Srila Prabhupada explains that the purpose of the Krishna consciousness movement is to know the real problems of life and how to solve them.
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada</ br>
Lecture given in Baltimore on July 7, 1976
Sanatana Goswami asks Chaitanya Mahaprabhu the questions that every human being should be asking.

‘ke ami’, ‘kene amaya jare tapa-traya’ iha nahi jani—‘kemane hita haya’

“Who am I? Why do the threefold miseries always give me trouble? If I do not know this, how can I be benefited?” – Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita, Madhya-lila 20.102

Ke ami: “Who am I?” Now, suppose I am sitting here, you are all sitting here, and some fly comes and disturbs us. We have got daily experience of this. He’ll disturb. I want to get him out, and he comes again, stops on my mouth, and creates some disturbance. A fly, a small fly, not a very big man, but after all, this is a disturbance. I don’t like it, but the fly will come and disturb me.

But no one is asking, “Why is this fly coming and disturbing me? I do not want it.” This is a sane man’s inquiry. But there is no such inquiry.

There are three kinds of miserable conditions, jare tapa-traya. One is called adhyatmika, another is called adhidaivika, and another is called adhibhautika. Adhyatmika means pertaining to the body and mind. All of a sudden my mind is not in order. Suppose a friend has come to talk with me, but I refuse to talk; I am not in the mood. We have got this experience. “I cannot talk with you. My mind is not in order.” This is happening daily, every moment. This is called adhyatmika. I did not want it, but it has come. All of a sudden I am feeling some headache. I did not want it, but it came. This is our practical experience.

So these kinds of troubles I don’t want. They are always there. You are suffering, either adhyatmika, from your your own body and mind; adhibhautika, from other living entities; or adhidaivika, from nature. In this material world the suffering is going on. We are thinking we are very safe running in the car, but at any moment there may be an accident. At any moment. I do not want it – my life may go.

This is a sane man’s view: “So many things – I do not want them, but they are forced upon me, and I do not know how to get out of them.”

No Right to Kill

The fly is coming, disturbing. I can simply make some spray to kill it, as you do generally. That killing is another risk, but those who do not know, they kill it. You have no right to kill. Suppose a man is disturbing you. If you kill him, you become a murderer and you’ll be taken into the court and you’ll be punished. And if you say, “This man was disturbing me; therefore I have killed him,” that is no excuse. You have killed this man; you must suffer.

This is what we ordinarily find in our general living condition. So in the state of the Supreme Lord, you cannot kill even a mosquito or even a fly. You’ll be punished. Because God says, “Everyone is My child.” Suppose I have got so many brothers. One brother is a fool, so he creates some disturbances for me, and I kill him. Will the father be happy? If you say, “Father, your child was disturbing me. I have killed him,” the father will be sorry. “Why have you killed him?” This is natural. Because one child of the father is a fool, the other, intelligent child cannot kill him. Then the father will be angry or sorry.

We do not know these things, so we are acting irresponsibly. Therefore Sanatana Goswami has gone to his spiritual master, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and he’s asking these questions. These are common and also very grave questions. “In this material world, I do not want so many things, but they are forced upon me. Why?” This is human life, to inquire why. The modern theory is that we are in a struggle for existence. There are troubles, and you try to save yourself, and there is survival of the fittest. But nobody is fit, nobody survives. Nobody wants death. We are talking of survival; who can escape death? There is no possibility.

There are so many slogans, but actually there is no remedy. There is a remedy, but we do not know it. That is the defect of modern civilization. There is a remedy. Otherwise, why are we discussing this shastra, scripture? Why is Sanatana Goswami putting these questions? Just to get the solution from the spiritual master. Otherwise there was no need of putting these questions. “What is my position? Why do these threefold miseries always give me trouble? Why do I die? Why do I become old? Why do I become diseased? Why do I have to take birth?”

People are simply struggling for existence. Therefore the woman becomes pregnant, and because child-bearing is troublesome she is killing the child. This is going on. But that means she is implicating herself again in regard to her next life. This is going on.

Conditional Independence

At the present moment, nobody asks this question – Who am I? But this is a very intelligent question. We are completely under the laws of nature.

prakriteh kriyamanani
gunaih karmani sarvashah
kartaham iti manyate


“The spirit soul bewildered by the influence of false ego thinks himself the doer of activities that are in actuality carried out by the three modes of material nature.” (Gita 3.27) We are not independent. In the state, in your country, although you have observed the Independence Day ceremony, you are not independent. The law says “Keep to the right.” If you go to the left, immediately your independence is finished. You’ll be punished.

This so-called independence is conditional. It is not absolute independence. If you want absolute independence then you have to go back home, back to Godhead. This is Krishna consciousness. We are hankering after independence, but as long as we remain in this material world there is no question of independence. So the intelligent man thinks, “I want independence from so many things, but I am not independent. I am forced to accept them. Then where is my independence?” When this question arises, then one is a human being. Otherwise, he’s as good as the cats and dogs, who cannot inquire. When an animal is being sent to the slaughterhouse, he cannot say, “Why am I here? What have I done? Why are you sending me to the slaughterhouse?” He cannot protest. Even if he protests, nobody hears him. Nobody hears. He protests by crying, by screaming, but we have made our own theories: “This crying is nothing. The animal has no soul. We can kill it.”

Atmosphere of Gross Ignorance

In this way the whole world is going on under an atmosphere of gross ignorance. There are so many things to be discussed. We do not know what are the problems of life, how life comes into existence . . . We see a child is born, but we do not know wherefrom the life came. The lump of matter of the child is not the child. If the child takes birth dead, without life, it has no value; it is a lump of matter. You throw it away immediately. But if he has life, then we take care of him, we raise him, give him food, give him breast milk, and so much care. Life is so important. But nobody cares to know what this life is, where it begins, wherefrom it comes, what is the destiny. No questions.

We are seeing every night so many planets. We are making tiny attempts to go to the moon or some other planet, but we see there are so many millions and trillions of planets. What about their situation? We have made our calculation from here that they are simply decoration; there is no life. No, there is life. There is life, but we do not know it. Yesterday our scientist Dr. Svarupa Damodara was saying that in the history of human society these two things are unknown: what is the beginning of life and what are these planetary systems.

We are after knowledge, but so many things are unknown to us. Therefore Sanatana Goswami is teaching us by his practical behavior to approach the spiritual master, and he is putting his case: “I am suffering in this way.” He was a government minister; there was no question of suffering. He was very well situated. He has already explained, gramya-vyavahare pandita, tai satya mani. “There are so many questions I cannot answer. There is no solution. Still, people say that I am a very learned man, and I accept it foolishly.”

Nobody is a learned man unless he goes to a guru. Tad-vijnanartham sa gurum evabhigacchet: “To understand these things properly, one must humbly approach, with firewood in hand, a spiritual master who is learned in the Vedas and firmly devoted to the Absolute Truth.” (Mundaka Upanishad 1.2.12)

Therefore the Vedic injunction is that if you want to be learned, then go to a guru – a bona fide guru, not the so-called guru.

tad viddhi pranipatena
pariprashnena sevaya
upadekshyanti te jnanam
jnaninas tattva-darshinah


“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.” (Gita 4.34) Guru means one who has seen the Absolute Truth. That is guru. Tattva-darshinah. Tattva means the Absolute Truth, and darshinah, one who has seen.

The Real Problem and How to Solve It

Our Krishna consciousness movement is for this purpose, to see the Absolute Truth, to understand the Absolute Truth, to know the problems of life and how to make a solution to them. These things are our subject matter. Our subject matter is not material things, that somehow or another you get a car and a good apartment and a good wife and then all your problems are solved. No. That is not the solution to problems. The real problem is how to stop your death. That is the real problem. But because it is a very difficult subject matter, nobody touches it. “Oh, death – we shall peacefully die.” But nobody peacefully dies. If I take a dagger and I say, “Now die peacefully,” the whole peaceful condition is finished immediately. He will cry. So if somebody says, “I will die peacefully,” this is nonsense. Nobody dies peacefully; that is not possible.

Therefore death is a problem. Birth is also a problem. Nobody is peaceful while within the womb of the mother. It is a packed-up, airtight condition, and then nowadays there is also the risk of being killed. So there is no question of peacefulness, whether at birth or death. And then old age. I am an old man, and I have got so many troubles. And everyone has got experience of disease. Even a headache is sufficient to give you trouble. The real problem is this: birth, death, old age, and disease. That is the statement given by Krishna when listing items of knowledge, janma-mrityu-jara-vyadhi-duhkha-doshanudarshanam: “the perception of the evil of birth, death, old age and disease.” (Gita 13.9) If you are intelligent, you should regard these four problems of life as very dangerous.

People have no knowledge; therefore they avoid these questions. But we take up these questions very seriously. That is the difference between other movements and the Krishna consciousness movement. Our movement is how to solve these problems. The shastra says that if you cannot solve these problems for your children, if you cannot protect your children from imminent death and the repetition of birth, then don’t become a father, don’t become a mother. This is the shastra’s injunction. If you are actually a father or mother, you should give your children such educational knowledge that this will be their last birth. Next they’ll not have any such body subjected to birth and death.

That is possible. Bhagavad-gita (4.9) says,

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.” If you take to Krishna consciousness, if you simply try to understand Krishna, then the whole problem is solved. What is the problem solved? Tyaktva deham. We have to give up this body. Because it is a material body, you have to give it up. But for those who are in Krishna consciousness, after giving up this body there will not be another material body: tyaktva deham punar janma naiti. Punar janma means “next birth.” If you accept a material body, then the question of your next birth is there. But if you remain in your spiritual body, there is no question of a next birth. That is spiritual salvation, or liberation. If you remain in your spiritual body, then you go back home, back to Godhead.

Krishna and Krishna’s body are identical and completely spiritual. The kingdom of God is also spiritual, and you can go there and live there eternally. Krishna says, yad gatva na nivartante tad dhamam paramam mama: “One who reaches My abode never returns to this material world.” (Gita 15.6) That place where going you do not come back to this material world is the supreme abode of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Chant “Jaya Sacinandana!”

This benediction is offered by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who has very kindly come here – Nitai-Gaura. So take advantage of His mercy. You are very fortunate that Nitai-Gaura are here. If you simply chant “Nitai-Gaura” and dance, then you’ll become happy. There is no difficulty. And you are chanting “Jaya Sacinandana!” This simple chanting of “Jaya Sacinandana!” “Hare Krishna!” – this chanting and dancing – is recommended in this age.

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)

It is not that I am manufacturing this idea. It is the injunction of the shastra. In this age, simply by chanting and dancing, yajnaih sankirtanair prayaih, you get complete spiritual service.

I am very glad that you are taking care of Nitai-Gaura so nicely. They are so nicely dressed. Continue these activities, and even if you cannot do anything, simply chant Hare Krishna and dance. And chant “Jaya Sacinandana!” That will make your life perfect.

Thank you very much.