by Hamsaduta dasa Adhikari
(World Sankirtana Party)
Srila Prabhupada asked the reporters, “What is the ultimate goal of life?”
On December 16, 1970, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada arrived in Surat at 6:00 A.M., accompanied by twenty-five of his American, European and Japanese disciples. They observed fasting until noon to celebrate the Disappearance Day of His Divine Grace’s spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami. Vaisnavas, or devotees of Krsna, take every opportunity to glorify the Lord’s representatives, the blessed spiritual masters, who can implant love of God in everyone’s heart. In the spiritual world there is no difference between appearance and disappearance because spirit soul is transcendental to birth and death. The spiritual master is considered to be descending from the spiritual world, and therefore like Krsna’s, his appearance and disappearance are transcendental and glorious. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita(8.6): “One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and disappearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My abode.” In this way the Vaisnavas actually fulfill the ultimate goal of human life, to return home, back to Godhead, which was explained by Srila Prabhupada later in the day to a crowd of reporters at a press conference arranged by Mr. Jariwala, our host in Surat.
Instead of the reporters’ asking questions, Srila Prabhupada immediately captured the attention of all parties by asking, “What is the ultimate goal of life?” Everyone had something to say on this point, but no one could respond conclusively. Srila Prabhupada explained, “The members of society should engage their lives, money, intelligence and words in sriya. So what is sriya? Sriya means the ultimate goal of life. What is the ultimate goal of life that no one knows? In the Bhagavad-gita it is said by Krsna that the ultimate goal of life is to surrender to Him only. ‘Give up all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me, and in return I shall protect you from all sinful reactions. Therefore you have nothing to fear.’ ” Srila Prabhupada continued, “For that purpose we have formed this International Society for Krishna Consciousness—to enlighten the people in general about the ultimate goal of life. This movement is being accepted in the Western world and in India, yet nowadays Indians are erroneously thinking that the goal of life is something else.
“Vedanta answers what is the Absolute Truth and what is the nature of the greatest, of Brahman. His nature is that He is the cause of everything, the cause of all causes. In the Brahma-samhita we find: isvarah paramah krsnah sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah, and with that understanding we have published our booklet, The Cause of All Causes. Krsna imparted the Vedic knowledge unto the heart of Brahmaji, the first created living being in this material world. Brahma is the chief engineer of the material universe, and for his work of creating different planets and living entities he is specifically empowered by the Lord. Brahma admits that although he is so advanced in knowledge, still it should be understood that he is not independent. His position is stated in the hymns of Brahma-samhita, where he sings: ‘Cintamani-prakara-sadmasu kalpa-vrksa-laksavrtesu … govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami.’ He says, ‘I worship Govinda, the cowherd boy, who is in His own abode in the spiritual world, which is made of cintamani, or touchstone, and is known as Goloka Vrndavana, the supermost planet in the spiritual sky. There the Supreme Lord, the Absolute Truth, is playing on His flute and wears a peacock feather in His hair.’ This transcendental Vedic knowledge was received by Brahmaji from the Lord, and thus Brahma is the first disciple in the Guru-Parampara, or authorized disciplic succession for distribution of Vedic knowledge. This line is known as Brahma-Gaudiya-Vaisnava Sampradaya. Brahma is the original initiator, Gaudiya designates Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s birthplace, the province of Gauda, and Vaisnava means one who worships Krsna or Visnu.”
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada asked the reporters to ventilate the message of Krsna consciousness in their newspapers, thus engaging the newspapers in the service of Krsna. This is the qualification of the acarya; he adjusts the transcendental message so that anything in any particular time and place can be transformed to spiritual energy by being utilizing in the service of the Supreme Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead Sri Krsna. Thus the ultimate goal of life can be realized by the mercy of a pure devotee or fully realized soul, such as His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Srila Prabhupada replied, ‘I am showing that Krsna is for everyone’
Srila Prabhupada continued the press conference by explaining the process of attaining this ultimate goal of life. He said, “A person should engage his life, wealth, intelligence and words in the service of this sublime sankirtana movement, which is authorized by revealed scripture and initiated by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who is Krsna Himself.” He explained that, if nothing else, they all can engage their words for Krsna: “If Krsna says, ‘Surrender unto Me,’ and I say surrender unto Krsna, then I am a spiritual master. In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna says, ‘Whoever explains this supreme secret to the devotees, I consider to be most dear to Me, and never will there be anyone more dear to Me in this world than he.’ So if you newspapermen serve the purpose of Krsna, you become devotees immediately. But if you say that it is not to Krsna that we have to surrender, then it is nonsense. We can continue our present occupations with the addition of doing our work for Krsna. This will be our great success.”
In this way Srila Prabhupada explained that anyone in any position or occupation can advance in spiritual life and go back home, back to Godhead, realizing the ultimate goal of life.
Krsna is the absolute whole, and in Bhagavad-gita Krsna claims all living entities as His eternal parts and parcels. If a screw is in its rightful place on the machine, then it has value; but the same screw, separated from the machine, no longer has value. So society at the present moment has no value. Its purpose is not Krsna; therefore we are all suffering. Just as a flower attached to the tree remains beautiful and fragrant, but detach the flower from the tree and immediately it dries up. Modern society, detached from the tree of Krsna, is like a dried flower. This movement started by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu is meant to revive the lost consciousness of one’s eternal relationship with Krsna and thus enable one to realize the real fruit of human life—love of God.
“The inner urge is happiness,” replied Prabhupada to a question put by one of the reporters. “But we do not know how to attain that happiness. If you understand that Krsna is the only enjoyer, then your inner urge for happiness can be satisfied. We want to love, but we do not know whom to love. We learn that from the inhabitants of Vrndavana; their only business was to love Krsna. The students of this Krsna consciousness movement are Japanese, German, American, French, but in Krsna consciousness they have become one. That oneness can be attained when one agrees to serve Krsna. Krsna says, ‘Give up all other engagements and just surrender unto Me; that is the ultimate goal of life. After many, many births the wise man surrenders unto Me, Vasudeva [Krsna], knowing Me to be everything.’ So why wait? Immediately surrender unto Krsna and achieve the ultimate goal of life.
“These boys and girls are not satisfied with material life. For example, you can not take a fish out of water and satisfy it by laying it down on a velvet cloth. Similarly the living entity cannot be satisfied in the material atmosphere. He is meant to enjoy eternal life in an atmosphere of pure devotional service to the Lord. This is his eternal position.”
Some of the reporters asked about Christianity. One of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples answered, “Christ taught to love God. So we are learning to love God. Do not look for awkward formalities; just try and see the result. These boys and girls are loving God. The effectiveness of any religion one practices is proved by the result: love of God.” Srila Prabhupada explained that if by one’s religious practice one develops love for God, then it is perfect religion, otherwise it is useless labor.
“Japanese, German, American, French, English. Do you think they are interested in being Hindus? No! They understand Krsna is the Supreme Lord, the father of everyone, and they have surrendered everything for His service”
The Indian reporter asked why Americans and Europeans are becoming Hindus. Srila Prabhupada said, “Krsna is not Hindu—you won’t find the word Hindu anywhere in Vedic literature. This Hindu is another material designation. Krsna is for everyone—if He’s God then He’s for everyone.” Once at another meeting in Indore, when Srila Prabhupada was asked what is his special contribution as acarya of such a great movement, Srila Prabhupada replied, “I am showing that Krsna is for everyone.” Although it is common sense that God cannot be nationalized or designated in any material way, the conditioned souls cannot understand God, despite His personal appearance from time to time. Therefore in Bhagavad-gita Krsna gives a warning to such foolish men. He says, “The foolish mock at My descending like a human being. They think that I have assumed this form and personality; they do not know My transcendental nature and My supreme dominion over all that be.” Although Krsna appears Himself and speaks instructions to human society in the shape of Bhagavad-gita, He also distributes Himself as the Paramatma or Supersoul sitting in the heart of every living creature. Furthermore, He sends His bona fide representative in the form of the spiritual master just to guide the conditioned souls back to their original consciousness. Srila Prabhupada is delivering Krsna to the entire world, whereas formerly it was misconceived that Krsna is only for the Hindus. “Just see these boys and girls—Japanese, German, American, French and English. Do you think they are interested in being Hindus? No! They understand that Krsna is the Supreme Lord, the father of everyone, and they have surrendered everything for His service. Therefore they are realizing the ultimate goal of life—love of God,” added Srila Prabhupada.
At Indore His Divine Grace delivered a lecture to the members of the Lions Club. At one point he bluntly told the audience, “In three years I accomplished one hundred times more than all the svamis and yogis who have come to the West in the past century.” This is a fact. Since Srila Prabhupada has come to the west in 1965, he has published over fifteen books, including Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Teachings of Lord Caitanya and Nectar of Devotion.
His most recent gift to the world is Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, in two volumes, profusely illustrated by his disciples, showing the transcendental pastimes of the Supreme Lord Krsna and His transcendental brother Balarama. His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada has opened more than forty-five branches of ISKCON in countries like Japan, Germany, Australia, Fiji, Canada, the United States and South America. He has created thousands of Krsna devotees just by teaching them the message that Caitanya Mahaprabhu delivered 500 years back: “Simply chant Hare Krsna, and your life will be sublime.” His Divine Grace was asked why he went abroad to preach Caitanya’s message of Nama-sankirtana, chanting of the holy name: Hare Krsna, Hare Rama. He immediately replied, “Because you accept everything foreign. If it is made in England you think, ‘Oh! It is very good.’ I thought that since everyone is following the Americans, if I can convince some American boys and girls about the importance of this movement then the whole world will follow and you will take it. And it is working. This is why you have come to see me—because I have brought so many foreign-made disciples.” Everyone laughed, but it is a fact. Hundreds and thousands of people flock to see His Divine Grace and his disciples wherever they go. Srila Prabhupada calls his devotees “Krsnites,” and he is personally leading his party of foreign devotees all over the world just to show how this process of chanting the holy names and dancing is universally practical.
Sankirtana in Dalhousie Square, downtown Calcutta, Indians are curious at the American devotees’ fervor.
Without rendering service to the supreme truth, the Personality of Godhead, Krsna, it is not possible to have a taste of that sweet transcendental nectar our souls are seeking. The example is given of a hand that does not serve the stomach. The hand cannot succeed by artificially attempting to eat independently, just as a tree will not be nourished if water is poured only on the leaves and branches.
The process is for the hand to give food to the stomach and for the tree to be watered at the root. By this process the natural energy is automatically distributed to all the parts of the whole. Similarly the living entity is eternally part and parcel of Krsna, the supreme whole. A society devoid of devotional service to the Lord is not society at all. Rather, it is animal life. Human life is not meant to be spoiled by indulging only in the animal propensities of eating, sleeping, mating and defending. Human life requires giving our energy to the root cause of all existence, Krsna, and one can thereby realize the real goal of human life—love of God.
Thus one gets free from the miserable conditions of birth, old age, disease, and death. Krsna says, “Always think of Me, give your love to Me, bow down to Me, worship Me, and surely you will come to Me.” Here is the real program for the human society—to go back home, back to Godhead. With the purpose of taking everyone back home, His Divine Grace, by his causeless mercy, placed the following advertisement in the local Indore newspaper: “Wanted: Qualified brahmanas to preach Bhagavad-gita all over the world. Educated candidates accepted without discrimination of caste, color or creed. Apply ISKCON.”