Fix Your Mind on Krishna
There's only one sure way to control the mind's desires
A lecture given in Bombay, January 4, 1975
By His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
vaikarikad vikurvanan manas-tattvam ajayata
yat-sankalpa-vikalpabhyam vartate kama-sambhavah
From the false ego of goodness, another transformation takes place. From this evolves the mind, whose thoughts
and reflections give rise to desire.
The mind is material because it is a product of the transformation of the mode of goodness. Gradually, being
contaminated by different kinds of material desires, the mind becomes degraded. Kama esa krodha esa rajo-guna-
samudbhavah. When the mind deteriorates, from the standard of goodness it comes to rajo-guna. Rajo-guna
means lusty desires, unending desires. And if desires are not fulfilled, then there is krodha, anger. In this way,
kama krodha lobha moha matsarya—lust, anger, greed, illusion, and envy—become prominent, and we become
the servant of these propensities.
This gradual degradation of the mind is called illusion. The business of the mind is sankalpa and vikalpa. Sankalpa
means to decide to do something, and vikalpa means to reject something. Everyone desires peacefulness of mind,
but the nature of the material mind is sankalpa and vikalpa—restlessness.
If you can control the senses by the mystic yogic process, the mechanical endeavor to control the mind, then you
can again be placed in the original spiritual status. That is the purpose of the yoga system. The yoga system is
recommended for a person whose mind is very restless.
Actually, everyone's mind is restless. To bring the mind into a peaceful status is difficult. As long as desires are
there, to bring the mind to complete peace and tranquility is impossible. It is impossible because of sankalpa-
vikalpa. Therefore Kaviraja Gosvami writes in the Chaitanya-charitamrta that even persons who act piously are
not peaceful. There is no question of peace of mind for the sinful. But even those who act piously cannot control
the mind. And those who desire to stop material activities completely, pious or impious, also cannot control the
The first group, those interested in pious activities, are karmis. And those interested in neither pious activities nor
impious activities want to stop all kinds of activities. The Buddhist philosophy, for example, speaks of nirvana:
"Stop the activities of the mind, or desires." But in that status, also, it is not possible to control the mind, though
one may try to meditate. Finally, the yogis also cannot control the mind. So what to speak of the ordinary man,
who is interested in neither pious activities nor liberation nor yogic perfection?
Controlling the Mind
When Krishna advised Arjuna, in the Sixth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, to practice yoga for controlling the mind,
Arjuna refused. Arjuna said, "My dear Krishna, You are advising me to control the mind by practicing yoga, but I
have no such opportunity, because I am a family man. I am also a politician, a member of the royal family. I have
to see to the administration of the kingdom. And besides that, in family life I have to seek my material interest.
So how is it possible for me to control the mind?" Arjuna flatly said:
cancalam hi manah krishna pramathi balavad drdham
tasyaham nigraham manye vayor iva suduskaram
"My dear Krishna, I think the mind is very, very restless." Cancalam hi manah Krishna. "Like a madman." Pramathi.
"And it is very strong. I want to control the mind, but it does not come under my control. That is my position.
Therefore, although You are asking me to control the mind, I think that is more difficult than controlling the wind."
Tasyaham nigraham manye vayor iva suduskaram.
Suppose there is a very strong wind, a cyclone. If you want to stop it, that will not be not possible. Arjuna compared
the mind to a cyclone. How can such a mind be controlled? So Arjuna rejected Krishna's proposal that Arjuna
should control his mind. But to encourage Arjuna, Krishna said that Arjuna should not be disappointed: Because
Arjuna's mind was always engaged in the lotus feet of Krishna, Arjuna is the best of all yogis.
yoginam api sarvesam mad-gatenantar-atmana
Krishna Voice, Mar 2009 5
sraddhavan bhajate yo mam sa me yuktatamo matah
Krishna encouraged Arjuna: "Don't be disappointed, because your mind is always engaged in Me." Arjuna might
be anything, but he was always thinking of Krishna. He was always associating with Krishna. He did not know
anything else but Krishna. That is the position of the first-class yogi. Otherwise, to control the mind from kama,
krodha, lobha, moha, matsarya is not possible. You have to change the position of such activities.
Here it is said kama-sambhavah. Kama means "desire." The mind is restless, always desiring something. So the
best policy to control the mind is to desire to spread Krishna consciousness. Narottama Dasa Thakura has said,
kamah Krishna-karmarpane: engage your desires by working for Krishna.
You cannot be free from desire. That is not possible. Some teachers say, "Become desireless." No, that is not
possible. How can I? If I become desireless I die. As long as I am a living entity, I must desire. I cannot check
desiring. At present we desire to become happy in the material world, to acquire so much money, to acquire this,
to acquire that—that is kama, desire. But if you engage your mind in Krishna's service by thinking of how to spread
Krishna consciousness, how to convince people about Krishna, how to take them to Krishna's desire—if you go
on making plans for spreading Krishna consciousness—then your mind is controlled.
You cannot stop desire. That is not possible. The mind's position is to desire. I desire something, and if I find it
not very palatable, then I reject it. And I accept another desire.
You cannot keep the mind vacant even for a single moment. If by force you try to do that, you are simply laboring.
Therefore Lord Krishna says, kleso 'dhikataras tesam avyaktasakta-cetasam: to engage your mind in the impersonal
or void is very, very difficult.
Busy Making Plans
Everyone is making plans based on desires. In our central government, in India, there is a planning commission.
For the last twenty years they are simply making plans, and no plan has become successful; every plan fails. One
result, for example, is that rice, our staple food, has risen dramatically—to eight rupees per kilogram.
As long as you are materially affected and making plans to get free, material nature is so strong that it will baffle
all your plans and you will have to remain perpetually restless. You make a plan, and it is baffled by the stringent
laws of nature. And at last—making plans, making plans, making plans—one day Time comes and orders, "Please
vacate your presidency, your prime ministership."
A man will try to make successful plans up to the point of death—pralayanta. And then he will entrust everything
to his family. He'll say, "My dear son, my dear daughter, I could not fulfill this plan, so you do it. Now I hand it over
to you." And the son also goes on making plans, plans, plans. But the plans will never be fulfilled.
That is the verdict of the shastra, scripture: durasaya ye bahir-artha-maninah. Durasaya means "success is
impossible." Therefore sankalpa-vikalpa—accepting some plan and then rejecting it—is going on perpetually. The
plans will never be fulfilled, but for making plans I perpetually give up one body and accept another. I give up
residence on one planet and go to another:
urdhvam gacchanti sattva-stha madhye tisthanti rajasah
jaghanya-guna-vrtti-stha adho gacchanti tamasah
There are plans in the modes of goodness, passion, and ignorance. Different plans give different kinds of body
and different residential quarters in different planets.
We have experience even in Bombay. If a man is living here in Bombay for fifty years, how many plans he has
made and how many apartments he has changed. And still, his plan-making business is going on.
Just as this plan-making business is going on in this span of life, it is going on life after life. Intelligent persons
should understand how to stop this unlimited plan-making business. Athato brahma-jijnasa. That is life—when one
is inquisitive to know the broader plan, the Brahman plan. Brahman means "the biggest." If one becomes inquisitive
about the biggest plan, one's real life begins.
With ordinary inquisitiveness we ask, "What is the price of rice today?" or "What is the situation of the strike? What
is the situation of this, that?" That you can ask from the newspaper or from anyone. But for brahma-jijnasa, inquiry
about Brahman, the greatest, where shall you inquire? Will you go to the exchange market or some other market?
No. Tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet. That is the injunction of the Vedas: You must find a guru. Samit-
panih srotriyam brahma-nistham. The guru's qualification is brahma-nistham, "fixed in Brahman." And srotriyam:
one who has heard from the disciplic succession is guru, not just any magician.
Krishna is the original guru. He is the guru of Brahma, the first created being. Who can be a better guru than
Krishna? Tene brahma hrda ya adi-kavaye. He instructed Brahma, Brahma instructed Narada, and Narada instructed
6 Krishna Voice, Mar 2009
Vyasadeva. And Vyasadeva has given us so many books of Vedic literature. That is called the parampara system,
Vyasadeva gave us four Vedas: Sama, Yajur, Rg, and Atharva. He then explained them in the 108 Puranas and
summarized them in the Vedanta-sutra. Then he explained the Vedanta-sutra by writing Srimad-Bhagavatam. In
every chapter of Srimad-Bhagavatam you will find Vyasadeva's statement brahma-sutra-bhashya, "commentary
on Brahma-sutra, or Vedanta-sutra."
Brahma-sutra-bhashya, the commentary on Vedanta-sutra, is not Shankaracarya's bhashya, known as Shariraka-
bhashya. That commentary is artificial. Brahma-sutra was written by Vyasadeva, and because he knew that in
the future so many rascals would misinterpret the Brahma-sutra, he personally compiled the bhashya on Brahma-
sutra. That is Srimad-Bhagavatam. bhashyam brahma-sutranam vedartha-paribrmhitam: "The meaning of the
Vedas is completely described in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the original commentary on Brahma-sutra."
Srimad-Bhagavatam begins with the words of Brahma-sutra: jivasya tattva-jijnasa. As the Brahma-sutra says
athato brahma-jijnasa, the Bhagavatam says jivasya tattva-jijnasa: "The living entity's only business is to inquire
about the Absolute Truth." Nartho yas ceha karmabhih: "No other business."
Generally people think, "By becoming religious we shall become economically developed." If you actually follow
dharma, or religious principles, economic development will come. There is no doubt. But we do not know what
dharma is. That is the difficulty. That we have to learn from Krishna—athato brahma-jijnasa—from the guru. And
what does the guru say? What does Krishna say? Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: "Give
up all so-called religion and just surrender unto Me." That is dharma. Anything else is all cheating.
Dharmah projjhita-kaitavah atra. Kaitava means "cheating." And Sridhara Svami, the original commentator on the
Bhagavatam, says, "Moksha is also cheating." Moksha means thinking, "I shall make myself void. I shall finish
my individual existence. I shall merge into the existence of the Absolute." Sridhara Svami says that such thinking
is cheating because you cannot become one with the Supreme. As it is said in the Bhagavad-gita, mamaivamso
jiva-loke jiva-bhutah sanatanah: you are part and parcel of the Supreme. How can you become one?
Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, "My dear Arjuna, I, you, and all the soldiers and kings assembled on this
battlefield were the same individuals in the past, are individuals now, and will continue to remain individuals." So
where is there oneness? In the past, present, and future the individuality is there.
Snuffing out individuality is a concoction. It is called spiritual suicide. If a man becomes disappointed and cuts his
own throat or hangs himself or takes poison, does that mean he is finished? By putting an end to the body does
he put an end to himself? No, that is not possible. He is a rascal, because he does not know na hanyate hanyamane
sarire: "The self is not slain when the body is slain." The result of his suicide is that because he violated the rules
of nature he becomes a ghost. That is his life. One who commits suicide becomes a ghost. He does not get a
gross material body; he remains in the subtle body of mind and intelligence.
Therefore a ghost can go anywhere very quickly because he is in the mind. Mind speed is very swift. If you have
a gross material body you cannot go at once a hundred miles off. But if you are in the mental body, you can go a
thousand miles within a second. So ghosts can do wonderful things. But they are not happy, because they have
no gross body. They want to enjoy. The ghost is a materialist. He has committed suicide for some material want.
He could not fulfill that want in his body, so he committed suicide. But the desire is still there, and he cannot fulfill
it. He becomes perplexed. Therefore ghosts sometimes create disturbances.
Engaging the Mind
Desires cannot be finished. Kama-sambhavah. Therefore the best thing is to fix your mind on Krishna, in Krishna
consciousness. Then you will be happy, the mind always engaged in Krishna's business, planning how to satisfy
That is intelligence. Krishna wants everyone to surrender unto Him. When Krishna says, sarva-dharman parityajya
mam ekam saranam vraja, He does not speak only to Arjuna; He speaks to everyone. So that is Krishna's desire,
and if you want to serve Krishna, to fulfill His desire, that means you canvass everyone to surrender to Krishna.
That is preaching. Krishna wants it. He has declared so.
Your business is to satisfy Krishna. Why don't you do it? Why are you aspiring after mukti, siddhi, and bhukti—
liberation, mystic perfection, and material enjoyment?
Anyone executing pious activities, acquiring punya, will go to the heavenly planets. That is sense gratification. In
the heavenly planets you live for many thousands of years, many millions of years, and get the association of
apsaras, or celestial dancing girls, a very nice standard of life, and so on. These are all personal comforts, bhukti.
To go to the heavenly planet means to achieve a standard of life millions of times better than on this planet. This
Krishna Voice, Mar 2009 7
planet is Bhurloka. As you go up and up you come to Bhuvarloka, Svarloka, Janaloka, Maharloka, Tapoloka,
Brahmaloka—so many lokas, or planets. Urdhvam gacchanti sattva-sthah. If you increase your mode of goodness,
then you are gradually promoted to a more and more comfortable situation.
If you go to Siddhaloka, at once you become a perfect yogi. The yogis try to get some material power, or siddhi.
For example, if one gets prapti-siddhi, whatever he likes he can get at once. And people will come to him, "Oh,
here is God. He is creating rasagulla*." [Laughter.]
A yogi in Benares will make two rasagullas appear in a pot when anyone comes to see him. And even big, big
men become surprised—"Oh, here is God." They don't ask, "What is the price of these rasagullas?" Say, four
cents? So by jugglery of four cents he became God. This rascaldom is going on. By jugglery of four cents, eight
cents, or four hundred, or four thousand—if one can make some jugglery, then he becomes God. This is foolishness.
Therefore Krishna says that this kind of yoga practice is simply cheating. Krishna describes the first-class yogi:
yoginam api sarvesam mad-gatenantar-atmana. One who thinks always of Krishna—"Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna"—
is a first-class yogi.
Hear from a Devotee
Some foolish people are cheated by yogic jugglery, and the yogi gets some material position. But there are many
ways to get some material position. Even a politician may attract many millions of people to hear him speak. But
what is the benefit of such hearing? First of all we have to see what is the benefit. Sravanam kirtanam visnoh. If
you are interested in hearing lectures, then shastra says, "Hear of Vishnu," not of any rascal. Hear from a Vaishnava,
a devotee of the Lord. Then you will be benefited. Otherwise you will not be benefited. Avaisnavo gurur na syat.
That is the injunction of the shastra. One who is an aVaishnava, a non-Vaishnava, cannot become guru.
Sat-karma-nipuno vipro mantra-tantra-visaradah. A brahmana may be very expert in sat-karma, six occupational
duties: patana, patana, yajana, yajana, dana, and pratigraha. Patana means that a brahmana must be a very, very
learned scholar by reading Vedic literature. Patana means that he must teach others the Vedic literature.
Formerly it was the custom that brahmanas not accept service under anyone. They would sit down anywhere and
open a school to teach Vedic literature. And the students would go door to door for begging—"Mother, give me
some alms." Whatever they would bring would be cooked and offered to Krishna, and the prasadam would be
distributed amongst themselves. That was the traditional process of education—not paying some fee and giving
some bribe to enter school and then receiving a rascal education. No. First-class education, without any fee, from
the realized soul—that was the educational system, varnasrama-dharma.
So we have to find out such a guru—a Vaishnava. shastra says, sat-karma-nipuno vipro mantra-tantra-visaradah.
The brahmana must not only be expert in six kinds of occupational duty, but also mantra-tantra-visaradah: "He
must know Vedic mantras and tantras—chants and rituals—perfectly well." Avaisnavo gurur na sa syat: "But if he
is an aVaishnava, he cannot be a guru." An aVaishnava does not believe in the Supreme Personality of Godhead
Vishnu, or he believes that demigods, such as Lord Shiva or Lord Brahma, the best of the demigods, are equal
to Vishnu. For example, Ravana was a very learned scholar and the son of a brahmana. And he was economically
developed. His only fault was that he was an aVaishnava: he did not care for Lord Rama. So he is designated a
rakshasa, an uncivilized atheist.
One who is not a devotee of Vishnu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, cannot become a guru. That is not
possible. And Vaishnavah sva-paco guruh. Sva-paca means the dog-eaters, chandalas, the lowest of mankind.
Candalo 'pi dvija-srestho hari-bhakti-parayanah. If somehow or other such a person has become a Vaishnava,
then he can become guru. But the expert brahmana who is not a Vaishnava cannot.
Krishna says, "Anyone who takes shelter of Me, even if he belongs to the papa-yoni—the chandalas—is eligible
to go back home, back to Godhead."
One should not consider whether a Vaishnava is born of a low family, not a brahmana family. Such a consideration
is naraki-buddhi, hellish. Sri Sanatana Gosvami says:
avaishnava-mukhodgirnam putam hari-kathamrtam
sravanam na kartavyam sarpocchistam yatha payah
If an avaishnava, a Mayavadi, speaks about Bhagavatam or Bhagavad-gita, one should not hear his speech. One
should avoid it because it will create some misunderstanding. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has forbidden strongly—
mayavadi-bhashya sunile haya sarva-nasa: "If one hears from a Mayavadi impersonalist about Bhagavad-gita or
Srimad-Bhagavatam, then one is doomed." Therefore, tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet: one should
approach a Vaishnava to accept him as guru and then take lessons from him and make one's life successful.
Thank you very much.
8 Krishna Voice, Mar 2009
SRILA PRABHUPADA SPEAKS OUT
Shattering "The Silence Of The Absolute"
This exchange between His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and an official from an
impersonalist ("God-is-simply-everyone-and-everything") movement took place in Paris, on August 13, 1973, with
Srila Prabhupada's disciples translating the official's remarks from French.
Official: Our movement is very well known in the United Official: This ultimate consciousness is one of union
States. Have you never come across our society? with the Absolute. It is one of light, of samadhi, of total
love. This is the highest.
Srila Prabhupada: What is the aim of your movement?
Srila Prabhupada: "Love." When we speak of love,
Official: The evolution of man.
there must be two persons. So what is your philosophy?
Srila Prabhupada: "The evolution of man." So man is
Official: The love of which I am speaking is a love that
going to evolve more? What is that ultimate "evolution"?
binds everything together, that bathes everything in light
What is your movement about?
Official: A reintegration of man with the cosmos, or
Srila Prabhupada: Cosmic consciousness. We also
believe in individual consciousness and cosmic
consciousness. We are now studying this subject matter
in our class. Ksetra-jna: the individual soul is a knower—
conscious—and the Supersoul, God, is also
conscious. So we also admit: universal
consciousness. That is God's consciousness. But
our consciousness is limited.
Official: Our movement is studying the same
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. So that is real evolution:
when our consciousness is in agreement with the
supreme consciousness. That is Krishna
Official: Ours is a mystical and philosophical order
that allows its students to achieve the perfection
Srila Prabhupada: So what is the
ideal of that perfection of
Official: It is love.
"Love." That's nice. Very
good. So the supreme
consciousness and our
i n d i v i d u a l
when they are in
exchange of love,
that is perfection. Is
Srila Prabhupada: So there is no action? Official: Nirvana means something different for us.
Official: No, there is action. Srila Prabhupada: What is that?
Srila Prabhupada: What are those activities? Official: It is an entering into something that is alive
Srila Prabhupada: Nirvana—this is a Sanskrit word.
Srila Prabhupada: Giving—and taking, also.
Nirvana means "finish."
Official: There is giving. There is also taking. But the
person who has achieved this ultimate perfection— Official: For us, the word nirvana means an end, but
whenever he takes, he immediately gives it to someone an end to this material existence and an entrance into
else. the silence of the Absolute: onto a level that is real,
whereas this one is false. This one is rejected.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes. The transaction between two
lovers: the first gives; the second takes. Sometimes the Srila Prabhupada: Why "silence"?
second gives and the first takes. This is exchange. Official: The term "entering into silence" is a mystic
Similarly, I give my beloved something to eat, and he term.
also gives me something to eat. And again, I disclose
my mind unto my beloved; my beloved also discloses Srila Prabhupada: You cannot explain it.
her or his mind. These are loving exchanges. Official: It is indescribable, because it is something that
Official: I understand that we are talking of love meaning is arrived at inside, through meditation. You can't really
two persons, but why can't we think of love in terms of describe it in words.
an exchange between man and everything? Between Srila Prabhupada: Why? You are describing so many
man and the cosmos? things in words, and yet the ultimate goal you cannot
Srila Prabhupada: As you say, cosmos means describe.
consciousness. And consciousness means persons,
the Supreme Person and His subordinates. For instance,
I may want to love a whole tree, with all its leaves and
twigs. Now, if I pour water on the root of the tree, it goes
to the leaves, twigs, branches automatically. So if we
love the supreme consciousness, the Supreme Person,
who has got universal or cosmic consciousness, then
automatically our service goes to everyone, everywhere.
Official: This is also our philosophy.
Srila Prabhupada: But you cannot love everyone and
anyone or everything without finding out the original
source of everything.
Official: Our order is a school that teaches its students
to progress, step by step, toward that ultimate source
of all sources.
Srila Prabhupada: What are those steps?
Official: It is a gradual progress. Our students come,
they receive initiation, and then they are guided. They
are given certain principles, and then gradually, at their
own rate, by their own powers, they ultimately arrive at
Srila Prabhupada: So, what is that ideal of perfection?
Official: That ideal of perfection is nirvana. It is the
kingdom of Lord Jesus Christ. It is the ultimate point for
which all men are ultimately striving.
Srila Prabhupada: So, what is that? Nirvana means
zero. Everyone is striving for zero?
Krishna Voice, Mar 2009 11
Sour Grapes and the Vine of Vedic Knowledge By Satyaraja Dasa
Does Krishna consciousness promote a pessimistic experience or a dismal one. Optimists see the cup as
worldview? half full, whereas pessimists see it as half empty. These
“Oouuuch!” two types of people view the same phenomenon
differently. Where would one place the devotees of
My dentist probably expected a more meaningful Krishna? Are they pessimists?
exchange, perhaps simple pleasantries or a friendly
conversation. After all, he hadn’t seen me for quite some No, they are not. True, they are aware of the miseries
time. But I was here to get down to business, and so of material existence, but that’s called knowledge in the
was he. No time for light talk. mode of goodness. Knowledge in the mode of ignorance,
by contrast, is beleaguered by obliviousness—blindness
“Let’s see,” he said, looking into my mouth as if searching to the pain and suffering that are very real components
for gold. “You need a few fillings. Hmm. Root canal, for of the material world. In other words, Krishna
sure, and definitely a bridge, right back here.” consciousness has much to say about the darker side
It was precisely at this point that the oouuch blurted out of life, about the perils of being caught in a temporary
of my mouth. He poked once too often. material body. At first blush, therefore, Krishna
consciousness might appear pessimistic. But a deeper
“Come on,” I started. “The idea of all that dental work
look reveals that it transcends the usual duality of
is depressing—it’s going to cost way too much, and it’s
optimism and pessimism altogether. Rather, it is what
probably gonna hurt.”
I would call “realism,” or, better yet, “spiritual realism.”
“I’m not saying this to depress you,” he said, shaking That is to say, it is balanced. This is so because it is not
his head. “That’s not my motivation. These are the facts. a product of the usual conditioned responses, positive
Your teeth need attention, and they need it now.” or negative, but it is instead the spiritual consciousness
That sent my mind back to a conversation I had had bequeathed to us by the saints and sages of the past.
the day before, at the Sunday feast in the Brooklyn Hare Indeed, Krishna consciousness is like a precious gem,
Krishna temple. I was explaining certain basic points of originally revealed by God Himself, and then passed
Krishna conscious philosophy to a newcomer, telling down by self-realized souls in disciplic succession, in
her that the world is a place of misery, wherein repeated an esoteric lineage created by God to help all conditioned
birth and death take place. We all go through birth, souls reach the ultimate spiritual truth.
death, old age, and disease, I reminded her, and we all Pessimism and the Western Philosophical Tradition
suffer from threefold miseries: those caused by our own
In popular language, the term pessimist is applied to
bodies and minds, by the bodies and minds of others,
people who habitually view life with intense melancholy,
and by natural calamities.
who view painful experiences as almost desirable—at
“Why are you so negative?” she asked. least in the sense that they wouldn’t know how to live
A bit surprised by her reaction, I explained that the any other way. Pain is familiar to them. In addition, such
negative philosophy at the base of Krishna people generally have little corresponding appreciation
consciousness is only a starting point. Using this as a for the pleasurable or positive side of life. Alternatively,
foundation—that the material world can be a nasty pessimists sometimes do want happiness in the normal,
place—Krishna consciousness goes on to explain how positive sense of the word, but they are doubtful about
life can be truly blissful, not only in some hopeful future the possibility of achieving it. These are two classic
life but also within our own lifetime, in the here and now. kinds of pessimism.
But now, sitting in my dentist’s chair, I sounded a lot like As a philosophical system, Pessimism addresses the
that young woman. My dentist was only giving me the presence of evil in the world, the built-in torment resulting
facts, explaining the state of rot in my mouth. from material limitations. Loved ones leave or die,
Nonetheless, I found it necessary to rebel, to insist that situations to which we become attached soon change,
he was being overly negative. Similarly, when I mentioned fundamental anxieties find their way into our lives,
the obvious truth of life in an ever-decaying material especially that black hole of our own mortality—all cause
world, my new friend at the temple needed to respond suffering on both gross and subtle levels. In the West
in kind, as if I was distorting the facts just to depress the philosopher Leibniz taught that pain is integral to
her. finite and temporary existence. For example, he said,
we don’t want to see the end of pleasure, love, and life,
Optimists, Pessimists, and Realists and yet end they must. The principle from which pain
People usually fall into one of two categories: optimists and evil arise—the temporary quality of all things
or pessimists. They view life as being basically a happy material—is thus viewed as an essential part of nature.
Krishna Voice, Mar 2009 17
This idea is clear in Buddhist thought as well, where actually inquiring about their position, as to what they
the Four Noble Truths categorize suffering in various are, why they are put into this awkward position, and
ways along with a coherent system for the cessation of so on. Unless one is awakened to this position of
suffering. And it is also taught in the Bhagavad-gita, questioning his suffering, unless he realizes that he
upon which Krishna consciousness rests. doesn’t want suffering but rather wants to make a solution
Arthur Schopenhauer is considered one of the fathers to all suffering, then one is not to be considered a perfect
of Pessimism as a philosophical school of thought. His human being. Humanity begins when this sort of inquiry
words, at least in regards to suffering, merely echo the is awakened in one’s mind.” (Bhagavad-gita As It Is,
truths found in the Vedic literature. Ultimately, Introduction)
Schopenhauer tells us, “All life is suffering.” He explains The final sentence in the above quote reveals something
this by noting that everything that lives has desire, wants, about the purpose of suffering in the material world. It
and needs. “Life wants,” he says, “and because its is meant to act as an impetus for the human being to
wants are mostly unfulfilled, it exists largely in a state inquire about God consciousness. After lifetimes of
of unfulfilled striving and deprivation.” various kinds of suffering, the wise begin to ask, “What’s
His analysis reminds me of something I said to my life all about? Why am I here? Why should I go on
dentist: All materialistic endeavors for happiness fall suffering?” These questions separate humankind from
into three broad categories, and they all result in misery: the animals.
(1) You try for happiness and don’t achieve it. You’re In Srila Prabhupada’s books he often reveals a kind of
miserable for obvious reasons. (2) You try for happiness hierarchy of consciousness. On the most fundamental
and achieve it, but it doesn’t live up to your expectations. level, he says, one believes that the world is safe, that
Again you’re miserable. (3) You try for happiness and lasting pleasure exists here, and that one can live happily
get it, and it does live up to your expectations. But you ever after. But he quickly adds that a life based on such
lose it after some time. Is there any form of material thinking is like animal life, where eating, sleeping, mating,
happiness that doesn’t fit into one of these three and defending are the primary activities and one has
categories? little time to pursue God consciousness. Human beings,
“And even that which we call ‘happiness,’” says he tells us, must move on from this basic, animalistic
Schopenhauer, “is really only a temporary cessation of mentality. And if they advance even a little, he says,
some particular suffering.” then they adopt something of a pessimistic view of life,
acknowledging the limitations of material happiness, its
All satisfaction, or what is commonly called happiness,
shallowness and its temporary nature.
is really and essentially always negative only, and never
positive. It is not a gratification which comes to us Significantly, however—and this is the main point—
originally and of itself, but it must always be the Prabhupada also talks about a yet higher level of
satisfaction of a wish. For desire, that is to say, want, existence, wherein one bids adieu to pessimism and
is the precedent condition of every pleasure; but with becomes situated in Krishna consciousness. From this
the satisfaction, the desire and therefore the pleasure perspective, life is full of meaning, full of purpose, full
cease; and so the satisfaction or gratification can never of bliss. It begins while serving Krishna in the material
be more than deliverance from a pain, from a want. world, and carries on when we attain His supreme
The Vedic tradition articulates this same idea. Srila kingdom.
Prabhupada often referred to happiness in the material Not Naive Optimists
world as merely “the cessation of misery.” He used the Overall, devotees believe in hope rather than despair,
analogy of the dunking stool. To punish evil-doers, tolerance rather than fear. They believe in love and not
officers of the court used to tie criminals to a see-saw hatred, compassion not selfishness, beauty not ugliness,
kind of dunking stool, easing them down into water and and realized knowledge not blind faith or irrationality.
then, periodically, lifting them up again. Gasping for air, They believe in working hard for the true betterment of
the convicted felon would enjoy the simple act of humankind, and they give their time and life to help
breathing as if it were the greatest pleasure. Likewise, other people. These are not the virtues of the pessimist.
Prabhupada taught, because the material world is so
devoid of any real enjoyment —of any substantive But devotees aren’t naive optimists either. They don’t
pleasure—the titillating sensations of the body and mind believe that all humans will necessarily pursue higher
seem alluring, like a few precious breaths to a drowning goals. Krishna consciousness is a pragmatic
person. philosophy—humans are not necessarily good or evil
but they do have the capacity for both. For this reason
So Are Devotees Pessimistic? Srila Prabhupada set up his institution (ISKCON) to
It is clear from Srila Prabhupada’s books that suffering encourage the ultimate good while discouraging not
is integral to material existence: “Out of so many human only the overtly evil but also goodness diluted by
beings who are suffering, there are a few who are materialism.
18 Krishna Voice, Mar 2009
On that point many may look at devotees somewhat Prabhupada concludes:
askance, wondering why they are not more involved in Knowledge means understanding how the supreme
social work or altruistic endeavors. The truth is, devotees controller is controlling. People who defy religion and
favor these things, but they prefer to spiritualize them, deny the existence of a supreme controller are like the
to bring them to the next level by using them in Krishna’s jackal that keeps jumping and jumping, trying to reach
service. For example, devotees believe in feeding people, grapes on a high vine. After seeing that he cannot reach
but they insist on feeding them Krishna prasadam, the grapes, he says to himself, “Oh, there is no need to
sumptuous vegetarian cuisine that has been offered to reach them. They are sour anyway.” People who say
Krishna with love. Prasadam distribution is the epitome that we do not need to understand God are indulging
of food distribution because it nourishes people both in sour grape philosophy.
materially and spiritually. Devotees favor this kind of Prabhupada here turns the “devotee as pessimist” idea
holistic endeavor, one they believe can help people on its head. He sees the materialist as pessimistic—as
overcome evil and pain. rejecting God because of a “sour grapes” kind of
And that’s the question: How are we supposed to philosophy. Indeed, from the Vedic perspective the
overcome evil and human suffering? Many traditional devotees have the greatest hope for humankind—to
religions teach that we can overcome these only in an engage them in Krishna’s service—while the materialists
afterlife where a benevolent God rules in His paradisiacal are hopeless, having given up the quest to understand
kingdom. Krishna consciousness, however, rejects the God. And in this hopelessness they sometimes view
idea that we must wait for some pie-in-the-sky future. devotees as negative.
Yes, those who are Krishna conscious have secured a But devotees value this world more than anyone else,
place for themselves in the hereafter, with Krishna in because they see it in relation to God. Some people
the spiritual world. But that is not their chief concern. will be pleased by this vision: “Right. It is important to
Instead, Prabhupada taught devotees that the fight see God in His creation. But why, then, do you devotees
against human suffering and evil must occur here and tend to emphasize the Creator instead?” The reason is
now. Since each of us is responsible for that which goes quite simple: Devotees know that focusing on the creation
wrong in our lives, we are also responsible for making can distract a person from the Creator. Therefore,
things right. Krishna consciousness teaches that we devotees emphasize the Creator to help one avoid the
can indeed make things right, but only if we surrender pitfall of becoming sidetracked. Until one learns to focus
to God, with a heart full of love and devotion. Devotees on God, the relationship between Him and His creation
try to do that in their own lives, and they teach others remains an abstraction. This is not sour grapes; it’s just
the same principle. a fact of life.
Apr 21 Ekadashi Apr 27 Akshaya Tritiya
Apr 22 break fast Chandana Yatra begins
May 5 Ekadashi May 8 Narasimha Chaturdashi
May 6 break fast Appearance day of Lord Narasimha
Fasting till dusk
Krishna Voice, Mar 2009 19
Why Krishna Appears as Jagannatha By Narada Rishi Dasa
In a unique form, Lord Krishna is worshiped in a famous temple in Puri, India, and at Ratha Yatras (chariot festivals)
there and around the world.
I was born in a conservative Orissan Vaishnava family Then a voice from the sky proclaimed, “Release the
in Puri, on the east coast of India. The Supreme Lord savara and build a big temple for Me on top of Nila Hill.
Jagannatha and His devotees were at the center of my There you will see Me, not as Nila Madhava, but in a
life. As a child, I played with dolls of Jagannatha, form made of neem wood.”
Baladeva (Balarama), and Subhadra, the deities in the
Nila Madhava promised to appear as wood (daru), and
famous Puri temple. I still remember how my mother
thus He is called daru-brahma (“wood-spirit”).
gave me enormous plates of Jagannatha prasadam
Indradyumna waited by the ocean, where the Lord
and told me to always remember the Lord. I saw how
arrived as a giant log floating toward the beach.
the simple and devoted Orissan people—even doctors,
engineers, and scientists—never neglect to honor Lord Disguised an old man, Vishvakarma, the architect of
Jagannatha. I watched how the king of Puri becomes the demigods, arrived to carve the deities under the
a humble servant and sweeps the street before condition that he would remain undisturbed for twenty-
Jagannatha’s cart during the yearly Rathayatra, or one days. King Indradyumna consented, and the artist
festival of the chariots. worked behind locked doors. Before the time period
was up, however, the noise stopped, and King
Lord Jagannatha may look peculiar and strange to the
Indradyumna’s intense curiosity prompted him to open
Western world, but He is the life and soul of the Orissans.
the doors. Vishvakarma had disappeared. In the room,
Even though I attended the Rathayatra festival for many
the three deities of Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra
years in my youth, it was not until I met the devotees
looked as if unfinished—without hands or feet—and
of ISKCON that my devotion for Jagannatha deepened.
Indradyumna became greatly perturbed, thinking he
Now Jagannatha is worshiped in many ISKCON temples
had offended the Lord.
around the world, and I have grown to see Him as the
most merciful and charming person who excuses His That night, Jagannatha spoke to the king in a dream
devotees’ offenses and attracts them further along the and reassured him, explaining that He was revealing
path of devotional service. Himself in that form out of His own inconceivable desire,
to show the world that He can accept offerings without
Jagannatha means “Lord of the universe.” Many Vedic
hands, and move around without feet.
books mention that Jagannatha is Krishna. Baladeva
is His brother, and Subhadra is His sister. Lord Jagannatha told the king, “Know for sure that My
hands and feet are the ornament of all ornaments, but
Although Krishna is absolute and transcendental to
for your satisfaction, you may give Me gold and silver
material nature, to accept the loving service of His
hands and feet from time to time.”
devotees He appears before us as the deity in the
temple, in the form of stone, metal, wood, or paint. Devotees now worship the same “unfinished” forms of
Jagannatha is a wooden form of Krishna. Jagannatha, Baladeva, and Subhadra in Puri and in
temples around the world. These forms are part of their
Because Jagannatha does not look like Krishna, people
may wonder how He can be Krishna. Scriptures tell the
story behind Jagannatha’s peculiar form. Transformed by Rohini’s Talks
Jagannatha’s Transcendental Advent The Utkala-khanda of the Skanda Purana gives another
account related to Krishna’s appearance as Jagannatha.
The Skanda Purana relates King Indradyumna’s quest
(Utkala is the traditional name for Orissa.) Once, during
to find a deity form of Krishna after dreaming of a
a solar eclipse, Krishna, Balarama, Subhadra, and other
beautiful blue deity named Nila Madhava. The name
residents of Dwaraka went to bathe in a holy pond at
describes the sapphire color of the deity: Nila means
Kurukshetra. Knowing that Krishna would be there,
blue, and Madhava is one of Krishna’s names. King
Srimati Radharani, Krishna’s parents Nanda and
Indradyumna sent messengers in all directions to find
Yashoda, and other residents of Vrindavana, who were
Nila Madhava, and a brahmana named Vidyapati
burning in the fire of separation from the Lord, went to
returned successful. He discovered that Vishvavasu, a
meet Him. Inside one of the many tents the pilgrims
pig farmer (savara) in a remote tribal village, was secretly
had set up at Kurukshetra, Rohini, Lord Balarama’s
worshiping Nila Madhava. When Vidyapati later returned
mother, narrated Krishna’s Vrindavana pastimes to the
to that place with Indradyumna, however, Nila Madhava
queens of Dwaraka and others.
was gone. King Indradyumna surrounded the village
with his soldiers and arrested Vishvavasu. The residents of Dwaraka are said to be in the mood of
20 Krishna Voice, Mar 2009
opulence (aishvarya), and they worship Krishna as the by hearing about Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavana,
Supreme Lord. But the residents of Vrindavana are in Krishna and Balarama, with Subhadra in between,
the mood of sweetness (madhurya), and they have a displayed their ecstatic forms of Jagannatha, Baladeva,
confidential relationship with Krishna that surpasses and Subhadra.
awe and reverence because it is based on friendship The Lord’s Highest Ecstasy
and love. Rohini’s narration was thus extremely
confidential, so she posted Subhadra at the door to According to the Skanda Purana, the Jyeshtha-purnima,
prevent anyone from entering. the full-moon day of the month of May-June, is the
birthday of Jagannatha. Jagannatha is Krishna, but
Krishna and Balarama came to the door and stood on Krishna’s birthday is Janmashtami, in the month of
Subhadra’s left and right sides. While listening to Rohini’s Bhadra (August-September). This apparent contradiction
narration of Krishna’s intimate Vrindavana pastimes, is resolved if we understand that the Jyeshtha-purnima
Krishna and Balarama became ecstatic, and Their is the time when Krishna appeared in the form of
internal feelings were exhibited externally. Their eyes Jagannatha with big, dilated eyes and shrunken limbs.
became dilated, Their heads compressed into Their This is known as mahabhava-prakasha, the ecstatic
bodies, and Their limbs retracted. Seeing these form of Krishna. Mahabhava means “the highest ecstasy,”
transformations in Krishna and Balarama, Subhadra and prakasha means “manifestation,” so Jagannatha
also became ecstatic and assumed a similar form. Thus, is literally the ecstatic form of Krishna.
Krishna Voice, Mar 2009 21
The poem Mahabhava Prakasha by the Oriyan poet He wears peacock feathers, and on His hips He wears
Kanai Khuntia describes the confidential meaning behind fine yellow silken cloth. From the corners of His eyes
the form of Jagannatha: He is the embodiment of He bestows sidelong glances upon His loving devotees,
Krishna’s pangs of separation from the residents of and He always reveals Himself through His pastimes
Vrindavana, particularly Radha and the gopis. Scriptures in His divine abode of Vrindavana. May that Jagannatha
explain that intense feelings of spiritual ecstasy, especially Svami be the object of my vision.”
in this mood of separation from a loved one, produce
The poetess Madhavi-devi, the sister of Ramananda
transformations in the body. Since Krishna is not different
Raya, writes in one of her songs: “The tender, sweet
from His body, His internal feeling showed externally,
verses of Sri Gita-govinda bearing the name of Radha
and He assumed the form of Jagannatha.
are woven into the khandua [pieces of cloth worn by
The ecstasy of mahabhava is compared to an ocean. Jagannatha each evening], which Lord Jagannatha
In the pastime with King Indradyumna, a giant log floated holds close to His limbs.”
on the ocean. Similarly, the forms of Jagannatha,
The Chaitanya-Chaitanya explains that Krishna came
Balarama, and Subhadra float on the ocean of
as Chaitanya to understand Radharani’s mood. During
Ratha Yatra He danced in ecstasy in front of Lord
When the sage Narada saw Krishna transformed as Jagannatha (Krishna) to get His attention. In reply,
Jagannatha, he prayed to the Lord to appear like this Jagannatha consoled Him: “I never forgot any gopis or
again. Although the Lord is not obliged to anyone, He gopas, and especially You, Srimati Radhika. How can
reciprocates with His devotees to fulfill their desires. In I forget You?”
Garga Samhita Krishna states (1.27.4): “I am full—all
Narada Muni revealed to Gopa-kumara in Brihad-
the epics in one. Yet I surrender to the wish of My
bhagavatamrita (2.5.212–214): “Eternally as dear to Sri
devotee and come in whatever form he wants.” Thus,
Krishnadeva as His beautiful Mathura-dhama is that
just as Krishna appeared as Nila Madhava to satisfy
Purushottama-kshetra. There the Lord displays His
Vishvavasu, He appeared in the deity form as
supreme opulence and yet charms His devotees by
Jagannatha and resides in Jagannatha Puri to satisfy
acting like an ordinary person of the world. And if you
the desire of Narada Muni.
are still not fully satisfied after going there and seeing
This special form of Krishna is also known as Patita Him, then at least stay there for some time as the means
Pavana, the savior of the fallen, and anyone who takes to achieve your desired goal. Of course, your ultimate
His audience with proper consciousness is awarded goal is pure love for the lotus feet of Krishna, the divine
spiritual liberation. gopis’ life and soul—love that follows the mood of the
Jagannatha as Krishna of Vrindavana Lord’s own Vraja-bhumi. You seek no other goal than
that.” Love for Jagannatha is krishna-prema, love of
Although Jagannatha is often identified with Krishna of Krishna, which is our ultimate goal. Krishna has become
Dwaraka, in the mood of opulence, His actual but available to everyone in the form of Jagannatha.
confidential identity is as Krishna of Vrindavana, the
lover of Radharani. The Jagannatha Chaitanyam says, Since Lord Jagannatha is none other than Krishna, His
“Radha stays in the heart of Jagannatha, and so does abode is equal to Vrindavana, where Krishna performs
Sri Krishna.” His childhood pastimes. Jagannatha Puri—also called
Purushottama-kshetra, Sri Kshetra, and Nilachala (“the
Krishna is known by His relationships, especially with place of the blue mountain”)—contains all of Krishna’s
the residents of Vrindavana, and devotees sometimes Vrindavana pastimes (lilas), although they may be hidden
refer to Jagannatha in this way. Jagannatha is considered from material eyes. The Vaishnava-tantra states,
the consort of Radharani, who associates with Krishna “Whatever lilas of Sri Krishna are manifest in Gokula,
only in His mood of Vrindavana. The ecstasy that resulted Mathura, and Dwaraka are all found in Nilachala, Sri
from Krishna’s love for Radharani caused Krishna’s Kshetra.”
transformation into the form of Jagannatha.
By having the proper spiritual vision—eyes anointed by
The Oriyan poet Banamali sings, “O Jagannatha, pure love of Godhead, krishna-prema—one can see all
Yashoda’s dear foster son, Your Radha is like the chataka the pastimes of Krishna there.
bird, drinking only the pure raindrops You shower as
Your grace.” Jagannatha is no one else but the ecstatic manifestation
of Krishna, who appears in His most merciful form to
In Vrindavana, Krishna assumes the graceful three-fold help us go home, back to Godhead. Therefore, Srila
bending form (tribanga-lalita), and He wears a peacock Prabhupada has introduced the Jagannatha Rathayatra
feather and plays His flute. The Jagannathashtakam in many cities around the world to uplift the conditioned
(verse 2) identifies Jagannatha with this mood: “In His souls from the spell of maya (illusion). Let us take
left hand Lord Jagannatha holds a flute, on His head advantage of the occasion.
22 Krishna Voice, Mar 2009
Gaura Purnima - 2009
The utsava vigrahas of Sri Sri Nitai Gauranga
leave the main temple hall in procession to
circumambulate Hare Krishna Hill with Their
devotees performing sankirtana on the
occasion of Lord Gauranga’s appearance day,
Sri Gaura Purnima.
Abhisheka to Their Lordships
Maha sankirtana on
Hare Krishna Hill
24 Krishna Voice, Mar 2009
The FOLK members performed a drama “Victory in Navadvip” enacting the pastimes of Lord Chaitanya
conquering Chand Kazi.
Krishna Voice, Mar 2009 25
Krishna Voice Monthly Magazine, April 2009 Vol10, No.4 Price Rs 15/-
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