The nature of the self is to be joyful.
Why do our attempts to secure happiness often result in misery?
A lecture given in Mauritius in 1975
by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
matir na krsne paratah svato va
mitho ‘bhipadyeta grha-vratanam
adanta-gobhir visatam tamisram
punah punas carvita-carvananam
“Prahlada Maharaja said: Because of their uncontrolled senses, persons too addicted to materialistic life make progress toward hellish conditions and repeatedly chew that which has already been chewed. Their inclinations toward Krsna are never aroused, either by the instructions of others, by their own efforts, or by a combination of both.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam, 7.5.30)
We are trying to spread Krsna consciousness, but it is a very difficult task because people are so much addicted to material enjoyment. Generally, they do not like this Krsna consciousness movement, although reviving our Krsna consciousness is the ultimate goal of human life.
Krsna is God. This is the verdict of the Vedic literature: krsnas tu bhagavan svayam. After searching after God, making great research work to find out what God is, all the acaryas [spiritual masters] have concluded that Krsna is God. Unfortunately, at the present moment in this Kali-yuga [the Age of Quarrel], most people are not interested in God. Why? That is stated by Lord Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita [7.l5]:
na mam duskrtino mudhah
asuram bhavam asritah
The word duskrtinah here means “one who always engages in sinful activities.” Krti means “meritorious” or “very intelligent.” But duskrti means “utilizing one’s merit for sinful activities,” and those who do this are called duskrtinah. Such sinful people never surrender to Krsna. They could use their good intelligence for making their lives perfect, but instead of doing that they engage in sinful activities. Sinful activities are activities of sense gratification. When one becomes addicted to sense gratification, he must act sinfully.
The symptoms of this addiction are very prominent in this age. Everyone is working hard simply for sense gratification. And as soon as you accept a life of sense gratification, you are sure to commit sinful activities. For example, throughout the whole world there are so many distilleries manufacturing liquor. Especially in the Western countries you will find so many advertisements for liquor, whiskey, cigarettes . . . Not to speak of the thousands of slaughterhouses all over the world where innocent animals are unnecessarily killed.
People can live very nicely on food grains. In the Bhagavad-gita [3.14] Krsna says, annad bhavanti bhutani: “Simply by eating food grains, both men and animals can live very happily.” You can grow food grains very easily. I have seen in the Western countries how they grow food grains to feed the animals, and then the animals are eaten by man.
So, I see that on this island of Mauritius you have enough land to produce all your own food grains. But I understand that instead of growing food grains, you are growing sugar cane for export. Why? You are dependent on food grains—on rice, wheat, dal—so why make this attempt to accumulate money instead of growing sufficient food? First of all grow your own eatables. Then if there is time and if your population has sufficient food grains, you can try to grow other things for export.
The first necessity is that you should be self-sufficient. That is God’s arrangement. Not only in your country but everywhere there is abundant land for producing food grains. I have traveled all over the world—Africa, Australia, and America also—and I have seen much vacant land that if used to produce food grains could feed ten times as many people as at present.
There is no question of scarcity. The creation is so made by Krsna that everything is purnam, complete. In the Isopanisad it is said, purnam adah purnam idam purnat purnam udacyate: “The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and therefore His creation is also complete.” So, Krsna has made a complete arrangement for everyone to live peacefully and happily, but if you don’t produce food grains you will unnecessarily put men into scarcity, and that is sinful.
Every instruction in the Vedic scriptures is intended to teach us how to advance in Krsna consciousness and make our lives perfect. Unfortunately, we do not know what the perfect life is. Therefore Prahlada Maharaja says here, punah punas carvita-carvananam: “These fools and rascals who are after sense gratification are simply chewing the chewed.” So making our life perfect means stopping this business of chewing the chewed.
Now we have this human form of life, and by our pious activities we may be elevated to the higher planetary systems. But what shall we gain there? A higher standard of sense gratification, that’s all. For example, sex pleasure is there in the society of the cats and dogs, it is there in human society, and it is there in the heavenly planets. The arrangement may be a little different, but the pleasure of sex is the same whether you enjoy it as a dog, as a human being, or as a demigod. The pleasure of sex is not different; it is the same.
So in this material world we are changing our body (tatha dehantara-praptih) and enjoying varieties of sense gratification. That is described as punah punas carvita-carvananam: chewing the chewed. We have tasted sense gratification in our last life, and again we are trying for it in this life. When we are disgusted with this business, that is called vairagya-vidya, detachment and knowledge. And that knowledge and that renunciation, or detachment, can be achieved only by Krsna consciousness.
In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna clearly states, janma karma ca me divyam evam yo vetti tattvatah. If we simply understand Krsna in truth, then, tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so ‘rjuna: the result will be that after giving up this present body we will not have to accept another material body, but we will go to Krsna in the spiritual world.
To accept another material body means to again be forced to engage in chewing the chewed. Whether I get a human body, an animal body, or a demigod body, the business is the same: ahara-nidra-bhaya-maithunam ca—eating, sleeping, defense, and sex. Don’t think that the heavenly planets are very safe. We have information from the Srimad-Bhagavatam that Lord Indra is always being disturbed by so many demons, and fighting is going on.
So, our life is being spoiled by sense gratification, and it can be stopped only by Krsna consciousness. But, as Prahlada Maharaja says here, “Krsna consciousness cannot be achieved by the grha-vratanam.” Grha-vratanam means “those who are too much interested in family life, or a life of sense gratification.” For them it is very difficult to become Krsna conscious.
Prahlada is speaking with his father, Hiranyakasipu. Prahlada is a devotee and his father is a materialistic person interested in money and women. So Hiranyakasipu was challenging his son: “Where did you learn this Krsna consciousness?” Prahlada flatly replied, matir na krsne paratah svato va mitho ‘bhipadyeta grha-vratanam: “One who is addicted to the materialistic way of life cannot understand or be convinced about Krsna consciousness, either by hearing from others, by his own speculation, or by meeting in big, big conferences.” Also, in the Bhagavad-gita [2.44] Krsna says,
samadhau na vidhiyate
“Those who are too much attached to the materialistic way of life cannot become determined in Krsna consciousness.”
The materialistic way of life means sense gratification. What is the difference between spiritual life and material life? These boys from Europe and America have adopted the spiritual life, which means that they have stopped the process of sense gratification. Illicit sex, meat-eating, gambling, intoxication—this is the materialistic way of life. And those who practice spiritual life must give up these sinful practices.
If we stick to the materialistic way of life, it will be very, very difficult for us to understand Krsna consciousness. Why? Because, as Prahlada Maharaja says here, adanta-gobhih: “The materialist’s senses are uncontrolled.” This morning, while we were walking on the beach, we found so many things—Coca-cola bottles, cigarette butts, and so many other things. Now, what is the necessity of Coca-cola? You don’t find all these things in our Society. We don’t drink Coca-cola. We don’t drink Pepsi. We don’t smoke cigarettes. So many things are selling in the market in huge quantity because the advertisements are victimizing the poor customer. All these things are unnecessary. But because people cannot control their senses, the manufacturers of all these unnecessary things are making a big business.
So, if we really want spiritual life, if we really want to be free from the material clutches, we have to learn how to control the senses. That is the purpose of human life. Human life is not meant for imitating the life of cats and dogs and hogs.
This morning a press representative came to see us, to find out some information on this Krsna consciousness movement. Our first point was that we are spreading Krsna consciousness to bring people to the standard of human life from the standard of cat-and-dog life. Cat-and-dog life means adanta-gobhih, uncontrolled senses. One female dog will be surrounded by a dozen male dogs. Why? Adanta-gobhih: they cannot control their senses. On the street they are having sex.
Therefore, human life means to control the senses. That is human life. But if you remain like cats and dogs, without controlling the senses, then what is the difference between a dog and you? There is no difference. Actually, that idea is being accepted now. The modern so-called civilization says we should allow the senses to enjoy as far as possible. This is their advancement of civilization.
Once again, the perfect example is meat-eating. We can be very happy by eating grains, which we must produce in any case—either for ourselves or for the animals. Without producing food grains, you cannot even eat the meat, because the animals need food grains to live. So you have to produce food grains in any case. But because we have uncontrolled senses, we are eating the animals instead of the grains. We do not consider, “The animals I am killing for my subsistence are eating grains, and I can also eat grains. So why should I commit this sinful act of killing another living being?” Unfortunately, those who are too sinful never think like that.
By God’s law, you are not allowed to kill even an ant. For example, suppose there is a useless man; he is not doing anything. You cannot kill him. The state will take steps to punish you. You will be hanged. You cannot say, “This man was useless; he had no utility for society. Therefore I have killed him.” No. According to our man-made laws, you cannot do this.
But according to the God-made laws, if you kill ‘any living being you will be punished. This we do not know on account of our uncontrolled senses. We do not know that if we kill innocent animals we must go to the darkest region of hellish life (visatam tamisram). Actually, that is happening now—hellish life. The child in the womb of the mother is in a hellish condition, floating in stool and urine. But even there his life is not safe, because in the modern, so-called advanced civilization the mother is killing the child in the womb. This is going on.
We do not know the subtle laws of nature, the subtle laws of God, how things are happening, how things are going on. And without knowing these facts, our human life is being spoiled.
So, the Krsna consciousness movement is trying to educate people about the value of life and about the laws of God. We have not manufactured all this. It is received from the Vedas. The Vedas are books of knowledge (the word veda means “knowledge”). Jnana also means “knowledge.” So, this life is meant for acquiring knowledge and detachment (jnana-vairagya). Otherwise we will suffer. We are now being implicated in so many sinful activities, and we have to suffer for them in our next life. As souls, we are not going to die. As Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita, na hanyate hanyamane sarire: “The soul does not die when the body dies.”
The atheists think like that: “When the body is finished, everything is finished.” But that is not the fact. We are simply changing the dress, this body. But as souls, I am eternal, you are eternal. It is only because of our unbridled senses that we are entering different types of bodies. Suppose I am enjoying life as a human being very nicely. But if in my next life I become a dog in the street, how miserable my life will be! Or even if I become a very powerful animal—a tiger or a lion—it is still a miserable life. Simply misery!
Therefore, so long as we remain in the material world, changing bodies, life will be miserable. Every body is painful, miserable. As Lord Rsabhadeva says in the Srimad-Bhagavatam [5.5.4],
nunam pramattah kurute vikarma
yad indriya-pritaya aprnoti
na sadhu manye yata atmano ‘yam
asann api klesada asa dehah
People have become mad (pramattah) and are doing all kinds of sinful activities (vikarma). (Vikarma means “very sinful activities.”) And why are they doing so? Yad indriya-pritaya aprnoti: “Simply for sense gratification.” There is no higher aim, only sense gratification. Then Rsabhadeva says, na sadhu manye: “I do not think this is good.” Why? Because on account of their sinful activities they already have this painful, miserable conditioned life in a material body, and if they go on performing sinful activities they will again get such a body and continue suffering. This is jnana.
Every one of us is trying to be happy, without any suffering. That is the aim of life. We are all living beings, part and parcel of Krsna, and as such our nature is to be happy, pleased, joyful (anandamayo ‘bhyasat). But performing sinful activities for sense gratification is not the way to become happy and joyful. That is not the way. The way is different.
That way is Krsna consciousness. So everyone should be very serious about accepting the process of Krsna consciousness. And you should not only accept it personally but you should also teach it to others. You should propagate Krsna consciousness throughout your community, your country—throughout the whole human society. Everyone should have a chance to understand Krsna consciousness, make his life happy, and attain the stage of eternity, knowledge, and bliss.
So, this Krsna consciousness is a great science, but unfortunately it is not being taught in the schools, colleges, and universities. Therefore the people are in darkness. If we keep people in darkness and advertise that we are advancing, that is cheating. People should understand the value of life, the science of life—why living entities are taking so many different forms of life. For example, the trees standing in our compound cannot move an inch. Is that a very good life? If I am asked to stand still in one place for five minutes, it becomes troublesome. And the trees are standing for a hundred years. Just see the punishment!
So, where is the science that explains why these trees are standing in the courtyard in a miserable condition and I am sitting in this room very comfortably? Who is arranging for the different statuses of life? The scientists cannot explain these things, but everything is clearly explained in the Bhagavad-gita. If you take to Krsna consciousness and study the Bhagavad-gita and the Srimad-Bhagavatam, you will get full knowledge and your life will be sublime and successful. Thus every father, every state leader, every guardian, every spiritual master should educate his dependents in Krsna consciousness and thus give them a chance to be liberated from bondage and from the miserable conditions of material life.