The Krishna Consciousness Movement:
An Open Invitation
“If I say that I’ll give you a nice body, a youthful body, an eternal body, full of knowledge, would you not like to have it?”
“Bhagavad-gita is the universal book of knowledge,” Srila Prabhupada informs us in a talk recorded in Visakhapatnam, India, on February 20, 1972, “--and our Krishna consciousness movement is based on this Bhagavad-gita. We have not manufactured anything. It is the same thing, which is very, very old. At least from the historical point of view, it is five thousand years old--but from the scriptural point of view, it is more than forty millions of years old….”
Srila Prabhupada continues in a talk recorded in Bombay, on November 28, 1974, “This is a universal movement--Krishna consciousness--because it is concerned with the soul, with consciousness…. Consciousness belongs to the soul; it is the symptom of the presence of the soul. At present, the soul is in your body, so if I pinch your body, then you will feel--because of consciousness--pains or pleasure. But as soon as the soul is gone out of the body, if I chop up your body with a dagger, you will not protest--the consciousness is gone... So Krishna advises that consciousness is eternal. Therefore, we have to purify our consciousness. Then our life is successful.”
During a radio interview recorded in San Francisco, on March 9, 1968, Srila Prabhupada explains to a host at KGO, “Even if you go to the highest planetary system, again you have to come back. In this way, all living entities are rotating from one planet to another, from one species of life to another. But we don't want this, actually. If I say that I’ll give you a nice body, a youthful body, an eternal body, full of knowledge, would you not like to have it? Nobody likes old age, nobody likes death--nobody likes to die. Nobody likes to take birth again, to enter into the womb of a mother and live there nine months. You are tightly packed---nobody likes that.
“But what is the solution? Is there any solution from the scientists? No scientist can say, ‘Well, all right--we shall stop death--we shall stop disease.’ They can manufacture nice medicine to counteract disease. But they cannot manufacture anything which will stop disease. You can fight against death very nicely. But you cannot stop death. These are the real problems. But there is no education in this modern civilization regarding how to stop death, how to stop disease, how to stop old age, how to stop birth--how to attain eternal life, how to attain blissful life. They have no education.
“But this Krishna consciousness movement--although it appears a new movement in your country, it is known to the world. But nobody had previously attempted to put these ideas and movement into practical shape. So that I am doing. That I am attempting. And with this mission, I have come to your country with the hope that if the American people take it very seriously, then it will be the greatest contribution to the world.
“First stage, faith and respect, and second stage, association. The third stage, if by association one becomes serious—‘I shall become a regular student of Swamiji’--that is called initiation.”
As Srila Prabhupada further explains in a lecture recorded in San Francisco, on April 2, 1968, “This is not a new movement. Practically, it is as old as the creation of this world. Lord Krishna--you might have heard His name--most of you have read Bhagavad-gita, the famous philosophical doctrine of Indian Vedanta philosophy--Lord Krishna instructed Bhagavad-gita on the battlefield of Kuruksetra five thousand years ago...
“In the Bhagavad-gita we find everything complete insofar as God consciousness is concerned. The first and foremost qualification to understand the science of God or to become Krsna conscious is to understand yourself. The first thing is what you are or ‘what I am.’
“On the battlefield of Kuruksetra, this perplexing question was there before Arjuna. Arjuna was to fight with his brothers and other relatives on the other side, to decide who should be the emperor of the region. So on the battlefield of Kuruksetra, when he actually came in front of his relatives, he decided, ‘It is no good fighting with my relatives and taking the kingdom. Better I shall beg. I don't want this kingdom.’
“That is a very nice proposal--nonviolence, not to fight. But on this point the Bhagavad-gita, or the science of God, developed from the lips of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krishna.
“Krishna said, ‘Why you are deviating from your duty? You are a ksatriya. Your business is to fight.’ Now this term ksatriya also has to be understood. Ksatriya means one who protects others from being hurt... This material world is so made that everyone is prepared to attack another person. And one who protects that person who is attacked--he is called a ksatriya. And the ksatriyas were in charge of administration….
“So when Arjuna decided not to fight, Krishna taught him this Bhagavad-gita. It is very interesting. He said, ‘Do not deviate from your duty. Do not think that you are killing your relatives, because you and I and all the persons who have assembled on this battlefield--we were existing before, we are existing at the present moment, and we will continue to exist. Death is simply changing the dress.’
“… Similarly, we are present here in this world or in some other world with different kinds of bodies. According to the Vedic literature, there are 8,400,000 different kinds of bodies. So Krishna gave a very nice example. If we study this example with a little intelligence, we can understand this doctrine of transmigration of the soul very quickly.
“Lord Krishna said, dehino 'smin yatha dehe kaumaram yauvanam jara, tatha dehantara-praptir dhiras tatra na muhyati. This is Sanskrit language. I'll explain it in English. He said that within this body there is a soul, and the body is changing every moment, but the soul is there. He is giving an example. A soul comes from the womb of his mother with a small body, and that small body changes: it becomes the body of a boy; it becomes the body of a youth; then it becomes the body of an old man; and then it vanishes.
“That we have to admit. We may say that the body is growing, but actually, the fact is, the body is changing. It is medically admitted that we are changing our body every second. We are changing our blood corpuscles, and therefore a change of the body is taking place... So the ultimate change: when this body cannot be worked any more--just like a dress, when it is torn, when it is too old, you have to change it--similarly, when this body becomes useless, when it cannot be put on any more, you take another body. Tatha dehantara-praptir: as in our everyday life we are changing our body every moment, similarly, the last stage of changing this body is called death.
“…Karmana … dehopapattaye: we are preparing our next life--our next body, rather. Life is continuing. I am eternal. According to Bhagavad-gita, the soul is transmigrating from one body to another, but the soul is eternal and permanent.
“And there is an evolutionary process, also. There are nine hundred thousand species of life in the water--jalaja nava-laksani sthavara laksa-vimsati--and the trees and plants are two million. Similarly, there are reptiles, birds, then beasts--three million species of beastly life. “Then, at the end, we come to the form of this human being, and there are four hundred thousand species of human bodies. Just like your body in America and our body in India--there is some difference. In this way, there are four hundred thousand species in the human form of life. So this is the process of evolution. And these bodily changes are taking place according to different consciousness. And the highest, perfectional consciousness is Krishna consciousness. When we come to the point of Krishna consciousness, then our life becomes perfect.
“So this Krishna consciousness movement is just an endeavor to bring people to the original consciousness... As we are forming our consciousness, so we are changing our body. If we make our consciousness doggish or hellish, then we get the body of a dog or an animal or something like that. And if we make our consciousness godly, then we make our next life as good as God. This is the process... This is the opportunity.
“In this human body our sense perception, our overall consciousness--everything is at its highest. So we have to utilize that for becoming Krishna conscious, so that this process of birth and death can be stopped and we get our eternal body. If we practice this Krishna consciousness, then our next life is as good as Krishna, which means that there is no more birth, there is no more death, there are no more disease and no more old age.
“In the Bhagavad-gita it is said that one who is intelligent--he will see four things before him. You may be a very great scientist. You may be very much advanced in material science. You may be able to construct very high buildings--skyscrapers--and many millions of motorcars, but you have to think whether you have solved the real problems of life. The real problems of life are birth, death, disease, and old age. Not that by living in a high skyscraper, our problems of life are solved. No. The real problem of life is how to stop these four things: birth, death, old age, and disease.
“But we have neglected the real problems of life. And we are misusing our intelligence for constructing big buildings and increasing the so-called bodily necessities of life. The bodily necessities of life are four, only. What are they? Eating, sleeping, mating, and defending.
“To maintain this body, you require to eat something. Everyone is eating. You are eating; the cats are eating; the dogs are eating; the birds are eating. They have no economic problem. Eating is there already. Have you seen ever that a bird is dying for want of eatables? No. So these things are already arranged. That is no problem. In every form of life, your eatables are there, by nature's supply.
“Similarly, sleeping. The bird is sleeping, the dog is sleeping, the cat is sleeping, and you are also sleeping. But you have got a very nice apartment. Does it mean that you alone have solved the problem of sleeping? No.
“Then defending. The birds, the dogs, the cats, the animals--everyone knows how to defend in his own way. You go every day upon the--what is it called--Stowe Lake path. And as soon as you go, the swans immediately jump to the water, because that is their means of defending. As soon as they go to the water, they know that ‘These human beings--they cannot come into the water. We are now secure.’ So this defending process is there even in the swans, in the birds--in everything. Don't think that because we have manufactured atomic bombs, therefore we have become very good. What is this atomic bomb? Killing. Killing is going on. Have you manufactured anything by which you can save yourself from death?
“So our problem of life, as it is stated in the Bhagavad-gita, is to solve these four things: no more birth, no more disease, no more old age, no more death. Because we are--always remember--we are all eternal. Just like in this body: beginning from my mother's womb up to this old age, I am the same eternal soul, but my body is changing. So after changing this body, also, I shall remain the same. Simply I shall have another body. This plain truth, there is no difficulty to understand.
“Now, ‘eternal’ means no death, no birth, no disease, no old age--that is eternal. So if I am eternal, is it possible to get an eternal body? Or eternal happiness? That is the problem of human society. If you can solve that problem, then you can be proud of your civilization.
“Otherwise, there is no difference between cats' and dogs' civilization and your civilization-- because you are simply trying to solve the problems of eating, sleeping, defending and mating. But these problems are already solved by nature's law.
“So our developed intelligence should be utilized for solving these problems by Krishna consciousness. We are presenting this movement before you, your country, because you are intelligent, you are materially advanced, you are greater than all other countries. Therefore I present this scientific movement before you. You just try to understand it.”
In a lecture recorded in Los Angeles, on December 23, 1968, Srila Prabhupada adds, “We are, however, misled by persons and leaders who have very little connection with God, or Krishna. Some of them are denying the existence of God; some of them are falsely trying to place themselves in the place of God; some of them are in favor of the impersonal feature of God; and last, some of them, without being able to reach any right conclusion, are accepting the ultimate goal of life as void, or zero, in utter hopelessness and frustration.
“But Krishna consciousness is solid ground for understanding Krishna, or God, directly by the simple method of chanting the holy name of God, or Krishna. Misled by blind leaders, the followers who themselves are blind have failed to achieve the desired success, but here is a method called by the name Krishna consciousness which is directly offered by Krishna, and the instructions are plainly described in the Bhagavad-gita, given to us five thousand years ago, and again confirmed by Him in the form of Lord Caitanya five hundred years ago.
“This Krishna consciousness movement is a great art of life, very easy and sublime. This Krishna consciousness movement gives you everything you want, without any artificial endeavor. It is transcendentally colorful and full of transcendental pleasure. We prosecute these Krishna consciousness activities through singing, dancing, eating, and talking philosophy received through the authorized disciplic succession, and therefore it gives us everything we want, without any artificial change of our natural instincts.
“This consciousness is there in you, but your consciousness is now dirty, and what you have to do now is to cleanse it from all dirty things and make it clear Krishna consciousness by the pleasant method of chanting the glorified holy name of God: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”
In that lecture recorded in April 1968, Srila Prabhupada advises, “This chanting of Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare is a transcendental vibration or sound. Sound is the origin of all creation. So this transcendental sound--if you vibrate, you will understand very quickly this philosophy of Krishna consciousness.
“And there is no loss on your part. Suppose you chant Hare Krishna; you do not lose anything. But if there is any gain, why don't you try it? We simply request you with folded hands that you kindly chant Hare Krishna. We are simply requesting you. We're not asking you, ‘Pay us something or suffer something or be educated or be an engineer or be a lawyer--then come to us.’ Never mind what you are. Stay in your position. Simply try to chant these sixteen words: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. You can try for one week. And there are no hard and fast rules. You can chant anywhere and everywhere. While walking, you can chant. While driving, you can chant. Nobody is going to tax: ‘You are chanting--give me this tax.’ It is very easy.”