Srila Prabhupada explains how we – the soul – are bound to this world of suffering by karmic knots and how we can break free.
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Our attempts at happiness in the material world keep us bound to repeated suffering, but there is a way out.
“Thus the knots of the heart and all misgivings are cut to pieces. The chain of fruitive actions, or karma, is terminated when one sees one’s self and one’s master.” – Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.21
Bhidyate means “cut into pieces.” What is cut? The knot. Hridaya-granthi. Hridaya means heart, and granthi means knot. Everyone’s heart has a knot. What is that knot? The knot is sex. Pumsah striya mithuni-bhavam etam (Bhagavatam 5.5.8). This is the knot. A man wants to have a woman; a woman wants to have a man. This they are searching after. And some way or other if they unite, the knot becomes tied up very strong. Then as soon as the knot is there, there is a house, then land, then children, then friends, then money. In this way, one after another, we become knotted in so many things. If you want to make a knot tight, you make one knot, then another knot, another knot, another knot, another knot – to make it secure.
This is our position. In this material world we are knotted in so many ways, and we are creating more knots. So we have to cut these knots. We are bound up in this material life by so many knots. But we Hare Krishna people have begun the process of cutting the knots:
“With sword in hand, intelligent men cut through the binding knots of reactionary work [karma] by remembering the Personality of Godhead. Therefore, who will not pay attention to His message?” (Bhagavatam 1.2.15)
These knots are there. The whole world is working so hard on account of being knotted in so many ways. But if you take this sword of Krishna consciousness and carefully work, then all these knots will be cut. You will become free.
Krishna Gives Us What We Want
The living entity, the soul, is bound by the subtle body and the gross body on account of these knots, these attachments. Krishna is giving us the facilities we want. If you want a human body, you get it. If you want an animal body, you get it. If you want a tiger’s body, you get it. If you want Brahma’s body, a demigod’s body, you get it. That is going on. God is within you, and you are hankering after something, and God is noting down: “All right.” Even if you forget, He’ll give it to you. “You wanted this facility. Now here it is. You can take it.” Krishna is so kind.
We are being harassed by getting these different types of body and engagements according to the body. That we can understand. We are not happy, because our main business is sense gratification and we cannot enjoy all these senses fully in one kind of body. There is some defect. We are trying to gratify our senses by flying to another planet, the moon planet. This is sense gratification. We are meant for this planet. We are bound up by our condition. Artificially we are trying to go there, and we are making so many plans: “There will be an intermediate station, and the petrol will be carried from here,” and this and that. So many things. Simply spending money. Just childish. Children spoil their time and energy in certain kinds of playing. Similarly, this is going on, because it is sense gratification, that’s all. Simply sense gratification. “Let us go and see how it is, this moon planet.” You have no business there. You cannot do anything there. You cannot live there, but still, “Let us go, let us go.” And spend all the taxpayers’ money. Spend like water. This is going on.
If you actually want to go to the moon planet, there is a clear process. A long time ago – I think sometime in 1960 – I wrote the book Easy Journey to Other Planets.
So one gentleman met me: “Sir, your book, Easy Journey . . . So we shall go there?”
“Yes, we shall go.”
“And again I shall come back?”
“No. No coming back.” [Chuckles.]
So he replied, “Then what is the use of going?”
That means he wants to go only for sense gratification. He wants to go to the moon or any planet, come back, and boast amongst his friends, “You see, I have gone.” [Laughter.]
That is his business. Actually, he doesn’t want to go there, nor has he got the power to go, but he wants to satisfy his senses. “I shall go there and come back and show my very swollen chest – ‘I have gone to the moon.'”
One Russian went to outer space, and he was greeted all over the world. He went to India also. Our rascal leaders greeted him, as did Khrushchev and others in his country. When he was in space rounding the earth, he was trying to see, “Where is my Russia? Where is my Moscow?”
So the attraction is here, in Moscow. There is a proverb: The vulture goes very high, three miles, four miles high. But the aim is “Where is a dead body?” He’s looking forward. “Where is a dead body?” The aim is not very good. He’s looking for some dead corpse to eat. That is his business. But he has gone very high, four miles high.
Tightening the Knot
Similarly, the aim of all these rascal so-called scientists is how to tighten this knot of material existence, and they are trying to become so many things. You see? Hridaya-granthi. Real attachment is here. For the hog the real attachment is stool. But he’s getting very fat. “Oh, I am so happy.” You see? This is going on.
Nature is very clever. Just to make you attached to stool, she gives you a certain type of body, a hog’s body. You become very pleased: “Oh, I am so happy. I am living in heaven.”
One time, actually, Indra, the king of heaven, was cursed to become a hog, and he became a hog. He had a wife and many kiddies and was living in a filthy place, eating stool. Brahma came to him because in his absence the management in the heavenly kingdom was not going nicely.
Brahma requested, “Indra, now please come with me.”
“Where shall I go, sir?”
“What is that? I cannot go. I have responsibilities. I have my wife, my children, and I am happy here. I do not know what heaven is.”
This is attachment. We are canvassing, “Please come with us. Let us go.” Bhaktivinoda Thakura writes in one song, radha-krishna bolo, sange calo, ei-matra bhikha cai: “Kindly chant ‘Radha and Krishna’ and come with me. We are going back home, back to Godhead.” Nobody is interested. “What is this ‘Radha-Krishna’ nonsense? We are very happy here.” That is the knot.
Even if you explain, “Oh, here is Radha-Krishna. See how nicely They’re dressed and how They enjoy. Just see Their dancing,” they don’t care for it.
“Oh, I am very happy here. Why shall I go to Goloka Vrindavana?”
“You will not be able to stay here.”
“Oh, that’s all right. As long as I can stay let me enjoy this stool.”
That’s all. Attachment. This is called attachment. The attachment is so strong that even if you explain, “You will go back home, back to Godhead. Your father is Krishna, all-powerful. You can enjoy blissful life, eternal life there,” they reply, “No. It is better here.”
Become Spiritually Advanced
But if people take to this Krishna consciousness movement seriously, they can become spiritually advanced. The process is shrinvatam sva-kathah krishnah (Bhagavatam 1.2.17): Simply hear about Krishna, as we are doing. Then gradually you come to the platform of goodness, and the lower modes of material nature, namely ignorance and passion, cannot disturb you. You become situated in goodness. And then gradually this stage comes: evam prasanna-manaso bhagavad-bhakti yogatah (Bhagavatam 1.2.20). You become engladdened, you become joyful, by discharging devotional service. And you will no longer be interested in this rascal life of material existence. Bhidyate hridaya-granthih.
Dhruva Maharaja wanted the kingdom of his father, but actually when he saw Lord Vishnu before him, he said, “Sir, I do not want anything. My dear Lord, I no longer have any aspiration for this kingdom or that kingdom.” This position comes. It is just like that.
At first you are hungry, but if you are given food when your belly is filled up, you will automatically say, “No, no, I don’t want anything.” Krishna consciousness is like that. Actually, because I am a spirit soul and you are a spirit soul, we don’t want to eat. We have no need to eat. The need or desire to eat is our material hankering. In order to maintain this body, we require some material things to eat. Otherwise, as spiritual soul, we don’t want to eat anything. There is nothing to be eaten.
Therefore the eating propensities should be satisfied by eating Krishna’s prasadam, so that you gradually become spiritualized and your eating propensities may diminish. Our necessities are sleeping, eating, and sex enjoyment. But these can be conquered, because in spiritual life there is no need of eating, no need of sleeping.
This Krishna consciousness, as we have discussed, will gradually bring you to that stage where there is no longer the knot of the material attachment. Bhidyat hridaya-granthish chidyante sarva-samshayah. We are speaking, “You are not this body; you are the soul,” but people cannot understand. They are in doubt. “Oh, how is it that I am a soul? I am this body.” But as soon as you come perfectly in spiritual consciousness, or Krishna consciousness, the doubts will be over: “I am a spirit soul. I am an eternal servant of Krishna.” That realization will be fixed.
We are bound up by karma acting. In this life I am acting in such a way that I am preparing my next life. Again, in the next life, I shall act in such a way that I shall prepare my next life. In this way, one after another, one after another, one after another. But if we take to Krishna consciousness and simply act for Krishna, there will be no more karma-bandhana, bondage of karma. Then that “one after another” will be finished.
In the Brahma-samhita it is said, “For those who have taken to Krishna consciousness, the resultant action of their karma is stopped.” How? Krishna gives you assurance in the Bhagavad-gita (18.66): aham tvam sarva-papebhyo mokshayishyami: “I shall give you protection from all kinds of resultant actions of your sinful life. Just surrender to Me.” Krishna can do everything. A king can excuse you. By law you may be condemned to death, but if you appeal to the supreme executive, the king or the president, if he likes he can excuse you.
Similarly, by nature’s law we cannot be freed from the resultant actions of our sinful life. That is not possible. But if Krishna desires, if Krishna is pleased with you, He can excuse you. Because when you are Krishna conscious, you’ll always see Krishna within the mind, within the heart. That very seeing is immunity from all sinful activities. Then you become free – you go back home, back to Godhead.
Thank you very much.