Engagement Lecture at Boston College, Srila Prabhupada

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Boston, May 10, 1968

Prabhupāda: [kīrtana] [prema-dhvani] [devotees offer obeisances] [20:49] [aside:] You can speak? You can take this.

Brahmānanda: My name is Brahmānanda dāsa Brahmacārī. I’m the president of the New York chapter of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness was established in 1966 by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, who has come to this country from Calcutta, India, to preach the science of God realization which is recommended for this age, this age of Kali, this age of disagreement. This process was started by Lord Caitanya five hundred years ago in India.

[break] You may want to ask the Swāmī about Bhagavad-gītā or transcendental philosophy. Now I present His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami.

[22:20]

Prabhupāda: The primary principles of Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement have been briefly described by my disciple Śrīman Brahmānanda Brahmacārī. It is a very important science of God, understanding what is God. Of course, in every religion this conception of God is there. Simply by understanding “God is great” is not sufficient. We must have knowledge about our relationship with God.

Generally, we take it for granted that God is our order-supplier. We take it that God is great, because He… That is also not the conception of the atheist class of men. Those who believe in God, generally they approach God in distress, when they’re in need of money, and somebody wants to study what is God out of inquisitiveness, and somebody wants to understand the science of God.

There are four classes of men. They are called persons with pious activities on the background. Without pious activities on the background, nobody is interested in the science of God. And those who are unfortunate or impelled by impious activities, they do not believe in God. They never care for God. And this class of men are always known as atheist class of men.

So, so far atheist class of men, it is very difficult for them to understand. But atheist or theist, it doesn’t matter—everyone is conscious. That is a fact. It doesn’t matter whether you believe in God or do not believe in God, but you are conscious. As soon as I pinch in any part of your body, you at once protest; you feel that “Somebody is pinching me. I am feeling pain.” This consciousness is there even in the animal or in man and everyone.

Now what is this consciousness? The Bhagavad-gītā replies what is this consciousness. The Bhagavad-gītā says, avināśi tu tad viddhi yena sarvam idaṁ tatam [Bg. 2.17].

[Know that which pervades the entire body is indestructible. No one is able to destroy the imperishable soul.]

That consciousness which is spread all over your body, that is eternal. How it is eternal? That also you can understand by practical experience. Just like in your childhood, there was consciousness. When you were in the womb of your mother, of course, at a certain stage there was consciousness. In your boyhood, there was consciousness; in your youthhood, there is consciousness; and as you make progress, in your old age, there is also consciousness. Now, your body is changing but consciousness is continuing. That you cannot deny.

Therefore the Bhagavad-gītā says, avināśi tu tad viddhi yena sarvam idaṁ tatam. That consciousness is eternal, and that does not vanquish with the destruction of the body. Na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre [Bg.2.20].

[For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.]

Now as soon as this consciousness is over, the body is called dead body. Now what is this consciousness? This consciousness is the symptom of the soul. That is… Just like in a light, in a fire, there is distribution of heat and light, similarly, the spirit soul being present in your body, the consciousness is spread all over your body. This is the fact.

Now this consciousness is being carried. Just like from your childhood this consciousness is being carried. From childhood body to boyhood body to youthhood body, the consciousness is continuing. Similarly, this consciousness will also carry you in another body, and that transformation or transmigration from one body to another, it is called death.

Death means when this body cannot be carried any more, the consciousness has to be transferred to another, new body. Just like when your garment is too old, it has to be changed; similarly, when this material body is too old to carry on, then this consciousness is transferred to another body and you begin another life. This is the process of nature.

But unfortunately, in the modern education system, there is no departmental education about this consciousness or spirit soul, although it is the most important factor. Without consciousness, without the soul’s being present, this body is useless. But unfortunately we take care very much for this body, but we have no knowledge of the consciousness or the spirit soul. This is called illusion, ignorance or māyā.

We are very much serious about the nonpermanent things, the body, which will not exist, which will be vanquished after certain period of years, but we do not take care of the eternal consciousness, which is changing from one body to another. This is the defect of the modern civilization. And so long we are unaware of the presence of the spirit soul in the body, so long we do not inquire what is the spirit soul, so long our all activities are simply wasting our time.

In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is said that parābhavas tāvad abhodha-jātaḥ [SB 5.5.5].

[As long as one does not inquire about the spiritual values of life, one is defeated and subjected to miseries arising from ignorance. Be it sinful or pious, karma has its resultant actions. If a person is engaged in any kind of karma, his mind is called karmātmaka, colored with fruitive activity. As long as the mind is impure, consciousness is unclear, and as long as one is absorbed in fruitive activity, he has to accept a material body.]

The foolish person or the foolish living entity. Anyone who has accepted this temporary body is understood to be foolish. So every one of us is born foolish, because we identify with this temporary body as myself. Therefore we are foolish. Everyone knows that the body does not exist, and still, everyone identifies himself with this body. This is called ignorance, or illusion.

So the whole world, or the mostly people, are hovering in ignorance, and he does not know that he is spirit soul and he is transmigrating from one body to another. He does not want to die, but the death, cruel death, is enforced upon him. So these problems they do not consider very seriously, and they are thinking very happy on the principles of animal life. The animal life is based on four principal things: eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. And at the present moment the human civilization is very much proud of advancement of knowledge, but they are concerned with these four principles of life, namely eating, sleeping, defending and mating.

So according to Vedic literature, this way of life is no better than animal life. Human life is meant for advanced knowledge. And what is that advanced knowledge? To know oneself, what I am. In every civilized country, in every civilized form of civiliza…, of society, there is some kind of religious principles, either you accept Muhammadanism or Christianism or Jewism or Hinduism or Buddhism. And what is the purpose of the scriptures and religious principles? To understand this consciousness, to understand the spirit soul and how it is fallen into this material conditional life, how they are transforming or transmigrating in different species of life.

There are 8,400,000’s of species of life, and we are wandering in so many species of life. And this is the opportunity, when we have got this human form of life, to understand “What I am.” If we do not understand “What I am,” then I am missing the opportunity. If I simply waste my time in the propensities of animal life—the same thing: eating, sleeping, defending and mating—and if you do not inquire that “I do not wish to die.

Why death is enforced upon me? I do not want to be diseased. Why disease is enforced upon me?” They do not inquire. They simply think, “All right, I am diseased. Let me go to the doctor and have some medicine.” But from innermost part of his heart, he doesn’t want to be diseased or doesn’t want to be dead. Why? Because he is eternal. His real position is eternal life, blissful life, without any death, without any birth, without any disease.

So this is the opportunity. This human form of life is the opportunity to achieve that highest perfection of life. If we do not make progress with that vision of life, then we are simply spoiling our this opportunity of human civilized life. Especially I mean this civilized form of life with developed consciousness, developed education. If you do not take care “What I am? Why I am meeting death? I do not wish to die.

Why calamities are enforced upon me?” Nobody wants to meet calamities. In your country, especially I see in every city, the fire brigade, ambulance car is always wandering in the street. That means who wants that his house should be set in fire? Who wants that he should meet an accident?

But these things are being enforced, but there is no question that “Why these things are enforced? I do not want this. Why this…?” This is self-realization. As soon as we become inquisitive that “I do not want all these miserable condition of life. Why they are enforced…?” They are trying to solve these problems by so-called scientific research or so-called philosophical research, but actually the solution is to reform or to purify your consciousness.

If you purify your consciousness, as by impure consciousness we are transmigrating from… Now this time, you may be very happy that you have got a very nice body, American body, or you are enjoying life. But do you know what is the next life? That you do not know. Either you do not believe in the next life or you do not know. But you should know that life is continuity. This platform is a flash only. Why there are so many species of life if it is not a flash? You are changing. So these questions are there.

So this movement, Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, is the movement for purifying consciousness. If you take to this movement, it is very simple. Just like our president, Brahmānanda, explained to you, that it is simply sixteen words: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. Simply to chant these sixteen words. We are simply requesting you to chant these sixteen words. There is no loss on your part, but there is immense gain. Why don’t you make an experiment?

It is not very difficult. These American boys, they are also chanting. Similarly, although it is written in Sanskrit words symbolically, but it is vibration. It is transcendental vibration. If you take to this vibration, then we become directly in touch with the Supreme Lord. That makes us purified. Just like if you go to the fire you become warm, similarly, if you be directly in touch with the Supreme Spirit, then our purification begins.

So if you take to this movement, if you chant this Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, then this impure consciousness will be purified, and you will know what you are. Just like Brahmānanda said that it is the process of cleansing the mind, cleansing the mind from all dirty things. And as soon as you are cleansed of all dirty things, then your material anxieties are immediately over. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā:

brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā
na śocati na kāṅkṣati
samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu
mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām
[Bg. 18.54]
[And of all yogīs, he who always abides in Me with great faith, worshiping Me in transcendental loving service, is most intimately united with Me in yoga and is the highest of all.]

Brahma-bhūtaḥ means as soon as you come to the platform of your spiritual understanding, then immediately you get free from all material anxieties. Na śocati na kāṅkṣati. You are no more hankering after any profit, neither you are very sorry when there is a great loss. Then you can see everyone on the equal level, and then your relationship or your lost relationship is again established with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Then your real life begins.

So Kṛṣṇa consciousness means to begin our real life, and to get free from this temporary life, changing from one body to another. So this is very important movement. Try to understand this movement. We have got magazine, Back to Godhead. We have got publication, we have got our branches in several places in your country.

We have got here one branch in the 95, Glenville Avenue. So we invite you that you come. You have no expenditure. We simply request you that you come. You try to understand this movement. It is very scientific movement. It is not a bogus, bluffing. You try to understand with all your arguments, reason, logic, and whatever way you want to understand, we are prepared to answer you.

So this is for your benefit. It is not an institution to make some profit. It is just to render service to the whole humanity so that they may understand the scientific knowledge of God and be benefited in this human form of life. That is our problem[?], and we present this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement before you. Now it depends up to you to accept it or not.

Thank you very much. If there is any question you can… Yes.

Student: [indistinct]

Satsvarūpa: [explaining question] How does Kṛṣṇa consciousness relate to advaita philosophy?

Student: Yeah. Total nonbeing.

Prabhupāda: Advaita philosophy means nondifferent from God. Have you studied advaita philosophy? Yes. The basic principle of advaita philosophy is nondifference from God. That is a fact. We are nondifferent from God. Just like the president of your country, he is American; you are also American. So there is no difference so far “American” is concerned. You are nondifferent. But at the same time, you are not the president. Because you are American it does not mean that you are on the equal level with the president. Is it not a fact?

Similarly, we are qualitatively one with God. Qualitatively means that whatever you have got as spirit soul, the same thing is also in God. There is no difference in quality. Just like you take a drop of water from the vast Atlantic sea and you chemically analyze the ingredients, the composition of the drop of water is equal to the composition of the vast Atlantic water.

Drop of water is equal to the vast mass of water in the Atlantic Ocean. Similarly, you are a spark of the Supreme Spirit Soul. You have got all the chemical qualities or composition as God has. But God is great; you are minute. He is infinite; you are infinitesimal. Qualitatively one, but quantitatively different.

So those who are simply accepting the feature of being qualitatively one, they are called Advaitavādi. They are mistaking that quantitatively they cannot be equal. If quantitatively the living entity is equal to God, then why he is fallen in this conditional life of material existence? That means being his constitutional position very infinitesimal, he is prone to be caught up by the influence of māyā. And if you say that you are also the Supreme, then how you are caught by the māyā? Then māyā becomes great; God is not great. These things are to be considered.

So our philosophy, the Vedānta philosophy, acintya-bhedābheda: we support the philosophy of simultaneously being one and different from God. Simultaneously. We are qualitatively one with God, but quantitatively we are different. That is our philosophy. That is Vaiṣṇava philosophy. So advaitavāda and dvaitavāda, they are facts. Dvaitavāda means different, and advaitavāda means nondifferent. So we are both: nondifferent in quality, different in quantity. That is perfect philosophy.

Is that clear to you?

Student: Another question. [indistinct]

Prabhupāda: Well, water is being poured and water is being taken out. That is a fact. From the sea water, water is evaporated, and the cloud…, and the cloud again falls down in water. So that does not mean water is fixed up. Water is not fixed up. That is eternally going on. [indistinct Sanskrit]

Water is taken out from the sea, and again it is poured out. So you cannot stop this process. You do not think that because once you have mixed with the sea water, then there is no chance of coming out again. You have to come out. But if you enter within the water and be one of the living entities in the water, then you haven’t got to come back.

So our philosophy is not to mix with the water. We go deep into the water and become one of the aquatics in the water. Therefore we haven’t got to come back again. And if you remain water, then you have to come back. Even you think that “I am mixed with water in the vast sea,” that is your false identity. You have to come out.

Therefore in the Bhāgavata says that,

ye ‘nye ‘ravindākṣa vimukta-māninas
tvayy asta-bhāvad aviśuddha-buddhayaḥ
āruhya kṛcchreṇa paraṁ padaṁ tataḥ
patanty adho ‘nādṛta-yuṣmad-aṅghrayaḥ
[SB 10.2.32]
[[Someone may say that aside from devotees, who always seek shelter at the Lord’s lotus feet, there are those who are not devotees but who have accepted different processes for attaining salvation. What happens to them? In answer to this question, Lord Brahmā and the other demigods said:] O lotus-eyed Lord, although nondevotees who accept severe austerities and penances to achieve the highest position may think themselves liberated, their intelligence is impure. They fall down from their position of imagined superiority because they have no regard for Your lotus feet.]

This is a very nice verse. It is said that those persons are thinking that they have become liberated by Brahman realization, their thoughts are not yet purified. Because after severe austerities they may come to the brink of the water, but being given shelter by the water, he comes back again.

So if you don’t want to come back again, then you have to enter deep into the water and remain as one of the living creatures in the water. That is the philosophy of Vaiṣṇava philosophy, that we want to enter into the spiritual kingdom and we want to live in our spiritual identity, not superficially simply we mix with water and again evaporate, again come back.

So advaita philosophy, the example which you have given, they generally give this example. But any sane man can understand that by mixing with superficially with the water there is no solution. There is chance of coming out again, being evaporated. If you take that example, you have to accept this also. How you can say that you are not coming back? It is a fact. So if you don’t want to come back again, you go deep into the water and live as one of the living entities under the shelter of the water. They have no problem. They do not come back.

The big animal, or big aquatics, they peacefully live within the water. They never come into the river, because in the river there is no place to accommodate them. There are so big, gigantic aquatics. So if you want to live perpetually in the water, then you have to keep your identity as one of the aquatics in the water. Then you’ll be perfect. Otherwise you’ll be baffled. That’s all. Is that…, your answer is satisfactory? Yes. Any other question?

Your question is very intelligent. Unfortunately, people are not intelligent enough even to put questions and to answer this great science. And we are very much proud of our advanced education. They do not know what he is. Simply coming, accepting a body and living for some time, and just dying like cats and dogs. That’s all. They are most abominable condition of human civilization at the present moment that they do not take care about the real identity of his self. He’s simply mistakenly identifying himself with this body, which he’s not.

Yasyātma-buddhiḥ kuṇape tri-dhātuke [SB 10.84.13].

[One who identifies his self as the inert body composed of mucus, bile and air, who assumes his wife and family are permanently his own, who thinks an earthen image or the land of his birth is worshipable, or who sees a place of pilgrimage as merely the water there, but who never identifies himself with, feels kinship with, worships or even visits those who are wise in spiritual truth—such a person is no better than a cow or an ass.]

The Bhāgavata says one who identifies this body with his self, and one who thinks that the bodily relationship is the protector or his kinsmen, and the body produced in certain part of the land is accepted as worshipable—there are so many description—such man is no better than an ass or cow. Sa eva go-kharaḥ [SB 10.84.13]. Go means cow, and khara means ass. So these are the description in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. This is a challenge.

But people are so much engrossed in ignorance that they don’t care: “All right. Let us go on like this.” And if I say that “You are God. You can do whatever nonsense you like, you do,” then you’ll be very pleased. You’ll be very pleased. And people will be very much eager to hear me, you see? But we cannot say such thing, bluffing thing.

Any other questions? Let us have kīrtana. Or at least chant with us Hare Kṛṣṇa for some time.

Brahmānanda: Simply chant the mantra, then I repeat: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. And simply fix… [break]

Prabhupāda: Chant.

[54:58] [kīrtana] [prema dhvani] Thank you very much. [devotees offer obeisances] [break] So… You may…, you make one dozen pictures like this.

Jadurāṇī: What? One dozen?

Prabhupāda: Pictures. You make like that.

Yes. [indistinct] [break] [end]

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