The King of Education
We see so many educational institutions in this world, so many universities, colleges and schools. Every variety of education is available. If we analyse all these educational institutions we find they are all only imparting knowledge concerned with the material body. It’s all knowledge meant for fulfilling the animal instincts of the body.
We have four basic animal instincts; eating, sleeping, mating and defending. We have these instincts in the human form of life and they are common with the animals. All the universities, all the colleges, all our educational institutions are simply imparting knowledge meant to help us engage in these animal propensities in a more advanced way, in a more “civilized” way. But in reality there is no difference. If we eat in a very beautiful building from very beautiful silver plates with a very nice tablecloth, and we have beautiful waiters serving the food, everything is very nice. This is what we have been able to do as a result of this education — we have been able to provide a very nice atmosphere for eating. But the actual eating process is the same. If I eat the food in this beautiful atmosphere and a dog on the street eats the same food then the taste the dog is enjoying and the taste I am enjoying is the same.
Even though the dog is eating off the street, he has no plate at all, and I am eating off a silver plate, the taste I am experiencing is the same as the taste the dog is experiencing. No matter what the plate is the food tastes the same. The dog is eating off the street, someone is eating from a paper plate, someone is eating off a plastic plate, someone is eating off a golden plate, but the taste doesn’t change. It doesn’t matter what facilities we have around the sense-gratifying process, the actual sense pleasure is the same. In reality the dog is tasting exactly the same thing as a very wealthy man living in his very big house with many servants.
Science and technology have not made sex or food more enjoyable
If you look carefully at all our material advancements you will find them all similar to the above example. We haven’t changed the basic principle of animal sense gratification. The same thing is there in sex life. The dog is having sex on the street and we have made a big arrangement for sex but the actual sense pleasure is the same. The dog is enjoying the same pleasure as we are enjoying, even though we have a beautiful bedroom. The actual substance, sex life, is the same. Everything is the same, we haven’t changed the substance.
We consider society has advanced because we have made a more elaborate arrangement for sense gratification, but this is not real progress in life. The real purpose of life is not to simply improve on the animal activities. The real purpose of life is to understand who I am, to understand what is my position. This is the real education. It is described at the beginning of the Vedanta-sutra that one’s life is meant for enquiring into the meaning of Brahman. Brahman means spirit.
We are in this material world and we are identifying with this material body. Our body is made of the material elements: earth, water, fire, air and either. We can very easily perceive this body so we identify with it, we think, “I am this Australian man,” or “I am a beautiful women,” I identify with whatever position my body is in. This is the beginning of our bewilderment. By identifying with the body we automatically identify with a particular family, we identify with a particular group of people, we identify with a particular country. From this single identification with the body our whole illusion grows and grows and grows. It is called aham mamadi. This illusion of bodily identification is what is keeping us in the material world and any education we can find on this planet at the moment is reinforcing the bodily concept of life.
Todays universities and colleges are slaughterhouses
The students going to todays universities and colleges are actually going to slaughterhouses because the real purpose of life is to understand the soul and to understand the relationship of the soul with the supreme soul, Krishna. But our universities and colleges are not speaking on this, they are simply imparting some technical knowledge and this technical knowledge is not even very useful. Technical knowledge is for the sudra, for the lowest class of men. A sudra can learn this technical knowledge, it is not difficult. Any sort of technical knowledge, even engineering or computer science, or something we consider to be very great, is not actually a very great thing, it can be learnt by a sudra, a less intelligent person.
The real purpose of life and the real education as described in this verse is to understand the nature of the soul and to understand the relationship of the soul with the supreme soul, Krishna.
Krishna consciousness is the king of education
Raja-vidya, vidya means education, raja means king so raja-vidya means king of education. So this king of education is Krishna consciousness. This verse is the beginning of the ninth chapter of Bhagavad-gita. In this ninth chapter the process of devotional service is described. The king of knowledge or the highest knowledge is that we are eternally servants of Krishna and our business is to engage in the service of Krishna. This is actually quite high knowledge. People generally can’t even conceive of God as a person, it’s very difficult. We understand that I am a person and we can see all the problems I’m having so it’s difficult for us to conceive of God as also being a person. Because we think of a person as being like us. But God, Krishna, is not like us, He’s the Supreme Person, and His nature is different, His nature is sat cit ananda vigraha, He’s eternally youthful, He’s full of knowledge and He’s full of pleasure. It is described: om ananda-mayo’bhyasat, “By nature the Supreme Lord is blissful.” So this nature of God as a person is different from our nature here in the material world.
Our nature is actually the same as Krishna’s but because we have come to this material world we have been covered by this material body made of earth, water, fire, air and either. We are also covered by a more subtle covering, the mind, the intelligence and the false ego. Together these are called the subtle body. These two coverings are like the shirt and coat of the soul. The shirt and coat cover the body, similarly we are also covered by the gross elements and the subtle elements and we have forgotten our original spiritual nature, because we are identifying with this body. Underneath this covering we have the same nature as Krishna, we are also sat, cit, ananda, we’re eternally youthful, full of knowledge and full of pleasure and we also have an eternal blissful spiritual form.
We have come to this material world because we have independence. Everyone in the creation of the Supreme Lord is an individual. I am an individual, you are an individual, and Krishna is an individual, God is an individual, we are all individual persons. The difference is:
nityo nityanam cetanas cetananam
eko bahunam yo vidadhati kaman
We are all nitya, but Krishna is the supreme singular nitya and we, the living entities, are the plural nityanam. So there is one Krishna who is the supreme and who is supplying all the necessities for unlimited nityas or subordinate living entities. So we are the subordinate living entities. We are also the same quality as Krishna. There is a nice analogy, if you take some gold you can make so many different ornaments from the gold. Although they are manifest in different forms they are all gold, they are all of the same quality as the gold. So Krishna is like the gold mine and we are like some small ornament made from the gold. The same quality is there.
The nature of the spiritual world
Krishna has certain qualities and we also have those qualities, but the nature of Krishna is that He possesses these qualities in unfathomable depth, in great quantity. He is an ocean of all these qualities, whereas we have the same qualities but a tiny drop, a small amount only. So we are samples of Krishna, small particles of Krishna. We are independent persons so we have our own desires. We can serve Krishna if we want to or we can serve ourselves if we want to, but in the spiritual world it is not possible to do anything except serve Krishna because that is the nature of the spiritual world. The nature of the spiritual world is that everybody there is engaged in the service of Krishna. We might think it’s quite boring, that everyone’s doing the same thing, but it’s not at all like that. We see in this material world so many varieties of activities. This material world is a perverted reflection of the spiritual world so all the varieties of activities we see going on here are also going on in the spiritual world.
There are unlimited devotees of Krishna in the spiritual world and they all have individual personalities and individual tastes and individual desires. They are in a relationship with Krishna according to their particular taste, according to their particular desire. It’s not that the spiritual world is some sort of place full of robots all serving Krishna. It’s not like that. The spiritual world is a place of blissful enjoyment and everybody’s there, it’s not that we just have a relationship with Krishna when we are in the spiritual world but all the devotees are there as well. So we have many friendships in the spiritual world with the different devotees who are there and our friendships are centred around serving Krishna. So the real difference between the spiritual world and this material world is in the spiritual world Krishna is the centre and everybody is working to please Krishna, but they are individuals. Everything we see here is there also. My individual feelings, everything is there. I can become angry in the spiritual world, I can become happy in the spiritual world, everything is still there, all the feelings I have here are still there in the spiritual world, but the difference is the material body is not there. We have a body in the spiritual world, but the body is spiritual, it’s an eternal body full of pleasure and full of knowledge.
Krishna cannot be understood by sense perception
The reason many people find it difficult to understand the personal nature of God is they can’t conceive of anything beyond their experience. This is quite natural. We have a certain framework within which our mind is working, we can have certain experiences through our senses and we frame all our other experiences within the boundaries of our sense perception. We can’t conceive of anything beyond the things we have experienced. It’s not possible, we can’t understand. We try to put everything within the boundaries of our experience. When things are described which are beyond our experience it’s very difficult to understand them. We are hearing explanations of the spiritual world and we are hearing explanations of the spiritual body but we can’t help trying to frame them within our limited experience. This is a big danger, if we do it we will misunderstand Krishna’s pastimes, we will misunderstand devotional service and we will consider them activities performed within the material energy.
There is a class of philosophers called Mayavadis who think Krishna accepts a material body when He comes to the material world. They think all activities are material so they think devotees who are engaged in serving Krishna are engaged in material activities, they think the devotees are in maya. They think the ultimate state of liberation is a state of cessation of activities. But this is not a fact. The soul is active eternally. We see the principle of life in this body. The principle of life in this body is the soul. It is actually the soul which is motivating the body. The body by itself can’t do anything. We can see it practically, as soon as the soul leaves the body, as soon as there is death, then the body is lying on the ground. The body is there, all the chemicals are there, all the elements are there, everything is there, but the soul is gone. It’s simply a lump of flesh and blood and stool lying on the ground, it can’t do anything, because the activity, the motivating principle, the life-force is the soul. When the soul leaves the body that activity, that motivating principle, that individuality, that life goes with the soul. So how can the soul be inactive at any point? The soul is eternally active and we can’t stop activity, so after the soul has left this body it has to take on another body, either in the material world or in the spiritual world, and the activity continues.
So real education is to come to the point of understanding the relationship between the living entity, myself, and the supreme person, Krishna. That is one level, this is not the most confidential knowledge. The most confidential level is to actually understand what it is that goes on between the devotee and Krishna. What is the service, what is the activity that the devotee engages in with Krishna. This is the most confidential knowledge, to understand the process of devotional service, to understand how the devotees engage in the service of Krishna. After understanding this we should also do it, we should take it seriously and engage ourselves in the service of Krishna. This is the ultimate goal of life.
Krishna consciousness is very simple — but people like complicated things…
Krishna consciousness is a very simple process but because people like to understand something very complicated sometimes they can’t grasp the simple nature of Krishna consciousness. But it’s very simple. The idea is we’re here in the material world and are engaged serving ourselves or our family or our country or our community. We have to serve somebody. The process of devotional service or Krishna consciousness is simply to change that service and instead of serving myself I serve Krishna. It’s very simple, that’s it, that’s devotional service, that’s the most confidential knowledge. All I have to do is serve Krishna, I don’t really have to change my activities because the activities I am doing now I can just do for Krishna. I’m cooking. I have to cook. Everybody has to cook. There’s no alternative — we have to eat something — so we have to go to the supermarket and buy some food and we have to cook it. Everyone is doing this. I can cook for myself but I can also do that same cooking for Krishna. Of course if I am cooking for Krishna there are some special considerations, I can only offer Krishna the food He likes to eat; grains, vegetables, milk products and fruit, I have to be very clean and I have to think in my mind that I am going to make an offering for Krishna, I’m going to cook some very nice food and offer that food to Krishna. This cooking is the same activity as cooking for myself, you can’t see any difference. If you go to one house and see a devotee cooking and you go to another house and see another person cooking they are doing the same thing, the activity is not different but the consciousness of the devotee is different. The devotee is doing it for Krishna, he’s thinking how Krishna will enjoy this meal and how it will be very nice for Krishna to taste this meal. Then he is happy to eat the remnants of the food tasted by Krishna. In this way the devotees spiritualise all the activities of their lives.
The ultimate goal of life or the main purpose in life is to come to the point when we can always remember Krishna and never forget Krishna. This is the goal of the devotee. He wants to structure his life in such a way that at every point he is reminded of Krishna, in this way he will always be in ecstasy, always in transcendental bliss.
The position of such a devotee who always remembers Krishna and never forgets Krishna is that his body becomes spiritual, he’s not in this material world any more. Although his body appears to be in the material world he’s not of the material world, his material body dissolves and his body becomes spiritual. In India generally people’s bodies are cremated after death or they are put into a river but the spiritual master is put into samadhi, it means he is put into a tomb, because the body of the spiritual master is spiritual, his material body has been consumed by the fire of devotional service.
Liberation is easy — but to understand Krishna is a person is special
We have to try and grasp this simple point, that I should use all of my energy for Krishna. I should do everything for Krishna. If we can actually comprehend this point and believe it and live our life in that way then success in spiritual life will be very rapid for us, very easy. It sounds so simple and it is so simple but generally people can’t take to it, Krishna says:
kascid yatati siddhaye
yatatam api siddhanam
kascin mam vetti tattvatah
Krishna says that out of many thousands of men one may even endeavour to come to spiritual life and out of many such people who are practising spiritual life a few might become liberated and out of thousands of such liberated persons hardly one knows Krishna in truth. So comparatively speaking it’s not so difficult to become liberated, even though out of thousands of men only a few become liberated, but comparatively speaking it’s easy to become liberated.
Liberated means to come to the point of realising “I am not this body,” to come to the understanding that “I am Brahman, I am spirit,” this is liberation. But to come to the point of understanding God is a person, His name is Krishna, He is engaged in His eternal pastimes with the residents of Vrndavana and that I can also become engaged in those pastimes serving Krishna and that will be the topmost perfection for me. To come to this point is difficult. Of course it is not difficult — we can just do it immediately. You can hear this class and just accept it. Just accept that Krishna is a person in the same way I am a person. Krishna is the supreme person, He is the possessor of all knowledge, all strength, all beauty, all fame and all renunciation. All these are full in Krishna. If I accept this and understand that now I should serve Krishna, live my life in that mood, serving Krishna, then I will immediately be transferred to the liberated platform of ecstasy, I will no longer be implicated in this material world whatsoever. The pains and pleasures of the material world will not touch me any more because I will simply be engaged in the loving service of Krishna.
It’s a very simple thing, but the reality is not so many people are doing it because we are attached to the material concept of life. We are attached to this material body, we are attached to our sense gratification. So Krishna consciousness can only really be understood by someone who is extremely fortunate. This great fortune comes through the association of devotees, it’s not possible in any other way because this confidential knowledge which is described here in the Bhagavad-gita is not perceivable, is not obtainable through our sense perception. We can speculate, we can think with our mind and endeavour with our senses to try and understand the world around us, to try to understand the purpose of life, but devotional service, this Krishna consciousness is beyond the range of our sense perception, so we can never come to the point of devotional service without the mercy of a pure devotee. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu says: (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya-lila 19.151)
brahmanda bramite kona bhagyavan jiva
guru-krsna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija
“According to their karma, all living entities are wandering throughout the entire universe. Some of them are being elevated to the upper planetary systems, and some are going down into the lower planetary systems. Out of many millions of wandering living entities, one who is very fortunate gets an opportunity to associate with a bona fide spiritual master by the grace of Krishna. By the mercy of both Krishna and the spiritual master, one such person receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service.”
So we are wandering through so many bodies, sometimes we take this human form of body, sometimes we take a demigods body in the heavenly planets, sometimes we are sent down to the hellish planets to suffer, and sometimes we are even born into the species of plants and animals. This process of the transmigration of the soul has been going on since practically time immemorial, no one can trace out the beginning of it. We are called nitya baddha entities, this means eternally conditioned, so practically speaking we are stuck here in the material world travelling from one body to another body, one form of life to another form of life, one planet to another planet, and simply undergoing the same activities: birth, old age disease and death.
The only way out is by the mercy of a pure devoteeWe are going through this repetition of birth and death time and time again, nitya baddha means eternally, so it’s only if we are extremely fortunate to get the chance of associating with a pure devotee and by the mercy of that pure devotee we can get the seed of devotional service, bhakti-lata-bija, it means the seed of the creeper or the plant of devotional service. This analogy is very nice, devotional service or Krishna consciousness is likened to a plant, and the process of Krishna consciousness or Bhakti-yoga is likened to the watering of the plant.
We have to find someone who has the seed of this devotional service [he can’t have the seed unless he has the plant fully grown within his heart as only then will it produce flowers, fruit and seeds]. We have to receive the seed of devotional service from him — that is called initiation. Under the expert direction of such a pure devotee we should then engage in the process of watering the seed of the plant of devotional service he has planted within our hearts. This watering process consists of nine items but the most important two items are hearing and chanting.
The beginning is to hear from a pure devotee
The beginning of every activity in life is to hear. Without hearing about something we can’t do it. So in the same way with Krishna consciousness we have to hear, and we have to hear from a pure devotee. If we hear from someone who is a pure devotee the effect will be very quickly experienced. When we hear from a pure devotee he’ll tell us that we should chant Hare Krishna, that we should serve Krishna in this way, so we should follow his instructions. The next process is chanting. If we hear something then we can repeat that same thing to someone else, even though we may not be very highly advanced or very intelligent, we can still pass on the message. If we hear the message from a pure devotee that, “Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead,” then even if we haven’t completely realized it ourselves, we can tell our friends, “Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” If we hear from our spiritual master that we should chant Hare Krishna, even if we haven’t come to the point of fully relishing all the mellows of chanting Hare Krishna, we can chant Hare Krishna ourselves and tell our friends, “You should chant Hare Krishna.” This is the way sravanam kirtanam visnoh, hearing and chanting about Krishna. This process is very powerful and I humbly beg everyone to take it seriously.
This verse is very instructive, “This knowledge is the king of education, the most secret of all secrets. It is the purest knowledge, and because it gives direct perception of the self by realisation, it is the perfection of religion. It is everlasting and it is joyfully performed.” We should know all these things, we should know that real education means to find these things, the perfection of religion which is everlasting and which is joyfully performed, and that thing which gives the direct perception of the self by realization. This is real education.
An organization is needed to impart this education to the people of the world
We have to create an organization or create an institution which is capable of imparting this education to people in general. There is currently no such organization in the whole world, every organization is simply imparting mundane information and even so-called spiritual organizations have become degraded and are not imparting spiritual knowledge at all, they have simply become places for politics. There is no institution which is imparting this knowledge of the real purpose of life which is to engage in devotional service to Krishna and do everything for the pleasure of Krishna… Thank you very much, Hare Krishna.
For more information please read Raja-Vidya — The King of Knowledge by Srila Prabhupada.