Our Happiness Is Krishna
Material life means struggling to find happiness, but people don't know where to look.
A lecture given in Los Angeles, on September 28, 1972
by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
ekonavimse vimsatime Vrishnisu prapya janmani
rama-krishnav iti bhuvo bhagavan aharad bharam
"In the nineteenth and twentieth incarnations, the Lord descended as Lord Balarama and Lord Krishna in the family
of Vrishni, or the Yadu dynasty, and by so doing He removed the burden of the world."—Srimad-Bhagavatam
Krishna can appear from anywhere. But He chooses to appear in the dynasty of Vrishni. Balarama appeared first,
and then Krishna appeared, in the family of Vrishni, the Vrishni dynasty. One of Krishna's names is Varshneya
because He appeared in the Vrishni family, just as sandalwood is known as "Malayan sandalwood" because it was
formerly grown in large quantities in Malaysia.
Janma karma me divyam. Krishna's birth, or appearance, and work are not ordinary. Divyam—they are transcendental.
Yo janati tattvatah. If one understands Krishna tattvatah, "in truth," then the result is tyaktva deham punar janma
naiti: after giving up this body one does not take another material body. Krishna says, mam eti: "He comes to Me."
That is the success of life. If you simply try to understand Krishna—His transcendental appearance, disappearance,
activities—then your life is successful.
The purpose of the Krishna consciousness movement is to try to make people understand Krishna. Simply by
understanding Krishna one will become liberated from material bondage. Every one of us is trying to get out of
some kind of bondage. We feel, "I am bound up by certain circumstances, so I must get out." Ending this bondage
is called atyantika-duhkha-nivrtti.
Duhkha-nivrtti means avoiding painful situations. Everyone is trying to avoid painful situations. That's a fact. We
are struggling. I have got some income, say two hundred dollars, but that is not sufficient for me. So I struggle
hard to get five hundred dollars, to avoid the painful situation. When I have five hundred dollars I feel another pain,
so I try for one thousand dollars. In this way I go on increasing, and the painful situation is never mitigated. It will
continue. Otherwise, why are millionaires committing suicide? They have money. But they do not know that no
amount of material comforts will make them happy. That is not possible.
India is advertised as a very poor country. But still the majority of the people in India are happy. People elsewhere
do not know that. Materially, Indians, especially the villagers, haven't got many possessions—may be only one
or two pieces of clothing. But still they follow the Vedic principles, bathe early in the morning, go to their business,
and eat whatever they get. And they are happy. People say, "Primitive." But, after all, you want happiness. Primitive
or advanced—what is that? If in an advanced civilization you commit suicide, why not be primitive?
People do not know what is actual happiness. Therefore the struggle is going on. Na te viduh svartha-gatim hi
vishnum: The rascals do not know that real happiness is Vishnu, God. Our happiness is Krishna. For Krishna we
are working day and night. The karmis, the nondevotees, are also working day and night, but they are not happy.
We are happy. That they do not know. We are also doing the same things they are doing. We are not lazy. We
are not sleeping. Every one of us is busy. Someone is writing, someone is typing, someone is selling books,
someone is preparing prasadam [food offered to Krishna], someone is cleaning, someone is going to sankirtana
[spreading Krishna consciousness]. Not a single moment are we lazy. But because we are working for Krishna,
there is happiness. Here nobody is paid a single farthing. Rather, you bring money. But still you are happy. But
the karmis are getting money, and still they are not happy. Why? This is practical.
We sometimes have to tell someone that he cannot live with us. So he leaves, but he cannot stay away. Unless
there is happiness, why is he sticking to Krishna consciousness? Those who leave and then come back could not
find any happiness outside Krishna consciousness. People may say, "These are foolish people, working under
some idea." But those in Krishna consciousness are happy. They must be happy. But others do not know this. Na
te viduh svartha-gatim hi vishnum. Nondevotees do not know how happiness can be attained.
Krishna Voice, Oct 2009 5
Happiness can be attained when you come to God, because you are part and parcel of God. Take this example:
A little child is crying, and no one can pacify him. But as soon as the child is put on the breast of the mother, he
is at once happy, because the child is part and parcel of the mother and immediately he understands, "Now I have
come to safety, my mother."
Similarly, we are all part and parcel of God, Vishnu. So unless we come to Krishna or Vishnu—Krishna is Vishnu—
there is no happiness. It is not possible. But the rascals do not know this. They are trying to become happy by
so-called scientific advancement.
The Platform of No Distress
The aim of life is to come to the platform of happiness, where there is no distress at all, simply happiness
(anandamayo 'bhyasat). That is our aim.
You see so many pictures of Krishna—Krishna is playing with the cowherd boys, Krishna is dancing with His
girlfriends, Krishna is stealing butter. Krishna is doing so many things, and they are all simply happiness. You won't
find Krishna morose or sitting and crying. Even if He kills some demon He does it very laughingly, as an easy job.
You see? Whether He is killing or dancing, He is happy.
We are giving this information of happiness, the topmost happiness—without any unhappiness—anandamayo
'bhyasat. The Vedanta-sutra says that the nature of the individual soul and the Supersoul is to become happy.
Anandamaya—"happy." Spiritual life means happiness. That happiness can be attained in cooperation with the
We are like sparks of fire. Sometimes the sparks looks very beautiful. But if a spark falls from the fire, the fiery
quality of the spark is at once extinguished. Our material condition is like that. We gave up the company of Krishna,
and we wanted to be happy in this material world; therefore we are suffering.
If you put the spark, the particle of carbon, back into the fire, it will again become fire and red-hot. In the Krishna
consciousness movement we are trying to pick up the sparks that by chance have fallen from the fire and put them
back into the fire. That return to the fire is real happiness.
The Test for God
In today's verse it is said, rama-krishnav iti: God appeared as Rama and Krishna. There must be symptoms of
Rama and Krishna. What is the test? The test is bhagavan aharad bharam: God can remove the burden of the
world. When Krishna and Rama appeared, Balarama killed so many demons to make the world peaceful. From
birth Krishna killed Putana, Aghasura, Bakasura, the Keshi demon, and so many other asuras, or demons. Every
day Krishna and Balarama used to go to the forest, and some asura would come to disturb Them, to kill Them,
and Krishna would finish him. And Krishna's friends would come home and narrate the story to their mothers:
"Mother, Krishna is so wonderful. Such a big demon came, and Krishna killed him at once in this way and that
way." That is Krishna. Not that because one has some so-called meditation one becomes Krishna without any test.
What is the proof that someone is Rama or Krishna? Foolish people do not take the proof. They simply pose a
bogus man as Rama or Krishna.
Balarama and Krishna are Bhagavan. They are actually the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and They proved
it. They are not the "Rama" or "Krishna" dying of cancer. We are not after such a Rama or Krishna. When there
is a real Rama and a real Krishna, why should I go to the imitation Rama or Krishna?
We should be intelligent enough not to be bluffed. Krishna yei bhaje sei bada catura: Without being intelligent,
nobody surrenders to Krishna.
bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate
vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma su-durlabhah
Anyone who has surrendered to Krishna is the most intelligent (jnanavan). Krishna says that one who is fully wise
after many, many births surrenders unto Him.
We Can't Be Cheated
Everyone is trying to put forward a competitor to Krishna. "Oh, why that Krishna? Here is another Krishna—with
a big beard." That kind of "Krishna" is for the foolish man, and those presenting him as Krishna are also foolish.
Lord Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita,
6 Krishna Voice, Oct 2009
catur-vidha bhajante mam janah sukrtino 'rjuna
arto jijnasur artharthi jnani ca bharatarsabha
Four classes of men, if they are pious, come to God: the wise, the distressed, the inquisitive, and those in need
of money. Generally, if an ordinary person is pious he prays to God, "My dear Lord, I am in distress. Kindly save
me." Or if somebody needs money, he also approaches God: "My dear Lord, for want of money I am suffering.
Kindly give me some money." The jnani approaches God for knowledge. He wants to know the constitutional
position of God. And the inquisitive person is inquiring, "What is God?"
These four classes try to understand or approach God. Out of these four, two classes—those in distress and those
in want of money—forget God as soon as they get money or their distress is over. But the inquisitive and the wise
continue to search out God. Out of these two classes, when one understands what is God he is perfect. That
becomes possible after many, many births: bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan. What kind of knowledge does one
get? Vasudevah sarvam iti: "Krishna is everything, Vasudeva." One of Krishna's names is Vasudeva.
Sa mahatma su-durlabhah: that type of great soul—who accepts Krishna as everything—is very rare. Those who
have taken Krishna as everything are the greatest souls, the topmost souls within the world. They cannot be misled
by an imitation Krishna. They are interested in the real Krishna: Vasudeva Krishna, the son of Vasudeva.
Krishna appeared in the Vrishni family, and our business is to understand Krishna. We cannot understand Krishna
fully. He is unlimited. But still, by following in the footsteps of mahajanas, great devotees, we can understand to
some extent what is Krishna.
Our real aim is to love Krishna. The gopis, Krishna's cowherd girlfriends, did not know that Krishna is God. The
cowherd boys did not know. Even His mother, Yashoda, did not know that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of
Godhead. But their love for Krishna was spontaneous. They did not know anything beyond Krishna. If you come
to that stage, that is perfection.
Not that we want to know God. What will we know? What knowledge have we got that we can understand God?
But we can see by God's activities. When Krishna appeared, all His activities were uncommon. He was not a
human being, but He played as a human being. The human being marries, so Krishna married. But His marrying
is wonderful. He married 16,108 wives. That is uncommon. Nobody can marry like that. Muslim nawabs used to
marry many wives. One nawab married 160 wives, but he could not reach all the wives every day or every night.
That was not possible. But Krishna is not like that. Krishna expanded Himself into sixteen thousand forms and
personally accompanied each wife.
So this incarnation of Krishna-Balarama is described in detail in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. Their symptoms, the
father's name, the mother's name, the place, the activities—everything is being described. We cannot be cheated
by a false incarnation of God. That is not possible. Those who want to be cheated are cheated. But we don't want
to be cheated. We want real God. Therefore nobody can cheat us.
Thank you very much.
Krishna Voice, Oct 2009 7
SRILA PRABHUPADA SPEAKS OUT
Blind Surrender to God Will Not Last
Here we continue an exchange that took place in Perth, Australia, on May 9, 1975, between His Divine Grace A.C.
Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and Carol Cameron, then a doctoral candidate in anthropology.
Carol: Your Divine Grace, how would you go about teaching this idea of love [of God]?
Srila Prabhupada: Love means that just as I want to eat something, so if I love somebody then I will see that my
beloved also eats. Also, naturally the lovers present things. For instance, when a boy loves a girl, he presents
something, and she should also give him something. And if I have got some confidential thing in mind, I should
disclose it to the lover, and the lover is also expected not to keep anything secret. She should disclose it. If I love
you just because you are beautiful—for my sense gratification—but I keep everything secret, that is not love. That
is sense gratification. Lust.
So these are the six kinds of reciprocation or exchange between the lover and the beloved. These are the signs
dadati pratigrhnati guhyam akhyati prcchati
bhunkte bhojayate caiva sad-vidham priti-laksanam
Priti means "love," and these are love's symptoms: give
and take, eat and give to eat, disclose your mind and
know the other party's mind. This is love. The more you
increase these six kinds of loving exchange, the more
you increase the love.
Carol: If a man wants to perfect his love, should he
withdraw from the world?
Srila Prabhupada: First of all, we have to understand that
love exists not just within one person—love must
be between two. Then you can expand the
love. But first we should know, love
requires two—the lover and the
beloved. So the transaction begins
between the two; then it expands.
Carol: Do you look at the "two" as,
say, the creator and the person?
Would that be the two that you have
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. The creator
and the created. Do you believe
in the creator?
Carol: An impersonal creator,
Srila Prabhupada: Oh. What kind of
philosophy is that—"impersonal creator"?
Carol: Without any attributes.
Srila Prabhupada: Creator is an attribute.
Being the creator—that is an attribute. If I create
this bell, I know the art of how to create a bell.
Knowing this creative art is my attribute. So
how can you say the creator is without
attributes? This is false philosophy. I know how to create Carol: In an intellectual way?
this bell. That is my artistic sense. That is my attribute. Srila Prabhupada: You can know, also.
So how can you say I am without attributes? As soon
as you say "creator," then that creator has got many Carol: You might know something in your heart but not
attributes. be able to express it.
Carol: How can ignorance be removed? Srila Prabhupada: Why not be able to express it? You
can express it. Whatever is within your heart—if you
Srila Prabhupada: The ignorant people can learn from cannot express it, then you are not perfect. You must
the learned. If you have got this idea that the creator is express what is within your heart very clearly. Not that
impersonal, that means you are not learned; you have I have got something within my heart but I cannot
no knowledge. And this is the simple answer. As soon express it. That means my knowledge is imperfect.
as you say "creator," you can understand He has so
many attributes or qualities. Carol: So often, our understanding moves sort of
separately—through the heart, through feelings and
Suppose I am ringing this bell. Now, if the bell's spring emotion.
is loose, the bell will not sound. So others may not know
what to do, but the person who has created the bell Srila Prabhupada: Emotion is not required for scientific
knows—"Oh, the spring is loose. Now I'll tighten it again." knowledge of God. Emotion is not required. Useless.
That means the creator knows the ins and outs of Knowledge of God must be factual. Emotion is of no
whatever he has created. That is the nature of one who use. Emotion is useful in highly developed stages of
creates something. ecstatic love. But it is not that for preliminary scientific
study of God you require emotion. No.
So just imagine: The one who has created everything
that exists—He is cognizant of everything that exists. Carol: And yet in the bhakti way of doing things, this
How can He be impersonal? What is this philosophy? emotion and love actually are very closely intertwined,
Hmm? Answer. You are a philosopher. aren't they?
Carol: Well, He would incorporate personal attributes, Srila Prabhupada: Yes, but that is a higher stage. Not
not be governed by them. in the beginning. In the beginning, devotion means I
should be devoted to God very rationally. To start with,
Srila Prabhupada: Hmm? She says "He." But "He" has why should I be devoted to God unless He is worthy?
to remain impersonal. [Laughter.] For instance, Krishna says, "You surrender unto Me."
Carol: Yes. [Laughs.] It's true that creation does imply So unless I understand that Krishna is worthy of my
intellect and perhaps emotion. surrendering to Him, why shall I surrender to Krishna?
Srila Prabhupada: Such vague ideas. And yet in this If I had demanded of you, as soon as you arrived here,
nonsensical culture, these vague ideas are passing as that you surrender, would you have liked to do that?
philosophy. "He" contradicts your impersonal idea. You Unless you are fully aware of my abilities, qualities, why
say "He." And still, you insist that "He" is impersonal. should you surrender?
Carol: At the emotional level, it's a very personal ... So before surrendering, one has to study the person to
whom he is going to surrender. Then he surrenders.
Srila Prabhupada: Why should you be emotional? You That is real surrender. But blind surrender will not last.
are a philosopher. You should talk very rationally.
Similarly, blind surrender to God will not last. So since
Carol: Oh. I ... don't philosophize. My sense is that God our first business in this human life is to surrender to
is impersonal but He incorporates personal features. If God, we must know who and what God is. Then you
God is in everything, then the personal attributes must must surrender. And then, when it is based on solid
be part of "Him," "it," or whatever. But God is not just knowledge, your emotion is good. That means you are
limited to being a person. advanced. If you understand that God is giving us
Srila Prabhupada: You have no idea of God. He must everything, emotion based on that understanding is very
be a person. As soon as you say, "He knows everything," good. If, even from the very beginning, one understands
"He creates," and so many other things, then these all and becomes emotional—"Oh, God is so kind, God is
mean He is personal. Repeatedly you say "He." These so great. He is giving us all our necessities, so I must
are all personal. serve Him"—then this emotion is very good.
Carol: This is only our idea of God. But for the ordinary man, this emotion does not come.
Srila Prabhupada: That means you have no clear idea He needs to study who God is, what God is. And later,
of God, only a vague idea. So you have to learn what when he fully understands, "Oh, God is so great," then
God is. that emotion is very nice. That is genuine emotion.
Otherwise, his surrender to God is merely sentimentality.
Carol: You think you can know the nature of God? It will not stay. It will not last. It is temporary.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. You can know, also.
Krishna Voice, Oct 2009 9
THE AKSHAYA PATRA FOUNDATION BAGS
2009 TECH MUSEUM AWARD
The Akshaya Patra midday meal programme is one of 15 innovators from around the world recognized for applying
technology to benefit humanity
The Akshaya Patra Foundation was named to The Tech Awards Laureates 2009, one of 15 global innovators
recognized each year for applying technology to benefit humanity and spark global change. The Tech Awards, a
signature program of The Tech Museum, San Jose, USA, and presented by Applied Materials, Inc., selected
Akshaya Patra from among 650 nominations representing 66 countries.
Established in 2000, The Tech Awards recognizes 15 Laureates in five universal categories: education, equality,
environment, economic development and health. These Laureates have developed new technological solutions
or innovative ways to use existing technologies to significantly improve the lives of people around the world. One
Laureate in each category will receive a $50,000 cash prize during the annual Awards Gala in San Jose, Calif.
on November 19. Akshaya Patra was chosen under the education category.
This year, the Laureates represent the truly global vision of the programme, spanning countries such as Brazil,
Bangladesh, Botswana and the United States. Their work impacts people in many more countries worldwide.
Akshaya Patra, the world’s largest NGO-run midday meal programme, was selected for being a pioneering
programme in India's social and developmental sector, using technology extensively to provide freshly prepared,
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India. This meal is an incentive for children to come to school, stay in school and provides them with the necessary
nutrients they need to develop their cognitive abilities to focus on learning. The programme is a strategic intervention
aimed at unlocking the vicious cycle of poverty and hunger.
“The global challenges of the day have become increasingly strident, more deeply rooted,” said Peter Friess,
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“We are humbled by this honour,” said Madhu Pandit Dasa, Chairman of The Akshaya Patra Foundation. “This
award truly belongs to the Akshaya Patra team from the cooks, helpers, drivers, cleaners, supervisors, security
personnel, managers, accountants, clerks, fund raisers, trustees, donors, and to every one who makes preparing
and reaching meals happen everyday to a million children in the country. We are indebted to the support of the
Government without which the Akshaya Patra programme would not have been possible.”
The Tech Awards collaborates with humanitarian, educational, and business partners through global outreach
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World Bank Institute, Catholic Relief Services, The CORE Group, National Center for Technology Innovation and
10 Krishna Voice, Oct 2009
For more information about Akshaya Patra, please visit www.akshayapatra.org. For more information about The
Tech Awards, visit www.techawards.org.
About Akshaya Patra
Akshaya Patra, a public-private partnership, started modestly in 2000 by feeding 1,500 children and has grown
exponentially in the last nine years to feed over one million children daily through 17 kitchens in seven states in
India. Because of intensive use of technology, Akshaya Patra delivers school lunch at a fraction of the cost of
similar programmes in other parts of the world. It costs $28 to feed a child daily for the entire school year. With
an average government subsidy of 50 percent, $28 feeds two children. An AC Nielsen Impact Study of the
programme showed improved school enrollment, retention rates and classroom performance. Akshaya Patra is a
great example of what can be accomplished when the public sector, private sector and the civic society collaborate-
a cost effective, scalable solution with high quality service delivery.
Indigenously designed centralized kitchens optimize quality and minimize cost. The organization operates centralized
kitchens in urban and suburban areas. The centralized model is technology-intensive. The automated kitchen
facility is a classic example of how mechanization has improved efficiency and ensured quality. Appropriate
technological considerations have governed all phases of the design and process. The facility consists of a series
of mechanized steam-heated cauldrons, custom-built to cook nutrient-rich, native food most appreciated by children
on a long-term basis. Mechanization has minimized human handling of food to ensure high standards of hygiene
and cleanliness. Steam heating has accelerated the cooking process, enabling the Foundation to prepare meals
in large scale in less than five hours. The centralized kitchens are located in Bangalore, Hubli-Dharwad, Mangalore,
Mysore, Bellary, Jaipur, Nathdwara, Puri, Gandhinagar/Ahmedabad, Vrindavan, Hyderabad, Visakapatanam and
Bhilai. Six of the Akshaya Patra kitchens have received FSMS ISO 22000:2005 certification– a first of its kind
achievement for an NGO. Akshaya Patra’s next milestone is to serve 5 million children daily by 2020.
About The Tech Museum of Innovation
The Tech Museum is a hands-on technology and science museum for people of all ages and backgrounds. Located
in San Jose, California – the Capital of Silicon Valley – its mission, as a public-benefit corporation, is to inspire
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for a more promising future. For more information about The Tech Museum, visit www.thetech.org.
Krishna Voice, Oct 2009 11
If there is to be a synthesis of science and religion, there into extinction?
must be a real desire and need for cooperation. And one
This situation presents humanity with an ethical dilemma.
area in which the need for cooperation between science
Put simply, ethics is a process for determining what is
and religion is most deeply felt is that of concern for the
good and how to make choices that will establish and
preserve what is good. Given the assumptions of modern
In 1995 I attended a conference on population,
consumption, and the environment, sponsored by the
Practical application of Vedic ethical principles can materialistic science, it is difficult to construct an ethic for
preserving the environment or saving endangered species.
Boston Theological Institute and the American Association
for the Advancement of Science. Coming together at the
solve the environmental crisis. According to today's dominant views, our planet, indeed
our very universe, is the result of a cosmic accident, a
conference were scientists, politicians, religionists, and By Drutakarma Dasa chance fluctuation of the quantum mechanical vacuum.
environmental activists. I was invited as an author of the
Given this assumption it is difficult to say that any particular
book Divine Nature: A Spiritual Perspective on the Presented at Synthesis of Science and Religion, a conference sponsored by the state of our planet's environment is inherently good.
Environmental Crisis, which looks at the environmental Bhaktivedanta Institute, in Calcutta, India, January 9-12, 1997.
crisis from the standpoint of the Vedic teachings of India. Ultimately, there is no reason to say that our earth, with
its teeming life forms, is any better than Jupiter or Uranus,
A keynote speaker at the conference was Bruce Babbitt, Also speaking at the conference was Dr. Henry Kendall, sacred we mean things connected with a personal God
which according to modern astronomy are frozen lifeless
Secretary of the Interior for the United States. For a professor of physics at MIT and president of the Union and distinct individual souls. It is quite possible, however,
planets with atmospheres composed of elements
politician, Babbitt gave a remarkable speech. He told of of Concerned Scientists. Dr. Kendall said that science to have a science governed by metaphysical assumptions
poisonous to us. Or looking at the history of our own
growing up in Flagstaff, Arizona, from which can be seen can point out the dimensions of the environmental problem that would incorporate a genuine vision of the sacred.
planet, we have no reason to say that the present state
a large mountain. The mountain inspired in Babbitt a but cannot solve the problem. Science, he said, has no
But for today's science, governed by its present of the environment is any better than that of the early
sense of something wonderful in nature, something silver bullet, no technological fix for the environmental
materialistic assumptions, nature is an object to be not earth, which according to modern geoscience was a
godlike. Raised in the Catholic faith, Babbitt asked a crisis. Like Secretary Babbitt, he recognized over
only understood but dominated, controlled, and exploited. lifeless rock with a thin reducing atmosphere hostile to
priest about the mountain, hoping to gain some clue as consumption as the cause of environmental degradation,
And it is science itself that has provided us with the today's life forms.
to its spiritual significance. But he received no satisfactory and he too appealed to religion as the only force in the
instruments for such domination, control, and exploitation.
answer, perhaps because his priest was used to thinking world capable of generating the changes in values needed Alternative Viewpoints
Of course, I am speaking of technology.
of God as remote from nature. to restrain humanity's destructive urge to overproduce
So if we cannot say, on the basis of modern scientific
and over consume. Let's consider the automobile. It is certainly a convenience,
Later, Babbitt approached a friend his own age. This assumptions, that any particular state of the environment
but it has its downside—pollution, for example. And in
friend, who happened to be a Native American of the This was not the first time such suggestions had been is intrinsically good, and thus worthy of preservation, then
the United States alone about fifty thousand people a
Hopi tribe, took Babbitt up to the mountain and explained made. In 1990, at the Global Forum of Spiritual and perhaps we can approach the matter in another way. We
year are killed in automobile accidents. (For comparison:
to him its sacred nature. And from this Babbitt said he Parliamentary Leaders, held in Moscow, thirty-two can look at nature, at the environment, as an instrumental
fifty thousand American soldiers were killed in the entire
developed a sense of God's presence in nature—to a scientists signed a joint declaration appealing to the good. In other words, nature is something that yields
eight years of the American military involvement in
degree not possible for him previously. world's religions to use their immense influence to preserve things of value to living beings.
the environment. The scientists declared that humanity
When I heard this I was reminded of the Bhagavad-gita, Generally speaking, we adopt an anthropocentric view
was committing "crimes against Creation." They also The connection between a materialistic conception of the
wherein Lord Krishna says, "Of immovable things I am and consider nature instrumental to the happiness of our
said, "Efforts to safeguard and cherish the environment universe and a materialistic way of life was noted
the Himalayas, of flowing rivers I am the Ganges, of own human species. But according to the assumptions
need to be infused with a vision of the sacred." thousands of years ago in the Bhagavad-gita. The Gita
seasons I am the flower-bearing spring." Such expressions of modern evolutionary science, our human species is
(16.8) describes materialist philosophers thus: "They say
of God's immanence in nature are found throughout the These statements are somewhat ironic, for it is science an accidental product of millions of random genetic
that this world is unreal, with no foundation, no God in
Gita and other Indian spiritual texts. itself, or, should I say, a particular brand of science, that mutations. So there is nothing special about the human
control." And what is the practical outcome for people
is largely responsible for eliminating the sacred from our species and its needs.
Babbitt went on to say he understood that over who live in societies dominated by this world view, which
vision of the universe. Among the signers of the declaration
consumption was the underlying cause of most denies the fundamental reality of God and the soul? The Of course, we might take a larger view and appeal to
were Carl Sagan and Stephen J. Gould. And I must say
environmental problems. A general consensus at the Gita (16.11) says, "They believe that to gratify the senses nature as an instrumental good for an entire ecosystem,
it was intriguing to see them endorsing such language
conference held that the real issue was not overpopulation is the prime necessity of human civilization. Thus until made up of many species. But again, we have the same
as "crimes against Creation." In their writings both of
in the developing world but over consumption, in the the end of life their anxiety is immeasurable." Such people, problem. Why is today's ecosystem any better than the
them are generally quite hostile to the word creation, as
developed countries and increasingly in the developing says the Gita (16.12), are "bound by a network of hundreds ecosystem of the Precambrian era, when, scientists tell
is most orthodox science. It is interesting, however, how
ones as well. Babbitt said that as a politician he could of thousands of desires." us, there was no life at all on land, and in the oceans
science and religion tend to adopt each other's terminology
not present to the people a programme that would really only jellyfish and crustaceans?
when it suits them, often redefining the terms in the Is this not our situation today? Are we not bombarded
solve the environmental problem. It would require too
process. One of the tasks before us is to find a common daily with messages from films, radio, newspapers, Another way to proceed is to regard the environment as
much sacrifice from the voters, so much that they would
language for science and religion, and use it with integrity magazines, computers, and television, all attempting to a constitutive good. An acquaintance of mine, Jack Weir,
vote against anyone or any party that told them what
for constructive dialogue. entangle us further in hundreds and thousands of desires professor of philosophy at Morehead State University in
would really be needed.
that can only be satisfied by consuming products Kentucky, has presented such an argument. Put briefly,
Secretary Babbitt then turned to the religionists present manufactured by our thriving industries? The Gita (16.19) given the evolutionary assumptions of modern science
and said that only they could bring about the large-scale When I use the word science, I mean science as governed warns us that people like ourselves will "engage in we are what we are largely because of our environment.
changes of values needed to reverse the process of by a certain set of metaphysical assumptions. Today's unbeneficial, horrible acts, meant to destroy the world." According to this view, we are in a sense constituted by
environmental degradation. science is governed by metaphysical assumptions that And are we not gradually destroying our world, polluting our environmental surroundings. If our environmental
eliminate the sacred from our vision of the universe, if by its air and land and water and driving hundreds of species surroundings were different, we would not be able to stay
14 Krishna Voice, Oct 2009 Krishna Voice, Oct 2009 15
as we are. entertain the idea of intelligent design rather than chance
evolution. In this regard, I can recommend biochemist
But here again: Given the evolutionary assumptions of
Michael Behe's various papers or his recent book
modern science, what is so special about our current
Darwin's Black Box.
status as humans? Why should it, and the environment
that constitutes it, be considered worthy of preservation? Studies of the Paranormal
Why shouldn't we continue on our present course of
Last November I spoke to a gathering of physicists at
over consumption and environmental destruction? Let
the department of nuclear physics at the ELTE science
natural selection continue to operate, as it supposedly
university in Budapest, Hungary. I shared the podium
has in the past. Let old species perish and new ones
with Maurice Wilkins, a British Nobel laureate in physics,
come into existence. Or let them all perish. Given that
whose discoveries helped in the construction of the first
life itself is an accident of chemical combination in the
atomic bomb. The topic was, as here, science and
earth's early oceans, it is difficult to say why there is
religion. I chose as my topic physics and the paranormal.
any particular preference for a planet with life or without
I proposed that if there was to be any synthesis of
science and religion it would have to be on the mysterious
Jack Weir backed up his claim that nature was a ground of reality that lies between them, and undoubtedly
constitutive good with appeals to "scientific holism and the views about this ground would have to be
epistemic coherency." But he admitted, "Other appeals renegotiated.
could be made," such as to "stories and myths, religious
In physics, that might involve a return to an understanding
traditions, and metaphysical beliefs."
of reality that had a nonmaterial, nonmechanistic
Of course, one could also appeal to a different science, component. I pointed out that Newton wrote just as
founded upon a different set of metaphysical assumptions much about alchemy and spiritual topics as he did about
and perhaps arriving at different conclusions about the physics, optics, and mathematics, and that for Newton
origin of life and the universe. these were all part of one system, from which modern
science has abstracted only the part that suits it.
If we look at the history of science, from the time of
Newton until the present, we find that scientists have The idea of serious investigation into nonmaterial or
accumulated a large body of evidence suggesting a paranormal components of physical reality is today
vital force operating in living things, a force operating taboo, but it has not always been so. In the last century,
beyond the laws of physics and chemistry as currently Sir William Crookes, Nobel laureate in physics, discoverer
understood. All around the world we find great interest of thallium, inventor of the cathode ray tube, and
in alternative systems of medicine, such as the Ayur president of the Royal Society, conducted extensive
Veda, which are based on understanding this vital force, research into the paranormal. The French physiologist
or forces. At the UCLA medical school there is an institute Charles Richet, another Nobel laureate, who himself
devoted to integrating the insights of traditional Eastern conducted extensive research into paranormal
medical systems with Western medicine. phenomena, tells us in his book Thirty Years of Psychical
Research that he was sometimes assisted by Pierre
There is also quite an accumulation of evidence pointing
and Marie Curie, who shared the Nobel prize in physics
to a conscious self that can exist apart from the physical
for their discoveries of radioactive elements. For example,
organism. This evidence comes from studies of
we find Marie Curie observing a famous medium, while
phenomena ranging from out-of-body experiences to
Pierre Curie measured the movements of objects under
past-life memories. Much of this evidence does not
apparent psychokinetic influence.
easily fit the materialistic assumptions of modern science
and is therefore regarded with suspicion. But this I bring up these incidents not to prove the reality of the
evidence is increasing daily, and it could be incorporated phenomena but to illustrate the open-mindedness of
into the framework of a new science operating with an these famous experimental physicists, their willingness
expanded set of metaphysical assumptions. to investigate difficult and troubling phenomena. Isn't
that what science, at its best, is supposed to be about?
Aside from the Bhaktivedanta Institute, a number of
scientific societies are attempting this, among them the After I finished my talk in Budapest, I wondered, of
Society for Scientific Exploration, the Scientific and course, how it had been received. I was surprised when
Medical Network in England, the Institute for Noetic the head of the physics department of a major European
Sciences in the United States, and the International university approached me and disclosed that in his
Society for the Study of Subtle Energy and Energy home he had been privately conducting telepathic
Medicine. Furthermore, as scientists carry their research experiments. To his extreme surprise, he had achieved
into the biomolecular machinery within the cell, they some interesting results, and he asked me if I could put
encounter structures and systems of irreducible him in touch with Americans conducting similar
complexity, leading some of them once more to seriously investigations.
Krishna Voice, Oct 2009 17
Forming an Environmental Ethic The Vedanta-sutra also says anandamayo 'bhyasat.
We are meant for happiness, and by cultivating
Now, what does all this have to do with the environment,
consciousness by proper means we can attain
with nature? Everything, because if we are going to
nonmaterial satisfaction. And this also sustains an ethic
formulate an environmental ethic, we first should
of moderation. The Gita says, param drstva nivartate:
understand what our environment really is. And from
When you get the higher taste of developed spiritual
the Vedic, and in particular Vaishnava, standpoint, we
consciousness, you automatically refrain from excessive
would have to say that it is a divine energy, an energy
material gratification. A proper balance is achieved.
emanating from a transcendent God who is nevertheless
immanent in nature. Nature is itself populated with The Role of Nonviolence
conscious entities and structured in a definite way for
The Vedic principle of ahimsa, or nonviolence, also has
a definite purpose, namely providing an opportunity for
its application. Nonviolence can be understood in many
these conscious entities to return to their original pure
ways. For example, to encourage people to devote their
lives to unrestrained material production and consumption
There is a body of scientific evidence consistent with can be considered a kind of violence against the human
several elements of this view. In other words, religion spirit. We just have to look around us to see the effects
may be something more than a socially useful set of of this violence. If we look at Americans at Christmastime
beliefs that can be harnessed by science to help solve crowding into their shiny malls, and instead of heeding
certain problems, such as the environmental crisis. It the Vedic teaching athato brahma-jijnasa devoting
just may be so that religion has crucial insights into the themselves to the teaching of "athato shop until you
nature of reality that can be foundational for a true drop," we see a kind of violence. When we see young
synthesis of science and religion for the benefit of Chinese workers crowded into dormitories around the
mankind. factories that provide most of the Christmas goods found
in the American malls, we might also sense violence to
With these foundational assumptions, formulating an
the human spirit.
environmental ethic becomes easier. Given that
according to Vaishnava teaching this world is a reflection The principle of ahimsa can also be applied to the earth
of a variegated, and essentially gardenlike, spiritual itself. We have recently heard of the Gaia principle, the
reality, we could say that there is some intrinsic value idea that the earth is in some sense an organism. This
in attempting to maintain a state of the environment that principle has long been recognized in Vedic philosophy,
most closely matches the original. When children learn, and we should try not to commit violence to our planet
they generally copy letters. If their attempt resembles by unnecessarily poisoning her air, land, and water.
the original it is said to be good; if it does not, it is said
And nonviolence also applies to other living things.
to be bad. In the same way, we can propose that there
Accepting the Vedic teaching of ahimsa, we will not hunt
is some intrinsic goodness to a particular state of
species to extinction. I will also point out that the killing
of animals for food, especially animals raised in factory
Furthermore, certain Vedic principles contribute to a farms and killed in huge mechanized slaughterhouses,
viable environmental ethic. The first of these is athato is one of the most environmentally destructive practices
brahma-jijnasa. This is the opening mantra of the in the world today. It is wasteful of precious natural
Vedanta-sutra. It means that the purpose of human life resources. It poisons the land and water.
is cultivation of consciousness, including cultivation of
the loving relationship between the individual
consciousness and the supreme consciousness. So the Vedic philosophy provides numerous supports
for an ethic of environmental preservation. Similar
I want to interject here that not every religious teaching
support can be derived from the teachings of other great
leads to a viable environmental ethic. Many
religious traditions of the world. But putting this wisdom
manifestations of religion, like modern materialistic
into practice is difficult.
science, encourage destructive domination, exploitation,
and unending consumption. But the Vedic system In many areas of ethical concern we can adopt an
emphasizes the study and development of objective stance. But when we speak of the
consciousness over the study and development of environmental crisis, we find that almost all of us are
matter. Matter is not ignored, but it is seen in its directly implicated. And it is therefore difficult to speak
connection with the supreme consciousness. In any about environmental ethics without seeming hypocritical.
case the principle of brahma-jijnasa encourages an Nevertheless we must speak. And this engenders in us
ethic of moderation, which contributes to reasonable a sense of humility, and also a sense that even small
levels of economic development and consumption that steps toward the real solution, which must be a spiritual
would help unburden the ecosystem. solution, are to be welcomed and appreciated.
18 Krishna Voice, Oct 2009
Alan Durning, a senior researcher at the World Watch
a science that recognizes distinct conscious selves,
Institute, writes, "It would be hopelessly naive to believe
emanating from an original conscious self, as
that entire populations will suddenly experience a moral
fundamental entities, (2) a religion that goes beyond
awakening, renouncing greed, envy, and avarice. The
dogma and ritual to provide actual sources of nonmaterial
best that can be hoped for is a gradual widening of the
satisfaction by practice of yoga, meditation, and so on,
circle of those practicing voluntary simplicity."
(3) respect for all living things, seeing them as conscious
In this regard, I want to briefly mention that His Divine selves like us, (4) an ecofriendly vegetarian diet, and
Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada started (5) an economic system founded on villages and small
several rural communities for demonstrating a life of cities, emphasizing local production and self-sufficiency.
such voluntary simplicity. Since his departure from this Anything short of this will simply not give the desired
world in 1977, the number of such communities has result.
increased to forty on five continents, in locations ranging
from the Atlantic rain forest of Brazil to the steppes of
After I spoke to the physicists in Budapest, I had a
chance to visit one of these communities. I have to
confess I was rather astonished to find such a rural
community founded on Vedic principles in the plains of
southwestern Hungary. The center of the community
was a somewhat modernistic temple, but when I inquired
I learned that it had been constructed using rammed
earth walls and other traditional techniques. No electricity
was used in the temple or anywhere else in the
community. Along the temple walls I saw brass lamps,
which burned oil pressed from locally grown rape seeds.
It was a rather cold day in November, and I saw that
the building was heated with super-efficient wood-
burning stoves, using wood sustainably harvested from
a fifty-acre plot of forest owned by the community. I was
then offered a vegetarian meal, which featured locally
grown vegetables, cheese from the community's cows,
and chapatis made from wheat grown and ground in
the community. I learned that oxen are being trained to
do farm work and transport.
The people I met did not seem in any way deprived. I
told some of them, "You're doing the right thing." And
isn't that what environmental ethics is all about—not
just talking about the right thing, but doing it?
To summarize, from the standpoint of Vedic principles
I would say that the following elements are necessary
for a complete solution to the environmental crisis: (1)
Oct 14 Ekadashi Oct 18 Govardhan Puja, Go Puja
Oct 15 break fast Vrindavan Karthik Festival begins
Oct 29 Ekadashi Oct 22 Srila Prabhupada Disappearance day
Oct 30 break fast Fasting till noon
Oct 23 Vrindavan Karthik Festival ends
Oct 29 Srila Gaura Kishora Dasa Babaji
Fasting till noon
Nov 2 Chaturmasya ends
Karthika month ends
Krishna Voice, Oct 2009 Deepotsava ends (Bangalore) 19
The great saint, composer and devotee of Kalinga Narthana Krishna of Oottukkadu – Venkata Kavi,
was remembered at the celebration of his Aradhana, under the auspices of ISKCON, Bangalore in
association with International Foundation for Carnatic Music, Neelambari and Omkaar Jhankaar.
A good number of renowned and upcoming artistes led by Sangeeta Samrat Chitravina N. Ravikiran and
Vidushi Neela Ramgopal rendered Saptaratna Krithis of Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi. This Goshti Gayanam was
accompanied by Vidwan Sudharshan on the mridangam and Vidwan Chaitanya Kumar on the flute.
Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi’s Saptaratna Goshti Gayanam was followed by Padmashree Sudha Ragunathan’s
vocal concert. The concert was more of a devoted musical offering of Venkata Kavi’s rare and popular
compositions than a full-fledged classical concert. She was accompanied by Vidwan V.L.V. Sudharshan on
the violin, Vidwan Tiruvarur Vaidyanathan on the mridangam and Vidwan R. Raman on the morsing.
12 Krishna Voice, Oct 2009
Euthanasia: Ending the Pain?
by Mukunda Goswami
Today, traditional concepts of suicide and homicide By karmic law, one who commits suicide becomes a
have become blurred by phrases like "mercy killing" ghost. A ghostly or astral "body" consists of mind,
and "doctor-assisted suicide." intelligence, and false ego. The soul living in such a
subtle body keeps his personality, his desires for human
In 1996 Australia's Northern Territory legalized voluntary
relationships, and his physical desires such as thirst,
euthanasia. In January of 1997, contending forces in
hunger, and the sex drive. But because of the soul's
the U.S. pushed the issue of euthanasia all the way to
disembodied state, he cannot satisfy these desires.
the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ghosts routinely wander for years, their natural desires
Advocates of doctor-assisted suicide say its purpose
raging unfulfilled. In an effort to fulfill such desires,
is to end the unremitting and excruciating pain that
ghosts sometimes haunt or possess another person's
So while suicide may
apparently give relief
from days, months, or
years of physical or
mental suffering, a
lifetime of unabated
misery is destined to
Physicians who take
part in euthanasia and
doctor-aided suicide are
unnaturally ending the
soul's prescribed bodily
lifetime. In the
Netherlands, such acts
are formally illegal, yet
the courts have been
exceptions to the law.
Every year about one
cases come to light in which doctors cause or hasten
often comes with diseases like terminal cancer. But
death even without the patient's request. Almost
does suicide really stop pain?
routinely, such violations go unpunished. Unlike civil
According to Vedic wisdom, the answer is no. Rather, law, however, karma is infallible and inescapable.
suicide prolongs pain and even increases it. From the According to karma, the lives of such doctors will be
Vedas we learn that the eternal soul, or atma, lives on cut short in their next birth, often by acts of violence.
after death. For the soul, the Bhagavad-gita says, "there
Karmic considerations aside, what may be even more
is neither birth nor death." At the time of death the soul
surprising is that euthanasia is most often performed
reincarnates, or transmigrates from one body to another.
for reasons other than to relieve physical pain.
According to the law of karma, the soul who has attained
The most comprehensive study of the Dutch experience
a human body has been put there to reform his life and
with euthanasia is the 1991 Remelink Report, which
finally attain liberation, in a spiritual body free from birth
showed that "pain was a factor motivating requests for
and death. The soul's term in the human form is a type
euthanasia in less than half of all cases. More
of captivity. How long he stays captive and how much
importantly, pain was the sole motivating factor in just
he enjoys or suffers depend on his previous acts. To
5% of euthanasia cases." A study of physicians who
kill oneself or someone else interrupts the soul's
care for nursing-home patients in the Netherlands found
prescribed term of embodiment. This goes against
that pain was the main rationale in only eleven percent
natural law, or God's law, and generates further reactions
of euthanasia requests. In the U.S., a Washington state
20 Krishna Voice, Oct 2009
study of doctors who performed euthanasia or assisted human kindness retreat further and further into the
suicide found that pain figured in only thirty-five percent background.
of the requests.
The science of Krishna consciousness, which gives
According to Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, a professor at knowledge of the soul and karma, needs to be
Harvard Medical School, euthanasia is "a way of avoiding pervasively and systematically taught throughout the
the complex and arduous efforts required of doctors world. Only such education can rejuvenate a desacralized
and other health-care providers to ensure that dying society and return us to our normal, natural position of
patients receive humane, dignified care." love, with an understanding of who we really are and
where we are going.
The main reasons for which people want euthanasia—
depression, isolation, psychological maladjustment, and Whatever the U.S. Supreme Court, the Australian
lack of care—reveal a pervasive spiritual vacuum. In Parliament, or other government bodies decide,
an increasingly secular society, God has been consigned involuntary euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide are
to a minor role. And godlessness has bred callousness. likely to proliferate. Without understanding the nature
As the world becomes more materialistic and divorced of the self and its movements through time and space,
from spiritual principles, so godly qualities like gratitude, more people will blindly try to reduce suffering by acting
tolerance, self-control, peacefulness, family unity, and in ways that will only serve to prolong and increase it.
22 Krishna Voice, Oct 2009
Sri Radhashtami 2009
The Deities of Srimati
Radharani at ISKCON
Bangalore (left) and
Vrindavan (below), in
special alankara on
day. Devotees have
darshana of Her lotus
feet on this one day
only every year.
Krishna Voice, Oct 2009 27
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