The Soul of the Universe
How to understand the universe
as the external body of God
A lecture given in Los Angeles, October 5, 1972
by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
etad rupam bhagavato
hy arupasya cid-atmanah
The conception of the virat universal form of the Lord, as appearing in the material world, is imaginary. It is to
enable the less intelligent [and neophytes] to adjust to the idea of the Lord's having form. But factually the Lord
has no material form.
This is a very important verse. When we speak of "formless" we mean that God or the living entities—all of us—
have no material form. Our present form—our body—is temporary, and after death it will never come again. As
soon as this form is finished, I will have to take another form. And that form may not be exactly like this one.
Unlike us, Krishna has no material form. He has a spiritual form. Therefore His form is eternal. Because our form
changes, we do not remember our past lives. But Krishna remembers because His form does not change.
The evidence for this appears in Krishna's teachings in the Bhagavad-gita. Arjuna asked Krishna, "How can I
believe that You spoke this philosophy of Bhagavad-gita to the sun-god 400 million years ago?"
Krishna replied, "Yes, you were also present there, because you are My constant companion. But you have
forgotten; I remember."
As long as our form stays the same we do not forget things. But when our form changes we forget. We experience
this every night. My form is lying on the bed, but I am dreaming in a different form: I am flying in the sky and
forgetting that my real form is lying on the bed. We forget "I am American" or "I am the son of such and such
gentleman." We forget everything. As soon as the form is forgotten, then everything is forgotten.
The impersonalists are very fond of the universal form. But what is the universal form? It is an external expansion
of the supreme form, Krishna. We living entities are very minute spiritual forms. Materially we cannot understand
this. We cannot see the spiritual form with our material eyes. But we get information from the shastra, scriptures.
Shastra says that the size of the living entity is one ten-thousandth the tip of a hair. Just imagine the tip of a hair,
and divide it into ten thousand parts. One such part is the size of the living entity.
satadha kalpitasya ca
bhago jivah sa vijneyah
sa canantyaya kalpate
"When the upper point of a hair is divided into one hundred parts and again each of such parts is further divided
into one hundred parts, each such part is the measurement of the dimension of the spirit soul." (Shvetashvatara
Upanishad 5.9) That is the dimension of the living entity.
That atomic particle of spiritual energy takes shelter by superior control. When a person dies, the spirit soul is
taken to the court of judgment of Yamaraja, the lord of death. And according to the living entity's previous actions,
he is then given a new body for his next life.
How? The Srimad-Bhagavatam states, karmana daiva-netrena: "by superior arrangement." When you work
somewhere, your service record is kept. So many things are judged. At the end of the year, or at the end of some
period, the service record is checked, and you are given a promotion. Similarly, all our activities are being recorded.
And after death we are taken to the court of Yamaraja for the day of judgement. As the higher authority, Yamaraja
decides what kind of body we shall get.
Krishna Voice, Jan 2010 5
You cannot say, "Now give me the body of a king." Now you are an American, but you cannot dictate, "Give me
another American body—as the son of Rockefeller." No. What you have done will be judged, and you will get your
next body accordingly.
Of course, you have received your present opportunities because of past pious activities. To take birth in a rich
family or nation is due to pious activity. Janmaishvarya-shruta-sribhih. Janma (birth), aishvarya (riches), shruta,
(education), and sri (beauty)—these things are obtained according to past activities. Not that everyone becomes
educated. There is no such chance.
Nothing by Chance
We were discussing this morning how nothing happens by chance. Everything depends on some cause. Not that
by chance anyone becomes a very rich man. No. One has to work for it. Not that by chance one becomes very
educated. These things are not chances. So if there is no chance, then there must be a cause, and there must
be judgment. Otherwise why is one man born rich while another man works hard but has to sleep in the street?
By superior judgment the small spiritual particle—the living entity—is transferred to the semen of a particular father.
Then the living entity is injected into the womb of the mother, the male and female secretions combine, and the
living entity develops a body. This is the science. If you use contraceptives, that means you contaminate the
emulsion, and the poor living entity cannot take shelter there. You cannot kill the living soul, but you make the
circumstances unfavorable for his staying. Then he has to be transferred to another womb.
After conception the body develops. That we can see. Not that on the day of pregnancy the body develops at once.
No. First it is just like a small pea, then gradually it develops. After birth the child also develops. That is not really
development but transmigration from one body to another. For example, in a cinema film there are many pictures,
but when they are moved very swiftly we see the action. Similarly, the process of our change of body is so swift
that we cannot perceive it. We think the body is growing. But the body is not growing; we are getting different
Krishna's External Body
So our point is that the small spiritual spark develops the body. Similarly, the huge gigantic body of the universal
form is the development of Krishna's external body. As your bodily functions go on nicely because the spiritual
spark is within, similarly all material activities in the universe are going nicely because of the presence of the
Supreme Lord. The rascal scientists cannot understand that our bodily functions are going on nicely only as long
as the spirit soul is there. But any sane man can understand this. Similarly, the big manifestation of the material
world is going on nicely because Krishna is there. That is explained in the Bhagavad-gita.
Arjuna asks, "Krishna, kindly explain how Your energies are acting."
Krishna explains in the Tenth Chapter. Then He says,
atha va bahunaitena
kim jnatena tavarjuna
vistabhyaham idam krtsnam
ekamsena sthito jagat
"Arjuna, I shall go on explaining how My energies are working, but you can summarize that I—in one of My plenary
portions—enter the material world, and therefore it is going on so nicely." (Bg. 10.42)
As our material body is not our real form, the universal form is not Krishna's real form. Our body is described as
a garment. A garment is made when there is a real form. Because you have arms, your coat has arms. But you
are not the coat. Similarly, because we are spiritual forms we grow our hands and legs and head and so on. We
are materially "coated."
The Great and the Small
Here it is explained that people are very fond of the universal form. They cannot imagine that a person—Krishna
is a person—can work so wonderfully. They think that He is very small, like us. They do not understand that we
are like a small fire and Krishna is like a big fire. A spark can burn only a small area of your cloth, but a big fire
can burn so much more. Similarly, although God and we are qualitatively one, He is great and we are small.
We have the same qualities as God but in very small quantity. We can play very wonderfully by inventing some
machine, say the capsule that goes to the moon. Or we float something in the sky. But that is imitation of God.
God is floating gigantic planets like the sun and moon in space. You cannot do that. You can float a small sputnik.
6 Krishna Voice, Jan 2010
You have creative power, and God has creative power, but God's creative power cannot be compared with your
creative power. You cannot become God. You can imitate or do something very small—just like little children
playing with little toys. You can play with little toys and advertise yourself as a great scientist. That's all. But you
are nothing. That is to be realized.
That realization is called bhakti-yoga. The rascals are puffed up—"I am God." Foolish. How can you be God? You
may have some very minute quality of God, but you cannot claim you are God. A small particle of gold is gold,
but it cannot be compared with the gold mine.
People very much appreciate the gigantic universal form. They think, "Oh! Why shall I worship Krishna? I worship
the gigantic universal form." But this gigantic form is a product of Krishna's energy. They do not know that. Here
it is said, maya-gunair viracitam: by Krishna's material energy the universal form is created. The material energy—
as much as the spiritual energy—comes from Krishna's body.
Whatever we see consists of different energies of Krishna. In the Vishnu Purana it is said,
jyotsna vistarini yatha
parasya brahmanah saktis
tathedam akhilam jagat
The vast universal form you are seeing is nothing but parasya brahmanah saktih, the manifestation of the energy
of the Supreme Person. How? The example is given, eka-desa-sthitasyagneh: just like fire. Take the example of
the sun, the biggest fire within the universe. The sun is situated in one place, but the sunshine is distributed
everywhere. The sunshine may cover the whole universe, but that is not very important. The sun globe is important.
Similarly, Krishna is playing with the gopis, the cowherd girls, in His spiritual abode Goloka Vrindavana, and His
shine is creating the whole universe. Not that because Krishna is playing there He is absent elsewhere. No. Goloka
eva nivasaty akhilatma-bhutah: Krishna is in Goloka Vrindavana, but He is present everywhere. That is Krishna.
I am sitting here, so I am not in my apartment. That is my position. But Krishna's position is that although He is
always in Goloka Vrindavana, He is present everywhere.
How? Andantara-stha-paramanu-cayantara-stham: He is within every universe and every atom. That is Krishna.
Don't think that because Krishna is playing as a cowherd boy or as a friend of the gopis He is an ordinary man.
The rascals imitate Krishna. They say, "Oh, Krishna has enjoyed the gopis? Oh, let me gather some young girls
We say, "But first you become universally represented everywhere. Then you enjoy."
But the rascal cannot do that. He can simply imitate how to be in the midst of young girls and enjoy. That is the
Thank you very much.
Jan 26 Ekadashi Jan 16 Ratha Yatra in Bangalore
(fasting till noon Jan 22 Sri Advaita Acharya - Appearance
for Varahadeva’s Appearance) fasting till noon
Jan 27 break fast Jan 27 Sri Varahadeva - Appearance
Feb 10 Ekadashi Jan 28 Nityananda Trayodashi
Feb 11 break fast fasting till noon
Feb 3 Srila Bhaktisidhanta Saraswati - Appearance
fasting till noon
Feb 6 Ratha Yatra in Hubli
Feb 13 Ratha Yatra in Dharwad
Krishna Voice, Jan 2010 7
SRILA PRABHUPADA SPEAKS OUT
We Are Offering, ‘Here is GOD’
During a morning walk in Los Angeles on June
25, 1975, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta
Swami speaks on the value of Krishna
consciousness with Dr. J. Stillson Judah, then of
the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley,
Srila Prabhupada: Neither the theosophist nor the
theologian has a clear idea of God. Do you agree?
Dr. Judah: I would make a distinction between
knowing God and knowing about God. There is
knowledge about God in various books, but one
does not know God unless one somehow
experiences God. I feel that this is the one thing
the bhakti movement of Sri Chaitanya has done:
it has allowed its devotees to experience
God, to know Him personally in a way that
changes their lives.
Srila Prabhupada: That is the Vedic
Dr. Judah: Yes.
Srila Prabhupada: Na te viduh
svartha-gatim hi vishnum.
Materialistic persons do not know
8 Krishna Voice, Jan 2010
Vishnu, or God, nor do they know that the ultimate goal gold." Not that the gold has been polluted because it is
of life is to know Vishnu. That knowledge is essential to in a filthy place. If there is some gold in the filthy place,
human life. But it is missing. People do not care to know don't hesitate. Take it.
the ultimate goal of human life. That is their defect.
And nicad apy uttamam vidyam. Generally, people used
Nobody cares to know, especially in this age.
to take education from brahmanas. So Chanakya Pandita
So that is the defeat of human civilization. They have advises, "If actual education is available from a lower-
come to the human form of life. Now they must know class man—a shudra [laborer] or chandala [outcaste]—
what God is. Otherwise, it is defeat. take it. Accept him as your master."
Dr. Judah: That's true. And stri-ratnam duskulad api. In India, according to
Srila Prabhupada: The opportunity is given by nature, Vedic civilization a young man marries a girl only after
which grants the human being good consciousness to scrutinizing her family tradition. But Chanakya advises,
know God, Vishnu. Now, practically, especially in the "If a nice, educated, beautiful girl comes even from an
Western world, no one can say what is God. abominable family, accept her." Ratnam means "jewel."
If the girl is like a jewel although born of a low family,
Dr. Judah: That is quite true. accept her.
Srila Prabhupada: So, if we are offering, "Here is God," One should accept anything very good, even if it is
why do they not accept? What is the objection? available from an undesirable place. So if you are
Dr. Judah: I think the great problem in the Western actually seeking God and God is available from the
world is that it has always been involved in materialism. Vedic literature, why don't you accept it? Why you should
refuse that knowledge? That is not a very good sign.
Srila Prabhupada: That means the people don't want
to know God. That is a very horrible condition. Dr. Judah: No, that is true.
Dr. Judah: That's true. Srila Prabhupada: So we are offering God. Why should
people not take seriously what we are offering?
Srila Prabhupada: Not only horrible—it is the animals'
condition. People who do not want to know God are Now, people may object, "Krishna is Indian, Krishna is
just like the animals. Animals are uninterested in God. Hindu, so we shall not accept Him as God." But in the
They have no church or temple. But in the human Bhagavad-gita it is written sri bhagavan uvaca: "God
society, whether one is Hindu or Muslim or Christian, said." So the verses are the words of God. And Krishna
there is some arrangement for understanding God. Now says, mattah parataram nanyat kincid asti dhananjaya:
people are also neglecting that, all over the world. The "There is no element superior to Me." Only God can
Communists hate to say anything about God. So say that. You may not like the word Krishna, but take
ultimately people are coming to such a condition—no the words of God. Who can be superior to God?
word about God. So that is the condition of ordinary Dr. Judah: That's true.
Srila Prabhupada: So in this way you can read the
Now, apart from them, the theologians and theosophists Bhagavad-gita and remove the word Krishna, and it is
are at least trying to understand God. But they cannot still God's word. It is all factual knowledge. So why
know God definitely. So why don't they accept knowledge should people not take the science of God from
from us? We are offering, "Here is God." Why should Bhagavad-gita?
they object? If you do not know something and if I give
you the information, why should you not take it? Dr. Judah: Yes.
Dr. Judah: That's a good question. Srila Prabhupada: God can say, "There is no principle
superior to Me." And that is stated in Bhagavad-gita:
Srila Prabhupada: For example, to gain higher
technological knowledge, people from India go to foreign mattah parataram nanyat
countries. One can take knowledge from anywhere. kincid asti dhananjaya
There should not be sectarianism: "Oh, why shall I take mayi sarvam idam protam
knowledge from here and there?" Wherever knowledge sutre mani-gana iva
is available, we should take it. That is the real position "O conqueror of wealth, there is no truth superior to Me.
of the seeker of knowledge. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a
Chanakya Pandita says, "If in a pot of poison there is thread." Every word here is God's word. You may accept
a little nectar, take the nectar." And amedhyad api Krishna as God or not, but the words are God's words.
kancanam: "If there is gold in a filthy place, take the That is Bhagavad-gita.
Krishna Voice, Jan 2010 9
Life: Real and Artificial
By Sadaputa Dasa
In Santa Fe, New Mexico, a group of scientists, mainly the future will consist of crystallike arrays of many
from the Los Alamos National Laboratories, held a thousands of microminiature processors, nearly atomic
conference on "Artificial Life." The theme of the in size, all computing at once. Toffoli described such
conference, which I attended, was that the essence of computers as "programmable matter."
life lies not in biological substance but in patterned Indeed (though Toffoli didn't say so), we might regard
organization. matter itself, with its interacting atomic subunits, as such
If this idea is valid, the thinking goes, life forms should a computer. According to this idea, life is already a
be able to set themselves up through many different computer simulation running on the "programmable
types of material stuff. In particular, life should be able matter" of the universe itself.
to exist as a pattern of electronic activity in a computer. Now, if life is but a computer simulation, a series of
The conference organizers, casually dressed, long- computational states, then life too must be essentially
haired men in their thirties and early forties, say that unreal. Words such as "flower," "dog," and "human" are
artificial, computer-based life forms are developing even simply names, symbols we attach to patterns of matter.
now—and may evolve to dominate the earth. This, in fact, is the Vedic understanding not of life but
According to this view, the evolutionary role of man is of the material body. In the eleventh canto of Srimad-
to give birth to silicon-based life patterns that will Bhagavatam, Krishna says to Uddhava that the gross
eventually look back on him as a primitive ancestor. and subtle forms of material bodies have no existence
The conference sponsors counseled a broad-minded of their own; they are only temporary patterns manifested
attitude toward such evolutionary progress: we should by the eternally existing reality, the Absolute Truth.
transcend parochial anthropocentrism and welcome Krishna illustrates this idea with an example: "Gold
advanced life in whatever form it may emerge. exists before it is made into gold products, and the gold
But some attending scientists doubted whether a remains when the products have been destroyed. The
programme running on a computer could properly be gold alone is the reality while used under various names.
thought of as alive. Philosopher Elliott Sober argued Similarly, I alone exist before the universe is created
that when engineers make a computer simulation of a and after it is destroyed, and I alone exist while it is
bridge, no one would think of it as a real bridge: the maintained....
simulation merely shows a picture in which computations "That which did not exist in the past and will not exist
tell us something about bridges. In the same way, when in the future has no existence of its own while it lasts....
a computer simulates an organism, we see a picture in Whatever is created and revealed by something else is
which computations tell us something about life—we're ultimately only that other thing" (Bhagavatam 11.28.19,
not seeing life itself. 21).
Tommaso Toffoli, a computer scientist from So we can look at the temporary forms of the material
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, responded to universe as patterns in Krishna's energy to which various
this argument. Suppose, he said, that simulated people names have been assigned. In essence these patterns
were driving in simulated cars on a simulated bridge. If in Krishna's material energy (bahiranga-shakti) are the
the bridge were to collapse, the people would fall to same as the patterns of electrons that form and disappear
their simulated deaths. in the circuitry of a computer during a simulation. So we
The patterns in a faithful simulation match the patterns can view the material universe as the ultimate computer
found in reality: the simulated people cross the simulated simulation, and Krishna as the ultimate simulator.
bridge just as real people cross a real bridge. And since But seeing the material body as a succession of flickering
these patterns, Dr. Toffoli proposed, are the essence of patterns doesn't mean we should view life the same
what is happening, we can think of the simulation the way. Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita (2.20) that the soul,
same way we think of the original. the individual conscious self, eternally exists: "For the
In principle, then, if a real material scene can exhibit soul there is never birth or death. He has not come into
life, so can a simulation. being, does not come into being, and will not come into
being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, and primeval.
In practice, of course, present computers, operating He is not slain when the body is slain."
with a single processor, are weak at matching the
patterns of reality. Tommaso Toffoli's simulated people on the simulated
bridge lack one main element: consciousness. A series
But Toffoli suggested that the powerful computers of of computations might simulate the changes a person's
10 Krishna Voice, Jan 2010
body undergoes, including those in the brain.
But why should patterns of electric current
generate the conscious experience of these
We may easily imagine that the patterns of
current that make up a machine's computations
may flow without conscious awareness. This
suggests that if consciousness of the results
of these computations exists in the computer,
this must be due to some element that our
understanding of computers has not yet taken
Here's how some might reply: It may be hard
to understand how patterns of computer states
could generate consciousness, but we already
know that similar patterns generate
consciousness in human brains. So why can't
this take place in a computer?
The answer is that we don't know in any
scientific sense that patterns of brain states
do generate consciousness. Resolving how such patterns A "data-glove" electronically senses his hand movements,
might do this in brains would be just as hard as figuring and another device the movements of his head; the
out how they might do it in computers. resulting data control the movements of his simulated
hand and head.
Bhagavad-gita provides a simple solution by postulating
that consciousness in the material body is due to the Thus the person experiences the simulated world through
presence of an entity fundamentally different from matter. a simulated body, moves about in that body, and handles
Given the difficulties philosophers and scientists have simulated objects in that world.
run into in trying to understand consciousness as patterns If it is possible to link human consciousness with an
of material elements, they should think about this solution. unreal, virtual body in a simulated world, why shouldn't
If we tentatively adopt this solution, then we may ask: it be possible to link spiritual consciousness with similarly
How would the nonmaterial conscious entity be linked unreal bodies in the "real" material world?
to the material body? We can understand how this link The Vedic philosophy known as Sankhya describes the
might work by returning to Toffoli's story of the simulated workings of such a communications link. The third canto
bridge. of Srimad-Bhagavatam describes Krishna's material
energy as including an element called "false ego," or
How could we introduce consciousness into the
ahankara, which serves as the interface between the
simulation? One way would be to make a "real-time"
nonmaterial soul and the material energy. This false
simulation, one in which the simulated events take place
ego serves like the eyephones and data gloves that link
at the same pace as corresponding events in the real
a human being with a computer running a virtual reality
world. (One would simply need a fast enough computer.)
Then one could put consciousness into the simulation
by electronically linking the senses of real, conscious Both the material body as understood in Vedic literature
people with the simulated senses of the simulated and the simulated body in a computer-generated world
people. The intentions of the conscious people would are merely temporary patterns in an underlying substrate.
move the bodies of the people in the simulated world, But the conscious self—the real essence of the living
and the conscious people would have the experiences being—has a substantial reality outside the realm of
the simulated people would have. transient patterns.
Far-fetched? Some people in computer science are In the computer-generated reality this conscious self is
already working on it. VPL Research in California is a human being not part of the computer system, and in
experimenting with "virtual realities" in which a person's the Vedic philosophy this self is a transcendental entity
eyes, ears, and one hand are hooked up electronically distinct from matter.
with virtual eyes and ears and a virtual hand in a One lesson we can learn from the thoughts and
simulated world. The person looks through "eye-phones," experiments of computer scientists is that such a
small TV screens placed directly in front of his eyes, relationship between the self and the material world is
and sees as though in the simulated world. possible. And it just might be our actual situation.
Krishna Voice, Jan 2010 11
Those who always worship Me with exclusive devotion,
meditating on My transcendental form—, to them I carry
what they lack, and I preserve what they have.
—Lord Sri Krishna
Spirit and matter are completely contradictory things. All of us are
spiritual entities. We cannot have perfect happiness, which is our
birthright, however much we may meddle with the affairs of
mundane things. Perfect happiness can be ours only
when we are restored to our natural state
of spiritual existence.
—His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
The Science of Self-Realization
A pure devotee of the Lord whose heart has once been cleansed by the
process of devotional service never relinquishes the lotus feet of
Lord Krishna, for they fully satisfy him, as a traveller
is satisfied at home after a troubled journey.
A person who worships the demigods and gives up Lord Vasudeva [Krishna]
is like a man who gives up the protection of his mother for the
shelter of a witch.
The beauty of the cuckoo is her sweet voice. The beauty of a woman is
her chastity. The beauty of an ugly person is his knowledge.
And the beauty of an ascetic is his power of forgiveness.
A person becomes purified simply by hearing the holy name of the
Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose lotus feet create the
holy places of pilgrimage. Therefore, what remains to be
attained by those who have become His servants?
Even if one distributes ten million cows in charity during an eclipse of the sun,
lives at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna for millions of years,
or gives a mountain of gold in sacrifice to the brahmanas, he
does not earn even one-hundredth part of the merit
derived from chanting Hare Krishna.
—Srila Rupa Gosvami
Krishna Voice, Jan 2010 13
A 16th-Century Bengali Masterpiece
By any standards, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu led a most for both its biographical and philosophical excellence. In
By Kalakantha Dasa remarkable life. As a child-scholar, He refuted the leading the early 1970s, one of America's leading specialists in
philosophers of His day. Later, as a young renunciant, Indian religions began an eagerly awaited first English
He traveled widely, converting kings, panditas, Muslims, translation. He intended to make the work available for
Buddhists, and thousands of their followers to the path scholars and postgraduate students of Indian religions.
of Krishna-bhakti. In His final years, He exhibited During the same period, His Divine Grace A.C.
unprecedented miracles and devotional ecstasies. Even Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada began his own
today, five hundred years later, Lord Chaitanya's translation of Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita. Srila
movement reverberates around the world with startling Prabhupada's purpose, however, was quite different. He
religious vitality. had founded the International Society for Krishna
Yet Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is much more than a famous Consciousness in 1966, and now many of its thousands
medieval Indian religious leader. He is Lord Sri Krishna, of members, his disciples, had begun to mature in Krishna-
the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, appearing bhakti. So Srila Prabhupada, having completed the
as a devotee. Lord Chaitanya fulfilled the ancient Puranic Bhagavad-gita As It Is (the fundamental text of spiritual
prophecy that Lord Krishna would incarnate in the present life) and many volumes of the vast Srimad-Bhagavatam
age of godlessness, known as Kali-yuga, to distribute (a graduate-level scripture), at his disciples' request began
love of Godhead throughout the world. work on Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, a text he called the
"postgraduate study of spiritual life." Among his many
In the late 1500s, the aged and learned Krishnadasa other gifts, Srila Prabhupada wanted to leave his followers
Kaviraja Gosvami chronicled Lord Chaitanya's pastimes an authorized translation of this ultimate devotional classic.
in Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita. Working in a simple mud
dwelling on the bank of the sacred lake known as Radha Like Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, Srila Prabhupada
Kunda, Krishnadasa Kaviraja drew extensively from the began his project at an advanced age. Unlike his great
diaries of Lord Chaitanya's secretaries. From their predecessor, Srila Prabhupada was the leader of a
The Bhaktivedanta worldwide spiritual society that needed his constant travel
Book Trust edition of descriptions, and first-hand accounts of other
Sri Chaitanya- eyewitnesses, he compiled a detailed biography. He and challenged him with diverse problems. Rising early
charitamrita (above), emphasized the Lord's later pastimes, as well as His and working before dawn each day in the course of his
in nine volumes. At divinity and His profound philosophical teachings. international travels, Srila Prabhupada nonetheless
right, Lord Chaitanya, managed to complete Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita in just
who is Radha and Over time, prominent Bengali-literate Western scholars eighteen months. He painstakingly translated each Bengali
Krishna combined, of religion came to value Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita highly and Sanskrit verse to English, word for word, followed
descended to spread
the chanting of the
holy names of the
A devotee realized that Sachi Devi snatches dirt from In a dream, the Lord’s elder The Lord debates with the local
Chaitanya is Krishna her divine son’s hand brother invites Him to leave home Muslim magistrate
14 Krishna Voice, Jan 2010 Krishna Voice, Jan 2010 15
The Production Line—1975
Srila Prabhupada dictates
The Lord reveals His form of Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya tries The Lord reveals His identity to A bird attacks a group of
Varaha to Murari Gupta to teach Vedanta to the Lord Ramananda Raya offensive Buddhists
16 Krishna Voice, Jan 2010
Off to the
Out to the streets
Photographing the paintings
Sri Sadbhuja—the Lord as Devotees from Bengal visit the Lord Chaitanya and His devotees The Lord dances
Krishna, Rama and Chaitanya Lord in Puri clean the Gundicha temple at Rathayatra
Krishna Voice, Jan 2010 17
by a full translation and purport. The result of his Typesetters worked in shifts twenty-four hours a day.
extraordinary literary efforts would ultimately be published The typesetting computer man barely slept. Determined
in seventeen full-sized volumes. to fulfill Srila Prabhupada's order, the devotees pushed
themselves to new heights of accomplishment.
But to Srila Prabhupada's dismay, publication lagged
behind. The two leading managers of the BBT, Soon new volumes of Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita began
Prabhupada's Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, were still to be offered on the altar in Los Angeles, BBT's home
working on the Bhagavatam. Yet they presented temple. To the trained eye, the shiny gold volumes fell
Prabhupada an ambitious plan for increasing the BBT's slightly short of BBT's high editorial and artistic standards.
pace of production fourfold—one book a month. Srila Nonetheless, Srila Prabhupada handled each new
Prabhupada shocked them by his response: "It is not volume with satisfaction.
fast enough. You have to do all the books in two months'
Two months from the day of Srila Prabhupada's order,
the last of the seventeen volumes of Sri Chaitanya-
The managers stared in disbelief. Seventeen books in charitamrita arrived from Kingsport Press. The jubilant
two months? BBT press workers basked in the glow of Srila
Prabhupada's blessings. By the grace of guru and
"Srila Prabhupada," one ventured, "I think that's
Krishna, an "impossible" miracle had been done.
impossible. Maybe we can go faster ..."
In addition to larger runs of certain volumes, the BBT
Srila Prabhupada responded without anger, but very
printed twenty thousand complete seventeen-volume
gravely: "Impossible is a word found in a fool's dictionary."
sets. Many sets were instantly snapped up by eager
Consulting among themselves, the BBT leaders and scholars and academic libraries. Readers bought
staff resolved to meet Srila Prabhupada's challenge. thousands more for their home libraries. Devotees sold
Srila Prabhupada himself agreed to provide special individual volumes in public places. In addition, BBTs
help. Thus began an unparalleled two-month publication in India, South America, and Europe began translating
marathon in which Srila Prabhupada's personal example Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita into dozens of languages.
fueled the BBT workers with inspiration.
Grateful scholars heaped praise upon the publication.
The managers quickly assembled a team of fifty devotee Dr. J. Bruce Long of Cornell University called it "a cause
workers. Photographers flew off to India. Bengali editors for celebration." Teachers could now introduce their
double-checked each text with Srila Prabhupada, while students to direct source material about Lord Chaitanya's
the English editors, typesetters, proofreaders, and layout life and teachings, and they loved it.
artists worked seven days a week from dawn to midnight
Many years later, when the noted American Indologist
and beyond. The BBT artists whose original paintings
finally published what was now the second English
would illustrate each volume sacrificed their personal
translation of Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Srila
styles to accommodate a faster, more efficient method
Prabhupada's work had already circled the globe. But
of finishing one another's work together. Even the BBT's
Srila Prabhupada's translation did much more than
printer, Kingsport Press in Tennessee, pushed back
simply fill a significant vacuum in the academic study
other work in order to accommodate the intense printing
of Hinduism. As a pure devotee of Lord Chaitanya, Srila
schedule. The marathon was on!
Prabhupada conveyed the true spirit of Lord Chaitanya's
The BBT workers adopted the devotional mood of atma- life and teachings. As a result, Lord Chaitanya has now
nivedanam, surrendering everything to Krishna. touched millions of hearts and become part of millions
Jungle animals dance at the South India: The Lord visits Deities Sri Panchatattva—Lord Chaitanya Junior Haridasa, in a heavenly
Lord’s command of Krishna and Krishna’s parents and His four principal associates form, sings for the Lord
18 Krishna Voice, Jan 2010
of lives in every corner of the world. In this way, Srila of the scholar, the devotee, or the general reader.
Prabhupada has fulfilled one of Lord Chaitanya's own
Dr. J. Bruce Long
prophecies: "In every town and village of the earth, My
Department of Asian Studies, Cornell University
holy name will be sung."
Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami:
Empowered Biographer of the Lord
As with Srila Prabhupada's other books, scholars greatly
The author of Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Krishnadasa
appreciated his presentation of Sri Chaitanya-
Kaviraja Gosvami, born around the beginning of the
charitamrita. Here we present excerpts from one of
sixteenth century, was a disciple of Raghunatha Dasa
many favorable reviews when the book first appeared. Gosvami, a confidential follower of Chaitanya
The appearance of an English translation of Krishnadasa Mahaprabhu's. Raghunatha Dasa, a renowned ascetic
Kaviraja Gosvami's Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita by A.C. saint, heard and memorized all the activities of Chaitanya
Bhaktivedanta (founder-acharya of the International Mahaprabhu told him by Svarupa Damodara Gosvami.
Society for Krishna Consciousness) is a cause for After the passing away of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
celebration among both scholars in Indian studies and and Svarupa Damodara, Raghunatha Dasa, unable to
lay people seeking to enrich their knowledge of Indian bear the pain of separation from these objects of his
spirituality. ... It will fill a most serious lacuna in our complete devotion, traveled to Vrindavana, intending to
libraries and in our courses on the religious traditions commit suicide by jumping from Govardhana Hill. In
of India. Vrindavana, however, he encountered Srila Rupa
Gosvami and Srila Sanatana Gosvami, two of the most
For the first time we possess a readily accessible edition
confidential disciples of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. They
for this great religious classic that will provide opportunity
convinced him to give up his planned suicide and
for scholars in Indian literature and followers of the
impelled him to reveal to them the spiritually inspiring
Krishna conscious tradition alike to compare the original
events of Lord Chaitanya's later life. Krishnadasa Kaviraja
text with a modern English translation and become
Gosvami was also residing in Vrindavana at this time,
acquainted with the deeper spiritual meaning of this
and Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami endowed him with full
work through the learned commentary of Sri
comprehension of the transcendental life of Sri Chaitanya
Anyone who gives a close reading to the commentary
By this time, contemporary and near-contemporary
will sense that here, as in his other works, Sri
scholars and devotees had already written several
Bhaktivedanta has combined a healthy mixture of the
biographical works on the life of Sri Krishna Chaitanya.
fervent devotion and aesthetic sensitivity of a devotee
These included Sri Chaitanya-carita, by Murari Gupta,
and the intellectual rigor of a textual scholar. At no point
Chaitanya-mangala, by Lochana Dasa Thakura, and
does the author allow the intended meaning of the text
Chaitanya-bhagavata. This latter work, by Vrindavana
to be eclipsed by the promotion of a particular doctrinal
Dasa Thakura, who was then considered the principal
authority on Sri Chaitanya's life, was highly revered.
These exquisitely wrought volumes will be a welcome While composing his important work, Vrindavana Dasa,
addition to the libraries of all persons who are committed fearing that it would become too voluminous, avoided
to the study of Indian spirituality and religious literature, elaborately describing many of the events of Chaitanya
whether their interests are sparked by the motivations Mahaprabhu's life, particularly the later ones. Anxious
Nityananda attracts the Lord to The Lord sports with His One day, the Lord eats enough Lord Chaitanya dreams of
the festival at Panihati devotees at a Puri festival for a hundred people Radha Krishna’s pastimes
Krishna Voice, Jan 2010 19
to hear these later pastimes,
the devotees of Vrindavana
Kaviraja Gosvami, whom
they respected as a great
saint and scholar, to
compose a book narrating
these episodes in detail.
Upon this request, and with
the permission and blessings
of the Madana-mohana Deity
of Vrindavana, he began
compiling Sri Chaitanya-
charitamrita, which, due to
its literary excellence and
is today universally regarded
as the foremost work on the
life and profound teachings
of Sri Chaitanya
work on the text at a very
advanced age and in failing
health, as he vividly
describes in the text itself: "I
have now become too old
and disturbed by invalidity.
While writing, my hands
tremble. I cannot remember
anything, nor can I see or
hear properly. Still I write, and
this is a great wonder." That
he completed the greatest
literary gem of medieval India
under such debilitating
conditions is surely one of
the wonders of literary history.
In a spiritual dream, Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami sees Lord Nityananda, (From the Introduction to Sri
who tells him to go to Vrindavana Chaitanya-charitamrita)
In ecstacy, mistaking a sand A fortunate fisherman catches Lord Chaitanya sees Lord In a spiritual trance, Lord
dune for Govardhana Hill the Lord Krishna’s pastimes Chaitanya sees Krishna
20 Krishna Voice, Jan 2010
Tracing the Hindu Heritage
Written in 1991 by Navina Krishna Dasa
A few more years and the twentieth century will be over. Five thousand years have gone by since the historic times
of Lord Krishna's appearance. Since then, untold stories have been written about men and women, nations, ideas,
and civilizations. Mother Earth has seen hundreds of chapters open and close.
Somewhere in those chapters, you and I have appeared. And as more chapters are written, we will disappear in
the pages of history and be forgotten.
Today some of us are Hindus. We are proud to be Hindus. And we try hard to convince our children that they need
to be good Hindus too. Of course, we don't always find it easy to explain to them why being Hindu is important
and what it's all about anyway. Still, we want to stand up for Hinduism, India, temples, and other things somehow
connected with our birth and heritage.
Nonetheless, it's entirely possible that a few hundred years ago, in a previous life, we lived as proud Muslims. In
that life, we stood up for Islam, tried to raise our children to be good Muslims, went to the mosque, and perhaps
broke down Hindu temples to build new mosques.
And before that, in some other life, who were we, what religion did we adhere to, and what did we fight for?
In this life we may be Indians, Americans, Chinese, Russians. We may be Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews, or
whatever. And so we may be friends or enemies, live peacefully or make war. But this all comes from a great
Let's not just read one insignificant chapter of our existence. Let's think about all the chapters. Because now we
may we see ourselves as Indians, as human beings born in India or born from Indian parents twenty, thirty, fifty,
or seventy years ago. But the more we think that way, the more deeply we have failed to understand the most
basic message of Bhagavad-gita.
Lord Krishna calls Arjuna a fool for identifying with his body and not understanding his spiritual nature.
And for us too, how foolish or intelligent we are depends on our own self-understanding.
When we trace back our heritage—long before we were Indians—we will understand that we are all spirit souls,
parts of the Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna. At some remote time, long before we can ever hope to remember, we
gave up being loyal, loving servants of the Lord. Mistakenly, we chose to leave the Lord's abode. And we ventured
instead into this temporary, miserable material world to try to enjoy.
Taking on different bodies for millions of lives, we have uselessly tried to enjoy what is not enjoyable, forgetting
the spiritual bliss found only in the Lord's abode.
In Bhagavad-gita (8.16) Lord Krishna tells Arjuna:
punar avartino 'rjuna
mam upetya tu kaunteya
punar janma na vidyate
"From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth
and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kunti, never takes birth again."
Lord Krishna invites us back to His abode. And He gives us the means to become free from illusion and go there.
The Lord says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: "Abandon all other so-called dharma and
just surrender to Me."
And if we're worried about family obligations, career, community duties, or anything else, the guidance and advice
of the all-knowing Supreme Lord are available to us in Bhagavad-gita. In fact, we'll find that when we cooperate
with Lord Krishna's plan, our life becomes peaceful and joyful in every way.
This message of the Bhagavad-gita is the true message of India's greatest saints. It is the real heritage of India.
And now is the time for all Indians—and all followers of Vedic culture—to take advantage of this great heritage.
Krishna Voice, Jan 2010 21
Sri Vaikuntha Ekadashi
The Supreme Lord Vishnu reclines on Ananta Sesha, served by
Lakshmi Devi and glorified by Brahma and Saraswati, Shiva and
Parvati and the four Kumaras, above the Vaikuntha Dvara (above)
at Hare Krishna Hill’s Sri Radha Krishna-chandra temple.
The Lord was bathed with a variety of items and then sprinkled
with turmeric on the occasion of Vaikuntha Ekadashi. (right)
Devotees thronged to have darshana of the Lord on this
auspicious festival. (below)
22 Krishna Voice, Jan 2010
Sri Vaikuntha Ekadashi
Devotees chant Sri Krishna Ashtottara on the occasion of Vaikuntha Ekadashi, at Hare Krishna Hill (above)
and Vaikuntha Hill (below).
Krishna Voice, Jan 2010 23
Sri Vaikuntha Ekadashi
Former Prime Minister of
India, H D Deve Gowda
visited the ISKCON temple
in Rajajinagar on Vaikuntha
Shamala G Bhave and
devotional music as an
offering to the Lord on
(above and left)
24 Krishna Voice, Jan 2010
Udupi: Inauguration of Nava Kanaka Ratna chariot
Above: Madhu Pandit Dasa, President, ISKCON - Bangalore seen with HH Visvesha Tirtha Swami of Pejawar
Mutt and HH Sugunendra Tirtha Swami of Puttige Mutt in Udupi during the ceremony of the inauguration of Nava
Kanaka Ratna chariot of Sri Krishna (seen in the background with the vigraha of Udupi Sri Krishna) on Dec 26,
2009. Other sannyasis of the Udupi Asta Mutt are also seen. Below: Madhu Pandit Dasa addresses the gathering.
Krishna Voice, Jan 2010 25
Akshaya Patra presents social development arena
to Shri Salman Khurshid
Successful NGO’s from across the state presented their case studies and pan India achievements.
Akshaya Patra Foundation, the world’s largest NGO run school meal programme today conceptualised
and gave a platform to the social development sector to share their achievements and case studies with
Minister of State for Corporate Affairs, Sri Salman Khurshid.
The event garnered a good response as nine successful NGO’s participated and interacted about their
programme in the social development arena. The primary focus of the event was to inform the Minister
of the impact of their social programme.
Sri Salman Khurshid,
Minister of State for
Corporate Affairs and
Minority Affairs during his visit
to ISKCON - Bangalore and
the Akshaya Patra Facility,
being received by Sri Madhu
Pandit Dasa. Sri Mohandas
Pai and Sri Abhay Jain, co-
Trustees of Akshaya Patra
Foundation are also seen in
Sri Salman Khurshid
interacts with the NGO
representatives at the
The Minister was impressed with the work done by various development organizations and has invited
them to look into the possibility of replicating the same in his constituency Farukabadh, Uttar Pradesh.
Sri Khurshid has extended a special invitation to The Akshaya Patra Foundation to establish a kitchen
and to cater to the school meal programme to the children of the district. It may be remembered that a
few years ago Rahul Gandhi, Secretary, National Youth Congress had visited Akshaya Patra and had
explored the possibility of extending the programme to different cities in Uttar Pradesh.
The organizations that participated were Azim Premji Foundation, India Skills—a Manipal Education-City
& Guilds Initiative, Parikrama Foundation, EduMedia India Pvt. Ltd, Manipal K-12 Education Pvt. Ltd,
Tally Solutions Pvt. Ltd, Arghyam, Sanjeevani and Avesthagen Limited.
Sri Chanchalapathi Dasa, Vice Chairman, Akshaya Patra Foundation said, “We are very happy to facilitate
this platform for these developmental organizations to interact with Honorable Minister Khurshid. We are
committed to all round development of the nation and believe that together we can achieve a better India.”
26 Krishna Voice, Jan 2010
Krishna Voice Monthly Magazine, January 2010 Vol11, No.1 Price Rs 15/-
Posted on 5th or 10th of the Month at MBC, Manipal, License to post without prepayment No. WPP(CO-8), Reg No. KA/BGGPO
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