There is a nice instructive verse in Sanskrit. One saintly person was giving his blessings to different kinds of persons. So he first of all saw one boy, he was a prince, son of a king. So he blessed him, rāja-putra. "My dear prince," ciraṁ jīva, "you live forever." Then he saw one brahmacārī, a disciple of a spiritual master, he said, mā jīva muni-putraka: "Oh, you are the disciple of a saintly person. You do not live. You die immediately." Rāja-putra ciraṁ jīva. "Oh, the prince, son of a king, you live forever; and you are a brahmacārī, muni-putra, a son of a saintly person, so you die immediately." Then there was a saintly person, and he said to the saintly... He offered his blessings to the saintly person, jīva vā mara vā sādhoḥ. Sādhoḥ means saintly person, sādhu. "My dear saintly person, either you live or you die as you like." And there was a butcher. He told for the butcher, mā jīva mā mara iti: "You neither live nor die." So what is the significance of these four kinds of blessings? The significance is that he blessed the rāja-putra, royal prince, to live forever because whatever enjoyment he's having, this is for this life. Next life is very horrible for him, next life. Just like generally in the opulent countries like America and other European countries, they are materially very opulent, they do not care for anything. They do anything, whatever they like, because they are very much proud of their material opulence. But they do not care what they are going to be next life, you see. Therefore so long they live, that is good for them. As soon as they die, they are going to the darkest region of the hell. Therefore the prince, the king's son, was blessed, "You live forever," and so far the brahmacārī, brahmacārī or the son of a muni, he is undergoing penance, austerities, fasting, not very comfortable life. So he was blessed that "You die immediately." Because by his pious activities he has elevated himself so high that as soon as he dies, he goes to Vaikuṇṭha, kingdom of God. Therefore the sooner he dies is better. So muni-putra, ma jīva muni-putraka. And so far saintly person, sādhu, he said, jīva vā mara vā. A saintly person, "Either you live or die, the same thing. Because you are serving Kṛṣṇa in this life, and as soon as you die, you will serve Kṛṣṇa directly. So it is all the same." And so far the butcher is concerned, he said, mā jīva mā mara: "You don't die, don't live." "Don't live" means, "You are living in such a wretched condition, killing every day. Horrible life. Your living is horrible, and if you die, you are going to the darkest region of the hellish condition. So both life, living or dying, it is very horrible for you. So you don't live, don't die." (laughs) So that is the blessing to the butcher, "Don't live, don't die." Living condition is also horrible, and after death it is also horrible. But unfortunately, every one of us is committing butchery without understanding self-realization, what is self, "What I am." Therefore Vedānta-sūtra says, "Try to understand yourself." Athāto brahma jijñāsā. This human form of life is meant for searching out, understanding, inquiring, about Brahman. We are all Brahmans. Because we are part and parcel of the Supreme Brahman, therefore we are all Brahman. So if we do not inquire what is Brahman, then that is suicide. In the human form of life, if you do not make inquiries what is brahma, athāto brahma jijñāsā... Jijñāsā means inquiry. This is the first aphorism in the Vedānta-sūtra, that atha. Atha means thus. Ataḥ, ataḥ means hereafter. "Hereafter" means that we have passed through 8,400,000 of species of life; now we have got civilized form of human body; now it is the time to inquire what I am, what is God, what is my relationship with God.
So in every human society there is such inquiry and there is some answer also. So cultivating this knowledge, Kṛṣṇa consciousness or God consciousness, is essential. If we do not take to these inquiries, simply if we engage ourself in the animal propensities... Because this material body is animal body, but the consciousness is developed. In the animal body or in the lower than animal body—just like trees and plants, they are also living entities—the consciousness is not developed. If you cut a tree, because the consciousness is not developed, it does not protest. But it feels the pain. That is scientifically proved by Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose. It feels. But the feeling is not so strong. But if you kill one animal, it protests because the consciousness is developed. Similarly if you kill a man, that protest is still vehement because the consciousness is still more advanced. So in this way, in different forms of life, we are developing different types of consciousness. Just like this child, because it has got a certain type of body, its consciousness is not so developed. But when this body will be grown up, when this girl will be young, then her consciousness also will be different. Not will be, it will develop. Similarly, our consciousness should develop. The perfection, the ultimate goal, the limit of development is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The consciousness is developing one after another in different bodies, but Kṛṣṇa consciousness means that is the ultimate development. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān māṁ prapadyate (BG 7.19). This is the definition how consciousness reaches its perfection. Bahūnāṁ janmanām ante. That perfection is reached after many, many births. Just like aquatics, plants, trees, reptiles, birds, beasts, then uncivilized human form of body, then civilized form of body, and especially the Vedic style of body. That is considered to be the highest perfectional body. And Vedic perfectional stage also achieves the highest goal when it is Kṛṣṇa conscious.