By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Lecture given in New Vrindaban, West Virginia, on June 25, 1976
With practice, we can become free from limited affection centered on the body and can then realize the ideal of loving everyone.
“What person too attached to household life due to being unable to control his senses can liberate himself? An attached householder is bound very strongly by ropes of affection for his family [wife, children, and other relatives].” – Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.6.9
This material life is our bondage. We may be in gold handcuffs or iron handcuffs, but that doesn’t matter; in this material world we are handcuffed, imprisoned. Our aim of life should be to get out of this material bondage, or prison house. When Prahlada Maharaja, who is speaking this verse, was asked by his father what was the best education he had received from his teachers, he replied hitvatma-patam griham andha-kupam vanam gato yad dharim ashrayeta (Bhagavatam 7.5.5). Family life, Prahlada replied, is andha-kupam, a dark well. If a man has fallen into a dark well, it is sure death, atma-ghatam. Therefore, one should give up that life and take shelter of the Lord.
Unless we are very cautious, family life is very dangerous for spiritual advancement. Therefore, according to the Vedic system, first of all one is trained as a brahmachari so as not to be attached to sex life. That is brahmachari life – celibacy. These boys here, these children, can be trained. The first training is brahmacharya. They are innocent. As you train them they will learn. To train the children as brahmacharis is essential. The purpose is that they may not to be attached to sex life.
Sex life is allowed only to beget children. The Vedic injunction is that a man accepts a wife only to have good children. In the Bhagavad-gita (7.11) Krishna says, dharmaviruddho . . . kamo ’smi: “I am sex life when it is not against the religious principle.”
According to the Vedic system, sex life is practically denied. But because we are now in the conditioned state, it is very difficult for us to completely deny sex life, so there is regulation. First of all the training is no sex life. If a young man can remain without sex life – brahmachari – that is very good. But if he cannot, then he can get married and live with a wife, but have sex only for progeny, not for sense enjoyment. If the man sticks to one wife and the wife sticks to one man, that is real married life. Then the husband is called a brahmachari even though he’s a grihastha, and the wife is called chaste.
This is human civilization. Formerly, if a man lived for a hundred years he would spend twenty-five years as a brahmachari, twenty-five years as a grihastha, twenty-five years as a vanaprastha, and the last twenty-five years as a sannyasi. In three of these ashramas there is no sex life: brahmachari, vanaprastha, and sannyasa. Only the grihastha is allowed sex life. And that is restricted to begetting children.
The Value of Practice
So in the Vedic civilization, sex life is actually denied. It is allowed only in grihastha life, with restriction. Not that I have sex whenever I like. No. That is bondage. As long as we’re attached to sex life, then we have to accept a material body. We should remember this. People are not educated to know the value of life, how life should be conducted, what is the aim of life. But everything can be done in accordance with proper human life. It is not difficult; it just requires practice. For example, you can practice lifting by taking a small calf on your back. You lift it as it grows, and when the calf becomes a very big bull, you can lift it. But all of a sudden, if you want to lift a big bull on your shoulder, that is not possible. But if you practice to take the little calf from the very beginning, it grows and your strength grows. It is a gradual process.
The whole training in Vedic civilization is to avoid sex life. That is liberation. If I desire sex life some way or other, then I will have to take birth again in this material world to satisfy that desire. So the training should be how to give up this idea. And it is possible. If training is there, then it is possible. That is the instruction of Prahlada Maharaja: kaumara acaret prajno dharman bhagavatan iha (Bhagavatam 7.6.1). From the very beginning, children should be trained up in this line. That is the responsibility of the father and mother. It is the proper use of their affection.
But today the father and mother do not know the aim of life. Nor are they trained in how to train their children. But in this age, although training children is a very difficult task, at least if we teach our children to chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, then everything is possible. That is the facility of this age. The children will be gradually trained to the highest perfection. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s benediction is there. Iha haite sarva-siddhi haibe sabara: Simply by chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, you’ll get perfection of life. (Chaitanya-bhagavata, Madhya 23.78)
So don’t be afraid and think, “Because we are in this age, we cannot be trained; it is very difficult.” We can very easily chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. That is a special concession of this age. These children were dancing and chanting. It is the duty of the parents to train the children in such a way that they get liberty in this very life. The father and mother should think, “This child has come to us. Now let us train him in such a way that he will get liberty, no more birth and death.” That is the real responsibility of the father and mother. Everyone’s duty should be to relieve the living entities from the clutches of birth and death. That is ideal civilization.
The whole training is how to control the senses, and the most powerful sense is the tongue. Sense control begins with the tongue. Bhaktivinoda Thakura gives a description: sharira avidya-jala jodendriya tahe kal. This body is the cage. We are in the prison of this material world. How are we imprisoned? We have been given a material body. That is imprisonment. And we are very happy to keep the body very comfortable without knowing the aim of life. That is avidya-jal, a network of ignorance. And the senses are our greatest enemies. Unless we control the senses, we are put into this network of ignorance. And out of all the senses, Bhaktivinoda Thakura says the tongue is very greedy. Ta’ra madhye jihva ati, lobhamoy sudurmati. To control the senses means to begin with controlling the tongue. That is also a very difficult job. Therefore, to control the tongue the best thing is to take krishna-prasadam. First of all, offer the food to Krishna, and then take it. If we vow, “I shall not eat anything not offered to Krishna,” that will help us.
Spiritual life begins with the tongue. You should restrict your tongue not to talk uselessly. You should simply talk of Krishna or chant Hare Krishna, read Krishna books, and when you are hungry, take krishna-prasadam. Then it will be possible to control the tongue. And if you can control the tongue, then you can control the other senses very easily.
Krishna Is Present
Krishna is so kind that from Vaikuntha He has come here to this remote village in America. He’s so kind – just to accept your service He has come here as the deity. Don’t think, “Here is a doll.” No. Krishna. Krishna, on the request of the devotee, has come. You should always remember this: “Here is Krishna personally present.”
When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu saw Jagannatha at the Puri temple, He immediately fainted. “Here is My Lord.” That mood requires advanced understanding. But the preliminary understanding is “Here is Krishna.” Don’t think that the deity is a doll. Even if you think that the deity is a doll, still Krishna has come to you in the form of a doll so that you can see Him. Otherwise, Krishna is always present everywhere, but we cannot see Him. As the deity, Krishna allows you to handle Him. Krishna is everything, and He is so kind that He has come here to be seen by you, to be touched by you, to be dressed by you, to be decorated by you, to accept whatever you nicely offer with bhakti.
Krishna is not hungry. Krishna has no food in His Vaikuntha? No, He has food. He is supplying everyone food. So He has everything. We should always remember that He has kindly come for our benefit, so let us be always cautious and very respectful and offer the nicest prasadam, prepared with great attention.
In this way, if we practice, then our life becomes very successful. Otherwise, we shall be very much attached, because we are ajitendriya – we cannot control our senses. That is very difficult. But if we take krishna-prasadam, although apparently we are greedy for eating, by taking krishna-prasadam our greediness is neutralized.
Sneha means affection. Everyone has affection. The cats and dogs also have affection. But our affection is wrongly placed. We are affectionate for the skin, for the body. This is wrong affection. Real affection is for the soul. That we do not know. We have no information. We love our child – that is very good. We don’t love the soul, however, but the body. If your father is dead, you cry, “Father has gone away.” Why do you think your father has gone away? The body, which you loved, is lying there. We do not know whom to love. If we want to actually love, let us love the soul.
To love means to be concerned for the other person’s benefit. That is real love. I love you for your benefit; you love me for my benefit. If I so-called love you for my benefit, that is lust. In this material world there cannot be love. It is not possible, because the so-called love is for our own sense gratification. A young boy loves a young woman for his sense gratification, not for her sense gratification. Similarly, she also. In this material world this cheating is going on. I want to satisfy my lusty desires, but it is going on in the name of love.
There cannot be any love in this material world, because love is between spirit and spirit. But if we try to love the Supreme Spirit, Krishna, then we shall understand how our love can be spread. When we come to the spiritual platform, then actual love begins. If we can love Krishna, then, through Krishna’s love, we can expand our love for everyone. It is like when you water the root of a tree, the energy is expanded to the leaves, to the flowers, to the branches. If we actually love Krishna, then we can expand our love.
We are trying to spread this Krishna consciousness movement all over the world because of love. Someway or other we have come in contact with Krishna. We understand that people are in maya, or in ignorance, and they do not know how to become happy. So our little attempt is “Let them become Krishna conscious.” This is being done out of love. Everyone is suffering for want of Krishna consciousness; therefore we are taking so much trouble. Krishna wants to deliver them, and if we work on behalf of Krishna, that is love. We love Krishna; therefore we work on His behalf.
Everything is explained in our books. Our duty is to accept these books rightly and utilize them properly to advance in Krishna consciousness. Otherwise we shall be on a platform of false love. We know the platform of false love: today a couple is married, but because their love is on the false platform, tomorrow they divorce. That is not love. That kind of love has no meaning; that kind of affection has no meaning. It is simply bondage.
Our aim is to become free from this material bondage. Real sneha – real affection, real love – should be spread. And that can be done through Krishna consciousness. Otherwise, it is all false.
Maya is so strong that we are taking this false thing as reality. It is very difficult to give it up. That is explained by Krishna:
“This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.” (Gita 7.14) This – surrender to God – is the only religion. If we become pure devotees of Krishna, then our love will be extended to everyone. Not only to my society, but to everyone. It is not that one thinks, “These are my children; those are others’ children.” No. All children. All human beings. Not only my countrymen – all other countrymen. Not only human beings, but even animals. That is sneha. It is not that I think, “I am safe, and let the animals be killed in the slaughterhouse.” No, that is not love. Love means for everyone.
Lord Krishna says, samah sarveshu bhuteshu – equality for all living entities. That is real love. That is real concern, Krishna consciousness. A lover of Krishna will hesitate to kill even one ant. This child – if I like I can kill him without difficulty. But does it mean that I shall kill him? No. Similarly anyone can kill a small ant. But the ant is a living entity, part and parcel of Krishna, and therefore he should not be unnecessarily killed.
We should be careful and not think, “Trample over the ants and let them be killed.” No. Everything should be carefully done. Of course, we cannot stop this, but we should be careful, and if it is done, then if we remain Krishna conscious Krishna will excuse us. Therefore, if we walk, we shall walk for Krishna. Then if some ants are killed – not knowingly, but unknowingly – then we are untouched by the sinful activities. Otherwise, it is immediately noted: “Here is a man who has killed an ant.” Nature’s law is enforced so minutely. Every minute the account is kept. But if you remain in the business of Krishna consciousness, then you are excused for such accidental killing.
Otherwise, everyone is becoming obliged. If I take one cent from you, I have to pay you, say, four cents – with interest, compound interest. This is the law. We are taking money from others. Unless we spend it for Krishna, then we shall be obliged to return that money.
We have so many obligations, beginning with obligation to the demigods and the great sages of the past. The great sage Vyasadeva has given us this literature. So we are obliged to him, indebted to him. We are indebted to the demigods. The sun is giving sunshine, at night the moon is giving its shine, and the cloud, controlled by Indra, is giving us water. So we are all indebted. Therefore there are many types of yajnas, or sacrifices, mentioned in the Vedic literature. But if you perform one yajna – the sankirtana-yajna of chanting Krishna’s names – then you become cleared of all debts. In this way we have to execute the Krishna consciousness movement very carefully, and the simple process is to chant Hare Krishna.
Thank you very much.