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Medicine for Maya

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Under the sway of maya—illusion—we succumb
to bodily identification and sense indulgence.
The self-realized soul can cure us of this disease.

A lecture in New Vrindaban, West Virginia, in 1968
by His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

One aspect of Srila Prabhupada's cure for material illusion was responsible, Krsna conscious marriage. Here he performs a traditional Vedic wedding ceremony at the Boston Hare Krsna center in the late sixties. Later, as the International Society for Krishna Consciousness expanded, Srila Prabhupada turned over the responsibility for performing these ceremonies to his older disciples.

One aspect of Srila Prabhupada’s cure for material illusion was responsible, Krsna conscious marriage. Here he performs a traditional Vedic wedding ceremony at the Boston Hare Krsna center in the late sixties. Later, as the International Society for Krishna Consciousness expanded, Srila Prabhupada turned over the responsibility for performing these ceremonies to his older disciples.

nunam pramattah kurute vikarma
yad indriya-pritaya aprnoti
na sadhu manye yata atmano ‘yam
asann api klesada asa dehah

“When a person considers sense gratification the aim of life, he certainly becomes mad after materialistic living and engages in all kinds of sinful activity. He does not know that due to his past misdeeds he has already received a body which, although temporary, is the cause of his misery. Actually the living entity should not have taken a material body, but he has been awarded it for sense gratification. Therefore I think it not befitting an intelligent man to involve himself again in the activities of sense gratification, by which he perpetually gets material bodies one after another.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.4)

Here Lord Rsabhadeva is saying that people are mad after sense gratification. The word pramattah means “intensely intoxicated.” So the material disease is to be intensely intoxicated in the matter of sense gratification. Then, kurute vikarma. Impelled by this propensity for sense gratification, people are prepared to do any kind of nonsense. For example, a man may know that stealing is not good, but because he wants to satisfy some desire for sense gratification, he steals. He knows, “If I am arrested for this stealing I’ll be punished. I may be hanged.” But still he commits sinful activity. This is madness.

We should philosophically try to understand whether we should be so busy for sense gratification. Suppose I say, “I want to satisfy my senses in this way. Will you kindly work for me?” You will say, “Oh, why should I work for you? You can work for your own satisfaction.” Nobody will agree to work to satisfy someone else’s senses, because everyone is thinking, “I want to satisfy my senses.” But if that is the position, then we have to ask, “Are the senses of this body mine?” That people do not ask.

What are the senses? The senses are part of this body. If this body actually belongs to me, then of course there is meaning to my satisfying the senses of this body. But let us philosophically see whether this body actually belongs to me. It is very doubtful, because I have gotten this body from my father and mother. So it may belong to them. Or, if I am a slave, it may belong to my master. Or, because I am the citizen of some state, it may belong to the state. If the state calls—”Come on, you must sacrifice your life in the Vietnam War”—you have to do that.

So, if you analytically study your position in this way, you’ll see that the body does not belong to you. Then why should you be so anxious to satisfy the senses of the body? Just try to understand: I am not interested in satisfying the senses of your body; I am interested in satisfying the senses of my body. But if this body doesn’t belong to me, then why should I be so mad after satisfying its senses?

Therefore the Srimad-Bhagavatam says that those who are only after sense gratification are pramattah, intensely intoxicated or mad. And as a result of this madness, a person gets different types of bodies, none of which belong to him. For example, for various amounts of rent you can get various types of apartments. If you can pay nicely, you can get a very good apartment in New York, on Fifth Avenue or somewhere like that. Or, if you cannot pay so much, you have to be satisfied with a lesser apartment. Similarly, we get this “apartment”—this body—according to how we have acted in our previous life.

We should understand that the goal of our life is to get such a nice body that we’ll never again have to change bodies. That should be the destination of our progress. But people do not know this, and so we have founded this Krsna consciousness movement just to inform the bewildered human society what life’s destination is.

You’ll find that this destination is described everywhere in the Vedic literature. For instance, in the Bhagavad-gita [8.15] Lord Krsna says,

mam upetya punar janma
duhkhalayam asasvatam
napnuvanti mahatmanah
samsiddhim paramam gatah

“The highest perfection is that one comes to Me [reaches the abode of Krsna] and then hasn’t got to accept this miserable body again.” We do not understand that this body is miserable. But actually, whether you get a princely body or a dog’s body, because you have accepted a material body you have to suffer. There is no escape.

Sometimes I meet American gentlemen who are under the impression that India is a starving country. This is not true, but even if we accept that India is a starving country, does that mean America is a very happy country? No. Americans think that simply because they have enough money, they are happy. But that is their mistake. If there is so much happiness in America, why are the young boys and girls becoming hippies? No. Happiness is different. As long as you have this material body—whether an American body or an Indian body or any body—there is no question of happiness. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam [5.5.6] Lord Rsabhadeva says, pritir na yavan mayi vasudeve na mucyate deha-yogena tavat: “Until one develops Krsna consciousness, or love of Godhead, there is no question of getting out of the material body.” In other words, until you become Krsna conscious, you will have to suffer.

So, the scientists and philosophers are not studying the actual cause of suffering. Everyone is trying to get out of all sorts of miseries, but no one knows what the actual cause of these miseries is. The real cause is this body. Unfortunately, people do not know what this body is and how it is working, or what the soul is and how it is transmigrating from one body to another. They are all rascals, fools. They have no knowledge, and yet they are trying to make a solution to their problems.

There is a story that illustrates this point. Formerly, when somebody was haunted by a ghost, an expert chanter would drive away the ghost by the power of a mantra. He would chant a mantra and throw mustard seeds on the person who was ghostly haunted, and the ghost would be driven away. So, once there was a person who was ghostly haunted, and the chanter was chanting the mantra and throwing the mustard seeds, but the ghost had entered the mustard seeds! So the chanter was simply making the problem worse. Similarly, we are trying to solve our problems by manipulating this body in so many ways, but this body itself is the problem. The “ghost” is within this body, and therefore we are simply making our problems worse.

So, the sum and substance of our Krsna consciousness movement is that we want to go back to Krsna. Besides this material world, there is another nature. Now we are very busy studying this material nature—so many stars and planets—but practically speaking we have very little knowledge about even this material world. From Vedic literature we get information that this material world, this cosmic manifestation, is only one fourth of God’s creation. There is another nature, the spiritual nature, where there are spiritual planets, Vaikunthas. And among them, Krsnaloka, or Krsna’s planet, is the highest.

The purpose of this Krsna consciousness movement is to enable us to transfer ourselves to Krsna’s planet, and the process is very easy in this age: Simply chant Hare Krsna. In this age of quarrel and dissension and disagreement, there is no alternative to chanting Hare Krsna. You cannot nicely execute the process of meditation or sacrifice or temple worship, because the circumstances in this age are different from those in previous ages. Therefore, kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha: “In this age there is no other process for getting out of the material clutches than the chanting of the names of God.”

The simple process of chanting Hare Krsna was offered by Lord Caitanya. He did not invent this process; it is authorized by the Vedic scriptures. And simply by this process of chanting Hare Krsna, we can realize our self, our destination, and our mission in this human form of life. In this ceremony we are initiating some disciples into the chanting of Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Initiation means “beginning.” It is not that immediately after initiation one beomes perfect, but gradually, by practice, one can achieve all perfection.

This marriage ceremony we are performing along with the initiation is perhaps a new thing I have introduced—that a sannyasi [renunciant] like myself is taking part in the marriage ceremony of his disciples. I do it because I want to see that they are free of any anxiety. As long as one is in anxiety, he cannot execute Krsna consciousness nicely. So, any of these boys or girls can keep themselves celibate throughout life if they like. But that is not very easy. Therefore we have introduced this marriage ceremony.

Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu also married, twice. His first wife died, and He married a second time. So marriage is not against the principles of our movement. Narottama dasa Thakura, a great Vaisnava poet in our line, sings, grhe ba vanete thake, ‘ha gauranga’ bo’le dake: “Whether one is a householder or a sannyasi, one should call out the name of the Lord.” In other words, one should be Krsna conscious; that is the thing.

I am a sannyasi. I am in the renounced order. But there are also many grhasthas, or householders. So, there is no prescription that one has to take the path of the renounced order of life. The essential thing is to be Krsna conscious.

Keeping this point of view, we must follow the regulative principles* (*No illicit sex, no intoxication, no meat-eating, and no gambling.) and be satisfied. Then we can peacefully, happily execute Krsna consciousness so that in our next life we may be transferred to Krsnaloka. We cannot go there by some mechanical means. We cannot go to other planets even within this material world by mechanical means. No. Everyone has to prepare himself first. Now we are conditioned. So first we have to get out of the conditioned stage; then it is possible for us to transfer ourselves to any planet we like. Krsna states this in the Bhagavad-gita [9.25]:

yanti deva-vrata devan
pitrn yanti pitr-vratah
bhutani yanti bhutejya
yanti mad-yajino ‘pi mam

“Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods; those who worship the ancestors go to the ancestors; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; and those who worship Me will live with Me.”

We have to prepare ourselves to achieve a better position in our next life. That is real education. Whether by following the yogic principles or by cultivating knowledge or by practicing devotional service, the whole idea is to transfer oneself to a better condition of life. The best condition of life is in Krsna’s planet. As Krsna says, yad gatva na nivartante tad dhama paramam mama: “If anyone comes to Me in My planet, he hasn’t got to return to the cycle of birth and death.”

So the purpose of the Krsna consciousness movement is to give everyone a chance to attain the topmost position, in Krsna-loka. Then there is no more returning to this material world, whether to this planet or any other planet. We may go to the moon planet, but that will not solve our real problems—birth, old age, disease, and death. Wherever you go in the material world, whether by your spaceships or by austerity or by meditation, these four material miseries are there. But if you go to Krsna’s world, they are absent.

Now, this marriage ceremony is not for sense gratification. It is to enable the husband and wife to help each other in Krsna consciousness. The husband should help the wife, and the wife should help the husband. Then both will become advanced in Krsna consciousness and make their human lives perfect. There is no question of divorce or separation, which are based on sense gratification. In the modern so-called civilization, as soon as there is a lack of sense gratification there is immediately divorce or separation. No. Here there is no question of these things.

The bride and bridegroom should always remember that in any condition of life they should remain together. That will be possible if they concentrate their attention on Krsna consciousness. Otherwise, maya [illusion] will attack in so many ways and cause disruption. There are so many duties for the wife in Krsna consciousness and so many duties for the husband, and if they properly execute their respective duties and engage themselves simply in Krsna consciousness, their present life will be very happy, and their next life also. So take this opportunity and be happy. Sarve sukhino bhavanti: “Let everyone become happy.” That is the Vedic mission. Without being happy, nobody can execute Krsna consciousness.

Now, to begin this initiation ceremony, we must chant the following mantra:

om apavitrah pavitro va
sarvavastham gato ‘pi va
yah smaret pundarikaksam
sa bahyabhyantarah sucih
sri-visnuh sri-visnuh sri-visnuh

This is a mantra for purification. In the material world we are all infected (apavitrah), but simply by remembering Krsna (yah smaret pundarikaksam) we can become disinfected (sucih). Therefore this initiation is meant to teach you how to remember Krsna always. The best way is to chant Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. As soon as we chant and hear this mantra, we immediately remember Krsna—His instructions in the Bhagavad-gita, His form, His name, His qualities, His pastimes, and so on. Everything comes to mind.

We have to practice remembering Krsna by chanting Hare Krsna. Then we will always remain uncontaminated. But if you forget Krsna, there is a chance of contamination. For example, if there is an epidemic disease, the medical man will administer a vaccination. In Los Angeles I received a vaccination. What was that disease—the flu?

Devotee: The Hong Kong flu.

Srila Prabhupada: The Hong Kong flu. Yes. Everyone was getting the vaccination, and I got it also. And therefore I was not attacked by the disease.

So, this whole world is the Hong Kong flu. [Laughter.] Maya is ready to attack. Always. Therefore, we have to take this vaccination of chanting Hare Krsna. In a song by Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Lord Caitanya says, enechi ausadhi maya nasibaro lagi’ hari-nama maha-mantra lao tumi magi’: “I have brought this Hare Krsna mantra, the medicine for killing the Hong Kong flu of maya. Now take it.” This chanting of Hare Krsna is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s greatest contribution for helping us fight against the attack of maya.

Everyone is subjected to maya’s influence. As Krsna says, daivi hy esa guna-mayi mama maya duratyaya: People are entangled in the three modes of material nature. To get out of this entanglement, which causes repeated transmigration from one body to another, one must remember Krsna (yah smaret pundarikaksam). And if you chant Hare Krsna, you’ll be forced to remember Him. The more you practice this chanting, the more you’ll realize Krsna. Eventually, as soon as the word Krsna is vibrated, you’ll see Krsna, Krsna, Krsna—nothing else. Why? Because one who is conversant with the science of Krsna knows how Krsna’s energies are working in so many ways. Therefore he acquires universal vision, universal love. If you love Krsna, there will be universal love. Otherwise, your “universal love” is simply talk.

So, yah smaret pundarikaksam sa bahyabhyantarah sucih. One who remembers Krsna remains always uncontaminated in any condition. This is very nice. Try to understand Krsna consciousness seriously, and your life will be sublime. It doesn’t matter what your present position is. Simply take to this Krsna consciousness, and your life will be sublime.

Thank you very much. Hare Krsna.

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