Published on June 23rd, 2022 | by HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada


That is your body, but who are you?

You do not know, because as you say you are here, here your coat is there, your pant is there, your hand is there, your body is there, but you cannot explain where you are. All right. Sit down. I shall explain. (laughter) This is the defect of modern education. We are educated in a way in which we have misunderstood, ‘This is my body. This is my hand. This is my leg. This is my country. This is my mother. This is my father…

Lecture at a School — Montreal, June 11, 1968

Prabhupada: Is it working?
Devotee: Yes.
Prabhupada: So one intelligent boy should come forward. Who is intelligent, most intelligent boy? You come forward? Come on. Eh? Somebody come forward, some of the boys. Come on. You come on. No? All right. Very good. Stand up here. Can you say what is this? What is this?
Boy: Hand.
Prabhupada: Whose hand?
Boy: Your hand.
Prabhupada: Your hand. And what is this?
Boy: Your head.
Prabhupada: My head. Yes. And what is this?
Boy: Your knee.
Prabhupada: Yes. My leg. And what is this?
Boy: Your clothes.
Prabhupada: My cloth. Similarly, you have got your head, you have got your hand, you have got your leg, you have got your coat, you have got your pant, but do you know where you are?
Boy: I am here. (laughter)
Prabhupada: You are here, but that is your coat, that is your pant, that is your hand, that is your leg, that is your head. But where you are? It is your coat, it is your pant, it is your hand, it is your leg. Where you are? Do you know that? Can you say, any of the boys or girls here, where you are?
Boy: No.
Prabhupada: No? Oh. So you are not taught in this school where you are? Then what is that education? You do not know where you are.
Boy: I do know where I am. I’m in this school.
Prabhupada: You do not know, because as you say you are here, here your coat is there, your pant is there, your hand is there, your body is there, but you cannot explain where you are. All right. Sit down. I shall explain. (laughter) This is the defect of modern education. We are educated in a way in which we have misunderstood, ‘This is my body. This is my hand. This is my leg. This is my country. This is my mother. This is my father. This is my school. ‘This is my, I know. I have the concept of ‘my. But who is conceiving ‘my ? We have no information where it is. In Srimad-Bhagavatam it is said that yasyatma-buddhih kunape tri-dhatuke [SB 10.84.13]. Under misconception we understand my body as myself. I say, ‘It is my body, but I misidentify my body with myself. Is it not?

So the basic principle of mistake… Yasyatma-buddhih kunape tri-dhatuke. According to Vedic literature, this body is prepared in three elements: fire, water, and clay. So I am not the combination of fire, water, and clay. Then I am this house, I am this room. So yasyatma-buddhih kunape tri-dhatuke [SB 10.84.13]. So basic principle of my knowledge is false, that I am considering this material body as ‘I am. And if the basic principle is wrong, then, in relationship with this body, because I am born in this land of America… ‘I am born means my body is born. Or because my body is born from another body, my father and mother, so I think that ‘This body is my kinsman, and this country is mine, and so on.

But the basic principle is false, that ‘I am considering, falsely identifying myself with this body. But I am within this body. That is a fact. And how can I understand how I am within this body? I can understand I am within this body by my feeling. If there is some pain or pleasure on my body, I can feel. I am conscious that I am there. In consciousness, I am there. And what is this consciousness? This consciousness is the reflection of real myself. Myself means soul. So as soon as the soul is within this body, there is perception of pains and pleasure, heat and cold, and so many things. That is consciousness. And as soon as the soul is out of this body, there is no more pain, pleasure, or heat and cold. A dead body, if you cut it into pieces, it will not protest. Therefore the soul, or consciousness, the symptom of soul, consciousness, is my self. My consciousness is the symptom of my real self. Similarly, there is another consciousness.

In the Bhagavad-gita there are description of two consciousness. Just like I am conscious throughout my body. If you pinch any part of my body, then I feel. That is my consciousness. So I am spread, my consciousness is spread, all over my body. This is explained in the Bhagavad-gita, avinasi tad viddhi yena sarvam idam tatam: ‘That consciousness which is spread all over this body, that is eternal. And antavanta ime deha nityasyoktah saririnah: [Bg. 2.18] ‘But this body is antavat, means imperishable. ‘This body is perishable, but that consciousness is imperishable, eternal. And that consciousness, or the soul, is transmigrating from one body to another.

Just like we are changing dress. I may have this dress. You may have another dress. I may exchange your dress with me.

So this changing of dress going on every moment. How? Now, these children, they are now so small. When they’ll become young, this body will grow. We do not know… We say, ‘It is growing, but growing or not growing, this body will not remain. This body will go; another body will come. Medical science also says that every second we are changing blood corpuscles, and therefore change in the body is going on. So you say or I say that ‘Body is growing, but in the Vedic language it is said that ‘Body is changing. Just like a child is born so small from the mother’s womb, and it changes body every second. Then he becomes a young child or a boy, then young man, then old man like me, and so on. In this way this changing, body changing, is going on. And the final change is called death. Death means… Just like the too much old garments cannot be used, similarly, this body is the garment of the soul. When it is…, no longer can be used, we have to accept another body. This is called transmigration of the soul.

Now, consciousness, the symptom… The presentation of the soul within this body is proved by consciousness. So from Bhagavad-gita we can understand there are two different qualities of consciousness. One consciousness is that I know about the pain and pleasure of my body, you know about the pains and pleasures of your body, but I do not know the pains and pleasure of your body; neither you know the pains and pleasure of my body. Therefore each and every one of us is individual soul, and our consciousness is limited within the body. Similarly, there is another consciousness and another body. That body is universal body, and that consciousness is universal. That universal consciousness knows your pains and pleasure, my pains and pleasure, and millions and trillions of living entities and bodies. He knows the pains and pleasures of everyone. These are the statements in the Bhagavad-gita. Ksetrajnam ca mam viddhi sarva-ksetresu bharata: ‘As individual soul is conscious, is, only of his body, similarly, I am also conscious of everyone’s body.

The Supreme Personality of Godhead says that ‘I am conscious of everyone’s body, because He is all-pervading. He is all-pervading. That is all-pervading consciousness. So this all-pervading consciousness, or Krsna consciousness, we are preaching, consciousness, all-pervading consciousness, universal consciousness. So our consciousness, when it is dovetailed with universal consciousness, them our consciousness also becomes universal consciousness. What is that? I will give you one example. Just like a motorcar is running at hundred miles speed, and you are running on your cycle at ten miles speed. But if you catch that motorcar, you will also run in hundred miles speed. Although your capacity of bicycle is only ten miles speed, you also run at hundred miles speed. So unless we dovetail our activities with the supreme consciousness, or God consciousness, there cannot be equality, fraternity, or universality as we are hankering after. It is not possible. You can go on crying in the wilderness for universal fraternity, friendship, equality, but if you keep your individuality, individual consciousness, selfish consciousness, there is no possibility of peace or tranquillity in the world. Therefore people are very much anxious at the present moment for peace and tranquillity over the world, but they do not know how that peace can be attained. Peace can be attained. The formula is there in the Bhagavad-gita.

Bhoktaram yajna-tapasam sarva-loka-mahesvaram [Bg. 5.29]. You can attain peace only when you understand that God is the proprietor of everything.

Actually, God is proprietor of everything. Now, take for example this house. This house is made of wood, stone, clay, sand, and everything, materials. But who is the proprietor of this wood, sand, clay? God is the proprietor. You cannot produce wood. You cannot produce sand. You cannot produce clay. You can simply work as a laborer to bring the clay, to bring the wood, to bring the stone and collect them and stand, make, construct a very big skyscraper house. But actually, the proprietor is God. This land, this land, America, it was lying before you came from Europe, before you colonized. And it may be, some days after, it will be lying here, and you shall have to go. Therefore who is the proprietor of this land? God is the proprietor. In this way, if we study that ‘Everything belongs to God. I also belong to God, my self, my body, my mind, my activity, my energy, everything… Just take for example. I am claiming that ‘This is my hand, but if God withdraws the energy of the hand, your claim for ‘my hand at once goes. So we have to develop that God consciousness and Krsna consciousness. When we speak of Krsna consciousness, it is God consciousness. People have become degenerated, forgetting God consciousness. Therefore in the present world there is no peace. Materially, they are very much advanced. They are advanced in so-called education, but they do not know what is ‘I. The everything, they are claiming, ‘my and mine, but they do not know what is ‘I.

So this consciousness, Krsna consciousness, is scientifically presented. It is not a sentiment. It is not a sentimental movement. It is very scientific movement. And the easiest process to come to this Krsna consciousness is by chanting this Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. So we are presenting very easy formula for coming to the Krsna consciousness platform. Just a moment before, we were dancing and chanting equally, the boys, the girls, the men, the women. So there is no distinction. Even if we do not understand the language, what is the meaning of Hare Krsna, but because it is transcendental, because it is spiritual, from the spiritual platform, everything is equal. We forget that we are American, or we are Indian, we are child, we are youth, or man, or woman, because in the spiritual platform there is no such bodily distinction.

So our request to all the guardians of the boys and girls present here, or the teachers, that they should teach from the very beginning this Krsna consciousness, or God consciousness. Otherwise the future of the world is not very bright. It is recommended in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. We are having our class in our temple: the instruction of Prahlada Maharaja. Prahlada Maharaja was a five-years-old boy, and he was agitating this Krsna conscious movement in his school. The schoolteacher would not allow him to speak about God, but as soon as there was some recess and the child, the boy, five-years-old boy, he would take the opportunity, call his friends and speak on Krsna consciousness. And he said, kaumara acaret prajno dharman bhagavatan iha [SB 7.6.1]. The Krsna consciousness, or God consciousness, should be taught from the very beginning of education. This is the greatest drawback of modern education, that not only in your country or any country they have completely neglected what is meant by God. And in India, they are especially… Now, as soon as there is any question of God, they see phobia: ‘Oh, this is all nonsense. They have become so clever.

So anyway, my appeal to you, American people, that you are considered to be the leader of all nations of the world. You should take this Krsna conscious movement very seriously. It is good for you. It is good for the whole world. It is individually, collectively, without any consideration of caste, creed, or color. Everyone can chant Hare Krsna, anyone and everyone, at home, on the street. There is no expenditure. Suppose while walking if you chant Hare Krsna, there is no loss, there is no expenditure, but you see how much you are profited by chanting Hare Krsna. This is practical. We don’t say that ‘You come to our temple and give us some subscription. Become our member. That is a secondary question. Our primary movement is that everyone may take advantage of this movement and simply chant wherever possible, at home, at work, on the street, anywhere. There is no regulation where you have to chant and how you have to chant. It is spontaneous. Simply chant Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. There are only three words there: Hare, Krsna, and Rama, but they are adjusted in a different position. There are sixteen words. So it is not very difficult. You can make an experiment. The children also may take pleasure. We have got our records. If you play those records and chant with it, you will find a transcendental pleasure in you. These are facts. So our request to you, that you take this movement a little seriously, and you will be happy by grace of Krsna.
Thank you very much. If you have got any question, you can ask. (pause)
Devotee: We should chant about five minutes. Then we’ll serve milk.
Prabhupada: Yes. No, let, if there is any question, we shall answer. That is not yet one hour.
Devotee: Some of the older boys want to stay after, and you can discuss with them then. They may have some questions.
Prabhupada: So first of all you have to chant? All right. Please join with us and chant Hare Krsna. Yes?
Yamuna: Swamiji, may I say something before we chant?
Prabhupada: Yes.

Yamuna: I want everybody to listen very carefully. This is a new song that… It would be very nice if you should learn how to sing and learn how to sing it very well. And the only way you can do it is by listening very carefully, everybody, So give your attention to these words: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Now, if everybody will do this, and stand up, close your eyes very tight, put your hands up in the air and sing this song, so you really learn the words, and you can go home and teach it to your brothers and sisters and your mother and your father, and tell them what you learned today. You have to say you learned something. So if you teach them this song, that would be very nice. But you must learn it by listening. So listen to the words. Then get up, close your eyes and just sing. And you’ll find it’s a very nice song. But unless you try it, you won’t learn it. Just like all the other songs you learn in your class. So try it. So I’m going to say the words, and then you say the words after me. We’re going to practice it once. Okay. (with children repeating) Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Okay. Now we’re going to clap our hands too. [break]
Devotee: Do you want this? It’s pineapple.
Prabhupada: Distribute prasada. What is this?
Devotee: Pineapple. There’s apples too.
Prabhupada: Pineapple? Oh. There is what? What is that?
Devotee: Oh, this is milk and bananas.
Prabhupada: Oh!
Devotee: Warm milk and bananas. (end)

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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.

11 Responses to That is your body, but who are you?

  1. Aman Pandey says:

    Hare Krishna Prabhu
    Please accept my humble obeisances
    All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

    Is everything in life predecided or in human life there is some control over what one does? It seems there is some control because otherwise there would be no question of sin. So can one control what one becomes or how much wealth etc one has?

    • Hare Krishna Aman

      Yes. In the human form of life we are responsible for our actions because we have the choice between good and bad. So everything is not completely predestined. We can choose to serve Krishna or to serve maya, we can choose our master. We are eternally servants but we can choose to serve Krishna or to serve maya, that’s all.

      We are born with so much karma, as a result of the good and bad activities we have performed in previous lives. So we are destined to enjoy a certain amount and suffer a certain amount due to the karma we are carrying from our previous lives and previously in this life. So those good and bad reactions are predestined. So, for a materialist, mostly everything is predestined due to the karma they have accrued in the past. So for a materialist it is predestined if he is going to be rich or poor, etc. He can not change it.

      But for the devotees Krishna takes a special interest and Krishna changes the karma of a devotee. So Krishna’s hand is there in the lives of His devotees and in this way a devotee becomes free from the reactions of his past karma.

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      • Aman Pandey says:

        Hare Krishna Prabhu

        Does good things that can be done in human life also include other things than Krishna Consciousness activities? Or other good things like worshipping demigods in the mode of goodness are done completely under direction of Maya?

        • The only good thing is Krishna consciousness. Other things are not good. There is good karma and bad karma. Good work and bad work but a devotee understands that even good work is also bad because it generates karma. If you do something good for someone else for example that means they become indebted to you, they owe you something that they will have to pay you back for in the future. So this good work, charity, etc, creates a problem for devotees because it forces both you and the person you helped to have to take birth again. He has to take birth to pay back the debt he owes you and you have to take birth again to receive the payment from him.

          So both good and bad work perpetuate our material existence, so devotees do not want to perform any work that binds them to the material word. So devotees only work for Krishna and service to Krsihna is completely transcendental and generates no karma.

          Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

          Madhudvisa dasa

  2. Brijesh Dani says:

    Hare Krishna Madhudvisa Prabhu,

    2 questions for you.

    1) It is a well-known fact that life and death are pre-decided by the Supreme Lord.
    I would like to know that when life and death are already decided by the Lord,
    how do people get killed by accidents, murders etc., which are untimely death?

    2) Does the spirit soul exist as a person ( meaning human shaped ) before falling
    into material illusion and obtaining one of 8.4 million physical shapes?
    It is really an amazing 1/10,000th the tip of a human hair in size?

    Prabhuji,your answers will be eagerly awaited !

    Hare Krishna !

    Brijesh Dani

    • Hare Krishna Brijesh Dani

      You have made a big mistake. You make a completely incorrect statement and assert it is true. “It is a well-known fact that life and death are pre-decided by the Supreme Lord.” Firstly there is no death for the living entity. Death is an illusion. We are not these material bodies, we are spirit souls. And as spirit souls we are eternal, we never die. So there is no death. Death is an illusion. What we call death is simply us changing from one material body to another. It is the same as going to sleep at night. Actually in the morning you wake up with a different body. So this going to sleep at night is the same as death. Only it is shorter. So there is no death. Just a change of the material body from one to another.

      While everything is going on under the ultimate direction of Krishna, nothing in the material world is pre-decided by the Lord. Where did you get this idea. Of course Krishna knows everything–past, present and future. But knowing the future does not mean that you are deciding the future.

      You have to understand that we are all part and parcel of Krishna. We have the same qualities as Krishna, but we have them in a tiny, insignificant quantity. So Krishna is completely independent, we, as part and parcel of Krishna, also have a very limited amount of independence. That independence is really only to choose between two different masters. We can choose to serve Krishna or we can choose to reject Krishna and that means choosing to serve maya. We remain servants always. We are never actually independent. But we have the independence to choose between two different masters: Krishna and maya. And ultimately of course maya is serving Krishna so in an indirect way when we serve maya we are also under the direction of Krishna.

      The only reason we are in the material world and experiencing all these things like accidents, murders, etc, is because we have used our limited independence to reject Krishna so we have been sent here to the material world. And we are responsible for our activities. So these accidents, murders, etc, all the bad things that happen to us, are not caused by Krishna. They can caused by us. It is all our fault. These things are karmic reactions to sinful activities we have committed in the past. They are caused by reactions to our sinful activities.

      Nothing is pre-decided by Krishna. We, like Krishna, have a little independence and independence means it is decided by us, not Krishna, but that is very limited independence and we are never actually independent in any situation. We are always servants. We are nitya-krishna-dasa, eternal servants of Krishna. That is a permanent, eternal constitutional position. We can not get out of that position. That is what we are, eternal servants of Krishna. It is only by Krishna’s unlimited mercy that He has created this material world and his potency maya that puts us in the illusion that we can be happy separately from serving Krishna. But that is not possible. That is maya, that is illusion. Even here in the material world we are indirectly serving Krishna via His servant maya…

      So these things are simple but you have got it completely wrong. You do not understand it. So I suggest you take very seriously chanting at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra every day, strictly follow the four regulative principles [no illicit sex, no meat eating, no gambling and no intoxication] and read Srila Prabhupada’s books at least 1-2 hours a day and you will come to realize these things and so many other things.

      Yes. Spirit soul is eternally a person. But a spiritual person with a spiritual body. Not this material body. We are not this material body. You have this material conception of life and material conception of person. Spirit soul is an eternal spiritual person. Here in the material world we are covered by the material body and the subtle body. They are external coverings only, like clothes. But really we are eternal spiritual persons. The material bodies limit the extent we can exhibit our personality. And on this planet the human form of life is the closest representation to our original spiritual form. But still this human material body severely limits the amount we can exhibit our original spiritual personality. But we can get the idea in the human form of life. So this human form of life is a great benefit. A very suitable boat for crossing over the ocean of necience and for going back home back to Godhead.

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

  3. Uttam says:

    Dear sir,

    I have already subscribed to your news letter and regularly getting letters . I always read with a great faith in Lord Krishna
    recently my father died , he was also a great devotee of Lord Krishna

    I have some personal questions that I need to discuss, hence it would be great if you could send me your e-mail id so that I can ineteract more

    Thanks again , with high regards Uttam

  4. Kalevala says:

    Thanks again! This got me wondering, it would be amazing if there’d be a -IRC channel… A realtime conversation of everything that matters. Good free IRC -client programs are Xchat and Hexchat for example.

    • No. is not for that. It would very quickly degenerate into a maya chat… If you have any question about the philosophy post it here and I will answer it.

      Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!

      Madhudvisa dasa

  5. SRINIVASAN V says:

    Yes this body is not my body. The parts of my body both internal and external are not designed either by my parents or by me. It is the design of the Supreme. Hence the body is not my body. I hope my understanding is correct. But somehow it is functioning. That means some thing is existing i.e. Sat. The intelligence of this Sat is Chit. The quality of this Sat and Chit is Anandha. This is called Parabrahma. Therefore I am Sat Chit Anandha Parabrahman.

    I hope my understanding is correct.

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