Friday, August 28, 2009

What Is The Matter With The World?


an essay by A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder-acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

On the 16th of February 1957 a meeting was held at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan to discuss the above subject matter. Distinguished gentlemen from different categories spoke on the subject, but practically nobody could give us a definite direction as to what actually the matter was that was troubling the whole situation.

This feeling of pinching in the existence of our life is a good sign for progress. It is an urge for enquiry what is the wrong in the world that gives us trouble? This trouble is not a new thing but it is a matter of permanent settlement in all the days of life, but it may be felt at different times in different colour. The troubles are in varieties in relation with our mind and body, in relation with our dealings with other living beings and in relation with natural phenomenons.

The present pinching trouble of our political leaders in the matter of Kashmir affairs is a trouble in relation with our other friendly nations. Kashmir is a part of India, not only at present but it is so from a time immemorial but the Kashmir problem has arisen as a matter of course because the world is so created that must there exist some sort of trouble, may be it is in relation with the body or other living beings or the natural phenomenon.

These troubles are like the forest fire. Fire takes place in the dense forest without any attempt by any living being. Nobody in the forest do want such fire, but it takes place without any demand. When there is fire, the living beings in the forest are put into trouble and sometimes it so happens that most of the forest creatures die in that havoc. There is no fire brigade in the forest or on the top of a forest mountain and there is no hope for of extinguishing the fire by any human attempt. It takes by the natural laws, and it is extinguished by natural laws also, that is, when there is torrent of rains in the forest. That is the natural law and these laws are so rigid and stern that no human brain, however it may be powerful, can solve these problems of natural laws.

An intelligent person, who has actually developed some finer qualities of human consciousness, can understand that every law is made by an intelligent brain and behind every law there is the lawmaker who makes the law. So for all these natural laws, there is the Supreme Lawmaker, who is the Absolute Personality of Godhead. In the Bhagavad-gétä we have, therefore, information that natural laws are so stringent that they cannot be overcome by anybody. But whoever surrenders unto the Supreme Lord can overcome them.

The king is the lawmaker and if he likes he can forgive a law-breaker by special prerogative of the king—by the 'king's mercy,' but the king can do no wrong even if he sometimes breaks the law. That is, an experience of a common man in the phenomenal world and the same thing is applicable in the matter of Supreme laws also.

The natural laws are like police actions by the agents of Godhead. Men, who are too much captivated by the glamour of material beauty and tries to enjoy it falsely without acknowledgement of its Creator, are called demons. The stringent natural laws are meant for the criminals but not for the law-abiders. Therefore, the perfect answer to the question "What is the matter with the world?" is that men have become demons by breaking laws of God, and therefore they are being punished by the police action of material nature. That is the verdict of all scriptures and that is our day-to-day life's experience.

In the Bhagavad-gitä a vivid description of the law-breaker demoniac men are given in the 16th chapter and such men are punished by the laws of God—are also maintained.
Human civilizations are conducted in two ways. One type of civilization can make every human being as much qualified as God is. And the other type of civilization can make every man no less than a jungle beast and thereby making this world unfit for human habitation.

A human being is called a rational animal. When rationality is destroyed, the human being is left an ordinary animal. The difference between a human being and an animal is based on the strength of human being's being above the animal propensities. The animal part of a human being necessarily require food to eat, shelter to live in, protection from fear and gratification of senses. These four principles of life are common both to the man and the animals. But there is another thing which is specially meant for the human being. This is God-consciousness. This God-consciousness is conspicuous by absence in the animal life, while in the human life this God-consciousness is in dormant stage even in the society of the aborigines.

This God-consciousness develops in different grades of human civilization in terms of particular place, time and persons. This God-consciousness is called Religion or Culture of Life without which no civilization can stand.

The present day civilization is trying to avoid this God-consciousness of human life by artificial method of material science and forcible atheism. It is learnt from reliable sources that in an atheistic state, the village people were called in a meeting and were asked to pray in the church for daily bread. The innocent villagers prayed in the church for daily bread, and when the prayer was over the state officers asked them whether breads were supplied. The village men replied that there was no bread. The atheist politicians asked them again to pray for bread from them (the statesmen) and bread was at once supplied. And by this method the innocent villagers were made victims of propaganda by atheistic politicians with the result that all the villagers became gradually faithless in God, because wrongly they accepted that the bread was supplied by the politicians and not by God.

The poor victims of such propaganda did not understand that the breads supplied by the politicians were not made by the father of the politicians but actually they were sent by God. No politician can manufacture bread without wheat. No wheat is produced without sun rays or rains from the sky. No rains are possible without obedience to God. No atheist can live and decry God without eating bread. And therefore whoever eats bread without acknowledging in gratitude of his indebtedness to God is certainly a demon and for such demons the stringent natural laws are meant for punishment. A time is nearing when there will be no wheat paddy in the field and no politician will be able to make a quick supply of bread. The food problem is already acute.

The atheistic civilization is to be troubled more and more with the progress of materialism. We have such foretellings in the pages of Srimad-Bhägavatam. The more the people are turning to the atheistic, the more things of disturbing elements do appear before us. And that is the thing which matters at present. This is a wrong type of civilization.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Nectar Chronicles: Part 6

Inspired by the "Nectar of Devotion" lecture series given by His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada from October 20-November 13, 1972 at the Radha-Damodara Temple in Vrndavana, India

All of these lectures are available for download at ISKCON Desire Tree.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu says that bhakti is like an ocean of nectar, and just by tasting one drop, we can understand the essential qualities of the ocean.

Speaking this evening to his tender young disciples, Prabhupada adds to this:

"Just like by tasting one drop of sea water we can understand the taste of the whole ocean, similarly Caitanya Mahäprabhu described a small portion of Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu. Bhakti rasa amåta. Bhakti, devotional service, there is a rasa, taste, and the taste is amåta, eternal."

Thus, our vision must become eternal, and what we desire, what we strive to achieve and to be, must also become eternal. The bhakti-marg is the only surefire, bonafide method to achieve this permanent grace. It is a path laid out to us by the acaryas and which is not bound by any material limitations we may put on it.

We must become ahaituki-the servants of Krsna that do not serve Him out of any material cause or motive, but out of a deep, dynamic, realized spiritual love. Prabhupada adds:

"This is real bhakti. Therefore this bhakti word is applicable only in relationship with God, or Kåñëa. In the material world, there cannot be any use of the word bhakti. Because here the so-called devotional service is motivated. So this bhakti word is monopolized by Kåñëa, and nobody else"

It is a monopoly that cannot be torn apart by cunning and keen anti-trust lawyers. It is a monopoly of sweetness on the very core of our hearts that is the very essence of our being and the very essence of reality. It is the most favorable thing we can possess and express, and this is the key: to serve Krsna favorably as He desires.

Like Arjuna, we face a great battle, an internal battle against our own demons, against our own strict bondage in pride, envy, lust, illusion, and comfort. Like Arjuna, we may come up with so many so-called logical, reasonable, and compassionate reasons not to engage in our battle, which appear favorable to us.

But like Arjuna, using the best expression of our minute free will, we must listen to the words of Krsna, to the words of his teachers, seeing and hearing of their examples, of His glories, in order to understand that what is favorable for us.

Prabhupada says:

"So we have to see what is favorable to Krsna, not sense gratification, not favorable to me. Or to my country, or to my society. No self-interest. Only Krsna's interest. That is bhakti."

In the Adi-Lila of the Caitanya-Caritamrta, Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami writes:

The desire to gratify one's own senses is kāma [lust], but the desire to please the senses of Lord Kṛṣṇa is prema [love].

In the purport, Prabhupada writes:

All the regulative principles in the Vedas pertaining to desires for popularity, fatherhood, wealth and so on are different phases of sense gratification. Acts of sense gratification may be performed under the cover of public welfare, nationalism, religion, altruism, ethical codes, Biblical codes, health directives, fruitive action, bashfulness, tolerance, personal comfort, liberation from material bondage, progress, family affection or fear of social ostracism or legal punishment, but all these categories are different subdivisions of one substance — sense gratification. All such good acts are performed basically for one's own sense gratification, for no one can sacrifice his personal interest while discharging these much-advertised moral and religious principles. But above all this is a transcendental stage in which one feels himself to be only an eternal servitor of Kṛṣṇa, the absolute Personality of Godhead. All acts performed in this sense of servitude are called pure love of God because they are performed for the absolute sense gratification of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. However, any act performed for the purpose of enjoying its fruits or results is an act of sense gratification. Such actions are visible sometimes in gross and sometimes in subtle forms.

This is our battleground: the fertile space of the material mind, imagination, and intelligence in which all these gross and subtle desires for sense gratification can grow. If we allow them to grow, then our own capacity to act in such a way that is favorable to and for Krsna will be clouded over.

This path of full, loving surrender to Krsna, as prescribed in the Bhagavad-Gita, is the only way to remove these weeds from our heart and from our being. Chanting the Holy Name, avoiding offenses, following the rules and regs, and most importantly, taking shelter of our spiritual master and spiritual authorities, if done with sincerity and determination, guarantees our success.

In the Nectar of Devotion, Prabhupada writes:

"One has to learn Kåñëa consciousness or pure devotional service from the authorities by spontaneous loving service."

And he adds in tonight's lecture:

"This service should be spontaneous, not forced. Just like a father loves his son spontaneously. A young man likes to love a young girl spontaneously. So bhakti should be like that. As soon as one hears the name of Krsna, immediately, spontaneously, he should be ready to serve Him. That is pure devotion. Not that forced. In the beginning, we have to force, that "You rise early in the morning. There is mangala ärätrika. You have to perform it." But when this function will be done spontaneously, "Oh, this is the time to offer mangala ärätrika to my Lord..." That is wanted."

Fake it until you make it...become conscious before you come Krsna Conscious. We have to force ourselves in the beginning because we are in such an unnatural state of mind, so far from and so much covered from our original state. Our meditation on chanting the Holy Name must be to train our unwieldy mind to always think of Krsna. We must fill our mind, our intelligence, and our very being with the Holy Name.

And in our sincere efforts to serve His devotees, our fellow spiritual warriors in this great battle of our times, we will learn humility, we will face the necessary purification, and we will taste the bliss of authentic loving exchanges and relationships, a taste that is truly beyond this world.

Further from the Nectar of Devotion:

"This devotional service is a sort of civilization. It is not simply inaction for people who like to be inactive or devote their time to silent meditation. There are many different methods for people who want this, but civilization of Krsna consciousness is different. The particular word used by Srila Rüpa Gosvämi is this connection is anusilana, or cultivation by following the predecessor teachers, or äcäryas. As soon as we say 'cultivation,' we must refer to activity. Without activity, consciousness alone cannot help us.' "

Prabhupada adds:

"I have to do this. My Lord will be pleased. So I have to do this." Activity. But if I have no idea what is Lord, what does He want, how He's pleased, if we do not know all these things, naturally there will be no activity."

The method is simple: to know Krsna we must simply hear about Krsna from the authorized source, the book bhagavat and the person bhagavat, then our dormant natural state of attraction to Krsna will arise. Prabhupada concludes with these words:

"So anyone who is working for spreading Krsna consciousness, he has no other motive than to satisfy Krsna. He has no other motive than to satisfy the representative of Krsna.