Published on August 21st, 2022 | by HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada10
Prabhupada Speaks At Harvard University
So this Krsna consciousness movement is not any sectarian movement. It is practically postgraduate movement of all religion. Any religion, they have got some idea of God. But here, we are explaining what is God, how great He is, how you can establish your relationship with Him. . .
[Lecture at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, Dec. 24th 1969]
Prabhupada: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I thank you very much for joining us in this evening of chanting together Hare Krsna. The sankirtana movement is a prescribed performance in this age. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Eleventh Canto, Ninth Chapter, 6th verse, there is a statement that,
yajanti hi su-medhasah
Su-medhasah, this Sanskrit word, means intelligent persons. Medhas. Medhas means brain substance, one who has got very good brain substance. The brain substance… According to psychology, there is difference of brain substance. Not the brain substance equally, of equal weight, in every man’s brain. You know, you are all educated students, psychology students. In our boyhood when we were a student in psychology class, Dr. Urquhart explained this brain substance. The man has got the highest brain substance—not all—up to sixty-four ounce. And woman has got the highest up to thirty-six or thirty-four. Of course, we are not discussing that point. Our movement is a spiritual movement, Krsna consciousness. That is beyond brain. Indriyani parany ahur indriyebhyah param manah, manasas tu para buddhir [Bg. 3.42]. So there are different platforms and status of consciousness. Bodily consciousness means sensual consciousness. Above that, there is mental consciousness, speculative, philosophical, poetic. Above that, intellectual consciousness. And Krsna consciousness—above intellectual consciousness.
So the recommendation is… That was a topic between Maharaja Nimi and great sages called nine sages, navayogindra. Nava means nine. Yogindra means mystic yogis. So they were talking, and Maharaja Nimi questioned the different incarnations in different ages. And Camasa Muni was replying. In that replying, he said that in the Kali-yuga, in this age… This age called Kali-yuga. This Kali-yuga has begun about five thousand years ago. So he said, “In the Kali-yuga the process of self-realization is sankirtana movement.” Sankirtana. Sankirtana means bahudha, bahubhir militva. When congregational chanting is done, that is called sankirtana. So in this age the sankirtana movement is recommended. There is no question of what is your religion, what is my religion.
Everyone can join in this sankirtana movement, without any discrimination. That is the recommendation. Yajnair sankirtana. This is also yajna, sacrifice. You are sacrificing some time, your valuable time, in joining with us to perform the sankirtana movement. That is a sacrifice. And sacrifice means to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Yajna. Yajna is the name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the Bhagavad-gita it is said, yajnarthat karma anyatra karma-bandhanah. Whatever you have to act, you have to act on the basis of pleasing the Supreme Lord.
In the Srimad-Bhagavata there is another verse, that,
atah pumbhir dvija-srestha
Sri Suta Gosvami is addressing the learned sages assembled in a place called Naimisaranya. That place is still existing in India, in northern India. It is very old place. Now the place is named Nimsar, but original name is Naimisaranya. So in that Naimisaranya meeting, the president, Suta Gosvami, addressed the brahmanas. He said, atah pumbhir dvija-srestha. Dvija-srestha means in that assembly the high-class brahmanas, very intelligent class of men, they assembled. So he addressed them, “My dear learned scholars, brahmanas, the duty of the human society,” atah pumbhir dvija-srestha varnasrama-vibhagasah… The duties are different according to different divisions of social order and spiritual order. That is Vedic civilization.
There are four kinds of social orders and four kinds of spiritual orders. The social orders are the brahmanas, the ksatriyas, the vaisyas, and the sudras; or the intellectual class of men… Brahmana means intellectual class of men—one who devotes his life only in studying Vedas and acquiring knowledge and distributing that. Every time, in every age, there is a class of men who are intellectual class. So this intellectual class of men is called brahmana. And the next class, the administrative class. Those who takes part in politics for administration of the state, government, they are called ksatriyas. The actual meaning of ksatriya is “one who protects a man from being hurt by others.” That is called ksatriya. That means, that is the business of the administrators, government. So brahmana, ksatriya, then vaisyas. Vaisyas means productive class who are interested in producing things for consumption by the people. Mercantile class, industrialists, they are called vaisyas. And the last class, fourth class, they are called sudras. Sudras means that they are neither intellectual, nor they’re administrator, nor industrial or mercantile, but they can serve others. That’s all.
So it is said that kalau sudra sambhava. In the modern age, people are being taught in the university to become sudra—neither brahmanas nor ksatriyas nor vaisyas, generally. Because after education, they will have to seek after some service. He becomes a great technologist, but unless he gets a good job, his whole education is spoiled. You see? So therefore, in the Vedic sastra it is said, in this age people are almost all sudras. Kalau sudra sambhava. So the president of that meeting, Suta Gosvami, said that it doesn’t matter whether one man is brahmana or a ksatriya or a vaisya or a sudra. This is social order. And then spiritual order: brahmacari, grhastha, vanaprastha, and sannyasa. Brahmacari means student, unmarried student, without any sex life. That is brahmacari. And then grhastha, householder. Those who are living with wife and children, they are called householder, grhastha. Then vanaprastha, the retired persons. And then sannyasa. After retirement, one dedicates his whole life for preaching work, preaching Krsna consciousness. That is sannyasa order. So this is…
These four divisions are in the spiritual order, and the other divisions are in the social order. Human society without these eight divisions—means social divisions and spiritual divisions—it is not called civilized. They must have. Therefore Suta Gosvami said, the social orders are there, and the spiritual orders are there, and each and every order, there are prescribed duties. The brahmanas, they are engaged in such and such things, the brahmacaris are engaged in such and such thing, the ksatriyas are engaged… There are different prescribed duties. Now Suta Gosvami says that varnasrama-vibhagasah. There are divisions of duties and divisions of social and spiritual order. That’s all right.
But how one can understand that by executing his duty, he’s going to the path of perfection? Everyone should be confident that whatever he is doing, he’s doing for the perfection of life. That should be the aim of. In the modern education system, not only education system, in every field of life, practically we do not know what is the ultimate goal of life. Na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum durasaya ye bahir-artha-maninah [SB 7.5.31]. They do not know what is the goal of life. The goal of life is Visnu, or the Supreme Lord, or God. That one has to understand what is the Supreme Lord, what is Absolute Truth, “What is my relationship with Him and what is my duty towards Him?” These things are to be known, and one has to adjust his life in that way. So Suta Gosvami says, never mind in whatever order one may be situated, the perfection is samsiddhir hari-tosanam [SB 1.2.13]. Atah varnasrama-vibhagasah dvija-srestha svanusthitasya dharmasya. One should try to test, “How my duties are being perfectly done?” That one has to see.
So that perfection is recommended, hari-tosanam: whether by your duty, by your action, the Supreme Lord is satisfied. Just like we want to satisfy… In the schools, colleges, we want to satisfy our professor, teachers, principal. Or as good citizen we want to satisfy our government or… Similarly, you have to satisfy somebody. That is the perfection. The highest perfection is to satisfy hari-tosanam. Hari means the Supreme Lord, and tosanam means satisfaction. Whether by your work and duties, discharging your duty, the Supreme Lord is satisfied—that is your perfection. But this is very rare thing. At the present moment practically nobody has any information what is his relationship with God or what is God. Practically, they are declaring “God is dead,” and “I am God, you are God, everyone is God.” These things are all… “There is void.” “There is no God,” “There is no control.” So, so many things are going on. That is the disease of this present age. And this movement is practically against this idea of godlessness, this Krsna consciousness movement. The whole idea of this Krsna consciousness movement is to fight against the idea of godlessness.
So the Bhagavad-gita is there. We are fighting in two ways. One way is that this chanting, Hare Krsna. Very simple thing. Everyone can join: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. By chanting this movement, by the vibration, gradually one’s heart, which is so contaminated that he is denying the existence of God, will be gradually simplified or clarified. Ceto-darpana-marjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12]. Just like the mirror, when it is overcast with dust, you cannot see your face nicely. But if you clear the dust you can see clearly. Similarly, our, this disease, denial of God, or “God is dead,” “There is no God,” “I am God,” “You are God,” such kinds of conception is due to covering of material dust on the mirror of our heart. Ceto-darpana-marjanam. If you simply chant this transcendental vibration, Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, you don’t require any qualification and you don’t require that you have to become intellectual man or an administrator or a productive man or… Never mind whatever you are. You be situated in your place, but you try to chant this Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare. The result will be that your heart, the dust on the mirror of your heart, will be gradually cleansed. And when it is completely cleansed, then you will understand that you are not this body. Ceto-darpana-marjanam bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam [Cc. Antya 20.12].
All the problems of our life, whatever you may say, social, political, religious and whatever… There are so many problems. The whole material world is full of problems. These problems are compared just like blazing fire in the forest. Just like in the forest, there is fire, nobody can check. Although nobody goes to the forest to set fire, it takes automatically. Similarly, in this material existence of life, we do not want any problem, but problems are created. Just like automatically there is fire in the forest without our endeavor, similarly, material problems are created automatically by our dealings, by our behavior.
So if you chant this Hare Krsna mantra, the first result will be that you will understand your real constitutional position, for which many great mystics, sages and saints are meditating, “What I am?” That, I mean to say, procedure of spiritual realization will be the first installment, your profit. You’ll understand that aham brahmasmi, “I am not matter, I am spirit soul.” And as it is stated in the Bhagavad-gita, as soon as one is self-realized, that is called brahma-bhutah. Aham brahmasmi: “I am not this body, I am spirit soul. I am part and parcel of the Absolute Truth.” This realization is called Brahman realization. And as soon as you come to the platform of Brahman realization, then the result will be brahma-bhutah prasannatma [Bg. 18.54]. You’ll be joyful. You’ll be free of all anxieties. Brahma-bhutah prasannatma. That is the sign. It is not that simply… I may advertise that I am self-realized, but my behavior will show whether I am self-realized or not.
Everything is stated in the Vedic literature, that a brahma-bhutah person, a self-realized person, the symptom of the self-realized person is that he is joyful. Brahma-bhutah prasannatma [Bg. 18.54]. Without any anxieties. This materialistic life means full of anxiety always. And spiritual life means without this anxiety. Just the opposite. Brahma-bhutah prasannatma. And what is the symptom of being joyful? That is also stated: na socati na kanksati. There is no lamentation for loss, and there is no hankering for gain. Everyone in this material world is hankering after some gain. And if you have got some gain, if it is lost, then he’s lamenting, “Oh, I have lost so much.” So these two business… Hankering, when we do not possess, we hanker. And when we possess, it is lost. Because everything… The material waves are such that whatever we possess, we shall lose it. We have got this nice body, one day we have to lose it. Everything. You possess and lose, possess and lose. Therefore the…, punah punas car…, the same thing repeatedly: gaining and losing, and lamenting and hankering, lamenting and hankering. This is the position of material life.
So in the Bhagavad-gita it is said that brahma-bhutah prasannatma na socati na kanksati [Bg. 18.54]. As soon as you come to that platform, prasanna, joyfulness, then samah sarvesu bhutesu. The next stage is that you look everyone on the same level. There is no distinction between black and white or the Indian or American or Russian or this and that. No. Panditah sama-darsinah [Bg. 5.18]. One who is actually learned, he sees everyone on the same level of spiritual understanding. So brahma-bhutah prasannatma na socati na kanksati samah sarvesu bhutesu. This is the stage of acquiring Krsna consciousness.
na socati na kanksati
samah sarvesu bhutesu
mad-bhaktim labhate param
Then he comes to the standard of Krsna consciousness, or platform of Krsna consciousness, when he can begin his duties in transcendental lovings towards the Absolute Truth. And when we begin that activity, that spiritual activity, then we can understand, bhaktya mam abhijanati [Bg. 18.55], what is God. These are the stages. We cannot understand by speculative method. God is unlimited, and we are very limited. Our knowledge is limited because our senses, the instruments by which we acquire knowledge, that is imperfect and limited. Just like my eyes. I cannot see perfectly. I cannot see the eyelid. I cannot see the distant place. Although I am very proud that “I want to see face to face,” but what you can see? What is your value of your instrument, seeing? That is imperfect. Therefore we cannot get perfect knowledge by these imperfect senses. By sense perception, by direct utilization of our senses, we cannot get perfect knowledge. The perfect knowledge you can get when your senses have been purified to the perfect order. Then you can see.
So that stage is brahma-bhutah prasannatma [Bg. 18.54]. When you are on the brahma-bhutah, or spiritual, self-realization platform, then your senses are purified and you can see things in two perspectives. And at that stage, you can see God also. You can talk with God also. Just like in the Brahma-samhita it is stated, premanjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena santah sadaiva hrdayesu vilokayanti [Bs. 5.38]. You have… Most of you know the yoga. The yoga system means to see the Supreme Person, or the Absolute Truth, or the Personality of Godhead, Visnu, within your heart. That is the perfection of yoga. Dhyanavasthita-tad-gatena manasa pasyanti yam… Dhyanavasthita, by meditation, one can see. So this perfectional stage can be achieved when you are in the brahma-bhutah stage, Brahman realization stage.
So Lord Caitanya said that if you chant this Hare Krsna mantra, the first installment of your gain will be that your heart, which is contaminated now with so many materialistic dust, it will be cleansed. And next stage will be bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam. That means you’ll realize yourself that “I am not this matter, I am soul. And my relationship with God is this. God is like this.” And gradually, you will develop your love for God. You have got that love. Dormant love is there, but because we do not know what is God, because we do not see the beauty of God, because we do not know the mercy of God, therefore our love has been forced or placed in the dog. Instead of God, we have placed our love on dog. So we have to simply change. Our love is distributed in the matter in so many ways. That will not make me happy because I am not matter. I am a spirit soul. I have to transfer my love towards the Supreme Spirit, God, then I’ll be happy.
So this Krsna consciousness movement is a process by which you can transform your love from matter to God. That’s all. You have got love but you are being frustrated. You are being frustrated. You are being baffled. Your love is not placed in the proper place. Therefore we have to make our choice, “Where I shall place my love?” Then I’ll be satisfied. That is replied in the Srimad-Bhagavatam,
sa vai pumsam paro dharmo
Atma, self. Everyone is seeking after peacefulness, peacefulness of atma, or self. So this is the process recommended. Not recommended, it is the fact, that sa vai pumsam paro dharmo [SB 1.2.6]. In whatever occupation you are situated, doesn’t matter. You have to see simply whether by your occupation the Supreme Lord is satisfied, or your love for the Supreme Lord is increasing. That is the test of perfection. And when your love is increased in that way, adhoksaje ahaituki—ahaituki means without any cause, without any reason, and apratihata, without any impediment—then you’ll see yayatma suprasidati. Your atma is fully satisfied. Svamin krtartho ’smi. “My dear Lord, I am now fully satisfied. I have no more any demand.” The material world, material life, means simply demands, increasing the demands. That is the modern way of life, increasing artificial demand and being frustrated. That is our life. But if you want satisfaction, not frustration, not bafflement, then increase your love for God. And the process is very simple, recommended in this age. You haven’t got to perform any severe austerity, penance, or you have got to go to the forest or Himalayan mountain or you have to do this, that. Nothing. You be situated in your place, whatever you may be. But if you simply chant this mantra, Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, you will gradually develop.
Your first, the first installment will be that your heart will be cleansed of all material contamination. Then you’ll be situated on the brahma-bhutah stage. Oh, prasannatma! Oh, joyfulness! Without being joyful, you cannot understand what is God. If your mind is disturbed always, you cannot meditate, neither you can understand what is God, what you are. It is impossible. Therefore we have to accept any process which can make me joyful. That is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. We have got… Simply we are not chanting by sentiment. We have got enough literature, philosophy, background. It is not that we are sentimentalist.
But this is a fact, that if you simply… You do not require to read all this literature. If you can, it is very good, but if you have no time, simply chant these sixteen words, Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Make an experiment. We are not charging anything. We are not cheating you, that “Give me some fifty dollars or twenty dollars. I’ll give you some secret mantra.” No. It is open. You can take. Everyone can take. Everyone. We are chanting. You can chant with us and practice it, and there is no hard and fast rules and regulation. You can chant anyway, anywhere. Whether you are in the college, whether you’re on the street, whether you are sleeping, lying, or whatever, you can chant. Because God has given you this tongue and you can chant. And this Hare Krsna mantra, a dog or cat cannot chant although he has got the tongue. So you have got the facility. By God’s mercy you have got this facility to chant the holy name of God. If you think that Krsna is Indian God’s name, actually it is not Indian God’s name. Krsna never claims that He’s Indian or Hindu. Most of you have read Bhagavad-gita. He claims everyone as His son.
Not only human society—the animal society, bird society, the beast society, the plant society, the aquatic society, all. Sarva-yonisu. Sarva means all. Yoni, yoni means species of life. Everyone, all living entities, Krsna says. Krsna must be… If He is God, He must claim that, that “The material nature is their mother and I am their father.” So Krsna is for everyone. Not that… Don’t think that Krsna is for the Indian or for the Hindus. No. Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna. This Krsna is for everyone. For the human being, for the animals—everyone. So if you think that Krsna is belonging to some particular country or religion, then you can chant your own way. If in your religion, in your scripture, there is any God’s name, you can chant that also. Our only propaganda is that you increase your love of God. And the simple process is to chant this Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. There is no charge for it. There is no loss on your part. There is no inconvenience on your part. At any moment, at any place. There is no restriction. So why don’t you take advantage of this great boon to the human society?
So this Krsna consciousness movement is not any sectarian movement. It is practically postgraduate movement of all religion. Any religion, they have got some idea of God. But here, we are explaining what is God, how great He is, how you can establish your relationship with Him. These things are there. So any religious person, or any person, without being religious, if anyone joins with us in this sankirtana movement, his life will be sublime. And our method is very simple. We place before you to judge and join with us. That is our request.
Thank you very much. (devotees offer obeisances) Any question? Yes?
Student (1): Apparently, there are two parts to this. The first, the kirtana singing and dancing, to some extent resembles the rock music that appears in the Western world within the last five years. Very notably the Beatles song last year, “Hey Jude,” in the second part, is very similar in tune to this. The second, which is quite remote, but there is a connection—your message is similar in some ways to the message of evangelical or fundamentalist teachers in Christianity, who are taking the name of Jesus Christ…
Prabhupada: That’s all right.
Student (1): …and excluding everything other than complete devotion to Christ. Would you comment on this?
Prabhupada: Yes. That’s very nice. We completely agree. We say that chant the holy name of God. The vibration, the sound which you chant, that must be the holy name of God. Then it is all right. It doesn’t matter what is the language. Language has nothing, no significance. But this word “Krsna,” we consider it is transcendental vibration because all great saints and acaryas, they chanted, especially Lord Caitanya. As I explained from Srimad-Bhagavatam, krsna-varnam tvisakrsnam [SB 11.5.32]. Krsna varna, krsna varnayati. Lord Caitanya was always chanting, “Krsna, Krsna, Krsna, Krsna, Krsna, Krsna.” Therefore He is called krsna varnayati, krsna-varnam. Tvisakrsnam: by complexion He’s not black. Krsna was blackish, but Lord Caitanya, He was golden colored. So krsna-varnam tvisakrsnam sangopangastra-parsadam: [SB 11.5.32] always associated by followers. Yajnair sankirtana, chanting and dancing with Krsna’s name. Yajanti hi su-medhasah: this form of the Lord should be worshiped by persons who are intelligent. So if you follow the method, evangelist, that is also very nice, or this method… The business should be that we must realize in this human form of life what is our relationship with God. If we fail to do that, then we are misusing this human form of life.
In the Garga Upanisad it is said, etad viditva ya prayati sa brahmana. Etad aviditva ya prayati sa krpana. Brahmana, brahmana means broadminded, liberal. So one who… Everyone will die. The cats and dogs and human being, everyone will die. But the Garga Upanisad says that if one dies after understanding the science of God, then he is perfect. He is brahmana. His life is broader, mahatma. And if one dies without understanding this, he is krpana. Krpana means miser. Miser means… Suppose if you have got millions of dollars. If you cannot utilize it, if you simply waste it, then you are krpana, miser. You do not know how to spend money. Similarly, we have got this body which is worth…, not millions—trillions and more than that, because we can realize in this life what is our relationship with God, what is God. We can understand. But if we don’t do that, simply we waste our time in sense gratification, then we are krpana, miser. We are losing our opportunity. So these things are there. So in whatever way you like, either this evangelistic way or this way or that way, try to understand what is God and what is your relationship with God and try to invoke your dormant love of God. Then your life will be perfect. That is our mission. If you have got your own method, that’s all right. You take it. Otherwise we are giving this method, very simple. You take it. Your life will be sublime. That is our request. Yes?
Student (2): …question you stated. If (we devote) time trying to figure out our relationship to God, perhaps that takes time away from trying to figure out our relationship with all men. And I think I would anticipate your answer, I think, upon the… You’re talking about atma, and if one clearly has perception of the reality of their own atma, he would also see others as himself. Right? And to know his self and his God through others. But that doesn’t really answer. It doesn’t mean we’ll be able to decrease that condition. A lot of people suffer in this world, and they suffer for pretty indefiable(?) reasons: economic exploitation, racists trying to put structures, militaristic powers. And it seems somehow we might be able to do something to attack those kinds of evils and suffering in the world, other than telling a man to chant Hare Krsna and the world will be solved.
Prabhupada: That is automatically solved. If you chant, if you come to this God consciousness, those things will be automatically solved. Just like if you get million dollars, then your fifty dollars’ business will be automatically solved.
Student (2): Yeah, I guess that you could believe that.
Prabhupada: Not believe. Is practical.
Student (2): And I think the reason I don’t believe that is because history has told me differently. History has told me that people who have managed to achieve freedom for themselves have not achieved it by doing something like chanting Hare Krsna. And I refer you to…
Prabhupada: You can show in the history there was chanting of Hare Krsna? Is there any history?
Student (2): I won’t say chanting only Hare Krsna, but give you a similar time and place.
Prabhupada: What is that similar time?
Student (2): Well, in Russia, in the nineteenth century, there were people who were religious, who traveled the countryside chanting the word “Jesus Christ.” It was quite prominent then. Tolstoy tells us about it. And I would assume that a similar kind of teaching was given. The only problem I see with that is that I don’t think it would solve the very basic human problems.
Prabhupada: So do you think that Russia has solved their questions? That their problems, all problems are solved?
Student (2): I would say that in 1917 the state of the Russian peasants was fundamentally better by the revolution.
Prabhupada: Well, the history will repeat itself again. It will be wars again. So do you think by adopting the Russian method, people have become very happy?
Student (2): No.
Prabhupada: Then? So we manufacture something. This material world is like that, problematic. That I have already explained. Just like the blazing fire. So the answer is given in the Bhagavad-gita, daivi hy esa gunamayi mama duratyaya [Bg. 7.14]. In this material world the onslaught of the material nature is very, very severe. Nobody can surpass it. In some way or other it will come in a different form. The problem will not be solved. The problem can be solved, as it is stated in the Bhagavad-gita, mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te, when one surrenders unto God, Krsna. Then he can surpass this onslaught of material nature. So that is the real remedy. Unfortunately, people does not take that process. But if anyone accepts this process, his problems are solved. That is the fact. That is the fact.
But we do not expect that everyone can accept this process. But if anyone can accept this process, at least his personal problems will be solved. But it is the duty of such God conscious persons to distribute the message. If anyone likes, he can take, he can solve his problems. And if he does not take, that business is the own business. What can I do? But any material method, either this Russian method or American method or Indian method, anything, materialistic method, that cannot solve the material problems. That is a fact. If you want to solve all the problems, then you have to invoke your dormant love for God. That is the solution. There is no other solution. Yes.
Student (3): I was wondering how important the choice of words are to the chanting. And if, perhaps, if you just count to ten in your mind or out loud, I thought it might work just as well.
Satsvarupa: “Could you just count numbers and think about God and that would work just as well? Are the names important?”
Prabhupada: Count words?
Satsvarupa: Could you just count—one, two, three, four—and that would work just as well.
Prabhupada: Well, that is not possible, of course, but as soon as stop counting, you can chant. (laughter) That’s not difficult. Yes?
Student (4): What is consciousness?
Prabhupada: Consciousness is very difficult to understand? Now you are talking, and when you don’t talk, you lie down. People will say this man has become unconscious. So this is the distinction. When you are in full knowledge of things, that is consciousness. It is not difficult to understand. Sometimes teachers say to the student, “Do it conscientiously, with attention.” When our full attention is there, full absorption, full concentration of the mind, that is consciousness. And another way of consciousness is the feeling which is spread all over your body. Just like I pinch over your head or any part of your body, you feel—that is consciousness. But when this body is dead or when you are out of this body, if I chop up your body, there is no consciousness. That is the distinction between consciousness. Avinasi tu tad viddhi yena sarvam idam tatam. In the Bhagavad-gita the consciousness is stated: avinasi. Avinasi means cannot, never dies. Always living. Avinasi tu tad viddhi. You just try to understand that thing without always living. What is that? Yena sarvam idam tatam—by which your whole body is spread by air(?). And anywhere of your body, that consciousness is spread. And that substance, consciousness, is always living. When you leave this body this consciousness goes to another body. Just like the air passes, the flavor the air carries from one garden to another place. Similarly, this consciousness will carry you to another body after your death. After you leave this body… Just like we are changing our consciousness also from childhood consciousness to boyhood, boyhood to youthhood, and the old age. The consciousness is carrying me although the body is changing. Similarly, when you change this body, the consciousness will carry you to another body. That consciousness is always living. It is never dead. [break] Because they don’t take it.
Student (5): Then why are we born without feeling.(?)
Prabhupada: That’s your independence. If you like you can take it. If you don’t like, you don’t take it. There are so many things. If you like, you take it; if you don’t like, you don’t take it. There is no enforcement. Every individual soul has got little independence. Not full independence. That can be used properly; that can be misused also. That depends on me. I am the master. So similarly… Just like the government. The government does not force anybody to go to the criminal department, neither government forces anybody to come to the university department. It is your individual liberty. You become criminal or a high standard scholar. [break] …has to make his choice. He has got the freedom. He may be Krsna conscious or he may be material conscious. If he’s material conscious, he’ll never be happy. If he becomes Krsna conscious, he’ll be always happy. Now it is up to you whether to accept this or that.
Student (6): How would you say the chant in English?
Prabhupada: Chant in English?
Student (6): Yes. How would you say it in English?
Devotee: He wants a translation in English.
Prabhupada: So there are many boys. You can have the translation. We have got our translation in many literatures. In our paper, Back to Godhead, in many books. We have got many books. So translation is there. We are simply publishing so many English translation. So there is no scarcity of translation. Yes?
Student (7): Are you happy always in reflection?(?)
Prabhupada: What do you think? What do you think? I’m happy or not happy? What is your opinion? And if I say false, why do you believe? If I say falsely, “I am happy,” will you believe it? If I say falsely, “I am happy,” will you take it?
Student (7): That I don’t know.
Student (6): If I can rephrase that, if you were American, how would you say the chant? In other words, I know it has many translations, but what would it mean to you? How would you say it in English?
Prabhupada: English, the translation… What is that?
Jadurani: These words are Sanskrit. He wants to know if they were English what would they be?
Prabhupada: Well, proper names cannot be translated. You know that. Suppose if your name is John, and if I come from India I cannot translate into Indian language. I have to speak “John.” You see? Just like people say “Swami Bhaktivedanta.” Is there any translation, Bhaktivedanta Swami? Proper noun is never translated. That everyone knows. But the meaning can be translated. So we have got translation of the meaning, what is this Hare Krsna mantra means. But so far chanting is concerned, that if I call you, you are American boy, Mr. John, so I’ll have to call you Mr. John. I cannot translate into Sanskrit and call you. Yes?
Student (8): How important is your diet?
Prabhupada: Oh, that is a very important thing. If you read Dr. George Bernard Shaw’s book, You Are What You Eat, you see. So if you eat like human being, then you can increase your qualities of human being. If you eat like cats and dogs, you increase the quality of cats and dogs. That’s all. So we must have discrimination what to eat. That is there in the human world. Eating is there, but everything eatable. Even stool is eatable by a certain kind of animal, but that does not mean that stool has to be eaten by human being. Human being must have discretion what kind of food will be just suitable for my health, for my intelligence, for my brain. So these things are prescribed. If we eat things which are in goodness… They are prescribed in the Vedic literature that wheat, rice, sugar, milk product, vegetables, fruits, these things are in goodness. So if you want to increase your quality of goodness, that is required for God realization.
Unless you are situated in the quality of goodness, you cannot be promoted to the higher platform. So your eating should be arranged within this group: rice, wheat, sugar, milk product, vegetables, and fruits. In your country you have got enough nice grains, nice fruits, enough supply of milk, butter. So there is no question of accepting any other food. You can accept foodstuff within this group and become healthy and good brain, good conscience. You can engage yourself in God consciousness. That is possible. So therefore “Discrimination is the best part of valor.” We should discriminate what kind of food we should eat. We cannot eat anything and everything. That discrimination must be there. Yes?
Student (8): Would it not be better if intellectual (indistinct) and would it not be better for them to leave the father and devote their status, instead, to the Lord?(?)
Prabhupada: Of course, in the beginning I said that there is no question of changing your position. In whatever position you are, either you are a student or a lawyer or something else, you can chant Hare Krsna and realize yourself. We don’t recommend that you change your position. That is not our recommendation. But if you can (be) fully devoted in Krsna consciousness, that is very nice. But don’t do it whimsically. There will be a mature platform when you can do that. Just like I was a family man, I was living with my family. I have got my wife, sons, daughters, grandchildren. So in this old age I left them. So I’m not in difficulty although I am alone. I came in your country alone. That’s a long history. So that dependence on God, when you actually develop, then you can give up everything, depend only on God. But don’t do it by whimsically. No. That will not do. You stay in your position, realize yourself, then time will come when God will dictate you, “You can do…, become free from all obligation.” So please join with us in the kirtana. (kirtana) (end)