Getting Serious About Liberation
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
We live in an unfortunate time because we’re being misdirected from the pursuit of ultimate freedom, the true purpose of life.
[Lecture given in Vrindavana, India, November 6, 1972]
hitva bhuta-patin atha
bhajanti hy anasuyavah
“Those who are serious about liberation are certainly nonenvious, and they respect all. Yet they reject the horrible and ghastly forms of the demigods and worship only the all-blissful forms and plenary portions of Lord Vishnu.”—Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.26
The first word, mumukshavah, means “desiring to be liberated.” It is very difficult to find this class of men, the mumukshavah. People do not know what is meant by mumukshavah. They do not know what liberation is. Even the so-called scientists and philosophers of the modern age do not know what is meant by liberation, moksha. And still they are the public leaders and heads of education. They do not know the objective of life, what human life is meant for.
Sometime in the year 1950 or ’51 I went to Jhansi, and the friend in whose house I was staying was a leader. There was a meeting for Gandhi’s disappearance day. So I was asked to speak. At that time I was not a sannyasi. I was asked to speak on nonviolence. So I explained that if you have got some right and if somebody by force stops you from using your right, that is violence. I have got some right to take something or enter into some room, and if somebody checks me by force—"You cannot enter"—that is violence, and it is criminal.
Our homeland is Bharatavarsha [India]. To take birth in Bharatavarsha is not an ordinary thing. Just see, practically, how many men are automatically circumambulating this temple out of respect. Even a common man will do so. If you study you’ll find that by nature people in Bharatavarsha are God conscious. Even a very poor man is satisfied in God consciousness. He doesn’t care that he is poverty-stricken. He’s satisfied: “Krishna has placed me in this position.” He doesn’t care to know or ask, “Why am I poverty-stricken?” He thinks, “Now I am getting some food by the grace of Krishna.”
Not very long ago, say about two hundred or three hundred years ago, in Krishnanagara there was a big zamindar named Raja Krishnachandra. He went to a learned scholar, a brahmana pandita, who had voluntarily accepted poverty and asked him, “Panditji, can I help you in some way?”
The pandita replied, “I don’t require any help from you.”
“But I see that you are very poverty-stricken.”
“No, I am not poverty-stricken. My students get some rice for me, and my wife cooks it. I get some tamarind leaves. So it is very nice. I don’t require any help.”
This is India’s heritage. Canakya Pandita was the greatest scholar and politician. He was the prime minister of Maharaja Emperor Candragupta. Chanakya Puri in New Delhi is named after Canakya Pandita. He was living in a cottage, not accepting any salary. And as soon as Maharaja Candragupta wanted some explanation for an instruction Canakya had given him, Canakya resigned. Such detachment is the standard of persons born in India. Take Vyasadeva, for example. Who can be a greater scholar than Vyasadeva? His last contribution is Srimad-Bhagavatam, and each word, if you study for hundreds of years, still you will have more to understand. Each word. Such a scholar, and he was living in a cottage.
This is actually India’s culture. So I explained in that meeting in Krishnanagar, “After many, many births, one is given the opportunity to take birth in this holy land of Bharatavarsha. Unfortunately, you leaders are by force making the people materialists. They had the opportunity to take advantage of the contribution of great sages, rishis, to study and to become successful human beings, but you are by force dragging them from that attitude to this materialistic way of life. This is violence. What are you speaking of nonviolence? This is violence.”
About twenty years ago I was thinking like that. Actually, people are being killed not only in India but outside also by these blind leaders. They do not know how to lead people, how to make them happy, how to make them successful in the human form of life.
Narottama Dasa Thakura has sung,
hari hari biphale janama gonainu
manushya janama paiya
radha-krishna na bhajiya
janiya shuniya bisha khainu
“My dear Lord Krishna, I have simply wasted my time.” Without Krishna consciousness, we are simply wasting time. We have great opportunity in the human form of life, but our attention is diverted simply for eating, sleeping, mating, and defending. And our real business is spoiled. That is summarized by Narottama Dasa Thakura. Hari hari biphale janama gonainu: “I have simply spoiled my life.”
The human form of life is especially meant for understanding Krishna, Radha-Krishna. If not Radha-Krishna, at least Krishna, or the Battle of Kurukshetra. Mr. M. C. Chatterji was a nice friend of mine. He said, “Swamiji, I want Krishna of the Battlefield of Kurukshetra, not of Vrindavana.” That’s all right. At least take Krishna on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra. But take to Krishna. If you are not so fortunate as to understand Radha-Krishna, at least try to understand Arjuna-Krishna.
The whole world is being spoiled. I am especially drawing the attention of thoughtful men. People are being killed without Krishna consciousness. They got this opportunity, the human form of life, and they should have been educated to understand Krishna. By understanding Krishna, they can become liberated. As it is stated here: mumukshavah. Mumukshavah means those who desire liberation. But the leaders do not know what liberation is, what transmigration of the soul is, what the soul is—nothing. Simply rascals, and they are leading the whole population. They do not know what liberation is. Darwin’s theory, the bodily concept of life, anthropology—that is going on in the university. A false theory, without any idea.
Here it is said, mumukshavah, “desiring liberation.” But the people do not know what liberation is. They are thinking of liberation in terms of politics. We Indians have become liberated from British rule. What sort of liberation have we achieved? During British rule, people were free to move, free to spend their money. Now you are so liberated that you cannot move, you cannot spend your money. This is the kind of liberation we now have. Formerly there was no restriction for going outside the country. But as a sannyasi, I had so much difficulty obtaining the permission of the government to go out.
Oh, with what great difficulty I got out of this country! And because I—some way or other, by Krishna’s grace—got out of this country, I could spread this Krishna consciousness movement all over the world. Otherwise, it was not possible. I wanted to start this movement in India, but I was not at all encouraged.
I approached so many friends: “You have four sons. Kindly give me one of your sons. I want to make him a brahmana.”
“Oh, Swamiji, what will he do, becoming a brahmana? We have to earn our livelihood.”
You see? People have forgotten what is the aim of life, what is the purpose of life. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said,
bharata-bhumite haila manushya-janma yara
janma sarthaka kari’ kara para-upakara
“Everyone who has taken birth in the land of Bharatavarsha must make his life successful.” [Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi-lila 9.41] Because here we actually have the opportunity for liberation. In Bharatavarsha we have information about liberation. No other country. Their so-called liberation means political liberation. Fighting with one another—that is not liberation. Liberation means to get out of the cycle of repeated birth and death. That is liberation. But people have no idea what liberation is, or where to go after liberation. All this knowledge is practically blocked.
Therefore it is very difficult for people to understand the statements of Srimad-Bhagavatam, like this verse: mumukshavo ghora-rupan hitva bhuta-patin atha. People do not understand. They are so misguided, ill-educated, that they do not understand it.
But the land of Bharatavarsha is meant for liberation. In other lands, people take birth and have no information about liberation. Here, in this land, Bharatavarsha, there is the idea of liberation, mukti. We should be interested in liberation. Our condition within this material bondage is that we are transmigrating from one body to another, always trying to improve our material condition. Sometimes we are going up to higher planets, and sometimes we are coming down.
The Dark Material World
This is going on. But the human form of life is meant for getting out of the darkness of the material world. Tamasi ma jyotir gama. This is the Vedic information: “Don’t remain in this darkness.” This material world is dark, as we experience at night, before the sun rises. And it is also dark because of ignorance. We do not know the aim of life. Therefore, the whole world is darkness. And the Vedic information is “Do not remain in the darkness. Come to the light.” But that education—how to get out of the darkness of ignorance and the darkness of this material world—is lacking.
Here it is mentioned: narayana-kalah shanta bhajanti hy anasuyavah. Asuya means envious. When we present Krishna, especially in India, people are sometimes envious of Him. But outside India, people have reacted differently. I have placed before them that “Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. You are searching after God. Here is God. Here is God’s name, here is God’s address, here are God’s activities. Try to understand God. Why are you speculating?” And they have accepted. They are not asuyava. They are not envious.
Here, if I present Krishna, one may say, “Why not Kali? Oh, Kali is very active. She has a long tongue. She has a sword in her hand, cutting heads. It is very nice. And we shall be able to eat goats.” You see? Actually Kali-puja is for the meat-eaters. Now this is the Kali-puja season. Kali-puja is there because the Vedic shastras, scriptures, are so made that everyone, from the lowest rascal to the highest intelligent man, should be elevated. That is the purpose. All classes of men are there. Some are influenced by the mode of goodness; some are influenced by the mode of passion; some are influenced by the mode of ignorance. And the Vedas are meant for all human beings.
There are different types of human beings; therefore there are different types of shastras to attract all classes of men, including the meat-eaters. The living entity comes to the material world to enjoy, to satisfy the material senses. That especially means eating meat, drinking wine, and having sex. So the Vedas regulate the so-called enjoyment. “You want to eat meat? All right, then sacrifice a goat before Goddess Kali and worship her on the on the amavasya, the dark-moon night.” There are so many regulations involved. The real purpose is restriction. But if it is directly said, “Don’t eat meat,” meat-eaters will revolt.
Therefore the Vedic literature contains so many prescriptions for worshiping different demigods. Otherwise, there is no necessity for worshiping them. That is explained in the Bhagavad-gita (7.20). Kamais tais tair hrita-jnanah prapadyante ’nya-devatah: Those who are worshiping demigods have become blind; they have lost their senses. Hrita-jnana: Real knowledge is lost. Therefore they’re after so many demigods. I have not manufactured this point. Krishna Himself says, kamais tais tair hrita-jnanah prapadyante ’nya-devatah: There is no need to worship any demigods.
This is the lesson of the festival of Govardhana-puja. Nanda Maharaja, Krishna’s father, was arranging for the worship of Indra. Krishna stopped it, and He engaged his father in worshiping Govardhana, which is a representation of Krishna. That is the meaning of Govardhana-puja.
We can get different types of sense pleasure in different bodies. But that is not a very good business. Sometimes I become a demigod, and sometimes I become a eucalyptus tree, standing for three hundred years. Why should we waste our time in that way? Asking that question is intelligence. But people do not know that “This time I am a very nice American. I have got my skyscraper and automobile and very good bank balance. I am very happy.” They don’t care. But the person does not know that next life he may become a cat or a dog. That he does not know. There is that risk.
A Scientific Movement
This science is not taught in any university. People are such fools and rascals. It is a great science—transmigration of the soul, immortality of the soul, how to elevate the soul to the highest perfection. The rascals do not know. Nor are they being taught. It is such an unfortunate time.
Therefore there is great necessity to spread this Krishna consciousness movement to actually educate the human being to the highest perfection of life. That is required. It is not a religious system, competing with some other religion. We are criticized for turning Christians into Hindus. This is nonsense. We are not concerned with Hindus, Muslims, or Christians. These are educated boys; they have no business becoming Hindus. Many people before me, many swamis, went to the West to turn Christians into Hindus. But the Western people kicked on their faces. These swamis did not become successful, because they talked nonsense. Why should a Christian become a Hindu, or a Hindu become a Christian? People should know what God is and what their relationship with God is. This Krishna consciousness movement is not for turning Hindus into Muslims or Muslim into Hindus or Christian into Hindus. This is not such a movement. These Western boys and girls clearly understand this. Therefore they are following. They are accepting. If I would have preached that Hinduism is better than Christianity, they would have kicked me out long ago. Krishna consciousness is a science; it is a philosophy.
There is a great necessity to educate people in the aim of life. That is Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission. He was appealing to the human beings, those who are actually human beings, not to the cats and dogs. He said, “Study the contribution of the great sages and make your life successful. Then go out and preach this mission.” That is going on under the name of the Krishna consciousness movement. It is not a sentimental movement. It is a scientific movement.
We therefore restrict our students from worshiping any demigods. When I started this mission, many friends advised me, “Why don’t you make it ’God consciousness’?” But I insisted that it be “Krishna consciousness.” Otherwise, people would include so many gods. “Here is another god, here is another god, here is another god, here is another god, here is another incarnation, here is another avatar.” All nonsense. I wanted to stress the one who is actually God. Krishnas tu bhagavan svayam: “Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. [Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.28]. Or in today’s verse: narayana-kalah shantah. One should worship only Krishna and His full expansions.
Try to understand our mission. Here it is said that we have to accept the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Krishna also says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam sharanam vraja: “Surrender unto Me only. Then you’ll be saved.” [Bhagavad-gita 18.66].
We don’t advise, “Worship Kali or Siva or—it is all the same. Yata mata tata patha.” We don’t speak all this nonsense. We simply say, “Come to Krishna. Then you’ll be saved.”