his behavior. If a man was born in a brāhmaṇa family or a kṣatriya [administrative or military] family, he had to behave like a brāhmaṇa or kṣatriya. And it was the king’s duty to see that no one was falsely representing himself. In other words, respectability was awarded according to culture and education. But nowadays, vittam eva kalau nṝṇām: if you get money somehow or other, then everything is available. You may be a third-class or a fourth-class or a tenth-class man, but if you get money somehow or other, then you are very much respected. There is no question of your culture or education or knowledge. This is Kali-yuga.
Another symptom of Kali-yuga: dharma-nyāya-vyavasthāyāṁ kāraṇaṁ balam eva hi. “Religious principles and justice will be determined by a show of strength.” [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 12.2.2] If you have some influence, then everything will be decided in your favor. You may be the most irreligious person, but if you can bribe a priest he will certify that you are religious. So character will be decided by money, not by actual qualification. Next is dāmpatye ’bhirucir hetur māyaiva vyāvahārike: “Marriages will be arranged according to temporary affection, and to be a successful businessman, one will have to cheat.” [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 12.2.3] The relationship between husband and wife will depend on abhiruci, their liking each other. If a girl likes a boy and a boy likes a girl, then they think, “All right, now let the marriage take place.” No one ever knows what the future of the girl and boy will be. Therefore everyone becomes unhappy. Six months after marriage – divorce. This is because the marriage took place simply on the basis of superficial liking, not deep understanding.
Formerly, at least in India during my time, marriages did not take place because the boy and girl liked each other. No. Marriages were decided by the parents. I married when I was a student, but I did not know who my wife would be; my parents arranged everything. Another example is Dr. Rajendra Prasada, the first president of India. In his biography he wrote that he married at the age of eight. Similarly, my father-in-law married when he was eleven years old, and my mother-in-law when she was seven. So the point is that formerly, in India, marriage took place only after an astrological calculation of past, present, and future had determined whether the couple would be happy in their life together. When marriage is thus sanctified, the man and the woman live peacefully and practice spiritual culture. Each one helps the other, so they live very happily and become advanced in spiritual life. And at last they go back home, back to Godhead. That is the system. Not that a grown-up girl and a grown-up boy mix together, and if he likes her and she likes him they get married, and then he leaves or she leaves … This kind of marriage was not sanctioned. But of this Kali-yuga it is said, dāmpatye ’bhiruciḥ: Marriage will take place simply because of mutual liking, that’s all. Liking one moment means disliking the next moment. That is a fact. So a marriage based on mutual liking has no value.
The next symptoms of this age are strītve puṁstve ca hi ratir vipratve sūtram eva hi: “A husband and wife will stay together only as long as there is sex attraction, and brāhmaṇas [saintly intellectuals] will be known only by their wearing a sacred thread.” [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 12.2.3] Brāhmanas are offered a sacred thread. So now people are thinking, “Now I have a sacred thread, so I have become a brāhmaṇa. I may act like a caṇḍāla [dog-eater], but it doesn’t matter.” This is going on. One doesn’t understand that as a brāhmaṇa he has so much responsibility. Simply because he has the two-cent sacred thread, he thinks he has become a brāhmaṇa. And strītve puṁstve ca hi ratiḥ: A husband and wife will remain together because they like each other, but as soon as there will be some sex difficulty, their affection will slacken.
Another symptom of Kali-yuga is avṛttyā nyāya-daurbalyaṁ pāṇḍitye cāpalaṁ vacaḥ: “Those without money will be unable to get justice, and anyone who can cleverly juggle words will be considered a scholar.” [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 12.2.4] If you have no money, then you will never get justice in court. This is Kali-yuga. Nowadays even the high-court judges are taking bribes to give you a favorable judgment. But if you have no money, then don’t go to court. And pāṇḍitye cāpalaṁ vacaḥ. If a man can talk expertly – it doesn’t matter what he says, and nobody has to understand it – then he is a paṇḍita. He is a learned scholar. [Imitating gibberish:] “Aban gulakslena bugavad tugalad kulela gundulas, by the latricism of wife … ” Like this, if you go on speaking, no one will understand you. [Laughter.] Yet people will say, “Ah, see how learned he is.” [Laughter.] This is actually happening. There are so many rascals writing books, but if you ask one of them to explain what he has understood, he’ll say, “Oh, it is inexplicable.” These things are going on.
Next Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam says,
sādhutve dambha eva tu
svīkāra eva codvāhe
snānam eva prasādhanam
“Poverty will be looked on as dishonorable, while a hypocrite who can put on a show will be thought pious. Marriage will be based on arbitrary agreement, and simply taking a bath will be considered proper cleansing and decoration of the body.” [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 12.2.5]
First, anāḍhyatā: If you are a poor man, then you are dishonorable. People will think that a man is not honorable because he does not know how to earn money by hook or crook. And svīkāra eva codvāhe: Marriages will take place by agreement. This is being experienced in your country, and in my country also. The government appoints a marriage magistrate, and any boy and girl who want to can simply go to him and get married. Maybe there is some fee. “Yes, we agree to marry,” they say, and he certifies that they are married. Formerly, the father and mother used to select the bride and bridegroom by consulting an astrologer who could see the future. Nowadays marriage is taking place according to svīkāra, agreement.
Another symptom is dūre vāry-ayanaṁ tīrthaṁ lāvaṇyaṁ keśa-dhāraṇam: “Just going to some faraway river will be considered a proper pilgrimage, and a man will think he is beautiful if he has long hair.” [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 12.2.6] Just see how perfectly Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam predicts the future! “In Kali-yuga a man will think he has become very beautiful by keeping long hair.” You have very good experience of this in your country. Who could have known that people would be interested in keeping long hair? Yet that is stated in the Bhāgavatam: keśa-dhāraṇam. Keśa means “long hair” and dhāraṇam means “keeping.” Another symptom is dūre vāry-ayanaṁ tīrtham: People will think that a place of pilgrimage must be far away. For example, the Ganges flows through Calcutta, but no one cares to take a bath in the Calcutta Ganges; they’d rather go to Hardwar. It is the same Ganges. The Ganges is coming from Hardwar down to the Bay of Bengal. But people would rather suffer so much hardship to go to Hardwar and take a bath there, because that has become a tīrtha, a place of pilgrimage. Every religion has a tīrtha. The Muslims have Mecca and Medina, and the Christians have Golgotha. Similarly, the Hindus also think they must travel very far to find a tīrtha. But actually, tīrthī-kurvanti tīrthāni: a tīrtha is a place where there are saintly persons. That is a tīrtha. Not that one goes ten thousand miles and simply takes a dip in the water and then comes back.
The next symptoms are:
satyatve dhārṣṭyam eva hi
yaśo ’rthe dharma-sevanam
“The purpose of life will consist simply of filling one’s stomach, and audacity will become equivalent to conclusive truth. If a man can even maintain his own family members, he will be honored as very expert, and religiosity will be measured by a person’s reputation for material accomplishments.” [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 12.2.6] So, if somehow one can eat very sumptuously, then he will think all his interests are fulfilled. People will be very hungry, with nothing to eat, and therefore if they can eat very sumptuously on one day, that will be the fulfillment of all their desires. The next symptom is satyatve dhārṣṭyam eva hi: Anyone who is expert at word jugglery will be considered very truthful. Another symptom, dākṣyaṁ kuṭumba-bharaṇam: One shall be considered very expert if he can maintain his family – his wife and children. In other words, this will become very difficult. In fact, it has already become difficult. To maintain a wife and two children is now a great burden. Therefore no one wants to marry.
The next verse describes what will happen when all the people have been thus infected by the poison of Kali-yuga.
yo balī bhavitā nṛpaḥ
It won’t matter whether one is a brāhmaṇa [a learned and pure intellectual] or a kṣatriya [an administrator or soldier] or a vaiśya [a merchant or farmer] or a śūdra [a laborer] or a caṇḍāla [a dog-eater]. If one is powerful in getting votes, he will occupy the presidential or royal post. Formerly the system was that only a kṣatriya could occupy the royal throne, not a brāhmaṇa, vaiśya, or śūdra. But now, in the Kali-yuga, there is no such thing as a kṣatriya or a brāhmaṇa. Now we have democracy. Anyone who can get your votes by hook or crook can occupy the post of leader. He may be rascal number one, but he will be given the supreme, exalted presidential post. The Bhāgavatam describes these leaders in the next verse:
“The citizens will be so oppressed by merciless rogues in the guise of rulers that they will give up their spouses and property and flee to the hills and forests.” [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 12.2.8] So, the men who acquire a government post by vote are mostly lubdhai rājanyaiḥ, greedy government men. Nirghṛṇair dasyu: Their business is plundering the public. And we actually see that every year the government men are exacting heavy taxes, and whatever money is received they divide among themselves, while the citizens’ condition remains the same. Every government is doing that. Gradually, all people will feel so much harassed that ācchinna-dāra-draviṇāḥ: They will want to give up their family life (their wife and their money) and go to the forest. This we have also seen.
So, kaler doṣa-nidhe rājan: The faults of this age are just like an ocean. If you were put into the Pacific Ocean, you would not know how to save your life. Even if you were a very expert swimmer, it would not be possible for you to cross the Pacific Ocean. Similarly, the Kali-yuga is described in the Bhāgavatam as an ocean of faults. It is infected with so many anomalies that there seems to be no way out. But there is one medicine: kīrtanād eva kṛṣṇasya mukta-saṅgaḥ paraṁ vrajet. The Bhāgavatam explains that if you chant the name of Kṛṣṇa – the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra – you will be relieved from the infection of this Kali-yuga.
Thank you very much.
In June of 1974, at the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement’s community in Paris, France, Śrīla Prabhupāda talks to a group of intimate disciples. He points out that modern civilization’s hunger for meat and its extensive system of vicious and barbaric slaughtering facilities bring karmic reactions in the form of world wars, which Śrīla Prabhupāda refers to as “slaughterhouses for humankind.”
Puṣṭa Kṛṣṇa Swami: The other day, Śrīla Prabhupāda, you were saying that in India, at least until recently, it was forbidden to eat cows – that those who ate meat would eat only lower animals like dogs and goats.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. For meat-eaters, that is what the Vedic culture recommends: “Eat dogs.” As in Korea they are eating dogs, so you also can eat dogs. But don’t eat cows until after they have died a natural death. We don’t say, “Don’t eat.” You are so very fond of eating cows. All right, you can eat them, because after their death we have to give them to somebody, some living entity. Generally, cow carcasses are given to the vultures. But then, why only to the vultures? Why not to the modern “civilized” people, who are as good as vultures? [Laughter.]
These so-called civilized people – what is the difference between these rascals and vultures? The vultures also enjoy killing and then eating the dead body. “Make it dead and then enjoy” – people have become vultures. And their civilization is a vulture civilization. Animal-eaters – they’re like jackals, vultures, dogs. Flesh is not proper food for human beings. Here in the Vedic culture is civilized food, human food: milk, fruit, vegetables, nuts, grains. Let them learn it. Uncivilized rogues, vultures, rākṣasas [demons] – and they’re leaders.
Therefore I say that today the leaders are all fourth-class men. And that is why the whole world is in a chaotic condition. We require learned spiritual teachers – first-class men – to lead. My disciples are training to become first-class men. If people will take our advice, then everything will be all right. What is the use of fourth-class men leading a confused and chaotic society?
If I speak so frankly, people will be very angry. But basically, their leaders are all fourth class. First-class men are great devotees of the Lord, who can guide the administrators and the citizens through their words and practical example. Second-class men are administrative, military men, who look after the smooth running of the government and the safety of the citizens. And third-class men are farmers, who grow crops and protect the cows. But today who is protecting the cows? That is the third-class men’s business. So therefore everyone is fourth class or lower. Śva-viḍ-varāhoṣṭra-kharaiḥ saṁstutaḥ puruṣaḥ paśuḥ [Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 2.3.19]: People are living just like animals – without regulative, spiritual principles – and from among themselves they are electing the biggest animals. Anyone can do whatever he likes, whatever he thinks – no regulative principles.
But human life is meant for regulative principles. We are insisting that our students follow regulative principles – no meat-eating, no illicit sex, no intoxication, no gambling – just to make them real human beings. Without regulative principles it is animal life. Animal life.
In the human form of life, after passing through millions of lives in the plant and animal species, the spirit soul gets the chance to take up the yoga system – and yoga means strict regulative principles. Indriya-saṁyamaḥ – controlling the senses. That is the real yoga system. But today most people, though they may say they are practicing yoga, are misusing it. Just like the animals, they cannot control their senses. As human beings, they have higher intelligence; they should learn how to control the senses. This is human life. Na yat-karṇa-pathopetaḥ: One who has not heard the message of Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead – even for a moment – he’s an animal. The general mass of people, unless they are trained systematically for a higher standard of life in spiritual values, are no better than animals. They are on the level of dogs, hogs, camels, and asses.
Modern university education practically prepares one to acquire a doggish mentality for accepting the service of a greater master. Like the dogs, after finishing their so-called education the so-called educated persons move from door to door with applications for some service. We have this experience in India. There are so many educated men who are unemployed – because they have been educated as dogs. They must find a master; otherwise they have no power to work independently. Just like a dog – unless he finds a master, he is a street dog, loitering in the street.
Bhagavān dāsa: So many Ph.D.’s are graduating from school now that there are not enough jobs for them. So they have to take jobs as truck drivers or taxi drivers.
Yogeśvara dāsa: They’re supposed to be the educated class too – brāhmaṇas.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, they are not brāhmaṇas. Those who give education in exchange for money – they are not brāhmaṇas. For instance, we are lecturing, educating people. We don’t say, “Give us a salary.” We simply ask them, “Please come.” That is why we are cooking food and holding so many free festivals. “We’ll give you food. We’ll give you a comfortable seat. Please come and hear about self-realization and God consciousness.” We are not asking money – “First of all pay the fee; then you can come and learn Bhagavad-gītā.” We never say that. But these so-called teachers who first of all bargain for a salary – “What salary will you give me?” – that is a dog’s concern. That is not a brāhmaṇa’s concern. A brāhmaṇa will never ask about a salary. A brāhmaṇa is eager to see that people are educated. “Take free education and be educated; be a human being” – this is a brāhmaṇa’s concern: You see? I came here not to ask for any money but to give instruction.
Bhagavān dāsa: Today the priests are afraid to speak too strongly – or else they’ll be fired and get no salary. And the politicians – they’re also afraid to say what they really believe. They’re afraid that they’ll be voted out or get no more money to support themselves.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: The priests are after money. They are not first class; they are low-class men. This is the reason that Christianity has fallen down. The priests cannot speak straightforwardly. There is a straightforward commandment – “Thou shalt not kill.” But because people are already killing, the priests are afraid to present the commandment straightforwardly. Now they are even granting man-to-man marriage, what to speak of other things. The priests are sermonizing on this idea of man-to-man marriage. Just see how degraded they have become! Previously was there any conception like this, at least outside America? Nobody thought that a man could be married to another man. What is this? And the priests are supporting it. Do you know that? So what is their standard?
Jyotirmayī-devī dāsī: That priest who visited was telling you that he was asking all his parishioners to follow God’s law. So you asked him if he was going to get them to follow the fifth commandment, the law against killing – including animal-killing and especially cow-killing.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, this is our proposal: “Why should you kill the cow? Let the cow be protected.” You can take the cow’s milk and use this milk for making so many nutritious, delicious preparations. Aside from that, as far as meat-eating is concerned, every cow will die – so you just wait a while, and there will be so many dead cows. Then you can take all the dead cows and eat. So how is this a bad proposal? If you say, “You are restraining us from meat-eating” – no, we don’t restrain you. We simply ask you, “Don’t kill. When the cow is dead, you can eat it.”
Yogeśvara dāsa: You’ve pointed out that the cow is just like a mother.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. She gives us her milk.
Yogeśvara dāsa: But in the West now, when their parents grow old the people generally send them away to old age homes. So if people have no compassion even toward their own parents, how can we educate them to protect the cow?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: They don’t have to protect the cow. We shall protect the cow. Simply we ask them, “Don’t purchase meat from the slaughterhouse. We shall supply you the cow after her death.” Where is the difficulty?
Satsvarūpa dāsa Goswami: Not enough meat fast enough – they’re eating so much meat.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: “Not enough”? By killing the cows, how will you get any more meat? The total number of cows will remain the same. Simply wait for their natural death. That is the only restriction. You have got a limited number of cows. Either you wait for their death or you kill them at once – the number of cows is the same. So we simply ask you, “Don’t kill them. Wait for their natural death and then take the meat.” What is the difficulty? And we simply ask you, “As long as they’re alive, let us take the cow’s milk and prepare delicious foods for the whole human society.”
Yogeśvara dāsa: If people don’t kill the cows they will have even more meat, because that way the cows will have more time to reproduce more cows. If they don’t kill the cows right away, there will be even more cows.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: More cows, yes. They’ll have more cows. We simply request, “Don’t kill. Don’t maintain slaughterhouses.” That is very sinful. It brings down very severe karmic reactions upon society. Stop these slaughterhouses. We don’t say, “Stop eating meat.” You can eat meat, but don’t take it from the slaughterhouse, by killing. Simply wait, and you’ll get the carcasses.
After all, how long will the cows live? Their maximum age is twenty years, and there are many cows who live only eighteen, sixteen, or ten years. So wait that much time; then regularly get dead cows and eat. What is the difficulty?
For the first few years you may not get quite as much as now. During that time you can eat some dogs and cats. [Laughter.] Yes. In Korea they eat dogs. What is the difference between here and Korea? You can also eat dogs for the time being. Or hogs. Eat hogs. We don’t prohibit the killing of these less important animals. We neither sanction nor prohibit. But especially we request cow protection, because it is ordered by Lord Kṛṣṇa. Go-rakṣya: “Protect the cows.” That is our duty.
And economically, also, it is very useful. Kṛṣṇa has not recommended this for nothing; it is not like that. Kṛṣṇa’s order has meaning. The cows on our Hare Kṛṣṇa farms are giving more milk than other cows – because they are confident, “We will not be killed here.” It is not like these rascals, these so-called Christians, say: “They have no soul; they have no intelligence.” They have intelligence. In other places they do not give so much milk. But on our farms they are very jolly. As soon as the devotees call, they’ll come. Yes – just like friends. And they are confident, “We’ll not be killed.” So they are jubilant, and they are giving much milk. Yes.
In Europe and America the cows are very good, but the cow-killing system is also very good. So you stop this. You simply request them, “You’ll get the cow’s flesh. As soon as she is dead, we shall supply you free of charge. You haven’t got to pay so much money. You can get the flesh free and eat it then. Why are you killing? Stop these slaughterhouses.” What is wrong with this proposal?
We don’t want to stop trade or the production of grains and vegetables and fruit. But we want to stop these killing houses. It is very, very sinful. That is why all over the world they have so many wars. Every ten or fifteen years there is a big war – a wholesale slaughterhouse for humankind. But these rascals – they do not see it, that by the law of karma, every action must have its reaction.
You are killing innocent cows and other animals – nature will take revenge. Just wait. As soon as the time is right, nature will gather all these rascals and slaughter them. Finished. They’ll fight amongst themselves – Protestants and Catholics, Russia and America, this one and that one. It is going on. Why? That is nature’s law. Tit for tat. “You have killed. Now you kill yourselves.”
They are sending animals to the slaughterhouse, and now they’ll create their own slaughterhouse. [Imitating gunfire:] Tung! Tung! Kill! Kill! You see? Just take Belfast, for example. The Roman Catholics are killing the Protestants, and the Protestants are killing the Catholics. This is nature’s law. It’s not necessary that you be sent to the ordinary slaughterhouse. You’ll make a slaughterhouse at home. You’ll kill your own child – abortion. This is nature’s law. Who are these children being killed? They are these meat-eaters. They enjoyed themselves when so many animals were killed, and now they’re being killed by their mothers. People do not know how nature is working. If you kill, you must be killed. If you kill the cow, who is your mother, then in some future lifetime your mother will kill you. Yes. The mother becomes the child, and the child becomes the mother.
Māṁ sa khādatīti māṁsaḥ. The Sanskrit word is māṁsa. Mām means “me,” and sa means “he.” I am killing this animal; I am eating him. And in my next lifetime he’ll kill me and eat me. When the animal is sacrificed, this mantra is recited into the ear of the animal – “You are giving your life, so in your next life you will get the opportunity of becoming a human being. And I who am now killing you will become an animal, and you will kill me.” So after understanding this mantra, who will be ready to kill an animal?
Bhagavān dāsa: Many people today are discussing this topic of reincarnation, but they don’t understand the significance of the effects—
Śrīla Prabhupāda: How will they understand? All dull-headed fools and rascals, dressed like gentlemen. That’s all. Tāvac ca śobhate mūrkho yāvat kiñcin na bhāṣate. A rascal, a fool, is prestigious as long as he does not speak. As soon as he speaks, his nature will be revealed – what he really is. Therefore that priest who came did not stay long. He did not want to expose himself.
Bhagavān dāsa: Less intelligent.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Now, we must take to agricultural work – produce food and give protection to the cows. And if we produce a surplus, we can trade. It is a simple thing that we must do. Our people should live peacefully in farming villages, produce grain and fruit and vegetables, protect the cows, and work hard. And if there is a surplus, we can start restaurants. Kṛṣṇa conscious people will never be losers by following the instructions of Kṛṣṇa. They will live comfortably, without any material want, and tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti [Bhagavad-gītā 4.90]: After leaving this body they will go directly to God. This is our way of life.
So open restaurants in any part of any city and make nice kacaurīs, śrīkhaṇḍa, purīs, halavā, and so many other delicacies. And people will purchase them. They will come and sit down. I have given the format: “Every preparation is ready – you can sit down. This is our standard charge for a meal. Now, as much as you like you take. You can take one helping or two, three, four – as much as you like. But don’t waste. Don’t waste.” Suppose one man eats a single savory and another man eats four savories. That does not mean we shall charge more. Same charge. Same charge. “You can sit down, eat to your heart’s content, and be satisfied.” Let everyone be satisfied. “We will supply. Simply don’t waste.” This is our program. Not that each time – just as the hotel does – each time a plate is brought, immediately a bill. No. “You can sit down and eat to your satisfaction. The charge stays the same.”
Bhagavān dāsa: I think people will leave the restaurant with their pockets full of savories. [Laughter.]
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That we shall not allow.
Bhagavān dāsa: You were telling us one time that in India, if a person has a mango orchard and you’re hungry you can come in and eat, but you cannot take any away with you.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. If you have a garden and somebody says, “I want to eat some fruit,” you’ll say, “Yes, come on. Take as much fruit as you like.” But he should not gather up more than he can eat and take it away. Any number of men can come and eat to their satisfaction. The farmers do not even prohibit the monkeys – “All right, let them come in. After all, it is God’s property.” This is the Kṛṣṇa conscious system: If an animal, say a monkey, comes to your garden to eat, don’t prohibit him. He is also part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa. If you prohibit him, where will he eat?
I have another story; this one was told by my father. My father’s elder brother was running a cloth shop. Before closing the shop my uncle would put out a basin filled with rice. Of course, as in any village, there were rats. But the rats would take the rice and not cut even a single cloth. Cloth is very costly. If even one cloth had been cut by a rat, then it would have been a great loss. So with a few pennies’ worth of rice, he saved many dollars’ worth of cloth. This Kṛṣṇa culture is practical. “They are also part and parcel of God. Give them food. They’ll not create any disturbance. Give them food.”
Everyone has an obligation to feed whoever is hungry – even if it is a tiger. Once a certain spiritual teacher was living in the jungle. His disciples knew, “The tigers will never come and disturb us, because our teacher keeps some milk a little distance from the āśrama, and the tigers come and drink and go away.”
The teacher would call, “You! Tiger! You can come and take your milk here!” [Laughter.] And they would come and take the milk and go away. And they would never attack any members of the āśrama. The teacher would say, “They are my men – don’t harm them.”
I remember seeing at the World’s Fair that a man had trained a lion. And the man was playing with that lion just like one plays with a dog. These animals can understand, “This man loves me. He gives me food; he is my friend.” They also appreciate.
When Haridāsa Ṭhākura was living in a cave and chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, a big snake who also lived there decided to go away. The snake knew – “He’s a saintly person. He should not be disturbed. Let me go away.” And from Bhagavad-gītā we understand, īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe – Kṛṣṇa is in everyone’s heart, and He is dictating. So Kṛṣṇa can dictate peace and harmony to the animals, to the serpent, to everyone. [Śrīla Prabhupāda pauses reflectively.]
The Vedic culture offers so many nice, delicious foods, and mostly they are made with milk products. But these so-called civilized people – they do not know. They kill the cows and throw the milk away to the hogs, and they are proud of their civilization – like jackals and vultures. Actually, this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement will transform the uncivilized people and bring the whole world to real civilization.
A Formula for Peace
This article by Śrīla Prabhupāda was first published in 1956 in New Delhi, India, in Back to Godhead, the magazine he founded in 1944. Appealing to his Indian readers to “employ everything in transcendental service for the interest of the Lord,” he concludes that “this alone can bring the desired peace.”
In the revealed scriptures the Supreme Lord is described as sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha. Sat means “eternal,” cit means “fully cognizant,” ānanda means “joyful,” and vigraha means “a specific personality.” Therefore the Lord, or the Supreme Godhead, who is one without a second, is an eternal, joyful personality with a full sense of His own identity. That is a concise description of the Supreme Lord, and no one is equal to or greater than Him.
The living entities, or jīvas, are minute samples of the Supreme Lord, and therefore we find in their activities the desire for eternal existence, the desire for knowledge of everything, and an urge for seeking happiness in diverse ways. These three qualities of the living being are minutely visible in human society, but they are increased and enjoyed one hundred times more by the beings who reside in the upper planets, which are called Bhūrloka, Svarloka, Janaloka, Tapoloka, Maharloka, Brahmaloka, and so forth.
But even the standard of enjoyment on the highest planet in the material world, which is thousands and thousands of times superior to what we enjoy on this earth, is also described as insignificant in comparison to the spiritual bliss enjoyed in the company of the Supreme Lord. His loving service in different mellows (relationships) makes even the enjoyment of merging with the impersonal spiritual effulgence as insignificant as a drop of water compared with the ocean.
Every living being is ambitious to have the topmost level of enjoyment in the material world, and yet one is always unhappy here. This unhappiness is present on all the above-mentioned planets, in spite of a long life span and high standards of comfort.
That is the law of material nature. One can increase the duration of life and standard of comfort to the highest capacity, and yet by the law of material nature one will be unhappy. The reason is that the quality of happiness suitable for our constitution is different from the happiness derived from material activities. The living entity is a minute particle of sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha, and therefore he necessarily has a propensity for joyfulness that is spiritual in quality. But he is vainly trying to derive his spiritual joyfulness from the foreign atmosphere of the material nature.
A fish that is taken out of the water cannot be happy by any arrangement for happiness on the land – it must have an aquatic habitation. In the same way, the minute sac-cid-ānanda living entity cannot be really happy through any amount of material planning conceived by his illusioned brain. Therefore, the living entity must be given a different type of happiness, a transcendental happiness, which is called spiritual bliss. Our ambitions should be aimed at enjoying spiritual bliss and not material happiness.
The ambition for spiritual bliss is good, but the method of attaining this standard is not merely to negate material happiness. Theoretical negation of material activities, as propounded by Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya, may be relevant for an insignificant section of men, but the devotional activities propounded by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu are the best and surest way of attaining spiritual bliss. In fact, they change the very face of material nature.
Hankering after material happiness is called lust, and in the long run lustful activities are sure to meet with frustration. The body of a venomous snake is very cool. But if a man wants to enjoy the coolness of the snake’s body and therefore garlands himself with the snake, then surely he will be killed by the snake’s bite. The material senses are like snakes, and indulging in so-called material happiness surely kills one’s spiritual self-awareness. Therefore a sane man should be ambitious to find the real source of happiness.
Once, a foolish man who had no experience of the taste of sugarcane was told by a friend to taste its sweetness. When the man inquired about sugarcane’s appearance, the friend imperfectly informed him that sugarcane resembles a bamboo stick. The foolish man thus began trying to extract sugarcane juice from a bamboo stick, but naturally he was baffled in his attempt.
That is the position of the illusioned living being in his search for eternal happiness within the material world, which is not only full of miseries but also transient and flickering. In the Bhagavad-gītā, the material world is described as full of miseries. The ambition for happiness is good, but the attempt to derive it from inert matter by so-called scientific arrangements is an illusion. Befooled persons cannot understand this. The Gītā [16.13] describes how a person driven by the lust for material happiness thinks, “So much wealth do I have today, and I will gain more according to my schemes. So much is mine now, and it will increase in the future.”
The atheistic, or godless, civilization is a huge affair of sense gratification, and everyone is now mad after money to keep up an empty show. Everyone is seeking money because that is the medium of exchange for sense-gratificatory objects. To expect peace in such an atmosphere of gold-rush pandemonium is a utopian dream. As long as there is even a slight tinge of madness for sense gratification, peace will remain far, far away. The reason is that by nature everyone is an eternal servitor of the Supreme Lord, and therefore we cannot enjoy anything for our personal interest. We have to employ everything in transcendental service for the interest of the Lord. This alone can bring about the desired peace. A part of the body cannot make itself satisfied; it can only serve the whole body and derive satisfaction from that service. But now everyone is busy in self-interested business, and no one is prepared to serve the Lord. That is the basic cause of material existence.
From the highest executive administrator down to the lowest sweeper in the street, everyone is working with the thought of unlawful accumulation of wealth. But to work merely for one’s self-interest is unlawful and destructive. Even the cultivation of spiritual realization merely for one’s self-interest is unlawful and destructive.
As a result of all the unlawful money-making, there is no scarcity of money in the world. But there is a scarcity of peace. Since the whole of our human energy has been diverted to this money-making, the money-making capacity of the total population has certainly increased. But the result is that such an unrestricted and unlawful inflation of money has created a bad economy and has enabled us to manufacture huge, costly weapons that threaten to destroy the very result of such money-making.
Instead of enjoying peace, the leaders of big money-making countries are now making big plans how they can save themselves from the modern destructive weapons, and yet a huge sum of money is being thrown into the sea for experiments with such dreadful weapons. Such experiments are being carried out not only at huge monetary costs, but also at the cost of many poor lives, thereby binding such nations to the laws of karma. That is the illusion of material nature. As a result of the impulse for sense gratification, money is earned by spoiled energy, and it is then spent for the destruction of the human race. The energy of the human race is thus spoiled by the law of nature because that energy is diverted from the service of the Lord, who is actually the owner of all energies.
Wealth derives from mother Lakṣmī, or the goddess of fortune. As the Vedic literatures explain, the goddess of fortune is meant to serve Lord Nārāyaṇa, the source of all the naras, or living beings. The naras are also meant to serve Nārāyaṇa, the Supreme Lord, under the guidance of the goddess of fortune. The living being cannot enjoy the goddess of fortune without serving Nārāyaṇa, or Kṛṣṇa, and therefore whoever desires to enjoy her wrongly will be punished by the laws of nature, and the money itself will become the cause of destruction instead of being the cause of peace and prosperity.
Such unlawfully accumulated money is now being snatched away from the miserly citizens by various methods of state taxation for the various national and international war funds, which spend the money in a wasteful manner. The citizen is no longer satisfied with just enough money to maintain his family nicely and cultivate spiritual knowledge, both of which are essential in human life. He now wants money unlimitedly for satisfying insatiable desires, and in proportion to his unlawful desires his accumulated money is now being taken away by the agents of the illusory nature in the shape of medical practitioners, lawyers, tax collectors, societies, institutions, and so-called religionists, as well as by famines, earthquakes, and many other such calamities.
One miser who, under the dictation of the illusory nature, hesitated to purchase a copy of Back to Godhead spent twenty-five hundred dollars for a week’s supply of medicine and then died. A similar thing happened when a man who refused to spend a cent for the service of the Lord wasted thirty-five hundred dollars in a legal suit between the members of his household. That is the law of nature. If money is not devoted to the service of the Lord, by the law of nature it must be spent as spoiled energy in the fight against legal problems, diseases, and so on. Foolish people have no eyes to see such facts, so necessarily the laws of the Supreme Lord befool them.
The laws of nature do not allow us to accept more money than is required for proper maintenance. There is ample arrangement by the law of nature to provide every living being with his due share of food and shelter, but the insatiable lust of the human being has disturbed the whole arrangement of the almighty father of all species of life.
By the arrangement of the Supreme Lord, there is an ocean of salt, because salt is necessary for the living being. In the same manner, God has arranged for sufficient air and light, which are also essential for the living being. One can collect any amount of salt from the storehouse, but one cannot take more salt than he needs. If he takes more salt he spoils the broth, and if he takes less salt his eatables become tasteless. On the other hand, if he takes only what he absolutely requires, the food is tasty, and he is healthy. So ambition for wealth, for more than we need, is harmful, just as eating more salt than we absolutely need is harmful. That is the law of nature.