by Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Although in this age people do not even know who God is, Lord Caitanya came to freely distribute love of Godhead.
namne gaura-tvise namah
“O most munificent incarnation! You are Krsna Himself appearing as Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu. You have assumed the golden color of Srimati Radharani, and You are widely distributing pure love of Krsna. We offer our respectful obeisances unto You.” (Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya 19.53)
Caitanya Mahaprabhu wanted to preach love of Krsna, love of God, not only in India but all over the world. Different religions have many different names of God, and in the Vedic scriptures there are many demigods and incarnations of God. But Krsna is the original name of God. As said in the Srimad-Bhagavatam [1.3.28], ete camsa-kalah pumsah krsnas tu bhagavan svayam. There is a list of incarnations, and at the conclusion of the list the Bhagavatam says, “In this long list there are many names, but Krsna is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
God is not like us He can expand Himself Even some yogis (not these ordinary, third-class yogis), but those who have attained yogic perfection) can expand their bodies up to at most eight times. There are instances of yogis doing that. So if an ordinary yogi can do that, just imagine how much potency the Supreme Lord has for expanding Himself!
In the Bhagavad-gita [18.61] Krsna says, isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese ‘rjuna tisthati: “My dear Arjuna, the Supreme Lord is situated in every living being’s heart.” Just imagine how many living entities there are! They cannot be counted. There are many millions of trillions, but even millions of trillions is insufficient. There is no counting them. Yet they are all part and parcel of God, and He is living within the heart of all of them. This is the unlimited potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Consider the sunshine, the sun globe, and the sun-god. The sun-god is within the sun globe, and the inhabitants of the sun globe are all glowing, luminous. On account of their bodies’ glowing, the whole sun planet is glowing. And on account of the sun planet’s glowing, the sunshine reaches us from ninety-three million miles away, and we perceive heat and light. The sun is an ordinary, material thing, but it has such great power.
So just imagine what is the potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead! Actually, we cannot imagine what great energy He has. We cannot even estimate the temperature of the sun globe. We may try to approach the sun globe in our rockets, but before reaching it we will be finished. The temperature is so high; everyone knows it.
Now, if an ordinary thing like the sun globe is so powerful, how much more powerful must be the Supreme Personality of Godhead! We say, “God is almighty, all-powerful,” but we have no idea what is meant by “all-powerful.” We think, “I am somewhat powerful, so God may be ten times as powerful as I am.” Somebody else may say “twenty times.” “All right, let us compromise fifty times.” (Laughter.)
This kind of speculation is like the frog’s speculation within the well. Once there was a frog within a well, and one of his friends came to him and said, “My dear friend, I have seen a vast mass of water, the Atlantic Ocean.”
“What is that Atlantic Ocean?”
“It is vast.”
“How vast? Is it ten times bigger than this well? Or twenty times? Come on!” [Laughter.]
“No, no, it is very, very vast.”
So, the rascal speculation about God is like the speculation of the frog about the Atlantic Ocean. These mundane philosophers and scientists are thinking of God in that way. Dr. Frog’s philosophy. Dr. Frog’s philosophy will not help you understand what God is.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s preaching was to distribute love of God. This human life is especially meant for understanding what God is and loving Him. That’s all. This is our only business. The cats and dogs and other lower animals if you preach to them about Krsna consciousness, they will not understand. But human beings can understand. For example, this Krsna consciousness movement is being spread all over the world, and as you can see, here in your country people are understanding. That is the special advantage of human life.
One Christian priest in Boston was astonished to see our devotees. He issued a leaflet saying, “These Hare Krsna boys are our boys. Before they joined this movement, they did not care to see us or come to the church, but now they are mad after God.” So this movement is certified by a Christian priest.
And actually, you can see the potency of Lord Caitanya’s movement. I am a poor Indian; I came to America with forty rupees. I had no money to bribe these young people. [Laughter.] But now they are mad after God. It is practical. Now if you try to bribe them to leave this movement, they will not go. Many fathers and mothers have tried to induce them to go home, but they are not going.
So, what is the intoxication? These boys and girls have given up all intoxication, but they are now “intoxicated” with “Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna.” This is the mercy of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. A draft-board officer came to see one of our centers. He said, “What is the facility you have given these boys who have joined the Hare Krsna movement? It must be much easier than the army.” But when he investigated, he saw that these boys and girls are prohibited from engaging in illicit sex, intoxication, meat-eating, and gambling. So he concluded that this movement is actually harder than the army. The army does not make these restrictions, which are very, very difficult to follow. But by the mercy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu these boys and girls are following them.
Every human being should accept the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. That is the purport of the verse Rupa Gosvami offered to Lord Caitanya upon first seeing Him: namo maha-vadanyaya. “You are the most munificent incarnation of God.” Why? “You are distributing krsna-prema, love of God. People do not know what God is, yet You are distributing love of Godhead.”
Ordinarily one cannot love anybody unless he knows the other party very well. Only then is there a question of love. If you and I live ten thousand miles apart, there is no question of love. For love there must be intimacy.
So, to understand God is very difficult. In the (Bhagavad-gita 7.3), Krsna says,
kascid yatati siddhaye
yatatam api siddhanam
kascin mam vetti tattvatah
“Out of many millions of persons, one is interested in making his life perfect. And out of all those who are actually perfect, hardly one knows Me as I am.”
Perfection does not mean that I can eat whatever I like, without any restriction. Or that I have a very nice car, a very nice apartment, and a big bank balance. This is not perfection, because I remain under the grip of the laws of material nature. Prakrteh kriyamanani gunaih karmani sarvasah. Material nature is controlling me.
How is the material nature controlling? She has a machine made of the three modes of nature. Karanam guna-sango ‘sya sad-asad-yoni-janmasu. People are contacting these three modes of nature and thus being “infected.” We know that if we contract some disease, knowingly or unknowingly, that disease will develop. This is the law of nature. Even if you do not know when or how you contracted a particular disease, that is no excuse. You must suffer.
Similarly, there are three modes of material nature one can become “infected” by goodness, passion, and ignorance. Not knowing about this is no excuse. If in the law court you say, “Your Honor, I did not know I would be punished for stealing,” the magistrate or judge will not excuse you. And if the government law is so strict, you can imagine how strict are the stringent laws of material nature.
Knowingly or unknowingly, in this life we are being infected by a particular combination of the modes of material nature and thus creating our next body. There are 8,400,000 different varieties of life forms. Why? The answer is in the Bhagavad-gita: karanam guna-sangah. There are so many different species of life because each living entity is becoming infected with a particular combination of the qualities of material nature. This is going on perpetually. “Perpetually” means we do not know when this process began or when it will end. Therefore we say it is perpetual.
So, in this human form of life we have the great advantage of being able to study all these things what is the living entity, how he is being infected by material nature, and how he is taking different bodies. The first thing we must understand is that we are not the body. Therefore in the very beginning of the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna tries to impress upon us that we are not this body but rather the owner or occupier of the body. This is His first instruction. If we understand this instruction, we can rise above the bodily platform.
Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s movement is not on the bodily platform; it is on the spiritual platform. This He explained when He talked with Sanatana Gosvami. Sanatana asked, “What is my identity?” He was a very learned man a minister and a brahmana. He knew Sanskrit and Urdu very well. Because the kingdom he lived in was Mohammedan, Urdu was the state language, just as during the British period the state language was English. So, Sanatana was quite conversant with Urdu, Farsi, and Sanskrit. Therefore he said to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, “Ordinary people address me as panditji, a very learned man, but I know my position. I do not know what I am. This is my position.”
Now, if you ask a big, big doctor, scientist, or philosopher, “What are you?” he will say, “I am an Indian,” “I am an American,” “I am this, I am that.” Bodily designations, that’s all. He is fool number one, and still he is passing as a great scientist, a great philosopher.
If one does not know himself, what is the value of his learning? One must know his own identity. Everyone is identifying with his body: “I am Hindu,” “I am Muslim,” “I am Christian,” “I am Indian,” “I am American,” “I am German,” “I am English.” This is why so much fighting is going on. The living entity is part and parcel of God, a spiritual spark covered by a material body. For example, we are all human beings covered by different clothes. That does not mean we are different. We are one as human beings, as inhabitants of this earth. But due to our different bodily dress, I am thinking you are my enemy, and you are thinking I am your enemy.
The Bhagavatam’s conclusion is yasyatma-buddhih kunape tri-dhatuke sva-dhih kalatradisu bhauma ijya-dhih. . . sa eva go-kharah: “Anyone who is identifying himself with his body, and also with the land his body has taken birth in, is no better than an ass or a cow.” Everyone is thinking, ‘This land of my birth is worshipable.” And from this mentality comes nationalism or this “ism” or that “ism.” But no one thinks, “How long shall-I be allowed to occupy this body and this land?” This is ignorance.
So, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s movement starts from the understanding that we are spirit souls, eternal servants of Krsna. This is the same teaching as Krsna’s in the Bhagavad-gita. There the Lord says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: “Give up your so-called man-made duties, or dharmas, and just surrender unto Me.” This is real dharma, or religion to surrender to God.
God is one. He is neither Hindu nor Muslim nor Christian. The Vedic injunction is ekam brahma dvitiyam nasti: “God is one; He cannot be two.” So whether you are Hindu, Muslim, or Christian, God is one. This is to be understood.
Krsna consciousness is the science of God. Try to understand scientifically what you are and what God is and what religion is. That is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s teaching. He begins His teachings to Sanatana Gosvami by saying jivera ‘svarupa’ haya krsnera ‘nitya-dasa’: “Every living being is an eternal servant of God.” This is religion. Religion does not mean stamping oneself as a Hindu, a Muslim, or a Christian. No. Religion means to know that God is great and that we are subordinate to Him and maintained by Him. This is religion. If anyone simply knows these things that God is great and we are subordinate, and that our duty is to abide by the orders of God he is religious.
Unity can be established on the spiritual platform, not on the bodily platform. The United Nations is trying to unite the nations of the world, but every year the number of flags is increasing. This kind of so-called unity will never be successful. The United Nations was established many years ago to bring unity among nations. So, what has it done? It has not done anything, nor can it do anything.
If you want to be united, you have to be united on the spiritual platform. And what is that spiritual platform? The spiritual platform means to understand thoroughly that. God is great, that we are subordinate, and that God is maintaining us. All the property everywhere belongs to God, and while we can use our father’s property as much as we require, we should not take more than we need and stock it.
The birds are a good example. If you put a bag of rice here, the birds will come and eat a few grains and go away. But if you put, say, one thousand bags of. wheat here and declare that anyone can take them, there will be a fight. Everyone will try to take as much as he can carry. This is human civilization: “Oh, there is so much wheat. Let me take as much as possible and stock it for tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Let me stock it for my son, my grandson, and my great-grandson.” [Laughter.]
This foolishness is going on because of a lack of spiritual consciousness. As stated in the Vedas, isavasyam idam sarvam: “Everything belongs to God.” The food belongs to God, the mine belongs to God, the ocean belongs to God, the, land belongs to God, the air belongs to God everything belongs to God. So we should feel obliged to God that He has given us so much for our maintenance. We should take as much as we need and use as much as possible in His service. This is Krsna consciousness.
Krsna consciousness is actually perfect communism. The communists think in terms of the human beings within the state, but a Krsna conscious person thinks in terms of all living beings. In the Bhagavatam it is stated that a householder, before taking his lunch, should call out on the street: “If anyone is hungry, please come to my place and eat!” And he should see that in his household even the lizard does not go hungry. Even a snake should not go hungry. This is the Vedic principle, God consciousness. The householder thinks, “Somehow or other some living entity has taken a snake’s body. So at my house why should he remain hungry? Let me give him some food.” Nobody likes snakes, but in the scripture it is said that one should see to it that even a snake does not go hungry.
Of course, this is a very high ideal, but it is the complete ideal of real communism. It is not that national leaders should be concerned only with human beings. The definition of native is “one who takes birth in a particular nation.” So, the cow is also a native. Then why should the cow be slaughtered? The cow is giving milk and the bull is working for you, and then you slaughter them? What is this philosophy? In the Christian religion it is clearly stated, “Thou shalt not kill.” Yet most of the slaughterhouses are in the Christian countries.
This is all a misunderstanding of spiritual life. Every animal should be. given protection. That is the Vedic idea. Otherwise, by killing, killing, killing, you become entangled in sinful activities. Therefore now the women are killing their own children in the womb. This is going on.
We cannot be happy in this way, because we shall become more and more entangled in sinful actions and their resultant reactions. Then we will have to take various types of bodies, perpetually.
Therefore, we have begun this Krsna consciousness movement. By taking advantage of this movement, people can awaken to God consciousness, stop sinful activities, and become purified. Without becoming purified, one cannot understand God. It is not possible. As Krsna says in the (Bhagavad-gita 7.28)
yesam tv anta-gatam papam
bhajante mam drdha-vratah
“One who is completely free from sinful life can take to devotional service.”
That is why we have prescribed four regulative principles: no illicit sex, no meat-eating, no gambling, and no intoxication. Especially in your country, America, you have so many nice vegetables, fruits, grains, and milk products. So why should you kill the cow? You have taken our prasadam feasts. How delicious they are! So why kill the cow?
Sometimes people argue that vegetables also have life. Yes, we admit this. But that is why we eat only prasadam, food offered to Krsna before being eaten. Whatever Krsna leaves, we take. This is our process. We don’t take directly. So, while the vegetables have life, Krsna says, patram puspam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayacchati tad aham . . . asnami: “If one lovingly offers Me a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or water, I will accept it.” Then there is no sin in eating the vegetables.
We have invited Krsna as our guest, and He has consented to come here. So we must offer Him the foods He wants. That is proper etiquette. If some respectable guest comes to your house, you should ask him, “What would you like to eat, sir?” Whatever he asks for, you have to supply. That is the real way of receiving a guest.
So Krsna says, “Give Me food among these items: fruits, vegetables, grains, and milk products. And that also with devotion, not neglectfully. Then I will accept it.” Therefore we prepare hundreds of items with these ingredients and offer them to Krsna, and you can also do that. They are all delicious and full of vitamins. Then why should you unnecessarily kill the poor animals and become vicious and sinful?
This is, Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s teaching: Live peacefully, be a gentleman, realize God, and make your life happy in this world and the next. He wanted this teaching spread to every town, every city, every village in the world. And the Hare Krsna movement is just trying to serve Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. You can see how beneficial this Krsna consciousness is. Please don’t be blind, but try to consider it a little liberally, without any what is it called? sophistry. Without any bias or prejudice. Don’t be carried away by prejudice. Try to understand the philosophy of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and be happy.
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust