An explanation of the mystic techniques offered by the great
Teachers of Vedic wisdom—and their value to contemporary man.
Yoga means the connecting link between the soul and the Supersoul, or the Supreme and the minute living creatures. Lord Sri Krishna is that Supreme, the Personality of Godhead. Being, therefore, the ultimate object of Yoga, Krishna’s Name is “Yoga Iswara,” the Master of Yoga.
At the conclusion of The Bhagavad Gita it is said: “Where there is Krishna and where there is Arjuna, the greatest of bowmen, there, undoubtedly, is victory.”
The Bhagavad Gita is a narrative spoken by Samjaya, the secretary of Maharaj Dhritarashtra. This is just like airwaves from the radio: the play is going on in the auditorium, but you can hear from your room. So, just as we now have such a mechanical arrangement, at that time there were also certain arrangements, although there was no machine. Anyway, the secretary of Dhritarashtra could see what was going on at the battlefield, and he was in the palace telling this to Maharaj Dhritarashtra, who was blind. Now, the ultimate conclusion made by Samjaya was that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
When the Yoga performance is described, it is said that Krishna’s Name is Yoga Iswara. No one can be a better yogi than the Master of Yoga, and Krishna is the Master. There are many different types of Yoga. Yoga means the system, and yogi means the person who practices that system. The object of Yoga, the ultimate goal, is to understand Krishna. Therefore, Krishna Consciousness means to practice the topmost type of Yoga.
This topmost Yoga system was described by Krishna in The Gita to His most intimate friend, Arjuna. In the beginning, the Lord said that this system can be practiced only by a person who has developed attachment for it. This Krishna conscious Yoga system cannot be practiced by an ordinary man who has no attachment for Krishna, for it is a different system, and the topmost—Bhakti Yoga.
There are five types of direct attachment to God, and there are seven types of indirect attachment. Indirect attachment is not Bhakti. Direct attachment is called Bhakti. If you are attached to Krishna by the direct method, it is called devotional service, and if you are attached to Krishna by an indirect method, it is not devotional service. But that is also attachment. King Kansa, for example, was the maternal uncle of Krishna; and there was a warning that Kansa would be killed by one of his sisters’ sons. So he became very anxious about the sons of his sisters, and he decided to kill his sisters. Devaki, Krishna’s mother, was saved by her husband, Vasudeva, by a compromise. The Lord’s compromise was that He had Vasudeva propose to the brother-in-law: “You are afraid of the son of your sister. So your sister herself is not going to kill you.” He requested, “Don’t kill your sister. Save her, and I promise that all the sons born of her will be brought to you, and if you like you can kill.”
Vasudeva did this in order that his poor wife might be saved. And Vasudeva thought, “When Devaki’s son is born, Kansa may have a change of heart.” But Kansa was such a great demon that he killed all the sons of Devaki. It was told that the eighth son of the sister would kill him. So, when Krishna was in the womb of His mother, Kansa was always thinking of Krishna. You may say that he was not Krishna conscious, but actually he was. Not directIy, not for love’s sake, but as an enemy. So, that is not devotional service. One in devotional service is Krishna conscious as Krishna’s friend, Krishna’s servant, or Krishna’s lover.
You may want Krishna as your lover, you may want Krishna as your Son, you may want Krishna as your Friend, you may want Krishna as your Master, you may want Krishna as the Supreme Sublime. These five different kinds of direct relationship with Krishna are called devotion, or Bhakti. They entail no material profit.
The concept of accepting God as a Son is superior to the concept of accepting God as a Father. There is a distinction. The relationship between father and son is that the son wants to take something from the father. The father’s relationship with the son is that the father always wants to give something to the son. Therefore, the relationship with God or Krishna as Son is better then the relationship with Krishna by one who thinks, “If I accept God as my Father, then my business will be to ask for my necessities from the Father.” But, if I become the father of Krishna, then from the beginning of His Childhood, my business will be to serve Him. The father is the parent of the child from the very beginning of his birth: therefore the concept of Vasudeva and Devaki is so sublime.
Krishna’s foster mother Yasoda is thinking, ‘If I do not feed Krishna sumptuously, He will die.” She forgets that Krishna is the Supreme Lord, that He is sustaining the three worlds. She forgets that only one Lord is supplying the necessities of all the living entities. This same Personality of Godhead has become the Son of Yasoda, and she is thinking, “If I do not feed Him nicely, He will die.” This is love. She has forgotten that it is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Who has appeared before her as a little Child.
This relationship of attachment is very sublime. It requires time to understand, but there is a position where, instead of asking, “Oh God, please give us our daily bread,” you can instead think that God will die if you do not supply bread to Him. This is the ecstasy of extreme love. There is such a relationship between Krishna and His devotee Radharani, the greatest devotee, the greatest lover of Krishna. Mother Yasoda is His lover as a parent; Sudama is His lover as a friend; Arjuna also as a friend—there are millions and billions of different kinds of direct devotees of Krishna.
So the various Yoga systems lead to Bhakti Yoga, and Bhakti Yoga can be practiced by persons who have developed attachment to Krishna. Others cannot practice it. And, if anyone is able to develop that attachment, the relationship will be that he will understand God, Krishna, perfectly. However we may try to understand God by our different theories or speculations, it is still a difficult job. We may say that we have understood God, but it is not possible to understand Him as He is, because we have limited senses, and He is unlimited.
It is said in the Srimad Bhagwatam that our senses are imperfect, all of them. We cannot understand even the material world perfectly. You have seen so many planets and stars in the sky at night, but you do not know what they are. You do not even know what the moon planet is, though men have been trying for so many years to go there in sputniks. Even this one planet, Earth! We do not know what varieties there are even on this planet! If you go to the sea, to the sky, your perception is limited. Our knowledge is, therefore, always imperfect. On that we must agree. If we foolishly think that we have acquired all forms of knowledge, and we have advanced in science, this is another foolishness. It is not possible.
And, when it is not possible to understand even the material things which we daily see with our eyes, what can we say of the spiritual world and Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead? He is the Supreme Spiritual Form, and it is not possible to understand Him by our limited senses. Then why are we bothering so much for Krishna Consciousness, if it is not possible? If these imperfect senses cannot realize Krishna as He is? The answer is that, if you become submissive, if you develop the spiritual attitude of following Krishna, and you are as a servant or a friend, as a parent or as a lover—if you begin to give service to the Supreme Lord—then you can begin to know Him.
Your service begins with the tongue. How? By the tongue you can chant Hare Krishna, and by the tongue you can taste Krishna “Prasadam,” spiritual food. So, the beginning of the process is very nice. You chant Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—and whenever Prasadam is offered to you by Krishna, by His kindness, you accept it. The result will be that—if you become submissive, and if you begin this service, chanting and eating Prasadam—Krishna will reveal Himself before you.
You can’t understand Krishna by speculation; that is not possible, because your senses are imperfect. But if you begin this process of service, then it will be possible—one day Krishna will reveal to you: “I am like this,” just as Krishna is revealing to Arjuna. Arjuna is a devotee, and he is submissive, and he is in contact with Krishna as a friend. Therefore Krishna is revealing to him.
The Bhagavad Gita was spoken to Arjuna—not to any Vedantist philosophical speculator. In the beginning of the Fourth Chapter, you will note that Krishna says, “I am speaking to you that ancient system of Yoga.” It is atated, “Unto you.” Arjuna was a Kshatriya, a fighter. He was a householder, not even a Sannyasi, not a renouncer—but these are no qualifications to understand Krishna. Then what is the qualification? This: “One who has developed the service spirit, with love and devotion, can understand Me.” No other. Not Dr. Radhakrishnan or similar great learned persons; but a child can understand Krishna, if he has full faith in Him. So faith and devotion qualify one.
Simply by such faith and service you will understand that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Just as the writer is preaching Krishna Consciousness: he is not wasting your time or his own, because he is in full faith that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Theoretically or practically, you should accept Krishna, that He is the Supreme Person. Theoretically, there is the revealed scripture. You will understand from the Vedic literature, from the great devotees in the past and in the present.
For the present, there is Lord Chaitanya. Lord Chaitanya is the great authority. None is greater. He was mad after Krishna. And then, after Him, His six disciples, the Goswamis, have left us an immensely valuable literature—especially Jiva Goswami. They have written volumes on Krishna. So, under disciplic succession, we have come to this point; and if you like past history, then go back a long, long time to Vyasadeva. He is known to have written the Srimad Bhagwatam and other literature on Krishna. Srimad Bhagwatam is nothing but a description of Krishna. Vyasa is also the writer of The Bhagavad Gita. The Gita was spoken by Krishna, and noted down by Vyasa who put this Gita into the Mahabharata, his chronicle of events in the previous age of world history.
So Vyasadeva accepts Krishna as the Supreme Person. In the Srimad Bhagwatam he has given the description of the different incarnations—there are twenty-five of Them. And, in the conclusion, he says that the descriptions that are given of different incarnations are all parts of the representations of God. But Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. He is not part, but 100%—100% God. So, there is the evidence of authority.
And, practically, if we believe the “Shastras,” the scriptures, then we can see: Who can be more powerful than Krishna? Who can be more beautiful than Krishna? Who can be more famous than Krishna? Krishna appeared five thousand years ago, but His knowledge, which He gave in the form of The Bhagavad Gita, is still worshiped. It is worshiped not only by the Hindus or the Indians, but is read all over the world. In your country there are at least 50 different editions of The Bhagavad Gita, written by different men. Similarly, in England, in Germany, in France and in all other countries, you will find hundreds of editions of The Gita. So, who can be more famous?
There are many other evidences, if you believe in Shastra: that Krishna married 16,108 wives, and He provided each one of them with a big palace, and each one of them had 10 children, and from the 10 children there were many other children born. So we have the evidence of revealed scriptures; and in the Brahma Samhita also, Krishna is accepted as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is a very old book, supposed to have been written by Brahma, the first living being in the universe.
In that Brahma Samhita it is said, “Iswara Parama Krishna.” Iswara means God. There are many gods. It is said that there are many demigods, and there is the Supreme God. So Brahma Samhita says “Iswara Parama Krishna”—He is the God of gods. “Iswara Parama Krishna,” and then: “Sat-Chit-Ananda Vigraha”—and His body is eternal, and full of bliss and knowledge. And next: “Anadi”: He has no beginning, but He is the beginning of everyone. “Anadi gadi Govinda.” Go means senses, Go means cow, and Go means land. So He is the Proprietor of all land, He is the Proprietor of all cows, and He is the Creator of all senses.
We are after sense pleasure, but our perfection of sense pleasure can be achieved only when we reciprocate our pleasure with Krishna. Therefore, His Name is Govinda, the Supreme Original Personality of Godhead.
The same Personality of Godhead spoke to Arjuna in The Gita. Personally, about Himself. How can you say that somebody, by his thinking, by speculation, can say something about God that is more important than what is being said by Krishna Himself? It is not possible. No one can speak better than Krishna about God, because God Himself is speaking. If you speak about yourself personally, who can say more than you? So, if you have faith, if you believe theoretically or practically in Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then, by the speeches that are delivered by Krishna in The Bhagavad Gita, you can understand God. There is no difficulty.
And, if you believe Krishna, then the result will be that you can understand God—how He is working, how His energies are acting, how He is manifesting, what is this material world, what is the spiritual world, what are the living creatures, what is their relationship—so many things are to be found in God’s literature.
The whole Vedic literature deals with three things: the first is your relationship with God; then, next, after you understand your relationship with God, how to act in the spiritual way. Just as a man or woman may not be related, but as soon as the relationship is established that one is husband and the other is wife, then the dealings begin.
Once they understand their relationship with God, people generally believe that God is the Father, and the son’s business is to ask father for whatever he needs. But that is really a lesser relationship. If you understand God perfectly, then there are intimate relationships also. Your intimate relationship will be revealed when you are perfectly liberated. Each and every living creature has a particular relationship with God, but we have, for now, forgotten. When that relationship is revealed in the process of devotional activities, or Krishna Consciousness, you will know that that is the perfection of your life. Krishna Consciousness is a great science, it is not a sentimental speculation regarding love. It is based on scientific propositions described in The Bhagavad Gita, in the Vedas and in the Brahma Samhita; and it is accepted by authorities like Lord Chaitanya, Ramanuja Acharya, Madhya Acharya, Narada, Asita, Vyasa—there are so many authorities. Krishna Consciousness is not an ordinary love-making or money-making business; it is reality, and if you stick to it seriously, your life will be perfect.
The Goal of Transcendental Meditation
In The Bhagavad Gita, the Sanskrit word “Mam” is frequently used. This word means “unto me.” Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead says, “unto Me”—Krishna. We cannot interpret this in a different way. When I say, “Bring me a glass of water,” it means that I am the person in want of the glass of water, and if you supply to me and not to others, then it is right. When Krishna says, “unto Me,” that means Krishna. But philosophers are still interpreting—they say “unto something else.” Even grammatically this is wrong.
One who has developed attachment to Krishna is Krishna conscious. They say if you have attachment for your lover you always think of her. That is lover consciousness. It is natural. It is stated that a woman who has another lover besides her husband shows herself very attentive to her household duties, but is always thinking, “When shall my lover and I meet in the night?” This is an example: It is possible, in spite of our false engagement, if we love somebody, to think of him always. If materially it is possible, why not spiritually? That is the whole teaching of The Bhagavad Gita.
In The Gita Krishna says to Arjuna, “As a fighter you have to fight. You cannot step away from the fighting. It is your duty.” Nowadays I have practical experience that the draft board of your country is calling for boys to join the army, but they are not willing. They are not willing because they are not trained as “Kshatriyas,” warriors. They are trained as “Sudras” laborers, or else as “Vaishyas,” businessmen. Therefore, the caste system is very scientific. A section of people should be trained as “Brahmins,” men of knowledge. Those who are intelligent enough in the society should be picked and trained in higher philosophical science. And those who are less intelligent than the Brahmins should be given military training. We require everything in society—not only military men. How can everyone be a military man? Because they are sending Sudras, ordinary workers, to Vietnam, these are unnecessarily being killed. Any country which is very proud of scientific advancement, and yet does not know how to organize its society, is a fool’s society.
Organization of Society
In The Bhagavad Gita Krishna says that there are four divisions of society: Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Sudra. That is natural. Some are inclined toward spiritual advancement, and these are the Brahmins. Now we are training boys who are spiritually inclined, and they are unnecessarily being forced into military service. The foolish have no knowledge that some boy is being trained up in higher science. Why should he be destroyed when he is being perfected? The intellectual persons, those boys who have brahminical qualifications, are restrained in Brahmacharya student life: they don’t take to meat-eating, they don’t take part in intoxication, they don’t take part in gambling, they don’t take part in illicit sex. They are being trained as complete Brahmins, the highest intellectuals, the most purified persons in society. If there is one Brahmin in a whole family, then the whole family—the whole society—becomes sanctified. But today they have no knowledge of how to train a Brahmin, or how to train a Kshatriya.
In the other fields of action, in the work of Sudras and Vaishyas, there is nice training. If anyone wants to be a businessman, there are colleges or technological schools. That’s very nice. But why should everyone be dragged into technology? Just as in your body: for proper maintenance we require the head, the arms, the belly and the legs. All these parts of the body are required. You cannot say, “We do not require the head.” That is nonsense—we require everything. Suppose there is a body without a head—it is a dead body. If the body is now intact but there is no head, it is called a dead body. The head is to be considered the intellectual part of the body. Similarly, if there is no Brahmin in the society, it is a dead body. If there is no spiritual man in the society, it is a dead society.
Therefore Krishna says, “I have created the four divisions of society, according to quality and work.” If someone is working as a Brahmachary (celibate) Brahmin, and has acquired the quality of understanding Krishna, the Supreme Lord, then why should he be called for army action? The arm of the body is the Kshatriya. Of course that is required: to protect the country, to protect the society, a military arrangement should be there. No one will disapprove. But not the Brahmins. It is putting a race horse before the work cart. A race horse is required for different purposes. The other beasts of burden—asses, mules and oxen—are required for pulling carts.
I say this frankly—everybody may read it—that any society where there are no spiritual persons or Krishna Consciousness is a rascal society, because it has no head. Where there is a headless man, there is a dead body. And if there is no brain, there is no head; if the brain is not working properly then he is a madman; if he has no head at all, then he is a dead man.
Do you think in a dead society or a mad society that there can be any peace ? No. If the society is full of madmen, then where is the question of peace? Therefore Krishna Consciousness is the most important study in present-day society. The men who are leading the society, the President and the Secretary of Defense should have the intelligence to understand this science of the soul.
The other day when I was coming to your country I met a secretary of the Japanese Government in Tokyo. I wanted to explain to him that he should cooperate with this movement, but he said, “Oh, we cannot co-operate with any religious movement.” He is one of the chief secretaries of that Government, and he is such a fool. He is taking this movement as a religious movement, just like we have so many sentimental religions. But this is not sentimental. This is the necessity of society: that a class of men should be Krishna conscious. Otherwise the society is doomed, it is going to hell.
And, when such rascals are at the head of the government, how can there be peace? How can you expect peace in a dog’s society? The dogs are by nature howling—”Woof! Woof! Woof!” as soon as they see other dogs. So do you mean to say there will be peace if you turn human society into dog society, into cat society, into tiger society? The tiger is very powerful; he can kill many other animals. But does that mean he is a very important animal? No, he has no use in society. And now we are very powerful, and we have good weapons to fight with, and we can kill many people. But these are no qualifications for good men or good society.
We are not meant to manufacture a society of monkeys or tigers or asses—or rascals who work very hard. Do you mean to say a society of asses will derive any benefit from life? No.
Justice and Peace
For those who have developed an attraction to Krishna, attachment can be developed. Before my coming to the West, there was no movement like this Krishna Consciousness, but now it is developing. Krishna was not born in your country, you do not accept Krishna as your religious God. But Krishna is so attractive that, although you are a foreigner, you are not foreign. To Krishna you are not a foreigner. He claims everybody. We make Him foreign, but this is our foolishness.
In The Gita Krishna says, “My dear Arjuna, there are many different forms and different species of life undoubtedly. But I am their Father.” Just see how Krishna is universal. He is claiming not only human society, but animal society, bird society, beast society—everyone. He says, “I am the Father.” So how can Krishna be foreign? It is a mental concoction. They say Krishna is Indian or Krishna is worshiped by the Hindus, and therefore He is one of the Hindu gods; and they think that Krishna is saying, “Yes I am the Hindu God, yes, I am Indian.” But He is like the Sun: if you say it is an American Sun, that’s wrong. The Sun is the Sun. Why American Sun or Indian? Nothing is American or Indian; that is all artificial.
“This planet belongs to the humans, that’s all.” This is your Communism. This present Communism is defective because the Russians say that Russia is for the Russians or China is for the Chinese. Why not for others? Just think in terms of human communism! Why human communism? Living being communism! If you take this world as belonging to human society, that is defective. It belongs to everyone ! It belongs to the tree community, it belongs to the beast community. They also have a right to live. Why should you cut the trees? Why should you send the bulls to the slaughterhouse? This is injustice. How can you gain justice by yourself doing injustice?
We have no Krishna Consciousness. We do not know that Krishna is the original Father, and that we are all His sons. The tree is my brother, the ant is my brother, the bull is my brother. The American is my brother, the Indian is my brother, the Chinese is my brother. Therefore we have to develop Krishna Consciousness. We talk all this nonsense of universal brotherhood and the United Nations—all nonsense. Either you acknowledge the Father, or else you have no idea of how to realize brotherhood or humanity. Therefore, they are talking for years and years. They are the same fools. Can’t you see the U. N.? They have headquarters in New York. They are simply talking nonsense, that’s all. That is their business. So unless there is full Krishna Consciousness, there cannot be any improvement of the world condition.
Krishna says that you have to develop your attachment for Him. Begin at the beginning, but you can do it; it is not artificial. I have a few sincere students here, just developing; they are not complete, but they are developing Krishna attachment. Otherwise, why should they waste their time chanting Hare Krishna? They are doing it, and it can be done. You can develop love for anything if you try for it. But Krishna development is very natural. Because Krishna is not a thing belonging to a particular type of religion or sect. Krishna claims, “I belong to everyone.” Therefore, originally, we were all connected with Krishna, but we have simply forgotten. This process of chanting is to evoke your remembrance of Krishna. It is not that we are inducting something artificial into you. No, Krishna is already connected with you, but you have forgotten. And we are trying to give you the process—how you can revive your original consciousness. So you can come to our temple; that is the beginning. You can see Krishna or Krishna’s devotees, you can chant Hare Krishna.
Krishna is not different from His Name because He is Absolute. He is non-different from His words. The Name Krishna and the Person Krishna are not different. Because everything is Krishna.
Oneness, the philosophy of monism or pantheism, is imperfect. When that Oneness comes in understanding Krishna, that is perfection. If Krishna is the Supreme Absolute Truth from Whom everything is emanating, then everything is Krishna. Just as you have a gold mine and you are preparing so many golden utensils and ornaments and many other things. But they are all gold because the original is gold. So you may name it “earring,” but you have to add “gold”—golden earring. You may name it “necklace,” but it is gold, because originally it came from the gold mine. Similarly, originally, everything is coming from Krishna.
If He is Supreme, the Absolute Truth, then nothing is different from Him. Just as, whether you say earring or necklace or bangle or wristwatch, these are all made of gold, and so they are gold. But, at the same time, you cannot say that this is all gold—you must say, “this is a gold necklace, this is a gold earring.” The “Mayavadi,” or impersonalist, will say that everything is Brahman. But “everything is Brahman” is not right.
This is very nicely explained in The Gita, in the Thirteenth Chapter: “I am expanded all over. That is My impersonal feature.” Krishna is everywhere in His impersonal feature, but still He is a Person. The Mayavadi philosopher thinks that if Krishna has become everything, then where is the possibility of Krishna here, apart? This is complete rascaldom, because it is thinking in a material way, and there is no spiritual knowledge.
In the material way, suppose you take a piece of paper and tear it into particles and throw it all over. The original paper has no existence. This is material. But we get information from the Vedas that the Absolute Truth is so perfect that if you take away the whole, still the whole remains. One minus one equals one. The material way of thinking is one minus one equals zero; but spiritually it is not like that. Spiritually, one minus one equals one, and one plus one equals one also.
Krishna is everything. The Mayavadis, the impersonalists, see our deities here and say, “Oh, they have installed some wooden forms and they are worshiping them as God.” But one who knows Krishna science understands that Krishna is everything; and therefore He can appear in everything. With electricity, the current is everywhere along the line, so wherever you touch you will feel it. Similarly, the Krishna current in His impersonal Form is everywhere, and it is the technician who knows how to use the force. Before we have a phone installed, we have a telephone conversation, and we simply inform the person, before we even talk money, that he should come immediately to find out where the connection can be made. And he comes out and does his work; and we do not notice, because he knows the technique. So, one must know how to connect with Krishna. Krishna is everywhere—this is Krishna Consciousness. But one must know how he can derive Krishna from the features of Krishna’s form in wood or iron or metal.
Everywhere you have to learn how to contact Krishna, in everything. That is explained in the system of Yoga. Krishna Cosciousness is also Yoga, the perfect Yoga, the highest of all yogic aystems. A yogi may come and we can challenge him, saying that this is the top Yoga system, though at the same time it is very simple. You don’t have to exercise your body over a period of weeks before you feel some power. But in Krishna Consciousness you won’t feel tired. All of our students are simply anxious to be overloaded with work in Krishna Consciousness. “Swamiji, what can I do?” And they are actually doing it. In the material world, if you work for some time you’ll feel weak.
Of course, I am not exercising myself. I am an old man of 72 years. I was ill, I went back to India, but I want to work. Actually, I could retire from all these activities, but so far as I can, I want to work, I want to learn day and night. At night I will work with the dictaphone, and I am sorry if I cannot work. It is not an idle society. No, we have sufficient engagements: editing papers, selling papers.
Simply find out how Krishna conscious you can be. If you want to be really at peace, if you want to be happy, then develop Krishna Cosciousness. And the beginning is to develop attachment for Krishna. The process which we have prescribed is chanting and dancing before the deities, and offering “Prasadam,” spiritual food. This will make you more Krishna conscious.
The Yoga system as it is described in The Bhagavad Gita is different from the bogus Yoga system which is going on in the West these days. The Yoga systems which have been introduced into the West by so-called yogis are not bona fide. Yoga is difficult: the first thing is to control the senses. That is the position of the yogi: he is not allowed to indulge in sex life. If you indulge in intoxication, if you indulge in meat eating, and if you indulge in gambling and sporting—all nonsense—you cannot at the same time become a yogi. I was astonished when a yogi came here, having advertised in India that you can be a yogi even though you may be addicted to drinking. This is not the Yoga system. This is not standard. You can call it Yoga, but it is not the standard Yoga system.
The Yoga system is especially difficult for this age. In the Srimad Bhagwatam we understand that yogic transcendental meditation means to concentrate one’s attention on the Superself, Vishnu. He is situated in your heart. And, in order to concentrate your attention, you have to control the senses. The senses are working just like enfuriated horses. If you cannot control the horses of your carriage, it will be dangerous. Just imagine that you are seated in a carriage and your horses are so furious that they are dragging you to hell. Then what is your position?
The Yoga system means to control these senses. The senses are also compared to serpents: The serpent does not know who is its friend and who is its enemy. It bites anyone. And, as soon as the serpent bites, the result is death. Similarly, if the uncontrolled senses work in their own way, then you should know that you are in a dangerous position.
It has been said that, when one becomes too sensuous, he loses his temper, he loses his identity, he forgets himself. Enfuriated by the senses, a man will attack even his children, even his daughter. Therefore, for those who are advancing in spiritual life—not only for them but for everyone—the Shastra, the scripture, says that you should not sit in a secluded place even with your mother, even with your daughter or your sister. Why? Because the senses are so strong that if they become enfuriated, you will forget whether she’s mother, sister or daughter.
You may say that this may be true only for some foolish persons, but Shastra says no—you should not sit in a secluded place even with your mother, sister or daughter, because the senses are so strong that, even though you may be very moral, you may still be attracted by sex.
Our position in this world, our suffering in this world, is due to the body. This body is the cause of all miseries, and the ultimate goal of life should be to get out of this material body, and be situated in the spiritual body. This is a foreign atmosphere. The soul is free spiritually, but it has been conditioned by this material atmosphere. And the body is of this matter.
A human being is fit to enquire as to whether I am this body or something else. This can be understood very easily. I am not this body, because at the time of death the body remains—although everyone cries, “Oh, the poor man is gone !” The man is lying there. Why do you say he is gone? He is lying there. At that time, we can come to our senses, that the body is not the man. The real man is gone. The childhood body is changed to the youthful body, and the childhood body is gone. Similarly, the boyhood body is gone, and you’ll have to accept a body like mine an old man’s body.
The body is changing. Not only year after year, but at every second the body is changing. Still, you are situated there. This is very simple to understand. And because the body is there, we are suffering. Everyone is trying to get out of suffering, in any field of action: in the economic field, in the political field, or any field of activity, social or national, everyone is trying to get out of misery. There is no other activity. Either nationally or socially, individually or collectively—we are all suffering, and this suffering is due to the body.
Yoga means to enquire, What am I? If I am not this body, then what am I? I am pure soul. Now, if my bodily activities or sensual activities are incorrect, I will not be able to understand myself. Therefore, the purpose of Yoga is to understand oneself—what I am—and The Bhagavad Gita says that we are all grand fools. Why fools? Since we have this body, we are fools. If somebody invites you to come to his apartment, but you know it is full of danger, do you think you would like to go there? “Oh no,” you will say. “I am not going there. If it is full of danger, why shall I go?” Similarly, don’t you think that the body is full of danger? Then, why are you going there, taking repeated birth? When you are flying in a plane, you are always fearful that there may be a crash. And what is this crashing? It is due to the body. The soul cannot be affected by crashes. But you are always afraid.
The soul is ever-existing, and the body will not exist. And because you are existing and the soul has accepted the non-existing body, therefore you suffer.
The problem, then, is how to get out, just as you try to get out of a fever. The fevered condition is not your permanent life. Permanent life is enjoyment, but due to the fever you cannot enjoy life. When you are sick you cannot go out, you have to rest and take so many medicines and formulas. But we don’t want that—”Why should I be a sick person?” But you are diseased. Similarly, we should always know that this bodily conditional stage of the pure soul is a diseased condition. And anyone who does not understand this truth, that “I am pure soul,” is defeated in all his activities.
Lord Jesus Christ taught like that: If you lose your soul and gain the whole world, what do you gain? People do not know what they are, and yet they work just like madmen. Just see, all these people are working, and they are madmen. They are not Americans or Indians, Germans or Japanese. They are nothing of the kind. They have been given a chance to come to this naughty place, this Earth; and so, being born in a particular place they have a particular kind of body—and they are mad after that.
The Bhagavad Gita says that, just as we change our outer garments, so this body is changed. Transcendental meditation means the yogic process of getting out of this material embodiment. Just as you are repeating changes of dress, so you are repeating birth and death, and this is the cause of your miseries. If you do not understand this, then all your activities end in defeat.
Yoga means to get out of this embodiment, and it means to know oneself. This body is born of the parents. Similarly, as pure soul, you are also the source of its birth. We do not mean birth beginning historically from a certain day, and ending on a certain day. No; the soul is not like that—it has no beginning, and it has no end. But in The Bhagavad Gita it is said that the soul is part and parcel of God: God is eternal, God is full of joy and bliss. The position of the Absolute Person, the Godhead, is Sat-Chit-Ananda Vigraha: full of bliss, eternal, and full of knowledge. And, because we are also part and parcel of the Supreme, we have partial blissfulness, eternity, and we are full of knowledge—according to our infinitesimal size.
The human beings are understood to be the most intelligent of all living creatures, but they are misusing their intelligence. How? They are misusing their intelligence by devoting it to the animal propensities. These animal propensities are: eating, sleeping, mating and fearing. You can analyze the trend of modern civilization: everyone is busy with these four principles of animal life. They are sleeping and creating some cushions for comfortable sleep. They are creating palatable dishes for the eating propensity. They are exciting sex very nicely, for the mating necessity. And they are defending their country with so many atom bombs—that is the fear propensity.
But these symptoms you will find among the animals. They are also sleeping according to their own ways, and they are defending. You can kill your enemy, or he can kill you, but there is actually no defense. You cannot defend yourself; wherever you drop the bomb, it will hurt you, due to nuclear radiation. So this is not the solution of your problems. The solution of your problems is to get out of the conditioned state of life. That is called Yoga—to link yourself to the Supreme.
There is a Supreme. This material Creation is so nice—don’t you think there is a Friend behind it? The sky is so beautiful, the foodstuff is being produced, the Sun is rising in due course, the Moon is rising in due course, supplying heat for your health, supplying heat to the planetary systems. Everything is arranged very nicely, and yet the fools say there is no brain behind it; it is all happening automatically.
The fact is that there is God, Krishna, and we are all parts and parcels of Krishna. We have been conditioned in some way or other in this material atmosphere. But now we have this human form of life, and so we have to get out of the entanglement. But getting out is not possible. You cannot get out of the entanglement of the material body unless you develop your Krishna Consciousness. Krishna Consciousness is not artificial—don’t think that. This International Society of ours is not another political tool. This is the greatest necessity of the human being. Krishna Consciousness, God consciousness, is there within you. Don’t you find, when there is a Kirtan performance, that the more innocent a person is, the sooner he begins to chant and dance? Immediately, the child begins to clap, begins to dance. This is within them; and it is very simple, this Krishna Consciousness.
So, unless you develop Krishna Consciousness, there is no rescue from the entanglement of conditioned life. This you have to understand. This is not some sentiment. No, it is a great science. You have to understand it nicely. Then the human form of life will be successful, and otherwise it is defeated. You may become a very great nation, but that is not the solution to the problem of life.
By the grace of Krishna, I am able to serve you with my life’s energy. I left the United States in 1967 in poor health; but life and death—everything—depends on Krishna. I thought, Let me go back to Vrindaban, because Vrindaban is a sanctified place where Krishna Consciousness is very strong. I thought that I might go there and die in Krishna Consciousness. Of course, if you are always in the atmosphere of Krishna Consciousness, then here also you can have Vrindaban. Vrindaban is not a particular place that is called Vrindaban. Krishna says, “It is not that I live in the Kingdom of God, Vaikuntha; nor is it that I live in the heart of the yogi.” The yogi wants to find out where Krishna is within the heart. But Krishna says, “I am not in the abode in the spiritual sky, nor am I in the heart of the yogi.” Then where are You? Krishna says, “I stay where My pure devotees are chanting My glories.” That is Vrindaban.
So, if that is Vrindaban, then I am there. There is no difference. Wherever there is electric light, there is electricity. It is naturally understood. Similarly, wherever there is Krishna Consciousness, it is Vrindaban. We can create Vrindaban by the mercy of Krishna, if we chant Hare Krishna. Perfect this Krishna Cosciousness, try to understand the philosophy behind it. It is a science, not a bluff. We can speak from any angle of vision.
Krishna Consciousness is the great necessity of human society. Learn it and appreciate it, comprehend and assimilate it—and teach it. It is very simple. If you offenselessly chant Hare Krishna, everything will be revealed from within. Because Krishna is sitting within you. If you are strong and have faith and conviction in Krishna, as well as the spiritual master—the transparent medium to Krishna—then Krishna is there. The Vedas say that if you have implicit faith in God and implicit faith in your bona fide Guru who teaches you Krishna Consciousness, then the result will be that all the Vedic scriptures will be revealed authoritatively.
The process is spiritual; it does not require any material qualifications. The speculators who are not realized souls are covered in delusion, and are simply wasting their time. Whatever they may do in their official class, they remain the same foolish rascals. But our Krishna conscious students will feel a change in their lives, a change in happiness—and a change in youth, also This is reality.
I shall request you, my dear young girls and boys, to take to Krishna Consciousness very seriously, and you will be happy, your life will be perfected It will be the sublime addition to your life. It is not a bluff. I have not come here to collect some money. Money is supplied by Krishna. I am going back and forth to India—not only I but my students as well—and for a rich man there would be many expenditures. It would cost $10,000 for such trips. But our business is Krishna, and He will supply. I do not know where the money comes from, but Krishna supplies. In Krishna Consciousness, you will be happy. You are the young generation, you are the flower of your country and society. Practice Krishna Cosciousness, this most sublime system of transcendental meditation. Be happy and make others happy. This is the real mission of life.
Identity and Meditation
The Bhagavad Gita says that out of many thousands of human beings, one may try to make perfection of his life. Man is an animal, but he has one special prerogative, rational thought. What is that rational thought? Reasoning power, argument. Now, reasoning power is there in dogs and cats as well. Suppose a dog comes up to you; if you say, “Hut!”—he’ll understand. The dog will understand that you don’t want him. So, he has some reasoning power. But what is the special reasoning power of the human being?
So far as the bodily necessities are concerned, the reasoning power is there even in the animal. If a cat wants to steal some milk from your kitchen, she has very nice reasoning power: she is always looking to see when the master is out and she can take. So, for the four propensities of animal life eating, sleeping, mating and defending—there is reasoning power even in the beasts. Then, what is the special reasoning power of the human being, by which he is called THE rational animal?
The special reasoning power is to inquire, “Why am I suffering?” This is special reasoning. The animals are suffering. But human beings are making scientific advancement and philosophical advancement, cultural advancement, religious advancement—progress in so many lines—because they want to be happy. “Where is the point of happiness?” This reasoning power is especially given to the human being. Therefore, in The Gita, Krishna says, “Out of many men, one may know Me.”
Generally, the people are just like animals. They simply do not know anything beyond the necessities of the body: how to eat, how to sleep, how to mate and how to defend. And The Bhagavad Gita says, out of many thousands, somebody may develop this reasoning power: “Why am I suffering?” He asks this question: “Why am I suffering?” I do not want to suffer, but suffering is forced upon me. Suppose I do not want too much cold—but too much cold and too much heat are forced upon us.
When there is some impetus to awaken this reasoning power, it is called “Brahma Jijnasa.” This is found in the Vedanta Sutra. The first verse says that now, this human form of life, is meant for asking the question of how to solve the problem of suffering.
So Krishna says that this special prerogative of the human being awakens not very easily, except by some association. Just as we have this Krishna conscious association. If we attain such association, where nice things are discussed, then that awakening of reason—that special prerogative of the human being—will come. So long as this question does not arise in one’s mind, he should understand that whatever activities he is doing will all lead to his defeat. He is simply leading an animal life. But, not when these questions arise: Why am I suffering? What am I? Am I meant for suffering? Am I meant for troubles?
I am undergoing troubles by Nature’s laws and by the state’s laws. So the question of freedom is how to become free from all these troubles. The Vedanta Sutra also says that the soul—my actual self—is by nature joyful. Yet, I am suffering. Lord Krishna further says that when these questions arise, gradually one comes to God. Those who have awakened to these questions are said to be on the path of perfection. And, when the question of God and our relationship with God comes, that is our final perfection of life.
Now, Krishna says that out of many thousands of people one may try to make perfection of this life; and out of many millions of such persons on the path of perfection, only one may understand Krishna. So understanding Krishna is not very easy. But it is also the easiest. It is not easy, but at the same time it is the easiest. It is the easiest if you follow the prescribed forms.
Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has introduced this chanting of Hare Krishna. He has not exactly introduced it; it is in the scriptures. But He has especially propagated this formula. In this age this is the easiest method of self realization. Simply chant Hare Krishna. It can be done by everyone. In my classroom, I am perhaps the only Indian. So, it is imported from India, but that does not mean it is Indian. My students are all Americans, they are taking part in the chanting very nicely, chanting and dancing. That means that, in any country, in any place, this thing can be performed. Therefore it is the easiest. You may not understand the philosophy of The Bhagavad Gita. That is also not very difficult; but still, if you think that you cannot understand, you can still chant very easily: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna.
If we want to understand God, Krishna, this is the beginning. The easiest beginning—simply chanting. Now, there are many students of my ISKCON institution. This institution is open a little over a year, but some of the students, by simply chanting, by the Grace of Krishna, have advanced in such a way that they can talk about the science of God, and they will very easily answer those human questions. So, this is the easiest method of transcendental meditation.
Krishna says that out of many millions of people, one may understand Him. But, by the chanting of this Hare Krishna as introduced by Lord Chaitanya—chanting and dancing—you can understand Krishna within a very short time. Knowledge begins not from Krishna, but from things which we are accustomed to see every day.
Advancement in Knowledge
Land is gross. If you touch it, you can feel its hardness. But, as soon as the land becomes still finer, it is water, and the touch is soft. And then again, from water to fire, still finer. After fire or electricity the air is still finer; and after air, the sky, ether, is finer still. Beyond ether, the mind is still finer; and beyond the mind, intelligence is still finer. And, if you go beyond intelligence to understand the soul, it is finer still.
From these elements people have discovered so many sciences. There are many scientists, for example, who are soil experts; they can say, by analyzing a particular type of earth, what kind of minerals are there. Somebody seeks out oil, somebody seeks out gold, somebody seeks out mica—so many things. This is knowledge of gross things—the earth. If you go to finer substances, then you study water, or liquid things, such as petrol and alcohol. Go still finer, and from water you will go to fire and electricity. If you study electricity, you have to study all sorts of books. And, from this finer fire, you will come to air. We have so much advancement in our airplanes; we are studying how they move, how they are made—now sputniks and jets—so many things are being discovered.
Next comes the study of the ethereal: electronics, ethereal transformations from one thing to another. Then, finer still, is the mind—psychology and psychiatry. But for intelligence, rationalism, there is only a little philosophical speculation. And what about the soul? Is there any science of the soul? The materialists have none. Material science has advanced to the study of ether, or the mind and intelligence, but there is no advancement beyond that. Beyond intelligence, they do not know what exists. But in The Bhagavad Gita you can find this.
The Bhagavad Gita begins at the point after intelligence. When Arjuna was perplexed at the outset, his intelligence was perplexed—whether to fight or not to fight. Krishna begins The Gita from the point where intelligence fails. How does knowledge of the soul begin? It is just like a child playing. You can understand this child’s body is now so small, but one day this child will be grown up, like you or me. But the same soul will continue. So, by intelligence, you can understand that though the body is changed, the soul is there. The same soul which was existing in the body of the child is still continuing in the body of the old man. Therefore the soul is permanent, and only the body has changed. This is a very easy thing to understand. And the last change of this body is death.
As at every moment, every second, every day, every hour, the body is changing, so the last change is when one cannot act with the body, and so he has to take another one. Just as, when my cloth is too worn out or old, I cannot put it on; I have to take a new cloth. It is similar with the soul. When the body is too old or unworkable, I have to change to another body. This is called death.
This is the beginning of The Gita, when the preliminary knowledge of the soul is there. And you wil find that there are only a few who can understand the existence of the soul as permanent, and of the body as changeable. Therefore Bhagavan, Lord Krishna, says that, out of many, many millions of people, one may understand it. But still, the knowledge is there. If you want to understand it, it is not difficult. You can understand it.
Now, we should inquire into the existence of the ego, the finest material substance. What is ego? I am pure soul, but with my intelligence and mind I am in contact with matter, and I have identified myself with matter—and this is false ego. I am pure soul, but I am identifying falsely. For example, I am identifying with the land, thinking that I am Indian, or that I am American. This is called “Ahamkar.” Ahamkar means the point where the pure soul touches matter. That junction is called Ahamkar. Ahamkar is still finer than intelligence.
Krishna says that these are the eight material elements: earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego. False ego meas false identification. Our nescient life has begun from this false identification—thinking that I am this matter, although I am seeing every day, at every moment, that I am not this matter. Study your own child, and you will see that the soul is not matter. Soul is permanently existing, while matter is changing. This misconception, this illusion, is called Ahamkar, false ego. And your liberation means when you are out of this false ego. What is that status? “Aham Brahmasmi.” I am Brahman, I am spirit. That is the beginning of liberation.
Of course, one may be suffering from disease, from fever, and the temperature may come down to normal, 98.6 degrees. So he is now normal, but that is not the cure. Suppose for two days he has a 98.6 degree temperature, but with a slight change of diet, a slight change of behavior, the temperature rises immediately to 100. Relapse. Similarly, simply understanding, simply purifying the mind, rejecting this false Ahamkar identification—I am not this body, I am not this matter; I am soul—this is not liberation. It is only the beginning of liberation. If you stick to this point, and continue—just as you might continue your activities and keep your temperature at 98.6 degrees—then you are a healthy man.
For example, in the West now there is some propaganda for taking intoxication. The people want to forget the bodily existence. But how long will you forget? There will be a relapse. You can forget for one hour or two, by intoxication, and think that I am not this body. But unless you are actually on the platform of understanding yourself by knowledge, it is not possible to continue. Still, everyone is trying to think, “I am not this body.” Because they have experience that, by bodily identification, they are suffering so much, and so, “If only I could forget my bodily identification!”
This is only a negative conception. When you actually realize yourself, that “I am Brahman,” simply understanding Brahman will not do. You have to engage yourself in the activities of Brahman. Otherwise you will fall down. Simply flying very high is no solution to the problem of going to the Moon. Even if you go 25 million miles, still you are limited. So this will not do. If you at all want to go high, you must have shelter. If you can take rest there, then you cannot fall down. But if you have no rest, then you will have to fall down. The airplane goes so high, seven miles, eight miles up from the Earth, but it comes down immediately.
So, simply understanding Ahamkar meas no more than understanding the false identification. Simply understanding that I am not matter, I am soul, is not perfection. The impersonalist, the Void philosopher, simply thinks of the negative, that I am not this matter, I am not this body. This will not stay. You have to not only realize that you are not matter, but you have to engage yourself in the spiritual world. And that spiritual world means to be working in Krishna Consciousness. That spiritual world, that functioning of our real life, is Krishna Cosciousness.
False ego I have already explained. It is neither matter nor spirit, but the junction—where the spirit soul comes into contact with matter, and forgets himself. It is just as, in delirium, a man is diseased and his brain becomes puzzled, and gradually he forgets himself and becomes a madman. He is gradually forgetting. So there is the beginning of loss, and there is one point where he forgets. That beginning point is called Ahamkar, or false ego.
Transcendental meditation, chanting the Maha Mantra—Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare—is the process not merely of putting an end to this false conception of the self, but goes beyond that, to the point where the pure spirit soul engages in his eternal, blissful, all-knowing activities in the loving service of God. This is the height of conscious development, the ultimate goal of all living entities now evolving through the cycles and species of material Nature.