If one is not particularly careful, by watering the plant of devotional service one will instead nourish the weeds described above, which will then grow very luxuriantly and hamper one's progress. The idea is that when one waters a garden, not only does the desired plant grow rapidly but the unwanted plants grow also. If the gardener does not see these weeds and cut them down, they will overcome and choke the plant of devotion. It is thus the duty of the neophyte devotee to cut down all the weeds that may grow by the watering process of devotional service. If one is careful to guard against the growth of these weeds, the plant of devotion will grow luxuriantly and reach the ultimate goal, Goloka Vṛndāvana. When the living entity engaged in devotional service relishes the fruit of love of Godhead, he forgets all religious rituals aimed at improving his economic condition. He no longer desires to satisfy his senses, and he no longer desires to become one with the Supreme Lord by merging into His effulgence.
Instead (Other Books)
Other Books by Srila Prabhupada
Teachings of Lord Caitanya
A man may think he will be happy by performing such rituals, but this is not true. Even if he does gain some result from them, it is only temporary. His material distresses will continue. So he will never become truly happy by following the ritualistic process. Instead, his material pangs will increase more and more. The same may be said for digging on the northern side, or searching for the treasure of love of Godhead by means of the meditational yoga process. The perfection of this process is to think oneself one with the Supreme Lord. But this merging into the Supreme is like being swallowed by a large serpent. Sometimes a small serpent is swallowed by a large serpent, and merging into the spiritual existence of the Supreme is analogous. While the small serpent is searching after perfection, he is swallowed. This is spiritual suicide.
When the Lord appeared before Dhruva as four-handed Viṣṇu, Dhruva told Him: "My dear Lord, because I engaged in Your devotional service with great austerity and penances, I am now seeing You, whom even great demigods and sages have difficulty seeing. Now I am pleased, and all my desires are satisfied. I do not want anything else. I was searching for some broken glass, but instead I have found a great and valuable gem." Thus Dhruva Mahārāja expressed his full satisfaction and refused to ask anything from the Lord.
The living entity transmigrating through 8,400,000 species of life is sometimes likened to a log gliding downstream on the waves of a river. Sometimes, by chance, a log washes up on shore and is thus saved from being forced to drift further downstream. In this regard there is a nice verse in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.38.5) that encourages every conditioned soul: "No one should be depressed by thinking he will never be out of the clutches of matter, for there is the possibility of being rescued, exactly as it is possible for a log floating down a river to come to rest on the bank." This fortunate opportunity was also discussed by Lord Caitanya.
"My dear Lord, I came to worship You because I desired some land on this earth, but fortunately I have attained You, who are beyond even the perception of great sages and saintly persons. I came to search out some particles of colored glass, but instead I found a very valuable gem like You. I am satisfied, and I do not desire to ask anything of You."
There is also another meaning to the word nirgrantha. The word can also mean "foolish hunter," or "wretched poor man." There is an instance of such a hunter who attained salvation and engaged himself in the devotional service of the Lord simply by associating with the pure devotee Nārada. Indeed, Lord Caitanya told Sanātana Gosvāmī the following story of the hunter's meeting with Nārada.
"Well, Sir," Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī continued, “You belong to our Śaṅkara sect, and You are living in Benares—so why don’t You mix with us? What is the reason? Another thing: You are a sannyāsī and are supposed to engage simply in the study of the Vedānta, but we see that instead You are always engaged in chanting and dancing and playing musical instruments. What is the reason? These are the activities of emotional and sentimental people. But You are a qualified sannyāsī. Why not engage in the study of the Vedānta? By Your effulgence it appears to us that You are just like the Supreme Nārāyaṇa, the Personality of Godhead, but by Your behavior You appear to be otherwise. So we are inquisitive to know why You act in this way.”
In three out of the four millenniums (namely Satya-yuga, Tretā-yuga and Dvāpara-yuga) people had the honor to strive to understand transcendence through the path of disciplic succession. But in the present age, due to the influence of Kali, people have no interest in the disciplic succession. Instead, they have invented many paths of logic and argument. This individual attempt to understand the supreme transcendence (called the ascending process) is not the Vedic way. The Absolute Truth must descend from the absolute platform. He is not to be understood by the ascending process. The holy name of the Lord—Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare—is a transcendental vibration because it comes from the transcendental platform, the supreme abode of Kṛṣṇa. And because there is no difference between Kṛṣṇa and His name, the holy name of Kṛṣṇa is as pure, perfect and liberated as Kṛṣṇa Himself.
Therefore oṁkāra is the most auspicious representation of the Supreme Lord. Such is the description given by the Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad. One should not foolishly interpret an Upaniṣadic description and say that it is because the Supreme Personality of Godhead cannot appear Himself in this material world in His own form that He sends His sound representation (oṁkāra) instead. Due to such a false interpretation, oṁkāra has come to be considered something material, and consequently oṁkāra is misunderstood and eulogized as being simply an exhibition or symbol of the Lord. Actually oṁkāra is as good as any other incarnation of the Supreme Lord.
In this way the student of Prakāśānanda summarized the explanations of Lord Caitanya, and then he concluded: "We have given up the actual path of spiritual realization. We simply engage in nonsensical talk. Māyāvādī philosophers who are serious about attaining benediction should engage in the devotional service of Kṛṣṇa, but instead they take pleasure in useless argument only. We hereby admit that the explanation of Śaṅkarācārya hides the actual import of Vedic literature. Only the explanation given by Caitanya is acceptable. All other interpretations are useless."
After thus explaining his position, the chief student of Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī began to chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. When Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī saw this, he too admitted the fault of Śaṅkarācārya and said, “Because Śaṅkarācārya wanted to establish the doctrine of monism, he had no alternative but to interpret the Vedānta-sūtra in a different way.
Nectar of Devotion
The living entities, who are called marginal energy, perform material activities when acting under the inferior, external energy. And when they engage in activities under the internal, spiritual energy, their activities are called Kṛṣṇa conscious. This means that those who are great souls or great devotees do not act under the spell of material energy, but act instead under the protection of the spiritual energy. Any activities done in devotional service, or in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, are directly under the control of spiritual energy. In other words, energy is a sort of strength, and this strength can be spiritualized by the mercy of both the bona fide spiritual master and Kṛṣṇa.
In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta, by Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī, Lord Caitanya states that it is a fortunate person who comes in contact with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Kṛṣṇa.
The scripture known as Brahma-yāmala states as follows: "If someone wants to pose himself as a great devotee without following the authorities of the revealed scriptures, then his activities will never help him to make progress in devotional service. Instead, he will simply create disturbances for the sincere students of devotional service." Those who do not strictly follow the principles of revealed scriptures are generally called sahajiyās—those who have imagined everything to be cheap, who have their own concocted ideas, and who do not follow the scriptural injunctions. Such persons are simply creating disturbances in the discharge of devotional service.
While he was thinking like this, in Vaikuṇṭha Lord Nārāyaṇa, seated with the goddess of fortune, Lakṣmī, began to smile humorously. On seeing this smiling of the Lord, all the goddesses of fortune attending the Lord became very curious and asked Lord Nārāyaṇa why He was smiling. The Lord, however, did not reply to their inquisitiveness, but instead immediately sent for the brāhmaṇa. An airplane sent from Vaikuṇṭha immediately brought the brāhmaṇa into Lord Nārāyaṇa's presence. When the brāhmaṇa was thus present before the Lord and the goddesses of fortune, the Lord explained the whole story. The brāhmaṇa was then fortunate enough to get an eternal place in Vaikuṇṭha in the association of the Lord and His Lakṣmīs. This shows how the Lord is all-pervading, in spite of His being locally situated in His abode. Although the Lord was present in Vaikuṇṭha, He was present also in the heart of the brāhmaṇa when he was meditating on the worshiping process. Thus, we can understand that things offered by the devotees even in meditation are accepted by the Lord, and they help one achieve the desired result.
In the Hari-bhakti-sudhodaya there is another example, forwarded by Mahārāja Dhruva. He says there, "My dear Lord, I have practiced austerities and penances because I was desiring to receive something from You, but in exchange You have allowed me to see You, who are never visible even to the great sages and saintly persons. I had been searching out some pieces of broken glass, but instead I have found the most valuable jewel. I am therefore fully satisfied, my Lord. I do not wish to ask anything more from Your Lordship."
A similar statement is to be found in the Third Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Fifteenth Chapter, verse 48. The four sages headed by Sanaka Muni addressed the Lord as follows: "Dear Supreme Personality of Godhead, Your reputation is very attractive and free from all material contamination. Therefore You are worthy of being glorified and are actually the reservoir of all places of pilgrimage.
And if I want to go away from the scene because I am afraid of Him, He will immediately spread His arms to block My path. If I piteously fall down at His feet, then this enemy of the Madhu demon, in an angry mood, bites My face! Mother, just try to understand My situation, and don't be unnecessarily angry with Me. Instead, please tell Me how I can save Myself from these terrible attacks of Kṛṣṇa!"
Sometimes among contemporary personalities there are signs of ecstasy in anger because of love for Kṛṣṇa. An example of such anger was exhibited in a quarrel between Jaṭilā and Mukharā. Jaṭilā was the mother-in-law of Rādhārāṇī, and Mukharā was Her great-grandmother. Both of them were talking about Kṛṣṇa's unnecessary harassment of Rādhārāṇī when She was walking on the street. Jaṭilā said, "You cruel-faced Mukharā! By hearing your words my heart feels like it is burning in a fire!" And Mukharā replied, "You sinful Jaṭilā, by hearing your words, there is aching in my head!
Nectar of Instruction
In this regard Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura remarks that the cultivation of knowledge by philosophical speculation, the collection of mundane opulence by the advancement of fruitive activities, and the desire for yoga-siddhis, material perfections, are all contrary to the principles of devotional service. One has to become thoroughly callous to such nonpermanent activities and turn his intention instead to the regulative principles of devotional service. According to Bhagavad-gītā (2.69):
Easy Journey to Other Planets
We may rightly say that God created this material world, and this indicates that God existed before the creation. This very word "created" suggests that before the creation of the cosmic manifestation, the Lord was existing. Therefore God is not under the creation. If God were under the creation, how could He have created? He would instead have been one of the objects of this material creation. But God is not under the creation; He is the creator, and therefore He is eternal.
There is a spiritual sky, where there are innumerable spiritual planets and innumerable spiritual living entities, but those who are not fit to live in that spiritual world are sent to this material world. Voluntarily we have accepted this material body, but actually we are spirit souls who should not have accepted it. When and how we accepted it cannot be traced. No one can trace the history of when the conditioned soul first accepted the material body.
Krsna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead
According to the Vedic system, whenever there is an auspicious ceremony in the kṣatriya king's palace, out of joy the king gives many things in charity. Cows decorated with golden ornaments are delivered to the brāhmaṇas and sages. Vasudeva wanted to perform a charitable ceremony to celebrate Kṛṣṇa's appearance, but because he was shackled within the walls of Kaṁsa's prison, this was not possible. Instead, within his mind he gave thousands of cows to the brāhmaṇas.
When Vasudeva was convinced that the newborn child was the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, he bowed down with folded hands and began to offer Him prayers. At that time Vasudeva was in the transcendental position, and he became completely free from all fear of Kaṁsa. The newborn baby was also flashing His effulgence within the room in which He appeared.
When the gopīs saw the demon killed and child Kṛṣṇa very happily playing on his body, they immediately picked Kṛṣṇa up with great affection. The cowherd men and women became very happy to get back their beloved child Kṛṣṇa. At that time they began to talk about how wonderful it was that the demon had taken away the child to devour Him but could not do so; instead he fell down dead. Some of them supported the situation: "This is proper because those who are too sinful die from their sinful reactions, and child Kṛṣṇa is pious; therefore He is safe from all kinds of fearful situations. And we too must have performed great sacrifices in our previous lives, worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead, giving great wealth in charity and acting philanthropically for the general welfare of men. Because of such pious activities, the child is safe from all danger."
He was unnecessarily puffed up by the volume of his accumulated poison, as well as by his material power, and he thought, "Why should Garuḍa be offered this sacrifice?" He then ceased offering any sacrifice; instead, he himself ate the offering intended for Garuḍa. When Garuḍa, the great devotee-carrier of Viṣṇu, understood that Kāliya was eating the offered sacrifices, he became very angry and rushed to the island to kill the offensive serpent. Kāliya tried to fight Garuḍa and faced him with his many hoods and poisonous sharp teeth. Kāliya attempted to bite him, and Garuḍa, the son of Tārkṣya, in great anger and with the great force befitting the carrier of Lord Viṣṇu, struck the body of Kāliya with his effulgent golden wings. Kāliya, who is also known as Kadrusuta, son of Kadru, immediately fled to the lake known as Kāliya-hrada, which lay within the Yamunā River and which Garuḍa could not approach.
Actually, although Kṛṣṇa was acting so wonderfully, Mahārāja Nanda and Mother Yaśodā could not think of Him as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Instead, they always accepted Him as their beloved child. Thus Nanda Mahārāja did not accept the fact that Varuṇa worshiped Kṛṣṇa because He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead; rather he took it that because Kṛṣṇa was such a wonderful child He was respected even by Varuṇa. The friends of Nanda Mahārāja, all the cowherd men, became eager to know if Kṛṣṇa was actually the Supreme Personality and if He was going to give them all salvation. When they were all thus consulting among themselves, Kṛṣṇa understood their minds, and in order to assure them of their destiny in the spiritual kingdom, He showed them the spiritual sky.
He has no business either with us, the girls in the Vṛndāvana forest, or with the city girls in Mathurā. He is the great Supersoul; He has nothing to do with any of us, either here or there.”
Another gopī said, “It is an unreasonable hope for us to expect Kṛṣṇa to come back to Vṛndāvana. We should try instead to be happy in disappointment. Even Piṅgalā, the great prostitute, said that disappointment is the greatest pleasure. We all know these things, but it is very difficult for us to give up the expectation of Kṛṣṇa's coming back. Who can forget a solitary conversation with Kṛṣṇa, on whose chest the goddess of fortune always remains, in spite of Kṛṣṇa's not desiring her? My dear Uddhava, Vṛndāvana is the land of rivers, forests and cows. Here the vibration of the flute was heard, and Kṛṣṇa, along with His elder brother, Śrī Balarāma, enjoyed the atmosphere in our company. Thus the environment of Vṛndāvana constantly reminds us of Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma.
In fact, Dhṛtarāṣṭra had already usurped the kingdom and was now intriguing to dispose of the five Pāṇḍava brothers. Akrūra knew that all the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra, headed by Duryodhana, were very crooked politicians. Dhṛtarāṣṭra did not act in accordance with the good instructions given by Bhīṣma and Vidura; instead, he was being conducted by the ill instructions of such persons as Karṇa and Śakuni. Akrūra decided to stay in Hastināpura for a few months to study the whole political situation.
Gradually Akrūra learned from Kuntī and Vidura that the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra were intolerant and envious of the five Pāṇḍava brothers because of their extraordinary learning in military science and their greatly developed bodily strength. The Pāṇḍavas acted as truly chivalrous heroes, exhibited all the good qualities of kṣatriyas and were very responsible princes, always thinking of the welfare of the citizens.
When Kṛṣṇa entered the cave of the hill, Kālayavana followed, chastising Him with various harsh words. Kṛṣṇa suddenly disappeared from the demon's sight, but Kālayavana followed and also entered the cave. The first thing he saw was a man lying down asleep within the cave. Kālayavana was eager to fight with Kṛṣṇa, and when he could not see Kṛṣṇa but instead saw only a man lying down, he thought that Kṛṣṇa was sleeping within the cave. Kālayavana was very much puffed up and proud of his strength, and he thought Kṛṣṇa was avoiding the fight. Therefore, he strongly kicked the sleeping man, thinking him to be Kṛṣṇa. The sleeping man had been lying down for a very long time. When awakened by the kicking of Kālayavana, he immediately opened his eyes and began to look around in all directions. At last he saw Kālayavana standing nearby. The man had been untimely awakened and was therefore very angry, and when he looked upon Kālayavana in his angry mood, rays of fire emanated from his eyes, and Kālayavana burned to ashes within a moment.
Satrājit, however, did not come to see Kṛṣṇa; he was instead overwhelmed by the Syamantaka jewel. He installed the jewel in a temple to be worshiped by brāhmaṇas he engaged for this purpose. This is an example of a less intelligent person worshiping a material thing. In the Bhagavad-gītā it is stated that less intelligent persons, in order to get immediate results from their fruitive activities, worship the demigods created within this universe. The word "materialist" means one concerned with gratification of the senses within this material world. Although Kṛṣṇa later asked for this Syamantaka jewel, King Satrājit did not deliver it; on the contrary, he installed the jewel for his own purposes of worship. And who would not worship that jewel? The Syamantaka jewel was so powerful that daily it produced a large quantity of gold. A quantity of gold is counted by a measurement called a bhāra.
In the city, when Satrājit's younger brother Prasena did not return from the forest with the jewel, Satrājit became very upset. He did not know that his brother had been killed by a lion and that the lion had been killed by Jāmbavān. He thought instead that because Kṛṣṇa wanted that jewel, which had not been delivered to Him, Kṛṣṇa might have therefore taken the jewel from Prasena by force and killed him. This idea grew into a rumor, which Satrājit spread in every part of Dvārakā.
The false rumor that Kṛṣṇa had killed Prasena and taken away the jewel spread everywhere like wildfire. Kṛṣṇa did not like to be defamed in that way, and therefore He decided that He would go to the forest and find the Syamantaka jewel. Taking with Him some of the important inhabitants of Dvārakā, Kṛṣṇa went to search out Prasena, the brother of Satrājit, and found him dead, killed by the lion.
When Bāṇāsura saw that his soldiers and commanders had been defeated, his anger only increased. He thought it wise to stop fighting with Sātyaki, Kṛṣṇa's commander in chief, and instead directly attack Lord Kṛṣṇa. Now having the opportunity to use his one thousand arms, he rushed toward Kṛṣṇa, simultaneously working five hundred bows and two thousand arrows. Such a foolish person could never measure Kṛṣṇa's strength. Immediately, without difficulty, Kṛṣṇa cut each of Bāṇāsura's bows into two pieces and, to check him from going further, made the horses of his chariot lie on the ground so that the chariot broke to pieces. After doing this, Kṛṣṇa blew His conchshell, Pāñcajanya.
It appears from these statements of King Nṛga that persons who follow the principles of fruitive activities and derive some material benefits are not very intelligent. Being given the choice by the superintendent of death, Yamarāja, King Nṛga could have first accepted the results of his pious activities. Instead, he thought it better first to receive the effects of his impious activities and then enjoy the effects of his pious activities without disturbance. On the whole, he had not developed Kṛṣṇa consciousness. The Kṛṣṇa conscious person develops love of God, Kṛṣṇa, not love for pious or impious activities; therefore he is not subjected to the results of such action. As stated in the Brahma-saṁhitā, a devotee, by the grace of the Lord, is not subjected to the reactions of fruitive activities.
Because Sāmba took Lakṣmaṇā away from the assembly by force, all the members of the Kuru dynasty, such as Dhṛtarāṣṭra, Bhīṣma, Vidura and Arjuna, thought it an insult to their family tradition that the boy, Sāmba, could possibly have kidnapped their daughter. All of them knew that Lakṣmaṇā was not at all inclined to select him as her husband and that she was not given the chance to select her own husband; instead she was forcibly taken away by this boy. Therefore, they decided that he must be punished. They unanimously declared that he was most impudent and had degraded the Kurus' family tradition. Therefore, all of them, under the counsel of the elder members of the Kuru family, decided to arrest the boy but not kill him. They concluded that the girl could not be married to any boy other than Sāmba, since she had already been touched by him. (According to the Vedic system, once being touched by some boy, a girl cannot be married or given to any other boy. Nor would anyone agree to marry a girl who had already thus associated with another boy.)
You may know from Me that I am always sitting within your hearts as the Supersoul, and because you have now turned your faces toward Me, I, as master of everyone, shall always give you good counsel so that you may never forget Me and so that gradually you will come back home, back to Godhead. My dear kings, your decision to give up all conceptions of material enjoyment and turn instead toward My devotional service is factually the symptom of your good fortune. Henceforward you will always be blessed with blissful life. I confirm that all you have spoken about Me in your prayers is factual. It is a fact that the materially opulent position of one who is not fully Kṛṣṇa conscious is the cause of his downfall and his becoming a victim of the illusory energy. In the past there were many rebellious kings, such as Haihaya, Nahuṣa, Vena, Rāvaṇa and Narakāsura. Some of them were demigods and some of them demons, but because of their false perception of their positions, they fell from their exalted posts, and thus they no longer remained kings of their respective kingdoms and were lost in the violence of abominable conditioned life.
The amount of happiness and distress is already predestined for every living entity. No one can increase or decrease the happiness of the materialistic way of life. The brāhmaṇa, therefore, did not exert himself for more material happiness; instead, he used his time for advancement of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Externally he appeared very poor because he had no rich clothes and could not provide rich clothes for his wife. Because their material condition was not very opulent, they were not even eating sufficiently, and thus both he and his wife appeared very thin. The wife was not anxious for her personal comfort, but she felt concerned for her husband, who was such a pious brāhmaṇa. She trembled due to her weak health, and although she did not like to dictate to her husband, she spoke as follows.
This disciplic succession is called śrotriya. The prime symptom of one who has become a spiritual master in disciplic succession is that he is one hundred percent fixed in bhakti-yoga. Sometimes people neglect to accept a spiritual master, and instead they endeavor for self-realization by mystic yoga practice, but there are many instances of failure, even by great yogīs like Viśvāmitra. Arjuna said in the Bhagavad-gītā that controlling the mind is as impractical as stopping the blowing of a hurricane. Sometimes the mind is compared to a maddened elephant. Without following the direction of a spiritual master one cannot control the mind and the senses. In other words, if one practices yoga mysticism and does not accept a bona fide spiritual master, he will surely fail. He will simply waste his valuable time. The Vedic injunction is that no one can have full knowledge without being under the guidance of an ācārya.
Renunciation Through Wisdom
Only when the leaders of society center all their activities on the Supreme Lord, Viṣṇu, will these activities bring good fortune and benediction to the leaders themselves, as well as to their followers. But if the leaders avoid performing their activities for Lord Viṣṇu and instead pose as Lord Viṣṇu themselves—taking worship, wealth, and praise from their followers and returning the same to them as remnants—then others might become attracted by their pretentious renunciation and thus follow their path to doom. But nothing further will be achieved. Such leaders uselessly excite their ignorant sycophants, inducing them to perform many sinful activities. In this way such selfish leaders bring about their followers' doom simply to increase their own distinction, adoration, and wealth. Unfortunately, the leaders do not know that these miniscule portions of distinction, adoration, and wealth will be burned to ashes with their death. But the sinful methods used to acquire these temporary material advantages will beget results, which will then very subtly mix with their subtle body, namely mind,
Simply to offer the suffering people a sense-gratificatory cure that titillates their senses—this is not going to make them healthy. Rather, this will spread the disease further, and at one stage the doctor himself will be infected and finally die from it.
Forgetfulness of the Supreme Lord, Viṣṇu, is human society's real and original disease. So, if one does not treat this ailment but instead shows insincere and shallow concern for the patients, one might give them some momentary relief and pleasure, but ultimately such a course of action cannot cure them permanently. If the patient goes for proper medicine and diet but is instead administered bad medicine and diet, then he is certainly in the jaws of death.
Therefore we commit a serious mistake when we regard the different classes of men as belonging to particular countries or races. The Indian culture of today is restricted by the hereditary caste system and kept in the custody of narrow-minded people who are like frogs in a well. If instead India had spread the transcendental message of Bhagavad-gītā in the generous manner befitting a noble brāhmaṇa, then peace and tranquillity in this world would not be in such acutely short supply. By the propagation of brahminical culture, the world would have greatly prospered. Instead, the Vedic culture has been seriously maimed by the imposition of the hereditary caste system, and this has had grievously adverse effects on the world. The Supreme Lord in His incarnation as Lord Caitanya has opened many avenues to peaceful living by propagating the brahminical culture, which He calls the religion of the soul. Those who are fortunate can emulate His life, follow His divine teachings, and perfect their lives.
When presented with a colorful glass doll and a diamond, a child will naturally be attracted to the doll and not the priceless jewel. Similarly, the people of Kali-yuga, endowed as they are with limited intelligence, have rejected the priceless diamond of devotional service to Kṛṣṇa and instead chosen the cheap doll of fruitive activity and dry speculation. Just as the child cannot comprehend that the invaluable diamond can purchase many thousands of cheap glass dolls, so the less intelligent people of Kali-yuga cannot understand that kṛṣṇe bhakti kaile sarva-karma-kṛta haya: "By rendering transcendental devotional service to Lord Kṛṣṇa, one automatically performs all subsidiary activities."
Because of a lack of spiritual education, today's youth are undisciplined. Students who do not pray or meditate in the early morning, and again in the evening, gradually become agnostics, and their minds float about aimlessly without purpose. They reject religious ideas and ethics and instead embrace logic and argument as supreme. Often they fall into the vicious grip of some unscrupulous politician. The exclusion of religious courses from the universities is the main reason one does not see nowadays a pure and sublime relationship between student and teacher. Many educators feel the need for religious education today.
A few months ago (on January 18, 1957) we had the opportunity of meeting Dr. Ane at the Government House in Patna, and we had some discussions. Being a pious man, he could appreciate our spiritual topics and offered us full support for our missionary activities which are aimed at eradicating the demoniac mentality on a wide scale. His recent speech gives us hope of improvement.
A person becomes a "brāhmaṇa" just by slipping a holy thread over his head-indeed, such has been predicted in the scriptures—but this does not earn him any piety. Lord Caitanya rejected this kind of cheating varṇāśrama system. Foreseeing the degraded condition of Kali-yuga, Lord Kṛṣṇa hardly discusses varṇāśrama religion in the Bhagavad-gītā and instead stresses the performance of work as sacrifice. Hence it is clearly understood that by the performance of sacrifice for Lord Viṣṇu, the Supreme Person, He becomes satisfied and all ill effects are eradicated.
Persons afflicted by disease or other miseries are known as ārta, "the distressed." Commonly, a sick person depends on a doctor and medicine to cure his disease. But far-sighted scholars say that suffering of any kind is a result of sinful activities performed in the past. Ordinary people do not understand that sinful reactions result from ignorance. This ignorance exists in manifest (prārabdha), unmanifest (aprārabdha) and latent (kuṭashta) form.
As for those unfortunate souls who do not strive for the supreme goal of entering the eternal pastimes of the Supreme Lord and instead become attracted to the mundane practices of karma, jñāna, and yoga, which ultimately elevate one to the heavenly planets—such souls must once again take birth in this material world. Although they may reach a high status in this cosmic system, they must come down as if on a ferris wheel. Kṛṣṇa describes this phenomenon in the Bhagavad-gītā (8.16):
It is a heinous offence to try to diminish the position of Lord Kṛṣṇa because He appeared in a human form. The truth about His divine potency and supreme position should be learned from the self-realized spiritual master, the saintly souls, and the revealed scriptures.
Demonic persons fail to understand the real purpose of human life. Instead, they are always quick to try to diminish the supreme position of Lord Kṛṣṇa. Such atheists may have very high ambitions and may perform great, noble deeds, but because their ambitions and deeds are cut off from a loving relationship to Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Godhead, they are all useless. The demon Rāvaṇa wanted to reach heaven by constructing a stairway, but he failed. And all atheists' ambitions are like that. A zero placed next to the number one gives ten, a second zero makes one hundred, and so on. As long as the number one is there, the value keeps rising as the zeroes increase. But without the number one, any number of zeroes are valueless.
The neophyte Vaiṣṇava devotees' ringing the bell even once during worship of the Deity of the Supreme Lord is a million times more valuable, spiritually and otherwise, than the charitable fruitive workers building many hospitals, feeding thousands of the poor, or building homes, or even the empirical philosophers' Vedic studies, meditation, austerities, and penances.
The mahātmās have shown the perfect path of charity: devotional service to the Lord. If anyone ignores this path and instead builds hospitals, his effort to help humanity is a mere pretense. Humanity can never reap any permanent advantage from such activities. Indeed, the number of patients only increases along with the number of hospitals. And as for feeding the poor, this will never eradicate poverty, but encourage it. Frankly speaking, we are not against opening hospitals or feeding the poor, or any other such humanitarian service.
When he is inside the jail, all his activities are painful, but as a free citizen he feels content in everything he does. It is merely a matter of changing his character.
Similarly, even when the jīva refuses to serve the Supreme Energetic, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and instead serves His illusory energy, māyā, he remains a servant of the Lord. But in that condition he is ignorant of the bliss of devotional service to the Lord. Only when the jīva casts away his mundane characteristics can he experience transcendental joy in devotional service. Still, in no situation does the jīva ever give up his inherent nature as Kṛṣṇa's eternal servant, for he emanates from the Lord's marginal potency.
One who has taken his birth as a human being in the land of India (Bhārata-varṣa) should make his life successful and work for the benefit of all other people.
It is indeed true that Indians are especially able to benefit others world-wide. But if the Indians do not meet this responsibility and instead get enticed and bedazzled by the illusory energy as it is manifest in the West in such variegated forms, then they will become known as misers and end their lives in disgrace. The sun is not visible at night because of the rotation of the earth, yet the sun is very much present in the sky, and the entire solar system is working under its influence. Similarly, the light of India's knowledge, contained in the sublime philosophy of the Vedas, the Upaniṣads, the Vedānta-sūtra, the Purāṇas, the Gītā, and their corollaries, is certainly available, but by divine will it is temporarily beyond our view due to the influence of ignorance and passion.
Message of Godhead
Therefore, civic and other popular leaders should center their activities upon Viṣṇu, and by this act of transcendental work, they will themselves be benefited and shall be able to do good for their respective followers. If these leaders, including preachers and heads of state, do not perform this act of Vaiṣṇavism—and instead place themselves artificially in the exalted position of Viṣṇu, the supreme enjoyer—then they may indeed enjoy temporary gain, adoration, and mundane fame, and may delude their unfortunate followers from the right path by a false display of renunciation. But such materialistic, godless leaders will never be able to do any good for the ignorant souls who follow them like a flock of sheep to the slaughterhouse. By such leadership the leader himself is temporarily benefited, but the followers are put into the worst position. The leaders incite them toward false, illusory gain and thus engage them in various acts of sin.
Ordinarily, these mundaners cannot easily understand their eternal relationship with Kṛṣṇa. Instead, they themselves have posed as Kṛṣṇa, under the false inducement of the illusory energy. This false position of supreme enjoyer gives them much trouble as they search for lordship over the powers of nature, but still these mundaners cannot give up the spirit of lording it over. And when they pretend to give up the enjoying spirit, under the pressure of disappointment and frustration, they usually take shelter of pseudo renunciation, with an even greater spirit of enjoyment. The mundane workers, who are always desirous of enjoying the fruits of their mundane activities, suffer greatly under the pressing disadvantages of such activities, just like poor oxen tightly tethered to the grinding mill. But under a false pretense of "enjoyer" dictated by the illusory energy, they think themselves to be really enjoying.
Light of the Bhagavata
When such a prince became king, then too he was guided by the advice of good brāhmaṇas. Even in the Middle Ages, Mahārāja Candragupta was guided by the learned brāhmaṇa Cāṇakya Paṇḍita.
In a monarchy, one man sufficiently trained was competent enough to conduct alone the business of the state. But in a democracy no one is trained like a prince; instead, politicians are voted to responsible posts of administration by diplomatic arrangements. In place of one king or supreme executive officer, in a democracy there are so many quasi-kings: the president, the ministers, the deputy ministers, the secretaries, the assistant secretaries, the private secretaries, and the undersecretaries. There are a number of parties—political, social, and communal—and there are party whips, party whims, and so on. But no one is well enough trained to look after the factual interests of the governed. In a so-called democratic government, corruption is even more rampant than in an autocracy or monarchy.
Without good rains, grains cannot be produced, and therefore the people would offer sacrifices to Indra. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, however, stopped this age-old ceremony and advised His father to offer the same sacrifice to the Supreme Lord. His purpose was to teach that we need not satisfy the various demigods in charge of the various departments of cosmic affairs; instead we must offer sacrifices to the Supreme Lord, for the Lord is the master and all others are His servants. The famous anna-kūṭa ceremony, performed in Vṛndāvana especially and also in all other parts of India, was thus introduced by the Lord, and people still follow this path by worshiping Govardhana Hill, where the Lord used to take pleasure in tending cows. People also worship Giri Govardhana as identical with the Lord, because there is no difference between God and His paraphernalia and pastimes.
Such violators of religious principles have no respect for the authoritative ācāryas, the holy teachers in the strict disciplic succession. They ignore the Vedic injunction ācāryopāsana—"One must worship the ācārya"—and Kṛṣṇa's statement in the Bhagavad-gītā (4.2) evaṁ paramparā-prāptam, "This supreme science of God is received through the disciplic succession." Instead, to mislead the people in general they themselves become so-called ācāryas, but they do not even follow the principles of the ācāryas.
These rogues are the most dangerous elements in human society. Because there is no religious government, they escape punishment by the law of the state. They cannot, however, escape the law of the Supreme, who has clearly declared in the Bhagavad-gītā that envious demons in the garb of religious propagandists shall be thrown into the darkest regions of hell (Bg. 16.19-20).
No one can dominate Kṛṣṇa. It is the conditioned soul who tries to dominate material nature and is instead subjected to the laws of material nature and the sufferings of repeated birth and death. The Lord comes here to reestablish the principles of religion, and the basic principle is the development of an attitude of surrender to Him. This is the Lord's last instruction in the Bhagavad-gītā (18.66): sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja. "Give up all other processes and just surrender unto Me alone." Unfortunately, foolish men have misinterpreted this prime teaching and misled the masses of people in diverse ways. People have been urged to open hospitals but not to educate themselves to enter into the spiritual kingdom by devotional service.