Published on April 3rd, 2024 | by HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Srila Prabhupada The Acharya Part 4 — Video

“Who is Srila Prabhupada?” people often ask.  At various times, he was known as a scholar, a philosopher, a cultural ambassador, a prolific author, a religious leader, a spiritual teacher, a social critic, and a holy man.

He was not one of those modern entrepreneurial gurus who come to the west with slickly packaged, watered down versions of eastern spirituality, promising instant well being to anyone  who could spare fifty dollars.  Srila Prabhupada was rather a true holy man, one who could be called an acharya, which means a spiritual master who teaches by example.

After arriving in the United States in 1965 at the age of sixty-nine, Srila Prabhupada formed the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, which developed into a world-wide spiritual community with hundreds of ashrams, schools, temples, and farms, and with thousands of dedicated disciples who made Hare Krishna a household word.  To have achieved all this in only twelve years was remarkable.

But before he passed away from this world in 1977, Srila Prabhupada had also written and published over eighty volumes of translation and commentary on the great spiritual classics of ancient India.  His books were welcomed with great critical acclaim by the western academic community and by scholars from India as well.  They became standard texts in almost every university and library around the world.

Srila Prabhupada had also succeeded in transmitting the profound wisdom of the ancient Vedic culture in a form and style that was clearly understandable to the average modern man.  He could somehow explain even the most difficult philosophical concepts to people who were totally unfamiliar with the complex Indian religious tradition.

Srila Prabhupada circled the globe eleven times between 1966 and 1977, and everywhere he went, he taught the same basic truths,  the fundamental principles of religion that constitute the cornerstone of spiritual understanding  for everyone, no matter what their nationality or religion.

Srila Prabhupada was more than anything a teacher a professor of the science of self-realization, and he was the best kind of teacher because he always lived up to what he taught.

Disciple: They also say that no one can ever be pure, that everyone is doomed to be a sinner.

Srila Prabhupada: Well, that is: Atmavan manyate jagat. That is the conditioned soul’s qualification, that if he’s a fool he thinks others are fools. Everyone thinks:  “He’s like me.” That is nature. Atmavan manyate jagat. Everyone thinks others like himself. If he’s a fool, he thinks all others are fools.

So these things are no argument. Nobody has seen God.  How do you take the statistics? Can you say like that, any statistics that nobody has.  Maybe.  You have not seen him, the one who has seen God. That is quite possible because you have not scrutinizingly studied all the men of the world. Then how can you say nobody has seen Him? You have not seen the man who has seen Him. He’ll not admit his fault. He’ll accuse others:  Nobody has seen God.  Why? You may not have seen, but why do you say nobody has seen? You have not seen that person who has seen God. Therefore you say like that.

The child is changing his body to baby, the baby is changing his body to boy, and the boy is changing his body to youthhood, then, in this way you are changing bodies. Of that you have got experience. You had a child’s body, you remember. Or you had a boy’s body, you remember. But the body is no longer existing, but you are existing. Therefore the conclusion is: that when this body will be no more fit for existing  we shall have to accept another body. This is called: tatha dehantara praptih. So we have to change.  That is nature’s law. The soul is immortal.

Na jayate na mriyate va kadacin na hanyate hanyamane sarire

The soul is not finished, simply a particular type of body being finished. The people do not know it. And because they’re simply engaged in sinful activities, their brain has become so dull that they cannot understand the simple truth, that as you are changing body in this life, therefore you’ll change this body to another life. This is a very simple truth. With the advancement of material civilization, we have become so dull, and rascal, that we cannot understand.

Sarvopadhi vinirmuktam tat paratvena nirmalam hrisikena hrsikesa sevanam bhaktir ucyate

This bhakti means that we have to clear ourselves from the designations. What is that designation? Everyone is thinking:  “I am American, I am Indian, I am European, I am Australian, I am cat, I am dog, I am this, I am that body.” We have to cleanse this bodily conception of life. That I am not this body.  Aham brahmasmi.  I am spirit soul.  This you have to realize. Then there will be no distinction. That here is an American, here is an Australian, here is a Hindu, here is a Muslim, here is a tree. No.  Panditah sama darsinah. Panditah means learned.  One who knows things as they are. For them:

Vidya vinaya sampanne brahmane gavi hastini suni caiva svapake ca panditah sama darsinah

A person, very learned, vidya, and very gentle. Vidya means educated, means he is gentle and sober. He is not rogue or ruffian.  That is vidya, that is the test of education. He must be very educated, sober, and silent.  That is called gentleman.

Therefore this human form of life should be properly utilized. Not simply engaged in sense gratification like cats and dogs. That is not very responsible life. Responsible life is that I have got this improved form of life, (better) than the cats and dogs, and I have got more intelligence than the cats and dogs.

If I simply utilize it for four bodily necessities of life. Four bodily necessities of life means: we require some eating. The cats, dogs, human being, or high court judge, or anyone, they require some eating. They require sleeping–apartment. So that is, the cats and dogs can sleep without apartment. But sleeping is required. That is fact.  Eating is required.  That is fact. And sex life, that is also fact.  And defense, that is also fact. But these things are common to the cats and dogs and man, human being. So what is the special feature of the human being? The special feature of the human being is, that a human being can consider that I have got this nice American, or Australian, or Indian body, then what am I going to get next? What kind of body? That is utilized for human intelligence.  A cat and dog cannot think like that. Therefore our business should be: Now by nature’s way, I have come to this form of life, by evolutionary process. Now I have got good intelligence, how shall I utilize it?

Vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyam

The whole knowledge is meant for understanding God. That is the end of knowledge. By progressive knowledge, you can make progress but if you do not come to the point of understanding what is God, then your knowledge is imperfect.

That is called Vedanta: Athato brahma jijnasa.

Actually designation has no value. The person is important, not the designation.

Nature is a machine. So do you think a machine works without an operator? Do you think?  Is there any evidence? Now this is a machine, photography. A wonderful machine, it is taking the picture, and it will move. But there is an operator. Can you give any example: Here is a machine which is working without an operator? So how do you think that the nature machine is working without the Supreme Operator, God’s instruction? How do you think it (possible)? This is not very reasonable.

We have to judge.  There are different evidences. One of the evidences is hypothesis. That hypothesis is that because we see that no machine works without an operator, therefore we should conclude that even if we do not know what is God, or what is nature, we must conclude that nature is working under some supreme operator. That is God. It is not necessary to see the operator but we can guess that there must be an operator. So human life is meant for finding out who is there to operate. That is human life. Otherwise it is cats and dogs life.  They are eating, sleeping, mating and dancing, that’s all. That is not human life. You must find out who is the operator.  Athato brahma jijnasa. This is called in Sanskrit words.

Now this human form of life is meant for inquiring about the Supreme Operator. Now that Supreme Operator, Krishna, is so kind. He is giving evidence in the Bhagavad Gita: Mayadhayaksena prakrti suyate sa caracaram, “Now here I am. Under My direction the prakriti, the material nature is working.” But unfortunately I am thinking this is American pains and pleasures. This is Indian pains. Pains and pleasure are the same.  It is neither American nor African. Pain and pleasure is the same. So as soon as this consciousness that I am feeling American pains, American pleasure, as soon as this is over, then we come to the original consciousness, because consciousness cannot be American or African. If I pinch you, the pain felt by you is the same as when I pinch the African. So therefore the consciousness is the same.

Artificially, we are thinking American consciousness, African consciousness. Actually that is not the position. Simply, this misunderstanding has to be cleared out. That is called ceto darpana marjanam. Is it not a fact? The consciousness of feeling pain and pleasure, can it be American or Indian? It is the same. Artificially we are thinking it is American pain, or it is Indian pain.  That is artificial. This artificial covering has to be removed. Then we come to Krishna Consciousness.

Feelings; consciousness is not American, African, or Indian. Consciousness is the same. When you feel hungry, is it that Americans feel a different way? Hungry?  The African feels in a different way? Hunger, appetite is the same. Now if you say this is American appetite and this is Indian appetite, that is artificial.

So when you do not go to the artificial platform, that is Krishna Consciousness. That is explained in Narada Pancaratra: Sarvopadhi vinimuktam tat paratvena nirmalam hrishikena hrishikesha sevanam bhaktir ucyate. When we become free from these artificial designation, American consciousness, Indian consciousness, African consciousness. There is no such thing.  This is artificial.

Even bird and beast, they also feel consciousness, pains and pleasures.

Just like when there is scorching heat, you feel some pain. Is that American, Indian or African?  Scorching heat is everywhere. If you say that I am feeling scorching heat the American way. Simply these are artificial. Everything is depending on consciousness. Everything is depending on consciousness. Therefore Krishna Consciousness is the original standard consciousness.

The big airship, the 747, is flying because the pilot is there and the pilot is a soul, covered by another bodily machine. That is the missing point in modern civilization. That is: Who is working with the machine? That they do not know.  That is ignorance.

It is said in Bhagavad Gita: isvarah sarva bhutanam hrd-dese’ rjuna tisthati bhramayan sarva bhutani yantra rudhani mayaya. Yantra means machine.

Actually they’re finding that a big nice machine, computer, without an operator it does not work. And this huge machine is working without any spiritual touch? Just see the foolishness. They think automatically it works. Nature is working automatically.  Do they not think?

Disciple: They think there’s a mind, but not a soul.

Srila Prabhupada: That’s all right, something is there, which is working. Now that may be a mistake, to call it soul or mind, that is the next understanding but the machine is not working independently. That should be understood first. Then how the machine is working, that will be the next chapter. So they have no understanding even how the machine is working. Mudho ‘yam nabhijanati loko mama jam avyayam Maya dhyaksena prakrii suyate sa caracaram. That they do not know, mudhas.

So if you do not know how the machine is working, then what is the value of your education? Education means enlightenment. You do not know what is the final cause. That huge body is working, as nature, so many planets, so many big, big planets like the sun and moon, they are floating in the air. Who has made this arrangement? There we see every day and everyone is speculating: it is being done like this. Another philosopher comes, he says it is like this. Another says it is like this. Nasau munir yasya matam na bhinnam, “A philosopher is not a great philosopher if he does not defy the other philosophers.” Is it not? So this process is going on.  I defy you, you defy me.  That’s all. But what is the real fact? Neither you know, neither I know. But we write big, big articles. That is going on.

Just like this finger is part and parcel of my body. Whatever I am ordering, it is immediately carrying out. I say, “Make it like this.”  It will do. But this is dead matter, it is acting mechanically. The brain directs immediately the finger, and it acts like a machine. This whole body is just like a machine. But soul is not machine, mechanical part. It is the spiritual part. So therefore as I am directing the finger, being a machine it is working. But if somebody else, a friend or servant, I may direct him to do something, he may not do it.

So when the soul misuses the independence, then he falls down. That is material life. Material life means misusing the independence of the soul. Just like a son.  A son’s duty is to obey the father but he may not obey.  That is his madness.

Philosopher: So when the soul, misusing the independence, becomes mad…

Srila Prabhupada: He is sent to this material world.

Philosopher: It is puzzling to me how one can  become so foolish.

Srila Prabhupada: Because by independence you can become foolish. Otherwise there is no meaning of independence. Independence means you can do whatever you like. That is stated in the Bhagavad Gita that: Jathecchasi tatha kuru. Find out this verse in the eighteenth chapter. That independence is there. After instructing the whole Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna, Krishna gave him the independence. Now, whatever you like you can do.

Krishna never forced him to accept the teachings of Bhagavad Gita. He gave him the independence: Now whatever you like you can do and he agreed. Yes, now my illusion is over, I shall act as you say. The same independence.  Yes?

Disciple: Thus I have explained to you the most confidential of all knowledge deliberate on this fully and do what you wish to do.

Philosopher: Now, if you say why should the soul become so foolish?

Srila Prabhupada: So that is the misuse of independence. The intelligent father has an intelligent son but sometimes he becomes a fool. So what is the reason? He is part and parcel of the father. He should have become exactly like the father but he does not become like the father.

I have seen in Allahabad, a big lawyer, barrister, Mr. Banerjee. His eldest son was also a barrister and his youngest son, on account of bad association become a ekavala. Ekavala means, in India there is a carriage drawn by one horse. So he liked to be in a ekavala. That means he fell in love with a low class woman. And by her association he became a ekavala. There are many instances. Therefore, it is the duty of the human being to control the mind, not act like cats and dogs. That is human being. He should be inquisitive. Why is this happening, why is this happening, and he should take education. That is human life. And if he does not enquire, if he does not take education then what is the difference between him and the dog? He remains a dog. He has got this opportunity of human life. He should take advantage of understanding what is what. Not to keep himself in the dog status.

Simply eating, sleeping, sex life and defending. That is the distinction between dog and human being. If he does not become inquisitive:  How to control the mind, he’s not even a human being.

A dog never enquires. A dog knows that when I bark people become disturbed. He will never ask,  “How to control this barking habit?” Because he’s a dog.  He cannot do that. A human being can do that. “People hate me because I do something wrong.  How to control my mind?” That is human being. That is the difference between a human being and a dog.

Therefore the Vedic injunction is: Go and inquire. You have got this human form of life. Athato brahma jijnasa, “Now this is the time for enquiring about the soul.” Tad vijnanatham sa gurum evabhigachet, “If you want to understand this science then go to a proper guru and take lessons from him.”

The same thing as we instruct our children. “If you want to be educated in the higher status of life, go to school, go to college. Take lessons.” That is human society. The dog’s father will never ask the dog:  “Child, go to school.” No, they are dogs.

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About the Author

Founded the Hare Krishna Movement in 1966 in New York. In only 11 years he spread the movement all over the world. He wrote more than 80 books including Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Sri Isopanisad. Prabhupada's books constitute a complete library of Vedic philosophy, religion, literature and culture.

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