Published on June 21st, 2022 | by HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada0
The Boatman & The Technology Student
One student of technology was going home, and he was on the boat. So the student was asking the boatman, “Do you know what are the stars?” The boatman said, “Sir, we are ordinary boatman. What do we know about these stars?” “Oh. Then your fifty percent of life is wasted, useless.” Then he was asking, “Do you know what are these trees?
Lecture to Technology Students (M.I.T.) — Boston, May 5, 1968
caksur unmilitam yena
tasmai sri-gurave namah
This prayer is offering respectful obeisances to the spiritual master. Why? Because the spiritual master is the person who opens our eyes, complicated in ignorance, with the torch of transcendental knowledge. Timirandhasya. Every one of us born ignorant, and we require specific education and training for seeing things as they are. Today I am very glad to meet you. You are all students of technology. This Krsna consciousness movement is also another technology. Unfortunately, in the modern state of civilization there are different department of knowledge. There is department of teaching medical science, there is department of teaching engineering, there is department of educating:so many other departments of knowledge. Unfortunately, there is no department for distributing knowledge in the science of the soul. But that is the important, most important thing, because the soul is the mainstay, is the background of all our movements.
In the Bhagavad-gita there is a nice verse:
indriyani parany ahur
indriyebhyah param manah
manasas tu para buddhir
yo buddheh paratas tu sah
The idea is that in the present consciousness I am thinking that I am this body, although actually I am not this body. This is ignorance. And body means the senses. I am acting means… Just like I am talking. That means I am using my tongue for vibration. So these bodily activities means sensual activities. But if you go deep into the matter, the senses can only act when the mind is sound. If the mind is not sound, a crazy man or a madman cannot use his senses properly. Therefore higher science.
First of all technology of the senses, and then, next higher technology is of the mind, which is known as psychology. Thinking, feeling, willing. They are trying to understand how they are working. And above this mind, mental science, there is the science of intelligence. And above the science of intelligence, the background is the soul. Unfortunately, we have got technology for the bodily senses, we have got technology for psychology, but we have neither any technology for intelligence nor for any technology in the science of the soul. The Krsna consciousness movement is the technology of the science of soul.
[The Story of the Boatman & The Technology Student]
There is a nice story. You’ll appreciate it. In India, especially in Bengal, there are many rivers. The land is full of rivers. Because it is on the bank of the Bay of Bengal, all rivers are falling. Therefore Bengal, the land of, especially the east Bengal, is full of rivers. One student of technology was going home, and he was on the boat. So the student was asking the boatman, “Do you know what are the stars?” The boatman said, “Sir, we are ordinary boatman. What do we know about these stars?” “Oh. Then your fifty percent of life is wasted, useless.” Then he was asking, “Do you know what are these trees? Do you know any science of botany?” He said, “Sir, we are ordinary laborer. What do we know about botany?” “Oh. Then seventy-five percent of your life is useless.” In this way the student of technology was asking the boatman, “Do you know this? Do you know that?” And he said that “I am ordinary man. What do I know all these things?” Then all of a sudden there was a black cloud, and there was storm, and the river began to be inflated, and the boatman said, “My dear sir, do you know swimming?” “Oh,” he said, “no.” Then he said, “Then your cent percent knowledge is spoiled. Now you have to go down to the river. Your life is finished.” In this way they dropped in the river, and the technological student, because he did not know how to swim, so the storm and the waves grabbed him.
The idea is that we are making progress, certainly, in technology, in economics, in so many other departments of human necessities. But Bhagavad-gita says that real problem of this world, or real problem of our life, it is said in the Bhagavad-gita, janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi-duhkha-dosanudarsan am. If you are intelligent enough, then you should see the real problem is birth, death, old age and disease. Janma means birth, and mrtyu means death. Janma-mrtyu-jara. Jara means old age, and vyadhi means disease. So actual material problem is this, janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi. We have forgotten that “In the abdomen of my mother, how precarious condition I was living in.” Of course, we can know from the description of medical science or any other science how the child is packed up there and how much suffering is there. The worms bite the child and he cannot express; he suffers the suffering. Similarly, the mother eats something and the pungent taste also gives him suffering.
So these descriptions are there in the sastras, in the scriptures and authentic Vedic literature, how the child suffers within the abdomen of mother. So these are the sufferings of birth. At least, one child has to remain in that air-packed condition at least for ten months. Now just imagine if you are put into that air-packed condition for three minutes now, you will immediately die. But actually, we had that experience to remain in the mother’s womb in that air-packed condition for ten months. So suffering was there, but because the child was incapable of expressing, therefore… Or his consciousness was not so elevated. He could not cry, but the suffering was there. Similarly, at the time of death there is suffering. Similarly, old man. Just like us, we have got so many complaints, bodily complaints. Because now everything, the anatomical or physiological condition, is deteriorating. The stomach is not digesting foodstuff so nicely as when I was young I could digest. So the sufferings are there. Similarly, disease. Who wants disease? So modern technology, they have advanced undoubtedly, but there is no remedy for, I mean to say, to stop birth, death, old age and disease. This is real problem. But because these problems cannot be solved by the modern scientific advancement of knowledge, they have practically set aside or neglected because they cannot solve it.
But there is a solution. There is a solution. That solution of this problem is stated in the Bhagavad-gita, that,
mam upetya kaunteya
samsiddhim paramam gatah
“My dear Arjuna, if somebody comes to Me…” “Me” means here the Supreme Personality of Godhead is saying, Krsna. “If somebody comes to Me, then he hasn’t got to take birth again in this miserable material condition.” Duhkhalayam asasvatam [Bg. 8.15]. Duhkhalayam means the place of miseries. We are thinking that we have made a paradise, but actually the place is miserable, because the threefold miseries, they are there. Either in America or in India or in any other country, China, or any other planet, the material miseries which are three kinds, adhyatmika, adhibhautika, adhidaivika… Adhyatmika means miseries pertaining to the body and the mind. Sometimes we are feeling headaches, sometimes we are feeling some other pains. Any things which are pertaining to the body and mind, there is some pain. These are called adhyatmika. Similarly, there are other pains, inflicted by other living entities. They are called adhibhautika. Similarly, other pains also, which is offered by the nature, by the laws of nature. All of a sudden there is earthquake, all of a sudden there is famine, or similar other which we have no control over. So these three kinds of miseries are always there. But under the spell of illusion we are thinking that we are happy. And the illusion means that the material energy is so illusory that however a living entity may be in abominable condition, he thinks that he is happy. You take any animal, just like take the hog:that life is most filthy life. Of course, you have no experience to see in your city, hogs. In India there are many hogs in the city, and they are living in filthy place:they are eating stool, and most abominable life. But even you ask a hog that “You are living in such abominable condition. Let me do you something good,” he’ll refuse to accept. If you give him something, nice preparation, as we have got in India, halava, he’ll not accept it. He will accept stool, because his body is meant for that purpose and he will not like any palatable foodstuff. He will like that stool. This is the spell of maya.
So Krsna consciousness means that if we want, if we are actually educated, then we must try to question that “Why I am suffering?” This is called brahma-jijnasa. In the Vedanta-sutra the first aphorism is athato brahma jijnasa. One should inquire about his existence as soul, not as body or as mind. Because he is neither body nor mind. So this Vedanta-sutra says that athato brahma jijnasa. Atha atah means this is the time, this human form of life, developed consciousness, with greater intelligence than the animals, one should inquire about his spiritual existence. That is real technology. And Srimad-Bhagavata says that parabhavas tavad abodha-jato yavan na jijnasata atma-tattvam. So long one does not inquire about his spiritual existence… Every one of us is born ignorant because we do not know what is our real identity. Generally, we accept that “I am this body,” but actually I am not this body. These things can be understood very easily. Suppose you are seeing all along a friend. All of a sudden he dies and you say, “My friend is gone.” Well, your friend is lying there with all the body, hands, legs, everything. He’s lying there. Why do you say that your friend is gone? Then you have never seen your friend. You have seen only his bodily structure. That’s all. Similarly, at the present moment the humanitarian work is going on, but we do not know what is the basic principle of humanitarian work. The Bhagavata answers this: yasyatma-buddhih kunape tri-dhatuke [SB 10.84.13]. A person who is in the knowledge that “I am this body and…,” sva-dhih kalatradisu bhauma-ijya-dhih, and if one thinks that “In relations with this body, my kinsmen, they will protect me,” and if he thinks that “The land where the body is grown, that is the worshipable land,” then he is, I mean to say, accepted like animal. Sa eva go-kharah [SB 10.84.13].
So these instructions are there. Unfortunately, we have no time, neither we have desire to understand actually what I am, why I am suffering, what is this world, what is my relationship with this world, what is God, what is my relationship with God. These questions are very important questions, and there is technology to understand these questions. And the Srimad Bhagavad-gita or Srimad-Bhagavatam, Vedanta-sutra, all these literatures are there. If you kindly, of course, see to these literatures, you’ll find the solution of the problems of life. But we are not interested. That is the difficulty. We are thinking that we are happy, we have no problem, although there are so many problems and we are not happy. This is called maya. Maya means what is not. Ma means not. Ya means this. This is called maya. We are thinking that we are happy, but actually we are not happy. And even if we are happy, how long we are happy? Suppose, taking for example you Americans, you are the richest nation of the world. Your material comforts and everything is greater than other countries, standard of living. But just try to think how long you can remain as American. Say, for fifty years or hundred years, at most. Then… But we do not know what is going to happen in my next life because we do not believe in the next life. But actually there is next life. So if you don’t take care of my next life and if we irresponsibly waste our valuable human form of life like ordinary animals… The ordinary animals, they demand something for eating, they want to sleep, they want to defend, and they want to mate. So similarly, if human being is also busy with the four principles of bodily demands, namely eating, sleeping, mating and defending, then, according to Vedic literature, it is said that he is not human being. Dharmena hina pasubhih samanah. If the human being does not understand his real spiritual identity and simply busy with the four demands of bodily necessities, then pasubhih samanah:he’s as equal as with lower animals, cats and dogs.
So Bhagavad-gita gives you clue. It is not very difficult to understand this science. The Bhagavad-gita gives you the information of the spirit soul very simply. The Bhagavad-gita says,
dehino ‘smin yatha dehe
kaumaram yauvanam jara
dhiras tatra na muhyati
Just like within this body, when you were a child you were within this body:not exactly this body, but another body, which was so small. Now where is that body? That body is gone. You have got another body. So Bhagavad-gita says, as we are changing body moment to moment, dehino ‘smin yatha dehe… [Bg. 2.13]. Dehinah means the soul, the spirit soul, who is embodied within this body, as he is changing body from moment to moment. This is a fact, a medical fact, that you are changing body every moment. Similarly, the last change is called death. But we have to take…, we have to accept another body. But we do not know what sort of body we are going to accept. That technology is wanting in the modern civilization. But there are 8,400,000’s of different bodies, and after leaving this body you may enter any of such bodies. You may become, after leaving this body, you can become American or you can become Indian or you can become Chinaman or you can become god in the moon planet or some other planet, or you can become dog, you can become hog, you can become serpent:anything. That requires… That is under the control of the material nature. That is not under your control. But if you take to this Krsna consciousness, it will be under your control. How it is possible? The Bhagavad-gita answers this:
yanti deva-vrata devan
pitrn yanti pitr-vratah
bhutejya yanti bhutani
mad-yajino ‘pi yanti mam
If you want to enter into another planet, say moon planet or sun planet or Venus planet… There are innumerable planets. The ultimate, highest planet is called Brahmaloka. And the advantage of going to Brahmaloka is also stated in the Bhagavad-gita, that you can get a life, sahasra-yuga-paryantam ahar yad brahmano viduh [Bg. 8.17]. You can get there life for millions and millions of years. But still, there is death and there is birth and there is that old age and there is that disease. But mad-dhama gatva punar janma na vidyate. But if somebody is transferred to that planet which is called Krsnaloka, Goloka Vrndavana, or Vaikuntha, then one hasn’t got to come back to this material, I mean to say, temporary existence. So these informations are there, and they are very scientific. They are not dogmatic. If you accept them with reason and argument and with human consciousness, the solutions are there.
So Krsna consciousness is the movement. It is not new movement. This movement is at least, current, since five hundred years before. Lord Caitanya, He started this movement in the fifteenth century. So this movement is current everywhere in India, but in your country, of course, it is new. But our request is that you kindly take this movement little seriously. We do not ask you to stop your technological advance. You do it. There is a nice proverb in Bengal that a woman who is busy in household work is also…, she also takes care for dressing herself nicely. It is the nature of women. When they go out they dress very nicely. So similarly, you may be busy with all kinds of technology. That, that is not forbidden. But at the same time, you try to understand this technology, the science of soul. That is there. It is not a bogus propaganda. It is factual. It is science. As science is not bogus propaganda, similarly this Krsna consciousness is also not bogus propaganda. As science means two plus two equal to four, similarly Krsna consciousness means mitigating the all problems of life. So… And the process is very easy. We are… Not we are. It is recommended by Lord Caitanya that in this age, for self-realization it is this process:
harer nama harer nama harer nama iva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva nasty eva gatir anyatha
Lord Caitanya says that in this age, when our life is very short, we are not very much enlightened in spiritual matters and we are very lazy at the same time, and at the same time we are unfortunate, so under these conditions the people are recommended simply to chant Hare Krsna. Harer nama harer nama harer nama iva kevalam. Now this Hare Krsna movement, you may say that “This ‘Krsna’ is Indian name or Hindu name. Why shall we chant ‘Krsna’?” But if you have got any name of God, you can chant that also. Caitanya Mahaprabhu says that God has millions and billions of names. So any name is as good as “Krsna.” It doesn’t matter. Then why we chant Hare Krsna? Because we are following the footprints of Lord Caitanya, and He chanted this holy name, we are chanting. So we shall request you most humbly that it is…, there is no loss on your part, but the gain is immense. If you take to this chanting Hare Krsna, then gradually your misconception of this life will be cleared off. You will understand your real identity and you will act in that way. And the technology is so nice that you may remain in your business, that doesn’t matter. Simply you have to chant Hare Krsna. Suppose you are walking on the street. If you chant Hare Krsna, nobody is taxing you, nobody is bothering you. But if by chanting Hare Krsna, if you derive some benefit, why do you neglect it? That is our submission. So this movement is for making solution of the problems of life, and it can be easily done. And anyone can accept it. It doesn’t matter whether he is Indian or American or Hindu or Muslim or Christian. It doesn’t matter. Simply this vibration: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
So I shall thank you if you join us with this kirtana and at least for few minutes you chant this Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna. Thank you very much. Any question you can put. Yes?
Student (1): If I understood you, I think you said that this approach, that you feel that it’s appropriate to you because people are lax in their approach to spiritual problems.
Prabhupada: It is not Hindu approach. It is… We are recommending that you chant the holy name of God.
Student (1): But as I understood you, I thought you said that this was appropriate here because people aren’t terribly interested, therefore are lax in spiritual matters, which I feel is true. But if this is true, is there something that would follow? In other words, could you progress to some other form of this more…?
Prabhupada: There are many other forms, of course, but this form is the easiest, and just suitable for the people of this age. Just like you gather together and chant Hare Krsna. Anyone can. Actually we are doing that. In your country, wherever I go I chant this, and the American boys and girls, they take part in it in parks, in our class. So there is no difficulty. And this is the easiest. Simply we do not ask that you must be very highly educated, you must be philosopher, you must be expert in breathing exercise or this way or that way. No. We don’t require any qualification. Simply come and sit with us and chant Hare Krsna and see the result.
Student (1): Do you imagine in this life an attainment of a follower…?
Prabhupada: Oh, yes. There are many followers. You can ask how they have changed. We have got many letters. And here there are my students. You can ask directly how they have changed. This is practical. Yes.
Student (2): I want to make sure I understood:that chanting this over a long time will also help affect where our body will go after we die, what form we’ll come back in?
Prabhupada: First thing is by chanting your misconception of life will be cleared. At the present moment I am thinking that “I am this body,” and therefore, because my body is born in this land, therefore I am thinking, “I am American.” And because I happened to take my birth in a certain family, so I am thinking, “I am Christian” or “Hindu.” But all these things are designations. When we clear the misconception of my life, then I can understand that I am pure soul, aham brahmasmi. The Vedic language says that “I am spirit soul.” And as soon as you understand, then brahma-bhutah prasannatma na socati na kanksati [Bg. 18.54]. As soon as you realize yourself as soul, then you become immediately free from all anxieties, prasannatma. Prasannatma means jolly. Spiritual life means natural joyful. Anandamayo ‘bhyasat. The Vedanta-sutra says that spirit is by nature joyful. So because we are spirit, we are always hankering after joyous life. But because our expression is through this material mind and body, it is not being fulfilled. So as soon as you stand on the spiritual platform, you actually stand on the platform of joyous life. That is the immediate gain. Ceto-darpana-marjanam bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam [Cc. Antya 20.12]. Immediately. Yes?
Student (3): What is the meaning of the sign at your back?
Prabhupada: What is the meaning of your sign in the neck? What is the meaning of your sign in the neck? Oh, this? I do not know. (laughter) That is not my sign. That is technological sign. (laughter)
Student (4): Your Holiness?
Student (4): Could you estimate how many people in India have found true spirituality through Indian religion?
Prabhupada: What do you mean by Indian religion?
Student (4): By any of the true religions which are offered in India. Not only yours, but…
Prabhupada: You do not know what is Indian religion. The Indian religion is stated in the Bhagavad-gita. Have you read Bhagavad-gita? Then you do not know what is Indian religion. Indian religion is stated in the Bhagavad-gita. The Bhagavad-gita, Krsna says, there is no greater higher authority than Krsna. You can accept it. At least, the Indians, they accept. So in the Bhagavad-gita it is said in the beginning that yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati: [Bg. 4.7] “Whenever there is discrepancy in the matter of discharging religious principles, I appear.” Now, if you accept this religion means the Hindu religion or Muslim religion or Christian religion or Buddhist religion, Krsna does not propose such religion. He, at the end of Bhagavad-gita, He says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: [Bg. 18.66] “You give up all other religious principles. You simply surrender unto Me.” So religion, either you take it Hindu religion or Muslim religion or Christian religion, religion means to surrender unto God. And the Bhagavata explains, sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhoksaje [SB 1.2.6]. That is the perfect type of religion which teaches surrendering unto the Supreme Lord. That is religion. Either you take it Hindu religion or Christian religion or Muslim religion or any religion, real religion means surrendering unto God. If there is no surrender unto God, that is no religion.
Student (4): Well, in India how many followers do you feel…
Prabhupada: Why do you ask for India? I am talking of religious principle. How many of you Christian, you surrender unto God? First answer this. Then you go to India. Anyone, Christian or Muslim or Hindu, it doesn’t matter. The conception of God is there. If you do not surrender unto God, you have no religion. Yes?
Student (5): In the Bhagavad-gita, when Krsna asks Arjuna to go forth in the battle and not to, to slay his relatives and not to be caught in the material world and see that the slayer and the slain are one, should the young American faced with the war in Vietnam go forth to Vietnam realizing that the slayer and the slain are one and that all this slaughter, just slaughter karma, and follow the way of the sage.
Prabhupada: In the Bhagavad-gita, Arjuna, he was a devotee of Krsna, a friend of Krsna. Perhaps you know it. So in the beginning he did not like to fight. He denied. So any devotee of God or Krsna is not fond of war or fighting with any others. But if there is necessity, if Krsna wants that fight, a devotee of Krsna will accept such fight. If you think that your Vietnam fighting is ordered by Krsna, then it is all right. If it is not, then it is not. That is Krsna consciousness. We act in Krsna consciousness. If Krsna says, if God says, “This is right,” we accept it right. If God says it is wrong, we accept it wrong. Because we think, we have poor fund of knowledge. We do not know what is right and wrong. Therefore if God says or Krsna says this is right, we accept it right. If God says or Krsna says it is wrong, we accept it wrong. Yes?
Student (6): In order for one body to perceive another body, you need your eye. You have to look and see the other person and another person… In order for a body to perceive itself, it needs a mirror. But how does one body perceive its soul?
Prabhupada: Yes. When you see your body you think that “This is my finger, this is my hand, this is my head, this is my chest, this is my leg.” You see simply you will find, “This is my, this is my, this is my.” But if you try to find out “Then what is I?” then you will find out. That is called self-realization. We are simply now engrossed with things “my,” but we do not know what is “I.” The identification of myself or I with this body is wrong. The identification of I with the mind is also wrong. The identification of I with intelligence is also wrong. When you actually come to the platform of spiritual understanding, then you understand that “I am neither this body, neither the senses, neither this mind, nor intelligence, but I am spirit soul.” That is called brahma-jnana, or Brahman realization. And the symptom will be, as soon as you are actually in self-realization, you will feel happy. You will have no anxiety. That is the test. Just like when you’re free from disease, then there is no pain. Similarly, when you actually realize that you are spirit soul, aham brahmasmi, then the symptom will be that there will be no anxiety and no lamentation and no bereavement or no so-called, I mean to say, happiness.
Student (7): How can you be sure?
Prabhupada: Here is the surety. As soon as you see that you’re free from all anxiety, then it is sure that you have realized yourself.
Student (7): Well how can you be sure you’re free from all anxiety if you’re incapable of perceiving happiness? And to perceive happiness, you…
Prabhupada: Well, you have to follow the process. Then you will feel. Just like if you are diseased, if you have to be under the treatment of the physician and you have to take medicine, and when you’re actually free, you will yourself feel, “Yes, I am free.” But without going under treatment of an expert physician, or taking the medicine, how you can be free from disease? Yes?
Student (8): I don’t understand exactly how Krsna consciousness is different than the other religions. Like in Christianity, Judaism and Moslem they have the idea that a person can pray and sometimes chant, communicate with God, understand His way. And all religions seem to have this. So I don’t see how it’s different.
Prabhupada: There is no difference. I have already explained that we are recommending that you chant the holy name of God. If you have got any holy name of God in your religion, you can chant that. We don’t say that you chant Krsna. Just like you are thirsty, you want water. Somebody may call “water,” somebody may call “pani,” somebody may call “jala.” That doesn’t matter. But you want water. Similarly, if you have got any name for calling the Supreme Lord, you call in that name. It doesn’t matter. That is our recommendation. When we say, harer nama. Harer nama means the holy name of the Supreme Lord. Yes?
Student (9): There are different techniques for reaching Christ consciousness or God consciousness or self-realization. What test do you recommend for finding out which technique is the best?
Prabhupada: Yes. That I have already explained. That technique is best by which you develop your love of God. That is the test. If by following Christian religion or Muhammadan religion or Hindu religion you actually develop your transcendental love for God, that is the best technique. If you have no love for God, simply you follow the technique, then it is simply laboring. That’s all.
Student (9): I mean especially the variations of Indian technique.
Prabhupada: I don’t say any variation. I say that is the best technique by which you develop love of God. Now you find out what is that best technique. If you find that in your technique you are developing love of God, it is best. We don’t say that you accept this technique or that technique. Any technique by which… Just like a man is diseased. Any medicine by which he is cured, that is best medicine for him. Similarly, the criterion is whether you have developed love for God or you are still in love for the matter. That is the test. Sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhoksaje [SB 1.2.6]. This is the definition of technique in Srimad-Bhagavatam. That technique is the best form of technique of religious activity by which you can develop your service attitude towards the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The service attitude is there. You are serving. Either you are serving your family or you are serving your body or you are serving your society or serving your country, or if you have no engagement to service, you are serving some dog, you are serving some cat, you are serving some animal. So serving spirit is there, but we do not know where to place our service and become actually benefited by that service. Therefore you have to develop that spirit of service attitude toward the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When you develop that consciousness, that is called Krsna consciousness or God consciousness or whatever technical name you may give. Yes?
Student (10): According to the belief, how many… Is there a fixed number of souls or fixed number of spirits in the universe?
Prabhupada: No. The souls are innumerable. Asankhyaya. It is stated in the Vedic literature, asankhyaya. You cannot count. Asankhyaya. And in the Upanisad it is said, nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam eko bahunam vidadhati kaman. God is also a living entity. As we are living entity, He is also living entity. But He is the chief living entity. Nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam. He’s the leader of all living entities. Eko bahunam vidadhati kaman. That one Supreme is supplying all the necessities of these many. So living entities… Just like sparks of the fire. The fire is…, big fire is one, but the sparks, there are millions. Similarly, we are all qualitatively one with God. Just like fire and fire sparks. Qualitatively all of them are fire, but the big fire and small fire is different. Similarly, we are also of the same quality as God, but we are very minute and God is great.
Student (4): When some new animal or person is born, is the soul always a reincarnation of some previous soul, or can it be that a new soul has…
Prabhupada: No. The same soul is changing, just like you are changing your dress. Now you are in some colored dress. You may have some white dress or some red dress. Similarly, vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya [Bg. 2.22]. As soon as your dress is old enough, you cannot use it any more, you have to change the dress. Similarly, the present body, as soon as it is no more workable, you have to accept another body. Now, taking it accepted as dress, that the next body means next dress, so that dress will be offered according to the payment, or according to your work. If you have worked just like a god, then you get the dress of a god, and if you have worked like a dog, then you’ll get the dress of a dog.
Student (4): Then how can the dog then become a higher soul, a higher form after the dog?
Prabhupada: Yes, there is gradual evolution. From dog life, from animal life, again by evolutionary process… That is accepted by anthropo… What is called? Anthropology. That they come to the human being, again there is a chance to get out of this bodily embodiment, and you can get yourself free life in the spiritual world. So if you lose this chance, then you again go to the cycle of birth and death in so many forms of bodies. Therefore we should utilize this enlightened body, the human form of body, the civilized form of life, for our next eternal life. Yad gatva na nivartante tad dhama paramam mama [Bg. 15.6]. We should prepare ourself to go to that form of life which has no more birth, death, or disease or old age. Eternal life. Yes.
Student (11): Does it do atheists any good to chant your verses if they only want to be happy through chanting them?
Prabhupada: Certainly. You may be atheist or theist. The chanting is so powerful, the atheist will be theist. If you are atheist, you can try it. Yes?
Student (12): Is this continual reincarnation only occurring on this earth, or does it occur on other planets?
Prabhupada: Oh, other planets. All throughout the whole material world.
Student (12): Is there interchange between the planets?
Prabhupada: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. You can go in another planet also. Because it is said in the Bhagavad-gita, sarva-ga. Sarva-ga means the soul can be transferred to any place. It may be in America, it may be India, in moon planet, sun planet, or any…, anywhere.
Student (13): Has the universe existed forever, or does soul have a beginning?
Prabhupada: No. This material universe is created and dissolved. Bhutva bhutva praliyate. Just like this body: it is born for some time, it will stay for some time, it will go for some time, then it will become old, and it will vanish. Similarly, the whole universe is like that. It has its creation, it stays for some time, a long duration of time, and it creates so many other things, by-products, and there will be time when everything will be vanquished.
Student (13): And where were the souls before the universe began?
Prabhupada: That is called spiritual kingdom. In the spirit.
Student (13): And is that where they will all end up again when the universe comes to an end?
Prabhupada: Yes. If you are not liberated, then you have to come to this material world and change one body after another. That will be your business. But if you get yourself transferred to the spiritual world, then there is no more coming back to this material world, and you get your eternal, blissful life of knowledge.
Student (13): What happens if the universe ends and there are some souls that have not yet transferred themselves to the other universe?
Prabhupada: The same thing. What happens when your body will be vanquished? Nothing happens. The same thing will go on. There are many bodies, there are many universes. It is coming and going and vanquished. It is the law of nature.
Student (13): Do you mean the universe is likely to go on forever?
Prabhupada: No. It is created. As your body is created, similarly anything material, it has got a life. It has got a period of creation, it stays for some time, then it is finished.
Devotee: Uh, I think questions…
Prabhupada: Yes. Very nice. Thank you. Yes. So you can all chant. Come on. (kirtana) (end)