Kṛṣṇa consciousness is easily achieved by the mercy of Lord Caitanya, but only some are fortunate enough to have the mercy of Lord Caitanya and His disciplic succession. According to Bhagavad-gītā:
- manuṣyāṇāṁ sahasreṣu
- kaścid yatati siddhaye
- yatatām api siddhānāṁ
- kaścin māṁ vetti tattvataḥ
"Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth." (BG 7.3)
God realization is not possible for animals or for persons who are almost animals, or for animals in the shape of human beings. Contemporary civilization is by in large an assembly of animals because, as stated before, it operates on the basis of the animal propensities. The birds and beasts arise early in the morning and busy themselves trying to find food and sex and trying to defend themselves; at night they look for shelter, and in the morning they fly to a tree to find nuts and fruits. Similarly, in New York City, great hordes of people travel from one island to another by ferry boat or wait for subways in order to go to the office for the purpose of finding food. How is this an advancement over animal life? Although the ferry and subway are always crowded, and many people have to travel forty or fifty miles for bread, the birds are free to fly from one tree to another.
Real civilization is not concerned simply with man's animal needs but with enabling man to understand his relationship with God, the supreme father. One may learn about his relationship with God by any process - through Christianity, through the Vedic literatures or through the Koran - but in any case it must be learned. The purpose of this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is not to make Christians into Hindus or Hindus into Christians but to inform everyone that the duty of a human being is to understand his relationship with God. One must learn this, otherwise he is simply wasting his time by engaging in animalistic propensities. We must all try to love Kṛṣṇa or God. If one has a process, he should practice it, or he can come and learn this process. One should not begrudge the selection of one process over another. Viṣād apy amṛtaṁ grāhyam amedhyād api kāñcanam/ nīcād apy uttamāṁ vidyāṁ strī-ratnaṁ duṣkulād api (Nīti-darpaṇa 1.16). Cāṇakya Paṇḍita says that one must catch what is right from any source. If there is a glass of poison with some nectar in it, he says, one should take out the nectar and leave the poison. In the same way, if one finds gold in a filthy place, he should take it. Similarly, although according to the Vedic system of education one must be given instruction by intellectual persons like brāhmaṇas, if someone lower on the social scale has learned the truth, one should accept him as a teacher and learn from him. One should not think that just because one is lowly born he should not be accepted as a teacher.
Similarly, if one is serious about understanding God, he should not think, "I am Christian," "I am Hindu," or "I am Muslim." If one is serious about understanding love of God, he should consider which process is practical. One should not think, "Why should I follow Hindu or Vedic scriptures?" The purpose of following the Vedic scriptures is to develop love of God. When students come to America for a higher education, they do not consider the fact that the teachers may be American, German or of other nationalities. If one wants a higher education, he simply comes and takes it. Similarly, if there is an effective process for understanding and approaching God, like this Kṛṣṇa consciousness process, one should take it.
Not all, but those who are intelligent and fortunate take to this process of devotional service (kevalayā bhaktyā), and their only desire is to serve Kṛṣṇa. From early morning till late at night the devotees are engaged in Kṛṣṇa's service. This is called kevalayā, pure; for them there is no other business. This process is recommended for all, and it is the perfection of all religious processes. (Sa vai puṁsāṁ paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhokṣaje (SB 1.2.6)). In Sanskrit, there are two words, para, and apara, which describe the superior (transcendental) and the inferior (material) approaches to religion. In the execution of material dharma, or religion performed for material gain, people generally go to a church or a temple and pray, "God, give us our daily bread." Actually, this need not be asked for, for bread is already provided for everyone. Even the birds and beasts get their bread without having to go to church to ask God for it. Similarly, our bread is also provided, whether we go to church or not. That is not a problem, for no one is dying in the streets of starvation, nor do we find a bird, beast, or even an ant dying of starvation. Food is there, and one need not bother about it. If the brain should he taxed, it should be taxed for Kṛṣṇa or God. This is the proper utilization of time. There is no scarcity of bread in the Kingdom of God.
Tasyaiva hetoḥ prayateta kovido na labhyate yad bhramatām upary adhaḥ (SB 1.5.18). Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam says that one should try to attain that which cannot be attained by traveling all over the universe. What is that? Kevalayā bhaktyā - pure devotion. By God's arrangement there is sufficient food, land and prospects for food on this planet, but we have arranged things in such a way that in one part of the world people are suffering and in another part they are throwing grains in the ocean. The Vedas say, eko bahūnāṁ yo vidadhāti kāmān - the Supreme Person is supplying food to many living entities. The difficulty in this material world is that we take more than we need and thus create our own problems. problems are created by men, led by the so-called politicians. According to nature's way or God's way, everything is complete. According to Śrī Īśopaniṣad:
- oṁ pūrṇam adaḥ pūrṇam idaṁ
- pūrṇāt pūrṇam udacyate
- pūrṇasya pūrṇam ādāya
- pūrṇam evāvaśiṣyate
"The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because of this all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the complete whole is also complete in itself. Because He is the complete whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance." (Śrī Īśopaniṣad, Invocation) God is complete, His creation is complete, and His arrangements are complete, but we are creating disturbances. Real education is that which makes people Kṛṣṇa conscious so that they will properly utilize the resources of the earth and stop creating disturbances. It is not possible to solve problems by passing resolutions in the United Nations. One must know the actual method of solving problems.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī says that simply by pure devotional service one can solve the problems of life. Who can do this? It is not possible for an ordinary man but for those who are vāsudeva-parayaṇāḥ, devoted to Lord Kṛṣṇa (Vāsudeva). Only those whose concern is to satisfy Kṛṣṇa and who take to pure unalloyed devotional service can solve the problems of life.
Aghaṁ dhunvanti - as already explained, problems are created by sinful activities. Although there is enough food, everyone stocks more than is needed in order to make a profit or simply in order to hoard. In 1942, in India, there was an artificial famine created by people gathering money and stocking it unnecessarily. Wealthy men collected rice which was selling at six rupees a pound, and suddenly within a week the price rose to fifty rupees a pound. Consequently no rice was available on the market, and the people went hungry. An American gentleman present at the time remarked, "If people in our country were starving in this way, there would have been a revolution." The people in India, however, are so trained and cultured that in spite of this artificial famine they did not revolt but preferred to die peacefully. Of course, this is only one instance, but it shows how problems are not created by God but by man. In Germany during the First World War the women went to church and prayed to God to send their husbands, sons and brothers back safely, but none of them came back. All of the women became atheists. They did not consider that God did not advocate the war and its problems. They went to Him for a Solution. When we create our own problems, we have to suffer the results.
It is a fact, however, that the problems of one who takes to the shelter of Kṛṣṇa, God, are solved. For this reason, if for none other, one should apply his devotional service to Vāsudeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Vāsudeve bhagavati bhakti-yogaḥ prayojitaḥ. If one engages in devotional service to Vāsudeva, he will receive the highest knowledge without delay (janayaty āsu vairāgyam). The words jñāna-vairāgyam refer to "that knowledge by which one becomes detached from material allurement." The word jñāna means knowledge, and vairāgyam means detachment. Both knowledge and detachment are required in this human form of life. One should know: "I am spirit soul. I have nothing to do with this material world, but because I have a desire to enjoy it in different ways, I am transmigrating from one body to another. I do not know when this began, but it is still going on." This is real knowledge. To be knowledgeable, one must understand his constitutional position and realize how he is suffering in this material world. That perfection of knowledge comes when one becomes vāsudeva-parayaṇāḥ, devoted to Lord Vāsudeva. In Bhagavad-gītā, Lord Kṛṣṇa tells Arjuna:
- bahūnāṁ janmanām ante
- jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
- vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
- sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ
"After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare." (BG 7.19) Those great souls who know perfectly well that Kṛṣṇa, Vāsudeva, is the source of everything, are very rare. It is easy to find so-called mahātmās (great souls) with long beards and mustaches who tell everyone that they are one with God and that when they die they will wake up and become God, but these are not really mahātmās. Rather, they are durātmā, hard-hearted, because they want to encroach on the rightful position of Kṛṣṇa and become one with Him. If there were a servant in the office who tried to occupy the position of employer, would the employer like it? Similarly, any living entity who is trying to become God is not very much to God's liking. Of course no one can become God, but this endeavor to become God or His competitor is not very pleasing to Him. Persons who try are described in Bhagavad-gītā as dviṣataḥ, envious. The Lord says:
- tān ahaṁ dviṣataḥ krūrān
- saṁsāreṣu narādhamān
- kṣipāmy ajasram aśubhān
- āsurīṣv eva yoniṣu
"Envious, mischievous, the lowest of mankind, these do I ever put back into the ocean of material existence, into various demoniac species of life." (BG 16.19)
They are put into hellish conditions because they are envious of God's position. First they try to occupy high positions in this material world, and when they are frustrated in this attempt, they think, "Now I shall occupy the position of God." Of course this desire is also frustrated because no one can become God. God is God, and the living entity is the living entity. God is supreme and infinite; we are infinitesimal. Our position is to serve God, and when we act according to our position, we become happy. By imitating God, happiness cannot be obtained. Yasyaika-niśvasita-kālam athāvalambya jīvanti loma-vila-jā jagad-aṇḍa-nāthāḥ. (Bs. 5.48)
There are innumerable universes, and within one breath of the Mahā-Viṣṇu these universes are inhaled and dissolved within His body. How then can a living entity become God? God is not so cheap. Therefore we must become advanced in knowledge and accept Vāsudeva, Kṛṣṇa, as the supreme. There is no question of Kṛṣṇa being a man. At no stage in His appearance on earth did He appear as an ordinary living entity. Even as a baby He performed miraculous feats way beyond the abilities of the ordinary living entity. One should not consider that when he is surrendering to Kṛṣṇa he is surrendering to an ordinary man but to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Indeed, that is confirmed by all Vedic literatures. Aghaṁ dhunvanti: All reactions to sinful activities are cancelled when one surrenders to Kṛṣṇa. In Bhagavad-gītā Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself advises personal surrender to Him:
- sarva-dharmān parityajya
- mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
- ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo
- mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ
"Give up all varieties of religiousness and just surrender unto Me, and in return I shall protect you from all sinful reactions. Therefore you have nothing to fear." (BG 18.66)
Therefore one who is a devotee (Vāsudeva-parayaṇāḥ) and who simply engages in devotional service is immediately freed from all sinful activities. Devotional service to Kṛṣṇa or Kṛṣṇa consciousness can never be attained by any amount of speculation but by the causeless mercy of a pure devotee of Kṛṣṇa. It is a matchless gift bestowed by the mahātmā or great soul out of compassion for fallen living entities. It is said that by the grace of Kṛṣṇa one gets a guru, or a spiritual master, and by the grace of the spiritual master, one gets Kṛṣṇa. This is like the gift of the sunrise. At night there is darkness, but in the morning, as soon as the sun rises, immediately millions of miles of darkness are removed. In the same way, if we try to make the sun of Kṛṣṇa rise within our hearts, all of our problems will be solved.