Janmashtami: The Divine Advent of Lord Krishna

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Lord Krishna declares that we can gain immortality simply by understanding the nature of His birth and activities.

His Excellency the High Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I thank you very much for coming here and participating in this ceremony, Janmashtami, the advent of Krishna. Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita (4.9),

janma karma cha me divyam
evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma
naiti mam eti so ’rjuna

"One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna." This morning I was explaining this verse:

yam hi na vyathayanty ete
purusham purusharsabha
sama-duhkha-sukham dhiram
so ’mritatvaya kalpate

"O best among men [Arjuna], the person who is not disturbed by happiness and distress and is steady in both is certainly eligible for liberation." (Gita 2.15) Amritatva means immortality. In modern civilization, people have no idea – even if one is a great philosopher, a great politician, or a great scientist – that it is possible to attain the stage of immortality, amritatva. We are all amrita, immortal. In the Bhagavad-gita (2.20) it is said, na jayate mriyate va kadacit. We living entities never die and never take birth. Nityah shashvato yam, na hanyate hanyamane sharire. Every one of us is eternal: nityah, shashvatah; and puranah, the oldest. After annihilation of this body, we do not die. Na hanyate. The body is finished, but we have to accept another body.

dehino ’smin yatha dehe
kaumaram yauvanam jara
tatha dehantara-praptir
dhiras tatra na muhyati

"As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change." (Gita 2.13) At the present moment people lack the knowledge that we living entities, as parts of Krishna, are eternal, blissful, and cognizant.

Krishna is described in the Vedic shastra:

ishvarah paramah krishnah
sach-chid-ananda-vigrahah
anadir adir govindah
sarva-karana-karanam

"Krishna, who is known as Govinda, is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal blissful spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin, and He is the prime cause of all causes." (Brahma-samhita 5.1) When I speak of Krishna, I mean God. It is sometimes said that God has no name. That's a fact. But God's name is given by His activities. Krishna has certain names because of being the son of Maharaja Nanda and Yashodamayi, or Devaki and Vasudeva. Vasudeva and Devaki were Krishna's real father and mother. Actually, nobody is the real father or mother of Krishna, because Krishna is the original father of everyone. But when Krishna comes here, He accepts some devotees as His father and mother.

Krishna is the adi-purusham, the original person. Then He must be very old? No. Adyam purana purusham nava-yauvanam ca: He is always a fresh youth. When Krishna was on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra, He was just like a boy of twenty years. But at that time He had great-grandchildren. Therefore, Krishna is always a youth. Nava yauvanam ca.

The Purpose of the Vedas

These are the statements of the Vedic literature. But if we simply read the Vedic literature as a formality, it will be very difficult to understand Krishna, even though all the Vedas are meant for understanding Him. In the Bhagavad-gita (15.15) Krishna says, vedaish cha sarvair aham eva vedyah: "By all the Vedas I am to be known." What is the use of studying the Vedas if you do not understand Krishna? The ultimate goal of education is to understand the Supreme Lord, the supreme father, the supreme cause.

It is said in the Vedanta-sutras (1.1.1), athato brahma-jijnasa: "Now inquire about Brahman, the Absolute Truth." What is Brahman? Janmady asya yatah: that from which everything emanates.

Krishna is the cause of all causes. Just try to understand: I am caused by my father, my father is caused by his father, he is caused by his father – go on searching and you'll ultimately come to somebody who is the cause but has no cause. Anadir adir govindah. That original cause is Govinda, Krishna. I may be the cause of my son, but I am also the result of a cause, my father. But the shastra says, anadir adir: He is the original person; He has no cause. That is Krishna.

The advent of Krishna is very important. We should try to understand Krishna – why He comes to this material world, what His business is, what His activities are. If we simply try to understand Krishna, then what is the result? Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so ’rjuna: we get immortality. The aim of life is to achieve immortality.

The Peace Formula

On the advent day of Krishna, we shall try to understand the philosophy of Krishna. His Excellency was speaking of peace. The peace formula is there, spoken by Krishna. What is that?

bhoktaram yajna-tapasam
sarva-loka-maheshvaram
suhridam sarva-bhutanam
natva mam shantim richchati

"A person in full consciousness of Me, knowing Me to be the ultimate beneficiary of all sacrifices and austerities, the Supreme Lord of all planets and demigods, and the benefactor and well-wisher of all living entities, attains peace from the pangs of material miseries." (Gita 5.29) The politicians, diplomats, are trying to establish peace in the world. The United Nation is there, and there are many other organizations trying to have real peace and tranquility, with no misunderstanding between man and man, nation and nation. But that is not happening. The defect is that the root is wrong. Everyone's thinking, "It is my country. It is my family. It is my society. It is my property." This "my" is illusion. In the shastra (Bhagavatam 5.5.8) it is said, janasya moho ’yam aham mameti: This "I and my" philosophy is illusion.

If you want to get out of this illusion, maya, then you have to accept Krishna's formula. Everything is there in the Bhagavad-gita for guidance if we accept the philosophy of Bhagavad-gita as it is. Everything is there. Peace is there; prosperity is there. Unfortunately, we do not accept it. That is our misfortune. Or we misinterpret it. Krishna says, "Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me, and offer obeisances unto Me." Is that a very difficult task?

Here is Krishna's deity. If you think of this deity, Radha-Krishna, is that very difficult? Come into the temple and offer your respect to the deity. As far as possible try to worship the deity. Krishna does not want your whole property. Krishna is open to the poorest man for being worshiped. What is He asking for? He says, patram pushpam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayacchati: "If a person offers Me with devotion a leaf, a little fruit, a little water, I accept it." Krishna is not hungry, but Krishna wants to make you a devotee. That is the main point.

Krishna is providing food for everyone. But Krishna wants your love, your devotion. Therefore He is begging for a little fruit, flower, water.

There is no difficulty to understand Krishna and accept Krishna consciousness. But we'll not do that; that is our disease. Otherwise, it is not difficult at all. And as soon as we become a devotee of Krishna, we understand the whole situation.

Our philosophy, Bhagavata philosophy, is also communism, because we consider Krishna the supreme father and all living entities sons of Krishna. Krishna says that He is the proprietor of all planets, sarva-loka-maheshvaram. Therefore whatever there is, either in the sky or in the water or on the land, is Krishna's property. And because we are all sons of Krishna, every one of us has the right to use the father's property. But we should not encroach upon others. This is the formula of peace. Everything belongs to God. You are sons of God. You have the right to use your father's property, but do not take more than you need. That is punishable. These things are stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam.

But we forget this philosophy that Krishna is the supreme father, Krishna is the supreme proprietor, Krishna is the supreme enjoyer, and Krishna is the supreme friend of everyone. When we forget this, then we come into this material world and struggle for existence, fighting with one another. This is material life.

The politicians, diplomats, and philosophers have tried so much, but actually nothing has become fruitful. The United Nation was organized after the second great war, and they wanted, "Peacefully we shall settle everything." But there is no such thing. The fighting is going on between Pakistan and India, between Vietnam and America, and this and that. It is not the process for peace.

The process is Krishna consciousness. Everyone has to understand the fact that we are not the proprietor. The proprietor is Krishna. That's a fact. Two hundred years ago the European migrators who went to America were not the proprietors; other people were the proprietors. And before them, other people were the proprietors, or it was vacant land. The actual proprietor is Krishna. But artificially you are claiming, "It is my property." Janasya moho ’yam aham mameti. This is called maya.

Lessons from Krishna

Krishna comes to give us lessons. He says, "My dear Arjuna, I come when there are discrepancies in the process of religious life." Dharmasya glanir bhavati. And what is dharma? The simple definition is dharmam tu sakshad bhagavat-pranitam: dharma is the laws given by God. What do we generally mean by law? Law is the word given by the state. You cannot make law at home. That is not possible. Whatever the government gives you – "You should act like this" – that is law. Similarly, dharma means the direction given by God.

Therefore, where the Bhagavad-gita ends – sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam sharanam vraja – this is dharma: to surrender to Krishna. Any other dharmas are not dharma. Otherwise, why does Krishna ask, sarva-dharman parityajya: "Give up all other dharmas"? Earlier He said, dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge: "I advent to establish the principles of religion." (Gita 4.8) And at last He says, sarva-dharman parityajya. That means the so-called dharmas that we have manufactured, man-made dharmas, are not dharmas. Dharma means what is given by God. But we have no understanding of what God is and what His word is. That is the defect of modern civilization. God is there, His order is there, but we won't accept. Where is the possibility of peace?

When Krishna speaks in the Bhagavad-gita, Vyasadeva writes, bhagavan uvaca: "The Supreme Lord said." One should know what is meant by bhagavan. Vyasadeva could have written krishna uvaca. No. Because one may misunderstand who Krishna is, Vyasadava writes, shri bhagavan uvaca.

In the Bhagavad-gita, Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is speaking. Krishna is accepted as Bhagavan by the greatest acharyas – Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya, Vishnu Svami. And the latest is Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Even Sankaracharya accepts Krishna. He writes, sa bhagavan svayam krishna: "Krishna is Bhagavan Himself." That is the verdict of the modern acharyas. And in the past, Vyasadeva, Narada, Asita – everyone accepted Krishna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Arjuna, who heard from Krishna, after understanding Bhagavad-gita, said, param brahma param dhama pavitram paramam bhavan: "You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the ultimate abode, the purest, the Absolute Truth." (Gita 10.12)

Assets for Understanding God

Especially in India, we have got so many assets for understanding God. Everything is there, ready made. But we won't accept. We are searching after peace, but we won't accept anything that is actually giving us peace. This is our disease.

This Krishna consciousness movement is trying to awaken the dormant Krishna consciousness in everyone's heart. These Europeans and Americans and other countrymen never heard of Krishna four or five years ago. How are they taking Krishna consciousness so seriously? Because Krishna consciousness is there in everyone's heart. It has only to be awakened. That is described in the Chaitanya-charitamrita (Madhya 22.107):

nitya-siddha krishna-prema ‘sadhya’ kabhu naya
shravanadi-shuddha-citte karaye udaya

"Pure love for Krishna is eternally established in the hearts of the living entities. It is not something to be gained from another source. When the heart is purified by hearing and chanting, this love naturally awakens." It is awakened. Love for Krishna, devotion for Krishna, is there within everyone's heart, but we have forgotten.

This Krishna consciousness movement is simply meant for awakening that Krishna consciousness. This is the process. When you are sleeping, I have to call you loudly: "Mr. Such-and-such, get up. You have got this business to do." No other senses will act when you are sleeping. But the ear will act. Therefore, in this age, when people are so fallen they will not hear anything, if we chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra they'll be awakened to Krishna consciousness. This is practical.

If we are anxious for peace and tranquility in society, then we must be very serious to understand Krishna. That is our request. Don't take it neglectfully, the Krishna consciousness movement. This movement can solve all the problems of life, all the problems in the world – social, political, philosophical, religious, economic – everything can be solved by Krishna consciousness. Therefore, we request those who are leaders – like His Excellency, present here – to try to understand this Krishna consciousness movement. It is very scientific, authorized. It is not a mental concoction or a sentimental movement. It is the most scientific movement. We are inviting all leaders from all countries: try to understand. If you are sober, if you are actually reasonable, you'll understand that this Krishna consciousness movement is the sublime movement for the welfare of the whole human society. That's a fact.

To Achieve Immortality

Anyone may come; we are prepared to discuss this subject matter. The ultimate goal of human life is to achieve immortality. We have forgotten this. We are simply leading the life of cats and dogs, without any knowledge that we can achieve the perfection of life, when there will be no more birth, no more death.

We do not understand even that there is the possibility of amritatvam, immortality. But it is possible. Nobody wants to die; that's a fact. Nobody wants to become old, to become diseased. This is our natural inclination. Why? Because originally, in our spiritual form, there is no birth, no death, no old age, no disease. So after the evolutionary process through the aquatics, birds, beasts, and plants, when we come to this human form of body, then we should know what is the goal of life.

The goal of life is amritatvam, to become immortal. You can become immortal simply by becoming Krishna conscious. Krishna says so. It is a fact. We simply have to understand. If you try to understand Krishna in truth, tattvatah, then, tyaktva deham punar janma naiti: after giving up this body, you don't accept any more material bodies. And as soon as you don't accept a material body, you become immortal, because by nature you are immortal.

Krishna comes to teach us this lesson: "You are immortal by nature. As spirit soul you are part and parcel of Me. As I am immortal, so you are also immortal. You are unnecessarily trying to be happy in this material world."

We simply struggle unnecessarily. You have enjoyed sensuous life in so many varieties of body – as cats, as dogs, as demigods, as trees, as plants, as insects. Now, in this human form of life, don't be captivated by sensuous life. Just try to understand Krishna. That is the verdict of the shastra. To work very hard like dogs and hogs for sense gratification is not the ambition of human life. Human life is meant for a little austerity. We have to purify our existence. That is the mission of human life. Why shall I purify my existence? Brahma-saukhyam tv anantam: because then you get unlimited pleasure, unlimited happiness. That is real pleasure.

In India formerly, all the great personalities – saintly persons, sages, and acharyas – cultivated this spiritual knowledge nicely and fully. But we are not taking advantage of it. It is not that those shastras and directions are meant only for the Indians or Hindus or brahmanas. No. They are meant for everyone. Krishna claims,

sarva-yonishu kaunteya
murtayah sambhavanti yah
tasam brahma mahad yonir
aham bija-pradah pita

"It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kunti, are made possible by birth in this material nature and that I am the seed-giving father." (Gita 14.4) Krishna claims, "I am everyone's father." Therefore, He is very much anxious to make us peaceful, happy. Just as the father wants to see his son well situated and happy, Krishna wants to see every one of us happy and well situated. Therefore He comes sometimes. This is the purpose of Krishna's advent.

Taking Up Krishna's Mission

Those who are servants of Krishna, devotees of Krishna, should take up the mission of Krishna. That is Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's version.

yare dekha, tare kaha ‘krishna’-upadesha
amara ajnaya guru hana tara’ ei desha

"Instruct everyone to follow the orders of Lord Sri Krishna as they are given in the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam. In this way become a spiritual master and try to liberate everyone in this land." (Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya 7.128) Krishna-upadesha. Just try to preach what Krishna has said in the Bhagavad-gita. That is the duty of every Indian. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says,

bharata-bhumite haila manushya janma yara
janma sarthaka kari’ kara para-upakara

"One who has taken his birth as a human being in the land of India [Bharata-varsha] should make his life successful and work for the benefit of all other people." (Chaitanya-charitamrita, Adi 9.41) Indians are meant for para-upakara, welfare work. Indians are not meant for exploiting others. That is not Indians' business. Indian history is all about para-upakara. And formerly, people from all parts of the world used to come to India to learn what spiritual life is. But we are forgetting our own assets. How greatly callous we now are! Such a great movement, the Krishna consciousness movement, is going on all over the world, but our Indians are callous, our government is callous. They do not take interest. That is our misfortune. But it is Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's mission. He says that any Indian, if he's a human being, must make his life perfect by taking advantage of this Vedic literature and then distributing the knowledge all over the world. That is para-upakara.

India can do that. These young Europeans and Americans are appreciating the greatness of Krishna consciousness. Daily I get dozens of letters saying how they are benefited by this movement. Actually, that is the fact. It is giving life to the dead.

So I shall specially request the Indians, especially His Excellency, to kindly cooperate with this movement, and try to make your life and others' lives successful. That is the mission of Krishna and the reason for the advent of Krishna.

Thank you very much.