His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada arrived at New Vrindaban, West Virginia on the morning of May 21st, 1969. It was his first visit to the mountain ashram, which is the first community in the West dedicated to Krishna conscious living. Prabhupada walked swiftly up the two mile road proclaiming that he enjoyed the walk, and quietly entered into country life for one month. In the morning he would usually take walks around the property and point out sites for building constructions. Sometimes in the late morning he would lie outside in the sun, and in the evening he would sit in a favorite spot beneath a persimmon tree and look out over the mountains. “You don’t get tired outdoors like you do inside,” he once said. He especially enjoyed the milk fresh from Surabi Gai. He urged us to develop the acreage so that civilization can see that all man needs is a little land and a cow to live properly.
[The following two talks were given on the nights of May 23 and June 22.]
“Glory to the Sri Krishna Samkirtan which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years together. Thus the fire of conditional life, of repeated birth and death, is extinguished. This Samkirtan movement is the prime benediction for humanity at large because it spreads the rays of the benediction Moon. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge. It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss, and it helps us to have a taste of the full nectar for which we are always anxious.” In this Sri Krishna Samkirtan we feel cleansed for having washed in the ocean of transcendental bliss. Now present here at this meeting is an old man (I am 74 years old) and a child one year old. Yet everyone, beginning from the child up to the old man, can take part in this Samkirtan movement. Actually we can see practically that everyone is taking part in it. It is such a nice yoga system that there is no need for any material qualifications. If there are material qualifications, that is all right—we need not neglect them. We can dovetail all our material qualifications by rendering service to Krishna. That will make our material position successful.
All these children here at NewVrindaban are very fortunate. They are learning automatically how to chant, how to eat prasadam, how to say beads. They are very fortunate to have this tendency for Krishna consciousness, and it is the duty of the father and mother to raise children in Krishna consciousness so that the children can be saved from further bondage to birth and death. The Bhagavatam says that one should not become a father unless he is able to save his child from the impending mouth of death. Without Krishna consciousness no one can be saved from the cycle of birth and death. It is not possible. We are not this material body, but somehow we have contacted it, just like we contact some infectious disease. So long as we do not develop this Krishna consciousness we will never be able to free ourselves from contact with this material body. We may have a very nice body or a very bad body—that doesn’t matter. There are many insects and germs which live for five minutes only, and there are living entities in Brahma Loka who live for five millions of years—but that doesn’t matter. There are all varieties of life present here within this universe, and in Krishna’s creation we will find both the gigantic and the minute. We can see here in New Vrindaban that there are very big trees and also very small ones, some so small and insignificant that we trample over them without even knowing it. So in the living condition there are so many varieties of life and so much changing of bodies, but the problem is not to promote ourselves from a small body to a big body, from an ant’s body to an elephant’s body, but to free ourselves from all material bodies altogether. Actually we have a spiritual body—satchitananda vigraha—a body just like Krishna’s—and our goal should be to attain that. So this Krishna consciousness will give us this opportunity, and those who are grihastas, family men, have the duty to raise their children in Krishna consciousness so their children can take full advantage of the rare human life. Now in this New Vrindaban we will have a community of such enlightened fathers and mothers, and of sannyasins and brahmacharies. Actually we make no such distinctions. Whoever is in Krishna consciousness, whoever can understand the science of Krishna, can become a Spiritual Master, a teacher. In New Vrindaban we should live in such an ideal way that people will learn what human life and what human civilization actually are. What is the purpose of civilization? This we must teach the world. Thus I request those who are conducting New Vrindaban to develop this community in such a way that it will be exemplary.
Now this little one-year-old child is dancing and trying to chant Hare Krishna on beads. They have this natural tendency; they are simply to be instructed. They must have association of devotees, then there will be a new growth of superior population. They will not be like cats and dogs, but will actually be demigods. “Demigod” means devotee of Krishna, that’s all. And “asura” (demon) means non-devotee. So there is a sufficient population of asuras in this world, and thus the people are not happy. This demonic civilization is actually killing the human race, and therefore it is the responsibility of Krishna conscious people to save the ignorant and the innocent. This human form of life is meant for ending all the miserable conditions of material existence, but people are being misguided, just like animals. It is not a good civilization. So one of the major advantages of New Vrindaban is that it is out of contact with the asuric civilization. It is Krishna’s desire that no man of ordinary interest will come here. It is beyond the reach of the ordinary class of men. [Prabhupada laughs] Just like Hayagriva’s father says, “I’ll never walk up that road again.” [Laughs]
So these nice children have come here, and I have especially requested Swami Kirtanananda to take care of them and also for this nice motherly girl, Satyabhama, and her husband to help. If you can just make one child Krishna conscious that will be a great service. Krishna will be very pleased. Many children will come here, for this place is very nice and Krishna will give us all opportunity. I will also come again, for I like it here, but first I must finish a little work which is still remaining—I want to go once to London and Germany—and then I’ll entrust the whole preaching work to you.
Now let us cooperate. In New Vrindaban the women’s business will be to take care of the children, to cook, to clean and to churn butter, and, for those who have the knowledge, to help in typing. No other hard work—that’s all. But for the men, there is hard work—working in the field, taking care of the animals, collecting food, constructing buildings. So in this way we should cooperate. The girls who are here should prepare nice prasadam so that the boys can get their prasadam regularly. That is the duty of women. If men are given good prasadam on time, then they will work hard. And the churning business is for the girls—that will keep their health very nice. Yasoda, the mother of Krishna, although very exalted and so materially rich that she had many maidservants, still took pleasure in churning. And in Los Angeles recently there was a butter ceremony and people churned twelve pounds of butter at the meeting. So our Krishna consciousness movement is very appealing. We churn butter and have festivals and dance Hare Krishna. Just cooperate and try to improve this New Vrindaban scheme. It will certainly develop if you are sincere, for Krishna will send all help. Someday it will actually be a replica of Vrindaban. Kirtanananda Swami was in Vrindaban and so has an idea of what it is like. Now we have already instituted one Kesi Ghat here. So with cooperation this is all possible. Krishna will help you.
Now we shall discuss the compilation of Srimad Bhagavatam by Vyasadeva. There are millions of verses compiled by Vyasadeva—the Puranas, Vedanta Sutra, the Mahabharata. Mahabharata alone contains more than a hundred thousand verses. Similarly, there are other Puranas, and besides that the Upanishads. Vyasadeva is the editor and the compiler of all these Vedic literatures, but even after compiling all these he was not satisfied. Even after presenting the Vedanta Sutra in which he summarized all the Vedic knowledge, he was not satisfied.
The Vedanta Sutra contains the codes of all Vedic knowledge. Sutra means codes. The Vedanta Sutra begins with the words, “Athato brahma jijnasa.” This is translated, “Now one should enquire after the Supreme Absolute Truth.” This is the first injunction, and this verse can be explained in volumes of books, and there are so many different commentators who have explained this one verse. Someone says we should enquire after karmakanya, after finishing the sense gratificatory processes. Or after this, or after this. But the word is “athato,” a very significant word meaning “now, therefore.” “Therefore” means that you have enjoyed your material life as much as possible but are still confused and unhappy. In America you have just produced hippies. Frustration. Because the Americans have failed to achieve the highest pleasure of life despite their arranging all kinds of material facilities, therefore they should be eager to understand, and they should enquire what is the cause. So brahma jijnasa—what is the greatest happiness? Now you are enjoying material happiness, but you are not satisfied. You are confused. So you should enquire into the greatest happiness. Now we are trying to find out the Original Source of this cosmic manifestation. Why are we hankering after happiness? Why are we confused? What is the Original Source? The Original Source, it is replied immediately in the next sutra, either of happiness or of distress, of everything, is that wherefrom everything emanates. Distress emanates from it and happiness also emanates and these cosmic manifestations also emanate. The sky also emanates—everything emanates from the Supreme Source. How is it that both distress and happiness emanate and knowledge and ignorance also emanate? That is fullness. And how does everything emanate from that Original Source? That is explained in the Bhagavad Gita and in the Bhagavatam also. In Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says, “I am the Source of everything. I am the Source of happiness, and I am the Source of distress. I am the Source of all this, of Brahma, Vishnu—everything, for there is no Source beyond Me.” You will also find in the Bhagavad Gita that all dualities such as happiness and distress are reconciled in Krishna. “I am situated in everyone’s heart, and from Me there is remembering and forgetting.”
So why does one man forget and another man remember? Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says that the actual constitutional position of all living entities is that of eternal servitude to God. That is the position of everyone. All entities are made for that purpose, but we forget, and that forgetfulness is also from the Supreme. Why does Krishna allow one to forget? Because one wants to forget. We all have a tendency to imitate. If we see someone is enjoying himself, we think, “Oh, why shouldn’t I enjoy myself like him?” This is natural. We have the independence to think in that way. Similarly, among living entities whose business is to serve, there are those who want to imitate and become Krishna. Actually their position is that of a dog, but they want to become God. When living entities want to imitate in this way, they are immediately put into the clutches of Maya. Maya says, “All right you enjoy. Try to become God.” So in this material world everyone is trying to become God. I am trying to become God, and you are trying to become God, and so there is competition between gods. We have forgotten that we are dogs in our efforts to become God, as if God is such a cheap thing that anyone can become Him. This tendency to try to become God is actually asuric. We have the example of Hiranya Kashipu. As soon as his little child would say, “Krishna, Narayan,” Hiranya Kashipu would immediately become angry. “Oh, who is this Narayan?” he would ask. “Oh, He is God,” his little child would say. “Oh, who is God? I am God. Are you trying to respect some other God?” This philosophy is always present, and now it is very prominent. Everyone is trying to become God. There are so many swamis coming to your country and saying, “Oh, I am God, you are God, he is God, that is God, this is God.” So all this is going on.
In the lower stage they are grossly under the impression that I am this body, I am this mind or I am this intelligence, or I am God or so many other things. But the Bhagavatam explains the nature of the Supreme. The Supreme is that from which everything is emanating. And what is one of the characteristics of the Supreme? “He knows everything.” There are many so-called incarnations of God who do not even know what is going to happen the next moment. So this Srimad Bhagavatam gives the characteristics of the Supreme. It is the proper explanation of the Vedanta Sutra. The author himself, Vyasadeva, in the Fifth Chapter of the First Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, explains how this commentary on the Vedanta Sutra (Srimad Bhagavatam) originally came to be written. After compiling huge volumes of Vedic literature, including the Vedanta Sutra, Vyasadeva was not satisfied. He was still morose. So Narada Muni, his Spiritual Master, could understand that he was seeking something. “Why am I morose?” Vyasadeva asked him. “I have tried to give knowledge to the people as far as possible, as I have known it from reliable sources, but I am still not satisfied.” At that time, when Narada came to see him, Vyasadeva received him well, for it is the duty of the disciple to give a good reception to the Spiritual Master. And when he was seated nicely, he began to speak to Vyasadeva. “My dear son of Parasara, do you think that you’ll be satisfied by identifying yourself with this material body or with this mind? That is not possible. You have compiled so many books based on this concept of life. Some living entities are considering that they are the body, and others are considering that they are the mind, and yet others are considering that they are the intelligence. But the self is none of these, for he is above them. He is transcendental. Unless one comes to that position there is no question of satisfaction.”
So this was the first point Narada Muni made. Vyasadeva was very great, born of a great father and very learned and fortunate. Yet, all of his books were based on the concept of the body and the mind. Therefore he could not find happiness. After the Battle of Kurukshetra, Vyasadeva wrote the Mahabharata, the history of this planet, and in it he deals with the four interests of human beings—dharma, artha, kama, and moksha. In a human society, or at least in a peaceful human society, people must have religion (dharma) and some good economic development (artha), and they must have some nice arrangement for sense gratification (kama), and after they have failed to become satisfied with these, they next need liberation (moksha) from the material bondage. So these are the four basic needs of humanity. But Narada indicates here that these are not the highest. There is a final interest and ultimate need, and that is given in Srimad Bhagavatam. Becoming liberated is not final. Merging into the existence of the Absolute is not the ultimate. Therefore in the Srimad Bhagavatam we find from the very beginning that these four principles (dharma, artha, kama, and moksha) are cast aside. The great commentator, Sridhar Swami, says that one should not even aspire for liberation. That should be the position of the devotee. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said that he cared nothing for liberation. Life after life he only wanted Lord Krishna’s causeless devotional service.
Srimad Bhagavatam should be studied very carefully, scrutinizingly. There are eight commentaries which are authorized, and there are many ordinary commentaries which are not, but actually Srimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad Gita are within themselves illuminating, just like the sunlight. One does not need a lamp to see the sunlight, and similarly one does not need commentaries to understand these great works which are self-illuminated. Simply if you try to understand them word by word, you will attain enlightenment. Yet, there are acharyas who can help. Here we can see that Vyasadeva, the great sage, is enquiring from Narada, and that is the duty of the disciple. Just like Sukha Goswami says, one should be inquisitive and one should enquire from a Guru, a Spiritual Master, who can actually give right knowledge. The Spiritual Master is one who can answer all questions. And what should one enquire? Should one enquire about the rate of stocks just like a businessman? No. That is also explained in Srimad Bhagavatam—one should enquire about that which is beyond this darkness. Only when one is inquisitive to understand the spiritual worlds should he accept a Spiritual Master. Otherwise there is no need. A Spiritual Master is not a fashion or a fad. One should be very serious and make enquiry and then assimilate the answers. After hearing and assimilating, one should distribute the knowledge to the world. That is the order of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
So Narada tells Vyasadeva that he has written very well and that his knowledge is very wonderful. He gives him all credit for having enquired about Brahman, not about ordinary things. Brahman means that which is eternal, not temporary. So Vyasadeva has enquired, assimilated and delineated many wonderful things in the history of the Mahabharata, and he has set forth all information concerning the four principles of perfection. The Bhagavad Gita is also contained in that Mahabharata. Yet after setting down all of this, Vyasadeva was morose. Here, out of respect, Narada addresses Vyasadeva: “My dear prabhu, you have done such wonderful things, and you are so very learned. You have enquired about transcendental subject matter, and you have compiled so many fine books. Therefore why are you lamenting?”
This discussion between Narada and Vyasadeva is given in the First Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, and it is very interesting. In it Narada indicates that Vyasadeva is unhappy because he has not dealt with the transcendental pastimes of Lord Sri Krishna. But the Srimad Bhagavatam, which deals with these pastimes, is the completion of Vyasadeva’s work and is consequently the cream of Vedic knowledge. Vyasadeva felt incomplete before writing it. Therefore it is not possible to have complete Vedic knowledge without studying it. We shall further discuss this conversation between Narada and Vyasadeva at another lecture.