In the following lecture, given on January 27th, 1975 in Tokyo, Srila Prabhupada points to the experience the Japanese people have with earthquakes to underscore the point that the suffering living entities can only rely on the mercy of the Lord:
Srila Prabhupada: "Suppose you are on the sea and it is going to sink in the water. Will you be happy? No. That time we chant Hare Krsna. Sukhe… Duhkhe saba hari bhaje, sukhe bhaje kaya.(?) When we are in danger… In Japan you have got many times the experience of earthquake, earthquake. What do you do at that time? Huh? You all Japanese boys and girls, what do you do? Have you experienced earthquake? You have? What do you do at that time? (pauses waiting for an answer) When there is earthquake, what do you do? Hmm? But I have seen in America. They all, everyone, they scream. And perhaps they remember about God. Naturally they will remember, "God save us. God save us."
Bhagavad-gita 16.7, January 27, 1975, Tokyo
Nitai: "…that the demons do not know the scriptural rules, not do they have any inclination to follow them. Prabhupada: So the human being…
pravrttim ca nivrttim ca
jana na vidur asurah
na saucam napi cacaro
na satyam tesu vidyate
In the human form of life there are two classes of men. First of all living being. Amongst the living being there are some living being which can move or can walk from one place to another. And there are certain other living beings which cannot move, just like the trees, plants. They are also living being, but they are standing in one place for many thousands of years. They have no independence to move. Now, in the moving living beings there are so many. The flies, the insects, the reptiles, the birds, the beast. In this way, by evolutionary process, one after another, one comes to the form of human being. This human being is therefore very, very rare. After going through 8,400,000 species of life, one comes to this human form of life.
So here is the chance of getting freedom from this evolutionary process. Bahunam janmanam ante. After many, many births, we have got. Why? Now, to become civilized. What is civilization? Civilization… The Aryans are called civilized. Why? Aryan means going forward. And what is the destination of going forward? The destination is to understand the original cause of creation, God. Janmady asya yatah. That is the Vedanta philosophy. Janmady asya yatah. The original cause from where everything is coming into being, by whose management everything is maintained, and after annihilation everything will enter into Him–that is the original person. So human form of life is meant for understanding the original cause of all causes. That is human form of life. Inquisitiveness. And others, less than human being, just like lower animals, cats and dogs, not to speak of the trees and plants… They are standing in one place, and other living beings, even the insects, birds, beasts, they haven't got sufficient intelligence. (aside:) No, this water, drinking. Sufficient intelligence to understand "What I am? Why I am suffering?" Everyone is suffering. That's a fact. The whole struggle for existence is going on.
Just like just now two big directors of this Dai Nippon Company came to see me. We have got business with them. So they are meeting so many problems for printing work. They are maintaining about 200,000 people to carry on their business, huge establishment, huge responsibility. But there are problems also. So this material world is full of problem. One who understands, he is called sura, or civilized man. And one who does not understand, he is called asura. Asura, not sura. Aryan, non-Aryan. So amongst the suras, those who can understand the problems of life, there is a system which is called religion. And what is the purpose of religion? Religion is to understand what is God. That is religion. Dharmam tu saksad bhagavat-pranitam.
So all over the world the civilized man has got some religion. It may be professing the Vedic religion, somebody the Buddhic scriptures. Just in your country, most of you, you are Buddhists. There are similarly Mohammedan scriptures, Christian scriptures. But in each and every scripture there is rules and regulation to follow to become more and more aware of the topmost principle, the original cause of all causes. That is, means, religion. So one who does not care to understand this philosophy, they are called asura. And one who understands this philosophy of life, they are called sura or devata, god, demigods, they are called.
Dvau bhuta-sargau loke daiva asura eva ca. There are two kinds of men throughout the whole universe. There are men in other planets also, they are very highly elevated. They are therefore called devas, or demigods. The moon planet, the sun planet… There are many other heavenly planets. There is sun-god. In the Bhagavad-gita you will find the name of the sun-god, or the predominating deity of the sun planet, Vivasvan. His name is Vivasvan. Everything you will find in the sastra. So there are two divisions: asura and sura, or asura or deva. Devasura. Deva means those who are conscious of the responsibility of life. They are called deva. So for the devas, Krsna has explained so many things. Now He is explaining about the asuras. What are the symptoms of asura? He says first of all, pravrttim ca nivrttim ca jana na vidur asurah. Pravrttim nivrttim.
Now, as soon as we have got this human form of life, we have got different desires or we accept something as very nice. We reject something as not very good. This discriminating power is there. Even in animals there is this discriminating power. Just like a pig. A pig, if you give him halava and if you give him stool, he would like to eat stool than the halava. You will find it, natural. He has got natural inclination to eat stool. And a human being will be naturally inclined to take halava. So this is called pravrtti and nivrtti. So the member of the Krsna consciousness society, if you offer him tea, he will not take it. And others, if you offer tea, he will very gladly accept it. This is called pravrtti and nivrtti. So the pravrtti and nivrtti… Why a person is not accepting tea or smoking or something else, and why other person accepting the same thing? Amongst the animal also, you give something to animal. He will reject and another thing he will accept. These two things are there in every living being: accepting something and rejecting something. This is called pravrtti and nivrtti. So far the human form of life is concerned, there must be some pravrtti and nivrtti. There is that inclination, pravrtti and nivrtti, but they should be synchronized, systematized, what things we should accept and what things we should reject. That we must learn. Therefore we have got so many books, literature, education, what things we should accept and which things we should reject. But what is the basic principle? Why I shall accept something and reject something?
The basic principle is to go forward in our spiritual understanding. That is the basic principle. We are suffering in this material world. We may say that "We have no suffering. It is very pleasing," but actually, in every step we are suffering. Just like this is winter season. To take bath in the winter season is suffering. And in the summer season, to take bath in the summer season, it is very pleasing. So either we are suffering or we are enjoying according to different season and circumstances, but actually we are suffering. Because… Take this winter season. We do not want chilly cold. Therefore we are covering. The cause is we are suffering. Therefore we are covering. And after covering, we are feeling some pleasure. This pleasure is, for the time being, absence of suffering. That's all. Actually, we are suffering, but by some arrangement, when we stop that suffering for the time being and feel, enjoying, that is material enjoyment. Actually there is no enjoyment. Because in the winter season by covering the body we are feeling pleased but in the summer season by covering the body we feel not pleased. So this is going on. So rejecting and… Why the same dress, warm dress, does not give us pleasure in the summer season? And the same dress, in the winter season it gives us pleasure. So we do not know whether dress is pleasing or suffering. Means sometimes it is pleasing and sometime it is displeasing.
Similarly water. We do not know whether water is pleasing or displeasing. Sometimes it is pleasing; sometimes it is not pleasing. Everything. Matra-sparsas tu kaunteya sitosna-sukha-duhkha-dah. So in this material world, actually we are suffering either in summer season or winter season, or any other season, with dress or without dress, with water, not water. The cause is going on, suffering only, but we are trying to cover this cause of suffering, and by temporary stopping the cause of suffering, we are thinking that we are enjoying. But actually there is no enjoying in this material world because you will find in the Bhagavad-gita this material world has been described as duhkhalayam asasvatam. It is for suffering. Even if you do not take very seriously about this winter season or summer season, suffering or enjoying, at the end, either you accept these temporary sufferings and enjoying… Ultimately we are suffering. Ultimately we are suffering. How? Because we will have to die. Who wants death? Does anyone want death voluntarily? No. As soon as there is any cause of death, immediate death, we become very much sorry. Suppose you are sitting in a airplane and you understand, "Now it is going to be crashed," are you…, will you be happy? No. Why? Because you are going to die.
Suppose you are on the sea and it is going to sink in the water. Will you be happy? No. That time we chant Hare Krsna. Sukhe… Duhkhe saba hari bhaje, sukhe bhaje kaya.(?) When we are in danger… In Japan you have got many times the experience of earthquake, earthquake. What do you do at that time? Huh? You all Japanese boys and girls, what do you do? Have you experienced earthquake? You have? What do you do at that time? (pauses waiting for an answer) When there is earthquake, what do you do? Hmm? But I have seen in America. They all, everyone, they scream. And perhaps they remember about God. Naturally they will remember, "God save us. God save us." What is your…? That means that we do not wish to die. That's a fact. You cannot say that death is very good thing. Nobody will say. Death… But we have to die. There is no excuse, that "I shall not die." Death is "as sure as death," they say. But you don't want death. This is suffering.
Not only death, even in lifetime… Just like we are old man. Who wants to become old man? Everyone wants to remain youthful. This is undesirable. This is suffering, actually suffering, because we are old man. We suffering so many diseases, so many inconveniences. If I am not helped by three, four men, then I cannot move even. So this is suffering. Old age is suffering. And diseased condition. Apart from death and old age, the diseased condition. Suppose you are suffering from some disease, some fever. So this is inevitable. You cannot avoid disease, you cannot avoid old age, you cannot avoid death, and you cannot avoid birth. So suffering… The whole material world is full of suffering. Duhkhalayam asasvatam. And even if you make it… Suppose at any place you are living it is not very comfortable, but if you are assured that you will not die, you will not be diseased, you will not become old, you will not take birth again–if there is no death, there is no question of birth–so even if you are assured of…it is called? Immunity from these sufferings, still, there are many other sufferings.
Suppose you are not thinking very well. Today my mind is very disturbed. That is called adhyatmika. I have got some pain in my body. That is also adhyatmika. Some friend or some animal has done some mischief to me.That is also suffering, adhibhautika. And adhidaivika. The earthquake. Nobody wants earthquake, but there is earthquake. This is adhidaivika. There is famine. There is pestilence. There is so many thing. So even if we are assured that we are not going to die, still, there are other sufferings. And, of course, there is no question of not dying. Everyone will have to die. Even you accept this place of suffering and if you are assured that you will live here permanently, still, you become happy, "All right, I will not die." But that is also not possible. Therefore asasvatam. Even if you make your arrangement very nicely that you will not suffer, but you will not be allowed to stay. Now just like in Tokyo city we are making very big, big buildings, everywhere, all over the world, to live very comfortably. But that comfortable life is also not assured because you will have to die. You will have to die. Therefore it is called asasvatam, not permanent. Even if you are under the impression that "I am very happy," that happiness also will not be allowed you for eternal time, it will be finished.
So there is no question of happy life within this material world. This is to be understood first. Very pessimistic. Those who are intelligent, they are very pessimistic. Even materially they are pessimistic. They are living some standard of life. "This is not good." There are many houses very low and cottage, so people think that "This is not very good life. Let us have very nice building." So this struggle is going on. That is human nature, that unless, until he approaches the final post or platform of happiness, he is not happy. That is called struggle for existence and survival of the fittest. So sura and (sic:) asura means those who are trying to reach the ultimate goal of life where happiness is guaranteed, one who is trying for that, he is called sura, devata. And one who is satisfied with this temporary so-called happiness, he is called asura. That is the difference.
Now, if you want to reach to the ultimate goal of life, where only blissful life, sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah, eternal body of knowledge and bliss, then you have to become sura. It is not that the asuras will remain asura. It doesn't matter. Even born in the asura family one can become sura. Just like Prahlada Maharaja. His father was asura, but he was perfect sura. That is possible. It is not prohibited to anyone. If he wants to become sura… Just like in ordinary life also. If you are determined to become medical man, you can become. There is no impediment. If you are persistent, you can become medical man, engineer, or anything. People are trying, education. Similarly, if you want to become sura, there is no impediment, and there is no obstacle. You can become. Simply you have to know what sort of life we should accept, pravrtti–this is called pravrtti–and what sort of life we should reject. This is required. This is the distinction between sura and asura.
Just like these European, American, boys. before coming to my shelter, they were doing everything. We prohibit illicit sex. We prohibit intoxication. We prohibit meat-eating. We prohibit gambling. So these boys and girls were accustomed to all these habits, pravrtti. But they have now changed their pravrtti because they want to become sura. They want to achieve the ultimate goal of life. One may not know what mode of life we should accept. One may not know what mode of life we should reject, but in the sastra, in the teachings of great men, learned scholars, things are there. We have to accept. We may not know, but we should accept. The Krsna consciousness movement is for this purpose, to change the pravrtti nivrtti. Just like there is pravrtti for meat-eating. We are advising, "Please do not eat meat." This is nivrtti. Before that, they do not know what is the difference between meat-eating and not meat-eating. But now they are understanding. Therefore they are becoming sura. One who adopts the methods… And why one should eat meat at all?
Just like in our… You have taken. Some of you might have taken prasadam here. So how nicely they have made. Our Bhanu is expert in making nice prasadam. These boys, these American boys and European boys and some Japanese boys, they have adopted this means. They are happy. So everyone can become sura. There is no… Krsna says… It is not it is hackneyed. If somebody says, "Oh, he is born in the asura family. He shall remain as asura," no, no, that is not shastric injunction. He can be improved. He can become a sura. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gita, You will find. Mam hi partha vyapasritya ye 'pi syuh papa-yonayah. Papa-yonayah. The asuras are called papa-yoni. Papa-yoni means born in low-grade family. But Krsna says,
mam hi partha vyapasritya
ye 'pi syuh papa-yonayah
striyo vaisyas tatha sudras
te 'pi yanti param gatim
So there is no question of papa-yoni or asura. If one wants to become asura and devata he can become. Otherwise, why Krsna says, mam hi partha vyapasritya ye 'pi syuh? They…
In India they sometimes come to fight with me that I am making these papa-yoni, namely, the Europeans and Americans… They are considered by the rigid Hindus as a papa-yoni. "They cannot become." But why Krsna says, mam hi partha vyapasritya ye 'pi syuh papa-yonayah? Te 'pi yanti param gatim. So everyone has got the chance. Even he is born in a papa-yoni, everyone… Otherwise, why Krsna will say, te 'pi yanti param gatim? Simply the condition is: mam hi partha vyapasritya: "One should take to Krsna consciousness fully. Never mind wherever he is born. He can be also transferred to the spiritual world."
So this is our movement, Krsna consciousness movement is like that. It doesn't matter whether one is sura or asura. Sura… Krsna also says,
kim punar brahmanah punya
bhakta rajarsayas tatha
(anityam) asukham lokam
imam prapya bhajasva mam
Simply if we take to Krsna consciousness, it does not matter whether we are born in papa-yoni or punya-yoni. Punya-yoni, those who are born in punya-yoni, in nice family, for them it is very easy and natural. But even those who are born in asura family… Just like Prahlada Maharaja became a great devotee. He is one of the authorities of devotees. But his father was asura. Asura does not mean one community is simply asura, and other community is simply sura. No, that is not. Any community, any person, if he follows the principle of sura, he becomes sura. If he follow the principles of asura, even if he was born in sura family, then he is asura. These are the injunction of the sastra.
People do not know it. So we Krsna consciousness movement, we are simply trying to make the asuras as sura. This is our movement. Anyone who is not devotee, he is asura. It doesn't matter whether he is born in some country or some family. It doesn't matter. If he is not a devotee of Krsna, then he is asura. When we speak of Krsna, Krsna means God. Anyone who is nondevotee of God, who is not God conscious, he is asura. That is the injunction. Visnu-bhakto bhaved daiva asuras tad-viparyayah. This is the distinction. Devata means visnu-bhakta, great devotee of the Supreme Lord. Visnu means the Supreme Lord, all-pervading. Visnu-bhakto bhaved daiva asuras tad… And those who are not devotees, Godless, without any God consciousness, they are all asuras. So this movement is to make asuras as suras.
Then what is the advantage of becoming sura and asura? If you become a sura, then you become fit for entering into the kingdom of God, back to home, back to Godhead. But if you remain asura, then you have to remain in this material world, which is duhkhalayam asasvatam, full of miseries and temporary. So we don't say anyone asura and sura, but, we understand from the sastra anyone who takes to Krsna consciousness, whatever he may be, he becomes a sura. Even if he is born in asura family, it doesn't matter. Just like Prahlada Maharaja. His father was a asura, but still, he became the first-class sura. Similarly, everyone can become first-class sura. They have to be trained. The asuras, they… Therefore it is said that pravrttim ca nivrttim ca jana na vidur asurah. Asuras, the fault is, asuras, they do not know how to live a very happy and clean life. They do not know. Acara. Na saucam napi cacarah. They have not cleanliness and good behavior.
So therefore we are teaching cleanliness. "You rise early in the morning. Take your bath." He must be clean immediately. He rises early in the morning, evacuating. He takes his bath. Immediately becomes cleansed, saucam. Sattvam saucam samo damas titiksa. These are the qualification of brahmana or the suras. But they do not know it. Therefore we are training, "Rise early in the morning. Chant Hare Krsna. Have mangala-arati." This is acara. This is acara. By practicing this, you can see the distinction between ordinary men or our men. Anyone, practically you will see. In America they are surprised. Although they are Americans, they inquire, "Are you Americans?" Because there, in America, there is no such thing. Any inquisitive person inquires. The priest said that "These boys, they are our boys, and they never came to church to inquire about what is God. Now they are mad after God. What is this?" Because they have become suras by training. By training. So asuras can be turned into suras. There is no difficulty. Provided they abide by the rules and regulation, orders of the spiritual master, they can be suras. Because they do not know… Na saucam napi cacaro na satyam tesu vidyate. They do not know what is satyam. Satyam param dhimahi. Therefore we are teaching them Srimad-Bhagavatam, satyam param dhimahi, the ultimate truth. They do not know what is satyam. This is the movement, to give them education to understand what is the Absolute Truth, satyam param dhimahi, to teach them how to behave in life, how to become purified in life. This is very scientific movement. If anyone wants actually to become sura, the perfect man, they must join this Krsna consciousness movement. Then his life will be successful. Thank you very much.