By His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness
Lecture given in Durban, South Africa, City Hall on October 7, 1975

The Krsna consciousness movement is not a new creation but is simply presenting the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita for the life benefit of the whole world.


Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you very much for your kindly participating in this great movement. This movement was not started by me. It was started long, long ago by Krishna Himself. First He spoke the philosophy of Bhagavad-gita to the sun-god. As it is stated in the Bhagavad-gita (4.1),

imam vivasvate yogam
proktavan aham avyayam
vivasvan manave prahur

manur ikshvakave ’bravit

“I instructed this imperishable science of yoga to the sun-god, Vivasvan, and Vivasvan instructed it to Manu, the father of mankind, and Manu in turn instructed it to Ikshvaku.” If we calculate the age of Manu, we can understand that Krishna spoke the philosophy of Bhagavad-gita to the sun-god, Vivasvan, at least forty million years ago. The name of the predominating deity in the sun planet is Vivasvan, his son is Vaivasvata Manu, and Manu’s son, Ikshvaku, is the original person in the dynasty Surya-vamsha, in which Lord Ramachandra appeared. So this Krishna consciousness movement is coming from a very, very distant past.

But Krishna said, evam parampara-praptam imam rajarshayo viduh: “Formerly the rajarshis, the saintly kings, used to receive this instruction through the chain of disciplic succession.” (Gita 4.2) That was the way of understanding Bhagavad-gita. Now five thousand years ago, when Krishna was talking with Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra, Arjuna was perplexed whether to fight or not, and just to inspire Arjuna to fight, Krishna spoke the Bhagavad-gita. And He said, “The parampara system of disciplic succession is now broken; therefore I am speaking to you so that people may learn from you the purport of this philosophy, Krishna consciousness.”

Five thousand years ago this philosophy was spoken to Arjuna, and we still have access to Krishna’s instruction. Unfortunately it is again being distorted, because we do not receive it through the parampara system. Instead we make inferences in our own way, and so it is again broken. Therefore, five hundred years ago, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taught Bhagavad-gita as a devotee. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is understood to be an incarnation of Krishna. Five thousand years ago, as Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He instructed as the order-giving master. Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam sharanam vraja: “Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me.” (Gita 18.66) But people misunderstood. Therefore this time, five hundred years ago, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Krishna Himself, appeared as a devotee of Krishna.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is Krishna. That is described in the authentic shastra, the Vedic scriptures:

krishna-varnam tvishakrishnam
yajnaih sankirtana prayair

yajanti hi su-medhasah

“In the age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the names of Krishna. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Krishna Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons, and confidential companions.” (Bhagavatam 11.5.32) This Krishna consciousness movement is Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s movement. And Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is Krishna Himself.

Krishna is very kind upon the conditioned souls. He is trying to elevate them to the real platform of Krishna consciousness again and again. But we are so stubborn that we are trying to forget Krishna again and again.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s Order to Indians

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in Bengal, in the district of Navadvip, about sixty-four miles north of Calcutta. You can learn about the teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu from our books Teachings of Lord Chaitanya and Chaitanya-charitamrita, which is seventeen volumes. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu spoke especially to the Indians:

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.” He says, “Anyone who has taken birth in India . . .” Bharata-bhumi, or India, is punya-bhumi, the pious land. In the shastra we find that even the demigods in the heavenly planets desire to take birth in India; India is so glorious. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission is that the first business of anyone who has taken birth as a human being in India is to make his life perfect by taking advantage of the Vedic knowledge, because it is available in India. So every Indian, especially the higher circles, namely the brahmanas, kshatriyas, and vaishyas – especially the brahmanas – it is their business to make their life perfect by studying the Vedic knowledge and then to distribute the knowledge all over the world. Because, so far as spiritual knowledge is concerned, outside India people have got very meager knowledge. Therefore Chaitanya Mahaprabhu requested that every Indian study the Vedic knowledge and distribute it throughout the world.

Para-upakara means welfare activity. Krishna consciousness is the best welfare activity in the world because people are in ignorance. Everyone, practically ninety-nine percent, at the present moment is under the bodily conception: “I am Indian,” “I am American,” “I am Hindu,” “I am Muslim.” That is ignorance. That will be discussed in the Bhagavad-gita very elaborately. So the question may be raised “How can I do activities for the welfare of the whole world?” Chaitanya Mahaprabhu encourages,

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

“Wherever you are staying, by My order you must become a guru.” (Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya 7.128)

“But I have no education. How can I become a guru? How can I instruct others?”

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says, “Yes, that I know. But take My order.”

“Then what shall I do?”

“Become a guru. You haven’t got to manufacture any philosophy. Simply instruct whatever Krishna has spoken. That’s all. Then you become a guru.”

Our request is, you are so many Indians living in this foreign country for generations, so take this instruction of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Because you are coming from India, it is a special request to you: “By the order of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, every one of you become a guru.”

You are staying here in South Africa. So preach as a guru. And what shall you preach? Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says that you haven’t got to invent anything. Krishna’s instruction is there in the Bhagavad-gita. Don’t distort it, but give it as it is. That’s your duty.

Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead

In the Bhagavad-gita it is clearly said that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Krishna Himself says,

aham sarvasya prabhavah
mattah sarvam pravartate
iti matva bhajante mam

budha bhava-samanvitah

“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” (Gita 10.8) This we have to understand, that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And He is accepted as such. Arjuna heard from Krishna about Himself, and he agreed:

param brahma param dhama
pavitram paramam bhavan
purusham shashvatam divyam

adi-devam ajam vibhum

“You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the ultimate abode, the purest, the Absolute Truth. You are the eternal, transcendental, original person, the unborn, the greatest.” (Gita 10.12) So Krishna is accepted as the Supreme Personality of Godhead by His direct disciple, Arjuna; He is accepted by Vyasadeva; He is accepted by Narada Muni; and recently, within two thousand years, He was accepted by all the great acharyas of India, like Sankaracharya, Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya, Vishnusvami; and lately, five hundred years ago, by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. So there is no doubt about Krishna’s being the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.3.28) it is confirmed, ete chamsha kalah pumsam krishnas tu bhagavan svayam: “The original Personality of Godhead is Krishna.” Similarly, in the hads, in
the Vedas, in the Brahma-samhita – if you take evidence from the shastras, everywhere you will find the same idea: krishnas tu bhagavan svayam. In the Brahma-samhita (5.1), written by Lord Brahma, he says in the beginning,

ishvarah paramah krishnah
anadir adir govindah


“Govinda, Krishna, is the cause of all causes. He is the primal cause, and He is the very form of eternity, knowledge, and bliss.” So from shastric evidences, from authentic evidences, from the acharyas, from Bhagavad-gita itself – everywhere you will find the confirmation: krishnas tu bhagavan svayam.

It is not difficult to take up Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission. Simply accept the instruction of Bhagavad-gita and try to preach it to whomever you meet. You may remain as a businessman, you may remain whatever you are, you may remain a family head, but instruct the advice of Krishna. This is our mission.

Krishna, the Supreme Teacher

The instruction of Krishna begins when Arjuna was very much perplexed about whether to fight. On the other side were his brother, his nephews, his son-in-law, his grandfather, his teacher. When he saw on the battlefield so many relatives, friends, and kinsmen, he was perplexed. He was very compassionate. He said, “Krishna, I am not going to fight.” But Arjuna also knew, “Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So my perplexity can be eradicated only by Krishna.” Therefore he submitted to Krishna, “I am in great perplexity.”

Everyone is in great perplexity. There is no doubt. Anyone in this material world is full of anxiety and perplexity. So it is not only Arjuna’s problem. It is the problem of everyone. If we want to solve the problems of life, we should accept Krishna as the supreme teacher. This is the instruction of Bhagavad-gita and Arjuna. Sishyas te ‘ham shadhi mam tvam prapannam: “My dear Krishna, now I am asking You to become my teacher and solve my problem.” (Gita 2.7)

Earlier in the Bhagavad-gita (2.9) Sanjaya, the narrator, said,

evam uktva hrishikesham
gudakeshah parantapah
na yotsya iti govindam

uktva tushnim babhuva ha

“Having spoken thus, Arjuna, chastiser of enemies, told Krishna, ‘Govinda, I shall not fight,’ and fell silent.” Sanjaya refers to Krishna by the name Hrishikesha. Hrishika means the senses, and isha means the master. Everyone has senses, and the master of those senses is Krishna. We are not the master. That we have to understand. I say, “This is my hand,” but if Krishna withdraws the hand’s power, I cannot act. We should understand in this way that none of our senses belong to us. They are given to us for proper use. Therefore, because they are given to us by the Supreme Lord, Krishna, the master of the senses, they should be used for Krishna. This is bhakti-yoga. We should know that although we have these senses, they have been given to us to use but they do not belong to us.

Therefore Krishna’s name is Hrishikesha. Hrishikena hrishikesha-sevanam bhaktir ucyate (Narada Pancaratra). Bhakti means to use your senses in the service of Krishna. At the present moment, under the condition of material nature, we are using our senses for our sense gratification. That is called the conditional stage. And we are becoming subjected to so many changes of circumstances in different bodies. We are creating a different situation by using the senses for our personal sense gratification, and we have become bound by the laws of nature. That is explained in the Bhagavad-gita (3.9). Yajnarthat karmano ’nyatra loko ’yam karma-bandhanah. Yajna, or yajna-purusha, means Vishnu. If you work for Krishna, then you are doing right; otherwise you become implicated. This is the teaching of Bhagavad-gita.

Now, Arjuna is a fighter, a soldier. He knows how to fight, that’s all. He’s not a Vedantist; he is not a brahmana; he is not a sannyasi. He is a grihastha, a householder. He appeared on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra to fight for political reasons. So he knew all this business, but he used his talent in the fighting art for Krishna. He did not want to fight. As a Vaishnava he is very kind. He said, “My brothers, my cousins, certainly they have insulted my wife. They have taken my kingdom by gambling and so many devices. I know that. Still, because they are my brothers, I don’t wish to kill them.” This is the Vaishnava’s attitude. But Krishna’s business is yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati (Gita 4.7). When there is injustice, it must be faced with fighting. That is Krishna’s version. So Arjuna, as a Vaishnava, did not like to fight. But Krishna, as the supreme mediator, desired the battle. That is also good for everything. Whatever Krishna does is good. “God is good.” There is nothing bad in what God does.

After Arjuna heard Bhagavad-gita very carefully, Krishna asked him, “Now I have explained to you the Bhagavad-gita, the spiritual knowledge. Now whatever you like, you can do.” Yathecchasi tatha kuru (Gita 18.63). Now it is up to you. You can decide not to fight. I have no objection, because you have a little independence. But My advice is that you should fight. Now I ask you what you are going to do.”

Arjuna replied, karishye vachanam tava (Gita 18.73): “Now I shall do it.” This is bhakti, to act according to the advice of the Supreme Lord.

Therefore we have to first of all establish our relationship with God. Like the relationship between a father and his son, our relationship with God already exists. Sometimes a son leaves home and forgets his father. Similarly, we are out of home. We have come from the spiritual world to the material world. We have forgotten our father. So we have to revive the relationship with our father, or God, or Krishna. That is the main business of human life.

The Business of Human Life

In species of life lower than the human being it is not possible to revive our old relationship with God. Therefore this is the greatest opportunity. After all, we are under the grip of material nature’s law. That is explained: tatha dehantara-praptih (Gita 2.13). According to our desire, we are creating the type of body that we will enter after death. The child is becoming a boy, the boy is becoming a young man, the young man is becoming a middle-aged man, and the middle-aged man is becoming an old man. What is next after the old body? Next is tatha dehantara-praptih: you have to accept another body. This is called the chain or the cycle of birth and death, or the transmigration of the soul. This is going on. Nobody wants to die. Nobody wants to change this body. But this is a problem. One should know it. That we are changing is the first instruction Krishna gave to Arjuna. Tatha dehantara-praptih.

This is the opportunity, human life. If we want to stop this repetition of birth and death under different obligations and different circumstances, we should take instruction from Krishna, try to understand Krishna – that is Bhagavad-gita – and make our life successful. We have come from God; we will go back to God if we simply understand Krishna, or God. This is the whole instruction of the Bhagavad-gita.

When Arjuna was perplexed, he asked, “How shall I kill the other side? Krishna, I am not going to fight.”

Krishna was smiling. He was thinking, “Arjuna is my friend, and he is so overwhelmed with material consciousness of life. He should not be lamenting like this.”

After Arjuna accepted Krishna as his teacher, his master, Krishna chastised him.

shri-bhagavan uvacha
ashochyan anvashochas tvam
prajna-vadamsh cha bhashase
gatasun agatasumsh cha

nanushochanti panditah

“The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: While speaking learned words, you are mourning for what is not worthy of grief. Those who are wise lament neither for the living nor for the dead.” (Gita 2.11) “My dear Arjuna, you talk just like a learned man.” Prajna-vadams means talking just like a learned man. “Unfortunately, you are not a learned man because you are lamenting for this body.” Krishna said, gatasun agatasumsh cha nanushocanti panditah: “Anyone who is learned does not lament for this body, whether it is in the living condition or the dead condition. You are talking like a learned man, but you are not a learned man.” This is the first instruction. Because Arjuna accepted Krishna, Krishna chastised him with harsh words: “You are not a pandita.

Now, just consider what is the position of this world. Everyone is taking care of the body. But Krishna said, gatasun agatasumsh cha nanushochanti panditah. The pandita, one who is learned, knows that he is not this body; he is soul. So our first business is to take care of the soul. And this human form of body is the opportunity for that. In the human form of body we can understand Bhagavad-gita, not in the dog’s body. That is not possible. So by evolution, we, the soul, pass from aquatic to plant, then insect, then bird, then beast, then human being, then civilized human being. In this civilized form of human being, if we do not take this knowledge of Bhagavad-gita personally given by the Lord Himself, then we are missing the point. This is the whole lesson of the Vedic literature, that the human form of life is meant for self-realization: “I am not this body. I am spirit soul. My business is different from simply taking care of the body.” This is human civilization.

Study This Movement Very Seriously

Therefore our Krishna consciousness movement is a very important movement. We request everyone to study this movement very seriously and make one’s life successful. And what is that success? Simply try to understand Krishna. Krishna is explaining Himself. When I speak of Krishna, everyone should know that Krishna means God. So if we simply try to understand Krishna, or God, in this life, then we become liberated. We become free from this material bondage.Tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so ’rjuna (Gita 4.9). This is the assurance given in the Bhagavad-gita. Janma karma cha me divyam evam yo vetti tattvatah (Gita 4.9). You should understand Krishna in truth. And there is no difficulty. Krishna is explaining Himself in the Bhagavad-gita.

Our only request is that all of you try to understand Bhagavad-gita as it is. Don’t interpret in a different way. Then you will understand Krishna. And as soon as you understand Krishna, you become free from this material bondage. We have to give up this body; that is certain. The cats and dogs will give up their body, and we’ll also give up our body. But before giving up this body, if we simply understand Krishna, then our life becomes successful. What is that success? After giving up this body we are not going to accept another material body. Then we will stand in our original, spiritual body.

The spiritual body is there within the body. Our mission is to come to the platform of our spiritual body. It is very simple – simply by understanding the instruction of Krishna. And Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has simplified it even more. He advises, “Chant the Hare Krishna mantra.”

harer nama harer nama
harer namaiva kevalam
kalau nasty eva nasty eva

nasty eva gatir anyatha

“In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy the only means of deliverance is chanting the holy name of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way. There is no other way.” (Brihan-naradiya Purana 3.8.126) In this age we are fallen, so the method given is very simplified.

In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (12.3.51) it is said,

kaler dosha-nidhe rajann
asti hy eko mahan gunah
kirtanad eva krishnasya

mukta-sangah param vrajet

“My dear King, although Kali-yuga is an ocean of faults, there is still one good quality about this age: Simply by chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, one can become free from material bondage and be promoted to the transcendental kingdom.” This age is called Kali, the age of misunderstanding and fighting. In this age there are many faults in human society. It is just like an ocean of faults. But there is one great opportunity. What is that? If one takes to the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra, he becomes eligible to go back home, back to Godhead.

Our Krishna consciousness movement is giving you this information, just as a peon delivers a letter from a friend. We are trying to deliver to you the message of Krishna. Kindly accept it and use it.

Thank you very much. Hare Krishna.