Returning to the Abode of Real Pleasure


A lecture by
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

Delivered on September 30,1972, in Laguna Beach, California.

Radha and Krsna in the groves of Vrndavana
Radha and Krsna in the groves of Vrndavana

Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you very much for your coming here to participate in this Krsna consciousness movement. We are calling everyone to go back home, back to Godhead. The place where we intend to go is Goloka-vrndavana, the abode of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna. There Krsna is residing with His consort, Radharani. Krsna is the supreme paramour, and Radharani is His consort. Here in the material world a boy and girl try to enjoy conjugal love, but the ideal conjugal love is there, between Krsna and Radha. Here the same thing is present, but it is perverted. The original is there.

Jaya radha-madhava kunja-bihari. Radha and Krsna are always engaged in loving affairs in the kunja. the groves of Vrndavana. Krsna is gopi-jana-vallabha, very dear to the gopis and the gopas. The gopis are the cowherd girls, and the gopas are the cowherd men and the cowherd boys. So Vrndavana is a village; it is not a city like Los Angeles. It is a village, and Krsna is always taking pleasure there on the bank of the River Yamuna (yamuna-tira-vana-cari).

There are very nice gardens on the bank of the Yamuna, and whenever there is some danger . . . Of course, in the original Vrndavana there is no question of danger. It is a blissful, transcendental abode. But when Krsna comes down to this planet, He shows us a replica of the original Vrndavana. That Vrndavana on earth is in India, about ninety miles from New Delhi. It is exactly the same as the original Vrndavana, but because it is in this material world, there sometimes appears to be some danger there. So, when Krsna was present on this earth, there was sometimes danger in Vrndavana. (Actually there was no danger, because Krsna was present, but it appeared as if there were.)

Once there were torrents of rain for seven days. Indra, the demigod in charge of the water department of this universe, had become very angry. Krsna had stopped the cowherd men from worshiping Indra, so Indra became angry and poured torrents of rain on Vrndavana for seven days continuously. But Krsna immediately lifted up a hill called Govardhana on His little finger like an umbrella, and in this way He protected all the residents of Vrndavana. Therefore Krsna is also known as Giri-vara-dhari, the lifter of Govardhana Hill. Although Krsna usually played like an ordinary human child, when there was a need He manifested His godly power. When it was necessary to protect the inhabitants of Vrndavana, He lifted a big hill, although at that time He was only seven years old by material calculation.

But in the original Vrndavana there is no such thing as the wrath of Indra, or any danger of torrents of rain overflooding the land. There everything is blissful, transcendental, and eternal. Here in this material world we have only a little sample of that happiness, because whatever we have here is merely an imitation, a shadow, of the original. On the desert there sometimes appears to be a vast ocean of water when actually there is no water. Animals are often misled by such a mirage. They are thirsty, and they think that there is water in the desert, and they run after it. The animal runs, and the water also advances. In this way the animal becomes fatigued and dies.

This example illustrates our situation in this material world. We are hankering after water, after pleasure. We are thirsty, but we are being misled by the so-called water of a mirage. For example, when I was coming here, on both sides of the highway I could see the manifestations of materialistic civilization: electric power stations, huge oil pumps, big, big motorcars, lights, motels, hotels, and so many other things. People are thinking that these things will give them relief, that their thirst will be quenched, their hankering for water satisfied. But their efforts have failed. In your country, especially, so many young people, the flowers of your country, are frustrated. That’s a fact. You know it, I know it.

So this kind of mirage, this shadow of water, will not help us. But because there is a shadow of water, we can understand that there is real water somewhere. It is not that the shadow of water is all in all. There is water, but not in the desert. In the desert the shadow of water will not quench our thirst. We have to seek out that real water elsewhere, not in the desert.

This is the information the Krsna consciousness movement is giving: where to find the real “water,” the real pleasure. You do not know where real pleasure is to be found, how your great thirst can be satisfied. That you do not know.

na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum
durasaya ye bahir-artha-maninah
andha yathandhair upaniyamanas
te ‘pisa-tantryam uru-damni baddhah

People do not know the ultimate goal of life, their real self-interest. Everyone must he self-interested, but no one knows what his real self-interest is. There is no education about the ultimate goal of life (na te viduh). People are trying to satisfy them-selves, to become happy and prosperous, by adjusting the material nature. This is bahir-artha-maninah. Bahir-artha-maninah means “giving great importance to the materialistic way of life.”

God has many energies, both spiritual and material. Parasya saktir vividhaiva sruyate. From the Vedas we understand that the Supreme Lord has many energies. And whatever we see is the activity of His energies. For example, take electric energy. The electricity comes from the powerhouse, and by utilizing that electric energy we can work in so many ways. We can operate a heater, a cooler, this microphone, a tape recorder-so many things. But all of these things work because the energy is coming from that powerhouse. Similarly, whatever wonderful things you are seeing in this world are simply the interactions of various energies of the Lord.

Another example is that of heat and light. Every scientist understands that this whole cosmic manifestation depends upon heat and light. These two energies are coming from the sun, and the material world is a creation of the sunshine’s heat and light.

Similarly, there are two energies of God. One is called the material energy; the other is called the spiritual energy. Both of them come from the Supreme Spirit, exactly as heat and light come from the sun. But just as heat is not light, the spiritual energy is not the material energy. There is a distinction. This is called inconceivable simultaneous oneness and difference, acintya-bhedabheda-tattva. This is our philosophy. While it is true that nothing is different from God, it is not true that everything is God. Simultaneous oneness and difference.

So, two energies are working, the material and the spiritual. The spiritual energy is superior, and the material energy is inferior. The material energy is composed of earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and ego. And the spiritual energy is the spiritual force, the living force. Every one of us is a combination of these two energies, the spiritual energy and the material energy. You can understand it. As soon as the spiritual energy is away from one’s body, which is a combination of material energy, the body becomes simply a lump of matter and can no longer move. This is stated in the Bhagavad-gita: yayedam dharyate jagat. The whole world is moving by the combination of the material and the spiritual energies, and both of them come from one source, exactly as heat and light both come from the sun.

So although this material world is not different from God, it is not God. We have to transfer ourselves from this, material energy to the spiritual energy. That is the goal of human life. The human life is a higher or better form of life, whereas the animals, the trees, the aquatics, the insects, the reptiles are lower forms. There are 8,400,000 forms of life, and out of them this human form of life-especially the civilized human life-is an elevated life of developed consciousness. The consciousness of a human being is more developed than the consciousness of an aquatic or a tree or a plant or a cat or a dog. Why has this developed consciousness been given by God? To understand Him. This is the only purpose.

Now this developed human consciousness is being misused in the matter of animal life. The aim of modern scientific advancement and philosophical speculation is to find out how we can enjoy our senses better. But after all, no matter how much you improve materialistic life, it is still a life of sense gratification. There is no question of superior or inferior sense gratification. Whether one drinks water from a golden tumbler or an earthen tumbler, the taste of the water is the same.

Simply because you put the water in a golden pot, that does not mean the taste of the water will improve. No, the taste will remain the same. Similarly, the taste of eating, sleeping, sex, and defense is the same, whether in the dog’s life or in the human’s life.

In materialistic life, we are merely trying to taste the same water in different pots. Sometimes we’re in the pot called the body of a dog, sometimes in the pot called the body of a hog, and sometimes in the pot called the body of a human being. But developed human consciousness is meant for something else, not for tasting these things—eating, sleeping, sex, and defense—which are common in every species of life. That developed consciousness is meant for understanding God. Yet in the modern civilization that developed consciousness is being utilized for changing the “pot.” Suppose I have come here to Laguna Beach in my nice motorcar. So, it is only a pot, that’s all. I could come here in some other kind of vehicle, or by walking. There would be no real difference—it would have taken a little more time, that’s all. But we are thinking, “Because we have this motorcar instead of a bullock cart, we are advanced in civilization.” That is a mistake. Whether you travel on a bullock cart or in a motorcar, your purpose is to transport yourself from one place to another. A nice motorcar may save some time, and you may feel some extra pleasure . . . But actually there is no pleasure. Rather, the bullock cart is more comfortable, because in these motorcars you are always thinking that there may be an accident at any moment. Yes, you are always afraid. And accidents are happening. Recently one of our devotees died in a car accident. Many people are dying.

So, material advancement means that you create a little convenience and side by side you create so many inconveniences. That is inevitable. You have created motorcars, but side by side you have created death by motorcar accidents. What are the statistics in your country? How many people are dying in accidents? [Someone says fifty thousand a year.]

In this way you cannot be happy, because the more you advance in materialistic civilization, the more you become implicated. The real purpose of life is to go back home, back to Godhead. We are missing the point. There is no guarantee that we will have a human body in our next life. By nature’s way, by the evolutionary process, we have been given this chance of the human form. After transmigrating through 8,400,000 species of life, we have gotten this human form of life, with developed consciousness. We should use this developed consciousness to understand God, not to progress from the comforts of the bullock cart to those of the motorcar. No, human consciousness is not for this purpose. The so-called scientists are thinking that we have advanced in civilization from the primitive age because we have advanced from the bullock cart to the motorcar. But that is not actual advancement. We are missing the point: this human form of life is meant for realizing God, for realizing the self.

We are misusing that higher intelligence and consciousness for manufacturing motorcars, and we are very proud of our advancement. The Srimad-Bhagavatam describes this mentality in the verse cited before: na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum
durasaya ye bahir-artha-maninah.
Foolish rascals do not know what the aim of life is. They are captivated by the external energy of God. Andha yathandhair upaniyamanas te ‘pisa-tantryam uru-damni baddhah. They are led by blind leaders. These materialistic leaders-the politicians, the scientists, the philosophers, the technologists, and so on-are all blind, and they are leading other blind people. So what will be the result? The result will be catastrophe.

If one man has eyes, he can lead thousands of blind men: “Please come. I shall help you cross the road.” But if the leader is blind and the followers are blind, then they will all fall into the ditch. And that is happening. The leaders and the people are all thinking that by bodily comfort, by sense gratification, they will be happy. But that is not possible.

People do not have any actual knowledge. In the Bhagavad-gita 12.13] it is said,

dehino ‘smin yatha dehe
kaumaram yauvanam jara
tatha dehantara-praptir
dhiras tatra na muhyati

“As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” You, me, and every one of us is encaged within a body. I am a spirit soul, and you are a spirit soul. The Vedic injunction is aham brahmasmi. “I am Brahman, spirit.” Brahman is not Parabrahman, the Supreme Brahman. Don’t make a mistake. Parabrahman is God. We are Brahman, part and parcel of God. We are fragments of the Supreme; we are not the Supreme Himself. The Supreme is different. For example, you are all Americans, but the supreme American is your president, Mr. Nixon. You cannot say that because you are an American, you are therefore Mr. Nixon. That you cannot say. Similarly you, I, and every one of us are Brahman, but that does not mean we are Parabrahman. Parabrahman is Krsna.

Isvarah paramah krsnah. Isvarah means “controller.” Every one of us is a controller to some extent. Somebody is controlling his family, somebody is controlling his office, somebody is controlling his business, somebody is controlling his disciples. And somebody is controlling his dog. If one hasn’t anything else to control, one keeps a pet dog or a pet cat to control. Everyone wants to be a controller. That’s a fact. But the supreme controller is Krsna. Here in this material world the so-called controller is controlled by somebody else. I may control my disciples, but I am controlled by somebody else, my spiritual master. Therefore, nobody in this material world can say, “I am the supreme, absolute controller.” No. But when you find a controller who is not controlled by anyone else, that is God, that is Krsna.

So, this Krsna consciousness movement is scientific, authorized, and understandable by reasonable men. If you kindly take interest in this movement, you will be benefited. Your life will be successful; the aim of your life will be achieved. That is a fact. Try to read our literature; we have many books. You can come and see how our students are advancing in Krsna consciousness. You can try to learn from them by association. If one wants to become a mechanic, he enters a factory and associates with the mechanics, and gradually he also becomes a mechanic. Similarly, we are opening these centers just to give everyone an opportunity to learn how to go home, back to Godhead. That is our mission.

This movement is scientific and authorized because we are receiving knowledge directly from Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in the form of Bhagavad-gita, and we are presenting Bhagavad-gita as it is, without nonsensical comments. Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita that He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. We are saying the same thing, that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita; “Become My devotee. Always think of Me. Worship Me. Offer your obeisances unto Me.” We are teaching all people to think of Krsna always by chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. By chanting this Hare Krsna mantra, you will always think of Krsna.

So our methods are very simple. We don’t manufacture any new method. Why create a new method? The old method is perfect, authorized, and accepted by great acaryas [exemplary spiritual teachers]. And people are actually benefiting from Krsna consciousness. So why should we manufacture something new? Anything we manufacture must be imperfect, because we are imperfect. We should simply take up the perfect method; then we shall become perfect. That is our process.

The teachings of Krsna, the Supreme Perfect, are there in the Bhagavad-gita and we are preaching the same philosophy throughout the world. Many people are accepting these teachings, and I wish that all of you present here will kindly accept this philosophy, return to the abode of Krsna, and in this way make your life successful. Thank you very much.

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