Liberation In Service to Lord Krishna
A lecture in Vrindavana on November 2, 1972,
by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
ato vai kavayo nityam
bhaktim paramaya muda
"Therefore all transcendentalists have been rendering loving service with great delight to Lord Krishna, the
Personality of Godhead, from time immemorial because such devotional service is enlivening to the self. (Srimad-
Atma means self, mind, or body. We are living in three stages: the bodily concept of life, the mental concept of
life, and the spiritual concept of life. Those who are grossly in ignorance think in terms of the bodily concept of
life. Those who are a little more advanced think in terms of the mental or psychological concept of life. And those
who are still more advanced think in terms of the spiritual concept of life.
The spiritual concept of life was described in a previous verse: vadanti tat tattva-vidas tattvam. Tattvam means
truth. The truth is spirit, not matter. Matter is truth but subordinate to spirit. On the basis of spirit, matter grows,
just as our body has grown on the basis of our spiritual existence.
So spiritual realization is the ultimate goal of our life. Jivasya tattva-jijnasa nartho yas ceha karmabhih. Inquiry
about the truth is the main business of the living entity. But living entities lower than human beings—animals, birds,
beasts, trees, aquatics, insects—have no privilege to inquire about the Absolute Truth. It is in the human form of
life that one can inquire about the Absolute Truth.
When one is actually inquisitive about the Absolute Truth, he realizes three transcendental subjects: brahmeti
paramatmeti bhagavan iti sabdyate—the all-pervading Brahman, the localized Supersoul, and Bhagavan, the
Personality of Godhead. Ultimately one has to reach the platform of Bhagavan, Vasudeva. Vasudeva sarvam iti
sa mahatma sudurlabhah. One who reaches the point of understanding Vasudeva, Krishna, is the perfect mahatma.
Others may be transcendentalists (kovidah, "men of knowledge"), but one who has reached the point of understanding
Vasudeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is called mahatma. Mahatma is a very common word in India.
Any saintly person is called a mahatma. But according to Vedic description, a mahatma is one who has reached
the point of understanding Vasudeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
In another place it is stated: mahat-sevam dvaram ahur vimuktes tamo-dvaram yositam sangi-sangam. There are
two ways of life. One way is liberation, and the other way is bondage. For example, when a reel of thread turns
one way it draws in the thread, and when it turns the other way it releases the thread. Similarly, we can lead our
life in two ways, either towards liberation or towards the darkness of bondage.
By gradual evolution we come to the human form of life. Now we can move in two ways, either towards liberation
or towards bondage.
Modern education has no information about bondage and liberation. There is no education to enable students to
understand God, themselves, and their relationship with God, Vishnu. These things are unknown to the modern
The Vedic literature therefore says, andhah yathandhair upaniyamanas te 'pisa-tantryam uru-dhamni-baddhah.
Uru means "very strong." Dhamni means "rope." If your hands and legs are tied strongly, it is very difficult for you
to move. Similarly, by the laws of nature every living entity is bound up very strongly—isa-tantrya, "by the laws of
the Supreme Lord." We are bound up. We cannot deviate.
We cannot violate the laws of nature. Everyone can experience this. A little violation, a little deviation from the laws
of nature, and we suffer. That is our daily experience. For example, the laws of nature dictate that you can eat
only as much as you can digest. If you eat more, by the laws of nature you will suffer from indigestion. You cannot
violate the law without suffering. Daivi hy esa guna-mayi mama maya duratyaya. Nobody can violate the laws of
We have discussed how to get out of the laws of nature: mukta-sangasya jayate. Mukta-sanga means one who
Krishna Voice, Dec 2009 5
has become freed from the three modes of material nature. After being freed from those three modes, then one
can talk of vasudeva-bhakti.
From another point of view, one can become free from this bondage of material nature simply by devotional service
to Vasudeva. That is stressed in this chapter of Srimad-Bhagavatam from the very beginning:
janayaty asu vairagyam
jnanam ca yad ahaitukam
If one simply learns how to render devotional service to Vasudeva, Krishna, then very soon one becomes detached
from material bondage. And one gets knowledge, real knowledge. Material knowledge is the cause of bondage.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura has said that advancement of material knowledge means more and more bondage. And
advancement of spiritual knowledge means more and more liberation. Our problem, therefore, is how to liberate
ourselves from material bondage.
We are bound up. I am a spirit soul, you are a spirit soul, but we are put into material bondage. And because we
are in material bondage we have no freedom. People do not understand this.
The spirit soul is described as sarva-ga. Sarva-ga means that the spirit soul can go anywhere he likes. But due
to this material bondage—because we have material bodies—we are checked. We cannot even go to other planets.
Of course, the yogis by yogic processes become a little free from this material body. Therefore they can transfer
from one place to another very quickly—even yogis who are on the material platform. On this planet they travel
very quickly. There are many yogis still in India who take bath in four places daily early in the morning. They take
bath in Jagannatha Puri, Rameshvaram, Haridwar, and Dvaraka. We met some yogis, and they said how quickly
they can go from one place to another.
From our own experience we can all understand how they can do this. Just consider the mind. The mind is so swift
that in a second it can reach thousands of miles away. And the spirit soul is still more subtle. So the speed of the
spirit soul is very, very great. In the Bhagavad-gita Krishna says, tayktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so
'rjuna: "Just after giving up this body, one can immediately come to Me in the spiritual world." These are the Vedic
You can try to understand. Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti—we accept another body immediately after death.
When you are walking you take your second step when your first step is secure. Similarly as soon as the next
body is arranged by superior arrangement, we give up the present body and enter into another gross body. This
is the law.
So Krishna says, tyaktva deham punar janma naiti. If the living entity does not enter into another gross body, where
does he go? Krishna says, mam eti: "He comes to Me." Now, imagine the speed of the spirit soul. Just after leaving
the body at death he immediately goes to Goloka Vrindavana, or at least to where Krishna is, to join Krishna's
nitya-lila, His eternal pastimes.
How Krishna's nitya-lila are going on has been described in the Chaitanya-charitamrita. Krishna is always present
in one of the universes in His bhauma-lila, His pastimes in the material world. Lord Chaitanya has given the
example of the movement of the sun. By the movement of the sun, we divide the day into twenty-four hours, into
sixty minutes, into sixty seconds. Yet each time of the day is always existing. For example, our sunrise today was
at six-thirty. This six-thirty passed here, but somewhere else it is now six-thirty. And when six-thirty passes there,
somewhere else it will be six-thirty. Similarly, Krishna is passing from one universe to another, and when He's
visible in this universe, we find Krishna's appearance.
Srila Sanatana Gosvami has informed us that a soul who has become competent to associate with Krishna goes
first of all to Krishna within some universe where He is having His pastimes, bhauma-lila. Then, just as a person
is trained as an apprentice and then given a post, so when a living entity eligible by Krishna consciousness gives
up his body he is transferred at once to the universe where Krishna is. And after being trained up thoroughly, he's
transferred to the original Krishnaloka, Goloka Vrindavana.
How swift the spirit soul is—in a moment he goes either to Krishna or to one of the universes! There are millions
and trillions of universes. We have information of our universe, but from Vedic literature we get information that
there are millions and trillions of universes like this. We can see only one universe. But we get this information
from Brahma-samhita: yasya prabha prabhavato jagad-anda-koti. The word jagad-anda means one universe. And
6 Krishna Voice, Dec 2009
koti means millions. So there are unlimited universes. And in each universe there are millions and trillions of planets,
each different from the others. This is the creation.
So just imagine the vastness of God's creation, how He enters every universe continually, and how His lila is going
on. As soon as Krishna's birth is finished in one universe, immediately in another universe His birth takes place.
This is called nitya-lila. So the spirit soul has immense power, and the soul is only a fragment of Krishna. Now
you can imagine the power of Krishna. The living entity has so many potencies. So what potency must Krishna
have, who is full of spiritual potency?
Actually if we want to be happy, as part and parcel of Krishna, we must join Him. That is our value. This example
I have given several times: a small screw from a machine has immense value when it is attached to the machine.
But the same small screw when detached from the machine has no value. Not even a farthing. Similarly, we are
part and parcel of Krishna, Vasudeva. Our value is in full when we join Krishna, when we dovetail our activities
in Krishna consciousness. Then we are valuable. Otherwise, so-called progress is simply illusion.
Therefore if we actually want happiness, we must dovetail our activities with Krishna, Vasudeva. It is for your
interest. It is not for Krishna's interest. Krishna can create millions of living entities like you. He doesn't require
your service. He's complete. But if you want your satisfaction, you have to dovetail yourself in devotional service
to Krishna. That is intelligence. Otherwise—foolishness, ignorance, illusion. Thank you very much.
Dasara Dolls Fest
As a part of the Dasara celebrations, a dolls festival was organized at ISKCON, Bangalore. The special attraction
was the Shesha Shayana Alankara by Smt. Anu Vishveshwar.
The scene depicts Lord Vishnu lying on the serpent Ananta while He is being served by Srimati Lakshmidevi at
His lotus feet. Lord Brahma is seated on the lotus flower that emanates from the navel of Lord Vishnu. The scene
is witnessed by Narada Muni and Garuda Deva - two exalted devotees of the Lord.
Dec 12 Ekadashi Dec 28 Vaikuntha Ekadashi
Dec 13 break fast Jan 2 Ratha Yatra in Mysore
Jan 10 Ekadashi Jan 9 Ratha Yatra in Mangalore
Jan 11 break fast
Krishna Voice, Dec 2009 7
SRILA PRABHUPADA SPEAKS OUT
Become A Rascal And Suffer
Here we continue an exchange between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and some of
his disciples that took place on October 18, 1975, during a morning walk in Johannesburg, South Africa .
Srila Prabhupada: In the Vedic system, man is going to have sex for begetting a child."
sex is allowed only for begetting So there is a dignified heralding. Not that
children. In other words, restriction. sexual activity is simply done in the heat
Sex is allowed, but with great of the moment, like cats and dogs.
restriction—under religious rules and even cats and dogs do not have sex
regulations. secretly. Human beings do it secretly and
things, such as the garbhadana, or use contraceptives, because they do not
seed-giving, ceremony. Even when want the botheration of having a child.
sex is employed properly, for Therefore, their "scientific advancement"
begetting a child, it is not undertaken especially means how to kill the child:
secretly, without anyone else's how to take and distribute contraceptive
knowledge. There should be a pills, how to arrange for abortions, and how
ceremonial function, garbhadana- to allow the young people, "Yes, you go on
samskara. All the brahmanas and having sex, but take these pills so that you
relatives come, and everyone knows, may not be bothered."
"Some time soon, this Why not stop all the
botheration of sex
they cannot do,
because they are
created an animal civilization,
they cannot escape all this
manisijam visa-heta dhirah.
Why don't they teach people
to become dhirah, sober?
"Let me tolerate this itching
sensation [the urge for sex].
Let me remain brahmachari
[celibate], remain on the
Krishna Voice, Dec 2009
spiritual platform." "pleasure." Who is stopping you? Enjoy this "pleasure."
Their teaching is not good: "You should have sex But if everything in this material world is made for your
repeatedly"—and then suffer the consequences. And unrestricted pleasure, then why are you taking up a
in trying to avoid suffering the consequences, people countermeasure? Why do you make a plan to kill the
incur more suffering. Bahu-duhkha bhajah: after sex— child? Because everything is pleasure? Why do you
illicit or licit—the consequence is suffering. Even when take up the contraceptive method—if the real
the sex is licit, then you still have to take care of your arrangement here is not for punishment and spiritual
wife, and you also have to take care of the children, correction but for your sensual pleasure?
and be always in anxiety about their food and clothing, That is the proof of what rascals they are. Mudha
their education, their upliftment, and so on and so forth. nabhijanati: Krishna says, "Rascals can never understand
Always undergoing suffering. what is what." Try to understand why Krishna has said
And if the sex is illicit, then you have to undergo these so many times, mudhah ... mayayapahrta-jnana: "These
sufferings: Because you commit the sin of killing the people are rascals, whose so-called knowledge is stolen
child by contraceptives or abortion, therefore in your by illusion." Krishna, the Supreme Lord, is speaking like
next life you must be killed. And in the meantime you that, so there must be some meaning.
have to go to the doctor and pay his exorbitant fees, Human civilization means giving spiritual relief.
and so on. So where is the relief from suffering? Whether Enlightened life, comfortable life—not simply repeating
illicit or licit, sex means you have to suffer. the dark, sensual ordeal of the animals. That is human
But trpyanti neha krpana bahu-duhkha bhajah. These civilization.
rascals, once they have had sex, they cannot be done Disciple: Srila Prabhupada, in everyday life we see
with it: "That's all right. I have already got one child to that only the devotees are somewhat free from anxiety.
take care of." No. "I must have sex again and again."
You would think that once someone had committed Srila Prabhupada: Yes. That's a fact. We have little
sinful activities such as killing the child in the womb, anxieties, simply because we have to deal with this
then he would say, "All right. Stop it now." No. "Again." rascal world. Otherwise, we have no anxiety. But we
have taken this mission, to go and approach people
Trpyanti neha krpana: such a miserly person is never and tell them the truth. Therefore, we have got a little
satisfied. He knows that following his sinful activity there anxiety. Otherwise, there is no question of anxiety.
will be suffering. Still, he'll not stop this sinfulness.
Because we are mixing with these rascals—and we
Therefore, a man should be educated to become sober: have to do that, we who have taken up this mission—
"Let me tolerate this itching. That's all. I'll save so much therefore, we have some little anxiety. That is also not
trouble." This is knowledge. To become a rascal and very much. But anyway, you must know, the whole world
then more and more of a rascal and then suffer—is that is full of rascals and fools. That is not an exaggeration.
civilization? Does civilization mean simply making people Or have you got a different opinion?
rascals, so that they can suffer and commit spiritual
suicide? Disciple: No.
Just tell people that they have created this civilization Srila Prabhupada: Hm? What do you think? Do you
of "Become a rascal and then suffer." And all their agree?
sufferings are nature's arrangement. Nature says, "You Disciple: They are mudhas [fools].
have forgotten Krishna. Now you must come under my Srila Prabhupada [laughing]: Our verdict is final: "All
control. You've become a rascal. Now suffer." Daivi hy rascals and fools." Therefore, when I ask these rascals,
esa guna mayi mama maya duratyaya. Krishna says, "Any question?" they are stopped. [Laughter.] "Come
"My material nature is very severe, very punishing." on—any question?" What question can they ask? I
Why is she doing that? She is teaching us, "Surrender
challenge them, "Any question?" They know, "We have
to Krishna. Otherwise, you will go on suffering like this."
been proved rascals."
This is nature's way.
During my lecture last night I quoted Krishna's
But the rascal—because he is a rascal—does not know
chastisement of Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita. Asocyan
that prakrteh kriyamanani gunaih karmani: "I am under
anvasocas tvam prajna-vadams: "Your words are very
the full control of prakrti, material nature, and her business
high-sounding, but do you know what you are doing?
is to keep me a rascal and make me suffer." And yet
Talking like a low-class fool. Overlooking your inner
these rascals are thinking themselves advanced in
soul, your real, spiritual self. Stupidly taking yourself to
be this outer covering, this material body. But this material
Disciple: Prabhupada, they will say that this suffering body is the very cause of all your suffering." And I said,
is actually pleasure. "This is the position of everyone. Everyone is a fool, a
Srila Prabhupada: That's all right. Go on with your rascal, ignoring life's actual problem."
Krishna Voice, Dec 2009 9
News from Mysore
Celebrated on October 18,
2009, Govardhan Puja was a
grand festival. The programme
began with Go Puja in the
evening followed by Govardhan
Puja, sandhya arati and finally
Devotees had made a beatuiful
hill of semolina halva. Various
holy sites in the actual
Govardhan Parikrama path
were depicted with food items.
1000 Gulab jamuns, 1400
Mysore pak pieces, 800 bajjis
and numerous other sweets and
savouries decorated the hill.
Various kundas were depicted
with fruit juices and milk shakes.
Devotees from all over Mysore
came to celebrate. The hill was
offered to the Vasudeva
Saligrama shila being
worshipped in the temple and
distributed as prasadam to the
3000 devotees who attended
Disappearane day was
celebrated on October 22, 2009
with an elaborate abisheka for
the deity of Srila Prabhupada in
the evening. A lecture on Srila
Prabhupada and his contribution
to the world was given. Then
Guru Puja for Srila Prabhupada
was performed. This was
followed by sandhya arati and
Damodara Deepotsava. All
present were then served
10 Krishna Voice, Dec 2009
Akshaya Patra wins Tech Museum Award 2009
The Akshaya Patra Foundation
bagged the Tech Awards 2009,
a signature programme of The
Tech Museum, San Jose,
California, USA. Akshaya Patra
won the Microsoft Education
Awards in the category of
education under The Tech
Musuem Awards 2009. The
award was presented with a
cash prize of $ 50,000 at a
glittering ceremony in San Jose,
USA, for social entrepreneurs
leveraging technology to benefit
humanity. The Tech Awards of
The Tech Museum and
presented by Applied Materials,
Inc., selected Akshaya Patra
from among 650 nominations
representing 66 countries.
News from Mangalore
Giridhari alankara on
Annakoota of cake and
other special items
offered to the Lord.
Krishna Voice, Dec 2009 11
Sri Vishnu Sahasranama Akhanda Parayana
ISKCON Bangalore’s Sri Krishna
Kalakshetra had organized Sri Vishnu
Sahasranama Akhanda Parayana as a
special prayer for the betterment of the flood
victims of North Karnataka and welfare of
the society at large. Devotees performed
special puja to Lord Sri Krishna, Rukmini
Thousands of devotees from the All India
Vishnu Sahasranama Cultural Federation
(Chennai) and Sri Vishnu Sahasranama
Maha Mandali (Bangalore) participated in
this Akhanda Parayana. They chanted 30
rounds of Sri Vishnu Sahsranama non stop
from 8.30 a.m. to 8.30 p.m. on Nov 1, 2009.
Sri Chanchalapathi Dasa, Vice President
ISKCON-Bangalore delivered the welcome
Addressing the devotees on this occasion,
Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa, President ISKCON-
Bangalore and Sri Tiru Dasa, Director, Sri
Krishna Kalakshetra explained the
significance of chanting the holy names of
the Lord and scholar Dr. Aralumallige
Parthasarathy emphasized on the importance
of congregational chanting of Lord Vishnu's
holy names for the welfare of society.
Sri Tiru Dasa felicitated the guests and
coordinators - Sri A K Ganeshan, Secretary,
All India Vishnu Sahasranama Cultural
Federation (Chennai) Dr. Aralumallige
Parthasarathy, Smt. Suvarchala Devi, Sri
Vijay Kumar and Sri Narasimhan.
12 Krishna Voice, Dec 2009
Curbing The Animal Instinct by Vishnurata Dasa
Since a major cause of car accidents is inattention, a sign like the one at a busy New York intersection—"CURB
YOUR ANIMAL INSTINCT"—might be helpful. The animal instinct surely diverts many drivers. Maybe that's one
reason why collisions on city streets are as common as wolf whistles.
To curb the animal instinct, we have to keep a tight rein on our senses. An animal always responds to the dictates
of its senses, not caring what is proper or improper. But as the term animal instinct and the drawing on the sign
imply, a human being who acts the same way misuses the most sophisticated form of existence.
Only when a human being controls his lower instincts can he perceive a more subtle and far superior instinct: the
tendency to serve the Supreme Lord. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taught that this instinct is real because the living
entity is by constitution an eternal servant of Krishna.
When the propensity to serve God is misapplied, it degenerates into animal instinct. Then, rather than using the
senses for a higher purpose, one becomes a servant of the senses and tries to satisfy them with pleasing objects.
Lord Chaitanya taught that by
the science of bhakti-yoga, which
begins with the chanting of the
Hare Krishna maha-mantra, we
can control our senses. Bhakti-
yoga is a pleasing system of self-
control culminating in love of
By chanting God's names, Lord
Chaitanya taught, one can
immediately engage in His
service. Chanting removes
undesirable things from the
heart. And as loving service to
Krishna is reestablished, the
animal instinct disappears. Lord
Chaitanya likens this process to
cleaning dust from a mirror. With
a clean heart one sees the
spiritual reality of the self and its
eternal master, the Superself,
When one chants perfectly—with
attention and without offense—
love of Godhead results. One's
spiritual awareness fully
awakens, and one drowns, as
it were, in an ocean of bliss. One
drop of this ocean, we are told,
can flood the universe. And an
ocean of the highest material
pleasure cannot equal one drop
of pure spiritual pleasure.
The pleasure of the senses—
the same pleasure available to
animals—cannot approach the
bliss tasted by chanting Hare
Krishna. And that spiritual taste
can easily help us curb the
Krishna Voice, Dec 2009 13
The Bhagavad-gita was important to Srila Prabhupada. I found James Wade, and he confirmed the events in
He saw it as the perfect book to convey Krishna
consciousness, as it consists of the Lord’s own words
and His interactions with His loving devotee. In 1939, just
seven years after Prabhupada was initiated by his spiritual
The Macmillan Miracle By Satyaraja Dasa
question. He remembered the incident with tremendous
clarity, supporting Brahmananda’s story. And he offered
“I vividly remember the stir caused in our rather sedate
master, he wrote a lengthy introduction to the book in
The surprising events surrounding the initial publication of Srila Prabhupada’s Bhagavad-gita As It Is. and boring office the day the Swami came to visit,
English, presaging his full translation and commentary,
accompanied by followers in orange robes.”
which appeared soon after he began his mission in the
West. were receiving orders from various parts of the East repeat Prabhupada’s words verbatim. “He has translated
Apparently, Prabhupada himself brought the manuscript
Coast. the Bhagavad-gita.”
the day after Brahmananda’s brief visit to Macmillan.
When Prabhupada arrived in New York in 1965, he gave
priority to his work on the Gita. In India he had already One such order came from uptown Manhattan, relatively “What?” Wade
completed a translation, spanning well over a thousand close to the little storefront serving as a temple for r e s p o n d e d ,
pages, but it was stolen. In March 1966, Prabhupada Prabhupada and his early disciples. Brahmananda brought incredulously. “We’ve
was adjusting to life in the Western world when he met the letter to his master. just published a full line
with another loss: his typewriter, cassette recorder, and of spiritual books, and
“Look, Swamiji [as Prabhupada was then called]. It’s an
several books were taken from him. But he was resilient we were looking for a
order from Macmillan. They’re one of the biggest publishers
and determined to complete his work. In 1967 he finished Bhagavad-gita to fill out
in the world.”
the new manuscript, again over a thousand pages, and the set.”
resolved to get a major publisher so that his message Prabhupada gazed knowingly into his disciple’s eyes and
would be heard throughout the world. gave the following directives: “Do not mail out this order
dropped open. Though
as we do with others. Instead, bring the record to
At the time, Allen Ginsberg, famous poet of the Beat at a loss for words
Macmillan’s offices and hand deliver it to the person who
Generation, was visiting the New York temple, and he himself, he
sent us the letter.”
was enjoying a friendly relationship with Srila Prabhupada. contemplated the
Since Ginsberg was an experienced published author, Brahmananda nodded, aware that Krishna was using potency of
Prabhupada asked him to show the manuscript to his him as an instrument. Prabhupada’s: “They
benefactors, which Ginsberg did. But they were will publish it. Do not
“When you deliver the album,” Prabhupada continued, worry.”
unimpressed, claiming the book had little commercial “tell them that you are a disciple of a guru from India and
value. that he has translated the Bhagavad-gita. They will publish Wade then broke the
Prabhupada then gave the manuscript to Rayarama it. Do not worry.” awkward silence.
Dasa, an early disciple with some experience in the Brahmananda was stunned. Prabhupada seemed so “You bring in the
publishing world. Rayarama, too, was unsuccessful in confident. There was no doubt the book would get manuscript tomorrow,”
his attempts, his contacts explaining their hesitation in published-and by Macmillan! One couldn’t do much better he offered, “and we’ll
much the same way that Ginsberg’s did. than that. publish it, sight
The Miracle Begins unseen.”
Wading in the Ocean of Nectar
Enter Brahmananda Dasa (Bruce Scharf), one of Brahmananda raced
The next day, dressed in suit and tie, Brahmananda made back down to the
Prabhupada’s earliest disciples. He vividly relates the his way up to the Macmillan skyscraper at 866 Third
story as if it were yesterday, though it was more than storefront and told
Avenue, just off 52nd Street. His expectations as large Prabhupada the news.
forty years ago. as the building itself, he was disappointed when he learned In his own inimitable
“I didn’t know anything about publishing,” he admits. “But that the order for the album had come from a clerk in the way, Prabhupada was
Prabhupada put the manuscript in my hands, saying, mailroom. nonchalant, as though
‘You must get this published.’ So I knew what I had to “This really had nothing to do with the publishing company- he knew what would
do.” it was just a simple worker who had some interest in transpire before it
mantras and meditation.” happened.
What he didn’t know was how to do it. If Ginsberg and
Rayarama couldn’t get the book published, how would So Brahmananda dutifully delivered the album and had Firsthand
he? pretty much given up hope that his teacher’s Gita would Corroboration
“I bought a couple of books on publishing, and I was get published. Just then, in the midst of polite small talk Now, are these the
about to take a publishing course at New York University- with the clerk, a young executive happened to appear, memories of an over-
I just didn’t know what to do. Still, Prabhupada wanted hoping to collect his mail. The clerk introduced him to zealous disciple, an
me to get the book published, and that was that.” Brahmananda. exaggerated footnote
“This is James O’Shea Wade, our senior editor.” in ISKCON’s forty-year
Around this time, the devotees had released the
history? I decided to
“Happening” album, an assortment of devotional songs Brahmananda seized the moment. find out.
sung by Prabhupada with musical accompaniment. They
had placed an ad for the record in the Village Voice and “I am a disciple of a guru from India,” he said, trying to
14 Krishna Voice, Dec 2009 Krishna Voice, Dec 2009 15
Wade shared his thoughts about Prabhupada’s Prabhupada’s Gita went on to become the most important
spirituality. edition in the modern world, often outselling both popular
and scholarly translations. Claiming millions of readers
“I remember the Swami as being a very imposing and
in some fifty-five languages, from Polish to Japanese,
striking figure, with a powerful spiritual aura. His like
German to Azerbaijani, Danish to Croatian, English to
had never before been seen in the Macmillan offices.
numerous Indian languages, Srila Prabhupada’s Gita
Around that time we also published Alan Watts and
is a phenomenon. It can be found in homes, bookstores,
John Bleibtreu, who was involved in the spiritual and
research libraries, and academic institutions around the
communal movement called Arica. Macmillan had a
tradition of publishing books about spirituality and religion
at that time. I think that ended not long after I left to The history of Prabhupada’s meeting with Macmillan
become the editor-in-chief of the now defunct World shows that James Wade, then a senior editor, served
Publishing Company. But the Swami was special. That as an instrument in the hands of Krishna, who had
was clear.” already signed the contract.
I asked Wade to elaborate on that fateful meeting. Other Stories About the Macmillan Gita
“Our office was a rather austere, coolly modern place (1) To fit into the Macmillan series of spiritual classics,
as far as decor. I remember having some apprehension Prabhupada’s Gita had to conform to a certain size and
about how comfortable the Swami would feel in this style, which meant that it had to be cut down from its
rather alien setting, but it turned out that he was a man thousand-page manuscript to just over three hundred
who was at peace and at home in any environment. I pages. What to do? Would Prabhupada want this?
remember him as a rather tall man, physically imposing.
Brahmananda was surprised when his spiritual master
But of course, he wasn’t, being rather small in stature
said, “Do whatever the publisher wants. But our men
and not at all daunting. Quiet, modest, and surrounded
must do the editing so the meaning is not changed.”
by a kind of stillness, a peacefulness that was, well,
welcoming. I can’t think of a more precise word. He was Hayagriva and Rayarama, two of Prabhupada’s more
in the world and, at the same time, not of it. He knew literary disciples, did the editing and gave Macmillan
that we live in a world of illusion-something science has the abridged Gita ahead of the deadline. But Prabhupada
also taught us, as we go from sub-atomic particles and made it clear that he would eventually publish his full,
quantum mechanics to string theory. I remember that unabridged version.
he wanted the Bhagavad-gita As It Is to get the widest
possible exposure in the US. As I recall, things like the (2) Brahmananda wrote to famous literati, poets, and
Hare Krishna movement were in the very early stages. religious scholars, hoping they would contribute
Alternative spirituality-ranging from Zen to Tibetan forewords to Prabhupada’s work and thus help secure
Buddhism, for example-had not then touched the minds sales. He approached Thomas Merton, Allen Ginsberg,
and spirits of people the way such alternatives do today Denise Levertov, and Allan Watts. All but Watts agreed.
for so many.” In his reply to Brahmananda, Watts wrote that
Prabhupada’s philosophy of presenting the Gita “as it
James Wade was senior editor at Macmillan from 1965 is,” without interpretation, was itself an interpretation
to 1969. But in his few years at their offices, he made and thus intellectually dishonest.
history by publishing a pure devotee’s edition of the
Bhagavad-gita. The abridged version came out first, in Brahmananda was worried, not because he doubted
1968, and because of seeds James Wade planted, Prabhupada but because Watts was a popular author
Macmillan published Prabhupada’s unabridged who published with Macmillan. Would James Wade
Bhagavad-gita As It Is in 1972. reverse his decision to publish Prabhupada’s book when
he saw the response of one of his own authors?
A Translation with Spiritual Power
Not at all. Wade said that while Watts wrote good books,
Srila Prabhupada’s translation and commentary are not he didn’t understand the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition
merely his own; they bring to bear the insights of his of the Swami. Prabhupada’s book was in, no matter
predecessors in disciplic succession. And so he titled what.
his edition “As It Is.” The name boldly announces to his
readers that this is not yet another interpretation but (3) Prabhupada engaged Govinda Dasi in Hawaii to
rather the original message of the book’s initial speaker: illustrate the cover of his first Macmillan edition. They
Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. discussed the anti-war demonstrations at the time and
Accordingly, Prabhupada’s Gita was the first English decided not to put the Gita’s usual battlefield scene on
edition to bring people to Krishna consciousness, to the cover. Instead, Prabhupada told Govinda Dasi to
make them devotees of Krishna, which is the book’s depict the Universal Form, with His many heads, tongues,
intended purpose (see Bhagavad-gita. 18.65). arms, and so on. The “psychedelic” nature of it, they
agreed, would appeal to the hippies.
16 Krishna Voice, Dec 2009
Once the illustration was submitted to the publisher, “There is little question that this edition is one of the
however, Macmillan had reservations. Considering it best books available on the Gita and devotion.
too otherworldly for their usual audience, they opted to Prabhupada’s translation is an ideal blend of literal
discard the many arms and heads, leaving only four accuracy and religious insight.” — Dr. Thomas J.
arms and one head. Govinda Dasi was upset that they Hopkins, Professor of Religion, Franklin and Marshall
had changed her work. College.
“Think nothing of it,” Prabhupada said. “It is now Vishnu, “The Bhagavad-gita, one of the great spiritual texts, is
which is more advanced than the Universal Form.” not as yet a common part of our cultural milieu. This
(4) Prabhupada had always wanted his name to appear is probably less because it is alien per se than because
at the bottom of his books, underneath the painting of we have lacked just the kind of close interpretative
Krishna or of one of His incarnations that might be used commentary upon it that Swami Bhaktivedanta has
on the cover. He never wanted his name at the side of here provided, a commentary written from not only a
the Lord, in equal position, for that would be improper scholar’s but a practitioner’s, a dedicated lifelong
etiquette. devotee’s, point of view.” — Denise Levertov, Poet.
When the Macmillan book came back with Prabhupada’s “The increasing numbers of Western readers interested
name right next to the image of the Lord, Prabhupada in classical Vedic thought have been done a service
looked at it long and hard, and then he said, “It’s all by Swami Bhaktivedanta. By bringing us a new and
right. The energy of the Lord is always at His left side, living interpretation of a text already known to many,
and the devotee is an expansion of that energy. So it he has increased our understanding manyfold.” — Dr.
is all right.” Edward C. Dimock, Jr., Department of South Asian,
Scholars Praise Bhagavad-gita As It Is Languages and Civilization, University of Chicago.
Critical acclaim came quickly after publication, with “The scholarly world is again indebted to A. C.
scholars and literati of the day praising Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Although Bhagavad-
Prabhupada’s work. gita has been translated many times, Prabhupada adds
a translation of singular importance with his
“It is a deeply felt, powerfully conceived and beautifully
commentary.” — Dr. J. Stillson Judah, Professor of the
explained work. I don’t know whether to praise more
this translation of the Bhagavad-gita, its daring method History of Religions and Director of Libraries, Graduate
of explanation, or the endless fertility of its ideas. I have Theological Union, Berkeley, California.
never seen any other work on the Gita with such an “Whether the reader be an adept of Indian spiritualism
important voice and style.… It will occupy a significant or not, a reading of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is will be
place in the intellectual and ethical life of modern man extremely profitable. For many this will be the first
for a long time to come.” — Dr. Shaligram Shukla, contact with the true India, the ancient India, the eternal
Professor of Linguistics Georgetown University India.” — Francois Chenique, Professor of Religious
“No work in all Indian literature is more quoted, because Sciences, Institute of Political Studies, Paris, France.
none is better loved, in the West, than the Bhagavad- “I am very excited to see the publication of Bhagavad-
gita. Translation of such a work demands not only
gita As It Is by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
knowledge of Sanskrit, but an inward sympathy with
Prabhupada. It will help to stop the terrible cheating of
the theme and a verbal artistry. For the poem is a
symphony in which God is seen in all things.… The false and unauthorized “gurus” and “yogis” and will give
Swami does a real service for students by investing an opportunity to all people to understand the actual
the beloved Indian epic with fresh meaning. Whatever meaning of Oriental culture.” — Dr. Kailash Vajpeye,
our outlook may be, we should all be grateful for the Director of Indian Studies, Center for Oriental Studies,
labour that has led to this illuminating work.” — Dr. The University of Mexico.
Geddes MacGregor, Emeritus Distinguished Professor “I can say that in the Bhagavad-gita As It Is I have
of Philosophy, University of Southern California. found explanations and answers to questions I had
“I am most impressed with A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami always posed regarding the interpretations of this sacred
Prabhupada’s scholarly and authoritative edition of work, whose spiritual discipline I greatly admire. If the
Bhagavad-gita. It is a most valuable work for the scholar asceticism and ideal of the apostles which form the
as well as the layman and is of great utility as a reference message of the Bhagavad-gita As It Is were more
book as well as a textbook. I promptly recommend this widespread and more respected, the world in which
edition to my students. It is a beautifully done book.” we live would be transformed into a better, more fraternal
— Dr. Samuel D. Atkins, Professor of Sanskrit, Princeton place.” — Dr. Paul Lesourd, Author, Professeur
University. Honoraire, Catholic University of Paris.
Krishna Voice, Dec 2009 17
Evidence for Krishna by Nagaraja Dasa
People who doubt there’s life after death
sometimes say, “No one has ever come
back to tell us about it.”
But what if someone claimed to have come
back? Would we believe him? What kind
of proof would we want?
Trying to prove that Krishna is God presents
a similar challenge.
Someone might ask, “If Krishna is God, why
doesn’t He come and prove it?”
Well, there’s evidence that He does come.
For example, when He came five thousand
years ago, millions of eyewitnesses saw
Him, He did things only God can do, and
Vyasadeva, a reporter with impeccable
credentials, kept track of it all.
Vyasadeva recorded not only Krishna’s
matchless deeds but also the testimonials
of the greatest spiritual authorities of the
time, a time when large numbers of people
pursued spiritual realization with every ounce
of their being. The consensus of these saints
and sages—masters of spiritual learning
and discipline—was that Krishna is God.
People today tend to doubt the credibility
of Vyasadeva’s writings, thanks in large part
to a smear campaign started by the British
during their takeover of India. Yet despite
their efforts, the light of the Srimad- Bhagavatam and Like many nineteenth-century scholars, anyone who
other books from Vyasadeva’s prolific pen keeps shining. reads the Vedic literature with an open mind is sure to
Great Western thinkers who received the Vedas without be awed. But readers need help, too. Traditionally, a
prejudice were astounded. Vyasadeva’s writings were student of the Vedas gets guidance from a self-realized
superior to anything they had ever come across. person coming in a line of authorized teachers. Four
But what about the “stories” Vyasadeva wrote? Was main lines have directed India’s spiritual culture for
there really a boy named Krishna who lifted mountains hundreds of years, and each of them asserts that
and killed monsters? Scholars for whom Vyasadeva’s Krishna, or His expansion Vishnu, is God.
“mythology” seems incompatible with his erudite I find it disturbing to read media coverage of Krishna
philosophical works might propose that Vyasadeva didn’t conscious events that refers to devotees as worshipers
write both things. But that argument fails if we look at of “the god Krishna.” For the average person in the
just one example of his work: Srimad-Bhagavatam. West, the writer might as well be saying we worship
There Vyasadeva has written both profound philosophy “the god Zeus.” Why would anyone take seriously a
and—as the climax, no less—charming stories about group of people who have arbitrarily chosen to worship
Krishna. one god out of a whole stable of contenders?
The great leaders of India’s spiritual lineages since But our choice is far from arbitrary. It’s founded in the
Krishna’s time have concluded that a great philosopher Vedic scriptures, the credibility of saints of respected
like Vyasadeva wouldn’t frivolously insert fanciful stories spiritual lines, and the realized conviction, persuasive
into his treatise on the Absolute Truth. Vyasadeva’s writings, and pure character of Krishna’s emissary His
gravity alone is solid evidence that his stories of Krishna’s Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
exploits tell of actual events.
18 Krishna Voice, Dec 2009
Kuchipudi Arts Academy’s dance drama
“Sri Krishna Parijatam” was a colourful
performance by a cast of expert dancers.
Choreographed by the legendary
Dr. Vempatti Chinna Satyam, it is the
story of how Lord Krishna brought the
parijata tree to Dwaraka.
20 Krishna Voice, Dec 2009
The artists of Chennai’s Kalakshetra
Foundation had the audience spellbound with
their masterful performance of two episodes
from founder Rukmini Devi Arundale’s six part
On this page, are glimpses of “Rama
Vanagamanam” with Manthara poisoning
Queen Kaikeyi’s minds (top) by making King
Dasharatha banish Rama to the forest for
fourteen years (left) and the King’s utter shock
and helplessness (below).
Krishna Voice, Dec 2009 21
The artists of Kalakshetra also staged “Sabari
Moksham” from the Ramayana series. The dance
drama follows the epic story from the entry of
Shoorpanaka, the ten-headed Ravana’s sister, her
punishment for trying to harm Sita (left), Ravana’s
resolve to kidnap the celestially beautiful Sita (above)
and the tricks that he orders the demon Maricha in
the guise of a golden deer to employ, to take Rama
and Lakshmana away, leaving Sita unprotected
22 Krishna Voice, Dec 2009
The eagle king Jatayu battles Ravana to save Sita (above) but in vain. His wings are cut off by the
demon and he stays alive only long enough to inform Rama that she was carried away towards the
South by Ravana (below).
Krishna Voice, Dec 2009 23
After Sita is kidnapped by Ravana in his flying chariot (above) Rama and Lakshmana search
the forest. The old ascetic, Sabari, has waited all her life to see Rama, the object of her
meditation and worship. She offers Him her simple hospitality but wins Him with her devotion
and she attains liberation by His transcendental association (below).
24 Krishna Voice, Dec 2009