Hare Krsna Movement

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There is no religion except Krsna Consciousness


Prabhupada:
nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam
suka-mukhad amrta-drava-samyutam
pibata bhagavatam rasam alayam
muhur aho rasika bhuvi bhavukah
[SB 1.1.3]
Last night we discussed the verse, dharmah projjhita-kaitavah atra, that “In the Srimad-Bhagavatam the cheating type of religious system is rejected.” We have already explained. Dharma does not mean a kind of faith, blind faith. Dharma means the real characteristic. For example, just like water is liquid. This is the characteristic of water. That is dharma. Stone is solid. That is the characteristic of stone. That is dharma. So faith is different thing. Faith, I have got faith today in something; tomorrow I may have faith in some other thing. And actually we see. Sometimes a person called a Hindu, he is changing his faith to Muslim or Christian. Or a Christian is changing his faith to another way. So faith can be changed. But the characteristics cannot be changed. Just like water is liquid. The liquidity cannot be changed of water. So in Sanskrit language or in Vedic literature, dharma means the characteristics which cannot be changed. Now let us consider what is the characteristic of the living being. The characteristic is that every one of us is serving somebody superior.

Nobody — we are sitting in this hall — can say that “I am not serving anyone.” If somebody is not serving anyone, then he must be serving his own senses. The whole material world is going on because the people are engaged in the service of the senses. For sense gratification one is doing very, very risky job. So nobody can say that “I am not serving.” That is the characteristic of the living being, and that is called dharma. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said that jivera svarupa haya nitya-krsna-dasa [Cc. Madhya 20.108-109], means we living entities, our real characteristic is to serve God. But we have given up the service of God. Therefore we are now engaged in the service of the senses. And because we are constitutionally servant, therefore either we shall serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead, or the Absolute Truth, or, if we do not like to serve the Absolute Truth, then we must serve our senses. Therefore it is described, dharmah projjhita-kaitavah atra, means “Cheating type of religion is completely rejected here in the Srimad-Bhagavatam.”

Here this material world means everyone is trying to be master. But actually he is servant. Just like take, for example, in a family. The family head is the… Actually, he is servant of his wife, of his children or of his even servants. He is servant, but he is thinking that “I am the master of this family.” In your country especially, if the husband cannot satisfy the wife, immediately there is divorce. So although in the name one is husband of the wife, but actually he is servant of the wife. The head of the family, just to keep the family members satisfied, he must be ready to serve all of them. If he dissatisfies any one of the family members, even to the servant, the whole family is disturbed. Therefore, constitutionally, we are all servant, but we are serving misguidedly the senses. Why I serve my wife? Because she gives me facility of sense gratification. Actually, I do not serve even my wife, but I will serve my own senses. In this way, if you make an analytical study of everyone, you will find that everyone is engaged to serve his senses.

Therefore my original characteristic is to serve, but I am misplacing my service to somewhere else. So therefore it is said in this verse, dharmah projjhita-kaitavah atra. Kaitavah means cheating. So everyone is serving his senses, but he is thinking that he is master. That is kaitavah, means cheating or maya. The conclusion is that as we are constitutionally servant, we must remain a servant, not try falsely to become master. But by experience we see that by giving service to so many things, nobody is satisfied; neither I am satisfied. For example, again let us go to the family life. A man has served the family with heart and soul throughout the whole life, and when he is old man, if he asks permission from his wife, “My dear wife, now I have served so much. Let me take sannyasa now,” the wife will never give permission. She will say, “What you have done? I have got to do so many things. Your, this son is not yet settled up; this daughter is not yet married. How you can take sannyasa? So you cannot do.” So actually, he is the servant of the wife, but he is thinking, “I am master of the family.” This is called maya. And any religious system on the platform of this false understanding is also cheating.

Therefore it is said, dharmah projjhita-kaitavah atra. Kaitavah means cheating, which is not dharma, which is not the characteristic. The characteristic is that I am eternally servant of God. So instead of serving God, if I serve the dog, that is called cheating religion. Nobody is meant for serving a dog, but because I am servant, if I haven’t got sufficient engagement as servant of God, then I keep a dog to serve him.

So the conclusion is that constitutionally I am servant, servant of God, but instead of giving service to God, I am now engaged in the service of the dog. So on the standard of this so-called service the Bhagavata-dharma is not discussed, means the false service. Now, how it is concluded?

Therefore the next verse says, nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam: [SB 1.1.3] “This real service is enunciated here as the essence of all Vedic knowledge.” Nigama means the Vedas, and it is called kalpa-taru. Kalpa-taru means desire tree. Vedic knowledge is so perfect that you can receive from the Vedas all different types of knowledge. You can receive knowledge from the Vedas, all types of knowledge, means that social, political and scientific, and there are so many departments of knowledge, even engineering, medical science. The medical science is called Ayur-veda. Ayur-veda means the Vedic knowledge about the duration of life. Similarly, there is Dhanur-veda. Dhanur-veda, military science. There are so many departments. Just like this aeroplane. That is also mentioned in the Vedas. There are not only aeroplanes; there are three other sciences. It is called kapota-vahi. Kapota-vahi means… The ka means the sky, and pota means ship. So as there is science how to manufacture the airship, that is there. There is another science of the same type, it is called kapota-vahi. Kapota means pigeons. You can train up pigeons, and they will carry you from one place to another. There is another science which is called akasa-yanam. Akasa-yanam means in the akasa, in the sky, you can fly with any vehicle. There are mantras… Suppose I am sitting on this throne. By chanting those mantras this seat will be, fly in the sky. We read from Srimad-Bhagavatam that Kapiladeva? No, Kardama Muni, father of Kapiladeva, he made an aeroplane or a exactly a township with big, big buildings, with lake, garden and so many people, that was flying in the sky and visited all the planets.

Therefore it is said, nigama-kalpa-taru. Kalpa-taru means desire tree. So Vedas are compared with the desire tree. Desire tree means just like here in this material world you go to the mango tree. You get mangoes. But you cannot get samosa. (laughter) But desire trees there are. In the spiritual planets there are desire trees. Whatever you want, you can get from that tree. If you go to any tree and whatever you like, you get it from it. So that is called kalpa-taru. So these Vedas are compared with the kalpa-taru because you can derive any kind of knowledge from Vedic literature. So Veda means knowledge. The word Veda means knowledge. So Vedic literature means… You can take it. Any kind of knowledge, it can be called Vedas. Vetti veda vido jnane vinte vid vicarane(?). So in Sanskrit grammar the vid-dhatu. From vid-dhatu… Means knowing. And from vid-dhatu the word Veda has come. Now, the author says that “This Srimad-Bhagavatam is the essence of Vedic knowledge.” Vedic knowledge is compared with the tree, and the tree has got fruit. So this Bhagavatam is the fruit of the Vedic tree. That means you keep a tree for some getting fruit. If there is no fruit, that is mean for fuel. It is useless tree. So here it is said, nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam [SB 1.1.3], means “The Vedic literature is just like the desire tree, and the Bhagavatam is the ripened fruit.” And galitam phalam means a fruit ripened in the tree. It is very, very delicious. Generally, for business purpose, fruits or unripe fruits are taken from the tree, and it is artificially kept to ripe. That fruit means the unripe fruit taken from the tree and it is ripened artificially — that is not so tasteful. And if the fruit is ripened in the tree fully, then you taste it — it is very delicious. Another thing is that if any fruit in the tree, when it is ripened, it is tasted by the parrot, touched by the beak of the parrot, it becomes more delicious.

So here it is said that this Srimad-Bhagavatam is not only the ripened fruit of the Vedic tree, but it is tasted by Sukadeva Gosvami. Sukadeva Gosvami is the realized person. He is liberated, realized person. Therefore to hear Bhagavatam from him is immediately delicious and effective. Suka-mukhad amrta-drava-samyutam. It is because it is explained by Sukadeva Gosvami, not a professional, third-class man, but Sukadeva Gosvami. It is the injunction of Sanatana Gosvami that one should hear Vedic literature, Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita, from the realized person. Sri Sanatana Gosvami says, avaisnava-mukhodgirnam putam hari-kathamrtam, sravanam naiva kartavyam. Means “If… hari-kathamrtam,” means the Bhagavata, Bhagavad-gita… This is hari-kathamrtam, the nectarean (dialogue) about the activities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore it is called hari-kathamrtam. “So one should not hear hari-kathamrtam from a non-realized avaisnava.” Vaisnava means visnrasya(?) devata, one who worships the Supreme Personality of Godhead Visnu. And Visnu is the expansion of Krsna. It is said in the Vedic literature,
ramadi-murtisu kala-niyamena tisthan
nanavataram akarod bhuvanesu kintu
krsnah svayam samabhavat paramah puman yo
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
[Bs. 5.39]
means that Lord Krsna has plenary expansions in many, many forms, beginning with ramadi, Lord Ramacandra and Parasurama and Balarama. There are three Ramas and matsya-avatara, kurma-avatara, vamana-avatara, kalki-avatara, many. Some of them are mentioned in the Bhagavatam. So the original person is Krsna. Krsnah svayam samabhavat paramah puman yah. The idea of praising Sukadeva Gosvami means he is not a professional Bhagavata reader; he is realized soul. Therefore hearing of Bhagavata from Sukadeva Gosvami is recommended. Or the representative of Sukadeva Gosvami. Representative means one who is strictly following the principle adopted by Sukadeva Gosvami. Just like Sukadeva Gosvami first of all spoke Srimad-Bhagavatam before Maharaja Pariksit. And in that meeting, Suta Gosvami was present. So here you will find in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, suta uvaca, means Suta Gosvami, after hearing from Sukadeva Gosvami, he repeated the same Bhagavata recitation in the Naimisaranya. There was a big meeting about 2,500 years ago or more than that at Naimisaranya. That Naimisaranya is still there in India. It is now changed by the name, Nimsar. It is situated about hundred miles off from Lucknow. So still there are many hermitages in Naimisaranya. People go there to visit as it is a place of pilgrimage. So this Bhagavatam was discussed there at Naimisaranya.

So here it is recommended that Srimad-Bhagavatam is the essence of all Vedic literature, and it was first spoken by Sukadeva Gosvami.” The Vedic literature is full of knowledge. That I have described. And the essence of Vedic literature is Srimad-Bhagavatam. Among the learned circles in India it is said, vidya bhagavatavadhih, means “Your education should be up to Srimad-Bhagavatam.” Then you will have complete education. Then we shall understand what is our constitutional position and what is our real characteristic. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam the word mukti, or liberation, is stated. Srimad-Bhagavatam defines mukti as this: muktir hitva anyatha rupam sva-rupena vyavasthitih, means mukti means giving up, giving up our unreal engagement and to be situated in the real original characteristic engagement. For our original characteristic, that we are eternal servant of God, Krsna, if we are situated in that platform or eternal platform, serving Krsna, that is mukti. Mukti means give up the false conception of life and take the real conception of life. That is mukti. So Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita gives mukti in these words, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja [Bg. 18.66]. Sarva-dharman means all kinds of these bogus religious system. You… Sarva-dharman parityajya. Otherwise why He is advising parityajya, “Give it up.”? Because it is bogus; it is cheating. The real dharma is mam ekam saranam vraja: “Only surrender unto Me.” Mam ekam saranam vraja. Yes. This is religion. Krsna in the beginning, in the fourth chapter, He says,
yada yada hi dharmasya
glanir bhavati bharata
abhyutthanam adharmasya
tadatmanam srjamy aham
[Bg. 4.7]
paritranaya sadhunam
vinasaya ca duskrtam
dharma-samsthapanarthaya
sambhavami yuge yuge
[Bg. 4.8]
These are the statement. Means “Whenever there is mismanagement of the word dharma, or pure characteristic, at that time I appear.” So Krsna appeared for reestablishing the real principles of dharma, or religion. So He did not come or did not appear for establishing the so-called religious system, Hindu religion and Muslim religion or Christian religion or this religion, that… Not that type. Real religion. Therefore He says, sarva-dharman parityajya: [Bg. 18.66] “Give up all these. Simply surrender unto Me.” So any religious system which is teaching to divert the attention of the follower to so many things, that is cheating religion. Just like in India, there is a class of men. They are called Mayavadis. They recommend that “You worship any demigod. The result is the same.” This is false religion. Krsna said that mam ekam saranam vraja: “Only surrender unto Me.” Then one may ask that “In the Vedas there are… So many demigods’ worship is recommended. Is that false?” That is not false. Because it is mentioned in the Vedas, you cannot say it is false. But they are meant for all material benefit. Material benefit means it is mentioned that “If you want to be very educated, you worship this demigod,” that “If you wants a beautiful wife, then you worship this demigod; if you want to be very wealthy, then you worship this demigod.” In this way there are different items, but these things are all material things. So that is mentioned in the Bhagavad… kanksantah karmanam siddhim yajanta iha devatah: “Those who are desirous of getting success in this material life, for them the different demigod worship is recommended.”

Therefore in the Bhagavad-gita it is said also, kamais tais tair hrta-jnana yajante anya-devatah, means that “Those who are engaged in worshiping other demigods, their sense is lost by lusty desires.” Suppose if I want wealth or beautiful wife or very good position or good education, what are these? These are all temporary things so long this body is there. But one should be interested for eternal things because every one of us is eternal. So if we want a beautiful wife or wealth, that is simply for this body only. In next body our desires will be different. Suppose next body I get an animal body. Then I will require a wife in different type. Therefore in Bhagavad-gita it is said, antavat tu phalam tesam tad bhavaty alpa-medhasam. The material desires persons, they get some benefit for this short duration of life, but that will be ended. That will not continue. With the end of the body, everything will be finished. Therefore these desires, that “Let me have wealth. Let me have nice wife. Let me have nice material education and so on, so on,” these are not permanent. It is temporary, antavat. Antavat tu phalam tesam.

So a real learned person who is interested in eternal life, they are not interested with all these temporary things. Even if you go to the heavenly planet, because these things are promised in the Vedic literature, that is also temporary. So mukti means to give up all these material desires situated in your original constitutional position, Krsna consciousness. That is liberation. Liberation does not mean that when you get liberation — you have got now two hands — you will have four hands, like that, no. Liberation means change of consciousness. Now we are conscious of material enjoyment: “Give me nice wife. Give me nice wealth. Give me nice education. Give me this. Give me this,” so many. There is no end. So therefore Bhagavata says, hitva anyatha rupam: “These are all meant, the necessities of the body.” Sva-rupena vyavasthitih: “You be situated in your original consciousness, namely Krsna consciousness. That is mukti, liberation.” Therefore the definition of bhakti means anyabhilasita-sunyam, no other material desires, no desires, material… Desire means we desire now material desire.
anyabhilasita-sunyam
jnana-karmady-anavrtam
anukulyena krsnanu-
silanam bhaktir uttama
[BRS 1.1.11]
This is bhakti-marga, means simply to satisfy Krsna. That is bhakti-marga, no other desire, no other motive. So that is recommended by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, He says,
na dhanam na janam na sundarim
kavitam va jagadisa kamaye
mama janmani janmanisvare
bhavatad bhaktir ahaituki tvayi
This is the instruction of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. We are following Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and therefore His instruction should be followed. What is it? Na dhanam: “I don’t want any wealth, material wealth,” na dhanam. Na janam: “I don’t want any so-called followers.” Na sundarim kavitam: “Neither I want a very beautiful wife.” “Then what do You want? These are the material things everyone wants.” No, mama janmani janmanisvare bhavatad bhaktih: “Even I don’t want liberation.” Liberation means there is no more janma. But He said, janmani janmani: “Life after life, I want to be engaged in Your devotional service.” This is real characteristic, and that should be followed. So this is the essence of Vedic knowledge. The essence of Vedic knowledge is Vedanta, Vedanta. There are four Vedas and many branches, eighteen Puranas and then 108 Upanisad. All combined together, the essence is taken as the Srimad-Bhagavatam. First of all, Vyasadeva… Vyasadeva is the author of all these literatures. Not author, he has written. Formerly there was no need of writing because people were very intelligent. As soon as one hears from the spiritual master, he remembers.

That was the position five thousand years ago, not now. Now the memory is not sharp. Therefore he left all this Vedic literature, Vedic tradition, into writing. So Vedanta-sutra is the cream of all Vedic literature, and Srimad-Bhagavatam is the further explanation of this Vedanta-sutra. So because Vyasadeva knew that “Later on this Vedanta-sutra will be misinterpreted by so many rascals,” therefore he left the comment on the Vedanta-sutra in the form of Srimad-Bhagavatam. Therefore if we hear Srimad-Bhagavatam from Sukadeva Gosvami and his disciplic succession, then we shall enjoy life even after liberation. Rasam alayam. Alayam. Alayam means liberation, means this material life completely finished, spiritual life. In the spiritual life also, you will enjoy Srimad-Bhagavatam. But for whom it is meant? That is said here, muhur aho rasika bhuvi bhavukah. Those who are very thoughtful and rasika, humorous, transcendentally humorous, they can understand Srimad-Bhagavatam and enjoy it. That’s all right. Now any question? [break]

Hrdayananda: What is the position of a person who takes to devotional service with the idea of liberation?

Prabhupada: That is not pure bhakti. You can take devotional service with any idea. That will be fulfilled. But anyone who wants liberation by devotional service, he is not a pure devotee. That is called jnana-misra-bhakti, means bhakti adulterated with jnana. Real bhakti, as I have explained, anyabhilasita-sunyam jnana-karmady-anavrtam [BRS 1.1.11], means no other desire than to serve Krsna. That is pure bhakti. Jnana-karmady-anavrtam [Madhya 19.167], means the karmis, they want promotion in the heavenly planets, and the jnanis, they want to become one with the Supreme or liberation, so it should be uncovered by the result of jnana and karma and fully devoid of any other desire. That is bhakti. So those who are bhaktas and desiring after liberation, they are not pure bhakta. Because why a devotee shall aspire after liberation? As soon as (he is) a bhakta, he is already liberated. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gita,
mam ca yo ‘vyabhicarena
bhakti-yogena sevate
sa gunan samatityaitan
brahma-bhuyaya kalpate
[Bg. 14.26]
“He, anyone, who is engaged in pure devotional service, he is transcendental to all these three qualities of the material world, and he is situated in the Brahman platform.” Liberation means to be situated on the Brahman platform. So for a bhakta, the liberation is already there. Srila Bilvamangala Thakura has said, muktih svayam mukulitanjali sevate asman: “We are devotees, so mukti, liberation, is standing on my door with folded hands, ‘What can I do for you?’ ” So why a pure bhakta should desire after liberation? For a pure bhakta, the liberation is standing on the door as maidservant. So a devotee is not aspiring for liberation. [break]

Hrdayananda: Is it possible to achieve liberation with other religious…

Prabhupada: There is no other religion except Krsna consciousness. All cheating religion. That is the… We discussed. Dharmah projjhita-kaitavah: “All cheating type of religion is rejected, kicked out.”

Hrdayananda: [break] …until you have arrived here, there was no possibility of liberation for humanity?

Prabhupada: That you can judge. (laughter) If I say, it will be self-advertisement. But you are intelligent. You can judge. But I have not brought something invented by me. I have brought the Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita. That’s all. That’s all.

Man: (Hrdayananda translates into English) In other words, until now, people did not have the chance to liberate themselves.

Prabhupada: No, why not liberation? But the thing is they are not trained up. Just like take for example the Christians. They call themself Christians; they violate all the principles of Christianity. Just like in the Christian principle is “Thou shall not kill,” and they are very expert in killing. So where is Christian religion? And who is Christian?

Man: (Hrd.) How can the people in general recognize when a devotee is pure?

Prabhupada: That is, I have already described. He has no material desire, except to serve Krsna, or God. That is devotee. That is pure devotee. So that’s all right, chant Hare Krsna. (end)

Dependent on Krsna’s mercy


Prabhupada:

dharmah projjhita-kaitavo ‘tra paramo nirmatsaranam satam
vedyam vastavam atra vastu sivadam tapa-trayonmulanam
srimad-bhagavate maha-muni-krte kim va parair isvarah
sadyo hrdy avarudhyate ‘tra krtibhih susrusubhis tat-ksanat
[SB 1.1.2]

So dharma means, generally, a kind of faith, dharma. But actually dharma does not mean that. Faith, you may have faith, and others may not have, but that is not fact. That is fact which is accepted by everyone, either he may have faith or may not have faith. In Sanskrit language, the Vedic literature, dharma means the codes or the law given by God. So one may have faith, or one may not have faith. It doesn’t matter. The codes or law given by God, that is a fact. Just like the law given by the state. One may not have faith, or one may have faith, but it must be accepted. For example, just on the street we see, “Keep to the right.” This is the law given by the state. So you may believe it or not believe it; you have to carry out. So it cannot be changed in any circumstance. Therefore dharma does not mean a faith. It is compulsory. So the compulsory law is that God is great, and we are subordinate or servant of God. You may believe or not believe; the God’s law will apply upon you forcibly. Exactly like the state law, you may have faith or no faith; you must accept it. Otherwise it will be forcibly imposed upon you. So dharma, as it is explained in English dictionary, “a kind of faith,” that is not proper meaning. Dharma means that you are obliged to obey the laws given by God. Just like our material condition, birth, death, old age and disease. So one may say that “I do not believe in death. That is false.” You may believe or not believe; you have to die. Similarly, one may believe or not believe; he has to take birth. Death means to give up this body and accept another body. That is very nicely explained in the Bhagavad-gita, tatha dehantara-praptir dhiras tatra na muhyati [Bg. 2.13]. Just like a child. He must accept the body of a boy. The boy, he must accept next the body of a youth, and the youth must accept the old man’s body. This is the law of God. You must accept it. And just when this body is no more practically usable, then you have to accept another body and begin a new life. This is the law of nature, or the law of God. Nature is dull, material. Nature cannot work automatically without the incentive or manipulation of God behind nature. Foolish people think that nature is working automatically. That is their ignorance. Nature is working under the direction of the Supreme Lord. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gita,

mayadhyaksena prakrtih
suyate sa-caracaram
hetunanena kaunteya
jagad viparivartate
[Bg. 9.10]

Lord says that “Under My superintendence the material nature is working, and therefore so many wonderful changes are going on.” So nature is working under the order of the Supreme Lord, and we are under the stringent laws of nature. Therefore we are obliged to carry out the natural sequences. Just like I already explained, from childhood to boyhood, boyhood to youthhood, youthhood to old age, these are natural laws. And after mature old age, you have to change this body and accept another body. So if we say that “I have no faith in the orders of the material nature. I avoid it,” that is not possible. So therefore this dharma means you may have faith or may not have faith; you have to abide by the laws of nature. People therefore say, “As sure as death.” I may think or you may think that “Don’t care for death. There will be no death,” but it will happen. Therefore the conclusion is that you cannot manufacture any laws of religion.

Man-made religion has no value. So man-made religions, there are so many religious system, the Hindu religion, Christian religion, Mohammedan religion or this religion, that religion. That is a kind of faith. But religion means the order or the laws given by God. Therefore here it is said, dharmah projjhita-kaitavah atra. Kaitavah means cheating type of religious system. Real religion means “God is there. I am there. God is great. I am subordinate. I must abide by the laws of God.” This is religion. At the present moment, under the spell of illusion in this material condition, we have forgotten our real religion. Real religion means to revive our consciousness — we say, “Krsna consciousness” — or God consciousness, by which we agree to abide by the laws of God. So Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita at the end, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja [Bg. 18.66]. He says that “You have manufactured so many religious system. So you give up all these. You simply surrender unto Me.” Therefore real conclusion is, real religion means, to surrender unto God. It is explained in another place of Srimad-Bhagavatam,

sa vai pumsam paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhoksaje
ahaituky apratihata
yayatma suprasidati
[SB 1.2.6]

“That is first-class religion.” What is that? Sa vai pumsam paro dharmah. “First-class religion,” yato bhaktir adhoksaje, “which teaches us how to surrender to God and love Him.” Ahaituky apratihata yayatma suprasidati. Ahaituki means without any motive. Apratihata, without any checking. Yaya atma suprasidati: “If you come to that platform, religion, then you become fully satisfied.” Generally, there are four principles in the human society, namely dharma, artha, kama, and moksa, means first of all become religious, and then you solve your economic problem, and then satisfy your senses, and then become one with God. Those who are following the Vedic principles, they think like that. Not only they, others also, the so-called religious system, they also think like that. Just like the Christians. They go to church, “O God, give us our daily bread.” So this bread-supplying business is like that: “God simply supplies bread, and we eat and we enjoy.” Similarly, the Hindu system also there is: “O God, give me some money. I am very poor. I am suffering from disease. Please cure it.” And so everywhere you will find some motive in religiosity. So religion does not mean to solve the economic problem.

Therefore at the present moment they are becoming Godless because now people are advanced in education and knowledge. They think that “If I have to ask bread from God, so why shall I go to God? Let me earn money very nicely, and I can purchase bread. Why shall I go to church?” On account of this motivated religion, the communists are taking advantage, and they are preaching Godlessness. In communist country the innocent village people, they go to church and ask for bread, and when they come out of the church, the communist leader ask them, “Have you got bread?” So they say, “Now ask bread from us.” So they ask bread, “O, communist leader, give me bread.” So they supply immense quantity of bread: “Take as much as you like.” So then they ask, “Who has supplied you bread?” They say, the communist leader. In this way they propagate, “Now there is no use of going to the church for asking bread from God.” And they also practically see that “We, in the church we asked for bread. There was no supply of bread. And as soon as I prayed bread from the communist leader, there are so many breads.” But the innocent people, they do not know that this communist leader has supplied bread not from his father’s stock; it is from the stock of God. So they are innocent people. They do not know that actually bread is supplied by God because the ingredients of bread, namely the food grains, the wheat or the pulses, that is not made by communist leader. That is made by God.

Therefore the conclusion is that if we approach God for some material benefit, we may be cheated at some time. Therefore it is said, dharmah projjhita atra kaitavah: “This kind of motivated religious system is completely thrown away from this Srimad-Bhagavatam.” Intelligent persons should know that “God is supplying food to so many living entities. Why He shall not supply me?” There are 8,400,000 forms of living entity. Out of that, only 400,000 forms are human body. So eight million means there are fishes, there are trees, there are plants, there are insect, there are birds, beasts, and in this way, eight million. They are getting all their foodstuff supplied by God. This morning we were walking on the, in the park. We saw. So many fruits are thrown on the street. That means the birds have eaten them, and they have thrown so many. So God supplies immense bread or eatable things without any asking. In a African jungle there are hundreds, thousands of elephants. They eat, at a time, huge quantity of food. But still, they are supplied by God. Actually, even from practical point of view — I have traveled all over the world — there are immense place. We can produce foodstuff for supplying food, ten times of the whole world population. So therefore there is no need of approaching God with a motive for material supplies or material satisfaction.

In the Vedic literature we get information, nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam, eko yo bahunam vidadhati kaman. God, the description of God, is given there that “He is also living entity like us. He is also eternal like us.” Nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam. But what is the difference between Him and us? That is described, eko yo bahunam vidadhati kaman: “That one God is supplying all the necessities of these many.” So we should not approach God for economic satisfaction or for bread or for wood or for anything necessary for our life. God has arranged food for everyone, the aquatics, the birds, the beasts, the trees, the elephants or the other, four-legged animals, and why not for human being? Human being also, those who are uncivilized, still living in the forest, they have no arrangement for economic development, or they do not know, but they have got also food. Therefore sastra says,

tasyaiva hetoh prayateta kovido
na labhyate yad bhramatam upary adhah
tal labhyate duhkhavad anyatah sukham
kalena sarvatra gabhira-ramhasa

“One should try for developing God consciousness, not for anything else, because happiness and distress, they come automatically.” We haven’t got to try for it. Happiness, everyone aspires for happiness. Nobody aspires for distress, but distress is forcibly come upon you. Similarly, the sastra says, “As distress comes without any desire, similarly, happiness also will come without any endeavor.” So long we are in the material world, the so-called happiness and distress will come and go, but our, the human life, the endeavor should be how to find out or revive our relationship with God. That is our main business. They are just like seasonal changes, happiness and distress. Matra-sparsas tu kaunteya sitosna-sukha-duhkha-dah. Just like there is winter season. It is pinching cold. That will also not stay. And the scorching heat, that will also not stay. It comes and goes. Therefore, so long in the material world we are, the so-called happiness and distress will come and go. Don’t bother about it. You simply try for reviving your Krsna consciousness, or God consciousness. So human being has misunderstood the mode of life. They are simply busy for maintaining this body whole day and night. So we should conclude like this, that “If God can supply eight million types of different lower animals, then why shall not God give the necessities of life to the human society?” So don’t execute your religious principle for some material benefit, but try to revive your relationship with God and try to love Him. That type of religious system is there in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, that there is no motive but how to love God. That is stated. “This type of religion means to love God” is stated here, sivadam tapa-traya unmulanam. Sivadam means all auspicity, and the three-fold miserable condition of life is completely uprooted.

On account of this material body, we have got three-fold miseries within this material world. One is called adhyatmika. Adhyatmika means miserable condition due to this material body and the mind. The… another miserable condition is adhibhautika: miserable condition offered by other living entities. And the third miserable condition is which is offered by the nature, just like earthquake, famine, pestilence and so many other things on which we have no control. We have no control in any kind of miserable condition, especially the miserable condition offered by nature. We cannot avoid it. So therefore here it is said that if you take up this religious system — means how to love God — then you will be transcendental to all this miserable condition of material existence. And these information, these practices, are given in the Srimad-Bhagavatam which is compiled by, not by any ordinary person, but srimad-bhagavate maha-muni-krte, the greatest sage, Vyasadeva. He has given us. In ordinary literatures they are full of mistakes and cheating and illusion and imperfectness.

Every conditioned soul, as we are, we have got four defects, namely we commit mistake, we are sometimes illusioned, and sometimes we do not know properly anything, and still, I give my thesis, “Perhaps, it may be…” What is this knowledge “perhaps”? That means cheating. One hasn’t sufficient knowledge and “perhaps, maybe” — he is giving knowledge. And above all of them, we should know that our present material senses are imperfect. For example, just like we are very much proud of our eyes. We say, “Can you show me God?” But our eyes are so long perfect as long the light is. It is conditional. Therefore every sense now we are possessing, they are not perfect. So we acquire knowledge by using our different senses. Therefore, because they are imperfect, whatever knowledge we gather by speculation, that is imperfect. So if we take knowledge from such personalities who are liberated, then that knowledge is perfect. This is the process of acquiring knowledge in Krsna consciousness movement — that we receive knowledge from the perfect person. Now, here it is said that because it is given by the perfect person Vyasadeva, we should take knowledge from this Srimad-Bhagavatam. And the proof is that we have now become Godless, we have no information of God, but if you read Srimad-Bhagavatam, then immediately you will realize God. Just like you can see in reality that these boys, these girls who have joined this Krsna consciousness movement, because they are reading Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita, they are now gradually realizing what is God and what is his relationship with God. So unless we realize God and our position, and we become lover of God, there is no question of peace in the mind. Therefore it is recommended here that if you want real peace in the mind, try to understand what is God, what is your relationship with God, and act accordingly. You will be immediately peaceful. As soon as you become peaceful, your life is successful. Thank you very much.

Hrdayananda: [break] …you could explain something of what the scientists are always talking about, mutation and variation, and how one species evolves from another species.

Prabhupada: By the mind, intelligence and ego. At the time of death, you think of what you have done all through your life. So the mental situation at the time of death will carry you to the different form of life as your mental situation. We do not see the mind, intelligence, although we say that “I have got mind. You have got mind. You have got intelligence. I have got intelligence.” So but we do not see it. It is very subtle thing. But after the destruction of this gross body, the subtle body carries me to another gross body. we have got practical experience. The mind is so forceful that you are sitting here, and within a second, you can go to your home or homeland, which may be ten thousand miles away, immediately. The example is given: just like from a garden, rose garden, the flavor is carried by the air, and it is transferred to another place. So in this life, whatever mental creation we are doing or creating, that will be carried in the next life, and according to that, nature will give us a body. So if we think of dog, maybe we are transferred to the dog’s body. If I think of God, then I shall be transferred to a god’s body. So we have scattered our love for so many things in the material world. We have to collect everything and transfer everything for loving God. That is successful life. So if we think of God, then how we become purified, and next we become transferred to the kingdom of God. And if we think of material things, then again we shall be transferred to another material body.


This Krsna consciousness movement is for educating people how to think of God constantly. And if we practice like that, then, after giving up this body, we are going to get a body which is exactly like God. This body is called sac-cid-ananda. Sat means eternal, cit means full of knowledge, and ananda means full of bliss. This body, this material body, is just the opposite number. It is neither eternal, neither full of knowledge, neither full of bliss. And if we develop Krsna consciousness or God consciousness, then next body we shall get a body… (end)

 

Prabhupada:

dharmah projjhita-kaitavo ‘tra paramo nirmatsaranam satam
vedyam vastavam atra vastu sivadam tapa-trayonmulanam
srimad-bhagavate maha-muni-krte kim va parair isvarah
sadyo hrdy avarudhyate ‘tra krtibhih susrusubhis tat-ksanat
[SB 1.1.2]

So dharma means, generally, a kind of faith, dharma. But actually dharma does not mean that. Faith, you may have faith, and others may not have, but that is not fact. That is fact which is accepted by everyone, either he may have faith or may not have faith. In Sanskrit language, the Vedic literature, dharma means the codes or the law given by God. So one may have faith, or one may not have faith. It doesn’t matter. The codes or law given by God, that is a fact. Just like the law given by the state. One may not have faith, or one may have faith, but it must be accepted. For example, just on the street we see, “Keep to the right.” This is the law given by the state. So you may believe it or not believe it; you have to carry out. So it cannot be changed in any circumstance. Therefore dharma does not mean a faith. It is compulsory. So the compulsory law is that God is great, and we are subordinate or servant of God. You may believe or not believe; the God’s law will apply upon you forcibly. Exactly like the state law, you may have faith or no faith; you must accept it. Otherwise it will be forcibly imposed upon you. So dharma, as it is explained in English dictionary, “a kind of faith,” that is not proper meaning. Dharma means that you are obliged to obey the laws given by God. Just like our material condition, birth, death, old age and disease. So one may say that “I do not believe in death. That is false.” You may believe or not believe; you have to die. Similarly, one may believe or not believe; he has to take birth. Death means to give up this body and accept another body. That is very nicely explained in the Bhagavad-gita, tatha dehantara-praptir dhiras tatra na muhyati [Bg. 2.13]. Just like a child. He must accept the body of a boy. The boy, he must accept next the body of a youth, and the youth must accept the old man’s body. This is the law of God. You must accept it. And just when this body is no more practically usable, then you have to accept another body and begin a new life. This is the law of nature, or the law of God. Nature is dull, material. Nature cannot work automatically without the incentive or manipulation of God behind nature. Foolish people think that nature is working automatically. That is their ignorance. Nature is working under the direction of the Supreme Lord. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gita,

mayadhyaksena prakrtih
suyate sa-caracaram
hetunanena kaunteya
jagad viparivartate
[Bg. 9.10]

Lord says that “Under My superintendence the material nature is working, and therefore so many wonderful changes are going on.” So nature is working under the order of the Supreme Lord, and we are under the stringent laws of nature. Therefore we are obliged to carry out the natural sequences. Just like I already explained, from childhood to boyhood, boyhood to youthhood, youthhood to old age, these are natural laws. And after mature old age, you have to change this body and accept another body. So if we say that “I have no faith in the orders of the material nature. I avoid it,” that is not possible. So therefore this dharma means you may have faith or may not have faith; you have to abide by the laws of nature. People therefore say, “As sure as death.” I may think or you may think that “Don’t care for death. There will be no death,” but it will happen. Therefore the conclusion is that you cannot manufacture any laws of religion.

Man-made religion has no value. So man-made religions, there are so many religious system, the Hindu religion, Christian religion, Mohammedan religion or this religion, that religion. That is a kind of faith. But religion means the order or the laws given by God. Therefore here it is said, dharmah projjhita-kaitavah atra. Kaitavah means cheating type of religious system. Real religion means “God is there. I am there. God is great. I am subordinate. I must abide by the laws of God.” This is religion. At the present moment, under the spell of illusion in this material condition, we have forgotten our real religion. Real religion means to revive our consciousness — we say, “Krsna consciousness” — or God consciousness, by which we agree to abide by the laws of God. So Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita at the end, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja [Bg. 18.66]. He says that “You have manufactured so many religious system. So you give up all these. You simply surrender unto Me.” Therefore real conclusion is, real religion means, to surrender unto God. It is explained in another place of Srimad-Bhagavatam,

sa vai pumsam paro dharmo
yato bhaktir adhoksaje
ahaituky apratihata
yayatma suprasidati
[SB 1.2.6]

“That is first-class religion.” What is that? Sa vai pumsam paro dharmah. “First-class religion,” yato bhaktir adhoksaje, “which teaches us how to surrender to God and love Him.” Ahaituky apratihata yayatma suprasidati. Ahaituki means without any motive. Apratihata, without any checking. Yaya atma suprasidati: “If you come to that platform, religion, then you become fully satisfied.” Generally, there are four principles in the human society, namely dharma, artha, kama, and moksa, means first of all become religious, and then you solve your economic problem, and then satisfy your senses, and then become one with God. Those who are following the Vedic principles, they think like that. Not only they, others also, the so-called religious system, they also think like that. Just like the Christians. They go to church, “O God, give us our daily bread.” So this bread-supplying business is like that: “God simply supplies bread, and we eat and we enjoy.” Similarly, the Hindu system also there is: “O God, give me some money. I am very poor. I am suffering from disease. Please cure it.” And so everywhere you will find some motive in religiosity. So religion does not mean to solve the economic problem.

Therefore at the present moment they are becoming Godless because now people are advanced in education and knowledge. They think that “If I have to ask bread from God, so why shall I go to God? Let me earn money very nicely, and I can purchase bread. Why shall I go to church?” On account of this motivated religion, the communists are taking advantage, and they are preaching Godlessness. In communist country the innocent village people, they go to church and ask for bread, and when they come out of the church, the communist leader ask them, “Have you got bread?” So they say, “Now ask bread from us.” So they ask bread, “O, communist leader, give me bread.” So they supply immense quantity of bread: “Take as much as you like.” So then they ask, “Who has supplied you bread?” They say, the communist leader. In this way they propagate, “Now there is no use of going to the church for asking bread from God.” And they also practically see that “We, in the church we asked for bread. There was no supply of bread. And as soon as I prayed bread from the communist leader, there are so many breads.” But the innocent people, they do not know that this communist leader has supplied bread not from his father’s stock; it is from the stock of God. So they are innocent people. They do not know that actually bread is supplied by God because the ingredients of bread, namely the food grains, the wheat or the pulses, that is not made by communist leader. That is made by God.

Therefore the conclusion is that if we approach God for some material benefit, we may be cheated at some time. Therefore it is said, dharmah projjhita atra kaitavah: “This kind of motivated religious system is completely thrown away from this Srimad-Bhagavatam.” Intelligent persons should know that “God is supplying food to so many living entities. Why He shall not supply me?” There are 8,400,000 forms of living entity. Out of that, only 400,000 forms are human body. So eight million means there are fishes, there are trees, there are plants, there are insect, there are birds, beasts, and in this way, eight million. They are getting all their foodstuff supplied by God. This morning we were walking on the, in the park. We saw. So many fruits are thrown on the street. That means the birds have eaten them, and they have thrown so many. So God supplies immense bread or eatable things without any asking. In a African jungle there are hundreds, thousands of elephants. They eat, at a time, huge quantity of food. But still, they are supplied by God. Actually, even from practical point of view — I have traveled all over the world — there are immense place. We can produce foodstuff for supplying food, ten times of the whole world population. So therefore there is no need of approaching God with a motive for material supplies or material satisfaction.

In the Vedic literature we get information, nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam, eko yo bahunam vidadhati kaman. God, the description of God, is given there that “He is also living entity like us. He is also eternal like us.” Nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam. But what is the difference between Him and us? That is described, eko yo bahunam vidadhati kaman: “That one God is supplying all the necessities of these many.” So we should not approach God for economic satisfaction or for bread or for wood or for anything necessary for our life. God has arranged food for everyone, the aquatics, the birds, the beasts, the trees, the elephants or the other, four-legged animals, and why not for human being? Human being also, those who are uncivilized, still living in the forest, they have no arrangement for economic development, or they do not know, but they have got also food. Therefore sastra says,

tasyaiva hetoh prayateta kovido
na labhyate yad bhramatam upary adhah
tal labhyate duhkhavad anyatah sukham
kalena sarvatra gabhira-ramhasa

“One should try for developing God consciousness, not for anything else, because happiness and distress, they come automatically.” We haven’t got to try for it. Happiness, everyone aspires for happiness. Nobody aspires for distress, but distress is forcibly come upon you. Similarly, the sastra says, “As distress comes without any desire, similarly, happiness also will come without any endeavor.” So long we are in the material world, the so-called happiness and distress will come and go, but our, the human life, the endeavor should be how to find out or revive our relationship with God. That is our main business. They are just like seasonal changes, happiness and distress. Matra-sparsas tu kaunteya sitosna-sukha-duhkha-dah. Just like there is winter season. It is pinching cold. That will also not stay. And the scorching heat, that will also not stay. It comes and goes. Therefore, so long in the material world we are, the so-called happiness and distress will come and go. Don’t bother about it. You simply try for reviving your Krsna consciousness, or God consciousness. So human being has misunderstood the mode of life. They are simply busy for maintaining this body whole day and night. So we should conclude like this, that “If God can supply eight million types of different lower animals, then why shall not God give the necessities of life to the human society?” So don’t execute your religious principle for some material benefit, but try to revive your relationship with God and try to love Him. That type of religious system is there in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, that there is no motive but how to love God. That is stated. “This type of religion means to love God” is stated here, sivadam tapa-traya unmulanam. Sivadam means all auspicity, and the three-fold miserable condition of life is completely uprooted.

On account of this material body, we have got three-fold miseries within this material world. One is called adhyatmika. Adhyatmika means miserable condition due to this material body and the mind. The… another miserable condition is adhibhautika: miserable condition offered by other living entities. And the third miserable condition is which is offered by the nature, just like earthquake, famine, pestilence and so many other things on which we have no control. We have no control in any kind of miserable condition, especially the miserable condition offered by nature. We cannot avoid it. So therefore here it is said that if you take up this religious system — means how to love God — then you will be transcendental to all this miserable condition of material existence. And these information, these practices, are given in the Srimad-Bhagavatam which is compiled by, not by any ordinary person, but srimad-bhagavate maha-muni-krte, the greatest sage, Vyasadeva. He has given us. In ordinary literatures they are full of mistakes and cheating and illusion and imperfectness.

Every conditioned soul, as we are, we have got four defects, namely we commit mistake, we are sometimes illusioned, and sometimes we do not know properly anything, and still, I give my thesis, “Perhaps, it may be…” What is this knowledge “perhaps”? That means cheating. One hasn’t sufficient knowledge and “perhaps, maybe” — he is giving knowledge. And above all of them, we should know that our present material senses are imperfect. For example, just like we are very much proud of our eyes. We say, “Can you show me God?” But our eyes are so long perfect as long the light is. It is conditional. Therefore every sense now we are possessing, they are not perfect. So we acquire knowledge by using our different senses. Therefore, because they are imperfect, whatever knowledge we gather by speculation, that is imperfect. So if we take knowledge from such personalities who are liberated, then that knowledge is perfect. This is the process of acquiring knowledge in Krsna consciousness movement — that we receive knowledge from the perfect person. Now, here it is said that because it is given by the perfect person Vyasadeva, we should take knowledge from this Srimad-Bhagavatam. And the proof is that we have now become Godless, we have no information of God, but if you read Srimad-Bhagavatam, then immediately you will realize God. Just like you can see in reality that these boys, these girls who have joined this Krsna consciousness movement, because they are reading Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita, they are now gradually realizing what is God and what is his relationship with God. So unless we realize God and our position, and we become lover of God, there is no question of peace in the mind. Therefore it is recommended here that if you want real peace in the mind, try to understand what is God, what is your relationship with God, and act accordingly. You will be immediately peaceful. As soon as you become peaceful, your life is successful. Thank you very much.

Hrdayananda: [break] …you could explain something of what the scientists are always talking about, mutation and variation, and how one species evolves from another species.

Prabhupada: By the mind, intelligence and ego. At the time of death, you think of what you have done all through your life. So the mental situation at the time of death will carry you to the different form of life as your mental situation. We do not see the mind, intelligence, although we say that “I have got mind. You have got mind. You have got intelligence. I have got intelligence.” So but we do not see it. It is very subtle thing. But after the destruction of this gross body, the subtle body carries me to another gross body. we have got practical experience. The mind is so forceful that you are sitting here, and within a second, you can go to your home or homeland, which may be ten thousand miles away, immediately. The example is given: just like from a garden, rose garden, the flavor is carried by the air, and it is transferred to another place. So in this life, whatever mental creation we are doing or creating, that will be carried in the next life, and according to that, nature will give us a body. So if we think of dog, maybe we are transferred to the dog’s body. If I think of God, then I shall be transferred to a god’s body. So we have scattered our love for so many things in
 

Increasing your problems


Prabhupada: (translated into Spanish by Hrdayananda dasa)

om namo bhagavate vasudevaya
janmady asya yato ‘nvayad itaratas carthesv abhijnah svarat
tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye muhyanti yat surayah
tejo-vari-mrdam yatha vinimayo yatra tri-sargo ‘mrsa
dhamna svena sada nirasta-kuhakam satyam param dhimahi
[SB 1.1.1]

So first of all, before beginning the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the author is offering respectful obeisances to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is explained in the following four lines. The first line is janmady asya yatah [SB 1.1.1], means Supreme Personality of Godhead is the origin of all emanation. The human mind is inquisitive. A human being, even a child, he enquires from his father. We have got experience personally. Any intelligent boy, he enquires from the father. He is inquisitive. That is human life. He enquires, “What is this, father? What is this father?” And the father replies. So unless this enquiry is there, he is not human being. A cat and dog cannot enquire about the origin of a thing. But a human mind is developed in such a way that he enquires, he makes research to find out the original cause. Just like nowadays the scientists are enquiring about the origin of life. But unfortunately, they are finding out the original cause which is not. Just like they are trying to research out what is the origin of life. And there are many, many learned scientists. They think that the origin of life is chemical combination. So that is not the fact.

Therefore, without being guided by authority, nobody can find out the perfect answer of an enquiry. Even in the university level, those who are research scholar, they are guided by three experienced professors. And when the student’s research work is admitted by the three professors, then he is awarded the doctorate designation. So the, as I have already said, the child enquires, “What is this, father?” Similarly, we should also enquire, “What is the origin of this universe?” Not only universe, but any item within our experience, naturally we are inclined… Just like here is a microphone. So an intelligent person is inquisitive to enquire, “Who is the manufacturer of this microphone?” Just like we enquire about a child, “Whose son he is? Who is his father?” similarly, this is human mind, to enquire about the origin. That is the only business of human being. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is said, jivasya tattva-jijnasa, means the jiva, means human being especially… Jiva means all living being, but above all living beings, the human being is the most awakened consciousness. Therefore his business is to enquire about the Absolute Truth. It is said, jivasya tattva-jijnasa.

kamasya nendriya-pritir
labho jiveta yavata
jivasya tattva-jijnasa
nartho yas ceha karmabhih
[SB 1.2.10]

means that we have got some desires for gratifying our senses or for the maintenance of the body. Such desires are based on four principles of bodily demands. Every living being is busy, the lower animals and the human being, in finding out where is food, where is shelter, where is sex and where is defense. So they have selected four businesses: where to find out food, where to find out shelter, where to find out sex indulgence and how to defend ourself. These propensities are prominent both in animal and man. So these things are common for both the animals and the human being. A dog is also searching after food; a hog is also searching after food; a bird is also searching after food; a man is also searching after food. Now, in the broad road so many cars are going in seventy mile speed. What is their research? “Where is food? Where is money?” Ask anybody who is very busy in driving car in seventy miles speed that “What is your business?” He will answer that “I have got to take money from there. I have to do this business.” That is also money. This will be the answer. They have no other answer. And if you ask him, “What you will do with your money?” then he will say, “I shall live in a very nice apartment, I shall eat very nice foodstuff, I shall have to enjoy very good sex life and I will have to defend myself.” But the Bhagavata says, or the supreme authority says, “No, this is not your business. Because you are human being… This business is also there in the animal life. Therefore your business is tattva-jijnasa, jivasya tattva-jijnasa. When you are developed animal… Now you are also animal because you don’t enquire about the Absolute Truth. But you are developed, so now your business is to enquire about the origin of everything.” Your business is not to increase the problem of the four necessities of life. By this karma or unnecessary activities you are increasing simply problems.

Just like amongst the birds and beasts there is no economic problem. The birds rise in the morning, and they chirp between themselves, and after a few hours or minutes they go away, and they get their food. Similarly, the animals also, they also go. Even in the jungle, they get their food. The birds and beasts, they have got their home. The bird lives on the top of the tree very comfortably at night without any disturbance. Similarly, the beast… Even in the jungle there are elephants, there are tigers, there are so many others. They have got their some place to rest. So far sex is concerned, that is also guaranteed. The birds, when they are in the eggs, there are two eggs, one male, one female. And you will find these birds, beasts, they are in pair. Just about two months before, when I was in Mayapura, the two snakes, not very big, small, were found in the lavatory, and they were also two, in pair. That means this pair in birds and beasts, in animals, in snakes, they are found. The tiger, the elephant, there are two. So there is no scarcity of sex also. And so far defense is concerned, everyone is provided with nails, jaws, and wings, and everything. According to their capacity, they can defend also. So in this way, so far our four necessities of life required, it is already arranged by the laws of nature. So we, means the living entity, or the soul, we are wandering throughout the whole universe in different types of bodies. And because we are part and parcel of God, our four necessities of life, namely the food, shelter, sex and defense, that is already provided. So for these four things we need not work very hard. Because they are available even in the animal life, birds life, beasts life, lower form of life, and why not in human life? Therefore the sastra says,

tasyaiva hetoh prayateta kovido
na labhyate yad bhramatam upary adhah
tal labhyate duhkhavad anyatah sukham
kalena sarvatra gabhira-ramhasa

They say that “So far these necessities of life are concerned, they are ready, supplied.” In any life, either in human life or in birds and beasts, lower animal, trees, plants, that is ready. Therefore we should not waste our time for these things, but we should be ready to enquire about the Absolute Truth. So human intelligence is there to enquire about the Absolute Truth. So they have got better developed consciousness or intelligence than the lower animals. So that higher intelligence should be utilized for enquiring about the Absolute Truth. So that is… Vedanta-sutra says, janmady asya yatah [SB 1.1.1], athato brahma jijnasa. This life, human life, is not meant for wasting time for adjusting how to get better food, better shelter, better sex and better defense. So the human intelligence is that when one thinks that “If these necessities of body are ready even for the animals and beasts and birds, then why not it is ready for me?” It is ready for the human being also. That is a fact. We see when human being are uncivilized, the ready food is there. They live in the jungle. There is fruit ready for eating. Everything is ready there. They do not know how to produce food, the uncivilized man. They eat some animal. They eat some fruit. This is already ready. So uncivilized man, who cannot produce food, even for him, there is food ready. Similarly, the civilized human being, for him also the food can be improved. Just like he can produce from the field, agriculture, so many food grains, varieties of food grains he can produce. So these things are already there. There is no need of extra time for developing how to eat nicely, how to sleep nicely. One should be satisfied like the animals. They are satisfied with their position. They are not agitated. Similarly, we should be satisfied whatever is available automatically by the gift of nature or by God.

Nature has given us the opportunity now to enquire about the Absolute Truth. And what is that Absolute Truth? Because this is our only enquiry, that “What is the Absolute Truth, or the origin of everything?” Therefore in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, first of all the obeisances or the respect is offered to Vasudeva. Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya means “I offer my respectful obeisances to Lord Vasudeva, or Krsna.” This Srimad-Bhagavatam is being presented by Vyasadeva, the most exalted personality, the guru, Vyasa guru or Vedavyasa, for the all advanced spiritually conscious men. The spiritual master is called, therefore, representative of Vyasa, Vyasadeva. Therefore, on the birthday of spiritual master, it is said, Vyasa-puja. So this understanding, that Vasudeva is the origin of everything, is available in human life. It is said, therefore, in the Bhagavad-gita,

bahunam janmanam ante
jnanavan mam prapadyate
vasudevah sarvam iti
sa mahatma sudurlabhah
[Bg. 7.19]

means… We are researching. The scientist is researching, the philosopher is researching, everyone is researching, but researching in their own way. Therefore it takes time to understand what is the original source of everything. So in the Bhagavad-gita it is said, Krsna said, that

aham sarvasya prabhavo
mattah sarvam pravartate
iti matva bhajante mam
budha bhava-samanvitah
[Bg. 10.8]

Krsna says, God directly says, that “I am the origin of everything.” Aham sarvasya prabhavo mattah sarvam pravartate [Bg. 10.8]. “Everything emanates from Me.” Iti matva, “When one understands this,” budha, “a learned person,” bhajante mam drdha-vratah, “he engages himself fully in Krsna consciousness.” So Krsna is the origin of everything, but it takes little time, according to the position of the man, to understand it. This is a fact, that Krsna is the origin of everything, but the intelligent man can understand it very easily. Therefore he takes to Krsna consciousness. And those who are not intelligent, he tries to understand whether Krsna is the origin of everything, therefore it takes some time. Therefore persons who are making research what is the origin of everything, they are also learned scholars, but because they are doing in their own way, therefore it takes many, many births to understand that Krsna is the origin of everything.

So in this way of material research, one will come to the conclusion, if he is really a research scholar that vasudevah sarvam iti [Bg. 7.19]. But those who are more purified, instead of making research, he immediately accepts that Krsna is the origin of everything. So just to understand Krsna, Krsna is explaining Himself in the Bhagavad-gita. So if one is fortunate, if one is intelligent, if he accepts Krsna’s version — Krsna says at last, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja [Bg. 18.66] — he accepts it. So one who has accepted Krsna as the supreme source, Absolute Truth, for them, this Srimad-Bhagavatam is there. Here it is beginning, om namo bhagavate vasudevaya, means “I offer my respectful obeisances to You, Krsna, because I surrender unto You.” One who is fortunate, he immediately accepts Krsna’s version, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja [Bg. 18.66], but one who is unfortunate or less intelligent, he makes research work for many, many births, and then he will come to the same conclusion, vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma sudurlabhah [Bg. 7.19]. So you accept Krsna in both ways, either on good faith… As Krsna says that aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami ma sucah, “Don’t worry. I shall give you all protection, you surrender unto Me.” If you take this immediately, then you become liberated. And if you don’t take, then make research work of Krsna. Ultimately you will come to this conclusion, vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma sudurlabhah [Bg. 7.19].

If you say, “I can’t believe it, Krsna, Krsna is the origin of everything,” that is of course your business, your independence. Then you wait for many, many births, bahunam janmanam ante [Bg. 7.19]. You come to the same conclusion. But because you have denied, you have to wait for many, many births. You have to come to this conclusion because He is the origin of everything, sarva-karana-karanam [Bs. 5.1]. So there is no other second or alternative. You have (to) come to that conclusion. But if you don’t accept now, you will have to wait for many, many births. But even that, if you are intelligent enough and if you have to accept because Krsna says blindly, that is also good. Just like gold. Gold, you accept blindly or by chemical examination, the gold is the same. So if you are scientist, if you say that “First of all I shall test whether it is gold and chemical composition and other ingredients. Then I will accept you” …And somebody says, “No, my father says it is gold. My Guru Maharaja says it is gold. Well, so many acaryas says it is gold,” then you accept it, gold. So one accepts gold by the authoritative statement of the superiors, and one accepts gold by chemical analysis. So one who accepts by the authority’s statement, he is more advanced. He immediately gets the gold immediately. And those who are awaiting for chemical examination, they will get it. They will also know, but it will take time.

So in this Bhagavad-gita, Krsna Himself explains Himself, analytical study, and Vyasadeva presents Srimad-Bhagavatam, “Here is God, Krsna.” Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya. Now it is up to you to take it or reject it. That is your business, but things are ready for acceptance. So everyone is searching after what is God. Somebody says, “There is no God.” Somebody says, “God is dead.” Somebody, “Something, something,” but no. God is neither dead nor the action, action that “There is no God” — both of them foolishness. God is not dead; neither we are dead. Because we are part and parcel of God. So if God is alive, then part and parcel are alive. Just like if my body is alive, the finger is alive, because finger is part and parcel of my body, similarly, if God is alive, we are alive. And because we are now in material condition of life, therefore we do not understand what is God and what is our aim. Therefore it is called ajnana, ignorance. Therefore one who dissipates this ignorance, he is called guru.

ajnana-timirandhasya
jnananjana-salakaya
caksur unmilitam yena
tasmai sri-gurave namah

The guru means he gives light to the persons who are living in darkness. So that is the motto in our Back to Godhead paper, that “Godhead is light, and nescience is darkness. Where there is God, there is no nescience.” So Krsna or God or light, the same thing. If you take to Krsna consciousness, there will be no more ignorance. Just like here there is light, electric light. There is no darkness. The darkness is there, but when there is light, darkness automatically goes away. Similarly, if you take to Krsna consciousness, then darkness of life immediately goes away. And that is required in human life. The animal life means full of darkness, and the human life, although full of darkness, it can be dissipated. So our request is — we are pushing this Krsna consciousness movement everywhere all over the world — just to drive away the darkness of ignorance and come to the light of knowledge. So this center is open for this purpose. I request you, all of you, to take advantage of this Krsna consciousness movement and be enlightened and be happy in your life. Thank you very much. [break]

Hrdayananda: (translating question:) There are many religions that speak of the light. How can we know we are actually facing the real light?

Prabhupada: Light is to be realized personally. Light… Just like this room is dark. When there is light, it doesn’t require to be enquired, “Is it light?” You personally perceive it is light. Just like you are hungry and foodstuff is given to you and when your hunger is satisfied, appetite is appeased, then you naturally you feel, “Yes, I am satisfied.” You don’t require to enquire anyone. Therefore it is called self-realization. Automatically you realize. You don’t require to enquire. This is the process. [break]

Hrdayananda: …that in the spiritual path everyone has to be married.

Prabhupada: No, not necessarily. If you can remain without marrying, it is better. But because you cannot, you become bachelor daddy, therefore you must marry. (laughter) Please don’t become bachelor daddy. (laughter) This is most sinful life. (end)

Preaching about celibacy


Preaching to nondevotees should generally not be about celibacy, but about the need to become Krishna conscious. If they take up Krishna consciousness then everything else will follow. Newcomers to Krishna consciousness are sometimes discouraged by so many restrictions, especially those on sex. They should be encouraged to chant, take prasada, and associate with devotees. If they want sex life, that is not forbidden—in the grihastha-ashrama. On the other hand, if a young man is ready to be a brahmacari, by all means encourage him.

At least among committed devotees, preaching about celibacy must go on. Shrila Prabhupada: “The whole world is engaging in this vagina problem. These things should be regularly discussed. This is kirtana. If these things are not discussed in our movement, then everything will grow weak. There should be one class after another. Everything is in the books.” (-Told by Satsvarupa dasa Gosvami)

It is undoubtedly difficult to promote celibacy in a world atmosphere where everything is related to sex and women. The whole world today is absorbed in gross sense gratification, of which the ultimate expression is sex. Moreover, so-called scientists and doctors openly state that losing semen is not harmful to health.

If people ask why we are celibate, we can explain to them that it is a prerequisite for self-realization. The mind must be controlled, but it never can be if it is agitated by sex indulgence. One cannot be a transcendentalist, whether a yogi, jnani, or devotee, without being celibate. (Bg. 6.14 purport)

Celibacy has been accepted by priests and monks in leading Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian traditions since time immemorial. Jesus, Buddha, Shankaracarya, and countless others accepted the vow of celibacy. Celibacy is not an old-fashioned, cranky idea, but a dynamic, vital principle for achieving a success so sublime that ordinary people cannot conceive of it at all.

Furthermore, the practice of celibacy has not been limited to the sphere of religion. As Dr. R.W. Bernard notes in his book Science Discovers the Physiological Value of Continence: (-1957, Health Research Labs, Mokelumne Hill, California)

“The greatest intellectual geniuses in both ancient and modern times led continent lives, and there is yet to be recorded one individual who freely expended seminal fluid who ever amounted to anything. In most cases, individuals who have achieved have been forced by necessity to abstain from sexual indulgence, as Cervantes, who wrote Don Quixote while in prison, or Dante who wrote his Divine Comedy while in exile. Milton wrote Paradise Lost when blind and when he did not indulge in sex. Sir Isaac Newton, active in intellect until the age of 80, led a continent life from birth, and so did Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, both of whom retained their creative genius (until) an advanced age.”

Other famous celibates include Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Spinoza, Kant, Beethoven, and Herbert Spencer. Many other philosophers, artists, and scientists have preferred to sublimate the sex drive so as to increase their creativity and concentrate their energy on intellectual pursuits.

This stands as evidence against the standard Freudian objection that celibates become frustrated and should therefore be allowed to indulge.* It is true that restricting the body without being able to control the mind could lead to psychosis. Without developing a higher consciousness, celibacy will be torture. But many non-celibates also suffer frustration, anxiety, or physical disease, caused directly or indirectly by sex. Celibate or non-celibate, the real problem is sex.

Furthermore, those with knowledge of the laws of karma understand that indulgence in sex entangles the conditioned souls ever more deeply in material bondage. The ultimate solution, then, is neither to accept nor reject sex, but to rise above it altogether to come to the spiritual platform. A fully Krishna conscious person can be fully celibate or can have a dozen children, but either way his consciousness is never contaminated. But for the neophyte transcendentalist, sexual agitation is a major disturbance in his meditation on the Absolute Truth.

Therefore, aspiring devotees who are capable of doing so are advised to remain completely celibate—if they can control their minds. Otherwise, devotees may get married and engage in restricted sex during part of their lives.

Nevertheless, sex is risky. Even within marriage, if sex is engaged in at the wrong time, in the wrong place, in the wrong consciousness, or without having undergone the required purificatory rituals, both man and woman become punishable by the laws of nature. Yet the pushing of sex desire is so strong that, even knowing all this, we become impelled to commit sinful acts. Kama esha krodha esha. Therefore it is best to remain brahmacaris, strictly avoiding contact with women so as not to be victimized.

Devotees must be convinced of the necessity of sense control. We must know that sense control is in our real self-interest. Without becoming free from sense gratification, especially sex, no one can achieve perfection in Krishna consciousness. Brahmacarya is that essential training and practice in sense control and detachment, through which perfection is finally attained. We must be determined to follow the principles of brahmacarya, otherwise we cannot make any progress.

In preaching, another approach is to explain the deleterious effects of sex, animal slaughter, gambling, and intoxication on society. Crime, war, floods, droughts, famine, cancer, AIDS, and multifarious other problems are scourging the world. Learned professors write big scholarly treatises suggesting how to overcome the problems, but the problems remain. People do not know that they are reaping the poisonous harvest of sinful activities, especially of cow killing and illicit sex. However, even a hundred years ago, sense control was considered a virtue and excessive sense indulgence a vice.

It was only after “Man from monkeys” Darwin and “Let loose” Freud that the old barriers collapsed. Free sex flourished. Gradually, divorce, “living together,” unmarried mothers, birth control, abortion, and homosexuality—all formerly banned and considered despicable—became socially acceptable. Nowadays austerity for spiritual advancement is considered despicable. The resultant society is a disaster, and getting worse. Now even child abuse and incest have become everyday affairs. The materialists express their horror, but probably after some time they will legalize and encourage these types of sinful activities as well.

It is quite possible because the whole society is made up of varna-sankara—children begotten in lust. John Lennon observed that, “Most children are born over a bottle of whisky on Saturday night.” The degraded consciousness of such unwanted by-products is unimaginable. Born in the mode of ignorance, they are totally blind to the necessity of sense control. They are constantly involved in all kinds of abominable activities, considering them quite normal, and never for a moment imagine that the reactions to sinful activity are the cause of all chaos in human society.

The Brahmachari Ashrama


The brahmacari quarters may be dormitory type or divided into smaller rooms. In either case, it’s better if the brahmacaris all stay together in one area. Staying alone or having too much privacy is never recommended for devotees. The tendency is to oversleep or otherwise fall into maya.

Shrila Prabhupada once walked into the brahmacari room (10.8 x 3.5 meters) in Hyderabad and said, “Forty brahmacaris can stay in here.” The devotees were stunned and thought Shrila Prabhupada was joking, but he wasn’t. (Told by Anandamaya dasa)

The brahmacari-ashrama should, obviously, be far away from the brahmacarini and householder areas, and, preferably, close to the temple. There should be adequate toilet and bathing facilities so that everyone can conveniently get to mangala-arati on time.

A full set of Shrila Prabhupada’s books should be available, or better still, there should be a separate library-cum-study. (Too many of our temples still don’t provide this important facility. Devotees, especially brahmacaris, give up everything to serve Krishna. If at all possible they should have a place where they can go to peacefully absorb themselves in Shrila Prabhupada’s books.)

In the early days of ISKCON, devotees didn’t used to sleep on beds, but they are standard fittings in many of our ashramas nowadays. Beds aren’t necessarily a bad thing (although brahmacaris traditionally aren’t supposed to use them), but personally I don’t see the advantage to having them. Apart from costing money, they take up valuable space and provide a constant temptation to be used. Besides, soft mattresses are bad for health. Sleeping on the floor is conducive to the brahmacari ideals of simplicity and austerity. A brahmacari doesn’t need any special arrangement—he can take rest anywhere. A bed is just something else to get attached to. On rising, a brahmacari rolls up his bedding neatly, puts it away (out of sight, out of mind) and sponges the floor where he slept. Shrila Prabhupada: “A brahmacari lies down on the floor.” (Lecture, 01/11/72)

Pictures on the brahmacari room walls (or anywhere else, for that matter) should be properly framed, not just ripped out of a magazine and stuck up haphazardly with sticky tape. Don’t sleep with your feet toward them! Mirrors are anathema for brahmacaris, so just keep a small one on the wall so the boys can put their tilaka on nicely.

The brahmacari-ashrama must be kept neat and clean. That means sweeping out and washing with water every day. Shrila Prabhupada: “If devotees don’t clean their rooms every day with water, then they are living like hogs.” Don’t just leave things lying around; have lockers and use them. If we make a mess, we should clean it up on the spot, not leave it for someone else to tidy up. Keep a waste bin, use it, and empty it out daily. Keep a laundry basket, too, and place dirty cloth in it, not on top of it, near it, around it or half-in and half-out. Hang washed cloth to dry outside or in a separate room. Towels and kaupinas especially should be out of sight. Keep walls, ceilings, fans, windows, and pictures clean too. Don’t make a mess with the tilaka. Watch out for cobwebs and accumulated dust in corners and behind cupboards.

Basic rules of communal living should be observed. Items used communally (such as books) should not be taken away. After using, return them to the place where they are kept. And take permission before using anyone’s personal possessions.

Bringing prasada into the brahmacari-ashrama invites ants, cockroaches, and mice; and stashing prasada is against the pure devotional principles. The Bhagavatam states, “A saintly mendicant should not even collect foodstuffs to eat later in the same day or the next day. If he disregards this injunction and like the honeybee collects more and more delicious foodstuffs, that which he has collected will indeed ruin him.” (SB 11.8.12)

Keep the air fresh by burning incense and letting fresh air in as much as possible. Bad smells are horrible, and stale air is unhealthy. Be sure to keep the toilets and bathroom area always clean and disinfected. Unless peak cleanliness is maintained, disease can spread rapidly in communal situations.

There’s no real place in the brahmacari-ashrama for karmi books, magazines, or newspapers. Those devotees who really have to read such things in relation to their service can do so privately.

In a strict ashrama, lights go on and off at fixed times (e.g. 3:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m.). Best is to awake to a Prabhupada bhajana cassette. Late resters and early risers should go quietly, avoiding turning the lights on and only using a flashlight if necessary, and even then being careful not to shine it in others’ faces. So-called brahmacaris who unnecessarily stay up late at night making so much noise that others cannot rest properly, and who then sleep in the morning program, are not proper brahmacaris and are not fit to live in an ashrama.

On waking, don’t lie in your bedding trying to enjoy the stupor of semi-consciousness. Rise immediately and chant Hare Krishna. Reluctant risers should be firmly coaxed into action—don’t let them rot in their misery. Shrila Prabhupada: “One who cannot rise early is not very serious about spiritual life.” (SPL Ch. 33)

Most important of all to make the brahmacari residence actually an ashrama is to keep the Krishna conscious mood strong. That depends on the devotees themselves. Talk philosophy, chant the holy names, read Prabhupada’s books, recite shlokas. Don’t waste time, and don’t talk prajalpa. Otherwise the atmosphere will be intolerable.

General Behavior & Disposition of a Brahmachari


Every being is an individual. All the rules and regulations in the world can’t snuff out a person’s individuality. So despite the brahmacäré’s adherence to a strict regime, there are all kinds of characters in the brahmacäré-äshrama. Eccentricity is not uncommon amongst those who strive for the extraordinary, and brahmacärés are no exception. Everyone has idiosyncrasies, and these become more apparent when we live lives of constant endeavor with little or no privacy—there are quite a few singular devotees around! Such variety adds spice to our already interesting lives in Krishna consciousness. Zaniness, however, is not the standard. The standard is, as Shréla Prabhupäda said, that a devotee be a perfect gentleman.

Below are a few guidelines on the behavior of an ideal brahmacäré. If you don’t exactly fit the description, don’t worry—hardly anyone does. We are all struggling with the modes of material nature on different rungs of the ladder of spiritual advancement. But make the effort to reach the standard of excellence. Take lessons and inspiration from the activities and dealings of great devotees like the six Gosvämés of Vrindävana and Shréla Prabhupäda. If you observe any good qualities in a devotee, be he a sannyäsé or a new bhakta, learn from him. Try, try, try.

Submission to and friendship with the guru are the directing principles in the life of a brahmacäré. (SB 7.12.1) He always tries to avoid doing anything which would displease his guru, who he worships as a pure representative of Shréla Prabhupäda and the guru-paramparä. In his dealings with others he is straightforward and fair, being ever conscious that he is representing his guru. Thus a brahmacäré is sushéläh sädhavah, a well-behaved saintly person. (SB 6.1.17) He does not try to draw attention to himself. He is self-satisfied, jolly, and confident—never morose. So naturally everyone—even the nondevotees—like him. The six Gosvämés were dear to both the gentle and the ruffians because they were never envious of anyone. Shréla Prabhupäda wrote that, “In our common dealings we should maintain friendship with everyone.” (SB 4.11.34) (Then what to speak of with devotees.)

Närada Muni describes brahmacärés as däsavan nécah: very humble, submissive, and obedient, like a slave. (SB 7.12.1) If a brahmacäré is not obedient, there is no meaning to his being a brahmacäré. Brahmacärés should be prepared to work hard, undergo austerities, accept discipline, and surrender. It is somewhat understandable (although not very good) if a householder is not very surrendered. But for a brahmacäré not to be so is an aberration. If a brahmacäré, especially a junior brahmacäré, is not prepared to surrender, be disciplined, and accept authority, he is no brahmacäré at all and is not fit to live in an äshrama.

Too much independence is not good, especially for brahmacärés newly joining the äshrama. A newcomer should be prepared to buckle under and do what he is told without complaining. By following this disciplinary process, the sense of surrender becomes fixed and strong. Such a brahmacäré can be relied upon to do well in any conditions.

Brahmacärés are traditionally meant for service, not to be served, so brahmacärés should not expect or demand service from others. Rather, they should be eager to serve others. Specifically, brahmacärés traditionally act as assistants to sannyäsés. A brahmacäré should be reluctant to accept service from others, especially on a regular basis, and certainly should not have a personal servant. An exception may be a brahmacäré who has been engaged in devotional service over many years and is physically incapacitated in old age. Even then, such a personal servant should not be a godbrother or one on the level of a godbrother.

The ideal brahmacäré dedicates his life for spiritual advancement and always endeavors to be self-controlled and detached from material enjoyment. However, he is not mindlessly fanatical and does not condemn devotees who do not follow as strictly as he does. He is not ignorant or naive or a ball of passion, but conducts himself in the mode of goodness, as a brähmana.

Steadiness is the bedrock of brahmacäré life. Having in the beginning accepted training in the principles of Krishna consciousness, a serious brahmacäré maintains continued, firm adherence to those standards throughout his life.

If a devotee is following all the principles and serving nicely (as all good brahmacärés do), mäyä will try to trick him into being falsely proud, into thinking himself better than other devotees. We should consider that even if we are doing well now, we have no guarantee that we shall be able to consistently maintain such a high standard. Many devotees before us have advanced dramatically, only to fall due to offenses caused by false pride. Genuine and steady advancement must be accompanied by humility, for pride goes before a fall.

Retention of Semen: Why is it required?


Retention of semen is so essential in progressive human life that it is simply astounding how the whole endeavor of modern civilization is based on discharging it as much as possible. Semen retained in the body goes upwards to nourish the brain, rendering the body robust and the memory and intellect sharp. Determination, optimism, confidence, will-power, fixed intelligence, noble character, photographic memory, and shining good health are all fruits of conserved semen. It is said that the four Kumaras were unwilling to adopt materialistic activities because they were highly elevated due to their semens’ flowing upwards (urdhva-retasah). (SB 3.12.4)

Scientists have analyzed semen to be amazingly rich in hormones, proteins, vitamins, minerals, ions, enzymes, trace elements, and other vital substances. By nature’s arrangement, this substance, when mixed with the ovum, is sufficient for the procreation of a new body. By nature’s arrangement also, if it is not used for procreation but is kept within, it nourishes the body and brain in a way impossible for any tonic or dietary aid to emulate. The current craze for vitamin and mineral supplements is an attempt to make up for self-imposed deficiencies. Most people don’t know that they are passing out their very life energy with that essential bodily fluid. If semen is lost, all bodily and sensory functions are weakened. Repeated loss of semen spoils the determination and clear, sattvika intelligence necessary for spiritual understanding. However, if semen is retained in the body, there develops what Ayurveda refers to as ojas, a vital fluid that gives strength, luster, enhanced mental abilities and immunity to diseases, and slows the aging process.

Scientists cannot prove or disprove this, but it is observable in the brightness of yogis and the dullness of those who regularly “spill their brains out.” Retention of semen, then, is ultimately meant for the evolution of the human being to higher levels of spiritual consciousness. Simply by retaining semen in the body, one develops a tendency towards greatness.

On the other hand, those who are addicted to discharging semen become petty and bestially lusty. The disastrous fruits of their promiscuity await them. They will be forced to devolve into lower species of life. Even in this life, excessive seminal loss can lead to physical and mental weakness. As the body ages, vitality and the will to get things done ebb away, and perpetual tiredness sets in. The pills and intoxicants people take to artificially keep them bright and active further add to their physical and mental degeneration. As premature old age sets in, their exhausted bodies cannot resist the dozens of diseases which proceed to ravage every cell in their organism. For such persons, the all-too-common senility comes as a relief. Shrila Prabhupada: “The more one enjoys in youth, the more he suffers in old age.” (SB 4.28.1)

Shrila Prabhupada: “Wasting semen is also illicit sex.” (SB 7.12, Introduction) “The faculty to discharge semen is the cause of death. Therefore, yogis and transcendentalists who want to live for greater spans of life voluntarily restrain themselves from discharging semen. The more one can restrain the discharge of semen, the more one can be aloof from the problem of death. There are many yogis living up to three hundred or seven hundred years by this process, and in the Bhagavatam it is clearly stated that discharging semen is the cause of horrible death. The more one is addicted to sexual enjoyment, the more susceptible he is to a quick death.” (SB 3.26.57)

Therefore, brahmacaris are trained not to squander their semen. They must resist the temporary feeling of gratification that is bought at the cost of their own life energy.

Unfortunately, almost all devotees coming to Krishna consciousness never had such training—rather, the opposite. And for those who regularly discharged semen, it will be difficult to stop the downward flow. But we have to try. Shrila Prabhupada: “Everyone should be taught to be very careful not to discharge semen unnecessarily. This is very important for all human beings.” (SB 7.11.8-12) Here are a few hints that will help.

First and foremost: don’t think of women. Lustful thoughts provoke activity in the sexual glands. If we think of sex, we shouldn’t be surprised if we suffer a nocturnal discharge.

But even a devotee seriously striving for brahmacarya may nevertheless be tormented by sex dreams. In the waking state he can control his mind with good intelligence, but in dreams low desires deeply ingrained in his subconsciousness may become manifest. The real cure for this is complete purification of consciousness by devotional service, but as this may take some time, the several physical factors that affect the retention of semen may be taken into consideration.

It is important not to excessively raise the internal heat of the body. Ayurveda describes internal heat as a condition of excess pitta (bile) that is associated with the mode of passion, experienced as heat in the body generated by a passionate mood or by eating hot rajasika food such as that with much chili powder. Ayurveda also cautions putting downward pressure on the genitals by packing the stomach with food.

Diet and eating habits, therefore, are very important. Transcendentalists should eat simply (See section on “Eating” under “Health”) and moderately. By overeating, more energy is taken into the body than it can use, which tends to make it come out in the form of seminal discharge. And an overly filled belly exerts pressure on the genitals, causing a tendency towards seminal discharge.

Avoid sleeping with a full belly—a yogi practices not eating at night. The last meal should be taken at least 2-3 hours before sleeping. The food should be light and easily digestible. Even hot milk should not be taken immediately before retiring, but about half an hour before. Rich, heavy, fried, spicy, and sweet foods heat the body, so be cautious with them, especially at night. Sour foods (such as sour or acidic fruit and yogurt) and bitter foods should be avoided at night, as should sweets, cheese, and thick milk preparations. Milk that has gone even slightly sour should not be taken at night.

Some vegetables contain a substance that thins the semen, making it prone to discharge. Worst among them is eggplant. The skin of eggplant is especially bad. Next worst is green chilies. Traditional Shri Vaishnavas exclude chilies, tamarind, and drumsticks (a type of vegetable) from their diet because of their sexually stimulating effect. Carrots, drumsticks, and to a lesser extent beetroot, heat the semen and therefore make it prone to discharge. However, this effect is not very pronounced, and brahmacaris can take these vegetables in moderate quantities.

It is best to sleep no more than six hours at night and minimally or not at all during the day. If one cannot rise early, his so-called practice of brahmacarya is simply a farce. And late nights are bad for overall health as well as for seminal retention. So best is early to bed and early to rise. Sleeping during the brahma-muhurta, at dawn or dusk, or when not really tired, are also dangerous—there’s a high seminal loss risk. When a person is actually tired, his sleep will be deep, and disturbance from dreams will be less likely—another good reason for devotees to minimize sleep.

Some Ayurvedic authorities recommend sleeping on the right side as best for brahmacarya. Next best is the left side, not so good is on the back, and absolutely bad for health and dangerous for seminal discharge is sleeping on the stomach. Sleep with the back more or less straight (not curled up) and with the hands away from the genital area. If you are a light sleeper, try to rest in such a place that you won’t be disturbed. Before resting, pass all water out of the bladder, wash hands and feet with cool water, and dry them.

Constipation is a major factor behind nocturnal emission. If the bowels are not cleared daily, stool and associated toxins accumulate in the rectum or colon. This increases the pitta (heat) in the area and also exerts pressure on the seminal sac, facilitating the excretion of semen. However, straining when passing stool should be avoided, as this also exerts pressure on the seminal sac.

Other points: Bathing with cool (not very cold) water is better than with hot. Or use warm water first to get clean then finish with cold. Bucket bath is more effective than showering to cool the body. Pouring plenty of cool water over the whole genital area may be done as a daily practice. Rinsing the penis after urination removes uric acid that can agitate the sexual gland. Fasting as completely as possible on Ekadashi is supposed to help. There are several Ayurvedic medicines and yogasanas which are specifically meant to enhance brahmacarya, and although Shrila Prabhupada never recommended them, that does not necessarily mean that we cannot use them—although they may not work wonders. Triphala (usually taken as Triphala Churna) is a well-known, inexpensive Ayurvedic medicine that is helpful for many conditions and is good for brahmacarya. Licorice (Sanskrit: Yashti-madhu), taken regularly, can help prevent seminal discharge. However, it is best yo take raw licorice rather than in the form of commercially prepared sweets. Ayurvedic treatment may help if one can find a good doctor and follow his instructions strictly over an extended period of time; but this should not be necessary for most devotees.

At least once, when Shrila Prabhupada saw a devotee shaking his legs while sitting cross-legged, he stopped him. Such leg-shaking is a sign of mental agitation and further agitates the genitals.

In a Bhagavatam class in Melbourne, Shrila Prabhupada said, “If one can just retain his semen up to age twenty-five, the brain becomes so fertile for spiritual realization.” Then, looking around and seeing all the depressed faces, he continued, “But if you just chant Hare Krishna, everything will be alright anyway.” (Quoted by Bhurijana dasa)

It’s Kali-yuga; we’re all fallen. Many devotees have lost semen so many times in their pre-devotional lives that even though they want to, they can’t stop their bodies involuntarily discharging it now. Even serious devotees who are averse to losing semen may nevertheless inadvertently do so, due to external influences on the body and mind, such as residual contamination from pre-devotional life, physical disorders that render the body weak, bodily heat, and subtle contaminations through eating the food of sinful people.

There is no cause for excessive lamentation if loss of semen is not a result of a conscientious endeavor for or meditation on sex. Inadvertent discharge of semen may be as accidental (and undesirable) as, for instance, the loss of a tooth. Considering that the body is always producing semen, occasional spillage may be taken as natural overflow. Shastra gives rituals for physical and mental purification for such accidental emissions, although for ISKCON brahmacaris, bathing and chanting Hare Krishna is sufficient. In such cases, brahmacaris need not be blamed for breaking the principles or not practicing them properly.

Still, the less it happens the better, and brahmacaris, besides engaging in directly devotional practices, must try to control seminal loss by whatever methods they can easily adopt. They should be mindful about what, when, how much and where they eat, their sleeping habits, who they talk with and listen to, their posture while sleeping and sitting, and their overall physical health. They may also take to physical exercises or yoga if it genuinely helps their brahmacari life.

Despite all endeavors, if a brahmacari still loses semen, he may feel disgusted, but should know that it is not a disqualification for devotional service. The real qualification of a brahmacari is that he wants to surrender his life to Krishna and thus be free of sex life forever. Such determination transcends any material conditions, for Krishna helps those who are sincere. Brahmacaris suffering from nocturnal emissions may take comfort in knowing that they are by no means alone with this problem. Let us all chant Hare Krishna and pray for the mercy of Lord Chaitanya, the savior of the fallen.

The following quote from Shrila Prabhupada may be applied to unwanted seminal discharges. “(A devotee) is callous toward incidental occurrences, but he is always alert to execute his duties in Krishna consciousness, or bhakti-yoga. Accidents never deviate him from his duty. As stated in the Bhagavad-gita (2.14), agamapayino ’nityas tams titikshasva bharata. He endures all such incidental occurrences because he knows that they come and go and do not affect his duties. In this way he achieves the highest perfection in yoga practice.” (Bg. 6.20-23)

The appearance and dress of a Brahmachari


“Carrying pure kusha grass in his hand, the brahmacäré should dress regularly with a belt of straw and with deerskin garments. He should wear matted hair, carry a rod and waterpot and be decorated with a sacred thread, as recommended in the shästras.” (SB 7.12.4)

This is Närada Muni’s description of a brahmacäré’s apparel. Shréla Prabhupäda, the äcärya for the modern age in the line of Närada Muni, dressed his brahmacärés in saffron and had them shave their heads.

ISKCON brahmacärés should have a shaved head with shikhä, and tilaka markings on twelve places of the body; wear saffron cloth; wear a kaupéna; be simple, neat, and clean; and look blissful.

Shaved head, shikhä, tilaka, and saffron robes are, after all, the very signs of a devotee brahmacäré. We’re famous for it. Never mind what people think (and often it’s not nearly as bad as some devotees imagine), if they see a devotee in Vaishnava dress, they think, “That’s a Hare Krishna” and thus make a little spiritual advancement.

If we’re bold enough to always present ourselves as devotees, eventually we’ll be accepted on our own terms. Sometimes it may be necessary for a devotee to wear karmé clothes. But if we make a habit of disguising ourselves, people will think we have something to hide. Therefore, as much as possible devotees should present themselves straightforwardly as devotees.

Dressing as a Vaishnava is good for us, too. It helps us to feel like we are devotees—we are different from materialistic people, and that’s the way we want to be. When we go out into the material world, we’ll have to remember that we are representing Prabhupäda and ISKCON, and behave accordingly. Dressed as Vaishnavas, we often provoke questions which get us preaching to people who might otherwise never speak to a devotee.

Dressing as devotees also acts as a shield against indulgence in sense gratification. Karmé dress is dangerous—a subtle license to do things we could not in dhoti and kurtä. For instance, brahmacärés are usually young, healthy, and bright, and therefore attractive to women; but a lot less so if they’re shaven-headed, with tilaka and saffron robes. The ultimate argument for wearing devotee clothes and tilaka, with shaved head and shikhä, is simply that Shréla Prabhupäda wanted us to do so.

Devotees who are obliged to wear karmé clothes in the course of performing devotional service should not become habituated to them. The best thing is, on returning to the äshrama, to immediately shower, apply tilaka, and don devotee clothes. For attendance in temple programs, there should be no question of wearing karmé clothes. For male and female devotees to regularly and unnecessarily be around each other in karmé clothes tends to create an unchaste atmosphere and should be avoided.

Hair means attachment, so unless it is really necessary to keep some hair, brahmacärés should shave their heads once a week, once a fortnight, or absolute minimum once a month.* Saffron cloth with long hair looks incongruous—the color of renunciation with the symptoms of attachment.

The face should also be kept clean-shaved, with no stubble, sideburns, or mustaches. It is good to keep the armpits shaved also, especially in hot climates where shirts are not always worn, and for devotees who go on the altar.

The shikhä should be small (Shréla Prabhupäda: “Gaudiya Vaishnava shikhä is an inch and a half across—no bigger. Bigger shikhä means another sampradäya.”) (Conversation, 05/05/72) and knotted. It should not be braided or allowed to become matted.

Just keep as many clothes as you need—say three sets of devotee clothes and, if necessary, some karmé clothes. Don’t build up a wardrobe—that is atyähärah, over-collecting, and is detrimental to devotional advancement. (NOI, Text 2)

Householders wear white, and brahmacärés and sannyäsés saffron. So the two should not be mixed up. Devotees should wear one or the other, and make it clear which äshrama they are in. Traditionally, saffron is the color of sannyäsa, renunciation. It should not be worn as a fashion, but by those responsible enough to uphold the seriousness it implies.

Clothes should not be dyed too red. Dark red cloth is worn by Mäyävädés and worshippers of Shiva and Kälé. And devotees wearing saffron look better if all their clothes are of the same shade—not that their dhoti is pale pink and their kurtä bright orange.

Some brahmacärés opt to wear white, considering the saffron dress and the responsibility that goes with it unsuitable for them in their present state of consciousness. They may have decided to get married, or are tending towards marriage, but have no immediate plan to actually enter into marriage. Or they may consider their consciousness too contaminated or their approach to devotional service insufficiently strict to merit their wearing of saffron. On the whole, it is better that those who are neither married nor strictly practicing renunciation wear white and not misrepresent themselves as renunciates. Certainly no one who accepts payment for services rendered should dare to don saffron.

When buying socks, cädaras, jackets, scarves, or hats, if pink or orange are not available, beige, brown, gray, or maroon are also acceptable. Red, white, yellow, and even black are also possible colors for auxiliary clothing for brahmacärés; green, blue, and multicolored are best avoided.

Brahmacärés wear a full-length dhoti with a kacha (the piece tucked in at the back). To go without a kaccha is for sannyäsés only. Similarly, the saffron knotted top-piece, whether worn to the front or to the side, is only for sannyäsés. However, there is no restriction on householders, especially those engaged in pujäré service, sometimes wearing a white knotted top-piece.

Kaupénas aid in sense control by regulating certain nerves that can otherwise cause agitation. They should be worn firmly, but not so tight as to hurt. Kaupénas are practical for brähmanas taking bath three times daily, because they dry quickly. They are also cheap. It is unfortunate that many of our devotees prefer to wear karmé underpants. The kaupéna should be tucked in at the back, not sticking out like a monkey’s tail. Kaupénas should be made of two pieces of cloth. The width should be equal to the distance between the two nipples, and the length should be equal to the girth of the waist plus two fists. According to shästra, the part that goes around the waist should be knotted on the right side.

T-shirts with nondevotional themes are useless and unnecessary for devotees. When wearing a T-shirt with the holy names or a devotional motif printed on it, or a harinäma cädara, be careful when paying obeisances not to touch them to the ground. And better not wash them (or your bead-bag) in a toilet-cum-bathroom, or along with socks, kaupénas or other contaminated articles.

A brahmacäré dresses simply and neatly and keeps himself and his cloth clean. In certain preaching circumstances there may be justification for “fancy dress,” but generally simple cotton dhoti and kurtä are most suitable for brahmacärés. But we should not look like poverty-stricken beggars. Badly torn or soiled cloth should be replaced. And we must have some kind of footwear. If we go barefoot people will take us for hippies. And, for preaching in formal situations, it is best that clothes be ironed.

Dress sensibly. If it’s cold, wear warm clothes. Especially the feet should be kept warm. Wear socks while standing or walking on cold floors.

Rings, bracelets, expensive watches, designer sunglasses, embroidered kurtäs, and dhotis with fancy borders are generally signs of someone who is promoting his body, or in other words, trying to attract women. Grihasthas may or may not use them, and no one is likely to say anything, but they are not suitable for brahmacärés. The same goes for strongly scented after-shave, deodorants, and soaps.

Sometimes it is postulated that people may be attracted by a show of opulence. That is especially true in poor countries, and therefore Shréla Prabhupäda built gorgeous temples in India. Our preachers in India often wear expensive cloth, just to create a good impression. But sometimes a display of opulence backfires—people mistake us for materialists in the garb of sädhus. And factually, unless we have sufficient realization, simply wearing silk won’t make us preachers.

Shréla Prabhupäda stressed that our greatest asset is our purity. So, devotees should always look blissful. (Have a look through the real old BTG’s—you’ll be amazed to see dozens of dazzling devotee photos.) Shréla Prabhupäda: “It is essential that a brahmacäré engaged in spiritual advancement look very healthy and lustrous.” (SB 3.21.47) If a devotee looks dull and morose we can understand that he is not relishing devotional service, but is contemplating sense gratification. The face is the index of the mind.

We can’t fake it, and if we try, we’ll look ridiculous. Cutting a profile never made anybody into a brahmacäré. But if we’ve got it, our genuine bliss is the best advertisement for Krishna consciousness.

Attitude in Devotional Service


One of the most important statements about Krishna consciousness is in Shrila Prabhupada’s Preface to the Nectar of Instruction: “Advancement in Krishna consciousness depends on the attitude of the follower.” Shrila Prabhupada has stated that anyone can become a pure devotee of Krishna immediately, if he simply desires to. Advancement in devotional service means to purify our desires, and pure devotional service means to be fully absorbed in serving Krishna without even the subtlest desire for any personal sense gratification.

Only the most fortunate people can come to Krishna consciousness. People come to devotional service for a variety of reasons. Some are seeking shelter from intense distress, others are looking for a simple, alternative lifestyle, some come out of curiosity, to see what it is all about, some because they want a cleaner, better life for themselves and their families. Some are directly searching for God and the meaning of life.

Of course, real devotional service is completely unmotivated, even by desires for peace and holistic well-being. Only such a surrendered attitude can bring complete satisfaction to the self. Those who are most intelligent will, from the beginning of their practice of Krishna consciousness, sincerely endeavor to be pure devotees of Krishna. Such an attitude is always to be encouraged, for it is the essence of our movement.

Others, however, may consider such an outlook to be utopian. How is it possible, they will postulate, for those coming from such sinful backgrounds to consider seriously the prospect of becoming pure devotees, completely free from all material desires? “Better be realistic,” they say, “make some compromise with maya, and continue at some level of Krishna consciousness.” Of course, everyone is encouraged to begin devotional service at whatever level he finds convenient, and it is not expected that all will take to it fully from the very beginning. Indeed, the whole system of varnashrama-dharma (which forms the basis of Vedic culture) is meant for the gradual elevation of materially contaminated persons who are willing to adopt some measure of Krishna consciousness into their lives but are not yet prepared for full surrender to Krishna.

However, Shrila Prabhupada’s whole mood (and that of Lord Chaitanya and of our entire sampradaya) is that Krishna consciousness is so easily available in this Kali-yuga by the easy process of chanting Hare Krishna, so why not take full advantage of it, perfect our lives, and go back home, back to Godhead? Shrila Prabhupada: “Don’t think that this chanting and dancing will not lead to the desired goal. It will. It is the assurance of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu that one will get all perfection by this process.” (-Purport to the song Parama-karuna)

It is with this faith that brahmacaris engage in devotional activities. True brahmacaris strive for the mood of ahaituky-apratihata-bhakti—constant engagement in devotional service without any personal motive. (SB 1.2.6) They are always eager for service and do not expect any special facilities or respect in return. Such pure devotional service is the ideal and essence of brahmacari life.

Devotees who are not thus striving for perfection, who are executing mixed devotional service, may consider the prospect of becoming a pure devotee in this life to be impossible. Especially those who were once thus endeavoring, but who have fallen away from the strict standard of devotional service, may even be cynical about the efforts of those devotees who continue to perform devotional service with enthusiasm. But we should know this for what it is: maya.

Just because someone has fallen away doesn’t mean that everybody will fall away. The process of Krishna consciousness is perfect. If anybody follows it with sincerity and vigor and refuses to leave the path under any circumstances, his success is guaranteed. If anybody leaves this movement it is not the fault of the process. It is the failure of the individual to surrender to it.

We should be careful to avoid developing negative attitudes in our devotional life. After all, whatever difficulties the material energy throws at us (as she undoubtedly will, to test our sincerity and fortitude), we always have cause for optimism because we are on the path back to Godhead. Shrila Prabhupada: “As long as a person is fully in cooperation with the wishes of the Lord, guided by the bona fide brahmanas and Vaishnavas and strictly following regulative principles, one has no cause for despondency, however trying the circumstances of life.” (SB 1.9.12) So it is better to avoid the company of doubters and groaners and make our lifetime plans for serving Krishna within this movement. Why not?

We have already come so far. We have turned our backs on materialistic values, shaved our heads, donned dhotis and tilaka—so why not go the whole way and surrender fully to Krishna? At least we should try for that. Shrila Prabhupada gave the example that if a student makes the effort to pass an exam in the top grade he will at least get a passing grade; but if he simply aims for a pass, he is likely to fail. (Lecture, 17/01/71) So we should think, “In this life I will end all association with this material world forever. I will attain Krishna consciousness.”

Often young brahmacaris, fresh from the grind of material life, are bursting with enthusiasm; but after some time they may lose that freshness. Shrila Prabhupada noted that, “Beginners in Krishna consciousness have a tendency to relax their efforts in a short time, but to advance spiritually you must resist this temptation and continually increase your efforts and devotion.” (SPL Ch. 19)

Young brahmacaris are usually trained strictly in the beginning. But after being in the movement a few years, when they become a little mature in devotional service, the pressure is often relaxed. It may be that no one is pushing them to surrender or to follow the temple programs diligently. At that time the devotee’s spiritual advancement will depend to a much greater extent on his own determination to apply himself to the process of Krishna consciousness. It is required that devotees become spiritually grown-up. Make a commitment to stay in this movement and go on practicing Krishna consciousness no matter what. And always endeavor to become an advanced devotee. “Without sincere endeavor in devotional service one cannot obtain love of Godhead.” (Cc. Madhya 24.171) “An easygoing life and attainment of perfection in transcendental realization cannot go together.” (SB 2.9.24)

Restricting association with opposite sex


Since the dawn of history, materialists have written thousands of books about dealing with women, and it is still a mystery to them. Especially if women are accepted as sense objects, relationships with them remain inextricably complex: nectar in the beginning, poison in the end. The brahmacari has no real business associating with women—whatever must be there, he keeps as brief as possible. He knows that the male human form is meant for self-realization, and that attraction to the female form blocks such spiritual advancement.

Therefore the Vedic culture has always carefully restricted the mixing of men and women. Most of the time traditional brahmacaris wouldn’t see women at all, as they would be busy with their studies. Addressing all women as mata (mother), the only relationship they might have was with their guru’s wife, who in the absence of their real mother would look after the boys. Even then there were restrictions, especially after the boys reached puberty and if the wife was young. Brahmacaris would not even see any young woman for the first twenty-five years of their lives. (Lecture, 06/02/75) Vanaprasthas kept the company of their aging wives, under strict vows, but for sannyasis, association with women was meant to be zero. Even grihasthas were only allowed limited association. Free mixing with women was only for shudras and outcastes (i.e., those with no higher values of life).

For those interested in spiritual advancement, association with women must be restricted to the minimum. In the presence of a woman, the consciousness of a man changes. Even if several serious brahmacaris are present in a room, and a chaste devotee woman enters for some reason, the mentality of the men consciously or unconsciously will change. They will become self-conscious in their words and actions. So, even having philosophically accepted that we are all spirit souls, and even if we want to be liberal and forget the formalities and relate to women on a person-to-person basis, the shastra forbids us to do so.

“As long as a living entity is not completely self-realized—as long as he is not independent of the misconception of identifying with his body, which is nothing but a reflection of the original body and senses—he cannot be relieved of the conception of duality, which is epitomized by the duality between man and woman. Thus there is every chance that he will fall down because his intelligence is bewildered.” (SB 7.12.10, text)

In the purport to this verse, Shrila Prabhupada elaborates: “One must realize perfectly that the living being is a spirit soul and is tasting various types of material bodies. One may theoretically understand this, but when one has practical realization, then he becomes a pandita, one who knows. Until that time, the duality continues, and the conception of man and woman also continues. In this stage, one should be very careful in mixing with women. No one should think himself perfect and forget the shastric injunction that one should be careful about associating even with his daughter, mother, or sister, not to speak of other women.”

In Krishna consciousness, man is good and woman is good; but, in the conditional stage, the combination is always dangerous. (Conversation, 31/07/76)  Better to be careful than sorry. Even in the short history of ISKCON, we have seen many stalwart, sincere devotees (including sannyasis) fall down because of carelessness and complacency in dealing with women. “In our Krishna consciousness movement it is advised that the sannyasis and brahmacaris keep strictly aloof from the association of women so that there will be no chance of their falling down again as victims of lusty desires.” (SB 7.15.36)

The material world is so designed that unless one goes to the jungles or mountains, he must have some dealings with the opposite sex. In the modern world there is no protection for brahmacaris; man-woman relationships are quite free (which is the beginning of all hellish life, and quite unsuitable for spiritual progress).

ISKCON brahmacaris have to deal with women (both devotees and nondevotees) a lot more than traditional brahmacaris did, and in less favorable circumstances. Dealings with women should he formal, polite—and as little as possible. If some talk must be there, keep your distance (stand well apart), avoid eye contact, and finish the business as soon as possible. Never get into an argument with a woman. Strict brahmacaris do not attend marriage ceremonies, (SB 3.24.20) watch dramas with parts played by women, (-See Lecture After Play, 06/04/75) or see women dancing or hear their singing. (SB 6.18.41) The general principle to avoid intimate association must be strictly maintained. It is foolish to think that one can freely mix with the opposite sex and remain unagitated. Even the great brahmacari Bhishmadeva expressed that he could not save himself if he were to associate with young girls. (Lecture, 16/08/73)

Nor should brahmacaris accept service from women (even prasada service should be separate). It is especially dangerous for a brahmacari to see and talk to the same woman repeatedly. Once a friendly relationship is established, the downfall of the brahmacari has begun.

Remember, women are powerful. Caesar controlled a mighty empire, but Cleopatra controlled Caesar. Of course, having to speak with women or sometimes discuss something with them is unavoidable. If at all possible mold your life in such a way that you don’t normally have to have any dealings with women—the tendency should be toward zero dealings.

Brahmacaris should avoid physically touching women, for to do so even accidentally will agitate the mind. Keep at least far enough away so that there is not even a possibility of brushing against a woman’s clothing; and preferably further still. Lord Chaitanya, even in His householder life, would stand well to the side if He saw a woman approaching on the path. Nor did He joke with women.

The eyes have a tendency to stray towards women, but this should be given up. When a man looks at a woman, then Cupid (Kamadeva), standing nearby with his flower-bow, immediately shoots an arrow called Mohana (meaning infatuation, delusion, or folly) which causes the man to be fascinated by the female form. After this preliminary bewilderment, Cupid sends a further four arrows, namely: Stambhana, which stuns the man and causes him to forget all else; Unmadana, which causes him to be as if intoxicated; Shoshana, which causes intense attraction; and Tapana, which deeply pierces the heart and causes it to burn.

Hardly anyone in the three worlds has the power to resist the influence of these arrows. Maya is so strong that even in the midst of an enlivening kirtana, a devotee engaged in chanting the pure names of the Supreme Lord may become attracted upon seeing the form of the opposite sex (especially a dancing form). Therefore a brahmacari should practice not looking at women, and should especially never see a woman dressing, combing her hair, running, playing sports, sleeping, bathing, undressed or partially dressed.

Never trust the mind. The mind will tell us, “I can speak to this woman, I won’t get agitated,” “She is only a child,” or, “She is much older than me, so no problem,” or “She is the chaste wife of so and so,” or, “Anyway, I know the philosophy, I’m not going to speak to her for long, it’s important, and I’m not going to fall down.” But shastra states that, what to speak of lusty rascals brought up in the modern sex-centered so-called civilization, even learned scholars of the Vedic age were totally forbidden from sitting close to their mother, sister, or daughter! (SB 9.19.17)

Such chaste behavior helps to control the mind. The natural tendency to be lusty is checked by deliberate restraint in dealings with the opposite sex. As soon as one even slightly indulges in looking at, unnecessarily talking with, or in any way behaving loosely with women, then the guard is let down and lusty desires begin to enter. Soon the intelligence becomes bewildered and, being impelled by the senses, one cannot distinguish between activities that are beneficial and those that should be avoided. One who loses control of his mind loses control of his life, and becomes controlled by maya in the form of a woman.

Therefore a brahmacari must be careful to control his mind and senses and not indulge them in the illusory pleasure derived from seeing, thinking about, or talking with women. The mind and senses are so strong that they can never, never, never be trusted. The only thing they can be trusted to do is to sell us off to maya if given even a shadow of an opportunity. One slip into illicit sex will cause havoc in the life of a devotee.

Such strong strictures may seem odd in the context of modern social relationships, but the fact is that unless this discrimination between the sexes is reestablished, there is no hope for human society. “A civilization that allows men to mix unrestrictedly with women is an animal civilization. In Kali-yuga, people are extremely liberal, but mixing with women and talking with them as equals actually constitutes an uncivilized way of life.” (SB 7.12.8)

The scriptures enjoin that we see all women as our mother. That’s a healthy approach for a brahmacari—even if most women, due to lack of training, don’t act like mothers.

Don’t try to impress women. We may not even be fully conscious of it, but when women are present, the tendency is to try to impress them by our good behavior, eloquent speaking, athletic dancing, or whatever. Be careful.

However, fanatical anti-womanism is also unhealthy. How many woman-hating “staunch brahmacaris” have succumbed and become big enjoyer householders? The roughness of so-called “super-brahmacaris”—as if unkindness and rudeness to women were proof of their freedom from sex desire—is actually indicative of their agitation. Indeed, undesirable traits such as the desire to dominate or impress others, unnecessary anger, and voracious eating are all symptoms of sex desire manifest in different ways. Attachment and rejection are two sides of the coin of the mode of passion. Neutrality and detachment born of sattva-guna are required of a steady devotee. One must come to the mode of goodness to maintain brahmacarya. In goodness, knowledge and renunciation develop.

Our philosophy begins with atma-jnana—we are not these bodies, male or female. So we shouldn’t develop a superiority complex: “I’m a big renounced brahmacari. Who are these less intelligent women?” Who knows, possibly in our last lives we were in women’s bodies and the women were in men’s bodies! Still, we must keep the distinction. “Danger—keep your distance.” Don’t be rough, don’t be rude, but don’t worry about being considered odd or anti-social by being distant. Better be safe than sorry.

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